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Interview with Belle Banks

Banks, Belle
Desmarais, Melinda H.
Date of Interview: 
Cedar Grove; Southern States - Social Conditions; Tenant farming; Gender roles; Southern etiquette; World War II; Domestics; Ghost stories; Family
Margaret Belle Banks was born in Coatesville, PA on August 1st, 1918. In this interview with Melinda Desmarais, Mrs. Banks reminisces about her past and describes working in a shipbuilding factory during World War II surrounded by a largely male workforce. Mrs. Banks, who is originally from the North, discusses how she assimilated to the Southern culture of Charlotte, after marrying her husband Richard, a native Charlottean. She talks about the Southern etiquette especially relating to the differences in gender roles in comparison to the North. Mrs. Banks also talks about Cedar Grove, the Torrance family plantation house which she and Richard refurbished and lived in throughout their married life.
Charlotte; 1920s-2002
Interview Setting: 
Interviewed at her home, Cedar Grove, Huntersville, NC
War Reminiscences
Collection Description: 
This interview was conducted for the Oral History Program, J. Murrey Atkins Library, UNCC
Interview Audio: 
MD (Melinda Desmarais): Today is Friday, January 25th. The year is 2002, and my name is Melinda Desmarais. I'm an interviewer with the Special Collections Department at UNC Charlotte's Atkins Library. And I am here at the home of Ms. Belle Banks in Huntersville, North Carolina. And I'm here today to conduct an interview for the Digital Sound Archives Initiative at Atkins Library, UNC Charlotte. Ms. Banks, would you please state your full name for me?
BB (Belle Banks): My name is Margaret Belle. My maiden name is Pierce, and my married name is Banks. Margaret Belle Pierce Banks.
MD: And how do you spell Pierce?
BB: P-I-E-R-C-E.
MD: And, Ms. Banks, tell me the date of birth.
BB: I was born August the first, 1918.
MD: And where were you born?
BB: I was born in a steel town in Pennsylvania called Coatesville.
MD: Coatesville, Pennsylvania.
BB: That's correct.
MD: Tell me a little bit, if you will, Ms. Banks, about your parents. What were there names?
BB: My mother was Scotch--, was a Scottish woman. Her name was Mary Donaldson, and she married my father in, in Baltimore, Maryland. He was a streetcar conductor, and he had a, he, his father had two grocery stores in Coatesville. So after their marriage, my mother and father came back to Coatesville, and my father managed one of my grandfather's grocery stores.
MD: What were your parents' names?
BB: My, my mother's name was Mary Donaldson, and, of course, she married my father who was Sherman Leslie Pierce.
MD: And did you continue to live in Coatesville?
BB: I was born and raised in Coatesville and didn't leave Coatesville until I was about eighteen years old, when I went to Florida to work as a waitress with some, some friends. We thought this was a great adventure, and we had a great time. And then I came back and went to work in the, as most of the people did in our community, at the steel plant. And when World War II came along, the job opportunities were so much better in large communities, in large cities, that I went to Wilmington, Delaware and worked in a big shipyard as a coordinator, which meant that we helped to speed to along the building of ships for the war effort.
MD: Gosh, what were those experiences like with these better opportunities and, and--?
BB: Well, it was the first time I really made any real money because women have been notoriously underpaid forever, but I made very good money there. And of course that's that main reason I did it. And I made some very good friends. One of my dear friends was a school teacher. Another one was a religious coordinator who worked with young people. We had a great time together. It was a brand new experience for all three of us. And but it was a, it was an interesting experience working during those wartime days. The whole climate was so strange: dear friends were killed and it was--. I don't think there are too many of us surviving now who lived through the whole World War II scene. It was very scary. And when I worked down in Florida as a waitress, I didn't realize at the time being just a young girl, but the Jewish people who had a lot of money stayed at the hotel where I worked. It was a very, very big social scale hotel, and these very wealthy Jews who escaped the concentration camps lived there and they had these huge diamond rings on their hands and, and they were, they were very unattractive people for the most part. They were very assertive and big mouthed and-- a good way I can say it. But anyway this was all a very interesting experience for a young girl such as I was.
MD: When you were in the work force in Delaware were--? How were you treated as a woman being in what was traditionally a man's job?
BB: Well actually I was sort of young, and cute and these big old burly men made a pet of me. They were very helpful to me, and there was never any contempt. The, one of the principal forces on the dock were the- I can't remember the name of it- but they were the ones who, who foresaw the building of the ships. And they were so good to me, of course, this gave the other ones the idea that this lady was to be respected. And so, and we were always treated as ladies. It was--. If anyone cursed in front of us, one of the other men would, would shut them down. And these were men who were not kids. They were adult, mature men, and they, they were great to me and great to my girlfriends. We, we enjoyed the experience, and occasionally there was a great deal of malingering during that period, and we used to kid about the West Virginia guys who would go down under deck and play cards or play guitar and sing rather than work. But of course when you're building a ship you can, there were times like that where you didn't have anything to do. You had to wait for the next group to be able to get in and do what you needed to do to help in building of the ship, so it was all very interesting. And one of the most interesting experiences I ever had: we were building ships for the French. And the French Navy came in near the end because they were going to take the ship. And of course I had a smattering of French because I had it in high school, two years of French. Well this little French sailor came down where I was in a, in a compartment, and he started trying to talk to me in French. And I kept trying to tell him how much I loved the language, and he thought that I was telling him that I loved him and so he grabbed me and kissed me [laughter] and I came out of that compartment very fast. [laughter]
MD: Now did you and your, your girlfriends that you were working with, did you all live in an apartment sort of on your own--?
BB: Oh no, I lived with my family.
BB: When I moved to Delaware, my family moved over there too. My sister was already working for DuPont. She was a cost edit--, estimator with DuPont and a very smart girl and she was making really good money. And when I found my job, the whole family moved over there.
MD: And what, tell me exactly, just briefly, what your job entailed. What was your daily--?
BB: Well my job was to see that sequences were followed. In other words, when you're building a vessel, the first thing that had to be done was the basic foundation of the, of the ship itself and after that was completed they did what the called outfitting. That meant building toilets, kitchens, sleeping areas, and I saw that these things were done in sequence so that the work did not overlap. And I worked from blueprints, which my father had taught me how to read because he was a draftsman, and so this gave me the qualifications to do this kind of work. And it was very interesting and quite well paying.
MD: Now when the war ended was there a sense that "Oh I, I'm not going to be able to work in this position anymore" or was there a sense that women could continue. What was your personal experience?
BB: Well what happened, of course, the war started winding down and the need for ships diminished. Consequently I lost my job, and having a background in, in restaurants and waiting, I was able to get a job immediately as a service captain at the DuPont Hotel dining room and what they called the- I can't remember the name of the room- but it was the room where they served dinner. And the fact--, a captain meant that I supervised the waitresses and, and saw that the guests were seated correctly so that service continued without any girl being overwhelmed with, with the customers. Of course that happened sometimes; we couldn't help it. But, and from that I went on to work as an assistant to the hotel superintendent, the man who, who ran the hotel, and he was a dear man, he was Mr. Taylor. And he saw me as a, a nice young woman and at that time my husband was overseas and he helped me. Dick wanted to call me from Switzerland, and he set it up so that I had utter privacy, and it was just a, the transition to me was very good. The fact that I had this background as a waitress prepared me for stepping into, you know, succeeding elevations of the job, so it was all, all very interesting and I enjoyed it.
MD: Now I'd like to sort of jump ahead and we'll come back to your subsequent marriage of Mr. Banks and that sort of thing, but I'd like to just kind of turn our topics to move several years forward just to talk generally about what you know about Cedar Grove, the house that you and your husband restored and that you are currently residing in. I'd like to know if you just know any family stories or early kind of knowledge of the building of the house or the family. Just some any, any, anything like that that you might be able to share with us. We know from the architectural standpoint, from the general history about the house, how it came to be on, with James Torrance and John Richard and Eliza and others, but, you know, I've just been interested in if you know any sort of family lore or stories about the early, early years of the house.
BB: Well, when Dick wanted to move up here there was no electricity and no, no plumbing, no heat and the, the room, and the house, the whole house was very dirty because it had been lived by tenants for many years preceding our deciding to come up here. But Dick always loved this house, and he really wanted us to come. And when I first came up here I, I, I couldn't believe my eyes. It was so dirty. The fireplaces were heaped with accumulative filth, and the wallpaper was hanging in strings in the dining room and out in the hall. And we didn't have any money, and I thought how in the world can we ever move up here. But Dick would come up here on weekends when he wasn't working and clean the place to the point where we could at least try to find a way to come in. We were able to sell some timber which gave us a little nest egg to put in plumbing and, and electricity, but we did not have the money for a furnace so, but we came in here with, with a bathroom and with the, with the electricity so that we could see, but we did not have any furnace which meant it was a very, very cold first winter up here. Dick would cut wood before he went to work and I would try to keep enough of the fireplaces going to keep us half-way warm. And, but it was a pretty hard those early years. We did almost all the work ourselves. We did, as I say, we had no money after we spent the, what money we did have for electrical and for plumbing, and we would paint and I--. One day--. We would just kind of live from room to room. As we get one room finished, we'd live in it and then go on to the next room. And I remember one day I had this little two and half year old daughter, and when children are quiet you want to really be careful. And I came in here and she had taken the blue paint that I was putting on this living room and painted part of the bed blue. So [laughter] so this was pretty discouraging. But now as far as, as family stories are concerned, I'm sure you are aware that an old house like this always gathers stories of being haunted. And this house has many stories of being haunted. For instance, there's the old story that there's a little black slave in, in one of these pillars in the back. Said he was put in the pillar and then it was bricked up around him. Well, I know enough from history that slaves were very valuable; they, they some, a good male slave cost as much as 900 hundred dollars which is an awful lot of money. So slaves by in large were not abused unless there was some crazy guy like there is in society today. But by in large slaves were treated OK. They were of course treated as slaves, but they were not abused for the most part from what I am able to learn. Then we had the story of Dick's Uncle John who was a veteran of the Civil War who was supposedly, stood up in the, in the window up here on above this back living room, in his full uniform and would call his dogs. And there are reports that people passing the house had, had seen him up there. And then there was a story of Mr. Lynn Beard was one of the gentlemen who lived in this area, and lived in this house. And he was a, he was a farmer and they used to do it on shares back in this day and time.
MD: So when you said tenants were living in the house is that what you were referring to? The tenant farming?
BB: Yeah, they were. Tenant farmers, and Mr. Lynn Beard he was convinced that house was haunted. He would, he would say that when he was sleeping at night something would pull the cover from off him, and he would see rocking chairs rocking, and he said doors wouldn't stay closed and [Pause] let's see what else I can think of. Oh, there's an old story that a couple of men came to visit us some years ago and said that they had heard that gold was buried in the basement, and Dick and I thought if well if there's any gold down there we sure would have found it and we could have certainly used it, and then the, the, there as the story about the store over here--.
MD: Uh-huh, the Torrance Store.
BB: The store where a woman is supposedly had been killed and there's a flickering light that is always visible at night, and of course most of these stories have perfectly rational explanations. Like I noticed the doors don't want to stay closed, it's just, it has nothing to do with ghosts. It's simply a matter of the construction of the door the way it hangs on it's, in its frame. But there are a lot of interesting stories, and of course when I came down here many of Dick's elderly relatives were still alive, and they would tell us stories about Christmas especially where they said they would get things like pig bladders to blow up and balloons. And they would get a piece of fruit, an orange, and perhaps some candy, and this was their Christmas. And there was no such think as Christmas trees. They would perhaps have a few branches of greens around, but I brought a lot of Yankee customs down here because I, that's what I was, a Yankee woman. So but it was you know, quite a transition for me from living in the city all my life to come to a big place like this that was overrun with little mice and, and, and spiders and bugs. When I first moved up here I spent most of my time in tears because I didn't know how to deal with all of this, and I don't know how much more you want me to say. [laughter] I'll talk forever.
MD: Well let me ask you a couple of things.
MD: Let me ask you when you did come to Charlotte, when you married Mr. Banks and you came to Charlotte how--? Had he talked to you about the house and in the past, you know? Tell me a little bit about his ideas growing up as a child. You know, he didn't live in the house did he as a child?
BB: No, no his, his grandfather Richard Allison moved the family down to Charlotte when his mother and aunts were young girls. And so he only came up here visiting and he, his, he just knew that his mother, see, was willed this house. The whole, all the brothers and sisters--. See it was a very large plantation. In its beginning it was a 3,000-acre plantation, which I'm sure you know, and there were several of these children. And when the will was read they, they put out little pieces of paper and put it in a hat, and Dick's mother drew the lot, the piece of paper with this house, and I think a couple of hundred acres of land to go with it.
MD: So I've heard that story, it really is true that they drew--?
BB: They drew out of hat, and Dick's mother of course got this, and Dick had a brother and his mother had two, two properties. She had this property plus a property in, in Asheville of her husband's. And Henry got that, and Dick got this house and of course it was a sort of a mixed blessing when we first got up here and saw what it looked like.
MD: Did he talk about the house before you actually saw it or talk about actually visiting it when he was young or--?
BB: When Dick and I met it was, he didn't have much to say. I didn't have any idea who he was. He was just somebody that I really loved and liked and, and I had, I knew nothing whatever about him. I didn't know that he was from an old southern family. I didn't know that he had a very elegant place like this. I knew very little about him because he, my husband was never a big talker. He was a, just sort of a quiet guy, and of course it was a very big shock to me to come down here and, and meet this very elegant aristocratic family because I was just another old Yankee girl with a mama who was born over in Scotland and a Daddy who was a butcher, so you know it was a revelation to me to, to meet what was here. And I hadn't any idea about any of this. It was, when we first came to Charlotte we had a terrible time trying to find any place to live because the war was just over and every soldier in the whole area was trying to find a place to live. And we lived in a, in a little reconstructed housing development that almost all of us who lived there were veterans. And Dick stood in line all night long to get us one of these places. He was on the pavement and of course they did stories about it, went in the newspaper the next day this list of a long line of guys who were in line waiting to get whatever housing was available immediately after the war. So it was, when I first, you know, came down here we lived in a little four-room, it looked like a little barracks which was, actually what it was, a reconverted barracks-what they called Morris Field.
MD: Yes, yes.
BB: I'm sure you've heard of this, but anyway all of our neighbors were like we were: young veterans families. And we enjoyed you know the, the companionship and fellowship of being together so I wasn't in any really in any big hurry to come out here, especially with a little kid two-and-a-half years old but--. I don't know how far you want me to keep going with this. [laughter]
MD: Well let me ask you this: what was it like to, to meet this sort of aristocratic, old Charlotte, old Mecklenburg County family being from the North. Was it hard or easy what was it, was there an issue about fitting in with that kind of idea, that kind of family?
BB: Well I felt very intimidated because as I say I was a, a, a young woman who had earned my living from the time I was eighteen years old. I hadn't any college background as (I'll bet) it everybody in his family had. And I was a very intimidated about these beautiful old women who could never have been kinder. They were so welcoming and, and sweet to me that they made me feel at home. But I was a smoker, and I was frantic about trying to find a place to smoke because smoking is a tough addiction. And I would go to the bathroom and, and open the window and smoke and I found out that Dick was probably related to everybody in North Carolina because they all wanted to give me a party when we came down here on our honeymoon to, to meet his family because they were so old they couldn't come up to our wedding. But it was a totally brand new experience to meet what was essentially an alien group of people [laughter] to me, because you know I'd just been a working woman and, and you know the big joke in our family for years was that Dick came to the North looking for muscles. [laughter] And so it was a tremendous transition, but no one could have, you know, you see these little movies where the family really resents the little strange alien woman coming in. Nothing could have been more different. They were welcoming and loving and, and couldn't take ( ) to me.
MD: How about, Ms. Banks, just, just the fact of being from the North coming here to the South in the postwar period. Did you find it different as sort of gender roles as a woman or the culture? What was, what was that sort of like? I mean obviously the family was really welcoming and that was, although foreign, you say a fairly easy transition because they accepted you so well. Did you find the culture in terms of being a woman in the South different?
BB: Yes, yes I did.
MD: The sort of gender roles. Tell me a little bit about that.
BB: I felt that, I--. When we first came down here, I knew that Dick didn't make very much money at the Observer. At that time the Observer was a notoriously poor payer.
MD: And at that time he was, he was writing.
BB: Well he had been with the Observer prior to his entering service, so he went back to his job and that, it was there waiting for him. But I felt that we had to have more money because he wasn't making that much, so I decided that the best thing for me to do was to get a job. Well I had achieved a certain amount of, of good paying jobs up North, but when I came down here I saw that there was very limited opportunities for a woman like me. I could work as a waitress or I could work as a secretary. I wasn't any, had any training like for a professional- like in nursing or teaching- so and every place I went they told me that I was overqualified. This was their word that they used all the time, overqualified, because I had been an assistant to a superintendent of a hotel which meant that I knew how to, had executive capabilities, but this sort of opportunity was, was not here for people like me. I kept trying to find a job and, and with very little success. I didn't make very many friends because Dick didn't have a--. The only circle of friends he had were people he worked with in the newspaper business, so my basic friends were, you know, the people we lived with at Morris Field. They were--. At that time of course, I soon found out when I got down here that I was pregnant and of course this eliminated the idea that I would get a job. So we needed to find a place, and but, and I noticed too. Like the girls I worked, the girls in the housing development. One girl was a little girl she was kind of a hillbilly, and she was the sweetest thing. We both, we shared a love of singing. She had a little baby and I had a little girl, and we would, we couldn't go anywhere because we couldn't afford baby sisters so we would get out. She played the guitar and we would sing together do duets. And her husband got to be friends. And the girl upstairs she was from Virginia, and her husband was a sergeant who was still in the service and, and she was very nice unfortunately she had a drinking problem. She had children, two little children. But by in large with these ladies I was able to, you know, find friendship with immediately, but when I came up here, you know totally new role that I had some difficulty. I had never been exposed to things like teas, having a tea for someone. My girlfriends were all working girls. So the first time I went to a tea, I took my little girl with me had a sun back dress on, got down there and saw a sea of hats and gloves and this was a big surprise to me. And then I think I told you before that the big difference between a northern woman and a southern woman at that time, was this, this gentle steel hand in a velvet glove type thing. That they were just as sweet on the surface as they could be and if you, if you had a slip hanging out from under your dress, they would do everything in the world except tell you that your slip was hanging out. Where a northern woman, if she was a total stranger, would tap you on the shoulder and say "Miss, your slip's showing." So this is one of the basic differences in the, in the personalities of the, of the northern and southern woman. Did I give you about enough of that? [laughter]
MD: Yeah, I mean, did you, did you have to alter--? Did you choose to alter anything about yourself to, to operate in a new--?
BB: You bet.
MD: Social environment.
BB: When in Rome. You change. And of course I made friendships. I had been playing bridge since I was sixteen years old so this was no problem. I was invited into a bridge club. Made some very dear friends who were women who very much outlook of the world was mine. So it just, I'm a very open person, so I've never had any difficulty making friends, and I was able to find some girls who felt exactly the way I did about things and form deep friendship and became as Southern as I could be because this was the way everything worked and I wanted to fit so I, you know, I redesigned myself to be Southern.
MD: And in that way you mean dress? You mean--.
BB: Well, you know I learned how things were down here and I copied them. I tried to be the same way because I didn't want to you know, be a damn Yankee, which is the [laughter] name I got from some of the wives of husbands of my bridge buddies. They would tease me and say, "You're a damn Yankee, but you're a good damn Yankee!" they'd say.
MD: And I guess I was just thinking what's an example of a way that you would try to make that transition. I'm not saying that you were selling out your soul or yourself but--.
BB: No, I have never sacrificed my opinions and views to, to, to be a part of the--.
MD: But sort of on the exterior?
BB: Yeah.
MD: Well, what was an example of sort of an exterior change that might have helped you in that transition?
BB: Well I guess you can say, I have, it never occurred to me that I needed to wear stockings in the summertime, because I had always gone bear legged even to work. But I noticed that here there was a tendency to be more formal in dress than I was accustomed to, even as a working woman. And, and of course there was the food, which was one of the big differences. I came you know--. I, I enjoy a rare beef and when I first had a luncheon one of the guests said "Oh it's too bad you didn't get your meat done." And it was rare because that was the way I was accustomed to serving it. And of course I didn't know how to cook rice, which is the staple of the South as it is in China, and had a terrible time trying to learn how to cook rice. Mrs. Ernest Hunter, her husband was the editor of the Charlotte Observer, taught me how to cook rice, and I didn't know you just threw it in a pan with some water and salt and that was all there was to it, and let it cook. But I had a difficult time trying to adjust my cooking to southern cooking. And I guess this was one of the very big changes. I learned how to fry chicken. My mother had friend chicken, but it never was the way it was cooked like it is down here. So I learned how to do all these things. And I, I guess, I guess cooking, I guess, was one of the big changes. And to my, to this day I still have my northern dishes that friends of mine [phone rings] think are pretty good. Would you excuse me while I answer the phone? RECORDING INTERRUPTED, THEN RESUMED
MD: So Mrs. Banks tell me if you will when you all where living at Morris Field, how, how'd the conversation come up about coming back to live here. I know you kind of started to talk about, you came up to visit and the tenants who were using the land, renting the land, were living in the house, and it was in total disrepair but did--. But how--, did your husband often talk finally about coming back up here, was that always a given or--?
BB: Yes, that was his dream: to come back here and live here. And his good friend LeGette Blythe, with whom he worked at the Observer, lived here in Huntersville and he and his wife Esther, had, they had been very friendly. They would have an annual Christmas party, and that's how I got to know them initially. And the day we moved up here they were behind a movie truck in their car was a big pitcher of ice-tea. So they were dear friends, and they gave us an entry into the community. Because they were of course very well respected. LeGette was a very well known Observer feature writer at that time. That was before he started writing his books. And so this gave us a good entree into the social scene of the community and made it easy for us to, you know, be part of the community immediately. But this was always something Dick wanted to do from the very time that we were married was to come to this family home place and--.
MD: And what year were you married?
BB: We were married in, 19--, let's see. We were married, let's see I think it was 1944 because he had to go overseas about, oh, a couple of weeks after we got married.
MD: And where did you meet?
BB: Hum?
MD: Where did you meet one another?
BB: Well this is sort of an interesting story. My sister and I would go to the DuPont, since she worked there and I did too, into this room, which named Brandywine room. It was sort of a very, very nice elegant bar, and we would have a glass of wine or a cocktail before we came home from work. And we were in there one evening and these two soldiers were there, and this one soldier came over and asked if he could join us. Now this sounds pretty cheap, but this was a fairly common thing during the war. Men and women knew that we were in a, a situation where a lot of the formalities were just not there anymore. So my sister said well what do you think and I said sure. So he went over and got his buddy and it turned out to be Dick and a, and a boy named Henry Driver, and we, they asked if they could walk us home and they did. And Dick asked if he could see me the following evening, and I said sure. And then he stood me up. [laughter] He didn't show up and he called me the next day and told me that he had the duty, which meant that he couldn't get off the base and I said , "Yeah." And he wondered if he could see me and I said "I don't think so you didn't come--." And he said "Well, come on. Give me chance." So, I said "OK." So in ten days he asked me to get married. And my mother seemed to think he was pretty good, but all my friends were "Hey, you don't know this guy. You better, better back out of that." But we just went ahead and decided to get married, and so we were--. I guess we knew each other three weeks before we got married. And everybody said this marriage will never, ever last. Never get off the ground. Well when he died we had been married for fifty-four years, so this was sort of a romantic way to meet and get married.
MD: Yes. [laughter] That's romantic, as it seems to, to, to the novice to think about restoring a house. So you came up here when you were in Charlotte, you saw the house you thought, "Oh no." Is this right? I mean--.
BB: Well what I really thought was, "Hey, this is Gone With the Wind." [laughter] There's this big plantation home-I had been wild about Gone With the Wind. I thought it was the most wonderful book, but here I was going to have a plantation house like Tara. What in the world was I going to do, this old Yankee girl who [laughter] didn't have any more idea than the man on the moon how to redo a big house like this. No, no understand whatever of design or furniture or anything, but I'll tell you I'm a quick learner. [laughter] I got books and books and started to doing some studying about color and all that stuff and of course as I say I've worked like a dog. We were up on the ladders painting and scrubbing. I have scrubbed every inch of this house except the cellar and that includes the attic. [laughter]
MD: So you, you know, Mr. Banks had this real vision about moving back here.
BB: Yes he did.
MD: And apparently you, you said, "OK, I'm going to support this." Did you ever say, " I can't move up there without the plumbing." You said you didn't have the plumbing, electricity.
BB: Well he didn't expect me to do that. In fact I told him, I said if you expect me to go up there without a bathroom forget it. [laughter]
MD: Because the tenants apparently--.
BB: They had a backhouse out there but.
MD: An outhouse.
BB: An outhouse, yeah. [laughter]
MD: So you moved up here in what-- '45, '46 ?
BB: In 1948--.
MD: '48.
BB: We moved in and we had the very basics as I say. We had electricity and we had plumbing. And that was it.
MD: And what was it like getting off the interstate coming here?
BB: There was no interstate. There was no interstate, there was no 21. The only thing that came up here was 115, and from the outskirts of Huntersville was a dirt road.
MD: All the way in.
BB: Uh-huh. There was, there was no electricity you know, and I said well until we can get electricity out here--. But Kerr Scott, you know, this was his theme song: We're going to electrify the rural areas of North Carolina. And this is what he did, and that's one reason why we were able to come out here, the fact that we had electricity. Because I, I could never have stood that without electricity.
MD: So you come in and you pick one room. Do you remember what first room you started on? [laughter]
BB: Yeah, let's see. It seems to me that this was the room we started on right here. And, you know, as I say the first--. I had all these Williamsburg colors in my head, and so this, these rooms used to be blue. And the only, when my daughter decided to get married thirty-some years ago, that's when we got into another painting job and painted everything gold. This, this paint job is over thirty years old. And it's time, more than time, for a new paint job. But being old it's very hard to summon up the energy to deal with all of this.
MD: So tell me, are there any funny stories that you can remember about restoring? Things that you found or things that happened when you were trying to restore?
BB: Well before we came up here, we would hire a baby sister every Sunday down at Morris Field to look after our little girl. And Dick and I would come up here and hide the car because if we didn't hide the car people would stop if they saw our car and wanted to go, wanted to see the house.
MD: Thinking, "Oh, it's a tour. Maybe we could get a tour?"
BB: Well they saw someone was here, and they would come to the door and say, "Can we get in the house?" And well Dick and I got to the point where we had to hide the car because we couldn't get anything done for people coming to the door and wanting to the see the house.
MD: Uh-huh.
BB: So one funny thing, we were working here one day and heard something over on the other side of the house and got over there and this was this woman and man. And the woman was trying to climb in the window. [laughter] And we, when she saw us of course she was very embarrassed, but we went around and opened the front door. And it was Dr. Sea's wife. She was a, they were a prominent couple in the community. ( Ellis Sea ) and his wife Peggy, and [laughter] she was trying to climb in the window [laughter] and, and we introduced ourselves. And before it was said and done we got to be best friends; I loved her and she loved me. But that's one of the funny things. And people--. One day Dick and I- it was so hot in here. Dick was down, had just these old ragged shorts on and his bare chest. And I had sort of a bra top on and a pair of shorts. We looked like total bums. And these--, we went to the door and there were these two beautifully-clad women with blue hair, and Dick went to the door and the woman said "Do you work here?" [laughter] And Dick said "Yes, Ma'am. I work here" [laughter] And the woman was, you know, (high-tailing), explained to the other one that she was a relative of the family and blah, blah, blah. Here was Dick, you know, whose family owned the house. And he was such a mild unassuming man that he would never ever have insulted anyone by showing her up so. But anyway we let them come in and look around, and of course the woman said "Well do you know the owners?" And Dick said "Yes, Ma'am. I'm the owner." [laughter] And, well of course, she was totally red faced at that point, but these are things that happened to us all the time. You know, and we looked so awful. One time we were in the same condition and one of the local preachers came, and you know being half-naked like that was an embarrassment [laughter] to me. This is the sort of thing that happened to us a lot of times in the early days before we moved up here, because we had to do a lot of cleaning before we could ever bring a child into this house.
MD: Uh-huh.
BB: But Dick would come up here on Saturdays and work and spend the night. And he would lie here on a pallet with a shotgun at his side in the event you know because, the house, people had broken into the house and stolen things and broken window glass to take as samples. They had taken hardware out of the doors to sell. And in fact someone even took a shutter off the front kitchen window. So I was, and so we, he felt that he had to really have something to protect himself in the event that someone broke in. But those were early days were [laughter] very, very funny.
MD: So was the house? Before, after his mother owned it but before you all came in '48, did people who, who farmed the land, these tenants, did they all--? Was the house usually occupied by them?
BB: Well yes, the last family that was here, and whose name I won't mention, were thieves they stole everything they could lay their hands on. Dick had a, Dick's mother had a room locked upstairs that had her, a lot of her good furniture in it, her china and her silver. All of this was stolen, by this, we think this family but whose name as I say I won't mention. But it was a shock to, when we finally did open the door to see what had been taken. And of course we were not here anytime before someone broke in and stole some old guns. We have some guns upstairs that go back to the Revolutionary War days and some--. And at that point I thought I'm not going to put up with this so, I went over to Barclay's Store which is a little local grocery store and I said you know, "Evidently some boys have broken in and have stolen some guns at my house," but I said, you know, "We've been real fortunate to get fingerprints. And so what we're going to do is we're going to run these fingerprints through and then when we catch these boys we're going to pursue then and see that they go to jail." And I said, "Now there's one possibility here. If those guns are on my porch tonight by ten o'clock, we'll forget the whole thing." I thought boy if this bluff works it's going to be something else. I was sitting in the kitchen, about eight o' clock that night I heard something slam up on my porch. Those guns were brought back, so the trick worked. And--.
MD: Local word of mouth.
BB: Word of mouth, yeah. Because, you know, every time I went out there, there was a bunch of old guys sitting around a stove--.
MD: Chewing the fat?
BB: But, you see, this has was fair game; it laid empty for about two year before we got here. And people breaking in and breaking the windows, and so it was--. When we finally came in here, people didn't believe it so they, they felt like it was still fair game. But anyway we, we changed all that. In fact one day Dick and I took the guns out on the porch and put a target up across the road. Did a little shooting just to [laughter] let the local folks know that we knew how to use a gun.
MD: So although this was you know, there wasn't this development around here--.
BB: Oh, no there was nothing here. We were the only house.
MD: But people would still come by the house for curiosity or on their way to--.
BB: Yeah, yeah. But you see it was a dirt road so you didn't see a lot of traffic, which also made it fair game. You know, when you had a lot of traffic you don't have so many break-ins, but this house was isolated.
MD: And people just sort of knew it was here obviously.
BB: Oh yeah. Oh yeah. And of course the store was total grown up in, in, in weeds. Nobody even knew it was there.
MD: What about the store? Did you, did Dick also have this desire to see the store renovated or preserved?
BB: We didn't really think that much about it. It was of course a transitional house for the family. It's a very large house I think the--. START OF TAPE 1, SIDE B
BB: dog just expelled a lot of gas. [laughter] anyway, that's going to make a charming statement. [laughter]
MD: I love it. [laughter]
BB: Anyway, the, the house over there is quite large; it's about eight rooms.
MD: Uh-huh
BB: And when, this is the second house on this site. So when the old house was being torn down and the new house was in the process of being built the family lived over there in the store. And of course I am sure you are aware that its' the oldest store in the southeast. But, the, I can't remember what I was going to say now where was I?
MD: About did Dick want to see it preserved.
BB: Well it had grown up so much in woods, now, Dick--. I don't know if you remember this woman Mrs. Johnson who came around during the Depression making pictures of all the old houses and, and buildings of a certain era, and she had made several pictures of this place and also the store. Well Dick heard about that and sent up to Washington to the department of something and anyway--.
MD: Was this like the WPA?
BB: Yeah, uh-huh, it was a WPA project. And so he knew, he knew the possibilities of this beautiful old building. But of course we were lucky to be able to do what we could here. We had no money even to consider doing anything there. But one of the early members of the Mecklenburg Historical Association was very interested in this as a project. And they approached us to see what we wanted to do and we said great. But there's no way that we can help you support it financially because we don't have any money.
MD: Uh-hum.
BB: So but they, they took hold of it and decided that it would be a worthwhile project. And at that point of course we were all for them and Jack Boyd who I guess was one of these outstanding restoration architects in this area, at least he's getting pretty old now. He doesn't do much anymore, but he was fascinated by it. He could not believe the workmanship, so we were able to approach the, the, the, government what do you call the state, the state congress?
MD: The legislature?
BB: Yeah the legislature. We formed a board, and each one of us on that board made it our business to deal face to face with a member of the legislature to see if we could get funds to further that restoration. And we were fortunate in getting 75,000 dollars which laid the foundation for the initial restoration.
MD: And what time period is this in that you are doing this work on the store?
BB: Hum, I would say twenty-five years. I'm not good at time. I never have been very good at time, but I'd say somewhere in the neighborhood of twenty, twenty-five years ago. And it was, we, we, we were thrilled that we were able to get that kind of money and of course since that time we tried to raise a little money here and there and of course--.
MD: How about for your own house? This must have been a huge financial undertaking--.
BB: Well we never had any money. We did it all in-actually we went without anything. The only thing we did was eat. Because I had no clothes. I had, I could not put an outfit together to go to church in. If I had a good pair of shoes, I didn't have a dress. If I had a dress, I didn't have shoes. If I had a hat, I didn't have a dress to match it. So I had no--. My idea of, of an Easter outfit was a pair of stockings. And of course I made clothes for my daughter. I didn't even know how to sew, but one the, one of the, what do you call it the school where they teach people how to sow and do-? Home economics person came and showed me how to sew, showed me how to make curtains, so that everything that I could do, I did do. And everything Dick could do, he did so that we just did everything that we could with no money. And--.
MD: Did you all have to live in the house obviously without furniture for a while?
BB: Well you see we had everybody's old cast offs. They just gave us anything that--. They gave us beds, they gave us--. We just didn't--. That chair over there goes back to '48. I've had it recovered about six times. And then I would pick up things at second hand shops and, and until this day I can't resist that sort of bargain hunting. I found this couch for thirty-five dollars at a, at a-oh, what do you call these building--? Habitat?
MD: Um-hum. Store?
BB: And I bought it for thirty-five dollars, and I went and got some wonderful cloth and recovered it so it cost me less than 400 dollars when I finally got through with it.
MD: So the house really became, what I think I hear you're saying- tell me if I'm wrong- really became the priority.
BB: That's right. That was it. That was everything. That was everything. Everything was getting the house ready. Getting the house restored, and we never, you know as I say I couldn't work, had a little girl. And then when, when my daughter, when my children. I had another child and when my little boy went to first grade, boy, I went out to work. Went to a newspaper and started a job. So that from that moment on we usually would have about a 1,000 dollars a year that we could put into some kind of a project and like getting the back porch redone, getting the house painted, stuff like this that you know, we just had to plan it a year at a time. And that's the way it was up until our time came to put our kids in college. But it's been a lifelong project.
MD: So yeah, it's never stopped.
BB: No, it has never stopped. Still ready to do over again now. [laughter] Next generation takes over. [laughter]
MD: I'm going to end this cassette and just this tape and start another one. RECORDING INTERRUPTED, THEN RESUMED
MD: This is Melinda Desmarais. Today is Friday January the 25th. The year is 2002 , and this is part two of my interview with Ms. Belle Banks. Now, Ms. Banks, we were discussing the restoration and how it seems to go on and on. I'm sure that in terms of change in North Mecklenburg you have seen an amazing [laughter] amount of change. Can you tell me a little bit about the changes in the, in the physical landscape first of all that you've seen since you've come up here in '48.
BB: Well as I say when we first came up here in 1948 it was only a dirt road leading out here from Huntersville. A little, I guess you could call it a two-lane, but it would be crowding it to call it a two lane. The traffic was, there was practically no traffic because I have no neighbors. And just to give you an example of, of, of how isolated I was, when I was cleaning one of the windows in this back living room, I put my hand through it and cut my thumb very deep. And I thought this thing is never going to stop bleeding, and I'm going to, how will I get help because I didn't have any telephone. The telephone line was a long time coming out here. So and of course I had no car, and I didn't no how to drive anyway. So I thought well I have to go to the road with my child and, and try to walk. I finally put a, took an old matchbox and made a splint and finally got the bleeding stopped. But anytime I was in any kind of an emergency, I had to take my little girl by the hand and we would start walking to Huntersville. And usually someone would come along and offer us a ride. And but that was the way it was when we first came out here. I would be here and maybe see three or four cars go by in a whole day. Now since that time, there have been big developments built. One great big one called Winfield, another one called Cedarfield, which has given me close to 600 new neighbors. And there's another one coming out here that's going to have 140 houses and that's going to be about half a mile from where I'm living now. It's necessitating building a new road which is now before the Huntersville town commissioners to try to find a way to get people in and out here. The traffic right now, sometimes I have a hard time getting out of my driveway. So that the, the change in the face of this area is unbelievable. And then of course when we first came up here, you couldn't even find a place to get a hamburger without going to Charlotte or Mooresville. Now I would say that you could eat in a different restaurant for six weeks every day. Everything is up here now. The great big developed commercial area down there- I think the name of it's some kind of lake, something-lake- but anyway it's wonderful because I no longer have to worry about trying to go to Charlotte. Everything I need is here. There' s a fine department store right up about three or four miles from me. We have this very good little commercial area right down here about a mile from me, so the, the place has changed drastically since the days when as I say we couldn't do any kind of shopping in this are at all. It was totally rural. And now we have two really excellent shopping centers within a ten-mile radius of where I live, so that's a huge change.
MD: Do you see an impact on Cedar Grove? Do you--, and the Torrance store? Do you see that that will have any kind of impact at all, good or bad?
BB: No, I, I can't see that, that there's any impact. I know that the historical properties commission is very interested in the preservation of this historical site as such. They're very interested that we not sell land to any developers. And of course I would never betray my husband in that way because he loved this place so much. But we are considering a, permitting a church to be built on twenty acres of land. They are very interested in buying. We have sold twenty-five acres of land to the land trust, which is directly across the street. But this is always going to be maintained as open space. We have sold some timber because actually a plantation-that's what a plantation is for. It's supposed to support itself, so we sold off some, some, some old hardwood. And but everything is being reforested, we're replanting so that everything is going to be continuing and but the, the, the fact that this old place is still here and has a story to tell. I never told you that we have been having school children come out here for five decades, telling them what their heritage is about the South and about how people used to live back in the old days. This was a project that my husband and I both enjoyed doing. We would let the children come out here and tell them about the way it was back in the old days, and sometimes it was a little embarrassing when we had some little black children here. But slavery was a reality, so we don't, we don't try to avoid that. But Dick and I were both very interested in letting the children know the value of an historical site like this. And of course that's been our whole life: maintaining and supporting and restoring this place. And I don't know what else to tell you.
MD: Well I wanted to just ask you just a couple other quick questions. One, you told me when I was here in our initial visit together, [laughter] about your experience. I know you told some great kind of old ghost experiences, but you actually had sort of a, an unusual experience
BB: Yes, I did.
MD: yourself in the house. Um, Will you share that with me?
BB: Sure.
MD: Dick of course being a critic with the Charlotte Observer would frequently have to make out of town trips. So one of the ones he had to make annually was to Atlanta to hear the Metropolitan Opera. When he did this, I was here alone with the children. And I have never been a person who was easily frightened, but this was a bad night. It was very stormy and the children were in bed, and I was restless and sort of nervous and couldn't sleep so I was reading, I guess about two o'clock in the morning. It was stormy and a lot of lightening and thunder going on. Your typical old haunted house-type set-scenery, and I heard something up in the attic that sounded very much like someone moving a heavy piece of furniture across the floor. And it, it scared me because I didn't know what to make of it because it was not anything easy it was, it sounded like someone really pushing a big heavy piece of furniture across the floor. Well as you might know I certainly didn't go up to investigate because I was too scared. But I didn't wake the children or anything I just--. But when Dick came home I told him I said, "This sort of unnerved me." I didn't know what to make of it, and he said, "Oh it was the wind, it was just the creaking of an old house." I said, "Dick, you must think I'm crazy. I, I don't scare easily," but this was an unusual occurrence. But we never were able to figure out what it was, so.
MD: And you never heard it again.
BB: Never heard it again. That was really my only experience here that was a little disquieting. I didn't know quite what to make of that. It was scary. And then of course I've had any kind, every kind of episode of fright that you could imagine with wild beasts. One day when Dick was upstairs and really ready to, you know, he was in his last days. And I was so tired because I was up and down those steps time after time trying to get him to eat, and I looked in the dining room and there was a big black snake lying in the center of the dining room floor. Well I just called up. I didn't know what to do. I knew I couldn't attack that snake. I was just too tired and worn out, so I called down at Huntersville police crying I said, "I got a snake up here and it's--, and I don't know what to do." She said, "Ms. Banks, don't you worry about a thing." Well the next thing I knew there were three police cars out in my driveway. These three young cops came out here, and they had a ball getting that snake. [laughter] They took it with them. They killed it and took it with them. But I have had snakes in this house. You would not believe the horror of a snake in your house. And I've had--. And one day I had a squirrel in here. Called the animals people, they could not find that squirrel. Squirrels are smart. It had hidden in one of these chests, so the second guy came and got it. But he said, "What do you want me to do with that squirrel?" I said, "Just take it away from here forever." But I've had all sorts of experiences with snakes and, and the lizards and bats. The bats are very scary.
MD: Is it, you think, because you think you live in a sort of a more--.
BB: Yeah, a rural area. Yeah, people in the country have these kinds of things. But fortunately I haven't had a bat since Dick died. He would attack them with tennis rackets, you know. [laughter] And usually get them. But if I, anything that happens to me now, I just simply call the police. They are so helpful, so wonderful to an old lady like me.
MD: Now, I know that, you know, some of your hardware has been stolen over the years and things before you guys sort of came back and claimed authority over the house, that somebody was living here. Have you ever found anything just you know just sort of tucked away somewhere that you didn't know, or was, was sort of an artifact of the past?
BB: Oh, bottles. Got a whole barrelful of old hand-blown bottles up in the attic.
MD: And were they just in the house?
BB: They were up in the attic. And I had a friend of mine who knows about bottles, and he said some of them are quite valuable. And I just noticed on, in the newspaper the other day about this bottle was worth, on e-bay it went for over 1,000 dollars.
MD: The Pepsi Cola bottle. Um-hum.
BB: And I have some that go back. They're hand blown. I mean no seams. They're, they're beautiful. And they, some of them are colored bottles, which are supposed to be really valuable. And, and of course Dick has found some old tools. And of course digging around he's found arrowheads because you know the Indians were supposed have been over here across the road. And, and then of course there was an old gold mine over there which hasn't been worked in years, and Dick was very, very good at finding things like this. We have a whole box of shards, bits and pieces of pottery, which have been dug up. Jeff Lawrence who is now chairman of the, of the store--.
MD: And this is the minister at Hopewell?
BB: Yes.
MD: Presbyterian Church.
BB: He called me the other and said that he had, well back a few months ago they did some imaging. And they want to come now and dig where those images showed something under the ground, and he wanted to know if that would be OK. And I said, " Sure, that would be fine." I try to work with people all I can to, you know, let, let them know what was here and has been here for a long time. But I told Jeff that would be fine. I said just any mess they make, clean it up. And of course they really recently did a dig down at the barn.
MD: Was that the Davidson College dig?
BB: No, now Davidson, Bill Rigle has been doing digs with his kids for the last several years, and they have uncovered foundations of slave quarters. And then, but this is a, I think also from, from UNC Charlotte. Dr.-what is her name? I can't recall her name now but they did a dig down here at the barn and were able to uncover some interesting facts. Probably down there in your records somewhere. But I am not an historical person, as you can see. I have no sense of time. No sense of relationships. And, and I'm just sort of a dragger around Dick's neck. He was the historian. We used to laugh and say that he was the fact finder, and I was the money raiser. Because when we were trying to get money for the store over there, the committee of which I was very active then, we had a big yard sale down in Charlotte and made 10,000 dollars. And we had something like forty people involved in it. And it was wonderful; I could not believe all the money we made. But the, you see, the historical association is a large body of people in Charlotte who have some money. And they cleaned out and gave us some really great stuff like silver and crystal, and so we, we really had some great stuff for sale. In fact my dining room rug, which is a Persian rug, I got for 700 dollars where it probably cost several thousand, so. But anyway this,-- . Surely you're going to edit all this stuff out of here.
MD: And so would he pore over--? I know you said in the restoration years and years that are still going on.
BB: Oh yeah.
MD: Right? You finish one, you, you make one path; you probably have to start over again.
BB: Right my children will probably have to, have to take over when I'm. I'm, I'm not very capable of doing much now. My, I'm eighty-three years old, and a person of that age has very limited energy.
MD: But at that time, it sounds like you all did a lot of research. Did you ever bring in people to consult what with the historical--?
BB: Dick did all time. Dick was a true historian and a fine writer. So this has been the advantage that this house has that few old houses have. Because he was a professional writer and he was also an historian, so he left a wonderful batch of research material right there for you people to grab hold of and use. But as I say these have never been my interests. I am interested in live people and what's going on in the world and what happened a hundred years ago is not especially my thing.
MD: Well, any other, I will just back and ask you one other question before we wrap up. I've got a final question I'd like to ask you. I know that you would come here and visit the, the family and met them and got to know them. And they would tell you stories about Christmas here and other--. Do you remember any other stories that they might have told you about life here at Cedar Grove?
BB: Well, I am, for one thing, my memory is very faulty now. This is one of the other things that go along with old age. So that I really can't remember an awful lot. I, I, I can't believe that I remembered as much as I have today to tell you. But that goes back so far you know. That goes back almost sixty years ago.
MD: That they were telling you about their old-time experience.
BB: Yeah, and now Dick, he, he would never forget the things that he knew as a boy and as a member of the Torrance family. But see I'm all second hand all the way. And all I know is my own experiences, and they're certainly not very interesting. [laughter]
MD: That's not true [laughter].
BB: But no they were, they were very good and sweet and, and you know it was such a wonderful thing to have this great beautiful family of old ladies who, you know, loved to talk about their daddy and their mamma and their stories, you know, sort of went in one ear and out the other because my interests were so different, you know. They were family motivated and family interested, and I've always been interested in things outside of myself.
MD: So there were no like customs at the house that really stand out?
BB: Well, I, one of the best experiences I had when I first came down here on my honeymoon, Aunt Kate was whom the other sisters lived, had a servant names Florence, and evidently Dick went in and paid her a dollar to come in and call me Mrs. Banks. She was the first person that ever called me Mrs. Banks. [laughter] And I thought that was pretty sharp, pretty cool. But we would have dinner frequently with Dick's aunts and his mother, and it was a very formal dining room kind of thing we would be served by Florence.
MD: And that was--.
BB: That was in over in Charlotte
MD: In Charlotte, and this was being rented out at the time, Cedar Grove.
BB: Yes, we were still at that time living down in Morris Field. But it was just, you know a, totally foreign to me to have this kind of service being waited on and everything. Because my mother had help, to do her washing and ironing and cleaning, but we never had anybody cook for us. My mother did all the cooking, you know, so it was a transition type thing.
MD: And was it a sort of a traditional southern help where most of the women were black women?
BB: Yes, down here they were.
MD: Right. Well what do you hope for the future for Cedar Grove and the ( ) land--?
BB: Well I just know that my children love it, they have loved it every minute even though it's been, you know, a hardship for them growing up. It seems like we were always trying to do something to improve the house. My kids really love this house. Now my son has inherited the house. My daughter has inherited property. And, but they both love it and my son now has, he and his family live over here in, in Cedarfield, but on the event of my death they plan to come in and so it's going to continue and hopefully his children will continue. I, I hope it will continue on as it has since it was built back in 1831.
MD: And what about Mr. Banks. When he passed away, what were his, do you know what his, do you speculate what his impressions were about the life spent of restoring this home and maintaining this home?
BB: He wanted it to be just like it was; he didn't want any changes. We were offered an opportunity to sell timber for a very good price. He would not. He did not want any change whatever. He wanted it as close to what it used to be as possible. He, he didn't want any change of any kind. And sometimes I feel like a traitor for selling the timber, but my children needed money, and I decided that I would do this. And the thing about young people is they frequently need money now. And I knew we did. And felt like my kids if I could get them some money, I would get them some money, and I did.
MD: What do you, do you think that he--? What was the drive for him to be so true to the house?
BB: Well I think it's a typical southern feeling of family. That's the main thing that I noticed when I came down here that they family, the continuing of the family is very important. In fact I used to kid Chalmers Davidson up here who was a professor at Davidson and also a cousin. I said you southern people are Shintoist. You, you worship family. And this I think is one of the main differences between the northern person and the southern person: this relationship to family.
MD: And that you think was this representative relationship--?
BB: This is the continuation of, of the Torrance family and this was I'd say the focus of his life. And heaven knows that he gave his whole life to it, because he never made any money much.
MD: And it became your focus, too, in large part.
BB: Well [laughter] inadvertently, since I was married to him. [laughter]
MD: And did you come to love it as much?
BB: Oh yes. I adore it. I love the, I love the space and the, you know, the openness and the luxury of having all this. But, of course there's the downside. I'm cold all winter long, because there is no heat upstairs. And it can be pretty chilling when the weather gets very, very cold. But I do have a good warm spot in here so, and it's so beautiful the other three seasons that I can deal with a little discomfort in the winter. It gets harder and harder though the older I get. [laughter] My feet are always cold.
MD: The older you get, the older the house gets. That's right. [laughter]
BB: That's true.
MD: Any final words you'd like to leave as parting words.
BB: No, I just hope that you've been able to glean something out of all this. [laughter]
MD: I think this has been really, really insightful, and I thank you for your interview.
BB: You're quite welcome.