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The Old College Compendium

Summey Boys, Yahoos, Mayhem and Biscuits: The Tom Reed Narratives

After the war, dormitories apparently were no more sedate and scholarly than they were in the antebellum years described in College Life in the Old South. Preferring that students live in the more closely supervised setting of a boarding house, University of Georgia Chancellor Patrick Hues Mell wrote in 1879, “In such dormitories, organized vice would entrench itself and hold high carnival. Drunkenness and gambling and licentiousness would there fix their permanent headquarters.” (shown right: Albin Hajos photograph, c. 1900, click image for closer view)

Perhaps as a result of this view, Old College became a supervised boarding house, rather than a dormitory. H.C. Tuck reported in his recollections of his student days, Four Years at the University of Georgia, “On the first of January next (1880) a boarding house was opened in the Old College by P.A. Summey and his wife; they were fine and kind-hearted old people and were well known in the City.So I decided to board with Mr. Summey. The fare was very good, as good as could be expected but I soon got tired of the company I had to meet at the table.”

By the time Thomas Reed (right) arrived as a freshman in 1885, the fare had evidently declined in quality, giving rise to his story of the immortal Summey House Biscuit. Reed recorded its history and many other anecdotes of Old College living in his lengthy draft manuscript history of the University of Georgia.

Some of Reed's stories suggest that H.C. Tuck would have found Reed’s contemporaries tiresome company as well, though the rugged conditions Reed found in Old College do suggest that "organized vice" could find a more comfortable location to "hold high carnival."

Below are links to Reed's sections concerning life (often uncomfortable, indigestable and violent) in Old College when it was known as "Summey House" and "Yahoo Hall." Reed's entire history is available through the Digital Library of Georgia. The existing texts of Reed's manuscript are carbon copies of a preliminary draft and sometimes a bit difficult to read.

Click image for closer view

After its Summey House period ended, Old College assumed the nickname of Yahoo Hall, home to the Yahoo Boys, shown in a doorway of Old College this 1893 photograph. They look like a group prepared for hard living... and the hard life was beginning to tell on Old College as it neared it 100th birthday.

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