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Myrtle H. Westmoreland oral history interview, May 3, 2008

Date: May. 03 2008 | Identifier: 45-05-01-12
Interview with East Carolina Teachers College alumna Myrtle H. Westmoreland (formerly Myrtle Hopkins). Mrs. Westmoreland discusses growing up during the depression in a farming family in Plymouth, N.C., being encouraged to attend college by her widowed father and a high school mentor, and paying for her college expenses with loans and self-help work. She discusses living in the dorm, playing basketball as a Lady Pirate, working in the dining hall, seeing male students leave campus because of the war, and after graduation, working as a home agent, home economics teacher, funeral director, and active community volunteer in Statesville, N.C. Interviewer: Joyce Newman. more...
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Transcript of Myrtle H. Westmoreland Interview
Interviewee:Myrtle H. Westmoreland
Interviewer:Joyce J. Newman
Date of Interview:May 3, 2008
Location of Interview:Statesville, N.C.
Length:One mp3 file, approximately 79 minutes

Joyce J. Newman:

This is Joyce Newman and I'm here in Statesville interviewing Myrtle Westmoreland in her home, who is an ECU graduate. And she has given us permission to do this recording and put it in the ECU library archives. So, I guess if we could begin by maybe if you could just say where you grew up and something about your family and your childhood.

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

I grew up, Joyce, in Plymouth, Washington County, in of course the northeastern part of the state. I grew up on a tobacco and peanut farm, and our farm wasn't like the "Gone With the Wind" farm, it was one of those farms we worked on, in the fields. And it was in the height of the Depression where we had very little cash money. We had lots of treasures in our family and a close knit family but so far as



material things, they were very limited. So when I graduated from high school in 1937, I was very anxious to go on to school. I was the valedictorian of my high school class. I had always made good grades and I felt like I could handle a college course. I also played basketball in high school and I wanted to continue being part of a basketball team at--it was at that time--East Carolina Teacher's College. My main connection with it was that I had had an aunt who was several years older than I was who had graduated at ECTC. And then my senior year in high school the home economics that came to be our teacher there had just finished the year before at ECTC. And she became my mentor and she of course gave me encouragement to go on to school. So, it was just my desire to go, but I knew the funds were limited. How long do you want me to talk?

Joyce J. Newman:

Well, what was her name?

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

The teacher's name? Irene James and she had just graduated the year before. She came as her first year teaching at my school. So in telling her that I would like very much to go on to school she told me that I might be able to get self-help work. So she helped me apply for it and I did not hear from it until two weeks before school was to start. I got this letter saying I had been approved for self-help work. Well I got so excited, but then I had to think about where was I going to get the--. That would pay for about half my expenses but then I had to think about where would I get the other funds that were necessary. And of course I had worked in tobacco that summer for thirty-five cents a day. [Laughter] You didn't have much accumulated but my dad and I talked about it and of course he was all for my going. I had two older sisters who had graduated from high school but that was it. They went on, and got married, and one of them went in the work field and so on. So my dad was very supportive of wanting me to go to college.



So we went one morning to my uncle's whom we thought would be the most able to help me financially. And I remember very well standing at his gatepost early that morning when the dew was on the grass and it was sort of chilly. We were standing there talking and we asked him if he would sign my note for me to borrow some funds from the college. He looked at my dad and me and he said, "Now Myrtle, I would like to help you. You know that. But you know, I've got three children coming on that I'm going to have to help get through college and I just don't believe I would be able to sign your note." And he went on and said, "And besides that if you got your loan to pay for your other part of your tuition and books and so on, where would you get money for clothes to go?" And I remember so well looking him straight in the eye and I said, "Uncle Linwood, if I could just go to college I would go with a sheet pinned around me." [Laughter] And I meant that too.

Well, I didn't get help from him but my dad and I went on from that. We didn't let that close the issue. We went to an aunt on the other side of my relatives who signed it without blinking an eye. And of course since I've gotten older I can understand how people don't sign people's notes, [Laughter] especially if they're in the family. But this uncle should have known, just like my aunt knew, that I had lost my mother when I was fifteen years old. I would inherit part of her estate, land that joined both of them, so, you know, they weren't taking that big a risk. But I'm happy to say that I paid back every dollar of my loan the first year I was out of school.

Joyce J. Newman:

So do you think she was willing because she was interested in you as a girl going to college?



Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

She wanted me to go to school and she knew how bad I wanted to go and she knew that it was the thing for me to do, and she would have signed it without questioning.

Joyce J. Newman:

Your maiden name was--?

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

Hopkins.

Joyce J. Newman:

Hopkins. And you lived--. It was near Plymouth, or in town, or outside?

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

Well until my mother died when I was fifteen, as I said, we lived in town, [just outside the city limits] but after she died we moved back to the farm, which was two miles out on a farm. When we lived in town we had a little community store there at the edge of town but we still--my dad--still operated the farm and we'd go back and forth and help. But of course after she died we just moved back to the farm.

Joyce J. Newman:

Did she grow up in Plymouth?

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

My mother and my dad both were natives of the area. My mother was in Martin County next to Washington. My dad grew up in Washington County. I had two sisters that were older and at the time we lost our mother the little brother was two years old. So we girls, especially the older one who never married and stayed home and kept house for my dad and really raised the little boy, but all of us raised him. I was real glad that by the time he finished high school, knowing what going to college had meant to me, I was determined he was going to have the opportunity to go. So my husband and I brought him to Statesville to live with [us] his first year and go to Mitchell Community College, which was just a couple of blocks from the funeral home where we lived in the funeral home. He went one year to Mitchell and then that was the time of the Korean War. And he was drafted, went to war, went to Korea, and then came back and graduated



at Gaston Community College in engineering and is quite a capable person these days in his field. And he tells me quite often, and especially since my husband died a year ago, and he lives here in Statesville. He has been quite a help to me. And I say, "Bob, if it were not for you I could not have made it this year without my husband." He says, "Well sis, it's payback time." He says, "I'm just trying to pay back for all you've done for me." So I appreciated that. But anyway, he graduated, and then we have one daughter who--. There was no question about that. She was going to go on to higher education. She graduated at NC State University. Her two daughters that are married now are college graduates. Her son is a junior at NC State. So it certainly has been a tradition ever since I started the ball rolling that they [my family] would realize the importance of higher education.

Joyce J. Newman:

How did your sisters feel? They were married and you were the youngest girl.

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

I was the youngest of those. Well one of them never married. She stayed home and kept house for my dad as long as he lived and helped raise the little brother. The other one was married and went to Norfolk to work. But they were glad for me and the one that was working helped me buy socks and a few other things that I had to have. I didn't have to have that sheet wrapped around me. [Laughter] But--.

Joyce J. Newman:

So you went to elementary school and high school in Plymouth?

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

In Plymouth, yes.

Joyce J. Newman:

And which schools was it?

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

Well I never went to but one school. Now they have an elementary school and a high school but at that time the entire school from first grade through eleven was in



the same building which is now the Plymouth High School. And as I said, I played basketball all four years in high school and when I went to East Carolina I made the first team the first year and played basketball there as a Lady Pirate.

Joyce J. Newman:

All four years?

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

Well, it was--. The war came along in--. I graduated in '41 and in 1940 we were already enough in the war that we had to cut out inter-scholastic sports. The first two years we went around to other colleges and played but the second two years we just had intra-murals. Different classes played each other.

Joyce J. Newman:

I never knew that. So was that for cost saving, because--?

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

Cost saving and just war expenses and everything. It was just a tradition at that time that you just had to cut out the inter-scholastic sports and have only between your classes. But I played four years, yes, and was a lettered player.

Joyce J. Newman:

So do you remember your first day when you went to ECU? Who took you, or did you go on your own?

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

My dad took me in this car that we had at that time, which was a Chevrolet of some kind. But anyway, he took me and it was the family car. Not a new modern one but one that would go down the road. [Laughter] And he went to Greenville to market tobacco when the tobacco market would open in the fall of the year. And he came to see me once or twice during that year and I was so glad, you know, to see him.

Joyce J. Newman:

Were you homesick?

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

Beg your pardon?

Joyce J. Newman:

Were you homesick?



Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

Well I think you're always homesick that first few months. But I worked six hours a day all four years--.

Joyce J. Newman:

That's a lot.

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

Yes, and played basketball too and had a lot of lab work in my science and chemistry work and home ec. But the first two years I served tables. I could run up and down that hall, those two long halls, with that tray balanced on my hand, loaded, and loved it. My roommate was also a home ec major and was also a basketball player and also worked in the dining room, so we just roomed together and did everything together. We thought working in the dining room was our recreation. We didn't have time to have any other off time, but, you know, you got away from your books. We were lucky enough: we served the basketball players, the men, [Laughter] the first two years. And then I was made head dining room girl, they called it, in my hall my junior year. I sort of supervised the other workers in that hall. And we had two halls, and the last year I was the head supervisor of both halls.

Joyce J. Newman:

Wow. Where was it located?

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

It was located where--. It's just beyond that fountain, and it's still part of the dining room, isn't it?

Joyce J. Newman:

Is that--? Was it--?

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

It's between the practice home economics house and Fleming Hall on the left, as you're going towards it. I think it's still being used for some of the dining halls.

Joyce J. Newman:

You know, there's a long--the fountain here--and there's a long green with the big oak trees. Is it the other end of that?

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

Mm hmm.



Joyce J. Newman:

That's where my office--. They call it Old Cafeteria Complex now.

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

That's it.

Joyce J. Newman:

Well that's where my offices are now.

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

That's right. That's where it was.

Joyce J. Newman:

So if you came in--. Now there's an entrance kind of that faces the cupola on that green, and there's a big fireplace that says, "Around this fireplace let no one speak evil of any person." Was that there when you were working in it?

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

I don't believe--. I don't remember a fireplace. We had two entrances. We had an entrance on this end near the fountain and then we had one down to the other hall near the other end down towards, beyond, Fleming. I lived in Fleming always.

Joyce J. Newman:

So you were close to the dining hall.

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

Right.

Joyce J. Newman:

Now when you were getting ready to go to college, what kinds of things did you do?

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

Well I didn't find out I was--didn't get that letter until two weeks before time to start, and I certainly didn't have many clothes to pack. I didn't even have a suitcase to pack them in. I put them in a box and my dad took me. I remember the first winter I was there how cold I got because I didn't have a winter coat and I had a lightweight suit. I got so cold. But you didn't have many clothes and many things to take if you were [Laughter] on a farm and trying to get ready to go. You just went.

Joyce J. Newman:

Did they provide bed linens or did you have to take sheets and towels?

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

They provided the linens. They did come and pick up your linens and your personal clothing and would take it to the laundry and then bring it back. We had one big



bathroom on the hall that everybody used, but our room happened to be pretty close to that. And of course there were no boys on our hall at that time. When I went--. When I graduated I believe there were a thousand girls and two hundred boys at ECTC.

Joyce J. Newman:

Did you have house mothers?

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

Yes, we did.

Joyce J. Newman:

Did they have really strict rules about when you had to be in the dorm and--?

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

Oh yes. We had to be in the dorm by 9:00, I think it was, every night. And of course no boys, no men, could come on the hall. If some man was on the hall somebody yelled down the hall, "Man on the hall," and you knew to get in your room and stay put. They'd come, these--. They weren't called house mothers. They didn't necessarily live in the dorm. But they would come every now and then every week or so and check your room and let you know if it wasn't in order.

Joyce J. Newman:

Did you have clothing rules about what you could wear outside the dorm?

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

No, we did not have any clothing rules at that time. As I said, you just had what you could get. [Laughter] But at that point it was the poodle skirts and the saddle oxfords. We wore saddle oxfords all the time, of course. And if you had a date you sat in the lobby downstairs. They certainly didn't come to your room or you couldn't just take off and go riding.

Joyce J. Newman:

So did you make lots of friends in your dorm?

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

Yes. There was a lot of dorm activity going on. Some of the girls, you know, were very social minded and had their little social groups, but my roommate and I did not have any time to participate in that sort of thing. We did our work and played basketball and stayed in our room and studied. [Laughter]



Joyce J. Newman:

So she was a basketball player too?

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

She was a basketball player too. But my favorite time to study--. There'd be a lot of noise on the hall at night and a lot of running up and down, and I'd go to bed because I'd be tired. I'd go to bed early and then I'd get up at 6:00 in the morning and do my studying. That's when I did my best studying.

Joyce J. Newman:

So did you find it hard to adjust coming from the farm to the University, or College?

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

No, because it wasn't nearly as large, of course, as it is now, and most of the people there at that time were little country girls like me. [Laughter]

Joyce J. Newman:

So you didn't feel out of place.

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

No, you surely didn't, and you weren't trying to keep up with anybody necessarily. You were all there--. My main purpose was to make good grades and to get through with college.

Joyce J. Newman:

Did you go in the summers?

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

No. I did not.

Joyce J. Newman:

So in the summer you'd go back home.

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

Go back home. You worked on the farm in the summer and you tried awfully hard to get that tobacco crop in, and what we called the "grading" done, getting it ready to go to market, before school started.

Joyce J. Newman:

Were there any--? So did you know when you went what your major was going to be?

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

I did, because as I said, my home economics teacher--and that's the first year we'd had home economics in the Plymouth High School--but she was my mentor



and she inspired me to study home economics. And I knew from the start that's what I would do. So I didn't have that decision to make like a lot of the young folks do now.

Joyce J. Newman:

So your program of study was set and you knew what you had to do.

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

Right, but at that time you had to be a home economics and a science major. You couldn't just major in home economics. Of course I majored in both, but my interest was home economics. And the first year I was out of school the head of the home economics department, Miss Holtzclaw at that time, invited me to come back and talk to all the home economics students and tell them about my first year's experience after I had graduated. And I remember so well talking to them, and I told a story about--. I was the home supervisor with the Farmer's Home Administration at first, and I was telling them about my work in that field. And I remember telling them about--. In this job we would have to go out and help the low income farm families--they had a farm supervisor and a home supervisor--we would have to go out and help them plan their year's crops and their activities and be sure they were going to grow enough to live at home and raise enough and so on. And we'd make out a plan for them and then the government would loan them money to operate on that year. And I had this experience one day. Mr. Mott, the farm supervisor, was an older gentleman than I was, me just being out of school, you know. He helped me any way he could. We were out working on the plan with this family one day, and when I came to talk about how much you're going to raise in the garden, and how much you're going to produce and so on in the way of vegetables and fruits, got to the chickens, and I said, "Now how many hens do you have?" She said, "I have forty hens," and I wrote forty down and then I said, "How many roosters do you have?" "Honey, we don't have any roosters," she said. I said, "You're going to get some



roosters though, aren't you?" She said, "No, honey, we just have eating eggs." I looked up at Mr. Mott, who was across the room working with the men, and I sort of grinned, and I thought I was grinning at how stupid she was. And he grinned back at me, and we went on and finished the plan, and when we got through with it I said, "Now let's go back and talk about these chickens again." I said, "Now you've got forty hens. You're going to need some roosters. You're going to get two or three roosters, aren't you?" [She replied,] "No, honey, we're not going to get any roosters." So when she wasn't looking I put down three roosters anyway [Laughter] because I wanted that plan to be approved so she'd get her loan. So on the way back to town that day, we were riding along and I hadn't said a word and Mr. Mott hadn't said a word, and all of a sudden I said, "Harry, that was the most stupid--." I said, "I've made plans with a lot of stupid people, but I believe that was the most stupid woman I've tried to make a plan with," and he just broke out in a laugh. He said, "Myrtle, did you not know you don't have to have roosters to get eggs? You only have to have those to have hatching eggs." [Laughter] I said, "I did not know it. I grew up on a farm, lived on a farm all my life. We had chickens but we always had some roosters." [Laughter] So I told that to the home economics class when I went back and Miss Holtzclaw says, "Well Myrtle, you don't need to feel so bad about that." She says, "You know I didn't know that till a couple of years ago either." [Laughter] And she was the head of the home economics department. But that was just one funny thing. Lots of humor comes along with any job, I guess.

Joyce J. Newman:

So where was that job? Was it in eastern North Carolina?

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

It was in Iredell County. They sent me to--.

Joyce J. Newman:

Oh, so you came here immediately.



Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

They sent me from East Carolina to Henderson, Vance County, for two months training and then here to work.

Joyce J. Newman:

So you didn't meet your husband until after you came here, or had you met him while you were in school?

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

Met him when I first came here. He was president of--. He and his friends told me that he was president of the Bachelor's Club, this group that all ate at the boarding house together where all the young working folks ate. They told me that Glenn was president of the Bachelor's Club and that it was his duty to take care of me [Laughter] to see that I--.

Joyce J. Newman:

Well he did, didn't he? [Laughter]

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

So he took care of me. [Laughter]

Joyce J. Newman:

So when you came here, did you stay in the boarding house?

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

No. That was just an eating place. I stayed in--. I came with my--. My sister let me have a cedar chest that she had. I still didn't have a suitcase or a trunk. So I loaded everything I had in Plymouth and drove up here by my--. Well, went to Henderson first for two months, and then when I came here drove up by myself and didn't know where I was going to stay that Sunday night when I arrived. But there was a hotel here that I stayed in that first night. Then the next day I found a rooming house, this lady that let me room with her. But I still ate at the boarding house.

Joyce J. Newman:

So did you have a car? Did you buy a car?

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

Yes, I did buy a car. You had to have a car in this job. When my dad found out I had to have a car he wanted to help me buy a second-hand car and I said, "Daddy, we've never had anything but second-hand cars and I'm going to have to depend on this



for my job and I'm going to have to go across the state by myself. I want something I can depend on, not something that's going to break down like our car always did." [Laughter] So he managed to sell some land that was near our farm that he owned and gave me that money to buy--. And the Chevrolet dealer there in Plymouth--I mean the Plymouth dealer in Plymouth--bought it and sold me my new Plymouth. I had to borrow money, of course, for that too, and I signed a note that I would pay so much each month, and I paid it on the dot. I had to send it by Western Union, and I paid it every time on the dot, until several months later one day my dad was in Plymouth, in town, and he went by the Plymouth dealer for something and he said, "Kenneth is Myrtle having problems?" And my dad said, "Not that I know of. Why?" He says, "Well I haven't received her payment this month." So my dad called me and asked me if I needed some money and told me what had happened. I said, "Daddy, that was sent by Western Union on the proper date, and I don't appreciate him telling you that, because it has been sent on time every month, and you go let him know that." Well, he went and got it straightened out. [Laughter] But it upset me so much that he thought I had not sent it in. But I paid for that car and I paid my college loan back; the college loan during the first year and the car during a two-year period.

Joyce J. Newman:

So you paid your own way through all four years of college.

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

I worked enough to pay half of all four years and my dad helped me some, but those last two years the Depression was pretty bad and I knew he couldn't handle all of it, so that's when I borrowed enough for the last two years. So I worked for half of my expenses four years and borrowed two years the other half.

Joyce J. Newman:

So the last two years you were supporting yourself.



Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

Right, right. And I supported myself from that point on from the time I got out of school. I never had any more help. But it makes you a stronger person, I think, because you appreciate--. I know I appreciated what I had, probably a lot more than my daughter and my grandchildren will ever appreciate what they had as they came along.

Joyce J. Newman:

So did you find--? When you went to East Carolina had your schools that you went to before prepared you for the work, the level of work, that you would do there?

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

As I said, I was valedictorian of my high school class. I had made straight A's. I had applied myself, had studied hard, and yes, I didn't have any problems keeping up. But I came to college to get my degree and I knew I was going to work. I was going to study hard there and make good grades there, and I did. But so far as being prepared from the high school, yes, I was.

Joyce J. Newman:

Were there any special teachers or anybody at ECU who was influential in your college career?

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

Well, I think all of my teachers in the home economics department were very supportive. And I told you I worked in the dining hall all four years. My third year there the dean, Miss Morton, the dean of women, offered me a job working in her office. And I did not accept that because I loved to work in the dining room and as I said, that was relaxation. My chemistry professor also offered me a job working in the chemistry lab my last two years and I thanked him but told him I liked my dining hall work. So I did not do any of that. But everybody was very supportive. It was a much smaller school than it is now and you knew most everybody and the teachers knew you.

Joyce J. Newman:

Did you meet a lot of people working in the dining hall--?



Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

Oh yes. Some of your closest friends were right there with you in the dining hall.

Joyce J. Newman:

Did you date?

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

I was dating a boy back home when I first went to school, and of course like all the other young boys, he went in service--we were just at that brink of the war--and he was killed in service. So were two of my very best friends from Plymouth. But my senior year I dated a boy at the University all year and the next year and so on.

Joyce J. Newman:

One of the two hundred? [Laughter]

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

One of the two hundred. [Laughter] But he also went in service, but that was after I got in Statesville and had started dating other people.

Joyce J. Newman:

So when you went to college, essentially, you left home and once you graduated you came west. You never--

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

Never went back to Plymouth to live.

Joyce J. Newman:

Made a huge separation for you from your community for the rest of your life.

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

Right. Of course I went back very frequently as long as my dad and sisters lived, but after that I have been back very few times.

Joyce J. Newman:

So you didn't have a lot of other relatives that you kept--?

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

I did, but most of them are dead; my grandparents and my aunts and uncles. In fact, the first few years when I'd go back I had a group of friends that you'd get together with every time you went back, but that soon started dwindling. At this point I don't think there's a one of my high school friends that I knew and was close to that's still living. I guess I've just outlived them.

Joyce J. Newman:

Did any of them go to college too?



Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

No, not a single one of my basketball and high school close friends went to college.

Joyce J. Newman:

Do you think that made a difference over time that your experiences were becoming different until they made a separation between you and--?

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

No, it really didn't, because I was very close to them and they did all right. They got jobs and things. They did not go to college but they were still my dear friends. But I always felt like I had done what I wanted to do and set my goals and accomplished them.

Joyce J. Newman:

Well it sounds like you were very focused. You knew what you wanted to do and you worked really hard to achieve that.

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

I really did. And I worked in my home economics field the first ten years after I was out of school. I taught home economics in Durham at one time. After I started with Farm Security here, at the end of that first year, the government cut out all the home supervisors. [Laughter] So there I was without a job and I turned to the College and they got me a job in Durham County teaching home economics. After teaching home economics I went with the Dairy Council in Durham, Burlington, and Raleigh as a nutritionist until Glenn and I were married. After that I came here and taught school, home economics, one year and then went back with Farm Security for a year until they cut them out again. And then I became home demonstration agent with the extension service for seven years, and then they made me district agent over seventeen counties for three years until our daughter was born. My office was in Raleigh, I lived in Statesville, and I was covering seventeen counties until just before my daughter was born.

Joyce J. Newman:

So did you travel out to the families in that job too?



Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

In that job I worked with the agents in each county, and the commissioners, asking for funds, and that sort of thing, and reporting back to our office--my office was at Rick's Hall at State College-- and loved that work. And then after our daughter was born, we lived in the funeral--. I came as a bride to live in the funeral home, as most funeral directors did at that time, because we not only did funeral service, we did ambulance service. They didn't have ambulance services. We lived in the funeral home, and our daughter lived there the first ten years of her life. But after she was born I went on and got my funeral director's license, became a licensed funeral director. And then my husband and I saved everything we could save that whole time we were working and started buying stock in the funeral home. And the owner of the funeral home was getting older. By the time he was ready to retire, we had bought and owned the majority stock and we bought the rest of it. And at that point we had two funeral homes in old historic homes. They were about a block apart. We owned both of them by that time, although they used to be competitors. Glenn and I set our goal to build a new modern funeral home for this community, and this we did. In 1975 we built a new establishment that we were so proud of and gave the community the kind of facility we thought they deserved. Although we got to the place in 1994 that we realized we couldn't keep on forever, and that we found out by then that our daughter and our son-in-law were not interested in funeral service, and so we merged with one of the national conglomerates, sold the business. But all the fellows that were with us are still there and they stayed there. And we kept on helping when needed. Glenn went on a funeral, my husband, the day before he died, and I am still helping when they need me or when it's somebody--. You know after fifty-some years of serving your community you don't just walk out. So a lot of



people still expect me to be there and I want to be there, so I'm still helping, but I'm not on the payroll. It's just, you know, help when you can.

Joyce J. Newman:

So after the year that you came here and met your future husband you still kept dating when you moved to Raleigh?

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

Well, I didn't date him as much when I was here as I did another fellow. [Laughter] I dated him some. But it was after I was in Durham that we--. I'd come back occasionally for a visit and we sort of--. That's when we started dating more and got engaged and all that.

Joyce J. Newman:

And you got married in which year?

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

1945. And we waited ten years for our daughter to come along because we had both grown up on farms during the Depression when we didn't have much in a monetary way, and we said we were going to have a bank account established before we had a child. So she didn't come for ten years, but she was worth waiting for.

Joyce J. Newman:

So I don't get any sense, but this is a question they sort of said we could ask: What was the hardest thing about going to college for you? Was it--?

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

I guess the hardest thing was leaving my dad and my sister and brother back home without--. My dad never remarried. He was only fifty-two when my mother died. She died at age thirty-eight with blood poisoning from an abscessed tooth. Now that was before the days of penicillin--it was just a couple of years before penicillin was discovered--and it was before the days of having the hospital at Greenville. We had to go to Rocky Mount for our hospital. But she died very suddenly. And she was the leader in the family and my dad never remarried. It was hard pulling out knowing they needed me



at home, but I was determined, and they wanted me to go on. So it worked out that I was able to go on and leave and be home in the summer to help on the farm.

Joyce J. Newman:

It's interesting that your father had that kind of interest in a daughter going to college, becoming educated.

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

Right, right. He used to call me the brains in the family. [Laughter] He knew that I was capable of it and the other two that were older really had no desire to go and were not that interested in scholastic affairs. [Laughter] But--.

Joyce J. Newman:

Where do you think your interest came from; just that you enjoyed doing things like that?

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

Well I just always wanted to be the leader and the best in whatever I was doing. It was just always instilled in me that I just wanted to be the best and be on the top of whatever I was doing. [Laughter]

Joyce J. Newman:

So do you think growing up on a farm had some influence on your work habits, and being able--?

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

I wouldn't take anything for having grown up on the farm. I think it just gives you a background that working in the land and soil and, you know, working as a family unit together. There's just something there that these young people are missing today that haven't had that experience. I would not trade that experience for any other way of being raised. But I think the Depression had a lot to do with it too, you know. You were determined that there must be something better out there. [Laughter] And the way to have that thing that was better was to get an education.

Joyce J. Newman:

And then you had the model of the home economics teacher who came.

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

Right, right.



Joyce J. Newman:

Did you--?

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

And my aunt that had come years before that influenced me, because we thought she was pretty special because she went to college.

Joyce J. Newman:

Did she go to ECU?

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

She did. She graduated at East Carolina Teacher's College, but she was twelve years older than I was.

Joyce J. Newman:

That was pretty early.

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

Yeah, yeah. She was one of the very first ones, and she lived to be ninety-four and her mind was as brilliant as it was the day she was twenty-one. She taught school in Martin and Washington Counties all her life and retired.

Joyce J. Newman:

Did she marry?

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

Oh yes, and her husband--. She married the school principal. [Laughter] They both kept on in the school until they retired. They're both deceased now. But I always thought she was pretty special too.

Joyce J. Newman:

So tell me about your letter sweater.

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

My lettered sweater? Well when you make first team and played, I guess it was varsity team, you got what we called a "lettered sweater". You got the big "T" with the "E-C" around it. And I went back--. I've only been back to East Carolina two or three times since I graduated because of being in this area of the state. I went back for one class reunion when my daughter was about five years old and they were having my class reunion. I said, "We're going to that," so my husband and daughter and I went. And on the way down there I said, "Now, it's been,"--well it had been fifteen years at that time--I said, "Don't expect anybody to know me, and I won't know anybody," but I just



to go back one time and let our daughter and my husband see the campus and all. It was their first time to go. I hadn't gotten out of the car to start across the lawn till somebody said, "Myrtle Hopkins!" She didn't know it, but I would have given her a twenty dollar bill [Laughter] to have somebody recognize you. But there were only a few from my class that were there that I knew, but I enjoyed it. And then I went back a few years ago when my nephew invited me down for a Lady Pirates reunion, and then I went back this last fall for the hundredth anniversary. And that's about the three times I've been back on the campus, and how it has changed! So proud of it.

Joyce J. Newman:

It's growing and growing.

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

Right.

Joyce J. Newman:

So how did he end up at East Carolina? Did he go--?

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

My husband?

Joyce J. Newman:

Your nephew.

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

Oh, my nephew. He just chose it, I guess. He grew up in Statesville and none of his family had been to East Carolina. I like to think I had something to do with it, and I suppose I did, but he just chose East Carolina. He went there four years and then he went to NC State for his--. Well I guess he got his master's at East Carolina and then he went to NC State for his doctorate. And then he has been back there all the time working for the business college. I think his title now is associate dean of the school of business.

Joyce J. Newman:

I think so.



Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

Dr. James Westmoreland, and he's been like a son to us, having just the one child, a daughter, and they were always very close. He visits me and he helps me and he's done real well. We're proud of him.

Joyce J. Newman:

So he mentioned that you were there during the time there was an undefeated ball team, football team, was it?

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

I think so. I think the football team, maybe. I did go there--. My senior year in high school we had an undefeated high school team and we went for the tournament at East Carolina. And we got to the semifinals, and the last timeout we had, some of the fellows from Plymouth said--I was a forward, shooting forward--and some of the fellows from Plymouth said, "I'm going to give you all ten dollars for every goal you shoot the last few minutes of this game." Well I shot two or three goals, and I shot one just as the whistle blew that would have made us win, but we lost. But that was the semifinals. We didn't quite get in the finals. But I never got the ten dollars. They forgot that. [Laughter] Never got any of the money, but that inspired us, I guess to try to go, try to shoot and win.

Joyce J. Newman:

Well other than not doing anything but intramural sports, what other affects did the war have, do you think, on the University while you were there?

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

Well, I guess there were fewer boys than there would have been as students.

Joyce J. Newman:

Did the male teachers--? Were there male teachers?

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

Yes, there were male teachers.

Joyce J. Newman:

Did some of them get called and drafted?

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

No. Not to my knowledge. Mr. M.L. Wright was my economics professor and he--. Most of them were older than would have been drafted at that point. One year,



my senior year, one of the boys back home that I had been dating was in service. He was in the marines, and a friend of his was in service, and they both came home the same weekend. And they were going to come pick us up. The other boy dated a friend of mine from back home and we were both there at East Carolina. They were going to come pick us up that Saturday to go home for the weekend. And we thought they'd be there by lunchtime anyway and we were waiting on them and it was nearly four or five o'clock when they got there. They'd had to borrow a car to come. Anyway, we went back home for the weekend, and over the weekend--they thought they were going to be here for three or four days--and over the weekend they called them back immediately because of, I don't know whether it was the Normandy invasion, but something big had happened, and all the men that were on leave were called back immediately. So our visit with them was cut real short, but that's the way it was.

Joyce J. Newman:

Do you remember a song--? My grandmother used to have some old 33's--is that what it was? The big records, thick ones?

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

Sure.

Joyce J. Newman:

And there was one song called, "There's a blue star shining bright in my window tonight"?

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

I remember hearing it, yes. You know, we didn't have a radio until I was a junior in high school, and we certainly didn't have TV's back then. We'd listen to "Amos and Andy" on the radio. That was the main program.

I wanted to tell you about how scarce money was. The girls that I ran around with, some of our basketball team, we would--. If you lived outside of downtown you went to town every Saturday night and every Sunday afternoon. Well, I can remember



going to the drugstore. We had the corner drugstore and they had the fountain, you know, with the little tables sitting around, the ice cream tables. And I can remember we would all put our pennies in and if we could get a dime we'd go to the drugstore and we'd order one drink and we'd get about five straws. [Laughter] And we'd sit there and sip on that one drink for about an hour to see everybody. I mean, there just wasn't any money.

One year we let our car sit in the garage all year because it needed tires and we didn't have money to buy tires. That's the year my dad bought a bicycle. I'd always wanted a bicycle--my sister and I--and every Christmas we'd say that's what we wanted, but we knew we weren't going to get it. But we'd pretend we thought we were going to get it to sort of put a guilt trip, I guess, on our parents. We'd get in the rocking chair Christmas Eve and rock and say, "This is the way we're going to ride our bicycle." The next morning, after we did that one time, instead of a bicycle what we got was a little nut set: a little bowl with the nutcracker and the picks full of nuts. And of course if you had nuts or oranges back then that was a treat. But that's the bicycle I got, was that nut bowl, didn't get the bicycle until my dad needed a bicycle to ride to work. In addition to the farm work he did painting on the side, and he had to have a bicycle to ride to work. Well, when he was not riding that to work my sister and I'd get to ride it some. [Laughter]

Joyce J. Newman:

So you learned to ride after all.

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

Oh yes, we sure did.

Joyce J. Newman:

When you raised peanuts, where were they marketed? Were there factories or processing plants?



Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

In Williamston or Norfolk. And they had a tobacco market in Williamston and Greenville and different places that you would take your tobacco to, then as soon as you started marketing your crop you had to sit down and figure out how much money the tenant farmer owed you, because you had furnished them money all year. And then maybe you had a little bit left, after you settled with the tenant farmer.

Joyce J. Newman:

Well when you were at East Carolina--. Later it got a reputation as being a party school. Was it like that when you were there?

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

If there were people partying, it wasn't I. [Laughter] No, I think it was--. Most people there were like me. They had come for an education, and I 'm sure there was some partying that went on but I wasn't a part of it. I didn't see it or know about it.

Joyce J. Newman:

So it was more likely after there were more male students and more people.

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

Right, right. No, it was not known as a party--. And if you took a drink, boy you would be put out of--. You know, there was no drinking and there were no boys on the hall.

Joyce J. Newman:

So there weren't all those bars downtown like there are now?

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

No, no. A little funny story that--. One year Miss Norton, our basketball coach, had all of us girls strip to the waist and she took pictures of us to study our posture. And the hangout place at that time was the drugstore down on the corner downtown. Well, she made the mistake of sending that film to that drugstore to have it developed. [Laughter] And some of the employees got hold of it and they were scattering it all over the campus. So they put that drugstore on black ball. Nobody could go in there that year, the rest of the year. [Laughter]



Joyce J. Newman:

You know I have seen something like that. I worked for a semester or two in the archives at UNCG when I went back to do art, and I had seen that they used to do that there too. They'd take those photographs.

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

Right. She was studying our posture [Laughter] but she had to have those pictures developed.

Joyce J. Newman:

It wasn't very nice of the person at the drugstore, was it?

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

Do they still have bag lunches on Sunday night? The one time we did have off from the dining room--. We served three meals a day and it took us about two hours each meal to go and serve, do what we had to do, clean up and all. And they didn't have dishwashers at that time in the kitchen. We'd have to take our little buckets full of hot water and soap and bring them to our tables and wash the things and then empty the buckets and so on. But on Sunday night--. We'd serve breakfast Sunday and lunch Sunday and at lunch Sunday, when they got through eating lunch, we'd bring out this food on trays and put it on the table and they packed a bag lunch for that night. So everybody ate in their room Sunday night, and we did have Sunday night free--not free but free from going to the dining hall.

Joyce J. Newman:

So that was the only day of the week that you didn't work for three meals?

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

Only day that we didn't have three meals a day.

Joyce J. Newman:

So, when you said you did six hours a day it was two--.

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

Two each: breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Joyce J. Newman:

And did they sit at a table and you served them, or did you have a line of food--?



Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

They sat at the table and we brought the food from the kitchen. And we had those great big aluminum trays, and I could put one on my hand like that loaded with food and go down that hall with it, and you just--. Up and down the hall you went.

Joyce J. Newman:

So was it served in like bowls--?

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

Then you put it on the table, family style, and they served themselves.

Joyce J. Newman:

So did you develop good muscles for your basketball?

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

We developed muscles. We also developed varicose veins from walking on that cement floor up and down the hall. [Laughter] But we were young and we could take it. And my roommate and I lived on the third floor at Fleming the whole time, on that front left corner room. But we had to go up three flights of steps every time we went to the room; didn't have elevators.

Joyce J. Newman:

Was it as hot then as it is now?

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

Sure it was, when you first went in the summertime; didn't have air conditioning. But we weren't used to air conditioning at home, [Laughter] so we got along fine.

Joyce J. Newman:

Did you buy all your textbooks--? Was there a student store on campus?

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

There was a student store, and sometimes you could rent them, used ones, from there and then sell them back at the end of the semester, which I always did. And then we home ec students had to live in the practice house one semester. That's the only semester that I didn't work in the dining hall. You had to live in the practice house with one of the home ec professors for six weeks and keep house and feed her [Laughter] and cook.

Joyce J. Newman:

So the practice house was like practice taking care of a home?



Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

Of a house, yes, uh huh.

Joyce J. Newman:

Where was it?

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

It was right there beyond the dining hall, and it's still there. Jim showed it to me when we were there this last time. It's still there, but I think somebody has an office in it now, I'm not sure.

Joyce J. Newman:

Was it what they call the Ledonia Wright Center now? Was it a little building?

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

No, brick building.

Joyce J. Newman:

Hmm, that's interesting.

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

And it's still there. I've forgotten what it's being used for now. Yeah we moved in--there'd be about six of us at a time would move in--with one of the professors for six weeks and keep house, and cook, and try to fix her coffee just like she liked it. [Laughter]

Joyce J. Newman:

Was that fun?

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

I enjoyed it, and it was especially good for me because it was the only time I hadn't worked in the dining hall to be in school, so I loved it. But that was one of the requirements; your senior year you had to do that.

Joyce J. Newman:

When I went to UNCG we had dorm songs and each dorm had its own song. We had general assemblies of all the people on campus and we'd march as a dorm over, singing our dorm song. Did you ever do anything like that?

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

No, we did not do that. We had chapel or auditorium services every now and then when the whole student body would go, but it wasn't regular and it wasn't--. We didn't have any songs or anything like that.



Joyce J. Newman:

Did they have cultural events on campus?

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

Oh yes, they had them, and we had different opera singers and so forth and so on--outstanding singers and performers--come there and everything. But I didn't get to go because I was working and studying. I went to very few of them, but they were available and a lot of people went, of course, but I did not. Oh, and our senior year those of us in the home economics department that had indicated we'd like to go with the Farmer's Home Administration rather than teaching or something, we had to have a project. So my roommate and I had a garden there on the campus, and it was right where the baseball stadium is now. We had the prettiest garden you've ever seen. We had somebody plow it and we had to plant it and keep it up until graduation. And when we left at graduation it was just in full production, you know. I guess some of the professors were going to use it. But we had a garden right there where the baseball stadium is now.

Joyce J. Newman:

Why did you choose to do the Farmer's Home track?

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

I guess the reason I was interested in it because my family was one of those families that had to have government help when I was coming along. My dad had borrowed money from them, and I was interested for that reason; interested in helping others as we had been helped, I guess.

Joyce J. Newman:

Did your mother sell chickens and eggs?

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

No. When she was living we had the little store at the edge of town. We lived in one end of this real long building. The store was right there in the other end. But we did have chickens. Across the road from us we had a lot and had chickens, yes, and a cow, and a garden; produced just like we would if we had been on a farm. But all in all I guess today I would still be working on the farm somewhere down there if I had not gone



to school. I've had so many--. In my letter that I wrote to Mr. York I told him about some of the honors I have had and some of the accomplishments that I never would have had.

Joyce J. Newman:

Can you talk about some of those now?

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

I would love to. I'm proud of them. Well, one thing that comes to my mind immediately--since I've just been helping with a senior center golf tournament today--back in 1984 I was sitting at my desk at the funeral home one day when this lady came in and sat down with me. She says, "Myrtle, you have been chosen to be the fundraising chairman for a senior center for Statesville." We didn't have one. And--her name was Connie Leas--I said, "Connie, I feel honored that I've been chosen to do this, but there's no way I can do it. I've got so many things that I'm involved in, plus my work, and there's no way I can do it." She put her hands on her hips. She says, "Myrtle Westmoreland, if you don't do this, you'll never bury me!" Well, you better believe I found time to do it. [Laughter] In a few months I put together a committee that we raised five hundred thousand dollars and bought--. The Elk Lodge was moving from their building to a new building and we bought the old Elk building, and it's still the senior center, going strong, and has meant so much to this community.

I helped start the Welcome Wagon program in Statesville. I had an ulterior motive for doing that. I knew if I could visit the newcomers, it would help me PR for the funeral home. [Laughter] But I would have done it anyway, I'm sure. We needed a Welcome Wagon program here, and I helped start it and served as the assistant hostess for twenty-five years. That meant I did not do the visiting to the newcomers and take the basket of gifts and things, but I started a club for them and kept the club going. And the



club was so big at one time we had to divide it into two groups with about three or four hundred members. So it has gone on through the years. I helped to keep it going until last year, and now that so many of our industries are moving to China and so few people are coming in, we just decided to disband it. It had gotten so it was such a small group that we just decided to give up the charter and disband. But it met the need for fifty years, and it was very successful.

Another thing that I did that I'm proud of, through the funeral home, my husband and I started a support group for widowed persons, both men and women, who have lost their spouses. We started this and our first meeting was in 1978. It meets quarterly and it is still going strong. We have around seventy-five to ninety people at every meeting and I have kept that going and the funeral home representative, sponsor representative that has kept that going all these years. We started a support group called Compassionate Friends for parents that had lost children that has been very successful.

I've been president of everything in town. I was president two terms of the Statesville Woman's Club; two terms of the United Methodist Women at my church; before that I was president of the Junior Service League of Statesville; I've been president of the North Carolina Funeral Directors Auxiliary, which they used to have when we'd have out-of-state meetings, but they no longer have it, but they had it at one time, I was president of that; I have been president of the North Carolina Home Economics Association, which is made up of all the home economics teachers, the home agents, and all people with home economics degrees. I have been a busy person. [Laughter] I've had my fingers into everything, but it has been a very good feeling to know you've made some contributions to the community.



Joyce J. Newman:

So your aunt's contribution by signing that note paid off for the whole community of Statesville for a long, long time. [Laughter]

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

It did, it did. And I just lost my dear husband last year after sixty-three years. They say life is a series of adjustments, and I'm trying to make that adjustment now. And my daughter and her husband have insisted that I come to Cary and live with them after Glenn died, and I said, "I will never do that; definitely not." But recently, well after Glenn died, the day after his funeral, I thought I was going to the doctor for bronchitis, well it ended up, to make a long story short, I was in the hospital for three weeks with heart failure and pneumonia; had to have the shock treatment for my heart. Anyway, my daughter lived in Cary and she and her family were back and forth taking care of me and I thought that's an awful lot to put on them to have to do that. And recently I was going to Cary to visit them, and going down I was in the back seat--my brother and his wife, they were driving--and I had this strange feeling around my heart, and I didn't even tell them. I had some nitroglycerin tablets of my husband's in my pocketbook still and I took one of them and it cleared it up, so I didn't even tell them it had happened. Well when I got to Cary with my daughter it happened again. I thought, "I'd better tell her." She says, "Come on. We're going to the emergency room." Anyway, I ended up--. I told her instead of spending two nights with her I spent two nights in the most expensive rooms in Raleigh, the Wake Memorial." I had a catheterization and three stints put in. Well this made me realize that since I'm here alone now with no more family except my brother, I know that the time's going to come that I will need them more, if I live. So, recently, she and her family have an empty nest now and had a big house. Did I tell you this? They were ready to downsize and so



together we found this beautiful townhouse that's big enough that I'll have my quarters, they'll have their quarters, they'll have their privacy, I'll have my independence. And they're already--. They sold their house real fast, because they had a huge house and yard to keep up and they were ready to quit that, and they're already living there and I spend nights when I go down there now. We've been in it about a month. But I am not going to pull up my roots here. They're too deep to pull up. If this house here sells, if anybody wants it, they can buy it. I'm not going to openly market it. We have a second home out on Lake Norman that if this house sells, I'll just stay down there. And I'm planning to stay in Statesville as much as I can as long as I can, but I'll go down there a lot too.

Joyce J. Newman:

Well that's a good way to make the transition, knowing that probably later--.

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

While I'm able to help make it.

Joyce J. Newman:

And to be with them while you're able to, too.

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

Right, right. Anyway, Patty said, "Mama, I don't know how Statesville's going to run without you." She said, "But you can come on down here and help run Cary." [Laughter]

Joyce J. Newman:

I'm sure you will. [Laughter]

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

So I don't plan to do that, and I didn't run Statesville, but I have been involved in many worthwhile things.

Joyce J. Newman:

So is there anything that you'd like to add about ECU or your experience there?

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

Well, it was just a life-changing experience, is the only way I can describe it. It gave me the background, the foundation, the training, the maturing, that I needed at



that stage in life to send me on. And I think that's what universities do for people, and colleges. There's such a transition from high school to out in this world, and I think it's the thing to do. I encourage everybody I know to go on to higher education, and I've seen some of my cousins and some of my friends think they didn't want to go to college, and they'd get jobs, and after a year or two they'd decide they didn't want to keep on sweeping floors [Laughter] or parking cars or whatever and would decide to go on to college. And it's just something that I think, today--. And one of the governors is recommending--the governor candidates--is recommending that junior college be free for all--.

Joyce J. Newman:

I don't know how they could do that.

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

I don't either. It'd be us paying for it, of course. And I made the remark: He doesn't need to do that, because with the scholarships and the self-help work and the loans that are available today, anybody that really wants to go will have an opportunity to go, and I firmly believe that. I feel sorry for those people, though, that don't know what they want to go into. That's such a problem for so many young people. I did not have to go through that because I had made up my mind right off what I wanted to do. But for young people getting out of high school and trying to decide what career to head into, what college to go to, what to have as their major, it's quite a big problem, isn't it, for them?

Joyce J. Newman:

Well especially with the economy changing so, and not knowing where it's going to go, so you really don't know how to plan, except healthcare.

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

Right. I agree with Tom Brokaw, who wrote the book, "The Greatest Generation," those of us that grew up during the Depression and knew to appreciate



everything we had, or everything we didn't have that we wanted, we were a great generation, that we learned to cope and to manage and to be successful. These boys and girls these days just--. Most of them have enough affluency that they could go on if they wanted to, and most of them do, I think. I think your career programs that you have in the high schools--and we've helped with them a lot, to tell them about the funeral service career, and we've helped several students go to embalming school and funeral service. They have to have two years of college before they go to embalming school. We've encouraged and helped several do that, because if they made up their mind that's what they want to do, that's good that we can encourage them to go on and do it.

I know I've talked a lot. Maybe I haven't given you a chance to ask everything you wanted to ask.

Joyce J. Newman:

I think that's pretty much what comes to my mind. I really appreciate your taking time to do this.

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

Well it's been my pleasure. And I am in the midst right now--. I have put some funds in the North Carolina Foundation, and one of my purposes is to be able to do something for the University to pay back for what they did for me. And Jim knows that I'm working on that, and I'm just now getting into all this, after finally got my estate settled last week after a year and a half. But I'm going to do something definitely for something at the College, at the University, in appreciation for what they did for me.

Joyce J. Newman:

Well I think you've already done a lot that shows appreciation are the things you've done for other people since your graduation.

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

Well, I like to be involved in things and with people.

Joyce J. Newman:

Well I think I'm going to stop with that.



Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

Okay. I'm sure you've run out of [Laughter] tape or whatever.

Joyce J. Newman:

No, I can do 351 more hours [Laughter]--

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

Oh dear.

Joyce J. Newman:

--if you'd like.

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

I'd like to say that I not only appreciate what the University did for me, but what it has done for our whole eastern North Carolina. As I told you, we did not have a hospital in Plymouth. The nearest one was seventy miles away. Now most everybody in my area come to Greenville to the hospital. And what Dr. Leo Jenkins did in helping to get that hospital started, and what it has meant, not only to those that are going to school there, but to those who use the medical facilities there. I am so grateful for that, and so are all the eastern Carolina people. I think it--"Fergie" we called him, Ferguson, or something like, but we called him "Fergie"--in Plymouth was instrumental in getting Dr. Leo Jenkins started with that. He was in Greenville one Sunday afternoon and he decided he was going to go to Dr. Jenkins' door, knock on the door, and go in and tell him that we needed a hospital in that area of the state. And this was the beginning of Dr. Jenkins getting inspired, and it's been written up in some of the histories that I've read, that Dr. Ferguson--I think Ferguson's correct, but anyway--from Plymouth, this physician in Plymouth, going to Dr. Jenkins' door one Sunday and telling him how bad we needed something, was the beginning of that.

Joyce J. Newman:

I think the dental school will be another thing that has a similar effect.

Myrtle H. Westmoreland:

Absolutely. And we have a dentist in Statesville that I went to recently who graduated in the dental school at East Carolina. And he's from some other state, but he went there, and he's ended up in Statesville.



[End of Interview]

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