Segregationist governor’s name to be removed from ECU dorm

Charles B. Aycock was the Governor of North Carolina at the turn of the last Century.  He was a Democrat, and followed Republican Governor Daniel Lindsay Russell.  Russell was a distant relative of mine.  He and his wife are buried in a little, neglected cemetery between Swansboro and Belgrade, NC.  I say neglected, not because someone mows the lawn periodically, but because since my first visit years ago, the ornate iron fencing surrounding the small cemetery has mostly disappeared.  I guess “grave robbers” are stealing the wrought iron to sell.cbaycock

During the election campaign for Daniel Russell, he was often caricatured in the News & Observer as a hideous creature, sometimes even portrayed with claws, instead of hands.  Russell wasn’t what might be considered a handsome man.  He was tall, and “large boned,” and he did have almost “bugged” eyes, so creating an unpleasant image wasn’t that difficult.  The News & Observer of that time was obviously racist, and pretty unashamedly so… so Charles B. Aycock would not have been an enemy of the publication.

In 1972, when I first attended college at UNC-Chapel Hill, I was housed in Aycock Men’s Dorm.  I was on the 3rd floor and my first roommate was Keith Smith, a UNC Senior.  I only attended UNC-Chapel Hill for two years, before I had to go elsewhere.  Not their fault, but mine… being a Fall partier, that in my last weeks, became a Spring partier, and an “almost every night of the week” drinker.

During the warmer times of the year, when we had our windows open, my third roommate, who’s name I do not recall (but he was a young, accomplished tennis player with Arthur Ashe composite rackets), and who loved to put strings of profanity together, would call out of the window, “Lewis… Lewis… Lewis,”  (getting louder with each call) and finally from across the quad, a male voice from Lewis Dorm would respond, “What”.   And, to which my roommate, and later myself would reply, “Eat Shit!”  Funny what entertains one in college.

Writing this also reminds me that we rarely had our 3rd floor window closed*, and that was because during warmer days, we needed the breeze, and during colder times, our uncontrollable radiator put out more than enough heat (too much) to have the window closed.  *I do recall a few days, with snow on the ground that we finally closed the window.

Aycock Dorm was eventually combined with the next door, women’s dorm (I don’t recall that name.) physically, with the small space between the two buildings being built in & bricked.  *I also recall that years after attending classes, but before the buildings being connected, I parked my car and walked into the dorm.  i started upstairs, and made it all the way to the 3rd floor doors before realizing that the dorm had been converted to a women’s facility.  The cute little door message board was the dead giveaway of the change.

On those times when I travel between Fayetteville and Greenville, I am reminded of Governor Aycock as I near his birthplace, which is a State preserved/run Park.  Wonder if eventually someone will think to try and stop State funding for the Aycock Birthplace.

In reading about Daniel L. Russell and Charles B. Aycock, even though one was a Republican and the other a Democrat, they both were friendly and respected one another.  I seem to recall that they amicably rode a train together, and when Russell left the Governor’s Mansion, he left the place in good condition, and well stocked for food… not as Russell’s predecessor had, leaving the Mansion with a bare pantry and strewn on the lower floor with empty liquor bottles.

*Note:  I also recall that quite often the thick aroma of marijuana would waft up from below (I guess 2nd floor.) and be sucked into our dorm window.  I did not try MJ until I was attending UNC-W (late in my college educational process), but for about 11 months during that time, I tried it quite frequently, and learned to experience “the munchies” and the paranoia that goes with its use.