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George Gay

Clark Elementary School, Johnson Elementary School, Lane High School
Interviewed on October 4, 2022, by George Gilliam.

Full Transcript

GEORGE GILLIAM: [00:00:01] We’re interviewing George Gay, member of the Lane High School, class of 1966.  The interviewers are George Gilliam and Phyllis Leffler, and our videographer, as well as, sometimes interviewer, Lorenzo Dickerson.  We are trying to collect Mr. Gay’s recollections of the years during which he was in school, as part of an oral history project for the Albemarle Charlottesville Historical Society.  It’s October 4, 2022.  We’re in Mr. Gay’s house in Earlysville.  George, would you please give me your full name?

GEORGE GAY: [00:00:50] Yeah, it’s George Warren Gay.  

GILLIAM: [00:00:53] And your middle name?  

GG: [00:00:55] Warren.

GILLIAM: [00:00:56] W-A-R-R-E-N?

GG: [00:00:58] W-A-R-R-E-N.

GILLIAM: [00:01:05] What is your date of birth?

GG: [00:01:07] June 14, 1947.  Flag day.

GILLIAM: [00:01:20] Can you tell me something about your parents, and their level of education, and where they worked?

GG: [00:01:29] Well, my father was, he basically went to high school down at the Midway Building, then at the top of Vinegar Hill there, then he worked for the Railway Express, the C&O station, I mean the Southern Station, on Main Street for about forty years.  And he had end up having a, I guess being around all those old steam engines, and coal engines and all, end up developing emphysema.  Made it kind of rough on him like that.  [00:02:00] Then my mother was born down in,I mean here in Charlottesville, both of them born here in Charlottesville.  And she worked for the Martha Jefferson Hospital for 40 years, 45 years, I think it was.  And she was actually head of the central supply, doing all the sterilization, [filling up that?] for many a year.

GILLIAM: [00:02:28] Do you have siblings?

GG: [00:02:30] Got two sisters, two older sisters.  Carol and Jan, they basically followed my mother in the nursing profession.  Both of those were RNs also, for many a year.

GILLIAM: [00:02:52] Where did you live in Charlottesville?

GG: [00:02:55] Well, in elementary school, I went to Clark Elementary School, lived over on Goodman Street, [00:03:00] over near Belmont Market.  And then from there, I think when I was in the fifth grade, we moved out to Fry Springs, on Price Avenue, over near the stadium, near Scott Stadium.

GILLIAM: [00:03:21] Did you live there in Fry Spring’s area?

GG: [00:03:26] I lived there until I moved out here actually.  On that part of it, we got married in ’71.  We rented an apartment for the first year, then moved out here, but I always lived on Goodman Street, I mean Price Avenue, all the way through high school.  Most of grammar school, and high school.

PHYLLIS LEFFLER: [00:03:44] So when you moved out to Belmont, did you change schools then?

GG: [00:03:49] Yeah, I went to Clark Elementary School, was right over from Goodman Street and all, where we lived, and then from there went to Johnson Elementary School.  [00:04:00]

GILLIAM: [00:04:13] You were referred to as the most athletic person in your high school class.

GG: [00:04:19] (Laughs) Well, they put that honor on me when I was a senior I guess, but I just love sports.

GILLIAM: [00:04:27] So tell me about how athletics are important to you?  What do you do for exercise?

GG: [00:04:34] Exercise, you meet a whole lot of nice people also.  You get to know them, and become friends with them from all, you know from basically, a little bit of everything because you have.  I was fortunate enough to play football, basketball, and baseball, and all that part of it.  So I had a whole different group of athletes and all, that I was associated with through the years.  [00:05:00] Being able doing that, and I played softball, and baseball and all, in the summertime also.  It just gives you, you get to know people, you get to appreciate them, what they can do athletically, and mentally and all, also.  You just develop friendships and everything from it, and I think that’s probably what kept me out of a lot of trouble.  On that part of it, was the sports because I was always doing something somewhere along the line.  It was just a great experience, I can remember every afternoon and all, when I get out of school, be heading to the playground, or either gym, at Clark School to play football, or basketball, or whatever was, baseball, or whatever was going on.  Just went through Little League, the Junior League, and then onto high school.  

GILLIAM: [00:05:48] You were a significant player in several sports as a high school student, were you recruited to play on the college level?

GG: [00:06:00] I was when I was in -- no, I was not recruited to play in college, and all that part of it.  I ended up going to Eastern Kentucky my freshman year, once I got out of high school.  From there, and then my dad got, he just really turned, health turned south, so I moved back from Eastern Kentucky.  I moved to VCU down in Richmond, on that part.  Just to be close to the home.

GILLIAM: [00:06:30] You did not play sports at either of those schools?

GG: [00:06:34] No, I didn’t.  I tried out for basketball down at Eastern Kentucky and all, but I was late signing in when I went down there.  And I was trying to actually -- I was recruited a little bit and all, for the West Point Military Academy to go up there, but anyway I hadn’t end up not getting.  [00:07:00] I had congressional appointments and everything, from Senator Roberts and all, to go.  But anyway, evidently I couldn’t pass the test to get in, on that part of it!  Everything worked out good, because anyway I started having trouble with my ears once I got in college and all, on that part of it.  But anyway, baseball was basically a walk-on down at VCU, and I played when I was in high school.  And one of the friends and I, Mike Wolfe and all, he said you need to come out, and try out for the baseball team and all, he sat down with us.  There’s no scholarships or anything, it was just whoever was there to go to play, wanted to play, and that’s the way we ended up doing it.  And I ended up having a wonderful time, and all.  I met some great people at the college level, when I played, and we had a pretty decent team and all, at that time, also.  

GILLIAM: [00:07:51] That was VCU?

GG: [00:07:53] VCU.  Yes, sir.

GILLIAM: [00:08:04] In the yearbooks, you’re referred to a couple points as a member of the Student Cooperative Association, and the Monogram Club.  Could you tell us about those?

GG: [00:08:18] Yeah, the Monogram Club was basically tied up with -- you had to have a letter from the school, and if you had played enough hours in each sport, you could what they call lettering, for football, and basketball, and like that.  And then that, all those guys would get into the Monogram Club and all.  We’d do, you know, projects and everything, for the school, and promote the sports, and stuff like that.

PL: [00:08:51] Were these all sports-related letters?  

GG: [00:08:54] Yes, ma’am.

PL: [00:08:55] So the Monogram Club, [00:09:00] people didn’t get letters for other things, like music or theater?

GG: [00:09:02] No, the music and all, I think, had their own, but it was mainly sports, on that part of it.  Football, basketball, and baseball, and track.  They had track and all, at that time, but.

GILLIAM: [00:09:13] How about the Cooperative Association?

GG: [00:09:19] I don’t remember a whole lot about that, and on that part of it, and all      George, that’s -- I can’t remember much about that one though, for some reason.  

GILLIAM: [00:09:31] What kind of a student were you?  

GG: [00:09:33] Average, on that part of it.  I’d rather be playing football, and basketball, and baseball, than sitting in a classroom.  But I had a whole lot of friends that did both, that went on to, you know, get scholarships, academic scholarships, and everything.  And tied in with the sports and all too, at that time.  But I just was never really a great, great student, I guess it is, on that part of it.  

GILLIAM: [00:10:05] You had some interesting stops along the way.

GG: [00:10:07] Oh yeah, I did, on that part of it.  I had a great life so far.

GILLIAM: [00:10:12] Focusing on your high school years, starting with the schools you attended from sixth grade on?

GG: [00:10:24] Johnson School.  We had a pretty neat mixture of, I guess kids and all, a lot of athletes and all.  All of us were, they had a nice gym, classes and all, at that time.  So they made you go to gym, and football, and then whatever sport was in,     we’d play.  But anyway, the Johnson Elementary School we had, I guess it was when I was a sophomore in high school that we ended up winning the state championship.  [00:11:00] We had 22 sophomores on the team, and I think it was 16 of them came from Johnson Elementary School.

GILLIAM: [00:11:05] What years would that have been?

GG: [00:11:08] Oo-wee, at Johnson Elementary School?  I guess it was say, ’47.  I guess it’s from ’56, ’57 to ’63, I guess.  Yeah, ’61.  

PL: [00:11:37] Fifty-seven to sixty-one?

GG: [00:11:39] I think that’s right.  That’s pretty close.

PL: [00:11:42] That makes sense      because     you graduated Lane in ’62.

GG: [00:11:43] Yes, ma’am.  But going from Johnson to Lane and everything, we basically went there in the eighth grade.  So we were through the seventh grade at Johnson, [00:12:00] and then, the eighth grade and all, was at Lane High School.  Big school, I could remember, never ever think we’d find their way around.  At that time, Johnson was a nice school though.  

GILLIAM: [00:12:25] Now what was Lane High School’s students made up, what kind of students did they have up until we left in 1966?

GG: [00:12:39] A wide range, and all that part of it.  We had kids that, you know, would go to -- not Home Ec, they called it, (inaudible) actually the work program, and they could go to school, for like four hours, and then from there, they’d go work a job in the afternoon, for four.  [00:13:00] We had people from, you know all, wide -- had doctor’s daughters and sons, and had a little bit of everything, wide variety.

GILLIAM: [00:13:14] What percentage of the students, during your years at Lane, were white?

GG: [00:13:23] Percentage-wise, I’d say -- you know, the biggest majority percentage-wise, probably 90.  When I first started there, I don’t think we had kids that came from Burley.  Or Jefferson, over that time, I think it was like, six or seven, when I was -- it was right at less than ten, I think.  [00:14:00] In 1962, ’61 to ’62, I think that’s what it was.  Lot of friends that I met, had a whole lot of friends there.  

PL: [00:14:14] When you said the number 10, you’re thinking there were about 10 African-Americans at Lane total, at that time?

GG: [00:14:21] Yes, ma’am.  At that time, I think that was probably pretty close.  It may have been a few more, on that part of it.  I know, on the football team and all, we had two, four -- we had four guys in 1963, when we won the state championship.  Roland and Ronald Woodfolk, Paul Scott, and George King.  

PL: [00:14:49] We’ve spoken to the Woodfolk brothers.

GG: [00:14:51] Oh, you have?  Yep.  They’re cool dudes, I haven’t seen them -- well, I did see them back at -- they had a reunion.  [00:15:00] They recognized us at Lane High -- at Charlottesville High School now.  They recognized the football team of ’63 of Lane, and also Burley, over that time.  I think that’s the last time I’ve seen them.  

PL: [00:15:19] I don’t think they come down to Charlottesville too often, we went out to where they are.

GG: [00:15:26] Where are they living?

PL: [00:15:29] Lorenzo, do you remember the area?  I can’t remember what they called it.  

LORENZO DICKERSON: [00:15:33] Waldorf, Maryland.

GG: [00:15:35] Oh, Waldorf, Maryland?  Okay, yeah.  Yeah, they were pretty cool.  Those guys could run, woo!  They were fast.

GILLIAM: [00:15:47] Up until your last year, when they started to really transfer a lot of the Burley students, [00:16:00] how many athletic teams did Burley have, do you remember?

GG: [00:16:09] I’m not really sure, I know they had the football and basketball.  I’m not sure about baseball, they probably did, and then I think they had a nice track team also.  Burley had some good athletes.  

GILLIAM: [00:16:33] Then in 1966, when they started transferring, really to prepare Burley for closing, you have one year where a large percentage of the students were Black?

GG: [00:16:53] I couldn’t tell you what percentage it was, I’m just not really sure on that part of it.  [00:17:00] I know we had, because I associated -- I mean, I knew a lot of the sisters and brothers of the guys I played with, like Robert Harris, Frankie Allen.  And then you brought something to my attention, I had sort of forgot his name, was French Jackson, and DuPratt Johnson, I knew DuPratt very well.  I used to take Robert and Frankie home after basketball practice every night because we’d -- at that time, Chip Connor was our coach.  The JVs would practice first right after school, and then we’d have our practice after that.  That was our senior year and all, and I used to give them a ride home every night, to get them home and all.  So I knew where they lived that, knew them, mom and dad, the sisters and brothers, and all like that, and they’re really good guys.  [00:18:00]

PL: [00:18:04] So that means you drove to school on most days?

GG: [00:18:07] Yes, ma’am.  I was fortunate enough to have a little car that my brother-in-law and sister gave me, on that part.  One of the saying, [hell or Mart’s manna?].  

PL: [00:18:15] I’ll have to remember that, (inaudible).

GG: [00:18:27] Robert, Frankie both, were excellent basketball players.  Dupret’s actually in -- at that time, I think he had the funeral home.  Johnson’s Funeral Home, and all that, it’s what he went on to run.  His parents and everything were doing that, at that time.

PL: [00:18:43] So could I just clarify for a moment.  When you say Frankie, you’re talking about Frankie Allen, who you took home?  

GG: [00:18:48] Frankie Allen, yes.

PL: [00:18:50] And Robert was?

GG: [00:18:52] Robert Harris.

PL: [00:18:53] Robert Harris?

GG: [00:18:54] Robert Harris, yes.  And Frankie actually went, [00:19:00] once he got out of high school, he went and played at Lynchburg College.  For basketball, I think it was Lynchburg.  Then actually went on to Virginia Tech, and actually came back and was Head Basketball Coach at Virginia Tech.

PL: [00:19:18] We’ve interviewed Frankie Allen too.  So that was wonderful that we could do that.

GG: [00:19:23] Yeah, he’s a good dude.

GILLIAM: [00:19:26] So when you were in say, tenth grade, do you remember which sports you were playing?

GG: [00:19:37] When I was in the tenth grade?  I was playing football and basketball.  But that football season started, at least by the 1st of August, if not a little bit before.  And from there, it ran all the way through until after Nov-- well Thanksgiving.  [00:20:00] And then from Thanksgiving, soon as I got out of, came off the football field, I went in through the gym for basketball.  Stayed all the way through after the end of basketball season.  And I was sort of burned out, that’s why I didn’t play baseball my junior year, I mean, sophomore/junior year. 

GILLIAM: [00:20:19] Well according to what we were able to find, the year that you were in tenth grade, ’63/64, there were three black athletes on the basketball team.  Dupret Johnson, French Jackson, and Donald Martin.

GG: [00:20:38] Donald Martin, right.

GILLIAM: [00:20:44] I don’t remember offhand what the total number of African-American students in Lane, at that time, what the total was.  It was a pretty small number.  [00:21:00] Did you and your classmates anticipate that Burley would be closed, and the students transferred to Lane, were they paying attention?

GG: [00:21:10] No.  Me personally, I was not, any part of it.

GILLIAM: [00:21:14] How about some of the students, were there kids who became activists, they wanted to stop that?  Or others, who wanted to encourage it?  What was going on?

GG: [00:21:30] Not that I can remember on that, George.  I know, the athletic community and all, you just evaluate them as a teammate, on that part of it.  And I think that’s why we end up being successful eventually, and all.

GILLIAM: [00:21:50] Then in ’64/65, you had Robert Harris and Frankie Allen.  [00:22:00] Then in ’65/66, Frankie Allen and Robert Harris?

GG: [00:22:08] Right, that’s correct.  They were good football, I mean good basketball players.

GILLIAM: [00:22:17] So putting aside your personal reactions, how did the students react to desegregation?

GG: [00:22:31] I can’t remember anything out of the ordinary.  Now that’s been a good while ago.  

GILLIAM: [00:22:45] Were there any scuffles that you saw?

GG: [00:22:49] Not until after I got out of school.  I went back to some of the ball games a few years later, down at Lane High School.  [00:23:00] There were some fights and all, going on down there, and that part of it.  But other than --

GILLIAM: [00:23:06] And that would’ve been when, ’68 or ’69?

GG: [00:23:10] I think that’s right.  I believe that what’s what it was, because I --

GILLIAM: [00:23:14] And what was the nature of the scuffle?  Who started it, and what started it?

GG: [00:23:21] I can’t remember that because I was -- (Laughs) I didn’t, I just --

GILLIAM: [00:23:24] You’re not guilty?

GG: [00:23:26] No, I wasn’t guilty, I wasn’t involved in that part of it.  No, it’s -- I don’t know whether they were -- I really don’t know, I can’t remember on that part of it.  

GILLIAM: [00:23:52] Some of the students got pretty active.  Were you ever in the middle of any of the political activities?

GG: [00:24:00] No, I was not.  (Inaudible), I was looking for a ball to play with somewhere.

GILLIAM: [00:24:08] You talked about practice time, and playing time, with the African-Americans in your class, or in the school.  Was the rest of your life segregated pretty well?  

GG: [00:24:29] Yes, I think so.

GILLIAM: [00:24:35] What have been the successes in your life?  What have you been really good at, and proud of?

GG: [00:24:47] Going to high school, well we end up winning the state championship in football.  In the same year we won the state championship in football, [00:25:00] we lost every basketball game that year.  Probably never won the first one, on that part of it.  You sort of remember that stuff and all, and that’s when Gene Arnette was playing, and George Foussekis.  They both, and Don Thacker, they were playing football and basketball.  So we went from being successful in football, to being the doormat in basketball the same year, and all that part of it.  Then my senior year and everything, I was in basketball.  I was like the captain of the basketball team, and that year, we went through football and basketball season, and I looked around, I said, “What am I going to do now?  This is the last year I’m be here, the last semester.”  So I went out for the baseball team.  [00:26:00] Joe Bingler was actually the football coach, and the baseball coach, and that’s where I got back into baseball.  I went out and made the baseball team.  I hadn’t played for what, three years, and that carried on to when I went to college.

GILLIAM: [00:26:14] Second baseman?

GG: [00:26:16] Yes, played second base.  Mike Cubbage was playing and all, at that time.  

PL: [00:26:27] Can you describe for us, what it felt like, both within the school, and within the community, when you won that state championship?  Was there a lot of celebration going on, was there just euphoria in the school, or any, what was it like?

GG: [00:26:47] It was really neat and all.  I guess it started when -- because our class never really lost a JV game or a varsity game.  [00:27:00] We end up getting tied twice by the same school, Patrick Henry out of Roanoke.  But anyway, everybody recognized you around town, anywhere you went.  They’d give us jackets, or a letter sweater, sitting and watching us on football games.  But we would always come down to the field, about an hour and a half ahead of time to do our warm-ups and everything, and when we’d come out of the locker room across the parking lot up to the top of the hill there, it was people standing three and four, and the stands were full, at that time.  And people standing three and four around the endzone, like that, and that, they’d have to clear the way for us to get on the field, even to do their warm-ups, and then when we came back for the game-time, it was probably even worse than that.  It was like every game, it was just, it was really a unique atmosphere on all that part of it, and all.  [00:28:00]   

PL: [00:28:02] That was before you won the state championship, or during that whole year?

GG: [00:28:06] During that whole year, during that season.  It started actually the year before that, on that part.

PL: [00:28:15] So lots of people from the community would come out.  Parents of kids in the school, and others as well.

GG: [00:28:21] Yeah, they’d have a pep rally, front of the school, out there on the steps and everything, where we was at, and the whole yard, all the students and everything, would get out and come in for the pep rally and all, before every game.  I guess it’s homecoming, they used to have a bonfire, down on the field, where the old baseball field used to be, down on that part of it.  It was just really, really neat.  Everywhere you went, people would talk about Lane football, and it’s just a great feeling to be a part of it.  [00:29:00]  And I’m sure most of the people that played are just -- we had a lot of pride, a whole lot of pride.

PL: [00:29:07] You won the championship in ’63? 

GG: [00:29:09] Three, yes.

PL: [00:29:12] So in ’63, Lane High School had some black players on the team, but a lot of other schools did not, I’ll bet, that you played.

GG: [00:29:25] No we didn’t, we had -- at that time, we had George King, Paul Scott, and then the Woodfolks, Ronnie and Roland Woodfolk, and everything, that were on the varsity team and all.  We went to play GW Danville, down there, and we always accused, I mean always kidded George and Roland, said it’s the first time we’ve seen y’all turn white down there.  [00:30:00] It was a nasty experience and everything.  When we came out of the locker room, they had fans lined up on both sides of the walk and all, where we had to go down to the field, that were just using all kinds of language.  It had me scared, and I know it scared those boys and all like that, because they were the only Black guys on the team and all, and Danville down there were -- they hadn’t started in the school systems down there, at that time.  We end up beating them,      but I guess it’s 21 to nothing, or something like that.  We left, they were throwing chairs at the bus.  They followed us over to Shoney’s Restaurant, they end up not even stopping there to eat and all, because all the people that were following the bus and all, [00:31:00] so we went somewhere else and got something to eat and all, on that part.  Headed on out of town, then stopped again, but it was an experience for those guys.

GILLIAM: [00:31:08] Was Danville the only place where you got that sort of warm reception?

GG: [00:31:11] Pretty much so, on that part of it.  That’s the one that sticks in my mind, on that part of it.

PL: [00:31:20] Did your coach play any role in dealing with that situation?

GG: [00:31:25] Oh yeah, they did.  They tried to protect us as best they could, on that part of it.  Willie Barnett, and --

PL: [00:31:34] Had you known when you went to Danville that there might be trouble down there?

GG: [00:31:43] I didn’t remember, on that part of it.  I didn’t think anything would been of it, because we’ve been other places and played, with the guys and everything, on the team.  I really hadn’t thought of it, Danville was just, I guess an exception to it.  [00:32:00] But it was kind of a scary night, on that part of it.  When you think back of it, I may have been too young to realize exactly what was going on, but anyway it was -- we got in and got out okay, and they were better being better people for it, too. 

GILLIAM: [00:32:22] So what do the coaches say when you got back to Charlottesville, maybe the next day, when your coaches are critiquing the game? 

GG: [00:32:37] I really can’t remember on that, George.  They were always supportive, I mean you looked up to these guys.  Back in those days, you felt like the coaches and everything, walked on water, which is a whole lot different from sports, and everything, these days, on that part of it.  And we’d probably done anything for them.  [00:33:00]  

GILLIAM: [00:33:06] Was the Danville situation discussed so that you could be sort of differently prepared for the next encounter?

GG: [00:33:16] Well as I remember, I think it did go over it and all, when we got back on the bus and everything.  It’s kind of vague on that part, I can’t remember exactly what was discussed and all, but it was kind of an eerie feeling.  And I put myself in those guy’s places, and I know they were -- we even still talked about it when we’re at the meetings and everything, when we had the reunion stuff.  George King, he was a great football player, and he was just amazed that anything like that would go on, I guess.  [00:34:00] I guess all of us were, at that time.

GILLIAM: [00:34:02] For most of you, was this your first and only real experience with --

GG: [00:34:07] Yep, it was, best I can remember.  (Inaudible), that was the only one.  Because Danville, at that time -- I don’t think, I think the other schools, Richmond and where we played a lot of the games and all, I think they’d already started in having black athletes on the teams, and all.  

GILLIAM: [00:34:43] The Burley Alumni formed a Burley Varsity Club in 2007, to try to commemorate the history of the school, [00:35:00] and they’ve done things to try to take the old baseball diamond, and the old football field, and tried to upgrade it, and put a lot of effort into it.  And they all have sort of a very, very close admiration for their teachers, and their coaches, and they’re trying to recapture some of that.  Does Lane have anything similar to that, Charlottesville?  

GG: [00:35:37] Not that I know of.  Tim Morris was doing something like alumni association for football, but I don’t know exactly what’s going on with that now, to be truthful with you.  We have the get-togethers every now and then.  Dave Sloane, and Brock Strickler, [00:36:00] all of them got everybody together for that little reunion thing they did on football night down there, for our class reunions.  Because we had, I guess, I don’t know, in my class, I know we had like 22 football players, at that time, when I was a sophomore, that went through the three, basically four years together playing football.  So when we have that class reunion, a lot of us get together, on that part of it.  

GILLIAM: [00:36:39] So are there any other activities that the Lane Alumni have undertaken to sort of memorialize -- are there enough of your teammates still around too?

GG: [00:36:55] Yeah, we lose them every year, I know that, [00:37:00] but I’m not really sure on that part of it.  They had a -- god, it was -- I guess that was when Gene Arnette was living.  They did a little thing, Bob [Brock] Strickler and Foussekis, and Arnette, Rick Severn.  Some of the older guys, they had a little get-together, at one of the restaurants and everything.  I was just out of town that weekend, but I can’t remember exactly what was going on now on that.  They used to try to get together at times, and I guess everybody sort of split up.  It’s a little hard to -- I just can’t remember anything on that part of it. 

GILLIAM: [00:37:54] You mentioned the high regard you have for some of your teachers, [00:38:00] could you be specific and tell what teachers you really like, and what’s your relationship with them was?

GG: [00:38:12] Well, teachers-wise, Mrs. Laura Burnett was the Spanish teacher, and she was one of our class -- what do you call them -- sponsors, I guess it is.  She was that on that part of it, and her husband, at that time, was Dr. Bill Burnett, and he actually came in as one of the assistant basketball coaches for Dave Cook and Chuck Connor, when I was playing basketball.  Then you talked about the other teachers, was Mr. Grant Eddy, [00:39:00] he was the algebra teacher.  He was just a nice, just a super-nice person and all.  When I went to VCU, Grant was actually working for Concrete Pipe, a company down in Richmond.  And he owned a boarding house, he owned one of the old houses in the Fan District.  I saw him -- I forgot where I saw him at -- one of the functions and everything.  He found out I was coming to Richmond.  He said, “George if you want to, I’m sort of offering you a job, but not a job, but I’ll give you a room to stay in, if you help me keep one of my apartment.”  Basically, I was collecting rent, and handing out sheets each week to the renters.  Because he had about eight or nine, had eight rooms and everything, in the house that he was renting out by the week, [00:40:00] to people who work down in Richmond.  He actually got me a job at Concrete Pipe during the summertime, when I was going to summer school there.  There was a little restaurant right around the corner, from where I used to eat all the time.  And the guy’s name around there was [Jeff Dowd?], an Armenian dude, and he and Grant were great buddies, and he said you need to give George a job.  You sure don’t help him, he’ll come over and help you, so I used to go over there and work in the mornings, work breakfast before I went to school.  And in the evenings, when I finished up -- and he would always give me a meal, and he paid me -- but if I was working lunch, I’d get lunch.  If I was working dinnertime, he’d give me dinner and everything like that, and all.  But Mr. Eddy took care of that, he was the one responsible for getting all that stuff set up, and I stayed with him for three years, when I was there.  And then you go back to the coaches, Joe Bingler, [00:41:00] he lived over in Belmont, right over from Goodman Street.  He lived on, right over from Phil’s place -- Graves, lived over on Graves Avenue.  He was already coaching, and he was teaching Phys Ed at Burnley-Moran.  When I was going to Clark, I was just a couple blocks away from where he lived at, so I knew he was a coach.  He would see us all in the neighborhood, over there playing lot ball, from time to time.  So I got to know him, he said, “You need to come in and start playing football and all, for us.”  Anyway, once he got into high school, and then Tommy Theodose -- I mean, you just respect these guys to the utmost, you’re scared to death of them.  They were really like father figures, you didn’t want to disappoint them, in any way.  I think that’s probably what they were such a good influence on all of us, [00:42:00] and they were hard on us, on that part of it.  When we had our class reunions, we always invite those guys back.  Coach Theodose told me over there one time, he said, “George, you know, I couldn’t coach these days and times.”  He said, “For the stuff I put y’all through, they’d light me up today,” on that part of it.  (Laughs)  He said it’s just a different, “y’all were a different breed of people and all like that, at that time,” than what’s happened as athletes, as we’ve progressed up to today’s time.  I said, “Coach, those some good memories.  You were hard on us, but we respected you to the utmost for it.”

GILLIAM: [00:43:00] I interviewed him twice, and he’s the real deal.  

GG: [00:43:06] Yeah, he was, and he had a great reputation.  You didn’t want to disappoint him.  Dave Cook was the same way.  Dave was basically JV football coach, and a varsity basketball coach.  And I can just remember when he was doing all that stuff.  We’d have practice and everything, and after we finished up practice, he was down at the Carriage Cleaners, down at Meadow creek.  Down at the laundry mat and all, that he and Nick, and all of them had together.  He’d go in and work that evening, for three, four, or five hours, and everything, until he got all that stuff done, and come back the next day and all.  So you knew stuff like that, what they were going through.  [00:44:00] But they were nice people, they had a lot of influence on all the student-athletes, and all.

GILLIAM: [00:44:17] Phyllis, do you have additional questions?

PL: [00:44:20] I do have a few.  You said earlier that Burley had a great team, did you ever go to the Burley games?

GG: [00:44:35] Yeah, I went to -- I was able to go to see at least one of them, I remember.  But actually before, my dad took me down there, before I started playing in high school.  See, the games and everything, they were playing basically the same time we were playing, on that part of it.  But I did see one and all before, before I actually started playing in high school.

PL: [00:45:00] So your dad took you to the (inaudible) --

GG: [00:45:02] Yeah, he did.

PL: [00:45:02] Just to show you what (inaudible) looked like?

GG: [00:45:04] Yeah, sure did.  Well he’d -- working at the Railway Express and everything.  At that time, we lived over on Ninth Street.  He had a lot of friends and all that were, you know, were going, the parents and everything, those kids were playing at Burley, on that part of it.  He knew a lot of those guys.

PL: [00:45:26] So there would’ve been black families that were, that he was friendly with?

GG: [00:45:28] Yes, yes, yes.  He knew them, I didn’t really know them that well.  

PL: [00:45:34] Right, right.  You said you played your games at the same time now.  I think some people have told us that Lane, or Burley, one or the other, changed the timing of their game, so that people could go to both games.  

GG: [00:45:57] It may have been and all, I never really paid that -- [00:46:00] when I was going to school, and playing and all, I never went to the Burley games then.  I went, that was before, on that part.  It may have been on that part of it, I’m not 100 percent sure, on that part.  Because we were --

PL: [00:46:13] The Brown decision, the Supreme Court Brown decision that required integration of schools, happens in 1954.  You’re at Johnson School in ’57, and then you enter Lane in ’61.  So do you remember, can you talk about that, about the desegregation is coming, that black kids and white kids are gonna go to school together?  Do you remember any, any talk of that in your home, in the neighborhood?  

GG: [00:46:47] I do remember this part of it, I remember that my younger sister, which is actually older than I am.  [00:47:00] She was basically at Lane, at that time, and what they did when all this was going on, they had certain places and all, that they were holding the classes and everything.  At different houses, and everything, they’d have them set up, they weren’t going to Lane.

PL: [00:47:14] That was when the schools closed.  The schools closed (inaudible).

GG: [00:47:15] Yeah, yeah, when the schools closed and all, she was going to different, different houses, or different location.  I do remember some of that, on that part of it.  But that’s all I remember about it.  

PL: [00:47:28] You don’t remember much discussion, you don’t remember your parents talking about it at all?  They just -

GG: [00:47:32] No, do not.  

PL: [00:47:35] You also said, you know, that you drove some of the teammates and black kids home after practice, and that you knew their families.  Did you ever get together for like, pick-up games or such, on the weekends, and just played together, or was that mostly just a school thing?

GG: [00:47:57] Just a school event and everything, on that part of it.  [00:48:00] Because we were play pretty much [at work?] by the time you get through the week, in order to play pick-up games anywhere on that part of it.  During the summertime there I did -- we used to get together.  Dino, who played basketball at Burley, and it was a couple of black guys from Burley and all, and [Sean Mooney?] and all, we’d play over at Forest Hills Park.  But this was during the summertime, on that part of it.  Not during the regular season though, because we were -- the coaches and all, didn’t want you being playing pick-up stuff.  They didn’t want you to get hurt anywhere, on the weekend.  [Others too?], you get hurt anywhere, you get hurt when you’re playing in school, and all that part of it.

PL: [00:49:00] Have you stayed in touch with teammates, you know, from that time?  And then you mentioned a couple of them, like (inaudible).

GG: [00:49:08] Yeah, the --

PL: [00:49:11] Have you stayed in touch with like.  George King or (inaudible).

GG: [00:49:14] No, I haven’t.  I’ve just seen George at the little gatherings they’ve had, on that part of it.  I see Brock Strickler through work, Rick Severn, I used to see him.  David Sloane’s a neighbor.  Keith Franklin, lives down behind us.  Then I lost one of my good buddies, [Rudy Morris?], he just passed away.  Seen him all the time, he was a classmate.  Tommy Dean, stay in touch with him, David Trice, a lot of football players and all, we do send a text every now and then.  But as far as getting together on a regular basis, no.  No, and it’s really a shame that we don’t, because that was some good times of all of our lives.  [00:50:00]

PL: [00:50:03] Sounds like it was really important for you, to develop mentally, just in terms of your own life experience.  

GG: [00:50:12] Yeah, it was that, had a good time.  But anyway, we had --

PL: [00:50:17] Are you an avid fan, do you watch a lot of football?

GG: [00:50:24] I’ve been going to Virginia football games since I moved on Price Avenue, when I was five or six years old, or seven, whatever it was.  And I used to sell drinks at the stadium and all, just to be able to get in to watch them play, on that part of it.  But I’ve been going to Virginia games since then, and I’m still going now, on that part of it.  Baseball, I try to see a couple VCU baseball games every year, on that part of it.  Where they play in Richmond, and when they come up here to play Virginia here, [00:51:00] I try to go to watch that, on that part of it.  

GILLIAM: [00:51:09] Lorenzo?

LD: [00:51:12] Don’t think I have anything, I don’t have anything to add.

GG: [00:51:15] I’d like to, and I will eventually, and all that part of it.  We have our class reunion committee, and I’ve been a little bit involved in that and all.  To where to get back, and try to get in touch with all of the old classmates and all.  But we’ve tried, we’ve reached out to, you know, everybody that we know that’s still living.  Trying to find them, to let them know, because we have a class reunion every five years, instead of ten, like a lot of people do, on that part of it.  And that was the class of ’66, so we still have (inaudible) people, a lot of athletes we’re losing.  Like you’re saying, we’re losing more of them each year.  [00:52:00]  

GILLIAM: [00:52:03] Do you have any stuff, posters, listing of the players, any of that stuff?  Did your mother may have saved?

GG: [00:52:17] Got some old programs.

GILLIAM: [00:52:19] Are they in a position, where we could maybe copy them?

GG: [00:52:22] Sure!  Yeah, I’ll get those for you today.  You don’t need them right now though, do you?

GILLIAM: [00:52:28] Pardon?

GG: [00:52:28] You don’t need them right now, do you?

GILLIAM: [00:52:29] No, no.

GG: [00:52:31] No, we got a bunch of that stuff, and you know, old clippings.

GILLIAM: [00:52:36] Keith Franklin is giving us, I think it’s 15 movies, movie --

PL: [00:52:46] Reels.

GILLIAM: [00:52:47] Reel of all the games.

GG: [00:52:51] Yeah, that’s cool.  Yeah, he had them, Bill Britton had them at one time.  And then I think Bill passed away, and I think he got them to Keith before then.  [00:53:00]

PL: [00:53:04] How do you spell Britton?  Who is that, Bill Britton?

GG: [00:53:06] Well, Bill Britton’s actually the best man in our wedding, and he and I -- I got him and brought him in.  He was living with me, down in Richmond, that house that Grant Eddy owned down there, he and I were sharing a big room down there.  And Bill was, at that time, he was a sophomore, I think it was.  We won the state championship, and he came in and started playing football, and then he went from there.  He went da-- he was in school with VCU with me there.  And then he end up being the county administrator for down in Farmville, I can’t remember the county down there.  

PL: [00:53:56] And how would he have gotten all these films, do you know, would he have?  [00:54:00]

GG: [00:54:08] There was Johnny, I can’t remember who, I want to say Paul Phipps was, Paul Phipps was the one, he’s the one who owns Rudy’s Cleaners.  And he cleaned all the uniforms for us every year, I mean every game, for football, basketball, and stuff like that.  And he was also, he did all the scouting for us, for Theodose, and Bingler at that time, we were playing football.  And I can’t remember who was taking, I thought he had something to do with filming, but I know Bill had ended up with them somehow, and then Keith got them from him.  Johnny Atkins was a guy who did photography at one time, and he was one of their trainers.  He may have gotten them for him, too.  [00:55:00] I can’t remember exactly where he did get them from.          

PL: [00:55:05] That’s understandable.  That’s understandable that you don’t know.  That’s a long-term history, isn’t it?

GG: [00:55:13] In this head, the old memory’s kind of fuzzy.

PL: [00:55:17] Is there anything you’d like, anything we haven’t asked, that you’d like to add?

GG: [00:55:23] No, I just think sports is, it just really played a big, big part in my life.  Where I met a lot of people, and a lot of good people, and made a lot of friendships, on that.  Because when after I finished playing baseball in college and all, I played fast-pitch softball, here in town, with Stacey’s Music Stop, Woody’s, and some other teams.  We’d travel all over, basically the East Coast and everything, playing.  Met a lot of people from out of town.  [00:56:00] Salisbury, Maryland and all, every time that we’d go to Salisbury, Maryland, my buddy   Peyton Humphreys was the one that kept the fast-pitch going here.  He and I would always travel together, and we’d go to Salisbury, Maryland.  We would go up on Friday, but we wouldn’t play until Saturday and Sunday, and we met a couple guys, Phil Wright, and Dave Mueller, I think was his name, and he used to pitch.  We used to go up and have dinner with them, and they were opponents.  So we’d go out to dinner and everything that weekend, and when they’d come down here, if it worked out, they’d come early and we’d go out to dinner down here.  We just made some nice friendships through sports.  

PL: [00:56:46] So, what is it about sports that causes that to happen?

GG: [00:56:50] Dignity and respect for each other, I think is the main thing.  You see guys do all that stuff with their pictures, or players or whatever.  [00:57:00] You got to respect them because somewhere along the line, they put in the time and effort to develop their skills, on that part of it.  

PL: [00:57:14] Thank you, thank you.

GG: [00:57:17] Yes, ma’am.

GILLIAM: [00:57:22] Thank you.

GG: [00:57:24] You’re welcome.  

GILLIAM: [00:57:25] Can’t wait to see the programs, and things.

GG: [00:57:27] Okay, I’ll dig those out for you.  

[Extraneous material redacted.]