MARY BOBO: The date is June 13, 1979. I'm talking with Ms. Louise Reynolds.Ms. Reynolds was born in Lewisburg, Tennessee, and came to Louisville about 1928. She presently lives on Dumesnil Street. Her parents were Cary Mae Taylor Elliot; her father was William Thomas Elliot. Her mother is presently married to Virgil London. Starting today, Ms. Reynolds, go back, just begin as far back in your childhood as you can remember and trace your steps as they brought you to Louisville and then we'll go on into things you've done as an adult here in Louisville.
LOUISE REYNOLDS: Well, I had a very normal childhood. I'm the oldest of seven. I1:00came here to go to school. I had an aunt here at the time and she wanted me to come up -- she had no children -- so she prevailed upon my mother to let me come up here and go to school. And she said my health would be better. Reluctantly my mother let me come. My aunt was a very dear woman and I enjoyed living with her. I went back home every chance I got to be with my brothers and sisters, especially over the summer holidays when school was out and at Christmas time. My first teacher's name was Gladys Faust and I was in the sixth grade. I think I learned a lesson from her that followed me all through life: I remember when once we had turned in some work to her, school work, and she graded it and she would ask various ones of the students if they had anything to say about their paper or whatever and she would tell them -- they would come up and talk to her 2:00-- and she would tell them where the mistake was. So when I went up she said, 'Well, you sit back down and find your own mistake. Do you want me to call you dumb?' And that has followed me on through life. I have always tried to do things, get to the bottom of things myself and I've strived far, not for perfection but to do the best that I could. So when I finished the public schools here, I went to Central High School which was located at Ninth and Chestnut at the time and I stayed out of school about two years I think and then I got married. Well, I didn't, let's see -- I got married in '37, I graduated from Central in '35 -- and after I got married I decided to pursue my education 3:00out at the old Louisville Municipal College. I went there for awhile, about five months I think, one semester, and I got sick and had to drop out. At various times on down I would go back to school, work and go back to school because that was what I enjoyed. Then I started working, down the line I started working in politics; I don't remember the exact year it was. I was working extra and then I worked out at Lincoln Institute for awhile at the business manager's office. I came back for a political campaign in the fall, I think '50 and I worked on it 4:00and I got a regular job in the political office, in Republican headquarters. Then in the meantime in '52, '51 I think it was, '52, President Eisenhower won and John Robsion was running for the Congress and he also won. And he hired me as his field secretary.
MB: So you worked out of his office here?
LR: I worked in Republican headquarters but I was working for him because hisoffice, I couldn't go to Washington because I was married and I had a family. Well, in '51 --in 1949 my daughter was born and I couldn't go to Washington 5:00because I couldn't take my family and my job wouldn't support us. I worked with him the whole six years he was in the Congress from January of '53 to December of '57, I think that makes six years. I was the first black to ever hold a position like that in the state of Kentucky.
MB: Where was your office located?
LR: I worked out of the Republican headquarters office and did his mail, what hewanted me to do, did his work and then if I had extra time I would help the girls that were there.
MB: You had already been working on the precinct level though, had you not?
LR: I had been working as a committee woman, yes, I'd been working on theprecinct level and I was committee woman at the time. I worked there, worked for 6:00him until December of '57 and then I worked, I went home -- I'm trying to get this together -- I went home and stayed until . . . but I was still active in politics by being a committee woman. I worked with the captains in the precinct and it was up to me to see that the polls were manned in the various precincts in my ward were manned, had captains with them. In '61, early '61 I had a call from the Republican headquarters asking me didn't I think it was time that a black from that area ran for alderman, for the Board of Aldermen? 7:00
MB: Were you living at Dumesnil?
LR: I was living at Dumesnil all this time. I told him I thought it was the time.
MB: They said, 'What about you?'
LR: I said, "You must be kidding." Because I had decided I was coming home to bewith my daughter at this time after I had finished, after Mr. Robsion was no longer in office. Well, they persuaded me to run and I submitted my name. I talked it over with my family, my husband and my daughter and that was the way it happened. They thought I should try it. As a result of that I became the first woman to be elected to the Board of Aldermen.
MB: This is under the Cowger administration.
LR: Under the Cowger administration, Cowger and . . . we had been out of office,I will say this, we had been out of office for twenty-eight years, the city especially, we had been in the county once before, a few times before maybe. But 8:00this was the first time in twenty-eight years that Republicans had won the city. We won the city, county and sheriff's office, we won the whole thing. Cowger was elected mayor and Ronald Coop was county judge and Bill Cranfield was the sheriff.
MB: I noticed, going back and reading some old reviews, old papers, that back in'60 you were vice president of the Joseph A. Ray Republican organization. Did this organization grow very large, did it last very long?
LR: It lasted but it didn't grow very large. It really didn't grow. There wereseveral organizations. I think there was one called the Red-Blooded Republican group. That was a group of blacks. None of them grew enough to accomplish too much. I guess maybe there was a lack of money and a lack of jobs. See, we had no 9:00jobs to offer people. We did have jobs with the county, a few jobs but at the time too we had . . . decent jobs for blacks were almost nil. I mean, office jobs and stuff like that. We had a few people that they were typists and maybe now and then a secretary, but there weren't too many of them.
MB: Well, the different Republican organizations, were they set up mainly as agroup of liberal people or a group of more moderate people, more conservative, or was it just happened to be people that were working together in the same general area of the city? You mentioned that there was another group. 10:00
LR: There was a group called the Red-Blooded Republican organization. That was amore conservative group of people, older Republicans, and they were very conservative, very good people but they were more conservative. And, of course, I belonged to the younger group that we wanted to get some things done, we wanted to win office. And we wanted to get back jobs, better jobs for blacks and the poor, too.
MB: So we're getting into the years right now where we're talking about thePublic Accommodations Bill.
LR: Yes, we are, yes, because after we won in '61. During the campaign -- nowCowger has said that he would like to see the Public Accommodation Ordinance come about on a volunteer basis but if he was, if it became available that it was impossible to get this then he would go for the enforceable Public Accommodation Ordinance, which he did. And we established a Human Relations 11:00Commission to work on it.
MB: This was during your first term, right?
LR: During my first term, yes. And I sponsored the bill. That was during the'60s when so much racial unrest was going on here in the city and the social issues came about as a result of that because that was the first one, the Public Accommodation Ordinance and we were on the Today Show as a result of that. 12:00
MB: I believe Louisville received national recognition as an All-American City.
LR: We received national . . . All-American City, you're right. And then we wereon the Today Show. They came out and taped it as a result of that and most of it was because of our progress in race relations here.
MB: Would you say at this point that blacks were very supportive of theRepublican party at this point?
LR: Oh yes, indeed. Yes indeed they were because they wanted change and wecampaigned that it's time for change and they wanted a change and they were looking for us to bring that change about and we did. Not only in that but in jobs. You see, when Republicans won in '61 the entrance to the City Hall for blacks was with a mop and a broom and a dust rag. But after that they got real good jobs there, you know, office jobs and that kind of thing that they were qualified for, that they should have had all along. 13:00
MB: IT just so happened that I came to Louisville like three years before theperiod you're talking about and watched, was able to watch this transition take place and feel very (unintelligible) with the Cowger situation and whatever. It was during this time that you, I believe, received some national publicity as being mayor for a short period of time while Cowger was out.
LR: Yes, I was mayor pro tem for three days and it was international publicitybecause I got a couple of clippings, one from Germany and one from England. They had my pictures and the write-up was a lovely write-up. In fact, I've got all that.
MB: Really? Do you have copies for me?
LR: I've got copies of all of that. It's just a matter of getting to all this.I've tried to save everything that I could. I don't have the pictures that I want but I have newspaper clippings and of course, the pictures with them too and I plan to get more pictures because I think they would be useful maybe my grandchild would enjoy seeing them, my nieces and nephews and everything. But 14:00this was a time for all of that. And as a result of serving as mayor, I think it was a result, we were invited to the White House for dinner by President and Mrs. Johnson in honor of Vice President Humphrey, Speaker of the House McCormick and Chief Justice Earl Warren.
MB: You have the invitation here.
LR: I have the invitation -- that's the dinner and this is the invitation in here.
MB: The dinner sounds delicious. [chuckle]
MB: What Mrs. Reynolds is showing me is the engraved invitation from Presidentand Mrs. Johnson to dine with them on February 2nd, 1965. Why don't we just for 15:00a few minutes talked about the day that you spent in Washington and this particular event? How did the national government appear to you? How did our leaders appear? What were some of your thoughts as you were meeting these people, maybe for the first time?
LR: Well, I had no, really I can't say that I had any thoughts at all. I thinkit was just the most enjoyable time and President and Mrs. Johnson both were very, very warm. I've been to affairs that were really, they were more formal than that, people were very formal there. I mean, a lot of places where people were more formal. But you had people from all walks of life: we had some industrialists and a lot of people there that were in politics and in industry and that thing, one thing or another. And they were very kind and they'd walk up 16:00and introduce themselves and said, well, "You know, this is the first time I've ever been in the White House, in here for dinner." At a private thing. They just maybe -- some had been on a tour there . But it was most enjoyable. The Marine Band played; it was a black tie affair and this menu, as far as the people involved in it, let's see, chicken-based Minnesota wild rice, that was for Vice President Humphrey and the seafood Golden Gate, that was for Chief Justice 17:00Warren, and then creamed spinach was for the Speaker of the House McCormick. And John Daly of What's my Line? fame was my seat partner. We were at round tables of ten and of course, my husband was in a different room than mine, from where I was. We just enjoyed it. And then we danced afterwards and they served champagne all during the dance. They served cocktails at first and then dinner and then we listened to readings from Mary (unintelligible). [sounds like the microphone is knocked and then voices become distant sounding]
MB: Well, we're going to talk a little bit about President Johnson being a18:00Democrat and Mrs. Reynolds being a lifelong Republican, how politics were together or not together at this point in time.
LR: Well, President Johnson had been very outspoken in the field of civilrights. So naturally that won me over. Because being black and a mother, too, I don't see how you could really not work as hard as you can for the civil rights. He was certainly very vocal about how he felt about it and . . .
MB: You felt this was a sincere act and from --
LR: I felt it was sincere, yes, I did. I really felt he was very sincere in hisstance for civil rights. 19:00
MB: Okay, then that's going to move us on closer to your second term, I believe,as we're getting towards the Schmied administration.
LR: Yes. The next big issue for us was, well, we passed Equal EmploymentOpportunity bill and this was passed a few days after I came from the White House, I must say this, from the White House, and my daughter and I were in an accident, a real bad accident, a real serious accident. This Equal Employment Bill was up for vote. I wasn't there naturally, I sponsored it but I wasn't there for the vote so they passed it, they said they passed it in honor of me because I had worked so hard on it and then I wasn't able to be there that evening. But the next issue that came about was really open housing. I tried 20:00very hard to get my aldermen to go along with it because I knew one thing, we had opened up the doors and we had to continue to make progress. We had to continue to build on Cowger's record. We had to continue to build, we couldn't sit back and just rely on it, we had to do things on our own because he put us, we were in a good position when he left office to win again. So Mayor Schmied 21:00won without any trouble. I think if we had passed this ordinance -- well, this was one that, as I said, we worked very hard on it and I didn't get the support from my aldermen that I thought that I wanted and hoped for. I got a lot of support from people who lived in the East End because they would call me and they said, "I've seen you on television, I want you to know that we're with you." I got letters from them in support of open housing. So a committee was appointed to study it, see how the people felt about it. The Human Relations Commission had given their report, they found that it had been tried on a voluntary basis and that it would not work. So they recommended an enforceable Open Housing Ordinance. Well, that wasn't to be. The night it came up for vote, 22:00before I got to the conference room, we always had a meeting before we went across the hall to the private, to the chambers, aldermanic chambers and when I got there somebody had this bill in front of my seat. So I asked, I took this agenda and went out and asked the clerk, I said, "Who put this? I'm not sponsoring this. I'm not going to sponsor this evening." She said, "Mrs. Reynolds, I knew you weren't going to like that." I said, "I will not sponsor this bill." Because to me it reminded me of a parent. You spank a child and then 23:00you give him a stick of candy to soothe him. So I wasn't a child and this bill I think we played with it, it wasn't a child, it was like a toy. So that night I told them, I said I would not sponsor this because it reminds me of a child who had been spanked by a parent and then the parent gives them a stick of candy to soothe his feelings and that's it. Well, when I went across the hall I voted against it because it wasn't an enforceable ordinance. It was . . .
MB: It was a watered-down . . .
LR: It was a watered-down thing. It really said nothing really concrete. So I24:00released the ones that had been helping me support it and I said, "Now, you do what you want to but I'm voting against it." I got up and made my speech again. I thanked the Human Relations Commission for all the things they'd done, the time that they'd given to this volunteer time. Parking meters, metered parking tickets that they'd paid and all their valuable time. But I sat there and I said, "This ordinance that I just voted against reminds me of a doctor prescribing aspirin for the cure of cancer." And I submitted that, that was submitted as an . . . it was editorialized that, too. They did the same thing with the Public Accommodations Ordinance because this time it was a couple of people on the Human Relations Commission that wanted the minority report put into the ordinance. Well, I didn't think it was necessary because what we wanted 25:00was the facts, really the action. How we got it was fine. I don't think it was important what was included in that other than what was already there because it was an ordinance that we could live with. I wasn't after the noted publicity, all I wanted was to get the job done. And we did that. And I felt the same way about the Open Housing Ordinance. It wasn't important to me to live in a neighborhood with anybody. My reason was to be able to live wherever you can afford. Now, if it happened to be by a white person or a black person or an 26:00Indian or whoever, this is what we wanted. That was my. . . . And I also was in real estate at the time.
MB: I was going to ask you about your real estate connection.
LR: Yeah. And I also knew that I possibly would suffer behind this. But I feltthat I was only one person and this was such a big thing and I was just one little person in this great big world, well, I say in the community. And I could make a living. So I knew it would hurt but . . . I felt that it would. And it did. But I haven't suffered behind it. And a lot of people have and I think it's a thing that's good for the whole city because you can't keep any race down and keep making progress. You can't do it. This is a part of progress.
MB: If my memory serves me correctly, Louisville was sort of slowly27:00re-segregating itself during these years though on its own. It seems that there were more blacks going into the West End, more whites coming into the South End, it just seems to me, when I think back over it that a turnover was taking place prior to this actual legislation.
LR: It was, it was. They were, I guess it's the trend of times because I thinkthis is the way it's always been. Maybe a white will decide he wants to move out and then maybe a black will buy the house. And it was hard, too, because, see, you had this, I guess it was an unwritten law, you had, you couldn't borrow money to, what they called, bust the block then. They called that block busting. 28:00And it was in the deed that they were not supposed to sell to Negroes. It was . . . why can't I think what they called that? But they had to work to get -- restricted covenants, that's what it was -- and then we couldn't borrow money, we had a hard time borrowing money from a mortgage company to buy a house in an area where there were no blacks.
MB: Would you say that they had already red-lined areas at this point?
LR: Yes. At one time it would be from, say, from Broadway to Algonquin or someplace like that. It was from Twenty-eighth Street down to the river. That would 29:00take in the area, maybe, that where blacks would ordinarily be buying. And they wouldn't let them have the money. At one time they wouldn't let you have money unless you were doing business with them.
MB: Well, I have . . .
LR: Mortgage companies.
MB: -- Here that you were the first president of the Louisville Real EstateBrokers Association. This is black real estate, people, is it not?
LR: Yes, I was the first woman president.
MB: And this is still in existence, is it not?
LR: Yes, it's still in existence.
MB: But at this point what you're saying is that whites were only selling whitereal estate, white people were only selling to whites and black real estate people were only selling to blacks generally.
LR: No, I'm not saying that. Whites have always sold to blacks. But they couldnot go into a neighborhood, a block where there weren't any blacks and sell, they couldn't do that.
MB: So how did this . . . the Open Housing Law was passed. How did it affect you30:00then at that point?
LR: Well, the Open Housing Law wasn't passed until the Republicans got out ofoffice. It was passed under . . . no, no, that isn't true. The Open Housing law was passed the last two years . . .
MB: The effects of Open Housing on the community, we're talking about the tenyears period starting about 1965 to 1975 when there did not appear to be a large movement or migration of the races, either way, within the city and the county. And then it seems within the last three or four years since court ordered busing that at least the black community is more visible in certain sections of the county than it's been before. Would you attribute this ten-year span when maybe 31:00movement was slower to the economic conditions of blacks that might have wanted to move into different areas or just the fact that they wanted to stay in the communities that they had grown up in? Where would you. . . ?
LR: I think one of the reasons certainly has been economic reasons. And thensometimes you might want to stay in a section of town that they moved into, that they were raised up in. And along with this has been better jobs. I think this is the reason they're moving, there's been more moving in the past three or four years is because of the economic situations of blacks. And now, a lot of them, I mean, they have some real good jobs. And they do have nice houses, nice homes. 32:00And this has brought about the trend of moving out and into the suburbs and into the East End and various sections where the better houses are.
MB: Something that I guess maybe has concerned me in watching this take place,is there any danger that certain communities would be drained of the black leadership that they have had all these years as more young, mobile upward middle-class blacks are moving out? I guess what I'm trying to say is I would not like to see a neighborhood lose its leadership, as people were seeking better houses, because I think a sense of community has been important in so many cases
LR: I really don't think the movement has been to that great of an extentbecause we still have a lot of the blacks who have been very active in all these movements all along still living in the city. In the West End, for instance, we 33:00still have a lot of people who have been very active over a period of years in this movement and a lot of them are still there.
MB: I can see that people who already have twenty years involved in the housewould stay but like taking, say, your daughter's generation. Again, I guess what I'm trying to say is, I'm wondering about the loss of the neighborhood situation and people being where there are fewer people to draw support from. 34:00
LR: I can see a little trend toward moving back into some of these areas. Ithink you can see where they're tearing down the older structures, dilapidated structures and they're going to be building new buildings and new homes, I think, in a lot of those areas. So I think it's going to be just a gradual move back into some of these areas.
MB: Maybe a totally more integrated community.
LR: It would be a totally more integrated community because I think even some ofthe whites will be moving in these areas.
MB: As we move along here talking about your work, you have been recognized bymany organizations in one thing or another, but I noticed that back in the '60s -- before we leave them completely -- you were named "Woman of the Year" by . . .
LR: Beta Phi Beta.
MB: That's right.
LR: Beta Phi Beta sorority.35:00
MB: You had that and you were also named "Outstanding Citizen of the Year" bythe Pantell League.
LR: Correct. Direct Council.
MB: Are these organizations, are you still involved in them in any way or wereyou members?
LR: No, I wasn't a member of either one, really, and I suppose that was thereason I was so grateful, too, to think that they would even think enough of me to bestow these honors on me, you know. And I might say this, Louisville itself has been very, very good to me and I feel like I could never do enough to repay the confidence that people have had in me over a period of years.
MB: You have remained active in your church, too, I believe.36:00
LR: Yes, I have.
MB: (unintelligible) Chapel.
LR: Yes, I'm a member of the senior choir and in Lyman Johnson's Bible Study andI'm a steward in the church. Of course, after I was no longer in politics, I started working at the Small Business Administration and I have thoroughly enjoyed that because it gives me a chance to still do something for the community. To assist the minorities in their businesses and ones who are in need of loans or management assistance, it gives me a chance to help them there. So I feel that this job has been very rewarding.
MB: When did you actually start with the Small Business Administration?
LR: In March 1972.
MB: '72. At least two other people that I have interviewed in the past havementioned that you have helped them in acquiring loans for their businesses. 37:00Would you, for the tape, give us some run-down of what a person must go through in order to qualify for these loans and what types of businesses seem to be successful, that different ones are going into?
LR: The requirements are, if I were a young woman going into business, a youngperson I'll say, to begin with, I'd give a lot of thought and do a lot of study to the ability of the type of business I was thinking about going into, because I'd want to be sure there was a need for it. And with reasonable expectancy of success in it. Say you already know the business you're going in to. I'd like 38:00you to come in and talk with us about it. And we have some counselors there, we have a very good management assistance division and we have counselors there called Score people, they're retired business men and women, and they are very good with talking with people who are just starting in business or who are already in business. And I'd give it a lot of study and if you know what you want then you get to the business of finding out how much it's going to cost to go into this business and this is where they can help you. So after you write out everything you need and get estimates of what it's going to cost, then you're in a position to know more nearly how much money you have to have. 39:00Because sometimes people say, I say, "What size loan do you think you want?" They say, "Oh, I don't know. I was thinking I needed about $10,000 or $15,000." Or "$50,000 or $60.000." Well, see, you're not sure what you want then and it's very important that you know what you want. You get the amount, enough that you think that you need, I don't advise anybody to get more than they need but be sure and get enough because if you don't borrow enough, you're going to run into trouble. Because you always need some money for operating capital and if you go in business and you don't start making money right away. . . . A lot of people take the position there that the less money I ask for, the smaller the loan, the more likely I am to get it. But that's not true.
MB: You've got to have that extra capital.
LR: You've got to have that extra capital for this. You don't make a profit as40:00soon as you open your doors. You have to go a long time, sometimes, before you can realize any profit in a business. But I would get all the counseling, management assistance that I could get if I were going into business. Even if I were already in business. Financial statements are very important. You can't make it unless you keep some good records.
MB: It seems that many of the people that we have interviewed were like in theold Walnut Street area and lost their businesses with Urban Renewal. Are you seeing young people anxious to open modern but businesses that cater to some of the same things, some of the same areas or the same people that we did have in the old Walnut Street area? Or is it a whole new ballgame? 41:00
LR: No, no. I think that people now realize that they have to locate theirbusiness where it's needed and where they stand a chance of its becoming a viable business. I don't think they can go into business near to any one segment or one area. They have to go into business where they think the business is needed, wherever it's needed.
MB: So could we say that even though maybe at the time of Urban Renewal it hurtthe particular age groups that was located there, in the long run having to open a business that would be more open and cater to a wider group of people is going to help economically as far as the black community is concerned?
LR: Yes, it will. It will very definitely help.
MB: And do you know personally how successful some of the ones who wererelocated have been or were they of the age to just maybe go ahead and retire at that point? 42:00
LR: A lot of them retired. In fact, I would say most of them retired, really.But if they haven't, most of them have since retired. I can't recall too many businesses that were in that particular area. I can't remember too many that are still in existence that were in that particular area.
MB: In talking to Joe Hammond a couple of months ago . . .
LR: I know Joe.
MB: We were talking about relocation of (unintelligible) in this town.
LR: Well, he is one that's been successful. One of the few that's been successful.
MB: Another young man whom I have talked with had gone into a welding business.This was something that I don't believe any other black individual has gone into.
LR: That's right. And I think he's still the only one in that. Lonnie Edmondson,Mr. Pressly. 43:00
MB: And quite successful with it.
LR: That's right.
MB: So really what we're saying is the young people that are coming to you nowasking for money are coming to you from a more open background. They're thinking farther as the situation is concerned.
LR: Yes, I would say that. And we have some prosperous businesses around here.In fact, there's the janitorial service, I don't know if you . . . Mr. Clean, very successful young man. Very successful.
MB: And Juanita Burks . . .
LR: And Juanita Burks' business is terrific.
MB: And this has been in the last three or four years . . .
LR: Three or four years, yes. She'd always wanted to go into business, she said,but . . . when she first came in to talk to us she was thinking about going in -- she and her daughter came in -- and she was thinking about going into a child's clothing store. You know, she said, "Everybody talks about the older 44:00people but children need pretty clothes." And of course, older people, mamas and aunts and uncles and fathers will buy pretty things for their children. But at the time I can't say that I encouraged her in the location that she was talking about because it was on the mall between Chestnut and Broadway, which was really dead and there was a lot of construction going on down there at the time. And we had a black shoe store that was there and he had a traumatic experience there. So there would have been a way of really locating where you would normally think your business would be needed. But due to the area, the conditions there in that 45:00area it wasn't, it just hasn't, stores just aren't able to make it. Too many of them weren't able to make it.
MB: Are there any restrictions on you as to where these people can open up abusiness? Are you encouraging people to go into suburbia or must it be within certain neighborhoods and all?
LR: I think you locate where the need is, where you think you can make a go ofyour business. Whether it's in suburbia or shopping centers or wherever.
MB: But there are no federal guidelines that say that you cannot move into theexisting shopping center or anything like that.
LR: No. no. But I think it would be wise for anybody considering that to get afeasibility study, do a feasibility study to see if that particular product that you're handling, if there's a need for it there. 46:00
MB: I know both Juanita Burks and Monty Edwards pointed out that they wentthrough a process on Monty Edward's case for about a year and a half trying to get it together and see where the best place is and where he would be able to fill a need when many people thought that he would not be able to make a success out of his particular business.
LR: And, of course, that shows you, Juanita's location shows you that you canmake it if there's a need for your services there. (Tape shuts off, then resumes)
MB: I want to pursue for a few more minutes Mrs. Reynolds' background in real47:00estate. We've just been talking about the importance of real estate and the ability to be able to move and live within a community, to integrate in a community as much as possible. I want to go back a little bit in time and talk about her first years which would have been in the early '50s when she was first working as a broker and real estate agent with Joseph Ray, Sr.
LR: Well, as I said, I don't remember exactly how long I worked with Mr. Ray butI did learn a lot during the time and -- it was a long while trying to get together really --but I worked for myself after that.
MB: You were with Ben Shobe for a small period of time, right?48:00
LR: Yes, I had my license there and I worked out of there.
MB: You worked out of his office, right?
LR: Yes, worked out of his office. Of course, this was still when I was apart-time broker because this went on into the time when I was working for Congressman Robsion.
MB: So you have really been in real estate long enough to see tremendous changes. . .
LR: Yes, I have.
MB: Made in this end. And barriers or restrictions that you ran into in the 50's.
LR: Yes, I've seen them (claps hands) just change restrictions and barriers.That's kind of been broken down. I've seen a lot of that.
MB: If you had to pick, since your life has been so varied in political and in49:00the working world and now particularly working with the Small Business Administration, if you had to pick one single event as being the one that has done the most for the black community, which one would you pick of the things that have happened?
LR: Yes, I would have to pick politics. Because it has been far-reaching.
MB: Do you think the black community as a whole realizes that this is the mostpowerful weapon they have?
LR: Yes, they realize it but it bothers me because they don't act like it. Butthey'll say it. But then it's hard to get them out to vote, especially in 50:00primaries. It's hard to get them out and vote. And that is the most powerful weapon that the black has is politics. The vote. Because I think it's very important that you have a good, strong two-party system. That's what is going to help the blacks to survive is a good, strong two-party system.
MB: For example, being a Republican, what are you doing on a local level now toattract young, possible candidates, black candidates? I mean, do you have people coming through in their mid twenties, thirties that are really interested in going into politics as a way of life or is it just too shaky a thing to make a living with?
LR: I haven't run into too much of that. Of course, there again, maybe I don'tsee them like I used to. Some of them have expressed desires that one day they would like to go into politics and I think it's a good thing for them and I think it's good for women to be in politics because most of the time women know 51:00what's going on in the neighborhoods and areas. So I think they make good candidates. It seems to me most of the young people are interested in jobs, good paying jobs and they're enjoying some good jobs. It's been slow coming but they do have them. They're getting more and more. I don't, I think politics can do more for blacks.
MB: Do you see the disenchantment that I feel among all young people withpolitics, particularly since the Nixon administration? 52:00
LR: Yes, yes. And it's more every day it's like it's something. . . . It'sreally, I can see why they're discouraged because of the, how they've become disenchanted. Because every time you pick up the paper there's something about some Congressman is going to be tried for embezzlement, somebody's doing something else, FBI's investigating the state offices. I mean, they wonder what is going on? How did we get in a position like this? And I think it's just a pretty, it can be pretty frustrating to them and I think it's kind of a bad thing that we have to present to the young ones but at the same time if they can survive it then they'll come out stronger. I think all this makes for stronger people. This is the reason I say more people, more women should get into 53:00politics. And I think the young people should get into politics because they're the ones that can help to straighten this out, I think.
MB: Because they have seen that the system has flaws.
LR: That's right.
MB: They weren't raised with this.
LR: That's right, they can help to get the flaws out of the system.
MB: Well, I want to go back for a couple of minutes to some of the otheractivities that I have understood that you were involved in. There's a social club that I'm not at all familiar with; it's ONO.
LR: Yes, the ONO club was started in '53. Because, I had just appointedsecretary to Congressman Robsion, I remember that. And I think we had about, at 54:00one time our membership was about fourteen. It's an old club. We're still together but we don't meet as often as we did. I think we all have different interests, I mean, added interests but we're still very close.
MB: What was the original purpose? What was the one thing that brought youtogether? The twelve or whatever.
LR: Just to do something different. We would go out if we wanted to. If wewanted to go nightclubbing we'd go -- several of us, not alone -- if we wanted to have dinner we would do that; just out of getting away, doing something just a little bit different than the traditional clubs did.
MB: Do the letters stand for anything or is this just. . . ?
LR: Yes, it does stand for something and I won't tell you. [laughter] You would55:00know it, I mean, you could just think of something of what I said of getting away like that and you could almost come up with an answer to that, the meaning of it.
MB: Well, I found another one too that I'm not familiar with. The Moles club?
LR: Now the ONO is strictly a social club.
MB: Okay. How about the Moles?
LR: The Moles is a civic and social. It's a national organization and I think wehave about, I forget about how many chapters we have now, about twenty-five, I think, I believe.
MB: And it's a civic involved, also?
LR: It's civic and social. We usually have a project we work on nationally maybeor locally. I remember one time when Bucky Welsh, you were probably here when 56:00the little boy. Cut his arms. . .
MB: Right, had his arms.
LR: Well, we worked on that. We raised quite a bit of money for that. We don'thave a project like that every years but we do have a project fairly often and we, it's usually a national project. But there are more of us; we have a membership of about, I think, twenty because we've had two to pass recently. Yeah, we have a membership of about twenty, we meet monthly.
MB: Were both of these black women's groups?
LR: Yes, they are black women's groups, both of them.
MB: Something that I was pursuing when I was down at Simmons College last weektalking with Reverend Holmes, he'd been talking about the various black 57:00institutions and black social clubs and one thing and another and I proposed the question to Reverend Holmes would it be counted as a loss if some of the things that both whites have and that blacks have that are predominately one race or the other did pass away? Have we reached a point in society where new clubs will rise because people have the same interests and not because they have the same ethnic background? Do you foresee this among the young people? Even the church, there's more integration within the church it seems.
LR: Well, there is more integration in the churches. I think there's moreintegration in some of the clubs, I think tennis clubs because I know of a little girl where she belongs to a tennis club and she has a business, too, and 58:00they really patronize that business, the whites do. You know, there's no difference like that. But if they, I think maybe it might come through their jobs, association with jobs maybe that they would get together with some like this -- with groups. I don't know that there's so many social groups but there are organizations where they're mixed groups. Some of them have always been mixed, too, I guess. Because the Urban League board and . . . 59:00
LR: The YMCA. I suppose it is I guess but I'm not in a position to say thatreally that is happening that much to any great extent.
MB: Well, I think what got me on this line of thought in talking with someone,we were realizing that we won't soon have a generation of young people who have lived entirely differently from the way you and I have lived and once our children have gone through school together six, eight, twelve years I guess I'm sort of searching into the future, how you see it as opposed to how we know it has been.
LR: Well, I think it's going to be, I think it's going to be really more ofthat. But as I say, I tell you, in neighborhoods you see sometimes in the younger neighborhoods where there is an integration, where they integrated. They 60:00seem to be, well, they just accept each other and they seem to just really have fun together. But there again, I don't know just how far that goes, I mean, if it goes really beyond that area or that group or just what. If that's just more or less limited to that particular neighborhood.
MB: But I think this is something to be watched.
LR: Yes it is.
MB: Over the next few years.
LR: I think it's going to be interesting to watch.
MB: And that we will see through our children and our grandchildren. Maybe someday they'll be playing this tape and wonder why we brought it up even.
LR: I know. I'm sure they will be.
MB: We have run to the end of the second side of this. I will be stopping thetape now and continue later.
MB: This is Mary Bobo. I'm interviewing Louise Reynolds. We have been talkingoff and on about her political career. Mrs. Reynolds did serve four terms though on the Board of Alderman during the administration of Cowger and Mr. Schmied. 61:00I'd like for you, just for a few minutes, to sort of describe Mayor Cowger during the years you were with him and things that we have not mentioned that happened during the years that you were with the Cowger administration. And then move on to Mayor Schmied.
LR: Mayor Cowger was a very forthright person. When he made up his mind to dosomething he would do it. And I think that was brought out in the Open Housing Ordinance because when he was running for office he said that he would like to see it tried on a volunteer basis but if it didn't work then he would certainly be in court with legislation to do so and he did. And he worked very aggressively toward helping it get . . . first the Public Accommodations Ordinance being passed. And Mayor Schmied was the president of the Board of 62:00Aldermen and he gave us support in that, too. I think, of course, after the Public Accommodation Ordinance and the Equal Employment Ordinance the next thing we started working on was the Open Housing Ordinance which wasn't, as some of you might recall, was much harder to get through. Much more difficult to get the Open Housing Ordinance through than any of the others. But I really think that although we didn't pass it under Mayor Schmied's administration, I sincerely believe that he wanted an Open Housing Ordinance passed. I really think he was 63:00for it. But I think he crossed up on some advice from people that he had a lot of confidence in I think and just wasn't able to take the leadership to get it passed.
MB: There were several very important first during these years though in gettingother people into position of importance and I believe you had a hand in helping people to become employed, to have higher positions within the police department and the water company.
MB: You mentioned some of these things.
LR: Before this, the water company was just about like City Hall. For a black tobe employed there they had to have a mop and a bucket and a broom and a dust cloth or whatever. Well, we sent the first black woman, young woman to the water company and -- 64:00
MB: And I believe the first black police major also.
LR: Yes, and we made the first black police major, Major William Hughes.
MB: During this time did you do much speaking around in the community, talkingwith young people, churches?
LR: Yes, I did quite a bit of speaking around the community. I would go aroundto the schools and churches and clubs I did a lot of speaking out of town. I think at the time I came along, at the time I was elected there weren't an awful lot of black women elected officials. There weren't too many of them at that time and I think that was one of the reasons I kept pretty busy going different places. 65:00
MB: Then as we move on toward '68 you were still attending conferences and thistype of thing, dealing with, I believe you went to Washington to a conference on black elected officials.
LR: Black elected officials. That was a bipartisan type thing with two Democratsand two Republicans serving as focal chairmen.
MB: It says Percy Sutton . . .
LR: Percy Sutton, president of (boroughs?) in New York. It was Merv(unintelligible) who was former lieutenant governor, who was lieutenant governor of California until recently.
MB: These are the Democrats?
LR: These are the Democrats and the Republicans were Woodrow Wilson, who was anassemblyman from Nevada and I was the fourth person, the fourth co-chairman for 66:00the Republicans, as a Republican.
MB: Another national group that you served on was the GOP Task Force. Would youtell us a little bit about this. This is back in '65, I realize but what were the purposes and some of the things that came out of this?
LR: This was the Task Force on Human Rights and Responsibilities and it was justwhat it says: we discussed human rights and responsibilities and what part we could play in the betterment of these rights. There were several people on there, most of them were Congressmen: Senator Hugh Scott and Congressman McClure of Ohio; George Albert who was the chairman of the state central committee of 67:00Nevada; and as a result of this meeting I was invited to -- meeting him there -- I was invited to Las Vegas to speak at the Las Vegas State Central Committee convention.
MB: This group met every two months for what, a period of a year or two years orwas it that long?
LR: No, it didn't meet . . . I think it met about twice I believe. And then theysent the results out to us and we were mentioned in the Congressional Record, too.
MB: During all these years you had continued from time to time to go to U of L68:00and I know that you have a husband and a daughter, Linda. Would you talk for just a few minutes about these people who I'm sure have given you a great deal of support?
LR: They have given me a great deal of support and it made my job much easierbecause I just couldn't have survived had it not been for them. But they were happy in my endeavors. Every year, every time, every two years I would talk to them about running again and how they felt about it, if they thought I should pursue another term. And of course they said yes. But I was a little taken back one time; my daughter said, "Oh Mom, you have to serve, oh yes, you have to run again." But at one time she said to me that she -- tears were in her eyes -- and 69:00she said, 'You know, I'm so proud of you, I'm really proud of you, Mom. But I just hate the idea of people referring to me as Alderman Reynolds' daughter. I want to be known as Linda Reynolds. That's what I want. But I'm so proud of you. But I wish they wouldn't introduce me like that." So I have always played down my position because of that particular thing. I think somebody had, I guess, had introduced her that way once too often and it kind of upset her. But then I said to her, I said, "Well, I just can't let it knock me down like that, I mean, I just can't fall down from it." I said, "Linda, I wish you would have told me 70:00this before. I certainly hope that I haven't neglected you, I've tried not to. But you wouldn't want a mother that had lived in a community all her life and not made any small contribution to the betterment of the community." And of course, we both end up laughing about it. But I was a little hurt. At that time I thought, "Maybe I shouldn't run for office any more. " She didn't feel that she was neglected though. She said, "I'm so proud of you mom but I just wish people would . . . I want to be known as Linda Reynolds and not Alderman Reynolds' daughter. "
MB: I would think that this is a feeling that many young people who havepolitical parents . . .
LR: I think they do and I can understand why. I can understand why.71:00
MB: I notice you had just pulled out a special medal here.
LR: Yes, this is a key to the city, the city of Las Vegas. I guess the reason I-- I think it's a very pretty key and it's sterling.
MB: And you received this when you went to the meeting you were talking about earlier.
LR: Yes. I was presented the key to the city of Las Vegas.
MB: Well, you had several different items when we were first talking, besidesthe invitation to the White House. Could we go through some of those at this time? [sounds like rummaging through papers -- voices are very quiet momentarily]
MB: Is this a list of your achievements? This is fantastic. What Mrs. Reynoldshas just handed me is the list of awards that she -- and achievements and honors that she has received over the years and it covers an entire page. And then on 72:00the second page we have her civic activities. I certainly hope that she will let me either keep a copy of this or run a copy of this to go into the record. The years covered by this go back from 1961 through 1979. I believe in 1979 you were awarded for four years service being on the urban renewal commission.
LR: Yes, that was last month.
MB: By Harvey Sloane. And then in between the awards are really just toonumerous to name at this point but will be included in her records. Then under civic activities, such things as being the charter member of the Board of Directors of Park Duvall Neighborhood Health Center; member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People; member of the Urban League; 73:00we've already mentioned that you were former president of the Louisville Real Estate Brokers; member of the National Association of Real Estate Brokers; member of the Minority Enterprise Advisory Council to the Louisville Chamber of Commerce. This really fits in quite well with the job I imagine that you do now, does it not?
LR: Yes, that's the way I feel. I happen to be on there.
MB: When we were talking a little bit earlier, Mrs. Reynolds has not been activein politics now for several years. She is covered by the Hatch Act having a federal position and therefore cannot actively campaign to be involved in political activities. But she has continued to be involved civic-wise with the above mentioned things. She formerly was a member of the executive committee of 74:00the Health Center; the Minority Advisory Committee; Office of Business Development and Government Service at the University of Kentucky; Environmental Health Committee of the Falls Region Health Council; Board of Directors of the Plymouth Sellermen House; Board of Directors of the Air Pollution Board; Board of Directors of the American Cancer Society; Chairman of the Personnel Committee of the Health Center; Board of Management of the Louisville YMCA; member of the Board of Directors of the American Red Cross and Louisville area Chapter. Her religion is Protestant Methodist, and as we had mentioned earlier, she is an active member of the Quinn Chapel AME Church in Louisville, Kentucky. (Tape shuts off, then resumes) There are just a couple of other things that we want to go back and put on the tape concerning the dinner that Mrs. Reynolds and her husband attended during Lyndon Johnson's administration. 75:00
LR: After the dinner we went into the Oval Room and we were entertained byreadings from Hume Cronin and Jessica Tandy and it was most enjoyable. And after that we went to the ballroom and danced, we danced for the rest of the evening.
MB: I believe you mentioned that it was said to you that at that time the numberof blacks attending the dinner was quite high or unusual for a dinner but would you tell us?
LR: Yes, the number of people I think was about 189 and I think there were aboutten blacks. The paper said there was an unusual number of people to be 76:00entertained in the president's private quarters.
MB: He did have two different rooms though had you were talking earlier thatyour husband was not in the room where you were sitting.
MB: I guess the more honored of the guests for this particular occasion were inthe private quarters is what you're saying.
LR: Yes. And of course, they separated the couples, I mean, you know, a husbandwould be at one table and the wife would probably be at another.
MB: Well, Mrs. Reynolds, I just really don't know how to thank you for takingtime and talking with us and reading these memories. I know that you have a grandchild who, some day Stacy Louise may be very proud to listen to her grandmother's accomplishments. We feel that this is just so important for the history of this community and certainly a credit to you as an individual, all 77:00the things that you have done and accomplished. I for one would like to say thank you for what you have done.
LR: Well, thank you for inviting me.
MB: If at any time you would like to make a second tape we would certainly bedelighted to talk with you. If you have any papers or special things that you would like to know will always be preserved -- of course, the archives, this is what we're in the business to do and we would be delighted to be the recipient of anything that you felt that you would like historically to be remembered. So I thank you again and certainly wish you the best of luck in the future as you continue with doing an excellent job at the Small Business Administration.
LR: And thank you for having me come out. I've enjoyed it very much.