Revolution 2017, a multidisciplinary campus-wide initiative that focuses on revolution, broadly conceived, marks the 100th anniversary year of the Bolshevik Revolution. As we begin a year of courses and events related to revolution, let’s look back at a campus visit from a Russian embassy staff member 50 years ago.
In February 1967, Davidson invited Dr. Alexi Stepunin, then first secretary of the cultural division of the Soviet Embassy in D.C. to campus. In many ways, Dr. Stepunin’s visit was revolutionary – he was an campus to discuss the Russian Revolution, and his presence at Davidson was in opposition to the North Carolina Speaker Ban.
The ban, in effect from 1963 to 1968, prevented state supported colleges and universities from inviting speakers who were “known member[s] of the Communist Party;” “known to advocate the overthrow of the constitution of the United States or the state of North Carolina;” had plead “the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States in refusing to answer any question, with respect to communist or subversive connections, or activities, before an duly constituted legislative committee, any judicial tribunal, or any executive of administrative board of the United States or any state.” While Davidson College, as a private college, was not subject to this law, Davidson faculty members strongly opposed the law and made their opinions publicly known by authoring a position paper.
This paper, put out by the Davidson College AAUP (American Association of University Professors) stated why the faculty felt the ban would have a negative impact even on schools not bound to follow it:
“Our opposition to this law is permanent, and it is strictly a grass-roots operation… it needs to be stressed in this connection that a great part of our concern lies in the fact that this law endangers the quality of private institutions as well as public ones. To take Davidson College as a case in point, her vitality depends in a number of ways upon the quality of the state University, as is evidenced by the fact that nearly a fourth of our faculty has advanced degrees from this University.”
The Davidson faculty had other concerns besides the special relationship between UNC and Davidson – as the statement goes on to explain:
“The law is harmful to the University in another way as well. The free flow of ideas is inherently bound up in the very functioning of the University. The law does inhibit the free flow of ideas, else there would have been no reason for its passage in the first place. Thus the second hard fact of the matter is that the law not only demoralizes the faculty; it directly impedes the efficiency of their educational effort.”
Jesse Helms, then Executive Vice President at WRAL-TV and later a long-serving U.S. Senator, did not much like the rumblings emanating from Davidson College. He focused one of his WRAL-TV editorials on the faculty:
“Something over a week ago, there came from the campus of Davidson College the beginning gurgles of what no doubt will shortly be a river of pious nonsense swirling around the ankles of North Carolina legislature. The one-track minds of another group pf college professors had produced another resolution condemning the state law which bans communist speakers from state-owned college campuses… Davidson College was a poor place for this season’s flood of screwball resolutions to begin.”
It was into this environment that Alexi Stepunin stepped when he visited Davidson early in 1967. His main address while on campus discussed the 50th anniversary of the Russian Revolution and provided a “historical outline” of the Soviet Union from 1917 to 1967.
We too will be looking back at 1917 this year, as well as many other revolutions before and since as the Revolution 2017 initiative spans across multiple courses and public events. May the courage of the 1960s Davidson faculty in defending the “free flow of ideas” within education guide our actions this year!
It’s time for another Recipe from the Archives – summer salad edition! This week’s recipe is Dr. Catherine Slawy-Sutton’s Salade Niçoise, from Great Expectations: The Davidson College 1990-1991 Office Support Staff Cookbook.
As mentioned in the “Better Than the M & M’s Pimento Cheese” post, the Office Support Staff was born out of an earlier group known as The Chambermaids – a reference to the statues on Chambers Building, where most of the administrative staff worked, and a reference to the fact that the offices were almost entirely staffed by women. The Chambermaids, renamed the Office Support Staff (OSS) in 1982, was aimed at fostering professional development, advocating for needed changes on behalf of staff, and providing opportunities for social engagement. During the 1990-1991 academic year, the OSS compiled Though Great Expectations: The Davidson College 1990-1991 Office Support Staff Cookbook as a fundraiser. Recipes were solicited from across all areas of campus.
The recipe I chose to make, Salade Niçoise, was submitted by Catherine Slawy-Sutton, Professor of French & Francophone Studies at Davidson. Born in Angoulême, France and raised in Dakar, Senegal, Catherine received a B.A. and M.A. from the University of Nice and a M.A. and Ph.D. from Indiana University, Bloomington. She began working at Davidson College as Visiting Lecturer in 1980, moving to Assistant Professor in 1985, Associate Professor in 1991, and Professor in 1999. Catherine is married to recently retired French & Francophone Studies Professor Homer Sutton (Class of 1971), and the two professors have accompanied Davidson students on several study abroad programs in France.
Since Catherine studied in Nice, I assumed she’d know a good Salade Niçoise! I hadn’t yet made a salad for Recipes from the Archives, and this hearty provençal staple seemed like a perfect fit. As Catherine describes it in the Great Expectations cookbook, “This is a recipe for a consistent summer salad.”
I purchased oil-packed tuna in order to get the best flavor, and used tomatoes recently gifted to me by Davidson’s Systems Librarian, Susan Kerr, who grew them in her home garden. With boiling the potatoes and hard boiling the eggs, the preparation time for the salad was a bit longer, but completing the recipe was very easy, and the results are delicious!
In Fall 1962, Benoit (Ben) Nzengu enrolled at Davidson College. Nzengu, the son of a Presbyterian minister, was educated in Kasha and Lubondai (Democratic Republic of Congo). Two of his teachers in medical programs were missionaries who had attended Davidson – Dr. William Rule (Class of 1932) and Dr. Hugh Farrior (Class of 1949). He moved to Kingsville, Texas in 1961 in order to attend the Presbyterian Pan American School and apply to colleges in the United States. Ben then spent the summer of 1962 studying at the Institute of Modern Languages in Washington, DC and taking a course at Howard University before being put forward for admission to Davidson by the Presbyterian Board of World Missions. Originally given the standing of “special student” (i.e., a student not in a regular four-year degree program), the Admissions Committee evaluated his record in May 1963 and determined that Nzengu should be admitted as a freshman for the following year. However, he graduated on time in 1966 due to taking summer courses, and went on to study medicine at the University of Brussels. Dr. Nzengu is now a surgeon in France.
Professor Dan Rhodes (Class of 1938, religion professor 1960-1984), who chaired the committee tasked with “dealing with Congolese students,” served as Nzengu’s faculty advisor. Special consideration was given to who should room with Nzengu; it was decided that Knox Abernethy (Class of 1963) was good choice, as the Board of World Missions advised against placing Nzengu in a room with a missionary’s son who had spent time in the Congo:
“We find it hard for the missionaries not to be too paternalistic. We feel that it is good that Benoit will be accepted for what his is now, rather than what may be known about him in the past in terms of his life and growth in the Congo; we think Benoit has what it takes to make the grade. We find that it is awfully hard for the Congo missionaries and their families not to always be thinking about our Congolese friends as they used to be rather than as they now are.” (Letter from George M. Cooley to Dan Rhodes, August 6, 1962)
In September 1962, then College President D. Grier Martin communicated with Charlotte movie theater owner Mike Kincey about whether Nzengu would be allowed to attend showings of films at one of the three theaters owned by his company. Martin’s letter spells out how difficult dealing with segregation in Charlotte and its surrounding areas must have been for Nzengu:
“It occurred to me that an exception might be made at one or more theaters if this boy were accompanied by at least two of our Davidson students who would agree to sit on either side of him so that no person who might object to sitting by a colored person would have this happen.”
Martin’s letter to Professor Dan Rhodes on September 17, 1962 about the protocol for Nzengu’s attending movies starkly demonstrates the lengths Nzengu had to go through to avoid humiliation or violence while participating in activities that his fellow Davidson students could do with ease.
Being able to participate in leisure activities like other Davidson students did remained an issue – as Rhodes commented May 8, 1981Davidsonian article by Minor Sinclair and Vince Parker: “‘It took us some time for real non-segregation to penetrate all fibers of the College and community. It’s the little things – like being able to get a cup of coffee, or to use a public restroom, or get a haircut – that makes a difference and that are so hard to grow into,’ [Religion Professor Dan] Rhodes added.”
Archival records indicate that Ben Nzengu was in regular contact with the Board of World Missions, and that he was also under a microscope in many ways. Newsweek sent a reporter to cover his experience at Davidson, The Charlotte News ran a story on his adjustment to college, and the Davidson College Public Relations office took several publicity photos.
The same week that The Charlotte News reported that “Ben hopes to study hard and make lots of new friends,” Nzengu received some hate mail. President Martin’s response to Dan Rhodes, who had reported the incident, notes that the College President was “surprised only that this hasn’t happened earlier.” President Martin was also receiving hate mail during this time period, primarily from alumni who found integration repugnant.
In April 1963, the United States Information Agency’s H.S. Hudson wrote Robert J. Sailstead (then Davidson’s Director of Public Relations) on the subject of doing “a brief picture story on Mr. Nzengu” for the July issue of Perspectives Americaine and American Outlook, published by the Information Agency in Leopoldville and Accra, respectively:
“In general, we want coverage demonstrating Nzengu is accepted by his fellow students, participates in college life, and demonstrates that he is satisfied with being in Davidson. If he is also accepted by the townspeople, then shots to this effect would be very useful.”
In Fall 1963, Nzengu was joined by the second black student to enroll at Davidson college – Georges Nzongola-Ntalaja, also from the Congo. After graduating from Davidson, Nzongola went on to get a master’s degree in Diplomacy and International Commerce from the University of Kentucky in 1968, and a Ph.D in Political Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1975. Dr. Georges Nzongola-Ntalaja is currently a professor of African and Afro-American studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He served as a visiting professor at Davidson for the Fall 1990 semester. While a student at Davidson, Nzongola, led “a fight for liberalizing church attendance policy”:
“At the time, all students were required to attend chapel two or three times a week, Sunday evening vespers, and Sunday morning church services – for which they had to have signed attendance slips. But students had only three choices for church attendance – the college Presbyterian church, the Methodist church, and the Episcopal church – all white middle class churches. There were two other churches in town, the black church and the poor white church, but neither of them counted towards the attendance requirement. ‘You couldn’t even go to the poor white Presbyterian church and get an attendance card,’ Nzongola recalls. ‘So I said, ‘I’m going to go to the black church, and you have to give me an attendance or not give me an attendance.’ So finally they relented, and eventually every student was able to get attendance in any church they wanted to attend.'” (“The Black Experience of Davidson” issue of the Davidson Journal, Fall 1990)
Both Nzengu and Nzongola were on the soccer team, and Nzengu earned All-Southern Conference honors as a varsity soccer player.
In Fall 1964, the first black American students enrolled at Davidson, Leslie Brown ’69 and Wayne Crumwell ’68. Brown’s son, Demian Brown Dellinger (Class of 1998) was Davidson’s first black legacy student. The May 1, 1964 issue of The Davidsonian announced: “Two American Negroes Plan to Enroll This Fall: Three Boys Admitted, But Only Two Accept.” Former Student Body President, John Spratt (Class of 1964) was quoted as saying:
“This will be a terrific challenge for Davidson boys who profess beliefs in integration to act out their convictions. I hope there will not be a de facto segregation within the student body against these young men and that they will become full members of the student body in every sense of the word: intellectually, politically, and socially.”
During Homecoming 2012, the Offices of Multicultural Affairs and Alumni Relations sponsored a program called “Reflections: On 50+ Years of Integration,” featuring keynotes by Ben Nzengu ’66 and Leslie Brown ’69. The Davidsonian article covering the event noted: “Today, 24.2% of first-year students identify as students of color. Fifty years ago, there was only one student of color.” Nzengu reflected at the event: “How great a role did Davidson play in my life? To give you an idea, it was Davidson and its Board of Trustees who made it all happen in 1962, the year I was admitted here to integrate a southern white male college, in a year in which only 53% of the student body was in favor of having black students among them.”
Nzengu went on to talk about how his friendship with James Howard, a college employee, gave him insight into the life of black workers at the college and black life in town:
“…[Howard] was in charge of the Chemistry Building, and a very skilled worker. He was paid as a janitor. I know him well, and I used to go eat at his house, and go with him to his Church, across the railroad tracks. Life on the other side of the railroad tracks was a distinctive mark for the entire black community. One day, I had the following conversation with James. ‘The whites in this town would like us to stay in the same position working for them and doing the dirty work with low wages,’ he said. ‘The separation between our two communities is these railroad tracks; you cross it to go to work, you cross it again to go back to your house, and that’s it.’ ‘Before you came to Davidson,’ he added, ‘everyone in town knew that a Congolese student would be coming to Davidson, but the whites don’t like to see integration, and black people crossing those tracks permanently.'”
“Coming to Davidson as one of the first black students in the time of rapidly emerging and advancing civil rights movement, I saw myself as having assumed the mantel of ‘firstness.’ By that I mean, I had embarked on the migration with a sense of mission, duty, and responsibility because I felt my successful migration has the potential to impact the nature and course of race relations and future opportunities for other blacks’ relationship with Davidson College and the broader issues of integration and opportunities for blacks in higher education and other arenas… I carried with me not only my own hopes and dreams but also those of my family, my community and my people.”
The December 1, 1967 issue of TheDavidsonian included an article by Bob Reid entitled “Negroes View Role: ‘Hasn’t Been Exactly Easy’,” which interviewed three of the five black students on campus at the time. This article provides insight into the students’ experience while they were living it:
Leslie Brown ’69: “It hasn’t been exactly easy… You realize just how different you are.”
Calvin Murphy ’70: “When I came here, I wanted to be identified as a Davidson College student. Now I want to be identified as a black Davidson College student.”
Wayne Crumwell ’68: “You can’t integrate fully… here or anywhere else. What good is integrating if the feeling behind it is not real.”
Brown: “You’ll never get a Negro to come here and enjoy it… unless you have a larger Negro student body. Sometimes we like to get away from white students and be with our brothers.”
Brown: “It is generally leading me to dedicate myself to working with black people, and help them realize that there is a pride in being black.”
When interviewed by Davidson student Steven Shames (Class of 1996) for Shames’ honors thesis, “A Good Faith Effort: Integration at Davidson College, 1958-1964,” Wayne Crumwell reflected honestly on his experience as a Davidson student:
“What did I do for Davidson? I graduated from Davidson. I consider that an accomplishment. And I consider that something that was done more for Davidson than for Wayne Crumwell. Davidson needed black students. Black students did not particularly need Davidson… The fact that I don’t feel particularly good about Davidson is something I’ve had to deal with… Would I opt to go to Davidson again? Hell, no! Why subject myself to that trauma during that time in one’s life when you have alternatives?”
Crumwell also discussed with Shames his resentment over how the college administration handled his entrance to Davidson: “It became clear that the college had put some thought into integrating from the perspective of preparing the white students for the experience. But they took for granted the fact that black students would just be accepted in this environment.” He recalled on his return to campus for a talk in February 1993 that the then admissions director “told us we were here for the benefit of white students. They needed to be exposed. It would be an awesome service that we could perform for them.” (The Davidsonian, March 1, 1993)
By 1966, Lefty Driesell (head basketball coach, 1960-1969) has begun to recruit black players for the basketball team. One recruit, Charlie Scott, visited campus with his parents and was taken to the Coffee Cup, a local segregated restaurant. Town legend hold that “the Coffee Cup incident” is the reason that Scott, previously interested in attending Davidson, went on to commit to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill instead: “Many feel the incident influenced Scott’s decision to attend the University of North Carolina and cost the Wildcats a national championship. According to Will Terry, ‘There was an awful lot of desegregation taking place that next afternoon.'” (Davidsonian, May 8, 1981) Leslie Brown also mentioned the Coffee Cup when discussing the town of Davidson’s reaction to black students at the Homecoming 2012 event: “To say you could comfortably sit and enjoy it and either establishment [M&M Soda Shop and Hattie’s] would be an overstatement. Then there was The Coffee Cup which served blacks on a takeout basis only.”
Another one of Lefty Driesell’s recruits who did enroll at Davidson was Mike Maloy (Class of 1970; did not graduate). Maloy remains one of the best basketball players to ever attend Davidson, and holds the distinction of being the first black member of a fraternity at the college. The March 2, 1967 issue of Jet magazine reported: “First Negro Accepted by White Frat In N.C.” when Maloy joined the Sigma Chi fraternity. The story included the total number of students of color in 1967: “The 1,000-member student body has seven Negroes.” Leslie Brown also became a member of Sigma Chi.
In 1967, the Black Student Coalition was founded by these early black students, and remains an active campus organization. The BSC’s Statement of Purpose lists three main objectives:
“to establish and maintain a spirit of solidarity among the Black students of Davidson College,” “to create a sense of awareness within the framework of Davidson College with regards to the contributions of Black students, and specifically the Black Student Coalition, to the ‘total environment’ of Davidson College,” and “to serve as an active force ready and willing to support the Black citizens of the town of Davidson and to aid them in overcoming many of the problems which they now face.”
In April 1968, students picketed Johnson’s Barber Shop, a local black-owned segregated business. Johnson’s would serve black Davidson students, but not black townspeople during regular business hours. At the end of the month, a faculty and student committee formed to generate interest in “contributing to a fund to underwrite Mr. Ralph Johnson’s losses if he were to integrate his Barber Shop” reported to President Martin that they had approached Johnson and Hood Norton (who owned another segregated barber shop in town) and “regret to report to you that both Mr. Johnson and Mr. Norton were unreceptive to the entire idea, indicating that their strong intention to adhere to their current policies of segregation.” Dan Rhodes and Wayne Crumwell both served on this committee.
Leslie Brown wrote a letter to President Martin informing him that Johnson had told him he would no longer serve black students in his barbershop, and urged Martin to have the College take an official stance. In an interview for the book One Town, Many Voices: A History of Davidson, North Carolina (Jan Blodgett and Ralph Levering, 2012), Max Polley (faculty in Religion, 1956-1993) recounted a conversation with Ralph Johnson, urging Johnson to integrate:
“When I talked to him, I said, ‘You know, now it’s time. Why don’t you go ahead and cut the hair of the little whites and blacks. It’s coming.’ And he said, ‘Dr. Polley, when I started this shop, the white people said you are only going to cut white people’s hair, and that’s what I did. Now the white people say we want you to cut black people’s hair also. When do I get to make a decision? I just have to do what the white people say.'”
Five weeks after the boycott began, Johnson opened his barbershop to customers of all races during regular business hours. Later that year, Hood Norton’s shop did the same. The barbershop boycott demonstrates that Crumwell and Brown were participating in activism around Davidson during the late 1960s.
By the early 1970s, there were 19 students of color enrolled at Davidson College. Howard J. Ramagli (Class of 1972) surveyed 15 of those students in 1971-1972 for his paper, “A Study of Attitudes & Procedures Related to the Black Experience at Davidson.” In particular, the anonymous comments Ramagli compiled on the topic of black identity in Davidson shed light on the experiences of these early black students:
“I hope I am considered a student at Davidson and not just a black student at Davidson.”
“It’s hard stepping into somebody else’s [the white’s] world, especially when they think their world is right.”
“You have to carry around your ID everywhere to show that you really go to school here. I can’t even get a check cashed or get into the gym without someone asking for my ID to prove who I am.”
“There is a loneliness you have to endure which is beyond any white definition of loneliness.”
“Being black at Davidson is going to homecoming and all the music is blue-grass.”
Davidson College became fully coeducational in the fall of 1973, when the first class of women freshmen enrolled. This first class included four black women: Julia Deck, Denise Fanuiel, Debra Kyle, and Marian Perkins. In 1977, Denise Fanuiel became the first black woman to graduate from Davidson College, as well as the first woman to be commissioned through the college’s ROTC program. Marian Perkins went on to graduate in 1979, and returned to campus to give a talk on her reflections for Black History Month in 1993, along with Wayne Crumwell ’68.
Perkins’ portion of the speech received less coverage in The Davidsonianthan Crumwell’s, but did include mention a brief mention of her student experience:
“While outward racism was not so apparent, subtle hints of its presence did not go unnoticed by her. Professors who encouraged her to join their departments so that they might have a black student in their ranks, and a theater production which depicted African Americans in a displeasing light made their points… Perkins used the final moments of her talk to encourage students [to] have deeply committed faith and to promote encouraged race relations. ‘I am deeply committed to my religion and don’t feel the need to judge failure and success using the normal rules.'”
Perkins later became an ordained Baptist minister, and still works with the Greater Fellowship Baptist Church in Decatur, Georgia. Julia Deck and Debra Kyle withdrew from Davidson without graduating.
25 years after Ben Nzengu enrolled at Davidson, he returned to campus for a reunion. A Charlotte Observer article by Pam Kelley, “Challenge of integration remains: Davidson’s first black student attends 25th class reunion” (April 20, 1991) covered the event: “Though aware he was making history, ‘I wasn’t concerned all the time,’ he said. ‘I was concerned with getting my work done.'” Kelley also quoted Anthony Foxx (Class of 1993): “‘I think the main difference between then and now,’ said Anthony Foxx, a black sophomore from Charlotte, ‘is we’ve known because of the people who’ve graduated for the last 20 years, that we can make it through.'”
George Nzongola was interviewed for the Davidson Journal‘s “The Black Experience of Davidson” issue (Fall 1990), on his experiences as a Davidson student, and his thoughts on African-American studies as a professor in the field: “… I think it even more important that Davidson ought to do more to increase the number of African-American students and faculty. I mean this is an American college, and I’m kind of disappointed that after twenty-eight years of integration there are only some sixty black students or so in a student body of fifteen hundred.”
Similarly, Minor Sinclair and Vince Parker’s May 8, 1981 Davidsonian article, “Path of integration is slow and long, continues amid problems” called out the College and community on claiming Davidson has been integrated:
“Twenty years has passed since the College began integration. In hindsight, integration appears as a process, a continuum of slow changes and protracted growing pains. In spite of a few volatile moments, the process ahs [sic] largely been one of gradual compromise within the system in ‘the Davidson way.’ Change has resulted. The College, once an all white institution, now claims one black professor and 45 black students. Yet, is Davidson integrated now? or is the process continuing? or has it been aborted?”
This blog, and the one that precedes it, are intended to shed light on the complex path to integration and the experiences of the first black students at one educational institution. While there is a wealth of material collected by the College Archives & Special Collections, there is also more to know and more to collect, particularly the reflections of the first women of color to attend Davidson. We welcome comments and questions, and seek to continue to learn and share that knowledge with the Davidson community and beyond.
In honor of Black History Month, this week’s blog focuses on the history of integration at Davidson College, from the mid-1950s up until the admission of the first black student in 1962. Next week’s blog will focus on the experiences of those early black students at Davidson, particularly through their own words and reflections. For a broader view of black history in Davidson, check out the short documentary Always Part of the Fabric and its accompanying text supplement.
The Brown vs. Board of Education rulings in 1954 paved the way towards desegregation in public schools, and while Davidson is a private institution, the dialogue created by Brown vs. Board of Education began local conversations on integration. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg County school system began the process of desegregation in 1957; as the school system’s history page notes, “At the time, Charlotte was very much a segregated city, with black schools and white schools within the district. The schools reflected the larger social context in a city with no integrated hotels, restaurants, restrooms, churches, cemeteries or theaters.”
As articles and editorials in The Davidsonian demonstrate, campus opinions on integration varied widely from the mid-1950s until 1962 and beyond. In March 1956, Professor Cecil Kenneth Brown (Class of 1921; math and economics faculty, 1923-1957) gave a pro-segregation talk on campus entitled “The Southern Position with Respect to the Bi-Racial System” (later printed in the July 28, 1956 issue of The State, now Our State magazine, as “The White South: A Minority Group”).
Two years later, student Joseph Bell (Class of 1960) wrote a letter to the editor in support of admitting black students, printed in the January 17, 1958 issue of The Davidsonian. Bell noted that “Davidson’s present segregated status has no support in the position of the Church, and it is inconsistent with the purposes of the school itself.”
In April 1958, the first known admissions inquiry was made on behalf of a potential black student. Frank E. Parker wrote a letter to Frederick W. Hengeveld (Class of 1918, Registrar and Director of Admissions, 1946-1967), requesting information on the college for his son. Parker wrote:
“We are Negroes – and ‘thereby hangs a tale.’ Our motives for seeking admission to your institution are not predicated upon any intent to establish a precedent, nor agitate the prevailing race patterns. We seek the quality training available from your school.”
Admissions Director Hengeveld directed the Parkers’ request and following application (in November 1958) to the Board of Trustees for a decision. The Board formed a special committee to “study the question of admitting black applicants” (Davidsonian article, February 17, 1998) but did not release a decision. Hengeveld responded to Frank Parker, Jr. on November 26, 1958:
“Since the Trustees have not taken any action which would authorize the admission of Negro students, and since we do not know when they will or whether they will take such action, we feel it is wise to advise you to make application to other institutions so that you may be sure of acceptance elsewhere.”
At their meeting on February 18, 1959 the Board of Trustees passed “The Majority Report of the Admission of Negroes to Davidson College,” based on the findings of the special committee. However, this statement was not released to the public until October 1959. An attachment to the report notes that the recommendation was modified to read:
“In the view of the request of the Education Committee with reference to the matter of the admission of Negroes, the college authorities responsible for admitting students be advised that it is the judgment of a majority of the Trustees that at this time the admission of Negroes is not in the best interest of the College, of the Church, of the Students, or of any Negroes who at this juncture would be admitted as students.”
In the meantime, The Davidsonian ran another editorial calling for a decision on the matter of integration. The March 6, 1959 article stated: “We think the time has come to end such ostrich-headed attitudes. Why not consider the possibility? Why not honestly try to find out what effects there might be if a qualified Negro student enrolled at the college?”
On October 6, 1959, then College President David Grier Martin (Class of 1932, College President 1958-1968) addressed the faculty and student body and announced the Board of Trustees decision:
“The Trustees decided that it was not in the best interest of the college to admit a Negro student at this time. Since this was not a change in the ‘unwritten’ policy which Davidson has been following, the majority of the Trustees felt it would not be necessary to make a public announcement.”
Two months later, segregationist and newspaper editor Thomas R. Waring gave an address to the student body of Davidson while at chapel. That week’s Davidsonian ran an interview with Waring in which he was asked: “What is your opinion concerning the integration of an institution such as Davidson College?” Waring responded: “I’d say this: you have a pretty good college now, why change it? You’d run the risk of losing North and South Carolina boys whose families oppose this thing, and contributors from Southern states would surely fall away.”
Waring also served on a panel at Davidson with Charles Jones of Johnson C. Smith University, a historically black university in Charlotte. The Davidsonian reported that Jones countered Waring’s comments by “point[ing] out that many things are denied the Negro which are a vital part of the Southern way of life – education, social rights, and other opportunities.”
That same week, faculty member William Gatewood Workman (psychology professor, 1951-1977) moved for the faculty to conduct a vote on a statement of whether they supported integration, and whether to integrate now or in the future. The results of the faculty vote would be submitted to the Board of Trustees.
For the Board of Trustees meeting in February 1960, The Davidsonian created a special issue focused on the meeting and the issue of admitting black students. This issue included the results of poll conducted by Davidsonian staff, several letters to the editor, and a cartoon lampooning the values of the Presbyterian Church as practiced in a policy of segregation.
At the Feburary 1960 Trustees meeting, Henry Shue (Class of 1961) presented a petition signed by over 250 Davidson students, requesting that the Trustees reopen discussion on integration and further study the matter. Shue had also set up meetings with willing Trustees to discuss the students’ opinions on integration.
A year later, nine Davidson alumni serving as missionaries at the American Presbyterian Congo Mission sent a letter to President Martin, urging that the college consider admitting African students in order to train these students to become Presbyterian leaders in their own countries. This request aligned with the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, U.S.’s 1954 and 1960 proceedings, urging Presbyterian affiliated institutions to look into desegregation.
The Trustees discussed this request from the alumni missionaries in their February 1961 meeting, and made the decision to admit up to three Congolese students for the following year. The February 17, 1961 Davidsonian reported that when then Board of Trustees President J. McDowell Richards (Class of 1922) was asked whether “this action was ‘not inconsistent with the policy laid two two years ago’ when the board voted that ‘it is not in the best interests of Davidson College to integrate at this time,'” Richards responded, ‘”Perhaps it is an inconsistency…But the board felt it necessary to to back the Board of World Missions on this matter.”
That same issue also featured an article by student Tom Parker (Class of 1961), criticizing The Davidsonian‘s coverage of integration at the college:
“Two years ago the Davidson student body, assembled in chapel, applauded the statement ‘It is not in the interest of Davidson College to admit Negroes at this time.’ Last year, through a clearly worded petition, they expressed their desire that Davidson remain a segregated institution at least for the present time. Despite these setbacks, those on this campus who favor integration have renewed their efforts… it is interesting to consider the devices which they employ to gain their objectives, especially those which are used in an openly sympathetic newspaper (which nonetheless declares itself in its letterhead to be “The News and Editorial Voice of Davidson College.”)
Local criticism of the decision to integrate, an indication of the difficulties the potential international students from Africa would face once enrolled at Davidson, appeared in the March 3, 1961 Davidsonian:
After the Trustees decision, President Martin established a committee “dealing with Congolese students” and appointed faculty member Dan Rhodes (Class of 1938, religion professor 1960-1984) to chair it. The committee, comprised of faculty, students, and community members, was tasked with investigating potential issues Congolese students would face.
Though the Trustees had voted to admit a limited number of Congolese students, no black students enrolled at Davidson for the 1961-1962 academic year. From the May 5, 1961 Davidsonian story, “Martin: ‘We Will Have No Congolese Next Fall'”:
‘”The Board of World Missions in Nashville tells me that our missionary group has assigned ten students – none to Davidson – for good reasons… The Board of World Missions will plan to send one to us when they have one they consider qualified.’ Davidson’s Congolese Committee will continue meeting in preparation for the future, Martin said.”
Students and faculty continued to probe the issue throughout the next academic year, with the faculty voting in January 1962 to urge “the Trustees of the College authorize the admission of qualified students of any race and nationality.” The final tally of the faculty vote was 53 in favor and 14 against (1 abstention). Though the Trustees had voted to allow a limited number of students from the Congo, this decision still barred American black students from enrolling at Davidson.
The Davidsonian conducted another student opinion poll on integration, with then student body president, George Trask (Class of 1962), sending the results of the student poll to College President Martin for distribution to the Board of Trustees.
Armed with the faculty vote and a student opinion poll, both showing a campus majority favored integration, President Martin took the question of officially integrating the college, rather than allowing a small, capped number of students specifically from one African country to the Board of Trustees. On May 17, 1962, at their meeting the Trustees of Davidson College approved a resolution to open “the college to students regardless of race or nationality.” (The Davidsonian, May 18, 1962)
On the decision to integrate with international black students, rather than American students, professor Dan Rhodes recalled in an April 20, 1991 Charlotte Observer article by Pam Kelley, “Challenge of integration remains: Davidson’s first black student attends 25th class reunion”: “Africans were seen as less threatening. They were foreigners, so they were more acceptable, in a sense.”
In fall 1962, the first black student enrolled at Davidson College – Benoit Nzengu, from the Congo. Next week’s blog will cover Ben Nzengu’s and the other early black students’ experiences at Davidson from 1962-1977 – watch this space!
Time for another edition of our Recipes from the Archives blog series – week’s dish is Gail Gibson’s “Better than the M&M’s Pimento Cheese” from Great Expectations: The Davidson College 1990-1991 Office Support Staff Cookbook.
The Office Support Staff organization was born out of a long tradition of social groups founded by women staff members at Davidson College – in the 1950s, Professor Ernest Beaty (Class of 1920; English and Latin professor at Davidson College from 1925 to 1966) nicknamed the group of office workers “The Chambermaids,” a reference to the statues on Chambers Building, where most of the women worked. The group first drafted a Statement of Purpose in 1975, illustrating their goals: “The purpose of THE CHAMBERMAIDS shall be to support the students, faculty and administration of Davidson College; to encourage in a considerate and professional manner the full potential development of its members; to foster fellowship; and to establish an official line of communication between its members and the College in order to promote greater understanding and cooperation.”
In 1982, The Chambermaids changed their organization name to Office Support Staff. At the time that the Great Expectations cookbook was produced as a fund-raiser, the organization officers were: Kristi Newton (President), Pat Gardner (Vice-President), Ethel Black (Secretary), and Jo Archie (Treasurer). The front page of the cookbook provides a history of the Office Support Staff, including the major achievements of the group: “Ever since that time the ‘Chambermaids’, now known as the ‘Office Support Staff’, has accomplished a variety of goals such as tuition benefits for our children, flexible summer work hours, using a percentage of our sick days for personal leave time, cumulative years of service to count towards vacation leave, the posting of all jobs so that we are aware of the availabilities and representation on various campus committees, just to name a few.” The Office Support Staff ceased meeting as an organization in 2009.
Though Great Expectations was compiled by the Office Support Staff, recipes were solicited from across all areas of campus. The recipe I chose was submitted by Gail Gibson, who taught in the English department from 1983 until her retirement in 2014. Gibson served as the College Marshall for many years, and is particularly well-known for staging a Chaucer banquet in her home as part of her curriculum. As the College news story on her retirement states, Gibson was very interested in food studies: “‘The best way to know a culture is to know how it eats!’ she explained. The Chaucer banquets ultimately led her to develop popular writing classes focused on food that she taught for years – food as symbol, food as a reflection of culture, food memoir and the anthropology of food.”
Gibson’s statement on the cultural import of food is particularly apropos as we look at her recipe for pimento cheese, a beloved Southern classic. Pimento cheese, as Scott Huler puts it in his story on the history of the food in Our State magazine, is a “Southern, rural, working-class icon — Carolina caviar, some call it” with a fascinating backstory. As a North Carolina transplant, I was particularly interested in having a go at making this cultural staple for the first time.
Gibson’s recipe title is a playful homage to the popularity of M&M’s pimento cheese, suggesting this recipe is even better. I had a little bit of trouble making the recipe – the cream cheese did not easily combine with the other ingredients, and required a bit of milk to thin it out. I also ended up adding more grated cheese than the recipe called for, since once I had completed mixing the ingredients, the orange mixture seemed too smooth. Having never tasted the original M&M’s pimento cheese, I can’t say for sure that this recipe is better… but it is delicious!
As October heads to a close, so too does Archives Month. The theme set this year by the Society of North Carolina Archivists was “Celebrating Archives: North Carolina Arts, Crafts, and Music Traditions,” and we’ve had events all month long to celebrate Davidson’s archival history in those three areas (such as a mandolin concert and an art exhibition focusing on pieces in the College’s collections from North Carolina artists). In that vein, the blog this week highlights one of the most seminal figures in the history of the Davidson College Music Department: James Christian Pfohl.
Student musical groups and organizations date back to the mid-1800s, with students forming the choir for religious services and more casual gatherings, including playing in the cupola of the Old Chambers Building. The first glee club was formally established on campus in 1890, a college orchestra appears in our archival records in 1892, and the glee club, chapel choir and a whistling club were all mentioned in the first issue of Quips & Cranks in 1895. Students (such as Alonzo Pool in 1892-93 [Class of 1893] and Daniel McGeachy in 1895-96 [Class of 1896]) or outside music instructors (Gertrude Williamson and Eulalia Cornelius, both in 1896-97, for example) were sometimes paid by the college to instruct non-credit-bearing courses.
By 1925, the demand from students for music instruction was such that the February 12th issue of The Davidsonian featured an article urging the administration to hire a music director:
“We find a student body of six hundred young men with latent musical tastes and talents that, would in time, if properly husbanded, make the musical standard of our church second to none, not even of the celebrated German communities. When the call was issued for candidates for the Glee Club this year, one-sixth of the entire student body were interested enough to appear for the trials. Every year the incoming freshman class brings in a wealth of talent along instrumental lines, but the case is usually that only the three or four best secure enough recognition to sustain them in their musical work, and by their senior year, their talent has all but atrophied with disuse.”
The cure for that atrophying of student musical talent would be to hire a musical director, who “would have charge of the musical organizations of the college, stimulate interest in things musical, and would train the students in the rudiments of music, both of singing and appreciation.” Perhaps in response, in 1927 the college hired Ernest J. Cullum as Director of Music and Associate Professor of the History and Appreciation of Fine Arts. The history of music and arts appreciation courses Cullum taught, the first offered for credit at Davidson, were listed through the history department. Cullum stayed on until 1931, when funding for the position was cut. During this time teachers from Charlotte and Mooresville were engaged to offer private lessons in piano, organ, wind, and string instruments, and students funded the hiring of Carol Baker from Charlotte to direct the Glee Club for several years in the mid-1920s.
When James Christian Pfohl (1912 – 1997) was hired by the college in 1933, he was a recent graduate of the University of Michigan (Bachelor’s of Music, organ) and would go on to earn a Master’s of Music (musicology) from that same university in 1939. Pfohl was instrumental in building the music program at Davidson – he began as the sole employee of the department, when he focused on developing student music organizations in addition to working as the college organist; as he put in a summary report in 1951, the year before he retired from Davidson, student groups were fundamental the establishment and growth of music program: “In many ways I feel that organizational work has been our most important, as it has been from these groups that the influence of music has spread on the campus and throughout the entire area.” Similarly, in his obituary (April 1, 1997), the Charlotte Observer exclaimed that “He was a musical zealot, a tireless builder of organizations such as the music departments at Davidson and Queens colleges, the Charlotte Symphony and Jacksonville Symphony orchestras and Brevard Music Center.”
Pfohl was indeed a tireless builder – by his second year on the job, he had established the Davidson Concert Series, a new symphonic band, and a new symphony orchestra. According to Mary Beaty’s A History of Davidson College, then College President Walter Lee Lingle (Class of 1892, President 1929 – 1941) convinced the college’s Board of Trustees that music was an important part of maintaining Davidson’s academic profile: “This is done in many other high grade colleges… the great Educational Associations of America are stressing the importance of Music and Fine Art in colleges.”
In addition to his work building new organizations and initiatives, Pfohl also maintained the work of the Glee Club, football band, and ROTC band. He also organized broadcasts of the Symphonic Band over Charlotte radio station WBT. As evidence on this growth and interest, additional music faculty were hired – by 1935, Warren Babock, Moreland Cunningham (Class of 1935), Franklin Riker, and Louise Nelson Pfohl were also working in the department.
Another one of Pfohl’s major initiatives began in the summer of 1936, when he established a summer music camp for boys at Davidson, inspired by his experience as a scholarship student at the Interlochen Arts Camp as a youth. The music camp Phofl began still continues today – it was held at Davidson until 1943, when it spend one season headquartered at Queens College in Charlotte. In 1944, Pfohl moved the camp to Brevard, NC., and in in 1955, the camp and its programs were renamed the Brevard Music Center.
By 1938, Pfohl had made another lasting contribution to Davidson: he provided lyrical arrangement for “All Hail! O Davidson!,” the college’s alma mater. The words were written by George M. Maxwell (Class of 1896) on the occasion of the college’s centennial in 1937; originally intended as a fight song, Phofl envisioned the song as more of a hymn. By 1952, “All Hail! O Davidson!” began being printed in commencement programs. The lyrics have been changed a few times since 1938, most recently by committee in 1996, to reflect coeducation.
On May 25, 1943, the faculty voted that: “Credit will be given for Applied Music within such limitations as the Curriculum Committee may prescribe, provided that, so far as concerns requirements for graduation, there be allowed a maximum of 30 hours credit in Music, of which 12 may be Applied Music.” This expansion of credit-bearing courses was a boon for the department, and Pfohl was elected a full professor of music by the Board of Trustees in 1946, replacing his previous position as “Director.”
In 1949, Pfohl began working as the conductor and music director for the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra. Three years later, he resigned his position at Davidson in 1952 in order to conduct the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra (while simultaneously remaining in his position with the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra until 1957, and continuing to lead summer camps at the Brevard Music Center until 1967). In 1959, he began music directing for an educational TV program in the Jacksonville area, The Magic of Music. In 1961, Pfohl left his post with the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra, and went on to direct the York (PA) Symphony Orchestra and Reston Little (VA) Symphony. His accomplishments included conducting four performances at the White House, establishing the Mint Museum Chamber Orchestra (1944 – 1961) and serving as inspiration and sounding board for the founders of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. He retired to Jacksonville in 1983, where he remained until his death in 1997. Pfohl was survived by his second wife, Carolyn Day Pfohl (his first wife, fellow Davidson and Queens College faculty member Louise Nelson Pfohl passed away in 1968), and three children: James Christian Pfohl, Jr., David Pfohl, and Alice Pfohl Knowles.
The music department has flourished since James Christian Pfohl’s time at Davidson – currently, students can major or minor in the subject, with a vastly expanded curriculum led by faculty and artist associates. Pfohl’s legacy of establishing student organizations and gaining credit for applied music left a strong base for future generations of faculty and students to build upon, and his family recently donated several scrapbooks assembled by Pfohl during his time at Davidson and beyond. Come into the archives to see more about music history at Davidson in the 1930s through 1950s!
Today is the first day of fall, so it seemed like a particularly appropriate time for an autumnal recipe – Jennie Martin’s Brown Betty. Regular Around The D Readers might remember Jennie Martin from a previous Recipes from the Archives blog post – her Cafe Parfait was featured this summer.
Jane “Jennie” Vardell Rumple Martin (1872 – 1955) hailed from Charleston, South Carolina, and first came to North Carolina to attend the Charlotte Female Institute (now Queens University). Jennie moved to Davidson in 1897, when she married William Joseph Martin, Jr. (1868 – 1943; Class of 1888), then a professor of chemistry at Davidson College. W.J. Martin, Jr. was the son of Colonel William Joseph Martin, a Davidson College professor of chemistry and geology who served as acting College President from 1887 to 1888. W.J. Martin, Jr. became President of the College in 1912, a post he held until 1929, when he was appointed President of the Assembly’s Training School (now Union Presbyterian Seminary) in Richmond. The Martins returned to Davidson in 1939 and remained in town for the remainder of their lives. The family included five children: J. Malcomson Rumple (Jennie’s son from her first marriage to James Rumple), William Joseph Martin III, Eloise Martin Currie, Jean Martin Foil, and Mary Martin Maddox.
As noted in the previous recipe entry on the Martins, Jennie was very active in town life – she founded the Woman’s Book Club of Davidson (now Booklover’s Club) and the Young Matrons Club (Twentieth Century Club from 1927 to 1964). She contributed recipes for the Davidson Civic Club’s Davidson Cook Book (circa 1928).
Jennie Martin’s cookbook was likely compiled sometime between 1897 and 1907, based on dates from a scrapbook also created by Martin during her time in Davidson. Most of the cookbooks in the Davidson College Archives & Special Collections are collections of recipes gathered from several community members and published as a fundraising activity for various civic or social organizations, but the Martin cookbook is a handwritten, personal collection of recipes.
Likely the recipes Jennie Martin recorded in her cookbook were shared from her family, friends, and neighbors – as Janet Theophano states in Eat My Words: Reading Women’s Lives through the Cookbooks They Wrote, “From at least the seventeenth century, women have exchanged and shared recipes (also called receipts until the late nineteenth century) that they recorded in their cookery manuscripts”; these recipes “may come from past generations and from individuals living side by side in small communities, connected to larger social circles, sometimes from one or more cultures, and they can also come to the cookbook from an array of print media.” (pages 8-12) Recipe books compiled for personal use also often contain notes on how the recipe turned out, whether an ingredient was substituted, or if the recipe needed to be modified in any other way.
I chose the recipe for Brown Betty from Martin’s cookbook partially because the recipe is seasonally appropriate, and partially because I had heard of but never made the classic dessert before. The Oxford Companion to Food (3 ed.) lists a “brown Betty” as a North American “baked pudding” that first appeared in print in the Yale Literary Magazine of March 1864. The origin of the name remains unknown, although given the capitalization of “Betty” since the first published reference, many have concluded that it refers to a person.
Martin’s recipe calls for: “2 cups bread crumbs, 3 cups chopped apples, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 small teaspoon cinnamon, 2 table spoons butter, cut into small bits.” I made breadcrumbs out of half a loaf of Italian bread – dried out in the oven to remove moisture, cut into small pieces, and then chopped finely in a blender. Since the type of apple isn’t specified and the modern versions of the recipe diverge greatly on apple variety, I chose Cripps Pink Lady apples (swayed by this Bon Appétit piece on the best apples for baking). I followed Martin’s instructions for layering the apples, sugar, and breadcrumbs, with dashes of the cinnamon and the “small bits” of butter thrown in.
Interestingly, the recipe apple Brown Betty has remained mostly unchanged – Keith Stavely and Kathleen Fitzgerald’s America’s Founding Food: The Story of New England Cooking notes that “One early-twentieth-century Brown Betty recipe called for ‘one loaf of stale bread crumbled fine, one-half cupful of milk, and twelve apples. Alternate layers of bread and sliced apples, sugared, buttered, and spiced. Moisten with milk. Bake in a tin pudding-pan for three hours.'” (page 206) Note how similar the ingredients and instructions are to both Jennie Martin’s recipe, and to present-day versions.
Stavely and Fitzgerald also note the popularity of using apples in creating various beverages and dishes in colonial America – the fruit flourished in New England beginning in 1625. Using stale bread and apples possibly gathered from a nearby tree, Brown Betty could be an easy and affordable recipe to make.
Many of the recipes I’ve encountered in our archives do not list oven temperature or baking time (and in any case, the bake time in a modern oven may vary from the historic recipe), and although Martin’s Brown Betty does not specify a temperature, she does note that to bake the dish, you should “cover closely, steam 3/4 of an hour, then uncover + brown quickly.” I took a note from modern versions of the recipe and cooked the Brown Betty with tin foil covering the pan for 45 minutes at 350°, then removed the foil and cooked for an additional 15 minutes.
As Martin notes at the close of her recipe, this Brown Betty is best to “Eat with sugar + cream or sweet sauce. Very good.” All in all, an easy and delicious historic dish!
For this edition of Recipes from the Archives, I made a seasonally- and regionally-appropriate treat – Janet Harris Goldiere’s Corn Pudding, from the Davidson Senior Center’s 1985 printing of The Davidson Cookbook.
Davidson Senior Services (later the Davidson Senior Center), open to all town residents over the age of sixty, began operating in September 1977 in the railroad depot building on Jackson Street. The Center sponsored programs (including an income tax assistance service and a Senior/Student Friendship program), day trips, connected volunteers with seniors, put out a yearly newsletter (Tracks), and published three printings of a cookbook (The Davidson Cookbook). The Center closed in spring 2004, but a variation of the Senior/Student program continues to be operated through the Davidson College Presbyterian Church and the College Civic Engagement Council, now known as the Adopt-a-Grandparent program.
As the Cookbook explains, the community-sourced recipes reflect “the unique quality of life in our town, a hospitable place where the old landmark ‘Depot’ houses a lively program of activities and services of older townspeople through DAVIDSON SENIOR SERVICES, the official sponsor and beneficiary of this cookbook project.”
Janet Harris taught French in public high schools for twelve years, and married Augustin Victor Goldiere (1895 – 1965), a professor of Spanish and French at Davidson College, in 1930. A.V. Goldiere received a B.A. from Dartmouth College and an M.A. and Ph.D. from Yale University. He served in the U.S. Ambulance Service in France during WWI, and first arrived in Davidson in 1922, while working on his graduate degrees. A.V. Goldiere taught at the College for nearly 40 years, until retiring in 1963.
Both Goldieres were very active in the Presbyterian Church; Janet served as the President of the Women of the Church and A.V. was President of the Men of the Church of the Concord Presbytery, and he also served as a deacon and elder of the Davidson College Presbyterian Church. Janet participated in several Davidson community organization – she was a member of the Quadwranglers Wives Club, as well as serving as the vice-president and then president of the Davidson Civic Club in 1930s, when the club motto was “Do Something For Davidson.”
After A.V. Goldiere’s death in 1965, Janet Goldiere remained in Davidson. In 1974, she won the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award for Service to the Community, which each year recognizes a member of the senior class and a member of the community “who have given unselfish service without due recognition” (according to award text from the Davidson College Catalog, 2009 – 2010). At the close of the personal information sheet she submitted to the Davidson Senior Center, Goldiere noted: “Nothing unusual except, perhaps Christmas in Russia with UNC-G and UNC-CH college groups in 1974.”
As further proof of her community spirit, Janet Goldiere served on the Board of Directors for the Davidson Senior Center, and contributed several recipes to The Davidson Cookbook. I chose to make her Corn Pudding – a classic Southern side dish.
I purchased eight ears of sweet corn at the Davidson Farmers Market, and doubled the ingredients in Goldiere’s recipe in order to make more pudding. The recipe is simple – the only area that requires interpretation was the note to “start it at 350° and cut back to 325°” as this doesn’t specify when to lower the heat. I chose to bake the pudding at 350° for the first fifteen minutes, and then reduce the temperature for the remaining 45 minutes. I ended up leaving the pudding in the oven for a few additional minutes, in order to brown the top lightly.
The resulting corn pudding is delicious! The final product is less cake-y or bread-like than some corn puddings, due to the ratio of corn to flour and eggs. This corn pudding really calls for fresh, in-season corn, which is the highlight of the dish. I highly recommend making traditional corn pudding recipes like this one in the summer!
Next up in our Recipes from the Archives series – Jennie Martin’s “Cafe Parfait.” Jennie’s Martin’s recipe comes from the Davidson Civic Club’s Davidson Cook Book (circa 1928), the same volume that contained the Misses Scofield’s Ice Box Pudding #1. The Davidson Civic Club (1911 – 1959; Davidson Civic League from 1952) aimed to promote “a well-kept household and a place for good and pleasant living” in Davidson. The club’s first president was Cornelia Shaw, Davidson College’s first full-time librarian and registrar; the members raised money to establish the first town library, beautify the town, and name town streets.
W.J. Martin, Jr. moved to Davidson in 1870, when his father (William Joseph Martin, Sr., known as “The Colonel”) took up a post as a professor of chemistry (and served as acting College President in 1887 – 1888). After graduating with B.A. (1888) and M.A. (1894) from Davidson, Martin went on to the University of Virginia, where he received M.D. (1890) and Ph.D (1894) degrees. W.J. Martin was a professor of chemistry at Davidson College from 1896 until 1912, when he became College President. After retiring from that post in 1929, Dr. Martin served as President of the Assembly’s Training School (now Union Presbyterian Seminary) in Richmond until 1933. W.J. and Jennie Martin moved to Greensboro, North Carolina, for five years before returning to Davidson in 1939. Jennie Martin had a son from her first marriage, J. Malcomson Rumple, and four children with W.J.: William Joseph Martin III, Eloise Martin Currie, Jean Martin Foil, and Mary Martin Maddox.
Jennie Martin was extremely active in Davidson town life – she was fundamental in founding the Woman’s Book Club of Davidson (Booklover’s Club since 1911) in 1899, and the Young Matrons Club (Twentieth Century Club from 1927 to 1964) in 1922. According to the January 1899 Davidson College Magazine, the Woman’s Book Club was established to be a place for women to discuss the latest books – in fact, “The Magazine warns the learned Ph.D’s. to be on their guard and look to their colors, since the women in their midst intend to be intellectual! As to the Boys!-they simply are not in it.” The Booklover’s Club still exists as a space for women in Davidson to gather and learn together.
Now to Jennie Martin’s Cafe Parfait – this recipe for a cold treat seemed just the thing for summer.
I tripled all the ingredients and added a bit extra coffee, since I was concerned that the flavor wouldn’t come through all the cream. I began by making a sugar or simple syrup, and the coffee I used was Reanimator Coffee’s Guatemala Finca La Pastoria (since I already had a bag on hand). Pro tip: if you don’t constantly stir the egg yolk-sugar syrup-coffee mixture, the eggs will start to separate from the liquids. I borrowed an electric ice cream maker from Jean Coates, our Assistant Director for Access and Acquisitions, for the freezing process – undoubtedly a bit different than what Jennie Martin would have used!
After the ice cream maker had completed its process, I put the resulting ice cream in my freezer overnight. The completed Cafe Parfait is delicious – it tastes a like a sweet cream frozen custard with a hint of coffee. The recipe was very simple to follow, and with the modern addition of an electric ice cream maker, it was also a speedy treat to make.
For our third installment of Recipes from the Archives, I chose Helen Abernethy’s “Oatmeal Crispies (Children love these)” from the 1965 “The Village Cook Book: Recipes from the P.T.A. Pantry, Davidson, North Carolina.”
According to the February 15, 1965 Mecklenburg Gazette, “A group of young Davidson housewives, who are also busily engaged in Parent-Teacher Association work, have begun a determined campaign to raise funds to buy a new 50-star American flag for the Davidson Elementary School auditorium… The proceeds of the cookbook will be used also for a recorder and filmstrips for the school library.” The cookbook cost $1.50, and could be purchased at the Davidson College Store, as well as local shops Cashion’s and P. Nicholls.
Helen McLandress Abernethy (1901 – 1992) was a longtime Davidson resident and prominent community member. Raised in Indianapolis, Helen earned an art degree from the University of Wisconsin in 1923 and an M.A. in arts education from the University of Chicago in 1932. In her obituary, the Mecklenburg Gazette (November 18, 1992) noted that she “worked in ink and oils, she had her own kiln and did beautiful, original work in ceramics and mosaics.” Helen worked as a commercial artist in Chicago and taught art in public schools in Birmingham, Alabama, Champaign, Illinois, and Ann Arbor, Michigan. She founded the art department of Barber-Scotia College in Concord, North Carolina, in 1957 and worked as an associate professor of art at the college until 1964. Her work was exhibited at the Mint Museum, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Barber-Scotia College, and Davidson College.
In 1936, Helen married George Lawrence Abernethy (1910 – 1996), well-known to many Davidsonians as the founder of the College’s Department of Philosophy and as a co-founder of the Humanities program. George Abernethy taught at Davidson from 1946 through 1976, after earning a B.A. at Bucknell University in 1932, an M.A. from Oberlin College in 1933, and a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in 1936. In 1962, George was the first recipient of Davidson’s Thomas Jefferson Award , given to a faculty member who demonstrates “the highest example of personal and scholarly integrity” (Charlotte News, May 15, 1962). Helen and George had two children – Robert John Abernethy and Jean Helen Abernethy Poston. Both Abernethys requested that their memorials be made to Davidson College at the time of their deaths; George to the George Lawrence Abernethy Endowment, and Helen to the Helen Abernethy Art Book Fund.
The recipe Helen Abernethy submitted to the Davidson PTA Cookbook in 1965 is a fairly simple one. I selected it for this blog series because I was intrigued by the title addendum (“Children love these”), and because the crispies sounded delicious.
As an amateur baker, I had to look up what creaming shortening and sugars meant – essentially, using a hand mixer to fluff up the shortening and then slowly adding the sugars in while continuously mixing. I took some liberties with the recipe: I used tin foil instead of wax paper to wrap the cookie dough rolls in (because I don’t have any wax paper at home), and I put the dough rolls in the freezer for roughly 2 hours, instead of into the icebox (read: refrigerator) for an unspecified amount of time. I baked the crispies for roughly 12 minutes per sheet, checking the color every few minutes or so. My batch made about two dozen cookies instead of five – I must have sliced mine considerably thicker than Helen Abernethy would have done.