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Homecoming 2009 featured historic Model T photo
re-enactment, classic car rally
Nov. 3, 2009 --
It looked like a time machine had transported Homecoming participants
back to the 1920s at Arkansas
State University in Jonesboro, Arkansas,
on Saturday, Oct. 24. A lengthy parade of Model T's and other antique
cars proceeded to the Cooper Alumni Center, where they rallied in front
of the building as part of the university's Centennial Homecoming. About
30 Model T and other antique car enthusiasts from around the region
drove their vehicles to participate.
A historic re-enactment of an iconic photo in the 1959 A-State yearbook
was held using the actual car and many of the ladies who were originally
photographed 50 years ago. ASU alumnus Ken Swan of Selmer, Tenn., drove
the very same car which was photographed with Phi Mu sorority pledges
for the 1959 yearbook. This special event in honor of ASU's Centennial
celebration also noted last year 's 100th birthday of the
Model T Ford, the car which revolutionized American society and forever
changed transportation world-wide.
Ken Swan worked
with Dr. Nancy Hendricks,
director of ASU Alumni Communications, to recreate the moment from a
half century ago. Hendricks tracked down many of the participants in the
original photo, and invited other ladies of Phi Mu from the year 1959 to
stand in for sorority sisters who were deceased or too ill to attend.
Past Phi Mupresident
Judith Sanford Long, a 1961 A-State alumna, worked with Hendricks over
the past six months, utilizing sorority records. Glenda Ball Lancaster
of Poplar Bluff, Mo., and Florence Green Maxwell of Paragould, Ark., had
posed for the original photo 50 years ago.
Michael Nowlin of Jonesboro, an instructor of auto mechanics at the ASU
Technical Center in Marked Tree, was instrumental in organizing the
logistics of the event, including a local driving tour and securing the
staging area at the ASU-Jonesboro Farm Complex prior to the parade to
the Alumni Center.
Arkansas State University is celebrating its 100th year
anniversary this year with a number of special events. Swan said that he
was honored to participate in the festivities in a very special way by
exhibiting his 1922 Model T Ford Touring Car that he has owned since
After graduating from high school in Marked Tree, Ark., he enrolled as a
freshman at Arkansas State in the fall of 1958. Swan's only
transportation at the time was his Model T Ford. Since he did not live
on campus, he relied on the car to commute.
Returning to his car after class one day, he discovered it surrounded by
a number of Phi Mu sorority pledges. Swan later said he was sure he had
"died and gone to Heaven." The ladies wanted to borrow his car as a prop
for a sorority party which had a Roaring 20’s theme. As a reward, they
invited him to the party. A campus reporter took a picture of the car
surrounded by the young ladies, and the photo was featured prominently
in the 1959 college yearbook.
Learning of ASU's Centennial celebration this year, Swan contacted
Hendricks to say he still owned the car, suggesting that the same group
of ladies might pose once again, 50 years later, as part of the
festivities. Swan and his wife Joyce drove the car to Jonesboro to meet
with Hendricks in early June, where they shared some of the details of
its ownership. The car, built in 1922, is still on the road in its ninth
decade. Swan's brother had found the car in a chicken house in 1954 and
bought it for $25. Swan says they added black paint, covered the seats
in red plastic and improvised some wheels to drive it home. Since then
he has completely restored it, and enjoys road trips with Joyce, who
drove her own antique car to ASU for the Homecoming celebration.
They suggested that many fellow Model T enthusiasts might wish to
display their cars during Homecoming weekend to create the atmosphere of
campus life in the ‘20s. Participants from the Arkansas Tin Lizzies,
Arkansas Model T Ford Club, Tennessee T’s Model T Ford Club and others
enjoyed a tour of the area on the perfect autumn day before rallying at
the Alumni Center, where they later joined the pre-game tailgate party
at the Alumni Center after the historic photo re-enactment.
Swan said, "It was absolutely a blast from the past. It was phenomenal!
I personally was mesmerized by how the ladies suddenly seemed to
appreciate what was happening, especially when they realized they had
not seen each other in a half century in some cases. I was totally blown
away when the first lady to appear set the tone when she mentioned that
she had not seen or heard from the other ladies in 50 years. That
statement put it all into perspective for me."
The event was free and open to the public, many of whom took
numerous pictures, visited with the car owners and generally became
caught up in the nostalgic spirit of the event. For more information,
contact Dr. Nancy Hendricks, director of ASU alumni communications, at
870-972-2451 or e-mail