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Theodore Turner
Theodore Turner

Tom Jones ~ I'll Never Let You Go

6.45pm: Now it's Joelle Moses. I like Joelle Moses. She looks nice, she dresses nicely and she has a perfectly acceptable singing voice. However, that's it. That's literally all there is to say about her, and that's why she'll never win The Voice. If she had more character - maybe if she came out as a reformed happyslapper or got a tattoo of the word 'BUMS' on her face, there'd be more to say about her. Until then, I'm stuck.

Tom Jones ~ I'll Never Let You Go


Q: Basically what we would like to begin with--Mrs. Williams, unless you have some questions to start--is for you to tell us about your family background. Include your birthplace, parents, siblings, early education, interests, and influences, anything else you would like to say. (Streamed audio file of interview for this question using RealPlayer) A: My early life. I'm a native Virginian born in the state capital, oldest of three children. My father was an educator, ended up being a high school principal in Henry County and then later was the equivalent of--I know we don't use this names anymore--the truant officer out of the School Board Office; also worked with lunch programs, and one of those many people who work at the School Board office that you can't tell what they do all the time. And my mother was a homemaker. And my early education? I was raised and bred in Henry County and all my education came here until I went off to college. Graduated from Elbridge Way High School that is non-existent. It's an elementary school where your children probably go. And where your wife was principal, and I graduated on the stage and what is now the library. That was my graduation, and it also included the auditorium. And there were 25 in my graduating class. Q: You're speaking of Elbridge Way High School. A: Yes, Elbridge Way High School. And then I got my Master's, undergraduate work, too over at JMU, which was called Madison College back in the old days. Before that, Harrisonburg State Teachers' College, and you said early. Is that as far as you want me to go now? Q: No, you can take where you'd like to take it. A: What do you want to know now? The rest of it. Q: Well, no I've got other questions. A: I don't know what you really want to know. So... Q: No, I think that sounds good. How about siblings, brothers and sisters? A: I have two sisters. I'm the oldest. No boys. Q: Were they also teachers or. . . . . . . . .. A: No, wouldn't be caught dead teachers. But teaching runs in my family 'cause my grandmother was a teacher and my father was a teacher and I'm a teacher and none of my children are planning to be teachers. They said it's too hard work. Q: Yeah, probably right. Were there any special events or circumstances that influenced your decision to go into education? A: Yeah, a teacher. Q: Let me hear about it. A: Mrs. Myrtle Odell in Ridge--I don't know if you know her; you probably don't know Mrs. Myrtle. Q: I do. A: And she was my high school math teacher. I did not do well in math. I was not a good math student. In fact, I probably disliked math, but I loved Mrs. Myrtle. And she also directed all the plays--I was in the one-act plays and the senior play and all--and Mrs. Myrtle just led me right down the garden path, bless her heart. And I said if I could just be like Mrs. Myrtle, I'd be okay. Q: Do you feel like you have now? A: No, she's a far better teacher than I'll ever be. But really and truly, she was the one. And then it was another teacher in the school who said to me when I was trying to decide on where to go to college, "Why don't you go up to Madison? That's where I went." And without even checking it out, I went. Q: Do you remember who that was? A: Yes, Mary Virginia Dinsmore. She's Mary Virginia Kyle now. Lives in Martinsville--y'all would know her. She's still living; she's an old, retired teacher. Yeah, teachers had a big influence on my life. Q: That's great! A: Very much so. My parents never suggested what I might want to do for a living, but they did tell me when I went to college--nobody ever talked about if you go to college, that was never the word used in our house, when you go to college, which by the way I used with mine and it does work. Q: I remember talking to you before and one of the things that I remember is you started your first job at a very, very early age than it was, in fact. A: Yeah, I went through college in three years. Not because I was smart, but because I went to summer school, and when I started teaching, I was just barely 20. Q: Where was your first job? A: At Ridgeway Elementary, believe it or not. I taught 3rd grade, but I wasn't certified to teach 3rd grade. I was certified--the certification then was 4th through 7th. And then I had an endorsement in high school English/Social Studies. And so, I wasn't certified to teach 3rd grade, but the 3rd grade teacher became pregnant. I had married in college and just had a baby, and you couldn't find teachers in those days so the superintendent asked me would I come. And when I taught that first year in the 3rd grade, I always thought I should have quit teaching then. My dad was the principal. My mother was the school secretary and my little sister was in my class--I didn't have a chance! Oh yeah, I didn't have a chance. Q: Give us a reference. A: That's just the way it worked out. Huh? Q: What year or what decade if you like? A: What year did I start teaching? No, I'm serious. I'm 61 years old. You want that on the record? Put that in the archives. That makes me a real old one. No, I just had a birthday. I'm proud to be alive. 1954, now don't hold me to dates for sure, but I think that's when I started teaching: 1954. Q: That's the year before I was born, if that makes you feel any better. A: Well, doesn't make me feel worse. I don't really care. Q: How many years did you spend as a teacher before you became a principal before you went to Ridgeway Elementary School. A: Okay, I knew you were going to ask me some of that. I guess I knew that, and I try to think. I can't remember dates, and I've done so many different things and been so many places I can't remember, but I do remember this: I started teaching at Ridgeway, and I taught that one year in elementary and then I decided elementary wasn't for me. So I went over to Drewry Mason, now Drewry Mason High School. It was probably the third year it was open. Something like that. Q: That puts it at about 1953. A: When the school open. Yeah, yeah, something like that. Well, but I'm still in teaching. And I went over to the high school and taught English for a long time, then gradually got into Social Studies. And then I stayed there for awhile and decided maybe I missed the elementary school, so I went back to Ridgeway. See, I like everywhere I teach. That's the problem, everywhere I go I like it and I want to stay, but I want to see what's on the other side of the fence. So I went back to Ridgeway, and I taught 6th, 7th grade for the rest of the time. I got my Master's ten years to the date after I got my Bachelors if that'll help you any. So ten years, let's say I taught ten years then, eleven years because the first years I got my Master's, I wasn't invited to do anything. Then after that, I was invited. Q: That really leads me to my next question. You, of course, decided to go into administration. I was wondering what was your motivation? A: See, I got my Master's in administration. In those days at Madison College, it was a Master's, administration and supervision. You didn't get one or the other. So also that's an interesting story. All through there, I was the only girl in the class. Q: At Madison. A: Oh yeah, women did not go into administration. There wasn't a single woman administrator in Henry County. Q: What made you want to be an administrator? A: Because not a single woman in Henry County has been one. It's just that simple. I'm very much a women's libber when it comes to some things. I still like for you to pull out my chair, but very much in some things. So I was with all men, some who told me that I wouldn't ever make it in administration. Some who told me, one guy especially--I'd love to know where he ended up being a principal. What he wanted was...he was one of these hot-shot principals up in the Valley somewhere that knew everything God ever put on earth. And we had some class one time, and he told me after the first class that because I was a woman, I'd never make an "A" in that class. Course, I did. And if...thanks to him, I did. And I made sure he knew it. But I went into it simply.... I was probably influenced by my father some 'cause he was an administrator. Could be. But I just thought it'd be nice. Q: Haven't heard you mention money. So money didn't come into it? A: Money has never been an object. If it were, I wouldn't be in teaching. Q: I just wondered. A: I've never thought about money; any job I ever took for salary came after we talked about the job. Q: When you became an administrator, you've already mentioned your formal training, do you think that you were prepared? I assume your first job was as a principal? A: My first job was as an assistant principal at Fieldale Primary School. If you know the old Fieldale area, there's the other school where the Y is and everything. I forget who's principal up there now, where Eddie Levi used to be. Q: Danny Cannaday. A: Alright, see I've lost track. Now the lower school down under the hill, the one they don't use anymore, there's one across the road and down the hill and in a hollowed out place. It is the old, original building for Fieldale, as I understand it. So what they had done was they had made it Grades 1 - 3, and then at the upper school that used to be Fieldale High School before they built the new one, which is the old one now--you with me? Q: Um-hum. A: Okay, just checking because I realize y'all not raised in Henry County. But so anyway, Eddie Rakes was principal of the upper school, well he was principal of both schools, and for awhile he held both jobs. He would run across the road and come down and visit down in the hollow. And so then Mr. Reeves, who was the superintendent, asked me would I go as assistant principal--he did not trust me as a principal, oh yeah, because women couldn't be--and I was the assistant principal in the lower school under Eddie Rakes. But I never saw Eddie. I mean, I just ran the school by myself really, and then the next year, Mr. Reeves decided that I hadn't done anything really bad and maybe I should just be principal down there by myself. So I was principal down there for, I don't know, several years. And it's a good training because I felt good about being down there, and I'll tell you why. The superintendent lived in the community, and everything that went on, he knew about it. So after being assistant principal, for him to give me a principalship, I felt like at least the community accepted me. Q: Were you prepared on your first job as an administrator? Do you think that the preparations that you spent formally prepared you to be an administrator? A: Some things I did. A lot of it is just simply maturing, giving the person time to grow up. I don't think anyone should ever be an administrator that has not been a classroom teacher. I'll go on record saying that. I've never understood anybody who got to be one without being a classroom teacher. I think there's a whole lot that you bring that has nothing to do with what you learned at Tech, that has to do with being in the classroom and understanding people and children and so forth. So a lot of it was common sense. I made some mistakes along the way--you learn from those. Yeah, I enjoyed my classes in that it simply broadened my mind. Now I can't zero in and say, "This class really helped me here." I don't see that at all. Do y'all feel the same way? Q: Tape's on. A: The tape's on! We got him--yes! Q: I think Dr. Culp's class is excellent. A: Except for this one class that they say is just wonderful! I hope you're laughing--these boys don't need to fail! Q: What administrative positions have you held? And tell us a little bit about what they were like. A: Okay. Oh, I'd love to tell you about one. Q: Keep it chronologically if you can. A: I can. I will. It's hard; it's rally hard. Okay, I was at Fieldale Primary then I was at.... I was principal at Fieldale Primary then Mr. Reeves came around one day and asked me to become the Elementary Supervisor for the County because whoever it was was retiring. And I didn't want to. I really liked Fieldale. In fact, of all the places I've ever worked, that was probably the nicest. It was a small, closed community. Really nice people who would bring me goodies. I really liked it. Well, I pondered it, and he had to have an answer. And so, well I had never done this. I had never.... After all, that's what I got my Master's in, right, to do that, too. So I thought, well, I'll go see what it's like. So I went up there, and I was the supervisor for the upper grades at first. And a lady named Edlie Daniels was the supervisor for the lower grades. And then they had people for the upper grades. Now remember this was in the days before integration. So you must... I know... I've... Q: I'm just watching for the sake of the tape, so please don't think anything. A: Okay. Okay. So we only worked in white schools. And they had this guy name Mr. Randolph, who was black who just died last year, who was the supervisor for all the black schools, but no white person ever went in a black school. Nobody came in this school except Mr. Reeves. He was the only white person since he was the superintendent. So, we only went to white schools. And then while I was a supervisor, it was when we integrated schools which was undoubtedly the most uncomfortable time of my life. I was the one, they decided--the superintendent decided while I was an elementary supervisor--that the way we were going to integrate Henry County Schools.... First place, whenever integration occurred, Henry County didn't do it. We dragged our feet for another ten years or so with the Supreme Court threatening us and everything else to hurry up and do it. So the superintendent got this brilliant idea. And the brilliant idea was that we were going to go over Henry County, and we were going to find white children who were underachievers. And we were going to bring them into Carver High School, this very school, going to bring them into Carver High School for a year, and we're going to have a hundred of them down in a separate section down on the bottom floor over there. And we were going to teach them reading, writing, arithmetic or whatever to bring them up to whatever levels they were going to come up to. And that would give black kids a chance to see white kids and white kids a chance to see black kids, and then if that worked and we didn't kill each other, then we're going to integrate Henry County Schools. The superintendent said to me it was my job to go over Henry County and pick all these white kids that would go over to this black school. I just about committed suicide, alright? When it was all said and done, the phone calls that I got, the names that I was called, the things that I was told that I was.... Nothing will ever hurt me again. Ever again. Nothing will ever hurt me again like that did. It was really rough. I had to do it--it was my job. Okay, so we came up here and then he said to me, although I was elementary supervisor--remember this was back in the old days when you--he said, "Look, you just go up there and head that up." So I was Elementary Supervisor of Henry County, but I really lived at Carver High School for a year. And now that I have done that, I wouldn't give a million dollars for the experience because I got to live among a black culture. And how many white people today can say that? And it was wonderful. The worst that's happened to integration is that they've lost their culture, and they had the most beautiful culture, black people. And we would have assemblies, and we'd all go. And the first time I ever heard them sing "We Shall Overcome"--I had never heard the song--I thought it was the most beautiful song I had ever heard. It was really neat. So I learned the words, and we all joined hands and we all sang out. I wouldn't give anything for the year up here. Q: Did you feel, I want to say well-treated but that's not the word, did you feel accepted among that community when you were there? Did you feel like they welcomed you and were glad that you were there, or did you feel like a .... A: No, no, no, no, I was a minority. You mean here, this community? Q: In Carver. A: The community in Carver? When I was in Carver, the only community that I came in contact with--you have to remember they kept us isolated for the most part, and we only went together for lunch, for assemblies, and then the rest of the time we were down in our little shelter. And the only people that I ran into--and I hate that this is on tape, but I'm going to say it anyway since I'm going to call names--were low-class white people who showed up periodically to cuss me out because their children were here. And it was always really, really, really, really low class white people who dared tell me that I was a nigger-lover, etc., etc. when they were sitting there smelling so badly I could hardly sit at the table with them. You know, things like that really bothered me, but I look back on it and understand. People were very fearful about this, I understand that. Well okay, so I digressed. I'm sorry. That was one of the.... I wouldn't give anything for having gone through that period of history. I mean anything for it. And there are people in Henry County today who probably still hate my guts because I sent their child off here although the program ended up being very, very good. The kids ended up liking it and mingling with the black kids, so it worked fine for us if the grown-ups had stayed out of it. But then we went ahead and we integrated. Okay. Well, then after we integrated, I was an elementary supervisor. What else did I do? Oh, yeah, one Dr., I meant Mr. Riggs came in and asked me why didn't I just be Director of Instruction. So I hadn't ever been that, so I became Director of Instruction. But I didn't get to do anything. I had no authority that went with it whatsoever. In fact, he was sort of an autocrat. I loved him; I would have done anything for him, but I didn't get to make many decisions. Okay. And so I didn't like that job because I didn't have to think. And then we got a new Superintendent, and his name was Dr. Paul Jones. And Paul and I grew up together. We played basketball together. Used to be the boys played the second game and the girls played the j.v. game. And so we saw each other the first time in our basketball uniforms. And Paul became the Superintendent, and I decided I wanted out. I wanted out--I was miserable in the School Board Office. I see no value to it. I still see no value to it. I'm sorry. I see no value to it. He begged me to stay on, and I said, "Forget it." So I wanted to go back to teaching. Well, yep, the School Board Office and no children. And I went into the business for children and there no children. Only people I ever got to see when I was a supervisor were bad teachers. I had to always go and visit bad teachers. And I'm tellin' you the truth, and I don't care what they say and what program you take, there's not much you can do with a bad teacher but let'em go. And that's why you guys who now get to be principals, y'all got to, I insist that you take care of that three year thing and let them go. Don't pat them on the back and say try again the fourth year when they


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