EPISODE 8 (36:26)
In celebration of LSU Day and to continue with the Center’s series of podcasts dedicated to the LSU Sesquicentennial, this episode centers on the buildings on LSU’s Baton Rouge campus – the stories, personalities and histories behind the names.
We’ll hear from Cecil Taylor about President James Monroe Smith, for whom Smith Hall was named and later un-named; Lloyd Love will tell us about how he attended LSU with Alex Box, for whom the baseball stadium was named; Charles Barney talks about playing football for Coach Bernie Moore, for whom the track stadium is named; Steele Burden will give us his opinion of Middleton Library; Quinn Coco talks about Hill Memorial when it was the main library; Paul Young recalls a certain absent minded professor; and former students, Abe Mickal, Wilbur Joffrion, and Albert Clary share stories about the once-upon-a-time center of campus activities, the Huey P. Long Field House.
AUDIO EXCERPT TRANSCRIPTIONS AND CITATIONS
ABE MICKAL is the key excerpt. *For full transcription, see below.
CECIL TAYLOR: In terms of the actual explosion, it was . . . in June of ’39, I guess. Well, I was teaching in summer school and went to my early class. I usually had a class at 7:30, I like to start early. The students said, “Don’t we get a holiday?” [laughs] “Don’t we get a holiday?” I said, “Why?” I didn’t know anything about it. They knew it, they had heard it on the radio, but I hadn’t listened to the radio. What had happened is President Smith had skipped town.
The thing broke in June, I don’t believe anything else in state government…I think this was the opening gun. That when Dr. Smith ran away, then the rest of the thing began to unravel, the whole debacle of the post-Huey Long era there. It was tenuous.
He was Secretary to the Board of Supervisors, and he was playing the futures market. He ran short, so he wrote up a set of minutes authorizing him to borrow in the name of the university. He borrowed a half-million dollars to keep his enterprise afloat down there in New Orleans.
When we saw him walking around the campus, “we,” I guess being just I, had a little sense of pity for him. He looked like a man heavily burdened . . . weight of things upon him. But he got caught up in . . . He got caught in a thing. Part of it was attributed to his wife. She was definitely a social climber. The Smith’s daughter, Margery, when she was coming of age, we’ll say, they offered her a debut. They rented a floor of the Roosevelt Hotel in New Orleans. Imagine trying to sort of invade that society.
Taylor, Cecil, interview by Pamela Dean, audio recording, 1992, 4700.0071. Louisiana and Lower Mississippi Valley Collections, LSU Libraries, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
LLOYD LOVE: Right now you hear the phrase “Box.” Alex Box Stadium, Alex Box Field. That was just a cow pasture when I was there. Then one day this baseball player said to me, “They’re going to pick a freshman manager for the baseball team and if you go over and make the application you might can get the job.” I already had the job, so all they had to so was let me transfer over there. I ran all the way over to the stadium where the coaches’ offices were at that time, and I got the job. And then I had the time of my life.
I grew up reading about the New York Giants and Mel Ott from New Orleans, who was a home run hitter. Carl Hubbell, who was a left-handed pitcher and used to win twenty games a year and people like that. They trained on the LSU campus in 1940. I could go down and climb on the dugout and listen to them and watch them because of my job as student manager.
The New York Giants spent a lot of money on the field, but it never really got to be what is there now until Skip Bertman came and started that program. But I think without doubt it’s the best baseball program in the nation . . . and that field . . . and they have that song about the Box. Alex Box was in my class at LSU and he was a football player actually. Wasn’t really that much of a baseball player.
But he was the first LSU student to be killed in World War II and that’s why they named it for . . . Named the baseball field Alex Box Stadium for him.
Love, Lloyd, interview by Jennifer Abraham, audio recording, 1999, 4700.1208, Louisiana and Lower Mississippi Valley Collections, LSU Libraries, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
CHARLES BARNEY: Bernie Moore. Yes, okay. Bernie Moore. Yes, sure. And he was such a great example for all of us. He was a wonderful person. And didn’t put up with any horsing around or anything like that. He was very strict. But he was an excellent coach. Very good. Had won a lot of games. Was very prominent.
FRANCES BARNEY: He and his wife would have the players and their, sometimes girlfriends and wives over to the house. And they would have big dinners. And they were so nice to us. They were just wonderful, homey, down to earth family. And they really cared about the players. Really treated them like family. Great guy.
JENNIFER ABRAHAM: What are some things that you learned from him as a coach? What are some of the things he’d say?
C. BARNEY: Well the first thing I learned is I wanted to be a coach the rest of my life. [laughs] Because I was so enamored with what I was doing, and so excited about it that, and he was such an outstanding person himself, that I thought that would be a great career. And I told my wife many times that’s what I was going to be. But it turned out that I found another interest. So I didn’t turn out to be a coach. And I still to this day kind of wish I had have been a coach.
C. BARNEY: Now some of this, you may not want to even put in there. But I mean, you can do what you want to with it. But Bernie Moore, I found out, after I’d been there for about three or four months, if you go see Bernie, he could give you some cash. Well, we were always broke. There was no, we got a scholarship, we got food, we got a little bit of pay. But if you wanted more money, you went to see Bernie. You went in his office. He’d reach in a drawer and he’d pull out and he’d hand you cash. Quite a bit of cash. [laughs] That was it.
ABRAHAM: Did you have to tell him what you were going to use it for or anything?
C. BARNEY: No.
ABRAHAM: Just say, “I need some.”
C. BARNEY: Say, “I’m out of cash. I’m broke. I’ve got things that I got to do.” That was really all it took. And it depended on how good he thought you were. [laughs]
ABRAHAM: Third string, on the bench, not worth so much, right?
C. BARNEY: No. No.
Barney, Charles interview by Jennifer Abraham, audio recording, 2007, 4700.0944. Louisiana and Lower Mississippi Valley Collections, LSU Libraries, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
EVERETT BESCH: We were going to start to talk about the Hill Memorial Library and you’ve mentioned I think to me that the Hill Memorial Library, the name of the library was retained from the old campus.
QUINN COCO: Yes.
BESCH: That’s the old campus, that’s where the Old [State] Capitol is now.
COCO: Yes. The downtown area where the capitol is now and State Library and all of those . . .
BESCH: Now up there at the old library, at the old campus . . .
COCO: Mr. Hill, yes, Mr. Hill memorialized his son with, if I’m not mistaken, a ten thousand dollar gift to the university and the library named for his son. The name was transferred to the new campus and given to the first library building on the new campus, Hill Memorial Library.
BESCH: Now the library at the old campus was just a block building, a square block building several floors high, sat on the road that now passes to the west of the campus, west of the capitol.
COCO: Capitol, right.
BESCH: I recall looking at the pictures and that was called Hill Memorial Library, too.
COCO: It was Hill Memorial Library on the old campus, yes.
BESCH: And then prior to the Middleton Library, which we might say, the Middleton Library was only named Middleton after Middleton died, prior to that it was called the University Library.
COCO: Yes, LSU Library.
BESCH: And at that time the Hill Memorial Library, prior to that time, or prior to the construction of the Middleton Library the Hill Memorial Library was the university library.
COCO: Yes, it’s a beautiful building too.
BESCH: Yes, still is.
COCO: Its ceilings must be sixteen feet tall.
BESCH: Oh yes, more than that.
COCO: I used to go and study, as a student I used to go study in the library. It was fine built.
BESCH: You got both the south and north reading rooms which were very . . . I bet those are a good twenty feet tall and then when the renovated it, you know the paneling in there is complete, there is no break in the paneling, so they used complete paneling.
COCO: Beautiful paneling, beautiful wood paneling.
Coco, Quinn, interview by Everett Besch, audio recording, 1990, 4700.0179. Louisiana and Lower Mississippi Valley Collections, LSU Libraries, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
STEELE BURDEN: Of course that’s one of the most tragic things ever happened on the campus, putting the Middleton Library where it is today, because when the university was originally planned, the Quadrangle with all the same architecture, I’ve got a booklet here in which they said at the time that was done it was the most beautiful piece of architecture done in the United States at that time. And of course the Middleton Library was put in the middle of it and broke up this . . .
KATHY GRIGSBY: Quadrangle.
BURDEN: Quadrangle. After they put the library there, I spent the rest of my time trying to hide it. I planted a forest in front of it. I guess it’s all cut down now.
Burden, Steele, interview by Kathy Grigsby, audio recording, 1994, 4700.0452. Louisiana and Lower Mississippi Valley Collections, LSU Libraries, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
PAUL YOUNG: One was Coates, C. E. Coates, Dr. C. E. Coates, Dean Coates, beautiful person. All of the absent-minded professor jokes, they put off on Dean Coates. I could tell you one or two. I think maybe I will. It is said, this was rumor of course, just as all mine, I’ll tell you about mine later. They said one time that he took his wife, who was a lovely person, down to New Orleans to shop. In those days, if you wanted to go to Maison Blanche, you went to New Orleans. If you wanted to go the fancy store now, you just shop here in Baton Rouge, better of course. But anyway, they said that he took her down there to shop one day, in a car of course, by that time automobiles had come in. He took down there to shop. And he went around some of his business, and then just came home by himself! And when he got home, one of the boys said, “Where is mother?” And he said, “Mother? She is in New Orleans.” So he went back and picked her up from the curb, out in front of Maison Blanche, or Godchaux’s, or somewhere.
Young, Paul, interview by Jack Fiser, audio recording, 1980, 4700.0066. Louisiana and Lower Mississippi Valley Collections, LSU Libraries, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
A.P. TUREAUD, JR.: When I got to the room they had assigned me to, which was the top floor of the stadium, which was the third or fourth floor up, there must have been fifty students standing, waiting outside of my door with scissors to clip your hair. Because it, you know, the freshmen things, they cut all your hair off, and they were joking and laughing and carrying . . . and having a good time. I felt, “Oh, this is great. This is just what I wanted.” You know, I thought, “They’re going to be my friends.”
They came in, and my father was very excited. He thought this, we all thought this was a welcome party. They came in a talked and cut my hair and talked, joked to each other and so forth. After I thought about it, I realized they were not talking to me, they were talking about me. It was like I was an inanimate object [Tureaud laughs] that they were performing this ritual on. I was trying to say, “Well, what’s your name, and where do you eat?” And I, well, they just ignored that. They were just engaging with each other. I didn’t realize it until after.
Of course, I looked like Ichabod Crane or some waif by the time they finished chopping all my hair off. I had to go to a barber shop to have it evened out, and my parents took me. We found a barber shop nearby, and of course, we realized they were white barber shops. So, we had to find a black barber shop in town. So, we went to a black barber shop, the guy buzzed my head through.
Then, I went back, I was anxious to get back to the campus and find all of these guys who had been cutting my hair and start making some friends. They were gone. They were gone. The idea was we did what we had to do, and we’re out of here. None of them, of course, spoke to me, and none of them acknowledged that they were there. I shooed my parents away. “Oh go, go home quick! I got to get back, and all those guys are there, and I’m going to start making friends.”
When I got back to the room and when my parents dropped me off, I was absolutely alone. That dormitory, the section I was in was totally deserted, and I sat there like in a funk about well where did everybody go? I thought well they probably had something to do, I must have missed some event or something and maybe . . . Well no, I, that was a, that was a severe blow. Then as I thought about it, they really didn’t engage in any activity with me. So, that was, that was hard.
TUREAUD: My most touching moment. I don’t know if I can say this because it chokes me up, but my most touching moment at LSU, and I’ll never forget it was . . . This, I told you , I mentioned this to you once before. One morning, I came out, I couldn’t sleep, and I came out just to be outside and to get away from that crazy dormitory with all the noise and stuff. It was like six o’clock in the morning, and I was coming out of the dorm. I don’t know where I was going, but there was this black man out there sitting in a truck. He had on bib overalls, and he had a little boy with him. As I came out the entrance, he walked over to me and, big smile on his face, and he said, he asked me if I was A. P. Tureaud. I said, “Yes.” He said, “I thought you were.” He said that he had been to the campus a few times, but he hadn’t seen me. He lived somewhere in the Baton Rouge area, and he had brought his son who was six or seven years old to meet me because he wanted his kid to remember that this was possible. That also made me realize that I had a responsibility to help other people realize that what I was doing was possible for everyone. Because I didn’t go into this thing with a mission, and I wasn’t there to be a pioneer. I just wanted to go to school. But I realized . . . And I knew that would happen, that it would take on a different meaning for black people because people had come up to me . . . And at home, people would say, “We’re very proud of you,” and things like that, but this, this was a . . . This man and this little boy, you know, that just meant so much to me.
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: Was the Field House one of the main hangouts on campus?
WILBUR JOFFRION: Field House was like the [Student] Union is now, Field House was where you went to get you mail, where you went through it to check things out and maybe the barber shop was there where you met people, and I think they must have had a soda fountain there. Must have had a snack bar. It was kind of a hangout place.
HEBERT: I’ve heard people describe smooch hollow, do you remember that area of campus?
JOFFRION: I remember that, but I don’t remember going down there because I wasn’t smooching in those days. But I think that was where we went to have our initiation into this honorary math fraternity. It was just a nice little place where there were a lot of oak trees and halfway between where the men lived and where the women lived, a convenient stop off point.
Joffrion, Wilbur, interview by Mary Hebert, audio recording, 1999, 4700.0639. Louisiana and Lower Mississippi Valley Collections, LSU Libraries, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
* ABE MICKAL: Oh, yeah. Well, we had fraternity dances. We had fraternity and sorority dances. Then, too there, I can remember we put on two or three big dances to make money for the council. We had Jimmy Lunsford come down. We tried to get, I think, Cab Calloway. In those days, you would have to. We would have a dance in the Field House, on the first floor of the Field House. Remember, the Field House had that, “L” shape. I have not been there in a long time. “L” shaped and you walked out and you looked down on the swimming pool.
JENNIFER ABRAHAM: There is a picture of it in here. There are a bunch of illustrations in this.
MICKAL: Let’s see. I remember the Field House. I don’t think it’s in here. Well, you walk into the Field House. You walk in the front door . . . it had the bookstore. You have this hole. Then, you walked out on this veranda, it had a swimming pool here. It had the hand ball courts were on the side. You ever walked out on the Field House? Do that.
ABRAHAM: I need to do that.
MICKAL: It is the veranda that walked all around. Now, there is a Bernie Moore Field now. Before that, it was just open air. Open area, but we used to put the orchestra right here and everybody would dance. It’s quite a size of a place, clear out all of that stuff; the sorority dances. Of course, we also had the old gym. By the time you took in the sorority and the fraternity, of course, you would get invited to several of those. It was enough activity. Okay.
Mickal, Abe, interview by Jennifer Abraham, audio recording, 1998, 4700.1051. Louisiana and Lower Mississippi Valley Collections, LSU Libraries, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
ALBERT CLARY: It was the Huey Long Field House. Was a, had a little snack bar and sort of almost a restaurant. And you, and you, there were juke boxes in there and you could play music and it was a hangout for the students. Also the Huey P. Long Field House was used for dances, tea dances, usually in the afternoons, they’d have tea dances, sororities would usually have them. And so the Huey P. Long Field House was the center of activity on the campus at that time.
EVERETT BESCH: But the . . . Was the Field House more of a student union?
CLARY: It was the equivalent of a student union, yes. Very small scale.
Clary, Albert, interview by Everett Besch, audio recording, 1993, 4700.0398. Louisiana and Lower Mississippi Valley Collections, LSU Libraries, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Huey P. Long Field House, Under Stately Oaks, p. 79.
Smith Hall, LSU Gumbo, 1943.
Bernie Moore and Charles Coates, Office of Public Relations Photographs, RG #A5000.0020
Hill Memorial Library
Coates Hall, A Pictorial Record of the First Hundred Years.
Abe Mickal, LSU Photograph Collection, A Golden Century Exhibit Photographs, RG #A5000.
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.