The Best of War Eagle Relics: 2012

 

When I started this post way back in late April I figured I would be lucky to get beyond a couple installments. Thirty-plus posts and hundreds of unique and interesting items later, I think it’s fair to say my expectations were exceeded. Just a bit.

As the months went on and real life responsibilities got in the way, the posts became a little less frequent and, as a result, the stream of submissions began to dry up a bit. While I still have a few good pieces waiting to be used, War Eagle Relics is not likely to become a regular weekly feature again anytime soon. I will still gladly accept any and all items that people would still like to send me, but I’ll have to ask for your patience in getting them out.

Before signing off for the year, I’d like to once again thank each and every person who sent me their treasures and their memories these past several months. I really started to have a hard time coming up with superlatives for all the amazing things I got to share each week. Thanks also to everyone who read my ramblings each week and sent words of encouragement or provided comments to the posts. This little project has been a whole lot of fun for me and I appreciate you all making it possible.

Now, on to the reason you likely clicked on this post in the first place. Below is my completely subjective, personal list of favorites from the year. I’ve narrowed it down to ten because that’s how these year-end lists are supposed to go, I think, but I had to cut some items I truly loved in order to come in at that number. I tried to rank them, but that proved impossible, so they appear in chronological order from earliest posted to most recent. I also considered justifying each pick, but they all would say some variation of “I love this because it is really cool” and you don’t need to read that ten times any more than I need to write it.

Original “War Eagle” Sheet Music (1955) from War Eagle Relics strikes up the band:

“I meant to send this to Jeremy a long time ago, but almost forgot till I saw your article. I found this in a piano bench at my great grandparents’ house; “War Eagle” A New Song For Auburn, Circa 1955. So glad you are helping bring some of these treasures to light. War Eagle.”

- Ben Griffiths ’08

This sheet music dates back to the year the Auburn fight song that still fills our stadiums and arenas (and hearts) today was first written and performed. I can read music about as well as Alabama fans count National Championships, but I love the direction to play the song “With Spirit.” Also worth noting is the lyrics to the Alma Mater on the bottom left of the top photo. These are the original lyrics for the song when the school was still API. The song was revised to account for the school’s name change in 1960. And Ben, as long as there are people like you willing to share treasures like this for us to bring to light, we will gladly continue to do so.

Six Finger Foam Hand (2007) from War Eagle Relics goes streaking:

“This was an idea a former Auburn roommate and I came up with during the streak. We had these 6 finger foam hands made up, with the score of the Bama game on each finger for each year of the streak. We set up a website, www.sixfingeryear.com, to sell them. We also sold them at Alumni Club Kickoff Rallies in Montgomery, Atlanta, and Birmingham. We sent one to Scott Van Pelt of ESPN, who stuck it up on his mic stand during his TV show. We had a friend take one to China and pose with it in various places for pictures. We gave some to Tommy Tuberville (our inspiration for the idea) at the Birmingham club kickoff, and he autographed a couple for us. We actually gave one to President Gogue at the Atlanta club kickoff rally. We were selling some, not a ton, but having a great time.

Then came “the letter.” We got sued by the University for using “Auburn” and “War Eagle.” Big mistake, because I think they would’ve been fine without that. Everybody (except the alums at the Atlanta club kickoff, who only worry about the Georgia game) knew what it was all about. Anyway, we had to cease and desist. We (actually my roommate) went to court and fought, but you know how that came out. No damages were awarded, but it put an end to the business (well, along with the debacle in Tuscaloosa during the 2008 season).”

- The Six (Foam) Fingered Man (who would prefer to remain anonymous)

When the pictures of these six-fingered foam hands showed up in my inbox it brought back great memories of that wonderful run from 2002 to 2007 that was among the greatest ever to be an Auburn fan. Great players (Cadillac Williams, Ronnie Brown, Karlos Dansby, Junior Rosegreen, and on and on…) and great seasons were major reasons, but those have never been in short supply on The Plains. “The Streak,” the six straight victories over Alabama, was something we had never experienced before.  I don’t care that they were “down” after probation or that they had inept coaching (typical excuses)—it was a glorious run. I understand the university protecting its copyrights, but you have to know deep down the higher ups got a good chuckle out of the idea. At least Aubie and Tommy Tuberville appeared to enjoy them.

“Weagle” Helmet Sticker (Late 1970’s) from War Eagle Relics raises the Bar(field) on fashion

-       Anonymous

I’m neither pro- nor anti-helmet stickers. I like them for certain schools (I begrudgingly acknowledge that I like Georgia’s bones and Clemson’s paws), but I’m glad Auburn doesn’t use them anymore. I like the clean simplicity of our helmet and don’t want anything else cluttering it up. That said, these old helmet stickers are nice. I never even knew these existed until Jeremy featured the cover of the program from the 1980 Tennessee game a few weeks ago and someone commented that they were called “weagles.” I considered cropping down to focus on the weagle by itself, but I like seeing the other WEGL (the campus radio station) sticker above it as well as the slight glimpse of the possibly-soon-to-be-reborn Birmingham Stallions sticker.

Picture of Auburn Football Team (early 1900′s) from War Eagle Relics goes Old School

“My Grandmother (who is 95 and still going strong) found this picture in an old trunk that belonged to her mother about 17 years ago. This is a picture of one of the early 1900′s Auburn football teams. I have no idea which year this is supposed to be or who the coach is or who is who in the picture. What I do know is that one or two of the guys on the team were cousins of my Great-Grandmother. I’m not sure of their names but their last name might have been either Franklin or Higdon. They would have been from a small town in southwest Alabama in or around Escambia County, possibly around Atmore. The story that my Grandmother knows is that her mother had two cousins who went to Auburn in the early 1900′s for a degree in Agriculture and they started playing on the football team while in school. When their daddy found out they were playing football, he made them quit playing because he sent them up to Auburn to get an education and not play games. If anybody could identify the year and coach and possibly roster, that would be amazing. Thanks and War Eagle!”

-       Will Luker/@wluker17

I doubt that we will get a relic more deserving of that designation than this old photo. The story that accompanies it is why I love doing this so much. If anyone is up to Will’s challenge of finding a year/roster for this picture, please post in the comments below or shoot me an email.

Football Media Guide (1971) from Let War Eagle Relics be your guide:

“This is a 1971 Auburn Football media guide.  I bought this at a memorabilia auction a few years back and was drawn to the picture on the cover of Terry Beasley, Shug Jordan, and Pat Sullivan. I especially dig the white tie, blue shirt, and orange sweater worn by Shug.”

-       Kelly Benefield

This is one of my favorite still shots in Auburn football history. Shug looks especially dapper in an outfit that I hope to wear when I hit my late ‘60s and can maybe pull off the orange cardigan. Pat Sullivan, poised to begin his Heisman winning season, seems to be mind-melding with his favorite target. Terry Beasley, poised to begin his co-Heisman winning season (unofficially), proudly displays his single-bar facemask and bright red mane. It’s perfect. And that’s not even getting into the see-through jerseys or Sullivan’s awesome orange hip pads. Only thing I don’t get about the cover is the use of yellow on the bottom third, but I guess everything can’t be orange and blue.

Auburn Scoreboard Letters from War Eagle Relics lights up the scoreboard:

“I was a student at Auburn when the first real jumbotron went up.  I asked a friend who worked for Facilities if he could snag me a part of the old scoreboard after it came down.  A few months later, he pulled these out of the trunk of his car.  The day before the 2010 National Championship game, I decided it was time to properly display them on my roof.  They were briefly covered up by the big snow that fell that night, but after brushing them off, the snow made them stand out even more.  A picture of the snow-bound letters made it onto the front of al.com for a few hours before the game.  My west coast and UA neighbors were not thrilled.  My brothers have made me promise that these will stay in the family forever.  

For reference, I’ve included a picture from the 1997 AU/Bama game, when these letters were last used. Thanks for all you do with TWER.  It’s a great source of AU nostalgia!”

-       Dan Brooks

There are rare, hard to find Auburn relics and then there are truly one of a kind, no one else has it and no one else ever will Auburn relics. This is the latter. Proving that life is mostly about timing and who you know, Dan scored a treasure that will hopefully be passed down through his family for generations.

I remember that old scoreboard well and was in the stadium for that final game against Alabama. “W.I.N.” was the acronym for Bowden’s catch phrase for the ’97 season: “Whatever is Necessary.” It’s not as punchy as say, “AUdacity” or “AttitUde,” but it was the only one of his slogans to make it all the way to Atlanta.

For a much more in-depth look at Auburn’s scoreboard history, check out part II of Van Allen Plexico’s fantastically comprehensive History of Jordan-Hare Stadium.  In it, Van details the installation of this scoreboard and the ones that followed, including the new HD board that arrived in 2007. Now, if anyone knows what happened to those two pouncing tigers, I’d love to hear from you.

Official Auburn Cotton Bowl Athletic Supporter (1986) from War Eagle Relics airs its dirty laundry:

“In 1985 I knew a young lady that worked as an equipment manager for the football team. I tried in vain to get her to acquire a real game jersey for me. Apparently the athletic department frowned on such acts of generosity even to the most devoted Tiger fans. As a substitute she did manage to procure one of the official Cotton Bowl jockstraps that all of the players were to be issued for the upcoming bowl trip. Sadly, the game was a major disappointment but at least I have an Auburn souvenir that few others have or, most likely, would even want! My wife thinks I am crazy for sending this picture. She may be right!”

-       Ben

Before sending this to me, Ben asked if it would even be something I would want to use. He worried it might be in poor taste. If it is and you are offended by the sight of a football player’s undergarments, I most sincerely apologize. Personally, I could not reply fast enough with an emphatic YES PLEASE SEND IT NOW. I could look through photos of old Auburn T-shirts and schedule posters all day and be perfectly content, but something as rare as this had to be shared. Even better, this bit of laundry from an otherwise forgettable 36-16 Cotton Bowl loss to Texas A&M, came to us courtesy of Tiger Laundry, (FREE PLUG: Tiger Laundry is a service that provides pickup and delivery to Auburn students for their bulk laundry and dry cleaning needs. It is available directly to all Residence Halls, and to select off-campus Greek houses. I would have totally used them when I was a student.) It’s as if Ben’s future was determined forever on the day he received this gift.  He and his wife also run Sydney’s Vintage Clothing, a vintage clothing store on Gay Street which may not specialize in Auburn relics but is still a spiritual partner in preserving the past.

Auburn Puppet (‘80s) from War Eagle Relics, Master of Puppets:

“The puppet is from the early 1980′s. My grandfather gave it to me. I have no idea where it he got it nor have I ever seen another one like it.”

-       @lulupuppydog

I’ve never seen an Auburn puppet like this, but I had the exact same thing in South Carolina Gamecock colors as a little kid, though mine didn’t have a facemask and the pennant eventually ripped off. It had two triggers on the back that made the puppet punch out his arms when you pressed them.  It was supposed to be a cheer but it always looked more like a bare knuckle boxer. Maybe it’s the nostalgia of seeing a familiar item in the colors of my beloved alma mater, but this is now one of my favorite relics yet.

Shug Jordan Roast Mini-Jersey (1976) from War Eagle Relics enjoys Shug’s Roast:

“So this year stinks…so be it. War Eagle Relics will help us make it through. Apparently there was a Roast of Coach Jordan on May 21st, 1976. I haven’t found any information about this event except for this mini-jersey. Looks like it was a fundraiser to fight M.S.”

-       @lulupuppydog

I’m glad that frequent contributor @lulupuppydog feels like this humble post can help ease the pain of a rough season, but it is he and those like him who have provided me with a measure of comfort by continuing to send me treasures from the glorious history of our great school. This mini-jersey is up there with the best items he has provided in the past.  Love the picture of Shug in his Auburn jacket, but the sleeve stripes really make this thing work.

According to an article in The Tuscaloosa News (sorry, it was the only source I could find – but check out that Shasta ad), the roast of Coach Jordan was indeed a fundraiser for Multiple Sclerosis held at Koehler Plaza in Birmingham. Those giving Shug the business that night included such Auburn luminaries as former AD Jeff Beard and former players Tucker Frederickson, Pat Sullivan and Terry Henley. The best name on the program belonged to an Alabama assistant coach (who invited him?) with the handle Dude Hennessey and there was even a national champion water skier, an Auburn grad, delivering zingers. I’d love to hear the material the roasters used that evening. Shug’s keen fashion sense? His propensity for being photographed smoking? His grandfatherly charm? How do you skewer the seemingly un-skewerable? Whatever it was they hurled at him, there’s probably not much a man who stormed the beaches of Normandy and reached the highest levels of his profession upon his return couldn’t easily laugh off.

Auburn Postcard (1908) from War Eagle Relics sends a postcard from the edge:

“I’m a Bama fan and collector, but I came across this about 20 years ago at an antique shop in Birmingham.  I thought you and your readers might enjoy it.  It’s an Auburn football postcard from right after the 1908 season and it’s postmarked January 8, 1909.”

-       Alan Weaver

Sometimes inspiration comes from the most unexpected places. I started trying to pull together a post for this week the other night, but was missing that final something to really pull it together. That something came this morning when I received the above postcard from a self-confessed Alabama fan. 1908! Now that is a relic. The 1908 Auburn football team finished the season 6-1, with every win coming via shutout, giving some merit to the postcard’s “Champions of [the] South” claim.

I really hope our generous contributor doesn’t get too much grief from his Crimson clad compatriots for aiding and abetting the enemy. In this season of our discontent, any gesture of goodwill is gladly accepted.

For past posts, click here. Thanks as always to our truly valued contributors. I hope to keep this up when time permits, but I need your help to do so.  Snap a pic of your best Auburn collectables and send it to me at [email protected] so that I may share them with the Auburn world.

Keep Reading:

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