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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida
Lumbee Indian Oral History Project LUL 33/
Interviewed by Lew Barton
October 20, 1972
B: This is October 20, 1972. I am Lew Barton, interviewing for the
Doris Duke Foundation American Indian Oral History Program under
the auspices of the University of Florida. Today we are in the
office of the Carolina Indian Voice in Pembroke, North Carolina
on Highway 711 just outside the city limits where I work as
editor of the paper. And with me is Mr. Larry Revels also of
Pembroke. Would you spell your name for us, Mr. Revels?
B: And that first name is Larry, L-a-r-r-y? We have to spell these
names so that the typist will be able to spell them correctly
on her transcript. And how old are you?
R: I am 22, and next birthday is November 4 in a couple of weeks away.
B: Who was your father and mother? I know, but I want you to tell us
on the tape.
R: My father was the late James Russell Revels, and-he died in 1968,
and my mother is Trixie Oxinhe-im--?) Revels.
B: That's T-r-i-x-i-e, and that last name which you'd already spelled.
How many children were in your family, Larry?
R: Well, surprisingly enough, there was ten.
B: Ten. I'll bet you can not give me their names and ages.
R: I'll give you the names but not the ages.
B: OK. You told us how old you are. Suppose we start with the oldest
one and come on down.
R: Well, the oldest in the family was a boy, which is Franklin Revels.
He's married at this time.
R: The next one is Jean. She's married to Demrey (?). The next one
is Mary 4rQ!3e. She's a Byers now.
R: Right. Next one is my brother, James Revels. And the next one is
Faye Revels which she married the Jacobs boy which he is the ...
B: What is his first name? Do you know that?
R: Ed Jacobs.
B: J-a-c-o-b-s. And they're kind of scattered out now, aren't they?
I mean, your brothers and sisters who are married. How many are
at home now?
R: At one time, we were scattered around, but there's only one away
B: Is that right?
R: My sister, Mary Byer. She lives in West Virginia.
B: I see. Larry, you just came out of service, did you not?
R: Yes, sir. I did.
B: Now, what branch of service were you in?
R: I was with the Army, stationed with the Signal Corps Unit.
B: You are a Lumbee Indian?
R: Yes, sir. I am.
B: Did this give you any problems when you were in the service? Or
did it help you? Was it an asset or a liabilityT What would you
R: Well, I don't think it was either one, really, or the guys didn't
show it. We were all livingthere together.
B: Sort of neutral, right? Let me see, you've got your education.
Did you graduate from the high school here? P ngLk /tl, fr cb
R: Yes, sir. I did.
B: That's Pembroke Senior High or Pembroke High School?
R: Well, it was Pembroke High School which is now the Junior High.
The class I graduated with was the last class to graduate from
the old Pembroke High.
B: They now have a great new building in another location, and they've
taken the old high school building for the junior high school
R: Yes, sir. That's right.
B: Do you know what year you graduated in?
R: I graduated in '68.
B: Are you married?
R: No, sir. I'm not.
B: Fortunately or unfortunately?
R: Fortunately, I'd say.
B: How long have you been out of service, Larry?
R: About three and a half months.
B: How long did you stay in service?
R: I was a draftee, and after I got into the initial part of getting
all of paperwork straight in service, I signed up one extra year so
I could go to the school of my choice.
B: I see. Which school was this?
_-r it -to
R: Fort Mullet Signal School. A thirty-seven week electronic repair
B: And this is what used to be the Signal Corps?
R: Yes, sir.
B: And did you study things like electronics and this sort of thing?
R: Yes. The course was designed to take the regular men off the street
and bring them into the course, and tfheyre supposed to graduate and
know enough about the machinery ihe wa -s- d_-t-e-- actually go out
into the field and repair it by himself, with little or no supervision.
B: Well, that's good. Did you do combat duty while you were in service?
R: No. I did not. I went to a Combat Zone but I did not actually perform
any combat. All it was was defense of perimeter of the base I was on.
That was it. Standing, just guard duty.
B: In other words, probably still classed as combat duty, I suppose.
This was in Vietnam?
R: Yes, sir. It was.
B: Which part of Vietnam were you in?
R: It was Binh Wah Army Base.
B: Binh Wah. How do you spell that now? Or do you know? I couldn't.
R: You've got me.
B: Binh Wah Army Base. Well, were you in a lot of danger? I mean,
bombings. Were there any bombings and things of this nature. I
mean, it's impossible to be in Vietnam, I suppose, without being in
danger because you never know what's going to happen next but .
R: Right. Not quite frequently but occasionally there would be bombs
dropped around where I was stationed. "-Ei4her it was early in the
morning or ate at night.
B: How about the morale of your army buddies? Was it good?
R: Yes, it was. The ones I was with over in Germany and over in Nam were
B: You did some time in Germany also?
R: Yes, sir. I was with the Signal Corps group over there, ( IRATcom
), for eight months.
B: I see, which duty did you prefer? I shouldn't ask. I think I know.
R: Well, I preferred really Nam over Germany because I think I learned
more there. I met actually better people than I did over in Germany,
more intelligent people, ( ,J ___ ) conversations with and
therefore you would learn from them.
B: Well, that ( just goes to prove that an interviewer shouldn't assume
anything. I thought you would have been happier in Germany.
R: Also in Nam, I was getting more money.
B: Well, that helps, doesn't it?
R: Yes, it does.
B: How about the attitude of the people toward Americans? You know, we have
out a book, or somebody has out a book which came out several years ago
called, The Ugly American that says, in effect, that our troops have be-
come hated around the world because of their ill-manners and things like
this. What do you think of that?
R: I think that is entirely true. Really, to see how, like over in Nam how
the guys would treat the girls while they were in the clubs, they would
grab at them, call them names, and just really tear them apart. I guess
it was kind of hard for them to work there but if they were getting more
money there than they could acquire off base.
B: And do you think that this is one of the causes that we have come to be
called the Ugly American or considered to be the Ugly American, the
R: Yes, I think it is. Enlisted men would go out to the towns and really
think, well, I'm an American, I'm here to really defend you so I should
have the run of the place. That's not the attitude I had. It was the
attitude that some, and you may say most, had, the ones I was stationed
B: Would you say this was a form of arrogance, you know? Haughtiness, a
little of "I'm better than you," "I'm richer than you," and this sort
R: Yes, that's basically what it's leading up to.
B: Do you think they resent Americans because they are better fixed fi-
nancially, better off financially? Do you think this is one factor
R: Yes, you got to look at both sides of it. I'm sure they maybe hold a
grudge and resent you and say, well, I wish I were in your shoes, but
I'm not so/ going to try and knock you down.
B: Larry, how did you feel in service as a Lumbee Indian? Do you think
that Lumbee Indians are just about as patriotic as anybody else?
,', Jt ,. I. -,
R: I know I was. I neverImet another Lumbee Indian while I was in service.
B: You didn't feel any different from the other guys who were in service in
R: No. I did not. I felt equal to them, and in a lot of cases, my abilities
were greater than theirs, in the field that we were trained for.
B: And they accepted you rig y?
R: Yes, they did. We sit around and we talked about it.
B: On equal terms. Of course, not all of our people are as fair as you are,
you know. -4fyou think they might have mistaken you for a Caucasian, a
pure Caucasian or something like this?
R: First off, there's a lot of Spanish people in the service, and they would
come up to me and start talking Spanish .I7 ":,'::' :;' J. -
B: Do you know any Spanish?
R: I didn't have any at all. Just little words you pick up from-the TV
B: That's very interesting. Did you learn any other languages while you
were overseas? Or pick up any words?
R: Oh, yeah. You always pick up a few words from different countries you
B: Do you think you would ever like to go back overseas? In the service
R: If I decided to go back into service agatn, I would definitely rather
be stationed overseas than in the states 'cause there's a lot more you
can, well, it's less expensive for you to do it while you're in ser-
vice and see all these different places and really learn a lot from it.
B: You saw a lot of contrast between your treatment in service and your
Robe~ t e
treatment, say, in Soa-nsen County? Or attitude, I'm talking a@ t bb"J
general attitudes now.
R: No, it was completely different. Like, &-s referring to the white
man over, I guess, out of 7tbi4n County or out of the state, not
quite as bad as it is here in the county, especially Pembroke, Lum-
berton, -eae ex you always have. rbAPI. CI)r ,i'
B: I wonder why they feel this way toward us, Larry. Have you ever thought
R: I've thought about it, but I can't come up with any suitable answers.
I really can't understand it. Well, you have to live with it.
B: Do you think something might have to do with numbers because we are
great in number in this county? What I mean is, when I was in service,
I was stationed in Virginia, and a town in Virginia, the name of which
I will not mention, but this town hated sailors, it seemed, and they were
prejudiced against sailors, but army guys could come in, you know, soldiers
or marines, and they were treated better than we were.
R: Almost like guests, /7Y L.
B:"i Because we just about overran the place. There were so many of us, sailors,
and I'm wondering if this comparison is valid between that situation and
the situation here in Rebertson County where there are several tens of
thousands of Indians, where the Indians are almost equal in number with
the other two races. Do you think there might be a comparison between
those two situations?
R: Well, the way I feel, it could be one reason, one small one of many. I
think a real big reason is that they're white, we're Indian, and white
is supreme at this time.
B: And you think that most of the white people in ReBoteon County are
R: Definitely. Beyond a shadow of a doubt.
B: Do you think, of course, you wouldn't know exactly how a black man would
feel in service, but according to your observations, did you notice any
difference in the way he was treated and the way you were treated?
R: I think I was accepted more -to the group than the black man was.
B: Yes, but is this true in Robert-aee? Are Indians accepted more into /
the group, as you say? Are they more acceptable by the average Cau-
casian than the black man? In Robert-eon.
R: I would not know.
B: There's very little contact, then, between Indians and blacks in
R: Very little, I would say so.
B: And very little between Indians and whites?
R: Yes, sir. That is right. I really can't see going out of my way to make
friends with them. The whites ( 9) -w ) .\ If you
put one foot forward, they should put one. If you put one and they don't
any, then you shouldn't put another one. It's begging.
B: In other words, you think that they should meet you halfway.
B: We do have a unique situation, it seems, and I,'ve tried to define it
or get someone to define it, what it meant to them, and it's always
very interesting to know how people feel about this. Do you feel
prejudiced toward the black man? That's a personal question. Don't
answer it unless you .
R: I do not have any prejudice whatsoever.
B: How about the Caucasian?
R: On my side, not.' Maybe after the data, maybe that's self-guilt or .
B: Do you think that they have reason that they might think that we are
also prejudiced toward them?
R: I don't know 'cause in this area I haven't really talked to that many
B: You've lived a great deal of your life out in the county, and in all
that time, you haven't had many contacts with Caucasians within iRobet-
son County? P, aj
R: No, I have not.
B: Do you think that this is kind of tragic or ironic?
R: Tragic would be a good word for it.
B: Do you feel that people miss something by not having interchange of
ideas between groups and some kind of association at least?
R: Right.f It's really bad that it's only eleven, twelve miles between the
two towns yet so close and-yet so far away. f L'-^I
'crp r ,, ^ U t- ^ C u- i 'C-. LJ
B: Well, Larry, do you feel that when the Indians invited Caucasian students
to attend Pembroke State University which was originally Pembroke State
College for Indians, when they took this initiative, and the groups got
together, it took an act of the General Assembly, by the way, but they
did it. Do you think this should have been accepted as a gesture toward
better understanding on our part? Do you think this was an actual gesture
on our part toward the Caucasians for better understanding between our
two races? These are Caucasians and Indians I'm talking about.
R: No, not really.\ What I understood was that enrollment was very low at
that time. /4t wasn% really even supporting itself.
B: So it was a practical measure, then, you think.
R: I don't think they should invite, they should maybe offer, but I don't
think they should went as far as ways to take the Indian name away
from the school. Maybe she got state funds or federal funds even if
there's only one hundred attending. I think it should have stayed an
B: Do you think our offer was equally inviting where the black people
R: No, it wasn't. Sure wasn't. They're willing to let the whites come in
and take over, but they didn't want any of the blacks to ( c--- ).
And I'm sure that if they could kick out the Indians, they'd do that
B: Do you think this is an attitude on the part of the Caucasians or on
the part of the Indians or both?
R: It's probably both.
B: Probably some of them both. Well, Larry, if you had an opportunity, this
is a hypothetical question, but if you had the opportunity to change any-
thing you wanted to in Rober-tson County, what would you change? Or do
you want to think about that for a while? What would be the first thing
you would change?
R: Well, the attitude between the races toward one another. That would be
the first thing, and I think it is the most important thing.
B: Do you think there should be some changes on all sides?
R: Definitely. All three sides, really.
B: Do you think that if we had more inter-racial organization groups who
came together and talked and made plans, that this would help perhaps?
R: Yes, it would help, and maybe the leadership would be on such high
k'i Y-' really
levels that/the alk over thepmaybe younger people's ability to
understand. Maybe they should start with the high schools. Maybe have
groups within the high schools who visit one another. Just go around
and just meet the people and just talk with them.
B: Well, Larry, you're still very young and single, and I consider you to
be within that age group of our young people, and when I say "our" in
this sense, I mean, nationally, who are very energetic and who are very
outgoing and who feel that change should take place, very idealistic.
How do you feel about young people, generally? I mean, throughout the
country. Now that you've traveled quite a bit, do you think young
people are doing a lot to change things in the country in your group?
R: Yes, they are. Once you say young people, most of the older people
think, these long-haired hippies running around burning down schools,
but from my travels, been in two different countries and in several
ports here in the States, most of them aren't like that. It's just one
small group that gets all the TV coverage. Which media is really ruining
the country if there is such a thing as ruining the country. Some
people think that's what's going on now but .
B: As I remember a few years ago, you felt that you and I talked, and I
hope you don't mind my mentioning this, but you felt at that time and
we'll erase this if you don't want to keep it on here, but I seem to
remember you feeling that if a young man is old enough to fight for his
country, he is also old enough to vote for his country. Do you remember
R: Yes, sir. I do. I still have the letter wittL f-e m my Congressman.
B: And interestingly enough, since that time, the law has been changed, and
young people from eighteen up are able to vote now. How do you feel
L A I R' ?
about that it-?.
R: Well, I really don't think that little letter I wrote did this, maybe it
just helped me express my views in the right way.
B: Well, it had to help a little. Enough letters like this, you know.
R: Yes, maybe that could have been the number they was looking for, ( ,//
/ : ' ''' "do something about it).
B: But waht I was asking, how do you feel, now that this thing that you
wanted to see accomplished, has been accomplished?
R: I i that it has.
B: Does i give you more faith in your country when things like this
R: Yes, because the education has been greatly improved since the Consti-
tution was wrote when only twenty-one years could vote. And since
education's improving more and more, I think people are maturing more
and more faster. Maybe they thought that they should only vote at
twenty-one but now they should vote at eighteen. Maybe years to come,
it might even drop to sixteen.
B: Well, in as much as the young people have been responsible for helping
to bring about many changes, do you feel that this lowering of the
voting age will give them even more leverage in that they will be able
to accomplish even more -ten?
R: Definitely, because the way I feel I think this young vote is really
going to swing the election one way or another. Who's going to con-
vince the young people that they are right? If they can do that, then
they're pretty well made.
B: Well, as I recall, the young people certainly changed the music in
America, and it seems logical that this should happen also, maybe
even more logical. I remember a time when the music world was vir-
tually closed to everybody, just about, except the people who were on t-
inside and now it's wide open. I mean, I'm injecting something that
perhaps I shouldn't, but this seems to be relevant here, some rele-
vancy anyway. Now we do have free music at least. So you think we'll
have better democracy now that the young people are coming in with
their idealistic ideas?
R: Right. It gives you a wider xsank of ideas that maybe concentrate into
just a few
B: Do you think they also have a lot of t-e zeal and energy and this sort
of thing which would be very valuable in the political area?
R: Right. We do.
B: Larry, and this is personal, too, so don't answer unless you want to
but, did you date girls other than your own race when you were in the
R: Yes, I did, while I was in- h service.
B: -Did you feel any different out on a date with a girl of some other race
than your own?
R: No, not really,AYou see, away from here, away from Robertso County, I
would not. I don't know what the situation here in RobeLc-san County is,
but it's got to be changed.
B: Can you suggest anything that we can and should do to change it?
R: Like I said before, maybe we should get groups together and visit
each other's communities. Maybe start down in the elementary grades
really. 'Cause once someone gets up inti e junior high school, they
already have their views set for life. Need to get them started young.
Maybe, who knows, ten years from now, the situation could be greatly
B: Do you think, then, that young people have contributed much in the
field of civil rights? Changes of this kind?
R: Yes, they have, on the way of protesting which is, a lot of times gets
out of hand really.
B: But you think it has been effective.
R: Definitely, it has.
B: Well, do you think the movements of young people will continue or ac-
celerate maybe in the years to come or deccelerate or remain as it is?
R: I think they've almost reached their zenith, their top. They got mostly
what they been struggling for./ Gradually start coming down.
B: They certainly had good representation in the national conventions, didn't
they? 4 1 o/,
R: Sure did. Got a lot of publicity from it also. Most of them, what they
B: Now that both major political parties are courting young people, so to
speak, because of their vote when they didn't have to do so just a few
years ago. This will add to the leverage, won't it?
R: Yes, it will.
B: Make tem more effectivE in the leadership of young people. Do you think
this is a fair statements 0- ;Mz 4P
R: Yes, I think it is very true.
B: What do you plant to do, now that you're back home, Larry?
R: Well, It=e to attend Pembroke State University.
B: On the GI Bill? ,
R: Yes, sir. Startin possibly this next semester.
B: Have you already passed the entrance exams?
R: Yes, sir. I passed the entrance exam, but I haven't filled out the
B: What exam is it they give at PSU for admission?
R: The SAT.
B: The SAT?
R: Yes, sir.
B: We've had some criticism of this particular test by minority groups who
say that it isn't based really on their culture and therefore isn't,
rae-r--tran, it isunfair, especially to the American Indian. Do you think
this is true?
R: I don't think it's true at all. If you have the ability, you should
get the right answer. I thought the test was simple myself. Rather
easy. 'Cept the English, there was. Well, you're not supposed to
know all the answers anyway. There were quite a few words I didn't know)
and I guessed at.
B: Do you remember what your score was, Larry?
R: I scored 950.
B: 950. How much do you have to have in order to attend Pembroke State
R: I think it's 700.
B: Well, that's certainly a good score, and I'd like to congratulate you.
And you will be entering this year, do you think?
R: Possibly. The second semester,starts in January.
B: We've had some criticism of the PSU administration since it has about
2,000 students, only about 200 or 300 of whom are Indians, and only about
54 of whom are black. We have about four Indian professors out of more
than 100. Do you think this is unfair representation by the Indian people
who chartered the institution originally?
R: Yes, sir. It is. But I really can't comment on that because I don't
know that much about it. Are the people in this area,have the education
to (? 1. c
available? And what's the .
B: A-ltq-ef- t- questions. My opinion was not supposed to go on this tape
anyway, not really. I don't know if you know how many are available but
we do have some available. We do have people who are qualified, who have
to go into other areas.
R: See, I wasn't aware of that.
B: I don't know what the actual count is but.
R: I think it is unfair if the Indian in this area as the ability to go there
and instruct, I don't see why he shouldn't be asKed first.
B: Well, I would like to interject something else for your opinion. When I
applied to PSU, the last year as a visiting lecturer, I was told by the
head of the department to which I applied that if I felt that the Lumbee
Indian was owed anything by the institution because he was an Indian, that
this would tend to militate against me, and I have this in a letter from
the head of the department to which I'V -pplied. Now, do you think it
should militate against an Indian student if he feels that the institution
in other words
does owe our people something? Do you think the institution does actually
owe our people something because of the fact that they chartered it and
nurtured it and brought it?
R: Right. I feel that it does.
B: You feel that they should be-a little indebted toward. .
R: They should be .
B: Littlet uch. I won't say. Maybe I shouldn't say how much because I don't
really know. I visited Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee last year
which was one of the, which is one of the larger Indian institutions,
I mean, black institutions, I beg your pardon. And I observed over there
that there were many black employees and black professors and black people
in places, in key positions, high places and so on. Do you feel that this
is the way it should be at Pembroke State University?
R: Yes. Beyond the shadow of a doubt, that's the way it should be but for
some reason it isn't.
B: Do you think this has anything to do with numbers, because the enrollment
is almost, the enrollment is so nearly completely white, that out of
2,000 students, if you have only 300 Indians and about 60 blacks, that's
360. Do you think this is too far out of balance?
R: For this area here?
B: Uh huh. Do you think the institution should have, in other words, more
black students and more Indian students?
R: I mean, they should be there, but they shouldn't go out of their way to
invite them there. If they want to come, let them come.
B You don't think, then, that the institutions should have a recruiting
program for Indian students and for black students as many institutions
have? I don't know if you know this or not fMany institutions in the
United States now are actively recruiting Indian students and actually
almost begging them to come. They want Indian students and black students
on the campus because they don't want this kind of criticism/ That's one
reason, and I don't know about the other reasons. We won't go into that.
But I don't know whether ou were aware of this, or not.
R: I wasn't aware of it.
B: I just wondered if you thought recruiting would be a good idea.
R: Not from the college itself, but maybe from the high schools. The high
schools should push their graduates to continue their education.
B: Do you think the entrance level, well, I think you've already answered
that. Do you think it's fair, the entrance exam?
R: Yes, I do. e;y. The test wasn't all that hard. If you just took your
time on the test, and just what they tell you to do what you know. There's
no reason why you shouldn't score at least 700.
B: Well, E--the students have different IQ levels and so forth, I guess that's
why some people complain, but how about activities on campus. We had
some criticism of the Lumbee student organization on campus which is an
organization formed of Lumbee Indians, you know, to promote certain things
and t- e interest of the Indian. You haven't been there and you haven't
been in the meetings, have you?
R: No, sir. I haven't
B: But does it sound like a good idea, just off hand G, "-
R: Yes, it is. It should be encouraged to continue.
B: Well, I don't know how our tape's running. Could you look and tell me
whether it's still turning or not?
R: Yes, it's still turning.
B: Thank you. I'm sure you were glad to get back home. i yre a
R: Yes, I was.
B: There is a saying that most Lumbee Indians who leave home actually plan
to come back and do eventually come back. Do you think this is true 4n
most people, most Indians who leave iRober n?
R: Yes, -13 is true. I don't know of anyone who has left and never come back.
Maybe they make their home somewhere else but they do come back and visit.
B: Do you think this is a little strange in view of the many social problems
that we have in the county? You know, some people suggest that if the
county is that unfair to Indians, why don't the Indians leave the county?
Do you think that's a fair thing to say?
R: No. Definitely not.
B: Why, Larry?
R: Because this is our home as much as it is theirs. Even more so ours
B: I like that answer. I''l have to say. ( ^ S f
). Well,/I mean it's an intelligent answer. How many,
have you ever thought about how many Indian there are in the county? Do
you think there are as many Indians as there are other races, or nearly
enough so that there's almost about.
R: I was reading in the paper today about registering voters, you know,
it was broken down into races and well, if,you combined the Indian and
the colored race together, it was egater tha the whites, but the
whites were greater than %-ems of theAtwo. [,Q- t "
B: So you think then, that the Caucasian group gets support fromfsh / hap,
groups o-- ,uui- ..L 2.Ur. -- r- v iO-E r
R: I would say, well, they do get some. They would have to, to stay in
office like they do. When they ( )6,
they couldn't survive on their, on the white Caucasian vote alone.
B: Now that you are in the political arena, whether you like it or not,
do you think, maybe it's not unfair to ask you, if you think it a good
idea, at this time, to have a black and Indian coalition to sort of
balance things out?
R: Yes. Hasn't that been tried before, and it just don't work-out,
B: Well, it's wifing in some cases. You know, we have a black man in
( cB- ) becauselwe had him last time, and he's nominated
again this time which is almost tantamount to being elected in this
Democratic county unless things change drastically because this is
considered to-be a Democratic stronghold, you know, Robertson County,
and, of course, we never know what tomorrow may bring, but just con-
sidering the pattern over the past. What do you plan to do when you
get your college education?
R: Well, I'd like to see about electronics and so forth, and to go to
school, maybe computer repair, after maybe two years at Pembroke
State, try- ) to computer repair school.
B.' Sounds like a great idea. Do you think even though you're going to
a technical institute, something like else t 4
R: It only specializes in computer repair.
B: Do you think that you need your first two years of college before you
do this, don't you?
R: Well, I cer ai i -th iTwould help tremendously, but sure
4-ja&e-= just go to the computer school right off and ( yJl ) it.
there% I would get more out of it if I had two years of college behind
me. I'd be better prepared after I'd completed the other two years of
B: Well, I certainly wish you JScO^- ^- .