Betsy Arnett

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Interviewee: Betsy Arnett
Interviewer: Justin Davis
Date: September 22, 2016
Accession #: PHP 001
Length of Recording: 52:36
Sound Recording
Summary

Elizabeth (Betsy) Arnett graduated with a MA in Public History from the University of South Carolina in 1994. Originally from Texas, she studied theatre at Texas A&M University. Prior to entering the Public History Program, she served in the United States Air Force during the First Gulf War. In the Public History Program, she specialized in historic preservation, studying under Dr. Bob Weyeneth. Since graduating, she has primarily worked in economic development and, as of 2016, served as the Economic Development Officer for the Town of Leesburg, VA. She also served as the Chair of the Historic Preservation Committee of Clarke County, VA. Interview includes discussion of Arnett’s experience in the Public History program at USC after her discharge from the Air Force, the necessity of a liberal arts education, and her continued interest in public history and historic preservation. She also discussed how the current Public History Program might communicate the breadth of possible career possibilities with a pubic history background offers to current students.

 

Keywords

Economic Development | First Gulf War | Historic Preservation | Liberal Arts Education | Public History | Texas A&M University | United States Air Force | University of South Carolina | Volunteerism | Women Veterans | Marcia synnott | Connie Schulz

 

Transcript

Justin Curry Davis:  This is the first time that I have ever tried to record using Skype before, so hopefully it goes well.

Betsy Arnett:  Okay.

JD:  Anyway, I’m not sure exactly what you received from Dr. Marsh about this project.  We’re trying to interview as many of the alumnus of the USC Public History program as we can and talk to you all about what your experiences were and what you think the program did for your career (or perhaps not), and maybe some thoughts on what your vision would be for the Public History program.

BA:  Okay.

JD:  Any questions?

BA:  No.

JD:  Who’s that?  (Referring to a cat.)

BA:  This is Tom.

JD:  Hi Tom.

BA: Typical cat.  He wants to be in on the action

JD:  Yes, I like cats too, even though I am allergic.  That makes the Skype thing work out, doesn’t it?

BA: Yeah.  There you go

JD:  So, anyway, when did you come into the program?

BA:  So I started the program in the fall of 1992.  And I graduated in December of 1994.

JD:  Who was the director when you came in?

BA:  So I started the same semester that Dr. Weyeneth started.  And he and Connie Schulz were co-directors at that point.  He came in as co-director of the program.  It was his first semester there as well as Connie.

JD:  How did you end up choosing to come to into the Applied history program, is that correct?

BA:  That’s right.  It was the Applied History at the time.

JD:  Did you apply for the M.A.?

BA:   Yes, yeah.  So I applied for the M.A. program in Applied History with a specialization in Historic Preservation.  How did I choose USC?  Actually, I was in the Air Force and was getting ready to come out.  I applied to a number of schools and got into USC, which was really lucky because my husband at the time was still in the Air Force, stationed at Shaw Air Force Base at Sumter.

JD:  Okay, so not far.

BA:  Right; I commuted from Sumter.

JD:  So that must have been difficult

BA:  It was fine.  It’s not that far.  Yeah, it was fine.

JD:  And you were in Texas before?

BA:  Yeah, I was in Texas before.  Actually, I’m originally from Texas.  My undergraduate degree is from Texas A&M.  From Texas A&M I went into the Air Force and was stationed in Texas, then in Spain, and then in England, which is where I met my now ex-husband.  Then I was transferred to California.  I was in England during the First Gulf War.  After the First Gulf War I went to California and he went to South Carolina.  Then there was a drawdown, so they were reducing the number of active duty folks.  The Air Force offered me an obscene amount of money to get out.  Not being a stupid person, I took the money.

JD: (Chuckling) Of course.

BA:  And then joined him at Shaw Air Force Base there at Sumter, and then started the program just a couple of months later.

JD:  Is that how you became interested in military sites in South Carolina?

BA:  It is.  So, you’ve looked up my master’s thesis?[1]

JD:  Yes; it’s been checked out a few times.

BA:  Really?

JD:  It has.  Just looking here, at least five.

BA:  Oh wow.  So that is how I got interested.  I had a military background and prior work, which was the case studies I did first.  What happened, how I came about to write that thesis was I did pieces of it for different classes.

JD:  Uh-hum.

BA:  I did a paper on Walterboro, the Air Base in Walterboro.  I did a paper on Camp Croft, and it all came together as I was looking at (unintelligible 5:37) and writing my thesis.  I narrowed it down to just those bases that were decommissioned after the war.  There was a number that either stayed active or were reactivated later.

JD:  Uh-hum.

BA:  But I did not do any of the Navy stuff because most of that stuff stayed active in the Charleston Area.

JD:  Were you able to do anything else with the work for your thesis or did you turn it in and…

BA:  I turned it in and that was pretty much it.  Part of that was because we moved.  You know, we left South Carolina.

JD:  Right.

BA: Actually, Connie Schulz used to use me as an example that if Betsy can finish her thesis, anyone can finish her thesis.  Because I moved three times during the time that I was working on my thesis.

JD:  Really; and it’s quite a tome too, actually.

BA:  It is; it is.  At some point I was told, you know, you need to stop doing research and just finish it.  Yeah, it’s pretty hefty. (Pause) But it was a lot of good stuff and interesting things.

JD: You have a shout out to Connie Schulz in the acknowledgments section…

BA: (Laughs)

JD: … about “sticking her neck out” for you.

BA:  Yeah.  I didn’t have an undergraduate degree in history, and I was coming out of the Air Force.  I think she took a chance on me in terms of accepting me into the program.  And I’m grateful.  It was a great experience.

JD:  And it worked out.

BA:  It did.

JD:  Thinking about the time you were here:  any big themes from your graduate training that stuck with you or that helped shaped your career.

BA:  Certainly just the discipline of doing research and how to do research.  I used that even though I don’t work in the field of historic preservation officially.  I am involved on a volunteer basis.  Just the discipline of being able to do research and formulate a thesis and defend it and the writing—putting that sort of thing together.

JD:  Um-hum. …So you enjoy the research aspect of graduate school?

BA:  I did and I still enjoy doing research.  As I mentioned, I am active in historic preservation on a volunteer basis on the Clarke County historic preservation commission here in Clarke County, Virginia.  I am also on the board of directors of the Stone’s Chapel Memorial Association, which is a… (Conversation about a feedback problem with Skype starts).

So Stone’s Chapel Memorial Association has taken ownership of a small former Presbyterian Church that was built in 1848, which makes it one of the oldest churches existing here in Clarke County.  There’s a little mystery about the Church’s origin, who built it.

JD:  Really?

BA:  We want to get it listed on the National Register.  I’ve done a little bit of research down in Richmond, which is where the at the Union Seminary they have the archive of the Presbyterian Churches in Virginia.  I’ve been down and read through some Presbyterian meeting minutes from the 1840s and 1850s.  It’s fun to get back into research, that kind of research.

JD:  What kind of classes did you take while you were here?

BA: Is Dr. Synnott still there?

JD:  No.

BA: Marcia Synnott.

JD:  No.  We actually have two professors currently who are full time public history.

BA:  Oh no, she wasn’t in pubic history, but she was in the history department.  I took the basic research methods.  I took historic preservation.  I did take a museum class that was over at McKissick.

JD:  People still do that.

BA: Dr. Synnott (Feedback issue on Skype made these comments inaudible.  Arnett mentioned Williamsburg and living history in regard to the museum class.) That was a class.  Is Dr. Ford there, Lacy Ford?

JD: No, only by reputation. [For clarification: Yes, Lacy Ford was a member of the faculty at the time of this interview, but the student did not have a class with him].

BA: (Laughs)  I took one of his classes.  It was one of those things where I got a B in the class, and it was one of those classes where I worked harder for that B than some of the As I got.

JD:  Really?

BA:  Most of the straight history classes I took were either southern history or modern history.  I didn’t delve into any European or military history or anything like that.  I was in the Historic Preservation track.

JD:  With Weyeneth, basically the whole time?

BA:  Yeah.  Actually I don’t think that Dr. Marsh was even there when I was there.

JD:  Oh no.  She came much later.  Who would be the most influential professor that you encountered here?

BA:  That’s kind of a toss-up because Bob and Connie were co-directors.  Even though I didn’t take any archives classes, Connie was very supportive and helpful to me.  I’m still in touch with her.  She had a place up here in DC.  Frequently when she comes up, we’ll get together for dinner or lunch.  I guess it’s hard to say between Bob and Connie.  It would be kind of a toss-up.

JD:  Exactly. And don’t feel like you have to choose.

BA: (Laughs) Okay.

JD:  It’s up to you.  So, while you were here, I don’t have record, did you complete an internship and/or external assistantship?

BA:  I did, and that was a great experience in having that real world experience.  [That] was very beneficial.  I had an assistantship at SCIA, the Institute for Archaeology and Anthropology.  Actually, my supervisor there, I just found out, Steve Smith, is now the director of SCIA.  He was just the staff archaeologist at the time.  Then I did an internship him one summer.  He was…I can see him as contractor to the US Army Corps of Engineers.  They farmed out this project to him, at a lake up in North Western Georgia.  In building the dam, the Army Corps of Engineers took down a house, thinking it was just an old house, right?

JD:  Right.

BA:  Then they found out that, maybe it wasn’t just an old house.  It turns out it was probably, although you can’t prove it definitively, the home of a prominent Cherokee Indian who actually emigrated west prior to the Trail of Tears, when the Cherokees were expelled from Georgia.  I did a historic context report.  That was my internship project.  It actually got published in a book called the Southern Colonial Backcountry, which was a collection of papers that were done for a Southern Colonial Backcountry Symposium.  I didn’t present my paper there, but Steve was one of the editors of the book.  It’s published by the University of Tennessee Press.  He and the co-editor presented the best of the papers from the symposium to try to get it published.  “You don’t have any things on native Americans here,” so he slipped my report in there to meet that need for having a little diversity within the group of papers that were in there.

JD:  And he got you published.

BA:  And he got me published.  Anyway.  I loved the internship.  I thought the internship process was really beneficial.  Actually I take quite a bit of pride in the fact that in order to get my master’s degree I had to not only do an internship and write a thesis.  (Pause) And I had to take a comprehensive exam.  I feel like that made it a very academic program, and I think that’s something to be proud of.

Do you still have to do comps?

JD:  We don’t.  Yes; you can comment on that.  For your information:  there is a portfolio that must be compiled during the last semester [of the program].  Instead of a comprehensive exam, in lieu of it, the portfolio has to be presented and defended.

BA:  Ah.

JD:  It’s basically an oral comprehensive exam, but not…but much more open ended that what you had to take.  What would you say to the department about the replacement of the comps?

BA:  Well, actually I think it sounds good because you’re…Some people are good at taking tests, and some people aren’t.  That doesn’t mean that you couldn’t learn the information, and that you couldn’t defend it, and that you couldn’t put it into use or practice.  Having to regurgitate it in a certain time period in a room.

The guy who sat next to me when I took the comprehensive exam, he kept making this funny snorting noise throughout the exam.  It was so distracting.  Obviously, I remember it almost twenty years later.  I’m glad that they didn’t do away with it completely.  I’m glad to hear that they replaced it with something.  It’s not that it’s just the graduate thesis and you’re done.  You have to do something beyond the thesis to demonstrate the mastery of what you’ve learned.

JD:  So, when you were here, how did the Public History M.A. fit in within the larger history department? Especially thinking about the Ph.D. students.

BA: Honestly, it felt like were just one big department, the department of history.  We had a fair number of Ph.D. students who took classes within the Public History realm, and of course, we had to take regular history courses.  For the most part I thought it meshed pretty well.  I didn’t feel like we were the redheaded stepchildren of the history department.

JD:  So you were included.  Were there Ph.D. students who did fields in Public History when you were here?

BA:  There probably were.  I don’t remember any specifically.

JD:  I didn’t know if that maybe had helped make it seem integrated or not.  (Pause) Thinking back on your talk about likening a rigorous academic program, what do you think about specialized graduate education in general?  Now that you’ve been able to get the degree and go out and work, what are your thoughts about it looking back at your own experience?

BA:  I think that the program could have done more, and I hope that it does do more, to prepare you for the real working world, the types of jobs that are out there, and what those jobs are going to be like in terms of the sorts of projects that you will be taking on.  For example, if I had known that this is something that I could have pursued, I probably would have pursued being a preservation planner for a local government or a state government.  But I don’t know that I really understood that that position existed, or that those types of positions existed.  I think at the time the department, although I don’t know what the department does now in preparing you…

The Public History degree is a hybrid degree.  It’s not preparing you for an academic life.  It should be preparing you like a professional or pre-professional degree like law or something like that.  I hope that they do more in terms of really, realistic job preparation.  At least, make you aware of the opportunities that are out there.

JD:  Do you like the hybrid degree?

BA:  Yeah.  I think that I’m fortunately…  The trend that I see.  I don’t know your background and what your undergraduate degree is in, but because I have, full disclosure here:  I have an eighteen-year-old son who just graduated in June and is in community college now, and is fingers crossed, hopefully going to Radford University in January.  What I see among his peer group, is because the cost of an undergraduate degree has gone up so much, that there is this real push to pick a major where you’re going to be able to get a job and support yourself as opposed to get an education.

JD:  Right.

BA:  My undergraduate degree is actually; my major was in theatre.  It wasn’t a fine arts degree; it was a bachelor of arts.  I have a very well-rounded liberal arts degree.  I had to do some hard science.  I had to do some social science, history, and I was exposed to a broad range of subjects.  To some extent, what I was learning was how to think critically and how to solve problems.  Those actually are the skills that employers say they want from students—from young folks that they are hiring today.  But that is not reflected in what his (unintelligible at 23:48) study accounting.  Who at eighteen knows they want to study accounting for the rest of their life.  I mean, I know there are certain people out there who do and find that stuff fascinating.  So back to your original question about the hybrid degree, I think it is a valuable sort of compromise.

JD:  Right.

BA:  For preparing for jobs, for preparing for the work world, but also, exposing you to, I don’t want to say to the lofty ideals, but the idea of education.

JD:  And as you say, you’ve gotten to use your research abilities within your profession.

BA:  Absolutely, yeah.  I used to teach my son when he was.  He didn’t like math very much.  He used to say stuff like, “When will I use this stuff?”  And I used to say that in my job I used algebraic thinking every day.  I used my research skills every day.  And I certainly used critical thinking skills.

JD:  Maybe it’s a similar problem that you encountered here, that educators aren’t always good at pointing to the application side of things.

BA:  Right.  Anyway.  In your experience, are you getting more information about potential jobs or potential career paths, that sort of thing?

JD:  I would say that most of the course work.  Well, of course, half of the classes I take are not public history, per say.  I just finished a reading seminar on nineteenth century American history which has little to do with formal public history training.  But within the larger department there is a big reliance on things like email listservs; this kind of thing.  I wouldn’t say that it’s ever really worked into lesson plans explicitly, like we’re going to have a class on the different kinds of career opportunities you’re going to have.  Even when we came in and were told to find a grant to apply to, you’re basically set off to go and find something.

BA:  Well, so are you in the archives or museum track?

JD:  Well, I’m in the museum track.  I actually have a background as a librarian.  There’s not technically an archives track anymore.

BA:  Oh.

JD: Connie Schulz is still here, but she’s retired.  She has an office in the building.  She works on the Pinkney papers, so I’ve encountered her some.  There are no archiving classes here, but they can be taken in the library school.  I’ve taken some of them, but I imagine that they have a different angle to them than the ones that the public history department had before she [Connie Schulz] retired.

BA:  Okay.

JD:  Do you think that the History Department helped live up to the liberal [arts] ideal?

BA:  I think so.

JD:  Part of what we’re doing taking these oral histories, this is a landmark period, but like in a lot of places, there is question about the value of humanities.  We’re interested in history here.  And our community, but I think also in the community, [people] who have to make funding decisions, this sort of thing.

BA:  Right.  I used to work in economic development.  So my career path after getting my master’s was, I actually did work in Pubic History for two years.  I was the main street program manager for the city of Lancaster, Texas.  Then that was defunded, so I migrated from there into economic development because the main street program is economic development using preservation.  So I went into straight economic development… I forgot where I was going with that.

JD: That’s okay… You were talking about humanities, the value of the humanities.

BA:  It’ll come back to me.

JD:  Well, we’re having to sell the value of the humanities, the value of the liberal education.

BA:  Yeah, I used to work in economic development.  Part of my job when I was economic development director in Leesburg was attracting new businesses.  You have to think about what, it’s not just what’s going to bring in the most money to the community, right.  It’s got to be a full well-rounded, we want a well-rounded community.  I used to say to people, if all we’re interested in is all the money these businesses bring in, I wouldn’t be doing anything but attracting hotels, car dealers, and nursing homes.  Those are the three biggest revenue generators for us, but what kind of community would we be.

JD:  Exactly.

BA:  So if you relate that back to the humanities within the university, yeah, you can have a university that only focuses on those programs that bring in a lot of money or generate a lot of revenue for the university but then what kind of… then you become ITT Technical Institute and go out of business.

JD:  That’s a good quote there.

BA: (Laughs)

JD:  Did you feel like when you were here the history program was well funded by the College of Arts and Sciences and the larger university?

BA:  You know, I don’t know that I was really aware one way or another.  I mentioned that my undergraduate degree was in theatre and I went to Texas A&M University, which started as a land grant college.  There’s a big heavy emphasis on Agriculture and Engineering.  When I was at A&M, it’s bigger now, there were 36,000 undergraduate students.  Thirty of us, thirty of us were theatre majors.  It was that small a program.  We really were the redheaded stepchildren of the university.  I don’t know that I really had any sense of the larger university [in SC] because as a graduate student, you are so focused on your program, that you don’t really get that.

JD:  Right.

BA:  As an undergraduate, you had friends that were all different kinds of majors.  But as a graduate student, particularly because I commuted, the only other students I knew were also in the public history program or history majors, or getting masters in history or Ph.D.’s in history.  I didn’t really know any undergraduate folks outside of our program.

JD:  Have you maintained any connections with people [you were in school with]?

BA:  Absolutely, absolutely.  My best friends are people I met through USC.  Meagan Brown, who is now at the National Park Service, so she’s here in DC.  Jana Sweeney, who was Jana Trapolino when she went through the program is one of my closest friends, although she’s in Nigeria now.

JD:  Really?

BA: Her husband’s an FBI agent, so they’ve been on a two-year assignment to Nigeria.  David Lick, who works for HUD in Little Rock.  Beth [sic Bilderback: this is a different person], actually Beth Herron now, is still there in Columbia.  So yeah, I’ve kept in touch with quite a few folks that we all started the program together that fall.

JD:  So you had a good cohort.

BA:  We did.  We had a great cohort.

JD:  Was that important to your experience here?

BA: Absolutely.  When we did the research methods class and Bob and Connie both team taught that class.  We had to write a research class.  I don’t know if Bob still does this when he teaches that class, but he has a session where everybody gives a presentation, like you were presenting your paper at a symposium or something.  For some reason, I think there were like nine of us in that class, and the papers naturally coalesced around a certain topic except Jana and mine.  He lumped the presentations together by the subject matter.  But then he had these three kinds of “out-there papers.” So he called it the Sex Drugs and Rock-n-Roll session.  I actually had that presented on the spine of the copy of the paper I gave him.  They had to take that off because a colleague wanted to read it, and he didn’t think they would understand.  (Laughing).  It was one of the papers I did on one of the military bases.  Anyway.  Having that cohort and going through together was really important.  As a testament, we all stay in touch.  Well not all of us, but a good group of us.

JD:  Were you able to apply any of your theater major skills in your master’s degree, or your career?  And/or your career?

BA:  And/or my career?  (Pause) The two biggest things that I gained from my theater experience were, well three, I’ll give you three.  One was that I was in such a small program that everybody had to do everything.  You couldn’t specialize; you couldn’t just act; you couldn’t just do set design.  There weren’t enough people for you to just do one thing.  So you ended up doing everything.  I was mostly a techie; I didn’t do a whole lot of acting.  I think I acted in one or two shows a year.  One show, you’re designing the costumes.  The next show you’re running the sound board.  The next show you’re helping build the set.  Being a generalist was, I think, was something I learned from that, project management, and team work.  You all pull together to pull off this production.  You have three or four shows and then you tear it all down and you move on to the next one.  I think a lot of things in life are like that:  Big effort to get there, celebrate, and then you’re off to the next thing.  So, time management.  I think those are the skills I learned from theatre.  Finally, I would say the ability to stand up in front of people and talk.  Actually the Air Force taught me that as well—public speaking.

The first time I was on stage in my theater program, my heart was pounding so that I couldn’t hear myself talk.  I know I said my lines, but I could not hear them.  Anyway, I got over that.  That’s what that taught me.  My job now is as the public information officer for the Town of Leesburg.  I get interviewed on camera or on the radio.  So those are good skills to have, to be able to speak.  It’s also good to know when to shut up.

 JD: (Laughs) So, theater major to public history.

BA:  Yeah.

JD:  So again, you talk about that background, the liberal [arts] background that makes sense within that framework too.

BA:  Oh yeah, definitely.

JD:  Any regrets?

BA:  No; you know, it’s hard to play that game.

JD:  Yeah.

BA:  Because if you think that you change this thing, what else would have changed?

JD:  Are there things in particular that you would have had the program in general [change], maybe the way particular classes were done.  Anything like that, or advice for what could have been done differently?

BA: I don’t know…You know, when I went in, because I spent seven years in the Air Force between getting my degree and going to USC.  I was a little bit older, not a great deal over, but a little bit older than most of the other students.  And I was married.  I think I was a little more outspoken in some respects.  The class that I took at McKissick, I really despised the teacher.

JD:  (Laughs)

BA:  And we didn’t get along very well.  So anyway.  Maybe I wouldn’t have taken that class.  I can’t think of anything else I would have changed or would have wanted to be different.

JD:  What would you say, if you had to think about what your vision for what the program would be doing here in 2016 for the classes that will be coming in during the next few years, do you have anything to say about that?

BA:  Well, I would say that focusing particularly on the historic preservation track, since that’s the track that I went through and where I am active today, is get more real world, more practitioners in to talk to the students and to do case studies, and that sort of thing.  You get more of an understanding about what is really happening in the field rather than just the academic discussions. (Pause)

JD:  So people in actual classes have speakers come into talk?

BA:  Yeah, exactly.  Have the preservation planner from the City of Columbia come present, talk about what they do and how they do it, and they present a case study of an application that is before the Board of Architecture review, and how they go about doing their jobs.  That sort of thing.

JD:  Do you think that the program could do stuff like this outside of actual classes too?

BA:  Sure.  Yeah, more field trips and that sort of thing.  We’ve got a theoretical understanding of how it all works but maybe not a real-world understanding.  One of the things I struggle with as the chair of the Historic Preservation Commission here in Clarke County:  Clarke County is a really small community.  When someone you know comes to you and says, I own a historic house and I want to rip out the windows or do something to it, and to have to say now to someone who is essentially your neighbor, “no you can’t do that to your house,” that’s a hard thing to do.  To have the courage of your convictions to stand on principle, we’ve said as a collective body, the community of Clarke County that we value our historic building, and we did that by setting up this historic district.  Because you own a historic building in it, you have to abide by that.  Then, people do stuff, thinking that it’s easier to ask forgiveness than permission to replace all the windows, all the wooden six over six double hung windows with vinyl windows in, we have to say “sorry, you’ve got to take them out.”  And you know the folks.  It would have been less expensive have they done it right the first time.  That’s a hard one to deal with sometimes.  Understanding the reality of the field of historic preservation.  I think that’s something that would be valuable for students to understand.

JD:  Were these principles upheld in the program when you were here, do you think?

BA:  Oh, I think so.  Absolutely.  But to understand how it all comes together.  You know, with an applicant standing in front of the board of architecture review and the board…board of architecture review saying yes, but you have to do this or whatever.

JD:  Have you had any issues in your career with different opinions about these matters people with a similar background?

BA: (Pause) There are always variations of opinions, a range of opinions.  I don’t know that I’ve ever run into someone taking a…  For example, there’s a house in the town of White Posts, and the owners bought it and were planning to renovate it.  When they were starting the renovation process, they realized there was way more termite damage than they had thought.  So, they were going to try to sell it and then the market crashed.  They couldn’t get their money out of it, so they let it sit.  The market crashed in what, ’08, 2008?

JD:  Um-hmm…

BA:  So here it is eight years later and the house has been sitting there.  It’s open to the elements.  The windows are out.  They ripped out a bunch of the plaster.  Actually, I think both floors are down to the studs.  Then they come in with a demolition permit.  So, then we have to have a discussion with the historic preservation committee about whether we allow them to demolish the building.  Of course, there’s a process they have to go through to sell it.  If they can’t sell it, we can’t deny them the right to tear the building down.  Within the historic preservation commission, we had differences of opinion.  There’re claiming that they need to tear it down because it’s structurally unsound.  There are those of us who are the more hardline preservationists.  Myself and a woman who is actually an architect were saying do we have to take their word for this structurally unsound, or can we require them to prove to us that it’s structurally unsound.  But then, again, that’s an expense to them to get a structural engineer in there.  So, applying these principles to real world situations, when you have to consider someone’s property, and they have to some extent the right to do with it what they want.   It’s not always black and white.  I don’t know how well that comes across to students in the historic preservation class, that they understand these grey areas they are going to be dealing with.

JD:  Yeah, I could speak to that.  I work in the SHPO here, so I’ve encountered it some myself in my actual experience.

BA:  Yeah.

JD:  Well, anything else you would like to say about how your training here has carried through to your career?

BA:  I can’t think of anything.   I am obviously very proud of the degree that I have, and enjoyed my time at USC, and found it very valuable.  I certainly would do it again.  If I were making the decision [again].  If it were 1992, and I were trying to make that decision again, I would certainly do it again.

JD:  Anything else?

BA:  No, I can’t think of anything.  Anyway.

JD:  It’s been really great to meet you, even if it is on Skype here.  And Tom.

BA:  And Tom.  You didn’t get to see the other one, Jerry.  Yes, I have cats named Tom and Jerry.  And the dog named Roxy, who is sitting at my feet.

JD:   I can’t see the dog.  No, she’s down here.  (She calls the dog) Oh, wow. (Conversation about dogs continues.)

BA:  She’s 55 pounds.  She’s a boxer bull mix.  (To the dog) She’s very sweet aren’t you.

JD:  She can’t smell me, so I basically don’t exist.

BA:  That’s right.  Luckily you can’t smell her.  Alright.  Justin, it was really nice talking to you.

JD:  Oh, it’s been immensely helpful.  And it’s always good to talk to people.  We’ve talked about history and the broader value of what people in the real world think about the merits of a liberal education, which is certainly a very relevant conversation both among academic administrators and to the broader world.  That’s partly what we encounter during fiscal times like the post 2008 world.  So, I’m glad to hear the program has prepared you well, since I’m also a student in it.

I was actually up in Harpers Ferry over the summer, so I’m wasn’t too far from where you are.

BA: No, not far at all.  I live in Boyce.  So I live in Clarke county, so if you went down [HWY] 340 from Harpers Ferry.

JD:  Yeah.  I drove through Berryville one time.  Cute little town actually.

BA:  Boyce is further south of it.  It’s even littler.  That’s where I live.

JD:  Yeah.  The road down to Front Royal.

BA:  Yeah, you drove through Boyce.

JD:  So I did.

BA:  Yeah, if you went to Front Royal from Harpers Ferry you went through Boyce.

JD:  Yeah, I’ll be back through there at some point in the future to finish hiking through the Shenandoah.

BA: Are you going to be on the Appalachian Trail?

JD:  Yeah.

 BA:  Are you going to do a thorough hike all the way.

JD:  No, I don’t think so. (Laughing) No, I think I’ll be one of these people who does it in pieces.  The whole thing at once is a bit adventurous for me.

BA:  Yeah.

JD:  Thanks so much for meeting with me on Skype into the evening here.  Feel free to contact me if you have anything you would like to add.  I would be more than happy.  I can arrange another time, and it doesn’t have to be within the next few days.  What I’ll leave you with is the release form that we send out.  It’s a standard form.  You can think about what you’ve said here.  I won’t use any of this or archive it until you send the form back to me.  How do you want me to get that to you?  (Recording becomes only semi-audible.)

BA:  Just email it.  I can scan it and send it back to you.

JD:  I’ll do that tomorrow morning, if that’s okay.

BA:  Okay.

JD:  Again, if there’re any questions just contact me.  Also feel free to contact Allison Marsh who’s in charge of the project.

BA:  Okay.

JD:  Again, it’s been a pleasure.  Goodnight.

BA:  Goodnight.

End of Interview

[1] “Post World War II development of surplus military installations in South Carolina”