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Separated by eras, bound by alma mater
Separated by 64 years, two women compare lives from their time at the 'school on the hill'
Georgia Southern senior Ashley Scruggs, left, and Billie Turner Lane look through photographs and a Georgia Teachers College yearbook from 1942, the year Lane graduated from the school that would become GSU. Over the last 64 years much has changed for student sat the school, from socializing and technology to drinking and integration. - photo by HOLLI DEAL BRAGG/staff

GSU Alma Mater

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    In 1942, Billie Turner Lane graduated from Georgia Teacher’s College, a place where she lived with a suite-mate in a residence hall, ate at the dining hall and never thought about going out to a bar.
    Flash forward to 2006, when Georgia Southern University senior Ashley Scruggs lives with four roommates on campus, has a wide variety of dining choices on campus and lives in a time where partying is common and almost every restaurant around campus serves alcohol.
    A lot has changed over the years, both she and Lane agree.
    Lane lived in East Hall, now known as Anderson Hall, in a special arrangement where she shared a suite with another female student.
    Scruggs lived in Southern Pines during her first years at GSU, then moved off-campus to the Garden District Apartments.
    She chose Georgia Southern University because she was “really impressed with the beauty of the campus and people were so nice.” Having been also accepted at the University of Georgia, which is closer to her parents in the Atlanta area, Scruggs decided GSU was large enough to be interesting but small enough where she could meet people and make friends.
    Lane, from Millen, said the decision to attend Georgia Teacher’s College was based upon finances and the desire to stay close to home.
    “Those were Depression days,” she said. “It was the only place we could afford.”
    Lane studied music and obtained two bachelor of science degrees  — one in violin and piano, and the second, years later, from Georgia Southern College in music. Scruggs is majoring in justice studies, with psychology as a minor.
    One thing hasn’t changed much since Lane was in college  — where students study.
    “I studied in my room,” she said. “But, I don’t even remember studying!”
    Scruggs laughed. “I bet your mama wouldn’t have wanted to hear that!” She said she does most of her studying in her room as well, although there are times when she heads for the library, which she said is open 24 hours.
    Lane expressed surprise that the library never closed. Students never went out late at night when she was in school, she said.
Fun then, fun now
    What students did for fun when Lane attended Georgia Teacher’s College in and before 1942 is vastly different from what students do now.
    Dates were held in the residence hall, unless the students were attending a dance in the gymnasium. Friends met at the small store nearby to buy a Coke, or they enjoyed gatherings with members of sororities or fraternities, she said.
    Students still get together with sorority and fraternity members, but they have parties, Scruggs said. “We hang out in each other’s rooms, and go to Applebee’s a lot.”
    Lane recalls spending a lot of time making and listening to music, and was involved in the Glee Club and orchestra, which occupied the majority of her leisure time.
    Scruggs spends a lot of time at football games, tailgating with friends, and said a lot of students hang out at “the square,” a nickname for University Plaza, which holds an assortment of establishments that offer food and alcohol as well as live entertainment.
    Lane had to sign out of her dormitory if she went anywhere. Scruggs laughed at the idea.
    “We had our dates in  the East Hall parlor,” Lane said. “There was no drinking.”
    There is no alcohol allowed at campus parties, and “you can’t drink at all on campus unless you are of age,” Scruggs said.
    When they got hungry, students at Georgia Teacher’s College ate in the dining hall. But off campus, “you could get fried chicken sandwiches at Cecil’s (which was across the campus entrance) for 35 cents,” Lane said.
    Students today pay a lot more than that for a fried chicken sandwich at Chik-fil-A, where many students go for quick on-campus food. “But the best place to eat is Lakeside Cafe, where there are a lot of different choices,” Scruggs said.
    Student apparel is another area where things have changed drastically, both women agreed.
    Scruggs said women wear just about anything to class today.
    “You see people in pajama bottoms and hoodie sweatshirts, and some in heels,” she said. Everyday apparel could include “jeans and a nice sweater ... GSU apparel ... flip flops and “lots of pearls,” she said. “I don’t know if that’s a Southern thing, but people wear a lot of pearls here.”
    When asked what students wore to class when she was in college, Lane’s answer was simple: “Dresses.” Female students never wore pants, and always wore heels, she said.
Costs, favorites, clubs
    Lane said her favorite class was music, of course. “I couldn’t stand math and science.”
    “Neither could I,” Scruggs said. “My favorite class was criminal behavior and my favorite professor is Dr. Sharon Tracy.”
    Lane said her violin teacher, Ernest Harris, had been her favorite.
    The cost of tuition today — around $3,000 a semester — amazed Lane. “When I went to college, if you didn’t live on campus, it cost $18.75 a quarter,” she said.
    Scruggs was fascinated to hear how inexpensive schooling was when Lane was a college student.
    Not only has tuition skyrocketed, but books are outrageous as well, she said. “Books cost $40 to $50 each ... some $100,” she said.
    Lane only brought her clothing when she enrolled at Georgia Teacher’s College. Scruggs brought “clothes, a lap top computer, a TV, VCR, DVD player, radio ... pictures ... a George Foreman grill ... and phones.”
    When Lane was in school, the choices were limited as to which clubs and organizations students could join. She joined the Glee Club, which was a music club, and was a member of the orchestra and the Epicurean Sorority.
    Today, Scruggs has a long list of involvements: working at the office of the Vice President of Student Affairs, a three-year membership in the Student Government Association (one year as vice president), membership on the University Judicial Board, involvement as a Southern Ambassador, membership in the National Black Law Students Association, a member of the Omicron Delta Kappa honor society and more.
Racial issues,         technology
    Scruggs is a young black woman attending Georgia Southern University, where multicultural studies are offered and the sight of couples of different races is common.
    Lane lived in a era where there were no black students at Georgia Teacher’s College, and the subject of black students attending never arose.
    “There was no talk about it,” she said.
    Scruggs said racial issues aren’t a major focus today at Georgia Southern University. There were rumblings last year when a Kanye West concert (which was later canceled due to different reasons) prompted some protests, but there has never been any problem, she said.
    Well, only once, to her knowledge. A racial slur was written on a homecoming candidate’s flyer. The problem was handled promptly. “Overall, relations are really good between students,” she said.
    Born and raised in Millen, Lane met her husband Curtis Lane Sr. in Statesboro while attending college, and married him to become the mother of three — Billy “Bubba” Lane, who is employed at GSU as construction director as well as a professor; Curtis “Butch” Lane Jr., who lives in Metter and is a president of a Glennville bank; and the late Charlotte Lane Brannen.
    Scruggs has “roots scattered all over,” she said. She graduated high school in Huber Heights, Ohio, but lived in “Phoenix, Augusta and England.” A child of a military family, she is the daughter of David Scruggs, retired from the military, and Terry Scruggs, a human resources specialist with the government. She has an older brother, David Scruggs Jr., and currently is single.
    Lane’s and Scruggs’ backgrounds are vastly different, but no more than their experiences.  When Lane studied and did her homework, it was with pencil and paper.
    Scruggs’ main tool is a jump drive, which is rather like a modern-day Trapper Keeper.
    “I think (computers) are wonderful but I don’t even know how to use one,” Lane said. “I guess (today’s technology) is amazing.”
    Scruggs said her teachers today won’t even accept handwritten work. Students hand in assignments printed from computers, on discs, or by e-mail. And since everyone carries jump drives, “I don’t even have to worry about carrying books and paper,” she said. “But it’s different for us because we started with computers in kindergarten.”
    Almost as big a change as technology is students drinking alcohol. When Lane was in school, it just didn’t happen.
     Were there even any bars in the vicinity of Georgia Teachers College? “I didn’t know of any,” she said. “That wasn’t the way of life.”
    But for some students today, it is, Scruggs said.
    “It really depends on who the students are,” she said. “I know some students who are about to graduate who haven’t ever been (to a bar.) And I know some students who, every weekend, they go to bars.”
    But with all the changes and differences, there is still one thing that has remained unchanged since Lane was a Georgia Teachers College student.
    “Education is still one of the best programs at GSU,” Scruggs said. “They are still big on education. That hasn’t changed.”
    Holli Deal Bragg may be reached at 489-9414.
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