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Ann Sullivan oral history interview, October 27, 2003

Date: Oct. 27 2003 | Identifier: OH0237
Oral history interview of Ann Sullivan (1972-2003), a librarian at Sheppard Memorial Library, in Greenville, NC, wife of East Carolina University Professor of English C. W. Sullivan, and a resident of the Lakewood Pines Neighborhood. Part of the Lakewood Pines Neighborhood Oral History Project, which was initiated to help the Association oppose the construction of a 500 unit apartment complex. Interviewer: Naomi Winkelman. more...



EAST CAROLINA MANUSCRIPT COLLECTION
ORAL HISTORY INTERVIEW #237
10/27/2003
[Interview by Naomi Winkelman]

Naomi Winkelman interview with Ann Sullivan on October 27, 2003, at Ann Sullivan's home 200 Lakewood Dr., Lakewood Pines, Greenville, NC.

Naomi Winkelman:

Alright, can you tell me a little bit about your background and where you grew up?

Ann Sullivan:

I grew up in New York state. I went to college there at Albany State University. Taught high school English for a few years. After I got married and my first child was born in New York state and then my husband and I decided it was time for him to go on for a Ph.D. And we went to Oregon and we lived in Oregon for seven years and our second child was born there. And then he got a job in Eastern North Carolina at ECU and we moved here from Oregon and we have lived here for twenty-five years.

Naomi Winkelman:

And you're a librarian now right?

Ann Sullivan:

I am. Right. I got a masters degree at Albany as well, after teaching high school for three years. In New York state you had to have a masters degree to continue your teaching license within five years you had to get a masters degree or thirty hours beyond your undergraduate degree. And so with a undergrad degree in English I thought a Masters Degree in Library Science would give me options and I could go back and teach English if I wanted to, which is what I thought I would do but when I got a degree in Library Science I really got interested in children's literature and that changed everything. So I worked as a school librarian here in North Carolina for sixteen years and I've worked at Shepherd Memorial Library for nine.

Naomi Winkelman:

Alright. What kind of neighborhood did you grow up in?

Ann Sullivan:

Oh that's a good question. Um, I grew up in a small town. A lot of times people don't realize that about New York state they think of big city areas, but in fact there's lots of rural communities there. There are a lot of rural communities in New York state and I grew up about ninety miles north of New York City, but that's rural. And it was a small town. When I was growing up there were about five-hundred people lived in the town and that's a real small town. In fact, I didn't even go to school there I had to ride a school bus for seven miles to get to the school. And I went to school in ?? where there was a university. And so that was my school life and then my home life was in this little town. Where I could, in the springtime, pack a lunch and walk out the backdoor and hike in the woods. Which is what I used to do.

Naomi Winkelman:

How was that place different and similar from Greenville and kind of Lakewood Pines?



Ann Sullivan:

It's very different from Greenville as a whole. I mean Greenville was a small city when we moved here twenty-five years ago, but it was a city. My husband and I have always lived in cities even though we both grew up in small towns. We lived in Albany, New York for the first few years of our marriage about five years and then we lived in Eugene, Oregon, which is the Pacific Northwest but it was still a city. And then we lived here. And Greenville was the most provincial city we'd ever lived in but it was still a city. And what attracted us to Lakewood Pines was the fact that we were within the city limits and could easily get to our jobs and the conveniences of living in the city and still have a rural setting. Which is what this has always been. It reminded us of where we both grew up and we wanted our kids to have that.

Naomi Winkelman:

Yeah. What defines a good neighborhood to you?

Ann Sullivan:

Well, maybe not the same things that it would mean to other people, I don't know. I have always loved living in this neighborhood. Part of the reason for that is that it is it feels isolated even though it isn't, it's umm we don't look out or we didn't until a few years ago, look out on anybody else's house when we look out our back windows. We have a wooded backyard. Our kids were able to roam around the neighborhood freely and we didn't worry about that. They rode their bicycles, they played in the woods, they did all those things. But what was unique it seemed to-me about this neighborhood, was that it's made up of people who are relatively private. And so while there was a Christmas party every year and people would get together and you were friendly with your neighbors, nobody was dropping in your front door for coffee in the morning. You know, it was, definitely people liked their privacy and they were polite and they were friendly but nobody expected you to spend all your time with them. And I like that about this neighborhood. And I respect that about people, their willingness to, not their willingness but their desire for privacy I respect that.

Naomi Winkelman:

Alright. How has the neighborhood changed since you moved here?

Ann Sullivan:

In terms of quality, not much. We still have privacy, we still have isolation. In terms of the makeup of the people here, is changed considerably. When we first moved to this neighborhood it was substantially people who worked at Dupont. That's what the neighborhood was, you may know this already, but when the neighborhood was created it was a piece of land that was bought by Dupont for houses for the people who were moving down here from Delaware to start the Dupont plant in Kinston. And those people bought lots and built houses and when we moved here twenty-five years ago, a lot of those people were still here. They were still working at Dupont; there were carpools in the morning to go down to Kinston to Dupont. The other people who'd moved into the neighborhood at that time were various professionals. Since that time a lot of those people have died or moved away to retirement communities. And they've been replaced by younger couples and so my husband and I are not the oldest people in



the neighborhood by any stretch but we're moving on up there. (Laughter) And there are younger couples who've moved into the neighborhood but they seem to have the things that attract them to this neighborhood seem to be the things that attracted us. They like a quiet neighborhood, they like this wooded setting and they like their privacy.

Naomi Winkelman:

You were saying you like this neighborhood, you wanted to raise your children in this neighborhood. Has, was there a lot of children when your children were growing up?

Ann Sullivan:

There never are a huge amount because it's a small neighborhood. And so the kids in the neighborhood had what we had, what my husband and I had when we were growing up. You didn't just play with the kids who were eight, when you were eight. You played with a spectrum of kids who were, some of them older and some of them younger then you were. And that was the way I grew up too. That's a small town environment. And that's what our kids had here too. There were always kids in the neighborhood but there was an age span and they played together. I won't say it's ideal they didn't all get along. But you know, when we moved into this neighborhood the people next door had a boy who was a year younger than our youngest son. Two houses up there was a boy who was two or three years older than our oldest. And they were their main connections but the kid who lived up, the young man who lived up the street, who was really interested in computers, spent time with both of our boys. And he was considerably older. The little boy who lived up the street who was very interesting and bright, spent time with our boys, he was considerably younger. So, there was a real age span in the way they connected. And not a huge number of kids.

On Halloween and I'm thinking about that cause that's this week, all the kids came around the neighborhood and you knew all the kids who came to your door. That's not the case for a lot of people. This is because this neighborhood is isolated. People just take their kids around the city don't necessarily find us. And so most of the kids who came around the neighborhood were kids you knew, which was fun.

Naomi Winkelman:

Do you feel it's still the same way with the same number of children?

Ann Sullivan:

There aren't as many, I don't know Halloweens changed a little bit but we don't get the number of kids who come to the door anymore. And lots of times they're children we don't know. So that has changed, yeah.

Naomi Winkelman:

Alright. What did the surrounding area of Greenville look like at the time you first moved to Lakewood Pines?

Ann Sullivan:

That's a good question too. Evans Street was a two-lane road. Overton's was not there it was a field, it was a farmer's field. And there were Killdeers in that



field. Birds, if you know that bird, it's a ground bird and it has a very distinctive call. My husband and I got back into town Sunday afternoon after being away for the day and we went over to Kroger's to pick up a few things. Kroger's of course wasn't there when we moved here. And-as we came out the store I heard some killdeers. And I, you know I pointed it out to him and I said to him, do you hear those, those are killdeers. I haven't seen those around here in ages. I don't where they came from or where they were going but they used to be in that corn field that was across the highway were Overton's is now.

There was no mall where Steinmart is. There was no University Commons. That was actually, ah it's just gone right out of my head, battery, they made batteries. I can't think of it right now, but it will come back to me. Anyhow, that was a plant right there. But it was really nicely landscaped of course it turned out they were, they were dumping astringents into the stream, you know but never mind that. (Laughter) Oh, I can't think of the name of it, its, it is a, they make batteries. It'll come back to me later. But anyway they had to wash off equipment at night and so they were a lot of heavy-duty cleansers and things like that, that they were using and that ended up in the Green Mill Run. So it wasn't as great as it seemed to be at the time.

When we first moved to this neighborhood, Dr. ?? was still a pediatrician and he used to tell the story that he was always able to, originally tell, when Lakewood Pines children came to his office he said because their diapers were always kind of orangey-colored.' Because people out here had wells and there is a lot of clay in the soil and so they would get, you know, this orangey-color from the clay and our kids would play in the creeks and around in the woods here and they'd get, you know it would stain their skin. The clay would stain their skin. So we used to joke about that. (Laughter) But so all of these houses have wells. Nobody uses them anymore cause we're all on city water. But, originally this neighborhood was outside the city limits of Greenville when it was built. It was the first subdivision in Greenville. And so, they all had wells, they all had septic tanks. So that's changed dramatically.

Naomi Winkelman:

I don't suppose anybody is still using' their septic tanks?

Ann Sullivan:

Ah no, I don't think so. (Laughter) I don't think so but there all still in the ground. You know, and there are some people who are using their wells for watering their gardens, maybe, or things like that. But they're all, everybody's on city water.

Naomi Winkelman:

What do you think the experience of women has been in this neighborhood? Since you're a woman I thought I'd ask that question. (Laughter)

Ann Sullivan:

Sure. Yeah, when I first moved into this neighborhood there was a Lakewood Pines Garden Club. And a lot of the wives were still stay-at-home wives



whose husbands worked at Dupont. And so they had this garden club. And there was also a book club that was active in this neighborhood. I always have worked since I've lived here and so I wasn't part of those things but I was aware of them.

My next door neighbor, who doesn't live there, it was years ago; the people who owned the house, the Colemans Mildred and Henry Coleman, lived in the house right over here when I moved into the neighborhood. And Mildred told me that when she first moved into the neighborhood and she was about seventy years old when she was telling me this story. When she first moved into the neighborhood she was washing her windows and the local ladies came to her and they said, we don't do our own windows in this neighborhood. And she said, I do. (Laughter) And I think that, that kind of woman has been in this neighborhood, I mean, when I moved in here; the woman that Mildred is, I mean there was a certain, that the other element was here too of women who thought they shouldn't work or thought they shouldn't wash windows or any of those things.

But it seems to me, that there have always been women in this neighborhood who had different ideas about what their role was. Even when it was first built. And certainly when I came to this neighborhood. I found plenty of women, no plenty; it's a small neighborhood. I found women that I felt I had lots of things in common with. And they weren't all my same age. Which is the point I'm trying to make. (Laughter) They weren't all women that were my age. They were women who had independent ideas who were different ages. That's one of the things I've liked about this neighborhood, is that there's an age span.

Naomi Winkelman:

Okay. How would newcomers to the neighborhood get to know other neighbors, is there some kind of a socialization process?

Ann Sullivan:

Well, when we first moved here the people across the street invited us to dinner first night we were here. The lady who lived in that house over there brought us a meal the second night. Other people brought us snacks and things like, you know, brownies or whatever. Came by and introduced themselves. That went on for a while. That has died out. And I think it's partly because most women work in this neighborhood now. And so if you stop by when this house was sold two years ago, I baked some bread and took it over. But I certainly don't do that every time a house is sold in this neighborhood. It's just that, that was right next-door and so I did that. So it's definitely toned down.

Now of course we have a neighborhood association now and so there's a real effort to get new people in the neighborhood involved in that. And so it's a, rather than a social, it's a political connection that you make with people, I think. The other thing is that houses don't sell very often in this neighborhood. It's a fairly stable



neighborhood. So, it's only every couple years that we have somebody move in or move out.

Naomi Winkelman:

Okay. Is there anything you would change about the neighborhood?

Ann Sullivan:

I, no. I wouldn't change anything about the neighborhood. I would wish that there was something that we could do about the plans do build to an apartment complex right next door to us. But, change the neighborhood, no, I wouldn't.

Naomi Winkelman:

Would you like to talk about that since you brought that up? What's the issue with the neighborhood...

Ann Sullivan:

Well, there's land that faces Arlington Boulevard. And it is owned by a family that has owned it for, well its probably farm land originally. And they've been trying to sell it for a long time. And we've been trying to prevent a big development going in there. And they had a developer a few years back, and we sort of fought it and the developer backed out. We felt really good about that. But I mean they found another developer. And they would like to build an apartment complex there that's rather large and would accommodate at least five hundred people.

That would, they're going to have to cut down a lot of trees to do that. They're. going to build out over the wetland, to do that. All of that we see as detrimental to our neighborhood. One of the things that we all like about living in this neighborhood is the woods. And even though over time it has gotten noisier in here because there's more traffic around us, we still have red-tailed hawks. I've never seen a fox, but there are a number of my neighbors who've seen a fox that lives in these woods. We had a bear one time, pass through. There are turtles and snakes and lots and lots of birds. And raccoons, just two years ago there were raccoons in my back yard. On my squirrel feeder actually. (Laughter) Eating the corn. All of that will go if this apartment complex comes in.

And the other part of it that concerns us is that the Green Mill Run runs behind us. And it floods Evans Street Periodically. It floods my neighbors periodically. And if you build a big apartment complex right next to it, we believe that, that problem's gonna get worse. And that seems patently obvious to me. But not to everybody apparently. And so we're concerned. We're concerned because there are a number of houses, not mine, but there are a number of houses in this neighborhood that border that creek. And there are some that are really in danger of loosing their homes because of flooding. And that's a real concern. And that's one of the things that's made this neighborhood coalesce in a way that it never had before.

[End of Interview]

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