Marsha Brugman: This is Monday June 13, 1977. This is Marsha Brugman and thismorning I am interviewing Henry Ebbs in his home in 1924 Yale Drive in the Highlands of Louisville, Kentucky. We are resuming our project on the oral history of the Parkland Area of Louisville and Mr. Ebbs was an early resident of Parkland although he now lives in the Highlands area. Mr. Ebbs can you tell me where you were born and raised?
Henry Ebbs: I was born on Hurstbourne Farm, Shelbyville Road, Eight Mile House,March the 28th, 1902.
MB: What were your parents' names?
HE: Peter Ebbs was my father and Harriet Ebbs was my mother.
MB: How did you happen to be born out there?
HE: Well my father was overseer of this farmer, Norvin Harris' farm, HurstbourneFarm. It was later sold to A.P. Hert and now it's . . . I don't know what they 1:00call it now, it's uh . . . another concern bought it.
MB: I know who's ( ) you're talking about. How many years did you live out there?
HE: Well I lived there until I was thirteen years old.
MB: What schools did you go to?
HE: Well I always went to a Louisville school. We came in the trolley car toLouisville. I went to the Western school at 16th and Magazine.
MB: And when you were thirteen where did your family move?
HE: Well we moved to 2402 Magazine Street from the country.
MB: Did you stay at the family home then until you were an adult?
MB: How many brothers and sisters did you have?
HE: Well I had, there was eight boys and four girls in my family.
MB: Oh my goodness!! And where were you in that . . . .?
HE: I'm the second youngest. My youngest brother is dead. Me and my sister isall that's living now, today. There's two of us living.
MB: Wow, well that's quite a family. Now did you go on past high school? Did you2:00graduate from high school?
HE: No, I quit the first year of high school. I took a job.
MB: Were you at Central?
HE: Yeah I went to Central, the old Central at 19th and Chestnut.
MB: Now what kind of job did you take when you left high school?
HE: Well I went to Herald Post Paper Company; delivered papers in a truck. Idrove a truck for them. I worked for them for about four or five years.
MB: What motivated you to quit school? Were times just so hard that you neededthe money?
HE: No, I don't know, I just didn't care for school. I just wanted to quit.
MB: Impatient to get to your job?
HE: Yeah, get a job yeah. Back then jobs were pretty good, you know. You didn'tmake much money but you were working. And I worked at the eight mile house as a waiter. It was a night club like there at the eight mile house which was one of the leading places in town in night clubs.
MB: Did you do that at the same time you delivered papers, moonlighting?
HE: Yeah, moonlighting and quit the paper and took that full time job.
MB: And what area did you live in during that period of your life?
HE: I lived at 24th and Magazine.3:00
MB: Oh you lived at the family home.
HE: At the family home. Then in later years we moved back to the eight milehouse on the Shelbyville Road, right across from the Oxmoor Center. The property is still standing there.
MB: Is it that old, little old white house?
HE: Little old white house standing there.
MB: Oh right, okay. I know exactly where that is! So how long did you stay outthere then as an adult?
HE: Well I stayed there 'til . . . well I guess . . . 1925 I was abouttwenty-three years old. Then I bought a house down on walnut Street, 2417 Walnut Street.
MB: Were you married then at that time?
HE: no, no.
MB: You still moved with your family?
HE: Moved with my family, yeah. Then in 1928 I married out of the 2417 WalnutStreet address.
MB: What was your wife's name?
HE: My wife was Marie Atkins.
MB: Is she still alive?
HE: Yes she's still alive. I had a wife and three children; three boys. And I4:00now have four grandchildren. My oldest son he was handicap and he's still with us. He's forty-seven years old.
MB: Oh my. Then, so when you married; what year did you say 1928?
MB: Then did you move, you know, with your new family?
MB: Where did you go then?
HE: Well we lived at various places up on Walnut Street there, around 8th andWalnut. I forget the number and the place.
MB: What year then did you move into the Parkland area?
HE: I moved to the Parkland area in 1942.
MB: Did you buy a home in the Parkland neighborhood?
MB: Was that considered to be a desirable part of town at that time?
HE: No, it was just an old lot there and a man built three new homes on that lotand I was fortunate enough to buy one of them.
MB: And what address was that?
HE: 1142 South Thirty-Sixth Street.
MB: So you moved there again, tell me the year again.
HE: '42, 1942
MB: Can you describe something to me about what the Parkland area was like at5:00the time?
HE: Well the Parkland area was more wide open. It wasn't as built up as it istoday. It was pretty nice homes down through there. A lot of people had their small gardens and whatnot all through there.
MB: Was it a predominantly white neighborhood at that time or was itpredominantly black?
HE: Well it was mixed, it was a mixed neighborhood down through there. But overin, from my section on over was predominantly black, say Grand Avenue over to Strathmoor was predominantly black through there.
MB: So it was a racially mixed area as week as a fairly nice area. What aboutshopping and conveniences, things like that, was it easy to come by there?
HE: No it was several blocks away to get to the shopping district.
MB: Was that like 28th and Dumesnil?
HE: 28th and Dumesnil. There was a drug store there and a post office combined.6:00Lot of a little variety stores and what not. Two or three markets along up in there.
MB: What about recreation? What kinds of things were there in the Parkland areain terms of recreation?
HE: Well there wasn't too much outside of the churches and whatnot. I wasaffiliated with the Boy Scouts of Virginia Avenue Baptist Church along about that time.
HE: My youngest boy right I think around about '46 why he was 12 years old, Iwent in there as a councilman in order to keep them in there, in the boy scouts.
MB: Did the churches usually sponsor the boysout troops?
HE: Yes, Virginia Avenue Church sponsored it at the time.
MB: Virginia Avenue Baptist Church. Is that the one they renamed the FirstVirginia Avenue Baptist?
MB: There's been a split I think in the church.
MB: The Virginia Avenue Baptist Church was the original black church in theParkland area.
HE: Yeah, thirty-sixth and Virginia, right on the corner.
MB: So it was in '46 then that you became involved in the boy scouts.7:00
MB: Was that just a recent thing? Had they had Boy Scout troops in that area?
HE: I really don't know, but the scoutmaster he come to me and asked if I wouldhelp him out with the boys.
MB: Was that a black troop?
HE: Yes a black troop, all black.
MB: At that time did they keep the Boy Scout troops segregated? I mean was thereever a question?
HE: No, no they were segregated then. Lee Robinson was the scoutmaster there atthat time.
MB: Do you remember about how many boys?
HE: We had around forty, forty-five boys in that troop.
MB: So there was obviously an interest and a need!
HE: Yes there was!
MB: What other kinds of things were you involved in when you lived in theParkland area? Did it pretty much center around your activities at church?
HE: No, I didn't belong to that church. I was a Methodist. I belonged to theMethodist church.
MB: Oh so you just went over there to help!
HE: Yeah. At that time I was working for the Jones Dabney Company, paint andvarnish place. I went to work for them in 1934 and I stayed there until '67. 8:00
MB: What did you do in that company?
HE: Well I was a department head there, foreman and whatnot.
MB: Where's that company located?
HE: Eleventh and Hill. It's a paint manufacturing, Seven East Coating Companygot it now.
MB: Oh sure, sure; I know where that is.
HE: We were sold three times while I was working for them.
MB: Oh my goodness! [Laughter] And you just went along with new management!
MB: What kind of . . . di the church at that time, did the different churches atthat time, [lay a big part in terms of recreation . . . I mean is that what you did with your family, go to church and church activities?
HE: Yeah, yeah.
MB: Was that pretty much a big thing with everyone who lived in the area?
HE: Well, yes it was. People took interest in the Boy Scout troop. Why they allwent camping with us and whatnot. We had a nice time, the boys trying to get 9:00their merit badges and whatnot. They would take hikes. They would hike twelve miles out to Camp Dan Greer (?). We would go out and prepare the meals and have them ready by the time they go there.
MB: What other kinds of things were sponsored by the churches in that immediatearea? DO you remember?
HE: no, I was busy working and I didn't take too much part in it.
MB: You were probably lucky to have the time to do the boy scouts! [Laughter]
HE: Yeah, that's right!
MB: Did you have quite a few other family members that lived right around in thearea then?
HE: No, my family was always ( ).
MB: Where did your other relatives live?
HE: Twenty-fourth and Walnut.
MB: Right, now isn't that where Ms. Hayes, your niece, still lives today?
HE: Yeah, that's right,
MB: In one of the old family homes. What schools did your children attend?
HE: They went to the Virginia Avenue School. Thirty-sixth and Virginia.
MB: Was that a private school?
HE: No, no it's a public school.
MB: What did that become later?
HE: It's still there, its' still a private school, I mean a public school.10:00
MB: Oh really!
HE: Virginia Avenue, thirty-sixth and Virginia.
MB: Oh, I wasn't aware of that.
MB: Now was that a grade school?
MB: Where did they go on after that?
HE: Then they went to the junior high at Seventeenth and Madison.
MB: Was that Parkland Junior High?
HE: No it was . . . I forgot the name of it, but its junior high at Seventeenthand Madison. Then they went from there to Central, but they went to the new Central, you know, where Central is today.
MB: Right, down near Ninth . . . .HE: Twelfth and Chestnut. I went to Ninth and Chestnut.
MB: Uh-huh. Okay I'm trying to think . . . there's the western branch of thepublic library, that's at Tenth and Chestnut.
HE: Tenth and Chestnut, yes.
MB: Then the new Central is one block over west. The old central was one blockover east. What's sitting there now, or is there anything? Because I'm trying to get some of those locations down.
HE: I think it's . . . no I don't know what's on the corner now, I really don't.There's a bank up a little further there, First National, at Seventh Street.
MB: The YMCA is there close, or the YW . . .11:00
MB: YMCA is close.
HE: That's between Ninth and Tenth.
MB: I'll have to go down there and look in the area because I'm trying, with theway they've moved so many of the schools and churches, even though they've carried the names along with them the addresses have changed and everything. Getting back to the Parkland area, what year did your family leave that are?
HE: We left there in 1954. Moved out here.
MB: You lived quite a few years there.
HE: Yeah lived there about thirteen, fourteen years.
MB: What made you decide to move? Were you just not interested in staying anylonger or looking for a new home?
HE: No, I just come across a lot here and I decided to build a home on it. Webuilt the home and we decided we liked this home better than the one there so moved in this one and sold that one.
MB: Well for, you know, years to come when people listen to these interviewsthey're not going to maybe be quite as aware of these areas of town that we are talking about. But I also find it unusual that this is predominantly a white area right now, the Highlands off Bardstown Rd and you moved in in 1954 in this area. 12:00
MB: Brought your property and built a home. Was that considered unusual?
HE: No, it was . . . this is predominantly a black block. I had a cousin livedhere for oh I guess fifty years, right here on the corner.
MB: Uh-huh. So it was just accepted and that is that. Because I was so surprisedby that when you gave me your I thought I couldn't believe especially to find out that you lived here twenty some years. So that was no problem simply because it was considered a black block in a predominantly white area?
HE: Yeah, no, no.
MB: Did you have any qualms moving from the Parkland area?
HE: None whatever, none whatever.
MB: What kinds of things interested you, well of course you said you liked thishouse better than the house that you had there. And I imagine if you built this you probably designed it and everything the way you wanted and got your yard the way you wanted.
HE: That's right.
MB: So that's all understandable. But was there anything else about the areathat led you away from the Parkland area? Were there more recreational 13:00facilities for you children?
HE: No, my children were grown up see when I left there. They were in the Army.We just came out here.
MB: Was there any question in terms of being close to shopping or anything like that?
HE: Yeah, that played a big part in it too, being close to the groceries and theshopping centers. See we got a nice one right here in the . . . .MB: Douglass Loop?
HE: Douglass Loop yeah.
MB: Plus I think you're about a block from the Convenient!
HE: Yeah [Laughter]
MB: Which is always a good thing.
HE: At Douglass Loop you can get most anything that you want up there.
MB: Well from what people tell me, in the 30s, 40s, and 50s, the people thatlived right around Twenty-Eighth and Dumesnil that was the way that area was at one time. Like the Douglass Loop is to us today.
HE: That's right, yes.
MB: That they had everything, meat market, grocery store, hardware stores, everything.
HE: Yeah, everything was white in there but it was a nice shopping center.
MB: Everything was white owned?
HE: Yeah, white owned.
MB: But blacks and whites shopped there?
HE: Yeah, shopped in that district, yeah.
MB: Do you have any explanation . . . . I always try to ask people who lived or14:00worked or you know spent part of their lifetime in that area, do you have any explanation what happened to that shopping, that particular shopping area around Twenty-Eighth and Virginia, and what's happened to the businesses in that area?
HE: I can't understand you know, what's happened to it because it all was a nicegoing business look like when we were down there. Everybody seemed to be satisfied and happy. I don't know what happened to it.
MB: Well it's definitely deteriorated over the years. Well a lot of businessesjust folded and that's it.
HE: But I was surprised to learn that that Twenty-Eighth and Dumesnil areaturned out to be what it is.
MB: The need! That's what I think is disappointing is the need is still there.People lived there and they're desperate, many of them don't have cars. They're on a fixed income. They're elderly people. They need the shopping. They need the conveniences close and yet the businesses are gone. And it really is kind of funny . . . I'm always trying to ask to get people's opinion on it. [Short pause] Can you remember anything else about the Parkland area during the late 15:0040s, early 50s when you lived there? Anything else that you especially enjoyed about the area or anything that especially meant to you all?
HE: Well you take Chickasaw Park at that time. That was a nice place to go forrecreation back in those days. You could get on the street car and ride down there for a nickel.
MB: The parks were segregated at that time though right?
HE: Yeah, it was a segregated park. It was real nice then. It was really . . .you had protection there then. It was policed good.
MB: How much did you have to pay for the trolley?
HE: About seven cents I think. [Laughter]
HE: Ride and get off the trolley.
MB: And you went there a lot on weekends and things with your family?
HE: Yeah. We had picnics.
MB: What kind of . . . . What was that amusement park, Ghost Town on the River,what did that used to be? Fontaine Ferry Park?
HE: Fontaine Ferry, yeah.
MB: Was it in existence then?
HE: Yeah it was in existence but that was off limits. It was all white.16:00
MB: Oh was it!?
HE: Yeah, strictly white then, yeah.
MB: I wondered about that because I didn't know how many years it had been inexistence or whether it was segregated. Did you live in the area at the time that that became integrated?
MB: No, was that in the sixties I guess?
HE: Sixties, yeah. But they used to have what they called White City down therewhere Chickasaw Park is now. It was an amusement park and I think it was integrated back then in those days. It has been years ago. I was just a youngster myself. I don't remember too much about it but I know it was there. They called it white City.
MB: White City?
MB: That's the first time I've heard anybody talk about that. It was nearChickasaw Park?
HE: Yeah it was between Chickasaw Park and Shawnee Park in that area, right onthe river.
MB: Yeah, I'll have to ask some more people about that. That's the first timeI've heard about it. And it was an amusement park?
MB: What other kinds of [short pause] things you mentioned Chickasaw Park and17:00the recreational things. Were there other ball fields? Was softball a big thing like it is today?
HE: No, not today. The fairground was down there. The Kentucky State Fairgroundwas down there on Cecil Avenue. It was a big event you know, once a year when they had the state fair down there.
MB: Now was that integrated? Were blacks allowed to come?
HE: Yeah everybody, yeah . . . state fair.
MB: Ride all the rides and see all the exhibits and everything?
HE: Yeah, yeah.
MB: Oh now I didn't realize the state fair grounds were located down there!
HE: Yeah, yeah.
MB: I guess I'm just so used to seeing it all growed up.
HE: That's right, yeah.
MB: You know with houses all over that I can't imagine there were once emptylots where there might have been the fair grounds.
HE: I imagine it may have moved you know, according to your age, a time or two I guess.
MB: Yeah I've only been here seven or eight years and since I've been here, youknow, the big fair grounds down on the expressway.
MB: What about bowling or any other activities like that?
MB: [long pause] Hmmm. In terms of schools that your children attended in the18:00area, Virginia Avenue Elementary School, do you remember anything specific about how they were segregated? All the public schools were segregated at that point so the Virginia Avenue Elementary school was obviously a black school. Do you remember anything that you felt your children particularly got because of the school or didn't get? Was it a good school?
HE: I remember the things they didn't get! My oldest son was handicap and hedidn't get an education there. I sent him to that school and they didn't have any facilities to teach him then. And I guess he was about twelve or thirteen years old before we could get a visiting teacher to come and help out.
MB: Is he physically handicap?
HE: Yes. He had rheumatic fever and he had infantile paralysis when he was sixmonths old. He's always been a handicap. He's never worked or anything. And he's 19:00still living with us.
MB: And they had absolutely no facilities?
HE: No facilities.
MB: Was that for black children or all handicap children in general or do you know?
HE: No, well white children could go to Kosair Crippled Children but minecouldn't at that time.
MB: Kosair was segregated at that time?
MB: Oh I didn't realize that.
MB: What did they tell you, just sorry?
HE: Just sorry.
MB: Don't have anything for you.
HE: Didn't tell you anything! I had to take him there to get his braces and what not.
MB: They wouldn't serve you on an outpatient basis?
HE: No, no I'd just take his shoes there and they'd make the braces according tothe prescription the doctor gave him.
MB: Oh. Hmmm.
HE: No HE didn't go there under any circumstances. They wouldn't treat him at all.
MB: Oh I didn't realize that. So you had to get a private doctor and if youcouldn't pay for it your child couldn't get taken there?
HE: That's right, yeah.
MB: Now what changed so that you could get a visiting teacher to come to the home?20:00
HE: I don't know how we got that. My wife she was . . . I don't know she gotthat. At first we paid the teacher a long time to give him his preliminaries, to start him out there. Then, I don't know, I think they had visiting teachers going around and she got into touch with her some way or another.
MB: So did he have a visiting teacher then all the years that he was educated?
HE: No no, he had the teacher about three or four years. He didn't even get ahigh school, I mean grade school education.
MB: That's hard to believe! That's really awful. What about your other two sonsthat attended the school? Were things at least adequate for them?
HE: Yeah, they were all right, yeah. They finished that and they finished highschool. I had one, he went to Tuskegee. He went down there for four years and then he went into the Army. And I had another went to Ohio State. He went a 21:00couple of years there and then he went into the army.
MB: What did the one who went to Tusk . . .
MB: Tuskegee, I can't even say it. What did he get his degree in?
HE: He was a draftsman. He didn't finish it. He left six months before hefinished. But he's a draftsman for the government.
MB: Uh-huh. And what about the other son?
HE: He's with Kentucky Fried Chicken. He's a department head there with them.
MB: Oh, that's a good job!
HE: He's got a good job yeah.
MB: Well I'm amazed talking about public schools. I mean, you know, I knew for along time they were segregated. They were segregated then, segregated for many many years but that's something we don't talk about.
HE: I think that's something that was really unfair for him, you know. Noconsideration at all and he doesn't get any help today as far as that's concerned, from anyone, the government and no one else and I pay taxes and everything, like everybody else.
MB: And he still doesn't qualify for anything today?
MB: And I imagine it's awfully depressing for him as well?22:00
HE: Well I don't know. I manage to make it pretty good for him. He doesn't feelit too much. He enjoys his radio and television and what not.
MB: Was that frustrating for him as a child to realize that he couldn't go toschool with his brothers though?
HE: No, it didn't seem to bother him too much because my wife always kept himbusy some way or another.
MB: And sometimes if they've never had it they don't know what they're missing either.
HE: That's right.
MB: But still that doesn't justify anybody having to go without, there's nodoubt about that.
HE: He went three or four days down there and then they found out they couldn'tkeep him in the school.
MB: Was it a question of him being able to get to the classrooms and thebathrooms and this kind of thing?
HE: No. . . . . Yes it was in a way because they had a boy there that waswilling to help him and what not. All he needed was a little assistance to the bathroom and what not.
MB: Goodness sakes [long pause] Was there, well of course I guess it was23:00probably many many years before they really the facilities to work with handicap children in schools, so there was never a question of him going beyond grade school.
MB: You got a visiting teacher and for a number of years and when that endedthat was the end of his education.
HE: That was the end of it, yeah.
MB: Did you ever feel that your other sons that they were losing out in theterms of education?
MB: That even though the schools were segregated you felt that they were gettingwhat they needed to get?
HE: Yeah, I think they come along all right.
MB: Okay . . . . Can you think of anything else about the Parkland area duringthose ten or so years that you lived there? Anything that you, you know, just felt real positive about or real negative about or any special remembrances of the people?
HE: No, it was just a really nice place to live at that time. It was reallypeaceful down there. It was nice.
MB: Yeah a lot of the neighborhoods remind me of this neighborhood you live in now.24:00
HE: Yeah. It's changed a lot now, but it was really a nice in those days.
MB: And a lot of the homes you can really see at one time they were just mansions.
HE: Yeah it was nice.
MB: Well that is pretty much you know, all the questions that I had unless therewas anything else you wanted to offer?
MB: Okay, all right. Well thanks a lot! I appreciate it!
HE: Hope it helps some, you know, whatever you want to use it for.
MB: Oh yeah! Thank you!