Thank you for being with us today Dr. McBee.
Spring has truly sprung here in Athens, and I know that for you as a leader on this campus for 25 years that it brings back memories, but let's start in the beginning, the very beginning, and that would be Strawberry Plains, Tennessee. Will you share with us a little bit about your family and your growing up time then?
Strawberry Plains is the only one name that has a post office with that name in the country. It was named during the Civil War, because of a lot of fighting that went on there and wild strawberries. It is a little, tiny community just out of Knoxville. I was born there. My mother was a teacher, an elementary teacher in the nearby community, and met my dad, who was born in Strawberry Plains. They had three children. I have two brothers. The three of us were born in a four-year period, so we kind of grew up together. Traditional family values, church every Sunday, valued education. We were taught to respect our elders, say "yes, ma'm" and "yes, sir". We started carrying the paper when I was in the second grade. My little brother was in first grade and my older brother was in the next grade. We carried them for nine years, and when you carry papers in the country, it is not like having a block where you have the houses all together. So we had long distances between our houses, but we did that for nine years and in a way that started me on the best lesson I had in terms of how to handle money. We had to collect enough in one week to pay the papers for the next week and whatever money was left, my parents made us keep a kitty so there was always people who didn't pay, and then we got to divide the rest of it at the end of the week and go have a "big orange", as we called it. But we learned about the people who would pay up every week and the one's that we had to chase down to get the money. We knew how to take care of the money we had, and that was during Depression days, so I valued those nine years a lot. My dad worked for American Zinc Company, and as I said, my mother stopped teaching when she got married. There were 300 students in the school, 15 in my graduating class. I was the only one who went on to college. It was, as I said, a rural area where people just weren't going to college at that period. And, my brother, in my senior year in high school was the year the war broke out, WWII.…brothers both volunteered. One went to the Navy and one in the Army, and then when I went off to college the next year…That is the next question I suppose though…Is that enough about Strawberry Plains?
That is. The only thing I would reference would be, tell us a little about McBee's Ferry? Was there a ferry?
Well, it has historical significance because it was a place even before the Civil War, where you could cross the river. My ancestors who were four or five of brothers in our family that came and settled along that river instead of farms, and I came out of one of those families, and that…it is still marked, the McBee Ferry with one of those State/Federal markers, whichever, when you drive through that area.