In this interview, Rosa Chadwick Handley recalls her experience as a student at Williston Junior High and High School in the 60's, including academics and extracurriculars, the faculty-student dynamic, and the character, atmosphere, and significance of the Williston environment.
Q: --interview Rosa Chadwick Handley. Rosa attended Williston High School and she's also a graduate of UNCW. Welcome, Rosa.
Rosa Chadwick Handley: Thank you so much.
Q: I would like you to tell us first were you born in Wilmington and if so tell us a little bit about your early life-
Rosa Chadwick Handley: I was born in uh.. Wilmington, uh.. July 19 uh.. 48 at uh.. the uh.. old uh.. James Walker Hospital, uh.. my parents, uh.. Dorothy Chadwick and uh.. Vinder[ph?] Chadwick. I grew up uh.. here in Wilmington and uh.. lived here most of my- my life. We lived on the south side of uh.. Wilmington and actually I grew up, and I'm not ashamed to say it, in uh.. what was then called the projects. I lived in the Jervay projects on uh.. South Eighth Street from probably the first grade to the uh.. 10th grade and we walked uhm.. of course at that time to school. We walked to uh.. 10th Street and I find it uh.. really interesting when I tell the story that all of my 12 years of schooling was in the same block (laughs) because we started out at uh.. Gregory Elementary School and then to uh.. Williston Junior High School and then to uh.. Williston Senior High School. So for the whole 12 years we- we walked and it was- uh.. I never felt in my growin' up years deprived in any way. It-- It's- It's- It's some of the happiest of memories to me, uh.. goin' to school here and havin' such wonderful teachers. I always felt like they were teachers that really cared about what happened to us and uh.. really were- were nurturing and which may not be quite the same now but it was- it was like a- a community and a family.
Q: Now did you have any siblings?
Rosa Chadwick Handley: I have one sister who's older and two younger brothers. Uhm.. Benjamin Chadwick is my uh.. older brother and Larry Chadwick and my sister was Dorothy Peterson.
Q: Now did all of your siblings attend Williston also?
Rosa Chadwick Handley: Uh.. Unfortunately, no. My sister, uh.. Dot, graduated in 1964 from Williston. I graduated in 1966. My brother, uh.. Benjamin, we call him Leroy, he graduated from Hoggard in uh.. 1970 and I believe my brother, Larry Chadwick, graduated from uhm.. Hanover in 1973 I believe.
Q: What did you do after graduating from high school?
Rosa Chadwick Handley: Well, I wanted to go to business school and uh.. I actually did apply at uh.. Durham Business College but my parents said that if I wanted to- to go to school it would have to be local uh.. due to finances, so I got a small scholarship from a business club at Williston called the Tiara[ph?] Club I believe and Miss uh.. Anna Burnett[ph?] headed that uh.. organization. So that small scholarship and I worked my way uh.. through school by working at uh.. Dr. Eaton's office in the evenings and I got accepted here at UNCW and was delighted. Uh.. There were about-- I was not driving at the time so there were about probably five or six of my friends and uh.. they would drive me to- to school every day and sometimes I'd catch the bus, U- UNCW, and uh.. I attended here for four years, graduated in uh.. 1970 with a degree in uh.. political science with an emphasis in human services.
Q: Uh What were your best subjects when you were in high school?
Rosa Chadwick Handley: I have always loved history and English and absolutely to this day I think I can spell better than- than- than most people that I know, at least they say that I can and they come to me for spelling. So those were my favorite subjects I guess. I- I never quite liked uh.. math and science. Give me the history and the- the reading kinds of subjects (laughs) and I'm more comfortable.
Q: Were you involved in any other activities such as the band, Glee Club?
Rosa Chadwick Handley: Well, I never could sing so I never did join (laughs) uh.. the Glee Club or the band but I was involved in the- uh.. the Library Club, the uhm.. National Honor Society, (laughs) the Crown and Scepter Club and I was uh.. a newscaster for Williston. Back in those days we'd have a Friday morning newscast so we'd uh.. go into the office and talk on the PA system and tell the news of the- of the week so uh.. that was kind of a highlight and a- and a treat for me. I guess I've always been a- a- a talker and uh.. I enjoyed it (laughs) quite a bit uh.. but- but no band and no Glee Club. We also had-- Uhm.. We were talkin' earlier about the uhm.. social clubs and I never in my mind was an actual Vikette but I had a cousin, Brenda Chadwick, class of '63, that was a Vikette and so I- I did actually go to the uh.. initiation but uh.. dropped out shortly thereafter but those social clubs were a big part of uh.. Williston history.
Q: Right, right. Now, you're the first person that I've interviewed thus far that has talked about being a news-
Rosa Chadwick Handley: Newscaster? Uh huh.
Q: Well who was in charge of that-
Rosa Chadwick Handley: I believe that was Miss- uh.. Miss Burnett. She was the uh.. head of the business department and she was very instrumental in gettin' us involved especially in- uh.. in- in writing and we would take turns once a week and I can't remember how many of us there were, probably seven or eight, that would do the newscasts once a week, sorta like notices, announcements that you have in church. That was kind of a- I guess a summary on Friday mornings.
Q: I'm glad you mentioned that. You're the first person who mentioned that. Can you explore that Library Club? Have you heard about that before? I don't know who was in charge of that.
Rosa Chadwick Handley: Miss Todd.[ph?] That's right, Miss Todd.
Q: I know 'cause I was in the library. Several persons have talked to us about a Senior Day where they visited college campuses and most of them talked about visiting A&T. Were they doing that when you were in school? I know they did that prior, I know the '50s, persons that I've talked to from the '50s who graduated.
Rosa Chadwick Handley: I don't remember uhm.. a Senior Day uh.. and I- I know I did not uh.. participate in that but I kinda remember there was a- a special trip that some of the seniors would take and- and right now I can't remember if that was the Tri- Tri Y Club-
Q: Tri Hi Y?
Rosa Chadwick Handley: Tri Hi Y, right, club or not but I- I kinda think that's who it was because I had a cousin that- uhm.. in the class of '65 that uh.. took a trip and I believe they went to D s- Washington, D.C., but uh.. Senior Day I'm- I d- I'm- I don't remember.
Q: Well ok tell us about your favorite teachers.
Rosa Chadwick Handley: Well, I've already mentioned several times Miss Anna Burnett and she was actually really a role model for me. She was the business education teacher so in my mind that's what I wanted to be when I grew up was a business education teacher and that's what led me to apply to Durham uhm.. Business College originally and when I started here at UNCW that's- I started out as my major in business and uh.. had a real struggle with accounting because it- at that time uh.. I had a boyfriend that- that drowned that year, that summer, and I had a real difficult time gettin' through my accounting. So I took the chicken way out and went to another interest of mine which was history, political science, social science. I wanted to be a social worker at that point. It just completely switched but Miss Burnett was always real instrumental in gettin' me involved in things at school and she was just one of those people that I felt like thought that I could be somethin' and- and she- she- she was really encouraging and uhm.. so- so that's how I kinda followed that track. Uh.. I remember though Mr. Lowe[ph?] who was the- uh.. taught me government and history, Mr. Maynard[ph?] (laughs) who- uh.. eh.. actually I didn't like math but he taught me geometry and he made it- he made it interesting so he was also a- a- a favorite of mine. And goin' back a little bit farther was Miss uh.. Holmes[ph?] who taught uh.. algebra, that was actually in junior high school, uh.. ninth grade and Miss Sharpless[ph?] and I guess I had a lot of favorites but uh.. I guess Miss Burnett really stands out as a- a role model for me.
Q: Did you have Miss- Ellis Wiese?
Rosa Chadwick Handley: Oh, yes, I did have L.S., as we called her. (laughs) She was my uhm.. 12th grade homeroom teacher and uh.. I remember eh.. eh.. everybody was obsessed with what they were gonna do with their hair. I think that was the time when Afros came out and I remember her sayin' you don't need to worry about what goes on your head, it's what goes in your head that's (laughs) important (laughs) but she- uh.. I mean she was a really strong uh.. personality type and uh.. showed a real interest and love for the- for the students and that you did get a strong education. That was real important to her and especially uhm.. literature. You know, she stressed that and uh.. I remember those Canterbury Tales (laughs) to this day (laughs) and all of the recitations that we had to do but it wa- it was a- it was a- it was a fun time. Uh.. I mean it- it just warms my heart just- just talkin' about it because it brings back some of those really good memories that you had as a- as a person growin' up.
Q: Yeah are you part of the Williston Alumni Association?
Rosa Chadwick Handley: I have not joined as a member but I take part in a lot of the activities. I was just at a meeting last night. Well, I think Vernice[ph?] uh.. Hamilton is the new president and she's also a member of my church, Mount Nebo, and so she was encouraging us to uh.. join and I told her that I certainly would consider it and we uh.. are in the process of plannin' our 40th class reunion and so when we have our next meeting I'm gonna bring that to them for us to be more involved and more active uh.. in the alumni association.
Q: You just said you're gonna celebrate your 40th class reunion. What type of activities are you planning?
Rosa Chadwick Handley: Well, we know we're gonna have uh.. the first night meet and greet kind of situation. Uh.. We're hopin' to do- uh.. uh.. instead of a church service that Sunday we're hoping to go to old Williston gym to have our church service and we're also gonna have a memorial service that Sunday for deceased members and we're gonna have a big dinner dance that Saturday night uh.. where we all get to dress up and uh.. take pictures and- and reminisce. So uh.. we're really workin' hard to get that together so uh.. it'll be in November, it'll be Thanksgivin' weekend, so we're hopin' to, you know, uh.. get a lot more participation because people are here anyway so that's kinda how we decided on that.
Q: Now are you-- do you still see a lot of your old classmates?
Rosa Chadwick Handley: They're-- Eh.. It's surprising how many people that we see. When we have our class meetings, you know, it's hard to get people especially initially to jump on the bandwagon so we get eight to 12 people at the meetings but I see so many more in Wal Mart (laughs) and in the malls (laughs) and around town so I'm always encouragin' them to- uh.. to come to the meetings and participate but it is really surprisin' how many people still live in Wilmington or have moved back to Wilmington. It really is.
Q:Um several people that we've talked to talked about notables visiting Williston. Were there any-
Rosa Chadwick Handley: I uhm.. remember Meadowlark Lemon and the Globetrotters comin' to uh.. I know it was an event in the gym because they played basketball. Uh.. I know, you know, Althea Gibson has a real strong history here with Dr. Eaton but I don't really remember her ever uhm.. visiting uh.. the school. So I can't recall many uh.. notables in my uh.. time there really.
Q: How do you feel about the closing of Williston?
Rosa Chadwick Handley: Well, that's somethin' that uh.. personally I regret and the reason is my mother graduated from- then- Well-- Uh.. Well, she didn't graduate but she attended the Williston Industrial School and of course all of us, well, two of us anyway graduated from Williston and I miss that and I wish there was still a Williston for my own children and my grandchildren and that's because I really feel so strongly that the education that they got was really serious and the- and the teachers were uh.. committed to uh.. makin' sure that we got a good education. So when the school closed uhm.. it's- it's like- uh.. though the building's there it's still like part of their history was just kinda ended and so uh.. I feel a- like I said, a personal regret that uh.. my children and their children won't experience what I eh.. have experienced and my sons who are in their 30s even to this day say when are you all gonna forget about Williston and forget that school stuff? And our answer is never 'cause it's such a part of us and see, the- to me they don't have that feeling uh.. that- that we have and that pride in our school and uh.. in that part of our history.
Q: Do you feel like attending Williston protected students from discrimination?
Rosa Chadwick Handley: To some degree I guess that it- eh.. it-- I don't know if uh.. protected is what I would- uh.. the term that I would use but we all felt I think that- uh.. that we were a family and- and that helped us to- to face some of the discrimination. As I said, I attended UNCW uh.. 1966 and I believe there were probably maybe nine blacks that attended UNCW at the time and I remember uhm.. some hurtful uhm.. situations that happened and perhaps in a sense we brought that on ourselves because the five or six of us that were close we would sit in our car durin' our breaks and lunchtime as opposed to goin' in the little pub that they had out here then. And then I remember uhm.. bein' in dance class and it was myself and two of my girlfriends and we never had a dance partner because when it was time to choose partners the guys would of course go to the white girls and we were just left there so we ended up dancin' with our- with each other or dancin' by ourselves. Now that stands out in my mind because coming from Williston to UNCW was a major change for me because, you know, Williston was a segregated school but uh.. attendin' Williston it was like we were all, you know, just one so I never felt in the school anyway any kind of discrimination. Now, however, I remember the situations uhm..-- Was it uhm..-- It was a department store downtown. I-- I'm thinkin' it was Penney's but I'm not sure but I remember very well the colored water fountain and the white water fountain and I was always short so I could hardly reach either one of 'em but I think the other was a little- I can eh.. get it easier and my mama said no, you can't drink out of that fountain. Well, why not? And- And then she explained it to me and I thought well, h- that doesn't make any sense even eh.. at that age. So uh.. y- we were protected in a sense because at Williston we were- we were all just us, (laughs) you know.
Q: Right right-- Do you feel it would have been better if Williston had been kept as an integrated school then and if so do you think that could have been done, that it could have remained open as an integrated school?
Rosa Chadwick Handley: I think certainly that it- it- it could have been. I don't know how uhm.. that- that would have played out. Uh.. I w-- I would have wished that it certainly could have been uhm.. tried as an alternative to- uh.. to closin' the school becau-- In a very real sense I'm sure it would have- would have changed and that cohesiveness that- that we felt eh.. would have- would have not been there but still eh.. it would have been a part of us, uh.., you know, where did you graduate from high school, where uh.. Williston, you know, but it's no longer there. Well, like I say, the buildin's there but it's truly not our Williston. Uh.. As part of this 40th reunion we're hopin' too to- to go on a tour of the school that- uh.. that Sunday and- and we did that a few years ago and it just meant so much to us goin' through those halls and recallin' those experiences and I guess it's that kind of personal history that I think is- uh.. is so missed by our- uh.. our- our children.
Q: You were talking about your son saying that when are we going to ever get tired of talkin' about Williston. Do they talk about their schools-
Rosa Chadwick Handley: No. One uh.. a few years ago had his uh.. 10th- uh.. 10th year reunion at uh.. Laney and he did participate and uh.. he did go and uh.. the other son uh.. said he didn't think that he would go and- and I said well, why not, I can't imagine not goin' to your uh.. school reunion. He said well, you know, I didn't know uh.. that many of those people and some of 'em, you know, it's like they don't really care if they see him again. And to me that's sad because, you know, the feelins are just so different and- and- and so strong eh.. and maybe it's just that generation, (laughs) generation X, but it's not that uh.. attachment to people and to the teachers li- like we had. I mean some of 'em uh.. s- sometimes I'm shoppin' or whatever and I'll run into one of the teachers and they'll ask about 'em and this kind of thing and I tell 'em Miss So and So asked about you. Who? (laughs) You know, it's like they don't even remember, you know. Yeah.
Q: Right right well-- I've got a son also that's in that age group but he doesn't ever say that we should stop talking about Williston 'cause he feels just the opposite because he feels the connection with his graduating class. He graduated from Hanover in '88 and he was saying that he didn't think that they would ever have a reunion and the reunions have really kept Williston going on and on in my opinion-
Rosa Chadwick Handley: Yeah. Yeah. I agree.
Q: Yeah it has-- Also when you talk with some people they talked about Williston also being a social-- I shouldn't say social place but a lot of parents attended the PTA and all that sort of thing where now they don't do that. Did you find that to be true when you were in school, that there was more participation with the parents in schools than there is now?
Rosa Chadwick Handley: I think s- uh.. there was uh.. more participation. I-- Uhm.. Well, who stands out in my mind is Mr. uh.. Bubba McKella.[[ph?] He was like the uh.. president of the PTA almost (laughs) every year and uh.. another person, Miss Avery uh.. Green.[ph?] I mean I can remember them bein' at PTA meetins when nobody else would. My parents wouldn't go all the time but it- it was either one of 'em or the other would probably participate but I see now uhm.. not as much participation unless it's uhm.. a program or unless it's uh.. what we used to call open house. Now those are the times when you'll get parents to the PTA meetins but back then it was like we had to be there 'cause we had to know what was goin' on with our children and it was more of a- uh.. an- an interest on their- on their part I think than there is now.
Q: Going back to your days at Williston, tell us about a typical day.
Rosa Chadwick Handley: Hmm. (laughs) Uh.. I remember uh.. what we call uh.. changing classes back then and that was real special to us 'cause comin' from I think Williston Junior High we didn't change classes. So the fact that, you know, I stayed in one class for an hour and then the bell rang and I'd go to another class and uh.. that was really special to me because in between of course changin' classes you would, you know, see people 'cause we didn't have a- a formal recess like we used to have in the earlier days so you would see other people and also to me eh.. it- it gave you- uh.. uh.. it broke the day up and gave you uh.. variety. And uhm.. I remember the old uh.. Williston auditorium and just loved it when we'd have assemblies 'cause there again you'd get to see, you know, some of the other classes and- and get to- to interact. I was real- uh.. much more active (laughs) in- in high school than I am now uh.. but bein' involved in the- uh.. th- the different activities was- was always fun. Uh.. Again I'm- I'm back to Miss uh.. Burnett because uh.. I think she was involved in the uh.. National Honor side- Society and the Crown and Scepter Club and so we'd always have those honor roll teas which I thought was kinda special because it made us feel special when we got to go in the classroom and have tea which was somethin' different for us anyway uhm.. but a typical day probably would- would involve uh.., you know, goin' to the classes and- and changing classes and gettin' homework and findin' out what was goin' on. I wasn't real social outside of uh.. school. Uh.. After school we came home and did our homework and did our chores. So I didn't do a lot of other activities until the senior- uh.. my senior year and uh.. I did not win but I ran for- for Miss Williston out of our class (laughs) and uh.. I just retired from my job and was asked to bring some older pictures of myself and they did a Power Point presentation and some of those pictures that I took was some of those days at Williston. So it just- it just brought it all back to me and uh.. fondly uh.. and uh.. comparing the pictures (laughs) was fun too (laughs) but a- but a typical day really for me was just- really just- just goin' to class and- uh.. uh.. but I did enjoy the fact that we got to change classes. That was kinda special to me.
Q: Now did you have yearbooks-
Rosa Chadwick Handley: We did. As a matter of fact, I really wonder where my class yearbook is (laughs) but uh.. as we've been attendin' these uh.. different meetings for our class reunion people have been bringin' the yearbook in so that when we talk about people or contact people we could put a visual uh.. with it. Uh.. One of the things that we have on our uh.. web site for our class is a uh.. in memoriam section, we have a special photo section, so every time almost we have uh.. events we have pictures that everybody can access and uh.. so that- that's been kinda special I thought eh.. thing to do, yeah.
Q: Do you feel that attending Williston provided or inspired African American students to believe they were capable of high achievement?
Rosa Chadwick Handley: I do. I think that's one of the uh.. high points in my mind of attending Williston. Uh.. You asked me earlier about notables and uh.. I don't remember a lot of 'em attending. Perhaps they did but we knew about 'em. I mean we knew about the people that uh.. had done well eh.. and I'm kinda diverting a little bit here but I really think the uhm.. Wilmington Journal played a big part in that- in our history because you would pick that Journal up and anything of note or anything of importance in the black community was highlighted. So you wanted to aspire to do somethin' worthwhile because you knew it would be- be recognized and I think it kinda fed into, you know, this is- this is what you do, these are the kinds of things that you do so that you- you can achieve and- uh.. and do well. Uh.. As I said, I work for Dr. Eaton but in my mind Dr. Eaton and Dr. Rone[ph?] and uh.. uh.. attorney Bond uhm.. stood out as positive role models. Also the uh.. first uh.. I think black policeman, Davis, Laverne Davis' father, I can't call his first name, but uh..-
Q: Wasn't it George-
Rosa Chadwick Handley: Yeah, George Davis, that's right. I thought well, you know, that was really special uhm.. that they had achieved. My parents, I probably said this earlier, uhm.. neither of them finished high school and my mother worked as a domestic for 75 cents an hour and my dad worked uh.. for years at Municipal Golf Course but in the earlier years he worked uh.. as a laborer for a company called uh.. Sam Bair[ph?] (laughs) that was downtown. So they worked hard and they- it made a good livin' for us and- and, like I said, I never felt deprived but yet I felt like, you know, if I could finish high school, if I could go to college, then, you know, I could be a professional and- and- and- and of course we all want more for our children than we have for ourselves and they felt the same way and uhm.. though they didn't finish they- they pushed. Well, all of us finished high school and uh.. I was the only one that finished college but- but the other ones got, you know, education of a different kind. So I thought that was- that was pretty special.
Q: What does Williston represent to you? When you hear that word 'Williston'-
Rosa Chadwick Handley: I have s- such a s- sense of pride when I hear the word 'Williston' and I can hardly wait to tell somebody yeah, I graduated from there too, you know, eh.. and that's- that's what it represents to me, that uh.. it was really an institution and I don't want to make it greater than it was but- but in my mind it really is way up there at the top because uh.. it- it- it's such a foundation for us and the- uh.. the c- the caring that went into it. I mean you didn't run up and down the halls, you didn't do things you shouldn't. I mean it was okay for those teachers, any of 'em, whether it was your teacher or not, to grab you and say hey, you don't do this, I know your mother, you know, and I'll tell her and- and then she'll get you and I'll get you too I mean and those things made a difference. And- And we- we had, you know, respect for our elders eh.. and not to put down this generation but to a great- much greater degree than they do now. One of those teachers look at you and you know- you know you'd better straighten up and- and it was important for you to- to- uh.. to be on your best behavior 'cause you did know (laughs) that uh.., you know, you'd- you'd pay the consequences if you didn't 'cause- 'cause they did know your parents and- uh.. and that made a difference.
Q: You said you just retired. Where did you retire?
Rosa Chadwick Handley: Uh.. Yes. Uh.. I worked for (laughs) Employment Security Commission uh.. for 30 years and seven months- seven months. I was not permanent so uh.. that didn't count towards my retirement but uh.. the 30 years certainly did and uh.. it was a really good- good career. I-- Uh.. I mean eh.. I- at my retirement they played the song I've Had the Time of my Life 'cause I asked 'em to because that is really how I feel. I enjoyed the job tremendously. I worked uh.. in unemployment insurance for a while and I did job placement for a while and I did uhm.. job training was my last uh.. job but I think it's a real blessing to have a job where you can give back to somebody and help change- even if you can't change their life if you can change their opinion of themselves sometimes it will cause them to change their own life. So I mean I- uh.. I- I just get caught up uh.. talkin' about it because I remember a guy years ago. We used to give referral cards to people to go on jobs, (clears throat) about this big, (clears throat) and one of these guys when he retired had a box full of those referral cards that he kept because it would come back to you uh.. that this person got hired and he said I wanted to keep these 'cause this re- these represent people whose lives I have changed and- uh.. and it was funny but he said he was serious, he was gonna wallpaper his wall with those referral cards. (laughs) Well, I never did that but I started savin' those too and eh.. I never got a- a box full but it still represented somebody who I felt like I had helped. So uh.. that part, you know, uh.. I know I'll always miss but I'm really happy to be free (laughs) right now.
Q: So now what do you plan to do?
Rosa Chadwick Handley: My answer to that usually- it- it changes every day I think. I- I really plan to do nothin' for a while. I want to take, you know, six months if I'm allowed uh.. or a year to just relax and do some travelin', nothing major, no cruises or anything but just like visit my son that lives in Memphis and uh.. my grandchildren who live here and spend more time with them, spend more time with my husband who's been- uh.. well, he was sick last year but, thank the Lord, he's doin' well now and just some quality time if it's nothin' but goin' to the waterfront or goin' to the beach and just doin' some, you know, relaxing kinds of things but after a while, because I know I'm a really hyper person and I know I'll want to do somethin' else, I- I really feel it's important to- to give back. So maybe at least one day a week I- I really would like to volunteer somewhere. I have a real strong interest in uh.. the American Cancer Society, as I guess we all do, for some personal reasons. The uhm.. statistics on black youth, black males in particular, really frighten me. I have four sons and- and uh.. I think I did a pretty good job with them. I'd like to do somethin' in that area. Uh.. Eh.. So I know I'll probably go back to work (laughs) at least part time somewhere and- uh.. but right now I'm just enjoyin' the thought of not havin' to get up tomorrow (laughs) mornin' and punch a clock.
Q: Now did your husband graduate from Williston also?
Rosa Chadwick Handley: He did not. My husband is from Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and he uhm.. graduated from uh.. uh..-- I can't think of the high school. I think it was the Wolf[ph?] Project High School in Pine Bluff but he was a marine here at Camp Lejeune so that's how we met through a mutual friend of uh.. uh.. uh.. another Willistonian classmate of mine, Rosalyn uh.. Forth.[ph?] Her boyfriend introduced us and uh.. that was in 19 uh.. 69 and uh.. we married in '72 but uh.. we have some fun trips to- to Arkansas. Eh.. Two of my children were born in Arkansas and two of 'em were born here so uh.. we all kinda split up three and three (laughs) uh.. on the rivalries so uh..-- Yeah, but he's from- from Arkansas.
Q: Um do you have any names of other people that you think that we um should interview?
Rosa Chadwick Handley: I certainly do. As a matter of fact, I was gonna uhm.. suggest that and uh.. Millicent uh.. Brown, class of '66, uh.. I'm sorry, Millicent Brown Fauntleroy[ph?] (laughs) is her married name. She's- uh.. is one and also Hattie Moore,[ph?] uh.. Laverne Davis, the one who- uh.. uh.. George Davis' uh.. daughter.
Q: I don't know why I haven't gotten her. She's right out here.
Rosa Chadwick Handley: She's right here and uh..-- Uh huh, that's right, Wittey,[ph?] Laverne Wittey. That's right. She is right out here. And uhm.. uh.. Margie Canty McCrea.[ph?] Oh, Deidre.[ph?] Now Diedre lives in uh.. D.C. but it's Deidre McKella O'Brien,[ph?] the gentleman I was mentioning, uh.. Bubba McKella that was so active in the PTA, that's his- his daughter. Uh.. Have you talked with Florence Moore?[ph?]
Rosa Chadwick Handley: Yeah, okay, uh.. and uh.. Barbara Shannon Lewis.[ph?] She's a Williston alumni, uhm.. very active in the Williston alumni, and Vernice Hamilton.[ph?] Um I think that.
Q: Who were some of the great basketball players that were there during your class or where there any in your class? We've had a lot of people that talked about the sports there at Williston.
Rosa Chadwick Handley: Well, you know, I can't- uh.. right now I can't think of any basketball players. I'm patron[ph?] of Butch McVee.[ph?] He was in my class and he was a football player, Joe Reilly,[ph?] uh.. this gentleman recently deceased, Charles McAllister.[ph?] Oh, uh.. hmm-- I see his face and his name just escaped me. He's a McAllister also. That's what made me think of it but I cannot think of his uh.. first name, Kate McAllister's brother. I cannot remember his uh.. first name but they were all on the uh.. Williston football team at the time. Charles uh.. Tyson[ph?] was basketball I believe. Yeah.
Q: Are these persons still in Wilmington or...
Rosa Chadwick Handley: Uh.. North Carolina but not- not Wilmington. I don't think any of 'em are still in- uhm.. in uh.. (inaudible). I wasn't-- Uh.. Except for the- uh.., you know, the Miss Williston thing, I wasn't very active and I certainly was not active in- uh.. in sports though I'd go to the football games but (laughs) probably not for the sports. (laughs) It must be[ph?] the crowd, the so- the social activity. (laughs) Oh, those games that- uh.. those- those games at uh.. that old football field on 11th Street were just fun times and I remember E.E. Smith bein' uh.. Williston's uh.. big rival from Fayetteville and uh.. I kind of always wanted to be a cheerleader but I was never quite built that way and my mama used to say no, you're not gettin' out there jumpin' up and down with them short skirts on. (laughs) So uh.. I never quite made it but it was- it was always something that uh.. I- I wanted to do. I had a cousin, uh.. Gloria Chadwick, in the class of uh.. '61 I believe or '62 and she was a majorette and that's somethin' else I'd always wanted to do. Well, for the same reason my mama said no, (laughs) you're not doin' that, but uh.. the- the social part was- wa- was fun, what we- what we did get to do-
Q: Now was Tigers Inn there?
Rosa Chadwick Handley: The Tigers Inn was there on 11th Street it seems like my 11th and 12th grade year but I never went to the Tigers Inn- I never went to the Tigers Inn, huh uh.
Q: Was there a reason?
Rosa Chadwick Handley: A lot of uh.. kids would go there after school but we just walked down 10th Street eh.. and went home but I never- I never went to the Tigers Inn. I felt like I led a deprived childhood but I didn't but I did not go to the Tigers Inn, (laughs) I just did not,[ph?] uh huh.
Q: After games a lot of people used to go there after a football game and that was near the Community Hospital.
Rosa Chadwick Handley: It sure was. It was right uh.. yeah, right down that- uh.. that street. I don't remember uhm.. what happened or when that building was- uh.. was torn down. I mean I was just picturin' it but I don't remember what happened to uh.. that old Community Hospital building-
Q: The Community when it was torn down?
Rosa Chadwick Handley: Yeah.
Q: I think it was '72 or so.
Rosa Chadwick Handley: Okay. I think it's good that we've still got the- uh.. part of the James Walker, you know, even though it's just a small part.
Q: There's a community effort right now to put a marker on the side and then a street sign much like what they did at James Walker to mark the Community Hospital.
Rosa Chadwick Handley: That would be a good thing, you know,[ph?] it sure would.
Q: Well can I ask something-
Rosa Chadwick Handley: Certainly.
Q: You had mentioned the loss of Williston was kind of sense of loss of family almost because of the generational saying-- I know we've talked to other people who talked about after they graduated they couldn't wait to go back to Williston and sport their collegiate wear or just be part of that peer situation. I think you said somethin' about your mother attended Williston- Industrial.
Rosa Chadwick Handley: Right.
Q: Was there talk at the dinner table or mother to daughter about her time at Williston?
Rosa Chadwick Handley: Uh.. Not so much at Williston but she would talk about-- Uh.. We were lookin' at some pictures just now comin' in and as soon as uh.. Joyce told me that that was Dr. Burnett on that picture eh.. I immediately said my mama would have known that instantly 'cause I remember her talkin' about his name and his connection with uh.. Dr. Eaton and I think that was Dr. Eaton's wife's father and uh.. talkin' about Dr. Rone and uh.. there was somebody else I was tryin' to call that was a doctor growin' up, just local Wilmington history kinds of things that we would talk about but she did uh.. say that it was called Williston Industrial High School then and, as I said, she- uh.. she didn't graduate but uh.. that's where she uh.. attended but not so much uhm.., you know, the school itself.
Q: It seems like this pride runs throughout families and I didn't know whether you had heard these stories about how Williston was and kinda fostered this pride before you even arrived and I know that the system was graduating from middle school or whatever it was called and then walking across-
Rosa Chadwick Handley: The ramp, that's right- right.
Q: --and then when you arrive you are kind of engrossed into this preset environment-
Rosa Chadwick Handley: Yeah. It was like from Gregory to uh.. Williston Junior High and at the time they used to have a graduation when you were in sixth grade and, you know, you'd dress up in the white uh.. dresses and have an actual graduation, sixth grade, and then went to seventh grade, junior high school, and then, as you say, goin' across that ramp to senior high school. So it was kinda like a rite of passage and you just couldn't wait to make that (laughs) jump across that ramp to get to Williston and I do think it was kind of uh.. not so much from my parents talkin' about Williston but from watchin' everybody else, you know, my cousins that were older, uh.. that history, '61 and '63 and eh.. the- the social clubs and what happened at Williston. It was like I can't wait.
Q: But it seems like the school was much more a part of the culture than it is today. Like you said, the teachers stalked you and "I know your mother" and that's so true. It was like you saw your teachers in church-
Rosa Chadwick Handley: That's right.
Q: --you saw them out shopping and they would stop and talk to your mother. That's why I want to know more about Williston Industrial because I reviewed that one tape talking about the early Williston teachers, part of their job was to home visit and bring that family into the school environment. They don't do that now. I'm hard pressed to name all of my daughters' teachers. So I'm wondering if that breakdown of what's happening in the school now happened because of the breakdown in the school to home environment. I don't even know what school my kids are gonna attend the next year because of the redistricting-
Rosa Chadwick Handley: That's true.
Q: --and this kind of stuff. You were in a time where you knew your whole life this is where you were gonna go and the kids don't have that association now so it's kind of a distancing so very important to get this on tape. Didn't know what else you help us think about, how that home, school, church environment was created. I know you just kind of arrived at it but what is your take on that? How did that happen?
Rosa Chadwick Handley: Uh.. I- I can't quite put my finger on it, maybe how it happened, except that it was I guess kind of a- an accepted-- It- It- It was not just this way for me, see, so it uh.. was this way for- for everybody almost in the community. Uh.., You know, the people that were your neighbors, their parents went to Williston Industrial S- School also and- uh.. and- and everybody just knew and expected that this is- this is what was gonna happen, you weren't gonna- well, until uh.., what was it, '68 when uh.. Williston closed and uh.. that's how my brothers ended up goin' to Hoggard and uh.. to Hanover. And eh.. it always used to be that how can you- why are you- you live here and you walk past uh.. Hanover at the time to get to- to Williston but I always kinda was scared to death that somethin' would happen and I wouldn't go to Williston. So, you know, if- if- if- if- if Williston had closed in '65 say, you know, I would have been real disappointed that I didn't get to graduate from- from Williston but uh..-
Q: I think it's very interesting, the cultural environment at that time 'cause that certainly helped project a sense of pride and the closure that you received from attending that school and not being stuck here, there or everywhere-
Rosa Chadwick Handley: Uhm.. Yeah. Do you rememb- uh.. remember uhm.. Mr. Childs[ph?] who was a truant officer and do they even have truant officers these days? I don't-
Q: If they do they're- not enough.
Rosa Chadwick Handley: That's right exactly.
Q: Bein' in Williston's environment, were you consciously aware of the civil rights coming about like with Brown versus Board in '54 or '55? Was that discussed ever, that things may be changing?
Rosa Chadwick Handley: I have a very vivid memory of uhm.. it must have been on TV that day and let's see,[ph?] that was uh.. 6- between 6- 6 or 7 and my mother and me had gone somewhere, downtown or on the north side of town, and not everybody had a TV but somebody had a TV uh.. when we were on our way back from downtown and it seems to me I remember that we watched this on TV and I remember uhm.. the- uh.. the Little Rock situation and watchin' that on TV and uh.. feelin' uh.. scared really, you know, like, you know, how could this happen, you know, is this gonna happen here and what are we supposed to do when-, you know, how are we supposed to act? So it- it- it- it impacted me really negatively because it was kind of a fear that, you know, somethin' could change where I was. Uh.. The-- Uh.. Was it '65? I think that was the-- Uh.. The uh.. march on Washington? Was that '65? But anyway, uh.. w- it was a time-
Q: Sixty five or '66-
Rosa Chadwick Handley: Sixty six, right, but we uhm..- I remember Floyd McKissick came to uh.. Wilmington and we had a mass meeting at uh.. Saint Luke Church I believe and I remember attending and I remember marching and, as I say, we lived- grew up in Jervey and I remember marching around the- bein' in Jervey at my m- mother's protests, she did not want us to get involved at all and- uh.. but we did end up goin' to that mass meeting and that rally so that was really real to me. Uhm.. My brother was not a part of the Wilmington Ten but he was involved with uh.. our cousin, Cojo Net-[ph?] eh.. uh.. Roger Kirby at the time but he goes by Cojo now and uh.. he and my brother were uh.. very close 'cause we were- we weren't really blood cousins but there was a relationship there with my- his- uh.. his mother and my uncle. And uh.. anyway my brother could have very easily been a part of it because he did uh.. at the time associate a lot with- with Roger eh.. who also associated with- with some of those guys. And that was scary to me because I was scared for my brother, that he might have, you know, gotten involved and- and- and gotten hurt in some way but uhm.. in- in the sense that we did the demonstration and we went to the- the mass meeting, that was as much as I was personally involved uh.. in it. And then I remember I believe that- uh.. at the time of the Wilmington Ten I believe- I think I was livin' in D.C. at the time. It's ha-- Eh.. Eh.. It kinda fades me.
Q: That was '71, '72- '71, '72.
Rosa Chadwick Handley: Okay. Well, I left in '70-- Uh.. I graduated in 1970, yeah, so I was in D.C. I got married in '72 so I was not here durin'- durin'- durin' very much of it.
Q: Did any of this affect all the stuff that's happening affect your entrance into Wilmington College, UNCW, at the time, knowing that the ratio balance was gonna be so different?
Rosa Chadwick Handley: Well, it did because uhm.., you know, I wanted to go to college and of course I'd heard all the stories of, you know, the good times and whatever and I thought well, I want to go away to school. This was like goin' to high school somewhere else and so I was re- resistant at first but, you know, my parents made it clear, you know, if I wanted to g- to go to school this was where it would have to be and so I did uh.., you know, come to accept it but most of the years at UNCW were not bad but it was really those uh.. initial years because that was in 1960 uh.. 6 when I came. It wasn't- uh.. not even a part of the university at the time and it was much smaller. There were three buildings uhm.. and the other two or three uh.. friends of mine, as I said, that they uh.. drove me uh.. to school and sometimes I- I caught the bus but it was just those incidents in the- in the dance classes because that was a social thing and so the-, you know, the guys didn't want to- want to dance with us. And also, as I said, to some degree, as I said, it might have been our fault because we would- we chose to go sit in the cars and we chose that because we didn't feel comfortable sittin' in the- in the pub but then as the years uh.. went on and there were more blacks comin' to UNCW it got to be different and then we got involved in things. I don't think they ever had a sorority while I was uh.. here uh.. but we g- we got more involved in the school and of course uh.. surprisingly every year homecoming they had black entertainment and that really always surprised us. I remember so well Jerry Butler comin' to town and uh.. for our homecomin' and that was just really special. So that was (laughs) the year that was a real treat for me 'cause I particularly liked Jerry Butler but uh..-- So all of it, you know, wasn't bad and I don't feel that uh.. other than those two incidents nothin' really else stands out in my mind. It's kind of a thing that uh.. I guess we just ex- accepted it, accepted our role and went on and- and got an education and now that I look back on it uh.., you know, I'm- I'm glad that I- that I went to school here because otherwise I probably would not have gotten a- a four year degree so it was a positive experience.
Q: We have maybe seven or eight minutes left-- Is there anything else you would like to- that we didn't ask you about? Well I don't know is there anything else you would like to answer that we didn't ask you?
Rosa Chadwick Handley: I'm tryin' to think. Uhm.. Eh.. It-- It's-- When uh.., you know, I was a- approached by this it was like oh, yeah, I'd love to talk about Williston 'cause it really is uhm.. such a part of my- my life and- and- and still to uh.. a very strong degree it is and when we get together and uh.. we reminisce and- and talk about the- the days at Williston, you know, for the most part they were really good days. And I think it's really important and I think especially that you all are makin' the effort to- uh.. to capture this uh.. history 'cause it really is, it's- uh.. it's- it's a living history for most of us and uh.. to be able to share in that uh.. is really special and I can't wait to tell the- uh.. the group about uh.. what took place here because they may have some- uh.. some insights or some stories to share that- uh.. that I don't so-
Q: That would be great.
Rosa Chadwick Handley: Yeah. I'd be happy to do that and uh.. I will be, you know, passin' it on and so uh.. I thank you for the- for the chance to talk about one of my favorite subjects. (laughs)
Q: And I thank you for coming in today.
Rosa Chadwick Handley: You're certainly welcome.
Q: It's been great.
Rosa Chadwick Handley: You both are so warm and welcoming. It's been- been a pleasure. I hardly didn't remember that that red little button was lookin' at me. (laughs) Okay.