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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with I. Beverly Lake Sr., September 8, 1987. Interview C-0043. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Wake Forest in the early twentieth century

Lake describes Wake Forest's isolation from technological advancements during his early childhood. He fondly recalls the insularity of Wake Forest residents by pointing to local railroad's operation.

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Oral History Interview with I. Beverly Lake Sr., September 8, 1987. Interview C-0043. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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Well, I was born in Wake Forest, August 29, 1906. My father was Professor of Physics at Wake Forest College. So I grew up there under the shadow of the college. As to what it was like to grow up in the little town of Wake Forest, I guess I can just summarize it by just saying it was a wonderful privilege. Wake Forest in those days was a very remote, isolated, little country village centered around the great college. There were no paved streets, and there were, in those days, of course, no paved highways in the state of North Carolina. There was a dirt public road leading from Raleigh to Wake Forest and then on north through various and sundry detours to Richmond. But there were virtually no automobiles anywhere in 1906 and for several years thereafter. When I was growing up, as a child, the passage of an automobile along the road in front of the house was an event which called for all the children to run out and look at it. Now we don't even bother to look at a jet plane. [Laughter] But Wake Forest was, as I say, a very isolated, little town. The only practical way in or out was by the passenger trains of the Seaboard Railroad. Seaboard ran a train called the Shoofly which left Wake Forest, rather came through Wake Forest, from the north about ten o'clock in the morning. It arrived in Raleigh in say forty five minutes, and then it returned from Raleigh at six in the afternoon. So anyone who had business in Raleigh or wanted to go shopping in Raleigh would ride over and spend the day in the capital city and come home. There was also a train which arrived here from the south at twelve o'clock. Its companion train arrived going south at about three o'clock in the afternoon. There were two fast trains, as we called them, that did not stop at Wake Forest. If one wanted to go on to Richmond, Virginia, one had to take the local train, change in Henderson, and then board the fast train, and then go on to Richmond, Washington, or wherever, and, similarly, if one ever had to go south. There was also a train which would pass through Wake Forest about midnight. I never was on that train but the students used to use it. The students going and coming to and from Wake Forest had to use those trains, or, as many of them did, catch a ride on a freight train as they slowed down going through Wake Forest. They would then, to come back, catch a train, freight train, going north. Sometimes they had difficulty in getting off because the train was going too fast for them to get off. They would go on up the railroad about eight or ten miles where the train had to stop to take on water. Then they would alight and catch another train coming south. I use that to illustrate that Wake Forest was indeed an isolated. little village. The students would come to college in September, and with rare exceptions they would not go home until Christmas. Many did not go home then. The result of that isolation was that the students, when they came to Wake Forest--and we had in those days about 450 or 500 college students--would remain. The students became very well acquainted with and closely associated with the inhabitants of the village, not only the professors and their families, but the town people generally...