Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Class of 1919

As early research for my next book (and 'cause I love old stuff) I've been looking through online archives for the Glomerata, the yearbook of my alma mater Auburn University.

The 1919 issue is the oldest on file, I think. One of the best parts in it is the individual descriptions of the senior class. Charles Harris Adams gets this:

"Politics, society, religion--he stars in all. His wide popularity is partly due to his bewitching smile, and partly to his magnetic personality. What more can be said of a man who has taken such a part in college activities?"
...followed by the longest list of clubs and honor societies ever.

While right below him, Robert Stanton Allen gets this:

"Has the reputation of being a pretty good sort of a fellow. Never has been known to do anything real shocking. Doesn't throw away much love or time with the fair sex of Auburn. His gentle nature, rustic smile, and readiness to help a friend characterizes him."
...followed by a listing that he was in band for three years.


They didn't mess around in 1919. Of course it doesn't help that Charles looks kind of like a young Paul Newman:

While Robert looks kind of like he wants to kill someone:

*Apologies to anyone related to Robert, if you're reading. I think band is really cool.

A few other choice descriptions:

On Homer Carder, senior in chemistry: "...has stirred up as many disagreeable things as anyone in the Chemical Lab...is admired for his dislike of study."

On Marvin Earle Bryant: "Ah, ladies, here we have a Sphinx who can successfully resist all the charms of the fairer sex. But, who knows he may have someone waiting for him at home."
...erm, do we think that someone is female? Just askin'.

On Berry Cruse: "Berry is not overly fond of study, but with the assistance of Summer School, he manages to get by...His failings are tool-steel, boxball, and members of the other sex."

But look, there were two girls!

Helen Louise Blasingame


Alma Smith

They both majored in "general."

The 1919 Glom also featured "prophecies" about what would happen to each of the senior class. Here's what they said about the women, or "co-eds":

Two of our Co-eds, Helen Blasingame and Alma Smith, after four years of faithfulness, come before us on this day to have their future unfolded to them. Helen has achieved fame as a saleslady and is now head of the ribbon department in Zuber's Department Store. Alma, or our "Honey, Almond and Cream" friend, is still waiting for "him" to come and get her. 'Pat' Sullivan, our most popular Co-ed, not to be outdone by Helen, is now connected with the Opelika branch of Kress, being no less than head of the "lingerie" department.

Which is funny, and only kind of misogynistic until you realize that "Pat" is actually this guy:

John Patrick Sullivan, who was "one of the smallest members of the class...he is a fine fellow to add to your list of friends."

Y'know, for variety. Everyone's list of friends needs at least one short guy to pick on.

I'm not sure why this stuff is so interesting, but it IS. Here's a page of all the "co-eds":
Some mighty fine lookin' ladies. Even if they were destined to be wives or department store salesgirls, it's still way cool that they got a college education in a time and place when most of their peers probably never finished high school.

On a final note, what the heck is this page about?


Heather said...

AC, I'm delurking to say I love this post. Reading the descriptions made my morning. Thanks for sharing. I'm friends with Lizzy Rice and a fellow Auburn grad.

Bevie said...

The most fascinating worlds to visit are the worlds of actual history. Haven't a clue what that page is about, but reading real people write about real people is most interesting.

Try finding 100-year-old newspaper articles to read sometime. My grandmother gave me a book filled with clippings from 1800s Minnesota newspapers. Fascinating!

Crimogenic said...

It's amazing to see how the English language evolved over the past 50 or 100 years, and how it's still evolving. Nice post, very entertaining.

Justus M. Bowman said...


More interesting than I expected.



beth said...

Oh, WOW. That is so awesome! Thanks so much for sharing...this is fascinating!!!

Lizzy said...

"'Pat' Sullivan, our most popular Co-ed, not to be outdone by Helen, is now connected with the Opelika branch of Kress, being no less than head of the "lingerie" department."

I think this was just the nice way of saying he was gay. Same goes for Marvin Earle Bryant. Maybe they were lovers? That would be a sweet story :)