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Interview with Mary Lou Hearn, December 6, 2001 | UNCW Archives and Special Collections Online Database

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Interview with Mary Lou Hearn, December 6, 2001
December 6, 2001
Mrs. Hearn, a high school teacher of chemistry and physics in Nottoway, Virginia, discusses her childhood in Wilmington, specifically her visits to Mrs. Sarah Kenan's home. Mrs. Hearn's uncle worked as a chauffeur for the Kenans, and later as Sarah Kenan's caretaker, and as a child Mrs. Hearn would visit often. Her uncle, Denver Clarence "Pat" Padrick and his wife, Laura, occupied a carriage house on the Kenan House grounds. The carriage house is now called the "Padrick House." The Kenan House now is state-owned and serves as the home of the university chancellor's and his or her family.
Phys. Desc:

Interviewee: Hearn, Mary Lou Interviewer: Lack, Adina / Hayes, Sherman Date of Interview: 12/6/2001 Series: Voices of UNCW

Hayes: Good morning. This is Sherman Hayes, university librarian at UNCW in Wilmington, North Carolina, along with Adina Lack, archivist at the Randall Library and we are interviewing today Mary Lou Hearn and we’re in the office in the advancement area. Mary Lou has graciously agreed to talk with us about some of her memories and conversations with relatives who were intimately involved with the Kenan family who, I guess we’ll let her tell us about that, the fact that the Kenan House is now at the university, how the Kenan family fit in here.

Hearn: My uncle, who we called Pat, his actual name was Denver Clarence so for obvious reasons, he was nicknamed Pat (laughter). His last name was Padricks so it was very Irish and he started out as her chauffeur long before I was a twinkle in my father’s eye (laughter) and as her mental capacity deteriorated with age, he, I think, accepted more responsibility for the care of the physical facility of the mansion and for her medical care.

Hayes: So let’s talk a little bit for the people listening in about who we’re talking about when we say “her”. This is …

Hearn: Sarah Kenan.

Hayes: Sarah Kenan who was the primary resident of what we now at the university call the Kenan House and so when was your uncle…chauffeur at least implies an automobile or was it even before that that he was …

Hearn: Well, I was born in ’44 and I know in my entire lifetime he worked for Miss Sarah and I think that when my aunt and uncle married, which was in the early 30’s, that he was working for her then. So as far as I know, his entire career was as her employee. And I have memories as a very small child of going with him over to check on her during the day when her…this was at a point where her mind was very childlike.

Hayes: Towards the end of her life.

Hearn: Yes.

Hayes: We’re talking about then in the 50’s?

Hearn: The very early 50’s, maybe late 40’s and one of my memories is being shown the back porch and the reason I was shown the back porch is because Miss Sarah had finally let Uncle Pat update the kitchen and she would not let him though get rid of the appliances that had been taken out of the kitchen and that was the icebox and the old wood stove so she had had him put them on the back porch in case they might ever need them because ostensibly she was worried about maybe not being able to afford what she had and so she would keep those in case she needed them (laughter).

Hayes: Now you called Miss Kenan, Miss Sarah and was that the term that was used for…?

Hearn: Yes, it was not Mrs. Kenan, it was Miss Sarah.

Hayes: And in the time that your uncle was the chauffeur, were there other people who lived in the house or was it always just …

Hearn: It was always just Miss Sarah and the household help and the nurse.

Hayes: Okay, so who were some of the other…so the house had a set of people.

Hearn: Well when I remember, there was a cook who also did some minor cleaning and there was a nurse. It was very difficult because of Miss Sarah’s mind to keep help and the cook was there, I think, for an extended period of time, but the nurses seemed to be ones that had a difficult time staying and that seemed to be a constant turnover. Miss Sarah would not let them do deep cleaning. She would not let them paint or redecorate or anything like that.

I remember going in one time with him and when we were going up, we got to the balcony where the bedrooms are off of the balcony and there was a what-not table with family pictures and there was a little framed picture and the glass was cracked and I can remember thinking, “If that was at my momma’s house, she’d put that up or she’d buy a new glass. She would never set that out where guests could see a broken glass” (laughter) and I was old enough or wise enough I suppose to recognize the difference in financial capability which made it seem even more strange to me.

Hayes: Well what was the house as a young person then? I mean this was a monster house for you to come and visit, wasn’t it?

Hearn: It was like something out of the movies. I remember being fascinated with the library because there were so many books and I loved books.

Hayes: Now where was the library located at that time?

Hearn: The library was located, if you come in from the side entrance where the drive…the library would be the room on your left which is where there are bookcases in the wall now, but as I remember and I may be faulty in my memory or it may have changed, but I remember just wall to wall books, lots of books.

Hayes: Interesting.

Hearn: And there’s only one wall now with shelving so I don’t know if that changed or if my memory is just as a child, I was so overwhelmed with so many books.

Hayes: Right, and that was interesting that you mentioned that side entrance because that was really an auto entrance, kind of something we don’t see anymore so your uncle, I guess, would have driven up there as a pattern…

Hearn: And taken her out of the car. Another fascinating thing to me as a child is what I call the secret tunnel because in the garage, on the side of the garage, there’s a pass way that came from the back of my aunt and uncle’s yard in through alongside the garage and into the auto area so that’s how he went back and forth.

Hayes: Let’s talk about where your aunt and uncle lived then. They lived in the house that’s on …

Hearn: 17th Street.

Hayes: On 17th Street that was owned by the Kenans at that point?

Hearn: Yes, it was part of the estate.

Hayes: Now did they call it something or was it just the house?

Hearn: It was just their house.

Hayes: Just their house because I think we now call it the…

Hearn: The Padrick House.

Hayes: The Padrick House which is named for them because they were there for..

Hearn: Forever.

Hayes: Forever. So as a child, you would come and even stay there or visit there? That was really your…

Hearn: Oh yes, even as an adult, I stayed there (laughter).

Hayes: Because they were still going.

Hearn: Well, Miss Sarah had said that they could stay in that house as long as they wanted the house. It was not theirs, but that they had the right of occupancy I suppose until they no longer wanted to stay there and after Uncle Pat died and Aunt Laura lived there for a number of years by herself and then her health failed and she went into the Catherine Kennedy Home, but we could not get her to give back the house, to leave to take her things out. So it actually sat with her things in it for three or four years before she finally accepted the fact that she would not go back there.

Hayes: Now had the house at that point changed hands to the university?

Hearn: Yes.

Hayes: All right, so the university ….

Hearn: The university was very gracious to let her stay there and Dr. Wagoner and his wife were in a lot of ways caretakers of my aunt. They really saw to a lot of her needs because none of us lived here and when her health deteriorated, they checked on her almost daily.

Hayes: The sense that an employee would be given a house, would that have been a normal action for this kind of stratosphere of persons? I mean would the cook also…was the cook provided a space?

Hearn: The help lived in the house upstairs.

Hayes: They lived upstairs, okay.

Hearn: In the servants’ quarters.

Hayes: And I think they owned some other houses too in that area or was that the only one the Kenans…

Hearn: Well Miss Jessie lived at the other end of the block.

Hayes: The wife’s house next door and that was a sister, right?

Hearn: Yes.

Hayes: Now Mrs. Kenan had several children, is that right?

Hearn: Miss Sarah had no children. Miss Sarah married her first cousin.

Hayes: Oh.

Hearn: And they never had children. Miss Jessie had children.

Hayes: Okay because I know there’s still Kenans involved with the university and have come back and talked about the house so that was …

Hearn: The Kenans that were involved with Uncle Pat and Aunt Laura’s golden years were Frank and James and growing up, we thought Frank and James were more our parents’ contemporaries only to discover, my sister and I are a good bit apart and we thought they were close to my sister’s age when in actuality they were Aunt Laura’s contemporaries so they were never willing to help us get her to give up anything and actually turn the house back. We were trying to force her to let us close it because we were concerned about the things in there and we knew that she would never be able to go back from a health standpoint. But they were on her side (laughter).

Hayes: So those Kenans were the sons of …

Hearn: The brother.

Hayes: Of the brother Kenan who did not live necessarily in either house. Okay I just want to get that because the lineage…there is still Kenan involved. I think one of them lives in Atlanta.

Hearn: James lived in Atlanta and Frank in Durham and James was really the one that most often, I think he was the one that actually was the person that handled the finances, continuing the retirement income.

Hayes: And so he was, let me just get this right, his relationship to …

Hearn: He was Miss Sarah’s nephew, he and Frank.

Hayes: Based on a brother and their father would have been, what was his name I wonder.

Hearn: If you had to ask me (laughter), the other sister was Mary Lou, but I can’t remember his name. I’d have to look it up.

Hayes: So there were actually four …

Hearn: Four that I know about.

Hayes: Four in that generation of Kenans that were, two that actually…did the other sister marry someone too or not?

Hearn: Mary Lily? Yes, she was the oldest sister I think and she married Henry Flagler.

Hayes: That’s right, that’s the connection, Henry Flagler.

Hearn: And then married second Robert Bingham and that was not a pleasant situation.

Hayes: Right, I think there’s even been a book on her life.

Hearn: There’s been a number of books written about, well the Binghams.

Hayes: And then, of course, Flagler himself was a very famous, the Coastline Railroad. And so those two sisters, when you would visit, I mean, were they back and forth? Were these close sisters?

Hearn: They were elderly, very elderly at that point. I don’t remember that Miss Sarah had visitors other than close family because in my lifetime, her mental capacity was very childlike and eccentric. I remember that she would get real upset with Uncle Pat and demand that he only buy light bulbs if they were on sale. Several times before she got to the point that they could not take her out because of her mental deficiency, she would get lost. He would take her and drop her at a spot and say “Now Miss Sarah, I’m going to stay here and you do your shopping and I’ll be here waiting for you” and she would get disoriented and the police would bring her back to him because she couldn't remember. So she really…today we might even think that she might have Alzheimer’s where then we just said dementia due to old age.

Hayes: Right, right, but let’s ask the question from some of the stories you’ve heard from your uncle about when she wasn’t in this state because I think that wasn’t her whole existence there. If he had helped her since the 1930’s, she wasn’t always …what was the style of, you know, that level of society, any stories that he would talk about.

Hearn: The thing that interested me, it’s not so much that he talked because he was not…he was very ethical shall we say and he never shared things other than when she was suffering from dementia and he was trying to deal with that kind of thing. But the thing that I note from those times, she had a lot of things, in what I would consider, excess because she could afford to do that and she would get bored with them. And so decide “I don’t want these anymore”.

I was recounting a story last night. I have very small hands as did my aunt and my sister does. Miss Sarah had very small hands and she, at one point, decided, and this was in the probably the 40’s, that she didn't want her gloves anymore so she had my aunt come over and she gave her all of her gloves, every pair. There were just gloves of every…they were all good quality, excellent quality, every kind of skin glove you can imagine, every color you can imagine. We have opera gloves in forest green and opera gloves in navy blue. It was just incredible to me. Or she would tire of something and call my aunt and say “Come over, I have something for you” and she’d give her a mink stole or a fur cape.

Hayes: Oh my goodness.

Hearn: It was just real interesting.

Hayes: So from that, we can determine that she had purchased the gloves at a time when she was fine and that would have been a normal pattern to have a wide array of gloves because in her prime, was this an entertaining house, a sense of that? Did you ever have a sense that this was a ….

Hearn: I never did. I never did. I think they were very family oriented, but I don’t ever remember either my aunt or my uncle indicating that there were gala parties or that kind of thing. It was much more family oriented.

Hayes: You talked about this interesting path. Was this truly an underground passageway or was it created more by the bushes and so forth?

Hearn: Oh no, it is actually a part of the garage so the house that Uncle Pat and Aunt Laura live in was actually part of the estate. I don’t think it was just an added on feature. I think it was more of a guest house or maybe even a house just intended for employees and their family, but it actually, when the garage was constructed, it was constructed so that there would be a passage from the enclosed backyard of their house into the actual grounds of the estate or the mansion.

Hayes: Because as I’ve tried to visualize it and somebody listening to this can get a picture that that edge of the estate has a large wall around it and that has been there pretty much forever.

Hearn: If you took in Aunt Laura and Uncle Pat’s house in addition to the mansion and its grounds, you’d have a large square and so the back corner is the actual property for their house.

Hayes: And on the other side of their house, your aunt and uncle’s house, was the kind of alleyway so that set the square out.

Hearn: Exactly.

Hayes: In fact the Wise House which is next door completes the block so the Kenans really owned the complete…

Hearn: No they didn't. There was a house between them.

Hayes: There was a house between them? Is it still there?

Hearn: Where the parking lot is for the Chancellor’s house now, where the parking lot is was a house.

Hayes: Not owned by either one of the sisters. Oh, that’s interesting. I didn't know…

Hearn: No, and if my memory serves me correctly, it belonged to Judge Mintz, I think.

Hayes: It was a small house?

Hearn: Much smaller, it was not a small house, but it was certainly not on the scale that their house is on.

Hayes: And the time that you were there, was that large church next door? What was the next block down? Do you remember?

Hearn: Where Saint Andrew Mortuary is.

Hayes: Okay, going that way across 17th.

Hearn: Were houses. Now the Episcopal Church was there. Across the street in front of Miss Sarah and that lot was Temple Baptist church and it was a clapboard and it burned and when it burned, they bought the property across the street on the side street from Miss Wise’s house, Miss Jessie’s and they built Birdie Sanctuary.

Hayes: Was there housing that they took down for the sanctuary?

Hearn: I’m sure there was because there weren’t vacant lots which is why that parking lot they had, they bought a house and took that down and made that parking area.

Hayes: And now I think there’s a large house across the street.

Hearn: Well now there were always large houses, but the church property faced 17th.

Hayes: Oh, faced 17th, which is really undeveloped at this point.

Hearn: Right, right.

Hayes: Interesting. Caddy-corner now is a gas station.

Hearn: It’s always been a gas station as long as I can remember.

Hayes: Oh is that right? So that was the commercial point there that started, but the rest of it was really big residential and the road itself, of course, was not four lane. Was it two lane? Was your sense when you went to visit there…

Hearn: 17th Street was two lanes. It’s been enlarged considerably. Market Street, as long as I can remember, has always been just like it is.

Hayes: But the big trees and so forth were the same. I mean when you came to visit as a child, I’m trying to get a sense of was that developing as the primary artery already. It sounds like it was in the 40’s and 50’s.

Hearn: Well because it was Highway 17. It was the only national highway that went north to south so it’s always been pretty much the way it is.

Hayes: Let’s talk about the other duties that your uncle had. It sounded like he was a little bit more than just the chauffeur.

Hearn: Well he started out as the chauffeur and as her mind deteriorated, his responsibilities increased and he just became generally her caretaker because there weren’t…you know, Miss Jessie was getting old too and just gradually, he was there. He could do it and he did do it. Of course, he was in constant contact with family members.

Hayes: And Miss Jessie that you mentioned, did she also have someone in a role like your uncle?

Hearn: I don’t think so because she had children to see to her needs and as I remember, her personality was much more gentle than Miss Sarah’s.

INTERVIEWER 2: He had a handful. Could you spell Padrick?


Hayes: And we still call that the Padrick House and the university, the one listing in the university maintains the house, has updated the house I think significantly. It’s very nice and it uses it as a wonderful opportunity as faculty or visitors or temporary scholars come through the territory tied to the university, they rent it out to various units on a short-term basis. In fact, I, Sherman Hayes, spent a week there with my family as we were looking for housing after I was hired.

Hearn: Bless your heart (laughter).

Hayes: And it’s a very, very nice house. Don’t you think? I mean at the time, how would you describe that as just a house in the community.

Hearn: It was a very nice house.

Hayes: Not large. Would you say two bedroom? Is that what you would call it?

Hearn: It has such an interesting structure in that the back bedroom and the middle room are joined with doors in the closet so that was the place…I loved to play when I was little because it was a wonderful hiding place because if somebody didn't know the house, they wouldn't know that you could access both rooms through the closet (laughter). Really my family used it as a back bedroom and a front bedroom and the middle room was more of a den. It was the room with the closets. There were no closets in the front room or the back room.

INTERVIEWER 2: What was your aunt’s name?

Hearn: Laura.

INTERVIEWER 2: She’s related to you?

Hearn: Yes, she is my aunt. My father and Laura were brother and sister.

Hayes: Did your aunt and uncle have children as well?

Hearn: The had one child whom we called “Little Pat” who was deceased before I was born. My sister, who’s 11 years my senior, remembers Little Pat, but he was born with a heart anomaly and he died when he was about four and was a carbon copy, I have pictures, and he was a carbon copy of my uncle. He was like a little Pat.

Hayes: Interesting.

Hearn: And that was very, very hard for them. My aunt, I think today you’d say she had a nervous breakdown. They didn't call it that back then, but it was very, very difficult for her to give him up and if the child had been born today, they could have corrected it and that’s really sad.

Hayes: And your aunt, did she also, you think, help in the house at points?

Hearn: The only thing that I remember that she did is when Miss Sarah died, they…I don’t know if it was Frank or James, but one of them asked her if she would inventory the house and she agreed. She was a bookkeeper and worked for Sutton Council and she agreed to do that and when she went into the attic, the first trunk that she opened was just nothing but sterling silver. I remember her saying, “I called them and said I need to be bonded and I need somebody with me, that there’s just a fortune in that attic”. And that, I think, is the only direct thing other than just being there with Uncle Pat and helping him.

Hayes: So she was working full time which unto itself was a little unusual for that time period, but she was a trained bookkeeper that …and Sutton Council was…

Hearn: Furniture.

Hayes: That’s what I thought it was. Are they still going, Sutton?

Hearn: I think they went out of business.

Hayes: I think they did just a few years ago.

Hearn: I know they used to advertise in Colonial Homes (laughter) and I think they made a transition and then ultimately they just closed.

Hayes: Prior to your uncle working for Miss Sarah, is that the correct terminology, what did he do? Do you know?

Hearn: I have no idea. There are rumors in the family, absolutely no proof, that he had been married before and maybe had a child, but in my lifetime and in my sister’s lifetime, we were never told that that was the truth. I think I’m safe to say that I was my uncle’s favorite simply because I liked to do the things he liked to do and he liked to fish and I was very much a tomboy and I liked to fish too.

I can remember him taking me in the Packard in his black suit with his white starched shirt and his black tie and we would go to Lumina Pier and I would be in my jeans and tee shirt and he would be in his starched, well-pressed suit and shirt and we would fish. I could come home filthy and he would not have a speck on him. I never saw him when he was not in a suit with a white starched shirt. No matter what we were doing. And he never got dirty and I always came home just nasty (laughter). But he just had that aura about him. He had one night out with the boys.

Hayes: I wondered about what his schedule was, if he was really in a caretaker role for some of that and other times he was more active. What was his schedule like?

Hearn: He pretty much was on call 24 hours a day and in my lifetime he was just in and out all the time and when she was able to go out and about, he was at her beck and call no matter what time of day or night. Later on when she was not mobile in terms of leaving the home, he pretty much could do what he wanted to do as long as he was in constant contact with her.

Hayes: And did they have a phone very early in the house then between the big house and the …

Hearn: Yes and he would go back and forth through the tunnel and so he made sure the meals were served and they were on time and he would go back and forth and check with the nurses, you know, multiple times during the day and evening. But Thursday night was his night out (laughter).

Hayes: And how old was he when he died?

Hearn: I think Uncle Pat was in his mid-70’s when he died.

Hayes: So it was really from the 1930’s through the 50’s, that really was his career path and it was considered a good career I would guess at that time because he had a wonderful house and he would receive a salary in addition to that to live on?

Hearn: Yes, yes.

Hayes: Now can we talk a little bit about whether the current kind of yard and garden area near Padrick House, was that similar, do you remember that, as it’s currently constructed?

Hearn: When the university took the house, it needed desperately to be painted outside and there was an enormous bush, a woody hedge kind of shrub out there and there was just one and it was huge on the right of the walk between where the car pad was and the sidewalk steps, there was this enormous bush that covered up the whole front of the house and they took that down and then repaired some areas that needed to be repainted that my aunt had just never bothered to have repaired. It could have been repaired. Her mind wasn’t great either and during her later years, she just couldn't be bothered. So when they refurbished the house, that’s when they redid the front yard. There was never much yard.

Hayes: And you’re talking about the Padrick House? I just wanted to make sure for the person listening which house since we’re talking about a couple of houses.

Hearn: The grounds, Miss Sarah’s, hasn’t changed appreciably other than the garden in the back where the fountain is. I walked back there last night after dinner to see it because when I was a child, it was overgrown. There weren’t vines or anything, but there were weeds and there weren’t pretty flowers and you could tell that at one time it had been beautiful, but it had not been allowed to be kept up.

Hayes: And how about the extremely large side yard that was on the side towards the house which now has bushes and flowers and paths and so forth?

Hearn: It was basically very …manicured shrubs, but not lots of flowers, not cut flowers or perennials or anything like that. It was pretty much just evergreen shrubs.

Hayes: And who was taking care of that?

Hearn: They had a gardener.

Hayes: They did have a gardener.

Hearn: Not a live-in gardener, but a gardener that would come and take care of that. But she would not allow very much to be changed and so as the garden area in the back got overgrown, it just had to stay that way.

Hayes: What’s interesting is that in 1950 because she wouldn’t let anything change, in a sense you were still looking at it as if it was 1930, right?

Hearn: Exactly. She would not…you know I think probably the drapes on the windows were just dry rotted hanging there because she would not allow anything to be done.

Hayes: Now we have the interesting story that her nephew talks about of the famous painting by Bouguereau. Do you remember any of that story at all? In other words, some of the appointments in the house were actually fairly grand from earlier trips.

Hearn: When I went in last night and I looked in the dining room, I thought, you know the paintings that I remember, if I’m remembering correctly, are not the same because I remember very grand, very large portraits which I assumed then were family members that aren’t there anymore and they were in every room. But it was always kind of dismal when I could go in there because she wouldn't allow anything to be done and even as a child, I picked up on that it was much different there than it was at my house. There could not be a lot of activity which of course is what it would take to go in and clean periodically. You’d have to make noise and that was upsetting to her and she didn't want strangers in so it was very difficult.

Hayes: And what is your guess how old she was when she died? Was she very elderly?

Hearn: I would guess that she was close to 90.

Hayes: Yeah, so your time overlap with her was her last 20 years.

Hearn: Right, her golden years was when you would expect that her mind would not be at its best.

Hayes: We’re all hoping to avoid that (laughter).

Hearn: Or to go quickly (laughter).

Hayes: So your uncle came to her as a chauffeur, I’m trying to think, he must have been in his 30’s then, is that what your guess would be?

Hearn: My guess is that he probably was…in fact, I realized I needed dates because I have them in my genealogy, but I think he was born in the late 1890’s.

Hayes: So he was an experienced worker of some sort who applied and got this job and kept it. Did your aunt ever talk about, you know, what housing they were in before they took this?

Hearn: I can never remember even the family talking about because I think they married and they were older. I mean she was older, it was her first marriage when they married so I don’t think she ever lived as husband and wife anywhere but here.

Hayes: Oh, okay, well that was what I wondered, if this was her experience that… and what, as a chauffeur of a leading family, wealthy, eccentric, elderly person, who were his friends and buddies? In other words, I’m trying to get a sense of his other life besides…

Hearn: It’s interesting that you should ask that because “the boys” that he went out with on Thursday night, I never met a one of them. I only know that they went out and they played poker which, of course, was not legal (laughter) and I think he probably had a drink or two and so it was just unmentioned. You know it’s not one of those things that you could talk about (laughter). You just knew that on Thursday night, that was Uncle Pat’s night out and Aunt Laura didn't have a lot to say about it (laughter).

But I also was very smart and realized that if I really, really wanted something and my parents were not at all so inclined to give it to me that if I mentioned it to Uncle Pat, he’d find a way for me to get it, one way or the other. Now he might not buy the whole thing for me, but he would see if I saved enough toward it, that he would make up the difference which might be 75% of the cost, but he would see that I had what I wanted.

INTERVIEWER 2: Did you grow up in Wilmington?

Hearn: Yes.

INTERVIEWER 2: Near to them?

Hearn: No, not really. We lived out in Winter Park or almost to Winter Park. I spent a lot of time there though because I went to school at Forest Hills and in Chestnut and at the high school so it was very easy for me to walk to their house.

Hayes: Oh that’s right, the high school is just a few blocks, long blocks.

Hearn: Right and we all went to Trinity to church so it was very easy for me to go and come there and I spent a lot of time at their house.

Hayes: Were you welcome even though I know her mind was not as strong as you would like? Were you welcome in the house yourself? Did you have a sense of welcome?

Hearn: I had a feeling that she really wasn’t comprehending that there was even somebody there. And maybe she did know who I was and maybe that’s why it wasn’t an issue. I didn't go often, but when I would go, it would be with him to check on her, to check with the nurses or to see, talk to the cook about something so we’d be there on a business venture if you will and when I would see her, she was…it was very much like she wouldn’t even know who he was.

He just belonged to her because she recognized he was always there not unlike all of us dealing with elderly parents whose minds had gone. They just know you’re theirs because you are taking care of them, but to put a name to you would be very difficult.

Hayes: Now who was the cook? Was the cook also a long-term person that you knew?

Hearn: As I remember, it was, I don’t remember a name, but I don’t remember there being a lot of turnover there. I remember frustration, Uncle Pat talked about them being frustrated because they needed something like a real stove instead of a wood stove (laughter) and he was trying to get Miss Sarah to let him do it.

I can remember there was an awful lot of upkeep just because of the massive amounts of silver and crystal and china that they had in the butler’s pantry that had to continually be cared for. Of course, you washed everything by hand. You did everything manually because that was long before the days of dishwashers or super cleaners for silver or whatever and even if that had been available, I doubt Miss Sarah would have let them take advantage of that (laughter).

Hayes: Is there any sense of where her money came from, I mean if he had to be keep getting paid and she wasn’t that able, who…

Hearn: Frank and James were the ones that if Uncle Pat saw that there was a major need, then he would let them know and they would say yes, to go ahead and do it. I have a sense that they pretty much let him do what he needed to do without them getting real involved because he was ethical. I don’t think there was ever a time that he didn't look at everything from her perspective rather than his perspective.

Hayes: I’m trying to think, Padrick, is that Irish by chance?

INTERVIEWER 2: You said at the beginning that his name was Denver…

Hearn: Denver Clarence, D.C.

INTERVIEWER 2: He went by Pat?

Hearn: Yes.

Hayes: Denver Clarence Padrick, interesting because it’s almost like Patrick which sounds Irish, but it wouldn't necessarily have to be Irish.

Hearn: It is.

Hayes: It is Irish.

Hearn: They’re derivatives of the same thing. You know when you hear Paddy, that’s probably from Padrick or Padricke depending on where you are as to how it’s pronounced, but they’re all derivatives of the same.

Hayes: What are the cars that you remember driving in that your uncle was the chauffeur?

Hearn: (Laughter) As I remember when Miss Sarah would get a new car, then he was allowed to buy the old car and the one car that stands out in my memory is an old Packard because when my grandmother passed away in 1961 and all of us came to Wilmington for the funeral, I somehow was elected to be the driver. Now I was 16 (laughter) and I had to parallel park that old Packard and Joe was in the car with me, my cousin, and I remember it taking both of us to turn the steering wheel to parallel park in front of the funeral home down past the high school.

Hayes: So it shows your uncle must have been strong at least (laughter).

Hearn: Absolutely because they were large, very heavy cars, but very elegant and he kept his fishing gear in the trunk (laughter).

Hayes: So what do you think he replaced the Packard with? I wonder what he bought for her next.

Hearn: I am trying to remember. I think once Miss Sarah died, they no longer had black cars (laughter). They finally got, they had a blue car, a blue Buick at one point.

Hayes: But what do you think she had? She always wanted black cars?

Hearn: Always black and I’m sure they probably went to Cadillacs after Packards, but it was always very heavy and very large and black.

Hayes: And his pattern was…did he wear a uniform or did he have just this white shirt and tie?

Hearn: He wore a black suit.

Hayes: A hat or not a hat?

Hearn: I don’t remember him having a hat. Now he may have in the early 30’s, he may have had a hat. He may have even worn the jodhpurs, but in my lifetime, he wore always a black suit and a white starched shirt and a black tie.

Hayes: Was Mr. Kenan ever present?

Hearn: Not in my lifetime.

Hayes: And what about your uncle? Did he ever mention?

Hearn: Yes.

Hayes: He did mention that … so he worked for both of them.

Hearn: He worked for them when they were married before he died.

Hayes: And do we know, I mean from hearsay, did he die fairly young?

Hearn: By today’s standards, yes. I think he was a relatively young man. I don’t think he made it to what we consider golden years.

Hayes: Right, right, I’m sure we have records on that. He was a chauffeur for him, it would have been the same pattern? He would drive the husband as well because, you know, the image of driving the wife is common, but…

Hearn: Right, I am assuming that he drove them both. I only know factually that it was Miss Sarah.

Hayes: I’m going to ask you kind of a, I don’t know, strange question, but given the history of the south and the stratosphere they’re at, would it have been normal that the chauffeur would have been white or would other people have also had an African American butler? I’m only asking that because there’s a very famous movie called Driving Miss Daisy which is an interesting relationship of a southern woman and it just happens that the chauffeur is black and I just didn't know if that ever entered your mind.

Hearn: You know I have thought about that and I think at that point in time maybe post-1929 and just the changes that our country went through, I think that maybe that job that might have been traditionally black became not a color centered option. The other side of that is that very possibly because of the lack of education for blacks, drivers that had driver’s licenses, once that became a law, might not have been there. I don’t know.

Hayes: Plus the point the depression, a job is a good job is a good job is a good job. Like you say, some of the divisions of who did what may have broken down just because people wanted to work.

Hearn: I know that there was within the family never any feeling of being in a lower class position. Certainly there were many college educated members of our family at that point and there didn't seem to be any feeling…

Hayes: It was an honorable job and it sounds like he, later in his life, took on so much more that it was much more than ….

Hearn: Yes it evolved. As she evolved in her age and her abilities, his job evolved and it was just a natural evolution.

Hayes: The ironic thing is that something senior citizens need today even more than ever is someone just like this and you can’t find people or you can’t afford them or people don’t want to do it, but I think it’s interesting that today they talk about the very thing we need are caretakers who care and it sounds like your uncle cared. I mean, besides being private about it, but he was never negative about anything.

Hearn: No, he did whatever he could do and enjoyed doing it. I think he really loved Miss Sarah.

INTERVIEWER 2: Even though she was admittedly difficult at times and he didn't complain.

Hearn: But I don’t think that was any different than my parent being very difficult and she was ill and elderly. It just goes with the territory and that was just a thing that he accepted and cared for willingly and very lovingly.

Hayes: And he, of course, had known both of them and her for a very long time so he wasn’t coming to her in this as a starting point. That could make some difference in the relationship.

Hearn: I think from a personal standpoint, that would be a major factor.

Hayes: And do you have a sense that since family was important to them that they accepted your aunt and uncle, you know, as not as full members but as part of the extended family of sorts?

Hearn: I think certainly because of the way that they were, my aunt and uncle were cared for financially once Miss Sarah died. I think that’s evidence that the family cared for them certainly in more than just a business relationship because neither my aunt or my uncle ever needed anything in either material things or health care. Whatever he or she wanted, they had. So the Kenan’s were extremely generous I think. Those of us working today with retirement plans should be so fortunate (laughter).

Hayes: Well I want to thank you. It is just wonderful to get the insight of how the house operated and the role that your uncle and aunt played in this and of course the university today continuing to use the legacy of the house and the grounds and the home.

Hearn: It’s wonderful to see a home, as a child when I would go in and think about, you know, gosh this could really be…houses to me have personalities and this one was just dying for someone to come in and say we still love you and it was so much fun to go back last night and see that all of the things that I really thought could be – are.

Hayes: You were telling us about last night, what, you had an event last night at the house?

Hearn: There was an event for the foundation board members and with my cousin on the board, he invited me as his guest.

Hayes: Now who is your cousin?

Hearn: Joe King and Joe’s father and my mother were brother and sister. He invited me and I jumped at the chance because it’s been so long since I was in there. I’ve been in there once since it was done and that was when Dr. Wagoner was here and I was there to talk to him about my aunt.

Hayes: Oh good, so Dr. Wagoner was interested personally.

Hearn: Dr. Wagoner and his wife really were caregivers to my aunt because both my sister and I live, at that point, we were both in excess of 500 miles away in opposite directions and he checked on her every day and she had, just a human interest story…she had sent her sofa out to be recovered and she was in her late 70’s and partially sighted and went out on the porch and got her mail and came in and was intent on reading something and sat down on the sofa that was not there.

Of course, she fell and fell back and hit her head on the iron radiator which split her head open and she had presence of mind and called a friend who came and got her and took her to the hospital. The resident there sewed her up, but did not take into account that she was nearly 80 years old and had just bashed her head on a radiator so he sent her home. The next day Dr. Wagoner checked on her and she had a violent headache. The next day he checked and the headache was worse.

The third day he bundled her up and took her to the hospital and said “You will admit her and see what this is the case” and as it turns out, he saved her life because the fall had aggravated two aneurysms that no one knew were there. One of them was responsible for her blindness and they did surgery and she ultimately lived another 15 years.

Hayes: Wow, Dr. Wagoner, the ….


Hearn: Right, they were very, very gracious to Aunt Laura and looked at her as family. I mean they cared for her like she was one of their elderly parents.

Hayes: Isn’t that nice.

Hearn: And it’s because of them that we could leave her in that house by herself as long as we did before we had to say, “Aunt Laura, you’ve got to go to Catherine Kennedy”.

Hayes: Once the university took the property over, then the university was helping to maintain the Padrick House as well as the Kenan House and so forth, so that worked out.

Hearn: Right. The university, somehow it was written in the will I suppose, but somehow there was an understanding that they could stay in that house as long as they wanted it, not as long as they were alive or as long as they were in it, but as long as they wanted it so that’s why she was able to keep her things there even though she wasn’t living there. For my family, dealing with Uncle Pat and Aunt Laura, through the Kenan’s and then ultimately the university, it has been a very positive experience all the way around because they, both the Kenan’s and the university, have treated him and her as family with a great deal of compassion and understanding.

Hayes: Why don’t we end with just a sense of where you’re at now. You mentioned you were a teacher. Are you still an active teacher?

Hearn: I am, I teach physics and chemistry to high school students.

Hayes: And where is that at?

Hearn: In a little town in Virginia, Nottoway County in Virginia. It’s a very rural county.

Hayes: And we earlier met your son. You have a son and his name?

Hearn: I have three sons and a daughter. You met Brian who’s a student at North Carolina Wesleyan. We have a son Alan and a son Tom and we have an adopted daughter, Nei, who’s Vietnamese, who is the oldest but came last. She was one of my students and we adopted her.

Hayes: And you still have, what would be the family still left in Wilmington? Do you come back to visit?

Hearn: I have a first cousin and second cousin, both on my mother’s side, that are here that we come back to visit and ultimately the cousins all want to end up here when they retire. We have a retired admiral that’s in Washington and he’s aiming to retire here when he retires from his other job and Joe, I think, may retire, when he retires, may end up, if not here, very close to here because we all have this draw to come back to Wilmington.

INTERVIEWER 2: To come home.

Hearn: Yes.

Hayes: So you think you may eventually come back yourself?

Hearn: Well I have an 800 acre farm in Virginia so I don’t know (laughter). I’ll come and visit them. The traffic here could drive me crazy (laughter) and my county doesn’t have a stop light. In my entire county, I live in Cumberland County, Virginia, which is 60 miles west of Richmond and we do not have a stop light. Now we do have, we’re very close to where Dr. Leutze came from. I’m 18 miles from Hampden Sydney and Longwood University so we really do have education and the arts very near by, but we do live in a county with no stop light (laughter). We never have a traffic jam unless it’s cows in the road.

Hayes: That’s great.

Hearn: And it’s interesting that all of these cousins come to my house for Thanksgiving every year (laughter) so there’s a draw there also.

Hayes: Well thank you very much. We’ve really enjoyed this and we thank you for future historians who can get a little flavor of an extended family in the history of this important house.

Hearn: Well thank you for inviting me.

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