Alton White

Alton White

Material Information

Alton White
Series Title:
Florida civil rights oral history project
White, Alton
Burroughs, Ericka Lynise
University of South Florida Libraries -- Florida Studies Center. -- Oral History Program
University of South Florida -- Tampa Library
Place of Publication:
Tampa, Fla
University of South Florida Tampa Library
Publication Date:
Physical Description:
1 sound file (37 min.) : digital, MPEG4 file + ;


Subjects / Keywords:
African American business enterprises -- Florida -- Tampa ( lcsh )
Urban renewal -- Florida -- Tampa ( lcsh )
Civil rights workers -- Interviews ( lcsh )
Civil rights workers -- Florida ( lcsh )
Oral history. ( local )
Online audio. ( local )
interview ( marcgt )
Oral history ( local )
Online audio ( local )


Alton White describes his father Moses White's businesses on Central Avenue, Palm Dinette and the Cozy Corner, and his father's position as a community leader. He also discusses urban renewal's impact on Central Avenue.
Interview conducted June 30, 1994.
System Details:
Mode of access: World Wide Web.
Statement of Responsibility:
interviewed by Ericka Burroughs.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of South Florida Library
Holding Location:
University of South Florida
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
020797302 ( ALEPH )
436214297 ( OCLC )
F55-00021 ( USFLDC DOI )
f55.21 ( USFLDC Handle )

Postcard Information



This item has the following downloads:

Full Text
xml version 1.0 encoding UTF-8 standalone no
record xmlns http:www.loc.govMARC21slim xmlns:xsi http:www.w3.org2001XMLSchema-instance xsi:schemaLocation http:www.loc.govstandardsmarcxmlschemaMARC21slim.xsd
leader nim 2200457Ia 4500
controlfield tag 001 020797302
005 20140206105314.0
006 m u
m d
007 sz zunnnnnzned
cr nna||||||||
008 090910s1994 fluuunn sd t n eng d
datafield ind1 8 ind2 024
subfield code a F55-00021
0 033
b 3934
1 100
White, Alton.
Alton White
h [electronic resource] /
interviewed by Ericka Burroughs.
Tampa, Fla. :
University of South Florida Tampa Library,
1 sound file (37 min.) :
digital, MPEG4 file +
e 1 transcript (digital, PDF file)
Florida civil rights oral history project
Alton White describes his father Moses White's businesses on Central Avenue, Palm Dinette and the Cozy Corner, and his father's position as a community leader. He also discusses urban renewal's impact on Central Avenue.
Interview conducted June 30, 1994.
Mode of access: World Wide Web.
Streaming audio.
White, Alton.
White, Moses.
African American business enterprises
z Florida
Urban renewal
Civil rights workers
v Interviews.
Civil rights workers
7 655
Oral history.
2 local
Online audio.
Burroughs, Ericka Lynise.
University of South Florida Libraries.
Florida Studies Center.
Oral History Program.
University of South Florida.
Tampa Library.
4 856

xml version 1.0 encoding UTF-8
transcript timecoded false doi F55-00021 skipped 15 dategenerated 2015-06-10 19:27:50
segment idx 0time text length 248 Ericka Burroughs: Today is June 30, 1994. I'm interviewing Mr. Alton White about his father's businesses, Cozy Corner and Palm Dinette, that were located on Central Avenue [Tampa]. Let me just begin asking you which business did your dad own first?
153 Alton White: The first business was the Palm Dinette-
29 EB: Okay.
3143 AW: -which was a restaurant. It seated about fifty people, and we had the regular type of home-cooked meals: chicken, pork chops, shrimp, fish-
425 EB: Sounds good. (laughs)
585 AW: -baked ham, steak. It was about-I guess eight or nine of us in the establishment.
667 EB: When-what were the dates of those? Can you remember, or about-?
7123 AW: Um-it must have started about 1945, and went up until urban renewal, which had to be 19-oh, I know exactly when it was.
816 EB: Let me just-
918 Pause in recording
1020 EB: Okay. What year?
1123 AW: September 20, 1973.
1246 EB: Oh, okay. So it closed September 20, 1973?
1379 AW: Well, it was closed before that, but that's when urban renewal acquired it.
1493 EB: Oh, okay. So it was open basically around the same time that Rogers Dining Room was open.
158 AW: Yes.
1637 EB: Was that one of your competitors?
17122 AW: But they would eat in our restaurant one day, and we would eat in theirs the next day. Different types of (inaudible).
1852 EB: (laughs) So, was that like a little competition?
19442 AW: Yeah. Well, like I said, there was about nine, ten-nine, eleven restaurants, and we all were family and knew each other and borrowed bread from each other sometime. One person might run out of flour, and they'd send down to Rogers, get flour; they ran out of bread, we'd send them bread. Johnnie Gray, the Greek Stand, the Pepper Pot Grill, all those guys, the Brooklyn Caf-we all exchanged. It was like a family; it was one big family.
2017 EB: Yeah, that's-
21AW: I was a little kid, but I was down there cooking.
22109 EB: That's what really fascinated me about Central Avenue; that it was really close and it was like a family.
23310 AW: Well, before integration, so everybody on the weekend, everything that was happening was happening on Central Avenue: the dances, standing on the corner to see your friends. You had something new, you couldn't wait to get on the corner of Central and Constant, stand on the corner and let everybody see it.
2442 EB: Was Palm Dinette in the same location?
25189 AW: 1308 Central Avenue. It was the same location for twenty-five, thirty years. And then we enlarged it in 1959, I think, and went from fifty [to] seventy-five seats to probably a hundred.
2613 EB: Oh, okay.
27107 AW: And had the big floodlight in the middle of the floor, and it shined up on this revolving crystal. And-
2881 EB: What-I'm sorry. I was just going to ask you what were the hours of operation?
29218 AW: Well, we usually would open up around nine-thirty, ten o'clock, close up two-thirty or three o'clock after the bars, depending on how many people would come in there. We did a lot of business after the bars closed.
30EB: So you mean two-thirty in the morning?
3119 AW: The bars- Yeah.
3266 EB: Oh, really? So you opened up like nine o'clock in the evening?
33AW: In the morning.
3480 EB: Nine o'clock in the morning to two-thirty in the next-the following morning?
3527 AW: The next morning. Yeah.
36EB: Wow. Okay. And so, was your dad usually there the entire time?
37289 AW: Oh, yeah. He had a cot in the office, and he'd go along and steal time away from his business. Different family members worked in there. So my uncle was-he and my uncle started out as partners-my uncle Chester-so he'd take the first shift, the second shift, and they would work it out.
3860 EB: Is this your uncle that was featured in the (inaudible)?
3929 AW: No, it was another uncle.
4049 EB: Okay, all right. So what days were they open?
4126 AW: Every day of the week.
4222 EB: Seven days a week.
43AW: Seven days a week.
4471 EB: That's amazing. And on Sunday, did it also open up at nine o'clock?
4586 AW: Mm-hm. Sometimes it might open at eleven. But it was a seven-day-a-week operation.
4634 EB: So you started breakfast then.
47AW: Yeah, sure.
48EB: That's interesting. I think that's neat. Did you ever work in the restaurant?
4935 AW: Ever since I was six years old.
5012 EB: (laughs)
5138 AW: Yeah, I've put in some time there.
5240 EB: Do you have any brothers or sisters?
5364 AW: Yes. There were four boys and three girls. Everybody worked.
54EB: Everybody worked there.
5521 AW: Everybody worked.
56129 EB: (coughs) I think that's really neat. Rogers-I interviewed Mrs. Harris about Rogers Dining Room. They had similar experiences.
57210 AW: See? Like I said, we were all family. We knew all of them and they knew all of us. I knew all of their children. In fact, we all lived in the neighborhood together for about four or five years or something.
58EB: Now, he kept-Palm Dinette was open from 1945 until like around-let's say the early seventies [1970s]. What about Cozy Corner?
59349 AW: Well-I misled you, because we closed the Palm Dinette and made it part of Cozy Corner. That was the renovations in 1959. So Palm Dinette became Cozy Corner, and it was all one operation. And we bought that from the Lang family, who had run Cozy Corner for about ten years while we were in business at Palm Dinette. And then my dad acquired them.
60151 EB: Oh, okay. Right. Now in this photograph that you saw-at that time, your dad just owned Palm Dinette, right? [EB and AW looking through photographs]
6111 AW: Mm-yes.
62EB: Or did he own both? Okay.
63205 AW: During that time-it was right close. It was either right after or right before, because Palm Dinette's still in the background. You see, the Palm Dinette was right there, and Cozy Corner is right here.
64EB: Right. So these renovations that you did, what did it do? Did it knock out-
65246 AW: What we did, we dunked a hole in the Palm Dinette and went right straight through that, and used a lot of that for storage room. There were rooming houses upstairs; we rented out the rooming houses. Chico put that front cube on. Interviewed-?
6677 EB: Yeah. Right. We're gonna interview them and their uncle. So there was no-
67AW: You know what? I think this happened-this picture was in 1963.
68EB: Okay. I'll put a date on that.
6998 AW: Yeah, this is 1963. And the renovation took place in fifty-nine [1959]. So we did own it then.
70EB: Okay.
71AW: Yes.
72EB: So why did you have the two signs?
73AW: The two what?
74EB: The two signs. It looks like there's two different businesses.
75135 AW: When we bought Cozy Corner, the family-type restaurants were going out, and this is probably the first fast food-type of operation.
76EB: Oh! So Cozy Corner was-
77144 AW: So Cozy Corner became the fast food. There wasn't but six stools in there at the counter. It really was not encouraging to sit down and eat.
78EB: Exactly, takeout.
79577 AW: It was takeout. And so it went from-Central Avenue was changing. It was not getting the family traffic that it used to get. You know, like in sixty-three [1963]. Well, certain people had started going to different places and moving on different sides of town. At one time all the blacks were in Belmont Heights or Jackson Heights, Sulphur Springs or Port Tampa. So there was no very diversified place where you could go eat. There was no McDonald's or Burger King. But the family situation had kind of changed, started changing. So we went to more of a fast food operation.
80242 EB: Okay, I understand. And so after you changed-after your father acquired Cozy Corner, the Palm Dinette basically no longer existed. I mean, you didn't have it listed separately as another business, like in the city directory. There was no-
81AW: No. Closed it down.
82EB: Only as Cozy Corner. Now, that remained a fast food restaurant?
83AW: What?
8443 EB: Cozy Corner. No, it was-well, you said-
85AW: The fast food and then-yeah, fast food.
8670 EB: But then you also could sit people, because you also had a dining-
87101 AW: Only six stools. See, we closed the dining room, and made it like a storage room for Cozy Corner.
88139 EB: Oh, okay. (coughs) Excuse me, I'm just getting over a cold. (coughs) So, Cozy Corner actually remained there until like around seventy-
8948 AW: Seventy-three [1973]. September (inaudible).
90EB: Okay. So Palm Dinette seated about fifty people.
91AW: Yeah.
92EB: And then when you went to Cozy Corner-
93AW: He enlarged-
9436 EB: -it became a takeout restaurant.
95AW: Well, yeah.
96EB: Okay. What did Cozy Corner sell?
9728 AW: Chicken and yellow rice-
98EB: That sounds good.
99AW: -hot dogs, and chicken sandwiches.
100EB: That's interesting. And the hours of operation was still the same?
101AW: Well-
102EB: So did it no longer serve breakfast?
103AW: No, they did not serve breakfast. Same-operation hours were about the same.
10455 EB: Oh, that's neat. How old were you around that time?
105329 AW: In 1963, I was a freshman at Florida A&M [Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University]. I said sixty-three [1963]-yeah, 1963. (inaudible). Nineteen fifty-nine-that picture was taken-wait a minute. My mind is playing tricks on me. I went to college in 1959, and I graduated in 1963. So that picture was taken in 1959.
10631 EB: Okay, let me put that down.
10724 AW: Nineteen fifty-nine.
108EB: Okay. That's good that you can help us, because see, the Florida Sentinel, I don't believe, had a date for that. So that's helpful. A lot of their pictures they don't have dates for, which is-not good.
109AW: That's unreal. That's unreal. That's unheard of.
11061 EB: (coughs) Did you mother also participate in the business?
11144 AW: Yeah, she did. Uh-huh. Everybody worked.
11250 EB: Do you have some newspaper clippings about it?
113133 AW: I had a book, a yearbook-I mean, a football program-somewhere, and it has some of those same pictures. I'm trying to find a date.
11468 EB: So did you play football at Florida A&M for a while, until-?
115104 AW: Yeah. Yeah, I went to-I played the whole while I was there, fifty-nine [1959] to sixty-three [1963].
11647 EB: What school did you graduate from in Tampa?
11775 AW: Middleton High School. I graduated from Middleton in fifty-nine [1959].
118184 EB: Let me ask you some questions about urban renewal. (rustles papers) I was interested in knowing exactly what role you played in urban renewal, and how the businesses were acquired.
119856 AW: In 1968, the federal government gave the city of Tampa a grant. It was named Model Cities. And about six months after it started, I went to work for them as citizens' participation coordinator. Over a two-year period of time, we converted Model Cities to the Metropolitan Development Agency. Under the Metropolitan Development Agency, through the auspices of urban renewal, we acquired and sold a lot of property during that time. So it had to be between sixty-nine [1969] to seventy-three [1973] that that transition took place. The properties were acquired by urban renewal with two appraises, generally. Whenever there was a controversy with the property, we got a third appraisal and compared the three appraisals. And nine times out of ten, the third appraisal was like a reviewing appraisal of the first two. And that's how property was acquired.
120EB: So you get the-I guess the owner-the best deal possible.
121AW: Yeah, exactly. Got the best deal for them.
12297 EB: Okay. Did the Housing Authority own-acquire any of these properties? Tampa Housing Authority?
123AW: No. No.
12463 EB: They didn't. So this was all acquired by the federal funds?
125AW: Federal-the city-
126EB: The city?
12765 AW: Yeah. The city was given the funds through a federal program.
128EB: To buy the properties?
129208 AW: To buy the properties. So it was actually the city urban renewal agency, acquired most of the property in Ybor City and-over in Mugge's Alley, that's where that was, where all those houses, shanty houses-
130EB: (coughs) Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah!
131136 AW: Mugge's Alley, that's the name of that property. Well, the city acquired all that property, but through the Tampa Housing Authority.
132EB: Which property through the Tampa Housing Authority?
133AW: The Central Park Village.
134EB: Oh, okay.
135347 AW: It was acquired through the Tampa Housing Authority. During that time it was-and always has been-the Tampa Housing Authority was a quasi-governmental agency. It acted in 1937 to acquire shacks, as they were, and provide decent housing. So that's when they-in 19-it had to be in 1957, fifty-eight [1958], that they built those units over there.
136EB: Okay. Now- (coughs) so, as I understand it, the city bought the businesses from the people, and the Housing Authority bought the-
137186 AW: The Housing-let's see-urban renewal agency bought the house, which was the city, and the Tampa Housing Authority acquired the properties right immediately adjacent to the businesses.
138EB: Okay, okay.
139AW: So all the houses basically were bought by the urban renewal agency-I'm sorry, Tampa Housing Authority.
14056 EB: The Housing Authority, and the urban renewal agency-
14132 AW: Acquired all the commercial.
142EB: Okay.
143AW: And all Central Avenue property.
14472 EB: Okay. And this was over a course of how many years, that they went-?
145AW: About two and a half years.
146EB: When did they start?
147(Phone rings)
148119 AW: They started in-well, they ended in seventy-three [1973], in September, so back out two years or a year and a half.
149EB: (coughs) Why did they choose Central Avenue?
150193 AW: It'd become a drug-ridden haven. The businesses were closing left and right. A lot of people were already closed down. The family restaurants had closed down. It was just a bad place to be.
151EB: How many businesses do you remember were open when urban renewal started?
152AW: It must have been about thirty.
153EB: Thirty businesses, as compared to how many?
154AW: Maybe a hundred and twenty.
15558 EB: Okay. And where were most of those businesses located?
15673 AW: Between Cass [Street] and Scott Street. It was a heavy concentration.
15776 EB: The highway [Interstate 275]-was the highway already built at that time?
158AW: No. That all became during-about the same time of urban renewal.
159EB: Okay. And so, they chose Central-when did they choose Central Avenue?
160AW: To what? To be bought? Like I said, it must have been 1977 or 1978.
16178 EB: That's when they chose-that's when they said, "Let's take Central Avenue"?
162AW: Yeah.
16362 EB: Well, when did they do the plans for the freeway? (coughs)
16489 AW: It had to be before-it was before that, because the freeway was before urban renewal.
165EB: So they basically had already planned to, I guess, to kind of-
166166 AW: No, they blocked off-they'd blocked off that neighborhood. I think that the interstate system hurt the businesses down there, because it kind of blocked them off.
167229 EB: Right, right. Well, what I'm saying is that the city had already planned-or whoever was in charge of the freeways, they had already planned to kind of interrupt Central Avenue with the freeway. That was already planned prior-
168464 AW: They called themselves not interrupting it, by putting it a block away, but what it did-it kind of made the traffic that generally would have gone through Central Avenue to go to Seventh Avenue and other places, would have (inaudible) down Central Avenue. So a lot of people would have bought stuff while they were going. Now they could go up on the freeway, and didn't have to go there. It was the Expressway Authority that bought-to put the expressway there.
169EB: Okay. So they actually-
170165 AW: You're dealing with three different governmental interests. You're dealing with urban renewal, Tampa Housing Authority, and the highway-the Expressway Authority.
171405 EB: Okay, all right. That makes sense. There's-this is a question that the person, like I said, who's concentrating on urban renewal-her name is Ginger Baber, and she couldn't make it today. But this is a question that she had wanted me to ask you. She wanted to know the role that the Housing Authority played in urban renewal. You told me that was acquiring the houses that were in Central Park Village.
17210 AW: Mm-hm.
173EB: What properties did the Housing Authority own?
174AW: What did it own before that?
175EB: Mm-hm.
176AW: None.
17791 EB: So they didn't own any. Okay. Were they giving away any property or anything like that?
178AW: Mm-nn [no].
179183 EB: She seemed to have found some records indicating that they-that the Housing Authority had property that changed hands from them to private owners. Do you know anything about that?
180AW: Mmm.
181EB: Okay.
182195 AW: Only one piece that I took out of urban renewal, and I gave it to-sold it to the Presbyterian people that were down here on North Boulevard. And they eventually sold and went out of the area.
183EB: Okay. So the Housing Authority could take properties and sell it to somebody else?
18445 AW: Yeah. Oh, yeah. They have eminent domain.
18569 EB: Okay. Um-let's see. What was the Metropolitan Development Agency?
186AW: It was a combination of all federal programs run by the city.
187EB: And what did they do? What was their role in urban renewal?
188798 AW: To beautify and correct the ills of the community. It was an experimental program to make a 10 percent population of the city a model city. They just wanted to renovate the homes in their particular target area, they just wanted to put in drainage, sewer. Protection of the police within experimental programs was to be initiated like a (inaudible) situation. They were supposed to do it in that area. So what happened was the school system received benefits from the Metropolitan Development Agency. Every agency in the community got some money from Metropolitan Development Agency to implement programs within that ten percent population. They had health care, dental care; that's how the Twenty-Second and Twenty-Sixth situation with the lead (inaudible) was-that's how it first got started.
189EB: (coughs) So it received funding from the development agency to begin?
19030 AW: Yeah, to begin that. Yeah.
19157 EB: Oh, okay. So what were some of the other benefactors?
192AW: The police department's first helicopter was bought-
193EB: Oh, okay.
194AW: -(inaudible). Nature's Classroom, through the school system. The community service offices through the school. Early childhood programs. All of them were funded initially with Model Cities-Metropolitan Development.
195159 EB: Oh, okay. That's interesting. So, let me just take you back to Central Avenue. When would you say Central Avenue kind of-sort of like fell into its demise?
196AW: Early seventies [1970s]. Early seventies [1970s].
197EB: And what were the-
198AW: In sixty-three [1963] they had a skirmish down there-
199EB: (coughs) Yeah, right.
200154 AW: The riots took place. And I guess it started in sixty-three [1963], and eventually went up to the seventies [1970s], into the early seventies [1970s].
201EB: And so your dad kind of like-just hang in there with his-with his business-
202264 AW: Yeah, he was just holding on to his business. It was the only way he knew how to make a living. And he and some other people, before the property was bought-when it was bought, he moved to West Tampa, and set up a Cozy Corner on Central-I mean, on Main Street.
203EB: Is the business still open?
2047 AW: No.
205EB: Oh, okay.
206AW: It closed about four years ago.
207131 EB: Okay. It seemed like somebody told me that there was a business that was surviving-that was in West Tampa. I guess that was it.
208AW: It was, mm-hm.
209108 EB: But it's not open anymore. So what would you say was the reasons for Central Avenue kind of breaking up?
210AW: Well-drugs.
211EB: So urban renewal didn't play a part in it?
212485 AW: Well, I don't think urban renewal played-urban renewal helped it, because there were some dilapidated houses in Mugge's Alley. So it upgraded the lifestyle of the people, because-in respect of what you think about Central Park Village and the Housing Authority, I think it was a lot better than Mugge's Alley was. So I don't think-I think that the interstate system itself didn't help the situation, because like I said, the flow of traffic didn't have to come down Central Avenue.
213EB: Right. What did your father do before he operated his businesses?
214AW: He came here and opened a business in 1944. He was a sailor-he had been a sailor.
215EB: And where was he originally born?
216AW: Alapaha, Georgia.
217152 EB: Okay. And then he came to Tampa and opened his own business. That's interesting. What are some of the other businesses that you remember growing up?
218AW: On Central Avenue?
219EB: Mm-hm.
220278 AW: The Cotton Club. The Savoy Club. The Parlor. Lewis Pawn Shop. The Peppermint Lounge. Johnnie Gray's. Rodan Shoe Store. Walker Grocery Store. El Chico. The 400 Club. The (inaudible) Restaurant. MacArthur Studio. Mr. Lilly's Barbershop. Slim's Barbershop. (inaudible) Company.
221EB: That's interesting. All of these were owned by black people?
222161 AW: Yeah, most of them. Ninety percent of them. The Greek Stand was not; the Savoy Club was not. And Rodan Shoe Store was not. But Charlie's Market-most of them.
223118 EB: We were hoping to find out what happened to some of the pictures that MacArthur Studio may have had, or something.
224AW: Well, that would be a wealth of information.
225EB: Yeah. Do you know?
22684 AW: I don't know. I'll tell you who might know. Let me give you a couple of numbers.
227EB: Okay.
228AW: Goosby Jones.
229EB: Who's that?
23039 AW: Goosby Jones. G-o-o-s-b-y, 888-771.
231EB: 888-771.
232AW: 71.
233EB: Okay, I got it. Three numbers. 888-
234AW: Seven, seven, seven, one.
235EB: Okay. Goosby Jones, right?
23641 AW: Mm-hm. Have you talked to Mr. Dupree?
237235 EB: (coughs) Mm-hm. We've got Mr. Dupree-Dupree donated a collection to USF Special Collections Department, in the library, and in it was some programs that he had produced and stuff. But he didn't have too many pictures, old pictures.
23814 AW: He didn't?
239EB: Goosby Jones is a woman-?
240AW: A man.
241EB: Okay.
242296 AW: Just ask him general information about Central Avenue. And he might have some old pictures that he could help you. I'm trying to think of-at MacArthur Studio. I know he used be taking pictures every time you turned around; that's what made me think of him. Mrs. Shoeman needs to be contacted.
243EB: And her husband, you said, was George-?
244AW: George Shoeman, yeah.
245EB: Now, Henry Shoeman was his brother, right?
246AW: Huh? Yeah.
247EB: And what did George-
248AW: Shoeman's Restaurant. (inaudible) 254-3609. Nancy Shoeman. You can tell her I gave it to you.
249EB: Okay. Thank you.
250(electronic device beeps)
251AW: Yes?
252Pause in recording
253100 EB: Thank you. And you said you believed your mother might have some pictures of Cozy Corner, right?
254AW: Yeah.
255253 EB: So that'd be great, because what we plan to do is-like I said, it's an outdoor exhibit, and so we would like to mount some pictures of the restaurant-you know, from the outside. And if we could get some pictures of it on the inside, that'd be great.
256AW: Okay.
257231 EB: Let me ask you this. Since Cozy Corner and Palm Dinette kind of combined in the fifties [1950s], do you think it would be appropriate to do an exhibit with both? You know, just do one exhibit with both of the restaurants on it.
258AW: Mm-hm. As long as you show the continuity, because people don't know the continuity. So you really want to put- But it's on that picture, isn't it?
259EB: Mm-hm.
260AW: It would-that would beautifully-it showed the connection, because it went through-
261232 EB: That's what I'm thinking. Maybe we could do something like that; we can work it out. The girl that we have that's working on the displays and the graphics and stuff is wonderful. She's great-she's very innovative and does a lot-
262AW: Good. I'd be willing to help her, you know.
263EB: Oh, good! I hope-hopefully you'll like it. This has been something that I've been working on for a year-
264AW: It's amazing that y'all are talking about doing something.
265EB: We've been looking for-
266AW: I mean, I've mentioned that three or four times, that somebody'd be-
267EB: Yes! Somebody made one. A lot of people-
268169 AW: It was our history, and it's lost because-unless-and see, one thing should happen. You know what y'all ought to do? Y'all ought to run an ad in the Florida Sentinel-
269EB: We will.
270AW: -for about five weeks.
271EB: We will.
272AW: "If you have any pictures and anything pertaining to Central Avenue, please bring it to-or mail it to-such and such address." And then you'd be surprised at- "Your pictures will be returned in good shape and that kind of stuff."
273EB: Yeah, I'll suggest that.
274AW: That would be great.
275124 EB: Yeah, and you know, we could probably even mention the businesses that we're looking for, especially-like in particular-
276AW: Y'all might-it might be something that y'all remember. And so you might want any of them.
27788 EB: That's right. Right. And then I was saying-we would ask for all pictures in general-
278AW: All pictures, yeah.
279EB: -but then I'm saying, if you definitely have some of those, please.
280AW: Yeah. Right, right.
281EB: Cause I think-right now-and what I'll be-
282Pause in recording
283(phone rings)
284EB: Okay-
285Pause in recording
286EB: Who were some of the famous people that visited your restaurant?
287AW: Well, during that time, you know, before integration. So any black entertainment was in the area. Jack de Rosa, he came. Bobby Blue Bland during that time. James Brown. The Flames. Etta James. Charles Brown. Ray Charles cut his first record in my dad's restaurant, in the Palm Dinette.
288EB: You're kidding!
289178 AW: Yeah. It was in the back. I forgot-Goosby can probably give you some information on that. But all the ballplayers that used to come, they couldn't stay-they stayed in Rogers-
290EB: Hotel.
291284 AW: Hotel. And then they eat at our place. All the white ballplayers come down and dropped them off on the bus, and they have to stay with us and eat with us every day. Roy Campanella, Jackie Robinson, Don Newcombe, Carl Long, Jim Gilliam, Minnie Mioso, Larry Doby-we knew them all.
292EB: It's a shame that the fire destroyed those pictures that you-
293AW: We had lots of them, lots of them. It really was.
294EB: Yeah.
29533 AW: Probably a lot of money, too.
296EB: (laughs) Well, we're hoping that a lot of young people who will come to our program will appreciate Central Avenue for what it was.
297AW: I'm excited about it, because I think-
298EB: Oh, yeah.
299AW: I would love to see-I would love to work with you. I think it's something that should be done-should have been done a long time ago.
300269 EB: Yeah, it should have been. Well, we're looking forward to it. We're really excited about it. We want to start building our exhibits as soon as possible, because they take a long time to build. (coughs) But we need to get information so we can do it right, you know.
301AW: Romeo Cole, Junior, in the police department-his dad probably would have some more pictures of Central Avenue. He walked the beat down here for years.
302EB: Oh, what was his name?
303AW: Romeo Cole. I just thought of him.
304EB: Cause that's another thing, we were trying to get some black police officers.
305127 AW: Tampa Police Department. Well, he's not with Tampa Police right now. He's with-let me see if I can get that number for you.
306(Sound of phone being dialed)
307Pause in recording
308AW: And the Blue Room was 1310, I think.
309EB: So you were located-
310AW: Yeah, see here-
311EB: You were located right next door to Watts Sanderson's Blue Room.
312AW: Yeah.
313EB: Interesting.
314AW: 1308, and then 1310 was Watts Sanderson.
315EB: Well, cool. So that picture that we're going to use there, the Palm Dinette will be on there.
316AW: I'm trying to see if-
317EB: Do you know what year that was?
318AW: Mm-nn [no]. I know what it was, though. It was the Tilt of the Maroon and Gold, because he had his BCC-Bethune Cookman [University] played Morris Brown [College].
319EB: Oh, okay. What is that called? Tiltman-
320AW: Tilt-T-i-l-t-Maroon-
321EB: Tilt Maroon-
322AW: -and Gold.
323EB: -and Gold. And this was what type of celebration?
324AW: That was a football game played every year. And this was the parade.
325EB: A football game between Florida A&M-
32682 AW: No, it was Bethune Cookman College and whomever they selected to play against.
327EB: Oh, okay.
328AW: Damn, I'm trying to think- It's amazing, I remember standing out front as a little boy-
329EB: (laughs)
330AW: -trying to see all the parade.
331EB: Right, they came right past your door. That's interesting. Well, you've been very helpful. I appreciate your time. And, you know, we'll definitely be in touch. So mark it on your calendar, I think it's October twenty-second, what we're shooting for.
332243 AW: See, this is the Cotton Club right here. And next door was (inaudible) Cab-Rogers Dining Room was right next to it. The Cotton Club, Rogers Dining Room, then the cab company, then Cozy Corner, Palm Dinette, and Watts Sanderson. (inaudible)
333EB: (laughs)
334AW: I could have a ball going through that darkroom.
335EB: (laughs) Well, that's just a sample of the pictures that we have. We have so many. And we have a darkroom full right now that we're developing. (to someone else) Hi.
336AW: Hey, Rick. Yeah, that's amazing that you've got those pictures there.
337EB: I'm so glad you're glad to identify that one, forty-four, because there were some people wasn't sure that that was Mr. White or not.
33859 AW: Mm-hm. Yep. God, this (inaudible)-I saw him in the day.
339EB: You did?
340AW: Mm-hm.
341EB: And you weren't-you're not sure who owned Forty Minute Cleaners, right?
342AW: No. (to someone else) Hey, how you doing? (to EB) I can't remember.
343Pause in recording
344112 EB: This has been Ericka Burroughs interviewing Mr. Alton White about Central Avenue. The date is June 30, 1994.
345end of interview
unicode usage 2-byte sequence starting at 3075 [195 169 (c3 a9 ) {"\u00e9"} ]. [ those guys, the Brooklyn Caf-we all exchanged. It was like a family; it was one big family.


COPYRIGHT NOTICE This Oral History is copyrighted by the University of South Florida Libraries Oral History Program on behalf of the Board of Trustees of the University of South Florida. Copyright, 2009, University of South Florida. All rights, reserved This oral history may be used for research, instruction, and private study under the provisions of the Fair Use. Fair Use is a provision of the United States Copyright Law (United States Code, Title 17, section 107), which allows limited use of copyrig hted materials under certain conditions. Fair Use limits the amount of material that may be used. For all other permissions and requests, contact the UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH FLORIDA LIBRARIES ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at the University of South Florida, 4202 E. Fo wler Avenue, LIB 122, Tampa, FL 33620.


Download Options

Choose Size
Choose file type
Cite this item close


Cras ut cursus ante, a fringilla nunc. Mauris lorem nunc, cursus sit amet enim ac, vehicula vestibulum mi. Mauris viverra nisl vel enim faucibus porta. Praesent sit amet ornare diam, non finibus nulla.


Cras efficitur magna et sapien varius, luctus ullamcorper dolor convallis. Orci varius natoque penatibus et magnis dis parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus. Fusce sit amet justo ut erat laoreet congue sed a ante.


Phasellus ornare in augue eu imperdiet. Donec malesuada sapien ante, at vehicula orci tempor molestie. Proin vitae urna elit. Pellentesque vitae nisi et diam euismod malesuada aliquet non erat.


Nunc fringilla dolor ut dictum placerat. Proin ac neque rutrum, consectetur ligula id, laoreet ligula. Nulla lorem massa, consectetur vitae consequat in, lobortis at dolor. Nunc sed leo odio.