DOWDY: Well, I do hard work now. I tell everybody, hard work don't hurt you.
It helps you--
ALEXANDER: --it's the best thing--
DOWDY: --keeps you living.
HUNTER: --work and aggravation really, uh--
ALEXANDER: --when you retire is to get something to do besides set up and look
at the wall.
ALEXANDER: Because there isn't enough in the house to keep you working every day.
ALEXANDER: Well I [?] Saturday morning, nine o'clock, Channel Ten.
HARDY: Right. Now, why don't we go around and everybody just say your name and
how about when you came to Philadelphia, and that way, we'll--
HARDY: --be able to identify.
DOWDY: Well, who's the first came to Philadelphia?
HARDY: And then I'll start asking some questions. Who came first? Any ide
ALEXANDER: I don't know.
ALEXANDER: I wa--came in 1917--
HUNTER: --that was, uh
WHITE: --that's young--
HARDY: Okay. And your name just give your name, so we have it on the tape.
ALEXANDER: Oh. Hattie--
ALEXANDER: --Hattie Nedward Alexander.
HARDY: Hattie Nedward Alexander. And, Hattie, you're eighty-three now.
ALEXANDER: Bless my heart. [Laughter]
HUNTER: Arrow Vaughn Hunter. And I came to Philadelphia January 1933.
DOWDY: Annie Virginia Dowdy. I came to Philadelphia in 1937, September.
WHITE: Annabelle Gibson White. And, uh--and I came to Philadelphia in 1925.
HARDY: Nineteen twenty-five. So you came early, too.
HARDY: Why did--I don't care what order we go in, but can you tell me, um, why
you all came to the city, either you or your parents?
ALEXANDER: Well, my parents, um--we were living in the--in the country, uh, but
the main town was Greenwood, South Carolina, and we were out in a little suburb
like. And my father was a farmer. And, uh, of course, after my older sister and
brother, they was grown up. My brothers, they had left. In fact, the older
one--I showed you that--he was--soon would be called for military service. And,
and my father said, "We can live better than we live here." Although we had our
own everything. We didn't own it, but we, we were the people that's called at
the big house. We were the one that had the well in the yard, and all of the
rest of the people around--[Laughter]--they would come to--up to get their water
00:02:00from our place. So my father said, uh, he would like--he would like to go to
town, live in a town. And at this time, people were leaving--just, just leaving
so fast, you know, migrating from one state to the other. So we landed here, in
1917. And we stopped at a friend's house, of ours, 'cause the--for them to
help they were here. Was 952 North Darien Street. And we stayed there for a
few weeks. And my father got a job. And, uh, then we got a little house. We got
a little house of our own.
HARDY: What sort of job did he get?
ALEXANDER: Now I don't know. All I know, he was going--
ALEXANDER: --out onto waterfront. But he was working. And that's the way we
came. We, we got ti--got tired of living in the country. And he's going to bring
00:03:00his children out of the country, where we wouldn't have to be out in the field
working all the time. And what the--at the end of the year, we'd only have
just we had enough, like we had our own horse, wagon, buggies, and things like
that. We sold--he sold all of that.
HARDY: So really, because he was tired of living in the country and just
HARDY: --try and improve the condition.
ALEXANDER: Yes, that's right.
HARDY: Family condition.
ALEXANDER: Um-hm. And so we came here. And--
WHITE: You were rich--
ALEXANDER: --and, uh, then, the next--
WHITE: --you, uh--
ALEXANDER: --and then, the next, um-- We were here in 1917. And, um, my father
only lived a little more than a year--I'll say about a year and a half--after we
came to Philadelphia.
ALEXANDER: And he died May the 3rd, 1918, at 1026 North Street. I had started
the school there, uh, 4th and George, and it was I was really beginning to
00:04:00learn, because when we were in the country, we only had three months of
schooling. And, of course, you had to walk so far, time you get to school was
almost time to come home. [Laughter] It was!
ALEXANDER: Like, we had at least three miles to walk to school. But w--it was a,
a good school. I can remember the first teacher I had, when I was in the
country. Her name was Miss Addie Serge. And I remember her very well. And we had
those little spelling books. My father would have to buy them. And then United
States history, geography. We had those--all those little books my father would
buy. And I was doing pretty good. But once, uh, I came here. And I started to
school at 4th and George, let's say. But after my father died, then, you know,
00:05:00the older people, they always like to take they--the bodies back where they came
from, and that's why we went back South.
ALEXANDER: And about this time, I was fourteen years old. And then, um, we--we
worked at a, um-- My mother was cooking for this place. We had a little house,
not far then from the man that we were living on his place, Nord Grimm. I--my
memory is good, isn't it?
WHITE: It's wonderful. [Laughter]
ALEXANDER: Nord Grimm. And my mother was cooking for them and we stayed on their
place. And, uh, we worked there. Uh, and then, some fellows, they came and was
hired for wage. You know, like the men was hired for wage.
ALEXANDER: And, uh--and, when I was fifteen--well, fifteen--a little more than
00:06:00fifteen--I got married, like a dummy. Didn't know any different.
WHITE: Well, you know there wasn't anything else to do.[EJD1]
ALEXANDER: There was nothing else to do!
ALEXANDER: But before then I'm ahead of the story. But I was, like, a little
past fourteen. Uh, in the fall, we was working. And my mother said to me--she
said, "Now," said, uh, that we don't have no--"I don't have no husband. You
don't have no father." And I had a younger brother, brother under me, and a
sister under me. And she said, "Now, we have to--they have to, uh, eat. And, uh,
they have to have clothes." She said, "Now, during at a time when we're
working--" like was beginning of fall, picking cotton. And, um, she said,
"Whatever you make, you're going to have to give me half of it, and the other
half, you keep that and buy your little things, what you need." And from that
00:07:00day, when she told me my first pay, I haven't been without a dollar, from that
day until today.
ALEXANDER: Now, this is--this is really, really remarkable.
HARDY: That's fortunate, yeah.
ALEXANDER: I really think it's really remarkable, for she said, "You give me
half." And I started picking cotton.
WHITE: They said he was coming
ALEXANDER: You know what cotton is.
HARDY: Oh, yeah.
ALEXANDER: And I was picking cotton. And at this time, like he paying like The
w--the war was on, at this time. And, uh, all of the men, mostly, uh, they, you
know, --had been in service--or in service. And, uh, this day I had pickins
giving like a dollar and a quarter a hundred, for picking cotton.
ALEXANDER: And that was good, at that time.
ALEXANDER: A dollar and a quarter, a hundred. And I had went to field that day,
and, uh, when I came, uh--I came--I had 275 pound of cotton. And I'd say he'd
00:08:00come out every day and bring the wagon--
ALEXANDER: --and the scales and weighted up what you--
HUNTER: That's right.
ALEXANDER: --have picked. I said, "Oh my God." I said, "I believe, if I had come
to work a little bit earlier and, uh, worked a little harder, I would have made
three hundred pound." So I'll never forget it. The old guy looked down, looked
down. You know how they--how they do. "Tell you, if you--every time you pick
three hundred pound of cotton a day, I'll give you a extra dollar and a
quarter." Said, "Well, thanks." If I pick three hundred, he'd give me a dollar
and a quarter--for an extra hundred. And he just shouldn't have told me that.
[Laughter] Every day, until the cotton got thin, you know, like when it was
thick then. And that's how. And, like, I was making, like, 23, 24, and 26
dollars a week.
WHITE: Um-hm. I can imagine.
ALEXANDER: This was in 1918.
ALEXANDER: And, and my mother would give me half. And I would save my money.
ALEXANDER: And then I'd go to town, that once a month, buy me some shoes and
some underwear, and stuff. But I kept I never--I just couldn't spend my last money.
F: Oh, yeah.
ALEXANDER: I'd hide it in everywhere I could. I never would and I always kept
myself a dollar. So I think that's enough for you to know about me. [Laughter]
HARDY: No, for--
ALEXANDER: That's enough--
HARDY: --for--for the beginning.
ALEXANDER: That's good, isn't it?
HARDY: That's a good for a start. [Laughter]
ALEXANDER: A good start.
HARDY: Annabelle, you came--you came up next, I guess--
HARDY: --in time--you--
WHITE: --I came up in, uh--
HARDY: --in 1925.
WHITE: --in '25. And, um, I imagine, if my father hadn't had an incident with,
uh, with the man he was working, uh, for, I don't think we would have been up
here. Because I think the country still stayed in a lot of us.
WHITE: And, uh, my, um--my mother and father raised eleven children. My mother
had seventeen, through two marriages.
WHITE: And they raised eleven. And, at that time, I imagine, uh, had children to
00:10:00help on the farm--[Laughter]--because you needed them, especially when you're
sharecropping. So, um, when my father was always a good farmer. I mean, uh and
with the children helping him, they, uh, always managed to--after, like, you pay
your rent and everything, you always had something left over for yourself. And
then, my father, he would, um, go work in the sawmills. And that was cash money
then. So he had all his food and all his grain and his meal and flour and meat,
because he had his pig and things like that. And, um, while he was working--when
he worked in the sawmill, he said his boss would not pay him cash money. He told
him that all his, his I'm going to use the word that my father said--
WHITE: --the man used--he said all his niggers gets paid from his store, where
he had-- Well, well, I imagine that's one pers--one little town, where everybody
owned everything, I mean. So, uh--
WHITE: --he, uh, had the, you know, the groceries and everything, and he-- So my
father said he told him--said, "Well--" I forget his name. I
can't--[laughs]--recall his name. My memory isn't as good as hers. He told me he
said, "Well, I don't need your food," he said, "because I have plenty of my
own," he says, "and I need this money, my cash money, to buy my children shoes
and clothes and things like this." And the man would not give it to him. So he
came home--my mother told me this, say my father came and he was very sad and,
uh, downhearted, and then he got angry. And he told my mother--he said,
uh--said, "He's going to give me my money," he said. He wouldn't--this is when
he woke up the next morning.
WHITE: He said, "He's going to give me my money today, or else." And he went
back to the--to the mill where the man was, and he asked, and he said he pleaded
with him. He says, "Please give me my money." And he said the man, he said, put
his hands in the pocket, pulled his money out, and threw the money on the
ground, and told him he would never live to spend it. Well, in those days, well,
uh, you know, who you let's, uh, use, u-use the expression, "White man rules."
So when they use those kind of terms, you know what they kind of mean.
HARDY: A threat to believe in. [laughs]
WHITE: Yeah, that's what's r--yeah. So, uh, my father came home, he packed some
s--clothes what he had. And my mother packed him some lunch. And, uh, he left
the family down.-- We was in South Carolina at the time, then, and he left the
family there. And, uh, he went to North Carolina, to, uh, his in-laws. That was
my mother's brother. And he went there. And, uh, he made a place for a--uh,
together they got a farm, uh, like sharecropper farm--rented, rented it,
rather--I mean--not rented, but, you know, remains to work it out, you know.
WHITE: And, uh, he brought my mother and, uh, all the children to North
Carolina. And then he left North Carolina and came to Philadelphia. And we
stayed in North Carolina one year. And, uh--and, after my father came to
Philadelphia, he got a job, and he worked and saved his money, and then, uh, he
sent for all of us. And we all came up together. [laughs]
WHITE: Uh, I imagine you've seen pictures of people, the train, with the paper
bags and shoeboxes, and yeah--[Laughter]--I imagine that was what it looked
like. So then we came to Philadelphia, and I've, um--I've been here ever since.
HARDY: Ah. Do you know why your father came to Philadelphia, from--
WHITE: --because, uh--he had a sister here. And, um, after he came here, he
got jobs was easy to find then. I mean, it was always some type of work to do.
And, uh, he came up here and he got a job and he saved his money. And after we
came up, my mother got a job--and I think that the--not--I mean, working
h--doing housework then.
WHITE: And at the--I'm sure, at the age of twelve, I was doing housework, too.
After school, I would go help out in, uh, someone's home, and, and all, and then
on Saturdays you could work a whole day, sometime was paid maybe a dollar and a
quarter, or something like that, for a day. And by the time I got to high
school, our hours we was working--going to high school at, uh, split shifts,
00:14:00and my hours then was from one to five, I think, or one to six. The then, at
that time, I had two jobs. I worked in the morning, from nine to twelve, for
three dollars a week, and then after I got out of school I worked for three
dollars a week at another place.
WHITE: So I didn't have much time for, uh--you know, for books. I was good in
books. Matter of fact, I skipped two grades, after I came here to Philadel--
WHITE: --after I started school here. And, uh but the idea then was to make a living.
WHITE: And [laughs]--so when I worked, I gave my mother one three dollars for
herself, and I kept one three dollars. And, um, at a early age, everybody
learned to take--put your money to good use. You bought your own clothes,
regardless of how little you had--
WHITE: --you bought your own clothes and, uh-- So I want to say, at an early age
I really s--took care of myself.
HARDY: Hm. Sounds like, actually, you all did pretty well, in terms of the
division of the money. 'Cause I know a lot of, um--childrens of Italians and
Polish and Hungarians used to have to give their parents the whole paycheck--
WHITE: -whole--yeah, uh-huh.
HARDY: --and got twenty-five cents a week for their expenses.
HARDY: And that was it, regardless of paycheck.
WHITE: Well, what I don't know if my mother and father, they wasn't but
because by--my father were always able to do things. And my mother was helping out.
WHITE: And then, with the other children helping out, it was, was--always seemed
to be a little extra, you know, in the house, that they didn't have to take it all.
WHITE: And my father was a type like, uh, we had coal heat; he would go down at
the place where--right now it's Whitman area [laughs]--down below that--
WHITE: --and he would pick in the soft ground and dig his own coal.[
WHITE: And he had a--oh, he had a long wagon with a big iron wheel.
WHITE: And he would pull it. And, uh, he would we didn't have to buy much coal.
He would buy he would dig his own coal. And there's always someplace we could
go and get wood. 'Cause at that time, we didn't have gas--
WHITE: --nor electric. We was--we was using, uh, wooden stoves, and, uh, gas
lights--[laughs]--in the home at that time. And, uh--and he was, uh--he would
dig the coal, soft it was soft coal--or he would go on the railroad tracks,
where the coal would fall off the--
WHITE: --the car--boxcars, and we would pick up coal. And then I remember
once--sometimes we would go to a furniture place where they crated boxed
furniture, and when they open the crates they would throw the box wood away. We
would all go, about four or five of us, the children, we would get the wood, put
it on wagons--these was wagon you pull by yourself--
WHITE: --put on wa--and bring it home. And that's how we would cook. 'Cause you
had to have wood, to start the fire--
WHITE: --burn the fire. And, uh, we didn't mi--we were happy. We were happy
pe--it's good when you can look back on your childhood and you're not--don't have
HUNTER: --that's right--
WHITE: I say, if--uh, when--when your life
WHITE: Uh, I like my memories. They're pleasant to me, too.
DOWDY: Me, too.
HARDY: That's good! Yeah.
WHITE: They're more pleasant than the memories I have right today--
WHITE: --I'll tell you right now--
HARDY: --that's true with a lot of people.
WHITE: --with the lot that's coming up.
HARDY: Let me ask you one question before I move on to Annie.
HARDY: And that--um, your father's decision to go and ask for cash must have
00:17:00been considered fairly rash--
WHITE: Oh, that was--
HARDY: --thing to do.
WHITE: You did not--didn't tell any--and, uh, you did not, uh-- Well, we'd use
the term--the white man, if he told you something, you didn't question him.
[Laughter] I mean, uh, you would say, "Yes, sir" and keep going, uh, do what he
say do, and things like that. You know.--
HARDY: So he knew he was in for trouble, when, uh
WHITE: Yes, indeed. And, uh, so, uh, he was afraid to stay down there.
HARDY: Annie, you say you came up in, uh
DOWDY: --I came up
DOWDY: --I came up Philadelphia in 1937. And I came up because, uh I was
married. My hus I got married, uh, July 1937--and my husband too. We both had
finished school. So I had a job at the school where I--where I graduated. I was
a cashier. But my husband couldn't find work there. So I came up to go to beauty
school. So my husband and I separated as we was coming up. He went to
00:18:00Jacksonville, Florida, because his uncle had got him a job there, and I came to
Philadelphia to go to school here, because my sister was living near the beauty
school. So after I came here, well, things got rough. So I also got a job doing
domestic work, on, uh, 1242 Chelton Avenue. And I lived there with the family,
a Jewish family. They were very nice to me. And, uh, they took me in as one of
the family. So after I started school, I would go to school at night and I would
work in the daytime. And, uh, in a year's time, my husband came up to live with
me. We lived there in the house. And then he went to school here, to be a welder.
DOWDY: And he started working--after he, uh, finished school welding, he went
to, uh, Cramp's Shipyard. And I think you remember--
DOWDY: --Cramp's Shipyard.
HARDY: Oh, yeah. Yeah, sure.
DOWDY: [laughs] So he worked there at the shipyard. So, uh
HARDY: --did he start at the shipyard before the, the war broke out?
HARDY: Yeah, yeah.
DOWDY: Um-hm. This is before the war broke out, because he went in the service
in, uh, 1941. And, uh, after he went in the service, I went back to North
Carolina, and, uh, uh, worked in a beauty shop there, until he came out of the
service, in '40--'42. He came out in '42, because by then we had kids. I had
DOWDY: And, uh, I stayed home and worked. And then we came back to Philadelphia.
And after he came back to Philadelphia, he started working at Sun Ship-- I think
that's in Chester.
DOWDY: So, uh, I didn't, uh, work then, for a while. I took care of the kids.
And, uh, after I did start to work, I started working at, uh, Carpich [?] Woolen
Mill. Uh, that's 5th and, uh, uh, Locust. And from that year I joined the union
00:20:00in 1946, and I've been working in the union ever since.
HARDY: Now, when I was here last time, you said that you graduated from high school--
HARDY: --in North Carolina--
HARDY: --I guess it was, and, and, when you came up to the c--then you came up
to the city.
HARDY: Now with a high school -what sort of jobs did you look for, when you
first arrived, when you had to work, when you arrived in the city? Had you
DOWDY: --I had--
HARDY: --beautician school?
DOWDY: --uh, yeah, I had graduated from high school. I came here to go to beauty school.
HARDY: Okay. Did you finish beauty school up here?
DOWDY: Yes, I finished beauty school here, Apex.
HARDY: Mm. So then what, what, what jobs did you look for, for at first?
DOWDY: Well, I, uh, looked for anything I could see in the paper, uh, ads in the
paper. And the only thing I could find was a domestic job. So I took that,
because I knew how to do everything in the house, 'cause my mother trained me well.
HARDY: Uh, you, you weren't able to get a job as a beautician?
DOWDY: Well, I hadn't finished school--uh, beauty school.
HARDY: Oh, you hadn't, oh.
DOWDY: I was going--while I was, uh, going to beauty school, I was working.
DOWDY: And so after I finished beauty school, I went back to North Carolina,
00:21:00after my serv--uh, my husband went into the service.
HARDY: Okay. How did you feel about doing domestic work? Uh, I've been--in
talking to people, I get sort some people apparently felt that it was sort of
demeaning to have to go into the house and work for the
DOWDY: Well, no., I didn't--
HARDY: --the white people--
DOWDY: --feel that way--
HARDY: --while others felt, you know, it was--this was the job we had. D do
you--what were your all attitudes?
DOWDY: My attitude was My mother taught me to do anything that was honest.
Long it was honest, ju--d don't never be too big or--
DOWDY: --too high and mighty to do it--
DOWDY: --any honest work, be willing to do it. And that's why I did it. Because
I could have asked my parents to send me money, but I wanted to be independent, too.
DOWDY: So that's why I did it.
HARDY: --uh, anybody else? Wha what were y your attitudes, or your parents' attitudes--
HARDY: --or anybody else's?
WHITE: --well, I was gonna say, uh, uh, my father's attitude was don't never go
in and, uh, do domestic--uh, housework. Uh, in North Carolina, he'd never want
00:22:00us to do domestic work. And he was always specifying "the white man's wash."
WHITE: He had quite bit of Indian blood in him, and he was quite--always kind of
a--very proud from the, uh, very beginning. Um, his boys are--housework on, on
the--on the farm, when he was in charge, you know, it was okay. But, of course,
when I came here uh, I don't want to butt in on her now. I'm sorry.
HARDY: No, that's okay. W we'll move back and forth.
HARDY: You know, this should be sort of free--
HARDY: --free conversation.
WHITE: Oh, I see. So But, uh, you recommended to talk about my--or, uh, what
HARDY: Oh. Let me get a little more about people's attitudes towards housework.
WHITE: Oh, I see.
DOWDY: Well, housework--see, when I was coming up, I didn't have to do house--
Well, I was a very fortunate child, because my mother's father was the grandson
of a slave owner
DOWDY: and he owned five hundred acres of land at that time. He owned the
school, the church, the stores--
DOWDY: --the country store.
DOWDY: He had, uh, the Mason hall. Everything was on my grandfather's land. My
00:23:00mother used to say "as far as the eyes could see" it belonged to my grandfather.
And every child he had twelve children, and every child that my grandfather
had, they had a ho--house and land to live off. He said, "I want all my children
to have their own." He said, "I don't want you to ever have to work for a white man."
DOWDY: So when my mother My mo--my father didn't want my mother to get
married, because she was his bookkeeper. So, uh, she said she ran away and got
married, and she went to another town, and this town was, and Laurinburg, North
Carolina. That's about twenty-some miles from Rockingham. So when my mother got
married, she did domestic work until she got on her feet. And after she got on
her feet, she started working with this man. He was a Scottish man. And she did
all his weighing of cotton and all his bookwork and everything. So he told her
00:24:00that she was smart enough to have her own farm. So he told her how to go to
lease a farm. So my father and mother went to this place, and they leased this
big farm, and they lived in this big house, and they had people, sharecroppers,
working for them.
DOWDY: So we didn't have to work, 'cause, my father, he owned a hay baler. He
owned a cane machine. He, uh, he did, uh, landscaping of the whole town. And my
father had good money. He was the first black to own a car.
DOWDY: My mother had her own horse, and we had our own ponies. So I was a very
fortunate little girl. So I don't ever have anything to regret about the South.
I'm very proud of the South.
DOWDY: And I always go back to South--
DOWDY: --down South. And I go back there I'm going back there to live, because--
DOWDY: Because I'm, uh, still living on my grandfather--g going back to live on
my grandfather's land, where--my mother's roots.
DOWDY: But I can say I was very we had a beautiful school, a beautiful school
00:25:00to go to. It was a boarding school and a public school combined. And they had
all trades there. We had the baseball, uh, park and we had the, the tennis
court. We--anything they had, we they used to call it the black college. It
wasn't a college, but it was a institute. [Laurinburg Normal and Industrial Institute]
DOWDY: But it was beautiful.
DOWDY: I had a beautiful child's life. I don't have nothing to regret. And we,
uh, live about two miles from town. And when we go through town, our school was
better than the white school.
DOWDY: And the white kids would come through town, and the black kids would come
through town, and they would call us niggers, and we would call them crackers.
[Laughter] And we would they would start fighting, and we would push them down,
they would push us down, but we never was punished. He would call--the, the
white principal would call the black principal, and he ask him--he say, "Mac,
will you send your kids through town on a different hour than the white kids?"
[Laughter] But we always had a good understanding in that town, and we got along
00:26:00fine with the whites, because if you were re related to a white person,
you--they let you know that you was their cousin.
DOWDY: And it was a very beautiful place to live, and it's still a beautiful
place. It was always called a all-American city.
HARDY: Hm. What
WHITE: Where was it?
HARDY: What town was this?
DOWDY: Laurinburg, North Carolina.
HARDY: Now, there seems to have been a real difference. It see--there seems to
have been large communities of, of Southern blacks who owned their own farms--
WHITE: Yes, they did--
HARDY: --and never had troubles with--
DOWDY: No, we never had
HARDY: --with the white folk.
DOWDY: --no trouble in this--in this, this town, where the white folks--
HARDY: --but at the same time, maybe a mile away, a sharecropper--
HARDY: --a tenant farmer would be treated like
DOWDY: --I could
HARDY: --you know, just like dirt.
DOWDY: --I could go in town, in any store, and get anything I wanted to. Only
thing they would me ask me, "Who is your father?" And I would tell them--
DOWDY: --my father was Jim Everett, and I could pick up anything in town that I
wanted to pick up and take it home. And we had a black drugstore, owned by
00:27:00blacks. We had a ice cream parlor owned by black, hotel owned by black--
DOWDY: --black hospital owned by black, black doctors, black nurses. We had a
department store owned by black. This black man owned a whole community, named
it Evans Quarters. He had a black bank. We had everything owned by black.
HARDY: I got a question for you, Ann.
HARDY: Now, you came from--it sounds like your situation down there was pretty good--
DOWDY: --it was.
HARDY: --black people being treated well in posi--owning their own businesses--
HARDY: --money. Now, when you came to Philadelphia, um, by 1937, I guess things were--
DOWDY: --bad then.
HARDY: --they'd gotten a lot better, though--
HARDY: --by all accounts, from what they were when Hattie first arrived.
HARDY: But how do--yeah, that's what I want: how, how did Philadelphia differ?
How did you feel, you know--
HARDY: --attitudes were different, and you were treated differently in
Philadelphia than the South?
DOWDY: Well, I've never been treated bad anywheres. That's what I say when I met
this white family. I--when I with them, I moved--my sister was here. They
treated me as one of the family.
DOWDY: So I have been treated well all my life. I have nothing against Philadelphia--
DOWDY: --no hard feelings, because I've had it bad in other ways, but not with
people. I've been--
DOWDY: --I'm easy to get along with the people.
HARDY: So you didn't feel that Philadelphia, you know, as a black woman, you
were treated differently in Philadelphia or anything?
DOWDY: No, no. I never--no, I never been treated different for--
DOWDY: --in any parts of the world I've been.
HARDY: Okay. Okay. Let me back up again a little bit--
WHITE: --yeah, yeah.
HARDY: --to domestic, and--
HARDY: --I--you had something to say.
WHITE: Well, um, I guess I am a homebody. I love being in the home, I love
cooking, I love the children, and things like that. And, um, uh, I did a lot of
housework in the--and I did a lot of factory work, too. But, uh, I didn't mind
domestic work at all. I really, truly didn't, because, uh--
DOWDY: Neither did I.
WHITE: Huh? No, and, uh, and as was--we speak of segregation and things like
00:29:00that, I, uh, I've never experienced segregation in my life.
DOWDY: Neither have I.
WHITE: Either here or down South. Now, that incident my father went through, I
don't know if that's the first experience they ever had, but when they talk
about segregation and things, I never experienced it in the schools or anything.
WHITE: But, um, when we were going to school, I remember at the--not at recess,
when we--the--you had to gather in the yard to march into school. They don't do
this anymore, I don't--oh, yes, they do, I imagine.
DOWDY: Yeah, well--
WHITE: And I remember our principal. Her name was Miss Young. And she got up,
and she made an announcement to the whole schoolyard. Sh-she said--we was going
to school at 3rd and Wallace, at the Vare School, and she made a statement that
the Gibson family was one of the best families that had ever attended her school.
WHITE: And, uh, I think, uh, through all I can say about--one, we've all went
through school--going through school right now with high marks in extra credits
00:30:00and everything. So, uh--and we were never denied anything from school or
anything else. And segregation, I don't know anything about that, either.
DOWDY: Neither do I.
WHITE: So, uh-- Well, I think it's--
WHITE: --what people are looking for themselves. If you're not satisfied with
yourself, you're going to find something wrong somewhere.
HUNTER: Sure. Well--
WHITE: You're going to find something wrong.
WHITE: --and if you're satisfied, you're going to be happy and content, and, and
you can--maybe what some people call segregation, I would not call that. I would
just overlook it, and--
WHITE: --not really feel it.
HARDY: Mm, Arrow had something to say.
HUNTER: Oh, you mean about segregation, or start from the beginning?
HARDY: Wherever you want.
HUNTER: Well, I'll speak about--I'll speak about segregation now.
HUNTER: Well, uh, when I was growing up, I know we had, uh, black schools and
white schools and black churches, and everything was black and white. As you
say, uh, we had black businesses and white business. I mean, no--
WHITE: Um-hm, right.
HUNTER: So therefore--now, when I really encountered it, at the age of six, when
I started to school, the white children Northampton County of North Carolina
rode on the buses. The black kids--
HUNTER: --walked. They sometimes would come close to the ditch, we would rather
00:31:00walk in the ditch. Now, on one occasion there, uh, I'd say between eight years
and, uh, uh, eleven, uh, we had to walk four miles, as you've--to school. And
when we would get to school, the teacher would always say, "Let the Vaughn
children come to the heater first, because they had the furthest to come." Then,
of course, my, uh, my father and a neighbor, neighbor, they got this--made this
little surrey[EJD2] with a horse, and they alternated, uh, one horse one day and
another horse would go another day. That was after two years.
HUNTER: Now, uh, do you want me to continue about this, or you want to go to,
uh, the beginning--
HUNTER: --my life story--
HARDY: Well, let's start from the beginning.
HUNTER: --about-- Well, I would say, uh--well, first of all, my mother passed
when she was twenty-seven and I was five, and then, of course, my father
remarried when, when I was six. And, er, uh, he had his own farm at a very early
age, because he was a very ambitious person. And, uh, then after he married a
second time, they had eight children, so therefore he outgrew his farm. He had
to--his farm could no longer support his family. So he, he cut hair. He was a
00:32:00barber on the side, and also bought and sold livestock. And then, as the family
continued to grow, he left his farm, and rented a, a smaller family, and moved
over to a different county, where the land was richer, and would produce more,
more for his family, and he could still continue his barbering and cutting hair.
And then his sister came from Philadelphia to visit him, and she says yes, that
the children--we used to sing as kids--she said, "Come on up to s--come to
Philadelphia and try to sing." But my father, a very religious person, he did
not want us to sing, as we call it, bad songs. You know, he wanted you to--
F: Oh, yeah.
HUNTER: --stay with the religious songs. So anyway, so then my sister came
first, and then I came in, uh, January of 19, um--oh, um, '33. But the--I, I'm
going look [?] ut I still got--I want to get a part of my youth. Now, as Hattie
was saying about the cotton, I always liked to pick cotton. It might sound odd,
but, er, uh--and I was very good at that, 'cause I got as far as four hundred
pounds. I was always a good worker from childhood.
HUNTER: I've always been a very good worker.
HUNTER: We used to compete at--
HARDY: --hey everybody, we do have five hundred here. [Laughter]
HUNTER: It was two--now, my--it was two families that competed, the Barnes and
the Majacks [?]--
HUNTER: --and we--and the Barnes got through a baler a day, which was, what,
twelve hundred pounds of cotton is considered a bale a day. Then my father, he
used to say, "Well, I've been counting bales of cotton, actually instead of
seeing how much cotton I could raise a year, I would see how much money I could
make," you know. That's, that's really the, the, the--your answer to the whole
story. So meantime, his children by his first wife started to grow up, and, uh,
now his sister came and--or, uh, otherwise suggested that we would come to
Philadelphia, try to make a living here. Or, uh, he said, "Well, in other
words"--or, uh, then, uh, as I said before, then I came in 1933, and--or, uh,
mostly come down--uh, left the rest of the family down in North Carolina.
And--or, uh, so at that time I was sixteen, and, uh, the only job was available
was, uh, child nursing for me. And I wasn't allowed to do that because of child
labor law. Uh, I had to be, I think, eighteen--
HUNTER: --to work. And, uh, so therefore I put my age up to eighteen so I could
start to work. And then, uh, that's, that's where I, I, uh, met a very nice
00:34:00family, and I stayed there with the children for six years; they are now in
California. And--or, uh, then, then, of course, after that, I used to go back
South from time to time, and, uh, things were beginning to happen there, and
then I could see automation and the segregation, and that was a determination by
the blacks they would move out. Now, the rest of the sharecroppers started to
move or, uh, come--least because of the, uh, tractors. They could no longer use
the--Mr. Brown, who was--had the, uh, big house, he basically would have five
farmers. Well, he no longer need, uh, the five farmer with their family to house
his crop. He would use a tractor, so therefore they would come here, you know,
come to different, uh, cities in Philadelphia. And then, of course--or, uh, then
after, uh--then get it back to myself, uh, I--after doing child nursing, I, er,
uh-- Well, of course, I met and married, and, er, uh, then I was going to,
uh--after I married, uh, my idea was to more or less work along with my husband,
00:35:00but, of course, his attitude was different. He worked at the Post Office. And it
seemed, uh, at that time, uh, he--they wanted their--lot of their wives not to
work, you know. Now, uh, so then I bec--I was--became a housewife. And then, uh,
I was married in 1940, but I didn't start my family until 1943, and what really
prob-probably motivated that was I came home April of 1942 with this certificate
from the National Youth Administration. They wanted to send me down to
Quartermasters [Philadelphia Quartermaster Depot] with a job, because, as I said
before, there was no jobs available. Um, uh, the private industry hadn't started
to hire blacks in nineteen, uh, forty-one, and, uh, so Miss Matilda, uh, she was
going to send me down to Quartermasters. And I told to my husband my operation
was putting--setting flies on gentlemen's pants, you know, soldiers' pants. And,
of course, he suggested that if I wanted to do something, maybe I could start
the family. That's when I decided to start the family. And, of course--then, of
course, as I said, I have the one son, you know. Now, now get it back. Now, I
had been--now, get back to segregation. When I--I had never--my husband was born
00:36:00and raised in Philadelphia, and he--we always--we have been very, very
political. I've always--I started voting for R--for Roosevelt when I was
eighteen, or what was eighteen you could start? And I, I've always been--I've
been very much involved in politics. Now, I used to defend North Carolina. I
used to say this: I said, "North Carolina"--said, "where you were born is
something like your children: you love them, no matter--even though they do
wrong sometime, you still love them, and you'll defend them whenever you can. "
Now, I says, now, "Segregation is a, a national thing," and I--but in other
words--or, uh, I said, "but personally, with the exception of, er, uh, the
schools being different, it was a beautiful relationship between the whites and
the blacks." I mean, my father got along fine with the whites, as he was known
as a good farmer. They respected his ability to farm and take care of his
family, but they--what used to work--was--turned him off was they would call him
he's a "good boy." "Lincoln Barnes is a good boy. He's a good farmer."
WHITE: Right, right.
HUNTER: They wouldn't say Mr. Barnes. They would say, "Lincoln is a good boy."
HUNTER: They would say that. Now, then, in Nineteen--and in Nineteen--I received
00:37:00different messages, different things happened. Now, uh, after my father moved to
this special land, this lady, Ms. Brown's husband, was, uh, the-there before,
and he had a lot of activity at her house, like, well, taking care of the--all
the pigs in the house and different things, and oftentimes they go and they have
breakfast, you know, and, uh, sometime or, uh, uh, maybe her or her daughter
would borrow the car to drive to town, and, uh, sometime the two of them would
be going to town in the same car. And when I was home, I mean, I didn't notice
that, but when I came here I said, oh my God, we're about to see some dangerous
territory. It's terrible down there, you know, and he doesn't realize it. Then,
anyway, 1949, it was in August, I went to North Carolina to visit, and, like, I
came back by bus. And, uh, when we got to a stop--it went to North Carolina to
go in to get something to eat. Uh, prior to that, they had something called the
Chicken Special. Once you get to Washington, D.C. by train--it was a Silver
Meteor--you would automatically see the s--the, the, the, uh, northerners from
00:38:00the, uh--from this area, the eastern--
HUNTER: --going back South, they would always carry their food, and, uh, and lot
of times chicken, because you could travel with chicken a day or--
BREAK IN AUDIO
HARDY: Okay, there we go.
HUNTER: Now, now, uh, um, my first encounter with, uh, real segregation. Um, so
we got to the bus stop. Everybody jumped off to go in to get something to eat.
For a couple of --well, for, for that day, I hadn't thought anything about
segregation, period. I'd been enjoying this beautiful state of North Carolina. I
went into the restaurant, wanted to get something, and I walked into the front
door, and some gentleman was behind the desk. He looked at me, he says--and I
thought, what is he saying? You know, I didn't, didn't understand what he was
saying. [Laughter] He said-- And I said, "I beg your pardon?" Uh, so anyway, he
says, uh, "We serve, uh, uh, Negroes around the side." I said, "Oh, thank you,"
00:39:00and I came out of the store. I said, "Oh, that's it. This is what--this is the
feeling I've been hearing about all these years." [Laughter] So I said, oh--
I--so I came out of the store. I th--I kept--I was shaking, very embarrassed. It
hurts, because, like--it's like your child hurt you. I mean, it's your home
state, and you're being hurt.
HUNTER: So I said, oh well. I went around to the side, and I got this soda and
this hot dog, and I came back to the bus, and I said to, to my sister, uh, who
was around my--she was also traveling from West Virginia, and her husband was a
soldier, just came home, and, uh, she was working at Tuskegee--she was also a
nurse in the service--I said, "You know, R--uh, Roberta, I just got my first
experience on, uh, real--you know, personal, hit me directly." She said,
"Well"--that's my sister --"I'm, I'm surprised that you, you lucky all this
time," you know. Anyway--and then that was in '49, as I said before, and I came
back to Philadelphia. And I did--of course, I--in Philadelphia, in the, uh,
Thirties, uh, uh, most of the theaters were segregated. Uh, we sat--
HUNTER: --in the balconies of McKorksy's[?] Theater, the Mayfair Theater. You go
down Atlantic City, and I--at this time I was married. My husband's also a very
00:40:00proud fighter. That's why he never-- Now, he worked at the Post Office for,
for--from '36 to '66, thirty years, and he passed the test every time, but--they
want him to become political, to pay the party, but he refused to do it. And
then--or, uh--because he passed, and it was general knowledge that he had
passed, and he was determined to be promoted on his merit, but they never did
that until he became ill. They sent him this big--, et cetera, et cetera and,
uh, he would be going--he'll be a former, uh, now, he, uh, had qualified, but he
would back when he had lost his health, he wouldn't be able to--. And he turned
it down, as I said before, uh, plenty time. There was a theater down in Atlantic
City, on Atlan--Atlantic Avenue, and instead of seeing the picture, he wouldn't
go--he said, "Oh no, I don't want to sit up there." I said, "Well, most theaters
are that way." I said, "My face is too big to fight, you know." Anyway, but
oftentime he would go up there, but he would always be grumbling, you know.
[Laughter] And then--of course, then--and, and so to fight these things, I
was--I was one of the original members of FEP. See, that's Franklin Roosevelt's
program, Fair Employment Practice. Well, at that time they did not have any
00:41:00blacks in Philadelphia at the Quartermasters--um, they had a skeleton crew,
Quartermasters, the Navy Yard, the Marine Corps, the, uh, placed called, er,
uh--what's the place up there that, um--
ALEXANDER: Franklin [sic Frankford] Arsenal?
HUNTER: Franklin Arsenal.
HARDY: Franklin, yeah.
HUNTER: Uh, they--so we organized.
HARDY: This is beginning of the Second World War.
HUNTER: Yeah, that's right, yeah.
HUNTER: And I, I, I was very active in that, and I've been very active in
different, uh--anything that's fair, in--because I feel this way--Now getting
back to Philadelphia--uh, when I came here, my first disappointment was, uh, my
aunts told me that, uh, everything was more or less equal or fair here. Well,
the schools were, but I mentioned to my husband, I said, "Even though you see
everything is a--like, supposed to be according to the way the Co--the, uh, the
Constitution was written," I said, "I observe that once you graduate from high
school"--which, he c--he came out one of about three or four academic students
in 1932 from Overbrook High. It was a brand new school at that time. And I said,
"I noticed once you graduate you don't see none--an--an--don't see each other
anymore." That's why my son went to a black college. He went to Morgan State,
00:42:00where he became--where he's a member of the w--fraternity. He has more social
life. Now, anyway, I noticed that, um, certain jobs, you know, was for--was for
whites, and certain job was for blacks. You would go, uh--at that time the
population was very small in Philadelphia in 1933, or, um, uh, you could get on
a trolley, most any--I say--well, I don't say anyplace, but I say between 69th
Street and 15th and Market, and certain trolleys would be going in the--back to
their private homes, would be mostly black passengers, g--female, going for
employment, to work. And to come into town, I mean, it just was, was a few. You
know, maybe it was Horn & Hardart's, or maybe, you know, made in department
store and a few in the factory, you know. Uh, that was more the story in the
Fifties. And, uh--
HARDY: --hm, as late as the Fifties.
HUNTER: That's right, late as the--
HUNTER: --Fifties, yeah. Now, that might brings it up to 1983, then I--then I'll
keep quiet. [Laughter] Now, uh, just--now, right--I've been--I, I used to work
for every candidate, uh, since that time. I observed his record, you know, I
00:43:00read the platform and every convention, you know, and see what everybody have to
say. Then I try to follow through as much as I possibly can. Uh, now, uh, now
Wilson Goode, he's from--he's, he-he's right from my home county. Uh, he was--he
made a home--he made a trip home over this summer. He got--Weldon, North
Carolina. And what--
HUNTER: Uh-huh. And anyway, I'm just saying that, uh, to bring it up to now, I
feel as though we're, uh--or I look at his life story and I say, well, he has
grown--I, I can see his background--
HUNTER: --and I say, well, he really has grown.
WHITE: Mm, he has.
HUNTER: You know, right. And my I say this: I, I've been blessed to travel, uh,
different parts of the world. I mean, I've been to Morocco and, and different
places, or, uh, I've been like to S-S--or, uh, Mexico, and--or, uh--well, this,
this summer I'm going to Hawaii, for instance. Now, uh, then--but when you come
home, I said, "Well, you know, this is a beautiful part of the world to live--"
HUNTER: "--after all," because there, uh--I feel that Philadelphia, I mean, with
all the criticism and everything about different things, about being dead on the
weekends, et cetera--[Laughter]--we have been blessed. We've never had a, a flood.
HUNTER: Never had an earthquake.
HUNTER: Never had a tornado. And what I miss most of all about down South is I,
I, I more or less get a little homesick, even now, every spring. I like green. I
HUNTER: --and flowers. I do not like living close to people. I, I, I like
Philadelphia, uh, say from now until, oh, after the thirtieth of May, and then
I, I would--wish I lived out in the suburbs someplace, even now. Period.
[Laughter] I, I wanted to get in. I didn't know how long you have here.
HARDY: Oh, I g--I got a little more time if you all do.
WHITE: What time is it?
HARDY: We're going on 10:30.
WHITE: Oh, I got about a half hour more.
HARDY: Um-- Ok I have some questions. Can you tell me all what your first
impressions of this city were?
WHITE: When I came to Philadelphia,
WHITE: I thought--I was looking for a house. M--you know, where my sister live
00:45:00on the street. [Laughter] And, uh, everywhere I looked was stores, because these
houses were built just like the stores at home. [Laughter]
WHITE: And I said, "Where are all the houses?" I looked around and said, "These
are the houses." I said, "These people living in stores."
WHITE: Because at home, everybody had homes and yards and everything, and when I
came to Philadelphia and looked at these, uh, houses all looking like stores,
and everybody just packed up on top of one another, I was shocked. [Laughter]
HUNTER: Well, I guess what really impressed me most of all, and the, the, the
first--my first big impression was when I went out to a shopping area and saw
the fruit and the vegetables all out there, out, out on, on the street.
DOWDY: Yeah. [laughs]
HUNTER: You know, I don't know why. Most stores in the North Carolina at that
time, you'll see 'em they all had a showcase--
HUNTER: --and they had their fruit and vegetables all out there on the s--you
know, on the sidewalks, you know. But I thought it was a beautiful city. I must
HUNTER: I s--I, I've always thought it was a beautiful city. That's why I have
been here since 1933.
HARDY: Mm. Uh--
WHITE: Well, when I first came, I ha--I had never seen snow until I came to
00:46:00Philadelphia, and I was eight years old when we came up here. And I didn't know
what I thought when I first saw snow. [Laughter] And I thought it was the most
beautiful thing. Well, we stayed in it. We stayed out in it, and we played in
it, and we threw snowballs. And, and one thing at that time: nobody closed the
schools. I wouldn't care how much snow you had, how cold it was, how much rain
ALEXANDER: That's true.
WHITE: --the schools was never true.
ALEXANDER: That's true.
WHITE: I remember the first failed mark I ever got on my report card. The, the
principal he told us, "Don't come to school early when you can't line up in the
yard," because then they'd have to have a teacher to monitor you in the
hallways. Well, then you didn't have any radio, no television. School was your
best part of life at that time.
DOWDY: That's true, uh-huh.
WHITE: So after we had lunch, right back to school, gang of kids went running
and playing up and down the stairways and hallways. And our principal got us all
together. She says, "You did not obey me, and I'm going to punish all of you."
She said, "Everybody's getting a P in conduct on your report card." [Laughter]
00:47:00And I got that P, and I cried for days, until I got a headache, 'cause I'd never
had a--[laughs]. And I had never seen a carrot before. And I told Mommy, "They
had the prettiest, the yellowest sweet potatoes." [Laughter] I said, "Well, Mom,
you see, those little sweet potatoes," I said, "oh, they're so pretty!"
[Laughter] Yeah, my mother laughed. She knew what it was.
HUNTER: I was just going to say this: now--bi--I'm, I'm sorry--uh, being I was
raised when we visit North Carolina, I never raised, I uh, I never saw any
tobacco grow-- .
DOWDY: I did, I did, I did um-hm.
HUNTER: And, and something else: in our diet, uh, uh---most southerners eat a
lot of rice.
F: Hm? Hm?
F: Cross over the other side.
HUNTER: Uh, in, in our diet, most southerners eat, eat a lot of rice--
HUNTER: --and, of course, my brother from--born and raised in North Carolina,
his wife was born and raised in South Carolina, and after their honeymoon she,
she said it was a delicious meal, 'cause it--which consists of rice for the
starchy vegetable. And, er, uh, anyway, um, another one was grits, and he did
00:48:00not know--I believe that he did not know what it was. And so he--as soon as he
says, "What's this on the side here?" She said, "It's grits," you know. [Laughs]
So he says, uh, "Yes, yes, I really never had any, uh, grits." And, uh, when she
couldn't actually--she didn't believe him, that he'd never had any grits before,
but our parents never bought or s-served grits and that's a very, very, you
HUNTER: --important part of a--
HUNTER: --Southern meal, the breakfast, our breakfast.
F: Right, right. Well, we never ate rice.
HARDY: Right, right.
DOWDY: Well, [?]
F: --well, I ne--I never--
DOWDY: Well, we made our own grits, um-hm.
F: Oh, sure. My father, too.
DOWDY: We would take our corn to the mill and have it ground. We have a--
DOWDY: --mill ground--
DOWDY: --and our grits ground. We had--
F: --our flour--
F: --we had [?]
F: --that's what we did.
DOWDY: --for our--yes.
F: We made our own soap, too.
DOWDY: And I--what--you know, I never--
DOWDY: --when I came to Philadelphia I had never seen a five-pound bag of flour--
F: Oh, dear,
DOWDY: --because my parents always bought everything by the barrel. We had
barrels of flour. We had the smokehouse, and they had the uh pantry.
ALEXANDER: Yes, -- right.
DOWDY: And, uh, bell--we had made our own lard and everything like that.
ALEXANDER: Right, right, so did we.
DOWDY: So when I went in the--the store, my sister said--"You go to the store
and buy some, uh, flour."
DOWDY: So I went in. She said, "Well, how much do you buy?"--she said, "You get,
uh--." I said--'cause I was in school, I --said a quarter pound. So I went in
the store. I said, "Will you give me a quarter pound of flour?" He said, "What's
a quarter pound of flour?" [Laughter]
WHITE: I never thought of it that way.
DOWDY: He said, "One fourth pound." I said, "Well, one fourth is a quarter,
isn't it?" [Laughter]
HARDY: That's funny.
DOWDY: And my father, like this. We, we n--flour--
DOWDY: --cornmeal or any--it was never bought, because--
WHITE: Thank you.
DOWDY: --my father--
DOWDY: --all we had the wheat--
DOWDY: --and my father would take it to the mill.
WHITE: Yeah, right.
DOWDY: And make our own wheat flour. And what they call now the whole wheat--
DOWDY: --we called it the shorts.
DOWDY: The shorts--
HARDY: The shorts?
DOWDY: Shorts, that's what they called it, because that was the husk rind from the--
WHITE: --husk, um-hm.
DOWDY: --the little kernels of the wheat, and, uh, that's what we had. And
meats--and we never--we didn't know what it was to ever buy meat--
F: --buy meat.
F: That's true.
DOWDY: --because my father--
F: That's true.
DOWDY: --raised the hogs--
DOWDY: --and we had this placed called--a place out from the house, a little
house called--we called the smokehouse--
DOWDY: --and we had hogs hanging up in there.
F: Right, right.
DOWDY: The midlands
DOWDY: --swinging almost to the floor, and sausage like--
DOWDY: --and lard.
F: Pudding, right.
DOWDY: My mother would make those tubs of lard--
DOWDY: And the way we would save the sausage, like she would make the sausage
bowl and cook them--
F: --um-hm, right.
DOWDY: --and put them down in this lard. Anytime we wanted a sausage, she wanted
sausage, she would dig down in there and take these sausage out of the lard and
warm them up, and it was just like fresh.
DOWDY: And hams, all that, see. And, uh, my father uh was what I--like I say,
where we lived, we had this big house set back up on the hill with a big well in
F: Right, uh-huh.
DOWDY: --and everybody around, they would come to our yard to draw their water,
00:51:00and my father had the--on the cane mill.
F: So did mine.
DOWDY: And they--everybody for miles and miles around--
DOWDY: --when they would cut that cane, gather--
DOWDY: --they would bring it there, and I've known my father worked weeks at the
time, day and night, grinding, making syrup.
HUNTER: Keep the syrup --
DOWDY: --making syrup.
HUNTER: --from the sugarcane.
DOWDY: And they would come 'round. You could hear my dad. We'd be going to bed
late, but they still be out there--my father still be cooking syrup.
WHITE: Cooking that syrup.
DOWDY: And barrels and barrels of syrup.
HARDY: --hm. They had--
DOWDY: --of syrup.
HARDY: --sugarcane that far north?
DOWDY: Yeah, uh, yeah, south.
HUNTER: Yeah, we had sugarcane. That's what we made our molasses out of.
DOWDY: All kind, and they had different kind.
WHITE: --different kinds of sugar--
DOWDY: --different kinds of--
WHITE: --I mean cane.
DOWDY: --different kinds of cane--
WHITE: That's right.
DOWDY: --different varieties of it--
WHITE: --yeah, sugarcane--
DOWDY: --make different, uh, kinds of syrup--
DOWDY: --and my father could make syrup. It, it was so thick, sometimes when it
00:52:00was--however you would want it. You could just take it up like that. It's almost
DOWDY: And good. And, uh, our cows and things like that, we never had to buy
anything. So, as you say when you come to the city, your first impression, I had
never been in a city at night.
DOWDY: Because we were out in the country, and, uh, I got the biggest-- anybody
could've gotten, the Halloween, the first Halloween that we were here We went to
Darien--I'll never forget it--and Girard Avenue, and we would cross there. It
was a meatpacking place where they had all these steps, and that, that time they
kept the steps and things clean, and we sat on that step and watched this parade
of, uh--I mean, uh--
F: Anybody --
DOWDY: --march, like the Halloween people--going backwards and forwards over
Girard, and I thought it was the prettiest sight I had ever seen. Some of the
people, they wouldn't--they wasn't dressed all--
DOWDY: --funny like now.
DOWDY: And then the next thing, right after we hear, the soldiers. I guess you
would call them--what would--how many soldiers? But sometime they would be
almost two blocks, and they were being trained, I guess, going--marching on
DOWDY: --coming from -- towards 10th Street, marching towards Front Street, on
Girard Avenue. And their uniform thing, you could hear the--I guess it was the
general--what he call the--the one that lead, uh--
DOWDY: --the commander, whatever he was.
HARDY: --commander, whatever his rank was.
DOWDY: Uh, yes, what. And he was going, you know. And this soldier, and we just
sat, sat there and watched it sometime. You see some peoples crying, and
the--this was 1917--
HARDY: This is during the war. Now, Hattie, you said that, um, after your father
died you went back south.
WHITE: When did you come back to Philadelphia, now?
DOWDY: In '21.
HARDY: In '21.
HARDY: And what brought you back to the city?
DOWDY: Well, I, I knew it was better here for me--[Laughter]--after I had been
00:54:00away, but not, not that I wasn't treated good in the South.
DOWDY: Never had any trouble with anyone in the South.
HARDY: Why was Philadelphia better?
DOWDY: I don't know. It was a city--[Laughter]--different from country, walking
on pavement, walking on the dirt--
F: More things happened, huh.
DOWDY: --on the dirt roads, you know? In the country there-there's no paved roads--
DOWDY: --or anything. It's just dirt roads--
F: That's right
DOWDY: --you walk. Like, uh, many time, like, we'd have our little shoe--
HUNTER: But n-now --
DOWDY: --now it's different.
DOWDY: But you think--
HARDY: So what--
DOWDY: --uh, but I--from 1917 until now, that is sixty-some years--
WHITE: That's right.
WHITE: Uh, the year I was born.
DOWDY: And it's different.
HUNTER: Can I say this?
HARDY: That's right.
HUNTER: Now, as a young adult, I think the reason why that I, I, er, liked,
uh--why I remained in Philly, uh, because it was more things happening that I
liked. I've always liked music, all kinds, you know, and I could participate. I
mean, I, I, I like to dance, and, er, uh, I like the theater. See, uh, in North
Carolina--my father was very religious--I had never been to a theater when I
00:55:00came here. I had never been to a dance, or s--uh, never allowed to ride in a
car, uh, with a, a boy alone. He was a country deacon, I might say now.
HUNTER: A country deacon. And, er, uh, that was--
HUNTER: --very, very religious, and some--if something would happen to you, more
or less everybody in the whole area know about it--
HUNTER: --and everybody--almost the whole town, you know. So therefore you had
to walk in more the straight line, you know--but in, in, in Philadelphia you had
more of, uh-- You could, uh, participate in more things that youth would, you
HUNTER: A lot of the activities--uh, down South, a lot of activities I, I would
say always start around the church, a lot of programs--
HUNTER: --a lot of, uh, different things would start around the church, you
know, different kind of activities. I mean, and literally--yes, e-even, even
political used to start out at church, and everyone liked--
HARDY: --yeah, I talked to, um, two fellas, one was eighty-nine and the other
was ninety-three, who'd come up, I guess, 1917, 1920--and they talked about they
00:56:00were apparently, um, young blades who did a lot of gambling, bit of drinking, and--
HARDY: --running around. They liked the bright lights, I guess, they--
HARDY: --and they, they--
DOWDY: That's a different life.
HARDY: --talked for a long time--
HARDY: --about the differences between--
HARDY: --going out in the South and then--and up here.
HARDY: Down South, either their brothers were with you or their fathers were
with you. He said--
HARDY: --you never got a kiss, no matter how long you'd known that girl.
[Laughter] Yeah, everything was different.
F: That's right.
F: That's true.
HARDY: Everything was different.
HUNTER: I, I, I--may I say this: I had never seen a drunk man 'til I came to Philadelphia.
HUNTER: This is a true statement.
WHITE: Me, either.
HUNTER: I had never seen a drunk person.
HUNTER: I really never seen a--I never really seen a fight.
WHITE: I didn't even --
DOWDY: --you know if people in the South, if they were a drinker or a drunkard--
WHITE: --they stayed home.
F: Everybody knew.
DOWDY: --they stayed away from--
WHITE: They stayed home.
DOWDY: They didn't let their--
DOWDY: --families and things know.
F: That's right.
DOWDY: --they would play out in the woods, something.
WHITE: True. That's true.
DOWDY: That's how they got sober--
WHITE: --that's right.
DOWDY: --and, and come home.
DOWDY: They wasn't drunk and over their house, like--
WHITE: You never seen nobody going around drunk.
WHITE: No, you didn't.
HARDY: But it seemed that--
WHITE: --not at that time.
HARDY: You know, it seemed that in the South, because everything was so close,
and you had that control--
HARDY: --the church, and everybody knowing everybody--
HARDY: --that you couldn't do a lot, and a lot of people, when they did come to
00:57:00the city, sort of got--
HARDY: --got carried away.
ALEXANDER: Oh, that's right. Always a fight.
HARDY: Or got caught up.
DOWDY: Well, I didn't.
ALEXANDER: Yeah, that's true.
DOWDY: A lot--
WHITE: We didn't either, because--
DOWDY: --but a lot of them did.
WHITE: --my, my, my--
WHITE: --my father and mother, they didn't--like you say, they didn't allow us.
So my father always used the expression, "Ladies don't do this," or "Ladies
don't do that."
DOWDY: That's true.
WHITE: "Ladies don't cross their legs." "Ladies don't--"
DOWDY: --don't --
WHITE: "--let their slip hang below their dress."
F: That's true.
WHITE: If he saw your slip hanging below your dress, he'd reach out, take it,
and yank it, and just the whole thing was off the strap-- [Laughter]
F: That's true.
WHITE: Don't you dare show your slip! Oh, he always used that expression.
HUNTER: May I ha--uh, say--suggest one thing that I think would help our youth
today? I think back--or, uh, as I said to my grandson, I, I often said always
keep a line of communication between, uh, he and I, because I have been through
all those years. He--I wasn't always a senior citizen. You know, I've been one,
seventeen, and twenty-three.
HUNTER: I think one of the main programs for youth today is Brick.
F: Yeah, um-hm.
HUNTER: I mean, no matter what it's doing--
WHITE: That's true.
HUNTER: --just responsibility from, I would say, from twelve years--
HUNTER: --especially twelve to eighteen, something to do. I mean, because when I
think back, how did--how did I stay out of mischief, you know--
HUNTER: --something to do, work, something, because--
HUNTER: --if you have so much--uh, and so many people out today. I mean, and
I--of course, I personally have a nephew don't know what a job is, you know what
HUNTER: He skips and maneuvers and, uh, so you think, well, well, uh, uh, how
they come through? In other words, society, you know, is so, uh--or they have so
many things going for today, they overlook the youth--our youth is in, into so
much mischief that costs those of us who work so much money.
HARDY: Right. What's the old saying, idle hands are the devil's playground?
F: Right, right.
DOWDY: Yeah, idle minds is the devil's workshop.
HARDY: Right, right, right, right.
F: It is, that's true.
DOWDY: Well, my mother used to get us up at five o'clock in the morning. Every
child she had had to get up at five o'clock in the morning. She would call you
three times. The third time, if you weren't up, she would pour cold water on
you. [Laughter] We had to get up and do our chores, do all our work. She said,
"Get up if you don't do anything to get fresh air, and sit on the porch."
F: That's right, that's right! [Laughter]
DOWDY: She said, "Get up." And we always got up at five o'clock in the morning
until today. I still get up early in the morning--
F: It's good for you.
HARDY: Did you all have any warnings or advice before you came to the city, from
family or friends, people who give you--you know, tell you, "Oh, you
HARDY: "--because of this," or can you tell me any--
DOWDY: --my, my aunt--
HARDY: --let Annie--
DOWDY: My mother told me when she came here, she said, "Don't walk close to the--"
DOWDY: "--walls, because they have trapdoors--"
DOWDY: "--and you will fall in, and somehow will pull you in, and we'll never
see you again." [Laughter]
F: That's right!
HARDY: You heard the--
DOWDY: --and I was afraid--
HARDY: --you heard the same story?
DOWDY: --I was afraid to go into people's house to work on that account--
DOWDY: --because they say, like, uh, the doctors, they say, the doctors would
DOWDY: Because they wanted to--
WHITE: --experiment on you.
DOWDY: --experiment on you, and you would never go, uh--they said they would
have sneaks or soft shoes, and--
DOWDY: --you couldn't hear them walk, and you have to be very careful, because
the doctors would get you. This is what we were told. If you go to work say--so
many people that go to work in people's houses, or work in their home--
DOWDY: --and, uh, say when they walk in, once they get you in there, that if you
were the type of person that they were looking for, they would keep walking and
say a trapdoor--
WHITE: Um-hm, right.
DOWDY: --would open, and you would fall in the basement, and you would never
been seen again. And so you've got to be very careful when you go to
Philadelphia. I was scared to death. [Laughter]
HUNTER: My, my parents are--when I--when I left at sixteen, [---] young girl
[--] older and so, uh, they says, uh, "Make sure--you going up north, and, uh,
it's cold up there. Make sure you always wear your long underwear," because
always--they were always afraid you would catch tuberculosis. So many people
leave--leaving--uh, leaving the South and going North, and they would coming
back with tuberculosis. So, of course, when I left home I made sure--uh, that I
have my long underwear, so when I got to my aunt's h-home, uh, after about a
01:01:00week, I put the long underwear in the drawer, and I haven't had the long
underwear on since. [Laughter]
WHITE: Well, you're wearing them now.
HUNTER: I guess you're right. Back then--they're probably wearing them again now.
HARDY: Other funny--some, some of the--
HUNTER: I, I came up here on the, uh--when I came across the Chesapeake Bay, at
that time they had the bo-boat. Now they have this, uh, bridge, and, uh, they
had the boat that went from, uh, Norfolk to Cape Charles at that time. Yeah.
HARDY: Mm. Were there any others--any other advice, or stories like that that
you remember hearing? I heard, um, one woman, who was also from--her father had
been a--owned his own farm in North Carolina--
HARDY: --and she came up in 1930, apparent--in the midst of the Depression, but
she and her husband had--they'd had enough. He--I guess she married poorer than
her father, and so they were sharecropping, and--
HARDY: --she just said, "I'm not going to work on someone else's farm. We're
going to Philadelphia. So they brought something like a hundred pounds of canned
F: Yes. [laughs]
HARDY: --meats, and they came up.
HUNTER: They were canning.
HARDY: But she, she--her, um, mother had, um-- There was something, Don't
want--don't fall--watch out for Mary. Watch out for the example of Mary. And it,
it was a, a little story. I--gee, I should, should remember this--about being
HUNTER: Yeah, oh yes, um-hm.
HARDY: --you know, and don't follow the example of Mary.
HARDY: And apparently this was a story, you know, of--
HUNTER: --turn wild, in other words.
HARDY: Yeah, turn wild, d--
HUNTER: --my advice is "Don't turn wild," 'cause I was always very active. You
know, I was--I mean, I was large as a girl, so therefore I would--maybe I apply
what other girls do, apply to work, you know, and I would go to--uh, with
the--the--he had some hired fellow. He'd had a divorce by his older--first wife,
and I was always like a tom--a tomboy. That's right. And so there I'm not so
concerned about other girls, but, er, uh, you, you know, don't go up there and
get--turn wild. [Laughter]
F: Oh, dear!
DOWDY: Well, I was married when I came here, so--
HARDY: No chance to turn wild, always been--
DOWDY: --I didn't have no chance to turn wild.
WHITE: And I was young, and I didn't know anyone that lived up here when I came
up here, you know, to give me any advice, or, if they did they would've talked
to him anyway. They probably talked to my parents. [Laughter]
HARDY: Huh. There--I got another question for you. You mentioned when you came
up they said to wear your long underwear, and there were--
HARDY: --a lot of comments about, you know, the greenhorns up in the city,
because they worse those--
HUNTER: Oh, yeah.
HARDY: --those same old blue overalls and bandan--in fact, um, you know,
Philadelphia blacks were very concerned about the image of the race, used to get
angry with the greenhorns for wearing bandanas and overalls in public, and
giving blacks a bad name.
HARDY: Do you--do you all remember any, you know--
HARDY: --greenhorn sort of stories about --
DOWDY: Well, I don't remember any greenhorns, but--
WHITE: Yeah, --
DOWDY: --I know in the country people wore overalls on the, on the farm. They
didn't wear them when they went in the city--
DOWDY: --because I remember one time my father had to bring me something to
school, and he came, he was in his working clothes, and he had his overalls on,
and I ran and hid, 'cause I didn't want to see the kids--uh, kids see my father
01:04:00in overalls. [Laughter] So I didn't come out. He couldn't find me.
HUNTER: Well, may I say this? I know some gentlemen right today, this is a, a, a
true fact. Well, yesterday, I gave him--I lost a brother, and I gave him some,
some dungarees they had to give somebody. He needed the pants. I knew he
didn't--the dungarees. He said, "I have never worn a pair of dungarees since
Hoover said, uh, "A guy that wears dungarees is no worth--worth no more than a
dollar a day."
HUNTER: He never wears dungarees. Overalls--
HUNTER: Uh, uh, well, that's--overalls only, that's right.
HUNTER: Uh, until now, he never, um, never wears any, uh, uh--
WHITE: What'd Hoover say?
HUNTER: He said Hoover said that in Hoover's administration.
DOWDY: Hoover said what?
HUNTER: He's a bit older than I am. And I said, "These cost--uh, dungarees today
are very expensive." "I don't care," said, "There's something about it. Hoover
turned me off of--" what he called dungarees now, but overalls." Said, "I'll
never forget, made a statement that anybody--any man that wears overalls not
worth over a dollar a day, you know."
DOWDY: Well, you didn't give them but fifty cents a day.
HUNTER: Well-- [Laughter] Right.
ALEXANDER: Couldn't give some of them that.
DOWDY: They had to sell out--
WHITE: --right, that's right.
DOWDY: --I guess you got a point there, yeah.
WHITE: --fifty cents a day.
HARDY: Mm. Hattie, what work did you do when you, when you came to the city? Did
you work when you came with your husband in '21, I guess you said, when you returned?
ALEXANDER: Oh, yes. The first job that I got--I don't even--but it was on
American Street. It was a little factory around there, separating feathers. This
man had a--I don't--it was feathers--it was between-- It was on American Street,
must be between Brown and Poplar, long--but it was on American Street. And I
would go in there, and all kind of feathers--you've never seen feathers like he
had. You were separating, separating feathers all day, putting them in different
piles and different things. That was the first job. It was an easy job, but it
wasn't much money. If I get six, seven dollars a week--
ALEXANDER: --you know, it was like piecework.
ALEXANDER: S--you got to--you have to put so many, and you know what they was
01:06:00paid. And then the next job that I had, I worked, um, at 4th and Girard Avenue
in a cigar factory.
HARDY: You did work in a cigar--a-ha. I know--you're the first cigar worker I've
HARDY: Yeah, --
ALEXANDER: --uh, I worked in there--in the big--no, it wasn't no Bayuk--I can't
even--I keep--I, I don't even know the name of the place. All know, it was a
cigar, uh, uh, tobacco factory there on the corner of 4th and Girard Avenue.
HARDY: And what work did you do?
ALEXANDER: And--like, um, stemming tobacco, they called it, like, uh, you, you
get a bundle of tobacco, or about this big around, or sometimes larger, and you
would have--you know, you have your apron on your lap, the board, and you would
sit there and take this long stem, you know, start at the top and stemming
tobacco. That was--it was kind of nice, but that got so strong--smelling that
01:07:00tobacco all day.
HARDY: How long did you work there?
ALEXANDER: Oh, about, about a year and a half.
HARDY: Did--who--what were the people, like, you worked with?
ALEXANDER: The people were nice. They were very nice to you, but, um, uh, you
just get tired, or, or you, you go out, look for something different.
HARDY: Yeah. What sort of--what sort of people did the stemming? Was it all
colored women who did the s-stemming?
ALEXANDER: Colored and white.
HARDY: Um-hm. 'Cause I heard that at Bayuk I know that the black women had
the--they did the stem--the worst jobs--
HARDY: --and then all of the--
HARDY: --the finish work--
HARDY: --was done by--
ALEXANDER: --the white--
HARDY: Yeah, the white--
ALEXANDER: --well, I know there, that was white, uh, young men--I guess they
couldn't get a job, either--and women, and they was there stemming this tobacco.
Because at the time when I was there, I guess it--uh, there wasn't many colored
people down around there, and, uh you know, doing that kind of work, 'cause that
01:08:00was a good job. That was supposed to have been--a good job. And it, it, it
wasn't--it wasn't a bad job, but it was mixed, stemming this tobacco.
WHITE: It wasn't hard.
ALEXANDER: No, it wasn't hard. You s--the--in this, uh--had a bong--a fella
called a bong boy, and when you, uh, you would left finish, you would--
ALEXANDER: --tell him, and they'd take this tobacco when you get a pile, and you
would lay it on the board, nice and straight, and you'd get finished, had
another board to lay on top of it, press it down, keep it nice and, and tell him
you needed work. That's all. And he would come, sometime from girl to girl. He
would sit down and stem three or four leaves for you, you know, called itself
helping you out. Wasn't much, it was--it was nice.
ALEXANDER: I, I, I was able to, to--
ALEXANDER: --survive on--
HARDY: Right. Where--let me just follow it through--
F: --no, I'm sorry, that's all right.
HARDY: --up through the Twenties. Where, where did you go, then, when you
01:09:00got--when you left the, uh, cigar factory?
ALEXANDER: I went home. I--when I left home--left there, I would come home.
HARDY: No, I, I mean after you quit that job, what did you--
HARDY: --go to from there?
ALEXANDER: I was--got a little job. It was a clothing place. It seems like it
was ladies' blouses or something. And I was trying to learn how to sew. It was
on Cherry Street. I can't even remember the name but--of this place, because I
didn't stay there long. And, and, and that's all what I would do like that. And
then my brother--my brother, he had a little store there, at 1026 Third Street,
and then I would work in his little cigar store--
ALEXANDER: --candies and--
ALEXANDER: --cigars and little things like that we had there. And that's the way
I made it.
ALEXANDER: And then my husband, he was working.
HARDY: What did he do?
ALEXANDER: Construction work. He was working on a construction job. And don't
01:10:00ask me where. I know he would be awfully dirty and have to come
home--[Laughter]--keeping me washing his clothes every night.
HARDY: So he, uh--
HUNTER: And that was good money in those days.
HARDY: He would dig out the--
ALEXANDER: --it was not--
HARDY: --foundations and do that sort of thing?
ALEXANDER: Yes, working on--working on streets and--and paving, and, and pavements.
ALEXANDER: I know he used to say that you have to dig holes in the pavements,
you know, take up the blocks, and go down in there. People go down in there.
Like, I remember that.
HUNTER: Oh, no, I was just going to hit a--[clears throat]--hit on a phase of my
life that I found very interesting, although it was in later years. It was, er,
uh, my nursing career, and, uh, I more or less took care of international
patients during the, uh, the Nazi period. They used to come over with all these
tags on their suitcases, you know, from all over Europe--
HUNTER: --and I would go down and hear all their life stories, from Russia,
Czechoslovakia, Albania, or Germany, different places. And I found it very
interesting. Uh, that was--that was in between, uh, '50--that's between '48 and '53.
HARDY: That's past our period. [Laughter]
HUNTER: Yeah, too late, it's too late, huh, yeah.
HARDY: All right, well, I've probably kept you all long enough now. I'm sure you all--
F: --oh, yes.
HARDY: --want to, you know--
F: Did Hattie, uh, tell you about how she-- Did you tell him about your, your--?
ALEXANDER: Oh, no, I, I didn't----get around to that. It was so much.: It was so
much, but then I went--but one thing, I, I've always wanted to learn, but I, I,
I would go to school, and then I would stop and work. I'd get a good job, and if
I was making good I did--I forgot about the schooling then. As long as I was making--
WHITE: Yeah, working--
ALEXANDER: --a good salary--
WHITE: --living good.
ALEXANDER: And then finally I started to go into--after--this was after grown.
Now, this was just a few years ago, and I said, well, I guess I might as well to
go--I don't have anything after my husband passed in '52. There's nothing for me
to do, so now--I was working. I said, I believe I'll go to school now and see if
01:12:00I can get my--a high school-equivalent diploma. I went to Edison this year, and
it closed down. The next year we didn't have any classes, the evening class. I
said, oh, well, I'll, I'll give that up. I'll keep on working.
ALEXANDER: I'm making all right. And, uh, I said, well--a friend of mine said,
"Let's go to Dobbin." This was 22nd and Columbia Avenue. We went there about two
months, and the--I said, oh my goodness, I said, can't make it in this time.
Then I said, well, I'm going to library. I'm going to learn, anyway.
ALEXANDER: I stopped. Then about four, about four--yeah, about four years ago, I
said, oh, I said, you know what? I, I'm going to get this diploma if it's the
last thing I can do. I'm going to do it. So I started going to library, and I
01:13:00went to the library, and it was a very encouraging. She say, "I don't see why
you can't." Said, "You know enough to pass the test." Said, "Why don't you try?"
Said, "Go take your test." And I went and taken the test and failed, seventeen points.
ALEXANDER: I failed seventeen points, and I said, "Oh my God." He said, "But you
can do it." Said, "A lot of people have to take--you can take it over." Said,
"You can take the test over." So finally I went back, and I taken--I needed six
points. You--I came, and I needed six points.
ALEXANDER: I said, I'm not--I'm not going back down there and giving 'em my
money anymore. [Laughter] So after I start coming here, Miss Adams, I was
telling her, she say, "You can do it." Says, "I'll help you with the English and
thing." So I says, "Well, I believe I will." This was when we lived at Girard
Avenue, before we moved here.
ALEXANDER: So she would help me and like so finally--oh, it was two years ago--I
01:14:00went, and I passed my test--
ALEXANDER: --and got my diploma. And I was so happy--[Laughter]--I didn't even
want to tell anybody.
ALEXANDER: And I told this lady here.
F: Yeah, she told me, yeah.
ALEXANDER: And she started to talking.
ALEXANDER: You--she said, "You know, you know, you don't tell me, because I
can't keep anything." [Laughter] And that's the way it got out. So then--
F: At the age of--
ALEXANDER: --and at the--
HUNTER: --is that when you--this was in, in --
WHITE: --Seventy-nine, then, or Seventy-eight?
ALEXANDER: Oh, I was eighty-- Must've been--
WHITE: --about eighty, eighty.
ALEXANDER: --about eighty, eighty.
F: --seventy-nine or eighty.
HARDY: That's terrific.
ALEXANDER: And I got it.
F: Yeah, --.
ALEXANDER: And then, uh, they called me, uh, from this, uh, place
out--thirty--in the thirty-seven hundred block of Chester School.
ALEXANDER: They wanted to come over for an interview. Uh, "We want it so we can,
uh, put you--put you in the book." I said, "No." I don't like publicity.
[Laughter] You know what I mean?
ALEXANDER: I don't like--just, just, just be this, that.
WHITE: That's true.
ALEXANDER: I don't like that.
ALEXANDER: I, I just like to be Hattie, that's all.
HARDY: Well, that seems to be enough. [laughs]
ALEXANDER: But I got the diploma, and my picture was in, uh, the--
F: --union newspaper.
ALEXANDER: --in the union paper with this beautiful girl, and Miss Adams--
ALEXANDER: --taken by Mr. Fisher.
ALEXANDER: I was so happy, and yet I was a--I was ashamed.
F: No, that's --
ALEXANDER: --because--I, I was ashamed of myself in one way, and in the other
way I was proud.
WHITE: Proud, right.
ALEXANDER: I was ashamed of myself going so long, all this time, wanting to do that--
F: Well, you shouldn't--
DOWDY: It's inspiring. That inspired me.
ALEXANDER: Uh, but, but--
ALEXANDER: --after so long, I should've had it forty--I should've had it fifty--
WHITE: --it was just your time.
ALEXANDER: --sixty years ago! [laughs] Yeah, that's right.
WHITE: --I took GED classes four, five years ago.
ALEXANDER: That's right, see, I was making good on the job.
ALEXANDER: --this was -- making good.
WHITE: -- my diploma, I went because I love to read.
WHITE: You know how the language changes today, the words and everything, and the--
WHITE: --you study--everything is new, and I was picking up the paper, and I
read, and I couldn't understand half the words I was reading.
F. Thank you.
WHITE: And I became angry--
[End of interview.]