Oral History Origins

Though the Samford Traditions and Oral History Initiative is only a few years old itself, Samford has a long history with fostering an oral history program. Samford history professor and alum Wayne Flynt is one who paved the way, getting the information necessary to do oral history right. We recently found this 1973 letter to Dr. Flynt answering his questions about recorders and recommending he join the Oral History Association.

We even located one of the Sony recorders Dr. Jones suggested – still here in the history department!  No doubt it recorded many interviews arranged by Dr. Flynt and Dr. Marlene Rikard.  These early efforts by Samford history professors laid the groundwork for continued oral history practice on campus as a way to learn more about ourselves and the stories we tell.

A New Man in Town

I’d like to introduce myself

Though you’ve seen me ‘round

Well, I’m a new man in town

            -George Jones

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

Johnhoward

John Howard 1726-1790

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

Curry

Jabez Lamar Monroe Curry 1825-1903

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

 

 

Frank Samford

 

 

Frank Park Samford 1893-1973

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

Bobby Bowden

Bobby Bowden 1929-

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

MarthaMyers2

Dr. Martha Myers 1945-2002

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

Ralph Waldo Beeson 1900-1990

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

Harwell Davis 2

 

Harwell Davis 1882-1977

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

 

Justice and Mercy

Justice Tempered by Mercy

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

healing arts

Angel of Mercy

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

 

 

 

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

References:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

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:

GREEK FETA SAGANAKI

1-lb Feta Cheese

½ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Basil and Oregano to taste

Pita

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.

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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.

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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:

BUTTER POUND CAKE

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.

GUMBO

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.

SAUSAGE CASSEROLE

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.

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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 sjbass@samford.edu.   The recipes, stories, and photographs will be available in the forthcoming Samford Food Book. . . .

Interviews conducted by Haley Rester and Holly Howell.

Homecoming 1955

With Homecoming upon us this week, we are taking a look back at what Homecoming was like almost 60 years ago.  Howard College Homecoming, October 22, 1955 as covered in the Crimson and the Entre Nous:

Howard Bulldogs vs. University of Mexico Pumas at Legion Field

at the airport - best

Approximately 300 cheering Howard students greeted the University of Mexico football team at the airport when they arrived the Thursday night before the game.

at the plane - best

The game took place at Legion Field and was the first time a Mexican team had played in Alabama.  Howard lost the game 41-13, but the 5000 Howard fans remained in good spirits encouraging their team to the end.

homecoming court

Miss Homecoming was crowned during half-time.  Candidates had to be single and a full-time student with at least 30 semester hours completed at Howard.

car sketch

Howard held a car parade downtown at 10:00 am before the game.  A $5.00 prize was awarded for the best decoration.  Above is an inspirational sketch for a similar contest in 1954 drawn by our very own Lowell Vann during his time as a student on the East Lake campus.