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Interview with Charles P. (Chuck) Truby, March 24, 2008 | UNCW Archives and Special Collections Online Database

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Interview with Charles P. (Chuck) Truby, March 24, 2008
March 24, 2008
Interview with Dr. Charles "Chuck" Truby. He and his wife Nancy moved to Wilmington in 1998. His fields of interest are The Arboretum, where he is a Master Gardner, and the Lower Cape Fear Historical Society, where he serves on the board. Most recently, Truby has completed his manuscript for the Historic Digest of Lower Cape Fear for the Newcomer. He is a member of Friends of Oakdale and works with Good Shepherd Kitchen, Habitat for Humanity, and The Chamber Music Society.
Phys. Desc:

Interviewee: Truby, Charles P. Interviewer: Jones, Carroll Date of Interview: 3/24/2008 Series: SENC Volunteers Length 58 minutes

Jones: It's Monday, March 24th, 2008. I'm Carroll Jones with Chris Malpass for the Randall Library Oral History Project-- excuse me for that. Our interview guest this morning is Dr. Charles Truby who moved to Wilmington from New Jersey; is that correct?

Truby: Yes.

Jones: Okay. Only five years ago?

Truby: 1999.

Jones: Okay. '99, I'm sorry. And you fell in love with the history and the charm and has truly immersed himself into the culture here. He's just finished a book on history of Lower Cape Fear for the Lower Cape Fear Historical Society. He's a Master Gardener, a member of Friends of Oakdale and married to an avid golfer. Good morning, Chuck.

Jones: Good morning.

Truby: Let's talk a little bit about your beginnings, your early years, where you grew up, family, et cetera. Go.

Truby: I was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. My father was a steelworker. My mother actually made patent tanks during World War II.

Jones: Really?

Truby: Yes. She was a welder.

Jones: And this was in Chicago?

Truby: Yes, mm-hmm. And a poor family, I would-- I would think. Moved out into the suburbs later, had a real stuttering problem. It was something that started about four years old and went on all the way through Master's Degree.

Jones: It started at 4?

Truby: Yeah. And don't know the reason for that. Anyway, I went on to do pretty well in high school, grade-wise. Sports were always in, I was always into sports, and was able to garnish a football scholarship to Northwestern-- when Ara Parseghian.

Jones: Oh.

Truby: ...came out of Miami Ohio, yeah and got there a pre-med student at Northwestern, and I got hammered; I really got nailed. I-- and there's several reasons for that. One, although I did well in grades, I don't think our high school prepared us for college and the- and the strain and the discipline that it takes. So I immediately went on probation and was able to go from football to wrestling maintaining the tuition being paid for, and then I just couldn't go on anymore. So being from South Holland, Illinois, which is about 25 miles south of Chicago, it was a Dutch community, and they, the reform church had a school called Hope College in Holland, Michigan, about 1,500 students. And the locals suggested, "Chuck, go up there. Get your athletics in, but maybe make your grades." So I did, and I learned how to study and how to be a college student, played my sports and didn't know what to do, got really interested, because of the professor there, in biology and particularly microbiology and biochemistry. And so, decided-- got married, had a child, and we went on to Tempe, Arizona to Arizona State to work on a Master's Degree, and I've been teaching fellowship there. And the professor I worked under had a grant so there was some income there. My wife...

Jones: Your Master's was in what?

Truby: Biochemistry and Microbiology.

Jones: The Bios.

Truby: Yeah. Nancy got her RN Degree when, before we were married and supported us. So they, the professors at Arizona State, convinced me, "You've got to continue; you can't stop here. What's a Master's gonna do in biochemistry and and microbiology--

Jones: Excuse me. Biochemistry became really big, so was this...

Truby: It was a great-- the-- no. It-- the-- it was right at the verge, right at the verge of taking off. So was able to get a scholarship to the University of Houston and teaching fellowship, the whole thing. Professor had a grant again and she continued to work. We continued to add to our family and worked very hard. We spent four years there and got my Doctorate in Biochemistry and Microbiology, and I just happened to be at the right place at the right time. We were going to the moon in 1969 and they were looking to- NASA was looking to make sure that if we set our foot on the lunar surface that we would not contaminate it. And politically we had to. If we were gonna remove lunar materials and bring them back to study, that we didn't want to release an Andromeda strain. Some...

Jones: Oh, gosh.

Truby: And it was-- and, you know-- and physically we knew that life did not exist, not on the lunar surface, but we treated it as though it was. So they needed microbiologists, biochemists. And when we went to the moon and brought back with the lunar soil, I was responsible, headed up the Lunar Receiving Lab eventually, and I was responsible for around 200 individuals to support scientists from around the world to come in and do their thing. Be they uh...

Jones: And that was where?

Truby: ...job. At Houston.

Jones: At Houston. You lived down there?

Truby: Right.

Jones: Okay.

Truby: So I was there at the right time. And so that went on for several years. And right about the same time...

Jones: Excuse me, could we go back a second? Would you just briefly, for our audience who may not be familiar with the Andromeda strain, just briefly give us a quick overview on what that meant?

Truby: Well, it meant that it was a strain of bacteria that, if released on earth, could wipe out the animal world as we know it today and possibly the plant world.

Jones: Okay.

Truby: And so what we did is we took 33 different species of animals and injected the animals with the solutions of lunar soil. We had viral tissue culture media, microbiological media, and we tried to attempt to grow organisms from the lunar soil to at least have documented evidence that nothing was brought back. And of course we did medical workups on all the astronauts microbiologically and medically, chemistry- blood chemistries and that sort of thing. So it was very interesting. They would come back. They would be quarantined for an additional 14, 15 days to give it a 20- a 21-day quarantine period 'cause it took several days to get back from the aircraft carrier, and it was, it was just exciting-- my first exposure to, number 1, managing other people. Managing...

Jones: And you had how many?

Truby: 200 at the peak, and then the scientists from- around the world would come in and then our- my labor would support them in whatever they wanted to do. They wanted to look at the isotopes possibly, and the lunar soil, the geology of it.

Jones: This was in 1960?

Truby: '69 through '70-- our last trip was '72 to the moon.

Jones: That was a heavy time.

Truby: Yes. And then we had Sky Lab, which was an orbiting laboratory that didn't go to the lunar surface, which we supported, and then I left there in '74. But at the same time plastics were coming on board- disposable plastics.

Jones: The special kind.

Truby: Special-- poly carbonate, polypropylenes. And the medical device industry was wanting to move away from glass, reusable catheters or syringes, in particular, and that's where I got involved. So plastics were coming along and sure enough they developed some. But then there was the issue of how do you mass sterilize? The doctor's office is one thing, or the hospital, where you have an autoclave or you have a little cookstove, if you remember the doctor's office way back when? Now we're talking pallets of medical devices, be they catheters or syringes or whatever, and how do you sterilize that, and how do you guarantee that they're sterile? And so two or three of us that worked at NASA were more or less coerced into going and working for medical device companies, which I was very pleased to do, and joined a company by the name of Becton Dickinson, which is the largest...

Jones: I've heard of them.

Truby: ...manufacturer. BD, it's BD, Becton Dickenson-- largest manufacturer of syringes. They have about 90% of market share around the world from insulin syringes to 3, 5, 10, 50 milliliter CC syringes. And so--

Jones: Let me ask you something. I have to-- I want-- just out of curiosity. Back in my brain it seems to me I recall-- going back to the plastics, was Corning, who was the one who developed-- there was some kind of thing where it's instantly clean, it doesn't break, it distant do this and in the plastic industry. Was there any one type that was then made available with changes to the mass public?

Truby: No. I remember the company Himont- was a company.

Jones: I think we're out of the [inaudible].

Truby: Yeah, okay.

Jones: Okay. Go ahead.

Truby: The issue was that, you know, it-- and it turns out that Cobalt-60, a radiation, was the cleanest way to go. But the problem with radiation is by, over time, 5, 6, 7, 8 months, it would be affect the plastic; and when in use, would become so brutal it would just...

Jones: Right.

Truby: ...disintegrate in the doctor's hands. So the effort was to provide a preservative for that syringe that, yes, we can sterilize the bugs that are on it but not affect the plastic, and that's what we worked on.

Jones: Okay, interesting.

Truby: Yeah. And from there, I, you know, went on to a couple competitors. And so after 30-some years in medical devices and pharmaceuticals and even a sterilization company, 1998 I decided to exit the corporate community. I had had it. This was about 31, 32 years.

Jones: That was 1999?

Truby: Yeah. '98 is when I quit. We're living in New Jersey at the time, paying $10,500 real estate...

Jones: Taxes (laugh).

Truby: ...taxes. And I said, "Honey, I think we can do this consulting work from- other than here."

Jones: Now, did your wife at this time continue with her nursing?

Truby: No. She stopped. After--

Jones: She did. Okay.

Truby: She, we were in New Jersey. She became-- wanted to do something. Kids were more or less gone so she was asked to come in and be the secretary to the police chief in Mantua Township New Jersey, which she totally loved because it was so interesting (laugh). She'd come home with all these stories.

Jones: I'll bet.

Truby: Anyway, but it wasn't for the money. It was more or less for, just to keep her brain going.

Jones: Yep. Yeah, keeps your brain on.

Truby: Right. We had purchased property in uh. Georgetown, South Carolina at a golf community called Debadou, 2,600 acres right on the ocean, peaked-eye course, tennis-- you know, gated and all that sort of thing. And we go down there and we didn't build anything, we just had the property, but became members of that golf community. And she would keep saying to me, "What are we gonna do here if we retire?" You know where Georgetown is?

Jones: Yes, I do.

Truby: So an hour, 15 minutes north of Charleston. It's a good two hours-- well, uh.. 45 minutes to Myrtle Beach, but what is in Myrtle Beach (laugh)?

Jones: Well, it takes you an hour to get through Myrtle Beach.

Truby: Yeah (laugh). So...

Jones: All looks the same.

Truby: So...she finally convinces me to drop that property, and we started to search again from Virginia on to North Myrtle Beach. And our son, who's an NC State graduate living in Greensboro, said, "Dad. Dad." He's done some work in Wilmington; he says, "Why don't you look at Wilmington? It's got a school, the beach?" So Nancy and I came here, and sure enough there were about 9,000 students at UNCW at the time. Cape Fear was just a little thing on the roadmap, and I saw the historical district. There were the beaches; here are a couple golf communities, and we said, "Wilmington is it." And so we came here in '99, like I said, and lived in apartment while our house was being built up at Porters Neck.

Jones: And you built the house?

Truby: Yeah. And I became immersed. I was consulting, not full-time, but enough that I had time to spare. And I was looking to immerse myself in something. So I got very familiar with the Arboretum on Oleander, found out that they had a Master Gardener Program.

Jones: Had you been interested in gardening before?

Truby: Yeah. Yes, I worked in a flower shop and green houses as a kid a long time. So I was, I had more or less a green thumb. So I said, "You know, we're living here in a climate that is significantly different from...

Jones: Different. Oh, yeah.

Truby: ...New Jersey."

Jones: Oh, yeah.

Truby: So I had said, "Okay. This Master Program is eight weeks long. I'll learn a lot." So in 2001 I graduated from that and continued at the Arboretum as a volunteer-- because you make a commitment of 50 hours a year after that-- and got to meet a lot of people and liked what I was doing. Consulting business started to peak. In fact at two or three of those years I made more as a consultant, maybe half-time to quarter-time, than I was making in the corporate world.

Jones: Oh, my God (laugh).

Truby: So I- I was very successful at the consulting, mostly on FDA regulatory compliance because medical devices are uh.. regulated by the FDA and have to comply with certain things. And the FDA conducts audits, inspections; and if the company falls short, they get warning letters and so on and so forth, and they call someone like me to come in and help them fix what needed to be fixed. But anyway, as time was available, I was asked uh.. by a friend to do the Walk-and-Talk. "Would you be interested in doing the Walk and Talk Tour uh.. out of the Latimer House?" This is part of the Lower Cape Fear Historical Society, and this was probably around 2001 as well.

Jones: So let's see. Who else was doing it then? Rush and Barbara?

Truby: Uh...

Jones: Or they were only here six months out of the year.

Truby: Yeah. No. There was a couple other gentlemen-- this particular gentleman, and his name just flew right over my head, who lived at Porters Neck. And so Nancy and I went down and we did the Walk and Talk Tour.

Jones: Now this was when-- okay. This is what year now?

Truby: Probably 2001.

Jones: Okay. So Kathy Myra [ph?] was there.

Truby: Yes. She was the Director. Yep. Yep. Goes to the Saint Andrews Covenant.

Jones: Right, yeah.

Truby: So he said, you know-- and then a couple weeks after that I said, "Oh, I really, really like- liked that." And he said, "Well, would you be interested in doing it?" I say, "Well, how would I qualify?" He says, "Well, I'll give you my notes and why don't you learn this stuff?" And I did it, and I would take the two-hour walk. I would have my notes, and I just memorized everything. And so I started to do the Wednesday at 10:00; they do it on Wednesday and Saturday. So I volunteered to do that and I-- it was working out pretty well. In winter time it'd be a little bit bleak, so I would drive all the way downtown from Porters Neck, get there and nobody would show up for the tour.

Jones: I know. I know. I remember that.

Truby: So then we started playing the game, "Well, I tell you what, Chuck. You stay at home. If someone shows up for the tour we'll call you. In that 30 minutes that it take you get here, we'll give them a free Latimer House tour," which takes about 30 minutes. Fine. So we tried that for a while, and then it kind of died off. And then eventually I was asked to go on the Board of Directors, which I am on. And now this summer I'm gonna crank up doing the Saturdays with another gentleman that I met. So I'll get back into that.

Jones: The Welcome job?

Truby: Yeah. In the meantime, I go and listen to Janet Seapker give the Oakdale Tour. That was back then, that was back then where she, on I Friday night, would go over to the Bellamy Mansion, the slave quarters-- excuse me, the Carriage House, which is-- slave quarters is still...

Jones: Well, that's okay. They call it the slave quarters.

Truby: Yeah, yeah. There's two- there's two. It was The Carriage House and a slave Quarters. And she gave a lecture to about 15 of us and on Oakdale, the history, the funery [ph?], showed slides of what we would be seeing, and then on Saturday at 10:00 o'clock, took us on a tour. And I was just, just totally impressed. So I went back to Kathy at the- at the Latimer House and I said, "Why doesn't our society sponsor Oakdale Tours, and I'll do it any time?" So they marketed that for about a month (laugh). And I did one tour, and it just wasn't marketed well enough...

Jones: They didn't. They didn't have the money; they didn't know the know-how.

Truby: Right. And so that kind of went away. But then our Homeowner's Association newsletter-- about three years ago, I resurrected the newsletter, and I began to work...

Jones: [inaudible].

Truby: Yeah. I began to do historical articles. Well, I had already started the book by then.

Jones: Three years ago?

Truby: Oh, no. I'd been writing the book for probably five years, and I...

Jones: Was this your decision to do it, Chuck?

Truby: Oh, yeah. This is me. It's all- all me. Yeah, yeah. And finally, last year I went to the Historical Society and said, "Here, I have this manuscript 85% done, and I'd like to donate it to you. I'd like all the royalties, if there are any, to go back to the Historical Society." Well, Chris Fonvielle and the society had a contract for him to publish a book. And sure enough, that was a shock to me because I...

Jones: You didn't know.

Truby: ...I didn't know.

Jones: Oh, gosh.

Truby: So anyway, but, "Oh, don't worry, Chuck, because we'll just wait a while, and when do you think you'll have it done?" And I said, "Probably the spring of 2008 and now Candace McGreevy said, "Why don't we-- why don't we release it in the fall of 2008?" So we're gonna do that with the...

Jones: Now I have to ask you this: There are several histories of the Lower Cape Fear. John, over a period, John...

Truby: Yes, yeah.

Jones: And explain what yours has. Is it just an update?

Truby: No, a very good question. Yeah.

Jones: This is going to come up.

Truby: Yeah, yeah. Well, it's called an "Historical Digest of the Lower Cape Fear for the Newcomer."

Jones: Okay. There's a difference.

Truby: I-- right. And the difference is I'm probably not gonna touch on the history of older buildings that no longer exist. I mean, sometimes you have to cross over older buildings that did exist, but...

Jones: Excuse me, Chuck. Give me that again. The...

Truby: Don't-- I'm not gonna focus on the history of the...

Jones: No. The title of the book.

Truby: Okay. "Historical Digest of the Lower Cape Fear for the Newcomer"...

Jones: Okay.

Truby: ...and it's divided up into the river...

Jones: Yeah.

Truby: ...which brings in Verrazano, okay, Horden, Brunswick.

Jones: Verrazano.

Truby: Verrazano was here at...

Jones: Okay. Okay. Yeah, I got it now. All right, sorry.

Truby: 15- 1520...

Jones: I was thinking Verrazano Bridge (laugh).

Truby: Same guy, same guy. He stopped here on the way to New York.

Jones: Newcomer. Oh, okay.

Truby: 1524, if you wanna write that down.

Jones: No, I'm not gonna do that.

Truby: Then from the river-- and in the river, I talk about Brunswick Town in the con-transformation up to Wilmington because of its location, and I talk about conflicts beginning with the Revolutionary War. I talk about Morris Creek, Washington visit here because that's all in the same pack.

Jones: One little overnight (laugh).

Truby: Yeah.

Jones: Don't you love his notes about this place?

Truby: Yeah. The-- obviously the Civil War. I-- in that conflict section I talk about the 1898 riot in- in pretty much detail. I talk about World War I and World War II and how Wilmington was involved in terms of ship building and that sort of thing. So we leave conflicts and we go to historical structures-- the homes and others-- and I walk through, you know, going back to the 1700s, any structure that exist today.

Jones: There's only one or two.

Truby: There's two from the 1700s-- well, actually three. And then from there I go to religious-- talk about those structures, and I- and I have to talk a little bit about the history of some of the structures that don't exist. But primarily I'm talking about people and the work that they did and how Wilmington evolved. And then the last one is on cemeteries, and I talk-- and notable characters where-- I have an opportunity. If I didn't mention them through a house, like the Kenans, I would mention the Kenan Family when I'm talking about the two houses, that's the Kenans and here.

Jones: And where did you do most of your research?

Truby: At the archives. Some of it here at the archives of the Society, Historical Cape Fear, Lower Cape Fear Historical Society and at the New Hanover Community Library, which has excellent collection. So over time I've collected my own archives, and the book, the manuscript, is essentially done, and now we're seeking how we're gonna get it published for the least amount of money. In the meantime I get involved in MS to go from a Master Gardener to the Arboretum Foundation, and I'm on the Board of the Arboretum Foundation, a Vice President. And our issue there is that probably we aren't a foundation as more and more like friends of the Arboretum. And our issue there is...

Jones: Yeah.

Truby:, how to raise it. And all of the money that both the Master Gardeners raise to the Plant Sale, which is commencing this Thursday-- it goes to April 1-- money goes back into the Arboretum. There's a master plan where we're just upgrading and, not changing it too much, but upgrading it as best we can. We just re-did the pond there. And I learn over time that it's quite a place, but it is the best-kept secret in Wilmington, like so many other spots. And there are so many people that don't know that that is a garden. It's more than a cooperative extension service of NC State; it's a garden. And the weddings--

Jones: People come here to play.

Truby: Yeah, yeah.

Jones: They come here to play.

Truby: Yeah, right.

Jones: But actually, you probably have a wonderful turnout constantly, and they've got the children involved too.

Truby: Oh, yeah. A large 4-H, the Master Gardeners, probably we're talking 500 maybe on the list of volunteers. I can't tell you the hundreds of thousands of hours of volunteer time that goes into that Arboretum, particularly in the Plant Sale. Gutter problems. I did with them with the entire campus. Master Gardeners, the Arboretum staff, and the foundation-- I did a strategic planning session with them, 'cause that's one of my specialties, and, you know, what our strengths, what are our weaknesses, identified all that, what- what are our threats, who are we competing with? And of course we're competing with the--

Jones: Can you share it with us, who you're competing with, what are your threats?

Truby: Well...

Jones: And also could you do us a favor and talk about those plants which are indigenous to this area that thrive,because we do have a different soil, and those that don't?

Truby: Uh-huh.

Jones: The oleander comes to mind. It's a poisonous-type plant.

Truby: Right.

Jones: Some people are allergic to it, and yet it's gorgeous in bloom.

Truby: It's gorgeous in bloom, but the drawback is that once we have a little frost-- and it doesn't take very much, like 28 degrees for a- some period of time-- and you've got brown the rest of the winter. And- and that just takes it away, and then you have to trim it back down. Uh.. azaleas were not indigenous to this area early on and it wasn't until the early 1900s and particularly the uh.. the Pembroke Joneses-- maybe you're related to them...

Jones: No.

Truby: ...or whoever might be and her doing the things with the Airlie Garden, did all the camellias and gardenias begin to come in here from China and Japan. And now it's, we have the Azalea Festival cranked up in 40- 1947. I talk about that in the book too. I talk about the aquarium down there. Where was I going? Oh. The, we found out a lot about ourselves in that we don't document our process for getting something done. So one volunteer leaves and another one comes in and you're asking them to do this job. And they go, "Well, what is the job?" "Well, we wanna get from here to here. You figure out how to do it." So now there's a pathway how to get there. Another volunteer comes in and they create another pathway called...

Jones: May I ask you? Is there a criteria for how you choose your volunteers, or can anybody just come say, "Hey, I'm here. I got a few hours, can I help you?

Truby: Uh... no. There are, there are probably no criteria other than the Master Gardener class, which brings in 30 to 40 new people. They're asked to put these 50 hours in. That's the seed for the volunteer base. Now, I'm 2001 graduate and I'm still going over there last week and preparing for this Plant Sale. So that- that continues; so that's how we've built up this 500 list of individuals that are willing to contribute to the Arboretum Foundation. Then we joined the church Saint Andrews Covenant, after church shopping probably in 2001, got involved in some of their programs. We built a Habitat House last year-- no, the year before now. It's going so fast over there on Myers. That was three, four, five Saturdays working on the Habitat House. We do the Saturday once-a-month Second Helping where we support The Good Shepherd-- go to food lines and pick up food and do that one. And then--

Jones: I bet Shepherd is one of those that has the support of a number of places, and they- they're so huge.

Truby: They are just huge.

Jones: And it is good to see it and there are other too, and I'm...

Truby: Yeah.

Jones: ...hoping that, you know, the others will get, still the Good Shepherd can take a little bit of a break because they're constantly running [inaudible]...

Truby: Right. You've got the church groups and other fundraisers that collect this food...

Jones: Various church groups.

Truby: ...and then they either use it to support their homeless and, not only support, but have meals all day long. But then they dispense that to other kitchens...

Jones: They do.

Truby: ...around.

Jones: They do.

Truby: ...around. So it's quite a program, very, very good then when the Chamber Music Wilmington was at Thalian, we got involved in that-- and I love chamber music-- and tried the Wilmington Symphony and tried North Carolina Symphony, but fell in love with chamber music and started to contribute money there plus subscribe, and uh.. was asked to be on their Board. So I'm on their Board of Directors and slowly that's--

Jones: Tell me about the Wilmington Chamber. Because I know it is, in some ways the Wilmington Symphony is full-board looking for $40 million to build a concert hall, which could be used for everybody. And I think sometimes it gets confusing to the average individual who's doing what, where are the funds, where are the people. Now, the Chamber Music is a smaller group.

Truby: Yes.

Jones: And often they give free performances that I'm aware of. Do they still?

Truby: No.

Jones: No. No. Okay.

Truby: Now, that is changing. For example, at one of the residences up at Porters Neck, for a Board member, wanting to introduce another best-kept secret, some people that had not even heard of Chamber Music Wilmington. So he invited Barbara McKenzie and another performer to come to his home, he already has a piano, large home. They had 50-60 people in that house. He served wine and light hors d'oeuvres, and they performed for an hour and a half. Well, the fall-- and that was free-- and the fallout of that was 8-10 subscriptions to the Chamber of Music because these people had never been exposed. Our fundraising is through subscriptions...

Jones: Okay.

Truby: and that boils down to a $5-saving. So your ticket ends up being $20 for five performances, which is $100 a year. Great. And the other fundraiser is getting sponsors to build the program. So there are- there are advertisements in there and then there are sponsors, there are actual concert and guest-artist sponsors, people that donate $100-$500.

Jones: Where do your guest artists come from?

Truby: All over. Barbara's network of artists extends beyond North Carolina. But her strength is in North Carolina, particularly up at Chapel Hill in Raleigh and Charlotte. But she goes to New York and has friends that are willing to come in here. We pay for airline fare and accommodations, and a reasonable fee for doing the performance. And next year's theme will be on Hayden, and she's putting together quite a-- quite an excellent program. We're called a self-presenting organization as would be the Wilmington Symphony Orchestra. They--

Jones: Right.

Truby: They self-present. We're not like other musical venues that hire someone to come in, and all they do is take care of the logistics. So we are part, Chamber Music Wilmington is part of the artistic part of it in addition to the logistics. And it's hand-to-mouth--

Jones: Sure, sure.

Truby: Just like the operetta. It just gets by, but again it's volunteers like myself and others, and you get the plan done. And I went through a strategic planning session with them-- what our weaknesses and strengths-- and a lot fell out of that.

Jones: Do you find that Chamber Music here in this area? Again, to go back to the fact that so many people, and I have found this in my dealings with my meeting a lot of people from elsewhere that become general. Many of them don't volunteer; many of them do not have a thing. The answer is, "I've worked all my life; I've come to enjoy myself." They don't do anything. But if it's chamber music over, let's say, a symphony over any other type of a quartet or an ensemble, do you find that chamber music kind of takes the backseat?

Truby: It is a niche.

Jones: Yeah.

Truby: And I think the term "chamber music" probably scares a lot of people off.

Jones: They don't know what it is.

Truby: That they don't know what it is, exactly.

Jones: They don't know what it is.

Truby: And that is one of the educational gaps that we have. When we lived in St. Louis and we joined the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra there and went to three O'clock.

Jones: That's pretty good there.

Truby: Yes. And I'm forgetting the Director's name, but he went on to the National Orchestra in Washington D.C. But 3:00 o'clock on Sunday afternoon, at 2:30 they had a 20-minute lecture on what you were about to hear. But that was orchestra. We need that for chamber music too. I think what came out of this strategic planning session-- quality of the performance, intimacy. You don't want 700 people in the audience.

Jones: You can't.

Truby: You want-- and that's why the UNCW Performing Arts Build--

Jones: The new building?

Truby: The new building, we transferred from Thalian because we had been bumping up in capacity, seating capacity. We could in large a little bit over here. Capacity over here is 250, and we are beginning to bump against-- that's even-- but that's fine. From a strategic plan we don't wanna get big.

Jones: But the new theatre is the more intimate.

Truby: Yes. And the acoustics are just outstanding.

Jones: Yeah, wonderful.

Truby: So we're- we're, you know- we've linked up with UNCW in that regard and I hated to leave Thalian because of-- I, you know-- because of its history. And it was intimate too; we were up in the, up, you know, in the upper chamber, in the chambers of the City Council. But anyway, I think we just have to figure out how to let these newcomers know that that exists; and if they were chamber music lovers from wherever they were, they would certainly love our presentation. So that's where we are.

Jones: The things you're involved in are quite diverse and you've never- you were never-- except maybe a brush with hearing chamber music. These things are things you never did before.

Truby: No. No. No.

Jones: All right. The question is, big question: What motivates you? Let's start with your historic curiosity. Now you told me that you and your wife own property in Georgetown, you came here, your son said look at. You did, you looked, you loved, you stayed. But you can stay and do other things. What motivated you?

Truby: Okay. Now I have this swath of time and whatever interests Chuck, and this historical thing, for some reason, it must have been deep down inside here and it was never touched before until- until I got to Wilmington. And I just put-- I can't tell you how many thousands of hours I've put into this book. And so--

Jones: Oh, I can understand how I am somebody who does this.

Truby: It's, it just, it just caught me. On the chamber, in the Arboretum, I wanna contribute from my background-- if it's planning, if it's defining what strategy we should follow.

Jones: Those are givens. You were used to givens and parameters.

Truby: Yes, right. Now, did I volunteer when I was in the work- in the workforce? Absolutely. I was on the Board of Health in Mantua, New Jersey for some, like, five years, became a Chairman of the Board of the Health for the township as far as little league baseball and coaches.

Jones: Oh, yeah.

Truby: And all that sort of thing. Went through, went through all that.

Jones: Good.

Truby: I don't want to play. I had a boat; I had to get this 191/2-foot boat and go out in there and that, they, it became my hobby.

Jones: All year around.

Truby: Yeah. And after a while I look around and said and so I sold the boat. I- I made the decision, you know, and I went on from there. Do we like to walk on the beach? Absolutely.

Jones: Sure.

Truby: So I have this swath of time here that I better- I want to put to good use. And so as I discover things, particularly Oakdale-- in fact the 10th or, yeah, the 10th of April, the walking group up at Porters Neck who walk every other day or whatever it is, said, "Let's do something socially together." And they see my articles and that I'm available for that, so I'm doing an Oakdale Tour for them, about 15 people, and all I said to them was, "All I ask of you is that I'd like you each to make a donation to the Friends of Oakdale"--

Jones: Good.

Truby: And I'll, and I do the same thing for families that have, looks like some guests coming in and they wanna do historical district. Make a contribution to the Lower Cape Fear Historical Society. So I- I'm passing checks to these two organizations through my efforts as a tour guide, which I enjoy. I mean I just totally enjoy it.

Jones: Have you worked for Beverly at all?

Truby: No. Only when Nancy's home-before-dark group-- meaning, they do something once a month, but they're home before dark (laugh). They wanted to do-- let me pick 'em out-- they wanted to do several historical churches downtown.

Jones: Okay.

Truby: So I put together this tour of six churches, St. James...

Jones: The six.

Truby: The six: St. James, First Presbyterian, First Baptist, St. James...

Jones: The Temple.

Truby: ...the Temple of Israel-- and that's where Beverly came in, and she spoke. And then I did St. Mary and I did, but I had someone there...

Jones: Eleanor Price.

Truby: Yes. And then--

Jones: Eleanor Price and I wrote the book for that.

Truby: Oh, no. It wasn't Eleanor. It was a gentleman, a custodial guy. Anyway--

Jones: Oh. Clifton?

Truby: And then I did-- yes, yes, yes.

Jones: Clifton Livewell [ph?].

Truby: And then I did uh...

Jones: He's more than a custodial guy, but yeah.

Truby: Yeah, I know. I know. He put himself up as a custodial--

Jones: This must've been just in the last couple of years.

Truby: Oh, yeah.

Jones: We did-- Eleanor Price and I wrote the history and the book on it because we were, and I wrote the paper to go to the Bishop and the Diocese in Raleigh. St. Mary was built to be a cathedral. It didn't get off the ground so we got to make it a shrine before it can then become a cathedral--

Truby: Right.

Jones: And oh, it did happen.

Truby: Yeah.

Jones: Yeah.

Truby: It did happen.

Jones: Yeah.

Truby: Uh.. and then I did uh.. St. Thomas because that was a predecessor to St. Mary. And so these things come along and I'm glad to them, and I do them. So that's where Beverly came in, and of course I had been interfacing with Beverly putting this book together and asking her for help.

Jones: Yeah, yeah. Of course Ed is, Janet's husband, Ed, Gerber...

Truby: Gerber.

Jones: ...probably is considered the recognized authority on the buildings...

Truby: Right.

Jones: ...and I was very surprised to learn that his degree was not in architecture, as such. He has several of them, and he is quite a man of genius-- speaker.

Truby: Yes, he is.

Jones: Yeah.

Truby: He's very good.

Jones: All right. Based on all this, Chuck, let me ask you just a couple more questions, unless you have something to add. What else do you do? Or is there any time left in your day, you life (laugh)?

Truby: Yeah.

Jones: I mean, taking a look at this...

Truby: Well, I'm-- I wouldn't let the word out on this, but once this book is done, I mean that's gonna- that's gonna create I don't know how many hundreds of hours for me to find something else to do which I will do. I don't know what that is.

Jones: Well, there are a lot of things going on.

Truby: I know.

Jones: And coming along.

Truby: Yeah.

Jones: They're intimate and more the nucleus at this state. Okay, so you're available (laugh).

Truby: No. I didn't mean it-- don't (laugh).

Jones: Didn't mean it that way (laugh). All right. Based on your time here, give us just, in your own opinion, give us just an overview of the changes you've seen take place. We're talking about, what, nine years, 10 years?

Truby: Yeah. I was--

Jones: Good and bad.

Truby: Yeah, okay. And I-- I'll go back and rob a little bit from the UNCW Adult Scholars Leadership program...

Jones: [inaudible]...

Truby: ...and I graduated 2003.

Jones: Okay.

Truby: And I got my degree from College State 'cause I went four Saturdays in November in a row, and I totally enjoy that and really get some insight information. And anytime it points to history-- Fonvielle and speak or if somebody would talk and I would go.

Jones: You just missed a good one here last week Fonvielle and Jones debated each other.

Truby: Yes. Yes.

Jones: That was closed, that was fun. That was fun (laugh).

Truby: I heard about that...

Jones: They're gonna do it again in the fall.

Truby: Oh, they are. Get an invitation?

Jones: It'll be published. I mean, you know...

Truby: Okay.

Jones: Carol Dutton puts it out, yeah, twice.

Truby: Right, right.

Jones: But anyway, so--

Truby: I would-- I think, off the record, the politics here are not keeping up with what the needs are. And I say that 'cause I look at this group of city people and county people, and I see them tripping up all the time and- and not looking out, way out where they should.

Jones: Oh, you mean the visionary?

Truby: Visionary in a sense of what are our needs gonna be. How are we gonna keep up with this? I mean, you would've thought that after 40 came here that some says, "You guys better watch out. This infrastructure is not gonna support what's gonna happen here." But they use- they may look at the interlude to the GI Bill, the visionaries that, including Dr. Hoggard and a couple of the people that said, "We better find us a community college," and they use the Bear School right across from New Hanover High School in the beginning, and this was '47; and then they had the vision to come out here and commandeer all these acres probably in the early 50s was the was a college to go to a four-year school in the minds of somebody that came out here and they commandeered this property, and look at what it is today.

Jones: At first it was Wilmington College for [inaudible]...

Truby: Yes. Right.

Jones: ...and...

Truby: Then in 60 something--

Jones: Oh, '67 it became UNCW.

Truby: Yeah. But it was-- they had the property here and it, you know. That is vision.

Jones: Nobody wanted it.

Truby: Yeah. That was vision and now you look at our roads and our sewers and our- and our water supply and everything else, there was no vision there. I'm totally dismayed at the New Hanover County Sheriff's Department and their contribution to what, I don't know. The relationship that they have with the Wilmington Police Department is probably the worst I've ever visioned it. These are problems I'm identifying.

Jones: It's all right. Go ahead. I asked you; I want your opinion.

Truby: And the overwhelming strength of the developer has to-- because of the weakness of the two political entities that exist are just gonna put us in a very, very bad situation coming to, in far as zoning appropriately and matching travel and the ability to access things is just out of control.

Jones: Do you feel that this is possibly some of it might be due to a strong faction of the older families still have some control in business? Not own a lot; they're losing it all the time...

Truby: Yeah, I don't...

Jones: ...who don't want to see this mass growth for fear of what it's doing, period, and taking what they used to joyously refer to as their sleepy little town away from them. This is modernization; this is forward-thinking, and of course along with it comes a lot of benefits. But the conventions standard has been a bone of contention for how long? Twelve years?

Truby: A long time, since I've been here.

Jones: A flying bridge, which is badly needed, is still up for grabs. Anything new seems to be-- they'll think about it for 10 more years. (laugh) That's too late.

Truby: Yeah.

Jones: Are you for all of these progresses? Are you for, for example, a convention center? Are you for-- let me ask you a question which...

Truby: I'll answer that question.

Jones: Okay.

Truby: You have this group that wants a convention center. You want this musical interest group that wants to create a-- you have the university now wanting to create a convention center, and so--

Jones: [inaudible]...

Truby: How, you know, how, who are getting all these people together? Is SAFO doing that?

Jones: No.

Truby: No. I mean, that and I'm sounding like Obama.

Jones: It's okay.

Truby: (laugh) that's what we need more of, is- is relationship-building, go across the barriers that exist, either imagined or real, and start talking to people and exchanging information that's vital to our community. Do I wanna see all this new stuff come in? No, because I'm here now and I don't want anybody else moving in. I have that attitude and we're all selfish, but--

Jones: I hear that.

Truby: Is this bridge down by--

Jones: The port.

Truby: Yeah-- necessary?

Jones: Yes, and it's--

Truby: I don't have all my facts on that, and I need to study that more. Would that transform our port further south down the road? You know, I don't know, and I'm not sure about the convention center.

Jones: There are a couple of schools who thought on that and I am amazed to see and I'm pleasantly as surprised to see some people who used to be naysayers now saying, "Well..." that old axiom "If you build it, they will come." There is something needed for year-round whatever here, and it's a beautiful location; it's not ruining the skyline. Yes, the university is adding two more colleges, hopefully soon, to the university. They have had a problem with creating space. They've got to do something.

Truby: Right.

Jones: So the property across the street is our sort of designated as a hotel parking deck and an out patch. With growth comes changes and people don't like change easily because they're uprooted and discomforted.

Truby: Right, right.

Jones: But at the same time, we could die.

Truby: We, for example, here is the Arboretum Foundation that has its Garden Show every February. And we were in the convention center and were kicked out of there an hour at shorts. And would, you know, a convention center help a venue like that?

Jones: Sure.

Truby: Absolutely.

Jones: Sure.

Truby: Absolutely. But that's just one little piece. How else are we gonna fill this convention center?

Jones: Well, I spoke to Connie Majure-Rhett, President of the Chamber of Commerce, and she is, goes way back here; her husband goes even further back-- and she said, "We're hurting for space. People want to come here. Think of all our tax money that will be going down our jacket. What happens is people are going to spend the money on a convention because some of them are on an account, they want to be entertained, they want the good weather, they want something historical. There's nothing prettier in the spring or summer than downtown, you know, Wilmington, and there's a venue that even the high school kids-- we now have four high schools, we've got to build another one. They have no place to go for their proms. They have no place to go but here for their graduations. So standard over a two-day period and hopefully it doesn't rain.

Truby: Yeah.

Jones: Just an example.

Truby: Yeah.

Jones: So anyway, but you're thinking about this and you've got your reasons to fairly admit that you don't have all the facts on it. What would you like to see happen here? Someone who's immersed yourself in this history here and who has really become a resident, what would you like to see happen here would be good?

Truby: We-- and I think we're doing a good job of this. We're preserving our history as we move along, and that's what you're doing. I mean that's what- that's what we're involved in right now. But as long as what we have historically is preserved, but then we lose some, the Ice House is an example.

Jones: Yes.

Truby: And you know, that sort of thing, we have to be very tough about and we have to continue that. Is that gonna hurt developers? I don't think so.

Jones: No.

Truby: No I would like to see all those newcomers that are coming into Wilmington be made aware of, somehow, all the opportunities they have to enjoy themselves, if that's all they wanna do, or to contribute. And I don't think we're doing a good job on that at 40,000 feet up, you know. We might be doing some stuff down here in the trenches; but at 40,000 feet, there is no, other than somehow expanding the Adult Scholars Leadership Program because, you know, that's only 30-40 people year, and, you know.

Jones: That has to be done through the newcomers club, which has expanded.

Truby: Right, okay.

Jones: But they don't do that. I wish they could.

Truby: Yeah.

Jones: But they're getting to go back to the universities if the university gets that word out.

Truby: Yeah, yeah.

Jones: Good. I think those are good points. Do you think that, for example, once a year all the museums, parks are free and it's an opportunity for people to get out and maybe for the first time see what's happening.

Truby: It's, it is again going up to 40,000 up and we, whoever that is, if it's the Chamber of Commerce that sponsor or UNCW-- talk to all these different opportunities-- Arlie, Oakdale-- and say, "We're gonna have an awareness day. All these venues are open for you free, the aquarium and the whole thing," and maybe it's over two weekends, maybe it's Saturday and Sunday. And then you say, you know, and you have a map and show what the...

Jones: Sure.

Truby: ... offering is and widely distributed and let's say franchised by the people behind, being people that...

Jones: Sure. I have one last question before we close: What do you personally, if there is such a thing, what would you personally like to accomplish or do that you haven't done, or is there anything at all? You've done a lot.

Truby: No. Just get this book published. I would really like to get the book published, and I would like to market it in a way that the newcomer is totally interested in it, and by golly, some- some funds are raised for the Historical Society. I, I'd like that to be done right. And I'm starting to work with Candace on that. At one point, three years ago I was thinking about New Hanover County Commissioners. And the more I watched and the more I says, "Don't go there. You'll be so frustrated."

Jones: No. They're not in that business and it takes forever. Chuck, thank you so much for coming to visit us.

Truby: You're very welcome. Hope this was helpful.

Jones: And it's been interesting, and I have to congratulate you for dotting in and doing some things some people never even attempt. It's, obviously you enjoy it.

Truby: Yes, I do, and thank you.

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