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Interview with Bonnie E. Cone

Interviewee: 
Cone, Bonnie E.
Interviewer: 
Greeson, Jennifer
Date of Interview: 
1993-07-19
Identifier: 
MUCO0044
Subjects: 
Women and the sciences; Women and war work-WWII; Duke University; Teaching; Women and teaching; Carver College; Coker College; Segregation; Charlotte College; Mecklenburg College; Education; Post-secondary education; Postwar education; GI Bill; Men's education; College fundraising; Central High School
Abstract: 
A woman with a life-long commitment to education, Bonnie Cone discusses her many roles as teacher, college administrator, and mentor. She discusses her youth in South Carolina and the educators who influenced her in both her hometown and during her undergraduate career at Coker College. She recalls her own early teaching career and the war work she undertook during World War II. Cone discusses the founding of Charlotte College, including her vision of and commitment to the concept of a school to serve veterans, her quest for land for the institution, and her recruitment of the school's first faculty members. Moreover, Cone recalls larger social issues and their effects on her experiences in education such as segregation and gender roles. Cone discusses her continued role with the university and its alumni in the late 1990s.
Coverage: 
Charlotte, 1920s-1990s
Interview Setting: 
The interview took place in the Garinger Building on the University of North Carolina at Charlottecampus.
Collection: 
Levine Museum of the New South, Professional Women Series
Interview Audio: 
Transcript:
JG (Jennifer Greeson): OK.
BC (Bonnie Cone): Is that doing to suit you now?
JG: It all seems to be alright. That's the important thing. [RECORDING INTERRUPTED, THEN RESUMED]
BC: Were in UNC Greensboro, and we were serving mainly men.
JG: Um-hum.
BC: And we did have Queens College here, you know, if the women who could afford to go, they could, but men just didn't have any place.
JG: Um-hum.
BC: So I think we, we were needed. Took us a long time to get out here, but--.
JG: Right. Well, let me see. Let me see how--. [RECRODING INTERRPUTED, THEN RESUMED]
BC: Nice to know you're interested in writing about this institution. [Laughter]
JG: Yes, well I certainly am. And also, also I'm, you know, very interested in knowing about, about you and how you came to be involved with the institution.
BC: Yeah, yeah. All right.
JG: So.
BC: Do you have enough room now?
JG: Um-hum. I'm just fine. I'm fine. Are you?
BC: Sure, I'm fine too.
JG: Are you comfortable?
BC: Um-hum, yeah.
JG: Well I thought maybe we could start out and you could tell me a little bit about growing up in South Carolina.
BC: All right.
JG: And your, your family or community and your school?
BC: Good. Well, I was born and reared in a little village in South Carolina in the Low Country, South Carolina. The village name was Lodge, L-O-D-G-E, South Carolina. And it was named, I'm sure, for the old Masonic lodge building, which was the first building in the town not too far from my home. Less than a block away, I guess. And I have an idea the old farmers would say, "Well, I'm going to the lodge," you know?
JG: Um-hum.
BC: "For a meeting," you know. They didn't say what for, you know. And so after a while, I have an idea that, that's how it got it's name was Lodge from the Masonic lodge building, which was not very far, about a couple of blocks from where I lived. I know when I--, that there were just ten grades in the school. And when I finished high school, I had three, two brothers and a sister, and they were all away in, in college. And it was just not very easy to send the fourth one to college at that time, so I was kept at home an extra year. But that year, I guess, turned out to be one of the most significant years in my life, because I did have contact with one of the greatest teachers there in that little village. [Laughter] This man was Mr. Ed Rince, and he, he knew mathematics, and he was able--. I was able to review, you know, the math that I had had in high school and just got a good found--, you know, got a good foundation there. And so the next year, when I went to Coker College--. I wanted to go to Winthrop, because I knew I wanted to be a teacher, but the minister and his wife persuaded my family that I was too timid a little girl to go to a big school like Winthrop College. Shucks, I think I could have handled it. [Laughter] I believe I could have handled it at Winthrop. But then I loved Coker, because they sent me to Coker College. And they--. I know, I know my folks took me to Denmark, South Carolina and put me on the train, and we changed trains in Florence, South Carolina. And then, this must have been spent like all day long. Finally, in late in the afternoon, that train backed into the station in Hartsville, where Coker College was located. And you know, it tooted the whistle every step of the way, and I thought if it tooted one more time I wouldn't be able to take it because I was already homesick. [Laughter] Well, as I've gone to Coker in these recent years, I've been on their board of trustees. I've been chairman; I think the only woman chairman of the board, in a hard period of time. As I crossed that railroad track coming from my motel room to the college for meetings, I relive that experience, you know, my first trip to college, to Coker College. But it was, it was a wonderful institution, and I, and I got, I thought a very fine education there. But my scholarship, my work scholarship, was grading math papers for two full-time math professors. And the chairman of the department, the old Winthrop graduate, if she didn't have anything for me to do, any papers for me to grade, she would make me sit there and talk to her. Well that was worse than grading papers [Laughter] as you can well imagine for a little freshman college girl. But if either one of them happened to be absent, I'd have to teach their class, you know. I'd have to handle that class. That wasn't easy, either. And then the dean of women wanted to graduate from college, but she couldn't because she'd never had plane geometry. So she asked me to teach her plane geometry, and my, Miss Reeves, the head of the department, let me do it. And then I had a junior girl in my class who needed it to graduate, too, the next year. So I think the junior paid me thirty dollars for the whole course. [Laughter] And Miss Reeves--. And Miss Taylor painted me a picture, a beautiful picture of the reflecting pool. It was this area where May Queens were crowned Queen of the May and all that sort of thing, you know. But didn't have it framed, so it took me a long time to [Laughter] [Clears throat] after I started working to, to have my picture framed. But. So I had some interesting experiences there, at Coker. Now, you have to get me back on track.
JG: How did you decide to become a teacher in the first place?
BC: Well, I just knew from my earliest years that's what I wanted to be. I don't know. It was just--. And then, after I had this wonderful man that extra year in, in public schools, and he was tremendous. I was so glad in my later, in his later years, I was able to, to tell him so. You know, to write it is one thing, but to be able to say it in person is another thing.
JG: Um-hum.
BC: He, he was at a--. My brother-in-law used to go on these hunts, deer hunts, down in Low Country South Carolina, and than they'd have this big celebration, and then they had barbecue and all that.
JG: Um-hum.
BC: Before Thanksgiving or around Thanksgiving time. And, and that last year, the last time I saw Mr. Rince, it was at one of those occasions, and I had a chance to tell him what he had meant to me and what his good teaching had done for me. And I'm sure that--. I now know what that can mean. Just like yesterday somebody saw me coming from getting my newspaper and stopped and said, "You taught me math so-and-so-and-so at UNCC and, and, and they--." I taught all the way at UNCC until 1959, [Bell ringing] and then I decided it wasn't fair to my students because I'd have to go to Raleigh for this, to get this thing done, or to make this speech I'd have to be somewhere, you know, and I have to miss class and somebody else tried, but I'd come back and the poor students would say, "Please take us back to where you, [Laughter] where you left us." And I thought well, it's just to keep me alive. This isn't fair to my students. So I finally in '59 had to give up my teaching, and that was really a hardship. I hated to do it, but it wasn't fair to the students.
JG: You said all the children in your family went to college.
BC: Yes.
JG: Did your parents go to college, too?
BC: My, my, my father went to this same school that some of, well, that both of my brothers went to, Carlisle Military School. It was not very far about, less than twenty miles from my home.
JG: Um-hum.
BC: But, you know, you, you couldn't come back and forth. That was a great distance in those days so you had to be a boarding student. The breakfast table that I do most of my bre--, in my little breakfast room, is the table my daddy studied on when he went. If you had a study table, you had, the parents had to provide it, and, and this is a very special little table in my house that I enjoy having my breakfast and other meals, most of them, there.
JG: So was education a really high priority in your family?
BC: It was a high priority in our family. Uh-huh.
JG: Let's see, and you are a math teacher.
BC: I majored in mathematics in, in college, and then I, I did my master's degree at Duke. I had to do it in the summertimes, because I couldn't afford to take off time. See we started teaching with a college education nine months a year, sixty dollars a month. And this was paid in South Carolina script, which says South Carolina owes you. Now, if you needed that money, and I had to have mine, you had to discount it. That meant you didn't get sixty dollars. Some [Clears throat] some furniture store, if you wanted to buy your first radio or first little television, they you know, they would not give you full sixty dollars. They'd give you fifty dollars, maybe. Whatever.
JG: Why was that?
BC: Because they were, it was not as valuable to them as cash money would have been. Didn't have the same value. But they made us--. You know, they--. Teachers came out with a lot of restrictions that my contract said that we could do no night-riding, no card playing, and no dancing. And then they made us live in this hotel that had failed, for the tobacco market had failed and the men who had built the tobacco market--. Who'd built the hotel wanted to make money out of it so they made us live there. And they'd bring live bands there on Saturday, dance bands, on Saturday night, downstairs in our parlors. And I'd have to stay upstairs. And some of them didn't stay up, but if you wanted to keep your job you'd better stay upstairs. Then you had to teach Sunday school the next morning. Sunday morning you had to be there. So those days were not easy days. I have some crochet bedspreads on my twin beds in my bedroom at home and I, when I look at those I think, "Well, these kept me out of mischief." [Laughter] Because I did--. My flying fingers kept busy with that when I had a minute away from grading papers and doing my preparations and all that.
JG: Um-hum. How did you choose math as your major?
BC: Well that, I just--. [Clears throat] It was, it was my most favorite subject. I, I enjoyed it more than the other things that I studied. I enjoyed the sciences, too. Took chemistry when I was a freshman in college and taught chemistry. I know in, in some of those high schools you had to teach chemistry along with your math, or physics, or whatever.
JG: Well there's sort of a stereotype, now at least, that women don't do math and science.
BC: [Laughter]
JG: And they don't like that, and they would rather read or whatever. Did you ever encounter that?
BC: [Laughter] Well, I always enjoyed, you know.
JG: Uh-huh.
BC: These were my favorite things, you know. And I know that, you know, I went to Duke during the summertime. Got my master's degree at Duke. And then during the war years, then Duke wanted me to come back and teach, and I taught at Duke. And I had a Pulitzer, now he's a Pulitzer Prize winner, but this man was in my classes at Duke. And he just wasn't going to--. I said , "All right. (This, darling,) you got to do it, you know this." "I'm going be a, I'm going to write. I'm not going to be using any math." I said, "But this is, war is on now, and you have to." And I said, "And when you get that first book written, don't you forget your old teacher." And he said, "How will I know where to send it to you?" I said, "Well, surely you can remember Lodge, South Carolina, and they would always forward it to me." So bless his heart, he did remember, and I think his letter--. The library had some of them framed, a copy of his letter
JG: Uh-huh.
BC: is right there. And he--. The book that he sent me is one of his Pulitzer Prize winning books. I gave it to the library, didn't take time to read it, and somebody took the book from the library.
JG: Stole it?
BC: So I better had kept it, don't you think? [Laughter] Had better kept it for a little while anyway.
JG: Was it "Sophie's Choice"? Was that the--?
BC: I'm not sure. He probably tells us in the--. Probably "Sophie's Choice". I'm not that sure which book it was. But anyway, I thought for him to remember
JG: Um-hum.
BC: and him to send, keep his promise, you know, was pretty, pretty good. I had some tremendous students though at Duke. I remember I had this big class in this big lecture room down in the building next to the big chapel. And it was on the ground floor, and I always stayed at the front of the room to answer questions and let the students go first if, you know, anybody who needed help, they could come and get help. And so I was the last one to leave, and I was coming out of my room and I noticed as I came out, there the chairman of the math department, Dr. Gergen, big old tall guy, was there with this nice looking lady. And I heard him say, "Now, Miss Percle, do you think you could handle those?" And he was talking about those men that had come out of my class. Some of the men really had trouble, men professors had trouble. But, you know, I, I had no problem with discipline. I don't know why. [Laughter] But it was, it was, it was a fun experience teaching at any level. But I especially enjoyed those Navy officer candidates, those V-12 students at Duke University. It was just a tremendous experience that I had there. And then after the war years I went on to Washington, the Naval Ordnance Laboratory in Washington, and worked with--. I did statistical work there that was used in the special operation. I shouldn't tell that, not even now. But it was in, in the war effort; it was something that was being used in the war effort. And I lived out in Bethesda, Maryland. I had to go to the Navy yard every day. I think I changed the bus three times to get into my place to work. And we worked through Saturdays, five or six days a week. And then I'd get on the same bus system on Sunday morning and go back to hear Peter Marshall preach at the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington. And he was tremendous minister, and I knew, you know, this was something special too. So I felt like I was on seven days a week.
JG: Um-hum.
BC: I don't know why I got off to tell you that. [Laughter]
JG: [Laughter]Yes, that's really interesting. What made you choose Duke to get your master's degree because wasn't that pretty far away from you?
BC: Well now, you see I was--. Let's see now, most of the time I was in Charlotte.
JG: You'd come up from Charlotte.
BC: I think, practically all the time. And it, and it wasn't because I--. Dr. Garinger, I know, employed me. I came to Charlotte for an interview though, I remember that, and it was in an old hotel downtown. No longer is there. On, it was a Sunday afternoon interview. And he wanted me to come that fall, and I said, "But I already have a position, Dr. Garinger." And he said, "I can get you out of that position." [Laughter] He wasn't going to wait another year. And so I came that fall and have never regretted it. I, I think Charlotte's a wonderful place to live.
JG: That was kind of, that was kind of a big promotion to get moved up to Charlotte, wasn't it?
BC: [Laughter] Well, I thought to leave Gaffney. You know, I've been--. I, I know I was able to take music at Limestone College. And I'd always wanted to study, so I did a little brushing up. But after my music teacher left town in little Lodge, South Carolina, I must have been the best student, because the parents asked my mother to let me teach them what I knew, you know.
JG: Um-hum.
BC: And she, after my father's death, when she came to Charlotte to live, she brought me my little book in which I kept, you know, their recital pieces and their money, you know, what they paid me to teach them and all that. And I know that I played the wedding music for the Methodist church. I'm a Baptist. And I played in the Methodist church for this Methodist minister who married one of the very wealthy girls from, mill-owners, from our area. Little Baptist girl playing music in a Methodist church for a Methodist minister's wedding. That was not very usual. [Laughter ]
JG: Well, how did you enjoy your study at Duke?
BC: Oh, I, I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was, you know--. I, I had some very fine professors, and I enjoyed my work there.
JG: Was--? ( )
BC: See I was just doing it in the summertime, and I couldn't take off a whole year to do, to do it.
JG: Was it very different from Coker College?
BC: I wouldn't say so, no. We had good people at Coker, too. One of my professors was a Brown University Ph.D., Dr. Ellen Stokes and. See, I, I, I've had--. You know, grading papers for those two people and teaching a class if they would be absent, that was not the easiest thing in the world to do. [Laughter] I guess they had kept me busy, and then I taught those two people their plane geometry so that one of them, Miss Taylor, got her degree, you know, in the 60s. I'm sure she must have been, and then this junior got her degree the next year after I graduated. So I did my first teaching early.
JG: Um-hum. Were there many women in class with you at Duke?
BC: See, I don't remember. At Duke in the summer, you know.
JG: Um-hum.
BC: I don't re--, you know, re--. I guess the teacher stood out more than the students to me, you know. But we, as I say, were on the men's campus.
JG: Um-hum.
BC: It was not on the women's campus.
JG: Um-hum. So when you--? Now, how, how did you get the job back at Duke, to come back to Duke and teach in 1943?
BC: Those, those men [Laughter] in the math department wanted me, and I'm sure that's the way I got it.
JG: Um-hum.
BC: I don't know why they thought I could do it, but they must have. They did think I could.
JG: Uh-huh. Uh-huh. Were you--?
BC: And I had a good time doing it. I really enjoyed it. I know that, that during that winter I had pneumonia, and, and my doctor [Laughter] said and, and he said, "Did you go to, to class?" It was a horrible day in the winter. I said, "Yes, sir." He said, "I just knew that you were going to be there." And he said, "I could have kicked myself all over Durham for letting you out of that hospital." [Laughter] Oh me. But my work was important to me.
JG: Um-hum.
BC: I, I felt that I needed to be there and I was going to be there, if I could.
JG: Were you the only woman that you knew of teaching the men or were there more professors who were--?
BC: Well, I didn't, don't--. You see, I don't know whether there were any more women teaching on the men's campus or not. I know that I was the only one in the math department on the men's campus, because Miss Percle came back and she was very upset because she wasn't allowed to teach over there. [Bell ringing]
JG: They put her on the women's campus?
BC: She was for the women, taught with women.
JG: Oh.
BC: I guess certain individuals could handle women and certain ones could handle men. I guess those students, you've got to be pretty good to, you know, I don't, I don't blame them. If I'm going to give my time to studying, I want something, I want to be able to get something from it, don't you?
JG: Un-hum. Sure. Now, why did you leave Duke? Because of the next job with the Navy, or--?
BC: Well I, you see, their need for extra help, these extra people there would have passed, was passing, you see. So I went to do a special job and when that, when we took care of that, then, then that was--. There was no need for me to stay any longer.
JG: Um-hum.
BC: And I was glad to come back to my first love, which was teaching in high school.
JG: Um-hum.
BC: They were--. It was a challenging experience. But then we, after the war years, and the university on it's campuses set up those programs in the, in, in, in certain places in the state, and, you know, the biggest one was at our old Central High School. And I was--. I taught in the program and then was made head of the program. In 1949, when the, they felt this emergency was over, they said they'd close the centers June 30, '49. But that was an odd numbered year and the legislature was in session, and we said we weren't about to close. So we went to the legislature and were able to persuade them to let us open a community, a college, a two-year institution. But there still, you know, they had done nothing for the blacks. We were able to get a black counterpart, and Dr. Garinger wanted it called Carver College first, and the blacks didn't like that. That connoted blackness. So they said finally, you know, as we worked along together, they said, "If you can be Charlotte, we want to be Mecklenburg." And so they were called Mecklenburg. I got their name changed when we were going to the voters for something else. You wouldn't go and, you know,
JG: Um-hum.
BC: hit that, because they could have gotten a, "No."
JG: Um-hum.
BC: But if you did it with something else, it had a better chance, so--. And when we were made the fourth campus of the university, Mecklenburg College combined with the industrial education center, which was operated in old Central High, and they made Central Piedmont Community College. And I'm proud of the work they have done in our community. I think it's, it's been a great job and continues to be.
JG: What was it like to work in the Navy, in Washington?
BC: [Laughter] And I was second in command in that.
JG: Oh, really? Wow.
BC: Yes. And I had charge of all the, "Putting to bed." I put that in quotes, the putting away at night the secret materials, top-secret material we were working on. And I had--. The next morning I was responsible for getting them out. And I had this one man I didn't trust. He just was trying so hard, you know, to see what I was doing.
JG: Um-hum.
BC: I shouldn't be telling this, so you're not going to tell it.
JG: OK. [Laughter]
BC: But anyway, we can handle that, all right?
JG: Uh-hum.
BC: But, it was a long trip into--. It was sixty a week. It was hard, but was work that had to be done.
JG: So you were in a co-ed unit? You were in a co-ed unit? There were men and women both serving in your unit?
BC: Well, I don't--. I think there was--. I think I remember one other woman, but I don't remember any others.
JG: Um-hum.
BC: We kept--. I kept up with that person for a long time, but haven't heard from her in recent years, so I don't know.
JG: How did you get the job? How did they tap you for that?
BC: How did I get the job? And I tell you, I don't know that now. [Laughter] I can't remember it. I, I don't think it was anything. It must have been Duke, must have recommended me for it, is what I have an idea.
JG: Uh-hum.
BC: But I don't know. I mean, I did know, I have known, but just this minute I don't recall how that came about. But I have an idea that it was through Duke.
JG: Um-hum. What were your Central High School students like? What were high school students like in Charlotte?
BC: I, well I, you know, I just, I thought we had some really excellent ones. I loved teaching and--. I know that it was one of the best high schools, I think one of the best, in the state. We had some marvelous teachers. I, I didn't want to teach the same thing all day long, like the teachers were doing. One, one of the teachers would teach plane geometry all day long.
JG: Um-hum.
BC: One would teach solid geometry all day long. I said, "Dr. Garinger, I, I just would like to have five different preparations." "Well," he said, "the only way I can do that is to give you a class of basic math along with these others." I said, "That's all right, I can teach that, too." So we, we made it, and I had to change rooms [Laughter] every period you see. I--. If you taught plane geometry, Miss Bertha had room 215. They--. It was so cute, after I went away to the war, so many of them tried to save their rooms for me to teach in when I got back, you know.
JG: [Laughter]
BC: But English, I think, had taken over room 215 by the time Miss--, I got back after Miss Bertha's retirement. But it didn't bother me. I'd take my equipment along and go where I had to go. But I love teaching.
JG: [Laughter] What about your, what about your GI Bill students whenever the night college opened up? What were they like?
BC: Well, I--. We had just some outstanding ones. I, I, I remember we had one man from Concord, Bill Mills, who was, you know, had lost his leg in service. And you know the problems they had, you know. You, if you--. I, you know, just--. There were just people with different problems and you had, you did the best you could to help them to cope with whatever those problems were. [Long pause] Had a letter from Bill Mills's widow in recent months, and she was telling me about one of the grandchildren. You know, they're, they're still contacts that you have with some of these families of the early students. [Pause] The segregation was the thing that bothered me, you know. But, you know, working together, we finally, you know, were able to get those things taken care of too.
JG: So did you personally work for the, the black college as well as for the Charlotte College?
BC: Well, you know, it was, it had to be indirect. I mean I, it was, I was employed
JG: Right.
BC: in Charlotte College.
JG: Um-hum.
BC: but I did what I could for Mecklenburg College too.
JG: Um-hum.
BC: Carver, later called Mecklenburg.
JG: Right, right. Did you work to help get it established when--?
BC: I did. I tried and I, I, I felt they deserved it, and it just was I think an oversight.
JG: Um-hum. How did you get the college to stay open? You said you went to the legislature. I also read somewhere you had a protest? That you led a protest? [Laughter] Is that right?
BC: Say what? What kind of a protest did I have?
JG: Well, what I read is that you marched on city council, here in Charlotte. Is that wrong?
BC: I don't remember that.
JG: Um-hum.
BC: I don't remember that one there.
JG: Don't remember going out into the streets? [Laughter]
BC: No, I don't remember that one now. But what could I have done? Anyway--.
JG: Let's--. I could have misinformation.
BC: Hum?
JG: I could have wrong information. OK, how did you go from being a part-time math teacher at the college to being a director of the college?
BC: Well, I'll tell you how. The, the man who was head the first year, Charlie Bernard, left at the end of the summer. And, and the Dr. Garinger just said, "You have to take over."
JG: Um-hum.
BC: That was your boss, and the boss says you've got to do it, so you do it.
JG: Um-hum. Well, do you have any idea why he decided? Sometimes it's hard for people to move from teaching into administration.
BC: Well, I don't know how he thought I could do it, but he, he thought I could, and I did the best I could do. [Laughter] If he thought I could, you know, if he said, "You know if you jump, you'd try to jump to the moon, or whatever." Dr. Garinger thought you could.
JG: Did, did it have anything to do with your work to keep the college open?
BC: Did it have anything to do--?
JG: In 1949, whenever you went to the legislature to keep the college open, do you think
BC: I don't know.
JG: that had anything to do with it?
BC: I don't know.
JG: Um-hum.
BC: Well, I know after Charlie Bernard left then, you know, Dr. Garinger made me take over. He had me to take over the head--.
JG: Um-hum.
BC: Head the directorship. I think they called me director. I think that's what they called him. Pretty hard name but, it was OK.
JG: Did you ever feel like Charlotte College should just be a two-year college?
BC: No. We weren't about to leave it that way. We didn't, you just had to have a, you know, know--. Greensboro, the nearest senior supported college; it's all for girls and we're serving mainly men. We just, you know, it wasn't this was the most wonderful section of the whole state in here with that public institution, public university or college. Wasn't right. Had to do something about it; do the best we could. We, we stayed open. [Laughter] We kept plugging on.
JG: Do you remember when you got this drive to make sure there was a four-year institution here?
BC: What a minute now. Haven't you asked that? Do you remember?
JG: Do you remember when you became so committed to making sure that there would be a four-year public university here?
BC: I guess that that was--. I think, you know, the commitment was probably there from the start.
JG: Uh-hum.
BC: It was the missing ingredient, I thought, for a great city, I thought, for a great region in the state to be without a public supported institution to take care of its high school and with wonderful high schools. Well-prepared people, you know? It was just the missing ingredient, it was, for a great city, I felt.
JG: Did you have high school students who couldn't go on to college because there wasn't college here?
BC: Well, I'm sure there were.
JG: Uh-hum.
BC: You know, I'm, I'm very sure that was the situation. And you think about it, do you know some of the ones that were served by our institution, they--? One of the early ones who went on to Chapel Hill and graduated with top honors and is now going--. He's now with Duke Power company, and he handles the bond sales in New York for Duke Power. He's still one of my good friends. We, they have me out to their home when scuppernong time comes around. And I think all their, their children came to our school. Smart family. You know? You know, you keep those, those early contacts that, that just continue; those bonds are there. Sometimes they see you out. Someone this morning--. Yes, I guess early this morning, when I--. He was coming to do some work for my neighbor next door, and he saw me and he stopped and, and was, you know, just saying again, you know, how much this school had meant to him. It's very special.
JG: OK, those early twelve years before whenever it was Charlotte College, but before you went through the state approval process to become a university, what was the college like? The early years of Charlotte College?
BC: Well, I, I, I, I, I don't--. I know that, I know we kept doing good solid work, you know. I know that. We, and we had some outstanding teachers, people like Dr. Pier Massey, who was, you know, with his doctorate from the University of Paris, and Edith Winningham who was a woman with, in political science and this is a little different from, you know, Chapel Hill Ph--. Not--. Chapel Hill master's she had. And the Winningham building is named for her. And you had Edith, you had Mary Denny, who gave up her full-time job at Queens College to teach with and worked with us, committed to us, gave us property near Red Springs for a retreat spot for the school. We just had some tremendous people who we were able to find, and I was able to persuade to come work with us.
JG: Um-hum.
BC: Those, those people made, made a real difference.
JG: Uh-hum. And the original campus was up at Central High School?
BC: Well, and the first building we built was at Central High. We saved, oh my gracious, it was hard trying to save a nickel, or a dollar, or thousands of dollars. But, we built the first building. It was back of the auditorium, Central High auditorium. And we had--. We were able to, to get our first daytime classes in because we had to have our own building. And I remember some of the people, you know, the people we were able to employ after we got our first building. Some person in student personnel work who still lives in Charlotte, and a good friend of the institution and mine personally. To, to have daytime classes, and we started there. And then we--. Woody Kennedy, it's the Kennedy building is named for him. Kennedy had somewhat of the same vision I had. He knew we had to have space, and we had to have it accessible to the surrounding area. Some of the rest just wanted to build it for the, for Charlotte.
JG: Uh-hum.
BC: But we felt that we had to be out so the commuters could easily get to the campus, you know. Get in and out. But there was a, an old junior high school building on Morehead. They would have given that to us gladly. It was too little for a junior high, but it'd be all right for us, you know.
JG: [Laughter]
BC: And Dr. Garinger even--. There's a little spot I can still as I go by it on going into it from Colony Road to the Myers Park High School, there was a spot there on that campus that he said, you know, "You can have this, Bonnie." I thought, man, don't you know that's not big enough? [Laughter] But I didn't say that out loud,
JG: [Laughter]
BC: but we didn't accept it. But Woody Kennedy and I kept looking and that, that summer we got teased a little bit and they'd said, "Well, she doesn't want everything in Mecklenburg County. She just wants what's next to what she already has." [Laughter] You know? When we, when we found it, we thought we had found a pretty good spot. And I still think it's, it's nicely situated; it's beautifully situated. And the land we had went. They had to get right-of-way on a little section of I-85. We had all of that land, that, that, all the way over. Now they've let a lot of it go, but they say they've replaced it with land right over this way, on this side.
JG: Uh-hum.
BC: And some day I'm going to say, "Mr. Chancellor, send somebody with me to let me see what we do have. [Laughter] I would like to see what we do now own. [Laughter] I don't know exactly what. I think I know, but I want to be sure I know, right?
JG: Uh-hum.
BC: But I know it's beautiful land, accessible to commuting students, you know. They can come and get in very easily and out easily.
JG: Uh-hum. You've mentioned a couple of times that the college was mostly serving men at that point. Why was it mostly serving men?
BC: It was--. I think, you know, Queens was here, and women did have a chance there. I, I, I don't know any other--. We did have some women in those early days, some women. Not as many as men. I guess it, it started to really to serve those veterans, and most of veterans were men. We had some women veterans, though.
JG: Um-hum. [Pause] Did you think that that was--. Did you think that that was a problem, or that was OK because women could go up to Greensboro or--?
BC: No, I thought we should be coeducational. I mean, I thought we needed to serve both men and women. But you know, we did what we could do
JG: Um-hum.
BC: at the time, and then moved on as we could.
JG: When did it become more coeducational?
BC: Well I, you see, I don't remember that we were ever
JG: Right.
BC: not coeducational, you know. But I, I, I think that the men probably if the, in figures I think would showed that we had, you know, the large portion--.
JG: When was the college desegregated? About?
BC: I don't--. You've got me there.
JG: Not a date, but--. Was it desegregated before it became part of the UNC system?
BC: See, I, I--. Isn't that strange? I don't remember that right at this minute.
JG: Well, that's OK. It's fine.
BC: That should be somewhere.
JG: OK. Right.
BC: I mean, we--. It should be in the information that's available but. In my heart, you know, I would never have denied--. [Laughter]
JG: Um-hum.
BC: But I wouldn't have felt so pushed to get caught up on Mecklenburg if, if, you know, if I, if we had been serving them as I think we should have.
JG: Do you remember desegregation being difficult?
BC: Well, it--. I remember in high school [Laughter], I remember that first black student that came, and I remember how that day he was brought to the front of the building. And we felt if we could get him in that front door, up those steps, in that front door, you know, we had it taken care of. But it was between getting out of the vehicle that he came in and getting into the building. So we knew we could handle it in the building. It was in that interim spot. [Pause] I know one thing. If, if I had been a black, I would've been a bad one. [Laughter] I, I just don't think I would have accepted all this, you know.
JG: Um-hum.
BC: And I think you work with them knowing, you know, your own feelings. Why should they have been treated this way? You know? Why? Why? And yet I know why. [Laughter] You know, I know. You have to, if you're brought up one way, you got to-. It takes time to get a system changed and operating, working. We know why, you know. But I would, I would have been a very bad black, I'm afraid. [Pause] Wouldn't have wanted to accept it.
JG: Do you remember things being tense at the college at all?
BC: [Pause] I don't. I don't remember that.
JG: Well I read about the process for becoming part of the UNC system. It sounded like the labors of Hercules.
BC: Sounded like what?
JG: The labors of Hercules. [Laughter]
BC: [Laughter] Indeed.
JG: What was, what was that like? I know that you had so many different steps you had to go through. Did you--? Were you teaching during that time, or did you just quit and say, "Well I need (to dedicate my time) to the university--?"
BC: No, I, I, I didn't let anything keep me from teaching. [Laughter]
JG: Uh-hum. Um-hum.
BC: Oh, me. I remember, I remember going to Raleigh, and I remember staying in my, in the hotel room so if those men needed me for any questions or any answers or whatever, they could reach me. I remember when the bill passed making this campus, I called my head of the, chairman of my board first and then I tried to get my office. And then when I got it, they said, "Listen, Miss Cone. The bell is ringing, once for each member of the delegation and twice for you!" [Laughter] And I couldn't say anything then. I can hardly tell it now [Laughter] because I get a lump in my throat, you know. But those weren't the easiest of days, but, but it was something that was right. It had to be.
JG: Why did you--?
BC: And we weren't going to give up! [Laughter]
JG: [Laughter] Why did you feel like it was so important?
BC: Hum?
JG: Why was it so important?
BC: That we become a campus of the university?
JG: Um-hum.
BC: We, we wanted to be able to serve very well indeed the people in this wonderful area of the state, and they had not been served. And we weren't going to give up. We had made a beginning, and we felt this--. We weren't going to be, this was not going to be terminated at that point. But we just had to keep on and do a better job than we had been doing. Doing the very best we could. Then we looked for land and looked for land, and Woody Kennedy was so tremendous. When we found this, we just thought--. We, we had, we bought one of the sites is on to the, on to the left if you face out. There's a house on it. And it already had the house on it. And the man, the family who lives in there, the man is the head of heating and air-conditioning. Looks after the campus.
JG: Um-hum.
BC: And I think well now, you know, we, we had to buy the house to get the land, [Laughter] but it serves really a wonderful purpose now.
JG: And you became the acting chancellor whenever the campus was established, while you were looking for a permanent chancellor?
BC: Yeah. Um-hum.
JG: Why didn't you ever just become the chancellor?
BC: I think maybe it was because I was a woman. [Laughter]
JG: Really?
BC: I'm not sure. I've never said that before, but--. We did find a man, and Dr. Colvard came as--. He had formerly taught at NC State, and he came as our first chancellor.
JG: Um-hum. Did you enjoy being the acting chancellor?
BC: Well, now, you know, if you love hard work, and I do. You know, we were doing things we felt were worthwhile. And. So you didn't say, "What am I? Who am I?" You just said, "I have a job to do."
JG: Right. Right.
BC: And went ahead and did that job the very best you could. But in those early years, you know, we--, I worked with the architects and the builders.
JG: Um-hum.
BC: I heard the other day--. [Clears throat] I had a little note from one of those first architects, Leslie Boney. He had written Dr. Colvard. Somebody in the Asheville area, where Boney lives, had gotten a Colvard scholarship, and so Leslie Boney, the first builder, one of our first architects, wrote Dr. Colvard a note. And then he sent me a copy of it, because he talked about me in the letter, you know. And he said he remembered that it was through my effort that we got the first air-conditioned building on a state campus. [Laughter] And it's one of the residence halls; it's the first residence hall. Can you imagine this big old ten or twelve story building in a hot summer day without any air-conditioning? And the heat rises and those upper people, they would have just been cooked. You know that. And. But I was very persistent when I knew that I was right, you know. I wouldn't give up easily. [Laughter]
JG: Sure.
BC: And. But Leslie remembered that with--. We, we, we--. I worked with all the architects and the builders very closely. Didn't have anybody else. So it was a learning experience, but it was a fun experience too.
JG: [Pause] So, when you, when you didn't become the chancellor, was there a board of trustees or something that said you should be acting chancellor and look for some one else, or who made that decision?
BC: I don't re--. I don't remember those details.
JG: Right. Right. I just wondered why you said you felt it might have been because you're a woman?
BC: I didn't say that.
JG: [Laughter]
BC: See, we, we just cancelled that. Well, you know, I think that they expected women, you know, didn't do very much in those days. We're too frail and fragile and all that sort of thing, you know.
JG: Although they should have figured you out by that point. [Laughter]
BC: [Laughter] Oh, me! And you know, it could've--. You know, they could have had in mind, you know, somebody they wanted to be. You know, people function different ways.
JG: Uh-hum.
BC: But I was not working for a position for me. I was working to find, to provide an institution of learning for the people who lived in this wonderful region of the state. And we, I think we accomplished what we set out to do.
JG: Um-hum.
BC: I didn't have to have a job. I had other things to do.
JG: Sure. And then--. Sorry, go ahead. Were you going to say something?
BC: No. I started to say and still just have a lot of exciting things to do.
JG: Uh-huh. What sorts of things?
BC: Well, when you, you know, you--. Well I just think that some of the students who still come by and need a little help, whatever. You know, just, and an alum who comes by and, or writes you and you need to write to that person. You need to respond to that person. There, there are all those wonderful contacts that you still have, you know, with students, with ones who are here, with alums, some of the faculty who have--. And things that they need to discuss with somebody, need to work with somebody about. So, I still have fun.
JG: Now, whenever you retired from working at the UNCC Foundation, it was because there was a mandatory retirement age?
BC: There was what?
JG: There was a mandatory retirement age at age seventy. Is that right?
BC: I don't remember that. [Laughter]
JG: Oh really? OK.
BC: Well, you know--.
JG: Sure. I was just going to ask you how you felt about mandatory retirement ages, because obviously you still have an office. [Laughter]
BC: I, you know, when you talk about retiring, I'm not sure I have yet, [Laughter] because I still work for the university. [Pause] And this can't, you can't put in your piece now. Can I tell you? You know, just--.
JG: Do you want me to pause it?
BC: I'd just as soon not, not publicize this,
JG: Sure.
BC: but this is just for you. [RECORDING INTERRPUTED] [RECORDING RESUMED]
BC: Person who used to work with me before she was ever married, for 1.8 million dollars. And they would name this building on campus, this one over on this side of the campus that was done by a woman architect. Now I don't know if it would have been any better if it a man had done it but--. [Laughter] But anyway, it's a trifle looking building and she, she said to me, she said, "I couldn't care less who they name that building for. I wouldn't have it named for anybody I know." I said, "Oh my goodness sakes alive." And so I asked the chancellor for permission to go and talk to her. I thought, you know, "We're going for the doctoral programs, and we're going to need money to attract, grants, to attract these better candidates and support them." I knew we need that so, I asked him if I, you know, I said, "We're not going to get it to name a building. [Laughter] You're not going to get it for that purpose. She doesn't want any building's name." And so he let me do it, and I invited her to have a hot dog with me at this drug store on Providence Road one Saturday morning. I didn't know they had them except Saturday. They have them everyday in the week. But anyway, I got there early and I sat close to where I always had. You know? Right near the counter where it was served. And she said, came in and she said, "Bonnie, you didn't even get us a booth?" And I said, "Lucille, I didn't even know they had booths." [Laughter] But I thought we were right here where they serve them up, that was a pretty good spot, and so I just settled that, you know. We didn't, we didn't move; we just stayed there. But, you know, she's committed the 1.8 million, and she's already sent 500,000 dollars towards the gift. And we already have--. I, when I was at the chancellor's home in recent months, there was student who came to me and spoke to me and said, "You know, I'm--. I have one of the grants. I'm one of the doctoral candidates. And I wouldn't be here if I hadn't gotten this grant. I couldn't have come." And I thought, well, I couldn't wait to call Lucille the next morning and say, "I've met [Laughter] the first." And we had her, Dr. Witherspoon and I had her out to lunch one day at this Speedway Club.
JG: Um-hum.
BC: Near the campus. And she got a chance, they got a chance to meet each other, you know. The donor and the recipient. And it was, it was just, these are fun things to do, you know?
JG: Um-hum.
BC: To see the institution, you know, fulfill its mission. To see it affect the lives of people, as it is and will continue to do that, you know.
JG: Um-hum.
BC: So it's still fun.
JG: [Laughter] Well, what, what has meant the most to you?
BC: What was that?
JG: What has meant the most to you?
BC: Well, I know, I know seeing, you know, the institution come into its being and serve the people that you knew it, that were here to be served. I, I think that surely is the thing that means the most to me. And to see what they do with their lives. My gracious, this neurosurgeon who had been at, let's see, Duke, University of Alabama at Birmingham, at other, you know, medical centers to accomplishing some of the tremendous things that he did with his life and he died in just recent, very recent years. Dr. Stephen Mahaley. And too, you know, there are just others who, who have, you know, that you have kept up with, that they kept up with us, you know, and they let you know what they're do--, doing with their lives. It's just thrilling to, to, to see them out in the field,
JG: Um-hum.
BC: doing their, their work.
JG: Um-hum.
BC: Maybe in the field of teaching, it may be in medicine, it may be in engineering. We've got them in all those different places.
JG: Um-hum.
BC: The new head, the head, the new head, he's not new head now, of Lance. [Laughter] Can't even say his name right this minute. But anyway, I know that--. You know, they don't forget the institution and what it's meant to them, what it continues to mean to them. And I think that's, that's tremendous. You would hate for any of your alums--. I, I, I would hate for any of them to fail to remember, you know, where did they get their start?
JG: Um-hum.
BC: They need to do it more than we need to receive it I think. So we still have some exciting young people out there.
JG: I noticed in the article that Vivian Fogle wrote recently, in the UNCC magazine.
BC: Yes.
JG: Whenever she talked to people that you had mentored, and they spoke about you, almost every single one of them said that you were like a mother and that, you know, that not only were you a teacher, but you were also sort of a mother figure for them, too. A lot of them said that. [Laughter] that. I wondered if, if you felt that your relationships with some, with students was, was different in some ways because you're a woman.
BC: I don't, I don't know. I don't know. Well I, I guess if, you know, if seeing a need and trying to find a way to meet a need is that, you know, a mother instinct. But, you know, that's what I would try to do, if--. Whether it's, you know, for a student, or for a faculty person.
JG: Um-hum.
BC: You can't see needs, and--. I mean, I can't, and not feel, you know, and not try if there's something you feel you could do something about to help meet that need, you'd want to do it. I think.
JG: [Pause] Do you feel like you've been an inspiration for a lot of people? Or a role model?
BC: I don't know. [Laughter] I don't know. I think they could find somebody better. [Laughter] Anyway. [Pause] Anyway. [Long pause] Anyway, what can we say now? [Laughter]
JG: Well, I did want to ask you, after, during the war years, after you had gone to Duke and, and taught there, and then gone up to Washington and had all those exciting experiences, what was it like to come back down here to teach high school?
BC: Heavenly. [Laughter]
JG: Really?
BC: It was wonderful to come home, you know.
JG: Um-hum.
BC: I really, you know, I try to make the best of where--. I try to do it, you know wherever I am.
JG: Um-hum.
BC: And I do, you know, do that. But then it was good to get home again. It was good to get back to, to this field.
JG: Um-hum. Do you feel like your true love is, is teaching at the college level?
BC: Well, I mean teaching, period. [Laughter] You know? Because I started teaching, you know, in public schools in high school, and I loved teaching there. I, you know, just remember all those wonderful experiences and some of the students, particular students, that you taught, taught during the wa--, days. And the boy who was Daniel C. Roper's great nephew who'd have to--. I was his homeroom teacher so they sent all the discipline problems to you. And he'd come in my room. He'd start- my, my door to my room was way back here, and my desk was way up there- and he'd started begging, "Now, don't, don't talk to me, Miss Cone, don't talk to me. Just beat me, beat me, beat me." I said, "Hunter, I never beat anybody in my life. What in the world would I want--?" "But don't talk to me! Don't talk to me!" He couldn't stand for you to talk with him and reason with him about what he had done, you know. And, well, anyway. And you know, you know that he's gone. He's not in the world now, because you would hear from him every Christmas. [Laughter] And then he's not anymore. So, so Hunter--. But, you know, there are certain ones that you, from high school days, from college days, that you, you, you just know. They keep up with you.
JG: Um-hum.
BC: And it's kind of fun. The--. One of our, you know, one of our own UNCC graduates worked in the governor's office, and now his governor is not governor anymore. [Laughter] Now he's going to, he kept telling us that he was going to go to Washington and he was going to do this and this. Well he's, he's trying now to get his next steps in line, you know, to do these things. And it's fun to--. They keep their contacts, and
JG: Um-hum.
BC: you listen, mostly. But it, it's, it's interesting. The institution has meant a lot, the university has meant a lot, and its predecessor institutions have meant a lot to a lot of people in, in, in this area. And they don't, somehow they don't forget it.
JG: [Pause] Whenever you--. Let me ask you also, whenever you first started teaching in South Carolina--.
BC: Um-hum.
JG: You told me about the conditions for teachers having to live in defunct hotels [Laughter] and not getting paid very much. What, what were the schools like, too? Did you have enough material and enough support? Was it harder to teach back then or--?
BC: Well, you know, it was, it was harder. The--. I think the, where I taught, you know, to think they could regulate the lives of people who were employed to teach, you know? You, you had to--. No, no, no night riding, no card playing, no dancing. Now, you know, who is to--? And then made you live in this setting that--. Golly! That was--. They would come and their live bands and dance the night away, and here--. Now you know that was expecting a lot. I thought that was--. It's not that I was a dancer, or a nightrider, or a card player, or whatever. They just said we couldn't do. But I don't, I just thought, if you're old enough to be out there, if you were able to be out there to teach their children, why should they tell you how to handle your private life, you know? I didn't think much of that. And then I remember the fire that destroyed the hotel and all of our spring clothes, you know, that we'd just been saving so hard to have. And, but didn't, we didn't lose a life. So we did lose, some--. One of the faculty members, after we'd lost in bank failures, wouldn't put her money in the bank anymore, and she lost money that she had, just real money, you know, in the--. It was lost in the fire. But. But, I love people and I love teaching and so. That, that was the more important thing than the problems that you had to find a way to solve. Or try to find a way to solve. Sunday school teaching. Oh, and I, and I, I remember the home--. You know, we had to live in homes at first too, and it was hard. I don't know--. I just think that, that in this day it wouldn't, couldn't, you couldn't have had all those restrictions, those regulations. It just wouldn't have, couldn't have flown even for a little while. But I, I love teaching and I, I, I've, I've found challenging situations in every place that I've, I've, I did work. I had two reunions, fiftieth anniversary reunions, for former students this last spring. One was in Gaffney, South Carolina, the place I taught before I came to Charlotte, and one was at old Central High in Charlotte. And I went to Central High. I had to choose.
JG: Um-hum.
BC: I said, "Well, now, you know I've been with these people longer. I didn't get to--. I didn't work there very long, so, and so I will know these folks better, you know." But I was--. They made the teachers sit together that night at the reunion and there were just, just a handful of us there. Most not have been not even a table full. Like eight people. I don't think there were eight of us there. And I couldn't understand why we hadn't, hadn't attended in (very)--. I think there were a lot more people living there.
JG: Um-hum.
BC: But anyway, they put us all together. Would rather have been sitting with the students. But then Sunday afternoon, after this was on Saturday night, I had a call from this minister, Methodist minister, Edgar H. Nease, N-E-A-S-E. And he didn't get to talk with me that night, and he said, "I just have got to--. Is it alright if we talk now?" [Laughter] I thought, "Well isn't this great?" We didn't all the little visits in that we meant to get in last night.
JG: Um-hum.
BC: So we had a nice little chat. Big Methodist minister now, and he was one of my old Central High School boys from fifty years before. That was fun. You know, catching up? Some catching up.
JG: Um-hum. [Pause] Is there anything else you want to tell me about?
BC: [Laughter]
JG: I'm sure you can tell me more about the university.
BC: Well, this, this, [Pause] this, this, this in--, this university, I think, is just still an exciting place to be. And I think it's just serving beautifully the people in this area of the state. And I, we're expanding our program of services, as we've said, and trying to meet the needs of the people who, who really should be served by us. And we have, still have, we still have and are getting very fine teachers. I was at a, recently at a retirement celebration for one of our deans, the dean of the college of business administration is retiring from dean-ing and is going in, back into teaching.
JG: Um-hum.
BC: And it was, it was a fun time to be there and hear people express appreciation and, and to see one who's served us so well being honored in that way. So you get these things that come along the way all the time. [Pause] I, I, I live very close to, to one of the men in education who's a great teacher too, Dr. Morgan. He has three sons, all Eagle Scouts. They're way up now, you know. They are out. One's back doing his finishing. He was one who had to go in the service before he got into his education, so the oldest in that family is just now finishing his degree with us, and I'm proud of that, proud to see that happen.
JG: Um-hum.
BC: It's been interesting to, to, you know, to watch this, some men who are getting, some of my men who are getting close to retirement, and I just can hardly stand to see them retire, you know, I think. Dr. Jamgotch in political science, the Soviet specialist, you know. We've been good friends through the years. He, he, he expects to retire at the end of the year. And Dr. Witherspoon, I know, in religion studies, down the hall, neighbor, down the street, neighbor. I know he's not going to be teaching very much longer.
JG: Um-hum.
BC: He expects to retire pretty soon and I think I can't believe all my men, my men, [Laughter] are retiring here. It's not time." [Laughter]
JG: When you say, "my men," do you mean people you brought in?
BC: Yeah.
JG: Uh-huh.
BC: Yeah. These are mine. [Laughter] I found them.
JG: Um-hum.
BC: And it's interesting, you know, how, you know, you can remember the situations and the problems that you, you had to get solutions for in order to be able to, to get answers for those questions, [Clears throat] before you could, you could get them here. And, and to see how things worked out. It can make you feel very good.
JG: Um-hum.
BC: Edith Winningham was one of those early people we were able to get in political science and she, we hope she's still living, we don't know really. Her daughter doesn't let you know much about her. She's in a, in a retirement home in Atlanta. But I thought that the daughter was closing up her mother's home in recent months and she called me and she said, "Some things here I don't know what to do with." And I said, "Well, can I help you?" And she said, "Well, what do I do with mother's cap, gown and hood?" I said, "We want it at the university. [Laughter] We want it at the university." [Laughter] "What will I do with X-Y-Z?" And I said, "Well, I want that. Those, I think those are some of my pots and vases. I can use them. You know, as I take groceries to other people and plant stuff, so I could use some of those." And [Clears throat] so as soon as she brought me the cap, gown and hood, I took it over to the chancellor's office and left it with a little note, you know, and told his secretary. And he wrote one of the most beautiful letters to her. [Clears throat] And I just hope Edith was able to take in what was said, you know? But, little, there's little, the little joys that you get along the way just, just a little thing like a letter from the chancellor to an old per--, colleague who helped to build the institution, you know.
JG: Um-hum.
BC: That means a lot. And he does--. Chancellor Woodward is tremendous at doing that sort of thing. [Clears throat] [Pause] I can't think of anything else that I'm missing. You have to ask me if you have something else.
JG: Well, I know, being from this area, I've seen your name in the paper a million times. "Founding Mother of UNCC." And, and I wondered how you felt about all the publicity that you've gotten or--. You know, you're a very important person in the Charlotte community. How does that make you feel?
BC: Well, I just feel like it's the institution that they're not talking about me, so--. [Laughter] You know. Well I, you know, that's that's exactly the way I feel. You know, that this is not really about me; it's the institution. What I've done it's just my little bit that I could do. But it's been fun, and it's been fun working with those students and watching them do their, you know, develop and do their thing. It's been watching the faculty and accomplish the things that you felt they could do, and sometimes even more. [Clears throat] We, we've had some tremendous, I think very faithful and dedicated faculty folks. And if we hadn't, we wouldn't have made it, [Laughter] you know. And I'm glad we have a Vivian. You know we didn't for a long time have a person in that spot but, you know, she--. Ken Sanford. I found Ken Sanford. I didn't--. Vivian came a little later than my date. But Ken is one of mine. I found and persuaded him to come, and I don't think he's ever regretted it. No. Yeah, I think he does a good job for us. [Clears throat] And he, I think he goes beyond his job to, to serve in the community. [Clears throat] [Pause] So. Anything else you think of now?
JG: Well, I asked you an awful lot of questions.
BC: What? What was your question now?
JG: Hum? I said I asked you an awful lot of questions. [Laughter]
BC: That's all right. That's the only wa--. You know, that helps to help us get the answers. We'll try. [Clears throat]
JG: [Laughter] Well. [Pause] Do you feel like you could have accomplished all the things you've accomplished in your life, say, if you had had children to look after? If you'd had a family?
BC: Let's see, now how did you say that? Do you think I could've done these things if I--?
JG: All this work for the university if you'd had?
BC: Well I tell you, you know, after my father's death, my mother came to Charlotte and lived. So I did have my mother with me in those early years. And she, you know, made life really, it was a responsibility. But it was also, she was doing things for me, you know.
JG: Um-hum.
BC: She felt, you know, that she wanted me to have something to pick me up and food when I got home at night, you know. She wanted to do those things for me. And she was doing things for neighbors and that sort of thing. So it was, it was--. I thought she did fit in remarkably well. [Clears throat]
JG: Um-hum.
BC: I thought it was, right--. I kept my church membership, for example, down home in the old country church, because I was the only single member of my family. The others had moved away.
JG: Um-hum.
BC: And I just thought it was nice to be there with Mom and Dad, and so.
JG: Um-hum.
BC: First I tink, first, second week she was here, she said, "I'm moving my membership to Myers Park Baptist tomorrow. Will you come with me?" [Laughter] Now that was a shocker. [Laughter] But she loved our church, and she was a member of the women's missionary's group, and I never have been able to be that because I've had other business to perform. I was--. I have been a deacon at the church, and I was chairman of the board, only woman who was of chairman of the board of deacons at Myers Park Baptist, you know. [Laughter] I've done those things, but she was a tremendous help and a lot of fun to watch fit into the community. But I wished I had--. We'd look for places on Sunday or Saturday afternoons, whenever we were riding around, we'd try to find us a place where we could build something, you know. But we didn't get it done when she was here, living. Wished it could have, but there was so much that had to be done here, I didn't get a chance to build my house, that, that quickly. But I can hear the carillon play early in the morning. The carillon plays on the campus. My house is just right across there. [Pause] Yeah. So. It's fun living in the area
JG: Um-hum.
BC: so that you can get back to campus and do the things. I can get a lot more accomplished here than I can at home because people stop in, you know just. They wouldn't do it here, because they know what you're here for. [Laughter] But when you're home, they think you're there just to play hooky. [Laughter] I guess. I guess that's what they think. But. Trying to--. I still, I know they, they wanted to have those students who have scholarships named for me, they wanted them over to my home for a meal. And I've always prepared the meals, you know, but this time they wanted to bring food from campus and I thought, well, I, you know, I can't take away what they planned to do now, you know. This is not right." [Laughter] So I let them do it, and this has happened in recent months. They wanted to bring those students over for a meal at my home. Well, the university serves all the meals that are served at the chancellor's home, and yet I've never allowed that to be done. You know, I've always felt I had to cook them. I had to--. [Laughter] I used to have seniors for Sunday night suppers at my house in the olden days. And one lady who goes to the same beauty parlor I go to says her son still has some of my recipes that he enjoys using. [Laughter] You know, we just. They had a chance to talk about the things that were a concern to them and it, it was just a fun type time for us.
JG: Well, I'll tell you what. I'm out of questions.
BC: Good. Well, all right! [Laughter] If I've answered your questions then I'm glad.
JG: You sure have.
BC: And I can't think of anything else that we're missing out on. I think you got it.
JG: OK.
BC: But if you do, if something comes to mind and you want to call me, you know my numbers.
JG: Sure.
BC: And you're perfectly welcome to.
JG: OK.
BC: I'll do my best.
JG: I appreciate having you--.
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