CHARLES HARDY: This thing is all set. So, um, can you tell me a little bit
about your parents, you know, their background?
KITTY WOODARD: Well, I was born in, uh, Fort Valley, Georgia--a small town,
about twenty-six miles south of Macon, Georgia. But it was a college town. We
had, what we called a Fort Valley High and Industrial School, which later turned
out to be a state college. About, I guess, when I was five years old, my father
came home one night and told my mother he was in a hurry. Uh, he couldn't tell
her now, but he would call her soon to let her know. And she said, "What's
wrong?" And he told her that he had to get Uncle Leon out quickly, because it
was a mob gonna try to lynch him. And Mother said to him, "Well, what about me
and the children? Suppose you get caught?" He said, "They won't bother me,
00:01:00because I drive a taxi, and they're used to me being out in the street all times
of night." And he put Uncle Leon--he said, "I've got to go, because I have him
in the car." He was on the floor of the car, with a rug over him. My father
drove him to Macon, Georgia. And then he went north. My aunt didn't see my
uncle for about a month. He went to Baltimore. And my father was very
disgusted after that. And he said to Mother, "I'm not gonna raise my children
up like this." He said, "Because the only thing is this white woman's word that
he was bothering her." He said, uh, "Maddie," he called my mother. He said,
"She has been asking him for a long time, because she is a waitress up to
Minny's place." My Aunt Minny had a restaurant at the station. So that was an
incident, so I think about--I was about seven--and my father decided to contact
00:02:00my aunt, but she was in Philadelphia. And he told her, he thought she was, uh,
he'd come up there. And he came to Philadelphia. We came in 1921, and, uh,
we've been up here ever since. But my father went home after my mother died.
She died in 1941.
WOODARD: And he went back to Georgia. He never bought property in
Philadelphia. When he first came here, he went to work at Campbell Soup
factory. And he didn't like working from nine to five, because down in Georgia,
he had his own little business. My mother had a little grocery store, my father
had the taxi, and my aunt had the restaurant. So, anyway, when he went back
home, he, uh, went to the college to work. He married my stepmother, and she
was a dietician there.
HARDY: Huh, so, then the--your uncle--what had happened to your Uncle Leon--
WOODARD: --he's, he, uh--
HARDY: --that he would--
WOODARD: --uh, he, he never went back home to stay--
HARDY: --but how--
WOODARD: --I came here.
HARDY: --how'd he gotten in trouble in the first place?
WOODARD: He didn't--
HARDY: --because your father had to drive him--
WOODARD: --he wasn't in any trouble because, uh, uh, the waitress had told a
couple of white fellas that my uncle was trying to, um, bother her--rape her, I
guess she would say, because she wanted to go out with him, and he wouldn't go.
WOODARD: But his father was a, uh, uh, uh Presiding Elder, a big minister in Georgia.
HARDY: Hmm. So even, whether, whether his father --
HARDY: --was a Presiding Elder, he didn't have a chance.
HARDY: It was--
WOODARD: --mm-mm, it wouldn't have made any difference whatsoever with the
group of hoodlums. Now, I mean, we never got in trouble with the other white
people and whatnot, because the family was, hmm, my father's grandparents were
born around there, and they were well-known. And, and they all worked and went
to school there. And, uh, a couple of my aunts were teachers. So, uh--
HARDY: --so your family was pretty well-to-do for the--
WOODARD: --uh, um, well, they were comfortable--
HARDY: --comfortable, OK--
WOODARD: --no money was passed down--
WOODARD: --But those days, you know--
WOODARD: --I mean, you lived comfortably.
WOODARD: But, uh, uh, I mean, as far as money was concerned, I mean, it was
hard to get.
HARDY: I mean, compared to the sharecroppers--
HARDY: --or that sort of thing--
WOODARD: --oh, we were never like that, no.
HARDY: All right.
WOODARD: Because my mother's father was a horse breeder, and he was a
carpenter, too. And my mother's mother was a midwife, and when we were born, we
were born in our own house that my grandfather built, you know.
WOODARD: I mean, it, it was, I, I, I'd say, what we would consider middle class
living here, but it, it, I mean, middle class then was poor--[laughs]--
WOODARD: I guess, to me, it would seem.
WOODARD: But I, I've never been hungry.
WOODARD: And I always had clothes to wear, and a house of our own, you know.
HARDY: Did you--when your--before you came up to Philadelphia, you were a
child, I guess--
HARDY: --eight, nine, ten, or ten, or eleven when you were coming up--
WOODARD: --no, I was, uh, 1911, and we came here 1919. I was eight years.
HARDY: You came here in 1919. OK.
HARDY: Had you heard anything about Philadelphia before you came up?
WOODARD: No, not to be interested in.
HARDY: How did y'all get up here?
WOODARD: On the train.
HARDY: Can you describe the trip for me? What you remember of it?
WOODARD: Uh, well, the only thing I remember, is the, the, you know, the black
people was in one coach, and the white was in the other. But I was with my
mother, and father, and a relative of ours, and, uh, I mean, I, I wasn't even
interested in, in, uh, being with white people. Um, when I went home, when my
00:06:00father died in '65, I think, and this white school was about a third black
children in it, I was amazed--[Hardy laughs]--and everybody seemed to be getting
HARDY: What did you all do when you arrived in the city?
WOODARD: Oh, my father's sister was here, and Walthum [?], the, the wife of the
uncle that came up here. And she lived at 1621 Federal Street. And he had died
since, and she had married another man, and he--excuse me--he had a pool room
there, at Sixteenth and Federal. And she had rented a house for my father, and,
and we moved in. It was down, like Thirteenth and Ellsworth.
HARDY: Did he, uh, have a job lined up before he arrived in the city?
WOODARD: Um, my father went to work for Campbell's Soup. I don't know how he
started to work for Campbell Soup. I mean, who got him the job. But he only
00:07:00worked there about a year, and he had some Italian friends that he had met. And
my father's name was Lorenzo Fambro, and they thought he was Italian. My father
was kind of light skinned. And they liked him, and they taught him the trade of
lathing--that's the wood, strips of wood that you put on before you put
plastering on. And that's what my father did for a long time.
HARDY: Ha. And I guess --being mistaken--
WOODARD: --well, we always lived in an Italian neighborhood, like, you know.
And almost all of the houses up at North Broad Street, up not--nearby there and
whatnot, that's where they had plenty of work. They were putting up new houses there.
HARDY: Did he ever talk about his work as a, as a lathe-er?
WOODARD: I think he got cancer from it, because he put all the nails in his
mouth. And I used to watch him, and he'd, he'd do it so fast, that my father
00:08:00was good at it.
WOODARD: Afterwards, they had the metal lathes, too.
WOODARD: He'd let me go watch him, 'cause I liked to see him do it.
HARDY: Hmm. Yeah, it's a real skilled trade, I guess.
HARDY: It's interesting. So, you think he probably was able to get the job and
do the work because he could pass as Italian, and --
WOODARD: --yeah--[laughs]--well, I mean, he had Italian friends that had
worked, and they'd say, "Come on," uh, uh, I forget now, "Loo-renzo" they'd call
him then, instead of "Lorenzo."
HARDY: Huh. How did--what did your mother and father think about the city when
WOODARD: Well, my mother has never liked it. She, she didn't like it because
she used to tell my father, "A rolling stone gathers no moss."--[laughs]--I
don't know what she meant by it, but I know she'd say it, often, you know, she,
she just liked the people, and she was satisfied down south, you know. But, uh,
uh, my father felt, and he told her one time, that he wanted his children to be
00:09:00able to be a good bum, if they wanted to be a bum, but if they wanted to be
somebody else, then they had the opportunity to do it. And it--he felt that,
uh, the north would give you better educational advantages. You wouldn't have
to stay--he said a black school would be nice, but they wouldn't have the money
to buy the lab and the chemistry, uh, facilities and whatnot that you could get
from going to northern, uh, white colleges. In other words, if we wanted to go
to University of Penn or Temple, we should be able to.
HARDY: So you think part of his motivation in coming up north was--
WOODARD: --was his children--
HARDY: --and, and the better education--
HARDY: --that they could get up here.
HARDY: That seems to be something that, that is a common theme amongst the
people who came up, that--
WOODARD: --yeah, I think they feel that here, you have a better opportunity to
do what you want to do. Down there, you're--if you're not a schoolteacher, uh,
uh, you got to be, you know.
HARDY: Hmm. So did your parents place a great deal of emph--of emphasis on
education for the children?
WOODARD: Too much, because I wanted to be a dietician, a home ec teacher. And
my mother said, she'd never send me to school to learn how to cook, because
that's all we had in our family, was cooks. But if I wanted to be a teacher or
something else, and I would--I didn't want to. So I only finished high school
and never regretted it, because I wasn't gonna be a teacher. And it turned out,
that one of my daughters wanted to be a dietician, too, and she told me, she
wouldn't go to college if I didn't let her be, and I thought about myself, so
she--[Hardy laughs]--she's a dietician now, and she has her masters, and she's
not even working--[laughs]--
HARDY: Hmm. So looks like cooking is in the--
HARDY: --family blood, I guess --
WOODARD: --definitely, yeah, mm-hm.
HARDY: Hmm. So what--oh, OK, so your mother never really liked it up here. Do
WOODARD: --no, not at all--
HARDY: --do you remember the, some of the reasons she gave? What were her
reasons for disliking it?
WOODARD: I think she didn't like living on a rowhouse, and not knowing her
neighbor so much. But, uh, my mother was, kind of, a good public relation
person. And, uh, I, I mean, people liked her and respect her. But, uh, I think
she liked the wide open space, and having her own little garden, and that sort
HARDY: Hmm. How did your father feel about the city? During the early years
when you were--
WOODARD: --well, he, he, he, he said, "Don't fence me in." In other words, he
felt he had his freedom. Wouldn't anybody be meddling him or telling him what
to do. I think my father was a man that wanted to do as he pleased.
HARDY: And make all the--
WOODARD: --and they said that he, he could do it.
HARDY: Hmm. Did, um, now when you all arrived, you said you came up 1919.
HARDY: There were blacks pouring into the city by the, by the hundreds and
00:12:00thousands from the south at that time.
WOODARD: But I didn't notice that. I mean, it was black. I, I remember my
father coming here, after he had gone south, after my mother died--I'd say the
early fifties--and we took him the Fourth of July, and rode him through
Fairmount Park, and so many black people were having picnics out there and
whatnot. And I remember my father saying, "Darn, it's more black people in
Philadelphia than it is a whole state of Georgia." I think the impact was the
first time that it, it had been on him like that, because, as I told you, we
were down at Thirteenth and Ellsworth, and Twenty-first and Wharton when we
moved up there. The black people were on one side of Point Breeze, and the
other side was mostly white people, and we hadn't lived around, what you call,
real, like, north Philadelphia blacks.
HARDY: Right. Hmm. So, I guess the Ellsworth Street home you lived in was, basically--
HARDY: --Italian neighborhood--
WOODARD: --and, and the Irish were up, like, uh, 2234 Reed, where we'd lived.
It--we were just, like, two black families in that block on Wharton Street. It
was, like, two black families. I mean, I, I wasn't with predominantly black streets--
WOODARD: --I'll say.
HARDY: Did your parents choose to live in, in a white neighborhood on purpose--
WOODARD: --I, I don't think--
HARDY: --do you know?--
WOODARD: --it was just meant like that--
HARDY: --it just happened--
WOODARD: --because I don't think my, I mean, my mother could get along with
everybody, but I don't think my father had too much love for--in other words, he
felt that a white man was a way for him getting, uh, economic success. And,
but, as far as liking them, I don't think he ever did.
HARDY: Right. How did the neighbors adapt to you--
WOODARD: --we had no problem--
WOODARD: --no problem whatsoever.
HARDY: Hmm. I guess it's being Italians and not Irish, right? --[laughs]--
WOODARD: Yeah. Not that we, on Reed Street, like Grays Ferry or whatnot, my
father could go up there. And, and, I think it was because of the trade that he
had, you know, and working with them. If people know you, and you conduct
yourself, you don't have much trouble. I mean, we never had trouble with them.
HARDY: Hmm. Um, how many children were in the family?
WOODARD: My brother and I.
HARDY: So just--
HARDY: --two kids--
HARDY: When you, when you arrived in the city, you arrived--I guess, when you
were growing up, you, you'd been brought up in the south, at least for your
first eight years of your life or so.
HARDY: And then, you're thrown into a new environment. Did you have any--
WOODARD: --I didn't have any trouble--
WOODARD: --whatsoever. Unh-uh.
HARDY: What, what, what did you like or dislike most about urban living?
WOODARD: I, I guess I adjusted to it because, I mean, uh, you've g--you know
00:15:00you were disciplined, when-- my time, when we were coming up, you, you went to
school, you did what you was told to do, you came home, you had your little
chores, and we scrubbed those old white steps--[laughs]--
WOODARD: -- and, uh, uh, you were busy. And, and I had no problem. I could go
out and play only in my block, you know. You didn't go around the street and
stay in, whatnot, and your parents didn't know where you were.
HARDY: The neighbors keep an eye on you--
HARDY: --that sort of thing?
WOODARD: You better. I remember, uh, we used to play in Titan Street, um, when
I lived on Wharton Street, because they were like, distant cousins of mine. But
at four or five o'clock, Mrs., uh, Wiggins would say, "You kids go home, now."
We--don't care if whether we were in the middle of a ball game, whatnot, we went
home. "Yes, Mrs. Wiggins," and we went home.
HARDY: Hmm. Where'd you go to school?
WOODARD: I went to school at, uh, Jackson School, at Twelfth and Federal. My
daughter teaches, and she went down to a meeting. She said, they haven't
painted it since you went to school--[both laugh]-- Then I went to the Wilson
School there, and, and when we moved at 2120 Wharton Street, I went to the Logan
School, which was an all-black school. My father didn't want me to go to an
all-black school. But I knew some of the girls that was going. So he, he
wouldn't let my brother go there. My brother went to the Landreth School, which
was mixed. But the, uh, uh, Logan School was all black. But I only went there
one term before I went to, to, uh, hmm, William Penn High.
HARDY: So, you went to the Logan School for one year in junior high school--
HARDY: --before--that's right, because I guess the high schools were all integrated--
WOODARD: --yeah, um-hm--
HARDY: --and it was just the grade schools that--
HARDY: --that were black. The first school you went to was Ellwo--Ellsworth,
WOODARD: Yeah, uh, uh, Twelfth and Federal.
HARDY: Twelfth and Federal.
WOODARD: Jackson School.
HARDY: Jackson School.
HARDY: What was--was that a mixed school?
HARDY: Black and white children?
WOODARD: Um-hm, because there was a lot of Italians living around there.
HARDY: How did the teachers treat the, the children in, especially--
WOODARD: --they, um, we never had any problems. And, and that's what I mean.
Back in those days, I mean, you, you went to the Italians' house and you ate,
and they came in your house and you ate. I mean, I, I, I mean, you didn't have
the prejudice that you have now.
WOODARD: You really didn't.
HARDY: You really think it's, it's intensified--
WOODARD: --definitely, since the civil rights movement. And I was in it.
HARDY: Hmm, that--
WOODARD: --that, that is a fact. That is not something people think about.
It's the truth.
HARDY: I guess, economically, things have improved, then. Or does the civil
rights movement help the economics, but--
WOODARD: --but, but, uh, uh, uh, it was exposed so much, both groups, until
00:18:00people, I think, resent it, and, and, uh, it's worse than it was when I was a
HARDY: Hmm. Now, when you were a girl, going to the mixed schools, you knew
about the all-black schools in, in the city, and--
HARDY: --I suppose, in the surrounding areas--
HARDY: How did you look upon them? Did you feel that, that, that they probably were--
WOODARD: --that they were inferior and whatnot--
HARDY: --yeah, was inferior, or superior, or the same, or--
WOODARD: --no, because the teachers that we had at, at the Logan School, um,
Mr. Jones and Miss, Miss Owens and whatnot, they made you study. You dare
not--and I think what happened at that particular time, if the teacher called
your mother at home, you had cooperation. Here, the parents aren't that
interested, and the teacher has nobody to call.
WOODARD: I, I, I really think that the moral fiber of the parents has more to
00:19:00do with the children, uh, being like they are than anything else.
HARDY: I'm-- I wonder whether the, whether the people coming up from the south
were, had more, you know, different character, or a different set of values than--
WOODARD: Well, I think they did, because the people from the south, they were
family--the mother went to the fields, where she took her children with her. If
she went to church, she took her kids with her. But here, yo McGranery u got
babysitters, uh, some teenager keeping them, the parents go one way, the mother
goes one way and the father goes. And I think that's it.
HARDY: Hmm. Were your parents p--what--were your parents politically active?
WOODARD: Um, my mother and father, both were, uh, committeemen, um, you know,
00:20:00we--one woman, one man, but we say committeeman.
WOODARD: But, uh, my mother in, I think when Roosevelt was coming in, in '32,
um, James McGranery was the ward leader, and he was also a Congressman. But he
was in Washington a lot, and my mother told Mr. [William A.] Barrett, "Mr.
McGranery is in Washington, and we can't get to see him if we need him. And I
think you should be the ward leader." And Mr. Barrett said to my mother, she,
he said, "Mrs. Fambro…" He said, "I can't do that. Bill is my friend." She
said, "If I asked him, would you do it?" He looked at my mother, you know, in
amazement. And he said yes. So my mother put her coat and hat on, and went
around to Mr. McGranery, and told him that he was in Washington, and things were
00:21:00bad in '32, and a lot of the people needed some attention and needed some help,
and we don't know how to get in touch with you. She said, "Now I have asked Mr.
Barrett if he would be our ward leader. And you--and he said he would if you
asked him." She said, "Now, I am asking you, because if you're not, we're gonna
put Mr. Johnson up." And--Mr. Johnson was black--he had a barber shop, and he
was kind of, uh, financially independent.
WOODARD: And she said, uh, "I, I, I'm sincere about it, Mr. McGranery." And he
looked at my mother, to think that she would have nerve enough to come around to
his office to tell him to not be ward leader, and, uh, he said OK. He said,
"I'll ask Bill." And he asked Mr. Barrett, and told him why, and Mr. Barrett
came around to our house. And he said to Mother--he said, "I've seen many a
person," he said, "but, uh, I, I, I'll run." See, the committeemen, uh, voted
00:22:00for the ward leader to be in.
WOODARD: And my mother was a committeewoman. And she had control of the, of
the committeewomen, because they respected her. So, anyway, that's how Mr.
Barrett got into politics. And after Jim got down in Washington, he finally
became Attorney General of the United States. So Mr. Barrett ran for
Congressman, and he won.
HARDY: Now, your, your parents, they were Republicans? Barrett--
WOODARD: --no, Democrat--
HARDY: --Barrett was a Democrat.
WOODARD: --uh-huh, uh-huh. That was in the same, uh, ward. We were in the
36th Ward, and it was the same--
WOODARD: --ward as Vare, but we finally got more, um, Democrats registered and
got Vare to resign. It got to be a Democratic ward after Mr. Barrett came in--
WOODARD: --with Mr. Barrett, and Mother, and some of the rest of them working.
HARDY: Were your parents always Democrats?
WOODARD: I'm sure.
HARDY: You think they were?
WOODARD: Um-hm, I'm sure, yeah.
HARDY: It could've been--
WOODARD: --my ha--
HARDY: --pretty unpopular during the twenties, when y'all were first in the city.
WOODARD: --[laughs]-- My husband was Republican, and I was Democrat. But the
strange thing about it--the first time I've ever voted Republican was for Reagan.
HARDY: Really? --[laughs]--
WOODARD: Oh, I get r--r--, uh, ribbed about it often now.
HARDY: Are you happy about that vote still--[laughs]--?
WOODARD: No, unh-uh, no, very unhappy. But I felt that, uh, he was older, and
he, and he would be interested in senior citizens, and I'm a senior citizen and
whatnot. I didn't realize that he was an old rebel--[laughs]--
HARDY: Hmm. Were your parents active in politics--
HARDY: --in the south, before they came to Philadelphia?
WOODARD: No, unh-uh, unh-uh.
HARDY: So it was only once they came here.
HARDY: Can, can you tell me at all about how they made the decision to become
involved in politics in Philadelphia?
WOODARD: Well, my mother was more like a, uh, person who's concerned about
00:24:00people that need help. I, I will always remember, I've seen my father really
angry with my mother, is that we had it pretty rough. And he went to this coal
man --we had, uh, coal furnace-- and asked him, would he let him have a half a
ton of coal until he got paid? The man sent the half of ton of coal there. My
mother said--had the man to take it around to the neighbor's house, because this
neighbor's child had pneumonia, and the lady didn't have any coal. And when my
father came home, he asked my mother if the man had sent the coal. And she told
him, yeah, but she sent it to Miss Bluellen. And the veins and everything--he
walked out of the house. I think he had tears in his eyes. He said, "My
children are here, and I'm getting on my knees to somebody, to get some coal to
00:25:00keep them warm, and you send it to somebody." She said, "But they are well, and
they are not sick." And she said, "We have blankets and things and, uh," she
said, "we'll get some more."
WOODARD: But that's why I think the neighbors and the people in the
neighborhood and all, just liked her that much.
HARDY: Did they--either of them ever speak about the, the difficulties they ran into?
HARDY: When they were committeepersons? Or--
WOODARD: I don't think that my mother and father ran into any difficulties.
HARDY: They had to, particularly in the early days, coming up against the--the
WOODARD: Unh-uh, unh-uh.
WOODARD: Unh-uh. In our--
HARDY: --why not?
WOODARD: --in our ward, whatever my mother and father asked for, they got,
because, I think, of Mr. Barrett, you see.
HARDY: OK, well, so, when, when did he--
WOODARD: --and, Mr. Barrett was, uh, uh, he got most anything he wanted from
Washington, because he had contacts with McGranery down there, who had laid the
00:26:00foundation for him.
HARDY: When did, when did, uh, Barrett get in?
WOODARD: I think it was '30--when Roosevelt went in.
HARDY: First time? '32?
WOODARD: Second time.
WOODARD: Um-hm, '36, because McGranery was in it in '32.
HARDY: OK, yeah, well, by '36, Vare is dead--
HARDY: --and, and the Democrat--I guess--
WOODARD: --um-hm, yeah--
HARDY: --the presidential election of '36--
HARDY: --um, Philadelphia goes Democratic--
HARDY: --for the first time then.
HARDY: I'm, I'm, yeah, I'm wondering about--they were active before that,
right? So I'm wondering, um, during the early thirties, for instance, when
there still would've have been a strong Republican organization in the ward--
WOODARD: --but this is it. We gave Vare so much trouble, until he had to
concede some things to us. My father went to Vare and got a couple of jobs for
people down at the Atlantic Refining. And he knew he was Democrat, but he would
do things for my father, because he, he felt like my father was a threat to him.
HARDY: Aha! Yeah cause Vare was not known for the patronage--
HARDY: --he gave to blacks in the city.
WOODARD: Hmm, uhn-uh, no.
HARDY: So your father was able to extract certain--
WOODARD: --yeah, well, you see, the neighbors wasn't in the same division, and
Bayer wouldn't carry his division, if my father, uh, worked against him. And
Bayer didn't want to lose his own division.
HARDY: It's a matter of--
WOODARD: --we lived 2200 Reed, and he lived 2200 Garrett. Uh, in fact, that
was his official address, you know, voting address.
HARDY: Philly down at Atlantic City--
WOODARD: --um-hm, yeah--
HARDY: --[unintelligible] thats right--
WOODARD: --um-hm, but, I mean, that's why I said we, we really didn't have any
trouble then with politics.
HARDY: Did you know Bill Vare, then?
WOODARD: Uh, yeah, I knew him, too, but, I mean, my father, uh--
WOODARD: --knew him better.
HARDY: What can you tell me about him, from your personal recollections?
WOODARD: Well, I, I, I mean, to me, he wasn't the worst guy in the world. He
just wanted to win. And, uh, he used the Atlantic Refining, and I don't what
00:28:00connection, but any time he sent anybody down there, they got a job.
HARDY: What was your--do you remember what your father's, uh, thoughts about
Bill Bayer were?
WOODARD: Oh, my father didn't pay anybody any attention. I mean, my father was
Mr. Fambro. I mean, after all, he delivered and he expected, uh, favors in
return. You see, that kind of politics down there, if you delivered, you had no
problem, in the early politics. If you didn't, uh, I mean, you was out in the
cold, more or less.
WOODARD: I remember Johnny Sills was a Republican all the time, and Mr. Barrett
could never, um, win Johnny's division. So Mr. Barrett made a deal with Johnny,
it--to, to turn Democrat, and he'd give them a job. And he did.
HARDY: Who was Johnny Sills?
WOODARD: Uh, he was Commissioner of Records, uh, in Philadelphia, for quite a while.
WOODARD: But he was an old Republican, you know, before he went Democrat.
HARDY: Right. Do you remember Ed Henry back then?
WOODARD: Yes, Ed Henry and my, uh, husband were very good friends. In fact,
that's how we started The Philadelphia Independent, because Ed Henry was a
Democrat, and The Tribune wouldn't, uh, endorse him, because The Tribune at that
time, Gene Rose], was Republican. So my husband said that he'd start a
newspaper, to give Ed Henry some exposure. And that's how The Independent was born.
HARDY: Hmm. What can you tell me about Henry?
WOODARD: Well, I don't know him that well. I mean, I didn't know him that well.
WOODARD: I knew he was a good friend of my husband's, because that was a little
before my time for politics and whatnot. But, uh, Ed Henry was supposed to be a
00:30:00very fair-minded person and very interested in people. And, uh, Forrest was,
was Republican, and he was supporting Ed Henry, and Ed Henry was Democrat.
HARDY: Well, I guess, Henry jumped back and forth--
HARDY: --a couple of times--
WOODARD: --yeah, he did--
HARDY: --from party to party, so--
HARDY: Hmm. Let's, um, let me check, make sure, now you married Forrest White Woodard--
HARDY: --who was a, I guess, a very colorful and important figure in the
history in the city. Uh, what can you tell me about his background? I really
know very little about--
WOODARD: --uh, Forrest, as far as I know, was born in 1886 in Norfolk,
Virginia. And evidently, he stayed in Norfolk until he was about twenty-five,
and he came to Philadelphia. Now I don't know--I think the first place he lived
was 1633 Naudain Street. And, uh, he, he married a, I don't know Lillian's
00:31:00maiden name, but she's Lillian Woodard. And they fin--he opened a night club,
but I don't know exactly what year it was, at Eighteenth and Federal, called
White's Wander Inn. It was one of the nicest night spots that they had, uh, at
that particular time. I think it was in the early thirties, like '28, '29, '30,
'35 something like that, you know, going up to that time.
HARDY: So some time, about the same--somewhere in the same period--
HARDY: --he opened--he started The Independent.
WOODARD: No, he had the night club before The Independent.
HARDY: Ok, night club was before.
WOODARD: Um-hm. I think the night club was, like, even ten, uh, well, I'll say
'28, '29. And The Independent started in '31. Maybe the night club was '25.
He, he had it at least five or six years before The Independent.
WOODARD: I'll put it like that. And, um, he had entertainment upstairs, and a
bar downstairs. But I think he had, uh, entertainment every night. But he had
kind of a family sort of thing, because it was a couple of men that would come
in there, and they'd get paid. And they had to let him have their money and
take $20, uh, $10, out. And he'd give it to them when they get ready to go
home. He said, you'll never spend all your money here in my place. He was that
sort of person.
WOODARD: And they'd give it to him, like that. But, uh, if he knew they drank
a lot, he, he, he wouldn't let them take all their pay.
HARDY: So he had this bar running during Prohibition.
WOODARD: Uh, huh?
HARDY: This was all during Prohibition?
WOODARD: I don't think so.
HARDY: Yeah, twenties, think twenties.
WOODARD: Well, he had the night club before he had the newspaper!
HARDY: Yes, yes, well, not uncommon. I mean, running a speakeasy. Maybe
that--when that speakeasy --
WOODARD: --it wasn't exactly a, a speakeasy, I'm, I'm sure.
HARDY: A club, yeah.
WOODARD: Um-hm. It was legit.
HARDY: Yeah, in Philadelphia, so--[laughs]--
WOODARD: Yeah. Well, he had a lot of political connections, so I don't know.
WOODARD: But I know it was before that, uh, he had, well, you probably can look
it up. In fact, I know a couple of people, one fella in particular, that played
in the night club. He played with the Raff, Robin's Trio.
HARDY: Oh yeah?
HARDY: During those periods?
WOODARD: I was talking to him today. But the act of, and, in fact, he owned
The Independent and the bar, uh, bar at the same time. I know that.
HARDY: Did you ever go there as a, as a young woman?
WOODARD: Oh, my father wouldn't let me--[Hardy laughs]--no, mm--mm, you
couldn't do that--[laughs]--unh-uh.
HARDY: So he kept you--he kept the kids--pretty strict?
WOODARD: Well, he wasn't strict, but, uh, there's certain things you didn't do.
That's all. I mean, you didn't even attempt to do them, because you knew you
couldn't. I, I mean, my parents--my mother was the kind you could sit in her
lap at, at--when you were twelve years old, and tell her your problems. But if
she said don't do anything--my mother always called me Honey Darling Sugar, but
when she'd say Kathryn, I knew she meant business. And I didn't question her.
WOODARD: I, I mean, that was the rod that she used. When she said Kathryn, I
knew not to do it. But otherwise, I was Honey Baby whatnot. I knew who she was
WOODARD: But, but that's, that's the kind of, of life that we, we lived.
WOODARD: I mean, no bickering and fussing mother and pop and all that kind of
stuff. I, I, I never lived around it.
HARDY: Well, that's nice, yeah. Um, so then, he had, he had live entertainment
in the club there.
HARDY: Do you know when, when he sold it, or when it closed? Any idea?
WOODARD: Well, he and his wife divorced, and he had it in his wife's name, and
I think she had it. Now, I, I think she rented it out for a while, and then she
HARDY: When did their divorce come? Any idea?
WOODARD: No, we married in '45, but I think he was divorced long before that.
Maybe it was in the forties? Uh, you know, around '40.
HARDY: So the club was going all through--
HARDY: --all along--
HARDY: --all during this time, then?
HARDY: Hmm. Um, now when you met him, I guess, uh, you're all married, and
he's still on The Independent. He was still--
HARDY: --running as publisher?
HARDY: Can you tell me about The Independent during that period? What, what
00:36:00the paper was like, its circulation, you know?
HARDY: --what were--
HARDY: --the position it had in the community?
WOODARD: Oh, uh, The Independent was, uh, uh, a very strong community paper. I
mean, instead of all the crime and whatnot, it, it, it kinda told you what
blacks were doing, and what, uh, even blacks from different parts of the country
were doing. I, I would say it was, in fact, Forrest used to say it was, uh,
"the class for the masses and not the classes." That was his phrase.
HARDY: Good phrase.
HARDY: How did, um, how did it contrast to The Tribune?
WOODARD: Well, I think The Tribune was more of a--I don't know exactly--that
00:37:00The Tribune was more of a sensational paper, and The Independent was more of a
WOODARD: If that's an explanation.
HARDY: Yeah, I mean, it, this-- The Tribune was more like a tabloid?
WOODARD: Yeah, uh, uh, yeah.
HARDY: Hmm. Did, um, did you read The Independent, during--before you had met?
WOODARD: Oh yes.
HARDY: Mr. White --
WOODARD: --um-hm, um-hm--
HARDY: --and, uh, during the thirties, I guess?
WOODARD: Well, you see, Ralph Jones was an editor, and Ralph was a very good
editor. By that, I mean he encouraged, uh, write-ups about youth that were
accomplishing things: the college students that were doing something. In other
words, they were changing the image that a, a black person, to get in the paper,
had to steal something, uh, uh, had to kill somebody, or stab somebody. And my
00:38:00husband went, went along with it.
HARDY: How active was he as publisher? Did he leave most of the management and
editorial policy in the hands of his staff?
WOODARD: I think so. I think so. Uh, unless it was something that he thought
he might get sued for. I mean ---
HARDY: Right, right.
WOODARD: I, I won't say that he didn't oversee it, but he didn't dictate, uh,
what should go in the paper. But, uh, before it went to print, he, he saw it.
HARDY: Hmm. Now the paper was a Democratic paper.
HARDY: And he was a Republican.
HARDY: How did that work?
WOODARD: It worked fine--[Hardy laughs]--because he thought this way: that most
black people were Democrats, and the paper was for the people. But he, uh, was
always Republican, and I think he's, his contact was Republican, and he kept it.
I mean, all the judges and whatnot, up there in the courts. He knew them by
00:39:00their first name. And, uh, he was, he wasn't gonna give up his prestige for the
paper for the people.
HARDY: Right. That makes sense. Well, I'm interested in--it's outside of my
period, you know--
HARDY: --the period we're working on the project. But, um, I'm very interested
in what became of The Independent, because, at one point, it was this ci--for
many, many years, it was the city's, um--
WOODARD: --well, when I--
HARDY: --black paper with the widest circulation.
WOODARD: Well, when my husband died, I took over the paper, because, uh, I felt
that some of the things that my husband wanted of the paper wasn't being done.
And when my husband was paralyzed for six years, and he didn't go down to the
paper, and he would sit here sometimes, and be all very disgusted with what was
going on. But he said, "Momma, I don't want you to go down there now, because
some of the things they're doing," he said, "I don't like, and they would use
00:40:00you and say that you were doing it." And he said, "I know better." And he knew
who was doing it. But he thinks that they were doing it, because it was getting
money under the table to write certain things--and, and projects. And, uh--
HARDY: For instance? I, I, I don't understand?
WOODARD: In other words, if you would go with some politician, and, uh, he was
running, say, say [Samuel] Hart is running. And Hart would give so much money
to the paper to give him certain publicity. And, uh, it would be done under the table.
HARDY: OK, so he suspected that--
HARDY: --the writers or the editors were--
HARDY: --getting kickbacks--
WOODARD: --um-hm, um-hm--
HARDY: --from politicians.
WOODARD: And, and he didn't like it, because my husband, one time, uh--Mr.
Barrett told me. He said that my husband was the only person in the world that
he knew, black or white, that turned down a quarter of a million dollars, just
00:41:00to deliver an envelope, with some hush money in it. It was a contractor in
Philadelphia that had, uh, was getting some government money for contracts, and
they asked my husband if he would come down and bring it. And Forrest said,
"You remember the Teapot Dome scandal?" He said, "I have enough to live on the
rest of my life, if I live carefully. And I'm not going to be involved." And
Mr. Barrett said, "I don't know another man, black or white, that would do that."
HARDY: --[laughs]-- Hey, it's a quarter of a million dollars still is a lot of money--
HARDY: --let alone--
WOODARD: But, you see, my husband, that was, like, in the fifties. And he, he
told them no. He wouldn't do it. The money was put in an envelope, and all he
had to do was to bring it from Washington to the contractor.
WOODARD: And he wouldn't do it. It was cash. And--
HARDY: --do, do you remember the, the parties involved in this?
WOODARD: Yeah, but I wouldn't say--[laughs]--
HARDY: -- We'd put a seal on any organization--
HARDY: --for fifty years, no, no,no--[laughs]--
WOODARD: Nope. I know both of them, but, uh, I mean, not--
HARDY: OK, so, so, what, you know, what became of The Independent, then? What--
WOODARD: --and so after--
WOODARD: --my husband died, I took over as the publisher. And, uh, oh, we had,
I guess, about 30 or 50,000 circulation. And, uh, I was kind of militant
because, uh, Cecil Moore, I, I believed in what he was doing at the time. I
later found out that things could've been done differently. But the fact
remains is, that, uh, I, I feel that I'm partly responsible for some of the
things that Cecil accomplished. And it was because I, I saw Commissioner
00:43:00[Howard] Leary one day, and he said to me, he said,"Mrs. Woodard, I didn't see
you out to the post office." They had, uh, picketing at the post office. And I
said, "You wouldn't." He said, "Why? I thought you was with Cecil?" I said,
"I am with Cecil for some things." I said, "But I feel that Congressman [Robert
N. C.] Nix has done a good job, and he is a--he has seniority, and I don't feel
that we should, uh, picket the post office." I said, "I feel like the
government is like your parent. You don't always approve of what your parents
do. But you don't defy them." And I said I would never picket the government.
WOODARD: So he laughed, and he looked at me. He said, "You're a funny one."
WOODARD: But, uh, that's the way I felt. And, you know, I was criticized a lot
00:44:00because I was very fond of Frank Rizzo, and most black people, especially in my
position, they weren't. But I found out that Rizzo was a fair person, and he
had a disposition almost like my husband--[Hardy laughs]-- If my husband gave
you his word and shook hands, you didn't have to have no note or nothing. He
would do it. And when I first came in contact with Rizzo, I was up at Thirtieth
and, uh, Berks to that School, where Cecil was picketing. And the, uh, hmm,
that gang of boys was up there. And Cecil left me with the boys, because, uh,
they were gonna start something. And Commissioner Leary, and, and Rizzo was
there, and he--Rizzo was a highway patrolman, and he was anxious to beat some
heads--[laughs]-- And I asked Commissioner Larry, I said, "Commissioner," I
00:45:00said, "these boys are gonna march." And I said, "Mr. Moore went to court, and
he left them here with me. And I have children of my own, and I don't wanna see
any bloodshed." I said, "Will you do me a favor, please?" And he said, "What
is it, Mrs. Woodard?" I said, "Will you let them march one time around the
school? And I'll march with them. And I promise you, that after one time,
they'll disperse and go home." The boys were in this thing, and Cecil had got
them all riled up, and he had gone and left them.
WOODARD: Rizzo said, "You know they're not gonna be that, uh, orderly!" I
said, "Sir, I said they would." And he looked at me, and Commissioner Leary
said, "All right, Mrs. Woodard." I went back in the house, and I told the boys,
I said, "You're gonna march around that wall, one--not the wall, the, uh,
00:46:00school--one time, and I'm gonna march with you. And you're gonna be orderly,
and you're going home." I said, "Now, if either one of you start anything, I'm
going to court, and I'm gonna be the first one against you." I said, "Now, I
mean it." They looked at me, and they said, "All right, Mrs. Woodard." They
marched one time, orderly. I marched with them. They didn't have any trouble.
And Rizzo came up to me afterwards and shook my hands. He said, "You must be
Virgin Mary." --[both laugh]-- But after that, he respected me, and I respected
him, and we became friends.
HARDY: Hmm. Well--
WOODARD: And I tell them all. I said, I have respect for him. He respected me.
HARDY: What, respect from him as a person. I don't--
WOODARD: Well, I mean, after all, everybody's entitled to make their own mistakes--
WOODARD: --and do what they want to do. I mean, I don't criticize you, because
you like vanilla ice cream and I like chocolate.
WOODARD: We both like ice cream.
HARDY: But if you have policies that affect the city, or affect particular
peoples, or groups in the city, which, um, very harshly, or--
WOODARD: --I, I don't feel that.
WOODARD: I think, I think the media, and, and, and some people have been very
unkind to him.
WOODARD: I think, in his heart, he's not like that.
WOODARD: And I've had closer association with him than some of the other people
that, that criticized him.
HARDY: Right. OK, so what became of The, uh, Independent, then, other than--[laughs]--
WOODARD: --then, uh, later, I, uh, had been there, I think--I'm trying to think
what year. It was '64, I think, when uh, I had a teenage daughter, and she was
kinda doing as she pleased, and I felt that, that, older housekeeper I had
wasn't keeping an eye on her. And I was afraid that something might happen to
00:48:00her. She'd get in trouble. So I decided to come home and take care of my own
children. I had two teenage daughters. Instead of going out at night, and
going to this place, and doing this for other people--and most of them weren't
WOODARD: And I decided, instead of being a working mother, I'd be a mother.
And I sold it to Bobby [Robert L.] Williams, who was later the Common Pleas
Judge. And I think Bobby felt that all you had to do was to run the paper one
day a week. But you have to be out there with the community and those people,
and be part of them, and be seen with them, to run an organization that only
have good will to sell.
WOODARD: So, he had, uh, Gaskin, lawyer Gaskin, to run it. And Gaskin didn't
do that much, so I think it folded.
HARDY: So, it, was it still--when you sold it, was it in good--
HARDY: --financial shape, and --
WOODARD: --um-hm. Well, I don't know about, ub, we still--we owed some bills
WOODARD: --like that, but I mean, it was a, a, a good paper.
HARDY: Hmm. Did your mother work in Philadelphia?
WOODARD: My mother worked sometimes, what they call, days work. About two
days, she had, uh, uh, a couple of schoolteachers, I think, way back there, that
she would, stay at their house maybe one day a week. She, uh, at, it was like
family, 'cause, uh, they would, uh, give my mother--or go to wanna make herself
whatnot, and they would buy things for me, and. and send them home dresses and
things like that.
HARDY: Hmm. How did she feel about doing daywork?
WOODARD: She didn't mind it, because she felt like she was part of the family
when she worked. She only worked about two days a week.
HARDY: How about your father? How did he feel about her doing this?
WOODARD: He didn't like it. But, it, it, it was just as I say, like a
schoolteacher. Mother would leave when I was leaving for school. And she was
back home by four o'clock, you know, and my father didn't get back home 'til
five and six.
HARDY: What were the reasons he didn't like it? Any idea?
WOODARD: He didn't think his wife should work. But, uh, Mother said it take
more, you know, for us to live here.
HARDY: Hmm. That's, you know, that's one of the, the, one of the other--
WOODARD: --I think most of the men don't like their wives to work. They, they
feel that they're not taking care of them, you know.
HARDY: Oh. You think more so in Philadelphia--
WOODARD: --uh, yeah, um-hm--
HARDY: --than northern men?
WOODARD: Yeah, I think southern men don't want their wives to work as much.
WOODARD: Because, uh, most of them don't. Wife's place is in the home, with
WOODARD: But the, the northern people, uh, know that to get the things that
they want--in fact, I think the northern people want more than the southern
HARDY: At least back then.
HARDY: Maybe not so much now--[laughs]--
WOODARD: No, no. Now they all got big cars and whatnot.
HARDY: Yeah, yeah, new south is uh.
WOODARD: Yeah, um-hm.
HARDY: --turnin' around.
WOODARD: Yeah, because when I went home, when my father died, some of the homes
they had down there, and I said, "My goodness! How do you do it?" They say,
well, the wife teaches and the, um, husband teach. And the one salary goes for
the house, and the other salary, uh, you know, maintains them. And they say
they take insurance, like the Jewish people--if one of them die, then the house
is automatically paid for.
WOODARD: At least the children have something, you know, and that seems to be
the general attitude now.
HARDY: Hmm. What provisions did your, did your father want to make for your
children, when you were young? Did he--
WOODARD: I, I, I think that his mind was, that if you got a good education, you
could economically take--support yourself. And he just wanted, uh, uh, he used
to say, "A cat wean a kitten, and a cow wean a calf, and I'll wean you,you know,
eventually." But, uh, I think what he wanted, is you to have a good foundation
to support yourself. I don't think he meant to make life easy for you. But he
wanted you able to stand on your own two feet.
HARDY: Yeah, and he believed that the best way to do that was through--
WOODARD: I remember Mrs. Roosevelt said one time, that black people would gain
more through education, than they would any other way, because an educated
porter might be a porter for a while, but he wouldn't be a porter for life.
WOODARD: And I think that was, kind of, my father's theory.
HARDY: Hmm. Did, um, you said a "Cat wean--
WOODARD: --wean a kitten, and a cow weans a calf" means that after a certain
time, they turn you loose. And he said, that when you finish college and, and
can support yourself, even you--in other words, he wasn't the kind that felt
like, well, you, you know, he'll work himself to death to save a big sum of
money for you to live happily ever afterwards. In other words, he would give
you a foundation to support yourself.
HARDY: Hmm. Now, when you were, um, in grades in high school, I suppose--
HARDY: --and you had other friends who were younger, black girls--
HARDY: --with southern fathers. Do you remember, um, whether their attitudes
were similar to your father's? Or--I'm wondering whether, you know, how, how
common your father's attitude was, amongst the men who came up from the south
00:54:00for their families and their children?
WOODARD: I think just about the same, because the girls that I went around with
then--we grew up with, uh, we, we lived about the same. Uh, and it's a strange
thing, because in, in, in the same community or the same group of friends that
you had, it, it, it was more or less the same, because the girls that were
allowed out late at night didn't achieve--didn't, you didn't bother with them.
WOODARD: I don't know why, but you, you just didn't.
HARDY: Did you think that their, their parents, or fathers, mothers,
whatever--put the same emphasis on education that your parents did?
HARDY: They didn't?
WOODARD: Unh-uh. Unh-uh. In other words, uh, you make it. I, I, I, I'm sure
00:55:00they didn't. But because the girls that I grew up with, and the ones that are
living now that we talk--it, it, it's almost the same thing. Like, my daughter,
one day I said to her, "Oh, don't be so hard on Courtney!" --her daughter. She
looked at me. She said, "You didn't let me do it." I said, "Yeah, but you was
born thirty years too soon."--[laughs]--In other words, I don't feel that she
should be that strict on my granddaughter.
HARDY: That's what grandparents are for, right?--[Woodard laughs]--Grandparents
are supposed to spoil and indulge them--
HARDY: --and then parents are supposed to get angry at them, right, right?
WOODARD: Yeah. But, but it's funny, I mean, you wouldn't have let her do it.
But you think it's all right for your grandchild to.
WOODARD: But I still think that, uh, uh, most of the people that want to do
something, can. They might not do what they'd like to do. But, uh, I, I think
00:56:00you can make it.
HARDY: Would you say that, then, there were more opportunities in the 1930s,
for instance, for blacks in Philadelphia, than in the south?
WOODARD: I positively don't think so. I mean, you might've had more freedom,
and when I say "freedom," I mean, freedom to do as you please. You didn't have
to, uh, go to a black toilet and whatnot--
WOODARD: --that you wouldn't here, but that's about the only thing, I mean,
that, I, I can see, that, uh--I had an open letter to, to Tastykake.
WOODARD: I, I think that's the only difference in, in the thirties, was Negroes
00:57:00had the freedom to eat where they want to, to, uh, travel the way they want to,
and things like that. But I have been in Philadelphia, and went up to Twentieth
and Columbia Avenue, with a girl to a Chinese restaurant, and they say, "Me no
serve a coal."
WOODARD: And I was in high school. I think it was, like, 1927 or 6. And now,
this girl's uncle sent us there to get some, uh, Chinese food to bring home to
him, and the Chinaman, Twentieth and Columbia, Twenty-fourth and Columbia
Avenue, and he said, "Me no serve a coal."
HARDY: Now, Twenty-fourth and Columbia, even in the twenties, would've been
in--what sort of neighborhood would that have been back then? Wasn't that--
WOODARD: --all black--
HARDY: --all black area?
WOODARD: Definitely black.
HARDY: What's he doing with a Chinese restaurant in the middle of a black
neighborhood, not serving black people--[laughs]--?
WOODARD: Well, that's what he said. That's what he said. I'll never forget it.
"Me no serve a coal."
HARDY: Hmm. You had friends in that area of north Philadelphia?
HARDY: What, what was, what was the reputation of that part of town, of north
Philadelphia during the twenties?
WOODARD: --well, around Oxford and, uh--that's where Raymond Pace Alexander
lived, you know, in, in that neighborhood. They had uh, educated and
intelligent black people in, in that neighborhood, because this girl lived 23,
oh, the schoolteacher, um, Mr. Jones, and, uh, Doctor--hmm--one doctor lived in
there--2300 block of Oxford Street. And I went to visit her, and we would go in
at the, uh, Chinese place on Columbia Avenue--[Hardy laughs]-- "Me no serve a coal."
HARDY: Hmm. That was typical of the whole city, then --
WOODARD: --yeah, and you know, I think when my father came, he thought that you
didn't have to confront that, you see. Like I told you, we lived 2120 Wharton
Street, and I could--the boys could walk me to Point Breeze, but they weren't
supposed to cross Point Breeze. In the block where I lived, we just had two
black families there. But the Irish people didn't want them on Grays Ferry, you
see. I think they wrote a book about that, not long ago.
HARDY: Hmm. Yeah, the Irish and the Grays Ferry area--
WOODARD: --yeah, um-hm--
HARDY: --that was where the battles came, I guess.
HARDY: Ralph Jones remembers that.
HARDY: A lot of people, actually.
WOODARD: And, and I--we were on the border of it, you see, because I lived 2234
Reed when I was in high school. I mean, 2120 Wharton.
HARDY: Was there a lot of violence then?
WOODARD: I didn't notice it--
HARDY: --or I guess people knew where not to go--
WOODARD: --but I know, I knew that it was happening, because some man--Grover
Cleveland and something--he was a cousin to some people I knew, and he shot up a
01:00:00lot of people at there Twenty-seventh, near Grays Ferry, uh, doing time at
Alabama, something, I don't know. But it was in the twenties.
HARDY: Right. Well, what was the reputation of north Philadelphia? The whole
black north Philadelphia during the twenties? That area?
WOODARD: Well, uh, North Philadelphia during the twenties. I mean, it, it was
all black in that section, so black people are not gonna bother black people.
WOODARD: I, I think that's why most of the southern black people came then, in
HARDY: OK, so, you're that, thats. It was considered--
WOODARD: --bad territory--
HARDY: --this is where you go--
HARDY: Well, I should--I gotta contact some more of the churches up there.
HARDY: --some of the older, black churches, I'm trying-- [audio cut off]
[End of interview.]