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´╗┐DAVID WOLFORD: 2002. I am sitting here in Russellville with Mr. Howard Wren and Mr. Maurice "Buddy" Linton. I'm going to let these two gentlemen introduce themselves and then we'll get to the questions.

HOWARD WREN: Well, David, I'm Howard Wren. Born and raised here in Russellville. Born in 1934 and I went to school in Russellville. I went through, born and raised right down below what they call Knob City High School, it was the black school in Russellville. It was a high school. And ended up going to Western Kentucky University and ended up teaching at Russellville with some of the teachers that didn't particularly that I had, but you know. But they were great to me. Came back and teachers that taught me and I taught with them. And I thought it was wonderful. I started here in 1959. Stayed here, well, I retired 1:00in '90. But I took a little leave of absence I guess from Logan County and went to Daviess County for ten years. And came back in 1976 and coached, was a guidance counselor for twenty-five years and then I coached football. Coached, when we came back, we coached here. We were very successful. We had a lot of good football players and lot of good teams and had a lot of, lot of pride in our school. I retired from that and then became transportation director for six years. And then retired in 1990, well, 1995, from that.

DW: Okay. Mr. Linton.

MAURICE "BUDDY" LINTON: Yeah, call me Buddy.

DW: Okay.

LINTON: I was born here in Logan county about seven miles from Russellville. I 2:00went to school here in Russellville, uh, through the twelve grades. And I attended college at Western and part-time at UK. In '54, I went into the service, came out in '56. Finished up my education and started teaching here in Russellville in '61, I believe. And I have been in school here all my life until about the last seven or eight years since I retired.

DW: And what did you, in the later years of your career here in Russellville, besides teaching, what else did you do?

LINTON: I became principal of Stephenson Elementary in 1971. We opened up a new school there. Then in '75, I went to the central office and worked in three or four different capacities there as assistant superintendent.

DW: Okay. Let's start with just talking about Russellville and maybe a little 3:00bit of Logan county back before schools were ever integrated. And before the Supreme Court ever declared that segregation would be unconstitutional. So if you could, just kind of describe the community, either the black community and the white community or all together? What were some ways you could describe that?

WREN: David, I, you know, I think we had a lot of good black people that worked hard, that were hard workers. And the white people, the people in the community, worked with them. I can remember one time, Mr. Sam First, and he laid concrete, the sidewalks, a lot of the sidewalks here in Russellville. I remember that when I was just a little thing. And he would, he was all over town laying it and he 4:00had black people working for him and then eventually he got white people working for him too. And he was one of the, what they call, one of the black leaders here. We had Mr. Ashby, that a--Buddy, what was his name?--Mr. Ashby, James Ashby, a black fellow, that came up later. And he worked in the school system as a custodian and he was a leader in the black community. And we had some, had some good preachers that were leadership in the black and then the white preachers got together and they stayed together. And, of course, we were segregated. The churches were segregated. They had their First Baptist, black church. We had our First Baptist, white church. And, I just think, and I give a lot of credit to Mr. R.E. Stephenson, who was superintendent at that time of our school. He was a, he was a great leader. He was firm. And I think with him 5:00working with the board of education and with the black people teachers in Knob City when they integrated. And I think he, I give him a lot of credit for working that, for thinking of, the teachers at the time that I was here in '60 were kind of apprehensive at one time about it. And what they were apprehensive about, I think, was how the black and the white students were going to get along in their classes. And I think that was the only apprehension that I could see maybe the teachers had.

DW: It wasn't a, this concern of the teachers, I'm guessing, it wasn't a, was there any opposition by the teachers --

WREN: No.

DW: Or were they just concerned about the well being of their classes?

LINTON: It wasn't a resentment of the blacks coming into the system, I don't think. It was just a concern --

WREN: Right.

LINTON: About how the blacks and the whites would get along and things would disrupt the classroom and so forth.

DW: Do you a, do you remember any particular steps being taken to prepare for 6:00this? Or things that may have been done even, maybe, the first few years to ensure a harmony between the two races here in the schools?

LINTON: Like I say, the best recollection I have is that, like Howard said, the leaders, there were some leaders in the black community and the leaders in the white community pretty well communicated and got together and talked about things and what was going to happen. The best of my recollection is that we started integration here in our first grade and then integrated each class on up to that time. Now the high school may have been integrated all at one time. I can't remember just to tell you the truth. But I think that, that was good planning and I think it paid off.

DW: The gradual nature --

LINTON: Yes.

DW: Of the shift. You talk about the leaders, the white leaders and black 7:00leaders, getting together. Was this done formally or was this just kind of an ongoing discussion you are talking about here?

LINTON: Uh.

DW: You know were there actual meetings where discussions were --

LINTON: I wasn't a part of that. But I'm not sure exactly how it was done. Uhm. They probably were invited to the board meetings and, you know, discussed plans and tried, tried to communicate that way.

DW: Hm-hmm.

LINTON: But I wasn't a party to it. But I can remember, I know --

WREN: Robert Hill, Kirkpatrick, Bob Kirkpatrick, wasn't he still on the board of education?

LINTON: Yeah, Dr. Burn, Walter Burn.

WREN: Dr. Walter Burn, and there were some well, well respected people that, and they just a, they just worked together it looked like to the community. And the preachers, of course, the preachers, like I said, the preachers had a lot, I think, the black community preachers had a lot to do with it going, smoothing 8:00the transition over.

DW: What was the name of the all black school or schools here?

WREN: Knob City High School.

DW: And was that a high school or was that a K through twelve?

WREN: K through twelve.

DW: Okay, but you refer to it as high school.

WREN: Right. We called it, we just called it Knob City High.

LINTON: Or even Knob City.

DW: Is that just a neighborhood, Knob City, or is that just the name of that building?

WREN: That was the name of that building.

DW: Okay.

WREN: Because it was kind of up on a knoll. And knobs, we have knobs --

LINTON: Right behind it.

WREN: Right behind the knobs we have around Russellville.

DW: Describe the, if you can, describe Knob City School. You know either the physical building or just the nature of the way the school was run.

LINTON: It's a, it's a nice, it was a nice, it's not a bad building now. It's been refurbished a little bit. It's a nice brick building and I guess it has a hall, main hall that goes off on a T and it goes into the gym and then down each 9:00side, I guess there's a, two rooms on each side of the main hall. Is there, four rooms, four classrooms or maybe six?

WREN: Six, I believe there were.

LINTON: Probably six classrooms.

WREN: Six classrooms.

LINTON: And there's a kitchen on the back of the stage in the gym --

WREN: I can remember --

LINTON: And a right nice building.

WREN: I can remember the gym. They would let us come in and watch, watch them play basketball. They would play Pearl High out of Nashville. They'd play Hopkinsville --

LINTON: Addox.

WREN: Addox. They played Franklin Lincoln, the black schools around in this area, and they had their own and they'd let us come watch them, especially when they'd play Pearl High because there was a real big rivalry that come out of Nashville. And I remember watching those guys play. And I learned how to play basketball just watching them. We'd never seen jump, somebody jump and get up close to the rim. Of course, you couldn't dunk. But they'd just drop it in.

LINTON: We'd never saw anything like that.

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WREN: We'd go out there. And they'd let us come out on weekends a lot of time and we'd play with them in their gym.

DW: Just casually, not a--

WREN: Yeah, casually.

DW: Not a school event?

WREN: No. No.

DW: Okay.

WREN: We got to know them --

DW: What, it sounds like for its time, would you say, Knob City at the time was a nice facility for schooling regardless of the fact that it was for blacks?

LINTON: Yes, I would. I think they had a lot of pride in the school.

WREN: Oh, yeah.

LINTON: They had their principal, had their own principal.

WREN: Mr. Moxley. I think he was, he was either the principal or I think he might have been a professor. They called them profs, professors at that time. I remember them calling him professor.

LINTON: The high schools didn't play each other though did they? Russellville. Did they?

DW: No.

WREN: No. They never did play.

LINTON: At that time.

WREN: No, at that time, just like I said just --

LINTON: Well, Adairville, they did.

WREN: Pick-up games and then they'd let us come in there and play.

DW: What do you think the a, did the black community want to be integrated before the Supreme Court, you know before it became a national trend or were 11:00they content to just stay at that school, you think?

LINTON: I don't really know. I don't know.

WREN: The only thing I remember in 1960, there was a young girl. Ann Harvest was her name and she was going to school here at Russellville at the time. And she was talking about how it affected her and the big thing was, it kindly put a hardship on them because they felt like they had to dress, up their dress and dress, and they didn't have the money to buy the clothes. And we had to, you know, we talked about that a lot. I mean, just let them talk.

DW: In class?

WREN: Yeah. And she came to me. I remember that one time and said that was one of the hardest things to be integrated. Was trying to dress or trying to up your dress and everything.

DW: Okay, so after you all went off to college, where did you go? Where did you 12:00go to school?

LINTON: I went, I started at Western and went a year and a half, a couple of years and wasn't doing real good. So I went in the service in '54 and got out in '56. And thought I'd give it a try at Kentucky, went up there for a while. And then was on the verge of getting married, so I decided I better settle down and went back to Western and got my degree in teaching.

DW: And what year did you finish up?

LINTON: '60, 1960.

DW: Now did you, in your time at Western, either time or at UK, did you, did a, were there classes that were integrated? Were there blacks going to college there at all?

LINTON: I don't remember.

WREN: No, I don't think so.

DW: And you went, Mr. Wren, to what school?

WREN: I graduated, I went, started out at Murray State and transferred at mid-term. Mr. A.A. Diddle was coaching. And he was coaching baseball at that time.

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DW: Where?

WREN: At Western. He was coaching baseball and I transferred in. We had a, what you call a Kentucky-Tennessee semi-pro league and I played baseball. And he saw me. And his brother lived over here in Adairville, KY. And his brother put him on me. And he got talking to me and asked me if I'd come play baseball. So I transferred up to Western. That's the reason I went to Western and stayed there and got all my degrees there from Western.

DW: Do you recall, were there any blacks attending Western at that time?

WREN: No, I don't think so. Not in '57.

LINTON: You know I can't remember. I went to graduate school for so long. I know there were blacks in classes that I had, but I don't remember when, when it first started.

DW: Hm-hmm.

LINTON: Sure don't.

WREN: Yeah. We had some when I did my graduate work up there at Western, too.

DW: Back to the Knob City and Russellville School, Russellville High, you know you mentioned going and seeing ball games that you weren't really involved in. 14:00What other ways did students from the two different schools interact?

LINTON: I know, they usually had a good music program out there. And they would come up to our school occasionally and perform, choruses. Remember Leroy Townsend? What a good singer he was and a voice.

WREN: Oh yeah.

LINTON: They would put on an assembly program for us.

DW: So Knob City would come to Russellville High School to perform?

WREN: Right.

LINTON: Hm-hmm.

DW: And were they well received?

WREN AND LINTON: Oh, yeah, yeah.

WREN: The people enjoyed that. Of course, they really could sing and put on a good show. And they were good.

LINTON: Now, I don't recall, I don't recall, our ever going out there.

WREN: No.

LINTON: Do you?

WREN: I don't recall that either.

LINTON: Of course, we didn't think about, we didn't think about things like that 15:00or worry about them much.

WREN: No.

LINTON: You know?

DW: Well, explain.

LINTON: You just go along and you accept, you know, what's happening and what's, what's happened before and how things are.

WREN: People got along --

LINTON: You're just, you're not concerned.

WREN: Wanted to get along, concerned to get along. And, you know. Of course, a lot of the black people worked around in the city. You know, they cleaned houses, you know, and places like that for the elite group here. They were, they were pretty well mixed, you know.

LINTON: You know when we were in high school. We weren't thinking and worrying about things like that. I mean we probably should have been, but, to be honest, we were not. We were concerned about making the football team or --

WREN: Right.

LINTON: Or are you going to get a date, something like that.

DW: Hm-hmm.

LINTON: And you just accept the way things are.

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WREN: And they enjoyed their school, too. Really. I think they were concerned about integrating because they had their own school. And you could see how they would feel too if you look back at it. And some still feel the same way now.

LINTON: Well, there's some, like Tennessee State University, they are resented because they are losing their identity as far as being a black school. They're now getting out populated by whites. They miss kind of, some of what they had.

WREN: Right. Tennessee, Kentucky State's the same way. A lot of white --

DW: I think it's about fifty-fifty now.

WREN: Yeah, see.

DW: That's what I've heard. Yeah.

WREN: So you know they kind of feel like they've been, lost some things too. Their culture and the way they talk.

LINTON: And you know they've lost when Knob City was integrated into the Russellville system, they lost one or two leadership positions there. That were 17:00no longer available anymore. Because they didn't bring that position up here to our district. So that's happened in a lot of places, in a lot of ways.

DW: Yeah, what happened to the black teachers?

LINTON: They feel behind. They had to try to catch up again.

DW: What happened to the black teachers at Knob City when it closed? Knob City High?

LINTON: They moved into our district.

DW: Did all, did all of them keep a job?

LINTON: I think so.

WREN: Yeah.

DW: Yeah?

LINTON: As far as I know.

DW: Now you would probably know this. You know, maybe not the very first year, but by the second year you were there, Mr. Wren, what was the relationship between the black and white teachers on the staff at the newly integrated Russellville High School?

WREN: Well, most of those were in, in the elementary at that time.

DW: Most of those --

WREN: Blacks --

LINTON: Integrated.

WREN: Integrated into the elementary.

DW: The teachers, you're talking about?

WREN: Yeah, the teachers, yeah. Is that what your asking?

DW: Yeah.

WREN: And the teachers themselves and working with the black teachers? I think it was, I think it really was good.

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DW: Well, did black teachers, okay, when Knob City existed as a K through twelve, and at one point they brought the high school age students from Knob City over to Russellville. The teachers who would have taught the high school level, did they come with them?

WREN: I don't think they did really. I really don't. I don't think we had anybody in the high school ever, did we?

LINTON: Well, one. That came from Knob City? No, I can't remember.

WREN: That came from Knob City. We had a boy--

LINTON: You know, that's the way it seems to me like. Maybe we did integrate the high school. But of course, they might not have had but two, one high school teacher, two high school teachers. They only had forty-three kids.

DW: At the high school age?

LINTON: Yeah, right. And it could have been that they were holding up to retire or that they found something else, but I don't remember a black teacher in the high school at that time.

WREN: At that time. Now it did when--

LINTON: Of course, they're there now.

WREN: Franklin came over here as football coach. In '64. Isn't that right? '64. 19:00I can't, I can't remember. I've lost that, but I know we had a black coach at one time.

DW: On the coaching staff?

WREN: Hm-hmm.

DW: Speaking of coaching, we should talk a little bit about that too. You know what was the, what kind of relationship did the black and white players have under you, you know, Mr. Wren, when you were coaching?

WREN: They were good. I mean, you know, they were in with a common cause. And we had a, we always had some, a good head coach. That pretty well, asked each other to respect each other for what they were for what they, you know, respect the athlete. And I think as far as the blacks and the whites getting along as an athlete, it wasn't any, wasn't any, I didn't see any problem at all. Oh, you 20:00always have a little, somebody who wants to rough somebody around a little bit. You have that anyway, you know. But the, the majority of them would take care of that. The majority of your team if you had a good head coach and everything. This is--

LINTON: Well, he may want to hear about that.

DW: What's that?

WREN: This, a, I found this about Morganfield and about the, Russellville was going to go to play, I believe it was, it was right here. About Russellville Guard and they was getting ready to play. And the Guard had gone to Sturgis, some of the Guards and they were in the high school. It's in here about Russellville. Harold Hunter, the coach, was waiting on those guys and they felt like they would get back to start, to play that Friday night. They were in 21:00Sturgis. We were talking about the Sturgis.

DW: Serving on the Guard were seniors in high school, but old enough to be in the Guard?

WREN: Right. I got it here somewhere. Here it is here.

LINTON: Lost it?

WREN: Henderson County at Russellville. The National Guard was Russellville first team, but was expected to release them this afternoon. That's time enough to work out the kinks and to break loose big scoring. John Monroe for a 20-13 victory. Russellville beat Henderson County. And they let them come home, the National Guard, that night to play. That's the one right there that Russellville played. That was in '57.

DW: Hm.

LINTON: That was right in the middle of it then.

WREN: Right. That was right in the middle of all of it.

DW: What was the white community's reaction to when the Supreme Court ruled that there would be integration? You know what, if you could remember what was the general feeling, you know, that point when it became obvious it was eventually going to happen?

LINTON: What, when was this?

DW: In '54 is when the Supreme Court made the ruling, but in '56 was typical, 22:00that's when Russellville High School integrated and that's when a lot of Kentucky high schools started to integrate. But that time between was there any concern?

LINTON: You know I was in, I was in the service then.

WREN: Right. I was still in, still in college.

LINTON: And I don't know that I paid much attention to it.

DW: Did you hear much about it, when either one of you came home? I mean was there much discussion about this great change that was going to happen?

LINTON: Not enough that I recall, you know, much about it.

WREN: I think that's, what we were talking about earlier. The meetings that they had with the black and the white community. It just kindly kept it down, without blowing it out of proportion, you know. The media didn't get a hold of it really that much. And people, just like Buddy talked, you just accepted it, kindly accepted it. But that was law. That was going to be the law and you're going to have to--

LINTON: Well, I think--

WREN: It's always somebody.

LINTON: Most people in their heart knew it was right. It was the right thing to 23:00do. And, there wasn't much argument about it really.

WREN: Back then that was just the way that you accepted things a lot easier than people do now. Because, I think a lot of it is because of the media.

DW: Hm-hmm.

WREN: Now it's so often, you know. The cameras are here.

DW: Right. Well, is there any final comments you'd like to make about this situation or about race relations in Russellville over the years?

WREN: I had one guy, I talked to the other day, I was telling him you were coming down--

DW: And what was his name?

WREN: Joe, Jim Young will know it, Jim said he'd like for you to maybe talk to him. Joe--

LINTON: I'm trying to think of it.

WREN: He drives, he used to drive Dad Flowers. He drove a caterpillar and bulldozers and he went to school in Adairville that's when they was--

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LINTON: Let me think. Oh, I can't think of it right now.

WREN: Well, anyway, he told me the other day, when you was coming down here. He said, "I can remember about when we went integrated." About the teachers, he asked me the same question how was the, I told him we were appre-, kindly apprehensive about it. I think he took it wrong. I meant, you know--

DW: Concerned.

WREN: They were concerned about the black and the kids getting along in class, not the black students. He said, "Well, you know what a'', what was it he said? "We had different slang. They had different way that they talked, communicated different a lot. And what was it he said? He said, "Do you know what TCB is?' He said I asked the teacher there when we integrated. Well, I don't know what it means. He said, "Taking care of business." That was the thing that the blacks would always say, "You taking care of business?" And he said that was part of our slang. And he just brought that up. But he said I can remember that of our 25:00teachers. And he said, "They didn't know, the whites didn't realize what we were going through." And he gave that example. TCB, taking care of business.

DW: Just a miscommunication?

WREN: Right. And he said, "That's the we always in our community, in the black community, talked to, TCB, taking care of business when you are getting ready to do something." TCB. So he gave that example. Joe was, he's still around here now. He's retired. Jim Young can tell you.

DW: Okay.

LINTON: Jim can tell you some, pretty good stories.

WREN: Sure can. He can tell you some. He sure can.

LINTON: Not about integration, but about, mostly about characters around Adairville.

DW: Is that where he's from? Adairville?

WREN: Yeah, he's from Adairville. And they talk completely different from we here.

DW: Really?

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WREN: They are really Southern talkers. They, instead of Adairville, it's I'm from Dowville.

LINTON: Well, they tell me we talk Southern here.

WREN: Yeah, we're Southern here too.

DW: Less?

WREN: They have, a little bit something about them though. Lin Walker, you know Lin?

LINTON: Yeah.

WREN: He just, they just talk a little bit different. They on the river, Red River.

DW: Did you want to say anything finally there, Mr. Linton?

LINTON: No, I just, I think it's a, we owe a lot of credit, like Mr. Wren said, to Superintendent at the time and some of the black leaders that helped to pull this thing off in a good manner given it some good planning and so forth. And I think we can all be thankful for that.

WREN: Right.

DW: Okay, we'll wrap it up there.

END OF INTERVIEW

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