Interview with Betty Moody
Betty Moody attended Louisa County High School from 1965 and 1970 and was an eighth grader when LCHS was integrated. Moody discusses how she learned about integration and how her teachers and parents reacted. She recalls the teachers and her father being upset, but her mother telling her to treat other students the way she would want to be treated. She remembers one student transferring to Rock Hill to avoid integration. At the school, Moody recalls how white and Black students kept to their cliques.
Outside of school, her father was very strict and would not let her attend many events, she was able to attend Mineral Fair, but not Louisa Fair as it was integrated. She also remembers hearing that Mineral was dangerous for African Americans after dark. Towards the end of the interview, Moody tells a story about her friend who was the daughter of the German doctor and she played dolls with her, and “war” with her two sisters.
Okay, I think is working now. Are you still there?
Betty Moody 00:14
Yes, I am.
Vernon Fleming 00:15
Okay. Let me try it again. Let's see if this is working now. My name is Vernon Fleming, a volunteer with the Louisa County Historical Society, this is our third attempt or maybe a fourth attempt to (unclear) Moody, sharing her experience of being an eighth grader during the first year of integration at Louisa County High School. So, Betty, if you can introduce yourself and say what years you attended Louisa County High School.
Betty Moody 00:43
Yes, I was there from 1965 and graduated in 1970. And I started there in the eighth grade, we had no kindergarten back then, so we went from one to seven elementary. And then everything else from the eighth through the 12th was done at the high school only.
Vernon Fleming 01:03
Okay, and so when did you first learn that black students will be attending Louisa County High School?
Betty Moody 01:09
Only through... It was almost the end of the year on my seventh grade year. Some of the teachers started talking about it, and they were experiencing I think some trauma, because of it, because they were upset and you know, talking amongst themselves, and we saw them crying and all, and that's when somebody said, "Oh, my goodness, they're going to integrate." Well, I didn't even know what that word meant at that time. But anyway, you know, I thought, "Oh my gosh, what does this mean for me?" Well, you know, based on what I was seeing from them, I thought, God, it must be awful. What are we going to do? I mean, first off, I'm going to a new school, high school, and then now it's going to be all different because it's going to be integrated. So that was a double whammy.
Vernon Fleming 02:03
Okay. Very good. Do you recall discussing this with your parents?
Betty Moody 02:13
The only thing I remember about my parents, my mother did, you know, say, hey, you know... She was kind of a golden rule person, she just said, "If you treat them the way you want to be treated, everything will be fine. They're no different than you are blah, blah, blah." My father was not that way. He was grumbling, and of course he wasn't very much for us doing it. But like I mentioned, in one of the other ones, he was real tightwad too. He'd been through the Depression. So he wouldn't have (unclear), you know, pay money to put us anywhere else, because he was paying taxes. And for that, I'm grateful.
Vernon Fleming 02:53
Well, good. Did you get any advice from either of your parents when starting school that fall in 1965 knowing that there will be black students there?
Betty Moody 03:09
No, except that, you know, just treat them the way you wanted to be treated. That was the main advice I was given. So I really didn't think too much about it. Because we were all I mean, you know, I was all excited and scared to go into high school and see all these older people. So that was my main concern.
Vernon Fleming 03:29
Okay. Did any black students ride your bus to or from school?
Betty Moody 03:36
You know, I can't remember. My bus ride was so short because I was in the town of Mineral, so we had less than a mile to go. And if it was, it may have been one. And I mentioned her yesterday. Annette West, I think, may have lived down below in Mineral and she may have been on there, but I'm not positive about that.
Vernon Fleming 03:58
Did you observe any treatment good or bad towards her on the bus?
Betty Moody 04:05
No, like I said we were on there five minutes.
Vernon Fleming 04:08
Okay. So thinking back to that as best you can, getting off the bus, whether it was the first day or that first week, first month. Do you recall any first impressions, did you encounter any blacks? You know, that stood out with anything unique about their presence?
Betty Moody 04:30
Just that they were there. I'm not saying that I went out and greeted them and shook their hands or anything like that, because I didn't do that with any of the white people that I knew from like Greenspring School and Louisa School. I didn't know those people. So like I said before, I was kind of shy back then. I'm not like- I wasn't this way all the time. I had to learn this with age. But anyway, you know, everybody was in their own little clique, the blacks sort of stayed to themselves, the white - and it wasn't like, you know, I was in any special clique, but I sort of stayed with the people that I went to school with in elementary school until I got to know some of the other people.
Vernon Fleming 05:12
Okay. Did you observe any possible actions or words towards any black students?
Betty Moody 05:19
Not that I remember, Vernon. You know if it happened it was so insignificant that I don't remember it.
Vernon Fleming 05:28
Okay. Did you have any contact with any black students that first year that you recall?
Betty Moody 05:35
Oh, yes. Yes. Annette was one, she was in several of my classes. I spoke to her. I won't say we were best friends, but we were friendly. And I remember Sandra, oh gosh, what was her last name? I don't know if she was- you told me yesterday.
Vernon Fleming 05:53
Betty Moody 05:55
Yeah, (unclear) the first part of it. Okay. Well, anyway, I remember, you know, being in class with her and talking to her in class and all that. But I didn't participate in sports. I was not that person. I was more studious and kept to myself. And I mean, I had friends. But you know, I didn't- I think a lot of kids back then, and they still do, they have their own little cliques and that's what we used to call them.
Okay. Did you observe teachers or staff behaving any differently towards the black students?
Betty Moody 06:35
No, no, I did not. I have to say we had some good teachers, I think. Oh, by the way, and I'll mention this, at the event I was at yesterday Sherman Shifflett was there and he said you had called him. So I guess you're trying to get the perspective from the teachers point of view also?
Vernon Fleming 06:54
Well, he wasn't there that first year. I'm not sure if I tried to reach him (overlapping)
Betty Moody 06:58
Vernon Fleming 06:59
But um... And maybe just from his experience being on be the school board if he had any recollection. But um, no, he's (overlapping)
Betty Moody 07:06
Oh, okay. Okay. All right. He just mentioned it and I said "Oh, I'll check." Okay.
Vernon Fleming 07:14
So, your expectations prior to attending, was anything different from what you anticipated versus after you actually started attending school, you know, with black students?
Betty Moody 07:25
Well, watching the way my teachers in elementary school were acting, I thought it was just going to be something that, you know, of course, it was all unknown. It was unknown to the black students. It was unknown to the white students. And I didn't know really what to expect. So I didn't- You know, I was expecting it to be, "Oh, my God, it must be something I don't know about. It must be something horrible." And it wasn't. So yeah, I would say my expectations... The few that I had that it was going to be bad were, you know, that was a moot point after I got there. So.
Vernon Fleming 08:04
Okay. Would you do anything different if you could go back in time and that first day of integration? Would you do anything different than what you actually did back then?
Betty Moody 08:18
Oh, yes, absolutely. If I was then the way I am now, I would have certainly gone up because I'm the one. now that goes up if I see somebody that I don't know, I don't. I don't hesitate to go up to them and introduce myself and ask their name and all of that and speak to them. I was not that person then. So you know, I was always a little bit shy of being the first one to speak. So yes, absolutely.
Vernon Fleming 08:50
Do you think the experience of being there at the start of integration had any impact on on you? That may have affected your thoughts, behavior than had you not gone through it, had you go into, you know, Rock Hill or some other school and not had that encounter with African Americans back then?
Betty Moody 09:13
Absolutely. I can't even imagine how it would must be for somebody that did go to that to come out- And you know, when you leave high school and you go to college, or you go into the work environment, you're with everybody. You know, when I was growing up, we didn't have any Asians, we didn't have any Mexicans. I didn't know those people any you know, I probably knew more black people than I knew any of those because they weren't any around. Now they're, you know, we have a variety and I think it really helped. I can't imagine that anybody that you speak to would say that they felt like it hindered them in any way to go to school with people of color. Because to me it just made it easier to deal with the real world when we got out.
Vernon Fleming 10:06
Betty Moody 10:07
Because by then you realize they're just people just like you. What's the big deal? And I'm sorry if I sound funny, but my nose and my face are numb. Oh, gosh.
Vernon Fleming 10:22
Betty Moody 10:23
Vernon Fleming 10:24
Speaking of Rock Hill Academy, and don't call out any names, but do you know anyone who went to Rock Hill to avoid integration?
Betty Moody 10:33
Vernon Fleming 10:34
What were their reasons, and please go into that, was it the student or child or you think was more of the parent?
Betty Moody 10:44
Probably the parents.
Vernon Fleming 10:46
And what do you think was that reason?
Betty Moody 10:47
Well, I mean, there would only be one race and they would do that. Yeah, it's obvious that was the reason that they didn't want their child in an integrated classroom. And they had the money to put them in a private classroom. I don't think private schools are any better than our public school. So that's my final word on that.
Vernon Fleming 11:15
(ovelapping) Although I did interview one student who went to Rock Hill, and again, won't call any names, but the person definitely went to improve, to get a better education.
Betty Moody 11:30
Oh, that. Okay, well, don't quote me but that's a bunch of BS.
Vernon Fleming 11:37
But yeah, they attended Louisa for two years without class, but they said it was to get a better education. So going on to the next question. Let me look where I'm on the list. So if cost is not a factor, do you think your parents would have considered sending you to a private school?
Betty Moody 12:05
They would have considered it. my father my father would have but he, believe me, he would have never never put any extra money. We were lucky that we all got braces on our- We got braces on our teeth and that just about killed him.
Vernon Fleming 12:23
Betty Moody 12:26
You had to know the man.
Vernon Fleming 12:28
Okay. So going back to where we talked before and it did not get captured, you mentioned about Mineral and how it may have been as a town and how receptive or not receptive was to African Americans being there, and I know you shared a little call it folklore or anecdote about a sign.
Betty Moody 12:59
Yeah, I was always told that there was a sign, right. Not to be seen after- don't let the sun set and be caught in Mineral. I mean, you know, when I grew up, there was no... The only black people I knew, oh there was this wonderful lady and she took care of the (unclear) meanest little boys, and now they're wonderful people in Louisa County, so I won't mention their name, but she was wonderful. And I knew her, but I was a little tiny kid then, she babysat then. And a couple of others. You know, I think one of the maintenance men was just, he was great. We would go out and talk to him and he was a really nice guy. And yeah, but other than that, there were no black people, or Hispanic people, or Asians that lived in Mineral.
Vernon Fleming 13:51
Okay, and that sign you were referring to, do you recall what the actual words were?
Betty Moody 13:57
I would rather not say them.
Vernon Fleming 13:59
Okay. That's fine.
Betty Moody 14:02
You get the gist of it.
But clearly that if you were not white you were not welcome after dark?
Betty Moody 14:08
Right. After dark.
Vernon Fleming 14:10
Betty Moody 14:12
That's the polite way of putting it.
Vernon Fleming 14:14
Okay, that's fine. Anything that you want to share that I may not have talked about? I know last time you mentioned about the Fair in Louisa. (overlapping)
Betty Moody 14:25
Well, that was my father.
Vernon Fleming 14:27
Betty Moody 14:28
Right. And, you know, that was him. Now, I had a lot of friends that did go there. We just- we weren't allowed to do a lot of stuff. My father was very strict. So we would sit there and we could watch the Mineral Fair ferris wheel going around and around. And we were, I think we were allowed to go there one time. While they were there. It was just not- We didn't take vacations we, you know, we didn't do a lot of stuff. So anyway, we had lots of friends and Mineral. So. Right.
Vernon Fleming 14:58
Okay. But I recall you saying that you could go to the Mineral Fair because that was segregated. (unclear) but not the Louisa Fair because that was integrated. Okay.
Betty Moody 15:07
And let me tell you a little- This has nothing to do with what we're talking about, but because I saw this girl yesterday I have to tell you. I don't know if you remember we had a German doctor and his family that lived in Mineral?
Vernon Fleming 15:23
Betty Moody 15:23
You probably don't remember that.
Vernon Fleming 15:25
I remember. I think his daughter was a-
Betty Moody 15:26
Vernon Fleming 15:27
Senior or Junior our freshman year.
Betty Moody 15:29
Yeah. (overlapping). Oh, God. Well, anyway. Yeah, she was the Dogwood Queen, she was the last Tobacco Queen. I mean, she was so smart. Anyway. She used to be one of my playmates, even though she was three years older than me. There was nobody else her age. So she was one of my, I mean, they lived across the street from us one house up. So we became friends. We both liked to read and all of this. And I remember, we were never allowed, I mean, her parents would not allow me to come over there and play. She always had to come to my house. But her father was- I got to know him really well, later, but then I was scared to death of him. I mean, but I'll never forget. She got in this thing where she started calling me stupid. She'd always call me stupid. And I went to my father crying one day, because I thought, "Why is she call me stupid? She's supposed to be my friend." And I told him. And these are the exact words that my father used, he didn't mince them, he said, the next time she calls you stupid, you just call her a Kraut and see what she does. A Kraut. I didn't even know what it meant. Just like that, I did, and I did and do you know, she never called me stupid again. Oh, I bet. I don't know how she came after that. But anyway, that was just my father.
Vernon Fleming 16:57
(unclear) he was a good parent. Trying to teach you to respond in kind.
Betty Moody 17:04
Yeah. I know. At least he didn't tell me to hit her.
Vernon Fleming 17:08
Yeah, that's right.
Betty Moody 17:11
Vernon Fleming 17:12
And Betty if this doesn't take I'm gonna have to write it down from memory.
Betty Moody 17:18
Okay, all right. Well, I've said it enough times that you should memorize it. You probably know more about it than I do now.
Vernon Fleming 17:27
But yeah. (overlapping) Your stories as far as, I shouldn't say stories, your recollection is far better than anyone else I've talked to.
Betty Moody 17:38
Oh, my God, I can't believe that.
Vernon Fleming 17:40
(overlapping) some have had selective memories and say, "I can't remember anything, nope."
Betty Moody 17:45
Oh, I'm sure.
Vernon Fleming 17:52
I know (unclear)
Betty Moody 17:53
Oh, my Lord. Oh, yeah. Well see my father was also- He wanted a boy and he got three girls. So you know what we got to play? He gave us, remember when the series (unclear) came out. He gave us all the little, we got little guns. And we got canteens and we all got our own little helmet and we'd play war all the time. And fortunately, because I was the oldest, I was always in charge of everything. That was, you know, I'm like when I think about that now. But when Helga came over we'd play with dolls. We didn't play with those. But anyway.
Vernon Fleming 18:06
Yes. Okay. Hey Betty, thanks so much.
Betty Moody 18:39
Vernon, it's always a pleasure talking to you. And you know, if I don't remember I don't remember and I'll tell you, but if I remember, you know, I really hope I was able to help a little bit. Anyway, hopefully it wasn't all bad. So anyway.
Vernon Fleming 18:54
(overlapping) all set for the recording but so we're all set-
Betty Moody 18:57
Well I hope so.
Vernon Fleming 18:58
I made a reservation today also.
Betty Moody 19:00
Yes. Oh, good. And who did I tell?
Vernon Fleming 19:05
The patio was closed. He said a patio doesn't open till after Memorial Day. So we'll be inside.
Betty Moody 19:09
Oh, no. Okay, well, we'll go upstairs. It's too- You don't want to go downstairs. When we go we go upstairs because it's more open. And we love that whole area over there like we went to before so that's good.
Vernon Fleming 19:24
Betty Moody 19:24
I think that'll be fun. So good. Well, I'll tell you this too. Doug Gibson has moved down here he's right in my neighborhood now.
Vernon Fleming 19:35
Betty Moody 19:35
And I almost- You know, on one hand, I just go look, I have tried to get him to a million other things. And he always you know, "I've got to preach and we're so far away." He's told me that he gets the email so I'm like, "Okay, I might say something to him and just throw it out there one last time." I get tired. You know, after a while you feel like you bothering people.
Vernon Fleming 19:59
Yeah, and I know Eli (unclear)
Betty Moody 20:01
Vernon Fleming 20:02
They won't go to (unclear) because of history with them.
Betty Moody 20:09
Yeah, I don't know what that's about. I don't know what that could be about and I don't need to know. I don't want to know. Anyway. Well, you tell Anne I said hello, please.
Vernon Fleming 20:22
I will. You tell Bobby I said hi, also.
Betty Moody 20:28
Okay, I'm gonna try to get him to come on the 27th if he will.
Vernon Fleming 20:34
Betty Moody 20:34
I don't know whether he will or not, but you know, you never know what he's gonna do. So we'll see you then. Thank you.
Vernon Fleming 20:42
Betty Moody 20:43