There was spirit lurking in Renfroe Hall–a dark figured man in uniform–haunting the girls of Howard College on Halloween night. Legend had it that a former student, angry about the introduction of co-education at Howard College in 1913, vowed to haunt every woman that lived on campus. Late one Halloween night in the 1950s, Margaret Sizemore, Dean of Women at Howard College, got a call to save her girls from a ghostly intruder, and, as she explains, she got more than she bargained for…
We had a student named Quinn Kelly from Miami and somebody down there had a special interest in her . . . . The church had sent her up to Howard. She was just . . . always into something. Cute as she could be. Smart as she could be and I just loved her to death. One Halloween night, I got a call at my home and someone said, “Dean Sizemore, there is a man in Renfroe Hall. We have seen him!” . . . They described his uniform. Well, that went back to a story that Dean Burns told me. He was [at Howard] when it became coed, I think in 1913, but he said before it went coed, that the cadets, as they were called, said, “We will not have women on our campus” and one cadet said, “If [a woman] ever lives in Renfroe Hall . . . I’ll come back from my grave and I’ll haunt them.” Well, I had told that story to my French class and Quinn was in it and I gave her an idea.
Well, [after I got the call] I had gotten my husband up and of course had my children with me in the back seat and we went through that [dorm] and the girls were just panicking . . . even the house mother . . . . So many had seen him. We looked in closets, under the beds, we spent almost the rest of the night trying to find him. Finally we left and said, “There’s no man in here. Y’all are just having imaginative fits.”
The next year at Halloween, the same thing happened. Oh, I forgot to tell you, before this happened the first time, a friend down at the Birmingham News called me and said, “We need a story about Halloween . . . Howard College is so old I just know you have a ghost out there.” I said, “Well . . . every Halloween, we have this ghost of a former cadet who is so upset . . . he haunts the women now.” I always told them that and they put it in the paper. Well then . . . the second year the same thing happened . . . . So my husband and I drove up to the back of Renfroe Hall. There was a way you could come in from 78th Street, you could come right into the back and we saw this figure coming down the fire escape. [The dorm] had a metal fire escape . . . and my husband jumped out of the car and ran [up] just as [the figure] got to bottom . . . . He put his hands out and she ran right into him and said, “Oh Mr. Sizemore, I’m sorry! Don’t hurt me! Don’t hurt me! This is Quinn Kelly!”
Oh dear, I forgot what we did to punish Quinn Kelly, but she really had the campus upset over that and she just thought that was a wonderful, wonderful joke. She’d found this old costume, this . . . Confederate uniform of some sort . . . with a sword . . . . I turned her over to Major [Davis].
Quinn Kelley, Howard College Class of 1957, probably contemplating her next prank.
Oral History Interview of Margaret Sizemore by Susan Ray