101 Bulldogs: A Centennial Celebration

Four girls try to match the mascot's smile in this shot from 1956.
Four girls try to match the mascot’s smile in this shot from 1956.

Football season is upon us and visions of our trusty mascot are everywhere to spur on school spirit. The bulldog is proudly displayed on uniforms, t-shirts, and collectible cups – even spray painted on the center of the field. The costumed Spike runs, jumps, and cajoles the crowds to cheer louder. We even have our own live mascot, Rex, who parades about during Homecoming, eager for belly rubs and treats.

It’s no surprise, then, that Samford’s best friend’s makeover is a weighty subject. As a celebration of the school’s 175th anniversary and part of Samford’s re-branding process, a new design of the Crimson Bulldog is being released today and tomorrow in special viewing sessions across campus. While you’re waiting eagerly to see the new canine face of Samford, take some time to learn about the reason behind our mascot and the stories it holds.

A 1920 Entre Nous boasts this cartoon of a bulldog for a title paper.
A 1920 Entre Nous boasts this cartoon of a bulldog for a title paper.

It all began in December of 1916, when the Crimson Bulldogs won out over the Baptist Bears in a school-wide vote. This decision may have been made in part because of Howard College’s then-arch rival, Birmingham Southern College, who championed themselves as the Panthers. In fact, Howard College used to be more feline friendly, playing as the Baptist Tigers several years prior to the vote until a quickly-growing school called Auburn came onto the college-football scene.

From there, it was love at first sight. The new mascot appeared everywhere, from the title pages of the Entre Nous and the cover of the student handbook to cameos with cheerleaders and sprints up and down the field during games. The image was so important that a stuffed felt bulldog was one of the few objects walked over from the old campus in East Lake to Homewood to represent the Howard spirit. Myralyn Allgood, alumna of 1961, recalls picking up the mascot for football games from the president’s house:

[The Wrights] were at every event, and they kept our mascot.  The Duke, he was called, the Duke of Samford, he was a bulldog. He lived at their house.  So my job before every football game was to go get him and bring him.  And we ran out on the field, and I got to take Duke, and he was always chewing on my socks.  I almost fell over him several times.  But it’s just that kind of relationship.

However, there’s no history without tragedy, and it struck during Billy Gamble’s time as superintendent of the physical plant on campus in the 1970s. He relates the story below:

Duke takes a rest from his job of encouraging the students and team.
Duke takes a rest from his job of inspiring the students and the team.

We had a bulldog always as the mascot of Samford University, and [Duke], I believe, was the name of the bulldog that was the current mascot, but he was getting kind of old. And somehow or other, somebody had donated another brand new young bulldog to take his place. And in the middle of a football game, we were going to have the change of the guard . . . it was early in August, or maybe September, but the day was hot, and the dog was dry… And finally by the time the sun went down, they carried old Beauregard back down to his lot up on the Wright’s. Sunday morning, before I could go to church, I had a call that said Beauregard died from heat stroke … And she wondered if I could get somebody from the Physical Plant and come by and get him.  So . . . me and Curt Stevens went to the Wright’s.  By the Physical Plant we found an old footlocker which made an excellent coffin for Beauregard. We went up and behind their garage or somewhere up there, and we dug a fitting grave for Beauregard . . . . We were ready to throw the first dirt back on top of the coffin when Mrs. Wright and Dr. Wright came out to hold a little service. And Dr. Wright made a very appropriate prayer and wished Beauregard well in dog heaven . . . . 

Fortunately, this tragic accident has never happened since, and the lineage of bulldogs continues today with Rex, who ascended to his rank in 2011 after his predecessor, Libby, retired. Libby was the first live mascot in the previous three decades.  Following her death in 2011, she became the second canine to receive an honorary degree from the university, specializing as a “Doctor of Canine Humanities”. Today, her successor carries on the tradition, and we can all agree that seeing Rex at the tailgates makes Homecoming an even more festive experience.

So wear the new Samford swag with pride – there are one hundred years of Crimson Bulldog history behind the new logo, which recalls Samford’s past glory while coupling it with Samford’s hopes for the future. And, as always, bow wow Bulldogs!

The new Samford logo, released today
The new Samford logo, released today.

 

References:

Oral History interview with Myralyn Allgood conducted by Bryan Kessler, November 14, 2012.

Oral History interview with Billy Gamble conducted by Michelle Little, August 23, 2012.

Philip Poole. “Libby, Samford’s Bulldog Mascot, Dies.” Samford University. 30 September 2011. https://www.samford.edu/news/2011/Libby-Samfords-Bulldog-Mascot-Dies

“Bulldogs, Tigers, and Bears.” Samford University Library – Special Collections and University Archives. January 2008. http://library.samford.edu/about/sc/treasure/2008/bulldogs.html

“Lady Liberty ‘Libby’.” Samford University Library – Special Collections and University Archives. 2012. http://library.samford.edu/about/sc/treasure/2012/libby.html 

 

Laying Foundations in Past and Present

This summer, many Health Sciences faculty and staff are making preparations for moving to the newly acquired Southern Progress property. Sixty-one years ago, the entire campus was in a similar state of hustle and bustle, starting to make preparations to move the college campus from twelve miles south in East Lake to Homewood. On April 29, 1955, a cornerstone ceremony marked the beginning of great things to come.  Bill Mathis, an alumnus from the class of 1956, left his own account of the event:

cornerstone ceremony 1955
Mrs. Fred Kilgore and other members of the board each took turns laying the stone at the ceremony.

A great day in the history of Howard. I worked on floats the night before until 2 o’clock. Our senior float was “A Tale of Two Cities” – Marion and B’ham. I blistered as red as a piece of raw beef.

Lunch was a festive occasion. There was an abundance of barbeque and plenty of cold drinks. School spirit was magnificent; Cooperation was unexcelled; classes were cut intentionally and freely to work on floats; sleep was scarce or unheard of; energy seemed to be inexhaustive; a sense of being a part of some great, momentous historical event made every heart throb “breast-burstingly” with joy; through all this there was a renewal of vows, a rededication of time and talents, and a renewing and resurrendering of the self to the purpose of higher education and to the Higher Power – God!

Thank God for Howard!! May she live long!

Thus written and signed for future generations on this day after the ceremony, April 30, 1955.

Bill Mathis

Eating for Your Alma Mater: Culinary Degree from Howard College

graduation sillhouette 1963 ENCommencement is a time of celebration, honoring those students who persevered through the trials of classwork and papers to earn their diploma. It’s also a time of community for the neighborhood, as those nearby give back to the university that helped them during the year. Modern day ceremonies can be lengthy, but the commencement of 1915 would have scoffed at the couple of hours we call commencement today. Beginning that Sunday, May 23, the celebrations lasted for four days, finally ending with the reception of diplomas Wednesday, May 26. There were field games, oratorical contests, dinners and receptions of all kinds, as well as a ceremony for those who left college in the 1860s to fight in the Civil War to receive their diplomas.

Through it all, Frank Barnett, the editor of The Alabama Baptist, recorded and wrote his reactions to the festivities. Before buying the publication in 1902, he had made a name for himself all over the world, studying at an impressive list of universities from NYU to The University of Berlin, and renowned for his excellent speeches across the South.  Read on to see how this man of the world reacted to Howard College’s way of celebrating:

 “At Houston we went into a man’s restaurant and took our seat on a stool and propped out feet on the rail and picked up a bill of fare, but was saved the trouble of reading it by a young man at our side who said: ‘Waiter, bring me scrambled eggs, and make ‘em red.’ Having fed in restaurants for several score of years we thought we knew most of the lingo, but his order was something new.

 We turned and said: ‘Brother, we are something of a culinary artist ourselves. If you don’t mind telling, what’s your color scheme?’

Laughingly he replied: ‘Oh, out here my order meant scrambled eggs with chili.’

So we said: ‘Waiter, bring us scrambled eggs, and make ‘em red.’

picnic on quad cropped (2) We thought it impossible after 13 years of continuous attendance upon picnics, all-day singings, fifth Sunday meetings, associations and conventions to run across anything new in the way of serving dinner on the ground, but out at the Howard commencement we got as big a jar and surprise as we got at Houston. For when we arrived Mrs. Shelburne handed us a piece of pasteboard, to which was tied a string, and on the board was the letter R.

We laughingly said: ‘Well, what tag day is this?’

‘Never mind,’ said she; ‘just wait and see.’

After the exercises everybody was tagged with a letter and told to go out on the campus and find their group and sit down. This we did, and soon found the various trees labeled with large letters.

We found the one with an R and took our seat, and soon from the ventral tent there came a procession of pretty girls and charming matrons bearing trays. It was truly a bounteous feast that had been prepared by the hospitable women of East Lake and served to 600 without the least confusion.

It beat anything we had ever seen or ever expect to see, unless somebody steals the idea.

We soon discovered that the letters made ‘H-O-W-A-R-D.’

We have heard many say they would die for their alma mater, but we feel sure that it is much pleasanter to eat for one’s alma mater; and especially is this true as it happens to be dear old Howard.

It has always worried us because we are not an alumnus of Howard, but on commencement day we took the complete culinary course and graduated full of honor, and now have all the rights and privileges to the new degree and are entitled to write our name as follows:

              FRANK WILLIS BARNETT, E.A.T.S”             

So, class of 2016, go forth with your newly-earned degrees, and think back on your Samford experience. Perhaps you earned a few “unofficial” degrees yourselves!

 

Adapted from:

The Alabama Baptist June 2, 1915

Be a Part of the STORI

color reel cover

We need your help.  During the next 24 hours, we aim to raise $4000 for our Big Give project.  You can help bring history to life with STORI and Special Collection by donating funds to digitize rapidly deteriorating reel-to-reel recordings of stories from the 1950s, 60s and 70s.  Stories turn raw data into a catalyst for action. They remind us of where we come from and where we need to go. Samford University’s Special Collection houses close to 1,000 Samford related stories on reel-to-reel tapes that are currently unavailable for public use. Digitizing these stories will bring them back to life and make them available to be shared with a new generation.

What will my gift do? Your gift will fund Samford’s initiative to digitize oral histories for the university and the greater community’s use. Preserving and sharing the shared history of our institution, as well as the larger community Samford’s serves, is integral to the university’s mission.

Who will my gift impact? This initiative will serve not only Samford, but the local community and the state at large by preserving our shared history.

Be a part of the STORI today!  DONATE HERE
Make sure you are following STORI on Facebook to learn about Big Give challenges and project updates!

double row of reels

Finishing Well

Lottie Jacks, Entre Nous 1950Entre Nous 1950

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lottie Jacks has led an accomplished life.  She has raised four children, published a book, led a career as a medical technician, served as president of the Samford Legacy League, won the Lolla Wurtele Wright Award, and always found ways to help others whether it was through her day to day work or on mission trips to Los Mochis, Mexico.  At 85, she is not slowing down.

This weekend she will walk across the stage of the Wright Center and finish something she started in 1948.  This is her Samford Story:

LOTTIE JACKS:  I am one of ten children.  I was born in the western section of [Birmingham].  It was unincorporated at that time.  It is kind of what is Green Acres now or Powderly. . . .  I . . . graduated and I got a full scholarship to Samford [then Howard College] through my church.

Mrs. Jacks began college in 1948 on the old campus in East Lake.  During her freshman year she lived with three other girls in a small dorm room outfitted with two sets of bunk beds.  Unfortunately she did not get to live on campus after her first year.

JACKS:  I had to go back home and live, because the church that was giving my scholarship said they could not afford for me to live in the dormitory.  So then I had to find transportation all the way across town from east to west, which made it harder on me.  And I think I was kind of overwhelmed with trying – doing [it] all.  It took an hour and a half to get across town on a streetcar, but then I finally found there were two young men that lived over there, and I finally got a ride with them . . . .

Living off campus and contending with a long commute, Mrs. Jacks was not able to experience the close knit community so characteristic of Howard College.

JACKS:  I just did not blend in like I should have.  I made good friends, [but] it was completely different.

A year shy of graduation, Lottie married her college sweetheart and left school.  She always regretted not finishing her degree.

JACKS:  I had four children and I just did not go back to school.  Dr. Simon who was the head of the clinic [I worked with] offered to pay my way, but I just did not want to go to school at night and leave my children, because I had been gone all day. . . .  But I have always regretted that I did not. . . so I just had this desire to [finish], just a burning desire . . . to do this.

Lottie feared that she might not fit in among the younger students.  Despite her worries, she found the Samford community to be welcoming and supportive in her endeavor to finally graduate.

JACKS:  Everything good that has happened to me has been through Samford. . . .  Dr. Westmoreland . . . was praising me about doing this.  I said, ‘Do not praise me yet.  Wait until I finish!’  And he said, ‘You better finish!’  But the best part was when I started [back].  I thought, ‘Oh what are these young students going to think of me?’  I was worried about them thinking, ‘What is she doing here?’  The students have been the most wonderful part.  They have been kind.  They have been accepting.  They help me.

Mrs. Jacks admits that coming back to school has been very challenging.  While there have been many new experiences, she is amused by how the times have changed.

JACKS:  I laugh now when I am here on campus.  I am just amused at the way the girls dress, because when I went [to college] I had one suitcase full of clothes and I wanted so badly to have pretty clothes, you know. (Laughter)  Now, they can go to Walmart and buy theirs for a dollar . . . but we wore sweaters and skirts [only].  We did not wear pants at all.

Mrs. Jacks will complete her undergraduate career this Saturday, May 14 at the Howard College of Arts and Sciences graduation ceremony.  She says she owes it all to the work of the Lord and the support of the Christian community here at Samford.

-by Marley Davis

Lottie Jacks 2016

Adapted from:

Oral history interview with Lottie Jacks conducted by Marley Davis, fall 2015.

 

Here He Comes, The Candidate: We Like Ike and Lunch at the Birmingham Airport

Birmingham Airport postcard
The Birmingham Airport, where Margaret Sizemore Douglas got to chat with the candidate in 1952.

Last week everyone clamored to get tickets to Yellowhammer Media’s presidential candidate forum, held in the Wright Center.  While a number of political figures have traversed Samford’s quad (Joe Biden, Jimmy Carter, Mike Huckabee, Laura Bush, and Bill Clinton to name a few), a presidential forum has never been held on site.

On Wednesday morning September 3, 1952, Major Davis was in a similar predicament hoping to catch Dwight Eisenhower during his campaign stop in Birmingham. Unfortunately for Major Davis, he was not the only person trying to get a glimpse of the candidate. According to Birmingham police chief Charles Pierce and police commissioner Eugene Connor, 40,000-45,000 people crowded into Woodrow Wilson Park to hear Ike’s speech. An additional 75,000 Alabamians lined Eisenhower’s route from the airport to Woodrow Wilson Park.

Then Dean of Women, Margaret Sizemore Douglas recounted how the Major’s best laid plans didn’t fall into place, but her lunch date with Gene Kelser at the place to eat in Birmingham – the airport – proved very fruitful.

“Major Davis was a fan of Dwight Eisenhower. Eisenhower came to Birmingham before he was President. . . .  He was campaigning, but he made a stop down on the square in… Linn Park, which was then called Woodrow Wilson Park… [The Major] came by my office one day and he often did that just to sit and talk… he said, “I’m going down to Woodrow Wilson Park and hear Eisenhower – he’s running for President.  He’s going to be our next President, mark my words.”

I had appointment with Gene Kelser, who was [the Major’s] secretary, to go to lunch.  So I declined and he went by himself… Gene came by and I said, “Let’s go the airport for lunch.” That was the place to eat.  There was a Mrs. Willis… she had a beautiful tearoom, one wing there, and it was a very elegant place. Brides had parties there. You could go up in planes for 5 dollars with real aces…

So we went there for lunch and we were eating and just as we finished, the doors flew open and in came Eisenhower. Well, he didn’t know me from Adam. I said “You’re supposed to be at Woodrow Wilson Park,” and he said, “Well, I stepped out a little early to get out of the crowd, because my flight’s out here waiting for me.”  He sat down there and chatted with Gene Kelser and me and all his people of course, Secret Service, I guess.  But we had this nice chat with him and got back to school and told Major Davis, who had not even seen him. Oh, he was so upset with us!”

This past Saturday, several candidates continued the tradition of campaigning through Birmingham.  Hillary Clinton grabbed a cappuccino at Urban Standard while Marco Rubio came to our campus for a presidential forum.  Unlike 1952, students, faculty, and administration had the opportunity to attend the event in the Wright Center without the stress of running downtown during lunch, hunting for a parking spot, and navigating paths through crowds of people.  Samford’s abiding interest in shaping its students into global citizens had made the once small college into a stop on the campaign trail.  Although, I think we are all missing out on the $5 plane rides with real aces.

Sources:

Samford University, 160 Years: For God, For Learning, Forever  by Sean Flynt

Entre Nous, 1974

Margaret Sizemore Douglas interview by Susan Ray.

The Anniston Star. September 4, 1952.

A New Man in Town

I’d like to introduce myself

Though you’ve seen me ‘round

Well, I’m a new man in town

            -George Jones

Some of you may have notice a new ominous figure in Brooks Hall.  He made his entrance late last week, but quickly took cover beneath a blue table cloth.  He emerged victorious on Saturday morning with the help of Dean Chapman, the A Capella Choir and the Howard Scholars.   John Howard is the newest addition to the commemorative statues on Samford’s campus. We are all familiar with iconic Mr. Beeson who greets every visitor, but let’s review the rest of the Samford bronze and marble family.

Johnhoward

John Howard 1726-1790

The original namesake of Samford University, John Howard, devoted his life to prison reform. Commissioned by Dean Chapman, the statue reminds students of Samford’s Christian mission. The installation includes an electronic device detailing Howard’s life, prison reform work, and the original statue in St. Paul’s Cathedral.

Curry

Jabez Lamar Monroe Curry 1825-1903

Jabez Curry was the third president of Howard College, serving from 1865-1868.  Originally part of the National Statuary Hall Collection, the statue was relocated to its current position in the University Center in 2009 after Helen Keller took his place in D.C. Now, he stands guard as students rush to class or grab a quick bite from the food court.

 

 

Frank Samford

 

 

Frank Park Samford 1893-1973

 Businessman, philanthropist, and builder of Liberty National Life Insurance Company, Frank Park Samford served on our Board of Trustees for 34 years and was instrumental in relocating the college from East Lake to Homewood in 1957. Because of his dedication and service to the campus, Howard College was renamed Samford University in 1965.  His bust greets visitors at the top of the stairs in the administration building.

Bobby Bowden

Bobby Bowden 1929-

At every Samford football game, fans now pass Bobby Bowden with his playbook in hand, as they enter the gates to the stadium. Bowden served as Samford’s football coach from 1959-1962 and led the Howard bulldogs to a winning 31-6 record. His success as a coach earned him a spot in the College Football Hall-of-Fame with the second most wins in Division 1.  Many of his loyal players still gather on campus each summer for a reunion with the Bowden Boys.

MarthaMyers2

Dr. Martha Myers 1945-2002

Samford Alumna Dr. Martha Myers ’67 was a medical missionary to Yemen for more than twenty years where she became a local symbol for kindness and compassion. She was killed by a Muslim extremist on December 30, 2002, the final operating day of the hospital.  The statue displays her passion for the Yemeni people with the words “She Loves God” written in English and Arabic.
Mr. Beeson

Ralph Waldo Beeson 1900-1990

As the greatest individual donor in Samford’s history, Ralph Waldo Beeson’s gifts to the university have provided for the establishment and endowment of Beeson Divinity School, the construction of Beeson Woods, construction and equipment of the School of Education, completion of an addition to the University Center, scholarships to Samford students pursuing ministry careers and much more.  An iconic Samford symbol, the statue has become the hallmark of countless selfies and memories made on campus.

Harwell Davis 2

 

Harwell Davis 1882-1977

The bust of Samford’s fifteenth president sits at the entrance to the library and offers luck to all who rub his nose. Davis led the college at a time of tumult after the Great Depression, plotting a course to avoid bankruptcy and the loss of accreditation.  It wasn’t luck that saved the school, it was Davis’s hard work and dedication.

 

Justice and Mercy

Justice Tempered by Mercy

The statue in the courtyard of Cumberland School of Law represents what students at Cumberland are defending. The inspiration for the statue came from Mrs. Lucille Beeson who encouraged the law school to “Seek wisdom and temper justice with compassion.”

healing arts

Angel of Mercy

 The Angel of Mercy represents the values of the Ida V. Moffett School of Nursing. The bronze statue was created by former Samford student Tim Britton and Italian sculptor Urbano Burratti.

 

 

 

The lives of the men and women commemorated by these statues remind all of us, faculty, staff, and students, that we stand in the shades of trees we did not plant.  From John Howard’s work to reform the prison system to Dr. Martha Myers’s life witness to the people of Yemen we have inspiration all around us to strive to work hard, conduct ourselves in fairness, give out of our abundances, and be merciful to those in need. The world will be better for it.

References:

Flynt, Sean. 160 Years of Samford University. Arcadia Publishing. 2001.

“Jabez Lamar Monroe Curry.” Samford University. https://www.samford.edu/alabama-mens-hall-of-fame/inductees/Curry.html

Wimberley, Mary. “Curry Statue Has New Home on Samford Campus.” Samford University. 25 November 2009. https://www.samford.edu/news/2009/Curry-statue-has-new-home-on-Samford-campus

“Frank Park Samford, Sr.” Samford University. https://www.samford.edu/alabama-mens-hall-of-fame/inductees/Samford.html

Michael Scovetta. “Knowledge Base: Samford University.” http://www.scovetta.com/projects/knowledge/wiki/au/Samford_University.html

Wimberley, Mary. “Missionary Martha Myers Memorial Sculpture Dedicated at Samford.” 5/15/2007. http://www.samford.edu/news/2007/Missionary-Martha-Myers-Memorial-Sculpture-Dedicated-At-Samford

Flynt, Sean. “Samford to Dedicate Statue to John Howard Feb. 13.” Samford University. 1 February 2016. https://www.samford.edu/arts-and-sciences/news/Samford-to-Dedicate-Statue-to-John-Howard-Feb-13

http://www.awhf.org/myers.htm

http://www.nytimes.com/2002/12/31/us/threats-and-responses-the-dead-victims-shared-affection-for-yemenis-families-say.html

 

 

 

 

The Myralyn Allgood STORI

entrenous196100howa_0062

As part of preparations for Samford’s 175th Anniversary, the Office and University Historian and the University Library’s Special Collection and Archives have the opportunity to revitalize oral history work at Samford.  Earlier this fall we launched the Samford Traditions and Oral History Recording Initiative (S.T.O.R.I.) website to provide digital access to these oral histories.  The site will offer interviews from Samford and the local community to document our shared history. A new addition to the site, just this week, is the Myralyn Allgood STORI.

From head cheerleader and member of BSU choir to head of the World Languages and Cultures Department, Myralyn Allgood’s involvement at Samford University spanned nearly six decades. A passing glance at a Howard College ad in a Beta Club Journal peaked her interest enough to drive over for a visit in the summer of 1957 while boxes were still being unpacked on the new Homewood campus…

Allgood: So, one day I was flipping through a Beta Club journal.  This was in 1956 or something like that.  There was this tiny little blurb about Howard College, and it had a picture of the library. . . . It had all the things listed – teacher education (and I knew that was what I wanted to do), intercollegiate athletics, Greek organization, Baptist affiliation.  I thought, “Yes – all the things on my checklist right there.”  Let’s go see it.

So Mom and Dad and my friend and I got in the car, and I’m thinking it was on . . . July 4th . . . .  We came over looking for the old campus because that was the summer before the move here, and that’s where the administrative offices still were. But we got lost and wound up driving up this hill and [I] looked down and said, “There it is.  There’s that library that’s pictured in my Beta Club journal.”  So we turned around and came down here. There were some people beginning to move into the administration building . . . . So we walked through and got to look at [campus].  It was not a rainy day like it was in the fall when we came and [there] was mud for a whole semester. . . . We thought “Oh, this is so beautiful.  We just can’t wait to get here.” 

We went down to the administration building and they said, “Well, . . . we’re beginning to function over here, but in order to enroll you’re going to have to go over to the old campus.” So they gave us good directions and we got there.  And when we got there, they were having a watermelon cutting under Sherman Oak.  So I at least got to know Sherman Oak before the college was no more over there.  And [we] went in and signed up and that was it and we were done.  And I thought going home, “Man, we . . . surely are glad we saw the new [campus] before we saw the old [campus]. . . .”  We may never have taken the next step because it was falling down. 

And then we came in the fall.  And all the upper classmen were just weeping and wailing, they so missed the old campus.  And then the sorority, they said, “Okay come on, we’re going to go clean out the sorority house and move over to this place where all we have is a little room.”   And so we went and we packed things up and they were crying and I’m thinking, “Why?” But it’s tradition.  Wherever you are and wherever your experiences are, that’s the place that’s dear to you.  Be it ever so humble.  It was home.  So for those folks that were sophomores and juniors and seniors coming over here it was a difficult transition. For us, as freshmen, we were blissful.  We didn’t know what we’d missed but apparently missed something but that smaller college spirit was just something very special, and that’s one thing that no matter how many changes have taken place here over the years, the one thing that remains the same is that same spirit, that whether you know people or not, you smile at them and you greet them as you grow up together and when you see each other after a long time there’s this big embrace because, you know, you’re friends.  You grew up together.  So that’s how I got here.  And I have always known that’s where I would go to school.  And I loved it from the day I set foot on campus. It was home to me.

LISTEN TO THE FULL INTERVIEW HERE: STORI

Adapted from:

Oral History interview with Myralyn Allgood conducted by Bryan Kessler, November 14, 2012.

The Cascade Plunge

Cascade_Plunge_postcard

One of the last visible remains of the East Lake community as it existed during Howard College’s tenancy sold last week. The nineteen acres that house the ghostly remains of the Cascade Plunge – the splendor of the Cloud Room where East Lake residents danced the night away under wooden zodiac cut outs and the Olympic-size swimming pool where local teenagers spent sun soaked summer days – is now property of Habitat for Humanity. The Cascade Plunge was an entertainment park, a short fifteen minute walk from the Howard College campus in East Lake, that housed a ballroom and an 80 x 220 foot swimming pool fed by a natural spring.

Local advertisement for the Cascade Plunge Pool, 1946
1946 advertisement

Natural springs played a pivotal role in the development of the East Lake community and formed the heart of the city’s recreation. Coinciding with Howard’s relocation to the area, in November of 1887, the East Lake Land Company built a 34-acre lake, fed by springs in Roebuck. The company intended the lake to be the centerpiece of what was to be a resort town for the people of Birmingham. The community enjoyed East Lake Park for its “balloon ascensions, dances, . . . races, theatricals, and picnics.”Another local spring on the other side of East Lake fed the Cascade Plunge.

From 1925 to Howard’s departure from East Lake in 1956, the Cascade was a fixture for students as well as local residents. According to Alumni Chriss Doss ’57, the Cascade Plunge was “the premier of entertainment parks in Birmingham.” Writing in the 1880s, Mollie Vincent, a member of the Pierian women’s club of East Lake, detailed what would eventually become the site of the Cascade Plunge – the location “was approached by a meandering country road called the Georgia Road and Huntsville Trail. . . . The springs flowed from the ground under immense poplar and oak trees. This beautiful spot was a genuine oasis to the travelers . . . .”   As the community of East Lake grew, paved roads replaced the “meandering country road” and the Cascade Plunge had its own stop on the No. 27 Ensley No. 38 South East Lake street car line.

As a gathering place for the community, the Cascade Plunge hosted proms, conferences, swim meets, and beauty contests.  The Miss Cascade Plunge talent and bathing suit competition held every summer sent one lucky winner a year to Daytona Beach to participate in the Miss Dixie Queen of the South.  Swimmers from Alabama, Tennessee, and Georgia came together at the Plunge to compete in the Southeastern Amateur Athletic Union meet.  Only one mile from the center of Howard’s campus, Alumni Jack Green ’50, described it as the “center of our summer activities for people that lived in that vicinity.” Rev. Green remembers the Cascade Plunge as a source of summer employment: “we had a concession stand there and big locker room and all of us guys that lived in Birmingham worked there one time or another because it was a huge entertainment center . . .”

Cascade_Plunge_pool
Swimmers enjoying the Cascade Plunge swimming pool. Water from the natural spring flowed through the tiered concrete structure at the end of the pool.
East Lake mural located at the East 59 Vintage and Cafe that pays homage to the heritage of East Lake. "Old Main" from Howard College appears in the first "E" while the Cloud Room is depicted in the second "A."
East Lake mural located at the East 59 Vintage and Cafe that pays homage to the heritage of East Lake. “Old Main” from Howard College appears in the first “E” while the Cloud Room is depicted in the second “A.”
Rendering of the Cloud Room from a local mural in the East Lake community.
Rendering of the Cloud Room from the mural above.
Photo Nov 09, 10 08 44 AM
The Cloud Room today.

After Howard’s removal from East Lake in 1957, the Cascade Plunge continued on, even adding an Arnold Palmer miniature golf course. But by the 1970’s, it was headed into decline and eventually closed in the 1990s.  While there will never be another Miss Cascade Plunge crowned or another high school prom under the zodiac signs of the Cloud Room, Habitat for Humanity is returning something important to the community – ownership. The non-profit plans to construct 60 residential units. The fate of the pool and the current facilities is unknown, although the Birmingham Business Journal reported Habitat may look to partner with other local non-profits for solutions. These sixty new homes should result in a renewed interest in the community, sixty new families that will seek to create a vision for the new East Lake community.

The Cascade Plunge today.
The Cascade Plunge today.
The remains of the Arnold Palmer miniature golf course. Notice the sign in the upper right corner and the windmill in the center of the photograph.
The remains of the Arnold Palmer miniature golf course. Notice the sign in the upper left corner and the windmill in the center of the photograph.

Adapted from:

Looking Back,” The Birmingham News, October 18, 1959.

Vincent, Mollie E., “Fifty years ago out East Lake way,” 1947 from the Birmingham Public Library,             http://bplonline.cdmhost.com/cdm/compoundobject/collection/p4017coll2/id/409/rec/12

“Habitat for Humanity plans to build 60 residential units in East Lake.” Birmingham Business Journal, October 26, 2015.

“Nashville Men’s Team Takes Lead as Magic City Women Set Pace.” The Anniston Star, August 25, 1934.

Oral history interview with Chriss Doss conducted by Chase Trautwein and Michelle Little, 2015.

Oral history interview with Jack Green conducted by Michelle Little, 2015

Bham Wiki: Bham Wiki’s “Cascade Plunge” entry

Throw Back Thursday: Miss September

Screen Shot 2015-08-26 at 3.51.23 PM (2)
Miss September, Barbara Whatley, helps cheer the Bulldogs for their first football game in September.

Congratulations on making it through the first full month of classes for fall 2015. We welcomed 810 freshmen, celebrated a big win over Central Arkansas at our first football game, and campus shuttle services dropped us of at our door. We enjoyed lunch in our newly renovated caf, but the Brock School of Business students were the envy of the campus as they started classes in their new home, the $25 million “next generation building” Cooney Hall.

Here is a look back at the Entre Nous summary of September 1961 when the campus experienced its first sorority rush week and “the eighth wonder of the world” – the IBM machine.

The freshmen were cordially commanded to come to school five days early for the second annual freshman orientation. The purpose of this is to assure that all the rats are absolutely confused, so that they were numb by the time registration got here. Tests… pep rallys… talent shows… tests.. “cabbages and kings”… tests… games… sore feet… tests… tests… and the climax of the week… more tests.

The first official sorority rush week in Howard’s history saw girls rushing to ice water teas and parties. The eighth wonder of the world, the IBM machine, showed his stuff for the first time at Howard during registration. This machine is almost human… so human it can’t spell either, Final count… 2,o37.

Even the cars have to register at Howard and Pinky (sometimes known as the Sherlock Holmes of the Pinkerton Agency) in his block charger covered the campus with $5 tickets.

September brought new faces… green frosh… 18 new faculty members… a boa constrictor… and Duke, a new college mascot. He proved his fighting spirit by chasing the majorettes, the waterboy, and sometimes, the players.

The first football game proved the students to be more than fairweather friends as they sat under torrents of rain to cheer the team to victory.

The $950,000 Chapel and Religious Building was completed, and work begun on the addition to the Physical Education plant. At this time students began to take more interest in the national elections. 

Adapted from:

Entre Nous, 1961.

Kennedy, Kara. “Harry B. Brock Jr.’s Vision of a State-of-the-Art Business Eduction Building Dedicated at Samford.” Samford News Release, Sept. 4, 2015.