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Oral history interview with David Morehead by Kathleen Hoke


Date: June 5, 1990

Interviewee: David W. Morehead

Biographical abstract: David W. Morehead (1918-2003) served as director of the Hayes-Taylor YMCA in Greensboro, N.C., from 1949 to 1971.

Interviewer: Kathleen Hoke

Description:

In this transcript of a June 5, 1990, oral history interview conducted by Kathleen Hoke with David Morehead, Morehead primarily discusses his involvement with the Hayes-Taylor YMCA, including its activities and services for the Greensboro African-American community. Of note are his anecdotes about the funding of the facility by white philanthropist Caesar Cone, Hayes-Taylor's relationship with the other local Ys, and Morehead's relationship with Spencer Love, which resulted in the financing of a pool at the facility. He also mentions the role of Ralph Johns, Waldo Falkener, Jimmy I. Barber, Lewis Dowdy and D.F. Bluford in race relations, including the latter's refusal to allow an integrated Y-sponsored event on the campus of NC A&T.

Subjects:

Format of original: Oral History

Collection: GreensboroVOICES Collection

Repository: The University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Item#: 1.10.561

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 David Morehead by Kathleen Hoke

KH:

June 5, 1990. I'm in the home of Mr. David Morehead, and this is Kathy Hoke interviewing. Maybe we can start, Mr. Morehead, you can tell me a little bit about when you were born, where you were born, where you grew up and how you came to take your first job at the Y.

DM:

Okay, I was born in Greensboro, September 9, 1918. My parents—my father was a dairymen, worked at the dairy at Woman's College, which is now UNCG [The University of North Carolina t Greensboro]. When he married my mother, Lee, they lived on the edge of the campus, on the corner of Aycock and Walker Avenue. Then, of course, they moved over on Oakland Avenue, and that's where I was born two years later.

I grew up in Greensboro. I've been in Greensboro all of my life. [I] Attended elementary school at J.C. Price School, which is now GTCC [Guilford Technical Community College]. Let's see, it's over on Freeman Mill Road. Then from there, after I left the seventh and eighth—well, seventh grade, I think it was, I went to Dudley, Dudley High School. And that was the only high school at that time that we could go to, people of color, Afro-American. So I finished Dudley in 1936, January of '36.

[I] Left Dudley and that was during—most people can remember that was during the Depression, and no jobs could be found. Franklin Roosevelt was president at that time, and he had began to come up with all of the alphabets, the WPA [Works Progress Administration] and the PHA [Public Housing Administration] and the PWA [Public Works Administration] and a whole lot of other alphabets that people began to learn. So jobs were hard to get. And I got my first job at Pomona Terra Cotta where they were making brick and terra cotta pipe, so I had job there at the fabulous price of twenty cents an hour at Pomona Terra Cotta and saved a hundred dollars that summer, and that's how I entered into A&T. [North Carolina A&T State University]

At that time the monthly fee at A&T was seven dollars a month, and that was hard to get. My daddy was making ten dollars a week, forty dollars a month, and my mother was doing day work for teachers down at UNCG and she made three fifty a week, so. But then you could buy so much food, you know, cheaper, you know, but that was a beginning.

I didn't finish A&T at that time. I went and found another job at Vick Chemical that was forty cents an hour. And that's when I married. I think I was making twenty dollars a week at the fabulous sum of forty cents an hour. I began to sell memberships at the YMCA [Young Men's Christian Association], and I sold more memberships than anybody in the Y. I think that was about twenty-three at that time, twenty-four. And then I began to work around the Y as a volunteer. I had originally started with the Y before that building, the building was built on Market Street. They used to have the basement of the old Carnegie Library on Bennett College campus, that was the place where the Y used to meet in the afternoon on Sunday.

I was finally offered a job at the Y, Hayes-Taylor, where I worked. I was offered a job there at—after I finished Vick Chemical—at twenty dollars a month, working the desk. So I worked the desk for a couple of years, and then they had a position open as youth director, working with the youth, and they offered me that at fifteen hundred, I think, a year. So I accepted that and left Vick Chemical and went into that, and stayed in that position for three years. And finally, they had a vacancy in an executive position, executive director of the Y. So that was offered to me at twenty-four hundred dollars a year and I accepted.

KH:

What was the Y like at that time, in the late thirties, early forties?

DM:

Serving people, serving all of the people. It was the hub of the community, the YMCA was. Because you didn't have all of the other detractions or what have you that we have now. People would meet there; this was the meeting place for people all over town.

KH:

What kinds of meetings?

DM:

Oh, civic meetings, forums, breakfasts, luncheons, this kind of thing. We developed informal education classes at the Y, where we had—teaching a lot of people reading, writing and arithmetic at the Y. These are people that couldn't write their names; they began to get—to do this kind of thing. We were able to invite retired teachers to come in and work with them, these type of programs. We didn't have a gymnasium or a swimming pool at that time, but we used the city recreational facilities until we were able—until we finally were able to get some physical facilities. We had membership—naturally, membership was reasonable, it was cheap. A boy could join the Y at that time for two dollars and a man five dollars. Now, with the new building going up at the Y, membership would be two hundred and sixty-five dollars for a man, so we've seen that.

But the YMCA was unique, because we had a dormitory. You see at that time, Afro-Americans or blacks—and we would say Negroes then—they could not live uptown and they could not get a room in the hotel. So the YMCA was the place, that we had twenty-two rooms—no, we had twelve rooms, we had twenty-two men that lived in the dormitory. That was a part of our budget. Then on the second floor we had meeting places and a place for meals, chairs, this kind of thing. This was the only facility in Greensboro that whites could come and visit with blacks and eat together. So this is where the political—in the political arena that the political candidates was able to come down and plead for blacks to vote for them. There was no place uptown where blacks could sit down and eat with them until the YWCA [Young Women's Christian Association] uptown began to serve black and white together.

KH:

Generally it would be white politicians who'd come to the Y to eat or—

DM:

A cross-section. If they were invited they would come. Sometimes if we had a program that was appealing they would ask could they come. It would be all right.

KH:

How involved were black women in the Y at this time? Hayes-Taylor Y?

DM:

All the way. We had woman's auxiliary, a woman's auxiliary that was a part of the Y. We had a mother's club and we had a parenting group, this kind of—that kids that we worked with we'd have their mothers and parents organize to assist with all kinds of activities that they had, that we would have.

KH:

I guess there also was a YWCA? There are two YWCAs.

DM:

The YWCA was started later.

KH:

I see.

DM:

It seems to be Dudley YWCA—

KH:

In the forties or fifties?

DM:

Yeah, and that was started, and they had—originally they started in the old Dudley home that was across from A&T's campus. Dudley was one of the first presidents—second president, of A&T. Then the YW finally was able to get a building up on the corner of Lee and—well, the name of the street—but this is where the food shelter is now, where the YW originally was built. And then they finally merged, and they became one uptown. But that was during the civil rights in the sixties.

KH:

Okay. Tell me a little bit about the way money for Hayes-Taylor, the way capital money was invested in Hayes-Taylor, how the building got started in the beginning. I believe Caesar Cone—

DM:

Yeah, the Y, the YMCA, as I stated, as alluded to, started in the basement of the old Carnegie Library. So a group of youngsters—and whenever we could get some of the older men would to come in and serve as counselors—would meet on Sunday afternoon. They would have constantly have meetings and then they, at that time, they didn't have any funds except the money they would put in the offering.

So they finally announced that they were going to try to get a building, at least rent and quarters, and they got it in the paper. And then—this is when Caesar Cone read—he was out in Arizona somewhere ill in the hospital, and he read it. And it hit him that this could be something that maybe he would like to make a contribution on, provided it would go the way he would like for it to go. He—it was announced in the paper that the citizens wanted to [cough] build a building, said they'd found a piece of property where the Y is now, and this piece of property was five thousand dollars.

So he made a challenge that if they would, if they would raise the money, the Afro-Americans would raise the money, which was five thousand, he would make a donation of sixty-five thousand for the building, provided [cough] provided it would be named after two servants that had worked in his household that had helped to raise him. And that was Mrs. Hayes—is it too cool for you in here?

KH:

Excuse me.

[recorder paused]

KH:

But anyway you were talking about Caesar Cone's [unclear] the name.

DM:

He wanted to do something, provided that they would name the facility after these two servants in his household. That was Mrs. Hayes, who was the cook, and Mr. Taylor, who was the chauffeur and the butler. So that tied in very well, there was no problem in that. The Afro-Americans was able to raise four thousand five hundred dollars or something like that, and that was close enough. So he went on with the donation of sixty-five thousand dollars.

So that's when the first part of the building was built, which is the old part now. Dormitory, second floor, which was meeting places, and the lounge and offices and game room on the first floor. No gymnasium, no swimming pool. Then in—we hired the first secretary, Thomas Hummins[?] from Indiana. And that is—after two years or three years, that's when I came aboard, after it was, it was dedicated in 1939, December. So I came on board I think in '42 or '43.

KH:

At that time, I guess the Y was the only real place for people of color to have any recreation.

DM:

Yes. They had city—well, they have a city recreation center down on the corner of Benbow and Gorrell. It was built with WPA funds during Roosevelt's administration. So with the center and the Y, those where the two places.

KH:

And the other city public recreation parks were segregated?

DM:

Yes, they were segregated.

KH:

Did this subject come up much, the segregation of the public facilities among folks at that time? Was it—?

DM:

It was on their mind. It was naturally—you had, you would accept it to some extent, and it was always there. And they even had during that time once a year Brotherhood Week, where you would go to the white church on—in February. I think Brotherhood Week, month, was in February. And the Presbyterian church, the first Presbyterian Church, as I remember, used to have joint services there. They would invite the choir from Bennett and a choir from A&T to sing. And you would have blacks and whites in the church together, and when that was over it ended and you'd go back to your respected places, you know, the way you were.

Basically, years ago, that the—where the library, where the museum is now, that used to be the First Presbyterian Church. And I understand that there were black members there, people who worked for whites would come with them to church. They would go up in the, in the balcony, the blacks would, and the whites would sit down below. So you had two separate elements, you had a black element and a white element, you know. At least it seemed that way as far as the worshipping went.

So you had all of that, you know, like at Woolworth's and at Kress's and what have you. You had your white fountains and your black fountains. You couldn't stand and eat food or sit and eat food, if you got anything you'd take it out in a bag and eat it in a car or somewhere, but not in there.

KH:

Was that talked about much, that aspect of segregation? You know, having to take lunches out of the store?

DM:

It was a concern. We was concerned. It was a concern that whites felt they were better than blacks. It was a concern that there was a difference in pay scale. There was a concern that there was a difference in job opportunities. Occasionally, you had negroes that would have jobs that were on that side of town and education, even at the point at one time, black teachers were paid less than white teachers, you know. You had blacks working side-by-side with whites and the whites were making more money. Their living expenses were more than blacks, so they made more money.

But it was concerned, sure it was a concern. But it wasn't something that—but although it was a concern, it was also one that, what you could do about it except wish that something better would happen. Until finally the civil rights movement came into the picture in the sixties. There were some people reluctant then to join the youth. They thought they were crazy and they wouldn't be able to accomplish what was thought of.

There were organizations, for instance, you mention Mrs. [Francis] Herbin, she was with an organization, the American Friends [Service Committee] that began to develop and have joint meetings, because I used to attend quite a few of them and served on a committee with them. And they had a lot of their meetings at Hayes-Taylor, at the Y, they would meet there because, you know, this was—we were both brave enough and bold enough to invite mixed groups there. So if we wanted to do it, that was up to us. If anybody wanted to come that was up to us.

I never shall forget, I had a father and son banquet scheduled from the Y, and I had invited Ezra Charles, the former heavyweight champion of the world—he was the heavyweight champion of the world at that time—invited him down to speak. And I had secured Murphy Hall at A&T's campus. Murphy Hall was the dining room. That's the only dining room that A&T had. So we're scheduled, like, this evening, and Ezra Charles was due in at twelve noon, eleven thirty by plane, and I was to meet him. Now mind you I had gone, I had, I had, back and forth—you know, to get somebody of that stature, you have to, you want to be sure when you put out tickets and you want to know where you're going. So we had talked by telephone several times and finally we was able to get it pinned down.

The morning it came out in the Greensboro Daily News that we were having a banquet, it was publicized. In the article it said Ezra Charles, the heavyweight champion of the world, will be the guest at Hayes-Taylor. And it was open to fathers and sons, it was a fathers and sons banquet. And it was open to whites as well as, you know, naturally, blacks was partial. So whites could come and eat.

I got the paper that morning, the morning's paper and I read it, then I received a call about seven o'clock. I got up early to get the paper to see if it was in the paper. And the call was from the president, Dr. [Ferdinand D.] Bluford, of A&T. And he said “Mr. Morehead, I see your article in the paper.”

And I said “Yes, Mr. Bluford.”

He said “But you won't be able to have a banquet with us tonight.”

And I said, “Why, Mr. Bluford?”

Because now, understand, this—the banquet was to be that night at seven, and he was calling me at seven that morning. And he said “You have an ad that whites will be able to eat with blacks, with Negroes.” And he said “I can't go along with it.”

Now here he is, he was black and I'm black, you know. And we have a black school and you could very well put whites at another table and what have you.

And I said “Why? Do you know what you are doing to me? This is the banquet tonight, not next week.”

He said, “I know that, but you should have thought of that before you got it in the paper. I won't be able to get any money from the General Assembly down in Raleigh. They'll tear A&T down if they,” you know, [he] said “There are some people down there who would never forget this.”

And I said, “I don't see it, Mr. Bluford.”

He said, “I know you don't, you're not the president.” And he said—now, he was on my board at the Y. So—

KH:

So you felt a lot of pressure from him, huh?

DM:

I mean that day, you understand the banquet was that day and I was to pick up Charles that same day. And he was calling me that morning. And my wife said to me “What's wrong?”

And I said, “As much as I've gone through with this banquet, I've just received a call from Dr. Bluford saying I can't have it at A&T.”

So now where was I going to have it, in the street? We didn't have facilities at Hayes-Taylor large enough to take care of two hundred fifty people. A&T was the only place I could have it downtown. At the other Y, and so I couldn't eat anything down there [?]. They wouldn't even invite me to eat down there. And I was on the staff at the other place and we were a branch. Shows you how ridiculous this thing is, you know.

So finally she said “Well, why don't you call the center, the recreation center?” So I did. I called the recreation center. And Levette, who was in charge, said “Well David, you can have it with us.” That was a relief. But he said “I don't have any tables and chairs.” And he says that “We don't have equipment. You'll have to get your meal catered.”

So I was able to get the meal prepared downtown at the other Y, the Central Y. I hauled tables and chairs all day on a truck [and in] my car and what have you and finally got it set up down there, and got it on the radio that we had moved it from A&T. And at that time we had a meeting at the paper, at the Greensboro Record, got it in there, and with the radio, that we have moved it from A&T to the Windsor Center. That was the old wooden building of the Windsor Center. So that's where we had it. Those are some of the kinds of things that I ran into.

KH:

How many white folks came to that dinner, that banquet?

DM:

Maybe two or three.

KH:

Is that all? All that trouble.

DM:

Pretty much so. Pretty much so. I will never forget that.

KH:

What did you think of Dr. Bluford's request? What was it—I mean in retrospect, looking at why he asked for that. Do you think his concerns were justified that funding might be cut off for A&T if he allowed this banquet?

DM:

Well—

KH:

How sensitive a position was he in? Or was he overreacting to the reality?

DM:

I think it was overreacting to the reality of it. He was in the position, naturally, where he had to go and ask, request funds. But then he also was in the position where it was important to stand tall and stand on your ground. Nobody was going to try fight him, you know. He could have stood tall and said, you know, “Yes, somebody might try to ridicule me. But I will, I will be able to stand and fight this thing,” like I did at Hayes-Taylor. I hired a white lady to work on my staff at Hayes-Taylor before the civil rights—I think it was maybe right in there. I was downtown and they wouldn't even, they wouldn't even consider bringing a black on staff, you know, down at the Central Y, white Y. Now the YW had brought a black person on board. They were way ahead, way ahead. So really, really getting back to A&T and Bluford, he was frightened. And, of course, the thing that really killed him, I think, was the—maybe you've heard of that, the day the governor came to A&T.

KH:

Yeah, and he said something—

DM:

He couldn't use the word “Negro;” he was saying “nigra.” I was there that day and he was saying, he was—

KH:

Was that Governor [Luther] Hodges?

DM:

Yeah. And he was saying “nigra, nigra,” and it sounded like he was saying nigger, you know. And the students began to booing him and rub their feet against the floor. And when he would talk, they would make noise. And that almost, that just killed Bluford, it killed him. He just couldn't take it, he got sick. As soon as the governor looked around at Bluford and says, “Shall I continue, Mr. President?” He said, “Yes, yes.” And as soon as he finished he turned around and, Hodges did, and walked out and with bodyguards that were with him. And Bluford turned the meeting out and went home and got sick. And—

KH:

Do you suppose sick from the stress of—

DM:

I think so.

KH:

—wanting to stand up for his students and wanting to not make waves with the governor.

DM:

Oh, he wasn't standing up so much for the students as he was humiliated that the students had humiliated him before the governor of North Carolina. Bluford had did some good things at A&T, like get the land that we have where the stadium is now and whatever. All of that was at one time an army base, and when they had eighteen thousand soldiers out there at the army base. And when the war was over Bluford was able to get the land for little as nothing, as a donation to the college—the university now.

So Bluford—each president, each president has a chapter. And of course Bluford's chapter was long. [Warmouth] Gibbs has a chapter, [Samuel] Proctor had one, and [Edward] Fort has one. I served on the trustee board over there for twenty years. [cough] Twenty years on the board. Not under Bluford, but I served with [Lewis] Dowdy and Proctor and Gibbs. So, I was really the first local person to serve on the board in Greensboro. And there has been not another one since, and so I know I served longer than any trustee.

KH:

I suppose A&T and the Hayes-Taylor Y were dual hubs of Greensboro?

DM:

Yeah, yeah. I tried to make it so [cough] tried to bring to Hayes-Taylor Y the best, the best programs. I brought to Hayes-Taylor outstanding people. So I built a strong foundation at Hayes-Taylor.

KH:

Yes. Let's see, you've been director there from the early forties, do you remember what year?

DM:

1944, I think it was.

KH:

Up until—

DM:

[Nineteen]seventy-one.

KH:

Seventy-one.

DM:

So, I was able to get—see, they had a campaign to add some additional facilities at Hayes-Taylor. They were going to add a gymnasium and a swimming pool. They were able to get United Way—United Fund, or the Community Chest, it used to be Community Chest and then it became United Fund. They were able to raise enough money for they gym and to remodel some parts of the old building. But they didn't have enough for the swimming pool. That was going to be left out and hulled in, and they were going to try to raise the money later—later sometimes meant five years, six years, ten years, or never.

KH:

What was it like dealing with the Community Chest? I imagine it's a counterpart of today's United Way.

DM:

Community Chest was the beginning of community participation in raising funds for buildings like, facilities like the Y, YW, boy scouts, girl scouts.

KH:

Who was in charge of Community Chest?

DM:

Bruce[?] Schiffman. Dr. Schiffman. She was the one that was in charge. Then the Community Chest gradually became the United Way. It was larger, became larger, what have you. So they had agencies like the Y, YW, YM, boy scouts, girl scouts, all of the agencies, and they've added on so many more that were, was recipients of the community or city donations. They call it a one shot deal to keep people from knocking on doors. So many organizations knocking on people's doors asking for help and asking for this and that. And the many organizations were glad to accept this, because so many of them, that's all they've got all the time is somebody asking for gifts, for money gifts.

Getting back to the Y, the pool was left off and I wasn't satisfied. When I said I brought the best to Hayes-Taylor—and that's when I was able to make contact to get the pool. So I did that single-handedly, got the swimming pool.

KH:

Made contact with whom?

DM:

Spencer Love.

KH:

Tell me about Spencer Love and his role with the YMCA.

DM:

Well—

KH:

—and your direct contacts with him.

DM:

—I got into, I got into—they called me one day and asked me to assist them in getting some help for the Love family. They wanted two chauffeurs and two cooks. And I could have been real smart that day and said, “This isn't the employment office, that's down the street.” Because at that time they had two employment offices, a black one and a white one. Whites and blacks couldn't sit together and ask for jobs. They had to be separate there. So they had a white employment office uptown, right there where the Greensboro Daily News is now. And they had a black employment office down the street from the Y. So I could have, but I didn't. I found the chauffeurs and I found the cooks. And then about two months later they called me again and wanted to know could I help them again. I said yes. And I found them some more.

KH:

Why do you suppose he called you for that kind of help?

DM:

They wanted me to screen them. They wanted to see—they had heard of the Y and they felt like that they could get better screening, rather than just the mill of the group at the employment office. I wondered about that too. But then as I thought through it through the years, they wanted me to screen them. I didn't ever ask him. I didn't know him. His secretary was the one that called for the family.

Finally I said to his secretary—it was a man, administrative assistant, Joe Hamilton—I said to him “I've never met Mr. Love. I've heard a lot about this man. I'd like to meet him.” And he says, “Well, I can arrange that for you one day.” So my wife and I were on a little two-day vacation down in Charlotte with the YMCA secretary and his wife in Charlotte. And my secretary called me and said, “Well, Mr. Love has tried to reach you, his secretary.”

I said, “Well.”

She said, “Whenever you can meet with him” and I said “I can come back today.”

So she said, “I don't think you have to do that, but I'll find out.” So she called me back and said, “We've set it up for Saturday morning.” This was Thursday. And I said “I'll be there.”

So, it was at ten o'clock on Saturday in the old Burr Mill corporate offices uptown where the Social Service building is now. You know where the Social Service building is, that was the Burr Mill corporate office. And when I went in, his secretary met me at the door and asked me to have a seat, [and] said he'd be with me in just a few minutes. So he came out very graciously and humble, shook my hand, and asked me to come in.

Here was a man with sixty-five thousand employees, and here I am with nothing except the Y [laughs]. And he asked me to have a seat. And very graciously he said, “You've been—I've looked forward in meeting you. You've been very kind to my wife. What can I do for you? Can I do something for you?” So I could have very easily have said to him that I need to borrow some money, I'd like to have some stock in Burlington Industries, or Burlington, or I'd like something, you know, to help, period.

And I said to him, “Mr. Love, I feel, God”—I think God directed me to say that that day, because this is the first time I had ever been in a situation like that, you know. So I said to him, “I think the great thing that you could do for our people which we do not have is to help us get an indoor swimming pool. And I think it would be a monument that would be there long time.”

And he said—he looked at me like I'm looking at you and he said, “What do you think it will cost?”

And I said “Approximately a hundred thousand dollars.” I had done my homework because I knew, you know, you never know what does this man want with me, you know, what can I—what is he—what can I say to him, you know. So you—it's just like you're taking an exam. You do your homework and you don't know what the questions are coming, and you hope you can answer them. And even to the point of having good conversation with him, you know.

So he said, “Well, Caesar Cone is the original donor, he gave it in honor of two people.” He said “I don't know whether I should talk to him or not, what do you think?”

And I said “I think it would be nice.”

He said, “Well we may not see—we don't see eye to eye on a lot of things.” He said, “I'm in synthetics and he's in textiles.”

So I said, “I still think it would be good.”

He said okay. So he called me one night about eleven o'clock from the depot down at the railroad station. He was—at that time, people were riding trains. He was on his way from New York to Miami about eleven thirty and I was asleep. And he said, “Hi. Did I wake you up?” And I said no. [laughs]

“Well,” he says, “I just—I'm sorry to bother you, but I just wanted to let you know I've got your swimming pool.” I said “Really?”

And he said, “Yes.”

So I jumped up and my wife wanted to know what's wrong, and I said, “We've got a pool.”

So he said, “I got in a card game, a bridge game, with Caesar, [and I] told him that I met you, I was impressed with you, and that I wanted to help you. And I told him that I would give fifty thousand if he would give fifty, and he said he would do it. He knew me and he was impressed.” So that's how we got the pool.

The pool's named for me now. They named it the David Morehead Pool about five years ago. So it's a part of the new building. So I slept on it. And I felt—I was grateful. And he was going to do some other things for us. He did many other things. He didn't leave us there.

When the City of Greensboro got out of the pool business because blacks had gone out to swim in Lindley Park. And the city officials felt like the water was going to be dirty because the blacks had gotten in there with the whites. So they closed the pool up. George Simkins and somebody went out there. Then when they went over to this golf course over here at Gillespie Park, they closed that up. They said they would get out of the recreation business if blacks were going to come where whites were going to play with them or to whatever. So they closed the golf course up and they closed the pool up.

This pool down on Benbow [Road], Windsor Center, was closed for two summers. And Love said, “Dave, my wife and I are considering buying it so it can be open. If you will run it, I will buy it. We will build a bathhouse down there.” The present building was not there; it was the old building. It was real dopey [dirty?]. “If you will run it, I will build a bathhouse. It will cost us about thirty thousand dollars,” he said, “but we'll put it up.”

And I said, “Okay. If you will do that I will do it.”

So he built a bathhouse, and I had two pools that I was operating, the one at Hayes-Taylor and the one down there. And I denied my family a vacation for three summers to run that pool down there without a dime. I'd open it every summer without any money, only with the fees coming from swimming. He promised me that he would pick up the deficit, and he did. And we always had a deficit because there was a leak in that pool. And we had a pool. He said, “I don't care who comes. Don't turn anybody, if any whites want to come down there they can swim down there. But at least there would be one of these city pools opened up.” And that was that.

He was also going to—and this has not been in the record—he was going to buy the old Burr Mill Club which was out on Huffman Mill Road. That's where they used to be before they, before they ended up on [Highway] 220. A nice club. It was a nice area with a hundred and twenty acres of land, a lake, the clubhouse, all of that. He approached me on that and he says, “Dave, if you will run it and be a part of it, I will buy it from the Burr Mill employees. The Burr Mill employees own it, and my wife and I will consider buying that. And we would like the boy scouts, the girl scouts, the YM and the YW to have that as a retreat.” Which would have been nice. It would have been outstanding. I told this story to a few people. It's not written, and I'm giving it you.

KH:

I hadn't heard of that before.

DM:

I knew you hadn't. You didn't know. I'm the only one that really knows that story. It would have been ideal. It would have a million dollar—I presented it to my board like on Tuesday evening, at the board meeting. I told them about it, and I said, “We're about to become owners of something that I think would be unique for the city of Greensboro.”

And one of the things that Mr. Love has said that I don't think is available, he said “Do you think—” and

I shouldn't have said that to them that night. He said, “Do you think that there are people on your side of town that has the funds that could buy that?”

And I said, “I don't think so, Mr. Love. If there are, they have not come forward to tell me that they—” He said okay.

I told them that that night. Do you know at eight o'clock the next morning there were three of those board members on his steps telling him they'd like to buy it. So they took it out from under me. That's why you haven't heard this story before.

KH:

Three board members on your board—

DM:

Yeah, and we got two other people out in the city to formulate a plan on buying it. This is greed. They—in other words—

KH:

They pulled the rug out.

DM:

There you go.

KH:

They used the information to—

DM:

There you go. There you go. Instead of saying from principle, you know, that this should be one of the greater things for Hayes-Taylor and for the city of Greensboro, for minority kids. And I did my end. I came through with the pool for minorities, and a pool for people. And it's still there. It's the best pool in the state. The masonic tile, it's better than the one downtown. And it's a part of the new building. But when I presented it—it shows sometimes how greed comes into the picture. My wife knows it, it hurt me very dearly to think that they would do that to me.

And he said to me, “Dave, if you want it, I will still buy it regardless.”

And I said, “Well, let me think about it and then I'll get back with you.”

So my wife and I talked about it and she said—we waited, you know, and finally about two weeks later, that's when I told him “Let them have it. Let them—if they want it that bad, if they think they can make a few dollars out of it, let them have it.”

Now it's one of the messed-up places you've ever seen. They sold some property off of it, and then they sold it, the big group sold it. And there's some houses out there, but the club is going down. The lake is growing up. You could have had boat riding, swimming, tennis. It would have been outstanding now for kids, for people on this side of town. You haven't heard that one before?

KH:

No. No, that's news to me.

DM:

It's never been re[corded]—[recorder malfunction] and said—and after I told him to let them go ahead and let them have it. But it shocked me. It was surprising that I knew that I had this kind of—he said to me “I thought you said there was not that kind of money over on your side of town.” We're talking about a couple hundred thousand dollars.

I said, “Well, if it is, it hasn't been shown to me. I've been out of it.”

He said, “Well, you've got some people who—you never know people, Dave,” he says.

Another thing he used to do, he would give me one day a year, and I would pick him up. He had a busy schedule. I would pick him up at his office and we would ride out and talk. We would go out in the country, and he would ask me, you know, “What can I do to help the causes in your side of town? How are you doing? How are you getting along?” I had his private phone number at the office that I could call him any time.

KH:

When he asked you about causes that he could support, what subjects did you raise? Recreation?

DM:

Yeah, he supported—I was able to get him to give twenty-five thousand to the boy scouts. The boy scouts had, they had an old rundown camp out there at Brown Summit. Sampson Boyd, who is the alumni secretary at A&T, was head of the boy scouts, and I was able to get his sister a job with the Love family as a cook. And I was able to get him, get some help for him out there at that, at that boy scout camp. Twenty-five thousand. The boys—it was so deplorable out there. It was a separate camp. The whites had a beautiful camp. The boy scouts, Camp Greystone I think it was. And the blacks had Camp Carson. This is where they would use. And there were snakes all running all over the place out there and it was deplorable. This was where the black boy scouts had to go.

We didn't—the white YMCA had a beautiful camp out here that they would go to in the summer. We couldn't carry our kids out there, and yet we were a branch. So we ended up having to use Camp Carson whenever the boy scouts was not there. That rundown camp out there. So our kids didn't have camp. But I saw to it that we had—that's when I started a day camp for them. A stay-at-home camp where they would come in at eight o'clock and bring their lunch, and they would stay with us until six.

KH:

That would be at the Y?

DM:

Yeah. And we would hike out from the Y, out in the field somewhere, under some trees. And we would [unclear] lunch at one o'clock. Then they would go home in the evening. The next day they would come back. So we had a stay-at-home camp. That's when we started that. We improvised and did a lot of things. We didn't have—you know, we couldn't go out there, so we developed our own things.

KH:

Were the youngsters aware of that situation?

DM:

Yeah. Sure. Parents were, you know. Schools were separate. You know, everything was separate.

KH:

They were aware that they couldn't go to the nice camp.

DM:

Yeah. Yeah. Everything was separate.

KH:

How did parents explain that to their children?

DM:

It's—that you just can't do that. You know better. You know you're not supposed to go to that fountain and drink, because that's for whites. This is for blacks. You know, you go—my wife and I talk now, you'd go up to the Woolworth's, there was a girl there, a white girl. Everybody was white that worked at Woolworth's, except the people back there in the kitchen that cooked and washed the dishes. They were black. That was something that some whites wouldn't want to do. So they were the menial jobs, you know.

So you would go up to buy some candy or something. And this girl, she was so hateful, she was lame. There was nothing wrong with that, but she was so hateful. After she waited on everybody white, then she'd come ask, "What do you want?" Like you were trash.

KH:

I guess it was something that—

DM:

So, you know, those things, they grow up in people. They grow up. And really, really some of the older people know how those things—and it bothered them, you know. But yet they looked at other people and said, “We feel sorry for them. They're ignorant, and they don't know any better, and this is what they've been taught. So let them go their way with it. If they're that foolish and simple, then we're not going to bug them. We do our own thing.”

And yet, there were some good white people. Always have been. And there were some good black people. Always have been. There's some good and bad in both races.

KH:

The children who would be told that “Well, do your own thing,” well, they grew up, and after February 1960 most of them wouldn't say that anymore, wouldn't believe that anymore. What would you say would account for that change in looking at things? What was it—just enough time had gone by that, that it was never going to be that way? What accounted for the change in the way things were looked at?

DM:

Well, people are—the younger people got tired of this thing. They got tired of it. They got tired of going into, into places and asking to be served. And they couldn't be served, they'd have to go out. This was ball players, you know, going down South would stop and they couldn't, they couldn't never, if they were black players playing with whites in the North. This is why it's so surprising that New York is cutting up and going on, because this was a part of the North, you know, and we looked at—although New York is not the North—but we looked at it as being the North—it's not part of the North like Minnesota or some of these other places, or Detroit.

But they got tired of blacks' kids that were coming to college. Got tired of going into Woolworth's and Kress's and telling them they couldn't be served. So that's when those four students decided to buck it. And they didn't care what happened. They had some coaching.

KH:

I'm sorry, they had some what?

DM:

Coaching. You know, some coaching them to say, you know—Ralph Johns and some of the others pushed them. Ralph was an advocate. And he was not a Caucasian [unclear]. I guess, I don't know. Ralph is a, was an Arabian, what have you, but he was not a complete Caucasian. But listen, let me, let's step back, let's step back. History, as we alluded to at the beginning, history tells us that there have been, there are always some good whites. Right? Am I right?

KH:

Well, you're the one who's doing the interview.

DM:

Some good whites. Has to be. When Harriet Tubman was escaping—you know, when the Quakers, you know, right here in Guilford County—out at Guilford College was an underground railroad, where you had white families assisting black families in escaping from slavery.

My grandfather was a slave. He was, he told me—he died when I was—well, he told me he was about six years old when slavery ended. And he grew up and had one of the most outstanding residences in Greensboro up on Oak Ridge Road. I'm having a picture restored, it's being painted now. And I saw it last week, I'm real proud of it. It's a two-story frame house with white columns around it with Venetian blinds. And he had a hundred acres of land. And he sold vegetables and produce all over town. That's how I got my first piece of property, was from a white lady who used to buy from my grandfather. And when I told her that my name was Morehead she asked me did I know George Morehead. And I said, “Which George?” And she said, “Lived on Oak Ridge Road.” And I said, “That was my granddaddy.”

KH:

Wow.

DM:

And she says—well, she was a Seven Day Adventist. So she sold me a piece of property. And my granddaddy was respected, and he was considered an outstanding citizen. And if you ever get a chance to see the residence you will see why, because—

KH:

What road is it on? Oak Ridge?

DM:

Oak Ridge Road. It's not there now, it's torn down. But I'll have a picture. The lady's painting it now up at the Arts Center. And she's restoring it, she's getting in-But—so, you know, all through the years there have been, you know, a dispersal[?] of—

KH:

Allies?

DM:

Yes, Caesar Cone. Yeah, sure. Allies all along the way.

KH:

Would you consider Spencer Love an ally in the same context as Quakers who were part of the American Friends Service Committee?

DM:

Yeah. Yeah. Maybe, maybe in different ways. You know, there's a difference.

KH:

What's—what would be the difference?

DM:

The principle is still there. But there were many people who felt sorry for Negroes and they wanted to do something. And if they were afraid to do what they wanted to do, they wanted to do something, they were afraid. They knew that this was wrong. They knew that. But as the status quo goes, they wanted to be a part of what was going on. And yet they knew deep down in their hearts that this was wrong.

Then there were some people that didn't care, you know? Like all Negroes or black people are not good. And all white people are not good. You know, some white people—there are some black people that hate white people. It doesn't have nothing to do with where they grew up[?]—they said, “They, they've always kept us down.” And there are some white people that hate Negroes. And they don't want to have nothing to do with them, you know. Don't want—that's why they formed the KKK [Ku Klux Klan] and all these other things, you know.

But my feeling is is that people are people. And there's some good in everybody. Not everybody, but in most people. In that you accept a person for who they are, what color they may be, what nationality they may be, or where they come from. That you accept them. And if they turn out to be an SOB [son of a bitch], then that's what they are and I leave them alone.

KH:

I'm sure you've read this book Civilities and Civil Rights by William Chafe.

DM:

I'm in it.

KH:

Oh yeah. I know you're in it. Yes, I imagine you've read it. In fact, I took some notes from his book before coming here. But I was wondering what your thoughts are on his argument that there was an aura of civility in Greensboro that allowed people to talk to each other, for whites and blacks to talk to each other. But that civility got in the way of things getting done that would move the community towards equality in jobs, in housing, in education, that the civility was in many ways a way to keep things from happening. What do you think of that argument that there is a paternalism in Greensboro that managed to control things and keep things pretty much as they were?

DM:

I don't think Greensboro is any different from any other city or town in the South. There are some maybe towns that to the extreme and they are some that are not extreme. I think as a whole—and why Bill Chafe wrote the book—was because the incident happened in Greensboro. It could have been Charlotte. It could have been Winston-Salem. It could have been Durham. And where it really—so just, fortunate or unfortunate, it was in Greensboro.

So I think the thing that you was reference to—that you're saying it could be anywhere, and not just Greensboro. Durham. But then Durham may be a little different because North Carolina Mutual [Life Insurance Company] is there. Money controls the thinking of a lot of people, finance. And if you have finance, money, economics, that controls a lot of—Durham has had North Carolina Mutual there, North Carolina Mutual really until recently had the tallest building in Durham, the largest building owned by blacks, you know. So there was a different kind of respect.

But you'll find that in the South that you've always had the family, or families, that stood out, and they were the, they were the big shots. And the town would go as they wanted it to go. If they didn't want this then it wouldn't be done. And they would always see to it that they had somebody on the governing board to control it. Do you understand?

KH:

Yes. Would that be Spencer Love's role?

DM:

No, that wouldn't be Spencer Love. That was the Cone family. They had that. They owned—they had a village out there. They had a village. They had a, they had a mill. They had the schools out there. They had the YMCA. They had their churches. They had a water system. They had a fire system, a fire department. They had, they had that whole thing. They had a store. And they had houses people paid a dollar or two dollars a week to live in out there in the mill village. And anybody of my color went out there in the mill village except to work, you know.

Then across the highway over there by—on Phillips Avenue, behind WFMY-TV was where the blacks lived that worked at Cone Mills. All the whites lived over on Summit and back over there off of Yanceyville Road. That's where the whites lived. If you go through there now, you can see some of the framings of some of the old houses. They made all of these houses over and sold them. But they were there, two dollars, two dollars a week, a dollar a week. And then they had the commissary, the stores where they bought food. There were some people that never knew what they made because they would always work—

KH:

Go to the store?

DM:

—go to the store. And they wouldn't have nothing to eat at the end of the week [laughs], you know. And turn right around and go back to work and finally pay the rent. And go to store—they bought, they could buy shoes, they could buy clothes, they could buy everything at the store, at the commissary, and charge it. And it so happened that when they got ready to make out their paycheck, they'd call down to the commissary to see how much they'd taken out.

KH:

So they rarely dealt in cash. They dealt in—with the commissary?

DM:

Some people, instead of drawing anything at the end of the week, they would get a blank thing saying that—

KH:

—They owe money. Yeah.

DM:

So you'd have this, not just here but all through the south. RJ Reynolds, RJ Reynolds was the central point there in Winston-Salem. The Dukes were the central point in, in Durham, you know. Over in Reidsville it was Chesterfield. Down at Kannapolis you had the Cannons, you know.

KH:

So are you saying that this company town situation, paternalism, affected both white workers and black workers?

DM:

Yeah. See, after the war, the Civil War, the South was in such bad shape, you know. The war had torn up the South, and so the thing that they really had was cotton and tobacco, and this was the money crop. And so the family that was fortunate enough, that had money, that had the controls, they controlled, and the town went along with their thoughts, as they thought. Because that was the hand that fed you. Greensboro was destined to be the largest city in North Carolina. You've heard that before.

KH:

Yeah. If the railroad had—

DM:

Yeah, the railroad. That's why it had been called the Gate City. Charlotte was not destined to become the larger Greensboro. But what held Greensboro back was the Cone Mills and what have you. And it held Greensboro back due to the fact that they, they didn't want—they, in other words, of they said it couldn't be done, it couldn't be done. Because there was always a member, somebody on the council, city council, as mayor, or council voted against it. So nobody penetrated this arena, this area.

Spencer Love was the one that penetrated. That's what he said to me and I wondered why at that time when he said, “I'm synthetics and they're textiles.” So synthetics was new.

KH:

So in a sense Spencer Love was rocking the boat when he moved his company headquarters to Greensboro.

DM:

He broke through. He was the breakthrough. History will tell you that. If you read it, you know.

KH:

Yet I also read in William Chafe's book that Spencer Love was like other big manufacturers, was very much against hiring blacks in good jobs in his mills. He was just as astounded as other mill owners at the request.

DM:

He was, he was—Spencer Love was—he wanted, he was here in the South, and he wanted to be a part of what was going on in the South. And he wanted—let's face it, if you're out there to make money, then what are you going to do? Are you going to do something against the grain or are you going to try to go along with grain? So going along with the grain with the average person, then he was able to make money. But if he had come in here and fought against—

For instance, he said to me, “I pay good wages. I keep my people at my house. Sometimes they come in at seven in the morning or eight and they don't leave sometimes until eleven at night. We do a lot of entertaining. But I pay them well. I imagine I pay more than anybody out there in Irving Park.” But you see, had that gotten out, they would have criticized him because, “We aren't paying this kind of money, you know. Now why are you doing it, Spencer? You're going to mess us up, Spencer. You're going to mess us up. You're out there paying those people a hundred dollars and we don't pay them but fifty. Now you're going to have them—”

So the same thing happened in the plants, in the mills, you know. With all of his desire, I think, wanting to do things for blacks—just as I said to him one day, “You know there are not any black people as telephone operators anywhere in the South.”

He said, “I can't picture that.”

I said, “Well, this is true.” This is one of those days we were out riding, you know. He was asking me what could he do. He said, “There are some things that I know I need to do that I haven't done,” you know. And he said, “I can't picture that.” At that time there were no black telephone operators. You know, they even built a fire station here in Greensboro, and they had a black fire department, fire station, over here on Gorrell Street. Did you know that?

KH:

No.

DM:

It's empty now. It's a brick building over here on Gorrell Street just before you cross Pearson, on the left. And that was, that—when Falkener was a member of the city council, that was the one thing that he was able to get over on this side of town was that black fire station. And they hired twenty-eight firemen. They couldn't fight the fires uptown, but they could fight them over here. See how foolish and how expensive, you know? It's foolish, it's foolish.

KH:

Racism is. Did it strike you as ironic that, that you would need to talk to men like Spencer Love to get money for recreation, rather than through the tax money, you know, through the city government? That the way recreation facilities got built in Greensboro at that time was to ask people in power for money, rather than the government that belonged to everybody?

DM:

Well, you know, we knew that there was just so much you're going to get from tax, from the city, you know. The city just recently, just recently has the city began to do anything as far as tax money in our circle, until since we've been able to get black representation on the city council. For years we didn't have black representation on the city council, so you didn't know what they did. So once you get in, you begin to know what's going on, then nobody can lie and say we don't do this, you know. You understand what I'm saying?

KH:

Yeah, yeah. I just thought I'd throw that out.

DM:

So this is how you begin to get a few things done over on this side of town. People also, you know, were able to do it and use a different kind of cover up to say—you know, you think it's one thing, and you don't know what it is until you pull the cover back. And then you find out what it is. Here's an organization over here. They've got fifty thousand dollars, you know, but it was under a different thing. It was called, it may have been called the Quest Fund. What was the Quest Fund? You don't know what it is until you're there to ask questions. Do you understand?

KH:

Yeah.

DM:

So, until, until-see, when Jimmie Barber went on as a member of city council, Jimmie I. Barber, there were only two black people on city committees, boards. And when he left, there were sixty-five black people serving on boards all over town. And that's one of the reasons why that I got Jimmie Barber's name and got a petition to get his name on that park. I'm responsible for that park being named for Jimmie Barber. Did you know that?

KH:

No, I didn't know that.

DM:

Well, I am. I've got the news clippings. Jimmie Barber worked in the Y with me as a volunteer and served as general chairman for twelve campaigns that I had. Every year I'd have a membership drive. He served so many times that President Dowdy asked him one day was he on my staff over there, you know. But Jimmie was effective. He was called the peoples' man. There were a lot of people didn't like him, [who] said he didn't do nothing. But he did, you know. If he didn't do one thing except to get some minorities on boards up there so they would know what's going on, that was something. When he went on there was two, and when we left there was sixty-seven—sixty-five, sixty-seven. That was something. Because it began to open the door on what's going on and you began to know.

So, getting back to your question with reference to private funds, this is—when you're out there in the arena trying to make something go, you turn to whatever it is you think will—you don't wait on this [banging] when they haven't done anything anyway. So you try to find something else or go over here.

KH:

Okay, well I think this is probably a good place to stop.

[End of Interview]