BRATTON: Tell me, in the actual mechanics of this business, was it Bob Morgan who was the legislative organizer ? Or who all was involved?
JENKINS: It was a combination of many. It is very difficult to put your hands on any one person, including myself, because it's really a great team effort. I can think of such people as Ken Royall. And here I'm going to leave out someone sure as I tell [you].
BRATTON: Yes, I know that.
JENKINS: I can't catalog them because there were so many of them that played little parts when they were needed. When these little parts were needed.
BRATTON: Was there an overall sort of organization?
JENKINS: Yes, we had a Committee of Fifty. This Committee of Fifty was composed of newspaper people, some doctors, some prominent politicians, and we would meet periodically. We had, one was a doctor on the Board of Trustees at Duke, Dr. Tannenbaum. Others were people who just knew we needed this and volunteers themselves. Dr. Santee and Joe Parker, the newspaper fellow. Denning up in Henderson, a 91 year old man, would come in every time we needed him. [He] would come in with a beautiful editorial which I could photostat and use to counter some of the junk.
And this Committee of Fifty really held together. It was almost like orchestrating an orchestra. You had to constantly, it dealt with tickets to the ballgame. It dealt with tickets to the summer theater. It dealt with getting kids into college, not only here, but in other places. For example, if a person had a child who just shouldn't come here, but that person was one of our best friends, let us say. What do you do with them? Well, you can't say, "Well, you shouldn't come here." But you say, "Look, I'll get him in at X place because I think X would be much better for him." And most men would fall for that, you see.
BRATTON: They would appreciate your interest.
JENKINS: They'd appreciate it. And we'd go out of our way to get them in X. But that took a lot of effort. You had to court and you had to orchestrate and you also had to develop the philosophy. People would come and say, "What do you think of this?" Negative. "What do you think of that?" I'd say, "Look, fellow, I've always made a practice not to chase every rabbit that runs across the highway. I just can't." I said, "There are too many of them running across. Furthermore, this is a democracy. A fellow has a perfect right to say that I'm no good. He has a perfect right to say that I'm evil or whatever he wants. As long as he doesn't hit me with a bat or shoot me, he has a perfect right to do that, you see." I said, "Also, it takes two to tango and I have no intention of getting that guy's name in the paper by tangoing with him. So let him say what he wants. It'll drop dead with that issue unless I keep it going."
JENKINS: I have no intention of keeping it going.
Now once in awhile you have to do some tricks. To illustrate my point. We had quite a bit of opposition from some of the wealthier people or let's put it, more influential people, probably, in Winston-Salem. So Gordon Hanes invited me up to speak to a service club and it was very interesting. He introduced me and I thought that I was going to get really shot down. He said, "This crazy man who is our speaker today thinks there ought to be a medical school in the East, and this crazy man thinks they ought to have a university there." And he went on and on. He said, "But, I want to tell all of you one thing." He says, "I'm behind this crazy man 100%." Well, those fellows didn't know what the hell to do, you know, because he's Mr. Big.
JENKINS: I didn't, frankly, I was afraid until he got to that last line. I thought, "Here I am." So I used an approach that some old fellow said. He said, "You're a sly," he called me a son of a bitch, "you're a sly son of a bitch." What I said was, "All right, let's assume that you use all your influence and you definitely convince enough people in the legislature to keep us from having a med. school. And you keep us from having a university. And you keep us from having a nursing school." I said, "then let's assume that they would want to honor you. Do you think they would have a parade where they will say, 'Here's the guy who kept East Carolina and all the people in the East from having a med. school'? Can you visualize such a parade?" Of course, they couldn't. I said, "Let's go further. If your grandson says to you when you get a little bit older, 'Grand daddy, what did you do in the history of North Carolina that you're real proud of?' Are you really going to tell him that, 'Yes, I'm proud of the fact that I kept the East from having a med. school, I kept the East from having a university'? Would you be proud?" He said, "That's a hell of a way to put it, do you know that?" I said, "Well, isn't that true? Would you be proud? Would you like to tell your grandson that?" Then he realized, of course, what were [doing].
I had another opportunity. There were some newspaper men who had been practicing punksterism for a long time and they just happened to be invited to be guests when I spoke at this service club. So I knew why they were there, just to be smart alecks. So I digressed from my speech completely. I said, "It's a shame that a beautiful state such as North Carolina has to live under punksterism." And I went on and told them what punksterism was, unrepresentative sampling and all these little tricks that had been pulled.
And one reporter called my boys when they were in the dormitory. My one son is an M.D. out of Chapel Hill as you know. My other son has two degrees out of Chapel Hill, an M.B.A. and an undergraduate. They called them in the dormitory and said, "Don't you think you've got a lot of guts going to Chapel Hill when your father is trying to destroy the university?" So the kids called home and said, "What should we do with calls like this?" I said, "Very simple. Any time you get a call like that, tell them to go to hell and hang up." So then I called, not the editor of the paper, I called the owner of the paper and I told him what happened. I said, "I'm not asking you to stop it." I said, "I'm just telling you that if it happens even one more time," I said, "I'm going to get a platform at the next meeting of the North Carolina Press Association. They like sensationalist junk. I can get such a platform without a bit of trouble and I'm going to document what your paper has been doing. And I'm going to say, 'This paper probably won prizes in the past. Is this the kind of slob you give a prize to?'" I said, "I'm going to use those terms, if you want to go along with it." And he didn't. He was very indignant, not at me. He said, "I'm glad you called." He says, "That will never happen again." So, he was a real gentleman.
Then I called Bill Friday and I said, "Bill, I don't want you to do a damn thing about it, but I want you to know," I said, "if your daughters were here and that happened," I said, "you can rest assured that I would be at that paper." I've got to give him credit. He was also indignant about it. He said, "That's a hell of a thing to do. If it happens again, you let me know."
And incidentally, he and I have been friends throughout all of this. That's the God's honest truth. We've never had a harsh word. He has never once been unkind to me. He has never once raised his voice, never once reprimanded me. And I in turn have never, ever said anything unkind about him. People tried to put words in my mouth. They would say, "Don't you think Friday's manipulating this?" I'd say, "No, I don't think that." I'd say, "I am just not going to be the judge of someone else or the referee." It has worked out very well this way and we respect each other. He has been very good. When our children graduated there, he came over to make sure that the kids got their picture with him and that stuff, you know.