Transcript
Toggle Index/Transcript View Switch.
Index
Search this Index
X
00:00:04 - Working at the American Sugar Refinery plant in Baltimore

Play segment

Partial Transcript: How long have you been here? Yeah.

Segment Synopsis: Wilson came north from South Carolina in 1917. In this segment, he describes his job at the American Sugar Refinery plant in Baltimore, where he worked after moving away from Philadelphia the first time. He recalls being the only Black man contracted as a foreman at the plant.

Keywords: American Sugar Refinery; Baltimore, Maryland; Domino Sugar Plant; Foremen

Subjects: African American supervisors; African Americans--Employment.; American Sugar Refining Company.; Baltimore (Md.); Personnel management.; Supervision of employees.; Supervisors.

GPS: Domino Sugar Refinery in Baltimore, Maryland.
Map Coordinates: 39.273231, -76.597223
00:02:45 - Impressions of Philadelphia in 1923

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Uh, after which--after spending pretty near three years there, I came back to Philadelphia.

Segment Synopsis: Wilson recalls his dismay upon returning to Philadelphia to see how the city and the people changed. He remembers the Quakers running the city when he was there before, and the friendliness of the city under their control.

Keywords: Atlantic City, New Jersey; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Quakers (Society of Friends); Taprooms

Subjects: Philadelphia (Pa.); Quakers.; Society of Friends.

00:05:13 - On his work in Philadelphia after his arrival in 1917

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Course I had to work back in those days, from a very youngster up. Uh, was not able to seek up the bright lights, and I didn't care to.

Segment Synopsis: Wilson describes his hard, albeit fruitless, work in Philadelphia. He recalls his first job at Newton Coal Company (27th and South) and his next job at Eddystone Munitions Corporation in Chester during World War I and how everyone was paid in gold.

Keywords: 27th and South Street (Philadelphia, Pa.); African American workers; Eddystone Munitions Corporation; Newton Coal Company; Working conditions; World War I

Subjects: African Americans--Employment.; World War, 1914-1918

00:07:34 - On the best and worst times to live in Philadelphia

Play segment

Partial Transcript: And, uh, those were the days that it was a pleasure living here. Everything was cheap.

Segment Synopsis: Wilson describes his first years in Philadelphia when he thoroughly enjoyed living in the city, when everything was inexpensive and it was easy to find a place to live. He goes on to describe in detail the Italians who moved to Philadelphia for work and their heavy influence in the city, and expresses his dislike for the administration of Philadelphia's Italian-American Mayor, Frank Rizzo.

Keywords: Italian Americans--Philadelphia; Mayor Frank Rizzo; Nostalgia; Philadelphia ward politics; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Subjects: African Americans--Pennsylvania--Philadelphia.; African Americans--Politics and government.; African Americans--Relations with Italian Americans; African Americans--Social conditions.

GPS: Philadelphia's Italian Market
Map Coordinates: 39.939091, -75.157816
00:11:33 - On his move from South Carolina in 1917

Play segment

Partial Transcript: What brought you up to Philadelphia, the first time?

Segment Synopsis: Wilson describes the working situation in his home in South Carolina: it was agriculturally based and the wages were extremely low, which prompted his move north. He then describes yet another job he held in Philadelphia, at a "chitterling house" near 17th and Lombard Streets, which he says was extremely busy on the weekends and holidays.

Keywords: Agriculture; Black enterprise--Philadelphia; Chitterlings; Factories; Factory work; Farming; Motivations to move North; South Carolina; Work; World War I

Subjects: African Americans--Employment.; Migration, Internal.; World War, 1914-1918

GPS: 17th and Lombard Street
Map Coordinates: 39.945275, -75.170110
00:14:30 - On his 60-year membership in Mother Bethel Church

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Uh, coming to [Mother] Bethel Church, I, uh, have been a member of Bethel Church, now, pretty near sixty years.

Segment Synopsis: Wilson speaks fondly of Mother Bethel Church, where he has been a member for almost sixty years. He speaks of his time as a tour guide at Mother Bethel and his respect for the founder, Bishop Richard Allen. He tells a story of one of his "blackouts" at the church and how another member helped him to the hospital.

Keywords: Bishop Richard Allen; Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church; Religious community

Subjects: African American churches; African American clergy.; African Americans--Health and hygiene.; African Americans--Religion.

GPS: Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church
Map Coordinates: 39.943514, -75.151884
00:18:39 - "Blackouts"

Play segment

Partial Transcript: And the thirteenth of January, 1977, is on a Thursday, and this is on the thirteenth of the month, thirteenth day of the month.

Segment Synopsis: Wilson describes a medical condition that started four years earlier when he was hit by a car. He refers to them as "blackouts," and talks about the doctors who have helped him.

Keywords: Christian Street (Philadelphia, Pa.)

Subjects: African Americans--Health and hygiene.

00:21:31 - Working in Philadelphia at Newton's Coal Yard

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Can I ask you some more questions about Philadelphia when you came?

Segment Synopsis: Hardy again asks Wilson about some of his first jobs in Philadelphia. Wilson discusses briefly working at Newton Coal Company, including his responsibilities and hours.

Keywords: Newton's Coal Yard

Subjects: African Americans--Employment.

GPS: 27th & South St. Philadelphia, PA
Map Coordinates: 39.945960, -75.184250
00:22:55 - On living in South and West Philadelphia

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Where did you live when you, um--

Segment Synopsis: Wilson briefly talks about living in both South and West Philadelphia. He specifically recalls his place on 720 North 44th Street in West Philadelphia, where almost the entire block was white.

Keywords: 44th Street (Philadelphia, Pa.); South Philadelphia; West Philadelphia

Subjects: African Americans--Housing.; African Americans--Social conditions.; Integration; Neighborhoods.; Philadelphia (Pa.)--Social conditions.

00:23:48 - Wife and family

Play segment

Partial Transcript: And, uh, I got married there, uh, while I was living there. Me and my wife got married fifty-eight years, the thirtieth day of last month, we got married--thirtieth day of September, 1923.

Segment Synopsis: Wilson fondly speaks of his wife, Emma, and his marriage to her. He proudly tells Hardy that they have just celebrated their 58th anniversary and hopes to celebrate their 60th. He also speaks highly of his church and family.

Keywords: Emma Wilson; Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church

Subjects: African American churches; African American families; African Americans--Marriage.

00:25:04 - First impressions of Philadelphia

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Can you tell me your first impressions of the city?

Segment Synopsis: Wilson briefly questions men's fashion in Philadelphia upon his arrival. He says coming from Jacksonville, Florida (which was called Second New York), the city felt extremely different and that Philadelphians learned how to dress once people from the South came.

Keywords: Jacksonville, Florida; Philadelphia fashion

Subjects: African Americans--Conduct of life.; African Americans--Social conditions.; Clothing and dress.; Philadelphia (Pa.)--Social life and customs.

00:26:49 - On his mistake moving North

Play segment

Partial Transcript: But, before that, uh--you see, in the South, a black man has a greater opportunity down there, or did, back in those years.

Segment Synopsis: Wilson describes his early years in Philadelphia, which he says held less opportunities for African Americans than the South did. He indicates that whites in the southern states would not work manual labor jobs they did in the North, which made it more difficult for Blacks to find the same jobs in Philadelphia they had worked in the South. He laments his move North and says he thinks if he stayed in the South, he would've been better off.

Keywords: Philadelphia industry; Southern industry

Subjects: African Americans--Employment.; African Americans--Social conditions.; Discrimination in employment.; Philadelphia (Pa.)--Social conditions.

00:30:19 - Work in the grocery business

Play segment

Partial Transcript: What did you do when you came--how did you get the job as foreman in Baltimore?

Segment Synopsis: Wilson describes a job he had as a wholesale grocery salesman under Samuel R. Sharp, a Philadelphia Quaker, in 1929. He says that he worked all parts of Philadelphia, wherever his boss put him for the day, and he would only sell to Blacks because whites would not buy from a "colored businessman." He speaks briefly about losing money in Brown and Stevens Bank.

Keywords: African American businesses--Philadelphia, Pa.; Brown and Stevens Bank (-1925); Grocery business; North Philadelphia; North Philadelphia, Pa.; Quakers (Society of Friends); Samuel R. Sharp; South Philadelphia, Pa.; West Philadelphia, Pa.

Subjects: African Americans--Economic conditions.; African Americans--Employment.; Race discrimination.

00:33:57 - Other jobs in Philadelphia during the 1920s

Play segment

Partial Transcript: During--before, um--what did you work as in the 1920s in Philadelphia?

Segment Synopsis: When asked about other jobs he held in Philadelphia, Wilson laughs and says he had too many to count. He briefly remembers it being difficult for African American men to get decent jobs, and that his job as a wholesale grocer was the best job he had.

Keywords: Baltimore, Maryland; Employment discrimination; Factory work; Grocers; West Philadelphia

Subjects: African Americans--Employment.; Discrimination in employment.

00:37:13 - Final thoughts on Philadelphia and housing

Play segment

Partial Transcript: --in the world, look at it now, you got--you can't even teach anybody. Twenty years ago, you wouldn't think this was the same neighborhood after they started putting apartment houses in here, that wreck everything.

Segment Synopsis: Wilson speaks about Philadelphia. He complains about apartments specifically, because he dislikes the close proximity of buildings.

Keywords: "Chicken life"; Apartments; Nostalgia; Philadelphia housing; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Subjects: African Americans--Housing.; Neighborhoods.; Philadelphia (Pa.)--Social conditions.