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.

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