Joy Gold Haralick
I initially went to graduate school, because there were no available jobs for people with a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology. When I talked with the personnel office at the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, Maryland, the personnel representative told me that if I wanted to be a sociologist, I would have to start as a secretary and work my way up. That did not seem very plausible to me. I was also offered a job as “Miss Midnight” disc jockey, on a then rural Maryland country music station. The hours were midnight to 8:00 a.m. The CIA also had a position as a trainee. The representative said that they could use my skills and my background. The hours were also midnight to 8:00 a.m. in an office some house. They would not tell me what the job entailed, until I had passed clearance. except that initially I would be reading and analyzing.
Anyway, I decided that it would be a good thing to go to graduate school to become a “real sociologist”. I entered the Master’s program at George Washington University and loved it. One of my professors had National Institute of Mental Health contacts and recommended me for an assistantship, so I actually got to work with sociological researchers, Morris Rosenberg and Leonard Pearlin. I was helping them finish some research on the development of self-image and also helping with research on social and familial differences between college students who developed schizophrenic breaks and those who adjusted well. At that time, it was believed by many that parents, particularly mothers, sometimes induced mental illness in their children. I got experience interviewing, Guttman scaling, file searching, and some analysis and loved working there. They and my professors encouraged me to work on my doctorate. The question then became where I should study. I narrowed it down to Cornell, Columbia, and North Carolina, and once I visited Chapel Hill, there was no question in my mind about which school to choose.
Chapel Hill was a wonderful place to be a student, in the early 1960’s. It had a top reputation in Sociology and was a beautiful friendly campus, in a beautiful town. I had been granted a research assistantship, with Harvey Smith, in the Sociology of Mental Health. In spite of Dr. Smith’s excellent reputation, I realized that I was not ready to narrow my focus to the mental health field. Instead, I was given a one year research assistantship with F. Stuart Chapin at the Urban Studies Center, where I worked during my first year at Chapel Hill. After that, I was a research assistant with Dick Simpson, on the Role of the Teacher study and found my niche. We had a banquet of classes from which to choose. I particularly loved my regional sociology courses, and enjoyed getting to know Rupert Vance and George Simpson. Dr. Vance, during a conversation, gave me an original edition of one of his books, which I still have. George Simpson encouraged my research on the comparison of the social conditions fostering the Southern, Russian, and Jewish literary renaissance periods. I also particularly enjoyed my classes in Social Psychology with John Thibaut. My courses were well taught and thought provoking, and I got a very well rounded background. I loved Social Theory, in all of its variations, from philosophical and historical orientations to axiomatic theories.
Most of my work was conducted in Alumni Building. Those of us with assistantships often worked in the “stat lab” and used the key punch and the counter-sorter to get the data ready to be processed by the new UNIVAC machine, which took up a whole climate controlled room. Our professors said that we “kids” really knew a whole lot more about technology than they did. I remember being in the stat lab, having to finish a project, when the lightning, from an electrical storm, was bouncing from wall to wall. I also spent time up on the top floor of Alumni Building, working and talking to fellow grad students. Angel Beza and Max Miller were up there a lot, as was Ray Norsworthy. Sometimes in the evenings Max Miller, John Stephenson, my roommate Elvina Bolieck an English major, and I would play and sing secular and gospel blue grass. We actually went to a country music convention in Virginia and performed. I noticed how much the personal interactions (not the performances) were similar to sociology conventions. I should have written it up into an ethnographic report. It was a lot of fun. The leader of one of the well known blue grass groups came up to us and told us we were “the real thing.” That compliment made us feel very good.
Some of the other students who were there at the same time as I were Ray Wingrove, John Earle, Glen Elder, Emory Kimbrough, Alden Dykstra Miller, Mark Thelin, Chuck Bonjean, Al Williams, Mary Ann Mahoney LaManna, Dick LaManna, Nancy Gates Kutner, Satoshi Ito, Elaine Themo, Jan Jorgensen, Mike Wolfe, Norm Alexander, Paul Wehr, Dick Ames.and Harriet Presser. Regina Solzbacher, Jeannine Adcock, and Martha Hamilton were also there, working on their Master’s degrees. We all got along well. I still have the recipe for Karen Elder’s wedding punch, and I have a beautiful hand-made antique kitchen hutch that I bought from Max Miller, when he came back from one of his antique collecting jaunts into the Carolina mountains.
This period of time was a time of change for our country. The Civil Rights struggle was picking up momentum, and the Freedom Buses had started moving into the South. Discussion was often about whether gradualism or immediate legislation to desegregate would better serve the South and the Nation. Another change came with the election of President John Kennedy. According to George Simpson, if I recall correctly, the Kennedy people had promised to help North Carolina start the Research Triangle, if Kennedy won the election. I watched the election results on a television set at the Newman Club, with friends, some of whom were fellow Sociology students. Kennedy won, and we got the Research Triangle, thus giving impetus to the coming of the New South to North Carolina. One day when I was working in my carrel in the library, Ray Wingrove came over and asked me if I had heard the news that the Russians had a nuclear weapon in Cuba, and it was pointed at the Southern United States, and it could possibly hit Chapel Hill. We kind of panicked together and may have done some praying. Fortunately that crisis was averted. And while I was still in Chapel Hill and walking down the stairs in Alumni Building, someone called up to me and said “Did you hear the news? President Kennedy has been shot.” It was one of those moments, when everything seemed to stand still. We watched the horrifying events unfold on television.
Dick Simpson was my advisor and somewhat like an older brother. He was our “young professor.” His courses were interesting. He was easy to talk to. He came to a lot of our get-togethers. After I completed the course work for my doctorate, I continued writing my dissertation about the effects of administrative atmosphere on the work satisfaction of elementary school teachers. While doing this, I worked at Duke as a research associate, working with Ida Simpson and Kurt Back on the study of professional socialization of student nurses. I also taught one course and loved teaching the Duke students. I moved from Kenan Dormitory to a one-story rental row house at Glen Lennox. I enjoyed cooking for friends and hosting get togethers. We also continued enjoying going to the Carolina Inn for Sunday dinner, swimming in the pool by Connor dorm, going to the beach, eating at the Rathskeller and having wine and cheese parties. While I was at Chapel Hill, the Lenoir Hall cafeteria had wonderful food for the amazing price of seventy-nine cents for a whole dinner, with several choices of meats and vegetables.
Another young professor, who joined our department at UNC, was Dick Cramer, who had been a childhood friend, when I was 9 and 10 years old. I had not seen him since we moved away, and it was good to make his acquaintance again after all those years.
Dan Price explained statistics clearly, and I enjoyed his classes. I also admired his kindness and his allowing us to watch him work, with great integrity, on ethical issues in the handling of research data. I have not yet mentioned Ernest Campbell, Charles Bowerman, or William Noland. I enjoyed classes taught by each one of them. Later, while living in Kansas, I became friends with Melissa Bowerman.
I moved to The University of Kansas, after completing my doctorate. I made the move from Duke, because I really enjoyed teaching and wanted to teach more, along with doing research. When I moved to Kansas, I was immediately given 5 course preparations—including one course I had never even taken, so it was as new to me as to the students. The course was social problems, and it was, I think, held at 8:00 or 8:30 in the morning in a drafty old auditorium. There were 200 students. No one else wanted to teach it, and I was the youngest and newest and the only tenure track female in the department. I was afraid that I would tell the students everything I knew about social problems, in the first 15 minutes of class, and then we would stare at each other for the rest of the semester. So I frantically rushed to stay ahead of them, typing 30 pages of single spaced notes for each class. Those students took notes, non-stop! And I had 4 other class preparations. The students said that they learned more in that class than they had ever done before. But their hands were cramping at the end of each class. As for me, I had no time to go to the laundromat to do the laundry. Fortunately, there was a Sears catalogue store up the road, so when I ran out of clean clothes, I just ordered more. After that semester, the course load got somewhat more calm, and I was more able to both teach and do research.
During the time I was in Kansas, I met and married Bob Haralick, and we had a daughter. I left my teaching position, in order to be home with our child, especially while she was an infant and toddler and was not in school. I did continue writing research papers, wrote and taught a distance education course (which now would be conducted on-line) and also wrote an educational video, which was produced and distributed by a national company. I did community board work. I was on the mental health board. I also started a program through the local PTA, to make and distribute educational games that children would enjoy and would help them meet classroom goals, as determined by a needs assessment of the teachers. I gave campaign speeches to various groups on behalf of my husband, who was running for a city office.
When our daughter entered grade school, I received a post-doctoral grant from the National Institute for Child Health and Development to work with the Institute for Child Research and the Special Education Department at the University of Kansas. I was studying the social conditions which were conducive to productive social interactions between handicapped children and their non-handicapped peers, in special on-campus preschool and early primary classes. At the time, we were using behavior modification techniques, which were extremely effective. We also had a very highly trained and effective interdisciplinary team, which constantly observed the children and their teachers, constantly evaluated and reevaluated the needs of the children and adjusted their programs accordingly. It was a very satisfying experience, and it felt as if we were saving lives. I was not only a researcher and observer, but a trainee. Unfortunately, the public schools, while mandated to carry out educational programs for all children, in the least restrictive environment, were not funded so that they could do so correctly. But within our program, things went well. During this time, our marriage ended, and after my grant was over, our eight year old daughter and I went from Kansas to Alabama.
The University of Alabama in Huntsville had a special program in child development, which included sociologists, psychologists, and people from the education department. It was a natural extension of what I had been doing in Kansas, and so we moved to Huntsville. I was in Huntsville for 21 years, teaching, writing, serving on the faculty senate, serving on community boards, doing church work. Our daughter grew up there and went to college, got married and moved away. My first grandchild came along in 1997 and when he was 2, I was talking to him on the phone and he said, “Bammy, can you come play with me NOW?” I had to explain to him that Seattle was too far from Alabama for me to get there that day. But I did decide to take early retirement and move to the Northwest and play with my grandchildren. So I bought a house in a suburb of Seattle, near the children and played with them and helped homeschool them. We moved from Seattle back to Knoxville, Tennessee, which almost immediately felt like home. Now I am in Maine, where my oldest grandson is attending college and living with me. His parents are back in the South.
Someone asked me what was the most meaningful part of my work. I love teaching, and that was important to me. My research was in areas which could be helpful to people. But I think that the most satisfying of the professionally related activities, were more “hands on.” I had the privilege of being on the mental health board in Huntsville and then serving on a committee which was dealing with the horrific child sexual abuse crimes which kept appearing before the courts. The then District Attorney, Bud Cramer, developed the idea of having a Children’s Advocacy Center, centered in one cozy house, where all of the professionals–police, social workers, physicians, psychologists, attorneys could work as an integrated team–and develop programs which would be child friendly and less traumatic than the procedures that were currently in practice. I wrote the body of the first two proposals for the Children’s Advocacy Center and then the National Children’s Advocacy Center. The proposals were funded, and the centers now exist in many communities. I also did some of the first evaluation research on the program.
Another project with which I am pleased, was the result of a grant proposal I wrote for Federal funding of a Special Services for Disadvantaged Students program at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. Our target population was students who were intellectually able to do college level work, but had an inadequate background. I found outstanding teachers from the Huntsville area, who loved their subject matter and loved students. We had strict rules for admission and retention. We used some of the individualized educational program techniques, which I had used in Kansas, building on strengths, making sure there was successful retention of learned material and adding new material gradually, while testing, re-testing and charting daily. Our students could visibly see their progress. We had 80% retention rate of high-risk, freshmen students. The school as a whole had a general 50% retention rate of freshmen, at the time. We had a higher proportion of students who made the honor role. Our students were happy. Our teachers were happy. The professors were happy.
I taught units on suicide prevention, in every class where it was relevant. Each year, at least half of my class members and sometimes all of them, knew someone who committed suicide, threatened to do it, or was thinking about it. I wrote about it for the city paper. I appeared on television. I talked at some high schools. Almost every time, a student or students would come to me privately and tell me that he or she was suicidal. We were able to get help for all of them, and as far as I know, they are all still alive. I received a letter from one of my Kansas students thanking me, and saying that for the first time in his life he was happy. One of my colleagues there, whom I asked if he knew a sympathetic dean, who could get the boy withdrawn passing, had criticized me for taking so much time on a boy, “who obviously should not be in college.” It actually only took a few hours, and he lived and thrived.
While living in Knoxville, I was asked by my church to train as a Stephen Ministry Leader and to re-start and coordinate that program. Stephen Ministry is an international, confidential, therapeutic listening program for people in crises who do not need professional mental health services and who are not addicted to drugs or alcohol. The Stephen ministers are trained as listeners, and they also get intensive background on various social problems. After training, they are assigned to someone who asked for a Stephen Minister. While they are serving, they have regular peer supervision and continuing education. We served a lot of people within both the congregation and the community. The program is still on-going.
I am not sorry that I took time off from my career to be home with my child. In my opinion, if one enjoys being a parent, it is a particular blessing both to parent and child to be a major part of that child’s life and help them grow into the best person that God designed them to be–with their own unique interests, abilities and talents.
In 2008, I had a medical emergency, which resulted in a near death experience, and was saved only by the skill of my physicians, lots of prayer from lots of people, some miracles and most of all, the grace of God. So I have had quite a bit of time to consider whether I am being a good steward of the life that has been given me. I want to contribute to the healing of the world and the well being of those around me. To the extent I am able, I want to reflect God’s love, grace and mercy to those around me–to show to others that which has been shown so abundantly to me. If I have any heritage to leave, I hope it is one of building up and not tearing down, and although I sometimes fail or fall short, I will keep trying. Life is a beautiful gift and this earth, even with all of its problems is also very beautiful.
Submitted February 2016