BROWSE BY:     Title Number Subject Creator Digital Content

Interview with Thomas P. Brown, March 17, 2005 | UNCW Archives and Special Collections Online Database

pdf icon Get PDF Version
Interview with Thomas P. Brown, March 17, 2005
March 17, 2005
Mr. Thomas Brown is a career teacher at UNCW, arriving to teach math in 1958. He was teaching math and French at New Hanover High School prior to Wilmington College. His recollections involve the rapid campus growth, dynamics of students, Isaac Bear and other faculty members. He officially retired in 1993 but still teaches. From 1970-1980 he served as the Dean of Students at UNCW.
Phys. Desc:

Interviewee: Brown, Thomas P. Interviewer: Mims, LuAnn / Parnell, Jerry Date of Interview: 3/17/2005 Series: Southeast North Carolina (SENC) Length: 60 minutes

Mims: Today is March 17th, 2005. I am LuAnn Mims with Jerry Parnell for the Randall Library Special Collections and today we are going to talk to Mr. Thomas Brown who has been a long time faculty member at UNCW, beginning with Wilmington College and we also have the benefit of asking him questions regarding James Walker Memorial Hospital. Good morning to you sir.

Brown: Good morning.

Mims: If we could just get a little personal background...where you were born and raised, what your family was doing, etcetera...?

Brown: Well, I was born and raised in Wilmington. I mean, all my life, except for college days...

Mims: Uh huh.

Brown: this is home.

Mims: Where in Wilmington were you?

Brown: You mean living, or born?

Mims: Yea.

Brown: Different places. I've lived all over town.

Mims: Have you?

Brown: Yea. Wrightsville Beach sometimes

Mims: What kind of work did your dad do?

Brown: Dad was a grocerman. He had a grocery store.

Mims: In the downtown market?

Brown: No, it was in the old country stores, you know, you have on the corner...the neighborhood store.

Mims: Right, like the crossroads kind of store?

Brown: Um hum, that was before the A&P came in and knocked everybody out and...

Mims: Where was his store exactly?

Brown: Eleventh and Princess.

Mims: Oh...and what was it called?

Brown: Brown's Grocery.

Mims: I...I think we've come across that before.

Brown: Have you?

Mims: Yea.

Brown: From whom?

Mims: Well, I've been researching various different aspects of Wilmington and I think that's one of the ones...

Brown: Yea, it's Eleventh and Princess, about two blocks from the New Hanover High School.

Mims: Right. Did you go to New Hanover?

Brown: Oh yea, I went to New Hanover, I taught at New Hanover before I came to UNCW.

Mims: We understand a lot of the beginning faculty were teachers at New Hanover High School.

Brown: A lot...there were several of us, yea. Are you familiar with the Order of Isaac Bear?

Mims: We are a little bit, can you tell us a little bit about that?

Brown: Well now that's...they are the original fourteen of us, I believe, who taught at the old Isaac Bear building. And we have an Order which we call the Order of Isaac Bear. In fact, we had a meeting yesterday.

Mims: How many are left?

Brown: Out of the original fourteen...let's see, Duncan Randall has died, Walter Biggs has died, there might be...oh, Frank Allen has died.

Mims: He has?

Brown: Yea, so that's...I think they are the three that...of course now we have initiated other people into the Order because if we didn't, we'd die out.

Mims: Uh huh. And this is just a fellowship within the faculty?

Brown: Those people who taught in the original college, um hum.

Mims: I know that there was a scholarship offered at one time under this.

Brown: We offer a scholarship to anybody who is a descendent of one of us. In fact, Betsy Pearsall, I don't know whether you know her or not, in the English Department...we just offered her granddaughter a scholarship.

Mims: Oh.

Brown: And her name was Rachel Pleasants, I believe. She's graduating this year with a degree in elementary education.

Mims: Very nice. I mean, I've read about it, I don't know the specifics about it, and of course talking to Duncan, he mentioned it on occasion...what he would do,'s very nice that's there still this...this going on here.

Brown: Oh yea.

Mims: So how did you come over to Wilmington College? What is your educational background?

Brown: Well, I went to Chapel Hill and got a degree in teaching in math and French, and I taught at New Hanover High School you're really getting me...ahhh...I started teaching in 1943...taught my first year and decided I didn't like teaching, so I went to the Coastline and worked in the freight claim department. And I got down there and I decided I didn't like the Coastline because...well they had a seniority policy regardless of your somebody had more years, they'd get the job. You know what I mean? There was no future to me. So I left there and went back to teaching. And I stayed there at New Hanover for several years and then I went to James Walker Memorial Hospital and stayed there for five years.

Mims: Well, tell us what...what was your role at James Walker?

Brown: I was the business office manager.

Mims: And what did that entail?

Brown: Collecting bills, filing insurance claims, anything relative to business. People being admitted...whether you'd admit them or not. I mean I don't...I didn't do the actual admitting, but what I...

Mims: ...paperwork...

Brown: ...paperwork and so forth.

Mims: What years were you there, do you think?

Brown: Um...that probably was '53 through '58, I believe. And then I came to UNCW in '58, and I've been here ever since. And I retired in 1993, and I've been teaching part time every...ever since that. In fact, I'm teaching right now.

Mims: Well, um, your time at James Walker in the business office...we are just trying to find out, like the...the how the administration worked.

Brown: Okay.

Mims: Who was the...

Brown: The administrator was Horace Hamilton. He was the director, and the assistant director was Emory Grubbs.

Mims: Now I've seen Mr. Grubbs name because I think he came...kind of closed the place, I think later on. Isn't he the name that we keep showing?

Brown: Well he...he practically ran the place. Horace was administrator but Emory did most of the work. And then I worked under Emory.

Mims: Okay.

Brown: But I was...official title was...was the 'office manager'.

Mims: Okay. Now, this is a time when, like as we think about people going into the hospital, you use a lot of insurance...did you deal very much with third party insurance?

Brown: Well, I had to verify if somebody were coming into the hospital, whether they had appropriate insurance to be admitted, and how much it would pay, and so forth, and so...and of course all the insurance filing was under me.

Mims: Right. Well, Medicare had just come into being.

Brown: Had just...had just begun I believe.

Mims: Like maybe ten years into the mix or so...

Brown: Yea. So there wasn't much Medicare going on. Most of it was Blue Cross.

Mims: Really?

Brown: Yea, Blue Cross Blue Shield. And then you had some independents like Mutual and some of those.

Mims: Um hum. Because we've heard a couple of the doctors talk about how hospital care starting changing with insurance. That the mandate set forth by the insurance requiring...certain illnesses required so many days in the hospital. And...but you were at a time when those mandates weren't in was more doctor controlled?

Brown: Well they were...they were in place a little bit. In other words, the insurance policy would be good for a certain other words, you'd try to get 'em out of there in those days, and so forth.

Mims: Right. Well we hear about, you know, the...long time ago whenever parents...where people were taking care of their elderly parents and they needed to go away for a week and they'd admit them to the hospital.

Brown: Yea.

Mims: Do you remember anything like that, or...?

Brown: Not too much.

Mims: Not too much? Wasn't really abused as much as people think probably.

Brown: Now I remember the director of nurses at that time was Lucy Masten, M-A-S-T-E-N. And she was a hardliner. may have picked up her name in your discussions. But she, ah, she cracked the whip the nurses.

Mims: Um hum. We have several annuals and her picture is in those.

Brown: Um hum...I liked her. She was very good, but...but she was strict...and that was worthwhile.

Mims: Uh huh. Well...and there has to be some communication among the business staff and the nursing staff because of the...the charting from what I understand. Did you have to check the charts or anything?

Brown: Ah...I had to call on the nurses a lot for information and they were very cooperative...I mean..

Mims: Um hum.

Brown: That's as far as I went. I didn't do any medical stuff. And the nurses would let you know that.

Mims: They had their territory, and you didn't go there.

Brown: Oh yea, and they'd say "that's not in your territory".

Mims: "Where's your hat?"

Brown: Yea...yea, they don't wear hats anymore.

Mims: I know, and some of 'em are quite upset about it.

Brown: I always thought it looked real nice. But you go now don't know who's a nurse and who's a...what, helper, or what now.

Mims: It's hard to tell who the doctor is.

Brown: But old James Walker was quite a spread out place.

Mims: We've seen Sanborn maps and we've seen aerial photos. Can you tell us a little more about...

Brown: We...I mean, they just kept adding on...

Mims: Right.

Brown: it and just spread out like that. We had a...we had a separate room for the Blacks...and the Indians would not go into a room with the Blacks so we had an Indian room.

Mims: Where was that?

Brown: That was not far from them...Black. But there was an Indian room and Indians would not go in with the Black...Black people. That's...they said they are not Black, they are Indians. And...

Mims: Interesting...cause I've posed that question to several people...where did other nationalities go, like Chinese, or you know, Asian, and....we are a port city, we do get...

Brown: Yea, we're a port city, but they...they were very particular about where they went...the Indians particularly. And we had a...we had three or four rooms we put Indian Room on, that's what it amounted to.

Mims: Hum. Where was the business office located.

Brown: Are you familiar with the site?

Mims: A little bit.

Brown: Tenth was right at the very front. It was one of the newer buildings. Now the older building is...was over there adjacent to the nurses home that's now an apartment, you know, place.

Mims: Uh huh.

Brown: And that's...that was the original building.

Mims: Right.

Brown: And then they kept adding on and the business office was in the newer building.

Mims: Hum. Did you ever have any contact with the school of nursing?

Brown: Not really, other than through Lucy. I mean, we were friends, so...

Mims: Cause we have talked to a lot of student nurses there and, you know, we...we have had contact with the alumni association, and we know they were very well organized. So I just didn't know what your perspective was of the nursing school.

Brown: I respected them and they...

Mims: Community Hospital was the African American hospital.

Brown: Now that...I don't know much about that at all. I was not involved in that. That used to be there on Eleventh Street.

Mims: Um hum. So no contact with them.

Brown: I had no connection with that at all. I just knew it existed.

Mims: Okay. During this time that you're at James Walker, Bulluck Hospital is still functioning downtown on Front Street. Do you remember anything about it?

Brown: I don't think it was functioning.

Mims: It didn't move until '57 when it went down to where Cape Fear...

Brown: Was it '57?

Mims: Uh huh.

Brown: I remember where it is and I know where the building is and everything, but I didn't think it was functioning at that time, but if you say so...

Mims: Well, we have it opening...'57.

Brown: Um hum.

Mims: We also are curious about other places. I don't know whether you remember the Red Cross Sanitarium or not? It was out by the airport.

Brown: I remember it but I had no connection.

Mims: Um hum.

Brown: Yea, there was a Red Cross Sanitarium.

Mims: And then it moved out to Wrightsville Avenue.

Brown: I don't remember, but I thought there was a TB...

Mims: That was it.

Brown: Was that the TB?

Mims: Um hum.

Brown: Okay.

Mims: It became Wessel TB Sanitarium that moved out to Wrightsville Avenue.

Brown: Um hum.

Mims: How about Babies Hospital? Any input with them, or...?

Brown: I had no connection. That was Dr. Sidbury's hospital. I knew Dr. Sidbury, and I knew some of his children, went to school with some of his children, so...that's the only connection I have. And it's a shame they tore it down, isn't it?

Mims: Well they've torn down Babies, they've torn down most of Walker, Community is gone...

Brown: Yea.

Mims: We don't have too much left as far as our medical buildings go.

Brown: Um um.

Mims: So that's why, you know, we're kinda...anybody who has any idea, we ask them about everything.

Brown: Well you see, when we had the...the James Walker hospital, we had a bond issue. We've had several, and most of 'em fell through. The last one did pass and the idea was instead of spreading out like this, we go up like this. But you know what's happening out here, we're going up and out.

Mims: Um hum.

Brown: It's just as bad out there now as it was before. You walk yourself to death.

Mims: Tell me about it.

Brown: Good hospital though.

Mims: We have talked to Seymour Alper...

Brown: Yea.

Mims: ...and he told us a little bit...

Brown: He was on the board I think, yea. Now Emory Grubbs had a little chapel in there, have you ever seen it? You know where the elevators are?

Mims: Um hum.

Brown: Ah...right close to where the elevators are, there is a little chapel and it was dedicated to Emory. Emory Grubbs Chapel.

Mims: Huh.

Brown: For families who want to go in there.

Mims: Sure.

Brown: And it's real nice, you ought to...

Mims: Well, next time I go over there, I will take a look there.

Brown: Well as you go back to go to the elevators, it's right here.

Mims: I think I know where you're talking about, the Auxiliary is somewhere over there too.

Brown: Yea, there's an Auxiliary. has it on the door, up above...Emory Grubbs Chapel.

Mims: Cause we...we know that there are two plaques there, one for James Walker and one for those elevators...they have the little plaques there, so...

Brown: Right.

Mims: But I've never noticed the you know...

Brown: Well, stop and look at it.

Mims: And of course all of this is out of site, out of mind, so we're using other people's memories to help get our identification going. Well, let's go back to coming Wilmington College. How did you get recruited to come over here?

Brown: Ah...while I was teaching at New Hanover, I became acquainted with Mr.'ve heard of...

Mims: Adrian Hurst.

Brown:'ve heard of, and Adrian was the first math teacher at Wilmington College. And while I was teaching there at New Hanover, I became acquainted with him and he became interested in me, and he's the one who hired me to go over to Wilmington College. And that was in 1958.

Mims: So you came in 1958. So you were down at the old Isaac Bear...

Brown: Old Isaac Bear building.

Mims: Where was your classroom?

Brown: Well you had various classrooms. In other words, you didn't have a single classroom...go to one or the other, and so forth.

Mims: Um hum.

Brown: And the building was so bad, when it rained we had to put buckets in the room to catch the water. You haven't heard that yet?

Mims: No, uh uh.

Brown: Oh, the building was was deplorable and it would rain...and then downstairs in the basement, we taught classes and they had these pipes, like heating pipes...

Mims: Exposed pipes...yea.

Brown: pipes. And when you were teaching you had to be careful you didn't hit your head on 'em and so forth. And that was down in the basement, so...

Mims: I think we've seen a picture of Marshall Crews.

Brown: Marshall was there.

Mims: And his head is almost in those pipes, yea.

Brown: That's it...and then that's...

Mims: It looks like a drafting room or something.

Brown: That's that room downstairs. Now Marshall was the Dean.

Mims: Right.

Brown: And Dorothy Marshall, you've talked to her, she was the Registrar.

Mims: Um hum.

Brown: And, of course, Dr. Randall was the...well, before him there was ...well, T. T. Hamilton was the...

Mims: First...

Brown: ...first President...

Mims: ...President.

Brown: ...I guess you'd call it.

Mims: Yea.

Brown: But that was a branch of UNC-Chapel Hill. That was in the high school.

Mims: Right.

Brown: And then they moved over, then Roger Beamon, I believe is his name...

Mims: He took over Dean, but he never became President.

Brown: He wasn't President, but he was...he was the headman anyway.

Mims: Right. Hoggard was the...

Brown: Well, Hoggard was on the board, I think, he never...

Mims: He became President for that interim period...between Randall and Hamilton.

Brown: Okay. And then, of course, after Randall came...

Mims: Wagoner.

Brown: Wagoner. And after Wagoner came Leutze and so forth.

Mims: Right. So you've been under several.

Brown: Uh huh, I've been there for a long time.

Mims: Uh huh. Well, ahm...we have a lot of curiosity about some of these older folks, and of course the structure itself, because, once again, a torn down structure, we have no reference to it. Where were the faculty offices, or did you have an office?

Brown: We had a room about the size of this...classroom...and we had desk in there, and there may have been twenty some odd desks lined up and that was our office. Other than Marshall, now, he had an office, cause he was the Dean, and the President had an office. But the rest of us had a little desk, that's all.

Mims: Um hum. So you must have liked teaching on this level to stay so long.

Brown: Um hum, yea, I still like teaching...not must have, I still like teaching. Ah...I don't know whether you've met all the earlier ones or not, have you?

Mims: Some, and not, I mean, it's just...

Brown: Now you know of Dorothy Marshall?

Mims: Right.

Brown: You know of Marshall Crews.

Mims: Right.

Brown: You know of Claude Howell, who's died.

Mims: Right. And he worked at the Coastline for a while. Did you know him at the Coastline?

Brown: He did too...yea, I knew him, yea. And then there's Bill Brooks.

Mims: He's still here.

Brown: He's still here. His wife just died recently.

Mims: Oh I didn't realize that.

Brown: Yea, she died about two or three weeks ago.

Mims: Oh.

Brown: Then there's Doug Swink.

Mims: Right.

Brown: You know Doug.

Mims: Yes, know Doug.

Brown: He...he's still active.

Mims: Right. Sue Cody just interviewed him, I think.

Brown: Yea, I was sitting with him yesterday, I believe it was.

Mims: Uh huh.

Brown: And then there's Joann Corbett. She was chairman of the English Department.

Parnell: She retired...

Brown: She retired but she's still going strong.

Mims: Um hum.

Brown: Then there's...gosh, I ought to have my list with me.

Mims: That's okay, you're doing good with your memory here.

Brown: Ah...Tommy Lupton.

Mims: Um hum, he's died, hasn't he?

Brown: No...

Mims: No, he's still alive.

Brown: ...he's still alive.

Mims: I was thinking about...

Brown: He was in the Math Department.

Mims: ...Biggs...I was thinking about...

Brown: Who?

Mims: Biggs died.

Brown: Oh, Walter Biggs. Yea he died.

Mims: Um hum.

Brown: Yea there was Walter Biggs. Tommy came at UNCW same time I did.

Mims: Okay.

Brown: Wilmington College in '58.

Mims: Um hum.

Brown: And he's been there since '58. He'd be good to talk to.

Mims: Right...he's tall and...

Brown: Tall.

Mims: ...right skinny...yea.

Brown: Well, he's not skinny, but he's tall.

Mims: And, I'm trying to think who else.

Brown: I'm trying to remember the others...oh, Lewis Adcock...chemistry.

Mims: He's still around. He takes pictures and gives 'em to us.

Brown: Yea. He was taking pictures yesterday of our meeting.

Mims: Oh good!

Brown: Okay...and, let's see, who else? Jerry Rosselot...English.

Mims: Huh. I think I've seen his picture.

Brown: Yea. Now, you know down here, as you come into the library, main entrance, and as you come in and to the left, there is a marker over there about the Order of Isaac Bear...and it has the names of each one of us on it.

Mims: Right. I have seen that plaque. But once again, it's something that you pass every day, and...

Brown: I know it!

Mims: ...and you're like...

Brown: But it has our names up has the original ones up there.

Mims: Well, you mentioned Frank Allen.

Brown: Frank Allen was in Biology.

Mims: Um hum...reason we have been curious about him, is because we know that the student nurses from James Walker had to take their pre-clinical classes at Wilmington College...

Brown: I think he taught it.

Mims: ...and he was one of the teachers.

Brown: Um hum.

Mims: Did you ever have to teach any of the student nurses?

Brown: Not at Wilmington College, I have at UNCW.

Mims: Um hum.

Brown: Some of the math.

Mims: Um hum. But not in the early days.

Brown: Not in the early stage. I don't think we had nurses in the early stage...we did...

Mims: They started coming '51.

Brown: '51?

Mims: Yep.

Brown: Okay. I wasn't involved, so...

Mims: Okay, well, you didn't come until '58 and they were still coming, because when they moved the buildings over here, they started being bused over here. What about the campus at Williston? Do you remember anything about that?

Brown: I know nothing at all except that there was a campus at Williston, and I had no connection.

Mims: Uh huh. Again, they recruited the Williston High School teachers to teach at that campus.

Brown: Right.

Mims: And we found the same thing with the Community nurses...attending classes over there.

Brown: Yea.

Mims: But you didn't know anything about that?

Brown: No. We moved out from downtown, I think, in sixty...

Mims: Came over here in '61.

Brown: Sixty...was it '61?

Mims: Um hum.

Brown: Okay. There was not even a road. College Road didn't exist. There was a dirt road.

Mims: Uh huh.

Brown: And you had to come up the dirt road...and the entrance to the college was at the front where you have the two gates.

Mims: Um hum.

Brown: Know what I'm talking about?

Mims: Right...that goes right into Hoggard?

Brown: Yea, it goes into the circle.

Mims: Right.

Brown: Traffic circle...that was the entrance.

Mims: Um hum. Where was parking? We always hear about the atrocious parking!

Brown: Well, we had par...well, we didn't have but three buildings when we first moved out there. We had Alderman, we had Hoggard, and we had...

Mims: Hinton...James.

Brown: know about James, don't you?

Mims: Yep.

Brown: Okay, you know about that. But the first time we moved out there, we had no electricity. We taught summer school classes at night, some of them. And we taught until it got so dark we couldn't see. We had no restroom facilities. We had to go across the street...there was a service station over there...and you had to go across the street to use the restroom. And that lasted for about, I guess, a month or so, until they got everything straight. We couldn't afford to water the lawn, for example...we didn't have enough sprinklers, so there are pictures, you may have some, but there are pictures of where the put the sprinklers here, and then they moved 'em over here...and you can see that in the pictures. Oh it was rough times, but it was nice.

Mims: Well, was it exciting to get the campus built over here?

Brown: Oh yea, after having lived in that dump down there...I mean...

Mims: It was really bad.

Brown: was really nice, because everything was new, brand new, and so forth.

Mims: Uh huh. Plus the excitement about the potential growth that could come about because of that.

Brown: And let's see, who was the business manager here...Willis, I believe. Have you ever heard anything about him?

Mims: Um...

Parnell: I've seen his name.

Brown: Willis. He was...he was the was...we were so poor as far as the school was concerned, if we wanted an extra piece of chalk we had to go to Willis who was the business manager, and tell him we'd need a piece of chalk. And he'd say, "Well, I just gave you one a week ago." I mean, he had no conception of teaching and was interesting and so forth. The library was in Alderman Hall.

Mims: In Alderman? And where was the bookstore?

Brown: The bookstore...bookstore...did we have a bookstore? Bookstore was over in saint...I mean, in James Hall.

Mims: Um hum.

Brown: I think we had a small place...and they...

Mims: Faculty offices were in James as well, right?

Brown: There were, the second floor was...

Mims: Administration?

Brown: Um um. The first floor, Doug Swink had his theater group over there.

Mims: Oh, in James?

Brown: In James.

Mims: Where the pub was, or...near?

Brown: Where the pub...well it was right adjacent to the pub. The pub used to be all we had for recreation.

Mims: Right.

Brown: And upstairs was music, I think...was the Music Department.

Mims: Really?

Brown: Um hum.

Mims: All that crammed into that one...

Brown: That little place.

Mims: ...small little building, cause upstairs isn't as big as downstairs.

Brown: Oh no, but it's a big room upstairs. Although they may have changed it now, I don't know.

Mims: Well, they partitioned it off with the Graduate School up there.

Brown: It was interesting times.

Mims: Where was your office?

Brown: I was Dean of Students back there. I was in Alderman, and we had an office in Alderman. We had a Dean and a Dean of Students. Helena Cheek was Dean of Women, have you picked up her name?

Mims: Matter of fact, we have a nice photo of you sitting behind a desk with Ms. Cheek sitting, you know, in a chair in front of you.

Brown: Okay...well, now, she died.

Mims: Right.

Brown: Yea. Helena has a son that is an opera singer.

Mims: Really?

Brown: John, and I don't know where he is right now, whether he's still active or not, but he has a beautiful voice.

Mims: So you became Dean of Students?

Brown: Well, Dean of Students...don't ask me exactly when. When we had all the riots...

Mims: in...

Brown: 1960...'64...sixty...'65...or something.

Mims: The civil rights riot, or the...?

Brown: You remember the famous Wilmington Ten?

Mims: Yea, that was all in seventies.

Brown: Okay, well that...we had all that. I was Dean of Students during that time and I remember we know, they used to have dances...students would have a dance in the pub we called it...and I was sort of the overseer, and I remember one night in particular, they had a curfew and I had to go and break up the dance and tell 'em to get home because we had a curfew in town. You knew about that?

Mims: Right. During the...whenever they had the National Guard here.

Brown: Oh yea, we've heard about tanks coming down Dawson've heard about that.

Mims: Um hum.

Brown: Okay, you've heard about the shooting in town.

Mims: Right...downtown.

Brown: You've heard about Mrs...anyhow her husband was one of the white men who was killed and she put his body in a casket in the back of her pickup truck and rode through town with a shotgun...oh it was terrible. You didn't go downtown, you went around like that.

Mims: Um hum. I remember it was bad, but I was so young I don't recall any...a lot of details about it.

Brown: It was terrible. Ben ever heard that name?

Mims: Yea.

Brown: Knew Ben, knew his wife, she was a teller in one of the banks.

Mims: So it affected the campus life here?

Brown: did a little bit. Several times on campus...we had a few arguments between whites and blacks. And I remember one time in particular I had to go break up one. I don't know what's a wonder they didn't kill me or shoot me, but I just went into it broke it But...

Mims: 'Cause we understand that once the campus came over here it was integrated.

Brown: We were integrated long before the high...the public schools.

Mims: Exactly.

Brown: Wilmington didn't even know it...that we were integrated. We had no problems.

Mims: Right.

Brown: We had the problems after the public schools became integrated and we were picking up those people from public schools...

Mims: Um hum.

Brown: It was pretty bad.

Mims: Um...what about during the time of the Vietnam War, were there any campus protests at that time?

Brown: Not much. I don't remember too much...too much about it.

Mims: Well, I...I think that might be kind of sketchy since Wilmington College is based a lot on returning GI's...

Brown: Right.

Mims: ...that it would be...people more supportive of the war, but you know, you don't really see anything in the Seahawk paper about any...

Brown: You don't see much, but I don't...I mean, there was unrest, but I don't think there was any great unrest...I can't remember it then.

Mims: So more towards the civil rights activity. That is something that we have read that there was a gentleman's agreement that the campus would be integrated well before...

Brown: Oh it was. I remember teaching quite...I know Judge Fullwood, Earnest Fullwood?

Mims: Yea.

Brown: I taught him. And I remember...I can remember the day when I was down to the old Bailey Theater, I don't know if you know where it is or not...

Mims: Uh huh.

Brown: ...used to have a colored balcony. I mean the coloreds did not...Black people did not go in the main entrance, they had to go up the side way, and the balcony was upstairs. And I can remember one time there was a demonstration about that and he was leading it going up and down front street. I was down there, just happened to see it, so...

Mims: Um hum.

Brown: But Ernest was a fact Ernest was the student body president I think one time.

Mims: Really?

Brown: Yea, he was a smart boy.

Parnell: Wasn't he the first African-American president?

Mims: I'm not sure.

Brown: I'm not sure, he might have been the first one, yea.

Parnell: He many have been the first.

Brown: Yea.

Mims: I know we have his picture in that database, though.

Brown: I stayed Dean of Students for about ten years and I got tired of it and went back to teaching.

Mims: Is it a lot of paperwork, or just extra duty?

Brown: It's not so much paperwork, but if anything goes wrong they go to the dean first and he's got to resolve it or get tired of that after a while.

Mims: But you have a lot of contact with the students in different way, right?

Brown: Yea.

Mims: More one on one, or more...?

Brown: And like the hospital...the reason I didn't like the hospital, it was my job to collect on accounts.

Mims: Oh, so you were the bad guy.

Brown: I was the bad guy, and the board of trustees would have a friend who was sick and they'd come into the hospital and I might not know that particular friend and I might ask for his payment and I would, now and then, get word from the board of trustees... "You don't ask him to pay his bill, he's not supposed to." And I'm not gonna say it, but I mean, I could tell you many people in Wilmington who owe the hospital who've never paid it just because of their name.

Mims: So I' know, it does figure in, I'm sure that they were the very people that didn't support New Hanover because they knew they weren't going to be able to get that kind of preferential treatment, so...this is inter...Wilmington is very interesting.

Brown: Oh I think so, I mean, I've lived here all my life and don't intend to move, so...

Mims: Uh huh.

Brown:'s a great place.

Mims: Um...what else has changed about UNCW. I mean, when we became because a four year school before it moved out here, right? I'm not sure...

Brown: No, I think it moved out...I think it was '64 or '65...

Mims: Right.

Brown: ...we became part of the university. I'd have to check my...

Parnell: ...'65...first four year classes in '67...

Mims: ...four year school...

Parnell: the first graduate...

Mims: ...and then it because part of the university system in '69.

Brown: Right.

Mims: Right after Randall left, cause Wagoner would have only been here for...

Brown: Right.

Mims: ...for a little while when it picked up. So what kind of change do you remember at that time...the growth?

Brown: Of course we were might...we were mighty small. What was it five hundred, six hundred students? Now what are we? Eleven thousand...eleven thousand? I mean, it's just gotten so big.

Mims: Um hum.

Brown: worries me a little bit because the purpose of the college was to help these people who live in this part of the state who were not able to go to a...State or Carolina, or somewhere and this would serve that purpose.

Mims: Um hum.

Brown: But now I think it's about as expensive to go here as it is to go to Chapel Hill or Raleigh, or anywhere. And it worries me that we're not, you know, serving our purpose that way.

Mims: There was also another purpose to serve the needs of the community.

Brown: Right.

Mims: Which when they initially started, they had a lot of technical type...

Brown: Yea.

Mims: ...classes, which we kind of laugh at some of these...the shoe selling class. We can't imagine that people were taught to sell shoes.

Brown: Well, that's when Cape Fear came along though, see, they've taken over that.

Mims: Right. So do you think that the university is still purposeful in supplying certain needs to the community?

Brown: Oh I think it is, I think it's just growing. I hope it'll never get too big.

Mims: Um hum. Well they keep building new buildings.

Brown: I know it. And of course we've got, what, six hundred some odd acres and we've developed about a third of it, I think.

Mims: Right.

Brown: I haven't checked recently.

Mims: It does seem like its closely monitored though, their growth, as far as not encompassing wildlife areas it seems like they have a lot more control than some campuses have...

Brown: But I'd hate to see it become thirty...thirty five thousand or something like that. And it looks like we're heading that way is what it amounts to.

Mims: How about the dynamics of the students from when you first began teaching and students coming in now, do you think they have a different mindset?

Brown: Ah...students in the past, I think, were more...they wanted an education more than the students today. Today it's just an ordeal that they have to have an education. I don't think...I think there's too much apathy in students. They don't care whether they...for example, I'll take my class...I teach a calculus class, and to some people they have trouble with calculus, but they won't come to class. Then they come in and say "I don't understand what you're doing," and I'll say, "Well, if you come to class once and a while it might help." But see we have no...we have no set rule about attendance campus wide. It's up to the instructor. And I tell mine, you are adults, you should know that you need to come to class. But you don't get penalized if you don't come to class, or something like that, so...I just think there's more apathy. They don't want to learn as much as they used to, and students don't challenge me like they used to.

I used to have a student who'd bring up something that I hadn't even thought about. Now they...if you can get 'em to say anything you're doing something. Now you always have a few good ones. I mean, you always have a few dedicated, but I think the general majority is that students...well I think it's the world...the world situation, you can't get a job without a degree and all that.

Mims: they're equating a four year degree to previously a high school education.

Brown: Right...high school education. Well, take us here at UNCW, we won't even talk to you unless you've got a PhD, if you want to come here. We won't even talk to you...unless you've got one or about to get one...then we'll go on a hire you.

Mims: Yea. Well, there are some fields that you still can hold a masters degree in.

Brown: Yea, they're few though.

Mims: But overall...

Brown: Yea.

Mims: And you know, with...with that, and I know that the university would also like to develop PhD programs here themselves, so they have to keep the faculty one step above what their program development is.

Brown: We've got a few masters programs, but not enough.

Mims: And there's also then the application, you know, do you have a masters program that's viable...

Brown: Right.

Mims: the community. And so where does that fit within the mindset of what the students are looking for.

Parnell: You said we don't have enough masters. What else would you like to see...masters...

Brown: Well, I mean in different disciplines. I mean, how many do we have? We have one in math, we have one in biology...

Parnell: Psychology.

Brown: ...psychology...

Parnell: work...

Brown: work...

Mims: Education, history...

Brown: Maybe its...maybe its better than it was. Well its obviously better than it was.

Mims: Um hum. There's all the subsets too, where, you know, the concentration that you can get in different things, so, I think they're trying to appease the students, you know, what they want and balance it out with like where the standard instruction is. But it''s very complicated, and you know, looking back when you entered Wilmington College as an instructor, it seems a little more concise as to, you know, you did this, this, and this, and you got this. And you were able to accomplish that. Where now it seems like almost too many choices...?

Brown: You have...we have plenty of choices.

Mims: Um hum. Cause why...why would a student need to take calculus?

Brown: If he's an engineer or if he's going into any scientific direction at all, he needs to take calculus. Because calculus talks about the rate of change of things and he needs to know that. If he's in business, he needs to know how to maximize profits and minimize losses and...I mean I could go on and on, but...

Mims: No, I mean, that's what we need to hear, because not too many people talk about their application of their discipline.

Brown: Yea.

Mims: I mean, you just throw out you're a math instructor, you know. Now we're're teaching calculus with purpose.

Brown: Um hum. Well I've taught it all, I've taught the history of math and modern geometry and all that stuff, but...

Mims: Because with my personal experience I feel that...

Brown: You took 111.

Mims: I did...

Brown: I bet you took 111, which is algebra.

Mims: I...I'm a MA student, but...looking at how kids seem to want to know "Why am I doing this?"

Brown: Yea. And it's hard sometimes to put your finger right on a point there, like in al...elementary algebra, why do you have to be able to factor the difference between two squares, and so forth...

Mims: Um hum. Right.

Brown: I mean, to give an example.

Mims: Right.

Brown: But you remember, math also develops your mind...makes you think...makes you visualize things...try to reason things...rationalize things.

Mims: In a logical sequence. Right. I...I know there's a purpose!

Brown: I can tell she's not a math major!

Mims: No, no, no, no, no...Jerry and I discuss math all the time, and we're like...

Parnell: You said you originally taught math and French.

Brown: Um hum.

Parnell: When did you still teach French?

Brown: No, I don't teach French...I haven't taught French since I left high school. But I taught it in high school. I taught it at New Hanover.

Mims: That's kind of an odd combination too, when you were going to Chapel Hill, you majored in both of those?

Brown: Um...majored in French and math, but then I emphasized math...well when I joined the college, they needed a math instructor, they didn't need a French instructor, cause Helena Cheek was there.

Mims: The language instructor.

Brown: Yea, she was there...the didn't need...we didn't have that many students. So they didn't need that, they needed a math instructor, so that's why I pursued that one.

Mims: Mary Bellamy...

Brown: Mary Bellamy is still active.

Mims: That's right.

Brown: By the way, she's one of our originals too. I didn't remember her name.

Mims: Yea. I just thought of her too.

Brown: Yea. She taught Spanish. She taught at New Hanover. And Heyward, her husband was superintendent of the schools for a while. And they're both very active. In fact they were there at the dinner the other day. Mary is aging fast, she's gotten...she's shrinking.

Mims: We...we saw her about a year ago.

Brown: This is be on tape too...?

Mims: Yea, that's okay, don't worry about it. I doubt she'll come by...but we talked to them about a year or so ago.

Brown: Yea she's...she's gotten real short.

Mims: Um hum.

Brown: But she's still Mary Bellamy and she'll talk you to death, but she's a good old soul.

Mims: Um...there was...whenever the department started when you came in, was there a math department? Or was it under, like a combination of...

Brown: No I...I think there was a math department and Hurst was the chairman of the department.

Mims: Okay.

Brown: And even Duncan Randall taught math for a while, did you know that?

Mims: No, I don't think I did.

Brown: Well, in the early days when we didn't have the instructors...let's see, there was Hurst, there was Duncan, Calvin Doss, do you know him?

Parnell: I've heard that name.

Mims: Dr. Doss.

Brown: He taught math...and Tommy Lupton and myself. And as a mathematician, anybody can teach algebra. So Duncan was given the book and said you teach math one eleven...the equivalent of...I think it had a different number then.

Mims: Sure.

Brown: And so Duncan did teach it once or twice.

Mims: Uh huh. No, I did not know that, but I...

Brown: Yea.

Mims: ...I know with his department in particular, he like entered under, like, you know, Earth Sciences, and it was combined with like History or Social Sciences or something, and then it started dividing, so I was trying to get my finger on where these divisions starting taking place.

Brown: You know the story about Duncan and we know...he always "Uh uh uhm" (throat clearing sound), you know, you remember that? He always cleared his throat.

Mims: Uh uh.

Brown: You don't? Did you know him?

Mims: Yea, I knew him quite well!

Brown: I mean, how long did you know him?

Mims: Ten years or so.

Brown: Ten years? Well he always "Uh uhm" was clearing his throat "Uh uhm." You didn't know that? So students would make bets in classes how many times he would clear his throat during the class period.

Mims: No...he...

Brown: That used to be the joke.

Mims: He intimidated me to no end, I dropped his class...

Brown: Is that right?

Mims: ...I was in it, yea...and he also would smoke in class...

Brown: Well that was...

Mims: ...back when teachers...could...teachers could smoke in class, and...

Brown: Uh huh.

Parnell: The students did...

Mims: I know, but that was just kind of...

Brown: That was different, wasn't it?

Mims: It was, you know!

Brown: I don't think it was Duncan but there was another instructor that...he taught right before me, and he smoked, and on the desk...he would smoke 'em down to about that...

Mims: Yea, that's what Duncan did...

Brown: ...and would line 'em up...

Mims: That's Duncan!

Brown: Do you remember that? Line 'em up on the desk.

Mims: That's what...I was in his class and I only lasted one day, cause it was like...we're gonna burn up...we're gonna die...and so...

Mims: See I was never a smoker, so I don't know.

Brown: Well, I'm not either, so...

Mims: But, you know, that...that's a whole different change, that' know, that we've...

Brown: Duncan was a good friend, but he was a bird.

Mims: Yea.

Brown: And all of us knew that, and...

Mims: Yea, he...he was...caught in between, I think. What about William Madison Randall, did you have much contact with him?

Brown: Oh yea, he was our president.

Mims: What was he like?

Brown: Very...very business like. There were some people who thought he was hard to get along with. I always found him very easy to get along with. When I was Dean of Students, I remember one particular occasion, I won't tell you what the incident was, but students had done something and I handled it, and they complained about the way I handled it...and they went to Dr. Randall. And Dr. Randall said "Mr. Brown is Dean of Students, I endorse what he did, I have no objections to what he did, and that's the end of it." He would back you up. And he called me in later and said, "You are Dean of Students, if I didn't think you were capable, I wouldn't have you in that position." So he was...he was...he was stern.

Mims: But you knew what you did, he would support you?

Brown: Right. He would always back you up.

Mims: Um hum.

Brown: Um...we used to have a room in Alderman Hall which was a faculty room...where you could go in and drink a cup of coffee and just sit down...

Mims: Um hum.

Brown: Have you heard about this? (laughing)

Mims: Well...I...I was just reading the other day where the faculty wives donated a coffee pot and...

Brown: Oh yea, faculty wives did all the work. But we used to have this room and Dr. Randall had a chair in one corner. And everybody knew it was Dr. Randall's chair. So one day, he was out of town and Shannon Morton... have you picked up Shannon's name? the way, she died, you know that.

Mims: Yea, she lived a long life, hundred and some years old.

Brown: Yea. But that particular day she...she sat in his chair. And then there was another History teacher, Sam Chambers...have you picked up his name?

Mims: Yea, definitely.

Brown: Okay. He came in...

Mims: We all have our opinions...

Brown: We all...that particular day, I've forgotten, I think he had just joined us...he was pretty new at UNCW, and he walked into the faculty lounge and Shannon was sitting in Randall's chair and he said to her "and what...and which department are you secretary?" And if you knew Shannon...

Mims: Oh...

Brown: ...she laid into him and she blessed him out and so forth that she was not a secretary, she was Dean of Women and also taught, we had some interesting things...Sam've heard things about him.

Parnell: I had him.

Brown: Oh, you know Sam then! Sam...when I was Dean of Students he always picked on a student, one time during the year, and would come down to my office...that student...and complain about it. And he always picked one out. And he picked on 'em all the time.

Mims: Generally females, wasn't it?

Brown: Most of the time, I believe it was. But I'd always look...every year there'd be one that would come down and complain about him. And...cause he...Sam considered himself to be the very famous family of Virginia. And I'm sure he told you that in class, didn't he? You remember that don't you?

Parnell: Oh yea!

Brown: And nobody...and of course he had a sister you knew about his sister?

Parnell: Don't remember her...

Brown: Yea, okay, but he had a sister, she was about as strange as he was, but...I remember one day in particular, when the library was in Alderman Hall and we had...had folding doors, and no glass in 'em, so you couldn't see who's coming and who's going...and one day Marshall Crews and Sam ran into each other and Sam had is Thermos bottle with him and Marshall didn't do it on purpose, but knocked it out of his hand...and he flew into Marshall and all that stuff. Oh he was a character!

Mims: Well, how about Mildred Johnson, she was another female...?

Brown: Mildred Johnson was...well now that was Randall's sister-...

Mims: in-law.


Mims: Right.

Brown: Yea...yea. She was great, she was good.

Mims: She, um...was doing the plays at first, before Doug came.

Brown: Before Doug or anybody else came, she did most of that work.

Mims: And she was doing...teaching history and social sciences...

Brown: Yea.

Mims: ...and she was kind of like a jack-of-all-trades.

Brown: She did a good job.

Mims: Did she come from a high school too?

Brown: I don't think so, I can't remember her background, other than being related to...

Mims: Right, she was...her sister married Dr. Randall.

Brown: May and she were sisters weren't they?

Mims: No, Mott (Mary).

Brown: Mott...Mott.

Mims: Mott, right. May was Duncan's wife.

Brown: May is Duncan's wife.

Mims: It's so confusing...

Brown: I know, and she's still around.

Mims: Well now she's in Florida.

Brown: Huh?

Mims: She's living in Florida.

Brown: Well now she's...let's see...she married...

Mims: She married Vick Zullo.

Brown: And he died.

Mims: He died, right.

Brown: Then she married again?

Mims: Yea, and they divorced. And now she's in Florida with Steven.

Brown: So...she's not married right now.

Mims: Nope.

Brown: And she's there with Steven.

Mims: Right.

Brown: Okay. We used to be very good friends of 'em when the boys were growing up and...

Mims: And now you have to work with Allen.

Brown: Allen's alright.

Mims: I guess...stay away from him during basketball time.

Brown: Oh is that right?

Mims: Yea.

Brown: What is he, a Duke fan?

Mims: No. Carolina.

Brown: Oh, good, well that's alright if he's a Carolina fan.

Mims: (laughing) Just don't get in his way!

Brown: No, I told 'em as I was coming over... "I'm going over to see your wife this morning," he said, "You better be careful." (laughing) And I also asked him, I said, "Well, now why isn't she a Randall?"

Mims: Well that's because I'm trying to stay, you know, on the low down...don't want anybody to know!

Brown: But your daughter's a Randall, isn't she?

Mims: Siobhan is a Randall.

Brown: She's...she's a Randall.

Mims: Yes, we...we allowed her to take that name.

Brown: How old is she now?

Mims: She's three and a half.

Brown: Golly.

Mims: She's just tiny.

Brown: Times does fly.

Mims: Well, Gerry, where are we?

Parnell: Well, we're running...we've got a few more minutes. I do want to go back to the early days one more time. Do you remember the air strip?

Mims: Yea.

Parnell: We've heard several comments about an air strip when you moved out here...on the edge of campus.

Mims: That there was an old airport or something...there was an air strip out here.

Parnell: ...used to park on the air strip?

Mims: ...the students...

Brown: I don't remember...I don't remember that.

Mims: Well, we just have had a couple of references in the...

Parnell: Someone got a parking ticket for parking on the air strip.

Brown: Yea. I remember when the campus didn't exist and when we decided...when they decided, I mean, whoever's in charge...decided that they were going to build the campus, that Mr. Berry...have you picked up that name?...he was the...the director of extra curricular activities at New Hanover High school. And we cut down all these trees in order to build the campus and he...oh he wrote letters to the editor and everything about we were ruining the community, cutting down trees, and so forth. And the trees that you have on campus as you come in were planted...little tiny plants.

Mims: Hum.

Brown: They were there at the beginning when we first moved there...

Mims: Um hum.

Brown: But he was terrible about it, and...and I remember when I was teaching at New Hanover High School, Dale Spencer was principal...

Mims: Dale Spencer.

Brown: Ah...and he told me...or when I told him that I wanted to come to...well, I had an offer to either go into a principalship or go to UNCW and I chose UNCW and I'm glad I did...cause I didn't want to do the principalship. But he told me that UNCW would never make it, that I was making a terrible mistake to go in...out here. And I said, "well Dale, I don't agree with you". And there was another one that came the same year, Tom, oh what's his name, taught English...his wife married doctor...oh well, that's not important.

Mims: How about George West from New Hanover?

Brown: George West was industrial teacher at New Hanover High School.

Mims: Right.

Brown: Yea, I knew him.

Mims: 'Cause that building is the George West Building over there.

Brown: That used to be the auditorium.

Mims: For...

Brown: Is it still over there?

Mims: The George West building?

Brown: Is it still there?

Mims: Uh huh.

Brown: Kind of a separate building sitting back there?

Mims: Yea.

Brown: Used to be the auditorium to the Isaac Bear school.

Mims: Well actually it's a gym now.

Brown: Well they may have turned it into a gym then.

Mims: Yea, huh. I mean, you know, they've got the weights and all that...I wondered what that building was. So that was part of Isaac Bear?

Brown: That was part of Isaac Bear.

Mims: Wow!

Brown: And that's the only part they saved, was that...

Mims: I had no idea.

Brown: Yea.

Mims: I have a daughter at Hanover, so I go over there a lot, so...hum, so that was the auditorium.

Brown: Um hum. And could have later been the gym, I don't know.

Mims: Right, before, you know...

Brown: But see, now that was a grammar school.

Mims: Right.

Brown: It was not a high school.

Mims: Right, but those grammar schools, for some reason, they put auditoriums in them. Look at Forest Hills. I mean that was always an elementary school and it has a...

Brown: Big auditorium.

Mims: ...big auditorium.

Brown: I know it.

Mims: Chestnut Street School.

Brown: Did she go to Forest Hills?

Mims: Um hum.

Brown: Did she know Charles Cavalier...principal?

Mims: Um hum.

Brown: Okay, well that's who...

Mims: When we were there, Bertha Todd, I mean not Bertha Todd, but Rita Todd was there at the time. Um...well I can't think of anything else. This has been great!

Brown: Well I don't know whether I told you anything or not.

Mims: Oh yea! You filled us in on a lot of stuff, so, again, I really appreciate you coming by today, so...

Brown: When you talk about the old times, sometimes they're good and sometimes they're not.

Mims: Well we like talking about the old times.

Brown: Yea, we like talking about 'em anyhow.

Mims: Yea, it's great. Thank you. We're gonna cut the camera off...

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