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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Robert W. (Bob) Scott, February 4, 1998. Interview C-0336-1. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Using political influence to secure a watermelon

Scott did not seek to profit from his father's political success, he explains, and his father would have disapproved of him doing so. He may have done so in a small way, however, when he secured a watermelon from the North Carolina governor's mansion honestly, rather than stealing one as his prankster friends expected.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Robert W. (Bob) Scott, February 4, 1998. Interview C-0336-1. 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.

Full Text of the Excerpt

But in contrast with many of your cohorts in, say, Duke or NC State, presumably because your father was in the public realm, your name was known by maybe more people than the names of some of your cohorts. Did the fact that your father was in public office, and in a sense your family had that history of public service, benefit you, or was it a hindrance in any way?
I really don't think it, either—I'm sincere in that. I've thought about that some in later years. He let me alone, and I didn't trade on his name or position. I think I would have been put in my place pretty quickly if I had tried to, particularly by those I ran with. One of the favorite little things that my roommate would do, and others who did know of this connection, they would get some guy who didn't know about that and they would get him—we'd be in the room, sitting around in the dorm room talking, and they might get off on politics or something, and they'd try to lead him into a trap, you know, because that guy would not know of my relationship. The story that is told about our stealing a watermelon from the governor's mansion involved a boy from Pennsylvania, who was killed in the Korean War. But he was one that didn't know, and we were sitting around the dorm one evening in the summer time. It was rather warm and so on and we were talking about how great it would be to have a good cold watermelon. Well, this guy—his first name was Cliff, can't think of his last name right now—he was one of the few that had a car. And so I said, "Well, fellows, I know where I can get a watermelon, if you all are willing to go with me." And I said, "I was downtown earlier today and I saw them unloading some watermelons at the governor's mansion." And I said, "If you all will take me down there, I'll see if I can't get one." Well, the other fellows knew immediately what was going on. But they didn't say anything. So they got Cliff to drive the car. And we made a big deal out of it, we drove it down, four or five of us, and we circled the mansion and waited until it got dark. Back then they did not have a wall around the mansion. And so I said, "OK, you pull up here in the driveway, and park over here in the shadows; I'm going in and getting one of those watermelons. They put them out there on the back porch." And so he did, he parked out there in the shadows, where the light wasn't shining, and I just went on in. I acted like I was slipping in, but I just went on in and told them I wanted one of those watermelons. And I did, but when I came out, I came out running. And I had told them to leave the door to the car open, and I came out running and I yelled, and I said, "Get going, they saw me." And I threw the watermelon in the back seat of the car. Well, it was like Keystone Cops—he took off, he got scared and he took off, and I wasn't in the car. And I started running next to him, and one of the other fellows says, "Wait, wait, you're leaving him." So he slammed on the brakes and I ran into the door of the car, nearly knocked myself out, and then hopped in and took off. And till the day he died, I guess, he thought he stole a watermelon from the governor's mansion. I never did tell him any different.