Starvine

It bears a name at once both celestial and terrestrial, evoking an image of Jack’s beanstalk climbing from field to clouds, a green rope winding its way from Shakespeare’s “sullen earth” to farthest heaven, a stem of vegetation reaching to the night sky—starvine. And for the shuttle road that links Emory’s residential Clairmont Campus with the main campus—across a rainbow-arch bridge over the CSX railroad tracks—it lends an equally suggestive name: Starvine Way, perhaps a winding starlit path.

This obscure plant, the starvine, hides throughout Lullwater, the 150-acre preserve that also harbors the home of the Emory president. Starvine sprouts in other parts of the Emory Forest as well, a botanical treasure whose threatened existence in the Southeast, its only native habitat, makes Emory perhaps its most important home anywhere in the world.

I first became acquainted with starvine as a name on a list of plants indigenous to Lullwater. When the University was building the shuttle road in 1999–2000, it needed a name. Because the road hugs the edge of Lullwater, I searched the list of indigenous plants included in the report on Emory forests prepared in 1986 by biology professors Bill Murdy and Eloise Carter. And there was starvine–a poet’s name for a threatened species.

Also called bay starvine or magnolia starvine, its scientific name is schisandra glabra. Emory environmentalists have taken to calling it American starvine, to distinguish it further from its more prolific Asian cousin, Chinese starvine (schisandra chinensis). Slender tendrils with widely spaced, shiny green leaves trail along the ground or stretch up in little palm-tree-like stalks or twine themselves around slender saplings to pull themselves up toward the sun.

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Starvine shoots cultivated from cuttings at Wesley Woods. Photo by Emory Photo/Video.

Born in leaf litter, the vine reaches for the light and sometimes shoots up twenty feet or more toward the tops of its host trees, which include the rare broad-leaved or umbrella magnolias (not the non-indigenous Southern magnolia, which was imported to these parts). The vine’s red berries open, when ripe, into a five-petal flower with a rounded star shape.

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Starvine blossom. Photo by Emory Photo/Video.

Around the starvine grow other wild medicinal celebrities: the bane berry bush with its small fruits that look like porcelain doll’s eyes (a poisonous plant, as the name suggests, except in very small amounts brewed in tea for headaches, coughs, and colds); sweet shrub (useful for nausea, abdominal pain, diarrhea); spice bush (for colds, dysentery, intestinal parasites); and, perhaps most striking, wild ginseng (for higher mental and physical energy and reduction of stress).

These plants, growing on the north-facing slopes of Emory’s protected forested acres, make the woods of the campus places where idle strolling leads to scientific speculation. Carl Brown, an adjunct faculty member in Environmental Sciences, has taught me almost everything I know about starvine. Carl and others have been working with descendants of the Creek Indians who once inhabited this area to determine whether Native Americans used starvine for healing.

Kirk Hines, a horticultural therapist at the A.G. Rhodes Home on Emory’s Wesley Woods campus, has engaged residents of the home in planting seeds and cultivating an experimental starvine “vineyard” as one of the therapeutic activities he directs.

It may be time for the little plant to have its day in the sun — but it really prefers filtered light, with dappled shade. Halfway between earth and heaven.

Gary Hauk

For more about the cultivation and study of starvine at Emory, check out the “Emory Report” article by Kimber Williams.

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A tale of two Bobs

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” It was 1923.

The year 1923 falls almost equidistant in time between Emory’s founding in 1836 and today, the second day of Founders Week 2018. So it seems fitting to remember two men – not exactly founders, but what I would call “indispensables” – who shared the name Bob, and whose lives were marked importantly by the year 1923.

For the first Bob, it was indeed “the best of times.” That man was Robert Woodruff, who hardly needs an introduction to anyone familiar with the history or campus of Emory. Six Emory buildings bear the Woodruff name, and “the gift” of $105 million from Robert and his brother George in 1979 set Emory on a new path to distinction.

In April 1923, Robert Woodruff, who had dropped out of Emory College after one semester in 1908, left his vice presidency at the White Motor Company in Cleveland, Ohio, to become the president of the Coca-Cola Company in Atlanta. While he took a step up, going from the vice presidency of one company to the presidency of another, he also took a pay cut of about $50,000—about seven hundred grand in today’s money.

Despite that drop in salary, Woodruff clearly made a smart move, because he earned back that lost income millions of times over. He took a risk, invested of himself—and found unimaginable reward. He also found the means to bless many other people in the process, and thus also found great, inexpressible satisfaction.

For another man named Bob, 1923 was the worst of times. It was the year he died.

Unlike Robert Woodruff, he lived in relative obscurity and much more humble surroundings all of his life. He was born a slave, in 1858, and died just four years after Emory College moved from Oxford to Atlanta. His name was Robert Hammond.

For two thirds of Bob Hammond’s 65 years, he was the janitor at Emory College. It’s very likely that while Bob Woodruff was a student at Emory College during that fall semester of 1908, he would have encountered Robert Hammond on campus. When Bob Hammond died, the students and alumni of Emory – “the Emory men,” as the inscription reads – erected a tombstone for him to demonstrate their affection and respect. And as Emory alumna Candace Coffman 09C discovered in research a few years ago, Bob Hammond indirectly returned the favor.

Responding to an appeal by the Emory board of trustees to raise funds for what is now Oxford College, Robert Hammond’s widow, Amanda, to whom he was married for more than forty years, gave a hundred dollars to the effort—the equivalent of more than $1400 today. In 1968 their grandson, John Hammond, joined Angela Jinks and Tony Gibson as the first African American students to enroll in Oxford College of Emory University.

Two quite different men, two quite different lives, two quite different means of giving—but one generous impulse, and one fortunate institution.

We may never understand fully what motivated Robert Woodruff to give hundreds of millions of dollars to a school he was unable to graduate from. We may never know what seeds of generosity led the widow of a former slave to make a gift to the school where he worked most of his life—a school named for a former slave-owner. But we do know something of the promptings of our own hearts. And we see on the Emory campus the fruits of that legacy left by Woodruff, Hammond, and thousands of others in between.

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Gary Hauk

 

About those 75 acres

Two questions about the Atlanta campus have long puzzled me, and finally I have the answer to one. It concerns the chunk of land that was the original nugget of today’s 740-acre campus (not counting the 42 acres of the Briarcliff property a mile away).

In addition to his initial million-dollar gift to help launch the new university in Atlanta, Asa Candler Sr. arranged to convey to Emory 75 acres belonging to Druid Hills, Inc., the corporation through which he was developing the suburb six miles from downtown Atlanta. On March 31, 1915, the university board of trustees voted, in the words of the minutes, that “the property known as the ‘Guess Place,’ located in Druid Hills, be selected as the site of the University, provided it could be secured.”

On June 28, 1915, Asa Candler, president of Druid Hills, Inc., saw to it that the land was indeed “secured.” Below, courtesy of the University’s Office of General Counsel, is a copy of the first page of the deed with that date.

Deed, 1915 original Emory Atlanta campus, 75 acres copy

I’d always assumed that the original property included the Quadrangle, but was that correct? The second page of the deed tells more:

Deed, p 2, 1915 original Emory Atlanta campus, 75 acres copy

The first paragraph above describes the exact boundaries of the property. Using Google Maps and a scale of 200 feet to half an inch, I traced as nearly as I could the boundaries laid out by the deed. Surprisingly, here is what I found:

75 acres

It’s interesting that those 75 acres did not include the corner at Clifton and Eagle Row, where the Woodruff Health Sciences Center now stands, or even the land where the Anatomy and Physiology laboratories would be built in 1917 (current site of the School of Medicine). More curious still, the western boundary appears to cut through the edge of the Quadrangle at about where architect Henry Hornbostel would locate the Old Theology Building.

Nine years later, the board minutes of May 30, 1924, indicate that Druid Hills, Inc., deeded to Emory an additional 55 acres, extending the western boundary of the campus to “Lullwater Creek.” That probably was what we today call Peavine Creek, which flows through Emory Village and north toward South Peachtree Creek. (Peavine Creek and Lullwater Creek meet up near the 15th tee of the Druid Hills Golf Club, just south of Emory Village. To my inexpert eye, it appears that Peavine actually flows into Lullwater, and that Lullwater continues on, and maybe folks in 1924 thought the same thing.)

By 1936, according to historian Henry Morton Bullock, in his centennial history of Emory, “subsequent additions” had “increased the campus to 235 acres.”

Now to take up the second question–who was that Guess for whom “the Guess place” was named?

Gary Hauk

Mapping Emory history

“Whose maps are we trying to read?” asks Rebecca Solnit in Unfathomable City: A New Orleans Atlas. “And what are we trying to draw? It’s so common to live in a place without truly knowing its history, its systems, and the people who are different from you and who move through different versions of the city.”

I’ve been trying to read the different versions of Emory by viewing the maps stowed away in the Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library. What do they tell me about the university’s history, systems, and people? Well, here is an example.

The map below bears the date 1950. Knowing what I do about the campus today, the first thing that strikes my eye is the vast vacancy to the right side of Clifton Road. Where now stand the law school and edifice upon edifice of clinics stretching from North Decatur Road up to the railroad tracks, there were, in 1950, a house, some apartments, a “grill & bookstore,” a “doctors’ bldg,” and a post office, which I happen to know also had a pharmacy next door.

Campus map 1950
Campus map, 1950, courtesy of Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library

What I glean from this is that some Emory folks lived conveniently closer to work and study than nearly anyone does today. Faculty physicians occupied modest space. And commuters or visitors to the campus needed not a single concrete deck in which to park. President Goodrich White probably walked from his home at the corner of North Decatur and Clifton to his office, which was in Candler Library until the Administration Building was constructed five years later.

At the top of the map, I notice the words “federal dormitories” and “federal apartments.” How odd, that word “federal” on a private, church-affiliated campus.

The dormitories were built to accommodate the enrollment boom after World War II. Thomas English, in his 1965 history of Emory, describes them: “[T]hree Federal Public Housing dormitories were brought in and set up beyond the railroad, in which 384 men shivered in winter and baked in summer.” A generation reading “Li’l Abner” in the comic strips dubbed the place “Lower Slobbovia.” These “eyesores,” as English called them, remained until 1955. It’s hard to know what students born in the middle of the Depression and weaned on war rations thought of their accommodations, but most likely the humble dorms made graduation “a consummation devoutly to be wished for.”

The “federal apartments” were what English called “plywood and tar paper barracks . . . erected for married couples farther out Clifton Road, long to be remembered without affection as ‘Mudville.'”

Anyone out there reading this who may have dwelt in one or the other of these complexes, let me hear from you. I would love to hear about your experiences.

More maps anon.

Gary Hauk

 

 

 

The legend of the Wesley holly

A story passed down through the decades recounts the legacy of a visit by Bishop Warren Candler to St. Simons Island with his wife, Antoinette, sometime during his chancellorship of the university. (He was chancellor from 1915 until his retirement from the job in 1920.)

Both John and Charles Wesley, the founders of Methodism, had ministered to Native Americans and English colonists around Savannah and on St. Simons in 1736, shortly after the founding of the colony of Georgia. The Wesleys often preached outdoors, and tradition held that one particular large and impressive live oak tree on St. Simons had shaded the young Charles Wesley during a service of prayer and preaching. Some claim that John later preached there also. The tree came to be known as the Wesley Oak, and a photo of it appears in Lucian Lamar Knight’s Georgia Landmarks, Memorials, and Legends (1913–14, Vol. 1, p. 66).

Wesley Oak
The Wesley Oak on St. Simons Island as it appeared in the first decade of the 20th century.

Knight described the tree as rising “to a height of some two hundred feet, while, over an area of several acres, its cool shade rests like a benediction.” Knight held out the suspicion that the tree may not have been the identical one that shaded the Wesleys, but he acknowledged that the tree’s size suggested that it no doubt harked back to the early colonial era.

A historical marker pointing to the former location of the tree can be seen on the web here. The tree suffered its demise sometime in the 1920s, and the historical marker reports that a cross made from its wood hangs near the pulpit in Christ Church Frederica on St. Simons (the cross is just visible behind the American flag in the photo below).

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The nave of Christ Church Frederica, St. Simons, http://ccfssi.org/

In a pilgrimage the Candlers made to that live oak, Nettie, as the bishop called her, spotted a small holly bush growing out of a crook of the tree—probably from a seed left by a bird in its droppings onto the shallow soil accumulated there. According to lore, Nettie uprooted the little holly and brought it back to Atlanta for transplanting on the Emory campus near the Old Theology Building.

Years later, that holly had grown huge, sinking deep roots, and it had to be removed to make way for new steam pipes under the Quadrangle. Groundskeepers took cuttings from it first, then rooted them and planted them around the campus. Here and there (in front of the Psychology and Interdisciplinary Sciences Building, for example, and at the corners of Bowden Hall and Candler Library, and around Glenn Memorial), descendants of that original East Palatka holly bush, the “Wesley Holly,” still flourish. They are offspring of the holly that grew from the bole of a live oak under which, according to tradition, the Wesleys once had preached.

Wesley Holly at Candler Library
A descendant of the original Wesley Holly, beside Candler Library.

Nettie herself was something of a landscape gardener, by all accounts—the first in a long line of stewards of the campus who have dedicated themselves to keeping it green and beautiful. Under her guidance the ravine behind the old law school building (now Michael C. Carlos Hall) was turned into a garden with an amphitheater spacious enough to serve as the site for Commencement in the 1920s. Called Antoinette Gardens to honor its chief overseer, the area reverted to wildness after the Commencement activities moved elsewhere in 1926. Now called Baker Woodlands, the ravine honors another early steward of the landscape, the late biology professor Woolford B. Baker.

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A view, circa 1925, of what is now Michael C. Carlos Hall from what was then Antoinette Gardens, now Baker Woodlands.

Gary S. Hauk

Emory’s other two-year college

Oxford College of Emory University has flourished over the past three decades and is now, more than ever, a sparkling jewel in the Emory crown. It is also unique in American higher education–a two-year college completely integrated into a major research university.

Many people are unaware, though, that Oxford College was not Emory’s first two-year division. That distinction belonged to a campus in Valdosta, Georgia, about ten miles from the Florida border and nearly 250 miles from Atlanta.

It’s not entirely clear why the citizens of Valdosta petitioned Emory in 1927 to create a two-year college in their town. The state had established a “normal college,” or teachers’ college, in 1906 but didn’t provide funds to open it until 1913. In 1922 the college was renamed Georgia State Woman’s College, so perhaps the dedication of the college to the education of women prompted the city’s leaders to look for gender balance from Emory, which at that time educated mostly men.

Whatever the reason, the request came at an opportune time. Emory College was revamping its curriculum to create a “lower division” and an “upper division,” essentially dividing the undergraduate student body into a two-year general-education college, after which students would specialize in their last two years. This concept translated easily to a campus almost in Florida. Students there could complete the same foundational courses as those on the Atlanta campus, then come to Atlanta for their last two years of baccalaureate work.

In 1928, with a gift of forty-three acres, a main building, and a $200,000 endowment from the city, Emory launched Emory-at-Valdosta. The building shown in the photo below served as the administration and classroom building.

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Emory-at-Valdosta, photo courtesy of Emory University Photograph Collection, Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives and Rare Book Library.

The photo below, from the estate of Gardner B. Allen and held in the Rose Library collections, shows students, faculty, and administrators gathered on the steps of the Assembly Hall (now the AMUC) during “Junior College Day,” May 1930. Kneeling in front are, left to right, President Harvey Cox holding the hand of a little girl; Comer Woodward, dean of Emory-at-Oxford; William B. Stubbs 19C, dean of Emory-at-Valdosta; Goodrich White, dean of Emory College; and Theodore Jack, dean of the Graduate School. The children are unidentified. Stubbs, a Rhodes Scholar, had practiced law in Savannah before becoming the founding dean of the new junior college in Valdosta.

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During World War II, Emory closed the Valdosta campus and transferred faculty and students to Atlanta. For a short period after the war, enrollment climbed to nearly 250, but when the state decided to enlarge the women’s college and make it coeducational in 1950, the death knell sounded for the Emory junior college. As Emory’s higher tuition made competition with the state university challenging, enrollment at Emory-at-Valdosta slipped to sixty-five students in the spring of 1953. That May, the trustees of Emory, facing continuing deficits at the junior college, voted to offer the campus and its endowment to the University System of Georgia. The regents quickly accepted and incorporated the land and buildings into Valdosta State.

The original Emory building still stands on Pendleton Drive in Valdosta, now surrounded by other, more imposing structures that are part of the state university and the South Georgia medical Center.

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Satellite view from Google Maps.

Nowadays Pound Hall, as it’s called, houses the Harley Langdale Jr. College of Business Administration.

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Gary Hauk

 

Doggerel for the Class of ’77

One delight of my job is the invitations I receive to speak to various gatherings about days of yore at Emory. Such a gathering occurred during Homecoming last month as the Emory College Class of 1977 convened in Ackerman Hall of the Carlos Museum to renew friendships and swap reminiscences.

Emory Morsberger, who had served as Student Government Association president during the class’s senior year, recalled the astonishing fact that he won the Domino’s Pizza–sponsored pizza-eating and beer-drinking contest. What was astonishing about the event was not who won it—the identity of the victor is really immaterial—but that the university sanctioned the event at all. The drinking age in those years was 18. But still . . . Bishop Candler surely was turning in his grave.

Charged with the task of commemorating the class’s era in seven minutes or less, I went to work in Rose Library digging through the Campus yearbook, the Emory Wheel, and other sources, then penned a bit of doggerel to read aloud. For those readers who have memories of the era, some of the lines may ring with a note of familiarity.

Epic of the Class of Seventy-Seven

It was back in the autumn of seventy-three

When the Watergate scandal was raging,

And the gas lines were long because OPEC was strong,

And your parents were all middle-aging.

 

Pharrell Williams and FedEx were born in that year,

Hip hop launched a new genre of music.

On the other hand, Bruce Lee, Picasso, Jim Croce

All fell to the Grim Reaper’s choosing.

 

By the time that year ended King beat Bobby Riggs,

Nixon told the press “I’m not a crook.”

And the people before me—alumni/alumnae—

Had taken to life with a book.

 

It was then, as I’m sure you remember quite well,

That you came in your tie-dyes and blue jeans

To this old Druid Hills with its woodlands and rills,

Trading family and home scenes for new scenes.

 

And the fall of your first year at Emory was wild:

A Dooley’s Den coffee house opened;

Yom Kippur brought a war; gas prices still soared,

But at Horton’s, The Grille kept you copin’.

 

The dean who made Wonderful Wednesday resigned,

While the president looked toward retirement.

He enjoyed his pipe smoke while the students would toke,

Though today’s smoke-free campus would fire him.

 

In the fall of your second year traipsing the Quad

You could hear a quite famous exhorter,

As the great Margaret Mead told the students, “Take heed—

Your tuition’s nine-fifty a quarter!”

 

There was fear that old Emory was just for the rich,

While financial aid needed some boosting.

Meanwhile AMUC, alas, didn’t have enough class

As a place to support student roosting.

 

Through the culture at large there pervaded a sense

Of bleak doom that the era was rousing.

Yet if all went to pot, the doom simply would not

Put a damper on campus carousing.

 

By the time you were juniors a theme had emerged

In the pages of Campus, the yearbook:

Every party and dance seemed to offer a chance

For each student to have their own beer truck.

 

As September of seventy-six rolled around

You were wrestling with things existential:

Should you plan on more school, find a job, or play cool?

Meanwhile questions arose presidential.

 

For the nation was voting that fall to decide

Between Ford and our own peanut farmer.

While much closer to home, Sandy Atwood made known

He would take off his president’s armor.

 

As the board of trustees got a search underway

For the seventeenth leader of Emory,

Lots of other good things came on stage from the wings—

Let me name some and freshen your memory.

 

In November Theology remade its home

As a library, painting it pink.

Although students were pissed for the chapel they missed,

They soon left off from causing a stink.

 

In curricular matters, ten years of hard work

By a Methodist chaplain named Boozer,

Endowed a chair newish for studies quite Jewish.

David Blumenthal, hats off to you, sir.

 

At the business school two million dollars was tabbed

For enhancing the school’s future picture.

Soon a three-story stack was tacked onto the back,

And the Rich Building thus became—richer!

 

On the student front, life often felt like a grind,

Or so said a Wheel editorial.

The inadequate gym, dormitories quite dim,

And the ancient Alumni Memorial

 

Raised the question if twenty-five years farther on

There would be any student activities.

Surely something must change to address the full range

Of students’ creative proclivities.

 

As the search for a president grew more intense,

Unfortunately so did the winter.

That year it was colder than Aspen or Boulder—

Even Yankees at Emory felt bitter.

 

Well, the spring soon arrived, and the trustees announced,

After being with questions just peppered,

That theology deans were the stuff of their dreams—

They chose Laney to be Emory’s shepherd.

 

As you marched on the Quad in regalia in June

To receive your new-minted diplomas,

You may have felt shaken, as if now awakin’

From four-year-long undergrad comas.

 

For the world now before you was risky and cold

When compared to your warm alma mater.

But you went forth with grace and a smile on your face

Marked by Emory’s hard-won imprimatur.

 

Forty years have flown by in the blink of an eye.

Here you are for a wondrous regathering.

I have talked long enough about lots of old stuff

And should leave you to drinking and chattering.

 

But before I sign off, let me offer a toast

To the spirit with which you have leavened

Your Old Emory dear. Let us give a loud cheer

To the Class of Seventy-Seven!

 

Gary S. Hauk

Read to the reunion of the Emory College Class of 1977

At Carlos Reception Hall, October 21, 2017

 

Emory then and now                         1977                              2017

Fall enrollment (total)                        7,572                           15,252

Varsity athletic teams                               8                                   18

Full-time faculty                                   904                              3,000+

Degrees conferred                            2,010                                4,721

Total operating budget             $136.3 million                 $4.8 billion

Sponsored research                      $25.7M                             $628M

Endowment market value      approx. $165M            $6.5B (8/31/16)