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Title: Oral History Interview with Charles Adams, February 18, 2000. Interview K-0646. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Electronic Edition.
Author: Adams, Charles, interviewee
Interview conducted by Van Scoyoc, Peggy
Funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this interview.
Text encoded by Jennifer Joyner
Sound recordings digitized by Aaron Smithers Southern Folklife Collection
First edition, 2007
Size of electronic edition: 112 Kb
Publisher: The University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
2007.
© 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:
2007-00-00, Celine Noel, Wanda Gunther, and Kristin Martin revised TEIHeader and created catalog record for the electronic edition.
2007-09-25, Jennifer Joyner finished TEI-conformant encoding and final proofing.
Source(s):
Title of recording: Oral History Interview with Charles Adams, February 18, 2000. Interview K-0646. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series K. Southern Communities. Southern Oral History Program Collection (K-0646)
Author: Peggy Van Scoyoc
Title of transcript: Oral History Interview with Charles Adams, February 18, 2000. Interview K-0646. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series K. Southern Communities. Southern Oral History Program Collection (K-0646)
Author: Charles Adams
Description: 114 Mb
Description: 29 p.
Note: Interview conducted on February 18, 2000, by Peggy Van Scoyoc; recorded in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
Note: Transcribed by Peggy Van Scoyoc.
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 Charles Adams, February 18, 2000.
Interview K-0646. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Adams, Charles, interviewee


Interview Participants

    CHARLES ADAMS, interviewee
    PEGGY VAN SCOYOC, interviewer

[TAPE 1, SIDE A]


Page 1
[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]
PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
Today is Friday, February 18, 2000. My name is Peggy Van Scoyoc. I am with the Friends of the Page-Walker History Center. I am here today with Mr. Charlie Adams at the North Carolina High School Athletic Association where he works in Chapel Hill. We are here today to talk to Mr. Adams about not only his career but also his parents and their careers. So Mr. Adams, if we could start out with just a general background on your family, your parents and your grandparents. Where they were born, how far back you go in North Carolina.
CHARLES ADAMS:
Okay, let's start on my Dad's side. My Dad was born in Cary and was raised there and spent his entire life in Cary except when he went off to school. And his family was originally from Cary. And if you trace them back far enough, when they came over they came down from Jamestown, Virginia. But the Adams name has been very prevalent in North Carolina, in Wake County, in Cary for many generations. On my Mom's side, she was a Copeland. And the Copeland's have pretty much a Durham County and Chatham County background. And she was living in Durham where she was born, right across from the old Duke University on the east campus, and she has shown me many times the old rock wall they played on. And they moved to Cary when she was about eleven years old and actually lived in the Walker Hotel, so this makes this thing even neater. And I think my Mom and Dad both spent some time there after they got married. And of course I was born in Cary and lived there my entire life, went through school one through twelve in what is now Cary Elementary school, and so our roots and our heritage is deep in Cary. My Dad ran the Rexall drug store, Adams' Rexall Drugs until he tired of that and found out that I was not going to be a pharmacist when I went to

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college, and then sold it to Ralph Ashworth, which is an interesting story. Ralph came to Cary one day and happened to drop into the drug store and asked my Dad if he knew of any drug stores that were for sale. My Dad said, I'll sell you mine. Ralph thought he was kidding. My Dad told him, no, my son has gone off to school and he's decided he's not going to be a pharmacist so I'm not going to keep it. So he sold it to Ralph and Daphne and then he opened up an appliance store. He stayed in that until he died and that's now Wolfe's Appliance down on Chatham Street. So he spent his entire lifetime in business. But his love was really Cary and education and athletics and he served many, many years on the local advisory board for Cary and quite a few terms on the Wake County board and was getting ready to run again when he died. And my Mom was a long-time teacher. I think her entire career was spent in Wake County. I think she started out at Milbrook, and then over to Green Hope which is just now opened back up as a new school, and then ended her career working for Carl Mills for many years at the Cary Elementary School. And we lived our entire life on Academy Street. It was interesting now to look back and think that we were two houses from the school where my Mom taught all those years. Then in the middle of the block was the Baptist Church where my Mom and I went, and on the end of the block was the Methodist Church where my Dad went and then the drug store across the street. So I tell everybody I had a very sheltered life, I never got off Academy Street. But really and truly, I think out of sixty-three years of my life, that's the happiest years in my life. Because growing up in Cary was truly Happy Days, it was an absolute dream. So that's a little bit about us.
When I got out of college, I was drafted and went into the service, and when I got out of the service I started a teaching and coaching career in Laurel, Delaware. My former Principal who was Paul Cooper, came down to East Carolina when I was finishing up my Master's and

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offered me the head basketball and a teaching position at Cary. So I came back to Cary and coached and taught there for four years, and then went into administration at Garner as Dean and Assistant Principal. And then was hired by the North Carolina High School Athletic Association in 1967 and I served seventeen years as an Assistant and I've been the Director of the Association since 1984.
PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
Wow, what a career. That's fantastic. What did you major in in college?
CHARLES ADAMS:
I majored in social studies and physical education. And I taught sociology and economics and problems of democracy in Cary and coached basketball, head basketball, assistant football, umpired the baseball games and started the track meets. We did it all back in those days. We surely did.
PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
From the ground up. That's great. Do you have any siblings?
CHARLES ADAMS:
No, I was an only child. But I felt like I had, I was not underprivileged by being just myself. I thought I had all of Cary as my brothers and sisters. It was such a close community back in those days and, you know, everybody who was born there stayed there. Nobody ever left and once they came in they stayed there. And so you knew everybody and went to school with them. There were people that I went twelve years to school with. Guys and gals. And so, I had a really great family.
PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
That's wonderful, that's great. Now are you married? Do you have children of your own?
CHARLES ADAMS:
Yes, I'm married. I have a daughter in Utah who's a consultant, I have a son in Cary who's a painter. I have a son in South Carolina who's in textiles. And I have a stepson in Cary with Data General.

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PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
Oh, fantastic, four children. That's quite a family. And most of them are still around here.
CHARLES ADAMS:
In the immediate area, yes.
PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
That's great. Okay, can we go back a little bit and talk about your father. You did give us some history, an early history on him. If you could talk a little bit more about his career and his involvement with the school board. What that career encompassed and what he got involved in with the school and the school board.
CHARLES ADAMS:
Okay, when he left Cary he went to Trinity Park, which is now Duke University. And he had a sister who had a drug store in Durham. I think she was very influential in him going to pharmacy school in Massachusetts. Then he came back and opened up a drug store in Cary. And I think his love was always Cary. Nobody ever loved Cary more than he did. And I think his passion were girls and boys and education and athletics. I've never known anybody to work longer and harder at an avocation than he did to try to get things for Cary and get things for the Cary schools. So at an early age, as a kid, I remember him just night after night being involved with the local politics and the Cary Advisory Board. It seemed like he served forever on that. And he just wanted to make sure that Cary was the best school in Wake County and they had what they should have. I heard a lot of people over a lot of years talk about that they had never seen anybody fight for their school like he did. There was a lady from Garner, Mary Gentry, who was on the school board at the same time, and I remember her remarking that if everybody had the passion for their community that Henry Adams had, Wake County would be the finest school system in the country. But I don't know that he had all the advantages when he was coming along. And he wanted every boy and girl in Cary to have better opportunities and more advantages and a better school system. And so he worked hard for it. And I think he felt like that

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when he had done what he needed to do for Cary, it was time to try at a different level. And they had encouraged him for years to run for the Wake County Board of Education, which he had always pushed them off and said, my love is Cary and I want Cary to get these things. I think somebody told him, they said if you'll get on the Wake County board, Cary can get even more. So he ran and he was elected pretty much by a landslide. He was well respected all over the county and he was a businessman, everybody knew him. And I can't remember how many terms he was on the Wake County Board. But I was in Delaware and he had just won another election. And then I came back to Cary to coach, and he was still on the Wake County Board. And then when I came into this job, he died getting ready to run for another term. And I think about all the things that people tell me while I was gone that he did, and I'm really proud of what he did.
But I guess the thing I'm most proud of was that he was so ahead of his time in civil rights and being concerned about separate but quote, so called equal, but not equal schools. He was on the Board of Education both at the local level and saw the Black schools and the White schools, and he knew we had the have-nots and the have's. Then at the Wake County level, he saw it even worse than that. And I think all the things of those days bothered him greatly. I heard him in conversations with my Mom, talking about, you know, it just was not fair. And I think one of his goals was to do everything he could to try to create a more equitable situation. And one of them was to start the integration process and get the Black kids going to Cary. And that was not a popular thing back in those days. There weren't many people who believed that Blacks were equal or that Blacks should have equal opportunity. And I can remember hearing phone calls and hearing my Dad's response and realized somebody on the other end was really unhappy about him pushing to integrate the schools. And I read articles and I heard people talking. In fact, one of my best friends who grew up and lived a lot at my house, and thought my Mom and Dad were

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just wonderful actually turned against him because of his position on wanting to give the Black children the same opportunities that White children had. And later that person has come back to me and said, I was dead wrong. He said your Dad was right and I was wrong. And he said it upset me so badly that I quit going to see him and wouldn't have anything to do with him. And I said, he had a lot of that, but I said, it never bothered him because he was focused and he thought he was right and think he, deep down, knew he was right. And he was willing to take the flack that came from basically a White community during the days of segregation because he felt so strongly that it was wrong. And I guess that's one of the things I'm most proud of him for because he had tremendous vision. He was a very wise man who looked down that road which most of us are not capable of doing and said, this is wrong and we need to do something about it. And he did. And I happened to have been in Cary coaching and I remember the Principal, Paul Cooper, coming to me one day and saying, your Dad wants to integrate Wake County and he feels like in order to integrate Wake County he's got to do it at his own school first. And he said, I'm totally supportive of him and he said, we'd like to put the first Black kid in your class. I said, great. I said I have no problem with that. So I had the first Black child, who was an Evans girl, back in the early '60's, and we had no problem whatsoever. And things went well. And the rest is history.
PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
Was that Lucille Evans?
CHARLES ADAMS:
I can't think of her first name. Because there were so many Evans kids in Cary. That was a big name of a Black family there. And I had been gone so long. But I did have the first one in Cary, first one in Wake County and it just, it was never the problem everybody thought it was going to be. And each year it just got better. And I think today we can look and see where we did what was right. And I know, I caught some of the same flack. They were

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getting ready to close Berry O'Kelly school in Raleigh. And I went to my principal and said, you know those kids have got to go to school somewhere. And I said, I'd like to go talk to them and see if they'd like to come to Cary. And I went over and met with a lot of the athletes and they had the choice of going anywhere they wanted to. And ultimately they, most of them chose to go to Ligon which was another predominantly Black school. But the word got out that I was visiting Berry O'Kelly and that I was at some of the basketball games, and I was trying to get some of the basketball players to come to Cary and I got some of the same phone calls and letters and conversations that my Dad did. Cary was just not ready for that. And we looked at them, I guess, as human beings and not by their skin color and felt like it was the thing to do. So I'm pleased about that part of history and the role that my Dad played in that. Because it was not an easy thing to step forward back in the '50's and the '60's and say this is wrong and something needs to be done, and then do it because White North Carolina, White Cary, White United States was not ready for that.
PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
Who were the people that your father worked with initially on integrating the Cary schools from the White community? Do you recall?
CHARLES ADAMS:
Yes, there were several there that I can remember. There was Keisler, Clyde Keisler who used to have Kildare Farms. There was W.C. Creel who was the Commissioner of Labor who happened to be my father-in-law. And then there was a Green fellow who lived in Morrisville. There was a Phillips lady who lived down on Park Street. And then the Principal, Paul Cooper. I think the two of them were the ones that… And that's one of the things that surprised and pleased me about Mr. Cooper and I knew what a good man he was. Because he had a South Carolina background, which would probably have made it even tougher than the

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North Carolina. But he never backed off of it. But those are the ones that I remember conversations with and meetings and things like that.
PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
Did you father work directly with the Black community?
CHARLES ADAMS:
Oh yes. And there was the Evans family, which was a very prominent family there. And I cannot recall the gentleman's name who was Principal of the Black school there in Cary. But he was the man that my Dad had the most confidence in and met night after night with when we were trying to do this, along with the Evans family.
PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
Was that Joe Walters? (It was probably J. Estes Byers.)
CHARLES ADAMS:
I'm not sure. No. But my Dad had a tremendous relationship with the Blacks in Cary. They trusted him as a druggist and a pharmacist and an appliance man. And they believed that what he was telling them was in their best interest and was right and he'd never let them down. And as a result it went a lot smoother because they did trust him. And they thought that he was taking them in the right direction and it was in their best interest and they just believed in him, which made the whole thing a lot easier. Because he had been as a businessman and as a child growing up and all of their families one after the other knew them. A lot of them had worked for him, worked with him and they respected him and they thought he was okay.
PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
Very important. I can understand that many members of the White community would be upset and threatened by integration, but were there a lot of people from the Black community who also fought against it and didn't want it?
CHARLES ADAMS:
No, I think the Black community saw the advantages to it and I think they realized that, well athletically for an example, we never knew whether we were better or worse than the Black school but we played in the nice facilities, we had the nice uniforms and we had all the publicity. The Raleigh News and Observer, the Raleigh Times. I remember I would play

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backyard basketball with a lot of the Black kids and they always were very envious of where we played. And we'd always play a preliminary game in Reynolds Coliseum before a state game, and then they'd read the newspapers and we were undefeated in football, or won the state championship in basketball and got publicity that, had they done the same thing in the Black school you would have never heard about it. So I think they saw tremendous advantages in what we had as opposed to what they had. And the Black community was probably much, much more receptive because Cary had a good Black population. They were good people. They were not racist, they were not radicals, they were not liberals. They were just good, solid citizens who grew up with good work ethics and got along with the White people and realized this could work. So I think the people who found it most distasteful, now it's easy to say, were the ones who were the most racist and did not believe in equal facilities. So I think it was the White people that resisted. And I think as I look back, my Mom and I used to talk about it, there's probably about a third of the Cary population that was very accepting of the idea. And then there was probably another close to a third that just kind of were waiting to see what was going to happen. And then the other element fought it and fought him and tried everything they could to keep it from happening.
PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
So it was actually in the Cary schools that the first Black students attended a White school for all of Wake County?
CHARLES ADAMS:
Okay, there were two systems at that time. You had the Raleigh city schools and you had the Wake County schools. They were not one like you have now. And Wake County, I don't know about the Raleigh city schools because we didn't have anything to do, we didn't play them, we didn't have anything to do. But in Wake County, Cary was the first school to officially and formally integrate and had the first Black students.

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PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
And was Cary a forerunner for other communities where, was Cary being watched by other communities?
CHARLES ADAMS:
Absolutely. And I remember all the articles in the News and Observer and the Raleigh Times about… and they were both pro and con about Cary getting out front, Cary was integrating first. And then there were those who thought Cary was progressive and then there were those who thought Cary had sold out. But yes, I think the Apex', the Garner's, the Milbrook's, the Fuquay's all over the county were looking at Cary to see what's going to happen over there, they're bringing those Black kids to school. And are they going to have a race riot, or have a war, or are they going to burn down the school? What's going to happen? And then it went so smoothly. And that's what my Dad had said to the Principal. He said, you know, we can't integrate Wake County until somebody's willing to step forward and do it locally. And he said, if I'm trying to integrate Wake County, I can't give it lip service and not do it in my own hometown. And so he felt very strongly that Cary should be the first and Cary could be the smoothest, which it was. And then the rest of the County followed suit.
PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
Wow, that's fantastic.
CHARLES ADAMS:
Yes, and that's another thing I feel good about when I talk about Cary. Cary was a leader. Cary always has been a leader in Wake County. They were a leader athletically. You know, they had the first boarding school, first public school, the first school to integrate. And those are things that a lot of people don't know. And I lived two houses from the school all my life and I used to read that plaque up there, First Public School in North Carolina. And I went off to college and I was taking an education course, and the professor said, "where was the first public school in North Carolina?" And I remember him saying, "Well Adams, that's the first time you've raised your hand this semester." And I said, "Well, I live two houses from it." And he

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said, "You're right - Cary High School." So I always felt good telling people that I was from Cary because Cary the school, the athletic program, integration, Cary just did things before everybody else did. And they did it the right way and it worked and I just felt good about Cary. Still do.
PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
It's a great place to live.
Can you describe how the integration process was engineered with the… How the program was designed to work?
CHARLES ADAMS:
My understanding of that was that my Dad, and Mr. Cooper, and two or three of the local advisory people, and a couple of the Wake County people, and the Evans family, and the principal of the Black school sat down and actually developed a game plan of how many students would come the first year, who they would be, where they would come from and obviously the Black community sent some of their best kids forward. And then each year there were supposed to be a geometric progression of the Black kids coming. So they had a really solid game plan that was overseen by the Wake County Board of Education, the Cary Advisory Board and then the key players in it. And they had decided that "X" number would come the first year, they would see how this worked. Quadruple that the next year and then they hoped by the third year full fledged, which it was. By the time I left there, I'm trying to think, I was there from about '62 to maybe '65 or '66, and each year it got bigger and bigger. I started out with one in my homeroom, and then I had several in sociology the next year, and then the following year I had quite a few. And then I went to Garner the next year to get into administration. So they had a good game plan. They just didn't send the entire Black community over and say, we're integrated. There was a great deal of rhyme and reason given to this by the Black community and the White community. Well planned.

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PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
And it paid off.
CHARLES ADAMS:
Yes it did. It was planned so it wouldn't backfire and it wouldn't fail.
PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
A portion of that plan was to create schools that had only one grade in it for a period of time. For example, West Cary became an all ninth grade school. Could you talk about the… why they did that and if it worked the way they intended?
CHARLES ADAMS:
Yes, I think it did. My recollection on that was that they decided that after they did this nominal, or minimal beginning and just a smaller transition, that the goal would be to work towards a separate campus where there would only be one grade and then everybody would go there. And my Dad's thinking was, this would be less of a volatile situation than having a four year high school program and all of a sudden, boom, everybody's dropped in there. And they thought that in the ninth grade that if they could have this one school over at West Cary and all the Black students went there instead of going up here, and all the White students came over here instead of going up there, that that would give them a year to get to know each other in a less volatile situation. And I think it really worked out well because number one, they got to know each other. And they got to play ball together, they got to study together, they got to be in activities together, and it wasn't where the small number of Blacks got lost into a big White high school which it wouldn't big, but it was big at that time compared to the Black. So I think it was a very wise decision to do a one grade experiment. Because I thought it worked well and was a precursor to then all coming into one high school. That made the next three grades much easier because you and I have been together, we've played on the same team, we've studied in the same library, we've ridden on the same bus, but the Blacks didn't feel as threatened because they weren't outnumbered so badly by all the Whites. It was more of an equitable ratio. And I thought it was a really good way to do it. I had not heard of anybody doing that at one time.

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PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
It was an unusual solution.
CHARLES ADAMS:
It was. To take and say, we're just going to have one grade for everybody, a one grade school.
PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
Now there were a number of White parents who were very upset when West Cary was first converted to a ninth grade only school, and they actually initiated a law suit.
CHARLES ADAMS:
Yes, I can remember a petition. I can remember a law suit. And I think again, it's the small mindedness of looking at the small picture rather than the big picture. And I knew some of them. I remember when it was going on and they were petitioning the general assembly, and they were petitioning the Town Council. They did not want West Cary to be a one grade school. But I think when the game plan was explained, most people said, well, you know, we don't want to necessarily integrate, but if we're going to, this is a pretty sensible way of trying to do it. And I think sanity had prevailed and most of them were able to look at the big picture and say, here's where we hope to be someday. This single school is a step in getting us up here. So I think more people bought into it than those that were just unhappy about it being shut down and turned into a single grade. And I think again as I experienced it, it was the small minded looking at a lesser versus a big picture and down the road of the wisdom that made sense. Of course, I was prejudiced because I believed very strongly in what my Dad was doing and I was certainly on that side. And at times it really felt like we were really the minority working with the minorities, but as it turned out, I'm not so sure we were. I think there were a lot of good people in Cary who sat back and accepted my Dad's leadership and said, you know, if Henry Adams believes in this and he's leading it, then you know it must be okay. And you don't hear from the good people who are pretty satisfied or will accept it. It's the ones who their comfort zone is being messed with, and that's what this group was.

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PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
The Department of Health, Education and Welfare (HEW) obviously was very involved in integration, and they were the accountability arm of the law, if you will. Do you recall how your father needed to work with them? How he did work with them?
CHARLES ADAMS:
I surely do. I remember in our den, in our kitchen meetings being held with Mr. Cooper, the principal, and a couple of the County board members, and my Dad and a couple key players in Cary, Black and White. And they knew they were going to have to address a game plan with them. And I remember them working night after night after night putting this thing together, reviewing it, laying it aside, going off, coming back, picking it up and looking at it again. And then when they submitted this, I remember how delighted they were when they got the word back that the plan was totally acceptable. And that doused some of the fuel in the flame in Cary at that time, because they thought that somebody was going to step in sooner or later and say, this is wrong, this is bad, you can't do it. And they were getting pluses and thumbs up all the way along the line. And when I think it came out of Atlanta that this plan was thoroughly approved and supported, I think then things really started to move.
PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
So the HEW in Atlanta had to bless it before it could be put into practice? So they were being very progressive and open minded in how towns like Cary did it.
CHARLES ADAMS:
Yes, because it was just the beginning and they didn't want to see it fall on it's face. And I remember my Dad, I was sitting there one night watching TV and I was listening to him out of one ear, and he was very cautious in saying to the group, we've got to dot every "i" and cross every "t" because we don't want anything to happen to set us back or to unravel this thing or destroy it. So they were very meticulous in putting together what now would be looked at as, I think, a model plan for integrating schools.

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PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
That's amazing. So the HEW did not come in and say, not only are you going to do this but this how you're going to do this?
CHARLES ADAMS:
No. They never had to do that in Cary. And that was the beauty of it. They never got anything from Atlanta. They never got anything from Washington. They were just told, what you're doing is good, we applaud you, proceed. So they were never under any fire or guidelines or ultimatums like many other cities and counties operated under. And even the last few years still under them. So it was voluntary progression.
PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
In 1971, the Holly Springs High School, I believe it was, was closed down. And that began a bussing program. Do you recall how that went?
CHARLES ADAMS:
I was over here then and my Dad and died. And I remember because we had all the schools in the state and the Black schools were being absorbed by the White schools and the Black organization, which was the North Carolina High School Athletic Conference, which was our counterpart in Rocky Mount, we merged with them in about '72 and took in all the Black schools in North Carolina. And we caught hell for that too. And that was the right thing to do. And we knew it was coming and we knew probably the best way to integrate the schools was through athletics, because with you and I down there on the line in football, I don't care if you're Black or White. So that's what I remember. But I had been gone from Cary for five years, my Dad was dead and I wasn't involved in local politics. And my Mom didn't talk that much about it anymore. She was still teaching then. But I do remember when they shut Holly Springs down and did the bussing because I know how it affected us here. We used to have a rule that said, if you go to school, you have to live in that administrative unit, which meant in Wake County, to go to Cary you had to live in Cary. Well, then, Judge McMillan came out with this court ordered bussing. And this did away with that old rule. We could no longer say you had to… you were

Page 16
only eligible where you lived. We had to change our rule to say, you are eligible wherever the Board of Education assigns you. And that took care of bussing. So we were doing it at the state level at the same time that Holly Springs was being shut down and bussed over there. But I was not as knowledgeable about that because I was gone and didn't have anybody to talk to about it.
PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
So you're not real aware of how it went or what kind of opposition?
CHARLES ADAMS:
No, because at that time it was going on pretty much all over the state. And there was huge opposition to the bussing because you were taking kinds out of their neighborhood school right across the street and sending them ten miles away, and they would have to get up at 6:00 and they would get home at 5:00. Nobody liked bussing. It destroyed athletics for awhile because you were living here, and you had to play ball over here, and you couldn't go home after school because nobody could get you back over there. And people didn't have any allegiance over here. So bussing created probably as many problems as we've ever had in this state. I don't even know whether a jury would say it worked or it didn't work. I notice now a lot of places going back to the way it used to be. But I think it probably has some pro's and con's. I couldn't speak specifically to Holly Springs.
PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
Can you talk a little bit about athletics in general and how you think it contributed to integration statewide?
CHARLES ADAMS:
I don't think there's any question, I think we would have been in a third world war without it. I do not think the schools could have integrated without athletics. Because in athletics in most cases in this state, it's the single thing that brought the two races together and made it much smoother. And if you go back and talk to any superintendent, principal, A.D. or coach during about a five year block in which we were integrating, they say that athletics is the thing that brought the two races together, that kept the school open. Because the kids didn't care

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whether you were Black or White, could you play? And you became teammates and you were down in the trenches together and they learned to appreciate and respect each other. And it carried over into the school. And I really believe it would have been a blood bath for North Carolina had we not had athletics. Because that was the filtering point that made it all happen. I think you can look back and really credit athletics as being the single most success story in integration, not just in North Carolina but in the South, in the country.
PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
How accepting were the White students to having Black students play with them and take part in athletics in the beginning? Was it tough?
CHARLES ADAMS:
I think in the beginning they didn't know each other, and so therefore it's kind of stand-offish and taking a look and trying to size them up. And then, I think, if they realized they could play and they were good people just we were. And the only thing that I think I remember a lot of was where parents got upset because Sam came here from a Black school and took Johnny's position. And of course, it worked both ways back then. But I think the Blacks enjoyed finally having the opportunity to be able to compete and see who was good. And they fit in very nicely and the Whites, I think, were probably a little more stand-offish, but soon found out that these kids could play and by and large they're pretty good friends and neighbors. Sadly enough, here we are in the twenty-first century and they still segregate themselves. You can go into a school and the Black kids will eat over here and the White kids will eat over here. You get on a bus and the Black kids will sit over here and the White kids here. But in athletics it's put them more together.
PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
That's great. There was a school named for your father. When did that school open? Was he still alive?

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CHARLES ADAMS:
No, he fought that.
PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
He did not want it?
CHARLES ADAMS:
No, he did not want it named after him. He did not believe any building should be named after a living person. And there was a move in Cary when they decided to build a school to name it the Henry Adams Elementary, and he said, absolutely not. And then the Wake County Board tried to pass a bill saying that it would be named, and he refused to let them do it, outvoted that. And he said that, one of two things. He really never wanted credit for anything he did. He was one of these guys who liked to work behind the scenes, he liked to work in the back of the drug store or after the store had closed, or in the den, or in the kitchen. He never wanted recognition. He really didn't want people to know that he was taking $300 out of his pocket to give to a kid to send him to camp, or raising $500 out of his drug store to help light the field. He was just a behind-the-scenes player and did not like center stage. And really got adamantly angry over them even talking about naming a school after him and refused to allow them to do it. So they didn't. And then when he died, they did it.
PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
Do you think he'd be happy about that if he could know?
CHARLES ADAMS:
He would be pleased if he could look at the school and say this school is good, or this school is the best school in Cary and one of the best in Wake County. He wouldn't care whether it was named after him or not. That would be totally meaningless to him. He just would want… his question would be not why did you name it after me or who did you name it for, but do the kids have enough paper? Do they have their computers? Do they have any good teachers? Are they getting the core curriculum? He would be very concerned with the academics and the background and the abilities of the teachers and how well they were competing and how they write. That's all he would have cared about.

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PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
How do you feel about it?
CHARLES ADAMS:
Oh, I'm proud for him. When I went out to speak at the dedication, I was proud. Because I'm proud of him. I know what he did and I know why he did it. He did it for all the right reasons. And he wasn't a showy man. People still kid about if he showed any emotion it was like sticking up a finger or a smile like you just gave. He was not a demonstrative person and he wasn't a heavy hitter out here, but behind the scenes he could get anything in the world done because people respected him, and they liked him and they believed in him. But he would not want the fanfare and he would not want to be on display. He would divert the attention to somebody else. He'd find a way to put it on a child or a teacher. But yes, I went out there that day and I was very proud for him. And I felt good and my family feels good, and I think my Mom was proud. But to him it would be just another day of work and he would poo poo kind of that they did it. And I don't know whether he would be proud or not. He'd think they should have named it for somebody else. He probably thought it should have been a directional school, or called it Cary Elementary or something.
PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
That's great. Was your mother still alive?
CHARLES ADAMS:
Oh yes. She was still teaching. She was teaching under Carl Mills for, of gosh, she was seventy-one when she quit teaching. Because they kept bringing her back. Each year you had to, after a certain age, you had to request to the county to bring a teacher back. And I think Carl brought her back six or seven years on that one-year, Mrs. Adams will you teach one more year? And she finally started losing her eyesight and she told Carl, she said, "Carl, I can't teach anymore." And he said, "You're not going to do this to me." He said, "You're going to teach as long as I'm Principal." And she said, "I can't see anymore." She hemorrhaged behind the retina and had macular degeneration and just went completely blind the last twenty years of her life. But

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loved kids and the greatest story ever, and I've told it so many times about what a teacher can do to a child. There is a Hodges family in Cary. And I coached two of them, Joe Hodges who's about six two, two hundred seventy five, Lindsey Hodges who's about six something, three hundred. And then there's little Horace who's about six three, about three hundred pounds. And all of them played football for us when I was coaching at Cary. But little Horace was in my mother's third grade class. And she said, everyday for the hundred and eighty day term, the last thing that happened, little Horace would walk up, he's a third grader, so he would grab her around the legs, and he'd say, "Mrs. Adams, I love you." And she would say, "Horace, I love you." And that story and that chemistry, and Horace came over the other day. And I said, "Horace, every time I look at you or hear your name, I think about my mother saying how you came up and hugged her one hundred and eighty days and told her you loved her." And he said, "I still do." And I thought that's the neat thing about teaching. That was a sweet story. But she taught third, fourth, fifth, sixth grade for thirty years, I guess.
PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
She probably had every kid in Cary at one time.
CHARLES ADAMS:
Yes. And this is another neat story. I can remember some of the people who worked for my Dad and worked for her. Blacks who couldn't read, and she taught them to read.
PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
Just quietly, behind the scenes?
CHARLES ADAMS:
Yes, right out at lunch time. They'd go out and sit on the porch and I used to go through there on my travels, and I'd stop by. And she'd be on the back porch with the maid who happened at Fidelity Bank who worked for her, and they'd go out and have a reading lesson. And this person would be fifty, sixty years old, couldn't read a letter. And my mother taught quite a few of them how to read. And that just, oh that got to me every time I'd go through there and think, somebody can't read. You know, that's incomprehensible to me that you can't read. And

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I'd sit there and I'd listen just a minute to them struggling. And I could name several people she taught to read who had never been able to read. And she did this after she retired from teaching and after she'd lost most of her eyesight.
PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
Wow, amazing. What was her role in integration?
CHARLES ADAMS:
Supporting him. She had been a teacher. She went to Western Carolina and N.C. State. And then when I was born she stayed out of school until I graduated. And she did all the cooking for my Dad's drug store, you know. She made the potato salad, pimento cheese and chili, and all of that. And she was big into the Women's Club, and Eastern Star and the PTA and things like that. Very, very civically minded. Both of them were. Him was more school, hers was more community. Then when I got out of school she went back to teaching and taught until she was seventy-one years old. And her role during that time was to be the good, supportive wife, but my Mom was very outspoken. Very much independent, very much probably ahead of her time. I remember coming in one day from school and there was a note, "I've gone to Florida for the week. You and your Dad take care of the house." And she was a very well read, very bright, very intelligent lady. Very strict disciplinarian. I still hear stories about kids telling me, but they all loved her. But I think she supported my Dad, but she had her own itinerary. She was not a housewife. She was out there and she was doing things in the Garden Club and doing things in the Women's Club, and Eastern Star and running PTA. She had her own agenda. She was very supportive of what he was doing. Because she also felt the same way he did about equal opportunities.
And being a teacher she felt…
[END OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]

[TAPE 1, SIDE B]

[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]

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PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
Okay, side two here. Make sure we're working, and I think it's running now. Well, so your family has contributed so much to the development of Cary, to the Town. Your parents and yourself have seen incredible change over the course of all these years. Had the Town really started to grow when your parents were still so involved in the Town?
CHARLES ADAMS:
No, I think the best way to say that is, when I grew up there it was a Class A school, which was the smallest classification. There were four classes: 1A, 2A, 3A and 4A. So the 1A's were the really small schools. And the entire time that I went there it was a Class 1A school and had not done a lot of changing. The face was still pretty much the same. When I came back there to teach and coach it was a 2A school. When I left there after four years it was a 3A school. And when I came here several years later, it was about the tenth largest school in North Carolina. And now, as you know, it has been splintered off into Apex, Athens Drive, Green Hope and you've got about 90,000 people where we had about 3,000 people. And I can even remember having a pony in my backyard when I was growing up. And one of the doctor's sons across the street had one, and we would go to the Cary Elementary School, and it was a dirt street, and we would race down to the drug store on our ponies, tie them up and go in the drug store to get something to drink, and race back up the street. So that's how "Happy Days" was back then. Of course, you know how it is today. But my Dad never saw the growth. He would be shocked, I think, that Cary did what it did. My Mom heard about it, because losing her eyesight she couldn't see it, and she only heard what people told her. And I'm probably the one that, first hand because of growing up there, playing ball there, coaching there, and still having a lot of involvement in Cary through this program here, I saw Cary over those years go from a sleepy little suburb of Raleigh

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as a 1A to a 90,000 strong thriving community there. So I'm probably the only one of the three that saw the growth.
PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
Now your children, did they grow up in Cary?
CHARLES ADAMS:
No, no. We've been in Chapel Hill thirty three years. I was thinking, not a one of them graduated from Cary, all of them, three of them here in Chapel Hill. So we've been over here since 1967. You see, my Dad died in '68, I believe, or '69. He was either sixty nine and died in '68, or he was sixty eight and died in '69. So, it was the opening night of football season. And he had the appliance store and I thought well, I'm going to go to Goldsboro tonight and catch Goldsboro and whoever they played. And I went down to the appliance store and I was going to ask him if he wanted to ride with me. And the guy said, he wasn't feeling well, that he went home to rest. That never happened. So I decided I'd run up the street, to Academy Street, and check on him. And I went and he was on the floor. And I think he'd had a heart attack. And so I picked him up and I put him in the car, and started to Rex Hospital. And I know he had a heart attack right behind Meredith College. And I got him in the hospital and they got him okay. And he died that night. He had an aneurysm and they couldn't find it. It was bleeding on the back side. So he never knew what happened to Cary. He never saw the growth, the progress. He'd be so proud. He'd be incredibly proud. He wore Cary on his sleeve. You know, where you talk about some people wear their religion on their sleeve, he'd talk to anybody about Cary and Cary education and Cary athletics. And no, he missed out on all of that. He'd be shocked.
PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
I'm sure he would be. It's changed a lot. Do you have any other interesting, fun stories to tell about growing up in Cary?
CHARLES ADAMS:
Just that it was the most fun place to grow up any human being could ever. And there's a group now that we still get back together, that we all went to school and played ball

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together back in the '50's. And Cary then was the Cary White Imps, not because we were White, but that's like the Duke Blue Devils. It was just a color. It could have been the Cary Purple Imps. But we all played together in the '50's, and incredibly successful. We went, I think, four years and lost one football game, and four years won the state championship in basketball, and then lost it one year in triple overtime, so we all dated together, partied together, went to school together, played together and there are about forty of us that still get together on an annual basis. And we talk about all the fun things and the stories and, it was just a neat, neat place to grow up. When I die, I'll have a fondness, and a soft spot, and a warm spot in my heart for Cary because it still was the most pleasant time in my life. The people, the kids that were my best friends, and we just stayed close.
PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
That's great that you stayed in touch with them all these years. Was your wife from Cary? Is that where you met her? Were you high school sweethearts?
CHARLES ADAMS:
Yes, she was a cheerleader at Cary when I was playing ball. Yes, we dated my senior year. I'm three years older than she is. I was playing basketball and she was a cheerleader. Her dad was my first Little League coach. I ended up coaching her brother and teaching her brother and sister, and her sister was a cheerleader when I was coaching. So it's funny how our families, I grew up on Academy Street and she was on Keener Street which was about two or three streets over. And we went to the same church. You know, back then everybody did what everybody… the only segregation in Cary was, you either went to the Baptist church or the Methodist church. And then we all saw each other in school. And we all went to school together from the first grade through and the drug store was the focal point. We all were in sports which brought us together. It was just the neatest place in the world to grow up.

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PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
It sounds wonderful.
CHARLES ADAMS:
I'm sure I could think of nine million funny stories. But they'd only be funny to me and some of the people. I've often been tempted to say, I'm going to write a book. Then I think, well, who would read the thing anyway.
PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
Oh, a lot of people would. Can you think of any other people that you can recommend for us to interview?
CHARLES ADAMS:
Yes, I recommend Herb Young. Herb Young is really old Cary. Herb was a great athlete. He played, he was starting here in Carolina when he was sixteen years old. He's had a storied career as an official. He's been in athletics and he's just kind of been "Mr. Cary." Most of the Cary people have died out. One that would be good if you can interview, but he won't be back here until April, and that's the guy this building's named for. He was the coach at Cary when I played, Simon Terrell. He came to Cary in '52, '53. And all of us played for him for two years before he left to go to Durham. He's the one who hired me in '67 and I worked with him for seventeen years before he retired. He would be a great one to interview, and he's down in Florida now, and comes back the last week in April. He lives right across the street. Simon Terrell. Let's see, who else is still there. James Hurley. He's one of the old-timers. His daughter was Jane Mosley, who just died of breast cancer and was in the legislature. But he was an athlete there and he, yes, and he knows my Mom and Dad really well and went down that road. He would be a good one. Doug Holleman who lives down on the corner of Chatham and I don't know what the street is. Billy Rogers would be excellent. Billy used to have the restaurant there in Cary, right across from Wolfe's Appliance Store. He's my cousin, and he has lived there for sixty four years. So he's probably seen maybe even more than I have. Because he had sixty four years out there. And he still lives there on Ralph Drive. He and his wife, Barbara. And she was a

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cheerleader when my wife was a cheerleader. And they ran the only restaurant in Cary all those years that my Dad had the drug store and the appliance store. Billy Rogers would be an excellent one to interview. Herb Young would be an excellent one. James Hurley might wear you out a little bit because he'll start talking about how good he was, and he'll pull a clipping out and show you he was the guy that scored all the points in the game against Garner. But he's okay, he's a sweet old man. Let's see if there's anybody else. Herb would be good. Billy Rogers would be good. But Billy's been a businessman in Cary all those years, plus grew up there. I'm trying to think who all's there that's still left. There's another one that might be pretty good because he was a student athlete during that time, Steve Holleman. And Steve was born in Cary. Steve would be about fifty-some years old. But Steve saw his Dad's group come along who were the first successful group of athletes in Cary who won the Class B state championship. And Steve played for me at Cary. And Steve's been a big part, and Steve then came back and coached in Cary and he's spent most of his fifty-three, fifty-five years have been in Cary. So I would say, Herb Young, Billy Rogers, Steve Holleman, Austin Rich. Austin came there in the '50's. He's the barber. You know how beauticians and barbers are, they know everything.
PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
They know everything about everybody.
CHARLES ADAMS:
So Austin would be a good one. I'll tell you another one. Guy Mendenhall. Guy was the athletic director at Cary. And Guy and I played together in the '50's and here it is 2000 and Guy is still there and still substituting. So he is, we called him "Mr. Cary." He knows more about Cary. He's the one that calls us and lets us know who died, who got married, who had children and what's going on. So I'd go Herb Young one, Billy Rogers, maybe Guy Mendenhall, Steve Holleman. Then if you need a couple more, Simon Terrell when he gets back, Preacher Hurley, James Hurley, and maybe Doug Holleman.

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PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
Wonderful. Oh, that's great. What a great list.
CHARLES ADAMS:
And if you want a female, Ginny Pegram. Ginny was the first great female basketball player from Cary. We are working with her now to get some memorabilia. She was just fantastic back in the late '40's, early '50's. And was the first Cary lady to ever play professional basketball. She played with all Hanes Hosiery. And has been featured in a couple of films on early female basketball. And she would be a good one. She has been here her entire life, and she's probably… I'm sixty-three, I'd say she's sixty-five. So she would be a good female to interview. Because she has seen it all happen. I'm trying to think of the street. She lives on Maynard Road. Her name is Ginny Morris, she's Ginny Pegram now. She arguably is the best basketball player to ever come out of Cary and play professional, and we're honoring her over here. And she's in the Cary Hall of Fame. So that would be a good one to have a female slant. That's it. Ginny Pegram, and certainly Herb Young, and Billy Rogers who's been in the community as a businessman. They would be three good ones.
PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
Excellent. That's wonderful. Okay, well, can you think of anything else that we haven't touched on.
CHARLES ADAMS:
Yes, you've asked some good questions. You've asked the kind of question that, you know, is not a yes or a no. I was talking to Woody Durham the other day who does the Tarheel sports, and he said, "I've always enjoyed interviewing you because I'll ask you a question," and he said, "some of these coaches, you put the microphone out and they say yes, or they say no." And he said, "You gave me an answer." And I said, "Well, I probably talked too much."
PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
Oh no, no, no. Can't do that.

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CHARLES ADAMS:
To an interviewer, I guess it's better to have it come out this way than yes or no.
PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
Definitely.
CHARLES ADAMS:
I think your questions have been really good. They have made it easy to think back and bring it out.
PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
Good. Well, you have just given us the most wonderful, wonderful interview. This information that you've given us today is just invaluable to, not only to the Page-Walker History Center, but also anyone else in the future who may hear this interview or may come across it. We do plan to make this part of the public record. And so it will be out there and available to the public. Anyone who hears this tape is going to benefit more from what you've given us today. So we are so happy.
CHARLES ADAMS:
I used to think I bled green. I used to think that if somebody cut me open that green blood would come out because I love Cary so much growing up there. Having the opportunity to play ball there and come back and coach there, and then all the people I love and family and friends. I'm surprised I ever left there.
PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
But you're not far away.
CHARLES ADAMS:
No, and my wife's mother still lives over there, so we get over there to see her. And her brother lives there and so we get over there. And one child lives there. So, you know, it's not very far.
PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
Just down the road. Well, thank you again so much for everything that you've given us.
CHARLES ADAMS:
You're welcome. I think it's neat what you're doing. We're doing a lot of this here. I'll take you up there and show you a little bit of what we've got going on. And we're trying to

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tie in memorabilia and then doing videos on people that have been important in sports history in North Carolina.
PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
Oh, wonderful. That's a great project.
CHARLES ADAMS:
Yes, we're trying to preserve, you know, we've been in existence since 1913 and we've lost a lot of people that, you know, we should have had interviews on, or we should have done videos on. So we're trying to play catch-up now and have something that people, after you and I are gone, can come in here and see and listen to.
PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
Oh, that's great. Well, good luck on your project.
CHARLES ADAMS:
Thank you. Yes, I have to bring my wife out sometime. She has never been in the Walker Hotel. I've been in there many, many times, but she has never been, so I've got to get her out there and let her see it.
PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
It's been restored beautifully, and the museum is opening in May of 2000, so this year, which hallmarks the history of Cary. So that will be a wonderful thing to see. We'll be having a whole weekend surrounding Heritage Day in Cary, at the hotel.
CHARLES ADAMS:
Well, I wish you well.
PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
Thank you.
END OF INTERVIEW