In the Carriage Club, a beautiful senior living community in Charlotte, NC, with picturesque views out of huge, light-filled windows, a true gem of PC’s history resides, and on March 23rd, I got to meet him. Along with Dr. Brent and Bluestocking photographer Kelly Cichon, I sat down with 87-year-old Reverend Jim Banbury, 1947 to 1948 editor of the Bluestocking.
All 25 copies of the Bluestocking from Banbury’s reign as editor were spread across a table, yellowed and brittle but wonderfully intact. Reverend Banbury’s son Bruce pointed out a few headlines to us in particular, all regarding an object of PC lore and legend: the Bronze Derby.
According to legend (and bluehose100.com, the site commemorating 100 years of PC football and basketball), this beloved tradition began at a PC v. Newberry basketball game at Newberry, where a Newberry student, Corrin Bowers, claims the Derby was swiped from his head.
But the Banburys remember it differently.
“Jimmy Kellett was just a kid on campus that dad was friends with that wore a derby all the time; that was his trademark,” Bruce said.
“That’s true,” Reverend Banbury piped in. “Unfortunately he went down to Newberry . . . to a basketball game we were playing, and next half of the game some guy comes by and snatches the hat . . . [there was] such a waylay of students that we couldn’t get organized enough to even run after the guy. So that started it.
“We did go on their campus to see if we couldn’t find it, and this was kind of dumb idea, too,” he said, chuckling in remembrance. According to Banbury, about 20 PC students entered the dormitory, and emerged Derby-less after a scuffle with Newberry students.
It was the athletic director of Newberry who suggested the hat be passed to the victor of each PC v. Newberry athletic event in order to ease tensions over the theft and use the Derby as a positive symbol of the rivalry. Newberry sent the Derby to a company in Ohio to be bronzed, which Banbury claims was his suggestion to avoid tattering the hat.
Banbury embodies the experience of the Derby in more ways than one. Not only was the idea of bronzing the derby his brainchild, but as the saga of the derby unfolded, Banbury chronicled the events in The Blue Stocking. The blow by blow of each derby exchange is safely etched in The Blue Stocking records of the PC archive, including the original theft of the derby from Kellett.
Besides blowing the dust of myth from the beloved PC tradition of the derby, Banbury himself represents a tradition that we at The Blue Stocking are proud to uphold. He entered PC in 1944 after being rejected by the army on account of his poor eyesight, and proceeded to participate in campus life with the gusto of a true Renaissance man, being active in everything from his editorial duties to the football team. After graduation, he had a 25-year career in journalism before entering Presbyterian ministry. As students and writers, we hope exude the same balance and success as our 1947-1948 editor.
The PC-Newberry rivalry ended in 2006, the last year before PC changed divisions. Having defeated Newberry in this historic final battle for the Bronze Derby, we house it safely in the display cases of Templeton Gym, a memento of Jim Banbury, Jimmy Kellett, and PC days gone by.