|Transcript of Mr. Mark Meltzer Interview|
|Interviewee:||Mr. Mark Meltzer|
|Interviewer:||Donald R. Lennon|
|Date of Interview:||May 6, 2008|
|Location of Interview:||Greenville, NC|
|Length:||One mp3 file, approximately 51 minutes|
This is Donald Lennon. I am conducting an interview with Mr. Mark Meltzer in Greenville, North Carolina, on May the 6th, 2008, for the ECU Centennial Oral History Project. Okay Mark. Tell me about your background and where you were from originally and something about your family.
Okay. I am second generation, the grandson of a Jewish immigrant. He drug his wife, his pregnant wife, across Poland and Germany and came to the United States, and both my mom and dad were both born here. And it was decided early on that I was going to college. And there was no doubt in anybody's mind that I was going to go.
They settled here in Greenville?
No, they lived in New York City. After World War II they had gone to Florida to see if there was economic opportunity, if they could make a living down there, and they decided to stay in New York and they went into the restaurant business. When I graduated high school I think my dad's hope was that I would go to Cornell University in
food management or restaurant management program but I chose a different route, so I came to East Carolina.
Well how did you know about East Carolina?
Through my high school guidance counselor. It was kind of unique because everybody in our high school graduating class--there were two hundred, I think a hundred and ninety-seven graduated--and everybody went to college, either two year or four year, but most of us went. And when I went in for my interview with my folks I carried a map of the United States and a protractor, and I said, "I want to go to school anywhere outside a five hundred mile radius, and here are some things that I want." I wanted to be a history teacher so it had to offer a BS in history. So he found a number of schools, and I applied here and I came here. And when I applied there was only supposed to be twenty-three hundred people here and when I got here it was like sixty-eight hundred and the ratio was still pretty heavy female to male.
Well your guidance didn't know anything about East Carolina. He did--.
He had been down. He had come down and he had actually seen the school and had taken photographs. And a couple of my classmates, he had carried them, and they got in, after I had already applied. But I was already coming. I had already made my mind up. I had read enough and I made my mind up I was coming.
Now are you an only child?
No I have a younger brother who is now deceased.
And so when you came to Greenville, after living your whole life in New York, [Laughter] was there much of a culture shock?
There was, getting used to the small town. But Lynbrook, New York is not very far from Rockville Centre, New York where Doris Goodwin Kearns [sic] is from, and I grew up in the same environment that she did, basically suburbia right outside New York City. But all the shop keepers knew you. It's still a small town environment. And my high school, I went from a New York City high school of nine thousand to a Long Island high school of less than a thousand, so I adjusted very well to Greenville. The food differences were a problem to start with, but over the years as Greenville's grown, you have got more choices. And I fell in love with ECU.
Well when you first came there weren't that many choices. [Laughter]
No, it's kind of funny, because my dad was in the restaurant business and when we stayed at the motel that was out on Memorial Drive at the time, we went in for dinner and--I'll never forget--he asked the waitress for a scotch and water and she said, "It's Sunday, and we don't serve mixed drinks, and we can't serve you anything on Sunday unless you bring it in yourself." And he looked at me and said, "I guess you're coming to the right town."
[Laughter]And when you enrolled they brought you down, I take it?
Uh huh, they brought me down.
Did you get homesick very quickly?
No. It was kind of funny. At the time there weren't but so many Yankees in school here. And on the weekends--since East Carolina was known as a suitcase college when we didn't play football--all the kids from up north all became friends. So that's who you palled around with. My roommate was from Sanford and his dad was a World War II marine fighter pilot, who was still in the service and a colonel. And he
would take me to Sanford every once in a while, so, I mean, we adjusted very well. I made a lot of friends here.
That's great. Well now, there was not a synagogue in the Greenville area at the time--.
We went to Kinston.
Kinston, okay. Was there much of a Jewish community in Greenville itself--
There was a small one.
--among students, or--?
There was a small group of students. A lot of us all wound up in the same fraternity and during the holidays the families like the Brodys and the Blooms would take you in and made sure that you got holiday meals and that kind of stuff.
What did your parents think of you coming this far away from New York for your schooling as you decided to go? Were they happy with your choice, or would they rather you had been closer--?
No, I think they adjusted, because I was brought up to be an independent thinker, and I think they adjusted, because my dad said he wasn't going to send me to California, to Texas. I couldn't go to Florida. I couldn't go to Alabama or Louisiana, but he was pretty happy once I made a choice. And after I'd been here awhile I guess he made his mind up that I probably was not going to go back home to live. But they adjusted, and they came down a number of times when I was in school down here.
And did you get back up there very often, on major holidays or--?
We went on major holidays: Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Easter time.
Well at that time--. Now were you living in the dorms, or--?
I lived in Jones dorm. That was a freshman dorm when I first got here. Interesting story: the rooms were built for two but they put a third one in there. And my third roommate--we didn't have one to start with--and it turned out his name was Shirley, and they wound up assigning him to Umstead dorm because they thought he was a girl, and Umstead dorm the year before had been a male dorm. And they quickly moved him in with us into Jones. And then I stayed in Scott dorm for one quarter and then I moved in the fraternity house.
What kind of the--for the period that you were in the dorms--what--? They normally, I think at that time, most of the dorms closed during holidays and things, didn't they?
They did, and we went home. We went home or my roommate, Jack Campbell, took me to Sanford with him the one holiday that we didn't go home. His mom and dad treated me just like I was family.
And you came with the intention of being a history major from the beginning?
I did, and when I first got here you were a social studies major. And then they divided it out--I might have been a sophomore--and they gave you a choice either to stay with the social studies degree or to switch, whichever worked out to be in your favor, because there were some differences in the catalog. But I made my mind up so I switched to history with a minor in political science.
Who among the faculty turned out to be your mentors?
Well there was Dr. Todd, Herbie Paschal, Hugh Wease, and there was another gentleman, he's deceased. He was a political science man. I just cannot remember his name [Herbert Carlton]. And he and I served together on a--. I should remember it. I served on an ECU Educational University Scholars program selection committee for a number of years, and I ran into him one year. But those were the ones. They took care--. And we were small, East Carolina was small, then, and I was impressed when I went that I always had PhDs for professors and not like--. A lot of my friends that stayed in the bigger schools up north all had graduate assistants as professors those first two years. I always felt I got a really quality education here.
Well tell me something about the classroom sizes and the reactions of other students to the classroom situation.
When I first got here, every class I was in was relatively small except for English 1, which was jam-packed. But all the other classes, you learned to be here on time. The professors, everybody got to know your name and knew who you were. And I think the largest class I had as an undergraduate was probably music appreciation, that was in the big auditorium, but other than that everything else was small, you know? That's why I keep saying I got a quality education when I was here.
Tell me about some of the faculty members that you were particularly impressed with.
Herbie Paschal really impressed me, because when I had him for North Carolina history you had to do an original research paper, and I had done mine on the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence. I was--. Let's see. I was probably a junior at the time. I did all my research, I turned the paper in, and I was convinced that that
thing was real, that it really existed, and the next day after I turned the paper in his lecture was that it was a hoax. So I figured I was a dead dog in his class. He said, "No." He said, "I'm just impressed with the research you did." And the man that's now the historian of the University.
Henry Ferrell. I had Henry, and I did one of my papers for him on the Battle of Leyte Gulf, and he was--. I always enjoyed Henry. And Hugh Wease was one that put your nose to the grindstone and kept it there.
Now did you get a teaching degree?
Yeah, I have a BS in history.
And so Hugh was in charge of student teaching.
He was in charge of student teaching. [Break in recording]
And so Hugh was in charge of the student teaching.
Yeah, he was the one that taught the methods course at the time, and that was an eye opener. Believe it or not Hugh and I became friends because we were also in Civitan together for a number of years. And he's just--. I always felt that he was a dedicated teacher and looked out for his students.
Anything else about your major that comes to mind as far as the work you did or the faculty?
Richard Todd was here at the time, and he was an expert on I guess the banking system of the Civil War, and he was just a character. Would stand with you in the hall and tell jokes, and if you had him in class you knew he knew his stuff. And there was one gentleman I know that we had for South American history.
Probably Wilkins Winn.
One before him [Albert Decker]. He's another one who just absolutely knew his stuff. I did not have a person in the history department that did not know their stuff. I mean, if you didn't understand something and you needed extra help, they got it for you. They made sure. I enjoyed the history department. I enjoyed the political science department too. And I just had a ball as an undergraduate. I fell in love with this place.
So you didn't find any adjustment factor at all, going from big city schools to southern--?
No, no. There was a little language difference, you know, to start with. Everybody picked on us--.
You mean speaking "southern"?
Yeah, everybody picked on you because you had a Yankee accent, but I mean I fell--. I'm one of the people that came to East Carolina, fell in love with this place, and I have a real passion for this school.
Now I know you got involved in organizations as a student. Tell me about that.
I did. Let me see. I was in the student government. I ran for vice president of the student government association and got beat. That was a learning experience. I served on the men's honor council; the dean's advisory council; I was president of the fraternity house; I think I was vice president of the inter-fraternity council; chaired the film committee at one time; just stayed involved. And I'll tell you one of the people who really had an impact on my life is Dr. Leo Jenkins. He gave the keynote speech when my
fraternity was formally inducted--when Alpha Epsilon Pi was formally inducted--at East Carolina. And he gave us that maximum citizen speech, and that has stayed with me my entire life, that people need to get involved: you need to coach softball or Little League or run church groups, or civic clubs, and all those kinds of things. And that has stayed with me my entire life, and I believe that service to humanity is the best work of life.
That's great. Did you have much contact with Dr. Jenkins other than--?
Yeah, I did, and this is an interesting story. I was picked on in an economics class. I thought about this. There were a couple of Jewish kids in the class at the time, a couple of Yankees, and he picked on us, the professor picked on us. Well I had gone to Dean Mallory and lodged a complaint. Well Dean Mallory sent me over to talk to Dr. Jenkins, and I explained the situation to Dr. Jenkins, because I had already met him, and when I went back to class there was an apology from the professor and then he turned around and picked on us again. And at that point, most of the class got up and left and when he asked them where they were going they said, "We're going to file a formal complaint." And so I joined my classmates the second time, and the professor was let go, or his contract was not renewed again. So I was really proud of the administration here and my fellow students, some of which are still life-long friends.
Interesting. That's impressive.
Well go on ahead about organizations and how that impacted on your college life.
Let's see. I was president of the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity, and I was a fraternity person probably the entire time I was here, and I got to know an awful lot of
people who we are still friends with. Plus my life-long friends are most of my fraternity brothers. We still keep in contact. They come down for fraternity weekend, for football weekends, and we just maintained--. And it made--. It gave you extra responsibilities because you had to learn how to budget finances, and spend money, and do all those kind of things, and clean up, and organize things, and I think it just--. It impacted my life and it made college so much more fun, because you were a part of everything. And I believe the more that you're involved the more successful you're going to be, in the classroom and out of the classroom. And I always kept in contact with Mr. Jim Mallory. I thought that he was one unique individual and was probably a super dean of men. He knew how to handle folks. He could talk to students and he could talk to administrators. I'll never forget when he told me that when they were redrawing the job description, the requirements for his job, that he never would have qualified for that job to start with.
Most of us fell into that as time passed.
And I felt that he was one gem of an individual, plus an outstanding baseball coach.
Yeah, I was going to ask you: where did your involvement with baseball come in? Did you play while you were here?
No, I did not. I was not--. Flat out, I just wasn't good enough. But I've had a passion for sports my whole life, and when I first started going to East Carolina baseball games, even when my wife and I, who I'm married to now--been married for thirty-seven years to Nancy--when we first started going to East Carolina baseball games maybe there was twenty-five or thirty fans watching, and then maybe on a big game there
might have been a hundred and fifty, and now look at the thousands that we have attending a baseball game.
Now was Mallory coaching baseball at that time or was Earl Smith?
Jim Mallory had given it up in 1961 and Earl Smith had come along. Here's a funny story: I collect baseballs, and I've been trying to get Earl Smith to sign a baseball every time he comes to Greenville. Somehow I've missed him. He was up here two weeks ago and I didn't know it, and we ran into him at Professor O'Cools . And so I got Earl to sign a baseball for me, and it turned out that of the 1961 team there were thirteen players. Eleven of them are alive. Nine of them were at the table eating dinner and I got all nine of those to sign the baseball. And Earl Boykin was on that team, and Earl and I got to be friends serving on the Pirate Club executive committee. So Earl came over to talk to me and that's when I went out to the car to get a baseball.
Earl Smith should be getting kind of old.
Is he that old? Wow.
But his mind still works good. He still--.
I always had a good relationship with him.
He's another one of those top notch people that were here.
And so it was at that time that you got involved in baseball when you were a student, attending the games, and a fan.
Yeah, and we went to football. And after I graduated, I continued my relationship with the University, because I lived here in Greenville. So it was easy to come to football and easy to come to baseball games when I could, because I worked at
West Craven High School for thirty years. So it's a little difficult when you've got high school responsibilities to--. All your weekends are not yours.
Surprised they didn't tap you to coach baseball.
No. Actually I did play by play for the football over the PA system at the football stadium.
Okay. Well tell us more about your life at East Carolina as a student.
Let's see. My graduate degree's here too, and my graduate degree is in guidance and counseling. Dr. James Batten was the person in charge of the School of Ed, and I had him for research and he had gotten to know me. When I went to sign up for the research course--because I didn't take it the first quarter in graduate school, I took it the second--I asked for Tuesday night and he gave me Friday night. And I said, "Why are you giving me Friday night?" And he said, "Because I want to keep you from going downtown,"--because at that time I was a full time graduate student--and he said, "I want to keep you from going downtown and having a good time and getting in trouble." So I was in the Friday night class. He was another very bright individual, and he had his formula for doing the research, the statistics, and at that time I was also taking a number of psychology courses and they taught me a simpler way to do it. When I turned my paper in to Dr. Batten I'd used the psychology department's formulas, and he gave me the paper back and said, "I want you to do it using my formula." And back then the calculators were those old Monro ones in the School of Ed, and when you put your figures in and you hit the bar and it would start to calculate, you could go outside, actually go to dinner, and come back and it might be finished. But when I turned it back
into him, he and I became friends, and when Nancy and I were flying out of Greenville probably twenty-five years later, we were on the same plane and he called me by name.
Yeah, he could do that. He and Dr. Todd both could remember names.
Yep. And Dr. Batten was one of the ones that fought for me, because I was in the counselor ed program and you had some leeway on your psychology courses, and I wanted to take a particular course and the clinical psych department did not want me to take that course, because they felt I didn't have the background for it. They finally agreed with Dr. Batten going to bat for me. Monty Hedges was the professor and he knew that I had to learn not only the course that he was doing but the two previous courses all at the same time, and when it came to exam time everybody else in that class was a second year clinical person and they were all exempt from the exam because they all had A averages and I didn't, and I had to take that exam. He was real proud of me because I got an A in the course.
So I found out at East Carolina that you could challenge yourself and they would go along with you. And the people I that I had in counselor education: Frank Fuller and Dr. Nixon. I thought Dr. Nixon was one of those rare southern gentlemen, and I asked him one day, "Are you the Dr. Nixon that's in the textbook in the footnotes that you're credited for this research?" He said, "Yes I am." He said, "Most students don't read footnotes." And I said, "Yeah, but I started out as a history major and I learned to read footnotes." And to this day I still do.
I don't remember him. I knew Frank Fuller, but--.
Yeah, well Frank was a gem. He was here forever. He came here after World War II, went to school on the GI Bill. And Bill Martin--I had Bill Martin too--and Bill Martin is still a gem to this day. And he's another one that believes in being involved and serving the community, with mental retardation and everything else. I mean I was exposed to some really good people.
That's fantastic. That's what you want. [Laughter] What was it like in the community back at that period in time--talking about going downtown on a Friday night--what was Greenville like?
Greenville was small. I mean, it was Five Points. Most of it was downtown, located downtown. There was restaurants and bars and that kind of stuff. To this day I still do business with some of the people that I started doing business with when I was an undergraduate. Just a couple to point out: Lautares Jewelers. It's changed hands. George and Esther were just two tremendous friendly people, and I continued to do business with them well until they gave up the business to Billy Pate. It's not been that long ago. I bet they've only been retired about ten or twelve years. I still do business with Steinbeck's. The people that ran the Old Town Inn were Greek folks and they gave you a quality meal at a reasonable price back then. It was like, I don't know, a dollar and ten cents. They got to know a lot of us as students. Even years later they would still call me by name and I would call them, especially when we ran into each other at weddings and that kind of stuff in this town. Let's see.
There weren't that many restaurants in town.
No, there weren't. There was the Varsity, the Bohemian--.
And [inaudible] for awhile downtown.
There was Happy's Pool Hall downtown, and--.
Rare treat to [inaudible] .
Yeah, and there was Dora's out on the bypass, and everybody that was here that was ever in school at East Carolina, if you drank beer, you went to Dora's at some point. And everybody told me about Cliff's Oyster Bar. Right when we were freshmen we found out, and we said, "How do you get there?" They said, "Just go down to the bottom of College Hill Drive, put your thumb out, and somebody's going to pick you up. Tell them you want to go to Cliff's Oyster Bar." And that's how we got there the first two or three times, and coming back people would do the same thing and bring you right back to the dorms, because Greenville was such a safe environment then. I'm not sure that students now have the same kind of--. They don't have that same kind of environment.
No, not at all.
And I continued to eat at Cliff's Oyster Bar until the place closed up last year.
You know back in those days they had a ham steak for ninety-nine cents, I think. [Laughter]
Yeah, they had a big country fried steak or chopped steak for about the same price. I mean you could go out there and eat for a dollar. But we were going out to get oysters. And I continued to be one of their patrons for years and years and years and years. All right then, the library was a jewel, was a gem. When you were an undergraduate you never knew when you put your book slips in how many of the books you were going to get. And I know when I was doing my research for my history papers,
as a graduate student upstairs that--because I started out as a graduate student in history--I had my own little cubby hole up there. Most of the time I had the books I needed then, but when you were doing undergraduate stuff, you never knew and you probably had to go to some of your classmates because they probably had the books that you needed. Somebody had them.
Open stack was unheard of at that time.
Yeah, I mean everything, you just had to fill out a piece of paper and pray that you were going to get most of what you needed.
Well why did you start out your graduate program in history? Why did you switch to guidance?
I thought about what I would do after with each degree, and my dad at that time, they really wanted me to be a lawyer since I wasn't going to be a veterinarian or go in the restaurant business. They were pushing for lawyer, and that wasn't what I wanted to do. When I was doing some looking I decided that even though the history--I still have a passion for it because I still read a lot of history stuff--that I thought I could handle guidance, because I was exposed to some really good guidance people at the high school level when I was going through Lynbrook High School. So I made the switch. I think I had already spent two quarters working on a master's in history when I made the switch and Dr. Batten was--. They were tickled to get me over there. That's where I stayed, and then I started teaching history in "Little Washington" while I was still working on my degree, because you had to spend two years in a classroom back then before they would let you switch to guidance. So I did my two years in the classroom and then I went looking for a guidance job, thought I had one at Washington High School but they
changed superintendents and he wasn't happy about keeping all the deals that had been made. I went looking and found a--. I was a male so I didn't have any problem finding a position close to Greenville.
That's when you went to West Craven?
Yeah, and I stayed there. I lived in Greenville the whole time and commuted every day. You know, because I've watched this place grow from six thousand to what it is now, and it's not done yet. I'll be surprised if we don't wind up with forty thousand students here.
It's moving in that direction very rapidly. Thinking in terms of the other students who you dealt with or were friends with, tell me something about them: their economic backgrounds; were they first generation college students or were they from families that had other college graduates already in the family, or what?
Most of the people that I knew here were probably first generation college students, graduates. I think a lot of them got--. Their parents got caught up in the Great Depression and World War II. I know my mom and dad were both getting ready to go to college when the Great Depression happened and they had to help support the family, so they never went. And after World War II, at that point, I guess they were making a living. I think most of my fraternity brothers--. I think most of us were first generation.
Any of them from backgrounds that had financial difficulties paying for their school?
Believe it or not most of the families I knew, of my fraternity brothers and a lot of the rest of them, a lot of our moms and dads both worked, and that was probably a little ahead of the curve, because they were determined that the kids were going to be
better off than they were. And I think that was the driving force. And most of my fraternity brothers, we all graduated and we all had many different majors and everybody's been--. I mean, I graduated in--. I was supposed to have graduated in '66. I got out in '67, finished my master's in '69. Most of them have done quite well. They've worked and they've been successful, so I think we've done very well.
Why I ask that, I recall one situation when I was here--lived off campus--and a kid lived in one of the other rooms in this rooming house. He used to buy a loaf of bread and he'd sit down and live on bread and maybe milk for days on end.
We had one across the hall from us when I first started. He would eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and he'd keep his stuff in a cooler, even though you weren't allowed to have food in the dorm back then. Everybody looked out for him. If there were any leftovers, we--. And he's another one that made it.
[Spoken to third person] Are you there? [Person replies] [Pause]Tell me a little bit about how you were able to use your ECU education after you had left here? You made reference to it, teaching and guidance counseling.
I taught and was guidance counselor at West Craven High School. We really live in a small world. One of the young people that I really had a good time with in high school was George Koonce, and George spent a lot of time getting through high school. He was a good football player. He went to Chowan to start with and then came to East Carolina. George and I maintained contact, and when my wife and I went to a football team banquet one year, George was sitting with his mom and his grandma at the time at one of the tables. And I went up to say hello to them, and George was so happy to see me he picked me up and gave me a real big bear hug. Steve Logan at that time--
because of my involvement with the Pirate Club Steve knew who I was--and he said, "How do you know George?" And George said, "He was my high school guidance counselor, and he's probably one of the reasons that I'm here," and has done so well. And I have a very special football that all the young guys that played football at West Craven and came here to play football, they've all signed that ball. When George came by the house to do it he came flying up to our second story, probably two or three steps to take the whole staircase, and the ball was high up on the wall and I was going to get the ladder to get it, and he just reached right up, signed it, put it back and made sure that it was back the way it was supposed to be. And then I met George at a reception at Steve Ballard's house one Friday or Saturday night.
So I've maintained contact with a lot of former students who were--. Well a lot of them went here from West Craven. A lot of them went to East Carolina. I've maintained those contacts. And I used--. Let me see. I'm a past president of the Greenville Jaycees. And the July 4th celebration that's here, because of that motto of Dr. Jenkins' of being a good citizen and getting involved, when I was vice president of the Jaycees we put the July 4th project in during the Vietnam War when patriotism was at an all-time low, and that project is still going on. And I worked on the committee to get the med school here. Let me see. Then I wound up having to spend a week at Chapel Hill as a guest of the Morehead people. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner they paired you with a faculty member, and I kept my--. I was politically correct almost the entire week. When I was having dinner one night, at the table, this professor lashed into me: why were we pushing for a med school at East Carolina and why were we taking their money? At that point I lost my cool and I said, "It's not your money. All we're asking for back is some of our own
money, because we want to have the same chance of survival in Greenville and eastern North Carolina that you have in Chapel Hill." That was a unique experience, for a week up there.
Was this a medical doctor?
No, actually a history professor. And he'd been in private schools and Chapel Hill was the first public institution he'd ever worked in. But I just had a--. I had [inaudible], because I'm purple and gold all the way through, and the people in eastern North Carolina are entitled to class education and class facilities just like the rest of the state of North Carolina's got. That includes roads and everything else. So I'm very passionate about not only the school, but the region that I now live in and I've made my home in for forty years.
that's too much. [Laughter]
And that's where your economic development is. It's tied to transportation.
You've got to have an educated work force, but you've got to be able to get stuff here to them.
And that's been a major handicap for the whole region.
For the entire region.
It surely has. What other thoughts do you have concerning your stay here, or any other individuals that we haven't talked about, or any other aspects of your education that need to be examined?
Let me see. I talked about undergrad and graduate. No, I think I just had a--. I think I received a quality education from a state, public, four-year university.
Did you ever have any reactions from your old friends back in New York about the fact that you had gone, or were going, to a southern college at the time?
No, I don't think so. I think when I went home one weekend and I had driven up to my Cornell--because that's where my dad had originally wanted me to go, in restaurant management--and I went to one of the classes with one of my friends, and he was getting an economic class, or getting a history class, and there were fifteen hundred kids in there, big lecture room. And I said, "Well, one of us has gotten cheated, and I don't think it was me." They were amazed that I was getting class sizes of probably thirty, thirty-five kids.
With PhDs teaching.
Yeah, with PhDs teaching the courses and they were getting graduate assistants to teach the courses, and that was in an Ivy League school. So I thought I really got a quality education.
Any other thoughts about the way Greenville as a town has grown?
Greenville's grown, and part of it's because of the University. I think Greenville, the University, the medical school, and the hospital are all tied together. Greenville's a great place to live because of all the cultural arts that's available through the University. It's permeated the surrounding community. I think, as an example, we're renovating the summer theater so that Turnage's Theater that's now been restored in Washington, that's where the summer theater's going to be and that's where we're going for the three plays. So I think the cooperation that you see between the University and the surrounding communities is just part of our motto to serve. And the athletic program has grown. I know that our club has already done--. I'm a past chairman of the Pitt
County chapter of the Pirate Club, served on the Pirate Club executive committee, president of Friends of Baseball, and I know--. I just filled out the survey online today that they sent about football expansion, and when I served on the strategic planning group and they asked me size, I said, "Don't limit it too--. Just don't think about going up another seven thousand seats, think--. Get somebody to sit and plan what it would look like if we had sixty or sixty-four to seventy thousand seats, and to start planning for the future because we're going to get there." And I'm convinced our baseball team's going to get to play for a college world series.
I sure hope so. It's been a long time in coming, I'm afraid.
We raised a stepson here. My wife, Nancy, is a Penn State graduate who was an RN, so she worked at the hospital, and she worked for Physicians East, and she worked for a group of private surgeons. So we're tied to this community in every fabric that can be. I'm president of both my homeowner's associations, and I think I'm busier now, retired, than I was when I was working full time. And I still have a passion for history. I still have a passion for people. And I will support East Carolina in its endeavors to grow and to get better.
You know we've had a number of interesting chancellors, in addition to Dr. Jenkins, the last some years. It's been quite a--.
Let me see. I chaired--. The Greenville Jaycees were the sponsor of the Boys' Home all star game which funded Jaycee Cottage at Boys' Home, and the year that I--. Most of the people that chaired that game they did it early in their Jaycee career. I did it on the reverse end. I was past president of the Jaycees, and they just hit it right that I felt I could handle that that year. The public school people and the school
administrators at West Craven High School bent over backwards for me to spend as much time out of that building. And it was interesting, because when we had the banquet and I was setting the head table up, Dr. Brewer was chancellor at the time. And I had to keep switching the head table because there were conflicts between him and the athletic people and some of the other people that were going to be on the head table. So it was a head table that was seventy-five percent one way and twenty-five percent the other way. It was Dr. Brewer, me, my wife, and one other, and everybody else was on the other side of the podium. And I've heard stories that he was put here to disassemble what Leo Jenkins had built. At that point I think a lot of us were--. East Carolina was on a roll and it was growing and it was getting better. That's an interesting little tidbit.
Dr. Eakin was one of my favorite chancellors.
Yeah. The other man--that was Dr. Jenkins' provost--he's still--.
John Howell. Because I served on that East Carolina University Scholars selection committee Dr. Howell and his gracious wife had us over for lunch a number of times every year. I still see them around town.
His health's been very poor for several years now. Gladys gets out quite a bit .
He was just another one that was put in and he just righted the ship, put us back on the way to growth.
Well he was always a very steady individual.
Yep, a steady individual.
Whether he was teaching political science or whether as an administrator, he was steady. Well, I--.
[End of Interview]
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