Walters, Dr. Eleanor 1 of 2 11/2/99
By Tara Zachary
This is an interview for the Mississippi Oral History Project. The interview is being recorded with Dr. Eleanor Walters in her residence on November 2, 1999. The interviewer is Tara Zachary.
TZ: Okay Dr. Walters if you would go ahead and tell me your name and when and where you were born?
EW: I am Eleanor Boyd Walters. The Boyd is from my grandparents. I was born in Gunnison, MS in 1914, March 28th. So I am eighty-five years old going on eighty-six.
TZ: How did your family, well you were born near Gunnison?
TZ: Right, how did your family come to be in the area?
EW: Well originally my great grandfather was a doctor. He was born down in south Mississippi, but he moved up to Concordia. Then he died at a relatively young age. He married, I think he had married before he came there, but they lived in Concordia. Then my grandmother, his daughter, was ten years old when the Civil War broke out. My grandfather, Boyd, who became her husband later was born in Ireland. His family, most of his uncles had moved to Canada before he was born. His father died just before he was born. His mother was still in Ireland. Her brothers just insisted that she come to Canada to live. So she immigrated there. When my grandfather, Boyd, was about eighteen, he didn’t like the cold weather in Quebec. They were also trying to make a match between him and the Coltur girl. He said there had been too much inter-marrying between the Boyds and the Colturs. He thought it was too much of another Colt marriage between Colturs and Boyds. Anyway he didn’t like the cold weather. So at eighteen he left Quebec and came into Vermont. Well it was just as cold in Vermont, so he just coming south. He ended up across the river, the Mississippi River, from Concordia, which was the town then. He worked over in Arkansas. Then he came over, and he helped build the levy that they had along the Mississippi River on the American side. When the Civil War broke out he joined the McGee Rifles, which was a group from the Gunnison area. They were going to fight in the southern army. My grandmother, who later married him, was ten years old at the time. She said to her mother, “That poor young man didn’t have anybody to tell him goodbye.” That was because all of the other people had relatives. She went up to him and kissed him and told him goodbye. When the war was over, he came back and looked her up, and they married sometimes after 1870. Grandpa lived to be eighty-six years old. He died in1916. My grandmother and him had several children who were born in the 1870’s. That was a year when so many people were dying of I don’t know if it was flu or what. The babies died. So she had two or three children who were buried when they were less than a year old in the Concordia cemetery. Then my mother came along, and she lived to be a good old age. She married shortly after 1900. A man who was related to the people who owned to property next to where my grandparent’s property was, but he only lived about three years. So she was a widow then. Then my father who was from over around Grenada was working for the levy board. He was a surveyor. He and my mother married around 1911 or 12, somewhere along there.
TZ: What was your grandparent’s name?
TZ: What was your grandmother’s maiden name? What was her name before she married?
EW: My grandmother, she was a Dean. Her father was Dr. Dean who had been born in southern Mississippi, and he had moved to Concordia as a doctor there.
TZ: She was Sally? Sally was that her name?
EW: Sally Ella Dean Boyd
TZ: What was your mother’s name? Her given name?
EW: Mary Loudie, she was named for the daughter of a Dr. Peas, who was a close friend of my grandparents. So she was named Mary Loudie.
TZ: And your father’s name?
EW: Jerry Edward Walters, he was originally from Sylvia, MS, which is over outside of Grenada. I don’t think there is a town there now. His mother moved to Blue Mountain, but he never lived in Blue Mountain. He was a surveyor with the levy board out of Greenville.
TZ: Did he continue that after?
EW: No he farmed. Now when we had high water, at the time the levies were liable to have what they called boles. That water would come up from the waterside of the levy. If a bole got to big, it would cause the levy to collapse. Every time they had a high water, the people from Greenville who were the surveyor would call him, and they would have him set up the plans. They had walkers, for instance in 1927 and again 1937 when they had real high waters, they had people who walked a mile strips stretches back and forth all day and all night. Of course different ones did it. I mean they had two groups. Then my father had a big size motor boat with a good motor. He made the trip in 1927 from the Bolivar County south of Rosedale to the Cohoma County line. Every day he went checking the river to make sure there was no danger of boles or anything like that. He did that every time we had a high water. I can remember on the front porch over at the house north of Gunnison, the river was up high enough that I could see the heads of people in motor boats or rowboats. I could see it on our front porch. It was high, but we never had a break from it. Daddy did that every time we had a real bad high water. He had originally been doing that type of work because he was with the levy board.
TZ: What did your family raise on their farm?
EW: Mostly cotton at that time, but later on of course they begin raising soybeans and things like that. At the time I was growing up, cotton was the main crop. I remember one year when we had such heavy rains that they couldn’t get the cotton pickers into the. The people couldn’t go in and pick the boles out. I think that was in 1937 or something like that. Anyway the men on the place would go pull up the cotton plants, and they would bring them to their houses. Their wives would sit on the porch of the cabins and pull the boles out the cotton. I will never forget that. That is the only time I have ever seen that done. The way they usually picked cotton they did it by hand, but they went out in the fields. The fields were so wet that they couldn’t do it.
TZ: They probably didn’t mind that as much, at least they got to sit down.
EW: No they probably didn’t. The women didn’t have to go up and down the rows. I will never forget that year. You would drive up and down Boyd lane, and the women would be sitting on their porches pulling cotton boles out of the plants.
TZ: So you said your parents were married around 1912.
EW: Let me see do you have that. I’ll get it. I know where it is. It is right over here. The date of the marriage is on there because Ruth had to have all of that for her D. A. R. papers.
TZ: We don’t know the exact date just to know about when. You say about 1911.
EW: Yeah I think it was. Now where in the world is all of that. I don’t know how I got it so mixed up. 1911, yes that is right.
TZ: All right, do you know possibly how old she was at that time, your mother?
EW: Yes, she was born in 1881. 1911 would have made her thirty years old at that time.
TZ: Where did she go to school?
EW: She went to school up in Memphis. I can’t remember the name of the school. It is no longer in existence.
TZ: Was it Ward? No that is still in existence.
EW: No I don’t remember the name of it now. It was a girl’s school that was up there. Once upon a time I knew it, but it has been so long since I thought of it I don’t even remember the name of it. See if I can find anything more about her. Now her first marriage to Mr. Steal was very short one. He died oh about 1909 or 10 something like that. I thought there was some more information in here. I guess most of this stuff was what Ruth was using. She was using Daddy’s side of the family to get into the D. A. R. She had more information on that side. He was born in 1886. That was my father. My father was born in 1886. He died in 1948. Mama was born in 1881.
TZ: Do you know what she did? Cause she was married when she got married? So do you know was she a teacher?
EW: No she lived at home. See she grew up on the same place that we live on now. I mean that my family lives on now. My father had been a surveyor with the levy board. That is how he met my mother. She was a widow then, and so they married in 1911.
TZ: What was the house like that you grew up in?
EW: It was an old time house. It was a two-story house. It had porches practically all the way around the house. They opened up to the back part of the house and the front of the house. I can remember as a child we could walk all the way around almost all the way around on the porch without getting out in the weather. It had a big front hall, and on one side was a living room and the other was a parlor. Then on the back of that were two bedrooms. Then the stairway that went upstairs. There was a big attic, of course. Everybody had attics in those days. That is where things were kept. One room that had been a bedroom, but our family used it for trunks and things like that. Then there were three bedrooms upstairs. Two bedrooms downstairs and a dining room and kind of hallway/pantry between the hallway and the kitchen. Then there was what they would call a parlor in the front of the house. Later we made it into a bedroom. Then my father built back, this was before the time we had air conditioning or anything like that. So he built a two room sleeping porch that had walls that came up about that high and then it had screens up above then wall. In the summers we moved out. My three sisters and I and my mother and father moved out onto those two sleeping porches and slept. We didn’t have any problem. We did eventually have electric fans. It was a pleasant way to sleep at night because at night it cooled off enough that you were really very comfortable. So I grew up sleeping on that sleeping porch. My father’s brother after W.W.I., he came back and lived with us and helped with the farming and all.
TZ: Who was that?
EW: Whites Walters, he finally married, but he lived only about five or six years after that. The lady whose husband had died and who needed somebody to help look after her place.
TZ: How many sisters you didn’t have any brothers?
TZ: What were your sister’s names, and how do you fall in?
EW: I am the oldest. Then my sister Dell is next to me. She is two years younger. She was born in 1916. Then Ruth was born in 1919. She was born right after the terrible flu epidemic. The amazing thing is that everybody in our family had flu. My father’s flu went into pneumonia. He was really quite sick at the time, but everybody had flu but mama. She was pregnant with Ruth at the time. It is amazing she didn’t take it. She didn’t. We had a nurse that lived in Greenville. She was originally from Indiana. Whenever mama had a baby or anything or anybody was sick, Scottie would come and looked after us. She was there during the flu epidemic. She was just like a member of the family.
TZ: Now did at any time did you live or did your grandmother live with you all?
EW: Oh yes she lived with us. We lived with her. We lived in the old family home. Yes, she lived with us till she died.
TZ: Do you know about when she died?
EW: I could look it up, I have forgotten exactly when it was. It was in the 1930’s. It was right about 1930 because she had been to Greenville. Daddy had taken her to Greenville to get her eyes checked. The doctors said she must come back. She had to go to Memphis to the doctor. She was to have caderac surgery. That was back in the days when caderac surgery was very severe. They didn’t have anybody in Greenville at the doctor’s office to do it. So they had to take her to Memphis. At that particular time when you had a caderac operation, now when you have them you just leave the doctor’s office, go home, and go back the next day to get him to check you out that is it. Back in those days when you had caderac surgery there was one surgeon in Memphis, Dr. Ellit. He was the only one in this area who did it. Grandma had to stay in the hospital two week with pillows on both sides of her head. She had to lie flat on her back. She could not turn her head or anything. Then she went out to her granddaughter’s house, my cousins, and stayed another two weeks up there. She had to go back to the doctor every day for him to check her out. It was really an ordeal, but it was successful. I will never forget how thrilled she was when she could still read after that surgery. Now of course, I have had it, it is no problem at all. Back in those days it really was something. Then she died several years later. She was able to enjoy being able to read sometime after her surgery.
TZ: Tell me about what it was like to grow up in the house and your family there? What are the kinds of things you all did?
EW: Well it was fun. The thing I remember the most about it really I guess is the fact that our doctor, Dr. J. D. Simmons, who later moved to Cleveland, and died over here. When he came back from WWII, and took over the practice at Gunnison. He was one of the most remarkable people I have ever known. I was about five years old. I just loved him. In fact, mama used to say if Dr. Simmons told you to jump out of the window, all you would do is say which one do you want me to jump out of. When he was starting the practice there after the war it didn’t do any good for him to go to bed before midnight because he was sure to get a call way out in the country. So about 1920, my father bought a Delco Light Plant. We had electrical lights before they even had them in Gunnison. We had them some years before. When radios came into being. Daddy got a radio. Dr. Simmons would come up every night and listen to the radio with us. We would go on off to bed. The children would have to go earlier. Mama and daddy would go to bed. He would stay there till midnight. He would leave word with the telephone operator in Gunnison where he would be. So if he got a call. At midnight he would go home if he hadn’t got a call. He would lock the front door and go on back to their house. Mama said that every time that I knew the sound of his car. That every time that car drove in the yard, I would go get my tea set. I would sit at the front door of the living room. When Dr. Simmons came in he would get down on the floor and have a tea party. Then he would go and listen to the radio. So she said it wasn’t a wonder that I thought he was the best man in the world. Oh I thought he was wonderful. We had wonderful experiences with him. About the time I finished college he came over to Cleveland to practice. He died over here. Of course farming was very different from what it is now. You don’t have all the equipment you have. My father farmed. My uncle when he came back from the war came and lived with us. He was from of course out in the hills where my father was born. He helped with the farming and did everything like that. I can remember it was my job to sit at the radio. As I said we had a radio before they even had electricity in Gunnison. Daddy and Whites, my uncle, were both baseball fans. This is when they didn’t have any local teams or anything like that. They kept up with the professional teams like the Cardinals and the Yankees and the Giants and everything. So when they were out on the place during farming season, it was my job to sit at the radio and take down all the scores and report to them when they got in. I guess that is the reason why I am so crazy about baseball now. Since I have been back over here in Cleveland when baseball season starts if you want to find me when there is a baseball game going on you would go out to Delta State. I park right in line with the line from second base to third base where I can see Mike Kennison who was one of my majors and he is a coach. Where I can see every sign he made to the players, and I could watch the baseball games. I had the funniest experience first year I was over here, and I had a chance to do that. I got to the game, and I had gotten mixed up. I thought it was the first game of the season, and we were going to be playing Milsaps. I sat and watched the game, but of course I couldn’t see the players were. I didn’t know the other teams colors or anything. We won the game 19 to 4. I came home and called Ray Wilson who used to teach with me and also was one of my students. I told him that I was so thrilled over that game, but I felt kind of sorry for Milsaps. He said, “Eleanor that was not Milsaps, that was Ole Miss we were playing.” I tell you I was so thrilled over that. I didn’t know what to do. I thought it was Milsaps because I had looked at the schedule wrong. We had beat them 19 to 4. That was really something. So when baseball season starts this spring that it is where I am going to be out watching the game.
TZ: What did you all go into Gunnison for? Could you go into town often?
EW: Oh yeah, we were just about a mile and a quarter from town. In bad weather and in the spring of the year when the water is up in the river we used to have a lot of problems with seep water. I don’t know whether you know what that is. That is water that seeps under the levy and out. It makes the ground so muddy. Of course that was before they had gravel roads and things like that. This was back when I first started to school. We lived to close to town for the school buses to pick us up. So somebody had to take us to town to school particularly when I was starting school. When the roads got to bad, you could not drive them because you would get stuck. So we had to go in a buggy. We had a yardman who drove the buggy, and he would drive us to school. He would drive me because that was before Dell and Ruth had started. One time it got so bad, you could not even ride along the road. So we had to go upon the levy. We would have to ride on the levy. I remember once or twice daddy had to take me on the motor boat, and then I would have to walk from the top of the levy in Gunnison to the school. We made it to school all of the time.
TZ: Now your house was on the inside of the levy. Isn’t that right?
EW: No it was on the outside.
TZ: It was on the outside.
EW: It was right across from the levy. It is exactly where it is now. That is the house I grew up, well it is not the house I grew up in because that house burned when I was a freshman at Delta State. I had just come back from Christmas holidays on a Sunday, and on Sunday night the house burned. Then my father had a house rebuilt exactly in the same location. The original house is no longer there. It burned in 1930.
TZ: What was the school like that you went to? What school did you go to?
EW: I went to school in Gunnison. In fact they had a high school until after I graduated. I think after Dell graduated. I am not sure about. I think they had one after Ruth graduated. Yeah I know they did. They had a school in Gunnison as long until after I started teaching here in 1943. Eventually they closed that school. The reason that I know that is Mr. Bell, who was the superintendent in Gunnison taught for me over a couple of classes, one summer when I needed to be away at graduate school. He was my high school Latin teacher. He was a marvelous teacher, a remarkable one. He was one of the best I have ever come across. So I had three years of Latin in high school. In fact I was going to major in Latin when I came to Delta State, but I had already had what they taught the first term of 1930. They wouldn’t let me take it. So by the time that quarter was over, I was so impressed with the woman who was teaching mathematics here, that I changed my major to mathematics. The Latin teacher who was here at that time was an older woman, and she was getting too far up in years to be a very good teacher. As I say I couldn’t sign up for the first course because I had already had it in high school. The woman who had come the year that I came here as a freshman. I guess the most remarkable person I have ever come across as far as intellect is concerned. She was from Texas. When she came here to teach, she couldn’t have been more than twenty-two years old. She already had her bachelors, her masters, and her doctorate from Rice Institute in Texas. She also had a year of postdoctoral study at the University of Munich in Germany. She was remarkable.
TZ: Who was this?
EW: Dr. May Hickey. Do you know that every chairman of the mathematics department at Delta State since it opened, except for one year when somebody from the physic department served as chairman when somebody left, before I came back here to teach. Everyone has been a woman. I don’t suppose there is another school in the country where that is a case. Certainly not a co-ed school, but when I was chairman of the department, I was the only woman chairman in a co-educational college in the United States. Everyone has been a woman. The very first one was Dr. Julia Dell, and she had just left to Duke University. She was to have been married a professor at Duke. She died that same year. They could never be married. She died very suddenly. So when I went to Duke to school, of course I knew a lot about her. I never had a course under her because she had left the year I came, just before I came to the school. This other woman was truly remarkable.
TZ: What did you all do for fun and social activities growing up and in school?
EW: When I was a small child, we cut out paper dolls. We had whole families of paper dolls. You know Sears and Roebuck Catalog and things like that you got all sorts of things. Mostly I read. Mama said I had my head in a book, every time she looked around that is what I was doing mostly. Then I played bridge some when I was in college. I don’t play it now at all, but I did for a while. I had two friends, two girls who were about my same age, who went to school at Ole Miss. Mostly I read. I never was active in sports or anything like that. I read almost constantly. In fact mama would get a catalog from, there was a book company that was up in Kansas City. She would order or get them to send her a copy of each new copy of each new catalog. She knew that if I didn’t get books for Christmas I was going to be disappointed. So I read most of the time. I played bridge some. I was never active in sports or anything like that.
TZ: You said, of course you had people who lived on your all land and helped you all farm. Do you remember anybody in particular?
EW: Oh yeah, the couple who had lived in what was once an overseer’s house was up through the orchard past the orchard. We had a fenced in orchard, and it had a path that went up to the barns, where the horses and cattle were kept. Johnson, Henry Johnson had come to work for my grandfather Boyd right after the Civil War. He and his wife, Alice, lived in this what had been an overseer’s house. We just loved them. The washing went out on Mondays and came back on Friday. His wife, Henry Johnson’s wife, did the washing. Sometimes mama would need something before Friday when it would usually come back. So she would let us go up to Alice’s house and get it. Always if I did, or three of us or two of us went up we would always say before we left if Alice ask us to eat dinner with her may we do it. She would say sure, but don’t you ask her to ask you. Though if she ask you to eat dinner, you can do it. So a lot of times when we would have to go up there we would eat. Alice would say, “I am just fixing dinner. How about eating dinner with me?” So we would do that. They were wonderful people. They really were. I will never forget them. When I was about ten years old, apparently they ask mama if they could give me a compact for my birthday, and mama said yes. So the first compact I ever had, Alice and Johnson gave me. He was one of the most interesting people. He was about my grandfather’s age. About 1880, sometimes along there, he saw a copy of the Commercial Appeal. He started subscribing to it, the Sunday edition. Every Sunday morning he would put on an old Prince Albert suit that my grandfather had given him, and he would walk to town. They lived just north of where the Boyd Lane House is. Ruth lives there now. He would walk to town and pick up that paper at the post office. The post office wouldn’t be open, but the people who delivered those Sunday papers would leave them there. He would pick up his paper and walk back. My Uncle Whites was so impressed with the fact that every Sunday he went. That he wrote the Commercial Appeal and told him about this black man, who had been subscribing to them since about 1880. They sent a reporter down from Memphis to interview him and published his picture in the paper. They were two of the most remarkable black people that I have ever known. They really were. We just thought they were wonderful. We had several others on the place that worked for us that we knew real well.
TZ: Did you all ever play with their children?
EW: Yeah, there was one who played with me. She would come and kind of well it was not like babysitting, because she was about my age maybe a little bit older. She still lived in Gunnison when I first moved back over there in 1979. She died two or three years later. I went by to see her. For instance, I had a lot of hats, and I would quit wearing hats. White women do not wear them anymore, unless it is cold weather or something like that for protection. So I went by her house, and I said, “Do you still wear hats to church?” She said, “Yes, I do.” I said, “Well all right I am going to bring you some.” So I took all the hats I had. Then later she came by and visited with me. Then she died several years later. I can remember that I was at the Methodist Church in Gunnison. I was playing for church, I guess or something. As soon as church was over, her funeral was right after our church was over. As soon as church was over, I went over and went to the funeral. I can remember. I was sitting up. They showed me a place where the choir would be, I think. The blacks have long funeral services and all. I asked when everybody else had what they wanted to say to say. I ask if I could talk about her a little bit. I said, “She was the person that I was closest to when I was a child, and I want you all to know how much I am going to miss her.” She was wonderful black girl when I was growing up. We played together all of the time.
TZ: What was her name?
EW: Right now I can’t even think of it. I don’t know why. Her parents worked on the place.
TZ: When did you start thinking about going to college? Did your parents?
EW: I never did think about not going.
TZ: They encouraged you.
EW: Oh yeah. You see when I entered Delta State in 1930. It was right after the bank failures in the late 1920’s. My father when each one of us was born, he started putting money in an account in our names. So when I got ready to go to Delta State, the bank had failed a year or so before. Just before I got ready to go, they had reimbursed us for what we had lost in there. So my father had taken a deposit card down with my signature on it, and so when I went to Delta State, he said now I bought your textbooks and you use it for your fees and everything like that. So I did. When I came home at Christmas time, bless pat the bank failed again. It had just closed. Well at least I got the use of my money, and daddy said, “No you didn’t, because every time those checks went through they didn’t take it out that account. They took it out of mine.” So I never did actually get to use it. Eventually I think we got reimbursed again. I had been so pleased that I managed to use at least part of that money. Daddy believed in putting aside money for everybody’s college fees. I used that. I probably wouldn’t been able to go to school if it hadn’t been for that in that particular time because that was back in the depression years. I entered Delta State in 1930.
TZ: What do you remember about the depression?
EW: Well I just remember that money was real tight. You didn’t have a lot of extras. You were very careful with what you had. When I came to Delta State, I started working for Mr. Wert Williams who was head of the History Department. I was a history major. So he needed someone to grade papers, and what you got back in those days was ten cents and hour. So I graded papers all through my college four years for Mr. Wert. I recorded; you had to do so much reading a week in his history classes. So I kept records of that and everything. He was a wonderful person to work for. I really enjoyed him. He was a wonderful teacher. In those days, college students could get into a movie for twenty-five cents. So if I went to a movie, I used some of that money I made grading papers to go to it. You didn’t have a lot of things you could spend money for. We had some really interesting programs at Delta State. For instance, the Russian Kazacs back performed at Delta State. We had a two piano team gave a program there. We had some real good programs there. Then when I came back to teach, the first year I was there, the fall quarter of 1943 the Van Trap Family did their very first American program at Delta State on a Friday night. The Baroness and the girls stayed in Cleveland Hall, and I was living in Cleveland Hall at that time because when I came back here to teach their was no residence hall for women teachers at Delta State. Cassidy Hall hadn’t been built. It wasn’t built until 1950. Women teachers had a lot of difficulty finding a boarding place in Cleveland. They would take men, but they didn’t want women. I guess they thought they would be around under their foot too much. I lived in Cleveland Hall my first years of teaching. I was on duty that weekend because the Ms. Crawly, the housemother, had the weekend off. I took one weekend a month, and kept office. So the Baroness and I spent all day Saturday in the office together. I just had the best time talking to her. She didn’t look anything like the one who played in the Sound of Music. She was kind of older and a heavyset person. She was a lovely person. Father Rotunda had made arrangements to have his regular service early that Sunday so that the Traps could have access to the church because they traveled with a priest. So when she started to leave the building at ten o’clock, she came in the office, and she said, “Would you like to go with us?” I said, “I said will that be all right?” She said, “Yeah, we would like to have you.” So I ran upstairs and got my hat because those days you didn’t go to a Catholic Church without a hat on. We walked down to the church. They did the entire mass. They sang the entire mass. Father Rotunda, the Catholic priest here, and Mary Katherine Gerald who was member of that church and on the faculty at Delta State and I sat there. We got to hear the Trap family do an entire mass. I will never forget it. It was the most memorable experience I had ever had. I think. It happened right here in Cleveland. Of course at that time the church was on South Court. Now it is out in the edge of town. I read in the paper that they were doing a history of the Catholic Church here. So I got to thinking somebody ought to know about that, and I bet there is not a soul here who knows that happened. So I called the priest, and he said why don’t you call Mike Aggoussi. So I called Mike, and he said oh yeah we would love to have that. So I wrote it all up, and it is in there in the new history of the church. That was one of the most remarkable experiences. They were to perform at Ole Miss on a Monday night. So they ask if they could stay over here before they went to Ole Miss. So that is what they did. I will never forget them.
TZ: That is something.
EW: That very first American performance, it was the very first performance after they escaped from Austria. I have been over in Austria, and seen the route that they took. I have been by the convent that helped them get out. They show it in the movie, The Sound of Music.
TZ: Let’s go back to when you first came to Delta State as a student. What was the campus like?
EW: Well there was Ward Hall and Cleveland Hall and three old buildings, the Hill Demonstration school, Hardy Hall, and Taylor Hall. Hardy Hall was where the men’s dormitory was. Taylor Hall, well the bottom floor was the bookstore and post office, and the second floor was the infirmary. Then the top floor had a few men faculty members in it. Cleveland and Ward Hall were the dormitories and Broom Building was it. That was all that was here. It has really grown tremendously. Of course Taylor Hall and Hardy hall have both been torn down, and the Demonstration school has been torn down. They were there even after I came back to teach. It had once been an agricultural high school those buildings that had been. That was all that was here.
TZ: How did you decide to go to Delta State?
EW: Well I never did have any idea of going anywhere else. At that time it would have been the least expensive place for me to go. There was no history in my family of anybody going to M. S. C. W. or any thing like that. Back in my mother’s time, as I say she went to school up in Memphis in a boarding school up there. Other than that none of the rest of the family had ever been to college or anything of that sort.
TZ: When you were in high school did you ever come to Delta State for anything?
EW: No, you didn’t get that far field back in those days. You know. We would ride around the countryside and that sort of thing. I just assume that is where I would go to school.
TZ: What do you remember about the first day that you were on campus? What it was like?
EW: Well I was in Cleveland Hall. I remember coming out the door of Cleveland Hall. This wasn’t the first day of school, but it was shortly after school started. I remember coming out of the front door of Cleveland Hall to go to class, and Dr. A. L. Young who taught Sociology here was coming toward me. He was the first person on this campus except somebody in the dormitory to call me by my first name. I will never forget it. Every teacher at that time was saying Ms. or Mr.. They didn’t call you by your first name in class. There was not another soul on the campus that had ever called me by my first name except for Dr. Young. I will never forget that. I was so pleased to know that he knew my first name. Of course the enrollment was very small then.
TZ: About how many students?
EW: I don’t imagine there was much more than about a hundred and fifty if that many. Maybe not that many, but it is not anything like it was later on. Of course when I came back in 1943, we didn’t have anywhere near the number we have now. It has grown tremendously in the last few years.
TZ: What was Cleveland like, having come from Gunnison? Was it a bigger town to you?
EW: Oh yeah, it was definitely a bigger town because Gunnison wasn’t that big. My mother had very close friends who lived on the same street on Leflour. The same street that the First Methodist Church is on. They lived in a house, the first house, right on highway 8 coming into Cleveland. The two families, my mother’s family and these people’s family had been property owners over at Concordia. Aunt Mini and Uncle Sam, I had always called them Aunt Mini and Uncle Sam. They at one time lived in Greenville. I remember when I had my tonsils out when I was about six years old. Mama and I had two stay in Greenville several days, and so we went out and stayed at Aunt Mini’s and Uncle Sam’s. Then they moved to Rosedale and then on to Cleveland. Her father and my mother’s father had been friends for many, many years. This man, her father, Mr. McGee, owned property down next to Boyd lane. When he would come down from Memphis to check on it, he always stayed with my grandparents. So the families had been friends for two or three generations. Every weekend that I didn’t go home, every other weekend I would walk out to their house. Then Uncle Sam would bring me back to pick up my suitcase and I would spend the weekend with them. The next weekend I would go home for the weekend. So over a period of two or three years that is what I did here. So I felt that I had a home away from home over here. They were wonderful people. Of course they both have been dead for many years now. They were good to me when I was a freshman. Of course after that freshman year I spent most of my time on campus. Freshman year I went home pretty frequently or out to their house.
TZ: Do you remember anything you did in town? Like you said you all went to the movie. That is was twenty-five cents to go the movie.
EW: We would go to a movie from time to time. Of course I went to the Methodist Church, and we had Sunday school class and everything. I went to all the things that went on there. Not much else was going on, as far as being in town was concerned. Back in those days you didn’t have a lot of money to go to some place to eat or anything like that. We were eating in the dining room at Delta State.
TZ: What kinds of things were there to do with school like plays?
EW: We had plays. As I say we had Lassiem numbers and things like that. The Russian Kazacs was there. Two piano teams and things like that were there. We had some real good programs, art programs.
TZ: So you said you started out as a history major?
EW: But I became a mathematics major that same year. So I had a double major. Actually I had more hours in history because there was different types of courses taught in history than in mathematics. Though I was a double major, and I have taught both of them. In fact when I went to Pensacola, FL to teach just before W. W. II. I taught just about everything. I went to Pensacola just before the war was declared. I went down to teach mathematics. When war was declared in December, we had several teachers whose husbands were in the Navy. They were transferred to California or some where like that. I was certified to teach bookkeeping, history, and math. So it got to the point when I would pass teachers in the hall when I would come in on Monday morning or any other morning if I would pass anybody they would say, “Now just who are you today?” I would say, well, today I am teaching bookkeeping or something else. If the teacher was not in service, her husband was in the service or something like that. So I taught a mixture of things down there. In fact I had one social science class in which there was a girl who was in the Philippines. Her father was in the service. She was in the Philippines when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. She said that in their back yard a plane crashed. She and her mother saw it. Well that is a mighty close call. It really is. I was boarding with a couple in the Methodist Church that first year, and the man and I were singing in a performance of an unity production of the Messiah. They had the rehearsals that year at the Baptist Church. So Byron and I, Edith, the wife, had brought us and dropped us off at the Baptist church for the rehearsal that afternoon on the December the seventh. When she came to pick us, she told us that Pearl Harbor had been bombed. I never will forget that. Believe you me the next day she was the D. R. E. at the First Methodist that I went to. It was just about two blocks from school. So usually after school in the afternoon I would just walk down to the church and grade papers and fold bulletins. I would ride home with her when she got off work. The next day after Pearl Harbor, the sight in down town in Pensacola was entirely different one because up until that time the servicemen who came into town didn’t have to wear uniform. So you didn’t know you were passing somebody in the Navy. I went down that afternoon, everybody I passed, every man I passed, was practically was in uniform. So it really made a difference. It was an overnight transformation. I was teaching a Sunday school class there, and my Sunday school boys came in uniform the next year. Some of them I didn’t even know were from the Naval Air Station, but they were.
TZ: Who were some of the professors or administrators here from when you were a student?
EW: At Delta State?
EW: Well Dr. May Hickey was one. Dr. A. L. Young was Psychology. Mr. Wert Williams was head of the History department. Dr. Tatum was a history teacher. She was a remarkable one. She is the one that the man up in Missouri who was writing the history about teachers called me about. The Latin teacher was Ms. Pittman, but she retired the next year. Evelyn Hammit, and Dr. Kenneth Daughrity, that is one that the building is named for. Mary Margaret Fuguler was the Speech and Drama teacher. There were not a whole lot of faculty members. I mean there was not as many anything like they are now. The fellow who taught German, he was the coach, but he was also of German descent. He was the one who taught German. I can not remember his name now. It will come to me later. Eda Met Devit was in the music department. Chauncy King was in the music department. He taught voice. He is the one who began the Delta Singers. I was teaching in Shelby, my first year of teaching after I had graduated. I had been taking voice from Chauncy. So I continued. I could get away from Shelby once a week, and come down. I could catch a train. Fortunately there was a train that come down to Cleveland about three o’clock in the afternoon. I could leave school a little bit early. I didn’t have a class after three o’clock. So I could take the three o’clock train down here and have my voice lesson. I would sleep in Cleveland Hall, and the night watchman would wake me up by tapping on my window in time for me to get up and dressed for the three-thirty train going back to Shelby. Mr. King called when I came one day, and he said that he was going to start a choral group. It is not to be a permanent thing, but it is to sing for a music educator’s conference down in New Orleans this spring. We will do one or two concerts on the way down. He asked me if I could get a way. I said I would talk to my superintendent. So I talked to Mr. Wertman, and he said yeah. His wife could teach. She was former mathematics teacher. She could teach for you that week or two. So I came down then every week and practiced with them. I told Mr. King, “I don’t want to take any place of any student.” He told me not to worry with that. If you can not come or be in the group there will be twenty-four, but if you can be in it there will be twenty-five. Of course I have taken voice lessons from him. So he was concerned. I was in the original Delta Singers. Which was started before Delta Chorale. It has been in existence since 1935. Of course it is not called that anymore. The other things have taken the place of that.
TZ: So you knew that you were going to be a teacher from the beginning?
EW: Oh yeah, when I was in the fourth grade, I remember telling my mother I am going to be a teacher like Ms. Anderson. I didn’t mean I was going to be a fourth grade teach, but my fourth grade teacher was a wonderful person. I finished grammar school in six years. I did first and second grade in one year, and third and forth grade the next year. Then I went on. Ms. Anderson was my third and forth grade teacher. I knew I was going to be a teacher. There was no question in my mind about that.
TZ: So were you sixteen when you graduated from high school?
EW: Yeah, and I was twenty when I graduated from college. I started going to Duke in the summers about 1935 and finished my masters there about 1937. Then I got my doctorate in 1950 up in Columbia. I started teaching at twenty. I taught Shelby four years. Then I taught two years in Hernando. Then two years I was in Pensacola. Then I came here to Delta State from 1943 until 1979. So I spent forty years on the Delta State campus.
TZ: Did you teach in the Demonstration school while you were a student?
EW: No I did practice teaching in schools around the area. Now the elementary teachers did there teaching in the demonstration school. The demonstration school was not a high school.
TZ: So you were planning to teach high school?
EW: Oh yeah I knew that (Tape cut off.)
TZ: So you graduated from Delta state when?
TZ: And went to Shelby and taught.
TZ: Is there anything about you being a student at Delta State that I haven’t ask you about that you might remember or want to comment about?
EW: I don’t think so. I think I said all there was to say. I just was happy here every year that I came.
TZ: So then you were teaching, and tell me some about Pensacola and W. W. II and how you came back?
EW: It was the most interesting place to teach. I really enjoyed my two years there. I had expected to go back. In fact when I left Pensacola that June well the last of May to come back here to teach, I just came back here supposedly to teach one summer term of school. Mr. Kethley called and asked if I could get back in time to teach the first term of summer school. I talked to Mr. Wertman, the superintendent at Pensacola, and he said yes. If you get your grades in and everything you can leave before school actually closed. There was no problem about that. I remember the last thing he said to me, “Now don’t you let Bill Kethley talk you into staying up there.” When I came, I just really came, and that is what he ask me to do, to come and teach the second term of summer school.
TZ: This was in 1943?
EW: 1943, the summer of 1943. Whoever who was doing the mathematics at that time like I said was that was the only time there was ever a man chairman of the department. Well somebody who was actually in the Physic’s department was teaching but needed to be away that summer. By the time that term of summer school was over that man had left. He was leaving. So Mr. Kethley said could you go on. I know you want to do college teaching. Could you get a release from Pensacola? Well I will call Mr. Wertman and ask him. So I called him. He said I know you want to teach in college eventually. I am not going to stand in your way. I can find somebody to take your place in the math department here. That is how I happened to come to Delta State. I stayed there until 1979. Except for the one-year that I spent up at Columbia on a General Education Board Scholarship. That is when I got my doctorate. I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. I stayed here.
TZ: What was Dr. Kethley like?
EW: He was a very friendly person. He was a very good president. Actually because of the time he spent here at Delta State, I really think Kent Wyatt has done the most remarkable job for Delta State that has ever been done. Of course he was president longer that anybody else has been. I have taught under every president except for the very first one who was Jim Broom. He only lived one year after he became president in 1926. That was before I came to college. I have taught under every other one. I really think Kent has done the most remarkable job because he has been on the job longer. He really has done a tremendous. Of course I am kind of prejudice, because he was one of my majors too. I have had some awfully good students in the math department. Some really remarkable ones, one of the most remarkable ones is one that you wouldn’t think is that remarkable. Have you met Will McNichols?
TZ: I don’t believe so.
EW: Well he is now chairman of a whole department at the University of South Florida. He is considered one of the top people in his field. He came here as a freshman in the 1950’s. We were still registering over in what had been the Library at that time. I remember he was coming to the table that fall, and he told me that he wanted to be a mathematics major. I said, “Well tell me what you have had in mathematics in high school.” Well he had dropped out of high school after the tenth grade. So he didn’t graduate from high school. So all he had in high school was Business Arithmetic and one year of high school Algebra. I said there is just no way you can be a math major because you would have had both years of high school Algebra and Geometry to be able to handle the freshman work. He said, “Could you get me high school textbooks?” I said, “Yes, I think I could.” So I called Cora Bobo, who was Jim Ed’s sister. She also taught up at Cleveland High School, and I ask her to send me a high school Plane Geometry and second Geometry. So I gave them to him. I said, “Now if you have trouble with any of this, come on by the office, and if I am not here somebody else will answer questions.” He would come everyday, and he would sit in the Otter Office. That is when we were in Bailey Hall. He would work, and if he needed to ask a question he would come in and ask about it. The first course he took, the first semester of College Algebra he took. He managed to get by with a “D”. Do you know from that time on he was almost a straight “A” student in every mathematics course he took? So I have often said he was the most remarkable student that I have ever had. He was also the Outstanding Alumnist several years again. He was here again this Homecoming. I got a chance to see him. He and Henry Outlaw had ridden over here back in the 50’s on motorcycles from way over in East Mississippi. They came in. That was when Ms. Katie Mauldin was the Registrar. They came in the building to register. She took one look at them. They were just, it had been kind of rainy and the mud had spouting on them. They just looked horrible. She said that she wasn’t going to register anybody looking like that. You go over to Hardy Hall and you tell the housemother, Ms. Carpenter, to show you where the showers are. You all change clothes and come back over here, and I will register you. Though I am not going to register you looking like that. So they did, and they registered. Henry Outlaw taught there for years. As I say, this other fellow, Will McNichols, has lectured all over the world. He majored in math here, but he went into some phase of Psychology or something like that was connected with mathematics. It was with the mathematical aspect of it. He has lectured at Cambridge University in England a couple of times. He has lectured in universities in the Philippines, in Japan, in China, in England at Cambridge, the University of Munich in Germany, and is considered one of the top people in his field all over the country. I will never forget how surprised to find out he was able to do what he did with the background he had you know. He had been in the service in the fifties, and when he got out he came to college. He is a remarkable person. He really is. His nickname was “Wimp”. Everybody called him, “Wimp Nichols”. When he was picked as the Outstanding Alumnist several years ago, they asked me to introduce him. I said this is one person I really am delighted to introduce to you because what he has done is something I didn’t think anybody could ever do. He did it. He really is remarkable. He was here at Homecoming this year. He came by to see me.
TZ: What was? You came in the middle of W.W.II. What was the campus like then?
EW: Practically no men. Almost all women. Then when the war was over, they started coming back. A lot of my majors were an ex-serviceman. Some of the best ones that I had were boys that came back after the service. One of them was the most remarkable student, Richard Howe. He was originally from Greenville. He came back, and he was an excellent student. He got his undergraduate degree here and his masters at Mississippi State. He did some teaching over there as a graduate student. Then he got his doctorate, and he began teaching down in Louisiana. He was in mathematical statistics. He was doing the statistical work on a certain type of cancer that a company up in Pennsylvania or New York State was developing the information about everything. Do you know by the strangest thing, he developed the same type of that he had been doing the statistical work on.
TZ: You were telling me about the student.
EW: He developed exactly the same type of cancer. He was doing the research for this company, and also helping in this work out in the M. D. Anderson, part of the research involved with that. He died several years ago now. He was one of the best students that I taught. He was the smartest student. I have had some others who were just as good as far as being students were concerned. He was really remarkable.
TZ: What changes did you see over time that you were there because you were there for such a long period of time?
EW: Well the main thing I think is the extremely large growth that went on there. As far as the atmosphere is concerned there is still the same friendly atmosphere on campus that there was when I was a freshman there and all the time that I taught there. That is the thing that has pleased me the most. I was so afraid that when the enrollment began to get bigger and bigger that things would be not as friendly and all. Do you know of course the last year or so I haven’t done that much walking around on campus because I don’t walk around much. When I was living over in Gunnison, and if Katherine Keno had to come over for anything, I would drive over with her. I would just eat lunch there in the union. She would go on to whatever meeting she had to go to. I would get out and walk around the campus. Every student that I passed would speak to me. They didn’t have the slightest idea who I was. That I had any connection with Delta State or anything, but they still spoke. That really pleased me because it always was a friendly campus. I was so afraid when the enrollment would get as large as it did that might change you know. I haven’t found that to be the case. When I have talked to Dr. Potter, I told him that I hope he will keep it that way because it has always been like that. The main thing that I see is the tremendous growth and buildings and all that sort of thing in the curriculum with the increasing student body you can have so much more of that. The atmosphere is still the same. That is what I am thankful for. It was always a friendly campus.
TZ: Do you remember any maybe changes in the curriculum, or whenever things going through a accreditation or something like that that was particularly significant?
EW: I will say this that Delta State has never had a problem with accreditation. It has always been okay. When the committees would come and go over the curriculum and all that sort of thing. They were always just amazed at how well everything went. They would tell us not to change. It has always been very highly rated as far as accreditation has been concerned. I think it has a very good reputation as far as that part of it is concerned. The committees that have come have been very complementary always.
TZ: What about Dr. Ewing? You were under him to? What kind of administrator or manager was he? What was his style?
EW: Well Dr. Ewing was a little bit abrupt when you would talk to him. I had no problems with him. I got along fine with him. In fact I will always remember one thing about him that I never cease to be grateful for. He called me into his office one day, and he said Dr. Walters there is somebody in here that I think you ought to talk to. I know you have to put part of Boyd Lane’s income into your income tax returns and everything like that. There is a man in here who is with a company out in Texas, an investment company. That you can have a certain portion of your salary paid directly into that fund with them. Then you can start drawing on later. So I started with having about hundred dollars a month taking out. Then when salaries began to get better, I ended up having three hundred dollars a month. So as long as I was teaching, until 1979 I had that amount put into this investment. In 1984, it matured. Now I draw nearly nine hundred dollars a month from that. It is guaranteed for my life, but guaranteed for twenty-five years. So it will be still going that far in another two thousand five. It will go to my sister, Dell. There is no telling how much more is in that investment that I put into it. I have him to thank for that. He knew what the situation was you know. He was abrupt, and he had some rough corners to him and all. I think he did a good job here. People would get upset with him about things, but I never did have any problems with him. I just thought sometimes he was a little bit stern or something like that in something he did. I still say that I think Kent has done the best job of anybody, but of course he has been president longer to. Mr. Kethley was a good president. Of course we had two or three others in between. We have always had good head people here I think.
TZ: What do you remember about Dr. Wyatt as a student?
EW: He was an excellent student and an excellent basketball player. That means a lot to me to. I am a basketball fan, as you may not know. When they first started basketball after W. W. II, of course they didn’t have women’s basketball back in those days. I started going to basketball games. Virginia Thompsom who was the president’s secretary at that time, Doxy Shula who had taught in the English department and I went to most of the off campus ball games if they were held on the weekends. There was a boy in school who would drive for us. We were a little afraid to be women out on the road you know at night. So we went up to Kentucky to ball games and down into Florida. We went into Arkansas and Alabama in those areas. We didn’t miss a basketball game. Of course the first basketball coach was John Ray Ricks who I had gone to school with. So we were real interested for that reason. Now I still go to the basketball games. I don’t miss them. Then when women’s basketball started at that time the man who was president here was the one who went back to Southern Miss to become president there. He was the one who called me into his office one day, and he said what do you think us starting a girl’s basketball team again. They stop playing girl’s basketball back in the thirties when Ms. Kane was head of the Physical Education Department because everybody was saying that basketball was too strenuous for women. It was just going out of style. So practically everybody cut out women’s basketball. Aubrey Lucas thought that maybe we needed to start a woman’s basketball team again. That is when he called Margaret Wade in, and of course Margaret Wade had taught high school basketball. She was teaching in the physical ed. Department, but she had never coached a college women’s basketball team. She said, “Dr. Lucas I haven’t coached in years now.” He said, “Yeah, but you were mighty good coach. I think you can do it.” So they started it, and that was in the 1970’s. When the time came to play in the National Tournament, Delta State was invited to the National Tournament. A whole bunch of us went. Ruth and Jim Ed went. No they didn’t go to that first one. They went to the next one. I flew up with a couple from Pace who were real big basketball fans. They rented a car in Washington D. C. where we were to change planes. So I rode with them to Stanton, Virginia. That is when Delta State won the first women’s basketball National Championship. I never will forget how excited Dr. Lucas was and everybody else. The Richardson, Alice Richardson and her husband were up there. Every night during the tournament they would call back to Cleveland and tell about what had gone on. By the time the week was over, there were about two hundred people from Cleveland up there. Cars would come in everyday with three or four people in them. So the Richardson’s decided that on the last night after the last tournament they would have. They got in touch with some place where they could serve a lot of people. They gave a dinner for about two hundred of us. I can remember I sitting across the table from Dr. Lucas, the president. He was so excited. He said, “I know you are.” I said, “Yes sir I really am.” That was really a remarkable thing. They won that first tournament. Then they won three straight.
TZ: So you have always enjoyed sports here?
EW: Yeah, to be a person who never took part in any sports, I have always been a sports fan. Of course we had boy’s basketball before that starting about 1950. Kent played on the basketball team at that time.
TZ: I can remember you telling a story once about Boo Ferris and him pitching. You would listen to it.
EW: In 1950, Boo pitched his first World Series game. I had a College Algebra class of boys who had just come back from the war. They had enrolled. In fact I taught an extra load that quarter because we had another section, but it was full. We couldn’t put anymore people in it. This was about seven boys and one girl who needed to get a course. So I went down to the Dean and said, “Is it all right if I put in another section.” He said, “Yes, if you are willing to take an overload.” I said, “Well I am.” So it was that class, with about seven boys and one girl. I didn’t know Boo at that time. I just knew he was from Shaw. I just thought you know that is something that they really ought to hear. So I went down to Mr. Kethley’s office, and I said, “I don’t know if you are going to improve of this, but I am going to do it anyway. I am going to bring my radio over, and we are going to listen to that Shaw fellow pitch his first World Series game.” Mr. Kethley said, “That is fine. I will be down there to listen with you.” He came, and we listened. Boo won it. I have never forgotten that. I didn’t even know him at that time. I just knew who he was. One of my classmates, James Flack, was the one who started him to pitching because the coach who had been at Shaw had him at first base because he was pretty tall you know. The first basemen are usually pretty tall. When James Flack went down that year to coach, his first year of coaching. He moved Boo from first base to pitching. So Boo always said that James Flack really started his career as a pitcher. Otherwise he probably would have never had pitched.
TZ: Sometimes there is a culture in a department. What was the relationship like in the Math Department when you were there?
EW: I think very much the same as they are here. I know when I was Chairman of the department the head of the English department at that time who later went to M. S. C. W. to teach told me, “Your department as far as working with student’s is concerned is the best department on the campus. I have never heard a student complain about ever having any trouble going in and asking questions.” What I have always told my people, was that if I look around in these offices and I don’t see students coming in to talk to you, I think there is something wrong. Actually all of them were very inclined to work with students. They encouraged them to come in, and if it wasn’t anything but just to talk a little bit. I used to look around the department offices, and if I didn’t see students going in and out, I would have said something to them about it. Fortunately they all did it. Now it wasn’t necessarily that they needed help on anything, but they just needed to talk about what was going on in their lives on campus and that sort of thing. Do you know that Ray Wilson still has students coming out to him to his house all the time? It is mostly the athletes because other athletes tell him about how good Ray is with working with him. So they have people coming in and out all of the time over there.
TZ: Is that right?
EW: I just don’t believe in. I remember there was one woman teaching in the English department. Thank goodness she only stayed one year. I guess the head of the English department knew what she was like after she got here and started teaching. She told me one time. I was talking with her in the Union one time. I didn’t have much contact with here because she was here just that one year. I said something about students coming in the office. She said, “Well my opinion is that you prepare your lecture, you go in, and you give it. You walk out that door, and you don’t see those students again until the next time the class meets.” I said, “It’s a good thing you are not teaching in the mathematics department because you wouldn’t last very long.” She didn’t last but one year here. That is just exactly the wrong attitude. I remember being over at Ole Miss one time when they dedicated a new mathematics building to Dr. Pickelstaf. They invited mathematics departments from all over the state to come over to the dedication. The new department head was showing me through the building. He showed me the places that the graduate assistance had and the classrooms. I said, “Where are your professor’s offices?” Oh they are up on the third floor. I said, “That is a mistake. Students are not going up there.” He said, “Yeah, but they need to be up there where they can do there research without interruption.” I said, “I hate to tell you, but a teacher’s job is not doing research. It’s teaching. You need to have them down where the students can get to them.” He didn’t agree with me. That is what I think. If you are going to do research, then don’t try to teach. If that is all that you are going to do, but I always thought you needed to work with students.
TZ: I think once you were telling me about some work you did around the state with Math Teacher Association or something like that. Can you tell me something about that?
EW: Yeah, back in the fifties elementary teachers were having problems talking about the new math and all that sort of thing. They were needed somebody, so I was appointed a kind of a State. You wouldn’t call it a supervisor because I got no salary for it or anything like that. They ask me to go around and do some work with elementary teachers. It was about that time that the idea of open classrooms had gotten over here to this country. It started over in England. The English people called it open classrooms. This was in the 1950’s. I was traveling over the state and talking to elementary teachers about teaching math and that sort of thing. Well in fact we were doing some off campus teaching credit courses to our math elementary teachers. I was doing a lot of that. Then when this open classroom thing started, they began to start building new schools and not having any walls in them. I thought that is not going to work. So I took a sabbatical, and six-month sabbatical. I was up in Wisconsin at Milwaukee at a meeting of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. There was a speaker there from England. I talked to her, and I told her what people over here thought that meant. She said, “Oh no, that is not what they mean by it.” I said, “Well I am going to take a sabbatical and go over there and find out what is going on.” She gave me the name of the man to write to who could arrange for me to visit schools all over England, and I wrote to him. I went over. He had kind of communicated with people. So I was able to visit schools, particularly elementary schools mostly some (Tape cut off.) Take the children out on the campus and let them measure a sidewalk, or if you are talking about plants and things like that take them out where they could see them. Not just to talk about them, so I came back and believe you me I went all over the state to talk about elementary teachers about that business. I said they don’t mean that kind of open classroom. They don’t mean to take all the walls down. There really were schools that were just tearing the walls out.
TZ: Well Ewing Hall was built like that. It seems like.
EW: It was a misconception you see. They didn’t mean by open literally open. They meant teach out doors if that is the best place to teach. That is true if you want children to measure things. It is a lot easier for them to out side and measure than it is to try to measure in a classroom full of chairs and everything.
TZ: How have you been involved with Delta State since you have been retired? I know you are still involved with things.
EW: Well I am in the Alumni Association of course. I try to go to things that happen on campus. For instance, I go to all the baseball games, and I sit in the car and watch. There is a group of us. We have what we call first Tuesday. Gladys Castle, who used to be the Dean’s secretary started. She thought it would be a good idea if retirees who lived in this area got together once a month, the first Tuesday of the month and eat lunch together. We have to figure out what to do now that we can not go to Cleveland Inn. That is where we have been meeting. We would suppose to be going there today, but nobody knows exactly. I guess we got together and do that. I have done a little bit of substituting once or twice when somebody needed substitution. Mainly I just keep in touch with the faculty. I go to the programs that they have out there and things like that. I go to the Alumni Association meetings.
TZ: Can you think of anything that we haven’t covered?
EW: No I can’t. I can’t think of anything else.
TZ: I guess that will be it then.
EW: I think we have covered a lot of ground today.