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.)