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0:42 - The History of Kentland Farm and Wake Forest

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Partial Transcript: Charles Johnson: Yeah, okay. I will start on Kentland farm, the farm down.

Ryan: All right.

Keywords: Kent; Kentland Farm; Wake Forest

Subjects: Kentland Plantation; Wake Forest

20:17 - Charles' Experience at CI

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Partial Transcript: Ryan: how about we just move into CI and some of your time there. We've already talked about it a little bit, but maybe you can tell us about what kinda curriculum they had there. What'd you learn while you were there?

Charles: That was a big thing when you graduated from elementary school, going to Christiansburg Institute.

Keywords: Christiansburg Institute; Wake Forest; Wake Forest Elementary

Subjects: Christiansburg Institute

45:33 - Christiansburg Institute's 'Lost Alumni'.

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Partial Transcript: Charles: They happen to be the lost alumni, the ones who was in the dorms. Once they left, went back home, apparently didn't keep no record. I was one time the president of the alumni association. We tried to, we didn't have no way of contacting 'em, 'cause we didn't have no records.

Ryan: Just no records from them?

Keywords: Alumni; Christiansburg Institute; Dormitory Students

48:04 - Getting Drafted into the Military and Coming Back

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Partial Transcript: Charles: Three weeks after I got outta high school and I went down, I worked with the barber shop, and I got drafted into the military. I went down to Georgia for training

Keywords: Barbering; Georgia; Military; Military Draft

Subjects: Christiansburg Institute; Korea; Military Draft

56:47 - Desegregating Squires Student Center

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Partial Transcript: Ryan: So while you were working up at the Tech barber shop, do you remember some of the first black students that were at Tech?

Charles: I sure do.

Keywords: Black Students; Squires Student Center; Virginia Tech

Subjects: Desegregation; Virginia Tech

65:18 - Mentoring The First Black Students at Virginia Tech

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Partial Transcript: Charles: There was a house, and I opened up a barbershop in the basement of the house called Harlem Barber Shop and I would cut, we got off at twelve o'clock there and I would come up here and cut blacks or whomever wanted their haircut, not only blacks.

Keywords: Barber shop; Black Students; First Black Students; Virginia Tech

Subjects: Black Students; Integration; Mentoring; Virginia Tech

74:16 - The Community Reaction to the Closure of CI

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Partial Transcript: Ryan: But I wanted to ask you about the close of CI and how that impacted the community over here, how it impacted the black community around here.

Charles: It did, it happened suddenly

Keywords: Christiansburg Institute; Floyd County; Pulaski County

Subjects: Christiansburg Institute; Closing

85:27 - Facing Prejudice in Blacksburg

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Partial Transcript: But, is there anything you want to add? Anything that you want to talk about that I didn't ask you about?

Charles: You didn't ask me about growing up in Blacksburg in segregation.

Keywords: Blacksburg; Segregation

Subjects: Christiansburg Institute; Segregation in Blacksburg

93:00 - Being Part of a Newly Desegregated Army

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Partial Transcript: I guess, I mean you kind of answered it. My biggest thing was, how is it coming from a desegregated army? Like in Korea, like you were talking about how you had the two white Johnsons, did you feel the camaraderie in Korea?

Charles: Actually, I didn't get to go to Korea with them guys.

Keywords: Army; Desegregation; Korea

Subjects: Christiansburg Institute


´╗┐Ryan Noland: Let me start by saying that I'm Ryan Noland, here interviewing Mr. Charles Johnson, class of [19]53 of the Christiansburg Institute. We're here in Mr. Johnson's barber shop, and today is October 18, 2012. So, if we can go ahead and get started. We already talked a little bit about your family history but maybe you could start again by telling me just a little bit about your family and how you guys came to Blacksburg and whether your parents have been here for a while.

Charles Johnson: Yeah, okay. I will start on Kentland farm, the farm down.

Ryan: All right.

Charles: Whitethorn, that Virginia Tech now owns. All my family came off of there as free slaves. At the end of the Civil War--well, the slaves were there 1:00when the war came through there, when the soldiers came through there. They stayed at Kentland for three days, and wined and dined off of the food and wine and things they had there. And when they left, some of the slaves left with the army, with the Union army. Some of 'em stayed. The ones that stayed, when the Kents--the Kents they'd left the farm, because they had word they was coming 'cause they were just over on the other side of the mountain or some place. Then, when they came back, Mr. Kent was so discarded that he couldn't function. Because when he came back, he found the destruction of his farm. See, when they came through, they would put you out of business. They killed all the animals. They killed all of the animals. Because they killed some of 'em for slaughter, for their meat and to carry with them when they left. They killed all the animals and took any money or gold. At some point, Mr. Kent supposedly had moved 2:00it off and hid it some place so they didn't get any of that. He just couldn't operate, so his wife took over. I think her name is Elizabeth Kent. She took over and operated the farm and she decided that she would assign part of the property at the end of the wooded area at the north or northeast side of the farm, which is Wake Forest where I was born and grew up there. That's how I could get, my grandmother get there, and seeming like I'm probably about the fourth generation off of that farm.

Ryan: Oh, wow.

Charles: Yeah, right. They do have a cemetery down there, a slave cemetery. They have two cemeteries. One for the master, Mr. Kent and his family, and his 3:00slaves. So after she gave 'em that land--the word is assigned it to 'em, it's never been deeded to the black community.

Ryan: Oh, really.

Charles: Even now, the church down there, the church, especially one of the churches down there still, in the deed of the farm. I shouldn't say that because if they might find out about it, they might want to take it back.

Ryan: [laughter] I was gonna ask you who owns that now, but I guess if Tech owns the farm then--

Charles: [inaudible 3:31] We won't get into that. [laughter] That's a secret. Anyway, they assigned it to 'em. I'll just use the word deeded. They deeded it to the black community. So then, some of the slaves, they decided to continue working on the farm.

Ryan: Oh, okay.

Charles: 'Cause they were uneducated and they was just as much bewildered as--they didn't know what was going on. So they decided to stay on the farm, to 4:00stay there and work.

Ryan: Still working for the Kent family?

Charles: Yes, still working for the Kent family. But they went back into this wooded area and they already had trades from working on the farm. A lot of 'em cut down and build things. So they went back and built log cabins, built their own houses, and then they started a community there. Wake Forest, it's not a lot--I think the, it seems like they went back and built the community real fast, building the physical part, the houses of the community, real fast. And it's sorta, somehow how it got its name. Wake Forest, because you woke up in a forest and there was a community. So that's how it got its name.

Ryan: Oh, that's great.

Charles: But they would go back to the farm and work on a daily basis and a lot of years, when I came along, most of them, it's coal mines now. Well, some of the, probably the third generation started working in the coal mines. So they 5:00did that or some of the slaves, they started, they called 'em the boatmen. Three or four of 'em started moving grains up and down the New River, transferring grains for the farm. So then, after that, I think my grandmother--I'm working on some of the history now. Matter of fact, we had our first ever family reunion last year, so there's still a whole lot of unknown. I too work on the history because I'm trying to put all the pieces together. It became at one point that my grandmother and my grandfather--my grandfather died when I was young, so they were there. Just some of the names that still, Johnsons, Eaves, and Meltons, and all of 'em--

Ryan: Yeah, those are the names we keep running into, too. Jones, too.

Charles Jones, yeah. Yeah, Jones. Even in the cemetery, for many years we didn't 6:00know there was a cemetery, or slave cemetery, down there. What had happened over the years, it just, they had no markers. They had markers, but no names or anything. It's a triangle, a stone triangle. A sharp point and they stick it down in the ground. That marks if it's a grave there. Over the years, different people managed the farm. So, it just got so they didn't know it was a cemetery, so they started grazing cattle over there. Some of the elder gentlemen in our community out there, they had taken some of the younger boys and showed 'em where it was, where the cemetery was. It's at the top of the hill. When they got interested--some of the people in the community, they was interested in history, school's tried to put the pieces together. This gentleman out of Detroit, his 7:00name is Isaac Jones, he and another brother, Oscar Sherman, they knew where it was, so they went back and showed 'em where the cemetery was. Where it is, however, now. They had to prove that as a cemetery, so the archaeologists from Virginia Tech and Radford, they went down there and did a dig and they found the truth. This is where the cemetery is. Then someone from Tech went to Christiansburg and picked up on the names. The ones that's buried there, there's a lot of children. They must have died at early age. Some of the names--it's a good thing they did it. Back then, Mr. Kent, every time a slave died, he would take record and go to Christiansburg and record this slave had died. That's his property, he was payin' taxes, so he didn't have to pay no more taxes. So, he did that. Which, it turned out to be good for us because at least we know who had died and so forth. Otherwise you can't do it. If he didn't have to do it, 8:00the records would have been lost. So they went over there, and he would give the age of the person and the name of the person, so most of 'em were there. They did about thirteen digs but it's probably a lot more bodies.

Ryan: Right.

Charles: So now, we got a monument. We put up a monument down there and they go down once a year and pray and what have you. It's on the farm right there.

Ryan: Just at the top of the hill?

Charles: Yeah, yeah. Somebody would have to show you where it is because that's a large farm. It's not too far from the mansion, the house, and everything. Mr. Kent, theirs is on top of the hill. That hill is higher than the slave hill. They got great big monuments--you know back in them days they would put large monuments--so you could stand on one hill and see the other cemeteries. So, that's how Wake Forest originated and I was born there.


Ryan: Alright, so maybe you can tell me a little bit, again, about growing up in Wake Forest and your elementary schools and stuff.

Charles: Yeah, Wake Forest was a close-knitted community. Everybody was hard-working. They shared everything, you know, things like food, whatever they had. My generation, my grandmother's generation, they all had gardens and some families down there had cattle--not too many, almost everybody had a cow and pigs. They killed hogs on Thanksgiving Day. That was always a big day. Back then it got real cold, they'd wait 'til a cold day. Thanksgiving was always cold back 10:00then, now it's not. So they killed hogs and it was a whole community thing. A matter of fact, they went into McCoy, that was the white community. Wake Forest happened to be in between Long Shop and McCoy. So they would kill hogs for them, too. So we went to elementary school there, in a one-room school. They did have a divider, they could pull it and make two rooms out of it, and we carried our own lunch, and had one teacher, taught everybody. The method of the teacher then was that the older children would teach the younger ones. Say, if somebody was getting ready to graduate in sixth or the seventh grade, they taught the younger ones, the first, second, the third. And the teacher would concentrate on the 11:00older two grades, sixth and the seventh grade. My class was about seven of us graduating from elementary school.

Ryan: Okay. How old were you when you started going to elementary school there?

Charles: I think six.

Ryan: Six?

Charles: Yeah, six. You had to be six before October 1. I think that law is still-

Ryan: Yeah, it might be.

Charles: Make it after October 1, you gotta wait another year. But now, they don't do it, they just put them in some other elementary school, now pre-school. I was born June 6, [19]33 so I was right after depression. I was so young I didn't know about it, but now I know that it was right after depression. So things were pretty hard, but I was too young to know things. Most of us didn't know we were even poor because everybody was about on the same economic level 12:00down at Wake Forest. Then, during my growing up down there, most of the men worked in the coal mines at McCoy. There's two coal mines, they worked in the coal mine. Some of them that didn't work in the coal mines would go back to the farm, worked on the farm and they would lease land down on the Kent farm or the railroad ran up through there. The railroad is still up through there. The lower part of the railroad near the river, they would lease that land and some of the people from up in Wake Forest would lease that land and raise corn and so forth down there.

Ryan: All right.

Charles: So games, as far as something to do when school was out, we had baseball fields, two small baseball fields. Everybody down there played baseball and we had a baseball team, I mean, the community. They called themselves the Wake Forest Eagles.

Ryan: Were those kids that were on the baseball team or adults?


Charles: Adults.

Ryan: Okay.

Charles: As kids we played baseball and as you get older--

Ryan: As you get older, you'd get on the team.

Charles: If you got good enough to get on the team. I was never good enough so I didn't make the team.

Ryan: [laughter]

Charles: You had to be real good because they had a real good team and they played teams out of West Virginia and places like that. Although McCoy had a team, the blacks and the whites didn't play each other.

Ryan: So even though you guys were right next to each other you guys never played against--

Charles: We could hear each other. And our cemetery is right beside next the McCoy's baseball team. See, we had two cemeteries, ya had the slave cemetery, and then I guess you had what you call the free slave cemetery.

Ryan: Right, because they quit using the slave cemetery after that.

Charles: Right. That was another thing. As a kid I couldn't understood why our cemetery, the black cemetery, was over in the white community. But then, after I found the history of the whole farm and everything, they long assigned the land for the community and donated this piece of land for the cemetery. It's still 14:00there. As a matter of fact, blacks are still being buried there from the Wake Forest community.

Ryan: So is that just a black cemetery right now?

Charles: It is a black cemetery right now. In McCoy they have probably two, predominately white cemeteries or they all-white cemeteries. Somehow, back in those days, the whites and the blacks in McCoy and Wake Forest got along very well, but they didn't at Long Shop.

Ryan: Okay. Which is on the other side.

Charles: It was on the other side, and putting it all together now, during my research and everything, I found out one reason they were getting along together was that, some of the people in Wake Forest were descendants of some of them in McCoy. [laughter] So, that's the reason.

Ryan: Family ties.

Charles: Yeah, right. One lady, we called her Aunt Laura, she just looked like a white person, but she had a house and one of the coal miners owned the coal 15:00mines up in the mountain, and she got royalty off the coal mines because she was a daughter of one of the white McCoys that owned the coal mine. [laughter] Because I know she never worked, but she had a big house and she had a check coming.

Ryan: [laughter]

Charles: Then it's another lady in the community she looked like a white individual, she was white. Everybody else was darker skinned but this person was white with hair just like you. I don't know how she got educated, she came to Tech up in Blacksburg. Some professor, somebody in their family, more or less 16:00adopted her and educated her and she went off into the army. She become a major in the army. But she would come back to the community for one month, I guess on leave from the military, to be with her sister and her mother. But her mother is a very dark complexion. She's very dark. Apparently, they never knew who her parents were. She'd never know. Her mother never went to where she was.

Ryan: So the white community didn't know who her mother was?

Charles: The white community in McCoy probably knew it.

Ryan: [laughter]

Charles: But the white community, outside the military community, on the other part of the world. She just went out there and lived the life as a white 17:00individual, but she would come back and she built a house for her mother. 'Cause if her mother had gone to where she was, that would have blown her cool. Definitely, yeah.

Ryan: Yeah.

Charles: So a lot of things when I was a kid used to puzzle me. Why is this? Why is that? Now, I've researched it. It's all [laughter] come out in the open now. So sports and we rode bicycles and we played croquet and horseshoes were big, pitching horseshoes. And these were horseshoes off of the horses down there. There was one other gentleman in the neighborhood, he had a team of horses, he probably had about six horses. So he would plow everybody's garden and do all that. So we would go to his house and get the worn-out horseshoes and bring 'em over and pitch horseshoes. 'Cause we didn't have anything, baseball bats and all that kinda stuff. We had to make our own baseball bats. So I became quite a craftsman. I could make croquet and baseball bat and I used to repair the bicycles in the community. I had a bicycle shop and I was a paper boy. I carried the paper.

Ryan: And you did that all while you were a kid?

Charles: Yeah, bruh. I had no allowance so I had to figure out some kinda way to survive, make a living. I was probably the oldest paperboy, had three different papers in the bag. The Roanoke Times gave me one of 'em and I one was called Afro Journal and Guide, I think it's down in Norfolk somewhere. Then there was 18:00another paper called Grit came from up in Pennsylvania from Quakers, little small paper. I carried all three of those papers. Walked most times, 'cause sometimes you couldn't get in places with a bicycle. So we had to get our mail, our mailing address was Whitethorn, so we had to walk down to the post office and get the mail every once or twice a week. Then, finally, one of the fellas in the community decided he was gonna be the mail person. He would go down and get the mail for everybody and they paid him to get the mail. I was glad that came along, so I didn't have to go to the mail. 'Cause it was about two miles to go down to pick up the mail.


Ryan: And that's each way?

Charles: Yeah, two miles each way. Plus, the train station was down there, plus if you get ready to go, passenger train was down at Whitethorn, too. When I went in the army, my address was Whitethorn, Virginia. Most people ask where I'm from, you have to tell 'em Roanoke 'cause you say Blacksburg, they didn't know where Blacksburg was either. I only ran into one guy and he was from Cambria, Virginia and he asked me where I'm from, I told him Roanoke, where are you from? And he said, I'm Roanoke, too. Let's tell the truth, where are you from? He said, well I'm from Cambria. I said, well I'm from Wake Forest, Blacksburg [laughter].

Ryan: Yep, I have to do that when I talk about Houston, too.

Charles: So, church, the church. They had two churches there. They had a Pentecostal church and a Baptist church and my family belonged to the Baptist church. We had service in the evening because the minister had a church in Radford. He preached and had service in Radford at eleven o'clock and ours was 20:00at three. We had Sunday school at two o'clock and my grandmother was keep Sunday--you couldn't do nothing but go to church on Sunday--keep Sunday holy. We came back from church, we couldn't even play ball. The kids would be playing ball across the street, we couldn't do it. We couldn't play cards, we couldn't do anything. Everybody in there either went to those two churches. There wasn't no friction about who belonged to each church. That's just the way it was.

Ryan: You just went to either one or the other.

Charles: Right, yeah.

Ryan: All right, well, if you don't mind, how about we just move into CI and some of your time there. We've already talked about it a little bit, but maybe you can tell us about what kinda curriculum they had there. What'd you learn while you were there?

Charles: That was a big thing when you graduated from elementary school, going to Christiansburg Institute. Just like going to college, to us it was just like 21:00going to college back in them days. That was a move. You movin' out in the community and meet new people. We would hear from the older kids of what Christiansburg Institute was like. Then, we would go. They had May Day over there and they invite all of the elementary kids so we got to go there once a year to see the school. That was a big day for us. Go to Christiansburg Institute for May Day. Then, the older kids would tell us about it. So then you graduate and go to school, then you try to round up some used books. Never had a new book. The whole time, it was all used books. You'd usually buy it from the other kids that's older than you or if somebody's in your family. I happened to be the oldest of all the grandchildren. There's thirty-six of us now and I'm the oldest. I'm the oldest, I think my grandmother had thirty-six grandchildren and I'm the oldest of all of 'em. So being the oldest, I didn't have any books to let them have. I had to buy books from some of the other kids. Once you get to 22:00Christiansburg Institute, it's real structured. Almost like a military experience. After the eighteen-mile ride there--we came through Blacksburg, we picked up the kids from Blacksburg. As a matter of fact, we'd stop right up there where that building is, that's the first stop. Because this was a black neighborhood, we picked up kids from hereabouts. And we went through on the other end of Blacksburg, downtown Blacksburg, there were some kids. The blacks, they lived down on Jackson Street in the sixteen squares. That's where they lived, the sixteen squares. We picked up kids down there, on the other end out there, where the Blacksburg First and Main, and some of them lived down on Nelly's Cave Road. They would walk up there and we'd pick them up. You go over 23:00to where 114 is and go down to Vicker and pick up seven kids down in Vicker. That just added so much to the ride. Back then, we had mostly female drivers of the bus, and they would let us off right there at--it's a cross section right there. What's that? Franklin Street and 114, where the cross is right there. I was trying to think of some of the buildings on there. All that was Tech's horticulture farm over there. If you go over there now, there's still some of them trees. Say you're going here on your left, if you get back, you can see still the trees are lined up where the special pines are. Evergreens, they're still there, and some of the peach and apple trees and all that are still there, too. We would get off the bus and walk up to the railroad track because some 24:00other kids come from Cambria to get on the bus. It's unheard of now to get the kids off the bus and walk up the highway.

Ryan: [laughter]

Charles: But we got tired of riding down to Vicker and back, so she just let us off and we walked up there. One reason we wanted to walk up there is so we could pick apples along the way and we'd go to school and sell apples.

Ryan: [laughter]

Charles: 'Cause the trees were just hanging over, we'd just reach over and pull 'em, pull a bag full of 'em. Once you got to school at 7:30--let me see, no around 8:30. They'd pick us up around seven o'clock down there. At 8:30, every morning you'd have devotion. You had a devotion period. You'd go to your homeroom. They called it homeroom. You'd go there for devotion. It's a religious devotion. The Quakers, they emphasized religion more so than really any other education. You gotta be religiously educated first. So we'd go to that, 25:00homeroom, and then went to your first class period. You had to go back across campus somewhere to another class. And we had a principal, Mr. Banks, was real strict. He's on one of these pictures here. So then, they had a bell. The bell rang to indicate when the classes changed. By the bell, it's a great big bell on top of a building. It rang and then you'd know it's time to go change classes. I think we had six classes a day, one hour classes, in your freshman year. Your freshman classes, you had required subjects--math, english, and science--you had those three. All of that was required subjects. After that, then we had this other period, where we had the introductory to whatever trade you wanted to go 26:00in. I can't remember what the rest of them was. That's your freshman year. But anyway, you had six classes and you got out of school at 3:30. But you had a lunch period and they did have a cafeteria. If you had fifteen cents, you could go and get your lunch. But I didn't have fifteen cents, so I carried a sandwich. I carried a sandwich from home. My whole freshman year, I never had fifteen cents for the lunch. So we had a lunch period that was half an hour and so we'd just meet around on campus. And usually, there was a fountain out in front of the buildings, that was always the meeting place. You want to meet somebody, you'd say, we'll meet at the fountain. If you had a girlfriend, you met her at the fountain. When I was there, you had dormitory students there, too. We called 27:00them dorm students, and we were called day students. They were called dorm students because they lived at the dorm. They had dorms for the teachers, too. Then, the principal, he had his house and some of the other teachers lived on campus, too. Everybody was livin' on campus back then.

Ryan: Was the principal Mr. Banks then?

Charles: Yeah, he was the principal then. He was there, came in about the same time I did.

Ryan: What do you remember about him?

Charles: Being freshman, you get lost 'cause coming from a one-room school, you get over there, you got sixteen buildings on it. It's like coming here to Tech, you can't find your way around. So we'd get out there and get lost. And we'd say, Mr. Banks, where is the science class and he'd say, I don't know, I'm new, too. He knew where it was, but he'd say, you better be there in five minutes. I don't know, I'm new too. That's what I remember about him and he was real strict 28:00about if you got in trouble, you'd get penalized. The penalty was you'd have to pick up paper during lunch time. So we could always tell who got in trouble because they were out there picking up paper while we were having lunch. And if you got in real trouble you'd get expelled from school for three days. And some of them, I mean real bad trouble, you'd get expelled from school forever. A lot of kids never finished their education over there because he was just strict like that. I don't know why he was like that. Some families now are really bitter towards him. We got some kids now that won't participate in the alumni association because they were thrown out of school. So that's just how he was, real strict. And the building, the classroom building, Edgar A. Long, that's the building standing. If you've been on campus, there's one building there, two-story building, that's the Edgar A. Long building. That was the only real building on campus built for a classroom. The west side was the boys' dormitory and the east side was the girls'. And you had to go in that side of the building. You couldn't go in what they called girls' side or boys' side. If your dorm is on this side, that's the side of the building you entered. To this day, 29:00I've never been through the girls' side. [laughter] Now, I could go through there. I feel this is forbidden territory. Never been through there. Now if you get caught going through there, you were in big trouble.

Ryan: How about the classes? Were those separated, boys' and girls'?

Charles: No, they weren't. They weren't. But they were a long time ago. When the school first started, back before my time, they were. They were separated. At first, when the school was first established, the kids studied at night, they worked on the farm during the day, they paid tuition during the day. So then, the classes, they were separate. They just had, in the cafeteria I understand, the boys over on this table over there and the girls were over here. They'd eat the same way. They would separate ya and you better not be caught in the girls' dormitory. You better not be caught in the girls' dormitory or boys' dormitory. 30:00You're in big trouble, you'd get thrown out of school. They got guidelines to finish. You know when you come there, they tell it to you, they read it to you, and you get it on a piece of paper--the do's and don't do's, and the punishment for it, and they'd follow it, they'd stick to it.

Ryan: Very strict administration over there?

Charles: They were, they were. But, the teachers, they were really interested in learning. If you had some problem with some subjects or something, you could go to their room at lunchtime. Sometimes, they stayed in the lunchroom and ate, most of 'em. If you had problems, you'd just go up to that room, and they would go over the stuff during their lunch time. They was concerned about you getting the education. This is not you come in, it's up to you to get it, like it is in college now. Then, they were very helpful, make sure that you learned.


Ryan: So did you have a favorite teacher? Do you remember her or him?

Charles: Yeah, Mrs. Broadwell.

Ryan: What do you remember about her?

Charles: She just happened to be the one who helped me when I needed some help [laughter] and she always stayed in her room for some reason. Some of them didn't stay in their room for lunch time, but she did. She was english.

Ryan: All right. And so all the teachers lived on campus, too, you said, in the dormitory?

Charles: No, they didn't. Some of 'em did and some of 'em lived in the town of Christiansburg and some of 'em lived in Radford and Pulaski. They rode the bus with the students.

Ryan: Really?

Charles: Yeah, they rode down with the students. They always had the seat right behind the driver. The same way our bus, too. We picked up a lady just right down there on the corner, but she was a white lady. She was teaching in a school over there, out of Christiansburg going down 114. We dropped her off, picked her 32:00up every evening, and dropped her off down here on the corner. She always sat behind the bus driver, too. That's their place.

Ryan: That's great, that's great. [laughter]

Charles: But some of the teachers lived in the town of Christiansburg and they drove over herself. Some of them had a taxi, would come bring 'em over every morning and pick 'em up every evening. We had teachers from Pulaski. We had about three buses run from Pulaski. A lot of kids in Pulaski. Pulaski County, 33:00three buses.

Ryan: Three buses, every day, there and back?

Charles: Yeah, every day. And the kids from Christiansburg walked to school. They weren't permitted to ride the bus. They had to walk.

Ryan: Now those kids from Pulaski County, were there a lot more of them than there were of kids from Christiansburg and Blacksburg?

Charles: Yeah, right. There were. A lot more.

Ryan: A lot more of 'em?

Charles: And Radford, too. Radford only had one bus though, but Pulaski had three.

Ryan: Oh, okay.

Charles: It wasn't just Pulaski. Pulaski County, go over there in Draper and all them places [inaudible 33:15]. So they had three buses. Then they picked up Dublin, too.

Ryan: Okay. And they all kind of rode together on one of these three buses?

Charles: That's right and the students drove the bus. From Pulaski, it was students driving buses.

Ryan: All right. So what do you remember about being in CI during the winter time, 'cause I read some of the stories that say, sometimes we had to stop class 34:00just to chop wood and make fires and stuff. Do you remember anything like that?

Charles: No, that was before my time. [laughter]

Ryan: Before your time. [laughter] All right.

Charles: Sometimes it'd get so cold in the classroom we go over and had those big radiators, or something they called them, and we'd ask to go stand by that to keep warm. Sometimes we were being taught standing up. They didn't stop class. You just stood over there and get warm and they kept teaching. They were, the classes, were real strict about exams. They were so strict on tests, especially two of the teachers, you dare not try to cheat. They had two doors at the classroom,. He'd walk out of one door, you'd think he was gone, and he'd sneak back in the back door, and he's walking up behind you, looking over at your paper. And he'd check your hand, make sure you don't have nothing marked on it. He was a history teacher. Eventually when the school closed, he came to 35:00Blacksburg and was a history teacher at Blacksburg High School.

Ryan: So what was his name?

Charles: Holmes. We had several Holmes there. Holmes was a sorta educated family as far as teacher family. They still are.

Ryan: And were they from this area?

Charles: They're from Christiansburg, and one of them graduated from Virginia Tech, and he's teaching now down in North Carolina. His sister graduated, I don't know, I assume maybe Radford, I'm guessing. She's a school teacher, too. But, she's retired, too. But they were the teachers.

Ryan: All right.

Charles: A lot of teachers came from south, like North Carolina and so forth. We always changed teachers. You never had a teacher for two years. I didn't quite understand that then, but I know it now. Mr. Banks was getting so much money in the school budget and he couldn't elevate their pay. So he had to keep moving 36:00them along. And most of them were just right out of college. Some of 'em were probably only three years older than I. I was eighteen and some of them were just about twenty-two, the teachers. Back then, too, if you got two years of college--I've gone as a freshman and some of the teachers, some girls would be seniors, and before I graduate, that same girl was back there teaching us. Because she went down to Virginia State, got two years, two years college. You know Hampton or Tuskegee? That's where most of the kids went. There's another junior college down in Tennessee called Morristown, and that's where they would go. And they would go to Bluefield, Bluefield State. They'd get two years, they could come back and teach.

Ryan: Over in West Virginia?

Charles: Yeah, West Virginia. Bluefield State.

Ryan: How about, anybody from your class go off to college and come back to teach?

Charles: Yeah, not from--some of them did go back. I went in the army so I sort of lost a lot of 'em, but they did come back and taught there. Even from Wake Forest, we had Frank Bannister. The Bannister family was down there and they came back. They went to Tuskegee. One of them was always in my class. He was just so smart, he skipped every class in elementary school. He was out of elementary school and down to out of high school. When I got to high school he was finished high school. He wasn't in my class in elementary school. There was not much different, probably two years older. But, his aunt was a school teacher 37:00and we always blamed her for favoritism. You know, because he was skipping classes all the way through, but he was just that smart. He went to Christiansburg, finished that in four years, went down to Tuskegee and finished that. He's retired now, teaching at Toledo University, where he's teaching. So we thought that he had favoritism.

Ryan: [laughter]

Charles: But some of them, yeah, they came back. None of them I was actually with in school came back towards me, but they did come back.

Ryan: So we've already talked a little bit about some of the classes that you had, but maybe you can tell us a little bit about going through the introductory courses or choosing what subject you wanted to study.

Charles: Yeah, the six weeks introductory classes. They called it exploratory classes, what they called it, exploratory. And that second year, your sophomore 38:00year, you already chose what class you wanted to study. You gonna be in agriculture, barber, bricklayer. We didn't have mechanics. Over the years of the school, the classes changed according to what period it was. Back in the early days, before my time, when you had horses, they made horseshoes and wheels, what they called, wheelwrights or something like that. Cartwright or something they'd call it, making wheels. At one time, they'd have nursing there. Whatever was needed or whatever the period was and needed, once you graduated school, you could go and get a job, that's what they taught. They just happened to be teaching those courses when I was there because that's where the jobs were. So, barbering was three hours. You'd take barbering either first three hours in the 39:00morning, maybe my sophomore year, first three hours, and my junior year, the second three hours. After you get through the freshman year you'd always have to have math this one year, required. But english was required all four years. And science, after that, you can choose. You select your pick. So I went into biology and that's as far as I went in the science line. But they did have chemistry, trigonometry, and all that kind of stuff. That math part wasn't me. But then, when I was there, if you told 'em that you were going to college, they sorta put you in college classes where you prepare you for college. They did that for the ones that was going to college. They left, they did well, because they were prepared when they got there


Ryan: And they just took a few more academic classes?

Charles: They did, they did. More selective classes. They guided them in that direction. So they took a lot of those classes. Literature and a lot of other stuff. Writing and all that stuff, courses that you gonna need when you go to college. So they guided them. Guys like myself and some of the others, in the trades, we didn't have to do those.

Ryan: So most of your friends, were they in the trade routes like you were? Or did you have friends from kinda all over the school?

Charles: No, they weren't. Some of them weren't. Some of them was college bound, some of them just wanted to get out of high school. Didn't take a trade, just took the easiest thing they could do. They just wanted to get out. But then, they had a lot of courses you could take. Some of the guys, and the principal 41:00before I got there--. Football--I played football, too, incidentally, my junior and senior year. So after you get finished with those classes during the day, you'd go out and practice football. And coming from Wake Forest--there wasn't but four of us from Wake Forest, three from Blacksburg, seven all told. We didn't have any way to get home. Them eighteen miles, so we'd practice and my grandmother didn't want me to play football 'cause she was always afraid I was going to get hurt. Which I did get hurt, my arm, I had a bandages all over, but I would take it off when I get home and act like it wasn't hurt. Then my brother did tell them that I had gotten hurt, and when I got back to school, they'd have to tape it back up. Sometimes I think, how foolish it was that I did that. I walked many times from Christiansburg to Blacksburg. Many, many nights.

Ryan: After practice?

Charles: Yeah, yeah.

Ryan: That's a long walk

Charles: Until my first year, the junior year. Only one time I had to walk the 42:00whole thing. After you get to Blacksburg, you had to walk down to Wake Forest. But it would be four of us. We'd just be walkin' and singing along, eating apples. We made it. I'd get home sometimes at one o' clock at night. We didn't have enough time to study. We had one of my classmates, she was a real bright student, she would do the homework for us and we'd get back on the bus. She lived down in Vicker, where we had to go down there, she'd just start passing papers out and we had to copy it, change it around so they wouldn't know that it's been copied. If it wasn't for her, I wouldn't have made it through school. No way I could have done it again. So the second year, after the first year of walking from Christiansburg--. Now, we caught rides, some of the people from the neighborhood would come over from Blacksburg and some of 'em from Christiansburg to see us practice. But the whole time, you're out there practicing, you're looking over there to see if you see anybody you know on the sideline or looking for a car. Because, otherwise, if you don't see it, that means you're gonna 43:00walk. So, sometimes, some of 'em, they'd just load--it was six of us, seven. They'd just load all seven of us up in the car, see how many we can get in. There was one guy from Blacksburg, he would always come over there. But other people would pick you up. When we'd get right down here on the corner, you out of Blacksburg. People coming by, we'd just thumb, you'd just hitch hike. People from McCoy down there, they would pick us up. They knew we were students practicing football. So we did get a lot of rides. Just one time, I said I had to walk all the way from over there 'cause I didn't get a ride to Blacksburg, and you got down there on the corner here before, we couldn't get a ride to Wake Forest. So we had to walk. That's just the love of football. I love football, loved to play it. The second year, I wised up, I came to Tech. There's three buildings on Tech campus I helped to build. So we came and we worked at the buildings over there. I think Williams Hall was one of the buildings I helped to 44:00build, and made money and bought a car. So we went back my senior year, we were riding. I was driving, we were riding. We didn't walk that year. Some of the other guys from Wake Forest, they played baseball. They had a baseball team, football team, we didn't have a basketball team because we had no gym, and no 45:00place to practice. But they did have a basketball court up there. And the guys, every day--we didn't play a team, we didn't play other schools--but they would run up there, once you out for half an hour, they would rush up there occupy the court so no other guys could play. Most of the guys that could play basketball were dormitory students, because they had plenty of time to practice. After school's over, they right there on campus, so they would run up there and stake out the court and wouldn't let nobody else come. Some people could play pretty good basketball. They would play basketball during that hour, or lunch hour. They happen to be the lost alumni, the ones who was in the dorms. Once they left, went back home, apparently didn't keep no record. I was one time the president of the alumni association. We tried to, we didn't have no way of contacting 'em, 'cause we didn't have no records.


Ryan: Just no records from them?

Charles: We didn't have school records, either. The school records over at the school board and the superintendent wouldn't let us get to the records for a time. Then finally, another gentleman, during that time, he let my people go over and we took the records and we got some pictures and a lot of stuff that that we hadn't seen.

Ryan: What about now, do you guys have any of those dormitory students in the alumni association now?

Charles: No, we don't. We don't know where they are. They came as far as Connecticut. Amongst the black communities, Christiansburg Institute was a real good school for education and a lot of places didn't have any high schools. The families that had money or something, they'd send their kids down to Christiansburg Institute. And it was real disciplined, too. Maybe they wanted the discipline. Then they wanted to be religious. A lot of the students who 47:00graduated are ministers all over the place now. Even now, everybody seems to be a minister but me.

Ryan: [laughter]

Charles: Because they taught 'em young. You had to say a bible verse and you sang religion songs, so it's a lot of ministers from Christiansburg Institute.

Ryan: How about after graduation? Can you tell me what you did after graduation?

Charles: Three weeks after graduation, while I was in high school senior year, I excelled in barbering. And so, the instructor had a barber shop in Roanoke. As a matter of fact, he drove up from Roanoke everyday, too. He had a barber shop, so the better students, he carried them down on week end. We'd go down on Friday evening after school and went Fridays up to about twelve o'clock, eleven o'clock at night. Next morning, back in the barbershop at seven, work all day. So that's what I did in my senior year in high school. Then he had a place for us to stay 48:00in Salem, so it was actually just mostly two. He'd take two students. So that's what I did. Three weeks after I got outta high school and I went down, I worked with the barber shop, and I got drafted into the military. I went down to Georgia for training, then from Georgia came back home to Blacksburg for ten days and I ended up, I was in Korea.

Ryan: And how long were you there?

Charles: One year in Korea. And about another year, close to a year, in Japan. And I was a military policeman.

Ryan: Then, after Korea and Japan, did you come back to Blacksburg?

Charles: I came back to Blacksburg, yeah, and couldn't buy a job here. I tried to get a policeman's job because I had policeman training. None of the police departments were hiring blacks, weren't no blacks on police forces around. None, 49:00Radford, Christiansburg, nowhere that's here. In Roanoke, they only had one black policeman. He was right up on the street where I used to work. Because Henry Street, that was the black district. I knew him, his name was Adamson. They'd say, we have Adams on Henry Street, we don't need no more policemen. So I didn't get a job. But when I came back, shortly after I came back from the army, about to leave this phase of my life, I met a guy while I was in the army that was going to college out at Bluefield--it's called West Virginia State, that's down in Charleston Institute, it's called now. I had a aunt lived out there. He drove right by my aunt, almost front door, going to school. He tried to talk me in to coming out there to go to college. So I went down there, I came out and went to Charleston, stayed with my aunt to go in there, but it was during the 50:00time--I was about a week late getting out there. The school had started, as far as enrollment and all that stuff. It was so many service guys coming out of the military, and they couldn't find a job and West Virginia got coal mines. Even when I came back here, the coal mines had closed, but I wasn't going in coal mines. When we was kids, when you get sixteen, they introduce you to the coal mines. They walk ya down to the coal mines, you go in there, and they show you what life is like. You walk into the coal mine and I kept looking, but they told us, said, if you don't like it, you can go back. You can turn around and go back. And I kept lookin' back in the hole, you can see daylight. Finally, you don't see. Once I didn't see anymore, I turned around and walked back. Another kid did, too. I didn't, he didn't know. We just shared each other's tracks. We didn't know who was there, until we got out, we found out who. I knew then, I needed to do something else other than coal mines. That wasn't for me. I was 51:00never in the coal mines anymore. So then, I went in and tried to get in school down there, and back then, even in college, they had barbering courses. They taught barbering in Virginia State and West Virginia. Most Black colleges, they had barbering there. So I talked to a guy and he gave me a job, he offered me a job because he needed some help. Then I was going to play football. I got all lined up that way but I didn't get lined up with administration. They were saying, the college, we can't take no more students. We got more than we can handle. Because all the GIs was coming out and getting the GI Bill and that's what I would've been going on, too. They said, come down here every day and if anybody quit, drop out, you in. I went down there every day, so I tell people now I'm alumnus.

Ryan: [Laughter]

Charles: I went to school down there for a whole week but never attended a class.

Ryan: [Laughter]

Charles: Then, after a while, they said go up into town, there's a nice school 52:00up there. Maybe you can get in there. I went up there, they was filled too, so I stayed out there for a month or two, then I decided to come back here.

Ryan: Work as a barber still?

Charles: Nah, I wasn't working, doing anything. I didn't want to just live off of my aunt, but then, when you get out of the army, they would give you a hundred dollars a month. They called it mustering-out pay. Now, if guys get out now, they get five, six hundred dollars a month. But, some of the other states, like West Virginia, got a lot more money 'cause the state give you some money. Virginia never gave their veterans any pay. But some other states ya do. So the guys in West Virginia was probably getting a lot more than I was gettin'. But, they were tryin' to get in school so I couldn't get in. I was just trying to 53:00prove to my mama and my parents and them that I'm gonna go to college. Because they'd tell me I couldn't go. Financially, I couldn't go, yeah.

Ryan: So when did you come back to Blacksburg and become a barber? How'd that happen?

Charles: I came back, while I was in West Virginia, my brother here was working up at Hillcrest, that was the girls dorm up there and he was saying they needed some help in the kitchen up there. He called me, and I just came on back. Came back and got a job up there. And now I remember I was a solid person. I made all the solids. So then, later on, me and one of the other guys up there, we couldn't get to work on time. You had to be at work at six o'clock, and I had a car and was out running around. Roanoke, all over the place. So they said, alright, since you can't come in to work today, we got a bedroom downstairs. You guys can stay in the bedroom so we can make sure you at work. So he and I stayed 54:00in the dorm, down in the basement of the dorm. So at six o'clock, they had us up in the kitchen then. I worked there for about a year, maybe not, maybe nine months. Then I cut this little boy's hair, he was a shoe shine boy at the barber shop on campus. There was a barber shop in Squires Student Center. It was called Tech Barber Shop. The boy lived right next door to that building up there, that hall, Odd Fellows Hall. He went back to work the next day and they dissect my haircut. He had hard hair. He had real curly hair, straight and curly. That's the hardest hair to cut and I'd cut it decent. They looked at it, then they said, if this guy can cut your hair, he can cut anybody's hair. So they sent him, told him to find me and asked me to come down, so I went down there. I could do everything but a flat top then. So I told them, I couldn't do a flat 55:00top. Said, we'll teach you. My day off up there, I go down on Wednesday, taught me how to do a flat top. So I went down there and school started in September then. That was when they was on the quarter system. I went down there and started working and help them get through. See, the whole school was all cadets, a few graduate students around. It was all cadets and the girls. Hillcrest had about hundred girls at the time. That was about it. They needed some help to cut the freshmen. Freshmen back then wore long hair. Now you see the freshmen here that walk around all bald-headed. They didn't do that then. You gave them a decent haircut. I got a picture, I'll show you of them back then. So there was a bookstore in Squires, too. The students be standing in line to get books. They'd just step out of line, come in the barber shop, and get a haircut. Then they'd 56:00get back in the same line. And the bookstore, they had about two runners, I guess they'd call 'em. You come in and order you a book and this guy gotta go back in the other room and try to find the book and bring that out there to you. And then, before they finished selling all of the books, they'd run out of books. They assigned two students per book. You and your roommate, if you studied the same thing, you had one book. Sometimes it would be three weeks before they got your book. You'd see em in the barbers, your book come in? Have your book come in? So I went there and I stayed eighteen years. The two gentlemen that was working there, they eventually quit. One of 'em, he was from Bristol, Tennessee and he had promised his wife and daughter when she got ready to go off to college that he'd come back home 'cause wife would be by herself. He went back in [19]58. I went there in [19]56 and he left in [19]58. The other guy was a minister. He left later on, so then I had to employ some other people. 57:00I stayed there until [19]74. I left in [19]74 and opened up my own shop up here in town, up on Main Street. I told you, beside Cooks Clean Center. So I been in business thirty-eight years, from the time I started up there.

Ryan: So while you were working up at the Tech barber shop, do you remember some of the first black students that were at Tech?

Charles: I sure do.

Ryan: And did they come and get their haircut by you?

Charles: They weren't permitted to get their haircuts there. I had to go to their dorm. I mean to their room. They didn't have no dorm. The first black students that came to Tech, they came in 19[53]. Charlie Yates, he was the very first one. No, Charlie wasn't the first one, I'm sorry. He was the first one to graduate.

Ryan: He was the first one to graduate. That's what I was thinking, too.

Charles: They got a building over there named after him. The other building, what's it called? Yates and--


Katie Haas: Peddrew. Peddrew-Yates.

Charles: Yeah. Peddrew was the first. He was the very first. But two other students came with him. One was named Floyd or something. I didn't know 'em. I was in service. See, they came in [19]53, and that's when I went to Korea, in [19]53. I just met Peddrew when he came back here recently. About ten years ago, he came back for a reunion. Because he'd sworn he never gonna come back to Tech. Yates persuaded him to come back. So, he did come back. That was first time I met him. He's asked me about everybody in Blacksburg. Everybody he asked me about was deceased. I said, you've been out of here fifty years, you think these people still livin'? They're all deceased. When I went down there, it was, Charlie Yates was here, and Winston--Charlie Yates, Winston, and Cherry, and Finney. Was four of 'em. Their picture's down there on the wall down there in that room, the black history room.


Ryan: Yeah, I've seen that picture there.

Charles: They're the four, they're up on the wall there. I have to go back and look at the history of the state of Virginia, they had first massive resistance. You wasn't gonna come under no circumstance. Under no circumstance a black man is gonna enter a predominately white institution in the state of Virginia. There's a little clause in there that says, unless some subject they wanna be taught, we'll say engineer, that's not taught in any school in the State of Virginia. It happened to be engineering. After massive resistance they had, I think it was called, freedom of choice. Freedom of choice might have been the last one. There was three phases they went through, keeping blacks out of school. Mass resistance was one, freedom of choice--freedom of choice might have been the last one. There was one in between I can't remember. But anyway, they 60:00got in on the second one. They could come to school, but they can only go to class. They had to be in the corps, they was in the corps of cadets. They could go to class and back to their room. If they even come through Squires Student Center to get a soda, they had to get the soda and keep walking, or sandwich, and keep walking. And see, I had instructions, I went down there. The guys that told me was there before me, said you can't cut the black students. Or not only students, there's no blacks in this shop, and we were all blacks. Those guys, they found me, I didn't find them. They found me, they came down and said, I understand you're a barber, I want you to cut my hair. So I went around to their room and cut their hair. Then, later on, more and more students would come, more black students come. Then they gave me permission, I could cut even then, I 61:00could cut their hair after a while, maybe the first year. They gave me permission to cut their hair before eight o'clock or after six o'clock, 'cause the hours were eight to six, the opening hours. And, so, I used to cut their hair after six o'clock in the barber shop at Tech and there was just four of them. The rest of the barbers, was five of us barbers, they wouldn't stay and cut their hair. They would leave when it was time to go home. I'd become the manager then so it was up to me to or ain't nobody gonna cut it. That was doing pretty good and after a while, more black students come. Then, more of them wanted a haircut. So, I ended up being down there nine, ten o'clock at night cutting hair. So, one day, in about [19]62, I decided I had enough of that. And so, I just told them, two, 'bout four of them came in, cut their hair and I said, I'm gonna make a grand announcement. From now on, you guys are gonna get your hair cut from eight to six just like everybody else and I did it. And I 62:00thought I'd probably lose my job down there.

Ryan: [laughter]

Charles: The guy that was in charge was named Harry Clingenpeel. Very segregationist.

Ryan: Really? That was the owner there?

Charles: He was the business manager for-

Ryan: Okay, the manager-

Charles: and was working for the athletic association. All that stuff was the athletic association. And, my head man was the head coach, the person I had to go to if I had a problem. The guy was there in the building, his office. And he was the one that would take care of the payroll and the hiring, and firing, everything. He was the business manager, for the athletic association to take care of all of the athletic association. Then, they operated everything- the concessions on campus. They had the sandwich shop, the barber shop, at one time it was the shoe shop but it wasn't the shoe shop at that time, the cleaners, and the bookstore, and they had all of that. This is how they made money to give 63:00scholarships to the athletes. During my tenure down there, the students got wind of it, that this is how the money was generated for the other students, and they boycotted it. They boycotted all everything down there, the barbershop and everything. Say, you not giving us money, we not gonna spend any money.

Ryan: Uh-huh.

Charles: So, then the athletic association took it out of their hands and what you have there right now, I can't think of the name of it, put it over in there. So, I got checks showing the athletic association of Virginia Tech.

Ryan: Really?

Charles: So, but anyway, I just told them to come and I didn't talk to the guy about it. I didn't ask for permission because I thought he was gonna fire me. So I kept doing it. I just did it on my own, that was 19[62]. And then, during the summer, since there was no students here, cadets here at Tech, there was no work for us- very little work. We had staff at Tech and you had some, back then, you 64:00had school teachers come to get a master's degree and they would come in. But, not that many, probably twenty-five in the whole school and so there wasn't much work and at Quantico, the Marine Corps school, that's the reason I know where she live, they needed barbers up there because they had a lot of troops up there and one barber from Blacksburg was already up there and he came down and recruited us. So, three of us would just leave and go to Quantico for the summer. Meanwhile, one gentleman who left down there, he was married and he had a family he didn't want to leave. He just wanted to stay here. So, one of the janitors went out there and told Mr. Clingenpeel that- they called us coloreds- they cuttin' them coloreds back there. So he went out there and asked Mr. Morgan, said, I understand you're cuttin' these coloreds out here and he said, yes I am. He said, who gave you permission? Said, Mr. Johnson gave me permission. He said, I'll take that up with him when he gets back and to this day, he never said a word to me.

Ryan: Really? [laughter]


Charles: The sky didn't fall on henny-penny, didn't fall, he did nothin' about it. So, from then on, the blacks had started comin' and the town folks, too. They started coming down there. But then, the town folks wanted to come- right up here was a house, and I opened up a barbershop in the basement of the house called Harlem Barber Shop and I would cut, we got off at twelve o'clock there and I would come up here and cut blacks or whomever wanted their haircut, not only blacks. I would just cut their hair 'til about ten, eleven o'clock at night.

Ryan: And that was after you closed up the shop-

Charles: After close-

Ryan: Over on Tech?

Charles: Yeah, right. We closed at twelve o'clock that day.

Ryan: Okay.

Charles: So, those guys, the freshmen, the black students that first came here I was their financer and everything. Because, they didn't have a car, most of them wanted to be pilots or something. They had to get out to the airport, the airport didn't have a road off campus, after you got half way up there where those bridges and turn and go back to the airport. I let 'em use my car and I 66:00used to take 'em home to Norfolk. All of 'em was from Richmond and Norfolk. When they got ready to go home, I'd put 'em in my [19]56 Ford and drove 'em down there. So, a couple of times I didn't want to drive down there, I let Yates- he was the only one that had a driver's license, I let 'em take the car down there and go. So Yates would take 'em home and the way, Winston especially, he used to hang with me and another guy. Winston drank a lot. He tells everybody I caused him to drink, he was drinking when he hit the campus. He just drank and get drunk but he'd never fall or anything. But, he drank a lot. I wouldn't have drank, I couldn't drink heavy stuff. Winston would go everywhere with us. So, on weekends we'd just get in the car and go to football games to other colleges. And I used to go with them at other colleges. One thing we would do was go to other colleges- they had buddies at all these black colleges and they'd just go and we'd just find a bed or somethin' that was open, that's where we slept. And then, Sunday night we'd get in the car and come on back to campus. I carried 67:00them all the way to Tuskegee.

Ryan: Really?

Charles: We went to Tuskegee. Because one of my cousins was going to school, I was tellin' you about, he was going to school down there and he wanted to go back for homecoming. Thanksgiving is a big day down there- it's a great big day something like- it is homecoming. We went down there and one story about Tuskegee I tell everybody. Old Winston, he had a pack of Winstons- that was his last name, Winston, he kept a pack of Winston cigarettes in his pocket and he had a Virginia Tech shirt on. And this was [19]58, none of them schools down in Alabama had any black students, they just sort of followed us around campus. We didn't know what for, finally, I didn't know Winston had told them that he was a member of the Winston family- an heir to the Winston family and he'd always reach in his pocket and give 'em a Winston Cigarette. Offered them a cigarette. They doubted that, too, which he wasn't.

Ryan: [laughter]

Charles: But he was a Tech student. So we got down to the table at the 68:00cafeteria. There was three students, two girls and one guy. They sat right, straight across from 'em. So Winston been tellin' them he was going to school at Tech so she wrote a problem in math and he told 'em that he was an engineer, so she wrote a math problem and pushed it across the table and said, solve this. So, Winston solved it right quick and pushed it back. So, the three of them got their heads together and they looked at it, so the spokeslady in the group, she walked up, looked right straight at Winston and said, we believe without a doubt that you are in somebody's college but you damn sure is not in Virginia Tech. You damn sure is not in Virginia Tech. They never did believe it. Plus, they was the only black students going there. So they never did believe it. But she put it on him. But I would take them 'round to the high school because I still knew 69:00a lot the high school kids. Introduce them to high school kids. They had some girlfriends, they had some night clubs around here, which they was too young to get in. But I carried 'em out there with me, they'd let 'em on in there. Even when Yates, when they dedicated the building for 'em, he told the group, if it wasn't for Johnson, I wouldn't have made it through school here. He told 'em. But, I loaned 'em money. Some of them didn't have any money or anything. They shouldn't have been here as far as and they had a rough time. See, I would hear because when I'd go up there at night time they would be talking about their day in school. And you know, some people would call them names, racial names and all that. The fact that they was the world's worst, they was more sore than the students. The students weren't that bad. Sometimes, I'd see some of them cry, 70:00really, some of the things they've gone through the course of the day. One old professor here, he vowed that no blacks gonna pass his class regardless of what grade they make. But, so happens, some of the students really helped them out. This one girl in particular, she would help them with their work and tell 'em what's going on, you know, from what she'd hear. She was the one that told them, just don't take no classes under this professor so they stayed away from him. She would help 'em a lot. I remember she was from Orange, Virginia. I don't know her name but I remember the town she was from and she would help 'em. There was one dean, a dean, one of the buildings probably named after him. He had a son and daughter here, in engineering, and they helped 'em, those two kids helped them a lot. But, the students weren't the problem, it was some of the staff, 71:00even to the president.

Ryan: Yeah, I remember.

Charles: I'm being recorded but I'm gonna tell the truth.

Ryan: That's alright. That's what we're looking for.

Charles: Dr. Newman, he wouldn't let 'em, he personally went down there or sent a delegation down there, into Charlie Yates's house, sat in the living room and tried to persuade him not to come to Tech. But he was telling the reason he shouldn't want to come here was because of the things they was going to be facing. Which he did, he told the truth about that. But he was just determined to come to Virginia Tech. That kind of stuff they had to go through. It was rough for 'em, they would live off campus and then they have to have drill on Tuesday and Thursday. They either had to walk all the way back to town to change clothes, because you had to put on a different uniform, dress uniform for drill. 72:00Some of the students would let them come in to their room. They wasn't supposed to, but they'd let them come in and change clothes.

Ryan: So, did they have friends on campus, some of the white students they were friendly with?

Charles: Yeah, sure. They did.

Ryan: And so-

Charles: There's always going to be a few good ones out there. But yeah, they had some. They sure did.

Ryan: But, what I wanted to ask you, we were just talking about Charlie Yates, are you still in contact with Charlie?

Charles: Charlie passed, just about two years ago.

Katie: Oh, that's right.

Ryan: Oh, I didn't realize that.

Charles: I was in contact with, as a matter of fact, I went down to his funeral. Charlie Yates, he stayed in contact through the whole time. He would, all over, he worked for an industry for probably fifteen to twenty years. Every time he'd come through- because his wife is from here. As a matter of fact, Charlie Yates used my car to- he got married right up here at that little building up there. 73:00He didn't get married in the building- the minister, he lived out here-from the Methodist church. He graduated that day, came home, pulled off his gown and all that stuff, put on his clothes to come get married, got on his bike and rode his bike out here to get married. I guess his wife--his girlfriend--I think her family brought her over. She was from over in Christiansburg, around out there. But when he came back he asked to use my car to go on a honeymoon just one night. I washed the car, polished up, had it sittin' round out where they lived. They came back, got in the car, and left and I didn't see my car for three days. I think he went to Norfolk somewhere. One night. I didn't see it for three days. That car was gone.

Ryan: [laughter] Oh, man.

Charles: But he kept in touch with me the whole time, his children and all. Then eventually he moved back, you know, he taught at Tech. He came back here and taught about five years. Then he left and got a job down at Old Dominion. Well, 74:00he went to Hampton, they wanted to start to set up a department of engineering. They didn't have a department of engineering down there. They wanted to set it up and they didn't give him the money he needed to get the staff. So he went over to Old Dominion for a year, then he came back to Tech, so he retired from Tech. And he was on the Board at Tech too.

Ryan: Good, good. Well, I just have a couple more questions. More about CI, but I wanted to ask you about the close of CI and how that impacted the community over here, how it impacted the black community around here.

Charles: It did. It happened suddenly for one thing. It wasn't one of these things where we planned to close down. What had happened, when they opened all the schools for blacks could attend. I think that's the freedom of choice. The 75:00school students in Pulaski, the families in Pulaski said, I'm not gonna send my student, my child, all the way down to Christiansburg Institute, I'm just gonna educate you in Pulaski. And so, then they did that, then the ones in Radford decided they were gonna do the same thing. Then, after a while them three busses, four busses, from Floyd, Floyd was coming up here, too. Floyd started coming to school when I was- if you finished in Floyd, you couldn't afford to pay for education, Floyd and Giles, the counties would give tuition to come to Christiansburg Institute for students that wanted to come. So, Floyd was doin' it before. But when I went there, they brought a bus up from Floyd. So Floyd decided, I'm gonna educate mine here. So, after a while, they looked around and we didn't have about three-hundred and fifty students at school. After a while, you got less than one-hundred, about a hundred and we can't run a high school 76:00with a hundred students. So, that's when they abruptly decided closing. So, just now, we're looking for artifacts. See, they had real good football teams and basketball teams and a special baseball. We had trophies, all kinds of trophies. Can't find a one of 'em now. We don't have any trophies. We don't know what happened to them. They closed abruptly and almost said, Open house! Come get, come pick out what you want. In [19]66, I didn't know about it, everybody gone and got everything they want. Had I known, I would have gotten some of them trophies. And we got one band uniform, some of the people that got some of that stuff, they've eventually given it back to us or some of their children gave it back because they're sitting around dying and that's still there. What's this here? They'd find out and give it back. So, we are getting a few things back, fifty years later.

Ryan: [laughter]

Charles: And it was very disturbing to the parents and everybody, but we 77:00couldn't do nothing about it. Then, after a while, a few more years after that, they started tearing the property buildings down and sold the property. The buildings were perfectly good buildings. That's the way they did it. Then all of a sudden, they needed, just before New River College or something opened up and said, needed another school to start a junior college. They didn't have none. All the facilities was right there. This is what other neighborhoods do, they didn't tear them schools down. Salem and Roanoke, they didn't tear their schools down. And then they sold it, they sold it to-

Ryan: Yeah.

Charles: If you go all the way to Christiansburg, I say if you get to the railroad track. You go to Christiansburg, you know where the railroad track and right there at Cambria Street where the recreation center, our property ran from that right there all the way to the other railroad down there. I don't know if you know-you drive over top of it down there. There and it went for miles, back over going west. All that neighborhood over there called [inaudible 1:17:42], 78:00all them houses over, that was where Christiansburg's property because there's a lot of farm property. Even when I was in school, Virginia Tech, they rented the properties because the high school had stopped farming. We used to see Virginia Tech tractors come by all the time, disturbing us in classroom. They're going down on the farm. Now, it's a cemetery, Christiansburg Institute has its own cemetery there. The early pioneers and so forth, they're buried over there. And it's right in the back- we have to walk through people's yards to get to the cemetery, we had to get permission. We go there once a year or something. Had to get permission to come through their yard to the cemetery. Right in the back. And that whole area is over there. But people were really disturbed by it. Frankly, they couldn't do nothing about it.


Ryan: So, this is probably the last question I have for you. But what do you want people to know about the Christiansburg Institute that they don't already know? People like Katy and I.

Charles: It was a real good place to get an education. All the times I was there, I wasn't one of the better students. I ended up a C+ students, that's the highest I could get. We were being told that we were getting an inferior education compared to the Blacksburg, Christiansburg High and all them places. You thought that 'cause you didn't know any different. So, having gone in the army three weeks after I was out of high school, I learned that it wasn't. You get thrown in with a lot of other people around--I was in, this was called the first army district, all the way from New York all the way down to Georgia. We 80:00get thrown in and then it went out to Mississippi and Alabama. All of us military guys got together. When you first get there, they have a guy up there, back then, they called a bullhorn. It's a horn thing you put up in front of your mouth and it amplifies to the whole room. Now, you don't have to go through that anymore and he would be up there callin' off instructions, things you do. And, in the army, they line you up according to your last name. So I had a Johnson, a Johnson. There was three Johnsons, I was a black Johnson, two white Johnsons on both sides of me. They kept on, the two whites was saying, they was down from Tennessee and they just didn't have much education. I didn't know it. They was saying, I can't hear, I can't hear the guy and the guy was blastin'. They just didn't understand, they didn't know how to write. They had papers- they say something you have to write this, you have to mark this and they didn't know it. They didn't know how to do it. But I didn't know at the time, it was on both sides of me. They was botherin' me so, asking what did he say and what did it, that I just took both of 'em papers, I was markin' three papers.


Ryan: [laughter]

Charles: And then after, being in the service with 'em, basic training I found out that these guys--we Johnsons, 'cause everywhere you go, the Johnsons, they grab you, they group you according to your last name--I found out these guys could hardly read and write. They'd draft you, if you could carry a rifle, you went in. That's when I found out. And then I said, well, my education wasn't that bad because when I was in there with a lot of guys I felt superior to them as far as education. Then I knew how to drill and do all that stuff 'cause one of the guys had come back from the army when I was in school to finish his education. Some of them would come back, because they was getting money to do that. And this guy, he always wanted to drill us at physical ed. That was another required subject. I knew there was another one, you always had to take physical ed four years. At phys, he would always take us out and drill us- you know, drill us to death. So, one time, we had a choice to either drill or pick up rocks. They had done the football field, but there's a thousand little pebble 82:00rocks over there. So you take a big bucket and you walk down there and pick up rocks all through the whole physical ed period. So we take a choice and we pick up rocks or let him drill us. But I learned how to drill real well. I knew how to salute and everything. So, I got in the army, they kept coming up and saying, what military school did you attend? I said, I didn't attend any. They said, how do you know all this stuff? I said, well I told them about this guy, he was a drill sergeant in the army. I said, he came back in high school and he taught us that.

Ryan: There ya go.

Charles: But, other than that, it's pretty hard for me to explain. It's sort of a togetherness that we had, even now. It's amazing when we have reunions how everybody comes back, everybody from a different class. We have rap sessions. We just sit there and talk about school. You talkin' about different years. You 83:00know, people graduated back in the [19]40s, they would say how it was. Then, we compare notes. Everybody, they just talk about funny things, things in school. Mr. Banks was always the subject.

Ryan: [laughter]

Charles: He was always up to something, Marking him-

Ryan: Uh-huh. Especially those last twenty years or so, right?

Charles: Yeah, right. Yeah.

Ryan: Because I guess back in the [19]40s, they would have had Mr. Giles, right?

Charles: Mr. Giles. Bubba Giles, they called 'em Bubba Giles.

Ryan: There ya go.

Charles: His real name was Stan or somethin' but everybody called him Bubba Giles. But they liked him because he would get out there and play football with them. He liked football, so he would get out there and get down there and practice with them. But they got away with things with him whereas Mr. Banks, Mr. Banks would never do it. Some of them guys that just came to school to play football. You'd see 'em at football season and once the season was over, you 84:00don't see 'em no more 'til the next year, they were back. Mr. Giles would do that. Mr. Banks wouldn't let them do it. Well, Mr. Banks, they were doing it. They came back. The guys were grown men, all of them had mustaches and everything. Some of 'em were even married. But they let 'em come back and play football. But the other schools was doing the same thing. So my coach was Mr. Sease. We was playing a game with Covington. They came up their early on the bus. The bus hadn't come, these guys would come up- they drove up in their car and they was asking them, coach, where do we change? Like change into their football uniforms. We would change in the basement of the boys dorm. He told 'em, over there. He said to the guys, you guys change? He said, we football. He said, where the rest of 'em? They said, they're coming up on the bus. The real kids were coming up on the bus. He went to Mr. Banks and told 'em and said, if these grown men out here playing against my boys we not gonna have it. So, Mr. 85:00Banks went to the association or somethin' and stopped it. After eighteen-and-a-half you couldn't play, because the guys was old. They would keep us, guys like myself, that's one reason why I didn't play my sophomore year because they had grown men out there and I wasn't gonna go out there and play them. So they stopped that. But they liked Mr. Giles because Mr. Giles let 'em get away with things. But Mr. Banks put a stop to all that.

Ryan: Well, those are all the questions I have for ya. But, is there anything you want to add? Anything that you want to talk about that I didn't ask you about?

Charles: You didn't ask me about growing up in Blacksburg in segregation. How life was with me being a black person in Blacksburg.

Ryan: Well, tell me about it.

Charles: Blacksburg, as a whole, is not near as bad as Christiansburg or some of these other places. But, Christiansburg, just really got a lot of rednecks over there, even now. But, now, they've kinda integrated with all of these other 86:00people comin' here. They alright. They're getting better. But Blacksburg, being an intellectual community, people came from different places and they didn't think like the others, so they weren't as bad. But Blacksburg, we still had our so-called place in Blacksburg. When I was about nine years of age, my grandmother--I probably wasn't nine, I was probably about seven. As I said, I came up with my mother. We would be downtown and on the corner down where they got a restaurant on the corner, that was a drugstore. It was a drugstore called Corner Drug Store forever. What's it? Moe's or something now? Yeah, right. That was the drug store. And my grandmother stopped in there to get something and a bunch of kids was sittin' up on the bar eating ice cream and so forth. And she bought me this ice cream, I wanted to eat ice cream up there with them kids, they were white kids. And she grabbed me and said, you can't eat your ice cream, 87:00she drug me on outta there and I was crying and so forth. I wanted to know why. I didn't know why I couldn't eat ice cream with them other kids. She got me back up there and she was telling me about segregation, saying this is the way it is, this is the way life is, going to be for you and so forth. So that was my first introduction of being- I knew some of it from down in the country, but that was more, a little close. I knew these people over in Long Shop would call us names. We'd go down there to the grocer and all this kind of stuff, throw rocks at us and all that. But this was the first time I didn't know that I couldn't sit down and eat with the white kids. Then, after that, from time to time, we had to eat in the back, go to the back of these restaurants in Blacksburg. We couldn't go in and sit down but we could be served in the back. Some of 'em had tables we could sit down. Most of 'em, they'd give you a bag of food and you could leave. 88:00The Lyric Theater, the Corps of Cadets really got firsts, we was in the balcony, that's where the blacks sit in the back. But if it was a good movie, and they had Cowboy and Indian movies, every Saturday night, that's what they had. This was when we came up to the movies. Because I would come up here maybe on Friday and the people from down in Wake Forest--there was a man that would bring the rest of the kids up here and we'd get together, and that's how I got my ride back to Wake Forest. But we had to wait 'til all the cadets get in, they would be lined up around the block at Draper--that was called Water Street. It's called Draper now. They filled up, all up into the balcony to the whole section, so we couldn't go. There was another movie across the street called the little theatre, we called the Lyric the big theater and the little one across the street. Up over top of where--the restaurants are there, Sharkey's or whatever it is--top of there was another theater there. It was just a small little one. 89:00We'd just go over there for the first one. They had two movies. We'd go over to the first movie there and then come back over and by that time, we could get in. We had a side door. We couldn't go through the lobby. It's a side door there. It's covered up now, but we had to go in through the side door and walk up to the balcony. We never went through the lobby. So the whole time I was there I was never down in the lobby. The little store, sandwich shop or something, right beside, where you'd buy pop and all that other kind of stuff, we would get comic books and we'd go up there. It then got so, as we got older and teenagers and they started doing the same thing to us and we put a stop to that. So when it started filling up, the cadets, they liked to stay up there. They liked to be up there. They liked the area we was in. So we wouldn't let them come up there. We said, we can't go down there, you don't come up here. We wouldn't let them come up there, so they'd run to the guy--the projector was up there, that's where the 90:00projection was--and he'd come out there and try to make us move and behave ourselves and we said, you don't act right, we're gonna throw you down there and nobody gonna see a movie. We stopped that.

Ryan: Oh, man.

Charles: One of the worst things, then the cadets would, if they see a black coming up the street, they'll just gang up and just take the whole street, just push you out into the whole sidewalk, push you out into the street. Yeah, they would do that. That's what we had to tend with with them. But one of the most embarrassing thing to me is when I had gone to Korea and fought in Korea and I came back to Blacksburg, and up there where the Hokie House is, that was called the bus station, and we had to go in the back of that because the restaurant was in the back of that. Even back then, when it was a bus station, the blacks couldn't sit up in the lobby where the rest of them. They had another little room where the black--most of the women down in Wake Forest, that's what they did, I forgot to mention. The women, when the men were in the mines, they would 91:00come to Blacksburg and work in these houses, house cleaning and whatever. Some of them worked at Tech in the laundry. They had a bus right out there and they caught the bus right there, because that used to be called the bus station. And I came in there, I was coming from Roanoke and I stopped in there to get me some hot chocolate because I still had to drive down to Wake Forest. I was still livin' down there. I went in there, sat down and they brought the hot chocolate over to me in a regular cup they'd serve to anybody. I was just getting back from Korea, I thought things had changed. I sat there and started drinking it. Then, after a while, they went back in the kitchen, had a little conference and they came back out and took the hot chocolate, poured it in a paper cup, and said, you have to leave. Told me I had to leave. I'd gone on and fought a war and put my life up for it. But, so happened, it was some cadets sitting there and they was interested about what was going on over in Korea. So they started talking to me. Now they told me, you stay here. They said, anything, we gonna protect you. And it made them people back in, they was mad. They couldn't figure 92:00out why I stayed there and why I wouldn't leave so they gonna call Ms. Riner. She was the one in charge of it, she had the restaurant and the bus station. And she just lived right across the street. You know where they're building that building up in there? There was houses up through there and the staff stayed up through there. She was maybe a professor's wife. Women used to be there, they had a hard time with her, too. But, she didn't come. Then they said, we gonna call the police. I said, call the police. I let them call the police. Most of the time, I didn't say nothin' because they couldn't understand me. But these cadets just told me to stay there, said, don't bother. You stay and finish your meal. They wanted to talk to me anyway, so I stayed there. I never did go back. But that was the hardest time I had in Blacksburg, was that incident happened.


Ryan: Let's see. Katy, do you have any questions?

Katy: No, sorry. It sounded weird because I'm in the microphone. I guess, I mean you kind of answered it. My biggest thing was, how is it coming from a desegregated army? Like in Korea, like you were talking about how you had the two white Johnsons, did you feel the camaraderie in Korea?

Charles: Actually, I didn't get to go to Korea with them guys. See, once you finish basic training, you end up going anywhere. I never did see 'em some more. But there was some black guys in Korea from down in Alabama that couldn't read and write, too. There was some of them 'cause they would get letters and they couldn't read 'em. I'd read the letter and write a letter back to the wife or girlfriend. Once we went into the army, they broke up the segregation thing. 94:00They had started desegregating the army when I was down in Georgia. They came over, called us all out, and said, the federal government said desegregating the army and you guys gonna be--. We were the first company to start, the first group of students--not students, cadets or military going through there. What they did, they told us, we'd better not see, when you got to go over to the PX or go somewhere out of your area, or sitting at the table eating--you know, blacks all seem to congregate. You probably see down there in the dining hall now, they just get over in a corner there and segregate themselves, really, and start talking. They don't mean nothing by it. They said, we better not see more than two blacks together at any time and we better not see more than two non-blacks together at any time. So, and said, we're not gonna have no fights or 95:00nothin' about race and all this kind of stuff. So, when we'd get ready to go over to get a haircut, if it wasn't nobody, like if two of us blacks wanted to go to the PX, that's Post Exchange, and she would know it.

Katy: Yeah.

Charles: We would have to go sometimes over to the next barracks and get us a white guy to walk over there with us.

Katy: Oh, my goodness.

Charles: And they'd have to do the same thing. They was getting ready to go somewhere, they gotta come over to our barracks or somewhere, because everybody would be already paired off and gone. So here we getting ready to go, two of us black men, and we'd look around and we don't have no white guy to go with us. So we had to go and get a guy to walk with us and vice versa. That's the way they broke it up. They found out, while I was in the army, they'd look at your record and found out I was already finished barbering school. See, a lot of them guys was complaining they couldn't get a haircut for inspection, which was true, because if you go to the barber shop, they had thousands of us down there. In 96:00our company probably, each company had about two hundred-fifty people. So, they called me and said, now on, you just don't go to training Saturday. Stay here and cut hair, which I did. Because I found out that I didn't get a chance to go downtown. After the bus stop running at nine o'clock, going down to Augusta, and I'm still cutting hair. By the time I get through cutting hair, I couldn't get dressed, I didn't have no way to get down there. So I never got down to Augusta on Saturday. So I didn't know how to cut whites. Coming from Christiansburg Institute, you cut all black peoples' hair. I didn't know how to cut it. So I was cutting a black guys hair first. I knew I was going to be in real big trouble if I didn't cut the white soldiers' hair. So then, after a while, the whites started lining up for a haircut, too. We sittin' on a footlocker, and I was making nervous 'cause I didn't think I knew how to do it. The closer they got, the more nervous I got. But nobody but me and the Lord knew that I couldn't do it.

Ryan: [Laughter]


Charles: So once they came up there and I started cutting, I found out it was easy. It wasn't no problem. But I couldn't take it off the top. So I got by about two weeks like that. Then they started coming in there wanting it off the top. And so I went over to the post barber shop. There was just one black guy in there. His job was to cut the black soldiers' hair. So I figured he knew how to cut anybody's hair. I walked over and said, I'm working doing the barbering over in the barracks and I don't know how to take the hair off the head of the white soldiers. He said, I don't, either.

Ryan: [Laughter]

Charles: So I thought he knew because he was in there with all of them. He said, I'm just here to cut the black soldiers' hair. See, they hadn't integrated the shop then. So he said, okay, I'll take ya. He took me over to one of the white barbers. He showed me how to do it and it's been history ever since. So when guys come through, I knew how to do it. It's been history. That's how I learned how to cut the whites. I ended up in Korea. I learned how to cut Koreans' hair, 98:00and everybody else, with the hand tools in Korea. But that's the way they taught you at Christiansburg Institute. You didn't start out with electric tools. You had the hand tools, and so I knew how to do it. And old [inaudible 1:37:46] over in Korea, he was real slow, and he couldn't do it, and he was sick half the time. So I would just go over and help him. They'd pay me a quarter for a haircut, and give him the quarters. But he helped me learn the--I can understand more Korean than I can really speak. So they'll come in, these Korean students come in, talking that talk. I let them talk a long time. Then they get in the chair, I introduce myself to them in Korean. They practically jump out of the chair. One lady was here yesterday--about two days ago--and had a little--. I surmised they were Korean. Sometimes I can't determine who is Japanese, who is Korean. We got all of these Chinese coming here now. So he got in the chair. He was crying and I told him I had to spray water on his collar, mul. And so I put it in front of him and said, mul. She look and said, why do you know what mul 99:00is? I said, mul is water in Korea. She was shocked because she was Korean. But she was shocked that I knew what to told the kid. Real quick, after he found out was there--it was just water--he stopped crying. She was shocked because she was wondering, how do you know what he's talking about? I had another time over here, they were sittin' over there talkin' about us over there cuttin'. Then, the kid got in the chair and I introduced [1:39:03-1:39:07 in Korean]. That's, my name is Johnson. What's yours? Do you understand? He jumped out of his chair. He said, how do you know all that? So I let 'em talk that talk. In Korea, a lot of the first words that come out of your mouth is the subject. So I learned a lot. Well, in Korea, we lived in tents. And there was a little orphan kid was there, he stayed in the tent with us. So he was our shoe shine boy, just runnin' 100:00errands for us, and he wanted to learn English and I wanted to learn Korean because I was out there on patrol dealing with them Koreans every day and couldn't speak the language. So he went somewhere and got a dictionary or something and we could pick out words every day. So I learned to speak pretty good. All I need to do is just learn some words, then I hear the word, I know what they're talking about. Dambae was the first word. So some of the guys said, let's go outside and smoke a cigarette. After they said, dambae. I heard the word dambae. I said, as soon as you finish your cigarette, come on back in. He looked. They didn't say nothin'. They walked out, they talked, then they came back, how did you know what we were gonna do?

Kelly: Psychic.

Charles: I catch 'em off guard all the time. But they talk, I know what they talkin' about. But being out of Korea about fifty years, you lose a lot of it. But a lot of it, since they started coming, a lot of it is coming back. I can speak with 'em. I can haggle with 'em.

Kelly: That's awesome.

Ryan: Yeah, that's good. Well, I wanna thank ya. Thank you for taking the time with us.

Charles: My pleasure, my pleasure.