|Transcript of Dr. Mary Rose Stocks Interview|
|Interviewee:||Dr. Mary Rose Stocks|
|Interviewer:||Donald R. Lennon|
|Date of Interview:||April 30, 2008|
|Location of Interview:||Greenville, N.C.|
|Length:||One mp3 file, approximately 81 minutes|
This is Donald Lennon. I am interviewing Dr. Mary Rose Stocks in Greenville, North Carolina on April the 30th, 2008, and this is for the ECU Centennial Oral History Project. And Dr. Stocks, you understand that we are recording this to preserve in the University archives where it will be made available for research use and for people to examine in the future.
Yes sir. I understand.
Thank you very much. Okay, to get started, would you like to tell us something about your background in Duplin County, exactly where you grew up, and the size of your household, and things of that nature?
I grew up in Duplin County. At that time there were only a few roads. One road that led to Mt. Olive, North Carolina, and we lived about a half a mile from that road, so that was our main road. And we were large farmers, my family. And then you would turn to the left and you would go find the other road that would take you to Duplin County, which we were in Duplin County but I'm talking about Kenansville. And really
enjoyed all the experiences of that country life, and of the country life we had lots and lots of pecan trees, lots of orchards, the fruit orchards, and tobacco farm, cotton, name it; and I was involved in all of it.
How many children were there in the family?
Four children: two brothers older than me--I'm the only girl--and my youngest brother.
And you were the first one to go to college.
First one in my family to go to college.
How did you make the decision that you wanted to go to college, or how did that come about as far as directing you to go to college rather than to stay on the farm?
I think it probably started with my first grade school teacher who had a big influence on my life, as the other teachers did also. At that time the first grade classrooms were down as part of the gym. There was no heat whatsoever. We had a big pot bellied stove and we had to bring in the coal from outside.
How large a school was it?
That is hard--. We had the two kindergarten [first grade] classes. There was probably two classes of each grade level, and it was B.F. Grady--this is it, and I'll explain this to you later, why I have this--B.F. Grady Elementary School. This is the school that I attended. [shows framed picture]
It was probably one through twelve, wasn't it?
One through eleven. And of course I had my picture made right on these steps here of the old school. This is the new school. Now, you want to know how I got this? A student that I taught to teach school--trained him to become a teacher [in the
Training School]--was from Duplin County, Warsaw. He went back to Duplin County and he became principal of the old school. It was still the old school, and I was invited to go and evaluate the school, Southern Association. I did things like that. And I figured, "Well isn't this wonderful, that he would invite me back for this?" And of course I did not know he was--. And at the end of the meeting, I had given my report, and then I was asked to stand and he presented this to me and he told everybody at that time. It was a totally different school, a totally different student body. But I treasure this.
Oh yes. Yes indeed.
So when you go back where you grew up, just look at this. It will be on your right if you go straight into--.
Oh, I've seen it, I've seen the school.
You've seen it?
Yes, many times.
Great, great school. And if you pass B.F. Grady going on towards Kenansville, the first road to the right after you pass the school is the road to Mt. Olive.
And when I became old enough the principal asked me to drive the school bus because I was on the very end of the route. And I think I drove it one year, and that was wonderful. I thoroughly enjoyed driving the school bus. And I was a star basketball player in high school. At that time if you played basketball you were on a court--. Two courts is what it was. You remember that. I was as good at forward as I was a guard. Mr. Wells, the principal, if we got behind, he would put me here. If he needed me, he'd put me here. And my parents and I decided--. They knew that I really was into
education. I really wanted to graduate from high school as soon as possible. So my parents said, "Okay, that's fine. We'll send you to Wingate College to get your summer writing." You know, there's certain things you have to have. Anyway, I told my principal. He became really upset. He said, "But you can't do that." I said, "Yes I can." He said, "Well you're not going to take the English test anywhere." I said "Oh my parents have already enrolled me at Wingate College." I went, enjoyed it, and then came directly to East Carolina College.
Why did you decide to come to East Carolina? Did you visit any other campuses or have any interest in any other school, or was it--?
No interest in any other school.
Had you ever visited East Carolina or just hearing other people talk about it?
Hearing others talk about it, and several of my teachers in high school had graduated from ECTC. And I entered in 1949, and it was ECTC; wonderful. I lived in Cotten Hall; one telephone in the entire building for students.
Did your parents bring you to Greenville to visit the campus before you enrolled, or were you already here? How did that take place?
We came and we rode through the campus, but at that time you didn't know who to stop and talk with. We just rode through the campus and looked at it, applied, and was accepted.
And they brought you on your first day of school when you actually came?
Oh yes, yes. And when I would want to go home on the weekends they would come and pick me up, and then they--.[would take me home as well as return me]
How often did you go home?
At least twice a month, I'm sure, and then they would bring me back. And my daddy got tired of that [Laughter] so I received a telephone call--and I was on third floor of Cotten--and it was a gentleman calling and said, "There's someone here that loves you very much." And I said, "I don't know what you're talking about." "Would like for you to come down--Fifth Street right at the end of campus--at the Chevrolet place." I said, "Sir, I never go anywhere to see anybody unless I know who I'm going to see." He said, "Just a moment." He handed the phone to my father. "Mary Rose, it's all right. I'm down here. I'm getting ready to buy you a car. I'm going to make sure it's the one you want so you can drive back and forth when you want to." [Laughter]
But do you blame me for telling that man, "I don't go anywhere without--."
Was that when you were still a freshman?
Yes. Yes, Cotten Hall.
Tell me something about your freshman life. How did you acclimate to living on campus and college as opposed to living in rural Duplin County?
I loved it, loved everything about it. I was enrolled, I thought, in something to become a physical education major, was taking a course, and Leo Jenkins came to me and he said, "Mary Rose, do you want a job when you finish college?" I said, "Yes sir." He said, "Then you don't need to be a PE major because women just can't get jobs in physical education."
Now was he dean at the time?
No, he was not dean, but I got to know him early on. And I changed my major, which was wonderful, and then later I taught two of his children at the training school. Do you know where the training school was?
Are you sure? You tell me.
Are you talking about the one that was up on the hill above campus--I mean above downtown--the model school? Or are you talking about--?
The next one. The model school was up sort of where the library is now. You don't know where the training school was? Okay. Do you know where the performing arts center's located now?
Well that's where that is .
Uh huh. That was the training school, and I taught-.[grade 6 to the students]
I knew it wasn't--.
--two of Leo's children there: the one that lives in Raleigh now, the boy--and his wife was from Greenville--and then the daughter. Is she overseas now, or do you not know?
I haven't had any contact with any of them.
Well Leo would spank your butt if you weren't doing right, and there's kids need that now. [Laughter]
Tell me about your fellow students that you experienced when you first arrived here. It was predominantly female, but what was your experience with the
students as far as adjusting to campus and to college life? You said you didn't have any trouble adjusting and you loved it, but what did you experience with the other students?
I had--. My roommate, we were very fortunate, we had a room on third floor, on the left side going up, and it was probably one of the best rooms in there. Don't ask me how we got it. We had two closets and most of them you had one closet, and then you could overlook the whole area. That was great. She was from Duplin County also, Sybil Davis. And then we met lots and lots of folks because we ate in the cafeteria. Are you aware of where the cafeteria was located? And you'd walk up the steps and you'd wait in line and you're able to carry on conversations with all these wonderful folks. Walter Williams was one of them, and Walter taught in Farmville and then he went into the big business that he's in now. It was great. It was totally different from now. You had to be in, I believe, by 10:30 at night. Doors were locked. I don't believe they're locked at all now, are they?
I doubt it.
So the University just took great care of us.
Did you try to avoid having to sign in and out sometimes?
No, I always enjoyed signing in and out because in Cotten Hall you know how the--it's still there--the waiting area you could sit and you could talk to all these other people who were in there. No, I did not mind signing in and signing out. That truly was a part of your security. People would know where the individual was and what the individual was doing. Now there was the back of those dorms, and you could go in and out that, but if you were to leave campus you must sign out of the front, and I thought that was good. Kids today would [inaudible] because they'd say it's not so. [Laughter]
Well this being not too long after World War II you had a lot of male students coming on the GI Bill. How did that affect life on campus?
Well you just had more men showing up on campus, and when you were in that line to go to the cafeteria to eat you were able to communicate with more males than what we had before. And then you would see them on campus and you would be in class with them. It was a plus, because they knew what they wanted to do. They wanted a better life, to move up into the area of education.
You mentioned the fact that Walter Williams ate in the cafeteria. At that period in time, or I guess later than that, on Sundays you had a lot of townspeople who would come and eat. You want to comment on that?
Mm hmm. It was wonderful seeing these town folks come in and sit, and they would communicate with students, which was a plus. It was a way in which--. It was probably a greater, better influence by having them there and then getting you involved in going to church, which they did. And I did go to Jarvis Church and became a member of Jarvis Church. And I continue to be a member of Jarvis Church because of the big influence of East Carolina University--ECTC. [Laughter]
That's a name that the University's had a hard time living down. It has a negative connotation to it.
Yes. Do you know where the swimming pool was? Do you? Where?
Are you talking about the swimming pool, or the--?
At that time.
We had a swimming pool.
You had one down where the campus joins downtown.
Exactly. That's exactly where the swimming pool was, and you had to take swimming. And it was wonderful to get out there, and then the cars would drive by and see us out there swimming in that pool, taking those classes. It was a great life.
That was before, of course, they had the indoor pools at--
No indoor pools. Yes.
In fact Ray Nez was such a great person. He taught swimming at ECU, and I had a nephew--I'm jumping some now--that attended East Carolina University and he was one of Ray Nez's top EC--East Carolina College-students [swimming] at that time. And then he taught one year, and guess what he decided after that? He went down to Manteo and taught because he loved the water. He came back. He said, "Oh, I have resigned." I said, "What?" "Yeah, I'm going to PharmD school." And he did, in [University of] South Carolina, in Columbia, and today it was good because he went into every aspect of the pharmacy, developed a chain, bought a shopping center. He really went in. But he used his beginning at ECU. I think it was ECU when he was here.
Well, talk about something about the organizations on campus at the time you were there. Was the WYCA still a very active part of life that late?
Not really. Yes and no. Could be or could not be. It was beginning to be, in my later years, of leaving it up to the students.
What about the literary societies? They had been a big thing during the earlier periods: the Poe Society and the Lanier Society. Were they still functioning at that time, or were they--?
Not to a great degree. [but still available]
What organizations were you involved in?
Things were changed in the physical ed into the education, and I had two ladies--and I've forgotten their names--one was in the Greensboro area. I can see her walking on campus now. She died rather recently. But we didn't have--. They were not as strong as they are now. But I was actively involved in all of the things that took place in Wright Auditorium. Do you know where Wright Auditorium is? [Laughter] That was a big affair place then. Yes. Even to the point when we graduated from college, I still see that walking up on the stage. It wasn't off campus--well it's still on campus now--but outside.
Well it was at the end of the campus, pretty much, early on.
Yes. The early football stadium--. Do you know where that was? That was behind the training school sort of down. Went to my first football game and not too many people attended, but it was a great success. Look how it has grown.
Indeed it has.
It has grown--. Look how the entire school has grown. I'm so proud of what all of the people that were in charge of that institution have done to move it on. Leo Jenkins, I can see him right now, he pushed--. Have you been to the Wahl-Coates School? It's Wahl-Coates, down the hill? Well, I probably shouldn't tell you this. Leo was instigator in that continuing to be the Wahl-Coates School for the University. I knew Leo because of my early on with him on campus. And of course I taught at the training school. And then he put up the Wahl-Coates [sign] down the hill, and [when Leo saw it] he flipped his car around on Fifth Street and he came back into it. He saw me. "Mary
Rose, this is not a Pitt County school." So he made a call and they came and took it down. He said, "This still belongs to us."
It was kind of a cooperative venture between the schools and the--.
It was a cooperative venture but it was supposed, according to Leo, to remain the East Carolina school. So he had that thing taken down in a heartbeat. Then he--. Frances Wahl--lived in Arkansas, that's where she was from--was an outstanding principal. And Dora Coates was from Warsaw, not Warsaw, Clinton. Clinton, Faison, Faison, Faison, North Carolina. [Whispered] My mind's coming back. So I knew both of those well, and Leo had these two big gorgeous pictures made of those two ladies--they're there--and he came to me and he said, "Mary Rose, they'll never be marked on or all those kinds of things like you see people doing to important people's pictures." He said, "They're under lock and key. I've already thrown the keys away. Nobody knows where they are but me." They are beautiful. In fact I kept in touch with both of them as long as they lived. In fact from Arkansas her sister called me, and she said, "Mary Rose, I know the two of you communicated constantly. Frances is on her last, and I hate to tell you that." So that was sad, but--.
What other faculty do you remember from your student years? I knew you had contact with many later on in your professional career, but from your student years, what faculty had particular impact on you as a student?
The University faculty.
Bea Chauncey. Do you remember Bea Chauncey, music? Oh, I can see her right now.
And she was on the faculty when you were here as a student?
Uh huh. And she taught music at the training school. Oh, Bea Chauncey was truly outstanding. Yes. And I do not believe that had a principal with the knowledge of dealing with the growing population as we had when we were growing up at ECTC and the training school. Do you understand what I'm saying by that? Do you want to know how I got to go to the training school?
Well, I taught my first four years at Chicod. And after my fourth year, well at Christmas time, my husband and I went to New York and we appeared on a nationwide television show: "The Big Payoff" with Randy Merriman, Bess Myerson. And as soon as I came off the stage I had a telephone call and I thought--. And it was a girl I was in school with living in New York that called, which was wonderful. But that was the beginning I guess, and that was when I got pregnant. So by the end of the school year I was showing a little bit and I said to my principal at Chicod, Fodey Hodges, I said, "Fodey." I'm backing up. You didn't have TV's much then, but Fodey went out and got enough TV's and had everybody in the school [Laughter] watching TV's [Laughter]. To think, then and now, how different it really, really was. But I said, "Fodey, I love Chicod, I really want to come back." He said, "You'll never come back. Somebody else is after you." I said, "Pooh! You wait and see."
So after my daughter was born October the 7th-[I should know her age then.] --I was home from the hospital, second or third day, and I had a call from J.H. Rose. "Mary Stocks, I know who you are. I know everything about you. I'm going to have you. You're going to come to work for me." I said, "Mr. Rose, what in the world
are you talking about?" He said, "You heard me. I'm going to have you." And I said, "Well let me tell you one thing,"--my parents taught me this--"I never go to work for anybody without a contract." "That's no problem." He knew my husband. "You call Mack and you tell him to pick it up on the way home to his lunch. Everything on your contract will be totally filled out. If you don't agree, you let me know. If you agree with everything on there, then you sign it. He's going to bring it back to me." Well, I did it. The next morning I had gotten out of the shower, I had washed my hair, housecoat on, the nanny was there, and I was sitting--lived on Ivory [North Library] Street--and I looked out the window and I said, [Break in recording] "Don't let her in this house. She can't come in this house." It was Allene [Ellen] Carroll, assistant superintendent. So she knocked at the door, [the nanny] made me open the door, she came in and she said, "You can't come in." She said, "Don't tell me I can't come in. I've already seen her. She's washed her hair, she's not dressed, but I've got to see her." That was the way I looked for that. Yeah. I'm thinking the next two or three days I went to work. Can you believe that? But it's wonderful. It was great. How did I ever do that? I don't know. How did J.H. Rose know so much? There are ways to find out about people.
Oh sure, sure there are. When you were--.
If I'm not sticking to the subject, just tell me.
When you--. I'm trying to get you back to your student life as opposed to your professional career some.
Well I can see me sitting in [Dr.] George [C.] Martin's [geography] class. Do you know George, Dr. Martin?
I knew him. Right.
He's ninety-eight years old. He's going on ninety-nine. He lives in my--.
I didn't realize he was still alive.
Oh, yes. He lives in my neighborhood. I had George as a student [geography teacher]. I didn't know him and he didn't know me. He was such an outstanding teacher, and this is really part of my student life. I didn't sit at the front. The class was filled. You sat where you could find a seat, but you sat in that same seat every time. And George would write everything on the board, all of his notes and everything on the board, before you got there, and when he covered all of that, then he would erase it like this, and he started writing with both hands again. And smart students would take those good notes, because you would see those notes again. George played a big influence on my life, on the way that he taught.[as well as a great friend & neighbor] And then after Mack and I were married, we moved to Ivory [Library] Street, 116 North. Two or three days, some person came and knocked at the door. He said, "I know who you are. You probably don't remember me?" I said, "Yeah. You're Dr. Martin." He said, "You can call me George now if you want to." [Laughter] So George, in that geography class, played a big, big influence on me. It was just great. Bea Chauncey was great with the music. It was just all simply awesome. I think I had the best professors over there.
Were any of them, would you consider, mentors that helped you through the rough spots and kind of guided your path, or did you not need anyone to guide your path?
I really didn't, because having gone to Wingate a summer before coming to be involved with a University, or ECTC, I really learned a lot there. In fact--I hate to think that I was a leader--but when I went I learned that it was the dean's birthday.
And who was the dean at that time?
I can't think of her name now, but it was a lady, very nice lady. And I went to--I've forgotten his name too, but he was wonderful--I went to him and I said, "Oh. Don't you think we as a student body need to honor her for her birthday?" And he said, "Well, where would we honor it here in--?" Did you go to Wingate a long time ago? It's grown a lot, tremendously, because it's a university now. I said, "Well, we'll go to Monroe." So I gathered everybody together--we had to have cars for different ones--and we went to Monroe and had that big party.
That's a long ways from Greenville.
No, this was when I was in summer school at Wingate.
Oh, when you were at Wingate.
Yeah, it wasn't too far from Wingate, no, right on out there. Mm hmm. Now that's a big university too. But I was actively involved there also. But every person, every teacher, that I had influenced me. I forget the one--. Who was he? [Dr. Paul A. Toll] Oh God, I ought to know him, because they had bought the house behind the house we lived in [117 N. Eastern Street] and he has died. They say that house--he had no children--will go to the University when his wife-[dies]. Anyway, he had a different personality.
What discipline was he in?
I don't remember, but he was a hard disciplinarian, which was a plus. And I think students need that now.
Laws won't allow them.
How well I know. How well I know. Your wife knows it too. What is going to happen to our children?
Good question. Thinking back to your childhood did many of your peers, the children in the neighborhood then in Duplin County, did many of them go to college? I mean, you--.
No, no, no. They thought you were a kook: going to school? [Disparaging sound] Do you know what I'm saying? You're supposed to stay here on this farm. You're supposed to be on this farm and work. No.
Didn't know whether very many of them wanted to train to be teachers or anything of that nature or had aspirations beyond the farm?
Sybil Davis and I went. We were friends in high school and we roomed together and she's in Wilmington now and I see her two or three times a year. We go to our class reunion.
So the two of you were about the only ones from your neighborhood--
Oh yes. [One more, Dorothy Neal Jackson, now deceased (in Florida).]
--your area of Duplin County who even went to college at that time.
Mm hmm. But that's part of life. I was telling you about my first grade school teacher. May I tell you about her?
I've forgotten what her name was at that time [Ruth Barden Waller], but she was so wonderful. Well I told you about the potbellied stove, and I would go out and bring in the coal. Well we still have the farms, so I went down there--the brothers and
myself--. Well, they're separated now, you know, we each have our own parts. And the fellow that's in charge of them, I was in high school with his daddy, so stopped by to see them. And it was just wonderful to see this old fellow and his wife that I was in high school with. And then the young man, he's married to a lawyer and he takes care of the farmland. And he said, "Mary Rose, you can't leave here without going to see your first grade school teacher." I said, "Okay I'll go." So he took me down there and I walked in and I saw her. She's ninety-eight going on ninety-nine, still has her driver's license, just as active as she can be, just doing great. And she said, "Mary Rose, you've got as much energy as you did when you were in Kindergarten," [Laughter]--or in first grade, we didn't have Kindergarten then--"in first grade."
But she had a sad thing to happen to her. She had four children. The first was a darling little boy, and it was a car or a van, she was backing out of the driveway, and he fell out of the window and she ran over--. Yeah, yeah. Sad, sad, sad. Sad affair. But now she has three wonderful girls. Yes.
Oh yes, but she doesn't look her age, she doesn't act her age, and I will be going back to see her. [Laughter] If you want me to tell you something about a student that I taught at Wahl-Coates, and then I trained him, I'll be glad too.
Okay, that'll be fine. Let me ask you one of these other things here first. Your schooling back home, before you graduated from high school at B.F. Grady and came to East Carolina, do you think that--? How good was the schooling? Did you feel
adequate when you came to college to tackle the course work that you had, or did you find it to be a challenge?
I think to begin with it was a challenge because it was different, but I overcame that in a heartbeat and moved on. And the individual, I think, makes that decision. If you're in a different situation, what are you going to do about the situation? Are you going to stay down, or are you going to move up? I've always been a person that's going to move up, and I have. I've loved my life. I've loved those kids.
Some students find it quite an adjustment to go from the kind of schooling they had in public schools.
It was different.
This was back, of course, some time ago.
It was different--your bathrooms were different, you name it--it was all different. But you've got to be mature enough in any situation to move forward. And the individual, whether it be you or me or someone else, must make that decision to move up and move on. I made that early on. I do want to read you this, now, when you'll let me. It's not a whole thing.
Back in those days, monetarily things were quite a bit different and I know that it didn't take a lot of money to live in a campus setting at that time, but tell us something about what was the monetary situation for a student at East Carolina in the late '40s.
So far as me as an individual, I had no problem with that because of my family. They took care of that.
Was that typical of students, or did you observe others having a difficult time?
I think some did have difficult times, yes.
Once you got an automobile of your own, did you still go home every other weekend, [Laughter] or did you find other--?
For awhile, for awhile. [Laughter] Oh Lord, who was it? His daddy was a doctor. He worked here. [Laughter] He moved--. Oh God, I don't know. I was one of the very few that had a car. But this other gentleman, when he left school he went to Greensboro to work, but he died early on. But I can see--. He had his car, he'd loan his to anybody, but that was one thing my parents had said: "Nobody drives this car but you." And nobody drove that car but me.
And that made you very popular, having an automobile on campus, didn't it?
They knew I had one, [Laughter] yes. I did go home some, yes. And sometimes I would take people home with me and they would enjoy it. They'd see the countryside.
Talk some about the restrictions on campus for a female at that time--dress codes or having to sign in and out to leave the dorm--what--?
Well I had no problem with it. Some people did, but I found no problem with following the directions. Yes, you had the dress code. We should have had a dress code. And at that time the schools were smaller. ECU's beyond that now. It would be good if the students could be maintained today in the same way we were. Yes, you could go, but you sign out, and you'd better sign in. I think we had to be in at 10:30, but you don't wait until 10:30 to come because the doors are locked.
But you couldn't be downtown--
--at night by yourself, or even with--?
With anybody, uh uh. Could not be out by yourself, no. Kares'--. Were you here and knew about Kares'? Well when Mack and I, we'd walk downtown. We wouldn't drive downtown, because I had to take care of that car. We'd ride occasionally, but we'd walk to Kares'.
Did you marry while you were a student?
Just before I graduated.
But y'all were courting all that time?
Well off and on, and I was going with others, and then the boys from my home were coming up to see me. Two of them were from home at the same time. They didn't know they were coming, so I had Mack up at the front door [inaudible] . [Laughter] I see [it right now] . But those two that were at the back doors have died. My husband just died too last year. But, it was a great time. Cotten--what was the next one over? And then I saw the buildings begin to build.
Was it Fleming, or--?
Yeah, Fleming. And then--. Lived down the street [North Library] from me--taught his children--and he lived in the block below us. Arts Center. Who is it? Is it the Art Center on Fifth Street? Wellington Gray, yeah, Wellington Gray. Had him, knew his two kids. Let's see, one of his kids [Brian] now still lives here in the area.
Do you have a--? Go ahead.
They lived in the block below us, so we were a family too, so at that time you were family with the professors and their families, like George Martin. It's a different time, but that's what life is about. It's different. You move on.
You mentioned Wright Building and of course Cotten dorm and others. You haven't said anything about the old Austin Building. Did that make an impression on you as a student?
Oh, I loved Austin. Yes, yes. I had a professor [Dr. Paul A. Toll]--and they'd built it over on the Tenth Street area--and you didn't have but ten minutes to get there and you'd better be there. He would lock the door at 8:00 or 9:00. Nobody got in his class. So you would run, if you were at that end of campus, to get where you were--. You wouldn't be late. I liked that part of it. I'm sorry, I just don't remember all the names of my professors, but my God, they were--.
No one can.
They were all so wonderful. You were part of the family. And in a small situation, it can be that way.
More so than it can at a school of twenty-six thousand.
You can't do it now. You can't do it now, not the way things have got. Oh no. No, no, no. It has--.
Go ahead with the--.
This is a student that I taught sixth grade and then I trained him to be a teacher. And I received this letter from him after my husband died, and he's in Kuwait. He worked at a school system up in the middle of the state. I think he retired and then he went to Kuwait and he is in the American school program there, making all that money
and not paying any tax. I hate to tell him that. "Three one two oh oh eight, 10:38 am. Dear Miss Stocks, I'm sorry to hear about your husband. I had suspected something was wrong. Life is a sad affair, losing loved ones being probably the saddest thing of all." And this paragraph--. He's an artist too. And now I'm going to read you the last paragraph. You wouldn't be interested--. He's writing a book. "I think it's quite a remarkable achievement that you contributed to the lives of Greenville youth and the public schools for fifty-six years. I'm certainly glad I had the privilege of being both a student and a student teacher under your guidance. Both times are counted as among my fondest and most rewarding periods. I have cherished such a loving lady to guide me both as a child and as an adult."
Very nice. [Laughter]
That's more like the child in him coming out. [Reference to picture?]
Yeah, uh huh. There's always an artist with this. But I think so much of that. I called my daughter in Memphis, Tennessee and I read her the first paragraph and she said, "It makes me want to cry." And I have on this: "Super letter, keep, read at my funeral when I die, highlighted areas." You saw the highlighted areas. Because a student like that, somebody touched that child's life, touched that child's life. And he deserves a parade, because he has done so much for himself and has moved on in life and does not mind sharing to let an individual know how much they have meant to him. Isn't that wonderful, that he would take the time, where he lives--and of course he's writing a book and all that--.
But I did love each child that I ever worked with. When we were doing that, I could not believe it--. Apparently two or three of these people work at ECU now, because after I had finished my speech--it was over in one of the buildings over here afterwards--and this girl came to me before, and she said, "You probably don't know who I am,"--and I'm sure she must work for the University now--and she said, "Miss Stocks, you were the greatest person that taught me in training school." She says, "I see you now. You never sat." I was not a sitter, because if I'd see something, I wouldn't yell across the room, I'd just walk over, and it takes care of itself. And she said, "One day I was crying and I put my head down, and you came over and you said, 'What can I do to help?'" She said, [Spoken as though she is crying] "Miss Stocks, I started my period and it's all coming out down here." I said, "Honey, don't you worry about that." So I gave a student teacher, I said, "Take charge of the class. I'm going with her." And she just went in to--. She says, "You will never know how wonderful it was, the way in which you handled that and you talked to me about it." And I had right many situations like that.
Well now, how long were you at the training school?
You know, I went there--. [My first four years were at Chicod School. All the other years were at the Training School until Wahl-Coate was built on East Fifth Street. At the time of retirement, I was voluntary coordinator for Wahl-Coates, South Greenville and Sadie Saulter.] I was the youngest thing there. Did I tell you that? I told my husband, after I had agreed to go, that I didn't--. I said, "These teachers are the ages of my mother. Some are older." "Will you go a year--?" I did. I repeat: it was the most wonderful experience. There was Myrtle Park. Did you know Myrtle? She was like--. She was the age of my mother. She was like my mother. She just guided and directed
me, as the other teachers did, and it just went well. Don't ask me how I fitted in with those folks. [Laughter]
Well now, was this when you were a student teacher, or--
--when you were hired as a teacher?
That's when I was hired as a teacher. I did student teaching there under Elsie Eagan. Elsie's dead now. In fact, when I did student teaching--. I probably shouldn't tell this. Elsie's little boy, who's done so well, he lives in--somewhere out west, I've forgotten where, because he took his mama to live with him. He took his sister, Johnnie, to live with him, and his mama has died. But he was in first grade. I had the car, don't forget, [Laughter] and she said, [Whispering] "Mary Rose, you can take him home every day at lunch for me." I think they maybe just went a half a day. So I'd take him home and I'd come right back to school, which was great. But you do it for others, and you help others. Elsie was a wonderful, wonderful person. They all were, and Myrtle Clark; awesome. Her room was next to mine and we shared a workroom. We called them workrooms then. For four years we were at Chicod and the rest were at the training school, Wahl-Coates, down the hill, so that would give you--. And I graduated in August 15th--. I graduated in three years. Graduated high school in three years. Was it the 16th, or was it the 17th? I don't know. It might have been the 15th.
And I'll tell you another reason I did that. My husband worked with the railroad, the Norfolk and Southern here. I don't think he had started back to school--. He'd been to Carolina a year, and that's a far piece to be in school away from Greenville, so he came back after a year and he worked for the Norfolk and Southern railroad and that's
where he retired from. And then he did other things, but--. I graduated. It was on a Friday. All my folks were there, and Mack's folks were there. I could hardly wait for them to get out of the house so we could go to Carolina Beach. [Laughter] Can you imagine that? So they finally all left, and I remember that night the men wanted to go to the boardwalk by themselves, so we ladies--we all had a big house together--"Yeah, y'all go on up there, and we'll stay here," which we did. The next morning, at 6:00, I heard somebody knocking at the front door. And we were in one of the front bedrooms, so I jumped up. It was two cops, and they were asking for my husband, Mack Stocks. And I said, "Mack, what did y'all do at the boardwalk last night?" "Nothing, nothing. What are you talking about?" I said, "There's two cops out there asking for you. What have you done?" "Nothing." So we got to the door and they said, "We're here to tell you that your foster father, Jesse Mills, was killed in the line of duty"--he was a policeman here in town--"at 4:00 am this morning [August 15]. So you and Mary Rose get your things together, and we're going to escort you through town, and then all the other towns will be waiting for you to get to Greenville so you don't have to make any stops." So he said, "See, I didn't do anything last night." [Laughter] My husband was a foster child. His mother died--. His daddy died at forty-two of a heart attack and his mother died five months later of childbirth.
And the Mills were related to him and they took him. But he went back to college, got his master's, and then he retired from the railroad, and then he went into the stock market. He was an agent. And then, of course at that time--. He was in Charlotte. He was hither and yonder. And then he was--. I'm jumping now. When he went home
to ask for my hand in marriage--. He said, "Mary Rose I want you to marry me." And I said, "Let me tell you one thing. I will never marry anybody without them going through my family first." He said, "What?" I said, "You heard me." He said, "Okay, we'll go home." He drove my Chevrolet home. We were sitting around that big pot bellied stove in the back. Then he finally got up the nerve and my mother, after he said--. She said, "You don't want Mary Rose." He said, "What are you talking about, I don't want her?" She said, "She doesn't know how to cook. She's never had to cook in her life." He said, "Well she doesn't have to. I know how to cook." See he was a cook, he really was. He was great, along with all the other things he did. And then he had--. Did you go to East Carolina? Do you remember the restaurant that was on Charles Street in the area where you turn to go up [1:02:36] of Charles Street, the railroad track? You know the railroad track that comes up above and your streets--.
Oh yeah, yeah. There was a two-story building and there was a restaurant, right.
Exactly. That was my husband's [Huey's].
I'd almost forgotten all about that.
Yes, yes. No, I didn't work in there. I didn't know anything about it. But do you remember the--? They had a ballgame here and one of the players--I forgot where they were from--said to my husband, he says, "I just feel really strange about going back. I just don't know." But anyway, their plan crashed and they were all killed.
Right, Marshall. They were all killed. Yep, my husband was--. And then the University bought it.
And then of course my husband's health really started going to pot. He was eighty-four, up in the eighties, and had that big--. It was the Easter holidays, and he was in the kitchen cooking [Laughter] and he came back there where I was and he said, "Mary Rose, I'm having a heart attack." I said, "Well let me feel of you and see." I said, "Oh, you'll be all right. Get your butt on back out in that kitchen and cook." He went in there and in ten minutes he came back and he said, "Damn it! I told you, I'm having a heart attack. Get in that car and drive me to the hospital." I said, "No, we're going to call 911." "No! You're driving me." Well here we go to the hospital. He said, "Don't you stop at a light." I said, "No need of two of us dying." So I stopped when I had to. So yes, they saw him--Rosemary was in medical school then--and yes, he did have a heart attack. They did some procedure they thought would do him some good, and we had a lot of people sitting in the waiting room waiting. And then the doctor that was doing it came and said, "I need to speak with Mary Rose and Rosemary." I said, "Ah! Go on and tell them how wonderful it is. He's doing great." He said, "I repeat." Rosemary said, "Mama, come on." Of course she understood because she was already in medical school. And he said, "There goes your daddy right now with Chitwood." Chitwood did a great job on him, but Chitwood told him then--afterwards--he said, "Mack, your lungs will kill you." And Mack said, "What are you talking about?" He said, "Your lungs--. Did you smoke?" "Yeah." He said, "Your lungs are loaded." It was January, 2007. But that was part of life. He had a great life, had a great life. So you probably ate some of his food. [Laughter]
Yeah, I had forgotten all about the restaurant even being there.
Well it was a two-story building. Yeah, uh huh. And the downstairs was--. And college kids lived upstairs.
Yeah, I never went upstairs.
Well I didn't either, but they lived upstairs. But yes, it always kind of bothered him, that student not feeling good, and then the plane went down. He had a premonition, the student did. Lord have mercy, I feel like I've talked you to death and--. Here, you might like to read this. Or do you want me to read it to you?
I have a copy of that.
No, I don't think you've got this.
No, I don't think you do, because this came from the "Panorama," the other "Panorama." "Panorama's" not from you, it's from State. [Pause, papers rustling] Because I was a lobbyist--.
Is that it?
Yeah, you got it, yeah. How'd you get that?
I sent it to you?
--sent it to Larry, or someone.
Yeah, by Larry. Larry lives across the street from me. They are great folks. They're away right now. You know that. So you know I was a lobbyist. Honey, what
have I not done? I can't believe it. In fact I was going to tell you that--. I brought this for you to see from the governor. [Laughter]
I saw where you had received the Order of the Longleaf Pine. What specific events led to that?
All my work with the school system.
Culmination of your work with the public schools?
Yes, uh huh. And this took place at the Wahl-Coates School down--. In fact the principal and the superintendent came to me--Dr. Priddy--and he said--. Well she did the principal. I don't remember how they did it. They said, "We're going to be going to Raleigh," and they didn't say why. And I said, "What do you mean, we're going to Raleigh?" I said, "Am I driving? I'll be glad to drive my car." And they said, "Well, we'll see." So the principal said, "Okay now, be sure you're at school," because at that time I was going from different schools. And she said, "Be sure you're back here by 8:30." I said, "Well I won't go anywhere else except right here that day." And I said, "My car will be available. We can drive it." Well, guess what? Got there, Dr. Priddy was there, and she was there, and she said, "Mary Rose, get out there and just walk around. [Laughter] Take care of some of your energy." So I said, "Okay." But she said, "Be back here at--." So I was back there at. Dr. Priddy said, "Oh, it's time for us to go," and I said, "Okay. Am I driving?" and they said, "Well, I don't know. We've got to go over here and take care of something first." It was to the auditorium. So here we went to the auditorium, and they said, "You go first," opened the door, and it was the entire school--I cannot believe it--plus other dignitaries. I just froze. And the superintendent said, "Mary Rose, walk." I said, "Walk where?" Down the aisle, from the door to the
aisle, and I stopped. "Mary Rose, walk!" I said, "Where am I walking?" "You're going to walk all the way down the aisle to the stage." So I got down to the stage and I stopped, and they said, "No! Walk up on the stage." And it was everybody. But I was in total shock. It was a big, big, big, big time affair there. Then when it was over, I had to stay for interviews and talk and do all this that and the other, and I said, "Well we've got to go, because you know, I'm driving to Raleigh. I'm taking us." And they said, "Well, okay." And the kids were out by this time and the people that were doing the interviewing on the stage were finishing up so they said, "Come on. Let's go now." So here we go out. Do you think I was shocked when I got out there? Do you know where the kids were? You know the circular driveway? They had circled the driveway, and the extended limo. Here I'm in shock again. [Laughter] That's what we went to Raleigh in [Laughter] to the governor and all of that. It was truly a nice, nice affair.
And I haven't been back, but they took pictures. The governor had them all taken and he said it would be on display in, he said, a certain building. I've got to go back sometime to see if I'm up there.
I'm sure you are. [Laughter]
But I was really an extremely fortunate individual to have lived the life that I've lived, to have a great family that I've got, and my two wonderful children that have become adults. And they both graduated from ECU and you know Rosemary's a medical doctor and my son's a doctor of pharmacy in Maui. So I'm very fortunate. They got their lives together and moved it on.
That's not always the case.
Yeah, I know. As your wife must have told you, my nephew--not my nephew, my brother's grandson--is still down in that hospital. She told you about that? Drinking. Two people were killed in Kinston, and he was airlifted here. I was over there all morning. My daughter called me just before we left the house to come over here. She said, "Mother, I want to tell you something. You cannot become overstressed about Stephen. You didn't do that to him. You're family, you've got to show your support, but you cannot become reactive. You've got to sleep at night." Well she was telling me right, and I said, "Well I just get up a couple of times to go to the bathroom." She said, "I know, you drink your water." She said, "You drink two or three glasses of water before you go to bed." And she said, "Drink your water now so you won't have to get up tonight." [Laughter]
Do you still have family in Duplin County, family farm still there?
Oh yeah, farms are still there. Mm hmm, mm hmm. Go back to the church reunion every year. I went--I think it was in January--this year after I'd gotten back home. And of course everyone had known about--. They knew Mack because we were married in that church. And you'll laugh at this one. One of the boys that I was dating was big time in that church too. His parents--. You know how you used to visit? So when I left his--it would have been his cousin--he said, "Now don't forget Foy." I said, "You know I didn't." I said, "When he was forty-two years old and he was in bed in the hospital dying of cancer, you do know I went to see him." He said, "Yeah, I know you went to see him." And I said, "I can see him sitting up there smiling right now." I said, "That's the way I remember him." And the other one died young also. Mack outlived them all; terrible, terrible young deaths.
Do you have any other recollections of student life here at EC or anything pertaining to your curriculum or your student days?
Well, as for my student days, we would have some basketball practice in the late afternoons or nights, and I was one of the ones who would always be over there practicing and playing basketball, even though there was nothing really for girls to do other than get over there and play. And then some of the other professors would get us together in Wright Auditorium and there were things that we would do there together.
Well now, was there an actual female basketball team?
No, no, no.
Just, you'd get together and shoot hoops more or less?
Shoot hoops, kind of boring. Because it really wasn't--. No, no women, but the men.
You'd have to wear a long coat over your shorts, or whatever you were playing basketball in, to get to the gym didn't you?
Mm hmm, mm hmm. Oh yes, that was just part of life. Yes. That was part of it. I can see me walking right now from Cotten dorm to Wright in the circle with the water fountain--. Is it still there, the water fountain? It's all right there. I have great memories. [Laughter] I have great memories of that, I really do. And you're familiar with that. [Showing picture]
Uh huh. And I'll let you look at that. These are my children, this one and this one. And I--. Tell you about him: He went to East Carolina and dropped out, came home. We didn't fuss with him.
Is this a brother, or--?
My boy, in his first year. His daddy said, "Don't worry about it Mary Rose. I'll get him a job." He did, at the King and Queen. Did you know where the King and Queen was? Went to the manager, he said, "Oh yeah Mack. You know I will." Guess what he did? Put him washing dishes one day, and guess what he gave him the next day? Keys to the restaurant. He came home and I said, "Mack, are you sure?" "Yeah, W.C. gave him--." "Mack!" So W.C. called the house and he said, "He's really good at what he's doing." He didn't stay there, but then he went to culinary--. He wanted to go to culinary school. I said, "Oh, hell." So I said, "But you're not going anywhere. It's going to be the best." So I came back over to ECU and I talked to them. They said there's two: one's in California, one's in Hyde Park, New York. So I told him and he went to the one in Hyde Park, New York and graduated number one in the class. We got there and he said, "Oh, I forgot to tell y'all. I'm number one in the class. I'm leading everybody in today, and you will be behind all the professors, and there will be special seats for you all, and I'm the speaker."
But he worked in the industry four years in Florida, and guess what? He called and he said, "Mother, there's more to life than eating, sleeping, making money--and I've made lots of money--and going to the bank." And I thought, "Oh, God." I said, "Well what?" He said, "They don't want me to leave here," because he was tops. He said, "But I've already enrolled in ultrasound school." I said, "Ultrasound?" He said, "Yeah." And then he did his residency in that at Tampa General when Rosemary was there doing part of her--. They wanted to keep him at Tampa General. He said, "No, I've been turned on to higher academics." So then he came back, and a lot of his courses that he'd taken, you
know, would transfer. And he went to the kindergarten program--you're familiar with their half-day program they have here for the children--and he went there, and his teacher that he had-[Dr. Jannis Shea]. He climbed a tree and she said, "Come down." He said, "Come after me." So she left him alone. Eventually he did come down. So when he came back to ECU he had registered for all of his courses and this and that, and she was the first professor to go to. And he knew he was going to have her. He said, "Ah, she won't know me. I've grown so tall." So he kind of sat behind somebody so she wouldn't see him, but she knew he was in there. To begin the class she said, "By the way, I would like to talk with my class and I would like to tell you there's an extremely important person in this class. Mack Stocks, will you stand up?" He said, "Mother, I like to have died. I didn't know she would ever remember me." I said, "Mack, people remember. Don't you ever forget that, boy." Anyway, PharmD, so he's really-- [doing great at the hospital in Hawaii]. [Recording cuts off here.]
[End of Interview]
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I met Mrs. Stocks yesterday at the Greenville Mall. I had the most wonderful conversation with her, including many of the things mentioned in the article. I cam home and "Googled" her name and was delighted to find this article about her life. I found Mrs. Stocks so very interesting and just so enjoyed speaking with her. I, too, am a Stocks, I attended ECU, my father, too, worked for Norfolk Southern, and, my son attends to Wahl-Coates School!! So we had much to talk about!! She is an incredible lady and pleasure to spend time with. Thank you for sharing this article of her interview. Amber Stocks
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