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Interview with Derrick Sherman, June 9, 2004 | UNCW Archives and Special Collections Online Database

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Interview with Derrick Sherman, June 9, 2004
June 9, 2004
Phys. Desc:

Interviewee: Sherman, Derrick Interviewer: Zarbock, Paul / Hayes, Sherman Date of Interview: 6/9/2004 Series: Southeast North Carolina (SENC) Length 90 min


Interviewer: O.k. Today is, last time I checked, June 9th, 2004. And my name is Sherman Hayes, University Librarian at UNCW, Randall Library. And with me is Paul Zarbach, special consultant to the University Librarian. And we’re interviewing today Derrick Sherman. Did I get that right? Derrick Sherman. As we get started, why don’t you fill in the full name and when you were born.

Sherman: I am Derrick Allison Sherman, born uhm.. I was the first child in the Good Samaritan Hospital in Troy, New York, on October 2nd, 1914.

Interviewer: You mean you were the very first child of the hospital?

Sherman: Yes.

Interviewer: Well, now, tell us that story.

Sherman: Well, that’s all I know.

Interviewer: That’s all you know. But off camera you did say you had, what was it? Three grandfathers?

Sherman: Uh.. Yes. I did.

Interviewer: How was that arranged?

Sherman: Well, not by me.

Interviewer: No.

Sherman: My- my mother’s mother died in childbirth. Uh.. My mother was one of a twin, twin sisters. And when she was six days old, her mother died. And she was adopted by her mother’s brother.

Interviewer: Interesting.

Sherman: And uh.. her own father, whom I never knew very well, went on uh.. and he later remarried another lady and had two more children. And my mother had uh.. three brothers and uh.. of her own. And then one adopted brother.

Interviewer: Oh, God.

Sherman: So. She was uh.. the daughter of farmers who- who lived in Cooksborough, New York, which is outside of Troy, New York. And uh.. she grew up there in a family situation where her adopted mother was not too happy to have the- have her.

Interviewer: Oh.

Sherman: Uhm.. But my mother overcame that difficulty and uh.. she went on and uhm.. she only went beyond the third grade in school.

Interviewer: Interesting.

Sherman: And uh.. And then when she was, I guess, 17 or 18, she went to work in a shirt shop. At that time Troy, New York was the center of men’s shirts.

Interviewer: Interesting.

Sherman: They wore detachable collars and detachable cuffs.

Interviewer: And we’re talking about turn of the century about? Is that when the 1900?

Sherman: That would be the early part of the 20th century.

Interviewer: Right.

Sherman: Prior to 1914.

Interviewer: O.k.

Sherman: And uh.. I guess when she became married to my father, she was uh.. I think about 18 years old. And uh.. she was uh.. my father was about nine years older than she was.

Interviewer: Oh.

Sherman: And he’s reported- reputedly to have said that he married a younger woman because he wanted to bring her up the way he wanted her to be.

Interviewer: Oh, God. We couldn’t say that today, could we? We’d never-

Sherman: I don’t think so.

Interviewer: Now, tell us for the record, what were your parents’ formal names so that we have that?

Sherman: My uh.. mother’s name was uh.. Florence Gruesbeck Ryan Sherman.

Interviewer: O.k.

Sherman: And my father was Raymond Derrick Sherman.

Interviewer: So that’s where your Derrick.

Sherman: That’s where my Derrick, ‘cause that, to him, it came from an uncle. These were uhm.. English and Dutch families who lived in the Hudson Valley, the northern Hudson Valley. And Derrick is a- is a uh.. Dutch name.

Interviewer: Oh.

Sherman: And in Holland, it means hangman.

Interviewer: Oh, God.

Sherman: And uh.. uh.. at the time uh.. my fa- at the time my father and mother were married, my father was already a college graduate.

Interviewer: He was?

Sherman: Yes. He went to Union College in Schenectady and studied electrical engineering under Charles Purdy [ph?] Steinmetz.

Interviewer: Now that’s really unusual. My goodness. I mean, so this was 190-?

Sherman: He was the class of 1906.

Interviewer: Wow.

Sherman: At Union College. I was the class of 1936 at Union College. Thirty uh.. thirty years later. And uhm.. he worked for the New England Power Co- uh.. the uh.. New York Power Company, Power and Light Company, I think it was then. And he was in their uhm.. hydroelectric plant in Skatycope [ph?], New York, which is an old Indian name. And we were there for awhile. And then he changed jobs and he went over to work in New England, and to Reedsborough, Vermont, which down in southern Vermont. And we were there for awhile uh.. Actually during the uh.. it was the First World War, because I can remember them talking about the uh.. uh.. things that the Germans did to the Belgiams- Belgians. And uh..

Interviewer: You mean, as a child, you really- you remem?

Sherman: I remember

Interviewer: Listened to those conversations.

Sherman: I remember that, yeah. And uhm.. the uh.. Belgian children were starving and they needed food and uh.. things that we people who were involved in the- in the church were urged to, as I remember it, urged to make contributions so that they could provide food for Belgian children. This was- this was before the United States became part of the- in fact, First World War. And uhm.. then uhm.. my father was transferred from Reedsborough, Vermont to a much bigger hydroelectric plant on the Connecticut River in Vernon, Vermont, which is still operating, but also in Vernon, Vermont, is the nuclear plant now, as well.

Interviewer: Oh.

Sherman: And we lived in a company house right in view of the big, hydroelectric plant.

Interviewer: So he was a manager type if he kept moving around

Sherman: Yes.

Interviewer: Like this. Then he was

Sherman: He was a uh.. he was head of the uhm.. hydroelectric plant people.

Interviewer: Oh, I see.

Sherman: Yeah. And uh.. he was there for awhile and then he got a position down in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with the Dukane Light Company.

Interviewer: Oh, yeah.

Sherman: And he joined the uh.. purchasing department in Dukane Light Company in Pittsburgh. And we were there for- well, we went down there about 1921, as I recall. And uh.. in the meantime, uh.. my middle sister. See, after I was six years old, my middle sister, Mary Helen, by name Mary Helen Sherman, was born in- in Vernon, Vermont and uh.. in our home. And uh.. then we went to Pittsburgh. And as I said, in 1921, when I was in the uh.. first grade, I know. I started school when I was six in a one-room schoolhouse.

Interviewer: Interesting.

Sherman: And I had to walk about a mile, or a mile and a half to school.

Interviewer: Now is it true. So often my parents would tell me that they walked both- uphill both ways. Is that- is that not a true <inaudible>

Sherman: Well, I- I can’t- I don’t remember the. This was either uphill or downhill.

Interviewer: Went through a lot of snow.

Sherman: But I remember walking to school. And uh..

Interviewer: No school buses.

Sherman: No school buses, no. And then uhm.. we uh.. moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which was a fur piece in those days. And uh.. I started school, grade school there, and I wasn’t in the uh.. first grade down there for very long. I mean, in second grade down there for very long, but I was put back in the first grade. Apparently I didn’t get enough education in this one-room schoolhouse to make it in the Pittsburgh school system, which is a burden I bore for many, many years, ‘cause I was in effect one year behind my age uh.. uh.. So we lived in Pittsburgh then and uhm.. in 1928 we were moved to New York because my father was traveling a great deal at the time, visiting the manufacturers of all of the products that were used by the Dukane Light Company. And there were more of them concentrated in the New York area, because he would be gone for two or three weeks at a time.

Interviewer: Wow.

Sherman: And they didn’t think that was a very good idea. And he didn’t think it was a very good idea. So we settled in Flushing Queens, New York. And in a uh.. duplex up and down uh.. apartment uh.. on Cherry Avenue in Flushing. I can’t re- I can’t re- quite remember the number, but then.

Interviewer: That’s o.k.

Sherman: Uhm.. I continued in uh.. grade school in Flushing. And uh.. harking back to Pittsburgh again, if I may. Uhm.. I developed a great uh.. affection for symphony orchestras because we were given an opportunity to take a trolley car to go to the east side of Pittsburgh to the Syrian [ph?] Mosque to hear the Pittsburgh symphony play.

Interviewer: Even as a kid?

Sherman: Well, they- they would take the whole school, you know.

Interviewer: Wow.

Sherman: We just had to pay 25 cents apiece. And uh.. I’ve always been in- interested in listening to symphony orchestras ever since. And uh..

Interviewer: Was it difficult for you to make these disconnections from school to school to school?

Sherman: No, because one thing I didn’t tell you is we settled into Belleview uh.. a suburb of Pittsburgh on the north side. And we were there for awhile, and then we were moved to another contiguous town called Avalon. And we were there for awhile. And then from there we moved to a still other contiguous town called Glen Avon [ph?]. And each time I had to change school- schools.

Interviewer: Gosh.

Sherman: So uh.. that didn’t seem to bother my parents, and it uh.. it really didn’t bother me either. Uhm.. And then uh.. when we lived in Glen Avon, my youngest sister was born. And uh.. she’s uhm.. let’s see, she’s uh.. ten years younger than I am. The middle one is six years younger than I am. The other one ten years younger than I am. And then uhm.. we were there for awhile, then we moved over to Beechview, which was in the south hills of Pittsburgh, and I changed schools again. And uhm.. I was in the Pittsburgh school system, which was really good. The schools I were in before were those run by the Municipalities in which we lived. And uh..

Interviewer: Why were there so many moves?

Sherman: Well, I don’t really know. My- I think my father and mother were looking for more space. They were trying to improve their quality of life.

Interviewer: Sure.

Sherman: And just kept- right. [guess?]

Interviewer: Sure.

Sherman: Uhm.. Then uh.. in uh.. like I had already said, my father was involved in uhm.. traveling a great deal and in those days you went by train and he would be gone, as I said, for two or three weeks at a time. So apparently he complained about that and they said, well, we’ll move you to New York. So then we were moved to New York City and we settled in Flushing Queens in May, 1928.


Sherman: And then I started in the New York City schools then, in the- in the uh.. let’s see, I was in the 7th grade then. And uh.. then I went on through the- from the 7th grade on through high- to uh.. high school. I finished high school in the Flushing high school.

Interviewer: But you came out of high school right at the heighth of the depression, I mean, right?

Sherman: I graduated from high school in 1932.

Interviewer: Yeah. Wow.

Sherman: And uh.. I mentioned earlier that I was distressed to be a year behind. Well, this particular summer, I went to summer school and I took three courses. You were only supposed to take two courses. But uh.. I went to the public uh.. board of public education in New York to get permission to uhm.. take the two. And uh.. I was there. I know I just had one course more, ‘cause I would have graduated then in February. And I couldn’t figure out what I was going to do from February to the following fall when I would go- go to college. I didn’t think of going to college at mid-year, which they didn’t do too much of in those days. So uhm.. I sweet talked this lady, who was harassed by all kinds of young people standing around, into just letting me- giving, signing off on three courses. So then I went to a private school in Brooklyn, New York, called the Row [ph?] Hall Academy. And I took uh.. Latin, uhm.. uhm.. 4th year Latin, and uhm.. economics and uh.. I think it was American hi- American history, second half of American history. So I went back then to Flushing High School with these grades in hand and the uh.. principal or one of his associates uh.. took them. And he said, well, then you’ve completed high school. And he signed a uh.. diploma for me and handed it to me. And that was my high school graduation.

Interviewer: Really. Oh, God.

Sherman: So, anyway, while I was in the Flushing High School- oh, I should revert back a little bit. When we first came to uh.. Flushing, my father and mother uh.. always went to a church that uh.. we could walk to, ‘cause we didn’t have any car. We never could afford to have a car in that period of time. And uh.. so uhm.. which was fine because uh.. Virginia’s father and mother were- Virginia’s father, particularly, was a pillar of the church and every Sunday afternoon he would- he and uh.. Virginia’s mother would go out and call on new people who came into the church. And so they came and called on my parents.

Interviewer: Virginia being

Sherman: Virginia. Her father and mother.

Interviewer: Your future.

Sherman: Yeah.

Interviewer: The folks listening here don’t know yet.

Sherman: Uhm..

Interviewer: Your future wife in other words.

Sherman: Yes.

Interviewer: O.k.

Sherman: So, I uh.. Virginia’s mother and my mother became quite good friends. And then Virginia was a year ahead of me in Flushing High School. And I got to know her in school. And we were in the same Young Peoples’ Group in the church, which was the Protestant Dutch Reformed Church in America.

Interviewer: Oh, interesting.

Sherman: It was a uh.. Presbyterian type persuasion. And uhm.. so Virginia went off to college in uh.. in 1932. And uh.. she was in the class of 1935 from Mount Holyoke College. And she always said that uh.. she had wanted to go to Wellesley, but her father, who was a uh.. buyer for the McCrory Five and Ten Cent Stores, uhm.. he respected another family in the church who’s two daughters had gone to Mount Holyoke. And she tells the story that he said that the Eanie [ph?] family girls had done so well at Mount Holyoke, that was where she was going to go, even though she wanted to go to Wellesley. But uh.. she really never uh.. objected once she got to Mount Holyoke. And she excelled at Mount Holyoke. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa. And uh.. was head of the judicial system on the campus. That was student uh.. a student uh.. court arrangement for the malefactors. And uhm.. of course, I got to know her and, you know, I suppose, in effect, pursued her. Uhm.. In the meantimes, I said my mother and her mother were friends. And uh.. we exchanged visits while we were in college. And uh.. she graduated in 1935 and I was still another year to go. And uh.. and uhm.. we had our ups and downs in this relationship, as you might expect. Not unusual. And uh.. but when I graduated we knew that we- we were going to get married after I saved enough money to create a home, which- which is not something that’s done these days. And uh.. Virginia graduated in ’35 and she worked at Macy’s- worked for Macy’s in New York in their management training group. And after a year she had an opportunity to go back to Mount Holyoke to uhm.. be head of one of the dormitories uh.. because they were changing from using little old ladies to run these dormitories to young women. And they gave her an opportunity to work for a master’s degree at the same time.

Interviewer: Wow.

Sherman: So.

Interviewer: Mount Holyoke is in what city?

Sherman: South Hadley, Massachusetts, which is uh.. just a little bit north of Springfield, Massachusetts. It’s in the- it’s in the uh.. Connecticut River Valley.

Interviewer: But you went to

Sherman: I went to Union College in Schenectady, New York.

Interviewer: Well, that’s quite a distance.

Sherman: About a hundred miles.

Interviewer: That wasn’t so bad. O.k. So it was doable.

Sherman: Of course, in those days, you did a lot of thumbing along the road.

Interviewer: I wondered about that, how you got back and forth.

Sherman: And uh.. well, I didn’t get back and forth to there very much, but I got back and forth to New York, because they- after she graduated, while she was working at Macy’s, I was in Schenectady, of course. I used to go home on weekends from time to time. And I would go out and stand on the side of the road and indicate I wanted a ride. Many times I was taken right to my front door.

Interviewer: Wow.

Sherman: By people who were uh.. going to visit uh.. somebody at Long Island and uh.. wasn’t out of their way, so they took me right to the door.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Sherman: Uh.. Right to my parents’ home door.

Interviewer: Right. Would you hitchhike back to college?

Sherman: Uh.. Many times I did, yes. Less go- less often going back and usually I would have a ride to get back with one of my fellow students at the college.

Interviewer: A buddy, yeah. You know, you casually, or not casually, but just normally talked about going on to college. Was this because your dad was college educated? I mean, that’s still very unusual in the 1930s to go to college. So you just had an automatic assumption that you would go to college?

Sherman: It was never thought otherwise.

Interviewer: Yeah. Go to college.

Sherman: And uh.. same with- my sisters eause your dad was a college ely, or not casualy, but just normally talked about going on to college. _________________even did better than I did. They went to private prep schools and uh.. then my middle sister, she went to uh.. St. Lawrence University, majored in chemistry. She was a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of St. Lawrence University. And uh.. my youngest sister went to a private school, Endicott Junior College, as I recall. And then subsequent, during the war, she uh.. met a man and they fell in love and one thing led to another and she was with child and uh.. they were not married. And uh.. then they subsequently got married. And she had two more children with uhm.. with him. And then he took off one day and didn’t come back.

Interviewer: Oh, my goodness.

Sherman: And subsequently she got a divorce from him and uh.. she subsequently married a man who is now my brother-in-law, and live out in California. So.

Interviewer: Let me take you back to Union College. What did you get your degree in?

Sherman: I uh.. I have a Bachelor of Arts degree and I majored in chemistry and biology. I wanted- at that time I wanted to work for a pharmaceutical company, not in the research laboratories or anything like that, but uh.. in some area of- of the pharmaceutical company not involving the use of science, but having a value to the ha- knowledge of science. But I never could get a job when I- when I graduated with a pharmaceutical company in the mid 30s. I finally succeeded in getting a job with the help of my father uh.. at Phelps Dodge Copper Products Company. It was located in Bayway, New Jersey. And I commuted there for a year. It was an interesting commute. I took the Long Island Railroad from Flushing to New York Penn Station, having walked to the train station in Flushing. I transferred then to a uhm.. I walked from the Penn Station over to the corner of Sixth Avenue and 33rd Street. Then I got on what was then the uh.. Hudson Tubes uh.. called PATH. And uhm.. I took the train there over to the Newark- over to the Newark station, Newark, Pennsylvania station. I transferred to a Pennsylvania train and went one stop to Elizabeth, New Jersey. And then I transferred to a bus and went to the end of the line and then I walked a half a mile after that.

Interviewer: So how long did that take?

Sherman: And uh.. that was two hours to do that and uh.. two hours each way each day. Four hours commute for- for $20 a week. And jobs were just that scarce. In other words, you were glad to have a job.

Interviewer: Yes. That’s right. What was your job? What were your duties?

Sherman: I started in the accounting department as a- in the cost accounting department adding up figures.

Interviewer: Well, with a $20 a week salary.

Sherman: Yes.

Interviewer: And having to pay uh.. to get there and to return, what did you end up with as a accumulated salary at the end of a week?

Sherman: Fifteen dollars, ‘cause it only took- it only cost $5 for the transportation.

Interviewer: Five dollars per week. Were you staying with your folks?

Sherman: I was with my family.

Interviewer: Parents. So that was still good money in a sense as long as you didn’t.

Sherman: Yeah.

Interviewer: If you would have had to get an apartment or something, it would have been.

Sherman: Well, that would not have been practicable.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Sherman: So uh.. that uh.. relationship with my parents went along for awhile. But then my father, who had never asked for this commitment, said uh.. Well, after I was over there in uhm.. New Jersey for a year, I got a job in New York working for the- in the accounting department of the manufacturing division of Marshall Field and Company, which was in the Combustion Engineering Building at the corner of 35th Street and uh.. Madison Avenue. And uhm.. then I- my salary went from $20 a week to $150 a month. And my father said, well, now that you’ve got all this money, uh.. I want you to start paying me back for your college education. Well, now, he had never made any- made any request like that before. And uhm.. I was thinking in terms of saving money to get married, which he knew. And uh.. but he wanted uh.. me to pay him back. Well, he and I had a very strong difference of opinion, and I moved out and I went to live with Virginia’s mother, who was a widow. Her father had died in 1933. And uhm.. so I lived with Virginia’s mother and uh.. I paid her five or six dollars a week, something like that. So uh.. uhm.. my father and I were never really reconciled, which I think was unfortunate. Probably more my fault than his fault. But to lay that burden on me without ever having given me any warning that that was going to happen.

Interviewer: That was a lot of money, too, right? I mean, how much did it cost?

Sherman: Well, I have no idea. My tuition in those days was $400 a year.

Interviewer: Oh, that’s

Sherman: And so- and of course I had living expenses.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Sherman: So uh.. as I said, we never did really reconcile. There was always that- he was resentful and I always felt that he was resentful that I was doing better than he did. But that’s what you do. I mean, the new generation does better than a previous generation.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Sherman: That’s certainly true with my children, and I have no resentment for that. I am very proud of the fact that they’ve done that. So uhm.. we uh.. Virginia and I were- were uh.. Well, I guess I should say something about I stayed with Marshall Fields for a year. And then uh.. they were dissolving that operation, and moving a lot of it back here to North Carolina. Uh.. They had a big operation in Sperry, North Carolina. And uhm.. the man who became governor of the state of North Carolina was head of- head of their uh.. operations down here. I’ve forgotten the name of the governor but uh.. it was the governor that served back in- in the ‘60s. And uhm.. uh.. we were married on September 9th uh.. 1939. It’ll be 65 years on September 9th of this year. We were both 25 years old. Virginia is six weeks older than I am. Her birthday would have been on October- I beg your pardon, on August 18th. And my birthday will be- when she would have been 90. And my birthday when I’ll be 90 is October 2nd. And uh.. So one thing led to another and I left uh.. the uh.. when they shut down the manufacturing- the division of uh.. Marshall Field in New York, I had, of course, made some contacts in the meantime and some of the- the important people in this manufacturing division of Marshall Field went out into other areas. And uh.. through these connections I got a uh.. another position with uhm.. an affiliate of the affiliated company of- of- of Fruit of the Loom Incorporated. It was called the Standard Garment Company. And they made women’s house dresses and women’s rayon slips. And they- they sold them to retail stores for eight dollars and a quarter a dozen. And the retail stores sold them for a dollar a piece. And uh.. I spent- and I was with them from 1938 to 1939. And then, again, through these connections, I got a position with Artsen Ernest, with the accounting department.

Interviewer: Right.

Sherman: It’s now Artsen Whitty. Uh.. I was in their management advisory services group.

Interviewer: What had your salary towered to at this time?

Sherman: It wasn’t much of a tower.

Interviewer: We meant that.

Sherman: I think it was now around $5,000 a year. Yeah. And uh.. of course, then the war came and uhm.. I was assigned to a consulting engagement in Schenectady at the American Locomotive Company. And I spent the next 39 months working there.

Interviewer: Really.

Sherman: Commuting up there from New York. Uhm.. every weekend I would come home. Get home in early afternoon on Saturday, ‘cause this was before airplanes uh.. for common transportation. That didn’t begin until the latter part of the period of time that I was up there when Colonial Airlines started flying regularly Albany to New York. And then uhm.. I would go up on- I’d leave home about 7:15 on Sunday night and got on the train and the car was dropped off uh.. the next morning, sleeping car. And then I’d check into a hotel and go to work.

Interviewer: Gosh.

Sherman: I did that for 39 months.

Interviewer: And why were you never captured by the draft?

Sherman: I was industrially deferred.

Interviewer: Well, explain that. I don’t think I’ve ever heard that before.

Sherman: Well, I was considered- what I was doing was considered essential to the industry.

Interviewer: I see.

Sherman: And so we uh.. this nurse got an industrial devela- got a- an industrial deferment for me. And I was deferred until uhm.. s- May of 1945. And uh.. then I was declared. I went through uh.. Grand Central uh.. Station where they- all the draftees when through there. That’s where the medical exams were done. And I was declared to be 4F because of my eyesight.

Interviewer: Oh.

Sherman: And uh.. actually I saw my- I saw my card the other day. It was 4A, but it was the same thing. And uh.. so then, of course, the war was over in uh.. August of 1945. And uh.. there was no more concern on my point for that. And our- our first born was born in uh.. Phillip, who’s now 6- who will be 63 in September, he was born in 1941 in- on September 23rd, 1941. And uhm.. and I continued with Artsen Ernest until 1949, when I uh.. thought that I ought to be doing better, so I got another position with what was then a new firm of Crescent McCormick and Paget, a consulting firm. These were classified as consulting engineers. And so I worked with them for the next seven years.

Interviewer: To give us some sense of, you know, for those of us who don’t work in consulting firms, did you have a specialty that you were farmed out to various companies to try to help them solved problems, or what was it?

Sherman: No. I was pretty much a generalist. And uh.. yeah, we went into companies to help them solve problems. And many times the problems that they saw they had, they didn’t have at all. But we would get in and get- really get all the facts and then determine that their problems were something uh.. something else.

Interviewer: And let me ask you to go back further. What- what was the nature of your role in Schenectady with the locomotive works. What did you do? Can you tell us? I mean.

Sherman: Well, we were setting up a- a uh.. cost accounting system for them, for their heavy forge shops. And the cost asses- system was- was all wrapped around time. And uhm.. and that’s what I worked at for.

Interviewer: All those months.

Sherman: For all those months.

Interviewer: Well, now, were they- had they been converted to a war production? Were they making something unusual, or was it?

Sherman: They were making locomotives. Yeah. They would get orders for 500 locomotives at a time. These were steam locomotives.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Sherman: And also they made diesel locomotives. At the same time, they were building locomotives for American railroads. And they made all kinds of locomotives. And uh.. of course, a locomotive is- a lot of it is uh.. steel forging for all of the parts that had to be machined and so forth. In addition to that, they were making gun barrels for anti-aircraft guns.

Interviewer: That’s what I figured.

Sherman: And they were making uh.. Sherman tanks. Yea. And they were making tank destroyers and uh.. The biggest locomotive they made was the uh.. was a 4884 locomotive for the Union Pacific Railroad to haul freight trains over the Rocky Mountains.

Interviewer: Hm.

Sherman: And it uh.. was a huge. They weighed 300 tons.

Interviewer: For the purpose of this tape, would you define what is a 4884?

Sherman: Four leading trai- leading wheels. And eight driving wheels, and four following wheels.

Interviewer: The average locomotive would be what, to give it a sense of scale.

Sherman: Half that size.

Interviewer: Probably half that size.

Sherman: Yes.

Interviewer: Two four two, something like that.

Sherman: Yeah. But even though in the war, with all those demands of the military, they still were allowed to make locomotives.

Interviewer: Yes.

Sherman: Still make locomotives.

Interviewer: Yes.

Sherman: Well, of course, the American railroads were part of the war.

Interviewer: That’s true.

Sherman: They had to keep going. They had to keep the transportation system going.

Interviewer: Yes.

Sherman: And they made uh.. diesel engines that were used to haul the war material from the Persian Gulf over into uh.. Southern Russia.

Interviewer: Interesting.

Sherman: Uhm.. Through Iran. And that’s where these diesel engines were going. I’ll bet you they’re still using some of them in the war [ph?].

Interviewer: I’ll bet they are, too. So now we’re in the 1950s almost, and you’re working for another consulting firm.

Sherman: I’m working for Crescent and McCormick in Agee [ph?].

Interviewer: Any particular assignments that sparked your interest in that time period? I know, you know, I don’t want you to give away any secrets, but uh..

Sherman: I was on one engagement uh.. which was uh.. interesting and it took me to London for four months. Uhm.. We were making a uh.. we were doing some work for American Cyanamid Company. And the chairman wanted to prepare a company that he had in Britain called Cyanamid Products, Limited. He wanted to prepare them for expansion, substantial expansion. And uhm.. he wanted the consulting firm to lay the groundwork for that. And that’s what I was there to do.

Interviewer: Interesting.

Sherman: And uh.. of course, I- I had a partner I was working for. And so we developed a plan for them. And unfortunately it was never carried out because he died and his successor wasn’t interested. So I was there from the middle of April until the middle of August.

Interviewer: Was your family with you?

Sherman: No. That was a mistake. I should have taken them with me. So it was the first overseas engagement the firm had.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Sherman: And uh.. it was all new to me and.

Interviewer: I bet you worked a lot of hours in that time period, too.

Sherman: Well, yes. And when you’re in a consulting business, you work an awful lot of hours if you’re interested in what you’re doing, which I was.

Interviewer: I have a question for you in the sense that you were really doing business consulting, but your background, although in basic science, you never really went to quote business school.

Sherman: No. But I learned what I learned on my way.

Interviewer: Is that, yeah.

Sherman: Yeah.

Interviewer: I mean, today, I think they would be forced to have MBAs and all of this degrees behind them, but in your time period it was just what you learned before mattered, right?

Sherman: That’s right.

Interviewer: So a little accounting and a little bit of this and a little bit of that.

Sherman: That’s right.

Interviewer: All of a sudden you can help a company.

Sherman: That’s right.

Interviewer: Interesting. And did you ever feel over your head, or in a sense of.

Sherman: My- many times.

Interviewer: Well, I didn’t mean that badly, I just meant in the sense of, you know, these are high powered corporations that you’re working for and you’re coming in. I always wondering about a consultant comes in and somebody’s asking you to give the answers. It’s just uh.. Well, you have to learn fast, don’t you?

Sherman: Yes, you do. Oh, I got a real graduate education in the consulting business.

Interviewer: Yeah. What year was you in London?

Sherman: I was in London uh.. from the middle of April, 19 uh.. 51 to the middle of August, 1951.

Interviewer: Were there still privation? Did you note any privations?

Sherman: Oh, yeah. They were still uh.. with the labor government and they were still uh.. rationing many things.

Interviewer: Yeah. I- I had just read that the other day that it was in the mid-‘50s some things finally came off of rationing. I think we forget that. We think it was quickly over, but-

Sherman: Meat uh.. uh.. you know, the- uhm.. Mr. Truman cut off their supply of money from the United States uh.. to the labor government, which he had a perfect right to do. And uh.. they didn’t have the uhm.. dollars to buy a lot of stuff. And I remember uhm.. we went into Lederle Laboratories. It’s a part of American Cyanamid Company. And Le- Lederle Laboratories had a uh.. antibiotic called oreomycin [ph?]. This was in the early days of antibiotics. And uh.. of course, uh.. Lederle wanted to sell oreomycin in Britain. And they created a- they had created a plan over there to uh.. package it. It was made in the States and then sent over there to be packaged. And then uhm.. the British government was very reluctant to let doctors use that, because they had penicillin. And they, of course, made this penicillin even as we made penicillin. Sir Arthur Fleming came over in 1942 to get help to make penicillin, and that’s when companies like Pfizer, for example, and uhm.. Merck really got- got their start in the pharmaceutical business. I’m familiar with Pfizer because one of my sulting- consulting engagements was with Pfizer in ’49 and ’50. And uh.. there are a lot of just ordinary working people who left the states and hundreds of thousands of dollars because when Emil Pfizer, the last remaining Pfizer, died, his uh.. associates had persuaded him to leave his estate to his key employees, and if people had worked for the company for 15 years or more then they got a legacy from Emil Pfizer.

Interviewer: Wow.

Sherman: Yeah. Some of those uh.. Germans and Italians from Brooklyn uh.. the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, when they died some of them left uh.. estates of upwards of half a million dollars.

Interviewer: And they got started with money they’d gotten from.

Sherman: They got started when they went in the business of making penicillin. They were the largest maker of citric acid by fermentation in the world. And fermentation is the process used to make penicillin. And I don’t know whether that’s still true or not, but it was then. The facilities needed to make penicillin, to make uh.. penicillin, they had to, of course, invest a lot more money which they didn’t have. So then they had a public stock offering and uh.. the employees, of course, the loyal employees, they all bought stock and then over the next seven years uhm.. Well, when I was there uhm.. in 1949, 50, the stock had already split 12 for uh.. 12 for 1.

Interviewer: Twelve for one?

Sherman: Yes. And it came on the market at $42 a share, and so you can see how these people were able to gain from having Pfizer stock. I bought some of it when I was working there, and in about three more years it split three more times.

Interviewer: My goodness.

Sherman: And uh.. so I had actually three shares for one that I’d bought. So it was a very lucrative business. Of course, Pfizer today is the leading pharmaceutical company in the world. And they don’t do their- they don’t do- I don’t think they do any chemicals anymore at all. They sold their uh.. their uh.. fermentation plant where they made uh.. citric acid, they sold it to Arthur Daniel Midlands. That plant is now along the uh.. Cape Fear River.

Interviewer: Let me ask you to go back to a comment that I think is going to be interesting for students to pose apart. You said that President Truman turned off the spigot of money going to the British.

Sherman: Yes.

Interviewer: Would you tell us more about that?

Sherman: I can’t tell you anymore about that.

Interviewer: Because, you know, we thought maybe you were involved with that.

Sherman: No, no, no, no, no.

Interviewer: But this was a policy on the part of the federal government.

Sherman: Yes.

Interviewer: O.k.

<crew talk>

Interviewer: So were talking some of your consulting work. So I take it this became your lifelong career point was to take, be a generalist and keep doing consulting then.

Sherman: Yes.

Interviewer: Give a sense for a listener- walk us through a typical consulting job. What does a consultant do? I mean, you know, some of us are mystified by that terminology.

Sherman: Well, the first thing- I can only speak from my own experience.

Interviewer: Right.

Sherman: Uhm.. We would gather- go in and gather all of the factual information we had about the problem, the company had about the problem, the people who were working on the situation. And uhm.. then we would write recommendations as to how differently they should do it. Or actually, in some instances, we would simply support what somebody in the company wanted to do, but they couldn’t see- was not a prophet in its own company, so to speak. They wouldn’t listen to ‘em.

Interviewer: Wouldn’t listen to.

Sherman: And uh.. I think in the number of different kinds of business I’ve been in.

Interviewer: Well, tell us a few. And you don’t to give the details, but that.

Sherman: Oh, I’ve been in uhm.. business- all the businesses from make- building locomotives to making women’s corsets. And uh..

Interviewer: And pharmaceutical. We know that one.

Sherman: Yeah. And uh.. I worked for uh.. Westinghouse Electric Supply Company and uh.. and they asked me to become an employee in 1950- about 1956, I guess it was. But I wasn’t there very long before they- the man who was president of the company, who later went on to be president of American Optical Company, he lived in Pittsburgh and he didn’t want to move to New York. So he moved his headquarters to Pittsburgh.

Interviewer: And that was the reason?

Sherman: Well, that was the uh.. supposed reason. And uhm.. So that’s how I got to Pittsburgh. I worked for them. I worked for Westinghouse for just- for two years. And then I was recruited by the Fisher Scientific Company in Pittsburgh. One of my consulting associates with Crescent had gone off on his own and he had a client. This was Fisher Scientific Company. And he told the uh.. Benjamin Fisher, who was one of the Fisher family, and a vice president of the company, there was somebody in Pittsburgh who could do that job for them. And uh.. so you would have continuity. So I was invited to come and talk to Ben Fisher, which I did and he offered me a position. And uh.. I accepted it. And the interesting thing is when I was considering going with Westinghouse I put down all the positives and all the negatives and all the negatives came true, as far as Westinghouse was concerned.

Interviewer: Oh.

Sherman: Which stimulated me to leave them. And which I’ve never regretted, uh.. ‘cause I worked for Fisher then for 25- let’s see, from 1958 to 1983, when I retired.

Interviewer: Well, I think a listener would be very interested in hearing what negative did you put down that came to fruition?

Sherman: Uh.. Well, because it was such a bureaucracy. There were so many internal politics in that company. And uh.. while I was working on the good auspices as a consultant, as soon as I wasn’t a consultant anymore, I was into that uh..

Interviewer: Back biting?

Sherman: That political situation.

Interviewer: Yeah. Yeah.

Sherman: And uh.. that was one of the principal things.

Interviewer: Um hm. Yeah.

Sherman: Moreover, uhm.. they weren’t giving any increases in salaries uhm.. which I didn’t like. And uh.. it was just an awfully big company. When I learned of- something about the distribution business, in each one of these things you learn something about the business that these people have had, that you put back in your head, tuck away in the back of your head and you utilize them uh.. sooner or later. And uhm.. when I went to work for Fisher Scientific Company, my objective was to establish a work measurement system in clinical operations, ‘cause they had several- several distribution branches. And uh.. they had no idea whether their product- product- how well their productivity was going. And so I developed a system for them to measure productivity of each of their distribution branches. And then set it up so the branches could be compared and uh.. they could see whether or not they were being as productive as they should have been. And the result was that uh..

<crew talk>

Interviewer: You know, a question I thought, you know, that we’re going to get to in a minute that you’ve become quite a historian or a fan of history. As I look back and hear your comments which were from nearly 50 years ago, you seem very modern. What is a consultant? Bureaucracy in a large company. The complexity of industry. So maybe one of the lessons is that we sometimes begin to believe each generation that what we do is so new and different. It seems to me like what you were doing sounds very much like today. Do you.

Sherman: For very possibly, except that you do it with computers today.

Interviewer: Well, that’s a good point.

Sherman: And we didn’t do it with computers.

Interviewer: O.k. That’s a big difference then. That’s a really big difference.

Sherman: To- to organize the system that I organized with computers, it would have been very- it would have been a- the accumulation of data to do it would have been a byproduct of things where- where when I did it, people had to count the numbers of transactions. And we had a standard of time for each one of these transactions, for each one of the motions or not individual motions, but each one of the steps, is the best way to describe it. And each one of these uh.. transactions and uh.. you make the count of how many of the transactions took place. You multiply that by the standard time and compare that with the actual time that was used. And you could see how well their productivity was.

Interviewer: Now were you- at any of this time Fisher had been unionized, or you were working with unions in this process?

Sherman: There were unions, but I was working in the clerical end of the business, which is- was pioneering in a sense, because there wasn’t much in the way of- of standard- standards in- in clerical work.

Interviewer: I was going to say, the time and motion study from, you know, Taylor and some of that, had gone over the manufacturing, but it hadn’t come yet in the ‘50s and ’60s to

Sherman: It hadn’t gotten in the clerical work.

Interviewer: And yet that’s a big part of the company’s business now, isn’t it?

Sherman: Yes.

Interviewer: But Fisher, what did Fisher make? What were they making?

Sherman: Well, Fisher was a- a uhm.. a manufacturer distributor of everything used in a chemical laboratory.

Interviewer: Oh.

Sherman: So you might- I finally had some use for my- ice [ph?] uh.. or my college education.

Interviewer: Took a while. You could talk chemistry.

Sherman: At least I- I understood some of the things that were going on. But uh.. we uh.. manufactured uh.. instrumentation, laboratory hardware, and uh.. we manufactured reagent chemicals.

Interviewer: Oh, actual chemicals.

Sherman: And uhm.. actually with many of those chemicals we were simply a business of subdividing and packaging, packaging them after you uh.. satisfied yourself they- from the minute you got them in bulk, you satisfied yourself that they met the standards that were required for the customers. But uh.. we had a catalog of, in those days, of about 80,000- 85,000 items. Big, thick catalog like that.

Interviewer: So some of the product you made, but then you were a distributor, a huge distributor for others.

Sherman: No. We made all the

Interviewer: People would call into- did you have sales people for all of this out there?

Sherman: We had salespeople, yes. Yeah. We had distribution branches around the country. Uhm..

Interviewer: I remember Fisher Scientific, you know. I mean, I think even in high school labs and so forth.

Sherman: Probably [ph?]

Interviewer: That’s where you would.

Sherman: ‘Cause they had a

Interviewer: Went to. I mean, they

Sherman: We had a division that uh.. sold uh.. products for K through 12th grade.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Sherman: And uh..

<crew talk>

Interviewer: But I do want to get on, if you can. I’m not trying to push you through your long career. I’m sure it was distinguished, but we’re- since we know that you and your family have been the wonderful benefactors to UNCW, how did you end from Pittsburgh in North Carolina? That’s the next step in the process here so.

Sherman: Well, I uh.. wanted to uhm.. both Virginia and I wanted to live in a warmer climate than Pittsburgh uh.. because in Pittsburgh in the winter uh.. gets overcast beginning in December and moves on that way until uh.. March and April. And we wanted to be some place where we could see more sunshine because New York City has lots of sunshine year ‘round. And uh.. of course, that’s where we grew up. And uh.. then I wanted to be near a big university because uhm.. I’d always been interested in history and I wanted to go to graduate school and get a master’s degree in history.

Interviewer: Wow.

Sherman: And so uh.. we moved there in the summer of 1983, after I retired.

Interviewer: And there was- We have

Sherman: Farrington.

Interviewer: Farrington.

Sherman: We had uh.. had a house built for us. And uhm.. it was all ready for us to move in and I had not gone then. I was then 67 years old and I hadn’t gone [ph?] anything. I had not planned to retire until I was 70 and the company didn’t want me to retire.

Interviewer: Excuse me. Just for the sake of the record, Farrington is a suburb of Chapel Hill. Is that correct?

Sherman: Well, it’s eight miles south of Chapel Hill, but <inaudible>

Interviewer: And it’s

Sherman: It’s a real estate development.

Interviewer: Essentially it’s a planned community.

Sherman: Yes.

Interviewer: That is rather upscale.

Sherman: Yes.

Interviewer: And we might as well put this on the record, too. The banded what? That animal at Farrington that- it’s a

Sherman: Oh, the banded Galway.

Interviewer: The banded Galway. Yes.

Sherman: Yes.

Interviewer: And what is that?

Sherman: That’s a- that’s a uh.. that’s a form of cattle.

Interviewer: Yes.

Sherman: A breed of cattle.

Interviewer: White in the front, black in the middle, white in the rear. O.k.

Sherman: So did they come from that territory?

Interviewer: No. It’s an English.

Interviewer: Oh, yeah.

Interviewer: I believe. But it’s the logo of Farrington.

Interviewer: Oh, it’s the logo. O.k.

Interviewer: Yes. So ’67, though, was really actually quite old for a business world, didn’t you? I mean, the ‘80s- the ‘80s seemed to push you out.

Sherman: Yeah.

Interviewer: Thirty-two years, sooner and sooner.

Sherman: And it’s over. It’s over. [guess?] But. I think of my son who retired after 30 years. He was recruited by Citi Bank and uh.. he worked for them for 30 years and then he retired in 1995.

Interviewer: A relatively young man then.

Sherman: Yeah. And he’s still working.

Interviewer: Still working.

Sherman: Yeah.

Interviewer: So you picked out, and you’re coming to North Carolina. Did you pursue your master’s degree?

Sherman: Yes, I did. I was registered at UNC, Chapel Hill, in the History Master’s program. I wanted to get a master’s degree in British history, because I was always fascinated by British history. So uhm.. I did most of the class work and then uhm.. I didn’t think I was then going to go on to get the degree because by that time I was 73 years old. And uh.. I didn’t want to spend the time in the library doing the research. That’s our age [ph?].

Interviewer: Now you’re not just auditing in the classes, right? Your taking the

Sherman: Oh, no. I took ‘em for credit.

Interviewer: Against a student body that was a little bit younger than you?

Sherman: Oh, God, yes. <inaudible> Yeah. A whole lot younger than I was. Yeah.

Interviewer: Now, I think you’re being a little bit modest. You say you have a fascinating interest in British history, but you- Winston Churchill really is one of your specialties, right?

Sherman: Yes.

Interviewer: Because you have given the library substantial collection of books that I think you’ve even read most of them, haven’t you?

Sherman: Many of them I’ve read, certainly.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Sherman: Yes. Some of them I haven’t read.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Sherman: And uh..

Interviewer: And do you have you ever traced back why Winston Churchill in British history. Was there anything that triggered that, or just age old in your life, fascination?

Sherman: I think it was simply uh.. a fascination which I developed.

Interviewer: Oh.

Sherman: As I said, I was always interested in history. When I took a history course- my freshman year in college was at New York University, Washington Square College, because I got out of- as I told you, I got out of high school in uh.. it was the end of summer. And it was too late to be considered for a college out of the city. But New York University would take me and so I did my freshman year there. I really wanted to go to Harvard. And uh.. I thought that maybe I could transfer. Well, if I had gotten five As I could have transferred probably. But I had only got three As and two Bs. So I couldn’t transfer. In those days, I was hoping to study medicine. And uh.. I turned away from that after working for college physicians at Union College for a couple of years, I- under one of the government programs that was created during those days for students. They paid you $15 a month for doing some legitimate job. And uh.. I didn’t really- the further I got along with working for the doctors, I decided that I didn’t want to study medicine. ‘Cause by that time I had committed to a major in chemistry and a major in uh.. biology. And so I had to go and finish it. But-

Interviewer: You were going to tell us about that first history class in your freshman year, and you loved it?

Sherman: Oh, yes. It was great. And uh.. I uh.. enjoyed it when I was in high school, as well. And uh.. I remember on the uh.. final examination in that history, it was, as I recall, it was European history. Uhm.. I wrote- for two of the three hours of the exam, I wrote an answer to one question. And I didn’t answer some of the other questions. And I still got an A in the course, because the professor knew that I knew the subjects, because uh.. I had gotten to know him and he had uhm.. I turned in other tests to him and so he knew I knew- knew it, whether I answered the question or not. That was one of the As I got. And uhm.. I still have an interest in history. And uh.. I hope to be back in a history course in the fall.

Interviewer: Well I think you might tell people you- when you moved from Chapel Hill to Wilmington, you started taking classes here, right?

Sherman: No. Well, we wanted to be- and when we came down here, because we wanted to be in a life-care community. Virginia had served on the board of directors of a life-care community in the South Hills of Pittsburgh. And uh.. we had seen an advertisement for Plantation Village in the News and Observer. And uhm.. so we came down over a period of three years to see how it was going. And the last time we came down, the only place available was where we’re living now. It had been sold to some lady and her family objected to her coming there, and so they gave her her money back and it was available. So we went back to Chapel Hill and I said, Virginia, I think we ought to take this place. But I was- I wasn’t really totally sold on the idea, but I said I think we ought to take this place, so I won’t have to wait around for five or six years, because these places have long waiting lists. And uh.. so we called them up the next day and told them we would take it. And so that was in uh.. August and we sold our house in two days.

Interviewer: Oh, my goodness.

Sherman: And uh.. rented it back for six weeks, and moved down here and moved in on October 7th.

Interviewer: What year was that?

Sherman: Oh, that was 1988. Sixteen years ago.

Interviewer: Wow. And you started- how soon did you start taking classes out here?

Sherman: Well, uh.. I wanted to start right away, but the person who was then the uh.. registrar, she would have none of it. And uh.. she said uh.. you’re beyond the registration period. Uh.. We can’t do it. And uh.. then when Leutze, Dr. Leutze came, she wasn’t around here for very long after that. She was a martinet. I mean, she was a tough lady. She said- I said something about uh.. Chapel Hill. And she said, Chapel doesn’t- Hill, doesn’t have anything to do with this university. And uh..

Interviewer: The law is the law. Registrars can be like that. But you started taking classes. You’ve taken many, many history classes.

Sherman: Yes, I have.

Interviewer: But really it’s for yourself, right? You’re not after a degree.

Sherman: No. No.

Interviewer: And how- give us a sense of how do the other students react to you in the class?

Sherman: Well, they’ve always been very nice to me.

Interviewer: That’s great.

Sherman: Yeah.

Interviewer: And I know the professors love to have you because you’re actually interested in the subject, right?

Sherman: Yeah. Well, everybody’s been pretty nice to me.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Sherman: Yes. Yes.

Interviewer: What have you noticed, the differences between college students 30, 40 years ago and the college students today? Is there anything that you’ve noticed other than the clothing?

Sherman: Well.

Interviewer: Is there a different attitude?

Sherman: You mean, from when I was a student?

Interviewer: Yes.

Sherman: ‘Cause I was a student during the depression and uh.. the uh.. college, Union College then was- had more uh.. commuters than they did residents uh.. to go- very sim- much like this college. They’re driving back and forth to home. And uh.. there were many students who were very serious about it and there were others who were playboys. It was an all-men’s college. And uh.. when the Volstead Act was passed, or repealed, uhm.. a lot of- a lot of men who drank excessively on weekends. And I can say among the fraternity brothers that I had who were heavy drinkers, most of them didn’t live beyond the age of 50. Uhm.. When you’re full of piss and vinegar and you’re only 18, 19 years old, you never think about that. So. Uh.. So those were economic hard times and the students that I was with, I’d say most of them were pretty serious students. They wanted to pass. They wanted to get their degrees. Some of them went on to graduate school, became lawyers and some of them became medical doctors. And uh.. I remember one of them who went to a graduate school of business. He went to Harvard. And uhm..

Interviewer: Do you find the same serious mindedness with students with whom you’re sitting in the class now?

Sherman: Well, this summer school class that I’m taking now, in uh.. in- in literature, American literature. I think most of those kids are pretty serious. Yeah. Doing- doing what they’re uh.. supposed to be doing.

Interviewer: Good.

Sherman: And uh.. I have been impressed uh.. with some of the classes and there’s been one or two classes I haven’t been particularly impressed with. I remember one class, there were only about a half a dozen present in ‘em, maybe 20 or so. And I said, I don’t understand you young people. You’re paying money for these courses. Why don’t you come to class? And uh.. one of these wags in the back of the class said, I’m not paying for it, my father’s paying for it.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Sherman: Well,

Interviewer: That’s a difference, yeah.

Sherman: So-

Interviewer: Different attitude for some of them.

Sherman: But some of these young people who are working two jobs and going to school, they are really serious about getting the degree. Yeah.

Interviewer: Do you have many veterans in your classes?

Sherman: Right now, I don’t uh.. you mean, early on?

Interviewer: No.

Sherman: No. I don’t think so. I’m not familiar with any.

Interviewer: No.

Sherman: I don’t know them that well.

Interviewer: Yeah. So when I went to college it was substantial percentage of people were veterans, and they were time minded and goal oriented.

Sherman: They were post-war, World War II.

Interviewer: Yes.

Sherman: Yeah. And uhm.. I have always said that one of the greatest things the United States government did, the Congress, was to create the uh.. GI Bill of Rights.

Interviewer: That’s right. It changed the whole social order.

Sherman: It did. It seemed to me it laid the groundwork for the prosperity of this country in subsequent years.

Interviewer: That’s right.

Sherman: And uh.. I think it still is contributing to it.

Interviewer: Yeah. A lot of veterans now, a lot of people out of the military take advantage of it, that’s for sure. We have quite a few programs up in Onslow [ph?] County tied to the military bases, are very serious students. Question for you. Instead of retiring and playing golf, you and your wife got involved. You do things. You go to lectures. You take classes. In fact, tell us a little bit about Virginia was with the United Nations, or she was active in the.

Sherman: She was one of the creators of the United Nations Association branch here at Wilmington.

Interviewer: Yeah. What do you attribute to, you know, after a long, long, long career, you both just kept, you know, going intellectually. Anything in your background that caused that? Or is that just-

Sherman: We’re just interested.

Interviewer: You’re just interested.

Sherman: You know.

Interviewer: Well, I think that’s amazing. I mean, ‘cause

Sherman: Well, Virginia was always interested in education. And she was uh.. elected to the School Board of Mount Lebanon, Pennsylvania School District twice.

Interviewer: Wow.

Sherman: And she served president of it twice.

Interviewer: Wow.

Sherman: And uh.. she was active in the American Association of University Women. And she moved through the chairs in there and she was the second vice president of the National Organization at one point. And then subsequent to that, she was asked to be president of the Mount Holyoke College Alumni, National Alumni Association. And she did that. And uhm.. she’s always been interested in administration and uh.. we got to- when we moved to Farrington, we weren’t there for very long before she was president of the Homeowners Association.

Interviewer: That’s the gross, most thankless job for heaven’s sake.

Sherman: And uh… the- the administration or management was one of her uhm.. uh.. great talents. And uh..

Interviewer: And being retired didn’t matter.

Sherman: No. No.

Interviewer: Just keep managing.

Sherman: Yes.

Interviewer: And you’ve both very active in your churches over the years.

Sherman: Yes.

Interviewer: Here at First Presbyterian Church, right?

Sherman: Well, I’m not so active here. I have been on the personnel committee and on the building and grounds committee here. I’ve been an elder in two Presbyterian churches before I got here, and one Dutch Reformed church. But I’ve never been in that response, that kind of responsibility here. First place, I’m too old to do that, would be my judgment. That should be for younger people. And uhm.. I’ve always enjoyed the kinds of things that I do. I’ve been on the- I’ve been chairman of the building and grounds committee of the uh.. Plantation Village for- I’ve been on the committee for about 12 years. And I’ve been chairman of it for ten of those 12 years.

Interviewer: Oh, my goodness.

Sherman: And uh.. I’m retired now because it’s time somebody else did it.

Interviewer: Now, we mentioned your son, but your daughter also I’m sure went to college.

Sherman: She graduated from Brown University.

Interviewer: And her name- tell us her name.

Sherman: Her name is uhm.. Ann Clark Sherman Sciba [ph?].

Interviewer: Sciba. She’s married.

Sherman: She’s- that’s her German husband’s name. Uh.. He has a PhD in uh.. economics from Harvard University.

Interviewer: God.

Sherman: And he was on the faculty of Northwestern University for a short while, for a couple of years, I believe. And then he had an opportunity to work for uhm.. Elizabeth Arden. I beg your pardon, for Eli Lilly. Eli Lilly acquired Elizabeth Arden, and they had a German operation so they sent him over there to run that. And uh.. Ann uh.. went into Harvard Business School when she was 20 years old, graduating from Brown at age 20. Nowadays that wouldn’t happen. But she was one of 13 women in a class of 675. And she graduated from Harvard Business School with- with honors. And uh.. This was- I mean, Phillip won a Fulbright when he graduated the University of Michigan. He was Phi Beta Kappa. And uhm.. he uh.. spent a year in uh.. an academic year in India, you know, at the Madras Christian College teaching uh.. Indian graduate students English and history.

Interviewer: Interesting. Wow. And he lives where now?

Sherman: He lives in Singapore.

Interviewer: And your daughter lives in.

Sherman: Frankfort, Germany.

Interviewer: Now that’s an interesting- you only went to England once or did you start going overseas more and more?

Sherman: I’ve been in England at least 25 times.

Interviewer: O.k. I mean, where did they get this international kind of bug. Do you think that was from you?

Sherman: Well.

Interviewer: Coincidence.

Sherman: Virginia and I were always interested in the world. And- and uh.. what was going on in the world. And, of course, that carried over into our conversation around the dinner table and all that sort of thing.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Sherman: And uhm.. Virginia and I had been around the world three different times. Uhm.. We’ve visited many of the countries in Europe and- and in Asia. And uh.. we like to travel. As I said, we were born with itchy feet. That was great.

Interviewer: Now why don’t we tell the story about the special Virginia and Derrick Sherman lecture series. Is that the right term? I don’t know if I got that official term right there. It’s a- the history series that your children.

Sherman: Yeah. Our son and daughter, I think our son conceived the idea and our daughter joined him. And uh.. they endowed the university with uh.. enough money to have this lecture in per- in perpetuity.

Interviewer: Right.

Sherman: And uh.. Virginia and I didn’t have anything to do with it. It came to us as a complete surprise. It wasn’t

Interviewer: But it’s not just a lecture. I mean, you have some very specific things that the series is trying to do, isn’t it? Isn’t it a young historian?

Sherman: Yeah. It’s uhm.. it’s for uhm.. rising scholars. Uhm.. And uh.. I don’t know whether they’ve selected the one for this year yet, or no.

Interviewer: Yeah. But the first two were wonderful.

Sherman: Yes.

Interviewer: Did you enjoy them?

Sherman: Yes.

Interviewer: I just thought they were

Sherman: Oh, yes. They were very good.

Interviewer: And I think it’s nice because they don’t just bring them in for one talk, they bring them in for several days.

Sherman: Well, they’re here for about three days.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Sherman: And they visit classes and uh.. and it’s kind of a joint effort of the History Department and the uhm.. Political Science Department.

Interviewer: Excellent.

Sherman: And they visit those classes. And they talk with the students and uh..

Interviewer: They had a very nice reception for them. And I

Sherman: Yeah.

Interviewer: Know that you and- and you always bring a big crowd from your residence area. I think that’s pretty good. You always.

Sherman: They seem to be interested. Yes.

Interviewer: Yeah. That’s great.

Sherman: And uh.. Also you have them carry on.

Interviewer: Well, listen then, nearly 90 years, we can’t do that in two hours. But I want to thank you for your conversation. One of the reasons we wanted to interview you besides of your interesting life, is that we know in the future, with this wonderful UNCW lecture series that people are going to want to meet you. And we regret that Virginia died recently, and we couldn’t talk with her. But we loved her enthusiasm for the program and for UNCW. And I want to thank you for talking with us. It was great to have you here.

Sherman: Well, I’m happy to be here.

Interviewer: All right.

Sherman: Thank you.

Interviewer: Thank you.

#### End of Tape 4 ####

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