Emmett Rogers, GS 1932
The following is a Living History interview with E. Alton Rogers, class of 1932, conducted by Marilyn J. Somers on April 17, 1996, at Mr. Rogers' home in Milledgeville, Georgia. The subject of the interview is student life at Georgia Tech. Mr. Rogers was born on June 28, 1909, in Sparta, Georgia, which is 25 miles south of Milledgeville. Mr. Rogers' father died in 1918, so his mother sent him to Georgia Military College in 1923. While at GMC, Mr. Rogers met Johnny B. Bass, who was his roommate there and lived near him at Georgia Tech. He graduated in 1927 and was advised to go to Georgia Tech by the president of GMC, Dr. E. T. Holmes. The kaolin industry was just coming about along the fall line, so he recommended that Mr. Rogers major in Ceramic Engineering. Mr. Rogers' roommate at Tech was Jimmy Frank of Miami, FL, who was a cousin of two boys from GMC. Mr. Rogers talks at length about being on the band under director "Wop" Roman. Mr. Roman was very proud of his 100-piece band and wanted desperately to take them to the 1928 Rose Bowl. However, the faculty voted not to let the band solicit to raise money, so the band did not get to go. Mr. Rogers recalls going to see Mr. Roman the afternoon of the faculty's decision and found him sitting in his barber's chair, depressed over the decision. Later on, Mr. Roman was found dead in that same chair, Mr. Rogers believes of a broken heart. Mr. Rogers remembers that they could not listen to the game on the radio, but heard bits of information about it from the Georgia Power office, which was receiving radio signals. Mr. Rogers says that Tech students did not have much time for social life then, but that it generally focused on the fraternities. He belonged to the Kappa Alpha fraternity, whose house was located behind the All Saints Church on North Avenue, and was closely allied with the church. He recalls that bridge games, and occasionally poker games, were popular. Mr. Rogers describes the building of the Fox Theater, which occurred during his time at Tech. He remembers watching it being built, the grand opening, and going to see movies and stage shows there. Also important was the Biltmore Hotel, which was the location for many dances. On his way back to Tech after Christmas his senior year, Mr. Rogers was badly injured in a car wreck that killed the two other boys he was riding with. Mr. Rogers spent a long time in Emory's hospital and had to take another year to get his degree from Tech. Math was his best subject and he fondly remembers professors such as Dr. D.M. Smith, Dr. Jimmy Stengall, Dean Skiles, and Coach Roy Mundorf. Twenty-two students started out in Ceramic Engineering the year Mr. Rogers did, but Prof. Harry Vaughn told them none of them would make it, so twenty-one of them changed majors. The one man who did make it was Jim Brooks, a guard for the football team. Mr. Rogers and the others all switched their majors to General Science, which was the precursor of Industrial Management. They took science classes, but were also required to take several courses through the School of Commerce, which was headed by Dr. George Sparks who later founded Georgia State. Mr. Rogers has seen 69 consecutive Tech - UGA football games, beginning in 1927 during his freshman year. Mr. Rogers points out that Tech and UGA did not play during the years 1916-1924 due to intense disagreements. He also remembers shirttail parades that the freshmen enthusiastically participated in after Tech won home football games. Mr. Rogers graduated in the Spring of 1932 in front of Knowles Dormitory on the hill. He says he did not know anyone who was graduating that had a job lined up. He ended up going back to Milledgeville and working odd jobs until 1934 when he got into the cotton business. Later he got a job working for the Internal Revenue Service in the audit division. He worked for them 25 years, retiring in 1964. He then went into the real estate business with a good friend and ended up doing appraisals full-time. He retired from that about five years ago and now does some investing in the stock market. Mr. Rogers married his wife, Frances, in 1941, and they had two children, Al and Patsy. Mr. Rogers has remained active with clubs like the Masons, and has also kept up his Tech connections.
1996 April 17