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Ren H: So, this is Ren Harman. The date is May 15, 2015 at about 9:40 AM. So what's your name and where were you born, and tell me a little bit about your upbringing, your family and growing up.

Buddy R: Sure. George Edwin Russell, and was named for both of my grandfathers. One was George and the other was Edwin, and that's why I'm called "Buddy" by most people because my parents couldn't decide which one to use. I grew up on a farm in Fauquier County, Virginia. My parents were hard workers. Of course I start remembering most of my background during the war years. I was of course born in '31, but by 1941 I was working pretty hard on the farm. As a 10-year-old I joined the 4H Club and had 4H 1:00projects like I guess I started out with pigs and then graduated to dairy cow and beef cattle. That was a lot of my work on the farm, taking care of those animals and helping my father with his livestock program. But I decided early on that I wanted to go to college to learn more about agriculture because there was a lot to know about crops and animals. I finished high school in 1948 at the age of 16. I started to work on a farm nearby that had purebred cattle and I think that also made up my mind that I wanted to be in agriculture, primarily animal 2:00industry, so I majored in animal husbandry. I came to Virginia Tech as a 17-year-old and they put me over at Radford Arsenal because there wasn't room on the main campus for all the freshmen. I think most of the cadets were there and we had our classes over there. The only times we came to the main campus were for drill, you know, as a cadet, on the drill field with all the other cadets.

Ren H: Right.

Buddy R: It was an interesting year really because I became acquainted with a lot of people. I knew just about everybody in the Cadet Corps at that time and the professors who came over there I think were very good. We of course learned a lot from them. And the sophomore year we really 3:00started bearing down here on the main campus getting into courses like chemistry which for me was very hard, but I managed to do that. And I think it was my junior year that I took a quarter off and went to a big farm in West Virginia where they had a purebred herd of cattle, and I learned to be a herdsman to show cattle. We went all over the country, Kansas City, Denver, Chicago, and I rode in the boxcar with the show cattle.

Ren H: Wow.

Buddy R: So that was one of the highlights of my college career.

Frances R: Tell about the hotel and the cow, the hotel in Minneapolis when you had the cow in the hotel.

Buddy R: Oh, that's another story. [Laughs] My wife is talking about a trip I took to Minneapolis 4:00St. Paul one summer representing the beef cattle industry in Virginia. I took a show calf in the back of a pickup, brand new truck, had a whole convoy of Jaycees. It was a National JC Convention in Minneapolis. I took that calf up there and put him inside the hotel in the hotel lobby in a little barricade, some straw on the floor. And the fire marshal came in and said, "No, you can't do that, it's against the fire regulations," so I moved the calf out on the street, set up the little corral, and then that caused traffic congestion. [Laughs] But anyway I was there for three or four days with that calf at the 5:00National JC Convention. That was a lot of fun too, but I of course was in school in animal husbandry and I had some serious class work to do. I knew what I wanted to do; I wanted to be a farm manager and eventually a farm owner, but it didn't work out that way because when I went in the Army right out of school I spent two years in Texas in the Army. I was married and had a child, my first child. I was going to be a veterinarian at that point. I said well you know I won't be a farm manager, I'll just keep going to school, so I enrolled at Oklahoma State, and while I was there my wife and little boy were back in El Paso, Texas, I became homesick for the first time in my life I think. I 6:00decided on the way back to El Paso I wasn't going to do that. I was going to come back to Virginia and get a job. And in fact I came to Virginia Tech and got a job in the Extension Division as an assistant county agent before I even went home to my Marshall, Virginia home to see my parents. So I had a job and I guess was there in Culpepper, oh about a year. Dr. Skelton decided he wanted me here on the State 4H staff, which meant I would travel the state helping the extension agents establish new programs. The ones I helped establish were career exploration for one, and then the automotive project because so many young kids 7:00were learning to drive automobiles at that time. We had a good sponsor in General Motors, a lot of good publications were put out by them. Then I also started the International Farm Youth Exchange, which meant every year we would have an exchange with several countries, older kids from the farm and that was a very popular program. And from there I went into community resource development, also an extension division program under Bill Daughtry and Bill Skelton. That program engaged many of the different departments on the campus in helping people in rural areas like southwest Virginia develop their programs in the community. And that's why you had several counties join together as regional economic development associations. I worked with that and then they came to me 8:00suggesting that I might make a good director of the alumni program. So I hadn't even thought about that you know, but I had to think pretty fast because they wanted an answer in a week's time. So I decided why not, I would do that for a while, get it reorganized and come back to the Extension Division where I felt very much at home. But that didn't work out either because [laughs] it lasted 28 years as head of the Alumni Association, and I'm glad I did because I met so many good friends through that program, people like Chris Kraft. I didn't have any idea I would meet that man, but we became good friends and even went to Bowl games together in recent years. That's pretty much my career. I know I 9:00left out a lot of things, but that's a start.

Ren H: So when you first started thinking about college back when you were high school, you said you wanted to do agriculture but why Virginia Tech? Was there something special about it? What was the reason?

Buddy R: There was. My dad wanted to come to Virginia Tech but his father died about the time he graduated from high school and he had to take over the family farm, so he didn't have a chance to do that. But it was the best agricultural school in the State and I didn't want to go out of State. This was a long way from home at that time. It had what I wanted to learn really.

Ren H: What was your first memory of the campus when you stepped on as a freshman?

Buddy R: Well, actually I came before that. I came to the 4H Conference a couple 10:00of years before that, maybe starting in '46, and my first impression was it's huge, the big auditorium, Burruss Hall. [Laughs] It seemed like it was large coming from a small town. You know it's actually very small because VPI was only agriculture, business, and engineering back then, but it was big to me.

Ren H: Can you talk about maybe some of your notable professors or advisors that were influential in your career at Virginia Tech?

Buddy R: Yes, I think Professor Hunt, head of the department at the time is one who stands out most because I had a lot of meetings with him. I think even Dr. Newman knew me because I had a 4H scholarship which amounted to $100 a year, but it was great 11:00and he presented it personally, so I got to know him. And I knew Stuart Cassell. I knew people like the Dean at that time Dr. Hutcheson who the building is named for. Then of course in Extension I think that was important to me. I knew a number of those professors, but in my department I remember George Allen. He's still living here in town.

David C: We talked to him just the other day.

Buddy R: Oh did you?

David C: Yeah.

Frances R: Oh for goodness sake.

Buddy R: I bet that was an interesting interview.

David C: It was wonderful, yeah.

Buddy R: There were people in Extension also doing some teaching who were I thought my 12:00best professors. And then of course I had one who stands out in my mind who taught chemistry, Dr. Krug who was the first teacher that ever flunked me in a course. [Laughs] At the time I was running back and forth managing this farm back home and missed some tests, so I had to take that course over under Professor Russell. I had no problem with him. [Laughs]. You know I enjoyed my classes in English and Algebra and Calculus and those fields, but those 13:00professors don't stick out in my mind as much as those in my field in agriculture.

Ren H: So what was your experience of being in the Corps?

Buddy R: It was a great experience. [Laughs]

Ren H: I'm sure some good stories.

Buddy R: The "Rat Year" was tough, but I think I really benefited from it.

David C: So Rat Year was over at the Arsenal?

Buddy R: Yeah.

David C: Was the whole Corps over there or just part of the Corps?

Buddy R: No not all, they assigned some of the sophomores, juniors and seniors as those in charge.

David C: Okay, because I thought they needed to be to put you through your paces, right?

Buddy R: They did. [Laughs] During the day there weren't many of them there because they came to the main campus, but there were always a few around to keep you on the right track. I worked in the dining hall so I missed some of the marching to meals. We 14:00had our own dining hall at the Arsenal.

Ren H: Was that Owens?

Buddy R: No, Owens was my sophomore year. It was half cadet and half civilian. It had two sides to it.

Ren H: So at that time how many cadet students were there in comparison to civilian students, do you know? Was it largely cadets?

Buddy R: No, it was about half cadets. But I also had a job announcing "lost and found" and daily announcements you know in the dining hall. [Chuckles] One day one of the civilians, a veteran, came in and said, "Here's an announcement for 15:00you, let's get it done." So he sat there while I said, "The Corps has got to go." [Laughs] Well here comes the regimental staff in there you know, "What are you doing? We're going to put you in the guard house, but it was an interesting job, meeting a lot of people.

David C: This is David Cline. I'll say hello to the tape here, from the Department of History. I'm curious about that person who would show up and talk about the Corps, time for the Corps to go. I mean you're talking about a period just post-war, a lot of veterans around. Would this have been veterans who were against it?

Buddy R: Yes. Oh of course. They didn't like us waking them up with our bugle call getting up early you know. [Laughs] I guess there was some feeling that we were kind of messing up their way of living on the campus. There were a lot of 16:00married students you know. They had a trailer park down by the duck pond, married students with kids, but we got along real well, I thought, under the circumstances. But they were several years older than most of the freshmen and sophomore anyway.

David C: No, that must have been very interesting I would think having folks around who had just served in that

Buddy R: They were like big brothers. I mean they had automobiles and we weren't allowed to have cars. [Laughs] That was another thing, we had to be friends to get some of the advantages. In fact, I think I traveled back and forth from home with a veteran who had an automobile. He charged me only $5 to help pay for the gas. Most of the time I was thumbing, hitchhiking back and forth, so yeah, I got to know as many veterans as I could. 17:00[Chuckles]

Ren H: So your major was agriculture?

Buddy R: Yes.

Ren H: And that decision was just kind of based on primarily your family and kind of what you wanted to do basically?

Buddy R: Right.

Ren H: I'm sure there's hundreds of stories and we could sit here all day, but is there some favorite like memorable experiences or stories that really still stick out in your mind all these years later that you would like to talk about?

Buddy R: Yeah. I don't know if you're familiar with the Block and Bridle club, but that's an organization on the campus some of the students are privileged to become members of. I was a member of the judging team where we had a group of students in agriculture who would go to different contests judging livestock. That was a big benefit too I 18:00think. I learned a lot from that. That was a big deal to go from here to say West Virginia or North Carolina to a judging contest, so that stands out in my mind and I would like to see that continued. I know there are many girls involved in it now. Then it was all male, but we had a good time with that, and it actually helped me my first year in the Extension Division because I worked with a lot of kids who were taking livestock projects and they wanted to be members of the judging team and learn more that way, so I was able to help them become very good at that activity.

Ren H: What about the Ring Dance?

Buddy R: Oh the Ring Dance? Yeah, that stands out too. I had a girl at the Ring Dance who I 19:00had met

Frances R: Not me. [Laughs]

Buddy R: I went to West Virginia that summer to learn how to show cattle. She was from East Liverpool, Ohio, brought her down here and had a good weekend. She seemed to be very thrilled to be here. Of course I had a lot of friends who also were taking their dates to the Ring Dance. We had what you call cabin parties after the Ring Dance. That lasted most of the night you know. When you got back the next day you didn't know whether you wanted to go to that Tea Dance on Saturday or not, [laughs], had such a big night Friday night. But it was quite a ceremony. Now I think they let a pig loose, but I don't remember us having a pig loose at the Ring Dance. 20:00[Laughs]

Ren H: That's funny. So you remember War Memorial Hall they decorated for the Ring Dance? What was that like?

Buddy R: They did, yeah. I remember also the German and Cotillion Dance where we could go to one dance at the gym and then to the other at Squires. We were allowed to do that.

Ren H: So Virginia Tech obviously means a lot to the people that attended there, especially I think, and we've talked about this a lot through these interviews, between these certain years, that there's something significant I think between the years that we've been kind of interviewing people from. So these are all really good experiences, but did you have any difficult experiences or struggles that you faced when you were at Virginia Tech?

Buddy R: Only that organic chemistry. [Laughs] No, no problems with the academic side of it because I was valedictorian of my high school and supposed to do well, expected to do well I 21:00think. So no, it was academically I thought very pleasant. In fact getting into graduate school was no problem in Maryland or Wisconsin.

Ren H: So you graduated in '52.

Buddy R: Yes.

Ren H: The Korean War was still on and you were destined for the Army.

Buddy R: Yes.

Ren H: How did that play out for you?

Buddy R: I was married the same month I graduated, not to Frances; this is the second marriage for us, but went straight to El Paso after three months of getting out of school. And I didn't go back to graduate school until I had been here on the campus and I actually had let's see, three children, when I went to the University of Maryland, and decided I had to have the doctorate if I wanted 22:00to progress in the University and went to Wisconsin. That worked out well because I had the GI Bill and actually the State paid me part salary because I was coming back here; I wasn't going anywhere else. That helped tremendously. I didn't have much money. It was expensive living in an apartment, having to pay for your own gas back and forth to school.

Ren H: Right. So when you finished with your doctorate what was the transition from there to Virginia Tech?

Buddy R: Well, I came back to the same job of course that I had left.

Ren H: What year was that?

Buddy R: That was in 1962[4].

Ren H: 1962[4].

Buddy R: That was the beginning of the Hahn years, a lot of change in store for us.


Ren H: Right.

Buddy R: Of course you could feel the growth in the University. In fact it wasn't called the University then. I remember I was head of the Alumni Association when we changed the name of the University and that was a big deal, getting it approved by the legislature because we already had a Virginia State University. They didn't want to call us Virginia State University.

Ren H: Can you talk a little bit about what Dr. Hahn kind of meant to the University? Because he was rather young he was voted president, correct?

Buddy R: Right.

Ren H: And there was a lot of change going on, so what did his appointment as president kind of mean to the University and mean to you?

Buddy R: I think his emphasis on more research, getting more money from the legislature to help build the campus so we could teach more students and have more graduate students come in. That was key to the whole development. And of course making the Corps 24:00opt- you know you had a choice whether you be in or not and then allowing women to come in started the big growth pattern that we enjoy.

Ren H: So what was the decision about the Corps to make it voluntary or optional? How did that play out?

Buddy R: Well there were a lot of alumni who didn't agree with the Cadet Corps becoming optional. In fact one of them was Tom Rice who was at the time Rector of the Board of Visitors. He was adamant that you've got to keep the Cadet Corps a mandatory program. But I think in later years he saw that he helped the State and the University tremendously by opening it up to women and making the Corps optional.

David C: Do you recall how students at the time on campus reacted?


Buddy R: Actually I was in Wisconsin at that point.

Frances R: I was here.

Buddy R: Frances was here, and of course I got all of that information.

Frances R: Oh there were the like Tom Rice, very upset about the Corps being a volunteer thing rather than mandatory. So they had a huge- it was in 1963, had a huge meeting here and all the legislators and Governor came from Richmond. And I remember my father saying this will decide the future of VPI, whether it will remain a small military school or it will be able to grow, which it did. But it was very- I gather a very heated meeting, lots of 26:00conversation.

Buddy R: One man who helped was the President of the Alumni Association, Gene Rowe. He was a less emotional person I think, but he was an executive type who understood the need to make it optional. And he sided with Dr. Hahn. He was on the Board of Visitors at the time too, so I think it was a very close vote. Fortunately he was able to get it through and stayed on as president, because if he hadn't he was ready to leave. The requirement to be in the Cadet Corps was a problem. I know in my freshman class in the Cadet Corps many of them left after the first quarter and then more after the second 27:00quarter. They just didn't want to take it you know. It was too rough on them, and it was I think a problem in engineering because some of the professors were saying that you can't be in the Cadet Corps if you want to take engineering. It takes too much of your time.

Ren H: Right.

Buddy R: But a lot of them remained and did well.

David C: Did most of the alumni come around on this issue?

Buddy R: Yeah, I think so. They were coming back and seeing the changes and thought it was good for the University.

Ren H: So what do you think makes- What do you think makes Virginia Tech unique? I'm sure there's many things, but what do you think makes it unique?

Buddy R: Well, I think one thing is the Cadet Corps. 28:00We still have one and I think that's the largest fraternal organization on the campus and you find that more of the cadet graduates come back for reunions than those who weren't in the Corps. But now we're seeing it level off even in the Old Guard. We have about the same number coming back because there are fewer and fewer of those cadets that come back, so I guess it's the same with younger classes you know. The reunions don't seem to mean as much to them because they didn't know as broad a group of friends. And the first thing you want to know when you come to a reunion well who else is going to be there? [Laughs]

Ren H: Right.

Buddy R: Now it's more reunions take place on football weekends where they get together, maybe band people or those who majored in certain a 29:00curricula.

Frances R: Or fraternities.

Buddy R: Sure, like the old fraternity house in town!

David C: I was going to say, in your work with the Alumni Association obviously you're hearing from alumni who are deeply invested in the school. What were some of the things that you heard from them about and what VPI meant to them and why they remain involved?

Buddy R: Well, I think it's a school where you are forced to learn or you leave you know. I think that they feel that they learned a lot and it has helped them so much in their careers, because it is a tough school to get through. I believe we have a strong faculty and have 30:00had over the years, so they are dedicated. You get a lot of your dedication from them and it means a lot to you to see that they want to stay here. They seem to come here and want to stay. They don't want to come here and learn something and go somewhere else to teach. Many of my faculty friends aspire to be deans or maybe a vice president like I was for a while. It means a lot to you to know that your work is recognized. And the Extension Division helps a lot too, because you've got offices all over the State in every county and every city. And now our Alumni Association has offices in just about every big city in the State, that helps too. Generates interest, keeps them informed of what's going 31:00on and encourages them to come back to the campus.

David C: What about Blacksburg itself? When you talk about the campus and the setting here I feel that this place is special and draws people and as you said they don't want to leave it.

Buddy R: I'm glad you asked that because I feel that way too. I like the mountains and I like the people in the community surrounding us. They are supportive of the University. And when I go to other schools they don't seem to have that feeling about where they are located. I've been to Clemson a number of times and it's similar there. It's a small, or was a small town. People feel at home there and when they come back they feel like they are coming back home. 32:00Since I married Frances this has always been home to her [laughs] in Blacksburg, and we have that feeling I think among our grandchildren now that this is a special place. And we do have one grandson in school here now.

David C: Oh you do?

Ren H: Oh awesome.

Frances R: Yes.

Buddy R: He's a sophomore.

Frances R: He's the fourth generation with the same name. He's Thomas Barksdale Hutcheson, the fourth, at least the third or is he the fourth? He is the fourth. I get all mixed up.

Buddy R: The first three were in agriculture.

Frances R: That's right, his father was the third. But he's the first not to be in agriculture. He's in mechanical engineering.

David C: Okay. Well that was a bold move.

Frances R: It was really was. [Laughs] He's a very nice young man.

Buddy R: But when you grow up in urban areas you have a different feeling about the 33:00agriculture part of the University.

David C: Well that's something that I've been thinking about that I find fascinating. So for folks who came here from your generations from small towns, and this was a big place and a big University and there was an attraction there, I think a lot of the students that are coming now especially from Northern Virginia this is sort of a retreat from that.

Buddy R: Yeah, it's very rural for them.

David C: I think they love that. I think that they love that they are away from the big city.

Buddy R: Right.

David C: Frances if I could ask you, if you could introduce yourself too for the tape where and when you were born and we can ask you a little bit more about it as someone who knows this place very well.

Frances R: I was Frances McEver and married to Tom Hutcheson and now to Buddy Russell. I was born in Blacksburg in 1931.It was very small town. Christiansburg was much 34:00larger and the main reason for Blacksburg's existence was the college then. Men- mostly men, there were a few women who were daughters of professors, there was no dormitory and they lived at home. This was all in the 30s. Everything changed during the war. Most of the young men who could, who were physically able were drafted, so they didn't have very much of teams sports, football and all because the young men were not here. After the war I guess that's when things really changed and Dr. 35:00Hahn was a big force in change for the college.

Buddy R: You should talk about your father too. He was a football coach.

Frances R: Well my father graduated from Tech or VPI in 1929, and he stayed on. He was of the generation he was too young for World War I and too old for World War II, so he was never in the service. But he coached a team at Virginia Tech during the war years called the Beardless Wonders because they were all under 18, because when they were 18 they were drafted. So the Beardless Wonders did very well.

Buddy R: They were the first team to go to a Bowl game.

Frances R: The Beardless Wonders? Did they?

Buddy R: Yeah.

Frances R: I don't remember that.

Buddy R: They played in the Sun Bowl. That was a big deal.

Frances R: But then I graduated from the University 36:00of Richmond West Hampton College. Just not a lot of women and I wanted liberal arts and VPI then was really concentrating on the sciences and engineering. But after the war that's when all the growth started and everything changed. Dr. Hahn was instrumental in the change, whether it would become a major university as it is now or just remain a small military school. It was the military. You had to be in the Corps. And I think it was 1963 when they had that huge meeting with legislators coming and a lot of them were Tech graduates. So in 37:00the end Dr. Hahn won out and the Corps became a voluntary institution.

David C: You were married at that point and here?

Frances R: No. Let me see- yes I was. So I was here. Let's see- gosh, it seems so long ago. I'm ancient. [Laughs] Because I was married in 1954 to Tom Hutcheson of the Hutcheson Hutchesons.

David C: Can you tell us a little bit about the Hutcheson family and the importance?

Frances R: Well, Dr. Tom Hutcheson was in the Agronomy Department and he became dean. His brother, Dr. Jack Hutcheson was President. That was all during the war, the second World War. And they at the time lived on 38:00the campus. There was campus housing. It had very big houses, none of - I don't think any of them are there.

Buddy R: No, the dormatories are where they lived. The dorms are where the Hutchesons lived.

Frances R: Yes, the Hutcheson house.

Buddy R: It's torn down.

Frances R: And then behind- coming down from Burruss Hall there was Faculty Row. There were faculty houses and then there were faculty houses on Main Street there was a whole row of faculty houses there. What's there now? It's down from where we go to the plays and everything.

Buddy R: Oh the Art Center.

Frances R: Yes. It's all so changed. Well that road going 39:00in, into the Memorial that was not there and it's just all so different now. The campus has changed so much since growing up here.

David C: What do you think about all that change?

Frances R: I think it's wonderful. I like change and I think you should grow. I think it was a good idea not to have the Corps being mandatory or that's the reason for the growth and women here. It's like a much more normal institution I think. [Chuckles] But I think it's just wonderful.

David C: And you also saw this area change from during the period of segregation?

Frances R: Oh, a small college town to a huge community now.

David C: Right.

Frances R: And businesses. I think that's made such a big 40:00difference, a Corporate Research Park. That really was a major, don't you think a major move?

Buddy R: I think it's helped a lot, yeah. Provided a lot of jobs in this area.

Frances R: Oh yes, for graduates too, a lot of jobs for the graduates. And it brought just a whole- It's just made a much more cosmopolitan area for- and a major university, so it really has affected the community.

David C: And you saw the South change from under a system of segregation to things changing.

Frances R: Yes. We really didn't have- Blacksburg had a very small black population, but everybody knew everybody. We've never had really a feeling of segregation exactly.

Buddy R: Well you didn't go to elementary and high school with blacks.


Frances R: No, no, and never really thought- That was just the way it was. You know when you're growing up you just-

Buddy R: We were in a separate school where I grew up too.

Frances R: But I just don't remember a lot of problem here with- Just everybody knew everybody and we all seemed to get along.

Buddy R: All got along well.

Frances R: Hmm. I think the schools were separated. I mean everything was separated, but I don't think- You just didn't think about it. Looking back you think well why didn't we think about that and think was that right or wrong or what, but it was just the way things were.

David C: But as a child it doesn't-

Frances R: As a child, but then as you grow up as an adult you begin to question is this right.

Buddy R: I remember when the first blacks started coming in to the athletic program. 42:00They would bring them to my home to meet people and have encouragement from somebody who is already here to come to Blacksburg. That was a good experience for my children to see those young people come to Blacksburg for the first time.

David C: What do you think it was like for them coming in?

Buddy R: A little scary I would think.

Frances R: I would think. I would think. In fact, to think about how it was, even when you had help in your home the bathroom- usually most homes only had one bathroom and I'm thinking I don't recall, what did poor people do when they needed to- it was very necessary to go? I don't know. And there's no one to ask. That's the problem with being old. [Laughs] People want to ask you and I can't go ask someone. Anyway, it was all- I just don't remember a feeling in 43:00Blacksburg of segregation. I mean it was here, but it's a very small community. Everybody knew everybody and I remember my late mother-in-law, this is the Hutcheson family, and they had a maid, a young maid, it was 16 brought from a farm that she had owned in Southside Virginia. And I remember she stayed with the family for years and years and years until finally there was no one left but Bessie who was a maid, and my late mother-in-law and they would sit- Bessie would come and for lunch they would sit at the table in the kitchen and eat together, and I remember her saying she cannot imagine that they kept Bessie 44:00separate from the family. They became very very close friends. And that was very interesting. She was from Mississippi where of course things were very very different there. I just don't remember a lot of feeling of segregation except looking back there separate there were schools and all.

Buddy R: It was the same way on the farm growing up. We had black people working on the farm but we worked together.

Frances R: Yeah.

Buddy R: I never felt that we were segregated. And I remember white-washing the barn and the fences with black helpers.

Frances R: Yeah. [Laughs]

Buddy R: Cut the corn, filling the silo, cutting the wheat you know, putting it in the barn.


Frances R: I think most problems during that time were in cities and places like that, and I think not in small communities where the families knew each other. And even though there was- a difference in the schools and in the churches and everything, but I don't know that it- Maybe that was part of the problem; we didn't think about it, that it wasn't right. So you just grow up in your time and that's how you live.

Buddy R: Too you didn't think of them going to college. In fact not many white kids from my community went to college. Very few in my-

Frances R: In a rural community.

Buddy R: -high school class went on to college.

Frances R: Because of having the college here you were more inclined to think about going to college.

Buddy R: Sure.

Ren H: So what changes have you seen over time, coming from a different vantage point?


Buddy R: You mean as far as segregation?

Ren H: No, just as far as the university community and the structure of just Blacksburg and Virginia Tech in general.

Buddy R: I think Blacksburg still feels that it's a university town and without the university we wouldn't have a very big town.

Frances R: Yeah, there would be no reason.

Buddy R: I don't see any friction really between the University and the town. I know the fraternity and sorority system caused some problems at one time, but now that most of them are on the campus that has been alleviated and I think there's very little problem there. I think the controversy over whether we ought to have a Wal-Mart in town might cause a few 47:00people thinking boy this town is closed to progress or they don't want industry in Blacksburg, but there's very little of that feeling. Most people understand that if you've got a Wal-Mart in Christiansburg you really don't need one in Blacksburg because we're so close together.

Ren H: Right.

Buddy R: I like to see economic growth as much as anybody because I like to see new jobs provided for the graduating seniors.

Frances R: A lot of them want to stay. They love the school and they love Blacksburg.

Buddy R: How many of them already have jobs and how many are going to have to go out and look? Work hard to get a job. Like she said a lot of them want to stay here in this area. There just aren't that many jobs.

Ren H: How has the University grown? I love the history of the buildings 48:00on campus and how roads are different. You were talking about Faculty Road and I had a class this semester in Solitude, so-

Frances R: Oh, in Solitude?

Buddy R: Her parents lived there.

Frances R: What was the class?

Ren H: It was an Appalachian Studies Course, a graduate course. Her class was- the dining, the formal dining room possibly. Yeah, so I actually had a class in there which was really interesting.

David C: And you lived there?

Frances R: Yes, my parents lived there. The old part is that smaller part in the back. That's the oldest, and then the beautiful front-

Ren H: I think I was in the older part.

Frances R: That was there. Actually I think my father saved Solitude because he was against tearing it down.

Buddy R: The Hokie Club started meeting there.

Frances R: Meeting there.

Buddy R: During football season.

Frances R: He was at Stuart Cassell's office, and he happened to look over on 49:00Stewart's desk at a plan for the campus and he didn't see any Solitude. And so I think that's when he sort of got the idea of having the Hokie Club there at Solitude in the old old part. And then he and my mother and two brothers lived in the newer part, which is the part that faces the halls.

Buddy R: Yeah, you had to be a big donor to be in on that crowd.

Frances R: Oh yeah.

Buddy R: Before the football game.

David C: So you think he really thought that out and thought if I get the Hokie Club here they will want to keep this place.

Frances R: Oh I think he did, hmm, and they lived there.

Buddy R: Yeah, the Pamplins and the Cheathams you know, they would come there.

Frances R: Oh yeah. They were good friends and he started that Hokie Club of course too, but big donors to give to athletics.

Buddy R: Charlie Gordon was another one.

Frances R: Charlie Gordon was a really close friend of his, yeah. In fact I had thought all along that was my father's-that 50:00was his forte, raising money for athletics, and he did very well. And they had wonderful parties there. Before the games members of the Hokie Club would come and they would have lunch or supper or whatever was appropriate whenever the game was playing, before the game.

Buddy R: Well that's another big change now all this tailgating they have. [Laughs]

Frances R: That-

David C: You watched the stadium go up I imagine.

Buddy R: Oh sure.

Frances R: Oh yes, hmm. Miles Stadium, oh the story about my grandmother.

Buddy R: Oh yeah, you've got to hear this story.

Frances R: When my parents were living on the campus and my grandmother came and they had a big football game in Miles Stadium, the old stadium. My mother and my aunt decided that it was just be too much for 51:00grandmother going to the game and all those crowds of people and everything like that. So we were sitting in the stands when the Cadet Corps always marched in before the game, and in marched the Cadet Corps and the Commandant of the Corps with their capes; they had their capes on. And all of a sudden he opened his cape and out walked my grandmother. [Laughs]

Buddy R: She didn't have a ticket to get in the game.

Frances R: And my father was sitting on the bench because he was coaching then. He got grandmother and somehow they got her up into the stands beside my mother. But she had decided that she didn't want to be left. She didn't like that, so she had walked across the campus and the Corps was lining up outside of the stadium to go in to march in. She walked up to the 52:00Commandant and asked him if he would take her in, and she said he just opened his cloak and put it around her and in they marched. [Laughs] And so I never [chuckles]. She was a very interesting woman.

Buddy R: I would liked to have seen that.

Ren H: That's a great story.

Frances R: I always enjoyed her. We had a good time together.

Buddy R: Well I think the athletic program has benefitted a lot of students, even though they aren't stars on the football team.

Frances R: Oh absolutely.

Buddy R: They gain a lot from the opportunity.

Frances R: Probably some of them wouldn't have been able to come unless they had had the athletic scholarship there.

Buddy R: And even the Cadet Corps providing the scholarships has maintained enrollment in the Cadet Corps. It's helped a lot. Even if it's not a large scholarship, just to get a scholarship makes you feel good about being in a college or university.


Frances R: And part of a group is very meaningful too. I'm so glad that it remains.

Buddy R: We do worry about all these concussions that the kids seem to be getting and you don't find out it's a problem until later in life sometimes.

Frances R: With football?

Buddy R: Yeah.

Frances R: Oh, yeah, because my father's hands were just awful.

Buddy R: Oh yeah. After he retired he would tell Frances and me, "If ya'll stand behind me and hold me up I believe I could still swing a golf club." [Laughs]

Frances R: I don't think we're going to do that daddy.

David C: Leather helmet, or no helmets.

Frances R: Oh the helmets were just those leather-leather helmets. His hands and just everywhere. You just can't sustain hit after hit after hit to your body and not have some repercussion as you get older. So, I 54:00don't know. And his neck, they make the helmets now- I mean everything is supposed to be to protect the body, but you see the bigger linemen now-

David C: They're getting bigger and bigger.

Frances R: Enormous.

Buddy R: And what I was so proud of is that we have opportunities for students to compete even though they aren't on varsity teams.

Frances R: That's good.

Buddy R: Club sports that they are allowed to compete against other colleges and universities. Our grandson Tommy is in that program in track. He goes to James Madison and even up to Pennsylvania.

Frances R: Tommy, yeah. He's the fourth generation, the same name. I just think that's so wonderful to have him here.

Buddy R: We had another grandson who was coming here and he was accepted and he was 55:00going in the Cadet Corps. All of a sudden he changed his mind just before the summer he was coming and he enrolled in Mississippi State because his girlfriend was going there.

Ren H: Oh okay.

Frances R: That was not a good idea.

Buddy R: But she didn't and they aren't going together.

Frances R: No, because the fraternity life was-you know, instead of emphasis on his class work.

David C: Oh he chose her fraternity instead of the Corps.

Buddy R: He learned to play golf. [Laughs] He said he had a girlfriend who taught him to play golf.

Frances R: Oh dear.

Ren H: Who better to ask then why Virginia Tech alumni become so committed to the University? I mean there's other alumni organizations at other universities, but it just seems like especially from this generation that we've been talking about, and even today I just wonder why there's such a commitment.


Buddy R: well, I wonder why more of them don't come back, see, that's my viewpoint.

Ren H: Exactly.

Buddy R: A lot of my classmates don't come back for reunions.

Frances R: They're too old darling.

Buddy R: Well now I know they are. [Laughs] I mean over the years. But I think there's a feeling that the University does a lot for people who come here and most of them seem to succeed in whatever they choose to go into. I know I feel that way. The grassroots approach here. You know you learn by doing a lot of things, particularly in agriculture and engineering, and even the business I think is that way. I'm glad to see the University letting these business students learn to invest you know. 57:00Some of the University foundation's funds they do very well because they work at it. I think most of the alumni are proud of the University the way it's developed, and I guess athletics has something to do with it too. [Laughs] I'm sure it does. I remember when we were competing with Florida State in the Sugar Bowl, the national championship. People were paying a thousand dollars for a ticket to come to that game.

Ren H: My brother was one of them.

Frances R: Isn't that amazing?

Buddy R: It was important to them to be competitive, whatever we do. A friend of mine here he's 93 years old. Didn't go to Tech, but I took him over to the field house for this competition with the radio-controlled whatever 58:00they call them gadgets. [Laughs] These students were having a ball competing against each other with those that they had made themselves.

Frances R: Was that [Mert] that you took?

Buddy R: Yeah. He was an aeronautics

Frances R: Aeronautical engineer, could not be drafted during World War II.

Buddy R: He did the design and manufactured airplanes.

Frances R: He's a fascinating man. He's in his 90s. He would be interesting to interview. [Laughs]

David C: But he got a kick out of that, seeing the students.

Buddy R: Yeah, he really did.

Frances R: Oh yeah.

Buddy R: It opened his eyes I think to what's going on at Tech. And of course being on the faculty myself I see these kids building these cars you know. They're supposed to be driving themselves. [Laughs]

David C: Because my office is in Major Williamson's I end up walking by the garage all 59:00the time. It's pretty neat to see them out there tinkering with the cars of tomorrow.

Frances R: In a way it's wonderful to think that you could just set your controls and just-

David C: Wonderful and frightening. [Laughs]

Frances R: It is because what about the other drivers? Are they?

David C: That's what I'm always thinking.

Frances R: I know. You have to be so concerned.

Buddy R: Well we both participated in research at the Transportation Institute and Frances was in a brand new Mercedes. They were checking her reaction time. I was in another vehicle doing the same thing. Anyways, these things popped up in the road you know and she ran over them.

Frances R: Popped up in the road and I just ran right over them. [Laughs] They have not invited me back. [Laughs] I think I was supposed to have slammed on the brakes. I was 60:00like what is this? Have you ever done that?

David C: No. I want to now. [Laughs]

Frances R: It's very interesting. The things that pop up from side to side and out of the road I guess to check your reaction.

Buddy R: I thought that was fun so I enrolled in another project that was taking place over on the campus where they put me on a treadmill and put blinders on me and then all of a sudden you can't see and you're still walking. I went right off the back of the thing. [Laughs] Skinned up my knees.

Frances R: You haven't been invited back either have you? [Laughs]

Buddy R: I suspect now they probably put a harness on them.

Frances R: I would think so. Yeah. But if you're ever invited to do anything at the Transportation Institute it�s really fascinating.

David C: Well I know somebody who works there so as soon as I leave I'm going to give them a call and volunteer myself.

Frances R: It's very interesting.


David C: It sounds like fun.

Frances R: I don't know whether they still have that thing with all things popping up out of the-

Buddy R: Oh yeah, they still have it.

Frances R: Oh, very interesting. I probably shouldn't have said anything so, now you will know if you are invited to go. [Laughs]

David C: If they put me in a Mercedes I'll know what's coming.

Frances R: It's toward the end.

Buddy R: We're proud to see the emphasis that President Sands is putting on research because I think that's a key to a good education, is learning new things and being on the cutting edge all the time.

Frances R: Yeah. And Ms. Sands is very interested in everything too.

Buddy R: Yeah.

Frances R: They really are a team.

Buddy R: It's also important that he hires good people and I think he is from what I hear. I know this man that's going to be head of the- or vice president for Advancement I hired him to work in the Alumni Association and he's done so well since leaving 62:00here.

David C: Oh okay. So he went from here?

Buddy R: He went from here to South Carolina and then to Johns Hopkins and then to Cornell. It's been an advancement for him each time.

David C: Right. Is that nice for you to see his trajectory?

Buddy R: It makes me feel good. In fact a number of the people who worked for me in the alumni office have gone on to bigger and better things. It makes me feel good, yeah.

Frances R: Yeah they have, especially Charlie coming back. I think that's wonderful.

Buddy R: Yeah. Well you know Tom worked with me for 20 years before I retired. I think he's done a good job.

Ren H: Can you talk about your class ring a little bit?

Buddy R: Oh yeah.

Ren H: I see you're wearing it now.

Buddy R: Yeah, I lost that thing. [Laughs] Up in Winchester I was on a field trip and I was throwing snowballs. I had it on my right hand at the time and of course you can't find it in the snow. Well I think it was three 63:00years later a guy from my home county, Fauquier County, called me up and said, "I'm practice teaching up here in Winchester and I think I found your class ring." I said, "Oh boy, how can I get it?" And he said, "Well not easily" he said, "A girl was wearing it." [Laughs] Said, "I asked her if I could take a look at it and I knew that the name would be inside. I saw your name and I think you can get it back for maybe a little reward." So I said, "Sure, how much?" [Laughs] I was real happy to get it back, but yeah, I wear it most of the time, but you can see it's not worn as badly as a lot of them that have been around as long as mine, because I've got a smaller one that I wear.

Frances R: They are beautiful rings aren't they?

Buddy R: It's a signet ring that my daughter's class gave me when I was a class sponsor for her class. So I wear that one most of the time.


Ren H: It's beautiful.

Frances R: They are big and heavy aren't they?

David C: Your daughter went to Tech as well?

Buddy R: Hmm. Yeah, she majored in art and became a teacher of art herself, now has two children of her own. One is 18 now looking to go to college and I think she's planning to go to a culinary college in Charlotte.

Frances R: That's good.

Buddy R: That's what she's interested in.

Frances R: I had forgotten my daughter graduated from Virginia Tech also in Human Nutrition and Foods. She made the highest grade point average that had ever been made in that college. She's an excellent student. She is now an audiologist, has her doctorate in audiology and works with little children who have had cochlear implants.


David C: Very interesting.

Frances R: So she loves her job and it's a wonderful job.

Buddy R: Yeah, she's coming next month for a visit.

Frances R: Yeah.

Buddy R: Every year they come from Memphis to the lake. We have a place over at Claytor Lake. They enjoy it there. They get to know the campus very well too.

Frances R: Oh yeah.

David C: So I think I know the answer to this question already from the way that you're talking, but are you enjoying this phase of your life?

Buddy R: Oh yes.

Frances R: Oh!!

David C: With grandchildren and being retired?

Buddy R: Very much so. Have time to spend with them when they come.

Frances R: And we have made so many new friends out here at Warm Hearth. The old people who live out here are very interesting people. They are from all walks of life really.

Buddy R: Most of them have had outstanding careers themselves.

Frances R: Hmm. And they are active and still interested in things. In fact Virginia Tech has a 66:00senior learning program out here, and I've taken part in several of the classes out here, and that's very interesting too.

Ren H: Never stop learning.

Buddy R: Yeah, you go on my golf days, so I haven't been participating.

Frances R: You don't have homework.

Buddy R: I play golf a lot.

David C: You go golfing instead. [Laughs]

Frances R: Buddy's had a wonderful time with golf.

Buddy R: I'm on the board for the river course, so trying to maintain that is a challenge.

David C: So you do know David Lowe well.

Buddy R: Yeah, I do.

Frances R: Have you all been to the river course?

Ren H: I have.

David C: You're a golfer.

Ren H: Yeah, not a good one.

David C: I have not.

Frances R: It's a perfectly beautiful golf course.

Buddy R: It is, yeah. It's just too bad that we can't get more people coming in, but there's no place to stay overnight you know close by. That's one drawback, but a lot who go over there to play stay at 67:00the Inn.

David C: I bet that will grow over time.

Buddy R: It will. Yeah.

Frances R: Yeah, it's good to have the Inn. That was wonderful to have that on campus.

Ren H: When someone says Virginia Tech what do you first think of or what does that name mean to you? I know we can talk for hours about that, but when someone says that what do you think of? Because it's obviously meant a lot to the both of you in different ways and together too.

Buddy R: Oh I think it's a great opportunity for people whether they come here as students or come here for continuing education, or come here as a faculty member. It's a great opportunity here, because it is a progressive university. You just look at all the building taking place. You don't see that many places.

Ren H: No, not at all. There's always construction.


Frances R: Growing and growing. It's just amazing. When you look back in the 30s when growing up, like the college was just about 2,000 cadets, a few women, and the town was about 2,000 people.

Buddy R: We go down to Georgia in the winter time and Georgia Tech is in Georgia.

Ren H: Right.

Buddy R: Well I figure the people on Jekyll Island know more about Virginia Tech than they know about Georgia Tech, really.

Frances R: It's amazing. You mention the school and people have heard of it. So I think that's wonderful.

Ren H: You kind of see Hokies no matter where you are.

Buddy R: Yeah, and they always want to know what's a Hokie.

Frances R: Oh right. [Laughs] Everybody wants to know what is a Hokie. Well I was a spider. Isn't that terrible? [Laughs] Well it used to be gobbler and 69:00before they even had a turkey. I can remember going to football games and there would be a turkey on the field with a handler, but the turkey would be on the field. But they've done away with all of that now. People don't want to be called a turkey.

Buddy R: To answer your question about Virginia Tech, another thing I think of immediately is "service" because of our motto. I was a district governor in Rotary and they would ask me "do you have to be a Virginia Tech graduate to be a district governor?" I said, "No, but our motto is service, that's the same for Rotary, it's the purpose." So it makes you proud to talk about that I think.

Ren H: Well this has been great. Thank you both so much. Kind of the final we would like to ask or talk about, was there anything that you would like to say or that 70:00we didn't ask, or anything you would like to add about kind of Virginia Tech or your life in general?

David C: Or question you thought we might ask but we failed to.

Buddy R: You know, I think it's a great idea that you're doing this, because so often we talk about maybe we should write these things down so our kids and grandkids and their kids will know what it was like. I think it's tremendous that you're doing it and happy to participate. I know you're going to get some more good stories from the Old Guard reunion.

Frances R: Oh, are you going to be at the Old Guard?

David C: Yeah. We'll be doing interviews there.

Frances R: And so often if you're talking in a group, not a large group but just three or four or five people talking, one person will say something which will 71:00remind another one. It's really better I think than just one on one.

David C: And the spouses too.

Frances R: Right.

David C:I mean this is clearly a partnership.

Buddy R: Well I hope you get to interview Al and June Hardy, because they both went here and there's one year difference in their classes.

Frances R: Well June grew up, because she and I-

Buddy R: June was the daughter of an ROTC instructor.

Frances R: Sergeant Male

Buddy R: Sergeant Male who was a Cadet Corps leader at the time.

Frances R: Right. She grew up in- we were the same age in the same class.

David C: You grew up together?

Frances R: Huh-huh, June. But then I went to actually three different high schools because it was during the War. Everything in the 40s when the War, during the Second World War all things changed. So I actually went to Blacksburg High School, Chapel Hill 72:00High School, and Thomas Jefferson in Richmond. I graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School. Tech didn't have a football team one year, so my father was coaching the Navy V12 team in Chapel Hill with his brother, who also coached. And then we moved to Richmond because they had wanted a professional football team there that he coached, and that's why I graduated from Thomas Jefferson. And, then I graduated from the University of Richmond, from West Hampton College.

David C: Right. And then you came back here when things got back to normal?

Frances R: Came back here to teach school, and I was married to Tom Hutcheson who was the third generation here.

David C: And you taught in the Blacksburg School District?


Frances R: Hmm. I taught English in Blacksburg High School. English is a very difficult subject to teach, especially [laughs]. Oh dear.

David C: Clearly it is based on my students' writing. [Laughs]

Buddy R: I think the computer has a lot to do with the writing. [Laughs]

Frances R: Oh I think so. I wonder do they even talk about nouns and verbs anymore?

David C: Well, I've been helping to raise my nephew and he just started college and he said, "I'm in the right generation because I can't spell but it doesn't matter; the computer will correct it for me."

Frances R: Oh.

Buddy R: One of the biggest changes on the campus is students speaking to each other. I mean you can't because there's so many now, but we used to speak. Everybody we met we would say hello and now they're looking at their I Phones.

Frances R: Well you'll see a group of young people and no one is looking. I mean 74:00they're all like this. Doing like this. I think we're going to have a generation of people who walk like this. [Laughs]

David C: Bad backs. Terrible back problems.

Buddy R: Thank you for coming.

David C: Well thank you so much. This is such a pleasure, really enjoyable.

Frances R: This has been fun. You know it's interesting too, I think that's a good way to interview when you're interviewing is to have several people, because one person will say something which will remind you of something. But it's so fun to think back.

Buddy R: Yeah.

Frances R: I don't know whether it was so much going through it, but anyway-

David C: These are always better.

Frances R: It's always better looking back. [Chuckles]

David C: Absolutely.

Ren H: Thank you. Thank you so much. Appreciate it.