COX: Well, we're starting over again.
COX: For the second time.
COX: With Doctor and Mrs. J. H. Walls. Again this is an oral history interviewwith Doctor and Mrs. J. H. Walls, July 18, 1977. We've been having some radio station interference and circuit--but maybe we've overcome that now. And my name is Wayne Cox from the University of Louisville and this is an oral history interview in an oral history project on the black community in Louisville.
And Dr. Walls is a long-time practicing physician in Louisville, and I justasked him about 15 minutes ago to talk a little bit about his background, his place of birth, his parents, and where he went to school--before we discovered that we were being interfered with by the radio. So maybe if we could start all 1:00over again with that.
WALLS: Well, I'd be glad to. I heard of something that's unavoidableprobably at the time. I xwas born in Tennessee in a small town--but really not in the town either, just out in the country. But my nearest post office was about three miles from where I was living--Mason, Tennessee--which was about 30 miles north of Memphis. My father was named Harry Walls and my mother's name was Amanda. I went to school there in the country school. The country schools were I found out later much better than I thought at first. They were very good after getting along further in my training and comparing them with schools other places, but they just went to about the sixth grade. 2:00
When I finished that, my mother and father wanted me to go further in myeducation, and they sent me to Nashville, Tennessee--Walden University. About it would sound funny probably with a sixth grader going to college, but this was a college that was set up following the Civil War by northerners from the Methodist AME Church to educate--help educate the blacks who had recently been set free. And knowing that they didn't have much training, they started in the very low grades and went on through college. And this was a very complete college because they had many different courses, as in medicine, theology, home economics, and just about anything that you'd find in a college.
As I said, I went there to sixth grade and I went through the what would becalled high school now. But there we called it college preparatory. But at the 3:00time, I took subjects ahead and I could have finished college in two more years because of the work that I had taken in advance. But realizing that I had to hurry up and get out because my parents were growing old, I was the last child of the (inaudible 0:03:31.9), children of 13. So I cut my education short and entered Meharry Medical College. I guess I won't go through the stories why I took medicine now instead of pharmacy.
But at any rate, I think in over several different subjects, I finally chosemedicine. I finished medicine at Meharry in 1917--April--May the 3rd, 1917. But 4:00I couldn't start practicing medicine at that time because the school realizing that many of their students were poor and school having support from the Methodist Church, they could afford to do it. They would allow the students to graduate but would not give them their diploma until after they paid up all of their dues. So after my graduation I owed them quite a bit of money, and I left school and went on to Chicago and went to work.
MRS. WALLS: One was a boarding school.
WALLS: And I finally accumulated enough money and sent back and paid off mybill and they sent me my diploma.
COX: What did you do in Chicago? Did you--5:00
WALLS: At that time I went to work at the main office of Sears Roebuck andCompany on the West Side, and I had two or three different jobs there. I started off as a bus boy in the dining room. And then the--I had two or three other little jobs but just minor jobs that I had. But however I was able to save up enough money to pay off my debt at Walden University so I could get my diploma. Well this being accomplished in January of 1918, I--oh no, it was in February of 1918, I came to Louisville. I came to Louisville because I had taken the state board examination in Louisville, and I couldn't get reciprocity. 6:00
You'd have to practice a year before you would be considered for reciprocity.And that's one reason I took the examination in Kentucky because Kentucky reciprocated with more states than any other state in the union. They reciprocated at that time with 37 states. I didn't intend to practice in Louisville but as I said, I had to come back and practice a year before I could apply for reciprocal relations with another state to practice.
Well I came on and by the time I practiced in one year, the practice at thattime was very poor for black physicians and within that year's time--by the time I was ready for reciprocity, I didn't have money enough to get out of the city. So I had to remain here. (laughter)
COX: Were there many black physicians (inaudible 0:07:04.2)?7:00
WALLS: Quit a few black physicians, yes, there is.
COX: Do you remember some of the names?
WALLS: Oh yes, I remember several of them. There was Dr. Merchant, Dr.Lattimore, Dr. Scott, Dr. Pickett, Dr. Duncan, Dr. Oliver--there were two Oliver brothers, Dr. Blackburn. Oh at that time, there were about--I guess about 40 or 50 black physicians here in the city. Yes, yes, was that many. I think at one time it was kind of up to 50 some odd here.
COX: Where had just out of your knowledge, where had most of these men goneto school? Had a lot of them gone to Meharry?
WALLS: No, there wasn't more than about four or five who had finished from8:00Meharry. Most of these, probably 90 percent of them, had finished from a little school here that was run by one doctor. Now this doctor who at that time they were not very strict on medical schools. And this is not just the fault of Louisville but many other cities had two or three medical schools. Well this was a black doctor. He was well trained. He was graduated from McGill University in Canada. He himself was well trained, but I guess since some of the others had a medical school, he decided he'd have him one too.
So he set up a medical school here just for blacks. This was a black doctor, andhe set up a medical school. Well of course one doctor, regardless of how well trained he was, he'd go in (inaudible 0:08:53.4) and turn out a doctor that meant very much. He couldn't be trained very well. Well this school had put 9:00ads--just flooded the city with these doctors. That's why there was so many of them here then. Then another thing that he did, he was--seemed like he was quite a politician, and he was able to get the state to give these doctors a certificate to practice medicine without taking examination.
All they'd have to do is present their diploma to the state, and they'd givethem a license to practice medicine--so the city was flooded with them. And we think that is one thing that made it as hard for us as it was because so many of those doctors, not a matter of lack of intelligence, but just a matter they didn't have any opportunity for any training. And they were here and of course naturally couldn't do very good work. And that made it awfully hard for us. So--
COX: What was the name of that school in the--
WALLS: Fitzbutler. The doctor's name was Fitzbutler. And it just called10:00Fitzbutler's Medical School.
COX: Huh. Where was it located? Do you--
WALLS: No, I don't know where it was located. It was here in the city, but Idon't know where it was located.
MRS. WALLS: Was it here when you were?
WALLS: No, it was gone then--I think, yeah. See just before I came here,the--this--the American Medical Association had set up a rating committee for colleges and hospitals--for medical schools and hospitals. And they had gone around and closed up all of these little hospitals. It was one or two in Memphis, and it was Shaw--where is Shaw--it was one out there in that same city where Shaw University is.
MRS. WALLS: In Virginia.
WALLS: And were two or three here. Well the--
MRS. WALLS: One in South Carolina, one of those states (inaudible 0:10:50.6).
WALLS: The American Medical Association set up certain standards for thesemedical schools and they were rated, and they formed a committee. This committee 11:00would go around and inspect and they had to come up to certain requirements or the school was closed. And that closed up all these little schools like that.
COX: What was--were your impressions of the medical scene in Louisville whenyou got here began your practice?
WALLS: It was very poor, very poor, so far as that black doctor wasconcerned. And we could see that and there was six of us from my class that came here--six including myself. I don't know why there's so many from my class came here. I had a lot of friends. I don't know whether some of them were following me or what. But--and we saw the condition and we thought we saw why it was as bad as it was. And we would get together and make plans as to what we would do to improve the standing of black medicine in the city. And we just placed ourselves that we're gonna stick it out and fight regardless of what had happened. We gonna show the people that black doctors know medicine. And we 12:00worked at it and fortunately we--things came out but we suffered quite a bit going through.
COX: Who were those six? Do you--
WALLS: Doctor Hammonds, Doctor (inaudible 0:12:24.6), Doctor Macland, DoctorClowney, and myself. Other than that, I mean there was just five.
MRS. WALLS: Doctor Lattimore was already here.
WALLS: By the time I came in here, he came in my class.
MRS. WALLS: But he was--Doctor Lattimore was a Meharry (inaudible 0:12:44.3)
WALLS: Yeah, Doctor Lattimore was a Meharry man.
COX: What exactly did you six decide to do?
WALLS: Well, it was just general practice at the time. Now that was another13:00thing about me. I wanted surgery and all of my professors in medicine, they would encourage me along that line cause they felt like this in your senior year and in your--they'd allow you to do little minor operations. And my professors thought I had the knack as a surgeon, and they encouraged me along that line. Plus the fact that I liked it anyway and that's what I wanted to do. But at that time, black doctors--there was no place for black doctors to go to--take post-graduate work in surgery.
There were two small hospitals. One is in Kansas City--I think that was aprivate hospital. Then there was a segregated city hospital in St. Louis--Homer G. Phillips which gave some training. But even that, I wasn't able to take that. 14:00I didn't figure that was just first class, but I would have taken that but I didn't have money enough for that because at that time this post-graduate work you had to pay a little something yourself, plus your board and room. But of course it's different now. They pay them now--a small amount of money and give them their board and room.
Had it been that way then, I'd been fine. But I didn't have that $40 a month topay to take it, so I couldn't take it there. So all of us were just doing general practice, and I did general practice for about 20 or 25 years. Well I did some on up until I retired, but I mean this all together general practice for about 20 or 25 years until I could get up on this surgery which I picked up on kind of piecemeal.
MRS. WALLS: Back to the question you asked about these--what the plan to do to15:00try to make a better picture here. What about the organization of the Falls City Medical Association?
WALLS: Well it was organized when I came here course me and Ashley workedthrough that.
MRS. WALLS: I see.
WALLS: We did everything we could. All of us supported the Falls CityMedical Society fully and used that as much as we could in order to try to make a better impression for the black physicians in the city. Every little chance that we'd get, we'd send speakers around to churches and to discuss health conditions. And every little thing that we thought we could do in order to improve our image in the city.
MRS. WALLS: Were all of you on the staff out at Red Cross Hospital?
WALLS: No, not all of them. But most of us were on the staff out there. Ofcourse this group, this new group that came in, all of us were on the staff.
COX: Can you talk some about your general practice? Where was your office?16:00
WALLS: My office was on Walnut Street in the section now that has been tornup by urban renewal--but it was 1117 West Walnut, Second Floor. When I came into town to practice, as I told you at first, you had to practice a year before you could get reciprocity. And I came here with the idea of just practicing that year. So I wasn't particular about any first class office or fine office. Of course I couldn't have had one anyway. But at any rate, I had a--oh Dr. Clowney was the other doctor.
MRS. WALLS: You mentioned Clowney, I think.
WALLS: I don't I think I mentioned Clowney back there. But this really was aclassmate of mine, and he had--he had been here a few months. And he had settled in with two dentists who had rented an upper floor of just a dwelling. There were several rooms in the second floor, and they used the front room for the dentistry. There were two brothers. And of course they'd rent these back rooms 17:00out to anyone who wanted a room to have a physician. But this Dr. Clowney was a classmate of mine. He was in one of the rooms and when I saw him, he told me about this other room that was there and suggested that I would stay here and practice and take that room.
Then the other thing that encouraged me to remain here--I didn't come with theidea of practicing though. I was thinking of going to a smaller town. I don't know why I thought that maybe I'd do a little better cause I just planned to stay one year. I thought maybe just for one year, I'd do better in a smaller town. But at any rate, this classmate of mine, Dr. Clowney, he had been down to 18:00the small town and he advised me not to go to a small town. And he told me the setup that he had sharing the office with these dentists. And I talked with them, and they very gladly offered me this other room that they had and they told both of us they knew that we weren't making any money at the time--not very much.
And they said, "Well we would just enjoy your company here with us. We have thewhole floor rented, and we've got to pay for it anyway. So if you can pay your rent, okay. If you don't, we haven't lost anything. But we got to pay rent anyway. Well of course that sounded (inaudible 0:18:39.5) very encouraging to me. And that's what made me stay here because I had no idea I was remaining in Louisville. But as I said, when the year was up, I didn't have money enough to leave so I had to remain there. And I stayed there in that office--1918 I came 19:00here, I opened my office there on March 2, 1918.
And I have to tell this--the funny thing that happened. The first day I openedmy office, I got a call just right around the corner from my office. This was kind of a slum area of the city at the time where people drank, you know, it was a little rough. That's one reason I opened the office in that place was because of that. Well the--when I got this call, these dentists--they'd had some doctors in the office with them before who had moved out for some reason or another. And they knew a little some about it because these other doctors would come back and talk to them about the patient.
So they told me before I left out they knew--they could see I was green andneeded a little help. So they wanted to help me so they told me, they said, "Now more than likely this woman is drunk. And what these doctors do, they usually 20:00give them so-and-so," is ipecac opium is what it was. "Just make them vomit and they're vomiting then they're get though vomiting they'll go on to sleep and when they wake up, they're all over with." So it so happened when I went in, the woman really was drunk and of course I gave her the shot and she stayed there until she finished vomiting. And she went to turn on off to go to sleep. And she asked me how much I owed her.
And at that time, they were charging $1.50 per call. And I told her $1.50, andshe (inaudible 0:20:33.1). But I just tell her I couldn't hardly say that $1.50 cause looked like I was robbing the woman. (laughs) And said I wasn't worth $1.50 is true. But she paid me that--that was my first call. Well I stayed there in this office until 1929. Then I moved to--from there, farther up on the street at 10th and Walnut. And the office with the dentists there and I stayed there until-- 21:00
MRS. WALLS: Urban renewal displaced you.
WALLS: Yeah, urban renewal displaced us there. And we moved from there to20th and Broadway. And I stayed there until I retired.
COX: So in the second office, you were there until--what, either the late'50s early '60s? The urban renewal--was that?
MRS. WALLS: Well, let's see.
WALLS: I can't--I can't get that year out of my mind. Just what year I leftthe second office at 10th and Walnut. Was it just when urban renewal was coming in--that year--
MRS. WALLS: It must have been in the early '60s--late '50s and early--veryearly '60s. You should know that, right?
COX: What--can you talk some more about your practice? About healthconditions that you encountered especially during the first years when you--
WALLS: Well as I've indicated to you that the first few years were very hard22:00because the image of the black physician was very low at the time. And among the blacks in the city. But one thing that helped me a little--I tell this cause (inaudible 0:22:22.5) I used it as much as I could, I guess. Maybe it wasn't just so honest in doing it. But however when a person's hungry, they'll do most anything. But at any rate, I was at this same address there at 1117 West Walnut when I first came in. I guess I had been here just about a year then. And I'd stay in my office--I had nothing to do. And of course I was in my office practically all the time.
And this was on a Sunday and a woman came running down. The child was very sickand of course I followed them was just about two blocks from the office where 23:00this child was sick. A little boy about 6 or 7 years old. And I went up there to see this little boy and of course he was very sick. He had a very high fever, and he was somewhat unconscious. And I sat around there and I--by this time, I had become a little more accustomed to being a doctor and I was able to stay calm enough to be able to use what little bit of knowledge I had to the best advantage. And I was able to diagnose this case--the boy's condition.
Plus the fact that the family had been--he had a doctor already who had beentreating him for pneumonia. And I had prescribed for him and the next morning, I left. They paid me. So the next morning, I guess about 11 o'clock, I went back 24:00by there just to see how he was getting along. And when I walked in, that boy was sitting up in the bed asking for--begging for something to eat. Well of course I was happy to see that. Well at that time we didn't have the wonder drugs like we have now such as penicillin and the sulfa drugs to treat pneumonia. And pneumonia with the young and the very old was very dangerous.
The pneumonia would run a course of anywhere from seven to nine days, and atthat time, they would go through what we call "the crisis." But when you go 25:00through this crisis, it would just look like you were dying. Everybody couldn't keep it going. But if you were able to make it through this crisis, just in a few hours afterwards, you seemed you'd just snap right out of it. You're going to get along all right if you were able to get through it. And of course that's where most of the patients died during this crisis. But if you happened to make it through that crisis, than you're home free.
Well to be able to go through the crisis so often depended upon the treatmentthat you had coming up to the crisis in order to conserve your energy--to be able to stand the rigors of this crisis. Well this patient had had--of course white doctors--most of the blacks used white doctors at the time cause I was telling you that black doctors had a very poor image. And they had a white doctor who had nurtured this little boy all through the week and had preserved 26:00him to the point that he was able to go through this crisis and come out okay.
And they tried to get this white doctor that Sunday when this crisis hit him,but on Sundays at that time, the white doctors didn't--wouldn't pay much attention to--well doctors no time like to make calls on Sundays. And Sunday with a white doctor wouldn't go out for a black person to make a call. And they couldn't get hold of him. That's why they came down and got me because they couldn't get him. But it was just fortunate for me that this was right at the crisis and he had nurtured this boy on through to where he was able to go through the crisis. And I came in at this time and got all the credit.
WALLS: So that information just flew all over town--was a wonderful doctor.And then the other part that made it good for me was that this was one of the most prominent of the white doctors and no negroes at that time. And of course the news spread that there was Dr. Walls came in and there was Dr. So-and-So had treated the patient and the patient was dying. And Dr. Walls came in and 27:00overnight he--the patient is survived. And then these people were known, the grandparents of these people were known quite a bit around the black neighborhood. And of course they spread the news, and I began climbing in my practice after that. I was a big man. (laughs)
COX: So are you saying that there were white doctors who more or lessspecialized in treating blacks?
WALLS: Well I don't know whether you'd call this a specialization.
WALLS: There was certain blacks--what I think it was really that they werejust sure the white doctors maybe who cared about practicing on the blacks. And when they'd find one who would, then they'd pass that on to the next black and they got sick, they'd call the same man. So it was just about three or four white doctors who practiced in the black neighborhood at the time. And this was 28:00one of the leading ones in the neighborhood.
COX: Did the white and the black doctors associate at all?
WALLS: Well there was no common ground for association there. They'dmeet--they'd meet and talk with each other freely. But there was no common meeting ground that they had. We could not go to them. We couldn't join the medical society so there was no common meeting ground--a place where everyone could meet. Sometimes some white doctors--a few of them that would put a patient in Red Cross Hospital. And of course, we'd run into one out there occasionally at Red Cross Hospital.
MRS. WALLS: Then the story of your--becoming a part of the health council, didthat bring you into any contact with the white physicians? (inaudible 0:29:00.5)
WALLS: Yeah, well the white community generally--when I came into the city,I connected myself up with all the activities that I could because I've always 29:00been one who liked to help, you know, a part of things. And course I was very active as I mentioned before with this Falls City Medical Society. And when I was in town maybe just about two years, they made me president, and I thought that--considered that quite an honor to be made president at that early age with so many other older physicians who were members and for (inaudible 29:41) who had never been president. And I thought that was quite an honor.
But I took this really--I tried to do all that I could to make this society'spopulace possible. So at that time, there were a lot of health agencies in the city spotted around doing health work and some of them--now these were white and 30:00black--mostly white. Many of them--their work was overlapping so the city got an idea that they would organize all health agencies so that they would all be organized and their work would not overlap. And not only that, they probably could work in a way that one's work could even boost the others. Let's be more economical and more scientific, if you got them all together. So they [dead air 0:30:38.6 to 0:30:46.0].
Oh yes, this health council. Well I noticed the ad in the paper and the date ofthis health council that they were gonna organize. And the meeting was here in this Heyburn Building at 4th and Broadway. All of the health agencies in the city were sent invitations to come and--to the organization of this health council. 31:00
MRS. WALLS: Was it Falls City--
WALLS: Well the Falls City Medical Society was not sent an invitation. But Iwas president and without discussing it with the members, I just made up my mind to say, "Well the Falls City Medical Society is composed of nothing but doctors." They said, "and it should be considered a health agency. So I'm going on to this meeting anyway." But I went on to the meeting and when I got to the meeting, the desk up front with the papers there for you to fill this paper out, stated giving your name and the organization you were connected with.
Well I went and filled mine out, "President of the Falls City Medical Society,"and they organized that day. And Dr. Abram made the principal speech at this particular meeting was why this should be a--encouraging the--for this type of organization.
MRS. WALLS: Dr. Abrams was perhaps one of the most leading--
WALLS: Leading physicians--
MRS. WALLS: --white physicians in the--32:00
WALLS: --not only in the city but even in the nation was Dr. Abrams--
COX: Was that Ervin Abrams?
WALLS: Ervin Abrams, yes. He made the speech that day. Well they organizedand I guess when they saw my name, and of course I guess they could see me there with my face, then they probably looked around, who is this, you know. And they looked in there, saw it was Falls City, so they had--on the executive board, they made a provision on there for several members at-large. That was for the idea that--so the idea that here was a person out here who was not even connected with any health activities.
If they felt that person could be of some help to them, they could still callthat person in. So they left I guess about eight or ten openings there for members at-large on the executive board, and they chose me as one of the members 33:00of the executive board--one of the members at-large. Well of course I functioned with them. Every time's there a meeting, I'd be there--right there. And they would have several subcommittees that--and they would sometimes they'd appoint me on some of these subcommittees and I'd work on them. And of course that finally just went on in from one thing to another as the thing that worked up to the baby clinics. But with that--
COX: This was the Louisville Health Council?
COX: That was organized during the 1920s?
WALLS: That was in the '20s probably early '20s that was organized, yeah.34:00And attending several of these meetings, committee meetings after I was made a member at-large, they--people would come in with reports and I would hear these reports of the death rates and morbidity rates and they had them in sections of the West End and the blacks and the whites--they had them separated like that. And the death rates--death and morbidity rates of the first year of life was just so--there was three and four times as high as that of whites among the blacks. And it was just so embarrassing to me to sit there and hear all of this knowing that this wasn't anything that was made up.
This was actually true. So I began thinking this over and I said, "Well now Iwas from the country myself, and I knew that these old--these women in the 35:00country--they didn't know anything--they'd give you a bottle of--with milk and they're out under the shade tree and flies all around it. And they'd give them the sugar tits to suck on and a piece of fat meat and a lot of times, anything for them to suck on that would stop them from crying.' Well now I knew that these women even if they were not from the country, their mothers maybe were from the country. And probably some of this type of feeding had trickled down to them.
And then I figured they didn't know how to care for the baby, how to dress them.So I got the idea of having--we'd have baby clinics to teach these mothers how to care for their babies. And I went back to the folks at the medical society and discussed this with them. And of course they were all for it right off just nobody had thought of it. And then I got a committee of them to work with me and at the time that the Plymouth Settlement House there was a congregation of 36:00churches at 17th and Chestnut. The pastor there was Reverend E.G. Harris. He was quite a civic worker and a community minded man.
Well he had this--he had a recreation building right next to the church, and Iknew that there were rooms in there that could be used at different times for different things. So I went to him to ask him--told him what we were thinking about is well-baby clinics for the black mothers and we want a meeting about once a week, two hours once a week and could we use one of his rooms. Well Reverend Harris, he was just agreed immediately. He was glad to have it there.
So he gave us a room to use for two hours once a week. Then the--then I went37:00back to the medical society and reported back, but we got to have a doctor at this meeting. So they decided that they would assign each--assign their own medical society in rotation would work--maybe a week or two weeks, and then the next doctor like that assigned in rotation.
MRS. WALLS: Had you talked to Dr. Level about that?
WALLS: No, after then the next move I made--well I knew we wanted a nurse.Well I knew Dr. Level who was a city health doctor at the time. He's white. So I called and got an appointment with Dr. Level to see what help we could get from him. So when I went to him, he said, "Well Dr. Walls, I don't have any money," he said, "But the thing I could do, I have several nurses, the black nurses, and 38:00I could just pull a nurse for two hours any day that you want--I could pull a nurse for two hours and turn her over to you to work there in the clinic. And then we have all the literature on feeding and how to care for babies. We have just loads of that here, you can get all of that you want."
Well that all sounded very good. So I went back and reported this: now we got aroom, we got a nurse to work with us, we got literature, and the doctors would have their stethoscopes. And I said, "Now we need--you have to weigh these babies so we had nothing to weigh them on." Then I went over on Market Street, you know, the second hand stores and looked around there for some scales, baby scales. And fortunately I ran into a set of baby scales over there. They were a little dusty and rusty, but I tested them out best I could and they had--they looked pretty good. And I had finally jewed the man down--the way I got them from down there. So now we got our scales. 39:00
We got the doctors with the stethoscopes. We got the nurse. We got theliterature and the room. So then we set a date to open up the clinic. And Dr. Level not only did he let us have a nurse for this, but he would--have their nurses to--and that they would work with--tell these mothers about this clinic and encourage them to bring their babies to these clinics. Then we'd--the doctors who were going around, they would sit there and encourage them there--have patients to bring these babies to the clinic. And we had very good attendance at these clinics.
MRS. WALLS: You finally set up more clinics than the ones that--
WALLS: Yes. So this got along so well that this was in the West End. But Iremember at least a (inaudible 0:39:55.3) that I told you about that I heard it was so appalling. The worst ones were in what we call the East End. Now what we 40:00call the East End was the area south of Broadway and from say from probably Preston to Shelby Street was called the East End. There was a lot of negroes there up in that area. And there the death rate there was higher than the West End. So then we decided this went over so well, we'd set up a baby well-baby clinic in the--to catch these East End people. And at the time, there was a rather little recreation center I think it was on South Jackson or Hancock--no Hancock Street.
MRS. WALLS: Hancock and Lampton.
WALLS: Hancock and Lampton. So I went up and talked to--he was white. I knewthis was a recreation center so I went up to talk with Dr.--was Little--
MRS. WALLS: Little.
WALLS: To see what--
MRS. WALLS: Presbyterian church there.41:00
WALLS: Yeah there--to see if we could get a room there for a baby clinic.Well when I went in and he was all for it. He was tickled to death to have it. So we got a room there without any (inaudible 0:41:14.1). I don't know where we got our scales for that clinic. But we--I got and sent the big man in (inaudible 0:41:24.7) I wasn't paying as much attention as I was in the beginning. But at any rate, we set up another clinic up there and that went over big. And this death rate was a first year of life among blacks just dropped and dropped. It was sort of remarkable until the white people were talking about how remarkable it was. And it was all just because these mothers were taught how to feed these babies and how to dress them and all (inaudible 0:41:47.2) and all like that.
Then another thing we did to encourage the mothers more at the time wassomething that we called the Negro Health Week. And this Negro Health Week was 42:00begun by Booker T. Washington. He was the instigator of that--went out through the South. He saw the bad health conditions with blacks, and he just suggested that one week each spring would be set aside for just lectures and clinics and all to teach negroes how to care for themselves. So in order to inspire the mothers to attend these clinics more, we got together and planned that we would set up a certain criteria for these mothers to follow. And also in the criteria was the improvement of the babies.
And the mothers then--the mothers who reached--who reached this criteria, theattendance to that was kind of gaining of the baby and the health conditions of the baby. All of that was considered in this criteria. And the baby that won this criteria would come up to this standard--at this we would have a 43:00celebration at this Negro Health Week and they'd be given a blue ribbon with the title (inaudible 0:43:22.3) Baby." Well in order to make this bigger still, I thought I would get the mayor of the city to come down and pin this blue ribbon on the baby. So William Henry--William Harrison, I think was William Henry.
But anyway William Harrison was mayor of the city at the time, and I got anappointment with him and told him I--what our purpose was and he (inaudible 0:43:48.3) told me that he would come down and pin the blue ribbon on. So that day we had a big crowd and this was held at the time at Central High School was at 9th and Chestnut. And right behind the high school was an athletic field. 44:00Well we had this celebration out in this athletic field, and it was just jammed that day with people coming in there. Mothers with their babies--they were carrying the babies around in their arms so proudly, you know, cause the babies were so healthy and doing so well.
So Dr--Mayor Harrison came down as he promised. He was there right on time, andwe'd go through some of the ceremony and he pinned this blue ribbon on the mother of the baby and they would walk around with their baby, the blue ribbon, and you could just see them smiling and they were so happy. (laughs) Well this went on and it did so well, we ran it like that for about two or three years and the thing was doing so well finally the city just took it over from us and paid a physician--hired a pediatrician to take charge of it. Of course we were glad to give it up because the thing we wanted--we wanted it done. 45:00
MRS. WALLS: But before that, you had spread even to the county. I rememberwhen the--
WALLS: Oh yes. Well I worked with--
MRS. WALLS: Dr. Trawick--
WALLS: Dr. Trawick as a (inaudible 0:45:19.6)--
MRS. WALLS: --while they were volunteering their services, that they went intothe--the county called on them too to set up a clinic out in the county.
WALLS: No, we didn't have one of these clinics out in the county.
MRS. WALLS: It wasn't in the school. I went to a clinic in the school(inaudible 0:45:38.9).
WALLS: Well now I think we did have some of those clinics that we would meetjust about once a week, but it wasn't one that was set up for--wasn't a well-baby clinic.
MRS. WALLS: I see.
WALLS: No, that was more just a health clinic that they opened.
COX: The well-baby clinic, this got started too in the 1920s?
WALLS: Yes, that was in the '20s.
COX: Was that--looking back, would you say that that was an active decade in46:00your life? What were some of the other things that you were working at in the 1920s?
WALLS: You mentioned something (inaudible 0:46:14.8)--
MRS. WALLS: I mentioned the Waverly Hills program. Your work with the WaverlyHills--Dr. Ballard out there and then the lectures that they would bring to the physicians here. And I remember Dr. (inaudible 0:46:30.1)--
WALLS: We had very little connection for improving--keeping up to date withour medical knowledge. And we wanted to get connection to Waverly Hills--at the time was one of the three top tubercular institutions in the country. And we finally worked and got Dr. Ballard on the staff out there. He was just taking care of the--they were segregated in this hospital, and he was just over the 47:00segregated part of the hospital. But at least it gave us connection. Now he was on the staff though right along with the others and they all worked together on this staff.
But back then, Dr. Ballard on the--then we'd set up clinics here in the city,tubercular clinics. And I would attend these clinics and any doctors who wanted to could attend these clinics which helped us to improve along the line of treatment of tuberculosis. And you know back then, the tuberculosis rate was high among negroes than among whites, and they described their concern. But of course, you know, now if tuberculosis got on the (inaudible 0:47:58.4), they closed up where the (inaudible 0:48:01.1). But that is one of our methods of improving ourselves. I was always looking for any way that I could to improve 48:00myself medically--to be of better service to the community.
COX: Did you or did the Falls City Medical Association or any of the blackdoctors that you know, knew of in Louisville during the 1920s--and I ask this question because I have a special interest in the history of the university. Did you all have any association at all in any way with U of L, with the medical faculty, or--
WALLS: No, not any at all. There was--
MRS. WALLS: Until you came to doing something about Red Cross Hospital.
WALLS: Yeah. Well then--
MRS. WALLS: (Inaudible 0:48:52.4).
WALLS: --just before that was one thing we were clamoring for a connectionwith the University of Louisville. When I came here, the doctors were doing all they could then to get into the medical society and to get any kind of 49:00recognition they could to University of Louisville. And I just wanted to first note things that we did receive. We finally got them to agree that we could go up to General Hospital and work there as interns during the summer months of the school. You see the hospital was under control by the University of Louisville. At the time, this rating committee from the American Medical Association--I was telling you they closed up all the--those little medical schools and made the--those that were there come up to certain standards.
One of the requisites was that they should have sufficient hospital material totrain these doctors. Well in order for the University of Louisville to keep 50:00their doors to the medical school open, they had to have a good hospital. Well of course the General Hospital belonged to the city--there was--the city owned it. So the University of Louisville got an agreement with the city that they would run the hospital free of charge to the city to be allowed to train their students in the hospital. So the old operation of the city hospital was under the University of Louisville.
Well we knew that so we were clamoring for some opportunity to improve ourselvesmedically. So they finally agreed that during the summer vacations of the school, that we could come up to the--come up to General Hospital and work during those months so we'd have two months there at the summer that we could work. 51:00
COX: Was that also in the 1920s that that was happening?
WALLS: Yeah, I think that was in the '20s. I'm not sure of that.
MRS. WALLS: Well it went into the '30s. (Inaudible 0:51:14.1) in '35. We weregoing in and (inaudible 0:51:19.0).
COX: Were you immediately accepted into the the elite class of the blackcommunity in Louisville?
WALLS: Oh yes, yes--we was accepted--you mean socially or as a physician?
COX: Well I guess what I'm asking is socially because you were a physician.
WALLS: Oh socially, yes. But as a physician, I was accepted as a physicianas much so as blacks were accepted. But as I indicated there at the beginning, the black physician at the time didn't have too much of a standing in the city.
COX: Can you talk about that some more? Who--what was the lead occupation in52:00the black community?
WALLS: The lead occupation was the domestic at the time. The black communityat that time--cooks and butlers and chauffeurs and things of that sort.
COX: What was the occupation that would give you the most status in theblack community? You said that blacks were suspicious of black physicians. Was there any--was there another group that was especially looked up to by the black community?
MRS. WALLS: What about the ministers? (inaudible 0:52:49.7)
WALLS: Yeah, I see what you mean. Well there is the ministers. They wereaccepted because there was no competition there at all. And that--but the ministers were--they were accepted and looked up to. The teachers--they were accepted. Yeah, they were accepted and looked up to. Teachers were-- 53:00
MRS. WALLS: (Inaudible 0:53:09.2)
WALLS: Yeah, very accurate. Very (inaudible 0:53:17.6).
MRS. WALLS: (Inaudible 0:53:20.2)
WALLS: There was the Reverend Steward right here at the time. Had a paperthey printed. He was very outstanding. And those were not just outstanding (inaudible 0:53:27.0) but he--nationally (inaudible 0:53:30.0)--
MRS. WALLS: Steward was the, you know, Carolyn Blanton's father, wasn't he?
MRS. WALLS: And insurance people--there was some insurance people. MissBlanton's husband was an insurance man. The insurances were getting on their people around that time.
WALLS: Yeah, Maverick Insurance Company was starting up then. They weredoing well.
MRS. WALLS: Domestic insurance (inaudible 0:53:55.5). Those people were allamong the elite.
COX: When did you meet Mrs. Walls? Are you from Louisville?54:00
MRS. WALLS: No, I'm from Indianapolis, Indiana. I taught in Indianapolis.
WALLS: What was it about 1930 or '31?
MRS. WALLS: Around '30 or '31 we met each other. We were married in 1935.
COX: Did you--had you come to Louisville to teach school?
MRS. WALLS: No--
WALLS: No, she just came over on a visit to our (inaudible 0:54:24.4).
MRS. WALLS: I came to visit a friend of mine, this is not--
WALLS: I was kidding--said that she came over looking for me. (laughs)
MRS. WALLS: Well for the time I came into the picture, Louisville MunicipalCollege had been established. And that's an interesting story in itself. One of the teachers with whom I worked in Indianapolis--I taught in the high school there. She was--had her master's degree and was working on her doctor's degree and was offered a job with a little municipal college here. And she invited me down for a dance, and I came. I met (inaudible 0:55:05.2). We began writing with each other, but we married in 1935. 55:00
WALLS: I think that this Louisville Municipal College story's told muchbetter in that book that you have there--
MRS. WALLS: In the NAACP book?
WALLS: Yeah. That story was very well (inaudible 0:55:24.1) LouisvilleMunicipal College story. There's only one thing in there that wasn't told that I think should have been brought out. They mention the bond issue, but they didn't tell the full story on the bond issue. The city put on a bond issue for the purpose of making some improvements out at University of Louisville. The black community heard of this bond issue and realizing that they could not attend the University of Louisville, a citizens committee was organized to oppose this bond issue and they aroused the black community to the point and several whites 56:00helped also.
They were able to defeat this bond issue. Well the very next election, they cameup with a bond issue again to make some improvements to the University of Louisville. But they realizing that (inaudible 0:56:35.1) blacks opposing. They called the blacks in this time and consulted with them. And the agreement was at that time that they would use some of this money to set up this segregated college for negroes. And that's how Louisville Municipal College came into being. But from now on, I think the story in this book is much better than I could give it--a very true story. You could take it and read that.
MRS. WALLS: This book that a young man did on the history of the NAACP.57:00
COX: Okay, so this--just again for the record, this is Patrick (inaudible0:57:21.7) MA thesis, right?
MRS. WALLS: Yes, (inaudible 0:57:25.3).
COX: For Louisville--Louisville civil rights activities and Louisville. Butcivil rights activities in the Louisville branch of the National Association?
MRS. WALLS: Now we'd be glad to let you use this book for any references thatyou want because the NAACP has quite a story of its own. And the Louisville Municipal College is featured in this book. In fact it was the NAACP and their persistence in getting into the schools of Kentucky--the college graduate schools of Kentucky that closed finally (inaudible 0:58:12.9) Louisville 58:00Municipal College.
COX: We talked a lot about your--I guess indirectly about the Falls CityMedical--is it a society or association--
WALLS: Yeah, it's society.
COX: --it's a society--about your--the well-baby clinics and just yourprofessional associations in Louisville. What about I guess beginning with when you first came in with the 1920s--what about the hospital facilities? You talked about the black nurses that were supplied for the well-baby clinics through the city. Were these nurses at General Hospital? Were these General Hospital--
WALLS: No, no. They were trained at other places and Red Cross Hospital'straining a few nurses too. So that's where they were getting their nurses--where they were trained someplace else but not at the University of Louisville. Now 59:00this hospital, when of course I think you have the record there I printed was organized.
MRS. WALLS: (Inaudible 0:59:23.9).
WALLS: Yeah, (inaudible 0:59:25.4). But at any rate, when I came here theywere not doing very much. And as I said, there were several of the modern--the late physicians who came in with their late ideas, later training, and we wanted to get into Red Cross Hospital in order to improve it and bring it up--
MRS. WALLS: And have a place where--
WALLS: --where we could take our patients.
MRS. WALLS: They can do surgery in it.
WALLS: And because we were not permitted at that time to go into the WhiteHouse bill--
MRS. WALLS: And neither were the patients admitted to the other hospitals.60:00Except the General Hospital and the private hospitals were accepting negroes at that time.
COX: But General Hospital did then the whole time you practiced in Louisville?
WALLS: General Hospital would accept negroes as patients--tried asnon-paying patients--indigents. But there was no other--we couldn't practice on them then. So we were trying to improve Red Cross Hospital. Well we would try to get on the board and for some reason or another, none of this late bunch could get on the board out there to do anything. (Inaudible 1:00:58.8)--
MRS. WALLS: You talking about Red Cross Hospital?
WALLS: Talking about Red Cross Hospital now. We couldn't get on the boardout there. We saw what was going on--thought we could improve the hospital, you know, make it more modern. And we wanted to get on the board so that we could make some [dead air 1:01:14.8 to 1:01:23.3]. 61:00
COX: And so you were a Johnny-come-lately I guess to--
WALLS: I couldn't plan, I couldn't--
MRS. WALLS: Change things.
WALLS: --I couldn't (inaudible 1:01:37.0) very much because I know how hermother would hang on to her child and I realized how--when we sold our home over there. We were on Jefferson Street, we'd drive by there now and look at it. We hated to give it up being so happy that someone got in to the home who takes very good care of it. And it just tickles us to see them, you know, how well they take care of it.
MRS. WALLS: Well here was a (inaudible 1:02:02.3) doctors that wanted to makesome changes.
WALLS: Coming in and they--we didn't want to take the house cause (inaudible1:02:07.8) cause we couldn't of supported it financially at all. But of course 62:00one little (inaudible 1:02:14.0) whatever kind of art it was.
COX: Who were these--who were the people on your side and who were those onthe other side?
WALLS: Well, I couldn't name all of them. But these six new fellows thatcame in--Dr. Lattimore would tell you was on our side. Now the others where their holding positions who had been here and of course they--
MRS. WALLS: (Inaudible 1:02:39.0).
WALLS: --they'd given birth to this. Well they'd actually given birth to thehospital and they didn't have time even if they'd wanted to go away to keep up with the time they couldn't because they had to give all their time and what little money they could get to keep the doors open at this hospital. So it went on like that for years. Then the other thing was it was against us it was a 63:00philanthropy (inaudible 1:03:10.0) at the time, a woman who her husband had passed and they had made quite a bit of money. She was quite wealthy, and she considered herself a philanthropist.
So some of these people out there at the hospital go their finger in the eyesome way or another and got her attention. And she would just keep the hospital up. She'd go out there once a year and go into the meeting and find out asking, "But I know you're in debt, now. How much money you owe?" They'd tell her and she just sit down and write them a check for what they owed. Well of course--
MRS. WALLS: She was very, very fond of one of the early nurses out there.
WALLS: Nurses there.
COX: Was that--
MRS. WALLS: Miss Mary Merritt. Was Mary her first name?
WALLS: Yes, Mary Merritt's her name.
COX: Is this Miss Speed who was the--
WALLS: Miss Speed, yeah. That's who it was. I didn't know how to call her name.64:00
MRS.WALLS: My husband doesn't like to hurt people, and I doubt that he toldthe names of even these older doctors that (inaudible 1:04:13.5).
WALLS: But at any rate, what had happened as I told you I was in this healthcouncil. Well this health council, they had a secretary, a Miss Hicks, who was a very fine person. Well trained and very interested in old people, and Miss Hicks and I would work together. She saw the condition out there and saw how anxious we were--I was to improve things. So Miss Hicks would work with me and we'd talk this over and try to come to some conclusion--work out some plan that we could help conditions out there.
So one day Miss Hicks--(inaudible 1:04:56.5) about this time the Rosenwald Fundof Chicago--for years they had given money to building schoolhouses throughout 65:00the south for blacks. All of that--the philanthropy--was in education. So they had decided right about this time that they would turn their attention a little more from education then to health.
MRS. WALLS: Now this was in the early '30s.
WALLS: Yeah, they turned their attention more to health and their plan wasthat they wanted to set up a big hospital that had educational center in the north, and one that's long in the middle, and then one in the deep south--mainly just for negroes. So Miss Hicks knew of this and she told me about it and she said, "Now I know the man who--the chairman of the committee who was working on this in Chicago. And I'm going through Chicago--I'm going to Los Angeles to a meeting this summer. And I'll just stop off in Chicago. I'll write him and get an appointment with him and tell him about the setup here and see what kind of 66:00help we can get from him."
Well I said, "Okay, that's fine." Well she went to this meeting, and she got intouch with this man who was--had charge of this fund. He was tickled to death with it because they wanted a big center in this--a big health setup in the center of the country and Louisville was to be their central location. And they were glad that there was some type of an organization that already started. All they'd have to do is just build on it rather than just go out in the field and build on something new altogether. So they were anxious to get this. And he made an appointment to come down to discuss this with the hospital.
When he came down, he had everything all outlined. They were gonna builda--first they were gonna just tear down this old building and build a first-class hospital. Then they were gonna set up an operating fund where they 67:00could have a top man--head of each department. And that the black physician is to work under him until this man decided that he's capable of taking over the department. So they were going to set aside funds to take care of that. Well the man came down and presented all that. Well we had saw this and we were just up in the air cause this sounds so good--this how could this happen.
COX: (Inaudible 1:07:44.4) the physician.
WALLS: Yeah, and they got a meeting with the board and the man presentedthis to the board. They turned it down.
WALLS: Can you imagine.
COX: This was in the early '30s?
WALLS: This must have been about the early '30s.
MRS. WALLS: Yes, I measured the time from the time I married and when I wasgoing with Dr. (inaudible 1:08:05.6). You all came up to Chicago in a group to meet. And that was before my marriage. 68:00
WALLS: That must have been in the early '30s. Well that just floored us whenthat happened. So then Miss Hicks and myself, we still didn't give up though. We just kept planning. So Miss Hicks said to me one day, she said, "Well now Dr. Walls, I'll tell you but one thing we look forward to." Now we knew this hospital was a community hospital. We knew that we could go there and have them to have a general meeting with an election. And that we could get enough cause anybody in the citizen--in the city, any citizen could vote.
We could get enough people and go there and vote anybody on anything that wewanted. But if we did that, we'd have a hospital in there, but what have we got to run it with, see? Because Miss Speed was really (inaudible 1:09:04.7) the 69:00hospital was. (Inaudible 1:09:08.5) And we didn't have any money so we couldn't do that. Well that's why I brought this Miss Speed here. So finally Miss Hicks came to me and she said, being in her position and white, she could get a lot of information that I couldn't get (inaudible 1:09:27.8).
So she came to me one day and she said, "Dr. Walls, I understand that Miss Speedin her will she was willed this money, but at a certain age, the bulk of this money will be taken away from her as she'll always have anything she wants--get anything she wants to take care of her. But she can't do anything with the fund herself and told them she found out just when this began, see." Well then we sat down. "Miss Speed gets away from them, then maybe we can hit them, see?" So then 70:00we start to planning from that and we knew just when Miss Speed's going to be cut off. So at the time, there was a Reverend Hughley here who had a Sunday school association and they were quite political quite often.
Well Reverend Hughley had won election some time prior to this realizing thecondition of Red Cross Hospital out there--got the city to give $5,000 a year to Red Cross Hospital. He went to for this that the city was helping the University of Louisville, but you had the black doctors were not getting anything from it so they ought to give some about that to Red Cross. So they'd give $5,000 a year to Red Cross. So $5,000 was a whole lot of money. Then they'd gone out to the University of Louisville and the University of Louisville was giving a little service to them in their laboratory where he was doing the laboratory work for 71:00them out there.
Well then when Miss Speed--her money was cut off, we sat down and plans and wellnow we can go to them because they can't fight us now because they got this money's cut off. So I went to Dr. Level was still a city health physician. I went to Dr. Level and I said to Dr. Level what was happening. And I took him this folder that we had written up. And I said, "Now will you support us in making a claim for Red Cross Hospital?" Well Dr. Level read over this proposal. He said, "By all means I will support it." And he said, "The thing of it is the city has given me the sole responsibility for the students in this $5,000. And if I say no, they won't get a penny. And if they don't come up to this proposal 72:00(inaudible 1:12:14.6) $5,000."
Then I went out to the University of Louisville and talked with the presidentout there. We showed him the proposal and he said, "Well if I had known they weren't doing this much, I wouldn't have even given the service that I've been giving them--if I had known they were--they said they're not already doing that much?" (Inaudible 1:12:35.5), said, "No." Said, "Well if they don't support that (inaudible 1:12:38.6) we'll cut off anything that we're doing."
COX: Who was the president of the university?
WALLS: I don't remember the president's name. I thought if we tried to thinkof it the other night.
MRS. WALLS: Was it Kent?
COX: Was it--was that in the '30s?
WALLS: All of this is about the same time.
MRS. WALLS: No this is coming up towards the end of the '30s (inaudible 1:12:58.7).
COX: So it must have been Kent.
WALLS: (Inaudible 1:12:59.3) that either.
COX: It must have been Kent.
MRS. WALLS: It was Kent. I'm pretty sure.
COX: Now he died in 1943, so.
WALLS: Must have been Kent then.
MRS. WALLS: Yes, it was. I'm pretty sure of it's Dr. Kent.
COX: What changes exactly did you want to make and can you talk about that alittle bit?
WALLS: Well we wanted to improve the service in every way. We wanted to set73:00up a medical department and have a doctor--some doctor head of the medical department to see to it that all the cases were treated properly--that doctors would perform their duties properly. We wanted to see that there was a surgical department. There was a head of the surgical department. We wanted to see that the nurses--there were certain routines that and preparations that they should make. And just general care--general care of the hospital.
COX: Why in the world would anyone oppose that?
WALLS: I don't know. They didn't know--the thing of it was that I said thesedoctors who set this up--they were the older doctors and they hadn't had opportunities to keep up with the modern medicine. And they weren't able to do 74:00it themselves and I think they--this just all my idea. I feel like they didn't want us to come in and do it. It would show them up some.
MRS. WALLS: And then too, this time too many of those older doctors had diedand their widows were still--
WALLS: Yeah, and the widows had--
MRS. WALLS: --and all of those widows were on the board--
WALLS: --yeah, and they were holding up for it--
MRS. WALLS: --and they knew the struggle that their--they and their husbandshad gone through--
WALLS: --and they really had struggled because these widows, they'd walk thestreets with little begging to give money to run that hospital out there. They really worked hard. It was a (inaudible 1:14:46), and they had really sacrificed. And the thing of it is, not only were they really not wanting out of it, we would have done extra things to have honored them all the more. But of course, they couldn't see that. Cause (inaudible 1:14:59.8) we wanted--we just wanted to improve the hospital set up.
MRS. WALLS: Now over a period of several years, these younger doctors and75:00other doctors had come into the community too at this time. They would meet and sit down and draw up certain of the criteria for the hospital. And this is a report of their findings now. Remember they used to meet in our basement and meet in other places. Now we'll let you use that too and that will tell you what some of the improvements they expected to make.
COX: Could I borrow this and make a copy?
MRS. WALLS: Yes.
WALLS: Yes, yes.
COX: Okay, and I'll send it back to you.
MRS. WALLS: And it'll save him, the doctor, from having to give you thatentire story cause it's all written up in the final report and that's the report that you gave to Dr. Levels and to Dr. Kent out at the university.
COX: So this is--this is actually this report originated as it says herefrom the Hospital Committee of the Falls City Medical Society. 76:00
WALLS: Yeah, yeah.
MRS. WALLS: That's right.
COX: Where would, I was just curious, where would I go if I wanted to findall the records of the Falls City Medical Society?
WALLS: There's no way you could find them.
COX: They're just gone?
WALLS: Yeah, just gone.
MRS. WALLS: Well they met from place to place.
WALLS: Yeah, there were no regular meetings. They used to meet round atdifferent homes and they'd have a book and then this man would be secretary this year. And next year, we'd elect another secretary and by that time, this man maybe he'd lost his book or something.
MRS. WALLS: And you might not have had that had it not been for the fact thatI am one of these collectors.
WALLS: Yeah, we wouldn't have had this but my wife--I didn't know it wasaround here (inaudible 1:16:42.1).
MRS. WALLS: But I saved it because I saved clippings. I have a whole lot ofother things to show you (inaudible 1:16:48.1) and what they've done in the community, just from clipping newspaper articles and from minutes and like that, see.
WALLS: But now I didn't--there's just a little more to this. I didn't finishthis. After I got the agreement from the University of Louisville, from Dr. Level, I called a meeting of the--got a meeting with the board--the hospital 77:00board. And we met at the chairman of the board--we met at his home. And I asked Dr. Level would he come. And I asked the president of the university would he come--"I'll send a representative." But at this meeting, they both were there. And Dr. Level made the speech to them, and said--told them that--
MRS. WALLS: This is to the board of--
WALLS: --to the board.
MRS. WALLS: Red Cross Hospital (Inaudible 1:17:36.5)
WALLS: (Inaudible 1:17:36.5). And told them if they didn't meet therequirements of this proposal that they would cut off this assistance to the hospital. Of course they agreed to it immediately because they saw they couldn't go without it. Then we got in and began making the improvements, and we in a very short while--we had the hospital up to where that this same rating committee that I was telling you--the American Medical Association that rated the colleges and the hospitals, within a few years, we were rated "A" among them.
The first time they visited us, they saw what we were doing. And saw what our78:00plans were, and they gave us a provisional "A" rating. And a man said, "Now I'm giving you this. I'll be back next year." They usually come around every three years, I think. But he said, "Now in this provisional rating, I'll be back next year. And if this is done, why then I'll give you a straight "A" rating. But if it isn't, why then the rating will be taken away from you." But when he came back, they gave us a straight "A" rating.
MRS. WALLS: Had the Houston Baker come in?
WALLS: Yeah, we'd gotten the--by that time, we had gotten an--
MRS. WALLS: Administrator.
WALLS: --an administrator. We got--I knew this Houston Baker who was a veryfine person.
MRS. WALLS: Was it you who told us that somebody had been to Washington and(inaudible 1:19:00.0) Baker's scrapbook--
COX: Yeah, I was--yeah, that was Tom, who you must have talked to on thephone. And I was up there with him and he--
MRS. WALLS: He's the one who told me that--
WALLS: But he was a--he was in business administration at the high school.And I went over there and talked with him and encouraged him to come on and take 79:00this position. Now of course he'd had no training in hospitals--
MRS. WALLS: This is Houston Baker right here.
WALLS: He had no training in hospital administration, so we sent him away tostudy while--after we'd hired him. We sent him away--he went to Chicago and studied hospital administration. And he made a very nice administrator out there until he left. I really just went to improving this hospital right off.
COX: When you came here in the 1920s and through the '20s and even into the'30s when you were doing all these things that--the baby clinic and then the hospital and all this. I guess, I think one of the--at least in beginning this 80:00project on black history and generally any sort of studying ethnic groups, I think people tend to assume that blacks are a homogenous group and that there are certain black leaders that can snap their fingers--
WALLS: And everybody moves.
COX: --and everybody jumps.
COX: Well I don't think that's true.
WALLS: No, no, it isn't. That isn't true.
MRS. WALLS: (laughs) Same just like all other people.
COX: Who were the black leaders in Louisville? What was the faction, I guessis the word, that you thought were the most responsible and had the best ideas?
WALLS: Well those who was kind of in the area of what you might considerleadership were this Dr. Lattimore was mentioned but--
MRS. WALLS: J.A.C. Lattimore.
WALLS: Yeah, J.A.C. Lattimore. William Warley who was a newspaper man. Nowthat's another thing. You got to know a lot about the Louisville Leader. But Mr. Warley's people, I doubt whether you'd be able to--you may not be able to--shouldn't doubt it. But you may not be able to get much on his paper because he's passed, and I don't think he has any people here. Now he has a daughter--I 81:00think she was in Los Angeles. But this Warley's paper which is known as the Louisville News--Warley was quite a writer.
He was a much better writer than Mr. Cole, and his paper was really outstandingamong blacks in the city. If you could get anything on his paper, that would be very good. Now Cole was very good. He was all right. And he was a writer. But Warley was the man who put the case--had the case to--carried this case to Supreme Court on housing segregation in the city of Louisville.
MRS. WALLS: That was back in 1917.
WALLS: 1917 when the case was finally heard.82:00
COX: Was there a rivalry between Cole and Warley?
WALLS: No, I think somebody made that statement. But there wasn't. There wasnot any (inaudible 1:22:18.2). They were really were friends. Now sometimes they might get into some argument--editorial snapping or something. But they were not enemies, really. They were really friends. I know that because I associated with both of them very closely.
COX: Who were the other black leaders that you admired?
WALLS: Well Warley, Cole, Lattimore--
MRS. WALLS: Among the insurance people were--
MRS. WALLS: Hall--
WALLS: --Mr. Hall, who began--he was the founder of this Mammoth InsuranceCompany. His daughter is working over there now. She's--and her son is vice--is president, isn't he?
MRS. WALLS: Julius.
WALLS: Yeah. The Steward--Reverend Steward--he was one of--
MRS. WALLS: Parish--
WALLS: Reverend Parish.
MRS. WALLS: They were among the older (inaudible 1:23:12.0). Parish was one ofthe older (inaudible 1:23:13.9).
COX: What were some--were there--there must have been just as you were83:00describing with the Red Cross Hospital, differences of opinion between the older and the younger leaders. Does that ring any bells with you or bring anything to mind?
WALLS: No (inaudible 1:23:36.2)--
MRS. WALLS: No, I--the differences that he has pointed out to you that werewith the people who were the originators of Red Cross Hospital. But there wasn't any real bad feeling among them because--
WALLS: No, no. Was not any bad feelings. (Inaudible 1:23:59.3)
MRS. WALLS: We had an auxiliary and these same widows that we talked about, alongtime women's auxiliary to the Falls City Medical Association. We had a very good relationship. The daughter of the man who was the first--was the--had the 84:00medical school, Mr.--Dr.--
MRS. WALLS: Fitzbutler's--his daughter was among the--one of thecontemporaries of Mrs. Weatherby and some of those older physician's widows. And we all had very good--we helped them along with us in our organization and respected them and there was no bad feeling there at all. And they stood out rather prominently and the (inaudible 1:24:44.2) too. And then there were the doctors like Dr. Hammonds was a very popular physician in the city. All these younger doctors I think took a very elite social position in the city, don't you think Doctor?
COX: So it was as much a generation gap if it was anything at all. Any sort of--85:00
MRS. WALLS: Yes, it could have been that or--there was a very--very goodrelationship, I thought, among them.
WALLS: In fact I had no trouble with any kind of relationship--a generationgap or anything else. (laughter) I was one of those that would just butt on in to anything like I butted in to that health council organization. That going into something that I'd be afraid maybe, but I'd go on in anyway. Go ahead and trembling, but I'd go. It's just something in me that just make me go on even if I'm frightened at it.
MRS. WALLS: Then there were some teachers too. Now they take Mr. Atwood Wilsonwho was principal at Central High School--he stood out too. He finally was made a member of the library board--the City Library Board. 86:00
WALLS: That was a history of that library board that might be interested in that.
MRS. WALLS: And then the--there was the--there were the Clements who livedhere at that time--
WALLS: Oh yes, that was the bishop, George C. Clement. He was quiteoutstanding around here.
MRS. WALLS: Now he was of the older generation, while his son, Dr. RufusClement, was the first president of the local municipal college.
WALLS: First dean.
MRS. WALLS: A dean, not the president. He was dean of the college.
COX: What about--again I guess you can't pigeonhole everybody here. But whatabout the politics that you remember of the black community?
MRS. WALLS: Yes, there were the Porters too.
WALLS: Yeah, A.D. Porter, he was quite outstanding.
MRS. WALLS: Yes, he was quite outstanding.
WALLS: Yeah, the father of Woodford Porter who was the--
MRS. WALLS: And that now there--that's another story in itself--the politicalaspect of--
COX: Do you remember anything at all except what was I guess suppose in the87:00newspaper about the Lincoln Party?
WALLS: Oh yes, I know all about the organization of that--why it wasorganized. The blacks weren't getting--only thing they were getting would be that these people in the--out in the slum areas, they were allowed to operate, you know, and do whatever they want. That's all--but anything that's upgrading anyway, we weren't getting anything. And William Warley was the one who started all of this. He's the backbone of that Lincoln Party was this William Warley.
They went with a committee to talk with some of the political leaders at thetime. There were some things that they--considerations that they wanted for blacks. And you know we got no consideration at all. And Warley was one of these kind of fiery type persons. So he finally said, "Well if you don't so-and-so, we're gonna fight you to the last," and he told them said, "well I don't mind 88:00your findings. We'll go around and give the preachers to go to these to black churches and give the preachers $50. And we can control them just the same--you can't hurt us." Well--
MRS. WALLS: Warley's the one who had the paper.
WALLS: Yeah, he's yeah. The one with the paper, the Louisville News. Wellthey realized that the man was probably telling the truth. (laughs) So they came back and tried to figure out some way to overcome this and to defeat the party cause they wouldn't give them any consideration. So that's why the--how this Lincoln Party was born. They felt like at that time negroes were all Republicans. And if you were just--if you were with the Democrats, you were just nothing. They just felt like coming to your home and shooting you if you were a Democrat. So they felt like they couldn't just go over to the Democratic Party. 89:00
So what they would do, they would organize this neutral party here in themiddle. And that would draw enough negro votes away from them so that they would lose and the Democrats would win, see--that was their hope. But of course the Republicans at that time, they had to--(inaudible 1:29:39.1) was--they just turned the Republican Party over to him seriously. They didn't run it. And whatever he wanted to do with it, this city would just (inaudible 1:29:49.4) and let him do it. So he set up a fight against him that just ruined those fellows.
And the night of the election and they won, he someway another stimulated theblack community down there whether they went around to this William Warley's place of business over there and broke all the windows out of his place. This 90:00Porter, A.D. Porter was who Woodford Porter's father. His office was right across the street from where my office was. And I saw them over there--kids over there throwing rocks, breaking the windows out. And they had to call the police--ambulance had to come--patrol rather--had to come get them to take them home. All because they was supporting this Lincoln Party.
COX: So this was a Republican political boss--
MRS. WALLS: Searcy.
COX: Searcy. He was white?
WALLS: Yeah, he was white.
COX: And he was just the--sort of the boss of the whole party?
WALLS: Yeah, he was the boss. And the whole--the city just allowed him--seehe came in when the Republican Party was down very low. And he came in and some 91:00way or another he was able to turn things around and get in a Republican mayor. Then they just--after that they just turned everything over to him. He could just do whatever he wanted. He was really a (inaudible 1:31:19.9) a political boss. He was really one.
MRS. WALLS: But there was political bosses then in many places.
WALLS: Oh yes. Daley who just passed was there in Chicago.
COX: So until--this was in the Lincoln Party, I guess, in the early '20s?
COX: Until that time at least, most of the blacks in Louisville had beenpretty solid Republicans?
WALLS: Solid Republicans, yeah.
COX: When did you--maybe you want to skip over this question and answer this--
[Dead air 1:31:53.8 to 1:32:02.0]
MRS. WALLS: That the Ku Klux Klan took over the Republican Party in Indiana.92:00And I remember negroes then began to turn towards the Democratic Party. They too had had some of the feeling that originally--that you just couldn't be a Democrat. But after the Ku Klux Klan took the reins in the Republican Party in Indiana, the negroes switched to the Democratic Party. I remember when my father changed his registration from Democrat to--from Republican to Democrat. Now I don't know, you'd have to talk about what--
WALLS: The change here came at the time the change came all over the UnitedStates when Roosevelt got in. I don't know what he was quite a powerful man as you know. He just--he was a god in a way with negroes and all over the country negroes just turned Democrat. So since then--now you're looked down on as being a Republican, now. (laughter) 93:00
COX: Yeah. When did you start to notice--talking about changes--when did youstart to notice and what were some of the first changes in--I guess you could say race relations within the medical profession. You know we talked earlier about the integration of the society.
WALLS: The relations--race relations in the medical society among thedoctors themselves--I couldn't say they've ever been bad. Now they could have been worse then I realized because back at the beginning, we just had no contacts with them. But as we would have contact with them--as our contact grew, we found that many of them seemed to be glad to get contact with us. When we first went into the medical society, the president would stand at the door until the meeting would start--just any impact after we'd would come in and stand there and shake his hand and welcome him in.
I know that happened because I attended the meetings regular when it first94:00opened--I first joined. And they were just happy to get us in. And even before we got in, there were a group of younger white doctors--a large number who wanted us in because the thing that they did--they'd been trying to get the negro and the white doctors--these younger ones--were trying to get them to allow the black doctors to come in. And they couldn't succeed. So one night I guess--I don't know whether they planned this or what--but it happened--this is what was told to me by one of the younger white doctors. That they had--there was a meeting one night of the white medical--the Jefferson County Medical Society where that to a very few of these old doctors there of the doctors who were against integrating.
But the large number of the liberal ones who wanted to integrate. So they just95:00put--put out--put the motion over and voted to integrate that night. Well, of course, naturally that was illegal--was changing the constitution--any constitution has to be--all the members have to be notified at least a month before you vote. But they just did it that night and voted us in, and they came back and told us they had voted us in. But these died in the heart segregationists got a lawyer and came in and annulled what they'd done. So I was just telling that to show that there was a large group of them that wanted us in long before we got in.
COX: When was that that they voted you in then it was no good (inaudible 1:36:03.9)?
WALLS: I'm just terrible on dates. But that was at least--that was justabout--that wasn't very long before we actually got in. It was just about--and I think we looked up something (inaudible 1:36:17.8) society when we first went in. But this was probably just about--not more than three years before we 96:00actually got in.
MRS. WALLS: Now that would involve too getting into the medical society. Wouldinvolve the Tachau that you mentioned, the Tachaus.
WALLS: Yeah, if you want to, I could go and visit there to discuss how wegot in.
MRS. WALLS: (Inaudible 1:36:41.2) try to find them.
COX: Sure, sure.
WALLS: Well at any rate, that happened. And at the time, the Red CrossHospital was going on all right then. And we had some white members of our board. And one of them was Charles Tachau. Not this one here, but his father.
WALLS: I say late Charles Tachau. And he--I was talking to him one day inthe middle of a board--I'd see him at board meetings. And we brought this up and he just said this to me, he said, "Oh they can't do that. They can't do that." And we went on, I said to myself, well they did do that. I went on and way after 97:00a while, I don't know how long afterwards, he called me up one day and he said, "Dr. Walls, do you think the medical society would be willing to bring suit against Jefferson County Medical Society to force them to admit you?" I said, "Oh well sure they would be. They'll do anything to get in." And he said--well he had his son, Charles, who you know--who you spoke to. He was then with--was this (inaudible 1:38:10.8)?
MRS. WALLS: Brown?
COX: Eldridge, Brown (inaudible 1:38:13.0).
WALLS: It's Brown. (inaudible 1:38:13.6) Brown. Well he was with them, andhe got his son to make some investigations and see if a suit could be brought 98:00and--a successful suit could be brought. Well his--Charles made some investigation and came back and told his father that he felt like he couldn't be in the suit. So then Charles Tachau, the late Charles Tachau, asked them--the firms what they would charge to carry this case all the way to Supreme Court if necessary. With different fees at different stages as you'd go on. And I think the final stage was $12,000 that they would charge.
Well Charles Tachau, the late Charles Tachau, went around among his friends andhad them to pledge money for this. And what he put in and when he got the 99:00$12,000 pledged, then he called me up and said, "Dr. Walls, have you talked with them and will they--are they willing to bring suit?" I said, "Yes." I said, "How much is it gonna cost them?" He said, "Isn't gonna cost anything. I raised the money." And I said, "Well that's fine." And I went back that night to the Falls City and told them that he had made preparations for this suit. He'd had his son--he told me he paid his son $100 to make this investigation. He paid that himself, Charles Tachau did.
And the medical society when I told them, they said, "Well how much is it gonnacost?" I said, "Nothing." And they said, "Oh we want to pay something. We don't want anybody"--that's the Medical--Falls City, --"we don't want somebody doing something for us. We don't pay anything." I said, "Well now he told me there's 100:00nothing to pay. We can talk to him and see." Well they kicked it around there in the Falls City for a while. So finally somebody made the suggestion that if we were to hire a black lawyer to work with them and we'd pay the black lawyer--Falls City wanted to feel they paid something for this, you know.
WALLS: So I said, "Well I'll go back and ask him would that work." So I gotin touch with Tachau and told him what they wanted to do with it. Tachau said, "Well it sounds to me like that ought to be all right." Said, "But you know lawyers, I'll have to talk with them see what they think about it." So he talked with them and they willingly agreed to it. They thought it would sound better since it was blacks suing to have a black lawyer in there, see--like we'd feel better doing it. So they were anxious to have a black lawyer. And we were to pay him so then they chose Shobe, attorney Shobe, who is the jurist now. 101:00
MRS. WALLS: He was a young lawyer--
WALLS: He was a young lawyer then. They suggested him. And I went to Shobeand Shobe agreed to serve. And they called a meeting of the board of the Jefferson County Medical Society. And when they went to the board, they had their plan made out and they had--they let Shobe present their plan. He was the black lawyer and there's a black so-and-so. They let Shobe present the plan. Well and they told him, said, "We know we hope not to sue. All we want is (inaudible 1:42:05.5), all they want is to get in the society. But we have to sue, we've made preparations already to go all the way to the Supreme Court." 102:00
Well the way they presented it, they saw they had no chance to win. So theysaid, "Well ask them not to bring suit. Give us about a couple of months to get together and think this over and make plans." So we told them, "Okay, we didn't care. We've been waiting all this time. We'll wait a few more months--not gonna hurt. All we want to do is get in." So while we were waiting, the thing they did--they had a meeting. And in their constitution was the word "white only"--the members would be white only.
So they'd had a meeting and had that "white only" stricken from theconstitution. And they had gone out and instead of coming back to us telling us that it's okay--they didn't come back to us, but they went and found a black doctor and talked him into making an application and got him to make an application. And he made an application, and of course they accepted him right off.
MRS. WALLS: Now I have the little article.103:00
WALLS: Then we didn't bring any the suit then, because we saw, you know, hewas in and the rest of us applied. And some of them asked us--suggested to us that we wouldn't mention the fact that it--a suit had been threatened because if they do it, they wanted to feel like they did it themselves--we never did mention it.
MRS. WALLS: That was--I have here a letter that the Jefferson County MedicalSociety sent to Dr. J. H. Walls on December 22, 1953 telling him that "on behalf of the total Jefferson County Medical Society, I wish to welcome you into the membership. It gives me great pleasure to extend to you the rights, honors, and privileges contained in being a member." And that was signed by Dr. Arthur T. Hurst who was then president of the Jefferson County Medical Association. 104:00
But now the little newspaper article that announced this was headed--this cameout in the Courier-Journal, "Medical Group Here Admits Five Negroes," but, "The Jefferson County Medical Society which last month admitted its first negro member," and that was Dr. Rabb, that was in November 1953, "accepted five more negro doctors in its membership last night." And they named the five. And Johnny was Dr. J. H. Walls, and Dr. J. B. Bell, Dr. Gerald Hart, Dr. E. M. Hubbard, and Dr. Grace James--was that five? Dr. Grace James.
COX: Maybe both of you can respond some to this. If you were doing this oralhistory project on blacks in Louisville, who are some of the people that you would interview? 105:00
MRS. WALLS: You mean on the total history or just the medical--
COX: On the total history or the medical or--
WALLS: I'd say Abbie Clement. Have you interviewed her?
MRS. WALLS: Yes, Mrs. Abbie--
WALLS: Mrs. Abbie Clement Jackson. She's at 2303 Westchester. Her telephonenumber is 778-1534.
MRS. WALLS: But now along with Mrs. Jackson is the widow of Dr. Clement whowas the first dean--
WALLS: First dean, he lived in the house there together.
MRS. WALLS: --and they're together in the house.
WALLS: She's right down there--all right down. And then Mrs. Pearl Clement--
MRS. WALLS: Her name is Mrs. Pearl Clement. Same telephone number and all.
WALLS: Same number and all that.
MRS. WALLS: Now Mrs. Pearl Clement could give you dates perhaps better thanAbbie could. Cause Abbie was a sister to Dr. Clement.
WALLS: Abbie's the daughter of this Bishop Clement who very active around here--
COX: Oh, I see.106:00
WALLS: So she was the sister of this first dean out there at the LouisvilleMunicipal College.
MRS. WALLS: Now--
WALLS: Her mother was the first black woman--first and only black womanthat's ever been named Mother of the Year. (inaudible 1:46:40.6)
MRS. WALLS: The state of the--I mean of the--
WALLS: Whole United States.
MRS. WALLS: Whole United States.
WALLS: She was the Mother of the Year.
MRS. WALLS: This is Emma Clarissa Clement.
WALLS: And this is --that's Abbie Clement's mother. She's the only blackwoman that's ever been named Mother of the Year.
MRS. WALLS: And she was feted very, very much during that year. Because she--
WALLS: Yeah, all of that, all over the country.
MRS. WALLS: About seven sons, I guess. And seven children, all of whom werecollege trained--
WALLS: All of her children college trained--
MRS. WALLS: --and among them was Rufus Clement who was the dean and AbbieClement herself was a very outstanding church woman. She--
WALLS: --yes, she's had all the positions with the churches. Been all overthe world.
MRS. WALLS: And then she has a son who--one of whom just died just about a107:00month ago. Who was a teacher at West Virginia State College, and she's had a couple of daughters who were college professors. So the Clement family has a rich history of this community, too.
WALLS: Now this Mrs. Blanton could--
MRS. WALLS: Yes, Mrs. Carolyn Blanton.
WALLS: --Carolyn Blanton. She could give you that--her father was thisReverend Steward I was telling you about--was one of the leading negroes at the time I came here.
COX: That's Steward who published the American Baptist--
WALLS: Yes, yeah. This Carolyn Blanton is his daughter.
MRS. WALLS: Now C.H. Parrish has a lot of written history.
WALLS: Yeah, you ought get a lot of C.H. Parrish.
MRS. WALLS: You'll get--right there at the university. And he--causeI--whenever I needed dates--only one reason I didn't hang on to dates, I always 108:00knew I could turn to C.H. Parrish for dates. Now let's see--just so many of these people are gone now. I was thinking of the people who--well (inaudible 1:48:36.2) Johnson, of course.
WALLS: Well you know about (inaudible 1:48:38.7) Johnson.
MRS. WALLS: And I was thinking of the people who pressed that education case.Now that's in the NAACP report too, and it's very well written up.
MRS. WALLS: Of the story of how the schools of the state finally opened up(inaudible 1:48:57.5). Well people, I think other people are gone now for the most part. And not too many of them left. So don't postpone (inaudible 1:49:13.8). We're all getting old and that (inaudible 1:49:16.7).
WALLS: I was handed, and I was trying to think of some--anything else I can109:00think of. The history of blacks that might be interesting. (Inaudible 1:49:31.5) something there that they hadn't discussed.
MRS. WALLS: No, not sports. Health activities--
WALLS: I mean then anyway.
MRS. WALLS: Well, the NAACP now--
WALLS: Yeah, that's all in that, yeah.
MRS. WALLS: Every bit of that's in there. The opening up of the employment inthe supermarkets here.
WALLS: I think that's in there too, isn't it?
MRS. WALLS: Bound up in that. He and Dr. Rabb and the (inaudible 1:49:56.7) Stout.
WALLS: I don't think he discussed pulling that opening up to thesupermarkets (inaudible 1:50:02.8)
MRS. WALLS: The small things about it maybe (inaudible 1:50:06.6).
WALLS: Maybe you could discuss that.
MRS. WALLS: Yes, you could because that is an interesting story, and I thinkyou ought to tell it. How it got started. See my husband had been on the 110:00executive committee of the NAACP--when I met him he was on the executive committee--and stayed on it for years.
WALLS: And they--I was on the legal committee and we served on that forquite a while on several suits. Then they wanted to be on the what they call the labor and the industry committee. I had such a good committee working in the legal (inaudible 1:50:54.8) I said to them I would not accept it if they (inaudible 1:51:00.0) full committee (inaudible 1:51:03.1) so they agreed to do it. And the committee was--I was chairman with doctors--Dr. Rabb and Dr. (inaudible 1:51:10.4) Mr. Stout.
We tackled the first job was the supermarkets. We didn't see any checkers or111:00anybody in the supermarkets. And we went around and made some investigations and we got over to about 15 men who had been working for Kroger and A&P for the shortest length of time of this group that we got over--was eight years work. And the longest length of time was 15 years. And every one of them were in the same positions as when they started--drawing the same salary as when they started. Well we got these together on a meeting.
Then the--we decided to do something about this if we could. Right at the time,they were beginning a building a Kroger. They was putting up a new building at 22nd and Jefferson. Well we realized that that was--they'd have to depend on at 112:00least 75 percent of their patronage from the black neighborhood. So we figured that would be a good place to strike them with--hit them with a strike. So I went to the NAACP and I asked them could we organize for a strike. And of course, they all agreed. We decided that we would strike this store--tell them that we were gonna picket this store that they were just opening.
I went around--I visited--they had what they called a preacher and deacon'smeeting at 18th and Chestnut. They meet there every Monday morning, and I figured I'd get in touch with most of the preachers there. So I had been there before for different things and they had always--they knew then they would allow 113:00me to make my plea whatever I wanted without any question. So I went in and they gave me permission to make a talk to them. And I asked them--told them what our plan was--that we wanted to picket Kroger at 22nd and Jefferson when they opened up. And I was coming--of course we wanted their support.
And by request was that we would noti--we would start out picketing on a Mondaymorning. But we'd notify them the Sunday before and ask them would they give about a five minutes talk to their congregations supporting our project. And every one of them readily admitted that they would. Then the Methodist ministers, they met at the library, and I went to them with the same proposition, and they agreed. Then we sat down and planned that we would get out 114:00some pamphlets and get the Boy Scouts, a little something called relations boys, to distribute these pamphlets around in the neighborhood supporting our boycott of this store.
Then the--I didn't want to talk with just a manager. I wanted to talk with someof the higher ups. So I called the Kroger company and the Harris when they have--I think they called them a vice president that has charge of say several states. This particular man--he had charge of Kentucky, Tennessee, Indiana, Ohio, and maybe one or two other states. But I know there was (inaudible 1:55:05.3). So I asked him when was he be in the city and asked him would he make an appointment and call me when he was in the city. Well when he came in, they did.
They called him, and my committee--we went to him and told him what we wanted115:00and told him what we had done. We'd planned to boycott the store and how we--I let him know what we had done. The preachers were committed to walk with us. And he said, "Now we don't want to strike. We want to do everything we can for you to prosper. But still, we want some of our people working, and we wanted this work." And we got through talking with him, he said, "Well now, Dr. Walls, you all just send us somebody. We'll put them on and whatever they're capable of doing."
So we said, "Well we're busy." I said, "I'm a physician and I'm busy, and Dr.Rabb's a physician and Mr. Scott's--doubt--he's a schoolteacher." I said, "You have a personnel manager here and you can be a personnel department. You can let them--they can find the whites, they can the blacks just as well." So he called 116:00his personnel director in and gave him the instructions right then to get out and find some negroes and put them in--they've already in training down at this place to open it up. They had the workers in there (inaudible 1:56:34.6) I guess maybe a couple of weeks training. They were already in training. And the next week we went by there and the store was full of blacks. (laughs)
COX: When was that and what was the date when this happened? 19-
MRS. WALLS: Well that was in the--sometime in the '50s I'm pretty sure now. Wecan find that date for you cause I can always find out when the store opened up there at 22nd--and it may be--probably is listed in here.
WALLS: That's where that--when that store--
MRS. WALLS: This--you come across the store.
WALLS: --you could call the store and ask when they opened.
MRS. WALLS: Yes, but this--
WALLS: That's when it was when this Kroger store at 22nd and Jefferson. Nowas soon as we finish with them, then we went to the A&P. They were doing the same thing. These men I was telling you we called in, they were working for 117:00Kroger and A&P. So I got a meeting with this man. I remember him very well. His name was Jay, this vice president. And he came in town, this was Mr. Jay. So the minute I walked in to the office, he said, "Dr. Walls, you don't have to sell me any NAACP cause I'm already a member." I said, "Well that's good. Then we just (inaudible 1:57:53.9) business now."
So we gave him--presented our opposition. But what we went to him for--there wasa store--the A&P had a store on 20th Street between Dumesnil and the next street north of that--Virginia Avenue.
MRS. WALLS: Virginia Avenue.
WALLS: Dumesnil and Virginia Avenue. And that was practically all negroes118:00around there. So the thing we went to him was to upgrade some negroes in that store--that's what we were asking him. So he said, "Dr. Walls, I'd rather not do that." He said, "Now I could go there--all of those people live way away from that place, and they'd be glad to be transferred someplace else. I could go in there and just take everybody out of there and put in all blacks. They'd be glad to leave to get close to home too. But I don't want to do it like that. I want to be able for anybody who comes in wherever a job is open--if I feel that person is bad, send them there.
Well I--if we send them to our guys, that's just what everything we want. Weweren't asking for this cause we felt like that was maybe all we could get, but we'd rather have your (inaudible 1:59:11.1) all together." He said, "But now give me about a couple of weeks to make some investigation. I want to read up 119:00and then talk around to see if there's anything against that idea." So sure enough, in about a couple of weeks, he called me and we went down and he said to us, he said, "Gentlemen, I have looked everywhere I could think of. I've talked with everybody I felt like might have some information. I haven't found anything or anybody who knew anything about any kind of segregated policy--not anywhere."
He said, "Now it looks as though they've just been doing this out of custom." Hesaid, "Now and I'm not gonna do that. I'm gonna just whoever comes in--well there's a place open if it's in the Highlands, St. Matthews, wherever it is. I'm gonna send them." We said, "Well glory to you. That's just what we want." And that's what he started to do and that then. So the store is opening up to them, see. Now they got managers in the stores, any number of them, but that was 120:00all--and in the meantime, there was another big project down at this damn--locking damn--
MRS. WALLS: It came just before the--you find it listed in here too.
MRS. WALLS: It came before the Kroger stores--the superstores.
WALLS: All right, well I think (inaudible 2:00:37.5) first. But at any rate,whichever kind of came first, this was a--supposed to have been a $40 million job repairing the locks down there at 18th and the river. And of course we knew at that time, the government--they had a provision in their contracts for no segregation in the hiring. So we got the information that a lot of negroes had been down there and they turned them away and said that they weren't hiring anyone.
And some of them had felt like that--and felt--they felt pretty sure that somewhites had gone in after them and were hired, see. So then the--we called--I got 121:00in touch with the national labor man from the NAACP in Washington. His name was Herbert Hill, wasn't it?
MRS. WALLS: Yes.
WALLS: And he came down to work with us on this. And when he came here, wehad these (inaudible 2:01:43.9) we'd ride around in except for these men who had been down there and when they had applied, were refused work. And we had a meeting in my basement over there at home on Jefferson Street and talked with them and they told us that they felt like what's happening--they felt pretty sure that they were given the runaround and they were hiring these whites.
So Herbert Hill handed them blanks to fill out. He said, "Now I want all of youto fill out these blanks in your own handwriting without any help from anybody 122:00and say just what you saw. Just exactly what you feel about it--what you saw in your own words, in your own handwriting. And return that to Dr. Walls, he can send--