David Cline: All right. It is the 21st of May 2015, and this is David Clinefrom the Department of History at Virginia Tech, working on behalf of the Virginia Tech Stories Project. I have the honor of being with Mr. Joe Barlow today of the Class of 1950. Joe if I could ask you first of all just to introduce yourself for the recording, your full name, and your place and date of birth.
Joe Barlow: I'm Joseph H. Barlow, better known as Joe Barlow, and I'mfrom Smithfield, Virginia, which is the home of the world famous ham. I was born there in 1928 to a farm family. I was born at home on the farm. I have 5...4 siblings, and we were all born in that same house over a period of time.
David C: So you were actually born in the farmhouse on the farm.1:00
Joe B: In the farmhouse on the farm. The doctor came out to the farmhouse. This was back just before the depression and family doctors were famous for that. We had - after Icame and others came, the babies came, we always had somebody to help our mother, but after a short time she was on her own so to speak. So we were raised, came up through the depression. I do not remember anything about the depression that people remember it now because I was young. The only thing I know is I never knew that we had a depression. We were poor, but I didn't know we were poor because we always had enough to eat and some clothes to put on, and most everybody was in the same boat about that same.
David C: And this was mostly a farming community?2:00
Joe B: It was a farming community, a small town. We had 20 people in our high school graduating class, and that was one of the closest, but that wasn't unusual really. The area that Smithfield represents now is much larger than it was then. I was looking at a letter the other day that I got sent to Joe Barlow, Smithfield, Virginia and I got it. That's all there wasto it.
David C: Didn't need an address.
Joe B: Didn't need an address. In fact I don't know that we had a box number. I guess we did but we never used it. People just knew everybody at Post Office and all. That was our beginning.Right from the beginning my mother was an educator. She was in public education for a very short time and then she married and from then on she was a housewife, a farm wife, so she served in that way. But she never lost her desire for her 3:00children to be well educated. So from my earliest I remember we were all planning to go to college, didn't know how but we were going to college. And the plan finally evolved where my older brother would be the one to go to college and they could get him through college and then he would get a job and help the next one through.
David C: Okay.
Joe B: And that one would get a job and help the next one through and on down the line. And that was our plan. It never occurred to us we might not go to college. And in my particular family my father had gone to...came to Virginia Tech way back in 1912 I guess it was.
David C: Okay, yeah.
Joe B: And so he had - and only one year; he studied agricultureand didn't come back, and my mother went to West Hampton College and she lived 4:00outside of Smithfield at Mill's Swamp we call it, 12 miles from downtown Smithfield. She went to West Hampton before West Hampton was ever built. They were constructing it. That's the University of Richmond, the women's division it was, and it still is I guess. The way she had to get to Richmond to go to college is her father would bring her in a horse and buggy to Smithfield to catch the boat in Smithfield to go to Newport News to get on a train to go to Richmond to get on a streetcar to go to West Hampton College and ride that street car to the end of the line and then walk the rest of the way up the hill.
David C: Amazing. It sounds like you're going halfway around the world. Mighthas well have been, right.
Joe B: That shows how dedicated they were. Of coursenow children have to have a car or either they can't go to college, so that was 5:00her dedication and her family's dedication to education and how important it was. It turned out to be that got us all through. As it turned out the war intervened and so my older brother they paid his way, but he was taken out. He was in the class of '44 at Tech and he was taken out of here and put in the Army to go into World War II. When he came back the GI bill paid for his last year in college. My sister had gone to West Hampton and they paid her way. At that time college wasn't quite as expensive as it is now and they paid her way there. I was the middle child and I came to Tech and they paid my way to Tech. I received some scholarships along the way, but mostly they paid the bill. Again, 6:00the bills were not like they are now. And my younger sister went to West Hampton too and they paid her way. My youngest brother who ended up he was in the General Assembly, in the House of Delegates, he got a full scholarship or fellowship - scholarship it was, from the Union camp company in Smithfield, in Franklin and they paid his way all the way through. So we got college educations. My parents paid for some of it and others people helped with that.
David C: Was there any question about where you would go to school?
Joe B: Well, no I never realized. I was in agriculture. I knew I wanted to study agriculture,and at that time Virginia Tech was a land grant university and had the College of Agriculture. And my dad had come here so I never even considered anywhere 7:00else, because I wanted to study agriculture and I also wanted engineering, so I ended up enrolling here in agriculture engineering and got my degree in that. And the girls all went to West Hampton following in their mother's footsteps on that, so I guess our heritage lead us in certain directions and we went where it was logically...we would choose that. We didn't try to visit different campuses and see how we liked any of them. In fact, I had never been to Tech when my mother put me on the train in Suffolk, Virginia, told me to ride it until it got to Christiansburg, and the train station for Christiansburg was Cambria. So get off at Cambria and catch a taxi to Virginia Tech and they will tell you what to do that. So that was my introduction to Virginia Tech. 8:00
David C: Right.
Joe B: And I was in the military. I had had no military training, so that was theyear a lot of veterans had come back and of course they weren't required to take the military because of their previous service. But in my case I came directly from high school into Virginia Tech and everybody at that time were in the military.
David C: Was in the Corps.
Joe B: In the Corps. Well the first night here I had been around, gotten my uniform and all that, didn't put it on, but sophomores got us in the trunk room that night and lined us up and told us what we had to do, what we could do and couldn't do and I was ready to go home.I just couldn't do it, so, but I did stick it out until Thanksgiving. At that time Virginia Tech and VMI played the big Thanksgiving game on Thanksgiving Day, and after that was the first time I had a chance to go home so 9:00I did. I returned home and the first thing I told my mother that I had to get out of the Corps because - and I knew this would get her attention; I couldn't make good grades if I stayed in the Corps. It was too time-consuming, and she accepted that a little bit, and said, "Well I don't want you to hurt your health or anything like that, but let's go to our doctor and have a physical, maybe something is wrong." So I went over there and he did a physical such as it was and he ended up saying, "Joe, I don't see anything wrong with you. Go on back up there, you can do it," so that was my last out. So I went back up and did it. And it turned out that was an excellent decision on his and my mother's part because had it not been for them I would not have made that decision, and the 10:00Corps I was very impressed with the Corps later, particularly after the freshman year.
David C: What was so tough about it? I mean was it just the Rat Year?
Joe B: The Rat Year, the requirements of the Rat Year.
David C: And what were some of those and what was difficult?
Joe B: Well the bracing, where you had extreme positions of attention where they made you... Well it was to improve your posture, and from that standpoint it was good for you but I didn't know it at the time. And being able to take commands and get chewed out without reacting toit, all of that it was - you learn that. The only choice of answers was yes no, no sir, or no excuse sir. They don't want to know any details, you just say that. So I found out that a lot of the... And it was typical of military 11:00indoctrination really, and that was the regimentation of your day that helped me to allot...the time necessary but no more than that. You budget your time is what it amounts to. When I was a freshman I had a class in - this doesn't mean anything to you, but the main entrance Commerce Hall was there and I had class in Commerce Hall. The next one was down in the Agi Quadrangle which is the other end of the campus, and you had 10 minutes to get from there. You could do it, but you had to walk and you couldn't talk to anybody and you had to leave 12:00on time and you just did get there on time. But I found out I could do it if I set my mind to it, so it was done. I didn't have a bicycle; I had to do it on foot. But that and the other military training, the military classes we had, it was similar to what you have in the army or in any of the service branches that you have. But that was my - during my stay. And as I progressed through the 4 years that I was here, I started in 1946, so it was 1946 and I graduated in June of 1950, but during that time each year it became not easier, the classes were 13:00more difficult, but I was accustomed to it and I had learned how to manage my time much better than I had done before. And then I gradually got involved in different things on campus, the different clubs and the curriculum clubs and I participated in that and I met more people. It just was a broadening experiencing for me in getting a college education.
David C: Let me ask you this, because I always hear these stories of the difficult Rat Year, but then I know at the end of it you become a sophomore and then it's your turn toindoctrinate the next group.
Joe B: And you forget how it was when you were a rat. It does, but again, you realize it's your responsibility to be sure that these people get the training that you see now that was the benefit of it, but you didn't see it at the time that you were going through it.
David C: Right. So it's not revenge. [Laughs]
Joe B: No, I don't say so.14:00
David C: You take it seriously.
Joe B: Some people were more strict on enforcing the rules thanothers and I learned very early the less...the fewer sophomores I knew the better off I was that first year. Now after that I enjoyed meeting people, but that first year I didn't want to meet too many people, particularly if they were sophomores. [Chuckles] So that was I guess a learning experience too.
David C: Right, right.
Joe B: When I came I did not select my roommates; they assignedthem and they assigned to me a southern boy, a guy from Brooklyn, New York, actually Queens, New York, Queens of New York City and Mays Landing, New Jersey and me, and we were altogether, and we got along fine. We got along fine.
David C: Were there many people at school at that point who were fromplaces like New York City?
Joe B: Yeah. In the military particular, well of course Virginia had the most, but I would say 20% were out-of-state students. And they elected it - I guess, I don't know why, but most of the time it was because it was a less expensive state...even paying an out-of-state tuition it15:00still was less than what they had to pay.
David C: Do you remember some your first impressions of this place? You said you took the train by yourself and then had to get a cab to campus. From a small rural agricultural community inVirginia what was this campus like when you first saw it?
Joe B: Well, of course the buildings and things were much different than they are now and it wasn't as many. Of course it wasn't in its infancy, but it was young comparatively16:00speaking. But it was...I don't know that I had any real impression. The only thing I knew at that time it was a place to get an education and I was dedicated to trying to do what was though... I never - well, I took military. You had military class and you have drill and all that, so I never took an elective the whole time I was here. My course was prescribed. If I wanted Ag Engineering this is what you take the first year, this is what you take the second year and all my electives was the military. That gave me about 23 hours each quarter, so that was all you... And I never thought of it. Now I think they might take more now, but I don't know that they do. It was just... Well I learned a lot about agriculture that I thought I already knew about, but this gave me a different 17:00perspective on the agriculture that I wanted to do. I always wanted to farm, I knew that, but when you go into the military and the ROTC you dedicate two years after graduation to service, active duty service, and I had to do that. I knew that was there, but I still wanted to farm eventually. Well, when I graduated it was the Vietnam War - no, the Korean War, the Korean War was going on and about half of that class were called indirectly, and the other half of us I found later, I didn't know about it, but about half of them did not get called. I was one of those. So I interviewed with John Deere Tractor Company. I didn't want to get into farming and get set up and then get called in service, 18:00so I...very frankly work somewhere and then through the military and then come home and start farming. Well, five years by and I had not been called.
David C: Okay.
Joe B: And so - well before that, I left John Deere and startedfarming. It didn't look like it was going to get called. So I went home and farmed for three years and during that time they were trying to start a National Guard Unit in our hometown. And they were having trouble getting officers to take the ranks and they asked me if I would serve in that. Well I hadn't done my duty so I said yes.
David C: Okay. So that was your two years?
Joe B: Well, no. I wrote for a release from the Air Force which was where the commission was, and the Air Force granted it, but about ten days after I got that letter grantingthe release a telegram said 'active duty orders canceled - reason' ...excuse me, 'release canceled, reason - no prior service.' So I jogged their memory I guess 19:00and within six months I got called to active duty, and I served two years, so I left farming, served two years and then came back and started farming.
David C: Where was your service?
Joe B: It was in the Air Force and I was stationed after school in Washington, DC. I went to Minneapolis, Minnesota. I was a special agent in the OSI, which is the Office of Investigations and I served there for the two years. They tried to talk me into becoming a regular. I wasoffered a regular commission out of Virginia Tech but I wanted to farm so I 20:00didn't accept it. Well, I went in the military and served the two years and they tried to talk me into converting over to regular Air Force and I still didn't want to do it. Well, I almost went back to work for John Deere again, but I still had that farming in my mind so I came back and started farming. At that time I had married too and I had one child. The second one was born in Minneapolis while I was in the service.
David C: So you started your own farm or did you join with family?
Joe B: With my father. I farmed with my father. The interesting thing at Virginia Tech when I was in the military I had been recommended for a regular commission in the Air Force. But you had to have an interview before they would offer it to you completely. So I was going21:00to go through that even though I didn't think I was going to accept that. And I remember preparing myself for that examination. I learned all the reviewed and tried to study up on the military part of it. And when I got in there the only questions they asked me were do you think you can serve in the Air Force with a black person? And that was a time when integration was taken over first in the military and then otherwise, and that was the only thing they wanted to know. They figured I guess I knew the rest. But again, I was ready for it I thought, and I was ready for that. I had worked with black people all my life and we were friends, played with them and all that, that part I answered unequivocally that 22:00I could do that, you know. I could work with them. But anyway, from then on of course the service has been integrated more, but that was kind of the beginning of it right after World War II.
David C: It certainly was.
Joe B: They had the units in World War II but they were black and white you know. But that's kind of the way I got to Virginia Tech and here I wanted to study engineering. I had agood record in high school so it I didn't have any trouble being accepted. I'm kind of like Dr. Steger though. Dr. Steger says if he applied to Virginia Tech now he would have a little trouble getting in. That's what he said. [Chuckles] But I guess I was in that same... But a little different requirements. If I'd have come up through this age or he came up through this age we would be ready for doing whatever needs to do, so, yeah.
David C: Were there particular professors that you remember to this day?23:00
Joe B: Well, the freshman professors I don't remember any of those particularly. That was a general...engineering, everybody took the same engineering. As I got into the...curriculum, Professor Shogren Professor S-r-g...
David C: I'll look it up.
Joe B: Professor Shogren, he was the Head of the Department of Ag Engineering. I can't spell it, but he was the head of that ever since I had been there, and I never had him as aprofessor. But the professors that I do remember are Professor Burn who was one of them, Professor Parson was one, Eurp was one. And they were all - at that time Ag Engineering consisted of four different branches. It was the 24:00farming machinery, buildings, saltwater conservation, and rural electrification, and you either had to go in one or the other of those and I chose machinery. I did not work in the design part of that. I worked in the sales part of John Deere.
David C: Did you take agricultural techniques and things like that thatyou may have used later when you started farming?
Joe B: Well not so much that because most of the people in agriculture then were from the farm and they were halfway familiar. Now it's a little different. A lot of city people areenrolling in agricultural courses. I have a daughter-in-law that actually is from the city but she ended up in animal science. She's married to my son now. 25:00So they didn't use so much techniques other than just these are the things you need to use in order to do a good job of producing crops. That's mostly the way it was.
David C: Can I ask you about - you started farming and can I ask youabout your years farming and where did you set up and what other things did you put your time into?
Joe B: Okay. Well, again, I started farming with my fatherand we had a partnership, but his farm or the home farm I was raised on was not large enough to support two families so we had to rent some land. So we did that and first we rented - it was in Smithfield, Virginia, or in Isle of Wight County 26:00actually outside of Smithfield. I'm not sure, anyway, I farmed four years with that and that's when I was called in the service. Came back and I farmed again with my father for one year after I came out of the service. And after one year I met a family friend of ours who had a farm that he had lost his son who he was counting...at a very early age and he was ready to... Well, as a result of an accident and he was injured and never recovered, so he never could farm like he wanted to. So he was looking for someone to farm his land. He knew my dad real well and he liked my dad's style of farming, so he asked me if I wanted 27:00to buy that farm of his. So I looked at it and he put a price on it and I bought it. And I thought at that time this is the worst day I've ever had, but as it turned out things went the right way and I worked hard and we made it, and it turned out to the best thing I ever did was to buy that farm. But that was also located close by. It was actually in Nansemond County which is outside of Isle of Wight; it joins it. But the county line is...the road...the dividing line is in front of my farm. There's a road along the front, and so we farmed that and peanuts were the big crop then and I raised peanuts all my producing life. And now my son has gone into cotton. The farm itself is more of a grain cotton farm 28:00than it is a peanut farm, so the peanut industry or the production industry has evolved into the people who have real good peanut land are still in the peanut business, but that's a lighter soil required for that than it is for corn and peanuts and things like that.
David C: It's shifted a little bit.
Joe B: It's shifted a little bit. We had to do that with the changing of times where youadjusted the markets. But as I did that I was asked to do certain things. The first thing they asked me when I moved into Nansemond County to serve on the 29:00school board. Well I was active in the school system because my children were going to the school there, so I was in the PTA.
David C: How many children have you got?
Joe B: I have three, and that actually... Well, the PTA was first andthen they asked me to serve on the school board, so I agreed to serve on the school board and I was on that for 15 years. At the end of the last five years I was chairman of that school board and that was an eye-opener. I was trying to push and others on the board too for a consolidation of high schools. Instead of having a lot of little high schools we wanted one or two big ones so they could offer better programs. But anyway, that's beside the point; I 30:00served that 15 years. And then during the time I had appointed study commissions for the agriculture. Governor Godwin who has talked about it downstairs a little bit appointed me on a study commission for the agriculture for the whole state and I worked on part of that, and other things along the way. Finally though, I was on the Ag Counsel which is a research- funded mechanism and the Governor asked me to serve on the Board of Agriculture Consumer Services, so I served on that for eight years. The last three years of that I was president of that Board and whoever is president of that Board is on the Board of Visitors at Virginia Tech.
David C: Right.
Joe B: And the president here is on our Board, so I was on the Board up here for three years. It lasted three years. That was in the middle 90s. And that I guess of all my service that was the highlight of it. Even later on locally while I was on the school board and time expired there, I was given a chance to be on the Planning Commission of the then new City of Suffolk, which31:00was Nansemond County, the City of Suffolk...asked me...a place on the Planning Commission. After that several times... Well, I had two of my City Council representatives take other jobs. One of them, Chris Jones, was elected to the General Assembly so he gave up the City Council seat, who he was my councilman, 32:00so they asked me to finish his term so I did that. And then later on another one took another job, so he had to give up the council seat so they asked me to finish that. And I [thought to myself then help me to that point]. The people really wanted me to serve, so I ran for City Council one time for a four-year term. And I won that so I was on City Council a total of about six years and I did that locally. By that time I was getting to be a older person and the second time around I decided I didn't think I ought to run again. I was just ready to do something else so I did not run. Since that time I'm still serving on the Virginia Agricultural Council which is a funding mechanism for a 33:00research, some research project. We meet twice a year and people present requests to us and we fund to different projects over there. And on the old guard - I guess you want to know how I got involved with it.
David C: Yeah.
Joe B: Well, of course in the 50s the college expects you to give back a good giftof some kind, so they start working on it on the 45th and at the 45th Reunion they told we would like for you to get a committee going and start this thing. So we had a small meeting of a small group of people and trying to select a chairman of that and they asked me if I would be the chairman of that, and I just couldn't do it because I had other things that I had to put time in. But one of my classmates who retired as a major general came to me and said, "If you 34:00take it I will help you." And I thought to myself that I never had a major general as an aid before so I accepted that.
David C: Who was that?
Joe B: Archie Cannon. Bless his heart he's gone now. He was here and he helped me,and in fact he organized it. He was great at that. He organized it and we had a successful... In fact they are still talking about our gift. Our class was a large class, a lot of veterans, and a lot of us were successful at a good time and a lot of them loved Tech. And so we raised a million and a quarter dollars to give to Tech for different projects. Most of it was a mathematics professorship. We didn't include football although that was a good... And a lot 35:00of our members gave a lot to football too, but we didn't include that in our gift. It was a professorship, the Corps of Cadets and the other one was what? I don't remember what it was.
Lynn B: The library.
Joe B: The library, that's right, the library. We were trying to get something that touched everybody at the university you know, and everybody should use the library and do use thelibrary. And of course the Corps is kind of partial to that. That was a smaller gift, but we still think that's...most of us at that meeting were Corps people so we thought that was worthwhile. So anyway, that's the way I got involved in this and we're still active in the old guard and we just celebrated our 65th Reunion. 36:00
David C: That's exciting, yeah.
Joe B: We've been very fortunate, very frankly. Not everything but lots of things went our way, but we worked at it too, you know, and so from that standpoint I'm very satisfied. Wedid - I did and Lynn did lose our spouses early. He was how old?
Lynn B: 54.
Joe B: He was 54 and my wife was 63 and we lost both of them within two months ofeach other and that was a blow to both of us. And we knew each other but we didn't socialize or anything like that, but we met and started going together and so we married and so now she's been a good wife of mine. He was a Hokie and 37:00I'm a Hokie.
David C: Oh, so you've been around this for a while?
Joe B: He was class of '62.
David C: '62, okay.
Joe B: Yeah. And she gave the little thing down here; I don't know whether you're familiar with it or not the plates.
Lynn B: The pavers outside.
Joe B: Gave one for me and...well one for him and one for me, so our names are in that thanks to Lynn, and she's been good for me I'll tell you. I don't know what I would have done without her. Yeah.
David C: So looking back - I have a couple of questions.
Joe B: Okay.
David C: There's been obviously a lot of change at VPI and at Tech. What are some of the things that you've noticed and have been the most... When you think about how this placedhas changed from when you were first here what strikes you the most or what are 38:00you the most proud of and most surprised by?
Joe B: Of course the main thing I guess is the academic program has been expanded so much. You can study almost anything you want to at Virginia Tech, which a lot of people in this State don't realize. They still think we're a little hick school out here in the southwest.The football people who do more I guess recruiting than anybody else, although Dr. McComas put together an academic recruit team. He's trying to recruit academic...presidential scholars and they did a good job of that. But most people just think this is a little country... If the football players...coaches get a prospect on campus they have a good chance of signing that person. But if they don't know the idea of what Virginia Tech is like in the east part of the State it's nothing unless you have been here and seen it. The 39:00fortunate thing is a lot of people have been to Tech and now they're all over everywhere and a Hokie is very vocal a lot of times [chuckles] and they express themselves. But that's one of the things, but the other thing is the introduction of more female students. That's picked up. That used to be just one program most of them enrolled in. Few of them studied engineering but most of them, but now every department here or every college here accommodates both sexes. Mine, the agricultural engineering, this is another thing, they changed the name of it and the program. What it was when I was here sort of faded out the need for it. Agricultural machinery people they had their own designers. They don't depend on colleges anymore, where at one time the colleges were very 40:00instrumental in giving advice to farmers, but they don't do it. But that, the introduction of more females and particularly in the Corps of Cadets, that was a change. Making the Corps of Cadets voluntary instead of mandatory is another change that was good. I think the time came when that was probably... I didn't realize it could be done, but I thought it was in the law that it had to be that way.
David C: Do you remember when that came up as an issue?
Joe B: Yes. I was already out then, but yes, I remember when that... And I said, "Well that willkill the Corps." Well it almost did very frankly. You know everybody in the Corps including me thought it ought to be voluntary way back, but we never 41:00thought it would happen I guess. But that is something that really changed and the fact that girls...females were admitted to the Corps on a regular situation, not any token contribution to it at all and they succeeded. And that's the story all over the University. Very frankly the male students had better sit up and take notice because [chuckles] they are competitors now, they are competitors and that's how it should be, it certainly is. So that's the main things I've seen and of course the buildings are just - I know they have struggle with some buildings but they still have managed to improve the buildings. The Art Center is a beautiful place.
David C: Isn't it nice? Yeah, that's true.
Joe B: Nobody would think the Virginia Tech I went to would ever have anything, anyarts like that. I think Dr. McComas and maybe others too put together more of 42:00the arts then the others. Others were more the academic engineering, agriculture, but he went in for a broader perspective. And the other thing is that the Presidential Scholars Program that they have. That's really good because well the scholars some of them take triple majors, and some of them have majors that don't seem to be compatible, but they are. I have a young man I guess he's a sophomore in high school, he's an awesome golfer in his league, but he evidently is real good. I think he's state champion. He goes all over playing matches anyway, but he loves golf and he loves violin and he's a master violin 43:00player. So I'm trying to recruit him for Tech.
David C: Yeah, yeah.
Joe B: And they have put majors together. They have individual programs than they do broadband of students that take a standard course, but now you can select what you want to do. Now I think it's always been that way if you could select your alternatives, but in our case as I say I never took an extra course at all to what was required.
David C: Well what changes would you like to see?
Joe B: Uh, I tell you, all that I'm aware of have been good changes. Somewhere along the44:00line it ought to be made more available to the average student because we're having a lot of students now that are not able to take advantage of that. I have a young lady that applied here that I think would have been a good student, but I don't know why but she was not accepted. That and the cost of it and I know that's all over the university, but we need to have that so it will be within reach of anybody that's qualified to enter. I'm not aware of what it's like, but I understand that some students graduate with a tremendous debt because they've borrowed everything to go to college and it takes a while for them to catch up.
David C: Right.
Joe B: And I'm of the opinion that everybody that needs to go to college, we still need the professions and you can do that without going to college and some of them just don't... College is not where they would like to be and we ought to provide for them to get some kind of45:00training. Everybody ought to have some kind of preparation for their life's work, more than just a high school education.
David C: Let me ask you too if there were any difficult times. Because I know especially as we get older we think of the best times sort of drift to the top right and we forget thestruggles or we push them away. It's a formative time obviously when you're in college and were there any struggles that you went through during that period or have you seen Tech itself sort of go through...?
Joe B: Well I think I was here during a time when those struggles were - the differences of opinion may have been there, but nobody was in the mood for struggling for anything. We had just come through a World War II. That's enough struggle and everybody seemed to be46:00on the same page on that. Now after that some, and they talked about it at lunch today, during Dr. Hahn's time they had student unrest on campus here.
David C: Right. Joe B: Now we haven't had that for a good while. In fact, I rememberwhen the President - Dr. Hahn moved out of the Grove up there and moved out into town somewhere that nobody knew where he lived. I say nobody; somebody knew, but it was away from where the students could congregate. And that was a time of trial for this University. And of course the most historic thing is that tragedy they had when the guy murdered so many people and Dr. Steger took the brunt of that. I've said all along that the police did what they thought was best at the 47:00time. You can hindsight anything and come up with a better answer, but at that time what they thought was all there was too it it didn't turn out that way. That guy that did that was I guess he was sick or something, but he did enough to know how to plan to do maximum damage, because he diverted the police over here on this side of the campus while he prepared himself over there where he really wanted to do the damage. So that was a trying time, but the student body didn't [riot] there. They came behind the President and I was real proud of them.
David C: Did the alumni come behind the school at that school?
Joe B: Everybody, and not only our alumni, all of Virginia and the colleges allover the United States they came together and...the community itself - alumni 48:00and students and faculty and everybody came together. I guess tragedy helps to promote that, but thank goodness it happens. Currently the tragedies sometime end in violence and I think that's the wrong answer, the wrong answer. But they were the trying times that we've had here. The Tech I think has been fortunate that those times have been minor...have been few, not minor but few, but when they happened they were horrific, they really were.
David C: Right. Well let me ask you two last questions. One is why do you think - so I mean you're an involved alum obviously. Lynn you've been around for a while. Why do you think49:00people do stay involved and are passionate? I'll ask both of you.
Joe B: Well, I think it starts right here. Let me say this then you can add toit or change it if you want to [chuckles], but I think that you get the training here. It's kind of basic. We get training and now they are emphasizing service more than used to, so from that standpoint you get the training and the mindset and then you just feel like you want to stay involved. And sometimes very frankly some of the people share their good economic times with them. We met 50:00downstairs in the Latham Ballroom; the man was class of '55. He was down there today sitting in that group and he's the one who gave all of the Convention Center. We know the man that gave all the woodwork, all that beautiful woodwork in the Convention...well in the whole place, not the hotel but the Conventional Center. He did that and he was in the class of...
Lynn B: Well he was on the Board with you.
Joe B: And he was on the Board of Visitors, yeah, but he did itbecome he loved Tech and that was up in the millions of dollars. And some people have that money and they like to share it like that. And you get the allegiance and you try to share it with those things that you have deep feeling on you know, so.
Lynn B: Well, they treat you right. When Joe and I first started keeping company he was on the Board of Visitors and they had a Board meeting, a weekend long Board meeting and he called Doc Torgersen and asked may I stay, if I could stay at the Grove and Doc said 'of course'. And so we drove over to Newport News. The plane picked us up, brought us here. We were met at51:00the little Tech airport and brought to campus and they took me to the Grove and Doc was waiting at the door and showed me up to my room. There was a dinner and what-not that night. And then the next morning I was getting dressed and someone knocked at the door and I thought oh my goodness. And I opened the door, nobody there. But there was a little table and it had a pot of hot tea, a bouquet of fresh flowers and the Roanoke newspaper, and a little handwritten note from Doc 52:00whenever I was ready come down and the chef would prepare my breakfast. And after treatment like that I had to marry him. [Laughs] But I mean you know it's just little things like that.
Joe B: I was involved in electing Dr. Torgersen as President. He served as interim after Dr. McComas got sick. He was interim for a while and I was on the Board of Visitors then. Dr. Torgersen had been interim twice before. He was the runner-up with Dr. McComas was elected, but he didn't get it, but he served again faithfully under Dr. McComas. Dr. McComasrecommended, and I can't tell you the person's name - Provost, during the time 53:00and he recommended him take over where the Board thought Dr. Torgersen ought to take over. So we elected...we didn't accept Dr. McComas...
David C: Didn't accept his recommendation?
Joe B: Well Dr. McComas did what he should do. His deputy, he should have suggested that. But anyway, we went up to the Grove to tell Dr. McComas what we had done and he said...we told we selected Dr. Torgersen and he said, "Well I want to tell you that since I've been here," andhe knew about Dr. Torgersen being a runner-up, nobody on the campus had been any better to him and helpful to him than Dr. Torgersen. And so he didn't have any problems with that at all, and then of course later on Dr. Torgersen was elected President and he deserved it. He had been interim twice and he just deserved it and he was an outstanding person. He really was. 54:00
David C: I thank you so much, but I want to ask one last question. You probably already saw ithere on the questions I gave you, but I always want to give people the opportunity to ask if there is anything I should have asked today that I didn't, or anything else.
Joe B: Well, I don't have anything else to add and as far as I'm concerned I would say that I've had a very successful life. I've been in the right place at the right times and I've tried to serve well wherever I've been asked, and I take to heart the Virginia Tech motto Ut Prosim that says I mayserve. That's important. I've tried to follow that and people ask me...I said I just said 'yes' when people asked me to do things. I don't think I've ever run 55:00for anything except that City Council seat and I had already been appointed to that one. So from that standpoint you covered everything and I feel very fortunate to have been...to be an alumni of Virginia Tech and I love the University.
David C: Thank you for sharing your time with us and your story.Anything you want to add?
Lynn B: Well he's got a real Virginia Tech family. His son is a graduate. He married...his son married a graduate. One of the grandsons is a graduate and his wife has her master's degree from here.
David C: Fantastic.
Joe B: Yeah.
David C: A Hokie tradition.
Joe B: We are... Well the funny part about it is the grandson that finished here his dad is a UVA man, and we were both trying to recruit this young boy.56:00
Lynn B: His granddaddy.
Joe B: His granddaddy, yeah. Excuse me, granddaddy, and we were both trying torecruit him and he came down on my side. Well his dad was a Tech person so that kind of helped me a little bit, and he studied electrical engineering and he's done real well, he really has.
David C: Is your son farming the farm?
Joe B: My son is farming, yeah.
David C: So that has passed along in the family too?
Joe B: Yeah, and my son and grandson.
David C: Oh great.
Joe B: And I have another fourth that...
David C: They let you come around and poke around?
Joe B: [Laughs] They like to see me come but they like to see me go. [Laughs] I trynot to interfere. Things are so different from what they once were my suggestions don't seem to matter a whole lot. And they are capable of doing it. I would do it a different way sometimes but I wouldn't say that's any better.
David C: It must be nice to see it in the next set of hands.57:00
Joe B: I appreciate the fact that they wanted to do it, yeah I do. I hope everything goes for them as it has for me.
David C: Wonderful. Thank you so much. I really really appreciate it.
Joe B: You are certainly welcome.
David C: Thank you. Thank you maam.
Lynn B: Hmm. Enjoyed it.
David C: Good.