Michael Jones: This is Michael L. MJ. I'm with the Unfair Housing Oral HistoryProject. It is December 31, 2021 and it is 12:53 p.m. I'm talking with Mr. Frank Anderson at his home on Shawnee Terrace. How are you doing, Mr. Frank Anderson?
Frank Anderson: I'm doing okay, Mr. Michael.
MJ: Okay, so you've been a longtime West Louisville resident?
FA: No, I've been here for 22--I've been down here for 22 years.
MJ: Okay. That is a longtime for some of us. (Laughs) So tell us a little bit1:00about your background? Where'd you grow up?
FA: I grew up in Smoketown area, which is up in--east of Floyd Street. So Ithink my understanding is Smoketown is one of the first black settlements here in the Louisville area.
MJ: So what year where you born?
FA: Born in '46. 1946.
MJ: Okay, and what was your family like?
FA: Just a regular black family.
MJ: I mean how large was it, what'd your parents do?
FA: Oh nine kids, my mother was a stay-at-home mom homemaker. My father, heworked as a bartender at one of the well-known bar and grills in the Smoketown area. 2:00
MJ: What was it called?
FA: J & H Food Bar.
MJ: Okay. So what was the neighborhood like--Smoketown like back then? Was it amajority African American place?
FA: Majority of African Americans. About the only thing that I--we noticed thatwas close to Caucasian was majority of all the stores up in that area and businesses in that area were Jewish, was Jewish businesses. They really, how do I want to put it, I don't want to get some folks upset or whatever. But really, to me they was kind of like sustainers of the neighborhood, because you could go and purchase at the stores and carry on business at the stores and they just carried a bill on it.
MJ: So you get a tab?3:00
FA: Yeah, a tab, well a tab, they just called it a bill back then. Basically itwas just a little--if you see look at these little check out pads like you get at the restaurants, that's basically what they just wrote everything down, kept a little account on each person. And then when you got paid, you just go in there and pay off your bill. Wasn't no hassle or anything, because the people understood and the people (inaudible 0:03:32.3) understood, and they understood the people in the community.
They were connected, I mean, cause it's all on first name basis and most of themare pretty--the ones that I knew were up in age because our parents and things grew up in those neighborhoods so they kind of knew your family. So it made it kind of easy.
MJ: What was your neighborhood like? Did everyone know each other? Was it--4:00
FA: Yeah, we basically knew each other because we all kinda like relatives, andwe all relatives all grew up in that area, there. And everybody went to the schools, the same school together, the same schools that I went to was--for elementary school, was Booker T. Washington. A lot of our parents went to the same school. So the teachers knew our parents and teachers what the parents was like and they knew what you should be like. They knew your parents didn't take any stuff or whatever, once you get education well, then that's where it handled the (inaudible 0:04:36.2).
Back then teachers were able to correct you, with a parents consent. And most ofthe time, if you got a whooping at home, by the time you got home--I mean at school, by the time you got home, the news done already reached the parents whatever kind of way. And then you also would get corrected at home. So it 5:00wasn't no capital punishment back that day. I mean, you wasn't beat to death or anything, but you was corrected.
MJ: So was Smoketown built up the way it is now?
FA: No, no, no, no, no. Smoketown basically was--homes with outhouses. Thelittle houses where if you look at them now, most of them houses like a shotgun, what's you call a shotgun house in the Campbell's back houses. They got back in, ate it in on the back to where the kitchen and bathroom was added on at a later date. Matter of fact, my grandmother in my family, grandmother and grandfather, they lived on Jacob Street, course during the earlier years I'm assuming that 6:00house had an outhouse at the back of it.
But we still went out there and I used to love going over and being with myuncles, and we'd go outside and chop wood because he had a pot belly stove. Also, outhouse, when you went to the bathroom, you went to the bathroom. At nighttime, you had a little--I forget what they called it, but a little can by the bed. Then later on as things progressed when they started putting indoor plumbing, well then, they added bathrooms and things on in there, they was able to add that on.
MJ: What year was that when indoor plumbing became regular?
FA: I really can't say, I mean, I was born in '46 and I kind of vaguely7:00remember, at a younger age, when we would go over there to visit because they lived on Jacob Street. We just lived right around the corner--on the corner of Hancock and Finzer. I would go, well like I said, when I was a child visiting the well. That's what I kind of vaguely remember.
I remember when you had funerals in your home. They laid you out in front room.They call them living rooms now but back during that time, they was called front rooms. And they laid you out in your front room and then everybody came by, your neighbors and friend and things, they'd come by and they would bring fixings by and set up in the front room. Undertaker put chairs out there and you come by and visit. Knock on the door and come by and visit any time, cause--
MJ: Was your family originally from Kentucky?
FA: My mother is--yeah, we all from Kentucky. My father is too. He is from8:00down--I think it's Shelbyville way, I think it was. But my mom, she was born in--she was born and raised on Jacob Street where her mother and father lived.
MJ: Okay. And so you said you went to Booker T. Washington, was that elementary school?
FA: Booker T. Washington Elementary School is on a corner of Jackson andBreckenridge. It's torn down now, right now it's a big parking lot, which is the front parking lot of Meyzeek Middle School. Meyzeek Middle School back during the time I was there it was called Jackson Junior High School. Booker T. Washington was on the corner of Jackson and Breckenridge, and Jackson Junior High was on Jackson Street and Lampton, Jackson and Lampton. 9:00
And that's where everybody went to school in that area, which it encompassed, ohprobably people from blacks--let me see--I think the blacks kinda like started like maybe from--Oak Street, that's basically where (inaudible 0:09:23.6), where white community started. I think black started like somewhere right mainly about St. Catherine Street coming all the way over to the Allway and then on the east side of Broadway, no south side of Broadway, then all the way over to the--going north on the other side of Broadway up to maybe about Madison Street, Madison I believe.
MJ: So there were like certain blocks that were white and black, or was it--
FA: It depended on--let me see how can I put it--(inaudible 0:10:05.5) like from10:00Preston Street going east, over to maybe about Shelby Street was predominantly black. And then the borderlines from Smoketown where I lived was like from south side of Broadway going all the way over to maybe about the north side of St. Catherine Street.
MJ: So would you get in trouble if you went into the white area?
FA: Not really, because we didn't really venture that much out at a early age.Because back then, you stayed where your parents could watch you. You didn't 11:00really venture out. Only time you maybe got started being able to venture out when you got a little bit older to where you could take care of yourself, like maybe--elementary school went from kindergarten to sixth grade, and then you went to junior high school, and went from seventh grade to ninth grade.
So maybe about fifth grade when you got old enough to kind of like venture outand start going away out of your neighborhood. Then me and some friends, we would like venture a little bit further out of our neighborhoods into the white communities, going east and going south. Oh some of the areas like Germantown and Limerick, oh I think right now--trying to think of what they call it out the 12:00upper now put around Newburg and all that up in there. We started venturing out because--
MJ: Used to be Phoenix Hill, like that?
FA: Yeah, Phoenix Hill and all that. Because we as boys, we would get on ourbicycles on skates and just go. We really didn't have no trouble with nobody. I mean if you didn't cause no trouble, you didn't get in no trouble. Cause we would walk from Smoketown area where I lived all the way up to--all the way out to Cherokee Park.
All through the Highlands and everything, go through the back alleys andeverything. Had a good time and people in the backyards of the homes and things in houses, they had like fruit trees and things like that. And if you go summertime, well they just holler at you, "Hey, we got some fruit. Want to come pick--get some fruit our trees and things like that?" And the thing was, because a lot of older folks, what they want to do, you'd knock them down for them and then they get to pick them up too, so it worked kind of like a two-fold thing. 13:00We got fruit and they got fruit.
And then we traveled all up around back of Lexington Road going to--call itseveral ways to get to Cherokee Park. And we traveled out though Lexington Road because the wall along Lexington Road there, well with grass and ground out there, was where we dug the worms, use our worms to go fishing. So we had good time and then when they started building the interstate, well it was good also too because they had them big old dirt mounds.
And of course as boys, we found us a good dirt mound and then we'd go place outthere--where was it off of--where the interstate come across the--Melwood and all out there. The third around (inaudible 0:13:51.5) Packing Company another thing like that. Well they had big old dirt hills and we used to go out to call--we called it Cowboy Hill. We'd go out there and play cowboys and Indians.
MJ: So you were venturing way out.14:00
FA: Oh yeah, yeah. We used to go all out around where Beargrass Creek would comeout through there. Slightly on (inaudible 0:14:10.7), up around (inaudible 0:14:12.2), way up around about upper near (inaudible 0:14:15.8)--well no, it's a little bit too far.
MJ: So did you go actually into Cherokee Park, or--
FA: Yeah, uh huh, yeah, Cherokee Park, not only with Cherokee Park we'd go outthere and fish, and also we could earn a little money because when the golfers would hit the golf balls across the little pond to the other side, was sometimes when good golfer, they'd fall into the pond and then they would pay us a quarter, ten cent to a quarter for a ball if we waded out there and find any balls going. So we could fish and make a little money.
And with the money you made, well then you could go to the theater down on 6th15:00and Walnut. It was called 6th and Walnut then, right now it's called Muhammed Ali. That's where the Grand and the Lyric theaters used to be. We could make a little money there and go to the movies.
MJ: Yeah, what kind of--you'd go to the movies there? What kind of movies didyou see?
FA: Oh, well they had all movies--cowboys, cowboy movies, scary movies, andstuff like that, for kids and things like that. Of course I think in the evening time they kinda like had not adult movies like they have now, but like good old movies like Humphrey Bogart and things like that, where they would show--because at that time, we really didn't have no real black--actually black movies with black actors and things in them.
But you know, movies like that, Robin Hood and old Bogart movies, and some ofthem drama movies, and (inaudible 0:15:51.3) movies, and things like that that adults like. Because sometimes we would go--you could go as a family to see kid movies and things during the daytime, especially on Saturdays because they had specials. On Saturday where you could--back then we had Sealtest milk come in 16:00glass jugs, where you could take a Sealtest cap off of the milk jug and you could get in.
You know, they had promotions like that where I guess the companies that weresponsoring, you could get in for just a milk cap, Coca-Cola milk cap--I mean bottle cap or a seal box lid or something like that. So it was specials and then we would go through--come through the back of the stores on 4th Street, because at that time we really couldn't go in.
But you could come in the back like Woolworth's and things like that, to go fiveand ten cent stores, or dime stores, or whatever they want to call them. We'd 17:00come in back but we'd stop at the candy counter cause you could get fresh candy, pop. Well it would cost you a little bit more at the theater, but you could get a whole bag of candy for about ten cent, and get all your snacks and everything and just take them to the movie with you.
MJ: So where did you go to junior high school and high school?
FA: Went to junior high school at Jackson Junior High. Which was right next doorto Booker T. Washington. Cause that was on Jackson and Lampton Street, and went from Jackson and Lampton Street all the way over to Preston Street. Preston and Lampton, both schools, Preston and Lampton and Breckenridge to Preston.
MJ: What about high school?
FA: High school, went to high school, Louisville Male High School, we did. The18:00thing about that was is majority of my classmates and thing that time was majority black folks went to Central High School. But my father always wanted us to go to, I guess, white school because at the time probably felt that get a little bit more opportunities at the education. So we went to Louisville Male High School. We were some of the early blacks that went to Louisville Male High School.
MJ: Did your father have to do anything special to get you in there?
FA: No. We just lived in the neighborhood. At that time, it was--
MJ: What was (inaudible 0:18:46.0)?
FA: Old Male High over on Brook and Breckenridge, Brook and Breckenridge. Atthat time, it's Brook and Breckenridge, that was I think the maybe the (inaudible 0:18:56.2) home from Male High, I think it was? But Brook and 19:00Breckenridge. We lived on the corner of, well almost on the corner of Floyd and Breckenridge, right across the street from Male High School. So--
MJ: So, okay--
FA: Wasn't no reason for me to be late, cause we lived right across the streetfrom the school. And that's where all nine of us went to high school, at Louisville Male School, because it was nine of us, it was three boys and six girls.
MJ: So how many black students were at Male when you were there?
FA: Male was basically starting to become mixed. And the reason for that was, atthat time, Central was such a powerhouse in sports. So a lot of the white schools that had to play them, they just got tired of getting beat. So then they started recruiting blacks to go to Male High School, and other predominantly 20:00white high schools also.
MJ: So what years would this be that you were in--
FA: I went to Male High in '61 to '64. I graduated in '64. But previous to that,my two older sisters, they went there before I did so they were some basically some first blacks to start going to Louisville Male High School. Of course, my brother-in-law, he was one of the basketball players that they recruited.
MJ: What was his name?
FA: Melvin Joe Green, and he had Steve Smith, Stallworth, lot of the guys thatwas--went on to go to college scholarships and some become coach--I think he 21:00became a coach. At one time he came back to be a coach at Male High School.
What the coaches did, they started watching these junior leagues and if theyfound out you was good, well then they'd start trying to recruit you from out of them junior leagues, so they got you lined all up to got to whatever school, because like I said, Central was such a powerhouse and it just got tired getting beat by Central High School.
MJ: And so were most of the teachers male white teachers then?
FA: As far as I remember, predominantly white, I think we might only had maybeone or two black teachers. But all of my teachers were white. All of my teachers were white. Male and female. 22:00
MJ: And so, did you have a good time at Male?
FA: Oh, yeah. I had a good time. Took all the classes that--regular classes Iguess that you would take for--well I forget, what they had a name for it. But for, I guess regular curriculum.
MJ: Or like general curriculum--
FA: Yeah, general curriculum. I took like a couple of shops, and then you didyour English and your math classes, and then a few other--biology--
MJ: What was your favorite subject?
FA: My favorite subject was shops. (Laughs) You know, the shops and what not.And I become pretty good with my hands and everything. I was always good with my hands and working out situations as far as mechanical. Based on that one got me 23:00into the Air Force.
MJ: Okay, is that what you did after you graduated?
FA: No, I graduated and I went to Kentucky State College for three years and Igot drafted out of--went to Kentucky State College and I got drafted out of Kentucky State College--I got drafted when I was going through Kentucky State College in '67.
MJ: And so--oh, so you went to Vietnam?
FA: No, well I got drafted to go into the Army, but I went and joined the AirForce before my induction date to go into the Army. So by the time I was--my 24:00induction date to come to go into the Army, I was already in the Air Force and I was already in basic training at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas.
MJ: Okay, and so how was the basic training for you?
FA: Basic training for me was a breeze because I realize what the reason forbasic training was, is to help you to survive in the military, especially if you had to maybe go into a wartime situation. I watched some of the other folks who tried to buck the system. They had a hard time, ended up in the what they call PCC, I think is what they call where they kind of like mini, I don't want to say jail, but they had a hard time.
But I mean I did 22 years in the military and I loved every year, every day, I25:00don't have no regrets of doing my 22 years in the military. Encountered a whole lot of racism or bigotry or whatever you want to call it. I encountered quite a bit of that in the military. But I was able to--
MJ: How was that? What kind of racism did you experience?
FA: Basically the same thing that you experience around here in the city at thattime, at that time. Same thing, you know and it's the same as it is today. I mean you would think that over the previous years things would change as far as the way African American is treated in this country. But I don't really see no great changes as I did back then, even when I was coming up.
Kind of like I lived in predominantly black neighborhood. If you go outside yourneighborhood, you had to kind of watch where you were and what you were doing. I mean, racism is just racism and I guess as long as man is going to be alive, I don't know if it's gonna be in this country or whatever, still gonna be the same 26:00because you can't change a person's mindset. I mean, that's just the way it is.
MJ: So you were in the military for 22 years?
FA: Basically 22 years.
MJ: And did you travel around?
FA: Well went to Texas for my training. And then from there, I went to Shaw AirForce Base in South Carolina. And did about a year there and the unit that I was in got activated, and we went to--well I didn't go to Vietnam but I went to Thailand. And the unit that I was in, the aircraft that I worked on, was a crew 27:00chief on, they needed a particular air craft in the Vietnam era because it was electronic, what they call, electronic counter measures.
What it was because a lot of American planes were getting shot down by SAMmissiles at that time. They didn't have no, what they call, electronic counter measures to kind of like--I guess run deterrent for the aircraft that was flying missions. Because they'd get picked up by radar and these aircraft were designed to fool the radar, deflect the radar, so the planes could come in and fly their missions without getting shot down by SAM. So that was the aircraft that I worked on in Sumter, South Carolina, Shaw Air Force Base.
MJ: So that's pretty technical stuff that you were doing.28:00
FA: I did a year in Thailand. And then, at that time that's when, came back justa little bit earlier, almost a year. Come back a little bit early because at that time was when Nixon was president and they were bringing people back home from Thailand--I mean, from the war, because Vietnam was kind of drawing down at that time. And then I came back from there, I went to KSR Air Force Base up in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I was in Air Defense Command, it called ADC, Air Defense Command.
And I worked on aircraft up there of fighter aircraft up there, where wecarried--that was the defense mechanism for the upper northern part of the United States. We flew missions to--well you know, Russia was just right across 29:00the, whatcha name, and it was a defense command alert base. They had F101s which I worked on, F101 Fighters, and they had a B52 Bomber Wing up there. And we would always get alerts every once in a while cause the Russians would come over and that's what we did.
We had (inaudible 0:29:34.6) when we did every day missions and then we hadaircraft that would fly alert missions just to guard the upper perimeter of the United States.
MJ: So when did you move back to Louisville?
FA: Come back to Louisville in '71, when I left KSR Air Force Base. Come back toLouisville in '71. 30:00
MJ: And how had the city changed since you been gone?
FA: Well it changed pretty much because I had gotten married when I was in SouthCarolina. But when I come back, my wife, she was, that time, she was from Gary, Indiana. But when I come back, things had kind of changed because up in the area where--Smoketown area where I lived, and then up in the--where we moved at on Breckenridge Street, I forget what that areas was called but it wasn't called Smoketown area right there. I forget what that area was called, up around in that area there. Was called something else.
But anyway, but things had changed because they started buying urban renewal,31:00started changing things around, streets and things had changed, it was closing off streets and things and putting buildings across out there in the street, things like that. So it kind of changed like that. I guess with urban renewal, it was a big change, not only for my understanding with businesses and things in the West End, but see, a lot of people won't think that. It's just my opinion, my opinion only.
A lot of folks will only think that black business is the only worry. In theWest End of Walnut Street, but in the Smoketown, it was black businesses there that people were able to--well you know, like little bars, little bars and stuff like that. And then we had families that owned florist shops and cleaners. Right across the street from where I lived down on the corner of Hancock and Finzer, 32:00well then we had--there were family called the Marshalls. They had a pool room and an ice cream parlor. And they stayed busy. Called Best Ice Cream in Town. It was a good old hand packed ice cream where they dip it out of the big thing.
And then you had people putting soul food out of their homes and snowballs. Somebig on (inaudible 0:32:31.4) snowballs, for ten cent, you get a snowball big as your head. And you get your snacks and things like that. Though, I mean people, I'm sorry, people were innovative, innovative you know.
MJ: But all that was destroyed by urban renewal?
FA: Yeah, because when they start coming in and--well of course I had told you33:00earlier that I remember Sheppard Square being built, but I take that back. Because I was thinking about something else. But Sheppard Square was built in '43. I was born in '46. But a lot of the people that I grew up with and everything, they lived in them, Sheppard Square area. Now if you look at Sheppard Square now, it's not anything like it was back during the day. But see, back during the hey days of the housing projects, basically it was just a place for people to get a start.
But they were real nice people, kept their yards up there--I mean, just likepeople just like--it was homes. I mean even though it was an apartment complex subdivided housing, but people kept their homes up, the yards up and everything. Beautiful, sit porches things all, flowers pots and everything, bushes and everything, it wasn't it's not like it turned out to be before they just start 34:00turning things down, when all the crime and stuff started coming in toward the drugs and all that start coming in toward--just really a nice place to live.
And then when people started getting jobs at like Ford and things like that, andHarvester, when they started hiring blacks to do those better jobs, and GE and stuff like that with them people started moving out. And buying homes and acquiring homes. And that's when I think the migration started to come down the West End, because the West End was predominantly white. And as we moved west, well then they started moving south, Okolona and (inaudible 0:34:47.4) and all that out there, see.
Then those became places that we could move because in '76, that time it was mysecond wife, we went to buy our first home--no, '78 for buy our first home and 35:00had a good job then, she was a nurse's aid and I was working out at the--I was work the (inaudible 0:35:28.4). And worked for (inaudible 0:35:30.2) from '72 to, I think, it was '76 or '78. Making pretty good money, and then working for the Kentucky National Guard from '78 on making good money so we was gonna buy our first home.
The company we was dealing with, they had three locations that they werebuilding homes, and the location we chose was out in Okolona, over on the other 36:00side of the outer loop. The builder took us out there but he suggested that we don't build there. Buy a home there, because we would have conflict . Because at that time, it was, I don't want to say Ku Klux Klan but it was kind of Klanish, you know what I'm saying?
So we ended up buying the home over in Indiana, the eastern part ofJeffersonville, Indiana, which we bought a nice home out there. I guess the home today if we bought that same home today would probably be somewhere around about maybe upper $90,000s to maybe low $100,000. But at that time we bought the home, we had it built from the ground up and would have cost us like I think $28,000 or $35,000. It was one of the new subdivisions that they were starting over on 37:00the east end of Jeffersonville. I think it was called like the Euclid area.
MJ: And was that subdivision--was it mixed?
FA: Yeah, now it was mixed. It was mixed.
MJ: Okay, so you didn't have the problems over in that--
FA: No, didn't have no problems. I mean, a matter of fact, as far as I canremember, the white neighbors, we all got along together. It was quite a few blacks in that--well all up and down the street what I was on and in that area, as far as I know, we didn't have no problems. Because a lot of blacks that worked over at the power plant.
MJ: Oh, in Charlestown, the (inaudible 0:37:58.5) place?
FA: Yeah, uh huh. They were able to buy, because that was good jobs for(inaudible 0:38:02.9) good money. They were able to buy some homes over there too made them closer to work. Plus Indiana, the taxes were cheaper. Utilities 38:00were cheaper than they were over in Kentucky. And your taxes on your vehicle was cheaper. You know, taxes are cheaper all the way around so it gave you a little bit more spending money. Plus you had a nice home.
And then I moved back over here in Louisville in '82, after my wife and I brokeup. I moved back to Smoketown, and I purchased a piece of property on Rosa Lane--Clay and Rosa Lane Street. I purchased a home there and it's on the corner of Clay and Rosa Lane, and right behind it on Rosa Lane, it was an apartment 39:00house with a laundromat down on the first floor. So I purchased all of that and I ran the laundromat for--oh, when did I move up out of there--in '90. Oh from '82 to maybe about '94 or '95 I think it was.
So I had me a little piece of property up there, little business. I had also alittle restaurant around on corner of--on the Shelby Street next door to--I don't know if they still there are not, Clarksdale TV Repair.
MJ: What was your restaurant called?
FA: Smoketown Restaurant--Smoketown Foods, Smoketown Foods. Cause see back in40:00'60 think it was when my father, he worked at J&H for the owner. There it was Joe Crittus, I don't know if I give his name, but it just called J&H, I don't know about Mr. Crittus's family if they still alive. I don't know if they might want his name in there, but you might (inaudible 0:40:25.2) called J and H.
MJ: And so--
FA: So he was able to--when Joe got ready to retire, well he sold my father thebusiness. So my father bought the business from him and he ran the J and H for--I think we got it back in about '60 and I think he got rid of it in about '82 maybe--somewhere between '82 and maybe '84. Course I don't know if you know 41:00whether how long you been here, but it was a well-known business in that area.
You had several black businesses in that area, that was pretty well known allover the city of Louisville. And that's where black folks from all over the city of Louisville would come. You had Circle Bar, which was on the corner of Hancock and Breckenridge, and next door to it, on the Breckenridge side was the Blue Moon. And a lot of old folks know about them bars. And then on Clay Street you had a bar called The Bucket. And then you had on the corner of Jacob and Clay, you had a black-owned business was called J&H Snack Shack. 42:00
But see J&H Snack Shack and the J&H, that property was owned by the same man,Mr. Crittus--Joe Crittus. He had--where you go in and like--you'd go up to the window or else you could go in and you could get stuff like hot dogs, hamburgers and grilled stuff, because they had a little counter up there and everything (inaudible 0:42:33.6) so you could get grilled stuff and stuff like that. And like I said, then you had cleaners, so we had quite a few black businesses up around there.
MJ: Into the '80s? This is the '80s you're talking about--
FA: No, because basically things started kind of like dying out. I don't know--Ican't remember well the--J&H is still there. But it's called, oh I can't 43:00remember her name right now. I think it's called Shirley Mae's right now. Shirley Mae's, I don't know if you know about Shirley Mae's.
MJ: Okay. Yeah, I know Shirley Mae's. They used to have blues there.
FA: Yeah, it's Shirley Mae's, Shirley Mae's got that building now.
MJ: You had told me that one time you worked for the city.
FA: I worked for Louisville Metro Housing Authority in maintenance.
MJ: So when did you start working there?
FA: I started working there in--I want to say '92 I think it was, and retired44:00out in 2009.
MJ: And so you--what was it like working for the Housing Authority, cause youwould have to do maintenance in the public housing?
FA: Yeah, public housing. Well when I started off working for Housing Authority,I had a friend that was a Sunday school teacher at the church that I belonged to and she knew one of the persons there that did the hiring. I can't remember his name right off the bat. But he was an African American and was in the upper administration and he hired me in. I started off as part-time. Part-time and all we did was like swept streets and kept clean, picked up the yards and things 45:00like that, and helped haul stuff and all like that.
And then I was able to promote up to where I ended up in, let's see, I startedoff in Sheppard Square as a grounds person, the lower part of the totem pole, and then from there I went to--they needed a person to--they were short some people at Dosker Manor. Then from there I went to Dosker Manor. And then I promoted myself up into maintenance to where I could do actually maintenance work. Housing Authority maintenance was--pick up, fix up, people move out, you fix up if something broke down, you took care of all the maintenance of all of what other complex that you worked on. Nothing was actually really hired out--outside of maintenance, you know.
And then I went from--worked there and then I went to--I was able to get a46:00promotion out, what they call Central Maintenance. That's where kind of like the specialty stuff was handled. That's where it would like building shop, electrics, plumbing, heating and air condition, and some of the heavy maintenance and stuff that they done. They had auto mechanics out shop out there where he worked on the maintenance vehicles. That's where people who did all the lawn work, grounds work, and stuff like that. 47:00
MJ: So you had talked about remembering when the Sheppard Square was built andhaving friends there, so when you worked there, how had the development changed?
FA: Oh the development to me it changed quite a bit. Because, well like I say,correction, it was built in '43 and I don't know where I got that recollection that it was there when I--knew when it was built because I don't. But something had happened where I remember some building going on so I don't know what it was at that time. But as far as where I was raised around that area, played, and had friends and things in that area, went and visit them all and played all in Sheppard Square, at that time to me it was the best of the best.
But then as time went on and things started deteriorating, then it started48:00getting bad and then when I started working up in there, things was a little rough, but not as rough as it got to be within the last maybe 9 or 10 years before they tore it--before they tore (inaudible 0:48:13.2) now. Because we were all like--like I said, we all play, we all went to school together, our parents all knew each other, because they all went to school together and stuff like that.
And you not only knew parent but you knew aunties, uncles, and stuff like that.We was kind of like--because that Smoketown up in there, like I say, was predominantly all black from my understanding looking at research a little bit from post slavery. So I guess people kind of like--and I'm thinking that's my understanding too, it's kind of like where Newburg is, post slavery, you know what I'm saying? 49:00
I know a big old plantation--you have to get Bishop to tell you about thatbecause his people were some of the first people that I think kind of inhabited--were kind of like post generation slaves, I guess you wanna say, or whatever. But it had changed a whole lot as far as, well like over where Phoenix Hill is now that's call Green whatever it is, the new one where Clarksdale used to be. That was--
MJ: Oh Liberty Green.
FA: Liberty's called Liberty Green now, but see Sheppard Square was, the way itwas for every white complex they had to build, they had to build a black complex. Sheppard Square was the black portion, Clarksdale was the white 50:00portion. See, that's where predominant white and Sheppard Square was predominantly black. And then that's the way it was like College Court, predominantly black, LaSalle Place, predominantly white. Iroquois in--I remember Park Hill when it was predominantly white.
Remember Iroquois when it was all white, you know what I'm saying? And then youstarted getting the Cotter Homes was built for blacks, and then when blacks started getting--I guess when they started getting filled with then the overflow. I'm thinking overflow for that was Southwick. Public housing here in the city of Louisville has a rich history. 51:00
It might be a history that somebody at some point and time might want to sitdown and kind of research it. Because it was black and white, or whatever deal. I remember when Sheppard Square, even though predominantly black, but all the maintenance men there were white. And then they finally started when they start letting--hiring black folks for other than garbage pickup, well then they started getting jobs as maintenance people. Getting jobs as maintenance people for Housing Authority of Louisville.
MJ: So did you have any kind of incidents where you were feared for your safety52:00or anything when you were working in the housing projects? When you said they got rough?
FA: Oh well, I was--got to be--when I first started working there, I didn'treally have--wasn't really no problem with the people. Residents basically was problem with management. Because management was predominantly white and I had to have some dealings with some of the white management. That's when I decided to join the union and started fighting for myself because I had an incident with one of the higher up guys that was in management--I mean maintenance that was a 53:00white. I felt that I was being treated wrong and I took it to the union and my union steward--my union steward at that time, he was a black person and he told me that, "Don't try to buck the system. That's the way it's always been. Be thankful that they gave you a job."
And excuse my expression, that's what pissed me off. So I knew then that Icouldn't count on that person representing me. Only person I could count on representing me was myself. When he told me I wouldn't win the case, I learned 54:00the rules and the regulations and got my union book out, read it from front to back, back to front, up and down, in and out, and found out that my rights were being violated and I represented myself and I won my case.
And I credited my union experience when I was in the Kentucky Air National Guardcause I worked as a civil service member out there at Kentucky Air National Guard from--it was either '76 or '78 till '82, cause I gave up that job to go in business for myself which I think at that time other than my father told me not to, but I--you know, when you have to kind of like experience things yourself.
But I was a union steward out there, and I learned a lot from the union rep. Our55:00union rep, he was a national union rep for--he represented all of the fellow service people, cause even though I was in there military wise, my civilian job was civil service so whatever federal employee also. But it was kind of like in Air National Guard, it was two-fold thing. I was in the Air National Guard from '72 to '91. That's where I spent majority of my military time.
You did your own military on two days on a--two days for one month--on the56:00weekend for one out of the month you did two days. That was when you did your military, but then I was able to get hired on as a civil service person, which I was a mechanic on the flight land. And those were the hectic days because that's when I really found out about the true--well I'm just gonna say it, true racism, I guess. That it even extended even further than just--rather than civil service--civilian side of it.
Into the military corps, when I was in the regular military, I also experienceda lot of racial and negativity in the regular military. Cause when I got to Sumter, South Carolina, I was sent downtown, I had some medical problem cause I had allergies. So they sent me downtown to see a allergy doctor downtown. So me 57:00and my wife went downtown and then that's when I seen it, heard about it, thought it was all gone, but then that's when I seen it.
A fountain for white people, a fountain for black people, and here me with mymilitary uniform on, I had to go through the back door because there was a door for white people. Got married down there. Went to the courthouse to be married. Had to go in through the back door and me representing the military the United States of America, fighting for justice for all people all standing in there I am, I can't be afforded the same thing as my white counterpart that I'm working beside on multi-million dollar airplane? 58:00
That somebody's life is in my hand, because if I mess up on that plane, theplane would probably crash and where would we crash, we would crash in somebody's neighborhood. And there I am, I can't walk through the front door to see the doctor? I can't walk through the front door for me and my wife to get--for me and my girlfriend at the time to get married? I'm like, wow.
And then I thought--it was all different when I went overseas, it even followedme over there. Followed me over to Thailand. Go downtown, well at first you get on in and get indoctrinated, I think you had to stay on base like maybe for about a month before you could go off base to go downtown. And then, go downtown there and then you go to the bars and things down there to have a little 59:00relaxation, and then boom (inaudible 0:59:05.8).
First thing the women want to do is want to look at you and want to know whereyour tail is. I didn't know--tail, and then friends of mine took me down there cause he had left the base that I was on--we was on here in South Carolina, he had got there about two or three months before I did. So I went down there with him. He took me down there and then he (inaudible 0:59:33.1) he said, "They want to sees your tail cause they think you're a monkey."
Because see, the white guys were telling them that all niggers, they didn't callus black, they called us niggers, had tails because we were monkeys. And they always wanted to see--they wanted to see your tail until they got to know you. But then, I found them to be some of the sweetest people. I mean, didn't have no problem with them or anything. I mean, they liked black people. 60:00
Well at that time, we was called black. Now we called African American, and thenwe called this and that, well up and down, I don't know, we don't even know what we want to be called.
MJ: So when you got to the--when you're working for the city and by then, theprojects you worked in, were they predominantly black, the residents?
FA: ELC is unless I--like I said, when I got to Housing Authority, I wasassigned to Cotter Homes first. Cotter Homes was basically all black, and right across the street from it was Southwick. And I worked at Southwick grounds and light maintenance for Southwick until I got promoted and went to Dosker Manor. 61:00
MJ: What was Dosker Manor like, because I know now they're having a lot ofproblems there.
FA: Dosker Manor when I got there, it was basically for--it was, it was allsenior citizens. It was nice. It was nice, until the federal government seen it as public housing, that's when they started moving anybody who was getting a government check. If you was crazy, if you had mental problems, or at that time you was considered as--alcoholism was a problem, whatever, so if you were a government check, then you could move over. They stopped just being for senior citizens, you see the precursor of that now when you go over there. 62:00
I think basically all the senior citizens that I knew ended up probably dying orleaving going other places. But I working with this little church where we delivered dinners over there on one day out of the week. And me myself personally, I'm shocked and awed as to what I see over there. Now basically before I left there, things had started deteriorating. Like I said, because anybody that got a government check could move in at that point in time. It wasn't just specifically for--
MJ: The elderly.
FA: The elderly. Then they started moving these younger folks in there withmental problems and things like that, now hollering oh what they got there now. Just anybody that what's you call. I know quite a few people that I grew up with I see over there sporadically. But the time when I first started, it was really 63:00beautiful. Got to know a lot of the senior citizens over there cause you got to go in their apartment to work on things for them. Got to know them and meet them and everything.
It was really nice, and then it got to the point to where it was--myunderstanding from talking to some of them got unbearable for them to even live there. Because at that time Clarksdale was across the street and a lot of the bad things that was going on across the street at Clarksdale, finally worked its way across the street infiltrated that. How about--oh boy, I can't think of it. Hunt me down there.
I mean, I'm just tell it like it is but--prostitution, drugs, and stuff like64:00that started infiltrating Clarksdale. Clarksdale was a beautiful place, especially, even when the whites were there and even when blacks started moving into Clarksdale. It was a beautiful place to live. And then, just like it is all over city of Louisville, then once the drugs move in then crime starts moving in. Then it's prostitution, robbery, theft, drugs, stuff like that, all that started kind of like drifting across the street to Dosker Manor. Then they started infiltrating Dosker Manor.
MJ: So after Dosker Manor, where did you end up working?
FA: Ended up working out at Central Maintenance. Worked out at CentralMaintenance, out at Central Maintenance I worked as a--went to Central Maintenance--went into building shop, building shop, that's where we took care 65:00anything like carpentry and stuff like that for anything on--what to do with public housing.
Public housing has two-fold, at that time it was two-fold, you had your brickand mortar, and then they had what they call scatter site housing. I don't know if you're familiar with scatter site housing is. Scatter site housing is like well you didn't live in the brick and mortar like the projects, you kind of like, if you kept your rent and everything up, blaisé, blaisé, did all the right things, didn't have no bad history of whatever, than you was able to move in like scatter site.
Scatter site you might see now, they got all these little homes and thingsaround these different neighborhoods. You was able to move into one of those, and there was like individual units are into some of the apartments, complexes that they started buying up. That was considered as kind of like scatter site 66:00housing, at that time, so--where was I, lost my train of thought.
MJ: So when you were talking about being in, I guess, general maintenance?
FA: Yeah, general maintenance, yeah I went into the building shop and then whenthey just made some changes out there in the building in the central maintenance, it kind of started going all up under one umbrella so I worked for--cause it's guy that I worked for, he retired--my supervisor--he retired and they kind of combined the shops together: building shop, plumbing, and electrical, they merged them together.
So I went from buildings, and then when building shop, and just a little bitbefore, I got switched up out of there and they sent me to Auto Grounds, which 67:00that's where they got the auto shop where they work on the maintenance vehicles and grounds where they go out and cut grass and everything. And the reason why I ended up there was because I didn't click with the head man up at the top.
It was kind of like a punishment for me because I was kind of like a personthat, I don't want to say I buck the system, in other words to them I was bucking the system, but the system was a bad system. And I challenged the system. And so I was like a sore thumb or thorn in certain people's side.
So it was kind of like a demotion for me, of course, I ended up fighting it.68:00When they told me I wouldn't win it. But like I said, again I represented myself and I was able to get back in the building shop, and from there, I end up a plumber by Housing Authority. When I retired, I was still at the plumbing shop.
MJ: So when did you move to Shawnee Terrace?
FA: I moved to Shawnee Terrace in '98. When Shawnee, I think a couple of daysbefore my birthday, moved to Shawnee Terrace. I was always oh, oh you know, I either wanted to live in Smoketown or the West End. I moved--what I did was, I 69:00knew the area that I wanted to move in. And looked around, at that time, you didn't do all that stuff on the computers or things. They had them magazines.
So I kept watching them magazines and looking till I seen a house that I loved.What drew me to this house was actually the garage, because it's a big garage. And also like over the homes, because to me they're intriguing and when you get into them, you can kind of make them your own, you know what I'm saying, as far as whatever called, like, you see what I did.
So I moved down here and this street, when police come through here, they turnup there and turn to Duncan, they don't come through here. We only see them every once in a while. And this, for them to come through and wave at us, because nothing goes on, I think, since in the 20 years that I've been here, we only had two incidents. Nothing goes on. We all, everybody here owns their house 70:00except for one person. And she's renting but she's renting to own and we all take care of each other.
I take care of--we got several men here that I do maintenance, light maintenancesometimes, whatever, and got a guy down that way. He does electrics. Guy down this way, he does a little bit of everything, just like me. Of course, he's a lot younger than I am. I done slow down a whole lot since I've been in.
But my thing is just--I just help my neighbors. I mean, they wanna give mesomething they good, they can. If they don't, just pay me for what I paid out of my pocket for whatever you need. I mean, I do light plumbing, some light electrical work. Might cut down some bushes or something for them. We just help 71:00each other, that's way we do. They feed me, I do something for them, that's just what we do. We don't--
MJ: So how much did you pay for your house?
FA: At that time, I paid $71,000 or $76,000. But the thing about that is, mypocket value started going up. Finally went up to $80,000 something. And caught up with my--with the reasons on your taxes, and then they got up to--I think the hassock got up to--I think with the tax valuation, got up to $115,000 I think it was. 72:00
And then when they came through to do whatever they wanted them to do, when theyredid the taxes, they dropped all my taxes down. And think that was just to--so people can come in and start buying up a property cause of white flights coming back. So they want to get our homes as cheap as possible.
MJ: So what's your property value now?
FA: My property value now is--see I've got--I'm on a double lot. I've lookedaround and compared my housing to the houses in other better neighborhoods like Highlands and places up there. If I was in that area there and my house would be somewhere around $225,000. I'm only like at $95,000. 73:00
MJ: So when you went from like a $110,000 to $95,000 in the last evaluation?
FA: In the last time I went to go try to get a second mortgage, not a bigmortgage, just a few dollars to take care of some things I want to take care of. They only valued my property at $85,000.
MJ: Oh wow.
FA: Now, houses all around me now are starting to sell, because people arecoming back and the investors, I mean, you get cards in the mail up every day, telephone calls wanting to buy your home. But they only want to pay you--I mean I think the last one I got, they wanted like, "Oh no, we can't give you that. We'll give you $36,000." "No, you ain't giving me nothing." I got sweat equity in this. I mean you ain't giving me nothing.
MJ: So they want to give you $36,000 for a home you paid for $71,000 for, until74:00a couple of years ago was valued at $110,000.
FA: Yeah, well I mean, well you know, well I don't know, sometime I thinkinvestors which downplay they (inaudible 1:14:17.7) I think they think you stupid. It's that old thing, well, we give them what they want, they'll be happy to get what to get, you know what I'm saying, but I know they starting to find that out and it's different. But see, you have the foreign folks, a man of property, because they understand what's going on.
They understand more about what's going on in this country than, I don't want tosay, well they know how to use the system more than we do because we're not trying to educate ourselves, so enough on travel, knowing the system and how the system works. So they started to buy our property--and they going in first, they started buying a property become slum lords. 75:00
A whole lot of houses around, if you drive around through this neighborhood, yousee a lot of houses in certain block that's gone down cause they slum lords and they rent and they don't do nothing. But now, since the neighborhood's trying to come back and white folks are trying to move back down here, well then, they turned it around and they're going in fixing them up just a little bit so they can get the top dollar out of them, see.
This home--this homes all back around here now where they done took these littlesmall highball houses, used to be 2 bedroom. If they had a basement, oh, now they'd go in and put basement--bedrooms in the basement. I go up in there anyway and they got the little attics and they finagle them around so they can get a bedroom up in there cause in order for a house to be an active bedroom, you have to, I think it's something like--it's either 9 to 9 or 10 to 10. And it's got to have a closet. 76:00
You see like them attics and things what like this, only I take this and put onebig room up there. And if you got two rooms on the main floor, than that's three. Then you can go and put maybe one or two more in the basement, then you got four or five. And they bring more money. Especially if you can squeeze another bathroom in, see, so you can get three to four bedrooms with two baths, well then, boom. You've got $225,000--you got anywhere from high hundred thousand, like say maybe $100,000.
They going for like $150,000, $160,000, and some of the houses around here, Ipulled them up on my phone here. I mean, you can go through Zillow.com and just--so I pulled up my home around--and you see, I'm up around $200,000. And then somebody going to tell you, well, I want your home and double, two and a half car garage, with a loft, and you gonna give me $36,000--no, I don't think so.
MJ: Yeah. (Laughs)
FA: Cause when I came in here, I--well that that arch was already there. But77:00this was a wall through here and was a door right there on the side. And there was a door on that side. Just think, might there where half of that door is right there on that side it was wiggling like that, so I came in tore all this wall out, cut that back out, I put that double door in there and took that window out and put all this arching in. That's what I'm in the process of doing now is upgrading.
Like I said, this is two bedrooms here, two upstairs, and I got enough room downthere if I wanted to, I could put two more bedrooms down--it's like a be a six bedroom house with a two and a half car garage on the double lot. Cause that's what they gonna do. And you put another--cause it got three bathrooms in 78:00it--it's a bathroom--a full bathroom upstairs. It was a full bathroom downstairs, but I took it out because back when they had all that flooding back, oh early what 2000 I think it was, why people's basements all flooded down here.
But then when the MSD came through and they started putting back up preventersin the basements and things for free, I took that bathroom out so they could tear up the floor in and everything to put that in so I won't have that problem of sewer system backing up into my house. This is a nice house, I like it. Got good bones and everything. So I mean, I'm not gonna give it away. I mean if anything happens to me, well you know basically paid for so family members can have it. But I'm not gonna give it away like they want you to do. What they call it, they call themself investors. 79:00
MJ: Do you know anybody who has sold?
FA: No, like that, well there's people had told to move out but that was back inthe early--up around 2000, late 2009, stuff like that. Down (inaudible 1:19:28.0), but black folks moved back in. What happened was, and they be--I think one lady, I think she moved and she went to (inaudible 1:19:39.4) house something with her family. And then some people down here moved and then a couple people here moved out.
And the Urban League came in with that program that Urban League got first-timehome buyer's program. Where they come and they bought the houses up and they 80:00redone them and everything and they sold them back to first-time homebuyers. Cause I worked on that house there, the house next door to this one here, worked on two or three houses--three or four houses around here with the Henderson Group. I worked with them.
They redo homes for Urban League for their First-Time Homebuyer Program, and seethat's one of the things is people holler--black folks holler that ain't no money, you don't give us it. It's money they got to fight for it. You got to fight for it. You got to go down there and you got first of all, you have to become knowledgeable, become educated as to what's out there and available. And then you got to go and fight for it. 81:00
Whereas our white counterparts, they are in tune and educated on it because theykeep each other informed. We don't keep each other informed, and they let their friends know what's out there and what's available. I mean, I sit up there and I watch these council meetings and I watch them move all this money around. All this money, since the Covid, all this money that came into the city of Louisville.
And you'd be surprised how much money is sitting up there allocated for the nowpredominantly black neighborhoods in this city, in the West End. But we got to hang in tune to it, hang fighting for it. I mean money to redo your homes to get them back up to market value. But these investors know about it. So they go in and give you scraps for your whatchaname, and then they go apply for these loans. You see what I'm saying? They go apply for these loans and they get to--the low-income, like you know, but why don't we do that? 82:00
Well (inaudible 1:22:12.7) folks die. Unfortunately they don't make no wills orwhatever, or fix it where family members, one person over whatever. And then what happens is they get to arguing and squabbling, everybody wants their piece of the rock, out of the little home. But nobody wants to take care of it and it turns around and starts to falling apart. The city ends up coming around cutting the grass and all that. Then it ends acquiring leans on it. Somebody in the family and them and then figured out that they can go and borrow money against the house.
And then the home comes up leaning down, and then what happen? Nobody gets it.So a (inaudible 1:22:54.8) goes bad, then finally the city gets tired of taking care of care of this and then they start figuring out a way to acquire it. And that's what's happening now because they wanna try to get lot of these homes 83:00back up and get them back on the market and get rid of the crime. Because they said all these blighted homes and everything draws crime.
And then that's what the city's in the process of doing now. It's a goodprogram, but tthis allows folks now, especially young people who got good jobs to own something. Just like I try to tell you. Own your home, that's like money in the bank. Don't be spending all your money on Jordans and Nikes and all of these $300 pair of jeans and, you know what I'm saying? These little outfits and all, it's like, and get you spending money on a big old car and stuff like that? You know, get you some property. Property's always gonna be valuable. Property's 84:00always gonna be valuable.
But now with the redlining in the West End, I don't know if we ever get thatworked out. But there's people out here, people not supposed to be out there working on it and trying to get rid of it, but it'll never happen. I mean, as long as I've been in the city--well living in the city of Louisville in the black communities, the same thing that happened up in Sheppard Square on the up in Smoketown, redlining up there, and your insurance is high.
You go by--you go try to get a loan. Your loan is higher than your whitecounterparts. And it's the same way and my understanding, it's the same way all over America. We're still ethnic race of people, there for whatever reason, we still hate it. I got to thinking when--back when those, that guy that killed 85:00them Asian, I don't know if you remember when they killed them Asian women in that beauty shop or whatever it was. Took less than a month, that's what they do, they came up with an Asian Hate Crime Bill.
But if I ain't mistaken, I think a couple of them people who got killed in therealso were black. Was there a black African American Hate Crime Bill? We still trying to fight--we trying to still trying to get a Hate Crime Bill for us. What? Ever since, my God, ever since I can remember. What do they say, starting back with Emmett Till. I mean how long ago was that then? I mean, they still killing us and dragging us around the street in certain states and everything, you know, gun laws have been changed to really actually--I mean, it hasn't changed. It hasn't changed. 86:00
I don't know what it's gonna take to get it changed. I don't know what it'sgonna take to get it changed, but I have to look, there was another Hate Crime Bill passed with some group of people just a couple of weeks ago. I meant to try to look it up. I seen it on the news, on the news bit, and I meant to go back and research it. But you know, the politicians in Washington don't mind it, but black folks, they still won't pass anything for us.
You take all these farms folks, they just bought over. They're getting moremoney than we ever even thought about getting. Why? Because they feel obligated to them, but they don't feel obligated to us. And then you hear about down in southern part of the United States where the Mexicans will bring their kids up 87:00and drop them off at the border and going home and leaving them. Then when they get swooped up, and then we have to take--and the United States is taking care of them because their parents left them, now all of a sudden they want to give them a half a million dollars for separation. Well who separated you?
You came and dropped the child off and went back home. But now, they gonna comeand claim their half a million dollars per child. I mean, does that make sense? And here we are, got people here at home, starving? Born, raised, and reared here and have some equity in the system.
MJ: All right, well thank you for your time today. That's all the questions Ihad. Is there anything else about housing that you--that we didn't talk about 88:00that you think would be interesting for this project?
FA: Only thing is, like I say, I watch the whole--watch a lot of councilmeetings and see where they got money out there for black communities. I hope the people that they are choosing and the people that they are putting on these boards to supposed to represent these different organizations, that's supposed to be these different boards that the mayor has got--that he has set up down there, I just hope that we get fair representation.
Fair representation, and then I hope my people sit down and learn about thesystem and educate themself to the system that we live in. They keep hollering, "Oh it's a white man's system." But you got to live in it. You going, you got to 89:00live in it. So best thing you can do is learn it so you can either use it against him or use it with him to get what benefits you. I mean if that sounds like.
MJ: That does, sir. Thank you for your time today.