Charles Drew athletics remembered
It has been 50 years since the Purple Cobras played sports at Charles Drew High School.
Those days may be long gone, but they are not forgotten by those who loved their school.
In the early 1900s, the only means of education that black children received was through homes and churches.
In the early 1940s, the South Eunice Colored School – a three room school building – was formed to educate first and second graders.
Then came North Eunice Colored School for third through eighth graders.
Through the persistence of parents and community leaders, the St. Landry Parish School Board, North Eunice High School was formed (located where East Elementary is).
In 1951, Eunice Colored High was constructed and opened its doors for black students.
On June 19, 1952, the School Board changed the name to Charles Drew High School, in honor of the doctor who was instrumental in the study blood plasma and the establishment of blood banks.
The integration of St. Landry Parish schools in 1969 brought Charles Drew students to Eunice High and the property became Central Middle School.
The 18-year history of Charles Drew is remembered fondly by those who attended including the Loeb children.
Brenda Loeb Hardy graduated from Charles Drew in 1962.
“It was a great academic school,” she said. “We had great teachers.
“We did well at the literary rallies every year,” she said. “We did well in speech and drama. English, math and social studies – those type subjects.”
Brenda was a cheerleader and played tennis her senior year.
Her father Charles Phillip Loeb Jr. was a principal at Lawtell Elementary and Carter G. Woodson High School until 1966 when he became supervisor of secondary education.
After integration, parish superintendent John Dupre appointed Loeb as assistant superintendent in 1971.
Loeb was the first black male assistant superintendent in the St. Landry Parish school system and the state of Louisiana. he retired in 1985 and passed away in 2000.
Naomi Thelma Harrison Loeb taught at Charles Drew and then Eunice Elementary until her retirement.
“Education has always been important to us,” Brenda said of her family.
Her great great grandfather Benjiman Hurd organized a Normal school for teachers in Eunice in the 1930s.
“They almost named Charles Drew school after him,” she said.
“I was in second grade when they changed the name from Eunice Colored High School in 1952.
“I was dissapointed that when they closed the school they took the name away,” Brenda said. “I wish they would have kept it known as Charles Drew.”
A 1956 graduate of Charles Drew, Gerald Hardy returned to coach at the school.
“When I went to Charles Drew the only two sports we had was basketball and baseball,” he said. “We didn’t get football until I came back to coach there.”
Gerald played baseball at Xavier and also in the U.S Army.
He was drafted by a major league team but declined and returned to Eunice to teach at Charles Drew.
“I went to college for social studies and got my minor in English” he said. “But when thr principal asked me to coach I was glad to do that.”
Gerald coached baseball, basketball, tennis and football in his time at Charles Drew.
He also coached girls basketball as the Lady Cobras made it to the state semifinals.
Charles Drew started playing football in 1964 and Charles Loeb III was the first quarterback.
“He was a very smart student. We didn’t have to worry about if he would forget what the plays were.
“He was a very good athlete in a diverse offense,” Hardy said. “We threw a lot of passes but we also had some pretty good running backs as well.”
Other football standouts included Michael Victorian, James Price, Johnny Alford, Wilbert Frank, Louis Toussaint, Milton Guillory, Anthony Guillory. and others.
Hardy rememebered the tennis star Daniel Fontenot who advanced to the state tournament twice in his high school career.
Hardy said they Charles Drew athletes competed against J.S. Clark, Plaisance, Paul Lawrence Dunbar (Washington), H.C. Ross (Crowley), James Stephens (Ville Platte), Betheune High (Marksvile), Sunset, and other area schools.
Charles Drew stars from back then included Maxielle Gallow, Clifton Lemelle, Alvin Thomas, Ronald Green, William Love, Richard Bell, Adam Armstrong, Lutheran Williams, Eric Fruge and others.
Female athletes were Alice Cole, Velma Price Mitchell, Anna Mae Doucet, Ethel Frank, Myrtle Edwards, Jaunita Doucet, Anna Mae Doucet, Rose Harris, Lena Mae Allison, Margurite Fruge, Juanita Doucet and others.
“Gladys Skinner was probably my best female athlete,” Hardy said. “She was really good.”
Baseball was a good sport for the Cobras as well.
“Carl Anderson and his brother Houston were real good athletes,” the coach said. “They came from a very athletic family.”
Hardy worked under head football coaches Alvin Taylor and Freddy Alford.
After Charles Drew closed, Hardy moved to Eunice High and was an assistant coach in football with Joe Nagata and basketball with Dixie Saucier.
Later he served two years as the assistant principal at EHS, before being named the principal of Central Middle – on the same Charles Drew campus.
“Being an educator gives you the opportunity to work on a close knit basis with the kids,” he said. “It takes three institutions to raise a child – the church, the school and the family home.
“I wanted to help the kids reach their goals.”
Cynthia Loeb Tarver is a 1968 Charles Drew graduate who then earned a degree from Southern University.
Her husband Leon Tarver was president of Southern University from 1997 to 2005.
“I loved Charles Drew,” she said. “It was a great experience as we had great teachers.
“I was sad when it closed,” she said. “I am very proud to be a Charles Drew graduate.”
Tarver said the school was a close knit community and she made life-long friends from those days.
“All of our teachers either graduated from Southern, Grambling, Xavier or Dillard,” she said. “So we received a high quality education.”
Cynthia was a basketball player and ran track for the Cobras.
“I am a very competitive person,” she said. “I hate to lose at anything – I had to win.”
She said her parents encouraged her to be involved in athletics as they both participated in sports themselves.
“I was the first eighth grader to play on the high school basketball team,” Tarver said. “I started playing in the sixth grade
“I played rough and was a fighter on the court,” Tarver said. “We made it to state competition my first year with the varsity.”
They lost to DeRidder in the tournament held at Grambling.
“At the time our positions were called roving forwards and roving guards,” she said. “I always played a roving forward because I was the best dribbler.”
Tarver averaged 25 points a game, she said.
Tarver also remembered other Charles Drew athletes such as Alice Cole, Hilda St. Andre, and her younger sister Sheila Loeb Dixon (who graduated from Eunice High).
“Both the boys and girls track teams did well,” Tarver said. “We had some very fast runners.”
Mary Ann Frank, Emily Rose Alfred and coach Hardy were her teachers, she said.
“My teachers in high school and college prepared me for the bigger world,” she said. “You knew you were ready to compete against the best.”