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February 26, 2001

Moon's history lecture
kicks off Homecoming

By Eric Rangus

A significant portion of the 120 or so students attending Joe Moon’s lecture, “From Estrange-ment to Reconciliation: A Biography of Oxford College of Emory University,” in the Oxford Chapel, Feb. 19, got credit for being there since it fulfilled a requirement for the college’s popular Oxford Studies course.

The rest of the crowd just got entertained.

That’s not to say the night wasn’t informative; quite the contrary. With a good-humored delivery throughout the event’s 90 minutes, Moon and six Oxford graduates who shared the stage held the audience’s attention and delivered many historical nuggets for students to contemplate.

It was an ideal way to kick off Oxford’s second Homecoming celebration since the tradition was reintroduced last year. This year’s theme was “Can’t Beat the Real Thing”; festivities took place throughout the week and wrapped up with a basketball game and post-game party Friday.

Moon, associate dean for campus life, did quite a bit more than lecture. Only for the first half-hour did he stand behind the podium and read from his recently completed doctoral dissertation whose title gave the event its name.

Following the reading came the night’s centerpiece, a slide show consisting of around 150 photographs pulled primarily from Oxford annuals throughout the years. The earliest images dated from 1910 and consisted of, among other things, old club pictures, pre-Depression shots of Oxford landmarks such as Seney Hall and the Quad, Dooley’s first appearance in the late 1950s, and—most entertainingly—past yearbook photos of current Oxford professors, such as popular religion Professor Hoyt Oliver’s 1954 student portrait.

While the older photos piqued definite interest, many students in the crowd had stronger reactions to the more recent examples from the 1970s.

Not every slide, however, was chosen with positive images in mind. One 1952 photo showed Oxford students performing in blackface. Moon said such an instance is rightfully unthinkable now, but in the early 1950s, it was unfortunately common.

Another photo—this one from 1960—was of Oxford’s all-African American cafeteria staff.

According to Moon, that was about the time staff members began to appear in the annuals. The next picture was of the cafeteria’s two supervisors—both white.

“I wonder if there’s any symbolism in that,” Moon said.

Moon ceded the last half-hour to six Oxford alumni, whose college days stretched from the 1950s to the 1990s.

Dan Ragsdale ’59Ox talked about the struggles of staying awake for 8 a.m. classes. He also expressed feelings about the importance of the students’ two years at Oxford that would be echoed by all the panelists.

“Enjoy the moment,” Ragsdale said. “It’s a lifetime you’re building right here. I know 40 years from now, some of you will be back here doing the same thing that I am.”

Ina Thompson ’61Ox said that while she was a student, Oxford women faced a 7 p.m. curfew during the week and could only sign out to go to the library. That fact was greeted with (mostly female) gasps.

Horace Johnson ’77Ox humorously retold a story about mandatory drownproofing classes in the Hopkins pool—even though he couldn’t swim.

Cheryl Custer ’81Ox said she discovered her career and met her husband at Oxford. She also briefly mentioned Oxford’s social theme parties of the late 1970s and early 1980s, gatherings with eyebrow-raising names like “Casino Night,” “Come as Your Fantasy” and the “Whore and Pimp Party.”

David Ladner ’85Ox said the true meaning of Oxford is in its future context—how friends made at the college stay with you over the years.

Dee Bostick ’90Ox wrapped things up, proudly declaring that Oxford’s curriculum is more challenging than Emory’s.

“It is a gross understatement,” Moon said as he finished his address, “to say that all of us who work and study at Oxford owe a debt to those who came before us.”


Back to Emory Report Feb. 26, 2001