BROWSE BY:     Title Number Subject Creator Digital Content

Interview with Patsy Langley Cape, July 5, 2001 | UNCW Archives and Special Collections Online Database

pdf icon Get PDF Version
Title:
Interview with Patsy Langley Cape, July 5, 2001
Date:
July 5, 2001
Description:
This is an interview of Patsy Cape, interviewed by Jack Robinson, at the Jacksonville USO Club, Jacksonville, North Carolina.
Phys. Desc:

Interviewee: Cape, Patsy Langley Interviewer: Robinson, Jack Date of Interview: 7/5/2001 Series: Military Length 71 minutes

(The tape begins here)

Cape: Several of the girls would come with me that were our local girls here and just come over and have a good time.

Robinson: The Pine Lodge?

Cape: The Pine Lodge was across the street. It was a log building, a log cabin type building, a recreation center. It had a big porch all the way around with chairs sitting out on the porch.

Robinson: So what year did you start coming to Jacksonville yourself?

Cape: Let’s see now, you made me think, how old was I? In ’49 or ’50, probably ’50, I started coming over here to the dances and this room would be full. Young men standing three or four deep all the way around cause it was marked off almost like a basketball court. There was a line and there were plenty of chairs for all of us to sit and we would wait for the music to start and we would dance.

Now the guy that played the music was a one man band. He had his records and he had his drum set so he would play the drums to whatever was playing and so we would dance, you know.

Interviewer: Do you remember his name?

Cape: I do not. Maybe Mrs. Cumin____ will if I get to talk with her. I thought maybe if I talked with her, she might be willing to …

Interviewer: Now when you say it was three males deep, where were the females at?

Cape: We were usually sitting in the chairs and then the guys, you know, would come over and ask us to dance. We were usually sitting there and we would do whatever kind of dance there was that he was playing, you know, slow dance, fast dance. The jitterbug was going out in the 50’s so we didn't do much of that. I never did learn how to do the shag, but I did learn to samba, did learn to rumba. I learned the meringue.

Interviewer: They were very popular dances back then?

Cape: Well the meringue was popular with the young guys from Puerto Rico. There was a whole bunch that came in from Puerto Rico that spoke only Spanish, very little English and I learned to dance some of those dances. The rumba and the mambo were already popular and the samba was, you know, not too popular. The guy that would play would play a lot of the rumba music and we enjoyed that. Most of the gals could rumba.

Interviewer: Wow, sounds like you had a lot of fun.

Cape: Oh indeed, indeed.

Interviewer: Now let’s talk about the room itself. At one time, it was an open ceiling, do you remember that? This is a drop ceiling.

Cape: Well the ceiling was high like this, but I don’t remember it looking much different, but I’m sure it must have been. Maybe they had drop lights.

Interviewer: What about the floor? Was it always tile?

Cape: No, it was wood floors.

Interviewer: Wooden floors? Did it have any kind of designs or anything?

Cape: No, it was just a wood floor and it looked like a basketball court cause there was a line all the way around so everybody, we would, everybody would stay behind that line unless you were dancing. One guy was dancing, we were doing a slow dance and I had on a new light blue cashmere sweater. You know, they would grease wood floors back then to keep them shiny and I guess to keep the dust from accumulating. He did me the dip, well you don’t know anything about the dip, but he dipped me down and dropped me. How embarrassing (laughter). But we did have a wonderful time.

Interviewer: Now was there much change in people coming here from the 50’s and the 60’s? Were you here at all in the 60’s?

Cape: No, I was already married with children in the 60’s so I didn't, I didn’t come up here.

Interviewer: Okay, did you see a change though while you were here in attendance or people?

Cape: No, no, it was always full for the three or four years that I came here. It was always full, you know, for dancing and then they did bring in girls from Wilmington and I’m not sure if they brought girls in from New Bern, that’s a possibility. But they did bring them in for the guys to have somebody to dance with. It was very popular you know, Friday night, boy.

Interviewer: I was about to ask you, if you don’t mind me asking you, is what’s your most smiley memory of dancing or the auditorium, you know, most exciting event or funniest event?

Cape: Well just the chance to dance cause I loved to dance and I could follow most anybody no matter where they were from because you had people from Philadelphia and New York and Boston and California and all. So there was a lot of different style dancing, but I could follow most anybody. I prided myself on that, you know. Cause I watched feet a lot, but it was all a lot of fun here. We were, we were chaperoned. We enjoyed being in here. Went out and got us a hotdog.

Interviewer: How did the chaperone and the hostesses cause were you not a hostess?

Cape: I was a hostess, right. Well the lady, Mrs. Moran was I guess the director when I started coming over here. Now the lady that loaned me her skates was an older woman and I don’t remember her name, but Mrs. Moran called me the general because I would always fill up my car for any of the girls over here. We’d outgrown Pine Lodge now, you know, so we came up here to dance.

Interviewer: Outstanding. Was there any problems like fights or was it pretty much controlled?

Cape: Not that I ever knew of.

Interviewer: They didn't have bouncers did they? Were there bouncers? Just the shore patrol and the chaperones?

Cape: No, no. And I never saw an MP or a shore patrol or whatever in here at all, never. So everybody was well-behaved and mind their manners and that type of thing.

Interviewer: Can you simply describe what it looked like back in the 50’s? The lounge, or the bar? Or the lounge?

Cape: Okay, well the lounge looks very much like it did back then except there were only sofas in here, sofas and chairs for the guys to sit at. The fireplace is the same as it was except it’s painted. The snack bar, they served delicious hotdogs. The hotdogs were mustard and onions and pickle relish which I’d never tried, but it was so good.

Interviewer: How much was a hotdog back then?

Cape: Oh gosh, I don’t even remember, 10 or 15 cents, a very small amount I believe. But we enjoyed the snack bar and the lady that I think did most of the cooking or all of the cooking, I can’t remember her name, but she was always very pleasant, didn't smile a whole lot, but she was you know, kind.

Interviewer: Now were there a lot of hostesses behind the bar, the snack bar?

Cape: The hostesses didn't ever work behind the bar that I know of. I mean if they asked me, I would have said no cause I got to go dance.

Interviewer: So the hostesses, the junior hostesses out, stayed out here and just talked with the marines, servicemen?

Cape: Mostly dancing. Most of us stayed in there unless we came out for a hotdog or a drink out here, but we didn't sit out here a lot cause that was sort of boring. We wanted to be in there where the music was.

Interviewer: We came across some photographs of the pillars. They had mirrors on them.

Cape: I don’t remember that.

Interviewer: I think we have some photographs in there. Again some of the photographs we have, they’re either Wilmington USO or this USO.

ANOTHER PERSON: They had mirrors on all those posts, all four of them.

Cape: I don’t remember that. That was before my time or after my time that you put mirrors up.

Interviewer: What time frame was that? So we can…

2ND PERSON: When I came, I came here in ’72 and they were on the posts then.

Cape: Well that was a long time from my 50’s (laughter).

Interviewer: Okay, what about the furniture? Did you have tables here?

Cape: Tables were in here, right, and then there were sofas and chairs over there and the posts were there and the phone booths, the bathroom, but I’m sure the bathroom where we were, the ladies bathroom is where that’s covered up now and the men’s was over here, but now that’s been changed.

Interviewer: Now was the furniture, the tables and chairs, is this similar to the ones you had?

Cape: No, they were square tables and dark chairs. You know, back then everything was set, square tables, chairs that matched, etc.

Interviewer: Okay. Now again, similar to the auditorium, the ceiling and the floor, do you remember the colors or what the ceiling looked like?

Cape: I was thinking it was mostly light colored, cream or white, I don’t remember it being blue. I feel definitely it was not blue.

Interviewer: Was it carpeted or tile?

Cape: Tile in here and then wood floor in there.

Interviewer: Any memories you want to talk about from the snack bar?

Cape: Other than good hamburgers, hotdogs, yes, the hotdogs were delicious. I think people back then even brought cakes, you know, down for the USO.

2nd PERSON: Don’t forget the milkshakes.

Cape: I never drank milkshakes cause I didn't like them (laughter).

2nd PERSON: A milkshake and a hamburger were 30 cents. Back by the stoves we had a grill. Great big long grill, five or six feet long.

Interviewer: What about in the 60’s I think, the peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

2nd PERSON: Yeah, that we had a lot of too.

Cape: I never ate that. In fact I never ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich until I was probably in my 20’s (laughter).

Interviewer: Jerry, is it okay to film you? Is it was okay to film you?

2ND PERSON (Jerry): Sure. I was in part of the family too.

Interviewer: There’s newspaper articles about how peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, a lot of businesses were complaining because the USO was serving peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to the Marines and they came here instead of eating out in town. Now what about this milkshakes. What’s the story behind the milkshakes? I’ve read newspaper articles on your milkshakes.

JERRY: Well the milkshakes, back then we had a milkshake machine. I could show you one of the milkshake machines. You could make about five or six at a time.

Cape: No, I didn't notice cause I didn't drink the milkshakes.

JERRY: It’ll take about two minutes, do you want to see one of them?

Interviewer: Yeah, yeah. While you’re doing that, we’ll talk about these…were they chili hotdogs or just plain old ordinary hotdogs?

Cape: No chili, but it was hotdog with mustard and onions and pickle relish, sweet pickle relish was put on our hotdogs. I mean the pickle relish was sitting up here on the counter and you could put it on there.

JERRY: Back then they didn't have no chili.

Cape: That’s right (laughter). Nothing new and fancy, just plain old…

Interviewer: You mentioned that bell is right behind you right now. So you think it’s been here for a while?

Cape: I think so, but now that could be because I’ve been here, you know, different times with the USO with the homemakers bringing cakes to serve, but that seems mighty familiar, but it might not be.

Interviewer: Now what about this cake serving you’re referring to? What’s the tradition behind that?

Cape: Okay, the homemakers, which are local ladies, would rotate each group of ladies, each club would on a Sunday of the month would bring down cakes and if there was too many, they would go and freeze them in the freezer and then take them out later when the need was. But these ladies would bring all kinds of cakes, chocolate, plain and lemon, pecan, every kind because they wanted to do this for the young men.

Interviewer: And the servicemen came down and they knew about it and you had a lot of big crowds and everything?

Cape: On Sundays, oh yes.

Interviewer: Was it just cakes?

Cape: There might have been cupcakes, but it was usually just cakes, brownies. But that was just for their refreshments, you know.

Interviewer: Now one more thing I want to talk about here which is no longer here and is very important for the history of this USO is the telephone office here. They actually had telephone operators here?

Cape: Yes, they had telephone operators. One of the ladies lived at our house. She was older than me. She roomed at our house and she worked down here in this room on the end and they would have the…the young men would go into a pay phone booth and place their call and then whenever they got through with their call, they’d go to the ladies there and pay for them. In fact, my friend is still living that was a telephone operator and we would get the names of everybody that was a telephone operator that worked as an assistant here, if you need that information.

Interviewer: Wow, that’s fantastic. What was the phone cost of the phones back then?

Cape: Oh goodness, I don’t remember. When I was a telephone operator one time for just a short while, I don’t remember the rates, but it was for sure Carolina Telephone Company, a little company, but the big dogs, big men would come down from Tarbourough to check the amount of calls that we were putting through. It was like the switchboard died. I think everybody left town because that was the time they were going to check, you know, how many calls, oh we were making at one time (laughter).

Interviewer: And Jerry you’re saying this was the old-fashioned ice cream…

JERRY: Yes.

Cape: That’s like the drug store.

Interviewer: Let me zoom in on this real fast. What’s the story behind this again? It ran one, two, three, four, five at one time?

JERRY: At one time.

Interviewer: And you’re the duty expert?

JERRY: And we had about two of those. Back then, the troops came in on those buses? Sometimes about two or three of men, they’d be lining up here waiting on milkshakes and hamburgers.

Interviewer: Now you’re talking the 70’s now.

JERRY: Yeah.

Interviewer: Now we’ve got quite a few photographs of the servicemen lined up at the bar continuously. I think it’s fantastic for milkshakes and hotdogs and hamburgers.

JERRY: Back then too we had 12 pool tables out there and all the Marines would come in and play pool, buy their milkshakes, hamburgers, and then we had a soda machine, we had soda machines too.

Interviewer: Now I think milkshakes, now I think are a dollar and a half, or a dollar now, what were they back then?

JERRY: About 50 cents, 75 cents or something like that.

Interviewer: So it hasn’t changed a great deal in 25 years plus, outstanding.

Cape: Do you want me to put on the gloves?

Robinson: Okay, that’s outstanding. We’re going to start with the big ones first and all I want you to do, if you want to put on the gloves it will be fine. Now if you come across a photograph that you do see, do recognize, just talk about it. This is the peanut butter story.

Cape: It’s really pouring out there. Let’s see, of course I don’t remember that. That’s her, that’s here, this is here, this is the lady I’m telling you about with the little hair, with the little bun in the back. She has her hair platted there. See this marbley look, looks like a regular old counter. This is the lady that took care of the snack counter, snack bar. I don’t remember her having help. I’m sure she must have. In the background here, we see sandwiches that are made up. There’s a local lady in the area that made up sandwiches, peanut butter, ham and cheese and so on and so forth. I don’t see the pickle jar. I don’t see the price tags.

Robinson: She was here for many years?

Cape: Oh yes. Okay, let’s see, Mrs. Hambie, Mrs. Hambie served behind the snack bar, notice, I see 15 cents, ready made sandwiches were 15 cents. He said milkshakes were 75, 50 cents, 75 cents, I think they may have been a little less than that.

Interviewer: Well you know he’s talking the 70’s too, not the 50’s. There was a marble style.

Cape: Marble whatever, let’s see, you had the one, okay this is the telephone operators. Yes, this is Jacksonville right here. Okay, excuse me, she’s still living, she was the supervisor. She’s still living, I don’t know the others (pointing to photographs).

Interviewer: Do you know how long, was it in operation, in operation in the 40’s or just the 50’s?

Cape: It was a racial file of maybe three years because it didn’t seem to be advantageous I guess. She is, what is her name, Mary Roller, and very likely she was the supervisor there. I don’t know the other ladies, but I knew this lady’s face, but I don’t know her name. Polyester suit, man oh man. Now this is Mary, see Simpson? Whats her first name? I was looking through my mother’s papers. We were trying to organize her clippings out of the newspaper and there was an article in there about this lady. She was an artist. She taught art here.

Interviewer: I believe this lady here, they had a contest to bring a mother to visit her son.

Cape: Oh really, yes cause I was thinking about that. That is wonderful, but this is Mrs. Simpson. Mary doesn’t seem just right, but it’s Mrs. Simpson anyway. This is the same one. That’s her, see who’s that lady back there, that’s her sister back there, Mary and her sister (laughter). See okay, Betty Jean Griffin. See I can’t find this picture of mine.

Interviewer: See what I can do, I’ll do this, either or, what I can do is get this processed and get a copy made and then we’ll just take it from there.

Cape: Okay, this is the lady, Mrs. Langly, I didn’t realize that was her last name, Mrs. Langly, but her daughter was a telephone operator too cause I worked with her. Betty Jean Griffin and Patsy Langly. Don’t know the guy. What kind of drinks are we drinking? That’s orange crush, that’s an orange crush I think.

Interviewer: Okay, is this ’55, ’54?

Cape: Oh it has to be later, I graduated from high school in ’54 and went off to college in ’55 so this all has to be ’50, ’51, ’52 or ’53. Just a short time there. This looks more like when I was driving so I was 16. I was born in ’35, here I am again ’51, ’51.

Interviewer: This is the table and the furniture?

Cape: Yes, square, regular, I can’t remember if the seats were round or not. Don’t know who these guys were, but that’s me and this is my friend, Faye Katz. This is my best friend in high school. She had to put her…I had to put my USO band on the right arm because we were facing the camera.

Interviewer: This is the furniture? This furniture here. This is the lounge? The library I mean, the furniture used.

Cape: Yeah, but that was the furniture here. That’s a round table, yeah, it looks like a round table. I don’t remember.

Interviewer: It’s a round table and it looks like a metal top or metal frame and then nice heavy duty wood chairs.

Cape: Yes they are.

Interviewer: I don’t know if this is a 40’s photograph or what and I’m going with the official pictures here, obviously its not you because you’re not making a comment, but the tables don’t look the same.

Cape: Yes, this is not Jacksonville, but this almost looks like a private home because …

Interviewer: Well on the back it says “This is the party they threw for me” by Alice.

Cape: Oh okay, well that’s not us. That’s not us, this USO. This is not Jacksonville. That’s not Jacksonville, now that’s not Jacksonville, that building, I’m just judging by that window out front here and its nothing like that. I have a picture of Pine Lodge in case you want to see it sometime.

Interviewer: Well here are pictures of Pine Lodge here, but we’ve got no inside pictures.

Cape: Well the one inside picture I have, I can’t find and I’ve called Mr. Potts at the museum. And…

Interviewer: Now this is a beauty contest, Jacksonville USO beauty contest, must be the mid-50’s or late 50’s because of the uniforms. Marines wore the collar emblem on their uniforms so that’s how we knew it was the late 50’s or early 60’s. But again…

Cape: This looks like Mr. Lloyd’s house over on Marley Street. Okay, this is here. I feel like…let me see…this looks like here, but you said the other USO’s are set up the same way.

Interviewer: This is Jacksonville USO. See what I had learned to do is look at the clothing or the hair style.

Cape: That’s a 70’s picture, isn’t it?

Interviewer: I believe it’s a 70’s picture and also just looking at the calendar.

Cape: That’s Mayor Bruce Teachey. She is home away from home. Mayor Bruce Teachey.

Interviewer: By the birthdays, this is 1976, is this the couches?

Cape: Well now I don’t remember them looking like this, but there were couches here. I’m trying to see if I see anybody here that I might recognize. Let’s see, I don’t remember those. This looks like too small a room for out there.

Interviewer: I don’t know if it’s the auditorium because there’s pool tables in there. It just says birthday, we can’t really tell the difference. Most likely it’s the 60’s because the Marines don’t have that collar emblem no more, but again the furniture, I don’t know the age of the furniture. It’s one of those right in the middle questions. Now this gentleman with the sweater, that’s the late 50’s. Is this the way the bar looked like, do you remember?

Cape: Well see I never looked at it from that angle. My father had a grocery store here so that looks a very familiar style. The curtains there, this has to be the same…yes, this is Jacksonville. Don’t know that one. This looks like it might be Jacksonville again.

Interviewer: The telephone booths. Were there ever lines at the telephone booths to get through?

Cape: I don’t remember cause I probably didn't hang around watching that. I was in there dancing. Gosh. I’m assuming that’s Jacksonville. Oh Pine Lodge. Ahh.

Interviewer: Now what kind of stories can you tell us about Pine Lodge?

Cape: Okay, well this was the local meeting place for us civilians, you know. And uh, that’s the front door. That faced the water.

Interviewer: This was across … was…

Cape: This is the side, this was side, the front with a double door and it faced the water and there was a porch. See chairs and some benches. Seems like there were always some rocking chairs or something. But then they tore it down because they said it was moths, not moths, termites. I see the machine is pushing it down, oh that’s terrible.

Interviewer: We had no interior shots of the Pine Lodge.

Cape: Well I have one, but I can’t find it, but I have a Xerox copy of that one because I’d numbered everybody in it because I can name a good portion of them and my brother was in it so he could name the other portion. But I can’t find it.

Interviewer: This is from the 40’s during the war, there’s about five photographs and this is just one. The reason why I pulled this out is because it’s in the Federal Recreation Building. Was USO Jacksonville ever called the Federal Recreation Building?

Cape: Not that I know of. To me, it was just the USO, but double front doors, but that window back there, if you went outside and if there was something there, maybe you could determine. Of course that one is the local people. This is Mr. Ellis.

Interviewer: Now when did they start using this Café de Paris? There’s quite a few photographs. Must be…

Cape: In the USO?

Interviewer: In the USO, on the wall…now again we don’t know if that’s a local dance or …

Cape: I don’t remember drums being on the floor at all. I don’t know that I ever saw a sailor in a sailor uniform here.

Interviewer: Oh really.

Cape: I don’t remember ever seeing one and my son was in the Navy and I said oh bell bottoms…Now this does not look like the USO here. I don’t recognize any of these ladies.

Interviewer: Because I was going to ask you about the counter around here. My understanding, our operator had it run going up to the door. This one here seems to be a counter.

Cape: Well it was in that room. There was a counter there, you know, the one we saw. There is a counter there, but I don’t recognize any of these ladies in this one. That’s Margaret, she used to live in our house.

Interviewer: So that is Jacksonville?

Cape: Let me see, this is right there and it’s identical….this girl I believe her name is Margaret and she roomed at our house when I was about 12. This lady, Grace Thaxton who worked here could name these people for you.

Interviewer: This is from the segregated USO, from the 50’s.

Cape: But you don’t know if it’s Jacksonville?

Interviewer: No, we don’t know if it’s Jacksonville. Interesting is that there is a white gentleman back here.

Cape: Yeah, I saw that. Here’s a black guy playing the base fiddle, base something, cello, small…

Interviewer: Now this is interesting for us. When we first saw this picture, we thought this Marine was dedicated drinking a beer.

Cape: It’s an RC Cola.

Interviewer: It’s an RC Cola and you pointed out there’s this marble panel on the bar. This is an early photograph of the Jacksonville USO.

Cape: See that partition, I didn't remember that place right in there, but I probably wasn’t very observant anyway. I just was there to dance and that was it. I’d say that was the Brown guy, the old actor, but it’s not of course.

Interviewer: Now this is an interesting photograph. We don’t know which USO it is. We don’t remember this counter in any other photograph, this counter with a storage room.

Cape: It’s got a, it looks like it has a door too that closes. What’s stacked up there?

Interviewer: Pencils, 303 pencils, cause we thought it was that storage room right there or the one behind the counter, but there’s no other photographs., no other photographs. We thought maybe it was Dutch doors or something at one time. There’s no other photographs that we’ve come across yet identifying it as Jacksonville. That’s religious pamphlets. Now this is the auditorium, the wood floor, of Jacksonville, the late 50’s or early 60’s.

Cape: It had to be after ’56, ’55.

Interviewer: There’s some ’58 photos, ’58 photos.

Cape: This is Mrs. Simpson again and her sister back there. Now I didn't come when there was anybody on stage like that.

Interviewer: We don’t understand where this photograph is located at. We thought, we numerous people have looked at it, notice how there’s a side panel here and all this brick. This is all wallpaper also. See the broken brick, broken brick down here, but there’s nothing describing who they are. We don’t know if it’s the Jacksonville USO or the Wilmington USO, looks like a set of double Dutch doors there. French doors, excuse me.

Cape: That door with that kind of paneling opening, I don’t believe it is. But one of the ladies I pointed out serving cakes, this looks like her right here and I was trying to see if there was anybody else I recognize.

Interviewer: Cause this photograph right here is Jacksonville walls. We don’t know if this is downstairs, the staircase with the wall up, or if this is just a stock photograph. It doesn’t look like Jacksonville USO.

Cape: I’ve never been downstairs so I don’t even know that. This does not look like Jacksonville either.

Interviewer: Well here, I think this photo is downstairs, but I don’t recognize the couches or the furniture or what room it’s in.

Cape: Are there bars on the windows there? Is that…?

Interviewer: I don’t know if that’s bars on the windows or another building.

Cape: There’s your scene again. Now the wood floors…okay now the wood floors, this is the main auditorium because I was thinking, I remember this being tile, not wood in here.

Interviewer: Do you remember the record albums on the walls?

Cape: No.

Interviewer: Indoors, this is Jacksonville’s auditorium. This one here I think is 1960, 1960, but again they took LP album covers and put them on the walls.

Cape: How about that, that was neat. There’s that country western guy up there getting into it. Gosh I haven’t thought about it. That, then that is in the USO, remember I said a while ago I didn’t remember those, but evidently they were on the walls.

Interviewer: This looks like the lobby of Jacksonville USO.

Cape: Yes it does, yes, sure does.

Interviewer: I was going through it, this looks like hand-painted designs on these columns. Remember I said before, they had mirrors on them, but they look as if they’re painted with floral painting. Somebody painted flowers on them.

Cape: See, this wood furniture, I didn't remember how this looked. But see the square tables and chairs are there.

Interviewer: And the floor was tile you said?

Cape: Yes.

Interviewer: The old black speckled tiles?

Cape: I don’t remember the color. I remember the library, guys used to come in here for quiet and to write letters.

Interviewer: Was it used a great deal? Were there a lot of Marines and servicemen writing letters?

Cape: I remember just glancing in here cause I never came in here, but there were people in here, that’s about it. I don’t know where that is. H.L. Shaw.

Interviewer: I don’t know if that’s a local photographer or not.

Cape: Doesn’t sound familiar, Shaw. Is that the snack bar or a reflection of the snack bar?

Interviewer: I think it’s a reflection, but there’s murals on, the pictures, pictures on the walls so that is Jacksonville. Some time they had these juke boxes in here.

Cape: Oh really? Now that’s mirrors, look.

Interviewer: Right, the mirrors, so now we’re talking ’72 or ’73 time frame.

Cape: Oh now that’s a Shaw, so this has to be, so then both of these have to be Jacksonville.

Interviewer: There’s three or four different groups of photographs from photographers again. This is ping pong, pool tables in the auditorium.

Cape: And there’s the snack bar cause you’re up on the stage looking back I guess.

Interviewer: Right, so here’s the snack bar and here’s the telephones in the lobby.

Cape: Yup, see it was a light color that I can remember.

Interviewer: And this is most likely the late 70’s.

Cape: What is that, sandwiches?

Interviewer: Yeah, vending machines.

Cape: I can’t tell what’s in there, but anyway, the telephone operators, mirrors, and…

Interviewer: And juke boxes again, probably 70’s photos.

Cape: That’s Shaw. This is the way it looked, when you walk in, it was covered in there, guys everywhere. They were sitting and some were standing and some were at the snack bar. It was full and oh that was so exciting (laughter).

Interviewer: Now was that continuous every single day or just the weekends?

Cape: See I only came on the weekends, the band’s night you know. That girl looks familiar. She does. She looks like one of the girls I went to school with. Now what is that?

Interviewer: I think it’s a military division.

Cape: Reminds me of something in the Air Force or Army, just the symbol.

Interviewer: It’s pretty much the same thing, the furniture, the tiles, again the year, the date now is with mirror or without mirror, so that’s pre-1970 USO. Now that’s Vietnam so we’re talking the 60’s. Do you know the story behind this?

Cape: No, I’ve never seen this before.

Interviewer: There are quite a few newspaper articles, made an honorary Marine for some reason. There are quite a few photographs on him.

Cape: Terry Blalock. Blalock is a local name. Have you looked in the telephone directory to see, she was in another picture earlier… Nothing, no information, okay this is the scene from the café and all that.

Interviewer: That’s a buffet of some kind in the auditorium, not the lounge.

Cape: It looks like Spanish food or something. We had a nice time. My friend and I went to eat at CiCi’s yesterday, pizza place, over by Target. It’s cheap, $3.59, all the pizza you can eat, dessert and your drink is about $1.50 though, I always get sweet tea. There was a group of Spanish people who sat next, behind us. They got four tables together and you know they were just chattering away. Oh it was so exciting cause it was children and the mother and dads were young people and they just had the best time.

Interviewer: Were there a lot of children coming to the USO?

Cape: No well, not at night whenever I came. Families were welcome to come in and I guess rest here and find something, find a place to rest a minute.

Interviewer: I understand they had church services here.

Cape: They probably did. I don’t remember cause I go to First Baptist which is right up there. Here’s another picture, but I don’t remember seeing many people. I did later in years when I came as a, as a … what was I then…a homemaker. Homemaker, oh gosh.

Interviewer: And this is what they did.

Cape: Yes! That’s exactly right. See, brownies and all kinds of cakes and…

Interviewer: And this is every Sunday?

Cape: No, once a month. Because homemakers did it once a month, because the officers’ wives did it once a month, probably some other groups.

Interviewer: Okay, so each Sunday, there was a different group. We have about four or five photographs of these two people here throughout the Jacksonville USO. Apparently what they did one day they took this couple (laughter) ….What we’re doing is we’re going to identify them first and then we’re going to scan them and preserve them. What we’re, each one of these will have a piece of paper, archive, acid proof piece of paper in between them and then each one, most likely will be ten per folder. Right now, we’re breaking them down in decades as best we can.

Cape: I don’t think this is the Jacksonville USO here. I don’t remember anything like this don’t seem familiar. Here’s the old fireplace, but those ladies are not familiar to me.

Interviewer: Well some of the photographs as I stated, are either stock or they were other women’s wives organizations. I believe that’s Mr. Ellis’ wife.

Cape: Who is Mr. Ellis, Mr. Ellis, Mr. Ellis… I’m trying to visualize his family. I do not remember Mr. Ellis’ wife. She worked at the telephone company. Oh, she’s retired from the telephone company. Her name is Benzina Beddard. But I wonder if this is the black USO.

Interviewer: This one? It says Jacksonville USO.

Cape: Do you suppose? Okay, but wouldn’t the other one say Jacksonville USO?

Interviewer: No, the black USO was segregated, it was called…it wasn’t called Jacksonville USO, so this is obviously either the 60’s or the 70’s. Mr. Kim painted this portrait. While I had to, while you brought it up I’ll make a note of it. What it is is Mr. Kim painted a portrait and what I have to do is go back and retrace when he painted it. But most likely, it will be in the late 60’s.

Cape: She’s retired from the telephone company. When is I started working, okay 1980, how about that. She was the maid in the telephone company. You wouldn’t say maid, what would you say? Housekeeper. Just looking at that, the third one, the third picture.

Interviewer: The third picture, that’s Mayor Wade at the Wilmington’s USO on Front Street. The third frame, that’s the Jacksonville picture. It says since December 1941. The portrait was most likely taken in 1960, 1970. The next one, the fourth frame, that’s Mayor Wade from Wilmington and that’s the Wilmington USO on Front Street. The small frame right next to it is the outside portrait of the Wilmington USO on Front Street. What I’m referring to, I research is the Wilmington USO on 2nd and Orange Street which there aren’t too many photographs on. That’s what I’m researching on, not Wilmington Front Street.

Cape: Are you finding anybody that knows anything?

Interviewer: Very few people. It’s the one on 2nd and Orange Street. Wilmington had 15 USO’s.

Cape: A black USO too?

Interviewer: They had a black USO, segregated USO.

Cape: Just one?

Interviewer: One. Now I’m going by the fireplace, again see the Wilmington USO on 2nd and Orange Street is a twin to this building. They were both built at the same time. See what the difficulty is now?

Cape: But I don’t think this is Jacksonville. That’s just, I don’t think. Oh my goodness, they’re eating you know, those subs. You know those subs. You know how they made those longer subs. Now isn’t she pretty? Now this looks like this USO only because people are standing in line. That’s the cake table. There’s the phone booths. The fireplace is here.

Interviewer: And there’s the walls, the walls are one color, light, with a tongue and groove ceiling.

Cape: I don’t believe that’s tongue and groove, it might be, but I can’t remember it being tongue and groove ceiling, gosh.

Interviewer: What’s interesting about that photograph is the literally buckets of it looks like mashed potatoes or rice.

Cape: You’re right, it must be mashed potatoes.

Interviewer: When you had your services here or your banquets here, did you serve like that?

Cape: No, the only time, like I said I’d only been down here for food was with the cakes. I’m sure there were other things going on, but I never participated in those.

Interviewer: That looks like a pre-1950 photograph.

Cape: Oh yes, it looks 40’s. You’d think if people could see this picture they would…now that confuses me, that other picture, there, and there.

Interviewer: Well, consider the construction. The renovation of this building interior, it’s modified a little bit. The telephone room was divided into two separate offices now.

Cape: I can’t remember it even being that big if course it wasn’t doubled.

Interviewer: What we need to do now is we’ll cross reference the other people in these photographs and find out about that vent because that vent. That’s how we distinguish the USO, by these particular things.

Cape: But I don’t remember this kind of table either, but now that doesn’t mean a thing, don’t mean a thing. Let’s see here, this is at the snack bar. Look like the mirrors are on the columns and there’s vents too. Is that Navy?

Interviewer: Now you said there were not too many Navy personnel here.

Cape: Not, they didn't wear their uniforms in here.

Interviewer: What’s interesting about this photograph is one television. Do you remember how many televisions they had here?

Cape: No, they didn't have any that I remember, in ’50, ’51, ’52, no, don’t remember ever seeing a television here.

Interviewer: I have one small stack here I use a magnifying glass and these here are the most interesting because when you start to talk about personal snapshots, it could be almost anywhere by anyone.

Cape: Okay, this lady is Mrs. Hemby. So I know that’s the Jacksonville.

Interviewer: What’s interesting about this photograph, and it says 1958, is says Mary Ann Stegner, Sternger, assistant director. This says 1958 and some black gentleman in the background, it must be right on the verge of segregation of USO’s.

Cape: Could be, read the rest of it.

Interviewer: It says “Mary Ann Stegner, Assistant Director, Farewell Party, March 1958. S-T-E-G, Stegner.

Cape: That’s not the Mrs. Stegner that I know, okay. So that’s not the right name.

Interviewer: Telephone booth again. I think what it is if you look really close, that gentleman there appeared to be this gentleman …. See the date? The Navy personnel very seldom wore their uniforms here.

Cape: So this would not happen here, most likely not happen here. So you know, like Wilmington, would frequent a place like Wilmington more so.

Interviewer: Again as you notice, already made numerous comments, there’s nothing on the back. No information.

Cape: I bet you could kill us all for never writing down anything. It’s amazing. My mother is 97 and she, that lady and that lady are the same, what was I going to say. This guy, he’s still living. His grandmother is Mrs. Hemby, the lady that does the snack bar. This, that’s his grandmother. Let me see what his name is. His dad’s name was Paul something. Let me think a minute. This seems to be inside the auditorium. There’s the albums.

Interviewer: This is how we began to distinguish the decades. By using the teachers. This is how we recognize the Wilmington on 2nd and Orange Street also by the photographs. You know, confirmation. I notice here there must be at least 300 cups of beverages here.

Cape: There’s two tables sitting side by side.

Interviewer: Now is that what you did also?

Cape: Not ordinarily. They maybe would get their drink maybe, I don’t know where they got their drink. I guess they would bring their own over to the table. She’s local, what is her name. I wonder who she is. Okay, she’s local. Now I wonder who she is. She looks like she’d be a director, Miss Birmingham. Miss Birmingham. Its ruining the picture, your going to have to open it. I had been doing old pictures for a long time. Not that I know a lot about it, but I know that they rust terribly.

Interviewer: Very badly, very badly. And before we start to preserve all of these, we had to remove all the staples from all the papers, the letters. She was a good dancer, on the back it says she enjoyed dancing.

Cape: This is Taylor Chaperone, she looks familiar, oh my.

Interviewer: That’s Mayor Wade from Wilmington north of Front Street, the USO.

Cape: Okay, but remember the curtains, see I thought, see that bridge….oh, okay, this is Jacksonville.

Interviewer: What it is is Wilmington north of Front Street and the Jacksonville USO ran together. Mr. Sheehan ran, operated both USO’s.

Cape: Mrs. Betty Orr, she’s dead now, but she has a son and a daughter that live here. Jenny or, someone can talk to you about that because I don’t remember. That’s the telephone operators because this is the lady I told you about, Mary Roller, over here. Now this has got mirrors, but this looks like the Jacksonville USO. This is Mrs. Peck, this might be a Jewish group. She’s Jewish. Peck, she’s Jewish. And this, there’s a word back here, Hadassah. Anyway, my neighbors right down the street are Jewish and they might, well she would, she might be able to recognize some of these people. Okay, I’ll hang on.

Interviewer: Now what was the reason behind the sailors not wanting to wear their uniforms?

Cape: Well I believe because it was Marine territory (laughter). I think It might would have caused a conflict unnecessarily. Hopefully everybody was tolerant of each other.

Interviewer: Now in the early 50’s, did members of Camp Davis, did they come up here?

Cape: No, see that was, well wait a minute now, let me go back because my father helped build Camp Davis. He worked on the crew that helped build Camp Davis. You know the museum has a presentation right now on Camp LeJeune and Camp Davis. I can only remember my mother telling me about my father would pick up people to take them to Camp Davis because he had a car or truck.

Interviewer: We heard that the Ottaway family had a lot of material on Camp Davis. I was just curious if the service members came up here.

Cape: See, I wouldn't know that cause I was born in ’35 so in ’41, I was only six (laughter). So I don’t know about that. But, well let’s see, I don’t know how you’re doing that but that’s… smart kid. My mother and I are going through pictures that we have right now and newspaper clippings. I don’t think it’s a very good picture, but I don’t know where I got it. I cut it out of a newspaper. what are you stupid?

Interviewer: The 13th anniversary so that’s 1954 then.

Cape: That’s me and I’m trying to find out who that was. Who’s superstitious ( four local young ladies… reading from a picture). That almost looks like a picture you put in. That’s my hours.

Interviewer: Did you have to do hours?

Cape: They liked you too, you got a pin for your hours. Oh, I came down here all the time. I’d come down in the evenings. Audrey Katz, that is Dunree Gurganous. Her mother lives close to me, her mom and dad. This girl, I think she passed away, Frances Simpson.

Interviewer: So how many hours did you actually end up…do you remember how many hours you had?

Cape: No, if this was 1954, then that was probably close to the end because I was going to go off to college and so on and so forth, see the world, but I didn't know if you had this picture.

Interviewer: There are numerous clippings all the way back to the 50’s, but all those boxes and boxes of material, they’re scattered all over, they too got disorganized. The majority of them are also not dated. Most of them are, now the Wive’s Club that we discovered downstairs, binders, albums of Officers’ Wives’ Club, various wives’ clubs, fortunately they dated either the picture or the paper that they were taped to the picture fell off. It’s a considerable amount. People like yourself and your mother helping out and identifying these photographs gives us an idea of where we’re going to.

Cape: Sort of gives you a channel, doesn’t it?

Interviewer: Like you pointed out now what we can look at are the, in the auditorium, the hanging lights, mirrors on the columns, we can do that. Just to wrap this up, is there anything you want to quickly discuss.

Cape: Well I tried to find the little paper I had written telling you about when I first started looking at the USO and I couldn't find it, but anyway. Through the years, it has always been one of my cherished memories of coming to the USO to dance because I loved to dance.

Interviewer: What’s the story about the Spanish gentleman?

Cape: There were a bunch of Spanish fellows from Puerto Rico had come in and I believe they were all 5 foot (laughter). There were a couple that were 5’3” maybe, but I learned the meringue back then. We already knew how to do the mambo, but it was more exciting when they did it because it was more movement.

Interviewer: Didn't you mention before that you also danced with an Italian?

Cape: Yeah, (laughter), oh yes, one of the young men that I danced with, I had seen him before here at the USO. Now I did dance with him only once or twice, but there was a samba music playing. So he asked me to dance and when I got through dancing with him, I thought he has the oddest after shave lotion I’ve ever smelled. I asked one of his friends, you know, something about him, and he said, “He’s Italian and he eats lots of garlic” and that was the smell that I smelled and I had never smelled it before. I guess if we were all raised on garlic, we would have that particular odor, but it was very distinct, very different. Thus I liked to do the samba with him cause he was very good at it. All the dancing was fun.

Every new dance that would come along you know, we would try it. I don’t think we did the waltz, but we did…we even did the Virginia Reel a couple of times, but that was unusual. They would have maybe a program once in a while where we would do something different.

Interviewer: Did they have Halloween dances and Sadie Hawkin dances?

Cape: No, not back when I was coming. Just a Friday night good time (laughter).

Interviewer: Well I’ll close up for now.

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