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Q: HOW MANY YEARS WERE YOU A PRINCIPAL AT HANDLEY?
(Streamed audio file of interview for this question using RealPlayer)
Q: SO YOU HAD AN OVERLAP.
A: There was one year I was a principal alone and the other time I was Principal and Superintendent, and of course I taught before that.
Q: HOW MANY YEARS DID YOU TEACH?
A: I taught at Handley from '23 to '28, five years. I taught a little freshman English at college, Randolph Macon College.
Q: HOW DID YOU SPLIT YOUR TIME WHEN YOU WERE THE PRINCIPAL AND SUPERINTENDENT AT THE SAME TIME?
A: Well, at that time the superintendent's office and the principal''s office were both in the Handley building, as a matter of fact right across the hall from each other. That is no longer true. The superintendent's office is downtown. But my office as superintendent was across the hall and I was able to move back and forth fairly quickly. I got assistants for both jobs. So that as I got toward the end I was doing very little work as principal.
Q: HOW MANY ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS WERE THERE?
A: At that time, 3 other schools. At that time the organization of the system in Virginia was, well in Winchester, was 6 years of elementary school, 2 years of junior high school and 4 years of senior high school. And we had, of course we were segregated too. I was also in charge of that and that was a combination of elementary and high school.
Q: YOU WERE IN CHARGE OF THE BLACK SCHOOL THEN?
Q: WHAT WAS THE NAME OF THAT SCHOOL?
Q: HOW DO YOU FEEL THAT THE JOB OF PRINCIPAL CHANGED FROM WHEN YOU BEGAN TO WHEN YOU LEFT THE PRINCIPALSHIP?
A: I suppose it would take a 37 year period that there was bound to be a lot of change, there were changes that were taking place in the school system as a whole. In fact, my school... I didn't always agree with them as a matter of fact. And fortunately you are not compelled in Virginia to go along with those changes. Local autonomy concerning a good deal of public school system. I remember in particular we had a big movement which came out of Columbia University, a teacher college, which I felt and my school board felt, was too... I started to say liberal but that's not the word... tended to deemphasize content. And we didn't, we just ignored it. We just didn't do it. And other changes. Of course it would be difficult to list in a 37 year period how many things did change. We developed, I'm thinking of the high school in particular, because I think of all the school positions, aside from teaching your favorite subject, the principal of the high school is probably the most rewarding. It certainly matters more than the superintendent. H. L Mencken had a article in the old Mercury years ago... the title of the article was "The Worst Job In The World", being Superintendent of Schools. And of course you can see why it's true. The superintendent of schools has to deal with so many different diverse units. He has to deal first of all with the taxpayers, the people who levy the money to run the schools. Then he has to deal with the parents, then he has to deal with the children, then he has to deal with the teachers, then he has to deal with the school board, and so on. Almost unending. I'm trying to answer your question. The changes... I think the changes that have affected education in general have affected us. I think that there has been a liberalization. I think of the high school program that I took in high school was strictly academic. Nothing non-academic in it. Not a single subject. And none offered. Now of course you have vocational school, separate school, and before that you had a separate course of study in the high school. And in the elementary school we classified children according to ability. Group them according to ability. They're demanding that now. I think that's a good idea. And of course we had different courses leading to graduation in the high school. Still have of course. I don't know what Changes have taken place in the last 20 years.
Q: HOW ABOUT YOUR JOB AS A PRINCIPAL, DID YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES CHANGE A LOT?
A: No, I don't think so. As a matter of fact it was a completely unique sort of thing compared with an average principal and average superintendent. I often think about and talk to the coach that we go to these athletic meetings where we had to make decisions about athletics. Well I would go with the man who coached everything and was also the director of athletics and I was the superintendent and principal so if a decision had to be made that day, we could make it. We didn't even have to come home. We could make it right there. It was simple.
Q: WHAT PRESSURES DID YOU FACE AS A PRINCIPAL? HOW DID YOU HANDLE THOSE PRESSURES?
A: I was extremely lucky, extremely lucky. I never had a budget voted down by the City Council during my 35 years as superintendent. When I had to submit, under the law the superintendent of schools has to prepare a budget, has to submit to the school board, and I never had a budget turned down. I never had the school board go contrary to but one recommendation of mine that I can think of. Once they refused to support me on one thing that I can remember. Rephrase your question.
Q: PRESSURES THAT YOU MIGHT HAVE HAD OR FELT OUTSIDE OR INSIDE, MAYBE FROM TEACHERS, OBVIOUS AS PRINCIPAL...
A: Of course, the nature of things you are going to have pressures from teachers. Teachers you don't recommend for increased salary, and teachers you criticize and have to supervise them. It would be strange if you didn't get some of those. We didn't have a Parent/Teacher organization. I got some pressure for that. But not enough to bother me very much. I was a pretty lucky man in that respect. Toward the end of my term we had the beginning of integration and in fact we had begun a little of it. I went through most of the difficult part of that. I was in court twice. We attempted to slow down the process. No very extreme situations. There was opposition to it. Not enough so that when it finally came there was any great explosion. And of course, we never had a problem in that respect. The Negro population reached it's point at 8% total. And that's not the situation you would have a problem with when you integrate. I was born and reared in Caroline county, and Caroline county is about 50-50 black and white and there you would likely have... In fact I don't know a single place where the percentage is that close, where private school hasn't been organized. These Christian academies, the real reason for the Christian academies, they don't admit it, but the real reason is to keep them from going to school with Blacks. At least that's what I think.
Q: COULD YOU RECALL A PARTICULARLY DIFFICULT DECISION THAT YOU HAD TO MAKE AS A PRINCIPAL? WHAT WAS THE DECISION AND WHY DID YOU MAKE IT?
A: I always had difficulty with one decision. My heart and my head sent in different directions on this decision many times and that is when I dropped a girl from school for being pregnant. That was automatic and she didn't get to come back either. That's not true anymore. Not coming back was pretty bad. I think that's not done anymore--I'm not sure. Anytime you had to expel a student from school, we would expel them. I had the power to expel. But they could appeal over my head to the school board. Incidentally, I administered corporal punishment too. And that is never pleasant. I can think of very few cases where corporal punishment did any good. And yet I did it and the State legislature passed a law saying that you could do it. I think it has been practically abandoned and probably should be. It should be abolished.
Q: SO YOUR DECISION WITH THE GIRL AS SUPERINTENDENT/PRINCIPAL, THAT WAS THE POLICY AT THAT TIME?
Q: THAT DIDN'T CHANGE BEFORE YOU LEFT.
A: Yes it did. About coming back you mean?
Q: YES. IT'S A LITTLE DIFFERENT TODAY. THEY COME TO SCHOOL PREGNANT.
Q: WHAT WAS YOUR KEY TO SUCCESS AS A PRINCIPAL AND SUPERINTENDENT?
Q: DID THEY USE HANDLEY LIKE THEY DO NOW? AS LONG AS YOU WERE THERE?
A: The setting you mean?
A: I'll get a picture and let you see what one of the pageants looked like. If you can see them, no, you're too young to have seen them. That's the 1952 pageant, that's the 200th anniversary of the founding of Winchester. And that's the final scene in the pageant. A flag pulled down... I enjoy the things with the scene... Did you happen to look at the show last night from New York? Wasn't that magnificent? That was something. It was doing a different theme, a different idea each year... this year we had decided on a fantasy theme. We got tremendous crowds. Those crowds would go all the way down to the pike.
Q: WHAT DID YOU DO WHEN THE WEATHER WAS BAD?
A: Well, we called it off. I don't think we ever had to call it off but one year. We gave two performances. Each time, we gave one after the Festival just for the local people to see. We were rained on a few times but we were lucky in that respect. And that of course helped me and helped my staff. Because it was all done by school children and school teachers. And we did, all the departments, the band that played the musical score, the chorus did that part of it, and the physical education did the dances and the drills and what not. And we had 1500 people in some of those scenes. The war did a lot too. We were very active during the war. As far as the school was concerned. I had a lot of jobs during the war. Selling bonds and what not. I'm talking about the second World War.
Q: WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO A PERSON WHO IS CONSIDERING AN ADMINISTRATIVE POSITION?
A: Well if you don't already have a good academic underdegree, get one. I think that's the most essential thing. You should be an educated man to be a principal of a high school. And an educated man is a man who knows everything about one thing and something about everything. And I would emphasize that. You can't do it on this frothy stuff that comes out of teacher's colleges. You can cancel that if you want to. Frankly, I took practically none of it. My undergraduate degree... I have a major in English and a minor in Latin. My Masters degree at the University of Virginia has a major in English and a minor in psychology. And I took very little of psychology, really an English degree because at that time I was expected to teach English in college. I was totally... from the standpoint of the so-called professional courses, I was totally unprepared to be a principal or superintendent. I don't say that you can ignore those things completely. There are a few things that I think are important in the professional... so-called professional courses. I think you ought to have some knowledge of the measurements of learning. And that's a technical thing, I mean that's not easy stuff... that's difficult stuff. It's difficult as any math could be. And I think you should know about the history of education. But, I don't think you ought to latch onto everyone of these new things that come down. After, the man who followed me as superintendent of schools, a good man, a good superintendent I thought, did a good job, but at that time they had this notion that you have all groups together so they knock out the partitions in the rooms and put in the whole 4th grade where you had four divisions of the 4th grade all in the same room. I've never understood the logic back of it and as a matter of fact I understand it was abandoned, now they are going back to it. But it's pure nonsense. And that's not the only nonsense coming from teacher's college. There's a heck of a lot of nonsense coming. And I would avoid that as I would avoid the plague. Because I have no respect for it in the first place. Now there are some things I think... Dewey's point you learn by doing is sound, completely sound. I don't think a teacher can stand up in front of the room and talk to a class and expect them to learn anything or learn something. You have to get them into the show or they won't learn. So some of those principals I agree with, the things, the psychology part, I agree with. But so many things I don't.
Q: HOW HAS EDUCATION CHANGED SINCE YOU WERE A PRINCIPAL TO THE PRESENT?
A: Well, I think, I don't. have a right to make a judgement. I've been away from it 20 years. And at the time I retired, it had not changed too much. It had been offering more, there was more offerings, but not as much as there is now. And we had attempted to... We knew that all our children were not going to college and we were trying to do something for those that weren't. Because in many respects they are just as important as the ones that do in the make-up of society. So there were changes, offerings that weren't offered before and some relaxation of the academic requirements. As a matter of fact in the high school we offered a general diploma which, well, aside from requiring English 4 years and the Social Studies I think a couple of years we reduced the amount of academic subjects to some extent to those people and tightened it for those that were getting... We gave two kinds of academic diplomas. We gave an academic Science diploma and an academic Language diploma and we gave a commercial diploma and a general diploma. And to that end you see we were loosening up to some extent. But not to the extent of abolishing standards.
Q: WE HIT ON THIS BEFORE A LITTLE BIT, THIS TIME IF YOU WOULD EXPRESS YOUR FEELINGS ON INTEGRATION? WE'VE TAKEN LAW CLASSES TOGETHER AND I WROTE A PAPER ON INTEGRATION IN VIRGINIA AND FOUND IT VERY INTERESTING BECAUSE I CAME FROM THE NORTH SO TO SpEAK AND THERE'S A LITTLE BIT DIFFERENT ATTITUDE IN THE NORTH. AND YOU WENT THROUGH IT AS PRINCIPAL AND SUPERINTENDENT AND YOU HAD STATED EARLIER THAT YOU HAD SET UP THE INTEGRATION PROGRAM HERE AND GONE TO COURT. WHAT WERE YOUR FEELINGS AS A PRINCIPAL, A SUPERINTENDENT AND AS A PERSON?
A: Well, as a person, I think I had a feeling it was inevitable. I also had a feeling it was a thing that should move slowly. It should not come suddenly. And I think the way we did it proved it. For our community it was a good idea because we had no serious... well certainly didn't have any serious thing while I was there. What we finally came down to after trying a number of different things... it was obvious what we were doing, we were simply postponing it. And as a result of it we had to go to court. Where we lost always. But, we finally reached the point where they went to school wherever they wanted to. And strange to say not too many of them wanted to change. And I shall never forget one morning, the first day of school, it may be the first day we had any, for we just had a few at a time. One of the black patrons called up and said "Mr. Quarles," they had asked to go to the Quarles school which was right next door to..., and they had been given permission to send their children there. And, I can hear children crying in the background, and he said, "My children are just crying and they don't want to go, and he said, would it be alright if I take them back out to Douglas?" And I knew I had to straighten him out. I said, "Now listen, nothing is going to happen to your children if they go down to the Quarles school and by tomorrow the crying will all be over and you go on and take the kids down to the Quarles school where you intended to and it will all blow over." He said alright I'll do it. And that was the end of that. But I could have said go back to Douglas. Then I had another kid and this is in the high school, whose father had moved heaven and earth to get him to come up to Handley, and we permitted him to come to Handley, but at the end of...he didn't do well at all... he was not too good a student, and not too good in other respects. And you excuse my language, as I talk to him, but I sometimes... I don't always use this kind of language. And so at the end of the year his father brought him in my office and said "Mr. Quarles, I want my boy to go back to Douglas. I didn't want him to come down here in the first place." I said, "Would you mind telling me why the hell you're in my office! And I would have let him go. But generally speaking it was all over in fairly a short time. I enjoyed the court sessions. I got very chummy with the federal judges.
Q: IS THIS FEDERAL COURT?
Q: WHAT YEAR WAS THAT, DO YOU REMEMBER?
A: I can't even get very close to it. It was close to the time that I retired. And that was '65, '64. It must have been in the early '60's. And what we were doing was what practically every school was...
Q: EVERYBODY IN VIRGINIA?
Q: SOME OF THE SCHOOLS CLOSED; WAS WINCHESTER CONSIDERING DOING THAT?
Q: WHAT WERE YOUR FEELINGS ABOUT THE OTHER SCHOOL DISTRICTS? I'M SURE YOU HEARD ABOUT SOME OF THE THINGS THAT WERE GOING ON IN THE STATE.
A: Well if I had a daughter, and in some of the schools... and the behavior in some of them... I wouldn't let her go. Now you can call that prejudice if you want to. But it's the way I feel and it's the way I do. I wouldn't let her go through that.
Q: HOW ABOUT THE HISTORY? YOU WROTE A LOT OF BOOKS. WHERE DID YOU GET THE INKLING? WHAT, WHY, WHEN AND HOW AND YOUR FEELINGS IN YOUR BOOKS.
A: I guess I've always been interested in history to some extent although I took very little academic history. I took some history of the United States. But I got interested in local history because this is a very historical place. And I began writing monographs and the bank sponsored me. I wrote my first on the streets of Winchester. Explaining the names of the streets. And, I did one on the streets of Winchester, I did one on the churches, short histories of the churches, and I did one on the schools of Winchester. Then I did two books on old homes. One on 100-year-old homes in Winchester and one on old homes of Frederick County. Then I did the life of Judge Handley, John Handley. I went to Ireland, went to where John Handley was born. And wrote... the title of it is "Judge John Handley and the Handley Bequest to the City of Winchester." Which I think will be the definitive thing on that. It's the only thing on him that was written. Then I did a book called "Occupied Winchester" which is Civil War Winchester. And then when I retired my faculty published a book called The Lengthened Shadow". Which they published... they had a conspiracy with my wife and got all the things I had written and the speeches I made and published a book "The Lengthened Shadow". There is a couple of... superintendent's bulletins in here that pretty well summarize my views on education. Then I wrote a history of my family. Then I wrote a history on Braddock Street Church. All of those are listed on the thing I gave you. And I have a book now I just finished. It's called "Some Local Lives". It's many.... over 200... mini-biographies of people in Winchester. None living. That I hope to get out.... I've been sick though... I haven't been well. It has slowed down that...
Q: I'VE GOT ONE OTHER ONE THEN WE ARE GOING TO ASK YOU WHAT YOU WANT TO TALK ABOUT. KIND OF OFF THE WALL HERE... AS SUPERINTENDENT, I BET THE PRINCIPAL DID WELL IN HIS EVALUATIONS, WHAT DO YOU THINK?
A: Well, I didn't have to do that. That's one thing... this is a small school division, that's the thing people don't realize, and it was smaller then. And that everybody knows everybody else and the chairman of the school board can evaluate both of us if he wanted to because I saw him every day almost. So that probably didn't arise.
Q: DID YOU HAVE STANDARD EVALUATION FOR YOUR TEACHERS, OR DID YOU HAVE TO DO THAT, DID YOU HAVE TO WRITE THEM UP? WHAT WAS THE PROCEDURE?
A: Yes, I had a system that I devised myself for each year. And which was used by the principals and by me and that affected the salaries to some extent. We did have a variation to the salary according to how well we did. It's not something every year we did, what it was, it was something that placed a high limit, it was the high limit part of it that was driving it, not the year by year in writing. Of which I think is a sound thing. This book... pretty well expresses what I think about the purpose of the role of education. I thought I would read one of them here... of course that's why I'm interested in literature as well as... This is one of the purposes: "To the betterment of all students an understanding of and appreciation of the aesthetic and the beautiful. At first glance, this may seem to be an impracticable and lofty purpose when you think of some of the pupils whom it would be expected to affect. But we can never be too sure of such things. And sometimes a sense of the beautiful comes from the most unexpected sources. One of the principal characters of Hard Times, a novel by Charles Dickens is Mr. Thomas Gradgrind, a retired wholesale hardware merchant. Mr. Gradgrind expressed his philosophy thus, quote 'and what I want is facts; teach these boys and girls nothing but facts. Facts alone are wanted in life. Plant nothing else and root out everything else. You can only form the mind of reasoning animals with facts. Nothing else will ever be of any service to them. This is the principal on which I bring up my own children, and this is the principal all children should be brought up. You are to be in all things regulated and governed by fact. We hope to have before long a Board of Fact, composed of Commissioners of Fact, who will force the people to be a people of Fact and nothing but Fact. You must discard the word fancy altogether. You have nothing to do with it. You will not to have in any object or use or ordinance but it would be a contradiction in fact. You don't walk upon flowers in fact. You cannot be allowed to walk upon flowers in thoughts. You don't find that foreign birds and butterflies come and perch upon your crockery. You cannot be permitted to paint foreign birds and butterflies upon your crockery. You will never meet with quadrupeds going up and down walls. You must not have quadrupeds represented on walls. You must use for all these purposes combinations and modifications in primary colors of mathematical figures which are susceptible to proof and demonstration. This is Fact.' And then I commented. "These words are of course purely satirical on the part of Charles Dickens. And in the novel he shows how somber tragedy came to Mr. Gradgrind's own children who attempted to put this philosophy into practice. What a stale, flat, and unprofitable world this would be if men had to deal only with fact. And how limited and fragmentary would education be if it could not cultivate the love of music, art and literature. And how drab and uninteresting would be the lives of those we teach. Yes, even the least gifted of them if they were discouraged from following the call of fancy. One of the premises of that I had for education. One of the broad purposes.
Q: WHAT HAVE WE NOT ASKED YOU THAT WE SHOULD HAVE? ARE THERE ANY QUESTIONS YOU FELT WE SHOULD HAVE ASKED YOU THAT WE HAVEN'T? THIS IS THE LAST ONE.
A: No, I don't think so. One of the things that is getting a lot of attention in the press nowadays is the relation of athletics to the school. Which was brought about by the death of this colored boy, black boy, down here, two of them as a matter of fact. The extent... the hypocrisy that is going on and probably in almost every department of education over it. And what to do about it. Or whether anybody has the wisdom or the courage to do anything about it. I don't know if the drug angle is prevalent and I don't know anything about the effect of drugs. I never had to deal with drugs. There weren't any drugs in school. Until after I left. If there were I didn't know about it. And I think I would have known. Every now and then I'd get somebody for drinking a little too much, maybe. But I knew nothing about drugs. And I don't know what I would do to deal with that. I often think if one of my children got into drugs. I don't know what I'd do, whether I'd kill him or kiss him. I listen to this fellow... the coach down here at Maryland, whom I don't trust. He... the morning that black boy died, he was weeping around and said, this was on television, "He couldn't have done it, he was a born-again Christian". That should show you how loosely that term is used. Because that born-again Christian had been horsing around downtown at 3 o-clock, 2 o-clock in the morning looking at some women and nobody knows how much dope he ingested. I don't know whether Lefty was covering up... there is a lot to come out of that thing that the grand jury is investigating. Because, apparently he called his crowd together and said clam up and not tell the law anything. Keep as much away from the law as they could. Which is wrong. We had an interesting thing about the... I remember one time... Because I was interested in athletics... I played baseball. I wasn't good enough to play football or basketball. I was a catcher in baseball. I broke my thumb to prove it. And enjoyed it and I enjoyed athletics and I enjoyed watching high school athletics. But, I never believed in lying in order to get someone out. And I never did lie.
Q: WHAT WERE YOUR ELIGIBILITY STANDARDS?
A: At that time you had to pass on the previous quarter, I think 3/4ths of your subjects and you had to be within a certain age limit. When I first became principal it was much older and they reduced it as years went on. I know we had a meeting, we used to have a league called the Cumberland Valley League, which was composed..., before they had the Virginia High School League, we had formed a league, which was formed before I became principal. Martinsburg, WV, and Hagerstown, Md, only one high school in Hagerstown then, and for a while there was only one in Cumberland... I forgot what that Cumberland school's name was..., and Waynesboro, PA, and another school in PA, as the road turns to Gettysburg... Chambersburg. They got out very early on account of the racial question because at that time those schools up in Pennsylvania didn't want blacks on it either. So it wasn't limited to the bloody South. Anyhow, they had a younger age than we had down here. And the argument came up, they wanted to change it to make it a younger age and that's when I said we could make a decision because Hunter Maddox and I were at the meeting and we could make a decision. And I said well we won't agree to that I said, in the first place you never fail anybody up here and that's the reason you don't ever have any overage people. But we have a tougher standard, academic standard, and we do fail some of them and so therefore some of them get beyond the age. And if you insist on that we'll get out of the league. Right today. Well they very quickly changed their minds on it. I don't... the pressures on that thing are so strong from the college standpoint, the alumni and the money involved they'll get to these people under the table somehow. And I don't suppose there's any mortal sin for being paid for being a good athlete. I don't suppose that's a sin against the Holy Ghost. I think the problem is not that they do it but the fact... the problem is they lie about it afterwards. That's the part that would bother me.
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