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Marsha Bruggman: This is Friday, June 17th, 1977. This is Marsha Bruggman. This morning, we're interviewing Mrs. Margaret Ovitie, who is a resident of the Parkland area. We're continuing our project on the oral history of the Parkland residents and the Parkland area. Mrs. Ovitie, can you tell me what year you were born?

Margaret Ovitie: Mm-hmm, 1907.

MB: And what was the date of the birth?

MO: May 17th.

MB: Where were you born.

MO: At Goshen, Kentucky.

MB: Oh, I know where Goshen is. How did it happen that your family was living in Goshen?

MO: Well, they were formerly from Nelson County and they moved there. They -- my father worked on a farm there, so he moved there. And that was -- the rest of the family was born in Nelson County. I was born in Goshen.

MB: And what -- was your father a tenant farmer or an overseer or what?

MO: Oh, no, he just worked on the farm. I guess you would call him a... I don't --

MB: A farmhand, where they --

MO: A farmhand, that would be the name, I imagine. And of course, he'd just tend 1:00to the cattle and that sort of thing and worked the garden. And he loved to landscape and -- the yards and do that sort of thing.

MB: Was that his career all his life?

MO: No, he chauffeured for years for the Ballard family. He was in that family for about 50 years.

MB: Oh, you're kidding. So was this just the early part of his life that he was a farmhand?

MO: Yes, we were only there until I was 19 months old. Then we moved to Glenview. That was -- then he worked for a family there named [Minigroves?]. And then, later on, he went into the Ballard family as a chauffeur.

MB: And actually drove their car and everything?

MO: He drove through, I think he said, 36 states with the Ballards in Canada and Nova Scotia. And he went to Florida with them every year. And...

MB: So at the point that you were born, he was a relatively young man and he was working as a farmhand?

MO: Farm -- mm-hmm.

MB: Then what was your mother's occupation? Did -- or did she have a career?


MO: She did -- at home -- she stayed at home until, you know, we were a good size. And then she worked as a maid for different wealthy families around in that area.

MB: How many children were there in your family?

MO: There were two, my sister and I. Had a sist-- one sister, older, named [Sal?].

MB: OK, so then, when you left Goshen, what was the town again that you -- where'd you go?

MO: Glenview.

MB: Glenview.

MO: Just this side -- about four miles this side of Harris Creek. And we lived there until I was 10. It --

MB: And what school did you attend there? Do you remember?

MO: Well, we came [in the city?] to school. We always came to city school. I went to Booker T. Washington and Benjamin Banneker. And --

MB: Schools were -- were the schools segregated even in those small communities?

MO: Oh, yes, yes. There was no high school or anything for us to go through. We had to come in town. We -- in the sense, we've always been bussed, when you got to high school. (laughter)

MB: Yeah, right. Well, of course, you stayed in that area until you were 10, but 3:00did neighboring black children, did they come to stay with relatives or board out or something and come to Louisville to go to the high school?

MO: Yes, they usually boarded in town, in the winter months. And we stayed in town. We boarded in town. That's the reason I say I'm just the same as a Louisvillian because I always -- that wasn't very far from the city anyway and all the winter we was in town. And then we'd go back to country in the summertime.

MB: Did you usually stay with relatives or did you find a family that you actually rented a room from?

MO: No, I stayed with a minister and his wife from -- they had been mission-- 20 -- missionaries for 20 years in Africa. And we stayed -- in the winter, we stayed with them. And then we'd go back to the parents in the summer.

MB: Was an education that important to your parents? Was it very important?

MO: It was to my father. My mother didn't seem to, well, to realize the value of an education but my father did. And he was very anxious for us to have an education.

MB: Had he had much of an opportunity for an education himself?


MO: No, he had only gone to the fifth grade when he said the school he went to -- well, he knew as much as the teachers because the teachers only had, practically, just about an eighth grade education. And he had been through the books and things they had there, and then they took him out and put him to work at 12 years old. And he always wanted an education. He studied, he read, and lots of people that had education [needs doctors?] just before he died, told him how interesting he was to talk to.

MB: So he was obviously a man who quested for an education all his life?

MO: All his life.

MB: So he had hopes of you going to high school and maybe even further than that?

MO: Mm-hmm. Yes, he wanted us -- but, see, my mother and father divorced when -- 17 --

after 17 years of marriage. Then, of course, I stayed with my mother but she didn't care about education. That wasn't important to her; she wanted to get out and get a job. (laughter)


MB: So when you were 10, you moved into the Louisville community --

MO: Yes.

MB: -- with your mom?

MO: Uh-huh. Well, my father and mother. See, I was 12 when they were divorced and we moved to 36th and Dumesnil. And we -- my mother and I stayed there six years.

MB: So that made you moving into Louisville and into the Parkland area in what year?

MO: Around -- it was, let's see. I was 10 in 1917. It was between '17 and '18, so almost 1918.

MB: Wow, then you're an old-time Parkland resident. There's no doubt about that. (laughter) OK, so your parents weren't divorced at that point. The whole family -- family of four --

MO: No, the family --

MB: -- moved here?

MO: -- moved -- uh-huh.

MB: OK, what school did you attend, then, when you came to --

MO: We attended Parkland County School. And my father never did want us to go to county schools. At that time, they were poor schools. He wanted us to go to the city school. So all --


MB: Where was the Parkland County School located? Do you remember?

MO: At 36th and Southern.

MB: And that was considered County at that time?

MO: At the time. Well, our house, we was at 36th and Dumesnil there, but the alley back of us was a dividing line between the city and the county. So that put us -- we was [sic] just across the alley with a school -- a city school from us. But it only went to the fourth grade so my father paid for me to go (inaudible) school. And that was at 16th and Saint Catherine.

MB: Do you have any idea what he paid at that time?

MO: I think it was $10 a month, I believe.

MB: Which is quite a lot of money.

MO: I think that's what it was, $10. But all the education -- I finished high school and all the education I had, my parents paid. But that one year, I went to Parkland County. That was the only one that --

MB: The first year that you went to --

MO: That was the only one they didn't pay tuition. The rest of it they had -- my father paid tuition. He... And then, when I got to be -- well, it was one more 7:00year, because then I got to be a junior in high school. I think they passed a law that the county children could come into the city if -- to high school since there was no high school in their vicinity. And so the la-- just two years that I didn't have to pay. The rest of it, they paid for.

MB: So did you finish out grade school, then, at Phyllis Wheatley?

MO: I finished grade school (overlapping dialogue; inaudible) --

MB: And then, did you go -- where did you go?

MO: To Central.

MB: Central.

MO: Central High School.

MB: So now what graduating class were you in Central?

MO: Twenty-six. We celebrated our 50th anniversary last year.

MB: Did you go to the reunion?

MO: No, I fell and broke my arm. [Didn't have?] to go, but I did get to see -- quite a few of them came by to see me.

MB: Nineteen twenty-six.

MO: Mm-hmm.

MB: So did you take a bus, a trolley? What -- how did you get to school?

MO: No, we took the city street car. Street cars in the city. That's --

MB: And you went every day like that to get to school?

MO: Oh, yes.

MB: Do you remember how much you had to pay for the street car?


MO: I guess the tokens were -- for schoolchildren -- were two for a nickel. I think that's what it was because the straight fare was a nickel. And I think we got two for a nickel.

MB: Do you remember -- have any idea what your books cost? I would imagine you had to buy your books even though the school was (overlapping dialogue; inaudible)?

MO: No, I don't remember what my books cost too much, because as I say, my father was very anxious for us to get an education and [this rude?], he didn't wait for our first day of school to get our slips to get books. He called the board of education about a month before, so we'd -- and we was the only kids who went to school with our books on the first day. The first day, we went into school with our books because he was anxious for us to have an education.

MB: Isn't that something. Even after your parents divorced, did he continue that interest that way and motivating you, or...?

MO: No, not too much, because my mother wasn't willing to work with him too good, and he would always say, "I'm so sorry you didn't get a college 9:00education." That's about [the most he would say?].

MB: But you were very much aware that he was anxious and that it was important.

MO: Oh, yes, my sister -- oh, we had -- he sat down with us and he would tell me afterwards that he was learning, too. He insisted on helping us get our lessons. We had to recite our lessons to him every day. And he didn't -- he had never had factions or decimals and that sort of thing, and he learned those from my sister. He told her -- he told me after I was grown. He said, "I never would have known those things if I hadn't sat down with you all. But I was learning the whole time. You all thought I was just making you get -- which I did want you to get your lessons, but I was learning" --

MB: He was learning in the process.

MO: --"I was learning too." And then, by us going to the city school, where there were better qualified teachers, because the teachers that they had in the county, they'd learn them the fundamentals. And some of them couldn't even read good [sic]. Some of them -- I guess, most of the teachers he went to didn't know anything about fractions, decimals, anything like that. They just learned the reading, writing, and spelling, and that sort of thing. But what they taught 10:00him, they taught him well.

MB: And did that ever make you sad in later years, to think of how obvious it was that your father wanted an education so badly?

MO: Yes, it did. And -- but I -- shortly before he died, I said to him -- he would say, "Oh, wow, look at the people now that have education. I could have had an education," he'd keep saying. I'd say, "No, I don't think you could have." Because, I said, "you'd done the best you could with what you had to do with." I say, there's scholarships, there's all those things now.

MB: None of those existed then.

MO: I said, "That you know anything -- we didn't know anything." I said, when I went to high school, I didn't know anything about -- nobody told me anything about those things. I didn't know anything about -- I probably would have had a college education, but I don't -- I didn't know anything about those things. And I said, "We need a certain amount of guidance, as far as education is concerned." And I said, "Papa, you didn't have that guidance." I said, "But you learned, you've done all you could, you tried to correct your English the best you could, and you talked to a lot of people that would think you were a 11:00well-educated man."

MB: He was educated in other ways, obviously, with all his travels and everything else.

MO: By his travels. Now, when I took him to the hospital when he died, the young doctor said, "Oh, he's been a patient here before." I said, "yes." He said, "You know, I like (inaudible) with your daddy." I said, "You did? Why?" He said, "He was so interesting to talk to. He had something to talk about." And he said, "I just forgot I was working." He said, "My supervisor had to call me." (laughter)

MB: That's something.

MO: But most people that talked to him... Then, let's see, what is his name? Mr... I believe it was Ballard Thruston. Because he would have been a Ballard, but he paid so much money. The Thurston name was dying out and the family paid him so much money to have his name changed from Ballard to Thurston.

MB: And that was the Ballard family that your family first [worked for?]?


MO: In the family, one of these men -- yes, he was related to him; he didn't work for this particular man. But he was something in the -- was it the Filson Club?

MB: Oh, yeah, right.

MO: And he knew my daddy loved history. And he talked quite a bit. He said when he would go -- when they were having parties -- and this man would come out, get in the car, and talk to him most of the time. And he gave him a lot of books and things. He never did marry. He said -- he told my dad he chatted the family because he got $50,000 for changing his name.

MB: You're kidding. Just to keep that Thurston name going?

MO: Just the name going. And he never married. He didn't have any kids. (laughter)

MB: Now, that Ballard family your father worked for, for 50 years?

MO: Mm-hmm. He knew the congressman Thruston Morton, and then that -- he worked for his father and his grandmother. He worked for four generations of them.

MB: Goodness.

MO: He worked for Mrs. Ballard. He worked for Thurston Morton's sister, Ms. 13:00[Norton?]. And then he worked for their mother and father, Dr. Morton. Worked for Dr. Morton, which was -- his wife was a Ballard. But he worked in the (overlapping dialogue; inaudible) --

MB: All of the -- he worked for them, then, all through 1920s, '30s, on through?

MO: Oh, yes, and up until he retired for them. And Ms. -- he was working for Ms. Morton. No, Ms. Norton. She's in [WABE?] when he retired.

MB: Did he ever say anything about the conditions, you know -- I mean, obviously he must have been fairly devoted to the family but did he ever say anything about the type of job that he did? Was he proud of what he did for the family?

MO: He was very, very, very proud of what he'd done. Because he was a man that liked to look nice and they bought his uniforms and thing. And he had trouble with his feet; they bought him special shoes and things for it.

MB: So they obviously appreciated his service as well.


MO: And they kept him -- well, most of -- [the very rich men?] done that for the chauffeurs and things, but Mrs. Ballard, she was very good to her servants. Their children -- most of their children, she educated. And at the time of her death, she had 17 servants. She wouldn't do away with -- they were all -- been with her for years and old, and her grandchildren wanted her to do away with the house and go into an apartment somewhere or in a hotel. But she said she considered them her children.

MB: And she maintained that house and took care of --

MO: She maintained that house and everything until they died. Until she died, rather. Of course, if they were sick or something, she would pay. Probably they would pay the doctor and she would pay for x-rays and all that sort of thing. And I think about once or twice a year, they had to go see about their teeth and so forth. And Mrs. --

MB: So there were obviously some good benefits about working for that kind of family?


MO: Yes, they didn't raise them -- she didn't believe in raising her servants. So years after, when most chauffeurs and things were making $50 a week, he was still making $25. But there were these other benefits. And when he needed a new car or something like that, why, she would tell him to go see about him. And she didn't pay for the car, but she would help him on it. And then, if he said that his bills were getting too much for him or something, she'd tell him, "Put them down," and she'd pay them off. And he could pay her so much. Well, he said maybe he'd get $300 from him and he'd pay about $150. And she'd tell him, "You can't count. You're through paying the bill. You've been through paying it a long time." And he said, "No, I have it down on paper. It's right here, Ms. Ballard -- no, Ms. Norton." And they would say, "No, it's finished." She said, "You give me that paper and I'll mark it paid." But...

MB: And you just don't hear stories about -- I mean, that just must have really 16:00been some family because so many times, people remember their parents saying, you know, the indignities that they had to put up with and, you know, their service was never appreciated, it was poor pay, and that's marvelous. You could see why he stayed 50 years.

MO: Yes, well, and it seemed like everywhere he worked they were very nice to him. And I guess he appreciated them quite a bit, because his father, at the time -- Father [Becks?] -- they

had work where they didn't get any money at all. See, they were --

MB: Plus the benefits.

MO: -- sharecroppers, I guess. And they would say -- at the end of the year, the man would say, "You owe me." Plus they would run out of food, meat, and so forth. They'd have to get it from him. But they never got any money.

MB: Anything else. Or any respect to go along with it.

MO: Any respect. And he said when he was 12 years old, first year he worked for the (inaudible), at the end of the year, he call him in at Christmastime and he'd name all his men -- white and black -- that worked for him. And he'd tell 17:00them, "You owe me so much. You owe me."

MB: At the end of the year?

MO: At the end of the year. See, that way they went from one year to the other, just owing.

MB: They could never get away.

MO: They could never get away. The only money they had was money their wives made taking in washing and ironing and that sort of thing. That was the only money they had. That's [with washing?] their clothes and so forth, they go that way. But my father said he can't pay -- and he could read and write; these other men -- white or black -- couldn't read and write. And he kept his in a little book. And he told -- he says, "Mr. [Orvall?], you owe me $200. You made a mistake. You owe me $250." And that was a year's work. And he said, "No, uh-uh." And his father spoke up and said, "You don't sass a white man," and he took him home and whipped him until the blood ran out of him for sassing a white man.

MB: And that was the first year after he left school, that he went into work?

MO: After he left school. He said he got up, he got his daddy's shotgun, he 18:00demanded -- he said when he got back, they were all in the bed. He slipped out. Because that man had money stacked all on the table from these [crops county?]. He got his daddy's shotgun and he told him, "I am not going to do like my daddy and these other men do. I am not going to work for nothing. If you promise me you're going to pay me, you're going to pay me. And this is what you owe me. I'm going to kill you tonight or you'll kill me."

MB: And he was 12 years old when he did this?

MO: He was 12. But he was a big man and a big child. He said the man says, "Wait a minute, [Lee?], wait a minute. I think I made a mistake." And he gave him $250. That was the first money that had ever been taken home. And then, the next year, daddy wanted to keep books for him. (laughter) He said he kept books for all those men. Those -- all of them got money after that.

MB: And that was how they got cheated, they didn't know how to keep their own records?

MO: See, they couldn't read and write. They couldn't keep no records. And of course, prices fluctuate during the year. And if they got butter at $0.05 a pound or $0.10, if (inaudible) in a year, that's what he would charge them. But 19:00my daddy said --

MB: For the whole year?

MO: Whole year, uh-huh. And he said, if he got butter for his mother or what he got -- see, he put it down at the price it was at that time, because he could read the newspapers, he could read what the price was.

MB: No wonder they didn't get -- want people to get educated for so long.

MO: Well, no, they didn't want them to get --

MB: Shoot. (laughter)

MO: -- educated.

MB: That's the first time I ever figured out exactly how that whole system all worked.

MO: Yes, that's why. And a lot of people I know would say, I don't know why so many of

them stayed in the South. Well, they came here from a very warm country, to start off with. And they told them -- they wanted to keep them on the farms and things. They told them North was bitter cold and they'd freeze to death. But if you came from a warm climate and you're used to being warm, you're not going to venture. And another thing, they -- a lot of them they told that they were coming here, it was going to be so much better. All of them weren't just captured and taken. My great-grandmother, all of them -- I knew my -- I knew all 20:00of them (inaudible) but at one time, five generations of them was [sic] in the house, back to Africa.

MB: Wow, was that when you were a child or earlier?

MO: No, no, I wasn't in there. My sister was the smallest one. She was two months old when they -- the oldest one didn't [die?], the next one to it, and the one next to her died before the oldest one. But the oldest one was from Africa.

MB: And then the original slave that they brought over here?

MO: Yes, my grand--

MB: Five generations.

MO: -- my grandmother said she was -- evidently, she must have been -- from what they tell me -- around something like an [embassy?] or something. She talked about sewing for the fine ladies. She sewed. And I've seen dresses and things that she made were beaded and just beautiful. But wherever she came from -- so the way she said they brought her here, they told her in America they would pay her so much more for her work. But when she got here, they made a slave out of her.

MB: So they actually talked her into coming over there?

MO: They talked to her --

MB: Telling her she was going to come here to be doing sewing and that?

MO: Sewing and she was going to -- she did sew; that's all she did. They said 21:00that's --

MB: Well, that part of it was true, then. (laughter)

MO: That part was. Sew because she could sew. These fine little dresses with 10, 11 yards. Evening gowns and party dresses and things that they had given her, you know, when they got old. And my grandmother had them. We saw them as a child. So at least I've had --

MB: So she was probably --

MO: Around --

MB: -- a quite respected person in her community in Africa?

MO: Yeah.

MB: And then came over here thinking she was just going to further her career and everything, and became a slave.

MO: And became a slave.

MB: Did your -- now, was that on your mother's side of the family or father's?

MO: This was my mother's.

MB: Your mother's. So when there were five generations in the house, did your

mother ever talk much abut --

MO: My mother never talked much about it. Her mother did, though. Because this was -- it was on my grandfather's side, but my mother -- my grandmother was around her a lot. See, when she married into the family she was young. And she talked quite a bit about it. And she would tell us about this one that came from Africa.


MB: And what, the stories that she had told?

MO: Uh-huh. And [I don't know?] where she was trying to say or it was actually a place in Africa, she talked -- I remember her saying she talked about [Action?], that she was from [Action?]. And now, whether Action was a place in Africa --

MB: Yeah, or a tribe or a village or what.

MO: -- or whether she was trying to say the word Africa, I don't know. So I never did know what that meant. But she talked about -- Grandma said she would always talk about the fine ladies that she was around.

MB: Was she ever -- was she quite bitter? Did they remember her talking about how she was (overlapping dialogue; inaudible) --

MO: Yeah, she would cry. They said she cried all the time. That she would get to -- she couldn't talk about it without crying. She'd get to crying and she'd tell them so much about. And she'd -- [so this would?] continue to stay on her mind (inaudible) and talked --

MB: The fact that she had been cheated or what she had left behind there, her country and so on?

MO: Yes, what she had left behind, the fact that she had been fooled, I think, the way I would see it.

MB: How humiliating it would be.

MO: So I --

MB: What was her name? Did you remember? Anyone ever say what her name was?


MO: Yes, I think her name was... Jenny. I think her name was Jenny.

MB: Jenny?

MO: Yeah, Jenny. I get them -- my grandmother told me all of those names but I [kind of get?] which come first mixed up.

MB: Yeah, when there's so many generations like that living in memory.

MO: Yeah, so one was [Maren?], one was Belle, and Jenny, and [Mariah?]. And of course, my sister was [Lula Mae?]. She made the fifth generation, yeah. I know my grandfather came in there; there was six of them at one time. Because it -- for two months, it was six generations.

MB: And then which one died? Not Jenny, the oldest?

MO: Not the oldest, the two next to her died. And then she died.

MB: How old was she at the time that she died?

MO: Well, see, they wouldn't have any idea how old she was, because even to my grandfather, they didn't know exactly how old he was, you know, just estimate his age.

MB: Now, were you born at that time, or...?

MO: No, my sister.


MB: Your sister was.

MO: She was the older than I was.

MB: Isn't that something?

MO: I didn't -- I think about two of them were living in my lifetime but I didn't see them because we lived here. In that time, poor people couldn't communicate, even though it was just to Nelson County from [Olden?] County.

MB: It's a long ways.

MO: It's a long ways.

MB: Yeah. (laughter) Why do you think your mother didn't talk about it as much? Do you think that she was bitter or you think she just didn't think it was that important and she was worried about serving today?

MO: I think she was thinking more about her survival than she was, you know, about all that. They talked about it. It didn't interest her, some way or another. And I think my grandmother talked to my father -- which would have been her son-in-law -- about it more than she did her, because he seemed to be interested in it. But on his side of the family, I didn't know that far back. Although he had a grandmother -- I did see her -- that lived to be 106.


MB: Oh, my goodness.

MO: She retired at 100.

MB: Retired at 100? What was she doing? (laughter)

MO: Looking for farmhands.

MB: You're kidding?

MO: Walked a mile to work and a mile back every day.

MB: Why'd she decide to retire? (laughter)

MO: Well, and she danced until she was 90. They said she would go to a dance. Because, you see, all the other men her age were dead. And if they weren't, they wasn't dancing. They were too --

MB: Yeah, I was going to say.

MO: -- they weren't able to dance. And so she would tell you -- her name was Martha -- "you've got to dance with Aunt Martha before you leave here. Everybody has to dance." The first time I saw her -- my grandmother told us this -- "Mammy, come over and see Lee's children." That was her son. And she says, "I raised 14 of my own. I've got no time to be talking to no children. I'm going to the dance." (laughter)

MB: Oh, heavens.

MO: See, the dance was a picnic blanket. They'd dance at that picnic and she'd stay all day when they had that picnic.

MB: And all the younger fellows would have to dance with her?


MO: And she'd tell them when she got there, "Well, come on, get it over with, because you've got to dance with me."

MB: Bless her heart. Oh, my.

MO: And she stayed [just about that size?] big around all her life. Never had nobody to keep house for her or anything. They said her little house was spotless and she died laying on top of a white spread.

MB: So she stayed and took care of her own house until the day she died?

MO: She [had no groom house?], she never had nobody to help her with anything. They found her. Neighbors would look out for her, you know, see if she was doing; she was old like she was.

MB: Now, that was your daddy's --

MO: That's my daddy's --

MB: -- mother?

MO: -- grandmother.

MB: Wow. So you were the --

MO: (overlapping dialogue; inaudible) my family, there was longevity.

MB: Yeah, I was going to say, you've got a long time to go then.

MO: This doctor was checking my history and he was asking me about my ancestors. And I was telling him about these old. He says, "Oh, you might even never die." (laughter) He said, "Oh, I was joking with you."

MB: You'll probably outlive him and his practice.

MO: (overlapping dialogue; inaudible) he says, "I was joking with you." But that is true that longevity runs in families.


MB: Yeah. Oh, my goodness. That's unbelievable. So now, did you ever know her or you heard stories about her?

MO: I just heard stories. But I was just saying, I met her twice: that day and one other day. So she didn't take up too much time with children.

MB: And the rest of your father's family, then, was in Nelson County and it was just kind of hard to get to them, to know them?

MO: My grandmother -- his mother -- I knew her well. But the rest of his grandparents. And I knew my grandfather; I knew him well -- his mother and father -- because they visited us and we went to visit them about once a year.

MB: You know, even earlier in this tape, I don't think I asked you what your parents' names were or anything.

MO: Lee Firman and [Lina?] Firman.

MB: Furman. How did you spell that?

MO: F-I-R-M-A-N. That's the way my father spelled it, but I believe he was really a Foreman. You know, going to school, as I say, those teachers didn't 28:00have much education. And they spelled it the way they thought it was supposed to spell.

MB: Sounded it out.

MO: But I understand that his fore parents -- the ones they were freed from -- were Foremans -- F-O-R-E-M-A-N. And there is a lot of Foremans around Nelson County, I think, white Foremans (inaudible).

MB: The family they worked for, then, at the time they were free, they just assumed that name?

MO: Name, yes. And of course, when they married, if they decided -- which, if they worked for two different families -- whichever family decided to take the man or the woman, they both become the [name?], they gave them that name. Because I think my grandmother said it was with the [Kroons?] family. But he married my grandmother, which was Firmans. So he had to take the name of Firman. But up until he was married, he was a Kroon.

MB: It would be a shame to lose all that, to lose track of the names and everything else.

MO: So then, you really don't know who you came from.

MB: Yeah, well, heavens only knows how many relatives you might have out there. 29:00Well, yeah, and I don't think I've ever heard the name spelled the way. That makes a lot of sense that it probably was Foreman or something real close to it.

MO: Well, I went to school with Furmans who wasn't related to me but they spelled theirs F-E-R-M-A-N. F-U-R-M-A-N.

MB: Yeah, I've seen it F-U-R.

MO: And I don't think Firman would hardly have been spelled F-I-R-M-A-N. I think that was a teacher that taught him to spell it that way.

MB: Isn't that something? You wonder how many people that type of thing happened to --

MO: Oh, a lot.

MB: -- that lost relatives for the rest of their lives. Or the chance to find them.

MO: And of course, there was a lot of people that really wasn't kind. They claimed kin because it's just like Roots, where they took some away and the older ones were left. The younger ones clung to them and called them Aunt and Uncle Something. And the other generations really didn't know they weren't any kin. But they weren't any kin; they were just some other --

MB: You lose those ties after a while.

MO: -- slaves that were left there, see. And so you don't have any relatives so 30:00you called the oldest one there your auntie or your uncle. And lots of people think they're kin to people they're really not kin to.

MB: It's a shame all those ties are lost along the way. We've had so many interesting experiences and remembered so many interesting things about your grandma. I was trying to think of what point we were when you were talking about the generations and everything.

MO: Well, we were talking about (overlapping dialogue; inaudible) --

MB: Oh, the family, yeah. When you moved here and the family that your father worked for. And you went to Phyllis Wheatley and graduated from Central, in 1926.

MO: Mm-hmm.

MB: At that point, did you have any idea about further education or did you --

MO: I wanted to. I always wanted to go to Tuskegee but I couldn't go after my father and mother -- I think my father talked to my mother about it. And Ms. Ballard -- I learned in years too late -- that she would have sent me. But my 31:00mother told her that I didn't want to go, I need to go to work. So I didn't get to go.

MB: Well, she must have her reasons for why she felt that was needed.

MO: Well, I think my mother has a little jealous streak. I really think she didn't want her children to have more education than she had, because she said, when I graduated, "Now you think you know more than I do."

MB: Don't you think that happened to a lot of parents?

MO: It does. (overlapping dialogue; inaudible)

MB: -- can't hardly blame them, because they didn't have it and I'm sure there were kids who did get the education and did think they had more on the ball. From what I've read, it happened to a lot of Chinese families that came over here and were literally slaves, especially on the West Coast. That many times, when their children were educated and kind of Americanized, that then they didn't have any use for the old people, they didn't have any u--

MB: -- for her to make. What did you do then, right after graduating?


MO: Well, after I graduated, I worked in a real estate office a short while. And then my mother, she was kind of jealous of that. And she had a restaurant. And she thought I should help her. "I took care of you after your father left," that sort of thing, "and you owe it to me." So then, until I married, about three years I worked in the restaurant for her.

MB: Do you remember being angry at the time, or did you just think, well, she has reasons?

MO: Well, I guess, it's like other divorced children. You're always with the parent you don't want to be with, and I wanted to be with my father because I loved him dearly. My mother, she done everything she could for us. You know, cooked, and fixed, and doing and fixed clothes and things for us, but she wasn't a woman that really loved children. And we looked forward to the night when our daddy came home and he said, "One on one knee and then the other on the other knee," and sang songs to us and that sort of thing.

MB: He sounds like he must have been a fun person, too.

MO: He was. And see, when we went (inaudible) once a year maybe to the circus or 33:00to the fair or something, it was our daddy that took us. Anywhere we went, our daddy took us to those things. And if she was going, she just couldn't be bothered with us. She left us home. She said (inaudible). So when they were divorced, when my sister ran off and married first. And my father, it upset him so. He never was satisfied anymore at home. He always wanted to make the living. He thought a man should make the living, the woman should stay home and raise the children. He felt that very much. But she always worked, too; she believed in working. She'd work as somebody. She'd work as an aide and [odd jobs?] and things like that. And he'd say, "I can make the living and you take care of the children. We have girls and they need a mother [will?]." So my sister ran off and married at 13.

MB: Really? Here? When you were here, in Louisville?

MO: We were [living in Park?]. Then my daddy seemed like he never was satisfied with him.

MB: Didn't she have to have legal permission at that time?


MO: No, she ran over to Jeffersonville. Of course, he wanted to have it annulled. I think that was my mother and father's [main breakup?]. He wanted to have a marriage annulled and my mother...

MB: Wow, 13. That's awfully young to get married.

MO: So then he was (inaudible) they didn't have any children or anything and she stayed about two years, and they were divorced. Then, she was lucky enough to get a job with a dentist -- a white dentist -- at 18th and Broadway. Her teachers and all said she was brilliant. And this doctor, she was working in his home at first. And he told his wife, he said, "She has too good a brain to work in anybody's house as a maid. I'm going to take her to the office." So she went to the office and he would train her as I guess what you'd call a dental assistant now. She worked with him. And I think they had a convention near 35:00[Sealpax?] one year, she went to assist him. And then she fell in love again and married. And then, the next time, [this fellow killed her?].

MB: Oh, no. Really? Didn't she have a tragic life?

MO: Then this doctor said there was no schools that she could have gone to here, but if she had just gone on to -- I believe he had a friend in Boston, I believe he said -- that he could have fixed it up so that she wouldn't get a diploma -- but she didn't have a high school education; she had finished grade school. But he said she could have gotten a certificate and she could have worked most anywhere, he said, because she was really good in the work.

MB: And then, too, I would imagine during that time, the education wasn't quite as important if you had training.

MO: Training, yes. She had a training, a practical, on-the-job training. He said she could have probably stayed there -- this place, I think it was 36:00Massachusetts. I've often wondered. I've forgotten the school. I don't know whether it was the Massachusetts Institute of Technology or what it was.

MB: (inaudible) got some excellent schools up there. I imagine it would have been.

MO: And, but he said that he could have fixed it up so she could have stayed just about three or four months, or maybe six months, and they would have given her a certificate because she knew the work.

MB: Isn't that a shame.

MO: I know.

MB: How old was she when she died?

MO: Twenty-seven.

MB: What was it? Did he shoot her, or...

MO: Mm-hmm. And he, I really think, that he was a schizophrenic or something like that because they had five children. The oldest one was seven. And she had divorced him. She was [going to go to church?] and he shot her in the back.

MB: Goodness sakes. Awful. And that was your only sister?

MO: That was my only sister.

MB: What a sad life. Now I'm sitting her speculating what might have made the 37:00difference for her life, to know that she had (overlapping dialogue; inaudible) --

MO: I think (inaudible) you never know. But I've always thought if she stayed with my father... My mother had gone wrong with her and (inaudible), it'd have been different. What happened to her, as I say, we went to this county school. And the teachers there were a little bit jealous of the city teachers. And they would say all the city children don't know what these children know and so forth. But all the work that my sister had, she had already had it in the city schools. And she made good marks on it, but you had to go down to the courthouse to take an examination to pass the high school, at that time, from the county. All county children -- if they're white, black -- have to do it. And that year, she made the highest mark of anybody that passed. But before she got her grades back, this teacher had told her that she was going to fail. She sent five to 38:00take the examination. She said, "The ones that I have taught all the time, they're going to pass, and you're going to fail." And my sister said, "I had never stood second to nobody in my class, and I couldn't stand to be second. I had to be the best." And so she ran. She said, "That's the reason I ran off and married." Said, "I was going to say, after I failed, that (inaudible) was get married anyway." But they --

MB: So that might have made the difference.

MO: -- put in the paper that she made the highest mark of all the kids that took it.

MB: Isn't that a shame. And it really might have made the difference for her, too.

MO: Yes, but this same teacher. She had a daughter that she taught. She tried to make it up to her; she knew she did wrong. But she tried to do everything to that daughter [that she could?].

MB: So sad. Oh, I know. We were talking about after you had graduated from school and got on the subject of your mother. You worked for three years, then, 39:00in her restaurant, and then got married?

MO: Mm-hmm.

MB: So what year was it that you got married and what was your husband's name?

MO: In 1929. James Ovitie.

MB: That's where the Ovitie gets from. That's such an usual name.

MO: Well, he was Cuban. So I don't have too much of a very interesting life, because I stayed home with my children up until they were school-age. Or the oldest two were in junior high before I went to work and then my husband had a clean and pressing shop and I helped him in that.

MB: Clean and pressing shop?

MO: Uh-huh.

MB: How did you meet him? Was he living here in Louisville?

MO: I had an uncle that was married to a lady that was a musician. And he sang. I met him through her. She played piano for him.

MB: Now, how many children did you have in all?

MO: Three.

MB: Then what'd you do when you stayed at home with them? Until the younger one's in junior high. Then what --

MO: Until the older two were in junior high, and the younger one was small when 40:00I went to work. She was about six.

MB: What work? What kind of work did you do, then, for the rest of your (overlapping dialogue; inaudible)?

MO: For a while, I worked during World War II in a pressing shop, where they pressed military pants. And after my husband died, then I went back to working in the shop helping him after the war was over. And then, after he died, I went to Veterans' Administration working as a nurse's assistant.

MB: What year did he die?

MO: He died in '48.

MB: So you've been a widow a good number of years.

MO: Twenty-nine. Twenty-nine years.

MB: And you worked for the Veterans' Administration as a nurse's --

MO: Nursing assistant.

MB: At the veterans' hospital here?

MO: At the veterans' hospital. Mm-hmm.

MB: For how many years did you do that?

MO: About 18 and a half years.

MB: And then retired from there?

MO: Retired.

MB: Well, what are you saying? You have an interesting life. Now, let's see. When you came to Louisville, you moved into the Parkland area in 1918 -- 41:00'17-'18, something around there. Then, did you pretty much live in the Parkland area throughout your marriage and raising your family?

MO: No, I lived in the Parkland area for six years. Then I moved up in what they call California. And I stayed there until I married. And after I married, I moved out (inaudible) where they called Cabbage Patch.

MB: Right, I know where that is.

MO: And I lived out there. I lived out there about nine years. And we moved back in town, down about 8th and [Wannerford?] for a short while. And I bought a home over here on [Hale?] and I've been down here 20 years.

MB: Well, it was a number of years, then, after you were a widow that you bought back into Parkland --

MO: The Parkland area.

MB: -- on Hale? OK. So you've been at this house about 20 years?

MO: Twenty years, uh-huh.

MB: Well, you have seen a lot of various stages of Parkland then, I would imagine.

MO: Oh, yes, it's altogether different.

MB: What can you remember? Can you remember what it was like when you first came here?


MO: Well, when I first came here, I was (inaudible) around near where the school is over here, and turned around on a turntable -- not a bus, a streetcar -- and went back. And there was a picture show there. There was [a poultry house?], two drugstores.

MB: Here, at 28th and [Newham?]?

MO: Mm-hmm. And there was a Piggly Wiggly and groceries. You know, the first chain of groceries they called a Piggly Wiggly. Then, later on, it got to be an A&P and Snyder's (inaudible) Store was there for years. From the time I was there as a child until I moved back, because it's just been gone about, I guess, nine years.

MB: So when you moved in there as a child, were they little corner, tiny little stores? Or were they really nice stores, like as good as you could find anywhere in Louisville?

MO: Yes, it was a real nice shopping center. Snyder had just about as nice of things as you'd find anywhere. He had a nice store. And they had a poultry 43:00house. Yes, they had nice things. Had a nice drugstore right where this laundromat is over here. They've torn the front part of it down. It was different from what it is now, but that was a drugstore. Then they had another drugstore at 28th and Dumesnil. And then, later on, when this one left, I think there was two at 28th and Dumesnil. And we had shoe repair shop, jewelry shop.

MB: Everything you would have ever needed.

MO: And of course, we couldn't go to them, but there was a white beauty shop and all those things were here.

MB: Well, now, when you moved here as a child and all those fine shops, were those shops segregated at that time? I'm sure they probably were.

MO: Some of them were. Some of them. There were restaurants over there. And of course, next to the beauty parlor, and the restaurant, and those things we couldn't go in.

MB: Did they have signs in the window or you just understood?

MO: Oh, no, you just knew you didn't go in. You just already knew and you didn't go in them. And these homes, of course, were all white around here, all this 44:00part. And when you got back to 34th Street, then --

MB: That began --

MO: -- black populations started.

MB: But now, you could come down and bring dry cleaning or you could go to --

MO: We had to come here. There was nothing down there with us; we had to come here. We had to walk here to get our groceries and all those things. It was a few little black grocers down there because they weren't well supplied or didn't have very much. When we moved down here, it was a funny thing happened: my mother sent me to the grocer to get meat but I hadn't lived out there on the river or where the rich people were. And they had this grocery with the [parsley?], little white trays and the parsley all around them, and everything was fixed real pretty, and the meat was pretty. And when I went in this Jew grocer with all this meat throwed every which way. I went back and I told my mother, "They don't have anything but dog meat over there." She said, "You better go back. That's what you're going to be eating for now and (inaudible)." (laughter)

MB: When was that, when you did that?


MO: I was 10 years old. I had never seen meat. I had never seen meat throwed like that. Those grocers out there -- of course, they were all the richest people, I guess, in Jefferson County was out there.

MB: You bet they were.

MO: Of course, my father raised most of our food, see. And we raised chickens and things and a lot of that meat we didn't buy, but we saw it. And the canned goods and things were expensive canned goods, but my mother canned all summer. She canned 500 and 600 jars of jellies and vegetables and fruit, dried apples, dried peaches, and all those things.

MB: But when you went into a store, you were used to seeing a lot better.

MO: That's what I was used to seeing and that's what I thought a store was going to look like. And I went to a Jew grocer where they had just pigtails. My mother, of course, she didn't like those things. She didn't cook anything she didn't like. Now, they talk about soul food, but no. Soul food, I didn't eat soul food. I wasn't raised on soul food: pig feet and pigtails, pig ears, and all those thing, and chitterlings. I wouldn't think about cooking one of them.


MB: Because you never had it as a child?

MO: I never had them. My mother didn't cook them; she did not. My father ate them, but it was no (inaudible) near us. She would cook them for her and he ate them in her house. My mom didn't allow him to bring them home.

MB: You're kidding?

MO: We never had chitterlings in our house.

MB: We were talking about that upstairs, this morning, when we were talking about the African heritage weekend's this weekend. And a lot of people were saying they're going to have the soul food and all that. And several people were saying, "Well, I was never raised on that. Never tasted it."

MO: That food is Southern food, that's what it is. It's Southern food. Because if you start to think about it, those things didn't even grow in Africa. The vegetables didn't grow. They talk about collard greens. They didn't have collard greens in Africa. And I think, I believe, Dr. Shepard said they had a wild boar or something like that. It was similar to the hog or something that they have here, but they didn't have hogs in Africa. They might now, but they didn't then.

MB: I really have often wondered if it isn't more where you're raised -- whether 47:00you're black --

MO: It is.

MB: -- or white -- if you're raised in the country, you're going to eat what they offer in the country. If you're raised in the city, whether you be black or white, you eat what's around you.

MO: Eat what's right around you.

MB: I wonder about that.

MO: And of course, I think of the black, most of them ate (overlapping dialogue; inaudible) maybe way back their fore parents were owned maybe by Germans, they had a way of eating like German people. If you were owned by French, my father's people -- up around [Boyerstown?] -- (inaudible) must have been a lot of French people there because I look at that French chef and I see things I've never seen nobody do but my grandmother. I've seen her lard meat. And I didn't know what grandma called it, but they took salt pork and cut it in strips. And when you have a beef roast, they take a wire and run that salt pork up in it. It makes it more [subtle into something?]. Like I've seen my grandmother do that.

MB: So you think the people that owned her were possibly French and taught her --

MO: Well, she wasn't owned, but her parents.

MB: -- and it was passed down.

MO: And it was passed down from generation to generation. And I noticed the 48:00pastries and things she made were more French-seeming to me than what they have now.

MB: I have never thought of that.

MO: Now, my mother's mother was a [McGee?]. She evidently was from Irish -- around Irish people -- and her cooking was like that. She cooked stews and that sort of thing.

MB: You must have done a lot of thinking about your family background.

MO: I have, to wonder why. I don't know. I've always thought why people do. I think there's a reason for everybody doing a certain thing. I try to find out the reason why people do things.

MB: It explains an awful lot. I had never thought about that.

MO: Because when they get on, they talk about soul food. That ain't soul food. I don't know what kind of food it is to me.

MB: Have you ever eaten any of that stuff at all?

MO: Yes, I've eaten. I've gone to other people now. I used to go in a senior citizen group up to the Presbyterian church at Jackson and [Rosaline?]. And from 49:00[Ethings?] Brown Memorial, the ladies from out there, once a month, would bring the food in and they'd serve. And then, other times, the black would cook. Now, I like what the Brown Memorial bring better. I couldn't tell them that. I couldn't tell them that, because they'd say, "Oh, this is our kind of food now." Oh, they'd bring those little casseroles. I don't know, but that's kind of what I was raised on and I enjoy that. But see, they overcook food, as far as I'm concerned. And there was greens cooked black, and there was sweet potatoes with so much cinnamon in them they was dark brown and sweet as they could be.

MB: If you're not used to it, it tastes a lot.

MO: And a lot of fat, fat meat. And see, I never ate like that. And then, after I married, of course, my husband being Cuban, he liked kind of Spanish food. And I got used to seasoning with more spices and cooking more macaroni and rice and 50:00that sort of thing that he liked. I did everything he wanted. He liked tomato sauce on so many things. And the food he liked was kind of like that. And he'd tell me things of how his mother might try to fix it. I don't know whether I fixed it like that. Of course, she did, but he would say they were.

MB: Was he black as well? Or was --

MO: He was yellow.

MB: So I wonder if it was a Spanish-black mixture from Cuba or not?

MO: I don't know whether it was or not, because I didn't know his people. Because he ran away from home.

MB: Was it ever hard for (inaudible) to ask a question? We were talking about him earlier. Was it hard for him, when he came to this country and lived in a predominantly black community, and put up with some of the things? You know, the segregation and the treatment of people here? Did he come from an area that was like that in Cuba?

MO: No, he came here from Canada. His family moved to Canada from Cuba. And he 51:00came here from Canada. But he moved pretty much in either race. I think he could have gone in either race he wanted to. He seemed to mix pretty well with them. And he was the kind of a person, I guess, that you would say that liked people. And he very seldom saw faults in people. Now, occasionally, he was hurt and when he was hurt he was deeply hurt. But he just liked people and he was the kind of person that liked all classes; somebody in all classes of people that he liked.

MB: Was he ever bothered, though, by the fact that, at that time, he couldn't take his wife and his children into any restaurant that he wanted in town? Did he ever express it?

MO: No, no, no. No. Uh-uh.

MB: He just knew that you couldn't go there and that was it?

MO: No, we didn't go.

MB: I've often wondered, you know, about people that are in that particular situation, especially if they, you know, have the kind of temperament and personality where they do get deeply hurt.

MO: I guess he must have evidently felt more comfortable on the black because he 52:00seemed to stay with them more. But of course, he would mingle with white [at the time?]. I guess he had as many white at his funeral as he had black. And he was the kind of person that liked people and he seemed to get along well with them. And he'd say, "Oh, I came here from somewhere else and I don't know anybody." I said, "I've been here all my life and you know 10 times as many people as I do." He was the kind of person that seemed to draw people, just like a flypaper draws flies. And I've got to grandchildren just like him. Last week, one of them was over there (inaudible). I haven't had that many people in the house in 20 years. They seem to draw their friends.

MB: Personalities.

MO: They like people and they're friendly. And he had to go around and kind of (inaudible) all his friends. And they were in and out. And then one would tell the other one and he'd come by to see him.

MB: And that's the kind of personality your husband had?


MO: My husband had that type of personality.

MB: You had three children that you raised?

MO: Mm-hmm.

MB: Now, how many grandchildren do you have now?

MO: I have 11.

MB: Oh, my goodness. (laughter) And your daughters were raised --

MO: Here. And born here and raised here.

MB: You have three daughters? I'm sorry, I don't think I asked. You have three daughters?

MO: Mm-hmm.

MB: They were born here and pretty much raised in the Parkland area?

MO: Raised here, oh, yes. Not in the Parkland area. They were raised out 12th. We lived at 12th Street. They were pretty much mostly there. And then we moved down 14th and Madison; they were down there. But mostly at 12th Street where they grew up -- the older girls. And of course, the younger one, she grew up mostly over here. Because she was --

MB: After your husband was dead, you came back, moved here.

MO: She was there, yeah. She was there but she's quite a bit younger than the older two.

MB: Well, with her -- with the younger daughter -- when you moved back into the Parkland area, what kind of things were there for recreation at that time? What 54:00kinds of things did you do?

MO: Well, we didn't do too much. She didn't do too much for recreation around here because... Well, we joined the St. James Lutheran Church and the minister there took the young people. Most of her activities were through the church. And he took them to camps and such things as that, and the young peoples' conference. That was what she enjoyed. And then she liked all kinds of music. She would come over here and listen to music, you know, on the records, over here at the library.

MB: Over here at the library?

MO: But as far as with the Parkland people and things, other than that church, she never... Her friends, you know, she knew them before she came here, and through the high school. Of course, I think most blacks, that was their life, through their church. So that was their social life and their religious life, 55:00through the church.

MB: That's what a lot of people have said about the Parkland area itself, 15, 20, 25 years ago, that that's where your recreation was, too.

MO: Well, it was through your church, yes.

MB: Sunday School for the children and Vacation Bible School in the summertime and camp and all that kind of stuff. What did you like about the Parkland area that you moved back into the area 20 years ago, again?

MO: Well, I guess the reason that I moved here was because I had a little money, but the house I could buy it. At that time, you was paying quite a bit, a large down payment. And what money I had, I could get this house for that down payment. And at the time I moved over there, it was very nice. And of course, a lot of the people I knew. Not a lot of them, because I think I was about the fourth black family that moved over there. But it was one or two families. Well, those that were there, I had known them before that I moved here.


MB: So you knew some people, and you could buy a house that you could afford, that was in nice shape and everything. What kind of changes have you seen in the last 20 years? Like, on Hale and Virginia and the streets around here?

MO: Well, when I first moved here, well, I could go over to the shopping center and I guess every other person I'd see, I knew. But I don't know anybody now. See, they moved somewhere else or have gone somewhere else and it seems to be people that have migrated from south or somewhere. They're all different. And then, my neighborhood now, most of them are from Alabama or somewhere else, maybe.

MB: It's lost that neighborhood where you grow up and you know the same people.

MO: Yeah, you know, I'm seeing just a few that you see, you know. Of course, I guess our children (inaudible) church -- it was a small church -- and most of the younger people in the church, they've gone other places. Because I have one daughter that's in Kansas and one daughter that's in [Lombard?], Illinois. And 57:00the other women's sons and daughters, most of them have moved to Dayton or moved somewhere else. My daughter went to Chicago, from Lombard. When she (inaudible) she said, "Mother, after I see you, I'm ready to go back." She said because they're all gone.

MB: Things have changed.

MO: So all those that were my friends, they're all somewhere else.

MB: I guess that just tells something about how mobile a world we are. Because I know exactly what they're talking about. Even small towns have changed that way.

MO: See, her husband works for IBM and they're transferred so much. And I kind of worry about her children, because they have never been around black children too much. Well, the two oldest were. When they were small, they were in a black community. But now, since then, she's got five. And the three younger ones, they've always been in predominantly white. Now, where they are now, they are the only black. And you can see the difference in the children. They can't 58:00communicate with black children as much. The older two can. Even to the way they dance. We laughed at them. I was up there not long ago. And even to the way they dance. They younger children like hillbilly music and this sort of thing. Well, see, the older ones like that old-time jazz, because they were around black. Now, the oldest boy, he has enough credits to come out this year, but she didn't want him to. He's just 16. She thought he was too young to go to college; she wanted him to take something else in high school. But he says he doesn't want to go to his prom. And I told him, I said, "I'll go and make pictures. You'll be so sorry later that you didn't." He said, well, "The black, they go to the prom, they dress up and go to the prom." He said, "The prom here, they were jeans, they were anything, and go to the prom."

MB: I can't imagine.

MO: So half of them might be in formal and the other half... His sister went. Some body invited her and she said, "I didn't enjoy it because half of them were 59:00there in jeans and casual clothes, half of them were in farmers."

MB: It wasn't a big party that it used to be.

MO: Well, it's a big thing because it's a big school. But she said the music was all hillbilly music and things and she was looking for jazz.

MB: Does your daughter and your husband, do they worry about it in the same way, the differences between the two older and the three younger?

MO: No, he doesn't. I don't think... My daughter seems to, but he doesn't because he was raised in a predominantly white neighborhood. Bryn Mawr, where that college is for girls?

MB: Wow, that's an exclusive area.

MO: He was raised in Bryn Mawr. And, you know, he went to University of Wichita and he had a hard time adjusting to the black when he first went there, he said. Well, the white, too, because it was a different class of white. He had always been accepted where he was. He was just five black out of 350 in his class. And 60:00he has his yearbook and every student but one has signed it, from the kindergarten on up. He said he just went and (overlapping dialogue; inaudible) --

MB: So those are kids he grew up with and he was accepted?

MO: Grew up with and they signed it. But it was just five black in his class. One Jew boy wouldn't sign it. And he cried because the Jew boy didn't sign it. And he said, "I was that mad." He said, "It was 350 and if 348 signed it," he said, "that was a good number." She said, "You shouldn't worry about that other one." He said, "But I wanted everybody to like me." She said, "Well, everybody's just not going to like you."

MB: But he talked about having problems getting along when he was in with the black community again?

MO: Yes, he has problems with the black. He didn't have them in Bryn Mawr, with the white school.

MB: I guess those are a lot of things you don't consider, right.

MO: And you see, it's just different schools and different places where you run 61:00into one. Now, they left Pennsylvania, went to Kansas -- went to Wichita. Well, the two older children went to the black school. Then they left there and went to Topeka. And they met a class of people that are from Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky -- they were most all white -- but they were people that had been transferred away from home. And she was expecting her last child when she went there. Well, she didn't know anyone. She moved into a condominium. But she said when she got home from the hospital, they had cleaned her house, they had her supper on her table. It was all white, but three. Three were black and the rest of them were white. But she said, "That's just the way they were." They exchanged clothes -- maternity clothes, everything -- but they were all women who were away from home. Their husbands were being transferred from place to place.

MB: Sometimes those companies like that, they form kind of a community and it 62:00doesn't matter the race or anything else.

MO: And she said, (inaudible) of all the places she's lived, she liked Topeka better. (inaudible) they just did. And the schools, you just didn't run into that there. There wasn't very much black. Topeka doesn't have a large black population, but it wasn't very much in the schools. But they didn't run into prejudice. But of course, you know, we all know [it's a prejudiced state?] and her children never ran into quite a bit of it there.

MB: That's something you just don't consider.

MO: And she says where she is now, she doesn't worry about it because the whites don't get along with each other let alone her. (laughter)

MB: Was it hard for your daughters, too, being raised in a predominantly black community? And I imagine they all attended Central, didn't they?

MO: Mm-hmm.

MB: Has that been hard for them --

MO: Mm-mm.

MB: -- traveling, you know, the way they do and being in white communities now, away from a predominantly community? Has that been much of a trouble or they've been able to shift pretty well?


MO: No, just this one daughter travels. They've been able to shift because she said, as a rule, they join a black church. Now, there's no black churches in Lombard. They have to go to another little suburb of Chicago called Wheaton and there. They go there. But she said can't communicate with the children there too much. They do, but the children don't.

MB: The younger ones?

MO: The younger ones don't. Because, see, they've always been around. But they play.

MB: That's a real interesting thing. Maybe it'll be interesting to look at it 10, 15 years from now, to see when. Because we are such a mobile society -- I mean, everybody's shifting all over the place -- to see if those problems still exist.

MO: But he had --