history


5
Jul 24

The 1944 Glomerata, part one

After several weeks away from this feature, we return to the dusty old pages of old yearbooks. Pretty pictures from the Plains, incoming.

That’s the 1944 edition of The Glomerata, the yearbook of my alma mater. I collect the yearbooks. For one, they look great. For another, it’s a unique, and contained, hobby. I like that it was a finite thing. The first Glom was published in 1897. (I don’t have that one, so if you run across it … ) and the last one I’ll collect was the 2016 book. There are 120 in between. (One year they published two books.) I now have 112 of them.

I’m sharing some of the interesting images here as I digitize them, you can find them all here.

While war was raging abroad, at home, on the college campuses, a different battle was being played out. Funding was always the question, always the fight. The University of Alabama was in a near-blood feud with Auburn, and the University of Montevallo. The legislature created the Alabama Educational Survey Commission to prepare recommendations for the 1945 legislative session. The people running the campus in Tuscaloosa sent a contemptuous report to that commission, which got Auburn president Luther N. Duncan’s attention. He said he’d never seen “a bolder, more deliberate, more vicious, or more deceptive document.” Duncan turned to his alumni base and said that if supporters of Auburn and Montevallo did not rise up to combat “this evil monster,” it would consume them “just like the doctrine of Hitler.”

It would be a mistake to think the tension between the two schools was about football.

And if the war rhetoric was overcooked between state-level officials, war was almost omnipresent for the people.

Just before school started, a young John Kennedy had his PT boat rammed and destroyed in the Pacific, the Allies conquered Sicily. In September, Dwight Eisenhower announced the surrender of Italy. That fall Americans were looking for places like Bougainville, Tawara and the Gilbert Islands. Stalin, Churchill and FDR met in Tehran that November. The following month, listeners heard Edward R. Murrow’s classic report, “Orchestrated Hell.”

At the end of 1943 and the beginning of 1944, The Great Depression ended, the Allied slog up against dug-in Germans through Italy dragged on. The Marshall Islands, Monte Cassino, Leipzig, the Mariana Islands began to enter into the newspapers in February. By mid-March, the war talk was about the bombing of Vienna, the Russian army reaching Romania and Germany occupying Hungary. In the spring of 1944, everything was still uncertain, and this is how some young people got up and went to school each day.

In 1944, the war shadowed everything, and its all over this yearbook, too, as we’ll see.

The book I have is signed Mrs. Joe H. Page. She, or someone else, helpfully told me where to find Joe’s photo. It’s in the Army’s Specialized Training Program. We’ll talk more about that program in a week or two, but the ASTP was prompted by General George C. Marshall’s recognizing that the U.S. Army had to overcome a shortage of soldiers trained in a variety of professional and technical capacities. Most of the people that went into ASTP were active duty soldiers, and they were enrolling for up to two years of engineering, languages, dentistry and more.

It took up 20 pages of this Glom, and there are 800 headshots of the people who made up this special category of the student body. Joe Page was one of those men.

Joe was born in 1924. At least one branch of his family could trace its lineage in Alabama back to territorial days. He died in 1980. His wife, Betty, lived until 2009. I looked in a few of the other books and I don’t see evidence that she attended Auburn. Her sister did. We’ll meet her in three or four weeks. But this is Joe, and this was his Glom. He and Betty had four children, all still living in Alabama.

The first full page sets the tone. It’s bright, and also subdued. It has playful graphics. And the future they saw was in science.

Then there are a handful of well done, double-truck photos, wide shots, atmospherics, silhouettes of people walking, and buildings. It comes with a ribbon of text that runs across the four pages. Here’s one half, just because the composition was promising.

The non-poem says:

Morning’s mists disappear into the early sun and day is launched in lonely splendor ….. to ripen, then, into a brazen noon — holding its bated breath under a heated sky … and chills into the long limpid shades of evening — to remain as a memory of our loveliest village.

I never know what these passages are meant to mean, or how they come to pass, and time has forgotten the unimportant conversations that came before them. Who supported the prose, and who groaned about it? Doesn’t matter. It’s surely meant to set a tone, that earnest tone we all had at 21.

Part of that passage, the brazen noon part, is over this photo. It’s another nice two-page spread of Ross Hall. It housed chemistry and became home to mechanical, chemical and aerospace engineering in the 1970s. I was always ambivalent about the building, but it’s a lovely composition. There are nine cars in the shot. And though the modern view has lovely landscaping, there are a lot more cars in view if you stand in that exact same spot today.

I wish we knew who these people were. Or where this was. We’ll have some open questions going forward. The 1944 Glomerata, at least in the early pages, is a bit spare in terms of cutlines. I also wonder if that hat was his. I wonder which of the two was more interested in this chat. And what was their relationship? And what did it become? and could either of them imagine we’d be contemplating this one moment, 80 years later?

That page was titled “diversion,” for some reason. The next page was “aversion.” I guess we disliked shop assignments and studying and what not.

All of that comes before the foreword, which reads:

We give you this Glomerata of 1944 as a record of some of your days at Auburn, with the hope that in future years you may open it to recapture in memory the spirit of the fun and the work you knew, and the friends you made and kept here in the “loveliest village.” In a warring world some things wave and fall, succumbing to the tide of change, but those days at Auburn will remain in your mind as a brilliant ray when the dull fog of strife is long forgotten. May this book serve to help keep that memory bright. This, then, is your Glomerata for nineteen hundred and fourty-four.

There was always the war. This is Lawrence Cottle and Gibbs Ashley, the presidents of the executive cabinet. This was an undergrad organization that programmed campus activities. They also assisted in the community drives for war bonds, the Red Cross and more.

Cottle was a senior, from Montgomery, studying veterinary medicine. He married a woman who, I think, was a sophomore in 1944. He would live to 86, having run a small animal clinic in Mobile. His wife, a teacher and a tapestry artist, died just a few months before he did, in 2010. They had three children, six grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Ashley was also a senior, from a small town in Florida that had less than 2,000 people in it when he went to school. He was also studying veterinary medicine. His wife died in 1975,they had two children and four grandchildren. His wife passed away in 1975. He remarried at some point, then retired from his own clinic. He volunteered with the Humane Society and kept playing golf. He passed away in 1991, just 67.

Do you ever see photos of people you don’t know and see people you do know in them? This is Audrey Wilson, president of the women’s student government association in 1944. She was a senior. She also wrote for the campus paper. She was studying home economics, and from Evergreen, a small town in south Alabama that had about 3,000 people living in it back then, and not many more in it today. But I see someone entirely more familiar. It’s startling.

Sometimes we just wind up with mysteries. I haven’t yet found anything else about her.

This is Fred Duggar, the editor of the Glomerata. The page he’s working on here is the first one we saw today. John Frederick Duggar, III, was a senior, an architecture major from the impossibly small Hope Hull, Alabama. Fred’s parents are both buried at Pine Hill, in Auburn, at my favorite cemetery. His grandfather, the namesake, is also buried there. That man was a professor of agriculture and director of the Alabama Cooperative Extension Service. All told, the original John spent almost 50 years on campus.

Our guy, Fred, lived in Atlanta. He published an architectural book in the 1980s that is still a prominent seller in the genre, according to Amazon. He died in 2008 and is also buried at Pine Hill.

The Glomerata lists 16 people as staff, but says the book was produced in a continual “state of flux due to the war. The guy sitting in the left foreground is Frank Benning, a freshman from Atlanta, who was studying architecture. I assume their common studies will show their influence in some of the layout choices going forward. I believe he designed a movie theater outside of Atlanta. Not sure what else he did.

That guy, standing in the background? We’ll meet him next week.

That’s enough for now. 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.


4
Jul 24

Happy Fourth

I am starting to feel better today, thanks for asking. Many of the key symptoms have disappeared. I think I hard-coughed all of them right out of my body this morning. It was a huge fit. More the beginning of a cold than the end, or so it felt. But I patiently sat my way into an afternoon without any other great big symptoms.

And so this afternoon I willed my way into the pool to see what would happen.

What happened was I struggled through 500 yards or so and then spent another several hundred yards wondering when I would find my rhythm. Somewhere along the way in a long swim I just slip into a nice (for me) pace that just sees the laps melt away. I haven’t charted this, but it seems like it should come at a fairly consistent time, right? Only I was somewhere around 1,200 yards today and still wondering when that would happen.

It did not happen.

But I did swim what was, on balance, a solid 1,800. And I didn’t feel the need to roll over and sleep the rest of the afternoon away. It felt like progress.

After which I finished reading John Barry’s Rising Tide, which was an incredible book about the 1927 flood of the Mississippi River.

How can something so devastating be all but forgotten just a century later? At a place called Mounds Landing, the levee gave way and “a wall of water three-quarters of a mile across and more than 100 feet high” came through the crevasse. Weeks later, engineers used a 100-foot line to find the bottom, but they failed. The river had gouged a 100-foot-deep channel half a mile wide for a mile inland.

No one could every wrap their arms around an official set of figures for the entirety of the massive watershed, but Barry has some data on the lower Mississippi, where the flood put as much as 30 feet of water over lands where 931,159 people lived. The whole of the country was only 120 million people at the time. Barry continues, “Twenty-seven thousand square miles were inundated, roughly equal to Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire and Vermont combined. (Months later) 1.5 million acres remained underwater. Not until mid-August, more than four months after the first break in a mainline Mississippi River levee, did all the water leave the land.”

The scale and scope is too big for a series of movies, and maybe that’s why it isn’t in the common zeitgeist. The rural nature of the landscape plays a part here, too. Could you imagine if this could have somehow happened on that scale on the east coast? There are certainly plenty of characters you could draw from. This book fixates on Hoover, of course, and on a few of the key locales. But, then, who would be the antagonists. Here’s one.

The good ol’ boy club of New Orleans would be another. Bankers, the New Orleans establishment and nothing but, and they wiped out two adjoining communities, having made desperate promises about it to save their city. New Orleans dynamited the levee that doomed St. Bernard and Plaquemines parishes. A day later, other upstream collapses proved New Orleans didn’t need the effort. And, of course, New Orleans civic leaders went out of their to deny the compensation promised to their neighbors. New Orleans’ old money would definitely be the bad guys. Alas, it set the stage for Huey Long. The flood — and Calvin Coolidge’s cold shoulder — returned Herbert Hoover to the national stage. The aftermath played a big role in the great migration, and all of it together was hugely influential of generations of what would come for the region.

The current plan for the river takes some of the old hypotheses and puts them together but, Barry finds some flaws in the mathematics. This isn’t an engineering book, though it does deal with some important issues in easily digestible ways. And, then, in 1973 …

It’s all folly — and we know it.

This evening we went to see the fireworks. (We missed them last year.) They were held at the county fairgrounds and we picked out a spot across a wide field from where they launched. We sat on the side of the road and thought of the past and the future. We were far enough away that it wasn’t noisy, and close enough that it was still pretty.

At home again, we lit sparklers in the backyard. Had a great time of it, too. There were at least three different kinds, because there’s no such thing as a supply chain shortage these days.

I’m trying to talk her into taking sparklers with her everywhere she goes.

It’s not a terribly difficult sell, frankly.


12
Jun 24

Got a wrench? I’m going to need a wrench.

We were just heading out to the hardware store for an early evening errand — I needed a wrench larger than any wrench I own. I own many wrenches, a lifetime of accumulation will do that for you, but I do not own anything that will open 10-and-a-half inches wide. And, today, we had a reason to need one. So I resigned myself to spending a fortune for a tool I needed to use exactly twice, to take off a piece and, moments later, reinstall it. Then of course, I wouldn’t need to use the wrench again for a good quarter of a century or so.

We were at the end of our driveway and had to yield because our neighbors were returning home. So I walked over to see Joe the Elder as he got out of his truck. He’s got a great big smile, an across-the-street “How ya doing!?” and a positively enthusiastic handshake. Lovely people. He gave me two wrenches to try, and so we did not have to go to the store.

Both worked! And we needed both. And it took the both of us to complete the job. But we did! And, this part is important, it seems we got it right the first time. Nothing was broken, no utterances were uttered, and our cost, after the replacement part, were two stiff backs and a bit of sweat. Standard DIY invoicing.

The replacement part is a device that holds filters. Looks like a cup holder. We can hold four drinks in the thing. The previous one was broken, somehow, which is a mystery because the thing lives in a case that requires a metric wrench, a mallet and then some deliberate intentions to even get to it. We replaced it with a similar piece, but supposedly more sturdy, which is good, because if we have to go through the whole process again — after all of that to open it, we had to remove a threaded piece that was not installed in such a way as to grant easy access, then mallet hammer and pry one piece from the other and so on — I think we just might start over.

I took the wrenches back over and as ever, I am wondering what I can offer these nice people as a gesture of thanks. It’s one of those small-to-you, big-to-me things. This wrench was sitting in their garage, and that one was in his truck, and he wasn’t using them, but it saved me a small fortune, and a trip to one or more stores and the frustration that could go along with it. And they say, don’t ever go buy something, just come over here and get it. They really are quite sweet. We’re very lucky with the neighbors we picked.

When I woke up this morning I wondered if I should go for a swim, or a ride, today. I did both yesterday. And that was easy enough. Doing both two days in a row seems like a tiny challenge. And then I got up, and wondered if I would do either. I felt weary. But that’s no reason to stop, it’s just an excuse to slow down.

This afternoon my lovely bride was heading out for a ride and I invited myself to tag along, get dropped, and see her back at home. I predicted she would leave me behind in one of two places, both of which can best be described as “early in the ride.” And she did, in both places.

Somehow, I caught up to her again, which was great because that allowed me to ride in front of her in the one little tricky part of this route, a three-tenths of a mile stretch with a fork and an awkward merge. I sprinted through there with the only bit of energy I had and she stayed right behind me and that made the next turn easy.

This look right here?

This is the look The Yankee gives you before she rides you right off her wheel.

While I’d done the little lead out and made it off the relatively busier road onto some empty county roads, I could not keep up from here.

I lost sight of her a third of the way into the ride, and slowly diminished for the next hour or so. But this was too be expected. I don’t have a lot of miles in my legs right now, but somehow it feels like I do. Anyway, pleasant ride, even if I got in two seconds later than I’d anticipated from half-an-hour away. My riding buddy had no such problem. She pronounced it a strong ride, and, having spent the whole of the thing watching her disappear into the distance, I’d say she was being gracefully humble.

It’s time once more for We Learn Wednesdays, where we discover the county’s historical markers via bike rides. This is the 38th installment, and the 69th and 70th markers in the We Learn Wednesdays series. These are grouped together because they’re directly related anyway as we continue our exploration of Fort Mott.

In the last few weeks we checked out the old gun batteries and had a quick look at the observation towers that helped them in their work of defending the river and Philadelphia, beyond. Most recently, we took a quick glimpse at the parados and the moat that served as the fort’s rearguard. We also saw the signs for the generator, plotting and switchboard rooms. (The signs are good, the rooms were empty.) Last week, we saw another empty room, the battery commander’s station.

The park has a map to orient you to the fort’s layout.

The river is on the left side of this drawing. You can see the pier jutting out into the water. Next to that you’ll see the long row of gun placements. You can see the moat, in blue, behind them.

Today, though, we’re starting off between the moat and the gun batteries, up near the top on the map, at Peace Magazine.

There’s no way to photograph the whole sign without the railing, which is, no doubt, period authentic. If you’ll allow me, then, the generous use of the blockquote …

A Special emphasis was placed on keeping the interiors of the defensive magazines under the various batteries dry. According to an excerpt from, “Reports on 5-inch Guns, Fort Dupont and Fort Mott, December, 1900, Operations” which references Battery Gregg …

“…ceilings of the magazines consist of flat arches of 6-inch hollow tile and the vertical walls are covered with 2-inch hollow tile furring and both ceilings and side walls are plastered with a thin layer of Portland mortar 1 – 3. Two hundred thirty-two linear feet of 3-inch vitrified tile were laid underground from emplacement number 6 to a manhole at the entrance of the west emplacement for carrying cables for electric light and power. Outside walls of the battery were roughly plastered and then waterproofed with paraffin paint #3 and coal tar. A 2-inch porous tile drain was placed around the foundations of each emplacement and covered with a layer of broken stone.”

Despite many efforts, condensation of moisture in the emplacements and magazines continued to be a problem that was never adequately solved. On June 11, 1903, the Chief of Engineers authorized an allotment for the construction of a new storage magazine to be detached from the main installation and located behind the parados. Money was also provided for the creation of a tunnel through the parados, and for extending the railroad tracks through the tunnel to the new magazine. The brick building, called the Peace Magazine, was finished in 1904. The structure was slightly more than eighteen feet by fifty-two feet on the inside, with a copper ventilating roof.

I’d like to think that Peace was named after someone who worked on the fort, or in honor of a soldier who served and died elsewhere, like so many of the parts of Fort Mott, but I don’t see any mention of it anywhere.

Here’s another angle of the magazine.

And one more quick view today from Fort Mott. This marker actually addresses what’s across the way.

At this section of the Delaware estuary, the waterway narrows from a broad bay into a river. Considered a strategic location early in the nineteenth century, military officials selected this area for a coastal defense fortification. Fort Delaware was built on Pea Patch Island during the first half of the nineteenth century. However, the advent of steam-powered naval vessels necessitated a more elaborate defensive scheme to adequately protect the upstream ports. Fort DuPont on the Delaware shore and Fort Mott on the New Jersey side were designed and built during the last half of the nineteenth century to reinforce Fort Delaware. The three fort system remained in force until after World War I.

Fort Delaware is visible on Pea Patch Island. Finished in 1859, it also served as a prison for Confederate soldiers during the Civil War. Many of the prisoners who died there are buried at Finn’s Point National Cemetery, located adjacent to the north side of Fort Mott.

(The state really should get around to updating some of these markers.)

The three photographs show Fort Delaware on Pea Patch Island, the view of Pea Patch Island from Fort Mott, and the last is an aerial view of the three forts that protected this section of the river. (All three were closed down when a more powerful and modern installation opened down river.)

And if you’re looking off into the distance, you can see a bit of Pea Patch island, and the fort that stands there.

You have to take a ferry to get over there. And maybe one day I’ll visit. There’s a lot of history over there, as well. When it was built in 1859, that hazy looking fort over there was a state-of-the-art example of American fixed fortifications. It also served as a POW camp during the Civil War. Almost 13,000 Confederate prisoners could be held there at once.

Back on this side of the river, Fort Mott became a state park in 1951, but it was a self-contained military installation in its day. At it’s busiest, Fort Mott had over 30 buildings, including two barracks that each housed 115 soldiers, commissioned and non-commissioned officer housing, a hospital, post exchange, library, a YMCA, a school for the soldier’s children and more. Most of those buildings were constructed between 1897 and 1905. It closed in 1922, when another, more modern, installation opened downstream.

We have just one or two more markers to visit at Fort Mott, and we’ll do that in our next installment. Until then, if you’ve missed any of those historical marker posts, you can see them all right here.


7
Jun 24

The 1934 Glomerata, part four

We turn our attention, one last time, to a time 90 years behind us. We’ve spent the last three Fridays looking at my alma mater via the 1934 yearbook. (Part one is here. You can find part two here and, from last week, part three is right here.) This is about the people living their young lives during the Great Depression.

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.

These are but a few of the photos and the very abbreviated stories that jump out to me, not a complete look at the book. There’s 300 pages and more than 1,400 photographs here, most of them the traditional headshots, which we generally avoid. It was, at that time, the largest yearbook the students had produced, and it’s an interesting glimpse of a familiar world in a different time.

There’s one last engraving, this one is titled features, and the buildings in the lower part of the art have nothing to do with the campus. But I did figure out who the artist, Davis, was.

And it was a real “Of course!” moment. This was Charles F. Davis, Jr. who was in the class of 1932 and still in town. His wife, Helen, was also an architect, the first licensed female architect in Alabama. (She’s a senior in this yearbook!) They would eventually join an architectural firm in Birmingham that would eventually come to be known as Davis Architects. Helen eventually started her own firm. They had three children, who all also went into architecture, and one of them runs Davis today. Charles was also the principal designer of a campus in Birmingham that I knew well.

This is Julia Pace of Anniston, Alabama. She studied business administration and was elected Miss Auburn in her freshman year and then named Miss Anniston. She married John William Mallory Jr. in 1937.

They had three children. He ran a big appliance store, she worked in a bank. Apparently they played golf together well into their golden years. She died in 2002, at 88.

This is Mary Barr Prince, and we know very little about her. She was descendant of an important Carolina family, and was apparently a socialite in her day.

She doesn’t appear elsewhere in this edition of the Glomerata. In her marriage announcement, we learn she went to Converse College, in Spartanburg. Her husband, a man named Henry, also of South Carolina, graduated from UNC. They married in 1937. They had three children — one of them became a prominent attorney and local judge. She died at 79, in 1993. She is buried in her native South Carolina.

Some times you run across a photo that just doesn’t seem to belong in their time frame. I’m not sure if she was mod, or this was as fancy as she could get, but this is Alice O’Donnell of Mobile.

There’s virtually nothing available to us about her, but I presume that’s because she was a time traveler, and has come to our time and is now making making TikTok videos.

My thinking is that not all of this studio portraiture came from the same studio. And that, I figure, is why Theresa Hamby is in such a soft focus. The campus paper, The Plainsman, tells me she’s from Smyrna, Georgia. But that’s the only thing I know about her. She doesn’t seem to appear elsewhere in this yearbook.

And, to show the extent of my searching, I’m using a newspaper database, general searches, looking through the next two editions of the yearbook, and an archive of The Plainsman. And to show that I’m not just including the successful searches, I give you Elizabeth Cryer.

We don’t know anything about her, not even where she was from. I did find a contemporaneous mention of an Elizabeth Cryer who was destined for the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music and Dramatic Art. No idea if it is the same student.

This is Jessie Lee Raines, she was from tiny Fyffe, Alabama, which wasn’t even a town in the northeast corner of the state when she was a child. There’s less than 1,000 people there today. She was a senior, but she was at Alabama College, the modern day University of Montevallo. She was the vice president of her class, in an honor society and a speech major.

All of this makes me think they only found themselves in this yearbook because they were someone special to someone on campus. But who else she was, and what she would become, is a mystery.

And with those mysterious still being mysterious, we’ll move to something else we know a tiny bit more about.

Homer Wright was a longtime merchant, and he had one of the first phone numbers in town. Why he never ran an ad that said, “If you’re feeling less than fine, call nine,” escapes me.

All of the intricacies of installing the phone system are beyond me, but I assume the number means he had one of the first phones in town, making him quite the innovator. (Indeed, the first gas pump in town was installed in front of his store, in 1909.) He was also the postmaster general in his later years. He and his wife raised three children, two of which survived well into the 20-teens. Wright lived here. He died in 1943, age 57.

The industry that will be “the feature of tomorrow.” Be familiar with it!

I wonder if any of those engineering majors, or people studying architecture or business read this and then stormed into their professors’ stuffy offices. “You’ve never told us about this!” Let’s assume they were all at least passingly familiar with the concept, even if they had no idea of the ubiquity that was coming.

Unassuming advertisement aside, students of 1934 who got in early could probably do well for themselves.

Birmingham, by then, was easily the largest city in the state. (Strictly by a city’s population, that’s no longer the case.) The Birmingham Electric Company was organized in 1921. (Not to be confused with the 1890 Birmingham Railway Electrical Company, which would become Birmingham Electric Company in 1940.) Both had similar purposes, streetcars, with some electrical distribution on the side. The second one, the 1921 concern, was able to use that electricity side hustle to survive the Depression. Maybe that’s one reason they saw great things in conditioned air. Both companies suffered similar fates.

The 1890 version saw their rider numbers decline after World War II. Cars and buses took the demand away, and the streetcars were sold to Toronto in 1952. Around that time they changed their name to the Birmingham Transit Company. Two decades later, the local transit authority took over. Today, they run 109 buses on 38 routes and see about 6,800 customers per day.

Economics got the 1921 company, too. Alabama Power bought them when it got lean. Their vehicles were sold for scrap.

There must be reasons!

And I want to know why, if they are so popular, the photographer stopped by on the slowest day of the year. Today, the university records 1,510 students were enrolled in 1934. That’d mean everyone was in and out of Benson’s, every day, and this strains credulity.

I would have enjoyed watching an orchestra you could just stroll in and listen to for hours at a time, while meeting friends, getting food and candy and so on. It was probably a small band, but that would have been fine, too.

Benson’s was, primarily, a drug store. (There were three, all clumped together on the same block.) These storefronts are long, narrow shops, and so you see pretty much the whole place in that photo, if you squint. They stayed open late on the weekends to serve students coming and going from dances. A few years later, in 1940, milkshakes cost a dime. Regular sandwiches were 15 cents. A ham and cheese was twenty, or you could splurge for a club sandwich for a quarter.

And here’s our last page of ads, and the last entry for the 1934 collection. I’ve searched all of the names on this page and with the exception of the directors names from the bank, I’ve come up empty.

Now, to a man, all of those bank names are important local people. Most of them are affiliated with the university, the rest are pillars of the local community. It was a big deal putting these names in the ad. You knew these folks, and your money always felt safe with the people you saw every day. And if you can’t trust your neighbors with your money in 1934, there’s always a jar you can bury in the backyard.

Even as you were urged to look to air conditioning, you were still buying the black rock and the frozen water for all your domestic needs. Looking back, the 1930s sometimes seem like a time between times. It didn’t feel that way to them, of course. No one thinks like that in their moment. Apparently Homer Wright, the druggist from above, was also involved in Auburn Ice & Coal. The web tells me it was a company that registered with the state in 1925. Ads a few years later list the Ice & Coal phone number as 118. I wish I knew more about the Auburn Ice & Coal Co. Perhaps I’ll find out more about it in other places.

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.


5
Jun 24

The long pause Wednesday

Warm today, and cloudy. I watched it all slide away. When I was prepared to go for a bike ride I stepped outside and was impressed by the humidity and that, Nahhh. Could I have made a better use of the time? Sure. Do I feel ambivalent about that? Probably — whatever.

At any rate, I had to return to the closet project. Yesterday I resized six clothes hangar bars. Today I had to resize four more of them again.

That’s what happens when you eyeball things, comfortable with the knowledge that, these things are so adjustable precision doesn’t matter and, they are going to be in a closet, so perfection doesn’t matter and, they’re going to be in the guest bedroom closet, so this will only come to mind a few times per year. So I eyeballed it all yesterday, and I ended up doing a bit more of it again today.

I did not refine my technique. Happily, I did not have to purchase any new equipment. And now the custom-sized closet system is completed.

And, somehow, it may yield us a bit more room for stuff and things.

And, after dinner, it started raining. After a time it started raining hard. And now it is raining so hard it just sounds different.

I’d never heard water roar down a drainage pipe, and now that’s happening just outside the window next to where I am typing. It is, to be sure, a sensation.

It’s time once more for We Learn Wednesdays, where we discover the county’s historical markers via bike rides. This is the 37th installment, and the 67rd and 68th markers in the We Learn Wednesdays series. These are grouped together because they’re directly related anyway as we continue our exploration of Fort Mott.

In the last few weeks we checked out the old gun batteries and had a quick look at the observation towers that helped them in their work of defending the river and Philadelphia, beyond. Most recently, we took a quick glimpse at the parados and the moat that served as the fort’s rearguard. Last time we saw the signs for the generator, plotting and switchboard rooms at. (The signs are good, the rooms were empty.)

As a park, Fort Mott has a map on a sign that will orient you to the space.

The river is on the left side of this drawing. You can see the pier jutting out into the water. (That’ll figure into this in just a moment.) Just above that you’ll see the long row of gun placements. You can see the moat, in blue, behind them.

Today, though, we’re in front of the moat, in one of the most dangerous spots at the fort, the battery commander’s station.

Back then, all of the work of fighting invaders would have started here. The people in this bunker would visually ID and chart the progress of enemy vessels. They’d relay the information they collected, by a simple phone line, to the plotting room. There, soldiers following mathematical formulas created firing solutions that would allow the defenders to put 870-pound rounds downrange, six per minute.

This is in fact a former gun position. One of the batteries, Krayenbuhl, was outmoded as technology improved, and so this went in at the same physical space.

If bad guys ever sailed up the river — looking for Philadelphia beyond — and they were fired upon by Fort Mott, they’d want to target all the observation points in kind. And the guys sitting in here, would be the target.

Remember that pier, in the map above? You can see it through that narrow slat in the command bunker.

Fort Mott became a state park in 1951, but it was a self-contained military installation in its day. They had a small hospital, a PX, a library, school and more. It closed in 1922, when another, more modern, installation opened downstream. But we aren’t done with it yet. There’s still a bit more for us to explore on We Learn Wednesdays. Until then, you can catch up on all of the older posts, right here.