Cham Trotter has a family history with Ole Miss that very few could ever compare.
Because of this, it’s fitting that he is only one of two individuals known who possesses all (the complete collection) of Ole Miss annuals. HottyToddy.com caught up with Cham just prior to his upcoming departure to China.
HottyToddy.com: Cham, before we get into the yearbooks, tell us about the Captain of the 1909 football team and then let’s discuss other family members.
Cham: My grandfather, W. C. “Chuck” Trotter, was a four-year letterman and Captain of the 1909 football team. He later served as Financial Secretary of The University from 1936 to 1956.
HottyToddy.com: You also have a family member (we believe) who was a founding father of the University. Is this recollection accurate?
Cham: My great, great, great grandfather, Pryor Lea, was a member of the original Board of Trustees that founded The University in 1844. My great grandfather, W.C. Bryant, graduated in 1882. My other grandfather, W.I. Stone, finished in 1902. My mother, Sally Stone Trotter, graduated in 1946. My brother, my three children, a niece and nephew, many aunts, uncles, and cousins also graduated from Ole Miss.
HottyToddy.com: Your son was a student (different disciplines) for 16 consecutive years. This has got to be a record, one would think.
Cham: My son, Dr. McLean Trotter, began as a freshman in 1992 and finished a fellowship in interventional cardiology in 2008. With undergraduate school, medical school, residency, and two cardiology fellowships in between. His sixteen consecutive years as a student passing all his courses is, I believe, a record.
HottyToddy.com: When you graduated, what generation of Trotters did this represent?
Cham: Steve, when you and I graduated in1969, I became a fourth generation Ole Miss graduate.
HottyToddy.com: Finally getting around to the annuals, how difficult was it obtaining the entire collection (1897-2015)?
Cham: In acquiring a complete set of Ole Miss annuals through 2016, I started by having over twenty books in my family. I began in 2000 with a goal of getting all published annuals. This labor of love took until 2008 to complete. Remember, everyone in a yearbook is permanently twenty-one years old!
HottyToddy.com: Which years were most difficult to locate?
Cham: The difficult ones to obtain were the ones between 1900 and the early 1920s. Because of the small student body size, not many were printed and they are now very scarce.
HottyToddy.com: In the early years (say 1897-1906), what (if anything) jumped off the pages at you for being most unique?
Cham: The early years are unique in that they were originally published by the fraternities. There was no uniformity of size of the books, but I have always been struck by the quality of the photography and artwork.
HottyToddy.com: Why do you think after being open for 50 years that 1897 became the breakthrough year for publishing a yearbook?
Cham: Many other universities began publishing yearbooks in the late 1800s. I imagine that The University of Mississippi also followed that trend.
HottyToddy.com: The Trotters of the 1860’s were impacted how by “The War”?
Cham: The Civil War affected my family first with a great, great grandfather arguing vehemently, to no avail, against secession at the convention in Jackson. I have direct ancestors who were confederate soldiers, but my Bailey ancestors, after the war were able to purchase the Sheegog Home in Oxford in which they lived until my great grandmother, Sallie Bailey Bryant sold the home to William Faulkner. He renamed the home Rowan Oak and the surrounding property is still called Bailey’s Woods.
HottyToddy.com: The University Greys have always fascinated me…the entire story of their heroism and dedication. Was a Trotter among them?
Cham: None of my family were members of The University Greys. However, that first 1897 “Ole Miss” yearbook is dedicated to them.
HottyToddy.com: Returning to the yearbooks, which year is your favorite and why?
Cham: To choose a favorite yearbook is like telling which of my children I love the best. Nevertheless, I really enjoy 1909 for its quality and the pictures of my grandfather. 1919 was dedicated to World War 1 veterans. 1938 and 1939 are really quality books with great color. 1958 and 1959 are well designed during the era of Coach Vaught and Miss Americas. My favorite recent annual is 1980. The late Buster Turner of Belzoni was editor and it is really a stand-out yearbook.
HottyToddy.com: After you and your lovely wife, Jane, leave this world, where will the collection end up?
Cham: All my family wants the collection to stay intact and my son, McLean Trotter has informed his siblings that he wants the books. That is fine with me. However, I am in no rush to turn them over to him!
HottyToddy.com: How do you preserve the older manuscripts to maintain their condition and integrity?
Cham: I keep the set divided with the annuals through 1949 in my home office in Belzoni. 1950 through 2016 are in our condo in Oxford. They are kept in a standing position together on the shelf to maintain their correct size without bending and losing shape. I also never pull them out with the top of the spine, and the room temperature is kept at a comfortable level.
Cham, along with his ancestors, parents and children have made not a lifetime contribution to Ole Miss, but rather a multi-century one! A history of this magnitude defies any realistic relationship. For those readers who do not know Cham, his knowledge of The Civil War (among other subjects such as The Titanic) is off the charts. Cham is a walking encyclopedia and one we are proud to have in the Ole Miss family!
Steve Vassallo is a HottyToddy.com contributor. Steve writes on Ole Miss athletics, Oxford business, politics and other subjects. He is an Ole Miss grad and former radio announcer for the basketball team. Currently, Steve is a highly successful leader in the real estate business who lives in Oxford with his wife Rosie. You can contact Steve at email@example.com or call him at 985-852-7745.