Lillian Carter, Jimmy Carter’s mom, was a big Auburn fan

Continuing in our fun-time, bipartisan election season-inspired look at past politicking on the Plains (see Ted Kennedy and a stuffed Auburn Tiger here, the colorful Auburn student reaction to the Iran hostage crisis here, George Wallace trading insults with hippies here), here’s Lillian Carter reading “War Eagle,” Clyde Bolton’s 1973 history of Auburn football, during son Jimmy’s presidential campaign.

Mrs. Lillian was the Kappa Alpha house mother from 1956 to 1962–just for kicks. She spent her $125 a month salary on extra ping-pong balls for the boys whom she let pack into her blue Cadillac (alongside her) for football road trips to Birmingham.

From a 1975 issue (not sure the exact date) of the Birmingham News:

Miss Lilly is said to have never missed a victory celebration at Toomer’s corner following a football game if she could help it and if she noticed a sudden drop in the toilet paper on hand an an increase in the streamers hanging from the overhead utility wires there she forgot to mention it.

(Forgot to mention it—to the interviewer? Or is that a way of saying she saw no Kappa Alpha evil? Either way, given our Toomer’s tradition timeline, it lends itself to the theory that rolling Toomer’s began simply as Auburn getting its frat on after football wins, not as a modern interpretation of some apocryphal ancient custom of hanging the telegrammed scores of away games on the Toomer’s Oaks [which hadn’t even been planted yet] as a way to broadcast football victories to the townsfolk.)

In that same story, she says she gave up housemotherin’ because she “had about gone the limit” in terms of the stress and insomnia that comes with living in a frat house.

“I had got to the point where my nerves were on edge and I was so tired.”

So why did she put in for a housemother gig at Florida State as as soon as she resigned from Auburn?

We may never know.

A couple of years later she joined the Peace Corps.

Letter: AU Archives.

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