He’s spent time with the Queen of England, gone fishing with Ted Turner and shaken hands with dignitaries. But, Hoover P. Lawrence is best known for being a true legend on FAMU’s campus.
Lawrence, known to the community as Soul Train, died Monday morning just shy of his 90th birthday.
Soul Train was best known for snacks and a drink. His daughter says Soul Train sold snacks on campus for almost 50 years.
“He’s Uncle Hoover,” said Diane Hall, his niece. “But, most of the time, I called him Unc.”
To the rest of us, he was Soul Train, chugging across FAMU’s campus for decades. He sold, and in some cases gave, snacks to students and anyone who came his way.
“He would say, ‘What you like? Get whatever you need. Get something to drink. You don’t want anything to eat?’ He knew I liked the oatmeal pies. He already had one set aside,” Hall said, recalling one of those moments.
Soul Train was more than the snack man. Raised in Jefferson County, family members say he was an avid reader, an entrepreneur and an enterpriser.
“Soul Train, he was an icon in his own way,” said Tallahassee resident Don Tolliver.
Tolliver says he always saw Soul Train at FAMU events, whether it was on campus, at a parade, or at a football or basketball game.
“Soul Train was an icon from being a well-established person, being friendly to everyone,” Tolliver said. “Nobody was a stranger to him. Everybody he met, he was a kindhearted soul, and he was a great person.”
Georgia Dawkins, a 2010 FAMU graduate, said, “For so many of us, our first act of independence was being able to go to the corner store and buy our own snacks with our own money. The moon pies, the oatmeal pies, the Cool Ranch Doritos, the Capri Sun, you name it. Soul Train, you brought that experience to the highest of Seven Hills, and for that, we are grateful.”
Current students never got that experience. Soul Train had to hang up the cooler just a few years ago.
“My brother and sister who are alumni of the university, they’ve definitely told me a few stories about him. How he would always be on the ‘Set’ selling really inexpensive snacks. I actually heard someone say the other day, he would offer liquid for cooling systems and stuff like that. So, he did a lot. I can tell, through their voices, the impact that he had on them,” said FAMU student Kameron Gomez.
Lawrence’s nickname came from a big white truck. On the side was a picture of the dance show, Soul Train, that was going through illustrations of the city of Tallahassee.