The Big Question

The Big Question

What was your favorite bar, restaurant or hangout when you were a student?

“Prevail Union! Prevail was where I spent most of my time in college. I loved the community aspect there and how close it was to campus. It was also where I spent the majority of my money buying coffee during latenight study sessions!”

Addie Roberds ’17

“The Silver Spur. We would take line dancing classes on Tuesday night.”

Landra Cooper ’98

“The Casino! I learned to shoot pool there. As a local gal, my parents were NOT happy about it.”

Elizabeth Farrar ’76

“My boyfriend and I met at Quixotes in 2016! We were regulars every week until graduation. We graduated in 2019 and now live in Cincinnati. This bar has always meant so much to us. We wish we could go back for one more burger night!”

Sara Brillanti ’19

“Greeley’s or my friend’s trailer on Wire Road.”

Carol Coffey ’83

“The Casey House on the corner of Casey Avenue and Armstrong served as our favorite bar, restaurant and hangout spot. There’s something special about a house that never needed to be locked. There was always a group of friends over. No one needed an invitation.”

Hillary Rupert ’12

“My favorite bar was Bodega’s, which was on the corner of College and Magnolia. With two floors and a back patio area with lots of seating, my friends and I enjoyed hanging out there when we would go downtown. The back patio was especially fun for people watching! Bodega’s was where I spent my graduation night celebrating with friends, so it holds some great memories for me!” 

Tressa Richards ’10

“Momma G’s 99 cent chicken Italian sandwiches every Tuesday night, great on a student budget- they don’t have them anymore, or the keg corner for a jug of beer to go—good times for sure!”

Bret Mehlhouse ’89

“War Eagle Supper Club. Great music. That was a long time ago. Thankfully, we didn’t have cell phones or social media.”

Maribeth Word ’88

“Amsterdam Cafe was a great place for lunch or an early dinner date. It would get rowdy later and on the weekends. Best memories include the cold beers, playing table shuffleboard, listening to bands (the Quadrajets!) and spilling out on the sidewalk to a neighboring house where the party would continue.”

Angela Hudson ’96

“During my time in grad school the old Harry’s bar was my favorite go-to spot. Me and a friend of mine would go there to shoot pool at least 2-3 times a week. While the overall aesthetics of the place left much to be desired with the decades of graffiti on the walls, the essentially nonfunctioning toilets and the odor of 30 years’ worth of cigarette smoke gave the place a certain charm.”

Christopher Murray ’98

“My friends’ favorite hangout spot was Skybar!”

Alisa Lamar ’18

“Pasquale’s pizza downtown and Sani-Freeze. They were about the only spots in walking distance of campus.”

Kay Keeshan ’69

“Momma Goldbergs right across the street from lowder. We even would have classes there at times.”

Jonathan Krueger ’20

“The Supper Club, Wings to go, Bottchers, Highlands, Bourbon Street and The Blue Room.”

Britni Miltner ‘04

“Finks. A chill place during down times, and the coolest spot for a band or Halloween gig when crowded. (It didn’t hurt that my roommate was a server!) War Eagle!”

Katie Parker ’02

“War Eagle Supper Club—especially on Sunday nights when Bob Richardson and Jane Drake brought the jazz!”

Paul McCracken ’91

“Byron’s for breakfast no doubt!!! Favorite memory there is f irst day of school breakfast our senior year. The six of us were in basically every class together all four years at Auburn! War damn COSAM!!!

Katelyn Riant ’19

“Quixotes! Probably spent too much time there, especially during freshman/sophomore year!”

Brian Moyer ’10

“I loved Price’s BBQ House. My friends and I started going there when they first opened and continued to go every time I was in town. I also took my kids there before every home game and made sure I went by the last week they were open. You never knew who you might meet there as well.”

Harry Abrams ’81

“Definitely the War Eagle Supper Club! I once met Zac Brown Band there when they were nobodies performing on a random Thursday night. We had a few drinks together and then they played til the cows came home!”

Kate Cole ’07

“Bodega, located at the NW corner of Toomer’s Corner. Lots of laughs and good times had with life long friends.”

Nicole Brown ’10

“Behind the Glass when it was a cafe, art gallery and boutique.”

Wendy Blaszyk ’89

“Denaro’s on Wednesday nights. Coach Bowden would usually show up for the karaoke.”

Jamie Cragg ’96

David Markey ’74 and June Copeland ’71 celebrated their 50th anniversary by spending a weekend in Auburn. “We enjoyed visiting where we met at the ‘Haley Wall’ and a great dinner at Hamilton’s on Magnolia … formerly Pasqually’s!”

David Markey ’74

June Copeland ’71

“The strutting duck”

Ella Bitto ’99

“Harry’s where the ‘ambiance will seduce you’!”

Beth Stephens ’93

“The Flush. Ice Cream after a long day of studying was always a treat.”

Steve Ramey ’80

Read More Auburn Alumni Stories

80 Years of Infamy: Pearl Harbor and Auburn’s Turning Point

80 Years of Infamy: Pearl Harbor and Auburn’s Turning Point

An alumnus’ life mirrors the changes that Auburn—and the nation—underwent because of WWII

Pearl Harbor at Langdon Hall

Students gathered outside on the steps of Langdon Hall to hear the emergency
news broadcast of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

ALABAMA POLYTECHNIC INSTITUTE (API) on Dec. 6, 1941 was much the same as it had been for decades—season after season of football games, dances and generations-old student traditions—but on the following morning, the Plains’ rural tranquility would change forever.

Just weeks before Christmas break, students crowded the steps of Langdon Hall, listening to the newsflash that rocked the nation: the Empire of Japan had launched a surprise attack on the U.S. Naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. After resisting involvement in the conflict that was slowly engulfing the rest of the world, the U.S. was now unquestionably at war.

The five years that immediately followed that day would be a watershed moment in the history of Auburn University, profoundly altering everything from the size of the student body to the curriculum and athletic program. David Gardiner ’41 was one of many Auburn alumni who fought in the war, and whose life would be profoundly changed by it.

Gardiner was born into poverty in Farley, Ala., the second of six children. He was 11 when the Great Depression began, and 15 when his father died. As the eldest son, he helped raise his younger brothers and sisters and kept his family afloat.

“You go through things like that, you learn hard work,” said Cliff Gardiner, associate dean for the college of science and mathematics at Augusta University and David’s second son. “You learn lessons of durability and resilience, and not complaining—my father was never a complainer.”

David Gardiner entered API as an agriculture major, intending to graduate and return to his family farm. In his spare time, he played baseball but, conspicuously, also participated in API’s Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program at a time when enlistment was not compulsory. News of Nazi Germany’s invasion of Europe had undoubtedly reached Auburn by then, but Gardiner signed up anyway.

“He knew the world was at war, and he chose to enroll in ROTC,” said Cliff. “Given the patriotism of the time, he may have done it because he believed that was his duty. He understood duty extremely well.”

Gardiner was deployed to Hawaii as a member of an antiaircraft barrage balloon unit, a relatively easy assignment. That changed in 1944. As a second lieutenant in the Army, Gardiner was appointed commander of an anti-aircraft battery and sent across the Pacific to liberate the Philippines from the Japanese. The Filipino people suffered horrific atrocities after falling under enemy occupation in 1942, and welcomed the allied Filipino-U.S. forces as liberators.

“I know that his unit got credit for at least one kill of a Japanese bomber,” recalled Cliff. “But I’m sure that his men were probably under attack multiple times. He never talked about that, except for the triumph of getting credit for a kill shot.”

Cliff still has the 40-millimeter shell casing his father brought back, the same kind used to shoot down enemy aircraft.

After the Philippines, Gardiner went ashore at the Battle of Okinawa and remained there until Japan formally surrendered on Sept. 2, 1945. For his service he was awarded two Bronze Stars and a Philippines Liberation Ribbon. But none of that mattered to him. In fact, said his son, he never heard his father mention any service medals. “I got to come home,” he told his son. “That’s what [victory] meant to me.”

 At the time, President Luther Duncan estimated that around 800 veterans would enroll at Auburn through the G.I. Bill. Instead, 1,575 registered in the winter quarter of 1946 alone. At its peak in 1948-49, more than 9,000 veterans were attending Auburn. Because Auburn was segregated at the time, the GI Bill did not fix diversity issues, but the veterans’ arrival would transform everything from student housing and class schedules to campus dining and dress codes. The influx of battle-tested adult men would reshape collegiate athletics across the country.

For alumni like Clarence “Pappy” Boynton ’48, who came to Auburn as a veteran, the war had created a new generation of students. “It gave me added responsibility and a new sense of purpose,” said Boynton, now 101. “The military regimen instilled me with discipline, the value of depending on your fellow servicemen, family and friends and an ever-greater commitment to my country while at war.”

In the years that followed the war, Gardiner became a cotton marketing specialist for the USDA and eventually retired in 1983 as superintendent of the Cotton Division for Georgia. Though he lived to the ripe age of 102, he never spoke out for armed conflict. And to Cliff ’s surprise, he never judged the young people who protested against serving.

Seventy-four years after the war ended, on his 100th birthday, Gardiner was interviewed by television reporters at the Georgia War Veterans Home in Augusta, Ga. where he lived. They asked him what he thought of the conflict all these years later.

 “War is a waste of time,” Gardiner sighed.
“People should learn to get along.”