Monday, July 17, 2017

Beating the Heat at Yum Yum

Nothing helps you get through the hot and humid summer quite like a tasty ice cream cone from Yum Yum! At UNCG, for over 90 years, students, faculty, and staff have been able to beat the heat with a tasty cone from the Yum Yum ice cream shop.

The original site of Yum Yum, with construction
on the Jackson Library tower in the background, 1973
This campus tradition dates back to 1921, when Wisdom Brown (W. B.) Aydelette opened his now-famous ice cream shop on the corner of Spring Garden Street and Forest Avenue. It sat at the edge of the campus then known as the North Carolina College for Women (now UNCG). Because the site what on the western edge of the Greensboro city limits at the time, the store was named West End Ice Cream Company.

At first, there were only a few flavors of homemade ice cream offered -- vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry. But soon, the owner introduced a flavor he called "yum yum," an ice cream that is believed to have included soggy Grape Nuts cereal. According to popular tales, the flavor itself was never very popular, but the name was soon adopted for the store itself (although the formal "West End Ice Cream Company" remains).

Students at the Woman's College (as UNCG was known from 1932-1963) flocked to Yum Yum for its food as well as its atmosphere. In a 1994 interview with the Carolinian, alumnae Sharon Garrett remembered Yum Yum as a place to relax and escape from the restrictive residence hall lifestyle of the 1960s. "When we were there," she noted, "it represented some sort of freedom and just being together with your friends. It was like a breath of fresh air."

Yum Yum at its current location, 2002
In 1973, the building that housed Yum Yum was condemned and scheduled to be replaced with a new administration building (now the Mossman Building) for the expanding UNCG campus. Aydelette was able to acquire a building on the opposite corner across Spring Garden from his former site, and moved his operations across the street.

Aydelette passed away in 1984 at the age of 97, but his family continues his legacy today.

Monday, July 10, 2017

“A Noble Idea:” The History of Peabody Park (Part Three)

Have you ever wondered how and why UNCG has such a beautiful green space on the northern edge of its campus?  Well, the founding and development of Peabody Park is a fascinating story that reflects UNCG’s overall growth as a center of higher learning and a Greensboro neighbor.  Given the complexity of the story, the Park’s history is being told in three Spartan Story installments.  The third and final installment, July 2017, examines the evolution of the Park over the past twenty-five years.  The blog post will consider competing visions of the Park’s intended use that range from a nature preserve, to a sanctuary for quiet reflection, to an outdoor classroom, to space for physical fitness and education, and to an area for University expansion.

So, we pick up the Peabody Park story at the end of the 20th century.  With the projected growth of the school’s student body in the 1990s, University administrators evaluated the infrastructure that was required to support an expanding campus population.  The University’s assessment of its facilities led to the development of a Master Plan.  The Plan considered such challenges as the building of new dormitories, new classrooms, new parking lots, as well as the renovation of existing buildings to meet changing teaching and learning needs.

Discussions about the future growth (and needs) of the UNCG student body population were reported widely in the school’s student newspaper and in the local Greensboro press.  As one of the few remaining open spaces on campus, school administrators did consider Peabody Park as a possible area of future development.  As planning for the University’s Master Plan advanced, there were several articles published in the local newspaper expressing concern about the possible loss of campus green spaces.
In 1994, the University’s Board of Trustees considered several campus sites for the building of a new School of Music building.  The University’s Chancellor William Moran and his staff had proposed constructing the new music building on Tate Street between the Weatherspoon Art Museum and the Norfolk Southern Railroad tracks.  However, the University’s Board of Trustees rejected this proposed building location.  At its February 10, 1994 meeting, the Board proposed to locate the building at the corner of West Market and McIver Streets.  It is in the northeast section of campus.  The Board felt that this location would better showcase the new $23.4 million dollar building and give the University a more visible presence on busy West Market Street.

As news of the decision to locate the School of Music Building in Peabody Park spread, a number of students and faculty expressed some misgivings about this proposed plan.  Their concerns ranged from the possible environmental impact on the wooded area, to access and safety concerns, as well as to upholding the vision of the Park’s founders.  In an effort to address these concerns, the University’s Board of Trustees in December 1994 issued a statement on the location of and planning for the School of Music Building.  In the document, the Board noted that the new music building would become “the anchor to development in the northeast corner of campus.”  The Board also stated that they were confident that this new location was in the best long-term interests of the University.  The Board went on to address two specific concerns that had been raised by UNCG community members.  The first concern was that there might be restrictions on the use and development of the land.  The area is part of a 112 acre tract that was purchased back in 1895.  The University Counsel reviewed the original purchase and concluded that there were “no restrictions in the deed limiting development of the area.”   The second concern was the preservation of the wooded area just west of the proposed Music Building.  In reviewing the school’s archival records, it was concluded that President Charles Duncan McIver’s original vision was to develop a park on a portion of the 112 acre tract.  The Board of Trustees reaffirmed its intention to “develop a safe and useful natural park area.”  The Board also stated that it was in the process of reviewing plans to “enhance” the park area and to retain as many of the mature trees as possible.
For some members of the UNCG community, this statement did not fully address their concerns about campus growth and its impact on Peabody Park.  Indeed, a student group organized and circulated a petition against the proposed site.  The organizers’ central contention was that the development of this fragile and diverse wooded area was environmentally wrong.  Moreover, they argued that it violated a 1901 “agreement” between President McIver and donor George Peabody.   
At a February 1995 Board of Trustees meeting, a number of students staged a peaceful demonstration and temporarily stopped the meeting by holding up signs and beating a drum.  Some students even wore gags to protest the lack of dialog.  The Board Chair informed the students that they had no plans to discuss the building at this particular meeting.  The protesters circled the meeting table and handed out a “statement of protest” to each Board member.  Chancellor Patricia Sullivan asked students to finish passing out their literature so the meeting could continue.  The protestors were invited to stay if they remained quiet.  They were eventually escorted out of the meeting.  Protests against this plan continued into the spring.  In March 1995, the student-run Environmental Awareness Foundation held a rally against the West Market Street project.  On a beautiful spring day, 75 students turned out for the rally.  Student opposition continued with news that a parking deck would be constructed next to the new School of Music building.  At the April 1997 groundbreaking ceremony for the West Market Street project, students from the Environmental Awareness Foundation held a silent protest. 
In an effort to respond to UNCG community concerns about proposed development and support campus dialog, Chancellor Patricia Sullivan formed the Peabody Park Committee in 1997.  The Committee’s charge was to help maintain and restore the Park’s woods.  The Committee played an active role in advocating for the protection of the wooded area as well as supporting educational uses of the Park.  In 2001, members of the UNCG community again raised concerns about the Master Plan and the idea of building a new residence hall in Peabody Park.  This campus-wide discussion of future development helped to elevate a discussion of the environmental richness and diversity of the flora and fauna in the Park.
In 2014, the Research and Instruction in STEM Education network began a discussion of the teaching value of Peabody Park and the idea of introducing wetlands to the campus.  A wetlands exploratory committee was formed to consider the feasibility of such a project.  UNCG faculty and students as well as members of the Peabody Park Committee joined this new group to consider location and possible educational programming for both the UNCG and Greensboro communities.  In 2016, the Wetlands Committee identified two sites in Peabody Park (south of the golf course and a site near Market Street) to serve as wetlands.  In March 2017, the two wetland sites were constructed to improve water quality, address run-off from athletic fields, as well as support biotic diversity with the use of native wetland plants.  The 2017 project both recognizes the importance of green spaces and ensures the long-term health of Peabody Park.  Moreover, it also embraces Charles Duncan McIver’s original vision of an “education park.”

Monday, July 3, 2017

Viola Boddie: Belle of the Early Faculty

A native of North Carolina, Viola Boddie (1864 – 1940) was a charter faculty member of the North Carolina State Normal and Industrial School (now the University of North Carolina at Greensboro). Graduating at the top of her class at Peabody Teachers College in Nashville, Tennessee, her diverse teaching experience gave her a deep understanding of the poor conditions of education in North Carolina. Miss Boddie traversed the state in an open carriage pulled by a mule, exploring country school houses that had such wide gaps between the log construction that you could “throw a cat through, if not a dog.”i  Considered a pioneer of early women’s education, she worked with “early radicals,” Charles Duncan McIver and Edward Alderman to open State Normal and Industrial School, the first public college for women in North Carolina.

Miss Viola Boddie
At the age of 25, she accepted the position of head of the Department of Latin at State Normal – a title she would hold for the next 43 years. Miss Boddie seemed a very romantic figure to the young women in her charge. They found her beautiful and her mode of dress very stylish. Her students knew that she had turned away many gentleman callers, and they even imagined she might even be in love with President McIver.ii In the early years, Miss Boddie hosted parties for her students and was known for her love of flowers, which she always kept in her classroom. Her graciousness, wit, and interest in world affairs, made her a very popular teacher, but she tended to be more reserved than some of her colleagues and was considered a taskmaster who broached no nonsense in her classroom. 

A Faculty Outing with Miss Boddie (top left), Dr. McIver, Miss Petty, and Miss Mendenhall

Until 1914, Latin was required to gain an A.B. degree at the college; therefore, for almost half of the registered students, the coursework was mandatory. By 1919, Latin became an elective and enrollment dropped substantially. Although Miss Boddie blamed the falling numbers on the elective system, others believed that the drop reflected the professor’s increasingly harsh, sarcastic manner and “fearsome disposition.” Her popularity began to wane and she was relieved of her dormitory duties in 1918. She began to be viewed as “behind the times” by both the administration and the students. As the college grew in both size and viewpoints, many felt that restrictions on student privileges should be loosened, yet Miss Boddie led the charge to keep the more traditional values of the school’s early years. Additionally, she was not inclined to collaborate with other campus departments, believing in such cases, there was a “danger of the big fishes devouring the little fishes whenever departments were asked to work in tandem.”iii 

The Always Fashionable Miss Boddie
Eventually, there was talk of replacing her; yet, Miss Boddie was not going to make it easy for administration to do so. In 1926, when a new teacher, Marie Deneen, was hired to teach Latin, Miss Boddie used her position as head of the department to block college credit for the new professor’s classes. As the years went by, the Latin Department had progressively fewer students, reflecting both a national trend and Miss Boddie’s increasingly contentious personality. By 1934, she agreed to partial retirement, only teaching one course, and took permanent retirement the next year. Soon after, the Latin Department was folded into the new Department of Classical Civilization, headed by Dr. Charlton Jernigan, a dynamic young professor from Duke University. Miss Boddie passed away in 1940 and was buried in Nashville.

i Greensboro News, October 11, 1925
ii Trelease, Allen W. Making North Carolina Literate: The University of North Carolina at Greensboro from Normal School to Metropolitan University. (2004)
iii Ibid.

Monday, June 26, 2017

WC Theatre's International Tour: Taking the Pajama Game Overseas

From October 21 through December 3, 1962, the Woman's College Theatre participated in a series of college student productions that toured overseas Army, Navy, and Air Force installations and provided free entertainment for servicemen and their families. WC was one of 29 American colleges and universities participating in the tour, which was sponsored by the USO (United Service Organizations) along with AETA (American Educational Theater Association).

The WC Theatre chose the musical "The Pajama Game" as its performance for touring. Based on the novel 7 1/2 Cents by Richard Bissell, "The Pajama Game" tells the tales of individuals working in a pajama factory. The WC company was assigned a six-week route throughout the Northeast Command area, which included Greenland, Labrador, Newfoundland, and Iceland. The route, which covered nearly 12,000 miles, included a performance at Thule, Greenland, approximately 500 miles away from the North Pole. 

Competition to join the touring group was fierce, and students were required to not only perform but also serve as production technicians. Selection was limited to juniors and seniors due to "the sophisticated nature of the clubs which the Company would frequent during the tour." Only drama majors, members of the student drama organization The Masqueraders, or former performers in WC productions were allowed to audition. Additionally "because of the arctic climate, students free of allergies and of proven physical stamina were chosen." Eleven WC students were selected to be part of the touring company. Five students from UNC Chapel Hill and one from Greensboro College also joined the company to take on the male roles.

The lead female role of Babe in "The Pajama Game" was played by WC senior Shirley Bosta of Hampton, Virginia. The performance notes describe her as "a fiery red head with an even temperament," and adds that "she is the only Woman's College student ever to have two leading roles in musical comedies."

Student selected to join the company were required to enroll in a special nine-hour drama course entitled "Woman's College Theatre North Atlantic Tour." In addition to this nine-hour course, various departments having student majors participating in the tour arranged for the students to take an additional three hours during the early part of the semester, before the touring began. For example, Drama and Speech Department majors took a course in playwrighting. English majors did special honors work. Additionally, a special seminar room in the College Library was reserved for students to read books on "the arts and crafts, people, history, and geography" of the areas they would be visiting.

Of the 31 performances in the tour, 11 were to full houses with most of those including standees. Attendance at the others was near capacity. In his final report on the tour, Herman Middleton, head of WC's Department of Drama and Speech and director of the touring production, noted that the bulk of the audiences consisted of young enlisted men between the ages of 18 and 25. The audience was enthusiastic with "many flash photographs and movies made during performances."

This successful overseas tour of "The Pajama Game" was actually the second time WC was asked to perform as part of the USO-AETA tour. In the summer of 1959, WC Theatre was the first college theater in the south to be selected for tour. They traveled to Japan, the Philippines, South Korea, and Hawaii to perform Clare Boothe's comedy "The Women." In 1966, after WC transitioned to UNCG, a group once again participated with a touring production of "L'il Abner."