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Oral History Interview with JoAnne Smart Drane by Hermann Trojanowski


Date: June 5, 2008

Interviewee: Elizabeth JoAnne Smart Drane

Biographical abstract: Elizabeth JoAnne (nee Smart) Drane was one of the first two African-American students to enroll at Woman's College in 1956.

Interviewer: Hermann Trojanowski

Description: This June 5, 2008, oral history interview conducted by Hermann Trojanowski primarily documents JoAnne Smart Drane's recollections of her time at Woman's College (now UNCG) from 1956 to 1960, where she was one of the school's first African American students.

Subjects:

Format of original: Oral History

Collection: Institutional Memory Oral History Project

Repository: The University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Item#: 1.81.1339

Rights: It is responsibility of the user to follow the copyright law of the United States (Title 17, U.S. Code). Materials are not to be reproduced in published works without written consent, and any use should credit Civil Rights Greensboro and the appropriate repository.



Oral History Interview with JoAnne Smart Drane by Hermann Trojanowski

Herman J. Trojanowski:

Today is Thursday, June 5, 2008. My name is Hermann Trojanowski. I’m at the home of JoAnne Smart Drane in Raleigh, North Carolina, and we’re here to conduct an oral history interview for the UNCG [The University of North Carolina at Greensboro] Institutional Memory Collection.

JoAnne, thank you so much for seeing me this afternoon. If you tell me your name, we will see how you sound on this machine.

JoAnne Smart Drane:

Okay. My name is Elizabeth JoAnne Smart Drane.

HJT:

I’d like to start the interview today by asking about your background, about when you were born, where you were born and something about your family.

JSD:

Okay. I was born here in Raleigh, October 20, 1938 at St. Agnes Hospital. My parents are Cora and Monroe Smart. I am an only child. I never had any brothers or sisters. Spent all of my early childhood in Raleigh, and until I went to school in Greensboro, that’s where I was for 18 or 17 or 18 years. We lived in the section of town that was called Fourth Ward. It was largely a black community with fringes of several white families near—very near to where we lived, and growing up I played with some of the little white kids in that area, but for the most part it was a predominantly black neighborhood.

HJT:

Now, where is the Fourth Ward?

JSD:

Fourth Ward is near downtown Raleigh. It’s, uh, the street that I grew up on was Saunders Street, and it’s within I would say seven or eight blocks from the downtown area near an area that now is called Boylan Heights, and the school for the white children in my neighborhood was within two blocks of where I lived, but instead I walked ten-twelve blocks to the all-black elementary school which was some distance from my home, but it would have been very easy for me to have gone two blocks away to the predominantly - or to the all-white school that was behind us.

HJT:

Now, where did you go to high school?

JSD:

Went to high school [at] Ligon, John W. Ligon High School, and Ligon was a fairly new school. As a matter of fact, I was in the first sophomore class at Ligon, and that would have been in ’53. It was built, I think, in response to the efforts of Southerners to really stand behind the separate but equal provisions, because many of the schools were separate, but certainly not equal, and Ligon was built in the early 1950s. So, when I went it was a brand new school, and my class was the first sophomore class in that facility.

HJT:

This was not an integrated school, I assume?

JSD:

It was not. It was an all-black high school, all-black teachers, all-black students. As a matter of fact it was called a junior senior high school. So, it had grades seven through twelve.

HJT:

Do you recall what your favorite subjects were in high school?

JSD:

I certainly off the top of my head know what my favorite sub—my—the subjects that were not my favorite subjects, and they were math. I did not like math. I was not a particularly good math student. Nor did I really like English, and I think one of the reasons is that we spent a lot of time conjugating verbs, and that is the most interesting things to do [laughing].

HJT:

It’s one of the most boring—

JSD:

Absolutely, and, so, I thought why would anybody want to study English. I’ve come to certainly appreciate that over the years, but it certainly was not a class that I looked forward to. I didn’t have especially good English teachers, but the other teachers in my school were outstanding, and I am so appreciative to have had the kind of caring, encouraging attitude from most of those teachers who could have been in other times other things, but teaching was a career option that was available to them, while so many others, the doors were closed. So, I think from the standpoint of having some of the best teachers, I was really very blessed to have.

HJT:

Did you participate in any extracurricular activities?

JSD:

I was a cheerleader. I was the president of my class. I participated in student council, glee club, wow. Many of the extracurricular activities in my high school. I was very engaged.

HJT:

Well, why did you decide to attend Woman’s College?

JSD:

I think the major reason is I reflect on this was the Supreme Court decision Brown v. [Board of Education], and the realization that steps had been made to open up opportunities for black students to attend whatever schools they chose to if they were qualified to do so; and, so, once I was aware of Brown v. Board of Education, it just seemed to offer a lot of hope for doing things that had not been done previously; and, so, I realized that, this was an opportunity that could be had. So, why not pursue it?

HJT:

Do you recall how you first found out that this might be a possibility for you?

JSD:

It was very much that once the Supreme Court decision was announced, it was big news in my school. I mean we heard a lot about—about the Supreme Court decision in our classes, by our principal And I think we all had the impression that within the next year we were going to be going to school with white kids, and they were going to be going to school with us. Little did we realize that it would be years and years before, this actually transpired. But at that moment, at that particular time we thought that it was going to be something that we needed to prepare for, because it was on the way.

HJT:

Do you recall if you were encouraged by school counselors or anything like that?

JSD:

Not particularly in terms of, making inroads into certain areas, but we were always told that we needed to be prepared because when it occurred. And I don’t think we thought that we would have to make those kinds of decisions, that they were being made, and we would certainly be involved in them—the actual.

HJT:

To your knowledge, did your high school class mates—do something similar to what you did?

JSD:

Oh, yes, oh, yeah, oh, yeah. As a matter of fact one of my classmates also applied to the Woman’s College, and then two of my classmates were the—were two of the first blacks admitted to North Carolina State University undergraduate. And we all with the exception of the other student who applied to the Woman’s College, we all entered into the previously all-white universities at the same time. The two young men going to State, and I think they may have enrolled in summer school so they would have entered during the summer session, and I didn’t enter into the fall session. But the other young woman did not finish, did not complete her admission requirements. So, therefore, was not admitted. But I expect would have been had she done all of the things that she would have needed to do.

HJT:

Did you apply to any other colleges other than [Woman’s College].

JSD:

I did. I did. I applied specifically to North Carolina Central [College] in Durham. I wanted to apply to Fisk [University] in Nashville, Tennessee because I had heard a lot about Fisk and the outstanding program. And, also, knew some of my teachers who had gone to Fisk. But did not because it was outside the realm of financial possibilities.

HJT:

Fisk is a private institution?

JSD:

It is a private institution in Tennessee, and even though it would have been a wonderful experience, my parents would not have been able to afford it, the tuition. And there wasn’t really, to my knowledge that much difference in the tuition for public institutions in North Carolina at that time whether they be historically black or not. So, it was more reasonable for me to think about going to a public institution in the state. I knew I didn’t want to go—I knew I didn’t want to stay at home and go to school at home. I wanted the experience of going, getting away from home and going to school, so.

HJT:

What had you planned to major—what was your major going to be?

JSD:

Well, largely in the field of education. I didn’t know, I know I wanted to be some kind of a teacher. I didn’t know what I wanted to be an elementary teacher or a high school teacher, but I was more inclined towards high school, I think, than elementary, but it was in the teaching profession.

HJT:

Well, tell me your thoughts about attending an all-white college?

JSD:

Um, boy, that’s a [laughing] that’s a very broad question. I don’t know, Hermann that I really gave a lot of thought to what it was going to be like. I’ve always been very adventuresome and curious. And my expectations, I think, were that this was going to be an interesting experience, and we’ll just see where it takes us. The idea intrigued me of being amongst the first of the black students to attend this school. And I knew that would be a possibility. I didn’t know how many of us would be there or what that might entail. But I had—as I look back over my life, I had a number of experiences that I did not realize at the time that perhaps paved the way for me having the kind of experience I had at Woman’s College.

We talked earlier about the fact that my acceptance letter was sent to Blowing Rock, [North Carolina]. Well, from the time I was nine years old, I accompanied my mother each summer to Blowing Rock. And she worked for a wealthy family who owned a summer home up in Blowing Rock. And for the most part I never saw any other black kids in Blowing Rock at that particularly time. So, the kids that I played with during those summers were either grandchildren or children of wealthy families who had summer homes there.

The—one of the ladies that my mother worked for arranged for me to go to the library after library hours were over, because blacks were not allowed to go to the libraries and there weren’t that many black people in that particular part of the state anyway in particular after the summer season—the summer season was over. But at any rate, she arranged for me to go to the library, check out books, and then be able to return them. I don’t remember the librarian’s name. But she would stay a few minutes afterwards so I could come and go. I went to [laughing] each day there was a—there was a theater downtown—not—well Blowing Rock, the village of Blowing Rock. But at any rate, there was this theater, and it only opened in the afternoon for the matinee, and then it opened again at night, maybe at 7 o’clock or so for the two evening features. And after a certain period of time the box office closed because people who were coming to the movie would be there. I would sneak upstairs in the section where—which was reserved for blacks. So, I saw all these movies. I never told my mother that I was sneaking upstairs. I never had to pay [laughing], because I was sneaking upstairs to watch all these—and this was the era of all the musicals and all that. So, as I think about these various experiences that I had as a young child, and the impressions, that some of those barriers that may have been more prominent for some kids didn’t seem to be as much as a barrier for me. So, I really believed that when they said that black people could go to other schools that somebody meant that. So, that was a privilege and an opportunity for me to take advantage of. I mean, it wasn’t a scary kind of thought at all. I was just looking forward to what the next thing [laughing] was going—what the next thing was going to be, so.

HJT:

Well, how did your parents prepare you for all of this?

JSD:

As I think about it, my—my preparation largely came not so much from my parents as through my teachers once they realized and once they knew that I was going to be going to this previously all-white school. Then they were the ones who talked to me about what kinds of things I might expect, what kind of experiences I might have. And, boosted my courage and that kind of thing. I also had encouragement from a source that might not have expected, and that was a woman who was a friend—who was a friend of the Thompsons, or the ladies that my mother worked for. And she lived in New York. And her last name was Cannon. She was a Mrs. Cannon—I don’t know what the relationship was between—how the Thompsons knew her or whether or not she was of the Cannon family of North Carolina or not. But she said to me that I should—she advised me that I should be very natural that I should not necessarily try to insinuate myself  or put myself in places where I may not be wanted or accepted. And one of the things that I remembered—and she said that a smile does much. You don’t have to be grinning and laughing and overly emotional, but just a smile is sufficient. And I found out that that was very good advice, because it worked very well in my experiences as I recall. And I think the reason that stood out so much to me because there was that caricature of black people always grinning and overreacting. And I certainly did not want that to be the impression that people got from me, but I do remember her thinking that important enough to share with me. And I remembered it. I have all these many years.

HJT:

Well, what did your extended family and your friends think after you were accepted?

JSD:

Well, you get various reactions. I think some people were extremely pleased and proud and patted you on the back and just encouraged you just were so ecstatic about  it, and there were others that were very fearful and who wondered, “Why would you want to do this?” And based on their experiences in other situations, “You know you’re not going to be accepted. You know that people are going to be doing bad things.”  “Why would you want to put yourself in this?” But for the most part I think people were very accepting and curious. And my mother would say that when she would be going back and forth to work she could hardly get to where she was going because people were stopping her and finding out, “How is JoAnne doing? What’s going on with her?”  And some who had given the most negative reactions to it my mother really enjoyed saying that, “She is doing well. She is getting along fine,” and just really showing that this situation could be very different that what people might have expected.

HJT:

How did your dad accept all this?

JSD:

My dad was very, very, um, he didn’t display his emotions very much about this. I think he was rather fearful, probably more fearful than he let on. Neither one of my parents really kind of let on that they were fearful about the situation. But I knew they were. And I ended up doing a lot more reassuring to them, which I think was important, because they heard it from me, and they knew I was okay. As the situation progressed that maybe some of their fears also were not—

HJT:

You sound like you were a very mature 17-year-old.

JSD:

I don’t know that I was, Hermann. But for example, when we talk about my parents role in all this, I told my—I told my mother that I was going to—I didn’t really ask how she felt about it, or my dad. I just simply said, “This is something I wanted to do.” And I don’t think they ever really thought that any thing was going to come of this. I think they were really kind of surprised. And when it did happen, I think they were resigned to the fact that this is something that I said I wanted to do. So, they were supportive, but probably would have preferred that I had gone to Central like my— [laughing].

HJT:

A more safe route?

JSD:

Right, exactly. And I never—and this is selfishness on my part. I guess being an only child even though we were poor and did not have a lot by comparison, but by comparison by the people I knew in my community and my neighborhood, we were okay. But I never really thought about the impact of this on my parents, say, from the standpoint of losing their jobs, or having things said or done that would have been injurious and harmful to them. I just didn’t—I couldn’t conceive of it, so I didn’t, that was naivety on my part. And while to my knowledge none of that actually happened, in hindsight I realize in terms of some things I learned from other people, that all of those were possibilities that could have occurred. And thank God they did not, as I said, as to my awareness. But in talking to some of the other students, I understand that jobs were threatened. And my parents were not educated. So, there weren’t a lot of things that they could have done, other than what they were doing. And my dad was a chauffeur, and worked for one family all of his working life until he died. And my mother worked for the same family for, oh, I’m saying 45-50 years. So, but you just kind of wonder.

HJT:

This family, did they ever say anything to you, the Thompsons?

JSD:

They were very encouraging in my educational foundation and career experiences. Ms.—one of the sisters—there were three sisters: Elizabeth [Thompson], whom I’m named for, Lillian [Thompson], and Daisy [Thompson]. They never married; neither of the three of them had ever married. Their father had been a judge, and my mother began working for them when she was a teenager, like 16 years of age, and worked for that family for the remainder of her life. I never knew their father. He had died before I was born. Elizabeth, who was the youngest of three was an interior decorator, and she had an interior decorator business here in Raleigh. Daisy, who was the youngest of the three sisters, always seemed very interested in how I was doing in school. I mean I can remember getting quarters or dollars for doing—for making A’s or B’s in school if I brought my report card. For every A I got a dollar. For every B I got 50 cents. And I never got anything for C’s. So, there was that incentive to do well in school. They would do things like subscribe to children’s magazines for me. And, so, I was probably the only kid on my block who had a subscription to a magazine coming to my home monthly with stories and games and that kind of—they always gave me books. I don’t think, however, that they thought [laughing] that pouring this interest into me—I really don’t think they thought that eventually I was going to end up in an all-white school. But I am very appreciative for the kinds of things they did to encourage me to excel and to achieve in school. I also think about going back to the Blowing Rock experience. I didn’t even realize this until much later, but Laura Cone of Greensboro had a home next door to the Thompsons’ home, and she had grandchildren and children who would come and spend a portion of their summer with her. And I don’t know how this happened. I assume Ms. Daisy was responsible. When they would go on like trips to Linville Falls or Linville Gorge or hike somehow or another they would take me with them. And, so I got to do some things as—I think the fact that there weren’t that many children first of all in that area. So, I think they sensed the need for me to have interaction with other children. And, so, but I didn’t know who Ms. Cone was. I just knew that the Cone family lived next door to them, and that occasionally when there were things going on with the children they would involve me and include me. That’s the first time I remember hiking down to the Linville Gorge and coming back. I remember that experience quite, quite vividly. But as I said, I didn’t know who she was, and I didn’t really make the association. I mean she had no—no involvement in my selecting Woman’s College as a choice of school. But when I found out who she was I thought, “Wow, that was—that’s the same Ms. Cone that used to live next door to the Thompsons then.” So, but anyway. I don’t know if I answered that question. I’ve been going on all over the place at this point.

HJT:

Well, tell the story about how you found out that you’d been accepted to Woman’s College.

JSD:

Okay. It was—I believe it was August 11, and it was in the evening. My mother and I were in what were the servant’s quarters. And one of the Thompson women came and said I had a long distance phone call which, just boggled my—I wasn’t expecting, I really wasn’t expecting to be informed this way at all. So, I went to answer the phone. And there was this reporter who identified himself as a reporter with the Associated Press. And he—and the first thing he said was, “How does it feel to be the first black accepted at the Woman’s College.” So, that hit me like a ton of bricks, because I had not received my acceptance letter. And it was getting fairly close to the beginning of school, because it was mid-August. And I had not heard anything from North Carolina Central, which is where I really thought that, I mean, I would have gotten the acceptance. And, so, I mean I was just—I was—it was mind boggling. And I don’t really remember a lot of what I said to the reporter at that time. But I was quoted in the papers as saying how pleased I was that I had been accepted. And when I finished the conversation I could hardly get back [laughing] to our quarters to share with my mother that I had been accepted. And we were—I mean all kinds of thoughts, feelings and all those kinds of things went through. I don’t even know if I slept that night, because it was probably close to about 8:30 or 9 when I got the letter—I don’t know. I mean when I got the phone call. I don’t know how early it had been before he had gotten that information. It was, yeah.

HJT:

Do you recall what the reaction was on campus when you first arrived the first day of school in the fall of 1956?

JSD:

Well, when I—when I first arrived there was no hoopla. And there wasn’t this situation where people were standing around and aggravated and hostile. And none of those kinds of things. We arrived on campus pretty unobtrusively. We—well, I take that—when I say that—when we got—my dad’s car overheated somewhere near the campus [laughing], and, so, when we drove on campus there was all this smoke billowing out of his vehicle. And, so, I mean [laughing] that was a very embarrassing moment for me personally. I mean it was a real emergency for my parents. But at any rate some men who were nearby, some black men who were nearby came and helped my dad with the car. It apparently needed some water in the radiator. But while he was taking care of that my mom and I went into McIver [Building] and registered, and I don’t recall, it was just very calm. I mean there was no—it was just like anybody else might have gone in to get their registration materials and being directed to where they needed to go, and that kind of thing. So, and once we got to the dorm, we were processed through the dorm, told where we needed to go to unload our things. And Bettye [Tillman] was already there. She had gotten there earlier that day. As I recall we were—this was about 2 or 3 o’clock in the afternoon when we got there. But unlike the situation with the—in Alabama with the governor standing in the door and blocking the enrollment of the students in Georgia or in some of those other places, there was just none of that. So, for that I am very, very grateful.

HJT:

Well, tell me about your first days on campus, what was it like, and what did you do?

JSD:

As I recall, there were a lot of orientation kinds of activities scheduled. And we were placed in small groups. Interestingly, Bettye and I were never in the same group. I don’t know whether that was intentional or it just happened that way. But she was in another group, and I was in—we were kind of split up. And as I recall the orientation consisted of helping us navigate the campus, which was certainly a much smaller campus than it is today. And there were some activities designed for us to meet staff, administrative staff like there was a tea at the president’s house and some of those kinds of things. The students were fairly standoffish, in those small groups. But there was one student I remember who I connected with and who seemed very comfortable with another black—with a black student. So, she always, when we went places it was like she would always be very close, very nearby, and that kind of thing. So, I didn’t feel that I was isolated totally from all of the others. There were students who didn’t really want to—because of the culture of that day, probably, demanded that kind of behavior. But there was always somebody who sensed connected with you on some basis, so that was very important to making things go as smoothly and as well as they did. In my dorm, for example, we were divided up into sections, and even though Bettye and I were the only two students in a wing of that dorm, when the sections met, we were attached to one of those—one of those sections. And there were always one or two girls in those section meetings who you felt you could relate to or they related to you.

HJT:

Now, exactly what is a section?

JSD:

Well, I don’t know if you know Shaw [Residential Hall].

HJT:

Just from the outside.

JSD:

Okay. In the interior of the dorm—let’s say on the second floor, there would be—they would divide the hall into two parts. One part would be section one, another part would be section two. On the third floor, they would have—they were small groups. And, so, those small groups, then, would have what they call section meetings. And, so, Bettye and I were assigned to one of those small groups for whatever information was shared, whatever planning was done as a part of that group. We were made a part of that particular section. Ordinarily, had we been assigned to the wing of the dorm that we were on, that would have been one section. There were just two of us. So, they had to put us somewhere—into somewhere else.

HJT:

How long did divisions last like that? How long did you have your own half the dorm?

JSD:

Entire year.

HJT:

The entire year?

JSD:

Yes, the entire year. My understanding about how integration came about in the dorms is that—this would have been my junior year. They were still—my junior year they were—there was a freshman dorm, and there were five or six students assigned, black students, assigned to that dorm. Should we stop for a minute?

[Recording paused]

HJT:

I think we were talking about Shaw Hall—how it had been divided in your junior year, and that sort of thing.

JSD:

Well, in my junior year I lived in Ragsdale [Residence Hall], and Ragsdale and Mendenhall [Residence Hall] were the two newest dorms at that particular time, but there were an additional five or so black students on campus, and they were assigned to one of the freshman Quad Dorms. Edith Wiggins, who was a freshman at that time, shared with me that they—in her dorm the white girls were assigned three and four to a room, and they were aware that there were these empty rooms on the first floor where the black students were housed, and inquired if they could move into some of those rooms because they were two and three—I mean three and four in a room. So, they had gone to the administration, asked permission to move to the lower floor in some of those vacant rooms and were told that they could do so only if their parents would agree, would consent.

HJT:

So, while you were a junior there was still one room—one floor was set aside—

JSD:

For black students, for black students. And there were only five of them. So, you think about—how many students were denied at admission because there wasn’t the housing for them? And, then, how many students were stacked three and four to a room just so they could live on campus.

HJT:

So, how many rooms were there in that half of the dorm floor?

JSD:

Now, I don’t remember the exact number. I had to go back on—but in Shaw, for example, I think there would have been—I’m thinking, well, I’m thinking there would have been maybe ten rooms on that particular wing. So, if you had ten rooms and two students per room, that would have been like twenty students could have been on that—

HJT:

For some reason I thought the division was only the first year that you were there, and then after that—

JSD:

It was just the first year, but in Shaw.

HJT:

In Shaw.

JSD:

Okay, the second year I was there, there were only three black students admitted. And instead of them being placed on a dorm, they—one of the black students was my roommate, Margaret Horton, a freshman, was my roommate. The other black student who lived on campus shared a room with Bettye Davis, and we were in Ragsdale and Mendenhall. So, those two students never lived in a freshman dorm. The third student was Claudette [Graves] Burroughs, and she—

HJT:

Was a town student.

JSD:

—a town student. So, there were five students total. Four of us lived on campus. Then my junior year, I believe, there were five students who were residential students. There may have been other black students, but they didn’t live on campus. And for those five residential students, they were placed in a freshman dorm and lived on a floor by themselves. Now, I don’t know—it wasn’t Shaw. They were placed in another dorm. And it was like Coit [Residence Hall] or Weil [Residence Hall] or one of those. I really don’t know which one of those dorms. But it was that year when the dorms finally became integrated. And that was from the white students requesting that they be allowed to move on those floors.

HJT:

So, that would have been in—

JSD:

That would have been ’57-’58.

HJT:

’57-’58.

JSD:

It would have been ’56, ’57, ’58, ’58, ’59. That would have been my junior year. And that story probably could be verified by Edith Wiggins, who was one of those students.

HJT:

While you were living in Shaw that first year, can you tell me—let me backtrack just a second. Can you tell me the story about yours and Bettye’s first evening together and the next day?

JSD:

Well, after my parents had left and Bettye and I were in the dorm alone, she and I were just kind of getting our bearings and unpacking and putting our things away, and—and as adolescents, we were pretty hungry, and I—Bettye probably more so than I, because she had been there for most of the day. But we were just so, I guess, maybe I don’t want to say scared, but maybe that was it—we didn’t know what to expect. We hadn’t seen anybody.

HJT:

Apprehensive.

JSD:

Other than—that’s a good word. We were very apprehensive. I don’t remember if we haven’t seen any of the other girls necessarily. None of the other girls had come to visit in our room, and while we had a schedule of where we could go and that kind of thing, nobody had come by to say, “This is where you”—

HJT:

You don’t know how some other counselors—

JSD:

Well, no, to—at that point. And, so, we just decided, well, we’re just not going to go out. We will just wait until tomorrow morning before we go out. And my dad had bought me a big box of chocolates that he left. So, Bettye and I devoured that entire [laughing] that entire box of chocolates. I mean we were so hungry, but we—we weren’t hungry enough to venture out of the rooms. So, that next morning we got up and got dressed, and we had a schedule of activities to follow that day. We said, “Well, here we go. We just have to hit it and see what happens,” and Shaw wasn’t that far from the dining hall. So, we ventured over into the dining hall. And we walked into one of the dining areas. There were several. But we walked into one of those, and it was—I don’t remember how early it was, but there were already students in the dining area. And it was probably the first time they had seen us. And, so, there was—you can tell when you—when people are looking at you, staring at you, maybe trying not to let on that they are. And, so, it seemed like there was this quiet, this hush that came over the dining facility. And—

[Recording paused]

HJT:

Okay.

JSD:

Okay. And, so, we did. And go on. We did. We walked down the—I don’t know if you knew how the configuration of the dining hall was at that particular time, but you went out of the dining area into an area that was for the serving line. And it was kind of concealed from the remaining part of the dining room. So, we went into the serving area and got our trays and got our food, and then came back out into the area where others were eating. And, so, I think after the students got accustomed to seeing us a time or two, it was business as usual, and there was no—“There they are. Have you seen them? They must be the two,” that kind of thing. So, we kind of got over that.

HJT:

And what about your first day of class, how was that?

JSD:

I don’t really recall my first day of class. I mean it’s been a long time. But what I do remember about my classes for the most part was that the teachers were very accept—I mean it seemed like I was just another freshman student, that there was no special attention or any kind of overreaction to the fact there were African American black students in their classes. I sensed that we were well-treated by our teachers, and I always felt even then, as I do now, the reason that, at least partially for the students, reacting the way they did was because the teachers were good role models in that regard. They didn’t single us out or make us feel like, “What are you doing here? You don’t have any business here. Why don’t you go back to where you came from?” Or that kind of thing. I mean we were just another freshman. Freshman kind of get treated differential anyway [laughing]. I mean, so, I wasn’t the only one.

HJT:

Low man on the totem pole.

JSD:

Exactly, exactly. So, yeah.

HJT:

Well, what was your favorite subject while you were at WC?

JSD:

My favorite subject both in high school and in college was history. I always liked history. I liked it in high school, and I liked it in college. I had Dr. Pfaff, Eugene Pfaff was my history teacher my freshman year. And he was quite exciting. I mean I never had a teacher quite like him. I mean he would come in, and he would scare us to death [laughing], but he was very dramatic in his teaching, and he taught in a way that sort of brought things alive. You felt like you could be personally there and envision some of these things and see some of these things. And my history class was in the Science Building. And occasionally he would get really angry with us, because he didn’t think we were prepared is when he would smash those glass beakers on the—on the tables and sent us out of the class. I mean with out heads hung down feeling like we were the worst-prepared students he had ever seen. He was going to flunk all of us [laughing]. But he had a way of getting your attention. So, I really liked—I really liked—I did not particularly like science. I didn’t like those long labs. I didn’t like dissecting frogs and all that. But I had a good science teacher, and she was absolutely interesting.

HJT:

Who was that? Do you recall?

JSD:

Miss—She was Miss [Helen Margaret] Ingraham. But all of the teachers I thought were so hard. I mean I thought this is the hardest place I have ever been. I don’t know if I’ll ever get out of this—

HJT:

Did you have lots of homework?

JSD:

Lots of homework, lots of assignments, lots of reading assignments, and to tell you the truth, Hermann, I did not have good study habits. I didn’t have good time management skills. I spent a lot of time in the library, but I really wasn’t studying it. I mean I was there, but it was just—it seemed so hard. And, of course, as a freshman you do, you had a closed study time, and you could go to the library, or you stayed in your room, but you were expected to be in your books studying. And, then, I never had—I know some girls had study companions, people that they studied with. I never had study companions. I mean it was either on my own or not. Even Bettye and I had different classes. So, we were never in class together. As a matter of fact, the entire time I was at Woman’s College, I was never in a class with another black student, or did I ever have a black instructor during that period. So, I think I had one class in which I had a study partner, and that was Spanish, but that was because I had—what is when you have—I didn’t flunk Spanish my second year, but I got an I, and they had to change it. I think I got an—

HJT:

Incomplete.

JSD:

Incomplete, and if it wasn’t changed, then it would turn into a failing grade. But I had to take the course over, and I did very well the next time. But I got a study partner that year when I took it over. But for the most part I found WC really, really hard. But as I became more acclimated and knew what the expectations were, my grades improved, and I did a lot better. I think my freshman year my freshman grades my first semester was like four D‘s and two C’s. And then I think the second semester I got more C’s, but I still had a couple of D’s. And, then, as I got my sophomore and junior year, I began to make B’s and C’s. So it improved as I went along. It wasn’t that I couldn’t do the work, it was just that a different experience. I had been accustomed getting fairly good grades without a whole lot of energy and effort. And, so, that changed for me considerably, and I had to put in—And, that was the case for a lot of the kids. A lot of girls. I thought they all were doing a whole lot better than I was, but I found out that was not the case at all. We were all struggling.

HJT:

Well, did you enjoy school?

JSD:

I think I did. I don’t think I would have come back after my freshman year had I not had some real positive experiences, some good experiences. I met some great friends. My—the girls that I was closest to my freshman year did not come back which was—they were—One went—One got married, and the other one became an airline stewardess. They were both what we call Army brats. They were from—Their dads were in the military. And I have a letter that I saved from one of them, that I will probably share with you at some point. But after I graduated I kind of lost contact with them. So, I really don’t know where either one of them are today and what they’re doing. Of course, the students that I became closest with are the other black students who were on campus, and we’ve maintained our friendship and our companionship over the past years. And our experiences while similar in some ways were somewhat different. I think that one of the things that helped me to connect with the institution was the fact that I did have positive, relatively positive experience my freshman year and connecting with some of the students that were very open and we established relationships that have been very meaningful to me.

HJT:

Did you ever give any thought about transferring during your freshman year?

JSD:

No, I was not one of those students who came with the idea that at the end of my sophomore year I was going to Carolina. There were a lot of kids like that who—

HJT:

That is where the boys were.

HJT:

Yeah, and the fact that they couldn’t go to Carolina or State except under certain majors until they were juniors, and there were quite a few girls who came. But that was never my idea or intent to transfer either to an all-black school or to one of the other schools like State or Carolina that were part of the constituent university at that time, the Consolidated University is what I think they called it at that time.

HJT:

What did you do for fun on campus those first couple of years?

JSD:

Yeah, well, I always think that had it not been for Claudette , who lived in Greensboro, and who lived off campus, that we would not have had any social life whatsoever. Because there was no social life for the black students on campus. I never went to any of the big social affairs. I never went to any of the social affairs on campus and didn’t even think about it as something that I wanted to do or enjoy doing. But Claudette lived in Greensboro, and she worked on [North Carolina] A&T’s [State College] campus. She was the switchboard operator at A&T. So, she had a lot of connections on A&T’s campus. And she would know what was going on on those campuses—on that campus, and she would let us know. Then she would make arrangements for us to somehow participate. So, we—our social life for a lot of activities really occurred on campus of North Carolina A&T or with students who were there, because we, I think, all of us had classmates from high school who had gone either to—maybe to A&T or to Bennett. So, we had those connections as well. But in terms of church and parties and those kinds of things, Claudette was our social director. She was the one that really hooked us up.

HJT:

How did you get back and forth because you didn’t have a car or anything?

JSD:

Well, we didn’t, but Claudette had access to her aunt and uncle’s car. So, sometimes she would pick us up. Sometimes we would get a taxi and go and get a taxi and come back. Occasionally even rode the bus so we made a way, some kind of transportation.

HJT:

So, there were all kinds of restrictions in those days. I thought you had to be on campus, and you had to have special permission to go off and that kind of stuff.

JSD:

Yeah.

HJT:

How did that affect you?

JSD:

Well, when we compared the privileges that we had on WC’s campus with the privileges that women had at Bennett or at A&T, they were a lot more lenient with us than they were on those two campuses, because on the weekends we could stay out, I believe, until 11 or 12 o’clock. And women on those other two campuses had to be in at 9 o’clock. And I think that’s what happened too, Hermann, it was an advantage for the guys we were dating. Because they could take the Bennett girls out and take the A&T girls out, and then get them back to their dorms by the time they had to be in, and then they could come pick us up [laughing] because we could stay out even later hours than some of those girls. So, even while there were restrictions compared to the restrictions that, I mean compared to kids today, I mean they were just—but they were fairly lenient. I mean I don’t think we could, as I recall, we could not have—we could not have dates during the week as freshman anyway. Maybe upper classmen could, but I don’t know. But the weekend from Friday and Saturday nights were times that we could go out. Now, one of the things that I’ve experienced, particularly when a group of women get together who attended the Woman’s College during the same era that I went, our conversations about social life are very different, because they talk about places that they were able to go in Greensboro that were not open to us. And so they’ll be talking about going to the Boar & Castle. I don’t even know where the Boar & Castle is.

HJT:

Well, it was on West Market. It’s been torn down.

JSD:

I know, but that was—Apparently, that was a favorite hangout of the women on campus at that time, and they would talk about going some other places, supper clubs. I don’t even remember some of the names of them. But all of those places were not open and available to us. So when we talk about our social life, it’s always in terms of different experiences, because the twain never met, the two were, you know, quite different. And so, and somehow another unless I say to them, “Well, I don’t relate to that,” because that was not something that—We couldn’t—Even the stores, the restaurants, the movie theater at the corner were not open to us. So, if a group of kids wanted to go to the movies, we couldn’t go with them. Or if they wanted to go down to some restaurants there, we could never go. And it was like, I guess, the mid ‘60s before—or sometime during the ‘60s, but certainly long after I left that those businesses were opened up to them. And I think I do recall talking to—or at least hearing Sina McGimpsey Reid who was one of the early students who came probably in the ‘60s about working with some of the other white students to boycott the businesses at the Corner so the black students could attend.

HJT:

Do you recall how you felt about not being able to participate in all this?

JSD:

Oh, yeah, it was a slap in the face. It was—It was a constant reminder that even though on this campus things are open, we were not restricted in terms of where we went and that kind of. I mean, those things were open to all of the students, except for housing arrangement early on. But it was, yeah, it was always a constant reminder. It’s a slap in the face. I think I shared the story early on about Bettye having gone to the church, the College Park, I think it’s College Park Methodist Church right on the corner right across from Aycock, and how that Monday morning following her having gone there we were called into the Dean’s office, and someone from the church had gotten to Dean [Katherine] Taylor and indicated that that was nonacceptable, and that we should not think that just because we were on the campus as students that other areas of the community were open and available.

HJT:

Did you and Bettye go or just Bettye went?

JSD:

Bettye went. My mother had friends in Greensboro, and they would come pick me up on Sunday morning to go to church, and to go to Sunday school. And I just guess that Bettye was—I was a city girl, but less—I was a city girl but probably less experienced, less sophisticated. Bettye was from a smaller town, but she had had a lot more experiences in terms of having lived in large cities or at least visited large cities, that kind of thing. So—and she was older. She was two years older. So, there was a confidence level there, I think, more than I had at that—So, she didn’t have any problem with getting dressed up and going down there [laughing], going down there to the College Methodist Church.

HJT:

Did she go more than once?

JSD:

She just went that one time. One time was enough. We got the message that that was not—And, I guess, that was another—That was a reminder early on that you have been admitted to school here. You have not opened up the entire community. I had a similar kind of experience. It wasn’t at the church. But during my freshman year two of the girls that I knew very well—As a matter of fact, one of them was the student I referred to earlier who was in my orientation group who was always very close by and, and very welcoming. I thought very friendly. And she and her roommate were going to downtown Greensboro to shop and to have lunch, and they invited me to go with them. And they said that we were going to have lunch at this delicatessen on Market Street, I think it was. I was real doubtful about it, because first of all, I didn’t even know what a delicatessen was. I’d never heard of one, didn’t know what it was. But they were very assured that this is going—We’re going to be fine. So, we got on the bus, and we rode downtown, and we decided that we would have lunch and then shop. And, so, we went into this place, and it was kind of like that same experience I mentioned earlier when Bettye and I went into the dining hall and people kind of look at you, and they start whispering. You kind of know something is going on, something’s up. So, we found this booth, and we sat down. And we had the menus. We were looking, and they were helping me, telling me what various selections were, and finally this lady came up and said that they couldn’t serve me. They would serve the two of them, but they couldn’t serve—And, so, I don’t remember. There is a little bit conversation back and forth about why, we’re together, etc. So, finally I saw that this wasn’t going to work. And I really expected it, I just—I mean I wasn’t surprised at all. But one of the girls was a New Yorker, and the other student, is Adelaide was—she had moved to the States from Holland or somewhere. So, she was an international student, and I think very naïve, I think, as well about the South and its customs, etc. So, we left. And they were really very hurt by this. And I think I ended up perhaps helping them to feel better about it. Because it was something that I fully expected, but they had not anticipated.

HJT:

You never got lunch there?

JSD:

No, no. We went back to the dorm.

HJT:

No shopping either?

JSD:

No shopping either. We just kind of went back to the dorm and commiserated about it and talked about it, cheered each other up.

HJT:

Well, we were talking earlier about some of the restrictions and curfews and that kind of thing. What about the dress code in those days, checking in and out, lights out, and that sort of thing. Do you recall anything about those kinds of restrictions placed on the students?

JSD:

I—I remember—I don’t think we could wear slacks, although I don’t really—I don’t remember having any slacks when I was in school. I do remember rolling up my pajamas under my skirt to catch an 8 o’clock class, but I just, as I thought about it, I don’t think we could wear slacks during that period.

HJT:

You couldn’t wear Bermuda shorts either?

JSD:

Yeah, and for lights out during freshman years, study time, that seems like it was that 7 to 10 or 7 to 9:30 period that you really had to be in your room. And, then, at 10 o’clock maybe it was, or maybe it was 10:30, by then you had to have showered, made all your preparations because the lights were out, and you weren’t supposed to have any lights on after that period of time. But we all had flashlights, and [laughing] and you could get under—take your flashlight and your spread and read or whatever. But they would actually check on you. The house—not the house mother, but the resident counselor, like Sue [Sigmon] and Mary Jane. They could knock on your door and come in your room at any time. They were inspections in terms of cleanliness of your room. You had to each week you—A team of girls came in and with the white—I don’t know if they had white gloves. They may have pretended that they did to make sure there was no dust on your desk. It was cleaned and orderly and straight. All those kinds of things that probably people would not tolerate at all today.

HJT:

Quite different today.

JSD:

Yeah, absolutely, yeah. But yeah, but we accepted it. That was the way it was. Those were the expectations, and I don’t think anybody just outright refused. I mean there were consequences when you refused on things like that. So, you did the best you could.

HJT:

You mentioned the residential counselors, I know that Celeste Ulrich was the counselor, I think. Do you have any recollection of her at all?

JSD:

I don’t have a lot of recollection about Miss Ulrich other than—And she was the authority figure for us. And I don’t think there was a lot of difference in our ages. I don’t remember, it seems like she was a—had just finished grad school or something like that, and I didn’t have any classes with her. She may have taught. I just don’t remember.

HJT:

She taught PE.

JSD:

Yeah.

HJT:

She was probably in her mid twenties by that time.

JSD:

Yeah, but I just remember that I don’t really have a lot of recollection about our house, would she be called a residential counselor, and then she would was almost like a house mother. I don’t even know if they called them house mothers then. But anyway, we knew that she was the person that was in charge. And that, if you were disciplined in any way she would be the one—So, from my perspective, you didn’t really want to [laughing] have a lot to do with the person that was going to be disciplining. I can tell you one funny story, I think, that I do remember about Miss Ulrich. I was in my room. There were several other girls in my room at that time. And these were—This was when I was in Shaw [Residence Hall] as a freshman. And we were singing this really kind of ribald song. I mean it was like—It was—I don’t even remember the words to it. But it was something like—I remember Kelly said, “This is number one, and the fun’s just begun. Roll me over, do it again,” then you would go to the next number. Well, by the time we got to three, “And his hands on my knee.” Miss Ulrich burst through [laughing] and scared us out of our wits. And she said, “There will be no more singing of that song.” And we said, “Yes, ma’am [laughing]. And that was it. I mean it scared us so badly, because we didn’t even know she was in the dorm. I mean she was usually going in and out. And this was probably one afternoon. But we were just singing to the top of our voices, and laughing.

HJT:

A whole group of girls?

JSD:

Yeah, it was a whole group of us, and we were just singing to the top of our voice, had no idea she was in the building, and when she burst in that room, we could have—if we could have jumped out the window [laughing] we probably would have. But anyway, that was my—my one memorable experience with Miss Ulrich. But I felt like she was always approachable if needed to be. But as I said for me she was an authority figure, and I never remember going to her with problems or even feeling that I could. But I’m sure she would have been open to it if—had I chosen to.

HJT:

What are your recollections about the maids in the dorm?

JSD:

There were two maids in the dorm, one of which I had a run in with because she would not allow a young man who had come to see me to come to the parlor where other guests were allowed to. And I think she was an older woman. She, I think it was hard for her to adjust to the fact that this was maybe a new day, a new era, and that things were changing, and she had been very accustomed to other ways of doing things. And that probably had embedded in her that there was this inequality, and that blacks were inferior, and whites were superior. And I can understand, if that’s what she was exposed to her still feeling that way. But I just—It was very difficult for me at that time. I mean in hindsight I can see where she may have been coming from. At that time it was very insulting.  And very angered—it angered me. So—But beyond that situation, I just, we—They were very friendly, and I don’t remember having a lot of conversations with them. I thought that their relationship in particular this one woman, and I don’t really remember her name even now, but the relationship between her and the white girls was that she was more like very protective of them, more like a mother figure to them. They could go to her. But she didn’t treat us quite the same way. And, so, I mean and that was just that one person, people are different. So, I would say that was the attitude of anybody else other than my interaction with her. The other woman was very gracious, very nice and always seemed kind of interested in what was going on. And I felt like if I ever had a problem, that I would feel more comfortable going to her than maybe anybody else on the campus. But as I said people are different, and I think there are people like that even today where they might have a proclivity toward one group as opposed to another. I don’t know. I haven’t figured it out.

HJT:

So, she made your friend from, I guess it was from A&T—

JSD:

Yeah, right. To come to the end of the dorm, wait for me outside, and sent me—

HJT:

Instead of coming into the parlor.

JSD:

Into the parlor. She would not even let him come into the parlor. She insisted. See, our room was on the end of the dorm. If you know where Shaw is situated.

HJT:

Yes.

JSD:

Okay. So, I was on the end that was—

HJT:

Facing Rosenthal?

JSD:

Interior—No, interior to the campus.

HJT:

Oh, okay.

JSD:

We were on the end that was closest to the dining hall, not on the gym end.

HJT:

But at the other end.

JSD:

But at the other end, right. So, she had him to come around to that end, wait outside, at the end of the steps. And, then, she came to tell me that I had someone waiting.

HJT:

So, was that part of the job for the maids to sort of—

JSD:

No. No. She took it upon herself.

HJT:

Oh.

JSD:

But she would have been the one who would have welcomed the students into the parlor area, because she would have probably been in that area if someone came to visit, so.

HJT:

Now, in those days—How to phrase this. Was there somebody sort of manning the parlors like at an information desk or something like that?

JSD:

At certain times.

HJT:

Oh, Okay.

JSD:

Would not have been all of the time, because we each took a turn as students in the dorm to sit at the desk. But if you were during class. This must have been at a time that would not have been—It may have been in the afternoon, one afternoon during the week. I don’t remember the specifics. It was probably not on the weekend. It may have been one afternoon during the week so that the parlor would not have been manned by someone other than the maids that were in the building.

HJT:

Is that where the phone was?

JSD:

Yes.

HJT:

And the maid would call you and get you if you had a phone call?

JSD:

Yes.

HJT:

Because in those days there were no phones—People didn’t have phones.

JSD:

No, we didn’t have phones in the room, right, exactly. So, you would have to be—If you got a phone call, then the person who was manning the desk would have answered the phone and then have gotten the student, yes.

HJT:

And there were no TVs probably in the dorm?

JSD:

Yeah, there was.

HJT:

Oh, there were?

JSD:

We had a TV.

HJT:

Oh, you’re kidding.

JSD:

We did. As a matter of fact we had a—I remember, I mean you could always go and watch TV at certain times. But we watched the—that was the year that Carolina played Kansas and won the national championship. And there were three overtimes. And they had made, I guess, special permission because the game kept going on and on and on. And people were there. And, so, it was a Saturday night, I believe. And we sat in the parlor and watched.

HJT:

So, that was where the TV was?

JSD:

Yeah, in the parlor. And watched. And there were—I can remember watching Ed Sullivan on Sunday nights. So, there may have been one TV in each dorm, each parlor. I don’t know. The screen may have never been any bigger than that. But [laughing]—

HJT:

And it was black and white of course.

JSD:

Yeah, it was black and white, lots of snow [laughing].

HJT:

Matter of fact we—somebody gave us, they claim, an original TV that was on—the first TV that was on campus. It’s upstairs in our closed stacks area, and it still works.

JSD:

And it still works, isn’t that something. Was that Judy Barrett?

HJT:

I think it might have been.

JSD:

The reason I’m asking is because Judy—I think Judy told me that she—I think she had told me that she had donated—

HJT:

That’s got to be it.

JSD:

Yeah, a TV. Because she had been one of the house counselors at—

HJT:

I think this TV must back to even before your time. I think they were ’53, ’54, during that period of time.

JSD:

Okay.

HJT:

Amazing. And I think we actually have photographs of it in the yearbook.

JSD:

Okay.

HJT:

With all the students sort of gathered around watching  this thing.

JSD:

Oh, yeah.

HJT:

It’s just amazing how different now.

JSD:

Absolutely, absolutely. But I do remember watching Ed Sullivan on Sunday nights and special kinds of programs.

HJT:

And that—could you watch any time you wanted or?

JSD:

I don’t recall that being the case. I mean it was like special—

HJT:

Special—

JSD:

Special times, yeah. I mean I don’t think students went in there and watched soaps, for example. I don’t know. I don’t remember any of that occurring. So, maybe they did. But I think in the town student lounge, I think they had televisions in there. Elliott Hall was fairly new at that point. That was one of my favorite place [background lawn mower sound] I’m sorry.

HJT:

That’s all right.

JSD:

I’m sorry. Do you want me to just have him come back?

[Recording stopped]

[Recording started]

HJT:

I forgot where we were. We—you were talking about town students and Elliott Hall and TVs.

JSD:

Okay, right. Well, I guess maybe I just, I was just thinking that those students may have had more access to TV than the residential students, because they were coming and going.

HJT:

Well, what did you—on a different note, what did you think about the dining hall and the dining hall food?

JSD:

Yeah, a lot of people didn’t like the dining hall food, and they thought it was pretty bad. On a whole I didn’t find it as bad as—I mean, I thought it was pretty good. One thing I did not like necessarily was it seemed like they served us chipped beef on toast an awful lot, and that was not one of my favorite things. But for the most part I found the food fine. And I remember that around holidays, at least on one occasion, they would always have something special, a special holiday meal that I always thought was quite good. And sometimes they would get the—they would use students from A&T to serve that meal to make it a very special kind of—I don’t know if it was Christmas. It probably was Christmastime that they would do that. But as far as I was concerned the food was fine.

HJT:

I know you were involved quite a bit in extracurricular activities in high school, how about at Woman’s College?

JSD:

I was not. That wasn’t—

HJT:

Oh?

JSD:

I was not—that wasn’t even something that I even aspired to when I—I guess I thought that it was more in the realm of social, and it wasn’t nearly as inviting. And, certainly, a lot more competitive. And particularly when you have students coming from so many schools that may have had debate teams and other kinds of things that I didn’t necessarily have experience with in my high school. And there weren’t any cheerleaders, And that was an area that I had been—Of course there was always student government, but those were kind of elected positions, as well. So, I wasn’t involved in extracurricular activities at all. I think the only thing that probably came close, I participated in the Junior Show my junior year, and that was only because I knew some girls who were involved in the writing the script and working the music, and they were in my dorm, and we played cards together some. And they asked me. I didn’t, they asked me if you would be interested. And so I kind of accepted that.

HJT:

What was that—

JSD:

It was a very minor speaking part. I think I had one line [laughing]. It would not have been in the credits, I don’t think. Although, I did have a picture. Because it was in the, they did some scenes from the Junior Show and you could identify that I was a member of the cast. But that was it.

HJT:

Well, we may have already talked about this a little bit, but what social and academic events stand out in your mind during the four years at WC?

JSD:

Well, very few social events as I can attest to. I guess if you call Jacket Day, kind of a social event when the sophomores receive their jackets. That was always a very special occasion.

HJT:

What color was your jacket?

JSD:

Charcoal.

HJT:

Charcoal.

JSD:

Charcoal. Our colors were lavender and white, but our jackets were charcoal. And I have no idea where my jacket is, and if I did, I probably—I know I couldn’t get in it. I wish I had, I wish I had been smart enough to at least keep it. I have no idea where it is. It’s probably got thrown away in a move or something like that. Um, and then, of course, Rat Day when the freshman all were relegated to really being on the low end of the totem pole, and the upper class were the ones that had most of the fun with that.

HJT:

Did you have to wear the little—

JSD:

Yeah, the little beanie with the rat ears on it. That was kind of always a fun day. But other than that in terms of social events, I really never went to any of the big dances. I would be in the dorm when the girls were excited about it and talking about it and getting ready for it. And getting dresses and that kind of thing, but that was not something that I ever participated in.

HJT:

Did you ever attend any proms, that sort of thing, over at A&T?

JSD:

No, I didn’t. No, no, I didn’t. We would go to football games there and then they’d have social events and activities associated with that. But I never went to a big dance.

HJT:

I know a lot of girls would not stay in town over the weekend. Did you go out of town, back home to Raleigh and that sort of thing from time to time?

JSD:

I did. As a matter of fact, Claudette and Margaret [Patterson] and Zelma [Amey] and I would visit each other’s homes on the weekends. And, so, we’d go to Lenoir, [North Carolina] one weekend and spend time there or go to Durham, [North Carolina] and spend time with Zelma and her family or come to Raleigh. And Claudette’s home was our home away from home. Her aunt and uncle adopted us as almost their children, and they were just very gracious to us and would prepare meals on the weekend. We would spend overnight with them when we went to parties or other things away from campus. I mean that’s where we stayed. And they were just—they made that situation just very, very pleasant. Because we had this place where we could really feel comfortable and wanted and loved and cared for and encouraged. So, it was really—

HJT:

Sort of a haven?

JSD:

It was a haven. It was a haven. It was wonderful. We are vere indebted to them.

HJT:

I was just going to ask you, what were your memories about Claudette.

JSD:

Yeah, well, Claudette has always been very, very special to all of us. I don’t really remember the first day that I met her. It just seems like she was always there. And Claudette is the kind of person that is almost bigger than life. She takes up a lot of space. And when she comes into a room, it her room. And people are—she has so much presence. So, she really brought a lot of joy and fun to our time at WC. As I said she lived in Greensboro. She was always aware of what was going on, knew just about everybody in town, made connections for us—

[Recording stopped]

[Recording started]

JSD:

One thing that I loved about Claudette was that she knew how to enjoy life. She also—She would make fun of herself. I mean she was the kind of person that no matter what her accomplishments were and no matter what her achievements were, she could always laugh at herself, and it was very humble in that regard. Never cocky and overly confident, but just a fun loving—we really miss her—we miss her spirit. And it will be a void in this book that we’re trying to write, trying to capture her voice in a matter that would be significant as she was. I just miss her a lot.

HJT:

Well, I know that Claudette was involved in the Woolworth Sit-ins in 1960. Did you have any involvement with that movement at all?

JSD:

I didn’t. And we’ve talked about this, and Claudette had, we were all just really proud of her having taken that courageous stand, and I’ve talked to at least Margaret and Zelma about this. We didn’t participate in the Sit-in. There were some white girls on campus who did, Ann Dearsley, and a couple of other girls, but if we thought about it—we talked about this. Claudette had the advantage, I think of living off campus, being able to go home with her aunt and uncle in a safe environment. We were surrounded by 3,000 other white girls. And we didn’t know how they felt about this situation. And as Zelma said, she said, “I thought we were already doing our part, that we were sitting in with them every day [laughing], every day and every night [laughing],” she said. So, I don’t really feel like, that this is something that we should feel badly about, because we did not necessarily go down to downtown and sit in on the Woolworth situation. And then we had, the - I think which was really discouragement by the administration. They say while you had the right to do this, if you chose to, but you need to think about it, and think about it very, very seriously.

HJT:

I know that the three white girls who did go downtown were somewhat reprimanded by the administration—

JSD:

Yes.

HJT:

—for having done so.

JSD:

And I think if I had been—I was a senior. I was on the track to graduate. My parents had sacrificed a whole lot, for me to be there those four years financially and otherwise. And, so, I think I needed—I felt the need to think about not only myself, but the impact that it might have on others as well. And I wanted to graduate. I wanted to finish, and getting sent home, getting suspended from school, was not an option that I thought was a good one. And unlike Ann’s parents who were well-educated, who had status in the community, who had the wherewithal to stand up to the administration and say, “This is my daughter’s right. This is her privilege. We’re not going to stand for this.” My parents were not in the position to be able to do that. And, so, I think we had some of those same thoughts. I wish that I had. I wish that I had gone and, but as I do get a chuckle when Zelma says, “We were already—We were sitting in, and if I think the time that I sat in that delicatessen as a freshman [laughing]. There were—I commend those students and wish that I could have been a part of that, but I wasn’t.

HJT:

Did your friends or people you knew from A&T or Bennett—did they participate in the Sit-in?

JSD:

Oh, yeah, yeah.

HJT:

So, you knew some people?

JSD:

Oh, yeah.

HJT:

Like Claudette?

JSD:

Right, exactly—Well, not personally. I didn’t know any of my classmates from Raleigh. I mean personally that might have done that. But I’m sure that many of them were. And, of course, they had Sit-ins in Raleigh. The movement spread. So, I knew a lot of the kids back here who were in school at Shaw or St. Aug [St. Augustine’s College] who were involved in the sit-ins in Raleigh, because I was in Greensboro at the time, but yeah.

HJT:

Well, tell me about—You may not have any, but tell me about your experience with the chancellors at that time, who was [Chancellor] William Pierson and Chancellor [Gordon] Blackwell. Did you have any experience with them at all?

JSD:

The only thing I remember, I knew who the chancellor was, and as I said they had that tea for entering freshmen. I don’t recall having any kind of interaction with him. I don’t recall him being—this is the first one, Pierson. I don’t recall him being friendly. As a matter of fact, I can remember going across campus and our paths crossing and he would be looking straight ahead. So, I don’t know. I don’t remember anything very positive or friendly. I didn’t have any personal interaction with him, that kind of thing. Now Dr. Blackwell I would encounter occasionally as a student, and he would always be friendly, would speak. But I never went in their office, know anything about them other than occasionally Dr. Blackwell would speak to us at—We had—We would go to Aycock Auditorium occasionally for programs and that kind of things. And he spoke to us on a couple of occasions, but that would be the limits of my interaction with him, either one of them.

HJT:

What about Dean Katherine Taylor?

JSD:

The only time I had any direct interaction with Dean Taylor was the time she called us in about going to—about going to church. But I don’t recall having, I know who she was but never any interaction with her personally.

HJT:

And you mentioned Eugene Pfaff—

JSD:

Yeah.

HJT:

—as one of your favorite teachers. Do you have any recollections of any other instructors from that period of time?

JSD:

I remember all of them. I just remember just about ever professor I ever had. But I guess Dr. Pfaff and Dr. [Warren] Ashby would have been my [favorite]. Dr. Ashby would, I would encounter him on campus. He was one of the few professors that I had that I felt close enough to talk to. Because he would stop you and talk to you and ask you things like, “How you doing? How you getting along? Are things going well for you?” He seemed interested, genuinely interested. He would have—not that would happen frequently, but the times that it did happen were very memorable, and it was so unlike my interactions with other people. So, he—He was one of the people that I felt I knew best as a professor. Dr. [Lyda Gordon] Shivers, who was my advisor, my senior advisor, also seemed genuinely interested in what I was going to do with my life, where I was going to go, how I was going to use my training, that kind of thing. And she invited—She had a tradition of inviting all the majors to her home for dinner their senior year. And I remember going to that occasion, and what a nice event that was for those of us—and I was a sociology major. So, that was a part of her tradition. So, I guess, I had—I have funny kinds of memories of some of the others. But, I think those were the three that—

HJT:

I asked you earlier that you had planned to be an education major?

JSD:

Well, I—Well, I was in education, but I was a sociology major with—as a teacher, a sociology education major. And so my attempt was to teach sociology and social studies.

HJT:

But not English.

JSD:

Not English.

HJT:

Or math.

JSD:

Or math, exactly, exactly.

HJT:

Now, did they have internships in those days? Did you do practice teaching?

JSD:

Yeah, yeah. We did have practice teaching, and I never had what they called early field experiences. And I don’t know whether other students did, but I never had any early field experiences, and that is the kind of things that you can go and observe classes and learn to do tutoring and that kind of thing. Curry [School] was in the School of Education. I had my education classes in Curry [Building] for the most part, but I was not allowed to go into the classroom where the kids were, where they were having—the elementary kids or whatever grades they were. So, my experiences as a student, I went directly from methods classes to student teaching at Dudley, and Dudley was an all-black high school, all-black students, all-black teachers. And Bettye and I were picked up each day by a taxi driver, and driven to Dudley. We were—The taxi driver had already been to the cafeteria and picked up our lunch. And we were driven to Dudley each day and returned to campus after we had done our student teaching. Student teaching was like half a day. So, you didn’t stay all day. So, we’d go at whatever time it was; and, then carry in our classes and then come back. I don’t know of any other students who had that same—

HJT:

Who arranged all this?

JSD:

It was done by the college.

HJT:

Oh, okay.

JSD:

Someone in the college made those arrangements. Because wherever the other students were, we couldn’t go. And, so, they had to make special arrangements for us. Now, I—I’m not sure, and I need—that’s one of the things that I probably should—Margaret and Zelma and I need to talk about, because they did student teaching, too. But I don’t think they had the same arrangements. So, I think they did it for us, the first two. I don’t know how—And I know they did their student teaching at Dudley, too, but I don’t know whether they made the same arrangements for them or not.

HJT:

So, you would have to pay for the taxi or lunch, was it taken care of?

JSD:

It was all taken care of. So, I don’t know.

HJT:

I don’t know.

JSD:

I don’t know. Some special arrangement [laughing]. Some special arrangements if you would—

HJT:

When did [you do] your student teaching? Was that your senior year?

JSD:

The spring of my senior year, spring of my senior year. Yeah. But can you imagine? And I know that was—those arrangements were not made for other white students.

HJT:

Because they would for the most part taught at Curry?

JSD:

Would have taught at Curry.

HJT:

That’s why the school existed.

JSD:

Yes, they would have been there unless they were—I don’t know if Curry had—was a high school as well.

HJT:

It was.

JSD:

Grades one through twelve.

HJT:

One through twelve.

JSD:

So, they would have, right.

HJT:

It was finally phased out by the late ‘60s.

JSD:

Okay. So, they would have taken care of primary majors or, yeah, everybody. But we couldn’t—But we were not allowed to teach there or even to observe in those—

HJT:

How did the student teaching work? Did you work with a professional teacher?

JSD:

Yes.

HJT:

And you were sort of like a student aide for a little while and then teaching?

JSD:

Yeah, I did observations initially. My student teacher was a Mrs. Winnie Robinson at Dudley. And she was outstanding. She was wonderful, exceptional teacher and well-respected by her peers there. So, I had—But I tell you the greatest thing was most student teachers always have difficulty with discipline. I mean that’s not just something that you—

HJT:

Because you are only a couple of years older than—

JSD:

Yeah, absolutely. And, so, but the most wonderful thing that would happen for me is when I had the best control of the class is when my supervising teacher from Woman’s College would come to observe. You had never seen such well-behaved kids. I mean they were just—they would sit in their seats and [laughing] they would respond to questions. I mean they—I was very appreciative for it because she was there to observe me; and how well I was—and she was just so pleased that I had such great command of this class, and it really wasn’t me. It was her presence [laughing]. It was her presence there. So, I was grateful that she’d come and wanted her to come more often.

HJT:

And what did you teach?

JSD:

I taught sociology.

HJT:

Sociology.

JSD:

Yes, I taught sociology class, yes. And I wish I could remember my supervising teacher’s name. I can’t. I don’t remember now. It’s been such a long time, and I don’t even—I don’t even know if she is still living or not. Yeah. But yeah, I loved for her to—and this Mrs. Robinson was the kind of teacher who would allow you to get your own underpinnings. So, she would stand in the class for awhile, but then she would leave so you have command and control of the class and that kind of thing. But when she was gone, those kids,[laughing] do whatever. Oh, it was really funny.

HJT:

Tell me about your graduation in 1960.

JSD:

Oh, one of the happiest days of my life, but I can’t tell you a lot about it because it seems like I was in another zone. I mean somewhere else. I do know—I do remember, for example, that I think in the past the governor would come to the graduation exercise. But for some reason he didn’t come to ours. Governor Hodges would, yeah. So, we didn’t get our handshake from the governor that year. We got it from the chancellor instead. And it was at the [Greensboro] Coliseum. I believe it was maybe one of the first times.

HJT:

It probably was because most of them were held at Aycock [Auditorium]. I guess, maybe it had outgrown by that time.

JSD:

Yes. So, I remember it was at the Coliseum. I don’t know if it was the current Coliseum or there was another one before then.

HJT:

Same one, they just expanded it.

JSD:

Right. And attended by my parents and my aunt. And I just remember almost being a blur. But it was a great day, a great day of accomplishment and achievement. And I was so pleased to have made it to the end so to speak even though it was a commencement. It was just beginning, but yeah.

HJT:

What did you do that summer?

JSD:

I believe that I worked that summer. I think I did. I had gone—I used to go to Philadelphia. My mother had an aunt—I mean my mother had a sister. It was her oldest sister, and my aunt. So, I would spend my summers in Philadelphia. And I worked with—I worked in a factory over the summers in a place where my—one of my cousins worked and had gotten me a summer job. And, so, I believe I went back to Philadelphia that summer because I had not gotten a job. And by the time school opened in the fall I still didn’t have a job. So, I went to grad school. And—but, yeah, I think I worked that summer in Philadelphia.

HJT:

Where did you attend graduate school?

JSD:

Well, I went to school immediately after I left Woman’s College, I went to Central to grad school, North Carolina Central. And, then, after I was out of school for about ten years, I went to Duke. And I got my master’s from Duke. But initially that summer that I went to North Carolina Central grad school.  My course of study was guidance counseling. So, my first job was as a guidance counselor in a middle school in Rocky Mount, [North Carolina].

HJT:

Did you enjoy that?

JSD:

I loved it, yeah, I really loved it.

HJT:

Rocky Mount is—

JSD:

East, yes. It’s about an hour east of Raleigh. The thing I remember so much about Rocky Mount in the fall when I go back is the smell of tobacco. Because it would have those tobacco warehouses. And they would be open for fall trading, I guess, whatever they did in them. And you could just smell the aroma of cured tobacco when you rode into town. But I worked in Rocky Mount for three years before I returned home, and then I came back to Raleigh. And I worked for a year at North Carolina State University in a federally funded project under Dr. Norman Chansky.

HJT:

How do you spell that last name?

JSD:

C-h-a-n-s-k-y, and he had a grant to do some statistical analysis of test scores in two states including Virginia and North Carolina, and I was one of the aides, instructors in that project and did a lot of the number crunching associated with the project and some of the testing that took place. Then following that because it was just as [the] grant ended, I went to work for the Raleigh City Schools. And the way I had gotten that job at State was I was—every five years you had to renew your certificate. And I was in grad school doing certificate renewal during the summer, and the position became available, and I applied for it and got it, so.

HJT:

This was when you were at Duke grad school?

JSD:

No, this was when I was taking some courses at North Carolina State University to renew my graduate certificate. And it was only at the—The way I got the degree from Duke was the Raleigh City Schools selected a core of potential leaders, people that they were grooming for leadership positions in the school system, and they provided the scholarship. And you could choose to go either to Duke or Chapel Hill, and I chose to go to Duke, and so finish my degree there within a year and a half. And that was in 1970. So, I had been out of Woman’s College for 10 years at that point, and I was working in the school system.

HJT:

After you finished your master’s, what did you do next?

JSD:

I continued working in the Raleigh City Schools. I held a number of positions with the Raleigh City Schools. I started out as the coordinator of the testing program, ‘cause I had worked that year at North Carolina State in that area. And, then, I was the director of programs for exceptional children, which kind of grew out of the testing situation. And, then, I was—I left the Raleigh Public Schools and went to work with the State Department—

HJT:

In Washington?

JSD:

No, no, no. In DPI, Department of Public Instruction, North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. And I worked in the development area and with responsibilities for funding innovative programs across the state. I did that for about three years, and I got a call back from the school system. They had merged at that time. It was now Wake County Schools, a merger had taken place and had a new superintendent. So, I went back to the Wake County Schools. First as director of Federal programs. And, then, secondly, as special assistant to the superintendent.

HJT:

You’ve had quite a—

JSD:

I’ve had [laughing]—

HJT:

A variety of things.

JSD:

Well, each one kind of led—When I did the testing and stuff at State, then I went into testing with the public school system. And, then, the testing situation because I was dealing with exceptional children, identifying exceptional children, etc., so that led to the director of exceptional children’s programs. Then when I went to the state department, I worked in development. Did a lot with Federal funding. So, went back to the school system as the director of Federal programs, and then later special assistant to superintendent. And I left the schools and went back to the state department. And that’s when I went into the area of teacher education and accreditation, so.

HJT:

Did you retire from that?

JSD:

Yes, I retired from that position in the state department, yes.

HJT:

And what have you been doing since you retired?

JSD:

Oh, my goodness. Immediately after I retired I worked as a consultant with NCATE, which is the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education. And most teacher training programs have NCATE accreditation. UNCG, for example, has NCATE accreditation for their teacher training program. So, I did a lot of traveling. I did—I can’t tell you how many schools, how many colleges I served as a consultant in over about a ten-year period.

HJT:

This was nationally?

JSD:

Yes, right. I mean I just [laughing] I even went to Puerto Rico, University of Virginia, Oregon State University. A lot of them were historically black colleges, but I did a lot in other institutions as well. University of Connecticut. It was a fun—It was a fun experience. But anyway, so I did that for about nine—because I retired in ’93, 1993. I wasn’t quite fifty-five at the time, but I had thirty years. I had more than thirty years in education. So, I retired, and then I did that. And, so, I’ve been retired this year ’93 will be thirteen. Well, fifteen.

HJT:

Fifteen.

JSD:

Fifteen years, yes. Because I’m going to be seventy in October. So, yes, yes, about fifteen years. A lot of people think, they say, they think when I say I retired, they think I just recently retired. But I was retired—my husband just retired two years ago. So, I was retired—well, I say retired from state government for thirteen years before he retired. So, I had time to adjust to his eventually retiring and coming home. But it’s been fun. I’ve enjoyed it.

HJT:

Which job have you enjoyed the most?

JSD:

I think the very first job that I had as a counselor, as a guidance counselor. I loved working with middle school kids. Well, it was a junior high at that time. But that was so enjoyable. And I think, of course, it laid the foundation for a lot of other things that I was able to do later. But that contact with students was a real joy. Later—Most of the other jobs were administrative in nature. They’re not always the most pleasant things. You’ve got a lot of responsibilities for a lot of people and that kind of thing. But I love the joy of working with students. I think that was great.

HJT:

Well, tell me how you and your husband met.

JSD:

Hal and I were introduced by a roommate of mine who grew up with him in Lillington, North Carolina. He’s from Lillington, North Carolina which is like between here and Fayetteville. And Julie Boston and I were roommates in Rocky Mount. We shared housing in Rocky Mount. She was a music teacher, and I was a counselor. And Julie introduced me to Hal the summer before he was leaving to go to Germany. He was in the military. And she introduced the two of us. Well, he was engaged to another girl at the time. So, [laughing], so, I mean it was, “Nice to meet you and so long, we’ll see you later.” But when he came back from his military tour by that time Julie was getting married. And she invited both of us to be in her wedding. And by that time the engagement was broken between him and the girl he was engaged to. So, we got to know each other from being in this mutual wedding—with the wedding of a mutual friend of ours, and it just went on.

HJT:

So, how long have you been married?

JSD:

We’ve been married in October of this year will be forty-three years. Yes, forty-three years. We celebrated our fortieth anniversary a couple of years ago. Yes, so.

HJT:

Well, if we can backtrack to UNCG or WC, how have you been involved with the college and university since you left?

JSD:

Okay, well, I’ve had quite a bit of involvement with the university [laughing] since I left. But for a number of years I wasn’t, I wasn’t involved at all. Then I got a request from someone in the alumni office to share some information or share my early experience, early experiences at the college. And as I recall, there was a young black woman who worked in archives. I don’t remember her name. Who had sort of come across some information about the first black students at the university, and maybe that—Maybe that got some interests involved. So, someone from the University Publications called and asked me if I would write that article. Which I did. I believe it was like 1980. So, I’d been away from the campus for about twenty years at that point. I’m so glad they did, because I never—I had to think about it. And I had to put it in writing. And, so, probably never would have done that, at least at that particular time. Because I was involved in other things in my life. But anyway, I did that. And, then, from that story, I believe, some of the students on campus learned about the article and that stirred up some interest. So, then I started getting these invitations from students, and primarily the black students who were on campus from the Neo-Black Society, from some of the fraternal groups, from some of the—I can remember some of these students in the business school. I mean a number of various invitations. The first one that I did—The first one when I came back to campus for was a reunion for black students who had graduated from UNCG. And I think it was related to the Neo-Black Society. And, so, I came and did—they had a banquet reunion, and I came and did a talk with them. So, that just kind of other things came about. I was asked to run for the regional representative for the Alumni Association representing the Raleigh area. And I did. And was elected. So, then, I became involved with the Alumni Association. And from that I eventually ran and was elected as first vice president for the Alumni Association. And I think that was—For some strange reason it was like two years under the current president, and then you spent another year under the incoming president. So, I had like a three-year period there where I was the first vice president of the Alumni Association. And, then, from that Dr. [William] Moran called and asked me if I would serve on—He had some kind of—What did he call it? Advisory Council, University Advisory Council. And he had the faculty members on it and then he wanted to have alumni representative. And that was shortly before he left as the chancellor. So, I served on that panel. And we met very infrequently. And, I think, during that period or somewhere close to that that was when they did the celebration of the Centennial. And I was named one of the ten Centennial award winners, and that’s the picture that you see there—

HJT:

Yes.

JSD:

—on that occasion. And, also, that was the year that the students requested of the Board of Trustees to name the parlor in Shaw for Bettye and for myself, the Tillman-Smart Parlor. So, both of those events occurred in—around the same time, ’92. And, then, I served on the search committee for Chancellor [Patricia] Sullivan.

HJT:

Oh, I bet that was interesting.

JSD:

Yes, as one of the alumni representatives. There were, I think, three or four alumni representatives on the search committee, and I was one of those because they had students, faculty, alums, and then Board of Trustee member. So, and then after Chancellor [Patricia] Sullivan was selected, within a year or so after she became chancellor, I went on Board of Trustees as a member of the board.

HJT:

You’ve been quite busy.

JSD:

Yeah, so once the connection was made after the long, long period of time, it seemed like it just kind of snowballed and kept going. But I also think the fact that I’ve been in the same place for such a long time. I mean a lot of graduates leave, and they go all over the world and it’s kind of hard to continue to make those connections. But because I’ve been so close, so nearby, and have been able to be close enough to get back. And I’ve just seen—I mean I am just amazed every time I go back to the university. It’s just extraordinary. Two things that have occurred recently that has just really impressed me. When I went back for the celebration for Chancellor Sullivan, and there was this young black woman who made a speech about her relationship to the university, and to Chancellor Sullivan, and she talked about all the ways that she had been involved, all the ways kind of nurturing, encouragement and relationship building and even the mentoring from the chancellor herself. I mean it was just mindboggling. This was so different from my experience in the early—in the late ‘50s, and what’s taken place. And, then, to hear that same kind of message and enthusiasm and involvement from the young woman who, I think her name is Saundretta Caldwell. Her picture’s on the front of the magazine. There are three people who talk about Chancellor Sullivan.

HJT:

Yes.

JSD:

They talk about Chancellor Sullivan. And to hear the kinds of things that she’s had the privilege and opportunity to engage in and to be involved in and the extracurricular activities and all of those things to do foreign travel as a part of her experience on campus. And I think she talked about kayaking down the Colorado River and being involved in multiculturalism. I mean just amazing things. And I’m thinking, that makes it all worthwhile. It makes it all worthwhile to see and hear the kinds of things that students are engaged in today, particularly African American students that just been enveloped and embraced when there was such great fear and anxiety and apprehension and reluctance and those kinds of attitudes when I was there.

HJT:

Fifty years ago.

JSD:

Compared to now. And you say, “Wow.”

HJT:

This is usually a question I ask the women veterans. Do you consider yourself to be a trailblazer or a pioneer in any way?

JSD:

Well, a trailblazer or a pioneer? Only in the sense that the opportunity to do what I did could have been done by so many others before me. But those doors were closed. And they did not have the same opportunity. So, from the standpoint of being a trailblazer, only because I stood on the shoulders of others who went before me, and who if they have had the same privilege could have gone through the same doors and done even more, so.

HJT:

Well, JoAnne, I don’t have any more questions for you. Do you have anything you would like to add that we haven’t covered?

JSD:

I think you have been very thorough, very thorough.

HJT:

Well, thank you.

JSD:

[Laughing] I cannot—I don’t think there are any spots left in my memory bank that come to the surface.

HJT:

Well, thank you so much. It’s been a real pleasure. I’ve enjoyed it—

JSD:

My pleasure.

HJT:

—to hear your stories.

JSD:

My pleasure. I have enjoyed doing this. Glad we had that opportunity.

HJT:

Just thank you again. All right.

[End of Interview]