A Part of Tide Football History

One of the things the University of Alabama is doing this season is celebrating the 75th anniversary of Bryant-Denny Stadium. There have been some fine games played in the stadium's history, and one man who saw them will be back for 2004 helping The University celebrate the anniversary. Alexander M. Ingram will turn 90 years old three days before Alabama's homecoming contest with Southern Miss.

Ingram has been to every game in at (Bryant)-Denny Stadium since the 1950s, and this coming season, he will again walk three blocks from his home to size up this year's squad. He has seen all of Alabama's national championship teams play in person. He's also been to watch Alabama play in the Rose, Sugar, Cotton and Orange bowls at some point in his life.

Ingram grew up on Queen City Boulevard, and as a child he was on a neighborhood football team, "The Little Rascals", that on at least one occasion played at Denny Field (the original behind the President's Mansion). He graduated from Tuscaloosa High in 1934 and enrolled at UA in the fall of 1934 and graduated with a degree in Business in 1938. During this era he attended most UA games. He grew up just down the street from legendary Alabama broadcaster Mel Allen, and just a few blocks from Bert Bank, who is a World War II hero and an instrumental part of Alabama football radio broadcasts for over 50 years.

Ingram had a passing acquaintance with Dr. Denny and knew many members of the 1934 team, which he steadfastly maintains was the greatest team to ever wear Crimson. He also says that Dixie Howell, the left halfback on that team, was the player he ever saw. It was during this time he became acquainted with Claudia Taylor (later known as Lady Byrd Johnson) when she was a student in summer school at UA.

He was also in attendance at the first Alabama-Tennessee game of the modern era at the old Denny field in 1928. There was a parade before the game from downtown to the stadium. He attended the first game at what is now known as Bryant-Denny stadium in 1929.

Following his graduation he worked in banking in Birmingham until he entered the Army in 1940. He later was assigned to the Army Air Corps. Following his training he was assigned to the 94th Bomb Group of the 8th Air Force in Bury St. Edmunds, England. From there he flew 35 combat missions as a ball turret gunner on a B-17 Flying Fortress. He speaks most often of a mission over Brux, Czechoslavkia in May, 1944, that saw over 300 American bombers shot down. During one of the missions he was frostbitten when his electric suit malfunctioned. He still suffers from that injury today.

After the War he returned to the University to what was then "Radio and Television School", now the Department of Communication. When he completed that he moved to Anniston where he worked in radio in the 1950's. During this time he personally attended most Bama football games, even during the dismal 1955-1957 era. He was present at Coach Bryant's first game at UA in Mobile in 1958.

In 1960 he returned to Tuscaloosa and worked in the UA Law Library until his retirement around 1980. During the Bryant years he attended most all UA home games, a fair number of road games, and several of the bowl games.

Note: A special thank you is due to Tony Riley, who befriended Mr. Ingram while a student at the University in 1984 and has continued their relationship since. Mr. Riley provided much of the background information used in the story.

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