Your Auburn Dads
Last week, with Father’s Day on the horizon, I asked for your favorite Auburn-related memories that included your dad, and you definitely delivered. I had planned on picking a few to post, but all were too awesome to leave out. That means this post is going to be long, very long, but it’s worth it. If you love Auburn, read them all.
These were so good that it’s given me an idea that hopefully will come to fruition in the next year. Stay tuned, and thanks again to all that took the time to tell me about your dads. If you have a story to tell, please feel free to send it in and I’ll add it to this post.
“My father (John Sharp, Class of 1949, Forestry-right in photo) won the beard growing contest one year while at Auburn! The annual contest was held by the Forestry Department. He also wore his Auburn belt for years until it finally broke. I remember fearing that belt! Today, It belongs to my daughter, Casey Page, Class of 2009! As my father would say, Auburn gave him something that no one could take from him! An education! War Damn Eagle, Daddy!” –Pam Sharp Cray
“The week after the AU men’s basketball team lost to Syracuse in the NCAA Tournament in 2002 or 2003, my Dad happened to be on campus at Auburn. He graduated in ’72 and was a Lifetime member of the Alumni Assoc. He passed a young man who was wearing a Syracuse hat so he stopped him and asked him what he was doing wearing it? The guy kinda laughed and said it’s not because of the basketball game, he attended Syracuse before he came to Auburn. To which Dad replied, “Hell I attended kindergarten before I came to Auburn but you don’t see me wearing a kindergarten hat!” The guy removed the hat.” –Drue Knowles
“In 1936, my dad completed his studies at East Mississippi Junior College in Scuba, Mississippi and was accepted to the University of Alabama to compete his college education. He arrived in Tuscaloosa with the letters documenting his acceptance to Alabama, his financial aid acknowledgement, and his work-study job confirmation with the University. When he arrived at the University of Alabama Admissions Office, he was informed that his financial aid and his job would not be available to him. The promises made by Alabama in the letters were not to be honored. My dad felt betrayed.
So, he caught a bus to Auburn. He explained his plight to the Alabama Polytechnic Institute (Auburn) Admissions Office. Before the day was over, he had been accepted to attend API (Auburn), he had a job in the athletic department, and he had an academic scholarship (provided that he major in Agriculture Education, which he did). My dad felt redeemed.
While at API (Auburn), my dad became acquainted with Shug Jordan, who was the basketball coach and freshman football coach. He was also acquainted with Dr. George Petrie, who was Dean of the Graduate school, Auburn’s first football coach, and author of the Auburn Creed. My dad became friends with several athletes including Joel Eaves, Billy Hitchcock, Walter Gilbert, and others. He even took one chemistry class under Dr. Clifford Hare (namesake of Jordan-Hare Stadium).
My dad became the first member of his family to attend college. After college, he worked for a few years as a county agent, helping farmers. He later sold insurance, primarily to farmers. He was extremely proud that Auburn trained young students in the science of agriculture.
He never forgot his betrayal at the hands of Alabama. He always remembered the warm reception and the redemption that he found at API (Auburn).” –Merideth Akers
“My dad is… ::whisper:: a Bammer. Yes, I was raised as an Alabama fan in an Alabama house my whole life. I had never been to Auburn. I grew up singing “Yay Alabama” and wearing crimson.
During my senior year of high school, my best friend, Jennifer, wanted me to go with her to Auburn to visit the campus, as she was considering attending AU. My car was in better condition for the trip than hers and our absence would be excused from school. I agreed to go. We arrived and I thought, “this place is so much better than Tuscaloosa!” We got out of the car to go meet our campus tour leader and people started saying “Hey” to us. “Man, this place is so much friendlier than Tuscaloosa!” I thought to myself. (I later found out we came on Hey Day–nonetheless, people were friendly and smiling and a day where you are encouraged to be friendly is just fine with me). I enjoyed everything about Auburn that day–the college and the town. I told Jennifer I thought maybe I was wrong for not considering Auburn, but how could I tell my dad? I finally mustered up the courage and told him about the trip and how nice everyone was, how clean everything is…and I told him I thought I wanted to attend Auburn. His brow furrowed. “Are you serious?” he asked. I applied for some scholarships at Auburn (didn’t get any) and turned down the scholarship I had at Alabama (much to dad’s chagrin). My dad told me that if this is where I wanted to go and if I thought I would be happy here, I could go to Auburn because it was a good school.
He moved me in before sorority rush week in September 1999 (to live with my best friend Jennifer in Knapp Hall), he paid for every semester, paid my sorority dues, gave me gas and food money…he even came to a game and sat with me in the Student Section a couple of times! He proudly tells people that I graduated from Auburn in three years and what a great time I had here and that he is proud of the education I received. Even though I couldn’t get him to switch allegiance like I did, we attend the Iron Bowl game together each year and enjoy a friendly rivalry. He may not be an “Auburn Dad” but I think he deserves some honorary recognition.“ –Stephanie Pollard
“I have a stockpile of Auburn memories with my dad. He and I are both BIG Auburn fans. He came with me when I toured the campus before I came, he came to Camp War Eagle with me, and we are usually either together or in near-constant contact during football games and any baseball games I’m lucky enough to attend. He’s possibly the smartest man I know. He’s also possibly the corniest person I know, and he always has all sorts of ridiculous things to say.
From that stash of corny, ridiculous things to say comes one of my favorite Auburn-related memories of him. We were in Florida over the Memorial Day weekend. My dad and I were talking to the man that runs the pool-maintenance program at Edgewater (our favorite haunt in PCB) and the subject somehow got around to Auburn football. Jokingly, Mr. Rick asked if our mad, rumor-filled, heart-attack-inducing season had affected our feelings towards AU. My dad looked at him, waggled his bushy black eyebrows, and said, grinning, “Naw, man, can’t you see? I’m orange and blue from my head” – he pointed at his favorite blue AU baseball cap, sitting on his head – “to my feet” – and pointed at his feet, which were encased in nothing other than a pair of faded blue Auburn Crocs.
If you’re ever in PCB and see an old guy with mostly-pepper hair, walking around in a well-loved (read: battered) pair of Auburn Crocs, say hello, and ask him about his shoes. He’ll be more than happy to tell you all about them.” –Caiti
“My stepdad Merideth Akers is such a wonderful Auburn man, and he buys season tickets for his whole family every season! He’s so selfless and giving, and never asks for anything. He also tries to take everyone in our family on at least one away game a year if possible, paying for tickets, hotel rooms, food, and everything else! He’s so awesome and I love him very much! :)” –Meg Branch
“When I was a little girl, I sang the Auburn fight song for show and tell, dressed as an Auburn cheerleader for Halloween, and got upset when said Halloween costume was more of the LSU-purple than AU-blue. And one day, I asked my father, “When are we going to win the National Championship?”
“Don’t count on it,” he simply told me. And so I didn’t.
My AU alum parents found work outside of Alabama in Houston, Texas. I’ve never been to a game at Plainsman Park, never had a glass of Toomer’s lemonade, and never even stepped inside of Jordan-Hare Stadium. For most of my childhood, I kept up only with AU football in the fall. My Dad taught me how to follow the games on the radio during seasons with few televised games. I’d sit and listen to him call his Dad after every game, just soaking their conversations in. Grandpa would come watch bowl games with us the years we were able to earn one, and when we were lucky enough to have him down. That’s just how it was for years.
This past January, however, wasn’t only special because Auburn stunned a nation of nay-sayers by winning the National Championship. I sat, stood, and paced around my living room that night with not only my father, but his father as well. At the beginning of the night, neither believed that the Tigers would hold up. When I asked my grandfather if we’d win, I heard it again: “Don’t count on it.”
Grandpa hadn’t seen Auburn football win a National Championship in 53 years. My father had never seen one at all. In the midst of the crying and the hugging and the cheering, there was a brief moment where I saw Dad and Grandpa just nodding to each other. The following morning, I dropped my grandfather off at the airport to fly back to Huntsville, and right before he walked away, I heard a change of tune. “Well, 14 and 0,” he said. “We did it, Summer.”
I think there’s still a little white dust nestled in the two trees outside my family’s home. I had felt a bit left out growing up when I couldn’t tailgate before games on campus, or roll the Toomer’s Oaks, or say with 100% certainty that I would one day be an Auburn graduate. And although I still yearn to feel the thrill of winning with 80k+ other Auburn Family members at Jordan-Hare, I know now that it will never be as euphoric as winning with the Auburn men who made me who I am. They needed that win more than I ever will. They’re both extraordinary people, and I’m blessed to have them. James M Thompson, 1955, James C Thompson, 1986.” — Summer Thompson
“My Auburn dad went to Auburn in 1956 and 1957, and because he had a little mouth to feed (me), and another one on the way, he left Auburn and moved his family to Florida where he took a job working in the lab at a cement plant.
When I was 5 or 6 years old, I would see him with a transistor radio up to his ear and I asked once what he was listening to. He said “just trying to find an Auburn score, honey”. Back in those days it was a big deal, and a rare treat for him, for an Auburn game to be televised. So he was always trying to find the score. He did take us to a few games when we visited my grandparents in Alabama and I’ll never forget my first game when Sullivan and Beasley beat Reaves and Alvarez and the Gators.
Sadly, my father died unexpectedly from a heart attack in November of 1980, shortly after returning from seeing Auburn lose 42-0 to Tennessee. Mom says he left the stadium that day hurt and sad and in disbelief that an Auburn team could lose so badly. She said he just kept saying over and over again that Auburn deserved a better coach. He didn’t live to see Coach Dye hired.
So we remember Daddy each year after an Auburn victory in the Iron Bowl with a special wreath on his headstone and we are thrilled knowing that an Auburn football player walks across the brick that bears Daddy’s name at the plaza where Tiger Walk ends.
Daddy may not have graduated from Auburn, but he couldn’t have loved the university more and he passed that on to me and my sister. So, as I stood there on the top row of University of Phoenix Stadium with my sister on January 10th and watched the streamers fall to the field, I couldn’t help but think of my father and how I was there at that wonderful moment in time because of him.” –Angie Hall
“Let me start by saying my dad wasn’t always an Auburn fan. Born in CA he was a USC fan. After marrying my mom, they moved from Vegas to Auburn for school. After he moved here he was leaning towards Bama…til he met their pompous fans. It helped that a young RB named Bo was there. My dad became a fan for life. My first game wasn’t until I was 12… It was Sept 17 1994… I remember thinking it was so cool that it was just him and I. Then walking around the loveliest village on the plains was unbelievable. My dad of course got me a shirt, a hat, and a foam finger (which he later regretted I’m sure). We watched the band in front of the stadium, got a lemonade, and he told me to yell “War Eagle” at people in Quburn gear. We then went in the stadium and found the tunnel for our seats. He stopped me before we went in and said “son, I want you to remember the feeling you get when you walk through here and see all the fans and the field.” I’ve never forgotten to do this through all of my games. After three hotdogs and several cokes, my dad was asking me if I wanted to leave because Auburn was getting drilled late in the game. I told him “all we need is a few picks and we can win.” He explained to me that they will quit throwing. I refused to leave. To this day it was the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen. My dad and I went to several games together, but we still talk about that game to this day. I appreciate the opportunity to share this story. I think I may call him now.” –Kevin Crutchfield
“My father has one of the best reasons to be an Auburn Tiger. He was a ward of the state due to alcoholism in his family at the age of 4. He went to a Children’s home in Dallas County where he lived for many years until being adopted by the first of several foster families. There were several adoption attempts, two in particular were by his uncle in Montgomery (AU grad) and a family stationed at Craig AFB (both AU grads). The family on base really made an impression on him and that is his story as to why he’s an Auburn Fan. AU really is family for us. My favorite memory is the 2005 Iron Bowl which he won tickets for in a last minute drawing. We both met and got Pat Dye’s autograph, then went to sit on the edge of our seats for one of the most memorable Iron Bowls ever. At the end of the 3rd quarter, neither of us could speak from being hoarse. With both of us holding up 4 fingers, watching Bammers turn the jackets inside out and leave, he asked me if I wanted to stay to the very end. He knew the answer before he even asked. The atmosphere in JH after that game was truly the best time we have ever had with 86,063 of our closest friends. War Damn Eagle!” –Justin Nelson
“My dad, Bill Shipman, was the Auburn Creed exemplified. He was the finest man I’ve ever known. His father died when he was twelve leaving ten children and one determined widow on a farm in south Alabama. My father (with the support of his older siblings and many hours spent washing test tubes in the basement of ) graduated from Auburn (then A.P.I) in 1959 with a B.S. in electrical engineering. He began his career working on the cockpit controls of B52’s, moved to the Space Program and ended it in the Nuclear Power industry. I grew up hearing about Rat Hats, Wreck Tech parades and how he hitchhike home from Auburn to see his girlfriend (who would become his wife immediately following graduation!). As a child I loved going to football games and walking the campus listening to his stories of life as an AU student. How he would have loved this football season! I cannot hear the words of the Creed without thinking of my dad and the years of hard work and sacrifice he endured to ensure that all three of his children would have the opportunity to graduate college wearing orange and blue. He died much too young losing a tough battle with cancer, but he was a “hard fighting soldier” till the end. I rejoice in the life eternal which we have been granted through our Lord Jesus Christ and look forward to the day when I can join him in another big “WAR EAGLE!!.”” –Tricia Hudson
“My dad (Joe Reagan) played football on scholarship here at Auburn right after the war (1947-49). He was heavily recruited by LSU his junior year of high school; they actually wanted him to move there for his senior year, which he declined (thank GOD I’m not an LSU Tiger). His heart was here probably because his dad (John Reagan) played football here as well as his uncle (Frank Reagan who is also an AU All-time letterman – 1927). Dad recently told me that we are also related to someone on the very first Auburn football team. I need to find out his name before it is too late. To say I am an obsessed AU football fan is an understatement – I never knew anything else. My dad is 84 today and very healthy, he exercises daily and goes to the gym two times a week. My niece will be the 5th generation Auburn Grad in our family and counting.” –Julia Reagan
“Since it’s impossible to lie to the Blogler, I’m going full disclosure here, even though it includes some family history we are all ashamed of. My dad was born in Alabama, but as a military brat the majority of his childhood was spent elsewhere. They came back to Alabama when my grandfather retired. My dad was older and it was now time to pick a side. Sad to say, he made a terrible decision. As a result, I was raised as a fan for the school that is not Auburn.
Football has always been something I enjoyed and a bonding experience for me and my dad. As I grew to be college age and was looking at different schools and deciding what the best option for me would be, I was very surprised to find that all roads lead to Auburn. Not what I expected, but I was open to it. This was met with some raised eyebrows but full support from my father.
Well, the first time I visited the campus, it was all over for me. I quickly shed those other colors in exchange for Orange and Blue and never looked back. We joked that we’d have a house divided. However, slowly but surely, through the course of my first football season in the Plains, dad finally saw the light and came over to join me in the Auburn family.
For a few years they would come to town for the last home game of the season and we’d all tailgate, go to Tiger Walk, and then find a location to watch the big game. The last couple of years, I’ve gotten season tickets. Of course, I wanted my dad to come to a game with me. We had never been able to attend a college football game together.
In 2009, thanks to his 3rd shift job and a boss that was not sympathetic to granting time off for such things, he was not able to come for any games. In the offseason though, he was able to transfer to day shift and has a much kinder supervisor. So, the magical 2010 football season was much more special to me because for the first time, I got to go to an Auburn game with my dad. He was able to come to the games against South Carolina and LSU. And we also got to celebrate at Toomers Corner which is now very bittersweet. Even though it didn’t start that way, my family is All Auburn, All In. I love my Auburn dad! War Eagle!” –Sammi
“My parents are both AU grads. There are two stories here. My dad is the type that will yell at the players, coaches, and refs, whether we are at the game or at home. This 2010 season, our ‘family’ game was the Arkansas game. Once it was the 4th quarter when it was clear we were going to win, my dad was STILL yelling at the coaches and the players. My brother-in-law leaned over and said, ‘he’d yell if it was 100-0 in favor of Auburn.’
My other story…
When AU played Michigan in the Sugar Bowl in 1983m, (i think the year is right) my grandfather got all of us tickets to go to the game. My dad teaches college level drafting and autoCAD. After the game, when it was nearly midnight, (in New Orleans) my dad made me come back with him and my mom and made me go to school the next day. I was in the SECOND GRADE! My little sis got to stay with the grandparents in NOLA. I will always remember my dad is the Superdome with his hands on his hips insisting I was going to go to school the next day. So, my parents drove me back to Mob-town and I went to school a few hours later…
I love my AU dad. He has passed down the AU Creed to me in more way than one…’I believe in work, hard work’ and ‘I can count only on what I earn’.” –Christy
“The first thing you should know about my dad is sometimes I think he enjoys seeing Alabama lose more than seeing Auburn win, not to say he doesn’t enjoy a great Auburn victory. The story begins during my freshman year in 2007 when my family came down to Auburn for a game. It may have been the homecoming game (Tennessee Tech?), I’m not sure but Auburn won pretty easily. Anyway, after the game, my parents treated me and a friend of mine to a nice dinner. That same night Alabama was playing LSU and the game was on every TV in the restaurant. At that point, Alabama was winning and it looked like they were going to win the game. My dad was so upset that he couldn’t even eat (yes, he despises Alabama that much). So naturally our dinner was not the most pleasant and neither was the car ride from Opelika back to campus. We pulled into the parking lot located by Comer Hall, just outside the Quad dorms, and as soon as we opened the car doors we heard a roaring yell from a couple of tailgaters who were watching the game in the parking lot. Well next thing we know my dad sprints in the direction of one of the tailgate tents. Now when I say “sprint”, I mean my dad kicked it into a gear he had not exhibited since his high school football days. You may remember that at that time there was a low chain-link fence bordering the grassy areas in the parking lot. In my dad’s haste to reach the tailgaters, we just knew he was going to trip over the chain fences. However, we shouldn’t have worried because he was able to clear the fence by a good inch or two and landing upright (even more amazing) in the middle of the tailgate, scaring the people half to death. At that point LSU had sacked JP Wilson and recovered the fumble (somehow my dad still remembers the play) to win the game and everyone around us was cheering. Four years later, we still get a pretty good laugh reenacting the infamous girly gazelle-like leap that took place just to see Bama lose.” –Claire
“Oh to be the child of two Auburn grads…heaven. Daddy’s been wearing the exact same Auburn sweatshirt since I was born. Thankfully his mother in law gave him a new one for Christmas, in celebration of the national championship. It just doesn’t get better.” –Stacy Huggins
I wish, wish, wish that I had pictures to send you of my favorite AU memory with my Dad. It was in the early 70’s, Auburn didn’t win the game against LSU, but my Dad and I sat in the endzone during an absolute monsoon from kickoff ’til the final seconds ticked off the clock, hoping beyond hope, that our team would find a way to win. They didn’t, but it absolutely never occurred to us to leave our seats for drier land. It was that day that I learned from my Dad that you never, ever, ever give up. I repeated this lesson to my own daughter and her husband on November 26, 2010 when our greatest hopes of “the perfect season” seemed destined for disappointment. Even though my Dad wasn’t here for that glorious day we came from behind to beat Bama, we clutched his favorite AU hat and screamed at the top of our lungs.
Luckily, I DO have a picture of that.” –Carol Ann Morrison, ’80