Manuscripts/Mixed Material Interview with Edward Gibson Lanpher
LANPHER: I started off in school at a very progressive school in Northern Virginia. My parents were among its founders. It was called Burgundy Farm Country Day School, the first integrated school in Virginia, public or private. I stayed there through grade three and then I switched to public schools in Alexandria for grades four through eight. Then because of the quality of the education and, I suppose, my behavior, my parents organized it for me to go off to boarding school starting in 9th grade.
Q: Let's talk about elementary school. Were there any things yowere particularly interested in?
LANPHER: Yes. I always had an interest in history and biographies of interesting people. We managed to travel across the country by car several times and that peaked my interest. I was an early student of American history. Math didn't do much for me; still doesn't.
Q: When you were switched over from the country day school to thAlexandria school, I take it it was quite segregated in those days.
LANPHER: It certainly was. And the quality of public education in Virginia in the early to mid-'50s was terrible. Now 50-odd years later Northern Virginia has one of the best public education systems in the country, if not the world. In those days, Fairfax County was dairy farms. Alexandria was a slow moving, segregated southern town. The state and the city didn't put much money into education. I always remember being in sixth grade in a classroom at George Mason School in Alexandria where there were 46 kids in the class, one teacher, no teaching assistant. It wasn't a very good education. So, when I went off to boarding school, I was ill-prepared.
Q: Were you getting a good solid dose of Dixie in Alexandria? Wathis a southern school?
LANPHER: Yes. I had a history teacher in 8th grade. She was froGeorgia and her ancestors had been overrun by Sherman.
Q: My grandfather was an officer with Sherman.
LANPHER: She and her family had never gotten over it to the point where I was once sent out of the history class for referring to that war as the “Civil War” as opposed to the “War Between the States.”