Oh to be here.
Alabama College in the middle of January with the Christmas dances rested up from and the Valentine’s dance at Mississippi State yet to come.
A joy. The girls down the hall bragging about their dates but a better one to shut them down. Charles. Tall, dark, and handsome even if he is not six foot three. Six-foot two he was and captain of the football team. Crowned queen to his king at the Homecoming Ball and a march to lead with an armful of white roses in a rose satin evening dress with so much pink tulle it crackled. A room at the very top of his fraternity house to sleep in with girls running up and down the stairs breaking in their dancing slippers. The maid with her ironing board barely able to keep up, what with each girl needing a frock for the luncheon, a warmer one for the game, and another to dance in.
A note dashed off to Starkville sealed with a kiss and a drop of perfume and down for dinner. Back up and a wire. Bully gone to dog heaven and one’s presence needed. Almost a friend and not just a mascot. Charles having walked Bully freshman year during practices. Time spent watching him chase rabbits napping under the team bench between trips out to the center line so the crowd could cheer, too. Tired the last few games and nearly carried out in the water wagon but loving the applause and making it out on all four paws and a tail raised high with pride.
Being met with a taxi and bags dropped off. Lee Hall with a line that stretched around twice and the damp settling in over a silver moon. The viewing. The coach for a minister and the Glee Club singing fight songs instead of the choir with their hymns. Bully in an open satin-lined casket surrounded by enough flowers and ferns to make anyone sneeze. Ribbons in the school colors with the maroon knotted over the white tied to the lid and draped across. A walk back to the hotel and a kiss by the door. Upset he was but unseen since Christmas. An opportunity for a kiss not to be missed.
Bully in Funeral Casket. File_No_4_99.jpg Fred A. Blocker College photograph collection, University Archives, Mississippi State University Archives Libraries.
Bully in Funeral Casket. File_No_4_98.jpg Fred A. Blocker Photograph collection, University Archives, Mississippi State University Archives Libraries.
Grits scrambled eggs and bacon at the hotel in the morning and the rain streaming down. A second pot of coffee with extra cream. Charles in a shirt but no sweater. His letter sweater in his book bag. Needing to eat without it even if it was chilly. Better that than spilling. Bully or the great uncle of Bully in maroon with a touch of gray in the middle of the front with the rest in white. A drop of coffee on the maroon would never show, but the rest of it too pale.
The rain turning to drizzle and a loaned umbrella over one’s head. The procession forming up with Charles getting more upset by the minute. One of the pallbearers. Eight there were to be flanked by eight ROTC men with their rifles. Not liking rifles but not much else to do. An honor to have been chosen and the captain having to be one of the ones in front. No way to avoid it.
There to offer encouragement. The students lining up behind to process and ending up in the front row with a maroon and white badge. Supposed to be students at the school but no one likely to figure it out. A big school, not like Alabama. Too many girls for anyone to know all of them.
Bully funeral procession. File_No_4_103.jpg Fred A. Blocker College photograph collection, University Archives, Mississippi State University Libraries.
Back across campus to a sad march played by the Maroon Band and at the fifty-yard line on Scott Field with the bench removed and one’s galoshes getting damper by the minute. Four battalions’ worth of ROTC men in formation. What looked like at least half of the bleacher-filling students standing stock still clutching white handkerchiefs. The same suit-clad coach reading from somewhere in the back of the Book of Common Prayer where the ancient-sounding verses were. Must be against something to bury a dog with the funeral prayers in the front. Every girl from the cheerleading squad in their dark jackets on one side of the grave and the pallbearers on the other.
Bully Funeral Service. File_No_4_102.jpg Fred A. Blocker College photograph collection, University Archives, Mississippi State University Libraries.
Bully in his coffin covered with a blanket of marigolds on top of the phony grass mat undertakers always had to cover up the mound of mud and dirt. Must have run through what the florist had the night before. Charles having said something about students going out to strip the marigold beds over by the library at sunup so the librarians could not see. The girl behind breaking down and sobbing as the clods of earth were tossed.
Bully Grave with Flowers. File_No_4_97.jpg Fred A. Blocker College photograph collection, University Archives, Mississippi State University Archives Libraries.
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Alabama College, located in Montevallo, Alabama was a women’s college up until 1956 when its first male students enrolled. Nowadays it is known as the University of Montevallo. It is Alabama’s only public liberal arts college. The descriptions of the girls coming for weekends are wrapped around my mother’s stories. She was a late 1940s student at a different women’s college.
Bully the bulldog has been the live bulldog mascot appearing at Mississippi State University games going back to Bully I who arrived in 1935. The “Bulldogs” nickname for the team itself goes back to at least 1905, decades before Mississippi State College became Mississippi State University in 1961. This article wraps the funerals of Bully I and Bully II as it treats of the 1940 services for Bully II while including the fifty-yard line as a place of burial where Bully I was buried under a bench. Bully II was buried in front of a campus building but the other is far more interesting so I used it instead. An advantage of fiction.