School Colors

What are the Guilford College school colors?  The short answer: Crimson and Gray, in use for well over a century.  Guilford, like most colleges, started using "school colors" upon formation of their athletic teams, with ours occurring in the late 1800s.

The colors are mentioned in the primary fight song, and were also used as an informal nickname for Quaker teams.  Guilford newspapers and yearbooks mention this nickname quite a bit in the early days:

"Thanksgiving Day the Quakers fulfilled Guilford prayers of two year’s standing --- Beat Elon! It was a gala occasion in which the Crimson and Gray did it up in big style, 24-6, 
with thrills galore."
(The Quaker, 1929.)

"Randolph-Macon invaded the Guilford campus for the opening game of the year for the Quakers, and the Crimson and Gray warriors celebrated their return to the home grounds with the first victory of the year."
(The Quaker, 1935.)

Over time it's gotten blurred.  If you ask a host of alumni about Guilford school colors, you might get a number of responses:  red and gray...maroon and silver...burgundy and ash...cardinal and slate...garnet and...well, you get the picture.  When I was at Guilford, the crimson was a deep red, and the gray was all over the map, from a dark "Quaker Gray" to a light silver-gray shade.

This brings up the consideration that "official" school colors can change over time for a myriad of reasons.  For example, when my father was at the University of North Carolina in the 1950s, "Carolina Blue" was a very light "powder blue."  As more games were televised in the 1970s, that light blue faded on the TV screen, leading the school to issue a darker hued version resembling turquoise!  Today, it's somewhere in the middle.  The variations of Guilford colors are perhaps influenced by the number of manufacturers licensing school apparel.  The campus bookstore carries a wide selection of merchandise with reds and grays in a multitude of shades.  Two of my sweatshirts are fire engine red, another being the more traditional dark crimson.  Accent colors of white, charcoal gray and black are also prevalent.

Back to brass tacks, Guilford College has always had two named school colors:  Crimson and Gray.  What shade of crimson?  Well, specifically Pantone 187 C, which the marketing department calls "Guilford Maroon."  Regarding crimson, Wikipedia lists 18 variations and describes it as, "a strong, bright, deep red color combined with some blue and/or violet, resulting in a tiny degree of purple."  The shade we use is akin to Harvard crimson, and the similar Alabama crimson.  (Our football helmets mirrored the Tide's for many years...plain, crimson red, with numbers on the sides.)  The related tone of cardinal also resides in the Guilford color spectrum.

The style of gray typically associated with Guilford is (specifically) Pantone 7530 C, a medium-light gray (on the left).
A much lighter gray is also common.  Occasionally, it can be a darker tint, such as this "Quaker Gray" (seen at right.)
Nathan the Quaker sporting the school colors.
(Source:  Guilford College Athletics.)

So, short of using the marketing jargon of Pantone this or that, the answer to the question, "what are the Guilford school colors?" is the simple and elegant, "Crimson and Gray."

(* Additional credits:  Guilford College Department of Marketing and Communications.)


My Quaker Club cowbell, one of several 
collected over the years.
(Pic is my own.)

For as long as most living Guilfordians can remember cowbells have been a common sight (and sound) at Quaker sporting events, particularly football games. Although the exact origin is unclear it seems to have stemmed from the fact that Guilford has, almost from the beginning, periodically operated a campus farm and dairy barn, with several cows to supply the cafeteria with fresh milk.

No doubt, many Guilford students were raised on a farm - and were familiar with the actual purpose of cowbells - but in fact, the school tradition may have started with a prank. According to alumni footballer, Tom Evaul '50, the boys from the 1949 squad decided to surprise the co-eds of Mary Hobbs Hall by secretly placing one of those dairy cows inside their dorm parlor late one night. (How they managed to get the poor bovine all the way across campus, up the Hobbs steps, past the housemother's door and into the parlor without anyone noticing is beyond me!). As a homage to the prank, the young ladies from Mary Hobbs, and then Founders, began using cowbells to cheer on the Crimson and Gray at football games. Thus, a venerable campus tradition began.
Alumni ringing the bells.
(Photo: Guilford College.)

Besides being a noisemaker for athletic events, the cowbell was also used by the designated "ringer" of Hobbs and Founders to wake up the residents at first light - well before the campus bell - rousting the ladies of the dorms to breakfast. Many an alumnae have fond memories of having bell ringer duty, including Tanya Feagins '74.

Most Guilfordians have a few cowbell memories, at games, events, parties or otherwise.
I distinctly remember Bev Rogers, wife of Guilford College President (1980 - 1996) Bill Rogers, gleefully clanging an over-sized cowbell during many a football contest of the early 1990s. Today, with our Quaker gridders enjoying a resurgence in the program, the cowbells after a key play or touchdown can drown out the loudspeakers from the announcer's box.     

We're certainly not the only college to do this; it's also an old, well known tradition at Mississippi State University (THUNDEROUS cowbells during games). However, it's a tradition here at good ole' NCAA Division III Guilford College too. In fact, I'll probably have one in each hand for the home contest against rival Washington and Lee University next weekend.

(* Fan pics with cowbells, courtesy of Guilford College.)


The Guilford Guns?

1911 Murad Tobacco College Series;
"Guilford College Shooting Range." (Front)
(Source: eBay)

(Source: eBay)

Some interesting oddities can turn up on a web search, like this old cigarette trading card from 1911 depicting a dapper student marksman at the "Guilford College Shooting Range."

I'm guessing Murad Tobacco knew little about Guilford College. For one, I don't think Guilford ever had a rifle team, or even a shooting range. There's no reference to either in school publications of that year.
Plus, guns were a regular point of contention between peace-minded Quaker administrators and rural but refined country boys of the College, who usually towed their guns back to school in the fall - all the better to hunt small game on the fringes of campus.

"[In the mid-1800s] there were no intramural sports, but there was time for recreation...The boy's chief recreation, apart from mischief making, seemed to be hunting squirrels and rabbits. Contrary to the rules of the school, the boys stubbornly insisted on keeping their hunting guns in their rooms, a practice the faculty 
(The Guilford College Bulletin; Supplement 1979.)

Despite campus rules, long guns were not uncommon around campus. There are several candid pictures in yearbooks from the early 1900s to 1950s of students (male and female) in hunting vests, holding up small game harvested in the woods and fields nearby, rifles or shotguns at their sides.

Advertisements for gun manufacturers were also pretty common in the "Sponsors" section of early yearbooks, such as these from The Quaker, 1914. The faculty probably wasn't jazzed about taking ads from gun companies. And the yearbook staff probably ignored that sentiment...for the sake of the bottom line.

Also ironic but common were student "mascots" dressed in nineteenth century Quaker garb, prowling the sidelines of 1940s football games brandishing (and possibly blank-firing) an old musket...a practice the faculty grudgingly tolerated. To them, guns were for putting food on the family table back home, not warfare, and certainly not celebrating touchdowns! Students obviously did it anyway.

There is a humorous (and kinda' scary) reference in Alex Stoeson's history of the college, of a bored student shooting his initials into the ceiling beams of his dorm room with a .22 rifle.
(Yeah, try that in this day and age...instant dismissal from the College and a trip to the Guilford County jail.)

It's doubtful Guilford ever condoned such a shooting range or team depicted in the tobacco advertising card, and these days "shooters" equal double shot glasses of party libations. But, the old cigarette card of the fictional Guilford rifle team marksman is an interesting little piece of nostalgia.

(* "Fighting Quaker" pic and old ads: The Quaker, 1949 and 1914, respectively.)

A Song for Ole' Nathan

There seems to be an endless number of anthems crooned by Guilford students back in the day. If you go back far enough, it appears half the campus was in a unified chorus literally half the time. (So much for Quaker "silence.") Prolific Guilford songsmith, Russell Pope, even penned a song about Guilford founder Nathan Hunt. This gem is noted in a yearbook from the World War II period. Does anyone know the tune? 

Beanies, May Days & Old Ways of the Freshman Haze

It's never easy for the first year student at any college. Freshman year is fright with the new: being away from home, sharing rooms and bathrooms with strangers, the mystery of cafeteria food, professors with high expectations, and the nervousness that comes with trying to make new friends among your peers. But there was a time at Guilford when the hapless "Frosh" had it pretty rough and was treated somewhat poorly by most of the upperclassmen. Hazing first year students, collectively called "Rats," was a common practice, generally promoted by a few generations of upperclassmen. It seems to have been at its worst in the early days of the 20th Century, and continued in some form or fashion until the late 1960s.

Freshman anticipation.
(Drawing from The Quaker, 1917.)
The hazing was at least partially the result of competitive inter-class debates and sports contests, and the early practice of having specific class colors, flowers and mottoes. It also stemmed from the sometimes haughty nature of upperclassmen who felt morally and intellectually "superior," if only by the fact of having more campus experience. As early as 1911 there were multiple references to this attitude, such as this yearbook entry:

"Yes, we tried to welcome the newcomers and must have made the fatal error or putting ourselves too nearly on their level, else they would have not have  turned on some of our members that terrible, exasperating, 
mortifying question of all questions, 
"Have you ever been here before?" 

Further evidence is seen in the "Last Will and Testament" of the Class of 1911:

"...Whereas we have in our old age come into possession of certain privileges, such as holding sway over our own tables at meals, chaperoning lower classmen to and from the station and other places, of going to the store when we so desire, of going anywhere we wish to on the campus..." 

"Stately Senior" drawing.
(The Quaker, 1927.)

Hazing on college campuses was problematic enough that the North Carolina Legislature stepped in, passing an Anti-Hazing law in 1913, much to the chagrin of the Guilford class of 1916. They registered their distaste of the law in their class history in The Quaker

"We wished, in this our second year, to do unto others as had been done to us, but were handicapped in the full attainment of these wishes by the passage of the Anti-Hazing Law by the North Carolina Legislature. Therefore, the responsibility of training up Freshmen in the way that they should go was, to a great extent, shifted to the shoulders of the good Old North State. However, we saw to it that Freshmen did not lose their powers of locomotion and some of them, during snowy weather, became very efficient at track work."

Pelting Freshmen with packed snow was a favorite method of humiliation. When the Legislature codified anti-hazing and Freshmen loudly complained to the faculty about their treatment, upperclassmen were indignant enough to compose a poem about the joys of hurling snowballs at the first-year students. The poem is rather long, but a portion of it reads:

Drawing of a Freshman being pelted.
(The Quaker, 1917.)
Sad were the times, and cursed 
were the days, 
For the impudent Freshmen 
just dared us to haze.
And the snow that we trampled 
under our feet. 
Proved an inspiration 
and our needs did just meet.

We made us snowballs 
so nice and so round
And the fresh young Rats 
we proceeded to pound.
But alas and alack! 'tis sad to relate
Some Rats proved rebellious 
concerning their fate.

Why did you kick when the snowballs fell
And give the impression you were treated like ----? Well
Couldn't you see, little babies in pants,
If you took it this year, 
that next your own chance...

(The Quaker, 1916-17, pg. 123.) 

Drawing of the "extinct" custom of 
Sophomores hazing Freshmen. 
(The Quaker, 1927.)

The Hazing continued despite the new law. Ten years after the "Snowball Incident," Seniors wrote in their Last Will and Testament about:

"special privileges which tradition and precedent have led each Senior Class to expect...chaperoning lower classmen...going to the store at will...holding sway over tables at meals...occupying the front seats in chapel...being a shining example to the lower classmen in such things 
as dignity in the dormitories and superiority on the campus..." 

Only a year later, the class of 1928 reminded the school: 

"We came as many of our predecessors had come -- green to the nth degree. The Sophomores, however, were fired with missionary zeal and decided that we should be continually reminded of the fact. As a result boys whose names were written among the new comers were seen skipping to and from classes with big white placards on their backs, and suitcases in their hands..."

Women did some hazing too.
(The Quaker, 1940.)
This type of thing went on for years. The class of 1934 asserted, "After the treatment that we had received from our superiors, the Sophomores, we were surprised at the great friendliness with which we were entertained at the annual Freshman-Sophomore picnic..." 

But once they were Sophomores a year later, "...we realized that those incoming students needed managing. They got it."

A banquet was held in 1939 which had the "Juniors entertain their betters and the wise fools put the Freshmen through the mill."

There are many early yearbook and campus newspaper references to certain "ceremonies at Hamilton Lakes" (a lakefront neighborhood about a mile from the school), where upperclassmen "liberated" Freshmen by tossing them into the water! It apparently wasn't restricted to men; women upperclassmen happily forced younger female peers
to march into the water wearing their Sunday best,
despite the Autumn chill.

"Traffic Cop."
(The Quaker, 1940.)

Hazing was fiercely practiced by letter men of the various sports teams at the College. The yearbook of 1940 stated, "Monogram members are twice victims: once of Alma Mater, once of brothers in arms. And the 'G-Men' try well the candidate's intestinal fortitude; Barnum's circus has nothing on campus initiation sights." This included such things as: "boot blacking," (forced shoe shine), "lawn fishing," (to make you look silly) and "traffic direction," (also to make you look silly), as well as the aforementioned paddling. New members had to go through an initiation period of one week before they became true members of the "G Club." Evidence of such initiations were noted in this yearbook entry from 1942: "And in the spring came the Men's Monogram Club to initiate its new recruits. Pink baby caps, frilly bibs, long red flannels and dunce caps were in evidence all over the campus..." Student bio's over the years describe more than a few Monogram members "who wielded a mean paddle on the freshman initiates..."

             A Freshman gets a little pre-class whoop-ass. 
                            (The Quaker, 1939.)

"Lawn Fishing."
(The Quaker, 1941.)


Thank you, Sir, may I have another...
(The Quaker, 1941.) 

              Assume the position, Frosh...
(The Quaker, 1938.)

The drafts of the war years thinned the ranks of paddle-wielding upperclassmen, but the hazing persisted. Freshmen wrote in 1943 that [they were]: 

"...standing up against domineering upperclassmen freely of their opinions on Guilford's shortcomings. Sophs eyed them in disgust and gave vent to their feelings in rat courts and bull sessions; upperclassmen were at their wit's end as to how to check the nervy greenhorns whose audacity was strengthened by the realization that the draft had seriously depleted junior and senior ranks. Yet in the end they yielded to the whip and were Guilfordized, willingly at heart, reluctantly to the eyes of tyrannical upperclassmen..."   

By the middle of the 20th Century, hazing took on other forms, such as the Boys' May Day. According to retired Guilford professor of history Alex Stoeson, Boys' May Day was "a tradition that began as a parody of the conventional female-centered celebration, and involved male students parading around the campus wearing towel “diapers,” cross-dressing skits that crudely mocked the girls’ themed dances, and satires that lampooned faculty and administration."

"Diaper Gallop."
(The Quaker, 1965)
From the late 1940s to the late 1960s, male Freshmen were herded together in the early morning hours of May Day, and made to run laps around the female dorms in homemade "diapers." (It's never said but strongly implied that they were usually fortified with alcohol - provided by the upperclassmen - to make them stumble, and maybe puke in front of co-eds watching from dorm porches and windowsills.) 

The annual May Day celebrations came to an end in 1969, and were replaced in 1972 by the annual spring weekend “Serendipity,” featuring games, music performances, and general mayhem. 

(*Look for a future post: "From May Day to Serendipity.")

"Freshman Beanie"
(The Quaker, 1967)

This co-ed wears the dreaded "Freshman Beanie," circa 1967, the last year freshmen were required (by upperclassmen) to wear the dorky, humiliating cap. Worn to distinguish freshman class members, beanies were a campus tradition in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. Members of the Monogram Club, the campus letter men's organization usually opened up the year convincing freshmen that they were required to wear beanies. Alex Stoesen noted in his history of the College, there was “strong faculty resistance to hazing, even in its mildest forms...any type of formal class system at Guilford has been considered to be at odds with the 
Quaker traditions of the College.”

Although there was a humiliating aspect to the various initiations, random paddling and condescending attitudes of upperclassmen, the hazing was relatively harmless, with the worst being, at most, temporary embarrassment. It served more as a way to keep underclassmen "in their place." No real or lasting physical harm was done, and quite honestly, it was common to most other colleges and universities across the globe at that point in history.
Hazing underclassmen faded out of fashion with the changing times and mores of the turbulent late 1960s and beyond. Campus unity became more important than keeping younger students in line, with larger issues taking center stage: the Equal Rights movement, the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights struggle, and other collegiate protests against inequality.
Today, hazing would absolutely NOT be tolerated in any way, shape, or form at Guilford, where a student's individuality is paramount and encouraged by the campus culture. In the past, hazing may have been frowned upon but largely ignored by the administration. If such things happened today, even in the mildest forms, Guilford officials would shut it down immediately. And that's a good thing. But, despite it being a bit of a skeleton in the Guilford closet, it's a fun story to tell.

"County Clubs"

In the early days of the 20th Century, the Guilford College area was a pastoral burg on the western perimeter of Greensboro; the cocoon-like "bubble" of the campus even more pronounced. Having only a few hundred students at the time made the atmosphere quite intimate. Each undergrad knew or knew of one another. Like today, they lived, ate and sweated classes together, but in those days the vast majority were from North Carolina. Although most were N.C. natives, it's a large state with a hundred counties. Students formed "clubs" with folks from their home counties, the cliques being called, "County Clubs." Sharing a place of origin gave them something in common - an affinity group for the gregarious and homesick alike.

The largest County Clubs, with dozens of "members" were usually Guilford County, and a few neighboring counties such as Alamance, Stokes and Randolph. Smaller groups represented North Carolina's coastal and mountain counties, those being somewhat distant from the school's central Piedmont setting.

Some clubs represented several counties or regions. Inevitably, the fewest in number was the "Out of State Club," students from other states or countries - occasionally large in number, although there wouldn't be a significant number of out-of-state and international students until the 1930s.

Similar to the literary societies of the day, the County Clubs were important social outlets on campus, hosting informal parties and mixers, picnics and gatherings. However, a rotating seating arrangement in chapel and
during mealtimes in Founders kept students circulating, and clubs from becoming too exclusive. And like the literary clubs, the County Clubs largely petered out by the early 1930s as other student interests took hold, such as YMCA, YWCA, Debate Clubs, Glee Clubs, and the like.

Tar Heel Land

I'd rather be born in the home of a Tar Heel
With just a Tar Heel's fame
Than to be a prince in Europe
With a title to my name.
'Cause I love the song that the bluebirds sing
When the drone of a bee announces Spring.

We have no scrapping in in Tar Heel Land - 
When everything goes right.
We have no fear of aeroplanes
To keep us up at night.
If one should stray away down home
A smile to the leader would surely come.
And he'd want to fly down to take a hand
With the good old folks in Tar Heel Land.

There are visions down home in a setting sun,
But not any music in a big siege gun.
We know how to handle them, that's all true,
But it's just one task that we hate to do -
So please excuse us and we'll hoe our corn,
While we whistle a tune in the early morn.

(*Poem by "I.T.V." in The Quaker, 1917. Photos also courtesy of The Quaker.)

Literary Societies

Some of the first organized clubs at Guilford, and numerous other colleges and universities during the late Victorian Age were Literary Societies. 
Starting at Guilford around 1888, there were two societies for men: 
Henry Clay (or "The Clays," with the colors purple & white) 

...and Websterian (or "The Webs," with the colors silver & sky blue).

For the women there was: Philomathean (or "The Phils," with colors brown & white)

...and Zatasian (or "The Zays," with colors blue & gold).


These “Societies” were the official organizations on campus and nearly every student was a member of one of the clubs.  
As Guilford has never allowed Greek letter fraternities or sororities, these literary societies may have functioned as such, sharing with them esoteric features like secret mottoes, handshakes, and initiation ceremonies. Meetings were held on Friday night of every week in each group's “Society Hall,” - usually a corner of the library or a classroom. Each society had it’s own member’s pin or badge, flags, banners and secret traditions, and held meetings under parliamentary procedure - all resembling a Greek system. The primary function of the societies was to train young men and women in oratory and public affairs. For many years at Guilford they were centers of student activity, intellectual and otherwise. Most, if not all, campus leaders were members of one of the societies. 

Society meetings were a time for training in debate, oratory, vocal and instrumental music, and essay writing. Yearly debate contests between clubs were common, competitive and fiercely attended. “Hosting Banquets” were held, similar to modern mixers, with the 1929 Zatasian girls hosting Websterian boys for a three act play in Memorial (now Duke Hall) followed by a buffet in Founders (then a women's dorm).

“...the menu consisted of creamed chicken and timbals, olive and date nut sandwiches, coffee, ice cream, and cake, and mints.” 
(The Quaker, 1929, pg. 46).

The Societies' lasting legacy at the school was publishing the Guilford Collegian, in 1888. Chiefly a literary magazine (resembling today's Greenleaf Review), having little campus, local or world news, The Guilford Collegian would evolve into campus weekly paper, The Guilfordian, by 1914.

"The Lits" began to wane in popularity by the early 1930s. It appears that the women's societies outlasted by a few years the men's - which suffered a decline in membership - until they were all pretty much extinct by 1933. A yearbook entry from that year states:

"...Early in the year, the Zatasian and Philomathean literary societies were duly buried with proper respects because of their voted uselessness..."

(* All pics from The Quaker)