Mr. Healy, when were you at William and Mary College?
at the turn of the century. It was in the fall of 1906.
Interviewer: Well, that
was two years before the first part of the library building, Jim; that little
room down there was built in 1908.
was built while I was here.
Interviewer: What did
they call it?
said Baxler because a man by the name of Baxler gave some money.
Interviewer: George Clinton
Interviewer: Where was
his home? Do you know anything about it?
York, I think.
Interviewer: Mr. Healy
came into the office this morning, and we were talking a little bit about
the Norfolk Division and its beginnings down there, and I've never seen
anything in writing on it, so he started recounting the tale, and I listened
to it all the way and figured several of us have heard this but I very much
wanted to have him put it over here on your talking machine so we might
catch it. Start at the very beginning here and I guess it was the spring
Healy: That's what
I'm thinking it was.... I might start with, say, 1924. Dr. Chandler,
J. A. C. Chandler, who was at that time President, made me director
of the Extension in Norfolk. That was in about 1924. I organized these
classes and secured rooms for them to meet, and members of the faculty
came to Norfolk and conducted the classes. I was at that time an elementary
school principal. In 1926 I was made principal of Blair Junior High
School in Norfolk, and I continued in my capacity as director of the
Extension work there. I was well acquainted with Mr. Robert M. Hughes,
Sr., who was a very loyal alumnus of the college. Well, in that capacity
I knew very well of his interest in establishing a college in Norfolk
and particularly a college affiliated with William and Mary. In the
winter of 1930, when I heard that the Norfolk city school board was
to build a new elementary school in Larchmont, I realized that the
old elementary school would be abandoned. So I went down to see Mr.
Hughes. I said, Mr. Hughes, here is our opportunity to bring a college
to Norfolk by using the old Larchmont Elementary School building when
it's abandoned. Fine, he took to it immediately. He said, I will call
Jack and talk to him about it (Dr. J. A. C. Chandler; everybody called
him "Jack"). He said, when I hear something I'll let you know.
I imagine it was about the middle of April when he called me, Mr.
Hughes called me one morning and said, Dr. Chandler is in my office
or, in my residence. We'll be by there to pick you up in a few minutes.
We will go out and look over the Larchmont building. So in a little
while, Mr. Hughes, Dr. Chandler, and Mr. Foreman, A. H. Foreman, showed
up at Blair, and I joined them in the car, and we drove out to Larchmont.
Dr. Chandler looked over the building. Fine, fine, he said. There
was some open land right near it, near the Larchmont School. Foreman,
see all that property out there? .... Get an option on that property.
Interviewer: Was that
a cornfield or something?
was cultivated land, all of that property out there where the Foreman
Field is now, and all that was open land. Now, you could see his thinking
because he wanted to get an option on that property before anybody knew
that the College of William and Mary was coming there. Foreman, get
an option on that property out there. So it was understood among the
four of us that he would start a college there. It was April, 1930,
if I remember correctly. I didn't hear any more then until about the
15th of June, the last day of the session at Blair Junior High School
-- the children were there for their reports and all; and I got a call
from Mr. Foreman's office. Dr. Chandler said, Healy, come on down here
as soon as you can get here. So I got in my car and drove down. Dr.
Chandler was a very direct man; he wasted no words whatsoever. Healy,
go out to the Larchmont School Monday morning, have a telephone installed,
employ a secretary, prepare a catalog, and start enrolling students.
I will pay you $500. And that's all he said -- just like that. Those
were the words that he used. All right, Dr. Chandler, I'll be happy
to do it. I employed a Miss Jessie Voight to be secretary. I had a telephone
installed. Miss Voight and I worked night and day that week, clipping
and writing a catalog to be on his desk Saturday about noon. We got
it finished up Friday night; Saturday morning we got in the car and
drove up here. I handed it to him. He looked it over and said, You followed
so-and-so about this course, yes, that's all right. He published that
catalog just as I had prepared it, which was based largely on the catalog
from here at the College. But that Monday morning, when I went there
to install the telephone and occupy the office, there were two students
endeavoring to register. One had gone to my office at Blair Junior High
School, hoping that they could register there. The other had gone to
the Larchmont School to register. They were first cousins. One was Albert
Edwards Wilson, who took his two years at Norfolk Division and later
transferred to William and Mary up here the first student. The girl
would have been first if she had gone to the right place.
Interviewer: She went
to your office, then.
went to my office over at Blair Junior High School, was waiting for
me there. Now, her first name I cannot recall, but she was a Miss Wilson.
There were two or three Wilson doctors in Norfolk, three, I believe,
brothers, and she was the daughter of one brother and he was the son
of the other brother. But they were the first two who registered for
the Norfolk Division. I know that he is still living; I assume that
she is still living. I saw him up here at finals or homecoming two or
three years ago. Albert Edwards Wilson. So as soon as I got the catalog
in Dr. Chandler's hands, I started visiting high school graduates --
Norfolk County, Princess Anne County, all adjacent counties, as I had
lists of school graduates. Of course, Atlantic University was beginning
to operate also. That's a double story. Well, anyway, to make a long
story short, as I recall, about the first of September of 1930, Dr.
Chandler came down there and said, How many students you got? I think
I had about 345 students enrolled for the first year of the college.
And, what was a surprise to all of us, I had more boys than I had girls
because that was in the midst of the Depression, and boys and girls
couldn't get away to college. Dr. Chandler said, Healy, we've got to
have something for these boys to do around here. I said, That's right,
you're certainly right, Doctor. Well, go out and employ a coach; go
out and employ an athletic director. I said, Okay. It happened that
a young man by the name of Tommy Scott had graduated the previous June
from VMI. He was All Southern end that year at VMI. I knew Tommy, and
he had a nice personality, so I got in touch with Tommy, and he accepted
the position of athletic director at the Norfolk Division, and Dr. Chandler
told Billy Gooch to send some old uniforms down. So on or about the
middle of September we had an athletic team, had a football team on the field.
Dr. Chandler told me that he could not compete with the salary that
I was getting as principal of Blair Junior High School, so he sent Dr.
Hoke to New York to Columbia University to interview applicants for
the position of director of the Norfolk Division. Dr. Hoke chose
a man by the name of Timmerman, E. H. Timmerman, who came down there
and directed the Norfolk Division for two years. He did not return after
the second year, and I think Ed Gwathmey came down from here. He later
became president at Converse. And then I think Gwathmey was succeeded
by Billy Hodges, Billy Hodges possibly by Charlie Duke, and the present
man is Lewis Webb.
Interviewer: Did you
have any local faculty down there, Mr. Healy?
the faculty, of course, was all chosen by Dr. Chandler.
Interviewer: Were all
of them from William and Mary proper?
most of them were new people. Oh, yes, here's an interesting story.
Atlantic University was being organized down at Virginia Beach about
that time, and a man by the name of Brown, on the faculty of Washington
and Lee University, was made president of Atlantic University. And Atlantic
University was supposed to have been sponsored by some wealthy men in
New York City. They laid out plans, made plans for a very elaborate
building down at Virginia Beach, and Dr. Brown went there and began
enrolling students. I was competing with Dr. Brown for students. They
got as far as laying the foundations for these buildings -- those old
foundations stayed there for years.
Interviewer: Those foundations
were taken up last summer, 1959. The Navy Officers Club is right there,
and I saw those foundations, and I saw them knock them out finally; the
concrete was sitting there right on the way to the beach. The parking lot
of the Navy Officers Club. So, anyway, that Atlantic University was defunct,
so they started the first year using what is known at Virginia Beach
as cottages -- now, they're really hotels, but they referred to them
as cottages, used them as dormitories and classrooms and everything.
And he bought a lot of equipment. It ran one year and then started the
second year and then folded up. But a Dr. Williams, who was in the Foreign
Language Department here at William and Mary, had accepted a position
on the faculty at Atlantic University. When Atlantic University folded
up, Dr. Williams asked to be reinstated by William and Mary. He was
a good man, capable man, and he was attracted to Atlantic University
by reason of the large salaries that they were offering. So Dr. Chandler
employed him and put him at the Norfolk Division instead of returning
him to Williamsburg, and he was the only man that I recall that went
from here to the Norfolk Division via Atlantic University. There may
have been some others that I don't know, but....
Interviewer: Who were
some of the first faculty down there, Mr. Healy?
man who was outstanding in my mind was a man by the name of Jackson,
who was a chemist, teacher of chemistry who made quite a reputation
as a teacher... .Now I don't believe I recall anybody else. There was
a young lady who came down there, Dr. Chandler sent down there, but
I don't recall her name now.
Interviewer: You wouldn't
happen to have a copy of that first catalog, would you?
might have somewhere in my files.
Interviewer: We save them
all here at the library, but I don't know that I have the first one, and
that would be interesting because I don't imagine you printed very many
-- how many, 500 maybe?
Chandler had them printed in Richmond by the Division of Purchasing
and Printing, but whether I would have a copy, I have some files of
my old correspondence at my home in Bon Air, and I will look through
there and see what I can find.
Interviewer: That would
be very, very interesting because that's our first Division, you see, and
that would be very, very fine. Well, that Norfolk Division, of course, today
is changed. Now you spoke of Mr. Robert M. Hughes, and I know Mr. Hughes
by name well because he was a close friend of my predecessor, Dr. Swem,
and we have much of Mr. Hughes's correspondence here, and I would say, I
suppose, without doing any injustice to other alumni, that Mr. Hughes was
probably one of the most cooperative and one of the most hardworking.. .
You can see what he did for his Alma Mater, and through all of his correspondence.
Well, that new library building down there is named for him. Have you seen
that, Mr. Healy?
just seen it from the outside; I haven't been inside.
Interviewer: Well, I've
always wondered just exactly how that first unit was put up. When I first
saw the Norfolk Division in 1953, in the fall of 1953, they had really two
buildings. They had some temporary buildings, and they had Foreman Field,
but they had that Old Administration Building and everything was in it,
classrooms, offices, library, everything.
that the old elementary school?
Interviewer: The old elementary
school, as I understand it, was next to it, off to the right. When they
built that, I don't know, but probably a little bit...
I remember when that was built.
Interviewer: Well, those
were mighty difficult times. You didn't have much to work with, and it's
really remarkable, when you think of it, that the school ever remained and
it remained because there was a definite need for an institution of
college rank in Norfolk and the territory adjacent to Norfolk. After
Atlantic University folded up, a lot of the students from Atlantic University
transferred, and Dr. Chandler's ruling was that if, say, a student had
taken freshman English at Atlantic University, if he could do sophomore
English, then he'd give him credit -- successfully on this freshman
course. Whatever work that they could continue and do successfully,
then he would give them credit for the prerequisite work that had been
done at Atlantic University.
Interviewer: Well, Atlantic
University, then, as I understand it, lasted only one year, part of the
second, isn't that what....
about a year and a half.
Interviewer: Well, what
forced their closure? Was it finances?
the money that had been promised them from New York failed to materialize,
and it was a rather tragic thing because a lot of these capable people
from schools all over the East had come down there and accepted employment
because they were offering them good positions, good salaries, and before
the school folded up, they were several months in arrears on salaries,
and the Norfolk Education Association donated money to be distributed
to this faculty down there to help them get home, get somewhere else.
It was a shame. Brown was a good man. He was a member of the faculty
of Washington and Lee before he came down there, and he was a psychologist,
and he ranked very high in Masonry, and he was also a Republican. He
was the Republican nominee for governor at one time in the state of
Interviewer: I think
that Mr. Hughes was a Republican.
don't recall about that....
Interviewer: I think Dr.
Swem told me that. Not very many in Virginia at that time. Well, that's
mighty interesting. You graduated, then, you say, you first attended in
right, and I graduated in 1910.
Interviewer: Well, you
were here many, many years before Dr. Chandler came in as president.. .Dr.
Tyler was president.
right, I was under Dr. Lyon G. Tyler.
Interviewer: This was
after Colonel Ewell had died, though, wasn't it?
yes, Colonel Ewell. .1890's.. .something like that.
Interviewer: Did you work
on the literary magazine of that day, the old literary magazine, do you
no, I had a paper published in the literary magazine on Juliet. I prepared
a paper under Dr. John Leslie Hall on Juliet. He used to be real fond
of teaching Shakespearean plays, and I prepared a paper on Juliet which
he passed on to the literary magazine, about my only contribution, literary
Interviewer: Well, that
was the faculty that we know today as seven wise men.
right. And they were very capable men.
Interviewer: That's Mr.
Byrd, I think, who was on that faculty, John Leslie Hall, Mr. Garrett, wasn't
Dr. Garrett here in chemistry?
Interviewer: Did you take
classes under him?
took classes under Dr. Garrett.
Interviewer: And then
Stubbs. T. J. Stubbs. John Leslie Hall and Dr. Bishop, who was the foreign
language man. I took French under Dr. Bishop.