Dennis Farrington

Interviewed by Rob Stephens on March 24, 2010
Dennis Farrington spent the first part of his life in the Northside area of Chapel Hill before moving to a home off of NC Hwy 54, and he has deep roots in Chatham County, North Carolina. He attended Chapel Hill High School after it was newly integrated. He spent most of his working career at UNC Printing Services. This interview was done as part of the Facing Our Neighbors initiative of the Marian Cheek Jackson Center for Saving and Making History. Topics include: maternal and paternal grandparents; life on Gomains St. in the 1950s; segregation in the South; family genealogy; roots in Chatham County; working life of African Americans in Chapel Hill/Carrboro; UNC and its campus; education and his favorite teachers—Northside School, Frank Porter Graham, Phillips, Lincoln High, and Chapel Hill High; racism in Carrboro; romantic relationships; interracial dating; black students “occupying” Chapel Hill High School; Jeff Thomas and current situation in Chapel Hill schools; First Baptist and St. Joseph CME; his father and his experience in World War II; his mother and her work; current state of politics.

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Dennis Farrington


Dennis Farrington spent the first part of his life in the Northside area of Chapel Hill before moving to a home off of NC Hwy 54, and he has deep roots in Chatham County, North Carolina. He attended Chapel Hill High School after it was newly integrated. He spent most of his working career at UNC Printing Services. This interview was done as part of the Facing Our Neighbors initiative of the Marian Cheek Jackson Center for Saving and Making History. Topics include: maternal and paternal grandparents; life on Gomains St. in the 1950s; segregation in the South; family genealogy; roots in Chatham County; working life of African Americans in Chapel Hill/Carrboro; UNC and its campus; education and his favorite teachers—Northside School, Frank Porter Graham, Phillips, Lincoln High, and Chapel Hill High; racism in Carrboro; romantic relationships; interracial dating; black students “occupying” Chapel Hill High School; Jeff Thomas and current situation in Chapel Hill schools; First Baptist and St. Joseph CME; his father and his experience in World War II; his mother and her work; current state of politics.


Farrington, Dennis


Oral History


Marian Cheek Jackson Center


Marian Cheek Jackson Center




Open for research


MP3 (160000 bitrate)





Oral History Item Type Metadata


Rob Stephens


Farrington, Dennis

Interview Date



Marian Cheek Jackson Center









Interviewee: DF Dennis Farrington

Interviewer: RS Rob Stephens

Interview Date: March 24, 2010

Transcriptionist: Julie Wheeler

Organization: Marian Cheek Jackson Center

Length: 76:33













            Rob Stephens:      We are at the Jackson Center, St. Joseph’s CME church, Chapel Hill, NC.  This is Rob Stephens interviewing Dennis Farrington.  Today is Wednesday, March 24, 2010.  So we’ll have to do the forms later.  So this is an etterall(0.30), you’ve seen this before and it’s nothing to be scared of [Laughter].  So at any point you see this, whenever this red light on, is on, it’s recording.  So if there’s ever anything you don’t want to record, you want to say but you don’t want it on the thing, just reach over press it.  Or tell me and I’ll press it; we don’t have to do it.  And I’ll have to do the forms later because I don’t know where they are.  But at the end of this, this is your interview just as much it’s shared so you’ll get a copy of it, if we ever do a transcript, you’ll get a transcript of it.  If there’s anything you want cut out, you don’t like.  Or if you don’t like how it’s transcribed, and you can edit it all you want.  That’s one thing we try to do that other places don’t do; it screws them up.  And you’ll also—yea so you’ll have control over.  So like just the other day, you know Walter Derm(1.32), he came up here and I had to show him his interview online, that he didn’t even know about.  It was done about ten years ago.  That type of thing we don’t want happening here, we want people to know how it’s being used, where it’s being used, and all of that.  So, in general I start out, I’m going to just be testing out the volume here cause it’s testing my voice and not yours.  If you don’t mind if we could start out talking about your grandparents.  You could tell me a little bit about them and you can start on either side; with your father’s side or your mother’s side.

            Dennis Farrington:      Well on my mother’s side, my grandmother was named Ria D. Jones(2.16) and my grandfather, I never knew him.  His name was Eric Jones.

   RS:               Eric?

   DF:               And on my father’s side, my grandmother name was Rosie Marlo(2.33); that was my sweetie pie.  And my granddaddy name was Jack Burnett(2.39), I never knew him.

   RS:               But there’s some Burnett’s here.

   DF:               I’m probably kin to them.  I know I am.  I never knew my grandfather.

   RS:               That was on your mother or your father’s side?

   DF:               My father’s side.

   RS:               Ok.  Your dad’s dad?

   DF:               Mhmm.

   RS:               So what did you know about him--about them--either side. 

   DS:               Well my grandmother, on my, on my mother’s side, she used to work for the Slawd(3.12) family, stay down in Glen Reynolds(3.15)

   RS:               Name?

   DF:               Hm?

   RS:               What’s the name?

   DF:               The Lord.  I, I can’t think of his first name.

   RS:               The Lord?

   DF:               They were, the last name was Lords.

   RS:               Ok, the Lords.

   DF:               She worked for them for, a number of years.  Cooking, and watching the kids.  My grandmother on my father’s side, she used to do the hair.  That’s the only thing I knew her to do; was fix hair.

   RS:               In her house, or did she have a shop?

   DF:               At home.

   RS:               At home?

   DF:               Mhmm. 

   RS:               Where did they live?

   DF:               Well both my grandmothers lived pretty much in that gomains(4.06)

   RS:               Gomains(4.07)?  Here in north side area?

   DF:               Yea they stayed over in that area.  They only moved to different areas like Merritt Mill road.  That’s where we lived, we moved out on Merritt Mill road.  Then from Merritt Mill road we moved out on 54.  That was the last move.

   RS:               Yeah.  So maybe you could tell me a little bit more about your grandmother Rosie.  What she was like, or what, how, you know any members--.

   DF:               Sweet lady.  I was pretty much a favorite.  Take me on my first trip to DC, she took me.  On the bus she must come say(5.05), my grandmother, my seven(5.08), and my cousin Anthony.  He deceased now.  And my uncle was a preacher up there, when we went up there. She was a very sweet lady.

   RS:               And what, what denomination was your uncle?

   DF:               Well he grew up in this church.  And then he got out of here, he got in the amezine(5.36).  And he’s a, and that’s what he is now, he’s a elder.

   RS:               Ok yeah I remember you telling me that.  Down in Charlotte.

   DF:               Mhmm, in the Charlotte area.

   RS:               Maybe I’m mixing up stories, but was that the – was that the DC trip when, when there was kind of realizing when your grandmother told you about the buses and which ones you could go on the taxis, was it?

   DF:               You know they never discussed that.  I remember years ago when Beth’s(6.08) used to be right downtown.  Right down, you know where the, used to be the wing place.  Right across from town map(6.21).

   RS:               Wait, the wing place?

   DF:               Yes they sell wings there.  (6.31)

   RS:               Yeah yeah yeah, I know.  It was like a chain, I think.  I’ll think of it later.  But yeah, right there next to Aveda?  Where Aveda is now?

   DF:               Yea they had the signs on that end.  White and colored; my parents never told me nothing about that so I drank out of either one.  Same water.

   RS:               Oh you did?

   DF:               Mhmm.  No, they didn’t discuss that.

   RS:               So I’m thinking about someone else, that you tried to call a taxi in DC, that’s somebody else’s story?

   DF:               No that wasn’t me.

   RS:               Okay, it was in DC and with a grandparent.  So grandmother Rosie was the hair person or the--.

   DF:               Mhmm.

   RS:               Yeah.  So a lot of people come to her back on Gomains(7.25), to get their hair done?  Was she reasonable?

   DF:               She’s probably done a lot of it for little to nothing.  You know that’s how the women back then, they conversate.  They get their hair done and talk and laugh and joke.  She was very special to me.

   RS:               Any why were you her favorite?

   DF:               I was one of the oldest.  One of the oldest grandkids.  But I guess I was a good kid, too.  I was the one she would send to the store, and other things she had to do, stuff like that. 

   RS:               And back then, was Gomains(8.14) back there unpaved?

   DF:               No, it was paved. 

   RS:               It was paved, even then?

   DF:               Mhmm.

   RS:               Okay. And how were the housing conditions?

   DF:               Well the one we stayed in, the bathroom was outside.  And the water, the spicket was outside, right outside the kitchen door.

   RS:               Did you heat your own water? Or was there heat--.

   DF:               Yep, you had to heat it on the stove.

   RS:               And did you all have a septic?

   DF:               No, they had toilets outside -- out houses.

   RS:               Did you have any midnight problems with it?

   DF:               No, we had a pot in the house at that time.

   RS:               Oh okay.  So you lived with your grandmother Rosie, is that right?

   DF:               No, I lived with my parents but I spent a lot of time with my grandmother.

   RS:               So what was the street, or the neighborhood like back then? Was it dangerous place?

   DF:               No, it wasn’t dangerous.  Very seldom you’ll hear about somebody getting killed, there weren’t killings like there is today.  None of that.  There be some fights, the old folk drink that stuff and the fighting caught up.

   RS:               Did you know everybody on the street?

   DF:               Yeah, I pretty much knew everybody in the area.  We went to the north side.

   RS:               And that’s pretty close?

   DF:               Mhmm. I went to north side school.

   RS:               And do you know where your grandmother came from?  Was she born in Orange County or--?

   DF:               Chatham County.

   RS:               Chatham County?

   DF:               Mhmm.

   RS:               And do you know anything about her parents or ancestors?  She didn’t tell you anything about Chatham County?

   DF:               No. I know on my father’s side, I found that my grandfather and my wife’s grandmother are first cousins.  My wife’s grandmother was a Burnett.  You know Nita(10.58) don’t you?  That’s Roxy’s aunt.  That’s her momma’s sister.

   RS:               Now there’s two women that look a lot alike.

   DF:               Talking about aunt (11.05) and Roxy’s momma Pam(11.10)? 

   RS:               And they’re sisters?

   DF:               Mhmm.  And Nita’s their sister.

   RS:               I don’t know sometimes I don’t--. But they’re both very sweet and nice.  There’s a library on campus that wants to come do genealogy workshops, they’re really a lot of fun.  Its kind of interesting because you can go back in the Census’ and everything and go find all of these people and what they have like the handwritten.  They say who they are, what family they had, what employment they had, if they owned property, what race they were, and all of that.  It’s pretty interesting stuff.  But they’re going to come do a workshop with people so they can trace it back.

   DF:               They’re going to do one here?

   RS:               Mhmm.  We’re going to have them come over.  You wanna be a part of that?

   DF:               Yea let me know.

   RS:               Alright. Yea I think that’d be interesting.

   DF:               Yea I was watching it, last week I think it was, oh what’s his name, running back retired from the Cowboys.

   RS:               Emmitt?

   DF:               Yea it was.

   RS:               Was it with Henry Lewis Gates?

   DF:               Mhmm and it went all the way back to Africa.  He went to Africa to see--.

   RS:               Yea I’ve heard about that.  And they’re doing this thing where they can tell how much, or see how much people are related.  You see all of these white people are related to--.

   DF:               Oh they are. That’s why you got you different color. 

   RS:               So your grandmother Rosie, then the other one was, sorry--.

   DF:               Ria, Ria D. Jones.

   RS:               Ria, and where was she from?

   DF:               Chatham County.

   RS:               Chatham County, too?

   DF:               Mhmm.

   RS:               And do you know anything about her parents, or what--.

   DF:               My great grandfather, his name was George, I think it was.

   RS:               Jones?
   DF:               No, Degraffenry.

   RS:               Oh really? Wow so are you related to them too?

   DF:               Probably so.

   RS:               The Degraffenry’s are another family in the church.  It’s like a family name in Orange County, and I’m assuming Chatham County, too.

   DF:               Mhmm.  Then my great grandmother was Mary and she was a, her maiden name was Austin.

   RS:               Austin? [chuckle] Austin is another--.

   DF:               So this lady that did the (13.57) that time, when we had the banquet and stuff?

   RS:               I didn’t make it to that.

   DF:               She told me next time I come down there, she’s going to introduce me to some man.  He know everybody down there.

   RS:               A guy?  I’d love to meet him, too.

   DF:               Well next time I see her, I’ll see what I can figure out.

   RS:               So George Degraffenry, do you know anything about him?

   DF:               Well my great grandpa, no but I know as he got older, he stayed with my grandmother.

   RS:               Ok, so you knew him?

   DF:               Mhmm and he stayed down, like I said, the gomain, stayed down, straight down the bottom of the hill.

   RS:               On Sykes?  Where that new development is now, have you seen that?

   DF:               No, I don’t hardly go over that area.

   RS:               We need to go over to that area, we can do it today.

   DF:               I don’t have time today.

   RS:               Yeah maybe another time.  But you know, all the way down Sykes, it’s actually outside the town limits I think.  But all the way down Sykes, there’s this strange development back there, all the way.

   DF:               Yeah, that’s where they stayed.  That road will take you back over to Estes.

   RS:               It doesn’t connect anymore, it’s brush.  Walking you can do, but--.  We’ll have to go back there sometime, that’d be good.

   DF:               I’ll never forget, he, when he passed, they were bringing him out, I could see him coming up the street.

   RS:               For the funeral?

   DF:               No, when he died down at my grandmother’s.  He died at the house.  You see we used to stay right up the street.

   RS:               Yeah.  And did you know anything about him or did you hear any stories from him?

   DF:               I used to go down there when I was little.  He stayed in Pittsboro.  We used to go down there as kids.  I think one of the last times I went down there, I was sitting there, I’ll never forget, this black snake hanging off the raft and I ain’t go back no more.

   RS:               A what?

   DF:               A black snake.

   RS:               Oh.  For a second I thought you said a black slave, I thought woah that’s not right.  A black snake up in the, at his church?

   DF:               No at his house.

   RS:               Was it on purpose?

   DF:               I guess it was up there, you know how it was back then, had all kinds of cracks and things in them.

   RS:               And do you know if he was a former slave?

   DF:               I never hear nobody--.

   RS:               Was he, how old was he?

   DF:               Grandpa was old when I was a little boy.  I’ll have to find out.

   RS:               Well you can do a little math because when were you a little boy?

   DF:               Back in the early 50s.

   RS:               Ok, if he was real old then maybe.  But maybe not

   DF:               I might have been, 5 or 6, not that old.

   RS:               And he was probably?

   DF:               He was old.

   RS:               Like ninety?

   DF:               I would say.

   RS:               Well he might have been, maybe just as a kid.  I know when we interviewed Mrs. Jackson, pretty interesting thing because we always think we’re so far removed from slavery, that’s so far away but she grew up with, her grandfather was a former slave; the first ten years of her life, in that same house.  He built that house.  He built that house she was born in.  I think he came from Warren County, his work on the--.

   DF:               He left Warren County, that’s a poor county.  I was up there, in Warren County the other week.

   RS:               Oh yeah?  Interesting history there.  So you got two grandmothers seem to be a big part, and the grandfathers not so much?

   DF:               No, my grandfather, he died when I was just a little baby.  And they’d tell me the story now that he always said “Go buy that boy some pants,” he died in December, December 2.  A few years ago, and they gave me some money to buy me some pants, he died.  That’s when he died, December 2.  He worked with the saw mills, and stuff like that.  They told him to stop drinking, he never stopped and it killed him. 

   RS:               you remember the day, but you were a little kid.

   DF:               No, I was a little baby.  Yeah, I was a baby.

   RS:               And how about the other grandfather?  He was a Burnett?

   DF:               Mhmm, I never knew him.

   RS:               Was that Rosie’s or Ria’s?    

   DF:               Grandma Rosie.  That’s the one, when my father was by, they were never married.

   RS:               Did either of them ever marry someone else, or--.

   DF:               My grandmother never got married, I never knew about my grandfather.  I doubt it.  I never knew about my grandfather.  Yeah my grandmother, yeah she did.  She married Fred Morrow(19.48).

   RS:               That sounds like it was in the family.  It’s interesting, there seems to be a lot of connections between Orange County and Chatham County.  A lot of people came up from there.  You mentioned that he worked for the saw mill, was that one of the major employers in the area?

   DF:               Yeah, he’d tell me stories about how he used to, had a horse, he could talk to the horse.

   RS:               The horse whisperer.

   DF:               They would do what he tell them.  I always try to find somebody that got a picture – nobody got a picture because they stayed on Airport Road years ago, and the house burned down.  So they lost all of the pictures you know.

   RS:               That’s why we’re trying to do this here.  Get it digitized, so it can’t burn down.  We need to really get on that, because that’s some precious stuff that you can lose.  And what were some of the other forms of employment for African American males?

   DF:               When I was growing up?  Most of them worked in mills, saw mills that I’ve seen. 

   RS:               And what about--.

   DF:               Some of them, I remember that drove cabs. And some I knew that run a shoe shop, all of that.  (21.29) Black folks had all of that stuff.

   RS:               Can you tell me what area you’re talking about, just because they want to know where you’re talking about.

   DF:               Franklin Street, right down there beside, where the Blue Cross building was.

   RS:               Oh where it was, not the new one.

   DF:               You know Blue Cross, (21.48).  Yeah, right across from McDonald’s.

   RS:               Ok, yeah.  I think it’s owned by the university now?

   DF:               Yeah, Blue Cross, that’s where they used to be.

   RS:               And all of that was black owned?

   DF:               Yea all of that down to there. 

   RS:               Yea, I heard before shoe cobblers was a big thing.

   DF:               Mhmm and fish markets, they had all kinds of things.

   RS:               Taxi stands--.

   DF:               Mhmm, and restaurants.

   RS:               And there was masonry, was that one of them?

   DF:               Well a lot of them did mason work, or rock work.

   RS:               Now I’ve only heard this, so maybe it’s wrong.  You know how at north side there’s some of those (22.31), like that type of masonry?  It’s on some of the houses.  Is that from black masons in Chapel Hill?  Is that unique?

   DF:               Yea, my wife’s uncle, Uncle Louis, he was form Durham County.  A lot of the rock works you see on campus, they done a lot of that.

   RS:               It looks like a pretty unique design for some of these houses with that rock on there.

   DF:               He puts some rock onto the place that I left my wife.

   RS:               Where was that?

   DF:               Down in Chatham County.

   RS:               So, also people worked on the university?

   DF:               Yea a lot of them worked for the university.

   RS:               Where was the saw mill?

   DF:               I know Mr. Henry had one (23.19)

   RS:               Like where that KFC is, or used to be.

   DF:               Yeah he had one right there, too.  He had one, you know where the people go to where they had the things every year?

   RS:               The grandrism (23.35), in the park?

   DF:               Yea he had one over there.

   RS:               Ok so a lot of people worked with him?

   DF:                           Mhmm.  Then my best buddy, he’s in Atlanta(23.45) now, but his grandfather, Mr. (23.48), he ran a saw mill.  But mostly, that’s what most of them did was that saw mill work.  And stone work.  Drove cabs, something like that.

   RS:               Reverend Williams said he did some stuff with him at one point when he was a little kid.  And so what was the feeling towards the university when you were growing up?  Was there as lot of connections?  Was it a good relationship with--.

   DF:               I never ran into any problems.  I’m quite sure they had some but probably a lot before my time, and probably still going on now.  But I never had any problems.

   RS:               Was it a big presence in your life, was the fact the university was there, was that something you were aware or?

   DF:               I used to go down to campus and sell drinks.

   RS:               Sell drinks, you did?

   DF:               Mhmm.

   RS:               Oh okay, an entrepreneur.

   DF:               And I went down there and I saw President Kennedy.

   RS:               Oh you did?

   DF:               Oh yeah.  Saw him down there.

   RS:               I think Mrs. Jackson was there, too.

   DF:               It was on (25.05).  I also so President Clinton down there.

   RS:               Oh, you did?

   DF:               Mhmm, I never had no problem. 

   RS:               What some people said before, and this is just narrative, it might not be true for you, is that pre-desegregation, like during the time segregation, there’s actually more connections with the black community and the university.  It has more easily gone back and forth, but then when desegregation happened it seemed to be more of a cut off.

   DF:               You know they say, most of the buildings down there are named after the confederate folks.

   RS:               Silent Sam.  Saunders was a KKK.

   DF:               Some things just don’t change.

   RS:               Maybe someday, I’ll take a bull dozer down--.

   DF:               The only good thing about it, they get sewed and take all their property.  A lot of stuff they done, they had to pay for it.

   RS:               When you were, I guess a kid, was when Hargraves was coming up.

   DF:               That was the playing ground, I went to nursery school right there.

   RS:               Do you remember the Navy band being in town or was that before you?

   DF:               Navy band?

   RS:               So the--.  (26.42), that finished building it.

   DF:               No all I remember is just playing over there.

   RS:               And do you remember the bine weaver(26.53) shop, store?

   DF:               Oh yeah.

   RS:               Yeah?  Did you sneak over there from school and get some--.

   DF:               Yeah right down here, yeah he running a funeral home.

   RS:               Yeah he owned a funeral home.

   DF:               There looked like the walking dead.  Tall, and--.  At that time, you know, he had you, they had (27.17) for blacks, the black funeral home come pick them up.  It’s not like they have them now, the EMS.

   RS:               Yeah, that was the EMS because the county EMS didn’t come down.  You remember, what were your first impressions of north side elementary?

   DF:               It was good, that days, I mean at that age, I was allowed to be in school.  It was a good school.  The teachers they didn’t care about these kids, they teach to the ones that already, they really didn’t even teach them.  The ones that already know, they didn’t have to teach hard, and the ones that need help, they go to them to ask for help but they short.  I told them years ago, when my kid out there at Chapel Hill High, I told a principal and assistant principal, I said what you need to do with these teachers is the same thing you do with these kids.  They need to be evaluated, they need to give a sheet out of them at the end of the year.  Then you can sit down and go over that with them, what they need to do.  Because everybody don’t tell you the same thing.  Then there’s just somewhere, Texas or somewhere, where they fired, what ninety or some teachers? 

   RS:               Well they might have but they’re also changing their curriculum in a terrible way.

   DF:               Yeah I talked to a couple of the kids and when they change that stuff, they let the (28.59), but I, me, I stayed in school with my kids. They didn’t push them more because I wouldn’t let it go.  They knew me personally.  I’d leave work in a minute.  But see a lot of kids don’t have that, they don’t have that foundation.

   RS:               I forgot, I didn’t ask you about your siblings.  But you got brothers and sisters?

   DF:               Mhmm.  I got one brother, named Kevin and a sister Joyce.  She stay in Maryland.  And a sister Michelle and she stay at the home place.

   RS:               What is the home place?

   DF:               I don’t (29.37)

   RS:               And is your brother still alive?

   DF:               Yeah he stay out there, too.

   RS:               And were you the oldest?

   DF:               No.

   RS:               And who were you closest with, of your brothers and sisters?

   DF:               As close as I get would say is Joyce, she and I got the same mindset.  Towards getting stuff done, you know they really counted on us more so than my brother and my baby sister.

   RS:               She’s in Maryland you said?

   DF:               Mhmm.

   RS:               What does she do?

   DF:               She works at the pathology.  She works at the hospital--.  Anyway, she work I think at the same hospital, George Wallace, they took him to.  When he got shot.

   RS:               They pulled the plug on him [laughter].

   DF:               Mhmm.  She real sweet.

   RS:               So who were some of your favorite teachers at north side?

   DF:               North side, Ms. Smith, they named the school after her.

   RS:               Oh, Smith middle school is after her?

   DF:               Mhmm

   RS:               Oh.  What was her first name?  You don’t know?

   DF:               No, I always called her Ms. Smith.

   RS:               Who was that, R. D.  Smith’s wife?

   DF:               Mhmm. 

   RS:               Oh okay.

   DF:               His son, Richie, he was the introduced (31.07) out at that creek.  So he was in the paper the next day.

   RS:               What’s his name?

   DF:               Richie.

   RS:               Richie Smith. Why is he, where he does he do that?

   DF:               He’s an engineer.

   RS:               Oh okay. The R. D. on Caldwell, right?

   DF:               Mhmm.

   RS:               Is he still, I mean I saw him--.

   DF:               Mhmm.  He’s ninety something years old.

   RS:               He’s old. And the wife’s still alive, Mrs. Smith?

   DF:               Mhmm.  (31.32) That’s a blessing.

   RS:               Absolutely. So what year did you have her?

   DF:               It was second grade.  I will never forget the rules, right behind the stage.  Used to have to walk up on the stage and walk down and the classroom was in the back.  Then she left after that, being my teacher, because she was pregnant with her twins.

   RS:               Mhmm.

   DF:               Yeah she was a good teacher, like I said they kept her.  They’d tear your butt up.  Then when you got home you’d have another whooping.  You don’t see that now.

   RS:               No. 

   DF:               They cared about you, but like I said you don’t find too many teachers that care. You know, kids come to school with problems, they don’t want to try to find out what the problem is.  You know, if they care, about anybody, they would, you know, try to find out what’s wrong with them.  But they don’t. 

   RS:               So what was it about Mrs. Smith that you remember or liked so much?

   DF:               Well she was a disciplinary. 

   RS:               Oh really? So did you like that at the time or is this in, you know with, in retrospect.

   DF:               Well we knew when you go to school, whenever you go you have to do what you’re supposed to do and be alright with it anyway.  That’s just from home.  You see, so many kids don’t have that now.  You got mothers working, or don’t work, just sit home getting money, their dad is nowhere to be found.  I had some good teachers.  Let’s see, her, Ms. Bowser (33.12), she was good.

   RS:               What year was she?

   DF:               I was in, probably, about sixth grade or so.

   RS:               Oh okay.  So North Side went up to sixth grade?

   DF:               What grade did I leave there? I left north side and went to Lincoln, I think the last year Lincoln was ’65 I think it was.  I was in seventh grade then they sent me to Phillips.  But I went to Frank Porter Graham when it first opened.  I went there first.  From Frank Porter Graham to Lincoln.

   RS:               To Licoln?

   DF:               Mhmm.

   RS:               How’d that work?

   DF:               You know (34.06) and you just go to the other school.

   RS:               Was Frank Porter Graham all black then?

   DF:               Mhmm.

   RS:               I didn’t know about that.  All I knew about was North Side and Lincoln.

   DF:               Mhmm, Frank Porter Graham.

   RS:               Was that a middle school  or--?

   DF:               Yeah like middle school.

   RS:               Now how long was that an all black school?

   DF:               Don’t get me down there.

   RS:               I mean you don’t have to.

   DF:               I really don’t know.

   RS:               No, it’s not a big deal.  It’s interesting, I want to look into it because I didn’t know that.

   DF:               I left there, I went there when the school first new.  Then I left, I stayed there about a year or two years.  After that, I went to Lincoln.  Then from that one year to Lincoln I went to Phillips.

   RS:               Oh okay.  So you were part of the first--.

   DF:               Change.  Mhmm.

   RS:               And so what do you remember about Lincoln?

   DF:               Well they had some good teachers there.  I’ll tell ya, it was a good school  they had the best football team in the country.  I would say.

   RS:               So ive heard.

   DF:               Yeah that was good, man.  That was good.  Then they had this Coach Peterman.   Oh man, they need more people like him.

   RS:               He was in the Hall of Fame.

   DF:               Mhmm.  You don’t (35.29) Peterman, Carlton, down at Chapel High.

   RS:               Where at, oh at Chapel High?

   DF:               Mhmm.  Well he would get you.  He would tell ya, go tell your momma, tell your daddy.  He had that deep voice, he was a good man.

   RS:               Him and, was it McDougall, was the principal?

   DF:               Mhmm, he got me.


   DF:               One day, a couple of my buddies, we went and they had just polished the floor.  We took our shoes off and we slide around the hall.  So he, on my mother’s side, there were Jones’, so he’d call me Jones.  He said “don’t do it no more, Jones don’t you do that no more”, I said yes sir.  He turned his back, the next day we slid again, here he come.  Had to go in the office, take a little paddle.  He hit us in the hand.  He was a good man.  His wife was a teacher too.  They stayed right over there.

   RS:               On what street?

   DF:               Hmm? Next street.

   RS:               Graham?

   DF:               Mhmm.  Yeah, that’s where they stayed.

   RS:               Is that house still theirs?

   DF:               I don’t know if it’s still theirs or not.

   RS:               Or students?

   DF:               I don’t even go over that way much.

   RS:               Yeah, you don’t. 

   DF:               I think about it when I go through there.  When I was growing up, we didn’t come no farther than right up here.  We didn’t go up too far.

   RS:               This way? To Carrboro?

   DF:               Mhmm, we didn’t go to Carrboro, them people there were crazy.  They had (37.11) right up close to the street, and they said you stole rocks.

   RS:               And so that was working class white people?

   DF:               Yeah I guess you would call it that.

   RS:               Or poor white?

   DF:               Yeah.  That’s what I would say.

   RS:               But did people work side by side with them at the saw mill?

   DF:               You know all I know I would see them in the trucks, a bunch of black guys.  Old men.

   RS:               So you don’t know if they worked together?  Because I would assume that white people, poor white people worked there too.

   DF:               I never saw any.  There may have been.

   RS:               They also worked at the textile mills and those cotton gin over there, too.

   DF:               Yeah I had that call me tomorrow (38.01).  I don’t know who, I never heard anybody talk about that.

   RS:               So who were some of the big families, or people in the beighborhood that everyone kind of looked up to or knew?

   DF:               Hmm.  I had to look up to all of them because they all knew my folks, and we knew what to be expected.  And you know, back then in that time, nobody really had a telephone.  If you did something, by the time you got home, you know they knew that.

   RS:               It was that fast?

   DF:               That fast.  I never would I guess that.  I guess I did know some of, they used haul.  You know, they didn’t stay that far apart.  And they were hauling to tell them.

   RS:               So everybody knew the whole neighborhood.

   DF:               Everybody knew.  You know, you were everybodys child.  Everybody cared about you.  This generation now, they lost.  They don’t got nobody to care about.  And really, they don’t care about themselves.

   RS:               That’s part of it.

   DF:               Mhmm. I always said, everything starts with you first.  You know, it starts from you.  I just tell kids all the time, you put the first foot forward, the other one will follow.  But you back up, the other going back too.  So you pick your choice of which way you want to go.  It was a close-knit, real close-knit.

   RS:               Do you remember any of your elementary school crushes?

   DF:               I had all the girls.


   DF:               One of the old girls, Hattie (39.49), her mother just died.  Well she stayed, she getting ready to retire and move back. She’s in Wisconsin.  Then I had one friend, Brenda, Brenda Fount (40.04).  Her daddy, you probably heard of her father.  (40.11) Yeah, she came here, stayed for a little while.  Then my wife broke all that up.  Been with her ever since; thirty-six years.

   RS:               Well congrats.

   DF:               (40.32)

   RS:               Yeah?

   DF:               Yeah.  She’s a jewel.  Smart, smart lady.  Smart.  Worked a full-time job and went to school part-time.  Graduated with magma cum laude. 

   RS:               Where at?

   DF:               Central.

   RS:               Oh that’s great.

   DF:               Yeah, that school, that’s where my daughter graduated from, Central. 

   RS:               She’s from Chapel Hill too?

   DF:               Mhmm but she was raised by her uncle and aunt in New Jersey, her mother’s sister.

   RS:               You can kind of tell in her voice sometimes.

   DF:               Mhmm she was raised by her mother’s sister.  She deceased, that’s why I left her the prop down at the chapel (41.19).  Because Uncle Lewis, he died first. 

   RS:               How are you doing on time?

   DF:               What does you wanna know?

   RS:               I’ve got plenty of questions.  I can keep you here all day so you gotta tell me.

   DF:               I don’t got all day, I got something I gotta do.

   RS:               Well that’s fine, we can convene.  It’s 12:30 right more, you want to work a little more then call it quit?

   DF:               We can go ‘till one o’clock.

   RS:               One o’clock? Great.  So can you tell me a little bit about what the transition from Licoln to Phillips to I guess, was it Chapel Hill High?

   DF:               Yeah, well from Lincoln to Phillips, that’s when it was mixed.  Because we used to get the old books. See they had all the, the white kids had all the new books and we got the hand-me-downs.  But I didn’t have no problem at Phillips.

   RS:               So were you a part of the, did you know Charlene Register?

   DF:               Mhmm she lives right over, the next street over.

   RS:               Her mom comes downstairs to the ministry.

   DF:               Her dad, he died last year, or the year before last.  He used to sing a lot. 

   RS:               You didn’t feel anything like a second-class student, or not treated as--.

   DF:               No, I never got caught up in that. 

   RS:               You didn’t notice it, or you didn’t worry about it?

   DF:               I didn’t worry about it, nobody bothered me, I was fine.  I went to school to learn, so I didn’t let the other stuff bother me.

   RS:               And did you know any of the Whitestons before then?

   DF:               Uh uh.

   RS:               No?

   DF:               I had a lot of friends.  I was looking at my yearbook.  Class of 1970.  I haven’t seen a lot of them but we had about three class reunions and ive been to all of them except one.

   RS:               Of Chapel Hill High?

   DF:               Mhmm my class year.  Actually I was supposed to gradute in ’69.  When I was (43.43) playing with the girls.

   RS:               Oh. 

   DF:               So I stayed back a year.  And I could have, still went to the next grade but my mother said no and she made me pay for that.  And I appreciated it too. 

   RS:               Yeah, I bet. So you stay in touch with some of the white students?

   DF:               Oh yeah.  Some of my classmates around here.  Selda, Selde Rocks (44.17), he used to be a school teacher.  And I guess he was assistant principal, he stayed in Carrboro.  And then I got Juan Kamia(44.25), she own Curves out there in Carrboro.

   RS:               Oh Really?

   DF:               Mhmm.  Then I got one of my buddies, he’s in Monroe.  He got his own law practice.  And he used to tell me, about a couple years ago he called me laughing, I said what you laughing at, he said that he got Spanish people working at his firm.  Because I used to help him with his Spanish.

   RS:               Oh you speak Spanish?

   DF:               Back then I did.  It’s gone now.

   RS:               Uh oh, that’s too bad.

   DF:               Yeah he got his own law firm, I keep up with a lot of them.  I got one in, teaching brick mason, hes in Columbia, South Carolina.  Then my best buddy, he’s in Atlanta.  Then you got, Tim, Tim Upchurch, Dick Andrew.

   RS:               Are these all white people?

   DF:               Mhmm.

   RS:               Okay.

   DF:               So I see them sometimes.  But Habsene(45.38) and Alton, they’re black. 

   RS:               So you were one year at Phillips or two?

   DF:               Mhmm two.

   RS:               Because you were caughtup in the girls.

   DF:               Mhmm two years at Phillips.  Then I went out there, when was it--.  

   RS:               ’64?

   DF:               Sixth grade, I believe it was, sixth or seventh grade.  Yeah sixth or seventh grade, eight, nine, let’s see.  Was it sixth or seventh grade? It might have been ninth grade.  I might have been there three years.  Because I was at high school three years, from tenth grade to graduation.

   RS:               Did you have any black teachers at Phillips?

   DF:               Mhmm I think Ms. Bauser (46.31) was out there.  You really taking me back.

   RS:               Yes I did.  Now did, how did the white students treat the black teachers?

   DF:               I guess no one cared, you know some kids are going to be whatever they are from, however they grown up, but them teacher, they don’t take no mess.  They get them straight.  If there was a problem.   I didn’t really see many situations till I went to high school.  And we took over the office because the things we want.  That they would give other, but we wouldn’t have.  So we took the office over.

   RS:               Tell me a little bit about that.

   DF:               And they made some changes.  You know, just some changes needed to be made and we just stood up. 

   RS:               So was that in your first year at Chapel High?

   DF:               No I think it was tenth or eleventh grade.  Another favorite teacher was Joe Knight (47.42).  He taught Afro-American history. 

   RS:               They had Afro-American class at Chapel Hill High?

   DF:               Mhmm.

   RS:               Wow.  Was he African American?

   DF:               Mhmm.

   RS:               What was his name?

   DF:               Joseph Knight.  We keep in contact now.

   RS:               oh really?

   DF:               Yeah. He’s a smart man.

   RS:               He’s not married though?

   DF:               No he stay in Viginia.

   RS:               Oh okay.

   DF:               Down by the beach.  I think I gotta call him.  He was a smart young guy.  Still smart.  He wasn’t much older than us at the time, just a smart young guy. 

   RS:               He didn’t go to UNC or anything did he?

   DF:               I don’t think he went to school around here.

   RS:               Well that’s kind of neat that there was an African American history course.  They can barely get that going now. 

   DF:               Yeah they need that, I don’t know why.  They’re trying to get away from that.  For what reason, I don’t know.  It’s crazy, it shouldn’t be one a week, it should be all year long.  Then the other kids get to know about the other kids’ culture.

   RS:               I mean Black history is American history.

   DF:               That’s right. Where would they be at now, if it wouldn’t have been for us.  You know, they speak about the White House.  Who built the White house?  Black people.

   RS:               Who built the university?

   DF:               Mhmm. 

   RS:               Who built the town?

   DF:               Blacks.  But they don’t know it.

   RS:               No. No, it’s true.

   DF:               You know, you probably heard the saying “it be a cold dead hill before it be a black man be a President.”  Someone just pass words, they got a lot of snow then. 

   RS:               That’s pretty good.

   DF:               They got a lot of snow.  Be mind what you ask for.

   RS:               Mhmm.  Tell me a little bit about what taking over the office was.  So McDougall became Vice Principal, Peridom (49.58) became Assistant Coach.

   DF:               Yep, and he was head coach at one time too.

   RS:               Did he eventually become head coach?

   DF:               Yeah. 

   RS:               I knew at the time there was some resentment.

   DF:               Yeah.

   RS:               Around that.

   DF:               And they took, they want to give us, they want everything to be, you know Chapel Hill High, they wouldn’t give us nothing really.  So that’s why it’s the tigers now, that’s what Lincoln was, the tigers.  Then they took a lot of the trophies and got rid of them, that Lincoln had.  Threw them away.  Yeah people stupid, man.  Time change I always say, but people stay the same.  You just had to keep on going.

   RS:               Now were you at Lincoln High School, now I’ve heard different accounts of this, when there was a vote taken about whether the students wanted to integrate or not?

   DF:               Mhmm.

   RS:               Do you remember that at all?

   DF:               No.  Not right off the top. 

   RS:               Now were you around for any of the sit-ins?

   DF:               I used to see it but, no I didn’t get in that.  It was older.

   RS:               Yeah, it was a bit older than you.

   DF:               Yeah. 

   RS:               Can you go back to the day of the, the day that the, when you all took over the office happened.  Tell me a little about, what led--.

   DF:               Well it was, like I said, what it was is a lot of things that we wanted we weren’t getting.  Everything was Chapel Hill High so we had to put our own stuff in it too.  So they didn’t want to do it right, so--.

   RS:               So what was some of the planning behind it?

   DF:               We just took it over.  Some of the kids, man they were real racist but some of them got beat up.  But they alright now.  I see some of them now.  But a lot of it was just from parents I guess.

   RS:               Well hopefully, well some of them are probably passing it along but.

   DF:               See, you had to watch how you do because when you had kids, your kids will be growing up with one of those black kids you see a lot of that.

   RS:               See a lot of what?

   DF:               A lot of the kids, you know, that in my day in school, they didn’t like it.  How they were being prejudiced, then their kids will be with a black boy or a black girl.

   RS:               Well, that teaches them.  Makes them a little angry.

   DF:               Oh yeah, but they had to grow with it.  Because the truth doesn’t lie.

   RS:               And in the black community, was there a, I’ve heard before, but I want to get your perspective, there was some resentment among black people around interracial dating, too.

   DF:               Yeah.  Because I think my cousin, she and her husband, were one of the first ones that dated and they got married. 

   RS:               What was the name? 

   DF:               Well I call her Possum (53.21), but that’s not her real name but that’s all I ever called her.  They go to church out there on Rogers Road.

   RS:               Oh okay I’ve heard about them.  They are the first interracial marriage in Orange County. 

   DF:               Mhmm.

   RS:               I had a friend that did a story on them.  Yeah, interesting couple.  I think they met up on Franklin Street, in some store?

   DF:               I think they worked together.

   RS:               Yeah, at some store.

   DF:               Yeah, I think they worked down on campus, at one of the dining halls, I think it was.

   RS:               Oh okay, for some reason I thought it was one of the drug stores but maybe it was that, too.  So that’s your cousin, the woman’s your cousin, not the man.

   DF:               Mhmm.

   RS:               He’s your cousin now.

   DF:               That’s right, he’s a nice guy.  Yeah Alvin, he’s a nice guy.  He just retired, last year, I think it was from UNC print(54.13).

   RS:               Like you, did you all work together?

   DF:               No. 

   RS:               Oh, different department.

   DF:               He hasn’t been in printing that long.  You probably meant the university.

   RS:               Yeah somewhere else.

   DF:               Mhmm, he a nice guy.

   RS:               So, go back again, do you remember the day at all, how’s the day start?  What was the mood?

   DF:               What you talking about, the take over?

   RS:               Yeah.

   DF:               It was just, like a, we were students and we wanted it.  And the school wouldn’t give it to us.

   RS:               what were those things?

   DF:               Hmm?

   RS:               What were some of the--.

   DF:               Just being fair, just being fair.  Don’t just have us at school that we don’t have no voice.  Because I tell people all the time, I tell teachers too.  Kids, they got opinions, they got a voice, just like you do.  You need to listen to them. 

   RS:               That’s right. 

   DF:               And that’s what I tried to tel Jeff Tunnels, he used to be the principal at Carrboro, but he used to be at Chapel Hill High when my kids went there. 

   RS:               Is he the one that got the boot?

   DF:               Yeah, I was gonna hurt that man.

   RS:               What were some of the things going on there?

   DF:               He wouldn’t listen!  He wouldn’t listed, and when he got the job as principal and I found out, I called.  And I congratulated him, and I told him, you got to be able to listen, not because you the principal, that you think can do everything, against these kids.  You got to be fair.  And just like I said, they got a voice and opinion like you do.  And you know, the times, if the kids had something to say, they could say it back.  Not talking back, but I don’t know he want someone home for a day or two.  But honestly, it caught up with him and the reason he probably not there is because me and Chuckie.  You know Chuckie? 

   RS:               Yeah.

   DF:               You know Carl’s son?  I talked to him yesterday, he finished up his last test.  Up in Chicago, he’s going to be going to Maryland, working in the hospital in Maryland.

   RS:               He’s not the one that went into the armed forces is it?

   DF:               Mhmm, he’s in the Navy. 

   RS:               Oh okay so he’s not going over?

   DF:               No, he’s going to be working at the hospital.

   RS:               Good.

   DF:               Mhmm, he took his last test and had an 82 I think and he’s going to be doing his clinical for two weeks then he’ll be going to Maryland.

   RS:               Okay so what was the situation?

   DF:               This kid had problems with his family and I guess he was looking for attention.  And while he was looking for attention, he was using the wrong terms.  What happened was, with him, this kid he called Chuckie names. 

   RS:               The n-word?

   DF:               Mhmm.  And Chuckie was smart, and I told him you don’t ever get caught up in this stuff.  So he said something to the teachers and stuff, and the guy kept doing it.  Jeff Tomes (57.31) never did anything about it.  He did it with two brothers, and said the same thing, called them names. And he got his butt beat.  So they had a big meeting, the thing, they got to have a meeting with the parents and stuff.  And that’s when the bombshell came out, you see I didn’t ever go out there.  When it happened, I thought maybe he hadn’t said nothing to try to fix it himself.  But he hadn’t done nothing so this kid got beat up.  I guess the parents were trying to figure out what was going on.  So we had a big meeting and go back, to show you about meeting, I bet you couldn’t count five black parents that were there.  Because then, you know some black teachers.  And he got up there and started talking, and I told him, I said you know, the problem didn’t start right there with these three kids.  I said, I’m sorry this did happen between the three young men, but it didn’t start there.  And I said, Jeff, you know where it started from.  The kid was calling Chuckie names and you never done anything, you should have sent letters out then.  You never done anything, then them parents, they saw it.  They saw the real him and we talked about it.  He said well we’ll fix it, get all this stuff straight next, and them parents raised hell.  We was gonna fix this now, that kid was causing problems, we’re going to have to do something about it now.

   RS:               For his own sake, too.

   DF:               Mhmm, and I think he had to go somewhere else.  See, he didn’t tell the true story.  Then Chuckie got up there on that platform, he told, sitting right there beside him, he looked right in his face, and he told him, he said you didn’t do anything about it.

   RS:               Good for him.

   DF:               And he said, you didn’t respond.  He said, not that happened to these three young men, you didn’t do nothing.  So the parents really saw what it was about then.  That young man, he’s the one with the problem.  And you can’t have that because you had a whole school in turmoil, and kids fighting, fighting amongst each other for no reason. 

   RS:               Seems to be a lot of problems with racial stuff out there.

   DF:               And so, they let him, I guess he went to another school.  And I found out later that he was staying with his dad, and his dad would call him names, you know, stupid and stuff like that.  And his mother had got with somebody else and I guess the kid probably was looking for, really looking for attention.  He just didn’t know how to address it.

   RS:               I mean, often times, it’s not, it’s anger coming out from something else.  That’s what it takes, that’s the thing about racism, is it’s usually not logical but it’s also coming from some sort of, it’s like what they say--.

   DF:               It’s what they be around.

   RS:               And they also say, you know, like people, um child molesters, a huge percentage of them were molested themselves as children.  So it comes from something.

   DF:               Yeah, that’s wild.  Like all of them perverts.  But that was--.

   RS:               My next door neighbor.  I didn’t see her, here turn this off.  Never mind, we’ll talk about it after, it’s not pertinent to this.

   DF:               Yeah, so that’s what it was, that incident come from.  They got everything situated after that.  Then they had meetings, you know Chuckie would go to meetings, they would all talk.

   RS:               Well good.  I mean, eventually, it sounds like it was a good situation for the students.

   DF:               Yeah and that principal they got now, he seem to be real good.

   RS:               Yeah, I heard he’s letting them wear hats and not cracking down on people as much.  I just talked to Dominique about him, he seems to like him alright.

   DF:               Yeah, he seem to be real good when I met him.

   RS:               Now I’m going to take you back to that day again because I’m interested in what happened that day.

   DF:               Well we just--.

   RS:               When you took over, did you ever want to leave class at a certain time and come do it.  Was it all men, was it all women?

   DF:               No, it was all of us. 

   RS:               All the black people.

   DF:               Yeah.

   RS:               In the school.

   DF:               Mhmm.

   RS:               Any white people?

   DF:               I really don’t care about that (61.57).  I doubt it though.

   RS:               Yeah.

   DF:               I doubt it though.

   RS:               And what was the reaction of the white students?

   DF:               I guess it something they never seen before.

   RS:               Yeah?

   DF:               Yeah, but it turned out well.

   RS:               So I know there was, some of the specifics were the name of the mascot.

   DF:               Yeah, the mascot, like the tigers.  Like I said, they didn’t want to give us, they wanted everything to be Chapel Hill High.

   RS:               Mhmm.

   DF:               And so they had to change some of that stuff.  So, we just took the office over and they saw we weren’t playing.

   RS:               So you all took the office over, I think I heard in Walter Durham’s interview they put chains on the outside?

   DF:               Around the doors?

   RS:               Yeah.

   DF:               Yeah.

   RS:               And for some reason that was day when there was big visitors or something there.

   DF:               I don’t remember that.  I don’t know about the visitor part but I know they did lock the doors and stuff.

   RS:               You probably scared them pretty good.

   DF:               Mhmm.

   RS:               Did anybody get suspended?

   DF:               Not to my knowledge.  There may very well be but I don’t remember anybody getting suspended.

   RS:               So what, could you notice the kind of change in environment after that or the change in the attitude or the feel of the place?

   DF:               Yeah it changed, it had to change.  You know once they saw there needed to be some changes, it had to change.  Nobody trying to be bad or nothing, it’s just you got a right just like everybody else.  Send us to the school, give us some of the rights.  Not everything be Chapel Hill High. 

   RS:               Who were some of the leaders of that?

   DF:               Let me see.  My old classmates.  Jug (63.58), he was there, you called him Water, I called him Jug.

   RS:               Jug?

   DF:               Mhmm.

   RS:               What’s your nick name, too?

   DF:               Pig.

   RS:               Pig [laughter]

   DF:               Let’s see, King (64.02), Andrew Chidin, let’s see, Brooks was there.  It was all of us.

   RS:               Yeah?

   DF:               Yeah.  All of us.

   RS:               The other thing is about the church.  Were you at St. Joseph or do you go up at First Baptist?

   DF:               I went to First Baptist first, because that’s where I grew up at.  At First Baptist.

   RS:               Did your grandparents go there?

   DF:               That’s where my mother went.

   RS:               Oh okay.

   DF:               See my grandmother went to church here.

   RS:               Oh really?

   DF:               My grandma Rosie.  I came here because my dad was over here.

   RS:               So your dad was here but your mother was at First Baptist?

   DF:               Mhmm.

   RS:               Okay.  You didn’t even tell me about your parents.

   DF:               Yeah, she went to First Baptist.

   RS:               Was there a reason, just was it manly or?

   DF:               Who knows, the man was, that man has been there a hundred years (64.55).  I told him I had to go there when we had the rainbow tea, I had to go there to sing for my Aunt’s table.  I told him, I said, the saying the fruit don’t fall too far from the tree.  I just rolled right across the street.  He said well you know you can come back.

   RS:               You sound like him too.

   DF:               Hmm?

   RS:               You sound like him too, right there.

   DF:               Yeah that man a good man, but he’s to me he don’t look like to people like (65.28).

   RS:               Mhmm.  Sure he’s closed off.

   DF:               Like that young lady come over here in that stand up, be dancing and going on, you don’t know what’s on that tab of mine, you know?

   RS:               You got to be okay with it.

   DF:               But I think they say he had to be put out the church (65.44)

   RS:               That’s not--.

   DF:               Yeah a lot of things we do, I don’t think he would partake.

   RS:               Yeah.

   DF:               So used to being dominant.

   RS:               Well and part of it is growing old and wanting to protect your turf, I think, and preserve what you’ve been working for for so long.

   DF:               He done a great job on that.

   RS:               Oh yeah.

   DF:               I just think he need to share some of that, you know (66.09).

   RS:               Well Vince say and you might help us with who wants to came back in the (66.17)  Jackson Center because they got all of that space over there.  You can see what we got here.  Busting at the seams so.  You might, you can think about it.

   DF:               Yeah he, he need to do, I don’t know.  Like I said, reverend was a good man though, he was very protective of his church.

   RS:               Who are some of the pastors here that you remember best?

   DF:               Umm, what was that preachers name, oh I can’t think of his name.  He’s dead now, the Bishop. Bishop Chepelton (66.55).

   RS:               Chepelton?

   DF:               Mhmm.  He used to be here, he married me.

   RS:               Oh really?

   DF:               Mhmm.  As a matter of fact, we first got married and they opened just part of the way.  This was new.

   RS:               The educational unit?

   DF:               Mhmm.  Floyd Gibhert (67.11).  Floyd died from AIDS.

   RS:               HIV?

   DF:               Mhmm.  He was a young guy.  And uh, I can’t remember, what’s his name.  the bishop now, Bishop Hart.  He was here for a long time.

   RS:               Did you like him?

   DF:               Yeah he was a good man, just like he is now. 

   RS:               Yeah. 

   DF:               Lord have mercy, that joker name (67.43), he kept the church in turmoil.  He wanted to take the church over.  He dead now, too.

   RS:               Was it Wiley?

   DF:               What was his name.

   RS:               Wiley Wilson? No?

   DF:               Reverend Wilson was a good man.

   RS:               Yeah.

   DF:               Yeah he thought a lot of my dad.  Reverend Wilson was a good man.  Let’s see, Reverend Tames I think was when Reverend Chand (68.10) used to be here.  I’m trying to think of this, lord have mercy.

   RS:               We have a list somewhere.

   DF:               He was something, he was slick.  He had a lot of them fooled.  Wanted to take the church over.

   RS:               Was he taking money?

   DF:               Hmm?

   RS:               Was he taking money?

   DF:               He was on the city council, he was on the council too.  Lord have mercy, I can see him.  I can’t call his name.

   RS:               But you all had a pretty good run of pastors here.

   DF:               Mhmm.

   RS:               You had some good, good, good pastors here.

   DF:               And then we had Reverend Clobfelter (68.50), I saw her, went to a meeting in High Point.  

   RS:               Is she still in the CME church?

   DF:               I think she’s a emeritus.

   RS:               Okay. 

   DF:               And Dayle Sneed (69.01).  She went to another nation. 

   RS:               And Mariah Parrison.

   DF:               Mhmm. 

   RS:               So before we wrap up, for this session, but I got a lot more questions, can you just tell me a little bit about your dad and what he was like.

   DF:               My dad was a fanatastic man.

   RS:               That’s what I’ve heard.

   DF:               Fantastic man.  He would take his own money, a lot of times these folks would go to these church conferences, and sit and raise all kind of hell.  And he didn’t make a whole lot of money, but he would take his own money and did things around here.

   RS:               Around the church?

   DF:               Yeah.  Didn’t make no whole lot of money.  I think I kind of changed that when I was on the board, I was the chairman.  I said, you know, you got a man cutting grass, you got a man doing everything, you paying him, what two hundred fifty dollars, two seventy-five a month, and he doing everything.  No complaints, no nothing.  Then you pay him now five hundred some, you don’t get nothing. 

   RS:               I don’t think I follow.

   DF:               For, I’m saying the service that my father did.

   RS:               Oh [two people at once] (70.16).

   DF:               I’m not knocking Robert or nothing, but he nothing like my dad.  He was a good man.  Humble.  Quiet, got things done.

   RS:               What did he do?

   DF:               He kept the church up.

   RS:               Was that his full time?

   DF:               Mhmm after he retired, yeah.

   RS:               Okay.  What did he retire from?

   DF:               Frank Porter Graham.

   RS:               School?

   DF:               Mhmm.

   RS:               Working there, teaching there--?

   DF:               Yeah, working there. 

   RS:               Janitorial?

   DF:               Mhmm.  Good man, a heck of a mechanic, just a lot of wilton (70.53).

   RS:               Yeah.  And did he go to OCTS or did he--.

   DF:               I think he probably went over there, I don’t think he ever graduated but he went to the army. 

   RS:               Oh he did?

   DF:               Yeah, he fought in World War II.

   RS:               Oh okay.

   DF:               But he was--.

   RS:               Did he ever tell many stories about the war?

   DF:               Yeah, he told me some stories.  Had a guy, one of his friends up on the pole and he had too long away from the pole.  And a missile hit it.  Yeah, he had some stories.

   RS:               Did you, how do you think it impacted his world view? 

   DF:               Well he always was saying, I always said the same thing, we always talk about other countries’ dictators, this countries dictated too.  We just got rid of a dictator. 

   RS:               That’s right.

   DF:               You know, we sit around and talk about other countries, this county is being just as bad, if not worse.  But he fixed it (71.57).  he did it all, I know when he helped me put that water heater in downstairs.

   RS:               Oh yeah?

   DF:               Mhmm.  I put those rails out there, going up there in the choir stand.  Because I got tired of seeing, it was a bunch of old people in there, they going to choir stand, it hard to get up in there.  I put them rails up there, they didn’t have no rails.

   RS:               So when did you come over to this church?

   DF:               Hmm.  When did I come over here?

   RS:               When did you roll across the street?

   DF:               probably back in about ’69 or somewhere in there, ’68 or ’69.  Back in that--.

   RS:               That time?

   DF:               Mhmm.

   RS:               Okay.  So you’ve been here about forty years?

   DF:               I’ve been here a good little while. 

   RS:               And what about your mom?

   DF:               She went to First Baptist.  Yeah she worked on different boys over there.

   RS:               And did she work?

   DF:               Yeah she worked at the, worked most of her time down on campus.  Like the dining hall and all that.  Because I remember one time I went down there, she take me to the (73.21), I could look out the window.  The baseball field was right there.

   RS:               Oh okay.  They just redid the --.

   DF:               Hmm?

   RS:               They just did a re-, they redid the--.

   DF:               The baseball field was right there, by the dining hall.

   RS:               By the dining hall, Lenoir?

   DF:               Mhmm.

   RS:               Oh wow.

   DF:               Yep.

   RS:               On the quad?

   DF:               The baseball field used to be over there.

   RS:               Oh wow, that’s a couple buildings now.

   DF:               Yeah she used to work there then she worked down at Chase.

   RS:               Oh yeah yeah, that other one.

   DF:               Mhmm.

   RS:               Do you know if she was involved in any of the strikes?

   DF:               No she never talked about any of that.

   RS:               This one in ’69 there was a big one, I know.

   DF:               What are you talking about, on campus?

   RS:               Yeah.

   DF:               She probably was involved then, because they don’t want to pay her no money.

   RS:               Yeah, National Guard had to come in. 

   DF:               Need to do something, man I tell ya.  I always said if a man put his seven other men switch place you wouldn’t, this world be a much better place.

   RS:               Yeah, I believe that.

   DF:               But it’ll never be that.  I look at the people.  The other day, when he did the insurances and all that a prevalent.

   RS:               Health care?

   DF:               Yeah. 

   RS:               Those racists? Yelling at the black carcus (74.36).

   DF:               Oh man.  But I tell you one thing, whoever did that spitting, that’ll be it for me.  I don’t care if their father fix it up the sixties (74.45).  I would’ve took his head off easy.

   RS:               He’ll get his, it’ll come around.  

   DF:               It going all--.  That’s why I always say, times change but people stay the same.  So it comes right back out of them, it never left them.  It don’t make no sense.  You know I see it, too like when September eleventh.  It’s just a shame you saw all different ethnic groups head for one another.  And that big cloud of dust, I said now when that big cloud of dust cleared up, this way, that way.

   RS:               Then Bush ruined that moment.  A moment when he, when everything, the whole world was on our side, and he turns around and makes the whole world on the other side.

   DF:               He’s a, he was a done (75.35).  This chain, chain is going to (75.37).

   RS:               I hope, oh I can’t say that.

   DF:               He’s gonna croak for all the bad mess he be trying to talk about the man.

   RS:               He’s got, he’s got a bad spirit.

   DF:               Oh yeah.  And you see where they had a couple weeks ago, talking about the president, had to go in the hospital.

   RS:               All the time.

   DF:               Someone like him needs to be sitting, thanking the lord that he still here.  But once a devil, I guess always a devil.  I think him and Carl Rowe (76.03), they were--.

   RS:               Yeah they sure were.

   DF:               Because he’s a dummy. He’s a dummy. 

   RS:               Mhmm.  About one o’clock, I guess we can try to reconvene at a later date?

   DF:               Yeah we can call it a day (76.20).  That’ll be good.               

   RS:               I am, how’s it been so far?

   DF:               It’s been good.

   RS:               Painless?

   DF:               Hmm?  Oh that doesn’t bother me, nothing bother me.

   RS:               Alright I’m going to cut it off.


Transcribed by Julie Wheeler, September 20, 2011





Marian Cheek Jackson Center, “Dennis Farrington,” Marian Cheek Jackson Center Oral History Trust, accessed September 19, 2019,

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