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1:01 - Leaving Pulaski

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Partial Transcript: Jay: What were some of your motivations for leaving Pulaski when you chose to do so?

Gladys: To be perfectly honest with you, I didn't--I just decided one day.

Keywords: New York; Pulaski County

Subjects: Christiansburg Institute; Moving to New York

3:55 - Influence of Faith

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Partial Transcript: Jay: Did you go to church growing up? Were you active in the church?

Gladys: Oh, I have always been active in the church.

Keywords: Church; Pulaski County

Subjects: Church; faith; Methodist

5:50 - Family History

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Partial Transcript: Jay: Okay. Was there any other activities you were involved in growing up outside the Church? Anything you and your family, you guys did?

Keywords: Craytor Lake; Draper; Pulaski

Subjects: Black Family; Christiansburg Institute; Pulaski County

10:25 - Early Education

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Partial Transcript: Tyler: Well, let me ask you about your elementary school experience, your early schooling experience. Do you have any memories or anything that stand out from that time period?

Gladys: I have a few. When you say my elementary, I went to Catholic school in Pulaski and they were all good.

Keywords: Catholic; Pulaski

Subjects: Black Education; Christiansburg Institute; Pulaski County

13:30 - A typical day at Christiansburg Institute

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Partial Transcript: Jay: At Christiansburg Institute. Do you remember your first day going there?

Gladys: Yeah. Vaguely I can I remember it. The campus, I guess, was somewhat overwhelming.

Keywords: Christiansburg Institute; Mathematics

Subjects: Black Education; Christiansburg Institute

16:59 - Extracurricular Activities and curriculum at CI

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Partial Transcript: Jay: Do you remember any of your friends or any activities you used to do with your friends while you were at Christiansburg Institute?

Gladys: Yeah, we partied.

Keywords: Extracurriculars; Parties

Subjects: Christiansburg Institute; Extracurriculars

23:04 - The Closing of Christiansburg Institute

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Partial Transcript: Jay: How did you feel when you heard they were going to close the school?

Gladys: You want me to tell you the truth?

Jay: Yes, ma'am.

Keywords: Christiansburg Institute; Closing

Subjects: Black Education; Christiansbug Institute

38:03 - Joining the Alumni Association

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Partial Transcript: Jay: What brought you back from New York, back here to Virginia? Family reasons?

Gladys: Family. My one sister lived here and my older sister still lives here. That was one of the main reasons.

Keywords: Alumni Association; Christiansburg Institute

Subjects: Christiansburg Institute


´╗┐Jay Coman: Okay, I'm here with Mrs. Gladys Sokolow on a beautiful Friday afternoon in Blacksburg. This is Jay--

Gladys Sokolow: Christiansburg.

Jay: Oh, Christiansburg. Excuse me. I'm Jay Coman with Rebecca Middour, my partner. So, Gladys, would you like to introduce yourself to the little thing?

Gladys: Yes. I am Gladys Sokolow. That's it. I live here in Christiansburg.

Jay: Very cool. Well, could you talk to me about where you were born, how long you've been in this area, and what it was like growing up here?

Gladys: Well, I was born in Pulaski County and I lived there for twenty-nine years, then I moved to New York City and I lived there for forty-two years, and then I moved back to Christiansburg in 2002 and I've been here since.

Jay: What did you like about living in Pulaski? Or did you like living in Pulaski?

Gladys: About Pulaski, I looked for a house in Pulaski before buying here, but it's just that I couldn't find. I even owned property there and still do, but I wouldn't build where the property is.


Jay: What were some of your motivations for leaving Pulaski when you chose to do so?

Gladys: To be perfectly honest with you, I didn't--I just decided one day. I taught school in Pulaski and I was just unhappy with the systems, so I said let's see what it's like on the other side. So I left in 1959.

Jay: You must have been pretty brave moving all the way up to New York City from Pulaski. That's a big change. You wanna tell us more about that maybe?

Gladys: Well, I just made my mind up and at the end of April 1959, I moved to New York in Jamaica, Queens--not where all the mess is going on there. I was in higher grounds. I went to see if I'd like it and I did. I said, I'll try to get 2:00a job, and I did. I applied federal, state, and city and was accepted with the state, the federal, and the city. I had the interview the same day. It was a tough decision to make: if I would stay with the city or go with the federal, moving upstate. And I said, well, I will stay where I am. I'm already set up with my house and everything, had an apartment at that time. And that's what I did. I applied at the library and I got the job. That was it. I was there for thirty years. The rest is history.

Jay: The rest is history. Cool, cool. Maybe you can tell me something about your parents? Or if you had siblings growing up?

Gladys: My mom died when I was twelve, thirteen years old. 1945. My dad died in 3:001960. I have two sisters. I had a brother and my brother is deceased.

Jay: Do you still keep in touch with your sisters today?

Gladys: Of course. Both of them. I just talked to one a few minutes ago. She's right up here in Dublin and my other sister is in Chicago. I talked to her last night.

Jay: Very cool, very cool. Maybe you can tell me something about the neighborhood you grew up in? What was it like? Or, did you live in a tight, close neighborhood? Country?

Gladys: It was country. We were close. We were close. The people were very close. There was a good number of neighbors there and we were close. If one had, everybody had.

Jay: Did you go to church growing up? Were you active in the church?

Gladys: Oh, I have always been active in the church.


Jay: Same here.

Gladys: I never grow from that. I can't understand churches today, when I go and see them so empty sometimes. Wonder what's happening there? Oh, I am Methodist born, Methodist bred, and when I die, I'll be a Methodist dead.

Jay: You'd love my mama.

Gladys: [Laughter] No, as I said, I have always been a Methodist. I went to New York, I remained Methodist and joined a church there. When I returned, I went to Asbury. But, I always look for convenience. The church has to be convenient. I figure if I don't have transportation, I gotta think in terms of I might want to walk. I can't walk it now, but that was the intent.

Jay: What type of role did the church take in Pulaski, for example? Did they have a role outside in the community or was it more just religious purposes?


Gladys: We had all that kinds of activities in the church in Pulaski. The youth group, we used to meet every Sunday. They had adult groups and Bible classes, things of that nature. Still here. Right here, I go to Bible study--that's why I don't promise nothing on Thursdays, because Thursday morning I go to Bible study. And Sunday morning, I go to Sunday school and Church and I don't want to hear nothing for those two days.

Jay: Do you teach a Sunday school class?

Gladys: No, I don't. I have not gotten involved with teaching a Sunday school class down here. I have filled in, but I don't. I'd rather let somebody else do it. My teaching days are over!

Jay: Okay. Was there any other activities you were involved in growing up outside the Church? Anything you and your family, you guys did?

Gladys: Of course. We used to take train rides. That was about all they had here 6:00from Pulaski to Draper. That was close proximity and we would take picnics and go out to Claytor Lake. You've heard of that?

Jay: Yes, ma'am.

Gladys: I'm sure. Yeah, we went to Claytor Lake. That's how long Claytor Lake has been in existence. Long time. We used to picnic on the grounds before they got so high-class you had to ask for a specific area. And well, it's that crowded. No, no. It's that crowded. People are engaged. If you want it, you gotta book it. When I was growing up, you didn't have to book it. You Could just go.

Jay: So the days of taking your food down to the river and hanging out are over. You gotta plan ahead!

Gladys: You gotta plan ahead. That's right. I was just up there last year--not for my family reunion. It was my cousin, they had theirs there.

Jay: Did you go to family reunions growing up?


Gladys: Of course. Always. I didn't go to mine this year because I wasn't up to it because I was having back problems, but we had our family reunion in Wytheville. That's where my dad was born, in Wythe County. So I paid my money, I didn't go, I should've asked for it back. But I'm a good Samaritan. Once you say you're going to do something, you are included in a basic cost. When people say, I asked for my money back, no, you shouldn't do that because your name has been included in this--

Jay: When they planned ahead.

Gladys: --group thing that they're doing. So, no, I didn't think anything of it.

Jay: This don't have much to do with the interview, but I'm just curious. What food do y'all have at your family reunions? That's what I always look forward to when I go to a family reunion.

Gladys: Food? Ham, chicken, turkey, ribs, baked beans, pinto beans, potato 8:00salad, coleslaw, sweet potatoes, you name it, rolls, cakes of all kinds. You'd be surprised. Corn pudding. Those are just some of the main things.

Jay: If that won't put you in the church on Sunday morning, I don't know what will.

Gladys: Well we have pot luck, you should come to it. We have a potluck every fifth Sunday, with just what I said here with that. Oh yeah, we have a potluck every fifth Sunday. I don't think they're gonna do it this year--I think Sunday is the 31st. Probably not, because they're gonna have Watch Night service, so having Watch Night service, they probably won't have it. They might. I don't know. I haven't heard a decision made on that yet.

Jay: Very cool.


Gladys: But I'll make whatever I planned to make and take it with me.

Jay: What were you thinking about making?

Gladys: Oh, I usually make-- [Laughter] Sometimes you take a whole meal. No, I mean, I've taken chicken. I've made potato salad. I've made coleslaw. I mean, whatever you feel. A potluck is whatever each person decides to bring. The last potluck, I made ribs because it was summer.

Jay: I love ribs.

Gladys: I do, too.

Jay: Well, I'm getting a little off topic, but I'm interested now. When you moved up to New York, did you miss the food? Kinda the homestyle food?

Gladys: No, because we had the same homestyle food at the church that I went to.

Jay: Oh, really?

Gladys: Oh, yeah. No, no. We didn't do it every fifth Sunday, but about every three or four months, we'd have a family gathering and everybody would bring 10:00something. There, they spoiled. Sometimes they didn't ask the people to bring anything. They just ordered the food and all that.

Jay: They just put it on.

Gladys: That's right.

Jay: Very cool. Well, let me get back to the questions. I'm getting hungry. I'm drooling over here. Don't put that on the tape, Rebecca. Well, let me ask you about your elementary school experience, your early schooling experience. Do you have any memories or anything that stand out from that time period?

Gladys: I have a few. When you say my elementary, I went to Catholic school in Pulaski and they were all good. I remember all my teachers: Washington, Santacruz, Ward, Gardner, Cathy, and Brunner. That was my entire group.

Jay: That's pretty impressive, you still remember 'em.

Gladys: I can give you a biography on all of 'em.

Jay: Was there one teacher that stands out in specific to you?


Gladys: I guess it was Miss Santacruz. That was my second-grade teacher. I mean, they all impressed me, but I would say there was something about her. I wasn't the teacher's pet, though. I could have been, but I wasn't. But no, she made an impression on me. And I liked Miss Ward, and I don't know whether that was because her daughter married my uncle. See, sometimes you don't know what makes the connections, but her daughter had married my uncle, my father's brother, and of course that meant I was close to her.

Jay: Very cool, very cool. When you went to elementary school, did you go to a middle school or was it an all-inclusive school?

Gladys: No, no. It went from first to seventh.


Jay: First to seventh grade?

Gladys: Um-hm.

Jay: You stayed at this school in Pulaski 'til seventh grade and then where did you go to school from there?

Gladys: Christiansburg Institute.

Jay: You want to tell me something about your experience at Christiansburg Institute? [Laughter]

Gladys: [Laughter] Well, first, I'll tell you about the ride. It was at least an hour and a half down and an hour and a half back. I'd say I left home around probably 6:30, quarter of seven. We'd get on the bus and we had to be down here at 8:30 to be in assembly quarter of nine.

Jay: An assembly every day?

Gladys: Oh, yes. I hear them say differently, but when I was coming that was the way it was. Oh, yeah.

Jay: What did they do at the assemblies? What sort of activities?

Gladys: We sang a song, pledge allegiance to the flag, blah blah blah, the 13:00routine things. Even if you didn't do it there, when you went to your first classroom--

Jay: You did it again.

Gladys: And it happened in elementary school, same thing. Um-hm. See, they took religion out the schools, which is not a good thing. It is not a good thing.

Jay: No, it's not helping anybody. I heard that. Can you remember your first day?

Gladys: At Christiansburg?

Jay: At Christiansburg Institute. Do you remember your first day going there?

Gladys: Yeah. Vaguely I can I remember it. The campus, I guess, was somewhat overwhelming because it was huge, but it didn't bother me. Once I met all my teachers, I was satisfied. That was it.

Jay: So you generally liked your experience at Christiansburg?

Gladys: Oh, I did. I had good times at Christiansburg. From 1949, September of 14:00[19]49 to June of 1953. I think about June 3 was when I graduated.

Jay: Do you remember any particular subjects or things you did that were interesting?

Gladys: Mathematics was my thing.

Jay: Mathematics, huh? Do you remember any of the math teachers you had there?

Gladys: [Laughter] I only had one and he taught general math, algebra, geometry, and trigonometry and I had him with all of 'em.

Jay: So the same teacher taught all those subjects.

Gladys: Um-hm. Um-hm. He taught me. Yep. I had math and algebra the first year. The second year I had trig. I made straight As. [Laughter] Give myself credit. Nobody else is going to do it. [Laughter]


Jay: We can't put that face on the tape. [Laughter]

Gladys: Give myself credit. That's right. [Laughter] No, I had good grades in school. That was one of my favorite teachers.

Jay: Do you feel like most of the students at school took pride in their grades and doing well?

Gladys: They tried. I'll put it like that. I think so. They tried.

Jay: Do you feel like the education you got there at Christiansburg was better than some of the other schools in the area?

Gladys: I will put it to you this way.

Jay: Yes, ma'am.

Gladys: I went to Christiansburg for four years and when I left Christiansburg, I'll say I had an equivalence of two years, or at least a year and a half of college. That was the kind of education you got there. You didn't go there to play. You went there to learn. You played when you got a chance. [Laughter] You went there to learn, and you did if you put yourself in it.


Jay: Interesting. Do you remember graduating or leaving?

Gladys: I remember graduating. I could show you a picture. Let me see if I can put my hands on it. I might be able to. Go ahead, give me the next question. I'll talk while I'm looking.

Jay: Well, I was gonna ask you how you got to school but you kinda talked about the busing situation a little bit. You said it was like an hour and a half on the bus?

Gladys: About an hour and a half, because in those days, the speed limits were not--. I can't put my hands on it. But I'll have to make sure you see them.

Jay: Okay.

Gladys: I don't know where they are at the moment.

Jay: Let's see what I got here. Do you remember any of your friends or any 17:00activities you used to do with your friends while you were at Christiansburg Institute?

Gladys: Yeah, we partied.

Jay: Y'all partied. [Laughter]

Gladys: [Laughter] We used to go to dances and things. Give me the latter part of that again.

Jay: You brought up dancing. I want to ask you a question about that because I haven't seen a person dance in Blacksburg since I've been up here.

Gladys: You're kidding.

Jay: I miss that from North Carolina. School dances was kinda everybody getting together, dance, and it wasn't like--

Gladys: It wasn't just at the prom, neither.

Jay: Yeah, yeah. It was kind of a communal thing. Seems like that might have been something that was going on at Christiansburg, too.

Gladys: Oh, no. We had dances, periodically, and I will say little juke joints that people go to.

Jay: Do you remember any of the music that was popular back in the day that you 18:00used to dance to?

Gladys: I was trying to think the other day. No, I can think of 'em but I can't think how they went. Things from the [19]50s and [19]60s, I can remember. I haven't forgotten. When I hear 'em, I know them.

Jay: So you're not going to sing a song for us?

Gladys: No, I'm not gonna sing.

Jay: Did you do any extracurricular activities with the school while you were there? Any clubs, music, sports, or anything else in that respect?

Gladys: Glee club.

Jay: Glee club?

Gladys: Um-hm. And science club and the math. And those were the only three. And that was enough because I couldn't always meet with them because I was busy.

Jay: Making those As in math class.

Gladys: Let me tell you now, I didn't just make As in math. I made As pretty 19:00much everywhere I went. Government, History, English, Biology. I think Biology I made a B. And French, of course, I made a B. But I didn't like the French teacher, so there you have it.

Jay: There you have it.

Gladys: No, as I said, you don't produce if you don't care for the person. I'm sorry, I don't care what nobody--even today, if the child is in a class and they don't care for that person, they're not going to do their best.

Jay: So true.

Gladys: No, I know it. As I said, I taught school. I know.

Jay: Um-hm. But if you get the right teacher that motivates you, you'll run through a wall for 'em.

Gladys: Oh, yes. Oh, yes. Yes.


Jay: And you feel like your teachers at CI fit into that second category for the most part?

Gladys: Oh, they did. They did. I had good teachers. As I said, I don't know of any of them that I disliked or anything of that nature. Some were, I didn't like the subjects, but as far as the teachers per se, oh, the teachers were excellent. But they were strict. They tried. If you didn't make the A or the B, it wasn't because they didn't try. It was because you didn't try. Not them. That was my feeling of it. Nope, I never carried a bad report card home.

Jay: Do you remember anything about the administrators at the school, like the principals and other people involved during the time you were there?

Gladys: Which one you wanna know about? [Laughter]

Jay: You tell me!

Gladys: Well, the principal was okay. I wasn't particularly fond of him, but he was okay.

Jay: Who was it?

Gladys: That was Mr. Banks.

Jay: Mr. Banks.


Gladys: I'm sure you've heard because he came there, I think, probably in [19]49, [19]48, something like that. A year or so before I went there. No, I didn't particularly--I didn't dislike him. I didn't know anything about him. But, I guess it was his way. He didn't impress me. As I said, I liked my math teacher and the biology teacher and the history. But you don't have the same relationship with the principal as you have with your teachers.

Jay: Exactly. Um-hm. How important do you think the people that you interacted with at that school--led to you saying that statement earlier that when you stepped out, you felt like you had two years of college experience. How much 22:00important was personal effort and personal desire to have the school succeed in that process?

Gladys: At that time, people were very into making sure that the kids succeeded. I don't know what happened after I left. As I said, I don't think I went back to the school after I left, after I graduated. I'm trying to think. I don't recall going back. And it wasn't that I didn't want to. It was just that I didn't feel I had a reason to go back. Go on to something else.

Jay: Give you something else. Okay. How did you feel when you heard they were 23:00going to close the school?

Gladys: You want me to tell you the truth?

Jay: Yes, ma'am.

Gladys: Now, I was not here when this came about, because I think I would have-- [Laughter] I probably would have done something stupid. But, no, I wasn't around and when I actually got it, the school was closed.

Jay: It already happened.

Gladys: Yep. It had already happened and that bothered me. That it had closed and the people that told it, they couldn't tell me why. But I knew why.

Jay: Why do you think they closed it?

Gladys: Well, I know why. And you do, too! And I don't have to go into it.

Jay: I know, too.

Gladys: And that's why they closed it but as I said, I guess the part that upsets me more than the closing of the school is that the grounds were parceled 24:00off, and buildings and things of that nature torn down, and it could have been made into what they built right up there in Dublin, a community college.

Jay: I have not read or heard anybody say that.

Gladys: Well, that's how I feel about it. It had more buildings on it than probably New River Community's got. Because some of them, at one hundred and eighty-odd acres.

Jay: That's a lot of land.

Gladys: And twenty-seven buildings and it even had a hospital on it. Okay?

Jay: With a school that's doing such a good job, that has all these things already going for it, the decision to close?

Gladys: Well, to close it was okay. To close it, it had to because of the sign of the times, but to waste all of that that they already had. Why not use that 25:00to further the education? Why not make that a trade school or a junior college? I mean, come on!

Jay: Most of the infrastructure was already there?

Gladys: Yes, that's what I'm talking about.

Jay: The hospital--

Gladys: See, the gym is still there. The gym is still standing. That's where Blue Ridge Timberwrights is, a woodworking place. It's still standing. Along with the E[dgar] A[llen Long] Building which we are trying to get up some day in operation.

Jay: What do you think needs to happen for these things that you're talking about to take place?

Gladys: Somebody has to give us some money since they took the--[Laughter] Watch it! No, I mean it takes money. It takes money. They've been working on this 26:00project for a long time and I'm not happy with that, either. Because I feel more could have been done, should have been done, and has not been done. Why? I don't know. I wasn't here, see? So that's why I can't speak as to why. But I just feel if they had done whatever they could have done when they were given back whatever they were given back, it would have been different. Now I know Jackie [Eaves] wouldn't say that to you. [Laughter]

Jay: No comment.

Gladys: No, I know she wouldn't. But I say you can take that out of the thing.

Jay: I can turn this off at any time, if there is stuff we want to say that you don't want to be on the tape, just to let you know.

Gladys: But I know they don't feel the way I feel about it. I know. Mary Mills probably would feel the same way that I feel about it but it concerned me when I 27:00found out that the school was closed and I couldn't figure why, because I felt, okay you closed the school, per se, as a high school. That's fine. But why not use it to further education? No, they'd rather have New River built. They would rather go over here in the shopping mall than put a segment of higher learning. Listen, this way it was, you had the grounds to do it back then. They could have even had dormitories. It used to be dormitories there. That was before dormitories. They stopped the boarding before I got there, even though kids were boarding but they did not live on campus. They lived with people in their homes. 28:00We had several students that commuted from Pulaski that was boarding.

Jay: But you rode a bus to and from.

Gladys: Sure. They did, too. They rode the bus with us. We had a good time on the bus, even though it was cold.

Jay: No heat?

Gladys: Well, it depends on where you got a seat. [Laughter] I think you know how buses are.

Jay: [Laughter] Oh, I rode a bus to school.

Gladys: If you're sitting here or here, you got heat. In between you got drafts.

Jay: One question I'm gonna ask because I'm new to the area and it's very different here than where I'm from is, are there not any historically black colleges in this region now? None?

Gladys: Not that I know of. As I said, I don't know of any. Unh-uh. That's why that's a historical spot right over there.


Jay: Over?

Gladys: Christiansburg. Not to my knowledge.

Jay: Oh, um-hm. 'Cause that could've really been something. I've never heard anybody say that in all the books we read and studied about, turning it into a college campus.

Gladys: And here I am with a nobody. No, I mean, it's true. Why couldn't? As I said, somebody didn't have any foresight, hindsight. They had no kind of sight. Because if you're truly interested in education, get rid of your selfishness about race, creed, and color. Use the land for what it was. It was there, it was established, it had buildings. As I said, there were twenty-seven buildings on that ground over there. There were two dormitories and all kinds of buildings--a 30:00shop and things of that nature. Why not develop that? You can take down what you want and create what you want and how you want it, but keep it.

Jay: Maybe some remodeling is needed but the infrastructure is there.

Gladys: Um-hm.

Jay: Do you think that could be something in the future of CI?

Gladys: I don't think--well, I won't say it couldn't be because unless you could buy--unless somebody buys the gym and gives it for that purpose. The Long building will do a lot but it wouldn't amount for what it was in the past.

Jay: So some of it was parceled off and?

Gladys: Oh, the land was parceled off. I'm living on some of it right now.

Jay: Really?

Gladys: The recreation center up there--

Jay: Yeah, we drove right by.

Gladys: That's right. The Farmhouse is not. It may have been, but I don't think. 31:00I won't declare that, but all of this development here around me is part of that land.

Jay: This development must have made and cost a lot of money to somebody.

Gladys: They probably got it for nothing. No, they got it for a steal.

Jay: They must have, because this property now has gotta be worth millions of dollars, the amount of homes on it.

Gladys: You see what it's developed into.

Jay: Oh, yeah.

Gladys: That's right. And there's very few on here under a hundred-sixty thousand. Very few.

Jay: This is a nice place. There's probably three to four hundred lots in the whole area.

Gladys: I think in this, just going up and down around here, yeah, it's over three. And this is just one section. Then you've got the section over, as I said, going to the Farmhouse, all those sections over there. That's part of this, too. And you go Independence [Boulevard], you've got a development over there. That's part of it, too.


Jay: And this is all on former land that was part of the campus.

Gladys: Part of the Christiansburg Institute. Yes.

Jay: Wow.

Gladys: Now you see why I'm angry.

Jay: Hey, I'm with ya.

Gladys: No, as I said, when you see what it comes to.

Jay: I just don't see how money's the issue if this is built on the land that was owned by the school.

Gladys: That high school, right up there.

Jay: It doesn't add up all the way.

Gladys: No, it doesn't. Only thing they do is put the high school there.

Jay: Do you think that's why people in the community are, I don't want to say angry, but maybe displeased about some of the things that's going on or?

Gladys: I would think they should be.

Jay: So what do you think's the best course of action?

Gladys: Right now I have no idea and as I said, I am a fighter.

Jay: I can tell that!

Gladys: And if they had had me ten, fifteen years ago, I would have been--I 33:00would have put up. It may not have meant anything and I may not have gotten any place, but I would have voiced an opinion. A strong opinion. Because you're gonna build a new school, right? They built a high school right there. Which is fine. I don't have nothing wrong with that. Build a new building. But you got all this property. You could've built it. Still built that. You could've had every school that you wanted right here in this area, starting with your elementaries, middle, high school, and a junior college on one hundred and eighty-eight acres. You better bet you could have.

Jay: Wow.

Gladys: Now, I may be wrong, but--

Jay: No.

Gladys: They didn't see it that way, but that's the way I see it. I don't know 34:00why you gotta have a school over here, with one of the middle schools that they bring the Blacksburg middle school over here. I don't know why they built a new middle school when there is, in my eyesight, nothing wrong with that school. But as I said, they didn't ask me.

Jay: Um-hm.

Gladys: But no, I see school buildings [inaudible 34:16] and that's foolish. What do you do with them after you decide you want to build a bigger and better school? It's not like the Blacksburg school fell in. See, now that's a different story.

Jay: I heard about the snow or something that happened there.

Gladys: Um-hm. Now that one, they had to do something with that. But all of them are not like that.

Jay: And you can still, if a building goes bad, you could still use that. Take it down and build it, remodel it, right?

Gladys: You can take that system and go in and check the inner structure of it and build it and do what you want with it.

Jay: Do you think that having Christiansburg Institute closed changed the 35:00dynamic of I guess what we'll call the black community in the area? Not having that school, that center of learning, do you think that had an impact?

Gladys: I'm sure it did. I can't say. As I said, I wasn't here, but I'm sure it did have. And then it may not have. I don't know. But I would think it would have. I know it didn't have too much of an impact because nobody talked about it.

Jay: You said you didn't hear about it until after it was done.

Gladys: It was done and when I got back and saw what was happening, I said, huh?

Jay: Do you think if there was more of an awareness from people like yourself that went to school here and moved outside of the community of what was going on, that there would have been more of a resistance to it?

Gladys: For some reason, I think that, yes. But see, a number of us, graduates 36:00of Christiansburg, had moved away and things of that nature. Of course, we had to move away. There's no jobs around. You go away, you get an education, you come back, you expect to find a job. And the jobs were not here so people found jobs where they were.

Jay: What do you think a high school student in this area should learn about CI, like in a local history class? What do you think is important for students to know today?

Gladys: They should know the total background. They should have an idea of it, 37:00to know from whence they came, both white and black. Because it all didn't just start here on the hill and in the various areas, up on the hill--. It did for Christiansburg Institute and the blacks, it did, but that's not the true background. It should never have been that way, but that's the way it was. But I don't know. I have mixed emotions about it.


Jay: What brought you back from New York, back here to Virginia? Family reasons?

Gladys: Family. My one sister lived here and my older sister still lives here. That was one of the main reasons. 'Cause I really never thought about ever moving back until, oh, I'd say about twelve, fourteen years ago, I started to think about it and I started thinking, well, we are all getting older and this is it.

Jay: Why did you have a desire to get back involved with Christiansburg Institute, being the director?

Gladys: I didn't.

Jay: You didn't! This ought to be interesting.

Gladys: [Laughter] I didn't. I only joined the alumni association, which was okay. And then, Ms. Carter asked me to go with her to a meeting and I went. And 39:00then she asked me to go to another meeting, but see, things were already developed with that. 'Cause my getting involved only started like [20]08, [20]08 and [20]09. And I didn't have any plans of getting involved. I didn't want to be involved with nothing. And somehow, I got roped in it. The next thing I know, two years later, she's leaving. I'm the only--well around--retired person at the time. I guess it just fell in my lap, because it wasn't a plan. It definitely 40:00wasn't a plan 'cause I didn't want no headaches, no nothing. I had been very complacent with my life, doing my little thing, and doing nothing. And here they come with all this, which is a headache with all these meetings and things. I've had two meetings this week already. They wanted to have one today, I said nope, nope, nope. Can't do it because I promised. I'm living up to my promise.

Jay: Oh, Lord have mercy.

Gladys: That's right.

Jay: You don't have to say if you don't want to, but what are your meetings about?

Gladys: Well, the various meetings are the structure of how things are going to go. You gotta plan. You gotta talk about it, think about it. It looks like read and write about it [laughter] and sometimes I get tired and I am tired. In 41:00between doctor's appointments, I think that's the next thing on the agenda, and you get a notice there is a meeting. I got one Saturday--not tomorrow, next Saturday, but I got one Tuesday.

Jay: That's a full-time job.

Gladys: That's what I'm talking about! I'm retired. I don't need this. No, it's interesting but it's tiring.

Jay: Can it be frustrating at times?

Gladys: Can it? [laughter] That's an understatement. It can be very frustrating at times and as I said, you look and you think, and you don't feel that things are moving the way they should. You kind of voice your opinion and then you get 42:00opposition and then you walk away and you come back. I'm not one--I don't give up. I'll come back with the same thing. I'll let you say it's off the table and then I'm gonna bring it back on the table. But that's the way it is and as I said we have to kind of work together, pull together to keep it going. Hopefully, after the first of the year, things will start happening. I just want to see something happen.

Jay: What do you see happening?

Gladys: What do I see happening? Well, I would like to see the E. A. Long building put so it would be optimal for us to be housed, I mean, where we could be in it! I really feel that's one of the main things where we would have our place. I guess when you are in somebody else's place, you have to do it their 43:00way. Although I haven't been over there. I fell in February and I haven't been going over because I have a problem going up steps and things like that. I broke my kneecap and my wrist. Then in April-May they found that I had several fractures in my back.

Jay: You'd been toughing through'em.

Gladys: Uh-huh.

Jay: You're a tough woman. [Laughter]

Gladys: Uh-huh. I mean, this is it. And I was ready for this injection that they have had to call and pull. With my luck, I'd have been the one.

Jay: I'm scared to get shots now after all this that's going on.

Gladys: By the time for me to get it, I had gone through the MRI and everything and then they called me in the end of August, the doctor did, and we talked and 44:00he said, how is your pain? And I said, I don't have it. I have it but I don't have it. In other words, it's, I say, sporadic. I may have it today and I may not have it no more for four or five days. So he said, well we can't do the epidural if it's like that. I said, I know. I'm glad it happened that way.

Jay: Well, I was gonna ask you this question: anything you were expecting me to ask, that you thought I would come ask you, that I didn't ask?

Gladys: I don't know. Is there something else you'd like to ask?

Jay: I could sit here and talk for three or four hours. This is interesting, but I do want to ask you about this one. If you want me to turn this off, I will, but about Virginia Tech. What do you feel about Virginia Tech's role in this thing?


Gladys: Turn it off.

Jay: Honestly.

Gladys: No, really you could leave it on. But turn it off.

Jay: It's maybe better not to, you know, but I'm curious.

Gladys: What do I feel about--

[End of recording]