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Interviews

The interviews presented here give voice to the joy and angst of high school years, the teachers and curriculum which shaped their memories, the experiences attending a laboratory school, and provide glimpses of Columbia, South Carolina fifty and sixty years ago, including perspectives on historical events such as President John F. Kennedy's assassination, school desegregation, and later, the Vietnam War.

Click on a name below to read or listen to the full interview.

Pat Bradley
“We always had a good basketball team up there, so before classes every morning, if you got there, to school early, we went to the gym. We were down there playing basketball until the bell rang and then everybody would go to class. So that, uh, kept the basketball team in shape all year long.”
Patricia Mullins

"My father was military, originally from Tennessee. My mother was Italian. She was a war bride from World War II. So my father met her there, while he was stationed in Italy, in World War II. I was the middle of five children. A brother, sister, myself, a younger sister, and then the youngest was a boy. We didn’t have to move that much as military; we stayed in Columbia, except for four years in France. And we had a very close, loving family and we’re still very close......I understand some Italian. Mainly when my mother would get mad (laughter), and when she would get together with other Italian friends, she would speak Italian."

George Calcott

"When I had trouble with my Latin--I was somehow slow with it and it was a difficult subject--my mother had been a Latin teacher at one time and she tutored me along the way, and very successfully.  My father was a professor of history, and we spoke of current events almost daily."

  Clinton B. Harvey
"December 8, 1931...Dr. A. C. Flora, who was Superintendent of Schools at that time...stated [in school board minutes] that he had been approached in regard to using the new Education building (Wardlaw College) for the overflow of [Columbia High School]..."
David Cobb
“My dad owned a bakery in Columbia. I grew up in a bakery... I’m the second of four [children] and it was just a busy time because mom and dad worked a good bit and we all worked at the bakery as we got old enough. We grew up over in the Forest Acres section of Columbia because the bakery was over on Forest Drive. It’s no longer there now, it’s a CVS pharmacy now, and we just lead kind of a normal middle-class family.”
Richard Eckstrom
"What was it like sharing a building with the College of Education?" "It was one of those things that we knew that there was a university College of Education on the other side of the wall. We also knew that we were never to set foot on the other side of the wall, so we really didn’t see any activity. Doors were always closed, and there was a hallway that extended our main hallway floor of the school. I guess it ran all the way through the school to or through the University’s Department of Education but the double doors were always closed, so no one ever saw that."
Gwen (Dreher) Ellisor
Pat Kelly

Gwen Ellisor and Pat Kelly
"I didn’t go out for basketball until I was in the tenth grade… back then you only played 9 other girls… we only played half court then -- which I don’t know if I could have ever made it full court (Laughter)…" Ivy: Did you play other schools? "[Yes] all the way to Chapin to Lexington, everywhere.” -Gwen Ellison

Joann (Davis) Franklin
Betty (Kerns) Starnes
Claire Thompson

Joann Franklin, Betty Jane Starnes, and Claire Thompson
“We also had a canteen on the third floor, we could dance, it had a jukebox, drink machine, a couch, and chairs. I think Claire said that she forgot to tell you about that. It seems like they could dance…” -Joanne Franklin

I remember French club. I had a wonderful French teacher, Mrs. Suydam, Mademoiselle Suydam.” -Betty Starnes

Bonnie Haynes
"We had a great-grandmother who always lived near or with us.  And she was a big inspiration in our life.  She took care of us when we were young, when our parents were working. And she took care of herself until she was 100, almost 104.  She would have been 104 the year she passed away.  But, she was a major influence in our lives."
Jack Haynes
“At University High, the only thing the teachers worried about was running in the hall, chewing gum in class, and smoking in the bathroom…we had student teachers, and that was the purpose of the school, to train the teachers that went to University of South Carolina on how to be a teacher… and in fact, one of my student teachers that taught me in Chorus goes to my church.”
Vera Holroyd
“My dad was a huge influence in my competence in learning how to do anything I wanted to do and he was such a renaissance man for his time. He was a blue-collar railroad worker, but he would quote me chapter and verse of Shakespeare when we were out in the garden planting tomatoes.”
Bill Kelbaugh
“I mean everybody knew everybody so it was, you know, we pulled some stunts. One of the girls was playing basketball one night, people picked her old car up and put it between the two wings of the school and she couldn’t find her car afterwards.”
George Lippard
“We had a great history teacher too. Her name was Miss Lucia Daniel and at the time… I don't know if you've ever heard of Strom Thurmond. He was our senator for about seven terms. He was governor and her brother was his private secretary. She was from Greenwood, South Carolina, her father was an attorney there and her uncle was [the] State Attorney General.”
Deborah Lowery
"I remember Mrs. Suydam S-U-Y-D-A-M. She taught Latin. And there was a brilliant guy in the class, John DeTreville... and I believe he went to Carolina like the next year, he was just a genius…I’d love to know what happened to John DeTreville."
Henry Alan Miller

"Just a bunch of them went to Columbia Christian School and then University High. My mother wanted us to have the best education we could get. University High had a very good reputation. A lot of that crowd, the parents knew each other, we all went to church together as well. A lot of that crowd sent their kids to University High. So, that’s how I got to go there."

James Munro
“Matthew Perry was a young African-American attorney who wanted to get high school students together just to meet each other, just to know each other... And it was there that I got to know some students from Booker T. Washington and from C.A. Johnson [high schools], including Charlie Bolden… eventually he became the head of NASA... It was the first time I had the opportunity to get to know some African-American students as peers.”
Martin Smith

"We have a little group that [still] corresponds occasionally. I guess you think back to those innocent days… it was a very closed community....This was before integration, before a lot of societal changes that had a big impact on the country--and the south especially."

Sennetta Smith

"It was an exciting time, because during presidential elections the candidates would come and speak on the State House steps. We were allowed time off from school, because it had to do with history and problems of democracy, and I remember walking down to hear, of all people, Richard Nixon, when he ran for office, to speak on the state house steps [Nov. 3, 1960]."

Tom Quattlebaum
“My favorite teacher…was Hugh Summer, he taught English. And he said I was very loquacious. I said, “What the heck is loquacious?” He said, “Look it up.” I asked him, “How do you spell it?” And he said, “Figure it out.” But loquacious meant talkative, and I’m sure from our communication you can tell.”
Don Saxon
"Tell me what the feelings and things were of the students and teachers when they found out that University High was closing." "There was a real sadness about it. The classes were so small and the school was so small that everyone knew everybody. I mean you know, you knew all the teachers; even the teachers that you didn’t necessarily have classes with. You knew them. And when we heard about it, it was really sad, but we could understand because the school was growing so fast."
Patricia Saxon
"We had so many practice teachers that came in, in practically every class. And the basketball team would very often come over from USC and scrimmage our boys’ basketball team. So, that was always fun, because we were there during the really, really good years of USC basketball, so that was really neat."
Cy Szakacsi

Cy Szakacsi and Hannah Timmons
“Ernie, a good buddy of mine, he was the coach at University High and Columbia High. And Ernie didn’t know anything about basketball. He said, “Cy, how about you coach some basketball at University High? I will give you half my supplement which comes out to $200.” -Cy Szakacsi

“Cy and I used to do sock hops… I’m not sure we charged them for those sock hops. I know that we had a canteen and they could buy Cokes and stuff. We might have just done that.” -Hannah Timmons

Katherine Janetos Trimnal (1 of 2)
“Each morning we would read a verse from the bible, a student each day would take a turn. We pledged allegiance to the flag, one in front of every classroom, because we wanted to and we were proud of our country.”
Katherine Janetos Trimnal (2 of 2)
“University High was a six-year school--7th through the 12th grades--with small classes, two classes per grade. Usually the student body count was between 350 and 375 for all six grades.
Our school was in this building, Wardlaw College, on the campus of the University of South Carolina.”
Julius Zobel
'
What made you decide to attend University High?' “I think it was just a different opportunity. My choices were going to Hyde Park for junior high and then on to Columbia High or going straight to University High. And part of my dad’s routine everyday was to go to the Post Office which was at that time where the Supreme Court is now. And he would drop me off at the corner there on Gervais and Taylor Street, I think it is, and I would walk on down to school."