Missy: My name is Missy Julian-Fox, and I literally and truly grew up on Franklin Street here in Chapel Hill. So, our house is about a mile from downtown. I just remember being so tiny, like three. I mean two to four. And if you got up really early, Dad might invite you to walk uptown with him. Even to drive. But to come uptown and have breakfast with Dad. Everybody knew your name, they knew what you were going to order before you sat down.
And we'd go to the post office, and Dad would chat along the way. All the storeowners would be outside washing their windows, sweeping the stoop, sidewalks. And so that early morning, 8:00, would be the visiting the time, seeing what is was like to get ready for your day. And then you would go in and wouldn't emerge for quite a while.
That was just such a treat. Stretching to get the key at the post office. Even now, it is really true, the people in the post office are like, Hi, Missy! Some have changed, some haven't. And, yeah, I hope the post office is the next project on the list for refurbishing, getting all those boxes as pretty and dynamic as they were when I was growing up.
But again, back to what it was like when I was little. The street, for the most part, the heavy commercial district was from where Spanky's is now down to the post office. And there were seven men's stores in this one block. And everybody had a little bit different twist, their own unique way of doing business.
But people marvel at that, because in today's world, how students dress, how professors dress, now travelers dress is very, very different. But Mom and Dad had a crew of part-time college boys that worked in the store. And they became our family. They came over for dinner; they brought their girlfriends.
In those early day, my best friend and I, one of our favorite things were football Saturdays when the girls were invited to spend the weekend. Of course, where were they going to stay? They had to stay in private homes or else momma wouldn't have let them come, and neither would their own girls' school.
So there would just be pallets lined up everywhere in the bedrooms for the girls to come. And we would just... we just thought that was the absolute dreamiest thing. If only you could grow up to be invited to a Carolina football weekend. You brought your own little makeup case and you got to meet all the girls that were sleeping next to you. They'd be from different schools.
The cutest boys would come to pick you up. We couldn't wait to hear their stories. We'd just hang outside the next morning; who did what to who. Who broke up, who fell in love, who wanted to get married. It was just dreamy. There's no other way to describe it. And of course we thought every girl was a beauty queen. And that was really fun.
Interviewer: What was one of your earliest memories?
Missy: On Franklin Street? Really, being in the store and going to breakfast with my dad.
Interviewer: Where did you go for breakfast? Wherever?
Missy: Oh, no. Actually, we always went to Sutton's for breakfast. And Willie Mae waited on us. Willie Mae and Margaret. And we'd sit at the counter. You know, it would be the whole nine yards: the scrambled eggs, the toast, the bacon, milk. Sometimes chocolate milk.
And after we'd have breakfast, then we'd have to go down to the post office, make that route. Then we would walk back up, as I said, chatting to people on the way.
We'd go into the store, and usually Dad had a job for me. So I would either wash the windows or the mirrors. I dusted shoes. I would usually be rewarded with maybe a quarter. Mom would drive up to get me, because the store was starting to get busy.
Then in the — I mean, there's actually a ties salesman that I still do business with. He's in his 70s. But when he comes down to visit, he'll say, I will never forget, every day after school I'd be in the back trying to peddle some ties, and you would wheel in on your bike.
Well, my elementary school was where Granville Towers is, so, of course, I had to leave that when I was in third grade. But my brother was in sixth grade. He graduated from high school on that site. But, yeah, we could never understand why the high school moved. They told us that there wasn't room.
For those of us wanting to go to high school downtown, we were like, we're sure those grownups aren't telling us the truth! That's ridiculous! They just want us out of town! So it was one of those rebellious... We were incensed at the grownups of the day for taking Chapel Hill High School so far out of town.
But my stories are all intermingling and jumping apart.
Interviewer: That's OK. That's what editing is for. [laughs]
Missy: That's good, that's good. Yes.
Interviewer: Describe the store to me. If I were to walk in, what would I see?
Missy: Into Julian's? The old one?
Interviewer: The old one.
Missy: The first sense that may be activated was your sense of smell. We often teased "Eau de Julian's." But it was just the mixture of all those fine fabrics, the wools and the cashmeres and the sea island cottons and the silks.
In Dad's day, Dad was a stacker. So you would see lining both sides cabinets, glass topped cabinets, glass shelving with lights inside. And so the very finest sweaters were under glass. The best ties were under glass. Almost everything was under glass or on shelves behind the cabinets.
In those days, when you came into a shore to shop, you had a salesperson help you. And you may say, I'm interested in a yellow cashmere sweater. And you as the salesperson would say, Oh, let me show you one. And you would pull it out and they could touch it, try it on. Then it would go back into the case. Very much person-to-person.
That is something that has dramatically changed in today's world, just the way people shop, what our expectations are. But my dad was known, legendary, to be just an extraordinary...Salesman is not the word.
Interviewer: It's almost showmanship.
Missy: Yes. Yes. And he adored his customers and they adored him. Time after time after time you hear, Maurice Julian knew what I wanted before I even thought about it. So yeah, everything would be on shelves.
You might be measured for a dress shirt and then your choices laid out on a counter. Then the salesperson would go get a couple ties from under glass and make some suggestions.
The floor in my early years was tiny inch squares of tile that were creamy yellow, with an overlay of a green pattern. So the next sense that would be activated would be the sound of the shoes, because my dad wore heavy, heavy, heavy wingtip shoes, as did most gentlemen then.
College students were wearing Bass Weejun loafers but all leather soles. So there would be some noise, not that you would be aware of it unless you were listening for it. But my brother and I to this day can hear the sound of my dad's heavy shoes.
He would have several customers he was waiting on at the front of the store. He would pat you on the shoulder and say, I'll be right back, and you would hear this [schoop] and he would slide. Literally slide from one end of the store to the back to wait on another five or seven people. Then he'd slide back, so that the sound of it all was so fun.
Visually, people walking into Julian's have always talked about the color and the just extraordinary array and magnitude. Knowing immediately that you were seeing exquisite, unique, beautiful things. They would be displayed beautifully. But my dad, as I said, was a stacker.
So you've gone by the counters, the glass counters, you've passed by the shelves. You're now at the cash wrap, which comes up probably to your chest. There is a cash register from 1916. The numbers go up to 99.99. So there were paper tickets and there was a carbon. You had to write a paper ticket, you punched in the numbers, and then you would hear the [kaching], and the drawer would open.
Each college student working in the store had their own drawer. My mom's was B drawer and no one touched it. It was like she could spot a fingerprint a mile away. You did not touch her drawer.
So you go by the cash wrap. Then there would be four pant racks, which you don't see anymore. But they went round and round and round and round.
Of course, the favorite thing of my brother and me was to go in them, and around them, and hold onto them. We got yelled at a lot for that.
You go by four of those; so they were just stuffed. And behind them were just double racks of beautiful sport coats and suits hanging. Really jam packed in dad's day. The pant racks had pants on top of them as well.
Then you felt like you had entered the shoe department. There was a table, almost like a desk and it had one of every shoe you could buy. It would be a formal shoe, patent with a bow or to string, down to Weejun loafers.
My dad really brought Bass Weejuns and Loafers to this college campus. So then there was a spell when everybody wore Sperry Top-Siders. He was the first to bring those here.
But there would be one of every shoe, business or fun. Then there was a display in the back and there were probably six red leather armchairs with step stools. Like to try on shoes, the old fashioned kind.
When it came time to pay, or to ask people to pay the bills that they had charged, because we didn't have charge cards in those early days. My mom would set up a big table back there with her hand cash... I can't think now what you call it. It's not a calculator, it was before the calculator.
Interviewer: Adding machine?
Missy: Yes. Yes, just the hand held adding machine and she would sit back there and go through her box. She sent bills home to all the parents from the boys that had bought things during that semester.
Sometimes she'd write a note on it, because they seemed, my parents seemed to know every person in North Carolina. I mean, that's the way you felt as the kid.
My dad had an extraordinary memory, and so people really could come in and he could remember how long you'd been gone. How many wives you had. Who your children were. What your last career was. What your suit size was. So his extraordinary memory. I mean people felt like they had made a friend in my dad, and they sincerely had.
Then also what's interesting is that there was a little door going into the back. And the minute that door had to be closed because the back wasn't heated or air-conditioned. So you had to keep that door closed. That door is the same door that goes back to the kitchen at Sugarland now. So that's a fun fact.
The dressing rooms were small, very small. In fact, at one point, dad and mom had a store here on Franklin Street and one in Durham to serve the Duke students. It was on Main Street. The building is still there. When the manager passed away, dad decided just to concentrate on this store.
He brought the fixtures over because they were almost brand new and beautiful. His entire life, we called it the "new" fixtures. They came to the store when I was four. And they were there until that site closed. They were always the "new fixtures."
One of his part time students had actually ended up... Some of the boys, they might try a graduate school or something and they decide to change. Sometimes they would come back. There were a handful that would happily be with us for a year. I mean, like a full time year before they went on and did something else.
One of those fellows, Sam Brown, he talked mom and dad into updating. This was in like 1960. So he added some paneling above the store, above the shelving. And he created some cubicles where manikins were.
The other thing that has always, that you would see in that store, there was a fellow. Dad opened the store in 1942. In 1949, there was an art major here, a fellow, that loved clothes but had no money. So he painted for clothes. And so the paintings that have been in the store since 1949 and are still here are his.
He did a lot of work for Dad because I think he really, really liked great clothes. [laughs]
I've heard stories that a salesman would come in. I love this. Just picture it. The part-time fellow was working in the store. A salesman makes a house call it's called, actually into the store to show Dad the latest and greatest.
It is the palest, palest pink V-neck cashmere sweater. Dad looks at it and says, hm, I don't know about this shade. I like it but I don't know if I could sell it.
So he said, John, John, come over here. So John was a part-time college student. He was wearing charcoal gray pants, a white shirt and a black knit tie; exactly what you wore in the '50s, with loafers.
He said, John, put this on. I want to see how it looks on a real guy. He put it on. He said, I don't know. I kind of like that on you. This is different. I kind of like it.
He said, I want you to wear it to class. Isn't it time for you to go? He said, I want you to wear it for class. See if you can sell this sweater before you come back here at four o'clock.
John said he sold the sweater about eight times. He was just walking across campus and somebody comes up and goes, man, what have you got on? What is that? He's like, well this is the newest thing. I just got it. The salesman was just in the store.
Yeah, but it's that pale pink.
Don't you love it? Look at it with my gray pants and my black tie?
All it ever takes is for a girl to come up and go, Wow, you look fantastic! So yeah, John sold about eight of them before he ended back at the store after a couple of hours.
And the rest is history. There were a lot of those sweaters sold.
When my Dad died in 1993 I took over, I answered the phone and a fellow said, I'd like to speak to Maurice Julian.
I said, well this is his daughter. I'm sorry but my Dad has passed away.
He said, Oh that really does make me sad.
Well could I help you? I said.
He said, Well I'm calling from Lacoste. And he said, We are trying to get a presence back in the United States and your Dad sold more Lacoste than any other store in the country.
We have been out of the country for a while. We have had a dispute with Izod. So we pulled the product. It has always been done in France, but we are bringing it back into the country. So we thought we had better call the store that had put us on the map.
It's amazing when you think that that is the kind of business and that fashion forward for which my dad became legendary.
Interviewer: I'm going to change... actually I had one quick question.
Missy: Yeah. Yeah.
Interviewer: This register that only went to 99.99. What did you do with it with more than that?
Missy: Well, it was not ever more than that until... I don't know, the 70s. and certainly in the 80s and in the 90s.
So Dad would - my Mom and Dad - my mom was the financial manager, which is its own really funny story. But anyway, she was known as 'The Money' and she would come up and check up and make sure the books balanced and all that kind of stuff.
So because it only went up to 99.99 and everything was much more than that, they would write hand tickets and put the money in the cash register. Then at the end of the day Mom or Dad would stand there and punch it in like four times to add up to a suit.
That cash register, we have on loan to the Museum because it still works. [laughs] We used it to hold buttons and business cards and all sorts of wondrous things after my Dad died and we went the way of the computer.
Interviewer: Did it have a sound?
Missy: Oh yes, absolutely. It really did have a sound. So this is what you had to do. With your left hand you had to...it was almost like scissors or a little clamp and you had to press it so that you could pick the drawer that you needed to go into.
So the college boys would pick drawer C. Most transactions were in drawer A, but you had to activate it by pressing that, which was not an easy - I mean a kid couldn't. It was hard. It was hard to press.
So then you had that slide in until it clicked into place. Then you had to punch in. So you would hear the numbers go, Whomp, whomp, whomp, whomp, whomp.
Then you had to press a lever. So then, the big noise - the Ching, ching, ching, ching and then the drawer would fly open. It would be almost like a little bell there. And the receipt would come out.
So when Mom would check up - I talked about having breakfast with Dad. At the end of the day Mom would ask us if we would like to help put the key, this long key into the cash register and watch the numbers turn so that the receipt would have the right date on it - a position of great power.
It was just so fun. Yeah. My best friends would come over and they would just beg if they could dust the shoes or wash the windows or just have some kind of job in Julian's. I was happy to share dusting and cleaning and sweeping. I never ever shared turning the date. That was too special. [laughs]
Interviewer: So you went to school on Franklin Street through elementary or for part of elementary?
Missy: Through third grade. Then we were district. I guess we were just district. To tell you the truth, I don't remember what happened to that school because my brother went through high school there.
Interviewer: Yeah, I need to research a little bit.
Interviewer: Because I've gotten several stories about the high school but it's sort of murky about the middle school.
Interviewer: I know when the high school moved, but figuring out the other components right there is kind of tricky.
Missy: Just if I can tell one story.
Interviewer: Mm- hmm.
Missy: Another story in our family. When Hurricane Hazel came -
Missy: I guess my brother was six and I was three. It just caused - people were starting to panic when they heard news that it was coming.
Mom remembers that we drove up from our little house to the store. Actually, we drove straight to the school. She went in to pick up Alex at Franklin Street, We walked down to the store because the store, she knew we'd be safe. We were between two buildings and it was brick and we would get way far away from the windows. We could be in the back.
So we have always thought of Franklin Street as a safe haven for everything. It's just so interesting, it was so fun. They had a - it was cement - circle that you could skate around. Like you'd come out of the school and there'd be a little pathway. But on your left, headed out to the playground was this big circular kind of track and it had gravel inside in the middle.
You would step down and there would be the field, which you can imagine how big the parking lot is. We would just play. But being in elementary school you weren't allowed, but you didn't even want to go to the other side of the field, because it was so far. [laughs]
Interviewer: What did the track look like?
Missy: The way I remember the track is that it was really just cement. It was just a cement poured circle, but I remember roller-skating on it. You had to watch out for the lines between, but they would be like six feet apart. It just went round and round. Because I feel like I fell on it like a million times.
But yeah, we would come up after school. I was famous for doing my homework in the store because I just always... I always liked being there, but I guess, you know, mom and dad were there.
I'd be in the shoe department. It was a great playground in the store, with all those cardboard boxes. My brother and I were famous for wrestling in the back of the store.As soon as a customer came in, you really had to step lively and clean up all your papers and be quiet. Be nice. Or go be helpful.
But you could take a break and I'd go over to Jeff's Confectionery and he'd make a Coke for us, one of the little small six once ones.
He always had a roundabout rack of comic books that my brother and I were probably his best comic book customers. You could sit on the floor of that place and drink your Coke and read comics. Jimmy would just think that you were fine. You know, as long as you were well mannered.
I didn't know that they sold "Playboys" and "Hustlers" and all sorts of magazines for a really long time. It was just the place to get the best crushed ice and you know...
Interviewer: That was the question I was going to ask. Because in other stories that was the part that people had told me about it. I was like, in my head going, is this the same place?
Missy: Yeah. Isn't it funny? Because my recollection Jimmy Moosemalist was one of my favorite characters on Franklin Street. Sometimes he'd invite me behind the counter so I could push the syrup to make my own Coke. I did that for my own children. We were really heartsick about when he left. Even if the circumstances weren't the greatest and he wasn't ready, you know, it was probably time.
My brother and I spent so many hours in that store. And then when I graduated from Carolina, I went to Boston and I just told this story. Of all the people in town, I came back, I was probably 24-25.
Of course, truly I would stop to kiss my mom and dad and I would go get one of Jimmy's Coca Colas. That was first thing I did, last thing I did every single day.
He looked at me and he said, isn't it about time you got married? He was close enough to me that he could say that. But I just said, uou know what? You've asked me this, you've asked me this, and you've been asking me this for years.
So I'm just telling you, it's time for you to stop asking me. I'll make sure that you're there to dance at my wedding. And he stopped. Three years later he said, you told me. There I am, I'm dancing at your wedding.
But it was just such a fun way to grow up. Someone's told you about the scoreboard? OK, so the scoreboard is at the museum. But the scoreboard is really, I keep using the word legendary. But just imagine, there were only radios.
That business had been there, Jimmy's uncle I think started it - who was the original Jeff - and he must have started it in 1910, certainly by the 1920s. No TV either, only radios. Not everybody has one, so he would post all the college football scores, or basketball scores, or whatever teams were playing outside. He used like a washable paint. So you went to a football game, and your next stop ...
Interviewer: So you were talking about the scoreboard.
Missy: Yes. Everybody in town, not just the college kids, everybody would gather around this scoreboard. It was outside, right outside of the, you know that tiny little shop, and ...
Interviewer: Let me pause one more time. OK. Go ahead, you'll describe it for me.
Missy: OK. So, the scoreboard looks almost like an enormous blackboard with white lines painted on it. Skinny white lines, because they must have reported, I don't know, probably 50 different teams. It had columns. It would be who was playing and then the score.
That would be the place that you would find out what happened at the Duke game. What happened at Clemson? What happened with Harvard? What happened with every school that you could think of? After a football game, certainly Franklin Street would be completely mobbed. But where the scoreboard was, you couldn't even get through the street.
So word would just sort of be passing, oh, did you hear about this? Oh look it's up there! And that's how everybody found out what the scores were. And that went on certainly through my lifetime even though we had radio and TV. The scoreboard was the place you went to find out.
Interviewer: And it was hanging outside of Jeff's?
Missy: It was hanging right outside Jeff's winter, spring, summer, fall, never moved. It just didn't matter, and it would be cleaned off in time for the next game. Sometimes if you were really lucky, you got to be there as he was painting the numbers on the board. But that was not only a meeting place, it was just good information. Everybody wanted it.
Interviewer: And that was Jimmy who did the painting?
Missy: Jimmy and Jeff. I mean, it was just always a part of Jeff's Confectionery Shop. But just a great place and really, even now, my kids will call me from other parts of the country and go, mom, wouldn't you just love it if we could go over and get one of those Coca Colas? You can just taste it and you can crunch that ice and there is just nothing that will ever compare. It was the best.
Interviewer: When did it close?
Missy: It closed in I want to say maybe '96.
Interviewer: What were the circumstances, because that part has been hazy?
Missy: OK. This is my story.
Interviewer: OK. Sure. That's what I'm after.
Missy: The movie theater and that space and then where 'Light Years' is - they were all bought by one gentleman. Probably the rent hadn't changed in a million years.
Jimmy certainly wouldn't have wanted the rent to change. He was a true character. He was outspoken. He could grouse about anything and everything and did so, but had the biggest heart imaginable and was just always the kindest, gentlest giant for me.
He said he didn't like the building being sold. He didn't like who bought it. They got into just, Look, I'm the landlord. And he said, look, I have been here for like 60 years or something.
So they couldn't agree on a rent. Jimmy thought they had agreed on a rent and then the fellow said that they didn't. So it felt like he was evicted. He wasn't ready to go. But he said, I'm not going to deal with you. You're leaving.
Of course, he is now one of our absentee landlords, which is always of concern.
Interviewer: Right. That location - is that the Blue Horn Lounge?
Missy: Yes, the Blue Horn Lounge.
Interviewer: That was the other thing with pinpointing exactly where it was on the street.
Missy: Yeah. Yes, yes, yes, yes.
Interviewer: You went to college here.
Missy: I did, although freshmen girls had just been admitted to Carolina for full-time in the fall. They could always go to summer school, but for the fall, actually just three years prior.
Growing up in Chapel Hill, the going line was that - and actually all over North Carolina - nice girls didn't do that first.
Missy: So I was really raised knowing I was going to go away to a girls' school for a couple of years and then come back to Carolina. And truthfully that plan was fine with me. By the time you are a senior, you are ready, because I knew I was coming back to Carolina and it was just going to get better.
I was going to get to be one of those girls from the girls' schools that came for football weekends at Carolina, and I was going to live that dream. That just sounded delicious.
So I went to my little girls' school up in the mountains of Virginia.
Interviewer: What school was that?
Missy: It's Sullen's College. It's now Kings College. And it was not a match.
You grow up in Chapel Hill. You grow up on Franklin Street. You have a vision of what college is. Of course, it is so fun. All the boys are so cute. All the girls are going to be your best friend.
Although I will say that the other thing when you grow up in Chapel Hill that you're not aware of until you leave is that diversity factor. You are so used to being around people from different parts of the country, different parts of the world. They are in your classrooms. They are in your businesses. They are at parties.
You are talking, interacting. There is an exchange, an openness and just a delight that it's just such a part of you because you have experienced it since you were home from the hospital.
Chapel Hill is a unique community because I always said that we value a good idea. We value your intellectual endeavor, rather than your pocketbook, or what kind of house you are in, or what kind of clothes you wear. We value your brainpower.
That takes away a lot of other factors that can divide people. It has been an incredibly wonderful way to grow up. But once you leave and you see how other people operate, or somebody even mentions, Oh, we go to the same club. You are like, what? What is that like?
It can be north and south, east and west. As I said, it can be the world. I was delighted to, again, without teaching it to my children, but just being in that arena and the way it is here. They really helped me understand that Chapel Hill way of growing up.
Because it was them and through their eyes that when we went to look at all these other colleges, they were like, golly, everybody looks the same here. You look on the websites and they are like, well we are 20% this or, we believe in this or tha. They are like, I don't know. I don't see the faces. It's different at home.
You really learn to treasure that exposure to so many different ways of operating, because in your knowledge, you get to choose what's right for you. That's why Chapel Hill is so unique. That's why people like to live here, because you can really be who you are in this town and be appreciated for that.
You can be quirky and opinionated, which most people that stay here are. But that's the way we like it. Give us your best shot. Give us your good idea and let's learn from it.
Interviewer: Now growing up though you were in Chapel Hill during integration.
Missy: Yes. Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.
Interviewer: Do you have any memories from that time?
Missy: I do. I do. I do. I was in the first class to go to the new high school. I was in the first class to go to the new junior high.
I just actually had this conversation with one of my high school friends and you should talk to him. He would be awesome to talk to. His name is James Austin.
Missy: He works at Acklands.
Missy: He has been a sheriff here. We went to high school. We went together and now he is their security. But we just had this conversation about what it was really like for us.
I will say, and I told him that I just felt like there were different races. There were different cultures and we were all friends.
A lot of that has to do with your personality. But my dad was Jewish and my mom was not. They had their own discrimination by some and they had to explain some things about that to me growing up. It didn't happen often. But a couple times, but what they would say, just someone's stupidity.
The integration issue certainly didn't feel the same for me as it did for my friends, James and Yolanda. I mean, we were cheerleaders together. Did we spend the night at each other's houses? No. We didn't think anything about that. We were just friendly in school.
And so the marching, I will say, in memory it felt like it caught me by surprise. But the day that there was a march through town, and it went through the businesses, I can remember just Mom and Dad talking about it, but I can't remember what was said.
Certainly I watched TV and all of that but there was just anxiety. It's like I can feel the heaviness and the anxiety.
I was in the store when the march happened, and so it was like the street had been quiet and clear, it wasn't. Customers weren't there. My mom and dad were there, and Mr. Williams and maybe a couple of the college kids. The door, in my recollection, opened and then hundreds and hundreds of people walked through the store like four across.
They walked in the door and they went down one side and sort of to the back and came up. I can remember standing by the tie rack and my mom came over to stand with me and just held my hand. We were just, "Hello. Hello. Hello." I felt so nervous inside, because you don't usually have that many people in a store. It wasn't a conversation; it was just a silent march.
So we were just being respectful. There was tension, like you didn't know what was going to be said. It wasn't like you saw a sea of faces that you knew. It was scary. When they filed out, it was just like [sighs loudly].
Interviewer: They actually marched into the store?
Interviewer: Do you know what day it was? Was it tied to an event?
Missy: I don't know. I don't remember that part.
Interviewer: You just remember them coming in?
Missy: Yes. Because I was frightened, and I was afraid I'd do something wrong, or I would have done something that someone found hurtful when I didn't mean to.
And the fact is that, because of who my mom and dad were, how they were raised — and their particular backgrounds — they were so sensitive to treating people equally.
I have come to understand that in our best efforts to treat people equally, there were huge differences. It's something that I've come to learn, not something that I knew because the society was not set up for you to ever know that.
I remember going to the bus station, because we often had to pick up packages for the store; something would be shipped and would come in on a bus.
Interviewer: Where was the station?
Missy: The bus station was where the Franklin Hotel is; it was up on the hill. And I remember vividly seeing — there were two doors, and it said, "Colored Only."
And I always hated that. I mean, we had... I mean, yeah, we had maids. They were caretakers, and they were these women — I loved them and they loved me.
I know that there were times I would say, I don't get that. If we're going somewhere, why can't you sit with me? I mean, those sorts of things did not ever make sense. I always had questions about that. But I could never get in their shoes, ever.
So I mean, I'm — happy is not the word — but the understanding more of those times is just so critical. We can't judge those times, because the society was just so different. It was different for women, it was different for blacks, it was different for all people of color, it was different for religions, in so many different ways.
It's just impossible to understand.
There was a water fountain that was "For Colored Only" outside, and my brother and I just always hated that. So we were glad when that went away.
Interviewer: Do you remember how old you were when the march occurred?
Missy: I would have said that I could have been — I would have thought maybe I was in ninth grade, something like that. When I graduated from high school, we graduated in Memorial Hall. So this was 1969; we were the class of '69. And it got progressively more tumultuous. As I said, we were that first class in that new high school.
But that Black Panther, Black Power, all that movement, was happening then. We weren't sure if we were going to be able to have a graduation. The administration was not listening to what the black students wanted. I can't remember what their request was, but I think that they wanted to be able to wear what they wanted.
It was like, iIf you're not going to wear a cap and gown the way we say, you're not going to wear a cap and gown. Then you're not going to be on stage and you will not get your diploma.
We had practice. It wasn't until the very end that we sort of came together and said, yeah, we're all going to graduate and we're all going to gradate together. And we're going to be this class that is graduating all — everything we can think of.
But I remember, you know how you had to walk across and shake hands and get your diploma, there were just a couple — in my remembering of the students — that walked across the stage, got their diploma, shook hands, looked at the audience, raised their fist and yelled out, "Black Power!"
People would just go 'gasp'. I wonder if something else is going to happen. They were just times that you were on the edge of your seat. I haven't ever talked about that with my other classmates so much.
I want to add one thing about Sutton's, because when I got married and thought about my wedding breakfast, I asked my mom and dad to take me to Sutton's. That was my last breakfast as a single woman. Willie Mae scrambled the eggs and wished me well.
Interviewer: Can you tell me about Willie Mae?
Missy: Willie Mae was such a great spirit, always had a smile. She was as neat as a pin. She wore a white cook's uniform and her apron; had her hair in a net curled under and the biggest smile always. She made the best, to this day, scrambled eggs with cheese on the face of the planet.
She used an iron skillet. She was just friendly. You knew that she was also the fastest working woman on the face of the planet and could juggle more things at one time than anyone else you'd ever seen.
Short order doesn't even describe it. But, it was delicious. It was well presented. Literally, you would walk in there, and it would be like:cheeseburger, Missy? Orangeade today, or do you want one of those diet - or Cokes, we didn't have diet then? And always remembered.
She had a memory like my dad's. So people were coming in that didn't always come in, and she remembered what their favorite sandwich was.
It was its own community. Miss Margaret worked there, too. And, Margaret ended up writing her own book of little stories from Sutton's, because people went there for every reason imaginable.
The Breakfast Club in the morning was legendary. There were about eight people. You knew that they were solving all the problems of Chapel Hill right at Sutton's so you could offer your opinion or not. It was just a wonderful community.
It was very, very, very sad when she passed away because these characters on Franklin Street in all the stores, they became the surrogate parents for all the students. They would laugh and call you the "ne'er do well," but you were adopted into their experience, and they really and truly cared about you.
If you came in and having a bad day it would be like, you could talk to Willie Mae sometimes like you talk to the bartender. She was just a loving, good spirit, and her family didn't work there. Sometimes, they did like in high school, but it's like the people that worked on Franklin Street, the families would just ...
That's where your parents were, so you would end up there. You all knew each other, and you knew that your mom or your dad also had 14, 000 other children, not just you that they cared about or thought about or worked with. Sutton's was a favorite.
The "Rathskeller" was the place for birthday parties. My brother tells the funniest birthday party story on the face of the planet, so you should just call him and get him to tell you.
There was no pizza unless you went to New York City in those days when we were little. I mean, just imagine there is no such thing as pizza. And, the Rath had pizza, so we would have birthday parties at the Rathskeller just to come eat pizza. So, we loved to go there.
And, of course, sitting in the Train Room for date night because you had to sit next to the person the way the little booths were. That was a big deal.
Interviewer: Could you describe it for me?
Missy: The Train Room was all white painted wood. The booths and the tables, they had, maybe, some curlicues on them a little bit. They seemed extra small, and there was one whole side, I think, where you had to sit next to each other and face just like you would on a train.
At the end of this room was a big table that had semi-circular seating, and it was right under the glass opening on Franklin Street. So, you could literally see the shadows of people. You could sit 10 people, 12 people there at that big table and just marvel at people that were walking overhead.
They had sayings, little proverbs or Benjamin Franklin kinds of things, written behind your heads, and they had hat racks. But, it was all done in white and on a much smaller scale. There were no cushions on the seats. You would just slide in, and you really and truly felt that you had stepped onto a train.
Each little table had its own window looking outside, you know, faux painting. You just felt like the rumble of Franklin Street and going on that you were really on a train going places. At some point I think they even had a whistle that blew periodically, probably when someone's pizza was done, but you knew it was the train pulling in the station.
And then the other favorite date room was Cave's which was really made to look like the inside of a cave. They had a candle on each table, and that was the only lighting in the room.
The tables had red and white checkered tablecloths and individual chairs, but the alley to get between the two tables was very small. And the waiters, you would have to duck down to sit down, but it was dark and romantic, and we thought that was also a favorite.
Where else did we like to go? Most of us growing up in Chapel Hill learned to ride our bikes and roller skate and throw a Frisbee or a baseball on campus. The campus is like our Central Park.
Once we learned to ride our bikes, well, then we could ride our bikes to the arboretum, and then if you were really clever you could walk your bike on the gravel past so silently that you could find your own space to hide behind rocks and bushes and watch couples on the beaches.
That was our favorite activity as nine and 10-year-olds, so if we were ever missing it would be, and you won't believe who we saw kissing today. Just the best.
Interviewer: That's funny. You're not the first person to tell that story.
Missy: Yes. It was like our own sex ed. class down there, so we loved that. There was a high school rec. center, and they had the greatest dances. They even had them for junior high kids. They would have one on Friday night, and then the high school would be there Saturday and great, unbelievable bands.
The one I remember the most, because Donny Sparrow decided not to dance with me that night, and I was as angry as I've ever been in my whole life. This was seventh grade. It was between where the new Bunn's Restaurant is going and Investors Title.
Your parents would drop you off right there, and you would walk down that alley and then underneath that space. Again, the ceiling was low. It felt dark, and we would just come out of there, literally wringing wet because all your friends were there and you would have danced all night long.
I didn't even think about feeling safe or not safe. It was who you were going to dance with or who is going to break up, or who were you going to show. But, it was just great, great fun.
Interviewer: What was the music?
Missy: The music was a lot of beach music. It was the Supremes, and the slow dancing song was Smokey Robinson and the Miracles. You didn't get that many of those, but when you did it was just like-yes because you didn't get to be with people very often otherwise.
But, the music was great, and then the bands, like the Nomads, would play. Then, I guess when we were in high school the music changed into more folk music, really. And, that's when Kate Taylor had the band. Livingston Taylor was in my class.
Biff Green had a band then. There has never been a shortage of bands and good ones, really good ones.
It was just always fun. We liked to dance, and we looked forward to it every weekend. It wasn't a place where college kids went. It was really just us, and it was just a night that you could go there.
Now, there was the faster crowd of which I was not a part, I would say. There is always the crowd that dated college kids, but my mom and dad were especially vigilant and adamant that that was not to be my path and gave me, I don't know if it was good advice.
It was good advice, but I don't know if it was truthful or not. Now, how do you ever know? But, they told me that college was so fun that it should be a new, fresh experience. And a lot of the people that were going to the parties and to the frat houses, by the time they got to college it would be old news.
Somehow, that made sense to me, but mom and dad did ask one of the college boys that I was truthfully in love with. I was 15 and he was ancient. He must have been like a junior in college. He was a Beta and worked in a store. I just thought he was the handsomest man I'd ever seen and so clever.
They asked him to take me to the fraternity house, and so I got to see inside and then I was done. My brother was the fast crowd, which is probably why I was not.
Interviewer: And what happened to Mr. Sparrow?
Missy: Oh, I think after that time we did get back together. Donny does live here in town. We have laughed a lot about our early romance. I think we both found the people we were supposed to be with, but I always thought he was just soooo dreamy.
Interviewer: Why wouldn't he dance with you?
Missy: I think the reason he didn't dance with me was because it had to do with kissing or perhaps more, and I was not that girl. It was, OK you are either going to be with me on my terms or not. He came around for quite a long time, actually.
Then, the other person that is a Chapel Hill legend, you would have to ask permission, but my high school boyfriend for two years and some of college was Steve Scroggs that is assistant superintendent of schools.
And, Scroggs Elementary is named for his mom. He used to leave daisies in my locker, which was really nice. So that's how he lured me, yes, wooed me. We would go on picnics, on campus, in the arboretum. There was just always something happening in this town.
Sometimes, I guess it was hard to figure out where you belonged when you were in high school and junior high. I was head cheerleader at Chapel Hill High and was very proud of myself and my crew for staging a pep rally that no one believed could happen.
The Hardee's had just opened, and it was hard in this town to get people to support your high school teams because everybody went to college.
It was hard sometimes to get people to games, to get people to pep rallies. I had this bright idea. Hardee's had just opened. Everybody loved to go to Hardee's. Let's have a pep rally there, and it was the largest pep rally they had ever had to that date which would have been in 1968, the fall of '68.
People would come to the games and listening to the college games. So, it would just make you so angry. Just be present. Just be with us. We have our own life. That's another one, but I think happily that part has changed.
It was loads of fun, but my senior year we had this little Model T Ford that my dad had gotten my brother and I when, oh golly, we must have been like eight and 11. It had a lawnmower motor, but it looked like a Model T Ford.
So, Steve had the bright idea of painting it the tiger stripes, and he rode it up and down the sidelines of the field. He was the school spirit. Crazy. That's so funny.