I am embarking on a journey; won’t you join me? This journey is to find the phoenix, a mythical scarlet bird. The story of this sought-after bird is that it rises from its own ashes, flying about the land of immortals. All of this continues until the phoenix reaches age of maturity, at this point it burns until it is back to its starting point of the ashes, continuing this process forever. Like this, The Phoenix of Pfeiffer University, founded in 1958, has each year continued the tradition of recreating itself rising from the metaphorical ashes from years before it.
The Phoenix, will soon be entering the 59th issue so it is a critical time to look back through our history of where this journey began: 1958. As a Co-Managing Editor of The Phoenix the history of the journal has always intrigued me. So now I will share this journey as I sit among the stacks in the library holding the journal. The first steps in this journey is looking at the cover, the discolored paper shows some wear from students thumbing through it. The color of the black ink still holds strong, un-faded except for a few well-worn places. The phoenix on the cover still as precise as when it first came to be in 1958. This cover design and size would go on to be re-used with different colors for nine journals after it. In fact, the design of the cover was originally created by one of the three faculty advisors at the time Rex V. Stambaugh. As the journal opens on its own, the pages are stiff from age, opening first to the story of the mythical bird, the journal’s namesake. The pages begin to flip again, the opening to the table of contents which shows the creative works to be discovered, these works include poetry, prose, and artwork. The category that has the largest number of works is poetry at twenty-two pieces in total, then prose has twelve, and art has two.
As the journey continues, it becomes clear that these genres are not broken up into sections, but are beautifully intertwined with each other, reading as if they belong side by side even though different people have created them. The pages of the journal begin to turn again to opening to the exact middle. This is where I find the two art pieces, marking where the middle of journal belongs, the only true evidence showing of this are the two staples that still hold strong to keep the pages secure to one another.
A breeze from an open window flips the pages again, this time stopping on page 25. At first nothing seems to be different from any other page. That is, until looking closer at the page number. Here lies a mark left by history, something that for years probably went unnoticed by everyone who started this journey of finding the phoenix. On top of the number 25 is a single fingerprint. Its owner, one can guess, belongs to whoever had contact with this page as the ink dried many years ago. During this period of time how the journal came together was that each piece was typed and printed by hand.
Finally, the most crucial part of this journey to find The Phoenix, the people who founded this journal making it even possible to have this journey. Without these founders of The Phoenix, we would not be able to take pride in the journal we now have. As I plan to soon discover though, the history of The Phoenix holds many unique details and stories that have yet to be discovered. The week of the September 18th we will continue this journey as we move a decade forward into another issue of The Phoenix.
The Staff of the 1958 Phoenix:
Editor- Bill Latham, Associate editor- Caroline Boyd, Assistant editor- Betty Davenport, Art editors- Jane Chambers and Rita Shumaker, Business manager- Pauline Griffin, Circulation manager- Rose Mary Miller, Faculty Advisors- Nancy D. McLaurin, H.E. Bowen, and Rex V. Stambaugh.