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Peyton Humphrey

Venable Elementary School, Johnson Elementary School, Lane High School
Interviewed on May 10, 2022, at the office of Hantzmon, Wiebel, and Company, by George Gilliam.

Full Transcript

GEORGE GILLIAM: [00:00:00] Okay this is the interview of Peyton Humphrey.  Present are Peyton Humphrey and George Gilliam, Phyllis Leffler, Annie Valentine, and Lorenzo Dickerson.  It is Tuesday May 10, 2022 in a conference room at the office of Hantzmon, Wiebel, and Company.  And Peyton you have signed your consent form?

PEYTON HUMPHREY: [00:00:26] Yes I have.

GG: [00:00:27] And delivered it to me?

PH: [00:00:28] I have delivered it to you.

GG: [00:00:29] Great.  What is your date of birth?

PH: [00:00:34] November 1, 1942.

GG: [00:00:38] A youngster.  Place of birth?

PH: [00:00:41] What’s that?

GG: [00:00:42] Youngster.

PH: [00:00:43] Youngster.  (laughs) I -- Charlottesville -- Martha Jefferson Hospital.

GG: [00:00:52] And where was your family living in Charlottesville at that time?  [00:01:00]

PH: [00:01:02] I think Robertson Avenue, over in front of Fry’s Spring.  They were renting an apartment over there.

GG: [00:01:20] And did they live in that same location during your growing up years?

PH: [00:01:28] Same Fry’s Spring area, yes, but my dad worked for Southern Welding, a machine company which was a huge employer here.  There was two guys named [Travis Mickie?] and Bob Harmon who owned that and they were doing a lot of defense work during World War II.  They were up on Eleventh Street where [00:02:00] the University Hospital parking garage is now -- right across the railroad tracks from Trax, where they had all the -- where some of the big entertainers started back then.  But anyway, yeah, dad was doing defense work and he never served on active duty in the military because of that.  And he tells a story -- about every six months, you know, somebody from the Department of Defense would come by to make sure that you were -- whatever standards they had for doing work.  I think a lot of the work they did was for the Navy.

GG: [00:02:58] And where was [00:03:00] the Southern Welding facilities?

PH: [00:03:02] Eleventh Street.

GG: [00:03:03] Eleventh Street?

PH: [00:03:04] Where the University Hospital parking garage is now.

GG: [00:03:08] Oh, okay.

PH: [00:03:09] Railroad tracks that -- the railroad tracks I think are still there.  It was a huge facility.  It had the railroad tracks -- actually ran through the building because they had -- I mean, it was, I don’t know how tall the ceiling was but they had cranes and everything because they -- the cars would come through and whatever they were working on was pretty big stuff for the Navy.  So they could load it on to the trains inside the building.

GG: [00:03:49] When you were growing up, was Fry’s Springs primarily white residence?

PH: [00:03:57] Yes, I’d say so, yeah.

GG: [00:04:00] It still maintains that, pretty much.

PH: [00:04:05] Yeah, mostly residential, not a lot of rental, you know?  A lot of the residences have now been converted into student housing.  That was not so much so, as I remember, then.  But the Fry’s Springs Beach Club was there.  I spent a few hours there growing up.  (laughs)

GG: [00:04:35] Were there any Black members of the Beach Club?

PH: [00:04:39] What’s that?

GG: [00:04:40] Were there any Black members of the Beach Club?

PH: [00:04:42] Not that I’m aware of, no.

GG: [00:04:44] Was that ever an issue that people worried about?

PH: [00:04:51] Well, I mean you’re -- at my age -- at that age -- I didn’t, you know [00:05:00] -- I mean, I’m, you know, eight years old.  (laughs) So, I certainly didn’t think twice about it at that age.

GG: [00:05:18] Well, that’s certainly the way that much of the South was organized.

PH: [00:05:28] Yeah.

GG: [00:05:30] So, tell me if you would what schools you attended and what years as best you can remember.

PH: [00:05:38] Okay, I was born in November, that means that I was too young to start public school that September.  So I would have had to wait until the following September to go to public school.  [00:06:00] My parents -- I must have been a terrible child because they said, “Well, we’re not waiting until next September, let’s see if we can put this young man in (laughs) private school.”  It was called Ridgelawn School and it was on Ridge Street and the building is still there.  I’m trying to remember the -- I want to say it was a Ms. Alderman that ran that school.  So I went there for the first grade and then even though I was substantially younger than other kids I went -- second grade, then you were okay, go to Venable School.

GG: [00:06:56] So, for second grade you started at Venable?

PH: [00:07:00] Uh-huh, yep.

GG: [00:07:02] And did you go there all the way through?

PH: [00:07:05] Well, no.  I haven’t gone back and read the newspapers but for some reason that even made no sense to me at that age, in the seventh grade -- which would have been my last year at Venable -- they opened Johnson School, which was, you know -- I could ride my bike to Johnson School, it was close to the Fry’s Springs area.  But they didn’t open, as I remember, Johnson School until the second semester.  So I’m in the first graduating class of Johnson Elementary School but I was only there for like five months.  And my guess is somehow the construction [00:08:00] got delayed -- there had to be something that didn’t go right timing-wise.  Why would you move kids in the middle of the school year?  So I graduated Johnson School -- 1955, I guess it was, yeah.

GG: [00:08:25] And then went directly to Lane?

PH: [00:08:27] Yeah, because Lane was eight to twelve.  And that was a shocker, you know.  Kids nowadays -- you got middle school or you got something in-between.  But because, again, I was born in November so I’m entering Lane High School and didn’t turn 13 until November [00:09:00] of my eighth grade year there.  And that was like culture shock, you know?  Suddenly you’re not quite 13 and you perhaps are thrown in with some 19 year olds who didn’t want to be there.

GG: [00:09:22] Some of them even had bad habits.

PH: [00:09:23] They did and, you know, to some extent you sort of were very cautious and ran for your life.  (laughs) It was a, you know -- kind of an intimidating atmosphere when you’ve come out of elementary school and all of a sudden you have this wide range of ages.  But I survived and I knew a couple of the older guys who kind of protected me a little bit.  (laughs)

GG: [00:09:51] Well now, tell me the truth, were you a nerd then?

PH: [00:09:55] Probably still am.  (laughs) I don’t know, George.

Phyllis Leffler: [00:10:00] Can I interrupt here for a second?  You know, that’s an interesting time, when you said it was culture shock, you were with all these other kids.  You wouldn’t have interacted with them very much, would you?

PH: [00:10:11] Except sometimes running for your life because they were picking on you.

PL: [00:10:16] Oh, they were picking on you?

PH: [00:10:18] Oh, yeah --

PL: [00:10:19] -- picked on the younger kids.

PH: [00:10:20] -- it was -- of course, yeah.

PL: [00:10:23] But in your classes you would have been with 13 year olds, right?

PH: [00:10:26] Yeah, exactly, right.

GG: [00:10:28] When you say picking on you, was this knocking your school books onto the floor, or jostling you at your locker, or was it something more than that?

PH: [00:10:38] Yeah, you know, stealing your books.  Probably the worst thing they did was flushing your head in the commode.

GG: [00:10:50] How old were you at that time?

PH: [00:10:52] Twelve, thirteen.

GG: [00:10:55] Welcome to upper school.

PH: [00:10:58] Well, you know, but like I say, I was able to avoid that [00:11:00] because I -- there was a couple guys that were older than me, they were juniors and seniors -- that their parents and my parents knew each other.  And they did a good job of saving me from that, but --

GG: [00:11:26] Now, at this time, everybody at Lane was white.

PH: [00:11:31] Correct.

PL: [00:11:33] Was it a group of older students, like a select group that (inaudible) --

PH: [00:11:37] No.  It was just hit and miss, it was, you know, just bullies.

GG: [00:11:46] But no racial component to that.

PH: [00:11:49] No, no, nope.

GG: [00:11:54] Now, in the fall semester of your junior year, [00:12:00] if my calculation is correct, Lane was unable to open for the fall semester --

PH: [00:12:09] Right.

GG: [00:12:10] -- and stayed closed until the spring.

PH: [00:12:17] Yeah.

GG: [00:12:18] February --

PH: [00:12:19] First of February was how I would --

GG: [00:12:23] Yeah.  Tell me how that was.

PH: [00:12:26] Well, certainly it was different.  Having five hours of physics on Monday morning was not my favorite thing to do.

GG: [00:12:46] Describe that -- what you’re talking about there.

PH: [00:12:50] So, you did six period classes and if your first period class -- in my case it was physics [00:13:00] -- you had all five hours for the week in one day.  And we met -- our physics was at the Greek Orthodox Church which was on Perry Drive -- still there.  And then I think I had a history class and that was at the Elks’ Lodge up on High Street -- which is now the J.D. Corp, I think it is.  But that was the Elk’s Lodge.  So I had history there.  Other classes in different buildings, but you had five hours of class.  Now, if you had the study hall, which are the one class you were supposed to be studying -- as I remember you didn’t show up anywhere that day.  You didn’t have to go anywhere and be [00:14:00] accounted for that day, which was not a good idea for 16 year olds.  (laughs) So, (inaudible) --

GG: [00:14:14] And why was this school closed?  What’s going on there?

PH: [00:14:21] Well, with integration, and Black students wanting to come to school, and the Virginia law against that.  And I think that’s -- again, you got to remember -- even then I was 15 but it seemed to me to be no big deal about going to school with Black students.  Obviously [00:15:00] somebody else thought it was a big deal.

GG: [00:15:04] Did you have any Black friends?

PH: [00:15:07] Not really, you know, I mean you just didn’t associate with them -- with Blacks.  I did have a -- going from memory here -- I did have a paper boy who was Black and his last name was Shackleford -- I think his name was Willie Shackleford and he was -- he had an older brother who played on the football team in Burley.  And Willie would bring us tickets because we would -- my dad and I would go over to the [00:16:00] Burley football games because Burley was 8 and O and Lane High School was perhaps O and 8 at that point in time.  So, I can remember -- sometimes Willie would, when he’d finish his paper route, we’d have football games in the backyard so that was really my total association with Blacks growing up.

GG: [00:16:36] So, had you been bitten the baseball bug by this time?

PH: [00:16:42] Oh, certainly.

GG: [00:16:43] When did you start playing organized baseball?

PH: [00:16:47] I started in 1951.  I’ve got the opening day -- copy of the opening day program for the 1951 season [00:17:00] where they had a little parade, and the mayor spoke, and I would have been Little League age, eight, then.  I didn’t turn nine until November of that year.  But I played for the Optimist.

GG: [00:17:24] That was the sponsor?

PH: [00:17:26] That was the sponsor.  Exchange Club sponsored, American Legion sponsored -- I’ve got that program back in my office somewhere if you want to look at it before we leave today, but it’s got the complete rosters of the kids that I played with, and rosters, and who the managers were, and who the league officials were.

GG: [00:17:48] Now that’s like striking gold for us.  We would love to get that in a -- maybe a Xerox copy.

PH: [00:17:56] Well, you know, the more complete story [00:18:00] of 1951 is the All-Star saga -- Little League All-Star saga with Norton, Virginia.  One of the leagues in Charlottesville won what was then the eastern regional -- they broke the state up into regions.  They were going to play for the western regional champion -- was from Norton.  Now, how you could get that far apart and be in the same state?  I mean, you know, where Norton -- southwest Virginia, I mean, okay.  Norton [00:19:00] had two Black players on their team.  Charlottesville -- Little Leagues were segregated -- there was a Jackie Robinson league in town but it was not part of Little League.  So what happened was Charlottesville found out that there were two Black players on the Norton team and said, “They can’t come to Charlottesville to play because it’s against the law.”  And they checked -- according to articles that I’ve got -- they checked with Little League -- the headquarters -- they said no, [00:20:00] we can’t do that in Charlottesville.

GG: [00:20:06] Can’t play in --

PH: [00:20:07] Can’t play in Charlottesville.  Charlottesville packed up and went to Norton and played and got dusted 12 to 3.

GG: [00:20:29] That’s a bad loss.

PH: [00:20:30] Yeah, that’s really -- yeah, pretty bad loss.

PL: [00:20:37] Do you know what that law (coughs) excuse me -- what that law would have been --

PH: [00:20:41] I have no idea -- I can --

PL: (inaudible)

PH: [00:20:42] -- I can -- I’ve got articles from -- there was a magazine called Virginia Cavalcade --

GG: [00:20:49] Sure, I remember that.

PH: [00:20:51] Remember that?  And there was an article in there, probably 20 years ago -- 18 years ago -- I’ve got a copy of that [00:21:00] -- that just covers this and it covers the players on the team in Norton more so than covering Charlottesville players.  Got pictures of the team -- of the Norton team.  And then, of course, the Norton team won and they went on to play further along in the -- I guess -- I’d have to read that article again -- maybe it qualified them to go to the Little League World Series.  Little League was structured a lot differently then -- there wasn’t as much Little League because Little League had only, I think, started in 1949.  So lots of places were adopting Little League and you had more and more teams but Charlottesville did have, you know, Little League -- played (inaudible) [00:22:00]in high school and that’s where I started playing when I was eight years old.

GG: [00:22:05] So did -- sort of the popular opinion was that two Black guys at Norton beat Charlottesville 12 to 3?

PH: [00:22:20] Well, I don’t know whether anybody’s got a score book to see who got all the hits and scored all the runs for Norton but (laughs) yeah, 12 to 3 is a --

PL: [00:22:35] And you were on the team at that time I’m assuming?

PH: [00:22:38] No, I was not --

PL: [00:22:39] (inaudible).

PH: [00:22:40] -- I was not on the team at that time.  I was eight years old and the fellows who would have been on the team would have been mostly 11 and 12 year olds, probably at that time.  Now, again, I ended up going to high school with them and some of them I know.  [00:23:00] Some of them I still know -- they’re still alive.

GG: [00:23:05] Guys like Runkle and --

PH: [00:23:06] No, Steve wasn’t -- Steve didn’t move here until I think it was the summer before our sophomore year in high school.  He      moved here from Appomattox, I think it was.

GG: [00:23:23] That’s another thing we’d love to get copies of is your file on that --

PH: [00:23:29] Okay, alright.

GG: [00:23:31] -- we will set up a reimburse Hantzmon Wiebel trust fund.  (laughs)

PH: [00:23:37] Okay, well the copying costs are going to be high, though.  (laughs)

GG: [00:23:40] Right.  (laughs) So what did you do during those closed months.  You had to endure the incredibly boring, long days of classes.  What else did you do?  What was your social life?

PH: [00:24:00] Not much of anything.  I don’t think -- I think at that point in time -- not that I was a social butterfly anyway but I don’t think -- you couldn’t use the facilities.  I don’t think, for instance, you always had a homecoming dance, you know, football season and all.  But all of the football games were on the road.  We were in the central district at that point in time and so the football team was traveling to -- we played Thomas Jefferson, Hermitage -- all the schools in the -- mostly in the Richmond or Hopewell -- Highland Springs.  Schools that were, for the most part, bigger than Lane High School.  But there wasn’t much in the way of extracurricular [00:25:00] activities.

GG: [00:25:03] Do you have a --

PL: [00:25:04] Yeah -- you’re really right in the midst of these issues that arose relating to the desegregation of schools.  Do you remember people talking about it at all or your family talking about it?

PH: [00:25:21] You know, I don’t have a lot of recollection of that.  Both of my parents -- I don’t ever remember them talking to me much about it.  They opened Rock Hill as an alternative.  And I do remember -- I played baseball -- and the -- I think the coach at [00:26:00] Rock Hill was, I believe, a fellow named Bob [Thrayes?]  He had played football at the university but he was teaching and coaching then.  And he called me about coming to Rock Hill to play -- to see if I wanted to, you know, play baseball there.  I was never big enough to play football, I mean, my goodness I’d have got killed.


PH: [00:26:25] And I told him no and, you know, both of my parents said, “It’s up to you.”  I mean, I always felt like if I can’t get along with some Black kids going to high school what in the world -- and my parents never really, as I remember, ever strongly urged me to do one thing or another -- it’s up to you.  I think that was a bit unlike some other parents because obviously I had a number of friends who did go [00:27:00] to Rock Hill and I can’t speak to whether them going to Rock Hill was under their own volition or strong urging from parents.  But my parents never -- said you’re going to make your own choices.  And, again, if I can’t get along with a couple Black kids going to school -- at that age it was -- what’s this all about, you know?

PL: [00:27:32] Well exactly -- and it says to me that when schools closed for six months and all of that disarray -- it just seems curious to me that there wasn’t more discussion of why, you know -- what’s happening, why -- how do your classmates feel about that.  I mean, I can understand that kids could just be kids and they’re just doing what they have to do at any given time.  But I’m [00:28:00] just a little surprised and we’ve heard this from others so I’m not challenging you, but there wasn’t more -- I don’t know, more talk about it and figuring out what the city was going to do, and where you fit into that, and what the disruptions were going to be.

PH: [00:28:21] I think really on the school scene you have to -- it really disrupted and destroyed school life for a semester.  So you would go to class and go home.  There were no -- ordinarily you would have school, and everybody’s there together, and they’re going to lockers, and going from classroom to classroom, and then having lunch, and doing the things that you did in high school.  And suddenly all that’s going so you were sort of isolated [00:29:00] as a student.  You went home -- I mean, you didn’t hang out anywhere.  There was a restaurant across from the school called the Black Knight and I can’t remember when that opened -- I think that was opened during my junior year.  It was located right where the Citizen’s Commonwealth building is now.  But again, you just -- there was no way to sort of stay together and get together as a junior class or whatever.  And maybe that -- you were so isolated.

PL: [00:29:50] So you went to class for five hours and so you did not have lunch until you went home?  That’s --

PH: [00:29:56] I think that was it.

PL: [00:29:57] Uh-huh.

PH: [00:29:58] I can’t remember.  [00:30:00] Maybe -- I don’t know -- whether I packed a lunch and -- 

PL: [00:30:05] Sure.

PH: [00:30:06] -- I don’t know.

PL: [00:30:07] And how did you get to all these different places -- to the church and --

PH: [00:30:11] I caught the bus.

PL: [00:30:12] -- oh, there was a bus.

PH: [00:30:14] Well, there were no school busses back then.  It was city bus transportation.

GG: [00:30:20] I was one of the change architects for that.  So there was no school bus when I went on the city council in 1972.  Kids had to pay 25 cents per bus ride.

PH: [00:30:35] I’d go to Timberlake’s and get my bus tickets, you know, enough for a couple weeks, or a month, or whatever.  And, yeah, I’d catch a bus at Fry’s Springs and we’d get the -- down on main street before the mall and --

PL: [00:30:53] So did the busses operate more frequently in those days than they do now?

PH: [00:30:58] I can’t --

GG: [00:31:00] They were probably owned -- they weren’t publicly owned.

PH: [00:31:02] Sometimes you could catch a ride with somebody -- with older -- again, because of my birth date, I was a junior in high school but I wasn’t old enough to have a driver’s license because I didn’t turn 16 until November of my junior year in high school.  But I think Steve Runkle was driving, so (laughs) we --

GG: [00:31:31] He was the wheel man.

PH: [00:31:33] He was the wheel man.  (laughs)

GG: [00:31:36] When school reopened in February, that was because the judge ordered it to open.

PH: [00:31:44] Right.

GG: [00:31:45] Was that generally known?  Did people -- were they following sort of a legal -- gyrations?

PH: [00:31:56] I just don’t have any recollection of that [00:32:00] George.

GG: [00:32:03] So the conditions -- what were the conditions like when you came back?  Had the school been overrun by Black people?

PH: [00:32:11] No.  (laughs) There were a couple there.  You know, I -- after this many years it kind of -- everybody was certainly happy to get back to school.  I can’t remember particularly paying attention to whether there were Black students there or not, George, it didn’t --

GG: [00:32:38] Do you have any -- well -- do you have any idea of sort of how many were in that --

PH: [00:32:43] I don’t even remember.

GG: [00:32:44] -- first cohort?

PH: [00:32:45] I’d have to go back and read the newspaper.


GG: [00:32:57] When did you start playing on the varsity [00:33:00] baseball team?

PH: [00:33:07] May have been my sophomore year -- or maybe my junior year -- I don’t -- maybe just junior and senior.  I can’t remember, it’s (inaudible).

GG: [00:33:17] At what position?  Were you a catcher?

PH: [00:33:19] Hm?

GG: [00:33:20] Were you a catcher?

PH: [00:33:21] Oh, heavens, no.


PH: [00:33:24] The tools of ignorance, George.  (laughs) No, I didn’t have a great arm -- mostly second base.  I tried playing some at third but I didn’t have a good enough arm to play third.

GG: [00:33:39] You just couldn’t get the ball over to first?

PH: Yeah, I needed a cutoff man to get it to first.


GG: [00:33:48] So, did you play first --

PH: [00:33:49] Huh?

GG: [00:33:51] -- did you play first base, or --

PH: [00:33:52] No, second.

GG: [00:33:53] Second.

PH: [00:33:54] Mm-hmm.

GG: [00:33:55] Well, that gave you a little breathing room there.

PH: [00:33:57] Yeah, exactly, yeah.  [00:34:00]

GG: [00:34:05] Did your personal views on issues of race -- is that something you ever thought about as a youngster?

PH: [00:34:23] No, I mean, of course -- you know, I was in town growing up in Charlottesville -- back of the bus was there.  Separate entrance to the movie theater.  Black and White water fountains in some of the stores.  That was -- I don’t know at that age that I really ever thought about it, you know?  It was the way it is -- the way it was, and -- [00:35:00] 

GG: [00:35:03] Did any of the baseball teams that you played on have any Blacks?  This would be, of course, starting later, but --

PH: [00:35:15] No.

GG: [00:35:16] How about teams that you coached?

PH: [00:35:20] Hm?

GG: [00:35:21] How about teams that you coached?  Did any of the teams that you coached have Black players?

PH: [00:35:26] Well, I was president of the league -- you couldn’t coach and be president of the league.  So I didn’t coach in Little League.  My son came through because you couldn’t coach and be president, and even if I could I wouldn’t have coached him.  I did some coaching at Junior League and Senior League after he moved on and, you know, by that time of course -- but we had some Black players and we had Black players in Little League.  [00:36:00]

GG: [00:36:02] And how did that go? Were --

PH: [00:36:06] It went fine.  You know, and I played -- of course I played fast pitch softball for years and years and we had a couple of Black players on our team in fast pitch.

GG: [00:36:26] Where did you watch high school football?  Did Lane ever come back in your favor as a football power?

PH: [00:36:35] When Tommy Theodose showed up they did.  Theodose became the football coach our senior year -- ‘59 season.

GG: [00:36:48] We have of course heard a lot of stories and had two interviews with him and I can believe every one of the stories I heard -- he was [00:37:00] quite a guy.

PH: [00:37:05] He, well, he and Joe Bingler -- together -- before he took over (coughs) excuse me -- Paul Phipps was the assistant football coach.  Ralph Main was the head coach.  And Paul Phipps was also the baseball coach.  And the teams were not -- just were not very good.  Then Tommy came along and obviously things changed.

GG: [00:37:45] Why did they change?

PH: [00:37:47] Well, largely because of him and Joe Bingler.  And it was like boot camp.  [00:38:00] You were going to be in shape -- now, I wasn’t a football player, so -- but a lot of my close friends were.  And Tommy Theodose was a tough taskmaster, a disciplinarian, and I think it probably was hard for some of the ones who had come along who -- to buy into that all of a sudden.  It was, I think, a complete change.  But obviously he had quite a bit of success.

GG: [00:38:51] When you were president of the Little League for 18 years --

PH: [00:39:00] Nineteen.

GG: [00:39:01] -- 19 years, were there any racial issues during that time that you had to mediate or help people, or were people pretty well accepting this is the way -- if you want to win you’ve got to get the best players?

PH: [00:39:19] Yeah, I don’t -- I mean, I certainly did not ever have any sense in our League -- Monticello Little League -- that, you know, if you had tryouts, if a kid could play, I don’t care what color he is.

GG: [00:39:43] Did the Lane administration in 1958 and ‘59 when that was sort of the center of the racial tensions -- did the Lane administration [00:40:00] have any sort of educational, you know -- things are changing -- did they have any of those kinds of meetings?  Did they do anything that you viewed, or would view, as helping integration take place?

PH: [00:40:23] Not that I’m aware of.  No, I mean, I’m not aware of anything.  You know, whether there were any meetings with some of -- with class officers or something like that -- I was not a class officer.  Maybe there were, but just general, overall meetings with a large part of the student body -- I don’t remember anything like that.

GG: [00:40:57] So did you have any understanding why the Black [00:41:00] kids would not be allowed to play in ‘59?  Was the excuse that was given that it’s against state law?

PH: [00:41:15] That’s what I always heard.

PL: [00:41:18] But you did hear that?  You were aware of that?

PH: [00:41:21] Well, I read about it, you know?  Sometimes this far back -- did you hear it or did you read about it?

GG: [00:41:29] But that’s what you’ve got lodged in your head?

PH: [00:41:32] Mm-hmm.

GG: Okay.  (laughs) For better or worse.

PH: [00:41:35] Yeah, exactly.  (laughs)

GG: [00:41:38] How did you stay abreast of the news?  Did you read the Daily Progress?  Did you watch TV news?  Where did you get your information on what was going on in the larger world?

PH: [00:41:56] Well, boy I’m thinking back [00:42:00] -- let’s see.  (laughs) We had the Daily Progress.  You know, we didn’t have a local TV station so the TV stations that you could get -- the main one was WTVR --

GG: [00:42:28] Richmond.

PH: [00:42:29] -- out of Richmond.  You could also get one out of Petersburg.  There was a TV station I think in Lynchburg at that point in time.

GG: [00:42:44] There was but I think what Charlottesville got was one in Harrisonburg -- 

PH: [00:42:49] Harrisonburg.

GG: [00:42:50] -- I think channel three in Harrisonburg was --

PH: [00:42:53] And depending on the weather you could every now and then pick up [00:43:00] -- I think it was channel five out of D.C.  Now, you’ve got to remember in those days you had a rotating aerial, okay.  And then if an airplane went over all of a sudden you couldn’t see the TV -- with these lines that would go across the TV.  And you had to rotate and see what you get -- a lot depended on the weather.

GG: [00:43:34] So were you interested in public affairs?  Apart from changes in the tax code?

PH: [00:43:42] (laughs) I don’t remember having a whole lot of interest in public affairs.

PL: [00:43:55] Can I just ask a question here?  I’m sort of thinking that these years [00:44:00] are -- I believe, I’ve got to get my history straight -- the same years that there were some pretty violent and ugly things going on in other cities, you know, in terms of desegregating schools and things like that.  Did that sort of come into your consciousness at all about what was going on in Little Rock or other places?  I may have my -- do you remember, George, exactly the years --

PH: [00:44:29] Little Rock a little later?

PL: [00:44:30] (inaudible) a little later.

GG: [00:44:31] I think it was a little later.

PH: [00:44:32] Yeah.

ANNIE VALENTINE: [00:44:35] And there were some crosses being burned on lawns in Charlottesville in the mid-fifties.  Summers of ‘54, ‘55, ‘56 there was a lot going on apparently -- people were traveling in from out of town and possibly getting crowds of people.

PH: [00:44:51] Huh.

AV: [00:44:53] Do you remember anything like that?

PL: [00:44:55] This is in support of -- massive resistance in support of (inaudible).

PH: [00:44:58] I don’t remember that.  Of course, [00:45:00] if it was in ‘54, you know, I’m 11 years old -- again, and you got newspapers and some kind of news on TV -- that was about it, I mean, you know, don’t have all the stuff you got today.

PL: [00:45:20] Sure.

PH: [00:45:21] Maybe it was better off back then (laughs), I don’t know.

AV: [00:45:26] Do you remember hearing about a Human Relations Council or the NAACP or anything that, you know, those groups was doing?

PH: [00:45:36] No.

GG: [00:45:43] Alright so Lorenzo…

LORENZO DICKERSON: [00:45:48] I have a couple questions.  I was just curious, you said that you went to the Ridgland School?

PH: [00:45:53] Ridgelawn.

LD: [00:45:54] Ridgelawn -- I was curious, where was that or where -- you said that the building is still there?  Is it a house now?

PH: [00:46:00] Yeah, it was basically a house then.  I think maybe the school was in part of the house and the lady that ran it lived in the other part of the house.  It’s basically almost not directly across from where the fire station is on Ridge Street --

GG: [00:46:22] On Ridge Street.

PH: [00:46:23] -- now.  It’s a three our four -- really nice brick houses along there -- as you’re heading out towards Fifth Street, you know, on the left-hand side, yeah.

LD: [00:46:40] And when schools were closed, how did your parents feel about that having to, you know, disrupt your education, send you to somewhere else?  Like, what was that like?

PH: [00:46:51] Again, my parents -- I don’t remember them [00:47:00] -- it was what it was, you know?  The schools are closed, we’ve got people offering to have classes in different buildings, and you did what you had to do.  You know, junior year in high school if you’re heading to college is not a very good time to have something like that happen.

GG: [00:47:32] That’s the year that they -- you have to send your grades to all these places.


PH: [00:47:37] Right, exactly.

AV: [00:47:44] Do you remember, like, those football games you had in your backyard where you said sometimes Willie Shackleford would join you --

PH: [00:47:50] Uh-huh.

AV: [00:47:51] -- do you remember playing with any other Black kids?

PH: [00:47:52] No.

AV: [00:47:54] Do you remember feeling like that was significant in any way?

PH: [00:47:58] No, I mean, Willie just -- he finished the paper route [00:48:00] -- or maybe he wouldn’t finish his paper route, I don’t know, he just needed a break.


PH: [00:48:09] But I mean, it didn’t cross my mind whether he was white, Black, or green -- he wanted to play football.  (laughs)

GG: [00:48:17] Do you think there’s any legacy of this chapter in American life?  Was there any good to come of it?

PH: [00:48:35] Well, I mean, I hope we’re in a better position now than (laughs) we were then.  It’s been a long --

GG: [00:48:45] A long haul.

PH: [00:48:46]-- struggle -- a long haul, and obviously there’s still a long haul in front of us.

GG: [00:48:56] I guess it’s one of those questions that it’s impossible to know the answer to, [00:49:00] but do you believe that the process would have moved along more smoothly and more quickly had people like the school administrators prepared families and kids for what was going on?

PH: [00:49:22] I do think that could have been more done, you know, rather than just -- boom, here it is, this is what we’re doing.  How long would that have taken?

GG: [00:49:41] We’ll never know.

PH: [00:49:42] We’ll never know, I mean, certainly a gradual proposition, moving along, and -- my feeling is that it probably would have made it a bit easier and perhaps more acceptable but we’ll never know.

PL: [00:50:00] My understanding is that when the schools integrated -- until Burley closed -- that when the schools integrated, very few Black students actually entered the schools -- that there was, you know -- that they were kind of -- sort of hand-picked and sort of, initially, came into the schools by twos and threes, basically, you know, and in different grades.  So (inaudible) --

PH: [00:50:31] And I think that’s true, yeah.

PL: [00:50:32] -- so it was a very, very gradual process.  And, of course, those first Black students who came in felt pretty isolated.  But I think for the white kids that it wasn’t terribly noticeable that there had been a big racial change.

PH: [00:50:48] Right, right.

PL: [00:50:49] And so the big change I think comes at the high school level when Grove closes, right?  And also I guess at other levels when [00:51:00] suddenly you can visually see (laughs) that there are many more students of color in schools, so --

PH: [00:51:06] Right, right.

GG: [00:51:12] Anything else?

PL: [00:51:14] Yeah I -- where did you go to college after --

PH: [00:51:16] I went to UVA.  I went there undergrad and then T.C. Williams University of Richmond for law school, yeah.

PL: [00:51:27] Uh-huh.  So what years were you in UVA as an undergrad?

PH: [00:51:31] I was class of ‘64, yep.

PL: [00:51:35] Uh-huh, right.

PH: [00:51:38] Yep.

GG: [00:51:39] Do you have anything you’d like to add?

PH: [00:51:47] No, I can’t think of anything George.

[Extraneous material redacted.]