Documenting the American South Logo
oral histories of the American South
Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Sam Crawford, October 26, 1985. Interview K-0006. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Views on land development as exploitation, rather than utilization

Crawford discusses how OWASA intimidated his family into selling off a portion of their land for the Cane Creek Reservoir project. In describing the process, Crawford addresses the nature of land development and his opposition to the means by which it was being accomplished. At the heart of the matter for Crawford is the distinction between utilization and exploitation. Crawford and the interviewer are walking outside, surveying the land, during this portion of the interview.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Sam Crawford, October 26, 1985. Interview K-0006. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

JUDITH WHEELER:
So, this area was bought from your family by OWASA?
SAM CRAWFORD:
Oh … Well, it was intimidated out of …
JUDITH WHEELER:
It was intimidated?
SAM CRAWFORD:
I mean, when you spend nine years - and just … and my father is right in the middle of the stuff with my mother all summer [dying of cancer] … and is just losing it … and my father just didn't want to deal with it anymore.
JUDITH WHEELER:
I can certainly understand.
SAM CRAWFORD:
I can't exactly and I can. It has never been a totally comfortable conclusion in terms of the family. It has always been somewhat uncomfortable but that was the resolution. This is also our property here - and the other side. They split our property in two peices.
JUDITH WHEELER:
How much land did they take from your family?
SAM CRAWFORD:
Fifty acres.
JUDITH WHEELER:
Fifty acres from your family.
SAM CRAWFORD:
Fifty acres… This is a temporary endowment. This is what the rates are going up 21% in Chapel Hill - and this is about one fourth of, maybe a fifth of what the cost was. This is what cracks me up. See that red marker. THat is where our property line starts and begins back that way. [Sound quality poor- break in transcription. There is a map up in Hillsboro in the Registrar of the Deeds Office a 1789 map that calls this Crawford's mountain. [Discussion of family history]
SAM CRAWFORD:
It really pisses me off to come down here - this used to be a field. This was our biggest field. It was smaller than this and there was all woods in here. And, it is weird to talk about it. There was this georgous little wild marsh land. Down in here were these great big beautiful plants, big trees way up into here. The field, fifteen acres down there with a big line of trees all the way across there, big sycamores. It was this beautiful private secluded field. And you could come down here and be by yourself. Now there are all these people here that I don't know. And you can walk down here and you can see houses. I have never in my life been able to see houses here; never in any of my relatives' lives could they ever be able to stand here and see houses. Suddenly, you can see houses, I just find that…I don't know why it bothers me; but it does. It does. It is just a change I don't welcome. Not that there is anything intrinsically wrong with these people. Who owns that house is Dr Mickey [sp?] But the reason he bought this house was so that he could change the world, because he wanted to have it near the lake. So in a sense, his concept of having this place was to make it different, rather than to try and integrate himself here. His concept was to make this place for his use. And I think that is what bothers me about it, is that it is sorta rude. The whole issue is that there is no sense of coming to know this place, and then saying, "What are the needs of this place and how can we use it?" That is the difference between exploitation and utilization. But the concept is how can we change it to do exactly what we want it to do?
JUDITH WHEELER:
The water does look impressively clean.
SAM CRAWFORD:
Well, it is clean, there is no doubt about it, it is clean water. But, I don't know that that is the reason to do any particular thing here.
JUDITH WHEELER:
I agree with you.
SAM CRAWFORD:
And it is certainly no reason to do it this way. That argues nothing for the fact that you should destroy it. What has made and kept this clean water is the thing that may destroy it. which is all these open fields and forest land.