Sallie McBride, W&M Class of 1949

Sallie McBride arrived at William & Mary in 1945. During her time at William & Mary, she participated in Spanish Club, German Club, Pi Beta Phi, the Student Association, and YMCA. She also participated in intramural basketball.

After earning her Bachelor of Arts in Spanish, McBride joined Pan American as a stewardess, flying throughout Latin and South America. She later became a travel consultant for Aardvark.

In her interview, McBride recalls knowing from a young age that she wanted to be a stewardess for Pan American, leading her to pursue a degree in Spanish from William & Mary. She shares memories of dancing and dating and working over the summer at Yellowstone National Park, where she met her would-be husband. Dean of Women, Grace Landrum, stands out in her mind as someone who was exceptionally helpful as a resource. Though she enjoyed her time at William & Mary, when asked about her favorite memory to look back on, McBride replies, “Graduation.”


College of William & Mary

Sallie Adams McBride

June 29, 2017


Carmen:           My name is Carmen Bolt. I’m the oral historian at William & Mary. It’s currently around 3:00 p.m. on June 29, 2017. I’m sitting with Sally Adams McBride at her home in Chicago. Could you start by telling me the date and place of your birth?

Sally:               August 6, 1928. That’s…? 1928.

Carmen:           And where were you born?

Sally:               In South Boston, Virginia.

Carmen:           Oh, great. I was born—

Sally:               And that, I think…well, there was a hospital in Halifax, too. It’s in Halifax County, but my doctor was in South Boston. And actually, my husband was in the Army, so I had come home to Virginia to have Marjory.

Carmen:           Great. Well, can you tell me a little bit about your family, parents, and any siblings you had?


Sally:               My dad’s father had bought land, I think, when it was easy to buy large sections of land, and over the years he would kind of give different children or relatives or sell it to different people. But he had a nice house, and a pretty good area of land. But this, where we were in Halifax County, is the tobacco country, and at that time it was the crop of the county, and they…you could have a family and send them to school and support them with a small area of land because tobacco was so…it brought in a lot of income and it was something that most of the family could handle it. You know, they could pass…hand the leaves and all of that stuff.

00:01:56          So it was… Well, my dad went to Virginia Tech, or VPI, it was known as then, and my mother went to Virginia Intermont. She got a teachers certificate. And she just went there for one year, and then I think she spent another year at [Farmville]. Anyhow, they accepted her for teaching. But my dad was given, when he graduated he was given an opportunity to go to Brazil to a tobacco experiment station, so he was kind of a reserved guy. He seemed to have more fun talking to guys than he did—and he wound up with three girls and no boys. But he was a redhead. And he was…he didn’t get too loud unless it was politics. Sometimes he was het up about that.

00:03:02          But we have a wonderful picture of him. He’s in a white linen suit with a hat and a tennis racket, and he looks like a million dollars, so it’s hard to imagine handing tobacco leaves at home and looking so sharp there. Anyhow, that’s what he did, and my mother taught school.

Carmen:           Great. And when did you first think about going to college? You said both of your parents went to different schools.

Sally:               Yeah, mm-hmm. Well, I just…it was ingrained in me. I thought…I never thought I wouldn’t go to college. My older sister went…she wanted to go to New York to Traphagen, and my dad thought she was not ready for that. She was probably 17, too, like we all were when we graduated from that high school. Anyhow, she was interested in art and so she went to one of the state schools in Fredericksburg, I think.

00:04:03          And then she came back to Richmond and went to…I think it was a William & Mary connection at that time. There was a business and an art school in Richmond, so she went there. And she had a hard time with math. I think she took math a number of times. You know, I think she got past math, but when she got to geometry and that stuff.

And I don’t know why, I guess because of the design and all, she needed to know more. She wound up being a bookkeeper. It doesn’t make any sense. And then my younger sister, I can’t… She won’t be happy if she hears this. But it has developed a lot since she was there, so it’s more highly regarded now than it was probably when she went there.

00:04:56          And I was in a class at Turbeville, a class of 16, and I was the valedictorian, so… [Laughs.] I mean, that’s not too bad to be the valedictorian in a class of 16. Anyhow. And that was hard for me when I got to Williamsburg because I did my homework, but I don’t remember doing any…bringing any work home to do. So I guess I was doing what they wanted me to do.

But when I got to William & Mary, I found that you’ve got to do a lot more than that. And I can remember studying for a Spanish exam. I went up to the football field and I tried to study, but I could just feel it. I would get this and then it would just sort of drift out of my head. So I think I wound up at William & Mary with a B…that was my…what is the word?


Carmen:           Average?

Sally:               Average. And I was grateful that I got it. [Laughs.] But it was just a… And I was, you know, I had a year less of school than the kids from New Jersey and New York, which were…had a big attendance at that time. They had all had an extra year, and they probably went to kindergarten, too, which I didn’t do, so I was missing a couple of years.

But I did have some really good teachers, you know. Among the group there were some that taught my mother and father. In fact, the seventh grade teacher had taught both of them. And one day she said get out your history books, so we got the history books out. And then she kind of looked around for a while, and then she said, get out your history books. And when she did it the third time, we got kind of nervous about it. [Laughs.]

00:07:00          And then she went outside the room. She must have known something was happening to her. She came back, she was fine. Then she went home and she never came back again. And I think her husband realized that something was happening. And she went to…he put her in a retirement home, which is kind of sad, but, you know, at that stage of the game I’m not sure he knew what to do.

So anyhow, that was an adventure. That was hard. And the lady that taught me math and Latin, she was very sharp, and she lived quite a long time afterwards, and they probably were the same age, you know, in the area of the same age. Okay, what else do you want to know? [Laughs.]

Carmen:           Well, no, that’s good. That helps me understand your education before going to William & Mary. And how did you decide to go to William & Mary?


Sally:               Well, I just…if you live in Virginia, you visit Williamsburg a lot. You know, your guests come and you say, oh, you should know how the state started and all of that business. So I just was used to that. And I was telling the other girl that I did consider Randolph-Macon at one time. But then when I found out you had to have four years of Latin, I decided I really didn’t need to do that.

And then when I realized that they were not coed, or when I went to William & Mary. I think I went…there was a class, you know, grade school class or seventh grade maybe, and I really liked it then. Everybody was nice to us and showed us around. So I guess that’s when it hit my mind. And I kind of never looked back except for that time at Randolph-Macon. So I’m glad I went to William & Mary.


Carmen:           Well, what did you choose to study?

Sally:               Well, I was majoring in Spanish. And the reason I did that was that when I was in the seventh grade, I think, I read this article about stewardesses, and I have a feeling it must have been about Pan American. It was about flying out of the country. And that sounded really good to me, so I decided—and they required, at that time they required that you speak one foreign language, and you were able to read another, a second one. So that’s why I chose Spanish.

And then when we were seniors, I don’t know who brought this information now, but Pan American was interviewing people in Richmond, and so they arranged a ride for three of us to go to Richmond to be interviewed. And I looked for the picture, and I couldn’t find it.

00:09:59          But we were all dressed up. You know, we had on heels, and we had gloves on, and we probably hadn’t had that many clothes—well, we were dressing up more at that stage of the game. Anyhow, we were interviewed and the three of us got jobs. But one of the girls—well, in the first place, they gave us the job, right away we were accepted. And then they said the class would come midsummer.

And then about three weeks before the class was to start we got a wire saying that class had been discontinued, had been put off indefinitely, which was something you weep. And I was out visiting my husband-to-be, and so that was kind of a sad deal.

00:10:56          But I held onto it, and the other girls took other jobs. But at the end of summer they called me back and so I went down to Miami and got checked out. There was a really cute blonde girl who was with…oh, another airline. I can’t think of it. National. And they had a reputation for all being really good-looking. And she was blonde, and her name was Sally Allen, and my name was Sally Adams.

So we went to get our health checkups, you know, get all the shots that you have to have for foreign travel. And so Sally Allen was saying to me, oh, I’m so scared. It’s going to hurt. I hate this. And I said, oh Sally, it’s just a prick. It’s not that big a deal.

00:11:59          So then I got my prick and I fainted, and they put me on—[laughs]—they put me on a, what do you call them?

Carmen:           Like an IV?

Sally:               No, they put me on a cot.

Male:               Gurney.

Sally:               A gurney. Put me on a gurney and rolled me right in front of the rest of the class. [Laughs.] And Sally Allen said, I could kill you. So I did make a big impression on that. But anyhow, that’s… And I did get the job, so it was pretty good. Within three months I had a job.

And I was attached to the Latin American division, which meant that I was on that side of the… And Pan American never flew in the U.S. They picked up passengers in the U.S., but they never flew. That was probably how they got their license. So we flew all the way down the south side—the east side of South America to all the top islands, and then down to Brazil And Argentina.

00:13:05          And, you know, they didn’t fly every day, so there were lots of times when we would have two overnights, so that you really got to see the country. And the pilots were all older, because they were just out of the Army, and Lord knows how long some of them had been in there.

But it was funny, you know, you always think it’s really romantic with the pilots and the stewardesses. Well, there was such a difference in our ages that it was not that way at all. But I think they felt a certain responsibility to us, so the first night, when we were going to stay two nights, the first night we were there they would always say why don’t you come and go with us to dinner and then you can, you know, operate on your own after that if you want to, so they were very nice to us.

00:13:57          And, you know, if you go into Rio and you don’t know where you’re going, no telling where you’ll wind up, but anyhow. And Argentina was…it was very civilized. And the smallest cities were, too, except we had one elevator operator who needed a bath very badly. [Laughs.] He was in a uniform that I think he’d worn for a long time, so you’d just kind of hold your breath until you got up to your floor. [Laughs.] Okay, now I’m talking too much about myself. What else do you want to know about William & Mary?

Carmen:           Well, you’re not talking too much about yourself since this is all about you anyway, but we will circle back to talk about your work. But we can start with some questions about William & Mary. So do you remember—you said you traveled there as a student before going to college, so you’d already seen it—but do you have any very first memories of going to William & Mary for college?


Sally:               I just remember them taking us around the campus and showing us the Wren Building. And what is that low thing that you walk in?

Carmen:           The sunken garden?

Sally:               The sunken gardens. And then it really puts you in place, but I thought it was very healthy. The dorms were all women’s or men’s dorms, they were not mixed up. And it was long after I left that they let them share. And I just heard a couple of guys talk about the kind of sharing they did and I was glad I wasn’t involved in that. And then Monday night we couldn’t have dates. And then in that picture on the…the guys would always hang out in front of the Wren Building on that spot and whistle at you when you passed by, hopefully.

00:16:03          But we used to go to the post office there. We’d walk down there and then the post office was kind of past the church, and then you walked back in there and that was the post office, and that’s where we went. And we got mail twice a day. Can you believe that? So we were all so eager to get mail that we’d go down, we walked down there. So it was a different pace.

And what else? We had a good football team for about four years when all those guys came back and then we kind of faded after that, and we haven’t been too… I think they stopped paying the guys anything to… But they may be back doing that again, I don’t know.

00:16:55          But, you know, most colleges either pay for all their teaching or they give them… And they deserve it, actually, because that’s hard work getting all that training done. But anyhow. I think it was being done before the war, to some extent, probably paying for their education and stuff. But anyhow, when they came back we really had a good football team. Lou Hoitsma, a lot of big names.

And his widow is still in one of the retirement homes in Williamsburg. So I told Robert that was a good place to go because… And I couldn’t believe when we took Shannon down there that housing was less than it is like in Park Ridge, where we lived for a long time.

00:17:56          Because I thought there’s so many service people who retire down there, I would think that would fill it up. And then there are all the William & Mary alums that want to come back, so I think you’re very lucky that it hasn’t gone crazy on you. So I don’t know what else. I’m trying to think what…

Oh, I’ll tell you who was really interesting to me. I just had one class with [the Iraldes]. Have you about [the Iraldes]? They were brothers and they came from Spain, and they were so funny. And the one that I had was more down to earth. But the other one, he would go through the cafeteria line, and he would eat as he went along, and by the time he got to the end he didn’t have anything in his tray. [Laughs.] I don’t know whether he was a compulsive eater or it made it cheaper when he got to the end, so…

Carmen:           Maybe both.


Sally:               Yeah. So they were really interesting. And he taught me French, too. And I thought he was good. And then I had to take, because I didn’t want to take anymore Latin, I had to take another ancient language. And this guy—it was Greek, but it was old Greek, not… And the guy was really nice. But I should have known when I saw all the football players there that he was good for them.

And he was easy and he was fun. It made it really interesting. I’m not sure that I learned Greek too well, but… [Laughs.] But he was nice, and those football players hurried into his class. I mean, you know, a lot of people don’t like ancient languages anyhow, so I’m sure for most of them it was hard. And for me it was pretty hard, too. But he made it easy.

00:20:02          So I’m trying to think. I don’t think anybody else… We had a pretty stiff English teacher. I can’t remember his name. But he didn’t play around with you very much. And then there were a couple of classes that were in…they were big classes. They must have been…it must have been classes that had studios. The lecture would be in a big hall and then you’d go to another place to do the active…what is the word I want for a…? If you’re in a science class you go to a…

Carmen:           Lab?


Sally:               Lab. A lot of lab time. Maybe that’s why I got a B, I can’t remember all of… [Laughs.] Things I should have learned. Maybe you should wipe that out. [Laughs.]

Carmen:           Well, did you have…it sounds like you had a range of professors, some that were more difficult, some that were easier. Did you have any that you looked to as just like a mentor, someone who was influential in your time at William & Mary?

Sally:               Not really. No. I remember the dean of women. I really…well, I did. Once I had a conference with her because the guy who wound up being my husband decided he would like to come to William & Mary, so I talked to her about that. She said we can transfer him if he really wants to do that. So that was nice that she did that. He decided he didn’t want to do that, so… [Laughs.] 

00:22:01          But, so, but the neat thing about Dean Lambert, I think her name was, and she was very short, and she had a lot of dignity, but when she sat up on that podium her feet didn’t quite touch the ground, you know, so—[laughs]—it was hard for you to be really tough if your feet don’t touch the ground.

Carmen:           It was Grace Landrum, is that who it was?

Sally:               Yeah, mm-hmm.

Carmen:           Yeah, Grace Landrum, dean of women. I’m trying to envision her feet not touching the ground now, but you said she had a lot of dignity, though?”

Sally:               Yeah, right. Yeah. You wouldn’t have messed around with her, but when I went to approach her about this, she was very nice about it, so…

Carmen:           Yeah, it sounds like it. So do you have any absolutely favorite memories you look back on?


Sally:               Graduation. [Laughs.]

Carmen:           I hear that a lot.

Sally:               I was ready to…I was ready to end. And I wasn’t…and never intended to go back for a higher degree or anything. But I loved being there and I’ve come back for homecoming many times. In the last few years not so much, but early on. And then there were still a lot of my friends who were there, and some of them were living there, so I just love… And when Robert and Amanda talked about buying there, I thought I can’t think of a better place to be, you know, so I was very happy that they were there. And now he’s brought another brother down, so…

Carmen:           It sounds like everybody is slowly but surely moving out there.

Sally:               Yeah, right. But that happened to me in here, you know. Generally parents go to where the children are, but I came down here to see if I would like to live in the city, which I had never really done before.

00:24:06          So I bought a little apartment down in that direction near the park, and I liked it. And then this place opened up, and I looked at it, and I thought, you know, if I buy into here, then the kids are never going to have to worry about me, which is my present to you. [Laughs.] And although I call on your mother every now and then. So anyhow, that’s… I can’t remember what you started. What was the question you started with?

Carmen:           Just favorite memories. And then you were talking about how you return to Williamsburg and you really enjoyed it and liked the place.

Sally:               Yeah. So no, I don’t. You know, the other thing is I think my memory is slipping away. I have all these stacks of notebooks about travels I’ve taken, and I’m sort of ooh, where was this, you know, so I’m not as good at memory as I would like to be.

00:25:08          And some people are really good. There are people that I…that are my age that, their memory’s better than mine.

Carmen:           Well, you never know what question we have that might jog that memory.

Sally:               Yeah. [Laughs.]

Carmen:           So what kind of things did you do for fun? You mentioned the football team was really good.

Sally:               And always was lucky enough to have a date for proms and that kind of thing. And I liked to dance. I wasn’t the greatest dancer going, but I liked that. I like music. And I enjoyed working. You know, it was a break from studying. And the guy at the theater was very nice to me.

00:26:00          And what else? I liked the friendship. I had no, really, idea about sororities when I went there. I had one cousin who was a Tri-Delt, and she really was…she was a leader on the campus. She was like four years older than I was, so she had graduated. But she did come down for the night when you pledge, you know.

And already I had decided that I was going to pledge Pi Phi, and I felt so guilty about it. So you had to decide how many houses you were going to visit that night, and at that time it was three. But I signed up for the Tri-Delt one because I knew she was coming down, and I just felt like I should tell her that I wasn’t going to pledge Tri-Delt.

00:26:56          So we kind of moved off to a corner, and so I said, you know, I really have enjoyed being in the Tri-Delt house, but I really like the Pi Phi. And she was good about it, so…

Carmen:           Oh, good.

Sally:               So we didn’t have a problem. But the other thing about class, the Pi Phi class, was that, you know, I don’t know whether they still do that or not, but they alphabetized us, so we has all these As, and we had…I think our class—it was a large class for Pi Phi. I think it was beginning to slip a little and all of a sudden they got this good class. And I think at least six of the 14 pledges were, the last name started with A, so we had all made friends. And one of them’s sister had been a Pi Phi. That might have influenced it a little. But she wasn’t allowed to lean on us very much, so… So that’s how I got to be a Pi Phi.


Carmen:           Do you have any fond memories, looking back, of your time as a Pi Phi? Any events or just hanging out with your sorority sisters?

Sally:               Well, I liked that part of it. I mean, it was fun and it was, you know, the guys would come for dates to pick you up in the living room in the front. And some of the girls got up and fixed coffee, but I didn’t. I always went to the restaurant. Do they still have that restaurant over on the… What’s the main? The Duke of…not Duke of Gloucester Street, but what’s the other, Henry, Boundary? It was a restaurant there, a cafeteria there. I don’t know whether it’s still there or not there. Okay, well, you lose a few.

00:29:01          And maybe people don’t really use the cafeteria as much anymore. There was a private dining room that you could, you know, pay to… I think we got a little booklet for the cafeteria with our, you know, the payment for our year. That’s another thing. My dad spent $1,000 each year for my education. And that included my room and board.

Carmen:           It’s a little different now.

Sally:               I would say so. I can’t believe it. So he invested $4,000 in me. And once I needed money—this is funny—and so I just went over to the bank and took one of the bank blanks. I don’t think they do that anymore, do they? And wrote a check on my dad’s bank for $20. He almost had a stroke. [Laughs.] I never even talked to him about it. But I knew other people were writing checks, and I needed it desperately. I can’t remember what it was for. So he didn’t care for that, and I didn’t do it again. [Laughs.]

But, you know, there was a lot of freedom there. But we did have to go down and get our mail from the post office twice a day. Okay, I can’t think of… I would go to all the football games, and the basketball games. You know, basketball was more my kind of thing than football was, really. And we had some pretty good basketball teams. So…

00:30:57          And I dated, but I… My freshman year I had a friend that I dated most of the time. He was from Tennessee. And he was a football player, but he wasn’t much taller than I was. But he had a lot of football brains, I think. And so. And then by the next year I think he had found somebody else, and then I started going out with another guy. And that was pretty good.

And then I went to visit George, my future husband, for Christmas. He invited me to Illinois to his home. And then that guy never asked me for another date. I think he must have found out I was seeing somebody—well, I came back with George’s Beta Theta Pi pin. That would give you an idea that something was going on.

00:31:56          So that was kind of the end of my serious—well, none of it was very serious, but, you know, more consistent dating and that kind of thing.

Carmen:           Sure.

Sally:               So I don’t know.

Carmen:           And how did you meet George?

Sally:               Well, we… My dad came to visit one day, and he had come down on the train with some guy, business friend, and he said, you know, he told me his kids go to Yellowstone Park to work in the summer. He said, would you be scared to do that? Well, I was 17 years old. I wasn’t going to tell my dad I was scared to—but I’d never been west of West Virginia. And I was going to have to take the train all the way out to Yellowstone Park and change planes somewhere up north somewhere. Anyhow, I said yeah, I would like to do that.

00:32:58          So I, you know, wrote for an application blank and they accepted me. And George was already…he had a friend who was a friend of the management and so he was already there. So that’s how I met him.

Carmen:           Oh, that’s a great story.

Sally:               Yeah. And he had discussed with his friend, who remained his friend for a long time, and they had seen me, and the other guy said, well, you know, I think I’ll ask her out. But George decided he’d do it first, so he got the first bid in, and so we had a good time, and Yellowstone is a lovely place. Just, you know, just walking and horseback riding, and waiting tables. [Laughs.] I can’t think. What did George do? I can’t think what he did.

00:34:06          He went out early with [Loren], and I think they helped clean up the place, because Yellowstone is not open in the deep of winter. I think it does a little more of that now with sledding and stuff, but at that time it didn’t, so they had to clean it up. He must have done some kind of work like that. I can’t think what it was.

Carmen:           But that’s where you met.

Sally:               Yeah, mm-hmm. And we didn’t…we sort of hit back and forth, and we married like four years later, I guess. He came down to Miami to see me when I was flying. And then I guess then we decided that we really should get married.

00:34:57          And it was about when he was going to be…he’d have to go in the Army. So he stopped college and went to work in his dad’s meat packing place, and so when I came down we had decided that we’d get married in June. I don’t know why we selected June. But then when I was down there, suddenly we thought how do we know you’re going to be here in June? I mean, all they had to do was call you up and then you had to be there.

So we came downstairs, and his folks always sat at the breakfast table and they’d talk. And George said, well, we decided we should get married now. And his dad said, well, the minister lives just down the street from us. [Laughs.] If you want me to call him, I’ll call him. I think they thought it was about time we did something about that.

00:35:57          So I called my mother and said could you get together a wedding in a week? And she said, well, if you’re willing to wear your sister’s wedding dress I probably could. So we set that all up, and my younger sister was going to be the junior bridesmaid, and then my niece was going to be the bridesmaid. Anyhow, then George got sick. He had a hard time living that down, because—[laughs]—we had to delay the wedding for a week.

Carmen:           Oh, no.

Sally:               [Laughs.] And so he gets a lot of…he got a lot of words about the fact that he got sick about getting married. But we were married for 32 years, so a long time, and he died of lung cancer at 52.


Carmen:           I’m sorry to hear that.

Sally:               Yeah, so that was kind of hard to take. But we had lived well, so…

Carmen:           And it must not have been the wedding that made him sick because he married—

Sally:               No. [Laughs.] He lasted…

Carmen:           He stood up there a week later.

Sally:               Right, he did. But he was a great talker, and a friend of ours, of my parents’, really, was going to sing for the wedding, and neither one of them came out, and we were all, you know, what’s going on? They were in the same room together. They were busy talking. So somebody had to come out and push them a little bit and say it’s time.

Carmen:           Oh, goodness.

Sally:               But he was a talker. Which was good, because I wasn’t.

Carmen:           Perfect match.

Sally:               Yeah, right.

Carmen:           So you had said he was considering transferring to William & Mary and decided against that?

Sally:               Yeah.


Carmen:           Okay.

Sally:               I don’t know whether…I don’t know what made him change his mind. And I never pinned him down to it. But it would have been traveling a long ways from Illinois to Virginia. And he was going to the University of Illinois, which probably was cheaper than William & Mary for an out of state stuff like that. He probably might have had to pay $1,500. [Laughs.]

But anyhow, he eventually graduated, although he had to take a time out because he wasn’t doing too well. He was playing too much bridge. So he went to another state school for a year and then he came back to Illinois, and he eventually, after we got out of…after he got out of the Army, and we had Robert’s mother and her brother by that time.

00:39:04          So we went back to Illinois and lived in GI housing, which is charming, with the children. So we’d been schooling around. But then his folks came up for his graduation, and we went over to get a picture of him. And he’s coming out in his clothes, you know. Where’s your robe? Oh, I just, I thought while I was there I’d just hand it in. We spent all that time getting you educated, and… [Laughs.] Oh. So I don’t have a picture of him in his…

Carmen:           Oh, no, that’s a shame. But he was done.

Sally:               Yeah, he was through with it. And I think he was ready. Although he was a much better student when we were there and there were hungry children and all that, you know?

00:39:59          And then he got a job with IBM in Chicago for the summer before he graduated, and then the next year he got a job, a real job, with IBM, so that was a good career for him.

Carmen:           Great.

Sally:               He did a good job. But I don’t think he really knew how those machines worked, but he could sell it. [Laughs.]

Carmen:           That’s all that matters.

Sally:               And I don’t think I’ll ever learn how they work. I just learned a few things by heart, and then if I don’t use it for a while, it’s changed.

Carmen:           That’s very true.

Sally:               But it’s not my favorite part of life. But I’m glad my daughter is good at it, and my daughter-in-law. And John is not bad, but he’s not as good as the girls are.

Carmen:           It lets them keep in touch, though.

Sally:               Yeah, right. Yeah. And John is a pilot for Southwest Airlines.

Carmen:           Oh, great.


Sally:               And he’s about—this is his last year. He’s going to be 65 and he’ll…

Carmen:           He’s retiring?

Sally:               Retire.

Carmen:           Wow. That’ll be something to celebrate.

Sally:               Yeah. Anyhow, we had thought, you know, when he signed up that he would retire at 60, but then they changed it about, it must have been, six years ago, because he stayed on. But by that time he’s thinking the longer he stays the better his retirement deal will be.

Carmen:           It’s a good way to look at it.

Sally:               Yeah. So anyhow. He’s doing…he’s enjoying it. And he really never…he got two years of college and that was it. And I think he just liked flying better. He didn’t like sitting in a classroom. And also, at that time when they started opening up dorms to girls, I think he wasn’t ready for that kind of sophistication, and so he went and joined a friend who was working on oil rigs in New Orleans.

00:42:06          But he had learned to fly when he was in high school, so that was always tempting. So then he came back and got his real license. He got a teaching license and then he joined up with one new airline out of Chicago. And then they hit that rugged place and they went bankrupt, and so… But Southwest was just kind of beginning.

And American and United, they really would have taken…you had to have a college education to get in there. But they took him. They took a lot of guys who did work, were taxi drivers or did stuff like that to make a living, you know, even though they had a pilot’s license.

00:43:00          So I think they were impressed that John wasn’t…that he was still working at something, so that was good. Not John, but… Yeah, John. Okay.

Carmen:           Well, something you said about coed dorms reminded me just to think back to the time you were there when that was not a thing.

Sally:               No. I mean, they’d just started.

Carmen:           Right, right.

Sally:               Well, when John was there. When I was there, no, no.

Carmen:           Right, not when you were there. And then I was thinking of the other sort of rules and regulations that were going on at the school at the time you were there. So there were regulations on how you dressed, and your curfew, and what appropriate behavior was for women.

Sally:               Yeah.

Carmen:           And I was wondering if you could tell me a little bit about that.

Sally:               Well, I was really never tempted to do much that was out of the… I mean, I just wasn’t comfortable doing that kind of thing.

00:44:01          But there were girls that…they felt like they had to do it to go out with the kind of guys they wanted to go out with. So there weren’t…well, most of my friends didn’t drink. I mean, they’d have a glass of wine at dinner or something, but they didn’t go out to a party and chugalug and get home in bad shape. It was just not…it still is not a temptation for me.

I went down to the island we go to and Floyd had been the bartender there for a long time, and I came over late just to have a drink, and so he was happy to see me. He fixed me a martini. And as I was leaving, one of my friends said, would you like me to walk you home, Sally?

00:45:01          And I said, well, no. I mean, it’s not far. Well, why don’t I walk you home? She walked me home. I still didn’t feel anything. But when I got to the bottom of the steps all of a sudden I thought now I know why she’s walking me home. I think he was being very generous with me and he loaded that martini with gin. And I am not used to that, so, I got in the house and I got in my bed pretty fast. So I don’t like that, not being in charge of myself.

Carmen:           So none of that going on at William & Mary then?

Sally:               Oh, it was going on. And, you know, even girls would come in that had too much to drink. But not a lot of them.

Carmen:           And not for you?

Sally:               Yeah. And I didn’t see much of that in the Pi Phi house. So it wasn’t…it wasn’t really a temptation for me.


Carmen:           Did you ever break curfew?

Sally:               Yes, I did. And it was an accident. [Laughs.] I was with a guy that I’d been dating, and we were sitting on the side of the dorm, of my dorm, you know, waiting to go in, and all of a sudden we realized that we had missed curfew, and so we couldn’t date for a week or something, you know. So both of us felt like we were nuts. We just… I mean, I think they used to ring a bell or something. Anyhow, we didn’t get it.

Carmen:           Time just passed too quickly.

Sally:               Yeah, right.

Carmen:           So I’m thinking of some of the other organizations and activities you were participating in, because while you were in Pi Phi you were also a member of the Spanish Club, the EWYCA, German Club, and the Student Association. What motivated you to get involved in all of that/


Sally:               I have no idea why I was in the German Club, unless it was not a language club.

Carmen:           No, I believe it was the dancing social club.

Sally:               Oh, right. That sounds more like me. [Laughs.] I saw the German Club, but yeah, that’s what it was, a social kind of thing. I wasn’t a leader in any of those things. And part of it was that I really had to study, and I also was working. I mean, it wasn’t that belabored, but it was still…I mean, I felt responsible. People were paying $1,000 a year for my… How can people educate their children anymore?

Carmen:           So what about being part of the student government?

Sally:               You know, I went to meetings and stuff, but I never…I can’t remember that I held an office ever.

Carmen:           No major issues or anything you can recall happening while you were in there?


Sally:               Nothing I was going to…yeah, there was one. I just read about it in that write-up that the president gave for our graduating class. I guess…it was my senior year, I guess. Maybe it was before that. Eisenhower and…what’s the Englishman’s name?

Carmen:           Churchill.

Sally:               Churchill came. And Churchill spoke at a college in Missouri, and there he made some very complimentary thing about Russia. Well, people in Virginia were still…you didn’t say anything nice about Russia. We had just managed to get rid of them, get them out of Europe.

00:49:01          And so I’d never seen things pinned up on trees on the campus before. And they didn’t like what he said about Russia. And then we all gathered around the…what’s the statue in the middle of…in front of Wren?

Carmen:           That’s when Botetourt was there.

Sally:               Botetourt was there, yeah. And so they were all gathering there, and then they were going to take Eisenhower and Churchill in to show them the Wren Building and all that. And we were standing there, and there was a guy in our class, and he had a nice voice, he sang. But he was in Eisenhower’s office. And Eisenhower looked across and recognized him. That was a really big deal for all of us.

00:49:55          And Churchill was late showing up. Eisenhower came in the, you know, carriage. But what’s his name was late. He was playing bridge or something and he couldn’t get finished in time.

Carmen:           Oh, the distractions of bridge.

Sally:               Yeah. He didn’t make any more friends with the college, he just… And, you know, he was a hero until that moment. Why he had to mention that I don’t know.

Carmen:           Well, that reminds me, you saying that reminds me that President Harry S. Truman also visited the college in 1948. Do you remember that?

Sally:               I kind of do, but I don’t remember being that close to him. That time I was really right by Eisenhower. I mean, I just happened to be there. It wasn’t that I was outstanding. But, you know, he is so presentable, and so non-intimidating. And Churchill, you know, he had kind of a lift to his shoulders.

00:51:02          He was a real Englishman, and tough. And he did a great job in the war, so you couldn’t complain about that. And then he kind of pealed off in England. He didn’t get his job back and, you know, the next time he had to be voted on and whatever it was, so… But if he was still talking about Russia being so sweet, that’s probably why he didn’t make it. Ah, anyhow.

Carmen:           But you said in response to his comments there were like bulletins nailed to the trees at William & Mary?

Sally:               Yeah, handwritten things.

Carmen:           Do you remember what they said?

Sally:               No, I don’t remember, but I’m sure it was critical of Russia, you know.

Carmen:           Sure, yeah. So there’s one other thing I wanted to ask you about the things you were involved in. You participated in intramurals, yes?


Sally:               I did for a little bit, not too long. I came back and told my grandson, who was going to, doing one of the school things at William & Mary, and he asked me…I really didn’t tell him that I played intramural. I guess maybe I did. I told him…what I told him was that I took basketball, because I played basketball at Turbeville, which didn’t have the best team in town, but… Anyhow, I told him that I played basketball. And so he told the leader that was showing him around, oh yeah, my grandmother played basketball at William & Mary. So she gave him a t-shirt that had William & Mary on it. [Laughs.]

Carmen:           Perfect.

Sally:               So it paid him to…but, you know.

Carmen:           Worked out for him. Well, so your coach who was teaching you basketball was Martha Barksdale, right?

Sally:               Yeah, right.


Carmen:           And she was part of that original class of women at William & Mary.

Sally:               Right. Yeah, right.

Carmen:           Do you have any memories of her?

Sally:               No, but I remember her stature. I mean, she was very erect. And had dark hair, as I recall. And I remember the dean—I mean, all of them, when they got up on that podium, they looked pretty impressive.

Carmen:           Yeah, no doubt. So when you were at the school, Pomfret was the president, right?

Sally:               Mm-hmm.

Carmen:           Do you have any memories of him specifically?

Sally:               Not…well, I just remember…I mean, he floated around. And then we… I’m trying to think. No, it was after I left. It was more recently we had a president who, you know, we have presidents that always dressed up to go to the—a few of them would wear socks that you could see on the podium that were kind of, you know, casual.

00:54:05          But this guy came and he was bound and determined to be one of the boys, and so he’s slouching all over the campus. And then what did he do that…? He did something that all of a sudden he disappeared, and your boss took his place. [Break.] The Muslims asked him to remove the cross in the chapel, and he did it, and that was the end of his career.

Carmen:           It was quite the controversy, yes.

Sally:               Because there’s another room that’s just as presentable. They wanted to move it out of the chapel so that they could have a meeting there. And the room that’s opposite is just as well. I mean, it’s not a church, but it has all the trim and wood and all that stuff.

Carmen:           Oh, the Great Hall?


Sally:               Yeah. There’s no reason why they couldn’t have been there. And I think that was…I don’t know, I think he was… I don’t know what he was thinking of, actually, when he agreed to do that. I bet he didn’t think it was going to bother people that much. They’d gotten used to his sloppy shoes and college outfit. [Laughs.]

But, you know, when you look at your boss, he has done loads for that college. I mean, it is a whole different place, I think. It’s so much more respected in just the teaching world. I think we’re very lucky, and I hate to see him go. But… And you know, it takes…you don’t always get somebody that good.

00:55:57          And you can tell that it means a lot to him. Even his letters in the magazine are…they let you know that he’s interested in the whole thing, so… That’s my comment on him, because he is really, I think, a gift to us. And he was the president of a law school. And he had applied for that job and the other guy got it, so they came back to him.

Carmen:           I think a lot will feel similar to you and be sad to see him go. So just a couple more things about your time at William & Mary, if you don’t mind.

Sally:               Okay.

Carmen:           So you started attending, really, following the end of World War II.

Sally:               Exactly.

Carmen:           How did you see that play out on campus? Do you remember anything about just veterans coming back onto campus or anything that the campus was like as a result of World War II?


Sally:               Well, in the first place I hadn’t been there before, so it was kind of…

Carmen:           Sure.

Sally:               But we were in a boys dorm, and they never even changed the bathroom. It still had all the menswear in it. And so that was pretty noticeable. Although since I hadn’t been before, I wasn’t as knocked out about it as some people were. And then we had this…I don’t know whether it’s in that book or not, but there were so few guys in the class. And they were all probably 17-year-olds, maybe, that had never been, you know, they were too young to get called up. So Tyler…what did I tell you his name was?

00:57:58          Whose grandfather was the president of the college, Tyler. What’s his name?

Carmen:           Harrison, did you say?

Sally:               Harrison Tyler. He was in our class. And he was probably as young as I was. And almost everybody else, all the boys, were young. But when, you know, maybe second semester a few of the guys came back, and they were—Lou Hoitsma. I don’t know whether you remember his name. But he came back and he was a handsome guy, and a great football player. And then he wound up marrying one of my Pi Phi classmates, who is in the retirement home in Williamsburg, Audrey Allein Hoitsma. So they were there. And there were several other…I’m trying to think who came back.

00:58:58          Well, there were a couple of girls who were from Williamsburg, and generally they lived at home until their senior year, and then they came over to the Pi Phi house and lived with us. And among the As was [Allenbough], and she came from Hawaii. And then she…when she was a junior, I guess, she had said she was going to stay out of school for a year, so…is that right? It must have been another one.

                        Somebody volunteered that was supposed to be a senior and be in there, and I was the next in line, and I was a junior, and they were about to let me come to the Pi Phi house as a junior, but she decided to come back, which was good. But the good thing I got out of that was that I got a private room. I was in…I can’t think of the name.

00:59:56          But on the other side of the campus there’s a big dormitory that kind of goes like this. You go in the center of it and then there are rooms on each end of it. So right in the middle of the thing I had a very nice room and bath by myself.

Carmen:           That is nice.

Sally:               And, you know, it’s not that I don’t like people. It’s just that if you want to study it’s nice to have a room of your own.

Carmen:           Definitely.

Sally:               And I needed to study or I wasn’t going to make it.

Carmen:           Definitely. So before transitioning, do you have any difficult memories of your time at William & Mary? Any negative memories?

Sally:               I can’t think of anything. No.

Carmen:           I guess that’s a good thing, right?

Sally:               Yeah, I guess so.

Carmen:           If you don’t have any negative memories.

Sally:               I’m sure if it was bad I would have remembered it, even if I don’t remember the good ones. No, I can’t think of any.


Carmen:           Okay. Well, we can transition to a couple more questions kind of after your time at William & Mary. You were discussing your time as a stewardess. And I’m just wondering how you’ve seen your William & Mary education play out in your life.

Carmen:           I don’t know. My folks were pretty good at teaching me fundamentals like be nice and don’t be a smart aleck, and so I didn’t have to get that from William & Mary, I don’t think. I just enjoyed being with that many people and knowing we were doing the same kind of thing.

01:01:56          And I can’t think of anything. We are so wrapped up in politics now. I’m trying to think if there was anything in…political things, but I don’t think we pushed that very much. I don’t remember any, you know, party, people knowing that they’re Republicans or they’re Democrats. I don’t think that was part of our deal.

                        I think because the boys came back that people were really anxious to get out in the world and get a, you know, try to forget that experience they’d been through. And some of the girls had…you know, I didn’t have anybody at that time in the Army, so I wasn’t that affected by it except for the whole country. And then I was in the…I mean, you know, we were still living in the country, and my dad raised—and he did this during the war, I guess, to provide milk.

01:03:01          But they milked the cattle that we had and so I said I would milk one of the cows and sell my milk to give to the veterans. So that was how I served the war deal.

Carmen:           Sure.

Sally:               But a lot of people did that, and they’re doing it now, really. But I can’t… I just think I was…I was pretty mature by the time…I mean, I was mature, but I wasn’t…I didn’t know diddly-squat about the whole world. I mean, you know, was raised in the country, so I didn’t… Although my dad had traveled, and so I had that to enrich my experience.

01:04:02          And he would… We had a… There was an accident in front of our house. We lived on 58. And my uncle had a general store that had belonged to his dad, and then they had a bungalow on the other side of the store, we had a bungalow, and there was a vacant lot kind of in the middle. And as we grew up—and my dad played tennis, too—he said let’s put a tennis court in there. So we did that.

                        And then there was an accident in front of our house, and a local black guy got hit and was damaged, but not, you know, I don’t think he even went to the hospital for it, but he was… And it was Gypsies. And so the police came out and they said, well, you know, you’ll have to stay here for a while.

01:04:57          And here we are out in the country with all these Gypsies. Which made my uncle, who was nervous anyhow, and when they walked into the store, he was like this. And my cousin and I were over at the store. We’d play in that store all the time. They had old shoe boxes and we’d play that we were in a car going down the…

                        And so we were in there one day and we watched this little Gypsy boy come in, and he went over to one of those seed racks and he slipped a couple of packages of seed in his pocket and then he went out. And on the side was a big tree, and kind of bare space, and he went over and hid them under a rock and came back in the house again. So Jane and I went and took them out from under the rock while he was busy getting two more.

01:06:00          So he came back and I’m sure he didn’t know what had happened to his seed. But what I started to tell you was that my dad went over, and they put that tent up and everything, and he started talking to them, and I realized he’s speaking Portuguese to them. And he hadn’t used his Portuguese in 20 years, probably. So he would go out and visit with them.

                        But they made us all pretty… I mean, because they have such able fingers. I don’t think they ever got anything from our house, but I’m sure the store was a temptation for them, you know. And they’re just used to that. I mean, I think their sense of being not good is not very strong. I think they just thought, oh, here’s something it’ll be easy to take home, and we need this, or, you know.

01:07:03          They’re an interesting group. And they were there for a week. And then a year or two later one of the guys came—he was hitchhiking and he came by the store to see us.

Carmen:           It sounds like your little town made an impression.

Sally:               [Laughs.] Right. Uh-huh, so… I guess that’s it.

Carmen:           Well, at the very least your William & Mary education left you with some great friendships and it gave you your Spanish education that led to your career, right?

Sally:               You’re right. Absolutely, yeah. And it just was part of growing up, I think, and so I’m very grateful for it. I don’t think I would have been…I just liked it very well. My two…my son’s two children went to Miami of Ohio.

01:07:56          And when I was around and I went over to visit long after I was at William & Mary, and at that time it was considered the William & Mary of the Midwest. I called Susan to—I couldn’t think of Miami. Crazy. I called Susan and said now where was it that the kids went to school? She said Miami. Oh, oh Lord yeah, I should know that.

                        So I told her it might come up that we could tell her about Miami of the Midwest. She said, well… She called me back later. She said, you know, I just thought you might be making a mistake because at Miami of Ohio they say it’s Miami of Harvard, and that’s who they think that Miami was imitating. Well, the campus looks very much like William & Mary.

Carmen:           Really?


Sally:               I haven’t…I don’t know that I’ve seen Harvard. I don’t know what it looks like. But it’s almost a carbon copy of the original, you know, the old part of it, the Wren Building and all that. But it’s not…it’s the Harvard of the Midwest. [Laughs.] She wasn’t very happy with my… [Laughs.] And they loved that, too.

                        And the nice thing about that school is that it’s so close to Chicago, and it does, it must have a very good business school because there are lots of business people in operation in Chicago, and they have that contact with the college. And that’s how Sam got his first summer job and his first job out of school. And because they just make contact with those people, and they… You know, it’s close enough that… And they have a good reputation, so it’s another… And Harvard may have taught them, but I don’t know. [Laughs.] How long did it take Harvard to get coed?


Carmen:           I would have to look that up. I’ll have to do that later.

Sally:               Yeah.

Carmen:           So speaking of coeducation, that’s a great segue into my final question for you, which is considering that we’re about to kick off this celebration for 100 years of coeducation at William & Mary, can you tell me what you believe to be the value and the contribution of women?

Sally:               Just generally?

Carmen:           Generally or at the college, university.

Sally:               At the college? Well, at William & Mary they’ve always had…I mean, since I was there they’ve always had jobs in the, you know, in the presidents of the clubs and the newspaper and the yearbook. So I don’t know, it never occurred to me that that was not being done other places. I think they must have gotten into the habit of it.

01:11:06          Well, maybe Martha Washington was more aggressive if she set the… Because some of those early women, they really did… I mean, they might not have taken charge of things in front of people, but when they got back home, they had a pretty strong… I think they were used to not having a paid job or anything, but I think the strength in the family was pretty…to me was, in Virginia, anyhow, I think it was felt. Although my mother would… She didn’t trouble with Dad very much. And he could be grumpy, so… She might have been a little harder to…

01:11:57          But we were raising cattle once, and he was working with Bill Tuck. Do you remember Bill Tuck? He was governor of Virginia at one time, and he’s from Halifax County. He’d come all the way up from being a representative and all that stuff. And he hired my dad to be his little secretary guy. Now I’m about to lose my contact. What were we talking about?

Carmen:           Well, initially we were talking about just the value and contribution of women, and then you were telling me about how that was just always the case as far as you can remember.

Sally:               Well, I can’t remember why I brought Bill Tuck up, but…

Carmen:           You can always tell me later if you do remember it.

Sally:               [Laughs.] But he’s a pretty big name in our county.

Carmen:           Sure.

Sally:               Because he did, you know, he had almost every office in the state—the house, the senate, the governor. And then he was a U.S. representative.


Carmen:           That would make you memorable, for sure.

Sally:               Yeah, right. And he looked like a politician. He had one of those big hats. And he was a little robust. But they’re proud of him there.

Carmen:           Great.

Sally:               Well, I can’t think why I started that conversation, but…

Carmen:           It’ll come to you in a little bit, I’m sure. But that was the end of my questions for you. So before I close this out I just wanted to ask you if there was anything you thought I would ask you that I didn’t or anything you’d like to say before we close out the interview.

Sally:               Well, I think I didn’t really answer you very well about what I thought of women.

Carmen:           Sure, you can…well, feel free.

Sally:               And I do like women. And I’m proud of a lot of women that are doing—look at Rob’s wife.

01:14:01          She changed her major, didn’t she, to decide to go into nursing. And so I think that’s impressive. Marjory has gone back to school. She went into nursing, too, I guess. Marjory was in art, and what was Amanda doing? What was she studying at in Colorado? She was heavier stuff. [Laughs.]

So my experience with my… I don’t think we have any really flighty… Well, maybe. Maybe one. [Laughs.] Not me, though. So I’m just impressed with… And I don’t compare them to men. I don’t think they necessarily do the same thing, or men are not anxious to do what the women are doing, but every now and then they…

01:15:01          And they’re taking better care of their kids now than they used to. I mean, they’ll babysit and do things that I’m not sure Dad would know what to do with us. [Laughs.] So I admire women, and there’s some really outstanding women, I think. And we’re getting them in politics, too. Sometimes they do well and sometimes they don’t.

Carmen:           I guess that’s the case with anybody.

Sally:               Right, and so do the guys. As witness… [Laughs.] So thank you very much.

Carmen:           No, thank you. This has been…it’s always so inspiring to sit with anyone and just hear their story. And you helped me fill in so many gaps I have when I think about the ‘40s at William & Mary, so I really appreciate you giving us your time.

Sally:               We really hit the…a tough… And we didn’t even think it was tough. I mean, we thought it was great that the guys were coming back. The war was over. That was… The war was the tough part, the four years before.

01:16:06          And my older sister was five years older than I was, so she was—a lot of guys, and she had a big class—a lot of guys went in the Army, and some of them didn’t come back.

Carmen:           Yeah, that’s right. Well, thank you again. It’s been great.

Sally:               You’re very welcome. Nice to meet you.

Carmen:           You as well.

01:16:24          [End of recording.]


Non-Commercial Use/Fair Use

Special Collections Research Center at William & Mary Libraries welcomes non-commercial use and access that qualifies as fair use to all unrestricted interview materials in the collection. For more information about fair use, see William & Mary Libraries guidelines here.

The researcher must cite and give proper credit to Special Collections Research Center. The preferred citation is as follows:

  •  [Interviewee name], interview with [Interviewer name]. [Interview date], [Name of Collection], Special Collections Research Center, William & Mary Libraries.

  • Example: Powell, Michael K., interview by Carmen Bolt. June 12, 2017, 50th Anniversary of African Americans in Residence Oral History Project, Special Collections Research Center, William & Mary Libraries.


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