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Tom Stargell

Scottsville School
Interviewed on June 27, 2022, at the Scottsville Methodist Church, by George Gilliam.

Full Transcript

GEORGE GILLIAM: [00:00:00] This is June 27th, 2022.  I am sitting in a conference room at the Scottsville Methodist Church in Scottsville, Virginia with Thomas Stargell, Lorenzo Dickerson, Norman Woolworth, Annie Valentine, and we’re here to do an interview of Tom Stargell.  Tom, would you give me your full name and your date of birth?

THOMAS STARGELL: [00:00:34] Thomas Andrews Stargell, March 27th, 1949.

GG: [00:00:44] And what were the names of your parents?

TS: [00:00:46] I’m sorry?

GG: [00:00:47] Names of your parents?

TS: [00:00:49] My father was Robert Henry Stargell.  My mother was Virginia Washington Anderson Stargell.

GG: [00:01:00] Virginia Anderson --

TS: [00:01:02] Virginia Anderson Stargell.

GG: [00:01:14] And did you have siblings?

TS: [00:01:15] No.  I was an only child.

GG: [00:01:17] Okay.  What did your parents do for a living?

TS: [00:01:21] My father worked at Schuyler, the soapstone company until that shut down, and my mother was a teacher.  She taught in Nelson County.  She taught in Albemarle County, and then when I came along, she stopped teaching and was a housewife.

GG: [00:01:53] Was your father educated?

TS: [00:01:56] Yes.  Well, no.  He went to [00:02:00] Alberene High School and he did not graduate.  The war came along and he was in the war.

GG: [00:02:14] Where in the Scottsville area did they live in the 1950s and 1960s?

TS: [00:02:25] A year or two before I was born, they moved from Esmont -- they lived on an Esmont farm -- and they built a house on land that they were given by my mother’s father.  So they came from Esmont down to the river at Warren, and that’s where we lived the entire time I grew up.  I live within a quarter of a mile of it now.

GG: [00:03:00] Was the area in which you lived, did it have a neighborhood name?

TS: [00:03:08] Warren.

GG: [00:03:09] Warn?

TS: [00:03:10] Warren.  When you go from Scottsville, you go up river.  You go to Hatton, then Warren, and then Howardsville, so it’s become very popular with tubers and kayakers and canoeists and all that sort of thing.

GG: [00:03:28] So was there a good community spirit there?  What set Warren apart?

TS: [00:03:34] Warren Village.  Just typical things.  First of all, they had a woodyard there.  They had a post office there, and surrounding it, they had a couple of big farms around there, and then people with modest houses.  It wasn’t close.  Everybody had [00:04:00] probably 10 or 12 acres, something like that.  But it was a community, yeah.

GG: [00:04:12] And were there any annual celebrations that your community hosted?

TS: [00:04:25] We were a subsidiary of Scottsville, so even back in my mother’s day and my grandmother’s day, their festivities and celebrations and all revolved around whatever was happening in Scottsville.

GG: [00:04:44] So what schools did you attend?  And what dates were you in each school?

TS: [00:04:52] I attended one school.  I attended Scottsville, and I went there in elementary school in 1956, [00:05:00] I believe, and I suspect they were real happy to get rid of me in 1967 (laughs) when I left there.

GG: [00:05:12] And where did you go after 1967?

TS: [00:05:16] I went to college.  I went to Old Dominion University -- College then, but became University while I was there.

GG: [00:05:27] So that would’ve been the spring of 1968?

TS: [00:05:30] Yes.  Well, fall.

GG: [00:05:36] Fall of ’68?

TS: [00:05:37] Yeah.

GG: [00:05:38] Yeah.  So you entered your senior year in ’67?

TS: [00:05:44] I guess -- ’66, right?  Yes, it was ’66.  And then I graduated in June of ’67.

GG: [00:05:52] Oh, okay.

TS: [00:05:54] June 10th, 1967.  I entered Old Dominion that fall.

GG: [00:06:00] In ’68.  No --

ALL: [00:06:04] Sixty-seven.

GG: [00:06:06] Right, okay.  And did you have any education after Old Dominion?

TS: [00:06:15] Yes.  I did not get a master’s at Virginia, but I spent enormous (laughs) amounts of time at the University of Virginia.

GG: [00:06:27] In the education program there?

TS: [00:06:29] Yes.  And I was an adjunct professor at Virginia because I had student teachers, and I was the head of -- I represented Albemarle County in the -- I can’t remember what the fancy name was.  I represented [00:07:00] people who were working with the education school over there with the student teacher program, and I had 32 student teachers -- 30 from Virginia and 2 from Longwood -- and then after that, I supervised student teachers for the University of Virginia.

M1: [00:07:37] Your mic, your mic.  You’re fine.  You’re fine.

GG: [00:07:43] Okay.  (laughs) What athletic teams and other extracurricular activities were available to you during your long tenure at Scottsville School?

TS: [00:07:56] We had two.  [00:08:00] Well, we had junior varsity and varsity boys’ basketball and we had varsity baseball, and then girls had junior varsity and varsity basketball, and they were very much more successful than we were.

GG: [00:08:24] Which of the girls teams were successful?

TS: [00:08:30] Which ones?  Oh golly.  I mean, I started going and watching all of it -- boys and girls -- when I was in the eighth grade, and I don’t remember them losing -- girls -- more than maybe a couple of times a year, if that much.  They were very good.

GG: [00:09:00] Are any of the men or the women that played sports during those years, are any of them coming back to your alumni events?  Do you see them?  Do you know which ones are still with us?

TS: [00:09:20] Just about all of them that are still alive were there the other night.  I mean, yes, the loyalty’s there, and we have a real good turnout of those people that played sports -- girls and boys.

GG: [00:09:33] Great.

TS: [00:09:34] Yeah, and coaches.  (coughs) Excuse me.  We had -- well, Tony Laquintano was supposed to come last week, the week before last, but I don’t know.  Something happened with him.  But we had three men who coached basketball and baseball who were at the last [00:10:00] reunion -- Bill Stegman, Richard Fowler, and Mr. Laquintano was supposed to come, but I don’t know what happened on that.  But they’ve both been -- Laquintano had an illness with his wife five years ago, so that prevented him.  But we were supposed to have three five years ago also, so there’s a lot of loyalty.  Girls, five years ago, we had two girls coaches and one who was supposed to come but broke her arm two days before, so she couldn’t come.  So they all want to come back.

GG: [00:10:49] Would you be able to give us a list of names of those that are still around and might be interested in talking?

TS: [00:10:57] Sure.

GG: [00:10:59] That would be wonderful.

TS: [00:11:00] Sure.

GG: [00:11:04] You taught for a long time.

TS: [00:11:06] Yes, yes.

GG: [00:11:08] Where did you teach?  And how many years?

TS: [00:11:14] I started out in Portsmouth, Virginia, and I taught at Clark Vocational Training Center, and that was a high school for boys and girls that couldn’t make it behaviorally or academically in the regular Portsmouth city schools.  I taught there for three years, and I learned that if I could do that, I could do anything -- I could teach anywhere -- so it didn’t bother me a bit to come back up here when I got married.  I like to bird hunt.  I like to ride horses.  I like to do all that outdoorsy stuff, and this was an opportunity [00:12:00] to come back up here and work in Albemarle County and start up.  We were just married and come back up here, and I taught for 38 years at Walton School.  My wife and I were the first couple to be hired in the same school.  And now, I mean, it’s done a lot, but we were the test case.  We came back up here -- Otis Lee, who was a legend for many reasons in the area, was great to us, and he was a big proponent of loyalty.  And he said, “You grew up here.  You want to come back here.  I’m going to do everything I can to help you.”  And my wife was looking for a job too, and he hired me, and then he said, “Well, where’s she [00:13:00] going to teach?”  And I said, “Well, she doesn’t have a job yet.”  And he said, “Have her come in and interview.”  And she did, and he hired her on the spot too, and we opened Walton School.  We were in the first group that opened Walton School, and Janet and I were the last two people that opened Walton School to retire from there.  But it was different, going from high school to middle school.  I wasn’t crazy about that because I liked high school, and she was elementary school -- she started out in the sixth grade -- but it was economics.  It was 25 miles -- or closer to 30, probably -- from my house to Albemarle High School -- and it was 14 miles to Walton.  And plus, we would share a car, so [00:14:00] that made a whole a lot more money in your pocketbook.

GG: [00:14:10] So back to Scottsville.  When did Scottsville High School first open?  I know it was the oldest accredited school in the state, but when was that?

TS: [00:14:30] I should know this.  I think 1871 -- I think.  It’s in that article so (laughs) we could look it up, if you want to hit pause.

GG: [00:14:47] No, I was just --

TS: [00:14:49] There were actually three different high schools.  I can’t remember the dates.  The first one was right across the street and [00:15:00] then it went from there, literally right behind us up on the hill here, and then it moved to the building that it’s in now.

GG: [00:15:21] And I understand it was not the school that you were working at, but did you stay fairly closely involved with what was going on there during the years?

TS: [00:15:38] I don’t really understand what you’re asking.

GG: [00:15:40] Okay.  Are you aware of what was happening at Scottsville High School, even though it was not the place that you were teaching at that time?

TS: [00:15:52] Well, see, when I graduated, I graduated in June, and they had announced [00:16:00] a month before that that they were closing Scottsville High School as a high school, and the old high school was going to be now a junior high with grades six through nine.  So when I came back, I knew what was going on here.  I kept abreast of what was happening at the junior high, and I still saw people that had gone on to Albemarle that I was friends with when I was there, yeah.

GG: [00:16:39] So I’m really interested in what was going on at the high school in the three, four, five years before it closed.  Were they preparing at all for the inevitable --

TS: [00:17:00] Zero.

GG: [00:17:01] Zero.

TS: [00:17:03] Nothing.  Not a hint, nothing.  That was all the way up to -- well, I think that article is May 17th.  I mean, it closed down June 10th, and on the day before May 17th, nope, not a person in that school had any inkling whatsoever that it was going to close.

GG: [00:17:33] Wow.

TS: [00:17:34] None.  I mean, it could’ve been some sort of parent, but it would’ve been a select few.  I’m talking a handful on that, but not a soul that I went to school with.  It happened out of the blue.  It was a beautiful day in May [00:18:00] and we were in class, and we got called to the auditorium, and Dr. Moody, the school board representative, was there, and I give you my word, I don’t know of a soul that had any inkling whatsoever there was anything other than some sort of generic assembly.  And we walked in there and sat down, and he made the announcement.  “Scottsville will not be a high school next year.”

GG: [00:18:33] So had there been any public discussion?

TS: [00:18:41] That’s why I brought you this newspaper clipping.  I mean, it blew everybody away.  It went downtown.  Couldn’t tell anybody why it was being closed.  They said, “Well, it’s got to be because there weren’t enough classes being offered.” [00:19:00] Then they came back and said, “Well, no, it’s not that, but we don’t know what it is.”  And then they came back and said, “Well, okay, so now they’re saying that there were some teachers that were not certified to teach the subjects,” and the subject that they talk about is PE.  Well, talk about reaching out there for something.  PE?  I mean, I taught PE in Portsmouth, and I know it’s a hard course to do and all that, but that’s a stretch to say that, “Uncertified teachers are teaching PE, so we’re going to close a whole high school now.”  That’s a farfetched reason to do it.  And to my knowledge, they’ve never listed the names of teachers and the courses that they [00:20:00] weren’t certified for.  I’ve never seen it.  And you can go to the school board records.  You’ve been to the school board records.  I mean, when it is alluded to or mentioned or whatever, it’s just not really discussed.  It just happened, and I could be wrong on this because it’s been a long time since I looked at the school board records, but I don’t think I could find but one time it was addressed in a school board meeting and anyone had a chance to say anything.  And honestly, what was said was woefully, poorly done.  [00:21:00] I mean, there was no fight.  There was no real discussion of, “Tell us why this is happening.”  It was more than anything just an acceptance.  I mean, I have my theories and I firmly believe I have an idea of how it all and why it all happened, but everybody that’s involved is dead, and they can’t prove me wrong and I can’t prove me right.  So I don’t know, but it just stunk.  It didn’t make any sense at all, and you’re talking about Dr. Moody?  Dr. Moody was our school board representative, and when the vote came, Dr. Moody voted no on [00:22:00] the -- how was it?  I’m sorry.  When the vote came, Dr. Moody seconded the motion to close Scottsville High School.  Then when the vote came, Dr. Moody voted against closing Scottsville High School.  So politics-wise, I mean, he was crossing both bases on there.  He could say he voted to not have it any longer, but he could go back to Scottsville and say, “Oh, I voted against it.”

GG: [00:20:35] Do politicians ever do that?

TS: [00:22:37] Politicians?  No, no, not in Scottsville.  They never do that.  They never lie.  They never do things.  (laughs)

GG: [00:22:50] I guess the thing that I’m finding hard to fathom is during all the litigation that went on, repeated appearances [00:23:00] of the school board defending their inaction in federal court, and federal court decision after decision after decision that, “You’ve got to desegregate.  You’ve got to have it done.  We’re getting tired now of --”

TS: [00:23:19] All deliberate speed.

GG: [00:23:20] All deliberate speed, right.  And, I mean, what’s your read on why people weren’t figuring out that something radical is going to have to be done?

TS: [00:23:41] Well, my theory was that we were caught up in -- the big thing had nothing to do with Scottsville, in my opinion.  [00:24:00] My opinion were we were thrown in as a giving something back to Burley being closed, and my feeling is that nobody cared about Scottsville.  We were a total afterthought.  But it’s my feeling that the people at Burley weren’t real crazy about going to Albemarle High School and Lane High School.  I mean, they had a very proud heritage there.  They were doing great in academics.  They were doing great in sports.  They were happy, and they didn’t want to reach out into those unchartered waters, and they would’ve been very happy to be where they were.  That’s my take on it.  [00:25:00] On the same token, Albemarle and Charlottesville were under the gun with all deliberate speed.  My opinion is that all deliberate speed was wearing thin.  My opinion is that they had just about run as long on that as they possibly could and in some smoke-filled room somewhere, somebody said, “It ain’t going to happen anymore.  You’ve got to make this happen.”  Well, at some point, in my opinion, one of the things that somebody probably said -- I would’ve said it if I were them -- from Burley was, “How the hell are you going to close us and make us go and have all of our students go into a new environment -- go into a new area?”  There’s some trepidation [00:26:00] going in there.  And you’ve got this little lily white school down here in Scottsville.  We only had one Black girl that ever went -- one Black person.  It was a girl that went to Scottsville High School.  There was never another student except one.       Her name was Joyce Harris, and I saw her before our first reunion, and I invited her to come, and she had something planned and she didn’t come.  But, I mean, maybe something was mentioned by the folks at Burley.  Maybe something was mentioned.  “Well, we’re closing all the schools, except Albemarle and except Lane.”  I don’t know how it was played out, but it just doesn’t make sense, the timing, the haste, the lack of clarity.  All those things just don’t make [00:27:00] sense to me other than the fact that we were thrown in as another portion of “with all deliberate speed.”

GG: [00:27:11] What was the census of the high school age students who were being moved from Scottsville High School to Albemarle?  Was it around 100?

TS: [00:27:31] I would say that.  I think the number is something like that.

GG: [00:27:37] I’ve seen that someplace.  I don’t remember.

TS: [00:27:38] Yeah, I think I saw something like it was something like 110 at the high school, yeah.  So with our senior class gone, it’d be that, yeah.

GG: [00:27:49] So what were the immediate effects in that first year?  What changes [00:28:00] did families make for their children of high school age?  I’m aware that one or two high school age kids just dropped out.  They didn’t want to put up with the commute.

TS: [00:28:16] There was a whole lot more than one or two.  Of the kids that were going to be seniors that next year, I can think of four boys that just dropped out of school -- just quit rather than go to Albemarle.  Now, four, that’s not a big number, but when you consider the fact that you’re talking about maybe, what, 18 students were going to be seniors?  And let’s say half of them were boys, [00:29:00] so you’ve got nine, so now four becomes a pretty significant number.  Several of them dropped out to go in service or that sort of thing.  I mean, there’s a big difference between getting up in the morning and -- well, one of my very good friends lived right up at the top of this hill.  She got up every morning 10 minutes before school started and made it to homeroom with time to spare.  Now you’re talking about riding a bus for an hour and fifteen minutes to get to Albemarle High School, maybe longer than that.  I don’t know how many buses they put out here and all that.  So it was a huge, huge upheaval for them, and I just thank the good Lord [00:30:00] -- not every day, but a significant number of days -- that I didn’t have to do it because I don’t know whether I could have done that.  I’m not good with moving about and change, especially as a senior.  They were the ones that really caught it harder than anybody else.

GG: [00:30:21] Were there any off-ramps for kids who knew that Scottsville was closed but they did not want to go to Albemarle?  Could they have elected to go to Lane?

TS: [00:30:41] Well, Lane was a city school.  I don’t know.  I know back when Lane High School closed, the reciprocal happened.  We had a number of kids that were in Lane who paid tuition [00:31:00] and came to Albemarle -- as in Scottsville.  That was their choice to do that, but they had to pay tuition.  I believe they had to pay tuition.  I’m pretty sure they did.  And so rather than lay out or rather than go to one of those basement schools, they came here.  Obviously, I mean, our kids could’ve gone to Rockhill, but again, transportation there, and there was the move, then, and tuition and all that, although if memory serves me correct, pretty much the tuition was paid for.  There was something that paid for a large percentage of the tuition to go to Rockhill.  The money that your parents paid [00:32:00] going toward the regular school, I think could be paid there.  You would have more access to that.  It’s been a million years since I had to do that.  But I remember kids getting part of that tuition paid for.  And, I mean, we had kids that lived -- again, the reciprocal of closing, doing massive resistance.  We had kids that moved over to Charlottesville to live with relatives and all to go and be able to go to Albemarle High School.

GG: [00:32:46] The former Scottsville students, when they showed up to start going to classes at Albemarle, were told that they couldn’t participate in athletic events during their [00:33:00] first year there.  How many people were involved with that?

TS: [00:33:07] I don’t know that to be true.  I don’t know.  I mean, I’d never heard that before.  I had never heard that they were not allowed to participate.  I do know this: there was no visitation to Albemarle High School.  I mean, Lord, we were about to take exams and leave school, so there wasn’t any time for the to get on a bus and go over to Albemarle High School.  I mean, those kids went there on the first day like everybody else and were expected to know where to go and what to do and all that.  But no, I mean, you’re telling me something that I didn’t know -- that they weren’t allowed to participate in sports.  Quite frankly, the level of [00:34:00] athlete at Albemarle High School, except a couple of cases, would have been prohibitive, and the coaches at Albemarle High School had their people in place.  They had their program done.  So it’s probably true that they probably couldn’t have made -- I know I couldn’t have, and I played varsity baseball, varsity basketball.  There’s no way I could’ve played at Albemarle.  I wasn’t good enough, and I mean, I guess I can critique them because I played against them all the time.  They probably weren’t good enough athletes to make the team, but in my humble opinion, if they had wanted to, I mean, their daddies and mommas paid taxes like everybody else.  They should’ve been able to.  I didn’t know that they weren’t allowed.

GG: [00:34:55] I’m just speculating.  I mean, I knew that that was the case.  [00:35:00] I know that that happened.  In terms of how did it happen?  Who made the decision?  I suspect it was with Lane because we know that when several Black students transferred into Lane before 1967, thinking they would get a better education than they would by staying at an all-Black school --

TS: [00:35:31] I think Garwin DeBerry?  Didn’t he say something to that effect?

GG: [00:35:38] Yes.

TS: [00:35:39] Yes, okay.

GG: [00:35:40] And there was the administration at Lane that I think was trying to protect some of their players from being beat (laughs) because --

TS: [00:35:52] Well, that’s a factor.  Ben Hurt was the principal of Albemarle at that time, [00:36:00] and I could see some of the coaches wanting to protect what they had going for them and all that, although I don’t think (laughs) anybody from Scottsville would’ve challenged them like the people from Burley would’ve challenged at Lane.  But I would not think Ben Hurt would’ve gone along with that.  What a quality guy.  And from what I’ve heard, he did make it a point to try to make Scottsville people welcome.  That’s a word I heard.  And a lot of it was just being accepted peers and that sort of thing, and just walking down new halls.

GG: [00:37:00] One newspaper article that I read said that one student reported that former Scottsville High School students were called, quote, “James River rats” by some students at Albemarle High School.  Quote, “We had more in common with students from Burley than we did with those suburban kids at Albemarle.”  So my question there is were class distinctions more important than racial distinctions at that time?

TS: [00:37:35] Well, first of all, there should’ve been no kid that ever came from Scottsville that was harmed by being called a river rat because we were called river rats for years.  I don’t remember when we weren’t called river rats, especially against Fluvanna.  That was our rivals, and we were the river rats and they were the “simmon eaters” -- persimmons?  And [00:38:00] I don’t know the genesis of that.  (laughs) I’ve never known a high school kid or a middle school kid yet that didn’t carry their feelings on their shoulders, and a teacher can do anything and it doesn’t bother you nearly as much as either perceived or things done by your peers.  So it wouldn’t surprise me a bit -- and I know I would’ve been this way.  It wouldn’t have surprised me a bit going to Albemarle High School and just kind of looking for something to be pissed off about and something to hurt my feelings, and that sort of thing.  But when you stop and think about it, kids from Burley and kids from Scottsville were thrown into the same -- I mean, I would doubt if [00:39:00] kids from Scottsville had the same traumas that kids from Burley had or heard the same remarks and conversations and had the burdens that were done to Burley kids, or Burley kids had to have.  But I think there’s some truth to the fact that, I mean, they were both thrown into the situation.  I don’t know whether Burley was given visitations.  I don’t know whether they had the same lack or just, “Today is Tuesday, go to school and be a part of it,” like Scottsville did.  But, I mean, some of them were, probably.  You could make that argument.

GG: [00:39:55] Were there any examples of hazing or other disrespectful [00:40:00] attention paid to the former Scottsville students?

TS: [00:40:07] I wasn’t there.  I never heard of any of that, but that might not have been something that the kids from Albemarle would want to have done or tried to do, so that might’ve (laughs) backfired on them.  I never heard that.  I mean, maybe not hazing, but kids can be vicious and mean to other kids, and they enjoy that.  That’s what’s been done for generations.  I’m sure -- no question in my mind -- that they endured entering into a different social atmosphere [00:41:00] or a different set of groups.  I guess groups would be the best word for it.  And the groups at Albemarle were already set, and nobody from Scottsville, and nobody from Burley were going to break into those groups, I don’t think.

GG: [00:41:20] Several people have told me that the school was the center of life for Scottsville, and that when Scottsville High School was closed, the town went with it -- left a hole that was not filled.  Can you speak to that?

TS: [00:41:46] Sure.  There’s 110 percent truth to that.  I mean, [00:42:00] it wasn’t to the extreme of Texas high school football, but it was very close.  Friday nights -- and this was true with girls sports as well as boys -- the gym was packed.  Everybody around was there, and why they would want to come and root for us, because we got beat more than we ever won by a large percentage, but they were there.  It was seeing your own perform, and yes.  For years, there was a little soda shop, very clean, very nice, and that place was packed every night after ball games.  And also, yeah, there were parents that would come there and get a Coke after the game or something like that.  I mean, you didn’t [00:43:00] -- well, most people went directly home -- but you didn’t have to.  The lights were on after 8 o’clock at night down here, and my whole time coming home from college, that was not true.  There was nothing going on here.  There was no reason to come to Scottsville after dark.  There was really not a whole lot of reason to come (laughs) to Scottsville for us during the day.  Nobody was here.  There was nothing going on.  I remember the whole time I was in high school, when kids would come back -- especially freshmen.  Freshman want to come and lord it over people who are still in school -- and you’d see people that were gone away to Tech or to Virginia, [00:44:00] wherever they were, and they’d come back and walking through the halls, waving to us in class, and all that sort of thing.  I never went back to the junior high for anything.  Yeah, there was no reason.  The flood came in ’69, and that also devastated the town, so you had the school closed in ’67, and then you had the next bad thing in ’69, then you had the next one in ’72.  So in a matter of a few years, a lot of what used to be a thriving business community --

GG: [00:44:53] A river town.

TS: [00:44:54] Yeah, a river town, right.  It was a thriving community with its eyes [00:45:00] on the school, if you can understand the meaning there.  I mean, they had three restaurants downtown here, and every one of them were packed every day at school.  Kids came to eat in the restaurants, although we had great food in the cafeteria.  It was unbelievably good food in the cafeteria.  But some kids just liked to go downtown, get a hot dog, and whatever.  But we were allowed in high school to go downtown.  You had to be in the cafeteria for 10 minutes, and then -- I don’t know.  I don’t remember what they did.  They dismissed, and people would go downtown.  I don’t remember anybody ever driving downtown (laughs) but I guess maybe if you had a car and you wanted to take it to the [00:46:00] Chevy dealership or something to leave it for just work or something -- but we were a money making thing for the town too.

GG: [00:46:11] I asked you about which schools you had worked in -- been a teacher at -- and we got to Portsmouth and then we got diverted.

TS: [00:46:20] Oh, Walton.  Walton Middle School.

GG: [00:46:25] Okay.  That was for 38 years?

TS: [00:46:29] Yeah.

GG: [00:46:29] Okay.  That was what I --

TS: [00:46:32] Yeah, I’m sorry.

GG: [00:46:34] No, it’s fine.  Annie?

ANNIE VALENTINE: [00:46:39] What was it that happened in ’72?  Was that another --

TS: [00:46:42] A second flood.

AV: [00:46:43] Oh goodness.

TS: [00:46:44] Yeah, we had two 100-year floods, the first one in ’69 and the other in ’72.

AV: [00:46:53] And who was the Black student that you were talking about?  What years was she there?  [00:47:00] It’s been my understanding that most Black students from the Scottsville area went to Albemarle High School.  Is that how you understood it?  And were there a lot of Black families around here too?

TS: [00:47:15] All right.  The girl’s name was Joyce Harris and she was there one year.  My senior year, she came to Scottsville School and then, of course, she moved over to Albemarle High School.  I assume that her mother -- this child lived -- child.  She’s 60, 70 years old now.  (laughs) So this not-a-child-anymore lived two-and-a-half miles from Scottsville, and she lived, what, 20, 30 miles from Albemarle High School.  [00:48:00] And so I assume her mother just decided, “Hey, this is ridiculous for her to go that far when she’s got this right here.”  I don’t know.  I never asked that.  I don’t know, but I assume that.  And yes, all Black children in Albemarle County back then went to Burley.  Now, saying that, there was a smattering -- and I don’t remember when the first Black students went to Lane and Albemarle -- but essentially, if you were Black, you went to Burley in Albemarle County and in Charlottesville with a few exceptions that went to Lane and whatever first, and I don’t remember what the rest of your question was.

[Extraneous material redacted.]

GG: [00:50:07] Lorenzo?

LORENZO DICKERSON: [00:50:09] Yes, I have just one or two -- I was curious.  One, what year did you open Walton?  And can you tell us just a little bit about your experience opening a new middle school on this side of the county for the first time?

TS: [00:50:26] Nineteen-seventy-four.  Well, okay, Albemarle County had just gone -- when we opened Walton, Walton was the new school.  Didn’t have lockers.  I mean, for three weeks, it opened but we didn’t have any of the good stuff, so it was an experience, and Albemarle County [00:51:00] from that year had gone from junior high to middle school, and not a soul in Albemarle County had any idea what a middle school was.  Middle school had no sports.  Within a year, middle school was supposed to be all heterogeneously-grouped students.  It was supposed to be across the curriculum learning, and it was supposed to be -- when you went to math class, you had social studies intermixed in that math.  You had science intermixed in there.  It was [00:52:00] a lot of things that went by the wayside pretty darn quick.  Everybody at Henley thought they knew all about it, but we learned pretty quick they didn’t know any more than we did.  They just talked a good game, and Charlie Armstrong inflated their heads.  I hope every one of them will see that.  So it was touch and go, and I mean, you thought you did something right one day, and maybe you did, and the next day, you found out that is not part of the middle school plan and all.  It was a learning experience for several years.  I’ll tell you the funniest thing was that Walton was laid out -- sixth grade [00:53:00] was over here, seventh grade was over here, and eighth grade was over here -- and somehow or another, long about halfway through the first semester, somebody got a hold of the blueprints and said, “It’s all wrong.  Seventh grade should be in this part of the building, eighth grade should be over here,” and I think they had sixth grade right.  So Mr. Lee -- and I thought this was great -- he said, “No problem.  We can change that.”  So he got two teachers -- you were in teams of teachers.  Eighth grade had two four-person academic teams, sixth grade had two, and seventh grade had two, so you had eighth grade [00:54:00] academic science, social studies, math, and English teachers that worked together.  Then on the other side, you had four others.  So Mr. Lee said, “We’re going to get four teachers to take all of them -- all the eighth grade -- outside on this part of the area, going to have four teachers take seventh grade this part, and four teachers inside, and four teachers inside, and we’re going to switch everything.”  We switched the entire school in three hours.  We literally had boys that -- I don’t think we had any girls -- and we monitored them, and they just said, “Okay, you’re moving everything from your classroom here to the other end of the building over here,” and we got it done.  [00:55:00] We had big old country boys.  They loved doing that.  And we moved that entire school in, I don’t know, I think it was probably less than three hours, and we had everything back in the next day.  We had it done.  We met the requirements.  But middle school, it’s gone back so much toward the junior high model from middle school.  I used to call it hippie school.  It was not going to be about grades.  It was all going to be about, “How do you feel about this?”  And it was an experiment that (laughs) I’m glad I did it, but everything we did -- well, we had open classrooms, and this was by design.  We had partitions in them, but that didn’t do anything.  You could hear in the next classroom.  But it was supposed to be an open area where three teachers would be teaching interdisciplinary units all the time to kids, and that went over badly.  (laughter) It was a big run on the liquor store because that weekend, people went to the liquor store and would get boxes and create walls.  Just teaching science and English in the same open area, [00:57:00] it just was a big old mess is what it was, and you had pretty much 75 kids trying to be in a classroom with three different teachers.  But everybody was in the same boat.  Even people that thought they knew what they were supposed to be doing really didn’t, and the principals were -- good Lord love them -- they didn’t know any more than we did.  They were learning too.  So that’s the way it started.  We just made the best of it.  I can’t remember --

LD: [00:57:41] No, that was good.  That was good.  Thank you.  I was curious if you knew because it’s always just been interesting to me, growing up here, did Albemarle County use the same builder for --

TS: [00:57:53] I have no idea.

LD: [00:57:54] Jouett Henley Walton.  Who designed (inaudible) this thing?

TS: [00:58:00] Henley, Burley, and Jouett were already built, and then Walton was the fourth one, and that was built in ’74, so they were already up.  So I don’t know what they built --

GG: [00:58:19] It was VMDO, I think.

LD: [00:58:22] It was VMDO?

GG: [00:58:23] I think so, yeah.

LD: [00:58:24] Oh, okay, okay, yeah.

TS: [00:58:25] But Albemarle has always had some experimental stuff.  There were several years when Walton was open when Jouett -- no, when I started, it was Walton, Burley, and Henley with middle schools, and Jouett was a ninth grade school.  All the kids went to elementary -- one through five -- then sixth through eighth, [00:59:00] then everybody went to the ninth grade at Jouett.  Jimmy Helvin was the principal there -- greatest guy in the world -- and they all went to Jouett for ninth grade, and then they went to Albemarle for tenth, eleventh, twelve.  And then I don’t remember when that changed and Jouett became a middle school.  It was several years, though.

GG: [00:59:26] Norman?

NORMAN WOOLWORTH: [00:59:27] Yeah, so Tom, I was struck by you saying that it was hardest on the seniors.  I talked to somebody who was going to be a yearbook editor, right, and then didn’t have that opportunity at Albemarle.  What other extracurricular things like that would there have been in Scottsville that people then who were designated to be that person the next year didn’t get to be either because they weren’t invited or it was too late or because it happened after the buses left?

TS: [01:00:00] I never thought about yearbook and that sort of thing.  It would’ve been so easy, wouldn’t it, to just ask them to be on the staff or something?  I know -- not answering your question, but an offshoot of it -- the girl that lived right up on the hill, Sandra Roberts.  Sandra went from Scottsville to Albemarle, went from Albemarle to William and Mary, was Phi Beta Kappa at William and Mary, and she was obviously way above anything that I ever saw intellectually, and at Albemarle, she was number six in the class at the end of the class.  Now, I have yet to figure out how she got from being one by a large percentage [01:01:00] at Scottsville and then how they figured out that she, at the end of the year, making straight As at Albemarle ended up being sixth in the class.  That’s creative math that I don’t understand.  But, I mean, we had a newspaper, but it was a club type thing.  It wasn’t something that was after school.  I honestly don’t know of anything else.  I know they had FHA -- Future Homemakers of America -- FFA -- Future Farmer of America -- and within that, they had [01:02:00] president, vice-president, and all those things.  So when they went to Albemarle -- and I know they had those over there -- so I would assume that our girls just -- I know they would’ve already made their preparations for who was going to be that the next year.  It wouldn’t have taken that -- well, I guess given the fact that it’s the middle of May and you’ve got to go the next year, you couldn’t ask but so much to be done.  I don’t know how they would’ve done it, but maybe a hasty trip over there?  I don’t know.  But the offer could’ve been made.  It could’ve been a more smoother thing.  But people didn’t really think about that [01:03:00] then, I don’t guess.  High school was a tougher place back in those times, too.  People didn’t -- I don’t think they really worried about your feelings that much.  I mean, our teachers, a lot of them growing up, they had fought in World War II.  They were used to getting shot at all day.  They weren’t worried too much about a 15-year-old, your personal space and your feelings and that sort of thing.  When Daddy said do it, if you didn’t do it quick enough, something’s going to happen.  I guess it just wasn’t part of the thought process.

NW: [01:03:51] So part B in that question, then: do you have any sense of at what point in time -- so maybe for the students who entered as juniors or entered as [01:04:00] sophomores -- did at some point, or maybe afterwards -- a few more classes down the road -- when did the experience of going to Albemarle High School become normalized?  “That’s just what we did here in Scottsville,” and the Scottsville High School memory --

TS: [01:04:16] Yeah, that’s a great question, and I admit my bias on all of this.  There is no question in the world, it tore me up just thinking about.  My thoughts were usually on the seniors -- the ones that were coming up, the juniors with me and then seniors -- because I just can’t imagine how I would’ve done it.  So I was always thinking about them.  It’s interesting that we kind of got into that a little bit because the alumni committee that was planning the reunion [01:05:00] is made up of three people from my class, one person from the people that were juniors, and then two others that were babies -- that were maybe seventh grade when this school closed -- and there is a totally different outlook, but they didn’t know anything else.  They didn’t have the experience.  They were in upper elementary school or whatever, and so they knew Scottsville High School as in their brothers or sisters or whatever.  [01:06:00] I know the people that were seniors and the people that ended up being juniors there, they hated every second of it.  Now, you’ve got someone who didn’t say that, but there were different circumstances with her.  I’ve known one other person -- the person who kind of went along with what Judy has to say?  He could be happy in a mud puddle.  I mean, he’s just a guy that can find good in everything and it doesn’t matter whether it’s champagne or Coca-Cola, it’s all good.  (laughs) But the rest of the people there for at least three years back, I’ve never known had anything at all good to say.  But then you get the diminishing hatred.  [01:07:00] But saying that -- I believe I’m correct on this -- the first person that ever played a varsity sport at Albemarle High School -- I could be -- but I’m darn close -- the first person that played a varsity sport was a very gifted athlete whose father was the principal at Scottsville High School.  His name was Randy Allison, and Randy played basketball, football, and -- well, I know he played basketball and football at Albemarle and was a starter and all of that.  But Randy was in probably the fifth, sixth grade -- yeah, sixth grade [01:08:00] when Scottsville closed, so that’s a pretty long time.  But he had had the opportunity to be in the junior high.  He had the opportunity to grow up in a bigger system, and so it didn’t intimidate him -- well, he’s good, but the process of playing against a large amount of kids, the atmosphere was different.  But it was a number of years.

GG: [01:08:36] Tom, thank you very much.  You’ve been very --

TS: [01:08:38] A pleasure.

GG: [01:08:38] -- generous with your time and your insights.

TS: [01:08:43] Well, it’s been a pleasure, and Scottsville means a lot to me, and I know Burley meant a lot to their folks, and I wasn’t trying to kick anybody’s butt over at Albemarle, but, I mean, it happened, and I’m glad [01:09:00] you’re doing this.