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Marsha Brugman: This is June 13, 1977. This is Marsha Brugman. I'm at Reverend Archie Sanderson's home at 3548 Algonquin Parkway which borders on the Parkland area of Louisville. Mr. Sanderson and I are going to discuss some of his life and some of his remembrances of the Parkland area. Uh, Mr. Sanderson can you tell me where you were born and in what year?

Archie Sanderson: I was born in Cave city, Kentucky in 1925.

MB: And where is Cave City?

AS: Cave City is uh . . . the gateway up to Mammoth Cave, Kentucky.

MB: South of Louisville, isn't it?

AS: Well it will be south yes.

MB: uh . . . in 1925. How many children were there in your family?

AS: There was three.

MB: Did you stay in Cave City for very many years?


AS: I lived there in Cave City until I was eighteen and I went into the service.

MB: What were your parents' names?

AS: Richard Sanderson and Agnes Sanderson.

MB: What were their occupations?

AS: My father was a railroad man and my mother she was a housewife.

MB: Were you the oldest son or how were you in there?

AS: I am the youngest son.

MB: Youngest son . . . three boys?

AS: Two boys and a girl.

MB: You lived in Cave City until you were eighteen?

AS: That's right.

MB: And did you have a high school education or how much education did you have?

AS: [inaudible]. . . I've got at least high school

MB: Were schools segregated in Cave City?

AS: Yes, yes.

MB: So you went to the black high school in the area?

AS: Yes, yes.

MB: When you went into the service which branch of service did you go into?

AS: I was in the navy.

MB: What was your job in the Navy?

AS: I was a seaman first class. A seaman's duties are the ship [inaudible] the 2:00ship. I was in the motor (?) department. [Inaudible]

MB: How long did you stay in the service?

AS: Four years and eight months.

MB: Was it a draft situation then or was it . . . ?AS: Yes.

MB: Oh it was.

AS: World War II.

MB: Did you have any idea of making a career out of it or were you there to serve your time and leave?

AS: Well I was kind of undecided at first until the war was over . . . then it was [inaudible]. It was segregated and ( ) and so I decided to get out.

MB: Was it, the time you were drafted in world war II was it extremely segregated?

AS: Yes it was.

MB: Did they have black companies and white companies and that was it?

AS: Yes. I was one of the first black companies in the great lakes to integrate in 194 . . . . 5. And we were the first company to integrate there.


MB: Up until that time it was segregated jobs, segregated housing . . . .?

AS: Training.

MB: Training too?

AS: Then all black companies, most black companies at that time they wasn't any black seamans, so the black service men was mostly cooks, stewards, and what have you. There wasn't such a thing as a black seaman. So I was one of the first black companies of seamans.


MB: When they integrated your company did they combine them with a white company with the same rank?

AS: That's right.

MB: And you went through the same training?

AS: Right.

MB: And were you also housed together?

AS: Yes we was.

MB: Ate together and everything?

AS: That's right.

MB: Can you remember what did you think about it at the time?

AS: Well I was quite young but I didn't think it was right because all of us was fighting for the same cause, you know. And being reared up in the country, Cave City, Kentucky I hadn't always used to think in a race issue. We played with different children and they didn't feel like it was necessary to separate us, but we didn't go to school together. And then I felt like it was pretty bad, I mean, fighting for the same cause but yet still they want to separate you for 5:00the training. Everybody should be trained equally in order to go and do a successful job. It worked out just fine.

MB: Why do you think they were interested in integrating? Of course I always wonder did they finally realized how much it was costing to keep the troops separate, is that what made them do it or was it somebody's moral value to say, "Hey wait a minute. This isn't right!"

AS: Well you see I think the world is set up on a time table and God has his way of intervening in different situations. There comes a time when God gets tired of certain things happening to people and he intervenes in things but people are not able to understand. And really it's not supposed to happen like this but you 6:00see God gets tired of people going against his will. He made man, like this one. He didn't take one man to be over another man; he wanted them all to be equal. So I think it was in the path of God that the situation happened such as now, back then.

MB: So you think it was in that climate that change came about?

AS: Yes.

MB: So you were in the service about four and a half year?

AS: Four years.

MB: Then where did you go when you left the service? Did you go back to Cave City?

AS: I went back to Cave City for a short while. I was there for about three or four months maybe and I decided I wanted a trade so I applied to the Veteran's Administration. I was always interested in building, using my hands and 7:00bricklayer or a block layer, whatever you might call it, construction work. So I went to the Veteran's Administration and I asked about entering trade school. And they politely told me they didn't have a school available in the state of Kentucky for a black man as a bricklayer. So I was determined to get some kind of a trade. I knew there would come a time when you would have to have a trade because labor wasn't anything and machines would soon take over, automation. So I was determined to get a trade, so I went to training at Central High School and I was taking automotive training there.


MB: Was that the only place in Kentucky at the time that had offered that to blacks; offered any type of trade training or anything like that?

AS: Well Paducah, Kentucky.

MB: That was in high school though.

AS: Yeah, that was in high school.

MB: Now I wanted to ask you a question about the Veterans' Administration, course I know, you know, the GI benefits now are just tremendous, pay for college, pay living expenses, all of that. After World War II were all soldiers supposedly entitled to some kind of educational benefits and this kind of thing?

AS: Sure.

MB: So you as a black man and as having served in the armed services you were entitled to it?

AS: Sure.

MB: But there was nothing for your race here in the state.

AS: right, right.

MB: And they didn't make any offers to send you to any state where there was?

AS: No. no. He said that was out of the question.

MB: So it was up to you?

AS: It was up to me if I wanted a trade to get out and look for it. So that's 9:00what I did.

MB: So a lot of veteran's benefits went right down the drain then in that kind of situation. So what happened at Central?

AS: I went to Central for four and a half years (inaudible) and I finished my training there as an automotive mechanic and then I went to work for the government over in Jeffersonville, Indiana over at the quartermaster depot. And I stayed there until they moved out of state. They went to Virginia; they moved to (inaudible). So I let there and I . . . I think I went into business for myself. I opened a garage with my son. I was self-employed.

MB: When you went over there to work was there any problem with , as long as you 10:00had the trade and the training, was there any problem with you being hired because you were black or were they glad to have someone who had the training?

AS: Well they were glad to have someone who had the training. There wasn't too much separation, I mean between the races of people over there because they had ( ) to accept the person for what they was qualified to do.

MB: About how many years did you work there then before you went into business for yourself?

AS: I worked there for about four years I think, three of four ears.

MB: Now is that what you spent the rest of your time doing, your business on your own?

AS: No, after the business wasn't successful I worked for a trucking company. Then on up through the years I've been working in heavy equipment and trucking.


MB: What year were you married then?

AS: Uh, we married in . . . let's see.

MB: This always gets people! [Laughter] Anniversary dates and such!!

AS: My first marriage was '47 I think.

MB: Right after the war.

AS: '47,'48, I believe it was '48. And I was divorced and then I met this lady and we married. What year was that? (Directed question to someone else in the room)

MB: [Laughter]

AS: '61?

Another voice: '61, the first one.

AS: "61, first. Then we . . .

MB: See you got out of that gracefully! [Laughter]

AS: Then we . . .

Another voice: we remarried . . .

AS: We married, we divorced and then we married again in '68.


MB: Oh my goodness!

AS: So we've been married now I guess about nine years.

MB: Oh that's great. How many children do you have?

AS: I have one at home, we do. [Long pause]

MB: One here at home. Boy or girl?

AS: Boy. (Inaudible)

MB: Now you're a minister now.

AS: right.

MB: Centennial Baptist?

AS: Right.

MB: How many years have you been a minister?

AS: I think this is my second or third year . . . third year.

MB: What made you turn to the ministry? Had it been a lifetime ambition?

AS: Well, see I didn't turn to the ministry. It's something, I mean, if you're 13:00not inspired by God you wouldn't understand it, but I mean I'm going to tell you the reason though. You see there's something about God and his chosen people and he choose people to preach his gospel and when he choose those people they would lower themselves. So I was chosen by God to be his minister. It wasn't my choice but it was his choice. And since he has work for me to do well I'm going to have to go on and do it, you know. My understanding is since I've been back in school, my understanding is that a lot of them are taking ministry in school, they're just going to be in it and I think that's wrong. I think you have to be 14:00chosen by God and then when God choose you to be his minister, to be one of his disciples (inaudible). The world is in a terrible shape so he needs spokesmen to speak for him and if you let him he will speak through you. So I am one of his spokesmen.

MB: I know. I guess the reason I asked what made you turn to the ministry is I know people who choose it as a career like you do when you go to school to be an English teacher. And that's you know, obviously you've had other careers along 15:00the way. So now are you balancing that with your other jobs to maintain yourself in life or how are you working that schedule?

AS: Well it's pretty rough sometimes but anything that you will have success in life with you have to work for it. So I have been working at my job, my regular job, and then school. Trying to take care of the chores around the house and so forth and do the things a minister should be doing. So it's a little rough sometimes.

MB: I was going to say!

AS: I pray that he will give me the necessary strength that I will be able to continue. I don't feel it now because I have to, I really have to get sincere 16:00and ask him to give me some extra strength, you know, to really be able to do the things.

MB: No doubt about it! You're busy. Are you an associate pastor at Centennial Baptist?

AS: Yes, I am associate minister.

MB: Associate minister. Now is that a predominantly black church or is that an integrated church?

AS: Well it's integrated in one sense. We have interracial marriages there, couples, and they have children and they go there. And the church doors are open to the whole world if they want to come.

MB: What address? Where is that church located?

AS: Uh, it's on Oak Street. Let's see, its1641 I believe.

MB: I'm pretty sure I've passed by there because I sure recognize the name. Okay, how many years have you lived in this home here on Algonquin Parkway?


AS: We have been here . . . is it ten? '68.

MB: So almost ten years in this house. Where did you live prior to this address?

AS: Thirtieth Street.

MB: Since the main topic, you know, of our interviews is not only the people's personal history but their remembrances of the Parkland area. You know, how its grown? What the changes have been? I wanted to ask you, you know, some questions along that line. A lot of people that I've been interviewing have been right around the area of 28th and Dumesnil where the Parkland branch library is, where that little shopping area is. What can you remember of the parkland area and that little area as well of the greater Parkland area over the years? What kind of changes have you seen?

AS: Well, back in the years. I remember there being a real nice little 18:00settlement there, shopping in there where people wouldn't have to drive across town to shop. And the last eight, maybe ten years the area's gone down in there, Dumesnil, it really gone down. During the '67 riot thing I think it was, there was burning . . . it just upset everything and people got scared and frightened and they didn't want to take a chance of their business being robbed. It just really had, it really went down. People want their money but they don't want to work for it. They feel like, business people, they would have the loss and pay 19:00the gain . . . . So my way of seeing it is those people who have stayed there and have tried to endure and really have the guts to stay there, you really got to have desire to do a business if you were staying in here. But it could be better; it could be worked back up if more people would be interested in building it back up. It was a nice little settlement and if people would patronize the business people in the area. Also if the . . . uh if they would put the right type of business in the area. But those buildings are old. there's not much you could do with them. I think they have served their purpose.


MB: Have you ever heard of Frank Hobich? He's the patrolman there who walks the street?

AS: Yes, yes, he's a fine person!

MB: Oh he is wonderful!

AS: Yes he is!

MB: I was visiting with him yesterday and he was reminiscing about what some of the stores used to be and how practical they were, you know, good hardware stores, and dry cleaners, and there was a bank there and there were good grocery stores. People didn't have to travel all over town, they could get whatever they needed right there. But he said one thing he felt that it made it real bad is that the insurance companies got scared after the riots and you know I hesitate to call them riots because I don't know how bad they were, everybody just balloons . . . .

AS: They was rough!

MB: Yes, but sometimes I'm kind of skeptical about and I think the insurance companies attempted to cash in, Frank felt that too, and they just charged people monumental rates that they couldn't get insurance anymore!

AS: Well you see insurance, of course a person has to have insurance if you have 21:00a business, you know, of any size. And insurance was getting outrageous. I mean you take away, you pay say maybe $500, $600 down here a month for insurance; uptown you pay say $300 or $200, you see and situation like that where people with small businesses were not able to pay that type of insurance but because they wind up just being insurance rich.

MB: Yea and nothing else.

AS: And nothing else. So I agree with him because that's one reason why a lot of the small businesses leave out of here. And the other thing is they didn't have enough protection in the area.

MB: That's what he said too.

AS: That's right,

MB: He's pretty much one man by himself.

AS: So everyone know him and he's been in the area for years and he knows 22:00practically everybody over in that area, and he seems to get along with those people. But you know there is trouble with this city. The young people can commit crimes, older ones, either one, and you're taken downtown and then ( ) cut him loose. This house I had on Thirtieth Street these kids came over from Portland and tore the house, just tore the house all to pieces. All the plumbing, electrical fixtures, tore them out of the house. And the police caught them in the act and took them down to jail. Then notified me to come down and prosecute them. I go down and prosecute them. [cough] Excuse me. And . . . then 23:00when they found out about them, found out that they had no jobs, nothing they could depend on for livelihood. So they went to legal aid and got a lawyer. He asked me, he said, "They haven't got any money, they can't pay for you it. So why don't you let the jury give them about thirty days in jail and let them go?" I got $1700 in damages.

MB: And they weren't selling it or anything? They were just ripping it out and tearing it up?

AS: No they tearing the fixtures out and taking down to the junkyard and selling it!

MB: They were selling it.

AS: So, I said no I can't do that. So went to another court and they got ninety days in jail and that's all.

MB: And that's it? Nobody's paying you back anything?


AS: no. Then the city write me a letter telling me to fix the house up or else they are going to tear it down. I said, "you go ahead and tear it down. Do what you want to." So this is the reason why you have problems see, your law enforcement uptown is not strict enough.

MB: So the people end up losing.

AS: That's right, that's right! Say for instance these same people go around robbing those businesses over in that area. [Inaudible] And if they got any money they get right out!

MB: Well you certainly see some reasons for people getting out, leaving their businesses behind. Small businesses have such a hard time making a go of it under the best circumstances, there's no doubt about it. Well, uhm, over the years what can you remember about recreational activities here in this end of town? What did people do for recreation? What kind of parks and facilities were there?


AS: Well . . . the uh . . . park down the street . . . .MB: Chickasaw?

AS: Chickasaw Park was about the only park the black people had. And most all of the black people In Jefferson county would come to this Chickasaw park. Well over the years the city finally opened up to where you could go to any park. Shawnee Park became available to all races of people, but back in the years it was really miserable. All the black people of the city of Louisville trying to go to this one park and tried to enjoy themselves, there was no way!


MB: It's a small park anyways from what I've seen!

AS: And then there are other parks right down the street but you can't go there because you are black! Parks in other different parts of the city you can't go to those other parks because you are black! And that is the most silly thing I've ever heard of! Separation and whereby if the parks had been open to all people they would have had better parks. Now back in the years . . . Chickasaw ( ). It's just a little spot down there now. If you go down there now it's just not safe to go in there at night [inaudible] . . . Over the years they know what 27:00they want to do, they make a little money and get out of there!

MB: But for many years that was the only park if you wanted to take the family for a picnic or anything.

AS: That was the only park! And whatever sports you participate in was there and you had to make out the best way you could.

MB: Whatever equipment you had yourself.

AS: That's right.

MB: What about the churches say twenty, thirty years ago in this area, what kind of a part did they play in the community?

AS: Well churches . . . uh . . . seems to me they always want to sit inside their four walls and have church. And church is not built upon that. Scripture 28:00says, "Go ye therefore in all world and spread the gospel." I think the churches have fallen, they made a mistake when they didn't take an active part in integration of trying to bring people together. That has been my way, that has been the way I've been thinking for years. Why did the church stay out of integration? They should have been trying to bring the people, show them the relationship towards one another. Try to make them be able to understand one another as another person.

MB: Instead of just concentrating on religious activities.

AS: Sure! Just religious activities. See we, we, we Christian people, we haven't 29:00been trained ( ) and the only thing that Christian people have been doing across the years is just saying I went to church for such and such a time. He didn't go out and visit his white brother and invite his white brother to the church. He didn't go out and see if he could find his white brother not saved, you see. And they wasn't any involved in the community at the time that surrounded us as a whole. I would say it was a big concern for people. Christianity should reach further than inside the walls, it should go out and hit the highways, and reach 30:00out to the ( ) that need help. There are people living in places; I don't know whether you remember the incident over there around the 2300 block of Chestnut. There was a family starving to death and there was a church in the 2400 block of Chestnut. There was another at 22nd, 2200 block of Walnut. All around that area and people sitting there starving, no food, no clothing, no heat and there a church siting inside the walls not thinking about the person on the outside.