Love at first photo op

Dateline: Church School Building Fellowship Hall, April 12, 1956 —

The four years in Emory College had challenged Clint Rodgers, but he had done well. Emory’s Air Force ROTC had prepared him for a career flying jets. His major in Spanish had satisfied his delight in language. So here he was, weeks away from picking up his diploma at the Emory Commencement exercises in the Church School Amphitheater.

Meanwhile, there was work to do in the Language Lab, in old Fishburne Hall (where the Goizueta Business School now stands). He tutored students, set up instruction tapes, and plied his expertise in Spanish. Leaving the lab one April day, he turned to make his way to the Church School Building. There, Emory faculty would mingle with the best language students from each Atlanta-area high school, who had been invited to “Language Day” to learn  more about the university.

As he set out, Clint encountered two young women who were lost. Did he know where the Language Day program was being held? Why, yes he did, and he was headed that way himself. He’d be happy to accompany them.

One of those young women was Susan Russell, a student at Girls’ High School in Atlanta. Clint and Susan sat together at the program, and a friendship bloomed. Then a romance. And then marriage. After her freshman year at Emory–during which Clint worked while awaiting an Air Force commission–they tied the knot and headed to Lackland Air Force Base for their honeymoon.

But it all began at Language Day.

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Language Day, April 12, 1956. Clint Rodgers and Susan Russell are shown in circle. Judson C. “Jake” Ward, then dean of Emory College, is seated fifth from the left in front. This room, in the Church School Building, is now named for Ward, who taught Sunday School there for 50 years.

 

 

 

Hidden and half-forgotten time capsule

Mere yards from one of the busiest pedestrian thoroughfares at Emory, and just steps from the DUC terraces, lies a treasure obscured by holly and time. It’s the Sesquicentennial Time Capsule.

On December 10, 1986, immediately after the Sesquicentennial Convocation in Glenn Memorial, a procession wended its way across the campus to the relatively new Dobbs University Center, whose terraces are visible in the photo below. The site from which this photo is taken is the location of the time capsule.

View from the time capsule to DUC terraces
View from the time capsule to DUC terraces

Here you see the holly bush that has grown up over the time capsule.

View from DUC terraces to the bush hiding the time capsule
View from DUC terraces to the bush hiding the time capsule

And here is another view, courtesy of Bob Hamilton in Campus Life.

DUC time capsule

Once the procession had made its way to the “grassy knoll” in front of the DUC, a crowd gathered around Dooley, present for the burial of something other than himself into the gaping hole prepared for the ceremony. A time capsule planned for the 150th anniversary of Emory’s founding was filled with 150 items, including cans of Classic Coke, Cherry Coke, and Diet Coke. (The controversy over New Coke had recently filled the newspapers–clippings from which were also included in the time capsule.) A commission appointed by President Jim Laney to review the university’s investments with regard to South Africa’s apartheid struggle had recently issued its report; a copy was placed in the time capsule. President Laney had delivered an attention-getting speech at Harvard titled “The Education of the Heart.” Into the capsule. Someone thought to include a copy of a Chem 141 exam and a videotape of a Rathskellar performance (but not technology to play it on). A tee shirt from the local watering hole, P.J. Haley’s, was included; the time capsule already has outlasted the pub. Emory’s first intercollegiate basketball team had played its first away game days before, losing to NYU; a team photograph, signed by all the players, went into the time capsule.

And then the things was buried, to be dug up in fifty years.

Burying the time capsule

Within a couple of decades, however, a little holly bush soon grew up to hide the marker indicating the time capsule’s location.

Bush that hides the time capsule
Bush that hides the time capsule

DUC time capsule 3

If you know where to look, you can find it–though you may have to scrape away leaves, pine straw, and dirt to read the plaque.

Time capsule

Here it is, photo inverted to make the text readable.

Time capsule inverted

Sesquicentennial Time Capsule

buried here on December 10, 1986

to be opened in 50 years on

Emory’s 200th Anniversary

I hope to be present at the opening!

Meanwhile, there’s a plan afoot to raze the DUC and rebuild a magnificent new university center in its place. Let’s be sure to work around that time capsule.

Gary Hauk

Humble hospital origins

As a nine-story tower rises across Clifton Road from Harris Hall, I’m reminded of the Calico House.

The J Wing, as this new tower is called, is the latest addition to Emory University Hospital and will house 210 beds, new operating rooms, new ICUs, and a larger emergency department.

Hospital J Wing
Architect’s rendering of Emory University Hospital J Wing

The J designation means it follows wings A through H, all of which which were constructed during seven decades across the street and up the block from the new tower. (The letter I was skipped.)

The first of those earlier wings—A and B—were built in 1922 and at that time were named Wesley Memorial Hospital. You can see the façade of the A wing here:

Emory University Hospital

Here’s another look, circa 1922. The A and B wings, clad by construction scaffolding, appear in the upper-right corner against the edge of the photo.

Druid Hills campus 1922

The vast complex that now constitutes Emory University Hospital had its beginning in an antebellum house on the southeast corner of Auburn Avenue and Courtland Street, where the Auburn Avenue Research Library now stands. Called the Calico House, because of the fashionable patterns on its interior walls, it served as the headquarters for General Sherman after the Battle of Atlanta and before the Union army decamped for the coast. Here is an early-20th-century photo of the Calico House:

Calico House

When the Methodists of north Georgia resolved, in 1903, to build a new hospital, they decided to locate it in Atlanta but soon ran into fund-raising difficulties. Coca-Cola’s Asa Candler, a devout Methodist, came to the rescue and bought the Calico House for use as that hospital, which the Methodists called Wesley Memorial Hospital. It housed fifty beds, had a medical staff of thirty-four doctors, and offered a training program for nurses (the forerunner of Emory’s Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing).

With the Emory School of Medicine functioning in Druid Hills after 1917, the hospital was moved to the A and B wings in December 1922. Twenty-five patients in the former Calico House were driven to the new hospital in ambulances provided by Atlanta’s funeral homes. The hospital was renamed Emory University Hospital in 1932 and has grown with the university.

Gary Hauk

Two Woodruff letters seven decades apart

Who knows how a disgraced student will respond to adversity? In Robert Woodruff’s case, the full impact of the response took seventy years.

In the fall of 1908, Robert W. Woodruff, scion of Atlanta businessman and banker Ernest Woodruff, enrolled as a freshman at Emory College, which was still in Oxford, Georgia. His letters home complained of eye strain from reading, leaks in his ceiling, and shortness of funds. By the turn of the calendar to 1909, his prospects at Emory looked bleak. So much so, that the president of the college, James E. Dickey (no relation to the later poet and novelist), wrote to Ernest Woodruff to suggest that a pause in Robert’s studies might refresh him.

Dickey letter to Ernest Woodruff

More than a pause that refreshed, of course, this was the end of Robert Woodruff’s collegiate career. He began work shoveling sand at the General Pipe and Foundry Company, then earned several promotions and soon was hired by his father as the purchasing agent for Atlantic Ice and Coal. Robert’s part-time stenographer was William B. Hartsfield, who was studying law and later would become mayor of Atlanta.

The story of Woodruff’s rise from laborer to head of the Coca-Cola Company has been told many times. Fascinatingly, seven decades after Emory’s president wrote a letter dismissing him from Emory, Robert Woodruff would write to Emory’s president with another aim.

Woodruff letter of November 1979

This letter conveyed $105 million dollars to Emory for unrestricted use. The letter was read to Emory’s board of trustees at their meeting on November 8, 1979, by his younger brother George, an emeritus trustee of the university and the instigator of the idea for the transfer. It was the closing of a circle begun seventy years previously.

Amazing how things have changed . . .

This year Emory is observing the centennial of its university charter (replacing the 1836 charter as a college) and celebrating a hundred years of making Atlanta its home town. How to measure change at a place during a century? There are many ways, but one is to look at some numbers at the beginning, midway, and now.

For instance, in 1915 Emory conferred 148 degrees; in 1964-65, 1,136; in 2015, more than 4,600.

In 1915 there were 61 members of the faculty, including 16 in Emory College, which was still in Oxford. There were no endowed professorships. By 1965 the faculty had grown to 200, with twelve endowed Charles Howard Candler Professors and three or four other endowed chairs. This year there are more than 3,000 full-time faculty members, about half of them in the School of Medicine. Nearly 200 faculty members hold endowed professorships.

In 1915 the enrollment of the entire university was 631 students; in 1965 that number had grown to 5,844; this year it is 14,769, with students hailing from more than a hundred countries.

One literally concrete measure of what has happened at Emory since 1965 is all the facilities that did not exist or were not owned by Emory fifty years ago. Here is Emory as it is today.

Emory in 2015

This  map of the main Atlanta campus does not include the Briarcliff property and, of course, the historic and still vibrant campus at Oxford.

Here is the same map indicating all the buildings that Emory has added since 1965.

What's been built since 1965

All of those yellow shapes are buildings that did not exist in 1965. No wonder alumni sometimes don’t recognize the place when they return! If I printed the list here the names of the buildings would number more than fifty—more than one building a year for the past 50 years. And this does not include the new library, science center, and three new residence halls at Oxford (and the new dining hall under way there), or the nine-story hospital bed tower going up on Clifton Road, or the renovation (sometimes twice) of everything that previously existed on both campuses.

What these maps highlight is the increase in scholarly activity, teaching activity, and social activity that makes a university a university.

I’ll include more measures of change in future posts.

Gary Hauk

Asa Candler’s NON-million-dollar letter

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Asa Griggs Candler Sr.

Many Emory people know of the “million-dollar letter” written by Asa Griggs Candler Sr. on July 16, 1914, to the Educational Commission of the Southern Methodist Church.

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That was the spur to planting Emory University in Atlanta and eventually moving Emory College from its home in Oxford. Less well known are the hundreds of other Candler letters deposited in the Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library at Emory.

Candler was a great letter writer — great not only in the volume of personal and business-related missives he penned but also in the candor of his messages. As he aged, his penmanship deteriorated, looking as if every line was dashed off in a frenzy to keep up with his thoughts. But the first letter we have from him shows something else.

Candler letter to Griggs

Written to Candler’s namesake–Dr. Asa Griggs, of West Point, Georgia–the letter presents the young Candler, age 21, looking for better prospects. Having considered a career in medicine, he opted instead for pharmacy. “The country has enough [doctors] without they [the country] were better. Besides I think there is more money to be made as a druggist than as a physician.”

Having secured a position in Cartersville, Georgia, where he had spent two years learning the business, Candler now was ready for greater things. Was it possible, he wondered, that the physician for whom he was named, and who was “so widely known both professionally & socially,” might open a door or two for him? “I am not particular about the place,—where it is—will go to any place where I can do well.”

No evidence exists that Dr. Griggs responded to the young Asa, but within a year Candler had made his way to Atlanta, knocked on several doors, and landed a job assisting pharmacist John Howard. He also met Howard’s daughter, Lucy, who would become Asa’s wife. Fifteen years later he would buy controlling rights to John Pemberton’s recipe for Coca-Cola.

Gary Hauk