history


17
May 24

The 1934 Glomerata, part one

We’re going back in time 90 years so we can see, just a bit, of what college looked like at my alma mater in 1934. Some of the great old buildings are there, and so parts of the place feel familiar, but nine decades is 20 or so generations of student churn in a college town. And we’re more interested in the people, anyway. What was life like, in a cash-strapped university, in a poor state, in the middle of the Depression? Before the war, before the growth that came with the G.I. Bill, it was a different world — but some of this is going to look familiar.

This isn’t a complete examination, just a quick flip through some of the images and names that jump out. Even still, we’ll be looking through this for the next few weeks. Let’s see what’s inside the first few pages.

This book belonged to a student named Bruce Johnson. I include this inside page because it amuses me, the big bold label, and the chalky material he used to stencil his name. Sometimes these books, when I got them, didn’t have names inside. I presume those were seniors, or people who didn’t worry about mixing up their belongings with their roommates and friends. But Bruce felt a need. Maybe he was a freshman.

I looked ahead. Bruce was a freshman. He was from Montgomery, Alabama, the state capitol. He majored in electrical engineering. I looked ahead into his senior yearbook, the 1937 edition. He was still an electrical engineering major. He played polo — the kind with horses and sticks.

Here he is, freshman year.

Beyond that … well, the guy’s name is Johnson. Not the easiest name to dig up.

I love these humble little pages. Some real thought went into this. Living — joyous and irresponsibly .. the sacred tradition of the past … the challenges of the future … when memories have been dimmed remembrances have faded … the joys of service will have been ours.

Someone was feeling poetic when they pulled that together.

The 1934 edition of The Glomerata, the 37th volume, was dedicated to this man, Wilbur H. Hutsell.

An international figure in the coaching world.

A modern moulder of men and an inspirational guidance to all, beloved by student and colleague, we proudly dedicate this volume.

Hutsell was born in Missouri, attended Mizzou and was a quarter-miler there. He coached track at his alma mater, and then became Auburn’s first track and field coach in 1921. He stayed on until he retired, in 1963. In between, he won three conference titles, won 140 dual meets, losing only 25. He coached four Olympians: Snitz Snider, Percy Beard, Whitey Overton, and Jim Dillon. He also coached three NCAA champions, five AAU champions, and saw five of his high hurdlers win national championships. He also served as the trainer for the 1924 Olympic wrestling team and was an assistant track coach at the 1928 Olympic Games. He was the university’s athletic director, twice. Hutsell is honored in the Helms Track & Field Hall of Fame, the University of Missouri Hall of Fame, the Alabama Hall of Fame and the USA Track & Field Hall of Fame. The track on campus is named after him (and also the coach who succeeded him). And all of that pales in comparison to having this book dedicated to him.

And that wood engraving. Isn’t that something?

There are more. This one was opposite the foreword, which we just saw.

Remember, we are in 1934, so we’re full up on art deco. The bottom panel is campus specific — that’s Samford Hall and Langdon Hall, the administration building and the theater/large lecture hall, respectively. Perhaps the yearbook people allowed for customization for each campus. The larger, top panel, though, is generic, or emblematic. The great man, pushing open the doors from campus, and is preparing to stride into the world.

This one looks equally generic, but no less lovely for it. It is opposite the table of contents in the book. Our great man is hammering something.

And whoever Davis is, he’s not on the staff of The Glomerata.

Here’s another generic one. Our great man is embracing the world. It’s lovely, and it’s stock.

Is that the Lyceum in the lower pane? Whatever it is, it isn’t from our campus.

This is the official coat-of-arms of the Alabama Polytechnic Institute. (API was renamed as Auburn University in 1960, though it had casually been referred to as Auburn by everyone for decades.)

This is a bit of a one-off, and there’s not a lot of information out there about this, so I wonder how official it is. (It was designed by a member of The Glom’s art staff, John Spearman, a junior studying commercial art, from Birmingham.)

The 1872 above the eagle head refers to the year the school officially adopted the Agricultural and Mechanical College name. (Auburn is, in fact, the fourth name of the campus.) It is always kind of amusing to see these older publications move between the 1856 (or 1857 or 1859) and 1872 founding dates. Both are viable, depending on how you like your history. It started as a Methodist school, as East Alabama Male College. Then came Agricultural and Mechanical College of Alabama when the state took control of the school, in 1872, under the Morrill Act. It was the state’s first land-grant university. API was the name from 1899 to 1960, and it has, of course, been Auburn for the last 64 years.

As for Spearman, he was the son of a steel man. John Thurston Spearman was born in 1912 and died in central Alabama in 1987. He married, buried his first wife and then married again in his late 60s. He’s buried in Hoover, in a cemetery I drove by regularly for years and years.

Even if there isn’t a lot on his coat-of-arms, I really thought I’d find more about him, but alas.

Finally, for the day, we come to The Glomerata’s staff, hard at work in this not-at-all posed photograph.

I never worked on a yearbook, though I have, in my professional capacities, casually watched a few staffs put them together over the years. This is about the right level of industriousness.

The editor was a guy named Joe Ledbetter, a senior from Anderson, South Carolina, a pre-law major. He was an ROTC captain, and a member of the Glee Club. And then, after he graduates, he just seems to have disappeared from view.

But I’ll keep looking. And you will too. We are, after all, just getting started. What’s in store for us in the coming weeks of our glance back 90 years ago, into a 1934 yearbook? You’ll have to come back next Friday to see.

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.


15
May 24

Do you know what parados means?

Rainy again, today, and just barely into the 60s. And at least four or five more days of the same. It has been, on balance, a wonderful way to experience … let me just check the calendar here … May.

At this point it’s just funny, really. I’m not even sure, as I type these letters into the word box, what the ideal weather would be, or if it matters. I don’t have to wear a heavy coat or stay under a blanket or shovel anything, and there’s no dangerous storm bearing down on me, so any manner of weather is fine, I suppose.

We’ve got a sign on the front porch, and it says “Hello, Summer!” It is prepared for the somewhat plausible eventuality.

I went for a bike ride this evening. First one in weeks. First there was work, and then there was grading and then I spent all my time visiting with family. So, it was nice to get outside, and nice to have another restart to riding. (This is the way it always works: stops and starts.)

It was cool at first. Almost chilly, even. And then the rain started. I just rode around a few neighborhoods for an hour to wake up my legs and practice clearing the rain droplets from my glasses.

You don’t always appreciate the small skills in life. There’s an art to taking off your glasses, banging them against your person, shaking them at arm’s reach and then trying to put them back on your face. It’s nothing, really, but you must do it every so often because the things you do while riding a bike aren’t always just like riding a bike.

Here’s the thing. It’s the height of style to make sure the arms of your glasses are worn outside the straps of your helmet. This is easy when you have standard, rigid glasses. Place, then slide. But since it was late and gray and raining, I did not wear my usual glasses, but, instead, I was wearing a pair of clear lenses.

They’re actually safety glasses, just about the cheapest pair you can buy at a box store. I probably wouldn’t wear them when real eye safety was a concern, but I picked them up for working under a kitchen counter. If all you must do is keep rust and things from falling into your eyeballs, they were worth the six bucks. But I’d wear something a bit thicker if things were flying with more speed than gravity or had more heft than crumbs of ruined metal. They are terribly, wonderfully lightweight, which, when the repair job was done, made me think I could use them for bike rides. Sometimes you don’t want dark lenses, but you do want to keep bugs or rain out of your eyes. So clear lenses! And these, again, were cheap. And lightweight!

Also, the arms of the glasses are basically the cheapest, most flexible bits of rubber the 20th century ever devised. And they don’t easily go over the outside of the helmet straps. So, for a time, I was riding and breaking one of the important rules. Yes, it’s in the rules.

Rule 37 // The arms of the eyewear shall always be placed over the helmet straps. No exceptions.
This is for various reasons that may or may not matter; it’s just the way it is.

It doesn’t matter. None of this matters. We do it anyway.

Let us, one last time, return to California. This is my last video from our trip in March. If stretching things out two months seems excessive, it is!

I made this video for our friends’ daughter. She loves all the fish in my SCUBA diving videos, and she asked, specifically, if we found Nemo in the Gulf of Mexico when we were diving off Cozumel and Quintana Roo. I did not find Nemo there. I found Nemo, instead, in central California.

 

I’m hoping this video will make her smile.

I’ll let you know.

It’s time once more for We Learn Wednesdays, where we discover the county’s historical markers via bike rides. This is the 35th installment, and the 63rd and 64th markers in the We Learn Wednesdays series. I’m grouping them together because there’s not a lot to say about this particular set.

So, we’ll return to our tour of Fort Mott, where we have recently we saw the old gun batteries and then the observation towers that helped them in their work of defending the river and Philadelphia, beyond.

In its day, Fort Mott was a self-contained military community featuring more than 30 buildings here, including a hospital, a PX, a library, a school and more.

Here’s a not-bad map that’ll give you some idea of the layout. The river is on the left side of this drawing. You can see the pier jutting out into the water. Just above that you’ll see the long row of gun placements. Let’s look behind them. Note the blue bit in the map.

That’s the moat. The engineers had the idea that while the big weapons were defending against vessels sailing up the river, they needed to protect themselves from anyone sneaking up behind them.

On one side of the fort is the river. Since it sits, essentially, at a point on the shoreline, the river also shields another side. Still a third side looks protected by thick wooded terrain and narrow creeks. That one direction opposite the moat is about the only approach an enemy would have, though it is difficult to imagine how anyone could get there to begin with. So we need a moat, and a parados.

The workers dug, by hand, 200,000 tons of sand, soil, and rock. Apparently $1.25 in 1897 is worth less than 48 bucks in 2024 money.

That doesn’t strike me as a lot for moving 10,000 pounds of earth a day.

The parados (Spanish for rear door) is the earthen hill adjacent to the gun battery. It serve as a shield against gunfire from the rear. Construction of the moat and parados at Fort Mott began in 1897 and took over two years to complete.

The earth used to build the parados came from digging the moat; 44,500 cubic yards of earth, over 200,000 tons, was moved with grapples, wheelbarrows, and shovels. The work was grueling. Each man was expected to move nearly five tons of earth daily for a wage of $1.25.

The moat was constructed by hand using shovels and wheelbarrows. Mules were used to help move soil and shape the parados.

The parados originally reflected the “mirror image” of the moat. This feature provided a substantial obstacle to help thwart the advance of an enemy force attempting to capture the main gate line, as well as protect the gun crews from enemy artillery fire.

Here are some of the still standing and preserved barracks the soldiers lived in, just behind the gun emplacements.

I’m pretty sure this window unit was standard gear at the beginning of the 20th century.

An important part of their creature comforts …

Two latrines were built within the parados for soldiers assigned to the gun batteries. The bathrooms each had several toilets for enlisted men, a private stall for officers and a large cast-iron urinal.

Toilets were similar to our modern flush toilets, except that the plumbing took the waste directly to the moat and not to a septic system. Since the moat was tidal and controlled by a sluice gate, the sewage was flushed out into the Delaware River with each tidal change. In addition to the practical necessity of the latrines, this system also served as part of an overall defense strategy: any enemy who tried to cross the moat first had to get through the sewage.

First … eww.

Second … also ewwww.

Thirdly, what if this one engineering choice prevented any invasion plans anyone was considering in the early 20th century. Suppose some Spaniards or Canadians came down, saw that and realized they couldn’t get their men to sneak through a stinky sewer moat to capture a fort so their ships could sail up the river.

Also, the insects out there are pretty intense, too. Not only would you have to wade through that moat, you’d have all sorts of insect bites.

Finally, the state put these signs in. The state needs to update them.

Made obsolete when nearby Fort Salsbury opened just after World War I. The last soldiers were removed in 1922, the fort became a state park in 1951.

If you’ve missed any markers so far, you can find them all right here.

More tomorrow. Another bike ride! And maybe some other things, too!


3
May 24

The 1924 Glomerata, part three

We are, once more, going back in time 100 years for a quick look at a bit of the ol’ alma mater. These aren’t the old buildings, in fact some of the old buildings aren’t even in place in 1924, but some of the young people. They knew an altogether different world than ours. (Part one is here. And you can find part two right here. All of these images from the 1924 Glomerata are going here.)

This is our last look at 1924. Let’s see what’s inside.

This is from the “Senior – Favorites” section. And the cutline says that this was part of initiations. But it doesn’t say, specifically, which one. Three are listed, and two of them are names I recognize. That’s remarkable unto itself. A college can measure generations in two or four years, and two of those organizations have now lasted for more than a century.

What the band was about, however, is lost to time. And maybe that’s for the best.

I don’t know what the first fake photo was, but surely this wasn’t it. Nevertheless, in a dark room somewhere, 100 years ago, someone added some people to this shot, and not very well.

Some of those people just pop too much, no?

The next few shots are from parades, but they don’t have a lot of detail, unfortunately. I’d love to be able to examine them more closely.

Instead we’ll go to the train station. The football team was taking their game on the road, and the students turned out to see them off.

Look, they are cheering from the roof!

This is the marching band, which was formed in 1897 — the first year of the Glomerata, coincidentally. They are marching here before the Tulane game, a 6-6 tie on a mild November day in Montgomery. (Yes, I looked that up.)

That looks to be the entire band.

Today, there are almost 400 members.

The text says “Life for a freshman is very serene until too much paint or ‘freshness’ appears. One is erased with brick and sand, the other with hickory boards. The annual shearing of their curly locks ads much to their education.”

The first photo shows some guys cleaning a building. The next is five freshmen getting paddled for some reason. And here’s one of those things that you can’t hardly imagine happening these days.

I wonder if they were able to shave it, or had to keep this ridiculous haircut for a while.

Here’s another one of those things that are (thankfully) lost to time, the 22nd of February, “Auburn’s traditional celebration of this day is of a military nature. Reviews and drills play an important part in the morning’s entertainment.” Nothing is said about why it is that date. You just had to know it.

The best I can figure is that on Feb. 22, 1862, Jefferson Davis was inaugurated for a six-year term as the president of the Confederate States. That’s just stupid enough a thing to celebrate as to be possible, here.

The other thing that took place that day was the class football championship. Each class formed a team. The seniors beat the sophomores to win the bragging rights.

Here are a few members of the Glee Club, an all-male group back then. There were about 30 members, but these guys had instruments! This is actually the mandolin club.

They are Beverly Holmes Swango, a senior from Birmingham who was studying electrical engineering. He wrote poetry in the campus paper. He died in 1977, in Florida. He was apparently born in Kentucky and, at least for a time, lived in New York. Simpson Roland Foy was born in Eufaula. Simpson was the older brother of James Foy, who generations of students knew and loved as Dean Foy. James learned Auburn’s alma mater as a boy from his brother, the guy in the center, and the man who wrote it. James then went to Alabama, where he was a part of the group that helped rekindle the Auburn-Alabama football rivalry. After his military service, James would eventually spend 28 years of his career working at Auburn. Simpson’s wife was the great-great-granddaughter of Georgia’s first governor. They had a son in Minnesota and a daughter who lived in California when Simpson died in Georgia in 1961. Fred Almgren was born in Massachusetts, though the yearbook says he was from suburban Birmingham. He was big in the Boy Scouts, sold a lot of bonds during the Great War, joined the Kiwanis. He would have a son, Fred Jr., who would become a pioneer of geometric measure theory and a global leader in geometric analysis at Princeton. His second wife was his first doctoral student, and she was on the mathematics faculty at Rutgers. Two of there three children are applied mathematicians. Their grandpa was pretty handy with that mandolin, looks like.

R.D. Yarbrough was a freshman and, as such, the 1924 Glomerata barely cares about him, but I looked ahead. Richard Dexter Yarbrough got married, and they had a son and daughter. They buried their boy when he was just 16, saw their daughter get married in 1950 and themselves got divorced sometime after. He remarried, and then buried his second wife, in 1977, in Arizona. He died a few years later. Robert Lee Simpson Jr., I fear, might have died very young, in 1926. Frank Russey was a sophomore, from Anniston, Alabama, studying electrical engineering. His mother, an English woman, shows up in the newspapers an awful lot. She was active in her community until she died in 1955, and most of his mentions are of the social pages variety, and often going home to visit dear ol’ ma. Frank, though, looks like he had two kids, and lived to see 1989. He’s buried in Alexander City, Alabama, in a cemetery not too far off the highway that I drove up and down when I was on campus, way back when.

There are a lot of these sorts of pages. Some of these jokes were easily forgotten, but you have to think that a few brought up some memory when one of the people in this book flipped through it sometime later in life.

This was a hotel in Montgomery, Alabama. Built in 1908, the red brick building was once the city’s tallest. It served as a hotel for a decade or so more, when the Depression shut it down. Later, the building was called the the Old South Life Building, and then Frank Leu purchased it in 1956 for $1.5 million, one of the biggest real estate deals around at that time. He gave it his own name.

Progress, sir, progress. It always wins out. The city found it to be an eyesore in the 1980s, and various attempts to save it, and others to raze it, all stalled out. Eventually the city, and the guys with demolition expertise won out. Leu died in 1997, just before they imploded it. This was a part of the city’s riverfront revitalization program. It was a parking lot for a number of years. Now, there are condos on that corner.

More ads. Congratulations on another great year. Need some wire? Gulf State had four plants around the state. They were acquired by Chicago-based Republic Steel in 1937. I’m guessing that’s another casualty of the Depression. Here’s an unvarnished look at Republic.

No idea where the ice cream parlor was, and there’s not a lot of evidence, online, that it lasted very long. Good luck with that printing company, too.

I like to think that, when it came near time to publish this yearbook the students putting it together did a last count and realized that they’d erred somewhere. So, at the last minute, they called in that freshman. What’s that rat’s name again? Oh yes, Wilkinson.

Wilkinson! Doodle something. And so he made jokes on the female students. Some of them just a little too regrettably placed in a freshman’s hands.

Wilkinson was James Wilkinson, class of ’27, who would go on to become a prominent architect in Georgia. His firm, Stevens & Wilkinson, designed part of the Midfield terminal at Hartsfeld Airport. This was a $500 million project hailed, at the time at least, as the largest construction project in the South when it opened in September of 1980. His firm had a lot of other important projects too, including the Nathan Deal Judicial Center, Clemson University’s Core Campus Precinct and the Oxford College of Emory University Student Center. The Florence County Judicial Center, two new nursing homes for Veteran Affairs, the historic renovation of Auburn’s Gavin Engineering Research Laboratory, and Georgia Southern University’s Center for Engineering and Research also bear his firm’s design work. They also helped designed some of the MARTA stations and Atlanta’s downtown library. His work is a part of the Emory Law School, too. (At least some of those projects occurred well after Wilkinson died.) He and his wife had three children. They attended the First Presbyterian Church of Atlanta, and they lived in the same neighborhood as the governor of Georgia. Wilkinson died of a heart attack in 1980, just a few months before that airport terminal opened, aged 73.

I just showed you the train station, which is, I think, a fancy restaurant today. Just about the only other thing off campus that these young people would recognize today, at least by its name, is this.

“The store on the corner” is still there, though it’s essentially a gift shop now.

Most of the advertisements are for businesses in Montgomery, Birmingham, and Columbus. Neighboring Opelika had some of their businesses advertising in here. But there’s not a lot of Auburn businesses running ads in the Auburn yearbook. That’s simply because there wasn’t a lot going on in town yet. That would change. But, of the ones in this book, only Toomer’s remains.

Change happens, and its for others to decide how much of it is for the better. In sleepy little college towns it doesn’t come for a long while, and then it comes suddenly. The class of 1924 knew a different place than I studied in, a period which I’ve come to think of as the delayed end of the post-G.I. Bill boom. Generationally, for business concerns, that makes some sense. That was, of course, one of the three biggest catalysts in the 20th century. (The interstate and Bo Jackson being the others.) Another boom came along early in the 21st century, and a lot of what you could see now is dizzingly unrecognizable today to people beyond a certain vintage. That’s a thing people always have to reconcile about small places when they get much, much larger. In the 1920 Census, 2,143 people lived in the loveliest village. In the 2020 Census, the number was 76,143. Estimates put it well north of 80,000 today. No longer a village, they’re not done growing yet.


1
May 24

It’s gonna be performative evaluations

Grading will never end. This was my own doing. The way the semester’s calendar came together I had two classes that were a little heavy in the last three weeks. Not so much as to be daunting for students, but to give them a little challenge. It has, however, become a bit daunting for me.

I have final projects to grade in one class. In two other classes there are two large written assignments, two smaller assignments, and final exams.

So guess what I’m doing between now and kingdom come?

I am making some progress. I got through all of the smaller written assignments yesterday. Trying to build momentum and all of that. That took several hours.

Smaller assignments.

Today I got through the final projects in my New Media class and tallied grades. I’ll go over those again tomorrow to make sure all of the numbers are correct. (Update: The math works!)

And then the work continues all through the weekend, probably.

Yesterday evening I did get out for a brief bike ride. Better work and the weather that’s probably the last ride I’ll get for the next week or more. In that context, this sort of thing is frustrating, but that’s the way it works. At the end of the ride I set two Strava PRs on segments even though they didn’t feel like they were especially strong, so I almost had some form. That’s the way it works for me. A few ups, followed by a bunch of downs immediately thereafter.

I saw some great livestock on this ride, though.

Makes me want to go on another bike ride!

Instead, let’s revisit another bike-themed feature, We Learn Wednesdays, where we discover the county’s historical markers via bike rides. This is the 34th installment, and the 61st and 62nd markers in the We Learn Wednesdays series.

So let’s go back to Fort Mott, where last week we saw the old gun batteries that defended the Delaware River and Philadelphia, beyond.

Today, we’ll examine the observation towers that served those batteries. This is fascinating technology at the beginning of the 20th century.

Fifty-two feet above the ground, soldiers in this observational tower were able to identify an enemy vessel, calculate its speed and distance, note weather conditions and communicate this information to the main plotting room and the ten-inch guns at Battery Harker. Soldiers at the gun batterys used this information to compensate for weather, set the firing range and direction and potentially fire at an unsuspecting vessel.

This tower was completed in 1903. It has two levels: an observation room and meteorological station on the glass-topped upper level, and a target plotting room below, from critical data would be relayed to soldiers aiming the big guns.

We learned last week that when they tested the guns they blew out the windows on the fort, and at nearby farms. These were powerful guns, meant to do terrible damage, and they had to control for the recoil. What went into that is most impressive.

When the big guns were fired, vibrations similar to a small earthquake affected the delicate instrumentation contained with the observation towers. Soldiers had to continuously adjust their instruments to make accurate readings.

To solve this problem Army engineers designed a concrete-filled tube below the tower and attached it between the instrument platform and the ground. The tube was then encased in a steel jacket. It served as a basic vibration-dampening device to protect the instruments and a means of insulating power and phone wiring as well.

These were serious people doing serious work, and they didn’t just invent these techniques on the spot. But every new thing you learn should make you wonder how the once-upon-a-timers came up with the solutions that worked.

If you look across the moat toward the river, you will see the second tower. This fifty-five foot high tower has a single observation level for taking accurate sights on enemy targets. Its primary function was to obtain target information for the twelve-inch guns of Battery Arnold.

And here is that other, simpler tower.

Five gun batteries, two observation towers. And, remember, Fort Mott was just one of three forts protecting this stretch of the Delaware River.

In it’s day, Fort Mott was a self-contained military community. There were more than 30 buildings here, some of which we’ll take a glance at later. There was a hospital, a PX, a library, a school and more. Fort Mott was rendered obsolete when Fort Salsbury became operational just after World War I. The last soldiers were removed in 1922, the fort became a state park in 1951.

If you’ve missed any markers so far, you can find them all right here.

Tomorrow: more grading! And maybe some other stuff, who can say? You can! Try the comments below.


26
Apr 24

The 1924 Glomerata, part two

We’re going back in time 100 years for a quick look at a bit of the ol’ alma mater. These aren’t the old buildings, but some of the young people. They, of course, knew a different world than ours. (Part one is here. All of the selected images from the 1924 Glom are going here.)

Let’s see what’s inside.

One last action shot from the Athletics section of the yearbook. This is meant to offset the posed portraits that will follow. And this isn’t the best quality, but the cameras they were using in 1923 and 1924 were from the 1920s, at best.

Anyway, to the football field, and the rivalry game against the hated and evil Georgia Tech. (No one liked them very much, but it was all in decent fun.)

That’s Ernest Williams, the sophomore from Chattanooga, intercepting a pass from Tech. They called Williams Buckshot, and Clabber. He was a 170-pound halfback and he played defense, because everyone played both sides of the ball. There were only 27 guys on the team that year. Ol’ Clabber was in his first year with the Tigers, but he had a great game against Tech. This interception, recovered a blocked punt. Auburn and Georgia Tech played on a cold and rainy Thanksgiving Day, and no one was thankful for the 0-0 draw.

This is Major. John E. Hatch, commandant of the ROTC detachment. He graduated from West Point in 1911, making him just 37 or so here. He studied artillery, taught at West Point from 1917 to 1920 and was promoted to captain the year he left the USMA and was shipped to Fort Bragg. (His father-in-law also graduated from West Point.)

So this was just another stop for the man in uniform. Hatch and his wife had three children, including two sons who also went into the service. One, John Jr., a major, died in a plane accident in Germany just after World War 2. The other, McGlachlin, served in Korea, and was himself a colonel. John Sr. also left the service as a colonel. He died in Texas, in 1981. He was 94.

I might be a little fuzzy on my fuzzy photos of old weapons, but I believe Company A was “stopping an advance” here with a Browning M1917.

The crew-served, belt-fed, water-cooled machine gun came into service late in World War I, and was a part of the American weapons selection into Vietnam. Depending on the model, it could shot between 450 to 600 rounds per minute.

College kids, amirite?

We move now to the Beauties section, which is the lead item in the Features portion of the book. And, I must admit, I do not understand what the yearbook staff was after here. It’s just the photos and names. This is Miss Ellie May Lawley.

She was from Birmingham, she’s 21 or 22 here. She married Frederick Hahn, who was a senior at the university, and pretty good at basketball. He’d led the team in scoring three years in a row and, indeed, was the captain for his senior campaign. Fred ran the family construction business. (He put in, it turns out, one of my favorite features at The Birmingham Zoo. He built the houses on the old Monkey Island, one of the original attractions at the zoo, dating back to 1955. It delighted guests for 44 years, until they repurposed it and, eventually, demolished it.) The couple raised two sons, one an important banker in Alabama, the other an insurance man in Georgia, both of whom died in 2007. They had a daughter, too, a well-traveled X-ray technician. She passed away in California in 2014. So it sounds like Ellie and Fred did well, family-wise. She died in 1968, he survived her by 16 years.

This is Miss Sarah Bullock. And good luck finding out anything about her. I think, I think she was from Eufaula, a small river town two counties away.

About 5,000 people lived there in the 1920s, and there were some Bullocks, and there was a Sarah of roughly that same age. There’s one dark and blurry photo from a 1923 newspaper that almost helps me confirm it, but it’s not enough to say definitively. The trail doesn’t get any warmer after that, and anything else would be speculation.

Bullock doesn’t show up elsewhere in the 1924 Glom that I’ve found, either. Nor does Miss Hazel Mathes. But I’m a bit more confident in what I’ve found online.

I know someone with this haircut today.

There’s a Hazel Mathes from Fayette, a town of less than 5,000 people today and less than 2,000 then, who is the right age. The Hazel I am following married a man named A. Jesse Duke. (This guy was also a basketball player, and a senior, at Auburn. He was in business in some manner with Hahn, above.) They had a daughter, and then Hazel died in 1943, at just 38 or 39. Their daughter, Doris, died even younger, at just 25 or 26 in 1954. Jesse passed in 1965. There was also a son, Jesse, Jr. He died in 1969, in his late 30s. All four of them are buried close to one another in the same large Birmingham cemetery.

There a lot more to those people’s stories, but it’ll remain a mystery.

You weren’t expecting a big full smile from a 1920s photograph, were you? This is Miss Celeste Vance.

She might have also been from Eufaula. If I have the right person, she shows up a few times in a variety of society pages and seemed to enjoy going to dances. What made up her larger story I do not know.

Isn’t it off-putting when you look at an ancient photo and you think you see eyes that you know? This young woman looks like someone I had in a class four generations later. This is Miss Elizabeth Hill.

Like all of these women, she does not show up in the yearbook elsewhere that I have found, and I spent approximately 45 seconds trying to find that common of a name before giving up.

Another reason to move on was because I have this incredible collage. I’m not sure why she received the special visual treatment. Let’s see if we can find anything on Miss Amante Semmes.

She’s maybe from Mobile. Perhaps she’s the descendant of some celebrated old Confederate naval officer. It’s possible she married a Navy man herself, and if she did, he was a captain in the U.S. Navy during World War 2. If I’ve got it right, they had a son and daughter and she died in 1981 at 75.

But I still want to know about that outfit.

Finally, there’s a little bit of Hollywood dreams down on the Plains.

There are dozens of mentions of Katherine Thorington in the society pages. She traveled a lot, to see friends and take part in events like dances and musical performances, and someone made sure the papers knew about it. She was, I think, from Montgomery, the state capital, a short interstate trip away today. She worked in state government. Seems that she became a secretary for someone(s) in the state senate. But then, after 1932, she doesn’t appear in (the digitally scanned archives of) print again.

I really do want to know about that flower. Proper or perfect accident? Was it symbolic or something she tossed aside? And, just what she was thinking of when this portrait was being taken?

“Good skin day, good hair, a photographer that understands me. This is my moment …”

One of many, Katherine, one of many.

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.