BROWSE BY:     Title Number Subject Creator Digital Content

Interview with Louise Gorham,  May 5, 2004 | UNCW Archives and Special Collections Online Database

pdf icon Get PDF Version
Title:
Interview with Louise Gorham,  May 5, 2004
Date:
May 5, 2004
Description:
Louise Gorham is a long time supporter of UNCW (recently received a Town and Gown Achievement Award) but this interview concentrated on her actual time from 1957-59 while she attended Wilmington College. Excellent descriptions of early faculty, Isaac Bear Building and her involvement later with the Friends of UNCW organization.
Phys. Desc:

Interviewee: Gorham, Louise F. Interviewer: Hayes, Sherman Date of Interview: 5/5/2004 Series: Voices of UNCW Length: 55 minutes

Gorham: I haven't practiced anything in my head, so...

Hayes: Well, that's fine, and we're just now starting. And my name is Sherman Hayes. I'm the university librarian at UNCW. And we're interviewing today Louise Gorham. Did I pronounce that correct?

Gorham: Yes.

Hayes: Why don't you tell us how?

Gorham: Louise Gorham.

Hayes: Louise Gorham. And what is your full name?

Gorham: Louise Floyd Gorham.

Hayes: Floyd is a...

Gorham: My maiden name.

Hayes: Maiden name, great. And we're in Wilmington, North Carolina. And although today we're going to concentrate particularly on some of your exploits at Wilmington College, and the relationship with UNCW over the years. Why don't we get started, though, to get some context of what was your family, and how did you grow up, and how did you get up to that point of going to Wilmington College?

Gorham: I was born in Columbus County. I was the youngest of four children. Uhm.. uh.. my mother was ill part of the time, so therefore, I was uhm.. sent to live with an aunt in Wilmington, North Carolina. And therefore, I was raised by her. And uhm.. went to...

Hayes: For most of your growing...

Gorham: For most of my growing up years. And uhm.. started to school in Wilmington, North Carolina, and in the fourth grade. And went through New Hanover High School.

Hayes: Which schools did you go to here then?

Gorham: I started at-- it was Chestnut then.

Hayes: Chestnut.

Gorham: In the fourth grade, which became-- later became Sni-- uhm.. what is it? Uh.. Snipes.

Hayes: Snipes, yeah.

Gorham: Yeah, Snipes. And uhm.. I was in the class, the first class to go through junior high school when that began.

Hayes: You mean, they didn't have-- you mean, before you went all the way together up to eighth grade?

Gorham: And then went to high school in the ninth. And now it's just changed back to that. So I was the first group to go through seventh, eighth and ninth junior high school. And then went to New Hanover High School for tenth, eleventh and twelfth grade. And then went across the street to Wilmington College.

Hayes: Didn't go far then.

Gorham: Didn't go...

Hayes: So what time period did you finish high school?

Gorham: I graduated from high school, from New Hanover High School in 1957.

Hayes: '57.

Gorham: And then graduated from Wilmington Junior College, which that's what it was then, in 1959.

Hayes: So World War II. You were a fairly small child.

Gorham: Right, right. I have some, you know, vague memories of World War II. And I think Wilmington College began in '47.

Hayes: Right.

Gorham: So, you know, really a relatively new school when I was there. Very young school. And uhm.. I have this funny little story about a friend of mine who'd come from Wilmington College from right up on the North Carolina line, Virginia-North Carolina line, and he said his daddy had this junior college he wanted him to go to. And he said, "Oh, okay," kind of thing. And he said, "It's not a very big school." He said, "Well, dad, that's okay." And so they came to Wilmington. And so they were coming down Market Street, and he looked and he said, "Oh, Dad, that's not a very small school." And he looked over at these big buildings, and this big gym and he just perked right up. And then he looked over to the right and saw Wilmington College, this one little building. He said his feathers just fell. He had been looking at New Hanover High School. (laughs) Which was probably three or four times as big as Wilmington College. Isn't that funny?

Hayes: So he got all excited about...

Gorham: He got all excited at first, but he ended up liking it a lot.

Hayes: So now you got out of high school, and why decided to stay and keep going? In other words, you would've at that time normally looked at Chapel Hill, or State, or...

Gorham: No, I didn't. I only looked at Wake Forest, because I was raised a Baptist, and I didn't think there was any place to go but Wake Forest. And uhm.. I, you know, back then you didn't have guidance counselors. And I wasn't that aware, unfortunately, that you could go to state schools for a lot less than you could private schools. And I know that sounds strange now, but back then it wasn't, you know, that strange to be that ________.

Hayes: Well, maybe they weren't as expensive difference either, was it?

Gorham: Back then. And so my uncle died when I was a senior in high school, so there just wasn't the money in the home. I received a Silverton [ph?] Scholarship to go to Wilmington College.

Hayes: Now what was that?

Gorham: It was Silverton is uhm.. organization, men's organization in town, civic organization. And uhm.. they also gave several merit scholarships. And I interviewed for one, and was fortunate enough to get it.

Hayes: Good. And what were you concentrating on in high school? Was there a particular emphasis that you enjoyed out of high school that-- English or history? Did you see yourself as going in one direction or another?

Gorham: No, I think probably back then I really just-- I had such good teachers that I saw myself teaching.

Hayes: Oh, is that right? Early on, you saw yourself as a...

Gorham: Right.

Hayes: Who were some of your high school teachers that you kind of emulated?

Gorham: Oh, I had wonderful uhm.. English teacher, Ms. Thornwall, and another one, Ms. Walsh. And all of my teachers, you know, back then they were just people you just wanted to emulate. They were very interested in you. Those were the two that really stand out. I had a wonderful biology teacher. I just had good teachers coming up.

Hayes: And New Hanover High School was considered one of the premier high schools?

Gorham: In the state it really was. It really was.

Hayes: Was it big?

Gorham: It was big, uh huh.

Hayes: As big as it is now?

Gorham: My graduating class was 465. And uhm.. we started out the freshman class, I think uh.. with 800 and some. And of course, you know, you don't realize the attrition rate from sophomore year to the senior year back then. But it was just something awful. And uhm...

Hayes: People just...

Gorham: We were the only high school in New Hanover County. So...

Hayes: Well, the blacks had Williston at that time.

Gorham: Oh, yeah, the blacks had Williston. We were just totally two separate communities back then. I knew no black teenagers. Isn't that amazing? I didn't even know black teenagers. And uhm...

Hayes: Now where did you live in town, in this same area that you live now?

Gorham: No, but very close in Carolina Heights.

Hayes: So you weren't that far from the high school.

Gorham: No, I walked to high school.

Hayes: You really did? that's great.

Gorham: And I grew up, when I was 16 I worked at Kingoff's on the weekends.

Hayes: Which is a jewelry store.

Gorham: Jewelry store downtown. They were very kind to me.

Hayes: So do you still talk to those folks?

Gorham: Oh, yeah! I go shop with them now.

Hayes: Oh, they're still down there. That's interesting.

Gorham: And even when I was in college, in the summers I would work there, and on the holidays. And even, amazingly, after I started teaching school here, I would work during the holidays some for them. And we always had a nice time. They were always very appreciative, my working for them.

Hayes: That's great.

Gorham: And now it's interesting that Janice Kingoff and I serve on the Friends board uh.. together. And that's just, you know, that's kind of nice.

Hayes: That is kind of funny.

Gorham: You know, we're friends now.

Hayes: Now at the time then, was she your age? Was she a student also...

Gorham: Oh, no. Janice was from Richmond, and I was working for Kingoff's when she and Bill got married.

Hayes: Oh, interesting. So anyway, you decided particularly for financial reasons, and also convenience to go to Wilmington College. And at that time it had been going for about ten years.

Gorham: A little over ten years.

Hayes: But it was still at Isaac Bear, right?

Gorham: Yes.

Hayes: So give me a sense of what that facility was like. What was the building like?

Gorham: It was red brick. Uhm.. two story, or three story counting the basement. The basement was where uh.. the pub, this was a little social place uh.. was, and uh.. the furnace was.

Hayes: Wait a minute. The pub-- what do you mean by a pub?

Gorham: Uhm.. it was a little place to eat, and uh.. a place, you know, where there was a little dartboard, and where you just kind of gathered and mixed with the faculty. You'd have a sandwich and a milkshake, and sat around and talked.

Hayes: But not alcoholic beverages?

Gorham: Oh, no. Oh, no.

Hayes: I mean, the word "pub..."

Gorham: Not that kind of pub. No, no, no. Oh, no.

Hayes: And the boiler was right next door?

Gorham: And the boiler was next door. And let me tell ya, when the boiler acted up, you could be sitting in the library and smoke came up through the floor.

Hayes: Oh, my gosh!

Gorham: I promise you it did. And it was not very efficient, because when the winds blew, the shades sometimes would stand out at a 45-degree angle. I mean, it was just, you know, sometimes we would have to wear our scarves in class to keep our ears warm. And wear our uh.. mittens and gloves to work our microscopes. I mean, it was really, you know, that primitive, but it was there, and that's what we did. And nobody complained. I mean, that's just the way it was.

Hayes: But did you feel really that you had changed from high school? I mean, the kids were different?

Gorham: Oh, yes.

Hayes: I mean, it's sometimes hard to make that break when you're right next to...

Gorham: You would think it was, but it wasn't. Because you broke from your high school group. Most of them, you know, either went to work, or went off. Uhm.. you formed new friendships. Uhm.. you were in school with people that were back from uhm.. Korea.

Hayes: Was that right? Some of your-- was that your generation coming back?

Gorham: Right, and even some World War II veterans, and homemakers were beginning to come to college.

Hayes: Really?

Gorham: And I thought that was interesting. I formed some very good friendships.

Hayes: So would you say many of the students were older than average, or what was the mix there?

Gorham: I would say, I'd bet at least a third were non-traditional, as they're referred to now, uhm.. students, and there were night classes and day classes. Uhm...

Hayes: Now what about your mix? Did you take...

Gorham: I took a few night classes, because of work schedule. I worked uhm.. in the biology lab, I worked in the pub, and then worked on the weekends at Kingoff's, and so I fit in my classes around that.

Hayes: And what was your tuition? Do you remember at all?

Gorham: I really don't. Isn't that awful? But I really don't. I'm- I'm-- my memory's failing.

Hayes: Oh.

Gorham: I turned 65 last week.

Hayes: I could have never guessed.

Gorham: And my memory's getting bad, Sherman, I'm sorry.

Hayes: Well, I don't think I would remember back my tuition. In fact, I can't remember my tuition now.

Gorham: And I'm sure it was, you know, commensurate with the time.

Hayes: And you stayed at home with your aunt?

Gorham: Yes, I lived with my aunt- with my aunt, yes, those two years.

Hayes: So that'd have kept your cost reasonable. Now how did you get to school then?

Gorham: I walked.

Hayes: You were still within walking distance. Oh, that's good.

Gorham: And a lot of times, you know, friends would pick me up.

Hayes: There wasn't a bus system at that point?

Gorham: Oh, yes, there was a bus, city busses. And if it was raining, I caught the bus, or friends picked me up. And people that were from out of town going to college, they lived with-- you know, people roomed, took in roomers.

Hayes: Really?

Gorham: Boarders. And so we had some of those.

Hayes: Well, how many would be in a typical English class?

Gorham: Well, it varied just greatly. Like my freshman English class, one of them probably had 15 to 20. And then I had a night Spanish class with Dr. Larry Cheek, and there were five of us, and I felt like I had a private tutor, and I wasn't very good at it. And I knew every three minutes I was going to get called on. And I'd wrap my legs around the chair and hold on for dear life, 'cause he would call on me. And it kind of got to be a joke uhm.. that I was so nervous about it.

Hayes: Now was he a fulltime professor, or a part-timer?

Gorham: He was part-time. He taught at the junior high school during the day.

Hayes: Oh, interesting.

Gorham: And taught there at night. But he was very good. Very good.

Hayes: Now who were some of the professors that you remember? There's one, the Spanish professor.

Gorham: Let's see. Claude Howe taught art class. And I remember taking Art Appreciation class under him. And I can remember between classes, if I had any time, I had to wait for a class, I would sometimes go in and sit at his feet and watch him paint, and we would talk.

Hayes: Really? Interesting.

Gorham: And uhm.. I took an Art Appreciation class, because I wanted to learn, but I was thinking, you know, this wouldn't be too heavy a schedule. Well, let me tell you, he worked us very, very hard. (laughs) A lot of research and a lot of work.

Hayes: Oops!

Gorham: Oops was right. But I never regretted taking it. And he was such a colorful professor and I learned a lot. Never regretted it. Uhm.. I had Shannon Morton for English.

Hayes: You did! Well, tell me about her, 'cause you know she just died recently over 100 years old. And there's...

Gorham: Building named for her. I remember going to that dedication. I kept up with her, corresponded with her for a long time, 'cause I was very fond of her. And uhm.. she had a classroom on the front of the building, and her office was right beside it, and it was probably her office was a closet, and it was probably about an 8 x 4.5. And she had this little teeny desk in it. And we would go have conference in it at this little teeny desk, and her chair, and our chair, and talk about our papers.

Hayes: And she was English professor?

Gorham: English professor.

Hayes: But she at that time was not-- was she administration, too, or just as a teacher?

Gorham: I think at that time just professor.

Hayes: Well, interesting. What did she look like? I mean, what's your memory of her as a...

Gorham: She was very neat, very poised, very uhm.. precise talking. Uhm...

Hayes: Small, large?

Gorham: She was probably about 5'3". Very fixed hair, very exact makeup. Uhm.. she would put her head back and laugh sometimes. Like go, "Ha-ha-ha-ha." It was a very-- it was never like a very just belly laugh where, you know, just you know, fall apart laugh, but very, "Ha-ha-ha-ha. Very funny, Louise," you know, kind of thing. But uhm.. she was- she was a nice person, nice person.

Hayes: And you kept writing to her?

Gorham: Yes, we would-- you know, I would write for a while letters, and then it got down to Christmas cards. And then it just quit, which I shouldn't have.

Hayes: Well, no, that's all right.

Gorham: And then I had a Katherine Noyes, who uhm.. I remember had a uhm.. Modern Lit under her, and I probably had some other classes, I'm sure I did, but that one sticks in my mind, because I can remember writing papers for her, and she would probably write more on them when I got them back than I had written. She would write in ______ red.

Hayes: Now when you say writing papers, you probably were typing those, or were those handwritten?

Gorham: No, these were handwritten, generally.

Hayes: 'Cause when did the typewriter, later pretty much, start to...

Gorham: Uhm.. we were not required to type- type them then. When I went off to Wake Forest, I remember we were.

Hayes: Yeah.

Gorham: And for a while they didn't require us to type them- type them out.

Hayes: Noyes continued for a long time as a professor, didn't she?

Gorham: Yes, she did. And she was a fine person, uhm.. very-- she was brilliant. She was very good. And uhm.. she would do things like, I mean, she would require us to write a paper, she would give us up till 12:00 that night to get it in. (clears throat) And she would put a basket, she would hang a basket on her door where she lived. And uhm.. she would give us her address, and she'd say, "You have till 12:00 to get it in." And we would drop it in that basket on her front door. Isn't that funny?

Hayes: At her house?

Gorham: Drop, yeah, at her house. At her house. And she'd occasionally have study groups at her house. Uhm.. and we would go stay at her feet literally. You know she would sit in the chair, and we'd sit around on the floor in little stools and chairs.

Hayes: Wow! That's nice.

Gorham: It was nice, and she would veer off into her life some time, and tell us about going through the depression, and she was very lucky to have a job, and that she would teach and do janitorial work.

Hayes: In the '30s, you mean?

Gorham: And that's-- during the depression-- and that's how fortunate she was to have a job, and didn't mind doing both, because she was so glad to have a job. And uhm.. I can't-- seems like she was from Connecticut. I can't remember exactly.

Hayes: Oh, interesting, a Yankee. That was...

Gorham: She was, but she- she seemed to, you know, like Wilmington College, and uhm.. the students liked her.

Hayes: But it seems to me like in some ways, coming from the big New Hanover High School, you got a small college flavor by going there, if you could go to some teacher's house, or class of only five. I mean, there was some nice benefits of the smaller setting.

Gorham: Well, there was, but I- I guess, even being in a big high school, you knew your teachers, and they knew you. Uhm...

Hayes: It wasn't impersonal.

Gorham: It wasn't impersonal. And the fact that in the '50s, the teachers that were in high school, were the teachers that had been there for years and years. Uhm.. Ms. Walsh had taught some parents-- hadn't taught mine because they weren't here. But had taught some parents. You know, some of my friends, I mean, that's how teachers had stayed in their positions that long. Uhm...

Hayes: You said you had to take a science class, so you had an actual lab of biology lab?

Gorham: Oh, right, I had-- like in high school, we had biology labs where we, you know, we dissected cats. I got over at Wilmington College, and had biology labs where I dissected pigs. And I was probably fairly advanced compared to where some of the children-- students had come from, smaller, you know, high schools, surrounding areas, you know, from wherever they came. And uhm.. so I- I was probably advanced to some of them.

Hayes: And you could tell a difference that that small rural high school made a difference?

Gorham: Well, you know, you didn't sit around thinking about it.

Hayes: No, no, I understand.

Gorham: But we probably were, because I can remember-- and it didn't- it didn't come out that way, but I can remember when it was time for tests or exams, you know, people would come over to my house, and you know, we would kind of have these study jams, and you'd catch them up on their notes, and you know, it helped me, because I had to repeat it and answer questions, and they answered some of mine. You know, it wasn't like I was this brilliant person, because I wasn't. And I always tell people that Wilmington College must've been pretty good, because I wasn't the smartest person in the world, and they prepared me for Wake Forest very, very well.

Hayes: Excellent.

Gorham: And so...

Hayes: And the curriculum was the traditional first two years that you needed to take.

Gorham: Yes.

Hayes: You had English...

Gorham: Math, science.

Hayes: And you took biology. Is that what you took? What would you have in the way of history? Who were your...

Gorham: I took young Dr. Randall. Uh.. I took...

Hayes: Oh, really? You had...

Gorham: Let's see, I had Economics with him.

Hayes: Economics?

Gorham: Economics.

Hayes: Now had he just come before you had come? It must've been right in that time period.

Gorham: I think probably-- I was trying to think, I had uh.. History with him, I had economics class with him. And then I had a Mildred Johnson for world European history. And she was a character! She clicked her false teeth, and told you these just tales that weren't in the history book. And of course, it made you remember the dates and the people, you know, when she told you the kind of things that weren't in history books. And her classes were humongous. They were just filled to the brim, because everybody signed up for them because they heard she was such a character.

Hayes: Now was she a full-timer then?

Gorham: She was fulltime. And uhm.. she...

Hayes: And was she a doctor?

Gorham: I can't remember. And- and her sister was married to Dr. Randall, who was the president of the college.

Hayes: Really? Was that his second wife?

Gorham: Yes, second wife. It was his second wife.

Hayes: So tell me again, who the teacher was.

Gorham: Her name was Mildred Johnson.

Hayes: Johnson.

Gorham: And I can't remember Dr. Randall's wife's name.

Hayes: Isn't that interesting.

Gorham: And uhm.. she took care of her mother, and her mother was very elderly and blind. And she did things like ask me to go read to her mother sometimes.

Hayes: Wow!

Gorham: And then she would be asked to come speak to the Daughters of the American Revolution, or somebody like that. And she would up and take some of us with her, and she would say, "Louise, I want you to talk on So-and-So." I can't remember who it was, or something. And she'd tell somebody else to talk on them. And she would, you know, kind of show us off. And it would be good PR for the university. And uh.. I can remember doing that once. Whether we did it more than once, I can't remember.

Hayes: Tell me about Randall. You said "young Mr. Randall." He can't be uh...

Gorham: Young Dr. Randall.

Hayes: Well, he wasn't that young!

Gorham: And he was-- well, to-- you know, I didn't think he was that young. Of course, he probably really, really was.

Hayes: No, he was a Colonel in World War II and he was born in 1898.

Gorham: I'm not talking about-- I'm talking about his son, when I say "young" Dr. Randall.

Hayes: Oh, you're talking about-- you had for science...

Gorham: No, no.

Hayes: Oh, economics. You mean you had Duncan Randall.

Gorham: I had Duncan.

Hayes: Oh, well, he would've been young.

Gorham: He was real young.

Hayes: Oh, that's interesting.

Gorham: Yes, yes. Oh, I didn't have Dr. Randall for any classes. I don't think he taught any. And uhm.. of course, you know, we were told a little bit about him, and I thought he was God practically. And if I had to go into his office for any reason, on an errand for somebody, or take him something, I meant, if I had to say five words, I stumbled over three of them, you know. And when I passed him in the hall, I walked very lightly. You know, and look at him in awe, because we had heard some of the war stories, you know, and about him cataloguing in the Vatican.

Hayes: Oh, yeah!

Gorham: And just things like that, and I mean- I mean, even to this day I'm still in awe of him.

Hayes: But you took from Duncan Randall, who just recently passed away.

Gorham: I'm sorry, I mis-- yeah.

Hayes: Well, I'm glad to get that cleared up, because at that point Dr. Randall would've been you know, 60. So I'm saying...

Gorham: Oh, yes.

Hayes: And his son was...

Gorham: What would've Duncan been, how old then, you probably reckon?

Hayes: Yeah, 35 or 40.

Gorham: I still thought he was old. (laughs)

Hayes: I bet to a student he was still...

Gorham: I was 18, too, then, old.

Hayes: But he wasn't old-old.

Gorham: Oh, no, no. And Dr. Randall was probably 60, and I thought he was ancient. And I'm 65 now.

Hayes: Well, it's all relative.

Gorham: All relative.

Hayes: So you took Duncan and he wasn't a doctorate at that time. He later went back and got a doctorate degree when he was out when the campus had moved.

Gorham: He was a tough teacher, though, let me tell you.

Hayes: Really? Oh.

Gorham: He was tough. He was tough.

Hayes: But it sounds like he taught a lot of different courses. I mean, everybody taught a lot of different courses, I guess.

Gorham: They had to- they had to. I had a so-- what was it called? Some kind of Economics, that was really tough. And he'd do things like give us a test, and all the answers were correct, but you had to get the most correct answer. I'd never taken a test like that. You know, and I couldn't reason like that. I'm a woman.

Hayes: Oh! The most correct answer?

Gorham: I didn't do very- I didn't do very well on them, you know. I'd say, (in a crying voice) "Dr. Randall, I didn't- I didn't make a very good grade on this test." And he'd say, (in a gruff voice) "Well, just study more next time!" I'd go, (crying) "Oh, god."

Hayes: But you made it through.

Gorham: I made it through- I made it through.

Hayes: But at that point were you still thinking teaching?

Gorham: Oh, yes, yes. In fact, he really didn't change my mind. And we had another professor, Dr. Z- Zebrowski, he was biology and zoology. And uhm.. I worked in the lab for him. And he was very colorful, and I- I don't remember what nationality he was, if it was Polish.

Hayes: But you mean he had an accent even?

Gorham: Oh, very, very-- we had trouble understanding him. And he wore very thick glasses. And he really couldn't see without them. And we would do-- I bet you'd be kicked out of school probably for doing things like this nowadays. But the lab assistants, if we knew he was going to give us a pop test, uhm.. and if he would take off his glasses to see through the microscope, we would hide his glasses. And uhm.. he'd say, "Where are my glasses? Where are my glasses?" And we'd say, "I don't know, Dr. Zebrowski!" "Find my glasses!" we'd say, "Are you going to give us a pop test?" "Where are my glasses? Where are my glasses?" And we say, "Are you going to give us a pop test?" he'd say, "No! Give me my glasses!" And we'd give them to him, and everybody would laugh, and he'd laugh. I mean, it was just... silly stuff like that. Isn't that funny? I mean, but you couldn't do things like that nowadays.

Hayes: That's great.

Gorham: Isn't that funny?

Hayes: That's a great story. You blackmailed him into not giving-- but I bet he got you later with another one.

Gorham: He probably did- probably did- probably did. And then one of my favorite professors was Dr. A-- he wasn't a doctor, I don't think he ever was-- Adrian Hurst, the math department.

Hayes: No.

Gorham: I know you know him. there's a street name for him at the university.

Hayes: Oh, he's before my time, I'm afraid.

Gorham: Oh, very much so. And uhm.. I was to have him for uhm.. about-- for Algebra. And uhm.. then Trigonometry.

Hayes: Ooh.

Gorham: And in high school I had taken Algebra and then a half-year of advanced Algebra and Trig. And I am not very good at math. And I studied hard and did well. You know? If you studied hard enough, you'd get it. And so when I got over to Wilmington College and signed up for classes, uhm.. I decided I'd go back and take Algebra, and then get to my Trigonometry later to fulfill my requirements, so then just take advanced Algebra. And uhm.. so I signed up for 101 or whatever it was. And I guess he saw I had taken that in high school, and he said, "Louise, you don't need to repeat that." I said, "Oh, yes, I do, Mr. Hurst," I said, "Yes, I do. You know, I'm not very good at it." He said, "Take both of them simultaneously." He said, "And if you do all right in the second one, I'll give you credit for the first one and the second one." I said, "Oh, I can't do that!" He said, "Yes, do it." He was trying to give me some confidence, I'm sure. So what he did was, I did it for him for a few months. And what he ended up doing was have me teach the 101 class for a while.

Hayes: You're kidding!

Gorham: And that gave me enough confidence to know-- I mean, he was just trying to give me some confidence, I'm sure. And then he gradually just eased me on into the other class. Now, wasn't that something?

Hayes: Isn't that great! So you helped him out by teaching that...

Gorham: Well, I mean, and he was just-- I'm sure he was just trying to give me some confidence.

Hayes: Interesting.

Gorham: To- to go on into the other class, where, you know, coming into college, just probably needed a little boost, and I just didn't have the confidence in math. Now my other classes, I was fine, going on into whatever. But math, (laughs) I did not have it. Still don't have it.

Hayes: I'm afraid that scares a lot of us, so, interesting. that's really good. And his name was Hurst.

Gorham: Hurst. He lived down on the sound, and uhm.. he took me on my first fishing trip. He took Peggy Olson and me, out on the sound, gill net fishing.

Hayes: Interesting.

Gorham: And the first time we did it, I meant the fish just were in there. And I can remember jumping up and down in the boat, and he said, "Louise, sit down! you're going to turn us over." But I was just so excited. He just, you know, and I'm sure he did that for lots of people, little things like that.

Hayes: Well, that's interesting, because really knowing your professors like that was quite interesting. I mean, do you think that you were different than other students, that you were more involved?

Gorham: Oh, no! Oh, no. I'm sure-- I'm just sure there were lots of-- I bet you could talk to 75 percent of the student body, and hear them say things similar to this.

Hayes: Interesting, really involved. And they really saw their role as preparing you to be successful to that next level, right?

Gorham: I'm sure.

Hayes: Were they proud that their students went on to the next level?

Gorham: Oh, yes, and I'm sure the majority of them did. And I'm sure some of them probably had to wait in-between. There were a lot of married students, like I said, and some older students. And I'm sure it didn't come easy, and I'm sure they had to stop maybe in-between.

Hayes: So you wanted to be there. Most of the students really wanted to be there.

Gorham: Yes, yes. I doubt that there were very many there who didn't want to be there, who were there under pressure, or there just because mom/dad wanted them to be there. I'm sure, and I doubt that there were too many.

Hayes: Well, I think it was a different time in the sense that to be in college at all, you really had to want to be there.

Gorham: Oh, yes, yes.

Hayes: And a little bit more accepted now to try it, I guess. I mean, maybe I'm just speculating.

Gorham: Well, and I think, you know, financially, everybody didn't go to college, you know.

Hayes: It was still rare.

Gorham: It was still rare. You went only if your folks were well off, or if you managed to get a scholarship, or sent yourself. Or...

Hayes: And those Korean folks probably had the GI Bill, right?

Gorham: Oh, yes.

Hayes: That was a life-saver for them.

Gorham: World War II.

Hayes: So World War II was still in effect. Some of those folks...

Gorham: Yes, uhm hm.

Hayes: Wow. Now you mentioned the facility. Were there other activities? In other words, any kind of, you know, student activities, social activities that were a part of the school?

Gorham: We had our own student government.

Hayes: Oh, really, oh.

Gorham: And uhm.. we had basketball team that they played over at New Hanover High School. They shared that gym.

Hayes: And who would they play? Other community colleges?

Gorham: Other small colleges. And uhm.. let's see, we had a baseball team. Had cheerleaders. Uhm.. we had a really nice variety of things to do.

Hayes: Good.

Gorham: And people would do them, lot of school spirit. We had a parade-- you know, rather than having _________football, we had _________ basketball.

Hayes: Got started early, right? We never did get to football, did we?

Gorham: No. Which is okay.

Hayes: Now you sounded like you worked quite a bit. So you weren't as involved in some of those outside activities, because if you had three different jobs, that was...

Gorham: Well, I find-- I guess, I don't think I'm _____________ to it. More pressure's on, the more you can get done. I was very active in the student council. I belonged to a literary club.

Hayes: Did it have a name?

Gorham: I think it was called Pen Pushers.

Hayes: Interesting.

Gorham: Ms. Morton was-- Shannon Morton was our uhm.. advisor. I can't even remember who advised student council. Isn't that awful?

Hayes: No, it's fine.

Gorham: Uhm.. my memory's not doing too well, Sherman. I uh.. another funny thing I can remember meeting some of my friends in the library in the mornings, and there was a table right came in this way, and there was a table here, and bookcases, and Ms. Dorsey sat over here. And the periodicals were over this way. And whoever came in first in our little morning group would get the paper and turn to Ann Landers, and three-- there must've been four or five of us would sit down, and whoever got the paper first would read Ann Landers to us. (laughs) And we would chuckle over it. Isn't that silly?

Hayes: No, that's good. At least you were reading.

Gorham: It was funny.

Hayes: And what was the library? Just a room in the...

Gorham: It probably was about-- covered about three big rooms.

Hayes: Oh, wow.

Gorham: That they had put together. And uhm...

Hayes: People had donated books and had...

Gorham: Had lots of books and periodicals, and that's basically what the Friends of the University, when they-- uh.. they came into being, was to help the library to get enough books to be accredited by the uh.. I guess it was the Southern Association of Colleges and Universities.

Hayes: Even back in '57 they started it?

Gorham: I think that was a little later, but that was just my point though, where they came into being, when the university, I think, moved out. Yes, it was probably...

Hayes: So you were there in fifty...

Gorham: I graduated in '59.

Hayes: '59. So you started probably '57. '57-'58, '58-'59.

Gorham: Uhm hm.

Hayes: Graduated in May, June?

Gorham: It was probably early June.

Hayes: Normal time.

Gorham: We had graduation over in Brogden Hall.

Hayes: Oh, good. Big crowd turns out for that?

Gorham: I remember Dr. Hartford, which was uhm.. the International Paper Company, what was it called then?

Hayes: Riegelwood.

Gorham: Riegelwood. He was head of that, and spoke.

Hayes: He was your speaker? Oh, that's great.

Gorham: And then uhm.. do you remember we came back over to the uhm.. it was a kind of meeting room, small auditorium in the back of uhm.. Isaac Bear and had a reception. Uhm.. and later I got to know him on the adult level at my church at St. Andrews Covenant Presbyterian Church.

Hayes: The gentleman who spoke?

Gorham: Yes, that- that was nice.

Hayes: Did you remind him that...

Gorham: Yes, I did. Yes, I did. I grew very fond of him, (inaudible). But uhm.. graduation was nice.

Hayes: And you didn't take summer school, right? Did they even offer summer school?

Gorham: I don't remember.

Hayes: So you're done with Wilmington College, and still had Wake Forest in mind.

Gorham: Then went on to Wake Forest. Two years at Wake Forest.

Hayes: And felt good about that preparation.

Gorham: I did.

Hayes: Now when you went to Wake Forest, were there lots of people coming from community colleges, or were you an unusual...

Gorham: Uhm.. there were a lot of transfer students.

Hayes: Were there?

Gorham: I say "a lot," I couldn't tell you how many.

Hayes: But you didn't feel somehow unusual.

Gorham: I didn't feel like I was in the minority, other than...

Hayes: Yeah, unusual or anything.

Gorham: No, hm uhm, no. Fit right in. I remember walking across campus, and uhm.. the Dean of Students, Ed Bullson, I remember he would say, "Good morning, Louise." He could call my name.

Hayes: At Wake Forest?

Gorham: Isn't that amazing?

Hayes: But it was still a small college?

Gorham: It was fairly, fairly small, yeah.

Hayes: Yeah, yeah. So you felt comfortable moving. It wasn't like a shock if you would've gone to Chapel Hill.

Gorham: Right.

Hayes: Something like that. that's great. And did they have teacher education? And was that a major program there at Wake Forest?

Gorham: Right. And then I took all my education classes there, and then I had to catch up on a few things like Wilmington College didn't offer PE for women, so I had to catch up on that. Which was, you know, didn't get too excited about that, taking swimming with freshmen.

Hayes: And all of your credits transferred, because it was a bona fide school? There wasn't any problem with that?

Gorham: I don't remember anything not transferring. I might've been short like on PE or some things like that.

Hayes: Now did they actually issue you an Associate's degree?

Gorham: Oh, yes. Yeah.

Hayes: That's good. Now had nursing started at that point at Wilmington College? I don't think so. I mean, were they doing any other than the traditional two-year, were there other programs at all?

Gorham: I think maybe there might have been, because I think I knew some girls that were in-- I remember taking chemistry, that maybe were in the nursing. I'm not positive, Sherman.

Hayes: I don't know myself, because, you know, the community colleges today have got both kind of trades and college prep.

Gorham: Regular, too, yes, yes.

Hayes: And then I guess Isaac Bear later on got torn down?

Gorham: It did- it did.

Hayes: How'd you feel about that? I mean, were you back in town at that point? Or can you remember?

Gorham: I- I was. But I- I don't remember it.

Hayes: Didn't make a big difference?

Gorham: No.

Hayes: I mean, it was an old building, and you said the smoke came up through the...

Gorham: Through the floors. (laughs) It'd been nice if it'd been saved. It really would have. It was a pretty building. You know? It was a pretty old building.

Hayes: That's...

Gorham: But I, you know, I guess they had to have, or things had to have-- they used the back of it. I remember they used that gym part for a while.

Hayes: Even after, you mean, people left?

Gorham: Oh, yeah, the high school used it for a while.

Hayes: So you get done with Wake Forest, and you come back?

Gorham: And taught school!

Hayes: Well, isn't that great?

Gorham: I did. I taught for seven years.

Hayes: What level?

Gorham: I taught junior high school.

Hayes: What subject?

Gorham: I taught science. I did. I taught at Thompson, and then at Lake Forest.

Hayes: For years and years and years?

Gorham: I taught uhm.. I think it was four years at Thompson, and three at Lake Forest. And then I quit to have my children. Who are 35 and almost 34 now.

Hayes: But that was a more common practice? In other words, in the sense of wanting to have children and teaching didn't necessarily go together.

Gorham: Well, back then they wouldn't let you teach like split a contract, or teach a half a day. Wish they would have, it'd been nice. But back then they wouldn't. I guess they do now.

Hayes: Yeah, yeah. Now how did you get reconnected to the university then? I mean, 'cause you've been very active in the UNCW Friends, or is it Friends of UNCW, I can't remember.

Gorham: Friends of UNCW.

Hayes: How did you get pulled back into that circle?

Gorham: I would say it's-- oh, it's been a long time to be able to be on Friend's board. And uhm.. I guess starting tomorrow, or when the new starts, it'll be about my fourth turn on the board. And I've always enjoyed being on the board. I re...

Hayes: And tell us what the Friends group is. I mean, what's your sense of the...

Gorham: Well, it- it began to help the library to purchase books to become accredited, like I said previously. And uhm.. now the Friends raise money, and it's not just for the library now. They ask each department to submit requests for a grant as for something they need for their department, and it's something that they can't get otherwise, they didn't-- and it's usually icing on the cake. And uhm.. we try to fund as many as we can each year. And you know, from microscopes for a department, to flags for the uhm.. student center, to something, piano for the music department. Just- just a variety of things.

Hayes: Right, right.

Gorham: And uhm.. they always seem very appreciative.

Hayes: Oh, they are.

Gorham: And all. At the annual meeting like, which should be tomorrow, they award the grants. And uhm.. people us-- always say what they'll be used for. And uhm.. but we also do a scholarship. And uhm...

Hayes: So were you involved in this last big Installation Ball?

Gorham: Oh, yes!

Hayes: Tell us about that. That's kind of exciting.

Gorham: I'm not on the board this go-round, but they asked me to come uhm.. head the uhm.. decorations for the Gala.

Hayes: Excellent, I went to that, that was wonderful!

Gorham: It was wonderful, wasn't it?

Hayes: Yeah.

Gorham: I was so excited! I was so glad they asked me to help. And uhm...

Hayes: Well, tell us, for the record, what that was about. What was the ball about?

Gorham: Well, it was called a Gala, and it was the Installation Ball. And uhm.. the money that was from-- raised from the tickets went to a scholarship that Dr. DePaolo wanted to establish. And it was a scholarship different from the one that the Friends have. And uhm.. the tickets were a little more than they had been in the past, and...

Hayes: Well, let's put down how much they were. They were $150 per person.

Gorham: And uhm.. some people said, "Oh, no! don't make them that much!" you know kind of thing. And it does seem a lot, but when you realize that's what it was going for, uhm.. and on top of that Aramark donated the food, which was very generous!

Hayes: Wow.

Gorham: And uhm.. so very little went, you know, to expenses, really. And...

Hayes: You had a good turnout. Were you real pleased with the...

Gorham: We were pleased. We always wish it was more, but it was about full. If we had had full contingency, we couldn't have we-- moved, probably. So it really was a nice crowd.

Hayes: Well, I think it was over 300, wasn't it?

Gorham: It was about 350.

Hayes: Wow.

Gorham: So we felt good.

Hayes: Out at Wagner.

Gorham: Wagner Hall, uhm hm. And uh.. we took _____________.

Hayes: Oh, that was nice. It was really nice.

Gorham: Dr. DePaolo seemed very pleased.

Hayes: And how much did you raise?

Gorham: About $25,000.

Hayes: that's a lot.

Gorham: And some people that couldn't come sent in money.

Hayes: Oh did they?

Gorham: Yes, they did.

Hayes: Great, great.

Gorham: And uhm.. so...

Hayes: Well, I thought it was a wonderful event, and even...

Gorham: I thought the whole week was fun.

Hayes: It was really good. And the people that complained about it, I felt, missed the point of it, which was to raise scholarships. And if it was going to be $25, you couldn't raise any money.

Gorham: Any money.

Hayes: Might have been a nice ball, but you couldn't raise any money that way.

Gorham: And the Friends asked to do that specifically, and all, you know, to do something for Dr. DePaolo.

Hayes: Now is the Friends primarily a female group, or by definition, or just by happenstance?

Gorham: I think it's by happenstance.

Hayes: Alright.

Gorham: I'm sure if some men said they'd like to be on the board, they'd be welcome. And I got sidetracked a little bit about the Friends. Uhm.. when we meet, the exciting part about that is every time we meet, we learn something about the university. They will ask a department head to come speak to us. And they will do that, or they'll speak and take us to their department, or if something new has been built, we get to, you know, walk through it, ask questions about it, or whatever. Or if it's a new like the International Dorm, or the Honors Dorm or whatever. And it's-- it is just so wonderful to know what's going on.

Hayes: Right, so you're connected both ways.

Gorham: Yeah, right! But...

Hayes: You help, but you also learn.

Gorham: Right.

Hayes: Well, that's great.

Gorham: And uhm.. we get to-- of course, as a-- believe me I get the newsletter anyway, but we get-- the Friends get that. And so it's just-- it's nice to be connected with it. And uhm.. I just love knowing what's new, and what's going on.

Hayes: Excellent. Now you're, I guess, for the record, you have a family and a husband. Is there a husband?

Gorham: Yes, I'm married to Dumay Gorham. He's an attorney. He's with Marshall, Williams, Gorham. Marshall, Williams, Gorham. And he's been practicing for 35 years.

Hayes: And is his family is old Wilmington?

Gorham: No, he's from Washington, North Carolina.

Hayes: Washington, okay.

Gorham: I have two boys. Dumay III, and Patrick. They both live here.

Hayes: And Dumay is an artist, right?

Gorham: Artist. He's a metal sculptor. He's an iron-monger.

Hayes: Iron-monger.

Gorham: That's what we call him. He's good at what he does.

Hayes: And your other son is...

Gorham: Other son works with Dean Hardwoods.

Hayes: I don't know what that is.

Gorham: It's-- they import like Brazilian hard Mahagony and teak, and stuff like that.

Hayes: Oh, I didn't even know about them. That's great.

Gorham: They're down on the river. So I tell people they both had sand between their toes, and it didn't go anywhere. I told them, I said, "I want you to go other places, and know about other peoples, and live other places, and do other things. And then if you decide to come home, that'll be wonderful." But I wanted them to spread their wings. They did pretty much. Then they came home.

Hayes: They came back, well that's great.

Gorham: That sand didn't go anywhere.

Hayes: Now tell me about some of your other friends that you've worked for in the Friends before. That would be good to get on the record. Did you ever know Mrs. Schwartz? I mean, B.D.'s wife was-- trying to think what her first name was. But she was early on.

Gorham: Right. I- I knew of her, but I never worked with her. And uhm.. Ms. Hall, can't think of her first name either.

Hayes: Well, who were some of your contemporaries that you worked with over the years?

Gorham: Uh.. Linda Mantz, and uhm.. Jeanne Poole, uh.. Lydia Hines, uhm.. Cecilia Coryu [ph?]. Uhm...

Hayes: And you said you were on the board. Have you been also the president one of those times?

Gorham: Oh, no. I've never been the president.

Hayes: You haven't been. You want me to put a word in to try to get you in?

Gorham: I just-- no, no, no, no! I've uhm.. I've been nominated, and I- I usually get uhm.. put on uhm.. whatever they call it to be in charge of social events, because uhm.. I had a flower business for about 11 years.

Hayes: Oh, really?

Gorham: And I retired about three years ago. So uhm...

Hayes: You had your own shop and everything?

Gorham: No, I just worked out of my home. And uh.. it's called "Bouquets Limited."

Hayes: Beautiful. In fact, I'm going to move right here to-- aha! And we have that. And this is one you did yourself?

Gorham: Yes.

Hayes: That is wonderful. And those are live flowers?

Gorham: No. They're silk.

Hayes: Oh, those are great! Just great.

Gorham: But the colors are pretty, aren't they?

Hayes: They just are wonderful. Wow! Another little treat for us there. I didn't realize-- and so you would do commissioned work for flowers?

Gorham: I usually did uhm.. weddings and dinner parties and things like that.

Hayes: Well, that makes sense why they called on you for the Installation.

Gorham: So I usually uhm.. asked to, you know, do the uhm.. annual meeting, or if we're doing other things like that.

Hayes: So did you get to know all of the other formal florists in town, that's who you'd work with?

Gorham: No, no.

Hayes: Just a few?

Gorham: Just do it-- like I'd be given other members to work with me. Like, you know, two or three members would be assigned to me, and we would do whatever they asked us to do.

Hayes: No, I meant for your business.

Gorham: Oh, for my business.

Hayes: Who did you use for that?

Gorham: Oh, no, I had a partner, Marie Kahn [ph?]. And then if I need other help, I would hire casual help. Uhm.. it'd depend on how big the event was.

Hayes: But where did you get your own supplies for material?

Gorham: A wholesale florist.

Hayes: Oh, you went right to the wholesaler.

Gorham: But then other times, we'd pick on the ditch banks, and some other people's yards.

Hayes: Local things, yeah.

Gorham: My husband said he wasn't gonna get me out of jail for stealing. And I said, "Oh, yes you will! You'll get hungry." (laughs)

Hayes: You're a lawyer!

Gorham: We tried to do things that didn't look too florist-y, and tried to do garden-y looking things.

Hayes: Excellent.

Gorham: So we tried to-- it would take about, you know, two or three days to prepare. You know, it wasn't just getting in flowers, and say, "Oh, let's arrange them." But it would take a long time to prepare and- and cut, and get your act together, and so but it was fun. I- I was glad I did it.

Hayes: And well, some important events for those people. I mean, they want it to be just perfect.

Gorham: Perfect.

Hayes: Yeah.

Gorham: It was fun. But I came out of retirement for the Installation.

Hayes: Let's end with some sense of perspective, because you bring an interesting viewpoint where you saw the school at its beginnings, near beginnings, with a few hundred students, and one of the seminal, first presidents, you know, Matt Randall, and then here you are a part of the new wave with uh.. Rosemary DePaolo, and the new chancellor, and 11,000 students! I mean, how do you feel about this beginning that you had? I mean, are you proud of what's happened to the school?

Gorham: Sherman, when I was home from Wake Forest the first Thanksgiving holiday, I guess Christmas holiday, I can remember standing out on the two-lane road, which is now South College, and watching those three buildings being built, and I thought my heart was going to come out of my chest! And now, when I walk that campus, it's breathtaking. I'm so proud of it. So proud of it, and to have been a part of the early days.

Hayes: That's great. Well, I think one of the things people like is that when you invest and you have your degree, even if it's two years, or four years, or masters, you sure like that to keep growing and be better. Seems like you had pretty good value from those two years.

Gorham: Right! I- I try to give something back to the university along. I've uhm.. worked with Pat uhm.. Smith at the Wallace House.

Hayes: Excellent.

Gorham: I've uhm.. tried to work with her off and on. And I've enjoyed working with her a lot. And so that way, and through the Friends, I feel like I've been able to give something back. Uhm.. but it's just been fun for me. It hadn't been work. (laughs)

Hayes: Thank you. (tape paused and restarted)

Gorham: ...Citizen Award for Service to Community and University.

Hayes: We're back! (laughs) You thought we'd left. No! You were just mentioning off camera, that you had just recently received a very distinguished award from the university. Tell us about that. That's exciting.

Gorham: Uhm.. Sherman, I was so thrilled, and I was really shocked, too. Uhm.. I was fortunate and pleased and happy to be awarded the Distinguished Citizen Award for Service to uhm.. the University and Community. And it was-- they had this wonderful dinner for me.

Hayes: Oh, wonderful! Where was it held?

Gorham: It was held at the Ward Building in the ballroom. And uhm.. they gave me a plaque, and Dr. DePaolo was there. They did this little uhm.. video of my service to the university and community. It was kind of like, "This Is Your Life."

Hayes: Oh, my god.

Gorham: And uhm...

Hayes: Well, it must've been more than just the university, because if it was the community, too, there was some other things. 'Cause what other things have you been involved with in the community? I mean, there must've been a long list of things.

Gorham: Well, that's kind of been my-- after I quit teaching, I really kind of put my emphasis with my family and the community, 'cause I felt like I had a lot to give back. And I was really active with the uhm.. beginnings of the Friends of the Library, public library.

Hayes: Oh, good!

Gorham: And uhm.. stayed active with them a right good while. And then we got a new library out of it. And that was exciting. And then I helped uhm.. organize and start the Presbyterian Counseling Center.

Hayes: Oh, good!

Gorham: And that's...

Hayes: that's a very good...

Gorham: And I've been real active for about 20 years, and I feel like that's touched a lot of people. Uhm.. those have been two of the main things. And of course, I've done a lot at my church.

Hayes: Right, which is the...

Gorham: St. Andrews Covenant Presbyterian.

Hayes: Right, and that's out on...

Gorham: 15th and Market.

Hayes: 15th and Market?

Gorham: It's a pretty gothic church, there near the high school.

Hayes: Near the high school. Oh, yes! I know that one! Okay, I'm trying to place where that one's at.

Gorham: I was the first uhm.. well, I'm the chairman of the deaconate, and I've been on the session. This makes my third time. And I've chaired the uhm.. Interiors Committee. And I've co-chaired the uhm.. Sanctuary Guild for a long time. (laughs) Which they did the flowers.

Hayes: Of course, that's kind of funny, because that's really only about a block away from the old Isaac Bear building, just on the other side of the...

Gorham: Right. You see, for a while, really this is funny, for a while my life was, you know, I lived close to there, and the high school was there, and the uhm.. the college was there. And then I end up part of my life is there now.

Hayes: For the church.

Gorham: For the church, and of course, but we don't live too far from there now.

Hayes: Well, you know, those six square blocks, you've spent a lot of time in that territory.

Gorham: Right, right, right.

Hayes: Well, congratulations on that. I'm sure it's well-deserved, and I think that the University is trying to help remind people of those early roots of Wilmington College, because people are still very loyal from that time period. And we always try to remind people that there was Wilmington College, and there's now University of North Carolina at Wilmington.

Gorham: During the uhm.. Installation, we- we went to a- a meeting of the Isaac Bear Society, and the uhm.. Wilmington College graduates and the retired professors. And so that was a really fun meeting and- and luncheon. You know, I heard some kind of funny tales there.

Hayes: Yeah, I bet!

Gorham: It was- it was-- people were glad to see each other.

Hayes: Oh, that's good.

Gorham: It was a nice meeting, and Dr. DePaolo came and made a little talk, and said, "Thank you."

Repository:
UNCW Archives and Special Collections Online Database
Found in:
Randall Library | UNCW Archives and Special Collections | Online Database | Contact Us | Admin Login
Powered by Archon Version 3.21 rev-1
Copyright ©2012 The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign