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Title: Oral History Interview with Isabella Cannon, Spring 1993. Interview G-0188. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Electronic Edition.
Author: Cannon, Isabella, interviewee
Interview conducted by Clark, Jim
Funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this interview.
Text encoded by Mike Millner
Sound recordings digitized by Steve Weiss Southern Folklife Collection
First edition, 2006
Size of electronic edition: 136 Kb
Publisher: The University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
2006.
© This work is the property of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It may be used freely by individuals for research, teaching and personal use as long as this statement of availability is included in the text.
The electronic edition is a part of the UNC-Chapel Hill digital library, Documenting the American South.
Languages used in the text: English
Revision history:
2006-00-00, Celine Noel and Wanda Gunther revised TEIHeader and created catalog record for the electronic edition.
2006-09-06, Mike Millner finished TEI-conformant encoding and final proofing.
Source(s):
Title of sound recording: Oral History Interview with Isabella Cannon, Spring 1993. Interview G-0188. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series G. Southern Women. Southern Oral History Program Collection (G-0188)
Author: Isabella Cannon
Title of transcript: Oral History Interview with Isabella Cannon, Spring 1993. Interview G-0188. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series G. Southern Women. Southern Oral History Program Collection (G-0188)
Author: Isabella Cannon
Description: 151 Mb
Description: 49 p.
Note: Interview conducted on Spring 1993, by Jim Clark; recorded in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Note: Transcribed by Linda Killen.
Note: Forms part of: Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Series G. Southern Women, Manuscripts Department, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Note: Original transcript on deposit at the Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
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Interview with Isabella Cannon, Spring 1993.
Interview G-0188. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Cannon, Isabella, interviewee


Interview Participants

    ISABELLA CANNON, interviewee
    JIM CLARK, interviewer

[TAPE 1, SIDE A]


Page 1
[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]
In this monologue, Isabella Cannon reflects on her experiences as the first woman mayor of Raleigh. Cannon is the sole speaker in this interview.
ISABELLA CANNON:
This is Isabella Cannon speaking and the time is the spring of 1993. I am participating in an Oral History Project which was authorized by the Raleigh Bicentennial Task Force. During the entire year of 1992, Raleigh's Two Hundredth Birthday was being celebrated with many exciting events. I am speaking from my home at 212 Brooks Avenue, Raleigh.
I would like to begin by giving you some background about myself, and then I want to speak primarily about Raleigh, the life of Raleigh and as it has impacted my life, and my life as it may have had some impact on the city of Raleigh.
First, I would like to point out my international background. I was born in Scotland and came to this country when I was twelve years of age. The trip here on a huge Cunard liner was the first of the many exciting adventures of my life. This was during World War I in 1916, and Britain was at war with Germany. Our British steamship was chased by a German submarine, and we had to learn lifeboat drills in case we were torpedoed. Happily, this did not occur.
Later in life, I had the privilege of living in Monrovia, Liberia, on the west coast of Africa. Again traveling there on a British freighter, leaving New York in a devastating storm, and learning that a Liberty ship had broken in half near us in the raging storm was quite an experience. Liberia is a child, perhaps I should say a step-child, of the United States. Their form of government is based on ours, with a Constitution and Congress like ours. Their flag is

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modeled on ours, with stripes but only one star. Their government is more like a benevolent dictatorship instead of a presidency. While I was there, President Tubman was able to set aside limitations on his term of office and continue as president until he died. This experience in government gave me a new perspective on forms of government.
My husband had been in government service for a number of years, being in charge of civilian Lend-Lease in India and China before being assigned to Liberia. At first I could not join him because of health conditions in Monrovia, the Capital. I was working in Washington, D.C., first with the Russian Lend-Lease, then with the French Lend-Lease, then with the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration. Life was primitive in Liberia. My husband had built a cement house with a palm thatch roof which brought snakes and rats overhead. No glass for windows, so we had shutters of wood when storms came. I made trips through the jungle, canoe trips on the river which almost ended in tragedy when our oars were swept away from the dugout canoe we were in. My life there is a whole interview in itself.
From Liberia, we were assigned to Baghdad. We were there for almost three years. When we first went to Baghdad, nobody knew where it was: Is it in Egypt? Is it in India? Where is it? Unfortunately, with the recent developments in 1991, '92, and '93, everyone knows that Baghdad is in Iraq, and the name of Saddam Hussein is linked with it. In spite of the intense heat there, I loved the Iraqi people and loved seeing the beginnings of our civilization at the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, and the biblical places of the Tigris and

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Euphrates Rivers.
Again, there was the experience of living in a different kind of government. The King had died, and his son, the young King, was too young to govern, so there was a regency and an autocratic form of government. Veiled women, camel trains, desert sands were part of my life. Much too early for me to analyze it, I had lived in the British form of government; therefore, my knowledge of government is in four different types, including the United States and our form of Democracy. Ours gives me a perspective on citizen involvement, helping me to know that the form of government which we have here is the best that has been developed in all the world, as well as the longest lasting. It has its flaws, but it is a fine form of government and one that all of us need to be more involved in. This is something that has dominated my life, that is, my belief in the American system of Democracy is deep, lasting, and one that I advocate constantly. Voter participation and citizen involvement are of primary importance to me.
Now let me talk about coming to Raleigh. When I first came here, I was so fortunate. It was really a wonderful beginning of my life in Raleigh. My husband and I had come here after living many years in Elon College, and I had put down deep roots there, so it was very difficult for me to leave Elon. My husband had gone through the Depression as business manager for the college. Later he began to work for the U.S. Government in the Works Progress Administration—the WPA. There he had done such an excellent job that they asked him to go into the new national youth work, the National Youth

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Administration, the NYA. This meant moving to Williamston, North Carolina, which I definitely did not want to do. I could not pull up roots easily. It was so traumatic to me that I ended up in the hospital in "Little" Washington, N.C., needing blood transfusions. My husband's blood matched mine, so he was the donor.
We were in Williamston only six months, when we were asked to come to Raleigh where he was to be head of the NYA work in five states. I was willing to leave Williamston, and I was excited about coming to Raleigh. I had been here on visits but never to live. I had the most wonderful beginning of my life here. We found an apartment that was a dream. It was in the first block of New Bern Avenue that now has a big government building there. It was right in the middle of that first block, right opposite Christ Church, an apartment with a family, Mr. and Mrs. Ernest Bain. The city's Bain Waterworks are named for him. He was a tall slender southern gentleman, cultured. Mrs. Bain was a small, very busy lady from Eastern North Carolina. Between the two of them and the proximity of Christ Church, and of the Capitol, my beginning knowledge of Raleigh was exciting. Our first floor apartment had high ceilings, bay windows, polished floors, beautiful furniture. The Bains were living upstairs. I think this was a result of the Depression because it is not the sort of thing that Mr. and Mrs. Bain normally would have done, renting part of their home. I walked each night up to the Capitol. I could take my dog for a walk there, go around and look at the monuments, read the inscriptions. I got to know the Capitol, the historic building and the grounds, intimately.
What a

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wonderful beginning for my life here in Raleigh.
On the other side of the Capitol, on Hillsborough Street about two blocks away, was the second thing that had a tremendous impact on my life here. Elon College was the college of the Christian denomination, which later became the Congregational Christian, and still later the United Church of Christ. This was a beautiful stone building that has now been replaced by a parking lot. I went there because I had been deeply involved with the denomination and had held many volunteer jobs with the women's organizations and with Sunday School, as well as local and statewide activities. Elon College Church was a moderately conservative church, neither right wing, nor liberal, just a moderate type of church. So now I come to this church in Raleigh, which I had heard about. All our denomination knew about this church, how unusual it was. It was a most tremendous experience to go into that group. The congregation was largely faculty members from N.C. State University. We were also the beginning, the nursery, for the Quakers and for the Unitarians. Neither group was large enough to establish its own church, though later they were able to become independent, and they had a real impact on us. The Open Forum that we had was led by Dean B.F. Brown, who was Dean of the School of Science and Business at N.C. State. Dean Brown was one of the most dynamic, most liberal minded people I have known in all my life. Small, feisty, intellectual, he prodded and pulled us. It was far from being the normal Sunday School group. It was a group that explored every aspect of life—political, humanitarian, economic. We were the earliest ones, insofar as I know, talking about

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integration in Raleigh. We were such an unusual church, and so visible, that newspapers and radio were always picking us up and commenting on us. Among the radio commentators who gave us a bad time, WRAL's famous commentator, now Senator Jesse Helms, really worked us over. We have tapes of some of his recordings. We were "eggheads," we were "communists," we were really dangerous people. This was my introduction to Raleigh, and it had an immense impact on my life. It opened my mind to what the church could do for people if they truly believed in social action. It was a time of great ferment in social action throughout the nation.
As a continuing thing in the church, not immediately but later, we began the famous Institute of Religion, which was started under the leadership of Dr. Allyn Robinson, who is being honored this week with the Frank Porter Graham Award by the American Civil Liberties Union. He came here, a young man, full of idealism, as well as full of practical applications of that idealism. One of his ideas was the Institute of Religion, which continued for twenty-five years. It brought together people from Virginia, from all over North Carolina, who came first for a dinner, followed by a series of classes, then a speaker. The dinner was a remarkable thing and one of the most difficult things for North Carolina and for Raleigh at that time. As Harry Golden had said, "You could have standup receptions with blacks and whites, but you didn't sit down together to eat." We had dinners, we sat down together, black and white. We lost some members because of that, but we attracted people from all over the city, all over the state. This was a real departure, a real leadership thing that we

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initiated. We had people come to speak like Eleanor Roosevelt. Allyn Robinson was a personal friend of hers, and he was able to bring her here. We brought Norman Thomas, and Martin Luther King, Jr., Hubert Humphrey, Ralph Buncheall distinguished national speakers. I was treasurer and also on the committee that helped to look for, search out these people that were so exciting to bring here. When Martin Luther King, Jr. came, we met at Needham Broughton High School Auditorium, and we had so many people that we had a spill-over meeting in the United Church. He was heavily guarded by police because there was so much anger and excitement about what we were doing. We were not deterred by that. We kept on with what we were doing.
In the meantime, my husband and I had moved. Mr. Bain became ill and they needed to move downstairs. So my husband and I bought a little house out at Mordecai, right in the little point between Mordecai and Courtland Drive. Once again, I began to get soaked in Raleigh's history because Mordecai House was nearby. Actually, I was quite frightened of it at first. Its grounds were overgrown, it was a scary place to walk by as I went down to the nearby shopping center. Later, I was on the Board of Mordecai and a docent, also I was instrumental in bringing the St. Mark's Chapel there when I was Mayor of Raleigh. The Chapel was in such a dreadful condition that I had a lot of opposition to the cost, but now that little Chapel is one of the beauty spots of Mordecai. Again, I began to get more of Raleigh's history such as the Bains and the Capitol had helped me understand.
Soon, a new dimension came into my life . . . the Raleigh Little Theater. I

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had fallen in love with the theater and drama when I was in high school and first discovered the fascination of acting. I had little opportunity except for the debating team, since my school had no drama activities, and what I could manage was in the summer when I was in town. When I came to Elon College, I immediately tried out for the debating team and was accepted. I loved that. I was always excited about getting up and defending my position, then arguing in the rebuttal. I managed, in spite of a double load of studies, to get into an occasional play or skit, and loved that, too. So, when I discovered the Raleigh Little Theater, it was like a dream come true. I love theater, the ambiance of it, the study of a character and helping to bring that person to life. I was in fourteen plays before I left Raleigh. My husband was completely supportive of me. He did something that was wonderful that men didn't often do in those days. We would get through supper, and I needed to hurry to rehearsal, so he would wash the dishes. This does not sound like much, but it was unusual. He did it because he was so supportive of what I was doing.
The theater had no place to meet, so we rented the third floor of Briggs Hardware for our workshops and rehearsals. If you have not been in there recently, go in and look at those high ceilings and figure how many steps it took to get up to the third floor. It was a real labor of love to get up to the third floor where we met. We even put on one-act plays up there. I soon became head of the workshop and put on one or two one-act plays, as many as I could, every month, always one, sometimes two.
Among the wonderful people that I met and who helped with our plays

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was the famous playwright, Ann Preston Bridges, whose play Coquette had played in New York and featured Helen Hayes as lead player. Ann was so supportive of me, and later, she proposed something which was totally impractical for us because we were suffering from the effects of the Depression. We were struggling financially. Ann felt very strongly that I had some of the qualities that were in Helen Hayes, and she wanted me to go to New York and get some professional training and try to get into theater. I believe it's the biggest compliment I've ever had. It was completely impossible for us, but it is a memory I cherish of her wanting me to do this. Ann would write plays for me to put on and one play that she wrote featured Sarah Vette Royster who is now still active in the Raleigh Little Theater.
Ann lived on Hillsborough Street in winter and in the summertime went to the mountains. She was able to do things for us in the theater that were professional. She was gentle, kind, guiding us in the way that we should go—to do good theater. We were still, however, operating from the workshop on the third floor of Briggs Hardware. By this time I was on the Board of the Raleigh Little Theater. In fact, I was Vice-President. I was doing so much for the theater and loving every minute of it. I was also loving the people I was meeting. Some of these names I'll mention will bring memories back to some of you. Jimmy Thiem, who died only a few years ago. He was Mr. Raleigh Little Theater himself. A wonderful person. Heath Long, the first President. Tall, imposing. Sam Leager, who is an attorney here in Raleigh. And Primrose McPherson that I want to mention especially. I had the lead part of Abby in a

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play called The Late Christopher Bean. Christopher Bean had been a portrait painter. I was Abby and in the play I had inherited a painting of me that he had done. Primrose McPherson did this painting of me, and I kept it for many years, but with my many moves across different parts of the world, I finally had to dispose of it. We rehearsed our productions on the third floor of Briggs Hardware. We made costumes and made scenery as best we could there; however, we had no place to give the plays. As a result, we gave them anywhere we could. Murphey School auditorium was one place, as was the old Hugh Morson School. We produced many of our plays there. Some of them were given at Needham Broughton, but increasingly we came to realize that we needed a building.
Here's where another marvelous theater person came in, Mrs. Cantey Sutton. She was our theater angel, really. She was the wife of the president of Carolina Power and Light Company. And Cantey still is highly honored at the theater. She guided us into a major undertaking, an effort to raise money to build a new building. The WPA, the Works Progress Administration, had monies for projects similar to this, but any of you who have worked with government regulations know the bureaucracy and paperwork. It was incredible. The WPA people were not really sold on this project, it wasn't quite as practical as they thought, just to build a theater. However, with many, many stops and starts, we finally got the outdoor amphitheater built, which is a beautiful amphitheater with good sound. I wish it could be used more than it is used now. Jimmy Thiem used to put on every weekend a delightful

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program of recorded music, and people could take their picnic baskets and sit there under the stars and listen to the music. It's not used very much, partly because of the uncertainty of our weather here.
Our building would start and then stop. The WPA would tell us "There's no more money." Cantey would go to Washington and beg. Okay, we would get it started again. Finally, we got the amphitheater built, and proposed they start on the building itself. Finally, we got the foundations done, and then they adamantly said, "No more money. We cannot get any more money." Here we were, stuck with an outdoor amphitheater and a foundation of a building, but still no place to put on a play. Again, Cantey Sutton came to the rescue. One thing Cantey did is really incredible when you think back on it: Norman Cordon, a native North Carolinian, was a member of the famous Metropolitan Opera Company, one of its stars. We put on a production of the opera Faust at Needham Broughton School, and he came and sang with us. He sang in his gorgeous costume, a Metropolitan Opera costume. He sang in German, and we sang in our homemade costumes and in English. I don't know why he ever agreed to do that, but it was really most unusual. I don't think it could ever happen again.
My interest in drama had to stop when I left Raleigh, and since I came back, I have not had the time. I've always had to earn a living or be so involved with other things. Recently, I've had two small parts, lovely things, at Meredith College. I was in the Dylan Thomas play, "Under Milk Wood," and also a small cameo part in The Crucible. I had the lead in the first play in the

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new building of the Raleigh Little Theater. This was one of the most exciting events in my life up to then. To be in that first play in the new building with a wonderful cast. I also had a small song and dance part in the fiftieth anniversary of the building. The Raleigh Little Theater really takes more time than I can give it now, so I've not been in any of the recent plays.
In the meantime, in my life here in Raleigh, I was involved with United Church activities. I made speeches to book clubs; anybody that wanted me to make a speech I was willing to do it. However, the time came when I needed to go to work. My husband and I were needing the money. I was using a lot of time and energy and decided that I really needed to go to work and earn some money to help with our expenses. Again, I was so lucky. The first job that I had it was with WRAL radio station when the offices were downtown on Salisbury Street. Fred Fletcher was manager. I got to know A.J. Fletcher, a tall, disciplined man, who was kind, but I didn't know him as well as I knew Fred. Also, Ray Reeves, the big, breezy, bouncy, announcer. Ray was wonderful, and he and I became real friends. In fact, one time while I was there and my birthday came along, Ray tricked me into coming into the broadcasting room, and he teased me about my birthday. He ended up as a birthday tribute playing Fats Waller's, "Your Feet's Too Big," which I thought was really inappropriate.
WRAL didn't pay me as much as I needed, so in my next job—again I was very fortunate—I went to work with the Superior Stone Company. I got to know these fine people, the Ragland family. I was lucky in so many ways in

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the things that I did. However, my husband's job had changed. He had gone up and up in his work with the WPA and then with his work with the NYA, the National Youth Administration. He was now head of five states around North Carolina. He was extremely busy and away from home a great deal. His work was so impressive they asked him if he would come to Washington and head up fiscal planning for the Lend-Lease Program, which was a worldwide program, establishing financial procedures and other procedures that had to be initiated. He was very hesitant to talk to me about it because he knew how difficult it had been for me to leave Elon. So he hesitated to talk to me about it until the deadline came, but I immediately said, "Yes, let's go."
Off we went to Washington. I'm a healthy individual, but I had had an operation and I was recovering from that, so my first few months in Washington were a time of exploring Washington. For about six months I did nothing but ride the buses, go to the museums, go to the historic places. I got to know Washington deeply, as well as I had known Raleigh. However, instead of sending my husband overseas, they stationed us in Washington for about a year; then finally, they sent him to India, and later to China. They would not let me go along because he was going into war zones, and wives could not go. I had to stay in the United States. My decision was to stay in Washington, and again I looked for jobs. The very specific thing that I decided was that I wanted a job I could not do in Raleigh. I was adamant I would not do anything that I could do in Raleigh. The first job I got was with the Russian Purchasing Commission. I hated it there. I hated their discipline. I was supposed to be

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doing work in statistics, but they asked me "Would I please help them do some typing, some emergency thing?" So I said, "All right. I'll do that for a week or so." At the end of the first two weeks they said, "We need you again for this typing." So I said, "Look, I'm not interested in a typing job." In fact, I was not being paid as a typist, but as a statistician. I said, "Ok, I will do it, but this is the last time." When I went in at the end of the following two weeks, they started to say, "Now we need you again in typing." I said, "I'm leaving. I'm not working as a typist when I'm supposed to be doing statistical work."
However, I still know some of the Russian words that I learned there. It was a fascinating glimpse of the life of the Russians in Washington.
Again, I had been so fortunate in where I found a place to live. I was living with a French couple, Mom and Pop DeVarney. He was a short, sturdy, vigorous, Frenchman who spoke French. Mom DeVarney, whom he had met and married in New York, had been a former chorus girl. In her late fifties, she still could hold her hand straight out, shoulder high, and do a chorus girl kick, touching her hand to her toes and kick shoulder high. She was the first woman I ever knew who got up in the morning and put on her makeup. She smoked cigarettes, and I had never known, personally, a women who smoked. But Mom loved me, and she was so good to me. I had only a room, but I'd come downstairs in the morning and she would say, "Wouldn't you like some coffee?" and we would sit and visit, drinking her strong French coffee. I'd meet my husband at night, and we'd go somewhere to dinner. We explored all the glamorous places in Washington that we could afford, and if we couldn't

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afford to eat there, we'd have a drink or a cup of coffee.
They finally sent him overseas to India. I was going to be in Washington alone. Mom DeVarney fixed up a little apartment for me in the basement of her house. I went to work for the Russian Supply Mission nearby, but I stayed with them only a few weeks as they also wanted me to do typing when I was employed as a statistician. The exposure to their culture was significant for my later understanding of the country. I moved then to the French Purchasing Commission where I became head of their Statistical Department. Meanwhile, my husband had been moved to Shanghai where he was in charge of Lend-Lease for both India and China. Months later he found that the head of his work was transferring to Washington and would work with the United Nations. He suggested I contact Mr. Ray, which I did, and while he couldn't send me to China as we had hoped, I worked with the United Nations Rehabilitation and Relief Agency for several years. It was a fascinating job with contacts all over the world and a high degree of responsibility.
Ultimately a job opened up that would have let me go to China with the United Nations, but at this point, the Government moved my husband from China to the West Coast of Africa, to Liberia. So I dropped my efforts to go to China, which was a mistake, as they would not let me go to Liberia. They would not let any wives go there because there had been so many deaths of Americans, and health conditions were so bad. Finally, one wife made her way there, so I decided I, too, could go. Again, the adventures of getting there and living in Liberia are things I would like to tell but would take far too much time

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now.
Later, we moved to Baghdad and lived there for years. His health deteriorated until he was very, very ill. We finally came back to the United States where he was terminated. I was in my late forties, he was in his late fifties. We came back to the United States, to North Carolina. We bought a house here in Laurel Hills, but he died within six months. I was left without any pension, without any social security, and desperately needed a job. I started looking for work. It was very hard to find a job, because the first thing a job application asks is, "What is your work record for the last five years?" I had been overseas for years, and it is looked on with disfavor for wives of high ranking officials to take jobs that might be thought of as taking away from local people. This made it difficult for me to find a job. The first job I got here was part-time—again, a lucky circumstance—with Ruth Johnson at the State Book Shop on Salisbury Street. She was a great person to work for. However, it was part-time and I needed more money. I was lucky again. I found a job at NC State University at the D.H. Hill Library. I had to fudge a bit on what I could do. I took a secretarial test knowing that I probably wouldn't pass it, but I squeaked through, and I got the job at a very low level. However, it was a job, and it paid enough for me to manage on. I didn't stay in the actual work there; the position didn't change but my work changed.
The thing that I am quite good at is statistics. When I was in Washington with the French Purchasing Commission in the statistics department, the headof my department was a woman called Priscilla Alden,

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who was a direct descendent of the real Priscilla Alden. Priscilla was very crippled with polio. She became ill, and I was promoted to the head of that department and stayed with that until I went with the United Nations job. My work at the N.C. State library soon developed into a much higher level than the work I was supposed to be filling. I ended up handling budgets, in particular federal budget records, and I also became the screening office for new positions, both professional and non-professional. I worked there for fifteen years. In the meantime, I had bought the house where I am now, the house on Brooks Avenue, which is very important in the further development of my life. I was just two blocks away from the University, and could walk to work. In addition, I was in the midst of all the changes that were happening at the University. Before, I go into that, let me wind up what I was doing at the library. My father had died, and my mother was very ill. They lived in Concord, North Carolina, and I was under great stress going backwards and forwards trying to take care of them. So I finally decided that I would retire before the library was ready for me to go. I probably should have held on because my mother died within three months.
However, I had already retired. In the meantime, I had become more and more involved in the social activities of my church. Also, I had become involved in political action. I went through the real learning process of political activity, from literature drops at residences, to telephoning for candidates. I went through the ranks of precinct officers. I was Precinct Chair for several years and am still a precinct officer, although I had to drop out when I became

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an elected official. In addition, I have been Chair of the Citizens Advisory Council for the Wade Community, an advocacy position for the area to City Council. I resigned all these when I ran for office but have since been deeply involved. I continue to be a delegate to party conventions and to be active in political campaigns.
About that time, Jim Hunt started his first campaign for Lieutenant Governor, and I was really caught up in his mixture of patriotism and idealism that I felt he brought to the political scene. I worked two days a week as a volunteer for him, doing ordinary jobs like stuffing envelopes and telephoning, ordinary jobs I didn't care much about but that are necessary. However, the excitement of being in Headquarters, being part of all the campaigning and learning the importance of voters, voter registration . . . all the activity that is so important in the political realm was challenging and exciting and had a deep impact on me.
Gradually, I became increasingly angry, not only at NC State University, but at the City. Let me talk about the City first. City elections are held citywide but at that time were held without any district representation. There were eight men on the City Council, no women, of course. They inevitably lived near this area where we are now, Cameron Village, Five Points, all from throughout that area. The eight men represented this part of city, with no representation from the rest of the city. At one famous meeting where the eight of them came together, they decided then and there who would be mayor. It was not the top vote getter which the voters would have expected. One of the men on

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the council was Mike Boyd, a controversial person, really a rebel in every way. Sometimes he was so brassy and pushy that he aggravated people. But he saw something needed to be done, that we needed voter representation throughout the whole city, not just West Raleigh. He initiated and succeeded in getting a referendum by the voters to change the government of the city into what we have now: five districts with two at-large members, and the mayor, also elected citywide. Of course it angered many people. I saw the value of it, and in fact my position then and now is that the system as a whole works against the average citizen. If you go down to City Hall for a zoning change, the people who make a lot of money have hired lawyers and landscape architects who are being paid to sit there. Meanwhile, ordinary citizens take time off from their jobs, take time away from their private lives at great sacrifice, especially if the meetings are postponed or changed or repeated. The people who are hired are still sitting at hearings making money, and, in the end, really have the advantage over ordinary citizens. So I was a strong supporter of what Mike Boyd was doing. I was also involved in what had developed in the City of Raleigh, the Citizens Advisory Councils. This was not something the city wanted to start, rather it was mandated by the Federal Government in the Revenue Sharing Act, that citizens had to be fairly represented in city government. I was very active in the area where I live now, the Wade Citizens Advisory Council. I was Vice-Chair, and then became Chair, and was constantly down at City Hall on community matters. The Citizens Advisory Councils were concerned with citizen representation, and I learned

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more about zoning and intricacies of city government than I had ever dreamed there was. It was a learning experience. I am extremely articulate, and I was constantly speaking at City Hall and became pretty well known. I became more and more aggravated at the City Council. There are eight members, and frequently there was a deadlock, four and four on zoning votes. Aggravated by the then Mayor, Jyles Coggins, who was critical not only of the citizens but of his own council members. Derogatory remarks to citizens and elected officials alike angered me. In fact, the first time when I went down as chair of the CAC, and I don't know if this would anger everybody, but it certainly angered me, I got up and introduced myself as Isabella Cannon, the Chair of Wade CAC. Mr. Coggins looked at me and said, "Well you're the new chair." I said, "Yes, Mr. Mayor." And he said, "Well, you're better looking than the man that preceded you." I thought that was a big put down, and I wondered what that had to do with the zoning case I was there to talk about.
Finally, I decided I was going to run for a seat on the City Council. [text missing]The night before the deadline to file for office, I had a call from Betty Ann Knudsen who was a tremendous organizer and had real political power. She said, "Isabella, have you thought about running for Mayor?" No, I had not thought about that, but I was excited about her asking. At that moment the doorbell rang, and it was a young man there saying, "Can I take you out to Betty Ann's and let you talk to her?" I said "Yes." She had pulled together a group, including Mike Boyd, a group of community leaders, and we sat there and talked till midnight about me running for Mayor. I was unknown to the biggest

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segment of the population, certainly to the wealthy segment, and to the big business and developers. I was known to ordinary people. I had no money, I had no organization, but I said, "Ok, let's go for it. I threw myself into it, fully expecting to win. I was always surprised when someone would say to me, "Aren't you surprised that you won?" I replied, "I went in there to win—I didn't go in to lose." The next morning after the meeting at Betty Ann's, Mike Boyd took me in his big elegant automobile to all the radio stations, newspapers and TV stations with a statement that I was a candidate for Mayor. It was my opening statement that kicked off my campaign to the complete surprise of all the politicians in Raleigh.
My campaign was the most fun, the most exciting campaign that anyone ever ran. It started out with my newspaper boy bringing me one dollar. I wish I had kept that dollar, but that's the sort of support I had—$10 here, $25 here, a very, very, rare $100 that I received as a contribution. Volunteers came from everywhere. My campaign manager, Earle Beasley, who was actually a professional, came willing to help me. I would go to the grocery store and come home with my handbag full of little slips of paper with names of people saying, "I want to help." The telephone would ring, "We want to help." It was a people's movement and was exciting. I made speeches all over, anywhere. I was going from eight o'clock in the morning to midnight making speeches. I went anywhere and everywhere, and I had fun doing it. Earle was taking care of the mechanics of it. My first shock, however, was when he came to me and said "Isabella, I need $3,000." It hadn't occurred to me that I was going to

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have to pay for the privilege of running for Mayor, and that I had to find money to do so. Of course the reality soon came home to me. I ran as "The little old lady in tennis shoes" for a special reason. I live near NC State University and near Fred Olds School. At that time, it was the most derogatory thing you could say about anybody, "Oh, she dresses like a little old lady in tennis shoes," or "She thinks like a little old lady in tennis shoes." It made me angry because I saw all these young people walking by my door and what did they have on their feet? Sneakers, tennis shoes. It is no longer a derogatory comment, and perhaps I helped to change it.
Mr. Coggins really suffered by having a female run as his opponent. He was shocked. I had filed one hour before the deadline, and no one had thought that there was going to be a competition or that anybody else was going to file. He thought he was going to breeze in without any difficulty. For him, a very macho person, to have a woman to run against him—especially a 73-year old woman—he really suffered. He came out with wisecracks like, "How can you campaign against anybody old enough to be your mother?" I did a little figuring, and since he was in his late fifties and I was 73, I commented that I would have had to start mighty early to have been his mother. He said, "She can't even drive." I've been driving since I was sixteen and still am driving, but my policy was that if somebody would drive me to a speech, and I didn't have to worry about parking, I'd get them to do it. He identified me with the Raleigh Coalition, a very active political group. The Raleigh Coalition had been so upset with how the city was being governed, and he equated this, almost, to

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Communists. Well, I had lived through the McCarthy Era in Washington, and I kept comparing his attitude toward the Raleigh Coalition to the McCarthy Era. He was so down on that group, so strong in his ideas and criticism, so unwilling to let citizens be fully represented. I kept an incredible campaign schedule, and I loved it. It was great. Finally, of course, came the election. It was total shock to the big business people and the developers. My campaign had been a joke to them, and I think the idea of "the little old lady in tennis shoes" perhaps added to them thinking of me as a joke. The business community had not taken me seriously. And Mr. Coggins himself really did not think I was going to win. He never conceded my election, never once admitted that I had won.
Immediately following the election that night, there was an explosion of media. I had telephone calls from Scotland, from the newspapers there, and from all over the United States. It was featured in newspapers from Tehran to Tokyo. The Stars and Stripes featured it in Japan. Reuters, the international news agency, picked it up, and it went all over the world since I had lived in Africa and The Middle East. I had fan clubs in Germany. There were people who wrote me from Australia, from Canada, from Korea. It was a real media explosion. Not only that, but in the United States, I have a list here of some of the major newspapers that featured me. Every major newspaper all over the United States featured me. Seventy-two major newspapers and magazines from all over the world, sixteen major magazines.
Lindsey Wichard told me he had been in China for three weeks and had not seen an English speaking magazine

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for that time. He came into Hong Kong, picked up Time Magazine, and there I was. It was the sort of thing that was happening, and caught me by surprise. I didn't think anything at all of being 73 years of age, and that I had never run for office before. Eventually, I was on every major TV show. Donahue over and over, "60 Minutes" twice, Tom Snyder. I would be on the game shows: "Who is the female Mayor of Raleigh, North Carolina?" On "60 Minutes," the chairman of our Better Business Bureau, who should have been looking for publicity for Raleigh, said, "We don't need a Mayor who's getting all this publicity." Which was rather astonishing since that was his job, but it indicated how the business community looked at m.
My Inauguration was a real celebration. Up to that time, the eight elected men gathered in the council chambers, put their hand on the Bible, said the oath, sat down and went to work. I said, "No, we're having a celebration." I talked to the City Manager. "I want a room for the Inauguration at the Civic Center." He said, "Nobody will come." I said, "You give me a room," so he gave me a rather small room. I looked at it, and I said, "I want the big room." "Oh," he said, "nobody will come." I said, "Give me the big room. People will come." I got Dick Hatch to work up a program, and we got my current minister, the first woman minister at a City Council Inauguration, to give the Invocation. I had asked for Chief Justice Susie Sharp to do the swearing in but she was unable to do so. Perhaps that was just as well because Susie was not a feminist in any sense of the word, which I didn't realize. We then got the woman who was head of the Court of Appeals to do the swearing in. We had

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music, we had dance. The huge room was full of people; about 500 came. I also said to the City Manager, "I want coffee." "Oh, we don't have money for coffee. We can't do that." I said, "I want coffee." Now I have a marvelous picture of a long table with all the coffee cups on it. I personally paid for all the coffee. Now when they have the Inauguration of the Mayor and City Council, they have coffee, soft drinks, pettifours and sandwiches. However, Mr. Coggins would not come to the Inauguration. His daughters came, but they refused to shake hands with me when I offered them the Bible and the city flag as gifts to the outgoing Mayor.
From the Inauguration at the Civic Center, I went then to the Municipal Building to start my work as the first woman Mayor of Raleigh. The first problem I ran into was the Mayor's chair. It was made for a six-foot, four-inch male. The eight City Council members sat behind a table, a very high table, rather intimidating to citizens. I remembered that I was intimidated the first time I appeared before the City Council. Here are these officials looking down at you, ordinary citizens, almost like group of judges. When I sat down, I found that the Mayor's chair was so big, and I am so small—I'm five feet and weigh less than 100 pounds—so when I sat in the huge chair and they rolled it down so that my feet were on the floor, nothing was seen from the audience but the top of my head. When they rolled the chair up, my feet were dangling, and since City Council meetings go four or five hours, it was impossible to sit like that. What to do? We had to get a stool for my feet, and then we had to get a big cushion for my back. Another problem was that there was no ladies'

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room anywhere near the Council chambers. There was a men's room, but I had to go all over the building for a ladies' room.
My first meeting was full of difficult problems. First of all was the Revenue Sharing Act. The Revenue Sharing Act mandated that the City of Raleigh was not in compliance with U.S. requirements for Affirmative Action regarding hiring minorities and women. As a result, we were facing a possible loss of fourteen million dollars. That was the first item that I had to cope with. And I had received no advance information on this crucial issue. It was amazing that administrative managers had not given me details before the Council met. Of course, I put things in action and ultimately it was solved with great effort. The second thing that I was not prepared for was the decision to turn the Sir Walter Hotel into subsidized housing for the elderly. The pressure on the Council was so strong that it went through, which was really a mistake, because it meant moving elderly, dependent women into this building as housing. They were frightened to go out to Fayetteville Street. There were no shops or grocery stores, no recreation facilities.
Another pressing item which came up that first session was the difficult case of the Reilly property. I had been involved with this earlier with the CAC, but had not known it was to come up that day. It concerned the garden of Isabelle Bowen Henderson, a beautiful and historic spot. The plan of the city was to run a street through this property, coming from the corner of Oberlin Road and Clark Avenue, through the garden and buildings, coming out at the entrance near the tower at N.C. State University and eliminating a small jog in

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the street. This was bitterly opposed by the citizens but strongly advocated by the City and the University. The City finally stopped pressing this item, saying they would wait until Mrs. Reilly's death to go on with the road. (Mrs. Reilly died in January 1993 and her grandson is now picking up the challenge.)
I presented to the citizens in my inauguration speech some twenty items that I would work for. The first and most important being that I would complete the Long Range Comprehensive Plan, a twenty-year plan to guide the growth of Raleigh. It was bitterly opposed by every developer, every builder, every big business. Jim Quinn, who had been the chair of the Comprehensive Planning Committee under Mr. Coggins, who was adamantly opposed to the plan, had resigned due to financial needs and Mr. Coggins had dropped the committee, had decided to do nothing about it. This was one of my strongest campaign points: "I will get the Long Range Comprehensive Plan developed if you elect me Mayor." It took incredible effort. I apponted a Long Range Comprehensive Planning Committee which met every two weeks for the whole year of 1978. On the committee I was wise enough to appoint Smedes York as chair of the committee, representing the City Council, knowing that he had an open mind about this and yet was extremely knowledgeable about the developers. Ed Walters and myself were the others from the Council. From the developers organization called PROD, Progress Towards Raleigh's Orderly Development, came four of the most bitter opponents of the Comprehensive Plan. They sat at one end of the table. I had appointed four from the overall Citizen's Advisory Council, including the wonderful Hamilton Fish who has

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since died, and they sat at the other end of the table. Three of us from the City Council, four from the PROD, and four from the City's Planning Department comprised the group. We met for long hours, tumultuous meetings that made me think of lightning bolts accompanied by thunder as the emotions of the two groups came to the fore. There were bitter exchanges, but ultimately we came up with a modified plan that we were able to agree upon to present to the City Council. When I presented it to the Council, I said that the implementation of it depended on the interpretation and intent of those sitting behind the Council table. It is quoted at every Council meeting where city planning and zoning comes up, and I sometimes say it is like the Bible—often quoted but then ignored or not as the case may be.
It is, however, the most important thing I did as Mayor and one of the most important instruments in city government. Our work was very rough. It had to be because of the compromises that had to be made to produce any document at all. It was not precise or we would have been able to produce nothing at all. Since then, under the strong intellectual and comprehensive understanding of the plan by Norma Burns, it has been revised, refined and made more detailed, more functional.
Another challenge I had to face immediately was the problem of the Comprehensive and Employment Training Act, CETA. This was a huge Federal program that the government had put into effect, trying to get people back to work through training programs in the current depression. Rules were constantly changed. Every day we would get new documents, new changes

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from Washington. It was difficult for the City to administer, but also the City's administration left much to be desired. No document was ever presented to the City Council for approval. I was faced with signing contracts for millions and millions of dollars that nobody had any say-so on, except the CETA administrator. I was most uncomfortable with that. I could not be responsible for spending that Federal money without the City Council at least knowing something about it. After great opposition from the administration, I ultimately brought it to the City Council, and while it is forgotten now, the ramifications of CETA and what it did in Raleigh were great. It was an important thing, and it was being very badly handled.
Another thing I was faced with immediately was that we were threatened with what was called at that time "blue flu." The morale of City workers was at a low ebb because of conflict between the City administration and the workers. The police, the firefighters, and the sanitation workers were threatening a strike, a total black-out of all services for the City, which would have completely tied up the City. It was one of the questions that was thrown to me by the Chamber of Commerce when they interviewed me as a candidate. "Well, Mrs. Cannon, what would you do it you were faced with strikes of the police and other City services?" I said, "I will not have strikes. I will work with the police, and the firefighters, and the sanitation workers, and we will not have strikes." They laughed at me, but it actually worked that way. Under the strongest opposition from the City administration, I worked intensely with the police. The result was, we had no strikes by the police. In fact, what I was

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able to work out was that I wanted each police officer to have a car, to drive anywhere, any time, 24 hours a day. My firm belief is that if you see a police car in somebody's driveway, or at the grocery store, or at the movies, you don't question whether it's on a personal errand. You sit up and are careful. The administration said no, that it would take an extra million dollars and we could not afford it. Fortunately we were able to get enough money for fourteen cars, and I was able to work it out so that two officers were assigned to each car. This meant that when an officer came in after a wild chase, and maybe stripped the brakes, maybe the tires were gone, maybe it needed oil, formerly he just parked and left it because he didn't know who was going to be the next person using it. Assigning a car to two officers revolutionized the whole system. The officers took so much pride in their cars, that they would come into my driveway and say, "Mayor Cannon, come and look at our car." They had waxed it, they had carpets in it, maintenance changed, there was a whole difference in the attitude of all officers.
The same thing happened with the firefighters. The firefighters started to work at a certain level, the first level being Firefighter I. There was no advancement until occasionally a position would open up as a driver for one of the fire engines. This would be a big promotion in pay. There would be fifty men applying for that job. Only one got it, and we would then lose a lot of the trainees. I was able to get some intermediary steps, again with great opposition, so there was possible advancement. The first thing that the administration wanted was that these intermediary applicants must learn

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emergency medical training (EMT) as part of the requirement for promotion. I asked, "Do the Captains have to have it (EMT)?" "No." "Do other groups have to have it?" "No." I then said that everybody does it, or nobody does it. Again morale improved, and we did not lose firefighters who had gone through expensive training.
Another thing that I did, which was not immediate, but I got the first women firefighters. This, too, created a lot of opposition. People came to me and would say, "A woman can't get a limp body out of six-story window. There's no way she can do that." I said, "Have you ever heard of Karate and Judo? You can teach them." So we got our first women firefighters in.
However, unexpectedly, the wives of the current firefighters created more problems than anyone else. Firefighters work twenty-four hours on a shift; they don't go eight hours then go home. That means they sleep overnight in the fire station. They slept in dormitories. Their wives would call me. "I don't want my husband sleeping with some women in there!" My first question was do they trust their husbands, but I didn't dare ask that. So I said, "What do we do?" "Okay, we will make little cubicles for the women so that they can be private and apart from the men." Well, the men looked at this and said, "If the women can have cubicles, why can't we have them too?" We promptly and easily solved that. This was the sort of problem I frequently had to try to solve.
The other problem I had, which was urgent, was the condition of the Fayetteville Street Mall. The Civic Center had been opened the year before.

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It was not attracting business. We had no hotel downtown. Most of the storefronts on Fayetteville Street were boarded up. Many of the stores had been owned by people who had died, and their families had inherited the property. They were in Connecticut or California and cared nothing about the City of Raleigh, North Carolina. Fayetteville Street was pretty much a disaster. The street had been closed to traffic. The few shops that were open were having a very difficult time because people had not adjusted to where they would park when they came downtown, and the whole Fayetteville Street was in serious financial condition. The first thing I needed to do was see if we could get a hotel downtown. We had the Civic Center, but there was no hotel nearby. We approached various hotel chains. My deepest thanks go to Earl Barden who was head of First Union Bank and who carried the responsibility on this. We approached several hotel chains, but the few who came to look would say, "We want no part of this." [unknown] Finally, the Radisson chain said, "We'll consider it under three conditions. One, that you condemn the land and property where we proposed to build the hotel." This was expensive for the City. Condemning property is very expensive and is not a good way to go if you can help it, but we had to go that way. The second condition was "We need a parking deck." So the parking deck on Salisbury Street was negotiated for, again, at great expense to the City because of the long leases that we had to buy out. The third condition was the one that surprised most people. "You've got to have liquor by the drink." Up to that point you could buy alcohol at ABC stores in Raleigh, but you could not serve alcohol as a drink at

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a dinner in a restaurant. People went to the ABC stores, bought their alcoholic drink, then would take it with them to the restaurant. The bottle was put on the floor beside the table in a brown paper bag. This meant you had "brown bagging." This meant that at the end of the dinner, you either had to drink all of the alcohol and maybe go home in questionable condition, or you had to carry an open bottle in your car, which was illegal. I campaigned vigorously for liquor by the drink and got the comment, "What's a nice lady like you doing campaigning for liquor by the drink?" I've lived all over the world, I've lived in London, Paris, and Beirut, and I knew that liquor by the drink was so expensive that the notion people had of drunks in the gutter was not going to be realized. We passed liquor by the drink. But again, it was a tremendously difficult thing, but made it possible to get a hotel to come. No convention would come to the Civic Center if people could not buy a cocktail as a highball in their hotel.
The Memorial Auditorium was my next problem. It was in terrible condition. We were trying in Raleigh to get the North Carolina Symphony to make Raleigh its home. Competition was strong from Chapel Hill and from Duke in Durham. With great effort, we got a million dollars and renovated the entire inside of the auditorium, including new chairs. We were not able to do anything for the rehearsal halls, but we made the auditorium beautiful with new red seats and painting the interior.
The Governor came for the ribbon cutting. The other thing about the Governor, which I failed to talk about in speaking of my Inauguration, is that Governor Hunt came to my Inauguration. It is the first and only time a Governor of North Carolina has come to the Inauguration of a

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Mayor of Raleigh. My ties with the State and with the Governor were very strong, and my cooperation with them was an important part of my administration. This leads to my next point. I felt that the State of North Carolina needed to start paying for some of the services that the City was giving the State for free. For instance, garbage collection. The citizens of Raleigh were paying for garbage collection from every building that was state-owned and therefore exempt from paying City taxes. Finally, with a lot of work, we got the State of North Carolina to agree to paying for having its garbage picked up instead of the citizens of Raleigh covering these costs. We were also providing fire protection free and police protection free. There have been some efforts along those lines since then, but I'm not sure how much the State is now doing.
With all of the things that I was undertaking, the City was in the midst of tremendous inflation. This was the late seventies and inflation was skyrocketing. In spite of inflation, we raised property taxes only two cents per hundred. The Mayor has a lot of responsibility in matters such as these. People think of the Mayor as cutting ribbons, and they don't realize the hard work. Every Sunday morning I sat here at home with anything from four to six hundred pages of material that I had to study for the upcoming City Council meeting. My homework was overwhelming. When I make speeches at public schools, I ask the students if they have homework to do. They answer with groans, and when I tell them of my four to six hundred pages, they are in awe.
As Mayor, I was at a disadvantage by not having been on the City

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Council prior to being Mayor and not having learned all the groundwork first. I had to start at zero base and had to get all of my information together because you cannot preside at City Council meetings and not know all the answers. I also had a good bit of difficulty with two of the City Council members who challenged me on parliamentary procedures, Roberts Rules of Order. Fortunately, I got the president of the Parliamentarian Society of North America who was here in Raleigh to come and sit in the City Council meetings and critique me, and tell me what I was doing right, and what I was doing wrong.
To return to my earlier comments. We raised taxes only two cents, and yet were able to increase salaries and benefits up to eleven percent. I was very proud of my financial and fiscal responsibilities, and the work we had done. I had, in addition, two or three things that I particularly like to speak about, that I am very proud of, which happened while I was Mayor. We opened eleven parks, some of which had been started by my predecessors. One that I initiated was the Jaycee exercise trail. We did not have in North Carolina an exercise trial except the one at Duke Medical School. I was able to get the one at the Jaycee Park. It was an important breakthrough in health benefits. We also have near the Jaycee Center a little beauty spot that is not well known and is not often recognized which I helped to get. It is the Hemerocallis Garden. It is a beautiful spot. It is kept up all year round by the Day Lily Society and the City. It needs to be known better than it is, with terraces, walks, a water garden, and of course magnificent Hemerocallis, or day lilies. One of the parks

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that I was particularly proud I was able to get was at Shelley Lake. The park there was one of the best in Raleigh. Lake Johnson Nature Trail was another one that I liked and had worked to get. One of the things I was happiest about was being able to renovate the calliope for our historic and unique carousel that we have at Pullen Park. I was able to get the calliope redone, and that was a fun thing that adds to the enjoyment at Pullen.
I worked very hard. I was down at City Hall at the office before the secretaries. It was often midnight before I came home. The police were so good to me. They would see me leaving. "Mayor Cannon, would you like somebody to meet you at your home?" They would meet me here, walk me in through the dark, and check the house to make sure I was safe.
One thing that I was proud of was opening the Boylan Avenue Bridge. Miriam Block, City Council member, and I worked very hard on that. It linked up two areas of town and was most important. One thing I tried to do, without success, was to get new industry here. Budweiser wanted to open a plant here, and I thought that was great! It is a well-paying industry, it's a clean industry, and I had extensive negotiations with them. The Chamber of Commerce and big business totally clobbered this. It was a business with union wages and union wages were considerably above the average being paid here. We didn't get Budweiser here, and we should have gotten it. However, I didn't have the clout with the Chamber of Commerce and big business to pull that through.
Another thing that's still creating problems is the sign ordinance. This

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was passed while I was Mayor and it was rightfully passed and needed to be passed. The Goodyear blimp was flying overhead with advertisements. Stores everywhere—gas stations, fast food places—all had movable blinking lights out front. There were so many signs cluttering up the streets, you couldn't see the signs telling you which street it was or what the speed limit was. We didn't consider the flag issue that has since risen. If we thought of it, we could have handled it. The big problem was the movable signs and the clutter they created.
The work I was doing as Mayor totally absorbed my time. I went to some of the national meetings, though I have little confidence in national meetings being worth the money that is spent on them, but I did go to two of them, one in San Francisco and one in St. Louis. The one in St. Louis was interrupted by the killing in San Francisco of the Mayor, and all of the elected officials present were immediately guarded by police on horses and with dogs. The one in San Francisco was the first experience I had that I'm going to tell you about, which was often repeated. Our delegation was rather proud of having a woman Mayor, especially one who was getting so much publicity all over the world. I would be introduced to someone our delegation wanted me to meet, and they would say, "We would like you to meet Mayor Cannon," and point towards me. The hand of the man that was being introduced to me always went out to the man standing next to me. It never, never went out to me, to everyone's embarrassment. Here is this little old lady, she wasn't supposed to be the Mayor, and everyone was surprised and embarrassed. I

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thought it was funny.
The dominant thing, then and now in my life, and as Mayor and in my continuing work in community affairs and city government, has been to open up the government to every citizen. It is important to me to listen to people, and I did. Citizens still call me up and ask me for help. I was and am open to them. My telephone was always listed, and I've always answered it myself. I always try to cooperate with citizens. Somebody quoted about me, "She would be the conscience of the people to the greatest extent possible," and this is what I have tried to do. I tried to emphasize and encourage participation in government, and I'm still working whenever I can. My speeches always emphasize this.
I mentioned I was featured in many magazines, and I was featured on many TV shows also. One was the "Donahue Show." I flew to Chicago and was interviewed by Donahue. I received endless letters afterwards. They circulate the show to an area and then recirculate it, so I got hundreds and hundreds of letters, really quite wounderful letters. In fact, the letters I got, particularly from women, I still cherish, and I have a special file of them. Women wrote to me saying that I had given them hope, since I was a woman who had never been in politics before and had overcome great odds and still had been elected. I was 73 years old and I hadn't let that stop me. In fact, it never occurred to me that 73 years of age was anything of importance. I really never thought about my age. I was active, and the age item never occurred to me to be of any interest to people. But women wrote to me saying that they

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had considered something and had been told, "Oh, you're too old," or "No, you've never done this." The letters describing the hope I gave to women are among the most precious things I have. As I mentioned, I was on "Donahue," on the "The Tom Snyder Show"—I was flown out to Hollywood for that—and I was repeatedly on "60 Minutes."
I'm still doing hundreds of speeches, still emphasizing citizen participation. I now have my speeches catalogued and classified and keep adding to them. I am most proud of the fact that the prestigious Southern Historical Collection at Chapel Hill has requested my papers. They now have about 12 file boxes of my mayoral papers including all the work about CETA and various other problems. At my house now, I have about 14 boxes of papers including family letters and personal photos and journals that I'm trying to do something with, hoping to write about them. [unknown] Since being Mayor I've had an incredibly long list of involvement in community affairs. I sometimes wonder if perhaps I should have concentrated on one or two, perhaps I have been in too many things. To mention a few, I was in Hopeline for years, a wonderful service to citizens who need hope, who want help, and who can speak anonymously to someone who is trained to listen and help. For years I was President of the North Carolina Senior Citizens Association, which had around 20,000 members. I've been on the Child Advocacy Institute, and am very interested in children and the things that need to be done for them. I've been for many years Vice-President of the Women in Business Advisory Council, which produced a national publication which encourages women to

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support each other through mentoring and assisting, but doesn't confine it to women, although women are the primary objective. My work in history: soaking in the history of Raleigh, being in Mordecai Historical Society, and being a board member at Mordecai. I am a member of the Women's Forum of North Carolina, and for several years I had the exciting privilege of teaching English to foreign women, a project of the North Carolina State University Women's Club.
However, the main thrust of my time since being Mayor has been in the neighborhood where I live. I was the originator of the University Park Homeowners Association. In this area, we feel the full impact of the explosive growth of NC State University. NC State University grew suddenly, from about 8,000 students to 27,000 students, plus about 6,000 faculty and staff, plus about 10,000 visitors a day. It is one of the largest cities in North Carolina! The growth was so explosive and so sudden. It may have been better planned than those of us on the outside thought. The impact on the nearby neighborhood of housing, traffic, noise, has been almost too big for me to be able to explore in this brief interview. However, I will point out that the work we have done has kept this area from becoming a slum area as has occurred around many major universities. For example: Columbia University, University of Chicago, and others. The areas around most of these universities have become slum areas. I have involved myself in endless meetings and hundreds of hours. I have spoken at City Hall; have been an advocate for the area; have involved many, many of the residents of the neighborhood who have been supportive. We

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have studied, and we have learned some of the intricacies of City government and have fought many, many battles. We have established three major projects that have become citywide. One is establishing two-hour parking. Maybe that doesn't sound very exciting, but it does mean that students can no longer come into the area, park their cars on Sunday night and leave them there until Friday night, blocking the area, making it difficult for homeowners to find parking. This two-hour parking has meant a great deal to us because it has moved the parking from the streets as being permanent parking. In fact, once or twice the parking was so severe that a neighbor whose husband had a major heart attack found her driveway blocked, and the ambulance couldn't get in.
Another thing I was able to do is much more technical. This goes back to the time when I was Mayor when I was able to bring through, again over great opposition, two important changes in City government. These are technical things, not things that are popularly known. Our City charter was not in compliance with the charter of the State of North Carolina, so our laws were constantly subjected to possible denial. The former Mayor had fought against having this approved by the N.C. Legislature, and it was one of the things that I promised in my campaign that I would do, that I would get our City charter in compliance with North Carolina laws. It is something that the average citizen has no knowledge of and yet was probably one of the most important things I did as Mayor, yet not popularly known.
The other thing that I did as Mayor was to get the City Code revised. The City Code is a huge document, probably several hundred pages. It too is

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constantly being changed, and was not in compliance, one section with another. With immense effort, I got it revised. These are two technical things that the average citizen is not aware of, and yet they are the nitty-gritty of government.
The next two things I'm going to mention are somewhat in that same category although they have more popular understanding. One is the Policy Boundary Line. This affected primarily the area on Hillsborough Street near NC State University. Since then it has been adopted citywide and has been applied in other areas. To explain it, on Hillsborough Street we have a series of shops and businesses that face Hillsborough Street. They back up to a very lovely residential area—some of the loveliest homes in our area are there. However, the competition for business space began to be so severe that the area on Vanderbilt Avenue was threatened by changing from a beautiful residential street to becoming an unpleasant business or parking area. The Policy Boundary Line sets a boundary line between the businesses and the residential area. It has been violated only once, and it was violated by our own City Council, not the current one, but the one previous to this, when they voted to change an area back of a bank and let a parking lot go in. A parking lot is considered a business. It had been violated only this once. It is important to the neighborhood to preserve the residential area, to keep the high quality of the area. Our effort of the University Park Home Owners Association has been to preserve the residential quality.
When the explosive growth of NC State University occurred, they now

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have 27,000 students but have housing for 7,000. Where do the rest go? Does the University care anything about that? They say it is not their responsibility; certainly it shouldn't be the neighborhood's responsibility, yet it is dumped on the neighborhood. Housing, parking, eating places . . . all were dumped on the area without the neighborhood having any say-so in it. Our endless efforts to preserve our area have involved the residents of the large area called University Park, which runs from Oberlin Road to Faircloth, and Hillsborough to Wade Avenue, primarily, of course, zeroed in near Hillsborough Street. We also established a Pedestrian Business Overlay District because so many shops wanted to open up, and parking requirements were so large that they couldn't open their businesses. We worked with some of the businesses, primarily the Electric Mall which has been a disappointment to us. Presently, the businesses are requesting more parking, overlooking the fact that this is considered a pedestrian area. While the parking requirements have been established, they are still under constant controversy.
I was the initiator of a liaison group between the University and the neighborhood. It was first called the University Neighborhood Council. I objected to the name UNC being at NC State, and I kept talking about it, but nobody listened until one day at City Hall, Dean Claude McKinney, who was head of the University Neighborhood Council, was reporting on the Council. I pointed out that the initials UNC were hardly fitting for an organization established NC State. At our next meeting the name was abruptly changed to the University Neighborhood Planning Council, UNPC. Since then it has been

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an important means of communication between the neighborhood and the University. One of the problems that occurred was when someone in the faculty could not find parking one night on the campus near his office. He appealed to the Faculty Senate, and that body approved a requirement that anybody parking on the campus at night would be required to have a parking sticker. That meant anybody going to computer labs, the library, or going to a Friends of the College program, even going to study, would have to have a $10 sticker. We in the neighborhood doubted that people coming to the campus at night would buy the stickers, and the parking pressure on the neighboring streets would get much worse. I went to the Chancellor and talked to him about the problem, also I talked to some of the Deans about it, and they began to see how difficult this would be for the neighborhood. They had not realized some of the problems that were created by the University's action and how adverse it would be on the neighborhood. The outcome of these discussions led to the establishment of the liaison group, the University Neighborhood Planning Council. We have had and continue to have good meetings, and we have done a lot of good things by having open communication. Communication is important, and there had been no official means of communication until we had the University Neighborhood Planning Council.
Another thing I did a great deal of work on was the Hillsborough Street Task Force. We are very proud of some of the things that we did on Hillsborough Street. One of the things that I am particularly pleased about, and

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this was one that I did almost single-handedly, involved our beautiful Capitol Building which I love, and which is an architectural and historical gem that needs to be seen by our citizens. Our Capitol was blocked off on all four sides from being seen by people approaching the Capitol. Halifax Street to the north had disappeared. Fayetteville Street on the south had been turned into a mall. New Bern Avenue became a dead end cul-de-sac before being picked up going east away from the building. Hillsborough Street, big, wide, beautiful Hillsborough Street, was one-way heading west away from the building. Every street, every one of the four main streets turned its back on the Capitol. I was determined that Hillsborough Street should be opened up so that at least one lane of traffic permitted citizens to approach and see our beautiful Capitol. The City's Department of Transportation was bitterly opposed to this. It was a real battle before the City Council approved opening one lane toward the Capitol on Hillsborough Street so that people could approach the Capitol and actually see it. Perhaps as a reprimand, they left a huge blob of cement in the middle of the Hillsborough Street and Morgan Street intersection that forces motorists to do an involved manoeuver if they indeed want to drive toward the Capitol. I hope one day I may get the energy to go to City Hall to see if I can get that removed.
One of the major things I have been doing is being involved with the planning and producing the events for Raleigh's Bicentennial year of 1992. I have been on the task force for four years and have spent between four and five hundred hours on it. The events and the program have not had the good publicity we should have had. We have done better than we have had credit

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for. We have sponsored, approved or supervised the production of four major publications. One was the Junior League's 1992 revision of the Elizabeth Waugh book, "North Carolina's Capital, Raleigh." The Bicentennial Task Force supported financially and physically over 40 neighborhood celebrations, many of which were excellent. In my own neighborhood, we rented the converted historic trolley, rode people all over the nearby streets pointing out homes of historic interest. An in-depth study of Camp Polk was prepared after a trip to Washington, D.C., to get authentic photos and other information. Another presentation consisted of photos and memorabilia of the Raleigh Little Theater and the Rose Garden. Other neighborhoods had as exciting programs as this one. The Bicentennial Task Force sponsored three plays, numerous celebrations, produced the copper acorn which is now an established part of our New Year's Day celebration similar to New York's big apple, and we gathered information for a time capsule which is buried in Nash Square until the year 2092. This project I am now part of, the oral history project, is another Bicentennial effort.
Another worthwhile effort I put much time into was compiling an "Honor Roll" with names of persons who had had an impact on Raleigh over the entire 200 years of the City's existence. This was a project of the "Committee of 1992" composed of the seven living former Mayors of Raleigh. While it was fairly well-advertised, we had no staff support, and it is quite incomplete. However, it was added to the items buried in the time capsule. One disappointment to me was my proposal to invite well-known North Carolinians

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to participate in our celebration, which never was followed up on. I felt that persons such as Charles Kuralt, with family nearby in Chapel Hill, David Brinkley, Andy Griffith, who maintains a home on the North Carolina coast, and Roberta Flack, all well-known, would have added great excitement to our programs. Also in 1992 I spent a great deal of time in political campaigns, both local and national. My deep abiding belief in the importance of citizens keeps coming through by my working in political campaigns and emphasizing the importance of every citizen voting. I have held all precinct offices. I am a charter member of the Wake County Democratic Women, and I have been on the Presidential Electoral College three different times but have never yet had the privilege of voting for the President. I have been elected as a statewide at-large member for the Democratic Party and since North Carolina has voted for a Republican president in each of the past three national elections, including 1992, I have never been able to vote as a member of the Electoral College. I hope to be on it again for the next national election.
In cultural affairs, I've mentioned work I've done with the Raleigh Little Theater, and also I have done a good bit with the Theater in the Park. Theater in the Park has given me a beautiful Lifetime Achievement Award and medal. I've worked with the Raleigh Symphony and was the narrator for their production of "Peter and the Wolf," and I've helped them in many of their programs. I have also helped the Raleigh Oratorio Society.
I sponsored the first art exhibit in the Mayor's Office. I am now very much involved in the NC State Arboretum and have established there an

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Isabella Cannon Internship. I've been honored by the YWCA's Academy of Women as the outstanding nominee in their Government Award. More recently, I have done a great deal of work with Elon College in Leadership, which comes again from my belief in the ability of citizens to lead: The Isabella Cannon Room has been established there. I've received the Elon College Medal, but most importantly, the Isabella Cannon Leadership Fellows Program has been established there, and is an important factor in the Honors Program, very demanding and very prestigious.
I am speaking constantly at schools and colleges about Leadership and Citizen Involvement. I've spoken in most of the local public schools on the importance of voting in the next election. They respond. They're good. They ask good questions. In fact, at one of the schools I spoke to during the Bicentennial, the Aldert Root Elementary School, (Incidentally, I did all speeches in costume.) I somehow got things going so that the Aldert Root School wrote a play about the Bicentennial that was wonderful. I always take the flag of Raleigh with me and tell the story about the flag and show it, and this group ended their hour-long production of music, drama and dance by showing the flag and singing "Happy Birthday to Raleigh," at which point I was in tears, it was so beautiful. I have been honored by being in several Who's Who's and by much recognition throughout the United States and throughout the world.
Raleigh has had great impact on my life, and I hope I've had some impact on the life of Raleigh. The richness of Raleigh, my love for the culture of the South has grown continuously. There is something wonderful here in the

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South. Of course, I know more about North Carolina than I know about the other states, but I feel so happy that I'm an adopted North Carolinian. I am not native born, but I don't think anybody who is native born can love this state any more than I do.
I am deeply grateful to the City of Raleigh and to its citizens for the many opportunities that have been given to me to serve. It is a challenging place to live, yet the traditions of the South are still vital here as well as the openness to new ways and new thinking. No place could be more beautiful in the spring, which makes me think of a friend, Peggy Hoffmann, who does not recall the quote I am going to give. She said to a class she was teaching, "When I die, and I get to the gate where St. Peter is, I am going to ask him if it is as beautiful in heaven as Raleigh is in the spring time. If it isn't, I want to go back there, not stay here!" Raleigh's academic and intellectual climate is exciting, its economic future promising, the friendliness of store clerks who say, "Come back again," and of neighbors who rally round in times of sorrow or gladness make it home for my heart as well as a joy to serve here. Thank you, Raleigh.
END OF INTERVIEW