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Title:
Interview with William and Dorothy Holt,  September 15, 2007
Date:
September 15, 2007
Description:
Bill Holt holds a doctorate in chemistry, as well as master's degrees in both physics and academic psychology. From 1959 to 1968, he worked in developing sensitive isotopes to use in radiation therapy for certain cancers, and he also worked with the Appalachian Regional Commission. Dorothy Holt holds a Master of Arts in counseling, and is a career-long educator specializing in family and consumer sciences. Previous to retirement, both Bill and Dorothy were high-school level educators and counselors at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina; Dorothy for more than twenty-seven years. Both are involved volunteers at UNCW, working with Outreach and Public Service, the Board of Public Service with Lifelong Learning, and the Center for Marine Science, as well as having helped develop the Plato Society.
Phys. Desc:

Interviewee: Holt, William and Dorothy Interviewer: Jones, Carroll Date of Interview: 9/15/2007 Series: SENC Volunteers Length 120 minutes

Jones: --September 15, 2007. I'm Carroll Jones with Jennifer Dail for the Randall Library Oral History Project. We have as our guests, this afternoon, Dorothy Price and William Jody Holt of Wilmington. And we are in the Helen Hagan Room, Special Collections. Good afternoon Dorothy and Bill and thanks for visiting us.

Dorothy Holt: Thank for asking us.

Jones: Since we're doing both of you in this interview, let's begin by learning a little bit about your backgrounds, education work related and how you met and came to Wilmington, if you did come. Maybe one of you is a native. Either one of you lead off.

Dorothy Holt: I will lead off as the native North Carolinian. I was born in Wayne County and was there until I went away to East Carolina to college. And then, after college I thought a couple of years in North Carolina, went to Hampton, Virginia for 4 years.

Jones: What did you teach, Dorothy?

Dorothy Holt: I taught Home Economics. And it later became family and consumer sciences. And family and consumer sciences was chosen to more readily reflect what was being done. Home Economics is so much associated with cooking and sewing and we were doing so much more than that in our curriculum.

Jones: Family and...

Dorothy Holt: ...and consumer sciences.

Jones: ... and consumer sciences. Okay, go ahead.

Dorothy Holt: We had all kinds of things as part of the curriculum including relationships, money management and those kinds of things. I've taught in Hampton, Virginia. And later moved to Kinston, North Carolina and from there to Jacksonville and taught at Camp Lejeune for 20-more than 27 years. We taught at dependents. We both taught. Mine starting in 1973 for the dependents on board the base and we were at the high school. So my entire career has been in education.

Jones: And when did you retire from teaching?

Dorothy Holt: 2000, in the summer of 2000.

Jones: And you were at Jacksonville?

Dorothy Holt: We were, I was in Jacksonville and still teaching at Camp Lejeune schools.

Jones: Okay, now you said that's- Bill you were also teaching there?

Bill Holt: Yes, that's where I finished my careers.

Jones: All right. Now, which career were you on for education. What was before that?

Bill Holt: That was the third. Before that was a kind of quasi administrative education. Just prior to coming to Camp Lejeune I had worked for the Appalachian Regional Commission for a number of years and trying to assist teacher development in pretty remote- fairly remote section of Tennessee, a section that was characterized, I guess, but it's contrast. Anderson County which is the home of Oak Ridge, where I had spent another career, was adjacent to 2 very remote, fairly primitive- primitive is not the right word, undeveloped counties. And we came there under the auspices under the- of the Appalachian regional commission to try to help the circumstances.

Jones: So are you saying that you were- was this a challenge to teach or develop a program to teach children who, perhaps, did not have an advantage as far as education was concerned.

Bill Holt: It was a cooperative and it was a cooperative in every sense of the word. My job was to do some teaching but largely to put together in conjunction with the University of Tennessee at Knoxville and Tennessee Technological University in Cookeville, a program that would be generalizable to other Appalachian counties. That was the reason that we were there to provide service, but then to provide models as well. We call ourselves a cooperative, a couple of other areas counties, 5 or 6 counties that grouped together. Took the name charrette all based on the idea of consolidation of administration, fewer people in administration, greater numbers of people providing the services, cutting down the administrative overhead. And get the services localized. And the state government in North Carolina did that too after a while, and I don't know where their model came from. It was a good one, whatever it was. In the Regional Centers, they were called, the regionalization of services. They took services that were- had been offered in the...

Jones: That's a good word, regionalization. And you mentioned you worked with the University of Tennessee Knoxville. They seem to be a forward thinking group there on many levels. Having visited there, to watch somebody I know pretty well lecture. I've been very impressed with their students and their administrative staff.

Bill Holt: It was a great fusion. The laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory- and it went both ways. It wasn't just the laboratory coming and boosting the university. The university was a good university to start with but there was a symbiosis that developed between the laboratory, the attendant research facilities and production facilities that the laboratory spawned after the war was over. And then the relationship developed between the university and everybody prospered by it. It was a really good arrangement. It was the best arrangement and best argument for a national laboratory continuation.

Jones: What years were these?

Bill Holt: I went to work immediately after graduation from Carson Newman in 1959 and worked there until 1968 and stayed in town to work with the Appalachian Regional Commission.

Jones: Interesting.

Bill Holt: Oh, yes.

Jones: From there you went?

Bill Holt: After Appalachian regional commission days, I was- had minor administrative posts and teaching situations, largely with community colleges until by the greatest stroke of luck I ended up with Camp Lejeune and I went to work for them.

Jones: Now you say greatest stroke of luck. I'm curious to say, all because, of course, because I've known a number of teachers who have taught in military schools around the world some of them who have gone overseas said, "Well it was my ticket overseas and I didn't like the structure." So that was- okay.

Bill Holt: It was wonderful. We were in competition, I'm talking about friendly non abrasive kind of competition with Chapel Hill Carborro, Charlotte Country Day, about 4 school-high schools, 5 maybe, that every year would battle it out for the top best average on the SAT. And we would- sometimes we would be second. Sometimes we would be fifth. Sometimes we'd be first with the top schools in North Carolina. And we're not talking small potatoes here. We were running with the tall dogs.

Jones: You're talking about high school now.

Bill Holt: I'm talking about high school. And we had kids going to MIT, Harvard. We had great, great students and very supportive circumstance in the system. We had plenty of money for supplies and things that we needed to teach. It was a wonderful circumstance for a good long while.

Jones: That's wonderful to hear.

Bill Holt: It was wonderful to be in, let me tell you.

Jones: I imagine that it would be a pleasant teaching environment and that situation.

Bill Holt: And the families, almost without exception valued education. They were people who came- and Dorothy can speak to this better than I can. There are families who came- kids came from families who, like us, saw a way up the social ladder and the economic ladder to be education. She had the same experience or better experience than I did.

Jones: Did you have mostly females in your classes Dorothy?

Dorothy Holt: In the early years, but later we had a good mix of boys and girls. The boys valued what they were learning too. And they thought, "If we can do this kind of thing, you know, this is good." So they tried a little competitive thing of besting the girls when they were doing something in class, sometimes, especially if it was something you could see like something- a product they were producing. And I didn't always see the same students that Bill did. A lot of my students were from the lower ranking and lower intellectual levels. And so I did not see as much positive as far as those two aspects were concerned. But for a good place to work and good human beings to teach it was a good place to be.

Jones: That's amazing that you would bring that up, but I'm not surprised, the contradiction between, let's say, 2 levels. But these were during the years, were they not when- and I'm glad to hear that some young men were in the classes too. Were these not during the years when the line between what a male does and a female does were kind of being clouded over. And I'm thinking part of your family and consumer science class you had money management and relationships and so all which could be part of a beginner's course, at least, for any young female who wanted to go into the corporate world.

Dorothy Holt: It could be. And the males too, when they were in there. And it was a transition period for males. Do we want to stay in the traditional male way of thinking? Or can we concede, just a little bit, that we might be the same as girls, in some ways, and participate in that. And they came around. But it was a tradition that- especially in the military that the males wanted to be somewhat macho, some of them.

Jones: Did you find that these were sounds and daughters of military personnel.

Dorothy Holt: They were. They worked entirely.

Jones: Did you find that many of them wanted to follow in their father and mother's footsteps?

Dorothy Holt: They did. They did. A lot of the students that we had both male and female went into the military, not always in the marines, but into the military in some branch.

Jones: Do you think, Bill, do you think you that the success of the programs in the schools and the classes that you taught, and I don't know which classes you taught I should have asked, were partly responsible because these kids might have been- I'm looking at the wrong words so correct me? They're not regulated. But at least they came from families where things were done in a specific way and something was expected of them?

Bill Holt: Yes. And there were expectations of the families.

Jones: That's a good word, expectation.

Bill Holt: It was not uncommon for a father to be called the CO and reminded, "Your fitness report there's-will have some place on it for me to comment on your ability to maintain and control your family." And so there was a sense of control. Some people didn't like it. I thought it was a wonderful thing. Realizing that it could have been abused, I never saw a single case, and I didn't see all of the cases. But, I never saw a single case that it was abused. As a matter of fact, I thought it was done very even handed. And, in my mind, that's part of my respect for the Marine Corps is based on that and by reflection all of the other military services. By the way, my first degree, I feel a little hesitant about so much on me.

Jones: Please don't.

Bill Holt: Well, I do. My first degree was in physics. And then I had two masters degrees in psychology and then finished a science educational degree. So my courses, of course were physics and chemistries.

Jones: So you had two masters, in what now?

Bill Holt: Yes. One in academic psychology, it's called an MACT. It's a 2 year degree. And then, from ECU, an counselor education degree, and then a Ph.D. later.

Jones: Are you through?

Bill Holt: Gosh yes, I'm through.

Jones: Well, how do you top that? I don't know. Now, what did you feel- how did you find it communicating with this highly- too highly educated. I would have just been so in awe.

Dorothy Holt: Well actually we had the same instructional program for our counseling because I did go back to East Carolina and get a masters degree in counseling. So I guess that would be a way that we fit for communications and had most of the same instructors.

Jones: Communications, how to communicate with people, students or everybody?

Dorothy Holt: It was communications but the degree was also how to be a school counselor, how to be a counselor of professional- in the profession as well. Though we weren't trained to call ourselves psychological counselors. But we could easily be school counselors. And I thought this might what I wanted to do when I went into the program. But when I compared what the counselors did and that was an important part of getting the degree is you had to interview people who were counselors in the schools and find out what they actually did during a day's time. And when I found out what they really did, they didn't really talk to students as much and direct students and help students, as they did supervised testing and make sure that IEP for special needs students were taken care of and all of these kinds of other things in which that was not my interest. So I thought, "Well, I can use the information that I get here in understanding my students and still continue to teach." So that's what I did.

Jones: Is some of this regulated? Once you get out of school and once you've got your degrees and on and on and you get into a school in a county, do you find that some of what you've learned, at least, is going to be negated by whatever the prescription for teaching and how we're going to do it in this school, in this county is? In other words, I know that- I'm thinking of a particular high school counselor who I think is absolutely marvelous and has been around for a long time. I think she did retire this past year. One of her big complaints was, like so many people getting on here, they don't do it your way, but anyway, but she said that her hands were tied so much about what you can say, how you can direct a person without parental consent, without this consent. She felt like some counselors couldn't really do the job they were trained to do.

Dorothy Holt: Now Bill's degree was prior to mine in counseling. Mine was in 1984. So things have changed a lot since then and people have become a lot more sensitive to what people say. And there's a lot more emphasis on political correctness and being cautious that you don't say the wrong thing that makes something terrible- that initiates a catastrophic event of some kind. That I can see where this might have changed. So I probably can't speak to how it is now. But then I just got the notion that counselors had a lot to say about what they did without having to report, except for the testing aspect.

Jones: So neither one of you in the school you taught in, and probably for 2 reasons, one the type of school it was one and the times didn't have to put with the parents- that some of the parents that we have today who are now trying to be the kid's best friend. But don't want their personalities damaged.

Dorothy Holt: In the early years, no. In the later years, it was working more in that direction even there, even in the school we were in.

Jones: Are you happy now, do you feel now that you did a good and you were able to have kids? In other words, have other kids- have you heard from some of them who have honored you by just keeping in touch? Are you still mentoring in schools for kids?

Dorothy Holt: We periodically meet kids somewhere or hear from them that things are going well or that things are not going well, more often that they are going well. Not a lot of them. We have moved so many times that I don't think anybody could have kept up with us.

Jones: Were you escaping the tax man?

Dorothy Holt: Well it could be. At one point, we had been married six years and had moved six times. And so unless we take the initiative to keep up with people, I think, people have a hard time finding us. So we- we moved for good reasons. We weren't run out of town or anything.

Jones: So you both then retired from Lejeune is that it or no?

Dorothy Holt: That's correct.

Bill Holt: Same day. Walked out holding hands. We planned. We had things arranged. We had things planned what we were going to do.

Jones: So you married when?

Dorothy Holt: 1992.

Jones: Oh! You're newlyweds.

Bill Holt: Yes, only 15 years.

Jones: That's wonderful.

Bill Holt: Let me add one thing. A while back, the idea of communication came up. Dorothy and I don't have any trouble, at all, communicating with each other, never the slightest problem. We understand from my mind, and she, of course, speaks for herself, always. But we understand what each other is saying and what they mean which is even more important. It's- the communication is no problem with us for lots of reasons. We're very similar, very similar. Commonality of background, commonality of education. We admire and study, try to advance the same culture. So there's not much reason and by happenstance there's not much chance that interferes with our discussion.

Jones: You're both very, very fortunate.

Dorothy Holt: We're the best of friends.

Jones: That is the best way to be. I say that's probably the best people can hope for in a togetherness situation. I'm fortunate to have that too. Though there are times.

Bill Holt: Well, I get unreasonable at times.

Jones: You're an honest man. (laughs)

Bill Holt: And that precipitates what little bit of misunderstanding there might be. It's because I've been unreasonable. (all laugh)

Jones: You spoke earlier about education of your children.

Bill Holt: Three children. Two of them- one of them just left a year ago to go someplace else. Yes, they all three graduated from UNCW as did Dorothy's two children.

Jones: So you have a tie here.

Bill Holt: Oh we, yes we did. In Jacksonville, it was only 45 miles away. And Wilmington was really nice. I mean Wilmington just attracts people. The university, the library, everything that we value, most everything, is right here in Wilmington. There's a certain sea port mentality about it. Exotic people come and go and ideas are exchanged. It's a wonderful place. And consequently, we had some contact here before we ever lived here. My children were attracted to the local university and I felt it would take a stick, a big stick to drive any of them away. As it worked out my oldest daughter is here connected with the theater and connected with the business that she owns. My son is here working for the movies a good deal of the time. And my youngest daughter who got a masters here from UNCW in policy analysis is now in Raleigh working for a political person. And so they liked it as well and I was really happy to see that they liked it because it was a compliment, as far as I concerned, to my taste, and to theirs, the taste that they developed. Yes, we like it here and my children love it here. And so did hers except for other reasons they moved along.

Jones: We find that- and during this program that I'm dong with you all was predicated actually the most recent census plus some other data that we had come across and we were compiling, we the university. It's not the royal we. It just oh. And Sherman Hayes, who is the University Librarian, and I were sitting down one day talking about how things have changed. And talking about some of the things your children were involved in and still are. And became vastly interested in the arts community here, arts being all encompassing, theater, music, et cetera. We've prompted, Beth Robertson Sherman [ph?] to write for a grant on the arts, which I'm involved in doing a program there, interviewing as many people as possible. And the first question we usually ask is, why if they're not from, and some aren't, but not most, "Why did you come to Wilmington?" And we get all kinds of answers. But not of them, only the college students would say, "because of the beach." None of these other people who are trying to work and make a living say that. We heard everything from delight to the feeling of an energy to the back- they feel they're being backed up by the people who live here. So, I guess that this is some place that is appealing to younger people because we're seeing a lot of younger people. We don't know if they're staying, but they're here.

Dorothy Holt: In the case of my children, they would like to have stayed, but there was just...

Jones: I have two that would have liked to have stayed too, but they're not.

Dorothy Holt: Right. My son was working with computers. His degree was in physics but he was working in computers. He had a nice little job but he was the last one hired and they downsized out of necessity. And so he said, "Well, I know where I can get to work." So he went to California and that's where he still is. And my daughter was living on Wrightsville Beach, she and her husband and he accepted a position some place else and they headed to Savannah, Georgia. And so neither one of them are close by and that's okay. But I'm proud to say, I'll just reiterate what Bill said about all five of them graduating from UNCW. And, I think, that's one reason that we were so aware that UNCW was here. And it certainly played major part in us coming to this community.

Jones: It has played a major part- UNCW PPT and New Hanover Medical Center are the three big reasons why a number of people who of retirement age but retiring earlier have come here. They feel confident that all of these outlets are here for them, which is good. And you both are still involved with UNCW, do you want to talk about that?

Bill Holt: Oh absolutely. Go ahead.

Dorothy Holt: We are both very involved with the outreach programs with, I believe, it comes under the heading of public service. And we're on the director of the lifelong learning program Karel Dutton. We're on her board. She calls us her co presidents, but I'm not sure exactly what those positions mean. But- and we're also on the board for Diane Talley, who is the director for CMS outreach, which is called Odyssey and CMS is Center for Marine Science. So we function on both of those boards and we love what we're doing. We absolutely love what we're doing.

Jones: Now, let's go back, Marine Science, of course, is the crown jewel, but let's go back to your outreach, public service and the lifelong learning which is really important and should be something that everybody here should be made aware of, over the age of about 35, let's say. You're on this board, you're on the board of lifelong learning and the Center for Marine Science, but the outreach and public service, tell us about that and what you do. Tell us about what you do.

Bill Holt: Well let me creep up to it. Before we even lived here because we read the good things that the University was doing in terms of getting the community and the university in sync with each other, now this was not new. Wagner, everybody has done this to some degree or another and it's been very successful. But we liked it, only the idea of separation, that moat between the town and the university behind the whiles is a real bad analogy for how a university should work. Jim Leutze especially on the shoulders of others said, "We don't need this. We're here. These are our people. We're part of this community. Let's be that." So Karel came in and started doing this outreach in the community. We thought- this was part of our plan. We planned when we retired, I was 63, she was 60. We planned before retirement some things to do and one of them was the continuation of public service because we both of us have involved ourselves with public service for years. I ran a baseball school in Oak Ridge, Tennessee in 1959, '60 all up until about 1972 for teaching little kids, teaching kids how to play baseball and giving them the opportunity to play baseball. So it was in our blood and it was satisfying and it was responsible and it was important to us. So we got with Karel. We started showing up a little early because you can't- in the old days with Highway 17 you couldn't tell how long it was going to take you to get here, so we'd get here early. And so we'd start moving the chairs and putting up the places and scattering the programs around and doing anything she needed done. And the next thing you know, when we got here we were even more closely involved and she said, "I'm going to put together a board of advisory." And we said, "Yes, okay, sure let's do it." So we got on the board.

Dorothy Holt: It was not a big step.

Bill Holt: And it wasn't work. It was meaning. It was satisfaction. It was context. It was texture to the things that we were planning on doing. So briefly, I guess, I talked too much about the preamble, but what we do is we need help to plan the programs, help find the people. Karel- we're purely advisory. Karel has the final word on everything. And we bring ideas to her about where to go, who to bring, what to offer, what trends there are, what we can define, what the culture is interested in at the moment. And then she picks and chooses among the things that we offer.

Jones: Where do you get your ideas?

Dorothy Holt: We find ourselves everywhere, you know, in this organization, in that organization. Going to this meeting and that meeting. And we are just around Wilmington. And the other day I went to a Colonial Dames meeting and there was a lady there who played harmonica. And I thought, "Well gosh, this would be a good thing to have in this program." So I mentioned the program to Karel and she's trying to see how we can work harmonica lessons or harmonica performance or something of a harmonica nature with this particular person in with the program. So she's very receptive to the kinds of things that we mentioned. Plus we talk to people in the neighborhood. You know, I'm sure as well as I do, that we have so much talent here. People come in from everywhere and people are here who have been here for years and have incredible talent and know what's going on in this community. Beverly Tetterton in the library, for example. So we have no end of resources. And we just spot them, sometimes, and mention them to her.

Jones: Are you finding, you look in all of the places so many of us do and become a part of all of these things, sometimes like I am, and like my husband, thinks they know sometimes. And I will tell you off camera what I call him sometimes. He's like a [inaudible], but at any rate. And he found that most of these people who are actively involved are not natives. They're here from somewhere else. Or are you finding it's equal?

Dorothy Holt: Our experience has been seeing people who were involved with the university. And, I think, there we see more people who are new comers, not new comers in the sense that they came this year or last year, but they came from some place else to here. He's an SAR. And I'm a DAR. And some other organizations...

Jones: Now, for those who may not know SAR is Sons of the American Revolution and the DAR is Daughters of the American Revolution.

Dorothy Holt: And in those organizations, I see more people from the local communities who are here and again some are coming in- some of the other community are coming in both of those. But that is, some of the local community are going to the UNCW things. And some of the people who have migrated to this community are in the daughters of the American revolution and some of other things of similar nature. But I see in the DAR more local participation.

Jones: That's an area where you probably would.

Dorothy Holt: So it just depends on which group you're talking about. And for doers, our friends who come to us from some place are fantastic.

Jones: That's what we found.

Dorothy Holt: And they are making fantastic contributions.

Jones: That's what we have found. We have found some of the- and this is not disrespectful, it's a fact. We have found that some of the people who are natives, if you will, have been here a long time, their contributions may come in more of a check. But hands on actually getting in to face to face or putting on program or working in a kitchen, if you will, for a few hours come from those who come to live here. But will take--

Dorothy Holt: But we came to live here. And, I think, people make the mistake that everybody who comes to live here has come from further away. But we mention, when people say, "Where did you come from?" We say, "up north, about 50 miles. Jacksonville. We just moved from Jacksonville to Wilmington."

Jones: Well Jacksonville and Wilmington are not alike.

Bill Holt: Right.

Jones: So you did come to a different environment.

Dorothy Holt: But may I side track here and tell you the progression for how we got here?

Jones: Sure.

Dorothy Holt: It wasn't all that direct. We started out in Jacksonville and we had a house there, sold the house and built a house in Sneads Ferry because we thought we could still live in a house in Sneads Ferry and go in the back gate to go to work, the Sneads Ferry Gate to the base and to go the work. And we could also be in driving distance to Wilmington or to anything we wanted to attend and Sneads Ferry would be a nice little place to work. Well, we found that Sneads Ferry was probably not where we wanted to retire and that's no slam on Sneads Ferry in any way. It's just a quiet little town and we didn't find much to do there except play tennis. And we played a lot of tennis.

Bill Holt: And bridge.

Dorothy Holt: And tried playing bridge, but the people stayed up too late for us. We couldn't stay up until 11 o'clock on school nights. We got old before our time.

Bill Holt: We had to be at work at 7:30.

Dorothy Holt: So one day we got in the car and said, "We've got to move closer to Wilmington. But we know what we want and it has to have a tennis court." So we went from Sneads Ferry and ducked in every community along the way and asked questions.

Jones: So Sneads Ferry to Wilmington?

Bill Holt: Yes.

Dorothy Holt: Yes. And looked at what they had and what they could say about their community and we got to White Bridge and there they had four acre plots, and we knew we didn't want to do that much yard work or have that much property and you sympathize with that.

Jones: Yes, I do.

Dorothy Holt: So they said, "But where they have what you're looking for is Porters Neck. So in 1995 before we retired in 2000 we bought a house in Porter's Neck for our retirement five years later thinking that we might actually move to into 1995 and commute to base. But, you know, all of the work they were doing on Highway 17, it was not to be. So we just didn't move until 2000 after we retried. So our move here was not- it was a stepped moved. It wasn't absolutely direct.

Jones: Now what caused you to move again?

Dorothy Holt: To- after we were in Wilmington?

Jones: No, after Porters Neck.

Dorothy Holt: We left Porters Neck, it was a wonderful place to live. We would never criticize it one minute except it's not close to the university and it's not close to some of the other things that we wanted to do. And we would find ourselves, sometimes, driving into a few times, three times a day and that became an unreasonable thing to do. And the other alternative was you come in and stay all day to do two more things and that was not reasonable for us. So we just said, "Okay, we will sell where we are and we will buy a place closer in." Only we did it in reverse so we had some anxious moments between buying this place and selling the other place.

Bill Holt: Well, you can take on the geo-positioning satellite and you can find that the distance between the places we wanted to go and Porters Neck didn't change. But every little road with a complex of houses, a complex of house, a complex of houses, every bit of it added 5 or 10 miles in terms of time spent getting from Porters Neck to where we needed to be downtown. It got so, to start with 30 minutes, we'd be anywhere. We'd be home 30 minutes later or we'd be downtown. It ended up, sometimes and hour wouldn't make it. And when it hit an hour, we said no more.

Jones: A lot of people moved here to get away from that.

Bill Holt: Yes. Now we no, we hear, "Oh it's not like the traffic in D.C." I understand. And we're not comparing it against the very worst. We're comparing it against a civilized standard. And the civilized standard is it's not- this is not reasonable to spend this much time in traffic every day for things that we want to do.

Jones: You weren't growing older gracefully.

Bill Holt: You can age a year, almost just getting across town.

Jones: So you moved to an area now that is building all of that area down there and even further south.

Dorothy Holt: But it's townhouse and we're not going to be bothered by anything.

Jones: That a girl!

Bill Holt: We can (makes "pft" noise) and we're at the university in 15 or 20 minutes and even parked.

Jones: Let's get back to the lifelong learning and your outreach public service. I'm leaving the Center for Marine until later, because, as I said, that is what this university has been known for nationally, probably internationally, really. In the outreach or public service are you- is this co-joined with the lifelong learning?

Bill Holt: It's out of the same structure.

Jones: That I know. But for those who don't explain, this is for any age.

Bill Holt: Yes, it is for any age and the variations in programming. It's hard to leave out the Center for Marine Science because it's part of the youth programming. We can do it. The programming for Karel's program and that's the mainstay of the programs that come under her purview, that's the mainstay of the other part. They usually are slanted for- they almost always are slanted for the individual- mature individual, let's say, not necessarily retired. Though, we get a few students, regular college students who come in because something particular has happened in their lives that effected them and they read about it and they want to come in and attend, not many, but a few.

Dorothy Holt: For instance on Super Saturday, which was just, I think it was last Saturday. I tend to get confused here with things running together. But there were some students there, and the plans aren't made and then the people come. They look to see what people are coming and then make the plans to suit those. And the people who are coming to those programs are 50+ people for the most part.

Bill Holt: We survey every year. We keep up a continual feedback. Dorothy and I ask. Other people on the board ask. But then we have a formal survey, what do you want. And not only more importantly, what do you want, what would you come to? What would you attend? And we try to accommodate that. We've been pretty successful so far. You're familiar with the phenomenal success of our good buddy that's going to be here this Thursday, Elliot Ingle.

Jones: Yes, I've had the pleasure of meeting Elliot and talking to him and watching him for years. He's out of Chapel Hill, isn't he? Yes. I'm waiting for him to do a different character where he doesn't look just like- come across as Churchill or one of his other favorites that eludes me right now.

Dorothy Holt: Edgar Allen Poe.

Jones: Yes.

Bill Holt: He does resemble Poe.

Jones: Well he wears his costume and he says, "Don't call it costume." But yes, he is- he can keep you on the edge of your seat, particularly the first, two or three or four times.

Bill Holt: Yes, well he's doing Mars Bob [ph?] or as is called in some places Robert E. Lee this coming Thursday and we're waiting.

Dorothy Holt: No, the spring. It's somebody else Thursday and it's not hitting my brain right now.

Bill Holt: That's right.

Jones: Well, anyway-that's interesting because you're providing- I know there are some very interesting programs. And unfortunately, I've been not able to make all of them for whatever reason.

Bill Holt: You're doing other things.

Jones: You know, I am. Tell me about the Plato Society.

Dorothy Holt: The Plato Society is what Karel has said is- she's turned over to us that is not as it sounds because she always makes the final decisions. But we were meeting in Plato Society one Tuesday per month for an entire semester in which we would get together, either a speaker or one of our own. The ideal situation it to get one of our own to present something and initiate a discussion and facilitate the discussion. Not necessarily an expert in the area, but somebody who can facilitate a discussion. So we have been working on that. And then it has expanded now to, last count, I heard, was 72 members and every Tuesday of the month. So we have our hands full. And there's one other person helping us now and we're trying to recruit other people to help as well. The first Tuesday we have a book club discussion or a book discussion group. The second Tuesday we just have a discussion of some topic of interest to the majority of the people who are there in attendance at the previous session, they decide on something.

Jones: You decide a week or a month in advance?

Dorothy Holt: The book clubs are decided at the beginning so that they can be put in pathways and people will know which books to read. The discussions on the second Tuesday are decided the month in advance. And on the third Tuesday.

Jones: By the group?

Dorothy Holt: By the group.

Jones: And then do you two go out and- it's somebody in the group or it could be anybody?

Dorothy Holt: Somebody in the group normally because they are the ones who are interested enough to come. And so they will guide everybody through the discussion in the next one. And the third one is the one that was the original one in which we just have a hodge podge of whatever people are interested in. And we use the surveys to tell- that we've done the previous semester to tell what people would be interested in.

Jones: How did you come up with that name? Who did?

Dorothy Holt: Plato, that was all ready in existence when we started.

Bill Holt: I think Karel just picked it. It was a good choice.

Dorothy Holt: Yes, it was.

Bill Holt: It was to give the illusion and perhaps the reality of thoughtful and considered discourse and reflection in a scholarly manner and adult. Yes, that's it.

Jones: Well that sounds interesting.

Dorothy Holt: And then the fourth Tuesday we're having science. And Mr.- Dr. Holt here, he was the originator.

Bill Holt: Please don't.

Jones: You've earned it.

Dorothy Holt: He was the originator of the science sessions because he did- he started them with a little experiment and then we'd have a video with explanations and then little discussions.

Jones: And this is a science section of the Plato Society?

Dorothy Holt: The science section of the Plato Society.

Bill Holt: Fourth Tuesday.

Jones: You're past the Bunsen burner stage.

Bill Holt: Yes, absolutely.

Dorothy Holt: Actually, we're past the physics stage, which is what he was doing. And we're doing DNA. Not past it-

Jones: You are?

Bill Holt: Yes.

Dorothy Holt: We are doing DNA for this semester and for next semester.

Jones: Fascinating.

Bill Holt: It is that.

Jones: Now you have guest speakers to come in or are you the one?

Dorothy Holt: We have looked at this library and we have found some DVDs which are very good and we're going to use those as a basis for discussion and then go beyond that.

Bill Holt: It works very well. Fred Friendly, remember Fred Friendly from the old "You Were There" and Walter Cronkite's producer, we found the Fred Friendly productions about science, in general, and picked out the four or five DNA. She did the library research on this, by the way. Credit is supposed to be where it's due and found those things and previewed them and have people- found people who will take them, preview them, prepare themselves to lead the discussion not being an expert on DNA and it has worked exceptionally well.

Jones: Let me ask you both this. You're talking about Fred Friendly who is not a recent person on the scene.

Bill Holt: Right.

Jones: And he had done some of this on DNA. Now, surely, talking about in today's language and right now what we know about DNA which is changing, constantly, I gather, how up to date are you? Or how up to date was he? Or are you giving away a secret and I have to go find out?

Bill Holt: No.

Dorothy Holt: No. What he had or what our focus is on is on science and society. And what we do is look at how the scientific discoveries in DNA affect society. It's not formal instruction on DNA. But this gives us plenty of fodder for thought and for discussion. And the ones that we're having next time are 2004, I think. And then the very last one that we're going to use is "Ghost in Your Genes" which just appeared on PBS just a month ago.

Bill Holt: Courtesy of WGBH.

Dorothy Holt: So we're getting things from all over. And then, if some things have changed, well that's okay.

Bill Holt: I misled you. The Fred Friendly presents is the foundation that hosts and provides the funding but not- Fred Friendly is not involved. The latest on the- the earliest of the Fred Friendly DNA material is 2002 and the latest was 2004 or 2005. It was an update. I misquote.

Jones: That's all right. Well, this sounds absolutely fascinating. How well is this advertised? I learned about the Plato Society through the last paper that came out listing all of what was going to be going on for this winter, I guess. And there are so many things there, it's like sitting down at a dinner menu and saying, "I want that, that and that."

Dorothy Holt: Isn't it though?

Bill Holt: Yes.

Jones: And both my husband and I, of course, have been supporters of this and attended many of these things and others as well. You're right, there's a lot of good work and good thought coming out of Wilmington in various area.

Dorothy Holt: It is in "Pathways." And then we have a little separate brochure that's a Plato brochure that describes everything that's going to be in there for a semester. And it's passed out at university functions. And sometimes, the Pathways itself, which is the insert in the newspaper is left in libraries and other places where people are likely to pick them up.

Jones: This is a means, also, for- we live next door to a lady who was married to- when they moved down here and he had retired, as being a big corporation head in Baltimore. And they had grown children and they built their home. This was to be- he immediately developed Parkinson's disease. I'm not going to go into the whole story, which in time also was Alzheimer's involved. She devoted her life to taking care of this husband, a much beloved husband. And when he was finally moved into Clair Bridge [ph?], she went over there and did whatever she could. He died less than 2 years ago but it's taken her some time to get back on her time. She's an intelligent gal. Now, she told be recently that she had just discovered Pathways and it's opening up a whole new world for her.

Bill Holt: Great.

Jones: And it's taken all of this time, but she was so involved. And I'm thinking, this is just another segment, another level that can benefit.

Bill Holt: See, this idea of meaning to life. Give me just a couple of minutes.

Jones: I will. Take more than that.

Bill Holt: Okay, names like Wagoner, and Wewuwright [ph?], and Wayneright and Carpenter those names mean something like echoes. We should listen to those. What people have done for a living to be so important in the culture and in the individual's life that they are named for what they did for a living. And their names are sometimes 1,000 to 1,200 years old. Tom the builder in "Pillars of the Earth" and there's still builders around. Drapers who draped the popes, there are still Drapers around. Now that's a message that doesn't take an awful lot of interpretation. And when people- here's one of the interpretations. When people lose that connection with making a living. They can, not always, they can have lost a great deal. They can find themselves kind of adrift. If their family's away, if their friends are dead, lots of bad things happen to lots of people. If they don't have an occupational, professional anchor anymore they can find themselves adrift, and that is a very ignoble undeserved bad end to a career of life for anybody. We recognize that. We saw what that meant. Others have done the same sort of thing. And it's part of our- you can call it a mission, you can call it a ministry, you can call it a purpose, you can call it our meaning, if you want to, but one of our determinations was that we were going to do what we could do to help provide the opportunity for people who came here older without the support systems or people who were here who had lost their support systems or people who never had them had a place to go with other people who are, hopefully, human, forgiving, incomplete, vulnerable, recognizing all of the human emotions. For us all to gather together and provide a new meaning among ourselves. That's very important to us that you do that because without meaning, people lose hope. And hope- no hope- desperation fills that void.

Jones: Well, in a way you're kind of in the saving business.

Bill Holt: Well, I don't like to see it as a- I don't see it particularly as a kind of saving- saving is good enough. I'll just shut up right there.

Jones: I'm not talking about saving souls. I'm talking about just saving your mind because if your mind isn't working you're going to lose it, one way or another.

Bill Holt: Yes. We provide that- we want to be part of, not the whole part, not even the biggest part. But both of us want to be a part of an opportunity for people to provide- to be a part of meaning, a part of life, and not drift away.

Jones: Well we thank you for that.

Dorothy Holt: And you just reminded me that one of our sessions in Plato was finding meaning and it was well attended. And people seemed to get a lot from that session.

Jones: We're going, let's stop here for a minute while she changes the tape because I want you both to talk about the one that I wanted, that you were giving, and I wanted to go and I can't remember now what stopped me, something did.

Dorothy Holt: CMS? You said CMS once.

(tape change)

Jones: --still talking with Dorothy and Bill Holt. This is tape number two. I'm going to let them pick up on a subject that just came up during our interlude. Before we get off on that, if you don't mind, let's go back and finish up with your lifelong learning project, the Players Society. I want you to talk about the segment you did on humor. (laughter) See? It brings happiness galore.

Bill Holt: It was funny.

Jones: Because humor is something we all need in life.

Dorothy Holt: I'll do this one.

Bill Holt: Go ahead.

Dorothy Holt: We really wanted to do something on humor, because some people said, "This is serious stuff." It's not really supposed to be all serious stuff. We're supposed to be having a good time as well. So we got it approved that we would do a humor session, but we never said exactly what we were going to do. You and I both know that analyzing humor can make it really not funny. So we determined early on that we were not going to analyze humor. What we did was take clips from Charlie Chaplin and, by the way, we found out that we didn't think he was so very humorous.

Jones: No.

Dorothy Holt: But we did have a little clip with Charlie Chaplin on VHS. We had Lucille Ball and Ethel and some of their antics that we showed. We showed what was funny or what had been considered funny at the time. And people were just rolling, especially with the Lucille Ball things. I knew, all I knew she was so funny. So we did the whole thing on showing what people had considered to be funny. We had passed out at the beginning of the session some George Carlin one-liners. So each person was supposed to read one or two of those. The reading of them was what was really funny. The lines were humorous as well, but people trying to read them and sound funny was really funny. In the background we had written on the board things that were useful, learned things about how humor contributes to fewer illnesses, it has all kinds of health benefits and emotional benefits and those kinds of things. So we did a little educational thing along with it, too. But everybody left laughing, so that we got a caution from the administrative people in the building about people leaving there being so noisy.

Bill Holt: We got it started kind of interestingly. We went to a-my daughter, who is in the theatrical business, costuming. We said we need some help. Dorothy knew what she wanted. Do you remember Went with the Wind with Carol Burnett?

Jones: Yes.

Bill Holt: With the curtain rod and the green--

Dorothy Holt: I had on my curtain rod.

Jones: She's one of the most naturally humorous persons, brilliantly natural.

Bill Holt: You just look at her and you laugh, because she was so-- she just radiated funny. Anyway, I said to my daughter, "Honey, give me some ideas about costumes." She didn't say a word. She just picked up a clown suit and handed it to me. I thought, "How did she pick the clown suit?" Anyway, it was complete.

Dorothy Holt: It would make one wonder.

Bill Holt: The big flat shoes and a fool's hat. I thought that was over the top, but she said it fit perfectly. Anyway, so when we came in, she was in her window dressing, as it were, and I had my clown suit with the fool's hat on and the big feet. And that kind of got it started, realizing that we sacrificed every shred of dignity we'd ever had. But that's alright.

Jones: It was the occasion.

Bill Holt: Exactly. So we got started and people were laughing. When the left, they laughed down the hall to the point that, as she said, we got a caution about disturbing things.

Dorothy Holt: They had business offices there.

Jones: I know. What caused you to do it? Just talking about it that came to light? Or was it something that you both prescribed to and let's say you have to look on the funny side of some things, because otherwise you'd be dull human beings and be popping pills and all the rest of it.

Dorothy Holt: This is our philosophy: When things get too deep, when things get too serious, you got to laugh. Every day you've got to laugh some to keep them from getting too deep and too serious. So we laugh a lot.

Jones: Laugh and the world laughs with you?

Dorothy Holt: We hope.

Jones: That's a very good philosophy.

Bill Holt: And people liked it. There was a lot of people there. The room only holds 48 and that's crowded, I mean shoehorned in. We moved things around so that the-- we had people in their 80s that come to the Plato. We have people in their 60s that come to the Plato. They've ridden some hard roads. A lot of us have. Our balance might not be the greatest and our vision might not be the greatest. We have to make some room for each other. We have to make sure it's straight.

Jones: I think it was a wonderful change.

Bill Holt: It was a good one.

Dorothy Holt: It was appreciated, that's for sure. That's what counts.

Bill Holt: We liked it.

Jones: Do it again. The Center for Marine Science.

Dorothy Holt: Diane Telly [sp?] has had a program for a very long time. We learned about it very shortly after coming to Wilmington. The building was new, as you know, around year 2000, maybe it was a year old or something then. She has been having programs for adults throughout that whole time. They're connected to marine topics. Like she'll have something on turtles or she'll have something on Andy Wood is one of her favorite speakers, because he comes in and brings all his little critters. He tells about how he can tell by how the critters are faring what our climate is like and what global warming is doing and all of these kinds of things. He and others, she also has professors in who are working on a particular research project and they tell what they're doing. Dan Baden, the guy who is in charge of the whole place is just such a wonderful speaker and comes in to tell us about the red tide or some of the other things that are going on there occasionally. I can't understand everything they're talking about, but we get the idea. Most of the speakers are very down to earth.

Jones: Interesting.

Dorothy Holt: It's a very good program and we highly recommend that one.

Bill Holt: I mentioned earlier, (cough) excuse me, in the summertime, there's these things with kids. You can't be that. You just can't beat that. If you're going to get people.

Jones: You love kids, don't you?

Bill Holt: Oh gosh, yeah. They're wonderful, lovable kids. They're our hope. Anybody who doesn't like kids better decide what kind of world we want to live in later on. Kids are the future and they're part of us. They're worthy of our respect and our love. But the kids come in, all ages, and they do all these things. Those things don't die. Those ideas don't die. Some of them come back and make the contributions in other ways, always with an environmental ethic. That's very, very important. That's where the kids come in in this. I kind of put you off a while ago when I said I couldn't talk about all of it without talking about the young age of the kids in the CMS. Anyway, they do it with kids and then she focuses on the adults. I can't get over. At Oak Ridge National Laboratory we had Rene Dubois, that's the way he said his name; not du-bwah. He said du-bose. We had Nobel Prize winners. We had all kinds of people who had great credentials in the scientific world come and give a little address and they get a little honorarium. More than a little sometimes. So you could always go. It was encouraged to go learn what the latest was. Now here's the university doing exactly the same thing. They're bringing in these top notch people. They're not just bringing them in from someplace else. There's hundreds of top notch people right down at CMS, down on Marvin Moss Road in our neighborhood. They're not from someplace else with a briefcase. They're from our community who can tell us about the very latest of the thousands of questions and thousands of approaches that are being put together to address scientific questions. They're here in our neighborhood. That's so nice.

Dorothy Holt: I don't think you ever did justice to your career at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in this interview.

Bill Holt: Okay. Well let me tell you about Plato. One more thing about Plato. This upcoming semester we have 23 functions and it costs the massive sum of $50 to join Plato. $50 for the whole semester and we have 23 functions, 23 meetings and things to do.

Jones: That's amazing. That is, that's like I said earlier. I think that's pretty much of a secret from a lot of people or they don't read Pathways. A lot of people don't.

Bill Holt: We could do a better job of getting the word out. I don't know how. I'm not a marketing person.

Jones: Well I guess the best advertisement is through people.

Bill Holt: Yeah.

Jones: Now, what is he leaving out?

Dorothy Holt: Eleven, nine years at Oak Ridge National Laboratory as a chemist.

Bill Holt: There's something that you mentioned earlier about kids coming back. I have a student here in town that works for GE. I happened to bump into him in Harris Teeter one day and he said, "Mr. Holt, I just got my 6th patent." I thought man, I'm not surprised, Bill. You were a genius. A great, great kid. That's just one of the things you come across. The kind of down side to it is, however, every time I read about a casualty anywhere I know that so many of those kids who are now at this stage after I've been gone a while would be majors and lieutenant colonels, are right in the thick of things where the shots are being fired. They're Marines for the most part. Some of them are Navy, but most of them are Marines. Right in the thick of things. I wonder, "Is that one of the boys or girls?" I had a girl who made it as a fighter pilot. Is that one of the kids that used to sit in my class and ask, "Mr. Holt, tell me about that." "Can I be in this contest?" "What are we going to do in the science Olympiad this year, Mr. Holt?" Some of those interested, wonderful kids who wore the uniform and are probably still wearing the uniform. I wonder, "Those are my guys? Those are my girls?"

Jones: Of course they are.

Bill Holt: If they're not mine, they're somebody's.

Jones: They are somebody's, that's true. That's a whole different area which sometimes I think should be talked about with groups and get different opinions. Maybe some people will change their opinions if they hear the truth.

Bill Holt: I'm ready to move on past that. Really, I just haven't thought about it.

Jones: But we need to right now. Okay, tell us about Mensa. You said it would be quick.

Bill Holt: Yeah, Mensa's very quick.

Dorothy Holt: Are you going to really skip over those years with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory?

Jones: You were nine years there?

Bill Holt: Nine years.

Jones: As a chemist?

Bill Holt: Yeah.

Jones: What years were those?

Bill Holt: 1959 to 1968. Right in the middle of the space race.

Jones: Right.

Bill Holt: A lot of it was security. I'm not trying to pull a big deal here, just a lot of it was security.

Jones: I know it was; I've been there. My husband had two friends that he went to college with, high school and college. They went on to do great things at Oak Ridge. They always, Herman Postman was one.

Bill Holt: I know him.

Jones: His mother just died.

Bill Holt: I know that after Weinberg, he was the lab director. I'm certainly glad to hear that. Herman Postman, good man.

Jones: They kept in touch with one another for a long, long time and still do, but it's not as often.

Bill Holt: Let me tell you one of the things I can tell you about. I've always found in everything I've ever done, I've always looked for and found great satisfaction. And in one of those things that Dorothy, I know what she's pointing at and that's this. I was in the high purity lab in the Isotope division.

Jones: The what lab?

Bill Holt: High purity. And our function was to take requests, especially from the medical people over at ORAU, Oak Ridge Associated University Hospital, which was a cancer treatment and research, mostly research, facility. Kind of last ditch, I hate to say it, but it was true, for treatment for all kinds of cancer. This was shortly after 1955 when the answer to cancer was radiation. Remember that? Anyway, we were working hard and we made good progress on treatment of certain kinds of cancer. There's all kinds of cancer in all kinds of locations that respond to all kinds of radiation with a multitude of considerations for half life and the attendant undesirable radiation that is introduced at the same time with impurities. When people would get, the one I remember most was the gallium business. Gallium was a soft tissue cancer treatment. One of the gallium isotopes, I believe it was 69. There are only two. We would purify it and it had to be nice and pure. Then it would be sent to the high flux isotope reactor and it would be transferred soon, because of the radiation, the neutron flux, into a radioactive isotope. 69 was stable; 70 was not stable. It had a half life and the radiation that comes from it was a certain kind of a certain strength that was just right or as close as we could come for the soft tissue cancer. It was very difficult. I don't want to be self aggrandizing. What we would do is we would make this isotope, this pure metal out of these extraordinarily expensive separated isotope. Then when it was transferred into a radioactive isotope, it was even more expensive. I'm talking about in 1960 dollars, the isotopes that we would use would be of the order of say $8 or $10 million a pound separated, I mean an ounce, separated. An ounce was all there was separated in the whole world. I would take part of that, make it into the metal, and it would be introduced. It was close enough for us to get some feedback. For the security projects, I rarely did get some feedback. I did sometimes get feedback when it was necessary to make an alteration to do something else. But for the health things, they want security, so we'd get information back about that and it was always extremely pleasing to know that the things I was working on this week, in less than a week, would be in the tissue of perhaps a 10-year old or a 2-year old or a 40-year old doing something to help that person and then accumulating in the data to help make a better treatment perhaps the next time for somebody else. That was extremely satisfying. That's just what she's talking about. I've talked about the sense of accomplishment and the sense of satisfaction and continuity that come from knowing that something that you did was directly beneficial not only to a larger group, but to a person. That was nice.

Jones: I thank you for that.

Bill Holt: You're welcome.

Jones: I thank you for that. I know that in today's world most oncologists and so forth don't like using radiation if they can possibly avoid it. Even more, they don't like using chemo because of the toxicity and the fact that it affects the immune system. I know that firsthand. Alright, talk about Mensa.

Bill Holt: Well first of all, a lot of people think it's exclusive. It's not exclusive at all.

Jones: It is, too.

Bill Holt: If you want to talk exclusive, there's what's called the thousand. But I won't argue with you. In any case, Mensa is a wonderful organization. It's for the top two percentile on the standard intelligence test. That means you've got to score better than 98 out of 100 people who take it. But people say, "Oh, that's no big deal. Look around." In Wilmington, in the larger Wilmington area, 200,000 people. Do you know what that means? That means 4,000 people in the Wilmington area alone are eligible for membership. Do you call that exclusive? Not quite. So there's 4,000 people in the area and probably a greater percentage, since there's a university and since there's a fairly high concentration retirees, of successful retirees. This is not a cheap place to retire, by southern standards.

Jones: Alright, now that you've brought it down to a level, tell us how, just take us from one point to another to become a member. There is a test.

Bill Holt: There are lots of tests.

Jones: There are lots of tests?

Bill Holt: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. Sadly, the SAT no longer is useful to test. A lot of people got in on the SAT. But because it was dumbed down.

Dorothy Holt: Recentered.

Bill Holt: Recentered. It was whatever euphemism you want to put in there. It no longer, the SAT no longer distinguishes above the 93 percentile to the top.

Jones: What would be the 93 percentile on an SAT?

Bill Holt: I don't think I'm supposed to know. Because the new numbers, I looked at them the other day in reading over some applications for something. There are sections in there I never heard of. There are scores in there I never heard of. So they don't-- I can't answer your question, honestly. But the fact of the matter is it is a signal failure, as far as I'm concerned, in the suppression of the distinguishing between upper levels.

Jones: Are you trying to say for the people who are watching this that in today's world they're dumbing down?

Bill Holt: (cough) Yes.

Jones: Okay. Are you? What does Mensa stand for?

Bill Holt: It's a Greek word meaning table, for discussion. The picture is, and I've seen this cartoon any number of times. It shows a fat guy, bald headed with glasses. Wait a minute. Sitting around with his arms crossed looking superior and, as we say down south, with his nose all snurled up like that. And it's a feeding on an ill-advised, in my opinion, caricature of what Mensa really is. If you go to a Mensa meeting, you couldn't tell it was a Mensa meeting with anything less than a program. It's regular folks like us, just like us, sitting around talking about things, playing bridge, eating oysters. It's just a sensible bunch of people having a good time with one another. That's all it is.

Jones: What drew you to it?

Bill Holt: Any number of things. I found out about it when I was in college. Without being too disclosing here--

Jones: I don't want to know any secrets.

Bill Holt: No, there's no secrets.

Jones: I'm joking.

Bill Holt: I'll put the Mojo on you. In any case, I was just attracted to that. I thought, "Hey, smart people. Geez." I was in awe of the university. We lived in a university town. I was in awe of the college professors. They seemed to know things I didn't know.

Jones: Where did you say you grew up?

Bill Holt: I grew up all over, but for 16 years, from first grade through my baccalaureate degree, in Jefferson City, Tennessee, which is just outside of Knoxville and home to a small, private college. Anyway, it was nice to be around those university people, those college people. They were all right. They knew some things. They could do some things. They didn't fit any caricature of fat, reserved, incompetent people. They were out there doing the same thing we were--playing softball and doing the busy life of things that they were doing, that all of us were doing, except they just seemed to know more and know things that I didn't know. So I thought maybe if you come in contact with these smart people, you might find out that there's something on the other side of the hill that they'd seen that I hadn't seen and it might be worthwhile to know them. It's the same thing about Mensa.

Jones: Is there a range of intelligent quotient numbers?

Bill Holt: In the old days, before they were recentered, it was right at two standard deviations above the mean. What that means is the lower level on the Stanford-Binet or some of those, I've been away from this for such a long time. My vocabulary eludes me correctly. It's about two standard deviations above the mean, which puts you about 130. That's 130, 132, something like that. That's the lower limit. But please don't put too much stock in that, because don't you know some of the California scales have fixed it so that Reggie Jackson says his IQ is 160 on one of the California scales. Actually, somebody gave the scale, the test. I had to look it up. The standard deviation on that California test was about 32 units, rather than about 15 or 16 units, which means that the score to be in Mensa on that test, he would have had to score two standard deviations above the mean, which means his IQ would have--if you'd read the number on the California test, it would have been 164. But it would have, in no way compared to 164 on the old, traditional, standardized Stanford-Binet test. It would have been about half that, around 130.

Jones: Where is the line that you reach before it becomes--that fine line between high intelligence and insanity?

Bill Holt: It may not be so high. It might not actually correlate too well with the high intelligence.

Jones: When you talk about the California test, I'll tell you later, but I was raised there in school there.

Bill Holt: I meant no offense.

Jones: No, that's perfectly alright. I had a very brilliant father who used to read Mark's Handbook of Mathematics for enjoyment and relaxation. He taught me to play chess by the time I was 10 or 11. They would go on for a week.

Bill Holt: Good man.

Jones: He demanded a report on homework every single night. We didn't get our allowance on Friday until after we'd completed certain duties and shown him the paperwork. But we had fun with it. It was like reaching, always reaching.

Bill Holt: He cared about you.

Jones: Yeah. He was talking about the various IQ levels, but he figured that most people were a little bit crazy. He took a bunch of these tests and he was told, "You are above the norm." He says, "Well, I know that." He was quite a character. Anyway, that's something that has always fascinated me. I think a lot of people probably are fascinated, don't you think? Every once in a while you run across in it used to be Reader's Digest or somewhere. Here's an example of questions for whatever group it is. So you take it and you think, "Oh, that's nothing." Until you take a few more and then take a few more and then you get stymied thinking "It's human logic and they're trying to trick me, so I'm not going to do it."

Bill Holt: I have a friend here in town, you want to talk about high levels. I've got a friend here in town who is in the 1,000. That means you have to score-- that's a more, that's an exclusive group. Only one in 1,000.

Jones: Is he-- he's not crazy.

Bill Holt: Oh, no.

Jones: I can't imagine.

Bill Holt: He's a cook. He didn't go to college. He's a cook in a restaurant. Great guy.

Jones: He probably loves it, loves what he does.

Bill Holt: It'll do for now. A good fellow.

Jones: Alright in GAR and SAR, did you both decide around-- you knew each other when you joined?

Dorothy Holt: We did.

Jones: Did you kind of decide together you would do this sort of thing or how did this come about? This humor side.

Bill Holt: Lots of things are funny, especially between us.

Dorothy Holt: I'm trying to remember how that worked. I think you joined SAR first. I knew I was eligible to join DAR, but I just hadn't made a move to do anything. But he started getting his papers together to join SAR and had a hard time. Not because it wasn't legitimate, but because some of these counties, it's hard to get to them for the information. He was going through counties in Tennessee. So out of state, it was even harder. But we finally did trace his ancestry back and he was able to join. But the thing was, they couldn't wait for him to join here, because they'd already asked him if he'd be president. I can say these things, right? And so as soon as he joined, of course, he was made president. But they couldn't allow him to become president until he got his papers in. So then very soon after that, I did mine and I went in on somebody else who had already proved the last four steps, I guess. So mine was in. We both were very, very pleased that we were part of these organizations. We think they're important. We think there's so much being left out of society now as far as knowing about how we got where we are now and what it means. It's not just something we can take for granted. I know you're aware of the little skit that I wrote or we are not calling it a skit, we're calling it a dramatization, because it actually dramatized what the people in 1775, there about 1765 and thereabouts went through to try to make sure that the liberties would be something that we could continue to have. And then the Revolutionary War followed that. So we're very serious about honoring our patriots in the Revolutionary War and think they did such an important thing in winning us statehood as a separate nation from England.

Jones: Bill, is the goal of SAR-- my father was SAR, but he's been gone for a while. He encouraged me a long time ago to join, but I had younger children and it was one of those things I'll do, I'll do, etc. Anyway, is SAR organized along the lines of the DAR?

Bill Holt: Yes, indeed it is. There's so many more people, so many more women in DAR then there are men in SAR that we admire you. I really mean that. That's not just words that come out. You're doing a superb job at the DAR. Let me tell you one more thing. She went on to look at her genealogy and traced it back to the ancient planters. The ones and the phrase is used in the charter that they were granted by Joe-- wait a minute. 1607. Your folks came here in 1607.

Jones: That was Jamestown?

Dorothy Holt: That was Jamestown, the first permanent settlement.

Bill Holt: And not only that, it was the destination. It was interesting, but the journey, man. Looking at this, the road that she had to go to get back there. She found that on both sides of her family that there were members on both sides who were killed by the Tuscarora in the Tuscarora wars in 1710. One side of her family, the Carnegies Ganegies [ph?] they were in Germany, Carnegies they became in the United States, were reduced to one person, a 10-year old kid, George. George Carnegie was the only survivor of the family that survived the Tuscarora massacre of his family.

Jones: So it was from there you can carry your lineage?

Dorothy Holt: These are two different stories. The one about 1607 goes back to William Spencer. What is so phenomenal about it is not that it goes so far, but it goes mostly through the female lines. That is so incredibly unusual. But the way it happened was these people made wills and named their daughters and told their daughters last names and so who were able to trace most of it through the female line. One day in looking on the Internet for some of his information, Holt information, his are Germans, but I was looking at the English Holts. I saw some property, a little map of property of Jamestown. It showed the ancestor William Spencer, which was mine. It showed actually where he lived. So when I send this information to grandchildren for their little projects, I always send the little map along. This was his property. He lived on Hog Island. That was a good thing to do. Then the German thing, this was the Palentines who came to America. This was about 1711, I think was the Tuscarora war.

Bill Holt: Something like that.

Dorothy Holt: So they started there. Then I found another one of those Palentines. That was another side of my family.

Jones: How did you? I'm gathering that you had to do your own research. No, you said you had some up to what period of time? You're talking way, way back.

Dorothy Holt: The one that I'm talking that's way, way back, I did find that somebody else had done that research in the far reaches. I think it's 15-16 generations. There were several generations done already that somebody else had proved. I was able to attach to that.

Jones: You're talking about mainly in Virginia?

Dorothy Holt: Yes.

Jones: Which is earlier than Plymouth anyway.

Dorothy Holt: Yes. They were in North Carolina most of the time. So if we're looking at it chronologically, most of the time was in North Carolina. They came here early.

Jones: North, South, or whatever. Even Tennessee, I'm amazed by the number of patriots who crossed the mountains. Those Tennessee patriots actually came from Scotland by way of Ireland where they lived, the Scots-Irish. They wanted to live in their farmlands through the Appalachians and came through that way.

Dorothy Holt: The most annoying thing is the Tennessee census starts at 1820. Between the Revolutionary War and before even, up to 1820, you just can't find these people in Tennessee. They were in those territories. You just have a hard time finding them.

Bill Holt: I'm awful proud of Tennessee now and rejoice in that. But I still kind of think of myself as born in the former western counties.

Dorothy Holt: So we may let him stay. He's still here on trial.

Bill Holt: Let me tell you one thing and I know we're going to get to it, or I suspect we will. That's the education. This is a little dramatic, but this is the way people change. Her son, grandson called and said, "Grandma Sweetie, I've got a project and I've got to find an ancestor quick." You know how that goes.

Dorothy Holt: Last minute.

Bill Holt: Nice kid, wonderful kid, wouldn't trade him for anything. Wonderful boy. I need project help. She said, "Got you covered." So she sent him this and the next time we saw him, she was telling the story about how to flush out the lines and the names. She told him about this George Canegie being 10. He happened to be 10 at the time, who was the only survivor of the Tuscarora war. We call them massacres. They call what we did massacres. So it was a war. As she was telling that story, and she told it with some character and some texture, he was telling it to himself. He said, "Yeah, I can see how a 10-year old"-- he was living this story. The boy was living the story.

Jones: He was the boy.

Bill Holt: He was the boy.

Jones: He was the 10-year old.

Bill Holt: He said, "I could see how he could turn sideways maybe and slip out the side of the window and maybe get out through an open door so they didn't see him like that and then run." The boy-- that's education. The boy lived. It was real.

Jones: He was part of it. That's marvelous.

Bill Holt: That was just great. Not everybody, but a whole lot more than we reach now has that kind of reservoir of experience in their family's past that they should share.

Jones: Does the SAR go into the schools like the DAR has been trying to do but I wish they would do more of it at different levels?

Bill Holt: Yeah. We go into the schools but not in the way that you're suggesting. We go in and when we award JROTC metals at graduation. We provide a presence there. But we don't go in and do the presentations or the readings. Now, I just not a month ago sent to Vestid a suggestion of ways that we-- well, you know about it. You had a long meeting about it. To talk about the possibility of us having some role in that. We have some scripts. We have some guys who have some time. But you know how easy it is to get overextended. We're old. We're old guys. Some of our guys just don't have the time or the energy left to do much of that. I'm not trying to make excuses; I'm just trying to be realistic. I wish we did and I think we can. But our output will never match our aspirations, I'm afraid.

Dorothy Holt: But you have the DVD that's available for schools and it has curriculum in there that teachers can use. Though your group is very small, it's growing every year and some of the people who are coming in are younger. So there's hope.

Jones: We're seeing the same thing. The reason I asked is because, and I won't go off on this; it's not my interview, but we jump between tapes. This is one of the most important times ever in this nation's history for children to be taught the meaning of the Constitution. Of course, that's what we're all about and keeping alive all of those guarantees and all those wondrous things that we alone have in the world. When I learned that in the schools they don't call it civics anymore. They don't call it government. I don't know what they call it. They get a few hours of touching it, like 8th grade or something. When is it that they talk about the Constitution.

Bill Holt: Scope and sequence. Americanism is taught in 8th grade.

Jones: All those documents which are supposed to be guarantees. Even some of our adults and elected officials don't know what's going on.

Bill Holt: It's tragic.

Dorothy Holt: It's tragic.

Bill Holt: It's a tragic circumstance. It really is. We're toying with that. What people don't seem to grasp is that if we fail with one generation. If this disappears in just one generation by us not carrying the ball properly, it's gone forever. I'm not a cynical, hostile kind of guy.

Jones: You don't appear to be.

Bill Holt: I certainly am not. But this concept, this value in our culture is such a delicate thing. It's like a flame that we truly have to shelter. If we don't shelter it, it's blown out. It's so delicate. It took so long to nurture it. We're not near through. We're only 230 years old. We're young. We're not the Roman Empire. We're not even an empire. We're still struggling with these sort of things. If we don't shelter and provide the conditions in every way that we can control, it's gone. I know I'm talking a lot, but let me add one more thing.

Jones: This is something you're passionate about and we want to hear about it.

Bill Holt: You mentioned wisdom. That's a really, really important issue for us and for society. There's the information explosion which brings a doubling of information available every 10 months or something like that. At least it has for the last five years or so. Information is not the problem in most areas. It's wisdom that's the problem. We need editors. We've had reporters for so many years. We need editors. We need people like Chris Fonville, Beverly Tetterton, Everhart Smith. We need people who can-- and your husband.

Jones: One of my best friends.

Bill Holt: --who can make wisdom out of the facts. All those people can do that. We need a lot more people.

Jones: You should hear two or three or four of those guys you just mentioned together in a room having just good old fun by talking about this.

Bill Holt: That's my point. It's delicate. We're delicate. We've always been in a delicate state. Sometimes, like now, it's not just a gentle wind blowing; it's a storm. I think your analogy's right. We are in a delicate phase. We are in a difficult phase. There's a storm out there. If we don't protect that light--I like light for an example--we're risking. If we're willing to be the last generation that lives in an America that resembles our traditional America, that's one thing. I'm not. I'm not willing to be the last generation and say, "Okay, the rest of you, too bad." We must protect these things.

Jones: It passes prologue. I'm not so sure. But as far as getting back to you the reasons for the SAR, the DAR.

Bill Holt: I'm sorry.

Jones: Don't be sorry. That's the way you feel. That it's because of the Constitution we are carrying that forward or trying to. Do you think just education alone can instill this? Do you think it can help? We're talking about a lot of adults right now are working against this whole thing. The children in schools need to know the truth. But there's so much for them to learn out there. Technology is a wonderful thing, but it also burns your brain up.

Dorothy Holt: I can't say that education is going to do it alone. I think it's going to take a lot of passionate people to make something like this happen. But we don't have much choice. Education is where we have to start. If we can do that, I think it's good. Going into the schools dressed in period costumes and saying what we can or doing what we can is a big start. They see us looking like those people looked and I think that's really important.

Jones: Recently, in Archives in History, I was up at the Museum of Archives in History in Raleigh. It was a Saturday and they had a program. This is the second year they tried this. They invited all kinds of veterans from every branch and within those branches, whether they flew planes or submarines or whatever and wear their uniforms if they wanted to. They invited all the school children to come with their teachers, their parents, whatever. They had books, they had free food, which is always a draw. We had already been up there to see the premiere of excerpts from the war. But they had the continuous thing going. They had speakers. It was wonderful. They had demonstrations. They were selling to the kids dog tags with their names on it. They were selling all kinds of books, wonderful books. We saw children up there of all ages. We saw families with them. They stayed. Our just turned 13-year old grandson came and spent the whole day walking around talking to all these people. I think there's a place for it; we're just missing it.

Dorothy Holt: I hope you're right and I hope we can find it soon. I really do. That's just another one of the--

Jones: We're almost there. I wish we weren't. There's so many other things to talk about.

Bill Holt: That's alright.

Jones: This has been delightful. It's been informative. I'm glad you used NCW boosters and I'm glad that you're continuing to share your knowledge with oldsters, not just youngsters and do it with the youngsters as well. Dorothy, I'm going to insist that I am right when I said that I wanted to interview the two of you. You too, Bill. You both told me, "I don't know why you want to talk to us."

Bill Holt: She's more interesting than I am.

Dorothy Holt: We both take things very, very seriously and have a good time while we do it.

Jones: That's what will keep you living forever almost.

Dorothy Holt: We hope.

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