The Myralyn Allgood STORI


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.


Adapted from:

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


Bring a Raincoat and Try for Shoes with Traction: A Guide To a Folklore Lifestyle

Dr. Brown assists a student with her basket
Dr. Brown assists a student with her basket

History students are accustom to course instructions on methods of citation, operating microfilm machines, and avoiding passive voice.   Rarely do their professors email them suggesting they, “Bring a raincoat, wear something to cover your legs, and try for shoes with traction.” This past spring, another class of Folklore students traversed the South by car, in canoes, and on foot, immersing themselves in the folkways of the region. Dr. Jim Brown often quips, only half-jokingly, that folklore is as much a class as it is a lifestyle. For students, this lifestyle of weaving, fishing, singing, and canoeing lasts for a semester. For Dr. Brown, it has been a lifestyle for over 40 years. Since 1973, Dr. Brown has shaped a course that communicates his love for the people and places of the South through experiential learning that focuses on folk orature/literature, material culture, and music.

The study of traditional folkways was not always an interest for Dr. Brown. He says that “as a teenager, I was running away from that as fast as I could run . . . I just didn’t move in those circles. I was heading toward the big city . . . It was kind of quaint and interesting but I was not going that direction at all.”

In college, the study of history drew Dr. Brown away from engineering because he “was trying to get some perspective on the craziness of American life in the Sixties.” Though Brown specialized in Russian history, Alabama folkways captured his attention soon after he arrived at Samford in December of 1970.

As Dr. Brown and his wife traveled from east Tennessee to Birmingham, he was skeptical about the flat terrain of north Alabama. Brown says we “hit the floodplain across Decatur and Athens, we thought that was too flat, too much sky, we can’t live down here,” but as the plains turned into the rolling hills of central Alabama, Dr. Brown began to feel more at ease. The plains of north Alabama were not the only thing that made Brown uneasy about moving to this state. Brown came to Alabama “scared to death of George Wallace,” but eventually “got to know Alabama . . . below the level of state politics. I got out in the countryside.” This was a place he could live. Even more, this was a place he could love and study.

Folklore began as an experimental course taught during Jan Term of 1973. This first class focused on German folklore from the Grimm brothers to Hitler. Folklore began to morph in the first decade of Dr. Brown’s arrival at Samford. Nearly every major component of the class emerged within his first ten years in Alabama as he built relationships with the people and places of the South. For Brown, people and place, and the interaction between the two, form the backbone of this course stating, “one of the tenets of the course is how removed we moderns are from direct connection with the natural world.”

As Dr. Brown traversed the countryside of the South, he met Henry Upchurch, who first introduced him to basket making using Alabama’s native white oak; Carol Welch, one of Cherokee’s most accomplished basket makers, who taught Brown how to weave a traditional basket using river cane; Mott and Morgan Lovejoy, who took Brown fishing on the Cahaba River for river redhorse (Moxostoma carinatum); and, Rose Bryan, who welcomed Brown into her traditional country store in Freeny, Mississippi. All of these individuals had a unique relationship to their natural environment and community that Dr. Brown sought to communicate to his students.

What also makes Folklore so unique is Dr. Brown’s approach to education. He says that “the best, most lasting education comes from experiencing things.” Weaving river cane baskets, canoeing down the Cahaba River, fishing for redhorse, and singing Sacred Harp in a country church will linger in students’ minds long after graduation. By experiencing various cultures through their folkways, “you see the culture more from the inside . . . you sort of walk a mile in their shoes.”

Spring 2015 Folklore students at Pine Grove Church for Sacred Harp singing.
Spring 2015 Folklore students at Pine Grove Church for Sacred Harp singing.

Adapted from Oral History Interview with James Brown conducted by Evan Musgraves, June 2015.

Photography by Jonathan Bass and Chase Trautwein

The Daniel House: Celebrating Over 30 Years

Samford students outside the Daniel House in 1997 and Samford students in London, Fall 2013. Photographs courtesy of Marlene Rikard and Blakely Lloyd.
Samford students outside the Daniel House in 1997 and Samford students in London, Fall 2013. Photographs courtesy of Marlene Rikard and Blakely Lloyd.

The Daniel House “changed the culture of this university for both students and faculty.” –Dr. Marlene Rikard

Just over thirty years ago, Samford University purchased a Victorian home in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in London.  This pivotal real estate transaction, made possible by the Daniel Foundation, provided exponential travel and cultural learning opportunities for generations of students.  Located in the heart of London, the house serves as a window to the world.  Students can walk out the door and explore the gardens at Kensington Palace, attend Evensong at Westminster Abbey or meander through remains of the Parthenon at the British Museum.  During a weekend in London they can take a train to Paris, or a short flight to Morocco, Dublin, or Milan. It’s location allows for an enormous amount of options that serve, in the words of Dr. Stephen Todd, as “a living laboratory – a museum that they get to live in and explore for days and weeks on end, seeing the actual places and architecture, tasting the food, and meeting the people as they walk the ancient paths.”

Originally called Samford’s London Study Centre, the Daniel House opened in 1984. Over the years, Samford professors made it into a home – some with hammers and nails and others with home cooked meals shared in the community kitchen. This 130-year-old Victorian home has been a beloved landmark for the Samford family and the site of fun student memories as well as academic achievements. The first professors to live in the Daniel House braved cold nights with no heat and took on construction projects to make the house livable for students. To commemorate this special anniversary, a few professors who shaped the Daniel House that students know and love shared their personal memories.

Samford's London Study Centre when it was purchased in 1984
Samford’s London Study Centre when it was purchased in 1984

Samford’s longtime theatre director, Harold Hunt, was in the first group of professors to live in the Daniel House.

Harold Hunt: [My wife] Barbara and I were chosen to go and start the program for that first semester . . . Tom [Corts] and [his wife] Marla, and Ben Brown and [his wife] Francis, and [Ben] Harrison and his wife, those three couples [also] went.

He went on to explain that it was not easy to convince students to come to this new place.

Harold Hunt: We like to have never gotten a group of students to go. It was like shaking the trees . . . . They didn’t want to leave Samford. Even for several years, [they would say] “I don’t want to leave my fraternity [or] I don’t want to leave this.” 

When they got there, he explained, there was still more work to be done.

Harold Hunt: We had to walk across a plank to get into the building. It was – I’ll give you my word – chaos . . . . There were people working [but] nothing had been finished . . . this was Monday morning before the students were coming Wednesday . . . . [Once the students arrived] they were constantly having to move from one room to another [because] it [was] still being worked on.

All and all, though, Hunt’s group ended up having a wonderful time.

Harold Hunt: It was a wild semester, but I wouldn’t take anything back . . . and the students felt the same way . . . . It was an interesting group of people, but we loved them all, we really did, and it was just a good experience for us.

L:  The First Group of Samford Students to Study Abroad in London                                                      R:  Dr. and Mrs. Hunt at the Daniel House.

Marlene Rikard, a former History professor, focused on the cultural benefits Samford students receive through their time at the Daniel House.

Marlene Rikard: It’s the most cosmopolitan city in the world. I mean the entire empire has gone to London. It was a way that you could take sheltered students…and introduce them to that wider world and from there they might go on out to other places, other opportunities. And so it was something that Tom Corts did that changed the culture of this university for both students and faculty. Tom was the one who was the inspiration behind it. The Daniel Foundation provided the money, and they wanted to be anonymous. And that’s why it was just called the London Study Center for so long . . . It has become a remarkable program for the university.

As the years progressed, more and more students began to come, and a new batch of professors came with them.  As Karen Joines of the Religion Department explained, the house itself was always a work in progress.

Karen Joines: I did a lot of work. I painted the balusters for the handrail, sanded down the handrail; I hid a lot of the electrical cords with caulk and painted over it. The fire chief [gave me permission to] redo the door [to the] reading room so it would be more attractive . . . . I did some carpentry on that and the door at the very top of the stairs . . . . On occasion, I ran into Dr. Corts with a saw in hand.  

Samford’s faculty made the Victorian house in London into a home away from home where students can enjoy a unique experience of living and learning alongside their peers and professors – under the same roof, at the same breakfast table.  International travel can seem daunting and always out of reach, but the Daniel House makes this an attainable goal for many by providing an accessible platform for students to explore other cultures.  After thirty years, Samford students know they will never be ‘tired of London.’

Original artwork by Kaleigh Warwick, Class of 2014 and Daniel House study abroad participant.
Original artwork by Kaleigh Warwick, Class of 2014 and Daniel House study abroad participant. Prints are available for sale here at this link to the Samford University Alumni Association website.

Adapted from:

Department of Classics International Travel Pamphlet, Dr. Stephen Todd.

Samford University Entre Nous 1985.

The Daniel House in London, Student Handbook, Samford University.

Oral History Interview with Harold Hunt.

Oral History Interview with Karen Joines.

Oral History Interview with Marlene Rikard.

The Haunting of Renfroe Hall

Renfroe Hall

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

Quinn Kelley, Howard College Class of 1957, probably contemplating her next prank.


Adapted from:

Oral History Interview of Margaret Sizemore by Susan Ray

Howard College’s ‘Almost Scarlett’

 GWTW Collage

Fiddle-dee-dee! Last weekend, movie theaters around the country held special showings of the Academy Award-winning Gone with the Wind to commemorate the film’s 75th anniversary. In January of 1940, the film debuted in Alabama at Birmingham’s historic Ritz Theatre.  The picture was so popular in Birmingham that it was shown in multiple theaters for over three months, unusual for the time. This movie remains a classic of the American cinema, widely beloved (and reviled) by some.

Howard College had a small part in the phenomenon that became Gone With the Wind. Scarlett O’Hara was the central character in the film (as in Margaret Mitchell’s novel). The iconic role was portrayed by Vivien Leigh, but the British actress was not the first choice for the role. Some sources report the film’s original director, George Cukor, (know for his work with Judy Garland on A Star is Born (1957) and Audrey Hepburn on My Fair Lady among other films) wanted Howard’s own Mary Anderson to play Scarlett.

Co-ed Mary Anderson ’39, known to her friends as “Bebe,” got her big break appearing in the play Excursion at the Birmingham Little Theatre. While touring the South for the right actors to recreate Mitchell’s characters in the film version of Gone With The Wind, Cukor attended the performance at the Little Theatre. Cukor immediately sent Anderson to New York for a screen test. She later reported to Hollywood to play the supporting role of Scarlett’s cousin, Maybelle Merriweather. Following the release of Gone with the Wind, Anderson went on to star in many movies and television shows, including Alfred Hitchcock’s classic Lifeboat.  In 1960, she earned a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. It is not surprising that the class of 1939 named her Howard’s most glamorous girl!

anderson GWTW pic

(Mary “Bebe” Anderson, Howard Entre Nous 1937)

Adapted from:

The Howard Crimson, February 1, 1940.

Howard College Entre Nous, 1937.

Lewiston Evening Journal, August 22, 1964

Hollywood Reporter, April 7, 2014

International Movie Database

The Other 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:


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.


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.


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…


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.


Martha Ann Cox Miss Homecoming 1960 EN (3)

Martha Ann Cox was a fixture on this campus for many years.  She made a lasting impact on the lives of students and may hold the record for Step Sing attendance and meals eaten in the caf.  One afternoon over coffee at Panera Bread in the fall of 2012, Martha Ann shared some lesser known stories of her time as a student and how those experiences informed her work as an administrator.  The following are Martha Ann’s tidbits of wisdom on education and light-hearted anecdotes:

My theory is that you learn as much out of the classroom as you do in the classroom.  And sometimes you have to manufacture your own learning experiences, which turned out to help me when I came back to Samford to work.” 

Bending the dress code rules on the old East Lake campus:

Martha Ann:  Dr. Alston Dobbins taught English for a long time, very good English teacher, superb Shakespeare teacher.  I had freshmen English and we had it in a house on a side of the campus that had a potbelly stove in the middle of the room.  Several of us, guys and girls, decided that we would wear Bermuda shorts to his classroom.  That was a no-no.  You didn’t wear shorts anywhere.  If you wore shorts you had your raincoat on.  But we decided, 7 or 8 of us, that we would wear Bermuda shorts.  So we go prancing in his classroom, sit in our usual seat.  He comes in, looks around, announces that he believes some of us need to go back to our rooms, and come back to class appropriately dressed.  We didn’t argue.  We got up and ran back to the dorm.  

Swimming in Reid Chapel …

Martha Ann:   And the chapel was an interesting story, when they started to build the chapel they dug three foundations and it rained.  Well, it was a swimming pool . . .Muddy, oh muddy.  We’d bend them [the rules] a little bit [when] we’d go swimming.  But always in our clothes.  Because at that point at camp and stuff in the Baptist Church, boys and girls didn’t go swimming together.  I don’t know that we ever really got in trouble for that.  We had a few talking to’s.  Don’t go swimming in a foundation!”

Relations with Homewood

Martha Ann:  I don’t know exactly.  Now this was while I was still a student.  Yeah, we’d go over there.  When I say we, it was probably twenty or thirty of us would hang out together.  And see we didn’t have cars.  We would walk to Homewood but we would walk through the houses behind the campus until people started putting up fences and then they had dogs.  There’s always been a little rift between Homewood and Samford.  We may not have done our part in helping Samford by walking through their yards.  Although, we never tore up anything.  

Pulling pranks on campus safety…

Martha Ann:  The campus police at that time were from the Pinkerton Detective Agency.  That was a detective agency in downtown Birmingham.  It was a contract service.  So you know what we called them?  The “pinkies.”  They were the brunt of many stories.  They had a little Volkswagen.  Tell me why campus safety had a Volkswagen?  I can’t figure that one out.  But it got painted pink one night.  Another night some of the guys decided that on that main sidewalk, now remember there weren’t any trees . . . coming in, and the pinkies would drive down that sidewalk at a certain time. . . I reckon they were looking for us.  Some of the guys went over to one of the construction sites and got some concrete blocks and built a little church [with] a little window and a little flower sitting in the window.  And we were all [hiding] over in the bushes, somewhere around the library.  So here come the pinkies and they always cut their lights off, and remember there were no trees and no lights on that campus.  Well, they cut their lights off.  They ran into the brick.  Now we did get in trouble.  We had to pay to get that car fixed.  It didn’t cost much to get a little Volkswagen fixed.

Her most embarrassing moment … as homecoming queen

Martha Ann:  There are many things that happened when I was a student.  Probably my most embarrassing moment while I was a student was [with] my roommate, . . . Gail Hiles.  Gail and I were both nominated for Homecoming queen.  Well, that was about the furthest thing from my mind.  I’m the saddle oxford and socks type person.  Now Gail was absolutely beautiful.  So I was chairing the homecoming that year for Student Government and, so I decided that Gail was going to be the homecoming queen.  I just knew she was.  

So we went downtown and rented furs (stoles), and so I got one [for] Gail – [she] was very dark haired and I was red headed.  [I got the] one that would go with the dark hair.  We had a parade and I looked funny because we had a pageant on Friday night and I was in charge of homecoming [so]  I was running around, changing clothes at the last minute.  

I had borrowed a dress, a strapless, waltz length dress from somebody, [but] failed to take my saddle oxfords off and my socks.   No one told me.  So I go walking on the stage.  And of course, everybody is laughing at this point, and I don’t know [why] because I’m very comfortable. Then I realized what it was, so I started trying to get that waltz length dress to cover up my shoes and my socks.  To make matters worse, I won!

So they put this cape on me, and by this time I was beside myself.  I have always had trouble with my eyes and light, and they had spotlights on the end of the runway and I walked off [the runway].  I fell into some students that were sitting on the front row.  It didn’t hurt me because I had on that big robe.  So, they just picked me up and turned me around, set me back up there.  Unbeknownst to me, my parents were there.  I was a bit embarrassed.

I won Homecoming Queen.  And so the next day at the parade, here I am with this red hair and this very light fur, which should have been dark with red hair.  That’s probably the most embarrassing thing.

Bending the rules for girls under curfew

Martha Ann: . . . girls had to be in by 9:00 o’clock and the guys didn’t have to be in.  Well, the girls would call them to go get them a pizza.  So one night I hear this knock on my window.  And I said, “What you want?”  They said, “Here’s your pizza.”  So I just raised the window up, took the pizza and said, “Thank you,” and put the window down.

The girls in the next room were the ones that had called.  So they came out in the hall and the guys were out there [saying], “Where’s my money, where’s my money?”  Well, I just walked out in the hall, and I said, “Did ya’ll order a pizza?”  

“Yes ma’am.”  

“Well, here it is.”  

Turned around and walked off.  I didn’t say a word to them.  Scared them to death.  


Adapted from Oral History Interview with Martha Ann Cox, October 29, 2012.

Samford Food Project Sneak Peek: The Legend of Saganaki

Dr. Todd cooking greek food2

Students in the Oral History class are collecting recipes from the Samford Family, and they need your help!  Students are interviewing Samford faculty, alumni, students, and friends about their favorite food stories and family recipes.  The finished product will feature recipes, interviews, and photographs—like the following from Dr. Randy Todd, Professor and Chair of the Department of Classics at Samford University:


1-lb Feta Cheese

½ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Basil and Oregano to taste


Cover the bottom of an oven-proof dish with half-inch slices of feta cheese; add basil and oregano.  Bake at 350̊ for approximately twenty minutes or until bubbling. Serve warm with fresh pita bread.


Randy Todd:    A saganaki… is basically fried cheese, or cheese which is cooked in olive oil.  They used to cook it in a skillet, which was called a sagaks or saganaox, so saganki means “with a frying pan.”  I usually use feta, but if you go to Do Di Yos [Homewood Restaurant]  or Greece, they will use a sweet cheese, a kefalograviera . . .  We discovered it [Saganaki] in, of all places, Italy.  I had taken my family in 2004 for a few days after . . . a semester in London.  From Greece, we took the ferry to Italy. . . .  We were in Rome and Florence, and we were staying in this wonderful old one-story hotel that was just down the street from the Duomo [Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore] in one of the buildings that Michelangelo probably lived in. . . . We got there late one night, and the closest place that was open was a Greek restaurant.  We had just come from Greece.  It was so funny. [My wife] came back with all this Greek food, which was pretty good, but one of the things she brought back was saganaki, and my kids loved it!  So we had to go back and get some every night.  I’ve made thousands and thousands of pounds of it. . . .  I’ve had a lot of Greek classes where that was the turning point too.  But you need feta, and the best olive oil you can buy. . . . Good olive oil is key.


As historian John Edgerton once wrote, “Within the South itself, no other form of cultural expression, not even music, is as distinctly characteristic of the region as the spreading of a feast . . . before a gathering of kin and friends.”  No one in the world lives apart from culturally-specific means of preparing, serving, and consuming food.  When we talk about food, we’re talking about culture.  Students are seeking more interviews in which the contemplation of food illuminates a person, a place, and a process—the greatest cultural expression in the South.  Here are a few more food stories:


Sonya Stanley:  “This is my mom’s butter pound cake recipe.  We made it so many times in the kitchen in the house I grew up in…  In 2000, [my parents] moved… but that kitchen, I can just see us there… It had dark wood on the walls. It was kind of small and the floor was old. It was no kitchen you would see on HGTV…but I always remember being together when we made it.  We talked and cut up and talked about funny things that had happened.  She was just a really fun person to be around.”

Dr. Sonya Stanley is an Associate Professor of Mathematics.


Carolyn Rester:   “I got this recipe from my own mom.  She always made great big pots of this because we lived on an Air Force base and people all over loved Momma’s Gumbo.  It was not for the faint of heart dear. It’s hot! … You know, you can tell people, “This is spicy hot,” or “This is stove hot,” and they just don’t pay attention to us, so you might as well let them get it over with!”

Carolyn Rester is a wife, mother, and grandmother to Samford alumni and students.


Karen Howell:  “I will never forget it . . . the oven got too hot and the glass baking pan that the casserole was in . . . exploded.  We were scraping sausage off the sides of the oven for weeks.  Even though it basically caught fire, the family was begging me to see if I could salvage any of it.  I had to tell them that there was glass in the casserole and that we would just have to eat something else.  Every year, my family reminds me of my casserole explosion.  They always say, “Check it for glass first!” before we eat it.”

Karen Howell graduated from Samford University in  1988.


The students are looking for more Samford Faculty, Alumni, Students, Friends, and Family Members to share their recipes and stories.  If you are interested in contributing to the project, please contact Jonathan Bass at   The recipes, stories, and photographs will be available in the forthcoming Samford Food Book. . . .

Interviews conducted by Haley Rester and Holly Howell.


Woodcut from Jonathan Swift's Battle of the Books
Woodcut from Jonathan Swift’s Battle of the Books

To all those suffering through exams this week:

Take comfort in the words of those who have gone before you.  A Howard College student wrote the following reflection on the anguish of examinations, both real and imagined, for a January 1859 article in the Howard College Magazine.  Our thanks to Dr. Todd in Classics for his help on the translations; this particular student, still very enthusiastic about his newfound knowledge of French and Latin referenced Seneca’s Moral Epistles, Julius Caesar, and the Rubicon.  However, some sentiments do not fully translate so with your post-exam ego SUM, sign up for a Greek or Latin course!

The intermediate examinations have, many of them, just passed like whirlwinds over our heads, and whoever has survived one of these “soul grinders” can form a very correct estimate of the manner in which things are carried on.  Books (our pen smilingly records the fact,) have been horribly mutilated, and have suffered the keen edge of the hasty couteau (French: ‘knife’) till naught remains to tell of a quondam (Latin: ‘former’) text book but its back; and all to subserve the wicked purpose of lazy students.  Any one who has passed through one of these can also appreciate the peculiar defaillance (French: ‘fainting feeling’) with which one enters the endroit (French: ‘place’) upon these occasions when “obstinate questionings of sense and outward things” are propounded for the student’s entertainment (?)

We can testify ourselves from honorable experience, that there is no fun in being bored from two to four hours a day sub judice (Latin: ‘under the judge’) during one of these entertainments, sustaining at the same time an “out side pressure,” equal to the enormous weight of a “prospective fizz.”  But after all, there is not generally as much harm done as is anticipated before entering.  When the smoke of the battle clears away so that we can see ourselves again, we are forcibly struck with the truth of the remark, “Plura sunt quae nos terrent, quam quae premunt et saepius opinione quam re laboramus.” (Latin: “There are more things which mentally terrorize us than which physically oppress us and we suffer more in anticipation than in the experience itself.”)

It is quite amusing, however, to witness the dignified appearance of those who have stood the fiery trial and come out sound.  From the most illustrious Senior down to the shabbiest Freshman you can see the ego SUM distinctly marked on every countenance.  Notice that gentlemanly fellow smoking his “stogy” with an air of nonchalance that would do honor to a Turkish Sultan!  He has stood his last examination, (minus one or two) and feels himself to be “like Caesar’s wife, above suspicion!”  What “crowns of glory,” “fields of happiness,” and “temples of fame” does he behold around the corner of five more months, as he forgets the tight place out of which he has just come, and is transported into the future.  But what deep expression of joy upon that countenance!  He is thinking of home and friends, and imagines he is talking to her under the “kind parental roof.”  Who blames him if he does feel a little all-overish when he holds up these bright prospects in contrast with the fading memories of the past.  He is now tired of college life, and would rather seek a “lodge in some vast wilderness,” “some boundless contiguity of shade,” where he will no longer be “cabin’d,” “crib’d,” “confin’d” but free as air, to blow on whom he listeth; and why should he not?  He has struggled manfully to obtain his independence.  We certainly can have no objection, but hope he will wait until he “gets through,” for we have heard of these “constant quantities” disappearing.  Poor Sophs and Juniors how we pity you!  But if you would be true to yourselves, having already “passed the Rubicon,” you must now dash into the “battle of books,” with a “soul in arms eager for the fray,” and you, too, may soon be raised to the degree of gentlemen of the “first order.”

JFK Reflections


Friday November 22, 2013 marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.  As we reflect on that tragic day and honor the memory of the late president, students in the “Oral History” class this semester conducted a series of interviews with current and retired Samford employees and alumni.  Each  day this week, the Bull Pup will highlight these Samford voices.JFK Collage Friday (3)L to R: (Top Row) Governor Albert Brewer, Professor of Law and Government; William Mike Howell, Professor of Biology; William Nunnelley, Senior Editor and Director of Public Relations at Samford; Marlene Rikard, Professor of History; Wilton H. Bunch, Professor of Philosophy; (Middle Row) Jennings Marshall, Professor of Economics; Larry Davenport, Professor of Biology; (Bottom Row) Ellen McLaughlin, Professor of Biology; H. Hugh Floyd, Professor of Sociology; Joe McDade, class of 1961;  Elizabeth Wells, Special Collection Archivist 

Which was more impactful for you: the JFK Assassination, the Nixon resignation, or 9/11?

McLaughlin: Coming from NY and knowing some people who worked in those buildings – [they] were not killed, but they did go across the Brooklyn Bridge to get home – I would say that had more of an impact than either Nixon or Kennedy, because in both of those, there was a resolution— there was a transition that our government had provided for, our system of government.  9-11 there’s still not… there’s still too much emotion all wrapped up in that.  There’s no resolution yet for these people.

Nunnelley: I thought that the Kennedy assassination probably was more impactful because it was so shocking.  It may be simply because I was up there marching in that funeral procession after Kennedy was shot and seeing those hundreds of thousands of people lining the streets.  We marched from the Capital, down to the White House and then over to the church where the funeral procession was held. And then we marched from there past the Lincoln Memorial and across Arlington Bridge to Arlington Cemetery.  We didn’t go into the cemetery, but . . . right outside and we could hear the funeral being conducted.  The guy that blew “Taps” made a mistake on one of his notes which was an unfortunate thing.  Air Force One flew over and all the dignitaries were there.

Rikard: They’re all different. The assassination was of someone that I admired and had policies that I identified with. Nixon I did not like from the very beginning. I used to almost yell at the T.V. when he came on and was lying to us and you knew he was lying. So I was glad when he resigned. I was upset that he was still going to get a pension, but I was glad that he resigned and that we were through with him. 9/11, I was at a different age and it was a different world. It was a world where we had suddenly become aware of terrorism. They’re different events and I don’t know how you compare them. It’s apples and oranges.

Marshall: Definitely 9/11. I mean, if you look at it, we’ve had a number of presidents killed in the past. This was a terrible thing, but it was something that had happened before. The tragedy of Kennedy being killed was over with Oswald being killed by Ruby. With 9/11, with the terrorists killing all those people, and it wasn’t over. You knew that was just the beginning. A terrible beginning.

Brewer: They are all so different.  They all represent failure.  In terms of tragedy — the magnitude of tragedy [of] 9/11 would have been probably greater.  In terms of failure of the system of government in which we take such pride and for which so many have died . . . it just failed.  The person [Nixon] we selected to lead proved unworthy of the trust that was placed in him.  That is sad, a personal failure like that is sad.   The Kennedy assassination just represents an act of violence for what reason we don’t know.  When a flower is just taken from among us — we were deprived of the results of his vision.  He had a vision, a great vision.  Every leader has a dream of the way he wants to go; some are stronger than others.  Few would have been as strong as John Kennedy was with his and his sincerity of purpose.  Our nation, his generation, and the generations to come were deprived of the realization of that dream.

Mayfield: Oh I felt the most impact from the war in Vietnam.  That’s the big if — if Kennedy had lived would we have gotten stuck in Vietnam? I really think that Vietnam, it took ten years, and had more of an impact. There’s catastrophe, then there’s ongoing catastrophe. We can often bind our wounds after catastrophe, but to see people sent off to die, over and over again, in my opinion was just devastating.

McDade: Each one is different, each one has their own unique connection with history and that was a loss of a president.  We had lost presidents before, some died in office and that was a tragic thing.  But I think when terrorists attack you in your own country it is a different experience, so they are unique in their own experience.

Bunch: I followed the Nixon resignation much more closely, the most closely of those three.  I think because I am older and more thoughtful, probably 9/11 had a bigger effect on me because I could imagine outcomes that could be disasters.  I was fascinated by Nixon, but I don’t think I worried that the nation was ever going to fall.  Whereas 9/11, I could easily imagine World War III, and so I think that probably had the biggest effect.

Dvonch: Oh, personally?  Nixon.  I was in Washington D.C. going to college during Watergate and I was taking a class taught by a congressional aid on politics in the election.  and so I volunteered at the White House and I volunteered for Spiro Agnew, opening his mail.  And I wrote Christmas cards for congressmen. So I was very involved and it just totally mesmerized me and also disappointed me. Because of my personal experience being in Washington at that time, I felt like I was experiencing that history, as opposed to just observing 9/11 or the Kennedy assassination. I had met Spiro Agnew, I had been in the Nixon White House.  It was more real.

Wells: I was angry at Nixon. I was angry because he didn’t have to do that to win. He had been so good with China.  Yet when 9/11 happened, I couldn’t believe. I couldn’t understand it. It was so loud. I thought, ‘what is happening?’ I saw it, then I saw the second one hit and realized this is real.  It was just incredulous. I had to teach a class in here that afternoon on the Civil War. Can you imagine what that was like to teach a class on the Civil War on 9/11?

Floyd: 9/11. . . 9/11 was a global issue.  It disturbed me more.  Not necessarily because the towers were attacked and the pentagon was attacked.  Globalization . . . means we are right in the middle of it.  9/11 was so powerful and [it was] symbolic to attack the trade center which was the center of global capitalism and to attack the Pentagon which was the center of global militarism because we are the big guys.

Davenport: Well, this will be unpopular, but I would say the Kennedy assassination, because I was at such an impressionable age.  After that, it was just like the innocence was all gone. The Nixon resignation, we applauded that, we knew it was coming.  That was not a shock.  Now, 9/11, I’m still trying to make sense of it.  But, the first loss of innocence was Kennedy.

Howell: 9/11.  That was the first time we had really been attacked here by a foreign nation.  And so many people got killed. I remember exactly where I was when that happened too. We all thought it was a small plane to begin with, but when we found out it was a jumbo jet, it was crazy.  I was watching the TV when the other plane came in and I KNEW it wasn’t an accident.  We watched the buildings crumble, fall to the earth.  We saw people standing up there and jumping.  I think that had more of an effect on me.  I mean, those people went to work that morning and they had wives and husbands and kids and they never came home. But my daily life didn’t really change after [the Kennedy assassination and Watergate].  Everyone’s lives were changed immediately.  We went straight to war, then we went into Iraq, and the war is still going on. The economy tanked. We are still reeling from that one event.  It rocked the world.

Adapted from Oral History Interviews by Holly Howell, Sara Curley, Ben Woodall, Haley Rester, Smith Ann Burley, Katie Dover, Lauren Ziemer and Robert McNeill.