Wednesday, January 13—Buddy Simpkins and Friends “The Best of Jazz and More”

Once again, retired Sylacauga High School Band Director, Buddy Simpkins, has gathered a “who’s who” of musicians to join him in playing for the enjoyment of the Comer Library brown bag audience. Drawing on songs from musical history, the group will play their favorite repertoire of tunes—jazz, rhythm and blues, pop and swing, or whatever strikes their fancy—for those who wish to be taken back in time. Buddy—playing the drums—will be joined by the renowned jazz double bassist, Cleve Eaton, who has played with all of the greats and was dubbed “the Count’s Bassist” during his seventeen year stint with the Count Basie Orchestra. Other performers will include Bo Berry, the talented trumpeter who has played with such greats as Wynton Marsalis and Count Basie and was elected to the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame in 1993; Birmingham native, Byron Thomas, will be playing the piano; and vocalist, Elnora Spencer, who was inducted in 2014 as a Master Blues Artist in the Alabama Blues Hall of Fame.

Wednesday, January 20—Nancy Anderson “The Controversial Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald” 

Seventeen year old Southern belle, Zelda Fitzgerald, met F. Scott Fitzgerald at a country club dance in 1918 in Montgomery, Alabama where he was stationed as a young lieutenant. He wasn’t wealthy, prominent, or a Southerner, but he insisted that his writing would bring him fortune and fame. After Fitzgerald sold his first novel—This Side of Paradise—Zelda boarded a train north to marry him and enjoy the Jazz Age success and celebrity that made Scott and Zelda legends in their time. But would Zelda have become a public figure if she had not married F. Scott Fitzgerald? Her bobbed hair, daring fashions, and forays into that wild new age were topics of conversation, but Zelda also tested her abilities in the areas of dance, art, and writing. Would she have been recognized in any of these fields without her famous spouse? Anderson will discuss Zelda’s life and creative pursuits.

Anderson has a B.S. degree from Millsaps College and an M.A. degree from the University of Virginia. She began teaching at AUM in 1973 and has taught Southern and American literature, writing courses, and led summer teacher institutes on To Kill a Mockingbird. Anderson has publications on Zelda Fitzgerald, Richard Marius, Lella Warren, and Harper Lee. The 2004 recipient of the Eugene Current-Garcia Award from the Association of College English Teachers of Alabama for distinguished scholarship, Anderson also received the AUM Distinguished Teaching Award, the AUM Distinguished Outreach Award, and an inaugural Chancellor’s Warhawk Spirit Award.

Wednesday, January 27—Daniel L. Haulman “Killing Yamamoto, The American Raid that Avenged Pearl Harbor”

One of the most heroic World War II air raids by U.S. forces was the one that killed Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, the commander of the Combined Japanese Fleet and the man who planned the Pearl Harbor and Midway attacks in 1941 and 1942. The raid occurred on April 18, 1943 and it accomplished much by eliminating Japan’s most important admiral and leading strategist. Dr. Daniel Haulman’s account of this attack will stress the crucial teamwork and planning, by codebreakers, strategic leaders, and pilots of the U.S. Marine Corps, the U.S. Navy, and the Army Air Corps, which achieved an almost miraculous interception—an effort that outweighs in significance the great controversy that emerged over the question of which of the pilots actually shot down the Yamamoto aircraft. Historian Daniel Haulman is head of the organizational histories branch of the Air Force Historical Research Agency of Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama—our nation’s most important repository of Army Air Force and U.S. Air Force historical documentation.

Dr. Haulman has authored a number of books about Air Force history addressing aerial victory credits, humanitarian airlift operations, and the Tuskegee Airmen. He is a member of the professional organizations associated with military history and he has served as member of an advisory panel for the National World War II Museum. He has a B.S. degree from the University of Southwestern Louisiana; a M.A. from the University of New Orleans, and a PhD in history from Auburn University.

Wednesday, February 3—James Hansen “Robert Trent Jones and the Making of Modern Golf”

James Hansen tells the story well of how an English immigrant became the premiere golf course designer of his day. Hansen presents Robert Trent Jones as a brilliant architect and an equally skilled salesman, promotor and entrepreneur who designed courses in forty-two U.S. States and in twenty-eight countries. Hansen’s focus on the major architectural design principles built into the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail in Alabama will illustrate these courses as reflections of Jones’ design principles, his personal philosophy, and his desire for courses to be as demanding as they are picturesque.

Hansen is Professor of History and director of the Honors College at Auburn University. An expert in aerospace history for the past 26 years, he has written books and articles about the history of science and technology. His award-winning book, First Man, was the first and only authorized biography of Neil Armstrong, first man on the moon. Hansen has also made his mark on the field of golf course history with his recently published book, A Difficult Par: Robert Trent Jones, Sr. and the Making of Modern Golf.

Wednesday, February 10—Ben Severance “Orators of States Rights, Practitioners of Total War: Alabama’s Congressional Leadership in 1863.

Unlike other Confederate states, most of Alabama’s politicians were committed to an all-out war for independence. Although they often preached the importance of constitutional rights in the wake of increasing governmental centralization, the state’s congressional delegation usually set aside the principles of state rights in favor of doing whatever was necessary to win the war. Their actions counter the persistent notion that the Confederacy was a political house of cards, one that never really developed a sense of nationalism. A former officer in the U.S. Army, Dr. Severance joined the history Department at AUM in August, 2005. His specialties include the Civil War and Reconstruction, Antebellum America, and American Military History. He is also an avid reader of baseball history.

Dr. Severance has published two books: Tennessee’s Radical ArmyThe State Guard and Its Role in Reconstruction, 1867-1869 (University of Tennessee Press, 2005) and Portraits of Conflict: A Photographic History of Alabama in the Civil War (University of Arkansas Press, 2012). He is currently writing a book on the political climate in Alabama during that state election in 1863. Dr. Severance received degrees from the University of Washington and Clemson University prior to earning his PhD from the University of Tennessee in 2002.

Wednesday, February 17—Robert Kane “The Doolittle Raid: America Strikes Back”

After Japan’s surprise attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, President Roosevelt charged his senior U.S. military commanders with finding a suitable response to assuage the public outrage. The ensuing historic “first joint action” between the Army Air Force and the Navy was made difficult by the lack of Army bases that were close enough to allow bombers to attack Japan as well as the fact that the Navy had no airplanes with the range and munitions capacity to do meaningful damage. The raid—consisting of B-25 bombers launched from the Navy’s newest aircraft carrier, The USS Hornet—was conducted by the Army’s project engineer, Lt. Colonel James Harold “Jimmy” Doolittle. Damage from the attack was slight, but it demonstrated Japan’s vulnerability, boosted American morale, and set in motion a chain of military events that were disastrous to Japan’s war effort.

Dr. Robert B. Kane—born in Astoria, New York—has degrees in European history from Clemson University, SC (Bachelors); University of South Carolina (Masters); and University of California, Los Angles (Doctorate). He served in the Air Force from 1973 to 2003 and later as a staff historian at Eglin AFB in Florida and at Maxwell AFB in Alabama. In 2010, he became the Air University Director of History at Maxwell. Dr. Kane authored Disobedienceand Conspiracy in the German Army, 1918-1945 and has a manuscript So Far From Home Royal Air Force and Free French Flight Training at Maxwell and Gunter Fields during World War II. He is married has two children and two grandchildren.

Wednesday, February 24—Kathryn Braund “The Original Great Tye” and How It Was Broken: Creek Indian History in Three Acts

Alabamians rightly take pride in the early history of their state, including the exotic and complex history of the Creek people who once claimed this land as their own. In this retrospective, Kathryn H. Braund will look at the major eras of Creek Indian history, touching on their link to the British through the deerskin trade, their material culture and economy, and the changing nature of tribal authority as plantation agriculture and herding replaced trade as the “way to wealth” in the Indian nation.

Kathryn Holland Braund is Hollifield Professor of Southern History at Auburn University. She is the author of Deerskins and Duffels: The Creek Indian Trade with Anglo-America1685-1815 , coeditor of Fields of Visions: Essays on the “Travels” of William Bartram and William Bartram on the Southeastern Indians, and the editor of Tohopeka: Rethinking the Creek War and War of 1812. Braund’s lecture is a part of the Draughon Seminars in State and Local History, a series of lectures sponsored by the Caroline Marshall Draughon Center for the Arts and Humanities in the College of Liberal Arts at Auburn University.

Wednesday, March 2—Dolores Hydock It’s the Little Things: Five Small Objects That Played a Big Role in Shaping the Dutch Golden Age”

Seemingly small, unrelated things can combine to create history in unexpected ways! You could hold them all in the palm of your hand—five little things that played a big role in shaping the world of 17th century Holland at the height of its power. Join storyteller, Dolores Hydock, on a journey from the Artic Sea to Singapore for the story of five tiny things that changed history in unexpected ways. Dolores Hydock, a familiar and much loved face at the Comer Library, will end the series by taking the audience way back in time!

Hydock, originally from Pennsylvania, is an actress and story performer whose work has been featured in a variety of concerts, festivals, and special events throughout the United States. She is touring artist for the Alabama State Council on the Arts, a speaker with the Alabama Humanities Foundation, and a member of the Southern Order of Storytellers. Dolores lives in Birmingham, Alabama and in her spare time, teaches Cajun and zydeco dancing.