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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida.
Interview With James M. Hudgens by Susan Hudgens
on March 28, 1989
JH: Hello. This is Jim Hudgens calling for Susan.
SH: Hi, Daddy.
SH: I've got it, Liz.
SH: Let's wait until she finds her receiver to put it back
JH: Yeah. Good morning.
SH: Good morning. How much time do we have?
JH: Whatever time you want.
SH: Well, I'm not sure where we're going with this, but we'll
SH: I'm here today interviewing -- wait a minute, I'm going
to do this again. This is Susan Hudgens. I'm at 3100
S.W. 35th Place in Gainesville, Florida, interviewing
James Maynard Hudgens by telephone in his home at
70 Colony Road in Jupiter, Florida. The time is 8:13
on March 28, 1989. Mr. Hudgens .
SH: Would you please state your full name and spell the
latter two names.
JH: My name is James Maynard Hudgens, M-A-Y-N-A-R-D
SH: And, could you tell me where you were born?
JH: Memphis, Tennessee.
SH: And, did you have a lot of family living in Memphis,
JH: No, I had no family living in Memphis, Tennessee. We
actually lived across the Mississippi River on the West
Side in Earl, Arkansas.
SH: And, what was the reason for your being born in Memphis
if you lived in Earl, Arkansas?
JH: That was the closest hospital facility.
SH: That makes sense.
JH: Earl was a little town of about 2,000.
SH: Of about 2,000. Could you tell me a little about your
parents? Could you tell me their names and where they
were from originally?
JH: Mother was Margaret Beatty Hudgens, originally from Earl,
and Maynard Jordan Hudgens, originally from Hulbert,
which was, again, just across from Memphis.
SH: Is Maynard a family name that goes back further than your
JH: Maynard is a family name, I don't know how far it goes
back. I know that Maynard had an uncle by the same name.
SH: What did your parents do? What did they do for a
JH; Well, they most recently -- well, I'll go back a little
bit. Mother was in the insurance business most of her
life and basically casualty insurance as a secretary and
then an underwriter. My dad had a number of jobs.
Earliest job I know of was that he was a rigger, that is,
he prepared cables on Liberty ships that were being used
in the Second World War.
SH: Uh hmmm.
JH: Then he was in the Navy in the South Pacific for a while.
After that he worked at a cotton gin, worked as a carpenter.
He's had a painting business. He's worked at paint shops,
and the last, oh, I guess fifteen or sixteen years of his
life he worked at Lowes in Wilmington, and at the time
of his leaving was assistant manager.
SH: That's Wilmington, North Carolina?
JH: That's correct.
SH: Okay. What took them to Earl, Arkansas? Do you have
JH: Well, I really don't. That was the place where Margaret
lived, and the two places were relatively close together,
so I guess they just chose Earl as a convenient place.
SH: Oh. How long did you all live there? Did you grow up
JH: Oh, I lived there until I was about six or seven. I went
to first grade in Earl, then moved to Clinton, North
SH: And, how long did you live there?
JH: Well, let's see. I lived there about three years, I
guess, second, third and fourth grade. So, maybe a little
bit more than three years.
SH: So then you moved to Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina?
JH: Yes, moved to Wrightsville Beach, and started the fifth
grade at Wrightsville Beach.
SH; Okay. Do you remember -- what is the earliest birthday
party that you remember? Did you have birthday parties
when you were little?
JH: No, I don't remember birthday parties when I was little.
I think the earliest one I can remember -- I must have
been about ten or eleven.
SH: Ten or eleven.
JH: Uh hmmm.
SH: And that would have been at Wrightsville Beach?
SH: Okay. I've heard stories about you going down to the
corner soda fountain and buying yourself an ice cream
cone when you were very, very small. Do you remember
this at all?
JH: Well, I remember going to the corner store which must
have been about two blocks away when I was living in Earl,
so that must have been six years of age or so, and buying
what we used to call an Eskimo Pie. It's ice cream on
a stick covered in a chocolate dip.
SH: That would be vanilla ice cream on a stick covered with
SH: Oh, hmmm. Who was the first teacher you remember in
your early schooling?
JH: I guess the first teacher that I really remember at this
point was in the seventh grade and it was Mr. Fladd. I
remember being very fond of a teacher in the first grade,
but I don't have any idea of what her name is.
SH: Did you enjoy school?
JH: Well, I don't know that I enjoyed school. I didn't dislike
school, but certainly in the early years I must've
SH: In the early years meaning up to about the seventh
JH: Up to the seventh or eighth grade, yes.
SH: I guess that's pretty typical. What kinds of things did
you enjoy plAying when you were little? Do you
JH: Well, I used to play army, which was fairly typical. And
I used to play knights in armor where we would carry
swords and use trash can lids for shields. And we would
joust. Not on horseback, of course, but we would cut
bamboo sticks for lances, and would play like knights of the
SH: Would you joust on foot or on bicycles?
JH: Oh, on foot.
SH: On foot.
JH: We never were clever enough, and probably not brave enough
to do that on bicycles. (laughs)
SH: (laughs) Did you ever get hurt doing that?
JH: Yeah, I got hurt several times. I didn't get speared with
the lance. Fortunately, nobody had lost an eye, but you'd
get hit with your shield, at least.
SH: Well, that sounds like a lot of fun. Um, what other
kinds of things do you remember doing later for fun?
JH: Oh, the kinds of things I did later were being out in the
boat in the marsh, going over to the beach to friends'
houses, playing in the water. We used to swim a lot, and
would swim across Banks Channel where we lived at
Wrightsville Beach. And skiing. Some fishing also.
SH: How far would it be to swim across Banks Channel?
JH: I guess it's probably a quarter of a mile, maybe a little
bit more than that.
SH: And did that worry your parents? Or did they know?
JH: I don't think they knew it. They would have probably
been worried. There wasn't much boat traffic in those
days. I guess there would be -- during the week you could
swim across the Sound, and probably never see a boat.
And on the weekend there would be a few boats, but not a
lot of traffic.
SH: Did you live with just your parents, or did you live with
other family members as well?
JH: No, my grandmother, my mother's mother, lived with us for
quite a while.
SH: And what did you call her?
JH: I called her Mom.
SH: Mom. And was she also from Arkansas?
JH: Yes, she was from Earl, Arkansas.
SH: From Earl, Arkansas. And did she live with you all your
JH: Well, she lived with me up until, hmmm, up until the time
that she died. That must have been late, I mean, early
sixties. Probably 1963 or 1964.
SH: Okay. Did you work as a school person while you were in
JH: Yes, I did things like mow lawns and clean lawns, and I
made doormats out of Coca-Cola caps, and had a little
nursery and planted Royal Poinciana and made cuttings
of azaleas and sold those, and then, when I was about
fourteen I got a job at Newell's which was a shopping
center on -- the only shopping area on Wrightsville
Beach at that time. And I got a job working at a soda
JH: That was a summer job.
SH: A summer job?
JH: Right. And that was a good job because I would have an
hour or an hour-and-a-half off from lunch, and would
usually go by boat, so on lunch hour we would go skiing
or boat riding and then come back.
SH: So you would come back to work all wet and salty?
JH: Well, I'd dry off, put my clothes back on.
SH; Oh, okay. How do you make a mat out of bottle caps?
JH: Well, it's really simple and very crude. You take a
board the size of the mat you want and turn bottle caps
upside down and with small nails, nail them to the board,
line them up in rows. It makes a very effective scraper.
SH: Oh, but not for bare feet.
JH: Not for bare feet at all.
SH: So how long did it take you to collect your bottle caps
enough for one mat?
JH: Oh, it didn't take long because bottle caps were the things
that were used in those days. There were bottles all
drinks, and no canned drinks. So we'd just go up to the
local service station and ask for their bottle caps.
They'd dump them out in a bag for us and take them home.
SH: Well, that's convenient. How much did you sell your mats
JH: I think they were probably sold for a dollar or two.
SH: Oh! Well, that's great.
SH: When did you graduate from high school?
SH: And what high school was that?
JH: New Hanover High School in Wilmington, North Carolina.
SH: Did you do any special activities in high school?
JH: The only special activities I was in was marching band
and symphonic band.
SH: And what did you play?
JH: I played -- originally I played clarinet, then I switched
to saxophone, tenor sax.
SH: Who was your band leader, do you remember?
JH: Yes, in high school it was Bill Adcock.
SH: Bill Adcock. Did you do any playing after high school?
JH: Yes, I played in college. I went to a junior college
called Wilmington College at the time. We used to call
it Isaac Bear University because it was in the Isaac Bear
building. And I played in a dance band and then formed a
dance band where I played mainly alto sax.
SH: That sounds like fun. Can you tell me about your schooling
after high school and past Wilmington College?
JH: Well, two years at Wilmington College. Then, after I
thought I knew an awful lot I went to work at a test
facility where we were testing out equipment, making fresh
water out of salt water. Converting salt water into
fresh water. I worked in the lab, and worked outside
sometimes at the great salary of two dollars an hour.
Then after about two years of that, I finally figured out
I wasn't going to go very far. So I went back to school.
Wilmington College was then a four-year college. I
finished there. It's now the University of North Carolina
at Wilmington. So I got a four-year degree there, a
Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in chemistry, and
let's see, after I moved to Columbia, South Carolina,
and worked with Allied Chemical for about two years, I
went back to graduate school as I was working. Went to
graduate school for two years in the Masters Program.
SH: And that was in Columbia?
JH: In Columbia, South Carolina, right.
SH: At University of South Carolina?
SH: Okay. After school, did you stay in South Carolina, or
did you go back to Wilmington, North Carolina?
JH: No, after school I went back to Wilmington, North Carolina.
I got a job offer from a person who was putting together
a consulting firm, and that's what I was trying to do in
Columbia, and was planning on doing very shortly. So I
came back to Wilmington.
SH: So that was your original objective?
JH: No, the original objective was simply to get into the
environmental consulting business, mainly in water quality.
But when I was visiting in Wilmington, I was talking to
my major undergraduate professor, Jim Parnell, who said
that a person named Dave Adams, who I'd met before, was
trying to do the same thing, why didn't we get together
and talk? So in over the Thanksgiving Weekend, I believe,
in 1969, I went over to Dave's house and we sat outside
for several hours talking about the new business forma-
tion. I decided to join him and come to Wilmington.
The reason we wound up in Wilmington was Dave was on the
White House staff, and it was about the end of
Mr. Humphrey's term. Dave was from North Carolina. He
had family close to Wilmington and he wanted to be on the
coast. And, of course, I had family there and wanted to
be on the coast, so it was kind of a mutual thing.
SH: Could you give me a kind of definition of environmental
consulting, and what that entails?
JH: Wow. Environmental consulting is that group of -- I
u\dv'; say group of sciences because that's -- that doesn't
fit the structure, but environmental consulting is provid-
ing services relative to the environment, and we deal
mainly with the natural environment, not the man-made
SH: Um hmmm.
JH: To determine what impacts a project may have on the
environment and/or to guide development to have the least
impact on the natural environment.
Birthday Parties 5
Bottle Cap Mats 10, 11
College 12, 13
Environmental Consulting 13, 14, 15
Eskimo Pies 6
Grammar School 5
High School 11
Jousting 7, 8
Middle School 6, 7
Parents 3, 4
Water Sports 8, 9