Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Chrysanthemum and Alabama Football

UA's 1946 Homecoming Queen Jeanene
Vines and her escort John Hunter.
The chrysanthemum was introduced from Japan to the United States in the 1890s, just as gridiron football was gaining popularity as a sport among the college-eduted elite. The six-week autumnal blooming phase of the early varieties coincided with the brief football season of the era and became a sensation among affluent football fans who could afford them.

In fact, beginning in 1894 the University of Alabama yearbook denoted the white chrysanthemum as the school flower. Football had arrived at the school just two years prior and the association between the two were inevitable. The popularity of the flower was such that it was just as common for men to wear them as women.
A UA homecoming float in the mid 60s.

The rage for the flower among football fans faded by the turn of the century, and by that time they had become primarily a decoration for women's corsages. Still, by that time the chrysanthemum had become indelibly associated with football. When homecoming games were introduced at Alabama in 1920, the flower was an obvious connection with the earlier era of football and have continued to do so ever since.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Rammer Jammer: Rose Bowl Number

As the Alabama football team prepared to travel to California to play Stanford in the 1935 Rose Bowl against Stanford, the school's humor magazine, Rammer Jammer, published a football-themed issue to commemorate the occasion (Vol 12, No. 3; Dec. 1934). 

Filled with bawdy humor and bad jokes and campus gossip ("Endplaying Paul Bryant thinks occasionally of one Rosa Brooks, who, it has been said, thinks that 'Bear is so cute.'") the book also features an extended and decidedly irreverent take on team an their trip west. A good example is the suggested list of reasons to attend the contest in California.
(For Personal Use)
  1. To get drunk.
  2. To eyeball the sweet jobs of the Sunshine state.
  3. To be qualified to take an active part in fireside ox casting for the ensuing years.
  4. To see the game (recommended for coaches, sports writers, photographers, etc.)