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Title: Oral History Interview with Bobby Kirk, October 28, 1985. Interview K-0013. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Electronic Edition.
Author: Kirk, Bobby, interviewee
Interview conducted by Campbell, Karl E.
Funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this interview.
Text encoded by Kristin Shaffer
Sound recordings digitized by Aaron Smithers Southern Folklife Collection
First edition, 2004
Size of electronic edition: 88 Kb
Publisher: The University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
2004.
© This work is the property of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It may be used freely by individuals for research, teaching and personal use as long as this statement of availability is included in the text.
The electronic edition is a part of the UNC-Chapel Hill digital library, Documenting the American South.
Languages used in the text: English
Revision history:
2008-00-00, Wanda Gunther and Kristin Martin revised TEIHeader and created catalog record for the electronic edition.
2008-12-08, Kristin Shaffer finished TEI-conformant encoding and final proofing.
Source(s):
Title of recording: Oral History Interview with Bobby Kirk, October 28, 1985. Interview K-0013. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series K. Southern Communities. Southern Oral History Program Collection (K-0013)
Author: Karl E. Campbell
Title of transcript: Oral History Interview with Bobby Kirk, October 28, 1985. Interview K-0013. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series K. Southern Communities. Southern Oral History Program Collection (K-0013)
Author: Bobby Kirk
Description: 125 Mb
Description: 26 p.
Note: Interview conducted on October 28, 1985, by Karl E. Campbell; recorded in North Carolina.
Note: Transcribed by Unknown.
Note: Forms part of: Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Series K. Southern Communities, Manuscripts Department, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Note: Original transcript on deposit at the Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
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Interview with Bobby Kirk, October 28, 1985.
Interview K-0013. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Kirk, Bobby, interviewee


Interview Participants

    BOBBY KIRK, interviewee
    KARL E. CAMPBELL, interviewer

[TAPE 1, SIDE A]


Page 1
[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]
(The transcript begins after a brief discussion of the history of the Kirk family. Tape # 25.)
KARL E. CAMPBELL:
And so then you are going to stay in it [farming] along with your cousin?
BOBBY KIRK:
Well, I guess we will. A lot of times now, farming is real tough right now, and you got to be lucky that you been in it a long while. The ones that've been in it a long while are the ones that are going to survive. The ones that got into farming the last few years, there is no way that they are going to survive the crisis that farming, agriculture, is facing right now.
KARL E. CAMPBELL:
Why do you think that is?
BOBBY KIRK:
Well, it's just so many different things. political pressures, and the economy right now, the agricultural economy right now is so bad. (Michael, the three year old, interrupts. He will be present for most of the interview.) Anyway, it's just tough making a living you know. The sad part of it is, most farmers don't have to farm. I mean, you live a pretty tough life to make a living, and you work hard for what you have. The thing of it is, if you want to just sell your land, your equipment and everything, you could live very nicely. Where you keep everything that is important to you, you have to really hustle to make things go.
Especially right now, it's tight right now. I feel sorry

Page 2
for a lot of young guys, and other people too, that are trying to make a go at farming. Because it is important that those kind of people, and a lot of them are really good managers, but it's just things that they don't have any control over knocking them back.
You know farmers are the biggest gamblers in the world. They put 30 to 40 thousand dollars into a crop, and if mother nature doesn't cooperate, you don't make any money, you loose it. And then you borrow money next year to put in a crop, and you have another bad year, and you have to start borrowing money to put your crops in. In other words, your crop doesn't pay for putting in a crop next year and make a living with it. If you get in debt more than what your assets are worth then you're in real bad trouble then.
KARL E. CAMPBELL:
That's really true. So you think that farmers now are staying in farming for more than just the profit of it?
BOBBY KIRK:
Well, if you are not making a profit in it, naturally you're not going to stay in it because you can't. But there are more things than just a profit.
What gets me is everybody keeps talking about, well we are just going to have corporate farms. Well, a lot of those are the ones going out of business. I mean, they just can't do it. You can't take a man and put him out and pay him to work eight-hour days and farm. That just does not work. You just can't do it. Russia is a good example of that. If you don't have any initiative to farm, then you're not going

Page 3
to make a go at it, you're not going to do anything. You're not going to do good at it. Farming is different from a lot of trade industries and stuff, say the automobile industry or something, you go there and work eight hours and come home, on an assembly line whatever. You got to put a lot more into it to get a good crop or do a good job with it.
(He goes on to discuss family corporate farms, taxes, food prices being too low,, regional specialization, and the free market. This transcript skips to his discussion of dairy farming. Tape # 121)
KARL E. CAMPBELL:
What about the problems of dairy farmers? I guess that just recently the Milk Commission has been ruled against. How do you think that's going to affect dairy farming?
BOBBY KIRK:
Well, it could be good in one sense. Right now dairy farmers, there again, are producing more milk than is being used. It may be our own fault in that we are not marketing it good enough. The American people are not using as much dairy products now. And you look at the soft drink consumption, its gone up I don't know how many, I seen figures the other day, four, five, six hundred percent in twenty five years. Milk has come down some. But you look at promotions you know. Every other minute on TV you see a soft drink ad. And it's presented in a way to be appealing. So I don't know.
But in the Southeast; me personally, I'd like to see the

Page 4
government do away with the price support system all together. The reason is, there are dairy co-ops in the country that buy milk for one reason, to sell it to the government. I realize that would put a lot of dairy farmers out of business if they done that cause they are selling milk to that program, that's where it is being sold. But I don't think it's right, I think they ought to be marketed, and I'd just like to see . . . . You see the Southeast, we are ten percent deficient in production to what we use. We are producing about ten percent less than what we use in the Southeast. And it would raise prices down here.
As far as the Milk Commission, what happened there, I think, was that some of the bigger co-ops, which our farm is a member of, I think its a power struggle. I think they are trying to put some of these smaller ones, possibly trying to gain a little better control of the market place, I think. But there again, they transfer a lot of milk from one state to another, and I can see the reason on that too because of the price coming from here to this state they are having to pay different. It's costing them a lot of money. But, also I think it's probably going to put enough farmers out of business that it is going to make a difference.
KARL E. CAMPBELL:
For the better you mean?
BOBBY KIRK:
Yeah.
KARL E. CAMPBELL:
You sell to, is it Dairymen?
BOBBY KIRK:
Yeah, we sell to Flav-O-Rich. inc.

Page 5
KARL E. CAMPBELL:
I think they are one of the biggest in the state.
BOBBY KIRK:
Well, they are maybe the third biggest in the country, something like that. They started a new pricing, the Sunbelt some thing or another, and they were trying to get 90 percent all of the dairy farms in each state signed up. And it's a regional pricing order, this group here. And they say it will raise the price of milk a dollar a hundred, which is a lot. And there are a lot of states that are in it, but a lot of smaller co-ops are afraid of it. You know I haven't made any judgement on it. But it sounds good if it is not costing you nothing, if it is not costing you anything, and if it's not dictating anything about the way you govern your own co-op or anything like that, its just getting you a dollar more for your milk, it sounds good.
KARL E. CAMPBELL:
It might hurt the smaller farmers though, like you say.
BOBBY KIRK:
Well, if it gives them a dollar more a hundred you know, that's putting a dollar more a hundred in their pocketbook, that's going to help them.
KARL E. CAMPBELL:
Well, that's right.
BOBBY KIRK:
But, I don't know. But, the Milk Commission may be on the way out. I've always said if it seems like the Milk Commission folds up then it's going to be hard times for farmers, but I don't know.
(The transcript skips over some information on the changes in dairy farm practices to the history of dairy co-ops. Tape # 387.)

Page 6
KARL E. CAMPBELL:
One other question—I'm trying to get my farm procedures straight. Back to the co-op, when did this farm first start selling into Dairymen, did they have a different co-op earlier?
BOBBY KIRK:
Yeah, dairy farmers in this area got together years ago, and formed Long Meadows Farms. And that was a dairy co-op, and it was based in Durham, and that was one of the most pleasant memories I had as a kid. Every, I believe it was in August, we had a big supper down there, and all the dairy farmers, you know, they quit early, milked early so they could go down there. The dairies put on a big spread for 'em you know. And of course all the dairy kids, you know, all the kids got to get together, and just got to have a good time. It was something that everybody looked forward to.
And I remember the night that it was brought up of selling Long Meadows, selling out to Dairymen Inc. and boy, you know, it was a hell raising, you know, thing because didn't anybody like it. But the way the market place had become you didn't have a choice. It was either get in, or get out. Cause they were, you know, they were so big that they could sell milk at the same price and give a two dollar rebate. And, so, I remember that night real well when it was first brought up. It was just such a tradition that everybody hated to see it change, as much as the tradition part of it as anything else.

Page 7
KARL E. CAMPBELL:
Can you put a date on that for me? Remember when it was, about?
BOBBY KIRK:
No, but we been with Flav-O-[Rich}, we been with D.I., Flav-O-Rich for, um, ten or twelve years at least, I can't remember.
KARL E. CAMPBELL:
So you must have been in high school when that happened or. . . ?
BOBBY KIRK:
Yeah, I'm sure I was, yeah, I think I was in high school. It was, we were with Dairymen before I went to State. So it was sometime probably early high school when that happened.
KARL E. CAMPBELL:
What's your goal for the farm now, looking at the future? What, what do you want to do with the farm to make it successful?
BOBBY KIRK:
Well, that's, I don't know, that's a pretty hard question. I'm looking at two or three different things right now. The way our farm is now . . . my cousin and I are both—well I've got two cousins back there, Kenny and I are the same age. We've been back on the farm, you know, since we got out of school in 73. And, we're, you know, we're wantin' more than what we've got now. We're basically just a hired hand really, and, you know, we've got more initiative and drive than, than our fathers have. You know, they've got it made. They don't have any house payments or anything like that. (laughter) And, so you know, its looking at different things. Right now I'm thinking about leasing a neighbor's

Page 8
farm and, going on my own. I'm kicking it around and I'll probably make a decision this week I guess.
But, you know our fathers, we got a situation on our farm now, and its hard, its on every farm, is how do you get the farm down to the next generation? Our fathers don't want to quit, and I don't want them to quit, you know they've been doing this all their life, and I don't think they ought to up and quit, because uh, . . .
But there again, I hope when I get to be forty five or fifty, if I can—and my son wants it—I hope I can turn it over to him in a way that I can still be involved in it. You know if I want to go off for a week and go bird hunting in Mexico or somewhere, if I'm able to do it financially, I'd like to be able to do it. Or if I could go back down here in the woods and go squirrel huntin' you know, when they're busy combining corn. You know I'd like to be able to do that.
But, you know we're facing that situation here, and it's on every farm it's one of the hardest things to do, and, it's, . . . it's tough you know. I've got a neighbor that's got kids that are not interested in the farm whatso-ever, and he's in bad health, and he's wanting to get out. And, I'm thinking really seriously about, leasing his farm and buying his cows. He's made me a, you know, a pretty good offer, and . . . .
KARL E. CAMPBELL:
Would that be a thing that would lock you in for the future?
BOBBY KIRK:
Well, yeah, on one hand it would, but I'm still involved

Page 9
here you know.
KARL E. CAMPBELL:
Right, so you would be . . .
BOBBY KIRK:
Yeah, we, . . . I don't know.
KARL E. CAMPBELL:
Well, if you had this farm, or if you could get control, what would you do with the farm?
BOBBY KIRK:
Well, you know, there are a lot of management practices I would change. I'm lookin' at everything a little more, I don't know. I'm sort of a perfectionist in a way and when I do something I like for it to be done right, and if somebody is doing something for me I expect for them to do it right. But, you know, I like to work hard and get through with it so I can play. That's just the way I am, and that's the way you've got to be farming, cause the weather and everything. If your crops ready you got to get it you know.
And when I farm, the things I would like to see: I think we need to group our cows, and by grouping I mean group them according to production. Where you can feed 'em different. On our farm now, we're just, we're just feeding them what they eat and we really don't know how much they are getting you know. A lot of cows that are not giving as much milk are eating more than the cows that need it, you know, are giving 120 pounds a day. I'd like to group the cows. Our herd average right now is a little over 1600lbs. I don't see no reason why we couldn't produce 2000 to 2100 pounds as a herd average in two or three years.
KARL E. CAMPBELL:
Now, you're talking to a city boy—that means increase the

Page 10
number of cows?
BOBBY KIRK:
No, that's increasing the number of pounds per cow.
KARL E. CAMPBELL:
I see. Would you increase size of herd too?
BOBBY KIRK:
No maybe we would cut back.
KARL E. CAMPBELL:
More efficient then?
BOBBY KIRK:
Well, right, and there it goes right back to what is more important to you, spending all your time over there or spending some at home. I think we could be more efficient, and it would really be less work on us if we did some different things.
One thing I would be planning a dairy set up in stages that I could go to, leaving my old buildings and everything. We've outgrown—we've got too many cows in one place there now. We've got, plenty of stalls and stuff like that, but we've just got too many cows in one spot. You know, its hard.
One big thing I'd do is, I would probably milk three times a day, and I would have somebody else doing the milking! (laughter) I'd hire somebody to do the milking. That's a lot of pressure trying to keep up with the business part of everything, doing the field work and looking after everything and having to do all the milking yourself and to do all that too, its just too stressful. And, uh . . .
KARL E. CAMPBELL:
If your son was older could he do all that for you?
BOBBY KIRK:
Well, he probably wouldn't want to. (laughter) That's one thing I hope too. When I was growing up I had to work on

Page 11
the farm. I didn't have any choice. And, you know, I was always involved in athletics and stuff, and football, and baseball, and basketball, and, you know. I just, every spare minute I could find I was doing it, and I didn't get to play high school ball, or I would of, I'd of liked to play college ball too if I could, but I, I had to work on the farm. And I hope that if he wants to do that he can, and then work on the farm when he wants to. I think being a kid on a farm is great, and I think you need to have some responsibilities and take care of it, but I don't think that should be the total thing. And, I mean I had a good time doing different things, but I didn't get to do some of the things, I look back on it now, that I wish I could have. But you know, I wouldn't have traded it away, I wouldn't have traded it for anything—the different memories and everything.
But, the goals I set will be pretty high as far as the farm itself. I see a lot of things that I would like to do, we are doing a lot of the good things but there are a lot of little things that we can do to make things better. And there again I don't think bigger is better.
KARL E. CAMPBELL:
Well, let me ask you a little about the community around here.
BOBBY KIRK:
Ok.
KARL E. CAMPBELL:
How has it changed, before the controversy? Has it been about the same as it has been for a long time or do you see changes. . . ?
BOBBY KIRK:
Before the controversy?

Page 12
KARL E. CAMPBELL:
Yeah, before the controversy, just as you were growing up. Was farm life different than it was before?
BOBBY KIRK:
Before the controversy do you mean?
KARL E. CAMPBELL:
Yeah, I mean, let's say from the 1970s, to the 1960s, to the 1930s.
BOBBY KIRK:
Well its still, this community has always been really close. Its—we got another racket box a coming up in there now. (laughter—referring to the one-week old baby crying) People have always, when a neighbor needed help, they've always been there: leaving their work at home to helping them. You know, I know just a bunch of different times a barn a burnt up or a silo to fall, or different things; everybody just quit and gone to get them straightened out. Everybody has been real, you know, just really close in a community. And, there's been a lot of competition in the community, different things, but, you know people always, they care about each other. That's a good thing. Today we've had a lot of new people move in. Well, we have for the last fifty years. There are more moving in today. But, its . . . (Michael, the three year old, rejoins us and interrupts) It hasn't really changed in the one sense. But, there again it goes back, everybody is still a little more rushed today it seems like, and they don't take the time to do some of the things we used to do, you know, get-togethers and things.
KARL E. CAMPBELL:
What about the new people coming in? Is that a problem?

Page 13
BOBBY KIRK:
Well, sometimes it is, and sometimes it isn't. You know, there have been a lot of people who have come in and just, you know, fit right in, and tried to be a part of the community. You know its different living around a dairy farm. You know you've got smelly cows, and cows getting out sometimes, and tractors going up and down the road slow and you want to get to town really fast and you have to drive behind a combine for two miles you know. You know, its different, and people; but most of the ones that live out here, you know, that's why they're here. They like it because they're in the country. So, I can just think of a few instances where I wish they'd leave, but not very many.
KARL E. CAMPBELL:
Give me one example, without, . . .
BOBBY KIRK:
Well, we were spreading manure last year and naturally going in and out of a field you're going to leave a little bit on the road. I mean not enough to hurt anything, but we kept—this one guy kept giving us a hassle, you know, kept calling the law and everything, and complaining about the odor. You know there's not a whole lot we could do.
KARL E. CAMPBELL:
You mean you guys hav'nt found a way to make manure not smell bad?
BOBBY KIRK:
Well, not really. (laughter) But what affected that day was, it started sprinkling rain, and we had about ten more loads and we would have been through. And we were trying to get through and it started a sprinkling rain and made it look worse than what it was. And he probably washed his car

Page 14
that day, I guess, or maybe his boss got on him at work or something. (laughter)
KARL E. CAMPBELL:
Well, I could talk a lot more about farming. Let me turn to the controversy a little bit. When did you first hear about the reservoir?
BOBBY KIRK:
Well, when I was going to school at State, I knew they had a hearing down there to upgrade Cane Creek from class something or another to class A-2. And all the dairy farmers around here went down there, and Bob Scott was a dairy farmer—he was a governor at that time—and they went before the environmental Management Commission, and, you know, they raised a big ruckus about it. And the guys down there said, “Well, we're going to go ahead and upgrade it and you can have your day in court.”
KARL E. CAMPBELL:
Now, what does upgrading mean?
BOBBY KIRK:
Well, its, well its real funny you know. The whole thing is, is political, it doesn't mean anything, really. I mean the Haw River is I don't know what. They grade it according to water quality. And the Haw River is rated C or B or something. But there is a section where Pittsboro gets their water out of the Haw that is A-2, which means its good enough for a water supply. So what's the difference, you know?
KARL E. CAMPBELL:
So when they upgraded it that was the first signal that—
BOBBY KIRK:
That was the first signal, you know, that they were looking at the water, which we really didn't know anything was going on, nobody told us.

Page 15
Well there was a meeting, it was in 1976—it was during when the World Series was going on—on Wednesday night, we had a meeting at the community building over there . . .
KARL E. CAMPBELL:
There we go.
BOBBY KIRK:
Well, it was during the world series, it was—I remember Cincinnati was playing somebody. (interruption by child—many more to follow) And anyway, they started the meeting out, “Well, we sure are glad everybody is here tonight and glad you're here coming out, supporting us in the building of the lake.” And, he kept saying how happy he was that everybody was there, you know, in favor of the lake and everything. Finally a guy just got up and said, “Now wait a minute. I think y'all are misunderstanding, mistaking; there is not anybody here in favor of the lake.” And then it broke loose you know. They, the head had just introduced a surveyor, and one guy said, “Yeah, we want to get a real good look at him so we'll know who to shoot.”
KARL E. CAMPBELL:
(Laughs)
BOBBY KIRK:
I mean they were serious you know. I'll be honest with you, if this had happened back when my father was a kid, and my grandfather and several of the ones coming up, that lake would never have been built.
Of course we were more or less sold out on it anyway, on this one. It wouldn't have been built now if Stanfords—if Stanfords wouldn't have sold out that lake would never have

Page 16
been built. And I'm not saying he shouldn't have sold out, because it was an offer you know, he couldn't refuse what he got—I don't blame him really. But there again, you know, you're talking about community and all that. But he was in a different situation than any other farmer around here. But if he hadn't of had to sold out, or, sold out, that lake would never of had been built. If he hadn't of wanted it, any, you know, not wanted as worst as the rest of us, it never would have been built now.
But back when my grandfather was alive, back, if, back years ago, force would have kept them from building the lake—they never would have built it. I guarantee that. And there again, if I lived in Chapel Hill I'd be afraid to drink the water out of that lake today.
KARL E. CAMPBELL:
You still think its—
BOBBY KIRK:
Yes Sir. I wouldn't drink the water out of that lake. I've heard too many things, you know. And people, there are people who are hostile. There are people who are out here now—and myself included, I mean I don't have any use whatever for the Chapel Hill officials, Everett Billingsley; you know, I despise him. I think he's sorry as the dirt that won't grow anything. He is a liar. They haven't been straight with anything they've done; they haven't given anyone a straight answer. They have lied about everything they have said. The very idea of pumping 10 million gallons of water a day through a pipeline and dumping it into a little old

Page 17
stream that is not equipped to take care of that much by mother nature, and running it into their lake.
(interruption by child)
And its crazy, the siltation rate in University lake, taking consideration of when the lake was built, their lake is about 75 percent full of silt. They don't have the water in their lake that they are letting people know. They don't have the water capacity that they are making out they have. There is probably 80 percent of their water going over the dam.
But back to the whole thing, everything that's been presented to the people of Cane Creek has been a lie. There has never been a straight answer given. When they first started having the hearings and we got organized, we got them to have a task force. Let's meet and discuss it. They lied about everything they said in the task force. They didn't care. They said, “Well, we'll just move the farms somewhere else.” That was their attitude. And we've got a county commissioner, I don't mind naming him, Don Willhoit (spelling?), He said, “Well, that shouldn't be too much trouble, if there is a farm in trouble there, we will move it somewhere else.” And you know, that is a “good” attitude I think.
And they have never, one time, cared enough to come out and really listen to why anybody, why we as a community, don't want it. And I don't have any use for them, I don't mind telling anybody about it. I don't care for them.

Page 18
Shirley Marshall is another one. The night we met, the first time we met, after that meeting, we met at Ed Johnson's house.
(pause)
KARL E. CAMPBELL:
How did that meeting—who called that meeting?
BOBBY KIRK:
Well, that night I got up, we all were asking questions, and I remember I asked them, “Well what about an environmental impact statement?” And they said “We don't have to do one.” And I said “Well, I'm going home to watch the ball game, I said I don't care anything about what you all got to say and I think you know how we feel.” And I said, “Why don't we as a group, if we want to meet, lets meet with ourselves and discuss this and see how we feel.” And we agreed right then to meet the following Wednesday night.
KARL E. CAMPBELL:
Who was at that meeting, a lot of people?
BOBBY KIRK:
The next meeting? Oh yeah, there was as many people as there was to start with. That is when we organized. But we had a meeting before that meeting at Ed Johnson's house with just a few of us and a few of them. And Shirley Marshall that day told us, she read the contract from the University, “OWASA will build Cane Creek, regardless of any other alternatives that may be better.” And if you find a document of that you can read it in there. So Orange Water and Sewer Authority, Everett Billingsly, they are just a puppet on a string.
KARL E. CAMPBELL:
Who is the puppet master?
BOBBY KIRK:
The University.

Page 19
KARL E. CAMPBELL:
I've heard that before.
BOBBY KIRK:
Well its true, (laughter), its written, you can read it, anybody that wants to see it can see it. The University is behind the whole thing. They told it right in the contract that it had to be built. And there are a lot of different rumors as to why that was so. A lot of people believe politics was involved in it, which could be so. So I don't know. But its, you know, you have people who keep stepping on you, you get tired of it.
KARL E. CAMPBELL:
Tell me about that meeting at Ed Johnson's.
BOBBY KIRK:
Well, the meeting at Ed Johnson's, well you know. we were meeting and trying to find out where they were headed and different things, and just seeing if we could get a dialogue started between us. And Shirley Marshall told me at that meeting, she is a county commissioner now, and this is in 1976, she says “Bobby, I've got to tell you, I feel sorry that you went to school and studied agriculture. There will be no agriculture in Orange county in ten years. You won't have a job.” And I said, “Well I'll tell you what, you can go to hell. I'm going home.” And I left.
So that was the attitude we were facing, and I had heard it for an hour. And then after she said that, I said, well I'm not going to miss anything and (inaudible, child interrupts, and sits on Bobby Kirk's lap for the remainder of the interview), and I just went on home.
KARL E. CAMPBELL:
And then when was the Cane Creek Conservation Authority

Page 20
formed?
BOBBY KIRK:
It was formed that following Wednesday night, after that first meeting. Its approximately nine years old this month, right about now.
KARL E. CAMPBELL:
So there was the meeting, and then the small meeting in which she told you that, and then . . . .
BOBBY KIRK:
Flow Garret was there, and Shirley Marshall, . . .
KARL E. CAMPBELL:
Who were some of the Cane Creek people there?
BOBBY KIRK:
Thomas Teer, Ed Johnson, and Cecil Crawford.
KARL E. CAMPBELL:
And then these are the core of people that formed the Cane Creek Conservation Authority?
BOBBY KIRK:
Well, yes and no. There were more people that helped from it. There were a lot of people involved in it.
KARL E. CAMPBELL:
Who really was the organizer back then? I know that you were the first President.
BOBBY KIRK:
Yeah, well, I reckon I more or less got it all organized. When everybody said they wanted to do something, I just drew up some forms that I thought we ought to do. And they elected me president and we had a vice president, secretary, and treasurer. And we started about eight or ten different committees: agricultural committee, and, lets see what were all the others, public relations committee, historical committee. We were trying to put together all the facts about everything we could find to present in a way that we could show them that there was something here that was important enough for them not to mess with it. Which, you know, they

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didn't care about that. (child interrupts)
KARL E. CAMPBELL:
So that was right off the bat, right away you wanted people to see that . . . .
BOBBY KIRK:
Yeah.
KARL E. CAMPBELL:
It was a PR thing here.
BOBBY KIRK:
Yeah. And I believe this today, that we could get our group really back going strong, and put enough out to the public of what was out here—shown to the public say five years ago—for the next six months, take a vote on whether the lake should be built out here, and by a landslide it would be voted not to be built. I am firmly convinced of that.
KARL E. CAMPBELL:
Are you thinking of doing it?
BOBBY KIRK:
Well, you know, if they would agree to putting it up to a vote. But you see, here is a group that is not even elected, that is not even elected, that is building a lake out here in a community that does not want it. So, you know, it sounds a little like communism to me, I don't know. I think it is bad enough when a government can come in and take your land, and it's been in a family and build a road on or whatever, who's to say (what progress is.) (?)—
inaudible
KARL E. CAMPBELL:
Tell me a little about what is was like being president. What was the biggest problem you faced?
BOBBY KIRK:
Well, I would not want to go through it again. You know, trying to work all day and keep up with that. We had just gotten married in May. It was hectic. It was worse on her than it was on me. Trying to keep everything—trying to get

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everything together, keep it in the press. You know you had everybody with different ideas, and you wanted to keep everything and everybody motivated, and everybody together instead of working against each other to mesh together. Which worked out real good, and really I ended up burning out. I mean I had to just tell them that I couldn't do it any more.
KARL E. CAMPBELL:
How long were you president?
BOBBY KIRK:
I don't even remember. Two or three years.
KARL E. CAMPBELL:
Who followed you?
BOBBY KIRK:
Mike Teer. Of course we decided that (child interrupts) that it would be more important for somebody that was going to have a lot of their land taken to be president. At that time that it was starting to get really down to it, going to court and stuff, and at the same time I felt I had put just too much in it. (child interrupts) So Mike was elected president, and I helped do anything I could but I just had to slow up some. You know the farm was keeping me busy and family and everything, and I was getting to want to build a house and (child interrupts) and I just had so many things going on. Plus you know I just wanted to have a life of my own and this just totally consumed me. So that is one reason I have a lot of bad taste for who I was dealing with. I have seen a lot of things. I had people call me up, offer me bribes not to be as involved in it as I was because I was so outspoken.

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KARL E. CAMPBELL:
No kidding?
BOBBY KIRK:
Wanting me to come out in favor of it you know. Believe it or not I did.
KARL E. CAMPBELL:
Do you think that the controversy is over now? Do you think they are going to build the reservoir?
BOBBY KIRK:
I don't know, of course they have a small lake built down there now. You hear a lot of different things. One guy told me they couldn't find a good course on it. Of course the pylons down here where they drove for the dam they've got for the small lake; the first big rain after they put them up washed them over. They couldn't find a good core down there, they had to bring dirt in from another place to put it in. So I wouldn't even feel safe about that dam they built.
It's not a well built dam. The engineers they hired are supposedly one of the top engineering firms in the country, but you can just eat them up. Someone who doesn't know a lot about engineering can take their figures and their facts and stuff, and tear them all to pieces. We done that in court.
In our hearings, when we first started having hearings down there, I don't know it seemed that they went on for several days, and when the Environmental Management Commission, they send off groups of three to hear these different controversial things, which is the first time they have had anything like this. And the recommendation from that group goes back

Page 24
to the big group, and they vote on it. And the first time in the Environmental Management Commissions's history, the three who heard our controversy they voted in majority against building the dam on Cane Creek. They presented that to the Environmental Management Commission in Raleigh, everybody was down there, the different sides, the lawyers got to present additional comments. And the Environmental Management Commission went to executive session for the first time in its history to vote on something like that. The first time they voted—this is what I heard—they voted not to build the lake by one vote. The attorney General asked them to vote again, it was tied. They voted a third time, and the third time they voted against us.
KARL E. CAMPBELL:
Where is the pressure coming from?
BOBBY KIRK:
Well, the University is a strong, strong group.
KARL E. CAMPBELL:
And why wouldn't they just want to go to the Jordan?
BOBBY KIRK:
That's a good question. The thing of it is, well they are going to go to the Jordan. They have asked for 25 million gallons a day from the Jordan. Chapel Hill will get water from the Jordan reservoir there is no doubt about it. They will. The thing of it is, what we said all along was, let's work together on this. Jordan lake is going to be built, and its built now it's got water in it. Let's check the water for a few years, if it's fine to drink then we build a pipeline down there. If it's not, let's try to work something out, out here. We offered them to do that several times,

Page 25
which to me sounds like a very good proposition. They could have done it a lot cheaper. And what we proposed is if the water down there wasn't any good, maybe building a smaller lake out here, enlarging University lake, dredging all that dirt out—75 percent full of dirt, right now, University lake is—and working together on it. You know everything has been behind somebody's back, and behind closed doors since before it started.
And just like that meeting started off. A friend of ours was a clerk up there in Hillsborough, and she said they met up there all day, that day, trying to decide how to present the meeting down here.
KARL E. CAMPBELL:
The first meeting?
BOBBY KIRK:
Right. And she said they said, “You know it didn't come off anything like we thought it would. They actually thought we were all in favor of it.
KARL E. CAMPBELL:
Why do you think they thought that?
BOBBY KIRK:
Well, in my opinion, that just goes to show how ignorant a lot of those people are. Its the thing about this county, and its a shame. (child interrupts and is sent to his room) That is the thing about this county here, we have so much going for the county. We got the University here, we got so many people that are smarter than I am, but we've got so many other good things. We've got so much to offer from different kinds of people, and different things, but we can't get anything together. We are miles apart. And the people over

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here, like some of our county commissioners, say they can look at both sides, but they can't look at but one side.
KARL E. CAMPBELL:
The University, or. . . ?
BOBBY KIRK:
Well, I don't know if, well . . . .
KARL E. CAMPBELL:
I am trying to figure out what the sides are.
BOBBY KIRK:
Well you look at Willhoit (spelling? possibly commissioner) down here, well, the side of being a town—they say Chapel Hill, they want to preserve the village atmosphere, well, there's no village atmosphere down there. But being a town, and a growing area and stuff like that, and you've got this agricultural area here. You know they just don't mix good. But both have got a lot to offer, if they could get together.
(Child interrupts and is allowed to rejoin interview.)
KARL E. CAMPBELL:
Well, I think what I ought to do is let you get back to your family. It's getting pretty late at night. Thanks a lot.
BOBBY KIRK:
You're welcome.