Edward H. Nabb Research Center for Delmarva History & Culture Enduring Connections: Exploring Delmarva's Black History

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Enduring Connections Audio & Video

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August 9, 2023

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Record #19

Type Video
Title Reeling in the Past: San Domingo, MD
Description African American residents of San Domingo, MD, Describe their upbringing and lives in that area o…
Duration 1:03:06

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Type Video
Title Reeling in the Past: San Domingo, MD
Description African American residents of San Domingo, MD, Describe their upbringing and lives in that area of the Eastern Shore of MD. March 10, 2009.

This recording is part of the Digitizing Delmarva Heritage and Tradition "Reeling in the Past" collection. For more information, see the [Edward H. Nabb Center finding aid](https://libapps.salisbury.edu/nabb-archives/local-history-archives/2008.035).
Duration 1:03:06
Recording Date Mar 10, 2009
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Record #20

Type Video
Title African- American Tradition in Voice: Slave Spirituals & Gospel Music
Description An evening concert of African-American gospel music presented by the Society for the Preservation…
Duration 1:07:10

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Type Video
Title African- American Tradition in Voice: Slave Spirituals & Gospel Music
Description An evening concert of African-American gospel music presented by the Society for the Preservation of African-American Arts Singers. October 29, 2010.

This recording is part of the Digitizing Delmarva Heritage and History Collection. For more information, see the [Edward H. Nabb Center finding aid](https://libapps.salisbury.edu/nabb-archives/local-history-archives/2008.035).
Duration 1:07:10
Recording Date Oct 29, 2010
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Record #21

Type Video
Title "Putting Delmarva First": Georgetown
Description In this video, Don Rush of WSDL Ocean City interviews several African American residents from Sa…
Duration 1:01:34

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Type Video
Title "Putting Delmarva First": Georgetown
Description In this video, Don Rush of WSDL Ocean City interviews several African American residents from Salisbury about their memories of the Georgetown neighborhood.

This recording is part of the Digitizing Delmarva Heritage and Tradition collection. For more information, see the [Edward H. Nabb Center finding aid](https://libapps.salisbury.edu/nabb-archives/local-history-archives/2008.035).
Duration 1:01:34
Recording Date Feb 19, 2021
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Record #22

Type Video
Title Reeling in the Past! Allen, Maryland
Description Allen, Maryland is a special kind of place, where the people have made the difference in the qual…
Duration 1:10:07

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Type Video
Title Reeling in the Past! Allen, Maryland
Description Allen, Maryland is a special kind of place, where the people have made the difference in the quality of life there and the differences in those people that have kept the communities apart, but have also kept this sleepy rural community together. Celebrate their differences and the the similarities that make Allen, Maryland, truly, a state of mind and heaven on earth.

This recording is part of the Digitizing Delmarva Heritage and Tradition collection, and the "Reel in the Past!" collection. For more information, see the [Edward H. Nabb Center finding aid](https://libapps.salisbury.edu/nabb-archives/local-history-archives/2008.035).
Duration 1:10:07
Recording Date Feb 15, 2021
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Record #23

Type Video
Title Interview with Mildred Duffey James
Description Dr. Ray Thompson interviews Mildred Duffey James about her life and the "South Salisbury" African…
Duration 31:45

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Type Video
Title Interview with Mildred Duffey James
Description Dr. Ray Thompson interviews Mildred Duffey James about her life and the "South Salisbury" African-American Neighborhood.

This recording is part of the Digitizing Delmarva Heritage and Tradition collection. For more information, see the [Edward H. Nabb Center finding aid](https://libapps.salisbury.edu/nabb-archives/local-history-archives/2008.035).
Duration 31:45
Recording Date Mar 3, 2016
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Record #24

Type Video
Title Unshackling History: The Underground Railroad
Description Anthony Cohen, founder of the Menare Foundation, gives a description of the underground railroad …
Duration 1:01:12

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Type Video
Title Unshackling History: The Underground Railroad
Description Anthony Cohen, founder of the Menare Foundation, gives a description of the underground railroad and its operations in connection with the Eastern Shore.

This recording is part of the Digitizing Delmarva Heritage and Tradition collection. For more information, see the [Edward H. Nabb Center finding aid](https://libapps.salisbury.edu/nabb-archives/local-history-archives/2008.035).
Duration 1:01:12
Recording Date Jan 16, 2016
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Record #25

Type Video
Title Reeling in the Past: The One Room School
Description Mary Gladys Jones, Lois Shipp Wilburn, and Evelyn Peters recall their memories of their elementar…
Duration 39:48

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Type Video
Title Reeling in the Past: The One Room School
Description Mary Gladys Jones, Lois Shipp Wilburn, and Evelyn Peters recall their memories of their elementary school years in a single-room school and how the challenges they faced shaped their youth.

This recording is part of the Digitizing Delmarva Heritage & Traditions "Reeling in the Past" series. For more information, see the [Edward H. Nabb Center finding aid](https://libapps.salisbury.edu/nabb-archives/local-history-archives/2008.035).
Duration 39:48
Recording Date May 1, 2008
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Record #26

Type Video
Title The Families of San Domingo
Description Rudy Stanley & Newell Quinton provide histories on the Families of San Domingo, MD. This video…
Duration 1:19:01

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Type Video
Title The Families of San Domingo
Description Rudy Stanley & Newell Quinton provide histories on the Families of San Domingo, MD.

This video is part of the Digitizing Delmarva Heritage & Traditions DVD Collection. For more information, see the [Edward H. Nabb Center finding aid](https://libapps.salisbury.edu/nabb-archives/local-history-archives/2008.035).
Duration 1:19:01
Recording Date Feb 3, 2011
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Record #27

Type Video
Title African Americans in World War One and Local Hero Sgt. William Butler
Description A presentation on African American troops and workers in World War I and Sgt. William Butler, pre…
Duration 59:51

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Type Video
Title African Americans in World War One and Local Hero Sgt. William Butler
Description A presentation on African American troops and workers in World War I and Sgt. William Butler, presented by Stephen Gehnrich from Salisbury University.

This video is part of the Digitizing Delmarva Heritage & Traditions DVD Collection. For more information, see the [Edward H. Nabb Center finding aid](https://libapps.salisbury.edu/nabb-archives/local-history-archives/2008.035).
Duration 59:51
Recording Date Mar 10, 2010
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Record #28

Type Video
Title Haitian Migrant Farm Workers on the Eastern Shore
Description A presentation on Haitian workers on the Eastern Shore by Phil Decker. February 18, 2013. This…
Duration 1:19:58

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Type Video
Title Haitian Migrant Farm Workers on the Eastern Shore
Description A presentation on Haitian workers on the Eastern Shore by Phil Decker. February 18, 2013.

This recording is from the Digitizing Delmarva Heritage & Traditions DVD Collection. For more information, see the [Edward H. Nabb Center finding aid](https://libapps.salisbury.edu/nabb-archives/local-history-archives/2008.035).
Duration 1:19:58
Recording Date Feb 18, 2013
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Record #29

Type Video
Title African-American Tradition in Voice: Slave Spirituals & Gospel Music
Description An evening concert of African-American gospel music presented by the Society for the Preservation…
Duration 1:07:10

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Type Video
Title African-American Tradition in Voice: Slave Spirituals & Gospel Music
Description An evening concert of African-American gospel music presented by the Society for the Preservation of African-American Arts Singers. October 29, 2010.

This recording is part of the Digitizing Delmarva Heritage and History Collection. For more information, see the [Edward H. Nabb Center finding aid](https://libapps.salisbury.edu/nabb-archives/local-history-archives/2008.035).
Duration 1:07:10
Recording Date Oct 29, 2010
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Record #30

Type Video
Title Delmarva Today: "'Round the Pond, Georgetown of Salisbury, Maryland"
Description In this video, Don Rush of WSDL Ocean City interviews Linda Duyer about her book "'Round the Pond…
Duration 34:52

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Type Video
Title Delmarva Today: "'Round the Pond, Georgetown of Salisbury, Maryland"
Description In this video, Don Rush of WSDL Ocean City interviews Linda Duyer about her book "'Round the Pond, Georgetown of Salisbury, Maryland". She speaks about how she became interested in the Georgetown neighborhood, some of the early history of that area, and the influence of African American oral history in her research.

This recording is part of the Digitizing Delmarva Heritage and Tradition collection. For more information, see the [Edward H. Nabb Center Finding Aid](https://libapps.salisbury.edu/nabb-archives/local-history-archives/2008.035).
Duration 34:52
Recording Date Mar 1, 2021
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Record #31

Type Video
Title Reeling in the Past!: Memories of Downtown Salisbury
Description In this video, older Salisbury, MD, residents recall their memories of when Downtown Salisbury wa…
Duration 15:11

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Type Video
Title Reeling in the Past!: Memories of Downtown Salisbury
Description In this video, older Salisbury, MD, residents recall their memories of when Downtown Salisbury was at its prime and still widely visited in the mid-20th Century. Speakers include Pete Cooper, Bud Barkley, Henry Hannah, Marie Waller, and George Chevalier.

This recording is part of the Digitizing Delmarva Heritage and Tradition collection, and the "Reeling in the Past!" collection. For more information, see the [Edward H. Nabb Center finding aid](https://libapps.salisbury.edu/nabb-archives/local-history-archives/2008.035).
Duration 15:11
Recording Date Mar 1, 2021
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Record #32

Type Audio
Title Interview with Allen C. Brown, 25 July 2019
Description Allen Brown began teaching, and later administration, in 1968 right after integration had taken e…
Duration 57:25

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Type Audio
Title Interview with Allen C. Brown, 25 July 2019
Description Allen Brown began teaching, and later administration, in 1968 right after integration had taken effect in Wicomico and Salisbury. He speaks of his experience as an administrator in the early 70's with the freshly-integrated schools and the community surrounding those schools during his career. He remained as a principal at Bennett Middle School until his retirement in 2008, where he later became a member of the Wicomico Board of Education where he remains as of 2019.

This interview is part of the Maryland Humanities Teachers' Institute: Documenting School Desegregation through Oral History collection. For more information, see the [Edward H. Nabb Center finding aid]( https://libapps.salisbury.edu/nabb-archives/university-archives/NCOH-0004).
Transcript **Interviewer:** Letia Cooper
**Narrator:** Allen C. Brown
**Date of Interview:** July 17, 2019
**Keywords:** Desegregation, Segregation, Wicomico County Education, African American Education, Lynching
**Intro:** Mr. Allen C. Brown is a member of the Wicomico Board of Education. He was a teacher in Wicomico County right after desegregation and remains active in the field. He shares his story of education around the time of desegregation.
[Interview Begins at 00:02]
**Letia Cooper (LC):** Alright. Good morning, Mr. Brown.
**Allen C. Brown (ACB):** Good Morning!
**LC:** My name is Letia Cooper and this morning we’re going to interview Mr. Allen C. Brown Sr., Retired educator. I’m going to ask you questions about yourself to get us started and comfortable. Where were you born and raised?
**ACB:** I was born right here in Wicomico County in a little town called Head of Creek on the west side. I went to school in that area.
**LC:** Awesome. Head of Creek, that’s an unusual name!
**ACB:** It’s actually a part of a branch off of the Wicomico river, and it kind of dead-ends in that particular area.
**LC:** It must’ve been nice growing up there. Can you tell me about it?
**ACB:** Yeah. It’s really, um, it’s almost like a one-way street. Everybody knew everyone. I grew up in a time when no one locked their doors. Even though we were poor, we were never hungry. People raised pigs and cows and chickens. Neighbors helped neighbors. When it was hog-killing time, everyone helped everyone. If you wanted a chicken for dinner on sunday, just go in the neighbor’s back yard and get a chicken. It was really great. Everybody was your parent. We would be outside playing and at the end of the day when it would start to get dark, whoever’s house we were at would say “Okay boys and girls, it’s time to go home.” And we might linger on, then they would come out a second time and everybody would scatter. It was just really interesting and a lot of different things have occurred since that time. I’m not sure how much we’ve lost, but I feel that we’ve lost that closeness. I remember when we were at different homes including my parent’s home, if we were playing and it was like the middle of the day, they would bring you in the house and give me the milk and cookies or something like—cool aid, cookies. It was just really great. You kind of miss that after you grow up.
**LC:** Right, that sense of community that was bound by traditions and, you know, like you said: the hog killing. You have your barbecue and you get all your different pieces and you share amongst everyone in the community. So, this sounds wonderful that you all and your parents raised you in that environment, down in Head of Creek. And are you still there or do you still participate in that area?
**ACB:** Actually, I still go to church there. That’s my home church. We had to build a new church about ten years ago, uh, it’s flourishing still. Probably, right now in that communi—my sister still lives in the homeplace. So, I visit quite often, in fact I was down there this week cutting her grass for her. But very few families that attend the church live in the community. They live in other areas. I guess a majority may live in Salisbury as I do. But we’re still members of that church and attend on a regular basis.
**LC:** That’s awesome. It’s awesome that you all, even though you may not live there anymore, your sister’s still there keeping up your family home. I know that brings back so many memories and just having that space to always come home to and make you feel connected. Can you tell me a little about you growing up in the school system here?
**ACB:** Sure. During the time I grew up and started school in 1952, the schools in Wicomico county were segregated. So, the elementary school that I went to in Quantico was first grade through sixth grade. Then there was only one school in that particular area for minority students, actually there were two because there was one in Nanticoke. After that, all the kids once you passed on from sixth grade to seventh grade, the kids came into Salisbury and Salisbury High School and the grades there was six through twelve. Our high school was really a middle and high school. So, I graduated there in 1964, and at the time I was still at High School there, it was still segregated. Had never had teachers different from the black teachers until I went to college. In fact, we never had—the only visitors, uh, the white folk we saw were the visitors who came into the school, and they were usually a part of the—which I didn’t realize then—they were part of the board of education: The supervisors and the directors of the superintendent. But at that level, you don’t really have any real idea of who those folks really are, but you find it down the road. I guess in 1966, it was the first year that they started integrating schools here in Wicomico County. Our school was actually turned into a vocational school. It was called “Vo-Tech”, and that lasted for about ten years. Then they built a new middle school there, so it’s now Salisbury Middle School. But uh, kids from different locales, but still integrated, those were all the schools in the county. But like I said, up until 1966, we were all going to segregated schools.
**LC:** Right. Even though Brown V. Board of Education happened in 1954, it took time. Were you aware of that as a student?
**ACB:** No.
**LC:** You were just going to school every day, living your life.
**ACB:** Right.
**LC:** So, the civil rights movement was more of a—you knew about Dr. King. But was it more on the outside because you were insulated in your community?
**ACB:** You know, it’s kind of funny because I grew up near a golf course and I worked at the golf course. And, we caddied, and there were young white boys who were our age and they would come down and play football with us or basketball at the golf course. Then, when they went out to play golf, they went out to work. It was interesting that even though there was that division, it really wasn’t a division because in this area, we did kind of get along. There was one grocery store on Head of Creek road, and it was run by a guy named Grover Layfield. He was a white man, of course, and it was such—it was a community store. All the folks knew everyone. I could go there, my parents would send me there to get bread or hotdogs or something, and they would put it on the book and my parents would pay them when they got paid. So, it was really, even though it was a difficult time, it really was a time when things kind of worked the way they were working.
**LC:** Right, I understand that. What I hear you saying is that even though the communities were segregated, there was still comradery and you knew each other, you interacted with each other, there was still a level of respect there for each other. Ok. Well, just going back to your schooling, who inspired you-- because I can imagine you becoming an educator, so did you have a teacher inspire you or what inspired you to go into education?
**ACB:** That’s an interesting question, I’m glad you asked that. I guess, when I was in school, and I guess by the time I was in eleventh or twelfth grade, I looked around my community and I saw male black teachers, and they were the ones with the new cars and the new homes. All of the sudden, I said to myself, “That’s what I want to be, I want to be a teacher!” And of course, having a new car, having a nice home and, of course, having the summers off. So that kind of motivated me. That really was the rationale I used when I went to college to become a teacher. One of the most influential teachers I had was a guy named Mr. Polk. James A. Polk. And Mr. Polk kind of took me under his wing and helped me through school, made me his—I used to run the concession stand and the book store in the morning before school started. I was in charge of the book store, ran the book store. And for basketball and football games, I ran the concession stand. When he called me over and said “I want you to do this,” I said “I have no idea how to do this.” He said “You’re going to learn and I’ll teach you.” And so that was a really big part of my life. A person that was very influential when I was growing up and deciding what I was going to do. I remember in 1964, the year I graduated, he bought a brand new 1964 Chevrolet Impala four-door hardtop. I still remember that car. It’s kind of also interesting in my neighborhood, I guess uh, I first built my home there in ‘72. And about 1980... ‘88-’89, he built a home in the neighborhood. So, for a long time, we were neighbors. And he just recently passed, this past year. In fact, I think Mr. Polk was about 103, and was very much fluent and coherent and active the entire time.
**LC:** He must’ve been very proud of you. And I can see-- I can tell from how you’re speaking about him that your relationship was close, and I know he was so proud to have you come back. You know a lot of students when they leave, they say “I’m not coming back home.” What drove your decision, in having gone to a segregated high school and then going to bowie state and then coming back. What drove your decision to come back home and make a difference?
**ACB:** Well I guess, really, I wanted to come back and help my parents. They never, neither one of them... could you turn that off a minute? *Coughing* (Audio cuts for a moment)
**LC:** Okay, we’re going to begin again. You were just telling me about when I asked you “Why did you decide to move back home,” you said it was about your parents?
**ACB:** Yeah. My parents were, they never went any further than middle school. During the time they were growing up, to go to the high school, you had to pay to ride the bus. And of course, neither one of my parent’s parents could pay that, so they only went to eighth grade. By the time they were able to go beyond that, it was beyond the level they wanted to continue their education. So, I wanted to come back home. They did a lot of sacrificing for me to go to college. I know many times they would do things to benefit me rather than doing something for themselves, so I decided I wanted to do that first before I went out on my own. So I did that for about four years.
**LC:** You went out on your own for about four years?
**ACB:** No, I actually stayed at home. One I graduated college, for the first four years working in the school system, I stayed home with my parents.
**LC:** Okay, what was the first school that you were working in?
**ACB:** First school that I went to was North Salisbury. My father had worked the Deer’s Head state hospital in the dietary department. During the summers, I would work at Deer’s Head as a summer replacement for the summer help in that particular area. When I first put in my application, got the first phonecall from the board of Ed., they said “We’ve got a school for you, North Salisbury Elementary. Do you know where that is?” I said “Yeah, I ride by it every day.” and he said “Well, Mr. Mahaffey said go by there and meet the principal.” So, my first school was right there at North Salisbury near Deer’s Head State Hospital.
**LC:** Tell me about the school, tell me about the racial makeup. I know this is early...
**ACB:** This is 1968.
**LC:** Oh, 1968. So, tell me--
**ACB:** 1968. It was kind of unusual because it was the first time I had been involved with students both black and white. When I went to Bowie, we were a predominantly-black school. There were maybe one or two white folks in our classes, and most of them lived off campus. There were maybe one or two who lived on campus. So, my first few years at North Salisbury Elementary was the first time I interacted with both white and black teachers as well as both black and white students. And I taught sixth grade. I taught for three years and then I was promoted to vice principal at North Salisbury and Beaver Run elementary schools.
**LC:** So, you were at two schools? How was that experience?
**ACB:** Actually, what would happen is you would spend a full day in one, then a full day in another. It was trying to introduce a system into vice principals. They couldn’t afford full-time principals all over. But eventually we now have full-time vice principals in most of the schools. Even in the high schools, we may have two or three depending on the population of the school. But it was very interesting. I taught math and science at North Salisbury. And, of course, at that time, everyone taught their reading and language arts, then we’d departmentalize with math and science. So, I taught the math and science for the sixth grade. It was also interesting that during that time, music and art was taught over the television. That was interesting to see that done that way. So that was interesting during those years that we did that. From elementary school, I became a vice principal at Bennett Middle School. I was a full time vice principal at Westside intermediate prior to going to Bennett Middle.
**LC:** And were all these schools desegregated at this time?
**ACB:** All the schools were desegregated. Right.
**LC:** As a principal, from your point of view—and as a teacher in the classroom, how do you think the Wicomico students—because I hear you telling me earler that people get along together in their communities and there was some integration in other ways. Once they came into the school together, how did that go?
**ACB:** My experience during that time: Kids are kids! It’s interesting that I didn’t see them any other way nor did they see themselves any other way. They would play together on the playground, especially the boys. They played basketball, they played softball, and it was just a thing that brought them together. I never had any—remember of any instances where I would have to have said that there was a problem racially in my class or the other classes with kids. More often than ever, the fights that were in middle school were kids fighting amongst themselves. There are very few that I can recall where race was the problem. It was because somebody was messing with somebody’s girlfriend or somebody took somebody's lunch or something like that. It was never really a racial situation.
**LC:** The regular middle school things. Good. Good. Then... between the professionals, how did that do as teacher to teacher?
**ACB:** Well, there were like teams. When I was at North Salisbury, there were two white teachers on the second floor with me and one black female. And we got along well, I mean we each did our part in terms of departmentalizing with the kids, we all planned fieldtrips and things together. So, didn’t really see animosity or any difference. It was very congenial, very cooperative.
**LC:** So, let me ask you this. Why do you think, in some cases, that Wicomico County was able to desegregate at the time that it did with little conflict? Do you think there’s a...
**ACB:** I think what happened in Wicomico County—there's a large population of people both black and white that value education. Their big thing was making sure that their child, their children, got a good education, and many of them became involved. That’s kind of deteriorating right now. We don’t have as much, as I’d like to see, parent participation or parents who I think value education. A lot of them, because they had bad experiences in the school system themselves, don’t really trust that system. So, sometimes it has a negative impact on their children. By and large, I look at what we have done here at Wicomico, our students, when they finish school, go to some of the most prestigious schools in the country. I think this year, they got almost $21 million worth of scholarships, so that’s really impressive. Parents who value education and push their kids that way, it really works out. We have a lot of other programs that we try to make sure that we have that would meet the needs of some kids who are less motivated, that’s a big deal. Also, sports play a big part. If you can get some kids involved in sports, that’s the only thing that keeps them on the straight-and-narrow, especially a lot of fellas that want to play basketball or football or soccer. You tell them “you have to have at least a C-average to stay on the team,” and so they’ll work-- “You got to stay out of trouble.” So, they’ll work to do that.
**LC:** That’s good. After being in the system for forty years, is it forty years you retired?
**ACB:** Yes.
**LC:** You did an extra ten?
**ACB:** Actually, I—when I retired in 2008, I stayed kind of away from it for a little while then, I mi—no actually it was the second or third year they asked me to come in and help out. So, I kind of went back as an assistant superintendent for half-a-year. Then a couple of years ago, I got on the board of Ed. It’s important to me to do all that I can to help make sure that we do the best that we can to provide educational opportunities for all the kids in the county.
**LC:** I see-- after reading your biography, I see that you worked in not only the school system but out in the community. You’ve served in so many different boards and you’ve met so many different people in the community. How would you—say, from when you were younger, how do you think Wicomico has changed for the better or is it the same or is it just...
**ACB:** It’s like everything else. It’s a slow process. There have been changes, there needs to be more, we’re growing. A couple of things have happened that’s not so good for the county. We have lost some of the businesses that were once good-paying jobs for our county. We had companies like Campbell Soup Company, Chris-Craft, Dresser Wayne. When they left, those industries weren’t replaced. We have a lot of service industries, and they pay minimum wage, and we have people now who are having to work two or three jobs to equal one, and I think that has kind of impacted the family structure because the parents really aren’t there to provide the support and guise that they should be doing because they’re working two or three jobs. The other thing that’s a big factor in the school system is the fact that, I think, here recently, the county council, as well as the city and other businesses, are now beginning to partner with the school system. They see the value of having a good school system to bring in different industries and workforce to help provide and propel their jobs. So, we’re in a growing spurt, but it’s a slow process. We’re going to get there.
**LC:** Right. So—and I believe you because I hear it in your voice. You all are working towards that. I know you have friends in all the different boards that—I'm sure you’re mentoring someone who will also follow in your footsteps. I hope so. We definitely need that. Let me ask you a question: Just in my research, when I was looking at neighborhoods because you said you were from Head of Creek neighborhood, and I see that there’s a Cuban neighborhood and there’s jersey neighborhood, and different neighborhoods, black neighborhoods in Wicomico during the fifties and sixties. One thing I was looking at, they said that—I wanted to ask you, did you have any memory of when highway thirteen and fifty were built through certain neighborhoods?
**ACB:** Yes. I remember when the main—what is downtown main street, that was the main thruway between route fifty and ocean city in that area. I remember when we used to have parades and the bands would march down main street. And I remember when they built the bypass.
**LC:** Was it a good thing? Were people happy about it?
**ACB:** Well, what happened... Even though there was progress, the black community lost out on that deal, because at one point, in the area of Lug (?) street downtown, there were many black-owned businesses and they kind of went away. That was a big loss to the community. We have a few businesses now that are black-owned and black-run, but not like it was at that particular time. There was one area where there was a—if you want to call it a black movie, a black restaurant, a black five and dime, that type of thing. The acme market was there. So, the concentration that where black-folk shop was in that particular area. As integration came to be, people began to branch out and go to other areas as well, and we lost out in that way.
**LC:** Ok. I was also reading, you brought up movies, I was reading that during the sixties, and you might have been in college at this time, in ‘66 I think it was the Biracial Commission or a Commission with a similar name, they worked to try to work with the business owners quietly to try to help with segregation. Instead of doing sit-ins, “Let’s see if we can get the business owners, we can work together to get the business owners to change and to open their doors.” And so the movie theaters desegregated, and do you remember—so, before you went to college, it was one way, then you come home from college--
**ACB:** When I was in high school, there was only one movie that we could go to which is called the “Ritz”. Then shortly there—I may have been doing my last couple years in high school, they began to let us go to the other—there were three other movies, but we had to sit in the balcony. *Chuckle* You could go to those movies and you could sit in the balcony, but you couldn’t sit downstairs. And I kind of felt “Hey this is really dumb,” because I remember seeing all the time that kids would throw M&Ms or popcorn on the people below so why wouldn’t they put white folk at the top? *Both chuckle*
**LC:** You all had better seats!
**ACB:** Yeah, that was interesting. And I remember a couple times, there was a movie—I can remember it now-- it was called “In the Heat of the Night” (Sidney Portier), and we have this long line of folks. Then there was a group of black folks, they came and got us and we didn’t have to wait because there was nobody upstairs. The downstairs was loaded, so people had to wait for the second movie, so we got to go ahead to the front of the line. So, that was kind of interesting. Then I guess by about 1968, by the time I came back and started teaching, you could actually sit anywhere. For example, the Five and Dime had a restaurant and you could go there and you could order things, but you couldn’t sit down to eat. So, that kind of phase went through while I was in college.
**LC:** Right. So you saw—I always think it’s so special to speak with someone who has seen the change and seeing the differences. We complain a lot today because *chuckle* about things but, you can always say “Well I lived and I knew this and I know things will progress.”
**ACB:** I guess one of the biggest things that, you know, I look at and see the progress and growth, uh, I’m now a member of the Rotary Club of Salisbury. I remember when that was strictly a white organization. I joined Rotary in 1998, and right now—this year—this past year, I received the Rotarian of the Year and I’m a past president of the Rotary Club and those guys, in my opinion, are the kinds of movers and shakers in the community. They see the value of doing good things for the community and including everyone. So, it was really pleasing to work with. It’s one of the organizations that I—we meet every week and I enjoy going there every week. It’s one of those organizations that I think we do a lot for the community. I think last year we gave away over $186,000 to different organizations and things.
**LC:** That’s a blessing to the community in so many ways. And then for you to see that change and for you to be a part of that and get the accolades, congratulations on that. Know that you live in a community that fifty-sixty years ago is now what you thought it could be or what you all thought it would be, that’s wonderful. While I was reading about the biracial commission, when I’m hearing you talk about the Rotary Club and all the other organizations you’ve been in, I think about that being a kind of precipice for a lot of people being able to get along and the respect between each other. So, your children were reared here? Your child, your son?
**ACB:** Yeah. That’s another thing that I—that we have a problem with. I live in a neighborhood, at one time there were about anywhere between twenty and thirty kids in the neighborhood, and all of them—all the parents valued education. So, our kids went to school here and all of them went off to college, but none of them come back here. Including my son! *Both chuckle* These are the kids who would be able to give something back to the community, but they see more opportunities elsewhere. Out of those twenty-eight kids, there were three kids who have come back home. [Difficult to understand name], she was just one of them who is now in the legislature. Her sister, I believe, is here. Maybe one of them, I think Roy has one son that’s here. But all the others, they’ve done well and now they’re across the bridge or other places making a living. They come back to visit.
**LC:** Was that neighborhood that your son grew up in diverse?
**ACB:** No. It was a—it's still a predominantly-black neighborhood.
**LC:** And what neighborhood was that?
**ACB:** It’s called “Hyde Park”. It’s down route fifty, just past the Salisbury Armory.
**LC:** Chicago Hyde Park. *Both laugh* So, your son decided—did he go to school here?
**ACB:** Actually, he didn’t know what he wanted to do so I said, “well, if you don’t know what you want to do,” he’s one of those kids where “I got to find myself”, so I said “you go find yourself at Warwick community college. We’re not going to pay big bucks for you to go off to college and not know what you want to do.” So, we did Warwick for a year, then he transferred to UMES for a year, then he went to where we had hoped he would go: Bowie State where my wife and I both went. He ended up going there. He is in technology, he’s one of those computer gurus, and he’s done really well. And like all the other kids from the neighborhood, they’re doing very well.
**LC:** You all, as parents, put the ownness on your children. You were going to raise them a certain way, make sure they achieved, and make sure that they, as my parents used to say “Do even better than we did.” And your wife, was she an educator as well?
**ACB:** She was an educator too. She retired as a vice principal at one of the elementary schools in east Salisbury.
**LC:** Good! So, your son had no choice but to do well.
**ACB:** Yeah! *Both laugh* He would say it was kind of difficult for him with my being in the school system and my wife being in the school system, so he had no choice but to be good. And everybody knew him and knew his parents.
**LC:** Right, he couldn’t get into any trouble!
**ACB:** And also, there were probably, let’s see—one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, about ten educators in my commu—in the development I live in. So, the kids there, most of the parents knew all the other parents, and most of the teachers knew the parents as well, so a lot of our kids didn't have a choice but to do the right thing.
**LC:** Being that your neighborhood is still kind of, well mostly segregated—well, mostly black parents living there, homeowners, do you see that—do you think it’s changed every year? Is there still pockets of just white families in the neighborhoods, black families over here?
**ACB:** It’s kind of sprinkled now, because there’s one white family in my neighborhood now. We’re friends, I mean, we’re good neighbors. If you look at some of the, I guess, newer developments in the stills or the cover mill village, even though they start out as being predominantly white there are now black-folk living in there. So, it’s kind of sprinkled, it’s getting better.
**LC:** Good, it’s getting better. Changing over time. Just in reading about some of it, about all the different neighborhood names, I love that Wicomico has all these different neighborhood names. It’s really nice to say, “Oh! I’m from or I’m from...” *chuckle*
**ACB:** Indian village is one neighborhood. Jersey road *chuckle*
**LC:** All those places and then there’s communities like Fruitland that are built up in these different areas. Everyone has a story from those areas. [Couple second pause] Oh, I was reading about the first-grade centers program. Were you around when that started?
**ACB:** Yes, mhmm.
**LC:** And the ownness I was reading about is to make sure the kids, as they were integrating, that you had they integrated in the first grade.
**ACB:** Yeah. The ide, the thought there was the earlier you bring those kids together, the better it’s going to be for them to kind of have some cohesiveness and it worked. It was also kind of a way to integrate schools and to continually integrate schools. But it had twofold meanings and one was to kind of get those kids interacting earlier on and at the same time try to have some racial balance in the schools. And in reality, if you stop to think about it, the kids of my neighborhood actually had to ride by about four elementary schools to get to Beaver Run because they needed black population in that area. So, it was kind of – it was kind of difficult to understand, but being an educator, I understood why what was being done was being done. Because in reality, where I live, it was predominantly black. So, if our kids went to the closest school of those neighborhoods, they would be all black. There would be no integration at all. So, you had to do something.
**LC:** Is that—what I hear you saying is that the kids in the area being bussed over to a school further away and, you know, those bussing conversations today that were having. Sometimes, at the moment it seems like, “Well, why would they go this far?” and then now, to see the “Why” the reasoning, the hindsight. You know they say hindsight is 20/20.
**ACB:** And that all could be remedied if, in fact, they put the same amount of funding in every school. Unfortunately, whether we want to admit it or not, white schools were better served and better financed, in the earlier years, than black schools. If we, on a parallel level, made every school comparable, there wouldn’t be a need for that.
**LC:** I would agree with you on that. So, as a board member now, is that something that you work towards, to make sure of?
**ACB:** Yeah. That, and the other thing I’m working toward and I’m pushing is to have diversity in all the schools. Right now, we have four high schools. In those four high schools, we don’t have a male black principal in any of the four high schools.
**LC:** And how has that changed? I know when you came in and you were promoted you had other black males in positions?
**ACB:** Well, black males aren’t going into education anymore. There are more opportunities that are opening up, and so we’re struggling. Every county in vying for those few, and those few go where the dollars are. And so, a lot of our teachers who or individuals who could work here in Wicomico county, they’ll go across the bridge and make five, six, seven thousand dollars more.
**LC:** They have families to support, lifestyles to support. So, how do you think you would encourage, how do you think you all could encourage...
**ACB:** I think we’re going to have to grow our own. For example, say to a kid “If you want to go to college, we’ll help you go to college, but you have to come back and work for us for three or four years.” and we think in those three or four years, we can get them hooked and help promote them up the line.
**LC:** I hope you all can accomplish that, because that’s sorely needed. As I’ve been reading through your stuff, I see “Salisbury High School Alumni Association”. And I just think that’s so great because your school, alumni, your graduate class, you all have really tried to keep the memory alive.
**ACB:** Yes, we have. We have—actually every year we’ll have some type of gathering to commemorate the school history. Especially when different classes have twenty-five-or-thirty-year anniversaries, so we do that on an ongoing basis. We have a scholarship fund; we award scholarships each year.
**LC:** I read that a Mr. Chipman?
**ACB:** Charles H. Chipman.
**LC:** Started the—and the community the school commemoration.
**ACB:** Bought the property. Bought the land that the school is built on.
**LC:** Yes, yes. That is wonderful in itself, because to have the community come together and do that for you all, and to make sure you had what you needed. And the teachers...
**ACB:** And the fact it was called “Salisbury Colored School”.
**LC:** Oh, really?
**ACB:** Which is now Charles H. Chipman Elementary.
**LC:** So, they wanted to honor... Ok.
**ACB:** Actually, when they integrated it, it changed from Salisbury Colored School to Salisbury Elementary school. Then when they build the new school, it was changed to Charles H. Chipman Elementary.
**LC:** And they kept part of the structure?
**ACB:** Yes, the archway out front. And Mr. Chipman was also instrumental in, uh, during the unrest years, he was instrumental in helping the community stay quiet and peaceful. Many times, the councilmen and things would meet with him and he would then, in turn, meet with teachers and the community and try to do what he could do. Put things at rest and try to calm down the community.
**LC:** He was a bridge-builder in a lot of ways? Reading about Wicomico County, I feel like that was the case where there was bridge building. Trying to—probably the adults seeing what was going on in the rest of the nation, especially the south, that they would want more... an easier way to transition. And so, Chipman was a great part of that. Were there other people in the area who were influential in that?
**ACB:** Yeah. There were a number of individuals, but Mr. Chipman had kind of a handle on all of the teachers. So, many of the teachers that worked with him during those years were kind of like his cabinet. They would do things in their communities, where they lived, to help bridge that gap.
**LC:** What would you say has been the biggest gain from integrating for African Americans in Wicomico County and for Caucasians here in Wicomico County?
**ACB:** I guess the biggest gain I would see is opportunities opening up for minorities. If, in fact, you had something on the ball, if you had some skills or knowledge, you kind of express yourself, you’re given an opportunity to do that. For example, there are people who are now funeral home that are black-owned, and they’re given the opportunity now to move forward and have better businesses. Myself, for example, being a part of the Rotary Club, which was once thought of as an all-white organization. I remember I used to work down at green hill country club. You could work there but we couldn’t play golf. But I can go there and play golf now. So, it’s a slow process, but things are changing for the better. The opportunities that are opening up for Wicomico County. You know, years ago, in my mind, I would’ve never thought that we would have a black as a president of the United States. But, you know, things can happen. It’s a slow, but you’ve got to work at it and that’s what we’ve got to continue to do.
**LC:** When you look at the progress and, you know, the slow and steady as they say, and that’s the wisdom I think you all have given my generation.
**ACB:** That’s why one of the things I want to see, I want to see more minority black males in the school system because I think our kids need to see that. It’s still at the point where I can walk into one of the schools and see a young man with his pants hanging down and say “pull your pants up” and they will do it. They may drop it when they get around the corner or whatever, but they will do it. If a white teacher says that to him, he’s going to say “these are my pants. I can wear them any way I want.” And we’ve got to get over that. We need more individuals in the school system to help bridge that gap. Not only in the school system, but in society in general.
**LC:** Do you think that integration was good for the white community too? That it had the—it may not have had the same type of change, but in your meeting people and talking with them, have you all had these conversations?
**ACB:** Sure. Interesting that you say—many of my white friends, when we talk—you know, we have the same struggles. Many of them have worked in chicken houses or on farms, which I didn’t-- I just thought that they had everything, and they didn’t. Many of them went to college and they had to work to get through there as well, but they had the one step up on me when they were going into the job world because they were white and I was black. But now, that has kind of lessened. A lot of white folk benefitted from integration as we did because we got to see, and they got to see, that we’re people just like they are, just like everyone else. A lot of them now, I can say, are my friends. We socialize together, we do things together, break bread together, it’s interesting.
**LC:** You make a better county because of it. You make a better Salisbury. Is there anything else you want to tell me about that time period or just in your today?
**ACB:** Yeah. You know, one of the things that I often thought about, even though I grew up during segregation and hard times, I never felt threatened. I never can remember a time when I was called racial names to my face. I don’t know how I avoided all that, but it never happened to me. I’ve heard people talk about the experiences that they’ve had, and I just never experienced that, and I think a lot of it has to do with the manner in which you carry yourself. If people respect you, you respect them... I just had a good feeling about people. If I say cordial things to them, they’ll say cordial things back. I will work with them; they will work with me. And that’s what happened.
**LC:** That’s probably a testament, not only to you but your family, the people in the county itself. I was comparing Wicomico to, what was it, Cambridge?
**ACB:** Yeah, Cambridge.
**LC:** The differences and unrest in Cambridge—well I don’t know if I could call it unrest. There was one incident I found that was called the “Salisbury race riot” where a deaf-mute was shot and killed by a police officer.
**ACB:** There really—right downtown there was a hanging.
**LC:** Oh, really?
**ACB:** There was a lynching in Wicomico County years ago. A black was accused of raping a white woman, and they actually hanged him and burned him.
**LC:** Wow...
**ACB:** I’ve read about it and heard people talk about it, but I've never really experienced anything like that. A lot of things happen in your life which change your perspective on things. Typical example would be—My son is married to a Caucasian, and I have two grandsons who are mixed. I met their mother and I met her parents and they’re people like me. So, from the getgo, it was a very cordial and understanding and we got along well. Like I said, with a lot of the organizations I belong to, ina few of them, I’m the only African American in that group or there may be one or two of them. But never have I ever been addressed to me as being an African American or a black or whatever, it was A.B. President Brown or Vice-President Brown or something like that. It’s a person, with the same kinds of interests, same kind of desires, and wanting the same kinds of things for their community.
**LC:** I think it goes back to you all being able to come through the civil rights movement and as the doors opened in Wicomico County, people being able to work together. It sounds like that was a benefit and just all the way around. It’s a full circle for you and your life.
**ACB:** The biggest part of everything I think in terms of the family is the family structure. My parents were parents. My community, all the folks there were parents, and I think we’ve lost something there. Many of the kids today are kind of raising themselves. Many of them are families without male influence, that’s a big negative. Many of them, parents don’t see the value of an education. Those who do, make out okay. Those who do, do well and they move forward.
**LC:** Where do you think that disconnect is? Where did it start? Did it start recently or do you think it was a slower break down?
**ACB:** I’m not sure how it started. If I knew that, I would have the magic bullet—the silver bullet that could fix things, but I do know and I look at the school system today and look at the community today, and you see all the broken homes, all the parents. You know, even back—I remember there were a couple families in my neighborhood where the kids were raised by grandparents. But even though they were raised by grandparents, there was still that parenting piece there, and that made a big difference. Somehow, we’ve lost that, particularly in the black neighborhood, in the minority neighborhood. That influence, that male dominance, that home influence, it’s just gone. It’s a struggle.
**LC:** It definitely is a struggle; it definitely is an opportunity lost for a generation. That’s not to say everyone in that generation because I’m sure there are lots of bright, shining stars.
**ACB:** I think, also, a lot of it has to do with economics. If you look at the drug culture, many of the people that get caught up in that don’t have the finances to do the other kinds of things to stay away from that, and they find that an easier way to go.
**LC:** It’s the legacy of our issues in country to a certain degree. A legacy that some people overcome that others cannot or choose a different path.
**ACB:** The other thing that sometimes is a big factor is... you’ll have families which kind of seem to follow the family, you know? The father’s in jail, the son’s in jail, the grandson’s in jail; it’s just a perpetual kind of thing. How do you break that cycle?
**LC:** I think you might solve that. *Both chuckle*
**ACB:** We’re working on it.
**LC:** If you do, you’ll solve it for a nation. Any final thoughts that you can leave me about desegregation here and this time in Wicomico?
**ACB:** Well, like I said initially, it’s been a slow process but I do see progress and I feel confident that that progress will continue. I look at the growth of the community, I look at the growth of Salisbury University. I should’ve mentioned this, but when I was going to college and put in applications, Salisbury University was not accepting minorities at that time in 1964.
**LC:** You were a rebel, huh?
**ACB:** There were about six of us who wanted to go to Salisbury because in reality, it was easier for us to stay home and go to school than to go somewhere and have to pay room, board, and tuition. So, there were six of us who applied to go here, and there were all kinds of reasons given for us but the real reason was because they were not accepting minorities at the time. To come back some years later and get my Master’s from here does show progress. To look at this facility and look at the individuals that work here and are part of this, it does show progress as well.
**LC:** Do you remember what year you got your Master’s?
**ACB:** I got my master’s in eighty.... eighty. Yeah, 1980.
**LC:** 1980. I think there was one black professor that we learned about, a Talbot?
**ACB:** Yes.
**LC:** Yes, Mr. Talbot. I read some of his papers yesterday, I was very impressed. Did you happen to know him at all?
**ACB:** No, I knew him but I never had him as a teacher. In fact, *chuckle* when I got my Master’s here, all the teachers I had were still white teachers.
**LC:** Is the faculty diverse today?
**ACB:** Yes, the faculty is diverse almost like our school system: it’s sprinkled. There’s not a large number of them. I know there are—in fact, one of my friends, Dr. Gibson, was a professor here before he retired. There are a few others I know, um, Dr. Flemming... no, Claris Mall was her name. I think she was recently retired from here. But there a few, not a lot. I noticed as I came to the inauguration of the new president... for Salisbury University, I guess three or four months ago whenever that was, and they had all the staff walking in, and I remember maybe about four or five minorities in that group.
**LC:** I’m sure you all would like to see more.
**ACB:** Yeah.
**LC:** Because it would give op—when the students in your area see that when they go to college, they’re also going to have that. I know that being in Maryland, I’ve been the first black teacher for some of my students this year. So, and they, you know, it’s nice—like you say, a role model. To be a mentor for your student as they go through school. So I know that it’d be great if it became even more diverse in women, men across the board. So that’s something that—like you said: time and cultivating young black males to come here and then even come into the college profession.
**ACB:** And I’m sure the college’s probably struggling the same way we are even though it’s a growing college and progressive college, the salaries here are probably not comparable to other places. Many of them apply and they go where the dollars are.
**LC:** Is it all about the money? *chuckle*
**ACB:** Sometimes it’s about the money, but sometimes it’s about locale. We have been able to attract teachers here because of our proximity to Ocean City. You’re only, what, a couple hours out of Baltimore, three hours out of New York; you don’t want to live there but you like to visit there to go to the theaters, the zoos, the operas and things like that so you can make a weekend of it. That has been a big asset for the community as well. And, also, it’s not as expensive to live here. It’s expensive, but not quite as expensive as some other places. You know, you could actually—a home that you would pay $300k-$400k here, across the bridge you’re going to pay $600k-$700k. A half-a-million-dollar home here is going to be a million-dollar home there.
**LC:** Living better is Salisbury. *both chuckle* I guess that’s going to have to be the draw to have some comeback, like you said, to cultivate the ones you have here, and hopefully they'll come back and make a difference.
**ACB:** There’s a lot of serenity here. Even though we have violence and crime, it’s not at the level of Baltimore City. *Chuckle* It’s a little bit better.
**LC:** *chuckle* I’m sure it is. Salisbury seems like a very nice city, from what I’ve seen so far. Like I said, I’m going to take a little bit more driving to the areas today to see what it’s like. But overall, from what I’ve seen, it looks like a nice, quiet college town.
**ACB:** You said you brought your mother—your mother lives here?
**LC:** She lives in Waldorf and we’re about to move to Bowie, yeah.
**ACB:** Okay. See, my son used to live in Waldorf.
**LC:** yeah, she wanted to move to Maryland. She was tired of the quiet country life. *Chuckle* Now she’s in the big city.
**ACB:** Yeah, Waldorf has grown too.
**LC:** It is. And Maryland in itself is more progressive than South Carolina. I think you all have a one-up on us in that. *Chuckle* But we’re making it too. I’m going to end our conversation now, but it was so nice to speak with you and learn so much—I've learned so much!
**ACB:** I hope that what I’ve said has been helpful to you. It’s been interesting and I’ve enjoyed talking with you. I thought about when Creston called me, “What am I going to say?” Well... “Be yourself.”
Duration 57:25
Recording Date Jul 25, 2019
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Record #33

Type Audio
Title Interview with Newell Quinton, 11 July 2018
Description Newell Quinton is a veteran of the US Army Signal Corps during the Vietnam War. He was raised in …
Duration 43:41

All Fields in This Record

Type Audio
Title Interview with Newell Quinton, 11 July 2018
Description Newell Quinton is a veteran of the US Army Signal Corps during the Vietnam War. He was raised in and currently helps preserve the San Domingo community in Wicomico County. In this interview, he describes his tour of service and the intricacies of his duties in Vietnam as well as his time in the US Army Reserves after his tour was complete.

This interview is part of the Maryland Humanities Teacher’s Institute Veterans Oral History Project. For more information, see the [Edward H. Nabb Center Finding Aid](https://libapps.salisbury.edu/nabb-archives/university-archives/NCOH-0008).
Transcript **Interviewer:** Matthew Crosom
**Narrator:** Newell Quinton
**Key words:** Signal Corps, Vietnam, US Army Reserves, Communications, Careers
**Intro:** Newell Quinton shares his experience as a member of the Signal Corps during the Vietnam war as well as his experience in the US Reserves following the downsizing in the Army towards the end of the war.
Additional Information: This is one of two interviews conducted with Newell Quinton hosted by Enduring Connections. To listen to his 2005 interview, [click here.](https://libapps.salisbury.edu/enduring-connections/media/interview-with-newell-quinton-11-july-2005)
[Interviewer and narrator chat idly for the first few seconds about the recorder. Interview begins at 00:19]
**Matthew Crosom (MC):** So, I want to thank you for doing this. I really appreciate that. I see we’ve filled out the biographical form and the veteran’s release form. Today is the 11th of July, 2018. My name is Matthew Crosom and I’m here with the Nabb History Center collecting an oral history of a Vietnam Veteran names Quinton Newell—I'm sorry, Newell Quinton. Newell is your first name; Quinton is your last name.
**Newell Quinton (NQ):** Yes.
**MC:**Ok, during this interview, how do you want me to refer to you? You do have military rank.
**NQ:** Newell is fine.
**MC:** Newell? Not Mr. Quinton? You held a military rank and deserve to be called that.
**NQ:** That’s quite alright.
**MC:**So, in some points in the interview, we talk about things that you and I have talked about before and you know I know about your experiences. For the point of this interview, we have to say those pieces again, because the people who will listen to this many years from not don’t know what I know. Ok. When we’re done, this will be archived here at the Nabb Center and with the Library of Congress. You know, at any time, you can say “I no longer want to do this,” and we’re done. If, at the end of this interview, you choose not to do this, I will immediately press delete and its gone.
**NQ:** Alright.
**MC:**Ok. You feel good?
**NQ:** Sure! Fine.
**MC:**So, Newell—there you go, I'll call you Newell—What was your motivation to join the military?
**NQ:** Well, I think... people in my class and group, we were finishing high school, going on to college. I finished high school in 1962 and went on to Morgan State University from ‘62 to ‘66. During that period of time, of course, the Vietnam war was raging and, of course, the draft was certainly affecting everyone. So, it was, subconsciously, we knew that eventually called upon to serve either by being drafted or being in the ROTC program. Before that, I think our discussions listening to our parents and their experience during world war two, because our parents, of course, were in that great generation; my father served in the Army and everyone in my community, all the men roughly, served their time in the military. So, as a young person, you certainly were exposed to their experience being in world war two and even my great uncle was in world war one. So, before going to college, we heard their experiences being in the military and they were very proud of that; proud of having served, proud of the experiences they had being overseas and the relationships they formed. Subconsciously, that was there as something maybe to do. I think they also saw the military as a great opportunity for them to be recognized as men, to contribute to the community and to the country as it was at the time. I know my father did and certainly my uncle did, highlighting their experiences. Having the opportunity to go to Morgan State University at that time, all freshman and sophomores had to take ROTC. You were in the program for two years. I think, um, I had been leaning toward it, I liked it, so I was able to go to the advanced ROTC program and, from leaving Morgan, I was able to get a commission, I accepted a commission in 1966, into the Signal Corps, and at that time in September, I was on active duty. So, it was a formulation of events in my life that led to “maybe this is an opportunity for me.” You have to think, too, I don’t think there was any one thing that drew us to the military, it was always in the background. “Maybe this is a good thing to do. You serve your country and you do something significant; you’re recognized for having served.” All our community leaders, men particularly in the community, felt good about having served and so it was always on our mind. Even with Vietnam going on, many of us felt as, coming out of high school, eventually you’re going to be drafted or you serve in some capacity and that opportunity of going to school and getting a commission, still that we would eventually be in Vietnam, didn’t deter us, we still thought it would be the right thing to do.
**MC:**Could you tell me about your military career like a timeline? Start with where you started and tall about where you went and the dates because the other part of my project will be matching up news information, not about you but about those same places.
**NQ:** Sure, I'd be glad to. That was really, uh—it's still very fresh in my mind some 50 years later because I think I really have the greatest regard for the people who taught us and trained us even in the college arena at Morgan State University, the professors of military science and the Candry(?) there. I give them, really, total credit for preparing us for what they had experienced and telling us what we could expect. Accepting a commission, being on active duty and going into the military, and I was on Army ROTC so, again, I believe they did an excellent job of preparing us and teaching us. That was in 1964-’66 when I was in advanced ROTC. Upon graduation, my first assignment was to go to Fort Gordon, Georgia. Signal Center school in Augusta, Georgia, which, for me at the time, that was-- I tell kids in the community, “that was my first airplane ride.” I went to Friendship Airport, at the time, which is now BWI, but I think it was Piermont Airlines. (Chuckles) We left friendship and went to Augusta, Georgia, and I remember the airplane was props at the time. It went through a thunderstorm and you could see the lighting flashing through the propeller blades. (chuckling) I said, “Oh lord, what is this I'm into?” But that was my first airplane ride going into Augusta, Georgia-- Fort Gordon, Georgia, 1966 in September. I just remember my first airplane ride going into active duty. I tell them that story because it’s amazing what you experience through your military career if you make the best of it. So, we were all in the Signal school, which I thought was amazing. We learned an awful lot. We were taught about basis in communication a wire can make communications, telephone... mainly wire and telephone at Fort Gordon, at the time, some radio communications. After finishing basic officer training at Fort Gordon signal school, I went to radio officer training at Fort Monmouth which was, to me, a higher-level training. We learned radio communication with some very excellent instructors, gave us the fundamentals of radio communications: FM, AM, Signal Side Band, which is still—oh gee, I can still see the professors taking us through the basics and really getting us prepared for what to expect we would encounter if we were deployed to Vietnam. I didn’t know it at the time, but we all knew, eventually, we would be called to go to Vietnam but I think these instructors, having taught so many classes with the war going on, knew that that’s what we would be exposed to. They did an excellent job preparing us. Even Fort Monmouth as our-- I was (inaudible) to find a radio officer, that was the military occupation specialty at the time. I left Fort Monmouth, then next duty station was Fort Bragg, North Carolina. At Fort Bragg, you went into different units, so I was assigned to the 13th Psychological operations battalion and training at Fort Bragg. Of course, at Fort Bragg, what we actually learned to do was to operate very large AM radio sets. They would be trained for use in psychological operations— broadcasts to the enemy forces for what we were there doing and to convince them or give them our perception on what the United States Military was there for, or to sway their opinion. The same thing they were doing to us, we would do there. So, the biggest training at Fort Bragg was actually to learn a 50,000 watt am radio station that we were setting up training to use... um, interesting story. At Fort Bragg, I got orders for Vietnam thinking that my unit would actually operate this AM broadcast station. Nevertheless, it didn’t happen because once deployed, we were basically replacements for people on rotation. So, upon arriving in Vietnam, which would by 1967, leaving fort Bragg, I was assigned to the signal battalion, 4th infantry division. The equipment that we were trained with, it was two prototype units that went south, I went north with other replacements. They would simply rotate people on this rotation. I was in the 4th division up in the central highlands. Like any other signal officer, your duty assignments would be to rotate someone else that was in that unit. It was a learning experience. Interestingly enough, I don’t have any regrets for the thing I was exposed to. You know, you think about it differently now as you would then, but at that time, speaking for myself, you’re trying to do the very best job that you could knowing that, being in the signal corps, you were supporting a unit in combat that you really wanted to make sure that the communication systems were working, people in truly severe situations could contact whoever they needed to back to division headquarters to division artillery to what have you. That was our focus, being in the signal unit. You had radios, VHF, signal sideband communications, telephone communications within a small unit going back to headquarters, which was really our duty. My platoon was actually assigned to support the 173rd airborne in Dak Toh(?) for most of our time in Vietnam which, I think to this day, we did a reasonably good job. (Chuckles) We were committed to it, so, I think I had a good crew. Yeah, I had high regards for those men that were there. You build those relationships, I think. So, I give all credit to people who trained me first going through ROTC and through all of the different schools to prepare us for what to expect and they did an excellent job in that. So, upon leaving—rotating out of Vietnam, I then went to Fort Monmouth to the career course. I was planning to be a career all the way. I went to Fort Monmouth on a career course. First, I went to Fort Drum, New York, as a posting officer. Fort Drum, at that time was supporting the Army and National Guard forces as a large training site and I was there for a year as a signal officer but upon leaving Fort Drum, I was able to go onto the career course at Fort Monmouth and that was another experience of really getting into the physical—not the physical, but more the technical part of how equipment actually functions and operates and techniques that the military were using and it was like a graduate course in communications there at fort Monmouth, which I truly enjoyed. Upon leaving the career course at Fort Monmouth, I went to Aberdeen Proving ground at the Army Materiel System Analysis Agency and I worked with several engineers. My job at Aberdeen, really, was to get them what I thought was perspective of a signal unit from the Vietnam perspective in the field to engineers in the lab trying to perfect something else. So, that was also a very interesting assignment, working with the engineers. We travelled a couple times back to Germany to see 5th and 7th Corps, units in the field, to see if we were applying actual engineering techniques to improve what the units were using in the field. So, that’s what we hopped and all. At that time, the military was changing from—I should say, the political process in the country was President Johnson... it was during the early part of the Nixon administration and we were downsizing.
**MC:**So, this is 1969 by now?
**NQ:** 1971 or thereabouts. What happened is after that, you had big downsizing in the military, the administration was preparing to move out of Vietnam, leave Vietnam. So, you had this downsizing of forces and many of us, me included—as I said, at that point, I was planning a career—make the military my career. But with downsizing, I was into the reduction of forces and basically forced to leave the active duty and that’s when I was able to join the US Army Reserve.
**MC:**What’s the difference between being in the reserve and being in the army?
**NQ:** Well, you have the active component, and you have US Army reserve that maintain training the skills for discipline and specialties in the event that you want to increase your force strength, which is quite import when you look at the force structure of the military. You have the active component, the reserve component, and the National Guard. National Guard, of course, are under state control unless they’re activated, but the reserve components is there to expand the capabilities-- (notification tone) that’s my cellphone, sorry—in the event that you need additional forces to fill out an active component or to serve in a role if the active component in another location is deployed elsewhere, you have people in your reserve structure that are trained and able to perform that service. So, that’s what happened to many of us in 1971 with downsizing, we moved into the reserve component and we continued our military affiliation. But you had many people who might be trained but spend their time in the reserve component as opposed to being on active duty.
**MC:**So, as a reservist, you were not fully—not full-time employed with the military? You did something else, right?
**NQ:** I worked for the US Government.
**MC:**You worked for the government?
**NQ:** Yes, I worked for the government at the time in many different capacities. Matter of fact, the first civilian job I had was right there at Aberdeen Proving Ground, then I transferred to National Institute of Health, then from there went to the Executive Office of the President in Office Administration, then from there to the department of Veteran Affairs where I eventually retired from the department of Veteran Affairs. But all the time, I was still affiliated with US Army Reserves.
**MC:**Wow, that’s exciting. So, what would you say were your most positive experiences with the military?
**NQ:** I think the military gives you an amazing opportunity to learn different... um—Just amazing the different skills you can acquire. I encourage people all the time to use the opportunity given to them that you probably would not see in any other capacity because you’re doing so many different things, you can acquire so many different skills and disciplines and then decide which way you want to channel your energy in having this opportunity. I think that’s what happened to me. As a commissioned officer, I learned to deal a lot with management issues and leadership skills which we were trained at, and simply working with people; knowing how to work as an analyst, or management analyst or systems analyst to solve problems. I don’t think you get that exposure in such a short period of time other that what we did in the military. I mean, it’s amazing the different scenarios coming at you with a lot of different skill sets that you are—equipment, opportunities, and circumstances that you are simply exposed to. If you take advantage of it, you can acquire untold skills and expertise that would take you a lot more time in other environments. You just are exposed to so much.
**MC:**If you could go back and talk to 18-year-old you, what would you tell him?
**NQ:** The one’s that I do talk to, I simply say, “The military is not for everyone. The things you might see on TV is not what you want to focus on, you want to focus on, ‘Do you really want to serve? What’s your motivation for serving?’ and to think in terms of what you can learn.” Everything that is available from a business perspective, you will see that occurring on the military side of the house. So, if the opportunities are presented from a military perspective, it’s not it’s there for combat per se, you still are learning and training in an opportunity that you still can take advantage of and develop your skills in education and still apply it later in life. So, I find that to be another avenue for a lot of 18-year-olds that might not be able to afford four-year college or an academic environment but still can apply themselves and have a successful career and consider another avenue. It may not be for everyone, but it should not be discounted because it does allow you to do things that you may not have ever been exposed to. You don’t have to—it's not a once-in-a-lifetime decision, it’s a question of “try it, and see if it fits;” If it doesn’t fit, you can always do something else but, gee, give it a try to see if you’re learning, if you’re acquiring skills that you can apply somewhere else. I also encourage people all the time, “The skills that you are learning can be applied elsewhere, you know. Once you leave the military, you don’t have to stay in it for 20 years, 30 years, you can be there for 4 years but you can be exposed to an awful lot of information and knowledge that you can use to develop a whole career elsewhere. So, a terrific opportunity to give you the discipline, the development, the professionalism that you may not have otherwise. I really think a lot of—in my experience, a lot of young men and young women too, before I left active duty, were acquiring great skills to use in life that they may not have acquired elsewhere just by the relationships with people and the things they were doing, and it’s just a matter of—the same skillsets can be used over out of uniform that you acquired in uniform and it’s not hard to teach people that. They just need to be exposed to that and try it. So, I think that’s quite important that I would say to an 18-year-old.
**MC:**When you were actually in Vietnam, what were the conditions like? You had a— you worked someplace? What sort of equipment did you use?
**NQ:** Well, of course, for me, I was in signal corps. I was in the field most of the time. We had multi-channel radio sets, single-sideband for vehicles and ¾ ton trucks, the multi-channel sensor on 2 ½ ton trucks. The environment, obviously, you’re in the field. You’re on cots, in tents, and it’s like most other things—in training, you learn to be as comfortable as you can be in that environment. For my unit, I think we focused on the job that we were there to do, without a doubt, and we felt very proficient in what we were doing supporting a combat unit and that battalion headquarters or that brigade headquarters and so, your time was occupied by maintaining equipment and supporting the people you were there to support. I mean, it was dusty, rainy, hot, sweaty, but... it’s like, through working with people, your mindset and skills in leadership, you don’t focus on that part of it; you focus on what you’re there to do. So, time, for us, moved relatively quickly, even during the worst of days. It was the supporting each other, which was very important, to know that we were going to get through this. It’s critical to know that you build the team spirit that we’re going to make it ok, work with each other, and you’re not alone. That cohesiveness within the unit, within each other, to know that together we’re going to do what we have to do and we’re going to be ok. It’s not... I mean, there are some times where you relax. You had some side activities to ease your mind. There’re times where the food is great, there’s times where you’re eating c-rations and each one of those things you have to use what you are given to maintain your mental focus and learn to enjoy it. I mean, we would have a good time dealing with c-rations (chuckles), you know? Knowing there’s a hot meal coming. You just don’t focus on the negative all the time. It’s that team spirit that keeps you moving and that’s very important for people in a bad situation to know they can depend on each other and that relationship. You build that team spirit.
**MC:**So, let me understand the players on the team here: So, there’s a person with the combat unit that has some sort of radio device that radios to you and you connect it with regional command?
**NQ:** Well, we were—what I was doing, let me say it was like a “hub” that we were the connecting link between the actual combat element coming back to a headquarters that’s then communicating to a division headquarters. So, we were in supposition with what’s referred to as a brigade headquarters, a battalion headquarters, but out in the actual field, there’s some combat elements there doing some fighting and they had the tactical equipment that would be coming back to our hub and we would have to give them the communications support or the radio support to go back into a division area for whatever support or equipment that they need. That support may be communicating to division artillery, it may be for logistics, it may be administrative or it could be anything. So, that’s why I say it’s a multi-channel communication because it’s basically telephone equipment or it could be a singlesideband radio equipment which, at that time, would be teletype sending messages or it could have been FM radios, just a “walkie-talkie”. So, you have a combination of things that the signal battalion is supporting to a combat unit. So, it was kind of—we were like the AT&T or the telephone company for this significant force in the field for any type of communication they might need whether it’s, at that time, ticker-tape, radios, telephone, you name it. If you were talking to somebody, we were that vehicle that allowed you to get back there. Microwave, all of the above.
**MC:**So, for those service people in the field on radios, it’s 1968, 1967, those radios don’t transmit very far, do they?
**NQ:** Nope.
**MC:**Things are different now. So, how far away are those guys?
**NQ:** Uh, it varies. You could be... a few clicks, a couple miles or less? When you get into the multi-channel communication, you’re talking thirty miles because you’re talking out of sight. If you’re in the right location and we’re using a VHF communication microwave, as far as that signal is going to travel and you might be 30-40 miles away.
**MC:**I read about signals that are bounced in the air to be bounced back down.
**NQ:** Sure, bounced off the ionosphere. Optical gain, and thank the Lord for it! (chuckles) Yes!
**MC:**A program called “Back Porch”, that was the idea of this cluster of communications.
**NQ:** Sure. Often times, you’re in a location where you cannot see. I mean, these things are supposed to be designed for line-of-sight. Line-of-sight, you’re looking at one antenna looking and another one. Well, there might be something in the way so you’re actually adjusting your antenna to get that optical gain, to bounce it off the ionosphere, and bounce it off another obstacle; it might be a mountain top or it might be something so that signal basically bends with the curvature of the earth to travel a greater distance. Been there and done that many times. Once you’re set up, it’s a matter of “bring up the signal” and you’re adjusting the antenna. You had an azimuth of where you’re supposed to be aiming at, but then it might be fuzzy and might not be clear, so you make some adjustments and this is just training and it’s not something you learn in the classroom, it’s something you apply after instructions they have given you. All the tools, you’ve got to put the tools together and say, “look, what’s in your tool kit?” You know, you’re out there, start using your tools. You start bending that antenna, circling a bit, and you’ve got guys on what we call the “Kiem (?) lines” says, “look, what does this sound like?” At that point in time, you don’t have days to get this thing right. We’re talking a few minutes to a few hours, “let’s get it right! People are depending on us to, you know, get them into communications.” Optical gain is real. It’s-- once you have that signal coming in from multi-channels or line-of-sight, you’re tied down (Chuckling) That’s it! Nail it down! So, anyway, you take me back to some (Laughing) but it was fun, when it comes in.
**MC:**When did you know it was time to be done? What was the end—so, you ended your active duty service with the downsizing in force after President Nixon was reelected. I know he campaigned on the idea “I’m going to get out of Vietnam.” Then you entered the reserves. When did you know it was time to be done with the reserves?
**NQ:** Um... I had been in the reserve units training and doing different things to maintain our proficiency. Matter of fact, in the reserve I did mostly logistics rather than communication because I was the unit, I was closest to when I was living in Baltimore, I was the 5/10th field depot and the 2/75th supply and service battalion, it was logistical units which was very enjoyable. So, again, it’s the opportunity to learn a lot of different skills. So, there, you’re looking at the—what's closest to—industrial complex, supplies and equipment and moving and supplying different units. So, for 20 years in the reserves, I really was the logistical units. As you advance in your grade, the opportunities, they’re there but they become fewer and fewer as your advancing grade and that’s what I felt was happening to me. As I was promoted to Major, I was signal officer of—again, I joined in as a Lieutenant-Colonel, I was fortunate to become a battalion commander, which, again, gave me a great opportunity to work with people and be exposed to a lot of different things from a manager standpoint. But, then, after the battalion assignment, you get promoted to a colonel and then you move into a stagnant position. At that point in time, the things that I was doing, I felt it really wasn’t beneficial to me or enjoyable. I didn’t feel that I was contributing in the way that I wanted to, and I said, “Well, it’s probably time for me to retire, not continue in the reserves.” That’s what I did in 1991 and, you know, family was changing, my whole civilian job was changing, and I said, “It’s been great. I’ve learned a lot, been exposed to a lot,” and I was not in a unit, per se, I was in the reserve on individual assignments taking different jobs, and I didn’t find that as being as rewarding as being in a reserve unit where you knew you were training to do a specific function.
**MC:**Now that you’re fully retired from the reserves, what do you do?
**NQ:** Oh, well, when I retired from the reserves, I was still working for the Department of Veteran Affairs, but when I retired from government service all together, I did some hobby-farming and would keep busy in the community. I was tutoring some youth in the community for a while. I mainly work with my family and my spouse in working with the church and the community, which is very enjoyable. I do little hobby-things with animals and gardening and available for tutoring for kids who might be pursuing higher education or just plain-old high school training, which is good.
**MC:**Some of your children have been in the military as well?
**NQ:** No. I have a daughter and son and neither one of those went into the military route. It was not their leaning. We talked a lot about it, particularly my son. I said the same thing to him as I say to other youths, “It’s not for everyone. If it’s not your cup of tea, there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s a great opportunity.” The period of time in our country when I was born, the military was regarded as an avenue to achieve or acquire different lifestyles. I don’t know if it’s still held in the same regard today with the all-volunteer force and the way people tend to see their training opportunities or the development vehicle that it gave a lot of people when I was 20 years old. I think that’s significant. I highlight that a lot of young people that going into the military, you acquire so many skills for life that it’s hard to imagine just not to learn to fight but to learn to mature, to make decisions, to learn how to manage your own personal resources, to focus on your things in life; it was that environment that gave us all the tools that we use today. So, for a young person, I said, “That might be something that you might need to consider because it enables you to just move forward in life. Not that you’re going to be a career soldier or a career sailor or what have you, but it’s those life skills that you get from that environment that could be very beneficial for you.”
**MC:**Do you think that, through you here at the Nabb Center, we might be able to find other people who served in the military in the Vietnam Era to do this same sort of Oral History project? Do you know other men and women here in the Salisbury area that could be resources for that?
**NQ:** I think so. I think—yes. To answer your question in short form, yes. I think all of us have our own unique perspective, you know? It’s interesting. When I talk to people in the American Legion or other service organizations, all of us came away with personal experiences and things that we think were good and things we think were bad or things that were fair or unfair. It’s good to hear their views on it. Mine, particularly, I believe it was very rewarding for me both in maturity, for the things I learned and can apply, for the things I saw that I didn’t like as well; I mean, it wasn’t all a bed of roses but you had to learn how to make a decision and you had to learn how to deal with life. I don’t mean that in a negative sense, per se, but that’s the facts that you’re dealing with. I think most other people, in their perspective, would have to say the same thing. It gives you a lot of tools, a lot of vehicles that you simply know how to bring together and, uh, I see many people who wrestle with things and I think, “Why are they having such difficulty with that? Why can’t we move on? Why can’t we bring things to closure?” Without some exposure or some training, people do wrestle with everyday things in life that, if you have some other tools to fall back on, it should enable them to move forward. So, I think talking to people with different perspectives, different careers, we’d be good to hear from somebody else. None of us have all the answers and I find that, also in my military experience, if somebody brings something to the situation from their perspective that helps us make a better decision, I'm totally convinced that individual decisions are not necessarily in the best interest of any of us. We tend to make better decisions by discussing it with each other and taking different perspectives and then coming together with a course of action. Whether you do it at the supper table at home or talking with your spouse or anybody, say, “Gee, I never thought about that.” It’s that information that’s formed by someone else’s experience or what they learned. It helps make better decisions. Sometimes you have to back up and look at yourself and say, “gee (chuckles) am I really coming across that way?” So, you know, you have to adjust.
**MC:**well, Newell, I really appreciate you taking the time to do this oral interview. This has been a fantastic experience. We’ve heard about your experience in-country in the signal corps in Vietnam—
Duration 43:41
Recording Date Jul 11, 2018
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Record #34

Type Audio
Title Interview with Harry Church, 27 February 2019
Description Harry Church, age 84 at the date of the interview speaks about growing up on Delmarva and working…
Duration 1:36:02

All Fields in This Record

Type Audio
Title Interview with Harry Church, 27 February 2019
Description Harry Church, age 84 at the date of the interview speaks about growing up on Delmarva and working for the Dorchester County Board of Education. Mr. Church’s property rests on what was his great grandfather’s farm. Mr. Church’s great grandfather was a slave, fought in the Civil War and used the pay received to purchase the land. Harry Church’s family has been on Delmarva since the Civil War era.

This interview is part of the Salisbury Growth and Development Oral History Collection. For more information, see the [Edward H. Nabb Center Finding Aid](https://libapps.salisbury.edu/nabb-archives/finding-aid.php?id=3187).
Transcript **Interviewer:** Erik Gaskill
**Interviewee:** Harry Church
**Short Summary:** Harry Church, interviewed by Erik Gaskill on February 27th, 2019 in Delmar, Maryland for the Salisbury Growth and Development oral history project of the Edward H. Nabb Research Center for Delmarva History and Culture. Harry Church, age 84 at the date of the interview speaks about growing up on Delmarva and working for the Dorchester County Board of Education. Mr. Church’s property rests on what was his great grandfather’s farm. Mr. Church’s great grandfather was a slave, fought in the Civil War and used the pay received to purchase the land. Harry Church’s family has been on Delmarva since the Civil War era.

[Recording starts, interview begins 00:06]
**Erik Gaskill (EG):** Hello my name is Erik Gaskill and today I am here with Mr. Harry Church of Delmar, MD. Today is February 27th, 2019 and we are sitting in Mr. Church’s home in Delmar, MD located a few miles north of Salisbury University. Our topic today will be Mr. Church’s memories of growing up in the area, life growing up on his father’s farm, time spent in the Armed Forces, and changes and development over time in the Delmarva area. So Mr. Church I wanted to thank you again for welcoming me into your home and making time for this interview. I was thinking we could start with some biographical information if that’s alright with you.
**Harry Church (HC):** Sure.
**EG:** Excellent, so just wondering when were you born and where were you born?
**HC:** I was born on March 14th, 1934 and I was born on the farm where I lived for the rest of my life until I was grown. It was on Connelly Mill Road right here in Delmar, MD. I attended school in Salisbury, Salisbury elementary. Colored elementary. Salisbury Colored High school. That is still written on our diplomas (chuckling). Of course, growing up on the farm in the 30’s, all of us came along during the depression and we were blessed I guess to be on a farm because the farm produced vegetables, had cows, horses, we had crops that we could also. My mother would put them away for the winter. We had can goods. We had hogs. I always had plenty to eat on the farm. I don’t ever remember going hungry on the farm, that’s a plus to say (chuckling). Then when we graduated high school we all went to college except for a couple of us. You either went to college or you’re going to work and we did know work back then because everybody works on a farm, you have to, there are so many diversified jobs on a farm. Work is just a natural thing, you had certain things to do and you did it, you had to feed hogs, you had to feed chickens, ducks or whatever fowl you had on the farm and of course you had to work in the fields in the summer time and we mostly did truck farming.
**EG:** So with truck farming, what kind of crops was your family growing?
**HC:** Watermelons, cucumbers, pickles, corn, and later on we did get into soybeans and whatnot as time went on because there was a mechanization that took place that really changed 2 farming tremendously, in other words it got away from the horse and horses and plowing by horse and cultivation, that sort of thing. We got into some small tractors, and that changed a lot, to put it that way.
**EG:** Do you know when your family made the switch to tractors?
**HC:** Roughly, let’s see I was in college. Shortly after I went away to college, I don’t remember the year frankly.
**EG:** Okay
**HC:** We had a Ford diesel, we had one roofed four row tractor and we had the Ford diesel. The other tractors were gas. We had a one little four row and a Ford was a two row I remember correctly because I had that back in the barn for a number of years after my father passed. He passed in 1992, spring of 1992.
**EG:** So how did running tractors, what change did they make on the farm?
**HC:** Well mechanization I would call it. In other words, you got away from the horse and plow, one horse and two plows. You used tractors instead. It also offered a change in the crop. You’re pulling up gosh, your pulling seed machines I call them, much larger seed machines. Cultivation was done and after cultivation you move into chemicals, spraying and that kind of thing. I can say something about that. I think everybody had their own opinion of the chemical. I think today we are suffering from it because I know after living through it, we have fewer birds. Fewer birds in the area and we also have fewer bees. I’ve notice that here on this house. For a number of years I was here I was always cleaning the house of “dirt dotters” and these long tubes made out of dirt, I haven’t seen those in the last seven or eight years. And then a lot of times I’d get stung out here because there would be bees that built nest out in the shrubbery and whatnot. I’d be leaning over and cutting and then all of the sudden it would feel like somebody jabbed me in my thigh (chuckling). I haven’t had that to deal with in a few years (laughing). But anyway, it has made a difference. I wonder and I may be wrong but I think that’s what’s happening to the bees. If you kill mosquitos, I mean a bee is an insect, and why shouldn’t that have an effect on them? I’m hearing more talk about that all of the time on the radio and on the TV. But anyway it has changed drastically in that regard because now as a farmer you can plant your corn, you can plant your soybeans and come back and put your insecticides and whatnot down and you don’t touch that, you put your weed killer in there and you don’t touch that until fall until its ready to be produced. Which makes a tremendous difference, it used to be a lot of cultivating and hoeing and that all went extinct so. It’s been a big change, big change.
**EG:** So what kind of work would your family do during the winter time? Were you growing crops or doing supplemental jobs?
**HC:** Well my father worked at Dupont. He worked at Dupont in 1941 and that’s when everything started moving again as far as we were concerned and most people because of the surge in jobs and the war was on so there was more jobs for people to get and people were 3 prospering a whole lot better than they were during the thirties. It made a big difference. I know my father was a happy man, with eight kids and a wife, I don’t know how he did it sometimes but anyway (laughing). I often think about but he worked and he was the only one working and he sent my sisters and me to college and a lot of times we were so close together in age. I mean one was born right after the other you know, so somebody, you’d catch up to somebody who is in college so you’d have two people in college or three people in college you know (laughing) I don’t know how he did it! But anyway I know that my two older sisters, I was the third child, and I know that to send them through we cut wood during the winter, I guess some people would call it cutting timber.
**EG:** Oh, okay.
**HC:** But it would be pine-wood sold in five foot lengths, however large you wanted to muscle it.
**EG:** Could you tell me a little bit more about the timber milling?
**HC:** Yeah, we started out, I remember we started out and we were cutting a lot of timber back then and we started cutting a lot of wood they call “lapse”, when they would cut a tree down and they wouldn’t use it all the way down to the end. We would call that part a lap and it was long enough to get maybe two pieces out of it. Sometimes it was long enough to get three to five pieces out of it that they left there. So we started cleaning up in the wooded area. Then we started cutting some of our own. The person who bought it there was in Sharptown and he lived down in Virginia, would send them to a paper mill in Virginia, we’d haul it to Sharptown right there on the river. The barges came and took it down river to the paper mills. But it was hard work but it made good money. It made good money, the barge was 6x6x6. We’d haul it down to Sharptown and headed right to the wood deposit right there on the shore and they had the tractors with the claw on them and come by and pick it up and carry it on down to the barge. Yeah, and I know that I saw the timber cut on the farm, twice. Takes about twenty years to raise that kind of timber. I saw the timber cut back there twice in my life. The first time I noticed that the woods was clear. And when I say that it was mostly timber there wasn’t any junk stuff in there, they called it junk but it’s not junk, undergrowth. There was undergrowth in there but when you cut that timber out it was clear. And most of it, some of it was old growth timber. Some was twenty-five, thirty and some was forty. Forty years so but anyway when we were going through school, around the house was clear and it was told to us when we were thirteen or fourteen, “when you finish high school you can go to work or you can go to school, it’s your choice.” And if you didn’t want to be in school you moved out of the house and you got a job and a place to stay (laughing). But it all worked out well, it all worked out well.
**EG:** Excellent, I wanted to go back and ask a little bit more about your schooling in Salisbury for elementary and high school.
**HC:** Yes.
**EG:** So I was wondering, what was the commute like each morning? 4
**HC:** You wouldn’t believe me. We were first to get on the bus and last to get off (laughing).
**EG:** Oh gosh (laughing).
**HC:** What happened was they would pick us up over here on Connolly Mill Road, we’d go to Delmar, turn on Chestnut Street and there was a family there on Chestnut Street, and we’d pick them up then go out to a place called Woodlawn, you know that place where the shopping center is right now? And we would pick the kids up out there but it wasn’t there then. I’m sorry I got the names wrong, it was over there on Stage Road. The kids lived over on Stage Road, they hadn’t built Woodlawn at that particular time. The church was there and there had been a school house there. If you look into our centennial that we had in Wicomico County, you look into that and you’ll see that, gosh what year was that? Hm. It showed different areas of Wicomico County, where the schools were, where the churches were, the rivers, hmm I’m trying to think of what year that was. Anyway, we were talking about that one time about genealogy. My great Grandfather, well one of my great grandfathers he was my father’s grandfather. Runs ships, he was a captain and he ran ships to Baltimore. He had three boats. And he carried produce to Baltimore and of course brought things back. And his name was Captain Jim Shears. And he had these three boats and (I didn’t know the name of them at one time) because two of his sons, he had eleven children, two of his sons ran the other two boats. He ran one and when they got of age he was running three of them. I still, it’s still a mystery to me, I’ve fished hear Quantico Creek and I don’t know how, my father said they did it! All the time they had them boats, they ran them up Quantico Creek to Quantico.
**EG:** Wow.
**HC:** (laughing) that’s what I said too! I’ve been to most areas in Quantico Creek, some of it was by land and some of it was by boat. I’ve been by the prison farm down there, I came up there once but what I did was I followed the depth finder you know because that old creek there goes in and out. Some corners you got thirty-five, forty feet of water and other corners you may just have ten you know? And I’ve caught a lot of fish in that place. My father and I were talking one day and I said, Dad I don’t know how they ran sailboats up there. I mean you’ve got the wind factor, and boats don’t have breaks, you know (chuckling). But apparently, they had some kind of guidance system that they used to go up there but anyway it was a lucrative business, I would say they were quite prosperous. He lost his first wife, she was a, you know how some people just naturally have a business head? She was that kind but they lived well, they lived well. And his children, when somebody has eleven children or twelve, they’re going to have a lot of offspring with somebody somewhere. Somebody is going to be quite fertile (laughing). There were a lot of them, there were a lot of them and they’re some still living, one just passed. Last weekend, weekend before last. I was at her funeral and she was ninety-nine. Still had her right mind, knew all of us. She went blind a few years before she passed but she wanted to live to one-hundred and she missed it by a few months because her birthday would have been in April. She’d have been one-hundred years old in April. But anyway, I met her when I was sixteen years old. She lived in Quantico, on Nebo Road in Quantico and I had to stop there quite 5 a few times to get oil in the car and I was doing a little sporting back then, you know (laughing). She always teased me, she’d say, she’d hear the car running and she’d say “here comes little Harry” (laughing) but she was a remarkable woman, just a remarkable woman. We had a camp meeting about five years ago and a lot of Churches (last name of family members, not various congregations) came down from the city and they were around her just like bees were around a hive because they were answering questions from different people that they had never heard of up in the city, and she would tell them who they are related to, who their parents were and that kind of thing. I thought it was amazing and her last days were spent in a nursing home but she still knew everybody. I walked up behind her one time we had a lunch in down the corner from Quantico Church and I said, “Hi, I bet you don’t know who this is”, “Yes, little Harry.”
**Both:** (laughing)
**HC:** Anyway there were quite a few Churches and some may still be living, I know a lot of the young ones are still living because they came down and started asking questions to her because they heard these names and whatnot you know and wanted to know who they were and what they did and whatever. But she was a remarkable woman and a blessed woman to have lived ninety-nine years and carry all of that with her you know. I tell my daughter one time I said, you know, my thing is I’d like to live as long as I possibly can, but I want to know who I am (laughing). I think that’s the main thing but yeah.
**EG:** So I was wondering as well was how far back have you been able to trace your family roots in the area that is?
**HC:** Hmm. I’ll tell you, when I came along and there were a lot of older people and I always could go back, during my time of coming, I could go back to back in the 1800’s. Because when you start thinking about it, if I’m sixteen years old and a number of people who are still living, they were born in the 1800’s or 1900’s, and I may not remember all of them but there are some I can still see now down in Quantico who were old men when I was with my father going with him on a boogie down to Parrot Farm on Wicomico River and that’s been a number of years, my gosh. Some of them I remember their faces, I don’t remember their names you know but I remember seeing them and dad saying, “This is so and so and so and so”. Things…how do I want to say this? Sometimes things happen in families where somebody doesn’t speak to somebody for an x number of years, that kind of thing you know it really fouls up remembering who was who.
**EG:** That’s really great that you can trace it back to the 1800’s though!
**HC:** Mmhmm, yeah. This lady who just passed, I’m trying to think of how many brothers and sisters she had, oh gosh! Might be ten but it’ll take me a little to look a while. I got her obituary right over there. But anyway, my mother’s grandfather, gosh, Daniel Johnson, I don’t know how old he was, he lived to be in his nineties, ninety-six, ninety-seven and he had a daughter who took care of us when we were little who we called Aunt Bert, she was my grandmother’s sister 6 and she would take care of us when momma was having a shower and what not. She lived to be ninety-four. Very rarely was she sick and it seemed like a lot of times when people live that long they don’t stay sick long before they pass. She didn’t because I went to see her when I was working, I worked in Dorchester County and I would go to see her after work sometimes and she was at ninety-four when she passed. Little bit of a biscuit I bet she only weighed ninety pounds wet and she was that size all of her life. There were eight of them in that family.
**EG:** That’s a lot of family.
**HC:** Yeah I knew all of them, her brothers, knew all her sisters, yeah.
**EG:** So you mentioned working in Dorchester County, could you expand a little on that?
**HC:** Yes, I went over there in 1965 (Home phone rings) (Pause Recorder)
**HC:** I went over there in 1965 and I worked Dorchester Country Board of Education for thirty-three years. I retired in 1998, excuse me it sounds like a long time (laughing). But anyway I remember going across Maryland Avenue Bridge and I saw all of these troops were over there then. They were there because of the burnings and the difficulties we were having, social problems, that kind of thing. I asked myself what are you doing here? I’ll never forget that going across the bridge. I got across the bridge and they had that old armory over there then and so I didn’t know what I was doing here and I was on my way to the superintendent’s office to get a job. Well I had done my practice teaching over there and I walked into his office and was still questioning myself (laughing). I had job offers in a little place on [RT] 213, I’m trying to think of the name of it. They wanted me to teach over there and I would have had to live at least fifteen miles away or something like that. And I said no way, I can’t do that. I can’t drive from Delmar over here, that’s too much. And I went all over to Harford County and they offered me a job and the guy told me, well I was old enough to know because I had been in service and I had been around and worked in different jobs, you know that kind of thing. And they wanted me to work in Harford County and he said you wouldn’t have any extra work to do, no night basketball games and all that kind of thing. And I looked at him in the eye and I didn’t say it, but I thought well where are you going to be in the next ten years, are you going to be at this school as the principal? Chances not and all of that will go down the wash (chuckles). So, went to Harford, offered a job there. Went to just outside of Washington, I’m trying to think of the name. Montgomery County. I went to Montgomery County and was offered a job there. Got a call back and they wanted my picture and all that stuff. I got back home and there was a letter at the house. I was living in Fruitland then. There was a letter that came from Dorchester County and it wanted me to call her and apply to a job in Dorchester County. My wife was already working in this county, she was teaching in this county so I didn’t expect her to want to move anywhere of course because she had tenure and all that kind of thing and I was always quite comfortable coming home because it offered me all of the things that I wanted to do in my spare time like fishing and hunting and taking care of the home, that kind of 7 thing. So I went back over there and I got in the superintendent’s office. He has me sitting over there, “Mr. Church, where are you from?” and I said, “Delmar”, “Really?” he said, “My wife is from Delmar so you must be okay too.” (chuckling). Yeah I don’t think she’s living today, I know he passed. He said you go and see Mrs. Jolly and if she wants you, she’s got you. I said okay and I was there for thirty-three years. So I taught the shop six or seven years. Anyway, I became principal of the new tech center out there and I stayed there an x number of years, got that started and I was looking around for something else to do because after a while you stay in a job, I don’t know it doesn’t get boring but you’re doing a lot of things that are repetitive. Every year its something in that time slot that you gotta do. Another job came up at the board, supervisor of all those programs and I stayed there until I retired. Enjoyed it. Someone said, “how did you do that did you enjoy it?” Yes I enjoyed it, I enjoyed the kids, I learned a lot from the kids. I mean they’re always buzzing around you know. You think he’s not paying attention but he is and he comes up with this idea about doing something you know? I had a guy and when he came into shop I asked, do you know what shop means? He said no sir. I said it means work! Everyone works in a shop (chuckling). Yeah I had a ball with the kids. Then when I went to the Board there was a lot of kids who knew me because they were in the older building and then they moved into the new school and I moved into the new school. And in the span of maybe three years I didn’t know the kids there, all of them were new but they were still kids, they were still kids. I would walk down the halls, I would walk down the hall and tell a kid to do something and never stop walking. Like “take your hat off” and they’d go, “who is that man?” (laughing) they pulled em off they pulled em off.
**EG:** So sticking to the whole school topic, what was your experience like for high school in Salisbury?
**HC:** Here in Salisbury?
**EG:** I’m sorry, where did you go to high school?
**HC:** In Salisbury, Salisbury High School.
**EG:** Okay, yes.
**HC:** I liked it, I liked it good. I went all the way through. On one side you had the elementary school and of course the elementary, middle, and high. The middle and high, then we didn’t separate like we do now you know we’ve got middle school and well middle schools. Period. And then you’ve got high schools and they do that in some places. I think Laurel they’ve got the schools right beside each other there in Laurel. A high school and a middle school. But I liked it there, I got to know everybody, every kid in the county because the school was segregated and everybody came to Salisbury High School. See at one time the kids would go to school say in Quantico, some would go to Nanticoke, some would go to Fruitland up until the 8th grade, and then they’d come over to Salisbury High School so you knew every kid that graduated in this county. You know going to the high school there on Lake Street. And I liked it. I think we started out with sixty some, 8 maybe seventy kids coming through there in my class. And some kids I went all the way through school with in the same class which is…different. Different then anyhow than it is now of course. Kids are zoned now with different schools. Lot of memories there at Salisbury High School. The lady I married, went to school with her all the way through high school, same class (laughing). Yeah, yeah.
**EG:** That’s excellent. So I just wanted to clarify a little bit about your father’s farm. So I know that he went to go work for DuPont in the forties, did he still own the farm when he went to work?
**HC:** Let me tell you about that farm. It’s a little different. If you go in the records sometime and I imagine you do go through the records because you check your records, the school was bought by my great grandfather with his mustered pay that he got from the Civil War. It’s still called on the records here in the county it’s called Sandy Wales Farm. He was in the Civil War and I think his name is in the record books over at Salisbury State. But he bought that farm with his mustered pay and when I popped into the world and started learning what is going on, why we had all of these apple trees, pecan trees, flowers in different places on that farm. Well now he did that. All of that stuff, little peaches and pears, apples, (???), he planted all of that stuff, we already bordered with a lot of it. We did a lot of bordering back then, we got every single wart on the knot. And I think he had five girls. But anyway, I’ll show you that in a minute, I’ll show you the plat of that farm. The slave owner was from England and of course back then they were doling out land, I guess land grants to different people and she got that land grant and of course she bought slaves. I think, I’m not sure about this but I do know the lines are on Connolly Mill Road. And this is really going back because I haven’t seen one in a long time, but they had stones. They were odd shaped stones, they were almost triangular shaped. But you know I was taught that stones grow, you know they add on to the base of the ground you know? And there is one still I know where it is I don’t think anybody took it up but a lot of the times the farmers would move it when they plowed the field. And that was not too far down from where our farm was. Some old man had a farm out on Jersey Road and daddy told me, claimed that the lines were wrong. But you know you have land grabbers and when you measure land, the lines on land, if the line is moved one inch in one place and its changing all the way down that line and moving over. He couldn’t have carried those stones so far, I remember seeing him, he was a little thin guy. I don’t know what he would weigh wet, but anyway (chuckling). Anyway he moved every one of those stones, all the way back because they start from Connolly Mill Road and went all the way back to almost Adkins Road, straight as an arrow. As to the original spot where he put ‘em, I wouldn’t know unless I had some kind of meter to identify stones you know, and there are a lot of ‘em down that line. A lot of them went down that line. But anyway my father and the only people he knew passed, his grandfather passed, the land went to his mother and some to her sisters then in their passage and all of these are between spans of time, in their passage the land went to somebody else. But what my father did, when he came along what he did was get a hold of all of those pieces except one or two of them. But in the back there is a family cemetery and my great grandfather is buried back there, Sandy Wales is buried back there, his wives, he got married twice. My father, one of my brothers, my sister, my brother in law, my grandmother that is my father’s mother, and her 9 husband George Church, and then one of my aunts Grace Church and her husband. And then there were two of his children buried back there too. Two of his girls. They came home, yeah. And that’s just, they’re still together but it’s just relatives were there, were still on that property.
**EG:** Wow that’s incredible.
**HC:** Mmhmm. And it’s a time thing when you look at it, you know. People lived there what, sixty-seventy years, sometimes ninety years you know, yeah. I know my brother is buried back there and my sister and my father. I’ve got a brother in law buried back there, aunt and her husband, grandmother and her husband. And there is a baby back there. Daddy never knew his brother because he died when he was a baby. He’s buried in there too. But nobody knew exactly where he was of course there is nothing there now. Back then a lot of those graves held wooden boxes in that period. Mmhmm, yeah. Time.
**EG:** Yeah it seems to fly and I don’t know where it all goes.
**HC:** Mmhmm, my daughter was over here talking about it the other day, she comes home and says “I can’t believe that I’m sixty years old” and I said, “I can! I saw it all!” (laughing). Yeah, yes sixty years old.
**EG:** So you were mentioning earlier when you graduated high school you and your sisters had to make a choice, either go to college or work. So you chose to go to college?
**HC:** Mmhmm.
**EG:** So when was that and what college did you attend?
**HC:** This was in 1952 and I went to A&T University in 1952. I went to their technical school now you would call it and I majored in their Auto mechanics. I took auto mechanics, I took welding, I took drafting, the whole nine yards. Then when I finished school I decided that I had really made a mistake. Because also of course at that time I took ROTC. But my father told me that if you go another year and get your degree, I only had a certificate, you gotta get a degree, he said I’ll pay for it and I’ll buy you a car so you can get around in it. I wouldn’t do it at the time. You know you’re in love and things are buzzing around in your head and you’re not making any sense of anything (laughing). But anyway I went back to UMES and I got my degree and went to work, yeah.
**EG:** Now were you in the Armed Services?
**HC:** Mmhmm.
**EG:** When was that? 10
**HC:** I went into the service in 1956 and I had a four year…well two years active, two years active but not in the service because I had to go to camp and then I had two years of standby so it was a six year obligation. When I finished work the state gave me four years military time, which added to my pension. Yeah. And then I went to Georgetown. GW, got my masters. Did that three years. Yeah, I haven’t been still that’s for sure (laughing).
**EG:** Definitely, that is what I am seeing for sure. So during your time in the Armed Services were you in the Army? Did you have a specialization at this time?
**HC:** Yes, I was in the 82nd Airborne Division.
**EG:** Did you travel anywhere?
**HC:** I never went outside of the United States, I went to…I think for a couple years I went to Fort Benning, Georgia. Oil running rifle matches, pistol matches. I had a special duty of training some guys from West Point. They wouldn’t let us harass them like they harassed us, you know (laughing)? I thought it was kind of funny. One guy said well they might end up to be your being over you guys you know, but I said well that’s kind of iffy. But anyway they wouldn’t let us harass them. A lot of guys in there…well I never did find out who my friends and neighbors were, I still don’t know today but I got this letter saying your friends and neighbors are wishing you to, “Your friends and neighbors are guiding you to serve two years” or something like that. But I never did find out who my friends and neighbors were, all I know is that my mother sent me this letter inside of another letter (laughing). I was in Baltimore working, I said “golly day right in the middle of something else that you’re doing ya know, it’s almost like your trying to watch a TV program and one of your friend keeps calling you (laughing). Oh my, but I tell you I wouldn’t trade that experience now for anything. I think all young men ought to go into the service. I really do. A lot of them would really serve them well. Some of these kids here now and even back then are never made to do anything. They won’t do anything, they just (shrugs). I remember we were jumping out of airplanes, jumping out of a perfectly good airplane which is insane. But one night this guy came in, I didn’t have to go on that jump for some reason or another. But he was an Indian from Nevada, big fella, you know he looked like an athlete too. He stopped at the door, like I said I wasn’t on that but this fella said that when he stopped at the door, the sergeant went and kicked him out and the whole side of his neck it looked like somebody had skinned him. What had happened was that the risers caught him, he was tumbling, those risers caught him right at the side of his neck. He had a strange name, I’ll never forget his name, his name was Everybody Talks About Me Charlie. (laughing).
**EG:** That is a strange name (chuckling).
**HC:** That is a strange name! I asked him what happened and he told me he said I don’t know I got scared all of the sudden, I just got scared. I asked, “Will you get scared again?” and he said “Oh no I don’t think so, the kick was worse than this (pointing to his neck)” (laughing). Oh 11 gosh, that was some outfit though, that was some outfit. I marched in Eisenhower’s parade for his inauguration as President. I don’t think the weather was ever as cold in my life in this area. It was a cold day, I mean it was cold. I thought I was going to freeze to death. And you couldn’t be in an overcoat, you had to be in a dress suit you know. Man when we pulled those overcoats off I thought I hope this line never stops (laughing). Golly day. Mmm.
**EG:** So do you remember anything else about that day beside it being very cold?
**HC:** No, (coughs) it was exciting to be there cause I had seen (coughs) these on television before and we stayed in barracks that had these potbellied stoves and that was right there outside of DC. We drove, we went up on a bus from Fort Bragg. It wasn’t bad, because everything was really coordinated you know. I looked at him because we had to look at him when we went by and we would turn our heads and look at him and he was cold too, that man was cold. I could tell what he was going through he’s cold too and he’s got to stand here and take this crap (laughing).
**EG:** That sounds like an experience, definitely.
**HC:** Yes, experience (chuckling). It’s something to remember you know. Something to remember.
**EG:** A character builder, right?
**HC:** Yes, right (laughing). We had, Army never goes into the field until winter time. Why? I don’t know, don’t ask me why. But the coldest day in the winter is when you had field trips and field problems. We went to South Carolina. South Carolina airbase one year and I learned something. I learned something and I was only there for two weeks. This one guy told me, he was a veteran of many years. He told me he said “Harry, don’t go near a fire. Stay away from fires. The first three or four days you’ll suffer like a dog from the cold and you’ll want to go to the fire. But after three or four days you won’t pay cold any mind, you won’t.” And he said, “Sleep on the ground. Get your sleeping bag and put in on the ground”. We always found a big log because the wind would blow out, it’ll blow across that log. Never sneezed. The next time we went we went to somewhere out on the base there Bragg way off into the woods, that’s a big, that’s a large base. And he only said, “How’d you make out the last time?” He was a sergeant in another company. I said, “Made it fine, made it fine.” I see these guys dug holes, you wouldn’t believe it, I see these guys dug holes in the ground and built fires under there, they really did. Of course they’re covered and all smoked up you know (laughing). Someone asked me, “aren’t you going to get in there with us?” I said no (chuckling). I said “no, but I’ll get in there before we get back, but not now.” I didn’t. The other thing is I did sneeze. That summer I came home and got out of the service, I went back to work and I was working in Baltimore and worked for the transit company in Baltimore. Made good money but I didn’t want to do that all my life. But anyway the place where we rented was a place called Cherry Hill and the first summer that I was home, we’d leave the windows up all night in the apartment upstairs and in summer the breeze would go through there nice you know, really pretty near the water too. I caught one of the worst colds that I had ever had in my life from that cross12 breeze. I mean it was bad. Back then when I caught a cold it was bad, I mean it was horrible. But a few years down the road I had my tonsils taken out and I haven’t had much to do with colds since. Mmhmm, yeah. But I was like a lot of guys, I came home from the service and you say to yourself, what am I going to do now I’ve got to do something better than what I was doing before. I went back to work and then I said that’s it I’m going back to school. And I did. It wasn’t easy you know you’ve got a family and working. But anyway I worked until…I didn’t work I would do my school work, I worked part of the time sometimes. The guy at the Campbell’s Soup would let me come and work every now and again. Trying to think of his name. But anyway, everything worked out. Everything worked out.
**EG:** I’m glad. I’m glad everything worked out the way that it did. I wanted to ask a little bit about getting back to your childhood. So growing up in this area, did you and your family go to Salisbury frequently or were there any trips to Salisbury?
**HC:** All of the time.
**EG:** All of the time? Alright (laughing).
**HC:** We’re four and a half miles from Salisbury and we would go to Salisbury most every Saturday. We’d go to Salisbury and go to the movies. They had a movie there on Lake Street and they had one uptown, The Ulman Theater, and then they had the Wicomico Theater. The Ritz Theater was downtown. It was like a meeting place. They had the stores there, there was another store there, Ernie’s. Some of the best hot dogs in the county. I mean they were good hot dogs. What he did to those hot dogs was he had a I guess it was a burner up there and there was a piece of metal that came right down on top of the hot dog and it would heat that hot dog up and brown it, brown the bread with the hot dog inside of it! That hot dog was hot, you had to be careful! But it was good, it wasn’t sloppy. There was just enough mustard in there to taste it you know. I bet my brother could stand and eat about three of them (laughing). But they were some good hot dogs, Ernie’s hot dogs, mmm.
**EG:** Did your family do any grocery shopping in Salisbury or was that mostly just in…?
**HC:** Mostly in Delmar, yup.
**EG:** Mostly in Delmar, okay.
**HC:** Mmhmm there were service stores in Delmar. When you go to Delmar, you know there is a VFW that leaves Delmar off to 54.
**EG:** Yeah, yes.
**HC:** And there is a yellow building that is beside that, and that was a store, grocery store in there and he carried some good sausage, for years. What was his name? I saw him one day because I didn’t think he was still living. He had a son, his son was a…his son was in a special school for learning. And every year he would come home and help his pop at the store, I don’t 13 know where he is now either. But that old man is still living because I saw him one day but I didn’t get to speak to him. He ran that store for years and then they had that market store. Ran that when I was coming up as a kid. Ralph and Gaskill. Not Ralph and Gaskill but what was that guy’s name? He had the clothes too. There was a men’s store on 54 as you’re going through Delmar across from the bank, it wasn’t exactly across from the bank, a little ways down the street but he carried some expensive stuff. I bought a Hickey Freeman suit from him and Hickey Freeman is supposed to be top of the line but you know what, ever since that day I have felt like I can’t afford a Hickey Freeman suit (laughing). But I still got that suit and that suit is still intact. I mean, I don’t know what kind of material it’s made but sort of a grayish color. Boy that was a nice looking suit, I wore it, I could wear the pants with something else like a blue coat or black coat or whatnot and the coat, I could match the pants with it. And I could just dress that way and the only scar on that suit is in the back pocket. I carried my keys in my back pocket and that material right around where those keys are turned white, friction you know. And that’s the only thing, no tears or anything on that thing. But I wore that suit, now we’re talking about Hickey Freeman suit, talking about 2,000 dollars. I can’t go that far with a suit, I can go 800 dollars, something like that it’s just too much money for me now because I’m not working, or doing anything like that where I need to put on a suit like that. I’d be just for show to put one on now.
**EG:** That sounds like a very fancy suit.
**HC:** Yeah it’s a suit that will fit you well. That guy will put that suit on you and he will make it fit you to a T just like you walked into it (laughing).
**EG:** I like that. So I wanted to ask, growing up, did you do a lot of fishing in the area?
**HC:** Yes, my father and I used to go down to Nanticoke. I find it strange, I never did, but he did a lot of fishing in the ponds. But he started me out down in Nanticoke on the shores of the Nanticoke River. And I fished, I don’t know how many fish I caught, I hope the man upstairs doesn’t hold it against me but I’ve caught some fish (Mr. Church has caught a lot of fish). I got a rod out there that I’ve used when I came out of the service in ‘58. I bought it in Baltimore, not Baltimore but near Baltimore. Brooklyn, Baltimore. There was a sports store there and I bought that thing and it’s really still good, it’s an odd-looking thing, it doesn’t have a bale on it, just rollers and you attach the line from the rollers, you’ve probably seen em they have been around for a long time. Because all these fancy ones are coming out now that are four to five hundred dollars that do just a great job...hmm, yeah. This was called a Bay rod. And I had one of my coworkers, he worked on the board, he made me a rod. Made me a rod with rollers on it and I still got that with a big pen rod on there. I caught a, got into a big bluefish down in Crisfield one day and that fish snapped that line. It was a big fish, I saw him come out of the water, a friend of mine was with me went “aww man.” That was a beautiful fish. Big blue, yeah. Sounded like a rifle, pow. He must have pulled that thing just right.
**EG:** Hmm, strong. So you also mentioned that you lived in Fruitland for a little bit. 14
**HC:** Mmhmm. When I came from Baltimore I went to work in Baltimore when I came out of the service. Had a child on the way, so after the service I went back to Baltimore and I worked in 58’ and worked til 61’ and I had it. I had my first accident with the bus. This girl, this young girl with a car came out of a side street and struck the front of the bus. A long way from Downtown and I had one of the fastest busses in there in that fleet that day. 1841 I will never forget the number. And that car hit that bus and swerved the front of it over. It was in the afternoon when the busses are packed and you got people standing up you know, some people clanged, I had to give them a card to fill out but when they, the police, came up there all of them mostly were a witness to what happened, especially up in the front you know. And knocked me out of the seat but I had my foot on that break, I didn’t let my, I didn’t take my foot off that break no sir. But at that moment in time I had said that I had had enough of this. This was in either the first of December, between the first and middle of December, it was before the kids got out of Christmas, that I do know. I guess it pays to be a pretty girl in a lot of instances. Had to go to court. Went to court and the judge is sitting there telling the girl how pretty she was.
**EG:** Jeez.
**HC:** We were in there for an accident and he says, “I’m going to let you off this time, no charge.” Hmm. I walked out of there thinking, “is this some kind of game or something?” But anyway I got my stuff together and school started down at UMES sometime in January, yeah it was that January then. And that was wrong, I should have stopped driving the bus in maybe August because it threw me out of sync. You know how a lot of small colleges have their schedules set up like this course will be taught in sequence and that kind of thing there. I went down there and there were several things that I should have been taking, I should have taken the first part anyhow. But anyway I made it out in time, I went to see one of the deans because I spent three years down at A&T and they wouldn’t give me credit for physical Ed. I been in service, had a family, married, “we don’t teach swimming here”. Oh come on give me a break (laughing)! That’s just ridiculous. But anyway this guy stuck with me, Dr. Stout. “You don’t need this, you don’t need that, and you’ve already taken this, come on and go with me.” He took me over to the Bursar’s office and told her, “Look he doesn’t need all of this stuff”, and she changed it. Dropped a lot of those courses and I graduated on time. I didn’t graduate mid-year, I graduated at the end of the year when everybody else did you know (laughing). Yes. I said now let me find a job, that’s all I could think about, let me find a job. Yup that didn’t take long.
**EG:** So what inspired you to pursue your masters?
**HC:** You had to.
**EG:** You had to?
**HC:** Mmhmm, you had to. GW provided a program in accounting for people who wanted their masters and you had two choices, you could get yourself a regular masters plus for your supervision also, I think I took that. Kept on having fun with the kids yup, they were okay, they were okay. 15
**EG:** Excellent.
**HC:** When you look at the kids you may have had ten percent that would give you some problems, the rest of them, I know a lot of the days I would have to shut my office and get my laugh off because I did the same thing when I was in school (laughing). Yes sir.
**EG:** So I wanted to ask more about your trips to Salisbury, your family was going to Salisbury a lot?
**HC:** Oh yeah, that was the big city you went to, they had all the stores there, restaurants. Delmar never had that many stores. Most of the time we went to Delmar was for grocery shopping. My father, he would get paid when he was just starting out, he would get paid on Thursdays, you know. So momma would make him a list on Wednesday night and on Thursday he’d been to the market. Now sometime they changed that, went to a Friday. I don’t know why it was something about Thursday. Mmhmm.
**EG:** Intriguing, hmm. I wanted to ask do you remember at all the installation of the Route 50 Throughway in Salisbury how next to Downtown, going to Ocean City, do you remember any of the changes at all?
**HC:** I don’t remember the time. I remember them doing it because when I went to work in Dorchester County, I didn’t see a lot of people I went to school with because a lot of them lived in Salisbury. Of course I was married, I wasn’t Downtown anymore on Saturday nights, that was all over and I remember hearing some of the discussion of cutting of some of the streets when they came through with the, we’d call it the bypass in Salisbury. Now they got a bypass right around Salisbury. But I remember that and sometimes, I don’t know if we’d have them anymore or not but we’d have class reunion and I’d see some of the people that I went to school with but not many of them and by working that far I thought I was working on the western shore because I didn’t see them but I was only working in Cambridge. But I didn’t see them, of course when I got into administration I was busy then. It was always something to do, meetings. When I got onto the board there were meetings out of town. Sometimes there would be 2 or 3 week long conferences at places you know, that kind of thing but I never got in town too much, mostly Dorchester. My wife was here but uhh…anyway they came through and unfortunately that happens to neighborhoods where the road will come through and block something off because of some other building, somebody gets hurt with any kind of movement. There was Catherine Street, there was another street or two that was cut off. I know Catherine Street because a friend of mine, he died when we were relatively young in school, one of my classmates. He lived on Catherine Street. There was another fella that lived on Catherine Street that was in my class too.
**EG:** So I know schools were segregated, was the lifestyle in Salisbury segregated as well? In Downtown or anything?
**HC:** Yup, it was at the time yeah. Especially water fountains, I don’t think we had the city bus back then but the bathrooms were segregated. I followed that all the way down to Norfolk, from 16 Norfolk to Greensboro, but things were changing very rapidly during that time. And there was a lot of stress. But you know it worked its way out. You go to a bus station you were served in the rear. What could you do? You were hungry. I was always hungry and looked for something to eat. I was raised on a farm to eat I guess (laughing). My mother was a good cook, she was a good cook.
**EG:** Aww that’s great.
**HC:** My grandmother, her mother could cook. She would make biscuits three hundred and sixty degrees. She would roll them up in her hand and then she’d get them all on this pan and probably take a fork and press the top of each one of them just a little bit. Man they were good. My wife was a good cook, surrounded by good cooks everywhere (laughing). Had some good meals.
**EG:** So growing up what were some of your favorite meals?
**HC:** Well my father was a meat eater, plain and simple. Very few things he didn’t like, one of them was cornbread, we didn’t eat cornbread. Most every meal that we had home there was hot bread made for that meal that was just the thing to do. We had hot bread, we had gravy, we sopped the gravy and we always had potatoes, beans, butter, all the things you had on a farm and you have to eat. I think for a while there I sold butter. When the cows came off from giving milk, I’d have a little run on Saturday where I carried butter to different places in Delmar and that’s butter. That is butter. I guess if I drunk some cow’s milk straight from the cow that would probably kill me, what they have done to milk is a shame I’ll tell you (laughing). It’s totally different, I can’t explain it to you how that taste because all of the cream was in it that we drank coming out. Now milk has a taste to it and some companies it has a nice taste. But it’s not like they have cream in it, you have to shake it up you know. We would take the cream off to make butter and boy put a little salt on that cream, mmmh. Then you put some molasses in it and hot bread and a class of milk, that’s a meal for you right there you know (laughing). I know the dentist over here asked me, “did you drink a lot of milk when you were a kid?” I said, “all that I could get.” Because he talked about the roof of my mouth and the hardness of my teeth you know. And if I hadn’t been in the service I still would probably have all of my teeth. But what happened was back in that time if you were in the service and you had a tooth ache or a cavity they would pull it out, yeah. Because another doctor asked me, “what happened to your teeth, who pulled it out?” But anyway, yeah.
**EG:** So you guys were doing your butter runs on Saturday sometimes and I know with the timber milling that would usually go to a paper mill.
**HC:** Yeah that would go to a paper mill and you’d buy it at different places, usually very close to the water where these guys would set up a depot you know and we’d carry it down and he was down there a certain day to pay off, you had your own stack down there and each cord was measured off with a straight red line and we made money doing it, yeah. 17 It was hard work put it paid off in the long run. A lot of the time you think when you’re doing something hard you think it’s going to last always but it doesn’t. It was for a purpose. It wasn’t a daily job, it was to make extra money.
**EG:** Excellent. So what were some of your daily jobs as a child?
**HC:** Milking cows, cutting wood, feeding horses, sometimes my dad was working. He did shift work. He would work 12-8 and they worked. But any farm job that you could conceive it was done and I knew about work when I got growing, I was raised that way I was the earliest boy you know. I caught it. And then afterwards my brothers caught some of it but never did the amount that I did because I was first in line (laughing). But I never mind working. Even as a kid I never minded working. My mother always told me, she must have seen something else in me, she always told me to stay busy. “You stay busy doing something constructive”. Yeah (chuckles).
**EG:** So what did you do for your down time? Was there any down time I should ask (laughing)?
**HC:** There was down time, it wasn’t all just work you know (smiling). I always tinkered on something. The first thing that I had was a motorbike. I bought it from this guy over here on, not Stage road but maybe Mill Pond Road. Well we were cutting some pulp wood over there and he had it sitting out there on the road for sale. I went up there and asked him what he wanted for it and he said fifty dollars. I went and told daddy and daddy said, well, of course I was getting long in the years then I was probably about sixteen years old. Fifteen, sixteen years old. Daddy said “well there is a truck, you got a power saw in there, there may be a can with maybe some gasoline in there. Go for it.” (laughing). So anyway I was cutting wood over that way and I had stopped by to see it and I told that fella that I think I was going to buy it. Daddy was working, I can see him now, he was working 12-8 I think. He was because he was always sleepy, working on 12-8 because he never slept during the day that much, he’d get some sleep three or four hours before he went to work you know? And he had one of those guys who was his boss up there at the plant, he said “if you catch up on work you guys can go and catch up on a nap at two or three o’clock in the morning, he said I’ll call ya if I need ya.” But anyway he went with me to go get the bike (train blowing horn) of course he got into bidding because he knew about that haggling. And when we left there we left with a 35 dollar bike (laughing). I learned something new that day. Every time daddy would get up he would say, well, would you take, I can’t think of number but he’d say, would you give 38 dollars for it? And then he’d go back to sleep (laughing). Woke up and the man would say, “I’ll take 35 dollars for it.” (laughing) And that’s what we got it for. I came home and had to work on that thing man. She had points on it, several points on it that were just a mess. I got it running. I was in the dark working on that thing and at night I’d run it too. The next thing I had, a motor scooter, a Cushman motor scooter. I bought it the same way, dad said there is a truck, saw, gas, take your brothers out there, you know. Every time I looked back they were on the ground they were wrestling you know (laughing). Oh my, the next thing I moved to, I bought a motorcycle years later. I bought a Harley. I was living here and that thing almost shook me to death. I had a, I don’t know if it gave it to me or not but I ended up 18 with phlebitis and it never suited me right after that even though I only had it in one leg but anyway I finally got rid of it. Then as time went on I decided it was time to buy one of those big Hondas, 12,000. Got rid of that and went down to, I can’t remember the numbers but it was a smaller bike, nice. I bought it from Easton. Then I got rid of that and then the next bike I bought I bought a Trike. The last thing I bought was a trike. Some guy out of New Jersey came down and bought that thing, it rode nice too. (talks about struggles of aging) But this guy worked for the fire department up there, nice fella. See that bear? Smokey the bear in that picture? (pointing to a beautiful print)
**EG:** Oh yeah, yes.
**HC:** Barry sent me one of those and I thought it was a beautiful and at first I didn’t know what it was you know? But I hung it up there by the stove, he calls me every now and then!
**EG:** That’s excellent. So Mr. Church we’re getting down to the end of our interview as we are running short on time so we’ll wind down. I want to thank you for your time.
**HC:** Oh you’re welcome! Mr. Hanna told me and I thought well that might be interesting! Digging up back in time, I’ve had a good life, I’ve had a good life.
**EG:** An interesting life as well! Very.
**HC:** My daughter, I don’t know if it was two birthdays ago but she gave this party and they made this picture of me, at that time I think I was in North Carolina, it was somewhere that I had been. But anyway on the picture they had put all of these occupations that I had been, jobs that I had done. Oh my I mean there was a whole list (laughing). Yes my gosh, honestly I’ve forgotten some of them.
**EG:** You definitely stayed busy, for sure.
**HC:** Every time think about it I think about my mother telling me to stay busy and do something constructive. Yeah.
**EG:** Well before we wrap up I just wanted to know was there anything that I didn’t ask that you wanted to add about memories of the local area or anything that I might have neglected.
**HC:** I don’t know I told someone long ago. I was talking about I was sort of fortunate in a way because of all the places I’ve been, all the things that I’ve done, there was always somebody around to give me a hand. I always remember that you know? In education I went to Cambridge. I started out at Macy’s Lane and I was there just in time to get into that movement when they were integrating schools. It’s the second year I taught I was moved to Cambridge High School, a white high school. And all the people at the school that I came into contact with, the secretary, the guidance counselor, even some of the teachers I was always, I’ll tell you about the teachers in a minute, I had my thing with those guys and ladies, but anyway if you don’t know something let me know because they do things a little differently over there. I said okay thanks I appreciate it, I 19 appreciate it and I always felt that they were serious you know that they weren’t just telling me that, you know some people will tell you that but they were serious. And even the kids, I think the second year I was over at Cambridge High School I started working with the kids and they were working on these plays for school you know and they wanted to come down and use the shop to make these dividers for the plays and what not. I said “Oh okay, but it would have to be somebody who is familiar with the saws and that area and I have to be in here because that’s the law, I have to be in here and you can build anything you want in here and I’ll help you do it if you want me to help.” And they did but they gave a nice plaque at the end of the year which I thought was nice of them you know. And I found more good kids than I thought I would you know you think people tell you all about bad kids and what not you know I didn’t find them that way. Somebody would go “hey how’s so and so doing in your class?” I’d go, “Yeah he’s okay, he’s okay” yeah (laughing) but I always found that to be true and I always try to help somebody else you know. But that’s part of work, that’s part of work. If you can’t get that for yourself boy you are in deep water. You’re in deep water up to your throat yeah (train whistle). Yeah I don’t know but it’s been a good life.
**EG:** Thank you again for your time.
**HC:** Oh you’re quite welcome and if you have any other questions call me up.
**EG:** Oh thank you, I definitely will.
**20 TAPE** (Time Access to Pertinent Excerpts)
(0:00-8:43) Attending Salisbury Colored High School, Life on the farm in the 1930’s, Crops, Introduction of Tractors and Mechanization, Insecticides.
(8:43-13:55) Father begins work at Dupont in 41’, Timber milling during the winter.
(13:55-21:35) Commute to Salisbury for school via school bus, Ancestor Captain Jim Shears activity in Quantico Creek, Family members in Quantico, MD.
(21:35-26:16) Church family genealogy on Delmarva traced back to 19th century, Ancestor Daniel Johnson, Strong and numerous familial ties.
(26:18-33:39) Work in Dorchester County Public School System as a shop teacher, principal, and finally as supervisory administrator on Board of Education, Cambridge social difficulties, Joy from working with children.
(33:39-36:11) Attending school in Salisbury, Segregation.
(36:11-42:22) History of families farm, Sandy Wales Farm, Stone markers as property lines, Family cemetery and deceased family.
(44:22-57:53) College at North Carolina A&T University in 52’, ROTC, Masters at GW, 82nd Airborne Division, Ft. Bragg, Training recruits, Eisenhower’s inauguration, Working part time at Campbell’s soup in Baltimore.
(57:53-1:06:09) Family Trips to Salisbury as a child, Grocery stores and Clothing stores in Delmar, Fishing.
(1:06:09-1:12:13) Working in Baltimore as bus driver 58’- 61’, Finished degree at University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Motivation for Masters at GW.
(1:12:13-1:17:59) Salisbury as the commercial hub of the area, Destruction of Catherine Street due to Route 50 construction, Segregation in Salisbury’s Downtown and in America.
(1:17:59-1:30:31) Home cooked meals, Making and selling butter, Chores performed on the farm, Downtime on the farm, Restoring motorbikes.
(1:30:31-1:36:01) Last reflections, Segregation and integration of public schools, Helpful teachers and the importance of returning the favor.
Duration 1:36:02
Recording Date Feb 27, 2019
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Record #35

Type Audio
Title Interview with Randall Parker, 12 July 2005
Description In this interview, Charles Smith and Karen Smith interview Randall Parker; a World War II veteran…
Duration 23:57

All Fields in This Record

Type Audio
Title Interview with Randall Parker, 12 July 2005
Description In this interview, Charles Smith and Karen Smith interview Randall Parker; a World War II veteran from San Domingo, MD. Randal Smith talks about his upbringing in the area, including his life on a farm and his education through high school. He speaks about his time in a segregated US Army unit during World War II, describing his training, his involvement in the Invasion of Normandy in 1944, and his experiences as an African American during the war. He also talks about his community of San Domingo, MD, and some of the changes he's seen in recent years.

This interview is part of the Teaching American History Program.
For more information, see the [Edward H. Nabb Center Finding Aid](https://libapps.salisbury.edu/nabb-archives/finding-aid.php?id=1550).
Transcript **Interviewers:** Charles Smith and Karen Smith
**Narrator:** Randall Parker
**Date of Recording:** July 12th, 2005
**Keywords:** Segregation, World War II, African American Education, San Domingo, Salisbury, schoolhouses

[Recording begins with static and shuffling sounds, interview begins at 00:23]
**Charles Smith (CS):** Today is July 12th, 2005. My name is Charles Smith, I am a schoolteacher at James Bennett High School in Salisbury, Maryland. I am joined by my wife, Karen Smith, media specialist of Wicomico High School in Salisbury, Maryland and we are making a recording today for Salisbury University. This is being done through a Teach American History Grant and the purpose of this is to meet and interview people in our local community and record and share their life experiences. We're here today in the house of Mr. Randall Parker. Mr. Parker lives in the community known as San Domingo, it's a small community located between Mardela Springs and Sharptown and we are just going to sit back and chat with him for a few minutes and get some information from him. Mr. Parker, could you briefly share with us when you were born, where you were born, your parents, and that type of stuff?
**Randall Parker (RP):** Well, I was born in what they call New Fall (?) which is about, a couple of, [tape squeaks] 8 miles from Delmar, east of Delmar, on the Delaware-Maryland line practically, and my family was farm family, my father was a farmer all of his life and my mother was a housewife. She did not work anywhere except to help my father during the summer occasionally out on the farm, harvesting crops.
**CS:** What type of crops did your father grow?
**RP:** My father grew all types of crops like vegetables and grain, those are the two main things.
**CS:** Now were these hauled to like, Delmar?
**RP:** They hauled it to Delmar, which used to have an auction block.
**CS:** Uh-huh.
**RP:** And then sell it at the Delmar auction block, or go to Laurel, both auction blocks at that time.
**CS:** Now, how did he get the stuff there?
**RP:** Usually, you had to have a mule and wagon and then when trucks and stuff, when they became available, he had an old Model-T truck that he used to use to deliver this stuff to the ____(inaudible) markets.
**CS:** Now do you remember the meetings and did you work with him for the meetings?
**RP:** I remember the meetings and remember driving to them, I was able to drive the truck when I was about 13 and I could drive it into there, enough to have a license which were at the farm at some point.
**CS:** And is, a lot of people that you worked with share that livelihood with farming and working?
**RP:** Oh yeah, in fact, the entire area were farmers in where we were living.
**CS:** You shared with me prior to this interview that you attended Owen's Corner Elementary School. Could you tell me about that? Was it a small school, big school?
**RP:** It was a small, two-room school, two-rooms, had grades from 1 through 8 and we attended Owen's Corner from 1 through 8 and we graduated from Owen's Corner, we went to Laurel, to a school called Paul Laurence Dunbar, which was grades from 9 through 11 and when we completed the 11th grade at Paul Laurence Dunbar, if you wanted to complete high school, had to attend Delaware State College for one year, 12th grade at that time.
**CS:** So after the Dunbar school, you attended Delaware State College?
**RP:** For about a year.
**CS:** and that was in Dover?
**RP:** In Dover.
**CS:** Okay.
**RP:** You know, Delaware State College was one of those land grant schools.
**CS:** Right. Going back to Owen's Corner, you said it was a two-room schoolhouse. How was it heated?
**RP:** It was heated with a coal stove. Some of the bigger children would go out in the morning, shake it down, and get the fire going good in the hope it's heated when the students got there in the morning. Schools used to take you in at 9 o'clock and let out at 4.
**CS:** 9 to 4?
**RP:** 9 to 4.
**CS:** Now did you have—what was faculty, the staff? Did you have one teacher, or two?
**RP:** Oh man, we had a big faculty of two [both laugh] One teacher taught from first through the fourth grades and the other from the fifth through the eighth.
**CS:** And I'm assuming they were custodian, principal, school nurse, everything all and everything?
[Unclear as both are speaking]
**CS:** They're the complete package.
**RP:** Yeah.
**CS:** Looking back on it, do you think that the, did you receive a good—Was it a good education?
**RP:** I have received a very good foundation. Yeah. They were fair about teaching reading, writing and arithmetic and from there it went on. We got up to division and everything else.
**CS:** This would have been in—you were born in 1921, so this would have been in the late twenties and early thirties.
**RP:** Late twenties and early thirties.
**CS:** I'm assuming it was a segregated school, or?
**RP:** It was all segregated. Both DuPont's schools, Owen's Corner and Paul Laurence Dunbar.
**CS:** and Dunbar, and Delaware State?
**RP:** It was segregated at that time.
**CS:** Wh—how—I'm familiar with Delaware State as it exists today, is it, was it still in the same location, basically?
**RP:** It was basically the same location but, a lot of the buildings were wooden structures and so forth at that time. Today, of course, they're all brick buildings.
**CS:** After high school, I see you went back to Del-State in 1953?
**RP:** I graduated from Del-State again in—
**CS:** 1953.
**RP:** College, I went back in 1949.
**CS:** Oh, okay. So you actually graduated from there twice, then?
**RP:** Twice.
**CS:** Okay, right. Following Del-State the first time, was that when you were drafted, or?
**RP:** No, following Del-State the first time, I came home and went to work at DuPont in Seaford.
**CS:** Seaford, Delaware, Okay.
**RP:** I worked for DuPont until I was drafted in '43.
**CS:** Uh-huh, in the United States Army?
**RP:** In the United States Army.
**CS:** I'm a veteran also, so from a different war, a different era. So, I respect that if you don't want to share anything, or if you don't, or whatever. Would you like to share anything about your military service?
**RP:** Oh, it's just plain military service. Got my basic training in Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
**CS:** Okay.
**RP:** When we completed basic training, we were sent to England. We were in England about a month and then we took part in the invasion of Normandy Beach.
**CS:** So you were involved in the invasion of Normandy?
**RP:** Yeah we landed—my outfit landed at D-5, which was the fifth day of the invasion and we fought up the, or up until we got to, until the war was over, then we were stationed in Bremerhaven, Germany.
**CS:** Fascinating. So you follow, you were with, the whole way across France?
**RP:** The way across France, then through Belgium then back up into France.
**CS:** What did you see? Was it war-torn, was, were the people happy to see?
**RP:** People were happy to see us. The destruction was unimaginable.
**CS:** I'm sure, I can't imagine. You received royal treatment from the French citizens?
**RP:** Even surprisingly from the Germans.
**CS:** Is that right?
**RP:** That is, yeah, the Germans were very nice when we got there. However, there were no men in Germany, I mean we saw nothing except women and children.
**CS:** Small children, or maybe older men and women?
**RP:** No, they definitely were not old, that's something that I do not remember seeing, an older man in Germany, until after the war.
**CS:** Now, Mr. Parker, why do you think even the Germans were happy to see the American army?
**RP:** Just to looking at us as liberators or something, I don't know, but they were very friendly, very nice.
**CS:** It was either you or the Russians I guess, and they're better off with—
**RP:** With the Americans.
**CS:** Americans, yeah. Did you serve in a segregated unit?
**RP:** It was a very segregated unit.
**CS:** Were not NCOs and officers African-American or?
**RP:** Yeah, we had a couple of incidents while we were in Kentucky, where the white officers, and the—we got some prisoners, from the (inaudible) jail, even trying to understand "Gee, I think they're trying to yell at me," and they were, well, pretty rough and the white officers could not control it, so as a result then, about six or eight months into my training, we got all black officers.
**CS:** and the NCOs were all black as well, so your whole chain of command...
**RP:** ...whole chain of command, black.
**CS:** You, you were in Germany, after the World War ended,
**RP:** ended,
**CS:** How? You were there all the way to 1947, or?
**RP:** About, yeah. Fall time, about three months before, and we came back to France, left them all their cigarette cans, and we stayed in there. We were waiting for transportation back to the States.
**CS:** What you saw in Germany, was it very war-torn, were the people hungry, was the-?
**RP:** Every good, large city, was very war-torn. The people did not seem to be hungry but the cities were, you know, levelled.
**CS:** Did you ever run into any German P.O.W.s or soldiers or?
**RP:** Part of my job while I was in the service we had, just think about, 10,000 P.O.W.s at one time, and we had about seven or eight enlisted men. So, you see the matchup, [both speaking—unclear] I'd be able to furnish them food and clothing and so forth and they sort of police themselves.
**CS:** How did you find the German P.O.W.s? Were they hostile, were they—?
**RP:** They were not hostile to us. However, word came out that the P.O.W.s did not want to be supervised by black soldiers. So as a result, we were removed and replaced by white soldiers.
**CS:** Were the soldiers—did they look like they'd been through some rough, the Germans—
**RP:** Some of them did.
**CS:** —Because I am sure they had been fighting for enough years.
**RP:** It seemed to us that they were starved when they—because it was the first time in my life I ever seen people eat out of garbage cans but the German soldiers were eating out of our garbage cans and then anywhere they could get food for a while. And of course, as this structure, you know, and they'd work be coming and getting the food and so forth there. That food there, and the living conditions, were much better for them.
**CS:** Got out of the Army, where were you discharged?
**RP:** I was discharged at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey and at that other army (inaudible), I went back to work at DuPont.
**CS:** Okay.
**RP:** And I couldn't make myself very contented at DuPont, so I decided to go back to college. When I went back to college.
**CS:** Did you do that on the G.I. Bill, or?
**RP:** Yeah.
**CS:** That's what the college that—when there was veteran's benefits. What did you study at Del-State, what was your?
**RP:** Administration.
**CS:** Administration.
**RP:** Yeah, and as a result of studying administration, I got a job as a social worker in Georgetown and then through the ranks I moved up to become the administrator for about 10 or 12 years.
**CS:** How did you get from living—How did you wind up in San Domingo? What brought you here?
**RP:** Well, I met a girl from San Domingo before that tour of service, and we used to write to each-other and so forth. Well, when the war was over I came back and we picked up where we left off, and next thing I knew I was married [both laugh] and when I got married I moved down there, but you can understand that and lived (inaudible)
**CS:** What year did you move to San Domingo? You may have—
**RP:** '47.
**CS:** '47. What was this community like in '47?
**RP:** In 1947, it was all black and they have the one family work(?) to my knowledge. And It was, everybody here worked, they owned their own property and it was a very independent community.
**CS:** We've done a little research on it, about San Domingo, and it's got a fascinating history, dates back to the early 1800s, Mr. Brown had made—
**RP:** Yeah.
**CS:** So you're familiar with all that. Tell me, educate me.
**RP:** I don't know much about Jim Brown, you know, I do know where his grave was up here on Dashiell’s Road.
**CS:** On Dashiell’s Road.
**RP:** Uh-huh.
**CS:** And he came here from Jamaica, he married a free woman, and then his descendants, one of his granddaughters, married, after the Civil War, a man named John Quinton, have you heard that name before?
**RP:** Yeah.
**CS:** John Quinton established a school
**RP:** Well I don't know who established the school.
**CS:** And the church, and the church as well I believe. Was there—'47, the 50s was there any type of filling station, store, anything like that here?
**RP:** There was a store, there were two stores; there was one down here and there was one down in what we called down in the country and they were both operated by black people and they did really good business.
**CS:** Are there still, to the best of your knowledge, any descendants of Jim Brown or John Quinton living in San Domingo?
**RP:** I would assume that the Quintons over here are some descendants of the John Quinton. Jim Brown's descendants I do not know. I mean, they never knew any of them. Not direct descendants.
**CS:** Your wife, she was born and raised in San Domingo?
**RP:** Yes, she was born and raised in San Domingo.
**CS:** What was her maiden name?
**RP:** Her maiden name was Stanley. The Stanley's, and incidentally, her grandmother lived to be 100 and-
**Vivian Parker:** [Randall’s Daughter]: 18.
**RP:** -18 years old, 118.
**CS:** Now she would remember something, she experienced it. How has the community changed from 1947 to where stand today?
**RP:** Well, it’s been a lot of changes, one that’s changed is roads, the other change is the —we've become more integrated, number of white families in here now, even a couple of Mexican families and like all parts, I guess, of the U.S., things are just changing.
**CS:** In 1947, when you moved to San Domingo, if you needed to go to town, did that mean you're going to Sharptown? Did that mean you were going to Mardela? Delmar?
**RP:** Sharptown, usually.
**CS:** Sharptown was the big choice.
**RP:** Well it was closer, too. You could really walk to Sharptown if you had to but most people back then had cars and they drove to Sharptown, and they went to Sharptown to a plant there named Marvel Package Company.
**CS:** What type of product did they—?
**RP:** Baskets, basket factory and of course, a lot of people worked there because it was viewed as work. There was no electric in San Domingo at that time.
**CS:** In 1947?
**RP:** 1947. It came through a year or two later, and Choptank came in and brought the electric lights to the entire community.
**CS:** Was that a big—I'm assuming that was a big event, everybody—
**RP:** Oh yeah, oh yeah.
**CS:** Changed everybody's life.
**RP:** Mm-hmm.
**CS:** Radically, in town, I've never lived without electric.
**RP:** You've never lived without electric?
**CS:** I can't even believe. How often would a trip to Salisbury be made?
**RP:** Every week. So the most of us had a bus that used to pick up people in Canvas Hall(?). I think they charged something like a quarter to go to Salisbury on Saturday nights and of course Salisbury was pretty segregated, too we'd go out, go to movies, sat at clubs and so forth down in the Lake Street area.
**CS:** What was the name of the movie theater?
**RP:** The Ritz, the Ritz Theater.
**CS:** and that was a segregated movie theater. The Ulman and the Arcade, were they—
**RP:** They were segregated to the extent that the blacks went upstairs and whites, down.
**CS:** Did you ever yourself go in either of those?
**RP:** Yeah, well, we used to go to Ulman's [Theater] quite often.
**CS:** And so that you had a balcony?
**RP:** A balcony.
**CS:** Like you said, a club or something. I'm assuming they were segregated?
**RP:** They were segregated at that time.
**CS:** Where was—what was an all-black club in Salisbury at that time?
**RP:** What were—what were some black clubs in Salisbury?
**Vivian Parker:** Moon girl(?) That was over on top of the 10-cent store, Budweiser.
**RP:** Not Moon girl(?), Blue moon.
**Vivian Parker:** Blue moon.
**RP:** Budweiser.
**Vivian Parker:** They have a teenager, they called—where teenagers went on Saturday nights just for dancing and drinking sodas. It was all black.
**CS:** Things have changed a lot.
**RP:** Oh yeah, they've changed an awful lot.
**RP:** And what year did you retire, sir?
**RP:** '83.
**CS:** '83, and what have you been doing with yourself?
**RP:** Well, for about four or five year I got to be a substitute teacher.
**CS:** Oh, Okay.
**RP:** Then after that, well my knees were getting a little bad, so I just retired and done nothing, got a knee operation and just, been taking it easy since them.
**CS:** Good for you, good for you. You were back into the school as an older gentleman, how did your experiences compare to what you remembered as a child at Owen's Corner?
**RP:** Oh, no comparison. None.
**CS:** I'm assuming the two teachers at Owen's Corner, they were disciplinarians as well and this one was pry a little different?
**RP:** Very different. Students who said nothing to them but sit down and take a seat. Otherwise, he had to call the person home. But not a, not a principal; the assistant principal.
**CS:** Getting back to San Domingo. Is it still, do you feel there is a sense of community there? As strong as it was when you first moved here in the forties?
**RP:** No, I do not, no. I think transportation and so forth has made things, it has spread it out a lot. You're not dependent on any one person or any one place. Anybody wants to go to the one church, to the one school and so forth and there was a sense of togetherness, and that doesn't exist like it did then.
**CS:** I know where the church is if I keep going and I make a right that takes me back to the Zion Church, where was the old school located, I'm not—?
**Vivian Parker:** [Muffled in background] The old school? Old school road?
**RP:** Yeah, the Old School Road down here. You head onto the end of the (inaudible)[Quantico] road, turn right, go about 20 or 50 feet, turn left [on Old School road] and it's a large building, down there on the left. It's a large hall now, a masonic hall.
**CS:** A masonic hall. When did the school stop functioning as a school? Do you remember, or?
**RP:** No, I don't. She might.
**Vivian Parker:** I cannot say, because I wasn't here at the time.
**RP:** Victorine went?
**Vivian Parker:** Victorine went—Victorine didn't even go there. She went to Mardela,
**RP:** Yeah, I know.
**Vivian Parker:** —out west.
**RP:** But I thought you went to the school right here before we went to Salisbury.
**Vivian Parker:** Yeah, I went to another school that—
**RP:** But that's what he means, when was it closed?
**Vivian Parker:** I don't know when it closed because I can't say when they built the new one [continues, muffled due to distance from mic].
**RP:** Uh-huh.
**Vivian Parker:** So, I went to Salisbury High and came out of Salisbury high in '61 so, I went from the first through the sixth grade at here, and then from the seventh through twelfth at Salisbury High.
**RP:** Yeah, but you don't know what gave you this idea though, that's what we were after.
**Vivian Parker:** Not like I can, Oh! Fifty... 1950...1953? 54? Something like that.
**RP:** Well I would have known about that.
**Vivian Parker:** 53-54 [Correction: Sources vary, but San Domingo's schoolhouse stopped functioning as a school at some point between 1957 and 1961].
**RP:** At that time that school closed out here. Right after that.
**Vivian Parker:** —because they built the new one.
**RP:** Yeah, because they built a new one.
**CS:** Now, do you still know most of the families in the San Domingo? You said it's not what it was, but is it still enough that you, you know.
**RP:** No, I don't know everybody but I know most of them. We have a lot of strangers that come in that I do not know.
**CS:** Mr. Parker, is there anything—You've given us a wonderful synopsis of life, it's kind of fascinating. I had no idea about your adventures in Europe and all that. Is there anything that—your child or anything that you would like to share that 50, 60 years from now someone picks this tape up and they might—
**RP:** No, nothing that I know of.
**CS:** Well, sir, we appreciate you taking the time to allow us not only in your house, but to share your experiences with us.
**RP:** My pleasure as well.
**CS:** And these will be housed at Salisbury University at the Nabb Center and they are for you and your family to enjoy any time.
Duration 23:57
Recording Date Jul 12, 2005
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Record #36

Type Audio
Title Interview with Bernard Purnell, 12 July 2004
Description Bernard Purnell is an African American World War II Veteran. In the interview, he speaks of his g…
Duration 21:32

All Fields in This Record

Type Audio
Title Interview with Bernard Purnell, 12 July 2004
Description Bernard Purnell is an African American World War II Veteran. In the interview, he speaks of his getting drafted and his introduction to the army, as well the experience of his community in the war. He describes his experience in training and deployment overseas, followed by his return from the war and transition to civilian work in Electricity. He also describes segregation in 1940s Salisbury, MD.

This interview is part of the Teaching American History Program.
For more information, see the [Edward H. Nabb Center Finding Aid](https://libapps.salisbury.edu/nabb-archives/finding-aid.php?id=1550).
Transcript **Interviewers:** Jayne Malach, Monica Jett
**Narrator:** Bernard Purnell
**Jayne Malach (JM):** It is Monday, July 12th, and this is the start of an interview with Mr. Bernie Purnell, Post Commander here at the American Legion Post #145 Spirit of Democracy, located at 912 West Road, Salisbury, Maryland. My name is Jayne Malach, and along with Monica Jett, we will be the interviewers. This interview is being done in connection with the Teaching American History Project of the Wicomico County Board of Education. Okay. Mr. Purnell, The first question that I have is what year were you drafted or enlisted for service in the U.S. military?
**Bernard Purnell (BP):** 1943.
**JM:** 1943, how old were you then?
**BP:** I was eighteen years old.
**JM:** You were 18 years old, wow. Now, were you drafted or did you choose to enlist?
**BP:** I was drafted.
**JM:** How did you feel about that at the time?
**BP:** Well, I knew I had to go, so I was, it was all right.
**JM:** It was all right with you. Did you have a feeling about what you were going to do? Did you think that you were you were fighting for a just cause?
**BP:** Well, yes, I did.
**JM:** You did, so you believed in what you were doing at the time or so you were willing to go. Okay. What branch of the military did you serve in?
**BP:** In the army.
**JM:** You were in the army, United States army. What service did you provide? What was your job when you were in the service?
**BP:** Well, we were a support group for the third army. It was Patton's third army. All the supplies and everything were made we made when Faller(?), me, and others, Red Ball Express, that's a trucking outfit that carried material, and then we had other support units also.
**JM:** So, you were a support unit in Patton's Army. Was that your—was that your choice of job? Were you given a choice of job?
**BP:** Well, at that time we weren't given a choice.
**JM:** You were told what to do? They didn't say, "Do you want to do this? Do you want to do that?" Any other things?
**BP:** No.
**JM:** You were told "this is going to be your job"?
**BP:** Right.
**JM:** Okay, if you had your choice of jobs, what do you think you would have chosen? Of all the jobs in the Army. I mean, was there something that you would have preferred to have done instead of what you were doing?
**BP:** No, I didn't want anything special.
**JM:** So, you were at 18. You were like, "okay, okay, I'll do what you want me to do." Can you talk a little bit about what your life was like here in Salisbury before you were drafted? What were you doing, what was your family like, were you still living with your folks, that kind of information.
**BP:** Yes, I was still living at home because I had recently gotten out of high school. And back in those days, you know what living conditions were so far as the [grace?] And all this. But we managed and we were able to make it.
**JM:** Did you have brothers or sisters?
**BP:** Yes, I had 8 of them, I had four sisters and four more brothers. It was 9 of us altogether.
**JM:** Were—where you when the position of your family. Were you right in the middle? Were you—where were you?
**BP:** I was about middle. I was the fourth oldest.
**JM:** Oh, okay. You were kind of right there in the middle of your whole family structure. What did your—were your folks employed? Did you live—your mom and dad were with you?
**BP:** Right, yes.
And what did they do?
**BP:** Well they were domestic workers, my family. My father, he was a cook and my mother, she was a domestic worker.
**JM:** They were both domestic workers here. Okay. When you were drafted, were there people in the community that, who said that it was really terrific that you were going to do what you were going to do, go off to war, or was there no recognition for that?
**BP:** No, it wasn't any recognition. I went up then went to Baltimore and they examined me and I was presumed to pass and they gave me a few days off and then I was in the service.
**JM:** Kind of just get things together before you went off. Did you have any brothers that also served?
**BP:** Yes, I had a brother that was in the South Pacific at that time.
**JM:** So, he went before you did?
**BP:** Right
**JM:** He was older than you and went to the South Pacific. Did he return home safely?
**BP:** Yes.
**JM:** That was a wonderful thing.
**BP:** He contracted malaria while he was there.
**JM:** Was that a problem for him for the rest of his life?
**BP:** Well yes, because it sort of flared up every once and a while, you know.
**JM:** I think that's kind of the nature of that disease, that it kind of comes and goes. So, it was, out of the four brothers in your family, four boys in your family, two of you served?
**BP:** Well later on after the war, I had two more that were in the service, in the army.
**JM:** In the army as well? Wow. So, you have a great history of service to our country in your family. After you were in the service, where did they send you?
**BP:** For my basic training and things like that?
**JM:** Mm-hmm, and then where did you serve in the theaters?
**BP:** Well, I went to Fort Lee and stayed there for a short time. From there, they sent me down to New Orleans, Louisiana, a camp called Plauche. That's where I took my basic training and after that, they gave me a furlough and I went back to Louisiana and then they sent me to Boston, Massachusetts and I served there, for a few months at a place called Camp McCain. That was a camp where we operated from. A little while after that, they put us on ships, and left to Camp Shanks, New York. From there, we were deployed overseas.
**JM:** And where did you get sent when you were overseas? What countries were you in?
**BP:** Well, I was in England, Scotland, France, I must have been to quite a number of places in France but they were basically, that's as far as I got is France.
**JM:** So, you were England, Scotland, and France. Did you have much contact with the people of those countries? In England, Scotland and France.
**BP:** Well, not, not really. They would speak and what-not, but as far as being real close, no.
**JM:** Because at least some of the people that I've talked to, during World War II sometimes met their future wives or whatever when they were abroad.
**BP:** There wasn't anything like that.
**JM:** You were too busy! Too busy working. Now, the group that the support group that you were associated with in the Army, was that an integrated unit?
**BP:** No, it was all segregated, it was all black units during that time.
**JM:** There was no mixing it up?
**BP:** No mixing. We had white officers. This is back in '43.
**JM:** I didn't, I needed to ask that question because I don't know a whole lot about World War II history and we're trying to find out more about this.
**BP:** It was quite segregated, I'll tell you.
**JM:** Now if you took your meals, was that segregated as well, I mean, did you have a separate eating facility or just everybody eat?
**BP:** No, but we were all black units. We didn't have any other race around, and it was just one of those things.
**JM:** Everything was still separate, even in war.
**BP:** Right.
**JM:** Okay. While you were on—how long were you away? How long were you overseas?
**BP:** I spent 18 months overseas.
**JM:** Did you see any front-line action at all? Or, because you were because you were support you were always in the back.
**BP:** Well I'm [inaudible] always in the night but during the victory in December, they had Germans who paratrooping way on in the back years, we were on strong alert at that time. I really didn't, what'd you say, come in contact with combat. But we were always—we were trained to fight, we had our weapons and all that. Being a support group, I didn't have combat engagement.
**JM:** Now, you talked about the German paratrooping in, was that in France or was that in England? Where did that occur? Do you remember?
**BP:** This was in France.
**JM:** That was in France.
**BP:** Right, during the work in '44 and the latter part of '45.
**JM:** While you were away, did you write home, did you communicate? How was that accomplished, your communication with home?
**BP:** Well, our mail was censored but it would go through and I didn't write too often but I just let them know that I was doing all right.
**JM:** Did you hear from your family? Did you get mail back?
**BP:** Yes, yes.
**JM:** I'm sure that was a joy for you. You looked forward it.
**BP:** Oh yes, always good to hear from home.
**JM:** Now, let me go back to something that you just said, because I think some of our students would not understand what you said. You said your letters were censored. What do you mean by that? What did they do to your letters at home before they actually got home?
**BP:** Well, during that time they were censored so far as letting out different kinds of information.
**JM:** Where exactly you were, something like that, was taken out of the letter?
**BP:** Certain things that were going on in certain areas and things like that. But no, I mean, it wasn't too much of a problem.
**JM:** But that—I think that's something that we don't think about too much today, having our mail censored, and I hope we don't get to that point again. Was there any particular memory that you have from serving overseas that was just, like the most—the biggest memory that you brought back. Some—good or bad?
**BP:** Well, the living conditions of the French, especially the children. They would eat out of garbage cans and come around looking for food. I mean, it sort of touched you, to see those conditions.
**JM:** And that was because of the War?
**BP:** Right.
**JM:** Because they didn't have access—their whole life had been so disrupted that they were pushed to that point where they had to try and take care of themselves.
**BP:** You see, I was in Cherbourg at that time and that—it was an occupied fort of France and they didn't, they really didn't have anything. We'd give the kids food.
**JM:** I think that's something that has continued in almost every war and conflict we've been involved with, in a lot of soldiers feel that—they get very upset by the plight of the children that are left behind. When you came home, back to Salisbury, back to this community, how were you received? Did you get a hero's welcome when you came home?
**BP:** I'll tell you what kind of welcome I got. I went to English [Grill] to get something to eat. Had to go to the side door and order your food and take it out.
**JM:** How about within the black community? What was the reaction from them?
**BP:** I'm very glad that I served and was able to get back home and I mean, it was a joyful time, I mean. But, so far as conditions at home here I mean it was still the same.
**JM:** Still the same.
**BP:** Everything.
**JM:** After you came back, how did you get back into society? Did you, because of the skills or things you had learned in the Army, did that help you get a new job here in Salisbury when you came back?
**BP:** Well, my old job was still waiting for me when I came back. I didn't work there too long, I got an electrical job and I worked in that for 43 years until I retired.
**JM:** In the electrical business.
**BP:** It was in the selling process of electrical.
**JM:** So, you weren't—you were not an electrician that went and wired, you were in the supply side of the electric business. You said you did that for how many years?
**BP:** 43 years.
**JM:** 43 years. Wow, That's a long time. You were a loyal employee, I guess. And what was the name of the company that you worked for?
**BP:** Well, it was some sort of electric supply company, and then they sold out and I retired from Grant Electric
**JM:** And is that a business that's still here in Salisbury, Grant Electric?
**BP:** Well, they didn't used to, but they sold out a couple of years ago and [continues speaking, inaudible]
**JM:** That kind of seeing how things go, people and businesses keep getting bought by other businesses.
**BP:** Right.
**JM:** Do you feel that your—you might've kind've answered this question already—that your participation in World War II helped advance the respect that you received in the community because you had served, and your feeling was that it hadn’t?
**BP:** Well, not—it never even happened, because things were practically the same, so far as segregation.
**JM:** When you came back in—you returned to this community in what year?
**BP:** 1946, I was discharged February 4th, 1946.
**JM:** At what point did you feel that the segregation issue here in Salisbury started changing for you personally? That you started feeling part of the total community? Was it in the sixties during the Civil Rights Movement?
**BP:** Well, yes. Mainly that's, that's what I remember after joining the American Legion that the other veterans, we all mingled and [inaudible], getting much better. But, in the beginning, when I first returned home, it was terrible.
**JM:** It was still terrible. But you found through the fellowship and the camaraderie amongst the veterans helped start bridging that gap for you personally. So, you've seen a lot happen in your lifetime as far as race relations go. How do you feel those relationships are now? Can you speak about that now?
**BP:** Well I would say they're better, but there's still a long way to go.
**JM:** Still issues going on, yeah, amongst young and old, I think there are those of us that wish it weren't that way. Is there anything else that you would like to share with us at this time? I mean, how do you feel your life is now?
**BP:** Well since I retired and everything I'm enjoying life. And in memory of the American Legion, 56 years and I get to mingle with other veterans.
**JM:** And then that's enjoyable for you. You've had a long and rich and full life, and do you have a family yourself?
**BP:** Well, my wife passed about two years ago. I have a son that lives up in Landham, named Purnell Junior. He works for the Postal Service in Washington, D.C.
**JM:** So, he lives in Washington?
**BP:** Well, he's up in that area.
**JM:** He's up in that area. Did you say he lived in Landstown?
**BP:** Landham.
**JM:** Landham? Is that in Virginia or Maryland?
**BP:** It's in Maryland. This is not too, not too far Washington.
**JM:** And you have grandchildren?
**BP:** Yes, he has a daughter.
**JM:** So, you've had pretty much all those life experiences. Well, Mr. Purnell, I really thank you for your time, and I thank you for your service to our country. My dad was a veteran too, and he never wanted to talk about this and about his experience in World War II, and I thank you for your willingness to share your experience with us today.
[Interview ends at 00:21:20]
Duration 21:32
Recording Date Jul 12, 2004
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Record #37

Type Audio
Title Interview with Andrew Turner, 27 July 2005
Description Andrew James Turner is a long-time educator in Wicomico County, serving at WorWic Community Colle…
Duration 42:48

All Fields in This Record

Type Audio
Title Interview with Andrew Turner, 27 July 2005
Description Andrew James Turner is a long-time educator in Wicomico County, serving at WorWic Community College and Parkside high school. In this interview, he describes his upbringing in the midst of segregation as an African American and his experience with the desegregation of Salisbury, MD. He also describes his various employments including law enforcement, Principal of a night school, and being a Pastor.

This interview is part of the Teaching American History Program.
For more information, see the [Edward H. Nabb Center Finding Aid](https://libapps.salisbury.edu/nabb-archives/finding-aid.php?id=1550).
Transcript [*This interview was recorded in two parts. The second part will play automatically after the first; to skip to second part directly, click the forward button on the audio player*]
**(First Recording of Interview)**
**Michael Golnick (MG):** Test. One, two, three.
**Andrew J. Turner (AJT):** You just want me to start?
**MG:** Yeah.
**AJT:** My name is Andrew James Turner III, I'm 50 years old. My parents, my father has died and my mother is still living. I was raised by my grandparents here on the Eastern Shore. Grew up on a little farm, just on the north side of Salisbury. I have two brothers and two sisters. Two sisters are older and my younger brother, well, I guess he's younger [Laughs]. My oldest sister has a college degree. My younger brother has a college degree and my sister in the middle has about two years of college in her background. I'm married, and I married a young lady out of college. We've been married for 27 years. We have two children, a boy and a girl: our daughter has graduated in the last two years and she's a school teacher now, and my son has an academic scholarship at the University of Maryland, Eastern Shore in criminal justice. After finishing high school here in Wicomico county, I decided to go to college and I went to school at Lincoln University in Oxford, Pennsylvania. I've continued my education. I have two master's degrees, one in education from Salisbury State, or Salisbury University, and the other one from the University of Maryland, Eastern Shore. The first one is in instruction, and the second one is in counseling and I'm currently working on my doctorate degree in education, leadership and innovation through Wilmington College. I've got two courses and a dissertation to do to finish, so hopefully that'll be finished in the fall. I've had a number of work experiences since finishing college. I was a law enforcement officer for the city of Salisbury, I was a chief of police for University of Maryland, Eastern Shore. I was a full-time faculty member of Wor-Wic [Community College], teaching in the criminal justice program. So, I taught in the police academy and also in the correctional academy.
**MG:** Was that, E.C.I. [Eastern Correctional Institution]?
**AJT:** No, at that time the academies were hosted here by Wor-Wic. They were located on Lemmon Hill Lane at that time. As far as hobbies are concerned, I guess maybe real hobbies other than I really enjoy racquetball, which was something I wasn't introduced to until I became a policeman, the chief of police introduced a group of us to it and just recently I've picked it back up as a form of exercise.
**MG:** It's kind of interesting, yeah. You know, somebody our age not really having hobbies and I don't like to read, but you probably do the same thing but if you're still working on your doctorate...
**AJT:** That's not a hobby! [Laughs]
**MG:** Yeah, that's not a hobby.
**AJT:** I have to make myself do it. As far as future goals are concerned, I've been a local pastor for the past three years. So, after I finish my doctorate, I plan to attend seminary and get a Masters in Divinity, a Masters of Divinity so I can become an ordained minister in the United Methodist Church.
**MG:** I've got a question on that: Okay you're going to become a doctor, are you going to retire from teaching and become a minister like our friend Mr. Miles?
**AJT:** Well, I'm currently doing that now so I'm looking at it as a second career. I've got about six years left in the school system, so I thought now is the time to start working on retirement goals, because I'm so young [both laugh] and it was interesting is that I pastor a white church. It's a white congregation in rural Somerset, Maryland. Somerset county, Maryland.
**MG:** Do you run across (inaudible)?
**AJT:** Yeah, every now and then, yeah, we're down in that same area, you know?
**MG:** Yeah, because I remember he told me he was down in that area and he seemed as happy as—I mean he always seemed happy, of course he was getting married too, and all that but I mean, when you see people happy, you know how they walk around with a smile on their face that's more cool things about it. The purpose of the interview is to talk about life in the sixties in Salisbury, and you being a young African American man from our conversations years ago, I thought maybe you could kind of relate that to some of the people so they could have it in an oral history. So I have some questions there if you want to follow up or discuss, however you want to do it, we'll follow that track.
**AJT:** Well, growing up in the sixties, I was raised on the farm. So, a lot of my encounter with whites were rather limited. I mean, the doctor was white. The shoe salesman was white. The person that I met at the Johnson's and Johnson's clothing(?), all those folks were white. We went into grocery stores and clerks and salespeople in there were white.
**MG:** Schools were segregated?
**AJT:** Our schools were segregated, we didn't have any white teachers until I got into the sixth grade.
**MG:** That was...?
**AJT:** '65, '66.
**MG:** Right before the...
**AJT:** Integration?
**MG:** Yeah.
**AJT:** And, you know, me and you as kids, there's certain, certain students were selected to go into this classroom with the white teacher. Not everybody did that. It seems like the kids that we thought they were really bright and really intelligent went in with the black teacher and the ones that weren't quite at the top of the scale went in with the white teacher. I went in with the white teacher, I did okay in school but I wasn't always an A student, so.
**MG:** We're sort of smiling because I think we both want to say that.
**AJT:** Yeah, I mean, I did what was necessary.
**MG:** Yeah.
**AJT:** and I thought it was a tremendous experience because what he told us is that he was preparing us for the next year and he taught us things about being honest and looking someone in the eye, and using a lot of manners and being respectful of yourself. Coming from a white male was pretty interesting, it's pretty interesting and the following year was a total immersion. We went from an all black situation to an integrated situation and the way that I was placed, I was placed in, they called it. they would go by ABCs, they were tracking them and I was in the BC group. So, it means I didn't get the top group, but I was in kind of like the middle, kind of, and those classes were relatively, I'm not saying that they were balanced, but the higher it was as far as academics were concerned, the less Blacks were in those classes and we found that a lot of the smart Blacks weren't together. They kind of spread us out, and you know, we had different friends from different places going and then going to different schools even, because the same kids that we used to go to church with aren't going to school with us, they were going somewhere else in the school district.
**MG:** Do you think that was the bussing in balancing the school's job?
**AJT:** Mm-hmm, mm-hmm. The way they drew the lines were rather interesting, we thought. You know, whereas before we were growing up we were friends because we went to the same church, but then we become rivals because we go to different schools. So that was a kind of a separation there.
**MG:** You still see that today.
**AJT:** Mm-Hmm.
**MG:** Yeah, because I know a lot of the kids that go to Bennett Middle will come to Parkside or go to Bennett, or some of the kids that go to one middle go to Parkside and go to Wi-High [Wicomico High School].
**AJT:** And what I find is that because of that division that was created, it created, and even today it creates hostility between neighborhoods. Whereas before, we didn't have that because we were all under one umbrella. You know, it was pretty much of a common cause.
**MG:** So almost just like a negative.
**AJT:** Well I think when integration hit it was a total immersion, and no one had time to prepare for it. I think the white teachers and white administrators during their time didn't know how to respond to us and of course, we didn't know how to respond to them. The white kids that came in were curious about black kids and black kids were curious about white kids but no one took the time to really talk and help us work things out. I think someone thought by natural progression if we keep them in there long enough, it'll work itself out but that's not necessarily so.
**MG:** Like I was telling you, from a little kid all the way up to when I was, you know, old enough to go to school, or even when in school, our schools are mixed because I was in Montgomery County outside of Washington, different area I think than here. I think ‘55 or ‘56 theirs integrated because you know, I was little.
**AJT:** Yeah, and we kind of, you know, looked at it realistically. They wanted our athletes. You know, they didn't have a problem putting our athletes on their teams but then after the season was over, then our athletes disappeared. When it came to student government kinds of things that I was interested in because I wasn't an athlete, it was interesting, I was elected home representative and those kinds of things, but when it came time to become student government president, or student government president then you saw the real divisions as far as blacks and whites, because blacks voted for blacks and whites voted for whites just because. And even in the lunchrooms, blacks sat with blacks, white sat with whites and you very seldom crossed it because if you crossed it then you were looked at funny because even though we were integrated in the school, we still lived in the black neighborhood and we still went to church with black people on Sunday. So, they were the kinds of pressures that you were born with, and then every now and then you'd have administrator that would pull you in and want to know what black people were thinking about in the school. That was rather interesting and that was not only in middle school but that was in in high school, too. Certain styles came into play. The cornrows were in. I think they started—they had really tight pants back then, the afros came in, and because of my grandfather's beliefs I really didn't wear an afro until I went to college, but before that time I always kept my hair cut close and I always tried to, I didn't wear any styles that were in vogue. I was pretty conservative. So, every now and then I'd be pulled in by an administrator. They'd want me to help them understand what it was they we're seeing in the black population of their school and whether it was an issue or not. Such as cornrows, cornrows, when came in, first it was a way of styling one's hair, so that when you took it out it would blow it out and you'd have a big afro. Then after a while, kids just started wearing it and one administrator one day pulled me out one day wondering what I thought of it. Did I think black men and black boys should wear cornrows to school? and I said, you know, if it’s a style, then that's fine, but if it's for grooming, no. So, I tried to keep him, still keep him thinking.
**MG:** We're all kind of interesting, and you know, today, we would never have that. It's kind of a completely different thing, seeing how things have changed since that was what? ‘67? ‘70? and this is 2005, so.
**AJT:** Yeah, even to what kinds of bands we would have play for the dances, but it was going to go white band, it wasn't going to be a black band, it wasn't going to be an integrated band. We had, you know, discussions about that.
**MG:** Well, while we're talking, the radio wasn't great. If you listened to the radio, at least listened to the pop radio stations...
**AJT:** Well the radio down here [Pauses as phone beeps and speaks] the radio down here that was one of more popular channels was WJBY, 1470 [laughs] and it played predominantly white music. Every now and then it would sprinkle in black music, but most of it was white.
**MG:** I want to say I guess that’s the problem about living in the city. You know, we grew up with Elvis, and [Rick] James and Marvin [Gaye] and Sam Cooke and Nat King Cole and people of that nature and you sort of assume...
**AJT:** Well, living here in rural America, you know, you only have a few stations, so you listen to what you have. Now, other folks had access to that but that because they were going outside and bringing it back, but for my upbringing, I wasn't familiar with all those different black artists.
**MG:** Yeah.
**AJT:** You know, I knew some, but I was more familiar with the white artists and that's because of the environment.
**MG:** What about tensions of the community? You said you lived in the farm and came into to town and there was a quite a bit of tension in the middle of the 60s.
**AJT:** Well, more 1968 with the assassination of...
**MG:** Dr. King.
**AJT:** Dr. King. I was about 14 and I remember this was one of the rare times that my grandparents let me go get a haircut by myself and it was on a Saturday [pauses while phone beeps and then a woman speaks], and after that, my haircut, I decided to go to the poolhall, which was just within the same block, and when I went in there, there was a white guy that was sitting on a stool waiting to play. I walked in, he said, "You want to play?" I said, "Nah, I don't know how to play." Another guy walked in, very angry: "They just killed him, they just killed him, they just killed Martin Luther King!" and he looked at the white guy and said, "You did it! You did it!" and he beat him up, I mean, just--
**MG:** Wow.
**AJT:** Just beat him up and kicked him out into the street. I had never seen violence like that before.
**MG:** Yeah.
**AJT:** Never. Then after that, then there were threats of rioting, in Cambridge but also in Salisbury, and by nightfall, the National Guard had come in and there was a curfew. Now, I don't know too much about it because living on the farm we didn't come into the city, really come into Salisbury, we stayed out on the farm. But what was interesting is Monday morning, when we went to school, we could see the National Guard located at different intersections all the way to school.
**MG:** There weren't any guards in the schools or anything like that?
**AJT:** No, nothing like that, and we heard tales that, you know, you had to burn a certain light that weekend, you had to burn a certain light in your window. That's to let the people who were going to set fires know that you were a black family, so they wouldn't set fire to your house and that kind of stuff and you've caused me to remember some stuff that I had forgotten a long time ago, put it back in the recesses of my mind.
**MG:** Well, it's kind of like I was telling somebody, I can remember that good because I was driving a newspaper truck, The Washington Star, and riding through from Southeast Washington to Northeast Washington, through the streets, and you know I'm just a skinny little white boy riding through here and there's all these black people out there and they said "Keep your doors closed," It was too hot like it is today and I said "Hey," to people, and they said "Hey," to me, and some guy asked me, "Oh, do you have paper?" I flipped him paper and Shoot! and I'd be gone, see that light was green, and that's not all these people, but I mean, it was, it was really weird, I mean, and I still to this day feel like I don't know what was going on, you know, because I always got along with people and talked to a lot of people and to see that the unrest and the bad feelings, and...
**AJT:** ...And I remember going to church that Sunday that Martin Luther King was killed and Pastor Matt was preaching peace and non-violence and preaching that the people responsible for his death, you know, would be captured, you know, God's going to take care of it, stuff like that. Really didn't feel a whole lot of tension in school.
**MG:** Yeah.
**AJT:** Because the school didn't deal with the issue.
**MG:** Yeah.
**AJT:** You know, all the student’s issues, it was just about education.
**MG:** Yeah. That's kind of interesting, you know. Because there's, there was a talk.
**AJT:** Sure. They did more with President Kennedy's assassination than anything else. We were in school when that happened, too. Third grade.
**MG:** Yeah, I was in the 10th grade or something like that.
**AJT:** Yeah, I was in the third grade. Teacher cried.
**MG:** Okay, one of the questions I have in here about the beginning of Integration in Wicomico County schools and you did allude to that a little bit. Did you ever see, you said that the races were kind of at lunch and things like that, when did you see the beginning of the integration of the races as sort of like sitting together at lunch and maybe hanging out, or?
**AJT:** I don’t know, I think that wasn't really my period, I think that was kind of sporadic when you had blacks and whites hanging out together, it wasn't anything that was really common, even for the athletic teams. You know, they hung out together while they were playing the sport, but after that sport was over, that season was over, they went back, they went to their own. Just like being in the band, at lunchtime, I mean, when we're in band practice and band performances, you know, we're all together.
**MG:** Yeah.
**AJT:** But outside of that, you know, we're separated in our own groups and we took that as a way of being normal, because it was comfortable to be in our own groups. I think that we were suspicious of the motives of, you know, white people. You know, we didn't feel as though they really wanted us there, but the law was saying we had to be there and so it was something that was being forced on them. We didn't want to be there, it was something that it was being forced on us too. It always seemed that everything was fine as far as sports were concerned but when it came time for academics, that's when the separation came. You know, in the upper level classes they had, you know, what we would think would be our smart blacks didn't get in the top classes, for whatever reason.
**MG:** Yeah.
**AJT:** You know, and we really didn't think that was fair. When it came time for graduation awards or whatever, no matter how much work you did in school, it seemed as though the whites were the ones getting the money and the blacks were just getting recognition. So that didn't seem fair and I think that still holds true today.
**MG:** So, not knowing anything about how the awards are divvied out... [Audio Fades]
**(Second Recording of Interview)**
[Recording begins, interview resumes at 00:09]
**MG:** I've had immigrants in the area I talked to a gentleman from Greek about that, about being a first-generation family who had, since the seems like the year 2005 we have a lot of immigrants in this area and I said, "My question to you is, what about the immigrants in this town, did you see any?" and [audio skips] of course, today, I think a lot of the immigrants in the area should work on the farm, you said you worked on the farm, I guess back then.
**AJT:** When they're working on the farm back then, the immigrants that you see today weren't the immigrants that you that you see now. Back then there was a lot of, there were a lot of immigrants coming up from Florida. These are African Americans who were living in northern Florida and they were traveling through the East Coast, doing farm labor, picking tomatoes and watermelons and things of that nature. So I didn't know anything about Mexican-Americans coming in and doing what they do today. As far as Asians were concerned, there were very few. We have a much larger population now than we, than we ever had. Before the 60s there was, all I knew about Haiti was that it was an island and it wasn't until the Haitians came in the late 70s to 80s that I started realizing the Haitian populations of—we didn't have much interaction with them.
**MG:** Yeah and that's kind of interesting. He said that everybody seemed to get along and it's the thing that came up in our workshop was that it seemed like the immigrants were given an open hand to assimilating into U.S. Society where the Blacks seem to be still pushed aside.
**AJT:** That has always seemed to be the case that no matter where you come from as long as you're not an African American, you can get a break.
**MG:** Yeah.
**AJT:** And I think my own personal reason for that is that we are the only human beings in the United States that it took an act of Congress to recognize us as human beings. So, someone had to put us in the Constitutions for them to recognize us as human beings. Everybody else walks in as a man under the sun. Asians can come here and not speak the language and go to a bank and get a loan. (inaudible) can do the same thing.
**MG:** and We're providing classes for them here so that they can learn the language. What was it? ESOL [English for Speakers of Other Languages]?
**AJT:** Right and even back to even back to at least 20 years ago when I was a detective, my wife and I wanted to buy a home in Kilbirnie, which was an exclusive white neighborhood and when we went to look at the home, the realtor didn't know we were Black and because we were Black, we were discriminated against and didn’t get the home. The home couldn't sell for some reason. But then as soon as we started looking at it, it sells in three days. I had a, you know, it was a, you know, you can feel discrimination. A couple times, well maybe the time I went to the bank to build onto my house and the bank president, his name was Dave Rogers(?) of First Shore Federal and I met him through what was called a cultural awareness seminar where the city of Salisbury through the commerce, the city of commerce decided to educate minorities, which would be Blacks into how to network resources to get things done. And I met Dave Rogers through this because they invited me to join it, and we did! We met all the rollers and all the shakers in Salisbury over like a 14-week period. Every week we'd have a class, you know, like a three-hour class and I ran into a problem trying to get a loan. So, I went to him about it, and he said "Andy, show me your plans". I showed him the plans and he said, "Okay, I'll get it through for you." After he signed it a couple of days later, there was something else that needed to be signed on it. So, I took it to the, took it back to the bank, and Dave wasn't in and I took it to the loan officer and the loan officer said "How'd you get this?" I said "Dave Rogers," Dave Rodgers is white. I said, "Dave Rogers did it." He says "Good thing he did it because if I'd seen it he'd never have gotten it."
**MG:** This is back in?
**AJT:** This would have been ‘80, no, this would have been. This probably would have been about ‘79.
**MG:** Okay.
**AJT:** This might've, yeah, it might've been about seventy-nine, right after we were married.
**MG:** You know I told you in the article, that I went to school in North Carolina. In Salisbury, Maryland where I came down here to work reminded me of North Carolina with (the creator of the integration?). I saw a lot of that, you know, discrimination, and really, I'd never thought of it because I had never seen that before, but that's, again, coming from the city.
**AJT:** Well, one of the things that they taught me as a kid through church and through school is that, you know, and I think Dr. Martin Luther King phrased it correctly: One thing they can't take away from you is education, and if you, if you demonstrate your character through your work, there's nothing that they can do about it. So that's one of the things that I've always tried to do is to make sure that my character went first.
**MG:** I was going to ask you, you know, your varied background, you know, as a law enforcement officer, you went over there and then you go into education. How come the career switch, and then now we are talking a little bit about maybe possibly becoming a, going to seminary?
**AJT:** Well, I've always been, I've always wanted to help people, and I think as my wife can tell you that I have a passion for the underdog. Those folks that haven't been dealt a good hand in life, and as a policeman I always tried to treat people with the utmost respect, and I've always thought, "There by the grace of God, go I,". So that means that just because it's them, don't look at yourself as being better than just look at yourself as being fortunate. So I've always tried to help people no matter what, what I've done but—
**MG:** Excuse me if I'm interrupt but it is kind of interesting how people today sometimes look at our law enforcement officers is, I don't think they get the respect that they deserve anymore, yeah.
**AJT:** Well, I think the change is, the change is that when I was in law enforcement, I did it because it was a, it was a career that I thought that I could really help, that I could really make a difference. I never viewed myself as God's gift to law enforcement. I never viewed myself as a savior but I viewed myself as a way that people could be helped, and one thing that I told young officers is don't put the man, don't put the badge before the man, put the man before the badge. You know, because just like you received it, you could lose it.
**MG:** Yeah.
**AJT:** So. You know, one day you won't alwa—you won't be a cop and you want people to remember that you treated them with respect and you tried to help them.
**MG:** I think that's true of any job or field, it's like I tell student teachers now: you better earn kids respect, I said, if you don't earn their respect, you know what.
**AJT:** And um, so, one of the reasons I got into education was because in law enforcement, I gave it a hundred, a hundred and ten percent, but in giving that 110% that meant that I was going to be away from home. So, I was basically leaving Debbie(?) home to raise two kids by herself, and that wasn't fair to her. So, I chose to go in education so that had more time to spend with the kids and with my family, and maybe do some more things that were more interesting to me. You know, because locking up everybody else's child isn’t doing nothing if mine are running wild too, so.
**MG:** What about you? I know you're proud of your two children.
**AJT:** When they got in middle school, both of them, I told them they needed to start thinking about scholarships, and that's because I said, "Dave there's only two kinds of people that" [Audio skips, snippets of conversations play before interview begins again at 10:01]
**MG:** ...Continue talking about the transition from law enforcement to education and into the ministry.
**AJT:** Okay, well I needed to spend more time at home because I was spending too much time involved with the law enforcement and I had an opportunity to take a workshop, and not a workshop, I took a class through Salisbury State that was sponsored by College Park and I met a fellow there by the name of John Hollis(?), who said, "I'm looking for a Black counselor. Would you be interested in coming to Seaford to be a Black counselor in the high school?" And I said, "Sure" and at that point, they were paying $6,000 more than Wicomico, so I went and I spent five years there. Two years in the high school and then three years in the middle school and then they created these human relations positions for Wicomico county and I applied for that and was assigned here to Parkside. And the minority liaison position, minority relations liaison position is basically a position to investigate minority issues and complaints in the school.
**MG:** So, a little bit like the detective work.
**AJT:** Right, right, between students and teachers, students and administrators and even students and parents, or parents and teachers. If it involved a minority then I was to be involved in that. That met with some resistance because there were times when kids would get in trouble, and I would tell them "When you go to meet with the administrator you need to ask if I can be in there too." And a lot of times the administrator would say that "we don't need him in here. We'll handle this." and I felt that the kid came out with the short end of the stick. But, in my position as long as the kid was in school, or was able to get back in school in a short period of time, I didn't want to make an issue of it, but during the year that I was here, Parkside's suspension rate went down. Went down the lowest point that it's ever been, and it hasn't been there since. [Laughing]
**MG:** Well, I thought you did a good job you know, having you around because, yeah, we got a lot of (inaudible), and that's, and I thought, and I think that's, you know, good role models in the school, we just don't have enough male African American role models in the school and I think that's a negative. But you know, trying to encourage, you know, well that question here is, you know, about the 21st century and trying to encourage some of these guys but, you know, there's not a less of people, I guess, still will always be gravitating towards money and there's not a lot of money in the school system but there's a lot of gratification of seeing people smile at you, and say thank you, if you've done a good job like you were talking about, wanting to help the underdog.
**AJT:** Well then at the end of my first year here in Wicomico county I was offered the job as principal of the alternative school, dealing with kids who have disciplinary problems and I spent five years there and after that, I felt that five years was enough and I asked to be placed somewhere else. And with that, they created a principal position in the evening high school for me. So I'm still I'm dealing with kids that dropped out of school and want to come back. I'm still dealing with non-traditional kids, underdog kids.
**MG:** Which you kind of talked about.
**AJT:** Yeah, and we've been rather successful. There's basically no [Audio Cuts] minorities who have come back, Blacks who have come back to school, males and females that they're given a sense of hope, that they can do it and we push very strongly that a high school diploma is the first stepping stone to anything that they want to do in life to succeed in their dreams. In the meantime, I've been involved in the candidacy program for ministries through the United Methodist Church, and after completing that course of study, I was asked to pastor a small church in Somerset county. This church is all white. I call it predominately white because my wife and I go down and integrate it on Sundays, but other than that it's all white and it's a struggle and it reminds you very much of the Deep South. There are some who don't come to church because they have a Black pastor at that church. So, that's their problem and the lord will take care of that.
**MG:** That's really admirable. I mean, it's you know. Of course, you know, I said to you I kind of was kind of attracted to you because I just thought you were a good role model. I guess we'll sort of come and conclude this a little bit. What do you say about race relations heading into the 21st century? And today I see a growing mix of culture and lifestyle amongst the young people that I think, to me, there's always going to be some problems somewhere, but I think there's a better mix than there is, than everybody, maybe you have a better perspective on it maybe than the other side because you see it through the mainstream.
**AJT:** Well, I look at it this way: some people used to think that the United States was a melting pot. In a melting pot, everything goes into the pot and kind of loses its individuality, individual flavor and it kind of becomes the same. I kind of look at this more as a salad bowl and no matter what happens, you know, you're always going to be white, I'm always going to be Black, this guy's going to be Asian, this guy's going to be Haitian and this guy's going to be Mexican. But the only thing that's going to pull us together is a crisis, is that when crisis happens and we all become one, we become Americans where we don't have a color division, and then after the crisis is over then we go back to what we are. Now we have grown from that crisis because it's given us an opportunity to learn a little bit more about each other because we've had to work with each other but I think it's more of a salad bowl that we're going to see, and then what we're going to look at the strengths of each culture and look at the strengths of each people and use that to our advantage rather than our disadvantages. We're going to start looking at our strengths rather than our weaknesses.
**MG:** But that's a great line. A salad bowl. You gave me some stuff to talk about. Any closing comments? [Loud beep, audio skips]
**AJT:** I guess the closing comment is that I think this is a good exercise because this caused me to reflect on things that I have packed away in the recesses of my mind and I brought those thoughts forward and it has caused me to wonder: have things changed or are things still the same? and I'd like to say that in some areas, they have changed, but some areas they've remained the same. I think that the playing field is still unlevel, I think whites still have an advantage over Blacks in this country. I think anybody coming from anywhere else around this world has an advantage over African Americans. Just the mere fact that we have that history of slavery in our background and people will still look at us as being inferior. But I think we are making some headways because the Blacks that are moving up into leadership positions. Look at it this year: there's a Black principal at Wi-High [Wicomico High School].
**MG:** Yeah.
**AJT:** Never had a Black principal at Wi -High before. Had one at Bennett. They haven't had one at Parkside yet.
**MG:** Yeah.
**AJT:** I think we've had one at Mardela.
**MG:** Taylor.
**AJT:** Yeah there's Taylor. So, I mean, we're making strides. Look, we have a Black superintendent. Who'd ever thought about it?
**MG:** And she's a lady, too
**AJT:** Yeah, and she's a female. So, I mean, we're making some strides, we're making some strides. So, and I’ll put this other plug in here too is that growing up on the farm, my grandfather instilled in us a great work ethic. My cousin, who is Edwin Lashley(?), is a retired Navy with the state police, became second in command of the Maryland State Police, which was known as a racist organization. Purely racist organization. Fifties and sixties. This guy went in in the seventies and came to the top. So, is there a future over there? Oh yeah, there's a bright future for Blacks.
**MG:** Well, Lieutenant Governor Steele.
**AJT:** Yeah.
**MG:** You talk to him, maybe being, running for the Senate seat, which I think he would probably fit him better as governor. But, you know, I don't know where you can do the best job.
**AJT:** Mmm-hmm.
**MG:** Well, thank you.
**AJT:** Thank you.
[Interview ends]
Duration 42:48
Recording Date Jul 27, 2005
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Record #38

Type Audio
Title Interview with Hortense Stanley, 13 July 2005
Description In this interview, Mrs. Hortense Stanley describes her experiences of being an African American w…
Duration 25:30

All Fields in This Record

Type Audio
Title Interview with Hortense Stanley, 13 July 2005
Description In this interview, Mrs. Hortense Stanley describes her experiences of being an African American woman before, during, and after desegregation. She describes her education in segregated schools, her children's experiences during desegregation, and her life and experiences since then.

This interview is part of the Teaching American History Program.
For more information, see the [Edward H. Nabb Center Finding Aid](https://libapps.salisbury.edu/nabb-archives/finding-aid.php?id=1550).
Duration 25:30
Recording Date Jul 13, 2005
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Record #39

Type Audio
Title Interview with Kermit Cottman, 14 July 2004
Description In this interview, Karen Scott and Margaret Dize interview Kermit Cottman about his life as an ed…
Duration 1:26:16

All Fields in This Record

Type Audio
Title Interview with Kermit Cottman, 14 July 2004
Description In this interview, Karen Scott and Margaret Dize interview Kermit Cottman about his life as an educator and his role in the Civil Rights movement. Kermit Cottman describes his upbringing on a farm in Quantico, MD, and his education around the Eastern shore in Quantico, Laurel Delaware, and Salisbury High School. He describes the growth he saw on the eastern shore in Delaware and Salisbury and the growth of opportunities for African Americans as well. He also describes his career in education in Frederick Maryland, teaching social studies and science. He also speaks about his involvement in the Civil Right's movement and his experiences with discrimination and segregation at that time.

This interview is part of the Teaching American History Program.
For more information, see the [Edward H. Nabb Center Finding Aid](https://libapps.salisbury.edu/nabb-archives/finding-aid.php?id=1550).
Transcript Interviewers: Karen Scott and Margaret Dize
Narrator: Kermit Atlee Cottman

Interviewer (INT): July 14th, 2004, and we're in the Metropolitan Church in Princess Anne and we're interviewing Dr. Kermit Cottman and my name is Karen Scott, and Margaret Dize are doing the interview. So, Mr. Cottman, we're just going to start by asking you to tell us a little bit about yourself.

Kermit Cottman (KC): Well, originally, well no it can't be originally, I was born in Quantico, in Maryland. I was one of eight children in a family. We live not too far from Hebron. Our school was out where the Westside Elementary School is now in Quantico it's way up there. It's a good five and a half miles. However, you could go to school for about a mile and a half, after we'd go through the forest but when the forest got wet and it rained, you couldn't walk through that to save your life. So, we had to walk around. The law was you had had so many days in school before you could be promoted from one grade to another. You had to at least have 120 days. As a little fella, my sisters hit the good time they had gone to school there, still were in school, but I'd lose my overshoes in the mud but it had dirt roads with oyster shells in them, no busses, to walk to get out to South Quantico, and so, at the end of the first year, I was in the 1st grade. End of the second year, I couldn't pass, didn't have enough days, I was in the 2nd grade. Well, when I'm about 8 years old, or 9 I guess, I was still in 2nd grade. In fact, I was 10 years old in the 2nd grade, and my mother and father decided that the farm wasn't, you couldn't make anything on farm. You stayed wet all time with rain. So [they] decided to move to Delaware. She had some relatives up there, and my daddy could give a fourteen acre farm we had. We can go up there and he could work in the factory and we could go to school. One reason we were attracted to school, [Pierre S.] DuPont had just built roads and schools in Delaware, and he'd built a school in Delaware. The first one built was down in Laurel, Delaware. It was named the Paul Laurence Dunbar School. So, we moved just around Thanksgiving time and went in this new, big building; I'd never been in a brick building other than Salisbury Station, where a train would admit(?). I had never seen running water before. It was a marvel, and so after having been there, it's time to go to school. I had a cousin named Lloyd. Never forget it. Lloyd asked me going to school, says, "What grade you?" And I said, "I'm in the 2nd grade," very proud. [He said,] "If you tell anybody you my cousin, you in 2nd grade I'll beat-" and I won't say what part of me. [My cousin said,] "You as tall as I am." I was taller than he was, as tall as I am now, almost. I grew fast and he said, "You're going with me in Mrs. Webster's room, my room, in the fourth grade." So, we went into fourth grade, didn't have any transcript any report card, anything. Went into the fourth grade, and Mrs. Webster welcomed me, I'm a stranger, and she put her hand on my head! She felt me— well, I didn't know, put hands all on. Oh, my. I was scared to death now, to tell you the truth, as a kid. And she said "Did you ever have reading, oral reading?" I don't know why they gave so much emphasis to oral reading, because really, silent reading should, education should precede oral reading. At any rate, she had me read the story we were reading I remember just as well was The Little Hen Who Went to Dover, set right in the state of Delaware and she found a grain of corn, she goes to Delaware. At any rate, long story short, I missed one or two words, but not many. So, it was just before Thanksgiving. She said, "I'm going to let you take this book home with you and you can practice at home and come back after the holiday," and the principal came in, he looked me over and talked with me, Mr. Howard, and I guess he said "He got no better sense to put himself in the fourth grade, let him stay there." So, I went home and carried it and showed it to my mother and to my sisters that I was in the fourth grade instead of Turkey, we had reading for Thanksgiving. I learned everything, that read the book upside down, sideways, backways, every ways. Any way you want to, name it. In fact, we went back and got ready to examine, I was reading the book and looking outside talking, she [said], "Put the book the book up so you can see it!" I didn't have to, I had memorized the whole thing, almost. Now the reason I could read, though, when we did miss days of school back in Quantico, my mother had taught us, had taught me. You carried your book home those days, covered them in oil cloth. You had take good care of book and they're going to be passed to the next person. My mother was to have been a teacher. She had finished Mardela, where she lived, elementary school, went to Salisbury, had a test. She passed the test but they didn't have any openings, they had two openings and I remember Mr. Walter, I knew him very well, became the teacher of a school somewhere in Wicomico County, Salisbury, and didn't have any opening for her. So, in the meantime, mama fell in love with my daddy. She got married, and my oldest sister, Agatha, was born when she was married about four years. About seven years passed and she got this letter to come, they had an opening for her to teach and she went to the place, and she signed her name just under the name Christianna Dashiells Cottman, and whoever’s the examiner looked at her and said, "Your name's Cottman? We don't hire black teachers if they're married." So, she didn't have a job. So, she put all the time on us, you get it? Now, I go back to school this next day back in Laurel now, back to the place. I read these things where I stayed in the class. It was a combination fourth and fifth grade in one room, you know. Ms. Rivers was a tall old lady, always had this big bun sticking the back of her head, a long fob chain hanging down, skirt down to the ground. I see her just like I don't know it right now, and she said to me, "Aren't we going to hear our new scholar read?" That's when I read all this thing upside down, sideways, and every way. So, I said, I'm gonna let you read some in the fourth—in the fifth grade. Reading was the big thing. She let me do some math in the fifth grade, so I was taking fourth and fifth grade simultaneously. At the end of the school year, I was promoted to the seventh grade, I never knew what sixth meant. She was "You old enough to be in seventh grade, right?" and promoted me not just chronologically, because I could do the work. So, I don't know anything about grades four, five six, all I know they're there. I went, sat, filled them and Ms. Rivers pushed me to go be in those. Now, in school, we begin to have different teachers after going to seventh grade, you know, and each one I had was a very excellent, they were good teachers. I can say that now because I have some experience on what's good and what's bad, and if you could do, they'd give you work to do and so forth. So finally, one time and this was in seventh grade, Mrs. Webster came to me and said, I want you to go to town for me after school, to Macy's Drugstore. "What do you want?" "I want you to go down there and get me an orange stick." You know, the thing you clean your fingernails with. I said, "Do I need someone to help me bring it?" I didn't know what an orange stick was. She said "No, you can put it in that little pocket you got right up there." [I said] "I'd have to ask my mother and father." Now here's a good teacher: she said, "You go ask them." So, I went home, asked my mom, "Mom" I said, “Miss Webster wants me to go to town to get her an orange stick," and "would it be alright?" She said, "We agreed upon that a week ago!" You get it? She was working with home and parent. If we had more people who had time to do that nowadays, a lot of the problems we had perhaps would not ensue. So, when we got it, brought it back to her, she gave me a dollar bill. I went and got this thing, mister—the man gave me the orange stick. I take the orange stick just like this, slipped in my pocket and I went to where she boarded, lived and gave her the orange stick and gave her the change. I think she gave me back 72 cents. I don't know why I think it's 72. Anyhow, she gave me back the original change, said "You can have it," it's the biggest tip I ever had in my life! so I'm in junior high school now. Different teachers you go to and so forth and we had some—high schools were just growing, that's what I'm trying to tell you. Like, they had the 7th grade this year and next year they added on the 8th grade because previously to that, there had been no school beyond elementary school for blacks and no high school. Fact is, what is now Delaware State College was once the high school for the state of Delaware. If you wanted to go, Delaware State College, for example, did not get [Clarification: graduate] its first B.S. degree group until 1934, it was a high school or junior college and so forth. Any rate, we went to, to 7th grade, 8th grade, 9th grade and by the time we got to the 11th grade, we had no 12th grade. There was one up at Seaford. No, no, they had 11th grade too. So, in order to finish high school, you would have to go to Howard High School in Wilmington, Delaware or to Delaware State College high school. Now, don't just down the state of Maryland altogether, I mean, the state of Delaware, because in early 1937, 38, the children in Baltimore County, had to come into Baltimore City to go to high school. Did you know that? Huh?

INT: No.

KC: Black kids know. It's a long journey. Forgot where I was. Oh, I'll get back in Delaware. So, I went to Delaware State College to go to high school, finish up my 12th grade. The courses I had, they put me in, I was in the chemistry, physics, English and I forget the other one, social studies, something like that but I didn't like the living conditions I had. That one long room with cuts all down it. One wash bowl for everybody at that time. Go clean your teeth, spit in it, and wash yourself all off, then someone takes some (inaudible) when it cleaned up, then you use next time. Not going to stand this washing after everybody like that! Home I brought myself, I didn't tell anybody I was leaving, just got back home and they wanted to know what had happened and I wanted to go to school. They knew I wanted to go to school. So, a teacher lived right across from us, Ms. Cooper’s(?), named Ms. Sterling(?). Howard High School had now opened in Wilmington, you can go there. So, I talked to Ms. Sterling(?) and she got in touch with Mrs—the woman was named Mrs. White, her aunt, and I went to Howard High School and I stayed. I had normal subjects: had French, there was a little girl who just finished Howard University. She thought everybody was a Frenchman. She worried me to death. I remember trying to memorize the book, and I still don't know it. All I remember now is "Remy bon en petite maison(?)" The white house and a little man lived in the house or something like that. She even got some people around me in the community to come tutor me, I just didn't like it too much. But we had a physical examination, you know, physical, for physical education. Never had one before in my life. I went down to the place and the doctor pulled me over to the side and said, "You know, you have a hernia, a rupture and strangulation type. You could die, torn down and twisted, give you gangrene. Poison." We call Mrs. White, where I was boarding and they got me back in, in Laurel and I went, to Salisbury Hospital and had an operation. Okay. Operation's over. No antibiotics and all that stuff, you lay on your back for two weeks to recover, now you go in and come out same day. Dr. E. McFadden Dix(?), a German, did the—he was just over from Germany—he did the surgery. Anyhow, I recuperate, I get better, and I go back home where I was in the middle of the year, the same time my daddy had worked for the Delmarva Packing company, the place they made baskets, you know, bushel baskets, and they made bushel baskets by steaming, by steaming logs, great big logs. So, you get them softened enough to put a cutter to cut and it was a foggy morning, and he stepped over this big thing and stepped in there and he scarred his leg from his foot up to here, one of them. He turned almost white and a local doctor came there and treated and so forth. No workmen compensation, they paid him for that week. So, I become the one to go then to the guy with a family to look after. So, I went to the factory and worked. So that's a year lost there. Now, time to go back to school. Daddy gets up, he goes back to work in a hurry the next year and the state of Maryland, Salisbury, had just built a new school. You heard of Chipman Elementary School? Well there was a Chipman High School [Salisbury Colored High School, where Charles E. Chipman was principal for 46 years] on Lake Street. That building was just going up. It had just completed. So, I decided I would go there, be close to home. I had some relatives there. I went downstate with—can't think of her name—Cornish[?]! Ms. Cornish, and we paid $3 a week for a room board, lodging everything, but the Aunt's desire was to help somebody. She was somebody related to my father, to the people there, and she became ill and had to close the house down. So, I'm without a place to stay, went across to Mr. Walter's. He was teaching in Salisbury School. Mr. Walter was the one who had passed the test, way back during my mother was in elementary school, and I could stay there, but we didn't have any money coming home. So, I decided on another procedure. I would live in Laurel and go to school in Salisbury. How? The man driving the produce truck, Solhearn(?), would come from Laurel with a long green truck to pick our produce down at Salisbury Wharf, because the boats would come in there and bring in things for the stores, and I'd get in there and ride down with him and so one morning was cold as the ____(?). He said, "Kermit, I want to tell you something I hate, I'm sorry to tell you this, but you can't ride in the cab with me any longer. Someone's reported I'm riding passengers and it's against insurance. But if you're a fool enough to get on back and cover up with this great big tarp. I don't know you're on back there and we get in town, to Isabelle street I'll let you get off. I'll stop and let you get off but I don't know you you're on there." Very kind of him, wasn't it? So, I decided to take that trip. Alright. I get on there and go, and just at that time, it must have been the middle of winter. All the air in the world I thought I'd freeze. I get from there and walk on over to Lake Street, you know, down to where the high school, which is now an elementary school and Mr. Simons[?] is there at 7 o'clock in the morning to stoke the furnace. So, he carried me down, put me near the furnace, and when I did finally did wake up, it was 12 o'clock and Mr. [Charles E.] Chipman, you've heard Chipman name, the principal was down there. His wife taught home economics, by the way, and they brought me a big bowl of red soup, and it had white potatoes, I'll never forget, and tomatoes and cabbage. I remember this as well and they said, "You can go home with us, you don't have to come down the road," but me go stay with the principal? Wowowowow, nooo! But I had a way back. I'd get to Laurel, to get, a woman from Delmar had a son. She had this little car. She'd bring him down to go to Salisbury High School. He could not go to Delmar school for high school. She bring him in the morning in the afternoon she had to take him to go back Delmar, but she put me all. You know, and then I'd flag some—you take some books, put your belt off, take your books and lay them in front of people and eventually they see so long they pick you up. It was a man who owned a store in Salisbury and Fredericksburg, little black car, and he eventually did take mercy on me when he'd be going back about 5 o'clock, long time standing there waiting to Laurel, and he said to me, "Damn shame you got to do this. You ought to be able to go right Laurel where you, you know, one day [I'll listen to you?] but you keep it up and one day you'll have your own can you can drive over this same land but it didn't matter to me, I was going to do it anyhow. Well, you miss him occasionally. So, my Cadillac with these two Cadillacs down here, I walked six miles back and forth. I was in love, though. I got home, my friend came by we had some beans and stuff, and my friend came by, he talked very slow and kindly, "You want to go to Concord, Delaware?" See I thought that my girlfriend, my wife, said she didn't want to go. "Yeah I want to go!" So, after all that walking, I get up. So, when I got over there, parents had a hot stove for—so I see, I slept, they had to wake me up when he came back. I was still tired. Now I'm deviating too many details. The year I go—I'm still eventually, eventually I finished Salisbury High School.

INT: And what year was that?

KC: 1931.

INT: 31.

KC: Mm-hmm. The idea was I said, I want, Oh! Back before, we had a guy named Vassil West[?] who spent a night with me in Laurel, and he brought his father's book Up From Slavery by Booker T. Washington. We read that book that night all night long by lamplight and we both say we're going to have—and he didn't get to go, some of the things happened in his life—and it gave me a new idea. So, Mr. Chipman, the principal, told me, we were talking, he says, "You want to go to the school so much," he always talked like, very authoritatively. "You're going to Hampton Institute, Virginia. I can get you in down there." Because he was very well known and he sent some students there. "You have to take a work year of five years to do the four years working." Take what was called a work year. So, I sent and got my application, filled it out, put up on it behind the clock. You know, I didn't feel very, so he told me just before going, "I've sent your credentials in to Hampton," and you know, he recommended me before I even sent my other stuff, transcripts, everything down there, so I get a letter from Hampton telling me they had received recommendation from Principal Charles A. Chipman of Salisbury High School. He highly recommended me to come for a work year but didn't have any application. Inadvertently, we may have lost it, or you may have lost it. You lost nothing, I didn't even send it back. So, I filled it out and sent it and in about two or three days, I had my acceptance, so Hampton bound. Well, it cost $3 and a half to ride the train from here to Cape Charles, Virginia to get to Hampton. Stop every little stop, up near Loretta for example, that little place up there, stop, every little stop, all the way down. So, we didn't have any money. So, my mother and father were very good engineers, they determined that this KC: was going to go to school if he wanted to go. So, we came to Salisbury, went to the Household Finance Corporation, went up these long steps, and she told us she wanted to borrow some money. He worked for us, sending this young man to school, "You're sending him to school! There's an awful chance you're taking send a young man like that school." She said "Are you going to let me have the money?" So, he gave her a sheet of paper. She had to list everything she had in the house, I bet she even put down the dust in the house. [Cooker store, well now?], let's put everything down. That was collateral. So, we got $50. Got my ticket, got my clothes, went to Hampton, got into Hampton, and I looked—your guy from Cambridge, George Sinclair, met us, two of us, three of us from Hampton. Three of us from Hampton, from Salisbury went to Hampton, on the same train, all going to take work years. [Elmer A.] Purnell used to be a doctor in Salisbury. Howard Leonard, who's a supervisor for the postal service in New York City now. You know, we get there, go in there to be signed up, you know, payment $35 down. I had to get a laundry bag and some other things and I lost some of this change I had, I didn't know where it was. I couldn't find it. We had to go in to sign up for work. So, I went into the, they had to go into the Dean of Men's or Captain Wilson's office; I got line going to Captain Wilson. So, I'm going to Captain Wilson, he said, "where are you from?" Leaned back, smoking a cigarette [inaudible]. I said, "I'm from state of Delaware." [Captain Wilson responded] "What part?" I said, "Laurel." [Captain Wilson said] "That's right near Salisbury, do you know a Mr. Chipman?" "Yes, I do." Well, he said, "that's right near my home. I'm from Somerset County, Maryland. A little place called Upper Hill, Fairmount." That's where he had originated. He looked at me, "My, you're skinny. You need to get where some food is," and he thought I'd start with that, "I'm going to assign you to the campus cafeteria." I'd never seen so much food in all my life. In the meantime, I wasn't skinny because of a lack of food and stuff. Even though my daddy didn't have any work, he had a job taking care of the mules and so forth or with Delmarva packing, and when they were closed he worked at the boss's house and my mama canned everything she could. We had everything home. Anyway, I'm working in the cafeteria now, and I stayed there and worked and the lady in charge of the cafeteria, Mrs. Randall. For some reason they warned me, I knew she didn't, she liked me but she didn't like me. So, I went back and told Captain Wilson, I said, "I'm not getting along up there right." [He asked,] "Why?" I said, "she paid more attention to the other new people coming in than she does to me," and I can understand why: those people who were working there, Faller and all of them, she had been in school with their parents. So, she's with her friend's friends, right. So, we had enough of this. I'll never forget the story. Well, I'm back. So, he assigned me back there again. The Imitation of Life, a movie was played over at Hampton, and a woman named Mrs. Reasor. Real light-skinned, freckled faced lady with his red bun back right here, was her sister in law. She was in charge of the cafeteria at night from two, you know. So, she said, "Cottman, I"—her husband hadn't been dead long, she had a little boy, Charles. Everybody was going see the Imitation of Life, Louise Beavers was in it. Nobody coming in the cafeteria, this is summertime—"I'm going to leave you some change if anybody comes in. You make a change from this, don’t by the cash register, and I will be back by 9 o'clock, you know, about 10 o'clock." So, I’m working and getting everything straight. Somebody came and got some ice cream. I made a change for him. So forth. Plus, steal some for myself, of course. His fingers and all got on that and the telephone rings. Oh, my goodness. What is this? And the voice came on and I knew the sound of the voice, the time I heard it. It was the president of the college, Dr. [Arthur] Howe, I knew him good. I heard him in chapel and all around all the time, and he said, "I'd like to speak with"— he had a hearing aid, too—"I'd like to speak with Mrs. Randall, or Mrs. Reasor" and I said, "it isn't convenient right now, huh?" Took him very fast. "Lord that woman's gone and she hadn't even told me she was going to leave! So, look I've just come from up North on the boat, and I have some philanthropists with me." Hampton was in trouble, didn't have any money during the Depression years. I think that the DOW was down 18 million, there was no money for a big school like that, "and I brought these people down with me and I want them to have a good meal to eat because my wife's away and my maids away." And he didn't question "You tell them I'll be down for it." He trusted me. I guess I must’ve found as though I could be trustworthy. "I'll be down for dinner" I had never been so frightened in all my life, and this lady going to the movie. Alright, someone came by, called over to the dormitory, I got the cook, Faller, I got to the man who'd make salads. I got Seabrook to set up the tables, and we set up the little dining room. They asked me, "Kermit, do you know what you're doing?" "Yes, I know what I'm doing." I didn't want to do it. Anyhow they did it, and saw how nervous I was. Went up inside the ice box and pull out steaks as wide as I don't know what, ol' Faller didn't beat those things, and just as you got the dining room all set up and everything, they were scared to death, those boys were. "Are you going crazy? Do you know what you're doing?" Yes, I know what I'm doing. The doorbell rings. Mrs. Rose Reasor, coming back to the movie. "Oh, Kermit I thought I could trust you! You boys are having a party. Well, I'm gone, oh my my!" Two minutes after that, the doorbell rings. In walks President Howe with these people. "Mrs. Reasor, I'm sorry to bother you at this time of the night." It was about 10 o'clock by then, you know, "Just our pleasure to serve you!" She really fibbed on them, “It's our pleasure to serve you! Been waiting for you!" You ain't even got in the house, woman! But then, from that time on, I had it made. My wages went from fourteen cents to twenty-one cents an hour. Right, and I was assigned permanent to the night shift, and so I go to work. So, I did five years, I had English and math on Monday, Wednesday and Fridays. Well, we had to take an entrance examination. In that big auditorium, taking this entrance examination. Martin Critchlow(?) From Newport News, Virginia, Terry Desamono(?) from somewhere in North Carolina. Kermit Cottman, naming myself now, Howard Leonard, Elmer Purnell, well five of us made the highest scores of anybody on the math, and I mean—and my math was, Richard Chipman(?) had taught me, caught me up on what I didn't know in math on the side in one year's time. He's a powerful teacher. So, we got a job surveying, you know, it’s how the church steeple and all that stuff is back there, and then take your regular classes too, and then I got, I had jobs in the library, later on. I had one in the town called Phoebus. One year, I lived off the campus with one of the professors so it would cut down on my dormitory costs. His wife, bless her heart, Mrs. Keiper(?), all she did all day was sit and look beautiful for him, come home from work. He was an English teacher. I have a hunch now that I look back. He must have married her right out of Dartmouth. He could have been her teacher to tell you the truth because he was older than she was, could've been and they had a kid, two kids, old Tom, and she'd sit in the house all day long, and I'd come home. "Cottman?" "Yes, Mrs. Keiper(?)" "Oh Thomas, let Thomas mess anywhere in the place, and he'd just sat there all day long, waiting for me to come home" This woman is crazy, but I had to do it you know. Well, eventually I was graduated from Hampton June 2nd, 1936, at 10 o'clock in the morning. My wife was graduated June 2nd at 2 o'clock in the afternoon from Delaware State College. On June the 19th, we got married, eloped and got married. Now ask me something else I'm drilling too long on one thing.

INT: That's okay! So when, at what point did you come back to Somerset County and start your career, family?

KC: Okay. The story of Somerset County is a long story. When I had finished Hampton, I had been recommended to go to Athens, Georgia. Didn't have go for an interview, Hampton said they want somebody, they want somebody and they were not going to open till October. So, I went on back to Ocean City and worked in a hotel that summer. I worked at a hotel the whole time. Incident, I had two teachers from Salisbury State who used to come to Ocean City. I went there and worked in the summer. They were the best. They were from Salisbury, what do you call it, Salisbury Normal, I guess they called it. They were a very kind two women, I'm telling you. And if I got so busy and couldn't wait on them, "that's all right, go ahead. We'll wait!" They just sit there and talk. They were really good people and they never did tip you. The first year, it was "take your time," and when they got ready to go, they came to me, they said, "Wait, they wouldn't let me leave the money on the table." Now, this is 1931 I'm talking through now. No, 19? Thereabouts, somewhere back there. They gave me $15 a piece! I don't know if they were what they called a mega nut, I don't know, one of them, I don't know. But at any rate, those were two good women! They didn't have to give me that money, and they were kind. Now, the lady for whom I worked, though, "Cottman when are you going down to Georgia, you know better than to go way down there." So, I wrote them a letter. See, I hadn't even been for an interview. They're going to take me on, basically, is what the school said. The letter was perfectly done because my wife is an English major, I knew she knew how to do it. The girl working through the office did the typing. Had enough. My wife worked in another hotel. They read that letter. It was perfect. There wasn't anything wrong with the letter and this man wrote me back on the back of my letter, and I'm sorry I didn't keep it. "The position for which you applied has been filled" on the back of my letter. So, I asked Mrs. London(?), the owner of the hotel, if I could call the Hamptons, she let me call Hamptons. "Forget it." That's what they said. You just forget it, nothing to do about it. We'll find you something somewhere. "Have you applied anywhere, I should say, in the state of Maryland for a position?" Oh, yes, I had been offered Centreville, had a contract for that and sent it back and I had an offer in, you know, Centreville, and I got a letter from Frederick. I didn't even answer the one from Frederick. I didn't, because you know, and my dear wife had given up her job in Marshallton, Delaware, Louis and Wilmington. She had three, but she was going to go with me. She got all dignified where she'd go [in a posh accent] "Oh, we're going to live in Athens," she'd have a thing. We had to go back to her mom and papa's out in the country and they were very kind. They didn't get mad. Her father said "Well! Things don't always happen the way you want them to happen. You can go to work with me tomorrow." Well, we'd been working on the roads, making those roads DuPont's putting down out here, no, I'm good though. At any rate Mrs. London(?), this woman in this hotel, I'm telling you I worked at. She got on her phone and she called Frederick County. She wanted to speak to the superintendent of schools, Mr. Eugene Pruitt. "Listen, you tell her I said this is Mary London speaking and I want to talk with him now. I know he got that phone," and they would talk about old days when he was once a teacher, she was a teacher. So funny, she said to him, "Eugene," I said, "Oh, my dear. She must know the guy." "Eugene, I've got a boy," Always boys or sons. We are one of her sons, white, black, everybody was her son, you wouldn't [several inaudible words] or daughter, if you're a woman running around. "...And I want him to have a job." And she talked and talked and she said, "Son. They say the position been filled. They don't have anything up there." So, school was going on in Frederick. I don't know what to do. In the meantime, I don't know what you call this. In the meantime, I was serving dinner at 6 o'clock and my daddy came from Laurel, Delaware and he got my friend. I had a friend named Bill Dickerson. I suspect he couldn't even write his name, but we were always friends. He washed cars. He had such confidence where he washed cars that he could get a car anytime he wanted, put tags on it. He borrowed this car from Purnell's garage in Laurel, got my daddy and daddy came with a yellow piece of paper, just like this. It was a telegram from Baltimore State Department of Education, J. Walthousen(?), state supervisors of schools and he said on that the [telegram], "Report to Frederick County at once. Your position is assured. Contact Howard D. Pindell, the principal. Tell him what time you will arrive. Your position is assured, report at once." So, my wife then, we got her, came down on the bus to Salisbury, went to Goodman's Store down on Main Street, Salisbury, got me teacher-looking clothes, oh she made me sharp! I looked good to him too, my father, and my brother had a suit. I borrowed his suit and his clothes, we were the same size and I caught the train in Seaford and went to Wilmington and then from Wilmington to Baltimore and then you catch a Greyhound bus line and go up to Frederick. See, didn't have no direct route across the Bay Bridge and all that stuff. Didn't have no Bay Bridge to tell you the truth. So, I got to the train in Baltimore. Every time I go by there, about one o'clock in the morning, taxies going by, picking up other people. Nobody picked me up! And I stayed there so long the police riding by stopped car and came over and said, "Are you still—" He said, "Where you do you want to go?" I said, "I wanted to catch the bus line to the Greyhound bus line but nobody didn't pick up black people at time of night, you know what I mean?" And he stopped his cab and I got in there. Being young and crazy, I guess, I asked the man, "How far was it from the bus terminal? From the train station to the bus terminal?" He said, "You ever been here before?" I said "How far is it?" Any time you paid $3 and a half riding in Baltimore in 1936, you're doing a lot of riding. Do you know how far the place was? About walking from here [Metropolitan United Methodist Church] to the college [University of Maryland, Eastern Shore, about 500 feet]. I could have walked it but I didn't know! He charged me-well we all aboard a bus, all aboard, right, right, right, right, right. So, when I get up there, Frederick, here this man comes, Pindell, comes down in his shirt sleeves, and those glasses on, I'll never forget it and said, "Is this Coach Cottman?" Coach Cottman, this man must be, I can't be a..."I have a very odd combination." I said, "I teach science and I teach history." What? "Well you're the coach, also." I said, "I'd never done—" "Well act like you're a coach." So, he carried me into the auditorium next morning, a special assembly, we have an assembly, and we introduce Coach Cottman. Jump over some time, I had to coach girls and boys, 7 o'clock to 9 o'clock in the basement of Asbury Church. The first game I played, we played Storer College up to Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, and our school beat the college, a small place. We went to Cumberland, Maryland. We lost up there. The next game we played, we came back to Hagerstown and went into a tie. I didn't know what to do in overtime, overhead going over time, and didn't have anybody to help me nobody to tell me "Oh, I think we're in overtime" but anyhow, we got through it. In 1937, we had state championship teams in the state of Maryland, isn't that something? The man who had been there was a good coach. Get it.

INT: Mm-hm.

KC: I give him praise for it. Plus, I didn't have sense enough to keep their spirits up, you understand, and I said to him, I said to the boys, when we were in overtime, I said, "What are we going to do? We're in overtime." He said, "We're going to make a foul, and the boy is going to jump on my back, and I'm going to freeze the ball." "Freeze the ball? This is awful. How is he going to freeze the ball?" Nevertheless, he did just what he said, and we won. I was up there, their children won a championship, oh, years ago. I went back as their banquet speaker and happened to Mr. Mears(?), who had been their previous coach. Mears had been promoted to a principalship, and I got a chance to tell him what he'd done for that team because it wasn't my doing. All right. How did I get here?

INT: Yes. How did you get to Somerset?

KC: I'm coming to Somerset now. This man in Baltimore, J. Walter Huffington, who was a state supervisor of colored schools came up to Frederick to see me teach. Now, he was state supervisor of colored schools and he was the boss. He ran schools in Maryland for blacks. He knew something, he was a smart man. Good man. So, coming down the hallway, to get to my room, the door was open and he saw this other new teacher in there he thought was Ms. Clark(?), well Ms. Clark had gone back to Ohio to settle an estate, both her parents had died and she had a month’s leave of absence. My wife had nothing to do, so she was called in substitute and she could teach anything she wanted. So she had a poem for Robert Frost, The Death of the Hard Man, and she'd made it into a drama and he went in there and guidance was just coming into schools and he saw her teach them, and in the back of my room and we'd both be talking, he's a little short guy, John, he kept telling, "Eugene talked to me, that girl is too good to just be a substitute and she ought to have a job, she needs a job!" "Well okay,", I thought myself, "this is something." So, he said "Sometime when you're going through on your way, going back to Delaware. Stop by my office," and that was it. So, on our way coming back. We stopped by the office and he said "Mrs. Cottman I want to tell you I enjoyed that lesson you taught from Robert Frost. Great, great lesson." Guidance that we really need to teach our lesson so it has some value to it. "Well, next year come back to me again." So, I thought, well this is something. So, the next year I came back. We said, we'll stop in in and out. So, we didn't sit down, and when he walked in the door he said, "Now Mrs. Cottman, you have a major infringement, you need some history. You'll have to go to Virginia Union, Richmond, Virginia. I called down there already and they'll take you. They're going to be two days late," but I still didn't know what was going on. He hadn't told me a thing. [He continued,] "And Mr. Cottman, we'll be waiting for you. You're the principal of the school down there to Princess Anne." It was just that simple, and so I came down, and it was an old beat up, dilapidated, messed-up building. The year before, they had changed the principal of the school. Discipline at the school had been terrible. I have never found it a disciplinary problem. I've found good people. I've found loving people and if I got this place straightened out now, I was to go to Baltimore County for a new school they were building for blacks up there because they were just growing high schools. Even went up in the summer and look at the school and they were going to hire me. The thing I liked best in anything I can remember from that school, I'll never forget it, was my office that had an inner office and then, you know, a waiting office and the principal in the back, three rooms get to him, and then they had a kitchen or steel kitchen for a cafeteria. We didn't even have cafeteria here. It was just everything that anybody could want in the world. Jumped in my car coming back, and my wife had been teaching about 40 miles from another school across, she couldn't drive a lick. Coming out from Towson, 5 o'clock traffic, my car cut off right by there about a month ago, my car cut off in front of a firehose and the minute the fire station had to come push me out of the way of traffic. So, when we got back home, she said, "I don't want to go back up there. I don't want to go back up there, mister, I don't want to go". So, there's my boss, right here Mr. Clinton Carman, my friend "Can you help me find a principal or a good man?" He said "They're going to take you up to Baltimore, I'm sorry to leave you" So, Ms. Ethel [my wife] said, "Mr. Carman, we don't want to go we want to stay here." That was it. Another time, some years pass, this is just prior to integration and desegregation, whatever you call it. I had a call from, a telegram from Ira Claire or Era Claire [Eau Claire], Wisconsin. I had met a man who was a youngster in 1938 at Columbia University. He went on to become a superintendent of schools out there, and he told me, although we don't have any segregation, there is a black school in a predominately black district, an elementary and high school. It pays twice what you're making down there where you are. Come on out, and that was too far out for her. She was happy and I want to keep my wife happy. I love her. And I turned him down, we corresponded for years after that, and the last offer I had was going to Richmond, Virginia. I met a man at University of Pennsylvania. He wanted me to come down there. He didn't pay any more we were paid here. At any rate, I stay on to here, this becomes the—this is the place and that's why—how I got here. Well I, two or three times, could have left and if I had to do the whole thing over again, I'd still be here. Now that's a long story.

INT: Yes. So, you started in Somerset in what year?

KC: I came here in 1938—39.

INT: Okay.

KC: At that time, salaries were different. Incidentally, I started off in Frederick County and my salary was $80 a month. I take out $3.88 each month and I had $76.12 to spend, remember it very well. The black teachers around here, were getting 60 to 65 dollars a month on the Eastern Shore. We met in Baltimore on, if you don't know name of the street, my principal Howard D. Pindell and I still hear from him. He is 98 years old, lives in Philadelphia, high rise apartment. He's been on faculty at Temple and two or three other schools around there. He had a triple bypass, when he woke up, they asked him "What is the first thing you want?" He said he wanted to go to Paris and his daughter carried him to Paris and we still talk on phone occasionally. It's interesting and here's a friend who's lasted all these years. But Pindell worked in Anne Arundel County and he was going to be a plaintiff for equalization of salaries. We met a woman named Enolia McMillan. Enolia was president of the Colored State Teachers' Association [Maryland State Colored Teachers' Association]. She was doing research work up at Columbia University, and she was stunned by the difference in the curricula in all schools and a woman by the name of Mabel Foyen(?)—very fine professor, I got to meet her one time—asked her why didn't she go into the salary situation and when she got, she really got started on that. So, she looked into the salary situation and she found that we weren't getting anything, but we had the same requirements to be a teacher. Bowie, or the Normal School for blacks, they the same, you know, same curriculum, course by course, that you had at Salisbury or Towson or Frostburg. Same requirements, same everything, certified by the same state. So, it got interesting suing, so what they did: Pindell who, at that time, was teacher of science and had been I mean, in Bayside School in Annapolis was to be the plaintiff. So, to silence his mouth they made him principal of the school where I went. Get him off tenure. A guy named Mills became the plaintiff, principal of elementary school, guy could get along with anybody. He's just a good man, that's all he is, a good guy. So, he gave the test and this meeting at Ms. McMillan's house was the head of the law school from Howard University, Dr. [Charles Hamilton] Houston, and Thurgood Marshall. I got to meet Thurgood Marshall. In fact, I sat right beside him, you know, but I wasn't a part of anything. These other people run the show, I went along as a young guy and went along with my principal, see what I mean? So, I don't want to think I had anything to do with running it, one way or the other. But I got to see the whole history unfold and he was so busy suing the state of Baltimore County so that the kids up there wouldn't have to come to town to go to school. He didn't have time to bother the salary thing. So, I forget the other lawyer, Pindell wrote a letter to him and he assigned Houston and somebody else to the case. He was the backup man. Now, Houston had been his teacher, so he went before a man by the name of Judge [W. Calvin] Chestnutt, and Judge Chestnut issued a statement saying there's no need going further into court. It is undeniably discrimination. It's is a violation of the 14th Amendment. They are entitled to equalization of salaries and we sued through that, so we didn't have go any further in the suit. In 1939, salaries were equalized. You knew it, did you?

INT: No.

KC: You know you learned some history, lady.

INT: Yes, sir.

KC: And this is living history, I went through it. I saw it, I saw the whole thing. What else?

INT: Well, let's talk about the desegregation of schools in Somerset county.

KC: Alright, when time got better for desegregation of schools, a leader of the county into my office, handed me a little piece of paper about the size of that. He had a chart I'll never forget. He said, "If you put a civilized person and a non-civilized person together, who will benefit: the civilized or the non-civilized?" Every time he answered himself: "The non-civilized," implying that blacks were not completely civilized. Then I talked with the superintendent one time, individual conference, and he was a good man, c. Allen Carlson was a good man. This is just before he retired, and we were talking and he said to me he did everything big enough to do. In fact, when my kids were literally on Decorative(?) Avenue, they were playing out in the street one day. He wasn't old enough to go to school. He told me, go home and curse the girl out who had him, that he had no business out there playing. He's a good guy, he's buying Christmas presents and all that stuff. Well, in the process of talking, he told me, he said, "People are different," said, "I'm better than you, I'm from Sweden," and he turned as red as a beet because that was not his character saying a thing like that. We were down to his house, Upper Hill [, Maryland]. He raised a garden, had butter beans. He cooked these butter beans, cooked them in plain water, salt and pepper. No, no, no, nothing in them. The hardest beans, I used to hate [them], though I didn't want to show the man I couldn't eat them, I'd say to him, "I'm sorry," and we'd talk. Now, so they had individual conferences. The next superintendent coming in, now deceased, by the way, had an individual conference and he said, with each supervisor "What do you think we should do?" So, I offered a plan: I said, "Well, what we should do, let's take the supervisors and they visit with me to my schools and I visit with them to theirs. People will get accustomed to seeing different people, you know?" and yeah, somebody else. "Then what schools? If we finally break up, what schools would you take? Well, how will we do it?" Right. Well you have to have someone who knows history and someone who knows high school work, and someone who knows elementary work and it so happens I was the only one in the office who was trained in both elementary and high school work. You know, qualified to be a principal or a teacher in high school or elementary. The only school we had in the county that was like that was Deal Island, they had a high and elementary school all together. So, I was the chief supervisor down there at Deal Island and then, and then the next we broke up, made principals, vice principals. We got, what's his name, Lester Pollitt, now deceased, became vice principal of Washington High School. Guy in math went to Crisfield to teach math. A guy named Junior, I forget his name, became vice principal of Crisfield High School and we did, well you know, change white and black. Conal Turner, you know Conal Turner? He still around here. Conal Turner became a vice principal of a Somerset School. So, the day of reckoning comes when we—Oh, there was opposition, don't misunderstand me. Around Washington high school flagpole, I'd be riding, coming to town and there'd be a group of boys out there with the shirts off, hanging down, walking round the flagpole, keeping a little room, that was an intimidation for people going by. I guess the principal didn't see them, I don't know. Well, you had to break up the busses, put the busses on the, you know, so many whites on this so many blacks on this, and the kids from Deal Island high school had come up here to go here [Princess Anne] and the kids in Deal Island, there's people down there all been associating, having a good time together all their lives, it didn't make a difference to them. You know what I mean? and the fact is they used to look at the work that our kids had from the Somerset high school, so forth. My wife went over here and the math teacher went over there and some of the teachers came over here. We all mixed up. Still, you have this little 400 years of tension coming through. Eventually, they said I'm going to school. See, our county does not have racial patterns or whites living on one side and colored [on the other], they all mixed up and mixed around. So, we went ahead. Then, there were some white parents [that] did not want black teachers to teach their kids. You know the Kipps down here? Kipp's Nursery? They have a daughter named Karen and I taught her there sometime. I pitied Karen, when my wife died she came and she cried, oh, I don't want to get thinking about that, though.

INT: We're going to stop...

KC: Karen went to a- [Audio and footage cuts].

KC: [Footage and audio resumes] A Metropolitan Church. Stems from my maternal grandfather, William Dashiells. Incidentally, the family will be getting together the last day of this month for our second big reunion. Last year we had about ninety, this year we expect a couple of hundred. William Dashiells was born in Mardela Springs, Maryland, Broad Creek Hundred, if you know the area back down there. He lived in an old plantation house. Honestly, the rooms in that house, the downstairs rooms were really a bit taller than this [Gestures to ceiling of Church]. Why they built the houses, I don't know, like that. At any rate, he lived in this house with his—I went, that's where I met him—But they had in barns and stuff and shacks and his father. His mother had died. His father [when William] was eight or nine years of age who was my grandfather, my mother's father and one day he said his master, that's what he called him, master, got him, he said, in a horse [and derby?], which means a team, and they drove the old back, a toll road, from Mardela around and came on up and really be around the way. The old road come through Allen all the other way. They came here to Princess Anne, to a slave auction. Now about this time, now, I learned this from him, it's because I stayed close to him so I could learn and he was a smart guy. But he remembered what the people were talking about around him. Slaves were being sold for two reasons: one, people would sell them to make some money if the farm was not doing well and two, there were people who wanted slaves with certain characteristics. It was a means of making money, and so he was brought here to Princess Anne. Where this edifice is now is where the old jail house used to be and that choir loft, according to having talked with people who lived here was built on later. But where the choir loft now is, where the people sing back up in there, that was an auction block. So, I'm assuming that spot from which my great-grandfather was told that "how much can I get for him?" and so on, and somebody from the state of Georgia bought him. My grandpa was—I call him grandpa, grandpa William we called him always. As I got older, he let me in on some of the secret of why they may have wanted him, his grandfather. He was skinny. Never got sick. His offsprings were hard workers, they're skinny, they never got sick. They wanted him for reproductive purposes, to write a long story short. He was a stud. That's probably what it amounts to, I'm sure from the way Grandpa told me and he'd be very cer—he'd be very dignified in telling you but I knew what he was driving at, I wasn't that dumb [Laughs]. I can catch on, and as I got older, he let a little more of it out but that's why they wanted him, and they sold him down into Georgia. And he said as he was getting ready to go, he waved his hand to him like this [waves right hand] and he waved to him and turned around and looked, and he never saw him anymore. So, they carried him back over home to this old plantation house. Now, even as a kid, ten or twelve years of age, I wasn't better. I was in high school in Laurel at the time, or elementary school, I guess. I would always come down in the summertime to be with grandpa because he grew watermelon and I like your watermelons and you get to hear him talk, and he, if you wanted to know how he looked, he had generally the same look that I look. His hairline is the same as mine so there must be some resemblance, we gel just like that. He was telling me as we would talk there, about what he had to do on the farm. He said one of the things he had to do was to put the cows out in the morning, you know. Another thing, they taught him how to wrap cigars, you know, take tobacco, the master grew cigars, and he had some molasses or sorghum they had, and he'd wrap and make his cigar for him, and if he want a drink of water, go get the water for him, he was just a handy, little handy boy. In fact, they almost, he never had any adverse feeling toward them from what I can understand, you understand? They accepted him. This is just prior to the Civil War, because he said one day when he had some rabbit boxes to catch rabbits in. He went out to get to his rabbit boxes one day and there were two soldiers walking across the field and just to have some fun, they shot in the air, not at him, to see what he'd do. He lost his rabbit box, rabbits, and everything else. Said he flew right through there, flying, to get on home and they told there wasn't any fighting in Mardela going on, they were some people going to join the army. He stayed on that farm and worked and worked and worked, and there's boxcars, you know, they had an automobile, you know, train for the straw in the boxcars, you know, ship watermelons and cantaloupe, and they shipped watermelon and cantaloupe and then the generation changed. They sent them to Philadelphia and New York and a younger generation came by, so this woman Miss—I won't call her name because I mean, I'd get it wrong—she came down and told him, said "Uncle Bill," she called him uncle bill, "You've been saving the money, it's in the bank of [Mardela]. We have $800 in the Bank of Mardela, that's a lot of money. You can draw it yourself, but as you get ready to build a house, we are closing the plantation down. You get a piece of land in front and he with his children, the house. Now, I think that's enough on him because I want to get back to the founding of this place right here. Now, how did this place... we haven't gone to how this building...? Okay, let's go back to that, I'm jumping from that now to this. Around 1800, thereabouts, 1800 and there on, black people worship in this St. Andrew's Episcopal Church around here in the balcony and they worship there for a number of years, and what, we didn't go to the Methodist church. To start off, we went there. But there came through Methodism was pretty strong at the time, who had a—the Presbyterians and the other denominations talked against the wrongs of how to treat your fellow man. But when the Methodists came through, they were just a little more vocal, and among the vocalists that they talked about, they hinted, not only hinted, they talked about slavery as wrong and so these people who worship around there separated themselves from St. Andrew's Church and formed a little church among themselves. I've been trying to find a written talk with people who are older, who is older I am now, who would had oral history passed down to them. There was no fuss. There was no push out. There was just an acceptance, these people wanted to go, so they formed a little church among themselves. That church got too small, so they purchased, in around the 1800s another piece of land and farm, and found a church west of Princess Anne, that's on the Deal Island road, where the cemetery is now and they named John Wesley, of course, in the previous room. They worship there for a long period of time, and then it became too small for what they want to do. They realize that slavery is going to be over and they are going to have the first black education in Somerset County. Keep in mind, did you know this? That there were colored churches in Marion and so forth before this was? But they organized the church over there and one thing they want, they want to teach people to read and to write. They realized that education was the way up. But what's interesting that they had that foresight to do it. They move, eventually they bought this tract of land here. This is where the old courthouse was and the old slave auction block, and they erected this particular building. I've been wondering what were some of the factors, though, that caused them to separate and there's a book that was put out by the Delaware conference in 1965 that showed some light on it, but not completely. You had some preachers, black preachers, who were licensed to preach in the Methodist church, that is before the other denomination would take you on. Among those people licensed to preach, oh, there was a man. There was a man licensed to preach to the Indians. He left and went to Ohio, to the Wyandot Indians and that was the beginning of, in the Methodist Church, of missionary work outside of the conference. He was a black guy. He'd come around and converted those people and they became very, very, loyal to him. Also, we may look here, see that those doors fold there? That is known as the Akron plan. Did you know that? I didn't know it until I just finished reading a book. He didn't have anything to do with this but the people who went West believe that a sanctuary should be just for worship but they wanted a place for the meetings, and the political meetings and so forth. So, they put up, they could use for an overflow body and that is known as the Akron plan but an interesting book you might want to read called The Churches of Somerset County, you've seen it?

INT: Mm-Hmm. I haven't read it, but I ran across it yesterday in the library.

KC: All right, all right. Yeah. I want to get back to this. Oh, I was on that book, cut that off now. [Footage cuts and restarts] [The Methodist congregation] didn't have much money, but their minutes show, if you read those, they said this quarter, we had raised around $700 and we'll be able to begin. So, in 1888, the cornerstone was put out here and no sooner had they got this done, they realized they didn't have any people trained enough to run churches. So, they got the preacher here at the church at that time made petition with a man who founded Goucher College and they got talking, and they borrowed some money from the conference to get started. But they had to pay it back, of course. But this church then founded the college, what I'm trying to talk about, and the aim of founding that college was so they could train more preachers to go on to Morgan College in Baltimore. But this was a branch of Morgan College at that time called the Centenary Biblical Institute in Baltimore. They had to train these people, they started off with 13 or 14 people. Well, among them were some people I knew who used to be in this church. That's about all the history is, a lot more, it just didn't come to me now.

INT: That's all right.

KC: Yeah, yeah, you ask me some questions, question me.

INT: Okay. So, one of the significant things I read about this church is that in the sixties, when some of the students from the college were protesting, they kind of use this as a meeting area.

KC: Alright, let me tell you that. In the sixties now and moving on up, the kids over at the college wanted to—the civil rights movement was going on all over the country—they wanted to go in some restaurants up here and go uptown. So, I was in Boone, North Carolina, sort of coming to, on my way, going to my daughter's graduation at Fisk University and we got lost that night in the mountains in the fall. Again, we stayed in a home up in the mountains and the Indian Black man cross. Fact is, we stopped at a little old selling station, wanting to know where we could find a motel and the music was going on over the side and on the side of this they had KKK playing up there. And we turned, they played it real loud and then radio came and said "Last night, the Ku Klux Klan marched here." So, we start at this little service station and there's this little raw-boned Indian man, a black white guy. "Where could we find a place to stay?" and he said, "You call me Preacher. I don't know if the times are going crazy around here," he said, "But what you do, you get behind the first truck that comes, because it's foggy, and follow them until you get in town and then there'll be a Ford Place on the side and go up the hill and there'll be a light, I'll call up there and"—he preaches at our church, I didn't know, I didn't know this great big Indian, old hairy guy, and we did just like he say. We followed the thing, we got up there. Anyhow we went in the room, and his wife was over there shelling some, doing some strawberries and we look at the television and I look at it and saw Metropolitan Church, and there was Dick Gregory walking around and up here. I said, "That's my—" he said, "It's been on four or five times tonight." The kids in the college had left the college, well the doors were locked here but they broke the doors down or pushed the door down and came in and Dick Gregory's here up in the pulpit and I saw him when I was in Boone, North Carolina. I'll never forget that. At the same time, I had been to Crisfield, when we had gotten back, to Woodson School; I was supervisor down there. I was coming down the street down here. When I got here on this hill, the fire department was right here on this hill, to getting their hoses out and the kids were coming up full-breast. They didn't care for water, nothing else and they came to me, they saw I wanted to make a turn to go over that way and the kids begging me to go on and the man who was holding the [hose], they hadn't turned water on. He's dead now, bless his heart. Looked up, and he saw who I was. He dropped it. They didn't put any water on them. We worked together in the same office. I don't usually talk about that because we were friends. In other words, they did not throw any water on them coming up that hill and it happened just by coincidence. I stopped on that corner and the had those, getting that hose, all that stuff ready and when he looked up, and looked, when saw me in my car and dropped it, and the kids marched on up town and he around on the street, and he went inside the place. That's briefly what happened. So, from that time on— oh, another thing, interesting thing happened at that same time during the march, you know. You had, we locked the church because, and we part a guard down inside, some men downstairs here too because they may burn it down. You didn't know if it was going to happen, but nothing ever happened. Anything else? I guess I've asked you everything.

So after the students protested, I guess it was within days then that they were able to have service up at the restaurants in town.

KC: Well, this one goes to prove that you can go get a ____(inaudible) for somebody. They didn't necessarily want sandwiches and stuff like that, they wanted to prove they had a right to go where they please, you know?

INT: Right.

KC: And I never saw anything. When I was riding in, I didn't see anything unusual happening from that time on. They didn't have over at the college, their protests meeting over there, because they want to bring it near town. But I did remember seeing in this church, right back in that pew(?), Dick Gregory, just up prancing up inside there, now why the devil did he get inside there?

INT: So, they forcefully came into the building. They weren't really given permission-

KC: No.

INT: -to use this as a meeting area.

KC: Well, you could you could force a door, you know.

INT: Right.

[01:20:53] KC: They didn't tear anything up.

[01:20:54] INT: But no one was here from the church and said, "Come use this space!"

[01:20:57] KC: No, no, no. They came into through a door. Now we look back, it was just another incident, you know?

[01:21:03] INT: Right.

[01:21:05] KC: Okay. That's all.

[01:21:07] INT: Is there anything else you'd like to share with us that you think is particularly interesting or significant? I'm sure you have lots of...

KC: Yeah. I'm interested in telling you something about the schools we had before desegregation, and I'm not bragging on myself, I don't want to do that. But my superintendents and Board of Education entrusted me, bless their hearts, to do whatever I want to do, anything I wanted to do I could do. I did my own hiring, my own firing, my own supervision, had grades from one to twelve. I got some of the top-notch people from all over the place. One of the teachers I had, by the way, she was from down in—I spoke at her funeral not long ago. I tell you, Robert James(?) and Daniel DeLong(?), she became the supervisor of personnel in Philadelphia schools. She taught right over here in Somerset High School. Marcus Foster(?), from Cheney(?), became superintendent of schools in Oakland, California. He's one of my teachers. The present president of Morgan State University, Dr. Earl [S.] Richardson, is a graduate over here from Somerset School here. He had inspiring teachers. I hired a teacher with the idea—I must talk about my son too, my son, Kirkwood Cottman works for Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company. He's a research chemist. He has 35 patents, and of all they have, they had at the annual meeting in Luxembourg, from Luxembourg, over in Europe, and all round from 14 different major places of Goodyear. Not that he's my son, but it is my son too. He was honored as the Chemist of the Year. He invented a method of making, another method of making rubber to go into your pantyhose, into your, or adhesive to go on the back to the envelopes and stuff and they don't announce it but you can make it cheaper than we had been making it, so they, you don't announce that because other companies will want to come down. They only make around $3 million a year off of that. Kirkwood Cottman and it was in the paper not too long ago, my son, he [inaudible as INT: coughs] I can name you umpteen numbers of people. Now, how I got my teachers, they kind of let me have the county car, and I'd go to different schools and, you know for grad, you know, and pick out people. I'd go to Hampton University, Hampton, Virginia. I'd go Virginia Union University, going to Pittsburgh and to North Carolina, all around Chaney [University], Morgan [University]. I went everywhere. I'd tell you I want you to be a teacher, but I want you also to be a leader, or guide. The difference between being a teacher and a guide: a teacher is the leader of the classroom, isn't it? Right, but you can do that also when you're sort of a guide, the child never feels they're being dominated. I built my school, my work around especially the school year over here, around the idea of adolescent psychology. They don't want you to tell them anything, do they? You know how you were as a teenager, you're a teenager yourself, now. [Laughs] They don't want to be told anything. You know the way around that you learn in life. You learn what it's all about. But someone could say, what about something that you think through a little bit? You're still going to do whatever you want to do. So, we developed so you could get leadership, fellowship and it wouldn't be just smart people and slow people. We'd been in clubs. Clubs in the school. Once every week, we had a rotating [schedule], cut a period out and have a club. I learned that from a book at Temple University. Temple [University] at that time, was in progressive educations, they had a lot of ideas and you'd have people who became the leaders of a club. Boy here may be taking chemistry, but he may be also be in the course. You could be in different things, you know what I mean? And they learn how to have their own, develop their own leadership and so forth and I think it paid off, it did turn out pretty well. My daughter, she's not doing too poorly, and their children's children. Let's cut this off, I want to tell you this.
[Audio and footage end]
Duration 1:26:16
Recording Date Jul 14, 2004
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Record #40

Type Audio
Title Interview with Maybelle Smiley and Ernestine Brown, 13 July 2005
Description This interview was conducted by Matt Gresick and Cristel Savage with Maybelle Smiley and Ernestin…
Duration 21:46

All Fields in This Record

Type Audio
Title Interview with Maybelle Smiley and Ernestine Brown, 13 July 2005
Description This interview was conducted by Matt Gresick and Cristel Savage with Maybelle Smiley and Ernestine Brown. In this interview, Maybelle and Ernestine describe their lives in the early 20th century in San Domingo, MD, and their experiences with race relations at that time. They describe average life at that time, and their education in segregated schools as children as well as the impact of Brown v. Board of Education on their community. They comment on their experiences of segregation and racism, such as segregated restaurants and theaters. They also comment on race relations today compared to what they experienced when they were younger.

This interview is part of the Teaching American History Program.
For more information, see the [Edward H. Nabb Center Finding Aid](https://libapps.salisbury.edu/nabb-archives/finding-aid.php?id=1550).
Transcript Interviewers: Chris Grande; Matt Gresick; Christel Savage

Narrators: Maybelle Smiley; Ernestine Brown

Keywords/Phrases: Segregation, African American History, African American Education, San Domingo

MD Intro: Maybelle Smiley and Ernestine Brown are sisters and both grew up together in Columbia, Delaware. In this interview, they describe their experiences growing up in the early-mid 20th century and their experiences with segregation and the Civil Rights movement.

[Interview Begins]
Interviewer: Today is Wednesday, July 13th, 2005, and is the start of an interview at 25954 Quinton Road in San Domingo, MD. The interviewers are Chris Grande, Matt Gresick, and Christel Savage. This interview was done in conjunction with the Teaching American History project of the Wicomico County Board of Education. Okay, I think we’ll just go back and forth with our questions here. Ladies, when and where were you born?

Maybelle Smiley: In Columbia Delaware. I was born April 14th, 1927.

Ernestine Brown: I was born in Columbia Delaware, October 7th, 1930. Interviewer: Question #2: What were your earliest memories as children? *they look around as they think*

Ernestine: I can remember before I started going to school. Uh... my mother was a single parent because my father died when I was young around 4 years old. I had to stay with some of our relatives and that was hard for me.

Maybelle: I, too, my mother was a single parent because, as she said, our father died when we were very young; I was about eight. My grandfather lived with us and one of my mother’s sisters. My grandfather lived to be a bit above 90. I remember going to school—or did you want me to wait? Interviewer: Uh, we’ll get to that in a little bit. Could you describe your childhoods or some of the things that you did growing up?

Maybelle: Well, we lived in a rural area out on a farm. Naturally we did a lot of play. We had a brother and one cousin that grew up with us. Ernestine was the youngest and I was the oldest, so I was always the head and hold my own against the boys. I was small but I pretty strong.

Interviewer: Next question: What were race relations like at this time growing up in America?

Ernestine: Well, at the time we were growing up... we lived on a farm, as she said, and the farm that we lived on, it was children both girls and boys, and we had a good relationship with them but when it came to going to school, we had our own country school and they went to school in town. So, they rode a bus to get there.

Interviewer: What memories do you have about the area or what stories might you have heard from your parents or other relatives about the area of Columbia?

Maybelle: Well, it was a farming community. Then, I can remember there was the Coopers family. It was John Cooper and he had four or five sons and they all worked right there with the father. They had a saw mill where they went out cut the trees and carried them to the mill and sawed them into lumber. Then, he also had a tomato factory where they grew the tomatoes and the ladies skinned the tomatoes and they were canned. During the winter months—while it wasn’t too much work to be done around the farm to take care of the farm animals and chickens. The women, it wasn’t much work, just domestic. Some babysat and like that.

Interviewer: How many years of education have you completed?

Ernestine: I completed twelve years.

Maybelle: I’ve completed twelve, and completed additional courses since then.

Interviewer: What were some of your favorite subjects in school?

Maybelle: Well... I liked just about all of my subjects. Growing up, I was a good learner. They used to tease me, they said I read, which my grandfather always encouraged. He was elderly and there wasn’t many people of his age that had education enough to read and understand what they read. So, that was one of his main things, to always encourage us to read and he was a great storyteller. So, they said I was raised in the books and... I really enjoyed going to school and all of my subjects.

Interviewer: Can you describe the school that you attended?

Ernestine: Well, the school we attended was a two-room school and... we had no heat, only a coal stove, but we never had outside toilets, we only had inside. We didn’t have running water, and we had two teachers and recess was playing ball; dodgeball when it’s warm, baseball and like that but I don’t remember having no outside equipment or nothing like that.

Maybelle: And we could look forward to our superintendent visiting us and we had a music teacher who visited, art teachers. Then, the teachers reinforced what they taught when they came. But that was always a time that we looked forward to, knowing that our superintendent was going to visit, and we’d have a visit from our music teacher and her name was Mrs. Cappa. Our supervisor was Mr. Early, as far as I remember.

Interviewer: How did your community respond to the Brown vs. Board of Education decision of 1954?

Maybelle: Well... some of them—they thought, for a long time, that our schools should be equal. Whereas she said where we walked to school in this little two-room building with two teachers, you went in town there was a better school with better books. We wanted to be equals as far as our education was concerned.

Interviewer: Have you ever experienced or seen examples of racism on the Eastern Shore? If this is too personal, please feel free to not go into too much detail.

Maybelle: Oh sure. I can remember we went to the movies, you stood up in the balcony; you went in the drug store where they had the fountain and the counter, you stood off to the side and ordered what you would like to have and you took it and went out. You looked at the other patrons sitting and around the tables and the stools. Restaurants, you were served mostly from a window; you ordered and your order was brought out, but you weren’t allowed to go in and sit at tables or booths.

Interviewer: What kinds of jobs have you had throughout your lifetime?

Ernestine: I started working on the farm, then I moved on up to working at a chicken plant. Then, I went to a basket factory. After that, I worked at a nursing home as a dietary agent.

Maybelle: I did farm work and I did work at the poultry plant. Then, I went, when the schools were integrated, we went under a program, it was a federal program, and I was hired as an instructional aide at the Delmar Elementary school, which was in Maryland. I worked there and when the program ended, I was hired by the county. So, I worked in Wicomico county for about 18 years as an instructional aide and library aide. After I left that, I decided I would go back to school and take on something else. So, I went to Del-tech and took up a nursing course, and I did helpful nursing from the state of Delaware for Sussex county and I worked part-time in a nursing home.

Interviewer: Do you feel that there was any discrimination in these jobs that you’ve had? Whether it be in the past or more currently.

Maybelle: Oh yeah, in the past. We had—at a certain point, we had certain jobs that we were allowed to do was never too much in the supervised. One thing I can always remember was when we lived on the farm and I was in high school and the farmer's daughter—she and I were the same age by a couple of months, something like that—she stopped school; she didn’t go to the 12th grade, she stopped in the 10th grade. She went to Salisbury and got a job working in the five-and-ten cents store and even after I finished high school, I couldn’t get that job. You notice things like that. Interviewer: Can you name one of the hardest choices that you’ve had to make and in this choice, do you feel you made the right choice? *both pause for a few seconds*

Maybelle: One choice I made was when I left the Wicomico Board of Education. My health, I wasn’t too well and I had one problem in my family. I felt like I was unable to do my job as I would like to have done and I made the choice to resign. At that time, I thought I had made a bad choice but later on, you know the things that—problems worked out and I went on and took further training. So, I was satisfied with my decision.

Interviewer: Back to your younger days, what sort of activities did you do to, I guess, pass the time? What did you do for fun growing up?

Ernestine: When we were growing up, we—as we said, we were growing up on a farm and our entertainment was popping popcorn, making candy and things like that, you know; making cakes and pies and all that. Then later on, there was nothing else to do but go to the ball games because then the neighborhood communities had ball clubs and they would go to different towns and play ball. We would go in town to Salisbury for a weekend and that was about all. Listen to the radio.

Interviewer: Would you say race relations are better or worse today than in previous years?

Ernestine: To me... I don’t think they’re better but they’re not worse because now, we have to... well, you should always do your best, but we have to do our best to get where we want to get to or we might have to have to wait a while and prove to people that we are what we say we are. I hope you understand what I meant. Interview: What has been your opinion of today’s interview? Maybelle: I’d say it’s been good. It made me go back and think back to, you know, past things that have happened. *pause* … and speaking to you about things that have happened, I feel that things are better, in some ways, today. Now, what you are doing today, probably no one would ever have thought about doing 25 or 30, or even 10 years ago, to come in and interview and find out our true feelings about what has happened in our lives. Things that people took for granted, such things happened and that just happened.

Interviewer: Very true, very true. Okay, one final question: Could both of you ladies please state your full name and where you currently live.

Ernestine: My name is Ernestine Brown; I live in Seaford Delaware.

Maybelle: My name is Maybelle Smiley and I currently live with my sister in Seaford. There was one thing I failed to bring up-- I don’t think it was really mentioned about, like, in our growing up: we never mentioned religion and our church. In our little community, the church still stands that was attended when my grandfather first came to Delaware from Maryland, and we did have a deep religious background. That was some of the things that took care of our activities was Church services and the programs and the things that were done there.

Interviewer: Okay. Well, thank you ladies very much, that was excellent. I appreciate all your time and efforts and what you had to share today-- *video cuts*

Interviewer: One final question, ladies, if you would describe your connection to this town of San Domingo, please?

Maybelle: Yes. Our father was born and raised in San Domingo. I can go back as far as my great grandmother, which was Sally [Sye], and my grandmother was Elizabeth Brown, and my father was Andrew Sye; he had brothers and sisters that were raised here, born and raised here.

Interviewer: Now, your grandfather, was he born here? Did he move here?

Maybelle: As far back as I can remember, I don’t know when he moved here. He would have been my step-great-grandfather. That’s where the title “Sye”-- our family name of Sye.

Other interviewer: Can I ask a question? Did you get to visit from where you lived to San Domingo?

Maybelle: Oh yes. I visited-- I used to come down to San Domingo. In the summer, I used to spend so much time with my great grandmother and at that time, our grandmother had been living with them; she had been sick but later on, she moved on back to Philidelphia. I always visited down here-- I knew my relatives around here, we had a lot of places down here. Newell was in my family but Newell’s grandmother and my mother were sisters, so that’s the connection there. So, Delaware and Maryland was-- *gestures back and forth with hands*.

Interviewer: Thank you once again. It’s been our pleasure. *video cuts again*

Maybelle: We had to live on-campus or you went to Wilmington and live in the city.

Interviewer: They’d bus you all the way from...?

Maybelle: No, we didn’t bus to Dover, we had to go there and live on-campus. We lived on-campus.

Ernestine: we had to pay our laundry bill. It was a dollar and a quarter a month! *chuckles* *Maybelle chats with another interviewer off-camera*

Other interviewer: Date of birth?

Maybelle: My father’s? Oh... I don’t know, I’d have to count. I’d have to count way back.

Ernestine: I don’t know that neither.

Maybelle: Okay, I can—my mother... *audio and video ends*
Duration 21:46
Recording Date Jul 13, 2005
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Record #41

Type Audio
Title Interview with Elaine Ross, 13 July 2005
Description This interview was conducted by Matt Gresick and Christel Savage with Elaine Ross. In this interv…
Duration 28:21

All Fields in This Record

Type Audio
Title Interview with Elaine Ross, 13 July 2005
Description This interview was conducted by Matt Gresick and Christel Savage with Elaine Ross. In this interview, Elaine Ross describes her upbringing in San Domingo, MD, and her experiences with racial tension and race relations on the Eastern Shore in the early 20th Century. She describes how different races were educated at the time and the impact of Brown v. Board of Education, and other aspects of segregation that were felt. She also speaks of how those relations compare today.

This interview is part of the Teaching American History Program.
For more information, see the [Edward H. Nabb Center Finding Aid](https://libapps.salisbury.edu/nabb-archives/finding-aid.php?id=1550).
Transcript Transcription of Interview with Elaine Ross
Interviewer: Matt Gresick, Chris Grondy(?) and Christel Savage
Interviewee: Elaine Ross
Date: July 13th, 2005
Short Summary: This interview was conducted by Matt Gresick and Christel Savage with Elaine Ross. In this interview, Elaine Ross describes her upbringing in San Domingo, MD, and her experiences with racial tension and race relations on the Eastern Shore in the early 20th Century. She describes how different races were educated at the time and the impact of Brown v. Board of Education, and other aspects of segregation that were felt. She also speaks of how those relations compare today.
Transcription Notes: (?) following a name indicates phonetic spelling, (?) following a word indicates uncertainty, (inaudible) indicates that the word was not understandable. Clarifications, corrections, notes, and gestures are in brackets.
[Begin Transcription]
Interviewer (INT): Wednesday, July 13, 2005, this is the start of an interview with Elaine Ross at [reads Elaine Ross’s address], San Domingo, Maryland. The interviewers are Chris Grondy(?), Matt Gresick and Christel Savage. This interview is done in connection with Teaching American History Project. Well, first question: when and where were you born?
Elaine Ross (ER): San Domingo, Sharptown, Maryland but later on we named it San Domingo. It was an extension from the white folks and they had, well, when black folks weren't living there. So, we decided to name our little area San Domingo after it was founded by my great-great grandfather, [James] Brown.
INT: And when were you born ma'am?
ER: October 17, 1931.
INT: Thank you. What was your earliest memory as a child?
ER: Earliest what?
INT: Earliest memory as a child.
ER: Getting a beating [both laugh] well, I just remembered every little thing because it was only in our family, it was more like everybody did something together. Your parents had you pray together, they had you to eat together. When maybe as a small child, my grandmother, I used to visit her and she taught me how to cook and my grandfather lived on a farm and we went out and took care of everything. He had every animal that was on the farm and we had to do that: feed the pigeons, and eat the pigeons, and feed the pigs, then we ate pigs, and we had cows and ate cows and we didn't have any vehicles to ride in but the horse and buggy. We rode in the wagon during the week, and on Sunday we rode in the derby. And that was what I remember, even from a small age, before I even went to school.
INT: That kind of leads to my next question. What was your childhood like, growing up?
ER: Well, people today would think it would be boring, but I enjoyed it because I didn't get to go nowhere and just as I said, everything we did was, it was church and school and home. And like, on Saturday nights, people going to Salisbury and places like that, we didn't have the opportunity to go because we'd have to go on a bus and it was eighteen miles from Salisbury and my grandparents and mother did not allow me—and father—did not allow me go in town. You know, some of them did, and we would always have donuts, something special on Saturday nights, and sit in the corner and drink lemonade and I don't drink iced tea, but they'd make iced tea, pop popcorn, and then we'd listen to the show. We didn't have nothing but a radio, then we had a Victrola and it had this big record, you know, and then it would get half-way through and you have to wind it up. Then we'd have to take our finger and keep it going so we could hear the music. So, that was our entertainment so that was all we knew. So, but nothing else we could do. In church, go to church, stay all day Sunday, lay on the benches, children go to sleep then walk back home with my grandfather. He wouldn't go Sunday night, so Mom and I had to walk back home, open the door to the rest of the family.
INT: What were race relations like at that time in America?
ER: Race?
INT: Race relations between black and white?
ER: Well, it wasn't too bad with us, but I could see it in a lot of places right in San Domingo, because it was a couple of families wanting to build a house down in this area, Sharptown, and there was a kick up about that. But see, my grandmother always worked for white people. The children would come, there’s a man that owned the filling station down in Sharptown. His name was Herb and Mary Wright(?) And they had two children and they—the children—were same age of me and my uncle and they spent the week with my grandmother and the girl and I slept together. Her name was Mary Jane, and the boy's name was George and he slept with my uncle and we just knew no hardly no difference and where they didn't bother with a lot of black people down in that area, they had to bother with my grandmother because she washed the clothes and she'd cook for them and they come got them on Friday nights and brought them back Sunday. So, they knew nothing but us in that way and we knew nothing. So, they weren't mean to my grandparents, because they had worked for—my grandfather worked for a white lady. She was always good to him, giving, like, give Pop a bag of flour, or some beans or something like that, I'm sure, for a day's work. And very little money was there, but we were happy and today people would think we were poor but I didn't call our-self poor because we got a lot. I mean, we ate chicken—I don't eat chicken today—but we ate chicken about every day, especially on Sundays and killed a cow, killed a pig or whatever, and we didn't know nothing about going to no store to get no steak or nothing, my grandfather raised the vegetables, so we would just have it. Sweet potatoes, white potatoes, everything that we needed, we had, and we had plenty of it. So, I mean, well, we couldn't really say we was poor. We had no money in our pockets, but I mean, you pick a few strawberries like Fourth of July, or blackberries, could have a little picnic out at school, maybe we'd make a dollar. They give us a quarter or $0.50 of it and go out there and get some homemade ice cream. So, that was all we knew.
INT: What memories do you have about the area or stories that you heard from your parents about the area, like stories that your mom or dad would tell you?
ER: Well, I tell you what, my great-grandfather and great-great grandmother were slaves and I did—and maybe I shouldn't say it, but I am going to say it—but I do remember that I always heard a story about my grandfather and my great-grandfather, my great-grandmother. She had ten children and she was a real dark black lady and all these children are white. And they said that it was—that my great-grandfather was living there and it wasn't his children but I mean, what could she do? He couldn't do nothing. She couldn't do nothing, either because we always said that even when they were growing up—they're all dead now—but I remember talking about that and I remember how mean they used to be to some of them. Like I said, and they weren't mean to my grandmother and grandfather. But like I said, they beat them and I can remember that they said that one time one of the men got killed, the farmers, and said that they gave one of my cousin's life and they said they were about to kill the other one but then the sons came forward and said that they killed their father, see. So, they let the one out of jail and I don't know what happened to the other one. But I knew that's how mean they were to that side of the family. But it wasn't where the parents that I stayed with, the grandparents and parents that I stayed with, but it was on the other side, on my father's side. But out of all of them, and most that they did, most of the children I talked to, they always said that their mother went out in Sharptown and worked and they sent them home, some scratched, something (inaudible), something they didn't need, you know. I did carry one woman on one day when I got bigger and she was asking the lady, "Can I have the chicken off that bone?" you know. But we were integrated then but it was, I guess, something she had been used to, you know, just asking the white people for leftovers and what not. I mean, it seems sad to think about it because, like, it bothers me now that even like when the story Roots came on, a lot of our children got upset about it. But see, I was almost in that situation when I was growing up, but I had no reason to get upset because I wasn't mistreated. But I could see their point, you know, not liking it happen to our grandparents or parents like that. I guess I was just a little different because I don't get upset about anything now, anyway. You're not going to mistreat me, honey. You know, just forget it. Pray about it and keep on going.
INT: We read about San Domingo [school], that it only went to a certain grade level.
ER: Mm-hm.
INT: Um, we wondered how many years of education have you completed in your life?
ER: I went to college.
INT: Okay.
ER: I did—well, I guess I did complete. My last college was Towson, and I went to Salisbury State, but I graduated from high school. It was at that time it was 11th grade, didn't have the 12th grade. Our class was the last one, 1948, was the last one for 11th grade, and then I got a job at a Teen Adult Center and my education had to go farther so I was sent to Towson and sent to Salisbury State to pick up the rest of my education. I mean, we graduated, it was graduated from Old Salisbury Colored High School, that's what it was called. So, but we were the last year and we went up to sixth grade at this school right here, we had a four room school and we always looked at it like we were blessed because most of the schools that we ride around and look at now, they were always on the one floor, you know and we had two floors, you thought you was something with a second floor. And we had three classrooms and the other room upstairs was like an assembly room on Fridays, we'd always have assembly and we had a big closet up there, and we had a little stage where we could go put on our little Sunday clothes, same thing we wear every day if it was Sunday, and just clean them up for Sunday. Go and polish your shoes on Saturday night, then wear the same thing on Sunday. And I remember my grandmother and them the day when they started buying feed, they had these colored feed bags. They had the white ones at first. They made our undergarmets there and then they go on, they got these colored feed bags. Flowers and stripes, everything, and mom made us dresses out of them, we thought we was uptown because we had a new dress.
INT: How did your community respond to the Brown versus Board decision in 1954?
ER: Excuse me?
INT: The Brown versus Board decision in 1954 when the Supreme Court started to integrate schools, or decided that integration—
ER: Well, some of them didn't like it because first place, they didn't want [pauses] the whites in Sharptown and Mardela did not want to come here. They really didn't want us to go to Sharptown. So that's why they built the Marks(?) School in Mardela. So, it would be a different place for everybody on the highway, because they didn't want to come in our community, because they thought our community was dirt. Oh, but that's the way I looked at it, talked about it, that they thought we weren't as good as they were. And then they didn't want us down in their area, so then we got together. But it was a few of them that were supportive—a few of the teachers, and the ones that was coming up after me that understood, and then some of them just said they didn't want that want their children to go. It was a good while before they really accepted it, because really, I still don't think that we have integrated like we should be and I'm sure, you know, you don't feel the same way, you know, feel same way. I mean we're integrated but when you work in a place of business and got 25 white people and 1 black, that’s not integration. I don't why they call it that. But anyway, that's the way I personally feel about it. But I've always had, able to have what I wanted to, even when I got grown up and my children got what they wanted. Oh, what else, looking forward, well, it always worked anyway, so. But anyway, I've seen other people that have to be very poor and then the ones that were very poor, I think they really didn't understand it, too. A lot of them are without education, you know, because our older parents didn't have no education. You know, because I used to read to my grandfather when I got a little bigger, I know I was probably reading anything to him but I was reading. That’s what happen—I guess they finally accepted it, had been accepted altogether. But I know when we first started, like some teachers now are friends of mine, I think around ages of sixty something like that, I used to say "Colored" because I was always taught "Colored" and they'd tell me, "Don't say colored, say black, we are black, we are going to be black," you know, so, and I had never been taught to say black, black was a bad word for us to say, just like it was to call a white person a cracker. See, that was a bad word for us, you know, that's what our grandparents taught us. But then, the next generation, they changed a little bit. It's like in my brother's generation, my brother’s 17 years younger than me, I was graduating from high school before he was born. So, his thinking is much different than mine. But, because I see he never had an outdoor toilet. When he went to school, he had indoor toilets. We had pump water, down in my ga—I remember when my grandmother got electric lights, 1948, when I was graduating from high school and I didn't know nothing but doing my lessons by lamplight. The chimney would be all smoked up and I had to go get a newspaper and clean my chimney and then go back. My brothers just come in house later on in years, he said, "Mom, you need a new bulb in there," I said, "You should have come along with me," that's what I'd tell him, I said, "Don't even know nothing about, you know, being without lights," you know, and all these things we didn't have.
INT: Do you think the media of the Eastern Shore was for integration, or against it?
ER: I think it was more against it than for it, me personally.
INT: Do you know certain examples?
ER: No, not really. I could just see it, but I never got involved in it.
INT: Have you ever experienced or seen examples of racism on the Eastern Shore? And if this is too personal, please feel free not to go into too much detail.
ER: Doesn't bother me, but not with me, but I've seen a lot with our children. And I worked with the handicapped, mentally retarded, for 21 years. And I even saw that in mental retardation because I've got one, a relative, that I look after, and even up until about ten years ago, there was such a thing that white people were getting, regardless of how much money they got, you know, they had more money than our families did, where they were getting an extra check for retardation. But then before I retired, it was such a thing that all retarded had to get this check, you know. I saw this and then I saw our children be mistreated too. Like going someplace, and you see white teachers grab over on the white children's hand, little black children, no. So, I—the ones if I go on school trip, I just take any of them, but I could see all these little things while I was working in the school system, and I've always been active in the community and going in Salisbury, places like that, I could see. If they need to get involved, I get involved, because we had an incident and within the NAACP. A white guy came through and grabbed one of our black girls and carried her off and that was a disgrace to our community. But, you know, we fought up for it. He didn't do any—I don't think he did anything to her, but he did carry her off and it was almost like he felt like it was all right for him to do it, you know? But we just went to the NAACP and they came in and took care of that situation. But I've seen situations where they want to bring in NAACP but I keep telling them, I said if you don't support it and you don't support your community, you know, like—most of the time it's people that don't support it and don't want to do anything for anybody that wants to stir up a scene and, like from my church situation and school situation, I don't take part in it. But if I know that you around, I'll go with you all the way.
INT: What kinds of jobs have you had throughout your life?
ER: Eight. Um, I worked in Maryland Plastic. That's a plastic factory, and when I had my first son, I couldn't go back to work for six months, I had complications. And I went to Perdue's and worked there two weeks, and the slowest job that was on there, I couldn't keep up with it. But I didn't have to do work, like I was saying about, busses, because through our community and care, children out in the fields, the white man and whatnot, but my grandfather always had his own farm and he never allowed us to go work out. We worked in the field, but not for somebody else. I'd get everything, it was on the farm: strip lace(?), big tomatoes, cucumbers and all that but I did it at home and I worked at (inaudible), I took a nursing course and I took down work for Mr. Gaskell(?) until he died, and I did a lot of property(?) sitting, I worked in this store down here. One time I was doing three jobs, until income tax people got me [laughs] and then I always worked in the school system, or taking care of people. So, when I left here, retired and remarried, and went to Bridgeville, I retired from Teen Adult Center and which is now Dove Point, and I still help out with Dove Point and I lived in a group home in Dove Point, for Dove Point and for Teen Adult Center and when I left here and I said I was going to stay retired, but I stayed one month and then I went to Milford and started working for Kent-Sussex Industries and, you know where it's at? That's a school for handicapped. And I retired again five years later, so now I'm doing volunteer work at the hospital and I'm doing volunteer work at school. And right now I'm volunteering at the Boys and Girls Club in Laurel, at 7:00 to 3:00 and I still enjoy it, and I go to school every day—I don't work on Friday, so volunteer four days a week and I volunteer at Nanticoke Hospital. Just my kind of work I've always done.
INT: Do you feel that there was any kind of discrimination in those fields?
ER: I never felt like it, not with me. I guess maybe, I guess it’s the way you carry yourself, because some people can almost pick an argument when it doesn't even have to be, you know. I believe that they didn't want to treat me like—as long as you treat me right, okay. I'm not a little(?) yes, ma'am or no ma'am, and that's Aunt Sally's child(?) or you know, whatever. I'll stand up for my rights, but I don't go out of my way to look for trouble. I always try to make a person right. First thing they say, "Well you always try to find the best!" Well that's what I look for, the best in somebody.
INT: What were the hardest choices that you had ever had to make? And do you feel like you made the right choices?
ER: The hard choices I had was getting married [both laugh]. Twice! As far as working and things like that I think that I really didn't have to make no choices, but I just, I just had two bad marriages, and it doesn't bother me now. I can live with it or I can die with it, don't make no difference. Just some people wanting to cause a whole lot of problems, so I just walked out of it. And if I wasn't so old, I'd walk out of this one but I learned a few things, and I've adopted a boy and I found out that he needs me and I need him, I took him when he was four days old, his mother left him in the hospital, in Salisbury Hospital. And I had just got married in May and I asked my husband, I said, "You want to adopt a baby?" Because my girlfriend was telling me about it, it was her grandson—I didn't know the mother—but anyway, so I said, "Well, don't, don't, don't give it away." But she gave to welfare and welfare kept him for a month. You know, I was under surveillance for a month, but I had to clear up, and then I brought him home and he just feels like mine because my children are now—my oldest boy is 48 years old. My baby's 47, and he just fits right in the family and I wouldn’t give him up for nothing in the world. That was my thing.
INT: How would you describe yourself politically?
ER: I mean [pauses] I don’t know, I'm just [pauses] I’m just an easy going person, I guess and I did, I just—right now, and maybe it doesn't suit you—but I just love the Lord and he's first in my life and I just see things that, that I could pass by knowing that he's going to help me. And I've been in some tough situations as far as marriage but I know that in the end that, like I might, in dealing with people, I just love people. A lot of people say “I don't like new members” and “I don’t like (inaudible)” but I just love people, and just like Newell(?) was asking me a while ago, was I afraid? No! Because, I mean, I've asked the Lord to direct me in whatever I do, and I just feel comfortable when dealing with anybody, so, those are my thoughts.
INT: What sorts of activities did you engage in as a young person?
ER: We had nothing to do, as a young person. When I got older, I bowl and I'm working in a program right now and it's called—I don't know whether you’re aware of it because I don't think it's in Maryland, but it's in Dallas, it’s called FAST, F-A-S-T, Children and Family First it’s teaching parents how to deal with their children, and children how to deal with their parents. It's a program one night a week during school time. And we eat, and the children have to serve their parents, and have to socialize with their parents and I have a time—Well, it’s five of us staying—we talk to the parents and tell them what the children need, what the children tell us. Like one little girl—we were going to have graduation and we were going to ask them to tell what they liked and what they didn't like—and one little girl, a little white girl, and she's very poor, and she wrote that she was tired of being poor. So see, we couldn't read it out in front of everybody at graduation. So, we just had them give it to their parents privately, you know, and I find out that helping somebody else is a big help to me, you know, because I don't have that many grandchildren. I think I've got three grandchildren but they're all doing well. I've got a granddaughter that's in Maryland State Police in Baltimore and my sons and grandsons are doing okay but, I just want to help somebody else's child. You know, I just classify myself as being blessed.
INT: Is today's race relations better or worse than previous years?
ER: Better.
INT: In what ways?
ER: Well, all ways that I could see. Because, you know, I find white people or whatever, I mean, they're all nice to me. I'm not saying if you put yourself in a position to be nice to people, but you know, you can come up here and be nasty to me, I don't have nothing to say to you, you know, I just go on my way. But in my family, I don't have any problems with my family, people being nasty to my family, when we're together. And people that I know, a lot of people call me up for advice and I just give them the best advice I know. So, I just tell them, you know, you don't have that long to live to be worried about other people and you know, if you got your problems, if you've been like that all your life, if you've been precious your life, you don't need me trying change you today, right? So that's the way I feel about people, you know. I just, just love people who get along with others, I don't know. I just, I can see the difference in a lot of people. I teach bible class tonight, and we've got about, I guess, about 40 people that come out to my class and it's just like a big family, you know? And like I say, if I have a problem, I'd be glad to pray about my problems if I'm in bible study, where some people you can't tell nothing what goes on in their life, and they come to the Bible class, young and old. Our oldest one is 83 years old, he said he just enjoys to hear the young folks talk about their problems and whatever goes on, and we have problems every week, we leave it there. You know, that's the good thing about it. You’re going to be my comforter and going to go out and tell everybody what I say, it don't mean much to me. And I come down here like three times a week from Ridgeville to work with my church work and I just feel like that—I just feel like things have changed so much that if I die today, tomorrow, I just feel like heaven is mine [laughs].
INT: Well, what has been your opinion of this interview?
ER: I’m enjoying myself because I just like to talk about myself! [both laugh] Talk about the good and the bad and, no need to change because of you all, you know, but I like to tell it like it is. But I never had no racial problems, I guess that's my big thing and I guess it's mostly because my grandparents took care of these other—because I didn't use to stay with my grandparents, when I'd be at home with kids, you know, (inaudible) a nights doing things, and (inaudible) do all this extra stuff, you know. But I enjoyed the interview, enjoyed talking with you, and enjoyed talking about myself because as I said before, I just think I'm blessed. I didn't have decent—well, my grandmother used to always tell me, regardless of what you have, if you got a rag, she said, make sure they're clean. She'd always see that we had clothes, clean clothes. Don't care whether it's homemade or whatnot, and I call myself blessed because I see little children now, they—I just like to dress them up and love them, that grew up with me, I knew their parents were poor but I know I was poor too but I was less poor.
INT: I just start to conclude, please restate your full name and where you currently live.
ER: My name is Elaine Roselee Brown Stanley Jackson Ross. I live in Bridgeville, Delaware. [states her street adress], Bridgeville, Delaware.
[Interviewer and assistants say thank you, recording ends]
Duration 28:21
Recording Date Jul 13, 2005
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Record #42

Type Audio
Title Interview with Josephine Anderson, 14 May 2005
Description This interview was conducted by Patric Diettrich with Josephine Anderson on 14 May 2005. In this …
Duration 43:59

All Fields in This Record

Type Audio
Title Interview with Josephine Anderson, 14 May 2005
Description This interview was conducted by Patric Diettrich with Josephine Anderson on 14 May 2005. In this interview Josephine Anderson describes her upbringing in Whaleyville MD and her career as an educator in Worcester and Wicomico counties. She describes her time at the Germantown School for African Americans including the students, average routines, and other anecdotes. She describes the changes she had seen through the years in the various schools she had taught, including desegregation and changes to curriculum.

This interview is part of the Teaching American History Program.
For more information, see the [Edward H. Nabb Center Finding Aid](https://libapps.salisbury.edu/nabb-archives/finding-aid.php?id=1550).
Transcript Interviewer: Patric Diettrich
Narrator: Josephine Anderson
Interviewer (INT): An interview with Ms. Josephine Anderson. Ms. Anderson, could you tell us a little bit about your educational background?
Josephine Anderson (JA): Well, I attended elementary school here in Whaleyville, you know, just seventh grade because it was seven grades in Maryland then and then I went to Flower Street, and that was two years there, and when I went to school at Morris Street, Joseph Purnell, whom you just interviewed, was in my class. He was the salutatorian and I was the valedictorian of the class and there were 14 people in my class. I did have the program, if I had known you were going to ask me, I'd have a commencement program right in hand for you. But we had a good time there, it was—we had just one teacher then.
INT: Mm-Hmm.
JA: That was Jerry Williams, was the teacher and the principal of this whole situation, and the eighth and ninth grade were all in the same room.
INT: And then from—?
JA: From there, I went to Wicomico county after I graduated from Worcester County because they didn't have bus transportation to the high school in Snow Hill. You had to stay in Snow Hill if you went there, I mean, if you went to school. So, while my parents working in Salisbury, all of their children went to Salisbury and went to school. We had to pay to cross the line to go to school. Of the first year, it was like $50 per person per year. Then after that, I think they reduced it to maybe around $15. So, I finished Salisbury High School from Salisbury High School, went to Bowie, at that time it was Bowie Normal, and three years there, and then graduation, and I taught one year in Worcester County in Stockton area. School was called St. Paul, and they closed the school that year. It was a one-room school, so you had grades 1 through 7, and after that they wanted to start a four-year class at Bowie, and so they contacted different ones who had good standing and I was one of them and it was 14 of us that went back and started the four-year class, with a degree. So, we were the first group that wore caps and gowns from Bowie's, within Bowie State University, and that was in 1941.
INT: In '41. And that, was it in '41 that you started at the Germantown School?
JA: No, I started at Germantown School in 1940—the school year of '47 in Worcester County.
INT: And what did you teach that school? What was it like teaching in that school?
JA: At Germantown? Oh, at Germantown School? It was interesting. It was this two-room school. I went there as the principal, but I had the first, second and third grade because it was a lady, Misses [pauses briefly] Reed, Mrs. Reed was there, and she was teacher for fifth and sixth grade, so they let her teach, stay in that room and teach that, that year. But then at the end of that year they retired her, and I moved over in that room and I had the fourth, fifth, and sixth grade until the school year of '53. At the end of the school year '53, they closed the school. It was no more Germantown school.
INT: Why did they close it?
JA: Well they closed and used the two rooms there as a supplement to the Flower Street Elementary School. But they needed space, and I guess because of the number of kids that were going out. Oh, I had a letter once and I looked and I looked and I looked, says that they closed the Germantown School, tried to find that letter because I don't know what it said in that letter, why they were closing, or what. I cannot remember.
INT: It didn't have anything to do with the Brown decision, because I know a lot of the Rosenwald schools closed—
JA: No, not to my knowledge. All I can assume is that they closed it because they wanted to consolidate and make that one school, Flower Street, be the main school in the area because it wasn't that many kids there then. They had, right, either moved out or whatever.
INT: What—Can you tell me something about the curriculum, what it was like in the school at the time?
JA: Well, I'm still puzzled as to how we were able to do what we did, did it not? Was talking about this just last week to some people. Like, for instance, I had three grades. You taught all the subjects: math, science, reading, spelling, English, history, geography, phys. ed., music, to each grade every day, to all three of the grades, and how did we get that in, during a period of a day? That's been puzzling me and I talked to several people who worked on those years, and I say, "How did we manage?" But we did. You had three grades, and you taught each grade all the subjects each day, and then and then when I was at a one room school, I had seven grades and I taught each grade all the subjects every day. How you manage to do it, I do not know. They couldn't do it today. And, of course, the children in the classroom, it helped them a lot because it might be if you're in the fourth grade and I'm teaching fifth and sixth grade, you learned a lot from them. So, by the time, you know, that you got to that grade, you were really good, if you had that ability, you know. So, it was—it's interesting when you look back, at that time you didn't think about it. The only thing that they really did together was recess, because in those days, you had recess twice a day in the mornings and in an afternoon. So, they had recess together, they had music together, but all their other subjects were separate. Fourth-grade math was fourth-grade math, fifth-grade math, sixth-grade math. I don't know how we did it, but we did.
INT: Now, as principal of the school, you were kind of in charge of maintenance and making sure of everything. What was that like in that time period?
JA: During that time, as the principal of a two-room school, if you could not find someone in the community to be the janitor and then if you didn't have children that volunteer to help, you did it yourself. I swept that floor many a time, fixed it far(?) When you didn't have anyone.
INT: What kind of heat did you use?
JA: Wood, coal. Started out with wood, and then they had coal. They had a little building in the back, they had the coal in it and we sent the children to get a bucket of coal and put on the stoves sat in the middle of the floor, in the center of the room. And of course, the whole room was cold, except right around the stove. I mean, you were teaching, basically, you know, you had to tell them to pull the seats up near where the heat was. Now that was hard, because it—one thing, it was hard on you because this heat made you sleepy and everything else. Right. So, I don't know, but we manage and the children then were well-behaved because the parents were behind you. If you punished a child at school, he got punished when he went home, and I can never remember having to send anybody home from school like they do today, or having a parent to come in during the day because of the behavior. Sent a note home, if someone you know, and to me a lot of things with children you ignore, you hear and don't hear some things, you know. Unless it's real bad, unless they're fighting and disrupting the whole class, because I experienced that when I was in the middle school. The children, I noticed a lot of the teachers were always—they would stop the whole class and be fussing with this person. For me, I didn't have any problems at the middle school. If you cut up after my class was gone and they were doing whatever they had to do, then I would deal with, talk with you and if I had to send you out, then I would say after everybody else was too busy doing their work. I didn't stop my whole class to do it unless it was something, you know, you would if it was something real, real serious. But, and that's one of the mistakes I think, that the teachers even today make. They disrupt the whole class, the whole class of 15 or 20, whatever, suffers by you, you know, getting on this particular child when you could get your class going—unless it was, you know, you have to kind of decide which is most serious. So, I didn't have any problems there either with discipline.
INT: What about the supplies for the school?
JA: I bought many of them out of my pocket. Most of them, all of them, really. You had to buy pencils, paper, construction paper, anything that you use, glue, if you anything—if you use crayons, you bought it for yourself, for the children. The school didn't furnish any of that.
INT: How about books?
JA: Well, they had books, by being in the black school your books were never new books, they were old secondhand books from the white school.
INT: How did your kids get to school?
JA: By bus, those that lived a long distance and those in Germantown, children would walk and then see my children came from Germantown and Sinepuxent. The Sinepuxent children rode the bus, the Germantown children walked to school.
INT: Can you give us an idea—what was salary like back in those days? What did you start out at?
JA: When I first started teaching in 1939, $65 at month, $2.20 or $2.80 was taken out before you got it for retirement, and when I was working in the government during the war they were paying like—I was a cleric—$1440 a year, and I came to Germantown and the first year they paid me, I think it's around 11-something, and then they realized, I guess, that I had a degree and they changed my salary. I think maybe I was getting around 12 or something like that, $1200.
INT: 1200.
JA: It wasn't much.
INT: Tell me something about your students, you know what student kind of stands out, good, bad? What were kids like?
JA: It was good. You never—I never had pets in class. All the children were the same to me. There were some who were mischievous, and you knew who they were, and so you know, you talked with them and got along with them. But the students on the whole were good students because they were eager to learn and they tried. During those days, children were anxious to do a lot of learning, and they've didn't have a lot of things to distract them like they have now. They have all those TVs and all that stuff too, you know. But they didn't have all that, and so they were busy doing whatever the teacher suggested for them to do, and they would do it. We didn't have any problems and they were good students. When I—when the children left me at Germantown and went down to Worcester, these are the remarks I used to hear from the high school people: "I know they were in Ms. Clark's room, because you can tell because they are ready," because outside of the books, and this is my thing with even today, they did not teach the basic. They're busy now teaching the tests and they're not teaching the kids. They cannot add, subtract, multiply. They can't read. They can't do any of that today. Am I right?
INT: Well, yeah some do, some don't.
JA: On a whole, on a whole because they're busy because each school, each county is competing against the other, teacher trying to be the Teacher of the Year and then the School of the Year, get a blue ribbon and all the things that they're doing now, basically, except with computers, in the school, during my 38 years that we did, but it was called something else. I listen and see things they're doing now. I say, we did that, but it was called this, it was called that. And if I—just a few weeks ago, I threw out a whole lot of material, and I said, if I had kept it you would see almost the same thing that they had then, now, repeat. And I worked in a lot of workshops in Worcester County, and Worcester County was always, to me, ahead of other counties. I used to tell teachers, especially new teachers, when they come to Worcester County, the school where I was working, I would say "if you can teach in Worcester County, you can teach anywhere in the world," because supervision was always very, very strict in Worcester County—you never knew when a supervisor was coming so every day you would get on your P's and Q's as a teacher and made sure that you had your plan, and your follow-up work, and your children were working, busy working, and they were on the whole and during those years. But I don't know what it's like now, but I know during the years when I was teaching, before the seventies, and then after the seventies when I went into the middle school, it was altogether a different situation. Oh, the kids were real good, the ones that I had. I didn't have any problems with them because I would pass the office and I'd see, for instance, John sitting there. I say, "John, you were just in my room, why are you sitting in office?" He said, "I was fighting" I said—he says "So and so and so and so." I said, "When you both were in my room," I said, "you didn't even pass a word," he said, "we know better." So, children know where they can cut up. So, I didn't have any problems with children when I was at the middle school or elementary school.
INT: What was the hardest thing you remember about the Germantown School teaching and working at the Germantown school? Or, going to school—you didn't go to Germantown?
JA: No, no, no. I went to (inaudible) school, elementary. Yeah, the hardest thing was that you had to be everything: the teacher, the nurse, the doctor, the custodian and everything. That was really the hardest thing, and when the weather was bad, you had to make sure that you had heat, so the children and you could stay warm and the children had to bring their own lunches. But we had fun, because on Fridays, just about every Friday, we would have—we would even make in the winter, would make soup or cook dry bean soup and I would make a taffy pulls. So, the children had a lot of fun, helping to—you know, you need to have committees just this week will be your time to do it, next week is yours—and we had a lot of fun doing that. But children brought their own lunches to school, except that one day on a week when we fixed soup and whatnot.
INT: What was the funniest thing that happened to you when you were teaching?
JA: Some of funny things that happened with children? There was one little boy I teased him all the time, every time I see him now, he said, does like this [gestures], "Go right on," That's Billy Powell(?). This little girl, well, in our class we did a lot of core reading, which is now the same thing as rap, because I tell kids all the time, we rapped during those years but we didn't call it that, we called it core speaking, and we made to the big old—what is the number—them big cans that you buy vegetables in, what'd they call them, number 2, it was big like this [holds hands apart to show size] and we'd get a piece of inner tube from a guitar, and put it on the top and the bottom and made tom-tom drums. And we would have—we had a, I remember we this little selection about beating on the tom-tom and they would beat these little tom-toms doing the speaking in this core reading, it was fun. And this little boy—we had outdoor toilets—and this little boy had gone out to the boy's toilet, this little girl went out to the girl's toilet. So, when she came back in, she was crying, "Mrs. Clark, Billy Powell(?) showed me his pom-poms," I said, "He did what?!" Just like Aunt Dora(?), I said he did wh—"He showed me (?), he showed me his tom-tom," I said, "Oh, you mean he had one of the drums outside." And every time I see him now he said [gestures] "Go right on, I know what you're getting ready to say," I tease him about it now, he's a grown man, has children of his own, but he gets a big kick out of it, and then we always laugh about it. That was one of the funniest things that I always will remember, Billy Powell(?). But those two children, both of them, Billy Powell(?) and the little girl, both have done well. I think she teaches and he works in the government. I don't know whether she's married or lot, but, we had a lot of little funny incidents like that, you know.
INT: What—was there a lot of fundraising to keep the school running and stuff like that?
JA: Was is it fun?
INT: Well, a lot of fundraising, you have to raise money and stuff like that.
JA: Oh! Well, not the school by itself, but with the PTA, the PTA, the parents. I had a good PTA and PTAs, at that time, were very strong, because their parents would come out when you had your PTA meeting and support whatever, and sometimes they would help you—give you a little donations from maybe their dues. You could buy some of the little supplies that you needed and especially when we did the little cooking, you could buy the stuff that you were going to cook with, maybe that particular month. So they were a lot of help and they were a lot of support because they stayed behind their kids, and during those years when I was in Germantown, the teachers had to go around and take the census, and do all of that and we had to visit the—each family that you had in your school, you had to visit them twice a year and write a report for the supervisor. But it was interesting. It was a lot of work but I guess because you got in the habit of doing it, you never thought of it as being that hard because it became, you know, just natural, you just went on, did whatever you had to do. You didn't complain, you just went on and did it. Once a year, we'd have field day. That was a day that was open and then all the kids, you know, that dedicated school, didn't have any classes and we had fun and they would play games all day long and their parents would come and set up hot dog stands and things like that.
INT: How many years did you teach now?
JA: 38.
INT: So, you started in the forties?
JA: My first year was not the school year, '39, I would say. The school was called St. Paul. That was below Stockton, between the Stockton and the Virginia line. It was a little one-room school, at the end of that school year, they closed it and then I went back to school, and got my degree, and then from there I went into government and in '46 I went to Mt. Westley, it's that public landing, there's a little school there called Mt. Westley, and there I had first, second, and third grade. I was there one year and at the end of that year they sent me, the next school term, which was October '47, I went to Germantown and I stayed there until the end of the school year of '53, and then I went over to Flower Street and stayed until they built the middle school.
INT: What was the biggest change you saw in education in the time that you were teaching?
JA: And now?
INT: Well, just from the beginning of your career to the end of your career.
JA: Well, when I first started teaching it was reading, and I will say reading, writing, arithmetic were the main things. And now, it's a conglomeration of everything and they end up with a majority of the kids with nothing. But that was then, you know, you really—they really stressed reading, writing, spelling, and arithmetic. That was very, very important. I don't care how slow the child was, at end of the year they could read. And another difference that I've noticed since, from the time that I started, up until the middle school, you were the nurse. I had kids—all these kids now they put in special ed. I had them in my classroom, and kids used to fall out. Children used to—couldn't control their bodies. Children would get sick. You had no way of carrying them home. They had to wait until the bus came, the parent didn't have a telephone and you didn't have a telephone, so you just made them comfortable. We survived. None of them died while you were doing it, you know, and then I had enough in my, so to speak, in my hospital. They survived it all. And same thing with you, if you got sick at school most teachers at that time didn't have a car. You couldn't go home, you had to stay there. I taught a minute then, and I should have been home in the bed, under doctor's care, I'm sure. But it was hard to get substitutes. I used to substitute. I substituted after my first year of teaching when the school closed before I went back—in between the time to go back to college to get that degree. I used to sub—they paid you 2 dollars and a half a day. I substituted in Washington and between the government—the government was always moving offices—and between if you were working in this particular office or this branch, you had to wait until they called you, you had to go back and take the test again. The civil exam. And I was substitute in the schools in the district. 2 dollars and a half a day. Now I wonder how in the world—because I didn't have a telephone—I'm wondering now, how they contacted me and told me they needed me that day. But I got the message some kind of way. And I also wonder how I got from different places—because I used to do my sub work when I was in this area in Wicomico County: Sharptown, Delmar and Allen. I don't know how I got the message, you know, now you in your mind you're wondering: How did I get that message that I was wanted? And did I get there in time? You know, you question yourself now. At that time, I guess you didn't. But I do now. I wonder how in the world did I make it there, when I got there? So, either way.
[Interviewers briefly discuss topics covered].
INT: You have something you'd like to tell us to give us some insight or a more understanding of what it was like teaching all those years or something that you find really—you'd want people to know about the time that you spent at Germantown, especially.
JA: It was interesting, it was good. In those days, I don't care how slow the child was, at the end of the school year, you were always—could pat yourself on the back because you had that child reading. That child was able to mingle with other children, play with them, talk with them whatnot, and could do basically most of the things that you asked them to do. I don't care how slow they were when they came to you. You really moved them on. The kids were anxious and they just put their whole heart in it and the parents were really behind them. See, the parents did a whole lot with their kids in those days.
INT: Seems to be the key, isn't it?
JA: Yeah, that was the key.
INT: Still is when you spend time and do a lot with your kids, I think.
JA: So, I enjoyed working in the school system when I was teaching those 38 years. I don't know any year that I hated it, I enjoyed it. And then since I retired, when I see different children now, like Barbara, and different ones, I get a big kick because we can communicate with each other now as adults. And one of the boys said one thing, “We couldn't say that when we were in her class. We couldn't talk to her like this. Here comes Miss Clark!"—some call me Miss Clark, some call me Miss Anderson—"Oh, here comes Miss Clark!" said, "I know she's got a joke for us" or "she's got something to tell us" you know, and they laugh. They said, "Now, we couldn't have said that when we were in your class or when you were teaching," and they get a big kick out of it. You know, I have pictures of the children that I kept when I left Germantown School, I had all these pictures up. Let's see them?
INT: Yes.
[Josephine Anderson gets up from her chair, chatting with interviewers. Footage/audio cuts, interview resumes 29:34]
INT: Miss Purnell, what are those? I'm sorry. Miss Anderson, what are those?
JA: Pearl earrings.
INT: And where'd you get them?
JA: The children at Germantown School. Did you hear that? We closed the school. They gave me these. Oh, they gave it—they all came to school with two or three cents or whatever it was. And one of the children, I guess, one of the parents must've went out and bought this and they brought it back to school and gave me these pearl earrings, because they knew I wore earrings.
[interviewers looking at photos and talking]
JA: Yep. Cause now my ears are pierced so I don't wear them, but I keep them. I have several things in the house. You know what kids gave me when they're at school. That eagle up there, a little girl—over that door—a little girl from when I was at middle school. As children ask me past weekend and where they come from, I cannot think of the little girl's name, I don't know if I would even know if I saw her, but she gave it to me one Christmas. She lived, you know, right on Main Street in Berlin, before you get to the railroad track, and she lived in a house along there, I can't even think of her name.
[Miss Anderson, the interviewers continue to look through photos, talking amongst themselves. Begin discussing Germantown School's layout at 31:53]
JA: Oh, my. This was my room, the first year I was here. That's where Miss Williams was, but then the next year I was up on this end.
Unidentified: And those windows on the back divided the classrooms, right?
JA: It was a little room between—the cloakroom. Was it a little stove or something in there?
Unidentified: I don't remember it because somebody—they, they keep telling me that there was a kitchen on the back. I don't remember a kitchen—
JA: That's what I'm talking about. See, like somebody told me that, but I can't remember it either. Because when we fixed the soup we did it right on the potbelly in the room. Well, someone else has told me that.
Unidentified: Yeah, but when Tina(?) And them going, I think they made soup. I think they said Pearl Miller(?) and them had soup back there. Maria White(?) made soup and that kitchen is where you got water and stuff, but I don't remember that.
JA: That the pump was outside down near the coal house. The pump and the toilet.
Unidentified: Right? Oh yeah, back there in that corner.
JA: Right, on this far end.
Unidentified: So that's it.
JA: It was fun, those days. I look back—I sit down sometimes and look at those pictures, look at the different children and see how many of them that I can recognize and how many of them that basically, you know, I see at times and those that are still living, and many of them have done very well.
[Josephine Anderson and interviewers continue looking through photos and reminiscing, interview continues at 00:36:38]
JA: I still have the, the little book that Alfred Darling(?) made and I saw him about 10 or 12 years ago and I said, "I'm going to give it to you" and I can't never think to look for it. I was cleaning out things the other day and it wasn't in that box of junk but I still had—it’s in another box somewhere, it must be upstairs because I don't go up steps anymore. So, it must be up there. Did this finger painting in there, we took shellac and then we made it a little book.
Unidentified: Oh, because I remember I used to do a shiny, baking soda sleek-like.
JA: They wouldn't do that down in art class, well that was our art.
Unidentified: And then when we had morning devotions.
JA: Oh, yeah, I forgot that we had morning devotions, every morning. You know, that was a lot of help. And when I was in the middle school, we didn't have devotion. But during the Black History Month, I would carry out music from black bands and things to school and when my kids would—and Paul Laurence Dunbar selections, and when my class would come in the first 3 or 4 minutes, I would either play the music or read something from Dunbar or tell them about somebody and then the kids were ready to work. And I remember one year, each class that came in and I would say to them, "Don’t tell the other class now, what we're doing." When they came in, I taught them how to do the twist. And I had—what's the name—Chubby Checker, I had his record and so when the class came in, I said, "Now everybody stand," we would stand, you know, and I played it and I showed them how to do the twist. I said, "Now when you leave, don't tell the other class," you know, they were bubbling over to get out the door to tell the class waiting to get in there. And I did that for like a whole week and I got around to all my classes. We had a lot of fun. I used to do the same thing over at Germantown.
Unidentified: Remember—I'm trying to think [if] it was Germantown or Flower Street, we used to, schools used to go to Pocomoke and be on the radio?
JA: Dawson Clark(?), he had a radio station. It was Germantown.
Unidentified: Oh, I used to go down there and I remember that in Flander's field, the poppies grow.
JA: I forgot all about [that] we did that.
Unidentified: Something, row on row. I was thinking about that one day, and I was trying to think what was—what was it, the occasion, what was it but it seemed like every so often you would go down and you would be on the radio with—
JA: For 15 minutes.
Unidentified: Yeah, and you'd have—you recite a poem or you sing or, you know, you do something to take up that, that length of time—
JA: I forgot all about that.
Unidentified: —and go down on the bus.
JA: That's true. And then another thing, when I was at Germantown, I started what we would call the patrol. Bus patrol. And I would tell the children, oh, every one of their first or second games that the Baltimore Orioles had, they had patrol day and I would take these children to Baltimore to the opening game. And they had a little patrol belts on, you know.
Unidentified: Right, right.
JA: I forgot that when I was talking—and then when I went to Flower Street, [I feel like I got over there?] and she pry let me do it with the kids over there. And then we got so—we had enough children, we'd take a busload of children, because I always think about Gary Oliver. I could've shook him to death. You know, we gave all these instructions, "You don't do this, you don't do that, and if you go to the restroom, you three go together, you three go together," so we got, and I had my list, and we got up in the stand, I look, I do not see Gary Oliver. With all these thousands and thousands of children at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore, and here was one of my children, but I wouldn't even tell the other kids, I said to Gatlin, "Lord, I don't see Gary Oliver," I said, "you're going to stay here," and I saw some people I knew from other counties that knew me. I said, "if you see a little boy" and I told them what kind of sign he had on, I said, "Please stop." I was inside, I was crying my heart out, because I just knew I lost that child. And I looked for an hour, so someone said to me, "Go back to the entrance and start all over." When I went back down to the entrance, in this line getting a hot dog was Gary Oliver. I could've shook him to death, oh! I was never so glad and so mad. I grabbed him, I said, "You forget about this hot dog." Oh, I was so mad with him. But he didn't leave anymore, he stayed right—the rest of the day—he stayed with me and when he wanted to go to the restroom or go get something to eat, he had to ask me. Yeah, but I tell you, oh! It was a terrible feeling and I looked around, and I didn't see that child.
Unidentified: One of your sheep were gone.
JA: And I told the guys that were with me, I said, "Don't even tell Spry(?)" and We didn't tell her until they closed the school.
Unidentified: Is that right?
JA: She said, "You all were really loyal to each other," and another day, I looked at the—I believe it was the same little boy—when I was, yeah, I was at Flower Street, and we were doing it. He would—he lived on Maple Avenue, and so, he would—because he walked to school, he would help to load the busses when they came up to pick up the children after school. So, this particular day he came up, he said, "Miss Clark, Miss Clark, there are termites all on this step." I said, "Where?" He said, "On the step as you come in the building," I said "Call home!" He looked at me, he said "What do you mean?" I said, "Call home!" He said, "We don't have a telephone." I said, "Home is the name of the exterminating company." [laughs] It's more fun getting kids with jokes. Yeah, I said to him, "You call home." I can't think of any other real funny things.
INT: No, those were funny!
JA: But I tell you, every once and a while, funny things come up, you know, and I just sit and laugh, just like it was just happening, you know?
Unidentified: And it's easy to do.
INT: Well, thank you very much. Let me turn this off and get my other camera. Get a couple of stills.

[Interview Ends]
Duration 43:59
Recording Date May 14, 2005
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Record #43

Type Audio
Title Interview with Ruby Waters, 18 March 2005
Description This interview was conducted by Richard Wilson and Donna Messick with Ruby Waters on March 18, 20…
Duration 43:25

All Fields in This Record

Type Audio
Title Interview with Ruby Waters, 18 March 2005
Description This interview was conducted by Richard Wilson and Donna Messick with Ruby Waters on March 18, 2005. In this interview, Ruby Waters describes her upbringing and life in Snow Hill MD in the early 20th Century. She describes recreation and education at that time, noting the various norms and requirements in her school and her time at UMES for high school. She also describes her time as an educator back in Snow Hill and later Germantown School, mentioning race relations at that time and her experiences with white and African American students.

This interview is part of the Teaching American History Program.
For more information, see the [Edward H. Nabb Center Finding Aid](https://libapps.salisbury.edu/nabb-archives/finding-aid.php?id=1550).
Transcript **Interviewers:** Richard Wilson, Donna Messick
**Narrator:** Ruby Waters
**Date:** March 18, 2005
**Keywords:** Germantown, Worcester, One-room schools

[Interviewers chat as camera and audio is set up, interview begins at 00:39]
**Richard Wilson (Wilson):** Okay. Today is Friday, March the 18th, 2005, and this is the start of an interview with Miss Ruby Waters at her home on Covington Street in Snow Hill, Maryland. My name is Richard Wilson, and I will be the interviewer. This interview is done in connection with the Teaching American History Project of Wicomico County Board of Education. Ms. Waters, would you tell me you—
**Waters:** Just about one minute, he said Wicomico?
**Wilson:** Yes.
**Waters:** Why not Worcester?
**Wilson:** Because the money that the government gave for this project went to Wicomico County. Now I'm putting in for a grant next year that will go for Worcester and Somerset. But there have been a lot of people who have heard about our project, and they wanted to volunteer to be part of the oral history project, even though they're not in Wicomico County, and that's why we're here today.
**Waters:** Okay.
**Wilson:** You told me your full name. Can you tell me how you got your name?
**Waters:** [Laughs] How I got it?
**Wilson:** Right. I know that my father named me Richard because he saw that name in a movie somewhere. Is there something—
**Waters:** No, just, not that I know. My parents never told me. Oh, I guess because a stone, a ruby stone. It's very precious and rare, and I guess they named me for that stone. [laughs]
**Wilson:** Okay, that sounds good. Where and when were you born?
**Waters:** I was born September the 3rd, 1911, in Snow Hill Maryland. Are you getting that? Oh, good.
**Wilson:** Let's go back a little bit. Can you remember anything about your grandparents?
**Waters:** I remember my grandmother.
**Wilson:** What do you remember about her?
**Waters:** I know she was a very strict woman. She believed in children behaving themselves.
**Wilson:** How did that occur? How did you know that she believed in children behaving themselves, did she have like a board? or a rod?
**Waters:** Her mouth!
**Wilson:** Her bible?
**Waters:** Her mouth, her mouth! [laughing]
**Wilson:** Was she the oldest member of your family that you can remember as a kid? Were there any aunts and uncles who were...
**Waters:** My grandmother.
**Wilson:** Was she the oldest that you remember?
**Waters:** Yes, I guess so. Let me—that's my mother [points to portrait on wall]
**Wilson:** Oh.
**Waters:** Now, wasn't she a attractive woman [interviewer agrees] and that's my father. Now, didn't they produce something? [laughs]
**Wilson:** They're some good pictures.
**Waters:** They're old pictures. You notice the frames?
**Wilson:** Yes.
**Waters:** But hold on, you see that picture there?
**Wilson:** Mm hmm.
**Waters:** What do you think that's worth?
**Wilson:** Well, I don't know anything about pictures but—
**Waters:** Antiques.
**Wilson:** Antiques. But I wouldn't even hazard a guess because it looks like it's quite old. Has that been in the family for a while?
**Waters:** No. We used to work for a family in Snow Hill. Outstanding white family and too see the older people die and they left this boy. They ransom everything, you know. And I happened to come past his house one morning and that was on [audio and footage skips] So I said, well, may I have it? And he said take it!
**Wilson:** No, it fits in nicely there, doesn't it?
**Waters:** I've had several antique dealers wanting that picture, and I won't let it go.
**Wilson:** I wouldn't either, [inaudible]. Okay, when you were okay when you were a girl, a young girl, did you have favorite games or toys?
**Waters:** No, my regular—ball! Every day, I lived on the farm and with my brother and older sisters. I mean, just play ball or whatever like that. But we always enjoyed this—or I enjoyed the summer time when the rains would come and I would start—the water would disappear and water, I mean, the dirt would flake up. And I would just love to walk through that and it go through my toes, you know?
**Wilson:** So you like to play ball. Any other kinds of games?
**Waters:** I have played dodgeball when I was in school, and that's the only type of game that I have played.
**Wilson:** Hide and seek? That's something I used to play as a little kid.
**Waters:** That's what?
**Wilson:** Hide and seek.
**Waters:** Oh, yeah, I played that.
**Wilson:** Everybody played that. When you said you lived out on a farm, were you sort of out of the ways of town?
**Waters:** Yes, we were about three miles from town and we lived on a farm.
**Wilson:** So you had to do find your own entertainment.
**Waters:** That's right. That's right.
**Wilson:** What do you remember about elementary school?
**Waters:** I remember about what?
**Wilson:** The elementary school where you went to school.
**Waters:** Well, I can well remember that because my mother was a teacher.
**Wilson:** Did she teach you?
**Waters:** She taught me from the first through the seventh grade and after the seventh grade I had to go to come in—I call it coming in town—to school. They had up to ninth grade and when I finished ninth grade, I went to, UMES [University of Maryland, Eastern Shore] at Princess Anne, finished high school. From there I went to Bowie, Maryland. They called it Bowie Maryland School, and that's where I graduated from in 1930.
**Wilson:** Let's go back a little bit to elementary school. What kinds of things do you remember about elementary school when you were six, seven, eight years old?
**Waters:** I remember reading, writing, and of course, arithmetic, had to get that, and English also. We had other subjects. I used to like to read. We had to have each student would have a section to read and that's about it.
**Wilson:** Was this a—
**Waters:** Oh, I have something else. At recess time, which was the longest period we had. It was an hour with lunchtime and the school was on a sort of a sand hill and over on that side was the woods, and during the fall, the children would go teaberrying. You ever heard told of that?
**Wilson:** Yes, I remember teaberries.
**Waters:** We'd get ready to go teaberrying, the girls and go one day and the boys would go the next and we come back and we're not supposed to be eating those tea berries in school, we were in class. And then there's another thing that I'd like to mention. Oh. The boys used to wear probably two or three pairs, at least two pair of overalls, overalls if you rather. And they used to, at home, parch corn. You know what I mean by that?
**Wilson:** Shuck it?
**Waters:** They'd shell this corn and put it on the stove and cook it, brown it. And they have it in their pockets. And if they start to eat it, you would smell it. So, my mother was a teacher and she had to take [that pocket of corn?] and put it on her desk. First thing we knew, my mother was eating it [all laugh, clock bells ringing]. I always remember that.
**Wilson:** Was your mother the only teacher in the school, or were there other teachers?
**Waters:** One room school.
**Wilson:** One room school.
**Waters:** One room school. The stove sat in the middle of the room and the pipe ran back to the chimney. That was up about, I guess, 10 or 15 feet up, you know and at one room school we had to warm, keep it warm. We had no water. We had to bring water from next door neighbors, and so we had a bucket in there we're dipping and each child has his had his or her own cup or glass, whatever they brought to drink out of.
**Wilson:** Well when you came into town to go to school in town, what was that building like?
**Waters:** We didn't get in town only twice a year. That was Christmas and Easter. We'd come in to see the toys and see Santa Claus. And Easter time we would come in to see the Easter eggs and what have you.
**Wilson:** And that was in town, I thought you mentioned that when you finished with elementary school, you went to another school.
**Waters:** I came into town, to Snow Hill, because they had an eighth and ninth grade. You see, I had to take that eighth and ninth grade. When I finished that, I went to UMES in Princess Anne and finished high school at Princess Anne.
**Wilson:** Okay. The school where you went in town for eighth and ninth grade, is that building still standing? Was it a school then?
**Waters:** No, it's— they've torn it down.
**Wilson:** Okay, so then you went to UMES—
**Waters:** Right.
**Wilson:** And isn't that quite a jaunt? Did you have a long ride to go to school?
**Waters:** Well, I stayed on the campus, they had a dormitory. We had to stay there. Maybe at home weekends.
**Wilson:** So you were at UMES for about four years? Three or four years?
**Waters:** I went there about four years when I finished there, I went to Bowie and that's where I ended up. That's where I got my teaching degree.
**Wilson:** Can you tell me a little bit about what UMES was like for you?
**Waters:** I'll tell you, it's not like it is now. It was a big building, a down and upstairs. My room was on the second floor and they had a few rooms on third floor and there would be at least, maybe three girls, three small bedrooms—beds, and that was our rooming. And we had a matron. I'll never forget her, her name was Miss Brown, and naturally, you're going to talk a little bit in your room, and I can remember her coming up to the door. "Less noise girls." [laughs] Oh, she was something else. So, when I left there. I went to, Bowie. You know Bowie?
**Wilson:** Yes, I do.
**Waters:** Okay. That's where I got my teaching degree.
**Wilson:** I'd like to back up a little bit to your UMES experience. Did you have a favorite teacher or a favorite subject when you were there?
**Waters:** I think my favorite subject at that time was Home Economics. I like how they used to, get a little—cook little things you know, sometimes you have a chance to eat it. But I mean, I liked them all. I had to, in order to pass.
**Wilson:** What kinds of subjects did you have to take in order to pass?
**Waters:** We had math, reading, had history. It was just like in elementary grades but it was a higher level.
**Wilson:** So you graduated from UMES and then went to Bowie. Tell me a little bit about Bowie, what you remember about Bowie.
**Waters:** Oh, I sure remember a lot. But I had a lot of friends there, and we used to get together and maybe play cards for a while, until time to go to bed. And as I said the matron would come by and rap on the door. On Sundays we went to church, we had to walk about a mile and a half from church. I mean, from the school to the church every Sunday. And she'd be right along with us walking. So, conduct was very good, very good.
**Wilson:** Okay, so then you graduated from college and you ended up teaching school.
**Waters:** Right.
**Wilson:** Where did you start teaching?
**Waters:** The school from where I could finish the seventh grade.
**Wilson:** Here in Snow Hill?
**Waters:** In Snow Hill, not in county it was in country.
**Wilson:** And country, right.
**Waters:** Yeah, I graduated from there, and that's where my first assignment when I became a teacher. Back to the same one-room school [laughs]
**Wilson:** Wow. Were you the only teacher in the school?
**Waters:** One room, only teacher and my means of transportation, you wanting to know that?
**Wilson:** Yes, I'd be very interested.
**Waters:** It was a horse and a buggy.
**Wilson:** So every day a horse and a buggy.
**Waters:** Horse and buggy every day! and there was one stretch of woods we had to go through, and in this wood, water used to stand up. If a big rain would come, the water would stand. But I was on my way to school [inaudible] I had two of my nieces, I carried them to school with me. In about midway, that water the carriage was full—the horse had hands(?), a breast strap(?) rather, something they put around her neck. And this—what do I want to call them—but anyway, trace chains ran down the side were a single tree. And that's, you know, she pulled a vehicle with. But by midway of that water, one of those chains came off.
**Wilson:** Oh my, oh my.
**Waters:** And I had to get out in this water, and find this chain and put it back on, get back in the carriage and go on to school.
**Wilson:** But you get your feet wet, right?
**Waters:** I got my feet wet and my panties wet. [both laugh] You asked me for it!
**Wilson:** What a way to start the day.
**Waters:** But it dried out after I had got to school. Switched around there a little bit. I'll never forget it. As I say, I had my nieces with me and they felt like—they wouldn't let me see them laugh. But, oh, they had a fit, and they'll tease me now about it sometimes. Excuse me you know, (inaudible) don't you?
**Wilson:** Tell me how you ended up teaching at one of the Rosenwald schools?
**Waters:** Pardon?
**Wilson:** Tell me how you ended up teaching at one of the Rosenwald schools, the school out in Germantown.
**Waters:** What'd you say?
**Wilson:** How did you end up teaching out in Germantown? I mean, did an opening come open and you just applied?
**Waters:** Well, I guess I got tangled up with some man.
**Wilson:** This sounds good. I mean, tell me about this.
**Waters:** And we courted for about seven years, and he's said, "Now, this is it!" So, I resigned, and I married him. And I still got him. Right now, he's sick in the bed.
**Wilson:** I'm sorry.
**Waters:** I hate to say it, but I think he's getting mind—he's getting just a little bit weak at 93. I say God has blessed me.
**Wilson:** God's blessed both of you.
**Waters:** I think so, I think so.
**Wilson:** So I need to know a little bit about the school. How, what was it like to teach in the school out in Germantown?
**Waters:** Well, it was very similar to—I'm trying to think, did they have an upstairs there? two rooms, wasn't it? Two rooms. It was a little vestibule, I'll call it, in between the two rooms and in there they kept, had the drinking water, what have you, and outside lavatories, as usual. And I think those outside lavatories were there when I left. We had outside—the lavatories at the first school were outside because they have to go out there, and somebody [laughs] some, two people would go at the same time and one would stand at the door so nobody could get in and whatever they had to do if she'd go in, you'd come out. So, I enjoyed it.
**Wilson:** How many teachers were there with you? Was it—you were by yourself?
**Waters:** At the first school I has, I was there for seven years, one teacher.
**Wilson:** Now, which school is this?
**Waters:** That's Taylor's gate.
**Wilson:** Okay. Because that's not one of the Rosenwald schools.
**Waters:** That's not Germantown, not the one you want to talk about. That's where I finished school. Elementary school. And as I said, my mother was my teacher.
**Wilson:** Right. So, when you went to teach at the Rosenwald School, there were two classrooms.
**Waters:** What'd you say?
**Wilson:** When you taught at the Rosenwald School there were two classrooms. What did you call the school? Germantown.
**Waters:** Germantown.
**Wilson:** Okay. Let me get the words right. I'm sorry. When you taught in Germantown, there were two classrooms?
**Waters:** Yes.
**Wilson:** How many teachers?
**Waters:** Two.
**Wilson:** One for each classroom?
**Waters:** At the time.
**Wilson:** And what were the grades.
**Waters:** I had from first to fourth, and the other teacher had a fifth, sixth and seventh.
**Wilson:** What was your biggest challenge, do you think? What was the most difficult thing about teaching in those days?
**Waters:** I really can't think of any real problem I had.
**Wilson:** It doesn't surprise me.
**Waters:** Huh?
**Wilson:** That does not surprise.
**Waters:** Why not?
**Wilson:** Because I think that you probably had everything under control [Ruby laughs] What was the thing you liked most about this school in Germantown?
**Waters:** The school?
**Wilson:** What did you like most about it?
**Waters:** At Germantown?
**Wilson:** Yes, ma'am.
**Waters:** Well, I liked— the people around there were very, very, very friendly and I knew her [points off camera] mother and father at that time. And the people with whom I boarded with, they were very nice people, just nice all around. They're still nice and everywhere I go [audio/video skips] "Hi Miss Ruby! Hi!" [laughs] that's all you want.
**Wilson:** Oh, yeah. I was wondering about that. You actually lived in Germantown? You boarded in a house? In Germantown?
**Waters:** No, no, no, no. I lived here in Snow Hill, out in the country on the farm. I was married then, I married a farmer. So even when I came home, we had—we grew tomatoes—you know all this, but I'm going to tell you what I had, what I went through. Oh, we had a farm and of course, we have tomatoes, and my job when I got home from school was to drive the truck through the field while, men loaded them on truck and I'd be driving through the field [audio glitches] like that. But I had a good life [audio glitches again] and after I left Germantown I was sent down to Girdletree, no, been to Mt. Wesley. In Girdletree, they were one-room—two-room schools.
**Wilson:** What do you remember about the materials that you had in the schools? Did you have books and?
**Waters:** Yep.
**Wilson:** Things for science?
**Waters:** We had math, spelling, arithmetic. Oh, I said math. Math, history, geography and reading and we kept those books covered in order to keep them to be presentable for the next class to follow. They were our books. The Board of Education did not furnish any paper or anything. We had to purchase our own pencils, paper or what have you.
**Wilson:** Did any of the students board in the area of?
**Waters:** Did I have the what?
**Wilson:** Did any of the students live in houses?
**Waters:** In that area? Oh, yes, I lived in that area but there was a family that lived right across from the school, but the rest of them probably had to walk one or two miles in order to get to school. So, that was a way of life.
**Wilson:** The Cripper’s house—Crippens—you stayed there when, how long?
**Waters:** I boarded there after we stopped it, so much warming(?) I boarded with a Mr. and Mrs. Isaac Crippen, and they just about, not a fourth of a mile from the school, how far would they live? Just a skip and a hop down the road. I'd stay there from Monday 'til Friday and come home. Very, very, very good people. In other words, they're longtime friends until they passed.
**Wilson:** About how many students did you have in Germany and Austria?
**Waters:** Oh, Lord, I wish I'd known this when [laughs] oh, when I had the seven grades out at Taylor's Gate. I would probably have one child in a class. I never had over four in a class. So that's how I divide my time.
**Wilson:** I see, don't have to worry about too many students.
**Waters:** No, of course, we had a paddle if we needed it. You ever heard of the tell of paddle?
**Wilson:** Yes, I can. I've heard of that.
**Waters:** Well, why did they have a hole in it?
**Wilson:** It made it worse!
[First recording ends]
[Begin second recording]
**Wilson:** Doesn’t it make it sting worse?
**Waters:** Huh?
**Wilson:** Didn't it make it sting worse by having a hole in it?
**Waters:** [Laughs] They told me that’s what—nobody never spanked me in my hand with it but they said it draws your flesh up.
**Wilson:** Yes. It makes it—I have been paddled with a paddle with a hole in it.
**Waters:** Then you know what I'm talking about.
**Wilson:** I do. Let's go on to something else.
**Waters:** Did you ever get a paddling?
**Wilson:** Yes, ma'am, I did. I was very active. Matter of fact my first grade a teacher brought a piece of rope in one day and she tied my legs to the chair.
**Waters:** Did what?
[Door opens and slams]
[George Waters, Ruby's son stops by on his way to work. George, Ruby, and the interviewers chat about the interview's topic, Germantown School, among other things. Interview resumes at 04:34]
**Waters:** I was saying that we adopted him at ten months old, put him through a school. He's been in service, and now he's back home. He's given us two fine grandchildren. My grandson is a captain in the Air Force and I think I told you that though, didn't I?
**Wilson:** I don't think so.
**Waters:** Oh, I was telling somebody else. Well, he's a captain in the Air Force, and my granddaughter works UMES in the library. So, I'm very fortunate to have those two children and their mother.
**Wilson:** Well, let's go back to the Germantown for just a minute, how long did you teach at Germantown School?
**Waters:** I don't know.
**Wilson:** Four or five years?
**Waters:** Four or five years. Let's see. Were you there when I started?
**Unidentified:** No.
**Waters:** You haven't started, but were you there when I left?
**Unidentified:** No.
**Waters:** Uh-oh.
**Unidentified:** I probably wasn't born.
**Waters:** Well, I'm trying to think.
**Unidentified:** I think it was in the '30s.
**Waters:** I think I tell you who— what was her name? Henry [footage cuts] right across from Clifford's. The Henry's and they had two boys.
**Unidentified:** Susie Henry?
**Waters:** Huh?
**Unidentified:** Susie Henry?
**Waters:** Right. You remember them? I was trying to think about how they were. They're still living, aren't they? My goodness. They grew up, went away. Well, that's all right back then. What you want to know now?
**Wilson:** Why did you leave the Germantown School? Did you leave and go to another school?
**Waters:** When I left Germantown.
**Wilson:** Right.
**Waters:** I went home.
**Wilson:** Okay. So, you didn't.
**Waters:** I went home. I did some substitute teaching. But, I mean, I don't talk about that. But as I say, I went home and I drove a school bus.
**Wilson:** Sounds like fun.
**Waters:** Huh? [Richard Wilson repeats himself Ruby laughs] My husband had a school bus, in fact he had two. And he was hiring somebody to drive one, but he didn't pay me anything. But I drove one and I had good conduct on there. I pat myself on the back. The children were beautiful, beautiful. I am quoting what a white lady told me. She said, "I'm so glad my children are on your bus, I don't know what to do. Do you see how they're cutting up on that other bus with a white driver on there, these white children?" See, I had the blacks. There were two busses, and she told me two or three times, "I'm so glad they're on there, I don't know what to do."
**Wilson:** Did you ever do any more teaching after you left Germantown?
**Waters:** I might feel—oh, I forgot one thing.
**Wilson:** Okay.
**Waters:** I taught commercial cooking in high school.
**Wilson:** Commercial cooking?
**Waters:** Training children for commercial work, going into restaurants and what have you.
**Wilson:** Where did you do that?
**Waters:** What'd you say?
**Wilson:** Was that a part of the school where you were teaching, or was it?
**Waters:** Yeah. Uh-huh. And I would do this, when they drive the school—the bus to school and park that go on in school and teach the class, and then when the afternoon time come, go home, I went on out and carried them home.
[Unidentified person comments on her answer]
**Waters:** What'd she say?
**Unidentified:** Worcester High School?
**Waters:** Worcester High School. Yeah, it was under Worcester High School.
**Wilson:** Do you know, was that a segregated school, or was that an integrated school?
**Wilson:** So was that the last time you ended up teaching was at German school?
**Waters:** Right. I finished up there.
**Wilson:** Okay, just a couple more questions. Do you remember the depression, what it was like, the Great Depression back in the thirties?
**Waters:** When do I remember what? Depression.
**Wilson:** The Depression. Because a lot of people we talked to, especially people who live on farms and things like that, it wasn't as big a deal as those who lived in towns.
**Waters:** Yeah, it wasn't too bad. On the farm where we had most of our vegetables, what have you. I can remember seeing my father dig a big hole and he'd put cabbage in there, he had took big heads of cabbage and leave the roots sticking out. The heads down in the ground, they made this hole and they put shats under there, do you know what shats are?
**Wilson:** Pine shats? Yes.
**Waters:** On the dirt and put this cabbage in there. And also, they used to bury sweet potatoes, and when we wanted sweet potatoes, they open that opening to go in there and get what potatoes out you wanted. Or turnips, raised our own hogs. So, we lived pretty well.
**Wilson:** Pretty well, right.
**Waters:** Yeah. I'm proud of my life.
**Wilson:** It's nice that you can say that. One more question. There was—for much of your life, you lived in segregated schools where blacks were in one place and whites were in another. Do you remember when they began to come together?
**Waters:** I remember, but—
**Wilson:** Was it a big deal?
**Waters:** Pardon?
**Wilson:** Big deal, was there?
**Waters:** No, it went very smoothly, I thought, very smoothly. I remember. I have—I'm bragging on myself now—I've been respected very much in the community, both by black and white. Right today, if I go out to the market and I see somebody in there and they they see me, they've got to come speak to me, hug me, do something. And these are white people, more so than blacks that do that. But everybody in Worcester county knows me, everybody, black and white.
**Wilson:** That's great.
**Waters:** Huh? Well, I try to live the life. I try to take care myself well. Went with this one man, seven years, until finally he said, "this is it." [laughs] "either we do or we don't." [laughs] And I've been with him 65.
**Wilson:** That's great.
**Waters:** 65 years.
**Wilson:** My wife and I have been married 40 years.
**Waters:** 40 years? Good. How about you?
**Unidentified:** 31.
**Waters:** How long you've been married?
**Unidentified:** Not married.
**Waters:** Not long [laughs] oh.
**Wilson:** That was enough.
**Waters:** Been divorced almost that long [laughs]
**Wilson:** Do you have any questions you might like to ask Ms. Waters, anything I've forgotten?
**Unidentified:** I was just wondering again about the civil rights period with Thurgood Marshall or Martin Luther King, all those activities, how they affected the local area? If there was a lot of interest locally about what was going, or if that seemed to be far away in the big city.
**Waters:** Well, it wasn't a whole lot done but I meant. I mean, no partiality. Everything went smoothly as far as I know.
**Unidentified:** In Worcester County? That's wonderful.
**Waters:** You know, any things that happened during Martin Luther King's time that would affect us or anybody?
**Unidentified:** I was trying to think.
**Waters:** Right now, would they have celebrated once a year over in Salisbury, you know, the banquet they have for him, I guess, it's 50-50, 50% white, 50% black. Do you live in Salisbury?
**Unidentified:** Yes ma'am.
**Waters:** Have you ever been to one?
**Unidentified:** I haven't.
**Waters:** This is the first one I missed. I just didn't feel up to it. But everything just went left they had black and white speakers and it just seems to be [clears throat] Excuse me [clears throat again] things to me seem to be going pretty smoothly.
**Unidentified:** How did you feel when the schools were integrated when Mr. Marshall won in the Supreme Court case with Brown versus Board of Ed, did you have any feelings about that when integration started to come? Do you think it was a good thing or a bad thing?
**Waters:** Well, I didn't give it too much thought.
**Unidentified:** You weren't teaching then, were you?
**Waters:** And that—what year was it, when was that? What year?
**Unidentified:** Well, the case was won in '54, but I think it took a good ten, fifteen years before it really started becoming integrated around here.
**Waters:** I guess I didn't do too much thinking on that because I tried to treat everybody right and people have treated me resp—fine. And there's not a time I go out to the market now that I don't see some white person, they don't come hug me [laughs] it used to be a time they'd be afraid of you, you know?
**Wilson:** No, I don't.
**Waters:** No, you're too young [laughs] but that's about [clears throat] excuse me, all that I have to say that I'm proud of what I did and how I have gotten along with people. I think that young lady can speak well. The people in Berlin were beautiful, and of course, they had to be here in Snow Hill.
**Wilson:** Well, thank you very much. We appreciate all the time that you've given us in these reminiscing, and these recordings will be in Salisbury University in the Nabb Research Center for people who want to come listen to people like yourself who have some things to say about what life was like. Thank you very much.
**Waters:** Thank you.
Duration 43:25
Recording Date Mar 18, 2005
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Record #44

Type Audio
Title Interview with Laura Genevieve Jones, 13 July 2004
Description In this interview, Laura Genevieve Jones describes her experiences in growing up during segregati…
Duration 13:41

All Fields in This Record

Type Audio
Title Interview with Laura Genevieve Jones, 13 July 2004
Description In this interview, Laura Genevieve Jones describes her experiences in growing up during segregation and her education during that time. She also comments on some lessons to be learned from the experience and how those lessons relate to modern day issues.

This interview is part of the Teaching American History Project.
For more information, see the [Edward H. Nabb Center Finding Aid](https://libapps.salisbury.edu/nabb-archives/finding-aid.php?id=1550).
Transcript Interviewer: Melody Wilkins
Narrator: Laura Genevieve Jones
Date: July 13th, 2004
Keywords: Schoolhouses, integration, segregation, Fruitland, Salisbury High School
Transcription Notes: The audio of this interview has issues with both low voice audibility and skips in the recording. (?) following a name indicates phonetic spelling, (?) following a word indicates uncertainty, (inaudible) indicates that the word was not understandable. Clarifications, corrections, notes, and gestures are in brackets.

[Begin Transcription]
Melody Wilkins (MW): This interview is with Mrs. Laura Genevieve Jones. Today is July 13th, 2004. We're at the Fruitland Community Center. My name is Melody Wilkins. Our interview is part of a grant called Teaching American History. Mrs. Jones, what is your earliest memory at the elementary school? I hope it's a good one, but maybe not.
Laura Genevieve Jones (LGJ): My earliest memory would be of the dedicated teachers, of their patience, and the individual attention that they gave to most of—all of the students. Sitting around a potbelly stove, and discussing our classes. Probably [pauses briefly] the students in general, we were good to each other.
MW: You went to Fruitland Colored Elementary School, and do you remember how many grade levels there were here? Maybe how many students were in your classes on average?
LGJ: There were seven grades and approximately 25 to 28 students in each class. Now, it was a three-room school.
MW: (inaudible statement/question)
LGJ: I can't really remember my first-grade teacher.
MW: Did you like school when you were young, and what was your favorite thing about school? That could be a subject or recess, whatever.
LGJ: I liked my teachers, all of my teachers, and I guess you might say that I was a teacher's pet. And I liked, really, all of my subjects. Probably—I liked English, that was my favorite, favorite subject.
MW: [Wilkins asks another question, inaudible] While Mrs. Jones is thinking about that, I have to add that if you haven't looked at the information sheet yet, she had to be good at math because she became an accountant in the county schools. What did you do for fun when you were younger? When you were a little kid?
LGJ: When I was young, I used to play something they called Dodgeball, and something called Annie Over, where one group of kids would be on one side of the house, another group would be on the other side of the house, and we played with a stuffed stocking. It was like a ball, it was made into a ball, and we would throw it over to the other side. And if you caught the ball, then you would run around to the other side and see if you could hit the other person, and we played that quite a bit. We would shoot marbles a lot also, even though we were girls.
MW: (inaudible statement/question)
LGJ: In the summer, we would go to the neighbor's house or they would come over to my house, and we would just play games.
MW: You also went to Salisbury Colored High School. When you were a student did you realize how different the colored schools were from the white schools? Do you think you got less of an education because of that?
LGJ: I'm positive that we did not get the same education as the white schools. They had better books than we did, we received books that were handed down from the white schools.
MW: (inaudible statement/question)
LGJ: Oh, yes, I knew at the time that we were—it was like a second-class school. I felt that we were treated as second class students.
MW: What other ways did segregation affect you personally?
LGJ: Segregation [pauses] in a sense, in some instances, made me proud to be a Black American. Of course, I suffered a lot because of segregation, but thank God I was able to overcome through the teachings of my father, William Pollitt, who taught me that I am always as good as anybody else, regardless to what any other race thought of me. He taught me to always do the best that I can, to be the best, and that I would have to always be better than another race in order to succeed.
MW: Do you think that young people today, no matter what race or ethnicity, get the same message from their parents?
LGJ: Perhaps some of the students of today get the same message from parents who are interested in their children, some who are probably a little more educated than others. These children, these black children are a little bit more fortunate, perhaps because parents take more interest in their children than some other parents due to the fact that many black parents have to work. And perhaps some of the children do suffer, because the parents aren't able to spend the time that they should with their children that are going to school.
MW: I know so many people have to—both parents have to go out and earn a living. It's hard to raise a child today. Who was your favorite president as you've grown up over the years?
LGJ: My favorite president was John F. Kennedy because I felt that he was a fair person and I felt that he had the best interests for all people, regardless of their race or the color.
MW: Nowadays it seems like we know maybe too much about presidents and their personal lives. Do you think that the news media tells us more than we need to know about the people who are running the country?
LGJ: I think the news media has a problem with, at times, saying too much. Maybe this is their job, but I think it affects when they overkill issues. It doesn't have it doesn't have a good effect on people.
MW: If you had to choose one modern convenience as being something that you couldn't live without today that you didn't have when you were young, what might it be? I know for me it's probably—even though I had a refrigerator and a stove—My family goes camping and I'm so grateful to get home to things that you plug in and they keep your food cold.
LGJ: I like my television, not because of stories—soap operas, soaps—but I like it because of the information that it can, it provides for you, and the news sometimes, that you should be aware of, what's going on around you. [Wilkins asks a question, inaudible] Television definitely leads us down the wrong, wrong road, especially to the children, because today it seems as though nothing is censored. Everything is out in the open—[Audio tape skips]
MW: —How about what life was like in the Salisbury area when you were growing up?
LGJ: I would like for the kids to know more about, first of all, black history. I would like for them to know more about what has transpired earlier, the struggles that we have had. For instance, when I—integration started and I was one of the first black, in my field as a secretary and as an account clerk, going there for the for the first time as a black person, (inaudible) alone [recording cuts to complete silence, sound returns]. And I had to deal with [audio skips] many things that I really don't care to go into that made me so uncomfortable, and many of the jobs I would leave the job in tears [tape skips repeatedly, skipping over words, inaudible] ... we have to work hard to overcome whatever has gone on in the past [tape skips again, as Jones continues speaking, inaudible]
MW: Thank you very much [tape skips] students and visitors at the Nabb Center [tape skips] become part of the history of the Eastern Shore.
[Interview ends]
Duration 13:41
Recording Date Jul 13, 2004
Click on a field to move that field into top summary row for all records in this source.

Record #45

Type Audio
Title Interview with Dr. Kirkland Hall, 15 November 2019
Description Kirkland Hall is a curator at the Oaksville Baseball museum in Oaksville, Maryland. In the interv…
Duration 55:40

All Fields in This Record

Type Audio
Title Interview with Dr. Kirkland Hall, 15 November 2019
Description Kirkland Hall is a curator at the Oaksville Baseball museum in Oaksville, Maryland. In the interview, he describes the influence of baseball on his childhood and the various teams that used to exist all over Delmarva. He also shares his passion for his local baseball field and the efforts to restore it and make baseball a fixture in the community again.

This interview is part of the Salisbury Baseball Oral History Collection. For more information, see the [Edward H. Nabb Center finding aid]( https://libapps.salisbury.edu/nabb-archives/university-archives/NCOH-0010).
Transcript Interviewer: Creston Long
Narrator: Kirkland Hall
Keywords/Phrases: Baseball, Oaksville Eagles, Negro League, Eastern Shore Baseball League, Segregation, Preservation,
Intro: Dr. Kirkland Hall shares his memories of the Oaksville baseball team and the baseball-centered community that thrived in the rural Eastern Shore in the mid-20th Century. He also shares his work done to preserve the history of baseball in the region and renew interest in younger generations.
[Interview begins at 00:04]
Creston Long: Okay, it is November 15th at about 4pm in the afternoon. This is Creston Long interviewing Dr. Kirkland Hall. We’re in the Nabb Center Conference room. So, Dr. Hall, thank you so much for talking with us today. I have some questions about your time as a baseball player and then as a history-baseball preservationist.
Kirkland Hall: Well, thank you just for the opportunity.
Creston: We appreciate it. It’s an honor to speak with you. Can you talk about when you first became interested in baseball?
Kirkland: Well, I was born in a community called “Oaksville,” it’s about five miles east of Princess Anne. Baseball had been the neighborhood tradition during the days my grandfather played. As a young person-- I can’t recall how young I was—but, maybe 26 or 27 years of age when I recognized that my father was on their team and we all attended the games together. Of course, if you’re from Oaksville, it was just the tradition that if you were a young male, you were playing Oaksville’s baseball team. I was blessed to be one of those who had the opportunity to play for Oak for over 25 years.
Creston: Now, Oaksville as a community, about how big was that?
Kirkland: In its heyday, Oaksville may have had 30-40 houses in the community, but large families.
Creston: Alright, and of the baseball players there, were they clustered in families or was it fairly wide-spread—the interest?
Kirkland: Well, early during my childhood, there was a family called the “Miles” family-- there were 6 males in that family—the “Stuart” family—6 males in that family—then there was the Courbin(?) family—5 males—my family had 3 males. Then, there was another Hall family, my Uncle’s-- Uncle Milton’s family, that was 4 males. So, we were bascially a whole friendly neighborhood for years. It was taboo for anybody that was not from Oaksville to play on the team. So, it was basically a familyoriented team.
Creston: Okay. And the community of Oaksville, was it all African-American?
Kirkland: Believe it or not, we had about 7 families who lived, basically, on the outskirts of Oaksville, but still Oaksville, who lived—we had the Long family, Balson family, Widen family, the Inds Family, and the Denson family. So, there were small packets of families that basically knew each other.
Creston: Okay, and they were white?
Kirkland: Yes.
Creston: Okay, but they did not play on the team?
Kirkland: They were basically farmers, the family. This is where most of our families did our summer work. There were limited jobs in the county of Somerset anyway, so all of our families would basically work for one of those families in the fields from whenever the season starts in May, and tomato season ended in September. It was just a thing that we did every year until we became adults.
Creston: Okay. Now, the baseball team; Do you know when it took the name “The Eagles”?
Kirkland: Well, talking to my great-uncles who were on those teams in the early years, they estimated the team around 1910. My great-grandfather and grandfather were on that team and I was amazed because if they started that early, and I found how that happened because of uncles that went to the railroad. So, they traveled on the east coast as far west as Pittsburg and upstate Pennsylvania and they had the opportunity to see what’s going on in those communities. So, one of my uncles, George Birund(?) and some others, I guess, brought baseball to the community and it just caught on as something for individuals to do after work. Early in the morning or late at night, they always found time for baseball. It just caught hold and everybody fell in love with baseball.
Creston: So, this is pretty early, then, you said about 1910?
Kirkland: Yes.
Creston: Then, did it play—there were people in Oaksville playing baseball with this team from about that time until it ended? Kirkland: Yes.
Creston: We’ll get to the end in the ‘70s but that’s pretty remarkable, that longevity. What, with the season, what was the basic parameters of the baseball season during the time that you’re familiar with?
Kirkland: It basically started, in the earlier years, Memorial Day. Every money, I can recall, after school—thank god we didn’t need letters from our parents to get off of the baseball field—but after school on Memorial Day, it is a time that—and it’s strange, do they go to school on Memorial Day now? I don’t think—
Creston: No.
Kirkland: Yeah. But during those days, we—late afternoon, we’re on that baseball field at the school and it was something that we looked forward to. You think about the teams that are played—earliest I can remember, Oakville always had uniforms. Now, what happened in earlier years, I don’t know, but in the ‘50s, when I was in elementary school stopping at the baseball field, they always had uniforms. They would play some teams from other communities that didn’t, but it’s still considered a baseball game. In those days, every community, every pocket, had a baseball team. This is how they put together schedules. But, throughout the years, those who got stronger and more popular, we went as far north as New Jersey, played teams in Southern New York, Pennsylvania, all through Virginia—and when I say “all through Virginia”, to Norfolk to where Northampton is, (inaudible). So, there always was a team to play and it was just a regular schedule until school started in September.
Creston: Okay. Now, with the—by the time you’re talking about the ‘50s and seeing the uniform and then throughout the ‘60s and ‘70s, the Eagles were considered—they were part of the African—the Negro league. Is that—or could you explain that?
Kirkland: I don’t think they were organized to that extent because I’m sure there were financial responsibilities to be in the league. But they were considered a class-D standard baseball team and a team that took on all comers. My uncle was manager and said they got a call from this team, a call from that team in Delaware as far north as Wilmington, who wanted to play. So, once they had a schedule—and there were some leagues; central baseball league and some others—I don’t think they were affiliated with the Negro League. However, I recall my father telling me how when Jackie Robinson signed with the Dodgers when he came to Philidelphia, they all got together and some called two or three calls a day, pooled to go see Jackie Robinson. So, they had an idea of who was playing in the major leagues, and I guess it was a dream they all had but baseball was just something they all enjoyed. They didn’t get paid for it, and I’m trying to figure out how they could afford it too. When all the (inaudible) burned minimum-- I know gas was cheap during that time, but you’d have an automobile and had to eat and they’d travel all over the east coast. [And the same never happened.] (?)
Creston: Now, when you were-- I don’t want to get too far ahead, but when you were a player, do you remember, then, how—who helped pay for travel or paid to maintain the stadium? Was there community funding for that or...?
Kirkland: It basically came from the money of the players and some of the community. I started playing at 14. Of course, when you’re that age, you just sit on bench because the other players are in their prime and it’s tough to move them. Today’s time, a player might not show up for a game, but they were there every Sunday. So, we had to wait our time and basically went in our pockets. There was a gentleman who was the head of a small business, didn’t play baseball but was a fan of baseball and would support the team: Baseballs, bats, whatever else they needed that they could afford. That’s how we made it: people working together. The field was maintained just by community.
Creston: Okay, I was going to ask that as well. So, the community of Oakville, it sounds like it was a—even if money was not widely-available, it was still a major base of support for the team as far as a crowd and as far as just general support—moral support was strongly part of it. Kirkland: Then, they charged $1, when I was part of it. It might have been less than that earlier, but they charged $1 to come in and every Sunday, there were cars and people everywhere. They didn’t have the bleacher space for all the people to sit, but people were there around the field watching the baseball game religiously. We had to go to church first, so the games didn’t start until after church service, and that was at one o’ clock. After one o’ clock, everybody would go for it. That was the white families also. I know the Balson(?) family, I remember the Inds family, I think they had contributed to the team also, I don’t know. Creston: Now, when people came, you said the bleachers were full and a lot of cars were there, so, there were people coming from outside of Oaksville.
Kirkland: Yes. Baseball teams became that popular just through word-of-mouth. People would come from Delaware; people would come from Virginia. Matter of fact, one of the umpires that I recall was from Virginia, and he would bring a load of people who followed him. Talked about how good Oaksville was, nice friendly people there, had great chicken salad—that was the specialty there—and people would just come. Of course, I didn’t know even after I got older. I didn’t know where they were from, but people just enjoyed good baseball and they attended the games.
Creston: So, were there other communities like Oaksville from elsewhere in the Eastern Shore that had teams quite as strong as the Eagles were? Kirkland: I remember a team from Berlin called “Berlin Eagles”, the Purnell boys played on that team. I know James Purnell was a county commissioner for Worchester County. He had some cousins that played. I remember they beat Oaksville 4-3 in Berlin. There were some other teams, and a house from Delaware. In a matter of fact, they broke off a 43-game win streak! A 43-game win streak at Oaksville! There were other pockets on the Eastern Shore and Calvert County. It’s tough to compare the different communities but they all came together and put together a baseball team to compete in Oaksville, and I’m happy that a lot of them didn’t have any success, but it was always—the comradery at the game; we talked and we all—there was no mouthing after the game, we just formed some great relationships after that.
Creston: Now, when you played for the Eagles, what were the years you were on the team? You started as a 14-year-old.
Kirkland: At 14... I guess I started my Junior year of high school in 1968. I played with Oaksville until we folded. I think—I made a mistake, because I said the team folded in 1978, but I had just come back from Fayetteville when I taught there at Fayetteville State University, the team was still strong and we lasted until 1982 when we joined the Eastern Shore Baseball League. We joined that in 1980, but the finances, again, trying to keep the team alive as we did in the early years, it just wasn’t feasible to pay officials, to buy balls, to buy bats, to buy uniforms and other equipment, and to travel, it just became too expensive for an individual community. So, 1982 we just folded and the team became history.
Creston: Okay. When you became a player during the years you were on the team, what was your job when you were not playing baseball?
Kirkland: Could you repeat the question?
Creston: Sorry, I probably didn’t say it well. While you were on the team, you did other work? What sort of work were you involved in?
Kirkland: Basically, I was-- I had been a teacher for over 40 years. Teaching-coach.
Creston: I thought that at some point, I didn’t know which—okay. So, now, when—oh, I did want to ask about—were there any particularly-strong rivalries that the Eagles had. You mentioned the Berlin team, but were there others?
Kirkland: I think the strongest rival team was out of Delaware, called the Houston Cubs. They were another family-oriented team with the Hughes brothers. Mr. Hughs was the manager with five or six brothers and cousins and friends. They were always a strong team, very competitive. When they beat us in Oaksville that Sunday 4-3, they acted like they had just won the world series. Picked the pitcher up and took him off the field, oh they celebrated. I believe they stayed at that stadium two hours after the game just celebrating. There were some other teams, but the Houston cubs were probably the strongest competitors.
Creston: So, you said that was another community-based team?
Kirkland: Yeah.
Creston: When you were playing, did you play against team that were in the Central Shore league or were they totally separate?
Kirkland: Well, here’s what happened: As Oaksville was competing, there were various teams, basically white teams in the area, would challenge Oaksville but it was never a team, it was usually an all-star team, players who got together. Matter of fact, some of the men were in the Eastern Shore Baseball Hall of Fame like Teddy Evans and some others, would come to Oaksville. As a token of appreciation in their coming, they played with Oaksville and at that time, it was unheard of a white player to play with Oaksville. But Teddy, (inaudible) we would say, “hi there”, he knew a lot of people. Loved baseball, and convinced people to put him in a game. He would bring other guys with him. That’s how athletics just built relationships. Most of the teams that they played I know were all-star players. Oaksville was that strong that they held on.
Creston: So, with Mr. Evans, whom I’ve met—
Kirkland: I knew you’d have.
Creston: He would, for the game, be given a position on the Eagles?
Kirkland: Well, he just-- I don’t know how he did it, he could tell you better than I can, but I do know, and I was in my youth, I can remember him playing with Oaksville. But we never thought of it, black and white, because that wasn’t a factor during those days until I got older that there was a division between the black teams and the white teams. I basically thought that we were all playing the same leagues, playing against the same teams. But as I got older, I recognized that there were different leagues.
Creston: At some point, the Central Shore League integrated, is that correct?
Kirkland: Well, you see, there were different types. When it’s called the Central Shore League, I think what happened, they were looking at location of the teams. There was a Central Shore League for the white teams, and a Central League for the black teams. I think that was the difference. I do know that in 1965, Oaksville won the Central Shore League championship. But they did not play against any of the white teams.
Creston: Okay, then at some point, did the two leagues merge?
Kirkland: No.
Creston: No? Okay, this is a part of the history I think I've misunderstood before.
Kirkland: What happened, again, after Oaksville folded, Eastern Shore Baseball League was founded because the teams started deteriorating, they started breaking up. Again, Oaksville could not afford that league after a couple of years and then we folded. I had a desire to continue playing, so I joined Pika’s(?) team, then from Pika’s, I joined Virginia Shore baseball team where I ended my career.
Creston: Okay, so the leagues, in some ways, just sort of broke apart and formed into something... okay.
Kirkland: But we were the only team, from the black teams, that joined the Eastern Shore Baseball League. The rest of them lasted about ten years and folded. The same thing happened to Oaksville. After a period of time, a lot of the black baseball players, males, moved out of the community. Couldn’t find jobs, moved out of Princess Anne, moved to Norfolk, Washington DC, Balitmore, Western Shore, Delaware, and it was just a few players left. The last four years, I can Ray Shropp(?), who was white, Remer Roarke(?), who was white, and recruited players that played at UMES; Rueben Collins, Robert Brown, John Bates the baseball coach—basketball coach at Washington High School and at UMES. Charlie Boston from (inaudible) who ended up playing with the Oaksville baseball team because the other players were moving away. So, in order to keep the team going, they played and great players.
Creston: So, at that point, it wasn’t really a community baseball team anymore? Because there were...
Kirkland: No. The community was just dissolving because players were moving away and the only ones left were the females that were left in the community. So, we had to recruit.
Creston: Okay. How many years was the team like that? Made up of people from the outside?
Kirkland: I would say the last five years.
Creston: Okay. So, you said the last five years, ending in 1982?
Kirkland: Right.
Creston: Okay, alright. Now, the community of Oaksville during that time, it was also getting smaller?
Kirkland: Yes, because not only were the male athletes leaving, females were also leaving this place and going to other communities. One good thing about that is that the Miles’ are much nearer, all of the eleven children went to college. So, in order to find jobs, they moved. The Stuarts, I think it was ten of them, all got college degrees; they moved. The only one that stayed here was George Stuart, the coach of Washington High, and won the last baseball tournament; State Tournament, coach of Washington High. He stayed and I stayed and a couple of others but everyone else moved away. So, this left us that, in order to keep the team going, we had to recruit players.
Creston: Understood. You got some pretty good players that way, though?
Kirkland: Oh, yes! Great players!
Creston: So, the last few years of the team, did you feel like they ended on a strong note? I mean, it ended but the playing during that time, how would you remember that?
Kirkland: Well, those players maybe played one summer, one season, then went back home. So, each year you had to find somebody different. Like I said, it created a problem, but the comradery and the spirit, knowing that the players are going to be at the game, sort of changed. Some games we had only nine players. There was a time in our heyday when we had players for two teams. I either pitched doubleheader's in some games or had to catch double-headers when we played on Saturdays and Sundays. It just became—the whole ship went down about it. We had to play every game and every inning. Since we got delayed, it was two games on Friday, game on Saturday, two on Sunday. We didn’t have the players for that and we all decided—and the finances were short—we decided it was time to call it quits.
Creston: That’s a hard schedule, though. Two—a double-header, a game on Saturday, and another double-header. Wow, that’s impressive.
Kirkland: Well, the season for Eastern Shore Baseball League was not a long season because of the colleges. Some players, if they had a good college, played baseball up until June. So, June, into June, July, and August, players were going back to colleges. So, we had to get the season in as quick as we could.
Creston: During that time, or any time on the team, did you have practice sessions?
Kirkland: (soft chuckle) We practiced all the time. After school, after work, we were always at the baseball field, Monday through Sunday.
Creston: Okay. It was part of—it sounds like it was something you wanted to do.
Kirkland: Oh, yes! See, when my father was playing, we had a Junior Oaksville, because I was a member of that team. So, if it played a double-header, we would always practice in between games to make sure we stayed fresh. If a player moved away or got sick, one of us could move up. I remember my brother, Kim, he was 16, and he was so talented, the Baltimore Orioles drafted him when he was a junior in college. My father, at 35, who I think was in his heyday, some of the players convinced my father to let Kim play. I can remember my father folding his uniform up, talking the belt and wrapping it around the uniform, his spikes, his hat and giving it to my brother and he was highly disappointed. Matter of fact, once he gave the uniform over, he sat under a tree in our yard for days because he still had some baseball left in him, but Kim was an outstanding player. I mean, Out. Standing. Great speed, power, arm, great eye. Father just was convinced—he gave his glove to him. That was the most hurtful feeling I can recall during my youth, seeing my father have to retire.
Creston: So, he gave up baseball for his son. Wow, okay.
Kirkland: Yeah. Believe it or not, I don’t recall my father going to too many games that we played after that. But when I was in college, my father came to every game. When we played at home, he was always there. When I played basketball, he was always there. But after that happened, I just saw a change. Then, that same change I recognized then, thirty years later when he retired from his job, we saw that same change. Then, just started deteriorating...
Creston: Okay. It was like he was giving up an important part of his soul, really. Kirkland: Oh, sure! He played for years and he was the type of guy that would always laugh. Regardless of what happened, he always enjoyed himself. He was always picking and joking with other players and when he recognized that that came to an end, I think he felt that he lost a part of his life.
Creston: What was your father’s name?
Kirkland: Charles Hall. He was inducted into the Eastern Shore Baseball League Hall of Fame.
Creston: Now, what positions did you play?
Kirkland: Heh. In my early years, I was playing first base. I wanted to be like my cousin, Clifton Hall, who also is in the Hall of Fame. But then, they wanted me to pitch and also catch, then play third. Then, my brother left and I ended up playing short stop. My father played short stop; my brother can play short stop. Then when my brother Kim left to move to western shore, I ended up playing short stop, I couldn’t stand it. Same thing in high school; my brother Kim played short stop, he graduated and I ended up playing short stop. In college, my brother Kim got drafted, I ended up playing short stop. I couldn’t stand playing short stop, but that’s I ended up playing. So, I guess you could call me a utility player; I played every game as a utility player, but I couldn’t play outfield. That was not my forte.
Creston: Okay. In the league, was there a lot of thought about batting order?
Kirkland: Yes, it was basically the same as Sunday. Somehow those older players had an idea of who the best batters were, what position you need to play. Usually, I bat at second or third, that’s high school, college, all the way until I played Eastern Shore Baseball League. When I got older, of course I start dropping down the line up a little bit. My brother, Ethan, led off, I batted second or third and my brother Kim always batted fourth. It just went down the line.
Creston: Okay, so on the Eagles, in the teams you played, the pitchers batted?
Kirkland: Oh, yes! I don’t think I could have stood it because I took a lot of pride in my batting. If I couldn’t bat, it would have been tough. I wouldn’t want to pitch if I couldn’t bat.
Creston: Okay. So, you played quite a bit of infield positions and you said you played every game? So, you were putting a lot of time into this.
Kirkland: The other thing about it, I was blessed—if a player was unable to make it or got sick or had to work and we needed somebody at that spot and wouldn’t cause any weakness in the lineup, I didn’t have any problem. I played them all. I worked at it too, so that made a difference.
Creston: That would have made a valuable player! (Chuckle) So, your brother played and other family members?
Kirkland: Yeah, like I said, my father played, my brother Kim, had another brother, Ethan, he played and is in the Eastern Shore hall of fame also. My younger brother Perry played, but his career didn’t last that long because he was accidentally shot during a hunting trip. The guy he was with, who just retired as state trooper, they were hunting, young man got excited and started running, and he fell and the gun went off and shot my brother in the side. This is 1976 and he played some, but it cut his career short.
Creston: I’m sure that was hard for the whole family.
Kirkland: Yeah.
Creston: Now, I know that back in our event during the spring, you had mentioned that, on some occasions, there would be women’s exhibition games. Your mother played, is that right?
Kirkland: Yeah. I never saw her play, I cannot recall, but I did some research and she gave me all the names of teams. She played with a team called “Dublin”, she was with Oaksville, and then there was a team from Oaksville and they would play against each other. My mother said they were a better team than the team from Oaksville. Matter of fact, to prove it, we’d go in the yard and play softball and she was pretty good! She was quick to hit and she cheated a little bit, but she enjoyed herself and showed that she could play ball.
Creston: What was the name of the team?
Kirkland: Dublin.
Creston: Dublin, that’s what I thought you said. Where was that located?
Kirkland: That’s a little further east of Oaksville. You have Oaksville and the next community over would be Dublin.
Creston: Okay, alrighty. So, not that far.
Kirkland: No, no.
Creston: When they played, did they play before the men’s team played? How did that...?
Kirkland: I think they played sometime before the men’s game. They played on their own dates.
Creston: Okay. This was back in the ‘40s?
Kirkland: Uh... I think late ‘40s early ‘50s.
Creston: Okay. Did you know of any other women who played on these teams?
Kirkland: To get them organized, I'd always ask Betsey Corvin (?), aunt Tina Corvin, my mother’s father’s sister. Lily Polk... I can’t put a name to them... Mary Fields, she was Mary King then. It was-- I can’t recall all the names, I got a list but I can’t recall all the names. My mother used to call them out and she’d call the lineup of who played and how bad they beat Oaksville. She did that to get under my father’s skin. “The men could play baseball, but the women... couldn’t play!”
Creston: They played baseball and not softball?
Kirkland: Ah, they played with—I don’t know what kind of ball they played with, they just called it “ball”.
Creston: They just called it “ball,” alright. Same field, though?
Kirkland: Yes, mm-hmm.
Creston: Now, with the field itself, you’ve spent quite a bit of time working to preserve it at this point so I want to turn to that soon. But with the—are there still other former members of the Oaksville Eagles that you’re still in contact with?
Kirkland: Oh, yes! There’s quite of few of us. Matter of fact, I’ll say in 2009, really 2008 to go back through the year, I think we abandoned the field. Baseball just lost its flavor in the community; the younger players were not interested in playing summer baseball. We let the field go. No one maintained it. Had a man by the name of Elis Krump, who was in the welding business. He would come by that field every day, called his uncle, Litterton(?) King, called him “Jughead”, asked “Why couldn’t we do something about the field?” because it was an eyesore to the community. Trees were growing up, dugouts had fallen in, bleachers had fallen in, it looked kind of bad. So, we called a meeting, with the ladies in the community and also some of the old baseball players and we formed an organization called “Oaksville Community Club.” We got together, established a plan, got some outside assistance, and based all the finances in that club through donations, through fundraisers. We got electricians to donate some time, some carpenters to donate some time. Eventually, in about six months, we restored it and turned it around. We tried to design it to very similar to the way it was in its original. There was a website called “digital ballparks”. It’s a husband and wife out of Chicago. They had taken some pictures—they traveled all over the country looking for deserted baseball fields. They had taken pictures of that field and put it online. One of our cousins saw it and she immediately called, she lived on the western shore, she called and said “Go online, and you search your ballpark, and there’s pictures of the field.” She also said, “It’s a disgrace how that field looks in the community,” and that additionally motivated us to work. So, after that planning and working together, we accomplished the task and the field is how it is. My brother Ethan and the others maintain the field because it gets hard to get baseball team, very difficult now to get softball teams. Been used for family outings; we had a wedding out there, some receptions, a lot of family-reunions, church activities, birthday parties. It’s still being used, but it’s sad it’s not what it was designed for. At least it’s there for the community to use.
Creston: It’s preserved in a way. Six months, that’s impressive.
Kirkland: Oh, people were dedicated. We were out there almost every night, including weekends.
Creston: So, you built the bleachers and the dugouts?
Kirkland: Everything was rebuilt, yes.
Creston: So, yeah, I didn’t have a sense of—I need to look at some of these pictures. So, the dugouts were-- I didn’t realize there were dugouts there, I guess, or what would have been normal at fields like this.
Kirkland: We didn’t design the dugouts from the same material, because using cinderblocks, we knew they would last a lot longer. So, we did not use the wood that it was back in the day, and we put fencing up around the field. Back in the day, it was chicken wire, of course. If you look at it now and if you can see some pictures or talk to old-timers. Proster Smith(?) passed away, he was one of the older Oaksville Eagles; he passed away in ‘96, a few years ago. My uncle Wilson Hall passed in ‘97 a few years ago and they came out to see it and they could not believe that the baseball field looked that way. Of course, they’d tell stories of how great they were and Mr. Prostor Smith would tell me, “You know, I played short stop before your daddy played. He couldn’t handle me.” Those are stories that were heard, it was just a great feeling that what we did was not in vain.
Creston: No, this is important work. I mean, the preservation of—something like that can, with people having moved away, if generations are removed from it enough, it just passes out of memory altogether. So, who owns the park at this point?
Kirkland: Believe it or not, I’m sad to say, I’m the only surviving trustee. I’m next to go and I try to explain that we have to get some money or get a loyal volunteer to change that to some younger people or some other people, because it’s not promised how long I'm going to be here, but we’ll make sure the taxes are paid. I also must thank the Somerset county commissioners. After we started working on the field and got it back in condition, it became a historic site for the Maryland Historical Society. They started donating $2000 to us every year and we’re hoping to expand the parking lot, but there’s so many rules and regulations that they have to go through to take down some trees so we use that fund to pay the electric bill, repairs we have to do, pay the taxes, and we go from there. But they have been faithful for the last four or five years.
Creston: There’s a historical marker there now?
Kirkland: Yes, there is.
Creston: You also, several years ago, developed a museum—exhibition that was up in Princess Anne. Could you talk about what work went into that?
Kirkland: I was a short-term member of the Historical Society for Somerset County into the planning old Princess Anne days. They were trying to come up with something that would pique the interest of people in the community and others because the historic houses were all standing there, but if you’ve been to Princess Anne 5, 10, 15 years, once you see those houses are preserved, there’s no change. Younger people just lost interest in those days. So, we decided to get a room with a little paraphernalia and articles and player that I could find. We became an active participant during that activity. Believe it or not, I think we might have had 60, 70, 80 visitors who stopped in to meet some of the older players, sign gloves, baseball uniforms; it was a festive day. When we got rid of the clothes, people were still coming. We went and found another relative, somebody I never knew, said, “look, you gotta come meet some of the old baseball players, Negro League baseball players!” It was a joyous day. So, I guess, I can say, it’s wonderful. I could never imagine that preserving that field would turn out to what it is today, that individuals or people would be interested in how we came into voicing, how we worked together to develop and start that field, how older players would come together. Matter of fact, we have a union of other baseball teams from around the shore, but it’s tough to get in touch with them because the teams don’t last that long. They may put a team together two or three years, hoping to beat Oaksville. But when they got beat, a lot of teams folded. We were the last surviving black baseball team in the area.
Creston: Of the other teams that existed at one time or another, the African-American teams, the Oaksville Eagles has the most-preserved history?
Kirkland: Yes.
Creston: That’s what I thought.
Kirkland: Because every community, from Cape Charles, Virginia—we went to Cape Charles—Hoentown (?) Virginia; Parksley, Virginia; Seversville(?), Virginia; Treehearne(?), Virginia; Atlantic, Virginia; we played in all those communities— Kinsley Seaside. Of course, all those teams folded early and then Oaksville still survived, Westover still survived. There was another African-American team in Princess Anne, Dames Quarter, team in Fruitland, team in Salisbury. All those teams folded. It was after I played that there were black teams in Hebron, which is right up the street. We played a team in Denton; we did play them. There was a team in Chestertown; we did play them. There were other smaller teams in other pockets of Maryland that we didn’t know about until half of us started doing research trying to put together a list of all the teams we played. I was amazed how many teams we came up with.
Creston: Could you tell us about that research and how you did it?
Kirkland: Well, a lot of us do just traveling around the state, word-of-mouth, and it’s sad. The black community during those days, newspaper coverage was very minimal. Once Oaksville got that winning streak, we started getting coverage from TV and newspapers. But in early years, there was very little coverage. Courts where the record’s kept on paper sacks, bags you got out of the grocery store; he writes the lineup on that, use that, and you discard it after the game. I do remember Oaksville did have score books, but what happened to them, we don’t know. I had an aunt whose house caught on fire, I do know that she had some records but, of course, when they went to retrieve them after the fire—there were two aunts that I know that were vital parts of the team as score-keepers. We just basically lost most of the records. Then, again, just traveling, talking to people. We did get some coverage on WBOC and Channel 7 on the work that we’re doing and people started calling and said, “We played Oaksville” and “I have this” and “I have that.” We started collecting and putting the Eastern Shore leagues in. But it was so sad that none of the people... didn’t want to give up old equipment and it wasn’t going to be used for anything and a lot of people died we never were able to secure it and that was a sad thing. But, to preserve history, because there were limited pictures, I don’t know how I found all those pictures of my great-uncles when they were playing in the ‘20s and ‘30s, but I was able to find some of those pictures and I still don’t understand how I found them. We found some and other family pictures but-- (inaudible) we’re still trying to find pictures.
Creston: You know they’re out there...
Kirkland: Oh, yes.
Creston: … it’s just hard to... yeah. Well, when you were earlier talking about your father turning his equipment over to his son, your brother, it seems like there is a special connection that people have to some of these artifacts. Well, they don’t see them as artifacts, they’re part of their life.
Kirkland: And baseball-- I didn’t find out about basketball until I got into the 7th grade in high school, but I knew all that I needed to know about baseball. I can remember a radio that my father bought us and we listed to the Baltimore Orioles. Of course, the Yankees—I basically knew every player on the Baltimore Orioles’ team. I knew the batting averages, I knew the pitchers of the Orioles, I knew a lot of players that they played against, and my brother and I used to sit down and say “dad, can we stay up and listen to baseball games?” “Well, after the game is over, you go to bed.” We did that religiously. Then, when we found out about basketball-- I love, still, baseball. It was just something that was ingrained in us. Baseball was born in there and the whole community. Sadly, there were some young men in the community that didn’t make the team and then I found out that they didn’t have any ties to the field or to baseball. Now I understand why because they didn’t get the chance to form that bond with the other players and travel on the highway and sharing the few meagre dollars that you had to make sure you got into the game and make sure you got back and make sure you got gas; if the car broke down, we’d have to get together to make sure we pay for repairs. Those are experiences that are very precious to you. Lifelong memories. It took a gentleman who said, “I don’t have any ties to that field, I don’t recognize that. Matter of fact, I don’t recall seeing any of the games.” Then those individuals didn’t make the team because you can only have so many. At that time, it was a lot of the men in the neighborhood. A lot of great memories and, of course, some don’t.
Creston: Interesting. So, you’re still working on research about—you're still trying to collect images? Well, that’s important to know if we ever hear of anything, we’ll be certain to pass that onto you but you are doing the hard work of actually collecting.
Kirkland: Anyone I see who I recall played baseball back in the day or relative that played, I searched around and asked people in passing. “Do you have any paraphernalia? Any pictures? Any newspaper articles? Do you know baseball during those days?” We’ve been successful in some ways, other ways we have not. But we haven’t given up.
Creston: It’s important you've had success in preserving the field and generating interest, so that can sometimes build on itself and it sounds like that’s what’s happening. There was one other question I wanted to ask you about: I’ve done another interview with another gentleman who’s a bit younger but not much younger. He does some “reffing” in the area now and he’s done some coaching. He grew up his early years on the eastern shore of Virginia and came from a baseball family and there was a strong baseball tradition in the town where he grew up in Accomack. But he said when he moved to Salisbury, that there was less of a tradition of African Americans playing baseball. He went on to be the only black player on the Bennett team here at Salisbury. Is that a division that you’re familiar with?
Kirkland: I’m trying to think of the gentleman’s name...
Creston: I can tell you. His last name is “Downing”, Mr. Downing.
Kirkland: Oh! Yeah! He’s coaching at Wi-Hi now!
Creston: Yes!
Kirkland: Yeah! Oh, yes! He and I talked about some things and we’re trying to get together, we’re both so busy during the summer, to start a program to generate some interest in young black athletes to try baseball. As we travel around, we see black young males are playing baseball. We concluded that there’s track, which is easier—if you’ve got talent, you can run track, no hardship—they love football because of dreams of playing NFL, basketball had basically taken over. They have boy’s clubs they’re exposed to and play basketball all year round. Then you get popped onto football at the YMCA—
Creston: Here at Salisbury?
Kirkland: In Salisbury. Kids have so many things they can involve themselves with. AAU and all those teams. In the smaller communities, they don’t exist. We knew nothing about it. But there are so many opportunities in the cities that young black males, baseball was just not interesting. They say “It’s too hard.” or “The baseball hurt, and you got to look too hard,” Or “It’s boring.” But to me, it’s the most exciting 9 innings that I could experience, but to them, it’s boring.
Creston: That is interesting. We talked at length about it and it bothered him a lot when he moved here, but he sort of made space for himself and had some difficult experiencing travelling—the one he recounted involved playing Crisfield, actually. Anyway, we have the recording of it. To me, your story about how strong baseball was just outside of Princess Anne in Oaksville, and other communities around the areas. Just 12 miles north in Salisbury, there was not a strong tradition It’s been something I've been trying to understand a bit more, but you—what you just said helps me quite a bit. So, thank you. I wanted to ask you about that because it clearly was a big part of Mr. Downing’s life and he still is trying to create interest in it. I knew you must have known him, but thanks for letting me ask that question.
Kirkland: Mm-hmm, I know him quite well.
Creston: Now, I wrote some of these questions and I have a very limited history myself. Are there any questions I should have asked? Any you’d like to talk about? Memories I just didn’t ask the right questions? Anything at all.
Kirkland: Well, the only thing I can say is how appreciative I am to be able to spread the news about Oaksville’s baseball team and just black baseball in general from days of yesterday up until today. I think it’s been delightful to remember the older players that are still living and they appreciate the opportunity and when they see the exhibit at Princess Anne, I can see the gleam in their eyes. In fact, the Shoburgs (?) celebrated 100 years in 2010 and wore Oaksville uniforms and we took as many players as we could. We had an old-timer's game, Oaksville against a team out of Delaware. Had one gentleman, Mr. William Stuart, he might have been in his eighties; they let him bat, and he walked. He went to first base and said he was going to steal second! His son had to come over, “No, daddy, come on.” He was sick, he had been sick. “Daddy, come on.” “No! I’ll run--” “Daddy, come on.” Go to the dugout, and that was the most enjoyable—people saw a son try the dad off the field. He didn’t want to leave! Looked like a little child. Five-year-old child and take the toy from him. He was just that excited and he talked about that until he got to the point where his mind—dementia set in. It was an enjoyable time. Father time takes his toll, but like I said, it’s a joy to reminisce and I can’t speak for everyone, but they allowed me to be a spokesman over the years and it’s just been a great journey.
Creston: Well, you really captured the joy. I can hear it in your answers and the dedication that you’ve shown towards preservation. Some of the stories you’ve told here today capture just how much a part of people’s lives baseball actually was. It was not a hobby, it was a passion, really, for so many. So, again, I appreciate your time and thank you for this. It’s been an honor to speak with you.
Kirkland: Thank god, I appreciate it. Anytime.
Creston: I’m going to go ahead and turn this off now. (AUDIO ENDS)
Duration 55:40
Recording Date Nov 15, 2019
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Record #46

Type Audio
Title Interview with Joseph Purnell, 14 May 2005
Description In this interview, Joseph Purnell speaks about his experiences in going to school in the early 20…
Duration 24:41

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Type Audio
Title Interview with Joseph Purnell, 14 May 2005
Description In this interview, Joseph Purnell speaks about his experiences in going to school in the early 20th Century and the construction of the Germantown Elementary School in 1922. He talks about the importance of the school to his local community and the involvement of the Rosenwald Foundation to establishing the school for African Americans. He also speaks of the importance of heritage, in relation to the Germantown School Community Heritage Center, and its importance to future generations.

This interview is part of the Teaching American History Program.
For more information, see the [Edward H. Nabb Center Finding Aid](https://libapps.salisbury.edu/nabb-archives/finding-aid.php?id=1550).
Duration 24:41
Recording Date May 14, 2005
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Record #47

Type Audio
Title Interview with Newell Quinton, 11 July 2005
Description In this interview, Jan Robinson interviews Newell Quinton about his life in San Domingo, MD, the …
Duration 21:57

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Type Audio
Title Interview with Newell Quinton, 11 July 2005
Description In this interview, Jan Robinson interviews Newell Quinton about his life in San Domingo, MD, the communities there and the importance of Rosenwald School to the community. They speak about various facets of the school including how lessons were taught and how those lessons sought to prepare students for life, as well as the importance of education to his community as a whole.

This interview is part of the Teaching American History Program.
For more information, see the [Edward H. Nabb Center Finding Aid](https://libapps.salisbury.edu/nabb-archives/finding-aid.php?id=1550).
Transcript Interviewer: Jan Robinson
Interviewee: Newell Quinton
Date: July 11th, 2005
Short Summary: Newell Quinton, interviewed by Jan Robinson on July 12th, 2005, tells us about his education in the Rosenwald School, the colored elementary school in San Domingo, and his education at Salisbury High School. He details how his community, which consisted of teachers, parents, and the church, shaped his development and discusses the differences between his experiences and the experiences of the current youth.
Additional Information: This is one of two interviews conducted with Newell Quinton hosted by Enduring Connections. To listen to his 2018 interview, [click here.](https://enduringconnections.salisbury.edu/media/interview-with-newell-quinton-11-july-2018)
[Transcription Begins]
Jan Robinson (Robinson): I’m talking today to Newell Quinton from San Domingo. Mr. Quinton, how long has your family been in San Domingo?
Newell Quinton (Quinton): All of my life. We were born and raised in San Domingo. My parents originate here in San Domingo. I was born here in 1944.
Robinson: What can you tell me about the history of the Rosenwald School here in San Domingo?
Quinton: We recently learned that the old school learning community was the Rosenwald School. At the time that we were students or young children born in San Domingo, unfortunately we never learned of Rosenwald. My wife and I recently learned of the Rosenwald School Initiative truly by accident. Trying to find ways to restore or to preserve the old school learning community, and a friend of ours working on a summer project in Berlin told us about the Rosenwald Project, and then we went to the internet and sure enough found that our school was also listed in the archives at this University. From there, we did just a slight bit of research to learn more about the Rosenwald Initiative and Booker T. Washington and their relationship, only to know that we were beneficiaries of such a great endeavor.
Robinson: You’re a graduate of that school?
Quinton: Yes. Everyone who lived in San Domingo at the time, that is all the black children in San Domingo and the surrounding communities, attended the Rosenwald School At that time it was referred to as the Sharptown Colored Elementary School, as we call it just old school. But we all walked to school, so if you were living anywhere near around and expected to go to school, then there was never a thought that you knew you would be attending that school here in the center of San Domingo.
Robinson: So, you were at that school from approximately what year to what year?
Quinton: I’m sure we started school at age 6. I attended the school until we were able to go to high school, which would’ve been from 1950-57. I started high school at grade 7. In those years, children went here 6 years. My older siblings tell me that at one point, children went here until 7th grade. But I started 7th grade at the then Salisbury High School, which was a new school built on West Salisbury off of Lake Street, not the original Salisbury High School, but the new school down off of Jersey Road.
Robinson: Could you describe a typical day at the school?
Quinton: I guess a typical day for us starts at home, when we either started off with our chores, those things we did in the morning. We simply walked to school as a group of kids. We knew everyone in the community, being a small community, and someone was somewhat related to quite a few people. So, our day would start doing whatever we were told to do, assigned for us to do around the home. Making sure that we walked to school and got there on time or slightly ahead of time. At school, it really a joyous event because we were able to see all our friends and associates, not only here in San Domingo, but those children who would come from Mardela, [inaudible], or the surrounding communities, which is really hard to imagine, but any child in close proximity attended school here so we had lots of friends who came to the old school. So that day, we started doing our classwork, and we always looked forward to recess. Recess first was great fun, because we were very proud of playing softball. We had a very large playground in the school, so addition to trying to do well in class, we were also very competitive on the playground. The boys typically played softball, the girls would play volleyball, maybe a spin on the merry go round. From recess to recess, choosing teams and integration of a softball game.
Robinson: Were all your teachers African American.
Quinton: Yes. In those days, the school system was completely separate. The only people that I recall ever seeing in school who were not black, were the administrators, who would come to the school on occasion I guess to inspect the school or to review the education system. But all the students and all the teachers were African American. Teachers lived in the community, and it was a great fortune to have an automobile. I really don’t recall many of them having vehicles. I recall our principal living here in the community and actually walking to school with a family just like we did. So, it was really a involved the [inaudible] community. We did one whole day like any other day. We knew that it was time to go to school, time to go home, and one thing followed another. You either went home to do chores and then engaged in some type of get together at someone's home to play some activity or just have fun.
Robinson: Did you find that there were enough books and supplies and things to go around or did you feel like you were shorted out?
Quinton: I think truthfully during grade school we never really thought about it. Things went well in terms of education. I guess as you reflect on the education experience and those things it's hard to assess what was good or bad or indifferent. Let me answer from two perspectives. As a student, we felt it was great to go to school. We had probably some of the best teachers that we had because there was a sincere sense of caring about us, so we were certainly well educated. Education probably went well beyond what was in the textbooks. For the most part we all had a textbook. If you ask me now, was it the most current book at the time, I have no idea. Probably wasn’t. But at that time, it didn't matter because we felt we were getting educated, and we knew our teachers cared about us. That same sense of caring was transferred to our families, as well as to our church. So, we had a great support system, including our teachers. Only after you start reflecting back on our education experience and comparing it to other systems, you realize maybe well we didn't use the same textbooks or maybe we didn't have the same material. But at the time when it was occurring, a 10-year-old, a 6-year-old, 8-year-old, 9-year-old person, you really don't have that on your mind. What's on your mind is how to do those things that your teacher is asking you to do. Certainly, the teachers and the parents may have known there was a difference, but as a student, at 6,7,8 years old, that’s not on your mind. What's on your mind was how to please your teacher or do what you were told to do, and we made that our main focus. If I had to reflect on education here in Sam Domingo, or even Salisbury, our whole focus at the time for our teachers was being prepared. Be the best prepared that we could possibly be, and that was our goal. So, we owe a great deal of gratitude to our teachers at the time who knew what we were facing later in years that we had no idea of. So, their whole focus was to make sure that we prepared to compete. I learned that more in high school than I did here in San Domingo going through grade school. My high school teachers, that was their focus, many of them kept that on our minds all the time, to be very competent at whatever we chose to do, and to make sure that we were as well prepared for any other high school graduate in the state.
Robinson: So, your teachers and your parents had very high expectations of you?
Quinton: Absolutely. I think our teachers in many ways looked at our success or failure as their own success or failure. So, they were committed to ensuring sure we were prepared, and went to great odds involved in the family, the student, and themselves to do the very best so that we would be on par with other students. I know I’ve heard many, many times in high school and can reflect very freshly now discussions with my English teacher, Math teacher, History teacher, Latin teacher, English teacher, about what was required when and if we ever got to college, or when and if we ever got to sit in the same classroom with the boys and girls from the white high school or the big city high school. We were compared to the white schools as much as we were compared to the city schools. So, you had 2-yard sticks to gauge how well you were doing by. One, we certainly wanted to do as well as anybody in Wi (Wicomico) High. We always compared Salisbury High to Wi High, gee are you good enough to do that. That was a major hurdle. Many of our teachers either went to Bowie State College, or Maryland State, or Morgan State at the time, [inaudible] universities in the state school system, but at the time most of our teachers graduated from those historically black colleges, so their focus at that time was to make sure that we would be successful if we were given the opportunity to go to those same schools. Then if going to those same schools, there was a question if we were graduates from Salisbury High School, we would be on the competitive edge of those students who attended those high schools in the big city of Baltimore. One yard stick certainly was Baltimore City College that had a premier high school at the time, and lo and behold, those of us fortunate enough to go to college ended up in places like Morgan State and Coppin in classes with those students from Baltimore City College. We were prepared to agree that I think we did well. [Laughs].

Robinson: So, in your opinion, the black school system at the time did its very best for you?
Quinton: Yes, without a doubt. Again, it’s easier now to reflect on our [inaudible] much more now than it was when we were experiencing it. Hindsight is 20/20, and without a doubt, I can look back on that experience and know that our teachers prepared us well, and did more than what was necessary to ensure that we learned the material and that we knew what was going to be demanded of us in a world that was still segregated. We were trained in the old stigma that you had to be better than anyone else in order to succeed. Sure enough, preparing us to deal with that ensured a lot for our success. You just kept it in the back of your mind that if you were going to be successful, then you had to be better than anyone else. So, their whole focus was to make sure that we were trained to the degree that you could succeed through any obstacle in front of you.
Robinson: You said that church is very important in this community. Did that carry into the school in any way?
Quinton: I would say yes. For myself, I think it's probably more effort to look in an environment, although there was a physical separation, but when you see the same people, who have an influence on your life Monday through Friday, and also Saturday and Sunday, then church for us was the location we went to on Sunday. Although we went there to worship, but our behavior conduct applied to us Monday through Friday, as it was on Sunday. My teacher in elementary school, my principal, every morning, I remember when I was in 5th and 6th grade, he would start off school with a hymn. I still remember the hymn was “I come to the garden alone” while the [inaudible] was still on the roses. It was that structure that was present in the school system just like it was in church. There was no question that we had the greatest respect for our teachers and our teachers have their own families, and our teachers were also present with us at church. So, it may have been a different location, but the same moral standards and structure was always there.
Robinson: How was the school an integral part of the community? What type of community activities happened in the school?
Quinton: I would say that the total community responded to anything happening at the school. If there was an assembly, then everyone in the community was at the school. It wasn't a question of “Should you go?”, “Who was going?”, it was “This is the event of the day”, and everyone in the community would be at the school whether it was a play, a discussion, it was just that school was 100 percent part of the community, and it was supported to that degree. If the teachers needed something, I think for the most part the teachers turned to the parents and made it known. The parents in the community did their very best to ensure that the teachers got whatever they needed. I really don't know how that occurred, because I'm always amazed in thinking of how things worked, and to me as a young boy I never heard of a problem. Things worked reasonably well, and I was always amazed at the frequency in which teachers were talking to the parents, or the parents were talking to the teachers. During that time, my father took a very active role in education and so quite often, we would have a teacher or the principal at the house talking about some issue. Thank goodness it wasn't about something we had done [chuckles], it was about an issue involving school, and where the community and school was headed. It was a joint effort. I guess that would be a suitable word. I can't say there was a separation as much as a mutual support. Throughout my whole life I think everyone in the community that I learned to know and respect certainly held education in the very high esteem.
Robinson: Are there any other closing comments you’d like to make about the school and the San Domingo community, growing up here?
Quinton: I think it’s very, very important that we try to restore this school as an institutional symbol of what it meant to [inaudible]. I think those values that were taught to us are worthwhile and we should continue and instill them in today's generations because I don’t think those relationships exist. The years go by and looking back I say “Geez what went wrong?”. I know we’re doing things differently but in comparison I guess when I think about my experience either going here in Sharptown Colored Elementary School or Salisbury High School, and knowing the concern and care of our teachers and their relationship with our parents in developing us for life, then I think even in a segregated society, we were better prepared than the kids are today. As I talk to kids today, I am just amazed at the degree to which they’re not prepared to deal with some issues that they have every day, and I have to wonder what school system was better. Sort of fight and talk to young people today and think about the degree to which they are not prepared to move forward in their life. I have to think that we were much better prepared. At least I feel that way I could be totally wrong, but at least that's my feeling in knowing the work that the teachers did, their integration with their family, and the church, and the community, and being prepared to deal with their future, that whose mindset produced a better product than what appears to be occurring today. Maybe it's a generational thing, maybe it’s all the other aspects and opportunities that's available to people today that make them seem to not be focused. But to me, we seemed to be focused on being prepared to succeed. So maybe that's the difference. It's very hard to compare over a span of 40 years, but as an analyst, that’s what I would do is to find the reasons why one system works and why that one works better. I mean both work, it's not a question of whether both systems work but you have to ask yourself which system produces the best results. Or which system are the people most prepared to move forward in. That raises some questions and concerns I think we ought to look at.
Robinson: Thank you very much. This has been Newell Quinton from San Domingo, telling us about his education in the Rosenwald School, the colored elementary school in San Domingo, and something about his education at Salisbury High School, and how it prepared him for the rest of his life.
[Transcript ends]
Duration 21:57
Recording Date Jul 11, 2005
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Record #48

Type Audio
Title Interview with Jessie Smiley, 12 July 2005
Description In this interview, Jessie Smiley describes her memories of her town of San Domingo; a small area …
Duration 37:34

All Fields in This Record

Type Audio
Title Interview with Jessie Smiley, 12 July 2005
Description In this interview, Jessie Smiley describes her memories of her town of San Domingo; a small area northwest of Salisbury, MD. She describes her experiences as an African American woman during segregation, her education in segregated schools including Maryland State College (UMES), and her life after desegregation. She also describes some of the local activities and persons she can remember from her town.

This interview is part of the Teaching American History Program.
For more information, see the [Edward H. Nabb Center Finding Aid](https://libapps.salisbury.edu/nabb-archives/finding-aid.php?id=1550).
Transcript Transcription of Jessie Smiley Interview
Interviewer: Sylvia Nichols
Interviewee: Jessie Smiley
Short Summary: Jessie Smiley, interviewed by Sylvia Nichols on July 12th, 2005. Smiley details her life growing up in San Domingo and her transition to the eastern shore, which includes her education career and her community and church activities.
Nichols: I’m Sylvia Nichols and I’m interviewing Jessie Smiley, in particular about San Domingo, but about her life as a teacher, and her life going to Salisbury High School and working in Wicomico County also. Tell me about your early childhood in San Domingo Ms. Smiley.
Smiley: First of all, on the day I was born, was the very day my father had to leave to get on the ship to go overseas. I can imagine what he and my mother were going through, so they called me the “precious bundle”. I grew up in San Domingo, went to school, I can remember as a little girl as I said, San Domingo, we used to take our shoes off, walk up and down the sandy roads, and pick blackberries. I guess that’s why it’s called San Domingo, because the roads were very, very sandy. However, today we are living privately with our paved streets and highways, etc.
Nichols: What was your family like? And the neighborhood?
Smiley: My mother did not work when my brother and I were growing up. My father worked at duPont in Seaford [Delaware]. I can remember him working shift work. He was very strict on us so when he was working shift work mother would let us go out with the teenagers and do different things. However, during that time, there wasn't much for us to do. It was a big thing for us to go to Sunday School. I can recall we also had our carnival. We also had our fire department, so it was a big activity for us the week before we went to school to go to our carnival at the fire department. It was just such a big thing for the families to get together and socialize. We no longer have the carnival or the fire department. Behind the building that was the fire department is the elementary school that I attended, that’s called Sharptown Elementary School. My class was the last class to graduate from that school, however the building is still used today. Basically by unity large numbers, 73, which is the Masons, and Friendship Chapter Number 57, order of Easton Star. We still use the building today. When we attended the building, we did not have any hot meals delivered for lunch. We had to carry our lunches from home, however we were able to purchase a carton of milk for our lunch, and that’s what we had for lunch. No hot meals, as the students are very fortunate to have today, and they still complain. But we didn’t have them, and we didn’t complain.
Nichols: How many people were in your family? Were you an only child?
Smiley: No, I had a brother who's a year older. Then my mother got pregnant with my sister when I was 18 years old. I had gotten a full scholarship to go to Morgan State University [Baltimore, MD] and I told mother that I would not go because I wanted to stay home and see my baby brother or sister, whatever was gonna be born. So she said to me, it was called Maryland State at the time, “Will you go to Maryland State if we promise to bring the baby to you every weekend?” and I said yes. However, my brother was already going to Maryland State. After the baby was born, it was a little girl, and as I said I was 18 years older than she. Then my parents decided to adopt a cousin, and so therefore there were 4 of us, because we considered the cousin to be a member of the family also.
Nichols: What are your favorite memories of your childhood in San Domingo?
Smiley: Well, I guess playing out in the sand. I had an aunt and uncle who took us to Salisbury [Maryland] every Saturday night, and we thought that was big time. They would park downtown, we could go uptown to the movies. Speaking of the movies, the blacks had to sit in the top, and the whites stayed on the bottom, and that didn't bother us because we were busy throwing trash and popcorn down on the whites heads, but we were not allowed to sit downstairs with them. But that was a big thing to go to Salisbury on weekends, and Sunday School the next day, Sunday. That's about all we had to look forward to. [Coughs].
Nichols: Were there any memorable characters in San Domingo you’d like to mention?
Smiley: Definitely my Aunt Esther. I really didn’t try to be like her, but family members and friends told me I was so much like her. She didn't have any children, she didn’t marry. I have not married. I guess take in children or giving to them, when she was great for taking children from New York throughout the whole summer, she would let them go visit her. I think they were called Fresh Air Kids. But she was always on the go, very active in the community. I don’t think the doors of the church were open unless she and her husband Uncle Levi were there. But she was just so active, and then sometimes my father would say “Alright Esther, clean up your house Esther, clean up your house”. So everybody said I was so much like her, and I was so hurt when she died, she was somebody who was not supposed to die. We know we all have to go that way, but it was just hard for me to handle that when she passed.
Nichols: Where did you go to school? Let's start with your elementary education.
Smiley: Okay, I mentioned Sharptown Elementary, and I mentioned that the building is still used today. We have about 7 teachers who are still living who taught at that school, and last summer, a group that I will mention later called “The Friends of San Domingo”, we contacted all 7 of those teachers, invited them down for a luncheon, and we let them tour the community. There's another elementary school in San Domingo that was called Quipper Mill Elementary School, that has been closed. Only black students went to that school as well. They closed that school and then built Northwestern down the road. So we invited those teachers who had taught at either Sharptown Elementary, which was all black, and Quipper Mill which was all black, and we just had a good time. We took pictures, we had church service, and like I said we went on a tour, we gave them a tour of the community. Some of them had remembered, and some were still talking about the sand in San Domingo, so it was really enjoyable, they enjoyed it and so did we.

Nichols: How about your high school education?
Smiley: Well high school, we had to walk about quarter of a mile to get to the bus. Then we got on the bus and we had to travel to Mardela. It’s a hardware store, and the store is still open today. We got on that bus, we traveled to Salisbury High School, which is on Morris Street in Salisbury. That was an all black school. We did have I think about 2 white teachers. All of our books were very, very old. They came from Wi [Wicomico] High, we didn’t have Parkside at the time. Wi High and Bennett. Whenever the teachers got finished using those books as long as they wanted to, they sent them over to Salisbury High School. We did not have an overhead projector as such, we did have maybe 2 film [inaudible] projectors in the whole school. So we had to share, so we basically got the hand me downs. Very nice school, very dedicated teachers who made you learn. There was no such thing as “I don’t wanna do this, I don’t wanna do that”. And we were interested in attending school. It was like, if we didn’t go to school we were afraid we would miss something. During those days, we had a Home Economics teacher, and we knew better than to walk down the hall past her holding a guy's hand. When we got to her room, we knew we better drop hands. If we had a skirt on that was too short, she would give us the signal “Come here”, send us in the back of her room, we knew to take the hem out of the dress, the skirt or whatever, press it, then we would go on to class. We didn’t worry about what the teacher would say about us being late, we didn’t worry about what our parents would say, because we knew that we were wrong, and the parents would back up the teacher, her name was Mrs. Chipman, and at the time her husband was the principal from New Jersey. His name was Mr. Chipman. Very, very dedicated persons, and we knew we had to do the right thing, we respected them very highly. We had sports. We had great basketball teams, football teams, baseball teams, who competed with other black schools in the county. Washington High, [Inaudible] High, Bates High that’s in Annapolis. And the students had to have high averages before they could participate. 1.6 is really not a high average during our time. It was 2.5 or something like that. We never had any new textbooks, never. We got the hand me downs, but we learned.
Nichols: And it was a black high school?
Smiley: Predominantly black high school. I think we had maybe 2 or 3 white teachers.
Nichols: And where were you during integration?
Smiley: Must’ve been the ‘60s. It was probably in college, down in Princess Anne. I can recall, there were so many disruptions. My roommate and I were always afraid. We would stay in the room, lock the doors, get under the beds, and nobody knew we were there. The others would be uptown fighting for their rights, but we both were just too afraid to participate, and we didn’t. Didn’t have any spitting on each other, it was just “Get over there”, “Nigger”, “You’re not supposed to be here”, “Go back down across the railroad track”. The campus was across the railroad track. Like I said I didn’t participate, and I often wonder if I would’ve participated if I had been older, I don’t know. I mean I know it was a worthy cause, but I was just so afraid.
Nichols: So you graduated from University of Maryland, Princess Anne and then you also attended another college?
Smiley: Yes, also from there I went to Temple University. That's when I started getting my Masters, and it was called Education of Media. My brother lived in Philadelphia, but I could just not handle the city, I'm such a country girl. It was just too hot to sit on the steps, we were afraid to do this. So I ended coming home with 9 hours that I needed to get my Masters. Could not find anybody who travelled to College Park, that was the closest college to go. So I just took a couple courses at Salisbury State University then. That was about it as far as colleges.
Nichols: Were there any problems on your college campus during the integration problems?
Smiley: No not on the campus, uptown Princess Anne, but not on the campus. Not even when I was at Temple. I do remember Salisbury State, I was the only black in that class, and the professor said “There’s only gonna be one A in this class”, and of course I knew that it wasn’t gonna be me, but I just stayed there anyway I think I ended up with a B. But I’ll never forget that statement, I was the only black in that class.
Nichols: Did you see changes in University of Maryland, Princess Anne when the integration [inaudible]? Did they have to adapt the college and those types of things?
Smiley: No, they just went ahead and sort of ignored them and did what they had to do. Continued with their education, to them education was more important. It was just a small group of whites who were harassing the blacks, just a small group. So they could have been ignored, and they were.
Nichols: Did any of this inspire you to become a teacher? Your life in San Domingo or Princess Anne? Where did you get inspired to become a teacher?
Smiley: I think when I was a little girl. My mother’s mother who was living in Pittsburgh, she was a teacher, her name was Jessie Blair, Blair was her last name. She was an English teacher in Pittsburgh. I said I never got to know her, she had passed before I came of age, and I always told my mother “I’m going to be a teacher like my grandmother, I’m going to be a teacher like my grandmother”, so that’s why I decided to be an English teacher.
Nichols: You changed jobs several times during your career, from English teacher to other jobs. You want to explain those changes?
Smiley: When I was an English teacher, I was getting near the end of my rope. My mother was ill, I had to get up mornings, like 4 o’clock in the morning, go to her house, bathe her, fix her breakfast and lunch, then I had to go back home and get myself ready for school. I said “I can’t handle this”. I said to Mr. Turner, Richard Turner was our principal, “Mr. Turner I’m gonna have to quit or do something”. I thought that had been my worst year of teaching. I said “I can’t handle this”, but it was my best year, at the end of the year from my supervisor I got all commendables, and I don’t know how he did it because it was such hard work. But somebody had to do it for my mother, and I was the one. Then, at the end of the year there was this job opening for In School Suspension teachers became available. And my friend Norby said “Smiley don’t quit why don’t you apply for that”, and I said “No Norby I think I’m just gonna give it up”. She said “If you don’t apply I’m gonna apply”. So my friend Norby and my friend Bob got together and wrote a letter applying for that position. Norby typed it, I signed it, it got in just at the deadline. I went for an interview. There were 58 teachers who applied for 4 positions, one for each school. [Coughs]. We individually interviewed with each principal, and I told Mr. Turner “If I don’t get Mardela High School, I don’t want the position because I don’t wanna go in town”. So that was fine because that was my decision. I guess a couple days later, we found out we had to go for another interview. I think that time it might’ve been like 20 something teachers that applied. So Mr. Turner said “Ms. Smiley, if you do as well as you did on the first one, you won’t have any problems”. I said “I don’t know Mr. Turner I’m about burnt out, I’m ready to give it up”. So I went for the second interview and found out a couple days, months, whatever, weeks, that I had the job. So I was In School Suspension teacher for maybe 3 years. I had an assistant. And then they had the opening for Conflict Resolution teacher, And I said “I’m not qualified”. Come to find out there were no courses that were given so no one’s really qualified, it was just using common sense. They asked “What would you do if…”, “How would you handle this…” and from that they thought I was qualified. Gosh I skipped the english part. Well I taught english for X number of years, everybody knows what english is. But that’s where I went from In School Suspension teacher, to Conflict Resolution teacher, which is what I am now.
Nichols: When you think back on your job as an English teacher or a Conflict Resolution Teacher, what are the best memories you have in your teaching career?
Smiley: Most of them were, not all of them were good memories. Best memories, when I talked with a student and I saw success, that made me feel good. I would have some toys and they would say “Ms. Smiley may I have that?”, “If you don’t come down to the office or don’t come see me for X number of days I’ll give it to you”. That was an incentive for some of the students. When I checked with some of the teachers and they would say “Johnny is doing better, he’s doing his homework”, and sometimes I would make them come into my office for a while, “Start on this”. I would get them out of gym class, they did not want that, and say “Okay do your work, you do your work and you don’t gotta worry about me taking you out of class anymore”. I guess they made me feel good, that made me feel good when I saw progress. Same thing when I was teaching, just for a kid to try. If I ask you what color’s the pencil, and the pencil’s green, and you tell me purple, I say “You have tried”, but when you say to me “Oh n woman leave me alone”, I can’t deal with you like that. So I was really glad when I saw progress, really glad.
Nichols: And what parts of your job had been extremely hard on you?
Smiley: I can never forget the first time I started doing In School Suspension, and a little girl came to me, and she was telling me she was 12, her father was in the hospital, she had three younger brothers and sisters, and she was just so tired because she’s 12 now, the father’s in the hospital. She had to get up, get herself ready for school, get her brothers and sisters ready, go home, prepare dinner, and help them with their homework, and I just could not believe that. And that was the same time I was going through my routine with my mother, and here I am grown, and I’m ready to give up. Here’s a 12-year-old. I said to her “What about your mother?” and she said “Ms. Smiley she’s retarded”. Well tears just came from eyes, I just couldn’t keep them back, and she was there but she just couldn’t do anything to help her daughter. But that was the hardest situation and one that I’ll never forget. Another situation that I’ll never forget is when the girl from San Domingo just couldn’t get along any longer, and one day they had a big fight. I would not have thought that would happen because they were such close friends. But before I knew it they were fighting, and one girl said “Ms. Smiley I just lost it”. She was like a foster child. It was near Christmas. The other girls had been talking about what they were gonna do for Christmas, and she had nothing to plan for. And she said “Ms. Smiley I just lost my cool and before I knew it, I hit her. I had no reason to hit her”. But that one I’ll never forget either, I had to call their parents in. Community people. I also went by their house that afternoon talking to them, and that same girl called me in her bedroom, and when I went in there she had OD’d. We called 911. What would she have done if I had not stopped there, who would she have told that she had OD’d. So those two situations I know I’ll never, never forget, never.
Nichols: Most of your working experience has been at Mardela High, why did you decide to settle mainly on Mardela High while you were working? Or was it an accident?
Smiley: It was an accident. I had gone to Temple, and I told my father “When I go back, I don’t wanna go to Pitts or to Mardela, because I know the Mardela kids are gonna be calling me by my first name, and I don’t want to go there. Well, when I came here, and since I’ve been here, I would not want to even go any other place. Very respectful people, very respectful students, most of them were. It was an accident, but it was a good accident if there were such a thing.
Nichols: What kind of changes have you seen in Mardela High, Middle and High, through the integration process? Did you see a lot of race problems there?
Smiley: Not that many. There’s some, no doubt about it. But the students have no respect for themselves, for the teachers, for the parents. It seems to be getting worse. That’s the biggest problem I see here. Of course, like I said there were racial statements made to the students, but not one time have I heard the word nigger used. But when students come to me and say so and so, we talk about it, and we get it ironed out. But no respect, no respect.
Nichols: I think I’m coming to the end of my questions. Are there any things you would like to touch on? Your personal activities, things you’d like the public to know about? You or your life that I haven’t mentioned?
Smiley: Okay, this is about my church that was founded in 1850 by the late James Brown. At that time the Church was called Little Zion. At the present time we had grave sites of James Brown and his wife. They are located on [inaudible] Road in San Domingo, and the owner of the property has given us permission to make that a historical site, but we want to get permission from the county or we want to get something in writing. So we’ve had men in the community clean the area, and you can still read the names on there. So in 18… when did the church burn? Little Zion burned in 1979, it burned. And in 1981, we had built a new church that we called Zion. We had a female minister, Reverend Gertrude Brown. When Reverend Brown was in our community, a minister led church, there were about 6 young adults who became ministers from her teaching. They all have their own churches now, and they’re all doing great. Minister today is Reverend David Lee. He’s young and he’s doing well with the young and with the old. We also have in our community a tutorial session. Where students are taught, right now they’re working on computers, they give them a computer lesson. Also the adults, we go every Wednesday at 2 o’clock. One of the guys in the community wrote a grant, and teachers from the [inaudible] Library come out and teach us every Wednesday. Also, that community is also used for many, many activities. I mentioned about my education, my high school, my church. Some of the church organizations that we have are Administrative Board, that’s the group that’s in charge of the church. Governing body, Methodist women, Methodist men. Church Anniversary Committee, that was the committee that I was the president of for 10 years. Pastor [inaudible] Relations, Trustees, Trustee Aids, Church Choir, Methodist Men Choir, and of course the Sunday School. Those are just a few of the church activities that I could think of right now. Community organizations, I mentioned the Friends of San Domingo. Some of the things that we have done, we always carry the student’s Christmas Caroling, and we bring them back and feed them. We have a Thanksgiving dinner for the senior citizens. We recognize those teachers who have taught in the community. We take the young girls out, we try to teach them about etiquette. So we take them out to dinner, and just watch them and ask them different questions about growing up. We had the John Quentin Foundation, and that is a group that’s a family. Each year they give a 1,000 dollar scholarship to a graduating senior. We have the Order of the Eastern Star, which now I am the Worthy Matron and have been for 9 years. Unity Lodge Number 73. We have the America Legion, and by the way my father, Daniel Lee Smiley was the first commander. We had the America Legion of [inaudible], and we had Bible Study. Every Wednesday night we had Bible Study, we’d go out and study and talk about the bible. Anybody is welcome. Much of the residents wither work at Purdue, sewing factories, there's still some working at DuPont, or teach school, there’s still a number of us who are teaching school. We also have the San Domingo Park, that is sponsored by the Wicomico County Department of Recreation. You use it for family picnics, and family reunions. They have basketball courts, they have barbeque pits, the pavilion overhead. They even have a hockey box. It’s really nice toys for little children, games and toys for them to play. I wanted to mention my grandfather, the late Harvey Smiley, was the first barber in San Domingo. And my aunt, whom I said I admired very, very dearly was the President of the Church Choir for over 20 years. We also had Jerry Matigo, house movers in San Domingo. Jerry lives in Sharptown, but he houses his equipment out in the San Domingo area. A number of the men work for him, the Jerry Matigo House Movers. They go all over the world moving houses. I believe that’s all I have to say Sylvia. If I think of anything else or you think of any other questions?
Nichols: I have just a few. Describe for the people what the land looks like in San Domingo. It appears when I go through that it’s mainly farmland and cornfields. Are there old buildings and historic places there that I don’t know about?
Smiley: No historical other than the America Legion, which houses the tutorial session where the Cooper Mill School used to be. But they renovated it so you wouldn’t think it was an old building. The Sharptown elementary school. There’s some old houses, and some of us go through the community. We have a photographer who loves taking pictures, and he would take pictures of old houses and say “Who’s house is this? Who’s house is that?”. He is really into San Domingo history. I forgot to tell you that right now the Friends of San Domingo are in the process of visiting historical areas on the eastern shore. Like we’re going on a tour of Harriet Tubman’s building, Frederick Douglass’ place, we’re going to Easton. We’re starting with Dorchester and Talbot, we’re doing a number of places in Wicomico, we’re going to [inaudible]. We have a church van, and if the van is full then we’re gonna use cars. That’s our latest activity that’s being done by the Friends of San Domingo. It’s announced in church, and anyone can go who wants to. Also in church, every summer, there’s 3 churches that belong to my Charge. But every summer each church nominates an outstanding community person. Sometimes we do the men, sometimes we do the females. Last week we did the men, and one man said “I’m just so excited, I have never been recognized for anything”, and it just makes them feel good, so we honor them every year. We say we’re gonna start with the children, because we have some children who do some worthwhile things. But I’m just proud to be a resident of San Domingo. I’m just a country girl and I love it. Getting back to the land, most of it I guess is country land. There’s fields, people don’t have gardens like they used to. Even I can remember when my father had pigs and chickens, daddy hasn’t had any kind of vegetables in such a long time he said “Go to the store and buy it now”. Not many people have gardens anymore, but like I said I’m proud to be a resident of San Domingo. Didn’t wanna come here to Mardela, but now I don’t wanna leave.
Nichols: Only one other question. Who is this photographer? We might wanna contact him for the Nabb Center.
Smiley: He would be glad to. Rudy Stanley. He teaches math at Wi High. His name is really Eugene, we call him Rudy. Getting back to the Friends of San Domingo. Once a year we have a church anniversary, he takes pictures all during the year. He made slides, and everybody would bring a cover dish, and we’d sit down and we’d look at the slides and we say “Oh who is that lady? Oh she’s gained weight! Oh she’s skinny!”. Our former pastor Reverend Gertrude Brown was so skinny when she came, but when she left she was so fat and she said “Oh is that me?”. I mean it was just funny. But Rudy would be glad to. Rudy Stanley teaches math at Wi High, and he does a lot of research on the computer. He went back and found out how he and I were related. And we never knew that for years.
Nichols: Thank you Ms. Smiley for your time. We will keep this document in the Nabb Center. Thank you very much.
Smiley: You’re welcome.
Duration 37:34
Recording Date Jul 12, 2005
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Record #49

Type Audio
Title Interview with Ed Taylor, 28 July 2004
Description In this interview, Ed Taylor describes his experiences with segregation and his tour of duty duri…
Duration 25:56

All Fields in This Record

Type Audio
Title Interview with Ed Taylor, 28 July 2004
Description In this interview, Ed Taylor describes his experiences with segregation and his tour of duty during the Korean War. He describes the segregated neighborhoods and schools of his youth, then his being drafted for the Korean War and the process of integration he experienced there. He also describes the circumstances that earned him two Bronze Stars for his valor.

This interview is part of the Teaching American History Program.
For more information, see the [Edward H. Nabb Center Finding Aid](https://libapps.salisbury.edu/nabb-archives/finding-aid.php?id=1550).
Duration 25:56
Recording Date Jul 28, 2004
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Record #50

Type Audio
Title Delmarva Folklife Project: Interview with Robert Mollock, 24 August 1998
Description This interview was conducted by Kelly Feltault with Robert Mollock near Elliot's Island, MD. In t…
Duration 1:15:24

All Fields in This Record

Type Audio
Title Delmarva Folklife Project: Interview with Robert Mollock, 24 August 1998
Description This interview was conducted by Kelly Feltault with Robert Mollock near Elliot's Island, MD. In this interview, Robert discusses trapping, hunting, and farming traditions from this section of the eastern shore. He describes his history with trapping, beginning with hunting trips with his father, and the role of the tide in the placement of his many traps, hoping to trap muskrats, raccoons, and nutria; a dangerous large rodent. He describes the process of working in the fur and meat trade and the changes that have occurred in that business over the years with conservation and regulation in the area, and how the number of trappers has been decreasing from the lack of profit in the business. He also speaks about setting marsh fires to help with trapping, and the methods he employs to do that.
In part 2, he continues his description of hunting, trapping, and farming. He speaks about working in cash crop orchards on Royer's Farms, describing how they would process the crops, who they would sell to, and how the farm has changed between then and now. He then speaks more about trapping, including dog training, and what he really enjoys from the process of trapping a wild animal.

This interview is part of the Delmarva Folklife Project. For more information, see the [Edward H. Nabb Center Finding Aid](http://libapps.salisbury.edu/nabb-archives/local-history-archives/2003.004).
Transcript Interviewee: Robert Mollock
Interviewer: Kelly Feltault
Date: 8/24/98
Location: Weston Farm; south of Vienna toward Elliot's Island; private hunting ground, formerly Royer's Farms
Tape #: MAAF/KF/MD/FT8.24.610
Number of Tapes: 1 of 1
Number of Sides: 2
File name: mdft610.doc.
Photography Log #: MAAF/KF/MD/PS8.24.661-677
Topic: trapping, hunting, farming
Corresponding Comments: Italics indicate song title or emphasis; “quotations” indicate direct transcription; [brackets indicate additional information not on tape or commentary by fieldworker].
Francis O’Donnell who runs Royer’s Market on route 50 recommended that I speak with Bob Mollock. Francis’ family once owned the property that is now Weston Farms and grew truck vegetables and fruit on the land. A wealthy Philadelphia restaurateur bought the property and kept Bob on to manage the land and develop a private hunting reserve. Bob has trapped up to 1,000 muskrats in a season and was born across the creek from the farm, so he was raised in the area. After the interview we drove around the property, see FN08.24.98 for those details. Bob has a slight stutter, not too noticeable unless you’ve met him. There are some background noises from the kitchen down the hall and a bird chirping, but nothing too distracting.
**BIO**: Nathan Bobbie Mollock; born in 1944 in Cambridge; in Dorchester all his life; lived on a farm, large family; 6 boys, 4 girls; father and uncle farmed and everyone worked it; raised tomatoes, peppers, cucumber, field corn, all handpicked; had dairy cows; children’s job to take care of cows; raised pigs; hog killing every year
**TRAPPING/HUNTING**: started at age 8; father trapped; learned from him; went along with Dad, would get 8-10 traps when starting and trapped a little marsh on the Nanticoke; picked up spending money and school money; after a few years got good at it and then would trap with Dad; dad in one boat and bob in another; not much walking could do it all in boat; set on low tide, check them on low tide; trapped tidal marsh so had to do it on the tide; always had to be aware of the tide; [how is the tide a daily cycle for shore residents, this was one cycle I didn’t include in previous reports; watermen especially drift netters work on tides etc.; how to draw this chart?]
**TIDE AND WATER**: runs 7 hrs in and 6.5 out; always on the same schedule but in recent years had lot more high water and stay 2-3 days or go out and stay 2-3 days; past 5-6 yrs; still set on same scale; gradually had to get used to set them; tide would go out but not as far as it once did; had to set traps a little higher than before; work harder because you can’t see your holes [muskrats make dens, visible by the holes they dig] so you have to feel for them; wear a rubber glove now that fits to your shoulder; big difference; takes longer to set them; sets 175-200 traps whereas 30 yrs ago only did 100-150 traps and caught more back then than now
**MEMORABLE**: caught as much as 2,000 in a season; Jan. 1-Feb 15; muskrats, coons, nutrias and 1 or 2 otters a season; at age 14 or 15 was out on own setting traps; catching more than his dad; neighbor trapped too; helped him too; at age 18 was setting 200 traps including with neighbor; yr he caught 2,000 was the most memorable; only had 144 traps then; all muskrat; caught 98 rats one day in 144 traps; good percentage; if you catch 3-1 or 4-1 it’s a good catch
**CHANGES IN MARSH**: marsh grass not growing as tall; vegetation not there; due to pollution; not as many rats as past; more predators now; hawks, foxes, coons, eagles, all predators; rats don’t have the cover or protection that they used to because of grasses; Place trap over hole; if rainy or wind coming from south you have high tide; had to gauge the tide at night because nocturnal animals; have to do it repeatedly to get feel of how high and how low to get the traps; if see the trap won’t catch them; have to move it around if don’t catch in 2 or 3 nights; traps certain segments at a time; stops up every hole in a given geographic area; moves 50-60 traps every day to have a constant catch; averages 800-1500 a season
**PRODUCTS**: Meat he sells to customers that he and his father used to sell to; using same customer base; meat has to be fresh so must check the traps every day; carries furs all the way to NJ to a guy; gets a better deal than from the local buyers; in NJ running $4 a fur; [that’s $6000 a season if he catches 1500]; fur prices dropped; animal rights people; need to manage the population to control disease; finds that areas he didn’t trap the previous year has less rats than the areas he did trap the previous year; [phone rings]
**Trapping for Coons**: trap around woods and marsh; coons see rats in a trap as a free meal; he tries to set coon traps around the muskrat trap; uses Conibear traps in wooden boxes that he builds and then baits them; catches 50-80 a season; coons fur pretty good this year; $15; year before were worth nothing; fur goes overseas; had a big demand for coon and nutria fur last year; $9-10 for nutria; diff. in furs: muskrat has “all fine, nice, pretty fur but a nutria has fine hair on the bottom and then has got jaggy fur with it” have to pull the jaggy hair out when manufacturing to leave the fine hair; more work;
**Changes over Time**: raised on the Baker farm at Lewis’ Wharf; when got married moved onto this farm; not like a lot of people who rent marsh; they lived on the marsh; don’t have to go to so many places; he just runs to the wharf and jumps in boat; 400 acres on this farm to trap; better marsh to trap because don’t have to walk it; can go by boat; if walk across marsh with hip boots on and 25-30 traps on back it’s hard work, then add the rats on your back too; better on a boat does own skinning; been on this farm 32 years; had two bosses, 1st one was “little Francis’ grandfather” worked for him for 20 years; they got divorced and Bob went with the new people; Royer’s had cash crops; new guy has it for hunting; brings in friends to hunt; not big parties or strangers; deer, rabbit, duck, quail, dove, mostly a wing shooter; bob grew up with rabbit, squirrel and deer hunting [how does class and race play into this?]; didn’t do wingshooting until new guy came on; working for new guy is some of the best years he’s ever had; excellent guy; comes down 13-14 times a year during hunting season; bob manages land for him; the whole place including the house and hunting lodge; go fishing in Nanticoke river;
**PUBLIC OUTREACH**: also has inner city kids come down and stay; go fishing and Bob explains different types of wildlife to them; owners very generous with the wealth they have; most of the kids haven’t seen these animals or this type of land; [Bob already doing public programming and presentations with these kids and visitors] Explains how he does programs for kids; takes them in boats and shows them muskrat holes etc.; in fall can see the mounds; can see the trails and runs in the marsh; best way to explain it is to show them;
**Changes in Trapping**: Decrease in number of trappers because of decline in fur prices; lots of work; older trappers could live off a lot less money; if he doesn’t get $5 or more for meat and fur it’s really a waste of time; renting marsh also adds to decrease in trappers; difficult for older people because physically demanding but “you gotta do something you’re used to doing, and the trappers now been doing it for many years.” Constantly moving traps so doesn’t use as many traps as other trappers; burning marshes makes thicker vegetation and younger undergrowth for animals; eat and build houses; build houses according to weather so can predict the winters; had lots of rain and high tide last year so built higher mounds; Setting marsh fires: go according to the wind; use the wind to control fires; and use water ways; burns only in sections; burns just before trapping; must trap after burning because predators will get rats etc; if too cold will have winter kill from weather; burns in February; a week before; how he focuses on the short term; better manage the situation because he lives on the property; marsh once burnt you can see the muskrat houses and creeks, flat not blocked by tall grass; can see trails etc.; Wearing goggles to protect eyes; grass so tall and wind blowing will cause eye damage;
**NUTRIA**: other dangers in the marsh: nutria are very vicious; if walking through marsh not burned off and come up on one he won’t run away; he’ll attack; got big teeth; 4x size of muskrat; 2 dogs been bit; got 18 stitches; story of dog chasing a nutria in the pond and the nutria grabbing the dog by the throat and trying to drown it; nutria hold breath longer than dogs; boss saved the dog and shot the nutria; some are 35 lbs; solid meat; excellent swimmers; “lazy animals”; don’t believe in building a house; to keep warm they huddle together or lay around an old stump or something; if really cold then they die out;
**Trapping for nutria**: set traps on their pathways; not smart as a coon or muskrat, can catch 15-20 nutria in same place repeatedly whereas a muskrat or coon once you catch one in a spot you must move the trap; Trapping fox: must be real smart to get a fox; has someone else come in to trap foxes; requires so much more work; everything has to be de-scented, no human smell at all; special gloves, traps everything; wax on trap; scent killer; rubber boots and gloves without human scent; last year had a guy who caught 8-900 foxes; waste of time for Bob; rats and coon is different; Diff. Btwn still water marsh and tidal marsh; still water marsh doesn’t move so you must set underwater; not used to setting underwater; takes diff. Skills; [two good things: diff. Waters produce diff trapping styles; and a possible heirarchy of trappers with fox trappers at top; trappers specializing in certain animals]
**Royer’s farms**: cash crop farms; peaches apples, corns, 3000 trees; big orchard; lot of man labor; sold fruit from Annapolis to O.C.; Acme, Superfresh and IGA food stores; year round work; pruning spraying; Bob and Francis in charge of maintaining the orchard; 25 people working for picking and stuff
**LOOK OF LAND THEN AND NOW**: farm was 100% diff. Back then; no hedge rows all was flat; when leaves fell of trees in fall could see from the house to the road [a couple of miles]; “I worked 20 years and the year that they sold it there wasn’t a tree or nothing in the fields. Everything was mowed right down to the ground. And we planted everything that we could plant we planted. And in less time, 12 years, it’s back the same way we started.” Planted hedge rows and trees and let it grow back for natural for cover for animals; movements of animals; 100x more wildlife now; out in the fields; Dogs: training; whistles; doesn’t really use one because animals are used to him and they follow commands; gets them already trained; before hunting season they go back to the trainer and he gives them a “refresher course”; [who is this] Practice with dogs before hunting season starts; dog’s parents make it good; get what you pay for; parent’s must come from good backgrounds; born into them
**WHAT HE LOVES ABOUT TRAPPING**: outsmarting something else; been doing it all his life; loves being outside; every yr. Animals get smarter and smarter; challenge; Otters really smart too an dhave short legs so hard to catch; Rather be outside; more breathing room; and raised on a farm makes a difference; sons have learned if interested; but not as interested; too much work for them; prefer the hunting aspects of the farm and land management; peaceful and quiet out here so likes that; hunting season real busy and more people [Bob and I end the interview to go take photos and ride around the farm. 1st he shows me some taxidermied animals that he’s trapped. His living room is full of trophies.]
Duration 1:15:24
Recording Date Aug 24, 1998
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Record #51

Type Audio
Title Crisfield Traditions in Time: Interview with Eugene Borden, 24 June 2003
Description Eugene Borden was an educator in Somerset County, MD. In this interview, he describes his upbring…
Duration 28:10

All Fields in This Record

Type Audio
Title Crisfield Traditions in Time: Interview with Eugene Borden, 24 June 2003
Description Eugene Borden was an educator in Somerset County, MD. In this interview, he describes his upbringing and the influences on his life that led to his thirty-year career in education, as well as the various aspects of the Crisfield community that pertain to education. He also talks about the prominent Hispanic community in Crisfield, thanks to an influx of migrant workers, and his work with the Migrant Education Program. He also speaks about race relations and the impact of integration on the area, noting that everything seemed to go smoothly.

This interview is part of the Crisfield Traditions in Time Project.
For more information, see the [Edward H. Nabb Center Finding Aid](https://libapps.salisbury.edu/nabb-archives/finding-aid.php?id=3831).
Transcript 002


009 Borden describes Somerset County Migrant Education Program, which

serves children of the mostly Hispanic migrant workers who pick tomatoes
and other crops in July and August in Somerset County. Somerset County
utilizes its small number of bilingual teachers to work in this program.

036 Borden describes his thirty-year career in education in Maryland.

048 Borden was raised in Marion Station, MD, and plans to die there.

050 Borden thinks that the Crisfield community now values education because

of the loss of traditional jobs in the seafood industry.

056 Borden describes the social cohesion of students in the Crisfield public


064 Borden has seen students become more serious about school as they look

for other career paths outside of the seafood industry.

072 Borden does not want to comment on the cliques at Crisfield High School.

078 Most teachers at Crisfield High School were raised in the local area.

082 A few teachers come from outside of the area - mostly from Pennsylvania

- attracted by the proximity of Crisfield to the ocean.

086 The school reinforces the traditional local culture in several ways. The

Crisfield High School sports teams are named the “Crabbers.” The school
takes students on field trips to the Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art and to
Fox Island where they participate in environmental studies for several

122 Advanced classes and career fairs are ways that Crisfield High School

provides means for escape from traditional occupations. About 60% of
Crisfield graduates continue their education beyond high school.

130 Crisfield High School students are 60% - 70% Caucasian, 30% African

American, and 1% - 2% Hispanic.

Somerset County is just beginning to have a permanent Hispanic
population, and most of their children attend school, especially on the
elementary school level.

Parents of Hispanic Children are involved in Somerset County Public
Schools’ “parenting activities.”

Borden guesses the drop out rate at Crisfield High School is about 7% -
10%. Students drop out for a variety of reasons. Education is not a major
priority for those students who want to be watermen. More boys than girls
drop out.

In the past few years, roughly 15% - 20% of boys in Somerset County
went into traditional occupations such as seafood packaging, being
watermen, and farming. When Borden started his career in the 1970s,

35% - 40% went into traditional occupations.

Last year, 60% of students in area [unclear if he means in Crisfield or
Somerset County] were college or post-secondary boimd. College
educated students come back quite often to Crisfield after graduation to
visit relatives, to substitute in school system, to give addresses at
commencement exercises. Former students are usually the Crisfield High
commencement keynote speakers.

Roughly 5% -10% of student population joins military.

Very few of those in traditional occupations have been to college although
a few college educated people do crabbing and farming as hobbies or for
supplemental income in the summer months.

Religion is very strong in the Crisfield community. Crisfield Church
Alliance sponsors Crisfield High School’s Baccalaureate activities.
Borden thinks that most of the Crisfield community, like him, would
support prayer in the schools if the Federal Government would allow it.

The community is made up primarily of Baptists and Methodists with
some Catholics.

Borden doesn’t see an increase in materialism among Crisfield students.

At this point in the tape Kristi Bell takes over the questioning of
In 2003, a former Crisfield High basketball player who went on to coach
in West Virginia was the ke 3 mote speaker. A few years ago, a Crisfield
student who had become a medical doctor made the keynote address.

Each year at the Baccalaureate, a local minister gives an address, which
lets the graduating students know that if everything else fails they can
always turn back to God. It is usually done in the evening in the High
School’s auditorium.

Borden had teachers that encouraged him to continue his education after
high school. While serving in Vietnam in the late 1960s and early 1970s,
he prayed that if he could make it back to Marion, that is where he would
want to die. He then went to Saudi Arabia for the Persian Gulf War and
made it back to Marion again. He dropped out of National Guard service
after deciding two wars was enough.

Borden attended the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) in
Princess Aime.

Borden explains the reason for the large turn out at the recent funeral of
Mr. Miles, former Crisfield High School basketball coach. He attributes it
to the strength of Mr. Miles personality (describing him as a “little
comedian”) as well as the to the close-knit community in Crisfield.

Borden and Miles used to drive together from Marion to Crisfield and
back. Miles used to work at Woodson Middle School before he went to
Crisfield High School.

Both Borden and Miles were raised in large families where they learned to
share and get along with people. Borden thinks that the most effective way
to reach students is by being sincere and caring about students.

Borden and Miles played together on a softball league.

Borden thinks that many students lose much of their interest in sports by
the time they enter Crisfield High School. There are area leagues on the
Eastern Shore but not enough interest to establish an intra-community
league in Crisfield. Students are instead interested in working.

Borden went to a black high school where there was a strong discipline
code. Borden’s teachers were black. Borden was drafted in 1968 so was
not around when the Somerset County Public Schools were integrated in
1969. As far as he knows, there was not much of an adjustment problem
after integration of the public schools in Crisfield. He attributes this to the circumstance that black and white kids knew each other from playing
sports together. By 1973 when Borden started teaching in Crisfield,
integration was not a problem.

Somerset County schools are as good as anywhere. His graduating class
included 21 students. Some experiences were lacking, but students
attained a base knowledge.
Duration 28:10
Recording Date Jun 24, 2003
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Record #52

Type Audio
Title Crisfield Traditions in Time: Interview with Hazel Cropper, 26 June 2003
Description This interview was conducted with "Hurricane" Hazel Cropper, a Crisfield native and professional …
Duration 51:21

All Fields in This Record

Type Audio
Title Crisfield Traditions in Time: Interview with Hazel Cropper, 26 June 2003
Description This interview was conducted with "Hurricane" Hazel Cropper, a Crisfield native and professional crab picker who won the Crab Derby picking contest ten times at the time of the interview. In the interview, she describes her upbringing and introduction to crab picking, noting her strategies and shortcomings when it came to competitions. She also talks about how her talent benefitted her on the road, demonstrating her abilities in Philadelphia and Baltimore, impressing crowds, and earning some press coverage for her talents.

This interview is part of the Crisfield Traditions in Time Project.
For more information, see the [Edward H. Nabb Center Finding Aid](https://libapps.salisbury.edu/nabb-archives/finding-aid.php?id=3831).
Transcript 2003 Folklife Field School -Salisbury, Maryland
Audio Log: Team 3 “Celebratory Events in the Community”

Accession number: CTT-WC-A003

Researcher’s name: Wendy Clupper

Event: Interview with Hazel Cropper

Place: Mrs. Cropper’s home, Broadway and 3 rd Street, Crisfield, MD
Date: June 26, 2003

Co-workers present: Roberta Perkins, Jennifer Perunko

The following is a catalog of a tape-recorded interview with Mrs. Hazel
Cropper, Crisfield native and champion crab picker. Mrs. Cropper has won
the Crab Derby Crab Picking Contest ten times in the past.

015 -Biographical information about Mrs. Cropper (hereafter “HC”). Bom
Easter Sunday. 65 years old. Where she was raised in town. Birthplace of
parents. Number of children and grandchildren.

080 -Crabpicking. When started and who taught her. Techniques. Viewpoint
on the art of crabpicking. People she has trained. Travel to demonstrate crab
picking. Story of how she started competing in 1989. Rivalry with cousin.
HC record of 41 pounds, 9 ounces in 15 minutes.

-When she has been beaten. Her crab picking strategies. Protocol for picking
competitively. Rules of the competition. HC tells how her family has
benefited by her winning. How much she was able to make a day picking.

-HC shares viewpoint on the decline of the seafood industry.

364- HC remembrances of the Crab Derby

Side B

015 -HC shares the things she likes to do. Home life.
073 -Being an Elks daughter. Dances, fashion shows, open houses. Trips
with the Elks. Elks parade. Her influence now on youth.

226 -HC’s trip to Philadelphia, PA., to demonstrate crab picking. Won many
times in the years she traveled. Injury to hand affects her picking.

287 -Trip to Baltimore Aquarium to demonstrate her art. Press coverage.

305 -HC comments on her heritage and sense of pride. Proud of being a
native. Mayor presented her the keys to the city. HC feels she plays an
important part of the town history and knows the city is proud of her.
Duration 51:21
Recording Date Jun 26, 2003
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Record #53

Type Audio
Title Delmarva Folklife Project: Interview with Rachel Logan, 12 December 1997
Description This interview was conducted with Rachel Logan in Chincoteague, VA. In this interview, she talks …
Duration 1:06:40

All Fields in This Record

Type Audio
Title Delmarva Folklife Project: Interview with Rachel Logan, 12 December 1997
Description This interview was conducted with Rachel Logan in Chincoteague, VA. In this interview, she talks about her life and some foodways she's learned over the years. She speaks about her upbringing in Mappsville, VA, before moving to Chincoteague in 1942. She describes the various jobs she's had, eventually settling as a prep cook creating crab cakes and steaks for the Beachway Restaurant, noting some of the facets in how she made her crab cakes (recipe redacted). She talks about the African American community in Chincoteague, speaking about their work on the water and involvement in the seafood business. She talks more about life on the island, speaking of church life, music, and dancing. She mentions some of the changes on the island, mentioning how new generations don't want to continue family work, and the influences of churches in the area.
In part 2, she speaks more on the spiritual aspect of her life and the influence of religion on her and her family. Through the course of this section, she describes her personal relationship with god and her lifelong connection with the almighty. She speaks of prayer and how she prays for people, noting her unique method of praying. She also speaks of the changes in raising children today vs in the past, noting a greater presence of "the devil" in modern society.

This interview is part of the Delmarva Folklife Project. For more information, see the [Edward H. Nabb Center Finding Aid](http://libapps.salisbury.edu/nabb-archives/local-history-archives/2003.004).
Transcript Interview Log
Interviewee: Rachel Logan Tape #: VA/FT/12.12.401/500
Interviewer: Kelly Feltault # of Tapes: 1
Date: 12/12/97 #of Sides: 2
Location: Mrs. Logan’s home, Chincoteague VA
Topic: crab cake making; crochet; religious experience; women’s trads
Corresponding Photography Log #: VA/PS/12.12

Comments: File name: ft12401.doc. Jtalics indicate song title, book title or emphasis;
“quotations” indicate direct transcription; [brackets indicate additional information not on

Barbara Luehning recommended that I speak with Rachel Logan about crab cake
making. Mrs. Logan worked for Barb as a prep cook when Barb and her former husband
owned the Beachway Restaurant—at one point 3 generations of Logans worked in their
kitchen. The interview starts slow, I had just finished interviewing Maggie Trader and
arrived late to Mrs. Logan’s after lunch with Maggie and Roland. However, the
interview takes a turn as Mrs. Logan describes her crocheted work and subsequently her
experiences of talking with God and the Angels. She is reluctant to discuss community
history as she feels she is gossiping about friends and neighbors.

See fieldnotes for detailed descriptions of interview situation; FN12.12.97


getting the mic positioned [Rachel sits in a blue easy chair with her walker positioned in
front of her. A plastic rectangular basket is strapped to the front rung of the walker and
contains a comb, the TV remote, tissues, and other items. A large plastic drink cup with
a lid and straw is stuffed between the cushion of the chair and its arm]

Rachel gives her name, born in Mappsville VA, living on Chincoteague since 1942 when
married Joe Logan; lived in Philly, NY, Chester; how Joe was in service during W.W.II;
wounded, lost hands; returned to Chinco after he returned from war

jobs she’s had: hotel manager,
10 children in her family, mother was Fannie Griffin, father Douglas Griffin; 8 girls 2

boys; only 2 left, sister in Brooklyn and herself; most of the original island people passed
on; husband died in 79; his people are gone; how they owned all the land where the motel

is now and all the land around her house; how they sold it for nothing; she has held onto
her land;

more on jobs she’s had: trapped or prepped [? I understood this to be prepped in the
interview situation, though it sounds like trapped.]; cleaning at base; picked up eggs for
Holly Farms in Snow Hill; prep cook Chinco Inn; how husband didn’t allow her to work
when alive; when kids started going to school she went to work;

how she fell and hurt her back and hips; not working for over 2 years; making crab cakes,
cutting steaks; duties of a prep cook; how island talk says she is the best crab cake maker
on island; she got big monetary tips for her crab cakes, no bones etc.;

“What did you put in your crab cakes?”

“Tlaughter] that’s a secret. You don’t give away your secrets you keep that.” got to pick
it good; going over picked crab meat again to pick out shell parts left in; medium spicy
crab cakes; happy customers

how she developed recipe; is she like it everyone else might like it; not hard; her own
way of making everything, experiments with food; learned on her own; likes to mess
around with food; how Klaus [Barb’s husband] would watch her and write down
everything because she wouldn’t tell him; recipes for clam casino

her autonomy in the restaurant; if she didn’t think it was right she wouldn’t do it; how she
was always fair;

moving to NY before she got married; land and property rights disputed now;

her children; other daughter worked for Barbara too; working with several generations of
her family in one restaurant; raising children; daughter in service [points to photo on wall
of girl in uniform];

her accident: 6 crushed vertebrae in neck; 2 new hip sockets; bursitis in arm;
[granddaughter enters with Rachel’s daughter, they head for the kitchen]

African American community on island; location of community on island: where all the
motels are now near Logan Ln; all owned homes etc., then Maddox began buying them
out—really they gave it to him, only $700 or $800 dollars; old heads died out and
younger ones went to city

[lunch frying in back ground]

black community working the water; claming oystering; working on fish boats; nothing

else to do; oyster house shucking; Bill Birch owned one & Tom Reed was the other; Bill
Bunton, now dead;

community life on island: used to have a church on Wilis St. now land has a motel on it;
made own entertainment; visiting from house to house; drinking and playing cards;
movies etc. went to mainland; before the rd across had to go to Franklin City on boat;
wooden bridges with tolls;

“Tlaughter] there are lots of tales I could tell, but [laughter]”
“Well let me hear one of them”
“Oh no, no, no, no. I don’t bother other peoples’ business”

music on island: gramophones, everyone had one; Bessie and Mammie sang; says she
forgot a lot; no clubs on island just went from house to house; would play guitars and
mouth organs; Jews harp; made own and did dancing; kids played in glades;

how her husband and friend Ed Taylor explored old Indian grave behind her house;
legend of Indians buried with gold and her husband hunting for it, buried in the glade
[this area of Chinco is very marshy and little ponds and grass swamps abound]; nobody
got them; found a cast iron casket there; sold to undertaker for junk for a dollar,
undertaker would charge people to come see it; shaped like a man; lots of old tales;

when she came to Chinco. all roads were oyster shell no paved roads; none of the motels
here most of island chicken houses;

more on her husband not letting her work; how she got around that with help of aunt;
husband couldn’t work [no hands]; worked at Landmark Crab house prepping food,
making crab cakes stuffed shrimp etc.;

women’s roles in community: shucking oysters; house work; work for Collins cleaning
houses; then when motels built started cleaning at motels;

[granddaughter starts crying in kitchen, audible on tape]

always domestic work; no factories here; changes on island; working in summer for
money in winter when no jobs; shucked in winter; neighbors helped neighbors much
more than now; you don’t have you don’t have and those that do don’t help; transplants
have bought up land and once sold you can’t even let your cat cross their yard; everything
brotherly and sisterly until they arrived, color made no difference back then; church
didn’t provide support that way, just a meeting house, churches didn’t have money;

black churches on island; methodist church was on willis St. where seashell is; property
disputes over this, guy never paid for the church land; black people here were well off;
started in 1940s selling land; young ones moved to Atlantic city, Philly; old heads died
out; young ones didn’t want to shuck oysters, no other jobs;

her father worked on the farm; got a dollar a day; plowed with a mule; potato farm; she
got tired of picking up potatoes and that’s when she left for NY with her sister; did
domestic work there; left NY to Chester went to Philly, got married and came home;
lived in NY in the 1930s; she was the smartest in family about working and so left to
support the younger kids; working on the farms; bugs eating you; bug repellent they had
back then made you break out;

[should have pursued life in NYC in 1930s]

I return to the crab cake topic; Rachel laughs; cakes are made by hand but meat weighed
out; [Rachel begins to tell me about putting the cracker meal over the cake and stops,
pauses, then begins:]

“OK, OK. use eggs, 2 lbs of meat I would use 4 eggs. . .” she ends up giving me her
recipe, but stipulates that THE RECIPE WILL NOT BE GIVEN OUT TO ANYONE,

Rachel says that everyone should do it the way they want to make a crab cake; stuffed
flounder stuffed with same crab cake mix, same for shrimp; fish recipes; drum fish
sandwich; not fancy food but natural

her daughter is a certified cook; experiments with food too; how Rachel likes to cook;
likes the experimenting;

how churches won’t allow clubs on the island; she used to teach Sunday school; preacher
came from mainland; singing in the choir; belongs to St. John’s in Atlantic; born Jan 26
1926; [phone rings]; traditions passed on to daughters: stay close to the Lord, crochet

commentary on society; saving your soul and staying ready;

nobody taught Rachel how to do anything, she taught herself by watching others; smart
that way; that’s how she learned to crochet; we look at her afghans; hands give her
problems now; working on a shell pattern; she made quilt tops but never quilted them;
preferred knitting and crochet; used to make hats and pocket books; [comments to her
granddaughter about safety and the kerosene stove]

BEGIN SIDE B: VA/FT/12.12.401/500

[As side A ended I got out my camera and took photos of Rachel, her afghans, and her
granddaughter. The afghans I draped over the couch and as I photographed them her
daughter and granddaughter left the house. Rachel began telling me of a religious
experience she had while recuperating from her accident. We begin in mid sentence as
she describes God talking to her]

God tells Rachel she is rich: diamonds=eyes, teeth=pearls, health=gold, silver=hair; be
thankful because these will fade;

how when she gets sick he sends an angel to look down on her; angel sits over her bed;
story of a picture of Jesus she had over her door that was about to fall and she believed
that if it hit the floor she would die;

God been with her since the womb; never cursed like others, afraid to; used to drink but
He stopped her by taking her breath away, one night after drinking;

story of being accepted into the Kingdom of Heaven; in bed couldn’t breath or move;
spoke to her; in the Lord’s room with Disciples;

praying; needs; asks for others [Rachel’s voice begins to punctuate sentences, she is
moving into a rhythmical speech pattern]; images of heaven; Lord’s influence on seasons,
weather etc.; [some rhyming here]; how time is winding up; things coming to pass in the
bible; raising children today and when she was raising hers; manifestation of the devil in
contemporary society;

Lord been talking to her as long as she can remember; story of 7 or 8 years old and in
field picking up potatoes when God spoke to her

[see Johnson, Clifton H., ed. 1969. God Struck Me Dead: Religious Conversion
Experiences and Autobiographies of Ex-Slaves. Philadelphia: Pilgrim. for similar
conversion/religious experiences. |

can’t tell everything he says to her; He always reveals an answer to her; through angels
etc.; hanging over head while she lay in bed; how husband was an alcoholic who believed
in new cars and bottles; story of how she was laying in bed asleep and Lord spoke to her,
she became dead as usual [couldn’t breath, couldn’t move]; saw ladder from earth to
heaven with angels climbing up; couldn’t wake up until she got finished with the vision;
how she knew Princess Diana was going to die, Lord took her by hand and they flew over
the tunnel where the accident happened, saw princess dressed in pink suit and hat; how
she told the children about her vision;

how God brought her back from her accident; couldn’t move, go to the bathroom etc. and
now can move around;

how it feels when the Lord is with you; can’t breath, can’t move, wide a wake but can’t
move; wonderful feeling; how this earth is going to pass away but God is forever; never
seen a U-haul taking people’s wealth to put in their grave; material things only go so far;
God takes care of her;

always planting her seed; Lord’s seed; people always come to Rachel for advice and
comfort; plain Rachel, what you see is what you get;

gets praying and can’t stop; just holding her mouth open and the words just rolling out;
sometimes she tapes herself to hear it; tapes don’t sound like her; gave them away;
people try to pray like her; call on her in church to pray; how her mother was a great
prayer; uncle too;

how she is never alone; you might her here from outside the house and it sounds like the
house is full but it’s only the lord and her; she is singing or praying or something; how
she is just waiting on the Lord to come now, had a happy life

END TAPE VA/FT/12.12.401/500
Duration 1:06:40
Recording Date Dec 12, 1997
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Record #54

Type Audio
Title Interview with Charlene Boston (Part 1), 1 May 2006
Description Charlene Boston was an educator in Baltimore City beginning in the late 1960's, later becoming th…
Duration 31:20

All Fields in This Record

Type Audio
Title Interview with Charlene Boston (Part 1), 1 May 2006
Description Charlene Boston was an educator in Baltimore City beginning in the late 1960's, later becoming the Superintendent of schools for the Wicomico County Public School system in Salisbury, MD, until her retirement in June 2006. In this interview, she describes her upbringing in Baltimore, her education, and the beginning of her teaching career around Baltimore City in the late 1960's.

This interview is part of the Teaching American History Program.
For more information, see the [Edward H. Nabb Center Finding Aid](https://libapps.salisbury.edu/nabb-archives/finding-aid.php?id=1550).
Transcript Interviewer: Richard Wilson
Narrator: Charlene Boston
Date: May 1st, 2006
Keywords: Baltimore city, Morgan college, education, teaching

Richard Wilson (RW): This is an interview with Dr. Charlene Cooper Boston, superintendent of schools for Wicomico county. Dr. Boston has agreed to this interview as part of the Teaching American History program, a program which in short—in part includes oral history interviews, the interest of the interview on ethnicity and gender, as they relate to Dr. Boston's life, the interviewers are Donna Messick, Richard Wilson. And we'll start with a biographical sketch of the interviewee and then move into the rest of the questions that we have. Before we start, do you have any questions at all, about the process or?
Charlene Boston (CB): No, I don't.
RW: Okay, first one, I need a date of birth?
CB: December, 1944.
RW: Place of Birth?
CB: Baltimore, Maryland.
RW: Where were you educated, elementary?
CB: Elementary education in Baltimore County and Baltimore City.
RW: Which schools?
CB: Elementary schools? In Baltimore City and Baltimore County, Abraham Lincoln Elementary School in Baltimore City was the last elementary school.
RW: And secondary, high schools?
CB: High school, Edmondson High School in Baltimore, Maryland.
RW: And, the different jobs that you've had?
RW: Well, I worked in Public Education. Prior to that, I worked in a sweat factory for one summer in Philadelphia, I worked as a teacher's aide in Philadelphia schools, and summer, I worked out in a restaurant, beach restaurant.
RW: Were you a teacher at any point?
CB: Oh yeah, I was a teacher, principal—
CB: Where were you a principal?
CB: Beechfield Elementary School in Baltimore city.
RW: Teacher, principal?
CB: Assistant superintendent.
RW: In the city?
CB: In the city, all these are public education, all were in Baltimore City. Associate superintendent in Baltimore City. Coordinator of Early Childhood Education.
RW: That's what your Ph.D was work was in, right?
CB: Yes.
RW: Okay. That's right.
[Boston asks for more details on why her birth date is needed, she and Wilson discuss why, interview resumes at 04:11]
RW: Okay, we're going to start with questions that deal with childhood, and the first question is who was the oldest person you can remember in the family as a child?
CB: I can remember my Aunt Maude(?). Her name was Maude Moorhead(?) and at that time I might have been about seven or eight years of age, and I remember her because she was my grandmother's aunt.
RW: So she was an elderly person, what was it about her that you remember?
CB: She was very stern, and sort of, I don't want to say mean, but perhaps mean might be the correct adjective. Very quiet person, sort of a matriarch figure in the family, in terms of my mother being afraid of her and everybody being fearful of her, and you didn't go into the refrigerator without asking, I remember that! [both laugh] You had to ask permission to go into the refrigerator but she was an elderly person at that time to me, and I was seven or eight. So she died when she was probably about 60 years old, which seemed elderly to me.
RW: It doesn't seem celebrity, anymore.
CB: No, it doesn't it.
RW: What kind of things do you remember as a young girl, pre-teen?
CB: Pre-teen, I remember family outings, visiting our relatives. I remember going to cook outs, our family members believed in cook outs, and that's a way for family members to get together. Of course, I remember going to church. My grand—when we moved from Baltimore County, at first I lived in Baltimore County and went to elementary school there for a short time, and when we moved to Baltimore City, I remember my grandmother trying to find a church within the community, and she found a Baptist church that she liked. It wasn't the closest church and I marvel now, thinking about it, I wonder how she found that church, I don't know but that was very important to her. And that church became a very important part of our lives as pre-teens and teenagers, as the family. In fact, the pastor of the church introduced me to my husband later, and we got married with that church, the church moved but the pastor was the same pastor and he married us later. So finding a church was sort of important to us. And of course, all the activities of the church, they had a Girl Scout troop as a part of the church and I was a part of the Girl Scouts. I was in the choir, but I couldn't sing.
RW: They wouldn't let you sing?
CB: No, they would let me sing, but I couldn't sing. I had poor talent. We had to be the choir, all children had to be in the choir in the family and I couldn't sing. So I had to find other things that I can do a little bit better than singing. And so I would be in the plays and read the announcements in church and—
RW: I don't think I've ever met anybody who said "I can't sing."
CB: I can't sing. It's a fact. It doesn't mean I don't sing, I do sing. But we had a grand time, we would go to my great aunts' homes, great aunts, I had several of them. And we would to their homes like, Christmas time. My grandmother, who was living with us, wanted to be with her sisters and so we would pack up in a car and hit the road. She was living—my great aunt was living in Philadelphia, so we would get in the car and take all the toys they would be hidden in the trunk, but we didn't know that they were there. And we would go up to Philadelphia at that time to be with my great aunt, Anisi(?). And in fact, Anisi was a person that I lived with for about three years during the school year. I went to a school in Chester, Pennsylvania, junior high. You didn't ask me what junior high I went to, so. I went to junior high in Chester, Pennsylvania with my aunt and my great aunt and great uncle. So that was very, very grand time. They didn't have any children at that time. So I became like their daughter.
RW: That was okay with you?
CB: It was fine, yeah, it was nice.
RW: As a teenager do you remember your family discussing world events and national politics, stuff like that?
CB: Even as a child, you says a teenager, but I firstl remember them talking about who was running for president. Adlai Stevenson was their candidate of choice. Of course, I didn't know one from the other. I think I might have been before school age probably. But think they were disappointed. And whoever won the election, I guess it was Eisenhower, for some reason said that that was interesting for them to be talking about President in front of us, and discussing the pros and cons of that. Then as a teenager, of course, they were talking about world events, talking about integration and segregation and discussing people who were advocates or supporters of improving integration and helping to desegregate schools and that sort of thing. So they were always talking about that, my father and mother.
RW: What do you know about your high school years? Positive and negative?
CB: It was a good high school. I remember the colonel was our principal.
RW: The colonel?
CB: Yes, he was a retired colonel.
RW: Was this in Edmondson?
CB: Edmondson High School. And he would have a standard parade rest, and marching in the halls with straight lines and of course, our skirts could be only a certain length, I remember that, and we could not carry shopping bags, for some reason. That was before the book bag craze of today, so we had a lot of books, so some errant students would have shopping bags and he would demand that they would discard those and get proper tools to carry your books in. So anyway, the Colonel was there, and that's all I remember about him; I had no other interactions with him. I remember my science teacher, Sue Miles(?). She taught me biology and very stern. I later—it was funny because she became a principal later. Although I was not her supervisor, I had interactions with her in the central office because I was in the central office by that time. But she was my 10th grade teacher of biology, she was wonderful: no nonsense, excellent person, gave me a level of science, and I felt very competent in that arena of science. She recommended me for advanced placement class in science, which I participated in, did very well. But she was a great teacher. I remember another teacher that I had, I can't remember his name. I remember his face, though. I hated the man, so I guess it's good that I won't say his name for all to know. He taught me trig, and he thought that I was not able to learn trig, he didn't know why I was in that class. He thought that, you know, I should be on some sort of other class, a basic class probably, but not in trig. Of course my family members would always say, "You can learn this, you don't have to worry about what he has to say about you. You can learn." And so, he was quite a deterrent to several African-Americans—but there were only three of us in the class anyway, so he didn't think that we belonged in that class. My counselor, I remember her, she was a nice person, but she was a person who was not forward thinking either. I remember her saying to me, "Your record is very good. You'd make a nice appearance. You speak well. When you leave high school, we're going to make sure you get a good job." And that she did, she gave me no catalog, she told me nothing about college. She gave me no indication that I should try to sit for any S.A.T. or any of that sort, which was, to me, certainly demeaning, because in my class, other kids were saying they were showing the catalogs. So I was in a college preparatory class, so I was not getting college catalogs. I had good grades, later I found that in the science area I was probably in the 95th percentile in whatever test it was that they gave us because I had good science background. So, my mother and father said to me, "We don't care what they say, your cousin went to Morgan. Your great uncle went to Morgan. Your grandmother went to Normal School," which was above college. And remember, my mother's 82 years old, so for my grandmother have gone to college and my other great aunts, they said, "You are going to college." So only because of my parents am I sitting here with you today—not only because that they saw that I could go to college and had me circumvent the high school process and apply, which I was accepted, evidently, into college. So I remember some of the positive things. We had a long-running (?) cheering(?) squad that I was on, I could swim. They had a great athletic program at Emerson at that time, and many of the kids in my class would go to a TV show at the time, called Buddy Deane Dance Show.
RW: Before your time.
CB: And so we all remark, "Colored people are on Buddy Deane!" but that was when African Americans could go on Buddy Deane, because the other white kids in my class would go on Buddy Deane show, but I couldn't go on the days that they would go. So, they had a certain day that they would let African Americans go. And so, I was on Buddy Deane when they would let colored children on Buddy Deane.
RW: Buddy Deane came here to Salisbury and performed several different times.
CB: Is that right?
RW: Yeah, when I was in high school.
CB: Oh, so you were in the same class as me. You're about the same time.
RW: I'm older than you are.
CB: I don't know about that!
RW: I remember just going down the questions just so nicely. I was going to ask you, what made you decide to go to college? And somebody decided for you.
CB: Well, I think I always thought I was going to go to college, that was what was so interesting about the counselor who didn't even approach me about it, because my family members said, "You're a teacher." I was teaching in Sunday school, I became the Superintendent of the Sunday school when I was in high school, Young People's Department. So the thought of not going to college, probably on my family member's mind, they said, "Oh, she's definitely going to go to college," and when I came back and said that I was, I had a job at Gas and Electric, which worked nice for a summer job, even though that was going to be a job for me, for my career. So, family members didn't think about it(?). So of course, they had to scrape up the money, for them it was a lot of money for us to go to college. And so that's where I began to work in the summer time so that I could have money for clothes. My family paid the tuition, but for extra things that you might want, clothes, and to belong to a sorority and all that, then my mother and father said we would have to work for those things. We'll provide the basic education: your books and your tuition, if you want money for pretty clothes and to belong to organizations and all of that, we don't have the money for that.
RW: Was that right when (inaudible name) was there?
CB: I don't know that name [both speaking] I can remember somebody—I was a cheerleader at Morgan too, by the way. I would say his name and you would remember him, he was a football player who became a club player and—
RW: Morgan had several of those.
CB: Yes, in those days we had quite a few people who were great athletes.
RW: Alright, how long did it take you to declare a major? or did you just, go in?
CB: I was right away, I knew I wanted to be in education, which is interesting. I remember when you go to Morgan, you have to take biology, as a biological science or something 101 was a course and my professor said, "you don't have to take this course," he exempted me from the course [laughs] which I thought was great. I said, "will I still get the credit?" he said, "well, fine you can get the credit." He said, "but you don't need to take this course," which was interesting, and he wanted me to really go into sciences, but I decided to go into education early on.
RW: What do you remember most about your academic life as a college student at Morgan?
CB: It was good, most of the professors seem to—if I can recall, back in those days—they did fine, they were supportive persons. Many of them didn't get too personal that I can recall, though some of the professors later have said to me, "I remember you when you were a student," but I didn't think that they had any personal relationship with me, but later they said that they did which is interesting.
RW: Wish you'd known that at the time, huh?
CB: [laughs] Right? It'd have been nice to know that then! But you know, they were, I don't know, they were fine.
RW: How was your social life in college?
CB: Fine, fine, I was—
RW: You cheered.
CB: I was a cheerleader. I was a part of a Greek letter organization on campus called Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, and it's a public service organization that's still going strong across the world, probably with 200,000 members.
RW: And you're still active in it?
CB: Mm-hmm, I was the past president of a chapter, alumni chapter. So, I was active on campus and we did public service projects then, and that's what we continued to do.
RW: Were you living at home?
CB: Yes, for the most part, yes. Only one semester did I stay on campus, but I was living at home and commuting because I lived in Baltimore City and Morgan College at the time was on, not too far. I mean, it was, we had to have busses to get there.
RW: Was it off 33rd street?
CB: 33rd street, and you'd have to ride the busses to get there, which I did do, and that was fine. Sometimes we would have friends who had cars, I remember Willy(?), her name was Willy May(?) had car when I was about a junior and she would drive. I don't know how she got to have a car, but, she lives not to far from me, and her family didn't need it any more. I think—this was an old car, I do remember that because I remember that there was a hole in the floor of the car and you could see the street [laughs] but it got us to school!
RW: You probaly enjoyed the freedom that it had.
CB: Oh yeah, it was nice being able to be in somebody's car. But other than that, it was a good, it was a fine college. I remember when I graduated, I was so impressed that the president of the college, acted like he knew my name. I have later learned the technique: when they say your names and then you come up to get your diploma, the president will shake your hand and he will say, "You've done a fine job, Ms. Cooper." I said, "How does he know me?" I had, listen, three, four hundred students in the class, 500 kids, how did—but he had just heard my name announced when they read your names, you understand, but not understanding all of that, I remember him saying my name to me as I got my diploma. I just thought that was so grand. Then later, afterwards, parents were on the lawn taking pictures, and my family was so impressed that he would take a picture with me. He came up and, "Ms. Cooper!" Oh, and he would, "Let's take a picture!" and he stood there and so the family members could take pictures, of course they're very proud of when when someone is graduating in the family. And so, the president of the college, Jenkins, yeah, Jenkins was the president of the college and he acted like he really knew me and he was a very, very nice, man, and maybe he did [know me], I'm not saying that he didn't, but I just—I was so impressed that the man knew my name. [Laughs]
RW: Let me ask you the next question that pertains to that. How well did you do in college? You said you'd done very well?
CB: No, I did good, it was fine. I guess I could've eliminated some of the social activities and I would have done a better job but I did okay. I was a good student.
RW: Okay. What decisions did you make after after graduation? Sort of like the immediate six months to a year time period.
CB: I think I worked that summer, or did I? I may have worked in a, as an aide that next summer which was getting me closer to my profession, and [pauses] I guess that's about it, I worked.
RW: Okay. Where did you get your start in education?
CB: I worked in the school where I was a student, where I student taught.
RW: In Baltimore City?
CB: Yes, the principal—I was a student teacher at Margaret Brent School, elementary school 53, which was located near the headquarters of the central administration the city schools. And they had a special project there, when I was in college and I spent a year as a student teacher there. So, back in the sixties, late sixties, when I graduated, before I left the school, the principal said, "we have an opening for first grade next September we know what you're capable of doing, will you sign off?" I never went to North Avenue to sign anything, I signed the papers right there in his office in the spring of '66 and knew I had a job before September, worked in the summer, and then went to to my school, which was the same school—in fact, it was the same room where I was doing my student teaching because the teacher who was the cooperating teacher got a promotion and he knew she was leaving that post. So I got to be in the same room where I was, in fact, what happened, she was working on her master's, and at that time, African-Americans couldn't get their master's in Maryland, they had to go out of state. And so she left, I guess in May or late April to go work on her master's.
RW: Columbia?
CB: Yes, Columbia.
RW: I know that was where the African Americans went—
CB: Yes, and so she left me with the class. And at that time, so think about it, I was left with a class for like two months. Of couse, they never gave me any extra pay or anything like that but, I guess we didn't know any better and I took her class to the end of the year. Now, she went on to get her master's degree. Wanna know something? that, which is interesting that shows you a little bit about how things were because, when I went to the school my first day as a teacher, I wore a pillbox hat and white gloves. [Laughs] I had a little hat on and white gloves when I went to work my first day. Of course, you couldn't wear pants.
RW: Right, men had to wear coat and ties.
CB: Right, and [pauses] I was fine with my first, you know, I had a wonderful first year—no problems whatsoever. In fact, some of the other seasoned teachers would come down to my room to ask me how did I get such order, and what was I doing, and I seemed to make it look easy. It was interesting because there were teachers there at that time who did not have four-year degrees. They had had, I guess, two years of college and they could be teachers and now, of course, that's not the case. But there was lots of teachers there who only had a high school diploma at first, and so the principal was trying to put in more qualified people in those classes.
RW: My mother-in-law was a teacher in Baltimore County, and she only had two years of college.
CB: Right, that's right. So that's the way it was. In college, I was a part of—you asked me this and I didn't say it—a four(?) foundation called Project Mission. It was a program designed to take college people and give them experiences in the inner cities and to work, we were working with very skilled teachers, we called them cooperating teachers, and had them training, Coppin, Morgan, and Towson worked together on this project and got a grant. And we as students, we were college students at the time, we got 1,000, it was $1200 to be a part of the program and to commit to teaching afterwards in an inner city school. That was the commitment that we had to make. But in addition to that, it was excellent training. Excellent, excellent training, wonderful, wonderful. Out of the program, I know at least three superintendents came out of the program. There was a guy named Edward, I forgot his last name, he became a superintendent; Walter Ampre became a superintendent, and I became a superintendent, and I think there may be more, but I just don't remember some of the other people who were in that class of young people. So that would have been—we all had to commit, though, to working in inner urban areas for a couple of years at least, and we all did.
RW: What are the steps between the first-grade, first-year first-grade teacher, and where you ended up at the end of your career in Baltimore City? What kind of things did you do?
CB: Well, professional development ongoing, that was the whole—one of the important aspects of our work as student teachers we continued the training and we would do it not on college campus, we would do right there within school buildings in the city, and the professors would come to the schools and give us training. So then, when I became an associate teacher, I continued learning from my supervisors and that sort of thing. But then trying new things, I remember trying, applying, Did I apply? I think I applied, well I was asked to apply for a special project, early childhood program, and Betty Showell(?), who was my cooperating teacher had now progressed to be a project manager or something of a special project. So I guess that's why she asked me to participate. But as teachers we were training, getting training in early childhood and finding out what people were doing across the country. We had people from PIT [Pennsylvania Institute of Technology], they were doing some (inaudible) things in early childhood. Mazar(?), I guess I can remember some of these people's, some of the names of some of the people, we had Engelman, the writer(?) Engelman, at the time, you know Engelman?
RW: No.
CB: Well, anyway, all these great minds talking to us, and we would go visit their programs and try to get the best program design together, so I was involved in a lot of that
[Recording ends]
To listen to and read the transcripts of parts 2 & 3, [click here.]( https://libapps.salisbury.edu/enduring-connections/media/interview-with-charlene-boston-part-2--3-1-may-2006)
Duration 31:20
Recording Date May 1, 2006
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Record #55

Type Audio
Title Interview with Charlene Boston (Part 2 & 3), 1 May 2006
Description Charlene Boston was an educator in Baltimore City beginning in the late 1960's, later becoming th…
Duration 34:07

All Fields in This Record

Type Audio
Title Interview with Charlene Boston (Part 2 & 3), 1 May 2006
Description Charlene Boston was an educator in Baltimore City beginning in the late 1960's, later becoming the Superintendent of schools for the Wicomico County Public School system in Salisbury, MD, until her retirement in June 2006. In this interview, she describes how she attained the position of Superintendent of Schools as well as some of the challenges she faced in the position. She also speaks about racial issues in the 1960's and during her time as an educator.
The second recording (part 3) is the final minutes of the interview. The interviewers and Dr. Boston chat about her family name, Goldsboro, and the origins of the name.

This interview is part of the Teaching American History Program.
For more information, see the [Edward H. Nabb Center Finding Aid](https://libapps.salisbury.edu/nabb-archives/finding-aid.php?id=1550).
Transcript Interviewers: Richard Wilson and Donna Messick

Narrator: Charlene Boston

Date: May 1st, 2006

This recording was posted in multiple parts. To listen to and read the transcript of the first part, [click here.](https://enduringconnections.salisbury.edu/media/interview-with-charlene-boston-part-1-1-may-2006)

[First audio recording begins, part 2 of interview with Charlene Boston]

Charlene Boston: When I was in the elementary school, after leaving that, I became a preschool teacher and I was a coordinator, what we called a program assistant.

Richard Wilson: There was a lot of programs—this was a time of great change in the city, right?

Charlene Boston: Right, yes, yes. So after that, just continued on and took various positions within the school district. I loved being a principal. I think the best jobs, though, were being a principal, probably, being a teacher, with the most satisfaction in some ways. I was an assistant superintendent for special projects, and there I worked with new schools which were charter-like schools, which was interesting. I also worked in public relations, legislative affairs, grant management, [pauses] parent involvement, that sort of thing. I was associate superintendent for external relations, and that's how I got to work with all of that. Then I went back to working with schools when I was what they called an area executive officer, and that's a person who supervises principals and I supervised, at one point, fifty schools—imagine what you can get done—and then 20 schools, 23 schools.

Richard Wilson: Did you ever supervise Boyse Mosley?

Charlene Boston: No, by the time I came on board I was a coordinator and Boyse was a regional superintendent, but I never supervised him, he was a little bit before my time.

Richard Wilson: I don't think anybody ever supervised him.

Charlene Boston: [Laughs] I had some good ones, though, I mean I had some—I had Poly[technic Institute], Western [High School], those were some of my schools that I worked with when Ian Cohen was principal there, at Poly, for example, and I supervised Roland Park when Mariale Hardiman was a principal, that became a Blue Ribbon school during then.

Richard Wilson: Mike (inaudible) still teachers there.

Charlene Boston: Oh, yes. Yes, I know.

Richard Wilson: He was one of my first-year teachers when I was at (Green Street?)

Charlene Boston: Say my name to him, he'll remember me.

Richard Wilson: Even though he's Jewish, we exchange Christmas cards every year.

Charlene Boston: [laughs] Yes, I know.

Richard Wilson: Thirty years.

Charlene Boston: Oh, isn't that splendid.

Richard Wilson: How about Leroy (inaudible)?

Charlene Boston: I know that name though no, I did not.

Richard Wilson: Okay, we can go back, we're gonna move it forward. Sort of an oddball question but who has had the most positive influence on your life, as an educator? Could you think of somebody?

Charlene Boston: Well, just one or two people. My late aunt, her name is-her name was, we called her Leesee Jones(?). I lived with my great aunt and uncle when I was in junior high for three years.

Richard Wilson: In Pennsylvania?

Charlene Boston: Mm-hmm, in Pennsylvania and I say that because she was the kind of person that pushed me to do things like lead a Sunday school group or speak out at church. She was a good role model. She was always very—she was the kind of person who would have little social activities in her home, and I'd have to place the silver and china in a certain way. She had all kinds of little plates for salad, and you had to have a bread plate, and you had to have a fork for your salad, and all of that. So, that was her take on things. She had become a superintendent of schools in North Carolina, rural area, colored superintendent, if you will. And she said that I should, I would be a superintendent one day, never thought I would, but that's what she—her take on the situation was. So, she was a person who continued to push for me to be in school, go to college, be a schoolteacher, but she said I would be a superintendent. Now, that was probably coming from her background, where she was a superintendent. And, you know, that had to be in the '30s, or a long time ago, 1930s probably. Now, the second one was my cooperating teacher, Betty Showell. Remember, I had her for a year. So, it was a love-hate relationship. And Betty was an interesting person, she later became my project director, remember when I went to the Early Childhood Program. So again, she was my boss, so to speak, in this setting when I was a teacher, I was a teacher of four-year-olds at that time and she would come in to see what we were doing. She was the kind of project director in and out of the classrooms, interacting with us, interacting with the children, and we had a very basic design that we had to administer to be in this program where you would do—kids would be in play centers, but we couldn't just let them play, you had to interact with them, give them feedback, ask questions because you're moving them through cognitive levels of development through your questioning. So, she came in one day, she said, "You don't seem to be getting the most out of these children." So, I said, "Hey, here it is." So she went over to the center, children were playing with pots and pans and so forth. So she said, "Oh, children, what are you doing?" So the little children, from very depressed neighborhoods said, "I don't know" she said, "No, you're making the soup, aren't you?" They said, "okay, okay, we can" so she said, "What are you putting into the soup?--Remember, we're trying to develop language here." She turned to me and said, and I said, [stutters], she said, "What are you putting in the soup?" It was a little carrot, you know carrot, pretend piece of carrot. So she said, "What is this?" He said, "I don't know," "Carrots," she said, "say it again, carrots." The little boy says carrots, she put it in the pot. She said, "What kind of soup you have now?" "I don't know" "Carrot soup. What is it? Carrot soup." So she did this again, "Potato, what is this?" He didn't know, "Say potato." "Potato." "Put it in the pot, what kind of soup are we going to have?" "I don't know." "Potato soup," so finally, she picks up some of the peas. She put them in the pot, "What kind of soup would this be?" He said, "Doodoo soup," [laughs] you might want to erase that. [both laugh]

Richard Wilson: I can see.

Charlene Boston: It was so funny, but she was good.

Richard Wilson: He was trying!

Charlene Boston: He was trying, but when you work with three-year-olds, you can have so many and so many encounters with them and so many stories that of what they would say to us. But she was a kind of teacher who could pull a lot from students, and here I was again, her student, so to speak, as she was trying to make sure that I was doing a good job as a teacher and pulling, you know, the most from those kids.

Richard Wilson: Let me wrap up this sort of segment by asking you, what was the most amazing things that happened to you before coming to Wicomico County?

Charlene Boston: [pause] Amazing?

Richard Wilson: I know there are several, but it's just a matter of-.

Charlene Boston: No, you can say wonderful, what I got wonderful was when I got married

Richard Wilson: Change my question to wonderful, then, instead of amazing.

Charlene Boston: I don't know about amazing.

Richard Wilson: We haven't talked about your marriage yet; I didn't know that.

Charlene Boston: When I got married, I thought that was wonderful. I don't know if amazing.

Richard Wilson: Well, if you're still married after?

Charlene Boston: After 29, oh let's see, I would say about 29, 26 years.

Richard Wilson: See I've got you, I'm at 40

Charlene Boston: I didn't marry until late in life. But [pauses] so I guess that's amazing then, that I finally got married [laughs]

Richard Wilson: Amazing that you're still married.

Charlene Boston: And he's such a nice guy. I was teaching at elementary school, and my pastor introduced us, and we started dating, he would come over for Sunday dinner. He's a nice guy, and we had a wonderful, wonderful wedding. It was very nice, open to the entire community, almost. And I think that's so special. And he's very nice, a very understanding man, especially since I've been superintendent.

Richard Wilson: I was thinking the same thing.

Charlene Boston: So, other than that, I don't know, [both speaking]

Richard Wilson: Oh, no, that's fine, that's fine. Now, let's switch. What circumstances led to your selection as superintendent here in Wicomico County? How come you came to be where you are?

Charlene Boston: I was approached to apply for the superintendency in Wicomico County, they said they would like a nice pool of candidates to have diversity in the group of those who are applying. I was by this time an assistant superintendent level called an Area Executive Officer in Baltimore City. I had a district of schools; my schools were doing very well. Many of the schools were recognized by the state for academic improvement, particularly if you think about Baltimore City with many challenges that the schools faced at that time. So, I still do. So, I had been successful with working with principals. I had a professional development plan that involved key people from the State Department who would come and do training for my principals. I used my monthly meetings for training and so it was so satisfying, I was doing well. I had people and staff help me with special ed, and so I was feeling fine, although I was at an age that I could retire from Baltimore City. So, I said, "Well, I'll apply. Why not? If I don't get it, fine. If I do, well it would be good too, but I have a home here in Baltimore City and if I want to retire, I can, if I want to stay, I can. So, once I did do that, I put my hat and my head in the ring and applied. Then I found it became a public process by which the community had input by asking me questions at a session. I had a session with a group of teachers. I had students for lunch. I didn't do much eating, but they were there eating and asking me questions. Of course, the Board had its formal interview process, and during that time I submitted my résumé and submitted some of my accomplishments. By this time, I had been a consultant to two other school districts in early childhood education. When summertime or vacation time, I would take in work for other counties and other places, particularly in the seventies and then in the eighties I did some of that too. So, after the interviews, I, they—Oh! By the way, they also had me to complete a video interview. The four finalists had to answer some questions on a videotape, and so I later found that they thought that was, I had done a good job with that.

Richard Wilson: How you carry yourself and answered questions, that's interesting.

Charlene Boston: Probably, and I guess they didn't get any great militates from the community, I would suspect that the board would have weighed—taken that input. And I'm sure the other candidates, there were four of us who went through the process, so I'm sure there were positives and negatives about all of us and they weighed all of that and decided to give me a chance to be a superintendent here and for that I'm very grateful.

Richard Wilson: What was the most difficult thing about assuming the superintendency?

Charlene Boston: Coming to what I've known, I knew Baltimore City and that I used to my advantage, being that I had moved from district to district in Baltimore City. I could always rely on something of the past, you know, prior knowledge helps you as you assume your task. So, coming to a new district where people did not know me—so I had nothing, no past good deeds in order to rely on, and to buffer. I had to come in [pauses] totally—I knew no one in the system, so I had no allies within the system. I really didn't know anybody in the community. I know some people thought that I had people within this community, but people knew of me because they had made it their business to find out about me. So, they knew me, but I didn't know anybody. And so that was, I guess the most difficult about it was the newness of it. Not knowing what to expect. But I thought if I could be given half a chance, I would be able to be successful. So that's what helped me.

Richard Wilson: How did the public react to your appointment and early decisions?

Charlene Boston: The public, who is the public. There were some people who said, "you've made a wonderful choice," because they had done their homework. By this I mean, people who had connections with people in Baltimore, at the State Department, "What kind of person is she? Is she really a person who works hard? Has she, can she accomplish anything? So those people felt pretty comfortable with me. There were other people who said and, I later learned this, that they said, "Why do we have to get someone from the Western shore? A woman and an African American at that." I mean, so, this was definitely said. I think it might have been even said in the paper by somebody, but I'm not sure about that. I do know that people did tell me that individuals said that. There were other African Americans who said, "Thank goodness we see somebody like us who's in a position of leadership," and they said that in this county there are very few African Americans of leadership positions in the county. And so, they said "great," they were all for it, and supported it. There were other individuals within the school district who said, "Oh, I know somebody who could have been a superintendent, why did they get her?" I don't think it was a racial thing, I think they had loyalties to other individuals that they felt could have gotten the job, and could have done a fine job, and why was I selected above those. So, I understood that there would be people who had those kinds of sentiments. I'll say still, a little bit, when I became principal of a school, there was a favored assistant principal there, everybody: the parents, the PTA, all said, "Let Mr. X became a principal, he's wonderful." I had all kind of letters that I later saw in the file where these people had asked for the- and here I come, I was the principal. I had never been the assistant principal there, but I became the principal. So, I had to overcome that, and I found that I could. So, I see that I can do the same thing here, at least to get the job done. I know that there will never be complete agreement by the entire community that I should be the superintendent. But I figured that if I could get enough support to do what I needed to do, that was all that I was—that was important.

Richard Wilson: What have been some of the most difficult decisions you've had to make as superintendent?

Charlene Boston: Well, all along, I was confronted with a class rank controversy, I didn't make it, but it was here when I came, and I had to make a decision as to what my recommendation was going to be. And I knew that I couldn't, that people wouldn't like what I would say. So, I made the decision based on my assessment, doing a survey around the country, and people were moving away from class rank designation in high schools. So, I Just-that's the recommendation I made. I remember the Daily Times, for example, criticized me in a nice little editorial and, you know, said I should've stuck, but what was wrong with the old way, and I devalue education, and kids won't be able to feel any sense of accomplishment because they won't have this designation. So that's what they said. But I was vindicated because later, there became lawsuits in the paper and all that, about class rank designations. I think in Delaware and some other places, and so forth. Then the editorial said, "Well the Board of Ed"—didn't give me any credit—"The Board of Ed made a great decision when it decided to-" which was a flip-flop of the earlier position. And ever since that point, though, I find that the Daily Times has usually supported my positions, by the way, after realizing that my initial run was probably the best one at the time. So that was one of the more difficult decisions that I had to make. The other had to do with changing the curriculum, and that's kind of quiet, probably doesn't go noticed, but changing the focus of mathematics for this county was a very difficult decision because that involved my teachers, principals, supervisors and people like that internally, and changing the way we do business. It was very difficult, but that has proven to be a very successful approach. The way we're doing the mathematics, beginning in the elementary schools and working my way through the middle and high school, in terms of those changes.

Richard Wilson: What is one thing that you were not prepared for?

Charlene Boston: I wasn't prepared for as much discussion about funding the school district as in terms of not giving me as much money as I think I—well, people told me before I became that there was a revenue cap, I don't want to act like on hiring I didn't understand that, except that I didn't, I don't think people really understood that they were limiting how much revenue comes into the county for operational things that people want to have done. And so, the discussion about this money, I guess I never had to discuss that much of that when I was in Baltimore. We had a budget, we got money from the state. So, from the local point of view, I found the state is now giving us, it's considered, fair share and we were asking the county to do the same.So,So, I wasn't prepared for as much to do about spending and so many people wanting to micro-manage what you spend. I had a letter in the editorial on the paper, letter to the editor, where someone objected to the fact that I was spending money on poms for children, you know, hand-held calculators and keyboards; so, kids in elementary school can begin the process of using it. That was a big thing in that there was too much money spent on people having cell phones. Administrators and administrative people, like myself, I guess, he was talking about, and technology. And they didn't have, this person said they didn't have computers when they were in school, why was I spending all this money? So, for the public to be that much into the spending, and yet wanting to limit the spending. I guess what the thesis was, if you weren't spending money on things you shouldn't be spending money, you'd have enough money.

Richard Wilson: Well, they should have read the Times this morning because it's on the editorial.

Charlene Boston: I hadn't seen that.

Richard Wilson: They're able to fund the budget, basically.

Charlene Boston: Oh, yeah, yeah. Daily Times, editorial. Yes, it was, it was. Give me adequate funding, adequate funding. So, I support that editorial, of course.

Richard Wilson: Okay, three or four more. These are a little bit more personal. Please feel free to tell me to take my hat off and go down to the hall. Have there been incidents of racial and/or gender discrimination in your professional life?

Charlene Boston: Well, you had added professional life. I was going to say it's been all my life, first. From the early days, when my great uncle, when I was with the Joneses, they would, when I was even a five-year-old, they would take me on trips and so forth. They took me to Florida, where, Del Ray Beach in Florida, and I don't know what city I was in, but I went to the counter, and I couldn't sit on the counter to have a soda pop. And that was from a very early age. I've said to groups, I was looking cute, I had a pretty pink purse, pennifold on, so I had bows and little plaits, and I thought I looked very nice. So, I just couldn't understand why I couldn't have a soda pop, like all the other little kids who were sitting on the counter, at the counter. So, I mean, you have that I grew up in a time of marches and sit-ins, so you know that you're talking to a person in the sixties. Robert Bell, who was the Chief Justice for the state of Maryland. He was a little older, but he led us as we marched Northwood shopping center in the sixties, to integrate the shopping center and the movie theater that were there, obviously there, and he was there leading us along with others. Of course, they had the March on Washington during my time in the sixties, where we were protesting discrimination and asking for equality. Martin Luther King was there and that sort of thing in the summer. Of course, there were times when I went to a restaurant on Edmonson Avenue, which was not that far from my house, and could not get a sandwich. And by this time I was a teenager, and I didn't understand, there were people in there, that he was only serving in the businesspeople who go to my area during the lunch.

Richard Wilson: Was this the shopping center, Edmonson Shopping Center?

Charlene Boston: No, not Edmonson Shopping Center. I'm talking about near Monroe Street, down in the other part of Edmonson Avenue was a movie theater there. By the time we went, when I went to Edmonson High School, in the community itself, I recall being not allowed to go into any of the stores or anything like that. It is the sort of thing that I remember riding the bus home, and this is not discrimination, but I remember there was an older woman who had bags, and she looked like a person who was doing what we called day's work. She would work in the homes out in the Edmonson, far Catonsville area, that sort of place, and Tin Hills, another area where single family homes, very big houses, and so forth things like that. So, she would ride the bus, when I got on the bus, I remember with my books, this woman saying to me, "You should sit down." Now we were always taught that I give deference to her. She said, "No, I'm just so glad to see you having an education so that you won't have to do what I'm doing." This is what this woman said to me, she said, "Clean people's kitchens and toilets," and she got up, she got out of her seat to give me the seat because I was carrying so many books. Said to myself, hmm. she said, I want you—the woman didn't know me from any place—she said she had, she told her story of discrimination and so forth. So, I mean, in my life as a teacher, I can't say that I saw it, if it happened, I don't know about it. Because remember, I was always moving into projects and programs and that sort of thing. I would think in the field of education in this county, it may be, remember, I'm the superintendent, so, I try to root out if I would see any vestiges of that, in terms of discrimination. But I think within the county itself, there may be, but no one has ever come up to me to say anything of a negative tone. I've heard that people have made remarks about me on a website or something like that, that I don't read because I don't believe in giving that person that much credit by reading negative comments. But no one has ever said anything to my face, or not allowed me to participate in something because I'm African American, or a woman, since I've been in this county. I haven't seen it occur to me personally. There may be what you might call a subtle racism that people aren't aware of in terms of their approach to groups of African Americans. For example, they may listen to a person talk and assume certain things about them because they have a dialect or because their English may not be as perfect as it should be. And I find that I have to help people look past some of that, sometimes, when you're working with kids, in order to make some recommendations for students to be involved in some programs that they may not otherwise be a party to, because they're taking the first blush to think that that student might not fit into a program. So, I've tried to push for that, to ward off any of that.

Richard Wilson: Okay. You might've mentioned this a couple minutes ago, but I'm going to ask it again anyway: does your family hold reunions? Where, when, who attends.

Charlene Boston: Yes, yes. My father's side of the family, remember, he's Cooper and his grandmother's, okay, his grandmother's people [pauses] My father's Cooper, his grandmother's [pauses] I'm trying to get it right. Okay, my father Cooper, okay. [pauses] Okay, my father's mother was Georgianna(?) Cooper and her mother was Mrs. Lucy Goldsboro(?) Cooper. Okay, now go back to the Goldsboro side, we have just learned that they've been having family reunions without us, because Lucy was the only girl in the Goldsboro group, they were all boys. And there were six boys and Lucy. She married Cooper. They didn't want her to marry Cooper, evidently. And so, they became disconnected. But now the Cooper side of the family, we are now going to the Goldsboro's picnic in Virginia, which my father was there at the last one, and he was the senior Goldsboro there in terms of the direct descendants of the Goldsboro, my father was the oldest living person at the reunion, and my father is 91 years old. And so last year—he had, you know, he had a close call, and then he presented a picture of his grandmother, Lucy Goldsboro, and they all were just, you know, just they blew it up and they're going to probably have it on display again this coming year. So, yes. Very big. And then I haven't got-one of my cousins, who's a Cooper, is trying to figure out end a little bit further into the Goldsboro.

[Audio ends]

[Audio begins, second recording, part three of interview with Charlene Boston].

Charlene Boston: So, my mother's side doesn't have as many family reunions, which is interesting. But they have big events like weddings, or funerals, and that becomes a family reunion on my mom's side, everyone comes back for the funeral or the wedding.

Richard Wilson: Well, the next time you go to a reunion, you need to take a laptop computer, access somehow this website here and let them see you on the web.

Charlene Boston: Oh, is that right?

Richard Wilson: You'll be able to access it as long as you can get on the Internet.

Charlene Boston: Oh okay, that's good, that's good. My father's side, the Coopers do, they really like those reunions, a lot, so.

Richard Wilson: Well, those are the end of my questions, you've been the most patient. I appreciate it very much. It's nice that we know some people in common. I'm still trying to figure out who the football player is that [both speaking] —Clark.

Charlene Boston: —Leroy Kelly.

Richard Wilson: Leroy Kelly was a running back.

Charlene Boston: That's the one I remember.

Donna Messick: I was curious, you mentioning Goldsboro(?), and you know that that's a big name on the Eastern Shore, like in Talbot County.

Charlene Boston: Is that right? I don't know

Donna Messick: So, some of the original Goldsboro names which were found in the early settlers and I'm just curious as to whether [both speaking, Charlene laughs] I mean, that kind of, the area was settled before Baltimore, you know.

Charlene Boston: Right. I don't know. I know some girl; I know Leah Hasty Gol-Leah Goldsboro Hasty. Goldsboro is a street in Talbert [Talbot]. No, I don't know what county it is up there, Easton. But she's not, I don't think related. She's an African American and I her mother's street was named after her mother up there, when you cross 50, I see that. But we don't spell ours that way, but black people I noticed, they spell names kind of different ways based on pronunciation, because long ago, they weren't able to write, read and write, or either that their writing was not as good, so. It may not be-it's a different spelling, I know, but it may not be that it's a different family.

Donna Messick: Do you have any sense how long your family had been in Baltimore?

Charlene Boston: Well, see my mother and father moved up here from Greensboro, North Carolina.

Donna Messick: North Carolina.

Charlene Boston: Yeah, from North Carolina, to get better work. Well!

Richard Wilson: That was very interesting, very interesting.

[Recording ends]
Duration 34:07
Recording Date May 1, 2006
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Record #56

Type Audio
Title Interview with Gertrude Brown, 8 July 2005
Description In this interview, Mrs. Gertrude Brown speaks about her upbringing in Sharptown, MD, and the infl…
Duration 25:22

All Fields in This Record

Type Audio
Title Interview with Gertrude Brown, 8 July 2005
Description In this interview, Mrs. Gertrude Brown speaks about her upbringing in Sharptown, MD, and the influence school had on her life. She speaks of her education and her experiences in integration and as an African-American in the early and mid 1960s.

This interview is part of the Teaching American History Program.
For more information, see the [Edward H. Nabb Center Finding Aid](https://libapps.salisbury.edu/nabb-archives/finding-aid.php?id=1550).
Duration 25:22
Recording Date Jul 8, 2005
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Record #57

Type Audio
Title Interview with Thomas Dennis, 13 July 2004
Description In this brief interview, Thomas Dennis describes his early life including his education and the v…
Duration 14:37

All Fields in This Record

Type Audio
Title Interview with Thomas Dennis, 13 July 2004
Description In this brief interview, Thomas Dennis describes his early life including his education and the various facets that existed around Eden, MD, in the 1920's, 30's, and 40's. He remarks on his philosophy of life and his observations about how the world has changed during his life.

This interview is part of the Teaching American History Program.
For more information, see the [Edward H. Nabb Center Finding Aid](https://libapps.salisbury.edu/nabb-archives/finding-aid.php?id=1550).
Duration 14:37
Recording Date Jul 13, 2004
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Record #58

Type Audio
Title Interview with Samuel Everett, 13 July 2004
Description Samuel Everett is an Educator in the Wicomico County Public Schools. In the interview, he describ…
Duration 31:43

All Fields in This Record

Type Audio
Title Interview with Samuel Everett, 13 July 2004
Description Samuel Everett is an Educator in the Wicomico County Public Schools. In the interview, he describes his early education, his life in a segregated city, his attendance at the Maryland State College (now UMES) and his experience with integration in the mid-1960s.

This interview is part of the Teaching American History Program.
For more information, see the [Edward H. Nabb Center Finding Aid](https://libapps.salisbury.edu/nabb-archives/finding-aid.php?id=1550).
Transcript Interviewers: Robin Simmons and Kathy Malone
Narrator: Samuel Everett
Date: July 13th, 2004
Robin Simmons (RS): —Samuel Everett of Salisbury, Maryland, at his home on July 13th, 2004. The interviewers are Robin Simmons and Kathy Malone. We are doing this in conjunction with the Teaching American History Institute, and our main interests are integration and the Civil Rights Movement. Sammy, can you give us your full name please?
Samuel Everett (SE): Samuel Everett.
RS: And telephone number?
SE: [lists his telephone number].
RS: And your address?
SE: [lists address]
RS: Date of birth, please?
SE: April 27th, 1945.
RS: And place of birth?
SE: Salisbury, Maryland.
RS: About the education, sorry, the primary education, elementary school that you attended?
SE: I went to Salisbury Elementary School.
RS: Okay, and that would be, the dates for that, remember when?
[Simmons speaks away from the microphone, audio cuts and restarts at 1:18]
RS: Primary education?
SE: I started 1951, and sixth grade in 1957.
RS: Okay, and where did you attend high school?
SE: I attended high school at Salisbury High School, in Salisbury, Maryland.
RS: And that would have been from 1957 until?
SE: I graduated in 1963.
RS: And then you went on to college?
SE: I went to Maryland State College in Princess Anne, Maryland.
RS: Okay, and that's now UMES, correct?
SE: Yeah.
RS: So that would have been from 1963 until?
SE: I graduated 1968.
RS: Okay, and your profession is teaching. Have you had any other jobs through the years?
SE: I've had jobs starting, well as an adult, the only regular job I've had is teaching and working my way through college, I had a variety of jobs, from farm work through Coca Cola Bottling Company, janitorial work, catering. Those were my part time jobs that I used to get through school with.
RS: Okay, and then when you started your teaching career, what are some of the schools that you've taught in?
SE: The first year I taught was in Chestertown Middle, Chestertown, Maryland. I taught there for one year. Then the next year I started teaching at Salisbury, in Salisbury at the former Wicomico Junior High School, which is now Wicomico Middle School, and I've been there the whole term.
RS: And how many years is that?
SE: A total of 36.
RS: Wow. Yeah. Okay, let's see. These are things that, you know, we would be interested in, but you certainly don't have to share everything or anything with us. Have you held any government offices?
SE: No. No, I haven't.
RS: Okay. Political party. Any, if you care to share that?
SE: Well, I'm registered as a Democrat.
RS: Okay. Were you in the service at all?
SE: No.
RS: And how about are you involved in any civic or community activities?
SE: Basically with, I'm a docent at the Salisbury Zoo.
RS: Okay. Religious affiliation and activities?
SE: Basically, I just consider myself Christian. No particular church affiliation.
RS: Okay. Thank you. All right. We're going to take a look at your family here, your father's full name?
SE: Solomon Cleonard Everett.
RS: Okay. Do you recall his date of birth?
SE: No.
RS: That's okay. How about his occupation?
SE: Before his retiring, he retired from the school system as a custodian.
RS: Okay. And your mother's name?
SE: Enola Elizabeth Everett
RS: And we'll skip over birth on that, too. How about her occupation?
SE: She was a housewife.
RS: And your spouse's name?
SE: Carolyn Antoinette Everett
RS: And when did you get married?
SE: [audio cuts] I got married in 1978.
RS: Let's see, you have two children, Stacy and Tracy, and they are twins. And what was their date of birth?
SE: 1981, in August.
RS: Okay. Have you published any books or articles?
SE: No.
RS: Okay. All right. Well, we want to go on and talk a little bit about segregated schools, integrated schools, the civil rights movement. So, we're going to start talking about your school days a little bit. What do you remember about your school days? Like, the early years.
SE: The early years in elementary school, I remember [pauses] it was a fun time. It was the time I the chance to be with other children. I lived on a farm and the only person that I had to play with was the person that owned the farm, he had a son, and we played a lot together. Other than that, every now and then my cousins would come over, or I would go over there but school was a chance to be with a variety of different children.
RS: Okay. Can you describe your teachers?
SE: I remember my, a few of the teachers at my elementary school. Mrs. Forcey(?), Mrs. Wallace(?), I think were my first and second grade teachers. Mrs. Wallace was the stronger one, I remember getting tapped on my fingers because I didn't know my times tables, I remember that. My best year, I think was in the fourth grade. I had a teacher named Mrs. Dashiells(?), and at that time I got straight As, first time, I think I had a crush on the teacher. Fifth grade, I think was Mrs. Nutter(?), and sixth grade was another teacher, Mrs. McLennon(?). And those are my elementary teachers. They were fun days. [pauses] Recess was great. We have a great big field, and that's where I started probably doing a lot of my running because we would have a field day and field day consisted of a lot of running events.
RS: Okay. You do like to do a lot of running now?
SE: I still do.
RS: Can you tell us a little bit about the high school years?
SE: High school was a transition, we were in a new high school, seventh grade and I was at the bottom of the ladder. Lots of kids were, seniors and juniors and sophomores, were much bigger than we were and we were quite intimidated, but we were still a unit. There was no animosity. We were just smaller and we couldn't do as many things as they could do as well, but when our turn came later in the years, it was great. High school was great. I was a monitor for three years, high school hall monitor. And I got to know a lot of people and a lot of people got to know me. So, they were fun days. I could like to relive some of those once more.
RS: Did you attend a segregated or an integrated school?
SE: I guess it was a segregated school, we did not have any contact with—well, I remember the first time we had contact with a white school. I think I was in the junior or senior year and we ran against the white school, which was Wicomico High, at a track meet. And that was the first time that we had contact between schools, and it was great. Everything went well.
RS: And you were a great runner then like you are now and were you successful in your races?
SE: Well, I wasn't. That was my beginning. I began as a junior primarily because the juniors and seniors ahead of us were so much better that there was no room for us, and they didn't have programs where you would have a, like a, junior team. So, you kind of had to wait your turn, and yes, that's where I really got started on.
RS: Okay. Do you feel as though you received a quality education?
SE: Ah, yes, I do. The teachers were tough. They required a lot, and they were also inspiring. They tried to motivate you as much as possible. They tried to alert us to real life situations, and I feel as though I did get a quality education.
RS: Even though the schools were segregated, you didn't feel like that held you back in any way?
SE: No.
RS: Now, you said you graduated in '63, right? Yeah. Okay. And the school didn't desegregate until '66.
SE: Right.
RS: So, you were already out at that point.
SE: Right.
RS: Did you have some opinions about that at the time, though, how were you feeling about that?
SE: Well, I encountered some situations as a child, the landowner whose house we rented was white and the son and I played together quite a bit, and we were just like human beings playing and not encountering any differences in our color. We just had fun playing together. When I got to, well even before then, as a child that was traveling with my parents and my father sometimes would always have to go to the back of a certain store and purchase certain things. And that was, what, I guess it was real strange then. Maybe it wasn't, but it was the norm, and it wasn't until later when things started to change that I look back upon it and realize how difficult it may have been. As I moved through high school, when I was a senior, we had a chance to get employment through some program. I was selected with two other people to work at the Coca-Cola Bottling Company, which was segregated prior to our coming. We were the first three, worked there for the summer and we were accepted. Never, I can't recall any incidents where there was any problems and we got along well. And after that it seemed like we opened up the door for people to come there and work on a permanent basis. Blacks came in for the next year, there were blacks employed as we came back for the second time for a summer job. When I got to college, by now, we're getting into the Civil Rights Movement and in the town of Princess Anne there was a very strict segregation, and we were organized marches through the town of Princess Anne. And probably the most, one of the most scary times that I've had was our march, where we were going to march into the town and we were met at the end of the road that led into the town by the fire department, police with canines, and they turned hoses on us, and the guards. They used them to back us back down to the campus. It was a rather trying time. Eventually, we did get permits to march downtown and we did so.
RS: And the marches downtown were peaceful with no conflict with the police at that time, or?
SE: No, I don't recall any.
RS: Okay. Just going back to this school thing for just a minute. Did you think, you know, when you first heard that there was going to be, going to move forward in Wicomico County with integration did you think that that would be a good thing or a bad thing or?
SE: Oh, probably, I probably was thinking that that was a good thing, in terms of people getting along, in terms of people who had been denied certain things that should now be on an equal basis. Separate but equal, and now we're changing over to equal and together. So, it was something to look forward to. When you watch TV and saw how some people are treated in other places, you are bit on the edge, a bit scared about it, but here in this county it seemed to go rather smoothly.
RS: Okay. And that was my next question, we came across a quote by a historian from the area who said that the transition of Wicomico County schools from segregated schools to integrated schools occurred more peacefully here, without a lot of the upheaval in other places. So, you would agree with that?
SE: Yeah, I do remember one incident when I had gone out of town for a bowling tournament and I came back and there had been some disturbances, whereas I believe some people sort of rioted a little bit, and they had blocked off some of the areas and I remember some looting going on at a music store. I remember the drum being rolled, rolling across the street as we came down the street. It was kind of frightening but, it was settled rather quickly. After that, there were no more incidents that I recall.
RS: You said the what rolling across the street?
SE: A drum from the music store.
RS: Oh, okay [laughs].
SE: They were ransacking the music store. I remember it was a store that was owned by whites in a more blacker area, business area.
RS: Okay. All right, so we went on through college, and you told us a few little events from that time. Once you began teaching at Wicomico Junior, you know by then that you had had integration, so you now had a classroom full of black and white students, so how was that different for you—you know, other than the obvious there's both black and white kids there—how was that different from the segregated schools?
SE: Well, I was of course, I was as the instructor, and the instructor gets a little bit more respect due to their position. The children, in my classes, we never really had a difficult—I don't recall many, I can't recall any major incidents that stick in my mind. I remember, in my classroom [pauses] everybody got along. If there was any differences then, you know, seating arrangements were made, but I was always treated okay. I was treated very well by black and white.
RS: Now, would that be true, I mean, as far as, you know, like in other teacher's classrooms, how did that compare to your experiences?
SE: I think that it was about the same. Sometimes you have a certain segment of students that will have prejudices that lend themselves to act it out with verbal, or maybe even just non-conforming, depending on the attitude of that particular teacher and how they conduct the class. Sometimes people use a secondary reason to not agree with their teacher, even though that's not the right reason why they're agreeing with it.
RS: In the beginning, you know, when the transition first took place, would you say that the integration was better or worse for the African-American children?
SE: In the beginning there was, I suppose [pauses] probably you didn't quite know what to expect so you're just going along with the flow. Well, I think there was the prep(?) maybe in high school there were probably more instances of maybe a problem within the lower grades. But in terms of what children got in our classroom, I think it was [pauses] good in the beginning, but as time went by I think it began to decrease.
RS: I'm not sure I know what you mean here, that the quality of education?
SE: Well, I said, the quality of education is the material being taught the same for all and how they received it and use it was the difference. If students do not get an equal start process where maybe where things, where we had the most problems over the years, that I've seen, was that if you don't come in on an equal footing, then you get in the position where you cannot make up the ground and you are placed in classes where you are considered to be perhaps less intelligent. But the only reason is because you have not had a chance to get started evenly with everybody else and you kind of get stuck.
RS: And you see that specifically as a problem for some African-American children.
SE: Yes, yeah, I think the biggest problem is that they don't get off to an even start and then they get locked into a certain area and this is where they seem to stay and didn't get polarization, and that sort of continues on down through the family line. From one older child to the less older child, and run down through it. Instances where you have children that get off to an even start and they have the proper motivation and attention to schooling, you usually don't have that problem.
RS: Okay. Have you seen attitudes and behaviors change over the years? You know, other than what you just described?
SE: Yes. The [pauses] like I said, where attitudes become polarized within a segment of society, the black kids, depending on their economic status, their social commitment to being the best that they can be, the availability of economics. Several factors have polarized them into the point where they have sort of set their own goals that they can achieve without going through education. In terms of, they were just relying on sports or music and not realizing how much education has to go along with those two things together.
RS: Okay. What was life like for African-Americans growing up on Eastern Shore? You talked earlier about your dad having to go to the back door and, you know, any other?
SE: I think that [pauses] I think one thing was that they had more pride and ownership of their own businesses and that was a major plus that we've lost today. You would go to go to black stores, like restaurants, of course the barber shop, which still exists today, and most of the black people lived in rural areas and they (inaudible) to themselves. They may not have had a lot of the opportunity to maybe move up the ladder, so to speak, but what they had, they used very well [pauses]
RS: Okay.
SE: But I don't remember any, I can't re—I don't remember instances happening around here that like, we read about happening in the South in terms of lynchings and things like that. People around here they did farm work, and just a lot of, some factory work. I also don't recall anything like that in my childhood.
RS: Hopefully those things occurred before.
SE: Yeah.
RS: Well throughout your life, I mean, there certainly have been times when there have been injustices. How have you dealt with those things?
SE: Well, I guess the biggest part that I played was probably going through Civil Rights marches, and protesting, and helping to bring that about. That's been the biggest change that I've participated in.
RS: So, you had something to do with actually organizing them?
SE: No, not organizing, just participating, just being a marcher and helping to be part of the masses in the protest. [Interviewer speaks, inaudible]. Those are local cases, I was assigned local cases.
RS: Did you participate in anything on a more national level or state level?
SE: No.
RS: Okay. When you were faced with situations that, you know, like events of injustices or poor treatment, what got you through that? Anything in particular?
SE: I can't think of many situations where I felt like, well, to go back to going to a place to make a life Woolworth's department store, and being able to shop in there, but not being able to eat at the counter, once the laws had changed, and they said that they had to. Then, you know, I just can't recall going when I was not treated differently. Maybe it's because I just didn't go to those places that much.
RS: Kind of avoided places that?
SE: Well, I just can't think of any, where that happened. I've always been very, the type of person who did a lot of moving about, you know, going here and there. I'd get up, go to work, come home, go to the store, (inaudible), school.
RS: Okay. What advice would you give to young people today who are facing injustice or adversity?
SE: Well, I would advise them to, first of all, seek out the legal aspect of it. Find out what's being violated, legally, and then seek the advice of someone that can direct them to how to (inaudible), file a grievance, whether it's with the organization you're dealing with or, if it was in school, you have your (inaudible) to go to somebody, go to your parents first, but then after that, there are guidance counselors, or teachers that they feel they can talk to.
RS: Okay. How is the world different for your children than when you were a child?
SE: Well enough that they can go to any place that they want to without having to be denied because of their color. The opportunities [pauses] in employment are much greater. They are much more accepted by different races than when I was.
RS: Okay. Did you have anything else that you can think of that you'd like to share with us?
[Audio cuts, restarts]
RS: Well, the last, I think I said it on the tape already, just if there was anything else that you'd like to share with us.
SE: Just my viewpoints on the way life is going for, as a result of integration. I think there's always going to be polarization due to your ethnic, ethnicity, and that's quite all right. We should recognize that and support it, but at the same time realize that there are more and more of us coming together in this country, the population is increasing, there are other nationalities in our area. For example, we've had an influx of the Spanish-speaking people, Mexican or Puerto Rican or whatever, and when we go to different events, some events are more integrated than others. We have yet to reach the point where, I think, where we're going to have to be able to work with one another on a daily basis, I look at the number of people that are doing the field jobs and the number of people who are in the restaurant business, all different nationalities. Children coming to school, or to our schools has increased this year. We have quite a few Spanish-speaking people and I had no problem getting along with my students, no matter what race they are, but I think that it’s just not—what happens in the classroom, is not happening in the community, also. I have not been out into the community to see how close knit these communities are, but I do know that things have to happen where we have to come together as total people, and yet at the same time, maintaining our ethnic heritage. Education-wise, I think things have got to change. Not so much in favor of the charter schools. I'd like to see us find ways to better—
[recording cuts abruptly, interview ends]
Duration 31:43
Recording Date Jul 13, 2004
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Record #59

Type Audio
Title Delmarva Folklife Project: Interview with Martha Mifflin, 1 April 1999
Description This interview was conducted by Katherine Borland with Martha Mifflin in Georgetown, Delaware, on…
Duration 1:05:54

All Fields in This Record

Type Audio
Title Delmarva Folklife Project: Interview with Martha Mifflin, 1 April 1999
Description This interview was conducted by Katherine Borland with Martha Mifflin in Georgetown, Delaware, on April 1st, 1999. In this interview, she describes her life as an African American worker and mother after the 1960s. She describes her decision to raise her kids, working part time jobs when she had the time to do so to supplement her income before becoming a full-time housewife. She describes her relationship with her six children and how she and her husband cultivated a close relationship between the siblings, noting the activities and practices they employed to do so (and the people that influenced her decisions in that). She then describes the various jobs she took, including some of her work in the "Poverty Program" at the local school, and other jobs in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s. (Correction: Oldest daughter works for Episcopal Diocese in Wilmington)
In part 2, she continues her discussion about raising her kids and some local history. She speaks of some local folklore, mentioning her father's dancing and her mother's singing. She also talks about the presence of singing in her life from her school days to her adult life, eventually letting it fade away until church time comes. She also talks about the changes she's seen in church life from when she was younger compared to now, noting the inclusion of modern music in church life and her being ordained as a female assistant in her community.

This interview is part of the Delmarva Folklife Project. For more information, see the [Edward H. Nabb Center Finding Aid](http://libapps.salisbury.edu/nabb-archives/local-history-archives/2003.004).
Duration 1:05:54
Recording Date Apr 1, 1999
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Record #60

Type Audio
Title Delmarva Folklife Project: Interview with Mary Onley, 18 July 1998
Description This interview was conducted by Douglas Day with Mary Onley near Painter, VA. In this interview, …
Duration 44:41

All Fields in This Record

Type Audio
Title Delmarva Folklife Project: Interview with Mary Onley, 18 July 1998
Description This interview was conducted by Douglas Day with Mary Onley near Painter, VA. In this interview, Mary Onley talks about her interest in paper mache and making paper mache hats. She describes her methods for creating and painting the paper mache hats and the various types that she makes, usually large brimmed hats, and some of her other paper mache crafts, including clocks. She doesn't describe it as paper mache, but more of a recycling of newspaper. She describes when she began making paper mache only a few years earlier as she sought to do something with her excess newspaper, also making paper mache figurines and scenes. She also describes her life outside of art, working in vegetable fields as a crew leader and in shirt factories, and her family and their lives. She talks about some of the art scenes that she makes and the inspiration behind them, including family events and other occurrences. She also describes the process of trying to sell her art and her involvement with the artist guild.

This interview is part of the Delmarva Folklife Project. For more information, see the [Edward H. Nabb Center finding aid](http://libapps.salisbury.edu/nabb-archives/local-history-archives/2003.004).
Duration 44:41
Recording Date Jul 18, 1998
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Record #61

Type Audio
Title Delmarva Folklife Project: Performance by Burley Strand, 14 February 1998
Description This is a recording of Burley Strand's band performance on February 14, 1998. The music is a comb…
Duration 2:08:50

All Fields in This Record

Type Audio
Title Delmarva Folklife Project: Performance by Burley Strand, 14 February 1998
Description This is a recording of Burley Strand's band performance on February 14, 1998. The music is a combination of jazz and funk with a mix of instrumental and vocal songs. Audio quality is mixed as the mic volume is very high. Burley Strand, also known as "Mr. B", was a popular local musician in Accomack county, VA. Recording by Douglas Day.

This interview is part of the Delmarva Folklife Project. For more information, see the [Edward H. Nabb Center Finding Aid](http://libapps.salisbury.edu/nabb-archives/local-history-archives/2003.004).
Duration 2:08:50
Recording Date Feb 14, 1998
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Record #62

Type Audio
Title 1963 Cambridge Movement audio recordings from WWDC
Duration 1:13:31

All Fields in This Record

Type Audio
Title 1963 Cambridge Movement audio recordings from WWDC

Recorded during the 1963 unrest during the Civil Rights Movement in Cambridge, Maryland, these audio recordings capture the unedited sounds of both protesters and segregationists. The recordings were made primarily by reporter John Goldsmith for the District of Columbia radio station, WWDC.

In the first recording, there are protesters in front of the Dorchester County Courthouse singing “Woke Up This Morning (With My Mind Stayed On Freedom),” “We Shall Overcome,” “Star Spangled Banner,” and the “Pledge of Allegiance.” Also included are three speeches from different individuals, one a reverend, about injustice and racial inequality that outlines their goals for desegregation. There are also moments with segregationist songs and chants as they marched through the city.

In the second recording, there are primarily white segregationists who expressed their reasons for counter-protesting the Cambridge Movement. This recording contains explicit and offensive words and language. Some of the white mob members that became angry with the WWDC reporter were later arrested and identified in the third recording featuring the WWDC broadcast.

The third recording features the WWDC broadcast that used clips from the first two audio recordings and includes additional reporting about the Cambridge Movement. Many of the individuals heard in the first two recordings are identified in the WWDC broadcast, including Bishop Williams and one of the white rioters who was arrested.

These recordings come from the [J. Millard Tawes papers (2017.060)](https://libapps.salisbury.edu/nabb-archives/local-history-archives/2017.060) at the Nabb Research Center and are within the Creative Commons (with restrictions). Please contact us at nabbcenter@salisbury.edu with any concerns about copyright.
Duration 1:13:31
Recording Date Oct 25, 1963
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Record #63

Type Audio
Title Delmarva Folklife Project: Interview with Deloris Blakey, 21 August 1998
Description This interview was conducted by Kelly Feltault with Deloris Blakey in Dover, Delaware, on August …
Duration 1:19:39

All Fields in This Record

Type Audio
Title Delmarva Folklife Project: Interview with Deloris Blakey, 21 August 1998
Description This interview was conducted by Kelly Feltault with Deloris Blakey in Dover, Delaware, on August 21, 1998. In this interview, Deloris Blakey talks about segregation in Delaware and the influence of dance in her life. She speaks about her time as a teacher in Delaware and Delaware State in the 1960s and how desegregation affected the area, African Americans, and the interaction of Whites with African American culture and vice versa. She also speaks about the influence of dance, mentioning dancing at the USO Club, the various dances in Wilmington and the styles used at the time, and the importance of dance and music to the African American community.
In Part 2, Deloris Blakey continues her discussion of the influence on dance in her life, noting its presence in physical education in schools alongside traditional sports. She describes her participation in sports and dance and how various styles of dance work.

This interview is part of the Delmarva Folklife Project. For more information, see the [Edward H. Nabb Center Finding Aid](http://libapps.salisbury.edu/nabb-archives/local-history-archives/2003.004).
Transcript Interview Log

Interviewee: Deloris Blakey Tape#: MAAF/KF/DE/FT8.21.108

Interviewer: Kelly Feltault # of Tapes: lofl
Date: 8/21/98 # of Sides: 2

Location: Dover DE, in Deloris' home

Topic: African American Dance; swing, jive, Af/Am dance show in Wilmington DE

Corresponding Photography Log #: MAAF/KF/DE/PS8.21.175

Comments: Filename: deftl08.doc. Italics indicate song title or emphasis;
“quotations” indicate direct transcription; [brackets indicate additional information not on
tape or commentary by fieldworker].

I met Deloris at the De State Fair when she performed a song and dance number
called GI Jane—Andrew Sisters with traditional hand dancing. When she won the
contest this 60 year old did a back flip.


[we had a few tape problems before the recording started, this is Deloris’ second bio inot
the mic]

BIO: bom in Wilmington DE; prefers living in “slower DE” left Wilmington at 17 to go
to college, married moved to D.C.; worked at Pentagon while husband getting MA; then
back to DE teaching;

DANCE: club every Sat at St. Mathews comm. Ctr dance club; danced with her brother
every sat. night, around house etc; Club 13 at high school, would get all dressed up;
brother was partner, loved dancing; 1951 about;

SEGREGATION: everything segregated at time; lived on east side; all teenagers danced;
black comm. Ctrs would have dances; had show called Mitch Thomas on Sat. like Dick
Clark; go there, had contests; one night she entered and won, prize was a 6 pack of Pepsi;
never forget that; that was once a month; only for blacks;

USO CLUB: went in Dover; USO club would come to Wilmington and get a bus of girls
and go to Dover and dance with soldiers that segregated too;

No exchanges between wh. & black comm. In dance; how she never interacted with
white comm. Until she was grown; Supreme Ct. decision in 1954 she was a Jr. in H.S.

and Wilmington integrated immediately; so had opportunity in 1955 to go to integrated
school but decided to finish sr. year at her school and graduate;

Teaching in 1962 in lower DE at Del State; still segregated down here

[how does this mark a place as northern or southern, urban or rural?]

Dr. Poston asked her to be the first to integrate schools; then decided to de-segregate; 3 of
them at Star Hill and they were all split up; she went to W. B. Simpson; that was her first
time in contact with white people;

Takes it back; first time was at Pentagon when working or around white people; white
and black employees working together; befriended by laura from Mississippi; Deloris
was 22; everyone got along very well; there a year and half;

Melinda Marsh, now director of Caesar Rodney music, but did the Kent General Follies,
asked Deloris and her husband to Follies; how Deloris did theatre and singing in high
school; worked with Comm. Singers and got involved in all theatre guilds; then husband
decided to open children’s theatre

[shows me the photos on the wall of the living room]

still doing it but ready to pass it on to another adult; how her kids did it when they were
little; 150-200 kids in a summer show;

back to segregation of USO clubs; and pentegon; husband from D.C.;

DANCES IN WILMINGTON: jitterbug; everyone did it; did “lindsy” hop [Lindy Hop];
Watussi; swim; twist; mashed potatoes; Madison and Birdland came over from Philly;
doesn’t remember the Philly Bop;

GENDER IN DANCING: [today, men are to show off the lady] back then evenly
distributed girls did twirls and jumps, men do their own thing; shows photos of them
doing jitterbug; still doing shows of this for air base etc; daughter is a professional

Stories of working in the theatre and dance community in DE; perfonning on the air base
as GI Jane;

No difference in dance steps from Wilmington to D.C.

[I am asking these questions because D.C. and Philly were known for their very unique
indigenous forms of the jitterbug and hand dance—D.C. Hop and Philly bop. ]

the Canteen at Del State; a dance club there; that’s where she met her husband; they all
did the same dances; easy to follow; was a difference between the way blacks and whites
danced; they thought the white’s couldn’t keep the beat back then;

how dances making come back now; presentation at Jr. high schools now;

LATIN DANCES: when she was 13 mother let her go to NY and stay with Uncle for
summer; Puerto Ricans in black comm. Then and she learned how to do latin dances;
rumba, samba, merengue; how they haven’t changed either; teaching a men’s youth
group; in-laws are Latin and talking about how dances haven’t changed

Most people don’t leam partner dances today; dancing as partners you can still do own
creative moves; sometimes there’s a competition going on while dancing; work hard to
make own stylizations; also competiton between couples

Walks through one of the dances; cha cha; step forward on right, back rock; then 1-2-3 to
the side or back alternating feet, then step back on right; does some cross steps or side
breaks; then does jitterbug; explaining jumps and lifts;

[trying to get physical memory to start here]

decides to do the Pony; could be done alone or with a partner but no touching; hands up
in front like holding reigns and gallop dance

making up own steps; keeping the basic but working in splits etc;

MUSIC: loved the music; good beat; not monotonous; today’s is too hard to dance to;
today’s slow music doesn’t have that “sweet tone” to it like Nat King Cole or

[sweet tones are a big part of Af/Am aesthetics in music, like a balast to the faster songs]
remaking the older music; changing;

dancing to live music; place in Wilmington that big names came to like Jackie Wilson
would come; her mother very strict; only could go at certain times; that’s why her brother
was her partner; Aretha Franklin, Temptations etc; danced live to the music “it wasn’t
sitting like today where you sit and listen but you were out there on the floor with the

prefers to dance to live; not a sitter; can sit at a jazz concert but when it’s dance music
need space to dance not sit;

social aspects of dancing; if girl had to go with other couples; how her brother would take
her and leave her at the dance, mom didn’t know; clean fun; not afraid, could really just
have fun; dancing with white people; surprised to see white people dancing same dances;
“didn’t really know because you weren’t at their dances. But they did the same. Some of
them were offbeat but they did the same.”

systems moved into white schools; if you didn’t get involved in something you were left
out; extra curricular activities, had to be involved; not done on purpose

“but where ever you are you do things that are familiar. So whites were not familiar with
say what blacks were doing so the blacks had to re-establish or rethink and I think it was
up to the parents to let the kids get involved with everything so that the white culture
could learn from the blacks and the blacks could leam from the whites.”

Found when she taught school that black kids would just lay back and not get involved;
but this is the time to get involved; her kids got involved; friends were a big mixture;

[how does economics play into ability to participate?]

in black schools, black people are really into church so had things like gospel choirs,
concert choir, own band music and when integrated you learned a new culture, had to
leam a new culture; doesn’t see anything wrong with that; when first started kids were
leary and that left them out;

[how was this situation a political one; de-segregate and become part of large, white
culture and schools; no more black centered activities]

when came home were in own atmosphere and neighborhood so did own thing; at school
it was another culture; just leam from one another;

story of line dance class going on a trip and Deloris’ first time being without her husband
after 40 yrs of marriage; just let some of the hatred go, let it go; mix of races in her

as a kid it never dawned on her to go where she was not supposed to go; back of the bus
or upstairs in theater; never occurred to her that people were not mixing; story of
camping trip to the west during the Detroit riots; how she felt;

exchanges between dancers; sharing steps etc.


Learned dances in P.E. in school; waltz foxtrot etc;

Dancing as part of social education then; if didn’t dance didn’t have anything to do; loved
to square dance; did it for a while in DE; did some in Dover; being the only minority in
the country western dances; only come around in life once;

Senior activities: participating in sr. Olympics, sr. classic beauty competition; how she
prefers performing; loves the sr. Olympics; does several events; went to national sr.

Olympics; never seen such physically fit people in her life, running jr. high school kid
times; have to be at least 50 years old and divide into age groups; made the finals in her
age group; 49 in age group; finals ran against all ages; story of running in finals; seeing
85 and 89 year olds running so fast was amazing; should be televised because it is the
opposite image of what most people have of senior citizens

She will participate again playing basketball, volleyball, softball, doing the long jump,
100, 200 and line dancing; other people from DE playing with her; how the women are
just really good athletes and doing even more events than Deloris

[should note that women of this age did not have the benefit of the 1970s regulation
declaring that girls must have equal sports teams and opportunities]

how dancing has helped her stay in shape

Line dancing at sr. center for exercise; moved into performing; also taking Ki Swahili
language at that time; [found other seniors doing line dancing for exercise too] how she
loves physical activity; [shows me her medals]

Body memory and learning other dances

Jazz and theatre dancing; doesn’t distinguish just wants to keep dancing all styles; how
her daughter went into dancing

African dancing; teaching kids in church;

How when they were in Africa saw everyone dancing American popular dances never
saw a traditional dance; not in the cities; stories of friends there; talk of the recent
bombings in Darsalam; access to American embassy; visiting other places in Africa,
Senegal etc; seeing traditional dances in West Africa; how cultures have Americanized
and blended with African American musical cult.;

American and African cultural differences; greetings based on age in other cultures but
not in America;

Duration 1:19:39
Recording Date Aug 21, 1998
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Record #64

Type Audio
Title Delmarva Folklife Project: Interview with Leola and Maude Smack, 31 July 1998
Description This interview was conducted by Kelly Feltault with Leola and Maude smack in Berlin, MD. in this …
Duration 46:39

All Fields in This Record

Type Audio
Title Delmarva Folklife Project: Interview with Leola and Maude Smack, 31 July 1998
Description This interview was conducted by Kelly Feltault with Leola and Maude smack in Berlin, MD. in this interview, Leola and Maude describe their lives as African American Midwives. Leola describes the rooms where they would treat their patients and the various procedures they would implement in order to properly help with the birth, comparing it to modern births. They describe how they received their training, mostly from the local clinic but also through working with aunt Jenny Dale Tingle, an experienced midwife. They also describe their home town of Whaleysville, MD, and the culture/ daily life around there.

This interview is part of the Delmarva Folklife Project. For more information, see the [Edward H. Nabb Center Finding Aid](http://libapps.salisbury.edu/nabb-archives/local-history-archives/2003.004).
Transcript Interview Log

Interviewee: Leola and Maude Smack Tape #: MAAF/KF/MD/FT7.31.315/419

Interviewer: Kelly Feltault # of Tapes: 1
Date: 7/31/98 # of Sides: 1

Location: Berlin MD; in Leola's living room

Topic: mid-wives; African American community; home rememdies; Whaleysville MD;
shirt factories

Corresponding Photography Log #: none

Comments: Filename: Mdft315.doc. See Fieldnotes: FN07.31.98. Italics indicate
emphasis; [brackets indicate additional information not on the tape or asides by
fieldworker]; “quotations indicate direct transcription.”

Diana and Gabe Purnell recommended Maude Smack because she lived with her
aunt who was a mid wife and could tell stories about that time. I had spoken with Leola
Smack, Maude's neice, the day before and she confirmed this. However, when I arrived I
quickly realized that Maude was not going to tell stories. She is in her mid-90s, and not
up to this endeavor. I recorded her anyway, Leola had some good moments on tape.


BIRTHING ROOM: was in the house, had up to 3 patients in there; large; could have 4,
one in living room; come from all over and sometimes she would visit their house; go out
nights too; stay a week or so;

PROCEDURES: first thing she did was ask for her money; [laughter]; stirrups for hands
and legs; ones for hands helped bear the pain you could pull on them; no anesthesia;
made from muslin; rubbed alcohol on babies;

Maude didn’t like the room it was too bloody; helped once and didn’t like it; her aunt
wanted her to take that job as mid wife but she didn’t want it;

Doesn’t remember when she started but she birthed Josephine who is 70 now and
Josephine wasn’t the first baby; started before 1920;

[Leola starts prompting Maude with questions]

Copyright 1996 Kelly Feltault

TRAINING: go to clinic on certain days and learn things; Aunt Jenny wouldn’t train
anybody else, you could work for her like Mildred did but she wouldn’t train you; Jenny
loved that work;

Getting water at that time was diff. Had to go out to a pump and spicket; most patients
were black; a few white ladies;

Maude lived right beside Aunt Jenny; [another reference to doctor Sully, see interview
with Dorris and Harley Pierce too]

LS: if had diff. Sent them to the hospital;

MS: kept delivering babies until she died; one woman had already paid her to deliver her
baby and Aunt Jenny died; $10 she thinks to deliver the baby

LS: her first daughter was bom by Jenny and it was $60

MS: how men and husbands wouldn’t pay it, the women had to pay the fee;

OTHER MID-WIVES: Maude says that Leola’s grandmother used to be one too; Annie
Annstrong; only one other mid wife in area; Leola’s grandmother was Jenny sister; but
didn’t have the same scale of business like Jenny had;

AFTER-BIRTH: had to bury the after-birth; Maude recalls digging the holes; had to be
deep; buried behind the house;

Jenny Dale Tingle was her full name; died in early 1960s; Leola gave birth to her
daughter Vela there in 1958; Jenny was the last one; Mildred Purnell practiced after
Jenny died but only for a little while;

Diff in birthing today; women stayed in bed longer; Jenny had to feed them; Leola would
visit the babies when she was younger;

Feeding the patients; babies breast fed; don’t recall fixing bottles; people would nurse
other people's babies still too; recalls a woman who did that;

WHALEYSVILLE: town had a shirt factory and saw mill; tomato factory; 3 stores; hat
maker lived there; had own school; she worked at a strawberry basket factory; quart
baskets for picking strawberries; and the crates for the baskets;

baskets were wooden; women made baskets men made the hoops and handles;

people stopping to buy strawberries; brought in lots of money;

changes that happened gradually over the years

Copyright 1996 Kelly Feltault

[this part is very slow, Maude is getting tired. She begins to tell me how nice it is to have
someone listen to her memories]


Copyright 1996 Kelly Feltault
Duration 46:39
Recording Date Jul 31, 1998
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Record #65

Type Audio
Title Delmarva Folklife Project: Interview with Edith Maddox & Sam Maddox, 14 August 1998
Description This interview was conducted by Kelly Feltault with Edith and Sam Maddox in Tyaskin, MD. In this…
Duration 1:32:51

All Fields in This Record

Type Audio
Title Delmarva Folklife Project: Interview with Edith Maddox & Sam Maddox, 14 August 1998
Description This interview was conducted by Kelly Feltault with Edith and Sam Maddox in Tyaskin, MD. In this interview, they talk about their life and the changes they've seen in the area over time. They begin by speaking about the cultural importance of sassafras root and how they make sassafras tea and other home remedies. Edith talks about her younger life in Whitehaven, remembering the work that people did including "tonging" in the winter and working in canneries in the summer. She also speaks about moving north during WWII and working as a riveter in an airplane factory. They both speak about changes in the area, noting the closing of important factories and lack of younger workers on farms.
In part 2, they continue their description of life around Tyaskin and Whitehaven and the changes they've seen. They talk about the security of life, leaving doors unlocked, and the close relationship of communities when they were younger. They also talk about work increased security during World War II, both at the factories where Edith riveted planes and at home where they had to black out windows. Edith also describes some of the entertainment in those days, including the Worlds' Fair in NY and Coney Island, and the different acts and shows that could be seen. Sam talks more about work in the area including oyster dredging and farming, as well as the challenges those industries had been facing at that time.

This interview is part of the Delmarva Folklife Project. For more information, see the [Edward H. Nabb Center Finding Aid](http://libapps.salisbury.edu/nabb-archives/local-history-archives/2003.004).
Transcript Interview Log

Interviewee: Edith Maddox & Sam Maddox
Tape #: MAAF/KF/MD/FTS8. 14.223/316

Interviewer: Kelly Feltault # of Tapes: 1 of 2
Date: 8/14/98 # of Sides: 2
Location: Tyaskin MD near Whitehaven; in Edith and Sam's kitchen

Topic: sassafras tea making; work during the war; riveting; tonging oysters; working in
canneries; quilting; death

Corresponding Photography Log #: MAAF/KF/MD/PS8.14.259-269

Comments: File name: mdft223.doc. See mdft224 for continuation of this interview.
Italics indicate song title or emphasis; “quotations” indicate direct transcription; [brackets
indicate additional information not on tape]. See FN08.14.98 for more details.

Shanie Shields recommended this couple to me. They are not the most talkative,
but Edith did begin talking and telling stories when she pulled out her quilts at the end of
the interview. A friend stops by on one of these tapes to check on the couple as Edith
does not drive and Sam is ill and cannot drive. The recorder and mic were on the kitchen
table, but I shifted the mic around because Edith and Sam sat at opposite ends of the
kitchen: Sam at the table, Edith behind me on a twin bed in corner of the kitchen.


[ask each to say their name; Edith begins but Sam interupts to say that I need to speak up
because his hearing aid doesn’t work well]

Edith Lamour Maddox [EM]: hard to get root for sassafras tea; bulldozing all the trees to
build now; pushes up the smaller stuff; land is theirs but had to sell the timber rights for

Sam Maddox [SM]: how lumbering has changed the mosquito population and their
location; land management so that the little trees aren’t killed in the process; nobody is
replanting the trees; farming in this wet weather been hard; corn didn’t last

EM: turkeys eating corn too; story of cat chasing wild turkey; making sassafras tea: cut
the root of the tree, Sam cuts it in blocks; split the big ones into usable size to work with
knife, need to make it into strips; put in water and boil it; turns red color; love the taste,
always had it in March every year; purified blood; mother drank it a lot and lived to be
103 years old;

Copyright 1997 by Kelly Feltault

Started in March because family always did that
SM: family always made it too; go with father to get roots;

EM: red and white kind; family always had the red; take skin off and then turns red;
keeps better; no other uses besides tea; last time made it was 2 years ago; now the woods
are posted and can’t go in them; not good to be in woods alone now; don’t know what
you'll meet; best to dig up in winter around Dec.

EM: other home remedies; herbs; making poultice or “poulster”

SM: finding sassafras; look for sanding soil not in the low bottom because that’s white;
checking to see if it’s red or white sassafras; “bleeding it red”

EM: good to chew on just the root; other herb called “live for ever” which was good for
boils and things; beat it and added some things then put it on a splinter or something to
get it out; other plant called cat nip can’t remember what they did with that, lots of mints
always growing;

[SM doesn’t hear EM asking him questions]

EM: plant with thorns that grew in the soybeans; herb used for making a paste; tall plant;
been long time since she’s seen these plants; horseradish good to grow too but she finds it
too hot; grows it for neighbors; heirloom plants

SM from Somerset county, Fairmount; EM born in Whitehaven;

SM: don’t pull up the entire tree, don’t want to kill it; [my experience has been that you
dig up the youngest trees];

EM: how they would dig up the roots and chew on them to school; teachers would make
them throw it away; school was around the corner but now it’s a house; was a store too
but not there anymore; walk across the field to school; parents farmed the land around the
area and dad oystered the winter; only around that area; used to go to Potomac; but one
winter if froze and snowed and waited so long to get home decided not to go that far
again; promised the lord he wasn’t going again; didn’t own his own boat but used one;
worked alone

SM: oystered too in the winter with his father; didn’t like it; hated to go to the Potomac;

EM: hand tonging was the work men did in the winter around there; in summer they
farmed or worked in canning factory; women peeled tomatoes; cap strawberries [cut the
caps off the berries]; most women worked for Mr. Roberts who owned a fruit processing
plant: strawberries, peaches, canning plant sweet potatoes; tomatoes; tomatoes were the
last of the season; then women would make holly wreathes and ship to Baltimore; Philly;

Copyright 1997 by Kelly Feltault

not much to do then; no factories except for shucking oysters in the winter; her mother
never shucked oysters;

[why not? Is this why Edith never went into the business but instead into the canning
factories? |

EM: [lask her about her work experience] “Oh, no I left, I went to the city.” Too boring
down here; piece job couldn’t make any money; couldn’t get ahead; wanted year round
job; worked in aircraft factory making planes; was a riveter; during WWI; left when
soldiers began to return, all their jobs waiting for them so she had to come back to the
shore; lived in NJ but worked in Bristol PA; sent you to school to learn the trade first; lots
of women in the plant mostly women

[Edith gets up and gets a scrap book to show me photos and clippings; I quickly learn that
she keeps everything]

worked at Delaney’s when returned home; then went to Cole bros [Cole Waters ?]. Fruit
in Nanticoke; then worked at chicken plant; quit work to stay with her mother until she
died; 13 years taking care of her mother who was sick and couldn’t be alone; worked at
Buddy boys canning too

preferred the reviting work; others were harder; standing; not regular hours; swing shift
work; standing in water at veggi plants and canning factories;

[Edith has used Sam’s inability to hear everything to reframe the visit as an interview
with her. I feel like I need to include Sam and ask him more about his oystering days and
periodically ask him a few questions. Edith asks him to put in the hearing aids. But the
conversation always returns to Edith]

EM: goes into cycle; in Aug. be in the canning factory but before that you would be
picking beans and before that picking strawberries; all gone now [does this mean that
black workers really were responsible for much of the food production, not only picking
but canning the same things?] no jobs coming in now;

[hearing aid squeaking in background]

some of her family moved up to NJ and stayed there working in “good jobs” meaning
they kept the same job and didn’t switch seasonally; the ones that stayed were the male

[mosquito around the mic; Edith gets up to get something to show me about her family]

father wouldn’t take the boys oystering with him; didn’t want them in the business

[similar patterns as in Bellevue]

Copyright 1997 by Kelly Feltault

says they didn’t get any money for their oysters;
SM: how plenty of old people in the area worked themselves hard to cultivate the land in
the area and now people are letting it grow up wild or plowing it under; they prefer to

grow their own veggies then now what’s sprayed on it;

Aesthetic of growing and doing for yourself; prepared for winters; makes preserves; EM
makes all sorts of preserves; makes jelly; how this work gives you something to do

SM: can’t sell these preserves anymore;

EM: this generation won’t pick they won’t work the fields; [but the Hispanics are
working the fields]; factories disappeared in the 70s; Steven Daubly’s factory; Will
Dauber; all had factories; she peeled tomatoes got so much a bucket; came scalded;
description of the process; paid by bucket; beans got paid by the hamper;

EM: description of community flour mill that was near the Whitehaven ferry;

SM: describing changes in agric. And farming; generational changes and technological
changes; planting by signs; call it planting by the “moon”; describes calendars;

EM: used farmer’s almanac, goes and gets a 1968 copy
[can hear cicadas in background outside]

SM: talks about oystering in winter; and how he didn’t like it; learning how to make diff.
Things; mules his father owned;


EM: describing homecomings, now called “Back Home days” in October, annual event;
[I try to engage SM regarding his mule stories]

SM: farming practices, mule driving; working and walking 12 hours a day; only work
you could do; glad things changed; school [it is difficult to understand SM at points]

EM: how safe things were then; nobody bothered you; leaving doors unlocked people
knew what was theirs and what was not; didn’t bother other people’s property or things;

[shows me almanac]
EM: still has WWII stamp books to get shoes, food, etc.;

[I ask about working in PA and NJ]

Copyright 1997 by Kelly Feltault

EM: describes security at airplane plant; couldn’t leave without showing id. Badge;
guards walking through looking for badge every 30 minutes; story of one day she took it
off; reasons for security; description of guard tower in water outside plant [it was on the

Description of security measures at home; not letting light outside; blocking windows
during the war; describes how she felt about this; “when you’re younger you don’t take
too much at heart like that”; not allowed to talk about work off plant grounds;

Story of time when 8 of them decided to come back home for visit, going to Salisbury;
bus loaded had to be back at work by Monday, told driver had defense jobs; driver got
them a cab; story of cab ride; flying to Philly; one girl was praying the whole way;

Quite many women from her area working in the plant: sister, 2 sister-in-laws; and some
others from shore; but rest was Philly, NJ;

Liked the work, met lots of people; had to leave MD, nothing to keep her here; no
opportunities; say lots of things during this time; went to World’s Fair in NY; would go
Thursdays and Sundays; doing house work then; those were her days off; go to Coney Isl;

Coney Island: remembers the tunnels, the rides, how it has changed went there a few
years ago; saw Pres. Roosevelt’s body procession on the train; mother went to World’s

[Edith’s oral history is much more interesting than what I originally came here to talk
with them about]

describes side shows at World’s Fair: fattest woman, biggest this; people with deformed
limbs; technology shows; [gets up to get her scrap book of the world’s fair]

SM and I discuss his current crops and the drought; tomatoes on table; hunting, rabbit and
turkey hunting; belongs to hunting club in Somerset county where he grew up; no
muskrat trapping because he worked on the water and didn’t have time to wander the

[EM returns]

discuss muskrat as food; not being able to sell hides now; prices on the meat this year [2
for $5 in their area]

SM: working the water; tonging and dredging oysters; decline in oysters; walked 2 miles

to Rumbley and Goose Creek to get boats and go to work [walking long distances is a
recurring theme in Sam’s conversation]; 4 on boat, sometimes couldn’t get enough men;

Copyright 1997 by Kelly Feltault

Rough weather; working on a skipjack; sailing as slow process; didn’t like being gone so
long; worked on the potomac; come home for xmas, and new years, then not again until
March; now drive home from places; model T’s not that fast;

Food on boat; sleeping cabin on boat

Father took him on boat; recalls the first year; didn’t like it; had hand cranks; 2 guys
working together the hand crank; had to orchestrate moves

WWII changed things; remembers that was when the hand cranks were taken off and
motors put on skipjacks;

Loss of resources; Rumbley full of skipjacks and bugeyes when he worked there;
recalling oysters bigger than his hand; misses eating them;

[silent pause]

SM: learning from father about working the water and a farm; grandfather taught him to
sail; boys on the deck, father’s in the cabins [I guess they were captains, sounds like his
father was the captain]

Last time he was out on Tangier sound; wind blowing story; diff. Btwn working on a
sailing vessel and motorized vessel; tilting and leaning diff. On both;

Didn’t like anything about working the water; had to go; nothing else to do; then went
into the Army and “bid the water bye-bye;” 2 men to a crank and sometimes a 3" man; to
dump the rake;

[EM is going through a scrap book looking for things to show me]

SM: went to school in Manokin in Somerset County; story of family horse “Dan” driving
the buggy; shell roads; roads much brighter than today;

EM: [return to world’s fair topic]; found the plant handbook from where she worked at
Fleetlings in PA;

Bridge they crossed to get to plant was in Burlington NJ; shows postcard/photo; took the
bus to work everyday; changed in Burlington then went to Bristol; plant had its own bus
[sorting through more memorabilia]

how Fleet planes were sturdy and didn’t fall apart; not a rush job; she worked on the
rutter and the tail; 3 plants on compound; shows me picture of where the guard stood out

on the water;


Copyright 1997 by Kelly Feltault

Copyright 1997 by Kelly Feltault
Duration 1:32:51
Recording Date Aug 14, 1998
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Record #66

Type Audio
Title Delmarva Folklife Project: Interview with Stevon Sample, 17 January 1998
Description This interview was conducted by Kelly Feltault with Stevon Sample in Exmore, VA. In this intervie…
Duration 1:23:22

All Fields in This Record

Type Audio
Title Delmarva Folklife Project: Interview with Stevon Sample, 17 January 1998
Description This interview was conducted by Kelly Feltault with Stevon Sample in Exmore, VA. In this interview, he describes his introduction to graphic design and the various work's he's done. He describes how he began drawing and his inspiration for drawing, noting some symbols and visions that have inspired some of his work. He speaks about his comics, the materials and mediums he uses, and the meanings he hopes to put behind them, trying to reach the youth and covey feelings from experiences that they might relate to. He also describes his church, Night Faith Church of Deliverance, and the influences religion has on his art and daily life. He also describes some of the works and murals he's done for businesses and his church, describing what they depict and the work that went into them (with a description of processing chicken at a chicken plant that he made a safety mural for).
In part 2, he continues his discussion about his art and inspirations for his art. He describes his involvement with WAVES (Workers Alliance of the Virginia Eastern Shore) and the various people that were involved with that organization, and his experiences at various expeditions that allowed him to show off his art. He also mentions his participation at the "Art Expose" at "Local Shores", conducted by Lucy Harlow, where he was able to show his work to a more affluent crowd. He also speaks about the needs of artists, most notably exposure for their work.

This interview is part of the Delmarva Folklife Project. For more information, see the [Edward H. Nabb Center Finding Aid](http://libapps.salisbury.edu/nabb-archives/local-history-archives/2003.004).
Duration 1:23:22
Recording Date Jan 17, 1998
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Record #67

Type Audio
Title Delmarva Folklife Project: Interview with Lena Trower, 2 March 1998
Description This interview was conducted by Kelly Feltault with Lena Trower in Exmore, VA. in this interview,…
Duration 2:23:18

All Fields in This Record

Type Audio
Title Delmarva Folklife Project: Interview with Lena Trower, 2 March 1998
Description This interview was conducted by Kelly Feltault with Lena Trower in Exmore, VA. in this interview, Lena Trower describes her life and her involvement in the clam, oyster, and conch business, as well as nursing an invalid man. She describes her job working at Bernie Conch picking conch and working in a clam house, paid by the bucket. She describes the work environment and the tools she used, describing how she would clean a clam for work and how she learned to do the work. She also talks about the social aspect of the shucking house, noting the work ethic and sense of community that the shuckers had, as well as her boss, Bernie, and his involvement with the workers. She also describes some of the foodways with conch cooking and other sea-foodstuffs, mentioning the various recipes and methods she often uses or has used.
In part 2, she speaks more of her life as a conch shucker and a mother. She describes her life with her kids, including the importance of religion in the family, and the challenges she faced as an African American mother. She also describes her work with taking care of "trouble makers" in her community and raising them to be respectful, hard working men when they left. She describes more of the cooking she would do with conchs and soul food, noting how she would sometimes eat conch while she worked at the shucking house, sharing fond memories of her past job.
In part 3, she speaks more about her younger life on a farm, describing some of the livestock they raised like ducks, geese, and hogs. She describes processing and cleaning ducks and her method for plucking feathers. She also speaks more of her mother on the farm, helping her clean chickens for dinners. She also mentions her pride in the children she raised and how happy she is in how well they turned out.

This interview is part of the Delmarva Folklife Project. For more information, see the [Edward H. Nabb Center Finding Aid](http://libapps.salisbury.edu/nabb-archives/local-history-archives/2003.004).
Transcript **Interview Log**
**Narrator:** Lena Trower
**Interviewer:** Kelly Feltault
**Date:** 3/2/98
**Location:** Exmore, VA; in Lena's home
**Topic:** conch picking; clam shucking; African American community; foodways; work;
raising children
**Tape Number:** MAAF/KF/VA/FT3.2.407
**Number of Tapes:** 2
**Number of Sides:** 2 of 4
**Corresponding Photography Log #:**
**Comments:** Filename: Vaft407.doc. SeeFieldnotes: FN03.02.98. Italics indicate
emphasis; [brackets indicate additional information not on the tape or asides by
fieldworker]; “quotations indicate direct transcription.”
**Introduction:** Lena Trower is [Stevon Sample's]( https://libapps.salisbury.edu/enduring-connections/media/delmarva-folklife-project-interview-with-stevon-sample-17-january-1998) mother. I met her the day I went to interview Stevon, and after we began talking I learned that she had worked in seafood factories all her life. She no longer works in these factories but has recently started taking in children to baby sit.
**BIO:** Lena Trower; bom Northampton Co.; in Machapongo;
[radio on in background, religious service]
**OCC:** worked at Bernie[?] Conch, picking conch; also worked in clam house; shucking
clams in Cheriton; worked by the piece opening clams; open, pull out “nasty piece” then
the last 2 pieces go in separate containers; Bernie worked in clams before conchs too;
called it ‘squeezing’ clams; she was the fastest; made $80-90 dollars a day; paid by the
bucket; bigger than a gallon bucket
Clams came down conveyor belt and buckets were in front of you; stand and clean the
clams; tongues in one bucket; hearts in another; “girl, you could make some money. Oh
well, it’s gone.” [laughter]

Use a clam knife; [asks Stevon to get clam knife out of kitchen] stopped dredging for
clams in low part of county but still do it further north; clam strips; describes clam parts
that are edible;
[Stevon finds knife]
*Copyright 1996 Kelly Feltault*

clams go through hot water first which opens them up a little bit; then knife goes in
easier; other girls try to keep up with her; worked the other “girls to death”;

**LEARNING:** “just came natural”; worked in the fields first and went to “inside work” on
the clams; had to raise children by herself; 4; didn’t like fieldwork; always had Sunday
off; Story of some other jobs she’s had; taking care of invalid man; getting him to do things
for himself; stories of working for this man [can’t remember his name];
man was wealthy, owned lots of land, kept peacocks; not making enough salary so had to leave
that job; wanted her kids to graduate from college so had to earn more money; Lists off her kids and where they graduated from high school and who went to college; raised them by herself; success of her children; story of oldest son; defining success of her family and grandchildren by their marriages, number of children and if they own their own home
**CLAMS:** 25-30 women worked there and then some men; diff; jobs there: shucking,
cleaning clams; cleaning out black stuff and small shells; then ice them up; she has iced
them up too; how cold your hands got; place was heated but you are hot up top but your
feet are cold; boots, 4-5 pairs of stockings plus “paper in there too” in the winter;
**CONCH:** not long to do it; go through water; dumped on belt, take ice pick and pull meat
out; take off shell [this is not the hard shell but the foot that closes the hard shell]; pops
off; “shell go one way and meat go the other”; can go really fast;
**SHUCKING HOUSE CULT:** talking and laughing; if not careful forget to do your job
and people start beating you; she didn’t take part in that because it slowed her down and
lost money; talk very heavy on a Monday morning after off the whole weekend; hear
some bad tales;
How when you get down to the last 2-3 “cages” of conch everyone starts working really
fast trying to pick as much as possible because when those are gone the day is done and
you need to make your money;
Somedays go to work at 6 a.m. and be home by 8 or 10 a.m.; now even slower she hears;
conchs slack off in the winter and get better in the spring; Bemie doesn’t care, he makes
his money because conch are so high on the market [odd that some of the summer crabbers turn to conching in the winter in VA, why is that?]
if really bad only making $100 per week;

Copyright 1996 Kelly Eeltault

Bernie, Olivia, Olivia’s husband; were the only white people; everyone else is black;
people used to come watch them pick; would sample the conch; recalls two other white
ladies that picked: one lived in Machipongo, Della Mae Brady and Francis and when
Lena quit they quit because she gave them rides to work;
Della Mae worked squeezing clams; more description of cleaning conch and clams; how
Olivia would call them the night before or that morning to get them to come to work,
would promise that there was enough to pick until 2 p.m. but not always;
Bernie; describes him and the xmas and new year’s party they would have; always had an
oyster roast; drinking and smoking going on so she didn’t stay for those;
Della and Francis always worked next to Lena; lunch hour at the conch house; how conch
stink when you pick them at first;
**FOOD WAYS:** conch cooking; boils them with vinegar and hot sauce; use only the little
ones; eat with cocktail sauce and pepper; how they were delicious; bigger ones you
would grind up and fix like clam cakes; use onion, egg, meal or flour then beat up; same
with clams and can use jalapeno peppers; use the sea clams; cooking the tongues and
strips; cut onion real fine;

Cooks for people every other day: co-workers of Stevon’s order meals from Lena; she
cooks them and sells them; does ham; one guy called the “pork chop man” because all he
wants is pork chops; last weekend she made cabbage, collards, BBQ chicken, homemade
macaroni and cheese, sweet potatoes for people; $4.50 per plate; will do it for people
anywhere; one girl comes from Cape Charles;
Crab cakes, fish, seafood platters she makes for sale; her own combread recipe; taught
self to cook; taught her sister to cook; her homemade rolls are everyone’s favorite; loves
to cook; keeps you busy; “when you are doing something for somebody else you want to
do it the best you can” experiments on Stevon, he eats anything; crab balls; candied sweet
potato recipe
More on the pork chop man; prayers she says over the dinners for repeat business;
cooking chittlins; story of first time Stevon ever ate chittlins and smelled them;
How she cooks her chittlins: Accent, onions, peppers, celery; cuts down on the odor; also
with vinegar; preparing them before cooking; cleaning them;
How she can cook everything but cakes and desserts; “me and cakes just don’t get
Neighborhood they live in now; buying their house; first one they’ve owned; moved in
1996; didn’t believe they could get this home; what she had to go through to get the
house; her sister lives in Philly but still owns property near Lena; Lena is the oldest of
bro. And sisters
*Copyright 1996 Kelly Feltault*
[Lena mentions that Stevon’s mom is her sister, and that she passed away. Stevon came
to live with Lena when he was in middle school]
story of how she adopted several young boys who were on the wrong path; got them
going to church, stay in school; so more kids than the 4 she birthed; raising these boys;
stories of that;

Working with children; how school is so important; church family as extended family;
inviting me to church; convention in Salisbury; for women only; beliefs in God; tent
revivals, how she became a member 20 years ago; still have outdoor revivals; don’t really
do it in VA, have to go up to MD; how young girls really need these; condition of Af/Am
children today and how she feels;
How boys she took in were trouble makers but when they left her at age 18 they were
regular men, working and knew right from wrong;
Lena is married, husband lives in Salisbury; used to live in Hampton VA at one point;
story of one day they were reintroduced; hadn’t seen him in 30 years;
Decline of picking and shucking work; moved clam house;
**SINGING:** happened at clam house too; also at conch house; picking crab was too slow
for her wanted faster money; friend picks crab houses; name is Hampton and lives in
Painter, no phone; very fast picker; friends for a long time; brings her crab meat;
**FOOD WAYS:** Doesn’t like working with eels or eating them; especially likes swelling
toads, not like fish really; loves hard heads and mullets; stuffed flounder with crab meat;
using bacon to wrap fish stuffed with crab meat; seafood salad with tuna;
People call her for cooking tips and to solve cooking problems
Work has always kept her going; always wanted to do for others; African American
community in general
Lena offers to introduce me to Hampton; the crab picker; how hampton made cakes last summer and the two of them sold them; in Exmore; Making macaroni and cheese from scratch; uses 2 kinds of cheeses; little sugar too; egg; assembling it;
**CONCHS:** as aphrodisiac; eat only a few or “your husband and you might not be able to
stay in the house together;” laughed at the girls she worked with because of this; lots of
talk about “going out” at the picking house, but always seemed to come back pregnant;
women who picked and had decided no more babies, doctors even told some of them no;
*Copyright 1996 Kelly Feltault*
but they all got pregnant too; would eat them at work, take them home to; then in a month
they’d be pregnant;

Eating them at work; she would pass them by; ate a few at home but afraid of them;
recalls fond memories of working at the conch factory;
Watennen would bring the conch; pressure cooker outside; steam them then pick them
like crab process; how they stunk even fresh; hard to find nice people to work for these

**PAY:** Paid $ 1.75 a bucket; wore a card on a string that hung down your back and they
would punch holes in it for every bucket you picked so at end of day you counted up the
holes on your card; then started working by the hour for $5.00 an hour; sometimes it was
less than working by the bucket; if quit at 9 it was; could pick 10-15 buckets an hour;
depended on the meat;
How the meat was pretty after you picked and cleaned them; then want to eat them;
didn’t smell afterwards either; would crush up the shells or people would take them home
and use around flower beds; describes some she took home; Gardens, growing orange trees
*Copyright 1996 Kelly Feltault*
**Interview Log**
**Narrator:** Lena Trower
***Interviewer:** Kelly Feltault # of Tapes: 2 of 2
**Date:** 3/2/98
**Location:** Exmore VA; in Lena’s home
**Topic:** conch picking; foodways; aphrodisiac qualities of seafoods;
*Tape Number:** MAAF/KF/VA/FT3.2.408
**Number of Sides:** 3 and 4 of 4
**Corresponding Photography Log #:**
**Comments:** Filename: Vaft408.doc. SeeFieldnotes: FN03.02.98. Italics indicate
emphasis; [brackets indicate additional information not on the tape or asides by
fieldworker]; “quotations indicate direct transcription.”
This is a continuation of tape Vaft407.doc, MAAF/KF/VA/FT3.2.407.
Farming; raising ducks, geese and hogs; go to their house to get the ducks; she used to
pluck them; how to pluck them: boil water, get a plastic trash bag; dip duck in boiling
water, wrap in newspaper, put into plastic bag, sit for 5 minutes; then feathers come right
off; only have to pull on the wings;
Story of her mother on the fann; How Stevon came to live with her;
**SIDE B**
*Copyright 1996 Kelly Feltault*
Duration 2:23:18
Recording Date Mar 2, 1998
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Record #68

Type Audio
Title Interview with William T. Miles, 12 July 2004
Description Mr. William T. Miles is a retired teacher and administrator from Wicomico and Somerset counties. …
Duration 56:19

All Fields in This Record

Type Audio
Title Interview with William T. Miles, 12 July 2004
Description Mr. William T. Miles is a retired teacher and administrator from Wicomico and Somerset counties. In the interview, he speaks about life on the Eastern Shore for African Americans, segregated baseball leagues, and baseball games between African Americans and whites. He also speaks about the Eastern Shore Baseball Hall of Fame and a Mr. Sam Doane; a prominant member of the Hall of Fame's Board of Directors.

This interview is part of the Teaching American History Project.
For more information, see the [Edward H. Nabb Center Finding Aid](https://libapps.salisbury.edu/nabb-archives/finding-aid.php?id=1550)
Duration 56:19
Recording Date Jul 12, 2004
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Record #69

Type Audio
Title Interview with Jennings Leroy Muir, 14 July 2004
Description Mr. Jennings Muir is the curator of the Eastern Shore Baseball Hall of Fame in Salisbury, MD. In …
Duration 55:37

All Fields in This Record

Type Audio
Title Interview with Jennings Leroy Muir, 14 July 2004
Description Mr. Jennings Muir is the curator of the Eastern Shore Baseball Hall of Fame in Salisbury, MD. In the interview, he talks about the Eastern Shore minor leagues in the early 1900's, and the influence of African Americans in Major League baseball.

This interview is part of the Teach