Interview with Pierce Bounds, ‘71

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The following oral history transcript is a digitally recorded interview with Pierce Bounds, Dickinson alum and Class of 1971. The interview took place at his office in Carlisle, Pennsylvania on November 28, 2007. The interview was conducted by Ricardo Velez Jr., an American Studies Major at Dickinson College.


MR. VELEZ: This is Ricardo Velez. It is November 28, 2007. The time is currently 3:05 p.m. I am at 50 Mooreland Avenue and I am interviewing Mr. Pierce Bounds, Class of ’71. First of all Mr. Bounds, I wanted to thank you for allowing me this opportunity to interview you.

MR. BOUNDS: You’re welcome.

MR. VELEZ: First of all, can you start off and describe your current position here at Dickinson?

MR. BOUNDS: I am the college photographer. I work out of the Office of College Relations. I’ve photographed primarily for college publications on the website, but basically anybody… Mermaid players, Dance Theatre Group, Trout Gallery, you name it. So I do a lot of different things.

MR. VELEZ: How long have you been the college photographer?

MR. BOUNDS: Since 1983.

MR. VELEZ: And you graduated in ’71…

MR. BOUNDS: 1971.

MR. VELEZ: Did you always intend, when you graduated Dickinson, on staying here?

MR. BOUNDS: No I didn’t. I had hoped, when I graduated-there was a man named Don Moll who was the college photographer, and I thought that might be a cool job. But he stayed on until 1972 or 1973, retired, and a friend of mine named Rick Smolen, who graduated in the class of ’72, got wind of the job opening and snatched it up. I was in Vermont at the time, so I raced down here, but you can’t race that quick from Vermont, and I missed out. He stayed on for several years and passed it on to several friends until 1979, when the position was vacant for several years. I came back to Carlisle in 1980, having spent five years in Washington, D.C. In 1983, January of 1983, I received a call from what was then the Communications and Development Office. They were desperate for a photographer. And then I freelanced out of a contract with the college for 15 years or so, until 1999, when I approached them to be hired as a full time staff person, which I was.

MR. VELEZ: Your time in Washington, were you freelancing as well?

MR. BOUNDS: Yes, I was freelancing down there. In fact, I came up to Dickinson in those years and continued to shoot the Mermaid Players production shots, all those five years.

MR. VELEZ: I don’t know if there was, but were you a photography major, if that was possible?

MR. BOUNDS: There wasn’t any photography [major]; I was a fine arts major. But actually when I was here, there weren’t even any photography courses. But I learned in the darkroom and that was down in the basement in Union. Myself, Rick Smolen, and a bunch of other guys would just spend most of our time down there and come blinking out into the daylight after hours in the dark.

MR. VELEZ: You don’t by any chance, happen to teach the photography class here, do you?

MR. BOUNDS: No, I taught for 15 years from about 1985 until about 1999-2000 as a summer school teacher, summer school instructor, and sabbatical replacement. I also did a summer, five week summer course with Carol Ann Johnston in London for the London Summer Session in 1998.

MR. VELEZ: I just actually went on the London Summer Session this past summer.

MR. BOUNDS: So you know the Aaron house?

MR. VELEZ: Oh yes, we know the Aaron House. Back to your time as a student, how did you feel about the general Downtown Carlisle area?

MR. BOUNDS: I lived downtown. [chuckles]

MR. VELEZ: Oh, you did?

MR. BOUNDS: My freshman room was across the street in Morgan Hall, C-Section, C1. I had already spent four years in a prep school; I was quite familiar with dormitory living. I felt that I had had quite enough of that. Not too long into my freshman year, I somewhat under the table, got a room in an apartment that a guy, friend of mine had right across the street from Union Fire Department on Louther Street. I didn’t completely move into it, but I moved my stereo and some odds and ends of stuff. A mattress, you know, so I kind of came and went between Morgan and that room. And then my second year, I did sort of the same thing in a little tiny apartment in the basement on Pitt Street, not too far from where Casa Mani is now. My junior year, I officially applied for and got off-campus permission, and I lived for two years in an apartment over what’s now the Hanover Grille, and before that, it was the Famous Texas Restaurant. The Famous Texas was part of its name, it was the Famous Texas Restaurant. So I lived downtown.

MR. VELEZ: Did you find yourself shopping there a lot in the general vicinity of the area?

MR. BOUNDS: Yes, well, as I’m sure you’ve found out and will find out further, there were a lot more shops. The Bon-Ton was Downtown, there was a Penny’s, Woolworths was right across the street on Hanover Street, and I shopped at Woolworths well after I moved back to Carlisle in ’80, right until they closed. I forget when they closed, but we shopped at Woolworths. There was a really cool store called The Food Basket, right next to the building the Casa Mani is in now. It was probably one of the buildings that burned and had to be torn down next to the big Centinary building, but right on that block.

MR. VELEZ: I know that currently, as a student, when I need to get something, I just shoot up to Wal-Mart or something like that and just shop for everything at once. Was Woolworths back then your sort of “Wal-Mart” in a sense?

MR. BOUNDS: Well, Woolworths but there was also a grocery store. In fact, the Giant Food was on the corner of Louther and Hanover Street, cattycorner from the Hanover Grille. The building is still there, but that was one of the early Giant Food Stores. In fact, Giant Food I think started in Carlisle, so you could get your groceries there, your other stuff at Woolworths. There were two hardware stores, Bixler’s and Cochran & Allen. Bixler’s was on East High next to the alley behind the new courthouse and Cochran & Allen was on South Hanover just a couple of doors down. I guess it’s next door to what is now the Comfort Suites, which was a big empty lot due to a fire back in the 50’s. So, you had a hardware store, your 5 and dime, 5 and 10, Woolworths, like Wal-Mart, your grocery store, The Food Basket had fresh fruit and vegetables and cheeses and stuff, it was kind of a little boutique cheese, you know, food place. There were hip shop or two, and the Garden Gallery, it actually started up. They were real close to campus, they still exist around on Hanover Street. Carlisle Camera was Downtown. I went to a little photo shop on South Pitt Street called Steimetz Photo Workshop, he actually just retired, maybe four years ago. So everything was Downtown, within easy walking distance, we didn’t really have to drive anywhere. And Harrisburg was not anyplace you wanted to drive to.

MR. VELEZ: Too far away? Or more…

MR. BOUNDS: There was nothing there. [chuckles] [Mayor Stephen] Reed’s really pulled that city together. The Second Street restaurant scene didn’t exist. Nobody went to Harrisburg, except if they had to go to PENN-DOT [Pennsylvania Department of Transit] to get their license renewed, or to go and catch a train at the train station, which was pretty grim, too. That’s been restored and fixed up, and so, no, there was no reason to go to Harrisburg.

MR. VELEZ: Well, now, when I go downtown, because I actually live over down there, basically right across the street from the fire station.

MR. BOUNDS: Oh, really?

MR. VELEZ: Yes, in an off campus house, which is actually…

MR. BOUNDS: Interesting [chuckles]

MR. VELEZ: I live in 22, no 24 North Hanover Street, in that little parking lot basically by the post office. Well, just me walking down downtown, I’ve sort of noticed that, to me, it seems sort of deserted. I come from a big city, so I’m used to there being everyone on blocks all the time. Was it more of a “bustling” downtown back when you were a student?

MR. BOUNDS: Yes, I mean, I guess you’d call it that because there were more shops and more people on the streets. The two malls that are here now did exist. The mall where the Wal-Mart is was called the MJ Mall, and it eventually had a Woolco, which was the Woolworth big box, and there was a Montgomery Ward’s, which is like Sear’s. Those were the two big stores, and it was an enclosed mall with a bookstore and lots and lots of other stuff, but there weren’t any movies out there. The movie theatre hadn’t been built, so when you went to the movies, you went to the Carlisle Theater, or over to Camp Hill, or something. And the other mall…

MR. VELEZ: Carlisle Point…

MR. BOUNDS: Yes, which is called the Plaza Mall. Bon-Ton was there, but it wasn’t an enclosed mall at first, it was sort of a strip. And then they had enclosed it. Bon-Ton stayed where it is, but then there was a… K-Mart, I guess, at the other end, which was torn down completely to put in the Lowe’s. So, you could walk out there if you had to, or get a ride if you had a car, but I guess the malls…The East Mall was probably there and the Capitol City, but they were much smaller and there were bigger stores there, but I don’t remember going over there to shop particularly.

MR. VELEZ: So it was just all downtown basically?

MR. BOUNDS: Yes, downtown, and MJ Mall and Plaza Mall pretty much did it.

MR. VELEZ: With the renovation of those two mall centers and the coming of Wal-Mart and everything like that, would you say that had a definite impact on the Downtown area?

MR. BOUNDS: Yes, it did. But really, I think, shopping patterns had changed so much before that. I forget if Woolworths closed before…Yes, it closed before Wal-Mart opened, I think. And even Woolco went out of business. Penny’s had left town long before Wal-Mart arrived…Way long, decades before…A lot of the little shops had already, kind of, closed. Carlisle Camera was downtown until just a couple of years ago. They moved out onto the pike, which really pissed me off. But, it’s not just Carlisle. Small towns all over the country are just… Unless it’s a place like New York City, L.A., or a really big city…Georgetown, like in Washington, or Chestnut Street in Philly, or Chestnut Hill in Philly, you know, kind of a nice, shopping boutique-y store/area that’s kind of maintained all through the whole years of Wal-Mart. But most little small towns have just suffered, and its not just Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart certainly…

MR. VELEZ: Isn’t the only culprit…

MR. BOUNDS: It’s not the only culprit. It’s the Lowes and the Home Depot’s that put out, put the little hardware stores out of business and all the… like Giant Foods started in Carlisle but they’re, you know, they have a big place out on Spring Garden. It’s just different shopping patterns. People expect lots of parking. The irony to me is one of the things you hear about downtown Carlisle is, “Oh, I can’t park near the store I want to go to, so I have to walk…” and they have to walk like a block. But they’ll go to King of Prussia and they’ll walk two miles to the end store, but they don’t think of it as a problem because they’re…

MR. VELEZ: Inside…

MR. BOUNDS: …Inside, and there’s all these other cool stores. So, it’s kind of ironic. One thing that has definitely improved is the restaurants. Even with Salamandra’s leaving, there was…I’m trying to think if there was any restaurant downtown and… There was no nice restaurant. There was no Piatto, no California Café…

MR. VELEZ: BackDoor…

MR. BOUNDS: …No BackDoor, no Mt. Fuji. Those all arrived kind of after the downtown had already kind of declined as a shopping area. Fay’s opened, I forget if it was open when I was still a student, but it opened not too long after that. It’s been in 3 different locations, but it opened. California Café opened in “Old Fay’s”, which was on South Hanover Street, and then they moved over twice. Both on Pomfret Street. They were in that, where that little antique store is, they were in there, and then they moved to where the Fire Station is. I guess, where everybody ate was the Milton, (the Hamilton), or George’s Pizza. And there was another pizza place on the corner of South West and High Street, where the Library is now, that hideous, ugly box, built next to…across from the President’s House, was a pizza place called The House of Pizza, which we called the House of Za.

MR. VELEZ: The House of Za.

MR. BOUNDS: The House of Za. I always liked their pizza better than George’s. I didn’t go to George’s much.

MR. VELEZ: I would rather a House of Za than a library [chuckles]

MR. BOUNDS: [laughs] Yes, it is an abomination. Rillo’s was here, if you know Rillo’s

MR. VELEZ: I know Rillo’s

MR. BOUNDS: And I guess the Sunnyside, out towards the turnpike, was here. And the deer lodge over in Mt Holly. That’s about it. There wasn’t really…There was no nice restaurant downtown, no place that people would go and…

MR. VELEZ: Go out to eat…

MR. BOUNDS: …Go out to eat, and feel like they’ve been to a really nice place.

MR. VELEZ: Kind of like now, a lot of students, everything is, “Yes, let’s go out to eat, let’s go out to eat.” So back then, it was just straight, “Time to go to the Cafeteria,” or “Time to cook dinner” or something like that.

MR. BOUNDS: Yes, pretty much. Except for pizza, and Hot-chi dogs.

MR. VELEZ: Hot-chi dogs. I actually have to try one. I’ve never had one before.

MR. BOUNDS: That’s terrible. [chuckles]

MR. VELEZ: One of my friends is actually…one of my fellow classmates is actually doing a presentation on the Greeks and the Hot-chi dog and everything like that in Carlisle, and he was like, “You haven’t had a Hot-chi dog yet? You need to try one…” and just goes off on me every time I tell him I still haven’t tried it.

MR. BOUNDS: [Laughs]

MR. VELEZ: So, basically, you would say the biggest difference you’ve noticed would definitely be the restaurant areas, like there were no restaurants between [when] you were a student and now?
MR. BOUNDS: Yea, there weren’t any nice restaurants in downtown, and now there’s several.

MR. VELEZ: Do you still currently live in Carlisle?

MR. BOUNDS: I live three blocks down College Street, on Walnut.

MR. VELEZ: Now, do you find yourself shopping more downtown, or do you see yourself going to like Wal-Mart, Lowes, K-Mart…?

MR. BOUNDS: I absolutely refuse to buy anything at Wal-Mart. I do not shop at Wal-Mart just because I just hate everything they’ve done to the country. I do go to Lowes because I have to go. I have to go somewhere for hardware, lumber… I don’t shop at Home Depot because of where they built, next to the Letort. It was basically pretty unspoiled property, and we tried to get them to build on an already built place, like where the Wal-Mart is… So I don’t go to Home Depot either. But I do go to Lowes. I actually get a lot of my clothes at the Bon-Ton. But we do, a couple of times a year, we find ourselves at King of Prussia or something. We go over to the Capitol City Mall as much as anything in terms of, if we need to go to a mall. There’s like American Eagle, and Gap, and all that kind of stuff. My family was here for Thanksgiving from the West Coast, and we did not go anywhere on Black Friday. We went downtown, and we shopped at the Whistlestop, and we shopped at the Clothesvine, and my niece loves the Bedford Street Antiques, she always finds some funky thing over there. You know, a couple of used bookstores and ate at the BackDoor Café. So, I try and do as much as I can downtown, but you can’t…

MR. VELEZ: Do everything…

MR. BOUNDS: You can’t… Because there isn’t enough stuff.

MR. VELEZ: Do you feel like the opening of a store like a Gap, Old Navy, something like that, would help maybe increase shopping?

MR. BOUNDS: Well, I think that’s a totally unrealistic dream. I mean, Gap and Old Navy don’t open stores in little downtowns. They just don’t. I think it’s pretty amazing that Starbucks is opening. I personally will keep going to Casa Mani because I like Robert & Naomi, and I like what they’re doing and I like their cappuccinos. But, I have to admit, it is kind of cool that Starbucks has decided that Carlisle is worth…

MR. VELEZ: Is worthy…

MR. BOUNDS: …is worthy of running a store, because they don’t open anywhere. They do their homework, so I’m hoping maybe that’ll draw some people downtown. Going to Starbucks, and they’ll pass some other places, and maybe some other places will open up, and traffic increases.

MR. VELEZ: Do you like the college’s effort that they’re having in trying to put more students, like in the Central Downtown area with the opening of 25/27 High Street, and the college trying to get students more in that…sort of pushing them out there, like “Go, go.”

MR. BOUNDS: No, I do. I’ve been on the High “I” Committee, the internal High “I” committee for a year, so we were involved in a lot of that. I wasn’t involved in the planning of it at all, but… No, I think it’s great. I know there was a lot of worry that they wouldn’t be able to get people to go downtown, but I said right from the beginning, “That’s not going to be a problem” and that didn’t become a problem, we filled it right up. The merchants in between 25/27 and campus have noticed an increase in foot traffic and business. So, that’s good. The other good thing that… really good happened was after the Carlisle Theatre closed as a movie theater, it was empty for several years, and then there was a period of time when some developer from Baltimore bought it and he was going to tear it down, and I don’t know what the hell he thought he was going to do there, but he was going to knock the thing down. But there was pretty much a grassroots movement to save it, and they turned it into a performing arts center, and back into a movie theater. So I see as many movies downtown as I do at the…

MR. VELEZ: mall theatres?

MR. BOUNDS: …the mall theatres, or Camp Hill because a lot of them you can’t see anywhere else because if they are art movies, at least limited run movies that you won’t see at a big multiplex. Or sometimes they’ll come to Carlisle just a few weeks after they’ve closed in big multiplexes, and I can wait. [chuckles]

MR. VELEZ: I actually saw an advertisement for a movie that I saw when I was in London taking the class, and it was the number one movie in London at the time.

MR. BOUNDS: Yes, they get great movies. If anything, I wish…. I mean… I see students when I’m down there. I wish they’d open their eyes a little bit and realize that the movies they show Downtown are good movies. Amalie, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, and what’s the Asian one with all the flying…

MR. VELEZ: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

MR. BOUNDS: Crouching Tiger, you know, good movies.

MR. VELEZ: I guess that does make sense. I guess I feel that its more of the advertisement aspect. Like they see, “Oh, wow, this movie is going to be good,” so they automatically run there. Do you think there is maybe a way that they could advertise more? Do you think that would help? Because I know there are advertisements around school that say, “The Carlisle Theater will be playing this, or playing that.”

MR. BOUNDS: I don’t know. [chuckles] It’s hard to know what will get people’s attention anymore. I’m not an advertiser. [laughs] I mean, they put out…I get in the mail the “Hollywood on High” little thing…

MR. VELEZ: Oh, the little like, playbill…

MR. BOUNDS: …I don’t know if they distribute that around campus.

MR. VELEZ: Me living off campus, I come to campus sparingly.

MR. BOUNDS: I mean, that’s one thing. Because I always pick it up. Well, it comes to our house, and I pick it up downtown when I’m in a store, or something, look at it just to see what’s coming up. I guess they are on The Compass, but I don’t know if the Dickinsonian…I don’t know if they advertise on WDCV at all.

MR. VELEZ: I had read in the Dickinsonian an article saying that the “High I” were talking about maybe incorporating with some stores, like using the point system. Is that, I don’t want to say realistic, but is that an up and coming movement, or definite?

MR. BOUNDS: I believe that we’re working towards that, and are also… There was a 10% discount card that the Chamber of Commerce…you could get from the Chamber of Commerce and actually, just in our meeting the other day, Rusty Shunk was saying that their working with the Chamber of Commerce to make that available to students. It’d be something you could put on your keychain, like a Giant…

MR. VELEZ: Like one of the Giant, one of those things…

MR. BOUNDS: Right. I would think that a lot of merchants would take that. We were just in that new little shop next to the Downtown farmer’s market asking her about it, and she said “Absolutely.”

MR. VELEZ: I’d love to…I had read when I was doing research about this project that back in the early 60’s, there were talks about how to revitalize the downtown and how there were certain things that needed to be done. And one thing that they did highlight that you actually mentioned was about a parking center, or parking area. Do you guys have anything in the works about maybe…Also, I don’t know where you would put it, if you did have a…

MR. BOUNDS: Well, you know, they did build a parking garage. There’s a parking garage right across from the California Café, right off of…

MR. VELEZ: Oh yes, behind…

MR. BOUNDS: Pomfret…

MR. VELEZ: I always felt that was more of, I guess, the…

MR. BOUNDS: No, it’s public parking, it’s not just for the hotel. So there is a parking garage downtown. It’s never filled. There’s ways, they kind of shoehorned that into the middle of the block, used part of a property that had already been a parking lot, and filled it in. And there’s ways you could probably do something like that over between High Street and Louther, or something like that. The other big thing that we are trying to work on is the truck traffic downtown, which is really bad. And that’s a tough one because they’re both, High Street and Hanover Street, are state highways, so Carlisle really has limited control over what they could do, or what they can, you know, kind of prohibit. So we have to get PENN DOT to approve anything, but we’re trying to get no thru-trucks legislation or whatever ordinance because apparently what’s happening, and I just found this out through the High I Committee was, everybody is using these GPS units now, and there will be a truck coming up from the South on 81, and he wants to get to the Turnpike, asks his GPS unit what’s the quickest way to get to the turnpike from 81, and it tells him to go right on Hanover Street. How do you fight that? I don’t know, except to prohibit trucks from driving through Carlisle to get to the Turnpike. So, it’s a tough, tough…

MR. VELEZ: One of my other classmates is actually doing her project on the truck trafficking.

MR. BOUNDS: And of course, the air quality is…

MR. VELEZ: Horrendous…

MR. BOUNDS: …from all the warehouses.

MR. VELEZ: I think there was actually a study done about how Carlisle has one of the dirtiest…

MR. BOUNDS: Thought you were getting away from that [laughs]

MR. VELEZ: [Laughs] I know right, coming from New York, you’d think I’d get o breathe dome fresh air…

MR. BOUNDS: My daughter goes to school in New York, I think she’s breathing better air than I am.

MR. VELEZ: Where does she go to school?

MR. BOUNDS: Barnard

MR. VELEZ: Oh, okay.

MR. BOUNDS: Up in Columbia.

MR. VELEZ: I know, one of my old track coaches and professor went to Columbia and teaches at Columbia. You also made a passing reference to Chestnut Hill, did you work…

MR. BOUNDS: I grew up in Philly.

MR. VELEZ: Oh, really? Two of my roommates actually are both from Philadelphia. One actually lives in Chestnut Hill and, where does the other one live? I forget, I think right outside of the city, so…

MR. BOUNDS: There was a guy here, and I can’t think of his name, but he was really good at track.

MR. VELEZ: Freddy Straub?

MR. BOUNDS: Maybe. Graduated a few years ago, but he grew like right across the street from where I grew up in Mount Airy.

MR. VELEZ: It’s probably Freddy. He was the only person that I knew that actually was from Philly.

MR. BOUNDS: But anyway, so I’m used to living not in a…right downtown city, but not in a sub…I’ve never lived in the suburbs. Never want to.

MR. VELEZ: So you feel that the general downtown area is definitely on a come up, and will continue to rise, basically.

MR. BOUNDS: I think so. I am certainly hopeful. If we can… I mean they’ve got this, what’s her name… I’m trying to think of the name of the person they hired. [She] has got a really good track record [on] downtown[s]. The other tough nut to crack is how to get students off campus. You know, they think that downtown is a long walk. It just blows my mind. But I mean, if they grew up in the suburbs, they never walked anywhere. There was nothing to walk to. You had to drive to get out of your neighborhood. But that’s tough too, because if they think it’s too far to walk to Casa Mani, or to Whistlestop, then… [laughs]

MR. VELEZ: You’re out of luck.

MR. BOUNDS: It’s like what are we going to do?

MR. VELEZ: The funny thing about it is that the walk from maybe one of their dorm[s] to a class is probably about the same distance.

MR. BOUNDS: Yes, I mean, if they live in Goodyear, it’s further to Goodyear from the Academic Quad then it is from the Academic Quad to the Square, so I don’t know.

MR. VELEZ: Are you guys planning on doing more of the student housing downtown, like 25/27, expanding that, maybe?

MR. BOUNDS: I’m not sure. That was kind of the big building theme. It became available, and of course, there are other apartments, the Denny Apartments, and then several buildings, are basically Dickinson Housing, but that’s really right next to the campus. I don’t know of anything right at the moment that’s in the works, or whether there’s another building that would be big enough to have a group of 30 or 50, and…

MR. VELEZ: I didn’t even realize 25/27 was so big. It seems like, just looking, like walking outside, it seems so small, but then I hear there’s 50 kids.

MR. BOUNDS: And some of the rooms are nice.

MR. VELEZ: I’ve only been in there once, I think.

MR. BOUNDS: It’s got that big, the old gym. It used to be the YMCA.

MR. VELEZ: And they said it used to be a dance, a club dance place maybe up there at one point.

MR. BOUNDS: Maybe, yes. That makes sense.

MR. VELEZ: Well, thank you Mr. Bounds. Thank you very much, it was a great interview.

MR. BOUNDS: You’re welcome.

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