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Interview with Gerald Shinn, November 8, 2000 | UNCW Archives and Special Collections Online Database

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Title:
Interview with Gerald Shinn, November 8, 2000
Date:
November 8, 2000
Description:
Dr. Gerald Shinn talks about his life and career at University of North Carolina at Wilmington on topics of Schweitzer Awards, NC Living Treasure and National Living Treasure Awards, Museum of World Culture, Educational philosophy, and reminiscences of faculty at UNC-Wilmington are included.
Phys. Desc:

Interviewee: Shinn, Gerald Interviewer: Cody, S. / Hayes, S. Date of Interview: 11/8/2000 Series: Voices of UNCW Length: 240 minutes

We have the infamous Jerry Shinn and we have a backlit Sue Cody. Our third party is Sherm Hayes … [unclear]

Cody: Where did you get the jeep, Jerry?

Shinn: I bought it at White Owl Motor Company in Kinston. This was my graduate school vehicle. You see the tag.

Cody: Oh yeah, Duke University, 1963.

Shinn: And during the winter in the snow, I would take nurses to the hospital and pull people out of the ditch and make a little money if they wanted to pay me. I never asked for anything. But then I gave it to Dad and he used it on the farm to haul rocks or anything else.

Cody: That’s right or anything else that needed to be done, that’s great.

Shinn: And kept it alive and then had a youngun come who was an auto mechanic and he just put a new exhaust system on there and fixed the engine so it would run right so it’s doing very well.

Cody: Do you know what year…?

Shinn: 53. Yeah, that’s a Willis Jeep. It was used at the time of the Korean War. And when I got it, they had dropped it out of an airplane with a parachute and it hit on its rear wheels. The rear wheels were like this (lots of laughter). I had a fella down in North Carolina fix it for me, but yeah, I used to drive that all over the place.

Cody: That’s great.

Shinn: And that’s my main machine on the farm. [Pointing to tractor] That’s a bush haul machine and pulling machine. If I get the truck stuck or anything, I just pull it right out. It has only two cylinders, you can count on tires … [unclear] (lots of laughter). And then there’s the faithful Toro where I mow the yard around here. And that’s about it. Where Dad had his woodworking machines. They cut the lumber on the land to refinish the house, board and batten the house and everything else and so we had the planer and the cross-truck in there.

Hayes: Now I’m looking at the one you told us about, the log house that your parents built.

Shinn: That’s the log cabin they built in ’59. This was built later in ’65 or so.

Cody: And you said this house was moved from another site?

Shinn: 3 miles away. Grand-daddy had, I think, 5 or 6 farms and he gave one to each child and so mom got this one. My uncle didn’t want the house over there and dad and mom were getting ready to retire so, they said well, so they got it moved over here and worked on it and worked on it.

Cody: That’s the nature of houses.

Shinn: Oh yeah and I’m still working on it (laughter), no doubt. But it’s a very comfortable place now, no problem at all.

Hayes: And what is the year you would say it was built?

Shinn: 1890, about. At that time, we used the spring down here for a water _______ _____ was fine, but then the spring went dry so we had to use city water. City water has much more pressure. (can’t hear) _________75 and then city water was 100 _____ so it began to have leaks so I just replaced the whole thing. You can see how high it is under there. You can’t walk, you can’t do anything, you had to crawl. That was a job.

Cody: That’s why they call it a crawl-space.

Shinn: You better believe it. Now there’s the best thing in the world.

Cody: A heat pump?

Shinn: No, it’s a gas pump, gas in the winter and then electricity with the air conditioning in the summer.

Cody: Okay.

Shinn: And the nice thing I like about it is the gas is outside the house.

Hayes: So do you really farm then or not?

Shinn: Tree farm.

Hayes: Tree farm.

Shinn: Yes, these trees were planted in ’59 also with Mom and Dad. Dog is coming. He’s got heart trouble. He has a hard time, we've got the medicine for him, but it hasn’t taken effect yet. He likes the farm.

Cody: What’s his name?

Shinn: And any time you want any gum, I have plenty. Let’s see how far I cut.

Hayes: Is tree farming pretty much what’s keeping it going around here agriculturally?

Shinn: Farming is basically on the way out most everywhere. If you can’t do farming big, you can’t do farming. It’s so expensive.

Hayes: Were they never big here?

Shinn: Oh yeah, say around 1910, 1915 or so and even up until the second World War, small farms were very possible and a lot of people had them here, but now it’s not economically feasible.

Cody: And what did they grow?

Shinn: Wheat, corn.

Cody: Soybeans?

Shinn: Well soybeans didn’t come until basically after the Second World War.

Cody: Right, when they found applications for them. But not much tobacco?

Shinn: No, no never was a great deal of tobacco. There’s some. And this is ______. One of my students came and helped build that top for it. The other one was just rotten. I was afraid some youngun might fall in the well.

Hayes: Jerry, you grew up on this farm?

Shinn: No (laughter), no I visited it occasionally when I spent some summers with my granddaddy and grandmother, but I grew up all over North Carolina. My dad was a Methodist minister so we moved every, sometimes every year.

Hayes: Ouch.

Shinn: Sometimes every two years and back then, you moved in the fall so I began school in one place and then had to switch. The first day was always fight day (laughter). They wanted to try out your metal.

Cody: So how’d you do?

Shinn: Well, lost some, won some (laughter). Mixed bag. But you see the little pond there is dry and I planted the hemlock. I love hemlock around. These are taking off pretty well and then we have some little bitty ones here.

Hayes: Well you’re quite the outdoor man. Now do you think those early years visiting is what kind of set in place the farm idea?

Shinn: Oh yes, but I remember coming here with my granddaddy to plow the field with the horse. He had … crowder peas in this field as I remember, so yeah, I’m sure it did. And then of course, Dad and Mom moved in. They lived here for 30 years so I always came to visit them. Kind of liked the place. It’s great. You walk up here around, there’s the upper spring. The place had seven springs on it, but none of them are running now. They’re all dry. And little branch down there is dry too. So we need some rain.

Cody: I love the sunshine.

Hayes: I’m just going to get your trees here. You say they’re good for another 15 years.

Shinn: Yeah another 15 years.

Hayes: And what about the front of your house? What kinds of things are there between here and the road? More trees.

Shinn: Well there’s my blueberry bushes down there, my raspberry bushes. I don’t plant anything anymore like Dad did because the deer and the rabbits eat it all down to the ground and I don't mind feeding them, but I don’t want to go to that much trouble. This part right here was on a marble slab in front of Goethe’s house in ____. And then of course, that’s when you come into the house and then when you go out of the house, I added this. No ____? Goethe didn't have this, but I added the wall___? So Salvé when you come in and Valé when you go out.

Hayes: And you got that in Germany?

Shinn: I got this in Germany, yeah.

Hayes: Should we leave this on the tape.

Shinn: Salvé came from Germany, the idea and the Valé, that’s my original (laughter).

Hayes: But it’s a Virginia product. Well it’s Virginia marble. Then over here in Locust, North Carolina, is the Locust Monument and the youngun that runs it will do most anything you want him to do including foolishness like that (laughter). And that involves a book. Do you know Robert Statler’s The Japanese Inn, super book. It’s about the oldest Japanese inn in existence called the Minigushia -- 12th Century and it’s still running, so I read that book and I ran across something in there and I've got it marked for you and you can read it. It’s just a couple of lines, but it will tell you about what that is. It comes from an individual that I admire very dearly called Siunji?____ who was a general in Japan from about 1880 to 1920s or so, incredible man, but that’s what he named his house so I stole it from him.

Cody: We were just looking at the books about the sign on the front of the house.

Hayes: Just for our purposes, you may want to identify yourself.

Cody: I’m Sue Cody from the Randall Library.

Shinn: I’m Jerry Shinn from Zagyoso.

Cody: And Zagyoso means “extra tree aloof from struggle for power”. Very nice retreat it is.

Shinn: Thank you.

Cody: We were talking when we were outside about how you came here to visit your grandparents, but your father was a Methodist minister so you moved all around the state of North Carolina.

Shinn: The western conference.

Cody: Western North Carolina, okay. What was your favorite or most memorable town when you were growing up?

Shinn: I guess Wilkesboro because Wilkesboro, I was about 8 years old and this was during the Second World War and we had divided the town into the red army and the blue army and we had our air rifles and we would shoot each other and after you had been hit a couple of times, that’s memorable, so we had a grand old time. Also, that’s the place where we blew up the guy’s outhouse with dynamite, so you know these things when you’re young are definitely memorable. There wasn’t a piece of wood any bigger than a toothpick after we got through. Well,he threatened younguns who would cross his yard with a shotgun.

Cody: Oh, so he called it on himself.

Shinn: Oh yes. We said so anyway (laughter). The only unfortunate thing was he wasn’t in it when we blew it up (laughter).

Cody: But all these experiences turned you into a man of peace, I’m sure.

Shinn: Well, up to a point (laughter).

Cody: That’s great. And where did you go to high school?

Shinn: Cooleemee High School. Well I started out in Ramseur and then moved from Ramseur to Cooleemee, but most of my high school was in Cooleemee. The only other person I know that I looked up to that graduated from there was a fella who wrote all of the history books in North Carolina and graduated from Chapel Hill. What was his name?

Cody: Not Q. ______.

Shinn: Q ______. He graduated from Cooleemee High School too. Q and I have something in common (laughter). And had a grand time in Cooleemee. Of course, everywhere I went, I had a grand time. And spent more time on the river and out in the woods than I did with my books. Cause high school didn’t require a whole lot and they had an interesting kind of method of taking attendance when I first went to Cooleemee. They had homerooms so called. They took attendance in homeroom and after that, they didn’t. So we got the idea, you see, that we’d go to homeroom and then we’d bug out for the river. We got caught naturally and so they stopped that (laughter).

Cody: You brought about a policy change.

Shinn: Yeah, the only other memorable thing we did is we put a cow in the principal’s office all weekend (laughter). Gave it plenty of water and food (laughter). We didn’t like the principal.

Cody: It sounds like you had fun.

Shinn: Oh absolutely. Always have, Sue, and I always hope to.

Cody: I hope you always do. You went to Duke, your father went to Duke.

Shinn: Dad went to Duke Divinity School. He went to Trinity College before, then Duke Divinity School, graduated ’36 I think it was. I was 2 years old so I don’t remember where we were living at that time, Marvin, Weddington, something like that, but yeah. Was there for undergrad. Then I went to divinity school and then I went for a year study in Germany at both the Methodist Seminary there and also at the _______ (Gerda Universited). Heard lectures of philosophy from Adorno?____ who was just super. He was wonderful.

Hayes: What language is that in?

Shinn: German. Yeah, yeah, they didn’t do English at that point (laughter) and I was there to learn German which I've always enjoyed and still like to read. I don’t speak it very much anymore, but I do enjoy the language.

Cody: How many languages do you read?

Shinn: A couple.

Cody: Do you read Japanese?

Shinn: No, I wish I did, because there’s just any number of things I’d like to read. I’d like to read Lady Morusaki who wrote the first novel in history, I’d like to read that in Japanese. I’m sure the translation is not as good as the original (laughter).

Hayes: Was it automatic that you would go to college, a pretty unusual time period.

Shinn: I had no choice. And that was not verbal, that was not told to go to college, that was assumed (laughter) and assumption was never questioned. That just never came up. And I remember in senior year or something, they handed out the sheet and I don’t know where it came from, what university will you attend and they give three or four choices and I said Duke University and that’s it. I’m not going anywhere else.

Cody: And off you went.

Hayes: But Duke was a different place when you went.

Shinn: Oh great Scott yes. Total student body was 5000 and, you know, they had all kinds of possibilities, tuition wasn’t as bad then. I had won some kind of thing where I didn’t have to worry about tuition anyway. Angier B. Duke prize if you got to a certain point in there, then they took care of the tuition, but I still had my room and my food and all that, so the president, Dr. Eden, got me a job in the dining hall. That’s where I met Big Bill.

Cody: I was going to ask you about Big Bill.

Shinn: He was my boss. Marvelous person. Big Bill was about 7 feet tall. I don’t know how many feet wide. He’s just a monster of a man, and his hands, one hand would be like two of mine. But everywhere Bill went, peace followed (laughter). But he was kind. He was head of the football training table, that’s where all the football players ate and so that’s one of my first jobs was there. I had to get up at 6:00 in the morning to be over there, but after the football players were fed, then Big Bill would hold what I called Big Bill seminars. His coffee cup was a bowl like that and he’d sit there and drink his coffee out of his bowl and then start asking us questions like you know, who do ya’ll consider great. Well we named Marilyn Monroe and John Wayne and, and, and, and he said, you don’t know what you’re talking about. They’re not great, they’re just famous. There’s a big difference between that. He said, I’ll tell you who a great man is and that’s Albert Schweitzer. And we looked at each other, who is that. He said, you mean to tell me you don’t know, you be at my house at 8:00 tonight. And so we were (laughter). Walked in and there was a bust of this man you know and he let us hear some of the records of him playing Bach and then he told us about it and then the very next semester in German, we read “Aus mein laben und tinken”? ___________ from Albert Schweitzer. So I was one of the rare ones that even knew what that was thanks to Big Bill. But Bill has been a part of my life for a long time. Any time I wanted to discuss something intelligent with a human being, it usually was Big Bill and the trustees too. If they had something on campus that they wanted to know about, they wanted Big Bill, you know, to bounce it off and so he was just a, he had…Well, first of all, he had a Master’s in English from Cornell. He was no ordinary fella. The manager of the dining hall had met him in the Army and had brought back to Duke with him when he took over there, but he was an incredible person. And I miss him. He died a couple of years ago. His wife is still living and daughter in Durham. And I visit them rarely now, I don’t get there very much.

Cody: You mentioned that you knew very few black people before you met Big Bill.

Shinn: Right and so I’d grown up in the South with hearing the stereotypes all my life except when I was very small visiting my grandmother, granddaddy had some Afro-Americans, which we didn’t call that at that time, they are blacks, working on the farm and one of them had a little boy and he and I played together. Well it came dinnertime and I brought him in, you see, to eat with me. Grandmother just threw a fit, “That youngun not going to eat at my table”. I said why, I've been playing with him all day long, why can’t he eat. “Well he can’t and that’s all there is to it.” And I said, well if he can’t eat with me, then I won’t eat either and so I stalked out and we went out there and finally grandmother sent out some stuff for us, but that gave me my first taste that there was something going on here that I didn’t quite understand. But really the first person that I knew well was Big Bill who was an Afro-American, a black, but that never just came up. But he was intelligent, he was well read. Oh I've got to tell you this about Big Bill. I was having a terrible time coming from Cooleemee High School. Maybe I should have listened in English class a little bit better instead of going down by the river all the time, so I won’t blame that on Cooleemee High School, blame it on me. But anyway, I had a hard time writing, ‘cause I never had to write very much. And so I was bemoaning the fact at the football training table after breakfast one morning and Big Bill says, well tell me how you go about it. And I said, well I sort of write and then I have to do all this punctuation stuff and grammar. And he said, that doesn’t make any difference. I said, do what! Those English professors think it makes a difference. He said yeah, but that’s not writing, that’s just dressing it up after. He said you must read a book. I said what book is that. And he said, well it’s a book that’s written by a cockroach. I said, do what! He said, yeah-- Archie and Mehadabul. Have you read that book, No, so he gave me the book to read. And indeed, it is a book written by a cockroach who lived in an editor’s office in a newspaper and of course, there are no capital letters because the cockroach is not strong enough to push down the shift key (laughter), so it’s all in lower case and no punctuation, nothing, but it’s a marvelous story. Mehadabul was the cat. Her philosophy, Archie asked her one time, well what is your philosophy of life and she says, well, I’ll tell you, it’s just one damn litter after the other (laughter). Well, anyway he got me to writing better by saying, that’s the last thing you do. You want to get your ideas and your images clear before you mess with punctuation and all that other stuff. He says, just write, just get it on paper, just get it down and then you can revise and revise and revise. And yeah, he was right. So my grades began to pick up after Big Bill got a hold of me. I learned more with Big Bill sometimes at the football training table than I learned in class. He was one of my better professors (laughter).

Cody: You have a saying that you would assign the students a Mark Twain, remember that?

Shinn: Oh yeah, my motto – never let your school interfere with your education. Some people don’t know the distinction and that’s unfortunate because there’s a big difference. All of us have known people who have been through school and who couldn’t think their way out of a wet paper bag. And there are people who never went to school or very little school and were just unbelievable mental giants. Did you read in the News and Observer yesterday about McFadden, the economics prizewinner, you know, for the Nobel Prize. Yeah, he was kicked out of Spencer High School. He was a drop-out. He didn’t stay that way, he went out to visit his aunt in Minnesota, graduated and ended up, you know, in something incredible. He got kicked out of school for doing a petition saying, you know, students should have some rights about getting kicked out of school. You know, not just summarily kicked out by the principal, they should have a right of appeal or something and he got kicked out for that because petitions were not allowed at that time. They’re not looked upon with favor, I can tell you that (laughter). There are many other examples. Education is what you’re able to do and what you’re able to accomplish and that may or may not be with school.

Cody: Now was it at Duke that you picked up the tradition of wearing your tie…

Shinn: No, no, that came from Germany (laughter). You've heard of undergraduate foolishness.

Cody: Oh yes.

Shinn: Okay, well this was graduate school. I have to make a comment there before I tell you about that. We were coming back one spring night from seeing a movie over at Page Auditorium, and going to the graduate dorm, I don’t know where this came from, but there was a crowd. There must have been 50 or 60 grad students.

Hayes: This is in Germany?

Shinn: No, no, this is in Durham. And yeah, shifted gears, sorry about that. But anyhow I have to tell you about graduate foolishness to get ready. And somebody shouted, PANTY RAID. You know the nurses’ dorm was right across the street from the graduate dorm. Well it caught on and all the students rushed over to the nurses’ dorm. Nurses loved it. And you know they hung out their brassieres and their panties and everything out of the dorm. As a result, you see, the police showed up.

Hayes: Oh no.

Shinn: That was not a good idea and things were getting kind of rough and our dean showed up from the divinity school and began to take names and take scholarships away from students who were over there which we thought was just dumb. Finally the dean of the graduate school came up, got the megaphone, got up on the steps and says, “Well gentleman I really didn’t know you had it in you”. Broke it up, went home (laughter). That is the only time in the history of Duke University that the graduate school ever did a panty raid (laughter). In that light, when I was in Germany, I stayed at the Methodist Seminary where we not only had divinity students, we had law students and some other students as well and from Switzerland as well as Germany and some of the other places and a crowd of us, about 8 or 9 or so, would go down on Thursday night to the _________(shtablacal) bar and play chess and smoke awful German cigars, drink German beer, good German beer, super can’t get it here and just generally have a good time. We’d talk and I learned more German there than I learned anywhere else. Some of it is not speakable in public, but anyway. But we decided to form a fraternity, you know, since we met every Thursday night and all of us stayed sort of together and had a good time. Well, in Germany, that is a formal kind of thing normally. If you produce a fraternity at a university or school, and you have to buy little hats with certain kind of markings on them and you have to wear a ribbon across the breast and this type of thing.

Hayes: What was the year, what year was this?

Shinn: ’59 – ’60. And that cost money. Well we didn’t have any money. All of our money went for beer and bad cigars. So one youngun decided we would just put our tie in our pocket.

Cody: There you go.

Shinn: Then we’d know who we were. So ever since then, as a kind of a joke, I wore my tie in my pocket. Then when I got back to Duke, I was a cashier, that was a good idea because it kept it out of the cash drawer. Also keeps gravy off it so it’s a practical thing as well as a foolish thing so that’s where that came from.

Hayes: Now who asked you that question, Sue?

Cody: My friend Abigail asked me to get that story, a former student of yours.

Shinn: I know. Yes, she’s a good student.

Cody: You've had a lot of good students.

Shinn: Yes. You know students are the main thing at any university. Always thought maybe we could do away with the administration and the faculty and just have the students there and still get learning done (laughter). Now we can’t do without the librarian. We cannot do without the librarian (laughter).

Hayes: Well, let’s say ones who work with the books.

Shinn: Well you know they forget what an administrator is supposed to do. Administrator is there to accomplish the purposes of the students and the faculty and they get the idea they’re supposed to run the place (laughter). They've got it all backwards.

Cody: So after you finished divinity school, then where did you go from there?

Shinn: In ’59, I finished divinity and went to Germany for a year, almost a year, 11 months, I think it was. Then I came back, Ph.D. at Duke, so then graduated in ’64. They gave me a year to write a dissertation. I finished everything but one chapter. Then I got a job at Lewisburg College and commuted from Lewisburg two days a week back to Duke to try to finish that last chapter. It took me a whole year to write that whole chapter and I had written five in the other year, you see. I don’t recommend that for anybody to get a teaching job and then try to work on a dissertation at the same time. That is grueling. I won’t do that again.

Hayes: What was your dissertation on?

Shinn: It was on “Derzochshinspegel” _______ which was a German, the first codified German law in the vernacular, dates about 1238.

Hayes: And much of the work you had to do in German back and forth.

Shinn: Oh yeah, yeah, I mean the basic document is in German. There has been no translation in English of the document itself except little snippets that I did for Dr. Petrie in his book, but it’s an incredible document. It’s the first document I have ever read that was against slavery. And his argument is just intriguing. You remember the story of Jesus with the coin when the Pharisees asked him, should we pay taxes and he says give me a coin and he says whose image is on that coin, Caesar’s, render to Caesar’s what is Caesar’s, to God what is God’s. And then _____________ who wrote “Derzoch_______” says, now, if you are to render unto God what is God’s, to whom do we all belong, we belong to God. Therefore, no human being can own another human being and slavery is illegal. Isn’t that amazing? 1238, and that just is great. Also in that document, insane people – you know we've always said that we've treated insane people as medieval or something. Ikee_____ says the family is responsible for the insane person. Whatever he does, you know if he smashes something whatever, you’re responsible for the debt and you’re responsible for clothing him and looking after him or her and so the family is responsible, not the state, the family and that was interesting because I didn’t think anybody up until maybe 17th century or so had even concerned themselves about insane people. Well that was interesting.

Hayes: Well, we had them.

Shinn: Oh yeah. Some of them ended up as jesters at the King’s court.

Hayes: What impresses me is that you obviously have kept working on that intellectual piece of dissertation and so many faculty after they get done with their dissertation, I think Sue can respond to that (laughter), so it obviously wasn’t a stop and then you never looked at it again.

Shinn: Oh we did some. Sherm, I haven’t dealt with it in a good while and don’t plan to because I've got other interests right now. Yeah, but I tried to keep up a little bit and did some monographs and things along, but no great work, no.

Cody: You’re not going to do the first complete translation?

Shinn: No, I’d love to, but one, I don’t have the time. I did translate ______Henchen’s book on the Book of A____, but I liked that, did half of it and just about killed me. Translation is a bear. It’s worse than writing for yourself because you’re confined by the idea that that person wants to get across and you can’t do it literally, forget that. Because that ends up in gibberish and so what you do, you try to find the kind of language which will convey that idea which is the same idea the author had and that is difficult. Only thing worse than that would be poetry, trying to translate that, whoa, that is a bear.

Cody: So you went to Lewisburg then.

Shinn: I went to Lewisburg right after.

Hayes: Tell us where Lewisburg is.

Shinn: Right above Raleigh. Franklin County, named after Ben Franklin. But I taught German, I taught Philosophy, all kinds of philosophy, American, Russian, you know, seminar of this, seminar of that, mostly for the sophomores. We just had a two-year program there. And basically what Lewisburg College was at that time was a beef-up school for those students who went to Duke who didn’t do very well or State and they would feed us the students. We’d get them back in sort of order and then they’d go back. It worked out perfectly. I think they kinda quit doing that which is unfortunate, because a lot of students, when they get out from home, they hit freshman year, you know, they fall apart. They become sabarites___?__ or something you see (laughter). The pleasure principle I think. Like the birddog has been penned up for months and months, you open the door, boom, they’re gone. Oh gee.

Cody: And then from there, did you come to UNCW?

Shinn: Yes. Began to have asthma at Lewisburg and old Rabbit Bonner who is in Greensboro, oh I’d been to Duke and Bowman Gray and everywhere and they gave me all these skin tests and everything else and we just weren’t getting anywhere. Rabbit Bonner says, where you live? I said Lewisburg. He said, yeah, but where in Lewiburg. And I told him. And he said, well what’s around you? I said well, there’s a cow pasture there and he said any cows in it and I said yeah. He said, where is any water? I said, well there’s a river down there. And he said, yeah, I figured, I’ll tell you what you better do if you want to live very long is get yourself to the ocean.

Hayes: Wow.

Shinn: And I said that might be a good idea and so at that time (laughter), there was only one institution on the ocean and that was Wilmington College. So I went down and met B. Frank Hall, which was very fortunate. We met out there in the graveyard behind his church and had a wonderful conversation.

Cody: What was the name of his church?

Shinn: That was the Presbyterian Church, Pearsall Presbyterian Church. We met back there in my car next to the graveyard and we started talking about Shouting Shelton which was one of my professors at Duke and so he said, yeah we can use you. And I said, well that’s fine and I got the job. He and I then held the department until I think the next person was Jim McGowan.

Cody: And what year was that that you joined the faculty?

Shinn: ’67. That was two years before we came, you know, part of the university. That was an interesting time, I tell you.

Cody: Well do tell us (laughter).

Shinn: Well, I can’t tell you all of it. I just know some of it, but if it hadn’t been for Dallas Herring, I very seriously doubt we’d ever become part of the university and there were other people too, but Dallas was the main hitter here and also the fact that we had sort of an agreement with Charlotte that Charlotte would go first and then they would support us when we went the next time. So it was interesting political maneuvering.

Cody: And then they that brought Asheville in so we had an eastern and a western university.

Shinn: That’s right, so we would be playing fair. I also remember about that time when the legislature had accomplished this, you see, and there was a joke going around the legislature that said there was a bookmobile stuck in the mud down in Pamlico County and they stuck a university sign on it (laughter). Oh, you get all kinds.

Hayes: Who was the chancellor when you came?

Shinn: When I came?

Hayes: They weren’t called chancellor because they had to be the president of Wilmington College.

Shinn: That was Bill Randall. And that man was something else. I admired him. Well first of all, he was an unbelievable academic. But not just in academics. Here was a man who had been a spy in the Second World War.

Hayes: Tell us about that because we’ll take your second-hand stories (laughter).

Shinn: I’m reluctant to tell you all I know.

Cody: Tell us what you think you can.

Shinn: Well I asked him one time, I visited him about a year or so before he died and I said, you've had an incredible life. He crossed the Atlantic 65 times during the war, parachuted in behind the German lines, became the Arab sort of cook for Romul, that’s how we knew what Romul was doing before some of his own men knew what was going on, just incredible things. I said, why don’t you write a book. He says, I can’t. I said, why. He said, I’ll tell you one story. And he’s been dead long enough and everybody else has been dead long enough, I think I can share this with you. He said we received information in Cairo that one of the American captains was leaking information to the Germans and so he was designated to go and dress up…and he knew German as all languages, I mean he was an incredible linguist.

Hayes: His training was in lingual…

Shinn: Yes, basically and in library science (laughter). But anyway, he dressed up in his Nazi uniform and met this captain. Now I don’t know how he knew where to meet him, I don’t know anything like that, but anyway, they knew. Met the captain. Of course the captain was a little suspicious when he saw this new guy there because his regular contact was not there, but anyway, Randall smoothed it over and everything. They began to talk, you know, and the guy passed him the information. Randall pulled out his luger and killed him on the spot.

Hayes: Oh my God.

Shinn: No trial, no anything. But that man had cost American lives and he said, now that’s just one story.

Cody: I wonder how he was recruited to the O.S.S.

Shinn: He wasn’t in the O.S.S. He was in, I don’t know, you can look it up in his bio there in the library, it’s not O.S.S. and he didn’t want to be in O.S.S. because O.S.S. has its own problems, particularly when they work with the British. You see when you’re working in the Middle East, you’re going to be with the Brits. And O.S.S. and the Brits oil and water, they never got along.

Cody: He didn’t want to get into that.

Shinn: No, no, you can’t work that way. Also it’s interesting after the war was over, he ended up with the Vatican in helping the Vatican reorganize their library.

Hayes: Yeah, that’s what you said.

Cody: The Carnegie Foundation.

Shinn: Yes.

Hayes: Did he live there for a time?

Shinn: Oh yeah. Yeah, he went back to Cairo once I don’t know how many years after the war, but somebody shot at him, so he figured he was still well-known there and he left (laughter). But here’s this very unassuming librarian with the bush haircut who doesn’t really speak very much. He let the Dean run the meetings, you know. But when he did speak, he had something to say. I had a tendency to get on the bad side of administrators very quickly (laughter), I don’t know how this happened.

Hayes: (Laughter) But you’re fine with me.

Shinn: Yeah, but you’re in the library (laughter). I first went there, I remembered when we were at Lewisburg College, we had to change the motto because the Latin was wrong. Well when I got to the campus of Wilmington College, there was this, you know, discere aude? I’m not a great Latin scholar, but I thought aude ought to come first and not second. So I called my old Latin professor up at Duke on the nickel of the university. Well, it wasn’t too long after that, I got hauled into the Dean’s office.

Hayes: Who was the Dean?

Shinn: You know this was way back, Paul Reynolds. Anyway Paul was very upset with me for spending the university’s money on making a phone call to Duke. He wanted to know what was it about and I told him. He said, well I’m sorry, that’s not acceptable. Well, that got my dander up. We ended up in Randall’s office (laughter). Randall didn’t say very much, he said, well what did you find out? I said, well it can be either way. He said, “You were right.” He said, “I’m the one that created the Latin motto for this institution.” I said, “Well, had I known that, I wouldn’t have made the phone call.” But anyway, he didn’t say anything to the Dean, but he was very clear not to mess with that anymore.

Cody: Tell us what that means, discere aude.

Shinn: Oh that’s an interesting one and I can understand it now that I knew that he created it because he did that every day when he was in the Second World War. Discere means basically to discern or learn and aude means, well we get the word audacious from it and it means to be courageous and the way to learn things is to be courageous or to risk and so Bill Randall had risked his life every day and so he knew what that was to be able to learn so it makes perfect sense to me.

Cody: Provides great context.

Shinn: Yes, yes, so it’s one of the best mottos I know for any university to have and we've forgotten it too because now our society is not interested in risk. It’s interested in security and consequently I think the learning is not as good (laughter).

Hayes: So what, risk learning or …

Shinn: No, in order to learn, risk or in order to learn, take a risk.

Cody: Be courageous.

Shinn: Yes.

Hayes: But what about your philosophy for the fact that students don’t want to risk the failure. Did you encourage that?

Shinn: Oh, I encouraged them to fail (laughter). No, I can’t say I did that, but there’s always that opportunity and for some students, they need to experience it. Also I was in very much disfavor with a lot of parents ‘cause the students had all these F’s and we’d talk about it and I’d say, well why don’t you go into the Navy or the Army or something? Well that got back to parents and parents were very upset with me. What do you mean?? I said, well that’s the best place for him, he’s not doing any good here.

Hayes: Oh my goodness.

Shinn: Or I said, go travel around the world or get a job or do something, but just don’t sit and smoke pot. I said that’s not any good, that won’t do anything for you. So, but anyway, yeah, failure is a part of life and if you've never failed, you haven’t experienced life because you’re not going to be a success at everything you try or I've not met anybody that’s been.

Cody: Don’t look at me (laughter). How long had Dr. Randall been there, do you know?

Shinn: I don’t know how long he’d been there, Sue. I heard about the wreck and I also heard about him being hired in the hospital. Well, Dr. Hoggard, who was you know head of the Board of Trustees at that time and a medical doctor and he just came into the hospital room and after they’d talked a while, he said, well we have to have somebody here at the college, you’d be perfect so you’re hired (laughter).

Hayes: He was the librarian in Georgia at that time, Georgia State maybe.

Cody: No, the University of Georgia.

Shinn: At Athens.

Cody: So he had been on the Vatican cataloging project and then he went to the University of Chicago.

Shinn: Yes I think so.

Cody: He was Dean of the library school there I believe.

Shinn: Yes. Just an incredible individual, no doubt about it. And they, I’m so glad they named that the Randall Library, I really am because that just fits.

Cody: Every once in a while things just fall in place as they should.

Shinn: They really did at that point. But I admired the man, I really did and just enjoyed chatting with him occasionally. He gave me a few things from Palmara where he visited, but he was really an enjoyable person to be around. But you didn’t mess with him. He and Ralph Brauer would have gotten along fine (laughter).

Hayes: Well, did you meet Ralph that early in the 60s, early 60s.

Shinn: Sherm, I don’t remember what year it was, but it was early and I think it was before we became part of the university and I’ll tell you what it was about. La Gioconda, you know the Museum of Art in Washington finally got Leonardo da Vinci’s Gioconda and a guy came down from there with Claude Howell’s help to give a lecture on the Gioconda. Ralph Brauer was there and afterwards, we met. I don’t know how, but anyway we started talking about medieval Europe and I was talking about _________ and all this sort of thing and we just kept on (laughter) so Leonardo da Vinci brought us together (laughter).

Hayes: The fact that you could put up with Germans made a big difference.

Shinn: Yeah because I did understand, you just sometimes learn you have to treat Germans like other people with ____________ with a grain of salt (laughter).

Cody: You mentioned Claude Howell too. What are your recollections of Claude?

Shinn: Well, Claude is one of the first people I met, he was Chair of the Art Department, and we dealt with younguns between us a little bit because I was interested in creative younguns who sometimes get left out on a limb and he seemed to be interested in the same kind so we talked occasionally and tried to help out younguns.

Hayes: What do you mean by younguns, tell us what that is.

Shinn: Anybody that is born after 1934 (laughter). If you were born 1934 and earlier, you’re an oldie (laughter).

Hayes: But you had an interest in individuals.

Shinn: Oh very much.

Hayes: Who were kind of out of sync. Is that the way to say it?

Shinn: Well, you were talking about the bell curve last night, remember. The middle of the bell curve, they don’t fall there, but they’re fascinating because they don’t fall there, they’re different, they think differently, they solve problems differently, they create things that never were or were never thought about by anybody. They’re exciting, so I like folks like that.

Hayes: Did you find in your philosophy classes those people would surface towards you in the sense that they were interested in philosophy or did you seek them out in other venues?

Shinn: Well, I’m reluctant to tell you this story unless I know if this is x-rated film. I mean what kind of words can we use on here. They do surface and let me tell you how and I’ll go ahead and use the word because it’s not mine, but I will quote for you. Had this young lady in class and she sat there without a lot of talk or anything, just sort of a protoplasm you know. But then toward the end of the year when I give one of my exams, you know I don’t give a paper test. I don’t have it mimeographed or anything else. I just write it on the board and give them as long as they want and sometimes they stayed until 3 in the morning or whatever because I never liked timed tests. And so I finished writing on the board and turned around and this little girl, she was small, little, black hair and she says, “Fuck.” And I said not here, on your own time. Broke her up and then, and she didn’t do well, but she came to another class and she was a great student. So sometimes all it takes is just you know, how to turn a remark and you can’t be upset by any language you hear a student use. You just can’t because first of all, most of the time, they’re trying to get your attention or they’re trying to upset you or something like that, you don’t pay any attention to it. Just go on like they never said it (laughter). But anyway, but they do. Chad Adams showed up in a logic class and began to question this, that and other. You know he’d come up and beat his fist on the table and all the rest. I knew I had a good one then (laughter). But if they’re not feisty a little bit, then I worry about them because I’m not so sure they’re going to do well. They need to have a little fire about them. And I don’t know how else to say that, but those that have that, show up and you don’t have to look for them.

Hayes: It was a very controversial time period and I didn’t know if Wilmington, UNCW, had students…

Shinn: Oh yes. There’s a famous instance about that. We had Cambodia, you know the bombing there and Kent State happened at the same time. Well place was just in a turmoil and we had folks showing up on our campus that weren’t our students wanting to burn the flag and storm administration and all the rest. We were small enough so we knew that they weren’t. And I wish I could remember this youngun’s name, I can see his face now. He was student body president. He called a student body forum up on the second floor of, you know, they named it after a student at Chapel Hill, James Hall second floor of Hinton James?. Bill Wagoner was there, everybody was there and his first words were, “Anybody can speak here who is a student, a faculty member or administrator or staff. No one else”. Shut them right off. What that crowd ended up doing, the students did this now, is they decided, we need not to talk or burn flags or anything like that, we needed to go to Washington to see our congressmen and our senators and find out what’s going on. So they elected from that body representatives to go to Washington and Bill Wagoner said, I’ll get you in and he did. He made phone calls and made sure we saw Sam Ervin who was the greatest. Some of those other guys, they didn’t even want to talk to us. They let us talk to their aides.

Hayes: Did you go?

Shinn: Oh yeah (laughter). I wouldn’t have missed that, but I didn’t say anything. I let the students talk. And it was interesting. We had a crowd up there at Sam Ervin’s office from Charlotte who were anti-anything. I mean they were anti-government, they were anti-anything and trying to give Sam Ervin a hard time and then we had our students and our students said, now Senator Ervin, we’re not here to say anything bad about government. What we want to know is, is it legal for the President to call for bombing on Cambodia. And Sam says, yes it is because the Constitution says he has that right. We asked him about Kent State. He says, well I don’t know everything there is to know about Kent. We’re still investigating that, but I can tell you that it was a tragedy and yeah, no question about it. He was the only one in Washington who spoke straight, who didn’t try to skirt the issue or anything else. So his image rose up.

Cody: The students learned a lot from that trip.

Shinn: No question about it. It was the perfect thing, it was the only institution in this county that did that. That got to the President. Bill Wagoner made sure. But I was proud of them, I really was. Hodges, Tom Hodges was that youngun’s name. And I think now he sells insurance or something there in town. Good youngun, good youngun.

Cody: You've had a lot of good ones, some of the students went on to seminary and students that have kept in touch with you.

Shinn: Oh yeah, and they still call once in a while or come see me, which is always great. One youngun, Mike, Roman Catholic, showed up in my Old Testament course ready to fight because he knew I wasn’t a Roman Catholic, therefore I couldn’t be any good (laughter).

Hayes: What did you consider yourself, that’s what I’m saying.

Shinn: That’s a good question because, I guess it would be a cross between a Zen Buddhist and a Lutheran and a Hissitte_____.

Hayes: I’m glad I asked (laughter). You were talking about this young man.

Shinn: Yes, Mike Plant. No one in his whole family, I mean forever, had ever been to a college. His father was in the military from Fayetteville, came to UNCW and Mike’s questions, I knew he was belligerent so I said, man, let’s go to lunch. So we went to Hong Kong and you know we talked and pretty soon, he found out he really didn’t have any gripes with me (laughter). What we were there to do, of course, was to look at the Old Testament in Hebrew, not in English or Roman Catholic or any other kind of thing. Moses was not a Methodist or a Baptist or a Roman Catholic or any of those you see. So we became close. He was just a real helpful guy. He helped do all kinds of things around.

Hayes: What do you mean from Hebrew? You mean you started from original sources, but the students didn’t have to use Hebrew.

Shinn: Oh yes they did.

Hayes: Wow.

Shinn: Their research paper was one Hebrew word and I gave it to them. I gave them the alphabet, taught them how to use the Hebrew lexicon.

Cody: I learned how to use the Hebrew lexicon.

Shinn: Yes, you see and they went to the library. They found the Hebrew word and then they found the passages in the Old Testament where the Hebrew word was used and then they wrote a research paper and it was a research paper. It was not a term paper. I told them I didn’t want a term paper. I said you cannot go to an encyclopedia and find this. And they turned out some incredible things which show, you know research is not done by undergraduates, get serious you see. Anybody can do research. A 3-year old can do research if you sort of train him right (laughter).

Hayes: But Hebrew though.

Shinn: No, it’s not that difficult. I said you know one word and they found it and then they worked on it. They were very proud of themselves after that.

Cody: Right.

Shinn: No, I still have some of those papers around here somewhere that were done. But Mike then when he finished there decided he wanted to go to Harvard so I helped him get to Harvard. He graduated from Harvard Divinity. First youngun in his whole family, you know, ever to graduate from college, much less from Divinity School and Harvard. Harvard loved him because Michael is just sort of a natural youngun that went after stuff and loved research. So then he went to Duke for his Ph.D., but dropped out because they wouldn’t let him and I’ll never forget, they wouldn’t let him swap his, they don’t have major stuff, but concentration areas and he was more interested in a political and this type of thing and they wouldn’t let him do that. They’d take his tuition grant away or something. And I fussed and fumed and all the rest … didn’t do any good, so he dropped out and now he’s a political analyst, lives in West Virginia, has his own two- engine airplane, flies all over the country helping people, you know, get to be governor, and, and, and, and just an incredible guy, but intelligent. Oh my goodness, yes. Mike Plante. He’s one of those younguns that have done well. I’m proud of Jeremy Phillips and I’m going down to perform a ceremony for him pretty soon. Jeremy worked at Winter Park Drugstore. His family told him right after he graduated from high school they wanted him to get a job. He said, “No, I’m go to college.” “No, no you’re not.” He said, you watch, but we’re not going to help you. Okay, that’s fine. So he detailed cars, worked at Winter Park Drugstore for four years to put himself through school, super guy. Then ended up in the Boy Scouts and now I think he’s working for the Committee of a Hundred. Yeah.

Cody: So you’re going to perform his wedding ceremony?

Shinn: Yes.

Cody: You performed my wedding ceremony.

Shinn: That’s right.

Cody: You have any idea how many years (laughter).

Shinn: Just got back from doing one yesterday. I don’t know, but I don’t do that for everybody.

Cody: Well I feel like I’m one of the privileged few.

Shinn: I don’t mind doing that for people I know. I don’t like to do that for people I don’t know because I feel like they can get somebody else.

Hayes: You’re not a hired gun.

Shinn: Do you remember Lil Abner? Marrying Sam? Well I’m not Marrying Sam (laughter). I will not be pulled apart by two mules (laughter).

Cody: Well how do you go about, well I know having been through one, but when somebody comes and asks you to perform their ceremony, you ask them to write vows?

Shinn: Yeah, I say okay, we’re not going to do stock unless you absolutely twist my arm and threaten me with a gun or something. I said because a lot of the language there is not your language. I say it’s not you, I would prefer that you sit down with one another and work out the two most important things in a marriage ceremony; namely your vows which are the content of your covenant. By the way that’s a parity covenant, not a _____ covenant and most people don’t know the difference, but there’s a big one.

Cody: Well tell us.

Shinn: Okay, a parity covenant is a covenant between two equals. It is sealed by gifts and vows. And that’s the kind you want in a marriage. The suzerainity covenant is between unequals, God and man, the King and peasant, or master and slave and that's where you get the “obey” from in the old vows, you see, which I hope people don’t use anymore because you’re not supposed to because you can obey God, that’s fine. Everybody should do that, but each other? No, no. If you love one another, you don’t worry about obey, you don’t have to mess with that because again, you’re equals. So you know I sometimes talk about that. I did yesterday for Chad and his wife because that’s an important distinction. (Laughter) What were we asking about?

Cody: How you set the wedding ceremony, about helping people organize.

Shinn: Well I do, and I say now here’s some examples and I have the Moravian, and I have the Roman Catholic and I have the Presbyterian and the Methodist, and the Baptist and there’s not much spittin difference between them unless of course, Roman Catholic, they do Mass.

Cody: You said there were two things that were important, the vows…

Shinn: The vows and the rings. Because the rings you see are the gifts that seal the covenant and oh by the way, the suzerainity covenant you seal it with blood.

Cody: Ooh, another good reason not to…

Shinn: (Laughter) That’s right.

Hayes: Except that you were talking, many marriages were arranged and so it was a suzerainity covenant? That was not an uncommon arrangement.

Shinn: Well I recognize that and of course, it was not uncommon in the 19th century for the woman to obey the man and be a slave. That don’t make a good marriage because nobody likes to be a slave. I wouldn’t and I’m not going to treat other people like that either and so I can understand what there might have been blood shed (laughter) with the slave revolting. But it doesn’t make a good arrangement.

Hayes: What about the lady in Southport, was it Mary?

Shinn: Yes.

Hayes: Interesting story.

Shinn: Oh super, super lady. Yeah I remember Mary very well showing up at the dig over there in Charleston, North Carolina, which most people don’t know. I have a couple of artifacts from that. I have the only 17th century coin ever found in North Carolina and it was found over there on that site by a student. We were digging away underneath the floor of the 18th century house.

Cody: Tell me again, this was in Southport?

Shinn: No this was Charleston, North Carolina. Now don’t confuse that with South Carolina because they went there later.

Cody: And they’re still there.

Shinn: Yeah, they’re still there, that’s right. But anyway we were digging away and one of the younguns says, what are the chances of finding a coin in here and I said oh about 3 million to 1. He said I want my 3 million and he turned up with a rose Habernia, which is just fantastic. But anyway…

Hayes: But what about archeology. Why were you doing archeology.

Shinn: Oh, I had taken a couple of trips over to Israel to do archeology over there and taken students with me. Mary is one of them. And you know at that time, we had no archeology at the university and yet all these fantastic sites around and the guy we had at Brunswick left and went to South Carolina so we couldn’t get him and we knew about where Charleston, North Carolina was because we had some early maps and we went walking over there one day with some students and one of the students…we couldn’t find anything, we were out in the field, and one of the students says, hey there’s a pile of brick over there. And we went over there and looked at the pile and sure enough there it was, part of the old 18th century house which we got the state of North Carolina to dig for us a little bit. They’d come down a week and then go back for a year and come back for another week. We gave that up and finally Tom Laufield got there and he took over and that was good.

Hayes: Didn’t he just retire?

Shinn: Yes, yeah he went down there with his new…is he married yet?

Hayes: Well he left with somebody.

Shinn: Well he’s been with her for a while, but I mean I didn’t know whether they’d marry or whether they were still living together, but she’s a neat lady.

Hayes: Was this in Central America?

Shinn: No, this was in Barbados.

Hayes: I knew it was exotic.

Shinn: Yep, yep.

Cody: So you said you took trips to the Holy Land.

Shinn: Yeah.

Cody: About how many students would go?

Shinn: I don’t really know the number, but it was right around 10 or 12 and had three trips, one in ’67 right before I came to Wilmington College. I went with Bunny Boyd. That’s a picture of him over there standing in Arad [ancient city in southern Israel].

Cody: I wondered about that picture.

Shinn: Yeah, that’s when we found the Yahweh Altar, that’s the only Yahweh Altar ever discovered in Israel. We found that in Arad, we didn’t expect it. It wasn’t supposed to be there, there it was. And then the other two trips were at Be’er Sheva and a little place up on the coast, Herzliyya. Yeah, I wanted to take the students because I can go over there and dig anytime I want to, but that’s no fun. Take younguns that had never been there before. It is great to see the culture shock. Take them through that old market down there in Jerusalem, you know where the sheep head is in the gutter and the flies on the meat, you know, oh it’s wonderful stuff (laughter). But yeah, I don’t know. They seemed to derive a great deal from that, that you can’t find any place else. And we just didn’t dig, but we traveled too. Usually what we did is we dug first. Then we’d travel over the country to see the whole place as much as we could and it was good for them to see that. It’s an incredible place. No other place on earth like it. You have three climate zones in a space of about oh 60 miles and the terrain is incredible, the Dead Sea, and then Jerusalem up on the hill, up on the mountain, just incredible.

Hayes: Getting them to go somewhere was a challenge, was it the same then. Was it really hard, to pull teeth to get kids to go with you.

Shinn: What was hard was getting the money for them to go. The students were quite willing. I wouldn’t say everyone. There were some younguns that just don’t want to go anywhere or do anything. They’re satisfied in their nest and that’s where they’re going to stay. Okay, I’m not happy with that, but anyway (laughter) whatever. But yeah, finances were a problem. It was interesting though, you know I had them from all over the place, Charlotte. We had some farmer younguns go, which is great to see. Had one youngun that did not believe when we were digging at Be’er Sheva that he should wear his hat because he’d been farming out in North Carolina. He had never worn a hat in his whole life. He ended up with sunstroke in the hospital. And I said, hey now maybe you’ll pay attention (laughter).

Cody: And you also gave special extra credit for students who would get a passport.

Shinn: Oh absolutely. You can’t force a youngun to get a passport. I think one student took me to say that, I didn’t, but anyway, he ended up in the Dean’s office and I got a note from the Dean with another problem (laughter). No I didn’t say you had to have one, I said you ought to have one. It’s good to travel anywhere in the world. Well there’s some countries you can’t obviously that are on the list, but I said also, it’s positive identification. I said, you need a passport. But anyway…

Cody: And when an opportunity arose to go, they were all ready.

Shinn: Yeah, I said what if Aunt Susie calls you up next week and says, oh, I’m going to Paris at the end of the week, you want to go with me. I said how are you going to get a passport in four days, I said you ain’t. Even the senator can’t get you a passport in four days. So some did and have traveled and done very well.

Hayes: You were sending a signal that said this is important.

Shinn: Oh, it is. If you’re going to graduate school at all and you look at applications and you see all these younguns with very good grades, excellent GRE scores and that’s it and then you got this other youngun here who’s got the SAT scores, and I mean the GRE scores, he’s got good grades, but he’s been all over the world or a lot of the world, he’s published. I said, you know, which student you gonna take. No contest. You’re going to get that one because he’s been around a little bit and knows some things and that’s helpful.

Cody: Right, learns from life experiences. And you've done some things to encourage younger readers.

Shinn: Oh we start in the womb. One of my psychologists says, there is no research to, you know, to corroborate the fact that you read to the youngun in the womb. I said, well in this case, research be damned because it is very difficult to do that anyway. I said who’s going to be in the control group on that one, you know. I said, reading does matter to the fetus. I said I think what happens there is that the reading voice is different from the speaking voice and I think what occurs is when you get ready to go to bed and read to the youngun, is you have a soothing voice and they hear that in there and they hear that for month after month after month, then when they get born and they hear it again, it’s pleasant. And I said I think that’s maybe what’s operating. I don’t know that, no I’m not a researcher and I haven’t proved it.

Cody: You believe it.

Shinn: Yeah I do, cause I've seen results of it. And then of course, you know, you don’t stop reading to the youngun after they’re born. You continue and it seems to help a lot. However, Tom Smith tried reading Greek to his youngun and I’m not sure that worked very well, but anyway (laughter).

Hayes: You had an active program where you carried books with you.

Shinn: Oh yeah, that’s the Parnassus on Wheels. Do you know the little book by Christopher Morley, Parnassus on Wheels?

Hayes: I don’t think I know that.

Shinn: I’ll have to get you a copy of that to put in your library. Gotta educate my librarian. You must know that book in the library. I mean I’m sure you have it in the library. He wrote two volumes. One is Parnassus on Wheels. The other one is The Haunted Bookshop. But I got the idea for calling it that from that because here’s this guy who had this wagon and horse. He had these books and he carried it to all of the farm families, you see. Must have been around New York somewhere.

Cody: Early bookmobile.

Shinn: Early bookmobile. And he spent the night with the farmer and his family and sell books. Pretty soon we had these libraries grew up all over these farms, you see, around upper New York and around, you see and as a result, we had all these incredible younguns then showing up at colleges and universities because they had a library in their house. So I said okay, we need to do something about that because younguns they go to school and they read in school, but they don’t have anything to read back at the house. They don't have newspapers, they don’t have magazines. Oh, they have TV, but they don’t have any books or anything. I said I want younguns to have books for themselves, you know, to take and read. And so yeah, I used to have them in the back of my van and every time I’d see younguns playing in the yard, I’d just roll in there, meet the parents and give books. I didn’t have a whole lot of time to do that, but I had a great time. I never will forget in Magnolia, North Carolina, you know where that is. Right up the road going to Rose Hill. I don’t know where I was coming back from. Anyway, we were in Magnolia and I saw two black younguns riding their bicycles in the yard and dad was out there weed eating and the father was very suspicious of me. I said first, I am not a book salesman. I don’t want to charge you a cent for anything. Well, that didn’t help a whole lot. I said, I will not call you, I don’t want to know your names or anything else. I said that’s not my purpose. Thank goodness about that time, Momma came and when Momma listened, everything was fine. So I just put the tailgate down of the van you know, and younguns hopped up on there and began to pick books and then, as if on cue, both of them opened them up and began to read out loud and that was great. That was just super. I thought I’d died and gone to heaven (laughter). I wish people would read out loud more. You know in schools, the one-room schoolroom. You know you used to have where all the grades were in one room. They used to read out loud and it sounded exactly like bedlam in there. But they could read well and they could pronounce things and they could, you know, I think it really helped. I really do.

Cody: I saw Chris Fonvielle …

Shinn: You tell that stinker I called him, I haven’t gotten a call back from him. He’s one of my younguns that got caught over there at that dig in Charleston, North Carolina. He knows Mary too, I’ll bet.

Cody: Right. He was remembering when his wife arranged a surprise party when he got his Ph.D.

Shinn: Yes.

Cody: He remembered that you came and brought books for his children.

Shinn: Okay, okay. Well, that’s good.

Hayes: He’s doing very well.

Shinn: Oh, Chris is a super youngun.

Hayes: He really, I think, adopted a lot of your teaching style and enthusiasm.

Shinn: (Laughter) I ruined him.

Hayes: He did original research about the Civil War, puts great pressure on us and is one who is still teaching.

Cody: His classes fill up.

Shinn: I’ll bet, I’ll bet.

Hayes: And he hustles out in the community which I think not many professors see that as a venue.

Shinn: Well they ought to. If you don’t have relationships in your community, you have just locked yourself off from all aid in any sense. You know there’s something you always need from folks in the community. Ideas, you need to talk over something with somebody who’s an expert in so and so. Or sometimes you need money. Well, where you going to get it? You going to write a grant. But no they’re unbelievable resources out there and just absolutely must have them. Any university that wants to sit itself out from a community and build a wall around it and sit over there like in their ivory tower, that’s not a university, never was that way. The medieval university, when they had a Ph.D., you know, who was doing his final orals, invited the whole community and everybody came in you see and had a chance to ask that youngun questions. I like that, I think it’s great. So it was never that way in the beginning – as a separate kind of thing over there that stood apart from the community.

Hayes: I don’t know that it is now. All I know is that in the field of history, which your specialty might be early history, doesn’t seem to be the same response as Chris which is, you know, Civil War. His book is on Fort Fisher.

Shinn: But in early history, there is a block that a young lady owns in Wilmington that came out of one of the ziggurat in Turkey and if you don’t know your community, you won’t know about that (laughter). Yeah, we had it for a while and then it went back to its owner. Every time you meet people, you find out things that you did not know and you are surprised continually (laughter).

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