Feb 23

Just 83 years ago …

I have next to nothing today, but there’s always the weather! Before I woke up, some rodent had doomed us to more winter. The high here today was 39 degrees. The low was 19. It was sunny.

Why is it that some creature elsewhere determines my weather? Don’t I have any agency here? Of course, I don’t. The weather is a part of a global meteorological system barely within our understanding, and certainly beyond my control. But, really, the lack of agency is galling. Not me, but some critter that’d just as soon stay in his hole, honestly.

I know how he feels. As soon as I read about the shadow, I wanted to climb into a hole, or at least back into the blankets.

Groundhogs. What a silly, successful bit of marketing. We persist in this because it is fun, right?

And also tourism.

We haven’t looked back at the old college paper in a month. When last we had a look, we poked around in 1929. We’re jumping forward a bit today, to 1940. On this day, 82 years ago, there was a new committee that was formed to think about cheating. I wonder what they thought.

Oddly enough, this guy was on the same front page. R. Temple Greystoke was a man named Ray Price.

He started in the magic business in 1921, and can’t you imagine that was a challenging lifestyle. It begain with kids shows, a dog act and he eventually developed what is called a Spook Show, and became a famous and popular act through the 1930s. Soon after he played at Auburn he returned to a more conventional stage show. He moved home to Alabama when his health began to fail him in 1955. He passed away in 1973.

Dawson Mullen here, he was a BMOC. He was an electrical engineering manager, honor society member, he was on the mysterious leadership council of his time, president of something called the engineer’s council, colonel in the ROTC, captain of the rifle team. And, in this same issue, we learned he was on that cheating committee.

I’ll have to look ahead and see what, if anything, that august panel resolved. Anyway, Mullen, I believe, found his way to Georgia. If I have the right one, he died in 2001. There’s not a lot on him, however.

This bit of copy is a hoot.

The building being referenced here is, I assume, the Auburn Sports Arena. We called it The Barn. It housed basketball starting in 1946. Likely a project put on hold during the war?) The basketball team moved one block over in 1968. The Barn was right across the street from the football stadium. It housed the gymnastics team, it was old and scheduled for demolition. And then it burned to the ground during the LSU football game in 1996. (A different, better, story.) There’s a parking deck in that spot now.

We like to think of the 1940s as being a fully modern time and, in many respects, it was. They were still trying to get driveways paved and sidewalks pour on campus. The depression, in-state politics, and subsequent decades of inattention were just starting to be remedied.

Scandal! Bottom of page one! Oh … never mind.

Grady Young graduated from Georgia and then studied to be a vet, like his father before him. He had three kids and seven grandchildren, and he ran Young’s Veterinary Clinic in Georgia for 42 years before his retirement. He died in 2021, at 82.

Here’s a man that made an impression, and you get the feeling the multi-sport coach (they all coached more than one thing back then) was well liked and would be missed.

Dell Morgan died in a car accident, in Texas, in 1962. He’d spent the day watching his Rice players practice, and was headed out to go fishing with a buddy when another car crossed the center line. Four people were killed.

(I wonder if that tweed jacket ever turned up. That’s one of those mysteries that will stick with you the rest of the week.)

I love the old phone numbers. Dial 611 for flowers. Cracks me up. I don’t know anything about the florist. This isn’t the sort of history anyone on the Plains is good at making readily available, and contemporary florists using SEO has basically ruined any searches of this sort. H. L. Welsted, based on the ads, was around for at least four years, but, again, he falls in the analog canyon, but he is interred in Virgina. He passed away in 1961. The Welsteds had two children, Harry Lee, junior, and Mittie, who had just graduated from AU the year before. Harry the younger became a chemical engineer, and worked in New York and Charlotte. He passed away in 2010. Mittie studied dietetics, got married and died in 2002.

Here are the Welsted kids, from the 1939 Glom. They had long, and hopefully, full and complete lives.

Their parents ran a boarding house. Moved to Auburn and set that up, specifically, so the kids could get an education. That’s what Harry Lee Welsted’s obituary said. And while I learned one or two more things about the Welsteds, but not many, it is important that we don’t stray too far afield. Because that image above is really about the Grille.

I remember the Grille. Dined in it, frequently. One night a week they did a spaghetti plate dinner. If you finished it, they’d give you a second plate free. You could get in there, stuff yourself with two plates of spaghetti, a soft drink and a brownie for about five bucks, and that was one of the better, cheap meals in town. The walls were covered in local lore and history. And in that one particular booth is where the legendary football coach sat.

And then the rent got too high, and the Grille closed in the late 1990s and it still feels like one of the saddest things that could possibly happen in a place like that. We kicked ourselves that we didn’t eat there more — maybe we could have helped save it — but we are all starving and broke college kids and downtown was changing. Downtown was always changing, every so often.

My time was more than a half-century latter, of course, but I don’t have any knowledge of these places, either. Ball’s Bakery was in the neighboring town, but clearly everyone knew of it.

They stayed in business through the mid-1950s. Reed’s? Absolutely no idea. But with a “stay out of the cold” you have to think they had their moments. Winter moments.

The Martin Theatre was still relatively new. It opened in Opelika in 1938, with 1,600 seats, and lasted until 1970 or so. Martin replaced it with one in the strip mall. That joint was the barely-hanging-on dollar theater a quarter century later. I remember watching a few movies there.

The movie they were showing? Wonderful pre-war propaganda. The film highlights the real (and dramatized) exploits of a New York unit during World War 1. Also, the picture was just released the week before. In a time when movies weren’t in theaters everywhere simultaneously, it is amazing that this was on a screen in little Opelika, Alabama, six days later.

The Martin must have truly been the place to go.

Olin Hill? The man with the tape? He’s buried in nearby Notasulga. The headline in the (Mobile) Press-Register obituary was “Auburn clothier Hill dies.” Imagine all the things he saw from 1907 until 2003.

May 22

A light day

Ever get fundraising letters and emails from your alma mater(s)? This 1922 copy circulated in newspapers around Alabama, a sad story that came from one of my alma maters, and it is more impactful than all of those donation letters.

This was part of an important campaign for my alma mater. Auburn was in a deep economic hole compared to the other schools in the state, which had been uniquely successful in creating a deep economic hole for all of its schools anyway. So all that spring of 1922 they prepared for this campaign that they hoped would raise $1 million dollars which would equal … quite a few more million these days.

It was a substantial ask, am ambitious plan and, if you’d be willing to listen to the whole of the tale I can draw a pretty clear line between that campaign and the institutional politics that still appear there, 100 years on.

Ralph Boyd appears in the papers one time before this syndicated piece, in a small brief about his death in Montgomery that February. His last surviving sibling passed away in 2017.

And here he is the year before, somewhere in this group photograph from the 1921 Glomerata, the university’s yearbook.

In the 1922 yearbook there’s a mention of the Greater Auburn campaign. They called it the greatest thing Auburn had ever undertaken. But there doesn’t seem to be a mention of young Ralph Boyd in that edition.

So there’s not much here today, but I did run across that, which is really an excuse to share the greatest century-old graphic you’ve ever seen.

That’s recyclable, is all I’m saying. It’s also amusing that they were using the Auburn name in the university’s campaign efforts, a formal usage if you will, decades before they changed the institution’s name.

Something a little fun … Penn & Teller!

And something amazing … The Punch Brothers!

More tomorrow, I assure you.

May 16

We leap ahead three decades in the Glomeratas

We’re putting one collection, the historic markers, to bed here. May as well get up-to-date with another. So let’s sneak back over to the Glomerata bookshelf. (I have a big bookshelf.) The Glomerata is the yearbook for my alma mater. For reasons that escape me I’ve been collecting them. I have several. (Told ya, big bookshelf.) A little at a time, I’ve been uploading the covers as a section on the site. I’ve got two or three more to go just now.

Pictured below is the 1944 cover. If you click that cover you can check out today’s addition to the group, the 1945 Glomerata. The campus was about to grow rapidly. If the book came out that spring, the G.I. Bill would be signed that summer. And within the year the place would be crawling with veterans ready to put the war behind them and improve their career options with an education. As the campus would grow in the next few years to meet the new crowds of students, they had young men living in tents. Imagine that today.

Anyway, the 1920s and 1930s yearbooks had some great customized covers. And the first photographs on the cover appeared in the 1940s. If you click on 1944 below you’ll see just the second photo cover of the series.

(These days they are all photograph covers and the books are just terribly formulaic. Yearbooks have lost a lot of personality in the last few years.)

See all my Gloms here.

May 16

Back to the Glomeratas

While we are wrapping up the Lee County Historic Marker project on Thursdays, it is only fitting to get the Glomerata collection up to date, too. The Glomerata is the yearbook for my alma mater. I’ve collected them for some reason. Over time, I’ve been uploading the covers as a section on the site. Pictured below, for instance, is the 1914 cover. If you click that cover you can check out today’s addition to the group, the 1917 Glomerata.

You can see my complete collection here.

May 16

Returning to the Glomeratas

Since we’re wrapping up the Lee County Historic Marker project, it seems only right to return to the Glomerata collection, too. The Glomerata is the yearbook for my alma mater. And I collect them for some reason. I have quite a few of them. And, over time, I’ve been uploading the covers as a section on the site. Pictured below, for instance, is the 1904 cover. That one has been on the site for a long time. But if you click that cover below you can check out today’s addition to the group, the 1903 Glomerata.

Glomerata 1904

The 1903, by the way, is the only yearbook in the now 119 volumes that uses a horizontal orientation. You can see the whole collection, here. Want to check out a few choice volumes, dive in here.