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Julian Mixon "Jerry" Hayes (1918-2006)

By Gene Melton

Early Life

A native of eastern North Carolina, Julian Mixon Hayes was born on 6 September 1918 in Aurora, a small rural community in Beaufort County. As a youth, he spent his formative years in this small farming community, which was hit hard by the Great Depression. During 1934-1935, his sixteenth and seventeenth years, Hayes wrote in a dimestore notebook each day about the challenges faced by his family and those of his friends as they struggled to make ends meet financially. Through these entries, we come to understand Hayes’s concern with money, his commitment to family and friends, his anger and concern regarding his father’s alcoholism (and, later, gambling), and his wise recognition that education will be a means for him to improve his future opportunities. These entries also show us Hayes as a young man who loved to roller skate and who anxiously awaited not only the arrival of the pair of skates he had ordered, but also the completion of the paved road near his home that would allow him to use those skates; they make clear his love of dances and movies, on which he frequently spent his hard-earned money, and drama, in which he joyfully participated multiple times at school; and they show us his sense of honesty, fair play, and honor as he decided not to cheat in an animal judging contest and as he made his ultimate decision to work his way through the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill after graduating from high school. In these entries, too, Hayes describes his infatuation with several young women in his school and community, but he also includes details that perhaps reveal something of the homosexuality that he will acknowledge later in life: he notes that he was often teased in school for playing among the girls; a female classmate tells him that she “can’t ever tell about you”; he notes that he was called “sissy”; he positively revels in the opportunity to play Billy West in the school production of the play Man in the Moon, a role that required him to perform in drag in the third act: “Everybody said I made a very nice girl,” he tells us; and, in 1935, he mentions a cryptic New Year’s resolution to deny himself an unspecified pleasure (which he later identifies as masturbation[1])—although he also records several lapses in his resolve on that matter[2].

College Experiences

In fall 1935, with financial support from Dr. Kafer, a physician from Aurora who often assisted promising students from the community with their college expenses, Hayes enrolled in the Commerce program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to study business and accounting[3]. Although his diary from this time did not survive, having been destroyed by Hayes himself, Hayes did, in 1992, write about his first-year experiences at Carolina. In this short piece, called “Epilogue by the author (Why the diary stops here.),” Hayes details his “self-help job” working in the campus library, a work-study appointment for which he was paid 45 cents an hour, as well as the other jobs he worked that year to make ends meet: waiting tables and washing dishes for a Rosemary Street boarding house and, later, providing live-in help with the furnace, chickens, and yard work at the home of a man who resided on Cameron Avenue[4].

Instead of going home for the summer after his first year, Hayes determined that it was more financially prudent to stay in Chapel Hill and continue his work at the library full time. He took a room at a fraternity house, where he found himself housed on a floor with only one other resident, the fraternity president[5]. One summer day, according to Hayes, the fraternity president “seduced” him, and he developed what he considered to be his first homosexual infatuation:

"This was the very first time I had ever been kissed by a boy or had a schoolboy crush on another boy! However, I sensed that he felt I did not hold up my end of the affair, but I wasn’t quite sure what was expected of me that first time. A few days later I found out when I went over to his room for a repeat performance. He would have none of it unless I performed oral sex on him!

Who ever heard of such a thing? Not I. And I was not about to do it either. I was not that kind of a person[6]."

When he later discovered that the fraternity president had read his diary entries about their sexual encounters and torn out those pages, Hayes destroyed the entire book of his first-year experiences at Carolina and resolved he “would never, never keep a diary again[7].” Because of this, the record of Hayes’s other college experiences remains vague.

Hayes received his B.S. degree in 1939[8].

World War II Experiences

After graduation from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Hayes went to work as an accountant for the American Tobacco Company in Durham, North Carolina, where he worked until he was drafted into the Army in 1941. Although Hayes did not return to journaling his daily life, he did chronicle his experiences as a soldier in World War II through letters he sent home, and the letters he sent to his sister Opal and to his parents have been preserved. His military service took him from Durham to Fort Bragg in North Carolina, and then to several other military bases in Virginia and North Carolina, before sending him on a globe-trotting adventure throughout Europe and North Africa. Indeed, Hayes spent time stationed in a remarkable number of places around the world that took him far and wide from his origins in rural North Carolina: Glasgow, Scotland; Tidworth, England; Oran and Constantine, Algeria; Bizerte, Tunisia; Palermo, Sicily; Naples, Venatro, Rome, Siena, and Pisa, Italy; Marseille, Nice, Monte Carlo, St. Albans, Lyon, Epinal, Paris, and Metz, France; Esch and Luxembourg City, Luxembourg; Arlon and St. Vith, Belgium; Maastricht, Holland; Trier, Aachen, Cologne, Coblance, Limburg, Bonn, and Kaiserslautern, Germany; and Camp Shanks and Brooklyn, New York[9].

Throughout the letters in which he reports on his activities in the Army, Hayes demonstrates deep love for his family and his country, and a continuing concern with his own financial affairs and those of his family back home. He confirms that, despite his exposure to new people and places, he has maintained the connections to his home and to his faith that had long sustained him. In a letter dated 28 December 1942, sent from his post in Oran, Algeria, Hayes observes:


"I had the strangest feeling yesterday going to church with a gun on my hip. But then our forefathers, the pilgrims, did it and their’s [sic] were double-barreled shotguns, while mine is only a pistol. But I still felt strange praying with a pistol at my side, for this was the first time I had done it[10]."

In other letters, too, Hayes often goes beyond mere reporting of his daily activities to philosophize about the progress of the war and his reactions to what he called in one letter “Great events in a mad world[11]!” One letter from 3 June 1944, in fact, was so powerfully written that his family shared it with the Greenville, North Carolina,News-Leader, which published the complete text as front-page news: “Letter from Tar Heel in Italy Touches Deep Down.” In its preface to Hayes’s letter, the newspaper declared: “The letter that follows is strictly in a class by itself and everyone should read it as it gives the news behind the news of the battlefront...[12]”

During his service, Hayes was promoted from private all the way to Captain. As a leader, he showed the same dedication to the men for whom he was responsible as he did to his family and friends back home. In December 1943, for example, he wrote to the parents of each soldier in his company, telling them that their son was safe, healthy, and contributing to the cause. He concluded the letter as follows: “I am very proud to be associated with your son and I shall always do all that I can to help him. If I can ever be of any assistance to you please feel free to write me about him at any time.” And several parents did reply, thanking Hayes for his concern for their sons[13].

Although these letters are, no doubt of personal as well as military necessity, silent on any homosexual activity that Hayes may have engaged in during his time in the Army, they—like the diary—nevertheless help us see him as a man eager to experience all the world has to offer; a man curious about new places; a man willing to educate himself about foreign cultures, languages, and rituals; and, above all, a man capable of great empathy and willing to express compassion and love.

Later Life

After the war, Hayes returned to the United States, where he spent time in New York in the Office of the Inspector General. During this time in New York, Hayes reports in the “Epilogue” he wrote in 1992, “he met some very respectable professional gay men who, for the very first time, were role models for me. Then (Autumn of 1945) I decided I could be both gay and respected. I came out to myself but to no one else. Never would I want to flaunt the fact that I was gay to anyone.” However, in 1947, Hayes reports, he met Clifford “Kip” Milton, “a man about my age with similar background who has been my lifelong companion to this day[14].”

After his honorable discharge from the Army, Hayes returned to work with the American Tobacco Company in Durham; he continued to work for that company in New York and, later, Charleston, South Carolina, and would remain with the company for thirty years, until his retirement in 1974[15].

In his later life, as a resident of Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina, he became noted for his work with flowers and gardens, and he devoted much time to the Charleston Rose Society and the Charleston Camellia Society. With his partner, he established the Julian Hayes and Clifford Milton Award for Excellence on a Stringed Instrument at the College of Charleston[16].

Hayes died on 6 August 2006 in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina. He was 87 years old. He donated his body to medical science[17], [18].

References

  1. Julian Mixon Hayes, "Epilogue by the author (Why the diary stops here.)," James T. Sears Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Duke University.
  2. Julian Mixon Hayes Diary, 1934-1935, James T. Sears Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Duke University.
  3. Julian Mixon Hayes Diary, 1934-1935, James T. Sears Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Duke University.
  4. Julian Mixon Hayes, "Epilogue by the author (Why the diary stops here.)," James T. Sears Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Duke University.
  5. Julian Mixon Hayes, "Epilogue by the author (Why the diary stops here.)," James T. Sears Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Duke University.
  6. Julian Mixon Hayes, "Epilogue by the author (Why the diary stops here.)," James T. Sears Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Duke University.
  7. Julian Mixon Hayes, "Epilogue by the author (Why the diary stops here.)," James T. Sears Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Duke University.
  8. For Hayes's senior portrait, see page 63 of the 1939 UNC-Chapel Hill Yakety Yack,http://library.digitalnc.org/cdm/singleitem/collection/yearbooks/id/765
  9. Julian Mixon Hayes, World War II Letters, 1941-1945, James T. Sears Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Duke University.
  10. Julian Mixon Hayes, World War II Letters, 1941-1945, James T. Sears Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Duke University.
  11. Julian Mixon Hayes, World War II Letters, 1941-1945, James T. Sears Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Duke University.
  12. “Letter from Tar Heel in Italy Touches Deep Down,” Greenville [NC] News-Leader, 7 July 1944, in the Julian Mixon Hayes Papers #5149, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
  13. Christmas 1943 Form Letter, in the Julian Mixon Hayes Papers #5149, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
  14. Julian Mixon Hayes, "Epilogue by the author (Why the diary stops here.)," James T. Sears Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Duke University.
  15. Hayes, Julian: Mt. Pleasant, obituary, Ancestry.com,http://boards.ancestry.com/topics.obits/65402/mb.ashx
  16. Hayes, Julian: Mt. Pleasant, obituary, Ancestry.com,http://boards.ancestry.com/topics.obits/65402/mb.ashx
  17. Julian Mixon "Jerry" Hayes, obituary, Findagrave.com, http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=83475858
  18. Hayes, Julian: Mt. Pleasant, obituary, Ancestry.com,http://boards.ancestry.com/topics.obits/65402/mb.ashx