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The 8 interviews included in this collection were conducted for the Old Dominion University History course 495/595: "Recapturing Women's History: Local and National," taught by Dr. Dorothy Johnson in the Fall of 1982. Each interview includes a brief biographical sketch of the person interviewed and a typed transcript.

Ruth James was an advocate for school desegregation in the late 1950s when Norfolk closed its public shcools because of massive resistance laws. She and her family were the lead litigants in a law suit that re-opened and desegregated the schools. James was also the first female student enrolled in the Norfolk Division of the College of William and Mary, now Old Dominion University. the school desegregation crisis in Norfolk, Virginia.

Interview with

November 5, 1982
Interviewer: Mary Pelham White

Listen to Interview


MP: Mrs. James, we are here to talk about your participation in the Norfolk schools staying open in 1959. Would you tell me a little about your background: Where you were from? Where you were educated? and What you were doing at that time?

James: Surely. I was born in what was Norfolk County and is now the city of Chesapeake. I moved to Norfolk when I was seven years old while my father [she moved to Norfolk after her father finished studying pediatrics in Boston] was studying pediatrics at Children's Hospital in Boston. I went to Taylor School and Blair Junior High School and Maury. When I graduated from Maury, it was depression time so the College of William and Mary started the Norfolk Division of William and Mary here in Norfolk which saved our lives, many of us, because things were really rough financially at that time. This was 1930, and we were entering school. We were able to stay here, some of us, for as long as three years. Most people stayed two and then we went to Williamsburg and finished and had our degrees from the College of William and Mary. Later on I taught in the Norfolk public schools after having been in a private co-op kindergarten for about six years.

MP: Were you teaching kindergarten, at that point, in the public schools?

James: I was teaching the fourth grade when I first got out of college. I did that for about two years until my husband and I were married. I was just sort of waiting for us to get enough money to take the big step. I taught kindergarten only after my children were older--but I was mentioning--you asked me about my education. When I was teaching kindergarten I went back to Old Dominion University and received my masters degree there in 1972.

MP: What took you back to get your masters degree in '72?

James: Well, I finished in 1972. I was teaching kindergarten, taking one course at a time until I completed my masters in '72. Primarily, it was the desire to have more income after the school suits. I could earn $1,000 more in the public school system than I could have without a masters degree.

MP: I didn't know that.

James: Right. So that was my primary motive in getting a masters. Now, I had taken courses from the University of Virginia when they were trying to upgrade kindergarten teachers in the area. Many people taught kindergarten who didn't even have more than a high school education and they didn't know anything about child growth and development. So, University of Virginia came down here and gave non-credit courses to upgrade people, and I took about six or seven of those before I ever started on my masters.

MP: Non-credit...so did that count toward any recertification?

James: Not really. I was in a private school system, you know, the private co-op and it didn't do anything for me there except give me a little knowledge. I had not been trained in early childhood, but I'd had a few education courses at William and Mary. . . simply because I had to do something while I was waiting to get married. I didn't want to go in totally ignorant!


MP: What is a private co-op?

James: It was in a Methodist church which sponsored a kindergarten for the whole community. They didn't confine it to members of their own church. It was run by parents whose children were in the kindergarten. It was supervised by a church steering committee for the kindergarten. It was really a neat setup. I enjoyed working with the young children very much.

MP: I am familiar with that kind of thing. I think we still have preschools that work on that basis. So, that was in 1972. I think that is real interesting that your motivation was to be paid more by the public schools at that point. And your husband died in 1973...

James: Right.

MP: and you continued to teach?

James: I did stay in for a while because after the school suits, we-he had very carefully prepared for our retirement by investing in real estate, since his business was real estate, and so he had quite a few pieces of property; but for a while, we had to live off of that because of the prejudice against us in the community when it came to giving him property to sell. We had not really worried about this in the past because this was a Navy town and we thought there were plenty of Navy people who would not be as prejudiced as some of the locals were. So in the beginning, Navy people did list their property with him after the school suits, but eventually, one man broke down and told him why he was taking his property off the market. This happened about three times in a row--people would call up and say well, "We've decided not to sell right now," or something of this nature, and he said the neighbors were putting so much pressure on me not to give you this property. They're saying Ellis James will sell it to a black man. Actually, my husband was in business about twenty-five years, and I think he sold four pieces of property--Negro property--in all that time and, while he was not a person who went in and was doing block busting, he did occasionally have a piece of property that was in a neighborhood that was changing. So, he didn't really do what they had feared, but it did hurt his business and so we spent some time living off of the property that he had accumulated for our retirement.

MP: It sounds like he wasn't aware of the ramifications of the prejudice that would come out until it began to happen.

James: Well, we knew there was prejudice and we were aware, but we thought that because there was such a large Navy population in the area that we would be able to survive on that.

MP: Well, let's back up a little bit and tell me what kinds of clubs and organizations you were involved in around 1958-59 when all these things were happening.

James: Allright. Before I tell you, I think I'd better go back and say that my father was a Quaker, a Friend. And he taught me to respect a person because he was a


person. He was just as nice to the garbage collector as he would have been to the mayor and I grew up with this belief. Also, I had an interesting experience that led to my meeting my husband. I was a member of a group called the Junior King's Daughters, and they used to have an annual meeting which the adults ran. I thought this was sort of silly-that since it was a children's meeting they should have children for officers and they could supervise. So one day, I got up in the meeting and said this in the annual meeting, and there was a woman there who happened to belong to my church who was on the committee to select a girl to go to Chatauqua, New York, for six weeks to live in the scholarship house there with other girls, seventeen, east of the Mississippi River. This is an international, interracial, interdenominational group, so this sort of strengthened what my father had told me. And that was where I met my husband. I came back and they asked me to lead the devotional at a couple of their state meetings and by the time I had done that twice with my heart in my mouth (because I'm not a public speaker unless I'm talking about early childhood education that I really know something about), I asked them if they would please take one of the other scholarship girls next year. So, after I was married I belonged.. .no before I was married, no that was after I was married. I was very active in PTA groups, not in the usual way. Larchmont PTA was a little bit on the social side although they did a lot of good things like buying new curtains for the stage and so on, but I became involved in the child study groups in which the parents would get together and we would talk about our children and the problems that we had, and sort of thrash that out. And they did send us away for training to Longwood College for a week and I was the leader of one of those groups while my children were going to Larchmont school. I am the kind of person who doesn't like to go around joining everything unless I'm going to be active in it. Usually, I take one or two groups at a time and become very active in those.

MP: You have discussed in the Larchmont PTA and these training sessions, your rearing of your children and their educations for years and years. I mean, you had quite a history of doing that before the big issue arose.

James: Well, family is important to me and I became involved with whatever my children were involved in. For example, I was a den mother for the Cub Scouts, but I told them for just one year. I said, "Now look, somebody else can do it too and I'm going to do this and really throw myself into it for a year." My husband was a leader of the pack over at the Larchmont school Cub Scout groups. We've always worked together a lot. It's been sort of a fifty/fifty proposition. I guess you could tell I'm sort of an E.R.A. person--in other words, he didn't try to dominate me and make me do things the way he wanted to do. We discussed everything from his business to my kindergarten and one of the reasons we could do this was that after the school suits, I did help him in his office for a while to, again, sort of take up the slack. I acted as secretary and his accountants taught me how to keep his books so I learned how to just do his books... but we've always been sort of a team.

MP: You must have been reinforced an awful lot as a child by your Quaker background and your involvement in Junior King's Daughters. When you spoke out, you were reinforced and sent off for more training. It seems to have been, maybe a thread that continued to run through and allowed you to speak out in terms of E.R.A. or to support, working as a team with your husband. You had a sense of self.


James: But, even before my husband, before we were married, my father came from a rather large family and so did my mother. He had four brothers and one sister, and I can remember, at family gatherings, the brothers were--they violently disagreed about things like politics. I remember some of them thought that Franklin Delano Roosevelt was next to God and others thought he was the devil. They brought this all out and argued, but they loved each other dearly and after they got through the argument everything was fine, you know, there were no hard feelings. They just always expressed themselves and the same thing was true within my immediate family group. I was always allowed to disagree with my dad or mother and express my point of view. I guess I just grew up doing that and if I felt strongly about something, why then, I spoke out.

MP: Is that what you expected to happen about the school situation--that you would be allowed to speak out and express yourself without losing friends?

James: No, I didn't think that.

MP: That was too much to ask in this situation, isn't it?

James: No, I didn't think that. I just had a habit of doing this and it was just a part of my personality, I guess, if I feel strongly about something to present a point of view.

MP: Was your point of view clear-cut? Was it clear to you when the controversy over the school system arose? Did you know where you stood right away? or were you on the fence for any time?

James: Well, I can remember when the Sterns came here to Norfolk from other places would cite to me "They're going to close the schools this fall," and I thought they were crazy--I really thought they were crazy! I just didn't believe that Virginia would do this. I thought we were smarter than that. That's they only way I know how to say it. And while they were convinced that they were going to close the schools, I was not at all convinced they were going to take that final step. I thought that when the show-down came, they would back off.

MP: Did you say "the Sterns"?

James: Yes, Helen and Bob Stern were active in Norfolk Committee for the Public Schools.

MP: So, how did you and Mr. James emerge as the plaintiffs in the suit?

James: Well, when our daughter was actually out on the street, when the schools were closed, she was a sophomore and she was one of the lucky ones because Ohef Shalom Temple had built a beautiful new education building, Sunday School type thing in the Protestant groups, and they offered it to as many as they could take. Many of the teachers from Maury went there and taught and so my daughter attended in a beautiful building and had some of the same faculty that she would have had before. Many of the others... I can think of a neighbor back here who organized a group and they met in her livingroom. I can think of another group down Powhatan Avenue where the Tiny Giant is now that met in a vacant store and when cold weather came, they sat in their coats around a little coal stove and the situation was desperate for them--I mean it was-- it showed a lot of determination to stay in school in a situation like that. What did you ask me. .do you remember?


MP: I wondered exactly how you were the one--your neighbors were all involved, but why you?

James: All right. My husband's father was an English teacher in McKeesport, Pennsylvania, which is just outside of Pittsburgh, and he taught in a high school there. He was a strong believer in public education and so was my husband. He wanted to do something about it because he just didn't want public education to go down the drain, so he would like to have brought the suit on his own, but we couldn't afford to do it. . . it was too expensive for one person to undertake. Meanwhile, the Norfolk Committee for Public Schools had been trying desperately to get businessmen to support the movement to keep the schools open and without any luck. They were trying to find people who might be interested in the suit, but they had not found anyone that they were sure would not back off when the going got rough and so for a while there, my husband tried to think of ways to finance a suit and the Norfolk Committee for Public Schools was trying to find people to bring suit that would stick with it. So, I think that they became convinced that Ellis would follow through.

MP: Did you ever feel like quitting?

James: I don't think so. I mean, we both felt so strongly. The difference was that while I believe in public education and was just as strong in my belief that we should do something as my husband was, I had the other side that I've been telling you about- -from my father--that a square deal ought to be given to everybody. It was only right and fair that we would go through with supporting the Supreme Court decision and doing what the law said--because the black children were human beings too, and also because I'm a law abiding person and I think it's right to work to change the law if you don't believe in it, but to support it until you have been able to change it.

MP: Was the stance that most of those people, say in the Committee for Norfolk Public Schools, was that the stance that most people took--the primary stance being support for education? Did they have that other dimension that you talked about that your father gave you?

James: I don't really know. As I said, you mentioned a while ago, before we started taping, that the people from the north might have a little different point of view from southern people, and so I'm not sure whether they were just not prejudiced and thought this was ridiculous to close the schools. I don't think I really got into a long discussion with anybody about that or whether they were primarily interested in keeping public education in the area where they were going to bring up their children.

MP: Was there a difference in the feelings of the women, the mothers, empathizing with other mothers whose children were being put on the line that was different from politicians interested in the law?

James: I think those people, whether they be the women or the men, whose children were being put out of school, who had to do something about getting an education for their children, certainly felt it, perhaps more strongly than the politicians.

MP: Yes.


James: This was just one more problem for politicians. I don't think they were personally involved and I think that when you are personally involved with a problem, you feel it more deeply and are more motivated to do something.

MP: It was in your home. So the precipitating event for you then was...

James: I can't really say. My husband got together with other people in the leadership group of the Norfolk Committee for Public Schools and they decided that this was the thing to do to bring the suit with him as lead-off litigant or with my daughter, my husband, and myself as the lead-off litigants in this suit. That meant that our names were on it and more public reaction to us personally occurred than to some of the other people who I'm sure got just as much harassment as we did, but maybe not quite from the whole community

MP: Would you be willing to tell me something about that harassment?

James: Well, surely.. .except as I said, I have sort of a general impression and don't remember so much detail. Also, I'm the kind of person that sort of blocks out the bad things that happened and don't dwell on them too much. We did get, I can remember, one particular very unpleasant letter that I got and we finally decided who it was from.. .I don't think there is any doubt. It was a couple that we had played bridge with for a long time and it was primarily the wife who was very southern and very prejudiced, from my point of view, and she said things like that I was a lousy housekeeper and that my house was so dirty--you know, unpleasant things like that. Then we'd get occasional telephone calls and specifically, I don't remember the conversation, except they'd just say ugly things on the phone. So those were the two things I remember more than anything else about the reaction of the public in general. I did have a very strong reaction from members of my family--particularly the older generation. I told you my father came from a family of six and my mother had eight in her family. I think it was more from her side than from his because they had been taught that black people were inferior, they mentally were not capable of doing what white people do, and obviously had not kept up with research that proves otherwise. Sometimes they would come for a visit and take my mother and my sister out to dinner and ignore us totally. That hurt, but at the same time, I did understand that the reason for this was that they believed something different from what I believed. The thing that bothered me the most was that they couldn't accept the fact that I could have a different point of view, and that I had a right to a different point of view. I had one of my mother's brothers, and I've always loved him dearly for this: he told me one time, and he was of that older generation that had been taught the same thing, said "Ruth, I totally disagree with you, but that has nothing to do with my love for you", and he has been really affectionate and loving all of my life, in spite of the fact that he didn't like what I was doing. That's the kind of person that really made me feel good.

MP: Were they Quakers also?

James: No, this was my father's...

MP: Your mother's?

James: Well, actually, I have a very interesting family. I'll have to tell you this, too, because all of this has some influence. My father's father was a Quaker and there were five boys and one girl, but only my father was a Quaker in the group. Most


of the men were Methodist and the daughter was an Episcopalian, so that was the Quaker influence throughout my life. There was no Quaker church in Norfolk at that time. There is one out on Virginia Beach Blvd. now. And so the only time we went to a Quaker Church was when my father was studying in Boston and we went up to spend a summer with him. They were wonderful people to us, they really were. Then, occasionally, when we went to Richmond to see my mother's family, most of whom lived there, there was a Quaker Church there and we attended Quaker meetings there. So, the direct influence of the Quaker Church was not very big, on me, but it was big through my father.

MP: They were very family-oriented people.

James: Right.

MP: Community oriented?

James: Yes. And in my mother's group, people have come around. Time sort of heals these things, but for a while it was very--we had always been very close and had a lot of family reunions and just the aunts and uncles came and visited back and forth and had always been great to me. My aunt had me come up and stay with her husband one time for two weeks. She said, "You need to learn how to cook" and so she made out all the menus and directions and I cooked for Bob for two weeks while she was going on a trip. That was a wonderful experience, but we were always a very close knit family, so that's why it hurt when I got sort of turned off for awhile. But, they came around, all except one, I didn't see anything of him for about twenty years and was just bowled over when he left something to me in his will.

MP: So did any of these people ever come around and say "Ruth, you were right"?

James: Oh, no. Nothing like that. It was just that they began to treat me the way they had before.

MP: Which was all you asked.

James: That's right. Surely. I don't think that they really thought that I was right. It's just that family ties overcame their terrible feelings about this involvement in interracial matters. You asked me something about the groups that I had belonged to and I mentioned earlier that the Women's Interracial Council was one of the groups.

MP: That was before the suit?

James: Yes, that was in existence. It was just an effort on the part of some people to establish better relationships with the black community on the part of some white people, and so we had leaders from the black community and from the white community meeting together on a regular basis. Sometimes, we would undertake projects that we thought might provoke--promote a little bit better feeling within the community.

MP: How did you find this group? How did they find you?

James: I don't remember... I honestly don't remember.. .it goes back so far. Possibly through somebody that I knew that was already a member.

MP: But you were concerned with racial issues?


James: Right.

MP: For all your life, or was there a precipitating thought or event there?

James: No, I think most of my life I had that attitude that, well perhaps too, I had a feeling of guilt which was not a personal thing. I thought about slavery and all of these things that white people had done to the black people, and wanted to contribute something that would sort of reverse that.

MP: You had a social consciousness.

James: I guess so, it is interesting that when my children were in high school, two of them took some type of test and they were off the chart in the social service area... they ranked so high in that. I thought, what have I done to my kids.

MP: Did you really think that?

James: I really did. I thought, my goodness, I don't want them to be fanatical or extremists or something like that.

MP: Were you afraid for them that they might be.. .had it caused you pain?

James: Not really, it was just a temporary reaction. I was surprised, that's all.

Another group I was active in - - you asked about the interracial groups -our church, the Baptist Church, had established an interracial committee under its women's organization and that committee was sort of autonomous -- they got -- there were about eighty Baptist Churches in this area, roughly forty white and forty black churches, and they would send a representative from each white church and the black community would send a representative from each black church to a meeting twice a year. One time they would meet in the black church and the other time they would meet in a white church. One time they would bring little tiny items like toothbrushes and toothpaste and soap and they would send it to a black orphanage and the next time they would send it to a white orphanage -- just trying to communicate with each other.

MP: It was a conscious effort.

James: They had a board that was independent for this group. It was under the women's missionary group totally, but it was a separate organization in a way so...

(some dialogue was lost here where the tape was changed)

MP: ...your father's influence and his Quaker background.

James: Right.

MP: Tell me about your mother's influence.

James: All right. Well, mother was a very independent person because my father was a physician, and in those days doctors made housecalls at night, she had to run the show in our family too in a lot of ways. Whenever it was gardening, my father said, "I can't get dirt under my nails, I've got to handle these little babies" and so she took the lead in most of the things around our home. I was


really terribly dependent on her as a young person, and I'm very thankful that when I did get married, I left Norfolk for two and a half years and sort of established myself as a human being because she had been so capable that she did everything for us. She is now ninety-eight years old and has just stopped living alone in the last couple of years. She drove a car until she was ninetytwo.

MP: Oh, she did. You said earlier when we weren't taping, that she was from a family of eight and that she was the matriarch of her family..

James: Well, after her mother died, her mother lived to be ninety-four and she was the matriarch.

MP: Oh, she did. . . longevity is in your family.

James: On both sides.. Her father's sister lived to be ninety-eight and so she acquires it from both her mother and her father. She's been very active all her life and in many organizations.

MP: You've patterned after her to a great extent.

James: Probably, I mean, I think that both your parents have a great influence on you, but I think in my thinking, I am more like my father than like my mother. She likes to - - she and her brother traced their family way back, you know, and she is interested in genealogy, and my father used to say it is what you are today -- that's more important and I believed him. But, it was always nice to know that you had good family background.

MP: You had both sides.

James: Right. She was probably influential in having me be a debutante, which I enjoyed, but was not all that gung-ho about. I fortunately was teaching school and it kind of saved my life 'cause I'm a little bit of a perfectionist, but my approach is serious-minded -- somebody tells me a joke, why I usually take thirty seconds to realize it's going to be a joke, because my approach is always the serious kind. I sort of lost the trail of thought here -- you asked me about my mother's influence.

MP: I'm interested in her influence and in her sense of direction in terms of her family and her family's understanding of her, as such. You seem to have that same...

James: She was a very devoted mother and tried to see that we had all the things she wanted us to have and she did many, many things to make us happy, like willingly gave little parties and make the refreshments and didn't seem to discourage us in that way. She sewed a lot, made a lot of our clothes for us. She was very active in many ways. She has all kinds of plaques from different organizations like the day nursery where she went and told a story to the children once a week for about twenty years. And the Public Health Hospital where she was a gray lady for a long, long time -- an equal number of years-more I think, and she was president of the Women's Auxiliary to the Medical Society at the state level (I can't remember whether she was locally or not) but anyhow, she was very active in a lot of groups and in church. She always loved little children. She taught the beginners' class there for many, many years.


MP: That's really interesting to hear your family's influence and how interested they were in the community and in people. Tell me more about how your personal life changed in that time when the school closed. When you were being pushed away in some ways from family and from some people, who did that push you to?

James: Well, I'll have to think about that one. I can remember we used to play a lot of bridge when the children were small. I haven't played bridge in about twenty years. . .I might get interested again. . . I love cards, but anyway, I can think of another family. It was a doctor's family, and after the school suits, we didn't play bridge with them anymore either. Now, the wife was always friendly, but the husband was extremely prejudiced, and so that sort of cut off a little more social life there. But we took up the slack with other people that we knew or perhaps at that time, we were so busy making a living that we didn't do quite as much as we had done when the children were small, and we didn't have this problem of trying... .when you own your own business, you see, you've got to keep with it and keep making money.

MP: So, survival was your issue at that point.

James: Yea, right. At that point, economic survival was a big issue.

MP: Eventually, the big suits cost you all financially an awful lot of money. It was my impression that donations were solicited and that the community helped to some extent, but that it was never clear how much they were going to help.

James: No, the Norfolk Committee for Public Schools raised the money for the suits. I am talking about money to live on after my husband's business was hurt. You see, we had gone through the property that we had for old age, you know, retirement. I began to teach, but first I helped him in his office, but then I thought, well, maybe I could bring in some income from outside sources, and so I went back to teaching at that time. And so, that helped too.

MP: So, it was the personal business loss and not the expense of the suits.

James: Oh, not the expense of the suits, no, but many, many people in the community belonged to Norfolk Committee for Public Schools, and people who didn't publicly do anything gave money to support it. I can remember a neighbor that perhaps we talked to about entering the suit, I don't remember, in any case, they said, "We believe in public education, but we can't do anything. We have these two high school age children (one of them was a year behind Penny, I was trying to think, she was probably still in junior high) and we can't risk". This particular man worked for a governmental agency locally and he couldn't risk losing his job even and so he couldn't participate, but they gave money.

MP: Had they been told not to participate.. .had the government...

James: I don't think so, I don't think so. I think that they just feared this because emotions were so strong in the community. There were businessmen in the Norfolk Committee for Public Schools who did support it both verbally and with money, but in general, the business community did not support the suit. And I've always been grateful and I think they deserve a lot of credit, that when the day that the decision was handed down they ran a full page ad in the paper saying that we should.. . I don't remember the wording of it...but the general idea was


"Come on, let's support this now and obey the law and get with it and get our schools back."

If they hadn't done that, I don't know what the reaction of the community might have been. If that many people--there were 100 businessmen, so that was important -- but if they had just come out sooner, we might have been able to do something sooner.

MP: You wouldn't have had to go through -- all that time --

James: Right.

MP: So, what was the time-frame then. . . the schools were closed from...

James: In the beginning of school, in September, until January, and I guess they went back in February. I don't know the date of the decision.

MP: I think February 2nd, but I'm not sure.

James: It was the last week of January the decision came down, and they started the schools again

MP: The second of February, I think was their first day back.

James: Right. That sounds about right.

MP: Tell me about your children. What were they going through during this time?

James: Well, of course, the one that perhaps the experience did the most damage to was my daughter. She was the one who was out of school and when school reopened and she was back, why there was a bit of being ostracized by other students and even by some teachers who were not sympathetic to the integration of the schools. She was president of the Keyette Club that year, oh, it was her senior year, so I mean, she wasn't totally pushed aside by everybody. --I don't mean that at all. But, I mean, it was hard for a young person to have people within the classroom looking down on you or treating you other than in a very friendly way.

MP: Did you ever think about sending her away or getting her out of it.. .or... What did you do to support her here?

James: Some people did that when the schools closed because they didn't have any other way, I mean there weren't enough groups to take care of everybody. Some people sent their children away ... or moved away. They sent them to relatives in other states and this kind of thing. I don't think we ever considered leaving. I don't know... I avoid controversy. I really don't like controversy, but I'm the kind of person that if you push me.. . if I get my back to the wall, I'm going to fight. I'm not going to just lie down and give up. So I don't think it ever occurred to us to leave Norfolk. . . I mean, my husband's business was here, and of course we didn't want to abandon that either. My mother was here and all of my friends except the ones I had made in Medina So I guess we're fighters, we're not quitters - very easily.


MP: No, and you've lived that through.

James: Yes, and I think it was hard on her, she's sort of a private person. My oldest child is very outgoing, my middle one is sort of borderline like his father, and I guess I'm a little bit on the extroverted side, but not very far.. .and she was more introverted, I think, more of a private person. So, she didn't talk about it a lot is what I'm saying. I asked her when you wrote me that letter and she was here.. ,I asked her and my other son, too, to tell me a little bit about how they felt, but both of them backed off of that. Frank was influenced in a different way -- he was going to Dartmouth that year and fortunately, he had a scholarship. He was not here in person to see everything that was going on, but he had to work awfully hard to get through Dartmouth. We thought it was broadening to send our children to a different area to school instead of just growing up with the southern attitude, go and see how somebody else in the world feels about everything. So, when Frank entered college, and Penny too, it was very crowded. It was hard to get into a school, so each of them applied to more than one university. In Penny's case, she was eventually accepted at one of her original choices, but they had a center out in the western part of the country, central-western part, where they had colleges write in for people who wanted to go to college if they had vacancies. She heard from about forty colleges when she put her name at the center and could have had a choice of many places to go. She went to Beloit College in Wisconsin. Both she and Frank had to help a lot in their educational expenses because that was the time when our business was being hurt so badly. They both worked. In fact, I've often wondered how Frank ever survived Dartmouth because I don't think they would have allowed him to do what he did if they had known he was doing it. There was a hamburger place on the campus and he worked there from something like seven o'clock in the evening until eleven o'clock at night. I don't know how many days a week, I don't remember, but I don't see how he ever studied enough in addition to getting through Dartmouth successfully, but he did. At one point, we suggested that he come back to Virginia to school. We said if he wanted to join a fraternity or something like this, he might have enough money to do it if you were here not paying so much tuition to a school like Dartmouth. But he elected to stay and work it through, which he did.

MP: You must have been proud of their attitudes.

James: Oh, I was, I was.

MP: So, it didn't tear you.

James: UH-UH and Penny had a job each semester in Beloit, too. I'm glad she went there because in the long run, she had completed most of her work, college work, by the end of her first semester as a senior. She was able to go to Europe and take her last semester over there because most of it was elective work. She went to Copenhagen and had a fantastic time and lived with a family there that she was very devoted to. When she finally graduated, she had saved enough money in about a year to go back for Christmas. Another interesting thing is that we didn't have enough money to give her to travel in Europe, but she was able to work that summer. I don't know how, because you had to have a work permit -anyhow, the family she lived with - he was manager of a mink factory or something. He probably had enough influence to get her the job, I'm not sure of this, and she saved enough money to make one major trip. She went to Greece, that was her choice, for two weeks. And guess what? She married a Greek, in the long run, when she went to Johns Hopkins University as a copy editor, after she had graduated, she met a Greek student who had graduated, who had gotten his doctorate


at Johns Hopkins and was asked to stay on and teach. He taught, but he also mostly did research. That's his reason for having stayed in this country. There is so much grant money available which the Greeks are not wealthy enough to provide. He does a lot of research work, but he also teaches. So, I have a really interesting family. My oldest son went two years to the University of North Carolina. I don't know whether it was because he realized that we weren't going to be able to swing both his and Frank's entrance into Dartmouth in spite of the scholarship or whether it just was not the right thing for him at that time. He said that I'm wasting your money and my time, so he got out and went to work for a while for Otis Elevator Company. He soon found out that wasn't what he wanted, so he volunteered for the army because they were still drafting men even though the war was over. He didn't want to do three years, so he went in as a private, not as an officer, he could have gone to Officer Candidate School and he turned it down. By the time he'd had this experience, he told my other son to get into the Naval ROTC program at Dartmouth - that that was the better thing to do. Well, anyway, Don was stationed on the Czechoslovak border in Germany and he met a girl and married her. So, I have a Greek son-in-law and a German daughter-in-law. She is absolutely fantastic. I just love her to death -- we get along just great. Then, when my son graduated from Dartmouth, he had to do two years in the Naval ROTC I mean in the Navy, and we were simply bowled over when one day he said that he wanted to stay in. We couldn't see anybody in our family saying "Aye aye, sir". We were all too independent thinkers so that really surprised us. The Navy did ask him to augment, which was nice. They came to him and asked him if he would stay in. He is now Commander in the Navy and is about to retire and go into business for himself...after twenty years in, he has been toying with this for three years. He finally wrote his letter of resignation and he'll be out next August.

MP: Where will he live?

James: He's going to come back to Norfolk, so I'm real excited about that...and then, I mentioned my father's brothers were Methodist, Episcopalian, my husband was Episcopalian, my other daughter-in-law is Catholic, so we have a really interesting family. She's a smart gal, in nursing parttime, because she has, well they're not really young anymore, as you can see, they are fairly recent pictures.. .but they're still in high school, so she works about three nights a week, I think. She's going gung-ho with her nursing career and gotten certification from the Nurse's Auxiliary to the Obstetricians and Gynecologists which is her main interest -- delivering babies and so forth.

MP: Your family is really supportive of each other.

James: Right.

MP: And they've been able to go in all kinds of directions.

James: That's right.

MP: That's wonderful. Well, I think we've pretty well wrapped this up, don't you -we've traced a thread throughout your background and the influence of your parents through the period of time that was very rough for you, and then through your children who are now free to choose their mates from any cultural background. And they're active and happy now.

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