During the free time of childhood, he would play games with friends around Riverside Park and Blackwater Creek. Clifton would also regularly visit the Jones Library, where he could not obtain a library card until he proved that he was able to read, which he did to the librarian’s satisfaction in first grade. When he was a teenager, he obtained an “incredibly useful” job at the library where he performed all the essential duties of a librarian. This would further his passion in the field of academia.

When Clifton and Dorothy began their undergraduate careers at Lynchburg College in the early 1960s, they were destined to gain a fine liberal arts education with a small student body and strict Christian principles in place. When they began dating, Clifton and Dorothy frequented the magnificent downtown theaters like the Paramount, the Warner (formerly the Trenton), the Academy, and even Harvey’s Drive-In on Wards Road.  While the downtown still had many grand and wonderful department stores, Rivermont Avenue also provided unique shops and institutions to the Lynchburg experience. The Patterson and Pearson drug stores offered access to any needed medications, as well as quick bites to eat at their lunch counters. Mr. Stork’s Grocery on Rivermont offered a quaint Southern neighborhood shopping experience including fresh and local ingredients. Katie Mundy’s establishment, known as The Columns (now the Randolph College Admissions Office), was well-known throughout Virginia - not just the city of Lynchburg. The Columns regularly hosted fancy parties and dinners of which the Potters were lucky enough to experience a few times throughout their lives. Dorothy particular remembered the delicious frozen almond pie and the ham biscuits.  However, not all restaurants were part of Clifton’s memories.  When growing up on Rivermont, Clifton’s father forbade him from entering two establishments in the Rivermont area, the Dahlia on Bedford and the Cavalier.  As of the summer of 2010, Clifton still hadn’t violated his father’s wishes!

The Potters did not shy away from issues of race that were present in the lives of all in the South during the Jim Crow era. As examples, one time, Mr. Potter’s “Yankee grandmother” from New York sat next to an African-American woman on the Lynchburg trolley. When asked to move by white passengers, the trolley operator, as well as the African-American woman, Clifton’s grandmother protested but then reluctantly agreed to avoid a potentially nasty conflict. Decades later, when Clifton supported desegregation while attending E.C. Glass High School, he faced abuse after school from his peers. Both he and Dorothy have maintained a courageous desire throughout their lives to confront the stigma of racism in the South.

Clifton and Dorothy would further their academic careers by completing graduate programs at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville and Clifton received a Fulbright grant to study at the University of Oxford in England, where he and Dorothy lived for three years.  They obtained their doctorates and both taught at Lynchburg College, Clifton for over fifty years, both retiring in 2018. To the Potters, Lynchburg has managed to maintain its charm through the many years of change, and they plan to stay here for many years to come.

Interviewed 7/5/2010