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The George Rogers Mural Experience / Booker T. Washington School, Blossom Street: 1990s   30 comments

Posted at 12:22 am in closing

Today's pictures come from commenter Alaska Jill, who says:

Booker T. Washington School/George Rogers Mural: I knew I'd best get
pictures of those while I could, too. These were taken on a chilly
Sunday afternoon in February 1999. The mural of George Rogers was a
Blossom Street landmark and could not be missed.

George Rogers and I were at Carolina together, though to the best of my knowledge, we never crossed paths. What I remember though, is that his winning the Heisman Trophy in 1980 was a big deal. A *really* big deal. Quite possibly a deal that was visible from earth orbit, and influenced local gravitational fields..

It was also somewhat of a surprise. I clearly recall that in the run-up to the award announcement, the Daily Gamecock ran an editorial under the head By George, He hasn't got a chance! enumerating all the reasons why it wasn't going to happen. Not being a sports fan myself, I recall the campus events around John Lennon's death that same year more clearly, but I was certainly aware big events were afoot!

I'm not sure when the murals went up, but they were, as Jill says, landmarks for many years. (The road near the stadium and fairgrounds was renamed for Rogers in the same period). I have the vague memory that the Booker T. Washington building itself was at one time a public high school before the property was taken over by USC. I think both the mural and the building came down while I was living out of town, or at least I have no memory of what happened. Today I can't exactly match where it was on Blossom with what's there now...

George Rogers played pro ball until 1987, and is now retired. Wikipedia doesn't really say anything about him after that. It would not surprise me if he had a car dealership or a real estate business somewhere.

(Thanks to Alaska Jill).

UPDATE 18 July 2018 -- Here are some more pictures from commenter JHT who says

You can see this was taken before he was even drafted into the NFL as it is blank.




Written by ted on March 24th, 2012

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30 Responses to 'The George Rogers Mural Experience / Booker T. Washington School, Blossom Street: 1990s'

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  1. I was 10 in 1980, which i guess put me in 4th or 5th grade, and i clearly remember being in the lunch room at DF Elementary and someone announcing over the PA that Rogers had won the Heisman. And i also remember not having a clue what the Heisman was. Which is weird because i have always been a big sports fan. I guess i hadnt been in the South long enough to really become a fan of college football. (We moved here when i was in 1st grade from the college football wasteland of the northeastern US)

    Anyway, thanks for the pics. That mural was pretty awesome


    24 Mar 12 at 5:06 am

  2. It's impossible to capture just how big a deal George Rogers and the Heisman were then. My family was staunchly pro-Gamecock (in spite of never having gone there), and my brother had the replica George Rogers jersey and all that. My parents even tracked down a copy of the "Gamecock Rock" LP, and its B-side had a hymn to George Rogers called "Running to Glory." I still have it somewhere....

    Every time I passed by that mural when I was at USC, it brought all those memories back. Thanks, Ted, for giving my snapshots a home, and for taking me back on a Saturday morning.

    Alaska Jill

    24 Mar 12 at 6:41 am

  3. The building was here:, on Blossom, across from where Bull ends, down the hill from the student center on Greene. I transferred to USC in Spring 98, and my first parking ticket (the things you remember, huh?) was in the dirt lot next to this building (somehow, I was charged with not being completely in a parking space in a dirt lot...).

    The work on the new housing complex/green space that's currently on that site definitely began while I was at USC (Spring 98 - Spring 01), and I recall it not being too long after I started there, but long enough for me to first get that ticket. So I'd estimate late 98-99.


    24 Mar 12 at 7:01 am

  4. Oh, and if the pictures are from February 99, then definitely 1999. I missed that part...


    24 Mar 12 at 7:05 am

  5. Not only was Booker T. Washing a High School through the 70's, but McMaster was originally a high school and so was "University High School" which was/is on South Main..that's until USC took over these buildings I think in the 50's or there of. I remember Booker T. High School with all those kids around because my Mom used to go by way when she would take me to the original Heathwood Hall school over on Heathwood Circle in the 60's.

    Saturday's child

    24 Mar 12 at 8:49 am

  6. Oh, and I was never really impressed by George Rogers, and never could understand what all the big deal was about anyhow, and still dont. But I guess not being a big USC fan and things I didnt and dont pay it all that much attention.

    Saturday's child

    24 Mar 12 at 8:51 am

  7. My little brother ( he's 36 and I'm 53 ) had that Gamecock picture disc with that REALLY IRRITATING Gamecock Rock song on it..and I think it's still up on the wall at my Mom and Dad's house.

    Saturday's child

    24 Mar 12 at 8:55 am

  8. I wasn't around in 1980 so I don't know what it was like when George Rogers was announced but I remember riding by this mural when I was in elementary school with my grandmother as I had a huge affection for Blossom Street back in the 90s. My grandmother lived in Rosewood and we used to ride by it on the way back to my home.

    George Rogers's son, George Washington Rogers III (Trey) I had the chance to know in high school and he was a good guy...he graduated from Irmo in 2003 (even was on a state championship soccer team that year) and was going to play football at South Carolina but a problem with his spine put the brakes on that.

    Thank you Alaska Jill for reminding me of one of my memories of Blossom Street from the 90s.


    24 Mar 12 at 11:15 am

  9. All about Booker T. Washington high school:

    BTW was proudly all black and closed in 1974 right after Columbia got serious about desegregation. Their mascot was the Tornadoes, and you will still see the occasional black and gold front license plate with a BTW Tornado on it. Washington Carver Village, the large housing project on Beltline, has a very active men's amateur softball team named the Tornadoes in honor of the school.

    While I was at USC 1975 - 1980 the building was used by the art dept., with a big ceramics studio downstairs (where I spent a lot of late nights), and graphic design classes were in old classrooms upstairs. Textiles and fiber arts classes were down there too. The drama dept. used the big old stage in the school's auditorium to rehearse plays. I lived a few miles from campus and just appropriated four or five of the old high school metal lockers in the hall to keeps lots of books and stuff in. Had to write down all the combinations because I could never remember them all. We art majors considered this and Sloan College our turf. The Climb up Pickens Street to get back to the main campus was brutal.

    The George Rogers mural was done by USC art professor Gunars Strazdins, with help from his students. He did one in the same style that ran along the side of the Big Star grocery at old Midland Shopping Center.


    24 Mar 12 at 4:13 pm

  10. Here is a poor view of the second mural Dennis mentions. I'll try to get a better picture of it some time.


    24 Mar 12 at 5:49 pm

  11. I remember when GR got busted for cocaine and someone spray painted white all up under his nose.


    26 Mar 12 at 6:41 am

  12. And soon after all that happend with George, USC had the entire mural painted over with white paint. So I highly doubt that the majority if not all the current USC kiddies and others would have a clue as to who George Rogers is/was and couldnt care less. USC has a way of picking things or people or doing things that seem to always go in the opposite direction of what they think it's gonna happen. USC is just mis-guided.

    Saturday's child

    26 Mar 12 at 8:19 am

  13. George is currently employed by USC. To the best of my knowledge he has never gone into any major private business deals.


    26 Mar 12 at 8:22 am

  14. I don't think they ever repainted over the mural with white paint after his drug arrest. He got in trouble in the 90s, but this mural was up after that -- I was still parking next to in 1992. It was around until they tore it down in 1999 or whenever for the renovations -- and I am sure about that because I have a poster in my office that is a photo of the mural being torn down with the phrase "The Cocks will rise again." I can't seem to find a link to the poster on the internet anywhere or I would post it.


    23 May 12 at 12:53 pm

  15. I had heard it was a bag of flour instead of spray paint, but it could all be a urban legend. Cannot remember if there was residuals in his nostril on his mug shot. I seem to remember that there was. I know that Neil Young had some on the VHS copy of "The Last Waltz" that was removed for the DVD release.

    Oh, and Saturday's Child, (March 26, 2012), your orange and purple is showing.


    23 May 12 at 1:36 pm

  16. By the way there Jonathan..I'm not nor have I ever been a fan of "sports" especially USC and Clemsux.. I dont care for the country backwooded farm boys of the upper state area, and I dont care for the boozing backwooded hicky hillbillies of Columbia either. I like to bowl actually and my idea of "golf" is "Frankie's Fun Park".. I dont care for USC baseball either. If it's boring, then it's not worth my time to watch it. Watching USC play is about as exciting as watchin the grass grow. This has been a Public Service Announcement.

    Saturday's child

    23 May 12 at 3:46 pm

  17. Saturday's Child summed up my feelings towards golf an tennis. I don't know anything about tennis except that two people on opposite sides of the net swing a yellow ball back and forth with rackets. When sports reporters start talking about golf terms, they speak a foreign language to me.

    The only good thing for me about golf is that the Master's tourtament in Augusta meant several of US Airways' PHL-CAE runs got upgraded where I could see a couple of Embraer 170/75 visits to CAE...


    23 May 12 at 9:03 pm

  18. Baseball is the only sport I know of that crams 15 minutes of action into three hours.


    24 May 12 at 6:34 am

  19. Saturday's Child. It sounded more like a test of the National Weather Service than a PSA, but I get your point. I apologize for calling you a Clemson fan.

    But to be fair, watching bowling on TV (not sure anyone would go to a bowling alley to watch bowling, as they would a ball park/golf tournament) is actually worse than watching baseball or golf on TV. "Hey, he gets paid to bowl and he bowled another strike. Surprise." I get it though, to each his own.


    24 May 12 at 8:41 am

  20. I think if you actually timed the action in football from snap to whistle, it probably would not be more than 20 minutes, and games can last three hours--so not that much different from baseball, if any.


    24 May 12 at 9:01 am

  21. My dad has been active in the bowling hall of fame all of his adult life and on the side, he actually inspects bowling alley lanes. Imagine taking equipment and measuring the lane width, gutter depth and taking a tape, running another piece of it and then having a special reader develop a graph of the amount of oil on a bowling alley lane. Keep in mind that said oil makes it very slippery to walk on.

    The game clock in football is designed to last 60 minutes (4 15 minute quarters). Each team gets 3 timeouts per half. Couple that with the fact that the clock stops on first down plays (in NCAA) and out of bounds plays, and you have what paves the way for a game to last 3-3.5 hours in real time.


    24 May 12 at 5:11 pm

  22. BTW was part of forced integration in the early 70s. It was an integrated shcool from, I beleive 1971 until it closed in 1974. I attended the shcool and graduated in 1973. It was a tumultous time.


    17 Aug 12 at 11:26 pm

  23. My husband, Ralph Waldrop, painted the mural of George Rogers.
    Someone did vandalize it by throwing white paint.

    Debbie McDaniel

    23 Dec 12 at 11:08 am

  24. So glad to see this. I hated to see them tear this down. I think it must have been right after these pics were taken. I actually was thinking it came down in 98, but I guess it was a bit later. I remember them building that new dorm during the summer of 99.

    Mr Bill

    3 Jan 13 at 12:13 pm

  25. Trust me. Kids today, especially those interested in the Gamecocks, know who George Rogers is. One of the main ones that looks up to him is a kid named Marcus Lattimore. I got into sports afte he left USC just in time to see him play for the Redskins! With all the good players from the last five years or so on teh team, George Rogers is always mentioned in the same breath as one of the all time greats.

    Joe Hinson

    1 Mar 13 at 2:06 pm

  26. So, what was a bigger deal this past football season, J. Manziel or Alabama (or that really, really weird ND LB internet thing, lol)? A follow up question later, and I think you can all see where it is going. BTW, why has Big George never been given a chance to be an on air TV or radio personality for SoCar? Never understood that. As Joe H. eluded to, surely he is more beloved by the kids today and the old timers than the Todd.


    3 Mar 13 at 5:35 pm

  27. Someone was kind enough to save a brick from the wall and gave it to my husband who painted the mural.

    Debbie McDaniel

    11 Sep 14 at 7:09 pm

  28. I have photographs of the mural I took when it was being painted, and mostly completed. I used to park in the dirt and grass lot beside BTW and had a public speaking class in BTW. I took the pictures at that time. If I can figure out where to email the photos for this site I'll send them.


    16 Jul 18 at 8:57 pm

  29. The old picture disc Gamecock Rock from 1980 was mentioned here. Several songs including the still catchy title song are on You Tube. Search Gamecock Rock and it should be the first match. YT user JShropshier posted 4 songs from the album, including one about Coach Jim Carlen, "Big Spur", about the mascot that preceded Cocky. "Jim Carlen you're the coach for me, since the Cookeville Killers back in Tennessee...". And the song "George, You're Number One" is out there too. The mascot Big Spur was killed off because he was too scary for little kids, and replaced by Cocky.


    16 Jul 18 at 9:07 pm

  30. I don't publish the email except on request and slightly obfuscated to keep down spam, but closings at columbiaclosings dot cmo should do it after you make the obvious fixes.


    16 Jul 18 at 11:02 pm

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