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Column: ‘Dear Old U-G-A’ draws on Red & Black coverage
by Loran Smith
Columnist
June 27, 2013 10:20 PM | 3463 views | 0 0 comments | 105 105 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Loran Smith
Loran Smith
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Books remain a staple of my life. I just can't segue into Kindle technology. However, latent arguments all make sense when you think about the fact that you can download a dozen books into a handy gadget and never reach a point where you are without a book at your disposal. But I still can't get used to reading on a machine.

The ease and the efficiency that comes with the Kindle is something many of my friends dote on. Someday, I suspect — as is the case with checks — books will become endangered. Hope not, because books enabled me in part to educate my children. My grandchildren will benefit, too. Can you make margin notes on a  Kindle? Can you Xerox a page or a paragraph from a Kindle? Can you run grab your Kindle and find something you are looking for to share with a guest who comes to dinner? If you mark a  book and want to show your guest a photo or a quote, I don't see how it would be better to use technology than your bookshelf.

That's another thing. Who wants to build a house without any bookshelves? Walk into a well-appointed library or den with ample books displayed and organized among personal artifacts, and that is likely the most attractive room in a house. If the Kindle overtakes us, what is to become of  the coffee table business? A family room without a coffee table adorned with smart-looking books would be like a house without a kitchen pantry.

I want my books mailed to me from the publisher, so I can open them and browse through with the anticipation of the reading journey in my favorite reading chair. Feel the pages. Smell the print. New books are like new cars. They smell good. Coddle a book and peruse it with the affection it deserves. In the last few days, I thought about all the foregoing when a handsome coffee table book showed up at my door. It was hand delivered, owing to the courtesy of the author. It made my day. I had been on a two-day trip with a full schedule and considerable driving time, which put me in need of a lift. I got it when I saw my new book.

Carrol Dadisman, who grew up in Jefferson and enjoyed a successful newspaper career, has written “Dear Old U-G-A” from the pages of the Red & Black, the UGA student newspaper that Carrol once edited. It has history that causes any Georgia alumnus, past and present, to swoon. From the first football game to the latent championship runs of Mark Richt. From literary societies to honor societies to student government.

Bands, controversies, and ROTC cavalry to the dress and fashion of coeds who were never allowed to wear shorts unless they were fully covered with a full-length rain coat — including on those days in the summer when the temperatures soared well past 90 degrees. Traditions are identified from classic photographs from the Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library and from photos published by Pandora and the Red & Black. Good stuff.

Nobody gives a hoot-in-hell if a freshman walks under the arch on the main campus anymore, but it was important in another era. The arch tradition is explained in “Dear old U-G-A.” Everybody took a turn ringing the chapel bell back then when Georgia won a game in Sanford Stadium. Now we ring it mechanically. We keep the tradition but the act became artificial. It is a sign of the times, much like reading a book from a Kindle.

“Dear Old U-G-A” will charm graduates who are approaching their senior years, but it will provide a nice glimpse into yesteryear for anyone of the Internet era with an appreciation for history and the past. If you were among the last to walk around the field for the “senior parade” in the late ’60s, you are likely now telling your grandchildren what that experience was like. If you have reached your retirement years, you may remember your grandmother telling you about the days when one of the larger concerns of the dean of women was coed dress.

According to the book, “‘University women will please not appear on the ballroom floor without skirts,’ was the astonishing request made by the dean of women in chapel last Friday. She also made it plain that a ruffle 4 inches long is not considered a skirt by those who decree what the well-dressed Georgia woman will wear.”

This is but one of the amusing bits of news from pages of past editions of the Red & Black which Dadisman has included in his book. Even the Red & Black has changed. It is no longer printed under the auspices of the university administration. If the editors want to blast the president, they have the same freedom exercised by the local and national  media.

If you call the Red & Black offices and order a copy of “Dear Old U-G-A,” you'll enjoy reminiscing about your days on campus, whenever they were — especially if they were pre-Kindle.

Loran Smith is an administrative specialist for the University of Georgia sports communication department. You can reach him at loransmithathens@bellsouth.net.
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