The 1924 Glomerata, part one

We’re going back in time 100 years so we can see, just a bit, of what college looked like at my alma mater in 1924. Some of the great old buildings are there, so parts of the place feel familiar, but a century is a long time of course, especially in a college town. Before the growth that came with the G.I. Bill, before the Depression, and in already cash-strapped 1920s, it may as well have been a different world.

Let’s see what’s inside the first few pages.

The cover is a simple, yet elegant one. An old version of the seal in the center, the iconic Samford Hall is stamped into the cover.

I love these front page leafs. They’re all gorgeous, glorious art in their own way.

Generic, unique, symbolic or space-filling, they all look so handsome. I only share it here because we all ought to appreciate these pages.

“Eat ’em up Tiger!” was one of the expressions of the day. That one should come back.

The 1924 Glomerata is dedicated to Dr. John Hodges Drake, who would die in 1926, at the age of 80.

He’d been a drummer boy for the Confederate Army. Depending on the exact timing, he would have been 17-20, and serving in Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida and South Carolina. He’d been with the university since 1873, almost the very beginning.

Fifty-three years of medical practice of a college community! His obituary said he never missed a day of work, until in his final months of service.

Drake was the third. His grandfather was too young for the Revolutionary War, but John the elder told tales of watching the British and the Americans fighting hand-to-hand, and seeing his childhood home destroyed in North Carolina.

John Drake VI, a Korean War veteran, died in 2007. He had also lived a life of service. There’s a John VII out there, today. He’s old enough to have a VIII and IX out there, but I didn’t look that far.

In my day on campus, I was tasked with documenting the renovation of Drake Hall, the Medical Clinic, which was by then well past its prime. Longstanding, like the man, the building remained in service until 2005 or so.

In my mind, all of college should look like this.

Big coats, folded hats, high collars, neat ties and tall slender people wearing too many buttons.

Whatever all of that means.

Here’s a tip for all of you interested in illustrating the sub-tropics, though: If the trees have leaves, there is absolutely no need for a coat whatsoever.

This is Spright Dowell, the president of the university. If he looks impossibly young, this photo was at least three years old, so he’s in his early 40s. He started in the job in 1920, and it was a fraught administration.

In 1921 Dowell said the college was in debt, the faculty was underpaid, the buildings and equipment were falling apart. Calling it “a long period of undernourishment” and pleaded for more money from the state.

By 1923 he was jousting with his second governor over funding, and then the Extension and Farm Bureau dust ups came to the fore. It was power politics.

That December the alumni were screaming for his head. His critics said Dowell lacked experience in higher education. They said he lacked respect among the students, who hanged him in effigy, which isn’t reflected by the yearbook. The alumni said he failed to inspire the faculty, saw enrollment dip and hadn’t kept up with the competition.

The board of trustees supported him, but he left in 1927, for a long, successful career running Mercer University.

Remember what I said a moment ago about leaves and coats? That doesn’t always apply.

They got four inches of snow, and somehow the yearbook was able to resist the urge to run this until page 30. Snow is pretty rare there.

This snow fall earned these three photos to document March 14th. They canceled baseball because of the weather.

Samford Hall and the president’s mansion are both still there. No idea when they last saw that much snow.

And apparently the male students terrorized everyone with snowballs. Go figure.

This is Earle G. Lutz, Jr., the editor of this edition of The Glomerata. He was a senior, an architecture major from Montgomery.

He stayed in the area and designed the new municipal building for neighboring Opelika. It’s still standing, a clean, neat, three-story brick bastion of local governance.

He and his wife had a daughter, Ann, and she had two degrees from the University of Alabama, worked at Bell Labs and taught computer science at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga.

Think about it. This man was born in 1902. His daughter helped develop email.

He died in 1971, and is buried in Montgomery.

I can never get over these beautiful section setters.

The table of contents calls them each books. We won’t spend a lot of time in athletics, because many of the pages are a tiny bit damaged and most of them are headshots, anyway.

But it’s just an excuse to share this.

But first, these three guys who are looking for a tenor to round out their trio. Or they’d like to tell you about a new lawn treatment system … or is it bowling shoes …

These are the cheerleaders. You can just see it in their faces, faces full of cheer.

Donald Cathcart was the world’s oldest junior. The middle-aged Montgomery boy would study medicine at Tulane and became a pediatrician, practicing in Georgia. He worked on the Polio vaccine, raised money to purchase iron lungs also researched an anti-itch drug used on Measles and Chicken Pox. He died in 1982, at 77.

Bill Wood was a senior, from Montgomery, and he was one of those fellows that did a bit of everything on campus. He even wrote the alma mater in his senior year, making this the centennial. Auburn is pretty lousy at recalling it’s own history (half the time they say he wrote it in 1946, for example) so no one has likely noticed. Wood taught history and English at the university for two years, and then left to go in the insurance business. He died in 1933, at just 31.

Blucher Cooper worked for Dixieco Company, which could have been anything back then, frankly. He was in Chicago on business when he died, in 1947. He was just 44 years old, and had one son.

“A man who will always live in Tiger traditions.”

I’ve never heard of him. Which is my problem, not his. Being someone that lives on forever is the goal of everyone who devotes so much of themselves to something so earnestly.

Young Rip here was a jock’s jock on campus. He was involved with all of the sports in some kind of way, but football was his natural fit. He’d only played two games in high school, and he’s listed here as weighing 178 pounds, radically undersized even back then.

He studied veterinary medicine in the College of Agriculture, got married in 1926 and then went back home to northeast Alabama and became a school superintendent.

They were still calling him Rip when they swore him into office. He died in 1971.

One more of our new friend Rip, who played on the varsity team all four years. And this year was a pretty bad one. New coach, young team, the punter had the best success.

This is from the Georgia Tech game. Auburn was 3-3-2, Tech was 3-2-3 and it was a cold and rainy Thanksgiving day, but 27,000 people came in to watch the game in Atlanta. The yearbook says Fox Howe had a punt sail 82 yards in the cold, wet weather.

Shaking hands with Rip here is Tech’s John McIntyre. He lived to see most of the 1990s.

This game finished as a crowd-pleasing 0-0 tie.

More from 1924 next week. The full collection will live in the Glomerata section, of course. You can see others, here. Or, to just see the beautiful covers, go here.

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