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Student Spotlight

Updated: Jun 25, 2018

Jake Satisky


It is not uncommon for college students to have jobs in order to make a little cash during the school year or right after they finish their studies. At Duke, students work at library desks, restaurants, the Hospital, at West Union, among others. But look around at the many construction projects scattered on campus today, and you won’t see many Duke students donning hard hats or using power tools. Duke subcontractors would never hire a current college student with all the liability concerns attached. However, that was not the case 80 years ago, when current and recently-graduated Duke students could be found aiding in the construction of West Campus.


Needless to say, all the students listed here are white men, since Duke did not integrate until 1963. Many are also athletes, and prominent ones at that: there are several team captains and members of Tombs (an upperclassman athletic secret society). It is possible that scholarships were not like they are today, so these students needed to make some extra money to afford tuition, like the work-study program Duke currently has in place. Of course, as athletes, these students had the requisite strength to handle the manual labor of construction. Regardless of their athletic status, all of the student workers exemplify the still-relevant topic of university affordability. While many Duke students came and still come from privilege, there are many others who had to work for their education. The student workers also demonstrate the difficulties of the Great Depression, where finding a job was extremely difficult and affording college even trickier. 


 

Spencer Lee Hawkins

Painter, Carpenter, Laborer



Spencer Lee Hawkins, Class of ’30, was mainly a painter, but also worked as a carpenter and laborer. His pay climbed steadily, rising from $0.30 to $0.45 an hour in five cent increments over the course of a couple years. Born in Charlotte, North Carolina, Hawkins was an involved athlete: he played baseball all four years, as well as some basketball and football; he was also a member of Tombs and the Varsity Clubs, two athletic clubs. He was a member of Alpha Kappa Psi fraternity.¹


 

Benjamin Fred Grigg

Painter, Paint Foreman



Benjamin Fred Grigg, Class of ’27, was born in Gastonia, North Carolina and worked as a painter and paint foreman for $0.50 an hour. He went by Fred, though his friends called him “Daddy,” according to his Chanticleer write-up. “Daddy” played varsity football all four years, making All-State tackle twice and captaining the team as a junior. In addition, he was in Beta Sigma Omega, Delta Delta, Tombs, the Varsity Club, and the Athletic Council, not to mention the fact that he “won recognition as an artist."²


 

Ed B. Timmons, Jr.

Laborer



Ed B. Timmons, Jr., Class of ’31, was a laborer making $0.30 an hour. From Charlotte, North Carolina, he was in Sigma Nu Sigma fraternity.³









 

Lee H. Davis

Painter



Lee H. Davis was actually a law student at Duke in the Class of '31. He worked as a painter for $0.35 and $0.40 during the summers of 1929 and 1930. From Waynesville, North Carolina, he played varsity football—and captained the team one year—while also a member of Omicron Delta Kappa and Sigma Nu Phi.⁴




 

William Wesley Stanfield

Painter, Painter's Helper



William Wesley Stanfield, Class of ’28, worked on campus as a painter and painter’s helper for $0.30 an hour. Known as “Stub,” he was born in July 1905 in Jonesboro, North Carolina. Stanfield was “always ready to perform a good deed for anyone, and his heart is open to all,” according to his write-up in the Chanticleer. Fitting description, since he worked as a surgeon in Durham until his death in December 1974.⁵





 

Hectar Paul Strickland

Painter, Laborer



Hectar Paul Strickland was in the Law School Class of '30. When he wasn’t studying law, he made $0.30 an hour as a painter and laborer over the summer of 1928. The Dunn, North Carolina native was a member of the Samuel Fox Mordecai Law Society.⁶






 

Emory E. Adkins

Laborer, Painter



Emory E. Adkins, Class of ’31, made $0.30 and 32.5¢ an hour as a laborer and painter during the summer of 1928. He was originally from Durham, and he was a member of Sigma Chi fraternity. Adkins played football while also in the Varsity Club, and he later became an athletic coach in Durham.⁷






 

Marion P. Bolich

Painter



Marion P. Bolich, Class of '28, painted during the summer of 1928 for $0.30 an hour. He was from Winston-Salem, North Carolina and played football all four years. Bolich also was a Kappa Alpha and Beta Omega Sigma member.⁸









 

Coke Candler

Laborer



Coke Candler, Class of '29, worked during June 1930 as a laborer for $0.30 an hour. He was very active at Duke: he played basketball and football; ran track and cross-country; and was president of the senior class. The Candler, North Carolina native was also a Red Friar.⁹








 

Vernie Okle Jones






Vernie “Monk” Okle Jones, Law School ’30, was from Weaverville, North Carolina and was in Sigma Delta and Omega Delta Kappa.¹⁰









 

John Jankoski



John Jankoski, Class of ’30, from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, played both football and basketball and was a member of the Varsity Club as well as Delta Sigma Phi.¹¹










 

Richard D. Noel

Painter



Richard D. Noel, Class of '31, painted limited hours during the fall of 1927 for $0.30 an hour. He was from Athens, Tennessee and swam his freshman and sophomore years. Noel was also in Delta Tau Delta.¹²












 

Charles Lamar Fair

Laborer



Charles "Charlie" Lamar Fair, Class of '30, came from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and worked as a laborer for $0.25 an hour. He was not listed for many hours on the ledger, probably because he was also a boxing manager, an actor, a writer for the Chanticleer, and a member of Delta Tau Delta and Hesperian Literary Society.¹³








 

Disclaimer: The student workers described above—with the exception of Okle Jones and John Jankowski—were listed on the University Treasury Department Ledgers and found in the Chanticleer (Duke’s yearbook) on Ancestry.com.¹⁴ There is nothing on Ancestry, the Chanticleer, nor the ledgers positively affirming their worker status, but they were the only feasible names that showed up and it is not a stretch to imagine students making some money on the side by working on the construction of Duke’s new campus. They also tended to work during the summer or work fewer-than-average hours during the school year.



 

  1. Duke University, Chanticleer (Durham, NC: 1930), Duke University Archives, Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Durham, NC.

  2. Duke University, Chanticleer (Durham, NC: 1927), Duke University Archives, Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Durham, NC.

  3. Duke University, Chanticleer (Durham, NC: 1930), Duke University Archives, Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Durham, NC.

  4. Ibid.

  5. Duke University, Chanticleer (Durham, NC: 1928), Duke University Archives, Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Durham, NC.

  6. Duke University, Chanticleer (Durham, NC: 1930), Duke University Archives, Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Durham, NC.

  7. Ibid.

  8. Duke University, Chanticleer (Durham, NC: 1928), Duke University Archives, Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Durham, NC.

  9. Duke University, Chanticleer (Durham, NC: 1929), Duke University Archives, Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Durham, NC.

  10. Duke University, Chanticleer (Durham, NC: 1930), Duke University Archives, Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Durham, NC.

  11. Ibid.

  12. Ibid.

  13. Ibid.

  14. Payroll at Duke University, 1927-1930, Boxes 32-33, Office of the University Treasurer, Duke University Archives, Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Durham, N.C.

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