Robert (Bob) and Norma Tomb
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Robert (Bob) and Norma Tomb currently live at 415 North Bloodworth Street, Unit 1003. Bob came to live in Oakwood in 1943, when he was three years old. His mother brought Bob and his brother to live with her parents, the Stronachs, at 414 North Bloodworth Street, when their father went off to war. His great great grandparents bought the house in 1885.
Interviewed by Liz Lindsay on November 30, 2010 at their home at 415 North Bloodworth Street
“The old house across the street, 414 North Bloodworth, was always the center of life. We ate a formal lunch there–or we called it dinner then–every day. As a child, I was required to put on a fresh shirt, wash my hands, and sit at the table and don’t speak unless you’re spoken to. During the war, we stayed with my mother’s parents there, and my grandfather, J.M. Stronach, was a warden, and during those blackout periods, I recall, the curtains went over the windows. He would walk the streets around the neighborhood to make sure the other houses had their windows covered.” – Bob Tomb
Liz: Can I hear it? Yep. So yeah, the old Morans, you know, they used to make the reel to reels, but this records directly to a chip. So even if it’s a four hour interview, you can just slide it right up here. You plug in to the Mac and just slide it over as a little file. So, okay. The level sounds good. So, I will start the tape by saying that today is November 30, 2010, and my name is Liz Lindsey, and I’m going to be the interviewer. And could you guys say “My name is...” and then where you live?
Bob Tomb: My name is Robert M. Tomb. I live at 415 North Bloodworth Street, Unit 1003. Raleigh.
Norma Tomb: And my name is Norma Worthington Tomb. I live at 415 North Bloodworth Street, Number 1003. Raleigh.
Liz: Thank you. Okay. Some of these questions, you know, whoever wants to chime in first let me know. Let’s see, how long have you been living in the neighborhood?
Bob Tomb: I came to live in Oakwood in 1943. I was three years old. And I have been in and out of the neighborhood since then ‘til now in 2010. And I am presently 70 years old and I can recall quite a bit about Oakwood.
Norma: I came to Oakwood first as a visitor in 1965 when I met Bob. And in 1966, we married and so I became more and more a visitor here with his grandparents and his mother. And now I have lived here for the last 15 years. And I really feel a part of it.
Liz: Where are you originally from if you don’t mind me asking?
Norma: Winterville, North Carolina.
Liz: And you grew up here that whole time, or have you ever lived anywhere else?
Bob Tomb: Yes, my father was still alive then. This was during World War II. And we lived in Pennsylvania, and I was born in Charlotte. But mostly, it was Raleigh. I did go to school; I went to school up in Belmont. I went to a military school for a couple of years. And also the same Belmont Abbey is where my grandfather went to school. So mostly, my education has been the lower grades right here in Raleigh. And in 1953, my mother, brother, and I moved to California and lived there until I was about 23. Then other various trips to other areas. Then I came back here to live here full time in 1995 to assist taking care of my mother who was still alive then. And she lived right next door here at 421 North Bloodworth Street.
Liz: Can you talk about your earliest memories here?
Bob Tomb: My earliest memories are my grandparents, who were the major parties of my life, next to my mother. And there’s a garage across the street that my grandfather used to park his car in. And he made a daily habit of writing whatever he was thinking on the garage walls. And it’s still over there. It’s not quite as legible today as it was because of just the time on the wood and the rest of it, but the old house across the street, 414, was always the center of life. We ate a formal lunch, or we called it dinner then, every day and as a child I was required to put on a fresh shirt, wash my hands, and sit at the table, and don’t speak unless you’re spoken to.
Liz: So how was that similar or different to your upbringing?
Norma: Well I grew up in farm country in Winterville, and, no, I mean, I was allowed to speak at the table. (laughs) I think Bob’s upbringing was a little more formal than mine. He spent a lot of time on the porch, by the way. (laughs) If he misbehaved, his grandmother would send him to the back porch to eat his dinner.
Liz: This is an odd question for you, because I think I might know the answer, but why did you select Oakwood as a place to live? Why do you select it now? And why did you, at first?
Bob Tomb: Well, primarily, my family has always lived here. On my mother’s side, that’s the strongest side. My father, who was a Tomb, was from Pennsylvania. During the war, we stayed with my mother’s parents across at 414 North Bloodworth Street. And my grandfather, James Stronach was a warden. And during those Blackout periods and all, I recall the curtains went over the windows and he walked the streets outside to make sure the other houses in the neighborhood have their windows covered. And like I said, we went away in ‘53 to California, but came back here in 1963. And I did get married in California. I had two children. But I’m divorced now. And my son just turned 51 and my daughter is 47. And they both come to visit. And I have a grandson, who was the 6th generation to walk through the threshold at 414 across the street.
Liz: Why did you select Oakwood as a place to live?
Norma: When we came here about 15 years ago to take care of his mother who lived at 420 North Bloodworth Street. We stayed on until she passed away. She was 89 years old. And at that point we had pretty much given up our lifestyle, which was, at the time, in South Florida. We lived on a sailboat. And we pretty much gave that up as we got older. Also, while we were here, Bob started a company with his brother and his mother and they took the land that we are sitting on right now at 415, took that land and built three apartments. And it became a rental and it was a source of income and so we have just stayed on because we’re very comfortable here, we love the neighborhood. People are so friendly. And because there is still one relative left across the street and that is Uncle Jim Stronach. So, we’re very happy here. Also my parents are still living at the age of 90 and 92 down in Winterville, so I’m close to them too.
Liz: And how far away is that?
Norma: It’s about 80 miles.
Liz: So when was this house built?
Bob Tomb: This house was completed in 2003. And we started trying to build it in 1998. But due to being a historic neighborhood, and the rest of it, it took four years to get the permit to build this place. Then it took a year in construction, which was completed in 2003. And we’re very content living in this nice apartment here. This is really nice. And the apartments fit right in with the neighborhood. Most people don’t realize that it is a new building. It’s Oakwood.
Liz: I didn’t notice either that it was a new place. Didn’t notice at all. Can you tell me what this property looked like, the colors or the buildings or what was on this property when you were a child?
Bob Tomb: Well, where this building sits now, it was a vacant lot. This is the first structure built where it is right now. But to the rear, my great-grandfather had a barn where he kept his horses and his buggy. And that was built probably in the late 1800s, because the Stronachs moved into the house, 414 across the street, in 1885. And the barn stood until about 1965, I suppose, right around there. And then it finally just fell down, it was so old. But that’s all that’s been on this property, my great-grandfather’s barn and now this structure. Horse Nose Villa, LLC is the name of our company. And Horse Nose Villa was the name of 414, which was named by my great-great grandfather.
Liz: Did you play on the lot as a child? Since it was a vacant space? Was it a space where children played? Or, what kind of things did y’all do?
Bob Tomb: We played on it all the time. Kick the can, rode our bicycles around on it, and climbed all the trees. There was a tremendous big cherry tree that’s gone now but we could sit in the top of that and eat the cherries. They were big cherries. Good stuff, you know. Good memories on this piece of property.
Liz: That sounds like the space had good karma for you to build upon. Can you talk about your first memories of moving into this space?
Norma: Well, it was wonderful. It was first of all, our first home of our own other than the boat since 1970. And it was very nice a space that I could fill, which you can see that I have filled it. (laughter) But coming here with pretty much no furniture and no belongings, I have collected a few things.
Bob Tomb: Yeah, there’s always been a garden on this piece of property. Back when my grandmother was alive, her brother, my great-uncle, and I- I guess I was about six or seven. We grew melons and corn and beans and just various vegetables and the property has always been used some way or another. And this is a marvelous place that we’re living in right now. Norma and I did live right next door at 421 for close to ten years looking after my mother. And so we were part of that house also. And in, you know, my mother’s demise, we finished this place and moved out of that house. And my brother was living there then. My brother just passed away two years ago. Now the house is still in the family and it’s a nice rental. And we’ve got a lovely couple staying in it right now.
Liz: Can you talk about the photographs that you were showing me first?
Norma: Yes, I’m showing you pictures of Bob and his brother as probably six years old and five years old. And they’re playing in the sandbox in the lot. And you can see there is a fence between 421 and this lot. And you can see the house, 421 there. Which I like this picture because it shows that 421 used to have a kitchenette extended from the back, which it doesn’t have anymore. And that’s the only known photograph that I have. And there’s another picture looking at the barn and you can see that it’s two-story and looking at the loft in the top.
Bob Tomb: And there’s hay.
Norma: Yeah, there was hay for the horses. But there was room down below for the horses and for the carriages and Bob’s great-grandfather had a horse and buggy emporium downtown on Wilmington Street. And he was quite a character. He refused to have an automobile even in the ‘20s. He would not ride an automobile. He would ride the trolley, which we had right down Polk Street and then onto Blount and that would take him to his business downtown when he wanted to go and he was even offered at one time, I am told, Henry Ford came to him and said- or sent him word- “since you have this emporium, and you have beautiful buggies and you have a place that you can market them, I would like to offer you the franchise for Ford automobiles for this area.” And he said “no, I don’t think that it’s going to be anything more than a passing phase.” (laughter) So that’s a good story. And this lot, you can see, was covered in trees. And it was very beautiful. We had to cut some of trees down to put this building up, but we also had to replace them in other places, so we still have lots of trees.
Liz: Can you talk about, you said it took four years to get a building permit. How did you manage to do that? Were they afraid that it would look like a new home and not look like the style of Oakwood?
Bob Tomb: Yeah, there was people in the neighborhood who were in opposition to an infield project. Because primarily, there are single family homes around here. But a good number of them are no longer single family, because people can not afford these new houses, that’s why they tuned into rentals. And we went through city council meetings, several, and finally I had to bring an attorney into it. Anyway it was resolved, finally, in front of the city council, and there was no more opposition allowed. And that was in 2003.
Norma: It involved height of the building, materials used, the fact that it was going to be a three apartment building or townhouse. Some people objected to that; some people didn’t. But I have found that since it has been finished, many people who were opposed have said, “Wow, well it looks like it grew up here,” and I’ve had numbers of people say, “how did you remodel the building?” And so, I think it fits.
Liz: Yeah, when I went across the street, about a month ago to interview your uncle, there was a woman who went through the front door and I assumed it was her whole house. It didn’t occur to me that it was a new space. It really blended right in.
Bob Tomb: We had an excellent architect also by the name of J.P. Reuer, and we went around and around and around about the design of this and also the way it was going to present to the street and it came out just beautiful, I believe.
Liz: So, when you were growing up, the streets were already paved?
Bob Tomb: Most of the streets were paved. A couple of them still had dirt on them, more down towards the cemetery. My uncle remembers when this street out here was paved. It was cobblestones before. And there were no trolley car rails on Bloodworth, but there were over on East Street. I remember those as a child. And on Polk Street. The rails went East Street, up Polk Street, and I really don’t recall where they went from there. Blunt Street, I believe. And then downtown. But they weren’t running when I was a child. But they were running when my uncle was a child. ‘Cause he used to ride downtown with his mother, my great grandmother and it was the way to go downtown and go shopping. It was when downtown was very vibrant. It was, all the stores were there, this was before Cameron Village or any of the other malls came up. And Raleigh right now, downtown is coming back strong.
Liz: Can you talk more about that? About the revitalization of the downtown?
Norma: Oh, I’m so happy to see it, revitalized. And people living downtown. When I was a little girl, my mother and father would bring me up to Raleigh, and my sister around Easter time to get my Easter dress and my Easter hat. And we would wear gloves and a hat because that was just the way we came to Raleigh. So I remember shopping right down on Fell Street. It was quite a treat for me. My grandmother would accompany us also and she’d make sure that we were very proper. But I’m very happy to see so much going on downtown. And I love the fact that we are living right nearby and can generally walk down there or catch a rickshaw or catch the R Line. I’m loving it. I think that this is the pace to grow old and have everything convenient. Maybe if we had a grocery store down there it would be nice but I’m happy.
Liz: What kinds of places do you all frequent?
Norma: Restaurants, usually. And we go to the museum. Both the science museum and the history museum. And we go to plays and theater productions. And I love having the little theater, Burning Coal, right around the corner from us, because I can just walk there.
Liz: It’s downtown, but it’s so quiet. So you don’t really ,it seems like the best of both.
Bob Tomb: Being right here you don’t realize you are downtown Raleigh. This is a block and a half from the governor’s mansion also. And the state legislature is about two and a half blocks away. So it’s very quiet. I mean the traffic can get a little noisy early in the morning and late in the afternoon up on Person Street here which is right behind us. But for the most part, the neighborhood is very quiet. It’s comfortable. Very comfortable.
Liz: What are some of the restaurants? And are you able to walk to them or do you have to?
Norma: I love all of them, like Sitti and Dos Taquitos. The Raleigh Times we love. That’s a nice destination to walk to and have a sandwich and a beer and walk home. And if we get tired we can call a rickshaw. So far we’re lucky; we don’t have to do that. I like all the restaurants downtown. I haven’t seen a bad one. There’s a new one down on Fayetteville Street, I can’t remember the name of it, but it’s an Italian restaurant.
Bob Tomb: Down by Progress Energy?
Norma: Down by Progress Energy, yeah. Very good, very nice.
Liz: A hard question. What are your fondest memories of being here?
Bob Tomb: Christmas. (laughs) Christmas was just always outstanding. My grandfather, he was really into Christmas. And he bought the bags of oranges and all the chestnuts and it was just marvelous. And decorating the tree. Fantastic.
Norma: My memories here? My fondest memories are of the friends that I have made here. I have a nice network of buddies. Mostly women, but some nice younger men and women too, and they feel free to come my house and sit down and talk or watch the football game or whatever. And I like not being lonely. It’s very nice.
Liz: How do people get to know each other nowadays? Here in this neighborhood?
Norma: Oh, well we’re a very social network here. Every, I think it’s the last Sunday in every month, we have the athletic club, which is a gathering of people and the athleticism consists of lifting your cup to your mouth and running your mouth. That’s all that you do. But you take your own beverage or you take an hors d’oeuvres to share. And lately the tables have just been growing under the food. Everybody seems to be trying to impress each other, which is wonderful and we have a very good time. We always meet somebody new and always get into a very interesting conversation with someone. And we have our tour, the candlelight tour, which really gets people involved. The entire neighborhood it seems is involved in this. Just decorating, doing porch duty on houses that are going to be shown. Last year, we showed, uncle’s house across the street, 414. And I had to get, I don’t know, 30-some people together to be in the different rooms for the entire tour and that was great. It was marvelous. It was about a month’s worth of work and totally enjoyable. Totally enjoyable. And what else do we have? Well we have barbeques here, we have Fourth of July picnic down on the commons, we have a jazz brunch sometime in the early summer on the commons, and, well I don’t know. People walk up and down the street with their pets, their dogs generally, and almost every house has a front porch, which means that you get to speak to whoever goes by, and most people are very friendly. And you always run into somebody with a dog and you have to stop and comment. It’s easy to get to know people here. I love it. And we keep an eye on each other.
Bob Tomb: Also, in the neighborhood as I’ve noticed, there’s a lot more babies around. (laughs)
Bob Tomb: Which means there a lot of younger people moving in to Oakwood, the Oakwood area, which is, it is such a wonderful place.
Liz: I don’t know if y’all know Liisa Ogburn and her husband Greg Colvin, they live on Person in the pink house and they have been redoing it. She and I work together, then we found out that we lived in the same neighborhood in Chapel Hill and the same house at different times, we rented. She knows my neighborhood in Chapel Hill, now I am getting to know her neighborhood here through this little history project. They have three kids that are all under; I think 11, 8, and 5.
Bob Tomb: It is good for the neighborhood.
Norma :( Laughs)
Liz: Dogs are a way to get to know people. As soon as I got a dog, I had cats and didn’t know my neighbors, as soon as I got a dog, I got to know everybody. Dogs and babies.
Norma: It is a great conversation starter. It is nice. Most of these people and dogs come out around 4:30, 5 o’clock. If you are out on your porch, you get to see everybody, if you are walking your own dog. (Laughs)
Bob Tomb: Yeah, yeah. Like our tenants, our tenants both have dogs. We kind of know their house across the street and that; she has cats and dogs at 421 here to. Right here next door at the Oakwood Inn, they have two dogs and we have a dog. (Laughing) Plenty of dogs around the neighborhood. People seem for the most part, keep behind the dogs and pick up their droppings and the rest of it. It is just a really grant neighborhood.
Liz: Was the Oakwood Inn in your family at some point?
Bob Tomb: Yes, the Oakwood Inn was my great grandfather’s brother’s. Then there is another Stronach at the bottom of Bloodworth on Boundary, the big one that sits up on the hill. That was another Stronach brother. There were three brothers, what I know of.
Norma: And one more in Wilson.
Bob Tomb: and one more in Wilson, right. Their father, my great great grandfather was the stone cutter from Scotland who cut the stones for the capital building downtown.
Liz: Do you know why it is called Bloodworth and not Stronach Street? (Laughs)
Bob Tomb: (Laughs) I don’t have any idea, no. There is a Stronach Ally, right down off of Wilmington Street. My grandfather owned quiet a bit of property around Stronach Ally, down there. Now where the big parking deck is, right there at the corner of Cabarrus and Wilmington. That was Stronach property. It was an automobile dealership on it and then later a bank used it for storage, then I guess how many years ago. Maybe 15? 16 years ago the city decided they wanted to put up a parking deck there, so there was about 2 years in negotiating with the city, cause my mother owned it in partnership with my, her fathers partners sister. It was a lot of stuff back and forth, with the city of Raleigh and our family. Finally at the corer of Hargett and Blount, across the street from Cafe Luna. We acquired that piece of property in a trade with the city of Raleigh, about 13, 14 years ago. It is still vacant. It is a parking deck. It is run by McLaren Parking. Eventually, I don’t know if I will live long enough. I would like to put up a, we have drawings made for a building on that corner. It depends on the economy, what the economy is doing. Anyways there is a lot of good memories down in that downtown area.
Liz: How is this different than living on a boat?
Norma :( Laughs)
Liz: No one else will probably get that question.
Norma: No two o clock anchor drills when a northern comes through and you are dragging. A little more room, telephones that ring, which may or may not be good. (Laughs) We have a shower and I don’t have to dip water to wash dishes, or for laundry, it is a little more convenient, I like having a dishwasher now, a washing machine and a dryer. It is different. It was a small boat. Kind of Spartan.
Bob Tomb: It was 40 feet long, and twenty and a half feet wide. We had a marvelous time on it for 27 years. We sailed to south Florida a lot, down into the Keys. Primarily thought, we were in the Bahamas, which we feel in love with the Bahamas, we still keep in touch with people in the Bahamas. A marvelous time.
Liz: Were you in the Navy or how did you learn to sail.
Bob Tomb: I learned to sail when I was 14 years old. There is a picture on the wall over there and that is Newport Harbor. That is where Balboa Island and Balboa you can see across the way. I learned to sail on that body of water when I was 14, 1954. I just was taken to it. Also, I was a surfer for years and years. I haven’t been surfing in about 4 years. The last time I went was when we were in the Ava cos, that’s up in the northern Bahamas. It was just on the water, a thing to do. I learned to dive, became a really good diver. At one point I could, free dive over a hundred feet. It was just, the lifestyle was just fantastic. We earned our way. I had a surf board business which never made a gazillion, not like quicksilver and Bill bong and those guys. We were just towing reef surf boards. We had quiet a following, matter of fact, there was a kid that wrote a book, well he is a grown man now, he made reference to our family in it.(Laughs) Lots of good memories, lots of good memories.
Norma: What was the question?
Liz: How did you learn to sail.
Norma: I learned from Bob, I had never been on the water. Actually I was not a very great swimmer. That was my last class at East Carolina. I was afraid of the water, I did learn to swim. I think I was a better sailor, because I did not want to go in the water. (Laughs) I learned to sail and navigate from him. I could take you across the Gulf Stream another time.
Liz: That is awesome.
Bob Tomb: Learned to navigate with a sexton. This was before electronics, no GPS, or that kind of stuff. Learning to use a sexton was fantastic. I learned the navigational stars and many of the constellations that are up there now. I can still walk out in the backyard and name you a couple of them at night.
Liz: Who taught you to sail?
Bob Tomb: It was just a couple, it was on Balboa Island and one of the guys I knew, his father had a sail boat. It was just; I got invited to come on board. He showed me the running, the hi-yards, the sheets, the jib, and the main sail, the boom veins, all these nautical things that became everyday stuff, when we moved and lived on the boat. Good memories, really good memories. I thank god for the time I got to be on the sea.
Liz: Glad to be on land now or miss it?
Norma: yes, no I don’t miss getting up in the middle of the night, as I said and having to check an anchor that was dragging and start the engine. Bob going in the water at two in the morning, or three in the morning to dive up the anchor or rest it. It seems like the cold fronts and the storms come through when you are least expecting them, and that is usually in the middle of the night. No, I like sleeping comfortably. I do miss the motion of the boat; I miss the rocking and the sound of the water. I got a phone call this morning from the young fellow who bought our boat. He has sailed it from Rhode Island. He is down at Beaufort. He wanted to let me know he was there with his wife and that they love the boat and would I like to come down and see it. We may do that, just visit the old girl.
Liz: What is its name?
Norma: No Smoking (Laughter) it was named that when we got it, it had a story attached to the name form a man who worked at Cape Kennedy, and worked with people who smoked all the time. He said he wanted a place that could be his haven away from cigarettes, so he named the boat no smoking and no one was allowed to smoke on it. I think he said his wife had to sit in the dingy to smoke. (Laughs) Aside from the fact that it is bad luck to change, I think it is bad luck to change the name of a boat, we liked the name anyways. You don’t run into to many boats named no smoking.
Bob Tomb: I only saw one other no smoking in all those years and it was a power boat, it wasn’t a sail boat. It was a great boat, a really great boat. It was build in Ipswich, England and the owner was going to sail it back across the Atlantic and he took a couple of his buddies from cape Kennedy with him and flew to England and the weather was so horrendous that they wound up putting it on a freighter and bringing it back over to Florida. It has never sailed across the Atlantic, but it has been, it has a few thousand miles on it through the Bahamas, and Turks and Caicos Island, we never really went to Turks and Caicos, and Crooked Island.
Norma: It has surfed some 20 ft waves, so good sized waves. (Laughs)
Bob Tomb: The Gulf Stream is a place that can get up real big, real quick when you get a north wind against that north flowing current. The Gulf Streams flows from the south to the north. When a north wind comes down on it they say it is one of the places in the world that has square waves. It is. (Laughs)
Liz: You must have central heat and air in this home.
Bob Tomb: No, no there was no, we had a gas stove and we had the boat, we preferred to be at anchor than at dock, because they boat would always face into the wind and you would open your hatches and you have got a nice breeze.
Liz: Oh, no I mean here.
Norma: yes (Laughs)
Bob Tomb: Oh here, no yeah, this is central air and heat. This is a three story building and it is finished all the way to the top with, you can use the top attic as a third bedroom if you wanted to. This place is very comfortable.
Liz: I grew up in an older house, part of it was, it was a one room school house before the civil war and then the rest was around 1900, and my folks still live over there. They still don’t have central heat and air. You freeze in the winter, unless you are right by the heater, there was fights for butt space right by the heater. It must be so much easier, as much as you miss the boat, it must be easier just to click on the heater, click on the air.
Norma: It is, it is. We usually kept the boat in warmer climates and very seldom did we have to worry about heat. Occasionally, there were some winters where we were at dock and we would plug in a space heater. I remember a few times we would take a clay flower pot and turn it upside down on the gas burner, on low, and it would radiate the heat from that. We didn’t have hot showers; we didn’t have a shower on the boat.
Bob Tomb: We used a pumped up, the thing you use to spray for bugs with.
Norma: Garden sprayer.
Bob Tomb: A Garden sprayer. That was our shower and we were great. It really did work great. (Laughter)
Norma: In warm weather
Bob Tomb: In warm weather.
Liz: Can you describe the lifestyle when you first were here, you as a child and you coming in and the lifestyle now of Oakwood and how it is similar and how it has changed?
Norma: There was a milk man, the ice man. You can talk about that, because you remember that.
Bob Tomb: When I was very young, ice came by a wagon, pulled by a mule. There were ice boxes. My grandparents, they had a refrigerator, but the house right next door to here 421, had an ice box. That was how you got things cold. There was Pine State milk, that was delivered and it was covered in ice when they left it on the porch. I remember the real cream that was on top of the milk. That was, been in ‘42 - ‘43. The neighborhood then, a lot of the old houses were tenement houses, they were built back in the late 1800’s when people had four sometimes five children. The children all grew up and moved away and it left the old house with nobody wanting to look after it. That is what happened to a lot of old houses here. Matter of fact, way back, this neighborhood was to be destroyed and it was going to be an off ramp off the belt line. It was due to come through here. My uncle Jim Stronach, and a couple of other, it was a state professor that lived on the corner of East and Polk, big white house, it is still there. They petitioned down town and the got the belt line, they got rid of it. It was definitely designed that it was going to come through this neighborhood. I credit my uncle and a couple of the older people in the neighborhood for saving this neighborhood which would have been a sin to tear it down.
Liz: Do you remember a Murphy School or people have asked me to ask about Murphy School. What is the story about Murphy School?
Norma: Your grandmother went there I believe.
Bob Tomb: My grandmother went to Murphy School; I believe in 1906, it says on the top of the building there. My son went there.
Norma: Sometime in the 70’s, eighth grade.
Bob Tomb: My son went there fourth or fifth grade. We were up visiting from Florida and we wound up being here for, my mother at that time, had a lot of residential property and I was involved in maintaining them for her, so we wound up being here for a quarter of school or something like that. It was a school and it is now a retirement center, it is still there. That is where the Burning Coal Theater is too. It is still in good use.
Liz: Are you involved in the garden club or the revolving fund?
Bob Tomb: No
Liz: Can you tell me about the Fourth of July parade?
Norma:(Laughs) That is a very small parade that starts down at the Commons and they put kids in it, bicycles, parents walk with smaller kids, wagons, there are no real floats are anything. They march around the 500 block of East Street and Polk.
Bob Tomb: Bloodworth
Norma: Then back down Bloodworth and then back to the Commons on Boundary.
Bob Tomb: They do have the old pine state cow.
Norma: They sued to tow the Pine state cow, but I haven’t seen it the last couple of years. I think it is still around. I think Billy Brewer has it, but I am not sure. It used to be in every parade. It is just a short thing and we usually go and sit on Betsy and Jean Conti’s porch and cheer and wave our flags. (Laughter)
Liz: So the Candlelight tour is about to come about. What do you guys, are you all involved in that at all?
Bob Tomb: Yes, I have a costume that resembles my great grandfather which I have worn for the last two years. I am going to wear it again this year. I am going to be a porch host over at the Oakwood Inn. My wife is having a costume made also. We will be over there. (Laughter) We are approaching it age wise anyway.
Norma: I am a porch captain for the Oakwood Inn. I have organized the porch hosts for that. I am going to be doing some demonstrating for a couple of hours over at the Tucker house this year. MY load is lighter this year than last year, with showing a whole house.
Liz: What era is it? For the Candlelight tour?
Norma: What era?
Bob Tomb: This is my great grandfather.
Norma: This is his great grandfather’s picture. You can see, probably around the late 1800’s. It is the turn of the century. He looks a little older. It could be in 1910, 1915 even. You can see from his face and from Bob’s face that they have the same beard growth. Bobs costume very closely resembles this.
Bob Tomb: I have the hat. I have the coat, the spats. He wore spats. It is a good time; it is a good gathering, Christmas. I have my great grandfather’s cane. Gold headed cane.
Liz: That is beautiful.
Bob Tomb: There is his name, Frank Stronach.
Liz: Are y’all doing both days? Which day should I come?
Norma: Both days, we are going to be walking around. We are going to be walking around the neighborhood when we are not on a porch doing whatever. I have to keep checking on my porch people, so I will be back and forth as long as my shoes hold out. As long as my feet hold out in the shoes. (Laughs)
Liz: You have to stay at the Oakwood Inn or do you walk around?
Bob Tomb: We will walk around, I have an hour or two hours that I have to tend to the porch, to get people into the house and so that too many people don’t go in at once. Just monitoring the porch.
Liz: For the Oakwood Inn?
Bob Tomb: The Oakwood Inn.
Liz: Okay, cool. Is there anything else that I haven’t touched on that you guys feel passionate about that you want to add to the record? Whether it is something about yourself that would surprise your neighbors or whether it?
Bob Tomb: Not really you have pretty much covered it; Oakwood is one of the best places I have ever been.
Norma: I think that sometime in good light, you should check out the garage across the street, where Bob’s grandfather wrote, not every day, but most days, little commentary. He was a matter of fact person, kind of funny too. He was amusing. The one thing that I remember was the day he wrote about Bob and his little brother arrived on the train with their mother from Pennsylvania. When they were actually moving back. She was bringing her furniture, his father had gone off to serve in WWII and she was coming back with the children and I think they had a dog.
Bob Tomb: We lost the dog that day.
Norma: He wrote, grandfather wrote on the wall. Whatever the day it was, 1943. Mary Francis and the boys arriving by train today. Hell to pay. (Laughter) There are many, many good commentaries. He usually commented on the weather, how hot it was. There is a treasure trove right in there written in pencil on wood. It is very difficult to read. Probably with the right cameras and lighting we could probably photograph it at some point and keep a record of it.
Liz: Jerry Blow has volunteered himself to take a photograph of everyone who participates at some point. I will send word to him that is defiantly something that would be difficult to photograph, he would probably have the right lighting equipment.
Norma: I bet he would, he is very professional.
Bob Tomb: Extremely professional
Norma: he takes great pictures.
Liz: Awesome, thank you both so much for participating.
Norma: Thank you.
Bob Tomb: Thanks.
Liz: y’all were great.