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News from the Hilltop

Aug. 9, 2013

BSC alum's teaching legacy remembered in collection of short stories and memories

BIRMINGHAM, Ala.—Carl Martin Hames' teaching legacy has been honored posthumously in the recently published book Larger Than Life: Memories of Carl Martin Hames, a collaboration by Scott Fuller, one of his former students at the Altamont School in Birmingham, and Carolyn Ratliff, one of the school's trustees.Carl Martin Hames

Hames graduated from BSC in 1958 with honors. He died in 2002. The book is a tribute to the famed Altamont educator and headmaster, who loved art and poetry.

Larger Than Life features personal essays, anecdotes, and recollections of Hames by more than 70 of his old students, Altamont faculty members, and others who knew him well, including authors Charles Gaines '64, Warren St. John, and Fannie Flagg, and current Altamont faculty members Thomas Goldsmith, Jim Palmer, and Jimmy Wiygul, among others.

Many recall the passion and liveliness with which Hames taught English and history at Birmingham University School (B.U.S.), which later merged with Brooke Hill to become the Altamont School. Two of the most popular classes that he taught were "Giotto to Talleyrand" and "America in the 20th Century." He also led many school trips to New York.

Under his direction, the Altamont School doubled in size and underwent a successful physical plant renovation. Hames was an art connoisseur and built a formidable collection of paintings, photographs, sculptures, and tapestries that have become a hallmark of the institution.

"... Martin Hames's effect on the lives of his students was real, profound, and in many cases, life-changing," wrote St. John, a former Altamont student, in the book. "This was in part because so few of us had ever been exposed to such a dedicated and genuine polymath—a man who covered nearly every inch of wall space in his small home with the works of artists he admired and championed; a man who directed plays year-in and year-out; who led tours of Egypt and Greece, and of college campuses all over the country; who loved books and films and music and food and drink and perhaps above all, company."

Hames received a BSC Distinguished Alumni Award in 1993. His name still resonates in the Birmingham community today.

Larger Than Life can be purchased for $35—including shipping—at www.martinhames.com as well as at many local bookstores.

About Birmingham-Southern College:

Birmingham-Southern College is a four-year, private liberal arts institution in Birmingham, Ala., founded in 1856 and affiliated with the United Methodist Church. It enrolls about 1,200 students from more than 30 states and 16 foreign countries. Learn more online at www.bsc.edu.