Title: Wesley Avery
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00005771/00001
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Title: Wesley Avery
Series Title: Wesley Avery
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Bibliographic ID: UF00005771
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
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F: With Wesley Avery. Wesley is married, and is presently a student at the

University of Florida.

F: O.K. now...so...uh, what was the last job you had ?

W: Teaching.

F: Where ?

W: At William Lanes, in Jacksonville.

F: Are you from Jacksonville ?

W: No...Birmingham Alabama.

F: How long were you in Jacksonville ?

W: Ten years.

F: I'm from Jacksonville too...originally. How did you wind up in Jacksonville ?

W: That's another long story in a way. Well...well, I met my wife in college...

F: Um huh.

W: And when we got married, I didn't want to live in Birmingham...and Jacksonville,

e MFeaa atstr...i eI felt, so I moved there.

F: I see. Where were you a policeman ?

W: In Jacksonville.

F: You were ?

W: Um huh.

F: You were a policeman first...before you were a teacher ?

W: Yeah...um huh.

F: I see. After you had graduated from college.

W: No, see I worked in a mental hospital first...in recreational therapy...

F: Um huh.

W: Then after working there a few years, I left there, and became a policeman

in Jacksonville.



F: With Wesley Avery. Wesley is married, and is presently a student at the

University of Florida.

F: O.K. now...so...uh, what was the last job you had ?

W: Teaching.

F: Where ?

W: At William Lanes, in Jacksonville.

F: Are you from Jacksonville ?

W: No... Birmingham Alabama.

F: How long were you in Jacksonville ?

W: Ten years.

F: I'm from Jacksonville too...originally. How did you wind up in Jacksonville ?

W: That's another long story in a way. Well...well, I met my wife in college...

F: Um huh.

W: And when we got married, I didn't want to live in Birmingham...and Jacksonville,

St .r.I felt, so I moved there.

F: I see. Where were you a policeman ?

W: In Jacksonville.

F: You were ?

W: Um huh.

F: You were a policeman first...before you were a teacher ?

W: Yeah...um huh.

F: I see. After you had graduated from college.

W: No, see I worked in a mental hospital first...in recreational therapy...

F: Um huh.

W. Then after working there a few years, I left there, and became a policeman

in Jacksonville.



F: But you already had your four year degree ?

W: Oh yeah...um huh.

F: That's what I wanted to know. I see. How was that ? Did you start...like

a patrolman with a college degree ?

W: Yeah...that's right. If you know anything about Jacksonville man, I don't

care what you had, you know, getting on the police force, you started down

at the bottom...

F: Um huh.

W: As a patrolman, and if you stayed there long enough, you moved up.

F: Is that if you're black, oris that if you're white or black ?

W: Either...it doesn't matter.

F: Education means nothing to them ?

W: No, no it appeared that it didn't...that's one reason I left. You know,

you get into a situation where...if you're a thinking individual, and

you're more or less told all the time what to do, you know, you can't hardly

take that very long.

F: How long were you a police officer ?

W: Two years.

F: Didn't seem like ou took very long.

W: Un uh...I didn't enjoy it. This is why I left.

F: Um huh.

W: You know, I have to do...you know, when you have to make decisions, and then

you always have somebody breathing over you, saying, "Well you shouldn't have

done that, you shouldhl have done it this way," or...eventually they wind

up telling you everything to do, and then they tell you, you have to make

your own decisions...so I just couldn't cut it. I just didn't want...

SUBJECT: Fi tAN W&t&&&fg


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F: When you graduated from atP-td what was your original purpose ?

What were you going to do ?

W: Enter medical school. I was going to medical school.

F: I see. What happened with that ?

W: Well, my parents didn't have the money for me to go...

F: Um huh0'

W: And uh...the next thing that happened...my father go sick shortly after I

finished, and then I had to work, aNd help take care of the family...so

that just put medical school out of the question.

F: I see. Were you a good student at ~ftE aid ?

W: I say about average.

F: What did you think when you got the questionnaire ?

W: Well, let me see...how did I really feel about it ? My initial reaction

to that questionnaire, was I wondered if anybody was really trying to do

something about, you know, what...the situation here, at the university.

I decided maybe they were, and I would try andhelp them. And another
reaction I had, well, I'm in hvaa, research, you see, and I know the problem

of getting people to answer questionnaires, and getting them back to you.

And so, you know, this kind of made me want to go on and do it so I could help

you with whatever research you were doing.

F: Um huh. Yeah, that definitely has been a problems

W: Um huh.

F: What department are you in ?

W: Well, I'm in CNIo

F: Um huh.

W: But...I have a Fellowship that's uh, in Ed. research.



F: I see. Is that in the foundations department ?

W: Yeah.

F: Yeah, that's the department where I got my degree...with Hal Owens.

W: Oh yeah.

F: Have you met Hal Owens ?

W: Yeah.

F: What did you think about the questionnaire ?

W: Well, you mean...how did I...uh...let me see, how can I answer that...uh...

I'm trying to think of what to...I thought that some...some issues...I don't

know whether...I'm interpreting my feelings right. That you might of been

forcing the issue, or forcing me to make a choice in some areas, and uh, I

...a choice I was sometimes reluctant to make.

F: You mean because the finite number of answers jt to a particular question...

W: Yeah.

F: In other words, you had to put down an answer which you didn't feel any of

the answers were really the answer that you would have given,

W: Yeah, um huh.

F: All right, now that's one of the reasons that I'm conducting interviews.

W: Um huh.

F: To give students a chance to be able to talk about the kinds of things...

and in a manner...which because of the nature of a questionnaire they can't

do. Do you remember anything in particular, that, you know, you would like

to have expounded upon ?

W: Well one area I would have liked to say more on was that area of uh, you

know, of...well, I think you listed some...you had a chance to list some

reasons why people you know didn't come here...



F: Um huh.

W: And uh...well, I put three sentences on there, and they pretty much said

what I wanted to say, but, you know, I could have...

F: Well, why don't you do that now.

W: I don't know if I'm going to have that much time this afternoon or not.

F: Do...are you pressed for time ?

W: Yeah, I am...I have to go.

F: What time do you have to go ?

W: I have about 6:15...I, it's...

F: Well..well...

W: If that's not putting you too close.

F: Well, I mean, I was kind of hoping that it would be closer to about 45

minutes or an hour, but we'll do what we can...o.k. ?

W: Well, I'll tell you what I can do, if you...if it's o.k. with you. On

Friday I have a whole day...

F: Um huh.

W: And I can come in anytime then, and could talk to you at length, and...

F: O.k., well then let's talk some, and I'll save the tape, and we can begin


W: O.k.

F: Why don't we talk about that then...about why, you know, why students

don't come here...at least people you know.
W: O.k., if I go back to...uh...last year. When I was talking with some of the

teachers about coming down here, they still had a lot of misconceptions

about what, you know, really goes on at this school...

F: Um huh.



W: They still believe...some of them do...they still believe, you know,

still a part of that...kind of segregationist attitude. They don't

want you...don't want us here, so therefore, in the classes and so forth,

you know, there would possibly be some prejudice in grading, and so rather

than come and fight an issue like that, they would rather go somewhere

else. Where they believe they are wanted, and uh, they would be given

an equal chance. And I had one other idea on...thought on it...can't...

F: Are these mainly teachers at Raines, that you came in contact with, that

were thinking of going back to graduate school ?

W: Well, some of them were teachers at Raines, and some of them are my

friends, you know.

F: Um huh.

W: And...well, I'm an individual like this...I saw a chance for me to get

ahead by coming here, you know, due to the fellowship that I got, and I

was trying to encourage more individuals, that were in the school, because

of the, you know, this...uh...decission, this turn over they had in


F: Um huh.

W: ...by the courts. I was trying to get them to come back to school, you

know, to get a little bit better prepared...at least to get a Master's

Degree, but, you know, each person I approached had some nagging feeling

about how they would be received at the school.

F: Why did you want them to come here ?

W: Well, the main reason...was that, I know that...most of the people who I

knew...if they went to school, they would need some help. And this university,

after I got involved in it, a lot of the professors I came in contact with,



W: ...were constantly asking me, did I know of anyone else...any other black

person that would want to go7 Because they had some Fellowship money,

and they could go. And I listened to that, and I thought about the chance,

that you know, some of them would never have, was now existing, and so they

could possibly come on down here while they did have the money, and take

advantage of it, and they would have...could get their Master's Degrees?

and they would have a little bit more security. And I was hoping they

could see it as that, and take advantage of it, and come on down.

F: Um huh.

W: And so this is why I approached them in the beginning.

F: Do you remember wha---when you were in Jacksonville...there's this feeling,

sort of an abstract kind of general feeling, about the university, do you

remember hearing any particular events, to, you know, describe what would

make people apprehensive about coming ?

W: Well, you...it's nothing you could put your finger on...if you just think

about...say...ten years ago...this struggle that some of us were having...

some of the people living in Jacksonville, or anywhere...black people in

Jacksonville, or anywhere in Florida were having just getting in here

...period. And uh...no one has made any particular effort to uh...to -lie

people there in Jacksonville...say...to show them that the university's

policy is not like it was. They know that uh, some few blacks have come

here...and well, some of them were successful. And then they know of

in--- uh, I know of one individual, I think that came down here, a black

girl, and eventually she left, and no one knows exactly why she did leave.

Well, that was just one instance of it, but they mayfp know of other times,

when other blacks came here...


F: Um huh.

W: And...

F: That...I'm sorry go ahead.

W: No...and, and, you know, some of the things happened to them and so it's

sort of like, uh...you know, once a myth...rumor gets started, you don't

know where the origin is, but a lot of the people react to that particular


F: Um huh. About how many people came from Jacksonville the same time you

did ?

W: Well, three...you have three girls that are enrolled in the uh...under-

college, whatever they call it here. And myself...well, my wife was here

the year before, and she's teaching here in the city...in uh...

F: She's teaching where ?

Wt Here, in the city.

F: Oh, I see...in the public schools.

W: Um huh. Yeah.

F: Oh, I see.

W: And that's all I know of that came here from Jacksonville.

F: Did you know Roy Mitchell in Jacksonville ?

W: No, I don't know him...I didn't...I really didn't. He was there, but I...

F: Where did he teach ?

W: I think he was over at Butler.

F: Um huh.

W: And that's in another section of town, and I just never ran across him.

F: Right. What was he, a count lor ?



W: I think so.

F: What is your field ?

W: Uh...Biology.

F: Oh yeah, because you were going to Medical School.

W: Um huh.

F: I think there W a lot of Biology teachers...

W: Oh yeah.

F: ...going to Medical School at one time.

W: Um huh.

F: Since you've got here...do you think the feeling, or the myth, or whatever

it is...is justified...that exists, let's say in Jacksonville...which

probably exists most elsewhere.

W: Yeah. Well...I don't know, I think one thing that the...uh...president

could do...should do awa---if he would make a stand, or take a particular

...a stand, uh, in the direction, you know, that the school is...you know,

willing, and ready, and is accepting, you know Negros. And uh...if he did

this, if he took a stand, I believe more people would be willing to come

here. But...any time, I don't know, you may not look at the situation

...in the same way I look at it, but any time a person...or a leader, you

know, makes no particular stand...I tend to look at it kind of suspiciously.

You know, I just don't know what he's for, but if he makes a stand one way,

or the other, I know what I have to do.

F: Um huh.

W: You know, to get along with him. And...so far, I haven't heard of any stand

that he took, you know, except a lot of words. And I haven't seen anything

meaningful...that he's really done.


W: And then another thing that I think too...that I know we discussed this a

lot in...with uh...a lot of faculty members. One statement that Ray

Graves made...about he will not recruit---cruitingMany blacks, say for

Atheletics here, and uh, you know, he was saying they couldn't stand up under

the academic pressure. And uh, connected with that...I've also heard about

the university talking about grades. You know, they're saying that the uh

black students don't...ar et academically ready for going here, and they

continue to mention grades. When to a large extent it's not grades that

they are basing their decision on. It's their performance on their

Twelfth-Grade Test, say in the case of undergraduates, and on graduates it's

their performance on the GRE...to a large extent. Almost any kind,of, you

know, record you have...wouldn't do you any good, as far as getting, you

know, gaining admission here, unless you did well on either one of those

tests. And if...if they would say...well every---well, allof...I can't

say all...most of us feel that, you know, we...most of us know that the

GRE is the thing, say for graduate school, or that Twelfth Grade Test

is the thing fo Undergraduate School. But ...the university continues to

say grades...if they were relying soley on grades, then this population

of this university...as far as black students were concerned...would have

quite a few more black students here...I believe.

F: Yeah...I think lhat I have heard...there is...if you talk about academic

ability as students...and I think that they...sort of lump them together,

but I think you're a 100% right...that it is the Senior Placement Test,

that keeps people out of here.

W: Yeso


F: But why...why do they have the Senior Placement Test, as you see it ?

W: Well, I haven't the faintest idea...really. I really never even thought

about it...why have it period ?

F: Well, I think...that if you were to talk to the powers that be, they would

say something like...it's difficult to judge, you know, the quality of

high schools...

W: Um huh.

F: In other words, some high schools are alot better than others. So, a 'B'

at one high school is not the same as a 'B' at another high school. So,

they say, to try to have some kind of standard kind of way, of figuring

out, you know, who the better students are. The same would apply to
Graduate School, in other words, a 3.0 4erage at the University of Florida

is not a 3.0 average at Harvard.

W: Um huh.

F: And if your applying to this school, and the best students have a 3.0, or

something, I mean, I think that's the point...to try to get some kind of

standard, you know, to make some kind of common denominator.

W: Um huh. But then if you start looking at tests, per say...instead of

looking at whether they are valid or not, you know...

F: Um huh.

W: Or the reliability of a particular test...uh, that Twelfth Grade Placement

Test...does not really mean, if a student makes a bad score, or a low

score, not a bad score, but a low score...this does not really mean that he

couldn't function well in college...nor does the GRE...nor does a low score

on the GRE mean he can't function well in college.

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F: What do you think the test does show ? Let's have that one at a time.

What about the Senior Placement Test ?

W: Umh...about...I mean I'm just...against, using that as a...really...a

criterion for admission.

F: What would you use ?

W: Uh...I just...I don't know what I would use.

F: How would you change admission policies ?

W: One thing I maybe would do, and this is not being fair to most of the

...most students who apply here, you know, keeping in mind that there

are a tremendous amount of students in the state of Florida, white and black,

that would like to go on fo higher education. And I would sort of set up

a probationary period, you know, in admitting students...say, if you did

have students, uh, say showed...as far as grades are concerned...whatever

grades they got in school...they show that by grades they may have had

some promise, and then if you looked at the Twelfth Grade Test eand I

wouldn't want to put a number down as to what score they should make, but

if they showed some promise on the test, I would put them on a probationary

period, and give them a chance to go..o

F: Um huh.

W: ...to school, and then, you know, see how they performed...and then, you

know, admitt"them to full status...once they showed they could perform well

in the school.

F: Similar to the way they do...like 6ED ?

W: Yeah. Yeah. But, I know some schools have, uh, set up programs that they

call Guided Studies Programs, and uh, in this way students who...uh...

you know, not say---who are not the higher ability students... But, the

lower ability students...who a...through some criteria...are judged that


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W: ...they possibly would have success in college. They give them a chance,

and take them through this particular Guided Studies Program, and then

once they're beyond that, you know, they give them regular status, then they

go on. And this may mean the student to spend five years...instead

of the normal four, but he would get a chance, you know, to see if he

would have some success at going to school.

F: Would you include whites and blacks in this program ?

W: All students.

F: Um huh.

W: This is...

F: Uh...the problem...being, I think blacks make what...20% of the state. I've

heard that figure.

W: Yeah, I've heard it. I don't...

F: I don't know...well, the point is...it's a lot smaller percentage than whites.

And so...allowing, say students, and we would set up some arbitrary number,

Let's say 200 or 250...whatever it happens to be on the Senior Placement

Test. You would have some kind of minimum wouldn't you...you wouldn't

just have anybody ?

W: No. I, I say I wouldn't...to get around putting, you know, any particular

figure there. I didn't...just wouldn't suggest a-kig1r,...but if...

F: But there would be a number wouldn't there ?

W: Yeah.

F: Right, right. So I'm saying, there would be a whole lot more whites...

in that category, than there would be blacks...right ?

W: Yeah.



F: Because just because there're so many more whites in this state. And...I

teach American Institutions, and most of our courses have about 40 students,

and you know...

W: Um huh.

F: ...now, and things don't look much better for the future...as far as money

for the university and so forth. Now...an influx of all these, you know,

new students, in addition to those we've been getting upward to 2800 a


W: Um huh.

F: ...Uh, I think there's a problem there, because, you know, we just don't

have the money...so there has to be a choice made...I think.

W: Um huh.

F: Because, you know, in other words, you're saying..."We let all those

students who want to come...with a 250, and a 2.0"..we might have...we now

have 8000 applicants, we might have, you know, 16,000 applicants.

W: Yeah...I mean, that's a problem we run into with how we're still operating

schools in the state...in the name of public education.

F: Um huh.

W: And uh...and I look at this as denying some student a chance to gain, you

know, get a...

F: Well put. Yeah.

W: You know, what he wants.

F: I'm sort of being a Devil's Advocate, to find out, you know, you know,

what you feel about some of these things. What about people that say,

"Well, they can go to junior college." ?



W: Well, some of them uh...the students that I know, have run into problems

in a junior college, and in that, you know, well, almost any student can,

I don't know what criteria they use for admitting students to a junior

college, but I..,

F: Almost every junior college has a completely open door policy...anybody

that graduates can goo

W: But, then I have heard of...and this...I mean, what I'm saying here...

won't be used in any way...I mean, you know,..

F: You mean as far as...?

W: Yeaho

F: Oh, no...

W: No, what I'm saying is...I have nothing to back up what I'm going to say,

but I'm going to say it anyway.

F: Oh, I see.

W: But, I've heard of some students...say, that went to...I think that's

North Florida, in Jacksonville,whatever...Florida Junior College...

F: Florida Junior College. J.C.

W: ...in Jacksonville. Umh...I've heard them continuously, you know, students

I've talked, continuously come back to me, and tell me about how prejudiced

some of the teachers are there. And they're not only passing this word on,

you know, to me...they're passing it on to other students leaving the

school. So, a lot of students are looking at...uh, a lot of students that

I taught are looking at the junior colleges not a way to go. You know,

they're just...they just don't want to get in the...the students, before

they ever told them that, that the junior college teachers...some of the

junior college teachers.;.,are prejudiced...and they grade with prejudice,

and so they don't want to go there.



W: And so, this may not be the answer, unless the ju...I mean, sending the

students to the junior college...unless that particular policy is changed.

And uh...I believe that some must exist, because, you know, I've had too

many different students come back, and tell me,the same thing. They

haven't named any teachers, but they've told me this particular

situation existed there.

F: And you think that...there's less of a chance for prejudice to come to

the four...at the university, than at a junior college ?

W: I believe...I just believe it is. Yeah, I mean, it has...say take your

class, you have...if you have...in your class, you have forty students,

and you are seeing them on a quarterly basis...

F: Um huh.

W: There's less chance, you can't really get a chance to know all of your

students, you know, on a quarter. By the time you learn half of them,

you know, the quarter is half over, or all the way over.

F: Um huh.

W: And uh...you more or less, if you gave test, you would more or less just

grade tests, and not wonder about the individual that took the test.

And to a large extent, I just don't believe...say at this place...that

some of the professors would have time to en, you know, say engage in

that particular art...prejudice.

F: Well, except for the fact that...uh...most sociologists are aware of the

fact that disability has a whole lot to do with prejudice...

W: Right.

F: And, you'd be right, if the variable we were talking about were, let's

say rural people Some people just don't like rural people and colored




F: ...people, and the argument would say, well, maybe I better find out who

they really are...and so, you know, it might never come to the fore, because

they wouldn't ever find out. Now I don't think there are too many professors

on this campus that don't know who there black students are...

W: Yeah, well I agree with that. But...well, I think...use myself for an

example...in all the classes I take, I'm the only one in there, and most of

the time, say someone, you know, some of them want to know our names...and

so I don't worry about giving him my name but one time, because I know he'll

remember me. I'm the odd man, you see...

F: Yeah.

W: You know, going back to disability. And uh...well, one...this is going

back to my first...uh...statement...one of my statements. If there were

more of us here...then there'd be less of thatoo.you know.

F: Um huh. It seemed that like you were talking about at the junior college...

the variable was not, you know, large school-small school, it seemed to be

the quarter system as opposed to the semester system, as far as the time

someone got to know the children.

W: Yeaho This is...this is true in that particular case...yeah. But, I only

know one thing we're going to have to do period...in the next...uh...what

we need to be doing right now, is putting pressure on that legislature.

You know, for more monies for schools...period.

F: Um huh.

W: Because...even if they keep the same standards that they have now, they're

either going to have to give more money to public education, or they're

going to have to raise the standards, the existing standards that they have,



W: ...now, which will deny even more people the opportunity to go, you know,

on for higher learning. And that may be one of the problems we're going to

have to face, and really get on the legislature to help us out. You...

well, if you look at the classes you teach, you know, forty students,

what can you do...really...with forty students. I mean, how much

interaction can you have ? You can have a lot, but I mean, how many

students, you know, are not really in...in it in your class ? You know,

you just don't have any kind of...hardly any kind of interaction with

forty students. And...I know this is a different level of teaching

than the one in which I taught...35 students...see...in high school.

Well, that was quite a few students, 1i .-e- 'really,

you know, interact with. And...the legislature is just going to have to

do something, because money is going to have to come in from somewhere.

More building is going to have to go on, or the standards are going to

have to be raised.

F: Um huh. I know you've got to go. Let me just ask you one more question,

before you do. At the same time a lot of black teachers went back to

school, this is when the transition was made in Jacksonville (Is that

what you referred to...with white teachers and black teachers switching

schools ?)...

W: Yeah.

F: Did any go to Florida A.&M. ?

W: You mean...

F: Instead of coming here.

W: You mean...to uh...

F: To go back to school.



W: Oh. Oh, almost every year they do go...and then, say...some of those who

I was trying to encourage to come on down here...

F: Um huh.

W: You know, and...you know, try...and see what went on. They uh...they, even,

even though there was money here...say, for fellowships, and they had to pay

their way through A.&M., they went on to A.&M.

F: Because the reasons you talked about ?

W: Yeah.

F: Because of the fear of coming here ?

W: Yeah.

F: Have you spoke to any of those people since they've been at A.&M., and

you've been here ?

W: No. No, I haven't really had a chance to talk to them...because I've been

down here most of the time...

F: Um huh.
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W: You know...well, I moved onii-Jacksonville here.

F: How long are you going to be here ?

W: Now...hopefully...two more years...hopefully.

F: Are you working on a Master's, or a Doctorate ?

W: Well, eventually a Doctorate.

F: Um huh.

W: Once I get straight, but I'm going to get the Master's first. And...

F: Is it going to take you two years to get a Master's ?

W: No. I'll be...I should be through with that this June.

F: Then what are you going to do for the next year ?



W: Well, I'll still be in school here.

F: Working towards a Doctorate ?

W: Yeah...taking all the course work.

F: I see.

W: You know...yeah.

F: How've you been doing in school so far ?

W: Pretty good. I haven't...I haven't pressed down since I've been here, you

know, I've just...I really don't have anything to motivate me here.

F: What do you mean ?

W: I just don't...have anything. I know that. I was comparing this

school with Birmingham Southern, I spent a summer there, and...

F: Is that a predominantly black school ?

W: No, no, no...that's a white

F: I see.

W: It just recently desegregated...and uh...well, there was a lot more

pressure there...on me, as far as, you know, staying with the classes and

so forth...and it's just that...I was motivated there...and I'm not here.

F: Well, do you have any idea what the difference is ?

W: I've been here almost a year, and I can't figure it out yet...just why I

was...basically, I don't even have any...I read what I'm supposed to read,

you know, and uh...other than that I don't even have any desire to, you

know, get any more. I've been trying to stimulate myself...you know, by

telling myself...telling me what I needed to do to prepare myself for when

I left here

F: Um huh.

W: But I still can't generate anything



How long ago did you go to Birmingham Southern ?

It was in the summer of..let me see...'68 summer.

Oh, so it wasn't that really long ago ?

Un uh.

I see.


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