Franklin Street Stories

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Robert: My name is Robert Humphries and I was born and raised and have lived my entire life in Chapel Hill, never seeing a need to leave. I think, the longest period of time I have been away from Chapel Hill is four weeks some years ago when I drove across America and that was a great experience as well as living in Chapel Hill.

Interviewer: [0:21] So, when you were in Chapel Hill, you went through school, was it still in high school on Franklin Street.

Robert: [0:28] Chapel Hill High School is on Franklin Street, where University Square is now. And actually my class, which was the Class of 1966, was the last class to graduate. We graduated in June and they came in in July with a wrecking ball and we all stood on the sidewalk and cheered as they tore our high school down. And it was only six or eight or ten years later where we realized, oh my god, we can't go back. We can't go back and visit the hallowed halls of Chapel Hill High anymore. I mean, we could go to Time Out Chicken and say, "Oh, I used to go to math class about in this spot," but the school itself was gone for forever." We didn't realize what we were missing. We thought it was cool they were tearing our school down.

Interviewer: [1:12] Do you remember any specific stories while you were in high school about the place?

Robert: [1:16] About Chapel Hill or about the school?

Interviewer: [1:18] About Chapel Hill high school or if you got class and ran over to [crosstalk] or anything else.

Robert: [1:22] Oh my gosh, yes you know, here we were right in the middle of camp, we weren't allowed to leave the campus because I mean even though all we had to do was walk right down the street. We could go to Hardy's and get a hamburger for lunch, we weren't allowed to. And so, we were constantly trying to sneak out and I remember there was a particular favorite janitor in the school. I think, this was when I was in middle school right next door, which was called junior high course at that time. And this particular janitor would go across the street to the gas station and get a coke for us because we didn't have coke machines on campus; you weren't allowed to really have cokes on campus. So, we used to get him to sneak across.

[2:02] The only thing I could do back in the '60s, I graduated in '66 and the only thing I ever got the school to allow me to do was, my barber was on the same block as the high school, about where the Baptist Church new building is now. And they would give me a permission slip to leave the campus to get a haircut because that was in the days when not many boys were getting their haircuts, it was long haired hippie kids and so, when I would go in the office and say, "I want to go get a haircut," they'd say "Fine, go."

Interviewer: [2:35] You managed to get a drink while you were out?

Robert: [2:37] Yeah, we'd sneak a little more than just a haircut for sure.

Interviewer: [2:41] Now, do you remember the janitor's name?

Robert: [2:44] Let's see, I believe that was big Thomas, who some years later ran into UNC Hospital when I was going in for a minor surgical treatment and he was the surgical assistant. And there is a funny story about that, but it was urology procedure and you probably better not have it on your tape. [laughter]

Interviewer: [3:13] Growing up, what were some of your favorite places to go while you were on Franklin Street... and if you could kind of describe them?

Robert: [3:21] Growing up here, the campus was beautiful then as it is now. We would spend our weekend nights hanging out on Franklin Street down around the post office, then later "The Wall," which is the wall at McCorkle Place, which became sort of famous and infamous for various and sundry protests and meetings and just a place to gather and a place to hang out.

[3:51] The Arboretum was always nice when we were young boys in the growing up formative years and didn't have dates, we would sneak down in the Arboretum on Friday and Saturday night and heckle the students that were in there making out on the park benches and we would sneak up behind them in the bushes and scare them and stuff like that and we thought that was great fun and it was fun for us.

[4:17] When we had dates and we had girlfriends, we certainly would go to the Arboretum or we would go to the... what do they call it, the Orrery which was the planet room in the planetarium, which was always dark. It was a great place on rainy evenings; if you didn't have any place else to go with your girlfriend, you could go in the Orrery and they had sort of bench seats around that rounder and it is the big rounder room, it has the planets that go around the sun. And you could go in there and watch the planets go around and make out in the Orrery. That was always fun.

[4:54] Let's see, other favorite places, there was a teen center at that time called the Cat Cellar. We were the mighty wild cats of Chapel Hill high school and under what was Bruegger's Bagels up until a few months ago when it closed down. At that time, it was the Zoom-Zoom restaurant, one of baby Dan Zinger's and one of the Dan Zinger family's many restaurants in Chapel Hill.

[5:21] She had the Zoom-Zoom at that time, which was the first place I ever had a slice of pizza in my entire life. And in the basement of that building she had allowed the community to come in and build a teen center, which was just a place that we could hang out and go after school and they had ping-pong and shuffleboard. And we didn't have a pool table back then, because pool was considered to be kind of an evil sport that only drunkards played and so they never allowed us to have the pool tables in there.

[5:53] But, interestingly enough, I played in a band in those days and James Taylor was in our school and lived in our community in those days. He played in his older brother Alex's band. James was in my class. He didn't actually finish in Chapel Hill, he finished in a private school, but he and I were the same age and good buddies back in grade school. But, the basement teem center there, the Cat Cellar was probably the first place that James Taylor ever played in front of an audience. And so, there is a little trivia question I always give to people "Where was the first public performance for James Taylor?" And he was just a rhythm guitar player. He wasn't even the lead singer of the band, his brother Alex was. But, that was a cool place.

[6:44] It prompted me to work with a group many years later to Street Scene Teen Center - I am the president of the board of directors of that group and still enjoy that. We opened that in 1985 and that is still one of my favorite places to go hang out with the teens in the basement of the post office. That is the where the Street Scene.

[7:08] Let's see, other favorite places, the Rathskeller was certainly a favorite whenever we'd be hanging out on Franklin Street on Friday or Saturday night. We'd go in there, a group of six or eight of us and sitting at big booth that used to be up under the sidewalk and we would order one glass of tea with the free refills and one order of French fries and six or eight of us would sit there and eat one basket of fries and drink one glass of tea. And they never did throw us out; I mean, they were good hearted about it; so that was a favorite place.

[7:41] Let's see, Sloan's drug store, which is where Spanky's is now, it was a favorite spot that had a soda fountain and couple of real cool older guys that we just thought were the hottest things ever, I don't mean hot in that sense but they were just cool guys and so we would like to go in there and hang out with them. And they were the "soda jerks," that is what they used to call people that worked at the soda fountain.

Interviewer: [8:11] Do you have any specific memories about sitting in there, like one night at the Rathskeller or anything that stood out?

Robert: [8:18] I would say not; there were so many. I guess, there was one time when we went in during exams at Chapel Hill High. We actually were allowed to go off campus to eat lunch during the exam periods. And we went down and had lunch down there one time and we ordered this pig pizza and first thing that happened when it came out is I picked up the Parmesan cheese container and just sprinkled sugar all over the pizza, thinking it was Parmesan cheese. And we all took a bite and just about that and the waiter was very nice, Ulysses Cozart. Cozart was the waiter that day as I recall and he went and got us another pizza and threw that one in the tray. But yeah, all those guys at the Rath were cool and squeaky and Cozart and Pops, you know, all those old waiters that are probably long since gone.

[9:20] There was another great place in Chapel Hill back then called the Porthole and of course they still call that Porthole Alley, but let me see, what was the waiter's name that was such a great friend, gosh I can't even remember now; it is bad when you get old and you forget all these names.

Interviewer: [9:41] We might come back while we have you.

Robert: [9:44] Yeah. They had the greatest yeast rolls at the Porthole that was what everybody went there for and they were sort of famous for their yeast rolls that they would bring with little things of apple jelly and butter and you would mix up kind of an apple butter right there on your plate and put it on those yeast rolls, didn't matter if the food was good, the rolls were great.

Interviewer: [10:06] They were all that matters.

Robert: [10:07] All that matters, all that matters.

Interviewer: [10:10] Now, you worked with the Downtown Commission and I have read that you were also pretty instrumental in helping get a lot of the murals done Downtown, I wonder if you could talk a little bit about that?

Robert: [10:22] Sure. When I started with the Downtown Commission, I had been running my family's dry cleaning business down there, which my dad and my mom started back in 1947. And so, after I sold it back, I guess, in 1990, I went to work with the Downtown Commission and sort of took on the arch Downtown project, which was a program that had started the year before where they worked with public school children, high school students and middle school students, and Michael Brown, who is the artist for all those murals.

[11:04] And Michael would come up with an idea. We would pick a wall. He would come up with several ideas around the idea and we would of course have to go to the property owner and get permission. I guess, my role in all of that other than sort of an organizational thing was to raise the money. I pretty much went out and wrote letters and called on people and raised the money for those murals. And it was a great project and I enjoyed it immensely.

[11:40] And actually some of the ideas were... I would give Michael a little bird of an idea and he would take it and run with it. I always claimed credit for the one in the Porthole Alley, the one that is painted on the Carolina Coffee Shop because I said, "Michael, if you think about it, this alley way is the main gateway to the university and to the Downtown and over the last 100 years or however long these buildings and this alley have existed, the parade of students and town folks up and down this alley has just been incredible and what about a parade."

[12:18] And I said, "On one side of the building, we will put the parade and you can have marching bands, whatever you want to do and on the other side you can paint all the spectators and the spectators will be half the size of the people in the parade." And he said, "Well, why would you do that?" And I said, "Because life is not a spectator's board and if you are involved in it, it is a lot bigger than if you just stand on the sideline and watch."

[12:45] And he liked that idea and we never did get permission from the university to paint the other side of the alley, but maybe someday Michael can pull that off. But, of course he came up with the notion of using the way you made prints take off on the circus train, which was just such a great idea and that was such a great mural because as he was painting it, that massive humanity continued to walk by everyday.

[13:13] And he tells the story about a woman came by and she said, "You don't have any pregnant woman on there." And she was pregnant herself and so he said, "Can you stand there just a minute?" And he kind of sketched her out and painted her on the wall and another day a guy came by in a wheelchair and he said, "You don't have any handicapped people in here and he says, "Well, can you just sit there a minute?" And he sketched him out and there is a guy in a wheelchair and so people would come by and they would say, "Oh you need to put so and so in there and he would. But, that was one of my favorites. People complained because it was monochromic ...

Interviewer: [13:53] Monochromatic.

Robert: [13:54] It was one color [laughter] paint in the color, I said "You needed to paint in the color, you need to give me more money." And I said "We couldn't afford color on that one." So, that was fun mural. And I always liked the one in the Borris Dee Alley too, because that was... the whole idea of a jigsaw puzzle and then we came up with the idea of putting puzzle pieces all over town, as if they were the missing puzzle. Because anytime you put together a jigsaw puzzle, there is always missing pieces and so we spread them out all over Chapel Hill. And even last weekend, I was in Carboro at Cliff's Meat Market parked in the back and there was one of the puzzle pieces on the back of Cliff's and I had forgotten that there was even down there, but I had to laugh when I saw that.

Interviewer: [14:43] I have seen like one extra piece on other side of the building, but I didn't [inaudible] they were scattered all over?

Robert: [14:51] Well, I don't know how many of them are still around because some of them have actually been painted over as people paint their buildings and stuff. And of course, I like the Big Hands mural that was actually our dry cleaning building and that was the year before we sold the dry cleaners. And that was kind of my goodbye to the business world is to let Michael paint that mural.

[15:18] There is a funny story about that mural because he came up with the idea of the hands and I don't if you are familiar with that mural, but it is thousands of little hand prints, mostly children, but in the larger scale, you see four large hand prints in the sort of the theme or idea, that is with lots of little hands working together, we can get great big things done. And are you going to edit this?

Interviewer: [15:45] Yeah. I can ...

Robert: [15:48] OK. Because my idea for Michael was, "Michael, how about instead of hand prints if we do butt prints, we just let people sit in the paint and put their butt prints on the wall and then we can have some great big butt prints that you can paint and so the idea there is we will call it the Chapel Hill Town Council." [laughs] Michael said, "I think, we'd both be right out of town." I said, "Yeah, probably but ..."

Interviewer: [16:16] Oh, when did you go back to the dry cleaning business, did you grow up working on Franklin Street too?

Robert: [16:21] Oh yeah, in fact I was born into a house.... I have actually used this sort of introduction of myself to the town council. I have spoken in my capacity as Downtown Commission head, I was constantly giving talks to the Downtown Commission and I would usually get up there, especially if there were new council members. I would say that I was born in a house that was one block north of Franklin Street, and then I was five years old, we moved to a house that was one block south of Franklin Street. And I was born into the cradle role at the Baptist Church on Franklin Street as well as my mother, and was baptized in that church, was marred twice there to the same woman and her ashes reside in the corner.

[17:10] And so my grandmother on my mother's side was part of the Forrester's family. They have Forrester's camera store, which was a very old Chapel Hill business and very well-respected family. My grandmother on my father's side came to Chapel Hill after her husband died to raise her children and did so by running a boarding house where the Ackland Art Museum is now called the Archer House. And she was provided room aboard for all the male students of the day, because there weren't any female students back then. And she would talk about all the great people of our state, really the leaders of our state, the governor and everybody else, and talk about when they were her students. They were in her boarding house.

[18:00] One old story I remember that - I am getting off your subject and I don't mean to do that - but the one story I remember her telling was Leo Jenkins, who was President of East Carolina College, back in the sixties, I guess it was. He was trying to get a med school started at East Carolina. Of course, the people here at UNC Chapel Hill didn't want another med school in North Carolina, because we thought we were doing the job here.

[18:26] So, there was a lot of political fighting over the med school at East Carolina. The people in Chapel Hill just didn't approve of Leo Jenkins. And my grandmother always said, "Well, he was a sniveling little bastard when he was in my boarding house and he hadn't changed a bit!" But, they still got the med school down there, and I am sure that's a good thing.

[18:50] But anyway, yeah, I grew up working on Franklin Street in the family business, which was a dry-cleaner's and a laundromat in East Franklin Street. Then one night, Dad died. I took over and ran it until 1990. Actually, had a fire in the laundromat and rebuilt it, and that was a mistake. It sort of drove the whole business down. Actually, made bad business decisions that cost me that business, and we had to sell it in 1990. That's when I went to work with the Downtown Commission.

Interviewer: [19:23] What did it look like?

Robert: [19:25] Not unlike it looks now. Certainly, where Bank of America is now, there was a little small two story building, just like all the other storefronts there. University Square was an old elementary school where I went to first grade. Then, I went to junior high school there, and then I went to high school next door, Chapel Hill High School. That was all rather, sort of low, two story at most, buildings.

[19:59] Other than the height of the buildings, downtown Chapel Hill hadn't changed that much. Now, in the very earliest days, the street was much narrower. We had angled parking, which was very nice. I guess, actually, the streets weren't that much narrower; it's just that we had angled parking. It took up those extra two lanes that now exist when they put in parallel parking. They did widen the street down there in front of the high school when I was in high school.

[20:34] Of course, Bell Leggat Hoarden was the big department store across from where University Square is now. That's where everybody shopped. You had the Roses. Back in my childhood, you had like five men's stores on Franklin Street. You had three grocery stores. You had seven or eight gas stations, full-service service stations. You had a full-service in-house bakery. But, of course, in those days, everything was downtown Chapel Hill.

[21:22] I think in my lifetime, I do remember as a small child, going to Glen Links, because that was built in the early fifties, to accommodate the servicemen coming back to take care of the GI bill; and they go to school, and that kind of thing. As was Victory Village was a little cardboard... They bought cardboard houses from government surplus, and they built them out by the hospital, in an area called Victory Village. That was where all the returning servicemen, in the forties, had come back to live with their families, while they went to school and do the GI bill. So, those places were still there.

[22:03] The campus, of course, the parts at least that were right downtown, was pretty much the same as they are now. There have been a couple of new buildings built, but most of the construction on the campus has been on the other side of Cameron Avenue, and not between Cameron and Franklin. So, that section has remained relatively the same.

[22:33] Let's see, what else? I always tell people that... people say, "Oh, you have lived in Chapel Hill all these years." I am 60 years old now. They say, "You must have really seen Chapel Hill change. It's really changed." I say, "Well, it certainly gotten bigger, but then so have I." But, it is still pretty much the same community it was that I grew up in. I think, the character of the community, the personality of the community is still very much like it was when I was a kid growing up here. There's just more people to love. [laughs]

[23:13] It's sad to think though that in those days, we had a full-service bakery, and the town supported that, and it was able to survive. Now, we don't even have a bakery. Of course we just got a new one in Sugar Land, and some other things. But, there are places where you can go Hair Stealer, and you can go to Southern Seasons, and you can buy all the fresh baked goods. But, they are not really fresh baked goods, they are frozen baked goods that are put in an oven and cooked in that site, but anyway, I don't want to get off on that topic.

Interviewer: [23:51] It has been interesting, because I have talked with people about the University. I have talked with some merchants, and then, long time natives. It is kind of interesting to see how everybody's perceptions of downtown overlap and how it has changed.

Robert: [24:09] Do they think like I do, or do they have different opinions?

Interviewer: [24:12] No, almost... I mean, there is various levels of how much it's... If you talk to some merchants, it is going to pot. If you talk to some people who have been here a long time, it cycles.

Robert: [24:27] Have you had merchants tell you it is going to pot?

Interviewer: [24:29] Not quite to pot. It is more that it is... I think, people will give different reasons for how the communities change, whether it is, suddenly it became four lane, people go through too fast, or students at the University aren't as active and engage in their malls, or absentee landlords. It is all sorts of different reasons, but they are all tied to what their experience is. It has been kind of interesting to talk to people.

Robert: [24:59] Yes, I know all those excuses [crosstalk]. I have heard them all.

Interviewer: [25:05] Yes. Now, I am really glad that you walked me through, but when I said what it looked like, I actually meant the Laundromat.

Robert: [25:11] Oh, the Laundromat? Oh, it was a long narrow building that was about 20 feet wide and 120 feet long. It had one row of washing machines down one side, and towards the back it had a row of dryers, big dryers. It was open 24x7. We didn't even have a key for the front door. We had a little office in there where we picked up dry-cleaning. People could drop their dry-cleaning off. That would lock up, of course, at night.

[25:50] One of the funny stories I always tell about that is, there was a guy in town who was known for his use of Robitussin as an elixir. He stayed high all the time on Robitussin, because it was very high in alcohol content. It turned out that he was living in the back of our Laundromat and we didn't know it. He had kind of figured a way to get the door open back where we keep the brooms and stuff. There was a little section almost like a little attic that we never went into, and he had gone up there and he had a bed and a lamp.

[26:31] I mean, he just was set up, and he would go in there and get in that room at night and go to sleep. It was... how long he lived in there! People had always talked about him being bad because he was high all the time on Robitussin.

[26:47] I always try to say nice things about people, so I said, "Well, you know, you can say all you want to about him but you never did hear him cough." He never did cough.

Interviewer: [27:15] [laughs] I was wondering how old were you? Were you older when you figured out that he was living in the back? Or was it something that your parents -

Robert: [27:24] Oh no, I was like in high school or something. Yeah, this was a long time ago.

[27:31] I can't remember how we discovered him. I think, he overslept one morning and the person came into open up. But, he was a friendly guy and we knew him and he hung out in there. He hung out with the people that worked in there and stuff. Everybody in town knew him. He was a carpenter actually.

[27:50] Since then, I will say - if anybody hears this that knows who I'm talking about, I won't give his name - he has straightened out and I understand he is a very productive citizen right now. But, I haven't seen him in years. But, I understand he kicked the habit and is actually doing very well now.

[28:05] But I think, somebody came in one day, one of the workers to open the office and heard him stirring up there and went back and went back in the washroom or the mop room and stuff and saw him coming down out of the little attic and said, "What the heck are you doing?"

[28:28] We had a homeless woman living in there one time. This is after we started locking the place up. We would go in and had somebody to go in at 11 or 12 o'clock. A lot of times it was me. This was after I had kind of taken over the business after my Dad died.

[28:45] There was this homeless woman. She didn't have any place to go. We just let her sleep in there. She would just sleep on one of the tables. She kind of had her little blankets and stuff and we had these big folding tables. She would just kind of climb up there. We would go into lockup and we would say, "Well, if you need to get out, you know, the back door? All you have got to do is open it and you can go out if there's a fire or whatever."

[29:15] There was a bathroom in there. So, she was content. She would get up and leave before we came in in the mornings, so it was cool.

[29:24] But then, we had to finally put a stop to it because somebody broke in there and raped her one night. It was really sad. After that we just told her, we said, "We can't have you staying here anymore." So, I don't know what happened to her after that.

Interviewer: [29:38] Now, the homeless problem is one thing that hasn't really come up in a lot of these interviews because people tend to remember other things. Has the shelter always been located where it was at?

Robert: [29:52] No, the shelter was something that came about... I want to say probably in the '80s. I don't remember exactly and I may be off a bunch of years. I don't know.

[30:08] But, I can certainly remember I was running the business, running the dry cleaning business at the time. There was a huge fight from the downtown merchant group, which was not the Downtown Commission. It was actually the Downtown Chapel Hill Association, which was the forerunner of the Commission.

[30:29] Mickey Yule that owned Spanky's was the president of that group. He was the one that bore the brunt of criticism of the downtown group, but just said, "Look, we don't want this downtown. It's just not something that's going to be conducive to what we are trying to do down here and trying to do business."

[30:51] But, it was a foregone conclusion that it was going to be there. The people that had made up their minds that it was going to be there were not going to be put off. So, it got built.

[31:06] I had a customer of mine at the cleaners one time and we got to talking about it. She said, "Well, I used to love to go in Spanky's, but ever since that Mickey Yule came out against the shelter," she said, "and tried to stop it from being opened up," she said, "I won't even go in there and eat."

[31:24] I said, "Well Miss so-and-so, here is your dry-cleaning back. You'd better go find you another dry cleaner because I didn't want it down there either."

[31:32] She said, "You didn't?"

[31:33] I said, "No." I said, "It's not good for business. We are down here trying to run a business in what is the heart and soul of Chapel Hill. Now, maybe, it's heartless to say that we don't want to invite the homeless people down here, but what we have just done is put up a June bug trap in our yard. The best way you can get rid of June bugs is to give your neighbor a June bug trap, because a June bug trap attracts June bugs to your yard. They will eat everything in sight.

[32:06] "It doesn't do away with the June bug problem in your yard. It attracts more."

[32:10] And we saw the result of this. I remember being at a party one night and a woman who was a very staunch volunteer and supporter of the shelter had had a little too much to drink that night and wanted to engage me in an argument about the shelter.

[32:28] I was just doing everything I could to avoid her because it was a social setting. I didn't want to get into it. She was not up to her speed because of the alcohol she had had.

[32:40] She said, "Robert, you just don't understand. We've got people in there from West Virginia and South Carolina and Tennessee."

[32:47] I said, "That has been exactly our point. We have no problem with helping the people in need that are in our community. But, why do we want to have a place that invites people from South Carolina and Virginia and West Virginia and all those places you just named? Why is it we are going to take on their ills? We have got enough of our own ills."

[33:11] We heard there were people, homeless people in Atlanta and other cities that had signs that said, "Go to Chapel Hill. They've got one of the best homeless shelters on the East Coast." And it's still there.

[33:28] I don't think that that has... that certainly hasn't lead to any great demise. But, it doesn't help. It is certainly a huge hurdle that people have to get over to go down there.

[33:47] I can remember 10 years ago going to New York City and spending four days. In four days, I had two people shake a cup in my direction with change in it, panhandling. They never said a word to me. They didn't step in front of me. They didn't ask me for a thing. They just shook their cup to see if I would give them change.

[34:12] I got back to Chapel Hill. My office at the time was in the back of Bank of America Plaza. On my first day back in Chapel Hill, and as Director of the Downtown Commission, I walked from Bank of America to Spanky's to go to lunch one day in the rain. I had six people get in front of me and ask me for money.

[34:37] It's the same six that asked me every day. I told them as politely as possible, just like I did every day, "No. I don't give money to panhandlers." They knew me but they would ask me every time that I walked by.

[34:51] But, in four days in New York City, I had two people shake a cup. In the rain, in a half a block I had six people ask me for money. That's when I said, "I'm not going to say it out loud. But, we may have a problem."

[35:10] One of my big things when I was at the Downtown Commission was PDA. I wrote every newsletter, every email I sent out, every conversation I had with people, I would always end it with, "Remember PDA."

[35:27] My merchants down there knew what PDA was. That's a positive downtown attitude. We saw, oh too many times reporters would come in and be badgering somebody for a story - no offense meant to you, but you know what I'm saying - and they would say something that they really shouldn't have said. And then, it'd come out in the paper.

Interviewer: [35:49] A sound bite.

Robert: [35:51] Yeah. Because that's what they were looking for.

[35:54] There was a little market down on West Franklin one time, when the Cat's Cradle was there, and there had been a huge fight outside of the Cat's Cradle one night, and some gunshots were fired. And the owner of that little market said, "It's like a war zone! We've got to do something! Downtown is like a war zone down here!" And I went to him and I said, "Are you stupid? Do you realize how many hundreds of people you just told not to ever come downtown again? And do you know how many thousands of dollars it would take us in marketing to ever undo what that one quote just did?"

[36:34] And so, that's when we started doing a positive downtown attitude, because you can't have the people that are down there saying negative things. And that's one of the biggest things that I have been concerned about since I left was that the attitude about downtown, the public attitude, the words coming out are not always positive. And I wouldn't tell you a lie when I was there, but I sure would make everything sound good.

[37:10] If there was violence on the street, and they called me and said, "What do you think about this violence on the street?" I'd just say to the reporter, "What time did it take place?" "Three o'clock in the morning."

[37:22] "Well, you know what? I'm at home in bed, like most common citizens that come to downtown Chapel Hill and enjoy it. Most of the people that live in this community are in bed at three o'clock in the morning, so as far as, is downtown safe? Well, maybe, not at three in the morning, but what difference does it make to that little old lady?" So, you can always put a positive spin on something.

[37:46] Oh, gosh. There's lots. Characters. George "Cat Baby" Canada, who was actually from Carrboro. In those days, we said he was retarded. I guess now, he'd be mentally challenged. But, he was just a friend to everybody. Everybody called him "Cat Baby" because he called everybody "Cat Baby." And you'd see him across the street, and you'd say, "Cat Baby!" And he'd say, "What do you say, cat?" And there's a million "Cat Baby" stories, and if you got a bunch of us old-timer started, you'd hear most of them. But, he was a great guy.

[38:29] Manning Alexander Simmons, he was an old, eccentric multimillionaire that had one suit, because he couldn't wear, but one at a time. And my dad actually would take him out when his suit would start getting tattered and torn and take him down to Milton's Clothing Cupboard and help him pick out a new suit.

[38:54] And he had a thing for flies. He hated flies, and so he would buy a case every spring of flyswatters from Knight and Campbell Hardware. And you'd see him walking up and down the street swatting flies on the trees and storefronts. And it wasn't enough to just hit one. Once it fell to the ground, he had to mash it into the sidewalk with his foot [laughs] to make sure ... I don't know why he had such a phobia of flies, but he couldn't stand flies.

[39:20] He was an interesting character. And when he died, his estate was worth millions and millions of dollars. He was from a very well-to-do Charleston family, and the last of his line, or the last of his family. Interesting guy.

Interviewer: [39:35] Where did he live?

Robert: [39:37] Well, he had a house, actually, over off of Cameron Avenue. It's kind of a famous house. And I can't tell you exactly where it is, but I could take you to it. But, it was an old, wooden house, like many of the houses on that street, and he decided he would build a brick house around it. So, he went out about eight feet from the house, and he built a brick shell. And they actually say that he kept chickens between the brick portion and the wood portion of the house. He kept chickens in there.

[40:13] And even though he was a millionaire, you would see him... Now, I never saw him do this. This was before my time. But, they said he would come downtown with a basket of eggs and go around selling fresh eggs from his chickens that were in the house. Now, I actually went to a party not too many years ago in that house, and there is still a brick facade completely surrounding that wooden house, and so it's like this little outdoor courtyard kind of thing. It was really cool, but it was like he never finished it or something. I don't know. But, he lived over there.

[40:48] And let's see. Who were some of the other characters, or special memories? I don't know. I probably oughtn't tell this. But, I remember when the civil rights demonstrations started in the '60s, and I was a high school student at the time. And of course, Chapel Hill didn't know quite what to do with that. The schools were already integrated, sort of symbolically, I guess. I mean, they had a "right to choose" policy or whatever, that parents could choose what school they wanted their children to go to.

[41:39] So, there were a number of black students in Chapel Hill High School and Middle School. But, this was not just about integration. It was about the whole civil rights movement and access to restaurants and restrooms and water fountains and the whole thing.

[41:57] And one sort of funny thing that came out of that, to me, was Chapel Hill was having to deal with it, and what do you do when you've got 40 people blocking the intersection at Franklin and Henderson, and you've got to arrest them all? You can't put them all in police cars. So, they needed a paddywagon. So, they went and they bought an old "Tip-Top Bread" truck, which delivered bread. Big, old struck - not a big tractor trailer, but a delivery truck.

[42:30] And they painted it black and put "Police" on the side. But they didn't take the "Tip Top Bread" sign off the side, [laughs] and you could see it through the black paint. [laughs] And I just thought that was so funny that they're picking these demonstrators up and kind of tossing them in the back of this old bread truck, and you could still see "Tip-Top Bread" on the side. I always thought that was funny.

[42:55] But, oh, I guess, it's been five or six years ago. And when I was at the commission, I used to give tours of the campus. And I had a group call me from Rutgers University up in... where's that, Baltimore? Somewhere out of Baltimore. Or New Jersey. Rutgers?

[43:18] But, this group called, and they were from Rutgers, and they were going to be in town with their chorale. And they were taking a southern tour. It was in early January, and they were going to be singing on Friday night in Greenville, and then on Sunday at Duke Chapel. And so, on Saturday, they wanted a tour. And they called me months before, and they wanted about a three-hour tour, and I said, "Sure. I'll be happy to do that."

[43:52] And I had planned, if it was a pretty day, we'd walk the campus. If it was a rainy day, we'd get on their bus and I'd just take them on a riding tour. And I figured I'd take them to Wilson Library and show them the North Carolina Collection and let their docents do the tour down there, and then I'd take them to Ackland Art Museum and let their docents do their tour in there, and then an hour or so walking around the campus, and that'd be enough. So, I agreed to do the tour for them.

So, Wilson Library is closed on Saturday, and Ackland doesn't have docents on Saturday. I'm like, "Y'all aren't very helpful." But, anyway. So, I'd committed to this tour, so I had to talk to these kids for three hours. I told my wife: [44:19] I said, "I don't know what in the world I'm going to do talking to these kids for three hours. I don't know how I'm going to keep them engaged for three hours." And she said, "Oh, don't worry about it. You'll be fine." And of course, what was I thinking? I mean, you know, I can talk to a post for three and a half hours, or a tape recorder for that matter.

[44:52] So, it was fine. But, because they were a singing group, I told them, I said, "OK. What we're going to do is we're going to go to every performance venue on campus and eventually we'll find a stage that's available and I want you all to sing for me. You know, I'm going to take you on this tour, but I want you to sing for me."

[45:09] So, we went to every performance venue. Every one had somebody rehearsing or performing and so, didn't get to hear them sing. Took them back to an art museum, kind of let them do their thing by themselves. Then, we're coming back across campus and we're going to go back to the bus. Tours about over.

[45:29] We pass the Davie Poplar with the bench out front. Which I have always thought was the Caldwell bench. I've been corrected. But, it's not the Caldwell bench, but I always called it that. So, as we're approaching the Caldwell bench, my name for it, and there's fifty kids in this group. So, I have to scream everything.

[45:51] I said, "OK! Everybody! Direct your attention over to the right," and I tell them the story of the Davie Poplar. And I say, "At the base of the Davie Poplar is the Caldwell bench and it is said that if you propose marriage on the bench, then it ensures that your wedding and your marriage will be a long and happy and fruitful one."

[46:12] And about that time, I turn around and there's a couple sitting on the bench. I said, "I hope I didn't just make this couple nervous." Well, the girl holds up her finger and the guy has just that moment proposed to her. I looked and I went, oh my God, you know. I said to the guy, I said, "Did you already ask her? Are we late?" And he looks at me and he says, "Yeah, I just gave her the ring. I just asked her."

[46:43] I looked at her and I said, "I am so sorry we are late. But, he has gone to great lengths to ensure that this is a wonderful day for you. If you'll just give me a minute to get the group together." I turned around and said to the director, I said, "You give me a song and you make it appropriate and let's do this thing right now."

[47:02] And that choir, he calls up and all and they started singing. I don't even know what the song was. They said it was an old Quaker hymn or something but it was, "Woo-ooo ooo." Fifty voices and it was just wafting across McCorkle Place. It was the most beautiful thing you've ever heard.

[47:21] The director's crying, the bus driver's crying. The kids are crying. I'm getting teary eyed. The couple on the bench is getting teary eyed. She's called her mother on her cell phone, she's holding the cell phone up so her mother can hear, and it's just the most surreal moment ever. And he's just sitting there, poor guy, dumbfounded you know, but he's taking it all in.

[47:43] And when they got through singing, I turned to the chorus and I said, "Everybody turn to your left, walk away, not a sound." Everybody turned to their left and walked off, and as the last one passed - I was kind of taking up the rear - I turned to the couple and I said, "Well, we hope that your marriage will be a long and happy one and we're glad we could be a part of this day." And we walked off.

[48:09] We got down almost to the planetarium and there was this one girl who had been very, you know she was a talkative person and she and I'd gotten along real good and had a lot of conversations. She was kind of leading the back. Finally, she just burst out, she said, "Oh my God, that was so cool!" They all just went [bararara] and started laughing and talking.

[48:30] I said, "Boy, that couple is never going to forget that day." And those visitors to UNC will always remember UNC. Because that was a cool day. That was a cool day.

Robert: [48:48] What else do you want to know? God, I can go on for days.

Interviewer: [48:56] I've been asking some people about specific places where I haven't found stories yet. Then, I've talked to a couple people about different events. I have a story about the speaker ban and some of the civil rights demonstrations. But, there's always certain things I haven't found yet ... Did you do your undergrad at Carolina?

Robert: [49:22] I did not. I went to Campbell College. Like most young people, when I graduated from high school, I just... It was about getting out of town and getting away from this place. And yet, Campbell College is 60 miles away. Of course, it's Campbell University now. Being 60 miles away and being as how my girlfriend was still in Chapel Hill, you know, I came home every weekend.

[49:49] But, most of the kids that went to Campbell went home on the weekends. There wasn't a lot going on on the weekends. There was one guy who was from Pennsylvania and he never got to go home. Finally, we started carrying him home with us. You know, different guys in the suite. But, he would always get stuck behind and we felt kind of bad about that. But yeah, I mean, as much as I wanted to get away I always wanted to come back.

Interviewer: [50:20] That was a high school girlfriend?

Robert: [50:22] Yeah, my high school girlfriend. We started dating, she was a junior and I was a sophomore. Then, we got married and had two sons. And she got cancer in 1992 and died in two months. So, and she was diagnosed on our younger son's 18th birthday. I had to tell him that his mother had cancer. So, it was a hard thing to go through, but we made it and we had Chapel Hill support. People kind of pulled together and helped us out of that, helped us through that. That was when you learn what the community's really about.

[51:10] You know, I always pointed to those times because if you'll remember, I sold my business in 1990-1991, and then she died in 1992. So, it was not a real fruitful time for us financially and otherwise and the community really came together. That's why I said we're always out to help the people that are part of the community, but why do we have to invite others in? That was my point earlier. Not to bring it around back to that. But yeah, I always appreciated the support I got from the entire community.

Interviewer: [51:50] But, your courtship was pretty much in Chapel Hill?

Robert: [51:53] Oh yeah, for sure, for sure. In fact, you know I said I used to do campus tours and town tours. There was a program that we had in the downtown commission years ago that we had a couple of downtown trolleys. They've since bitten the dust. But, there was a program we started with the preservation society to do historical tours every Wednesday afternoon. I used to do a lot of those tours. And you know, I read through it and pretty much committed it to memory and would just give it kind of on the fly. So one day, one of the first tours I gave, my wife actually took it. I said, "Come on, take the tour. See how I do."

[52:58] So, she's sitting in the very back of the trolly and we come by the arboretum and I tell them all about it. It's a 105 acre area that in the earlier days of the university was a grassy, swampy bog where the university grazed its animals. Then, William Coker came in, he was a botanist at the turn of the last century. He pretty much drained the bog and created the arboretum that we have today and planted indigenous plants to North Carolina.

[53:29] I don't want to give you the tour of the arboretum, but you know, I'd say all that stuff. And I would usually end by saying, "And it's a great place if you're a young man in love, it's a great place to take a date in the spring time." And my wife's sitting on the back row of the trolley said, "Yeah, and it's cheap, too, just like you!" [laughs] And of course, I had introduced her earlier to the crowd, so they knew who she was, and they all got a big kick out of that.

[53:57] But, in those tours, I would start out by saying that I'd grown up in Chapel Hill, lived their all my life, and that I knew that there would be some things throughout the tour that some of the people taking the tour might know more than I knew, and they might actually catch me in a mistake. But, I would always say, "If you hear me say something that's wrong, please wait and point it out to me at the end of the tour, because the rest of the people don't know it - they won't know the difference - and I don't want you to publicly embarrass me." [laughs] So, I always had great fun doing those tours.

Interviewer: [54:31] Does a script of that tour still exist?

Robert: [54:34] I'm sure it does, but I don't know if I've still got a copy somewhere or not. Probably would never be able to find it, but I'm sure it exists with the Preservation Society because they were the ones that did it.

[54:52] I can't believe I don't remember the lady's name that wrote it. Of course, the problem with finding it would be that there's not anybody at the Preservation Society that was there back in those days, I don't think, or not anybody involved. So, you might have trouble finding it.

[55:08] What was that lady's name? She had a daughter that was a friend of my son's. He'll remember. But, that doesn't do us any good today.

Interviewer: [55:16] Well, if you think of it, you can always email me.

[55:19] Were the sock hops still going on in the high school when you guys were going through?

Robert: [55:22] Oh yeah. Oh yeah. Yeah. We had sock hops at the gym over there on Franklin Street. I remember there were times... As the days got warmer, of course, the big thing back then was not wearing socks. That was very popular, to wear your Weejuns without socks. And they'd still make you take your shoes off and go barefooted.

[55:44] Of course, after walking around, sometimes, without socks all day long, your feet would get dirty. And we'd go over to Obie Davis's Exxon station, which, only recently, in the last couple of years, closed up. But, we'd go there and wash our feet in the sink [laughs] in the men's bathroom so that our feet wouldn't be all nasty [laughs] when we went in the sock hop. But, anyway.

[56:09] Yeah, the sock hops were great. I remember, we brought in "Shout" by the Isley Brothers and put it on, and we never did understand why they wouldn't let us play it. And "Louie, Louie." They wouldn't let us play "Louie, Louie" at the sock hops, because nobody knew what the words were to "Louie, Louie," and so they just assumed they had to be dirty. [laughs]

And of course, in "Shout," the only line in there that's bad is, "You make me want to shout, zip my pants up and shout, throw my hands out and shout." That's all it was: [56:34] "Zip my pants up and shout." [laughs] That's the bad line in there that just freaked everybody out.

[56:51] Yeah, they were great fun, and the junior-senior proms in the old gym up there. And the Kiwanis pancake sale started in the cafeteria up there. There was even, behind that school, in the early days, a roller-skating rink,' where kids would bring their strap-on roller skates and skate around that thing. We used to play hockey with old golf clubs that we'd get from the thrift shop or something. So that was fun, those old strap-on roller skates that I don't even think you can buy anymore. Maybe you can.

Interviewer: [57:32] Now, they've got them built into the tennis shoes.

Interviewer: [57:42] So, if you were walking in the gym, decorated for a sock hop, would it have been decorated?

Robert: [57:48] It wouldn't have been for a sock hop. Of course, sock hop, because you had to take your shoes off because you couldn't walk on the gym floor. But, the junior-senior proms, I mean, that was a big deal, where the juniors would spend a week.

[57:59] I remember, my junior year, I was heavily involved. We had the "Wizard of Oz" theme, and so we made a hot-air balloon for the bandstand, and we took a parachute and hung it upside-down so that it looked like a hot-air balloon coming down. It was a lot of fun, decorating, and then tearing it down, too.

[58:22] That was the year... of course, the prom would be on Friday night, and then everybody would go to the beach on Saturday. So, we got a jump on it. We drove all night long and got down to the beach, and I was just exhausted. And I went out on the beach and went to sleep. And of course, I don't get a lot of sun now; I didn't get a lot of sun back then. But, I went to sleep and slept for about three hours, and the jets from the air base would fly over. They'd wake me up, and I'd roll over, which made me evenly basted on all sides.

[58:57] And I was supposed to hook up with my girlfriend, later my wife, and I was supposed to go out with her that night or hook up with her that afternoon. And when I finally got up to the cottage that they were staying in - we were in Myrtle Beach, and they were in North Myrtle - and I drove up there to her, and she was like, "Where have you been?"

[59:17] And I just looked at her, and she saw how red I was, and I couldn't bring my arms to my side. I mean, I was the most miserable I've ever been. And she said, "Oh, you poor baby! What happened?" [laughs] So, she forgave me pretty quick for not showing up when I was supposed to. She was pretty used to me not showing up when I was supposed to. But, that was in the early days, so maybe that was before she got used to it.

Interviewer: [59:43] You said Cheryl Jernigan?

Robert: [59:45] Yeah. She's actually getting ready to open a new store. She just turned 60 yesterday. And our band played for her 60th birthday party last Saturday night, her and Amy Rabb. Amy Rabb's dad was Coach Rabb, who coached the baseball team here for about 30 years.

[60:02] Cheryl Jernigan's mom and dad ran Thell's Bakery, which was the full-service bakery that was on the street, so she grew up on Franklin Street. And she has lived all over the world and has now moved back here. And she's getting ready to open an art gallery, antique, kind of high-end store, right there next Sugarland.

Interviewer: [60:25] On Franklin Street? Oh, that's what's going in beside it, on the other side of Schoolkids...

Robert: [60:29] Uh-huh. That's what's going in, yeah. Yeah. And I got to meet Ben Long. Do you know who Ben Long is?

Interviewer: [60:32] Uh-uh.

Robert: [60:33] Thank you for not knowing, because I didn't know either.

Interviewer: [60:36] OK. [laughs]

Robert: [60:36] And when I asked who he was, there were two or three people standing there that all laughed at me like I was some kind of idiot. And they said, "This is Ben Long!" And I said, "Well, who's Ben Long?" And they all just laughed at me, and they were making fun of me. And I was kind of offended by it. Which I'm not offended often, but I kind of was like, "Well, I don't know who he is." I told him later, I said, "I'm sorry I don't know you." I said, "But you don't know me either, so that makes us even."

Interviewer: [61:04] [laughs]

Robert: [61:06] He is one of the world's most renowned painters, from up in Asheville. I mean, incredible. They had his art hanging on the wall, the most incredible stuff you can imagine. They had one picture that was $20,000. Of course, my keyboard player, asking later - because he was very taken by this particular nude painting - and he said, "How long ago did you paint that?" And the artist said, "Well, it's been a while ago." And I started to say, "Well, it might be time to cut your price. [laughs] You knock it down $10,000 or so, you would likely sell it." But, I didn't say that to him.

[61:46] But anyway, they're going to open a really nice place there, which is great, because Sugarland's a great place. The coffee shop's still a great, old place. Even though it's been changed over the years, it's pretty much kept.

Interviewer: [62:02] Now, will the gallery go into the full part of Schoolkids, or just that one half that Schoolkids used to be in?

Robert: [62:07] The one half that Schoolkids used to be in, although there was some discussion Saturday night. When I was talking to them about what their plans were, there was some discussion that they might actually negotiate and take over the whole thing, which would be very nice. It's going to be a very nice store, and I certainly wish them well.

[62:31] It's funny, because, when we were unloading our equipment, it was pouring rain, and this couple walked up that knew one of our band members and said, "What are you doing up here?"

[62:41] "Oh, we're going to play in this new store that's getting ready to open. It's a birthday party."

[62:46] "Well, what kind of store is it?"

[62:48] I said, "Well it's an art gallery and an antique shop."

[62:51] "Oh boy, just what we need, another antique shop."

[62:54] I was like, "We don't have any. What a negative thing to say. Why would you say that?"

[63:01] If you get me started on that I might never quit.

Interviewer: [63:03] But, if it was four to five years, you would have been in high school when you started.

Robert: [63:08] Fourteen. Junior high.

Interviewer: [63:11] So, you were playing where?

Robert: [63:13] All over. All over the state. All over the East Coast. In the old days, since we have gotten older we just pretty much play locally - weddings and birthday parties and private parties and such.

[63:28] But, we have done all the fraternity parties and beach clubs and nightclubs and honky-tonks and roadhouses.

Interviewer: [63:38] So, is it beach music?

Robert: [63:40] Mostly beach music. Old soul rhythm and blues, just kind of the top 40 of the last 45 years.

Interviewer: [63:48] And lineup?

Robert: [63:48] No, I'm the only one left from the original group. Guys die. It's terrible. But, they do.

Interviewer: [63:59] [laughs] I didn't mean to laugh at that. It was just your...

[64:00] [laughter]

Robert: [64:04] In fact we had one guy that had been in the band since high school. He decided he was going to quit. Up to that point everybody that had quit the band had died.

[64:14] I said, "Steve, you can't quit the band." I said, "It's like this curse thing man. If you quit the band you might die."

[64:20] He says, "Well I just... I'm getting tired of doing this. I don't want to do it anymore. So, I'll have to take the chance."

[64:26] He is still alive. He has now been out of the group about 20 years. He broke the spell, I guess. But yeah, we have had a lot of the guys die, some that had left the group and some that were still in the group.

[64:39] So yeah, those things happen. It's just the normal ebb and flow of life itself. But still, one of the most fun things that I ever do in my life is getting out and entertaining people.

[64:53] I'm not a musician. I'm a ... I don't know what I am. I play sax, but I don't play it well. You'd think you'd get good after 45 years of doing it, but I never have. I have always maintained that I wasn't a real musician. I don't know what I was.

[65:08] But then, about 10 years ago, I figured out I'm an entertainer. I can get up there and I'm a good front man. I can whip a crowd up into a frenzy. [laughs] But, it's the most fun that I have and I think it keeps me young. It keeps me young below my 60 years.

Interviewer: [65:29] Now, if you started when you were 14 ...

Robert: [65:31] Fourteen.

Interviewer: [65:32] Did you start the band or did somebody else start it?

Robert: [65:34] We started. At the time, I lived on Ward Street, which is where my mom still lives. She turned 96 this Saturday. But, we lived on Ward Street.

[65:47] There was a guy across the street. He played guitar. His brother played drums. There was a guy up the street that played trumpet. Everybody else in the neighborhood just kind of joined in singing or whatever.

[66:00] We finally decided we needed a bass player and Kemp Nye, whose dad owned Kemp's Record Shop - you'll hear that name mentioned I'm sure - his dad was the only one that wanted him to play in a band so that he would buy him a bass guitar and amplifier. So, Kemp's daddy bought him a bass guitar and amp that worked.

[66:21] He couldn't play a lick. So, Bobby Scott taught him how to play. So, he was our bass player for many years.

[66:30] So, it was just a lot of fun. Our first job we played for Jenny McLamrock's 13th or 14th birthday party. It was the first live music that any of our friends had ever had because there weren't any other bands in Chapel Hill then, at least not in the high school.

[66:49] You had Doug Clark and the Hot Nuts who were playing. They had a band called The Jammers that played fraternity parties and we knew all those guys. But, nobody there had ever had a band at a high school or at a junior high party certainly.

[67:02] So, we played her birthday party in a little clubhouse out in Carrboro. We did 10 songs. We played for three hours. We played the same 10 songs over and over and over and over and over again.

[67:16] At the end of the night, her daddy, who was Sandy McClamrock, the Mayor of Chapel Hill at the time, came over and he handed us a $20 bill. We thought this was the greatest thing in the world. We have had all this fun. We have just had the adoration of an entire group of our friends and they gave us money.

[67:41] Boy, I was hooked at that point. I told that story on Sandy one night at the country club. He and his wife Beth were at the country club and I was telling it to a whole group of his friends and my friends.

[67:57] I said, "Sandy, being the great guy that he is, at the end of the night, even though we weren't supposed to get paid, he gave us $20. I have always respected him for that."

[68:07] He pipes up, not wanting to be outdone. He said, "Well Robert, what I have never told you is if you had quit two hours earlier, I'd have given you 50. [laughs]

[68:18] I said, "Well you got me on that one."

[68:21] But, it has been the one constant in my life. I tell people all the time. I said, "I got out of school. I got married. I had babies. I came home after work at the dry cleaners to babies and a wife."

[68:35] I said, "My dry cleaners went away from me. Then, my wife died. My children went to college, grew up and went away, moved to California. They both live in Los Angeles."

[68:45] I said, "Everything has changed except I'm still playing music. And I love it. I wish I was doing it right now."

Interviewer: [68:57] Do you remember what any of the 10 songs were?

Robert: [69:00] I remember one was "La Bamba." One was "What I Say" by Ray Charles. I think one... I probably should really give some thought to that. But, that's all I remember right now, just those.

[69:20] Oh "When the Saints Go Marching In" - that was a biggie. The kids loved that one. They went crazy. "Play that one again."

[69:27] "OK." [laughs]

[69:31] But, we played high school dances, college dances, junior/senior proms, weddings -weddings, weddings, weddings, weddings.

[69:40] I always told the brides when they called me up, if they know that we are and they were familiar with the band, I don't have to be so hard on them, but if these are people who have just been recommended to us or they are just checking us out I always tell them, "Now look. If you want to have a quiet little reception where Aunt Fred and Uncle Shirley get to talk to everybody and visit, you don't want to hire a band.

[70:08] "But, if you want to have a party after your wedding, we'll do you a really good job." I said, "If I sound like I am trying to talk you out of our band it's not that at all. I just want to make sure that we are the kind of band that you want because once we get there, we are what you've got. And we can't change."

[70:27] So, I said, "In 45 years of playing for weddings, I have never disappointed a bride on her wedding night. And I don't intend for you to be the first."

[70:38] So, they respect it and sometimes I don't get the job. But, we have never disappointed a bride on her wedding night.

[70:49] Weddings are great things to play for because everyone is in a really festive, jovial mood. We have played all of the bars and honky-tonks. They are the most fun because it's just so loose. It doesn't matter. You just kind of play and have fun.

[71:07] Boy, I can say some things on the microphone and my wife will say, "Where in the world did you come up with that?" She tells people all the time. She says, "I don't know where he gets this stuff that comes out of his mouth." Half the time I don't know myself, but it just kind of comes out and it's all in the interest of entertaining the crowd. I have said some things that I regret and that have come back to haunt me or bite me in the behind. But, for the most part, I have been pretty safe.