KEN CHUMBLEY: This is Ken Chumbley of the University of Louisville Archives. Thedate is August the seventeenth. I am interviewing this morning, Mr. Frank Moorman, about his experiences as a businessman in the old Walnut Street area. Mr. Moorman, let's begin just with your comments on your early life: your family, your father and mother, and the like.
FRANK MOORMAN: Well, my mother was Laura Simmons Moorman. My father, TalMoorman, son of Dora and Della Moorman. They were born and reared in Daviess 1:00County. Dora and Della Moorman purchased 1,000 acres of land in Daviess County, six years out of slavery. KC: Is that right?
KC: They had been slaves, then?
FM: They had been slaves.
KC: In Owensboro?
FM: In Owensboro. They gave each child, as it states in that magazine, a farm,stable, barn, plow, and team, to farm with. That is how people lived in those 2:00days. I've often thought of my grandfather, how successful he was in Daviess County. There was no outlet, news-wise, to say how important or how great he was in having this land surveyed, to divide and give each one a portion of the land and then to build these houses.
He built a school there, in Buckhorn. Its location is six miles out ofOwensboro. He built the school; they used school for a church for the community. 3:00That was on Sunday, of course, and through the week it was used as a public school for the community.
KC: Tell me again your grandfather's name.
FM: Dora, D-O-R-A, Dora Moorman, and his wife was named Della, D-E-L-L-A. Doraand Della Moorman.
KC: Was land expensive in their day?
FM: I don't know just how expensive the land was, but it always puzzled me onhow he got the money to buy the land. Even if it was three dollars an acre, 4:00where'd he get the three thousand dollars?
KC: Having been out of slavery for only six years.
FM: Six years out of slavery.
KC: Did you ever find out?
FM: I couldn't pursue that because all of his sons and wife, and before I'dbecome old enough to go into it, like I would have loved to go into it, they had passed and most of the older people had passed. But some of the homes that he built with the aid of some of the neighbors are still standing.
KC: And this was in Buckhorn?
FM: Buckhorn, Kentucky, out from Utica. Near Utica, U-T-I-C-A. We've got to get5:00back to my father and mother, that was my grandfather. My father and mother, Tal and Laura died -- Tal died first and two years later Mother died. I was two, my brother was four.
KC: There was just two of you in the family then?
FM: It was just the two boys.
KC: Just the two boys?
FM: That's right. My grandmother, Louise Simmons, reared us. When he becameeighteen, he went to Evansville. He sold his land out in the country and went to 6:00Evansville. He was a barber. He had learned the barber trade. He engaged in barbering and he was a barber, and later on bought the place that the barbershop was and built a dispensary. So he was head, he was a big businessman there. Owned the liquor stores on the corner and owned the barber shop. That's at an early age.
KC: This is your brother?
FM: That's my brother.
KC: Was that Evansville, Indiana?
FM: Evansville, Indiana, on Lincoln Avenue. The most popular street there. I was7:00married to my first wife, was Cora Moorman, the mother of Frank Moorman, Junior. We separated after two or three years. I came to Louisville with Dr. White and had worked for him there in Owensboro all those years until I became a man, and then he moved to Louisville and sent for me. I came to Louisville and worked with him here, just as I did in Owensboro. Later his health went bad, and I, 8:00with McDonald bought the drugstore from Dr. White.
KC: To back up just a moment or two: in Owensboro, growing up, as a young man,where did you go to school?
FM: I went to Western high School. My job was at the drugstore cleaning up ofmornings and preparing everything for the day, on the soda fountain and going to school. Coming back from school, [I'd] get on my bicycle and deliver the prescriptions. I went to East End, South End, West End, and so forth. And worked until seven o'clock in the evening, and then I tried to study a little bit for 9:00the next day. That was my routine there at the drugstore after I lost my parents and grandparents.
KC: Did you have to support yourself and your brother?
FM: No, my brother and I supported ourselves after we became eighteen. Mygrandfather and grandmother on my mother's side -- which was Frank Simmons, that's who I am named for -- they took care of us, reared us until we were eighteen. Then we sold the property that our grandfather on the Moorman side had given to each one of his children. That is how I developed. When Dr. White came 10:00here to Louisville, the man that purchased the drugstore from him, I worked for him a while, and Dr. White asked him to let me come up here with him.
KC: You were learning the business.
FM: I was learning the business. Dr. White taught me all about compoundingmedicines and how to conduct business, you know, from the ground up, receipts and so forth. I came here and that was sort of an omen, that I had worked previously at a drugstore all of my life, and then to buy him out when he wanted 11:00to sell. But I had to have a pharmacist and McDonald was registered. I was not registered. So we ran the drugstore here and then I chose to go with Standard Oil.
KC: Where was the drugstore?
FM: Sixth and Walnut.
KC: Oh, that was the property at Sixth and Walnut?
FM: Just, no just across the street from it. Then after I went to Eighth Streetand at the [small] building I became successful in operating a service station. As time went on, I bought the place after my lease was up. Bought the place and then rebuilt the new service station and named it Frank's Service Station. 12:00
KC: In an article that I read about you in this book here, you employed blackcontractors and black laborers.
FM: All black. That was sometime before integration. We had men that werequalified to do that type of work, and so I hired a black contractor. His name was O'Quinn. My first contractor to build the small service station when I was with Standard Oil, his name was Fred Beaumont.
The service station business was quite successful. I really did such a good13:00business there during the war, World War II. When they came up with the tanks for gasoline, a lot of paperwork then. I had to do that plus toe the line on paying my taxes and keeping up my insurance. That was quite a task.
KC: I'm curious about your first filling station, or service station. You werebacked by Standard Oil, and I am wondering what your relationship to Standard Oil was, because surely Standard Oil hadn't had much experience financing black 14:00entrepreneurs, black businessmen, had it?
FM: Yeah. No, I realized that. Standard Oil was giving me a chance because Iexplained to them that they had not financed any black businessmen and I wanted them to help me. I didn't want them to finance me. But signed the lease with me and they loaned me $9,000 and I put up $3,000. That was per contract. My success in the small service station with the loan of nine thousand plus the three thousand that I already had acquired, we built a nice service station at Eighth 15:00and Walnut.
When I got ready to build the larger service station -- my business outgrew thesmall service station -- and when I got ready to build, it was in my contract that [the lady?] would sell me the property for $20,000 during my lease. So, I chose to buy the property and Standard Oil chose to loan me the money to remodel my business, which was all right. Now, I paid the $20,000, $288 a month -- something similar to that -- and paid Standard Oil $150 for the money that they 16:00loaned me.
KC: So, you were making about, over $300 in payments per month?
FM: In payments.
KC: Was that difficult given your profit, your monthly profit?
FM: Well, it cut my profit very low, very low, but I could see the success, youknow, in the future. If I pay for this, I've already got Sixth and Walnut paid for, now I can pay for Eighth and Walnut. Then it will be pretty much clear sailing.
KC: Was Sixth and Walnut helping you to pay for Eighth and Walnut?
FM: Sixth and Walnut was helping me to pay for Eighth and Walnut. That was agood business angle, I think, to invest in one, something that is valuable and 17:00allow the profit from that to help you in another investment. So I paid Standard Oil everything I owed them and I paid urban renewal everything I owed on the property at Eighth and Walnut. The property was urban renewal, I should have said. It reverted to urban renewal after I had finished building station number one and went into number two. By improving my own business through urban renewal and Standard Oil loans, that's how I paid for both pieces of property. 18:00
KC: The first service station, you went into it knowing about the drugstorebusiness, you knew the drugstore business, were you somewhat reluctant to get into the service station business since you didn't really have any experience in managing that kind of business?
FM: No, it was just a popular spot and Standard Oil was tickled to death that Iwas successful in getting the spot. They also were successful in helping me develop the spot.
KC: Through loans?
FM: Through loans and my previous experience in the smaller service station.When I completed paying Standard Oil and paying the bank that made one of the 19:00loans to me. It took fifteen or twenty years to see your way clear, but you had cleared Eighth and Walnut, and you had cleared Sixth and Walnut. So my thinking was, if you have paid for Eighth and Walnut and established a good business there, and you had paid previously for Sixth and Walnut, which you had a good, established business there, both businesses are paid for and both locations are 20:00paid for. Now, it isn't anything for me to do but just go on and do business and acquire what I can from the business. I am saying that to say that each of these businesses, one at Eighth and Walnut, a drugstore at Sixth and Walnut, and each one of them was successful, operated a successful business, and they developed into a successful business.
Now that I have sold both places -- Sixth and Walnut and Eighth and Walnut -- Isold Sixth and Walnut for, I doubled my money, at Sixth and Walnut and I tripled 21:00my money at Eighth and Walnut. Tripled the investment at Sixth and Walnut and really tripled the investment at Eighth and Walnut, because I had both places paid for.
That's very unusual, because the only person that I know, that anyone in thestate knows -- Whitney Young reminded me of owning Sixth and Walnut and owning Eighth and Walnut. [Lockhart], I know that you have heard of him, who used to operate a place at Seventh and Walnut, didn't sell nothing but hot dogs and beans, and people could get your beans and hot dogs for five cents. In other words he catered to everybody. He catered to the poor man just like he did the white man. Nothing more than a nickel or a dime, for hot dogs and beans. He 22:00operated that place for twenty something years and it's a household name. He's the only man that I know that owned two places at Seventh and Walnut. He leased one of them to a Jew pawn shop, Jake's Pawn Shop, and he operated, he and his two sons operated the other place. That's the only man that I know that had two popular corners, other than me at Sixth and Walnut and at Eighth and Walnut. To have a good business at Sixth and Walnut, then to turn around and have a good 23:00business at Eighth and Walnut.
KC: And this probably was during the height of the Depression, wasn't it? Atleast when you were starting on.
FM: When I started, that was during the Depression.
KC: What was that like for you?
FM: Oh, that was pretty rough. I could hardly, anybody could hardly exist, youknow, because you had to live on so little and manage the best that you could and I found that very rough. That is why I often talk to young people about, they don't realize what an old person has gone through to acquire what he has acquired. But I always attribute that to knowing how to conduct business and being thrifty. You don't drink, you don't smoke, you don't gamble. I [saw fit?] 24:00on that because it sounds like you are pushing the wagon or bragging, when you are not. That was the actual success of my operating those two businesses.
KC: What is the most important lesson of business that you learned during yourexperience there?
FM: Well, at the service station that was new altogether, and I learned as Iwent along. I learned everything there was to be known about service stations, plus the fact I would hire one mechanic, two assistants. That was the employment 25:00for five or six people. I think most people looked upon that as an advantage, to help six people, instead of going here to the corner and having somebody that isn't helping me. That is the way that I looked at it, and I think that increased our flow of business there. Because at the drugstore we had all of the business that we could handle for about six years.
KC: Was there a little restaurant there, a little caf at the drugstore, and ofcourse prescriptions and--?
FM: We served lunch.
KC: How many persons worked there with you at the drugstore?
FM: Nine. We had two delivery boys, two soda fountain boys and Mac, Hudson and26:00myself and four girls. That is more than nine I believe. Anyway, we lasted a long time there at Sixth and Walnut and that's when I moved to Eighth and Walnut. Most people give me three months to six months, I'd fold up. I stayed there close to forty years.
KC: What kind of effects did the Depression have on other blacks who you knew?The ones who weren't owners of drugstores and filling stations.
FM: Well, it had its effect on everybody. Just seemed like it was a nationalthing, you know. Everybody was down in the dumps and they tried to get on their 27:00feet, and some are on their feet and some are advancing and some can't get on their feet. So we had to do the best we could, to each his own. Each person chose his way of life and tried to do the best that he could.
I, when I sold Sixth and Walnut, I found that I had to invest. My lawyer said,"You have got to reinvest this money," because there was some government regulation whereby you'd have to give a large portion to the government because-- the urban renewal offered me $55,000 for Sixth and Walnut and I 28:00refused to answer their proposal and then they offered me $65,000. I refused it and my lawyer said, "Just go right ahead," and I went right ahead. The third letter I got from them was from Atlanta, Georgia. It was from the Urban Renewal area that covered this area, and my lawyer said, "Well, you'd better answer that letter." So, he's already said that you couldn't improve on the 35 foot lot, even though you're willing, but since the law is like that, then it isn't 29:00anything to do but sell the property, and those are the prices that they offered me for it. I sold it for $66,000 and I had to reinvest most of that money. So I have -- I bought an apartment at Forty-Fourth and Broadway, as you turn out by Shawnee Park.
KC: When was this, that you bought this?
FM: Oh, I bought it some 12 to 15 years ago.
KC: Well, when did you sell the first property?
FM: '63. Then I bought this apartment at Forty-Fourth and Broadway. That was the30:00best of the apartment houses that I had looked at, and my wife and I looked at several. This one has two entrances and it has a parking garage and each entrance you can talk upstairs to the people that live upstairs without knocking on their door, because you are isolated here in this foyer, you might say, but you can talk. The mailboxes up there are built into the walls and the telephones are built in the walls. That's one of the features that we admire. Okay, to get 31:00in your apartment they have to call and see if you are there, see if you want to let them in, question them as to who they are, if you [don't] want to let them in, it's all right, you just say, "I'm sorry." Same thing I'd say if I [?] my door. We thought that that was quite an advantage.
Getting back to Owensboro, I started with Dr. White in his drugstore. My unclegot me the job, and he was a druggist. I stayed with Dr. White while I was going to school, there in Owensboro at Western High School. Then Dr. White sent for me 32:00to come here and help him, because the boys up here were stealing from him, see.
FM: Each job that I have had was -- a permanent job, was with a colored man,see. Dr. White, I started with him when I was ten years old and I stayed with him until I was thirty years old. Then I quit for a few months, took a vacation and so on. Incidentally, I told you about my separating from Frank Junior's 33:00mother. We separated and I think that she remarried and I came to Louisville. We're separated now for twenty years. I came to Louisville, and I got married, but I was sent for by Dr. White to come and help him up here.
KC: This was in 1926 that you came to Louisville, or thereabouts?
KC: Did you find much difference between a rather rural life in Owensboro, andurban life in Louisville? Was it a shocking change for you?
FM: No, it wasn't such a change, because at the time, here in Louisville -- eventhough it wasn't a shock to me -- but we had two banks on the corner in 34:00Louisville. Dr. White was asked to come here because they had built a new Mammoth Building and Dr. White was in the [Pekin] Building at Tenth and Chestnut, which was a popular corner. Dr. White was asked to come here and join up with the Mammoth Building, and he opened the drugstore there. I didn't come with him then, I stayed there with the man that had bought him out, that was Mr. [Caufield.]
KC: Was Dr. White a physician or a pharmacist?
FM: Dr. White, I want to touch on that. Dr. White, he was a pharmacist, but he35:00was an orderly in the Philippine Islands under Teddy Roosevelt -- orderly in the hospital. And he was medically inclined all along because being an orderly under the men that came into the hospital there, in the Philippines.
When the war was over, he and a man named Dr. Walker, both were soldiers andboth were planning on going to college for their medical degree. When the Philippines was over, each one, or both of them, went to Howard University. I think that that shortened the time that they spent in the war in the position 36:00that they were in. They weren't doctors then. That shortened their stay at the university, I think. I just think that. Dr. White, when he finished his pharmaceutical career, he came and opened a store there in Owensboro, and Dr. Walker came with him.
KC: That is interesting.
FM: That is really interesting, to know that they were in World War -- underTeddy Roosevelt back in 1902 and then opened a drugstore, then he went to college and finished, and went to Owensboro and was there from 1906 or 1907 until he came to Louisville in 1926. He came to Louisville about two or three 37:00years before I did. He sent for me -- about a year before I did. He sent for me because he stated that the boys were stealing him blind up here at the soda fountain and taking care of the front of the place, and pricing and so on.
So I came on up here and been with him ever since. In other words, I spent mylife with him. I spent fifty-two years of my life right here on Walnut Street because I lived upstairs over the drugstore.
As I started to tell you a while ago, we had two banks here in Louisville. Oneon this side of the street and one on the other side. We had two theaters, one on this side, one on that side. We had a loan company on Sixth Street and we had 38:00about twenty-six or twenty-eight MD's. Oh, we had everything -- we had much more than we have now, from that stand point, you know, because we don't have that many doctors now, we don't have that many drugstores now, we don't have that many theaters now. And I can see the advantages and disadvantages as life went on, see, at that location.
KC: What were the effects of the 1937 flood on you where you were down there?
FM: Yeah, it didn't get in the drugstore. It got up all around the drugstore. It39:00got up on [Eighteenth?] Street, you had to put sandbags around the City Hall to keep it from getting in City Hall. Used the old Armory for safekeeping. If you lived out in the area that was flooded, you come to the Armory. They had guards there and everything to watch over things. So many people came to the Armory, it was packed. We were across the street at the time from the Armory. The drugstore was. I think we did quite a bit of business there, but at the time of the flood, I was at Eighth and Walnut and the water didn't get up there. There were very few people driving at the time, and that made it work a hardship on me, so far as meeting my obligations and so forth. Nevertheless, it didn't last long, see. 40:00As soon as that was over, it blossomed out again, the business did, and that's why the success came.
Speaking of Dr. White, I meant to tell you about Dr. White's wife. Dr. White'swife was Mrs. Fannie White, and she was principal of Patterson Street School in Lexington, Kentucky for forty-nine years. So, it's really interesting to listen to Dr. White's life in the Army and Mrs. White's life in Kentucky.
KC: Did they have children?
FM: They didn't have any children. Mrs. White went to school down at BereaCollege, before the integration was thought of. She went to school with 41:00[Marshall Vaughn] and all of those old people and the whites were there too, the Hutchins and -- outstanding whites, I mean. Professor Hutchins, you know he later went to Chicago U as a-- I think that he was the head of Chicago U for a while. Anyway, he was supposed to be sort of a wizard. He was the youngest man that had finished Berea College and gone to some outstanding college up east and then went to Chicago U as president I think. I am saying that to say that Negroes and whites went to Berea together. That was just a community habit that 42:00they had around there, going to school together. The [Barnes] all went to school at Berea and other people who stood out and wanted to go to college, that was an easy way to go to college, because I think the state paid part of their tuition and so on.
KC: Did you ever think of going to college yourself, or were you too wrapped upin your business?
FM: I thought of it several times, but I married, I think I was eighteen, andback in those days if you got married, they wouldn't admit you to come to college, or go to school. They felt like that terminated your career in school 43:00you see, because you chose to get married instead of going on to school. That's one of the reasons that I didn't go to college. You can take many of the men, my friends and associates that haven't done as well, and some have done better. I often think of my friend McDonald, after he retired from the railroad as a waiter. He made good money on the railroad, the men on the railroad, they make good money anyway. He had a stroke two years ago. He's recovering, or trying to 44:00recover, from that stroke. He's a fine person and his wife is like a sister to me because she helped me when I first came to Louisville. You know, borrowing three hundred dollars, you had to get three hundred names to vouch for you, you see. But that man, Mr. Streng -- it's a funny thing about life, I want to tell you this. That man, Mr. Streng that you saw in there, is ninety-two years old.
KC: That is the man at Bank of Louisville.
FM: Bank of Louisville, yeah. He, that man, I didn't know him, didn't know him45:00from Adam, but I was so sincere in doing the job and doing it right, I was so sincere in that. I never shall forget, one day I was standing in line at the old Morris Plan Bank, and this man, I didn't know him, touched me on the shoulder and said, "Come back to my office when you get through."
Well, now they had four lines waiting for deposits and I thought that I was, hadmaybe slipped up on one of my payments or something, and he wanted to get on me about it. I went back there and he introduced himself, and he told me that he 46:00was president of that bank. I told him how honored I was to meet the president of the bank. He said, "I wanted to talk to you." Said, "I have been watching your account and I have been watching you. You're the kind of man that I want to have stock in this bank."
I said, "Well, I don't have the money right now." I said, "I'm paying you threenotes right now. So much on this, so much on that and so much on that," and I said, "I don't have the money." You know what he said? "That's all right about the money." He called his secretary, and had her to make up some stock that amounted to a thousand dollars. I had Mrs. Lewis to make five shares of stock to 47:00my wife, five shares of stock to me. In the three or four months, that stock had just about tripled itself and it ballooned, so to speak. Owning that stock, that helped me some financially.
I said that to say, that you never know who is watching you. You never know.Because I didn't know that man. I'd seen him standing there and walking in and out. At that time I was depositing my own money and paying my own notes. I wasn't sending John Smith to do it for me. It was none of my help, I was doing 48:00it myself.
KC: Who was Mrs. Lewis? You mentioned Mrs. Lewis.
FM: Mrs. Lewis was his secretary.
KC: Oh, his secretary.
FM: Yeah. This man, they say he walks to work. He's been around the world acouple of times. They say he. . .
KC: He's still alive?
FM: No, he's dead now.
KC: Oh, he's dead now.
FM: He and old man Brown, of the Brown hotel, they were close friends. There wasan article in the paper about him. And said that he is always at work on time and he don't know how to drive an automobile. It said you would see him coming down Broadway, out Baxter Avenue, or some of those places, and [Telephone rings, 49:00tape shuts off then resumes, female voice can be heard in the background.] I was talking to you about Mr. Streng. They say that he would be on his way to work walking and different ones would pick him up from time to time, but that's the kind of person that he is. That's the kind of person that he was.
He used to loaf a lot with Mr. Brown, that owned the Brown hotel. They were oldcronies together. Well, just a few years ago, he died and he was...When he died, he was married and doing fine as president of the bank and doing nicely. I look 50:00upon that as a person that is dedicated. He's dedicated to his job. All along I've tried to be dedicated to my job. Things that I did, I tried to do the thrifty way.
KC: What did you go on to do after the station at Eighth and Walnut? Did you goon to acquire other property, other service stations? Did you work there, or?
FM: No, that's what I say, I bought both of them, the service stations. AfterStandard Oil helped me get established there at the little service station, then they chose to advance me money when I got ready to build the two-story building. They gave me, helped me with that, too. The picture in there tells you that they 51:00were very nice to me, Standard Oil was, and very lenient with me and, I don't know, all of my life, pretty much, I have leaned on Dr. White and Standard Oil, but I can walk alone now.
KC: You said that Standard Oil was very lenient to you, how do you mean lenient?
FM: Well, they, at one time, during the twenty years that I was in the servicestation business, twenty or thirty years I was in the service station business. Everything don't run smooth all the time. So, there come times when we worked together that I might get behind on this, might get behind on that, concerning 52:00Standard Oil. But they were always -- that's what I meant when I said they were lenient. If it was due tomorrow, "I'll wait until next month," see that type of thing. That's what I meant when I said they were lenient with me.
KC: What was World War II like for you here? I assume many men, black mentwenty, thirty years old were leaving, going to the service.
FM: Going to the service. Well now World War II, I was too old for World War IIand I was too young for World War I. I was too old for World War II. I come in between there, you see. This same Joe Ray he was on the board, the draft board 53:00in my precinct, and they would have accepted me had I been two years, about a year younger, but it hadn't got to that point. That's one of the reasons I didn't go at all, but I was very devoted because my son went. My son went to New Guinea. His mother died while he was in New Guinea, but the government let him come home to attend the funeral and everything. Since I came here, my present 54:00wife and I have been married for forty years.
KC: Forty years?
FM: Yeah. We get along fine. We own our own home and buy new carpeting and getready. Things have gone pretty nice. I retired when I was sixty-seven, seventy. I was seventy.
KC: When was that? Recently?
FM: No, that was in '73 when I retired. I've been retired for four years.
KC: From the station on Eighth Street?
FM: From the station on Eighth Street.
KC: Now, let me think. Is there still a station there?
FM: Yeah, and I'll tell you about that. There's a station there now. After themagazines and newspapers stated that Frank Moorman was the only one that was 55:00left in the urban renewal area -- the urban renewal area is from Eighth to First, Broadway to the River. That -- east of that -- that encompassed me. I was in the urban renewal area. And the paper stated that, and the paper stated that I was the only one left, only black man left, in the urban renewal area. That's one of the reasons I hated to leave. Because the head of Urban Renewal had talked with me and wasn't going to replace me and wasn't going to make me remodel anything, because my building was new. I built my building, the new building. I built in it in '52 and it wasn't old enough to make any big changes. 56:00
Now my Urban Renewal man said, "We want you stay. Your building looks good,everything about it, but there will be an inspector here to tell you what must be done if there's any changes to be made." That's why I said I was left in the urban renewal and to be left at urban renewal, that was [tragic?], because nobody else was left in urban renewal.
When I reached seventy-three, my wife called me one day and said, "Who are youworking for now?" She said, "You have passed the retirement age." And you know 57:00how it is when you are in a business, or something, you feel like well, you've got to stick with it. That was pretty much my thinking.
So I asked my son and grandson if they wanted to take over the business, andeach one said no. My son said no after talking to Miss Lee. He said "No, it's too much work." My grandson he said, "No I can't work with Daddy, because we can't get along." It's one of those things. So I let my son run it until my lease was up, not my lease, but run it for three more months until, I had a parking area rented from Urban Renewal, until that lease was up on the parking. 58:00I had all that block, back of me, and I had a set price and people just flocked there. All the white people that worked at the banks and the City Hall and the courthouse, they parked with me.
KC: So you still own a parking garage there? Or you did?
FM: No, no, I did at that time, but I was renting it from Urban Renewal. I ownedthe building now, and the area of the building, which was 110 by 123. All back of that had been torn down and Urban Renewal let me have that. You know on a month-to-month basis. They didn't do anything with it the whole time I was there.
KC: Are you completely retired now with no. . .
FM: With no strings attached.
KC: No strings attached.59:00
FM: I don't get any calls and don't make any calls, where business is concerned.
KC: Do you miss it?
FM: Been offered several jobs, you know, mostly honorary jobs, being on thisboard or that one. I just put that down, because you have to work your mind and they work you to death on those kinds of jobs.
KC: Oh, yeah. But do you miss not working? I know you're working, doingdifferent . . .
FM: Oh, I did for a while, but now I employ myself right out there in thatbackyard. I've got a flower garden, keep the shrubbery trimmed and take care of the backyard, my garden and so forth. If you want to find me, you'll find me here at home, unless my wife and I maybe went out to dinner or went out to some party. 60:00
KC: What did the sixties, when the public accommodations. . . . Pickets were outpicketing the Blue Boar down on Fourth Street and when the open housing demonstrators were out marching out in the South End, what was that like for you? Did that immediately impend on you?
FM: That didn't affect me too much, because I had a standard business and mymethod of having operated this particular business was, everybody is alike. My business, all during that integration fight, was about the same. I kept the business that I had -- the white business -- and I kept the black business.
KC: Did you feel any urge to become involved in any of the demonstrations oranything like that?
FM: No, I didn't, because I knew that would be the wrong thing for a61:00businessman. Therefore, I stayed out of all of that. But I did admire -- there was two people that I admired. I admired all of them that got out and conducted themselves right. I admired, as a youngster, I admired Frank Stanley, Jr., and Neville Tucker. They are the ones that opened up the Blue Boar. I mean they were instrumental in getting it opened. The man put his foot in the door and tried to keep them out, and I think Stanley and Tucker put their foot in the door. So, they broke it down.
But what I started to tell you about the Eighth and Walnut now -- after I sold62:00Eighth and Walnut and my son kept it until the lease was out on the parking area, which was a block beyond. . . . Johnny Cecil that runs, who did run a service station for thirty years, twenty-five or thirty years, at Seventh and Chestnut, he was getting ready to move, the Urban Renewal had closed in on the Standard Oil. They owned that property, Standard Oil and Johnny Cecil was just renting, but I owned my property. I wasn't renting. I bought the land, see, and everything.
Johnny Cecil was getting ready to move, you know, clear out. His son was going63:00to school at the University of Louisville and was going to take dentistry, and he chose since my dad is retiring, he chose to go into the service station business, if he can get some corner. They told [him] they had given me privilege to stay at Eighth and Walnut, and I chose to sell. Now if you choose to buy, you buy from Urban Renewal, because we've already bought Frank's place, and they bought from Urban Renewal and Standard Oil helped them put up a new place. He's there now. He isn't there, his son, and got a nice crew there. Stays busy all of 64:00the time.
KC: You weren't involved, and I can understand why you weren't involved becauseyou had your business.
FM: Business to take care of.
KC: Certainly, though, you were sympathetic.
FM: Oh, I'm sympathetic to the cause.
KC: Did you make any kind of contributions to the cause, either in helping outoccasionally doing different things or with money or did you stay in touch . . .
FM: No. We didn't participate at all.
KC: We were talking about making contributions to the . . .
FM: Oh, yeah. I may have made some financial contributions. Small, you know, butthat is about the only contribution that I could afford to make being in business, you know. It worked out fine and as I say, I have always had a policy 65:00of being fair to everyone.
I never shall forget, during the Derby, a car drove in some time back, beforethe integration had started, and he was from Mississippi and he wanted to see the boss. A fellow named [Tom O. Wilson?], a friend of mine, called me and said, "There was a gentleman out there calling to see you." I went out there and you know what he said? He drove off and said, "I don't want to see the nigger boss, I wanted to see the white boss." He drove away and of course there wasn't anything to do. As he drove off, we noticed the license on his car, 66:00"Mississippi." He and another fellow. They looked like they were half high, you know. So, I thought to myself, "Well, you run into those kinds, too."
KC: But it didn't upset you too much?
FM: No, it didn't cause any confusion at all. I went right on with my work.
KC: What about the younger generation of blacks today and what's happening withcivil rights today. Do you think that among young blacks today there are the leaders of, there are leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King coming up? Do you see the black cause floundering because of apathy these days?
FM: Well, it is just a little bit. See, Martin Luther King, that is somethingthat'll happen once in a great while. The men that, the younger people that are 67:00coming up now, they're not as determined as the young man was some time back. Of course the people that I read about, that would take a person's place, like Martin Luther King or Andrew Young, some of those fellows, I keep my eye on a man named Vernon Jordan.
KC: Of the Urban League?
FM: Urban League. He's a comer and he knows where he's going. Of course, WhitneyYoung, Jr. he was a comer and he knew where he was going, but he did not know 68:00that he was going to have the bad luck that he had. He got drowned, you know, over in Africa.
KC: Yeah, I remember that, in '73 or earlier, '72.
FM: People like that, they are rare. The guy that thinks that he controlseverything now, he's the guy that -- a lot of young bucks running around, "Man, you've got to get with it. You've got to do so and so and so and so." There's a lot of our people want to get away from that kind of stuff, and there's a lot still with it. I try to not condemn either one of them. My idea is, you do what 69:00you want to do, you know -- regardless to what I say, how I do, how they do. You do your way. So if you want to get with it, you get with it in your own fashion. I'll get with it in my fashion. If I don't like your fashion, I'll get with it in my fashion.
KC: Do you think blacks will ever catch up, so to speak, with whites after threehundred years of . . .
FM: I have often thought of that. I've often thought of that. It's really toomuch for a man to try to digest that kind of stuff.
KC: I just wonder if there will ever be any genuine equality among blacks and70:00whites and everyone else for that matter.
FM: The whites are in the majority, and now, they are as I say in the majority,and majority rules in every segment of what you might try to do. The majority rules. You might say that I've got this and I've got that, and you're a big shot here, but you are a little shot over there. That's the way that I look at life. All through life I've been that way. When I bought the stock in the Bank of Louisville, my thinking was, that's one white man that realized what this Negro 71:00is trying to do. If he's thinking right, his idea is, I'm going to help him do it. Whatever way I can go, I'm going to help him accomplish what he's after. That's what the good white person thinks.
From the good white person, back in the days when the Barnes and the Hutchinsonswere down in Berea, that's just an example. Now he got his education there, the Barnes did, well Hutchinson got his there, too. Well, now if you were able to go there, and he was able to go there, what made our education different? I mean if 72:00you got the same degree that I've got, then you know as much about it as I do. And might can enlighten me on some things, I can enlighten you on some things. That's the way that I've looked at life generally.
KC: So, you haven't grown up. . . . As a black man, you haven't grown up feelingany kind of rancor or bitterness towards whites?
FM: No, because as I say, "to each his own," and I've always thought that way.
KC: This is rather an odd question perhaps, but, what do you want to beremembered most for? Just looking over your life and thinking about it, what is the most important accomplishment of your life for which you want to be 73:00remembered? What best expresses your life?
FM: That's a hard question. That's a hard question because it's many things. Oneof the things that was brought to my mind as far as accomplishment, is the fact that you own a corner, a public building on the corner of Sixth and Walnut, that had twelve tenants, and paid for it. You owned a corner at Eighth and Walnut that had six tenants and you operated a business there and it was paid for. To 74:00me, those are two great accomplishments, each one of them. Because if you paid for this one, you've done well, let alone that one over there. I have lived to see that and I realize that is a fact. So, when you analyze Frank Moorman and what he did and how he did and what he accomplished and so on, you could say, "Well, Frank Moorman, he owned Sixth and Walnut and he owned Eighth and Walnut. He wasn't paying on them, he had carried them."
KC: Through his own efforts.
FM: Yeah, that's right. That means a lot, "through his own efforts." That is75:00unusual. Like Whitney Young says in that magazine there, you accomplish those things and you haven't made enemies, you've tried to make friends. That's the way that I look at it.
KC: I want to thank you for all of your time and I have enjoyed talking withyou. I wish you well.
FM: I have enjoyed talking with you.
KC: Thank you, Mr. Moorman.