Documenting the American South Logo
oral histories of the American South
Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Joseph A. Herzenberg, November 1, 2000. Interview K-0196. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

A book warns of the threat posed by gays, Jews, and Communists

Herzenberg remembers one manifestation of homophobia on UNC’s campus, a book called <cite>Blood on the Old Well</cite>, warning of the threat posed by gays, Jews, and Communists. The author alleges that some gay students who committed suicide were in fact murdered by a gay cabal. Herzenberg remembers this hysterical book with amusement.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Joseph A. Herzenberg, November 1, 2000. Interview K-0196. 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

JOSEPH A. HERZENBERG:
Now, Dan Leonard will tell you that when he came here as an undergraduate, now he is about my age, or maybe even a year older, that he was warned by some uncle that behind every bush on campus there would be hiding either a Communist or Homosexual. And I don't know about the Communist, but I think that the Homosexual part was true. [Laughter] There is, in fact, a book, which I don't recommend, except you are writing about this, so you might look at it, called, Blood on the Old Well. Have you heard of this book?
CHRIS MCGINNIS:
No
JOSEPH A. HERZENBERG:
It is an awful book, I don't mean by awful, I don't mean that it is wrong, or anything like that, although it is wrong. It was written by a woman—her name may come to me. It was published around 1966 something like that, a woman whose husband was denied tenure in the Philosophy Department. And she argued that the University in Chapel Hill was run by this secret cabal of Jews, Communists, and homosexuals. You would have to read the whole book, it is not very long, maybe a couple hundred pages, to figure out that is what she is getting at, because she is not a very good writer.
CHRIS MCGINNIS:
I wonder if that would be in the North Carolina Collection?
JOSEPH A. HERZENBERG:
Oh, I am sure they will have it. Even used bookstores still have copies of it. And they gay part in this book is based on what I suspect were a couple of cases of gay students who killed themselves. And she says that what happened to these guys was that they were killed because they weren't participating—they weren't cooperating with this secret group who was running things. You know, they were blabbing or something and so they were rubbed out.
CHRIS MCGINNIS:
[Laughter] The gay mafia got them.
JOSEPH A. HERZENBERG:
Yes, or the Gay Communist, Jewish Mafia. But, I mean, she doesn't say as much about homosexuals as she does about Communists and Jews, because when she wrote the book it wasn't so fashionable to be writing about gay people, but we are there. And I think we even—to the extent that this book has any plot, we help provide some plot because one of her really big bad guys was the chief of campus police, who was the amiable Brooklynite name Arthur Beaumont, he was just a very kind hearted Yankee, who how he got to be head of the University Police, I don't know, but she sort of accuses him of covering up these murders. Which, if they were—I don't even know if anybody died, but if they did die, I suspect that they were suicides and not murders.