Claude Crowley, Carolyn Whitaker Crowley, and Claudia Crowley

Recorded October 18, 2007 Archived October 18, 2007 40:21 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: MBY003341


Claudia Crowley interviews her parents Claude and Carolyn Crowley about their careers and personal interests.

Subject Log / Time Code

- Claude worked for the Soil Conservation Service; later in his career he worked in conservation education through the SCS.
- Carolyn has worked mostly in development, in organizations such as the Amon Carter Museum.
- Both Claude and Carolyn appreciate wild flowers and grow them at home and at church.
- Claudia remembers the importance of books in her childhood and family.
- Claudia shares the details of her professional life and that of her brothers.
- How did Claude and Carolyn meet?


  • Claude Crowley
  • Carolyn Whitaker Crowley
  • Claudia Crowley

Recording Location

MobileBooth West


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00:03 My name is Claudia Crowley. My age is 51 today's date is October 18th 2007. I'm in Fort Worth, Texas and I'm interviewing my two parents.

00:16 My name is Carolyn Whitaker Crowley. I am 76 years old today is October 18th 2007. I mean Fort Worth, Texas and my daughter is interviewing me and my husband her father.

00:31 My name is Claude Crowley. I'm 80 years of age. It's the 18th of October 2007. I'm located Fort Worth, Texas and my relationship to my interviewer is she is my daughter.

00:50 Okay.

00:53 Dad first I would like to know how you got into your line of work. First of all before that. You were assault conservationist. What is the song conservation service? I work for a federal agency of the US Department of Agriculture and it's an agency that helps Farmers Supply country vacation practices to they'll and keep the pollutant some soil and out of her stream and keep the soil from washing away. If I say in a nutshell, that's what it was, but I started in 1949 and now we're going I was in agricultural School.

01:33 And I worked all summer and then in 1950. I went back to work and worked in the field for about 10 years at that job.

01:43 When you say worked in the field, what did you do?

01:46 Well the soil conservation Services as Nations experts on soils and we would provide Farmers with a soil map of their farms and most of them didn't know the first thing about it and so our technical help us go out and go over the farm with them with this soil map and point out ways to take it improve their Farm operations to make more money and conserve their resources. And so that's what I did. But basically it was a public-relations job with farmers. And then it was Nikolas. There was also the surveying work. We surveyed tiresias in pawns and drainage ditches and Saud waterways and Order trees for them and that sort of thing.

02:34 So

02:36 You can still see some of the ponds and aerial maps that you laid out and have still in use have fish in them in the Cavaliers. And so I'm sure you have fallen prey to roads and Urban Development aren't there to

03:03 Okay, let's move on. Let's talk about the most important thing you did when you were with the SCS Fort Worth. I got into public affairs work in Tennessee, and I was the public affairs director for Tennessee for about seven years, and then I was transferred down here at the regional office that gave leadership to believe 12 States and South

03:40 But in about 1968 my boss Mister sellars Archer asked me to take the leadership in helping and leaky of leadership in conservation education. That is to help Educators teach about soil conservation and natural resource conservation.

04:05 And I got into a like it very much. I join an organization called the conservation Education Association served as an officer in that and then I would work with 12 States the public Fair leaders in 12 States and feed them material that take it in turn give to teachers and I also headed up several workshops to teach our people how to help Educators and they core of our philosophy was it the child shouldn't worry so much about Oreos out in the Pacific ribs are see you again last cuz I'm not going to tell you that way about to work or be concerned with the world right outside their window.

04:51 And we encourage the teachers to set up teaching facilities on the school ground where the children could see it everyday.

05:02 But the results were good and then our lasting are you going to still today? I was at work and that was the most important thing. I did yet what exactly might a teacher based on what y'all trained him to do with children to teach him about this stuff.

05:23 We tried to demonstrate that you can teach anything using the outdoors.

05:30 That is a art and science spelling math language arts. Soldier finds everything can relate to natural resources. You can teach it to talk to a child about an acre and it didn't mean anything but it take me out on the school ground and measure off and Egger. They'll never forget that acre and you can teach him by showing a slide of a hackberry tree and say a common name is a alligator tree and they'll forget that but you take them out on the school yard waste hackberry tree and listen to put your hand on that rough bark and see if that's an alligator tree and that's because he's got a bark like an alligator hat that child would never ever forget that

06:15 Suicide contract teaching Outdoors, you're more effective than indoor.

06:24 How did this tie in with the environmental movement of the 60s and 70s that was pretty radical not very practical and yet it did a great job that made people aware and there were some of those environmental types in the country station work and

06:51 Porsche hit a peak in the sixties early seventies, I would say as far as the environmental movement's concerned that is it people being excited about it and conservation education went along and did very well and head Federal support and encouragement until Ronald Reagan was elected and he pretty much killed all financing and then I'll emphasis on it and but it was too late that teachers and Educators really understand it in the record people keep it alive and kept doing it. Then it is reset read it revived and now it is not at all uncommon see outdoor areas on school grounds with treason ponds and Gardens. No such thing. In fact, we have one listen to block from our house is quite imaginative and it's several here in Fort Worth.

07:55 What did you do after you left the SCS are kept doing the same thing in a way. I worked funding to the soil conservation service had been cut.

08:08 Pretty dreaded drastically and so I went ahead and work for them on a Consulting basis for a while. But I kind of got out of the loop and started doing freelance Public Relation to work and life glad I had was a mental health mental retardation organization here in Tarrant County. I work for them off and on about 10 years part time, of course, it's kind of fun and kept me and kept me involved in the community in the end the public affairs Community here. So you can re Rider videos evolve to that now for sure because I don't try to get do public relations work people in more than I am in at present a rider. Yes. That's what I do. Okay.

08:55 I've been published in overtime in over a hundred magazines and journals.

09:02 Knockout newspapers

09:06 You and Mom have written articles together right now. I have to think so believe it. But if you say so I think the life we worked on together, but it's probably for Texas highways magazine. We didn't want to know when mail so

09:33 Nostalgic windmills, North Carolina crane Mills Deacon's of the Plains. What was the first article you wrote together?

09:43 Babe's on the geology of Tennessee for the Tennessee conservationist magazine. It was in Knoxville about the time you were born or a little before maybe.

09:53 And that was typed on that 1924 typewriter right that tried all of those already things were typed on that old typewriter the one you remember.

10:03 Okay, let's talk to Mom a little bit. Okay, what would you like to talk about? Well, I could talk about my career that came into being after dad retired. All right, why don't we talk about in that case. Let's talk about the Amon Carter. Okay. That was my last job that I had at work for the Amon Carter Museum here in Fort Worth in the fundraising for the capital campaign when the museum expanded all of its extra all of the building behind the existing exhibit area. Were you when you started that job? I'm 68 years old and you work there how long they're a little more than two years. I would that was hard for the time of the capital campaign. So it was a great experience. Who did you work for?

11:01 I had a number of bosses over the time because of it just changes within the organization, but I've worked at one time Rick Stewart. Who was the director was my boss another time that the assistant director Bob Workman was my boss and Vicky loving was the person who was in charge of the capital campaign when I was hired. She was my boss for a while.

11:25 She was pretty much around dog's eye saying.

11:32 Can you just say a word about Philip Johnson Philip Johnson? It was the famous architect who designed the original Amon Carter Museum and I had admired his work since the time I was in college and it was a great thrill to me to be able to work on a building. I help raise funds for a building. That was was his Matt and his Masterpiece in Fort Worth that anyway, so he designed the extension to the building as well. His company did his firm said that yes, that's cool. I didn't get ever get to meet him. But but still there's that connection.

12:16 Do he was in his nineties when the building was dedicated and they hope very much for him to come to dedication, but he didn't feel like it didn't do it. Well that's been really cool to see the guy in person. But I'll do everything. That's true. Well, tell me how you learned how to do fundraising. Where did you work for you learn to do that? I learned on the job. I had been working for a number of years at Tarrant County junior college, which is now Tarrant County College and head head resign from that job. I had felt I had done all the work I could do. Well there and a friend told me about an opportunity available at at Texas Christian University in the fundraising division the development office and I met those people interviewed with them and they hired me and my job

13:16 The title of my job I discovered when I received my letter was the director of development.

13:24 Communication which I did not know I was being hired to do. But anyway, I learned how to do it and the way I'll learn how to do it was I got all the old files out of the book that out of the file cabinets read them. So how to write a proposal and started writing them and I work there for about four and a half years and love that. We went through a hundred-million-dollar campaign. And what did this campaign support? It supported everything that's good on a college campus has supported dormitories is supported faculty is supported A Student Activities classroom upgrades all of the good things that go on on a college campus and I work there that. Of time and they are again I sort of burnt out because I was working nights and weekends a lot on that. And so I finally decided that the age I was then which was in my mid-60s that I didn't really need to keep on working. So I didn't and immediately was asked to start free.

14:24 Sing for the for TCU, and I did that. I wrote I wrote some proposals. I wrote letters. I wrote various things that needed to be written and then I was hired to do to be the class notes editor for the alumni magazine, which was was a part-time job, and I did that for a while, I guess about 18 months and just being funny after so long time, but I love talking to people on the telephone. That's what I did. I call alone to his City and cards saying that very things that happened in their lives, and and I would call them and we just talk and have the best time and then I dried it all out and turn it in and they read it and everybody else would so that was fun. I had a great career doing doing that. I said that I moved from when I had done some substitute teaching when when you children were in school, maybe not you but when younger children were in still in school

15:24 And substitute teaching is not fun. But then then after I had this opportunity to to go to work at Tarrant County junior college and there again A friend had told me about this position all of my jobs have been through friends, which is a great thing and I work there I moved up from Junior College to a university and then I moved up to a world-class Art Museum. So I think I've had a pretty good career in my light years maybe understand talk about the very last job she did which is bigger at the Museum of Science and History got in kind of a bind because they didn't have a development person for a while.

16:12 And it needed some help and they called me and said well the man I had worked with at the Carter called me and said they need some help. Could you do it now? So I'll try it and see it. So I went and talked with him and and and they said what we need is pretty soon and I said I'm going on a trip I'll be back next date and so I can't came back two days earlier from the trip. And I said I'm planning to come see you Friday and they said come today which was Wednesday and that proposal was ready to go out to next Tuesday, and we went to send it out and they got the money. So that was good and nice job you did that was the last paying job. I've had I've done some other things that are not paying with your non-paying job you doing now well, which one the one the one that structure delete you go to every Wednesday afternoon.

17:06 Oh, I'm done working as a volunteer at the National Archives where I just do ordinary filing, but right now I'm filing court cases from a New Orleans Court from the 1870s. And that's very interesting to occasionally read some of those and another thing I could tell you tell you about. Claudia is my Wildflower project at least Church, please do we have been interested in wildflowers for for all the 40 years. We've been in Texas and actually before we started interested in raising some in our yard and texts, of course that was in Tennessee and Nashville and Texas has more wildflowers than anywhere else just like it's got so much of everything. But at any rate for the past 5 years about at our church, we have sponsored a wildflower patch on our own Eric Church campus. We have a large campus 6 and 1/2 acres and we have we started

18:06 With a small clot and we have increase the size of each year. It's about a hundred feet long now, I guess in about 12 feet wide something like that and we have beautiful house hours. We buy season week the church a group of people to church whoever wants to can help make seed balls and we put explain this evening. It's real simple you use a 135 ratio seeds to Hummus to pocket pottery clay mix it up with a little bit of water make a little bitty seed balls about the inside of the end of your thumb let him drive a couple of weeks take them out and spread them in the yard. And if you're really lucky to have good luck good rain and the right kind of weather you can you'll have a really good wildflowers the next year and that's why are you put them into sleep mode rather? Throw it on the ground? All right. This is educational here. We do. This this keeps the birds from eating them in the the other bugs and things from from eating them and it also,

19:06 What's the nutrition to start them off when when the season is right for them to grow and we have about two dozen different kinds of wild flowers tell about the different kinds. What's your favorite my favorite flower and all of those I would be hard put to say I don't know. Of course. We have some bluebonnets. We have Indian Paintbrush. That's probably the most exotic looking flower that we have and we have we have all manner of yella Composites and we have I can't I can't think I wish I had the list here I would tell you but I don't have that here.

19:43 Vashon yellow Composites. Yeah. Thanks for coming out to your eye out in the spring for the first comes out is the Gaillardia or Indian blanket flower. I ever grew was in Tennessee and it was a little tiny Wild Iris and your grandmother curly had given given me some of those that she had in her yard. And so that was a very start is that the one called blue flag know it isn't it's a very tiny one this one of those about 5 inches tall than the blue flag is a larger plant, but you saw the one when you were young and we had a wildflower Garden in front of your house in Nashville. What else did you have in that guard? We had Jack-in-the-pulpit. We had Hearts busting With Love Bug. Bloodroot.

20:43 Cardinal flower that's what I can think of right off the top of my head.

20:51 When we gathered some of those from a highway right-of-way where we thought they'd be destroyed. Anyway, nobody would mind if we stole the wildflowers did some blood return this little boys playing their neighbor. She showed that is why you call it blood rude, but it look close and she took one of the route which is kind of thick inflation broke it and it's red. The sap is red like blood

21:19 So that's why are flowers an important part of our life. We we we don't raise them ourselves. But we we appreciate them. We taking many photographs of them and we feel very very good about helping to restore the Prairie to an extent on our own church property in and letting other people know about what's there and I will say what church that is his First Congregational United Church of Christ in Fort Worth, Texas First Congregational in First Congregational. How did you end up going to that church? Well, that's kind of a complicated story I guess but we were dad was raised Methodist. I was raised Baptist when he joined the Baptist Church after I was after we were married and we were members of Baptist Church in a long time and it sometime or another we decided that we our philosophies didn't quite match anymore. And so we went looking for another church and looked at a number of them found first.

22:19 Which suited us very well and and we have been members there for something over 30 years now, so it's

22:31 So do you find being liberal in Texas different from being liberal in Tennessee that girl there wouldn't be a Texas if there had not been a Tennessee probably more than you might think people feel like we do.

23:04 Tell Claudia I I would like to know if what do you do when you hear us telling about these things? What can you remember or want to talk about it about your own life either as a part of our family or just in your own your own. Oh my goodness. You mean I get to talk. Yeah, you do. Yeah. I don't know what you might like to say.

23:26 I don't even know where to start watch sticks in your mind is something outstanding about?

23:32 Here they are growing up in our family.

23:35 Books, we all read all the time. You had walls of books and you taught us to read early before we went to school and just turned us loose and we read everything in my memory is kon-tiki the story of The Voyage on the raft car.

23:58 History nonfiction Ross heart plus fiction good stuff mostly.

24:07 I will tell any listener this listening to that I joke about if I ever have another family not going to teach me how to read this so she spends too much time reading.

24:18 That's true. We all do it to this day. What would you say is a book you remember from when you were a little child from when I was a little child is really a chance of a little Golden Book.

24:36 And you have a copy of it now. Yes, I do have a copy of that come from his money Charles came up and we were talking about that book and how we liked it my brother and and I said, oh, yeah, and I went back to my room and got it and handed it to him. And he says you've got a copy because you had found it in a Cell somewhere. That's right eye is your favorite book what has influenced you the most?

25:04 Wow, that is really hard to say.

25:09 I'll have to think about that. I want you to answer that question while I'm thinking I was going to Ernest Thompson Seton when I was about 12 years old.

25:18 And read a book called two little Savages. It was a bit written about that level and it is inflamed my mind. I wanted to be like that little boy.

25:30 And it probably locked or develop in my character such as it is.

25:36 Do you have a book like that? Carolyn know I can't think of a book that one particular book that that I remember but Claudia after I think something to be interesting if you would tell a little bit about this play. I guess it is that you and Charles and Clinton have worked on together. You don't mean how to run a mole. I do. Remember me and her Animo.

26:00 About the 17th Century Fox 3 17th Century Fox named Geronimo William and Josiah to get into all sorts of trouble because they don't have any money. They want to be a high-class.

26:13 They have to have the very best of wigs lace.

26:18 Fancy Shoes a coat so I can manage it and where do they live they live in London?

26:25 And how do you and Charles your and Clinton your two brothers? What have you done together about just playing with this idea when we tend to sit there and just generate the dialogue as if we were the people and I have written it up. I've got it somewhere and all my stuff. I don't know where I wish I was a yes. It would I think I've got a few recordings of that sort.

26:54 I remember when you and Clint had a dialogue of where you were you were being a couple of people couple of cowboys out and go that's right. We were Jefferson Jefferson. Pecan McBroom become Jefferson Peak and he's McBroom Peak and I get elected Justice of the Peace in one point. This is in in fire. This is Parker County and it's Texas Parker County, Texas. OK, it's quite a long time ago 1870s or 80's and we just have various Adventures that we tell about like being a cowboy out there. And and one of the guys catches a possum and tries to keep it as a pet that didn't work, I guess and he tells it Mary Bell and we think there's a Maryville back in North Carolina where he came from and what she looks like. She is anybody's guess probably not like the person but maybe she does

27:48 And what have you done as a career? I've been a technical writer started as a drafter for a few months. Then I moved up into editing for NASA contractors down in Houston. I worked in the astronaut office building when he was really fantastic. And you saw that sell astronaut everyday. We were right in the middle of the building right on the floor with them two are some of the ones can you remember who they were young was in charge of them at that time are all everybody else went by their first names all the other astronauts and everybody but him he was currently not even his secretary called him Colonel young men that describe some sort of authority figure I should say is what other what other companies have you work for in your career. I work for a lot on the high-tech world is very there's a lot of turnover. I work 40. I wear I meant probably the most influential person besides my parents on my life. That's when Tim Henderson

28:48 Austin, Texas

28:51 I work for Dell. I work for a bunch of little companies. I work for Star text to start telegrams internet service for Fast Lane and other internet service wife, wireless internet service.

29:06 I did the phone support and then I got into management and I hope never to do either again. Tell us a little bit about what you did after Katrina Master Katrina a bunch of people who are in the wireless internet business got together through an organization called part 15 and decided to go down to the area where all Communications have been destroyed phone lines even cell phones wouldn't work down there for a range of distance in Inland from the coast. And what we were going to do was put in Wireless Communications. And in fact, we did in Biloxi.

29:47 Leah

29:48 Someone donated a bunch of computers. We gave them to a clinic there was a clinic that had 17 clinic for poor people long and Biloxi in the area Pass Christian and Salon. They had like two Clinic.

30:02 And no computers any album. So we gaming computers and we hooked up wireless communication for them and for the Biloxi city building and then at that point, we've been down there a month and I've had all I can take so I came home others, I think kept on with it love that that was a great birthday at you were able to do that part particularly for the for the city and for for those clinics to just help them do any even minimal kind of I wish we could I wish we'd had training we would have done better been more effective if we'd had training and disaster relief what we were doing the best we could is volunteers and we slept in a trailer not unlike this one a bunch of us all on these. No shita. No pillows. No nothing. Yeah. Yeah and honey the day you left. I remember what was going on. Then you drove up through Mississippi and went to your aunt Ruth's housing in at Coffeeville, but tell us about the weather when you were going up that way so it was ferocious. It was like tornadoes and stuff. There's some kind of affront

31:02 I was driving right through it and I was

31:06 Very exhilarated and

31:11 I loved driving through the wind and the quick and Rain everything had a wonderful time and then it was great to get to Andrew and got to sleep in a real bed. After all this I fell into a depression but I recovered was that that just a good story. It's a great story of things that you have done. Yeah, tell that your your brother's just briefly who they are and what they do my brother Charles lives in San Antonio now, he's married to Beth. I hear he's done a lot of things. He's working print shops. And right now he's working for a college as a

31:55 What you doing office manager job site office manager and he's also taking courses in distance learning that right. Yeah, but Charles is Charles is the best one obvious. He's a good person. He's a his name is Charles Douglas Crowley and he is

32:19 He is a kind and gentle person. You're very intelligent funny goodness. He's so funny and he knows all kinds of things that surprise you he'd be talking and he comes up something you don't know and and often it something funny. He's a pleasure is a joy to be around. Yes. I would agree with you my other brother Clinton Erica Crawley lives with me. She is going to graduate school in geology. He is an artist.

32:52 What else can I say about it? Well it right where does he work he works for?

32:58 I've hung up. Well, it's a small a small gas and oil expiration date with the other where they're into the Barnett Shale. He's he's benefiting from the Barnett Shale gas. Boom everyday Brenda work out there in the middle of Parker County which hadn't changed a lot in the last hundred and fifty years, except it is getting Urban on the Eastern side now and yeah, it's it's always a pleasure to to Dad and me to see you you three children plus BSN sometimes best sister Julie who comes over and see you all together and see how much fun you have together. We have a good time together. We converse and we have a lot to say and I think we get it from you all.

33:56 Because you have lots of background you have lots of knowledge and you're also

34:05 Prettiest. Well that's good your courteous and you taught told us to be courteous and that's very important. Yeah, maybe dad would like to talk a little bit about where he's he's from originally you might tell us where your hometown is Cookeville Tennessee. It's about halfway between Nashville and Knoxville Daytona Highland call the Highland Rim.

34:32 And I had when I was a child is

34:36 You're very poor up there and we were poor and I'm not going to tell you how to make soap or anything like that. I was really doing that. There's a depression. I'm not going to tell me depression story, but that's where I'm from. I basically hillbilly from Tennessee. Your mother reading

35:03 I don't know what you expect certain things and he did not permit people to read novels.

35:19 Hannah French as young woman or a man gave her a Harold Bell Wright novel set said he'll be about Donald and boy her and her mother didn't like that at all. But she convinced her mother that mr. Wright was a retired preacher and it'll be alright to read one is so she read The Shepherd of the Hills and couldn't let me read the whole thing and then do what you got to she's here. She's at all never even nothing.

35:49 That was her mother that he regretted. Yeah, yeah.

35:55 The today didn't believe in miles, but that must have that much going to bed. You know your Uncle Jim doesn't either really

36:08 So there's that other strain that reads all the time. That's it.

36:14 Yeah, that's the tried and it it all it's coming out in this generation. I think I think it is a reading. Yeah, yeah.

36:24 Yes, I want to know how you two folks found each other to Liberal people living in the south.

36:32 Mcfate

36:35 Blind date where in Fayetteville Tennessee Dad vs. Soil conservationist in in Fayetteville, and I had done graduated from college and my mother convinced me that I should work a year before I married the boys I was pinned to at that time. And so I came home and then a few things happened that summer in the engagement door painting was unpinned until I was I was not committed on that. I was teaching school at a cotton school. That means it that we started in July and the children went to school until the cotton was ready to be picked. And and so we anyway I was teaching school and a friend of mine was I was a teacher also and she worked out of the building where Dad worked and so not dead but Claude and and

37:35 So she set up a blind date between us and that was we were the playpen that we started talking and never quit pants 1953 when we met how long was it before you decided that you are the one for each other? We didn't tell each other at that time, but along about Valentine's with us when we really solidified things and of course it helped that grandmother with whom I was living grandmother Whitaker had gone off to visit to visit relatives and and left me at home in the house with just my friend Jane who talked with me and so merchandise.

38:24 We had a lot of time to get well acquainted and we married then in June and June of 54 June 15th, June 18th, right after school was that

38:36 And then we were I was going to teach I did start teaching the next summer and then in late summer dad got a letter from the from Soil Conservation service and he had taken a test earlier in the year and he had been chosen to participate in an intern program in Washington DC and it was the Civil Service Commission Junior management intern program and he and a number of other people maybe 20 or 25 other people from all over the country young people who were chosen as potential good managers. And so he worked he took part in that he took classes at graduate classes worked at SCS. I got a job at SCS doing file, and I'm good at filing and and that was it and and we so we went from there to Knoxville where you and Charles.

39:36 Barn went from there to Nashville came here for two years ago. So that's what happened with the blind date. And what else would you all like to say? I had a good interview and you did well to you it was over y'all been kind of fun and I'm glad that that we can have this of that for our children to the listen to find out when I will give him the suggested donation and this is thanks to m h a t see who reserved a spot for us and who is mha TC Mental Health Association of Tarrant County. Okay. That's great. And I appreciate that. They're making it possible for us to do it.

40:17 Thank you for k

40:20 Now