The Other Patton

Patton

(Howard College Entre Nous, 1947)

In 1942, Harold “Bill” Patton’s student days at Howard College were interrupted by a draft notice. After completing basic training (and his final examinations at Howard), he arrived in the California desert where he served as a water engineer for General George S. Patton’s Third Army. Bill remained stateside in California while General Patton’s regiment invaded North Africa, Sicily, France, and Belgium. Bill Patton was deployed to Europe in 1944 following D-Day, where he rejoined the Third Army. It was here that Patton was captured and seriously injured by German Troops. He survived capture, and received a Purple Heart for his service. He returned to Howard in 1946 to finish a degree in education. Today, Bill gathers each week with a group of veterans at the VA Hospital in Birmingham, to share stories. On a recent afternoon in August, Bill recalled his memories of Howard College and his experience in the war:

College:

Bill: I had to work my way through college [for] 30 cents an hour. I painted Main, [cleaned] the floors [in the] science building, dormitories. During the winter, I had to fire the boiler that kept the campus warm. A big black man did it in the daytime. He and I, in cold weather, would shovel 12 tons of coal to keep the whole campus warm. And I started at 129 pounds and I got this big by shoveling coal, which later on saved my life when three hand grenades went off when I got captured. Not one piece of 52 shrapnel, not one piece, went all the way through my body. They are all still in there except they took one out.

Pearl Harbor:

Bill: I was at Howard College on Sunday afternoon, [a] beautiful Sunday. [I] caught the trolley down to the Alabama Theater, saw the movie, came out. The streets were jammed. The 3rd extra edition newspaper was out…Pearl Harbor was attacked that morning.  That night, my brother quit college and joined the Marines. Everybody was in shock. Well, you quit college. You go fight. I was young enough,…just turned 17, that I spent most of my time studying so I didn’t let it boonboggle my brain much but everybody was in awe…I stayed [at Howard] for 2 years until I got drafted when I turned 18. I lacked 7 days taking my final exams. They gave me a 7 day furlough to go back to Howard and take…exams and then I got up with my outfit in Ft. McPherson, Georgia.

War:

Bill: I was in the army. I got drafted, I didn’t volunteer.  [I served in] the European theater with General George Patton. In fact, after I finished basic training in Mississippi…my first job was to secure all of General Patton’s waterworks in California [and] the desert area. 336,000 square miles. But then General Patton left maneuvers, he went through North Africa and Italy and France and Belgium and I got back with him before I got captured. He would come up to the front and he…[stood] up in his Jeep and his dog and be right there in the front lines. He was awesome…In fact, I named my first son George Patton.

Capture:

Bill: General Patton had his army on our side of the Rhine River. The other two armies were back in Belgium and France. He heard the Russians were gonna be in Berlin in 5 days…[He] woke us up at midnight [to have us] build him a pontoon bridge across the Rhine River…[It was] a quarter-mile across. We had our 40 boats lined up on our side of the Rhine River. Suddenly, 5 machine guns with tracer bullets set grass afire around all the boats and everybody ran behind a big castle but me and my buddy, we stayed with our boat. Suddenly, my sergeant said, “You’re job now is to go over and wipe out 5 machine guns.” He said, “Take a squad of infantrymen.” I was the first boat across…Halfway across the Rhine River, those 5 machine guns zeroed in on my boat. Killed most of [the people in my boat]. The rest of them were crying.  I stood up in the back of the boat with my oar, hit ’em in the head as far as I could reach. They stopped crying and started paddling. But by the time we got across, all of ’em were killed but 3 of us. My buddy landed the boat and said, “Patton help me!” and [then] they killed him. I found myself in the water and lost all my equipment. Finally, I crawled out on the little sandy beachhead and immediately a hand grenade came down the embankment. They looked like a soup bowl with a little handle. [It] landed a foot from my left shoulder. I had time to pull my helmet over my head, it went off, two more came in. I was laying there with 52 pieces of shrapnel in me…The next morning…4 Germans with their guns kicked me, rolled me over, and I came to. [I had been] captured…

Survival:

Bill: …When they captured me, we walked 20 kilometers through little German towns. Nothing but old men and women and their kids. They’d hit you with sticks and spit on you…That night, a big German officer interrogated everybody but me. I asked him,…”What are you doing with my buddies?” He said, “You just listen.” He put 9 in a pigpen and shot ’em and left two of us hurt real bad…One of the other guys was hurt real bad. But that’s when I made a mistake. I had a letter in my pocket and that’s when he found out my name was Patton. So…they put me in a field hospital with five German doctors [who were] cutting arms and legs off [of prisoners] with no anesthesia. [They] stripped me down naked, put me up on the operating table. Next thing I knew, it was the next day, I was bouncing along naked in a one-horse wagon. An old German man [was] taking me to a big hospital where they operated all morning. [He] fixed my broke back where I could play college ball back at Howard. [They] put me on the 5th floor with 2 other POWs. They were skin and bones. They had been there a long time. Their first meal came: potato peelings and water. I didn’t eat for 6 days. But finally, the medics came. In the meantime, the next day after I got captured, General Patton had my engineers build him a bridge in broad daylight. 76 were killed. They got every name in a book. He came across the Rhine River, stopped, urinated in the Rhine River (got a picture of him). He came across, got in his halftracks, came through a little town…

…[He] put a pistol under my pillow. I figured I was liberated. I say I was prisoner of war 2 days but it took 3 more for the medics to get there. Every day the doctors and nurses came and moved the pistol, [then I would] put it back under my pillow. Finally, medics came, flew us into Paris…[they] put me on the operating table. They said, “Patton you’re blowed up worse than anybody we’ve ever had that lived.” [I] layed there for 2 weeks and recuperated. While I was in the hospital, General Patton and General Eisenhower both came to my bed and gave me my purple heart. In fact, I kept the Purple Heart until I came down to the VA one day and lost it. It’s somewhere here in the VA.

Coming Home:

Bill: The streets were jammed, flags were waving from every window. They said, “The war’s over!” May the 8th. They turned our cattle cart around. Put 250 POWs on liberty ships. [It took us] 22 days to get back home. Ran into some icebergs…In those interim 22 days, some of the POWs gained 40 pounds. They had garbage cans full of milkshakes all over the ship. Got to New York City, they stopped traffic, took us right to Grand Central Station, put us on a train to Atlanta, Georgia. Got to Atlanta, hitchhiked back to Chattanooga and had my first party in Chattanooga after I got home. They gave me a 60 day furlough to recuperate and the next morning I got up, hitch-hiked down to Ider and a friend of the family fixed me a lunch, also got me a ride…a log truck to our farm. Got there. Nobody was there. Papa [was] way over in the field so I started towards him and he started towards me…Papa fell down on his knees. But we got together. I hitch hiked and got back and started Howard College in January session of 1946…finished March the 17th, 1948.

 The REAL General Patton and Willie

Adapted from:

Oral History Interview with Howard Patton. Birmingham Veterans Administration, August 2014

Howard College Entre Nous, 1947.

http://wargodpatton.blogspot.com/2011/02/general-patton-and-his-dog-willie.html

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Rushing Rules: Smokers, Dancers, and Theatre Parties

greek life

Samford goes Greek the next two weeks as fraternity and sorority recruitment begins with record numbers of students participating in rush. The number of Greek students on campus grew steadily over the past few years, including last year’s freshman class that had a little over 50 percent of students join a sorority or fraternity.  This year’s numbers are expected to be even higher.

Typical recruitment events include visiting chapter houses and speaking with members.  There are nights dedicated to philanthropy and learning about social opportunities. Both IFC and Panhellenic Recruitment end with a Pref Night, when the hopeful students visit their final houses one last time.  At the end of the week, the new members receive their bids.  For sorority recruitment, Bid Day, nicknamed “Squeal Day” because sorority girl screams can be heard from all over campus, has become a spectacle that faculty, students, parents, and friends often attend.

Upperclassmen in sororities and fraternities on campus can tell potential new members that recruitment week is about finding a “home away from home” and new “brothers” or “sisters.”  They can proclaim that “Squeal Day” will be the most thrilling day of freshman year.  For those who have never experienced the process, though, rushing can be nerve-wracking and overwhelming.

During the 1920’s, Greek students at Howard College knew that freshmen must maintain a measure of decorum during the recruitment process.  To avoid unnecessary embarrassment, The Howard Crimson staff presented “Rushing Rules” for 1928:

For the benefit of both upperclassmen and freshmen, who may or may not understand the sorority rushing rules that are in vogue at Howard College, we present here the official rules as formulated by the Girls’ PanHellenic Council.

Sorority Rushing Rules

  1. Rush season shall be from the opening of school Sept. 11th to Sept. 30th.
  2. Rush week shall begin Sept. 24th and close at 5:00 PM, Sept. 30th 
  3. $150 shall be allowed for one rush party which may be given by the chapter alone or combined with alumnae. All bills must be submitted at the next Panhellenic meeting.  Penalty:  Rush money for the next season shall be one half that allowed to any other sorority.
  4. Silence Period lasts from 5 o’clock Sunday afternoon until 5 o’clock Monday afternoon. Penalty: Rushing deferred two months.
  5. There shall be no “summer rushing” to be interpreted as talking sororities to the girls in question. Penalty: Rushing deferred two months.
  6. Pan-Hellenic Council forbids girls asking men to rush for them. Penalty:  the sending sorority shall be prohibited from bidding that term.
  7. A pledge is considered a sorority girl. No freshman may spend the night in the home of a sorority girl.
  8. There shall be open rushing but no promises are allowed to be asked for or considered binding if made voluntarily.
  9. Not more than three Dutch parties will be allowed.  By Dutch party, more than six girls may be together, but all expenses must be shared equally. Penalty: Pledging deferred one semester.
  10. No freshman may be invited home to dinner.

 

Fraternity Rushing Rules

  1.  The first week of school known as “Freshman Week” shall be closed to rushing.
  2. The following three weeks shall be open to rush, but no freshman can be pledged before 6 PM Monday night, October 1.
  3. Each fraternity is limited to two socials and a smoker shall be considered as one.
  4. The following events shall be considered socials: Smokers, dances, theatre parties if more than five freshmen are present; formal open house at which refreshments are served; any other kind of party at which more than five freshmen are present.
  5. For any violation of these rules of fraternity shall be required to pledge three days later than other fraternities with full silence and shall not publish the names of pledges until one week late.

 

ADPI 1927

Sigma Nu 1927

 

Adapted from:

The Howard Crimson, September 1928.

The Howard Entre Nous, 1927

The Samford Crimson, September 2011.

http://www.samford.edu

Parking Lots of Yesteryear

Parking 1967 EN

Arriving back on campus ready to start the new fall semester, you may commiserate with this cartoonist from the 1967 Samford Crimson. This year, the combination of construction on the new Brock School of Business and record-breaking enrollment have left students, faculty, and guests feeling as if they are driving around in circles.  Samford students past and present can relate to mornings spent searching, planning ahead with sensible footwear, and dangerously testing the parameters of small parking places with large cars.

constructionphoto 2

samford parking tickets

 

 

Adapted from:

The Samford Crimson, 1967.

The Samford Crimson, September 2012.

Photography by Michelle Little

Thou Shalt Not Excessively Paint Thy Cheeks

Remember Fresh, it’s up to you….get that Howard spirit thoroughly grounded in your system, and everything will be “Hotsy-Totsy” now. – Howard Crimson, September 23, 1925 

Two weeks ago, around 700 incoming freshmen from all over the country were welcomed to campus and the Birmingham area through their 2014 Connections groups. Connections places freshman students with upperclassmen to usher them into their college experience. The Samford Class of 2018 tried Birmingham restaurants, took a class picture, learned how to get involved on campus, and danced all night at a neon party. Connections weekend ended with the Your School, Your City concert featuring American Idol winner Phillip Phillips.  The weekend is a fun way to make students feel comfortable in their new home and ready to take on their classes.

 

Samford Class of 2018

 

In 1925, freshman girls on the East Lake campus of Howard College listened intently to a new set of commandments while sipping punch on Friday afternoon in the Pi Kappa Phi house.  That year, incoming freshman get-togethers did not involve wearing neon, but rather, the freshman green.  Instead of telling the class of 1929 all that they could do, upperclassmen focused on explaining to the students what not to do as seen below in this September 23, 1925 Crimson article:

Freshmen quaked in their boots and mentally resolved to obey the letter of the law, “The Freshman’s Ten Commandments” as they heard them for the first time Friday afternoon at the Pi Kappa Phi house when the Y.M.C.A. and the Women’s Council of Howard College entertained in honor of the new girls with an afternoon party. Miss Margaret Cox, president of the Women’s Council, read them to the assembled girls, stressing those of the most importance.

THE FRESHMAN’S TEN COMMANDMENTS

  1. Thou shalt wear the Freshman Green.
  2. Thou shalt have no dates taking precedence of attendance on chapel, nor any engagement conflicting with student government meetings, nor any flirtations, nor any primping, nor any sleeping, nor any talking, nor any laughing that prevents attention – for Howard College is jealous of attention and will have attention.
  3. Thou shalt know the Alma Mater.
  4. Thou shalt show respect unto the faculty. Thou shalt also show respect unto the sophomore, juniors and seniors.
  5. Thou shalt not cut classes.
  6. Thou shalt not roll thy hose, nor excessively paint thy cheeks, nor thy lips, nor unduly powder thy face for she that spends much time on these frivolities has little time left for studies.
  7. Thou shalt not chew gum.
  8. Thou shalt not lounge on the campus nor make the campus a thing unbeautiful by improper attitudes or undignified behavior. Thou shalt never enter a fraternity house unless chaperoned by a member of the faculty.
  9. Thou shouldest attend every game of football, and every game of baseball, and every game of basketball, and every performance of the Glee Club, and every performance of the band, and every debate, and every college activity through loyalty to Howard.
  10. Thou shalt not assume that these rules are in vain; for the upper classmen will not hold her guiltless that assumeth that these rules are in vain.

 

Freshman Entre Nous 1925

 

Adapted from:

The Howard Crimson, September 1925.

http://www.Samford.edu, Samford University Class of 2018.

The Howard University Entre Nous, 1925.