STEPPING OFF THE STAGE
In mid-December 1975, almost fourteen years after she took rooms at the Hotel Sir Walter when she came to Raleigh as a new member of the supreme court, Judge Sharp finally moved into an apartment. It was a townhouse on a busy boulevard, a short drive to the Justice Building and not far from the Cameron Village shopping center with its stores and cafeteria. She had resisted the move as long as she could, but the hotel had deteriorated along with the downtown, and she and State Treasurer Edwin Gill were almost the last of the old residents. Gill had lived in the hotel for forty-six years, ever since he came to Raleigh as a member of the 1929 General Assembly, and could not be persuaded to leave. But for Judge Sharp it was time. “The hotel, alas!, has become almost uninhabitable and I no longer felt safe there,” she explained.1 Still, she was reluctant to give up what had been a convenient and happy arrangement.
The new apartment had a living room, dining room, kitchen, and half bath downstairs and two bedrooms with two baths upstairs. A communal laundry room served all the residents. For Judge Sharp, keeping house was a shock. “After fourteen years of having my bed made every morning, linen changed every day, and my tub washed out by someone else, I find being on my own a drastic change,” she wrote an old friend.2 Tw o weeks after she moved in, Judge Bobbitt found her running the vacuum cleaner and trying to learn how to use the “laundermat “sic”.” He said, “If this keeps up, you will have no time to be Chief Justice.”3 Fortunately, she reported, “thanks to my secretary's pull and devotion, I have acquired 'help' twice a week.”4
She found time to be chief justice, but there were other worries that frayed her attention. She was no less devoted to her responsibilities as head of the family than to her duties as head of the court system, and her family in these years caused her a good deal of concern. Her sister Louise was still living at 629 Lindsey Street in Reidsville. The old place constantly needed work,