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Interview with Lillie Dial

Dial, Lillie
Murphy, Hope
Date of Interview: 
Huntersville; Pineville; Sharecropping Farmer; Rosenwald School; Used Textbooks; feeder schools; pleurisy; dementia; integration; free basal texts; open schools; segregation; Union Schools;
Lillie Dial describes her life growing up on a farm and her family life as the youngest of eleven children. She describes going to Rosenwald School in Pineville, North Carolina as well as her teachers and characteristics of the school. She discusses the lack of local schools for black students after the seventh grade in Pineville, so those who were able would go to a boarding school or to Second Ward High School. She also highlights the creation of a new school in Pineville.
1930s to 1970s- Charlotte, NC; Pineville, NC
Before Brown Collection
Interview Audio: 
HM (Hope Murphy): This is Hope Murphy. I'm doing an interview with Ms. Lillie L-I-L-L-I-E Beatty B-E-A-T-T-Y Dial. It's in her kitchen, the home of Ms. Lillie and Walter Dial--Walter Dial Jr. Ms. Dial, if you could just tell me a little bit about your mother and father and where you grew up and maybe any siblings you have.
LD (Lillie Dial): I was born in Huntersville, North Carolina, on January 21, 1925, to the parents of Arlington T. Davie, and Liller Cathy Davie.
HM: Could you spell your mother's first name?
LD: L-I-L-L-E-R. Liller.
HM: That's pretty.
LD: And they were farmers, and in early 1930s they moved to the Pineville area and at that time I wasn't really old enough to go to school, but then when I became old enough, a school age, I was enrolled in the elementary school in Pineville. It was a Rosenwald School, which went from grades one through seven.
LD: And of course they were still farmers; they moved off of one farm, Mr. John Paul Lucas farm that was there in Huntersville, in that area, and then they moved on another one of his farms in the Pineville--Sterling area, but it was off of-- Sharon Road. It goes off of South Boulevard-
LD: -and that area. And at that time they had a lot of cows and there were a lot of fruit trees, and they-- we thought we-- I thought we were poor, 'cause about that time, I was about eight years old--seven or eight years old, and we had plenty of everything. The wheat they would take-- they grew wheat, my dad grew wheat, and they would take the wheat and have it ground into flour and the corn was taken and it was ground into meal and grits and they grew molasses cane, and took molasses cane to the mill and had molasses made. And I was a little girl and I'd like to go with my dad to the mills and see how they made the molasses. And then we had, like I said we had all those fruit trees, then we had plenty of wild berries and I hated to wash the jars, my hands were small enough to go in the jars-
HM: [laughter]
LD: to clean the jars and the--for the fruit. So I was always canning and of course I picked strawberries, those wild strawberries were very good. And, you know, we had strawberry jelly, strawberry jam and of course picked blackberries. I wasn't doing a whole lot of that 'cause I was too little to do that but--as I look back now, I said, we had a--we were rich.
HM: [laughter]
LD: Because we didn't really have to buy anything, we had-- we had chickens and we had the hogs and then we had the cows, and then from the cows we had the butter and the milk, and so we just--we didn't have to want for anything. And then we also had turkeys in addition to the chickens.
HM: Ok. And you had many brothers and sisters, did you say?
LD: Uh, I'm the eleventh child; I was the baby.
LD: And there were--two of 'em had died before I was born. So I didn't know the oldest one, number--number two died an early age; she was a girl, she died at around 17 years old, I think that she had pleurisy, whatever that is.
HM: I don't know.
LD: And so my daddy said that she died in his arms 'cause back then it was-- it was all rough and it was hard; they didn't have the doctors or the money to pay--
HM: Right.
LD: for doctors at that time like that they have now. Of course though they had a doctor to pull the fluid out from her side and all that. And--we were a happy family and I feel blessed that I had such parents, and they were church-going people and we were always taught to treat others the way we would like to be treated. And we respected the elders and just like my sisters that were older--we respected them as if they were a mom and dad. 'Cause we gave them that respect. And the neighbors and I--and I pray everyday. I thank God for my parents, the way they molded my life, and the neighbors who encouraged me to go to school and to do good and then my sisters and brothers were always so protective of me.
HM: Uh-hm.
LD: And I guess that's why you can hear this little whiney voice because everybody gave me love.
HM: Sure.
LD: And I just feel that God has blessed me with a family and friends that care about me. And I treat people that way, and I say, "It doesn't cost you anything to smile." So-
HM: That's right.
LD: I smile a lot, but I'm, I'm just grateful that I had--had a family who cared about us, each other and cared about me and then my husband is very supportive of me and he's a very good husband, very good. And so we worked together in the same church. When he met me I was a member of another church,
LD: a Presbyterian Church, but after we married, then I thought, well, I'll go into his church,
LD: so we can work together in his church. And it just worked out beautifully, so we both are in the choir and we both stay busy doing something in the church. And he does a lot of volunteer work and he works with the Friendship Trays and anytime they call on him for anything he's right there, so [pause]
HM: That's great.
LD: That's--then in, in 1995 I had to bring my sister, she was number three in the family, and she--and we always respected her as mother, you know, of the family, so she had to come and live with us and my husband was so supportive of her. And she came in 1995 because she was developing dementia.
HM: Oh no, I'm--
LD: And then when she--in '99, she had a--she had a like stroke--
HM: Oh my goodness, oh no.
LD: right here, and, so when she went to the doctor--to the hospital, they said she couldn't live by herself--
LD: That we could not take care of her.
HM: Oh OK.
LD: So she had to be taken to a nursing facility and we were lucky that it was on this side of town, so we were there everyday. She was there for two years. And she passed December 20, 19--I mean 2001 and it was a big loss but yet I'd asked God to comfort her and comfort me because she was always jolly. So we felt good that we had done, you know, so well to support her. And I miss her a-whole-lot but I think about all the good things that she did for the family and to the nieces- the many, many nieces and nephews that have always called on Aunt Murray- she was "Aunt Murray" and I always called her "Miss Murray." And one of my choir members said one time, she said, "Well, why do you call her 'Miss Murray' isn't that your sister?"
HM: [laughter]
LD: And I said, "Well it's just a respect that I give her being an elderly person." And so I just think about the respect and I'll tell you when I finished--when I retired from teaching I thought about all those people who had supported me and I sent them a Thank You letter because I didn't realize that I couldn't even get to college because my parents didn't have any money. But I had a scholarship and I went Barber-Scotia College; spent four years there. And then it was, it was almost a year before I was able to get a position teaching.
LD: And uh--
HM: Can we talk a little bit--I'd like to get, come back a little, so we kind of meet some of those people that helped you and talk about your teachers and your younger years and what kind of brought you to Barber-Scotia--if that's ok? Can you tell me--you said you went to a Rosenwald School, what was the name of that school?
LD: All I know it's just a Pineville Elementary--Pineville Colored Elementary School.
HM: What did it look like?
LD: There were four rooms--in fact there was another a little room, five rooms, I'll say over--that they used kind of like a kitchen when the county health doctor came and we got those vaccinations in that room and sometimes they gave us free milk--
LD: and they used that room for that. But the classrooms--I remember it was in, in the first grade room, and the second and third grade room, and went out through a little bitty hall into the fourth and fifth grade room, and the principal had taught the sixth and seventh grade.
LD: And then when we had devotion there was as divider--it was a board that you--they lifted up and sort of it would be large enough to--the area would be large enough to accommodate all the students when we had assemblies.
HM: Oh OK.
LD: And it had high windows. The pot-belly stove in each room.
HM: So that was the only heat?
LD: Yes.
LD: That was the only heat.
HM: Did it get cold? [laughs]
LD: Well, I guess we were just fortunate to--be to able to dress warmly but someone would get there to start the heat. A lot of times it would be the teacher who'd get there to start the heat before the students got there. And then it was heated with coal--
LD: But they'd have to have, what they call, kindling. That would be pinewood cut into smaller strips--
LD: To start the fire. And then maybe with a little--a little dry wood- maybe have something to start it with.
LD: And there was, our water came from a pump on the outside- of course, it was not inside, there was nothing inside.
LD: No indoor plumbing. And we had the outdoor toilets. And--
HM: Who would draw the water? Was that a chore that was given out to children? Do you remember about that?
LD: I think that we went out to the pump- somebody had to pump the water.
LD: And it seems like they may have had a cooler in their rooms so you'd get water. I, I had forgot about that part.
HM: [laughs]
LD: And this little building, if I can remember was gray- the building was gray.
HM: On the outside.
LD: And I remember that my first grade teacher was a Mrs. Halle Melton Mayberry. Her husband was the principal; he was a Rev. W. R. Mayberry; he was a Presbyterian minister. And the second and third grade teacher was a Mrs. Julia Douglas and her, her husband was a professor down at Johnson C. Smith.
HM: So they were mostly Presbyterians? Did you know if they had any official connection to the Presbyterian Church or any funding from them? Probably wouldn't know that as a child--
LD: I wouldn't know that.
HM: So, Can you tell me about Mrs. Mayberry at all? Do you remember what she looked like?
LD: Oh she was always smiling. Very pretty, she was light complexion, very pretty lady. And her husband was a real handsome, tall man; very handsome. Strict--strict as a mariam--
HM: [laughter]
LD: but his wife Halle was--I can see her smiles now and very pretty lady; very affectionate with the children, the children.
HM: Did they live nearby? Do you know why the--do you remember--
LD: They lived here--they lived here in Charlotte.
HM: OK, but not near this--
LD: Not a--no teacher I wouldn't--I, I don't think at that time any teachers that would lived out there.
HM: OK so you never visited the homes of your teachers or--that you remember?
LD: [pause] No, I don't.
LD: I'd never really--I'd never visited any of them but they visited our home because my dad would grow watermelons and Mayberry would come by and get watermelons and some vegetables.
LD: And I remember them bringing me to Charlotte to visit with my aunt, spend a weekend and I'd ride back with them.
HM: Oh, OK, OK.
LD: I may have been maybe nine years old or something like that, but I was young, very young.
HM: So was that a big deal- it must have been exciting to get in--with your teacher--
LD: Yes.
HM: and go on a--
LD: Right, right--
HM: [laughter]
LD: yes.
HM: Did you, did you go to school with--how far was the school from your house, do you remember? Did you walk or did you--
LD: Uh, yes, being--by my dad being a farmer--share crop farmer, that's where they raise--they do the farming and the man that owned the farm, would get--he'd get most everything, so we moved around. At that time when we moved from Huntersville to the area off of South Boulevard now, we walked and that was a long walk from there to Pineville. And I can think about those cold winter days where the Jack Frost was oozing up out of the ground and I don't see that anymore--
HM: [laughter]
LD: --but the ground would be so cold that frost would be oozing up--
HM: Oh my goodness--
LD: --and that ice would be... So then we moved, we moved closer, we moved in the area where Sterling Elementary--where Sterling School is now. That was, that was closer but we still had to walk to Pineville.
LD: And--
HM: Did you walk with your brothers and sisters?
LD: Yes, yes, yes.
LD: Then there--because we didn't have a car. Then when we left there, we moved to--off of Nations Ford Road- I think it was. By that time, I think I was in, in high school, in high school then, I believe, so we had school buses by this time.
HM: OK, in high school. Was there a middle school then, or did you go straight from--
LD: We went from--there wasn't any middle school--when we left the elementary schools there was grades one through seven--
LD: --and then there was nowhere, there was nowhere for, for black students to go. Because, unless the parents were well off enough to send them to a boarding school- that's what they call it, a boarding school, which some of them did not do because they didn't have the funds. And some would come in after they finished the seventh grade- they came into Charlotte because Second Ward had--was built in 1923--
LD: --and some of the parents were able to send their children to live with a relative here--
LD: --and they would go onto school. That's where a lot of 'em black--their education would stay here in Charlotte with a relative--
LD: --and go in the Second Ward but those who were unfortunate like that--they got jobs--think about finishing the seventh grade and then you have to go to work or get married at that age. So it was, it was rough until we got to high school. Want me to tell you about that now?
HM: Yeah, tell me the, tell me the name of the high school.
LD: Well in 1936 is when they--when plans were made for us to get schools in the count--
LD: --in 1936, so they started building--of course they had to find the sites for the school and the site chosen was across from what was known then as the Old Speedway- The Pineville Speedway.
HM: Ok, and there was a Speedway there?
LD: Yes, it was all in that area and then it was all vacant land with only a few sparsely homes, as I remember I think it was about seven homes in that area during that time.
HM: And these were black folk, white folk, and mixed--
LD: Well, there scattered whites and blacks but like I said there were about seven houses,--
LD: --scattered about. And so after they chose the site then I guess work started or began on it in '37 because in 1937 they--is when we had the first grade of the high school added and that was, that was at the old elementary school in--
LD: --in Pineville--
LD: --the colored elementary school. They had to make room for the incoming class of students so the elementary children had to be placed somewhere. And I remember that the Presbyterian-- the black Presbyterian Church was called Lord's Chapel Presbyterian Church there in Pineville had to house some of the grades. And I don't remember what grades went there during 1937 while the high school was being constructed.
LD: So, the first--since this was the first class after seventh grade--eight grade was the first grade and each year another grade was added.
HM: Oh OK.
LD: [pauses] Let's see--
HM: So were you the first to go to high school of your family or--
LD: No I was not the first to go but my sister--let's see--my sister who is now 93 years old that lives in Maryland, Katie- Katie Beatty Everett is her name- she was the first of my family to go to high school.
LD: The others that the elementary in the grades one through seven, they finished the seventh grade-the older ones-
HM: So Katie was where in the, in the count--
LD: Katie is number five I think, I think Katie is number five--
LD: four or five, I had wrote it in there but she, she was crippled and, and the--my parents felt that she should--that she should go on, on to school. So my dad and mom had her to come where they got permission from my dad's sister to let Katie live with them, her and her husband and go to Second Ward.
LD: So Katie was able to finish the ninth grade--she went through ninth grade here at the, at Second Ward.
HM: Ok, What did she do after, after ninth grade?
LD: She went to, she went to Washington D.C. and worked because our older sister Murray had gone there to work, and so Katie went there and worked doing domestic work.
LD: [pause] So she was very successful in her domestic work and learned to cook and she was able to buy, buy a home, educate her children, has helped with her grandchildren; she also helped me financially when I was taking care of my mom and dad.
LD: She has done extra, extra well with the little $2 job, $2-a-week jobs and $4-a-week jobs and so she has done real, real well. So she had three--she has three daughters. She and her husband separated very early--
HM: Oh no...
LD: --so she's had--she had to bring them up by herself, with the aid of her, our sister-in-law and her brother. So she was, she was the first to go to high school.
LD: And the other sisters that left home early went to night school and completed like eighth--
LD: eighth and ninth grade education. Then we came to the high school--then you want me--
HM: Umhm, please.
LD: --to talk about the high school?
HM: Tell me--
LD: Oh, and I didn't mention when I was talking earlier about the elementary school, one of my favorite teachers was Ms. Long in the fourth and fifth grade, so--
HM: Why was she your favorite?
LD: She had eyes like you and she would talk with her eyes and she was just a pleasant person and you felt very secure with her. She was not one of those that would be fussin' or snatching your paper or anything. But she would, she would just roll her eyes like--
HM: [laughter]
LD: and talk and smile and she was, she was just a lovely person.
LD: And she was one of those that went on from the elementary school, she followed us on up through the high school.
HM: Oh OK.
LD: So she and the second and third grade teacher, Mrs. Douglas were the two from the elementary school that went on there.
HM: OK. Do you know anything about their--that maybe you learned later about their educational background, or?
LD: [Pauses] I, I don't know about her background but it was in one of the--when she died I know they did a picture memorial or something and after she died in the high school had a--they dedicated a picture or something of her because she was such a lovely person.
LD: But I'd--and I'm sure it might be in that material but when I was doing my writing I didn't put that down. I can't remember now where she went to school.
LD: I don't know whether she went to Winston-Salem Teachers College--
LD: --or where, wherever but right now I can't say--
LD: [pause] Now where are we?
HM: Do you remember--before we leave elementary school--do you, do you remember anything about the books that you used or--
LD: Yeah.
HM: --the supplies or what your learned in your subjects, or--
LD: What's the name of that little first grade book, but back that then the parents had to--I think we bought our, the first books--
LD: bought the little, the little book. I don't remember the name of it. I think it was a little green book and I believe in that story, in that book was where the--you're really putting my mind to work [laughing]--what's the name of that story where the family went out and they trying to pull this turtle up and they--
HM: [laughter]
LD: --and everybody's pulling; the grandpa and the mom and the dog and you see a picture with everybody pulling, trying to pull this big turtle up and I remember that story [laughing], that was the first I have even thought about it since then. But we had that one book and I remember how the teacher would go the chalkboard and print words on the chalkboard we had to learn these words and all of this.
HM: Do you remember what your desks look like, did you have--
LD: Yes, we had the desks with the ink well.
LD: You know what I'm talking about?
HM: Umhm, yes.
LD: OK, we had that and then I believe in the fourth and fifth grade, we had--well those were individual desks--and I believe in the fourth and fifth grade we had the longer desks where two of you could sit.
LD: I believe it was like that, where two could sit on a seat. The long desk--where you put your books up underneath.
HM: OK. Do you remember anything about any friends you had?
LD: Yes, Betty Smith, her mom's name was Cora and her father was a minister so I don't think Mrs. Cora worked. And it was Betty Smith, Margaret Davis. Margaret and I were very good friends. Margaret is still living in Philadelphia.
HM: And you still keep in touch with her?
LD: Yes, I keep in touch with her and, [pause] let's see, Thelma Barnette, Edna Morrow, Beatrice Phillips, Nancy--I can't remember what Nancy's name was--and I'm thinking of another girl, her last name was Massey, [pause] another one, Portia Stewards, [pause] these are elementary.
HM: That's amazing that you remember those. Did they come from all--you said one was--their father was a minister--did they come from all different backgrounds or were they mostly farming children, or?
LD: Most of, most of these were farming children that lived in that area.
HM: Ok. Where there, was there a white school nearby, that you remember, did you, did you have any interaction with white children?
LD: No, not really.
LD: The white school, evidently was the Union School all in one--that's the grades one through 11--
LD: --and that school at that time was called-- I think it was Farmville--
LD: --School.
LD: And I believe the principal was a Mr. Barnette. And I didn't know that--
HM: It's its silly how you remember this stuff [laughing]-
LD: --Until after I had started teaching in Gaston County after integration and one of the girls worked with me, her, her husband was related to this principal.
HM: Oh, OK.
LD: [pause] Well I wouldn't have any--
HM: So you never played with white children or were there--
LD: Not, no I didn't
HM: OK. Did you, did you ever notice--do you remember ever noticing maybe a quality difference between the white school and the black school?
LD: Yes.
HM: You remember that?
LD: Yes, [pause] not that I was in it, in the white school but I remember the textbooks. Our textbooks, after we got to high school we had to--I think maybe we were still buying our books-- yes we had to, to buy our books and then we started renting them. I have that material in the notes, as to when they started renting the books and then when we had the free books. So when we started getting the free books then we would get the old books that the whites had used.
LD: And of course at the end of the year when they would take up the books [clearing throat] it let you, you would have to code them "good,"--
UN: [singing]
LD: --"fair," "bad"--
LD: --and then--see they're already damaged when we received the books from the other school and we got new desks--they, they were not new, they came from the white school while whites would get the new, the new furniture. And after I left high school, and went on off to college, then we didn't have, at my school, we did not have a band but after I went off to college and they added the bands to the school curriculum and the other--like football and curriculum like that. Then they would, I was told that the equipment was the equipment that had been used by the whites that was passed down--
LD: --to the black school.
HM: So this would have been in like the 40s when they added--
LD: Yes, late 40s and 50s,
LD: and 50s.
HM: So you didn't have any extra-curricular activities, or you didn't have any extra-curricular activities when you were--
LD: In high school?
HM: Umhm.
LD: The glee club--the music--
LD: --music department.
HM: Did you do that, or?
LD: Yes, yes I was in the sextet and even now when we have our Pineville Sterling Alumni reunion we, we sing because there's still some memories of that sextet and 'cause we graduated in '43.
LD: and, so there's Betty McCarroll, whose a caterer, and she was the first black caterer here in this area and she's very good. She's the founder of the McCarroll Catering Service.
LD: Very good, and so she sang alto--now Lisa Morrison was in the sextet. Patty Belle Jacobs was in the sextet. Lillie Dial was in the sextet. What else, Mary, Mary Woods-Mary Foust Woods was in the sextet. And Purdy Marrow and she's dead.
LD: But I think the rest of us are still here.
HM: Wow.
LD: And so we were in that but we, we didn't, 'cause we only were, we just, I think we were the fourth [mumbling] we were the fourth graduating class of the high school.
HM: OK. Do you remember about how many people were in your graduating class?
LD: We had 22.
HM: And was that evenly split, pretty much between the male and female, or?
LD: [long pause] If you could stop I could get the pictures for you. TAPE CUTS OFF
HM: Alright Mrs. Dial, [pause] Ok, just worried for a second we weren't--so we were talking about, I think when we left off before the pause in the tape talking about your class, and could you give me the full name of the school again. I'm not sure if I got the full name of the school. It's Pineville-
LD: The high school?
HM: Umhm.
LD: Pineville Colored High School.
LD: And it was later changed to--it was changed in 1950, I think it was, to Sterling High School.
HM: OK, and that was in 1950, OK. I'm looking at the picture of you in your graduating class of 1943 and twenty--did we say how many?
LD: Twenty-two.
HM: And I see that there are not many boys in the class. Is that, did you know if boys were, were they more expected to go to work earlier or why do you, why do you think there's so many women as opposed to--
LD: [pause] Some of the boys may have gone at that time to, in Service.
HM: Oh, OK.
LD: Because that's 1943--
HM: OK, let's look at the little room.
LD: --and none of those boys are living now--
LD: --out of that class.
HM: OK. And there are five boys and so with so few boys [laughs] did you date, did you date in high school or no, was that--
LD: No.
HM: No? OK.
LD: No, I was sheltered--
HM: [laughter]
LD: and I look back and I thank goodness that I am , I was sheltered.
HM: So was there Prom, or any kind of dances, or?
LD: Well now, for the Prom, Mr. Chilsholm, our first principal, was very strict. We had no gym or no place for a prom. The hallway in the school was used for the banquet and there was nowhere for us in 1943, '42-'43 we didn't have a place to have affair like we have now.
HM: OK, so you had more of a sit-down--
LD: Yes.
HM: --banquet?
LD: Yes, sit down, and you can imagine with tables in the hallway that it was almost impossible to pass.
HM: So did you family come, and to something like that or was it just for the--
LD: that was just for the--and it was in the daytime!
LD: It was a daytime affair.
HM: I've taken you too far ahead, [laughter] let's come back. So you started there in the eighth grade? Do you remember --
LD: I started there in the seventh grade.
HM: Oh OK, at, in the, in the new building?
LD: Yes
HM: OK. Did you--
LD: and my teacher was Mrs. Elsie Ward.
HM: OK, E-L-S-I-E?
LD: Let me see how I would spell it. [Shuffling of papers] [long pause]
LD: Did I tell you when we went into the, what year we went into the new school?
HM: I don't know I think '37?
LD: That's when it started in the elementary school but we moved in, in 1938.
HM: Moved in 1938, OK. [Shuffling of papers]
HM: Alright, so I'm sorry Mrs. Elsie Ward was your?
LD: First, I mean, seventh grade teacher.
HM: OK. And do you remember any of the courses that were taught?
LD: of course it would be the English and math, (of course though we wouldn't, back then we'd call it) arithmetic and history-the basics.
LD: In the, in the seventh grade-- [Papers shuffled all throughout]
HM: Ok. [ pause] don't worry, don't worry, don't worry, don't worry about it.
LD: Let's see where was I? At the curriculum and in the eighth grade I know we had-- END OF TAPE 1 SIDE A START OF TAPE 1 SIDE B
LD: In high school we had more courses.
HM: Did you ever feel like you were being prepared either to go to college or not to go to college? Did you ever feel steered that way?
LD: Oh. Yes, we were, because we had teachers, parents, principals who encouraged us to work toward going to college, although I never thought that I'd get there, but my daddy went to Johnson C. Smith, I think he went there through the tenth grade.
HM: Oh, to the high school?
LD: I guess it was--
LD: a high school then. So he went there to Johnson C. Smith and he always encouraged us to go to school. So yes, I felt I was being prepared to go.
HM: OK. Can you tell me a little bit--I have a picture here of the school building, can you tell a little bit about the way the school looked and how many classrooms there were?
LD: Well, in 1938 high school opened without a cafeteria or provisions for a lunch program.
HM: OK. So you brought your lunch, you brought your lunch?
LD: Students and teachers brought lunch from home and then the home economics department under the guidance Mrs. Lucille Russell Pierce helped by providing soup, sandwiches, hot dogs, and peanut butter crackers for a small fee.
HM: Oh, so you could buy your, you could buy your lunch too?
LD: Well, just that.
LD: That was prepared in the home economics department.
HM: OK. Do you know what happened to that money? Did she--did it just go back into buying more supplies?
LD: I wouldn't know anything about what happened to the money [Both laugh] but I would think it would go to buy supplies. And we had the girls bathroom was on the north end of the building and the boys was on the far end. And everything was under one, it was all one--under one roof.
HM: OK. So you had indoor plumbing?
LD: Yes.
LD: And at first, at the start we didn't even have dividers between the stalls, it wasn't even private.
HM: Oh my goodness.
LD: And we had the big auditorium and we'd go in the auditorium for study period.
HM: Oh OK.
LD: And also that was where we practiced the glee club and the sextet.
HM: And, is that the--
LD: And--
HM: Go on, I'm sorry.
LD: And then when you came in the entrance the principal's office was right there on the left. And then there was the biology room, Mr. Howard's room, he wasn't one of the first teachers though. The science room--the, I mean biology, and then chemistry, and [pause] and then the elementary room. Mrs. Ward's room was on the left and Mrs. Barns had the--I'm trying to think--I think, I know Mrs. Barns had the fifth grade. I think maybe she had fifth and sixth I can't remember.
HM: OK. So I'm sorry, they moved, when they moved to the new building; everyone, all the elementary school or just--you've probably answered this for me.
LD: The elementary students from, just from the colored--
HM: The Rosenwald School.
LD: Right.
HM: They moved over everyone?
LD: Yes.
HM: OK, it's now under one roof.
LD: Then, [pause, papers shuffling, whispering]
HM: You were telling me about the text--tell me about the textbooks. Do you remember, you were still getting, you were still getting used textbooks from the, from the white school.
LD: Yes, in high school, yes. And I was telling you before, before 1935 students had to purchase their textbooks.
LD: And in 1935 and '36 the inauguration of the state rental plan of distribution of the textbooks was established and then subsequent provisions followed in 1937-38 for free basal texts--
LD: for grades one through eight.
LD: And then new books, like I told you before, new books were issued to the white schools while black schools received the old books--
LD: that were previously used by white students.
HM: Now did that, did you have any account of political--was there a thought in you that this was unfair or did you ever think that, do you think or?
LD: Sure, we thought that was unfair--
HM: Yeah, OK.
LD: because see some of them would be fairly clean and then some of them would be damaged and then of course they already damaged then you've got to pay damaged fees.
HM: Did you, and did you, you're still walking to school at this point?
LD: No--
HM: No, you're taking--
LD: we had buses.
LD: At first there were only, at first there were only three buses--school buses.
LD: and, whereas the white children were riding in buses where black students couldn't have many school buses until 1937 when we, when we started the high school.
LD: In elementary school we didn't have them.
HM: OK. Were they new buses, do you know, or were they again hand-me-downs, do you remember?
LD: They're probably hand-me-downs--
HM: [laughter]
LD: you never know.
LD: First there were only two or three school buses and then as enrollment increased more buses were added.
HM: Ok. And how long did it take you to get to--
LD: I think it would be like 18 miles, because my brother would leave Pineville and go all the way down to the Providence-Murkland area and make a circle--
HM: Oh really?
LD: and come all the way back. Yes.
HM: So it was children from all over?
LD: Yes, there were feeder, feeder schools, I call them, where these children, the students came from. I'll tell you the first bus, school bus drivers were Sammy Kiffian Beatty, my brother.
HM: Oh! How did he get that job? Was he still in school while he was doing that?
LD: He was still in school, yes--.
HM: Oh, that's interesting.
LD: he was still in school. And then Wilburn Jackson. My brother had the route from Pineville to Murkland, Jonesville and big Pineville that was like the Providence Road area and the Matthew-Murkland area.
LD: And then (where would) Jackson came from, his route was from the McClement community and then Reed Elementary School, which was off of York Road, and Little Hope Elementary School, and Ebenezer Elementary School.
LD: And then Mr. Barnette picked up students from the area west of Pineville--his daughter told me.
LD: But the others I don't know about those and then in 1947, I think it was, I said that history was made when Pauline Coffey, she was called Pauline Hoover then, when she became the first female, black school bus driver.
HM: Oh, OK.
LD: And little did she know she was making history then.
HM: Now did she have children in the system or--
LD: No, she was a student there.
HM: Oh OK. You don't know, oh I'm sorry, you don't know what your brother got paid to do that?
LD: No, seems to me like he was getting about $9 a month. So Pauline says that she was getting about $20 a month and that her money was used to help with the family.
HM: Ok.
LD: There were two entrances to the community and they were from the south side, like coming in from Pineville, you had to go over an old, dilapidated, rickety, old bridge, and two vehicles couldn't pass over it at the same time. And we were always afraid going over that old bridge. And then coming in from the northern part of the community you had to come over, you had to stop so many times for the train that was--
LD: that was going by. But that was done away with--they changed the entrance to the community, it must have been in the late '60s or '70s, so you don't have to stop for the train now--
LD: 'cause the bridge goes over the track.
HM: OK. And that area was still primarily rural? Were there--
LD: At the time when we moved--yes, that was. It was, and then, I think it was in 1970 when we were in next to Charlotte, because I lived out there.
LD: I lived right in front of the school--
LD: until 1985.
LD: What other things did I want to say? Oh, I didn't give you the feeder schools that those students came from. Here they are: the feeder schools for the Pineville Colored High School, which was, which were all Rosenwald Schools--
LD: because that's what, that's all we had when somebody saw a need that we needed some schools in the south for blacks. The feeder schools was the McClintock Elementary School located in west Mecklenburg County and at this time Mr. Diamond was the principal and he taught [phone rings] fifth, sixth, and seventh grades. And his teachers were Ms. Oglesby and she taught third and fourth grades and then Sarah Falls Byers, I knew him but I didn't know these. Reed Elementary School on York Road; Carrie Peeler Chisholm and that's Mr. Chisholm's wife but Mr. Chisholm was the first principal of the high school, that was his wife. And so, it was just two teachers there; Ms. Lillie Ferguson--Ms. Lillie Ferguson lived right here on the corner, right here in my neighborhood--
LD: and Ms. Ferguson just died last year.
HM: Oh my goodness, OK.
LD: In fact her son married my cousin, so Harry comes down and checks on my husband. Then Little Hope Elementary School, the principal was--and it's located on Little Hope or what was on Little Hope Road--Mrs. Jamison was the principal, she taught fifth, sixth, and seventh grade and she also had Aldrich Melton who taught third and fourth grade and Ms. Melton was the sister to the first grade teacher that I told you about down at the elementary school.
HM: OK, that's my family's name, Melton is the family name.
LD: Oh, and also at the Little Hope they had Roberta Hannibal so it was three teachers there. And Ebenezer Elementary School is located on South Boulevard and the principal then was Mrs.--I don't know if it was Mrs. or Miss--Hargrove--
HM: Oh OK.
LD: It was Mrs. because I remember she had a son. And she was the principal and my aunt, Bessie Beatty taught the first, second, third grade so it was just two teachers there.
HM: OK, wow.
LD: And these were the feeder schools and I thought this would be interesting history that I'm putting together for this book; to know where the students came from--
LD: for the high school. And then the Pineville is down there now they call it down in the Ballantyne area--
LD: So it was down in that area.
HM: Were there a lot of black families down there then?
LD: I don't know; see that was all farmland down there.
LD: That was a lot of farmland at that time. And then these principals and the teachers what grades they taught, then Jonesburg Elementary School was in the Providence area and you weren't here during the time that "Genial Gene" Potts was on the radio, he was a big radio announcer--
LD: for WGIV, then Murkland Elementary School, these are the areas from which those students came for the high school.
HM: OK, so in the area then there was your school, Pineville, and then there was Second Ward, were there any other, did you know, black high schools that you were aware of then?
LD: West Charlotte was built, not northwest, this one down here--
LD: was built--it may have come--I'm not sure of the history of the West Charlotte High School--
LD: but Second Ward was the first one.
LD: And then it was not until the 30s when, when they put schools in the county.
LD: And I do have that in my writing about the--
LD: other counties schools, but I was focusing mostly on Sterling- Pineville-Sterling.
HM: Sure. Tell me- OK, so you went through until twelfth grade like now?
LD: No, at first, when I graduated we only had grades one--we didn't have a kindergarten--one through eleven.
LD: And I think it was 1945 when they added the twelfth grade.
LD: But I didn't go through twelfth grade, they added it on after I graduated.
LD: And the schools then were all union schools because they had the first grade all the way through high school. You had the elementary and everybody left together--
LD: where as now they don't.
HM: So did you have any interaction with the younger children? Were there any--did you help teach them, or were you just totally separate from them?
LD: Well we all went to assembly together.
HM: Oh, you did? OK.
LD: We all went there together because, I don't know what the enrollment was then, I did get some of that down at the library; but yeah, we would go in to assembly together. They would sit on the first rows and that kind of thing.
HM: Was there a playground?
LD: Oh yes, we had plenty of playground out there [laughs] because we had plenty of space [both laugh]; we played softball.
LD: And then they did--the high school played basketball out there on the red dirt.
HM: OK, did they have hoops?
LD: Yeah.
LD: But then everything got better as years went by--
LD: and they were able to help. I don't know if they had football or not but I know they had basketball games. And let's see. [pause] Did I tell you about the first, the first faculty members of the new high school?
HM: Uh, no.
LD: Would you like me to tell you about that? [pause]
HM: You can put them on there as Ms. Shaw.
LD: Yes.
HM: They taught math and chemistry.
LD: And Johnny Halsimers was English, French, and chorus.
HM: Did you take French?
LD: Yes.
HM: Did you like it? I hated French. [laughs]
LD: Well, the only thing I could remember was "Notre pere, notre dame pere" we were trying to learn the Lord's Prayer in French.
HM: Oh, how funny.
LD: Though I never mastered any French. Lucille Russell, home economics teacher. F.J. Gordon, science and biology. Now I don't know if Ms. Shaw has died but she was--she had Alzheimer about three or four years ago because one of my missionary members knows her.
LD: And her son had taken her to Durham, I think it was. But I don't know if she's still living or not.
HM: OK. Can we talk about--so you get to eleventh grade and when did you decide that you were going to go to college? Did you just--
LD: Well--
HM: do you remember?
LD: my mom was telling me about going to college and I said, "Well, Papa said that college is hard." and I was timid about that. So my aunt--I think I showed you her picture, the nurse--she came down like--I'll say she came down to the house like this Sunday and she said, "Are you going to college?" And I said, "No," I say, "I hear that it's hard." She said, "Well, you just stay on here." She said, "Mary Louise is gone." Mary Louise is my first cousin--
LD: it's her sister's daughter. And she said, "Birdie has gone." That's her brother's daughter. And I'm her other brother's daughter so she said, "They've gone on to college then you just stay on down here and work for these factory folks for $2 a week." I got in there and I filled out that application, sent it right on to Barber-Scotia and September 13, 1943 [giggling], I caught that train out there in Pineville and went to Barber-Scotia. So that's how, that's when I made up my mind.
HM: Do you remember any of the reaction from your teacher or from your peers? Were they happy for you--
LD: I remember--
HM: was everyone encouraging or were there people that--
LD: Most, like I said most people were encouraging and see the principal had gotten me the scholarship, it wasn't a whole lot but it helped back then because I think it was like--it would only be about $120. My aunt, the same aunt got in touch with her brother--well no she didn't. When my uncle came home from Oklahoma, to his little sister's funeral and my mom asked him would he help send me to college. But that came after my brothers came out of service though. But anyway, when I went to college--back up, you asked me how did, so many of the people react. I remember when I was down at the station with my trunk and all of that stuff, and this girl, that had graduated in the first class, in 1940, asked another girl that was down there, just 'cause they lived right there in Pineville, and she said, "Are you going off to college, too?" And she said, "No." And she said, "You might as well go and come back like the rest of us here." [laughter] And I was the only one she was throwing that hint at. But that didn't stop me.
LD: "Cause, like I said, the neighbors and all encouraged me to go on. So it was my aunt that really [laughing] hit the buttons when she said you stay on down here and work for these, these factory folks for $2 a week. And Birdie and Mary Louise had gone on so all three of us finished school--we went to different schools. I went to Barber-Scotia, Birdie went to Talledega, and Mary Louise went to Winston-Salem, I think it was.
HM: OK. Now, we were talking about you, this is--I'm sorry, this is the second tape of Hope Murphy's interview with Ms. Lillie Dial. It is April 19, 2004 and it's around 2:20 in the afternoon. So you were saying how you went off to Barber-Scotia College and that you were very encouraged by most of your, most of your peers and your teachers and your principal.
LD: And my--
HM: Sorry.
LD: my family.
HM: And your family. [laughs] Once you got to Barber-Scotia did you feel well prepared by being at Pineville?
LD: I didn't think I was fully prepared, I really didn't. Because I even had to take the--that English course to bring me up to where I should be.
HM: Ok.
LD: I forget the name of it now, since it's been too long. But I was average, but math had never been my thing--
HM: [laughing]
LD: so I just didn't do well in math, or the sciences. But I was able to make it out of there at the regular time, the four years--
LD: as an elementary teacher.
HM: I'm sorry, you taught for how many years?
LD: Thirty-eight and a half years, but then after I retired I continued right on up until to 1995, I continued that particular school, until I had to take my sister in and take care of her.
HM: Were you teaching in segregated schools?
LD: When I retired--oh, well, I taught in segregated schools until we integrated--
LD: and then when we integrated there were two black teachers, Mrs. Simmerl and Ms. Stroup. We were sent to East Belmont Elementary School, it was all-white school. And at first I thought the children were against me, because some of them would cut up--would cut up so, but then the next year when they moved up to the white teacher's class they had 'em sitting out in the hall. Because so, so that let me know they were not--that I was not the problem, that they--
HM: Right, just that they [laughs]--
LD: were just the problem with the children themselves. And so we got along fine, and really did. At first some of the, some of the white teachers were not as hospitable or, you know, pleasant as, as I was, so then I thought well that's their problem it's not mine 'cause it doesn't change my character at all. And we became the very best of friends.
HM: You did.
LD: Even today we are friends, so it's just a matter of learning people and during that time after we--after the schools were integrated, we--that old elementary school was an old school, 'cause there was one level, we didn't have the upstairs; I never taught in one of those. But then we got a new school, so we, we moving on up to the modernization at this time, now. So--
HM: What year is this?
LD: It was in the 70s.
HM: Ok.
LD: And we had to go to classes--we were prepared for a new school--they open, that's when they had the open classrooms.
LD: So we went--drove from Pineville, 'cause Walter took me from Pineville, I think we went about eight different sessions from seven o'clock to nine o'clock at night--
HM: Oh.
LD: once a week, preparing for the new elementary school, which was Jamie Page School. And then we took trips around to see how other open classrooms were functioning and then some of those teachers would tell us how they--since they had been in the situation--how they would--what things that they would prefer rather than this, that, in the new school--
LD: so that helped us a lot. And then after we got situated in the new school it was beautiful and all of that, and with the open classrooms and media center out here it was like all the classrooms--well it was pods then--they or suites, we call 'em suites--and they jutted out into the media area--
HM: Oh, OK.
LD: so the media was in the center. Then at one time, I guess I didn't become interested in history like I am today until I was teaching the North Carolina history in the fourth grade. And then I had children when they finished their projects or their lessons or whatever then they could go to their centers and do things so we made, we made a couple--three quilts. We did three quilts and the secretary--the secretary's son was a salesman for men's clothing and so she would bring me all these samples--
LD: and we'd cut them out and so we made a quilt. We made three quilts and so in the spring when they had North Carolina heritage week, it's a good thing that it's not like it is now, that everything's got to be down to the paper and all, so I had during that week, I had like--it wasn't a whole week it was a day--but we had guides to go from the class to explain it this way, it would start with the kindergarten, the kindergarten came through at a certain day--a certain time and the teacher said, "We didn't expect this." So we had all this artwork and things that the children had done and the little tour guides wouldn't explain, and take this one and leave 'em at the entrance here, and then, and then the next one would take one 'round, and then another one. So we had it all laid out and we had also--and by the governor, Governor Hunt's wife to come to one of our affairs but she was already engaged to go to Washington for something at that time.
LD: And we had the mayor there, so we did a lot of good things, and even one of my little girl--a little white girl--tells me today that it was because of me the reason she got into the field that she's in. At first she was up there at the Washington, at the, was it the Smithsonian--
HM: Oh I know, OK.
LD: or somewhere. She, she finished at Wingate College--
LD: and Walter and I went to her graduation.
HM: Nice.
LD: And she, when she got married we went to her wedding over in Belmont. And so other children when they would come back from the high school, they came back and said, "Ms. Dial I'm so glad you taught us about this, that, and the other," that they learned in--from history.
LD: So I really enjoyed working with the students. I didn't have too many of the black students. At first we didn't have any black students in that area, because it was Mill Hill--
LD: folks. But they were, they were just getting along fine, just got along beautifully. It depends on how you treat people--
HM: Right.
LD: you know, if you--I believe in this--treating people the way you would like to be treated and I don't think any of us want to be kicked around [laughter]. But we did a lot of good things, and then the teachers when they'd go on vacation or out of town, (they'd see something on North Carolina they'd bring lillies [laughter] "here's some material on North Carolina").
HM: Nice
LD: So they were very supportive of what, what I was doing in my class. But I say, I wouldn't be able to use that time I'd take--take that whole day and have something like that for the students. And the principal, the principal was very supportive, the other principal, the one that I went there under he was an old, grouchy man--
HM: [laughs]
LD: he didn't care for us. But I was more, I guess, friendly than the other girl that went with me. But all in all, it was fine. I enjoyed teaching, I really did.
HM: Speaking of teaching history, when you were teaching in a segregated school as opposed to a primarily white school did you feel that you had to teach history differently or were there subjects that--
LD: No, I didn't do anything any different. Taught the same way, treated the students the same way, so wasn't any difference.
HM: OK. So you didn't feel pressured to--maybe in a black school to make--in a subject like slavery.
LD: No.
HM: No? Just told it like it was. [laughs]
LD: Yes, 'cause like I always say to some of the, some of the teachers, I'd say well now "If you know your, if you know your material, you know what you want to do, there's nothing to be afraid of." I mean we had some good principals, my principals, black principal I had when I was working at Harnett County--I worked at Harnett County for four years--and that principal, if I had--and this is all a segregated school, and well I, I remember having something written on the chalkboard, if he would notice anything, he wouldn't blast you out, you know, he would blame the book and he said, and not right then, its says here, "And um..." and he would point it out so then you couldn't, you had nothing to say [both laugh] but accept it.
HM: Right.
LD: And he's 87 years old, very active, he sent me a whole bunch of stuff about himself and he's interested in the Rosenwald School, but anyway, he you see--some of those teachers and principals would help you.
LD: Like little incidents like that. And I remember another black teacher--had written something on the chalkboard and she, she had to pass through my room--this is when we were segregated--and she had passed through my room to get to her room and she said, "Lillie," she said, "that's not the way your write--(I think it was) classroom." And may have written it in two separate, you know, and so we helped each other.
LD: We didn't down each other like that.
LD: So, and then when we were in the segregated school we even--we were really role models in character and in the way we dressed and carried ourselves. And a teacher wouldn't dare let a parents or child see 'em smoking [laughter].
HM: So do you think you offered perhaps a role--a role model that might be missing to children of color now? Do you think there were some positive aspects--
LD: Right.
HM: to going to a segregated school for black children? Do you think maybe that sense of family, or--
LD: Right.
HM: that they may not have now?
LD: I'm sure they don't have some of these things now that we, we gave to them, just like for instance, the children, black ones and white ones, need a pair shoes--black teachers have always gone that route--I don't know how, whether the white ones do or not, but I know that black teachers would put shoes on, on the children's feet. I did that for a little girl--I even have--I still have a picture where we took my class to the Biltmore House in Asheville and I--well this little girl, I wanted her to be in, in my--one of my little programs--North Carolina program, and so I asked the principal--this is the--I'm back in the integrated school now--and I asked the principal, I said, "You're wrecking her mom with care." I said, "How I can I, how can I approach the mother, 'cause I want this child and her sister to be in the program--I wanted all children in the program." And so he said, "Well, Lillie," he was a fine man too--
HM: [laughs]
LD: he said, "Lillie, well you could just ask her." So when I did visit the home, and she said, she said what "Ms. Dial, if I didn't have help from other people," she said, "I don't know what I would do." So I had a little, I had some material 'cause I was doing a lot of quilting then and I had a lot of material and I had my niece--I think my niece made this little skirt with a little jacket, and it had a blouse, for this little girl--she was a little chubby girl and I think I bought her some shoes. See we would do things like that but I had to get permission from this mother, this white mother--
LD: and she accepted this just graciously. And then the other white girl--there were two of them. I took them--I had them--this grew out of my North Carolina history, in the fourth grade, I joined this little North Carolina Tar Heel Junior Club and so we went down to Raleigh after this fellow whose in charge of whatever the program was--came to our North Carolina history program--that I told you with the tools and all--and he was just amazed at what we did and he invited us down to--what is the Mary's College--not Mary's, Meredith--in Raleigh--
LD: Meredith? Anyway we went down and so I had permission from two different parents; take these little--these little white girls and then they had a black mother and her little son, but I had just got my new car, so I took them home with me, which I wouldn't do nowadays-but nothing came from that--but they went home with me and spent the night so we would go to Raleigh the next morning. And on the way down, [laughs] one of the little girls starts crying, I thought, what in the world, cause I was driving, she had taken the lighter out and it had burned her side [laughs]--
HM: Oh no.
LD: and this little black boy said, [laughter] "well you shouldn't have done something like that." So, he was the only, he was the only black child in my class--
LD: but he had a supportive mom. And then I remember--this is since we've integrated now-- but I remember Joel had taken his little spelling test and he was cheating off of somebody--
HM: Oh my goodness!
LD: the little white girl's paper. And I took his little paper and I tore it up. And then he called me a name, and all these little white girls looked up at me because it was shocking to them and so I couldn't ignore it.
HM: Right.
LD: And I took him to the principal. And the principal said, "Son, where's your mom? Get your coat, and we'll take you to your mom." And he started crying. So, anyhow, she was a very, very supportive mom and he was kind of slow--
LD: but I worked with Joel, and the supervisor, which was black, she, she always commends me about how I handle-- END OF TAPE 1 SIDE B START OF TAPE 2 SIDE A
LD: always commends me about how I handled Joel. And, but see I had the mother--
HM: Right.
LD: because his father lived in Detroit.
LD: It was one of those cases I guess he, you know, how these men get these other children. But Joel would go and visit with him every year. So Joel is successful--I couldn't believe that Joel got to A and T. I think he finished A and T, he's here in Charlotte, he has his own business, it's sanitary--
LD: not sanitary--garbage pick-up--
LD: or something like that independent--
HM: Ok, good for him.
LD: Yes, so I saw him at his grandmother's funeral.
HM: Oh my goodness.
LD: But I just think that sometimes you have to give children a little bit more. Now I know I had another little black girl and she couldn't stand me. Because, see I was trying to help her.
HM: Ok. I'm sorry can you hold on? I just- I'm going to turn off the recorder, 'cause I actually need to get going before my children put out in the street, but I'd like to listen to your story off, if you don't mind? Off the--while I pack up, if you don't mind if I listen to the rest of your story while I pack--