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1:01 - Growing up in the New River Valley

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Partial Transcript: Rebecca: And if you could just tell me a little bit about what it was like growing up here?

Jacqueline: It was home, it was fine. I had brothers and sisters, we did whatever we could do for fun together.

Keywords: Growing up; New River Valley

Subjects: Blacksburg; Christiansburg Institute

2:26 - Blacksburg Negro Elementary School and Christiansburg Institute

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Partial Transcript: Jacqueline: Blacksburg Negro Elementary School. It was on Clay Street here in Blacksburg. Long gone.

Rebecca: And how did you get there?

Keywords: Blacksburg; Blacksburg Negro Elementary School; Clay Street

Subjects: Blacksburg; Christiansburg Institute

7:53 - Extracurricular Activities at CI

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Partial Transcript: Rebecca: Did you all participate in any extracurricular activities? Was there any, like, after school--

Jacqueline: Not after school.

Keywords: Band; Drama; Extracurricular Activities

Subjects: Christiansburg Institute

14:42 - Living in Washington, D.C.

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Partial Transcript: Rebecca: After, you mentioned earlier you spent some time in D.C.?

Jacqueline: Yeah, that was when I got married. After I got married. And that was for a few years.

17:08 - Integration of Virginia Public Schools

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Partial Transcript: Rebecca: So we were talking about how you felt when CI closed and integration--

Jacqueline: Oh 'cause it was during the integration period.

Keywords: Integration

Subjects: Christiansburg Institute

23:43 - Community Reaction to Christiansburg Institute closing

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Partial Transcript: Rebecca: Do you remember how the community, or other people you were close with, responded when Christiansburg Institute closed?

Jacqueline: No. I wasn't really here in [19]66 when all of that happened.

Keywords: 1966; Christiansburg Institute; Closing

Subjects: Christiansburg Institute; Closing


´╗┐Rebecca Middour: Today is November 2, 2012 and I'm Rebecca Middour. If you can introduce yourself, Miss Eaves.

Jacqueline Eaves: I am Jacqueline Eaves.

Rebecca: Okay. And we are here to talk about Christiansburg Institute. If I could have your age, also?

Jacqueline: I'm sixty-five.

Rebecca: And can you tell me where you were born and how long you've been in this area?

Jacqueline: I was born in Radford, Virginia, Montgomery County. No, at Radford Community Hospital then. In, I guess, 1947 and I've been in this community all of my life except for the times, for a couple of years I lived in D.C. and away at college. But basically, this has been my home.


Rebecca: And if you could just tell me a little bit about what it was like growing up here?

Jacqueline: It was home, it was fine. I had brothers and sisters, we did whatever we could do for fun together. We're a close family. My parents still live here. I'm still blessed to have both of my parents still living. I don't know, we did everything. We went to movies together, drive-ins, had picnics, played ball, did things that families do together. Of course we went to Church on Sundays. I don't know, just things family did together.

Rebecca: Right. And what did your parents do?

Jacqueline: My mother was a secretary for Corning. My dad is a manager for one 2:00of the dining halls on campus.

Rebecca: Okay. And how many siblings do you have?

Jacqueline: I have a total of six of us.

Rebecca: Oh, okay. And are they all still in the area?

Jacqueline: Oh Lord, no. I'm the only one in the area. One's in DC, one's in New Jersey, one's in Milwaukee, one's in Nashville, the other one's in Ohio. Is that it? Yeah.

Rebecca: Yeah, that's spread out.

Jacqueline: Yeah, everybody's--yeah, everybody's all gone.

Rebecca: And where did you attend elementary school?

Jacqueline: Blacksburg Negro Elementary School. It was on Clay Street here in Blacksburg. Long gone.

Rebecca: And how did you get there?

Jacqueline: By bus. By bus.

Rebecca: Did you like it? Do you have memories of elementary school?

Jacqueline: Yeah, it was a two room school. School was school. That's where we went. I had a good time. Two rooms, all the classes--first, second, third, 3:00fourth--four in one room and fifth, sixth, seventh were in another room. And that was it.

Rebecca: And how many teachers?

Jacqueline: Two. A lot different, isn't it?

Rebecca: Right.

Jacqueline: And Blacksburg High was sitting on that school ground. Quite a difference.

Rebecca: Very different. I guess can you tell me a little bit about Christiansburg Institute? Maybe starting if you remember your first day there, anything that just jumps to mind?

Jacqueline: No, I can't remember really my first day. I guess I was probably scared. I didn't know what I was getting into. 'Cause I was a little kid--I 4:00think I was twelve when I started high school. And so, I ended up being like the little kid. Everybody liked to take care of me. I was little then. [Laughter] Everybody liked taking care of me and I didn't mind. You know, since I didn't know what I was doing. And, it was different, it was big. I wasn't used to anything quite that big since coming from a two room school and going to a place where you change classes and only one class per room. That was different, and I had to ride the bus from Blacksburg to Christiansburg and I had to walk home from Marlington, down on Main and Marlington, home. But it did pick me out 5:00closer to home so I didn't have to walk early mornings, but I had to walk across the field--that's what it was then, just a road--just a plain road, not paved. Had to walk home until I got sick and my daddy went to tell 'em that I couldn't do that anymore so the bus started coming up, picking us up, bringing us home.

Rebecca: That's nice.

Jacqueline: I had asthma.

Rebecca: Okay.

Jacqueline: And so the dust made me sick. [laughter]

Rebecca: Right. And your siblings were all going to school with you then also? Or they were--

Jacqueline: No. No, everybody else was in elementary school.

Rebecca: Oh, because you were the oldest. Okay. So do you remember any of your 6:00friends there or what they were like?

Jacqueline: Oh yeah. I ended up with several good friends. And we ended up, they were like brothers--two guys in particular and we're still good friends today. And when I went to college, one of the girls--we were friends, but we weren't good friends--we ended up being roommates, and real good friends as well today. So, it was--what was the question? I can't remember.

Rebecca: Just what your friends were like.

Jacqueline: They were good friends. I mean, we had fun. We used to have parties and everybody came to my house for the parties. And my parents were young enough 7:00to know that what we were doing and old enough to know what we shouldn't be doing. And so the parents didn't mind them coming and being a part. So we used to have a good time. My house was always full on Sunday afternoons with people from everywhere. 'Cause not only did you have friends--especially when you went to Christiansburg Institute, kids come from all the various counties so you end up with friends from everywhere. And so they ended up coming to your house as well. So, it was fun.

Rebecca: Yeah, that's great that you got to meet people from farther away.

Jacqueline: And we're still friends that way.

Rebecca: Did you all participate in any extracurricular activities? Was there 8:00any, like, after school--

Jacqueline: Not after school.

Rebecca: It was during school?

Jacqueline: Other than the guys had football and basketball.

Rebecca: Okay.

Jacqueline: Now, I'm assuming they practiced after school. I don't know.

Rebecca: Right.

Jacqueline: 'Cause I wasn't involved in that. And we had band. I was a majorette. There were cheerleaders. I don't remember any other activities such as--we had drama, things of that nature. But I don't remember anything else that I was involved in.

Rebecca: Okay. I know you already commented on this question [laughter] but do you remember any of the teachers at CI and what they were like?

Jacqueline: Oh yeah. Most of them were--everybody knew everybody so your parents 9:00knew your teachers. You didn't have behavior issues at school because you didn't want your teachers to tell your parents. But there was one particular teacher, in particular, there was Ms. Charlton that everybody liked and she taught English and French. And there was another teacher by the name of Mr. Holmes, Zimri Holmes, and he was a history teacher and everybody liked him. And there were several others that were really nice but those in particular, they were like the mainstays that everybody seemed to like a lot.

Rebecca: Can you tell me more about that? Was there--did they like them--why did they like them, I guess?


Jacqueline: I don't know. I guess because they were, they were teachers first, they weren't your friends. But they were teachers, but they were people that you could talk to as well. Mrs. Charlton, she was just one of those very nice person. I have no other reason for anybody to like them or not because they were always teachers.

Rebecca: Right.


Jacqueline: They weren't your friends. You couldn't go out and see them in the street, or partying, or anything else. They were teachers and that's what we knew them for. 'Cause you couldn't--you didn't hear gossip about them out in the street. That was just how they were.

Rebecca: Right, so they were pretty important then to the community?

Jacqueline: Oh, yeah.

Rebecca: So then you mentioned you went to college after graduating from CI

Jacqueline: Um-hm.

Rebecca: Where did you go?

Jacqueline: I went to Morristown College in Morristown, Tennessee. In fact, I have a mug sitting on the table. I didn't realize it. [Laughter] And, Virginia State in Petersburg.

Rebecca: Okay. So you went to Virginia State after.

Jacqueline: Yes.

Rebecca: And what did you study there?

Jacqueline: Home economics education.

Rebecca: Okay. And what was your college experience like?

Jacqueline: It was okay. I didn't do anything extraordinary--it was alright. I liked Morristown. It was a two-year college and I have a lot of friends from Morristown and, they were--that ended up being a great time. I really did. I guess because it was more small versus Virginia State which was quite different. 12:00It was big, big. So I had more fun and I was used to a smaller setting, maybe, and that's why I liked Morristown the most.

Rebecca: Right. And was that your first time away from Blacksburg?

Jacqueline: For extended periods of time, yes.

Rebecca: Right, yes.

Jacqueline: It wasn't like I hadn't visited other places. But, to stay away from home, yes.

Rebecca: And what was that like?

Jacqueline: Oh, at first it was, you know, homesick. But after that, no big deal. A you got past homesick, you got to develop friendships. You already had friends, then you learned how to--that's when you grew up. You grow up. You 13:00learn about all the things your parents tell you about that you really didn't really understand about life situations: about how to trust people, and what to say, how to watch what you do, and how the things that you're supposed to do and how to always be kind. And, you learn how to be the kind of person that you want everybody to respect, at the same time understanding life situations. I don't 14:00know if you're understanding what I'm saying.

Rebecca: No. I think so.

Jacqueline: You don't?

Rebecca: I hope. I mean I do hope I am. Yeah, it's a lot of growing up.

Jacqueline: Yeah, it is. It is a lot of growing. And that's when I think I grew up. I thought I was grown. When you're eighteen you're grown, but not until you leave home because you're on your own.

Rebecca: Right.

Rebecca: And all of a sudden, huh, you find out how grown you are 'cause you have to learn how to trust yourself.

Rebecca: Yeah. That's true. And so then after, you mentioned earlier you spent some time in D.C.?

Jacqueline: Yeah, that was when I got married. After I got married. And that was for a few years. That's why I have my child. And it was fun, I enjoyed it. I had a great neighbor and she loved Karen. And my husband's sister and her husband lived there and that was fun, as well. It was nice, D.C. was nice.


Rebecca: Did you move there to be closer to that side of your family?

Jacqueline: No, no. We moved there for his work, for his work only. I didn't work while I was in D.C.

Rebecca: And where was he working?

Jacqueline: He worked for a building construction company.

Rebecca: Okay. And so then, did you move back here for work also?

Jacqueline: No, I just--I moved back.

Rebecca: Okay.

Jacqueline: I moved back.

Rebecca: And do you remember how you felt when you heard that CI was closing?

Jacqueline: I'm trying to remember where I was. I was surprised but not totally 16:00shocked. Because it was a time of integration and a time of--that schools were not looked at the same way. And, while we had a number of things that other schools did not have, such as the carpentry and--


[break in recording]

Rebecca: So we were talking about how you felt when CI closed and integration--

Jacqueline: Oh 'cause it was during the integration period. And we had a number of labor skill occupations that were available to people such as cosmetology, barbering. I don't know if they had carpentry in other schools as well. And those were the things that were available that weren't necessarily available to other schools. And, but at the same time, they didn't tell us that we were not meeting the expectations other schools were meeting. And I think that it may 18:00have been that we were causing more busing situations because we had to bring people from Floyd County, people from all over to one central location while you could use buses from one location to bring students to a central location, instead of--that's a lot of gas to bring unnecessary--so I don't know. I don't know what all went into the decisions closing Christiansburg Institute. I feel 19:00like--that it was just time for them to integrate because that's what it was. It was time for integration.

Rebecca: Right.

Jacqueline: And I wasn't happy about it at all. I don't know what grade I was in, I guess the eighth grade. I was one of the first students--my parents and I--to want to integrate Blacksburg High School. And it was me and the Prices, 20:00Anna and Phillip. It was newspaper-worthy, it was in newspapers everywhere. And while they were able to go, they said my grades were not suited to go into the school. So I did not go while they did. Anna and Phillip Price did go to Blacksburg High School. And I don't know what years that was now. But anyway, I went on to finish Christiansburg Institute in [19]64. Okay.

Rebecca: So what was that like--not being able to go to Blacksburg High School?

Jacqueline: I don't know. I was concerned, needless to say, about going because 21:00nobody really wanted to go. But I didn't mind going then, during that time period. But that was all, I was scared like anybody else would have been in a new situation--new, you know, to go.

Rebecca: Was this something you and your parents decided together?

Jacqueline: Oh, yeah. They asked me. I didn't have to do it.

Rebecca: Okay.

Jacqueline: I didn't have to do it, by no means, 'cause they never forced me into anything. So, it was up to me. And I said, well, sure, why not? It was time. And, so I said yeah. I didn't have any idea I would not be accepted. At 22:00that time, I don't even remember what my grades were. [laughter]

Rebecca: And so during this whole time, how do you think that affected the community you were a part of?

Jacqueline: It didn't affect the community itself as far as I could say. We were all at that point--the community--it had a lot to do with integrating the areas. Restaurants and other areas that blacks were not privileged for at that point. And Blacksburg did not seem to have an issue. Blacksburg seemed to be an okay 23:00community. I'm sure there was things that I may not be aware of but as far as I know, it was okay. They didn't seem to have any restaurant issues. And nothing else from what I could see that blacks wanted to be involved in, in Blacksburg. I can't tell you about any other place.

Rebecca: Do you remember how the community, or other people you were close with, responded when Christiansburg Institute closed?

Jacqueline: No. I wasn't really here in [19]66 when all of that happened. But I 24:00do know from--I do know teachers were not extremely happy about it. That's all I know. Because I really wasn't here or privileged to see how things were happening at the time, but I do know a lot of the old grads were just surprised. That was it.

Rebecca: And how would you define the local black community now?

Jacqueline: It's different. It's a different community because it's not like 25:00we're all together like we were in the past. Before, everybody was who you were--you were all together. Now there's no need for you to be that way because everybody has friends of all ethnic backgrounds. While you're still close--like the old crowd, they're still close but they still have friends from other ethnic groups as well, but they're still friends. But my child has friends in all ethnic backgrounds and offerings. So, there's a difference in the closeness in 26:00the groups because times change, which is a good thing.

Rebecca: Right.

Jacqueline: And I think that's a good thing. Now you can develop friendships no matter, regardless of race.

Rebecca: Yeah, it is a good thing. Do you think there is something in particular that people should know about CI?

Jacqueline: Good question. There are a lot of things people should know. And, what in particular, I could not say. But it was a school that could meet you where you are. And you could grow. And it was a school for--really could be a 27:00school for all people. And it was a school that could teach you about being somebody. It wasn't just a school for intellectual learning. You could also learn things about life and life situations. And it also could teach you a craft. And it could teach you about, often, what I was talking earlier about 28:00what my parents said but also talk to you about life situations. So, during the time that I was there, you could also learn about life situations. Because you were in a situation that was different than most situations. If that makes sense. During that time, you knew where you were and why you were there. It was 29:00life and so you learned about how to handle those life situations.

Rebecca: Um-hm.

Jacqueline: And that was one of the things that you learned without being told.

Rebecca: Right. I guess a final question I have here is there anything you expected me to ask that I didn't ask today? [laughter] If you could read my mind?

Jacqueline: No. Really, I didn't know what you were going to ask. No, not really. No.


Rebecca: Okay. Or anything else you wanted to add to this?

Jacqueline: I don't know what to add. I was thinking about it the whole time. I guess, you already know the history with the principals and all that. And while we are in the process of why we want to renovate the school, and how we're going to do it, and when we're going to do it. Those are important things for us and we're working on that. And it's taken us, I consider, too long. And, so many 31:00folks are going. 1966 was the last graduating class so you know how old we are. So I'm sixty--you know I'm sixty-five getting ready to be sixty-six in a couple more months. So the last graduating class got to be in the sixty-three, sixty--that age group. And we still have alumni who are eighty-nine, ninety, some a hundred years old. And I'd like to see something done to that school before some of them pass. You know. I have a book of obituaries I'm trying to collect. But they're just passing. This month, three, four already died, you 32:00see. So those are the kind of things that I would like to have done before. And my parents were part of the original group that started the renovation process and they're in their late eighties. And so, hopefully something can be done but it costs so much to do it and realistically speaking there aren't many of us who 33:00have that kind of money. And so, it's helpful for those who can--they have helped in some ways but it's not enough. You know because what we've done so far is develop--have an office, and maintain some of the records, keep the lights on, pay the insurance, maintain the museum, and a number of small things that we have to maintain just to keep the organization going. With that alone that's up in the thousands of dollars each year, and we have alumni who are generous 34:00enough to help us maintain that, but hopefully with the work of our current chair, Bob Leonard--Robert Leonard--who's a professor on campus. Well, Christiansburg Institute--he's done great work, really, and with his help, hopefully, we will move much--we're moving closer. And hopefully with the association, the Alumni Association, we're pushing hard to get more alumni definitely involved. And I think that's going to transpire this year as well. So 35:00it's moving. So maybe by the end of the--let's say by July, that's when our next grand reunion is going to be held--maybe, maybe there will be some work that some people can see. That we've made some progress in restoring the old Long building, hopefully, hopefully.

Rebecca: Okay, great, thank you.