Special Collections. Corp of Cadets from Imagebase image number t15-094

James J. Pandapas (1915- )

Oral history interview, July 16, 1997, Ms97-011

Interview with James J. Pandapas of Blacksburg, Virginia, conducted by Laura Katz Smith, Manuscripts Curator, Special Collections Department, on July 16, 1997.

This version of the interview includes corrections and additions by James J. Pandapas, made in August 1997.

Transcript of interview:


Smith: Today is July 16, 1997.I'm Laura Smith, Manuscripts Curator at the library at Virginia Tech, and I'm interviewing James Pandapas at his home 1009 Draper Road in Blacksburg. Mr. Pandapas, when were you born?

Pandapas: I was born in December 1915 to Greek immigrant parents, in Peabody, Massachusetts.

Smith: Where did you spend your youth?

Pandapas: In Peabody, eastern Massachusetts. I went to high school in Salem, Massachusetts. I studied architecture in Boston. I finished my architectural education in 1938.

Smith: Where did you go to school?

Pandapas: I went to a variety of schools. It was during the Depression that you may have read about. I had originally planned to study medicine as one of my favorite uncles had, but the Depression made that impossible. My second choice was to study architecture, and I did it on a rather informal freelance way. We didn't have enough money to enroll me in a university or college, so most of my work was done at night schools and the Boston architectural center, and working for architects in a way many people at that time got their architectural education. I finished my studies in 1938. Making a living in architecture during that period in Massachusetts was out of the question, so I went to a town in Pennsylvania that a couple of relatives indicated to me needed my type of service. I worked there a year. I did real well financially, but the state of Pennsylvania wouldn't let me take its architectural exams. It had a requirement that all applicants had to be residents of the state for five years before you could take the exam unless you were registered in some other state, which I wasn't. The year I spent in Pennsylvania was an unhappy one. I couldn't practice independently. I had to work for other architects who were registered, so I had a real incentive to leave Pennsylvania. I chose to come to Giles County. The Celanese Corporation had just started a new plant there, and had announced that within a period of ten years it would be employing some 35,000 people, which would have been a tremendous industry with, of course, a whole lot of growth in the community supporting it. Those plans never fully developed, but there was a minor boom until war broke out.

Smith: Were you married at this point?

Pandapas: No, I was still single and struggling to establish an architectural practice. I decided to specialize in low cost housing which most architects avoided. Providing affordable housing for low income people was a challenge. Designing a project, arranging its financing and organizing and managing a company to build it efficiently became a specialty. Since, there was an urgent need for low cost housing in Giles County at that time, I had several successful projects under way when World War II broke out. Since Giles County was declared a non-defense area all building activity was prohibited. Rather than dissolve my organization, I decided to move to Blacksburg which was the closest defense area because of its proximity to the Hercules Powder Plant some 14 miles away. I committed with the War Production Board to provide the same type housing I had built in Giles. My first project was Airport Acres for 60 houses.

Smith: So you supervised the building of these houses?

Pandapas: More than that. I designed the project, arranged its financing, built it with the same key people I had employed in Giles and managed the rental and eventual sale of these houses after the war ended.

Smith: Did you have your own General Contracting Company?

Pandapas: No. During the war, I limited myself to speculative low cost housing.

Smith: What was the name of your company?

Pandapas: Freedom Homes Incorporated. We incorporated for obvious purposes. We built 60 houses in Airport Acres.

Smith: Was this for people associated with Virginia Tech?

Pandapas: No, Virginia Tech was practically closed during the war. There was no school activity. They had one training program. An officer's training program that employed half a dozen instructors and probably, I'm guessing, fifty cadets; they were studying flying. They would take the flying lessons at the airport and study aeronautical engineering I guess. In any case, the college for all intents and purposes was closed.

Smith: What year did you start building Airport Acres?

Pandapas: 1942. The war broke out in 1941.

Smith: Where was it located?

Pandapas: Right next to the airport. Airport road adjoining Airport Acres.

Smith: Was the airport there?

Pandapas: Yeah.

Smith: The airport was located in the same place that it is located


Pandapas: Right, and Airport Acres is still there too

Smith: The housing that you built is still standing?

Pandapas: Oh yeah. They're over fifty years old, and in surprising good shape. I built them to rent for $45 a month...that sounds ludicrous now...or for sale if somebody wanted to buy for $4375 including the land. Now those houses today over fifty years later are selling for over ten times that. As a matter of fact the last sale I heard of was around $70,000, which is more than ten times what our corporation was selling them for when they were brand new.

Smith: Who lived in these houses?

Pandapas: Most of the first occupants were employees of the Hercules Powder Plant near Radford.

Smith: Isn't Airport Acres fairly far away from the Radford Arsenal?

Pandapas: Fourteen miles was considered reasonable commuting distance for those who preferred living in a college town rather than the industrialized area closer to the arsenal.

Smith: What was your personal situation like then? Were you still unmarried?

Pandapas: I had married in the meantime.

Smith: When did you marry?

Pandapas: We were married in September 1941, four months before war broke out. It was to Anne, still married to her.

Smith: What is her maiden name?

Pandapas: Harris. Anne Harris. She is originally from Boand Brook, New Jersey.

Smith: You also lived in Airport Acres...

Pandapas: We moved here into the first house I finished. We fell in love with the community. It was, as I said before a conservative college town. It didn't have any amenities as you would expect. There wasn't even a hotel or motel, a decent restaurant. There was one theater, three drug stores, two banks, and a filling station. It had a population of 1500 people. One square mile was the area. It was the size...probably smaller than Pembroke is now. If you're familiar with Giles County, you know how large Pembroke is. That's about what Blacksburg was like, but there were some permanent residents, faculty members of the university who were still connected with the university. Although they had no student body, they still maintained a nucleus of a faculty. They were nice gentle well educated people. Nice place to raise a family, and that's what attracted us in the first place and that's what has kept us here all our lives since. After I finished Airport Acres, I acquired what is now Highland Park. With the purpose of developing that into additional housing.

Smith: What year was that?

Pandapas: I bought the land in 1947, I think it was. Just shortly after I had finished...no, it was before that, it was 1945.

Smith: Veterans were coming on campus by that point?

Pandapas: Well, that was the reason why Airport Acres really succeeded. Just as the houses were being vacated by former employees of Hercules, who after the war moved back to wherever they came from, the houses were made available to instructors and other employees of the college.

Smith: This is the Airport Acres homes?

Pandapas: This is still Airport Acres we're talking about. In the meantime, I had developed a renewed interest in Giles County. After the war was over we could go back into building again. I started a project in Narrows called Highland Park.

Smith: In Narrows?

Pandapas: In Narrows. My first prewar project in Narrows was Colonial Heights. After the war, I developed Highland Park adjoining Colonial Heights. I also had an interest in Fort Branch, a housing development near the golf course in Pearisburg. But let's get back to Blacksburg. I had one development called Highland Park, a 133 acre project adjoining what is now the Blacksburg Municipal Golf Course. In the meantime, a company called Electro Tec came into the picture. My brother and I owned the company.

Smith: Your brother George? How did he get down to Blacksburg?

Pandapas: He never did get down here. During the war, he worked for Wright Aeronautical in New Jersey until he and a couple of his friends organized the Electro Tec Corporation just six months before the war ended. George managed this small company making a product that was useful during the war, but for which there was no need when the war ended.

Smith: What was that product?

Pandapas: They were electroplating slip rings for radar antennae. You probably know that radar antennae on ships and other devices keeps rotating. Well, it had to have slip rings to take that information that the antennae picks up and brings it on down to the computers where they use the information. His participation in this was electroplating of the radar slip rings.

Smith: Where was Electro-Tec located?

Pandapas: Well, it started out in a little town called Little Ferry adjoining Hackensack, New Jersey. In 1945 when the war ended, he called me and asked me to visit with him to help him solve what he called a business problem, and that's when I learned about the company. I didn't even know about his company before then. His partners wanted out. The war was over there was no more need for the product, and they wanted to get out. George wanted to buy his partners' interest in the company. He figured he would find some way to make it survive. If somehow he had the money to buy his partner's. That was the reason he called me.

Smith: He knew he needed to relocate?

Pandapas: No, he could stay in the New Jersey area. He wanted to. In the industrial area, there was an advantage to being there. To make a long story short, I wound up buying out the two partners and we became equal partners in what was then Electro-Tec Corporation. He ran that company for a period of about four years.

Smith: From what year to what year?

Pandapas: From 1945 through 1949 on a full time basis I visited two or three times a year. I installed a bookkeeping system and other fiscal and manufacturing controls, but all other management was by George. At first, he got into contract plating for other manufacturers but spent much of his spare time trying to develop a proprietary product we could manufacture. In 1949, he discovered a need for improved miniature slip ring assemblies used in navigational equipment such as gyroscopes, etc. Over the next year or so, he developed a proprietary process for the manufacture of miniature slip ring assemblies by an electro deposition process. The end products were an instant success with many important customers. My only contribution to this success was my insistence on patenting this process.

Smith: Would you say that this was the only facility that manufactured this type of slip ring?

Pandapas: When he introduced his first miniature slip ring assemblies, they got instant acceptance, because the product was an improvement over the assemblies that had been used up until that time. Within a very short period we had a virtual monopoly on slip rings.

Smith: At this point it was still located in New Jersey?

Pandapas: It was located in Little Ferry, New Jersey. After he introduced the product, the demand mushroomed, and we had to move out of that little shop we had in Little Ferry. We moved to Hackensack, and rented a place. Then we had to expand that several times within short periods. To make a long story short, the business just mushroomed. By this time, another war had started, the Korean situation. Mr. Truman called it a "Police Effort," but all of us knew it was a full fledged war that broke out in 1950. The military demand for the products our customers made mushroomed and of course Electro-Tec mushroomed too. The business grew so fast that it was necessary for me to devote half my time managing the business end of the expansion. George was a very good engineer, but he was not a businessman. By mutual agreement, I spent half my time in New Jersey managing the expansion. Until the Air Force got concerned that the sole manufacturer for miniature slip ring assemblies was in the vulnerable Hackensack area.

Smith: Vulnerable to attack?

Pandapas: If somehow the Chinese had gotten into the war, or if the Koreans had been able to attack us, then Hackensack would have been a vulnerable area. In any case, they wanted us to license people in less vulnerable areas, like Minnesota and Illinois. We weren't about to license anyone. We had a proprietary product, very profitable, and we weren't interested in doing that, so we compromised by building a second plant in Blacksburg.

Smith: What year was that?

Pandapas: This was in 1951. This plant happened to fit into one of my ambitions for Blacksburg.

Smith: What were your ambitions for Blacksburg?

Pandapas: For years, I recognized an urgent need for economic diversification. Like most college towns, V.P.I. domineered everything, politically, economically and in every other way. To protect its low cost maintenance labor monopoly, it discouraged other competing enterprises. This led to a stagnant economic situation which I had decided could be corrected only by attracting some additional industry to Blacksburg. Bringing an Electro Tec plant to Blacksburg was an opportunity for me to fulfill this ambition so I earned the distinction of bringing the first manufacturing industry to Blacksburg which has been a very attractive employer for the 46 years since. By that time, my brother and I had consolidated our business relationship by becoming equal partners in all our business enterprises, Electro Tec in New Jersey and Blacksburg and the three construction companies in Virginia.

Smith: Your brother still lived in New Jersey and you lived here?

Pandapas: My brother lived in New Jersey and I lived here, but I spent half my time in New Jersey until we started our division here in Blacksburg.

Smith: Was Route 81 constructed at that time the late 40's and early 50's?

Pandapas: No.

Smith: What route did you travel?

Pandapas: Route 11 to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; then a variety of other roads.

Smith: When did Route 81 make transportation better to this area?

Pandapas: That started in the '60's, if I remember correctly.

Smith: You brought the first industry to Blacksburg and your brother and you consolidated your business?

Pandapas: Consolidated all our business. We became equal partners you might say in all of our activities. Which worked out just fine except friction started as often happens to family businesses. There were conflicts. George, for the first time, began making what he called real money, and as often happens got dissatisfied with his family life and separated from his wife and three children.

Smith: Did you have any children by this time?

Pandapas: Oh yes, we had three daughters by this time.

Smith: Was that all the children you and Anne had together?

Pandapas: Yeah, that's right.

Smith: And your daughters names?

Pandapas: Kathryn, Virginia, and Beverly.

Smith: They grew up in Blacksburg?

Pandapas: They grew up in Blacksburg as we intended. Blacksburg was a nice place to raise a family. Still is.

Smith: I know.

Pandapas: You have a family here?

Smith: Yes. So, your brother separated from his family.

Pandapas: He divorced and married a girl some fifteen years younger than him. He was 35 and she was 20, and they went on an extensive honeymoon and he started neglecting his business.

Smith: About what year was this?

Pandapas: This was in 1952 and '53. As a result in March of 1953, we split up our partnership. I sold him my half interest in Electro-Tec and its subsidiary companies in Blacksburg. He sold me his half interest in the three other companies. Construction companies that I had operating at the same time.

Smith: In Blacksburg?

Pandapas: One in Blacksburg, and two in Giles County (one in Pearisburg and one in Narrows) .

Smith: You said you had a business called Freedom Homes Incorporated. What were the names of the other businesses?

Pandapas: We had different names for different projects. J.J. Pandapas and Associates was the main company, but then we had Gold Key Homes Inc., Fort Branch Inc., and others.

Smith: At the separation with your brother, you owned the construction businesses fully?

Pandapas: That's right. I bought his half interest in those three companies.

Smith: At that point you had no more connection to Electro-Tec?

Pandapas: Exactly right. I had originally expected that it would remain that way. I had no intention to go into competition with Electro-Tec.

Smith: Did you have any connection with Poverty Creek at this time?

Pandapas: Yeah, before bringing Electro-Tec to Blacksburg, I had bought this 500 acre track in the mountains between Brush mountain and Gap mountain.

Smith: What year did you purchase this land?

Pandapas: I think I bought that in 1948. I was buying underdeveloped land both here and Giles County. The purpose of my purchase of the Poverty Valley land was to get the timber. One of my operations had a sawmill to manufacture framing of my houses. I bought the land for its timber, but when we started Electro-Tec I had trouble attracting technically oriented people. There was nothing in Blacksburg to attract them.

Smith: Even people that might have been associated with the university, engineering students? What type of profession were you trying to attract?

Pandapas: The students at the university on the GI Bill were too preoccupied with their education to be available for the kind of talent we needed. We had to attract people from other developed areas.

Smith: How did you do that? How did you Advertise?

Pandapas: We didn't advertise. We depended on word of mouth. In any case, my thought was to develop what is now Pandapas Pond as a recreational area as an incentive for the future employees of Electro-Tec. It worked well. I don't know how many people it helped attract, but the employees of Electro-Tec who had exclusive use of the pond and surrounding area for hunting and fishing really enjoyed it.

Smith: There was fishing. Did people hunt?

Pandapas: Yeah, they had their picnics there and we had a boat on it, a rowboat. In any case, it was especially built for the private recreation for Electro-Tec employees.

Smith: How did you keep other people from the area?

Pandapas: We fenced it and put a gate on the road.

Smith: Do you think this was a good inducement for Electro-Tec?

Pandapas: It undoubtedly helped attract some people, but in any case we restricted the use for Electro-Tec employees. Then when I sold my interest in Electro-Tec, I retained the title to the 500 acres, which included the pond, together with the three other businesses we discussed.

Smith: Did you spend a lot of time there too? Did you enjoy spending time at Poverty Pond as I know you called it then?

Pandapas: Well, I didn't have much time, I was a busy bee at that time. Especially after I started Poly-Scientific.

Smith: In 1952 or '53, you were no longer involved with Electro-Tec?

Pandapas: 1953. Almost immediately thereafter, I started a competing company called Poly- Scientific Corporation.

Smith: So it was competing with Electro-Tec?

Pandapas: It eventually competed with Electro-Tec. This is a history of Poly-Scientific.

Smith: You just gave me a book entitled Early History of Poly-Scientific by its Founder James J. Pandapas.

Pandapas: I'm going to loan it to you. On what ever value it might be to you. You're perfectly welcome to scan it, read it, study it, or do what you like.

Smith: Get a copy of it for the library, wonderful.

Pandapas: It wasn't meant for public consumption. It was meant for the employees of Poly- Scientific.

Smith: For the sake of our interview could you explain to me what was the business of Poly- Scientific?

Pandapas: Poly-Scientific was actually organized to do research and development work including researching the Inertial Guidance field to develop an alternate method for manufacturing slip ring assemblies. That was the product that Electro-Tec was famous for. Electro-Tec had a patent on its process and were having a very lucrative business. To make a long story short, Poly-Scientific succeeded beyond my wildest dreams you might say. It created problems. Electro-Tec felt offended and questioned our right to be in business.

Smith: Electro-Tec meaning your brother?

Pandapas: Brother, right. He owned Electro-Tec 100% at that time. Poly-Scientific had to defend a lawsuit that challenged our right to be in business.

Smith: What year was that?

Pandapas: I believe the lawsuit was tried in 1955 or 1956. I am not quite sure. We successfully defended our right to be in business and to compete because we proved that Poly-Scientific did not use the patented Electro-Tec manufacturing process.

Smith: You did not use Electro-Tec's process?

Pandapas: It was alleged that we had copied their process, but that wasn't true, and we were able to prove that it wasn't true.

Smith: Now where was Poly-Scientific located?

Pandapas: Let me have that booklet. I will show you a picture. We started out on College Avenue.

Smith: College Avenue? Near the Lyric Theatre?

Pandapas: Almost adjoining the Lyric.

Smith: Did you design any of the buildings for Electro-Tec and Poly-Scientific?

Pandapas: Yes. I designed both of them. There is the original storefront that Poly-Scientific used to start with. If you look at it carefully you see the sign Poly-Scientific. That is now the copying place, Kinko's. That's where we started, but before we built the new plant we were in four different locations. We had expanded rapidly after we got over the hump, so to speak, until we built the new plant, which was built in 1959. We moved into it in 1959.

Smith: Where was this new plant located?

Pandapas: Poly-Scientific? Where it is now.

Smith: On North Main Street. You really didn't speak much about Highland Park. Were your dealings with Highland Park over with then?

Pandapas: When I got involved with Electro-Tec I just didn't have the resources at the time to concentrate on developing, but we did offer to sell some land. We sold some individual lots. Then after I sold my interest in Electro-Tec, I reactivated one of my construction companies and we started building speculative houses. We built a bunch of houses in Highland Park. You might say the start of the projects.

Smith: Were these houses architect designed or custom made?

Pandapas: They were architecturally designed and built. They were still low cost housing to start with. Eventually, higher priced housing was built by others after I sold my interest in the land.



Pandapas: Where were we?

Smith: You were talking about Highland Park.

Pandapas: And other housing projects. As I had mentioned before Fort Branch, Pearisburg and Highland Park, Narrows.

Smith: But you said that in the 1950's you were very preoccupied with Electro-Tec and Poly- Scientific.

Pandapas: After I started the plants here in Blacksburg.

Smith: The plant of Electro-Tec or Poly-Scientific?

Pandapas: At first, I managed the subsidiary of Electro-Tec in Blacksburg and the business affairs of the parent company in Hackensack, New Jersey. I was commuting between the two. I would spend a week in Hackensack then a week in Blacksburg.

Smith: Where were you living at this point? Were you in this residence that we are at now?

Pandapas: No, we had already built a home in Highland Park.

Smith: What was the address of that?

Pandapas: Here's a picture of it. That was our home on Country Club Drive, in 1952. They started a retirement home in 1982, some thirty years later, but that's another story. As Poly-Scientific prospered I lost interest in and really had no time to devote to these other companies, and I simply spun them off to former employees and concentrated on Poly- Scientific. I did most of the promotional work, handled management, did a lot of travel, and just didn't have time for anything or anybody but Poly-Scientific. I was determined for us to make it a success, and it became a success beyond my fondest dreams. In the meantime, we were raising a family. We had three daughters. They were going through growing pains, high school and college.

Smith: Did any of your daughters go to Virginia Tech?

Pandapas: One of my daughters who had graduated Ohio University later took post graduate work at V.P.I. where she got her master's degree. That was the only daughter who attended VPI as a graduate student. The point I was getting to was that I kept a low profile in the community, and concentrated on my business and my family. I turned down opportunities to serve on other company boards. I was invited to join the board of directors of both, but I turned both down.

Smith: Were you involved in a church in town?

Pandapas: I am known as a non-believer in organized religion, but my wife and children attended the Episcopal church and Sunday school during our children's' formative years. I had given them the choice of which religious philosophy they wanted to pursue. Incidentally, they all choose to become devout Christians. In addition to my lack of organized church activity. I also refused to become involved in other community activities such as Civic Clerk and Chamber of Commerce as well as invitations to join the Boards of local banks or to take part in any town or county political activity. I just reserved all of my energy for my business activity and family. This left me free to publicly oppose anything that I didn't believe was in the best interest of the community. For example, at one time, the president of the Chamber of Commerce proposed borrowing money to build a shell building to attract a blouse manufacturing company to Blacksburg. I was convinced that the needle trade was not for Blacksburg. The reputation of the needle trade was that companies would move into whatever community would grant them incentives such as tax abatement, free rent, free utilities, etc. When the incentives expired, they would move to whatever other community repeated the inducements leaving the former community with obsolete buildings and troubled unemployed workers. I tried to convince this man that such a low profit industry would be a liability in the long run, but he was not convinced. His argument was "Jim, we have poor people living in and around Blacksburg who don't qualify for employment at Electro- Tec or Poly-Scientific and they have to make a living too." He was right of course, but I insisted we had to look at the long range considerations. We would be inviting the kind of economic problems our community should avoid. The project was resolved when the banks learned of my objections and refused to make the loan to build the proposed shell building. The president of the Chamber didn't speak to me as long as he lived.

Smith: What was his name?

Pandapas: I would prefer not to bring his name into it. His widow is still living and one of his children is a very successful businessman in the community and I would prefer not to enrage them. In any case, it was short-sighted of him. Eventually, I was told he conceded that I was right. The company he hoped to attract went to a little town in North Carolina, stayed there three years then moved to South Carolina to another community that offered similar inducements, and that's how these marginal companies survived. They would go to a community that needed industry and negotiate these incentives, tax abatement, free utilities, and other inducements. This was one case where I felt I had to take an unpopular stand. Fortunately, I was independent of what most people thought. I really didn't care as long as I was convinced I was doing the right thing for my community. While on this subject, I believe I should be remembered for keeping a cement company out of Montgomery County.

Smith: What was your objection to a cement company?

Pandapas: The main thing was the inevitable blight on the environment. Cement dust in the air would simply be unacceptable to Poly-Scientific of which I was President and Electro- Tec and indeed the future of Blacksburg's hope of attracting additional high technology industries. Let me describe the situation. This was in 1965. I had sold Poly-Scientific to Litton Industries some three years before and I had signed a contract to manage the company for six years ending in 1968. It was during this period that the Louisville Cement Company proposed to build the largest cement plant in the world in the Ellett Valley. They had analyzed the limestone deposits in the valley and found them ideal for the manufacture of cement. As you know, the area north of the Roanoke river and between Luster's Gate and the N & W Railroad, a distance of several miles has outcropping of these limestone deposits which could be economically quarried for may decades. After a thorough study of all the factors, the cement company employed a real estate agent in Roanoke to quietly buy options on all the farm land involved, several farms totaling some 1200 acres at a price per acre about twice the then market value for such marginal farm land. In 1965, they exercised their options to purchase the land and announced its intent in a very carefully planned program to generate the enthusiastic support of everyone concerned. They made the announcement in a joint meeting of the Board of Supervisors and the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce to which only prospective supporters and the press were invited. The Board of Supervisors went on unanimous record for enthusiastic support. They were, of course, favorably persuaded by the revenue the multi-million dollar plant would produce in real estate taxes. The Board of the Chamber of Commerce were enthusiastic about the economic impact of the project during the construction phase and the operational payroll when the plant went into production. The N & W Railroad and the Electric Power Co. were supportive because of the revenue increases the plant would generate. But the Public Relations people of the Cement Company who had carefully planned the announcement made a tactical mistake. Nobody in Blacksburg was invited to the meeting when their grandiose announcement was made. As you know, Ellett Valley is just east of Blacksburg which would be most affected by such a cement plant. The College Administration, the Town Council, the Blacksburg Chamber of Commerce were naturally offended by being left out of the announcement meeting but for reasons of their own chose not to publicly object to the project which had so much support by the Christiansburg, County and State political and business leaders. I was appalled. For one reason, part of the land in question backed up on Highland park, one of my former housing projects. Although I had no legal responsibility to the home- owners of highland park, I felt a moral responsibility that these people not wind up in the back yard of a cement company. Even more important to me was the realization that Poly-Scientific and Electro Tec couldn't tolerate the inevitable air pollution the cement plant would generate. I tried to organize opposition to the project but was unsuccessful. At first, it appeared that my position was hopeless. For example, Dr. Hahn, president of V.P.I. and a close personal associate was sympathetic with my position, but was prohibited by Virginia State policy from taking any public position on such controversial matters. The town Council and the Board of directors of the Chamber of Commerce felt that I had exaggerated the adverse effects and a few questioned my selfish motivation in objecting to potential economic competition. The general feeling in town seemed to be that some of the poor people of Blacksburg would benefit by employment at the cement plant since they didn't know how to do anything else. I was able to convince Marshall Hahn that the County Board of Supervisors should prepare an ordinance controlling air environment, anti-pollution ordinance that the cement company could not tolerate. He did undertake that and had several meetings proposing anti-pollution ordinance, which never did pass. To make a long story short the fight had to be mine, nobody would help me. As a matter of fact I made a lot of enemies of business people who stood to profit and people who had adjoining down in the valley who were going to benefit from the development. As I say I took it upon myself to fight it every way I could. For example, I took out full-page ads in the newspaper arguing against it. I was able to convince Marshall Hahn that the County Board of Supervisors should prepare an ordinance controlling air environment, anti- pollution that the cement company could not tolerate. He did undertake that and had several meetings proposing anti-pollution ordinance, which never did pass. To make a long story short the fight had to be mine, nobody would help me. As a matter of fact I made a lot of enemies of business people who stood to profit and people who had adjoining land down in the valley who were going to benefit from the development. As I say I took it upon myself to fight it I took out full-page ads in the newspaper arguing against it.

Smith: Now you're showing me a copy of the Blacksburg News and the date is April 8, 1965. There's an article entitled "Air pollution Issue Discussed."

Pandapas: Here is a map of it. Here is Blacksburg and here is the land they had acquired. All the way from Luster's Gate down to the railroad. It's a distance of several miles.

Smith: There is an ad entitled "Montgomery County at the Crossroads" and it is a full newspaper page and signed by you, James J. Pandapas, President Poly-Scientific.

Pandapas: Here is an article, part of the Roanoke Times.

Smith: This is 1966.

Pandapas: We were still fighting. It took me over a year to kill the project.

Smith: You gave me a newspaper clipping from Friday, April 22, 1966 with an article that says, "Plant Head Says Pollution Could Cause Firm to Move".

Pandapas: Everything in that article war true, but few believed it. This and other efforts to generate support for my concern about the future of Blacksburg simply failed. It soon became obvious to me that I would have to fight that battle alone. No one in Blacksburg really wanted the cement plant but no one was willing to join the effort to kill it. No one publicly supported my position or offered to help pay for these ads and other expenses. Finally, one of my tactics got the attention of the cement company. In an open letter to the President of the cement company, I explained why I objected to his plans, that Blacksburg simply couldn't tolerate the pollution his proposed cement plant would generate. To emphasize my point, I revealed that I had made a grant to a lab at V.P.I. to record the daily dust count of the air before the plant was built and after. For everyday the operation of the plant generated dust in excess of the recorded average pre-plant dust count, I would enter a lawsuit for damages such as the adverse effect on real estate values, loss of industries forced to move, etc. The result was a call from the president of the cement company.

Smith: When was this call?

Pandapas: In 1966. He introduced himself as Mr. Martin, president of the Louisville Cement Company and former dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Business. He had just finished talking to Roy Ashe, president of Litton Industries, the parent company of Ply- Scientific. Roy had been one of his former students at Harvard. He told Roy that Jim Pandapas, president of Litton's Poly-Scientific division, led a campaign against his proposed cement plant, ostensibly because he feared that Poly-Scientific couldn't tolerate the potential air pollution. But his objections were unfair. He explained that the cement plant he proposed would be of the latest technological design with a 100% dust collection system. He had asked Roy Ashe to introduce him to Jim Pandapas and ask him to listen to reason. Mr. Ashe told him it would be against Litton policy to interfere but that Jim Pandapas was a reasonable guy and suggested he call me. Mr. Martin contrived that he understood my concern and was calling to assure me that I had nothing to worry about, and that he would guarantee that Poly-Scientific would not be adversely affected. He wasn't asking me to take his word for that and offered to send his executive aircraft to Blacksburg to pick me up and any other concerned person I chose and fly us to one of his plants in Ohio that had the same dust collection system he proposed for the Virginia plant. I thanked him for his offer and then told him I had already flown over this plant and had photographs of the blighted countryside the plant had caused. I told him I was preparing to include these pictures in my next newspaper ad to disprove his claim that his proposed plant would be dust free. His explanation was that what I had seen was the result of an unfortunate accident some months ago to the dust bagging system, that the accident had since been repaired and that the system was back in 100% operation. I told him that this is not what I had found. I had written statements from property owners as far as 15 miles away about the damage to their properties. "Well, Mr. Pandapas," Mr. Martin contrived, "it appears you have done your homework and have a closed mind. I believe your objections are unreasonable, that the economic advantages of our plant would outweigh any possible disadvantages, but let me tell you something, my company doesn't want to go where it is not wanted. Had we anticipated your kind of sophisticated objections, we wouldn't have become interested in locating a plant there. But now, we have a large investment in the project. We paid fancy prices for the land that isn't worth anything except as a quarry for the plant." I replied that I understood his problem but how would he feel if I offered to buy the land for whatever it cost him. His answer was that Litton would never approve that kind of a deal. I replied that Litton would not be asked to approve. I had financed my objections personally and if he'd agree to sell me the land for what the records showed they paid for it, I would buy and pay for it personally. That should show him how sincere I was in my objections. His response was completely unexpected. He asked if I would let him consult with his Board of Directors and get back to me. I, of course, agreed. The next day, he called and said that if I would pay them what they had paid for the land and agree that the land would never be sold to a competing cement company, the Board would agree to the sale. The price he quoted agreed exactly with the total of the recorded deeds. That's the end of the cement plant story. I had my attorney prepare the deed and agreement and he flew to Louisville with a certified check and closed the deal.

Smith: You bought the land along Luster's Gate?

Pandapas: From Luster's Gate down to the railroad, 1200 acres and I paid twice as much as farm land was worth at the time.

Smith: This was originally farm land? There were no residences?

Pandapas: Twelve different farms. Yeah there was a farm or two that has a house on it.

Smith: But not the Country Club?

Pandapas: No, no, no. This was before the Country Club was located there.

Smith: So you purchased the land?

Pandapas: We purchased the land to keep the Louisville Cement Company out of Montgomery County. For people to remember me for the puddle between the mountains is kind of ironic. If I should be remembered for anything it's for my keeping a needle trade plant out of Blacksburg or a cement company out of Ellett Valley. I didn't seek public credit for these then and I don't want it now. It is ironic though that you're remembered for something as insignificant as a puddle between the mountains. I submit that I had done other very creative things for the town that my wife and I decided would be our hometown the rest of our lives. We have lived here ever since. When I leave it, the town will be somewhat better than I found it.

Smith: Tell me, what did you do with that land? What happened after that?

Pandapas: Eventually, we subdivided it. Woodland Hills Estates is part of it. Have you ever been down there?

Smith: In that area? Yes.

Pandapas: Opposite the entrance to the golf club. That's the land I'm talking about. Then later on I lost the land I had not developed. That's another story. Some of my latest enterprises were not as successful as my earlier ones. Eventually, I experienced a business failure, which was my last enterprise.

Smith: Now, you're not talking about Poly-Scientific?

Pandapas: No, I'm talking about National Scientific Industries, which was stationed in Christiansburg.

Smith: That is the title of the company?

Pandapas: That is the name of the company that eventually failed. It was an equal partnership with the former president of Inland Motor Co. of Radford, Virginia, which was and still is a division of the Rallmorgan Corporation.

Smith: About what year was this?

Pandapas: We started the company in 1981 and it failed in 1985. Besides this business failure, the only one in a long business career, there were many other enterprises between my Poly-Scientific days which ended in 1968 and 1985 when I was forced to declare International Scientific Industries a failure. If this interview was for a biographical record of my business career, I would be happy to give you the details of these exciting enterprises, but since all but me of them was outside Blacksburg, they would be meaningless in this interview. Briefly they represented sort of a hobby I had developed of discovering companies about to fail, buying control and turning them around.

Smith: For the record, what were the names of these companies?

Pandapas: Four of them are worth mentioning. The most important one was the K.D.I. Corporation of Cincinnati, Ohio; the former industrial division of the Gruen Watch Company. After I turned it around, I sold control to former associates who went in to make it an extremely successful conglomerate in the late 1960's. One detail of local interest was that Electro Tec was one of its earliest acquisitions. The second most important turn-around situation was the Graflo Rubber Co. of Radford, Virginia which was eventually merged with the Brad Reagan Rubber Co. of North Carolina which division still survives and presently prospers. Another acquisition was the failing Aerospace Research Corporation of Roanoke, Virginia which I eventually sold back to the two founders of the company. The last I heard, this company is still owned by one of the founders and the widow of the other founder. The fourth company was Inland Communications which I eventually sold to the K.D.I. Corporation. It was located in Huntington, West Virginia and was engaged in manufacturing radio communication equipment for the tug-boat industry on the Ohio River system.


Pandapas: I think of interest would be another controversial position that I undertook in my business career in Blacksburg. At one time I was convinced that this feud between Blacksburg and Christiansburg was destructive and unnecessary and it was really foolish. I don't know if you've been here long enough to realize it, but there is this very competitiveness feeling between the two communities. At that time it was a whole lot worse. People in Christiansburg supposedly didn't like the people of Blacksburg. They considered them a bunch of educated snobs, and the sophisticated people of Blacksburg looked on their country cousins as country bumpkins. In any case, they couldn't get together on things that they should have cooperated on. They competed with each other in a ridiculous way. My theory was that this destructive attitude had to be corrected and my proposal for correcting it was consolidating Christiansburg, Blacksburg, and Montgomery County into one political entity that I had nicknamed Montgomery City. By consolidating the three political entities into one we would be able to do things that were impossible or impractical under the present...so I started a drive to sell the idea of consolidation and this is a...

Smith: He is showing me now a piece from a newspaper, from the News Messenger dated October 9, 1969. The article is entitled," Pandapas Statement on Consolidation."

Pandapas: That was another frustrating subject. I was never able to sell it, but I tried awfully hard. I submit that it would have solved an awful lot of problems had I been successful. I'll loan you that too, and I hope you will return all of this because I only have one copy of each. Here's another newspaper article. This is February 28, 1988. Several pages about my career, and my position on several subjects including consolidation. I'll loan you that too for whatever help that might be.

Smith: Right now we're at the end of the 1960's and you're no longer affiliated with Litton Poly-Scientific?

Pandapas: Right, and I was preoccupied with turning around Graflo Rubber Company, and another company that had been started in Christiansburg called the Polytron Corporation of America which was a plastics company. I got involved in trying to develop it, but was still restless for some of the big time activity that I had become accustomed to, if you know what I mean.

Smith: You're in your mid 50's by this time?

Pandapas: Actually, when I started my last company I was 65. The President of Inland Motor Company...a very well respected manufacturer in Radford had left his company, and he proposed we start a competing company. His reputation as President of Inland Motor Company was very impressive. He had done a big job, and I had every right to assume that he would continue doing a good job with another company. So we started a company called International Scientific Industries to manufacture DC torque motors. They're very technically oriented devices again used by the sophisticated navigational industry. To make a long story short, he was the biggest disappointment in my life. He had been President and very successful of a company that had been founded and matured by the founder and he took over of an established company. Well organized and well matured so to speak, but on the start up situation he was a complete disappointment and the company failed. So I of course had financed the start of the company and its operation losses. We hadn't even gotten near the break even point when he decided to quit, give up, do something else, and left me holding the bag so to speak. So I hired people to replace what he was supposed to be doing, but that didn't work out. To make a long story short, that was the end of my career, and it ended in failure. We lost everything I had accumulated over a lifetime of hard work. Even our home. We've rented this place where we have lived ever since.

Smith: What year was this?

Pandapas: 1985. We actually closed the operation in 1986, but we did pay off every employee with full payment. Paid all of our taxes and all of our bills. Nobody lost money on it except myself. I had endorsed all of the money we had borrowed for the company, so there was no way in the world I could avoid failure. At that time I settled with the banks in various ways. I settled with one bank by deeding them the residue of the land I had in Ellett Valley. Land I had not sold in a development. I settled with another bank by deeding them the home we had built. A very nice retirement home. In any case we were able to settle with all of our creditors, and as I said before we're the only ones who suffered, money-wise. At least we maintained our reputation for integrity. I guess I have to be content with that. That's all we have left. That didn't hurt Blacksburg in any way. In addition to what I already mentioned, I helped attract the Corning Glass Company when they were prospecting various communities for the plant they eventually built between here and Christiansburg, which is now in Christiansburg by the way. I invited them to visit with me at Poly-Scientific, and I showed them my performance record.

Smith: What year was this?

Pandapas: I'd say 1963 or 64. I was running Poly-Scientific for Litton Industries at that time. I showed them my production record. They were so impressed that I think it contributed to the decision to locate a plant here. I pointed out the advantages to being located so close to VPI. A source for their technical personnel, and they did. They located here and they operated from, I'm guessing, ten years and suddenly they quit. Closed the plant, and the plant stayed out three or four years until the reopened it a couple of years ago with a new product, but the original decision to come here I helped induce. I helped convince Marshall Hahn that VPI ought to sponsor an industrial development area. I tried to get him to start a research park. I was unsuccessful on the research end of it. The research hasn't started until after Marshall Hahn left and his successor was able to get the research park started, which is going to be a big asset to Blacksburg. As far as the industrial development was concerned a place where an industry interested in locating in Blacksburg could find it convenient to locate to a place that had water and sewer services and other services that are needed by industries making that kind of a move. So he convinced the Alumni Association to buy the land that is now part of Blacksburg Industrial Park, where there are several very good companies. It is on the left hand side of Route 460 going towards Christiansburg.

Smith: It's right across from the Corning plant?

Pandapas: It's before you get that far. It's this side. It's in the corporate limits of Blacksburg.

Smith: Where the mall is? In the area where the New River Valley mall is?

Pandapas: No, before you get that far. How can I describe it to you? I could name the companies that are located there. Federal Mogul built on this land. There's a gasket company. I'm ashamed to say I forgot the name of it, but in any case there are a half a dozen very nice companies located on what was the Industrial Park. That was owned by the Alumni Association, which the law permitted to own and develop. The college couldn't do it because it violated state law, but there was nothing to prohibit the Alumni Association from doing it. Marshall Hahn convinced the Alumni Association that they ought to make this investment. They did. They bought the land. They'd been selling it off, at a profit I might add, even since, which has contributed to the development and further diversification of the economy of Blacksburg. So I take a little credit for selling that concept that led into further development there are other little things that I feel I have contributed to Blacksburg, since I had adopted the town as my hometown. We've lived here since 1943, when we moved into the first house finished in Airport Acres. Then moved to Highland Park when I built a home there. We moved from that into an apartment complex that I had built called Windsor Hills, 300 unit, that was one of my projects. Managing that complex proved to be a disappointment, so my wife and I decided that we would take two apartments and convert them into a luxury one apartment, which we did. I could live there and sort of help in the management of the project. We lived there for ten years.

Smith: You lived in Windsor Hills for ten years?

Pandapas: When I finally sold Windsor Hills we built our retirement home. I showed you a picture of that.

Smith: That was on Tall Oaks Drive?

Pandapas: Yes, it was in Tall Oaks Drive of Hethwood. We built it at the same time Mr. Howlett and I were organizing International Scientific Industries which eventually failed some five years later. Since I had personally guaranteed all the liabilities of this company, we lost everything we had accumulated over a lifetime of success including this home. Now 75 years old and in poor health, I just wasn't able to save the company as I have already described, but this in no way adversely affected Blacksburg which this interview is all about. This unhappy episode late in my business career had not diminished the pride I privately feel for the many contributions I made toward helping make Blacksburg the attractive town it is today. I have never sought public credit or even recognition for these contributions and I don't seek them now, but since this interview is for the record. I hope you can forgive the implied immodesty in describing my career. During my entire career, I tried to maintain a low profile and simply concentrated on managing my various enterprises. For example, I didn't participate in town politics, but encouraged my associates and subordinates to be active in all town activities. One served on the town council for years and was vice-mayor for one town. He also served on the boards of our leading bank, Chamber of Commerce, etc. but this isn't important for your article.

Smith: As I told you I'm interviewing you just to have this interview as part of the archives in the library. I'm not going to be writing an article interpreting your ...

Pandapas: It's not a biography particularly I would hope it's not a personal biography of Jim Pandapas.

Smith: It will be part of our manuscript collection. The oral history.

Pandapas: Is this possibly connected with the bicentennial plan for next year.

Smith: I'm trying to get as much information about Blacksburg and the people who helped form Blacksburg.

Pandapas: In my view, there is one man that I think I would have to give most credit for the most recent development of Blacksburg, and that's John Barringer, who was Mayor of the town for some 35 years.

Smith: From what year to what year?

Pandapas: He was Mayor when I came here in 1942, and he was mayor when I sold Poly- Scientific and for many years after that. I think he was Mayor for 35 years.

Smith: So into the 1970's?

Pandapas: Yeah, maybe even 80's. John was a completely dedicated man he was a professor at the college at the school of business administration, but his main interest in life besides his family was the town of Blacksburg and he devoted countless hours with no compensation. For many years he didn't even draw a salary as Mayor. He actually officiated during the expansion of the town, which coincided with the expansion of VPI. The expansion of VPI put tremendous responsibilities on the town. It had to grow. It had to offer a lot of services that it had never been prepared to offer, enlarged police department, fire department, and all the other services. One other contribution that I should take credit for is the development of the Blacksburg, Christiansburg, VPI Water Authority. In the 50's, when I was concerned with developing Highland Park for example, Blacksburg had a water problem. Its source of water was the wells down in Ellett Valley, and they pumped this into a reservoir still located on Highland Park. You may have seen the reservoir there. From there distributed by gravity to the Blacksburg customers, but then during dry spells we had water shortages. You couldn't wash your car. You couldn't water your lawn or your shrubbery. VPI started having its water problems. It depended on artesian wells that were actually drilled on the campus for their water supply, but then when the water table fell they were in a serious problem. The town proposed to solve its problem by going to the branch of the Roanoke River down in Ellett Valley. The north branch, and they bought some land down there with hope of building a water treatment plant. VPI was planning to drill more artesian wells. Neither solution was ideal. My proposal was that VPI and Blacksburg ought to get together and a joint project go to the New River for the unlimited source of water. We could have gone down Prices Fork Road and put in a treatment plant and serve all of the needs of Blacksburg and VPI forever. Just about that time the State of Virginia Legislature passed a bill authorizing the development of authorities, such as I envisioned. That made it possible to develop an authority with the specific purpose of furnishing services to communities like the Blacksburg-VPI- Christiansburg Water Authority now does. It has three customers Blacksburg, VPI, and the town of Christiansburg. They in turn sell the water that they buy from the authority to any customers on their lines. Christiansburg got in on a deal for reasons that are vague now in my mind but in any case at one time there was going to be three entities were going to form this separate authority, raise the revenue bonds necessary to build the facilities, a water plant and so forth, and then sell water to VPI, Blacksburg, and Christiansburg. Getting that organized and approved took many hours of lobbying, and trying to convince people that...the authority had to borrow some 15 million dollars to build a water treatment plant and the lines to the three entities that were their customers and there were a lot of people against borrowed money. They didn't want the communities to underwrite the bond issues. They just didn't believe in debt. They believed in pay as you go, which is a wonderful philosophy if you can afford it, but it would have been impossible for Blacksburg or VPI or the land between here and Christiansburg to develop without this water authority. If Christiansburg had gone its way with its artesian wells and VPI had gone its way with its additional wells, Blacksburg had gone to North Fork of the Roanoke River with its limited supply, then the development of all three of these would have been stagnated. It just took a dynamic approach to solve those problems which serendipitously contributed to the development of VPI, Blacksburg, and the land between here and Christiansburg and much of what is now Christiansburg. I feel proud of the concept that this entity could be developed to provide this resource. I know you're bound to have a bunch of questions so why don't we devote the rest of the interview to answering whatever questions you...

Smith: You've pretty much answered all my questions. You've gone through chronologically of your life. I know you're chagrined that Pandapas Pond seems to be the only thing you're...

Pandapas: Really it was not chagrin. I thought it was simply ironic. Let's put it that way. That it was one of my lesser projects you might say.

Smith: Just briefly, if you could tell me. How did that become part of the national forest?

Pandapas: That happened after I sold my interest in Poly-Scientific, up until then the employees of Poly-Scientific had exclusive use of the pond and the land for hunting and fishing.

Smith: At that point it was called Poverty Pond?

Pandapas: No by that time it had been named Pandapas Pond, without my knowledge. I mean it was a private reserve and we called it Poverty Pond. It wasn't published as such. It wasn't used except by the employees of Electro-Tec and then Poly-Scientific, but when I sold Poly-Scientific I had no interest for keeping a private reserve anymore, so I decided to open it to the public. We removed the fences and the gates and opened to the public. That turned out to be an unhappy development. People started having their all night drinking parties, beer parties. So I would have to send a truck up to pick up the beer cans and trash. It became a nuisance in other words, and I couldn't police it. I had no interest in policing it, and when the national forest indicated an interest in it I was impressed with the possibilities. To make another long story short, I was invited to the dedication of the Cascades. A resort in Giles County, and they had done a lot of improvements at that time and they were dedicating the improvements. So, they invited my wife and me to the ceremonies and we went. They had a purpose in doing this. They wanted to get me to a captive audience to an argument that I ought to consider selling 500 acres and including the pond to the National Forest. The Jefferson National Forest owned land surrounding two thirds of the 500 acres that I owned and they pointed out to me that Montgomery County didn't have a national park. Where as Giles County, half the size, had three. This was the last chance they thought for Montgomery County to get a national park. If I would sell them the land ... First, I offered to give them the land if they would make a lot of improvements comparable to the improvements they had made to the Cascades; they could make it an attraction for the people of Montgomery County. We would just give them the land, and they would make these improvements and have a perpetual park. Then I wanted to make the deed conditional that part of the consideration was that they were going to do these things that they had indicated to me that they had planned to do. Put in sanitary facilities. Put in a water supply. There was no domestic water supply, and stock it with game fish. Build a road or improve the road, enlarge the parking area, and to designate a certain area for campers to located and presumably spend their entire vacation. In any case, my wife and I decided we would give it to them, but then when I told them the terms they pointed out that the government will not accept a deed to land with any conditions. It had to be what they call fee simple with no strings attached. So, instead of giving it to them we decided to sell it to them for what it cost me some thirty five years before. For what we paid for it originally and the cost of the improvements.

Smith: What year did you sell it to them?

Pandapas: Let me guess ten years ago. It's been about ten years.

Smith: So it was about thirty five years that you had it.

Pandapas: That's right. They were delighted to have it. Particularly since there were no restrictions on the deed, and they didn't have to do what they promised they were going to do. Mr. Wampler, who was then the representative in the U.S. House of Representatives, was out of Bristol, and he represented this area, Giles, Montgomery.

Smith: William Wampler?

Pandapas: Yeah, you know of him?

Smith: We have his papers in the Special Collections Department at the library.

Pandapas: He was master of ceremonies at this dedication at the Cascades. He was sincere in what he told me the forest department would do. Further verification was the chief forest manager or officer of the Jefferson National Forest was located here in Blacksburg. I mean he had an office here, and he had made this special commitment. He wanted this done, and he had a personal interest in it. As the devil would have it, in less than a year after I sold it to them he was transferred to place in North Carolina. Then I heard unhappily some couple of years later that he died of a heart attack. Here's the main man making these promises, verbal promises, and a U.S. Congressman who was not re-elected. There was no way in the world for me to enforce the development that they had promised. It's only now that they are beginning to catch up with some of the things. They put in a sanitary facility, a toilet and such, and they did improve the parking lots, enlarged the parking lot. They improved the entrance. The road leading into it is an improvement over what I had built. When I built that road 460 was just a two lane highway. Then when they divided the highway the entrance to the pond property was dangerous. Particularly, going from Blacksburg you have to cross over and it was an unattractive entrance. Well they have improved that by moving it down to the intersection with the road leading into Poverty Valley or Poverty Creek. They have done that, and there are plans I'm told to build a larger pond downstream of Pandapas Pond. A forty-five acre pond, whereas Pandapas Pond is about 8 acres, so this is going to be a pond over five times as large or six times as large downstream. After they had done this they were going to open it up for international Representourists to make it a tourist attraction for mobile homes and recreational vehicles, and they were going to put in other improvements; they were going to build a museum. Eventually, the entire area should be improved and made a permanent attraction to the community. I'm not ashamed of Pandapas Pond, but I consider it one of my lesser noteworthy contributions to the area, but that's neither here nor there. Do you have any other questions? If any appear to you as you get into this I will be happy to answer any questions you might have but I hope the article is objective rather than biographical. OK.


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