When I learned that the Goldwaters of Arizona had seen fit to resurrect the family department store name and logo by opening a mail-order gourmet food company, my cousins and I decided to return life to our family names as well.
I am in the process of donating the Vipperman building to Alabama Central University for the expansion of their business school. My cousins, the heirs of the Loudermilk & Reinhardt Company are doing the same thing.
I just got off the phone with Clarice and asked her if she had received a letter from Dr. Bahnson. She informed me that both she and Eva L. had gotten the same letter.
Clarice and Eva Loudermilk were the granddaughters of Uncle Rudolf. It is they who now own the L&R building and are donating it to the university.
I didn't ask her if he requested that they provide lectures. Unless he wanted to hear about loser husbands, multiple failed marriages and profanities that would make a sailor blush, he needn't bother.
The nine-story Vipperman building and the seven story L&R building will provide the university with much needed room for growth and inject new life into downtown Brockman.
In a quid pro quo, I had three stipulations; my Loudermilk cousins had two. (I got more because my building was taller.)
1. I will continue to maintain the apartment in which I grew up on the ninth floor.
2. A retail management and fashion merchandising curriculum including the rise and fall of the ?Main Street? American department store will be developed. The school will, recreate on the building's first floor, a museum of sorts with a permanent exhibit of 20th century department store historical memorabilia. As closely as possible, it will replicate the way the main floor of Vipperman's looked during its heyday of the 1940s. On the mezzanine will be a ?Century of Fashion? display; something on the order of the First Ladies' gowns at the Smithsonian in Washington, DC. I will donate my wardrobe from the past sixty plus years and a curator would be hired to manage, oversee and change the displays on a regular basis. I want future generations to realize that real clothes existed before they were made extinct by blue jeans, t-shirts and flip-flops.
3. The Loudermilk girls required that the "StarLite Roof" restaurant be restored and re-opened on the top floor of their building It is to be staffed and operated by the university; providing part-time jobs for students.
4. We all required that the outside of both buildings be restored to their respective 1946 and 1954 facades.
The last construction on Vipperman's was in 1946, following World War II. When this building was originally constructed in the 1920s, it was ornate with scroll-work and carvings as well as lots of mosaic tile. In the tile there many repetitious shapes, patterns and symbols used to give color and uniqueness to the building, including a repetitive swastika in the mosaic tile pattern. This was prior to Hitler's forever demonizing that ancient symbol.
I am told that the word "swastika" comes from the Sanskrit svastika??su? meaning "good," "asti" meaning "to be," and "ka" as a suffix. For over 3,000 years the symbol was used by diverse cultures meaning life, power good luck and strength. In World War I, American service divisions as well as the Finnish Air Force used the symbol. In those days, it was not uncommon to see the swastika on cigarette cases, coins, postcards and, of course, buildings. The New Mexico State University yearbook was called the ?Swastika?. There are many United States buildings built through the 1930s that have swastikas in their architecture which are now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. As a matter of fact, one of the first suburbs of Brockman was called ?Swastika? as was a community in Canada near Toronto. During World War II, the government of Ontario attempted to change the name; however, having been founded in 1906, the residents mounted a campaign and took the stand, ?To hell with Hitler, We came up with our name first!?
Something as simple as ?tile work? on an American building took on a sinister meaning to the Germanic immigrants of Brockman, Alabama when the news of the Nazi atrocities and the Third Reich began to be told in America. Papa condemned everything happening in Germany, and had the tile work on the building boarded over,