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Interview with Gladys McIver, February 14, 2008
February 14, 2008
Interview with native Wilmington resident Gladys McIver. McIver discusses her childhood in Wilmington in the 1930s, and her varied and unique career-related adventures over the decades, including her experience as co-founder of one of the city's first independent insurance companies. She also reflects on her volunteerism in greater Wilmington.
Phys. Desc:

Interviewee: McIver, Gladys Interviewer: Jones, Carroll Date of Interview: 2/14/2008 Series: SENC Volunteers Length 97 minutes

Jones: Today is Thursday, February 14, 2008. I'm Carroll Jones with Chris Malpass for the Randall Library Oral History Project. We're visiting with Mrs. Gladys Needen McIver in Special Collections this afternoon. Gladys is a native Wilmingtonian, attended New Hanover High School, active in church work, the DAR, The Garden Club, Azalea Festival, et cetera, et cetera. And we're going to ask her to talk about some of these involvements, including in the insurance business, at a time when most women were stay-at-home moms. Good afternoon, Gladys.

McIver: Good afternoon.

Jones: And, thank you for coming. Why don't you just start talking wherever you're comfortable about growing up here, and a little bit about that?

McIver: Well, I'd like to say first, that I was born at Sea Gate. And Dr. Codington, old Dr. Codington delivered me. And when I was two, two-and-a-half years old, our house burned to the ground. And then we-- because the fire truck couldn't get there...

Jones: Did you live at Sea Gate?

McIver: We lived on the bank of Bradley Creek.

Jones: Oh, my God.

McIver: In a big two-story house on the bank and across from the marina. And then we'd-- that time we moved into town and we lived at Carolina Heights. And my father bought a little moderate cottage there on North Sixteenth Street. And we developed our friendship there in our neighborhood. And there were wonderful neighborhoods. And we developed friends that I have right now from the time I was two, two-and-a-half years old-- and Stanley Wheeler being one of my friends.

Jones: Yeah.

McIver: And I wanted to tell you a little, few little things about my childhood.

Jones: Please do.

McIver: We used to have little parades with our dogs. We'd put them in wagons and dress them up with the doll clothes and pull them around in the street, and around have parades with them. And that was lots of fun. We did things with what we had. We played with-- we made our own play things. We climbed trees, and I was a tomboy, and I did lots of things that little boys do, like ride ponies and things like that. But one of the things that we did that I always loved to talk to Stanley about, is that he had a victory garden. Back then, they came, somebody came in and judged the gardens, and Stanley's uncle was a judge of those gardens at the time. And so, but he had a beautiful vegetable garden. And I had lots of equipment. My father was a sporting goods retail man. And so I had all the equipment, so I had a nice wagon. So we'd load the vegetables in the wagon and pull it down Rankin Street and sell the vegetables to the colored peopled down there.

Jones: That's all right. That's what you called them. That's alright.

McIver: Exactly. And the street was not paved, but we just pulled that wagon down there and we'd sell--

Jones: As children you did this?

McIver: As children, mother would let us do that. And it was very safe. And we just like got to know all the-- it was near the hospital, near James Walker Hospital. And that was kind of a regular thing for us. And then another thing that I did was-- another thing I did, was I shot marbles. I was marble shooter for years. And I shot marbles in the back alleys, so mother warned of-- find me, I was in the alley on my knees shooting marbles. I ended up being the marble champion of Isaac Bear School. And so that-- I still have about 2,000 marbles, and they are old marbles.

Jones: Oh, my gosh.

McIver: And, but I enjoyed my childhood because we were so free, you know, and we could do-- we jumped on the ice trucks that came by as they delivered ice to homes. And that's when the trash man came down the back alleys with-- pulled it with horses and trash trucks. And of course the ice trucks were pulled with horses, too. And, but it was such a wonderful childhood and we would have skating parties and they'd block off the streets, and we'd skate on an afternoon just as safe, cars wouldn't come by.

Jones: Well, there wasn't much traffic--

McIver: Not much traffic. And we all--

Jones: Now was this over in Carolina Heights?

McIver: Mm-hmm, on North Sixteenth. And we played in the Pine Forest Cemetery down there. In fact, I-- we used to go in and see if we could find things, souvenirs in the cemetery. And we played at Oakdale Cemetery too, played down on all those tombstones over there. And we knew everybody's, where everybody's grave was, and I've forgotten all that now. But it was just so wonderful and we walked to school and we-- I went to Isaac Bell and then we later went to New Hanover High School. But my same friends, you know, transferred from school to school and we stayed together over the years. And there were about ten girls that, we stuck together, best friends, we stuck together all the way through high school. And even now, we have luncheons every three months, and some of those same people come to those lunches.

Jones: That's wonderful. And they've never left town? Or some of them left and came back?

McIver: A few left and came back. Majority of them had stayed. Majority of them had been here all the years. And we stayed friends. And so it's been a wonderful experience growing up here, because it's-- and to see it, to think about how we weren't afraid, we would even walk-- my mother would let us go from Sixteenth and Grace over to Market Street, Seventeenth and Market, where the city limits were at the time--

Jones: That's what I was going to say, and that the city limits then?

McIver: And at the Kenan building. And we would look through the fence to watch, to see if we could see Mrs. Wise come through the gates with her chauffer. And mother would let us come that far; it was safe to go that far. And so that was a wonderful memory-- thing to remember.

Jones: But you get together about every three months? That's wonderful.

McIver: And have lunch, about 35 of us. And some are spouses, you know, that weren't our class members, but they're still with us. You know, we do that.

Jones: And do you just talk about the old days, mainly?

McIver: We talk about the teachers that we had, what [laughs], how funny they were, and how they wore high top shoes and did their hair up in a bun and wore their pearls all down to here, you know, and-- oh, yeah, we talk about them.

Jones: Gladys, when did you-- what period of time was this?

McIver: This was in the '30s. The high school was in the '30s.

Jones: Now you were class of?

McIver: '39.

Jones: '39. From New Hanover. That's right. Okay, so now you're in high school, things change, then. Was that when it was a three year school?

McIver: That was-- I had three years there, because I skipped the ninth grade, I mean the eighth grade. We did-- it wasn't even available. And so we'd-- let's see. Freshman, Junior-- no we had four years in high school, Freshman, Junior, Sophomore-- Freshman, Sophomore, Junior, Senior, four years. And then we developed many, many friends, because it was only high school and we came from everywhere; Carolina Beach, Sunset Park.

Jones: Well, it was the county high school, white county high school.

McIver: Right. And then we knew everybody. It was like the melting pot. And we developed new friends, but we still kept those, that little group that we had at Isaac Bear. And we just kind of moved in a little group like this and stuck together. And we was, I was member of several clubs. I was Vice President of the Sophomore class, and was in several committees and that's probably how I met my husband, probably for the first time was on committees in high school.

Jones: What class was he, was he ahead of you?

McIver: He was ahead, a year ahead of me.

Jones: Just a year ahead of you?

McIver: And--

Jones: Did you meet him before Mildred met Mack?

McIver: Yes. In fact, you get to go way back. We met him, he was our paper boy on North Sixteenth Street, and he was delivering papers. He was 14 years old. And threw the paper through our front window, you know, that's when they rolled them up and did them like this and pitched it through the front window and broke it out. And my father made him pay for it [laughs]. And so that's how we were first introduced to Lamar McIver [laughs], one of nine children.

Jones: Really, he was one of nine?

McIver: Mm-hmm. And so as soon as he was big enough and old enough to ride a bicycle, he was put to work, so he delivered papers. So that time, many years passed and the other, we were together on church conferences at Peace College and Davidson College.

Jones: Did you go to Davidson?

McIver: I was going with him off and on, you know, not seriously but just in his presence.

Jones: So it wasn't a-- did you and Mildred date the brothers at the same time?

McIver: No, no. No, Mildred married, met Mack in 1942. I had known Mack before she knew him, at Davidson conference. And I think she was at Queens at the time, but Lamar was in-- went into Maritime, service, right after high school. But this war was going strong then. And he, and we'd been dating kind of off and on, but I was kind of serious with somebody else at the time. And then he came back on leave a few times, and then we started dating each other and got pretty serious. And we-- then Mildred and Mack were married in '42 and we were married in '43. And that year, after-- we were both in the wedding, Mildred and Mack's wedding, he went back overseas and on the ship and came-- when he came back that year, we did heavy courting by mail. And most of our heavy, heavy courting was by mail. He wrote a diary every night, of love letters to me.

Jones: Did you save them all?

McIver: Yeah, I have them.

Jones: You have them all.

McIver: I have them in a sparrow book. And then he also wrote V-mails mails. You know, that's when they, when they scan the mail and would cut out certain pieces of the mail that you couldn't read, you know, they just whack it out. But we had a code that we always knew where he was.

Jones: Oh, really?

McIver: We decided, wrote down the code. But then when he went in the service, he went in early, went out of a shipyard here, went out on the first ship that was commissioned here. And he was gone from several months and then came back, and we got together and then he went out again, and we would be married in the church, Saint Andrews Covenant Presbyterian Church.

Jones: Now, that church had just merged, right?

McIver: That was in '41, they merged. No, that's wrong; in '44 they merged. And so--

Jones: So you were married in '43...

McIver: '43. But what happened, was he, we had planned the wedding, everything was planned on the certain time he was going to be home and the port, they'd be in port. Well, that didn't happen. So he came in on in October of '43 and he, they gave him 30 days' leave. And they said, "It's that, or either you'll be another year before you get to leave again." So we decided, "Well, we'll just get married now." So we got married on the 23rd of October in 1943.

Jones: So you didn't have all that wonderful planning and down-- of course, I don't guess anybody did.

McIver: Nope. So we moved our plans down to my mother's house on Harbor Island, had the wedding in the living room. We had all the palms and all the things that Reeder Florist took down for us. And we had-- the lady across the street had an organ, a pump organ. The trash man went over there and got the organ, you know, they helped us deliver and brought it over to our house. And Mrs. Max Greg played the organ for our wedding. And we had everything just like it'd happen in the church. But I didn't have but one attendant. Mildred was my attendant. And we had a little reception there. And then when we left-- then gas was rationed then and so when, after the wedding we got a ride in town with Lamar's mother and daddy in the car, and but I'll back up. The night before we had the rehearsal, and so Lamar had to catch the last streetcar, beach car into town, because he didn't have a car [laughs]. And so the wedding was the next day, and it's funny to remember those things. But so we got a ride into town with his mom and daddy and caught the train then and spent our first night on our honeymoon in Asheville. And--

Jones: Where were you headed, where was the train going?

McIver: Well, we were going; we were going to New York. We--

Jones: By way of Asheville?

McIver: Right. But see, Lamar wanted to see his aunt in Columbia, so we went from Asheville to Columbia, from there to New York. And on our honeymoon 30 days. We stayed at the Commodore Hotel for 30 days and went to shows and went everywhere. We just did nothing but just sightsee-- we just would sightsee and go to everything we could think of. Because then, the servicemen could get in cheap, you know, in these different places. And also he had to go, he was, went over to Sheepshead Bay to get some training, he was pharmacist mate on the ship, the purser.

Jones: How old was he?

McIver: He was, he must have been 18, no, that's wrong. About 20, 23. I would guess 23.

Jones: And you were what, 22?

McIver: Yeah. And so then when we went, we came back to Wilmington after this honeymoon to gather ourselves, to get-- collect ourselves, and went to Baltimore for him to get his orders. And so when we went to the captain of the port, the captain said, patted him on the back and he said, "I want to tell you, son", he said, "you're the luckiest man in the world." And Lamar said, "Why?" He said, "Well," he said, "You can really be-- thank this lady for marrying you, that"-- because he said that ship, the USS Blackburn was, he said when it went out from port it was bombed and every man on the deck, on the ship was lost.

Jones: Didn't that send chills up your spine?

McIver: And he missed that trip.

Jones: So you saved him.

McIver: He said, "You better be glad-- you can thank-- you be grateful this lady the rest of your life." And so then we went on to New York and got his papers to go to-- and he was assigned to Seattle, Washington.

Jones: Were you able to travel?

McIver: Yeah. I was not working. I had worked-- well, I didn't tell you about the shipyard. I got to get back up in my work place haven't I?

Jones: Okay, why. Did you work in a shipyard here?

McIver: Mm-hmm. My early work years. See, I went to Peace College and then I went from Peace to-- I got a grant to go to state college to study a year in architectural drawing and mechanical engineering.

Jones: Really? That was what your focus was.

McIver: Well, in my early, early, childhood I was exposed, we had a neighbor that was a cabinetmaker. And I was intrigued with his, what he could do. And I think early on, the seed was planted that I learn things in a precision way, mechanical things, and it developed in my life that way. And I, so I worked-- when I finished State, that year at State.

Jones: Now, wait a minute. Give me that again. At State, it was Mechanical Engineering?

McIver: Architectural Drafting and Mechanical Engineering.

Jones: Wow. And were you the only woman in the class?

McIver: There was-- yes, but there was four of us, no, there were four of us. And I had to live out in town because they didn't have any of the dormitories. And this was after I left Peace, and that was in 1941, because I was only at Peace a year. I took a business course and I learned right quick that I didn't want that shorthand. I didn't like that.

Jones: But you could do all this other--

McIver: But I could do the other. And so, but anyway I knew way back that I liked things, I liked to build things. And I liked to find out how things were made, and that I knew that there was something, I wanted to do something with that. So my aim was to be an architect. But instead, the marriage came in the picture. So that's where we are now. So then-- but I worked at the bank, I worked at bank-- at Security National Bank, and at that time, Ada Humphrey Cassins was my mentor. She was a lovely lady. She was Edward Humphrey's sister, you might have heard of those folks. And she, because when I was working at the bank, she said, "Now, you've got to do better than just bank work." And I said, "Well, what do you think-- " I always wanted to sell things anyway, or make things. And she said, "You go out to the shipyard and you find, you see if you can't get a job out there." So I went out the shipyard and I applied and they said, "What can you do?" And I said well, "I can, I'm a draftsman," I had my papers. "I'm a draftsman." "No, we don't have women in the drafting room, no way." So I went back to Ada and I said, "They shook their head they said, 'No way.'" She said, "Go back." [laughs]. "Go back." She said, "You know that man, don't you?" I said, "It was Dick Burnett."

Jones: Oh, no! Really?

McIver: "Yeah," I said, "Yeah I know him." "And you go back and you say to him, 'Dick Burnett, I want that job, I know it's available and I want it.'" And he said, "Well I'll think about it." And so he had a conference with the man who was in charge of the drafting room and they hired me. And I spent some time drafting and designing some little buildings on the grounds of the shipyard. And so, that--

Jones: Gladys, I have to ask you, here. You were the only woman in that department? Did they treat you well?

McIver: Oh, yeah.

Jones: They probably had to clean up a little bit.

McIver: There were just a few of us, but they did fine. And I'd put on the overalls and go out on the grounds, you know, and look at things I had to look at.

Jones: Well, now there was a first.

McIver: Yeah, and see it was hard getting into it, you know? And so then, I'm going to jump I guess to, go back to now when we left New York to go Seattle. When-- at that time, you could only stay five days in a hotel. So we had to move. So we landed in Seattle with our suitcases, and we'd moved to two or three hotels a week at the time. And Lamar had to be spic-and-span, so I couldn't figure out a way to keep his uniform, his pants pressed nicely, so we'd take the glass off of the dresser and put the pants under the dresser and press them like that, so they have a crease in them. But anyway, so we went to a party one night, and this person said, "When you go that far, you're just North Carolina," you know, "you're not Wilmington, North Carolina." And so I didn't know that because I had never been that farther north than Virginia. And so--

Jones: You say "Wilmington," they think Delaware or California.

McIver: So they said, "I want you to meet this friend of mine from North Carolina." I said, "That's great, I'd love to meet him." So we got to the party and they got Virginia over there to see me and it was a person that had been a neighbor of ours on North Sixteenth Street. Virginia Highsmith, and they were in an apartment. But they were leaving Seattle to go somewhere else, because her husband had been transferred. And so we got their apartment. I mean there were-- you just couldn't find apartments. It was a little efficiency apartment. It was just a-- it was a Murphy bed that you pull out of the wall and a little teeny tiny kitchen that you had to put the stick under it to make, for the table, you know, pull out of the wall and put a stick under. And then one little nick for your dresser and a little bath. And that was all. The room was about half as big as this one, all included. And the most interesting people though that lived, that had this home, because he had worked in the Senate and right this moment I can't remember their names. But anyway, we stayed there, Lamar was shipped out, went down to San Francisco; that's where his ship would go in and out. And I got a, I knew I couldn't-- just want to sit there, so I got a job at the Boeing Aircraft Company in their drafting room. But I went to apply for that job and this man, his name was Mr. Didlackey, he was from Oklahoma. And he said-- so, during the interview I was saying, "Yes, sir," and "No, sir." And he whacked the pencil on the table like that, and he said, he sat back and he said, "You don't have to say 'Yes sir,' and 'No, sir,' to me". I said, "Well, that's the way I was raised, was to say 'Yes, sir,' and 'No, sir' to our superiors." And so, he said, "Now, what is your mission?" you know. "What kind of work do you do?" And I told him all, everything I'd done, I'd been in banking and all these things I had done. And he said, "Drafting?" and I said, "Yes, sir." And he said, "Well, we'll see." So they called me and I worked in the drafting room and I helped design a tooling manual that they had that the manual that they used for the first B-17.

Jones: That's called what manual?

McIver: Tooling.

Jones: Tooling manual, for the B-17?

McIver: Mm-hmm. For the first B-17. And I went on the first B-17. I didn't fly, but I went on it to look at certain things where they wanted the certain brackets designed.

Jones: Wait until I tell Wilbur. He loves the B-17.

McIver: I've done a lot of things. And so, anyway--

Jones: Well, you know, that is very, very unique. You're the only one in Wilmington, female at least, that ever did that. You know that.

McIver: I do. And so, I went to the-- so I get up early in the morning, because I had to ride the-- get a ride way across town to the, to Boeing Aircraft Company. And I get up early in the morning and catch a ride; I had to walk three, four blocks in the dark to catch my ride. And it was scary, and there were apples everywhere. Cherries and apples; you'd kick the apples in the sidewalk, the cherries, there were so many cherries-- it was lovely, it was lovely. And they had-- One of the girls said, "I want you to come to my house, tonight. We're going to have a cherry-pitting party." I said, "A cherry-pitting party?" She said, "Yeah, we have little machines that we pit the cherries." [laughs] I said, "I never heard of that before." But I learned a lot. But, as Lamar would come into San Francisco-- He was in the Pacific, then I would get to talk to my boss, he'd let me off to go down to meet him. So I would go down to San Francisco and stay in a hotel until his ship came in, maybe overnight. And then the ship would come in and we'd have a couple of days together. Then I would come back to get my job back. And we did that several times. And then when V-J Day occurred, that was really a catastrophe, but Lamar was to come in to stay maybe a week at that time, and I went down to the, to stay in the same little hotel, it was the Madison Hotel right off of the main street. I'd been there so many times they knew me.

Jones: This was in San Francisco.

McIver: And so I was down there to meet his ship. And then I got a wire in the hotel that he would not be coming in; he would be leaving there, going to New Orleans and his ship would not come in, but at the same time, V-J Day, see it occurred right then, and then his ship couldn't come in, and that's when everything broke loose. From my hotel window, I would see them turning cars end-for-end down the street; sailors were climbing the sides of the walls of the buildings, knocking out windows and getting all, getting the mannequins--

Jones: I didn't know that they did that.

McIver: Getting the mannequins and setting cars on fire. I could see it from my hotel room. And the hotel managers knew me by that time, and they called my room and they said, "Don't go out." They said, "Push the dresser up against your door so nobody can come in your room."

Jones: I bet you were scared.

McIver: I was near the elevator. I was frightened. Because what I was seeing and I--

Jones: You know we never hear about that kind of behavior. We see movie tones and fit pictures and Life Magazine stills, people kissing each other and hugging each other and cheerful, but I had no idea.

McIver: And it lasted for hours and hours. But I wanted a paper, I wanted something the next day to show what was going on, so I finally made my way out. They sent something to my room for me to eat, and I made my way out to the store across the street and got a newspaper that I still have that was published that day. But it was rough getting there because people was just like this, and I was just, I was scared. But anyway, so I thought, "Well, what am I going to do now?" you know, I was there by myself. So I went back to San Francisco, I mean, went back to Seattle, and I thought, "Well, I'll just go to New Orleans," because he gave me a date. Made my reservations on the train, that's how I went that time.

Jones: But you were able to get on? I've heard how during those years, getting transportation, unless you were in uniform, was almost impossible.

McIver: Well, in order to get back to Seattle when I wanted to, I got as far as Portsmouth. And they, the chair train, it was a chair car. And it was full of just service-- they were taking to servicemen, like you say. Well, I was sitting there by myself in the train station, and this major was sitting over there by himself and I kept looking at him, he was reading the paper and I thought, "Well, I've got to get on that train, somehow." So I went over there and I said, "Excuse me, major, but are you by yourself?" And he said, "Yes, I am." And I said, "Well, do you mind if I walk up, go on through that gate with you to get on the train? I've got to get to Seattle." He said, "I don't mind." So I went with-- I never saw him after that. But I never had the first bit of trouble on the train. I traveled all those years by myself, never had the first bit of trouble, you know, anybody bother me. So that's how I got back that day to Seattle. And then I got-- went on over to, went to Chicago, and then all the way down to New Orleans, and when I got into New Orleans, they-- I went to the captain of the port, called him and I said, "Is this USS-- " not the Blackmon, it was a-- the other ship. He said-- I said, "Is it in?" He said, he said, "Madam, that ship went through here this morning. It's on the way to New York" [laughs].

Jones: Oh, no! Oh, no!

McIver: And I said, "Oh, my gracious," I said, "What am I going to do?" And he said-- I said, "I don't think I could find a place to stay." He said, "Well, I tell you, if you can't find a place to stay, you call me and I have two daughters; you could stay at my house." And, but I found a, I got a flight out to Raleigh and when I got into Raleigh, I called my mother and she said, "Lamar just called and he's in New York." So I left the next morning for New York by train. And then, that's--

Jones: And how many days did this take? You went from Seattle to San Francisco, you went back to Seattle, then you went to New Orleans, and then you went to Chicago.

McIver: It took about three days. But by the time I got into New York, it was about five days. Got back, because I just spent one night here after my, after I got, I took a bus from Raleigh to Wilmington. It took me as long to get from Raleigh to Wilmington as it did from New Orleans to Raleigh on the plane.

Jones: I'll bet.

McIver: That was the first time I'd flown. And I was scared and I sat down and wrote my sister a letter, and told her I was getting on the plane. If anything happened, [laughs] she'd know where I was. But they didn't know where I was any time, but my family they just said, "I don't know where she is now." [Laughs.]

Jones: You know, only the young can do this. That's amazing. So did you catch up with him in New York?

McIver: I did. And we, I caught up with him in New York, and that's-- and soon after, he went on another voyage, and soon after that, it was V-E Day. And then we was in New York when that was declared. And that was bedlam too. We were in that kind of traffic twice.

Jones: Did he get out of the service at that time?

McIver: No, no. A few years passed, no, a couple years-- about a year after that, he'd got out of the service. And see, along then, the boys that were in high school had their education interrupted because of the war, and drafted. So he had only one semester at Clemson, and it wasn't fast enough for him, after the service. So we came back to Wilmington and made our home here. And he first went, let's see, first went-- his father was in the lumber business. So he first wanted to go in the lumber business because that's what he knew. And he did with another man, and they managed for a little while, but things weren't going too well because we had, we just had a little bit of money and salaries weren't much, and people were just struggling after the war, you know.

And so I had, you'll laugh at this, but I had a dream one night about this business that he was in and that they were just going to lose everything. And I told him the next morning, I said, "Lamar, we're going to lose all the money we've saved during this war and all this time you've shed blood and everything else to get this far." And I said, "I think you better sell your business, your half to this mister, this man." And he said, "You really think so?" And so we thought about it a while and thought about it, decided that's what we should do. And so that was a good thing that I had that premonition, and then the businesses kind of went defunct.

Jones: You were saved, and you were being paid back for all your patience in the war. So it did fail, then?

McIver: It did fail. And so then I went to work selling real estate.

Jones: Did you? And this is what, within two years, let's say, after the war?

McIver: And Redding Real Estate for Mr. Harris and Leegan on Wrightsville Beach. We lived in mother's apartment at the beach at Harbor Island. And by that time we had Linda, she was born in 1946. And I knew we had to do something to help the income, so. I was renting and helping Mr. Leegan sell the real estate on the beach. And I'd roll her in the stroller over across the bridge and go over to the houses and show them to people and felt so safe, you know. Now you couldn't do that. But I felt so safe doing that. And so I-- he gave me some commissions for doing that. And so, Lamar had got a job as Deputy Clerk of Superior Court. We had a friend who was Clerk of Court, Mr. August Maylin, and he helped him find that job. And so that's what he did for a few years, and it was an appointed job. And then, Linda-- and then, with some money that we'd saved, we decided, because we had tucked it away, we decided that we would move into town, because there were no schools on Harbor Island at the time at Wrightsville Beach. And Lamar's brother-in-law was a contractor. So we got together, and with the money that we saved, we bought a lot over on Bernard Drive, Chestnut Street and Bernard Drive. And soon after that, started building a house that we lived in for 23 years. And then, let's see. Oh, and then I thought, well I-- I'm trying to think now. And then Lamar Junior was born in 1946, born in 1946. And I was, we were in our home then, on Bernard Drive. And I knew then that we had to, [laughs] that I had go to work. I wasn't working at that time. And so, but then I knew I had to go to work to do something to help the income, because Lamar was working at the court house and making our payments. Our house payments were like $65 a month, but that was a lot of money back then. And so I went to work at the Bank of Wilmington as a loan teller. And I knew Mr. Laney, and that's how I got the job. You know, back then, if you knew people and they knew your family, and you were honest--

Jones: It was a handshake and they hired you.

McIver: You be honest, because that'll carry you a long way. Yes, sir. And so he, and he said, "Have you been in banking before?" "Yes sir, I worked at Security National Bank." And so I was a teller there for about six years, a loan teller. While Lamar Jr. was in early childhood and I dropped him off at the high school, that's when they had this Home Ec. department, and they would keep children.

Jones: I heard about that.

McIver: It was maintained by the state. But they kept children, and so I'd drop him off there and go on to work. And so I was working one afternoon late, and Lamar was, by this time, Lamar had changed jobs. He was working at Regal, because he wasn't making enough money at the courthouse. And we had some friends who we knew. One of my best friends married a Regal from-- one of the Regals in New York. So they came to Wilmington, and we met with them and Margie, my friend, Margie Ingles said that her husband would help Lamar get a job over there, because his family was founder of the Regal Paper Company. Well that sounds pretty good. So I told Lamar about that and he applied and he got the job, got a job over there. And then pretty soon, he developed this rash that he couldn't stand the fumes that were there. And so he worked there for a good while and made good money, and back then, we worried about how much you were making, because money was so scarce. And so, I was working late one afternoon at the bank and Mr. Laney was there and I heard him talking to some men, and I could tell they were executives and I kind listened with one ear, and they said something about insurance, insurance. And I thought, "That sounds, maybe they're talking about some insurance company coming here or something." So after it was all over and the men left, Mr. Laney came to me and he said, "Gladys, you reckon Lamar be interested in insurance?" And I said, "I don't know, but I'm sure he can try." [Laughs]. And so it was the people from Allstate Insurance Company down here from Hartford, Connecticut trying to plant an agent here in Sears Roebuck building. And so Lamar was interviewed by them, and they hired him. He was the first Allstate Insurance agent here.

Jones: Is that right?

McIver: And he was down in this little booth in Sears Roebuck down on Front Street. And so that was in 1954. And so, then--

Jones: '54? Okay.

McIver: And in 1966, you know, Sears, I think the date is right, they moved out to Hanover Center, I think it was...

Jones: Yeah, I remember that.

McIver: And he worked there and he, they hired another agent, then. And the agent was a French Canadian. And he was dog-eat-dog man, and Lamar-- I mean he was, you know, you just make what you sell. A little percent of what you sell when you're working with, a direct write company. And so I think it was something like five percent.

Jones: But it doesn't come back to you with renewals.

McIver: It comes back with renewals, but this help, this man they hired would tell-- when Lamar would be out for lunch or something, he would say, "Well, he's off, today." So they'd say, "Well, you write my insurance for me." And so he had, he got enough of that after a couple of years, he said this to me and I was not working then. He said-- I stopped working when my children, I can't remember the dates, when-- I stopped working when the twins were born in 1954. I worked at the bank until that time. And then, of course, I had four children to look after and I couldn't work. And so I didn't work until they got in junior high. And the way that-- now I'm back to that. Lamar said, do you think it would help if I'd go and try to go out on my own? I said, "Well, I don't know about insurance, but I could help with the money end of it, with figures." Because that was my thing, was the figures. "I'll help you with the bookkeeping end of it." And so we got busy and started figuring around, and finally we went to many companies and he was finally given the contracts to write with Aetna and with National and several other companies. But you did-- but they were dubious, because you see he didn't have any book, he didn't have anything. Just a clean sheet of paper just coming from Allstate, they had nothing but a little three-by-five card on those people.

Jones: The company owned that.

McIver: Oh yes, no file or anything. So we sat up all night one night, copying all those three-by-five cards of his. We rented a copy machine and we copied all those hundreds of cards, and went and told them that, "This is what we have. We have these clients that he can call on." And so we started from a clean sheet of paper right on in 1966.

Jones: Is this when you started, 1966?

McIver: 1966, right. And I might have that Sears date wrong, but that was in '66 when he started, because my father died in '67. And so I helped him and we worked in business together for 25 years, went to work together, ate together, slept together, did everything together for 25 years.

Jones: How was that?

McIver: And it was a wonderful relationship. We got several award--

Jones: I was going to say, you did well.

McIver: Well, yes, we did. And we got an award for the bosses of the year, you know, and that kind of thing. And we loved working with our people. When we first started out, we just had one desk and one chair and one typewriter.

Jones: Where did you first set up shop, so to speak? Was it in your home, or--

McIver: On Grace Street, 112 Grace. One little office there, and we had one chair, and one desk, and had an old work table over there that was half-- needed repair. So I bought my hammer and nails and repaired the table so it was a useable work table. And so, then we began to-- he began to go and call on his clients and began to get them to come with him one by one, you know. And it worked out pretty well, and worked up a very good business.

Jones: Now, did he take on, did you take on extra people and train them? I mean, I'm thinking there's so many insurance people in town now; of course, they're under the banner of, let's say, Nationwide, will have a thing in the paper with about eight pictures, you know, and all that sort of thing. Did you train people who eventually went out on their own? I know you're very good friends with Joe Chadwick, so...

McIver: No, we didn't.

Jones: You didn't work with them at all.

McIver: No, we just worked on ourselves-- on our own independent agency, and that's the way the agencies are, here. They have their-- and they send their workers to school to get their license, you know, that's-- but you don't-- now, like a big agency like Woodbury, they, you know, you're talking big business. But we didn't do that. We just had a small independent agency. And we had-- we ended up with three secretaries, three girls and me. And we went into computers, and, you know, got our feet wet with that, and we first-- the first computer that we got, I was looking around the, we called it "the refrigerator." It was as big as a refrigerator, they brought it in on a big truck and rode it in and when we issued the first policy, it was like somebody delivered a baby, we thought. We were all standing around for that policy to come out of that [laughs] computer. And, but so much has gone on since then.

Jones: What was your role in the insurance business with your husband?

McIver: I sold insurance. But I did the business end of it.

Jones: Were there other women that you knew of in Wilmington that were in the insurance business?

McIver: Yes, there were some at-- but yes, they were secretaries. Well, I won't want to put down a secretary, there were none in management. I called myself--

Jones: So you were really--

McIver: I was the manager, I would say. Because actually, at the time, some of the hardest times that we were having, Lamar was on the schoolboard for 12 years and I was back there running that business by myself, because he was out in the county helping to keep the school systems going. And that time, you had dedicated men on the school board. I mean, men and women, they were dedicated to the parents and to the children. And they made a, they got a token; they got $85 a month to cover the gas. And that wasn't probably why they were on the board in the first place. And they, it was a real dedicated board. But anyway he was, so in 1971, you know, is when the schools integrated, and so Lamar was gone a lot, then, so I was really having to manage and sell and meet with the company representatives, and when they called on us, and of course I'd go with Lamar every time we'd go to the companies in Charlotte or Raleigh to be there to find out what was going on. I was right there as his right hand man, you know.

Jones: How long did you have that agency?

McIver: Until 1990 when we merged with Chadwick. And we still have our license in Raleigh. But then, but the big guy, but, and--

Jones: Did your son or any of your kids ever an interest in--

McIver: Robert did. Robert went into insurance right out of college. He went with Aetna, there in Charlotte, and was an underwriter. And ended up being an underwriter supervisor in the underwrite department. And Duncan, they both finished at Lenore, but Duncan went to Richmond and worked for VetCo in Richmond. And when his father died, he was very, you know, he felt like he wanted to get back home with the family, so he came back Wilmington.

Jones: So was-- well, I know Robert, of course...

McIver: Duncan is here, but he works at Lowe's. Lowe's hardware.

Jones: Yeah, okay. And so you merged with Chadwick, and then you didn't have to, in other words, sell it?

McIver: That's right. And we took out book just like this, took it out there. Our book of business, you know, and that's-- it went from there. Because we lost some business, because some people, after Lamar died, some people just felt like a young boy like-- Robert was just a young boy-- and they thought, "Well, maybe we just need to go with somebody's older." And we lost some of the business, but that's what happens when businesses, when people pass away, you know, and you, just because--

Jones: When did your husband pass away?

McIver: He passed away 1985. And due to that--

Jones: But it wasn't until 1990 that you merged with this other company.

McIver: What's happening in five years, the companies, all the companies were looking for bigger and better. I mean, because it was going to be to survive, you know, really in a big way, it was going to be to get together. There were other agencies in Wilmington. See the banks even, BB and T got, I can't remember the agency, but, and with it they got an agency. It was happening. So Robert and George got together and did this before all that came about, they made an agreement to get together. So Robert is the producer there, and so in the agency.

Jones: Did you continue to work with Chadwick?

McIver: I worked until 1996.

Jones: Did you really?

McIver: And I worked-- people say, "Well, you'll know when it's time to retire." But I loved to work. And I always worked.

Jones: Evidently. It sounds to me you'd been working just about your whole life.

McIver: I just loved it. I loved selling things, and--

Jones: Gladys, with all this work and the family activities, and you were with your husband full-time, when did you have time to get so involved in church work, the garden club, the DAR? I mean, you've never been doing nothing, and they've all been good activities.

McIver: Well, we, I was involved with Little League and all those-- Pony League, and all those things, too, through the years. But I've always done church work, and I've just-- it's just been my thing. And I've been involved some way or another with my children, were all involved and, but I loved the community. And I loved to keep my hands in it, and through the ties that Lamar had in the community that pulled me into those things, because he was a community person. And he liked politics. And after he died, I realized that he was my, I want to call it my glue, when it would come to some of those political things. And so I backed off from some of them, because it was-- a lot of them are clique-ish, you know, and so I kind of backed off. I knew when I was-- I knew where my place was, I'd found out right quick. [Laughs.] But I got involved with the Domestic Violence Shelter.

Jones: Let me ask you, how much time we got on this tape? About 12 minutes? I wonder, this is a little bit early, but I wonder if we could take a break now and put in a new tape, because I don't want to stop you. And I want to talk about the Domestic Violence Shelter and these other activities. Because that's all a part of what's developed here and... [audio ends abruptly]

(Tape Change)

Jones: We're still talking with Gladys McIver, this is tape two, and she's going to tell us about some of her, the continuing story of Gladys during work. And this time, it's volunteer work, I guess you would say, in a big way. But you were telling about being always involved with the church. Was that always St. Andrews-Covenant Presbyterian Church?

McIver: Mm-hm.

Jones: And you started to say domestic violence, and I know you've been involved with-- please tell us about that. Were you sort of in on the ground floor of that one, or had it already been originated by the time you did become involved?

McIver: Well, when I became involved, two committees merged. It was a committee for the shelter that Betty Bernie and Louise Goram and Anna McCoy had been working on. And there was another committee of the county that I can't remember the name of it. It was working the same lines of people who needed housing and needed care when they were battered.

Jones: It was social services that were--

McIver: It was, I don't remember the name of the committee, but they combined then, because they were doing the same thing. So I was in when that first committee was resolved and that was it. And when they had the house there on Grace Street, you know, near Third and Grace there was a house there, that they had at first. And then I was on the committee, Barbara Leinberger was Chairman when I was on the Board. She was Chairman of the YMCA at the time, Director of YMCA. YWCA. And I was helping on the Finance Committee, and I don't how they, everybody always got me on the finances.

Jones: Because you were good at it.

McIver: I don't care what it is, they're gonna make me Treasurer of the Finance Committee. But then I also, and then I volunteered when they were doing the Castle Street building, you know. I volunteered to help down there when they were organizing that. But when they were talking about buying a house to house the men and women-- men and women, we were talking about then, and children, that needed care, they said, "Where we gonna get the money, and where we gonna find the house?" Well, you know, when I'm driving along and my eyes are going like this, I'm looking at everything. And so I was driving down Market Street one day, and I saw this, the house that they have there on Market for sale. And I thought, "Well, now that's ideal." And so I took that back to the committee and they talked about it, and they said, "We'll never get the money to buy that." But Maryann Lama...

Jones: She's still there.

McIver: some grants, and see, and we got the house, and we were so happy. But I've worked with that for several years in the volunteer way and loved it, because it was doing something for somebody else. I've always loved to do something for other people. And my daughter Linda says, "Mother, I think there's a sign on your back that says, 'If you need help, call this number.'" [Laughs.]

Jones: Call.

McIver: [Laughs.] That's probably true. And so, but then I stayed on that Board a couple of sessions I guess, and really enjoyed it until they started making the pamphlets to advertise more. And I learned a lot on that Board about people, because we talked about never calling any names, but we talked about several of the cases that they brought in. And a man, for instance, one time I was so amazed, and he was a physician in this town, and he was battering his wife. And I was, like I say, the reason they brought that in, was because they wanted to use that example of what they were talking about at that time. And I just couldn't believe it.

Jones: Well, of course, we're all learning that you think of domestic violence being hitting and physical harm, and it can be so many other things. And there are men who are battered, too.

McIver: Right. But at that time they put men in hotels and didn't put them in that house. But I haven't done any more work except volunteering in the workshops from time to time...

Jones: Good.

McIver: ...after I got off the Board. But still, went back to see MaryAnn, and support it in buying the cards and all at Christmas time and all. We were with Mary Ann when her son got sick, Destiny, who died, you know. And that was a terrible ordeal for her, and we supported her in that; it was just so sad. But there's another part of my life that took me into community work that we haven't mentioned. But one thing, I worked as a Pink Lady at the hospital, at James Walker. I got 500 and some hours doing that and worked at the new hospital, but my work place in insurance was getting so heavy then I couldn't do any more volunteer work for that. But the other part of this life that I haven't talked about is that I lost a son in 1985, 1990. My second child, and there's my oldest. And he was...

Jones: This is Lamar?

McIver: Mm-hmm. And he had a battle with alcohol all of his years. I want to say, from-- I want to say it really began when he was in, went in the service. It might have been blossoming some in college. But because of that, I became heavily involved with Al-Anon, and which became a big part of my life that really was a structure that really helped me, even my husband's sudden death. I mean, you wouldn't believe it, but it is so strong.

Jones: I do believe it.

McIver: It is so strong.

Jones: I'm familiar with that program.

McIver: But I just wanted to express that because-- and then from that, I went out and told my story. Many, many times I'd go in the county and tell my story. And that helped me get strong.

Jones: You were helping other people, but it was helping you.

McIver: Mm-hmm. And I think, in connection with that, that's the part of me that when my husband died so suddenly, I turned around and said to myself, that, "This is for a reason, and I'm gonna use this in my life to help somebody else." And I think this, the Al-Anon, and through-- I visit a lot in nursing homes and in people's homes. And I think through that strength and support that I was given over those years, I've been able to spread it.

Jones: That's right, you're doing it.

McIver: And I guess that's the way I can put it, I've just been able to spread it out. And I know when I go visit folks, they'll say, "Are you hear from the DAR, or here for the church? What group are you here for?" And I said, "Well, I'm here for me, this time." [Laughs.] But it's been such a sustainer for me, and it's built my faith, because God's just been in my life all these years.

Jones: Well, I can well understand where you're coming from. I think, you know it takes--

McIver: I don't know if you want me to get into that or not, but it's part of me.

Jones: That's fine.

McIver: You know, it's part of my life.

Jones: That's fine. There are people like that, you have had a varied life and you're dealing. Both of these issues, domestic violence and alcoholism are probably at the bottom of the pit of humanity, but it exists. You can't turn your back on it. And if you've got a message, and if you've witnessed and been a part of it, you have to do that. Doesn't give you strength though, you feel good about it that you can help somebody. But that's one of the reasons I wanted you in here, because you have helped a lot of people. Do you want to-- Are you still with the church or on your own, occasionally helping out, either with domestic violence-- You said you were in some of the workshops?

McIver: Yeah.

Jones: I think that's one of the most difficult things is to see how other people are coping and then go home and think, "Oh."

McIver: I know.

Jones: And alcohol, which is an illness, it truly is, but it's also, it makes you feel kind of, I don't know, unworthy in a way. These are two very important issues, but I know that we're limited as to what we can say about some of this, because they've asked us to be. But, you also are in the Garden Club, and you've been with DAR how long? And some of the jobs you've had there, because they've grown and they've become real worker bees, too.

McIver: I've been in DAR since 19-- , I didn't join, I wanted to join early on, but working, I knew I couldn't be a good member. I couldn't participate. And I wanted to be, if I was a member, I wanted to be able to do something, to give something to the club, to the chapter. So I joined in 19-- , I can't remember. It was in, I guess, 1990.

Jones: Oh really, not until then?

McIver: Uh-huh. We were certain [inaudible], so put it that way, but I think it was about then.

Jones: Did you and Mildred join at the same time?

McIver: Mm-hmm. And right away, you won't guess, but they made me Treasurer of the chapter.

Jones: [Laughs.]

McIver: And I was Treasurer for four years, and I learned everything.

Jones: Four.

McIver: They told me then, that that was the time that you stayed four years. Now they say two.

Jones: Two, yeah.

McIver: And I learned everything from the regent on down to the treasurer job, because that's what you do when you're treasurer. And I was state treasurer. Polly Sheetz called me one night, she said, "Would you, it's our turn to work with the State Conference in Pinehurst." And she said, "Would you help us, because you've been treasurer of the chapter, and would you help us? All you gotta do is pay bills, you know, write checks, pay bills." And I said, "Well I can do that, that's simple." Well, it turned out--

Jones: She didn't tell you the rest of the stuff.

McIver: She didn't even know, either.

Jones: Oh, she didn't?

McIver: It turned out that we had to tie it in with the reservations at the Carolina Club, and with the dinners, take the money for all the dinners and pay all the people that were celebrities coming in and going out, and all the schedules. Well, as an end result, I ran the copy machine, cleared out my gameroom; we met up there and then worked on these things at my house for weeks and weeks and weeks, preparing for this. All the applications came to my house. I had to make copies of every one of them. I worked every night to eleven, twelve o'clock after I got home from work.

Jones: Then you had the reports to do.

McIver: Then reports to do, and collect all the money that they had for all the reservations. And I said, "Polly, don't ever tell me it's nothing to anything." [Laughs.] And so--

Jones: That's the worst job in the world.

McIver: It was awful, and I just about made myself sick. I ended up in the chiropractor's office with a bad neck. But leaning over that desk so long, had to put a phone up in my game room so I could call long distance to all these people. That's the time, looking back-- they asked me to be regent. I could have been regent because I knew all the chapters in the state. I couldn't tell you now, but I knew every chapter in the state. And because I did, with all the-- and that's the knowledge that a regent has to know, it's nice to know.

Jones: Was it as much of a full-time job in 1990 as it is today?

McIver: I don't know. They say they've got that trimmed down. Let me think what they said. I believe they said they'd pay somebody to do that now. I asked them.

Jones: Because it is a full-time job.

McIver: Uh-huh.

Jones: And more and more things are being added. It's bigger and bigger and bigger.

McIver: And I think they pay somebody to do that, take care of the finances now. Well I had a bank account big as, I don't know what, big as this table, and, oh my land. And I had it all in my briefcase and I was scared that I was gonna lose it, or somebody was gonna come get the briefcase, and when I went to the convention, to the conference, I held it right with me, right beside me the whole time with all those records in it and everything. Golly.

Jones: There is a lot of money involved, just sitting there listening to Judy read off the investments.

McIver: Yeah.

Jones: Anyway, so that's been, going on 18 years.

McIver: Uh-huh. But I've been involved in other committees since then.

Jones: Right, I'm sure you have.

McIver: But when they talk about a thousand dollars for this, a thousand dollars for that, I think about we didn't have but fifty dollars to pay the church with. We'd left St. Paul's Lutheran Church, Episcopal Church. They went up to five-hundred dollars a month for their room, I mean, a year, and we didn't have the money.

Jones: You went to St. John's too, right?

McIver: St. John's, that's-- we went to St. John's. They went up to five-hundred dollars a month, I mean, a year. Well, I knew what we, the money we had, I was treasurer then, and I said, "I don't believe we could handle that." And so I went over to that church, to St. Andrew's Covenant, and asked them if we could meet over there. And they said that they thought that we could; they'd have to have a little meeting. And then I went back and they said, yes, we could, and then I said, "Well, we don't have any money." And they said, "Well, how much can you pay?" and I said, "$50." And they said, "Well, okay," and I said, "We'll do better later, maybe." And so they let us come, and we've been going ever since.

Jones: That's a nice place to be. It really and truly is.

McIver: But when I see them read off those figures, you know, I think, "Those girls spend all that money. Oh golly." [Laughs.] They say it's just money.

Jones: What about the Azalea Festival and the Garden Club?

McIver: Well, Lamar ran that Azalea Festival parade for 20 years.

Jones: Really. They didn't change every year.

McIver: He was chairman for about 20 years.

Jones: That started, the Azalea Festival started what, 1950s?

McIver: Wait a minute. Lamar was born in '46; it started about '45.

Jones: It was a golf tournament thing, wasn't it?

McIver: Yeah, uh-huh.

Jones: Out at Greenfield Park?

McIver: I think it was in '45 that it started. Because they used to come, used to make up down on Dawson Street. But he ran that thing, and of course Duncan and Robert, he groomed them and Robert ran it for five years after he came to Wilmington. It's a job. But as Lamar, he was running the parade and I was involved in other facets of the parade, help with the floats, and taking reservations for the floats, and getting people to rent those buntings that you put on the buildings, you know. And so, we got involved in all that, and with the youth, with the teenage group. They'd come to our house. One year I looked out, we'd planned it though, but here they came with a teenage bus, all in one load in our house-- we had a big party at the house. But it kept us involved in the Festival over all those years. But I didn't take a big chairmanship job because I was running, I was busy selling insurance. [Laughs.] See, I say that really in a fun way, but it's the truth, because Lamar was out doing all these festival things, and I was back there trying to run a business. You know, I mean, and I said to him one day, I said, "When are you going to come to work?" [laughs]

Jones: During those 25 years that he ran it, it grew and grew and grew, obviously, and did you start having celebrities? Was it that time they started bringing celebrities in here, and broaden it to the scope it's close to being now?

McIver: Yeah, uh-huh. And the year that Billy Sutton was president is when we first met at Brighton Hall, and we had it in the round. That was the first year that we did that. But we, Lamar, we were right in with the officials every year, and all the activities.

Jones: How long did it last, in those days, the Azalea Festival?

McIver: Like the same thing.

Jones: Really?

McIver: Same length of time.

Jones: Did they have the Garden Club, or the gardens open?

McIver: Mm-hmm.

Jones: And he took part in that?

McIver: No, because I wasn't in the Garden Club then. But the Garden Club, I hear them tell tales about how they would get a girl over here and a girl over there and someone would put a dress on her and she'd stand in the garden. They started with just like two belles, and maybe three or four gardens. I hear them telling about that, but I wasn't in the Garden Club then. That was way back in the beginning. I haven't taken a real heavy job in the Garden Club. I just wanted to be a member and enjoy. I do work in the gardens though, when they-- Well, I'll back up on that. I have helped [laughs] with the refreshments. I helped serve at the ribbon-cutting several times, refreshments, and I've sat in the gardens each year. I've been doing that for years.

Jones: Gladys, how are the gardens chosen?

McIver: They have a committee and the people, and the committee, and the people, the community, it's kind of word-of-mouth. People in the committee will know somebody that's maybe worked in their garden, and they'll say, "Well, So-and-so down the street, go see them. They may want their garden on display." But I think then they send out letters to these people, the people that others tell them about, and then the committee goes, and they go and visit these gardens and then choose them like that.

Jones: John Bernie loves to tell the story that one year he donated $25,000 to the Garden Club, because that's what it cost him to have his wife come, have her garden on tour.

McIver: [Laughs.] I heard about that.

Jones: And of course, I don't know. He says it with a deadpan face. But that's typically John, so I don't know whether he's telling the truth or not.

McIver: No, that's what he says. [Laughs.] And they said her garden was really wonderful.

Jones: Well, it still is nice.

McIver: Yeah. And Williams, next door...

Jones: Bert Williams.

McIver: ...put them together. But some years they have a hard time finding gardens. If you find one that really is kind of mediocre, they have a hard time finding gardens.

Jones: Well, I wonder, because as you know, in today's world, they have these gardens all over the place. And some of them are in new homes, or almost new-- three, four, five years old. And you know that they have spent an absolute fortune.

McIver: Oh, they do, to put them on these-- and some say, "I'll enter my garden and I'll have somebody come and do the garden, you know, landscaping." And they have plenty of money, because they want their garden on display.

Jones: Does the landscaper maybe do it for a smaller fee because they're getting publicity?

McIver: I wouldn't think so.

Jones: That's a lot of money to do.

McIver: They spend oodles of money.

Jones: But then I think there's some yards, like the Smith family, over on...

McIver: Oh, oh yeah, yeah.

Jones: ...that they've been doing.

McIver: Oh yeah, on [inaudible]. Now her garden used to be on display every year because it was just there. It was just a nice garden.

Jones: They just did it as the years went on.

McIver: It was just a garden. But some people just want to prepare it for the garden show.

Jones: I often thought I wish I could go out and get somebody and say, "Come in. This is what I want, and I'm going to bed tonight and when I get up tomorrow it's gonna look beautiful."

McIver: [laughs] Well, we have a little girl in our church that does that. Sara Craven, Tom Craven's daughter, is a landscaper now.

Jones: In all the things you do, are we missing-- I'm sure we're missing some things. What you're proud of, that you feel is a real plus.

McIver: I can't think of anything.

Jones: When did you have time for anything else?

McIver: Because in the last several years, I've tried not to be chairman of anything, because I've reached the age where I don't have to do that anymore. You know? I don't want to. I don't want to. I don't want to.

Jones: Well, I can understand that.

McIver: I can say, "No," and not worry about it, you know?

Jones: I wanted to ask you just a couple of questions before we end, and one has to do with the many changes that have taken place in this town, in this whole area, in a comparatively short period of time. And I'm not going to bother naming them, you know what they are, we can all pick up the paper every day and see what's happening. But two questions, they're kind of interrelated. What do you think about it, all the many changes from your describing how you grew up, the war years, after the war. We talked about the 1970's when we had that Title VI, the integration of schools and what a horrendous time that was for everybody, to right now. What do you think about now and, be candid, what do you wish didn't happen, what do you hope will continue to happen in the growth? Does that make sense to you?

McIver: Well, I think a town-- If you're going make progress, is, you're going have to grow, and that's the thing we've done, and whether we've liked it or not. And we were a little, I call it a sleepy little town, I guess, at one time, charming little sleepy town, and we've grown to almost a metropolitan area. And, that part bothers me because it's just so much selfishness, I think in some ways, but the traffic for one thing. People are very selfish. I had somebody cut into me coming over here today. And it's just not thinking about your brother, you know? But I think, with-- I think one thing the growth has done for us in many ways, we haven't liked some of it. But I think some of the people that we've had coming in here have brought a lot of talent, especially in the art field. And I mean look at the Thalian place, look at the people who have taken part, without batting an eye, they have been able to give the talents to us. And the dance theaters have opened; more of them have opened. And this is opening new chapters for us. And I think it's a good thing. But I think that we've expanded so fast until our facilities haven't been able to catch up, to grow with it, with expansion.

Jones: Do you think it's been a little bit on the haphazards?

McIver: Yes.

Jones: What do you think about our county commissioners, and without individually, I mean, as a whole and the city council, have they perhaps let things get away from them?

McIver: Well, I think they chew on things too long. They just go on and on and on, and like talking about the convention center. They dragged that out for years on end, and which I don't even approve of in the first place. But I approve what this Jason Thompson has just said. He's going to run for the county commissioners because everybody on there has been there for years.

Jones: He said he'd only stay two terms.

McIver: And they need a change. And I think he's smart. I think his ideas are good. But I think we-- they get complacent and I think they-- like this four-million dollar shortfall they have. I think that is ridiculous.

Jones: Inexcusable.

McIver: Absolutely. And so yeah, I have been very disappointed now, in our city council, city council and county commissioners.

Jones: How about the growth in building, homes and such?

McIver: Well the growth in the buildings bothers me because they're, just they're, they're not building the houses to last, for one thing. And, they're building all these cul-de-sacs that are not safe when it comes to fire hazards, and they're building in on our wetlands to build something else. Mayfaire's sitting right down there in the biggest wetland you ever saw. And one day somebody, an older person, older than I, said one said day, "Wait until the next hurricane comes, and it's going to dig a trench through Mayfaire." I mean, who knows, who knows. Like the inlets and God knows-- God's stronger than man. And, so--

Jones: Renourishment--

McIver: I think they--

Jones: What do you think of such things as having to build another bridge across the Cape Fear River with all the traffic into, well, north and south traffic? That they have to they can't come right through downtown they've got to skirt someplace, I mean Market Street. I heard recently somebody who I'm sure you've heard of, Connie Majure-Rhett had suggested that perhaps they should put a median strip down Market Street. Have it one-way traffic each way and then bring in your north, west, south traffic through another area that wouldn't--

McIver: Well you see, you go into Richmond and the one-way streets going into Richmond and why couldn't we have Market Street one way to a certain point, one way?

Jones: You can't widen it.

McIver: No it's just a hazard to traffic.

Jones: Well you can't widen that down, entering the downtown anyways, just too beautiful an old historic district.

McIver: That's right, I know, and why the City Council can't get that in their head, I don't know. [laughs]

Jones: But you are progressive in your thinking. Don't you think? In accepting a lot of these things are inevitable?

McIver: Yes, yes, I do.

Jones: Because along with it has come the major improvements for medical care and research.

McIver: Hospitals and treatment centers, and I mean it's just wonderful; there's a place for everybody and there's a treatment for everybody, there's a doctor for everybody.

Jones: And we have-- This particular campus that we're sitting on right now has constantly or consistently been upgraded in what they're doing.

McIver: Right, and we've got so much to be proud of and I was just telling him before, we-- A while ago that I remember, just one building was out here with one little drive, that little circle there, you know. And then they had a building on each side then built more and more, and it's just been a wonderful asset. I-- Linda graduated from here.

Jones: Did she really?

McIver: And--

Jones: Now, is Linda working now? She's no longer teaching, is she?

McIver: No, no, she's retired.

Jones: Well, what final words--

McIver: I haven't been in the loop, like you want me to answer that about--

Jones: No, it's just your opinion because you live here, you read the newspaper, you're out and about. You still talk to your ten best buddies who grew up here. They've got opinions. None of us have the real answers, you know?

McIver: Right, but I go down and look at the Cape Fear Community College. I just stand there and it makes me proud because that is a wonderful institution.

Jones: But they're taking up all of downtown?

McIver: They take-- I know they are, but they are doing so much for young people who want to zero in on vocation, you know, just if they want to be a welder or if they want to be a carpenter if they want to be. There's, they don't have to take all this, these modern arts and all these other subjects to really learn their trade, because I wanted to be a brickmason one time.

Jones: I wouldn't doubt it.

McIver: They were giving lessons at Lewiston High School and Lamar wouldn't let me go but [laughs] way it is. I just, it fascinates me, building, you know, I just, like those bricks how they lay them exactly right.

Jones: How long have you lived in the house you live in now?

McIver: Thirty-seven years. We lived on Bernard Drive 23 years.

Jones: Well, Gladys, it's been an absolute pleasure.

McIver: I hope I've haven't run into roadblocks, and--

Jones: No, you haven't. No, there's some of these things that I have--

McIver: Yes, I would like--

Jones: These are all learning experiences.

McIver: But I would like to tell you one thing about my father.

Jones: Please do. Oh, please do.

McIver: He was sporting, sold sporting goods, fishing tackle then at 114 Market and his store is now the Deluxe Restaurant.

Jones: Oh, really?

McIver: Yes, and it's on the market for a million dollars, the building; he owned the building bought the building in '40, '39, I think. Anyway, he learned the trade when he was a boy. It was repair bicycles for pickers. That was on Market Street. Then his mother and father were both deceased by the time he was 14, so he was adopted. And, so, we can't trace any of his family back, so, but we-- Sneeden, we claim them like my adopted granddaughter claims all of us. We're kin but we claim all the Sneedens because of the connections. Anyway, so he opened his own shop at 28 North-- South Front Street, selling bicycles and fishing tackle and sometimes radios. And so then, he got enough funds together to buy the Aaron's building that was an old drugstore. They were called Aaron's on Market Street and he bought that in the '30s. But he, so all this with my life, see I have been raised with selling things. See that probably had the big seed about how I wanted to sell things to make a profit. And, so anyway so being the tomboy I was, he would bring home the baseball bats and the gloves and things for me to play ball in the field behind our house. And I was always the captain of the team because I had all the equipment. And, so, I know when I was little I was very small then.

Jones: I was going to say, you were probably the smallest one on the team.

McIver: I was little, small. And so when he got around on Market Street, he expanded his store some, so he started selling. At that time, it wasn't long after the Depression in the early '30s, because money, it was hard to come by, selling things. So he started selling, in with the fishing tackle, and the bicycles, he made five dollars off of each bicycle he sold, new bicycle. And then I remember one Christmas-- when the Depression hit, I was seven and when the banks closed and my daddy came home and he reached in his pocket and put his hand like that, he had $.75 in his hand. He said, "The banks have just closed, I have $.75 in my hand, and what is in my cash drawer." That's all he had to his name. And so, and he said--

Jones: And how many children were in the family?

McIver: Two, just my sister and I. And we had-- and he had a caller to bicycles, it was near Christmas, coming to sell near Christmas from Atlanta, and no way to get the money out of the bank to pay for the bicycles. So he went to the bank and the banker was Mr. Merckinson, and he begged him and told him what had happened, and Mr. Merkinson gave him a loan to get those bicycles at the train station so he could sell those bicycles for Christmas. And that just was instilled in my mind. But anyway, then from then on it was creeping. The times were really bad. Hard. But everybody was--

Jones: They were all in the same boat.

McIver: Everybody was in the same boat; it wasn't just us. Everybody was poor. I mean we had the Sprunts, and the Kenans, and the Wises-- and the Trasks were dirt farmers; they didn't have any money either. They just had land at that time. And, so you could just name on your fingers the people that had money. And so then I would go down to my father's store and just stand there and watch him make the fishing-- He would make fishing tackle and sell it. And then I said, "Now, I want to know how those bicycles are put together." So he taught me how to take a bicycle apart and put it back together. So I learned how to do that. And I was always wanting to do things like that. But they had a fishing club then, that had probably, I don't know, 500 members at the fishing club. And my daddy's business was headquarters for the fishing club. And they, when they built-- when they would catch these big drum, 25-, 30-pound drum, they would hang them out in front of the store on a rod.

Jones: I've seen pictures.

McIver: And take pictures of them, you know, and the men would stand there in their fishing gear, and manner of the fishing gear then was long sleeved shirts and hats sometimes, and high-top shoes and long pants. And so they come and weigh the fish, and that's how they'd win money you know, for being the biggest fish. But his store was headquarters for the fishing club. But I stood at his elbow down there many, many times watching them.

Jones: So you survived?

McIver: Yes.

Jones: Just like every, a lot of other people?

McIver: Yes.

Jones: Just survived?

McIver: And he, right. And then when the war, when Camp Davis was built and during the war-- Oh, by the way I worked out there too, at Camp Davis, I forgot about that. [Laughs.] I forgot about that one, in the Social Security department. Somebody told me you could make more money out there, so I decided I'd go out there.

Jones: In the Social Security department?

McIver: I just filed cards. It wasn't anything just, that was just a little sad thing. But I just had a carpool to--

Jones: You were a worker bee.

McIver: Yes. And so, listen, I got off my track.

Jones: All right.

McIver: I was telling you about, oh, my father. Well, people didn't have two cars then, you know. Everybody just had one car then, if they had that. But we had one car and my mother never drove. So my dad had this Dodge, and George Kennedy worked for my daddy and that's-- so he would drive, fill the car full of football equipment, and what they ordered from Camp Davis, all the sporting goods stuff, baseball stuff and all, and take it out to the camp. And then, Daddy's business began to pick up and it began to flourish. And, so he began to get really on his feet and make money and was able to retire in 19-- He was 52 when he retired, and that was in 1942, he retired.

Jones: That was pretty young.

McIver: Yes, but he had heart problems. He was not in good health. And then, that's when they moved to Harbor Island. But, they moved before that, but anyway, they-- so I want to get back to his store. The first air-conditioned office was in my daddy's store.

Jones: Really?

McIver: Mr. Earl Sneeden was selling air-conditioned-- just coming in then, and he was trying to get his feet.

Jones: Were these window units?

McIver: No, it was-- they built a little office, a separate little office.

Jones: Where they housed it all?

McIver: Uh-huh. And enclosed it with a door and put a little air conditioner in there. It probably was a window unit that they put in there, and it was the only one in town, only air-conditioned office in town. And so Daddy made money by renting this little space to this man who was his cousin, a distant cousin. And so I guess I learned how from my daddy how you make money doing something else.

Jones: Well, you've been a survivor. And you learned it the right way. So, I didn't realize-- I thought you had-- so Mildred is your only sibling, just the two of you? And you've been--

McIver: Twenty months difference in us.

Jones: And you've been good friends since?

McIver: Yes.

Jones: That's wonderful. That is wonderful.

McIver: We're so different. We complement each other, but we're so different.

Jones: Well, you're survivors. You're both survivors.

McIver: When I was out in the yard playing marbles and all those things, she was inside reading books and playing with dolls. But I only had one doll in my life and you heard about that, I'm sure.

Jones: No.

McIver: Well, they read this out when I got that life membership at the church, lifetime membership. My daddy was always, he was an enabler for me to be a tomboy because of not having any boys. And so I, one Christmas I wanted, I asked for a toolbox. Of course, he was-- He got the toolbox. Well, mother wanted me to have a doll baby. So she bought the doll baby. Well, Christmas Day, Mother told this story about me. She missed me and I was on the back steps sawing the doll's head off with the saw I got. I didn't want that doll. I didn't want that doll baby.

Jones: How old were you?

McIver: I was just a little thing, about five years old.

Jones: Well, you didn't know.

McIver: I didn't ask for it. I didn't want it.

Jones: That is too funny. Oh, that is too funny.

McIver: And that doll's head was a hollowed doll. You know, it was one of those china dolls. Yeah. And I sawed its head off.

Jones: Did they save that? I would've saved that had I been your mother and say, "I am going to give this to you later."

McIver: No, you know, we didn't think of it, she didn't think of it.

Jones: Oh, that's amazing.

McIver: She did save all my marbles, though.

Jones: They're probably worth something now.

McIver: I've sold some of them for $250 a piece.

Jones: Goodness sakes.

McIver: I was in a marble club at one time. And the-- I saw in the paper that this marble club was going to be formed, so I called them up and I said I'd like know a little bit about the marble club. And they told me, and they said we would be glad to have you join us, and I said, "Well, can I bring my marbles?" They said, "Just bring them," and I had this big bag, a canvas bag of marbles, and they-- when I went in, they said, "They're marbles?" I said, "Yeah, these are all my marbles." And they said they'd never seen so many marbles at one time.

Jones: Well nobody can ever say that you didn't have any marbles.

McIver: And they were, they loved the marbles, I mean, and so I've joined the club and people came in from the other states during the Azalea Festival. We had rented a room at the motel and people came in to look at the marbles. And I'd sell some of the marbles there. I had a book to tell me what they were worth.

Jones: That's amazing. Well, you are a survivor. Now you and Mildred both are cancer survivors?

McIver: I am not a cancer survivor?

Jones: You're not? I thought you had cancer at one time?

McIver: No.

Jones: Well, you're still a survivor. She is.

McIver: I am a survivor of some things.

Jones: And it must come from-- you either grew up right or you come from a healthy, very hearty stock.

McIver: Yeah.

Jones: Anyway, this is been--

McIver: I know I've rambled on everything.

Jones: No it's been fun. It's been totally fun.

McIver: And I've told you some silly things.

Jones: No, it's just all-- these are things you don't hear about, see about anything anymore. Chris, what do you think?

" I had a great time.


"McIver: But, you know, talk about mentors or people that meant a lot, I've told this Betty Anne Hardiman, her mother was a person that I always admired, and because being a woman in the business world.


"Jones: Right.


"McIver: Because she was just a wonderful businesswoman.

" " "

"Jones: I heard my father-in-law talk about her because he worked for her.


"McIver: I know it. And she-- I would go up to see her and I would-- when my husband died, I thought, "Well, I am going to get on some of these boards around here," you know, "and get myself into this business world." You know, because they didn't look at ladies being in the business world so much. But I was trying to make my way, and so I went up and talked to Margaret, and I said, "I want to see if I can get on this board up here, the Co-op Savings." She said, "Well, apply," you know, "Go to it. Go for it." So I did, and they turned me down because of the insurance. The-- What do I want to say-- The insurance might interfere with some decisions that they make on the board.


"Jones: Oh, I see.


"McIver: Of some loans. So they turned me down. But anyway, she was always so neat and I just wanted to be like her. I wanted to be neat and just to be a wonderful businesswoman like she was. She was just great. And everybody thought that about her. But speaking of the Joneses, when I was small, Mother and Dad, Mother and Father were Christians, but they didn't go to church when we were little. But they did later in life. They went to the little chapel on the boardwalk. But I would-- we would walk from my house to the Saint Andrews Covenant, and the-- I always sat with the Joneses. Mildred sat with somebody else. But I always sat, all my growing-up years I always sat with the Joneses, with Elizabeth and Wilbur and her mother and daddy, right in that pew.


"Jones: Well, it's amazing he's still there.


"McIver: Yeah, yeah. Isn't that something?


"Jones: Yeah, yeah.


"McIver: And so they've always been a part of me, you know, a part of my growing-up life.

" " "

"Jones: Well, you've had an interesting life. You know, you're one of the few people I have talked to, and I'll say this, you've had an interesting life, you've been through much, you've experienced so many changes that most people have not. And you're still active, but I think you've suffered, you've had big times, you wanted to be a part of things and the span has been a fantastic time period because so many changes have taken place rapidly. I stop and think I read something just recently about compressing computers and your telephone. On a general basis, I know there's Blackberries and things, but also taking computers to your TV, they'll all be one, and I am thinking, "Good Lord, I am still battling a [inaudible] some of the programs on my new computer."


"McIver: I know it.


"Jones: "I can't handle this."


"McIver: I always hear that about taking computers to the TV.


"Jones: Television, yeah.


"McIver: I know.


"Jones: Yes, so, my hat is off to you. And I thank you for coming up and talking to us, and I know anybody listening to this and watches you, you know, your expression tells a lot too, and it's the voice, but you're still just a happy person.


"McIver: Well I try to be, and I think your attitude takes you a long ways.


"Jones: Thank you, Gladys.


"McIver: And, thank you.

" "


" "

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