Howard Gets Mail Boxes

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If you’ve been on campus in the past couple of months, you likely noticed the flurry of activity happening in the mailroom in the University Center. Ben Brown Plaza has become a work zone with saw tables, trucks, and wood planks. And construction workers are passing in and out of the University Center, where the sound of electric tools can be heard within. For students at Samford, convenient access to mail is a given. Every student has his or her own mailbox. But with more convenient and efficient mediums of communication such as e-mail, this perk can often be overlooked… Until you don’t have it that is. Sooner or later, every student is grateful for that mailbox. Because even now mail still serves an important function.

Today, having a mailbox is a simple convenience easily taken for granted, but this wasn’t the way for our students before. There was a time when mail was a hassle for students, back on the East Lake campus. On January 23, 1942, a Howard Crimson headline read:

“Howard Gets Mail Boxes.”

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The Central Post Office, known on campus as the “Vine Covered Shack.”

A Central Post Office with private metal boxes for students and faculty members will be established in the “vine covered shack” next semester.

The metal boxes were presented to the school by the Alpha Phi Omega, service fraternity, in an effort to relieve the congestion and eliminate disorder under the present mail delivery system.

Under the present set-up mail can be obtained only at certain hours but with the new postal facilities students who pay a fee of twenty-five cents for a box may obtain their mail at any hour of the day.   

Maybe it’s hard for us to understand the excitement this news could have held for students then. Imagine reading a Samford Crimson headline such as: “Samford Gets Wi-Fi Across Campus.” It gives one perspective. So be grateful for all the ways that Samford keeps its students connected with the community at large, even with a well kept, up-to-date mailroom.

March Madness: Dead Cats and Burning Bulldogs

“Dead cats and burning bulldogs preluded the half-finished game with [Birmingham-] Southern. Tension that has mounted and grown game by game during the past several years came to a head Tuesday night. ‘Unfortunate incidents’ come to all our lives, each with a lesson.”

That is how the Howard Crimson described the fracas that broke out during the basketball game between Howard College and Birmingham-Southern in February 1957. The two schools maintained a fierce rivalry most often marked by students traveling to the opponent’s campus for a good-natured tree rolling or some other practical joke.

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Rudy Davidson: Leading up to that game, it went on every year, Howard folks would go over to Southern’s campus and throw a prank and Southern people would come to Howard and throw a prank.

For the 1957 season, however, the students from Birmingham-Southern decided to up the ante in a stunt involving the Sherman Oak, a beloved tree located in the center of the campus. The oak was so famous among students that he was parodied with a weekly front-page opinion column written from his point of view in the Crimson.  On February 15, 1957 Sherman Oak shared his terrifying tale:

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Sherman Oak: The other night, Sunday, February 10, to be exact, when you so rudely attacked our campus, I don’t appreciate at all the damage that was done to me. The very idea, throwing kerosene on me and trying to burn me down. I was so humiliated and scared that I could hardly cry out.

Fortunately, a quick-thinking and resourceful student, who you may remember from our previous post about a certain ghoulish Halloween escapade in Renfroe Hall, was nearby.

Sherman Oak: If the noble Quinn Kelley had not fought your crew off single-handed and very bravely put sand on my flames, I would probably be little more than a burned out stump now.

In addition to the attempted arson of the Sherman Oak, the Birmingham News reported a few Howard girls being woken up in the middle of the night because they heard men chanting “Down with Howard, Up with Southern!” When they looked outside, there were three crosses on fire in front of the burning tree–an ominous warning and a symbol of Aryan superiority during the Civil Rights era.

By gameday, tensions had reached their boiling point. With less than four minutes left in the first half of the game, Howard was beating Southern 33-24.  Chriss Doss later recalled the chaos that unfolded when a Southern player named Glen Clem took a cheap shot at Howard player Rudy Davidson (pictured above).

Chriss Doss: Everything was already heated up and they [Howard] had this fellow named [Louis] Doss, who worked full time running a steam shovel in a strip mine . . . but he was also going to school and playing basketball . . . he was one of our leading players, but he was sitting on the bench. The coach had taken him out and put somebody else in . . . a tall, spindly fella, [who] didn’t look like he could stand too much. He needed to be fed more, but . . . was playing forward. Southern had the basketball and they were going toward their goal when a Howard player intercepted the ball and the player named Rudy . . . was way down toward Howard’s goal and this fellow drew back and threw the ball to Rudy and Rudy caught it, bounced it a time or two and went up to shoot, to make the goal and this Southern student hit him, I mean plowed into him, and of course it was an interesting issue for debate. Did he intend to do it or was it an accident? Anyway, it knocked Rudy into the bleachers . . . and Doss is up [off the bench] because Doss is this terribly muscular fella and he has, during the season, been the caretaker for Rudy, and he saw this fella hit Rudy and he was down there in a split second and drew back and hit the Southern player and. . . laid him up in the bleachers with his fist and blood started squirting. The place went wild. We didn’t have any security . . . this is the only time I ever saw Major Harwell Davis just disheveled . . . They finally got things quieted down and he goes out to the center of the court and says, “Those of you who live on campus, go to your dormitories and stay there. Those of you who do not live on campus, as soon as possible, make your way off of the campus and don’t come back!”

According to the Birmingham News’s account, the fight got so out of hand that the coaches decided it was best not to play the second half of the game. Southern player Glen Clem, who some claim instigated the fight, was severely cut “clear through his lip.”  His teammate, Hilton Jones, had more serious injuries.  He suffered a broken nose, bruises on his back, abrasions on his chest, and had to remain hospitalized due to a brain concussion.

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Unfortunately, this was just the first round of fighting as tensions remained high, Chriss Doss explained.

Chriss Doss: They vacated the building, but there’s a lot of [people] milling around on campus and there were, I don’t know, three or four students down toward the north end of the campus . . . saw somebody do something and then all of a sudden a blaze shot up on old Sherman. Howard students came running from every direction, taking off their jackets or getting anything they could to beat it out.

With the fire extinguished, the perpetrators were apprehended and their fates rested in the hands of Howard students who became judge, jury, and…barber. Rudy Davidson recalled the vigilante justice handed out by the students of Howard.

Rudy Davidson: Well some of our fellows captured them and when they caught them, some of our folks talked the night watchman into opening up Old Main, to hold a trial. So it woke everybody up on campus and the auditorium soon filled up and I don’t know if they provided a defense attorney for the perpetrators or not, but we had our pre-law students to judge them and they held court. Of course they found them guilty and they asked what was going to be the sentence.

The Howard students decided that the punishment would be an H shaved into the heads of the offenders, who begged the court for mercy, as this would cost them dearly, in more ways than one.

Rudy Davidson: The Southern boys made a plea, “Please don’t shave an H in our head. We’re ministerial students . . . We have church and we can’t do that. We’ll lose our pay.”

After experiencing two attempts of burning the Sherman Oak, a cross burning, a basketball brawl, and then a third burning attempt, the Howard students were in no mood for leniency, however.

Rudy Davidson: They made their plea and I don’t remember all of it but anyhow the Baptist ministerial student says, “Well we preach the Word and we don’t worry about reimbursement. Shave the heads.” So we shaved the heads, shaved an H in their heads and turned them loose.

It is unknown what became of the men who had to travel home and, assumedly, to church the following Sunday with a “H” reminiscent of a scarlet letter, shaved into the back of their heads.

Howard and Southern’s basketball coaches deliberated on whether or not to have their teams play each other again at all. Howard’s Coach Virgil Ledbetter, explained that he was willing to continue playing Birmingham-Southern in the coming years as long as his opponent was willing.  Coach Bill Burch, the head coach of Southern’s squad was unsure, as he explained to reporters after the game.

Coach Burch: I hate to make a statement in the frame of mind I’m in right now.  I will say I’ve never seen anything like it in my life. I know I try to control my bench. If my boys can’t play basketball, I don’t want them out.

In the end, the two schools did not play again until 1961, after heated tempers cooled down, bruises healed, and hair regrew.

  • Glen Clem went on to a successful career coaching basketball at Walker College in Jasper from 1959 to 1996.
  • Hilton Jones recovered from his injuries and graduated from Birmingham-Southern College later in 1957.
  • Rudy Davidson graduated from Howard College in 1958 and worked for the State Department of Education and taught school finance and organization at UAB for 24 years.
  • Chriss Doss graduated from Howard College in 1957 and went on to study theology, library science, and law. He worked as the law librarian at Samford before working in state and local politics. He returned to his alma mater to work as director of the Samford University Center for the Study of Law and the Church until his retirement in 2005. Today he operates a law office in Hoover.
  • Sherman Oak was eventually struck by lightning and cut down in 1998. The oak is survived by several trees at the present campus of Samford University.

Adapted from:

The Birmingham News, February 13, 1957.

The Howard Crimson, February 15, 1957.

Oral History Interview with Chriss Doss conducted by Michelle Little, 2014.

Oral History Interview with Rudy Davidson conducted by Michelle Little, 2012.

Mysterious Lovers Call

Old Main in 1925
Old Main on the East Lake campus in 1925

While many couples choose Samford’s Reid Chapel for their wedding, not many would think of Samford Hall. Almost every weekend there are weddings in Reid Chapel, but while Howard College was in East Lake, students did not usually wed on campus. But on Valentine’s Day in 1925, a mysterious couple appeared at the administration offices in Old Main on the East Lake campus requesting such a venue. The February 18, 1925 Crimson recounts the story:

Mysterious Lovers Call At Dean’s Office

Cupid Wins as Unknown Couple Weds in Main Building Valentine’s Day

 An event, the likes of which never occurred before in the Administration building during its thirty-eight years came to pass Saturday afternoon at 4:30 o’clock in the Dean’s office. Yes, the very office where hundreds of knowledge-seeking students have enrolled . . . and where innumerable students have discussed and solved their problems of college life; the office that has known naught but formal discourse and cold business, was flooded with romance without warning when a pair of “victims of the season” were joined in happy wedlock inside its walls.

The couple were not connected in any way with the college, however, and gave their names as Miss Mary Alice Hartley and Mr. Thomas Nathaniel Graves. The groom gave his address as 8229 Eighty-Second Street, East Lake. The parents and address of the bride are not known.

Witnesses of the scene stated that the couple came [to] campus…cooing like a pair of turtledoves in springtime. Upon reaching the main building, they immediately entered through the front entrance, made way to the office, and calmly stated that they wished to get married and inquired if they could get a minister to perform the required ceremony, witnesses confirmed.

It being 4:30 o’clock in the afternoon, Professor Burns, the Dean, was not in–Miss Moody and Miss Kendra, student secretaries, being the only ones present. However, after recovering from the unusual request and being convinced that the couple were not applicants for registration, Miss Moody complied and telephoned the Divinity Club for aid.

Responding to the call, several student-preachers made haste to the rescue and found it to be no joke. Accordingly, J.D. Wyatt, ministerial student at Howard–being the oldest of the preachers present–relieved the situation, (leaving out the phrase “to obey,” . . . so witnesses asserted.)

The bride wore a blue coat-suit, trimmed in fur to match.  She appeared to be about 18. The groom was considerably older, probably 30, and wore a business man’s attire.

After appropriate caresses and exercises, the mysterious lovers departed from the Dean’s office chewing their gum nonchalantly. We know neither from whence they cometh, nor whither they goeth.

Adapted from:

The Howard Crimson, February 18, 1925.

Honoring Samford’s Veterans

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(Samford paid tribute to the faculty, staff, and students who served our nation in the armed forces in the dedication of the 1948 Entre Nous.)

Samford has a rich history of military participation. At the outbreak of the American Civil War, Howard College president Henry Talbird and many Howard students left Marion, AL, to organize a regiment of Independent Volunteers in 1861.   Future Howard President Harwell Goodwin Davis, along with many other Howard faculty members, served in WWI, where he was promoted to Major, wounded in action, and received a citation for gallantry. Later during WWII, “The Major,” recognizing the needs of the struggling Howard College, invited the Navy to host a V-12 training unit at Howard’s East Lake campus, which ultimately played a huge role in saving the struggling school. Countless men and women from Samford’s ranks have proudly worn the uniforms of our nation’s armed forces, and many continue to do so today.

Several Crimson articles paid tribute to those who served, like the following article that listed the Howard men (and women) in uniform:

Howard Men are Doing Their Share for Freedom 

Ex-football Stars, Profs, Crimson Editors—They’re Fightin’ All Over the World.

From the Solomons to Suez – from Africa to Australia – and right here in the good ol’ U.S.A., Howard men and women are showing the world how to fight for freedom. They’re everywhere in every phase of the war effort, doing their share and more. Ex-football stars, professors, pharmacists, doctors, chaplains, public relations officers, physical instructors – battling the Japanese in the jungles of New Guinea, dueling the Germans over the African desert, teaching physical fitness to future aviators in Texas. Here are som [sic] typical Howard men who are serving:

  • (jg) Ernest H. Dunlap of the U.S. Navy, wounded in action and awarded the Navy Cross.
  • James Stuart (Coach Jim to you) physical instructor at the Naval Reserve Air Base in Dallas, Texas.
  • Amasa B. Wingham, director of public relations for the Navy in Alabama.
  • Osce M. Bentley, an “All-Southern” drum major and a campus tradition, in the Naval Reserve.
  • Josiah Bancroft, died in service of the U.S. Army Medical Corps.
  • Ensign Olivia Philabert, only Howard girl in uniform. She’s in the WAVES…

– Howard Crimson, December 4, 1942

One Howard student, who preferred to write under the initials H.R.L., put everything in perspective in a touching opinion piece for the Crimson.  For Thanksgiving 1941, he or she reminded fellow Howard students just how much they had to be thankful for because of the bravery of every American soldier:

Alabama’s Hills Are Beautiful With No Machine Guns to Mar the Foliage

Howard’s campus and the mountains around East Lake are in the height of one of their full dress parade. The Beacon Mountains toward the east with its beautiful array of fall colors was a scenic background for the Howard-‘Nooga game last Friday evening. Many times during the game our eyes would wander from the field where boys in red and blue and yellow and black were fighting for possession of the ball and gaze at nature’s colors across the way. To our left was stately Main, standing in all her lofty whiteness against a background of a setting sun.

Due, perhaps, to the fact that we have had a few frosty nights followed by balmy days, the colors of the leaves are blended with a skill more than human. The roads out of Birmingham are bordered by trees of reds and yellows and browns and appear to have been planned to mix most effectively with the dark green of the pines.

It is not unusual for us to forget to see and enjoy the little things of beauty about us, but when out most inward thoughts and feelings are wrapped up with our personal problems, we find a release when we turn them outward and view the handywork of Mother Nature’s brush.  During this season in which we give thanks for a harvest of blessings, we think of fields beyond these seas that yield little but broken plows and bodies of men. We know not what another Thanksgiving may be like, but whatever the coming days may have in store for us, we hope we may still be alive to give thanks. The hearts of men in other lands may be slow to give thanks this year, but but here where our roads are not filled with fleeing women and children and aged fathers; where our barns and bins and warehouses are stored with the harvest of the year; where we can look at the colors of nature without being afraid that a machine gun lies beneath the foliage, we are thankful–H.L.R.

-Howard Crimson, November 21, 1941.

Happy Veteran’s Day, and thank you.

 

Adapted from:

Howard Entre Nous and Howard Crimson

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

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.

The Rush for Chow

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We all faced some unusual circumstances this past week, but Samford rallied and in the words of new history professor Carlos Aleman, we made new believers in southern hospitality. The Snowpocalypse of 2014 left faculty, staff and commuter students stranded on campus.  Students slept on cots in the gym and chow lines were long.  This is reminiscent of another time in Samford’s history when students endured a much longer displacement on the East Lake campus during World War II.

In no way are we comparing a snow storm to the devastation of World War II, but Howard College alumni Page Kelley expressed some similar sentiments about the unusual circumstances in the below reprint of a 1945 Crimson editorial he wrote explaining how the war changed Howard.

Howard is by nature a peace-loving institution.  In fact, she is a pacifist.  War is contradictory to all she stands for.  She hates war so intently that she early pledged her support to our nation’s efforts to bring to justice those who were responsible for beginning the war.  She actively entered the war with the coming of the first Navy V-12 unit in February of 1943.

If Rip Van Winkle had been a Howard College student, he wouldn’t have needed twenty years of sleep to make him feel like a complete stranger on his own campus.  Just a five-year doze from 1940 to 1945 would have been sufficient.  Howard is at war, and the war has cast its influence over all phases of campus life.

Howard is proud that she can point to some of these changes and say, “This is Howard at war.”

It is the Navy.  It is the sight of blue ranks of men marching briskly around Berry Field, or standing stiffly at attention as the clear sound of a bugle floats over the campus.  It is a classroom filled with sailors.  It is flag-raising at sunrise.  It is a group of men entering Smith Hall and climbing stairs where “only ladies had trod.”  It is a wreath placed on Tar Baby’s grave at Christmas.  It is a disappointed sailor leaving the post office.  It is the rush for chow.  This is Howard at war.

It is the entire student body assembled in the auditorium on D-Day for prayer.  It is paying tribute to Howard’s heroes and listening to Rod Calhoun’s adventures.  It is being addressed by the C. O. at Thanksgiving.  This is Howard at war.  It is a co-ed seated at her desk before his picture, holding in her hand a telegram which begins – “We regret to inform you…”  She, too, is a part of Howard at war.

Howard IS at war.  And she is proud that she can say, “I have fought the good fight.”  The war may have changed Howard.  It is certain that Howard has helped to change the war. –Page Kelley

Page H. Kelley graduated from Howard in 1945 and went on to become a renown Old Testament scholar and author of several Hebrew textbooks.

Campus 1.13

Exams

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.”

All Shook Up – The Modern Dance

Navy boys 1945 EN (2)

The spots have not dropped from the leopard.  From Babylon, 300 years before Christ, until this good year 1919, we find these same obscene, vulgar, sensual dances paralyzing society and sending to hell virtuous women and promising men. – the Alabama Baptist, May 19, 1921

During World War II, Howard College became one of a hundred or more schools to house the U.S. Navy’s V-12 program.  This wartime initiative was exactly what Howard needed as it struggled to emerge from the Great Depression.  The college limped through the 1930s with significant pre-existing debt and limited denomination support.  Without the increased enrollment and federal funds provided by the program, Howard could not have recovered financially.  Beginning in July 1943 the Navy took the campus by storm, displacing students from their dorms and altering Howard’s culture.  In previous years, the Alabama Baptist boasted of Howard’s strict rules, “No drinking, gambling, girls smoking, or dancing is allowed.”

While it is true that the Howard boys attended soirees at the Judson complete with piano, harp, and vocal performances during the early years on the Marion campus, Howard administration effectively banned dancing on the East Lake campus in the 1920s.  Throughout the state church leaders often warned against the sins of modern dance, leaving most Baptist college coeds bereft of dance instruction.   One graduate, Frances Williamson ’47, recalled how the V-12 boys taught the girls how to dance and play bridge.  According to one Crimson writer, the Navy knew how to throw a party:

FRIDAY NIGHT HOP

Last Friday night, January 19, 1945, to be exact, a dance was held in the gymnasium, following Howard’s decisive victory over a strong Acipco team.  Such an occasion as this may not ordinarily have called for any comment on my part but from what I observed at the shindig, I believe commendations are due to everyone who had any part in sponsoring it.  And the orchestra, with Maestro Hank Beebe at the baton was one of the biggest surprises of the evening . . . not that we didn’t expect great things from this talented group of swingsters, but they more than lived up to anything we had hoped for.  In the form of refreshments, we had the firm of Messrs. Gregg and Nuremberger, Inc., cooking up a concoction known as “Punchy Punch,” which they gladly served to anyone thirsty or foolish enough to try it.  All joking aside, thought, I really hope that this dance may be the beginning of great things to come; that it may establish a precedent here at Howard.  Although it was sponsored by the Navy, everyone was welcome – girls, civilians, girls, sailors, and more girls. Such a dance as this provides fine wholesome entertainment for everyone; good music, pleasant companionship, plenty of exercise (especially for the jitterbug) and an all around atmosphere of friendliness.  My suggestion would be to make such a dance a bi-weekly affair here.  Coming at the end of the week, it would not only provide a good place to relax and have some fun after five days of work and study, but would also greatly enhance Howard’s standing in the social register of colleges.  When we first arrived here, we were told of the friendliness of the institution which we were entering – we have found this to be very true.  I believe, however, that by instituting a bi-weekly dance Howard might be able to change its well deserved name from “The Friendly College” to the even better title of “the Friendlier College.”

So, fellow bulldogs, all that remains is to lace up your dancing shoes and keep this Samford tradition alive.  Save a dance for us!

Adapted from Howard Crimson, January 26, 1945, Howard College Magazine, Volume 1:4 Jan, 1859, conversation with Frances Williamson, Birmingham, AL, October 2012, and The Major, Harwell G. Davis: Alabama Statesman and Baptist Leader by Susan Ingram Hunt Ray

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