“I like it,” he says sitting crossed-legged in his chair pushing up his tinted glasses. Dressed usually in jeans and sneakers, Olemuel Ashford describes how he feels about his occupation as a bus driver and travel aid for Grambling State University. With 25 years under his belt, Ashford has had his fair share of road trips. The first began as a youngster from Jacksonville, Fla. to here in Grambling where he spent the remainder of his childhood and adolescent years.
He then attended Grambling State University and later dropped out in order to obtain his CDL license for commercial vehicles where he then drove for 12 years.
Here in Grambling, Ashford has driven buses in transportation for numerous people and occasions such as President Horace A. Judson, KGRM, Mary Landrieu and even the artists that appear during Homecoming and Springfest. In 2005, Ashford also drove buses to help bring Xavier students to Grambling immediately after Hurricane Katrina.
With his warm laughter, Ashford reminisces of a Grambling most students only learn about in a Freshman Seminar course.
“I’m sure a lot of certain people don’t know facts about Grambling,” he said.
Ashford said he remembers when his family first moved to Grambling as a child, he, his sister and parents stayed with a friend of the family who just so happened to be Charles P. Adams, the founder of Grambling State University. Years later his father designed and build the original cafeteria after McCall died, in for which the building is named, while his mother became the first Black teacher at Ruston’s elementary school.
Ashford smiles as he even mentions that his last whipping as a child was from Alma J. Brown herself.
Unfortunately, Ashford just recently lost his wife who worked in Washington-Johnson Complex only eight months after his father. Even though he is adjusting to his new life, he still looks forward to his retirement in less than two years.
Ashford plans on relaxing by staying involved with some of his favorite hobbies such as fishing and hunting. He also says that he’ll enjoy finally being able to visit his only son in Illinois by traveling without a strict schedule.
Since his childhood, Ashford has seen the city of Grambling and the University grow into what it is today. But without people like him who stay behind the scenes, and do what they do, it would not be the same.