Interview with Harold Engstrom
QUESTION 24
INTERVIEWER:

FINALLY, COULD YOU GIVE US BRIEFLY THE STORY OF THE RESOLUTION. WE'LL GO VERY BRIEFLY THROUGH THE '58-'59 YEAR, AND FINALLY THE SCHOOL BOARD FORCES A RESOLUTION BY RESIGNING. COULD YOU TELL US?

Harold Engstrom:

Well, as governor Faubus used to say when he'd meet us, well, are you still meeting and deliberating and talking and not doing anything? And we said, "Yes, that's what we're doing. We're meeting, we're deliberating, we're trying to figure out something to do, but we're not coming up with anything." And we did resolve not to do anything negative, or anything that had a very small chance of success. But we finally came to the point where we realized that we were not effective. We were not able to achieve what needed to be achieved, and we became to be labeled, the Blossom Plan, the Blossom School Board, was unsuccessful, and it was our problem. It was Blossom's problem. It was the School Board's problem. And the community was really not accepting it as their problem. And one day, while we were sitting there at lunch, we finally came to the conclusion, I can't remember how it came about, but it was almost unanimous, on first discussion, that you know, the only constructive thing we could do, would be all resign at one time. The rules of the law were, that if one of us resigned, or was killed, or injured, or couldn't function, the other members could reappoint him. But if we all resigned, then they had to have an election. And so we—but we had this problem with Virgil Blossom. He had—we felt that Virgil Blossom had done an admirable job, he should have been given a bonus, or he should have been rewarded for what he did, and so he had another year of his contract. And we did perform the legal requirements, to pay him for that year, so he could survive financially until he found another appointment, because we were in a sense, firing Blossom. I know one of the books say that he resigned, but—or that we fired him, but we really didn't. We paid him off, and gave him a change to go to San Antonio, or some other good job, which he did go to San Antonio. But the point was, we finally realized that the only good thing that we could do, was to resign, and resign as a group. Of course, there were really just five of us that agreed on anything, and Dale Offer stayed on, but the five was enough to call an election. From then on, it was the community's problem, and not our problem. And in looking back over it, that's probably the best, most constructive, wisest thing that we did while we were in the whole mess.

CAMERA CREW MEMBER:

AT THIS POINT CAMERA ROLL HAS 200 FEET. THIS CAMERA ROLL 116.