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Roland and Ronald Woodfolk

Jefferson Elementary, Venable Elementary, Burley High School, Lane High School
Interviewed on May 4, 2022, in Ronald's home, by Phyllis Leffler.

Full Transcript

PHYLLIS LEFFLER: [00:00:00] Okay, so I’m just going to say a couple of introductory things, and then we’ll get into this.  So I’m Phyllis Leffler.  I’m here today with Lorenzo Dickerson for an interview with Roland and Ronald Woodfolk.  [Extraneous material redacted.] Thank you for letting us use your home.

RONALD WOODFOLK: [00:00:26] No problem, my pleasure.

PL: [00:00:29] So, today, we’re going to just try to have a bit of a conversation about your growing up years and your experiences in Charlottesville, in sports, and specifically as it related to larger issues of race and racial desegregation.  I know you both were sort of frontrunners in this desegregation struggle that we went through, and we’re really wanting to document [00:01:00] this for future generations to learn from your experiences in Charlottesville.  So let me just start, I know, I have this on my paper that you were both -- both, because you’re twins, born on July 21st, 1947, I have that right?

RONALD W: [00:01:16] Correct, yes.

PL: [00:01:17] I have that right, yes.  And can you tell me your specific address when you were growing up in Charlottesville?

RONALD W: [00:01:24] 1709 Cabell, C-A-B-E-L-L Avenue, Charlottesville, Virginia.

PL: [00:01:33] Great, thanks.  And, if you could both just maybe, maybe just separately so we’ll be able to transcribe this, if you could just describe your neighborhood for us, you know, who were the important people that you remember in your neighborhood, was your family a member of some church that was important in your life, what did you do for fun, [00:02:00] just whatever comes to mind.  So maybe we’ll start with you, Roland.

ROLAND WOODFOLK: [00:02:03] Okay.  People that was influencing my life, was the neighbors, was the Robinsons, the Kellys, the Smiths, and actually it was two sets of Robinsons.  Miss Laura Robinson, which was the schoolteacher, and the Robinsons, and her son and we are like, we’re brothers.  We just have different mothers, but I spent more time up at his house than my own house, and --

PL: [00:02:33] During those years, or still today?  Are you involved?

RONALD W: [00:02:37] We’re still friends today.

ROLAND W: [00:02:38] We’re still friends today, okay?

PL: [00:02:41] And was his name?

ROLAND W: [00:02:42] Rodney Robinson.

PL: [00:02:43] Rodney Robinson, okay, uh-huh.

ROLAND W: [00:02:46] And I’m still in contact with the Smith’s daughter, Caroline, she’s down in Florida now, but I still talk to her occasionally.  And it was --

PL: [00:02:58] Why were they important to you? [00:03:00] You said the most influential --

ROLAND W: [00:03:01] Cause we lived together, we kind of played together, and it was almost like a family atmosphere, you know.  Where you can go -- it was just like family, I go over to their house, they come to, you know, our house, and it was just --

RONALD W: [00:03:17] Basically, it was nurturing in the neighborhood.  Mrs. Robinson was my third-grade teacher, okay?

PL: [00:03:30] And they were family friends at the same time, is that what you’re saying?

RONALD W: [00:03:33] Yeah, everybody knew -- we lived in a section of Charlottesville that they refer to as “Kelleytown” back in the day, which was right down from Washington Park.  So, as far as spending that time, we spent most of our time at the park, you know, that’s when --

ROLAND W: [00:03:50] We didn’t have -- the park was our babysitter, you know.  We go home for lunch, come back at one or two o’clock, and we stayed there ‘til about five, and then [00:04:00] go home, by that time, parents were home.

PL: [00:04:02] That’s exactly what Frankie Allen and Kent Merritt told me.

ROLAND W: [00:04:05] Frankie, now he spent a lot of time up there too.  We all grew up there, basketball, yeah.

RONALD W: [00:04:08] I played many basketball games with him.  That’s when I saw him grow about a foot, over, in one year.  (laughs)

ROLAND W: [00:04:16] So, but yeah, that was the place that everybody went, everybody, and all the supervisors and managers, everybody knew your parents, they knew the kids, which I don’t think you have that today.

PL: [00:04:30] Yeah, when you say “supervisors,” who are you talking about?

RONALD W: [00:04:33] The department of recreation supervisors, that’s the facility.

ROLAND W: [00:04:36] Miss Stroud, Flint Murray, his brother, [Red?].

RONALD W: [00:04:42] Miss Stroud, there was another.

ROLAND W: [00:04:45] Mrs. Johnson.

RONALD W: [00:04:47] Yeah, Mrs. Johnson.

ROLAND W: [00:04:48] And what was, Snookie Harris?

RONALD W: [00:04:52] I don’t know her real name, but --

ROLAND W: [00:04:53] Yeah, everybody called Ms. Snookie, so that’s what we --

PL: [00:04:56] Do you think these people were paid by Parks and Recs to be [00:05:00] down there?

RONALD W: [00:05:01] Yes.

ROLAND W: [00:05:01] Yes.

RONALD W: [00:05:02] They worked for Parks Service.

PL: [00:05:02] Okay, so this would have been during the summer, or on weekend?

RONALD W: [00:05:04] Yeah, during the summer, yes.

PL: [00:05:06] During the summer, right.  And during the week, were you mostly studying, or?

RONALD W: [00:05:12] Not during the summer.  I mean --

PL: [00:05:13] No, no, I know, not during the summer.

RONALD W: [00:05:14] During the week, I don’t know that we spent much time at the park during the -- when school was in session, we did studying then.

PL: [00:05:26] So, when you say the people who were most influential, it’s really because they were a group of family friends mostly, right?

RONALD W: [00:05:35] Yes, yes.

ROLAND W: [00:05:35] Yes.

PL: [00:05:36] Was there a minister or a preacher that your family was, or a church that you were involved in?

ROLAND W: [00:05:43] Well my mother was a member of Zion Union.  My dad was a member of Mount Zion.  So, they left it up to us to choose which church we wanted to go to.  And so we went to Mount Zion.  [00:06:00] Mainly, basically all of our friends in school were also at Mount Zion, so.

PL: [00:06:09] Do you have any understanding of why they went to different places?

RONALD W: [00:06:14] I guess basically, my grandfather, my mother’s father, was a trustee at Zion Union.  So basically, that was their family’s church.  And my mother’s maiden name was Brooks, so when they had the, it was Zion Union, down on Fourth Street at the edge of Vinegar Hill, that’s where the Brooks’s went to church.  And the Woodfolks went to Mount Zion, and that gave, the superintendent of the church, Mount Zion, JJ Truehart, [00:07:00] is a relative, so.

PL: [00:07:02] Can you say that name again?

RONALD W: [00:07:03] JJ Truehart.

PL: [00:07:05] Truehart, spelt T-R-U-E-H-A-R-T?  Or, yeah.

RONALD W: [00:07:10] I think that might be the spelling, yeah, so.

PL: [00:07:15] So you, I mean your family has multigenerational roots back at Charlottesville.

RONALD W: [00:07:18] Yeah, and you know, we go home a lot.  We used to go home, especially for funerals and so forth, and people would say, you related to someone?  Why are you here?  I said that’s my cousin so forth.  And they would say, well who are you related to?  I said, you better ask us who are we not related to, we could probably tell you better, give you a shorter list, so, cause like, Lorenzo’s side of the family is a whole bunch of cousins that I really don’t know because I didn’t grow up with them.

ROLAND W: [00:07:47] And that’s on our mother’s side.

RONALD W: [00:07:49] That was on our mother’s side.

ROLAND W: [00:07:50] Like I said, his great-grandmother and my grandmother were sisters.

PL: [00:07:55] Right, that’s really neat.  [00:08:00] What kind of work did your parents do?

RONALD W: [00:08:03] My father was a recovery room attendant at the University of Virginia Hospital, and my mother was a domestic.

PL: [00:08:17] And then, when it was time to go to school, where did you start school?

RONALD W: [00:08:26] We started school at Jefferson Elementary School.  We went from grade 1 through 5.  Then I believe in ’58 or ’59, the public schools were shut down, especially the white schools were shut down.  And Mrs. Jamison was the sister of the Bell Brothers here at home.  She told my mother that she would tutor us for free.  But the condition was that we had to do our work.  [00:09:00] But we could only do it, she could only do it at, she taught school at Jefferson.  So she could only do it after she finished her workday at school.  So my grandmother lived like, on Anderson Street.  So that was like in the center from the, where we lived past the park, over to Jefferson.  So as we were walking to school, to go to B2, we saw our friends from Jefferson walking home for the day.  So that was kind of weird.

ROLAND W: [00:09:34] Yeah, and it’s kind of, it’s kind of sad too, because we lost that interaction when we were grades one through five with all our friends, so now we’re like, by ourselves.  So, it made it a little hard, a little difficult.

PL: [00:09:51] I can imagine.

ROLAND W: The only time we got to see our friends at that point was pretty much on the weekends, most of the time it was in church, or Sunday school.

PL: [00:10:00] So this is the ’58-’59 year that you’re talking about?

RONALD W: [00:10:03] Yes, yes.

ROLAND W: [00:10:04] Yes, because we were out of school for a whole year.

PL: [00:10:09] So maybe we should back up a little bit and just ask, why did you leave Jefferson?

ROLAND W: [00:10:14] Well, the segregation suit came out, and our parents had signed us, registered us to go to Venable Elementary School.

PL: [00:10:25] But why?

RONALD W: [00:10:28] I guess it was part of the class action suit for desegregation.  And like I said, we didn’t really have a choice in the matter.

PL: [00:10:36] No, I know you didn’t, but do you remember, I know you would have both been very young, but do you remember discussions in your house?

RONALD W: [00:10:42] When I started Venable, we were 12.

PL: [00:10:45] Yeah, so, and you know, the Brown decision came out in ’54, the “all deliberate speed” part came in ’55, Charlottesville went through years of massive resistance, you know.  [00:11:00] So do you remember conversations in your home about this, cause not all parents sent their kids, I mean you were very of those who went to Venable.

RONALD W: [00:11:09] Yeah, I don’t recall any specific conversations, other than the fact that this is where you’re going, you know.

ROLAND W: [00:11:16] Mama said that’s where you’re going, and back in the day, when your mother said, you do.  We didn’t really question our parents that day.  But I knew my mother apparently wanted us to have a good education, and have the same benefits that every other child had.  So I thank them both for that, because they put forth a great effort and sacrifice there.  I’m just sad that they’re not here to see this now.

PL: [00:11:47] Yeah, right, right.  And, I mean you were among the very, very first children, I mean the very first year that African American kids went to Venable, you were in that group.  [00:12:00] You weren’t to the first grade, you know, but you were among that group, so.

ROLAND W: [00:12:04] We started in the seventh grade.

RONALD W: [00:12:06] In the seventh grade.  After Mrs. Jamison tutored us for, I guess the first half of the school year, the second half of the school year we were all bunched together.

PL: [00:12:21] What do you mean?

RONALD W: [00:12:22] Little building, it was grades one through six, we were in a building, it used to be the superintendent’s building, it’s right on the playground area of Venable Elementary School.  The building is still there.  I forget what they use it for now.  And then I think there was two high school students, Johnny Martin.

ROLAND W: [00:12:45] And Olivia Ferguson.

RONALD W: [00:12:47] Yeah, there was another room off to the side, it was only like two rooms there.

PL: [00:12:55] So, I’m not following this, because I know [00:13:00] that some of the first black kids to go into Venable, that there was some other facility that you went to, is that what you’re talking about?

RONALD W: [00:13:11] Yes.

ROLAND W: [00:13:11] Before we actually got to go to Venable.

PL: [00:13:14] So this would have been at the time when the schools were closed?

RONALD W: [00:13:17] That’s correct.

PL: [00:13:18] I see.  So, okay, so wow, that’s, you know, I’m just trying to imagine what that was like.  You know, schools are closed, Venable is closed, but you go to a small building on the outside because you have, because your schools, schools for black children weren’t closed, right?

RONALD W: [00:13:42] No.

ROLAND W: [00:13:42] No.

PL: [00:13:42] Like Jefferson was still open, so there must have been some decision that people who were part of the class action suit would still have school, even though the white kids didn’t have school, and many of them went to school in people’s basements, you know?

RONALD W: [00:13:57] Right, and churches.

PL: [00:13:58] Right, and so, [00:14:00] how many, was that where the twelve of you went –-

RONALD W: [00:14:04] Yes, yes.

ROLAND W: [00:14:04] Yes.

PL: [00:14:05] -- to this other facility, and there were teachers there to teach you?

RONALD W: [00:14:10] There were two individuals there.

PL: [00:14:16] But all ages?

RONALD W: [00:14:16] Called teachers was stretching it a little bit.

ROLAND W: [00:14:21] I think Johnny, Olivia had to end up teaching themselves because --

PL: [00:14:25] Were they older?

RONALD W: [00:14:26] Yes, they were in high school.

ROLAND W: [00:14:27] High school, so basically, you know, they weren’t learning everything from whoever was there to instruct them, so they basically taught themselves.

PL: [00:14:39] And that was, I was just forgetting what I was going to ask you.  That was the year Miss Jamison tutored you, that same year?

RONALD W: [00:14:49] For half of the school year.

ROLAND W: [00:14:50] Half of the year, yes.

PL: [00:14:50] For half of the year, I see.  And how did you feel about that, given the fact that your friends were in other schools, and you were just [00:15:00] told you were gonna go there, was -- did you find that difficult, or were you just

RONALD W: [00:15:04] Yeah, I couldn’t wait to get home --

ROLAND W: [00:15:06] Yes.

RONALD W: [00:15:07] -- to play with my friends, I mean, that was --

PL: [00:15:10] This was starting in seventh grade, when you all were together?

RONALD W: [00:15:12] Yes, yes, yes.

PL: [00:15:13] Were you in different classrooms, or were you --

RONALD W: [00:15:16] Yes.

PL: [00:15:16] That’s what I’ve heard from others, that they, even in the same grade, they separated you.

RONALD W: [00:15:20] I believe my seventh grade teacher at Venable, I think her name was Mrs. Leach, so.

ROLAND W: [00:15:30] I think mine was Mrs. McCurdy.

PL: [00:15:31] It was a fitting name for her? (laughs)

RONALD W: [00:15:33] Excuse me?

PL: [00:15:33] Was that a fitting --

RONALD W: [00:15:34] No, it was her name.  I don’t have animosity towards her one way or the other, but you know, that’s just the way it was.  But it was, the strange part is being in the classroom, and nobody in the classroom looks like you.

ROLAND W: [00:15:47] Well, (inaudible) I did have Marvin Townsend in the class with me.

PL: [00:15:52] Oh, you did?

ROLAND W: [00:15:53] Yes, and so, it was --

PL: [00:15:58] So you were not the only --

ROLAND W: [00:16:00] I was not the only one, yes.

PL: [00:16:00] -- Black kid in the classroom, yeah.  Was that helpful to you, or did you not think about it much?

ROLAND W: [00:16:06] I really didn’t think about it.  I mean, Marvin’s my cousin as well.  But you know, that’s why I says, it’s almost a family affair, but Marvin has related some stories to me that happened in the classroom.  I said, well where was I?  I was in that class, I don’t remember that happening.  So, but --

RONALD W: [00:16:24] I think each student had different --

ROLAND W: [00:16:29] Recollections.

RONALD W: [00:16:30] -- recollections what happened, you know, and whatever different story to tell, cause not everybody experienced the same thing.

PL: [00:16:38] That’s right, that’s right.  I mean we did an interview with Bobby King, do you remember Bobby, the younger brother of George?

ROLAND W: [00:16:46] Yes.

RONALD W: [00:16:47] George and I played ball together.

ROLAND W: [00:16:48] We played ball together.

PL: [00:16:49] Yes, I know that, yeah.  And Bobby King had some experiences in terms of, you know, the songs people sang [00:17:00] in the classrooms at the beginning of school, I think he tells a story about how in addition to the Pledge of Allegiance and some other things, the teacher always made the kids in that room sing “Old Black Joe,” and he was really offended --

RONALD W: [00:17:16] That’s what happened in his generation, because it didn’t happen in ours.

PL: [00:17:19] Didn’t happen in yours, you didn’t have any of those.

ROLAND W: [00:17:21] I don’t think it really would have happened in our generation.  Especially with my brother and I.  We probably would not allow that to happen.

PL: [00:17:32] So what do you think you would have done?  You think you would have spoken out, objected?

RONALD W: [00:17:37] Well spoken out would be one thing.  Back in the day, I used to be a little bit on the --

ROLAND W: [00:17:43] I had a short fuse back in the day.

RONALD W: [00:17:45] I could take a lot, but when I explode, I mean I just, I’ll black out.

PL: [00:17:51] Well you were a kid, you know.  I think you were probably entitled to your anger actually, but anyway.  So did you feel like you had teachers who [00:18:00] supported you, or were kind, or not kind?

RONALD W: [00:18:03] Some.  Well, are we past the elementary part, or getting back to the high school?

PL: [00:18:09] We’re, I think --

ROLAND W: [00:18:11] Still at elementary?

PL: [00:18:12] You were still at elementary school, I want to get --

RONALD W: [00:18:15] I think the teachers, the teacher that I have, cause when back in that time, one teacher taught just about every subject, so you really didn’t change classrooms like you do today.

PL: [00:18:26] Right.

RONALD W: [00:18:27] You know, so I think she was supportive, I mean, I got my lessons done and so forth.  I had to sit in front of the class, I was like, let’s see, there was one, two, three, four, five.  I was in the fourth row, second seat.

ROLAND W: [00:18:45] You still remember that?

RONALD W: [00:18:46] Yes.  Cause the coat rung was behind me, and everybody else was behind me cause, and I don’t have eyes in the back of my head.  But you know, that felt kind of strange.

ROLAND W: [00:18:57] I kind of sat in the middle on [00:19:00] my class, on the end, so.

PL: [00:19:03] Did you have friendships that formed in those years with some of the other kids in the class?  You said you couldn’t wait to get home and see your friends, so that --

RONALD W: [00:19:10] Well yeah, I mean, I wouldn’t call it friendship, more of being tolerated, and so forth.  I wasn’t allowed to play any sports.  We’d go out there and we play, for phys ed we would go out and play touch football, so forth, but they were forming a football league, touch football league for the various elementary schools, and I was told that I couldn’t participate.

PL: [00:19:39] Wow.  And were you told why, or did you just know why?

RONALD W: [00:19:44] Well they said they couldn’t guarantee my safety.  Safety was not an issue that I was concerned about.

ROLAND W: [00:19:51] No, I wasn’t either.

RONALD W: [00:19:52] Cause you give as good as you get.  I mean, that’s the way it was.

PL: [00:19:58] So this is maybe a good segue into [00:20:00] just asking how you both got involved in sports.  Was it through those games at Washington Park, or it’s just whatever --

ROLAND W: [00:20:07] That and Little League, I played Little League.  We had to wait, cause our birthday was in July, we had to wait a whole year after we turned eight to play.  And I was ready to play at seven.  And so, when we started playing Little League, baseball was our first sport.  Then we went to football, basketball, and track.  And so, sports was always an outlet, cause we were fairly good at it.  And we enjoyed it, and it kept us out of trouble.

RONALD W: [00:20:47] Yeah, it was outlet, you know.  Without sports -- sports did two things.  Number one, it was an outlet for us, and it enabled us to cope, [00:21:00] and also gave a foundation as working together as a team, and also provided a good work ethic for not just sports, but when you go out to the world.

PL: [00:21:13] But these teams were segregated that you’re talking about, yes?

RONALD W: [00:21:17] Well yeah, maybe we should back up a little bit.  The Little League and the basketball that we played was really in the recreation league.  Little League baseball we played for five years.  We were still -- by that time, we went to Jefferson for a couple of years, cause Jefferson was right in my backyard, it was closer to me than Lane.

PL: [00:21:43] Well, so, Jefferson --

RONALD W: [00:21:47] Jefferson was the elementary school, okay.  We went through for one through five.  And for half of our sixth grade, we were tutored.  Then the second half of the school year, we were in this [00:22:00] building.

ROLAND W: [00:22:02] Then for the full seventh grade, we were in, at Venable.

PL: [00:22:06] Yeah, for the full year.

ROLAND W: [00:22:07] For the full year.

RONALD W: [00:22:10] Then eighth and ninth --

PL: [00:22:11] And ninth, you were in Burley, right.

RONALD W: [00:22:14] In Burley, because we was in high school, then that was considered high school.

PL: [00:22:15] Right, but you started to say something about the leagues, or the rec center.  The rec center was segregated?

ROLAND W: [00:22:21] Yes.

PL: [00:22:21] So it was Carver Rec Center that you’re talking about, yeah.  So, okay, so I’ve heard this from many other people too, I mean you’re really supporting that we’ve heard, that you know, everybody just went out and played sports together, and they had pickup games, or you know, and that was a huge motivator, right?  And it also sounds like maybe a community builder, that you built community through sports just because you were always hanging out together?

ROLAND W: [00:22:52] Yeah, I guess you could say that, because basically at Washington, most of the people, guys there, playing sports, we all lived in the neighborhood.  [00:23:00] And so.

PL: [00:23:03] Do you ever remember any white kids coming from nearby to play with you?

RONALD W: [00:23:07] No.

ROLAND W: [00:23:08] No.

RONALD W: [00:23:09] They stayed in their lane, we stayed in ours.

PL: [00:23:11] It sounds like it, it sounds like it.  Okay, so let’s move on to Burley.  You spend two years at Burley, and then three at Lane.

ROLAND W: [00:23:20] Correct, yes.

PL: [00:23:20] Right, so why did you go to Burley after having been at Venable?

RONALD W: [00:23:27] Well I’ll let Roland address this issue, because my memory’s a little foggy of that, other than the fact that we live closer to Burley, and we went there for two years.  And then all of a sudden we were designated to go to Lane.

ROLAND W: [00:23:42] Well, what happened was we was slated to go back, go to Burley.  And then they had something reinitiated the lawsuit, because, and then because we were still involved in the lawsuit, [00:24:00] they determined that we had to go, go to Lane.

PL: [00:24:06] You had to go to Lane?

ROLAND W: [00:24:07] Yes.  Well let’s put it this way.  Mom, forgive me, but I asked her, I said, well how come we gotta go to Lane?  That’s when she told me, we were still involved in the lawsuit.  I’m still the, I still have doubts about that, but anyway.

RONALD W: [00:24:23] And you think maybe she just wanted you to have that educational advantage that people at least thought Lane provided?

ROLAND W: [00:24:30] Yeah, and I don’t fault her for that.  In fact, I think we benefit from that.  Because, we got good grades at Burley, but I had to put forth more effort to get the same type of grades at Lane.  Now why was that, I don’t know.  Just had to be more focused.  And I think that helped us, [00:25:00] not only in sports, but going forward, when I got to college, and I got my jobs.  The last job I had, I went to the interview, and my director that hired me said the one thing that stood out in my interview from my previous supervisors was my work ethic.  And where did that come from?  Being in high school, playing sports, being a team member.  So, it’s a lot of benefits that came from that experience.

PL: [00:25:41] Do you want to comment on this?

RONALD W: [00:25:42] Yeah, I want to comment on that.  I don’t want to give the impression that the teachers -- the teachers at Burley were good.

ROLAND W: [00:25:51] Yes, they were.

RONALD W: [00:25:52] And they provided the nurturing, because they also, not only we were their students, but they knew our parents.  And some [00:26:00] of the teachers taught our parents, you know?  But they were good.  I was in a panel, I think, at the first anniversary of the Charlottesville Twelve integration at Venable High School, and the moderator asked me, asked the question, did integration hurt or help the Black community?  And I said, it did both.  It helped the Black community at the time because that was the only avenue that we had to get decent jobs and decent wages.  I said, but it hurt the Black community, because there were no more -- we lost the nurturing part.  And in the developing of children, nurturing goes a long way.  I think it goes further than being educated, nurturing, feels like you belong, and you do well.  And when we went to Lane, the nurturing part was not there.

ROLAND W: [00:26:59] That’s true.  [00:27:00] I mean I think the teachers cared.

RONALD W: [00:27:04] Some of them cared.

ROLAND W: [00:27:05] Yeah, some of them.  And, but basically, like my brother said, the nurturing wasn’t there.  I can’t say, I didn’t feel like I didn’t belong, because within my character, I knew I belonged, and nobody was gonna tell me any different.  But I think sports went a long way of being more accepted than it would have been if we weren’t involved in sports.  Okay.

PL: [00:27:43] Yeah.  Did you play sports at Burley?

RONALD W: [00:27:46] No.

ROLAND W: [00:27:47] No.  I got hassled and harassed by the coaches.  One of the coaches who just passed recently, in fact his wake yesterday and funeral’s tomorrow, couldn’t go into the gym [00:28:00] without him grabbing me, said, pass, Mr. Woodfolk, we passed, another pass next week.  I said okay coach.  (laughs) I kept going.  But I wasn’t ready to play sports in the 8th and 9th grade.  But by the time I got to sophomore year, I was ready.

PL: [00:28:25] And so who were your coaches at Lane that you played with?

RONALD W: [00:28:30] The football coach was Tommy Theodose, Joe Bingler, I think Mr. Cook was the --

ROLAND W: [00:28:41] Track coach.

RONALD W: [00:28:41] -- track coach.  Well actually he was assistant track coach, cause Theodose was also the track coach.

ROLAND W: [00:28:49] No, Cook was the track coach.

RONALD W: [00:28:51] No, no, no, because I remember going to a meeting, we wanted to play baseball.  That was  with Coach Bingler, baseball coach, [00:29:00] and you know, we’re sitting in the back, trying to be inconspicuous, and not be recognized, and all of a sudden, Coach Bingler looked up and said, “Woody,” that’s what they called us, and said, “Woody, you playing football next year?”  I said, “Yeah, why, coach?”  He said, “Well I think Coach Theodose is looking for you.”  I said, “Coach, I don’t want to run track, I want to play baseball.”  He said, “Well I think if you’re gonna play football next year, you need to go and see Coach Theodose.  So I went -- we went to see Coach Theodose, cause the meeting, the two meetings was going on at the same time, just in a different room.  So I went back and I told Coach Theodore, I said look, I don’t like track, I don’t really like running, you know.  I said, I’m only here for a letter.  Fine.  (laughs) You know, so that was how I joined the [00:30:00] track team, yeah.

PL: [00:30:02] So how many teams were you on in high school?

RONALD W: [00:30:04] Just, I ran track, we ran track for two years and played football for two years.

PL: [00:30:09] Both in the same sports?

RONALD W: [00:30:12] Yes.

ROLAND W: [00:30:12] Yes.  We had to sit out a year to play sports, because we transferred over.

PL: [00:30:18] Okay, so you were -- now, I just want to make sure I’ve got this right.  You were at Lane for three years?

ROLAND W: [00:30:25] Yes.

RONALD W: [00:30:25] Yes.

PL: [00:30:26] Okay, that would have been ’63 to -- no, it would have been --

RONALD W: [00:30:29] No, ’62.

PL: [00:30:31] ’62 to ’65, okay.  And I’ve heard this story before, and I mean I think it’s been documented that you had to sit out for a year.  Do you have any understanding of why that was?

RONALD W: [00:30:45] Other than the fact that they say, transfers had to sit out a year.  But we had an exchange student.  He didn’t sit out a year.

PL: [00:30:54] A foreign exchange student?

RONALD W: [00:30:56] A foreign exchange student, and he didn’t have to sit out a year, so, [00:31:00] you know.

PL: [00:31:03] Do you remember when you transferred to Lane, was there any kind of orientation for transferring in from Burley?  Was there any sort of effort from any administrator to talk to you about what you might expect would happen in terms of people who didn’t want you there?

RONALD W: [00:31:21] No.  Cold turkey.

PL: [00:31:25] Cold turkey, right.  You know, we did have an interview a long time ago with Coach Theodose.

RONALD W: [00:31:32] Wonderful man.

PL: [00:31:33] Yeah, that’s what everyone says.  He’s not too well and he’s in his nineties and --

ROLAND W: [00:31:40] Is that all, he is in his nineties, okay.

PL: [00:31:43] Yes, he is, yeah.

ROLAND W: [00:31:45] Okay, I thought it was like in his late eighties, okay.

PL: [00:31:47] No, no.  So you know, he wasn’t too communicative, but we had some people there with him who, you know, could sort of help encourage him to [00:32:00] remember certain things.  And there are still a bunch of guys from early on who still sort of take him to lunch once in a while and things like that, like      David Sloan, you know him, yeah.

RONALD W: [00:32:14] Yeah, I think he has a brother named Jerry, so.

PL: [00:32:15] And George Foussekis.

RONALD W: [00:32:18] Foussekis.

ROLAND W: [00:32:19] We played ball with him.

PL: [00:32:20] Right, right.  So they’re pretty devoted to Theodose.

RONALD W: [00:32:25] Well he was mostly a father figure to some of the guys, which I really didn’t know, cause I really, I came, when I went to practice, I did what I had to do, and when practice was over, I left.  There was no hanging around with the other team members and so forth, you just, I left.

ROLAND W: [00:32:45] It’s like a job, you go do your job, and you go home.  We had fun while we did it.

PL: [00:32:49] Do you think some of the other kids hung around and socialized more, or do you just not know?

RONALD W: [00:32:54] They probably did.  There was only four blacks on the team, so we just.

PL: [00:32:59] Yes, [00:33:00] so you know one of the stories I’ve heard, I wonder if you’ve heard this as well, is that in that first year when you transferred in from Burley and had to sit out a year, that Theodose had gone to the administration and to the principal I guess of the high school and said, you know, there are these two -- he must have been referring to the two of you I think, that there are these two African American students, I’d like to invite them onto the team, and the principal told them he couldn’t, cause there was this one-year ineligibility, you know.

RONALD W: [00:33:43] I’m not aware of that.

ROLAND W: [00:33:46] But I can, if that’s what he said, I can believe it because I had an incident with, I think the principal’s name was Mr. [W. I. ] Nickels.  I got called to his office one day, [00:34:00] and I went, and we talked, the whole thing was, I had a mustache.  He wanted me to shave it off.  And I looked him dead in his face and told him, no way.  Because none of the white kids -- white guys, had a mustache.  I said, I’ve just had this quite a while.  It’s not coming off.  So you do what you gotta do, but it’s not coming off.  I got up and walked out of his office, I heard nothing else from that.

RONALD W: [00:34:31] See that’s something I didn’t know.

ROLAND W: [00:34:34] See like we said at the beginning, each person had different experiences.  There’s things that he went through that I didn’t know.

PL: [00:34:42] But you had the strength, the inner strength to stand up to the principal.

ROLAND W: [00:34:48] Well I really had no fear.  Like my brother said, we were kind of, we didn’t bother people.  People wouldn’t walk over us [00:35:00] either.  It took us a long -- I don’t know, it took me a long time to get over there, because I brought that into my adult life, but I’m an old grandfather now, so I’m pretty --

PL: [00:35:12] That probably came from your basic training at home, I would imagine, in terms of self respect.

ROLAND W: [00:35:17] My mother always told me, don’t let nobody walk over you.

RONALD W: [00:35:20] And that, you’re as good as anybody else.  And that’s one thing she always said, I don’t ask you to make straight As, but I just want you to do your best, do your best.  I said okay, I can do that.

PL: [00:35:42] Coach Theodose also told us this other story, and I don’t know to whom he was referring, but he said that there were some African American, one African American kid he wanted on his team, [00:36:00] and he tried to recruit him, and apparently the guy said to him, “I’m not gonna go and play for any white guy,” and Theodose said, “I’m not white, I’m Greek.” (laughs)

ROLAND W: [00:36:13] They called him “The Greek.”

PL: [00:36:15] Then the guy said, oh, okay, then I guess I’ll come --

RONALD W: [00:36:19] I don’t know who he was referring to.

PL: [00:36:20] I don’t know, he didn’t name a name either, but I thought that was a really funny story.

ROLAND W: [00:36:24] I have an idea, I think I might call him and find out.  (laughs) But anyway, I never, I didn’t hear that sorry.

PL: [00:36:32] Anyway, so you both talked about this a little bit, maybe we could go back to the big question, which is, did sports become a means to overcome race divisions, and in what way, if so?  If so, in what way?  Did sports become a means to overcome racial tensions or racial divisions?

RONALD W: [00:36:59] Well, [00:37:00] I think it did help overcome racial tensions.  It for me was a matter of coping, and I can remember how junior year the four of us went out for football, and we met in Coach Theodose’s office, and he sat us down, and he told us, he said look, if you guys make the team, you will play.  And Coach was a man of his word.  We made the team, we played.  And you can ask anybody, I didn’t want anybody to give me anything.  All I wanted was an opportunity, that’s all.  Let the chips fall where they may, just give me that opportunity, but just don’t say that I can’t play because of the color of my skin.  You know, that didn’t sit well with me.  But I asked Coach [Theodose] years later, [00:38:00] I said, there was no rhyme or reason how we won the state championship, okay?  So I said, “Coach, what was the criteria for winning the state championship?”  He said, “Woody, I really can’t tell you.  I think with everything that was going on with the race relations and all that kind of stuff, and we had no, it seemed like the football brought the community together, there was no hostilities and nothing like that, so he said, I think that was probably one of the criteria that, reason why we were given the state championship.”

ROLAND W: [00:38:39] Cause as a team, we all got along.  We all got along, we worked well together, we had a goal: winning.  And we played for a coach that was about winning, about discipline, knowing your assignments, and [00:39:00] you go out and execute.  We executed, we went undefeated.  And I think that brought the town together more than anything else.

RONALD W: [00:39:12] Plus Burley had won the district championship, so we had two championships in the city.

PL: [00:39:17] Yeah, Burley had a great team as well.

RONALD W: [00:39:19] Oh Burley had an excellent team.

PL: [00:39:21] Right, undefeated and unscored upon, I understand, right?

RONALD W: [00:39:23] Yes.

PL: [00:39:27] So, the coach played you, was there any, you know, you were able to play.  Was there any question that he would put you in sort of significant positions, or were you sidelined in any way during those years?  No you were just --

ROLAND W: [00:39:43] No, we played our position.

PL: [00:39:46] What was your position?

ROLAND W: [00:39:48] I played defensive back.

RONALD W: [00:39:50] I played defensive back, and also I was a running back.

ROLAND W: [00:39:53] I ran too, but I preferred playing defense.  Coach called me out in practice one day, I think I was, [00:40:00] George Foussekis was having a bad day that day, because I was blocking and taking him everywhere I wanted to take him.  In fact he swung at me, and coach got on him with that.  He was just frustrated.  But, the thing was that Coach said, “Woody, every time you start doing well, you get tired on me.  What’s your problem?  I said, “Coach, I don’t like offense.  Offense you get hit.  Defense, you get to hit, and I like to hit, I like to hit people.”  Actually we was in, what we call a chalk talk, which is a team meeting after review the films on the team we’re playing that week.  And one of the, this was my senior year, and I don’t remember, you know a guy named David Trice, he was the quarterback after Gene Arnette, and I heard him tell somebody else, I don’t know who he was talking to, but it was a tackle that I was making, and I kind of bowled, rode the guy down to the ground, and David was [00:41:00] about six feet, I know he was about 175, I was about 150, 5’9”, he said, “I sure wouldn’t want Woody to be hitting on me.” (laughs) I took that as a compliment, yeah.  Cause, but yeah.  Like I said, we had real team spirit, we got along, we did well.

PL: [00:41:21] And you got along during --

RONALD W: [00:41:23] Yeah, but see you don’t know until later whether you were just being tolerated.  And I’ve heard that comment that we were just being tolerated.  But Coach was the cohesive part that kept everybody together.  We did everything as a team.  First one said, there’s no I in team.  So you know, if everybody do their job, we’ll win.  Like when we won the state championship back in ’63, he said, he told the team, “I don’t know what kind of team we’re gonna have this year, but I tell you what, you’re gonna be the most conditioned team on the field.” [00:42:00] And he wasn’t lying about that.  I mean, some of the things he put us through, I think you could call child abuse.  (laughs)

ROLAND W: [00:42:08] Yeah, to be honest with you --

PL: [00:42:08] Now we would call it that.

ROLAND W: [00:42:10] I can’t ever remember being tired during a game.  Nobody ever got tired during the game.  Because we were so well-conditioned.  Oh man, I tell you.

PL: [00:42:20] That’s great.  And what happened when you traveled to other schools to play?  Were there ever any issues about --

RONALD W: [00:42:30] Well yeah, I can remember -- not to cut you off, but I can remember, it was a football, I think it was like a training game, we went somewhere, I can’t remember where it was.  It might have been Buena Vista, Virginia, whatever.  But we couldn’t go to this     restaurant and eat as a team.  So we all had boxed lunches and we sit outside, near the bus and ate.  So, I think Coach said, [00:43:00] “If we can’t eat inside as a team, then we’ll eat outside as a team.”  He was just a remarkable man, you know, back in that time, there was a trust that wasn’t there with white people, and like you say, he said he wasn’t white, he was Greek.  But like I say, I really admired that man, I really do.

ROLAND W: [00:43:25] Now I had an experience, I don’t know, you probably, you were injured, but we went to George Washington, GW Danville.

RONALD W: [00:43:33] Was that track?

ROLAND W: [00:43:34] No, this is football.

PL: [00:43:37] I have it in my notes, I was just going to say, do you remember the 1963 game against George Washington High School of Danville, so here we go.

ROLAND W: [00:43:44] Yes.

PL: [00:43:45] We’ve done some research here.

RONALD W: [00:43:47] Yeah, I remember that game.

ROLAND W: [00:43:48] Yeah.  One of the first things, guards, Rusty Butcher, he was about yay high.  Mean little devil.  But, he walked off the bus, [00:44:00] and then, you know, they had their players sit up on the rail, right up where our bus departed.  And they asked him, who are you, the water boy?  And Rusty replies that, “Come game time, you’ll know who I am.”  And that was all was said.  Now, when I, we got off the bus, they didn’t say a word, because remember back in, this was probably before most team’s time, we have film on the other teams.  So, they knew who we were.  And so they didn’t have a word to say.  Now, we beat GW Danville, and they just had a race riot or something, disturbance that week.  And that was one of the few stadiums we were in that the stadium and the field was level.  So it's not like you’re looking down.  I kept my helmet on the whole time.

RONALD W: [00:45:00] I did too.

ROLAND W: [00:45:01] I don’t even think I sat on the bench, I stand up, near the sideline, but --

PL: [00:45:06] Because you were worried that somebody might come and sock you?

ROLAND W: [00:45:09] I was cautious, I was cautious.

PL: [00:45:12] Like I say, I don’t have eyes in the back of my head.

ROLAND W: [00:45:15] But one of the things that was said to me after the game, a couple of the guys from GW came over to me, and said, “I just want to shake the hand to the guy whose feet never touches the ground.”  He said, “Now we were hesitant about playing against Blacks,” because they had heard rumors that we play dirty and things like that, he said, “But I want to tell you right now, I’ll be proud to play with you guys any day.”  And I thought that was nice for him to say, yeah.

PL: [00:45:46] Absolutely, yeah, just a regular kid on the other team then, yeah.  Now who is this Rusty you’re talking about?

ROLAND W: [00:45:54] Rusty Butcher?

PL: [00:45:56] Butcher, and he was on [00:46:00] the Lane team?

ROLAND W: [00:46:01] Yes.  I think Rusty must have been a sophomore at that time.  Because Rusty was one guard, George King was the other.

RONALD W: [00:46:14] The other starting guard, yeah.

ROLAND W: [00:46:16] Starting guard, so.

PL: [00:46:18] I haven’t heard his name before.

RONALD W: [00:46:21] He was one of the white players, so, yeah.

PL: [00:46:24] Yeah, I know, but yeah, okay.  So it seems like I think you’re both saying that the team brought people together, right, demonstrated to the crowds that --

RONALD W: [00:46:38] Yeah, and it also brought the community together as well.

PL: [00:46:42] So when the Lane team played, do you remember that African American community members came to those games?

ROLAND W: [00:46:56] Oh yes.

PL: [00:46:57] They did come to the games, they were in the stands.

ROLAND W: [00:46:58] In fact most, quite [00:47:00] a few people who played Burley football were at the games, cause Burley played on Thursday nights, and Lane played on Friday nights.  So, in fact I didn’t even know these guys came to the game.  It was years later, like maybe like ten years later I was talking to a guy named [Purcell Berkett?].

RONALD W: [00:47:20] [Purcell Berkley.].

ROLAND W: [00:47:24] And some of the other guys that we used to watch in our day playing for Burley, said yeah, they used to come to all our games.  I said really?  They said yeah, we enjoyed watching you guys play.  That was news to me.  I was saying, why did these guys, they’re older, why would they come and watch us play?

PL: [00:47:43] I understand that at a certain point, there was an accommodation made so that the games were on other nights of the week?

RONALD W: [00:47:50] Yeah, because Lane had a terrible football team.

PL: [00:47:54] Yes, and everybody was going to Burley.

RONALD W: [00:47:55] And everybody wanted to see Burley, so when they played on Friday nights, [00:48:00] Lane Stadium would be empty, and everybody else would be over at Burley High School, so.

ROLAND W: [00:48:05] And that’s where we would be too.

RONALD W: [00:48:07] So, they made that change.

PL: [00:48:11] So, how did you feel you were treated by teachers in the classroom at Lane?

RONALD W: [00:48:22] I guess, okay, some treated you fairly.  Some just tolerated you.  Like we had a math teacher, and I knew she did not like Black students, cause she gave everybody, all the Black students at that time, they gave us an E, which is considered conditional failure, so we had to go to summer school to make that grade up.  So we went from an E to a D, [00:49:00] so that was a passing grade.  But, years later --

ROLAND W: [00:49:05] I got a B.  (laughs)

RONALD W: [00:49:07] Well, but anyway, I can’t remember, but I know we got an E cause we had to go to summer school for that class.  But anyway, she was still teaching after we left, and she did the Black students the same way, gave ‘em Es.

ROLAND W: [00:49:20] Cause I had a cousin and he said, and he’s a few years younger than we are, and we got to talking, and he said something about this lady, I said, she’s still a teacher?  I said, she was old when we had her.

RONALD W: [00:49:31] That’s right, old and decrepit when we were there.

ROLAND W: [00:49:34] When we had her.  And she’s still teaching?  He said yeah, and he said,      he remembers some of the same things, and this like, at least a decade later or so.

PL: [00:49:43] Do you remember her name?

ROLAND W: [00:49:44] Yes I do.

PL: [00:49:45] You don’t want to say it?

ROLAND W: [00:49:46] No.

RONALD W: [00:49:47] Oh I don’t have a problem saying it.

ROLAND W: [00:49:48] But I don’t think it’s --

PL: [00:49:50] I don’t suspect she’s around anymore.

RONALD W: [00:49:52] Oh no, but some of her family members might be, but you know.

PL: [00:49:57] I’m sure we can look her up.  (laughs)

ROLAND W: [00:49:59] Yeah, you probably could.

RONALD W: [00:50:00] I’ll tell you off-camera.  (laughs)

PL: [00:50:02] Okay, all right, that’s fine.

RONALD W: [00:50:04] Her name is etched in my memory.

PL: [00:50:08] Yeah, so, but that, was that a typical experience with other teachers?

ROLAND W: [00:50:13] You know, I don’t know.  I had an English teacher, and until my last grading period, I couldn’t get above a C-plus.  Handed all my paperwork in time, got good      grades on tests.  So one day I asked him, I says, you know what, Mr. so-and-so, I said, “This subject is the only one keeping me off the honor roll,” cause at Lane, you had to have all As and Bs, you couldn’t have an average, a B average to be on the honor roll, you had to have all As and Bs.  I had all As and Bs, and a C-plus.  So I asked him how come, I said, “You know, you’re keeping me off the honor roll.”  And so the last [00:51:00] grading period, I got a B or B-minus, I don’t know, I made the honor roll, which I thought I should have been making the honor roll that whole year.  Now I can’t say what his reasoning was for my grade.  I just know, I’m always taught, you do the work, you put in the time, you should get the grade that was beholden to your effort.  And I felt that my efforts was greater than a C-plus.  So, but you know, I can’t say what his motive was, or even if he had one, I don’t know.  But I know I got a higher grade after I had a talk with him, so.

RONALD W: [00:51:47] I don’t remember that.

PL: [00:51:48] You don’t remember?

ROLAND W: [00:51:48] You weren’t in that class.  We weren’t in the same class in high school.  Did we have the same math class?

RONALD W: [00:51:57] Did you have Mrs. E?

ROLAND W: [00:51:59] Yeah, [00:52:00] we had her, I don’t know if we had her at the same time, I don’t recall.  They mostly kept us separate.  No, we had English History together.

RONALD W: [00:52:10] Near Mr.  (inaudible).  We also had Latin together, Latin.

ROLAND W: [00:52:17] Yeah, we had a few classes.

RONALD W: [00:52:19] We had a few classes together.

ROLAND W: [00:52:20] It’s hard to say.  Well for the most part, we had, we might have had the same teacher, but we had different periods.

PL: [00:52:29] Sure, sure.  And were you involved in other things at Lane, besides sports?

RONALD W: [00:52:35] No.

ROLAND W: [00:52:36] Well, we did put, was it the senior play?

RONALD W: [00:52:39] Senior follies.

ROLAND W: [00:52:40] Follies.

RONALD W: [00:52:41] We just have all the seniors to, they have to put on a play for the whole school.  Other than that, that’s the only thing.

PL: [00:52:48] So I’m gonna tell you that the yearbook for the senior year says that you, Ronald, were [00:53:00] involved with something that begins with an H, and that you were vice president of H.  Now we don’t know if that refers to --

RONALD W: [00:53:00] Homeroom.

PL: [00:53:10] -- homeroom, homecoming.

RONALD W: [00:53:11] Yeah, homeroom.

ROLAND W: [00:53:13] You were?

RONALD W: [00:53:14] Yeah, I forgot all about that.

ROLAND W: [00:53:16] I didn’t know about that.

PL: [00:53:18] (laughs) What’d you do as vice president of the homeroom?

RONALD W: [00:53:22] I can’t remember, I just barely, ‘til you mentioned it, I’d forgotten all about it.

PL: [00:53:26] Yeah, cause I mean, you know, so we asked Kent Merritt just two days ago --

RONALD W: [00:53:33] Where’d you get that information from? (laughs)

PL: [00:53:36] Where did I get it from?  It’s in the yearbook, it’s in your Lane yearbook.

RONALD W: [00:53:40] Really?

PL: [00:53:41] It says so, under your name, so.

RONALD W: [00:53:43] I guess that makes it so, it’s in print.  It doesn’t have to be right, but it’s in print.  But yeah, I do recall being elected vice president of our homeroom class.

PL: [00:53:54] Yeah, so you know, Kent Merritt was president of the senior class.  [00:54:00] He was president of the senior class in 1970.  And I said to him, “What did you do as president?”  And he said, “Nothing.” (laughs)

RONALD W: [00:54:10] That’s what, I didn’t do anything either.  It’s a title.

PL: [00:54:14] But he was elected by his peers, he was elected by the students, which is pretty amazing, you know, because I think we were still in Charlottesville struggling, communities were struggling with this desegregation, integration.

ROLAND W: [00:54:28] And that was five years after we graduated.  Evolution.  (laughs)

PL: [00:54:34] Yeah, well that certainly is a good thing, but.  Anyway, you mentioned the principal, right, Mr. Nickels [?], yeah.  What was he like?

ROLAND W: [00:54:44] Couldn’t tell you, that was my only encounter with him.  I didn’t see him the rest of the year.  That was my sophomore year.  I didn’t see him for the next three years, I guess.  I mean I might have seen him in the hall or something like that, but we never spoke another word, since that --

RONALD W: [00:55:00] I never had any interaction with him, so.

PL: [00:55:03] Were you aware that there was a grade minimum for students to be able to join student government, cheerleading, sports?  Did you know that there was a --

RONALD W: [00:55:14] A C average for sports.  I assume that’s the average that you had to maintain for other activities.

PL: [00:55:23] Because in 1968, after you were gone, there was a demand from students that that grade minimum be changed.

ROLAND W: [00:55:35] From what to what?

PL: [00:55:36] I don’t know, but I don’t think there was any minimum to be able to participate.

ROLAND W: [00:55:40] No, I disagree with that, because to play sports, or any school activity, there should be some criteria, and I think if you’re gonna be extracurricular activities, you should have the grades to support that, because [00:56:00] sports takes away from your schoolwork, because it’s time that you could be spending studying, you’re out playing sports.  So, in order to be a student-athlete, you have to do that, and I think a C-average is not, I mean, if put forth a minimum average, you should be able to get a C-average.

RONALD W. [00:56:23] And I know Coach, if you didn’t have the grades, Coach won’t let you play.  And they put you off the team.

ROLAND W: [00:56:29] Can I digress a little bit, get back to Coach Theodose?

PL: [00:56:32] Sure.

ROLAND W: [00:56:34] When my brother’s now, we got this E in math, and so we had to go to summer school.  We went to summer school, we were working, our employer let us off for two hours during the day to go to summer school.  We had to come back, and we had to work two hours over to make it up.  But, Coach made us -- well he didn’t make us.  We went through all the summer practice, [00:57:00] halfbacks and ends got three practices a day in August, in mid-August, okay?  We got through all of that, and then when September came, I think it was the week before, it may have been the week that we was having our first game, Coach called Ron and I into the office, and Coach Bingler was in there too, and they sat down and said, “Woody, got some bad news for you.”  I said, “What’s that, Coach?”  He said, “I found out that you didn’t pass math this last year.”  I said, “You’re right Coach, but we went to summer school and made it up.”  “Well we don’t have that record.”  I said, “Wait a minute,” I started to walk out the office, and he said, “Wait, wait, wait, hold, hold, hold, we’re just joking.”  Bingler just cracked up, he thought that was the funniest thing, so Coach had a sense of humor.  I said, “Coach, that was not nice.”  I said, [00:58:00] “That’s not nice, you wait ‘til we go through all this work, and then you’re gonna tell us we’re not gonna play?”  So anyway, that’s the kind --

PL: [00:58:09] You were both there at the time when this happened?

RONALD W: [00:58:11] Yeah, I kind of don’t remember that, but yeah.

ROLAND W: [00:58:14] Oh I remember that because I was ready to go see somebody, and I was tearing to go down the hall.  And so he knew I meant business, he stopped me, he told me they were just joking, so, but, yeah.  He’s a fair guy, like I said, whatever he said he’s gonna do, he did.  And I gotta honor him for that.

PL: [00:58:40] So if I could ask you to sort of think more broadly about Charlottesville in general, you know here you are, the two of you are going through the integration of schools, you know, as kind of being among the first, you know, to be involved in that, [00:59:00] and sports as well.  For you, what would you say Charlottesville was like for a person of color during your years there?  Was Charlottesville generally a good place for you to grow up, do you think, or not so good, or did it change when you started to go to these integrated schools?  How would you generalize about that?

RONALD W: [00:59:22] You know, it’s really hard to say, because we stuck to ourselves.  I mean it wasn’t getting together with the white community, vice versa.  You know, like my wife, she’ll tell you, she couldn’t live in Charlottesville, because she’s not used to someone say, well you can’t go here because of the color of your skin, that doesn’t --

PL: [00:59:50] That doesn’t really happen anymore, I don’t think, but.

RONALD W: [00:59:52] Well, years later after we got married, she went back home, she had a couple of experiences there, but that’s why she doesn’t [01:00:00] like it, but that’s besides the point.  Have I ever told you that how can you go to someplace, live in a place where you can’t go here, go there because of the color of your skin?  I said it never bothered me.  I knew I couldn’t go there, so I wasn’t concerned about going.  I don’t know if that addressed your question, but I really just gave it no thought.  I think the situation now is a lot worse than it was when we were going through the integration part.  Why that is, I don’t know.

ROLAND W: [01:00:41] Well you know, like the tension I believe was there, but civility was there as well, okay?  It’s not like it is now, you know?  But so, that’s why I think it was better than -- it really didn’t -- how can I put this? [01:01:00] It really didn’t, I guess for lack of a better word, bother us that much, because we did, it didn’t really hinder us from doing what we normally did.  We had fun, we played, we went to school, we had friends.  Places that we knew that we couldn’t go, we didn’t go.  Didn’t bother us.  If we know, you’re okay.  It’s when you don’t know that there’s a problem.

RONALD W: [01:01:28] And I noticed --

PL: [01:01:30] That’s interesting, if you know, if you know, it’s okay, it’s when you don’t know.  In other words --

ROLAND W: [01:01:38] Right, if you go someplace and you don’t know that you’re not --

PL: [01:01:41] That you’re not welcome.

ROLAND W: [01:01:41] -- you can’t go there, then yeah, that’s hurtful.  But if you know from the beginning that they don’t want you in there, why would you subject yourself to that, you know?  Until integration came along, I guess people said, enough is enough.  So you know, then things [01:02:00] changed.  But, at least I’m not aware of any racial incidents happening during our time.  I’m not saying they didn’t happen, it’s just that, I’m not aware of it, so.

RONALD W: [01:02:15] And I know once football, that season was over with, we left school, we didn’t hang out, at least I didn’t hang around school, you know.  I left, like I told you, my grandmother’s house was like in the middle of town.  All the Burley students had to come by my grandmother’s house, so I just made a beeline to grandma’s house and just waited.  (laughs)

ROLAND W: [01:02:40] Yeah, I know why you waited.

PL: [01:02:43] That’s great, that’s great.  And so, when you leave Charlottesville, I know you went to Howard.

ROLAND W: [01:02:50] We both went to Howard.

PL: [01:02:51] Oh you both went to Howard, uh-huh, and what was Howard like for you?  I know we’re out of Charlottesville now, but I just --

ROLAND W: [01:02:59] Howard was a [01:03:00] whole different experience.  Now when you go back, you go back to the time when integration started, being in and out of school, being assimilated around white kids, it was just a different experience going to all-black school.  And that felt good.  But also, Howard was an international school.  We had so many foreign students, so you got an opportunity to talk to them, learn about their culture, and ironically, our junior year in college, we both have white roommates.

PL: [01:03:51] At Howard, yeah.

ROLAND W: [01:03:52] They were exchange students.

RONALD W: [01:03:54] Who was your white roommate?

ROLAND W: [01:03:57] Oh, I can’t think of his name, he was an English lit major.  [01:04:00]

RONALD W: [01:04:00] Junior year in college, we had --

ROLAND W: [01:04:02] I’m sorry, sophomore year, it was a Carter Hall, sophomore, yes.  We were in apartments in our junior year; it was sophomore year.  And your guy, I remember your roommate, he was in the ROTC.

RONALD W: [01:04:14] He wasn’t there long.

ROLAND W: [01:04:16] No, I think they were only there for a semester, yeah.

RONALD W: [01:04:21] I had Tom Jones was my --

ROLAND W: [01:04:24] Yeah, cause this guy, he was in English lit, and he’d be reading books this thick, and he loves his beer, he would punch holes in the straw, he’d drink it out the straw, he’d punch holes in the straw and suck it.  I said, “Why do you do that?”  He said, “You get more air in your lungs, you get higher,” I said, okay.  (laughs) But I don’t remember the name, but he was cool, he was a good guy.  We got along fine, so.  But that was, I bring that up because even though you asked me about what it was being like at Howard, being, having a total black experience, and then, [01:05:00] in sophomore year you get a white roommate, that was interesting.  But no.

PL: [01:05:06] But Howard, you know, Howard really did have the reputation of being a very exciting place to be with lots of fine teachers.  I’m trying right now to remember, oh gosh, the name, it’ll come back to me, but the name of, oh, Ta-Nehisi Coates, you know?  Not familiar with, well he’s a very, he’s become a very famous writer, and he wrote, I can’t remember the name of the book, but it’s a book about his own experience growing up, and he talks about Howard.  It’s a really powerful section of it where he talks about it.

ROLAND W: [01:05:47] Yeah, Howard was a unique experience.  I enjoyed my days at Howard.

PL: [01:05:52] Yeah, what did you major in?

ROLAND W: [01:05:54] Business.

PL: [01:05:55] And you?

RONALD W: [01:05:56] In business.

PL: [01:05:56] Also business, okay.

ROLAND W: [01:05:59] So, [01:06:00] I always liked business, and I found out, I went there to be an accounting major, an accounting major, and I remember one night being up ‘til about two, three o’clock in the morning working on this problem, and I brought it in class, I just knew everything was right.  And the teacher looked at it and said -- oh she gave me a lower grade, I think she gave me a B, and I said, this deserves an A.  She said, “Well you got one wrong,” I said, “What’s that?”  She said, “Well that’s supposed to be a debit, and this is supposed to be a credit.  You have,” I said, “How often can that happen?”  She said, “Quite often.”  I said, and I remember her name, Mrs. Green, I said, “Mrs. Green, excuse me for a minute.”  I went down the hall and went into the business department and I changed my major that day to marketing.  (laughs)

RONALD W: [01:06:59] You have to, [01:07:00] an accounting major, you have to, your final exam was a balance sheet.  And you have to have your debits and the credit in the right place.  You can make the balance sheet balanced, but if the credits and debits are not in the right place, you know, you didn’t pass.  So, I think I had to take a retest, take my exam, the final on a Saturday.  And I stayed up all night Friday night while they were out partying, doing this trial balance sheet.  So, I did it, got time Saturday morning to go take the final exam, and the professor gave me the final exam, I looked down at the balance sheet, I said oh, that’s the one I just finished working.  (laughs) So, needless to say, I passed the exam.  And we had a friend of [01:08:00] ours that was also from Charlottesville, we all went to Howard, and they would say, “I don’t understand how you have to take this exam over again.  You know more accounting than the two of us put together.”  I said, “Yeah, probably so, but I gotta do it.”  I just couldn’t get that balance sheet to balance out right.  But I did it for the final exam, that’s all that counts.  And I changed my major too.  (laughs) To marketing.

ROLAND W: [01:08:24] I think what happened, we had an instructor, and he taught at UVA at one point.  I can’t remember his name, was it Dr. Johnson maybe?

RONALD W: [01:08:35] No.

ROLAND W: [01:08:36] No, it wasn’t that.  But anyway, I liked him -- Douglas, Dr. Douglas.  We had a thing going cause, you could take Doug for one hour three days a week, or you could take him for an hour-and-a-half two days a week, and we never would resolve, is it worse to take him for an hour three days a week, or an hour-and-a-half two days a week, we never could figure [01:09:00] that out.  He lit you on fire all the time.  And when marketing the concept, he said, “If you can justify your concept, you’re not wrong.”  Ah, I like that, okay, and you just prove your point.  And he would always say, “Mr. Woodfolk, what am I thinking about?”  The world I know what you’re thinking, you got a PhD in marketing, I’m supposed to know what you’re thinking about?  But he was inspiring, and we liked him, so I went into marketing, and how I got in finance, I’ll never know from that.  But from marketing you got, at 13 different other fields you could go into, so it was more open.  It’s not closed like accounting, so.

PL: [01:09:44] And did you also build your career in business?

RONALD W: [01:09:48] Ah yes, I wanted to go more like in advertising or marketing aspect of it.  I didn’t like sales, and what did I wind up doing for 38 years? [01:10:00] Sales.  (laughs)

PL: [01:10:01] Sales, what kind of sales?

RONALD W: [01:10:04] I worked for a major oil company.  I started off with Texaco Oil Company back in 1971.  And I wound up retiring from Shell Oil Company in 2008, ’09, somewhere around there.  So I was, and I did all my assignments in this area.  And I was here for 38 years, which is unusual.  And I just told him, I said look, I had two small kids at the time, and married, I said, “Look, I’m not moving just for a lateral promotion.  I can do that here.”  I said, “I’m not taking my kids out of school,” cause I had a supervisor at the time, I used to get a different supervisor every two years.  And I said, [01:11:00] “Gee, can’t you guys stay?  I’m starting to get tired of trying to train you guys every two years I gotta train you,” so you know, so I stayed here, so, it was a good fit.  The only thing about it, when the attorneys started questioning about stuff that happened way back when, they looked and said, “Well who’s been here the longest?”  And they started looking for you, and say, that’s it.  Don’t ask me no questions, cause I don’t know a thing.  I keep to myself and I stay out the office, stay out the field, so, anyway.  So, it was a good career.  I retired as a supervisor in marketing.

PL: [01:11:41] Wow, that’s great.  Does the name Vincent Kinney mean anything to you?

RONALD W: [01:11:47] Mm-hmm.

PL: [01:11:47] Cause we did interview him, and I think he was really in more or less the same field as you, right, in oil?

RONALD W: [01:11:57] I don’t know what Vincent did.  [01:12:00]

PL: [01:12:01] I think he’s younger, is he not younger?

ROLAND W: [01:12:04] I believe he might be.

PL: [01:12:05] Oh, he’s older?

ROLAND W: [01:12:07] Might be older.

RONALD W: [01:12:07] Older, he’s older by a year or two.

PL: [01:12:10] And he didn’t go, he went to Albemarle High School, so yeah.  Anyway, do you have any things that you’d like to talk about that maybe I haven’t asked?

RONALD W: [01:12:22] Well, you didn’t touch upon the track team, but that was --

PL: [01:12:25] Oh I’m sorry, we should talk about the track team, of course we should.

RONALD W: [01:12:29] You know, it was nice.  Our first track meet was over at E.C. Glass in Lynchburg, and at that time, E.C. Glass had not lost a dual meet in five years.  So, it was a very competitive meet, and it came down to the last race, the last event, it was the 220 straightaways, and the coach said we needed two places to win the meet.  So we had about two false starts in the dash.  [01:13:00] He was one of them, and I was so far ahead and had to come back.  But anyway, we won.  Brock Strickler and I was running down the lanes, and you know, you hear, Coach said, “When you’re running, you will hear footsteps.”  And you do, but the key is not to turn your head and see who’s coming for you, so, cause you lose speed.  So I didn’t follow that.  So I looked over and I saw Brock, it was Brock, so I kind of let up a little bit, not knowing I let up a little bit, but I did, I said, oh, that’s him.  So Brock and I finished one and two.  And everybody started cheering, and jeering, and everything.  I looked at Brock, Brock looked at me said, “What the hell’s going on?”  He came in third, so we swept the 220, and the guys took us after E.C. Glass passed, took us to their gymnasium [01:14:00] after the meet, and they had a trophy wall of track trophies.  It was humongous.  And they said, “You guys come back any time, but just leave the black players at home.” (laughs) So, that was good.  And Brock was the fastest guy on the team.

ROLAND W: [01:14:19] Yup, he was.

RONALD W: [01:14:20] But I beat him in the 100-yard dash the first meet.  And I said, “Brock,” I said, “I beat you one track meet.”  He said, “Yeah, I’ll send you something in the mail,” And I didn’t realize it was the first track meet I beat him.  And I can remember the next day we got back to school, everybody’s whispering, “Woody beat Brock, Woody beat Brock.” (laughs) But yeah, that was the first and only time I beat him, but you know.  That was good.

PL: [01:14:46] So I don’t know about Brock Strickler, that’s not a name I’ve heard before.

ROLAND W: [01:14:49] He was working for city government at one point.  He’s still in Charlottesville, so.

PL: [01:14:56] He’s a Black guy?  No, he’s a White guy.

RONALD W: [01:14:57] Mm-mm, no he’s not, he’s a White guy.  [01:15:00]

ROLAND W: [01:15:00] Track, I didn’t mind running track, but I liked baseball better.  But when Coach gave us that, I took it as an ultimatum, he had such a way of putting things, Coach Theodose had such a way of putting things.  He doesn’t make you feel threatened, but he makes you think about it, and I did want to play football next year, and I said, well, if I guess I want to play football, I guess I better run fast.”  But I had a good year that year.  It was my senior year, I think.

RONALD W: [01:15:26] Yeah, I was injured my senior year.

ROLAND W: [01:15:29] I won the district in the hundred, and like he said, I heard footsteps behind me on the 220 going round the curve, and I was out front, and I peeked over my right shoulder, and lost focus.  This guy from Douglas Freeman beat me.  And I knew he wasn’t faster than me because I had beat him the week before.  And, but that did qualify me to go to state, so I got to go down with Williamsburg for the weekend, and I came in fifth [01:16:00] in the 220.  But some of the people that went down from Charlottesville they said they had five watches on me said I came in fourth, so.  But the two guys that won were from some school down in Eastern Shore, they both were like 6’2”, 200 and some odd pounds, I said, some big guys.  But it was a good year.  My junior year I got, I was injured, I still ran, but my senior year I felt good.  I didn’t pull a muscle or anything, so I felt good running.  So, that was --

PL: [01:16:37] Did either of you continue with sports in college?

RONALD W: [01:16:40] No.

ROLAND W: [01:16:40] No, I just wanted --

PL: [01:16:42] Too much work?  Too much schoolwork?

RONALD W: [01:16:45] I was having a little bit too much fun, and I mean, when you go to Howard, you know, there was nine-to-one ratio.  (laughs) So.

ROLAND W: [01:16:55] That’s female-to-male.

RONALD W: [01:16:56] Female-to-male, he got it.  (laughs)

PL: [01:16:59] I know [01:17:00] he did, I know he did, I was just trying to think, what does that mean?

ROLAND W: [01:17:03] And I think it may be more than that now, I’m not sure.  But actually we was in school, the      Avalon      sisters were there when we were there.  Donnie Hathaway, Roberta Flack.

RONALD W: [01:17:19] I don’t know, there was a group called      Unifics, you probably know, remember.  They were formed on Howard’s campus, and (inaudible), we were friends.

ROLAND W: [01:17:33] Al Johnson.

RONALD W: [01:17:33] Al Johnson, knew him well.

ROLAND W: [01:17:37] So, we had a lot of, and some folks, I didn’t even know they were on campus, you know?  It was just --

RONALD W: [01:17:45] But you spend your first two years on campus, and once you move off campus, you start to lose that connectivity.

ROLAND W: [01:17:54] With the campus and their people and so forth.

RONALD W: [01:17:56] Unless there’s a party.  That gets around real quick.  [01:18:00] “So-and-so’s having a party,” and then your house is jam-packed.

PL: [01:18:08] I forgot to ask, do you have any other siblings?  Is it just --

RONALD W: [01:18:12] Have an older brother.

ROLAND W: [01:18:13] We have an older brother.

PL: [01:18:15] Was he an athlete, or not?

ROLAND W: [01:18:17] Yes he was, he played baseball.

RONALD W: [01:18:19] Baseball for Burley.

ROLAND W: [01:18:22] He played center field.

RONALD W: [01:18:24] We know who he is.

ROLAND W: [01:18:26] Yeah, he lives right down --

RONALD W: [01:18:28] Right down the road from your daddy.

ROLAND W: [01:18:31] His name was Odell Gardner.

RONALD W: [01:18:35] Odell Gardner, Gardner.

PL: [01:18:37] Different, I’m just trying to think about the different last name.

RONALD W: [01:18:39] We had the same father.

PL: [01:18:41] Oh, I see.

LORENZO DICKERSON: [01:18:42] I see Odell frequently.  (laughs)

ROLAND W: [01:18:45] We went to see my grandson play a couple years ago down in Richmond when he was with a traveling baseball team, and he’s playing center field, and he made some diving catches, he went back, he hit the wall, [01:19:00] I think he broke even with the wall, the wall didn’t knock him down or anything like that, and I said, I call my grandson “Z,” I said, “Z remind you of anybody?”  He looked at me, he’s like, “Yeah, kind of reminds me of me when I was back in the day,” I said, “Yeah, I know.” But yeah.

PL: [01:19:18] That’s nice.  Well Lorenzo, what do you want to add to this?

LD: [01:19:23] Yeah, I have a couple.  I’m curious, cause you guys grew up watching those, the older guys that played sports at Burley.  I was curious, do you, cause you would have been children at the time, do you remember that undefeated team in ’56?

RONALD W: [01:19:37] That was a little bit before my time, ’56, see I was only like six years old.  No, I don’t remember that.

ROLAND W: [01:19:44] I remember something, some of the legends there, you know, Robert [Brackbridge?],      Knutsen     , who else?  The      Doom Brothers     .

ROLAND W: [01:19:58] Jackson, I think his name [01:20:00] was Harold, we called him      Skibooboo     .  (laughs) Yeah.  Yeah, that was before our time, I mean, that we knew.  Actually, I don’t think we started going to Burley games until like --

RONALD W: [01:20:14] ’Til we were in Burley, in eighth grade.

ROLAND W: [01:20:17] In eighth grade, yeah.

RONALD W: [01:20:18] So it was probably ’60, we went to Burley in ’60.  1960, not 18.  (laughs)

PL: [01:20:27] So you just went, started going to Burley games after you were at Burley?  You wouldn’t have gone before?

ROLAND W: [01:20:33] Yeah, well we weren’t old enough to be out at night.  (laughs) Although we could hear, from our house, we could see the lights in Burley, we could hear the band play.  But you know, mom and dad weren’t going to let us out too much.

RONALD W: [01:20:48] And we were in the band the first two years at Burley.  Marching band, and also, we were in the marching band at Jefferson Elementary School as well, so.  [01:21:00] Had a variety of --

PL: [01:21:01] So if you were in the marching band at Burley, that brought you to the games, I guess, right?

ROLAND W: [01:21:05] Yes, yes.

PL: [01:21:06] Okay, that makes sense.

LD: [01:21:10] And, just going back a little bit, what do you remember of your grandparents?  What stands out for you?

ROLAND W: [01:21:20] Well my grandfather on my mom’s side, Van Brooks, I mean I don’t know what I could say about him, he just was the best.  You could sit down and talk to him about anything.  You know, he was very, he wasn’t real educated, but he was intelligent.  He read a lot.  You could sit down and verse with him on any subject.

RONALD W: [01:21:53] Yeah, I think he used to take the dictionary and learn one word a day, and so forth.

ROLAND W: [01:21:59] And he would always quiz [01:22:00] you.  He called us “Sonny Boys,” he said, “Sonny boy,” he says oh, he mentioned a word, “You know what that means?”  Sometimes I know, sometimes not.  And he would make you say, “Well spell it.”  So you know, 

RONALD W: [01:22:13] And look it up.

ROLAND W: [01:22:14] Yeah, look it up.  So, and sometimes I learned, if you don’t know the meaning of a word, sometimes you can figure it out by the way it’s used in the sentence.  And so, you know.  And I used to like to come home.  I would come home, I would always make it a point to see my grandfather.  And I’d call him sometimes, I don’t have time to see him, he said, “Oh, I thought you had left.”  I said, “Had I been by to see you?”  “No.”  He had a very deep voice.  I said, “Had I called you?” “No.”  I said, “Well, I haven’t left yet.”  And he was sitting in his little chair, and I was sitting in the rocker, we’d be rocking and talking, rocking and talking.  And we just talked about life.  Like we learned a lot from him.

RONALD W: [01:22:59] And he did [01:23:00] a lot of traveling, cause he was a driver, and also he worked out at, he was a bartender out at Farmington Country Club.

ROLAND W: [01:23:08] He was also on the railroad.

RONALD W: [01:23:09] Also working on the railroad, so he had a lot of life experiences.  And I used to go home, I mean I see my mom and dad, but really I just wanted to see my grandfather.  So I’d go to him and I said, “Gramps,” I say, “Let’s go out and get a meal,” either Saturday or Sunday we go have a meal.  And Gramps never liked for you to pay.  He said, “Sonny boy, I got this.”  And one day we went out to Bob Johnson’s restaurant out on Johnson’s cafeteria, Ken Johnson’s.  And I said, “Grandpa,” I said, “Sonny boy got this today.”  He said, “Oh, no, no, no.”  I said, “Grandpa,” I said, “I think I can spare enough money to buy you a meal for a change.”  He didn’t like it, but [01:24:00] he accepted it.  I thought that was so funny.  (laughs) So, but yeah.  And I love my grandfather’s, I remember he had his friend Carla one day, and I answered the phone, and sometimes my voice is deep on the phone.  She said, “Van?”  I said, “No, this is his grandson.”  “Oh, can I speak to Van?”  I said “Hold on a second.”  I said, “Grandpa, telephone.”  He looked at me like, who is it?  So he comes to the phone, “Hello?  Oh I can’t talk to you now, my sonny boys are here.  Talk to you later, bye.”  I thought that was so funny.  (laughs)

ROLAND W: [01:24:40] Yeah, it was.

RONALD W: [01:24:42] I said, “Grandpa, that was kind of rude.”  “She ain’t worth nothin’.” (laughs) So yeah.  Did we answer enough of --

PL: [01:24:51] You sure did.

ROLAND W: [01:24:53] Okay, because I’m getting back to Lorenzo, about my grandparents.  We were close to my mom’s dad, [01:25:00] and my dad’s mom, because my grandma Alice lived in New York, and that was way before we were born.  So, but we, we’ll see her when she came down to see Aunt Annie and her sister and everybody, and I really wasn’t close to my dad’s dad.  But my grandmother, she was a sweetheart.  She sewed the letters on our letter sweaters.  Ron and I would -- statute of limitation over now, but it’s been 60 years now, Ron and I would actually skip school, walk out of school.  You know, Lane, you got the rail tracks, you go down by the gym, walk over that hill, once you get over that hill, you can’t be seen.  So we’ll go down, and my grandma had this swing on the porch.  And 8th, on the corner of 8th and Anderson when the trees are bare, you could look all the way down 8th Street [01:26:00] to      Johnson Funeral Home     .  My grandmother knew everything going on on the block, and we would sit and swing, put it in the middle, and talk.  She said, “Aren’t y’all supposed to be in school?”  We said, “Yeah grandma, we were sitting there in study hall, wasn’t nothing happen, so we got to thinking about you, so we thought we’d come down and see what you were doing.”  She said, “You know that’s not right.”  I said, “Yeah grandma, you’re right, but anyway, we’re here.”  We could tell my grandmother anything.  She would not tell our parents.  Whatever we told grandma, she kept it.

RONALD W: [01:26:36] And you didn’t hit any of her grandkids in front of her.  You will not get a spanking, as long as, in her sight.  Don’t you hit that child.  And so forth.  But I did that too, cause I skipped school one day, I came and talked to her.  And I wanted to sew a letter on my sweater.  And she sewed it on.  [01:27:00] And, I said “Grandma,” I said, I had wrote out this excuse to get back in school.  I said, “Grandma, you need to sign it.”  She said, “Boy, if I sign it, I’m gonna get in trouble.”  I said, “Grandma, if you don’t sign this, I’m gonna be in trouble.” (laughs) So she signed it.  That was so fun, I had a great time.  And that’s the only time I got to leave home, I said, “Dad, I’m gonna see Grandma.”  I check in with her, I get there, I check in with Grandma, then I go where I got to go.  I said “Grandma, you know where I’m gonna be,” “Mm-hmm, go ahead boy.” (laughs) Yeah.

ROLAND W: [01:27:39] Those were the good times growing up, and kind of help us stay grounded and cope.  Cause you had that, really that support, you know.  And like, anytime I couldn’t talk to my parents, although they said that we could talk to them about anything, [01:28:00] we really could talk to my grandmother about anything.  And no, she’ll tell us when we’re wrong, she will do that.

RONALD W: [01:28:11] Yeah, cause I, we started drinking at the age of, I think I had my first alcoholic beverages at 15, or something like that.  And I asked my grandmother later, I said, “Grandma,” I said, “You knew we drink.”  My father didn’t know we drank until he showed up at one of the Howard, come home for spring break at Howard, that’s when daddy knew that we drink alcohol.  I said “How come you never told dad that we were drinking?”  She said, “First of all,” see there was a method to the old folks’ madness.  He’d sit there and let you think in the house where you’re supposed to drink to find out how you’re gonna act.  Now you act like a fool, they’re gonna tell your parents, but you act like you got some sense, everything is cool.  So that’s how that went.  So, yeah.  [01:29:00] Then I had to, we did live, my great-grandmother, my great-grandmother, she lived long enough for us to know her, so yeah, so.  But she was, I think she was part Cherokee Indian, and I can remember Big Momma used to sit on the couch on the sofa in the hallway and smoke that old corn cob pipe.

ROLAND W: [01:29:30] She’s smoking stogie too.

RONALD W: [01:29:31] Yeah, so you know.  And I just wish that we never had an opportunity to have more of a conversation with her than what we did, so.

LD: [01:29:44] And you guys said that you worked in the summer, when you were going to summer school.  Where did you guys work?

RONALD W: [01:29:50] University of Virginia Hospital, yeah.

ROLAND W: [01:29:53] In housekeeping.

RONALD W: [01:29:54] Housekeeping, that was, we had fun there.

ROLAND W: [01:29:57] That was a fun place to work.

PL: [01:29:58] It was? [01:30:00]

RONALD W: [01:30:01] Well if you’re a teenager, yeah, you can make anything fun.  (laughs)

ROLAND W: [01:30:05] If you gotta do it, you might as well enjoy it.  But.

RONALD W: [01:30:09] Some of the escapades we get into, oh man.

ROLAND W: [01:30:13] I was talking to our brother, Rodney last week, and I said, he said, well I’m gonna come up, and we’re gonna spend a weekend together, and we’re gonna reminisce about old times.  I said, “That would be nice.”  I says, “Yeah man, we had some good old times.”  I said, “Yeah,” I said, “You know what, the things that we did, you could write a book about.”

RONALD W: [01:30:35] Also be in jail for too.

ROLAND W: [01:30:37] That too.  (laughs)

PL: [01:30:38] Would you like to tell us about those? (laughs)

RONALD W: [01:30:40] I don’t think so.

ROLAND W: [01:30:41] I don’t think so.

RONALD W: [01:30:42] I don’t think so.  (laughs)

ROLAND W: [01:30:43] That’s another conversation.

RONALD W: [01:30:44] That’s off-camera.  (laughs)

PL: [01:30:47] Absolutely.

ROLAND W: [01:30:49] I said, well his sisters, baby sister, used to write, keep a diary on us.  And I said, I think it was my junior year or whatever year, we came home.  [01:31:00] It was the last summer we came home for summer break.  I said, “Baby sister,” I said, “I want to read your diary.  I only want to read about the part you wrote about us.”  She couldn’t find it, she misplaced it.  I said, man.

RONALD W: [01:31:15] She didn’t misplace it.  She wouldn’t have let us read it anyway.

ROLAND W: [01:31:19] Yeah, she used to keep tabs on us though.  So, but anyway.  I hope I answered your questions.

PL: [01:31:28] It’s been wonderful, it’s really been wonderful, thank you.

LD: [01:31:30] One last one, I was just curious.

ROLAND W: [01:31:33] That might cost you.  (laughs)

LD: [01:31:38] That first day of school.

ROLAND W: [01:31:40] Which one?

LD: [01:31:40] The first day of school at Venable desegregating, what do you remember of that day?  Does anything stand out for you, as far as what you saw, what it sounded like?

RONALD W: [01:31:53] Not really.

ROLAND W: [01:31:53] No, I think it was uneventful for me, I can say.  You know, I remember going up the steps.  Of course you see [01:32:00] pictures of it now, but I remember going up the steps, being assigned to my class, meeting the teacher.  That’s it, going home.

RONALD W: [01:32:12] I don’t remember anything eventful.  You know, nobody said anything.

ROLAND W: [01:32:17] Nothing.

RONALD W: [01:32:18] Nothing like that.  I mean you got a lot of stares and stuff like that, but you know, that’s --

ROLAND W: [01:32:24] I think the students were orientated before we got there, like what was expected of them and what was not.  I can’t swear to that, but it just appeared that they did, because we had no confrontation, everybody was cordial.  So you know, seventh grade was a good experience for me.

RONALD W: [01:32:50] Then when we got to high school, it was a little bit different.  And you know, racism, it’s taught, you know.  [01:33:00] And kids at a higher grade level understood more than elementary, younger kids, you know.  I had, I went to one of the Lane reunions, and this young lady, I can’t remember her name now, but she came up to me and she said, she was really ignorant to the point where, people just want to -- I didn’t say “you people,” but she would say, “You just want the same thing we want.”  And I said “Yeah, it’s not different.”  And you said, “Well, we was only doing what we were told,” you know, from the parents and so forth.  And I had one guy I played football with, I won’t call his name, but I knew he was kind of racist.  But he came up to me and said, “Well, you just wanted everything, just what we wanted, an opportunity to play,” and so forth.  And I said “Yeah,” and I resigned to the fact, well that’s the closest to an apology [01:34:00] I’m gonna get, so I accepted it as it was.  But you know.  I also learned from another guy that, he was a White guy, he lived up the street from us, he just told me one day straight out, he said, “You guys just, were just tolerated.”  I said, okay.

ROLAND W: [01:34:17] We knew that.

RONALD W: [01:34:18] I knew that.  But then again, you know, I didn’t go to, when they had their Lane reunion, I don’t go back, cause I don’t feel --

ROLAND W: [01:34:27] It’s not that we don’t feel welcome.  It’s just that we don’t have --

RONALD W: [01:34:30] Don’t have anything in common.

ROLAND W: [01:34:32] Other than the sports, I mean, we didn’t party, we didn’t -- I didn’t even go to the junior/senior prom at Lane.  I went to the one in Burley.

RONALD W: [01:34:39] They had school dances on Friday night.  We didn’t participate in any of that.  You know,      Pete Carey      and that group would play for them.  I didn’t know that until, what the 50th anniversary of the integration of the football team, the state championship.  We went over to the school, then it was Charlottesville High, we [01:35:00] went over to the school then and found out that yeah, Pete was there.  So I didn’t even know what kind of music they liked.  You know, it didn’t really matter to me, so.

LD: So Pete Carey played the dances at Lane?  Really.

RONALD W: [01:35:13] Yeah, yeah.

ROLAND W: [01:35:15] He still played with ‘em now and then, I guess.

RONALD W: [01:35:19] Pete’s been around for a while.  (laughs) Yeah, I tell you, if I see him, I go by and say hello to him, you know, and so forth.  I know I can put my hands on him, but anyway, you know, I know his hangouts, but yeah.

PL: [01:35:38] If you have patience for one more question.

RONALD W: [01:35:41] Oh I got all the patience in the world, I’m retired.

ROLAND W: [01:35:43] Me too.

RONALD W: [01:35:45] And I blocked this whole day for you.

ROLAND W: [01:35:46] Yeah, we did.

PL: [01:35:46] Well thank you very much.

RONALD W: [01:35:48] My gym partner didn’t probably appreciate it, but he’ll get over it.  (laughs) Don’t make me suffer on Friday.  (laughs)

PL: [01:35:56] I think both of you at different times have said, [01:36:00] you think that race relations is worse today than it was when you were growing up, and I wondered if you would just care to talk about that.

ROLAND W: [01:36:08] I think it’s more overt now.  People have -- people, they express themselves and let you know how it is.  Back in our day, it was more inert.  You knew it, but they didn’t --

RONALD W: [01:36:30] They thought it, but they didn’t say it.

ROLAND W: [01:36:31] They didn’t say it, they didn’t act out.  Now people act out.

RONALD W: [01:36:34] For no reason at all.

ROLAND W: [01:36:35] For no reason at all, you know.

RONALD W: [01:36:37] People don’t mind getting out of their lane, getting into your face and tell you about things that really, it’s none of their concern.  You know, and I know why, because now somebody that was in the Oval Office made it okay, you know, it’s okay to do that.  And it set the world back, at least this country back, quite a few [01:37:00] times.  But we ain’t going back.  Things that were tolerated back in my day, is not gonna be tolerated today.  It’s a new generation of people and youth that’s not gonna take that.  Not that we took it, because -- I remember my mom used to say, people knew how to act.  You’re not gonna jump up in my face for some foolishness.  If you do, back in my day, if you did, you won’t be there long.  So, but now, people just, you know.  And, before your time, back when we were growing up, we hardly -- you hardly heard of anybody being shot.  Might be a couple stabbings, some fights and stuff like that, but that was it.  And when that was over, everybody went their way, and that was it.  But now --

RONALD W: [01:37:56] A fistfight on Friday and be friends by Monday.

ROLAND W: [01:37:59] That’s right.

RONALD W: [01:38:00] It’s over with.

PL: [01:38:00] And did you not worry about the police as people do today?

ROLAND W: [01:38:04] No.

RONALD W: [01:38:04] Only when we were doing stuff that we shouldn’t have been doing, but we won’t go into that, but not really.  (laughs)

ROLAND W: [01:38:11] I had relatives on the police force.  I remember one night I was --

RONALD W: [01:38:15] Like I said, the nurturing part, you had the community.  And there’s a lot of people out there that’d be watching you, and you don’t know that they were watching you.  You know you’re not supposed to do that.  And you look around, where did that come from, you know?

ROLAND W: [01:38:29] And most of the time if you did something bad, by the time you got home, your parents knew about it.  That wasn’t pleasant.

RONALD W: [01:38:36] Anything you want to tell me, son?

ROLAND W: [01:38:40] No, not really.

RONALD W: [01:38:41] I just say, is there anything that I should tell you, daddy? (laughs) It’s just a different time.

ROLAND W: [01:38:50] It was just a different --

RONALD W: [01:38:54] I have more concern for my kids, although they’re older and so forth.  And [01:39:00] my son -- well both my kids speak their mind, they don’t hold their tongue.  I mean they’re wonderful kids, and I tell the wife all the time, at least we did something right, you know, if we didn’t do anything else, but you know, they got good jobs and so forth.  But I know they don’t take no foolishness, you know.

PL: [01:39:23] And you worry about the consequences of that?

RONALD W: [01:39:25] I worry about my daughter more than anything else.  My son’s more of a, laid back, he’s like me, he’s laid back.  My son -- my daughter who’s all five foot, would be in your face quicker than you can blink.  (laughs) That’s just the type of person she is, she’ll go off, she’ll go from 0 to 60 in the blink of an eye.  The Fast and the Furious has nothing on her.  (laughs)

PL: [01:39:48] And I’ll bet your grandkids too because --

RONALD W: [01:39:50] I don’t have any grandkids.

ROLAND W: [01:39:51] No I have the grandkids, I have the grandkids.  I worry about them, of course.  My grandson is down at college in Virginia Beach, [01:40:00] and he has his own car.  I think about him getting stopped, you know.  My granddaughter’s working this summer to get her a car.  She’s in North Carolina, so I’m concerned about them too.  You know, just something to think about.  I even worry about my daughter.  She lives next door to me, and she goes out, tell her be careful, and you know.  So, but yeah, it’s just a different time.  I can remember the time that we didn’t have to lock our door.  We didn’t lock our doors.  Ain’t not worried about nobody coming in your house.  But now.  Did that address --

PL: [01:40:43] Yes, yes, no, I mean I understand, I think we’re living in a pretty violent world.

ROLAND W: [01:40:50] Yes, we are.  And scary.  That’s why I said, I do what I gotta do and go home.  I try not to be out too late at night, or when it starts getting [01:41:00] dark, cause I don’t see as well at night as I used to, I try to be home.  So.

PL: [01:41:08] So it’s the reality we live with, and I think there are a lot of issues that our country has never solved, you know, a lot of issues, you know, that --

RONALD W: [01:41:18] And I think they can solve it if they have the desire to do so, but they don’t have the desire, it’s all about greed.

PL: [01:41:24] But the country becoming more divisive.

ROLAND W: [01:41:25] Greed and power.

RONALD W: [01:41:26] Green and power, so, you know.

PL: [01:41:33] We’re becoming more divisive rather than less divisive, I think, you know.

RONALD W: [01:41:36] Right, that’s true.

ROLAND W: [01:41:37] And that’s true, it’s really sad, as --

PL: [01:41:39] It is.