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Interview with William F. Lowe, May 23, 2006 | UNCW Archives and Special Collections Online Database

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Title:
Interview with William F. Lowe, May 23, 2006
Date:
May 23, 2006
Description:
William "Bill" Lowe, retired professor of German, was a faculty member of the Department of Foreign Languages at UNCW from 1967-1999. In this interview, he illustrates his experience of UNCW's evolution, including physical details of the campus, changes in the Department of Foreign Languages, his relationships with faculty and administrators, and his experiences in the classroom.
Phys. Desc:

Interviewee: Lowe, William Interviewer: Riggins, Adina Date of Interview: 5/23/2006 Series: Voices of UNCW Length: 1 hour, 22 minutes

Riggins: Hi, my name is Adina Riggins. Today is May 23rd, 2006. I'm the university archivist here at UNC Wilmington but my role today is supportive and behind the scenes because I'll be the interviewer interviewing a very special guest we have in front of the camera today. We have Mr. Lowe, who will be introducing himself for the camera, who has had a long career here at UNCW. We'll be hearing all about it. Please, Mr. Lowe, state your name for the tape.

William Lowe: Okay. I am formally William F. Lowe, Jr. I prefer Bill Lowe.

Riggins: Bill Lowe.

William Lowe: Mm hm.

Riggins: Thank you very much for coming here today and joining us in making a university archives video series. It's called Voices of UNCW right now. We're very pleased that we have about, probably about 70 faculty members, former faculty members who have participated in the program thus far and we still have a lot to go. So I'm glad that you could join us today. I'd like to start off by getting a sense of who you are and what kind of background you had so please tell me where you were born and where you grew up.

William Lowe: Okay. Uh... it's easier to say where I was born than where I grew up. (laughs) Uh... I was born in Gastonia, North Carolina, and my father was with Southern Bell and became, by accident, the guru for converting from old "number please" type telephone to dial telephone so I have lived all over the state as I was growing up.

Riggins: Was he...did he have an engineering background?

William Lowe: No. (laughs)

Riggins: He just became...

William Lowe: He just-- exactly.

Riggins: He was good at it and developed...

William Lowe: Mm hm.

Riggins: So you lived throughout the state.

William Lowe: Yes.

Riggins: In North Carolina.

William Lowe: Right.

Riggins: Piedmont?

William Lowe: Mm hm. Mostly in Piedmont. I would guess the furthest this way that we ever came when I was a very small child was Lumberton.

Riggins: So what was that like, moving around? Did you get to report on the same books every time...

William Lowe: (laughter)

Riggins: I've heard that from kids.

William Lowe: No, unfortunately, I wasn't smart enough to figure out to do that. (laughter)

Riggins: I've heard from kids who do that.

William Lowe: Right.

Riggins: Mother said, every time she moved, she would report on Pride and Prejudice and every time the teacher was so impressed because it's such a important book. (laughter)

William Lowe: Well, as I say, I was not intelligent enough to figure that out plus I have always loved reading, still do, so it was never a hassle to have to read a book.

Riggins: That wasn't where you would have...

William Lowe: No.

Riggins: ...tried to save your time? How did you start learning German?

William Lowe: By accident.

Riggins: Yeah?

William Lowe: I went to Chapel Hill as a freshman in, what, 1952, and, having had one high school chemistry course, which I enjoyed very, very much, I thought, I'm going to be a chemist, knowing nothing about anything at that point. In order to major in chemistry in those days, you had to have four semesters of German and the further I went with the German, the more I liked it and, the further I went with the chemistry, the more I disliked it. So... (laughter) I finally said, "Okay." I had always thought I'd like to teach but, you know, by the same token, I thought, teachers don't get rich very quickly, (laughs) if ever and I was right about that, but (laughs) I have no regrets. I thoroughly enjoyed the years that I did teach.

Riggins: Good, that's great. I suppose, in those days, like you said, German was very important for sciences?

William Lowe: Yes.

Riggins: Is that because so many of the leading scientists were German?

William Lowe: Yes, that was a, a big part of it and uh... of course, this was long before Sputnik went up and the minute Sputnik went up the question was, what have we done wrong? What are the Russians doing right? And it came up, "We're not stressing foreign languages to the degree that we should" so it worked out well for me because uh... I could get a job very, very easily with the German.

Riggins: Yeah, wow. What did you like about German? Had you learned other foreign languages before?

William Lowe: I had had some Latin in high school, which I did not particularly enjoy. Uhm.. but, other than that, I came into German as a freshman in Chapel Hill, knowing that I had to have four semesters.

Riggins: Right. Had you gone through the public schools?

William Lowe: Yes.

Riggins: You started off in German and you found you took a liking to it.

William Lowe: Mm hm.

Riggins: To the reading, the grammar...

William Lowe: I really liked everything about it. Uh... the first semester was difficult in that the instructor uh... was a graduate student from the English department, of all places (laughs) but he was German and the difficulty there was his spoken English was not all that good and he really did not, in retrospect, at least I think he did not, understand the problems that an American English speaking native would have with German. It's a strange language, to say the least.

Riggins: Um-hum, I can see it'd be good for someone who has the mathematical mind.

William Lowe: Well, and I'm all thumbs when it comes to math, believe it or not. But, you know, as I said, after that first semester, the further I got into it, the more I enjoyed it.

Riggins: Oh, great. You were in Chapel Hill and decided to major in it. Did you think you would probably teach?

William Lowe: No, I was fortunate enough I didn't have to teach so uhm... to begin with, at least. Uh.. I went uh... straight through and got the uh... bachelor's degree and then went directly back after that and started in on the master's and I met a young lady who I married not too long after that-- or wanted to get married not too long after that but, in those days, you just didn't do that sort of thing. So one of us had to be in a position to...

Riggins: Make money.

William Lowe: ...make money. Right. (laughs) So my wife, bless her, was in the school of nursing and so, when she graduated, she worked and while all this was going on, of course, it was still the days of the compulsory military draft so I thought, well, that's hanging over me so I did the draft.

Riggins: Really?

William Lowe: And-- which was wonderful in some respects because I was actually stationed in Germany for about a year and a half.

Riggins: Really?

William Lowe: So that was most helpful.

Riggins: Was that after your degree then?

William Lowe: After the bachelor's degree, yeah.

Riggins: Oh, after bachelor's.

William Lowe: Yeah. And then, later on, uhm... I got the master's and, in fact, I interrupted that degree because not only did I get married, I was a prospective father to boot so that sort of put a dent in (laughs) my education there for a little while. But uh... my first teaching job was at a Methodist school in Jackson, Mississippi called Millsap's College.

Riggins: I've heard of that.

William Lowe: It is-- I've never worked as hard in my life. They were really almost without exc-exception were the brightest bunch of kids that I think I ever came in contact with and they worked me nearly to death. (laughs)

Riggins: My goodness. It's a small college?

William Lowe: Mm hm.

Riggins: It's not all female?

William Lowe: No. It was a coed.

Riggins: Okay. Yeah, I've heard of that.

William Lowe: So we stayed there for three years and then uh... discovered my wife was pregnant again. This time, it was planned. (laughs) And uhm... it was at that point in time in which James Meredith was trying to integrate Old Miss and they were having the race riots in Mississippi and it was just not-- it didn't seem to be a healthy climate to bring up a child. So I looked around and there was an opening at what was then Wilmington College and, since both my wife and I were native North Carolinians and our parents were still in North Carolina, we decided to make the move here.

Riggins: Oh, good. Had you been to Wilmington before?

William Lowe: Uh... only as a tourist.

Riggins: Yeah.

William Lowe: Yeah.

Riggins: Go to the beach and...

William Lowe: Mm hm.

Riggins: Okay. So you applied and did they have the funds to have you come up for an interview?

William Lowe: Oh, yes. Oh, yes, uh-huh. I thought-- and it-- you know, I had a wonderful time coming for the interview, although I think it was this trip, it may have been on the interview to go down to Mississippi, I can't remember which one, but ran into the most horrible storm you've ever seen and I thought, "I'm gonna die." (laughter) Gonna die.

Riggins: That was the hurricane or...?

William Lowe: No, just a severe electrical storm.

Riggins: Thunder storm.

William Lowe: Mm hm.

Riggins: Oh, wow.

William Lowe: Obviously, I survived it.

Riggins: Yeah, yeah. And the chairman must have been...

William Lowe: Lloyd Bishop.

Riggins: Lloyd Bishop. He was in French, right?

William Lowe: Yes.

Riggins: And so he was the chair of the committee, if there was a committee.

William Lowe: There wasn't really a committee. It was far more casual, more informal in those days because this would have been, what, 1964. So, you know, and the, the searches that I was involved in later on, they got more and more and more complicated. (laughs)

Riggins: Yes.

William Lowe: But, when I came, it was very laid back, indeed.

Riggins: I can see that, yeah. And this would have been when they were gearing up to have a four-year program?

William Lowe: Well, they had started uh... Wilmington College had moved from Market Street onto the present site and there were, let me see, there were three buildings that were complete. The original three were Alderman, Hoggard and James, okay? And then there was uh... also a building called Hanover Hall, which was the original part of the athletic complex and it was not quite through but they were using it. But that was the campus and we had a grand total of, I think it was 650 students when I arrived.

Riggins: Wow. That's incredible and also to hear that, probably about 12 years after that, they were up to 3,000 students.

William Lowe: Mm hm.

Riggins: That might seem like not very many but, if you think about it, that's, you know...

William Lowe: That's quite a jump.

Riggins: ...five times.

William Lowe: Mm hm.

Riggins: Five times the growth and you think about the growth now, yes, the numbers are bigger to start with but it's not multiplying fivefold.

William Lowe: Yeah.

Riggins: Thank goodness.

William Lowe: (laughter)

Riggins: You know, in ten years, I don't think we're going to have, you know, 60,000 students.

William Lowe: Right. It astounds me to see how big this university has become already because it's all in my lifetime and, despite my advancing years (laughs), it doesn't seem like that long, truthfully. Obviously, it is. (laughter)

Riggins: A lot happened in a short amount of time here, to.

William Lowe: Yes, right, right.

Riggins: When you came, people were probably very excited they had their own campus, the university was not quite 20 years old.

William Lowe: No, well, nobody used the word campus in those days. We were strictly a di-- a drive in institution, you know?

Riggins: So people called it the College Road location?

William Lowe: Yeah, well, the Coll-- uh... South College Road, which is a hassle at this point, was just a conventional two-lane road, one leading one direction and one in the other and that was it.

Riggins: Yeah, yeah.

William Lowe: And there was no-- there was very, very little in the way of buildings or construction along College Road. There was a service station, a Phillips station, as I remember, directly across the street but not much else, actually.

Riggins: Wow, goodness. When you came for the interview and you met everyone, did you think this would be nice? We'd like to come back to North Carolina and come here.

William Lowe: Right. I had some reservations in that uh... my wife has chronic lung disease uhm... and she had always had difficulty when she was on the coast with asthma. I don't know exactly why but she did so we came somewhat in fear and trepidation, fear, you know, that she wouldn't be able to, to tolerate the location but uh... and, initially, it was very difficult sometimes but uh... as the years rolled on and medical science made a lot of advances, uh... it's worked out very, very nicely for both of us.

Riggins: Yeah. Sounds like it. When you came, it was the department of modern languages or something like that?

William Lowe: I think it was just called the Department of Foreign Languages.

Riggins: Foreign languages.

William Lowe: Mm hm. I'm sorry, I believe you are right. I believe it was modern languages because I think we did not change to foreign languages until uh... Latin was-- and classics were added to the curriculum. Suddenly, there was no longer a reason to call it modern languages. (laughs)

Riggins: Right. And Dr. Handle may have had a hand in that, who knows? But...

William Lowe: Well, he was gone by then. (laughs)

Riggins: Oh. Well, and you came and did you start in the fall of 1965?

William Lowe: Uh...'64. Actually, I started in the summer. Uh... really more quickly than I had anticipated because uh... we moved into town uh... one week and, before the week was out, I got a phone call saying, "Could you please come out and help us with summer school registration?" The man that was supposed to do it uh... had had a severe heart attack so they needed some other body. Well, I knew nothing from nothing about the institution at that point, actually, but uh... another woman who was the uh... she was the dean of women and also the uh... one of the faculty members in French was out here, her name was Helen LaChi.

Riggins: Helen _________.

William Lowe: Uh huh. Remarkable woman. And she sorta led me by the hand and, any time I got stumped, I would say, "Helen, what am I supposed to do now?" (laughs)

Riggins: Right. Oh, yeah. She sounds like she was amazing.

William Lowe: Yeah. Mm hm.

Riggins: She did a lot here. So you came and helped out with that and then...

William Lowe: Then taught summer-- that second...

Riggins: And then helped out with summer school?

William Lowe: Yeah. I taught the second session of summer school so that was nice.

Riggins: Was there an interest in learning German after the war?

William Lowe: Uhm... I don't think it helped or hindered, particularly. Uh... I'm sure immediately after the end of the second world war that there would've been a great deal of animosity toward German, anything German but, truthfully, in my experience, I never encountered that.

Riggins: Yeah. It would have been sometime after...

William Lowe: Yeah. Uh huh. When I went to Germany for the first time in 1959 and that's not too long after the end of the war and not only had they done a great deal of rebuilding, they were tearing down a lot of what they had rebuilt to rebuild on a bigger and grander scale so (laughs) the recovery was astounding.

Riggins: Yeah, they were busy. They were wanting to put a lot of that behind them at that point.

William Lowe: Yes, yes.

Riggins: Distance themselves.

William Lowe: Mm hm.

Riggins: So they had to-- had been involved which was probably lots of people were...

William Lowe: Right. Well, you know, I, I had-- I was fortunate enough to be more or less taken in by a German family while I was there and so, when I was not on duty with the army, then I was fortunate enough, I had a home away from home, actually. I kept civilian clothes there and that kind of thing and so-- and very, very rarely did we discuss the second world war. It was-- the-- there was a, a young man in the family who was about ten years younger than I was at that point and he didn't understand the war at all. His parents didn't like to talk about it at all so the diplomatic thing to do, for me, was to keep my mouth shut. (laughs)

Riggins: Yeah. I'm sure a lot of that was going on. Well, when you came here and you first started teaching in the summer of '64, it sounds like you were very busy right away. Did they have you teaching a lot of classes?

William Lowe: You know, I must admit that. I don't remember whether I taught simply one class or two. Uh... I know I, I must have taught the, the elementary level and whether I taught the intermediate level, it's been so long ago, I really do not remember.

Riggins: In the fall or...

William Lowe: This was in the...

Riggins: In the summer?

William Lowe: ...in the summer, yeah.

Riggins: What about in the fall?

William Lowe: Then, in the fall, if it was any-- if it was in the catalogue, I taught it.

Riggins: Everything German?

William Lowe: Yes. Mm hm. And, really, it almost stayed that way for most of my career here.

Riggins: You were the German...

William Lowe: I was the German department, yeah. (laughs)

Riggins: The section...

William Lowe: Yeah, the section, right. We used to laugh because of our department heads would say now, we need to have sectional meetings and I says, well, I think I will do my meeting at home. (laughter)

Riggins: Yes, right. No problem there.

William Lowe: Right.

Riggins: When you came, was there some excitement or feeling on the part of the faculty about this being a four-year college now and sort of a liberal arts feel and had its origins as a technical...

William Lowe: Yeah. It was a gender college. Uh...

Riggins: But I'm wondering some of the faculty, were they, like, much trying to distance-- whether you were or not it doesn't matter but whether people were trying to say no, we're a four-year college now, we're liberal arts...

William Lowe: There was some of that later on, particularly-- it got to the point, and always kind of disturbed me, uh... that people wanted to lose sight of the fact that this institution would not have been here had it not been for the citizens of New Hanover County because they supported it uh... and then suddenly, a bit later on, and certainly not when I got here but a bit later on, there was this feeling of we were a little grander than what we used to be and that always bothered me because, as I say, this institution owns, owes a great deal to the citizens of this county.

Riggins: Oh, yeah. For agreeing to...

William Lowe: Yeah.

Riggins: ...to tax themselves-- that was a very special...

William Lowe: Right.

Riggins: ...situation there on the ballot, I believe. It wasn't a big bond issue or anything. When you came, Dr. Randall may have been dean or president-- I believe he was...

William Lowe: He was the president of Wilmington College.

Riggins: What was your first contact with Dr. Randall like?

William Lowe: Well, of course, I had an interview with him when I came up to interview for the position.

Riggins: Oh, okay.

William Lowe: And then the faculty, too, was very, very small in those days. I don't know the number but uh... it was small enough that uh... you know, there were occasional parties and Dr. and Mrs. Randall always entertained at Christmastime in their home and, you know, you could get by with it. So, thus there was a room over in Alderman that sort of served as a, I guess, a faculty lounge. It was-- there was just some chairs and a coffee pot. (laughs) And people would gather there for coffee and Dr. Randall came in frequently and had coffee with whoever was there.

Riggins: I heard that, about that. It would happen pretty regularly.

William Lowe: A lovely lady who was one of the custodians here, her name was Hattie and her husband was named Buck and they basically ran this place, in many respects. (laughs) On one occasion, uh.. they were getting ready to do uh... registration and I don't think it was that first summer school, I think it was probably the semester after that, but I was supposed to come out and help with that. And Hattie was not gonna let me into the building. She says, "The students are supposed to get over there in that line," and, even though I was 30 years old at the time, I was a very youthful looking 30 so... (laughs)

Riggins: Tell her...

William Lowe: Yeah, right. (laughs) So...

Riggins: So you tried to explain?

William Lowe: Finally, somebody came up behind me and Hattie happened to know him and he says, "Hattie, it's all right. He's a new faculty member." (laughs)

Riggins: That's a good, yeah, that's a good one. Gosh, she was-- they were very involved with those breaks, weren't they, and making sure the coffee pot was there...

William Lowe: Mm hm.

Riggins: ...for Dr. Randall when he came in, and everything like that? Can you tell on tape the story you related to me over the phone about your first phone contact with Dr. Randall on your first day of class?

William Lowe: Well, it was something else. Uh... I had taught for three years already.

Riggins: Oh, okay.

William Lowe: However, I was certainly the new kid on the block as far as U-- as far as Wilmington College was concerned and the phone rang and it was Dr. Randall. And he says, "I wonder if you would help me translate something," and I says, "Well, yes, sir, I'd be delighted to try." Well, what came out of his mouth, and if you don't know any German, it won't mean too much to you but he says, "What I'd like you to translate is this sentence: (speaking German)" Well, that was das, das, das, das, das and I thought, "What in the world is that name?" And I says, "Well, Dr. Randall, give me a couple of minutes to think about that and I'll call you right back." And I thought, "What in the world am I going to do?" So I sat down and figured out all the possible combinations and there were three das. One of them was a conjunction and two-- one was a pronoun and so forth. (laughs) But, you know, all I could hear was das, das, das, das, das. But I-- thank goodness, I was able to figure it out. I felt like I had saved face. (laughs)

Riggins: You realized it was a brain teaser?

William Lowe: Right. Right.

Riggins: What did you do? Did you reply to him?

William Lowe: Called him right back as soon as I had the word and I said, "Well, what that really means is 'He said that the "that" is the right word.'" And he just laughed and he says, "Yeah..."

Riggins: The "that" is the right word?

William Lowe: Yeah.

Riggins: Oh, my goodness. Did you ever speak German with him?

William Lowe: Uh... you know, I don't think I ever did.

Riggins: Was he known to be fluent in German?

William Lowe: I do not remember. I don't think so. I know he-- I guess it was Arabic that was his specialty and the rumor had it, in those days, that he had been a-an American spy who had, who had infiltrated uh... General Romell's group of people. Now, whether that was true-- he never mentioned it but it would not surprise me. (laughs) He was very, very brilliant.

Riggins: Yes. Do you know anything about-- since you were both in languages, did he ever discuss how he got interested in Arabic?

William Lowe: Mm-mm. Never did.

Riggins: Right. Did he-- but he taught it for awhile?

William Lowe: Yes. Yes.

Riggins: In your department.

William Lowe: Mm hm.

Riggins: This was after he stepped down as...

William Lowe: I think it was, yes.

Riggins: And he just had an interest in going back to teaching.

William Lowe: Mm hm.

Riggins: And teaching Arabic. So that must have been quite a good experience for the students.

William Lowe: I'm sure it was. I really am.

Riggins: He didn't teach Latin, too? Or...

William Lowe: No, I don't think so. I don't believe-- I may be...

Riggins: Or maybe he...

William Lowe: ...faulty. I don't think we offered any linguistics, yes.

Riggins: He taught linguistics?

William Lowe: I don't think we offered any Latin until much later when we added it uh... when Andrea Deagon came here.

Riggins: Right. What was the department like in those early days of the mid-'60s, late '60s? Was it-- it was small?

William Lowe: It was very, very close knit. Uhm... we were in a room again in Alderman that uh... housed not only all of the language teachers but also some of the English teachers and just a classroom and there were-- each of us had a desk. We had a filing cabinet and one of the people in our department whose name was Roger Bissam[ph?], he was quite a carpenter, so he was employed on the side to build bookcases for us and so we had our little cubby hole separated by a bookcase and we had a desk and we had a filing cabinet.

Riggins: Wow.

William Lowe: And there were, you know, eight or ten of us, I guess, in that room.

Riggins: And that comprised the-- everyone from foreign languages was in that room?

William Lowe: Everybody and some of the people from English.

Riggins: And some from English. And you had taught in Alderman or you taught elsewhere?

William Lowe: Uh... as best I remember, I think, all of our classes at that point were probably in Alderman and then, of course, as we began to grow, we began to spread out. We had some classes uh.. over in uh... Hoggard, for example, and I can remember one of the classes that I taught was in the room, I don't know whether you have heard of Dorothy Marshall, who was the registrar here for quite a number of years. Well, not only was she the registrar uh... but she also taught some business courses, including typing and I happened to be trying to teach a class in the room where the typing class met, and forever somebody was hitting the typewriter with their elbow and the bell would go off. It was distracting, to say the least.

Riggins: Yes, while you were trying to teach your class.

William Lowe: Yes.

Riggins: When did you move out of your big classroom?

William Lowe: We, I don't remember the year, but we moved uh... into uh... Kenan Hall, not Kenan auditorium but into Kenan Hall and...

Riggins: That had a whole bunch of departments.

William Lowe: Yes, uh huh.

Riggins: I remember...

William Lowe: English was over there, languages was over there, uh... Doug Swank and the theater was over there.

Riggins: Psychology?

William Lowe: Psychology was over-- I think some of the political science. It was a hodgepodge.

Riggins: Right.

William Lowe: But, as best I remember, that was the fourth building on the campus.

Riggins: Yeah. I think when I interviewed, quite some time back, but Michael Bradley from psychology and I think he says there's where he started off and he came in about '69...

William Lowe: Yeah.

Riggins: And that was crowded, I guess, but did you have your own office actually in there?

William Lowe: Yes. I had a, an office which had no windows. (laughs) And I periodically would come out of my office and just walk out to the front of the building to see what was going on in the outside world. (laughs)

Riggins: Mm hm.

William Lowe: It was less than an ideal situation. (laughs)

Riggins: I guess if everyone was in the same building...

William Lowe: Mm hm. Well, some of the, the uh... people that had been there longer or had a greater rank than I did had windows or had offices with windows. Uh... but I did not and there was one other office in that suite and then there was a nice man named Kenneth Stokes, his wife taught out here for a number of years, too, uh... but Kenneth taught French and he had an office around the corner but he didn't have any windows (laughs) in it, either. So when we...

Riggins: I'm sorry, he didn't have what?

William Lowe: He had no windows, either.

Riggins: Oh.

William Lowe: So we were very excited when we moved out of Kenan and over into Morton.

Riggins: Morton. And that's when you...

William Lowe: That's when I got a window. (laughs)

Riggins: That's when you got a window. And that's when you shared a floor with history?

William Lowe: Yeah, uh-huh. English was across the hall from us and history was upstairs and there was another suite of offices up there. I think maybe those were English as well.

Riggins: So you were on the first floor, then?

William Lowe: Yeah, we were on the first floor to start with.

Riggins: Over in Morton.

William Lowe: Mm hm.

Riggins: Did you know Shannon Morton?

William Lowe: Yes.

Riggins: Yeah. So that must have been nice, you moving into a building with her name on it.

William Lowe: It was indeed. Uhm... and above and beyond all of that, there was a, a slight personal connection. Uh... she and one of my aunts uh... were good friends and I think perhaps Shannon, at some point, was affiliated with Davidson College. I would not swear to that but my aunt was the secretary to the president of Davidson at that point. So there was some connection-- I don't know how they made the connection but there was a connection there. Shannon would always ask me about my Aunt Sarah and my Aunt Sarah would always ask me about Shannon.

Riggins: Interesting. So, there was maybe a professional and a personal connection somehow.

William Lowe: Mm hm.

Riggins: Okay. So you were glad you got a window and you moved into Morton. By this time, the department was growing a great deal...

William Lowe: Yes.

Riggins: ...I'm sure. You know, more and more students. I don't know if there more and more students in German. There...

William Lowe: Well, we had, you know, it's kind of-- in retrospect, I think it was rather remarkable that we held our own because uh... when we did away with, totally with the language requirement here, the enrollment declined in all languages dramatically.

Riggins: That hap-- they actually did away with the languages?

William Lowe: We had no language requirement.

Riggins: And then they brought it back?

William Lowe: Then they brought it back.

Riggins: They did away with it for some time in the '70s?

William Lowe: Yeah. Mm hm.

Riggins: Wow. And...

William Lowe: It was not relevant it was decided. (laughs) Relevancy was the key word in those days.

Riggins: I'm sure the department fought that as best they could?

William Lowe: Well, unsuccessfully but we did try. (laughs) And, you know, we did, we managed to keep our head above water. It was-- as I said, we lost some faculty members because, if you don't have the students, you don't need the faculty but uhm... at any rate, we did manage to, to hang on.

Riggins: By this time, Rush Beeler may have been...

William Lowe: Uh... well, I'm trying to remember.

Riggins: He came, I believe...

William Lowe: I can't remember.

Riggins: ...in '69.

William Lowe: About then. Jack Sparks was the-- and he's dead now. Jack Sparks was the department head uh... after Lloyd Bishop left, okay?

Riggins: Okay.

William Lowe: And then uh... Jack did not really like doing administrative work and so he turned it over to Rush and Rush took it for quite a number of years and, believe it or not, I was acting chair for a year.

Riggins: That's what you mentioned.

William Lowe: Mm hm. I didn't like it, either. (laughs)

Riggins: You...

William Lowe: I like being in the classroom, I really did enjoy it.

Riggins: You were acting chair then before James McNab came?

William Lowe: Yes.

Riggins: So there was a long history there. One other person I interviewed was Mary Bellamy.

William Lowe: Oh, she is a love.

Riggins: She sounds like-- she really was, to us, she was and I'm sure she had a good time with the students.

William Lowe: Well, she's one of the neatest people I have ever known in my life and her husband is equally nice.

Riggins: Oh, yeah. And you had quite a few native speakers for awhile in your department.

William Lowe: Yes.

Riggins: You had, in Spanish, Carlos...

William Lowe: Carlos Peres. Uh huh. And Antalingo Gonzales Delvie. Uhm.. I think those were the only two at that particular point.

Riggins: Right. Was that coincidence or was there kind of a push to get some native speakers in order to round out the department, maybe make it more appealing to the students to have native speakers?

William Lowe: I think it was, you know, simply a matter of availability, you know, people wanting jobs. And certainly it would not hurt particularly. Uh... Carlos' English is superb, always has been. Uh... Dr. Delvie was (laughs) a bit iffy. Anyway, a very nice person.

Riggins: At this time, did you start getting some of your faculty as well? Did that start happening in the '70s? I guess Teracita[ph?] Parra...

William Lowe: She came a, a good bit later than that.

Riggins: Yeah, closer to 1980...

William Lowe: Yeah. Uh huh. I'm trying to remember who else we might have had. Uh... we had Cocki Campbell, who was native French at one point. Uhm... I'm trying to mentally go up and down the halls to remember whose office was where. (laughs)

Riggins: That's all right. I don't mean to be asking...

William Lowe: No, that's perfectly all right.

Riggins: ...these questions but it's just-- they sort of come to me as I go, make sure I'm...well, what was your day like? Did you teach four classes a semester, generally? Three?

William Lowe: Four.

Riggins: Four. So it wasn't like today.

William Lowe: And sometimes-- well, uh... one of the reasons for Jack Sparks stepping down as chair was that he ran into some health problems.

Riggins: Even the chair taught quite a bit probably?

William Lowe: Yeah. Uh huh. And so, when he did, in order to, to, you know, cope with the classes that we had going at that point, at one point, I was teaching five classes, which was a little much.

Riggins: Did you teach in other languages, besides German?

William Lowe: No, just German.

Riggins: But you would offer more...

William Lowe: Yeah, we-- right, we began to uh... offer more. I, I added an extra section of German so that Inga Steitz, who I mentioned earlier, could step in and take over one or more French sections.

Riggins: I see. Wow. Did she teach in German sometimes?

William Lowe: German and French. Uh huh.

Riggins: Okay.

William Lowe: And, of course, she's Danish by birth.

Riggins: Right. She still living?

William Lowe: Mm hm.

Riggins: Okay. I'll have to talk to her.

William Lowe: Yeah, she's-- you'll like her. She's a remarkable lady.

Riggins: Wow. Yeah, I believe she's on my list but her husband has passed away so...

William Lowe: Mm hm.

Riggins: There's um...so you all kind of chipped in, helped each other out?

William Lowe: Yeah, mm hm.

Riggins: Well, what kept ya'll going doesn't sound like it was salary problem here...

William Lowe: No, the pay was-- I'm trying to re-- seems to me like when I came to Wilmington College, that my starting salary was $5,000. (laughs)

Riggins: So had you been doing better at Millsap's?

William Lowe: Nope. (laughter)

Riggins: At least...

William Lowe: That was another reason that I was delighted to ta-- accept the job here. (laughs)

Riggins: Yeah. Well, at least you didn't take a pay cut.

William Lowe: No. That's true.

Riggins: Yeah. So you taught a lot, up to five classes if there was an illness or something like that. That kept you busy. You had to meet with students often?

William Lowe: Yes. I was also one of the original general college advisors.

Riggins: Oh, that was when they started actually having...

William Lowe: Mm hm.

Riggins: Okay.

William Lowe: John Stokes, who was in the English department, uh... headed up the advising system in those days.

Riggins: Right. Yeah. Yeah, he's very nice.

William Lowe: Mm hm.

Riggins: He was probably the first one...

William Lowe: Yes.

Riggins: Okay. And you met with students and, of course, the usual meeting with students when they have trouble with their classes, their grades, et cetera.

William Lowe: Well, not only that, we had to get their schedules worked out, you know, for pre-registration and then, if they happened to flunk a course and had to repeat something or drop something in order to get something else, uh... there was a lot of that, really, a lot of paperwork involved, busy work, but it had to be done.

Riggins: It has to be done, the majors.

William Lowe: Mm hm.

Riggins: Could students major in German?

William Lowe: No. We did have a minor. I was able to institute that. Uh...

Riggins: So that was something you did single-handedly?

William Lowe: Yes, uh huh.

Riggins: I think it's the same place now except I believe they're trying to have a joint major...

William Lowe: There is, I think there is going to be uh... a major in-- and I don't know whether it's going to be German or uh... German studies or-- because I really haven't kept up. My mother-in-law used to say to my wife, Jane, "For heaven's sakes, just say good-bye and leave, don't ooze out." And that's what I have tried to do since I have retired. (laughs)

Riggins: Yes, yes. I may have interrupted that by pulling you back in, forcing you back in but, yeah, I can respect that.

William Lowe: Uh huh. Well, you know, I was at it for an awful long time and I loved it and uh... I left feeling very happy about the entire situation but it's somebody else's turn now.

Riggins: Mm hm. Yeah, leave it to the new young...

William Lowe: Right. Uh huh. Well, of course, Raymond Burt came out and uh... unfortunately, was not totally in the classroom for very long because he's a very talented man. So he's in administration. I've forgotten what his official title is but they have someone else in German over there now whom I've never met, which is, I guess I should have come out and introduced myself but I didn't. (laughs)

Riggins: Oliver Speck.

William Lowe: Yes.

Riggins: Very nice person, a native speaker, very interested in film, which it seems like a lot of them, faculty are going through now.

William Lowe: Yes, yes.

Riggins: He's in film, both in teaching and in research. Were you serving on a committee then? Did you have to do a lot of service back then?

William Lowe: Always something.

Riggins: Faculty senate?

William Lowe: Right. I did that.

Riggins: Yeah, yeah.

William Lowe: Chairman of the, the uh... calendar committee and I was on this committee and that committee and...

Riggins: It takes time.

William Lowe: It does.

Riggins: Right, but it's necessary. So you never preferred that over teaching?

William Lowe: No. If I could be in the classroom, I was perfectly happy.

Riggins: Really?

William Lowe: Mm hm.

Riggins: And what did you like about teaching?

William Lowe: I suppose it was the interaction with the students because particularly in the earlier years the students that I got had never had any German whatsoever. It just was not offered in high schools, particularly in the south and so, you know, I had a clean slate to start with. So anything that they learned, I could see and knew I had a hand in it. And so that's rather egotistical but I know it's true.

Riggins: Built it from scratch.

William Lowe: Yeah, right. Right.

Riggins: Yeah. What were students like in those days? Did you find some highly motivated ones?

William Lowe: Yes. Mm hm. And, you know, they varied as the years went by. There was a period, I guess, probably in the '70s and I thought, you know, this is really sad. This is the most disgruntled bunch of people I've ever seen. They don't seem to be positive about anything. Uh... they all looked exactly alike and I kept thinking, you know, here they are, physically in the prime of their lives and look at them. (laughs) I walked into a class one day and, of course, I had a tentative role and I looked around and there were two names that had not gender specific names to go with them and I didn't know whether to say Mr. so and so or Miss so and so or what. I got it wrong. They both had very long hair. (laughs) They both were wearing earrings. (laughs) And I was not accustomed to that. This was a long time ago.

Riggins: That's funny. Did you generally call them Mr. and Miss?

William Lowe: Uh... either that or Herr so and so and-- they don't use the word Fraulein any more.

Riggins: You use Frau.

William Lowe: You use Frau. Uh huh.

Riggins: So...

William Lowe: It's kinda like the Ms. that-- you don't say Miss any more.

Riggins: Right. But you didn't call them by their first names?

William Lowe: Uhm...

Riggins: Maybe as time went on?

William Lowe: On occasion but, you know, they couldn't call me by my first name so I didn't really feel free, necessarily, to call them in so, sometimes, when I'd get to know a student really quite well, and so then I would call them by their first names.

Riggins: But you kept it formal.

William Lowe: Yeah, uh huh. Well, there had to be some separation, you know? There was a desk between us if nothing else.

Riggins: What about the non-traditional students?

William Lowe: I loved 'em.

Riggins: Did you have some of them?

William Lowe: Yes.

Riggins: They were...

William Lowe: My most favorite was a delightful lady whose name was Eleanor Brickman. Eleanor was in her 80s and she wanted to learn German. Well, it was wonderful. Amongst other things, she taught my son, who was quite young in those days, how to swim. She was a swim coach at the YMCA.

Riggins: Really?

William Lowe: But Mrs. Brickman was as deaf as a post. And she read lips, even in German, she could read lips. (Laughs) So I had to remember, and it was difficult because, if I wanted to write something on the board, I had to write and sort of turn my head to face the class at the same time. (laughs) And to my great horror, after I guess the end of her fourth semester, she announced one day, "I'm going to Germany for the summer" and I thought, "Eleanor, I don't know that that's safe." (laughs) But over she went and rented herself-- I don't know whether it was a room or an apartment but she went over and spent the summer and had a wonderful time.

Riggins: By herself?

William Lowe: Mm hm.

Riggins: Wow, she sounds.

William Lowe: I think one of her grandchildren went over with her initially but she spent most of the time by herself.

Riggins: That's amazing.

William Lowe: Yeah.

Riggins: Yeah, so there were definitely some students who were outstanding and could be a model, perhaps for the other students.

William Lowe: Right. Well, yeah, truthfully, when I walked into a classroom for the first time at the beginning of a semester, I could look around and perhaps pick out the uh... non-traditional students and, if I had to make a guess as to what their grades would be, they usually were right up at the top.

Riggins: Even though they often had to work harder.

William Lowe: Yes, uh huh.

Riggins: Because it had been so long since they'd been in a classroom.

William Lowe: Right, right. Their motivation was so good.

Riggins: Right.

[ audio off then on ]

Riggins: We're back after a break. We were talking about the students and how good so many of them were and how you liked that. What was your teaching philosophy? Were you-- did you, for example, I remember, when I was in college, there were always teachers who scared you in the very beginning in an attempt to get students who really weren't going to do anything to drop, ya know. Is that a common ploy?

William Lowe: I don't know. Uh... occasionally, I'd get a student who would sign up, say, for German 101 and their background was such that they should have been in advanced German, not in 101 and I really didn't like that at all. They were wasting their time and mine and no matter how hard they tried, it didn't take long before they would make some slip that would indicate that they were far more proficient in German than they were letting on to be and I really did not like that. Otherwise...

Riggins: They were trying to do it just...

William Lowe: They were-- an easy A, yeah. Uhm... and there was nothing I could do about it, for such a long, long time. Later on, I-- they put in a program whereby we had a little more control over it plus the fact that, you know, they would give some credit for a student who would go in at a certain level and successfully complete that course and they'd get an additional three hours credit toward graduation.

Riggins: Oh, that's nice.

William Lowe: Yeah.

Riggins: Right, that's good.

William Lowe: And that was helpful.

Riggins: That definitely helps.

William Lowe: But, no, I never tried to scare a student. Uhm... I guess, in many respects, I was more or less a student advocate.

Riggins: Uhhuh, uh-huh. Well, who did you get to know well while you were there? I mean, it sounds like you probably could get to know quite a few of the faculty, it being small. Did you get to know Marshall Crews?

William Lowe: Oh, yes.

Riggins: He held so many positions here.

William Lowe: Didn't he, though? Yeah. Uhm... and particularly, when I first came here, the faculty was so small, you knew everybody by name. So that was, that was pleasant.

Riggins: Jerry Shin?

William Lowe: Yes. Uh huh.

Riggins: He was a character.

William Lowe: Yes. (laughs) To say the least.

Riggins: And he kind of, you know, took so many students under his wing and really wanted to help them.

William Lowe: I haven't heard anything from Jerry in years. I hope he's still around. He has severe allergies, I know.

Riggins: Oh, okay. Yeah, I know he moved out to the western part of the state, Albemarle.

William Lowe: Okay. I didn't realize he'd left here.

Riggins: Yeah. He's doing all right, from what I understand.

William Lowe: That's good.

Riggins: What about after Dr. Randall retired and it became a university in 1969, did you get to know Dr. Wagoner?

William Lowe: Yes.

Riggins: They entertained occasionally.

William Lowe: Right. They did. Uh huh. In Kenan House and it was always very pleasant-- uh... Madeline did not like doing that but she did it. (laughs) And was always very gracious but it made her nervous.

Riggins: She worried about...

William Lowe: Yeah. Was it going to be everything done the way she wanted it to be done and it always was. So...

Riggins: Yeah. Some of your memories out here. Who were some of the other people who made an impact on you that you remember in your department or not?

William Lowe: Well, I'll have to stop and give that a moment's thought uh... because there were so many of them. Uhm... Okay. Joanne Corbett in the English department, for example. She's my neighbor now.

Riggins: Uh huh. How did you get to know her?

William Lowe: Uh...

Riggins: I guess you got to know...

William Lowe: We were in the same building. (laughs) And she-- I think she was actually here when I got here. I will not swear to that. Uhm... and Isabelle Fouchier[ph?], who was in the English department. And oh, let me see, who else? Uhm...drawing a senior moment, name, Carol. (laughs)

Riggins: Carol Ellis?

William Lowe: Ellis. Yes, thank you.

Riggins: She's still here.

William Lowe: Oh, she goes to our church and sings in the choir with my wife so a lot of people in English. Uh... of course, I was here when uh... Claude Howell was here and Claude was a character, to say the very, very least. Uhm.. he was kinda fun. Sometimes he could be kind of obnoxious, too, speak no ill of the dead, I know. (laughs) He had an opinion about everything.

Riggins: Right. And he may have, you know, wanted to get people going.

William Lowe: Yeah.

Riggins: Stir up things.

William Lowe: He walked into my house on one occasion. We had invited him and some other people to dinner and I'm sure he had been in that house before but, on this particular evening, he was, he was less than (laughs) one might want as a guest. He looked around and he says, "I hate houses that try to look like Williamsburg." And I first thought, "I'm just gonna let that pass" and then I thought, "No, I am not, either." And I says, "Claude, if you think this house looks anything like Williamsburg, I can only assume that you have never been to Williamsburg." (laughter) He shut up after that.

Riggins: Yeah. Yeah. Why should you have to-- you know, when he's a guest in your home? Yeah, he just had strong opinions about taste.

William Lowe: Yeah, mm hm.

Riggins: Interesting.

William Lowe: It was his taste or it was wrong. (laughs)

Riggins: Sure, the boss. And when Dr. Cahill came on, that was a big change...

William Lowe: Yes.

Riggins: ...I understand to finally have a provost, someone who could oversee certain things while the president, um-- chancellor takes care of other things.

William Lowe: Of course, we had had uh... Paul Reynolds as dean uh... for a long time and Paul and I did not always see eye to eye but you could tell him what you thought and he would listen and sometimes he would agree with you and sometimes he wouldn't. (laughs) Which was as it should be. Uhm... I was never close to Cahill. He was a world away, as far as most of us were concerned.

Riggins: Kinda operated and did what he had to do.

William Lowe: Yeah, uh huh.

Riggins: Shuffled it through a lot of change, a lot of growth. As your department moved along, you said there got to be more of a structure. There were some, like, committees, higher faculty, things like that...

William Lowe: Yes. Mm hm. Well, the-- I've forgotten whether it was the first time that we hired-- that I served on a committee or whether it was-- how did that work? We had, for my position one year, we had 230-odd applications.

Riggins: For German?

William Lowe: For German, right. And many of those people had credentials that made mine look non-existent. (laughs)

Riggins: Wow. Well...

William Lowe: But uh...

Riggins: New people don't...

William Lowe: Yeah, right. But there's not that many jobs out there uh... in German at this point so...

Riggins: Wow.

William Lowe: And, yeah, truthfully, I had-- I don't think I would advise anybody to, to seek a straight major in German in this day and time. Uh... you know, get as much German as you can and get a degree in business, for example. And if I were going to advise a, a straight language major, I'm afraid I would have to advise the person to do Spanish because it's the most immediatly practicable one at this day and time.

Riggins: In this country.

William Lowe: Uh huh.

Riggins: Sure. If you're living somewhere else, if you're living in France, in the eastern part of France, it would be good to know German, but that's interesting. Well, speaking of this, this may be, I don't know, a tad on the delicate side but I don't think so. There was-- after awhile, there was a real push for Ph.D.s, people to have Ph.D.s and I know some people went back and got their Ph.D. I don't know how they did it, either while they were in school or tried to arrange something.

William Lowe: Yeah.

Riggins: So did that affect life in the department? Ya know, there were some people who didn't have the Ph.D.

William Lowe: Not particularly. We tended to be the workhorses, I would have to say. Uh... and, you know, I went back and it was not easy. I did not get-- did not finish the degree. I was what was known as an A.B.D., an all but dissertation.

Riggins: Oh, so you did go back.

William Lowe: Yeah. Uh huh.

Riggins: Did you go to U.N.C.?

William Lowe: State. Mm hm. But uh... you know, basically, well, I have a daughter, if you'll excuse this, who is now working on her second masters and I says, "Whitney, why don't you go ahead and get a doctorate?" and she says, "Dad," her, her field is, is speech pathology, okay? And she says, "Dad, a Ph.D. gears you to do research," and, she says, "I don't want to do research. I want to be in the classroom."

Riggins: And working with the students who...

William Lowe: Mm hm. So she is getting a second degree in uh... education now and so she'll be able to combine her speech pathology background and training with some of the education courses. So it makes perfectly good sense.

Riggins: Right. Sure.

William Lowe: To do what she wants to do.

Riggins: So you guys taught all the people who are...

William Lowe: Mm hm. You know, we taught, particularly, I always enjoyed the elementary and the intermediate level courses. I taught, you know, all of them that we offered in those days, uhm... but there was something particularly about the elementary level, when you were starting with, you know, a clean slate, uh huh, that was very, very satisfying. I guess it was something of an ego trip, truthfully.

Riggins: Well, not everybody has that appreciation...

William Lowe: No. No.

Riggins: It's good that you had, you know, people want to teach in a certain field or teach literature or something...

William Lowe: Right.

Riggins: So...

William Lowe: Well, I got to do all of it so I was, I was very fortunate.

Riggins: Yeah. Being a one-person show there. Right. How did teaching languages change over the years? This may not have come about until after Dr. McNab but things like having a language lab, did that help?

William Lowe: Well, we've had the language lab for-- even before we moved out of Kenan, when we were over there. Uhm... over the years, there was an increasing emphasis on the spoken language, uhm...

Riggins: Interesting. So, before, it was written and...

William Lowe: Yeah. Uh huh.

Riggins: ...reading.

William Lowe: And it, it was a difficult transition for me because, you know, my background was such...

Riggins: The old...

William Lowe: Yeah, I was not supposed to be able to speak a word of German until I was about a junior into my major and then I had to have uh... two semesters of conversational German so-called. Uhm... I had had classes where the lectures were in German and that was not a hassle but uh... really the, the emphasis in Chapel Hill in those days would have been on the literature and mostly the literature, if the truth be known.

(tape change)

Riggins: William Lowe, speaking about your career here and the changes you observed over in the Department of Foreign Languages as well as at the university and what's been going on in your life in general. These are some of the topics we'll cover for the rest of the tape.

William Lowe: Okay.

Riggins: Uhm.. but you were saying that the way you were trained was much different than the way you came to teach students yourself.

William Lowe: Yes, yes.

Riggins: So there was a change in your department, more of an emphasis on spoken, spoken German.

William Lowe: Uh huh.

Riggins: Were you involved in any associations like, I think there are some North Carolina foreign languages teachers association.

William Lowe: Yeah, I never joined that one. Uh.. there was uhm.. Sons of the Modern Languages Association and some things like that. But uhm.. I've never been that much of a joiner, to tell you the truth.

Riggins: I think a lot of professors belong to that. You kind of do your thing, do your teaching and that's something you do by yourself.

William Lowe: Right.

Riggins: So, uhm.. there was more of an emphasis on teaching the spoken word. What about travel did there come to be an interest in study abroad as more students enrolled?

William Lowe: Yes that came along, uh huh. Uhm.. as I say, I was fortunate in the courtesy of Uncle Sam and the army uh.. I was able to live in Germany for about a year, for about a year and a half, so that was a big help. But I think in order to achieve any kind of fluency, certainly in German and probably any other foreign language, you're going to have to be in a situation in which you are totally immersed in that language for a while.

Riggins: Uh huh, oh I agree. I agree. I lived in France. French was part of my major, not here but somewhere else, and I taught there after college for about eight months in the schools and uhm.. I learned a whole lot.

William Lowe: Yes.

Riggins: And I was definitely thinking in French, speaking with all of the teachers in French. It was no question. But now it would be much more a struggle to do so.

William Lowe: Well, if you don't use it, you lose it, is how I think the saying goes.

Riggins: Definitely, definitely. But, uhm.. and then uh.. as you're here did you observe more students participating in study abroad?

William Lowe: Yes.

Riggins: Getting more involved.

William Lowe: Uh huh.

Riggins: That was partly, I think Dr. Leutze had a real interest in that.

William Lowe: Yes, he did and Jim McNab uh.. spearheaded that as far as the language department was concerned.

William Lowe: Uh huh.

Riggins: Getting those professors involved, faculty involved. Uhm.. did you get to see Dr. Leutze at all?

William Lowe: Not really, no.

Riggins: Yeah just by side or professionally. Yeah, by then the school was much bigger.

William Lowe: Oh, yes, uh huh.

Riggins: Uh huh and he had things he was putting forth and doing.

William Lowe: Uh huh, uh-huh.

Riggins: So, you retired from here in 1999 is that right?

William Lowe: Right, uh huh.

Riggins: 1999. So you saw quite a bit of change.

William Lowe: Did indeed.

Riggins: When you finished your career, where was the department housed?

William Lowe: We were still in Morton.

Riggins: Oh, okay.

William Lowe: We had moved from downstairs to upstairs but that's where we were.

Riggins: Right. And then the new building came up which was, at first, Lakeside Hall and now it's Leutze Hall.

William Lowe: Yes.

Riggins: That houses foreign languages.

William Lowe: Uh huh.

Riggins: So, yeah that came up it must have been a couple of years after you left.

William Lowe: The uh.. the plans for it to be called Lakeside were plastered all over the department when I left but I don't think they'd even started construction at that point.

Riggins: Right, right, yeah. Did you get a chance to travel since the time you went there? Did you get a chance to go back to Germany since your time with the service?

William Lowe: Uh.. yes, I've been back several times and uh.. I guess two years ago my wife and I took a trip together. We had never traveled together and so we went on a tour and I'd never done a tour either.

Riggins: Wow.

William Lowe: And it was-- it cost an arm and a leg but it was very posh and very, very well done. But, uh... we spent time in Vienna. We spent time in Budapest. And, we spent time in Prague. Uh... I had been in Austria but I had never been to Vienna and uh.. of course the language was of no use to me in any place except Vienna.

Riggins: Right, right (inaudible).

William Lowe: Uh huh.

Riggins: Yeah.

William Lowe: But it was fun to see all the places.

Riggins: See all the places you had studied. Uhm.. by the same time you must have gotten along with uhm.. well I don't know if you-- I'm sure you didn't agree on everything professionally but personally with Dr. Beeler [ph?].

William Lowe: Yes.

Riggins: Yeah, he had a similar--

William Lowe: He's a close-- he's got a son who is my son's age.

Riggins: Oh, okay.

William Lowe: And they were competitive swimmers together, so...

Riggins: So you stayed in touch that way.

William Lowe: Yeah, uh huh.

Riggins: I interviewed him as well.

William Lowe: Right.

Riggins: I think I told you and he had some really good stories too about when he went to Paris in 1949.

William Lowe: Uh huh.

Riggins: And studied everything that he had learned about and he just seems like the classic professor.

William Lowe: Right, he very much is, uh huh.

Riggins: Very serious and wants to get everything right.

William Lowe: Uh huh.

Riggins: About what he's telling and a great memory which I guess is helpful in foreign language learning to have a good memory.

William Lowe: Well there's a lot of memorization involved, no doubt about that.

Riggins: Were you involved with any clubs, student activities? Did you direct any (inaudible)?

William Lowe: Uh.. for a while I was a faculty advisor to one of the fraternities because they did not-- I had not joined a fraternity and I had to in order to be an advisor.

Riggins: Oh, okay.

William Lowe: So, I did that for a few years, um...

Riggins: What about athletics did you attend athletic events? Were you much of a spectator?

William Lowe: I was a spectator primarily for the swimming.

Riggins: Oh, right.

William Lowe: Since my son was a swimmer.

Riggins: And he swam here at--

William Lowe: No, he graduated from the Air Force Academy.

Riggins: Uh huh.

William Lowe: In fact he was captain of the swim team there his senior year and swam from the time he was I guess about six years old until he left here and then went to the academy.

Riggins: Right, right.

William Lowe: So, now he says it's-- I said "Christopher, don't you ever miss working out in the pool?" He says, "Nope."

Riggins: Those days are behind.

William Lowe: Well, ya know, truthfully it is tedious. I've very dutifully went over to the gym five days a week for quite a number of years and would swim laps for, maybe 1,500 to 2,000 yards uhm..

Riggins: Was this in recent years?

William Lowe: Uh huh, uh huh.

Riggins: Yeah, to recover.

William Lowe: Still had a heart attack.

Riggins: Oh.

William Lowe: But I had quit swimming at that point so that may have had something to do with it.

Riggins: But still you had had that--

William Lowe: Yeah, right it might have been a really bad heart attack had I not done all that exercise.

Riggins: That's true. That's scary. Yeah, that's true. So there's-- yeah, it can be.

William Lowe: But you know when you're swimming you get in your lane, this black line that goes down the middle and you can see that and you don't really hear anything except the noise of the water. And you swim to a certain point and there is a little cross-hatch there which means you're supposed to do your flip turn and come back and do the next lap. So it's sensory deprivation in a way to a degree but I'm glad I had the opportunity. That's a nice facility over there as far as new tutorium [ph?] is concerned.

Riggins: Oh, yeah, yeah, the new student rec center.

William Lowe: Uh huh.

Riggins: Yeah, he would have been able to take advantage.

William Lowe: Well, this was in-- this was in the-- I don't know what's over there now.

Riggins: Oh, in Hanover.

William Lowe: In uh.. well whatever, what's it called, Trask.

Riggins: Uh huh.

William Lowe: In that complex, uh huh.

Riggins: Right, uh huh. That's still where the pool is, yeah.

William Lowe: Yeah, right, I didn't think they had moved it but I don't know.

Riggins: I was thinking...

William Lowe: Dave Allen was the coach.

Riggins: Right.

William Lowe: In fact, he was the first coach.

Riggins: Right, yeah, the pool is still there. There's no pool in the student rec center. Yeah, it's nice. It really is. I've been over there a few times.

William Lowe: Uh huh.

Riggins: So, well speaking of recreation exercise what have you been doing since retirement? I know, unfortunately, you've had some health issues.

William Lowe: Well, nothing. I was very, very blessed in that within six months, yes I had a heart attack and a stroke but both of them were light. Yeah, right after I retired.

Riggins: Right.

William Lowe: And I thought, you know, I never should have retired. It's not healthy.

Riggins: Yeah.

William Lowe: But since then, knock wood, I have been in perfect health so I have no complaints whatsoever. And I manage to stay busy. Uhm.. I haven't done it for a couple of years but for the first several years after I retired uh.. I tutored at one of the elementary schools here.

Riggins: That's great, yeah.

William Lowe: Uh... and that was fun until the very last year that I taught and they, instead of letting me do the things that I had been doing, they gave me a one-on-one bit with a little girl who did not know a word of English and I did not know a word of Spanish, so it was frustrating at the very, very least.

Riggins: Yeah, I mean you have to-- I guess ESL teachers do it but they know all the techniques and the pedagogy.

William Lowe: Yeah, right. I taught German out here for 35 years so there was nothing to prepare me for that.

Riggins: Right.

William Lowe: Uh... and some of the little kids that I had worked with many were Hispanic and uh.. they were delightful, eager, bright. There was just no-- there was a barrier between me and this little girl and that kind of turned me off from that for the time being, so I had to quit there. And uh... I do a great deal, I started to say gardening. I don't garden. I do yard work and my wife does the gardening but we spend a lot of time working in our yard.

Riggins: Right, right.

William Lowe: So that's fun. And we're both relatively active in the church so we stay busy.

Riggins: Yeah, you've done some traveling.

William Lowe: Yes, uh huh, have done some traveling.

Riggins: Visiting some family.

William Lowe: We're going to-- we're hoping we'll celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary uh... in another four years I guess it is and so our 50th wedding anniversary present (inaudible) and we'll probably do it before the fact but we're going to take another trip. Jane has never been uh... in Germany at all so I would like for us to go over and, you know, maybe do uh... one of the Rhine boat trips and the castle tours and that kind of thing.

Riggins: Yeah, well that sounds great. And James is your son?

William Lowe: Jane.

Riggins: Jane, oh your wife?

William Lowe: Yeah, my wife uh huh.

Riggins: Oh, she's never been, right.

William Lowe: No.

Riggins: Right, so you'll get to go and show her all the places that you've either been to or learned about.

William Lowe: Yeah.

Riggins: Yeah because last time you went you didn't go to Germany you went to-- last time you were overseas.

William Lowe: Went to Vienna, yeah, uh huh.

Riggins: Yeah, okay, well that sounds like a great opportunity. And you have one son?

William Lowe: Yes and we have a daughter as well. Our son Christopher just had his 40th birthday and he's feeling very elderly.

Riggins: Uh huh.

William Lowe: But he is in Chicago with his new wife and two new stepchildren who we're very close to. And our daughter Whitney is in Atlanta and working right now with a private school doing some teaching and primarily uh... speech pathology.

Riggins: Working right in her field.

William Lowe: Uh huh, uh huh.

Riggins: Right that's fabulous.

William Lowe: So, she's going to-- she said next year we're going to starve to death because she's going to have to take off the full year from teaching in order to be able to collect this Master's, so she's pretty well through with the coursework I think or will be at the end of the summer but then there's a practicum and, you know, that kind of thing.

Riggins: Yeah.

William Lowe: So, she says "I hope we don't starve to death." And I said, "Well, I can possibly float you a small loan."

Riggins: Good luck with that.

William Lowe: Uh huh.

Riggins: He said, oh, wow, I know how it goes in the education field but she's doing, you know, that other field will also be a great bonus it sounds like. Uhm.. any closing thoughts? I always like to ask about people because sometimes that makes people remember things and my being in the library I tend to want to hear about how people viewed the library. Did you know Helen Hagan?

William Lowe: Yes.

Riggins: Yeah.

William Lowe: Yes, I did indeed.

Riggins: What was she like?

William Lowe: Nice, nice lady, really very nice. Uhm.. and then, of course, Gene Hugelet came on after her.

Riggins: Yes.

William Lowe: And he was nice and like everybody else very capable.

Riggins: Uh huh.

William Lowe: Uh.. my experiences with the library from start to finish were just unbelievably good and favorable.

Riggins: Did you work with the library at all to get books for your department?

William Lowe: No.

Riggins: You probably had to do some selection.

William Lowe: Right, uh huh and sometimes it was kind of difficult because you know trying to figure out what would the students actually be able to use. And honestly I'd have some of the standards. You had to have Goethe and you had to have Schiller. But the average student was not going to be able to sit down and read Faust in the original. So, you know, sometimes some of the stuff I ordered was a little bit way out. But there was a German magazine called Stern uh.. Helen Hagan called me one day. She says, "Bill, would you come over here? I've got a problem." So, what in the world? So I went over and she says, "I don't know what to do about this magazine." Well, it had a full frontal nude male on the cover.

Riggins: Wow.

William Lowe: I says, "Well, I think maybe if you're uncomfortable with that, the thing to do would be just not put it on the shelf and wait until the next issue comes back."

Riggins: Uh-huh...that's a good story. Is that a popular magazine?

William Lowe: Yes.

Riggins: That's a good story, so that's what you did.

William Lowe: It's very expensive and at one point in time uh.. due to uh.. finances we couldn't afford to continue the subscription, so I don't really know what their--

Riggins: Yeah, I'm not sure if we get that now or not.

William Lowe: Uh huh, uh huh, but you never what Stern is going to do next. You know they've published supposedly the Hitler diaries that were fakes.

Riggins: Yeah.

William Lowe: And uh.. you know you name it they've done it.

Riggins: Right, right.

William Lowe: It's a very unusual magazine.

Riggins: But again that may have been useful in the classroom.

William Lowe: Well, a student would pick it up if nothing else simply because it caught their eye.

Riggins: Certainly, yeah, I would think assigning assignments based on popular topics were always more appropriate at least when I studied languages.

William Lowe: Yeah.

Riggins: So you certainly got to know Helen Hagan, Louise Jackson.

William Lowe: Yes.

Riggins: Yeah, I've heard-- I've worked with her briefly but she's just a wonderful person.

William Lowe: She really is.

Riggins: Goes the extra mile.

William Lowe: My wife was always exceedingly grateful because Louise would help he so much trying to get books for the school of nursing and Jane would try to keep up and keep ahead. The trouble with a field like that is you buy the book and before you know it it's completely out of date so then you have to get rid of it.

Riggins: It's changing all the time.

William Lowe: Yes, uh huh.

Riggins: Yeah, the medical field for sure is that way.

William Lowe: And you know if you pick up a work in German chances are it's going to be around until the book falls apart.

Riggins: Right, right that's not going to change in the same degree, yeah, the classics or the, you know, topic, grammar text or something like that.

William Lowe: Uh huh.

Riggins: So you got to know certainly people from the library.

William Lowe: Well, I read a great deal. I always have and so I would come over and they'd say, "Oh, you came over to pick up your trash reading haven't you?" I read a lot of current fiction and, you know, strictly for entertainment.

Riggins: Right, right, mysteries.

William Lowe: Yes, uh huh.

Riggins: Guilty pleasures, why not?

William Lowe: Right.

Riggins: Yeah and you're still-- you still read.

William Lowe: Yes, I do uh huh.

Riggins: You enjoy that. Now, uhm.. well Gene also enjoys reading.

William Lowe: Yes.

Riggins: Yeah, he says that's why he got into libraries. He likes books.

William Lowe: Oh I'm sure, right.

Riggins: And then he learned there's a whole lot more to it than just reading books. I can't read books all day. Yeah. Anyone else who you suggest I talk to? I've gotten some good names from you, for example Inga Steitz [ph?].

William Lowe: Yeah.

Riggins: And her husband, I thought, was in foreign languages, but I wasn't sure.

William Lowe: Yes, they both were and, of course, Ken is dead; died with a malignancy.

Riggins: Right.

William Lowe: Uh.. but Inga is still around.

Riggins: Okay.

William Lowe: Uh..

Riggins: I put a call in.

William Lowe: We tease each other because her birthday is in December and so she ages one year ahead of me in December and then I catch up with her in May.

Riggins: Uh huh.

William Lowe: And so I'm always talking about my elderly friend, Inga.

Riggins: Right.

William Lowe: And I could only do that until the middle of May.

Riggins: And then she talks about this young one.

William Lowe: Yes, uh huh.

Riggins: That's good. And, yeah, Ms. Campbell who was in native French she's not--

William Lowe: She's gone.

Riggins: Okay.

William Lowe: I don't know where she is.

Riggins: All right. Uhm.. I actually did put in a call to Teresita Parra. She's still teaching part time, so... but I'm going to talk to her for sure. She seems-- she was very enthusiastic about it.

William Lowe: Uh huh, uh huh.

Riggins: Uh.. and uh.. can you think of anyone else? I know I'm kind of putting you on the spot here.

William Lowe: Uh..

Riggins: Your wife, of course.

William Lowe: Yes.

Riggins: I want to call her.

William Lowe: Uh huh.

Riggins: She was faculty in nursing is that right?

William Lowe: Yes, right, uh huh.

Riggins: For a long time did she-- okay. I'd like to talk to her.

William Lowe: The equivalent of 23 years full time and part of that was part time, so it was actually a greater number of years but uhm... when she did retire she had the equivalent of 23 years of service out here.

Riggins: Uh huh. Okay, well I'll certainly look forward to speaking with her. And, I've already talked to Mary Bellamy. She was delightful.

William Lowe: Yes, yes.

Riggins: And to Dr. Beeler. Dr. McNab has retired.

William Lowe: Has he really?

Riggins: Yeah, yeah, so I talked to-- I interviewed him as well. He just retired this year.

William Lowe: Oh, for heaven's sakes.

Riggins: Right, right.

William Lowe: Well at one point, and it probably still is, he and Elizabeth were planning to go to France to settle. Did he mention that?

Riggins: No. I think they will live there and they're probably going to sell their house in Wilmington and have some kind of tie to the United States but probably not in Wilmington.

William Lowe: Okay.

Riggins: But he has-- but that will-- yeah, I think he will end up going there, so I'm glad I talked to him because who knows when he'll be back if ever.

William Lowe: Uh huh, uh huh.

Riggins: So that was really interesting talking to him.

William Lowe: Well, he has two sons and I presume they're both in this country still.

Riggins: Uh huh, yeah. Actually one of them I think is very international and lives in Geneva uhm.. because he studied Spanish in college at UNC and, you know, so he's tri-lingual in fact.

William Lowe: Yes, uh huh.

Riggins: Yeah, but I met his wife too. She's very nice.

William Lowe: Yes.

Riggins: So, uhm.. it seems like he certainly has made a lot of contributions but, yeah, he's retired and looking good. Uhm.. John Stokes I did speak too. I had a little bit of trouble with the sound in the beginning of his tape so I want to catch him again and redo part of it. I know that didn't happen this time. Uhm.. but I really appreciate your reflections and your discussion of your career which lasted at UNCW from summer of 1964 till probably what--

William Lowe: Ninety-nine.

Riggins: July 1, '99.

William Lowe: Uh huh.

Riggins: Did your department have a celebration for you?

William Lowe: Yes, they had uh.. I'm trying to remember. I retired and Carl Paris [ph?] retired the same year so the department had a party uh.. prior to our retirement.

Riggins: Do you know if he stayed in Wilmington?

William Lowe: I feel sure he did.

Riggins: Oh, okay. Do you ever go to the retired faculty association?

William Lowe: No.

Riggins: You choose not to socialize with (inaudible).

William Lowe: That- that part of my life really is behind me.

Riggins: Yeah, yeah.

William Lowe: And I'm moving on and having a grand time.

Riggins: Right, right. Well you might enjoy it. I know some people who haven't gone and they only, you know, they have their dinners on Christmas and then in the spring and it's kind of a nice time to see everyone again. You might enjoy it just every now and then.

William Lowe: Well you might enjoy talking with Dave Warner.

Riggins: Yes, yeah, I have-- I would love to.

William Lowe: He's going to be 91 or 92 very shortly.

Riggins: Uh huh.

William Lowe: Uh.. and he's quite a character.

Riggins: But he's doing-- he'd be up for it. I'd love to, yeah.

William Lowe: Uh huh. He's on a walker now but he goes over to cardiac rehab class. And believe it or not he could prop his walker in front of the treadmill and, you know, he's not running or anything like that but he can get on the treadmill and walk right along holding onto the rails.

Riggins: Yeah, wow, and he was in PE.

William Lowe: Yes.

Riggins: I definitely would need to talk to him as well as Mel Gibson, although I'd have to check and see the status.

William Lowe: Yeah, I don't know Mel. I know who he is but I don't know where he is or anything else at this point.

Riggins: Uh huh, uh huh, definitely. Well thank you for those suggestions.

William Lowe: Indeed.

Riggins: I'd be pleased to send you a copy. That's what we generally do with these tapes. Would you like it to be on DVD or?

William Lowe: We don't have a DVD.

Riggins: We can do it on VHS.

William Lowe: Okay.

Riggins: Okay and uhm.. that way would you like perhaps a DVD for one of your kids if they have DVD?

William Lowe: No.

Riggins: No. They can watch the VHS when they visit.

William Lowe: Right.

Riggins: All right well I thank you very much. Do you have any other thoughts or questions about your time here?

William Lowe: No.

Riggins: It was very--

William Lowe: I've enjoyed it thoroughly.

Riggins: I enjoyed it. I learned a lot. It was very helpful to me and I look forward to contacting Jane.

William Lowe: Okay.

Riggins: Thank you very much.

William Lowe: My better half quite literally.

Riggins: I look forward. Thank you very much, Mr. Lowe.

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