William Durham, March 25, 2021

Dublin Core

Title

William Durham, March 25, 2021

Subject

African American college students

Description

From early educational experiences in all-Black schools, William Henry Durham, Class of 1962, entered the primarily white Muhlenberg College with the assistance of a scholarship from the Phillip Morris Company. While Mr. Durham encountered racist moments, he paved a path to acceptance with his finely-honed social skills, musical talents and athletic activities.

Date

2021-03-25

Format

video

Identifier

MCA_06

Oral History Item Type Metadata

Interviewer

Susan Falciani Maldonado
Samantha Brenner
Hailey Petrus

Interviewee

William Durham

Duration

01:10:11

OHMS Object Text

5.4 March 25th, 2021 William Durham, March 25, 2021 MCA_06 01:10:10 MCA-D History of Diversity and Inclusion at Muhlenberg College Muhlenberg College: Trexler Library Oral History Repository African American college students William Durham Susan Falciani Maldonado Samantha Brenner Hailey Petrus video/mp4 DurhamBill_20210325_edited.mp4 1:|16(11)|27(10)|37(8)|47(16)|60(3)|69(4)|80(13)|92(1)|102(16)|116(9)|126(8)|138(13)|149(5)|160(12)|174(8)|187(12)|198(13)|209(9)|222(15)|235(5)|244(3)|254(13)|268(1)|280(6)|293(15)|305(2)|314(10)|326(5)|338(6)|349(6)|361(14)|373(10)|386(8)|398(9)|410(11)|423(14)|436(8)|449(7)|461(6)|474(5)|484(2)|493(13)|504(14)|516(13)|528(4)|537(3)|549(11)|560(10)|572(12)|581(8)|595(1)|604(12)|616(7)|626(1)|636(7)|647(9)|656(3)|664(6)|676(2)|697(6)|709(2)|724(11)|734(12)|744(8)|755(1)|763(9)|774(6)|784(3)|794(5)|807(11) 0 https://youtu.be/EznY5b2eOog YouTube video English 55 Early Life and Family I came to Muhlenberg at an interesting time only because Muhlenberg was an all male school when I came in 1957, prior to me getting there. And, I found myself all that new, but also all male and all white. OK? And I was making the transition from an all-Black community in Richmond, Virginia. And I go to Muhlenberg. Why Muhlenberg? Family ; Muhlenberg College ; Philip Morris ; Scholarship 908 Experiences at Muhlenberg And the only school that had accepted me right away was Muhlenberg and I didn't know anything about Muhlenberg. I called it “Mull-en-burg,” was my interpretation of what Muhlenberg was. I remember getting to Muhlenberg and that was the same year that Muhlenberg had started to admit females. They were all white. [Unclear] I give them the third floor at Muhlenberg. I want to call it East Hall for some reason. I think that I lived among seniors. They were all my-- not my classmates because they were graduating. My counselor in college was a fellow named Beeny. His name was Beeny. Jim Beeny. I think his name was. And actually, he met me when I got there. I liked him. He was a nice guy, a white guy. I liked him. I liked him a lot. Clint Jeffries ; Coeducation ; Dr. Shankweiler ; East Hall ; Social Life 1493 Introduction to IBM And I finally met a fellow who was at-- had gone to work for IBM. His name was Floyd Stem, Woody Stem. I remember him. So I recruited him to be my roommate, a white guy, handicapped. He was a nice guy. Met his parents. He lived in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, which is close by to Allentown. So he just wanted to apply to IBM. 1894 Continued Work at IBM And four years later, I got choices. I mean, I became a manager in IBM and I knew that managers made more than staff people. So I became a manager, recruiting at the time. And, by the way, that's who I interviewed when I first came to interview with Austin Short. And he was recruiting manager. He asked me a question like where you think you're going to be at in five years. And I told him, well, “What's your job?” And he told me about recruiting. I said, &quot ; I'll have your job.&quot ; I was bold. And finally he says, “Well, I sure hope so.” And in five years to the date, that's when I made manager, and I had his job. I called him. He says, &quot ; I hear about you made manager.&quot ; I said, &quot ; Yep.&quot ; He said, &quot ; Man, you're going to do great.&quot ; And all of a sudden my career took off. I was getting increases every month. 1955 Work at Mental Hospital But I was locked in a place called Poughkeepsie. Now, Poughkeepsie, that's where Muhlenberg was [some confusion with Allentown]. I'd gone to the fairs, them fairgrounds, I guess, every year I'd do that. I’d even get to point that my doctors at the hospital would say, I asked them, &quot ; Can I take the patients.&quot ; These patients you have all kinds of mental problems, I’d say, &quot ; I want to take him to the fair.&quot ; He says, &quot ; What you mean you want to take them to the fair?&quot ; I said, “I have student nurses working for me. I'll take 10 student nurses and we’ll all take them to the fair.” And my rules about taking them to the fair did earn them the right to go to the fair. That means, stay out of trouble. And my rules when I got to the fair was rather swift. I said, &quot ; I'm going to leave you here. You can walk around these student nurses. That's not a problem.” 2260 Experiences with Music at Muhlenberg And I taught the class, by the way, how to play, play bongos. I was also a musician. I also played in my high school band. Wouldn’t believe! I played all the brass winds. When I came to Muhlenberg, there was a fellow named Burt, Alburtis Meyers, I think his name was. He was one of the last dozen members of Philips Sousa Band and only enhanced my musical skill because he was wonderful. Nice guy, Alburtis Meyers. And I joined the orchestra. I was in the marching band and I played all the brass winds cause I would be asked every year, which you going to play this year? I said, &quot ; What's your need?&quot ; He said, &quot ; Well, we need a baritone player.” So I learned how to play baritone. And we need a trombone player. I learned how to play the trombone. So whatever he needed in music to make his band complete, I learned how to play the instrument. So I played all the brass winds, trumpet, trombone, French horn, tuba, sousaphone, double leaf and sousaphone. I played all the things that needed [unclear] to play. So, he became one of my best friends. And he’s in my yearbook I know that. 2477 Current Family Life I was doing very well in Allentown and my second daughter was doing well, my first daughter was doing well. And then my dear daughter came, who is the fun in my family, her name is Erica. Erica is now 51 and Dacia is I think is probably 57, 58, she’ll be this year as I recall. And she comes to visit me often these days. She comes to Midlothian and spend a few days with me. She's been talking, got to know each other better and she's the love of my life. She’s my first kid. My family loved her. I used to take my three kids down to Virginia to meet my mother. My mother loved them and I loved, I adored them. 2536 Success at IBM And I started to get my life together a little more and I continued to do very well at IBM, things were working very well at IBM. Everything I touched had start to turn to gold and I said this is wonderful. And then I began to move up as a high performance person, doing well on a fast track and promotion starts come one after the other. And this was a great thing. They were all managerial jobs, but low level managers. And I went to one of IBM subsidiary, subsidiaries called Scope Science and Research Associates. And that was in Chicago, that was the first time I had really moved. They said if you're being more mobile, you can go even further. 2580 Past Family Life: Chicago and California So I moved to Chicago and my family went along with me. They loved Chicago. My youngest daughter, who was kind of a, well, at 12, she was a pre-Olympic swimmer. That was Erica. My first wife put her in the swimming pool and all of a sudden, she was starting to be recruited as a 12 year old. And oh I liked this kid, she’s really great and then she says, “Hey mom I don’t think I want to swim anymore.” And Mom got very angry with me… “Do you realize she wants to get out of swimming?” I said, “That’s what she wants, let her do what she needs to do.” I remember building a go-kart for her because that’s really what she wanted to do. 2790 Extracurriculars at Muhlenberg HP: Besides band, what other social and extracurricular activities where you're part of at Muhlenberg? BHD: Well, I hadn't-- I wasn't a part of any of that the first year because I was worrying about not flunking out. And pretty soon I had joined, if you'd look at my yearbook-- I suddenly became pretty popular at Muhlenberg because I joined everything, the Jazz Society. I couldn't go to the fraternity cause I knew they weren’t accepting minorities in fraternities. I-- God, what else? I worked on the editorial staff in the yearbook for ‘61, there’s a cover I designed. Artistically, I was pretty good. I could draw very well. And so I started to make posters. I remember the play that I wrote the poster for-- it was “Waiting for Godot.” And it was kind of an avant garde kind of picture. And I wrote pictures, and it was a perfect thing for me to be on the editorial staff. So I would help to design the yearbook. 3008 Muhlenberg's Impact SB: I guess, bringing us to contemporary times, is there anything that you would do differently if you could start over at Muhlenberg? Is there anything you would have done differently or what ways did your experience at Muhlenberg impact the trajectory of your life? BHD: Yeah, I would be a better student. I would have been a little further ahead if I had done well at Muhlenberg. But, I was fighting to stay alive at Muhlenberg. And just stay well adjusted. But everything I learned at Muhlenberg, those skills kind of carried over for me, okay. I am now 83 and I'm not working and I am now retired from IBM after being there for instead of six weeks, I was there for almost 25 years. I retired in nineteen-eighty-eight. And immediately, got referred to another company where I went to work. And those skills I had ganged up, worked out very well. I became the corporate director of the place called National Micronetics for a computer company. Me, who didn’t even know about computers, became one of the corporate directors at National Micronetics. And I met other people there and learned a lot of things. 3339 Muhlenberg's Past &amp ; its Progress Today HP: So what do you want to see-- like, what would you like to see for future students of color at Muhlenberg? BHD: Well, you've done well, I got to tell you that. Well now there's a Black-- is it a fraternity, a social group on campus. One of the things I saw. I'm trying to think. I went there and I was most impressed that you had a Queen at homecoming or something who was Black. I met a lot of those students at that place. I'm pleased with Muhlenberg in terms of how well they've changed their way of living. I'm pleased with all the people I've ever met and I-- I know follow me. There were a couple of people when we got him-- Al Downing, who was a pitcher for the Yankees. He was in my junior year. He came, I guess, and a guy named Hazleton, another basketball player. So I am very proud of-- proud to be a Mule, okay. And I came back to, I think, my finally-- my fiftieth year reunion and I met a lot of people and they all have kids now and students who are now students at Muhlenberg. 4010 Arriving at Muhlenberg and meeting Haps Benfer emember a fellow named Frouenfelker. Was he an admissions-- people I remember most like Haps Benfer. I know he’s dead, but I meant-- interesting enough, when I first came to Muhlenberg, it was a 14 hour bus ride from Richmond, Virginia, to Allentown, I remember that. And I got there around midnight, finally, after the 14 hour bus ride with many stops. And I got a cab to Chew Street and I saw the admissions building and I knocked on the door-- it was midnight. And this guy comes out, very tall guy. That was Haps. He said, “Can I help you, young man?” I said, “Yeah, I’m a student that’s coming down here.” He said, “How come you’re so late?” I said, “I came from Virginia.” He took me to the third floor. There was a pre-admission test I had to take for two days. And I took that. And that was an eye-opening experience. I said, “Oh I'm not going to survive.” And-- but I survived. I hung in there. It took me four and a half years before I met the qualifications to graduate. And then, like colleges, that I had heard of before because I recruited a lot. MovingImage From early educational experiences in all-Black schools, William Henry Durham, Class of 1962, entered the primarily white Muhlenberg College with the assistance of a scholarship from the Phillip Morris Company. While Mr. Durham encountered racist moments, he paved a path to acceptance with his finely-honed social skills, musical talents and athletic activities. William Durham March 25, 2021 HAILEY PETRUS: My name is Hailey Petrus, and I am here with William Durham to talk about his experiences at Muhlenberg College. Our goal is to collect oral histories of people&#039 ; s unique experiences during their years as students to preserve the information for future generations to access. The oral histories are an integral part of our course, The History of Diversity and Inclusion at Muhlenberg College. We are meeting on Zoom on Thursday, March 24th, 2021, 25th. Samantha Brenner: Thank you so much for your willingness to speak with us today. To start, can you please state your full name and spell it for me? Bill Henry Durham: My name is Bill Durham. Full name, Henry, Bill Henry Durham. It&#039 ; s my middle name. I came to Muhlenberg at an interesting time only because Muhlenberg was an all male school when I came in 1957, prior to me getting there. And, I found myself all that new, but also all male and all white. OK? And I was making the transition from an all-Black community in Richmond, Virginia. And I go to Muhlenberg. Why Muhlenberg? I don&#039 ; t really know, because I was lucky enough to get a full academic scholarship to go to the college of my choice from Phillip Morris. I should tell you, my mother worked at Phillip Morris in the tobacco factory side. She was there for 40 years and she came home one day and said, &quot ; Phillip Morris is going to be awarding scholarships this year for the first time.&quot ; I was one of the first winners of a scholarship to the college of my choice. I applied to a lot of places and got rejected. OK? And where they were interesting places, places like Cornell and Bucknell and Penn State, a lot of different schools I applied to, but I was rejected and for a reason. I understood very well because those schools were basically all white schools. And I said I think I want to go to a white school cause the class before me had begun to offer scholarships as my upperclassmen were graduating. I had no choice but to go. BHD: But I had to go to a Black high school and high school, by the way, was called Maggie L. Walker. And she was one of the first pioneers in banking and they named the school after her. So I went to school. Maggie Walker was basically a vocational high school and they taught a lot of things, basically like barbering and brick-laying. And I didn&#039 ; t necessarily want to do all that stuff, even though I was fairly well trained. I&#039 ; d do a lot of things but my mother was very excellent, by the way, because she taught me how to cook, how to sew. And I learn a lot of things from her. And I have, I was lucky enough to have, my mother had nine kids when I was born. I was the last boy. I had six sisters and one brother. My mother had that six, that&#039 ; s seven really. And my oldest sister was a lady called Lily, Lily Durham. And she was a very short lady. I should tell you that I was six foot at the time and everybody in my family was short. My father was short. My mother was short. Lily was the shortest of all. She wasn&#039 ; t even five feet, but she could, she was a good teacher. She taught me a lot. I couldn&#039 ; t go to school right away because I was born as an epileptic, and so I couldn&#039 ; t go to school. And my mother tried to get me to school. They said, no, he needs too much care. So I didn&#039 ; t go to school until I was almost eight years old. When I went, I had a momentous kind of career going to school when I went to elementary school. I did not go to first grade. I didn&#039 ; t have kindergarten. I went to school. And within the first year, I was skipped from the-- I went to school I&#039 ; d started off in the fourth grade. I would skip from the fourth grade to sixth grade because my older sister was really taking care of us because my father had worked all day and my mother was working all day. So my older sister was Lily, who&#039 ; s barely a teenager, by the way, so she&#039 ; d look out after us while she was going to school. So she looked out after her brother and her five sisters. I have five sisters. They was followed by my next older sister. Her name was Meg Esther, and a couple ages younger than my first sister. And that was followed by my brother whose name was Joe. And Joe was the third child of my mother&#039 ; s living six kids, and then that was followed by another sister named Rosa May Durham. And she was about 16 when I was born. So I had a lot of ladies around me taking care of my life. And they were very good at it. My mother, particularly because being the sixth, the last child and being the sixth child. And my fifth child, I guess, of my mother&#039 ; s history, was Bertha. And Bertha was a very talented young lady. And when I was-- I got into high school eventually. I remember Bertha graduated the same high school because she had to go to Maggie Walker also. And none of us really wanted to go to Maggie Walker cause that was vocational. We were working on trying to be, you know, academically very nice, wonderful and do wonderful things. So Bertha was my sister. Meg Esther, her-- her nickname was &quot ; Sister.&quot ; It made sense. And so I say I&#039 ; ll look through and look at some school, I&#039 ; ll find a place to go. And, by the way, Muhlenberg was the first school to accept me, and they did that within a week after I had applied. And then they sent a letter to-- I could read at the time, by the way. I was reading since I was about four years old. I could spell, I was very talented. I learned fast, all because Lily, my older sister, taught me how to learn by rote, rote learning. She&#039 ; d tell me, &quot ; I&#039 ; ll tell you something. Remember it and you tell me what it is all later,&quot ; that&#039 ; s what I told her. So, she was a good teacher for me at that time and she was probably at that time in high school and as a young teenager. So she trained me very well about learning. And my mother just loved me. I was a young, sick, young sick kid who my mother took great care of, when she wasn&#039 ; t working, but she&#039 ; d come home. My father, I gotta tell you, I didn&#039 ; t like him a lot at the time because he was the disciplinarian in my family. And if kids screwed up a little bit-- I didn&#039 ; t screw up, I was a nice kid, stayed out of trouble, so I didn&#039 ; t get spankings. And at that time, we called them beatings because it wasn&#039 ; t a little slap on the hand or slap on the butt. It was fist and my father was a punisher. I&#039 ; d screw up occasionally by doing things like shooting a B.B. gun at my sister, Bertha, and I hit her in the neck with the B.B.s. Didn&#039 ; t hurt me. And we would take the B.B. guns and put on heavy coats. So when the B.B. came out of the gun, you wouldn&#039 ; t feel the B.B. at all. But it hit the coat and fall, the B.B. will fall on the floor. So I did that once and I shot her in the neck. That was the first time I had something called a beating. That wasn&#039 ; t a-- that was a whipping. And my father really gave it to me, by the way. So I said I&#039 ; d better behave. So I learned to behave and stayed out of trouble for the early part of my career. I was learning very quickly, having me skip from coming, starting in second grade, being skipped to fourth grade. And being skipped to the sixth grade. Very suddenly, in my first early part of my career started going to school. I had always, as far as I can remember, up to the sixth grade. And my mother was so proud of me. And my sister Lily was always boasting about what a great student I was because I had learned a lot. And my mother just loved it. And finally-- they didn&#039 ; t keep very good records at the Black school, by the way. When I got into a part that I was-- I was almost six feet tall when I was twelve years old with the rest of my family being around...the tallest person was probably my brother, who is about five-foot-five. My father was probably about five-foot-five. My mother was about five-foot-seven. I was taller than anybody in the family. So if you picture-- see pictures of me, I&#039 ; m always in the middle. They would take the pictures and I&#039 ; d be the tallest person in the family. So I had a good education coming up. The first &quot ; B&quot ; I ever received, by way, was when I got into high school. I took a course called Geometry and I got a B. And my mother said, &quot ; What&#039 ; s wrong with you? How come you got a B?&quot ; I said, &quot ; Well, they didn&#039 ; t like me.&quot ; Typical teenage answer. Right? But here I had teachers, wonderful teachers. They were all Black teachers at Maggie Walker High School, all Black teachers. No, there were no whites in this school at all. I had moved from a ghetto life in Richmond, Virginia, into an all white community on the north side. And I wasn&#039 ; t necessarily welcome there. In fact, I remember the first bad exposure I had was the Klan. Klu Klux Klan had burned a cross in my front yard and I asked my mother, &quot ; Why are they doing that?&quot ; And she said, &quot ; Well, they don&#039 ; t like Blacks moving into the neighborhood.&quot ; So I tolerated that ; got along fairly well. My mother had worked all day at Phillip Morris. My father worked all day in a place called Coal, Coal Yard, doing menial work. His job was basically shoveling coal off of the coal cars and putting them in a pile and a truck would come and put the coal in the right truck and all that stuff. My mother was 34 when I was born and my father was 41. I lived in the Black community most of my life, on the edge of the ghetto. And finally my mother decided we can have a better life. She decided she would integrate the white community. And we moved in. That didn&#039 ; t go all that well. One being the burning of the cross in the neighborhood. I got along fairly well with my neighbors. But they began to move out of the neighborhood into an all-white community, which was six blocks away from where I lived. And they lived in a place north of-- north of Brooklyn Park Boulevard, where they called the separation point between Black and white communities and on the left side of that street were basically Black-owned restaurants and something called [unclear]. We used to go there cause all Blacks would go there ; we go there and dance and have a good time. But if we crossed the street, we were in trouble and we may have to fight our way back. I remember doing that. I ran a lot. I got a lot of practice running. But I survived all that. And then, finally, I found myself doing very well after the B. I started getting all A&#039 ; s again. And to the point that it was time to graduate. My first job I got to a place called, it was a rubber factory.I was good in chemistry. I thought I&#039 ; m going to be a chemist. And I wasn&#039 ; t a great chemist. I was not a good major, by the way. I almost flunked everything I had. I remember having Muhlenberg-- I&#039 ; d gone to Muhlenberg with very high scores. I knew I did well on the College Boards because I got a scholarship. I was one of six kids who won the first scholarship and the other five were like four girls and another guy myself. I was in the middle of the page and they, my Philip Morris mentor, I guess, said, &quot ; We&#039 ; re going to announ-- We are not going to announce you as winning a scholarship. So don&#039 ; t tell anybody you won a scholarship.&quot ; Naturally, I couldn&#039 ; t keep quiet. So, I told my school counselor and she said-- I said, &quot ; Don&#039 ; t tell anybody. My mother&#039 ; s not telling anybody.&quot ; But, needless need to say, when they saw my picture on the page in the publication that Phillip Morris put out, my mother just couldn&#039 ; t keep quiet. So she said, &quot ; That&#039 ; s my son.&quot ; And they didn&#039 ; t announce me at my graduation, by the way. I had a scholarship, fully paid, and I had applied to a lot of schools. And the only school that had accepted me right away was Muhlenberg and I didn&#039 ; t know anything about Muhlenberg. I called it &quot ; Mull-en-burg,&quot ; was my interpretation of what Muhlenberg was. I remember getting to Muhlenberg and that was the same year that Muhlenberg had started to admit females. They were all white. [Unclear] I give them the third floor at Muhlenberg. I want to call it East Hall for some reason. I think that I lived among seniors. They were all my-- not my classmates because they were graduating. My counselor in college was a fellow named Beeny. His name was Beeny. Jim Beeny. I think his name was. And actually, he met me when I got there. I liked him. He was a nice guy, a white guy. I liked him. I liked him a lot. I didn&#039 ; t learn that. When I looked at the yearbook for 1958, there was one Black guy in the yearbook and his name was Clint Jeffries. I didn&#039 ; t know him. He was the class of &#039 ; 58. And I said, &quot ; At least they got one Black guy.&quot ; And I found out that as I read through the &#039 ; 58 album that he was a star basketball player from Muhlenberg. So I hadn&#039 ; t met him at that time. I said I&#039 ; ll meet him when I get there. When I got there, Clint was not there. So I was the only Black on campus. I don&#039 ; t know where Clint was. I didn&#039 ; t know him at all. I didn&#039 ; t meet him till my sophomore year. I went to a basketball game and I think he was probably on an athletic scholarship. I know he&#039 ; s from New York. And I think it was Harlem that he lived in and so he put me under his wings and took me to Harlem. I&#039 ; d never been to Harlem in my life. But I went to Harlem and I found out his father was an undertaker, met his father, met his mother, and that was finishing up, I guess. Maybe dropped out or something because I didn&#039 ; t see him until my second year. And I&#039 ; d see him along and, and by my second year, another Black guy came. His name was Gordonfred West, as I recall. And he was from South Carolina. His parents were both college professors at Shaw University. And his mother wanted me to meet her son Gordon for it. He and her sister by the name of Barbara, as I recall, and she talked my mother into letting me go to New Jersey for the summer. And I went to New Jersey for a summer, hated it. I went to New Jersey. I stayed about two weeks for the summer and went back home to Richmond and I had to find a job. So I needed coll-- money when I went to college, spending money, and I had everything except spending money. So I worked for that summer, 1957, I had graduated a little early. So I worked at a place called Richmond Memorial Hospital. I was working as a porter and I was going to be a summer replacement for a lot of the doctors and the nurses who were taking a vacation. And I was cleaning the place. That&#039 ; s what I did very well, because I learned to clean very well. That&#039 ; s how I made my little extra money. Cutting grass and stuff like that. So I had a little money when I got to school, spending money, and I did that fairly well. And then they asked me, could I come back the next summer? I said, I&#039 ; m available all the time. I come anytime I come if I come to school, come from school. I mean, my semester work or something. I would work for the hospital for the summer. I would do things, scrub floors, and help out. But I was ambitious and I could do better than scrubbing floors. So, I started helping out nurses in making beds and stuff like that. And I became a very popular person in the hospital. I&#039 ; ve worked in a lot of different departments. I even worked in labor and delivery. I love that. So I did that for a while. I worked in X-rays, doing things, carting people to the operating room and shaving patients before they went for surgery and stuff like that. I enjoyed that. And I thought, &quot ; Oh boy, I&#039 ; m going to be a doctor.&quot ; And I didn&#039 ; t change my major. I recognized after a while that Muhlenberg had a wonderful professor. His name was Shankweiler, as I recall. If he loved you, he could get you into any school that you could go to, but you had to pass his courses. My second year at Muhlenberg was a probation year. I would come to school, study hard and just couldn&#039 ; t get good grades. I was just trying to adjust to my social life, and I had trouble with that because I am coming from an all-Black community at an all-Black school and no one knew me. And the seniors were very nice to me and, but, my classmates from the class of 61, were kind of mean, I think. I found myself getting into fights and-- but the seniors were always protective of me and I didn&#039 ; t get hazed very much. And I wore that gray hat called a dink, I think it was. But that singled me out very quickly. So my classmates, class of &#039 ; 61, would be on my case all the time. They called me names and I-- I could handle it. So I stayed out of fights and my upperclassmen in class before me became very protective of me. I remember a fellow who was on--I was on the third or fourth floor of East Hall, as I recall--His name was Barry Serota. He was graduating in &#039 ; 58. And I met him. He was-- my job was to give up my closet and let him, as a senior, use my closet for his clothes. And I did that because I liked him. He was a nice guy, Barry Serota. So we became good friends. He was on the football team and well known. Nice guy. He&#039 ; s from New Jersey, as I recall. And so he helped me get-- adjust my social life with other people. And the women who were in school at the time are all very nice to me because I was a new kid on the block. And they would come over and introduce themselves and I&#039 ; d spend a lot of time talking to them. And other classmates would be asking questions, &quot ; How come all the girls come talk to you?&quot ; I said,&quot ; I must be entertaining.&quot ; I found I didn&#039 ; t have all the nice habits that the girls had. So, I would eat chicken with my fingers. And they said, &quot ; Oh, he&#039 ; s doing that. It must be OK.&quot ; But that&#039 ; s what I did when I was living in Richmond, and I got along very well with them. So after a while, I found myself in my junior year at Muhlenberg. There was a professor who called me and said, &quot ; How are you doing?&quot ; I said, &quot ; I think I&#039 ; m okay. I&#039 ; m off probation.&quot ; He said, &quot ; No, you&#039 ; re not off probation. You probably won&#039 ; t graduate with your class.&quot ; And I said, &quot ; That&#039 ; s what you think, I&#039 ; m gonna graduate my class.&quot ; Well, I didn&#039 ; t graduate with my class. I did not graduate in the four years that I should have. I got to find a job because all the seniors had-- who were my protectors, had found themselves going to med school and being ministers, cause Muhlenberg was known to educate-- was well-known for its religious education. And I found myself disciplined to the point that I knew I had to go to twenty-six chapels a year at a Lutheran school. I&#039 ; m a Baptist person. But I managed to stay out of trouble. I managed to go to all the chapels. I could pass all courses except things like chemistry. So I said, &quot ; I think I&#039 ; ll--.&quot ; I did fairly well, I&#039 ; d managed to get the D, so I had passed. That wasn&#039 ; t passing. I remember one year I had like a grade point average of 1.2. And I said, &quot ; I&#039 ; m out here, I&#039 ; m going to quit.&quot ; But I hung in there because if my mother knew I&#039 ; d quit, since she worked at Phillip Morris and she said, &quot ; No, no, you&#039 ; re not.&quot ; So I stayed in school. I came back that summer. I moved off campus and I moved to-- across the street to a place called the Campus Shop. I think that was one right off the campus, I moved into an apartment across the street and I played a lot of cards. Pinochle. And I was good at it. So I played Pinochle every night. And I finally met a fellow who was at-- had gone to work for IBM. His name was Floyd Stem, Woody Stem. I remember him. So I recruited him to be my roommate, a white guy, handicapped. He was a nice guy. Met his parents. He lived in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, which is close by to Allentown. So he just wanted to apply to IBM. And I said-- I was working in the hospital at that time. I said, &quot ; Ah, IBM&#039 ; s about computers. I&#039 ; m not a technical person.&quot ; He said, &quot ; Well, they&#039 ; re hiring people, IBM is starting to integrate its people.&#039 ; I said, &quot ; IBM is nothing but white managers. I don&#039 ; t know anything about computers, so I&#039 ; m not going to IBM.&quot ; I interviewed IBM and they offered me a job. At the time, I was working three shifts at the hospital. So money wasn&#039 ; t a problem. I was making big bucks, I thought, for kid from Richmond. I think working three shifts, I was making like forty-seven dollars a week. I said, that&#039 ; s big bucks. And but, anyhow, I kept doing that and I turned down IBM and one of the IBM managers-- I remember his name was John Isaacs. By this time, I was married to my first wife. Her name was Patricia. And after being married to her for nine months, I had my first child. Her name was Dacia. You talked to Dacia earlier. She is my first child. I was working the hospital, three shifts. I was making enough money to support the one child that I had. Two years later, my second child came. Her name was Andrea. Andrea was-- I had all girls. I called my mother and said, &quot ; You&#039 ; re going to be another grandmother.&quot ; She said, &quot ; Was it a boy?&quot ; I said, &quot ; No.&quot ; She said, &quot ; When are you going to have some boys?&quot ; I said, &quot ; Next time.&quot ; Well, next time was Erica, who was born five years between Dacia, my oldest child, and Andrea, my second oldest child. And she was born. I was working for IBM, had been at IBM about six weeks. And so I quit. I said I can&#039 ; t work at IBM. And so I said, &quot ; The story you guys told me was I could make as much money as I want, isn&#039 ; t true. I&#039 ; m not making a lot of money. So, I&#039 ; m going to quit.&quot ; And this boss came in and came to a meeting I was in one day. He says, &quot ; Who is this guy called Bill Durham?&quot ; And my boss, that&#039 ; s his name-- his name was Austin Short. And Austin Short used to be a coach at Muhlenberg, football coach. He went to Lehigh, I think. And when I went for an interview, I said, &quot ; I know you.&quot ; He says, &quot ; How do you know me?&quot ; I said, &quot ; Did you ever play football at Muhlenberg?&quot ; He said, &quot ; No, I was the coach at Muhlenberg.&quot ; I said, &quot ; Ah, I know you. You&#039 ; re the guy we burned in effigy.&quot ; What a beginning. Cause he was a tough coach. But I liked him and we got along very well. And he became kind of a mentor for me. He helped me a lot. Told me a lot of things. And I found myself all of the sudden, when his boss came in and asked who was Bill Durham, I raised my hand. And I said, &quot ; Why you know me?&quot ; He said, &quot ; Well, you talked to his boss, who is a laboratory manager, and I said-- so I told him, like IBM tells all people, it says he wants to hire his daughter. I said, &quot ; If she&#039 ; s qualified, we hire her.&quot ; And he walked in one day and he walked in right behind and my second line boss and said, &quot ; Is Bill Durham here?&quot ; And my boss, Austin Short, says, &quot ; Oh, yeah, this is Bill right here.&quot ; And he saw I was a Black man. He says, &quot ; Well, you got a lot of gumption.&quot ; And I didn&#039 ; t know what he was. What&#039 ; s a lab manager? Didn&#039 ; t bother me. And he said, &quot ; Yeah, I&#039 ; m gonna--&quot ; I met him later on in the plane, one day. He says, &quot ; Remember me?&quot ; I said, &quot ; Yeah, you guy who&#039 ; s a lab manager.&quot ; I knew lab manager was in charge of a lot of high potential jobs in IBM. And so he bought me a drink on the plane, moved me to first class. I liked him and he moved me-- I sat between him and one of those people who worked for him. And so they treated me very well. And I said, I think I&#039 ; ll have a look at my personnel file if I can do that. IBM allowed you to look at your folder. I had looked at it and I understood everything about it was fair. I got fairly good ratings performance-wise. And except the only thing I didn&#039 ; t understand, there was something called PFP in there, as I understand everything about the folder, but what is PFP? And one of my peers working in recruiting says, &quot ; Oh, that means &#039 ; pay for performance.&#039 ; &quot ; That sounds good for me. I later found out that that doesn&#039 ; t mean pay for performance. He says plans for progress. And I was identified as a person who could go far in the business if I continue to perform well. I was performing well at the time. I said, &quot ; What does that mean?&quot ; He said, &quot ; Well, there are people who set aside, who could go far in the business.&quot ; And by the way, at IBM, when I went to work there, the only Blacks working at IBM that I knew were the cafeteria workers. They were the ladies who would serve your food and they liked me because I&#039 ; d love to eat. I&#039 ; d get a little extra portions when I walked through. And they found out I was working in an area called personnel. Remember I worked in a mental hospital for six years, so I could interview very, very well. And so they had me as a person who could go far in the business. And I said, that&#039 ; s kind of nice. I&#039 ; ll try it. So I stayed. And four years later, I got choices. I mean, I became a manager in IBM and I knew that managers made more than staff people. So I became a manager, recruiting at the time. And, by the way, that&#039 ; s who I interviewed when I first came to interview with Austin Short. And he was recruiting manager. He asked me a question like where you think you&#039 ; re going to be at in five years. And I told him, well, &quot ; What&#039 ; s your job?&quot ; And he told me about recruiting. I said, &quot ; I&#039 ; ll have your job.&quot ; I was bold. And finally he says, &quot ; Well, I sure hope so.&quot ; And in five years to the date, that&#039 ; s when I made manager, and I had his job. I called him. He says, &quot ; I hear about you made manager.&quot ; I said, &quot ; Yep.&quot ; He said, &quot ; Man, you&#039 ; re going to do great.&quot ; And all of a sudden my career took off. I was getting increases every month. But I was locked in a place called Poughkeepsie. Now, Poughkeepsie, that&#039 ; s where Muhlenberg was [some confusion with Allentown]. I&#039 ; d gone to the fairs, them fairgrounds, I guess, every year I&#039 ; d do that. I&#039 ; d even get to point that my doctors at the hospital would say, I asked them, &quot ; Can I take the patients.&quot ; These patients you have all kinds of mental problems, I&#039 ; d say, &quot ; I want to take him to the fair.&quot ; He says, &quot ; What you mean you want to take them to the fair?&quot ; I said, &quot ; I have student nurses working for me. I&#039 ; ll take 10 student nurses and we&#039 ; ll all take them to the fair.&quot ; And my rules about taking them to the fair did earn them the right to go to the fair. That means, stay out of trouble. And my rules when I got to the fair was rather swift. I said, &quot ; I&#039 ; m going to leave you here. You can walk around these student nurses. That&#039 ; s not a problem.&quot ; What I didn&#039 ; t know [was] they would be inviting their spouses to the fairground and meeting them on the side. Remember, they were confined to the hospital. And I said, &quot ; But be back here at four o&#039 ; clock cause that&#039 ; s when the bus leaves.&quot ; And they all come back, except maybe one. I stopped everybody. The bus didn&#039 ; t go anywhere until we get this one person who is missing. He had run away. And they found him and got on the bus, came back and I said, &quot ; Anybody else that does that again, you&#039 ; ll never have a chance to go to the fair again.&quot ; So put that under control. I was busy teaching student nurses how to deal with patients who were-- had mental problems. And my first-- I was working in occupational therapy, so the skills that I had when I went to work, which in a hospital, only got enhanced. I learned a lot of the things like arts and crafts and I knew how to interview. I was interviewing and my patients were beginning to leave the hospital earlier because I must have an impact on their lives in some way. And I remember being in the hallway one time and a patient grabbed me by the neck, choking me and I said, &quot ; You want to hurt me? Go ahead. You&#039 ; re going to be sorry.&quot ; He started crying. And he backed off. And I became kind of a hero because I didn&#039 ; t need other attendants to come in and help me out. They&#039 ; d come there and said, &quot ; Need help? I said, &quot ; No, no, no. I don&#039 ; t need any help. Don&#039 ; t worry. I got it under control.&quot ; And I did. In fact, when he finally left the hospital, he came over to see me one day. I was in my office and he was crying. I said, &quot ; What&#039 ; s the matter?&quot ; He said, &quot ; You helped me get out of here.&quot ; I said, &quot ; Well, it&#039 ; s my pleasure. You helped yourself get out of here. I only helped you to learn to behave and interact better with people than the way you were. You were busy beating up your wife and all that stuff, and you stopped.&quot ; So he went home and to that date, almost, yeah, early on, I did not hear from him. And his name was [REDACTED] as I remember as a patient. He would come to visit me. I was doing very well with all the patients who were severely, mentally prob-- mental problems and I was very effective with them. And I had a young kid. I remember his name was, 17 years old, his name was [REDACTED]. He would fall down to get attention and I would kind of ignore him. Then I said, &quot ; Whoa, get your life together. Maybe you&#039 ; ll get out here one day.&quot ; I was allowed to bring him to my house on occasion. My first wife liked him. He was a nice guy. But he was-- he had cerebral palsy. He was just fall down to get attention and maybe he was trying to stab himself one day and I said &quot ; If you want to hurt yourself, that&#039 ; s your problem.&quot ; And he had never been dealt that way before. And so he stopped and I had good control over him. I remember so well, I would-- I could drive him in my car and go through town and he&#039 ; d be yelling and screaming. &quot ; Look at the pretty girl!&quot ; and I&#039 ; d say &quot ; OK.&quot ; He was in Allentown. I was working at Allentown State Mental Institution, and I&#039 ; d take him out. We&#039 ; d have lunch. So I was being very effective as a human resources person and working very well. I was a psychology major at that point. And then I changed my major to education. And I&#039 ; m trying to think of the name of the education person, he was a male. And there&#039 ; s two or three people in the education department at Muhlenberg-- there&#039 ; s a woman. So I started taking education and I had learned a lot about how to relate well with people. And I taught the class, by the way, how to play, play bongos. I was also a musician. I also played in my high school band. Wouldn&#039 ; t believe! I played all the brass winds. When I came to Muhlenberg, there was a fellow named Burt, Alburtis Meyers, I think his name was. He was one of the last dozen members of Philips Sousa Band and only enhanced my musical skill because he was wonderful. Nice guy, Alburtis Meyers. And I joined the orchestra. I was in the marching band and I played all the brass winds cause I would be asked every year, which you going to play this year? I said, &quot ; What&#039 ; s your need?&quot ; He said, &quot ; Well, we need a baritone player.&quot ; So I learned how to play baritone. And we need a trombone player. I learned how to play the trombone. So whatever he needed in music to make his band complete, I learned how to play the instrument. So I played all the brass winds, trumpet, trombone, French horn, tuba, sousaphone, double leaf and sousaphone. I played all the things that needed [unclear] to play. So, he became one of my best friends. And he&#039 ; s in my yearbook, I know that. So I-- I had musically well-trained. And then I decided that, gee, I&#039 ; m doing well musically. And then all the fraternity parties that I was invited to because all the fraternity boys were all white males. And I was being pursued by a group called TKE when I was in college, but there were no Blacks in TKE, and I don&#039 ; t know for some reason I didn&#039 ; t know, somebody must be saying we don&#039 ; t have any Blacks in our fraternity. So I was rejected. And that&#039 ; s OK. So I managed that, I&#039 ; ve gotten used to rejections. So I manage that and became good friends with a lot of the TKE brothers, good friends in fact. And they knew me well, I had a little band that played at one of the fraternity&#039 ; s parties. I want to think it was Lambda Chi I think. Does this sound like a school that there are across the street from the college? It was Lambda Chi, which was a Jewish fraternity around the corner. But I was making pretty good money playing at the fraternity parties. Yeah, I was doing OK. I gambled a lot of that, shoot pool. And I learned to shoot pool very well in Richmond, Virginia. Because I was shooting with older guys. And they were all good. And I learned about a guy called Willie Mosconi. And I said I&#039 ; m gonna be Willie Mosconi! And I think he was played by, I want to say Paul Newman plays his role in the movie. &quot ; Hood&quot ; was the name of the movie, as I recall. So I had become quite well known and was doing well and I took my musical background into a club on Hamilton Street. &quot ; Forty-Four&quot ; was the club. And so on weekends, I played the club on the weekends and make a little money there. It was great. I was doing very well in Allentown and my second daughter was doing well, my first daughter was doing well. And then my dear daughter came, who is the fun in my family, her name is Erica. Erica is now 51 and Dacia is I think is probably 57, 58, she&#039 ; ll be this year as I recall. And she comes to visit me often these days. She comes to Midlothian and spend a few days with me. She&#039 ; s been talking, got to know each other better and she&#039 ; s the love of my life. She&#039 ; s my first kid. My family loved her. I used to take my three kids down to Virginia to meet my mother. My mother loved them and I loved, I adored them. And I started to get my life together a little more and I continued to do very well at IBM, things were working very well at IBM. Everything I touched had start to turn to gold and I said this is wonderful. And then I began to move up as a high performance person, doing well on a fast track and promotion starts come one after the other. And this was a great thing. They were all managerial jobs, but low level managers. And I went to one of IBM subsidiary, subsidiaries called Scope Science and Research Associates. And that was in Chicago, that was the first time I had really moved. They said if you&#039 ; re being more mobile, you can go even further. So I moved to Chicago and my family went along with me. They loved Chicago. My youngest daughter, who was kind of a, well, at 12, she was a pre-Olympic swimmer. That was Erica. My first wife put her in the swimming pool and all of a sudden, she was starting to be recruited as a 12 year old. And oh I liked this kid, she&#039 ; s really great and then she says, &quot ; Hey mom I don&#039 ; t think I want to swim anymore.&quot ; And Mom got very angry with me-- &quot ; Do you realize she wants to get out of swimming?&quot ; I said, &quot ; That&#039 ; s what she wants, let her do what she needs to do.&quot ; I remember building a go-kart for her because that&#039 ; s really what she wanted to do. I&#039 ; ve been talking a lot. Feel free to interrupt if you&#039 ; d like, okay. But, yeah, she became a good swimmer and I became very good at going to swim meets to the point that my first wife would buy T-shirts-- Erica&#039 ; s mom. She bought me a T-shirt that said America&#039 ; s Dad. And I could come a little late and my kid would be looking for me in the audience in the pool. And she&#039 ; d see me and I had said how come you&#039 ; re running behind this girl. She said, &quot ; Don&#039 ; t worry, Dad, I&#039 ; ll take care of her.&quot ; And she sure was, she could take care of her. She was a good swimmer. But she never made the Olympics because she stopped swimming. And she was by that time-- my oldest daughter Dacia had decided that she was graduating. And I moved from Chicago to California. And my oldest daughter was graduating from high school in California. I think it was Live Oak-- is that right Dacia? Live Oak High School you went to. And she went to Live Oak High School and she became a flag bearer. Is that correct Dacia? And I saw it and she became one of my favorites then all of a sudden. And she ended up going to the Virginia State in Petersburg. And I said, &quot ; Why do you want to go over to Virginia State?&quot ; I said, &quot ; You got to go to Muhlenberg!&quot ; And she says, I had been-- my whole life has been around whites. That&#039 ; s all she ever did. All of the school she went to, she was the only Black in most of the school. All three of my kids were-- all went to white schools, elementary, junior high and Dacia graduated from Live Oak. Then she went to Virginia State. And that&#039 ; s when she found about HBCU-- historically Black colleges. And she loved it, she did well. And I&#039 ; d go to visit them. [To Dacia] And your sister went to Virginia State also. Do you have a question for me, I know I&#039 ; m talking away here. HP: Besides band, what other social and extracurricular activities where you&#039 ; re part of at Muhlenberg? BHD: Well, I hadn&#039 ; t-- I wasn&#039 ; t a part of any of that the first year because I was worrying about not flunking out. And pretty soon I had joined, if you&#039 ; d look at my yearbook-- I suddenly became pretty popular at Muhlenberg because I joined everything, the Jazz Society. I couldn&#039 ; t go to the fraternity cause I knew they weren&#039 ; t accepting minorities in fraternities. I-- God, what else? I worked on the editorial staff in the yearbook for &#039 ; 61, there&#039 ; s a cover I designed. Artistically, I was pretty good. I could draw very well. And so I started to make posters. I remember the play that I wrote the poster for-- it was &quot ; Waiting for Godot.&quot ; And it was kind of an avant garde kind of picture. And I wrote pictures, and it was a perfect thing for me to be on the editorial staff. So I would help to design the yearbook. And if you look at the yearbook on my page, there were a lot of activities. I ran track, I ran cross country. I became broader in the things I would do. Never a star, but competitive. I did a lot of intramural sports. I wasn&#039 ; t as good with sports as Clint Jeffries was but I played with him a lot. And we&#039 ; d need him to come back. I think he finished. I don&#039 ; t know when, but I saw him at one reunion, I hadn&#039 ; t seen him in awhile. And we talked for a while about our old days and when we used to run around. I ran in Penn Relays Cross Country. So I was very active socially to get involved with a lot of things. And Jazz Society, WMUH was the radio program I was on it for a while and a show called &quot ; Two of a Kind.&quot ; I would take some music and have them played by many well-known artists at that time. And I was-- I did that pretty well. They liked the show, I know that because I got a lot of feedback. And when I came back for a reunion one time, one of my best friends was a guy named Jerry. I met him and he was living in Denver at the time. And we talked about what he&#039 ; s doing and he was back selling music. Good bass player. We spent a lot of time. So I saw all my underclassmen at that time and by that time I had gotten a degree, I had graduated. My mom was happy as she could be. She came to my graduation, brought her sisters and her children to my graduation and she loved my family. I was lucky to be so well-loved by my family, particularly my mother, who was a great godsend. I learned a lot from her-- I learned to cook, sew, iron. She taught me all that stuff. I became a good cook. Is that right, Dacia? Anything else I can do for you? SB: I guess, bringing us to contemporary times, is there anything that you would do differently if you could start over at Muhlenberg? Is there anything you would have done differently or what ways did your experience at Muhlenberg impact the trajectory of your life? BHD: Yeah, I would be a better student. I would have been a little further ahead if I had done well at Muhlenberg. But, I was fighting to stay alive at Muhlenberg. And just stay well adjusted. But everything I learned at Muhlenberg, those skills kind of carried over for me, okay. I am now 83 and I&#039 ; m not working and I am now retired from IBM after being there for instead of six weeks, I was there for almost 25 years. I retired in nineteen-eighty-eight. And immediately, got referred to another company where I went to work. And those skills I had ganged up, worked out very well. I became the corporate director of the place called National Micronetics for a computer company. Me, who didn&#039 ; t even know about computers, became one of the corporate directors at National Micronetics. And I met other people there and learned a lot of things. And my skills seemed just fitting at the right place at the right time. And they worked that very well. I was there for about five years and I opened my own consultant practice at that point. I have-- I was working full time with IBM. I was working part time as a consultant for National Micronetics and I began to travel. I think all of that is a result of a lot of good referrals. I&#039 ; ve performed well. Every place I had, I performed very well. All of a sudden recruiting was no longer my forte. It became morale building. And the place I went to-- National Micronetics was in deep morale troubles. So I stayed there for a while. And I retired. SB: Earlier, you just mentioned that you tried to stay alive at Muhlenberg. What do you mean by trying to stay alive at Muhlenberg? BHD: Well, I wanted to stay because I had to please-- particularly please my mother and let her know she had a nice son who was doing well. And I made her very proud of me. I was happy about that. So I think just knowing that I was a survivor was real. Plus since I graduated. And that&#039 ; s interesting because, oh, a few weeks ago I got a call from a guy named Doug MacGregor [MacGeorge]. We would read in the same class. I thought we were in the same class. He graduated in &#039 ; 61. I stayed the extra semester and I graduated in &#039 ; 62 and he invited me back to the fiftieth year reunion, as I recall. And I was in, the only Black student in the crowd. There&#039 ; s a picture in my book-- I got a graduation picture I had. And there&#039 ; s a picture of me and I&#039 ; m easily identified because I was the only Black student in that class. So he called and invited me back to this year&#039 ; s reunion. And I told him I probably wouldn&#039 ; t make it because I had just moved here. So we talked for a while. He&#039 ; s the one who let me know about that Clint Jeffries had passed. And Clint was living in Philadelphia. Clint and I continued to stay in contact. So I called him and he&#039 ; d gotten married. But Doug MacGregor [MacGeorge] told me basically that Clint had passed and that hurt because I missed him. So beyond that, Muhlenberg was a good experience for me in terms of help me grow and develop and learn to get along well with people in a very tough time and during the segregation. It was scary. I had my troubles, but I managed to hang in there and stick to it. I could stay in despite some things were not always going well and I did graduate, by the way. That was a huge reward from my mother. Here&#039 ; s a reward for me, personally, and on account of the last living person in my family, I find I got a lot of family because I think we met-- I met one of my distant cousins who happened to be my mother&#039 ; s sister. So it&#039 ; s been a good life either way. So that&#039 ; s all I really tell you. So I&#039 ; m talking away. So interrupt when you feel like it. HP: So what do you want to see-- like, what would you like to see for future students of color at Muhlenberg? BHD: Well, you&#039 ; ve done well, I got to tell you that. Well now there&#039 ; s a Black-- is it a fraternity, a social group on campus. One of the things I saw. I&#039 ; m trying to think. I went there and I was most impressed that you had a Queen at homecoming or something who was Black. I met a lot of those students at that place. I&#039 ; m pleased with Muhlenberg in terms of how well they&#039 ; ve changed their way of living. I&#039 ; m pleased with all the people I&#039 ; ve ever met and I-- I know follow me. There were a couple of people when we got him-- Al Downing, who was a pitcher for the Yankees. He was in my junior year. He came, I guess, and a guy named Hazleton, another basketball player. So I am very proud of-- proud to be a Mule, okay. And I came back to, I think, my finally-- my fiftieth year reunion and I met a lot of people and they all have kids now and students who are now students at Muhlenberg. And I moved around in Poughkeepsie. I taught school at Marist College-- there&#039 ; s a Marist isn&#039 ; t, yes, on Route 9. I taught school there for a couple of years in human resources. And that worked out very well and then I started moving around a lot. And getting remarried. My first wife, Dacia&#039 ; s mother died not too long ago. That worked out very well so-- not that she died, I missed her a lot and I remarried. I married at that time a lawyer who&#039 ; s from California who happened to be one of my high school sweethearts. And we&#039 ; ve been married for 20 years and she now lives in Mexico. So interesting life it for me was, we get along very well didn&#039 ; t we. SB: Oh, I just-- I was just hoping that you would be able to talk a little bit more about being the first coed class and a little bit about just how it makes you feel like are you proud to be in the first coed class at Muhlenberg? BHD: I was proud of being one of the first Blacks at Muhlenberg! I wasn&#039 ; t the first one because I know there are a couple of us, but I was proud to be one of the first Blacks and surviving all of that. I mentioned Gordonfred-- which he had transferred from I want to think Franklin and Marshall something-- it was Lancaster. He came in to be my second roommate. And I think he&#039 ; s now a writer or something in places like Michigan or Wayne County or something. I talked to him often-- I haven&#039 ; t talked to him lately. But just the contacts that made in that twenty-five years had been wonderful because a lot of Muhlenberg adults. SUSAN FALCIANI MALDONADO: To follow up on that question a little bit. And Mr. West is somebody that we contacted too, so we hope that we can-- BHD: Tell him I say &quot ; hello to Gordon&quot ; again. SFM: I certainly will. But you mentioned-- I was going to ask you about Al Downing because I was just doing a little bit of research on him. But, you know, you mentioned that with Gordonfred, he became your roommate. BHD: Yep. SFM: Al Downing came in after you. BHD: Yep. SFM: Did you find-- and Clint Jeffries kind of took you under his wing a little bit. You tried to support each other. What was that like? BHD: Yeah. When Downing-- I was watching TV one night and found out he was a pitcher for the Yankees. That was a big influence. I said boy, he&#039 ; s doing real well. Then I didn&#039 ; t see many more. So, you know, just imaging people, just following people who followed me in there all doing well-- that was a major impact on my life. And that particularly, Clint. Clint and I spent a long time-- I lost track of him until I came to one reunion-- I think it was-- I saw him at one reunion. And that&#039 ; s because Doug MacGregor {MacGeorge] told me Clint&#039 ; s going to be there. And I came down basically to see Clint. He looked very nice when I saw him. And then when I heard that he had passed, that was crushing to me. SFM: So I am sorry about that. We didn&#039 ; t get a chance to talk to him and I wish that we had. BHD: Yeah you should have. SFM: Yeah. Does anybody else-- we at some point. Do you have anything else you&#039 ; d like to share? Or do others have other questions that they would like to ask? BHD: I&#039 ; ll answer questions. HP: Another question is, do you have any advice for students today at Muhlenberg? Either students of color or just regular students. BHD: Regular students, I think I would just come in and just enjoy the moment at Muhlenberg. Be a Mule, be a good Mule. Socially, I-- I just did, after much struggle to being from an all-Black community to an all-white community. Just go with the flow. Whatever happens, hang in there. Be strong. Do well. Enjoy the moment. But it was nice to walk around the campus. Man, has that place changed? I met you-- you have a Black dancing director. Something in your new building there. Cross the street next to you, ATO or something in that area. There&#039 ; s a big stadium dancing studio. I&#039 ; d like to see-- there&#039 ; s another lady I met in Allentown. I was in Allentown, by the way, for three years before I had known there was a Black barber in town. And I met-- I was in Hess Brothers, that&#039 ; s a department store downtown, and I saw a Black lady and I said, &quot ; Are there any Blacks in town?&quot ; And she said, &quot ; Oh, go down on Union Street.&quot ; And guess where I moved to Union Street for a short period of time. And my barber was a fellow named Clyde. And he looked to me and said, &quot ; What are you doing down here?&quot ; And I said, &quot ; I came down to get my haircut.&quot ; And we became good friends. And then I met other people in Allentown who were Black and I was an encouraging guy. And I&#039 ; d say &quot ; Try to get Muhlenberg.&quot ; The first lady who came here was Janet Merritt. She was the first Black lady I had seen here. And I think she was in night school or something. But I met her and her family and her brother Ed and her sister was Judy. So I learned to integrate myself with the Black community even more once I met those people. I think Janet [Janice Williams?] is now-- she went to work for the power company people, PP&amp ; G or something like that-- that&#039 ; s in Allentown. But I haven&#039 ; t seen her in forever because I lived in Allentown for a while before I joined IBM. Penn Street near the post office on Penn Street. That was a wonderful experience because that was an all-white community. And I used my skills to basically to change the community. They all began to take better properties, I took care of mine and they all began to copy things I did. So I was pleased that I had an influence on our whole neighborhood rather than just my house. And so they all began to do well. And I hadn&#039 ; t been there in a while. I mean, I haven&#039 ; t been to Allentown in quite awhile. I go back occasionally to the hospital. There are still people there that I used to know. And I went to Allentown State Psychiatric Center one time and there was a patient. They should call me the nickname, &quot ; OT Bill.&quot ; And the guy must&#039 ; ve been 80 years by that point. And he said &quot ; Are you OT?&quot ; &quot ; Yes, I&#039 ; m OT.&quot ; And I remembered his name. My reason-- he asked, &quot ; I knew you, yeah. You used to be my OT instructor.&quot ; He must be in his eighties, he&#039 ; s probably dead by now. But I saw him and that was-- I recruited at Muhlenberg, by the way, I hired a lot of students from Muhlenberg to IBM: Ron Delay, Carol Mack. And they&#039 ; re all doing very well at IBM. They&#039 ; re probably retired by now. But I remember Ron Delay very well. And Carol Mack, I remember very well. So they&#039 ; re names that I know were graduates from Muhlenberg. SFM: You know, I&#039 ; ve noticed in the &quot ; Muhlenberg Weekly,&quot ; when I look at the old papers at recruiting ads for IBM were all over in there. It might have been you. BHD: If I was in the&#039 ; 60s, early &#039 ; 70s, it would have been me. I used to do a lot of recruiting there. It was always good to go back to Muhlenberg, even if it was just a couple days to recruit. I&#039 ; d go back. I remember a fellow named Frouenfelker. Was he an admissions-- people I remember most like Haps Benfer. I know he&#039 ; s dead, but I meant-- interesting enough, when I first came to Muhlenberg, it was a 14 hour bus ride from Richmond, Virginia, to Allentown, I remember that. And I got there around midnight, finally, after the 14 hour bus ride with many stops. And I got a cab to Chew Street and I saw the admissions building and I knocked on the door-- it was midnight. And this guy comes out, very tall guy. That was Haps. He said, &quot ; Can I help you, young man?&quot ; I said, &quot ; Yeah, I&#039 ; m a student that&#039 ; s coming down here.&quot ; He said, &quot ; How come you&#039 ; re so late?&quot ; I said, &quot ; I came from Virginia.&quot ; He took me to the third floor. There was a pre-admission test I had to take for two days. And I took that. And that was an eye-opening experience. I said, &quot ; Oh I&#039 ; m not going to survive.&quot ; And-- but I survived. I hung in there. It took me four and a half years before I met the qualifications to graduate. And then, like colleges, that I had heard of before because I recruited a lot. I made up-- my freshman year I made the book, the alumni book. And I said, how come my name is in there? My address-- what else. Left Richmond, 2115 Rose Avenue. And I know another page, it talks about some of the activities that I was involved in and there were a lot. I was not a star athlete. I didn&#039 ; t go there to be a star athlete. Or be an academic whiz, but I wasn&#039 ; t that either. So it was quite an eye-opening experience. I did not pass the organic chemistry. Forget that career. SFM: Well, that is, as we tell-- you know, we hope students know today. I mean, it&#039 ; s time to experiment. You learn your strengths and you learn your weaknesses and you don&#039 ; t know where you&#039 ; re going to end up. BHD: You never know. You never know. Just hang in there and be patient. And I didn&#039 ; t know where I was gonna end up. When I saw P.F.P on my personnel folder, I said &quot ; What is that?&quot ; And one of my peers at IBM said, &quot ; That means pay for performance.&quot ; And I said, &quot ; That sounds good to me.&quot ; And I didn&#039 ; t know that was plans for progress and I made the progress. Nice to be-- nice to be a retiree. SFM: Well, we can&#039 ; t thank you enough for taking the time to share your memories. It means so much to us. BHD: I got a lot of memories! SFM: Definitely do! Copyright remains with the interview subject and their heirs. video The interviews collected as part of the project &quot ; The History of Diversity and Inclusion at Muhlenberg College&quot ; are hereby shared with the consent of the participants under Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0). Under this license, the interviewees have agreed for the interviews to be publicly available in the Trexler Library archives and as a freely available resource on the internet for educators, scholars, students, and others who wish to explore the many stories about Muhlenberg College’s path toward diversity and inclusion. 0

Files

BillDurham_SrPic_Ciarla1961_omeka.jpg


Citation

“William Durham, March 25, 2021,” Muhlenberg College Oral History Repository, accessed November 29, 2022, https://trexlerworks.muhlenberg.edu/mc_oralhistory/items/show/75.