Earl Lester Cole remembers…”I remember Grambling when I arrived here March 13, 1936. it was called Louisiana Negro Normal and Industrial Institute. There was a student body consisting of both high school and college students. The curriculum was a two year education program and students who graduated received state teaching certificates and taught in elementary schools.
“In 1939, a third year was added to the curriculum with emphasis on a new venture in teacher education. These ventures consisted of students spending some time away from the campus to do a portion of their student teaching.
“There was a close tie between the community and the institution. People in the community rented rooms to students. In the late 30’s, the school even operated an improvised clinic for expecting mothers. We had a public health nurse, and a physician was provided by the federal government.
“There were several frame buildings on the campus and the campus had just been landscaped. It was a pretty rural setting and it was very clean because the students used to keep it clean. In 1939, the state started building several brick dorms. Jewett Hall was one of the first brick buildings. The ROTC building (Lee Hall) was the first library. The women’s gyms served as both men’s and women’s gyms and as the auditorium and Grambling Hall was the first permanent dining hall.”
Frank Gaulden remembers…
“They have a building up there built by me and they don’t know that in nobody’s country. I took my hammer and brick tools and built that building without an architect. I bought the cement from my own pocket. It was then a girls dormitory but its the police station now. I designed it and built it in 1941.
“I also built a two-story building in the village that Mayor Woodard lived in, a store, and Mason Hall. I built the first brick house in Grambling, it’s been torn down, and the second brick house just above the liquor store, near the railroad track.”
Bill Scott remembers…
“Mr. Adams lived in a dorm when he first came. Peach orchards were where President Jones lived near the men’s dormitories. Dorms were located just where the curve is near Adams Monument.
“I went to high school up there. The school had farms and most of the students worked on them. There were only four teachers and there weren’t many houses in Grambling.”
Edward F. Purvis remembers…
“I remember Grambling. I’ve seen it all. I started teaching agriculture then sociology and spent the last 15 years in communications and fund raising. I was fortunate enough to be the founder of the foundation.
“Then, there was a unique tie between “town and gown.” We made an effort to make sure town and gown were intertwined. There were about four churches in the community and on one Sunday we would visit one church, then another the next Sunday, and so on. The church would host dinners for the students once a year. It was a way of saying “We appreciate you.”
“At commencement time Grambling would hold services outdoors at the Pavilion and we obtained benches from the churches. This has been a tradition in Grambling.”
James Earl Moore remembers…
“I remember Grambling when there weren’t any street lights and no barber shops. Well, there was one barber shop owned by Mack Osborne. The community and the school have always gotten along. They depended on each other. When school was out many of the businesses in the community closed (temporarily).
“As far as I’m concerned, they have always kept the college up. One of Jones’ (late president) first priorities was for kids to act like good kids. Today they are twice wilder and not as intelligent. They used to respect the teachers and now it seems they don’t. Awhile back, there was bed check in the dorms and everyone had to go to church. Letters from parents were required for students to leave the campus.
“I don’t think there are enough activities to keep the students (adequately) occupied or they wouldn’t be ‘lollying’ up and down the streets. Mostly, home training is responsible for the behavior now. They need to be taught to keep the campus clean and stop walking out in front of cars like they have bumpers.”
Thelma Williams remembers…
“I remember Grambling when the community and the school were almost one. We’ve outgrown each other. I remember when everybody knew everybody. It gave a very close family tie.
“How the Founder’s Day has kept the community-school relationship is that they have citizens come to campus to share their knowledge with students.
“I remember Grambling when all the faculty members stayed on campus. There were few homes in the immediate community.”
Grambling State University has come a long way since its founding in 1901. Charles P. Adams laid a foundation in a small black community, which has molded and nurtured students who may otherwise have not pursued an education beyond high school.