You Know You’re a Real (80s) Florida A&M Rattler When…

If you were anything like me, your years at college were an exciting yet terrifying experience, preparing you for a competitive world that couldn’t wait to swallow you up and spit you back to your old bedroom in your parents’ home. There you were, young and alone, reduced to being an “unknown”, after enjoying life at a high school where you were well-known, respected and loved.

This new existence found you, thrust in an environment where your closest family was now your strange roommate with habits you never considered (and many you never even heard of)! But you had to make it work as you made new friends, dated new people and scrounged to find the money to entertain both, all the while trying to concentrate on your studies despite the deafening roar of the boom boxes throughout the dorm, the fighting in the hallway and your growling stomach.

If you didn’t go to Florida A&M University or an HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities), some of the following will be lost on you, but most all current and former college students should appreciate it to some degree…

This is my repost of my Facebook and “Rattler Roundup” articles in 2009.

Let’s begin, shall we?

I can’t speak for today’s generation because times and conditions have changed; however, in the mid-late 80s, you officially cut your fangs by doing the following – and sadly, the majority of this, I list from personal experience:

You Know You’re A Real 80s Florida A&M Rattler When…

  • You slipped/tripped (resulting in a humiliating fall) while walking/running on “the set”. You got your gold-embroidered seal if you were chasing the bus.
  • You walked to Spur Convenience Store in the middle of the night because you were starving after a 2-meal Sunday in the cafeteria.
  • You got busted by FAMU Police for “swimming” with a ‘partner’ in the pool after hours. (Guilty and proud)
  • You borrowed .50 just to buy a pack of 2/$1 cookies from the bookstore for dinner.
  • You sold books back to the bookstore to pay for a date.
  • You stole and sold someone ELSE’S books to the bookstore to pay for a date.
  • You called home and lied about needing money… …to pay for a date.
  • You sold plasma/blood down on Tennessee Street… …to pay for a date. You got your gold rattle if you passed out DURING the date from blood loss because you were underweight to begin with (not a problem for me NOW).
  • You ran to class in your pajamas and slippers for an 8:00 a.m. class because it was test day and the teacher said she would lock the doors, 1 minute after class time (Guilty again, as many of you remember. But I took my TEST!).
  • You purchased a can of pop/soda from “Soul Train” (RIP).
Hoover “Soul Train” Lawrence (RIP)
  • You waited in line for 2+ hours just to register for classes or get your housing &/or Financial Aid situation straightened out.
  • You sat on your bed at night, watching your roommate sleep, wondering if you could convince the judge that he fell on a knife 6 times (because he ate your peanut butter and crackers without asking).
  • You got yelled at by the old man at the FAMU Post Office.
  • You played pingpong/pool/bowling, knowing darn well you should have been cramming for finals.
  • Skinner’s Fried Chicken was your comfort food.
  • Tom Browne Park, Lake Ella or the 4th floor of the band building. Well, you know…
  • You took dozens of pictures that you couldn’t afford to get developed. Don’t you hate these kids today with their digital cameras and smart phones? It just ain’t fair!
  • You endured the collective funk of several unknown culprits in the stands during HOMECOMING!!!! Some o’ y’all smelled like bitter booty and re-used mahogany caskets.
  • Speaking of Homecoming, you didn’t wonder who that little old lady was who walked out onto the field at halftime and started dancing alongside the band. Because she was FAMUly.
Henrietta “Pee Wee” Jefferson (RIP): never once tackled by security.
  • You questioned why the cafeteria was serving oatmeal with raisins without an option for plain. Wait, come to think of it, those weren’t raisins!
  • You had to explain to a Florida State Seminole that “Omega Oil” was NOT a sexual lubricant. Well, I guess you COULD use it that way too if you mixed it with cocoa butter.
  • You told your roommate you’d kill him/her if they woke you up, going to or coming back from ROTC.
  • Your version of a romantic night out was the “3 M’s” (Movies + Maxie’s + Motel).
  • The “Movies” part of the 3 M’s was the Varsity Theater ($1 tickets).
  • If you couldn’t afford a motel, you removed the sheets from the heated waterbed, coated it with baby oil, got naked and tried to hold on to your partner like a greased pig. Wait, am I speaking for myself here?
  • Musicland, Record Bar, Turtles and Vinyl Fever. Any questions?
  • When you couldn’t afford to build your music collection from the aforementioned, you ordered 13 music cassette tapes from Columbia House for a penny under 3 different names (your poor roommates) with no intention of paying for the subsequent required orders.
  • You heard the infamous Marching 100 Intro/Call (“Whoooooaaaaahh!”) in the cafeteria and quickly exited because you knew food was about to start flying…
“Food Fiiiiiiiiiiight!!”
  • You proudly wore your paraphernalia on the Gold &/or Garnet Route buses to silently, yet boldly acknowledge that you went to Florida A&M and NOT FSU.
  • You quickly HID all of your Green & Orange gear in your apartment and broke out your Garnet and Gold ‘nalia to convince your super-fine FSU date that you did NOT go to FAMU and that you actually had MONEY!
  • You went BACK to the FAMU pool, after you got busted with your partner for “swimming” after hours; the following night – and got busted AGAIN (Guilty AGAIN)!
  • If you DID get busted by campus police, it was always by “Quick Draw” (he told me that he got that name because he was quick to write a student up).
  • You used your financial aid check to purchase the baddest outfits; not for church, but for the dances and football/basketball games.
  • You waited until AFTER a fight between the football team – Kappas – Omegas, etc., then walked around like you were actually IN the fight; fists balled, huffin’ and puffin’, screaming, “This ain’t over! This ain’t OVER!!!” (I didn’t do it, but I know who DID!)
  • You acted like you didn’t see those roaches (or Palmetto bugs) at your woman’s/man’s apartment, so as not to embarrass them.
  • You never invited your girl/guy over because YOU had a roach infestation… (this applies to those of you that were fortunate enough to live in The ‘Plex!)
  • You never learned the school song, but acted like you were the lead singer of the choir at the games with your terrible lip-syncing (Band members are exempt. HA!).
  • You left the stands and went home after the halftime show.
  • You finally went to Convocation because Debbye Turner was the guest speaker.
  • Your mother’s new silverware collection actually consisted of the forks, knives and spoons you stole from the cafeteria throughout the course of the semester.
  • You sat in the dorm hallway, staring angrily at another student, hoping that would encourage him/her to get off the damn phone!!!
  • You (ladies) had to go to The Set to find your panties with the applicable Room Number attached. God help you if they got your religious (whole-ly) drawz.
  • You (men) got mugged in the deep end of the swimming pool by the ladies, thinking it was cool until you quickly found your swim trunks gone from your body (I had to walk out of the pool, butt-naked to get them off the fence). Good ‘ol Spring Break…
  • You cleared your schedule to watch “A Different World” in the main lobby with everyone else, whose lives were nothing like the characters to begin with (especially Season ONE).
  • You purchased a pair of “Dwayne-Wayne” flip-up sunglasses from me and my crew at Jean’s West clothing store at Gov.’s Sq. Mall.
FAMU Reps (l-r; 1, 5 & 6) Kenny “Zoot” Davis, Alana Oglesby and Daryl Davis
  • You purchased acid/stone-washed bib overalls to go with those sunglasses.
  • You asked God if it was ok to kill your next door neighbor from South Florida for banging on your apartment door at 4 a.m. because snowflakes were finally falling outside (but melted 12 feet before touching the ground). Really? You don’t know what snow looks like? You gotta wake me up to see something like that? I grew up in blizzards!
  • You couldn’t spell half the streets you drove on like Miccosukee Road and Apalachee Parkway.
  • You stayed after the game at Bragg Stadium or hopped the fence on Sunday, to collect FAMU cups to give to your parents, adding to that fine silverware you’ve been stealing…
  • You woke up, in the middle of the night to that hairy sensation against your leg after spring break, only to discover that the dorm sanitation crew had not properly exterminated while you were out of town.
  • You woke up, LATER in the night, to another hairy feeling on your leg, switched on the light and yelled to your roommate, “how many times do I have to tell you?!? I’m Bilingual man, Bi-LINGUAL!!!! Get it right…!”
  • You relived (or at least imagined) everything you just read…
Sampson Hall – Rm. 212 (1985 – Freshman Year)

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed your trip down Orange Avenue! 

Share the love and reply with AT LEAST one memory ( actually, as many as you like) in the comment section below.

Rattlerrrrrrr, Rattleration – We’re the Rattlers, of the nation-
When we fight with, determination – We create a, a sensation-
Rattlerrrrrrr (Rattle-Rattle-Rattle-RAttlllllle…)

Like what you read? Follow my page (at the bottom) to get first notification of future posts. If you’ve read any of my nonsense over the past year, you know it gets worse with each post…


  1. Remember freshman year when they sold those green and orange trumpets(?) in the book store? They were so loud!! LOL

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Remember going through the freshman yearbook and plotting with your gang who you were going to “meet” by accident?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. LOL Try being in the dorms during pre-drill, surrounded by bandmembers who played, all evening long, KNOWING we had to get up early!


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