Norway: Richard Donoghue M ’79 (ENG)
Rich and his wife Jane visited Jane’s relatives, attended cousins birthday party, and toured Oslo, Bodo, and Trondheim. He is shown here in front of a palace in Oslo.
Rich and his wife Jane visited Jane’s relatives, attended cousins birthday party, and toured Oslo, Bodo, and Trondheim. He is shown here in front of a palace in Oslo.
Since forever, I’ve wanted to be a teacher. But my mom always told me I was going to be a lawyer. Coming to Clemson has meant figuring out that we were both right. Meanwhile, I’ve been able to make the most of my time in a place that truly had everything I was looking for in a college: small campus, great variety of courses, amazing athletics, beautiful campus and a big-family atmosphere.
I came here through the Call Me MISTER® program, majoring in elementary education, but I’ve also been able to pursue a history minor. That’s meant taking some of the political science courses that will serve me well when I go to law school in four or five years — after I’ve had an opportunity to teach and serve in an elementary school setting.
My freshman year, I took part in the Clemson Cup public speaking competition. My topic addressed the transition we were facing between a retiring president and a new one. I won, and that was an amazing opportunity that I will never, ever forget.
For one thing, I was the first freshman to ever win. Also, earning the Cup gave me the chance to speak at Clemson’s commencement, which was incredible, in no small part because it showed me how far I’ve come with my public speaking: When I was in high school, I took part in a Future Business Leaders of America speaking competition. The first year I competed, I came in last place. The second year I was determined to improve, and I won, which allowed me to represent the entire state of South Carolina and place 27th nationally.
I’m sure my public speaking skills will come in handy as an attorney. In the meantime, I’m enjoying every second of college life, whether it’s giving campus tours, cheering on my Tigers as a member of Central Spirit, serving as an Orientation ambassador or just hanging out on Campus Beach on a Friday night.
Bradford dropped the tailgate, leaned in and wrapped his arms around his family’s past and future.
It was a watermelon the size of a toddler. Dark green, slightly ribbed along its oblong flanks, weighing about 30 pounds, a classic Bradford watermelon.
“This is for you,” said Bradford. “If I picked right, this will be the sweetest, best-tasting watermelon you have ever eaten.”
That night, my wife and I had watermelon for supper. We had to eat half of it just to get the rest into the refrigerator. The sweetness was superb, but it was the flavor that won out. The melon tasted like the watermelons I ate when I was a kid in the ’50s. That is the Bradford signature — a flavor of memories.
The Bradfords have been growing their watermelons for more than 170 years. In all those years, it’s doubtful they made enough from their melons to buy a new truck. Most of the melons were given away to friends and neighbors in Sumter, where the sandy soil is well suited for a melon patch.
Others did make money. In the late 1800s and early 1900s Bradford melons were sold commercially, as was seed to gardeners. Along came melons that were easier to grow, store and ship, pushing the big green melons back to family patches cared for by seed keepers who passed on their know-how and best seeds from generation to generation.
Bradford is the eighth generation in his line to take up the hoe. This time there’s more at stake than a good harvest. Bradford is sowing the seeds for his family’s future. He’s also determined that the Bradford watermelon will help to make the world a better place for thirsty people.
With two year’s experience growing melons part-time, the Bradfords are making a move. This summer, Nat and Bette Bradford and their five children will resettle from Seneca to Sumter. They are returning to the Bradford family farm to grow a life on 12 acres. They will raise watermelons and other crops sustainably, without irrigation and chemicals. They will sell some fresh watermelons and use the rest to make watermelon rind pickles, watermelon molasses and distilled spirits. Seeds from the best melons will be saved.
Money from fresh market sales will support Watermelons for Water. In its third year, the family’s foundation helps people in need of clean, dependable water. A project the Bradfords fund in Tanzania is well underway.
It’s a big dream, but Bradford watermelons are big melons.
It’s hard to imagine a melon that immense becoming a melon of mystery. The Bradford went from being one of the most popular melons to near extinction.
By the 1850s, the Bradford watermelon had developed a reputation for sweetness and for its edible rind. The crisp meat of the melon, ranging from pale pink to deep red imbedded with white seeds, was a sugary treat to eat fresh. The high-sugar content also made it a favorite for making watermelon molasses. A thin white rind, which turns translucent amber in cooking, made delicious watermelon pickles. “They are very nice and will keep for two years,” writes Maria Massey Barringer, in Dixie Cookery, or How I Managed My Table for Twelve Years: A Practical Cook-Book for Southern Housekeepers.
A melon of such quality did not just appear. It was the offspring of good stock and careful breeding. Nathaniel Napoleon Bradford was part of agrarian bloom in the South. Farmer-experimenters shared seeds and sought to raise fruits, grains and vegetables that were both hardy and flavorful.
Agricultural societies, such as the Pendleton Farmers Society to which Thomas Green Clemson belonged, published journals detailing their efforts and observations. Nurseries offered catalogs of their stock. More than simple inventories, nurserymen described and critiqued plants.
The research made its way to the marketplace. The Bradford became a late-season market melon sold throughout the South. It was a popular melon, but flawed in the eyes of truck-produce shippers who sought to expand their sales to other regions. Breeders developed “boxcar melons” with “rhino-rinds” that made them tough enough to be stacked nine high without crushing. The bowling ball watermelons lumped in cartons at grocery stores are the latest varieties bred more for commerce than flavor.
The Bradford withered in popularity. Once grown in seven states, by 1925 it was grown only in South Carolina, where it hung on by a tendril. One of our nation’s founding watermelons would have been lost had it not been for one man.
Nobody knows how he came to be called “Chief,” the man who was Nat Bradford’s great grandfather, Linwood Bonneau Bradford. “I’ve known about him from family stories, but I did not meet him,” says Bradford. Family stories tend to deal with family doings — births, deaths, marriages, vacations — and not about growing watermelons. Fortunately, someone wrote about Chief and his watermelons.
Clemson was a good fit for Bradford. He found a major that nurtured his passion for growing plants. He found sport that matched his enjoyment of teamwork. He found love.
“I tried a couple of majors, and then I took a course in horticulture, and I knew this is what I wanted to do,” says Bradford. “I was made for rowing and set my sights on the Olympics.”
While his dream of going for the gold faded, romance bloomed.
“My friends said he liked me,” says Bette Ritchie Bradford ’97. “I knew about him as the guy who always talked about his family’s watermelons.”
Before they could begin their lives together, Bradford had his degree to complete.
Majoring in landscape architecture, Bradford had an internship at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. There, he worked on his senior exit paper.
“I wanted to do it on the Bradford watermelons,” says Bradford. “I knew about Chief — we had Jim Eleazer’s book — but I didn’t know for sure much more.”
The gardens had a collection of old horticulture journals and catalogs. Bradford came across a document from the 1860s. It stunned him.
It was a vegetable critique, listing best choices for home gardens for that period. Bradford looked for watermelons. He found his name.
“Oh my gosh, I said to myself,” remembers Bradford “Could it be the same Bradford watermelon? What was the connection? Why didn’t we hear about this in the family growing up?”
Bradford began searching for more information. He hit a dead end.
“This was before Google,” says Bradford. “I couldn’t get online and see if there was some connection there or not.”
Life goes on, ready or not. Bette and Nat married. They started a family and Eco Art, a landscape design and installation business.
Twelve years passed. Meanwhile, Google blinked awake, ready to answer a world of questions.
In 2012 Bradford went to a sustainable agriculture conference in Greenville, reviving his quest. Was the watermelon mentioned in the 1860s the same one that his family had been growing?
“I knew in my heart of hearts it was, and now I had Google,” says Bradford. He didn’t find the answer. But he found someone who did.
David Shields, a professor at the University of South Carolina, is an international expert on Southern food history, particularly agriculture journals, catalogs, cookbooks and seed lists.
“He had his own list of vegetables that shaped the food waves of America and, in particular, in the Southeast,” says Bradford. “I figured this guy must know something, and so I sent him an email and introduced myself.”
Bradford hit the send key after midnight. When he woke he had mail.
“I had an email waiting for me at nine in the morning with this big, ‘Oh my gosh. I’ve been looking for this watermelon for the past 10 years,’” recalls Bradford.
Shields knew the heritage of the Bradford melon, providing new information. “He had every one of my forefathers mentioned, and who had handed down to who (sic). I didn’t even have that information. It was really cool.”
[pullquote]Bradford learned his family watermelon was dropped from sight in 1922, when an Augusta, Georgia, seed company stopped carrying the seed.[/pullquote]
“I know our family never shared in any of the commercial success of the watermelon because it was always kept local,” says Bradford. “The seeds had spread, migrated north and then lost appeal.”
Shields wanted to know from Bradford one thing — the only thing that mattered. Were there any Bradford watermelon seeds?
Bradford had some, but he would need seed from other years to blend the genetics for top quality melons. He went to Sumter to search where Paa Paa may have saved the seed.
“I went back to his old house that winter and found where he was keeping his seeds. It was the last of our Bradford watermelon seeds other than the ones that I’d been keeping for the last 20 or so years. He saved those from 1990 to ’93, and that’s really when I took over to breed and keep the line going.”
Summer 2013, Bradford planted two small plots, one in Sumter, the other in Seneca. He couldn’t have picked a worse year. It was one of the wettest years on record. Vegetables rotted in fields. Gov. Nikki Haley declared a disaster for growers. Bradford was nervous, but he trusted in the ways passed on to him.
“We plant 12 seeds in a hill,” says Bradford. “Then when they first sprout up, we thin them down to about five or six of the strongest plants, and then from there we thin them down to two per hill. It sounds wasteful, but what we did, in effect, is we selected naturally for the two strongest plants, per hill, for a cold, wet summer in South Carolina. That’s something that modern agriculture doesn’t account for, doesn’t take into account in their food model. But it works. We had over 100-percent yield, 465 watermelons out of 440 plants, which was tremendous.”
Delighted by the abundant harvest, Shields expected to see South Carolina’s heritage watermelon return to markets and kitchens. Bradford, unfortunately, had made other plans for the melons. They were bound for a distiller in Alabama.
Shields is devoted to restoring the crops and foods that nourished and flavored the South, especially the South Carolina Lowcountry. There is hardly a Charleston chef who hasn’t consulted Shields on vegetables, grains and meats of the Carolina Rice Kitchen, the cooking and ingredients of coastal Carolina. Shields called a friend who could save the watermelons from leaving South Carolina.
The friend, founder-owner of Anson Mills, has restored the good name of flavorful and nutritious grits and revived Carolina Gold rice, a dietary and economic staple of the coast until rice cultivation collapsed in the Carolinas. Glenn Roberts persuaded Bradford that there was a far better destination than Alabama.
[pullquote]Bradford hauled a trailer carrying 300 melons to the Holy City. Fifty of the melons — their seeds to be saved — went to McCrady’s, Chef Sean Brock’s highly rated restaurant in Charleston.[/pullquote] Bradford still gets a kick out of the photo where the chefs and staff stacked the melons on the stairs to the kitchen. The pulp was boiled down to make watermelon molasses, the rind made into pickles.
The rest of the melons, selling for $20 apiece, sold out immediately.
Chef Forrest Parker drove from Greenville to buy Bradfords. In a comment connected to a digital news story about the melons, Parker raved: “I brought the first of these up to High Cotton Greenville from Charleston this morning. We tasted with the team this afternoon, and they were, in a word, revelatory. Completely fantastic. We all just sat there giggling like little kids. Just fantastic.”
Praise from chefs will help spread the word about Bradford melons. The local foods and farm-to-table trend continues to grow. Still, fresh watermelons sales are a seasonal and risky moneymaker.
Until they’re settled in Sumter, Bradford will continue his landscaping business. Like with most family farms, a job in town is essential to make ends meet. The goal is to go all in.
To have that happen, Nat and Bette Bradford will use the whole melon — from rind to seed.
The first of the Bradford family product line is watermelon-rind pickles. Other items soon will be available, including molasses and vinegar. Recently, High Wire Distillery in Charleston made a batch of watermelon brandy. Diversifying, Bradford collards will find a spot on the family farm. Other heritage produce is sure to follow.
“Here, a gift,” says Bradford, handing me a quart Mason jar of watermelon-rind pickles when I visited.
Grateful for the generosity, I counter with cash. Bette folds the money and nods thanks.
There are no sustainable farms without sustainable farmers.
Learn more about Bradford watermelons.
Peter Kent is a news editor and writer for Clemson’s Public Service Activities.
When Randy Smith graduated from Clemson in 1966, he had some unusual options to consider. A lineman for Coach Frank Howard, he was drafted by the New York Jets (AFL) and the Atlanta Falcons (NFL).
But driven by a desire to serve others, he chose medical school over professional football, graduating from the Medical College of Georgia in 1970. That desire has resulted not only in a successful private practice in plastic and reconstructive surgery in Augusta, Georgia, but a lifetime of service as a volunteer surgeon in developing countries. In trips across Central and South America, Asia, Europe and Africa, he has made dramatic differences in the lives of thousands of children and families, while working “with limited water, no laboratory and rudimentary instruments.”
This spring, he traveled back to Palestine, his ninth trip to the region, where he performed surgery at the Ramallah Medical Complex on children with burns and congenital deformities. The Palestine Children’s Relief Fund honored him in 2013 for his dedication and work in that area, one of a number of local and international recognitions he has received for his humanitarian efforts.
This past year, his high school, Richmond Academy, inducted him into their Hall of Fame. Smith is a founder and board chair of Georgia Bank and Trust and chair emeritus of University Health Inc., the governing board of University Hospital in Augusta.
It’s not all just work and service, though. In 2014, Smith completed his fifth Iron Man Augusta competition, which involved swimming 1.2 miles in the Savannah River, biking 56 miles in South Carolina and running 13.1 miles in downtown Augusta.
Living by the motto, “getting is in the giving,” Smith has been recognized for his humanitarian work and civic involvement by Clemson as well, as a recipient of an honorary doctorate (1997) and the Distinguished Service Award (2008).
Golden Tiger Reunion
June 11-12, 2015
Madren Conference Center
The 2015 Golden Tiger Reunion will be held Thursday and Friday, June 11–12, at the Madren Conference Center. We will be celebrating the class of 1965 with the Golden Tiger induction ceremony. Make your plans to join us this summer! Call the Martin Inn at 888-654-9020 for reservations. For more information and registration details, go to alumni.clemson.edu/reunion.
Welcome Back Festival
Aug. 17, 2015
Join us to kick off the school year at the annual Welcome Back Festival, sponsored by the Alumni Association and the Student Alumni Council. College Avenue is closed down and local restaurants, businesses and University organizations line the street with food tastings, prizes and merchandise from more than 70 vendors. Entry is free; food and merchandise can be purchased with 50-cent tickets sold to raise money for the Student Alumni Council Endowment Scholarship Fund. If your company is interested in being a vendor, contact Stewart Summers at 864-656-5653.
Alumni Golf Tournament
Sept. 11, 2015
Walker Golf Course
Join us for the 6th annual Alumni Golf Tournament on Friday, September 11, 2015, at the John E. Walker Sr. Golf Course on the Clemson campus. Limited to 20 teams, this tournament is an opportunity to compete for bragging rights as the best Clemson Alumni golf foursome and the chance to represent Clemson on the national stage at the Acura College Alumni Team Championship at Pinehurst in October. Sponsorships also are available, beginning at $250 and ranging to $5,000. For more information and to register, contact Randy Boatwright at email@example.com or visit alumni.clemson.edu/alumni-golf-challenge.
On a hot July day in 2011, Luke Yoder was watering the infield dirt to keep the dust down — as he does before every home game — when a grounds crew member caught his eye. The man was gesturing frantically, pointing at a mound of turf that was rising, alien-like, near the left field line. Yoder dropped his hose and ran over to it. It was 3:15 p.m. The game was due to start at 3:35.
On reaching the spot, he saw that the bubble, now two-feet high, was surrounded by an 8-by-4-foot square of wet turf, and when he bent down and touched the area, it rippled like a water bed. It was now 3:20 p.m. The stands were filled with spectators and the team was warming up.
Yoder ran and shut off the water main to stop the pressure from building. “Then I switched into surgical mode, snatched a knife and made a four-inch cut in the bubble. Water immediately gushed out,” Yoder recalls. It was 3:25. As the groundskeeper reached into the hole to determine its depth, his arm sunk up to his shoulder. “I grabbed four bags of Diamond Dry, a drying agent that’s like kitty litter, and filled the hole with it,” he says.
Yoder prepared to tell the umpires to delay the game. If that happened, it would make the news on ESPN, and even though the problem with the turf wasn’t his fault, Yoder’s bosses would not be happy. Even more important, the area could be a safety hazard. A player stepping into a 3-foot hole could be badly injured.
With six minutes until game time, Yoder stood for the national anthem. Then he tamped down the Diamond Dry, checked that it was packed solid, and breathed a sigh of relief as he hurried off the field. This was definitely not a typical day at work.
As a kid, Yoder never thought he’d end up working for a ballpark. The summer of his junior year in high school, on a family visit to his grandfather’s farm in Ohio, an uncle took him to the elite country club where he worked as golf course superintendent. “I was amazed at how meticulously the fairways were maintained. They looked like carpets,” Yoder says. He had a lawn cutting business at the time, and his uncle was the one who suggested that the teen study horticulture because he knew his nephew liked being outside. Yoder decided to study horticultural turfgrass management at Clemson.
Because he wasn’t sure he’d get in, he and his parents were thrilled when he got accepted. Between the biochemistry and physiology, the coursework didn’t come easy, he admits. But with discipline, his GPA rose every semester.
Yoder worked for a golf course his first three summers during college, and during the year he worked at the turfgrass research plots on campus, which gave him a chance to apply what he learned in class. “I assumed I’d work on golf courses, like most students in my major at the time, but my adviser suggested I try sports turf, or athletic turf management, to make sure I wouldn’t be missing anything,” he says. As it turned out, the summer before he graduated in December 1994, he worked for the Greenville Braves and fell in love with ballparks.
His first job was as head groundskeeper with the Sioux City Explorers in Iowa. Then he moved to the Iowa Cubs, followed by the Pittsburgh Pirates, which proved to him that sports turf could be a viable career. He’s been with the Padres for almost 12 years.
Turfgrass management requires knowledge of both art and science; the former, for the design and aesthetics of both the grassy areas and the dirt, or skinned areas, and the latter, because of diseases and insects that can affect the grass and plants. [pullquote]The Clemson alumnus gained his artistic skills on the job and his scientific knowledge from his college classes like plant pathology and ornamental plant diseases.[/pullquote]
Ask him his favorite part of the job, and he rattles off a litany of favorite tasks instead. Being outside every day. The smell of fresh-cut grass. Getting his hands dirty. Traveling to the Padres’ minor league fields, which takes him to places such as El Paso, Texas, and the Dominican Republic. “Just showing up to the ballpark every day is something a million people would love to do, and it never gets old. I get to work on, be in charge of and mold the biggest parcel of natural grass in downtown San Diego. It’s like a canvas for our artwork,” he explains.
Baseball has more of a home-field advantage than other sports, Yoder maintains, because aspects of the field can be manipulated to give a team a leg up. “Take the grass,” he says. A football or soccer field is all grass; it doesn’t make much difference how high you cut it. But if you cut a baseball field one quarter of an inch higher or lower, it affects how far the ball will roll into the infield and favors different pitchers or hitters.
Then there are the skinned areas, Yoder continues. In baseball, 70 percent of the field is played on these areas, so you might make the area in front of home plate extremely soft if you have a sinker-ball pitcher on your team. Since batters will be more likely to hit ground balls, that can help with getting an easy out. Or, if you have a batter up against a sinker-ball pitcher on the other team, you could make the area hard so your team has the advantage.
Yoder may not wear a Padres uniform, but he says that “to be able to work with the players and give them an edge” makes him feel part of the team. And the team, in turn, would likely describe him as a most valuable player.
Yoder, whose family is from Greenville, may live on the opposite side of the country now, but he tries to get home for at least one Clemson football game a year. If there’s one thing he has taken with him, it’s his Clemson pride. His sister and two brothers also attended Clemson, and if his math is correct, he calculates that for 16 years straight there was a Yoder attending the University.
Pat Olsen is a freelance writer based in New Jersey. Photos by San Diego Padres
Perched on a hill overlooking Bowman Field, Clemson House has been home to faculty, staff, students and the families of more than one president over the past 65 years. Constructed in 1950 by Daniel Construction Company of Greenville, it was known as “Carolina’s smartest hotel.”
When it first opened, Clemson House featured a large dining room on the first floor, a club (non-alcoholic) on the lower level, seven stories of rooms and apartments, and a penthouse with the best view in town.
Originally intended to house faculty, staff and retired faculty, the apartment-style hotel was first pressed into limited service for student housing in the early 1970s.
The barbershop on the first level has weathered six decades of changing hair styles, offering both haircuts and conversation. Clemson House was also home to a radio station and broadcasting facility from the 1950s until the early ’80s.
In 1973, President Robert Edwards recommended changes to transition Clemson House into a dorm, but said that full-time residents could remain as long as they wished. None had the staying power of architecture professor Joe Young, who had been the first full-time resident in 1950. After five decades, Young said his goodbyes in 2000. The penthouse is named for him, as well as “Joe’s Place,” the bar located at the Madren Conference Center.
* Note: Corrected on 5/28/15 to reflect that the radio station housed at Clemson House from the 1950s until the early ’80s was not a student station. Thanks to Van Fair (the “F” in WSBF) for that correction.
Clemson World brought home three awards from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education’s District III conference in February. The magazine won a Grand Award in the category of Magazine III, which includes universities with 15,000+ students, as well as a Grand Award in the category of “Magazine or Publication Rendering for Tablet or Mobile Technology.” The magazine also won a special merit award for magazine improvement.
CASE is a professional association serving educational institutions and the advancement professionals who work on their behalf in alumni relations, communications, development, marketing and allied areas. District III includes nine Southeastern states.
Four programs at Clemson will be enhanced this year by a $115,000 grant from the Duke Energy Foundation.
PEER (Programs for Educational Enrichment and Retention), which helps freshman minority students adjust to college life; WISE, which supports females in engineering and science majors; EMAGINE!, which encourages middle and high school students to consider engineering as a career; and a teacher education course that introduces S.C. teachers to the educational resources at the Duke Energy Bad Creek Hydroelectric Station will share in the grant.
“Education has always been a focal point of our commitment to corporate giving,” said Scott Miller, government and community relations manager with Duke Energy. “We have long been proud to partner with Clemson University to support efforts that continue to make a difference in the lives of so many students and teachers in the Palmetto State.”
In what has become an annual spring event, Clemson alumni and friends turned the State House orange on March 3 for “Clemson at the State House.” Clemson’s governmental affairs office held informational sessions about legislation that affects Clemson and how Clemson impacts the state. Both the Senate and the House proclaimed the day “Clemson Day at the State House.”
Senators and representatives who are also Clemson alumni came forward for the proclamation, read by Senator Thomas Alexander ’78 in the Senate and Representative Gary Clary ’70 in the House.
Legislators joined alumni and friends for a festive evening gathering at Senate’s End featuring remarks by President Jim Clements, coach Dabo Swinney and board chair David Wilkins.
For information about how you can be a member of the Clemson Advocates Program, a grassroots volunteer advocacy group that seeks to engage, inform and encourage alumni and friends to communicate with members of the South Carolina General Assembly and other elected officials regarding issues of importance to Clemson and higher education, go to clemson.edu/alumni and click on “Get Involved.”