EPISODE 6 (18:56)
This year marks the 150th anniversary of the founding of LSU and there are celebrations commemorating this event throughout the year. The Center is also marking its 18th year on campus! Our original initiative was to document the history of LSU and today we have over 500 interviews with faculty, staff, and alumni. Topics include: distinguished faculty and administrators; distinguished alumni; athletics; the Ole War Skule and the military tradition at LSU; integration and the African American experience; women at LSU, and Student Government Association presidents.
University History is where the Center started and that topic has led us to many wonderful stories both in and out of LSU. Because we tend to conduct life-narratives with those we interview, additional topics organically grew out of the LSU History project. An interview with someone who went to LSU in the ’30s inevitably leads to a story about Huey Long. An interview with a 1942 alum will likely involve a World War II story, and an interview with someone who attended in the ’50s, ’60s or ’70s often leads to a story about integration, women’s lib, civil rights, or the Korean or Vietnam Wars.
In this episode, we’ll get a snapshot of life on campus from the early 1900s through the 1960s. We’ll hear about the Ole War Skule from a former cadet; we’ll hear about fashions of the 20s from one of the few women who attended LSU at the time; a former yearbook editor defends her use of a controversial symbol in the 1933 LSU Gumbo; and we’ll hear stories about integrating the LSU undergraduate school and the football team.
AUDIO EXCERPT TRANSCRIPTIONS AND CITATIONS
LEONA SPAHT HUFF is the key excerpt. *For full transcription, see below.
ANDREW BABIN: And the average student knew everybody at the university. You know you would see them walking by on Sunday evening in the parade in front of the old barracks. That was a popular place. But then when the automobile came, they would drive fast through the university so that the president put some hills, you know. And they had a guard in the [Louise] Garig building, and he was paid a salary to report all of those who speeded across. Now that Mary Bird who founded that hospital, she ran through the boys going to dinner; they almost put her in jail.
PAMELA DEAN: She just drove right through.
BABIN: She had a big car, and she went fast. Yes, sir.
DEAN: What would an average meal be?
BABIN: Well, on Sunday we always had ham, on Sunday. And . . . I’ll tell you a joke. They had beans for dinner. One fellow hollered that they had a rat in the beans. They cooked the rat with it. [laughs]
DEAN: So on Sundays you had ham. And what did you have for just a regular meal during the week?
BABIN: Vegetables and sausage and spaghetti. We had biscuits all the time, and syrup; they had that on the table. But they had a place where the officers ate.
DEAN: I see.
BABIN: But that was special.
DEAN: So you had an officers table?
BABIN: They didn’t eat where we ate.
DEAN: Oh, they had a whole different table.
BABIN: Oh, yes!
DEAN: Now, this was not the cadet officers. Was this the cadet officers?
BABIN: Yes. The cadet officers, they ate with us, and they had a special table, a special meal everyday, but we didn’t mind it.
- Babin, Andrew, interview by Pamela Dean, audio recording, 1992, 4700.0099. Louisiana and Lower Mississippi Valley Collections, LSU Libraries, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
* LEONA SPAHT HUFF: Well, all the girls we knew wouldn’t even think of wearing pants to school or shorts or anything like that. The boys wore shirts and long pants. I don’t think anybody tried to wear anything else. I mean just take for granted, that’s what you’d wear.
If you live in town, you could catch a ride. It was very popular then. They didn’t have buses. The students would just go out and catch a ride. You know, that’s what the boys would do if they knew a girl who lived in town and want to have a date. But there were no apartments. And the girls who lived in the dorm, I don’t know about the men’s dorm, but they had to check in and out. They had very strict rules about what time they had to be in, and I think, ten o’clock on the weekdays. Which was a good idea, now that I see what goes on.
Huff, Leona Spaht, interview by Katherine Huff O’Neil, audio recording, 1995, 4700.0508. Louisiana and Lower Mississippi Valley Collections, LSU Libraries, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
MARIAN MEYER BERKETT: Well, I was of course informed that I would be the editor of The Gumbo, and that is the annual at LSU. And in preparation for it, I wanted to make a theme to run through. And on the campus we have an Indian mound, so I adopted a theme of the mound builders throughout – not just LSU, but throughout the region. So the artwork [in the Gumbo] is attuned to that, and one of these symbols that these Indian tribes used besides other symbols that were there was in inverted what we now call the swastika. It is a symbol that has been used world-wide by different tribes and different ethnic groups. And while Hitler came to power in March of ’33, I really had started all my plans on the Gumbo before. And somehow it . . . because it wasn’t really the same symbol, I persisted even after he came to power because it was part of the artwork of what I was trying to represent. And nevertheless, when the book finally came out it caused a lot of criticism, about why I was using the swastika, which I was not, and particularly why I, a Jewish girl, would be using it in the annual. And that’s the explanation. So be it.
Berkett, Marian Meyer, interview by Jennifer Abraham, audio recording, 2004, 4700.1933. Louisiana and Lower Mississippi Valley Collections, LSU Libraries, Baton Rouge, Louisiana
A.P. TUREAUD, JR.: We packed the car from New Orleans and you know the typical excitement. The other thing, too, is that I didn’t have the opportunity, as you said, to go, to be oriented, to be recruited, and to be courted by the university or encouraged to come. It was, “No, don’t come. You’re not welcome, go somewhere else.” So that and all of the other social amenities and support systems that other students had I didn’t have. The only support system I had were my parents, and they were right there. We loaded up the car with all the typical things including a typewriter and a pillow and all that stuff, got to LSU, and then were refused. I was refused admittance…. We went back the next day, and I was admitted. I did live in the dormitory. And, the students did queue up outside of my room. I had been escorted from the president’s office to the stadium where I lived.
Tureaud, A.P. Jr., interview by Rachel Emanuel-Wallace, audio recording, 1993, 4700.0245. Louisiana and Lower Mississippi Valley Collections, LSU Libraries, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
MARY HEBERT: You were the first black football player to be given a scholarship to LSU. Were you aware of that when that scholarship was offered to you?
LORA HINTON: Yes, I was.
HEBERT: How did you feel about that?
HINTON: It was a challenge I was ready for. I think, at that time, they were interested in recruiting black athletes. And, I was just ready to come on in and show that we not only had the ability to play, but we also had the ability to do the class work and so forth. Every day all you guys are paying the same price, and you’ve got something in mind that you want to get done. When you see the other guy paying the same price you’re paying, then you’re just naturally going to respect that guy. That’s probably why athletics is good for this country.
HEBERT: Were there places around campus like bars or restaurants that did not freely welcome black students?
HINTON: Yes, there were some.
HEBERT: Did you avoid those places?
HINTON: Of course. But, that wasn’t a big issue with me because some of those places, when the team went there, they made sure that I was there, and if anybody had any problem with that, they had to deal with those guys. That’s just the way it was.
HEBERT: Still being a part of the team.
HINTON: Yes. They made sure that if it was a team function, “You be there. I’m going to be there with you.” That was nice. These are Southern boys telling me that. They’re from right here. “This is my teammate. This is my friend. This is his name.” And you know, “Okay, come on in.” It made a difference.
Hinton, Lora, interview by Mary Hebert (Price), audio recording, 1993, 4700.0327. Louisiana and Lower Mississippi Valley Collections, LSU Libraries, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Lora Hinton playing football for the LSU Tigers, LSU Gumbo, 1973
Andrew Babin and E Company, LSU Gumbo, 1917
Leona Spaht, LSU Gumbo, 1933
Marian Meyer, LSU Gumbo Editor 1933
Lora Hinton, LSU Gumbo, 1973
King, Freddie, interview by Tatiana Clay and Eric Julien, audio recording, 2008, 4700.1921. Louisiana and Lower Mississippi Valley Collections, LSU Libraries, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
This podcast is copyrighted by LSU Libraries Special Collections.
For a full transcript of the podcast, please contact Jennifer Abraham at firstname.lastname@example.org.