John Brown

Citation
John Brown

Material Information

Title:
John Brown
Series Title:
Otis R. Anthony African Americans in Florida oral history project
Creator:
Brown, John Wesley, 1900-
Anthony, Otis R
Black History Research Project of Tampa
University of South Florida Libraries -- Florida Studies Center. -- Oral History Program
University of South Florida -- Tampa Library
Place of Publication:
Tampa, Fla
Publisher:
University of South Florida Tampa Library
Publication Date:
Language:
English
Physical Description:
1 sound file (43 min.) : digital, MPEG4 file + ;

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
African Americans -- Florida ( lcsh )
African Americans -- History -- Florida ( lcsh )
African Americans -- Employment -- Florida ( lcsh )
Genre:
Oral history. ( local )
Online audio. ( local )
interview ( marcgt )
Oral history ( local )
Online audio ( local )

Notes

Summary:
John Brown discusses the longshoremen's union and some of his other jobs.
Venue:
Interview conducted in 1978, month and day unknown.
General Note:
Other interviewers for the Black History Research Project of Tampa were Fred Beaton, Joyce Dyer, Herbert Jones, and Shirley Smith.
Statement of Responsibility:
interviewed by Otis R. Anthony and members of the Black History Research Project of Tampa.

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:
020798348 ( ALEPH )
436223061 ( OCLC )
A31-00009 ( USFLDC DOI )
a31.9 ( USFLDC Handle )

Postcard Information

Format:
Audio

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This item has the following downloads:


Full Text
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segment idx 0time text length 53 John Wesley Brown: My full name is John Wesley Brown.
169 Herbert Jones: Mr. John Wesley Brown. And could you tell us your age?
218 JB: Seventy-eight.
3116 HJ: Seventy-eight, as of today. A little bit about your place of birth. Where was you born? I know you just told me.
458 JB: Well, Magtelly [possibly Micanopy or Martel], Florida.
528 HJ: And about where is that?
6115 JB: That's between Ocala-twenty-one miles on the other side of Ocala and twenty-one miles this side of Gainesville.
738 HJ: And did you go to school up there?
8172 JB: Well, I went to little school. Little school. I didn't go to school much up there. And after (inaudible) ran away from my dad in 1914 so I didn't go to school any more.
945 HJ: So where-What year did you come to Tampa?
1023 JB: Twenty-four [1924].
119 HJ: 1924?
12JB: 1924.
1351 HJ: 1924. Did you come straight from home to Tampa?
1429 JB: No. No. Come from Ft. My-
1541 HJ: Tell us how-What led you to get here?
16JB: Come from Ft. Myers here.
1711 HJ: Uh huh.
1812 JB: In 1924.
1940 HJ: Had you been livin' down there long?
20JB: Well, somethin' about a year and a little better.
2165 HJ: So what made you decide to leave Ft. Myers and come to Tampa?
22344 JB: Well, I'll tell you, it could be a long story, but I'll make it short. At night some boys there, two black boys, the Langston, he had been goin' in them canals with them girl you know? And, well, them "crackers" would see 'em and one another-but this particular time some of them old "downhearted 'crackers'" seen 'em. You know what I mean?
2322 HJ: Right. (inaudible)
24751 JB: Yeah. And the Langston boys. So-people was sellin' their homes. And busload after busload-I wasn't gonna leave, you know, for I workin' at Franklin-Franklin owned a hotel-you know, washin' dishes. I was gettin' along all right. And sellin' their home, leavin' and about two busloads a week leavin' there, goin' different places on them (inaudible). Okeechobee, Belle Glade, Everglades, all that down that Miami coast, by the busloads. And so, they're leavin' so fast but I said, yeah, I expect I'd better. (laughs) I had, about two weeks ago, had got a letter from my sister, was livin' here in Tampa, and I got letter-had done got a letter from her. And I said-I got to studyin' and I said, sure I'd better pull up stakes now. (laughs) So I left.
2537 HJ: So at that time how old were you?
2676 JB: Well, I wouldn't know then, at that time. I wouldn't know how old I was.
2747 HJ: But you was born in-What year was you born?
28208 JB: Well, I see I just got-see, we had our age down in the Bible way back there, and a- it got burnt up, you know. And so in forty-three [1943] and I was here, I was workin' on the dock and you had to have a-
29HJ: Birth certificate.
30264 JB: -birth certificate if you worked dynamite. And so I went there on the corner of Estelle and Cass, [there] was a Notary Republican there. And I saw him and I gave my-he writ me up-somethin' (inaudible) me for my birth certificate. Come back, I was born in 1900.
3174 HJ: Okay. So you say about twenty-five years old. A young (inaudible) man.
32JB: When?
33HJ: When you came here-
3436 JB: Yeah. Yeah. Something like that.
35HJ: To Tampa. When you left Ft. Myers.
3649 JB: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. It was somethin' like that.
3761 HJ: So were you on your own when-your own when you came here?
3864 JB: Yeah, I've been on my own ever since 1914, when I left home.
3957 HJ: What type of job did you get as soon as you got here?
40401 JB: Well-when always before, when I left home a-I was a-jobs that I a-of course, when I left home I was farmin', you know. And then when I left home I went to Clearwater and I worked a little around in caddy-you know, grounds, caddy-tote your [golf] bag. Then I worked on a little farm there, out from Ft. Myers. Then, after that I mostly worked in them cafes washin' dishes, hotels, around, you know.
4130 HJ: And that was at Ft. Myers?
42JB: No, that would have been Clearwater, when I first left home.
4366 HJ: Okay, so when you-Oh-that was before you made it to Ft. Myers.
44JB: Yeah. Yeah. Way before I went to-
45HJ: See now-
46158 JB That's along when I first left. See, when I first left home I was wearin' knees-short-knee pants? And them old (inaudible) and a pair of slippers. (laughs)
47HJ: You just ran away.
48381 JB: Yeah, man, I was a small kid. But, boy, I mean, I had a man look and (inaudible) you know. Yeah. Because, when I went to Ft. Myers there wasn't nothin' there but a package store. It was wet, you know. Good old store. You get a half a pint of booze there for thirty-five cents. Thirty to thirty-five. Half a pint. And I'd go in the place and get my own liquor. Buy it, you know.
49119 HJ: (inaudible) How many years before you came back here to Tampa? After you left Clearwater and you went to Ft. Myers-
50JB: No. No. I left Clearwater I-When I first left Clearwater I went out there on Indian Rocks Beach, you know, and worked out there around them hotels. Then I come back into Clearwater. So I left Clearwater for good-I left Clearwater and went round on a road camp.
51HJ: Yeah.
5252 JB: You know, man was buildin'-puttin' down-curbin'-
5310 HJ: Right.
54188 JB: -on the main drag. So another guy was comin' on back laying bricks out of Oldsmar, you know, into Clearwater. I worked with this man a good while, 'bout five or six months goin' there.
5590 HJ: Okay. So when you first-when you left Ft. Myers and came to Tampa you was on your own-
56JB: Yeah.
5731 HJ: -where'd you go from there?
58JB: When I left Ft. Myers and come down to Tampa?
59HJ: Right.
60225 JB: Now, of course, I had been on my own when I left Ft. Myers and I was on my own when I got here to Tampa in-well, let's see, round here-got a job-the first job I got was workin' with my brother-in-law, workin' a-Tampa Gas.
6146 HJ: So your brother-in-law was already livin'-
6287 JB: Yeah. Yeah. He and my sister was stayin' on 802 Carson, in front of the (inaudible)
6348 HJ: How-was there any barbershops, black stores-
6421 JB: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
6525 HJ: Somethin' near there?
66JB: Yeah, barber shops up and down Central-black barber shop.
6732 HJ: Can you remember any of 'em?
68171 JB: Well, there's a one fella-he stayed here in Tampa. His name [was] Henry-I forgot his name, but he cut my hair when I was along-when I first came here (inaudible) 1924.
6927 HJ: So he had his own shop.
70114 JB: Well, I don't (inaudible) but was barberin' in there. I don't know whether that was his shop or not, you know.
7154 HJ: So your first job was what now, once you got here?
72JB: Oh, workin' a-Tampa Gas Company. Layin'-puttin' down piping, you know.
7333 HJ: Did they treat you all right?
74JB: Yeah.
75HJ: How'd the white people treat you?
76307 JB: Yeah. My brother-in-law had been workin' out there and got me a job out there. Really, we got along all right. White foreman, you know. They had a lot of blacks out there. You know, had to dig the ditches. See, I think they was puttin' those pipes down about that deep in the ground. Gas pipe, you know.
77HJ: Do you remember World War I?
78JB: Well, I know when they goin' to-that's when I was-
79HJ: You wasn't of age then.
80143 JB: Huh? Well, that's when I was in Clearwater. During World War I down in Clearwater I hadn't give it a thought. Wasn't thinkin' about no war.
81HJ: They didn't come get you?
8226 JB: No. No, wait a minute.
83HJ: Hmmm.
84623 JB: And so, 1918-I workin' out from-no, wait a minute. I'm ahead of my story. I was around Bartow. I, you know, followed them construction jobs. You know, they would build bridges with this same man. When I got out from Clearwater. And so I got a letter from my sister, she wanted me to come home because she was gonna get married, you know. That was in 1918. I wasn't figurin' on goin' home yet, you know. So-I went on home. And the guy was on the east coast-he never did marry because he stood her up. You know what I mean. He was on the east coast and said, "[I'm] Comin' home," said to sister, now he never did show up.
8514 HJ: Never did.
86830 JB: Yeah. So I went home around there. Run from home to Gainesville and back and forth. So I had two brothers to go to the number one war. And since the lengths of time they was registerin' from eighteen to forty-five. And my daddy had got a job down here on the Manatee River, a place called Palmetto. Out from Palmetto, a place called Ellenton. He got a job down there, was workin' for a fellow that owned a farm, a white fellow. And so I raced home and at eighteen and come on down to Ellenton. And so I was waitin' on my draft card, you know, questionnaire. So after a while my questionnaire come. This fellow I was workin' for, Brown, he had a big hardware store there, groceries and everything. That's where I was workin' for him. So he filled it out and sent it back. So I was waitin' on my draft card. Peace declared 1919.
87HJ: Peace?
88JB: Yeah.
89HJ: The war was over? Huh?
90JB: Yeah. Yeah. 1919.
91HJ: Well, did you ever come over to Tampa when you was livin' in Clearwater?
92JB: No. No.
93HJ: You never did?
94620 JB: No. Oh, wait. I might have come to Tampa. When we come to a place they call Cross Bayou and we had a long bridge to build. And when we got to [St.] Petersburg we built him a little cover there. And this here was the next stop. And we done been there and then build a right-of-way, you know, for 'em to detour, you know. And there's a fellow in Bartow they called Lightnin'. He was a white fellow and he was over there. He was ashphaltin' them roads through there. So, he had quit. And sent for my man to come over and take that job. Wasn't for that. I was right here in Tampa, you know, right here. And see-Oldsmar.
95HJ: Oldsmar.
9680 JB: Yeah, Oldsmar, Florida. Just little Oldsmar. That's right at Tampa. (laughs)
97HJ: Yeah.
9875 JB: Yeah. At that time, you know. And so we had to go over there to Bartow.
99134 HJ: Yeah. So what other kinds of jobs was there in twenty-five [1925]-1925, when you came? I know you said you was handling the pipes.
100222 JB: Well, when I left there they-puttin' down that pipe job, as far as I can remember. I think I got another job down there on Tampa Street. Stovall Building. They was puttin' another two story up on that Stovall Building.
101HJ: Right.
10285 JB: And on Nebraska [Avenue]. See how that floor is, go beyond this outside the road?
103HJ: Uh huh.
104138 JB: That's what-in other words, that's the kind of floor they was puttin' up there. And so where-t was rough, you know how rough concrete-
105HJ: Right.
10639 JB: -and so they had them big machines.
1078 HJ: Umm-
108JB: Yeah. Yeah.
109HJ: A (inaudible).
110457 JB: Yeah. Yeah. So that was my job. Carryin' down that mud and bringin' up stuff to this fellow runnin' that machine, you know. And gettin' up that mud. Some elevator. Way up there. I think about seven or eight stories high. Them last two stories better than eight stories. And I do that job till, you know, until it finished. And then the Florida Hotel. And then the Temple Terrace Hotel. The next job I got, the Temple Terrace Hotel. I worked there about-
111HJ: About what year was that?
112JB: Huh?
113HJ: About what year was that you worked at Temple Terrace Hotel?
114JB: The same year.
115HJ: The same year, twenty-five [1925].
116482 JB: Yeah. No, in twenty-five [1925]. So I worked there at that job. Only got about two days and I taken sick. I had to knock off. And I went home and stayed about two weeks and a half before I got well. And a-now I got well enough to go back to work. And [if] I ain't mistaken then, I think I went to work with my brother-in-law. He had a 'little truck of his own and plumbin', you know, runnin' around fixin' pipin' and you want, stoppin' the leaks. I worked with him a good while.
11743 HJ: So he had his own little service goin'?
118JB: Yeah. Yeah.
119HJ: What was his name?
120106 JB: Well, he was for a company, you know, for another man, but he was-yeah, you know, for a company. Yeah.
121151 HJ: Okay-Any of your friends-Did you have any friends? What type of work was they doin'? You know, the other type of jobs, you know, not just the jobs-
122JB: Well-
123HJ: What other kinds of jobs was black men doin'?
124JB: They-
125HJ: Where else was they workin'?
126JB: Well-
12724 HJ: What kind of places?
128273 JB: Well, you see, durin' that time there was a lot of this construction work going on, buildin' houses, poundin' mortar, makin' mortar. You know. And them old blocks. A lot of block work goin' on along in there. And that was-some of my friends was doin' that kind of work.
12963 HJ: What about the shipyards? [Was] anybody workin' down there?
130152 JB: Well, that-all that was over when I come down. See that shipyard was around twenty-two [1922] and twenty-three [1923]. I didn't get here until 1924.
131HJ: Yeah, but were no blacks workin' down there?
13255 JB: Well, you see, I wasn't here then, I wouldn't know.
133HJ: I'm sayin' when you got here.
134JB: It wasn't runnin'.
1357 HJ: Oh.
13696 JB: It was over with. Wasn't no ship buildin', nothin' goin' when I come out. That was all over.
137HJ: There wasn't no dock work?
13835 JB: Yeah, a little dock work. Yeah.
13942 HJ: Any blacks was out there on the docks?
140JB: Well, I'll tell you about the docks. I never did know about the docks until way later years-
141HJ: Afterwards-
142518 JB: After I taken sick them two weeks, nearly three, I got up and walked around. I didn't know where I was goin'. And I walked up down there around that place, corner of Franklin Street, called the mail line. And a guy-I walked in-beckoned for me to come there. It was on a platform. He had a twelve by twelve, he was standin' about this high, about twenty foot long, wanted me to help push it. (laughs) On that dock. I said, "Man, man-I-you can cussin' jumpin' up-" I walked away, like, laughin'. (laughs) Yeah, sure.
143HJ: So you've been here since 1925. Okay.
144JB: Twenty-four [1924].
145104 HJ: Twenty-four [1924]. Well, what'd you do from twenty-seven [1927]? About 1927, where was you workin'?
146JB: Well, the-you know-
147HJ: Highway-
148JB: -type jobs.
149HJ: Yeah.
150JB: Yeah.
151HJ: So you stayed with them?
152JB: Yeah. Till the jobs come, you know. You'd stay on a job until it come, and then you'd probably get another job.
153131 HJ: Yeah. Anything else you can tell me about-where was-you know, where would you gather? Where was you all gathering at? You know.
15413 JB: You mean-
155110 HJ: Where was all-you know, after work and everything, where was everybody gather-what was the gathering spot?
156330 JB: Yeah, I understand. There was a place up on Houghton and Central [Avenue]. Them were the street, you know. Up and down Central. Cass Street-boom, you know, everybody's happy. Different types of places, you know. You'd go in and get a beer or drink of pop or somethin', you know. And (inaudible) the same way. Goin' and comin'.
15777 HJ: All right. Can you tell me about the streetcars? You rode the streetcars?
158160 JB: Well-yeah. During that time I didn't learn too much about streetcars. But they was runnin' around here a long time before they took 'em off, the streetcars.
159HJ: What about schools? Was there any schools here?
160JB: Oh, yeah, there were schools here, but I didn't know too much about any
161schools.
162HJ: Okay. Do you remember anything about land (inaudible)?
163JB: No.
16489 HJ: Okay, what about housing? Where did most of the blacks live? Did they live in houses-
165JB: Yeah. Yeah.
166HJ: Or was they rentin' or-
167JB: Yeah. Well, they lived off-
168HJ: They were mostly rentin'.
16962 JB: Yeah. We lived in houses. You'd rent 'em, you know. But a-
17044 HJ: Some blacks, did they own? Did-was that-
17120 JB: Some of 'em did.
172HJ: Some did?
173JB: Some of did. Some of 'em rented.
174126 HJ: Along about twenty-five [1925] to thirty-five [1935], was there any really popular and powerful black men or women around?
175JB: Well, I imagine there was, but you know, I never-
176HJ: You hadn't really gotten to know too many-
177JB: No. No. No.
17873 HJ: Could you just tell me about-from whenever you want to start talkin'-
179JB: Well-
18088 HJ: You can go as far back as you can remember, just about Tampa, just tell me whatever.
181170 JB: Yeah, well, there wasn't too much about Tampa that I know because I never did get about much over Tampa, you know, when I was (inaudible). Just bein' around I wasn't-
182HJ: Was the police bad?
183JB: Oh, yeah.
18484 HJ: Run you down in the street? Did you have to be off the street at a certain time?
185JB: Well, no. But what I mean they-they were strict, you know.
186HJ: What would they do?
18760 JB: Well, they used them old sticks, you know. Rough you up.
188HJ: What would you have to do for them to rough you up?
18995 JB Well, you know, be cussin' and goin' on. (inaudible) And arguments on the streets, you know.
190111 HJ: But if you was just walkin' with your wife, maybe walkin' to church or somewhere, they wouldn't bother you?
191JB No. No. No. Wasn't nothin' like that.
192HJ: And what was it-there wasn't no lynching goin' on, was there?
193JB: No. No.
194HJ: Because I remember it was goin' on in Ft. Myers, you said.
195JB: Yeah.
196HJ: None of that was goin' on here though?
197JB: No. No.
19868 HJ: So, basically, most of the black people was all right. You know.
199JB: Yeah. Yeah.
200HJ: I mean-it was pretty safe.
201JB: Yeah. Yeah.
202HJ: Nobody come runnin' in the house-
203JB: No. No. No.
204HJ: -pullin' you out of your house or nothin?
205169 JB: No. No. No. And then down there to Ft. Myers it wasn't like that. They didn't come 'round-I mean, grabbin' up any kid or something like that, you know, carryin' him-
206HJ: Only if you did something wrong.
207519 JB: Well, I mean, they didn't bother nobody but if them two boys-you know, what I mean, in this couple, just them two boys. Well, now one of the boys they got that night, they got him out the jail house, that first one. He was in the jail. Now, see they had changed sheriffs. See, when I first went down there, the sheriff down there they called Sheriff Tipton. See, when I first went down there in 1921. So when I went back during that summer on the river we went back down there in 1922. Yeah, so-There wasn't them...
208560 During the time them boys-why, they changed sheriffs and the sheriff there they called Albritton. (inaudible) And that's when they had the boy in jail. They went there and took the boy out the jail-from under the jail. Yeah. Took the boy out the jail, from under the jail. That's right. That's what I was told. And then brought him up there in the colored part and you could see four forks-you know, of the street. And you could see some burnt wood and stuff where they put him up there and on the four forks, in the middle of that road, and tried to burn him.
209HJ: Yeah.
210315 JB: So he couldn't get down. The fellow there before, Rich Barker, had an old stove porch; they hung him up on the head. So I don't know how they had him hangin' up. But later on they cut him down, they lay him down there by the thing. And some of them, got a sheet from some of the colored people and put over him.
211127 HJ: Okay. Well, let me ask you another question. Now, about how much money was you makin' ? How much was they payin' you about-
212JB: Well, I was gettin'-my salary would always be...
21356 HJ: -in the twenties [1920's] and the thirties [1930's]?
214JB: Yeah. Down around Ft. Myers?
21550 HJ: No. Here. Once you got here, not in Ft. Myers-
216JB: Oh yeah?
21734 HJ: ...just once you got to Tampa.
218277 JB: When I first come down to Tampa I was makin'-I was gettin' around about-oh, on the average $2 dollars and somethin' an hour. About $2.20 or somethin' an hour, or somethin' an hour and like that. You know, around that-workin' for the Tampa Gas Company, diggin' them ditches.
219HJ: Say what was that pay again?
22082 JB: Oh, about $2.20 somethin' an hour. From $2.20 to $2.30 or somethin' like that.
221HJ: And that was in the twenties [1920's]?
222JB: Yeah.
223HJ: Okay, can you tell me about-were you [here] in the forties [1940's]? Were you here in Tampa in the forties [1940's], the 1940s?
224JB: Yeah.
225HJ: Do you remember the Tampa riot? The riot they had?
226JB: In 19-
227HJ: About 1947 or forty-five [1945]? Or was there a riot? Can you recollect?
22872 JB: No, I don't remember no riot that I know that you're thinking about.
229HJ: You know, a lot the-all the black people start fighting white people and everything.
230JB: Not as I remember.
231HJ: Not during the forties [1940's]?
232JB: No, see, during-let's see-
23381 HJ: About World War II time, about during the war or after the war, World War II.
234144 JB: I know. I know what you mean. (inaudible) thing to say. There might have been a little scuffle which he-MacDill Field. You heard talk of it?
235HJ: Yeah.
236JB: Well, then during that time, you know, them soldiers was in and out of town, out there. Well, I think they had a little scuffle among the police and them soldiers and civilians durin' that time, but I don't think [it] amounted to too much. You know, it wasn't too much.
23717 HJ: Just low key?
238JB: Yeah.
239190 HJ: Okay. Well, can you tell me anything about the churches? Say, after World War I, say from the thirties [1930's] and forties [1940's], what about-did we have a lot of churches of our own?
240JB: Well, I was "out there" durin' the time. You know what I mean about "out there"?
241HJ: Yeah.
242JB: So I couldn't tell you too much about the-
243HJ: You weren't goin' to too many, right?
244174 JB: (laughs) I couldn't tell you too much about them churches. Now, you take from a-let's see now what year now-from 1952 on up till now I could tell you about them churches.
245191 HJ: Okay, well not yet, unless you know, because-Okay-When you came in the twenties [1920s] and thirties [1930s], was there certain places that you couldn't go? You know, that we couldn't go?
246JB: Yeah, I understand. Yeah. Well, but now let's see-
247HJ: Well, what type of places was there? Was there any places in general?
248120 JB: And down-and oh-Let's see-Well, I'll tell you I didn't do too much travelin' around an my own in the white sections.
249HJ: But it was understood to stay in our section-
250JB: Yeah. Yeah.
251HJ: -if you didn't want to get murdered?
252JB: No. No.
253HJ: Or was it free for us to walk around-
254JB: Yeah. Yeah.
255HJ: -in the white section?
256JB Yeah. Yeah.
257HJ: You know, or it was drive through.
258360 JB: Well, I mean, you could-free to go anywhere you want to go. You know. Of course, now, there were plenty of places open that the black had for their own, you know what I mean? Now, say for instance, down on Franklin or them other streets, I never did know blacks hung around there, goin' in them-Nnever did nobody-goin' in those places down there, you know.
259175 HJ: So that's where-that's another thing I really want to know. What places was there around that you went to? What was the names of these places and what streets was they on?
26083 JB: Well, I try to tell you the names of the places, even the streets. But, anyway-
261HJ: Well, you don't have to go way back, just maybe from the forties [1940s].
262JB: Yeah.
263HJ: Maybe from 1940s.
264JB: Well, there was-[1940s]-1940s-
26516 HJ: Yeah, 1940s.
266JB: Yeah.
267HJ: Let's forget about twenty-five [1925]-thirty [1930]. Let's-World War II time.
268JB: Yeah.
269HJ: That's where we're at.
270JB: Yeah.
271HJ: World War II.
272133 JB: Well, I can remember-I'd always go out different places, you know, and go in-I would drink at the different bars that was around.
273HJ: Any one particular bar?
274JB: No. Any-
275HJ: You know, in the 1940s? You know-
276JB: Well, now, let's see-
277HJ: Somebody you knew owned it?
278JB: Little Savoy was runnin' a bar.
279HJ: (inaudible) was that?
280JB: Down on Scott [Street] and Central.
281HJ: Scott and Central.
282JB: Off of Central on-right on the corner of Scott and Central.
283HJ: What was the name of that bar?
284JB: Little Savoy.
285HJ: Little Savoy.
286JB: Yeah.
287HJ: What was it like?
288JB: It's a nice bar.
28919 HJ: Was it crowded?
290JB: Nice-yeah, it be crowded. And then they had in there some rooms, you know, and they had waiters and, like, you and a friend or two couples or four couples would go in there and they places cut off with rooms. Then the waiters, they can go in there and take your order and come-go back and get it and carry it back in there to-
291HJ: Any bolita goin' on in these places?
292129 JB: Yeah, it but nothin'-no. Not that kind of place. That was just a place where you could go and have your fun and drink liquor.
293HJ: That was basically the only thing-
294JB: Yeah.
295HJ: -that you was doin' there.
296JB: Yeah. And then another boy had another place goin' across Nebraska on Scott Street the same way. Yeah.
297HJ: Okay. Well, do you know a Clara Frye?
298JB: Yeah.
299HJ: Who was that?
300JB: Hospital (inaudible).
301HJ: That was a hospital. Was it in-
302JB: Clara Frye Hospital.
303HJ: Uh huh. Was it open-
304JB: Yeah, during my time.
305HJ: During your time.
306JB: Yeah.
307HJ: Was it open when you first came here?
308JB: No.
309HJ: Did you go there?
310JB: Yeah.
311HJ: Did you utilize it?
312JB: Yeah.
313HJ: How was it?
314JB: Let me see-
315HJ: About how many nurses there, and-
316163 JB: Wait a minute. Wait a minute. I didn't know too much about it. They say it was nice-pretty good hospital. I'm trying to think of the year. But, anyway, I had a
31759 chance to go there in that hospital for a hernia operation.
318HJ: When was that?
319JB: Huh?
320HJ: When was that? About when did you go in the hospital?
321JB: To Clara Frye Hospital.
322HJ: About year?
32367 JB: That's what I'm tryin' to think now. Let's see-forty [1940] or-
324Side 1 ends; side2 begins.
325JB: -and then they had some men there they called the orderly boys.
326HJ: So, who did that operation on you?
327JB: Well, a doctor called Dr. Smoke.
328HJ: Was he black?
329JB: Huh? White.
330HJ: Uh huh.
331JB: And on Tampa Street, over that same buildin'-I think the Citizens Building on the seventh floor. Dr. Smoke.
332HJ: Okay, anything else about the forties [1940s]?
333JB: No. That-
334HJ: Before the war? After the war? A lot of blacks came back?
335JB: Oh, yeah.
336HJ: How was it then?
337117 JB: Well, my brother never came back from the war. He never did go overseas. He got stationed at Tampa and he stayed.
338HJ: Was there a lot of jobs after the war?
339202 JB: Well, there [were] smarter jobs after the war, I imagine. After-I stayed down there, after the war, down to Ellenton, there, and worked down there a good while. My first goin' to Ft. Myers was 1921.
340HJ: Now, World War II, now, in the forties [1940s]-forty-five [1945].
341JB: Yeah.
342HJ: What about World War II?
343JB: Wait a minute. Wait a minute. Wait a minute.
344HJ: We left World War I.
345JB: Yeah.
346HJ: What about after World War II-
347JB: Yeah. Yeah.
348HJ: -and everybody comin' back from the war?
349JB: Oh, yeah.
350HJ: Well, were there a lot of jobs after World War II?
351JB: Yeah.
352HJ: Where was we workin' then?
353JB: Out on the waterfront.
354HJ: Out on the waterfront.
355113 JB: Right. I worked the waterfront from 1932 to 19-I mean, nearly thirty years, I'd say. I worked the waterfront.
356HJ: What were you doin' out there?
357JB: Well, different jobs. You know.
358HJ: Like what?
359JB: Workin' in the-on the ships most of my time. And then a lot of times I'd land out there, you know, on the docks.
360HJ: Was there a lot of us workin' out there?
361JB: Oh, there was-
362HJ: A lot of blacks workin'?
363154 JB: All that was workin' there was blacks. Black workmen, black headers, black pullers, all the housemen was black. Everything was black. Got along dandy.
364HJ: Didn't have no problems with the white workers?
365141 JB: No. No. Go on over here we established a union. We had a little problem then gettin' that Union established back in the thirties [1930s]-
366HJ: What about that?
367JB: Thirty-one [1931] and thirty-two [1932].
368HJ: What'd y'all do then?
369JB: Uh?
370HJ: What'd you all do to get the union started?
371JB: They struck. Struck. Wouldn't go to work.
372HJ: Who was gettin'-
373JB: President.
374HJ: -everything together?
375JB: President.
376HJ: Who was that?
377100 JB: Perry Harvey [Senior]. He's dead now, but his boy's [Perry Harvey, Jr.] got it runnin' right on.
378HJ: But he was the head man.
379JB: Yeah, Perry Harvey, he [was] head of the union. Yeah.
380HJ: Uh huh.
381JB: And a-
382124 HJ: Up till-before you didn't have a union. Then, during that time, you all's tryin' to get it started. Was he the head man-
383JB: Yeah.
384HJ: -gettin' it started?
385JB: Yeah. No. No. I'm ahead of myself. They had another fellow.
386HJ: What was his name?
387JB: Johnny LaBelle. He's supposed to have been the-he was the president and he was
388supposed to, you know, get this union up.
389HJ: What happened to him?
390JB: He chickened out.
391HJ: Did he?
392JB: Yeah. Partly sellin' out to the "crackers."
393HJ: Huh?
394JB: Partly sellin' out-to the "crackers." You know what I mean?
395HJ: Uh huh.
396JB: And then Perry Harvey got to be the president and then he-
397HJ: So did he get run out of town or what?
398JB: Well, yeah, he got goin'.
399HJ: Did he leave on his own?
400JB: Must have. (laughs)
401HJ: Or did you all run him out?
402JB: No. No. I don't think that happened, 'bout we run him out. He just chickened out and left on his own, I think. Of course, I didn't know too much about it.
403HJ: But he was one of the leaders until then.
404JB: Yeah. Yeah. He was the first one tryin' to get it started, you know.
405HJ: He was the first?
406JB: Yeah. And so after this other fellow got to be president, why-
407HJ: What was his name again, Johnny-
408572 JB: LaBelle, Johnny LaBelle. And this second one was named Perry Harvey. And who we had the little strike and everything. They tried to go in down there like they had the scuffle up. In other words, they tryin' to bring un-union men down there in trucks, you know, the workers. And so they had a lot of blacks down there tryin' to get a union, you know, you got a little scufflin' up down there. Didn't amount to too much. They all got-they went on back. And so, finally, we got it settled and got a raise. I bet you can't guess how much we went back on a raise. (laughs)
409HJ: Yeah, tell me about that.
410JB: Three cents. (laughs)
411HJ: That was all you got. And then what was you makin' before?
412JB: I think around thirty cents.
413HJ: So you were makin' thirty-three with your raise.
414JB: Yeah.
415HJ: That was an hour?
416135 JB: On the hour, yeah. And then after then, you know, every time well strike again. We had a strike. Oh, we didn't strike no more. You-
417pause in recording
418JB: -negotiating-go to a meeting. Go to these meetings, you know, and fight for a raise. You know, what I mean?
419HJ: Yeah.
420251 JB: The not him-the whole-Jacksonville, Miami and Pensacola and all them, you know, Southern states, you know. And you all go to a meetin', man. Yeah. That president come back, he never got us a raise when we wanted somethin' if it ain't but a nickel.
421HJ: So who was that?
422JB: The president.
423HJ: That was Harvey?
424JB: Yeah. For our union.
425HJ: That was Perry Harvey?
426JB: Yeah. Yeah.
427HJ: He'd do all the negotiating.
428212 JB: Yeah. Yeah. And-now, I don't know exactly, but if I ain't mistaken now that eight hour pay-this eight hours of pay time, I think it was around-I'm rough guessin' now-around $75 or $80 dollars for eight hours.
429HJ: Then?
430JB: Huh?
431HJ: When was that? Then?
432JB: Now!
433HJ: Now.
434JB: Yeah. Now! Now! Seventy-five or eighty dollars for eight hours' work.
435HJ: (whistles)
436JB: Yeah, I'm rough guessin' now; it might not be that much. Because I've been left from down there since twenty-seven [1927]-retired.
437HJ: So you worked down at the docks for about thirty years.
438JB: Yeah, a little better. Yeah.
439HJ: From 1930-
440JB: Yeah.
441HJ: -to about sixty [1960]?
442JB: Till um-me-I mean, seventy-two [1972]. I mean, fifty-seven [1957] and fifty [1950]-
443HJ: Fifty-seven [1957] or fifty-eight [1958].
444JB: Yeah.
445HJ: Well, could you tell me anything else about the docks?
446JB: Well, no. About all I can think about the docks.
447193 HJ: All right. Well, one more question. Let me see-okay. During the forties [1940s] and the fifties [1950s] what about-was Clara Frye Hospital still the only place you could go if you was sick?
448JB: No.
449HJ: Where else did you go?
450JB: No. Well, you see I don't know what year that you-
451HJ: Forties [1940s].
452JB: I know. I know. You're-
453HJ: After the war.
454JB: You're talkin' about in the forties [1940s] and then after Clara Frye-
455HJ: In the fifties [1950s].
456502 JB: Yeah. And then-I wouldn't know what year Tampa General opened up. I don't [know] what year that was. But I know-See, now, I had that hernia operation in the forties [1940s], I think it was, down there to Clara Frye. And then I had another one, you know, a second one. I had the second one oh-about-my wife passed in sixty-nine [1969]. I guess, rough guess, about three months after [she died in] sixty-nine [1969] I had the second operation, hernia operation. I went to Tampa General Hospital then.
457118 HJ: So, one more thing, could you tell me about-back to the shipyards when Mr. LaBelle was the first president, right?
458JB: Yeah.
459HJ: Okay-
460107 JB: Wait a minute. Wait a minute. The Longshoreman's [Union], I ain't got nothin' to do with the shipyards.
461156 HJ: Longshoreman's-first president of the Longshoremen. About him leavin', could you tell me any more specifics other than he sold out? What made him leave?
462JB: Well, I don't know exactly how it was, but I just assumed.
463HJ: Just in general.
464109 JB: I can say that-these two things; you can "chicken out" or you can "sell out"-"chicken out" or "sold out".
465HJ: One of the two.
466JB: Yeah.
467HJ: Yeah, I just thought there maybe was something in-you know-
468JB: No. No.
469HJ: -or said that might lead me to go forward.
470JB: Well, you see-I don't know what happened but he left.
471HJ: Okay, anything else you want to tell me about after the forties [1940s], about Tampa, coverin'-?
472JB: No. No. I-not recently. About all I know.
473HJ: Okay. Well, Mr. Brown, then that about ends our-
474JB: Okay.
475HJ: -interview-
476JB: Yeah.
477HJ: -unless you want to add somethin'.
478JB: No. Ain't nothin' I can add. Leave the tape for 'em. (laughs)
479HJ: Okay, well, I thank you. I can cut it off right here.
480end of interview
unicode



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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.

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1 Otis R. Anthony African Americans in Florida Oral History Project Oral History Program Florida Studies Center University of South Florida, Tampa Library Digital Object Identifier: A31 00009 Interviewee: John Wesley Brown (JB) Interview by: Herbert Jones (HJ) Interview date: Unknown [1978] Interview location: Unknown Transcribed by: Unknown Transcription date: Unknown Interview changes by: Kimberly Nordon Changes date: December 11, 2008 Final Edit by: Mary Beth Isaacson Final Edit date: Jan uary 22, 2009 John Wesley Brown : My full name is John Wesley Brown. Herbert Jones : Mr. John Wesley Brown. And could you tell us your age? JB: Seventy eight. HJ: Seventy eight, as of today. A little bit about your place of birth. Where was you born? I k now you just told me. JB: Well, Magtelly [possibly Micanopy or Martel] Florida. HJ: And about where is that? JB: That 's between Ocala twenty one miles on the other side of Ocala and twenty one miles this side of Gainesville. HJ: And did you go to sch ool up there? JB: Well, I went to little school. Little school. I didn't go to school much up there. And after (inaudible) ran away from my dad in 1914 so I didn't go to school any more. HJ: So where What year did you come to Tampa? JB: Twenty four [19 24] HJ: 1924 ? JB: 1924

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2 HJ: 1924 Did you come straight from home to Tampa? JB: No. No. Come from Ft. My HJ: Tell us how What led you to get here? JB : Come from Ft. Myers here. HJ: Uh huh. J B: I n 1924. HJ: Had you been livin' down there long? JB: Well, somethin' about a year and a little better. HJ: So what made you decide to leave Ft. Myers and come to Tampa? JB: Well, I'll tell you, it could be a long story, but I'll make it sho rt. At night some boys there, t wo black boys, the Langston, he had been goin' in them canals with them girl you know? And well them "crackers" would see 'em and one another b ut this particu lar time some of them old "down hearted 'crackers'" seen em. You know what I mean? HJ: Right. (inaudible) JB: Yea h. And the La ngston boys. So p eople was sellin' the i r home s And busload after busload I wasn't gonna leave, y ou know, for I workin' at Franklin F ranklin owned a hotel you know washin' dishes. I was gettin' along all right. And sellin' their home, leavin' and about tw o bus loads a week leavin' there goin' different places o n them (inaudible). Okeechobee, Belle Glade, Everglades, all that down that Miami coast, by the busloads. And so they're leavin' so fast but I said, yeah, I expect I'd better. (laughs) I had, about two weeks ago had got a l etter from my sister, was l ivin' here in Tampa, and I got l etter had do ne got a l etter from her. And I said I got to studyin' and I said, sure I'd better pull up stakes now. (laughs) So I left. HJ: So at that time how old were yo u? JB: Well, I wouldn't know then at that time. I wouldn't know how old I was. HJ: But you was born in What year was you born? JB: Well, I see I just got see, we had our age down in the B ible way back there and a i t got burnt up, you know. And so in forty three [19 43 ] and I was here, I was workin' o n the dock and you had to have a

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3 HJ: Birth certificate. J B: b irth certificate if you worked dynamite. And so I went there o n the corner of Estelle and Cass [there] was a Notary Republican there. And I saw him and I gave my h e writ me up somethin' (inaudible) me for my birth certificate. Come back, I was born in 1900. HJ: Okay. So you say about twenty five years old. A young (inaudible) man. JB: When? HJ: When you came here JB: Yeah. Yeah. Something like that. HJ: T o Tampa. When you left Ft. Myers. JB: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. It was somethin' like that. HJ: So were you on your own when your own when you came here? J B: Yeah, I've been o n my own ever since 1914, when I left home. HJ: What type of job di d you get as soon as you got here? JB: Well when always before, when I left home a I was a jobs that I a o f course, when I left home I was farmin', you know. And then when I left home I went to Clearwater and I worked a little around in caddy you know, gr ounds caddy tote you r [golf] bag. Then I worked o n a little farm there, out from Ft. Myers. Then, after that I mostly worked in them cafes washin' dishes, h otels around, you know. HJ: And that was at Ft. Myers? JB: No, that would have been Clearwater, when I first left home. HJ: Okay, so when you Oh that was before you made it to Ft. Myers. JB: Yeah. Yeah. Way before I went to HJ: See now JB That's along when I first left. See, when I first left home I was wearin' knees shor t knee pants? And them old (inaudible) and a pair of slippers. (laughs) HJ: You just ran away.

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4 JB: Yeah, man, I was a small kid. But, bo y, I mean, I had a man look and (inaudible) you know. Yeah. Because, when I went to Ft. Myers there wasn't nothin' there but a package store I t was wet you know. Good old store. You get a half a pint of booze there for thirty five cents. Thirty to thirty five. Half a pint. And I'd go in the place and get my own liquor. Buy it, you know. HJ : (inaudible) How many years before you came back her e to Tampa? After you left Clearwater and you went to Ft. Myers JB: No. No. I left Clearwater I When I first left Clearwater I went out there on Indian Rocks Beach, you know, and worked out there around them hotels. Then I come back into Clearwater. So I left Clearwater for good I left Clearwater and went round o n a road camp. HJ: Yeah. JB: You know, man was buildin' p uttin' down curbin' HJ: Right. J B: o n the main drag. So another guy was comin' o n back laying bricks out of Oldsmar, you know, into C learwater. I worked with this man a good while, 'bout five or six months goin' there. HJ: Okay. So when you first w hen you left Ft. M yers and came to Tampa you was on your own JB: Yeah. HJ: where'd you go from there? JB: When I left Ft. Myers and com e down to Tampa? HJ: Right. JB : Now, of course, I had been o n my own w hen I left Ft. Myers and I was o n my o wn when I got here to Tampa in well, let's see, round here got a job the first job I got was workin' with my brother in law, workin' a Tampa Gas. HJ: So your brother in law was already livin' JB: Yeah. Yeah He and my sister was stayin' on 802 Carson, in front of the (inaudible) HJ: How was there any barbershops, black stores JB: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

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5 HJ: S omethin' near there? JB: Yeah, barber shops up and down Central black barber shop. HJ: Can you remember any of 'em? JB: Well, there's a one fell a he stayed here in Tampa. His name [was] Henry I forgot his name but h e cut my hair when I was along when I first came here (inaudible) 1924. HJ: So he had his own shop. JB: Well, I don't (inaudible) but was barberin' in there. I don't know whether that was his shop or not, you know. HJ: So your first job was what now once you got here? J B: Oh, workin' a Tampa Gas Company. Layin' p uttin' down piping, you know. HJ: Did they treat you all right? J B: Yeah. HJ: How'd the white people treat you? JB: Yeah. My brother in law had been workin' out there and got me a job out there. Really we got along all right. White foreman, you know. They had a l ot of blacks out there. You know, had to dig the ditches. See, I think they was puttin' those pipes down about that deep in the ground. Gas pipe, you know. HJ: Do you remember World War I? JB: Well, I know when they goin' to that's when I was HJ: You w asn't of age then. JB: Huh? Well, that's when I was in Clearwater. During World War I down in Clearwater I hadn't give it a thought. Wasn't thinkin' about no war. HJ: They didn't come get you? JB: No. No, wait a minute. HJ: Hmmm JB: And so 1918 I wo rkin' out from n o, wait a minute I'm ahead of my story. I was

PAGE 7

6 around Bartow. I, you know, followed them construction job s You know, they would build bridges with this same man. When I got out from Clearwater. And so I got a letter from my sister, she wan ted me to come home because she was gonna get married, you know. That was in 1918. I wasn't figurin' o n goin' home yet, y ou know. So I went on home. And the guy was o n the east coast he never did marry because he stood her up. You know what I mean. He wa s on the east coast and s aid, [I'm] C omin' home sa id to sister, now he never did s how up. HJ: Never did. JB: Yeah. So I went home around there. Run from home to Gainesville and back and forth. So I had two brothers to go to the number one war. And since the lengths of ti me they was registerin' from eighteen to forty five And my daddy had got a job down here o n the Manatee River, a place called Palmetto. Out from Palmetto, a place called Ellenton. He got a job down there, was workin' for a fellow that ow ned a farm, a white fellow. And so I raced home and at eighteen and come o n down to Ellenton. And so I was waitin' o n my draft card, you know, questionnaire. So after a while my questionnaire come. This fellow I was workin' for, Brown, he had a big hardwar e store there, groceries and everything. That's where I was workin' for him. So he filled it out and s ent it back. So I was waitin' o n my draft card. Peace declared 1919 HJ: Peace? JB: Yeah. HJ: The war was over? Huh? JB: Yeah. Yeah. 1919 HJ: Well, did you ever come over to Tampa when you was livin' in Clearwater? JB: No. No. HJ: You never did? JB: No. Oh, wait. I might have come to Tampa. When we come to a place they call Cross Bayou and we had a long bridge to build. And when we got to [St.] Pe tersburg we built him a little cover there. And this here was the next stop. And we done been there and then build a right of way, you know, for 'em to detour, you know. And there's a fel low in Bartow they called Light nin'. He wa s a white fellow a nd he wa s over there H e was ashphaltin' them roads through there. So he had quit. And s e nt for my man to come over and take that job. Wasn't for that. I was right here in Tampa, you know, right here. And see Oldsmar. HJ: Oldsmar.

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7 JB: Yeah, Oldsmar, Florida. Ju st little Oldsmar. That's right at Tampa. (laughs) HJ: Yeah. JB: Yeah. At that time, you know. And so we had to go over there to Bartow. HJ: Yeah. So what ot her kinds of jobs was there in twenty five [19 25 ] 1925 when you came? I know you s aid you was h andling the pipes. JB: Well, when I left there they puttin' down that pipe job, as far as I can remember I think I got another job down there o n Tampa Street. S tova ll Building They was puttin' another two story up o n that S t o va ll Building. HJ: Right. JB: And o n Nebraska [Avenue] See how that floor is, go beyond this outside the road? HJ: Uh huh. JB: That's what i n other words, that's the kind of floor they was puttin' up there. And so where t was rough, you know how rough concrete HJ: Right. JB: and so they had them big machines. HJ: Umm JB: Yeah. Yeah. HJ: A (inaudible). JB: Yeah. Yeah. So that was my job. Carryin' down that mud and bringin' up stuff to thi s fellow runnin' that machine, y ou know. And gettin' up that mud. Some elevator. Way up there. I think about seven or eight stories high. Them last two stories better than eight stor i es. And I do that job till you know, until it finished. And then the Florida Hotel. And then the Temple Terrace Hotel. The next job I got, the Temple Terrac e Hotel. I worked there abou t HJ: About what year was that? JB: Huh? HJ: About what year was that you worked at Temple Terrace Hotel? JB: The same year.

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8 HJ: The same year, twenty five [19 25 ] JB: Yeah. No, in twenty five [19 25 ] So I worked there at that job. Only got about two days and I taken sick. I had to knock off. And I went home and stayed about two weeks and a half before I got well. And a n ow I got well enough to go back to work. And [if] I ain't mistaken then I think I went to work with my brother in law. H e had a 'little truck of his own and plumbin', you know, runnin' around fixin' pipin' and you want stoppin' the leaks. I worked with him a good while. HJ: So he had his own little service goin'? JB: Yeah. Yeah. HJ: What was his name? JB: Well, he was for a company, you know, for another man, but he was yeah, you know, for a company. Yeah. HJ: Okay Any of your friends Did you have any friends? What type of work was they doin'? You know, the other type of jobs, you know, not just the j obs JB: Wel l HJ: What other kinds of jobs was black men doin'? J B: They HJ: Where else was they workin'? JB: Well HJ: What kind of places? JB: Well, you see, durin' that time there was a lot of this construction work go ing on, buildin' houses, poundin' mortar, m akin' mortar. You know. And them old blo cks. A lot of block work goin' on along in there. And that was some of my friends was doin' that kind of work. HJ: What about the shipyards? [Was] a nybody workin' down there? JB: Well, that a ll th at was over when I come down. See that sh ipyard was around twenty two [1922] and twenty three [1923]. I didn't get here until 1924. HJ: Yeah, but were no blacks workin' down there?

PAGE 10

9 JB: Well, you see, I wasn't here then, I wouldn't know. HJ: I'm sayin' w hen you got here. JB: It wasn't runnin'. HJ: Oh. JB: I t was over with. Wasn't no ship buildin', nothin' goin' when I come out. That w as all over. HJ: There wasn't no dock work? JB: Yeah, a little dock work. Yeah. HJ: Any blacks was out there o n the d ocks? JB: Well I'll tell you about the docks. I never did know about the docks until way later years HJ: Afterwards JB: A fter I taken sick them two weeks, nearly three, I got up and walked around. I didn't know where I was goin'. And I walked up dow n there around that place, corner of Franklin Street, called the mail line. And a guy I walked in beckoned for me to come there I t was o n a platform. He had a twelve by twelve he was st andin' about this high, about twenty foot long, wanted me to help pus h it. (laughs) O n that dock I said, "Man, man I you can cussin' jumpin' up I walked away, like, laughin'. (laughs) Yeah, sure. HJ: So you've been here since 1925. Okay. JB: Twenty four [1924] HJ: Twenty four [1924]. Well, what'd you do from twenty seven [19 27 ]? About 1927 where was you workin'? JB: Well, the you know HJ: Highway JB: t ype jobs. HJ: Yeah. J B : Yeah.

PAGE 11

10 HJ: So you stayed with them? J B: Yeah. Till the jobs come, you know. You'd stay o n a job until it come and then you'd probably get another job. HJ: Yeah. Anything else you can tell me about where was you know, where would you gather? Where was you all gathering at? You know. JB: You mean HJ: Where was all you know, after work and everything, where was everybody gather what was the gathering spot? JB: Yeah, I un derstand. There was a place up o n Houghton and Central [Avenue] Them were the street you know. Up and down Central. Cass Street b oom, you know, everybody s happy. Different types of places, you know. Y ou'd go in an d get a beer or drink of pop or somethin' you know. And (inaudible) the same way. Goin' and comin'. HJ: All right. Can you tel l me about the streetcars? You rode the street cars? J B: Well yeah. During that time I didn't learn too much about street cars. B ut they was runnin' around here a long time before they took 'em off, the street cars. HJ: What about schools? Was there any schools here? JB: Oh, yeah, there were schools here but I didn't know too much about any schools. HJ: Okay. Do you remember an ything about land (inaudible) ? JB: No. HJ: Okay, what about housing? Where did most of the blacks l ive? Did they live in houses JB: Yeah. Yeah. HJ: Or was they rentin' or J B: Yeah. Well, they lived off HJ: They were mostly rentin'. JB: Yeah. We lived in houses. You'd rent 'em, you know. But a

PAGE 12

11 HJ: Some blacks, did they own? Did w as that JB: Some of 'em did. HJ: Some did? JB: Some of did. Some of 'em rented. HJ: Along about twenty five [19 25 ] to thirty five [19 35 ], was there any really po pular and powerful black men or women around? JB: Well, I imagine there was but you know, I never HJ: You hadn't re ally gotten to know too many JB: No. No. No. HJ: Could you just tel l me about f rom whene ver you want to start talkin' JB: Well HJ: Y ou can go as far back as you can remember, just about Tampa, just tel l me whatever. JB: Yeah, well, there wasn't too much about Tampa that I know because I never did get about much over Tampa, you know, when I was (inaudible). Just bein' around I wasn't HJ: Was the police bad? JB: Oh yeah. HJ: Run you down in the street? Did you have to be off the street at a certain time? JB: Well, no. But what I mean they they were strict, you know. HJ: What would they do? JB: Well, they used them old stick s, y ou know. Rough you up. HJ: What would you have to do for them to rough you up? JB Well, you know, be cussin' and g oin' on. (inaudible) And arguments o n the streets, you know. HJ: But if you was just walkin' with your wife, maybe walkin' to church or som ewhere

PAGE 13

12 they wouldn't bother you? JB No. No. No. Wasn't nothin' like that. HJ: And what was it there wasn't no lynching goin' o n was there? JB: No. No. HJ: B ecause I remember it was goin' o n in Ft. Myers you said. JB: Yeah. HJ: None of that was goi n' o n here though? JB: No. No. HJ: So, basically, most of the black people was all right. You know. JB: Yeah. Yeah. HJ: I mean i t was pretty safe. JB: Yeah. Yeah. HJ: Nobo dy come runnin' in the house JB: No. No. No. HJ: pullin' you out of your h ouse or nothin? JB: No. No. No. And then down there to Ft. Myers it wasn't like that. They didn't come 'round I mean grabbin' up any kid or something like that, you know, carryin' him HJ: Only if you did something wrong. JB: Well, I mean, they didn't bother nobody but if them two boys you know, what I mean, in this couple, just them two boys. Well, now one of the boys they got that night, they got him out the jail house, that first one. He was in the jail. Now, see they had changed sheriffs. See, wh en I first went down there, the s heriff down there t hey called Sheriff Tipton. See, when I first went down there in 1921. So when I went back during that summer o n the river we went back down there in 1922. Yeah, so There wasn't them... During the time them boys why, they changed sheriffs and the sheriff there they called Albritton. (inaudible) And that's when they had the boy in jail. They went there and took the boy out the jail f rom under the jail. Yeah. Took the boy out the jail from under the

PAGE 14

13 jail. That 's right. That's what I was told. And then brought him up there in the colored part and you could see four fork s you know, of the street. And you could see some b urnt wood and stuff w here they put him up there and o n the four forks, in the middle of that r oad, and tried to burn him. HJ: Yeah. JB: So he couldn't get down. The fellow there before, Rich Barker, had an old stove porch; they hung him up o n the head. So I don't know how they had him hangin' up. But later o n they cut him down, they lay him down there by the thing. And some of them, got a sheet from some of the colored people and put over him. HJ: Okay. Well, let me ask you another question. Now, about how much money was you makin' ? How m uch was they payin' you about JB: Well, I was gettin' my salary would always be... HJ: in the twenties [19 20 s ] and the thirties [19 30 s ] ? JB: Yeah. Down around Ft. Myers? HJ: No. Here. Once you got here, not in Ft. Myers JB: Oh yeah? HJ: ...just once you got to Tampa. JB: When I first come down to Tam pa I was makin' I was gettin' around about oh, o n the average $2 dollars and somethin' an hour. About $2.20 or somethin' an hour or somethin' an hour and like that. You know around that workin' for the Tampa Gas Company diggin' them ditches. HJ: Say wh at was that pay again? JB: Oh, about $2.20 somethin' an hour. From $2.20 to $2.30 or somethin' like that. HJ: And that was in the twenties [19 20 s ] ? JB: Yeah. HJ: Okay, can you tell me about were you [here] in the forties [19 40 s ] ? Were you here in Tam pa in the forties [19 40 s ] the 1940s? JB: Yeah. HJ: Do you remember the Tampa riot? The riot they had?

PAGE 15

14 JB: In 19 HJ: About 1947 or forty five [19 45 ] ? Or was there a riot? Can you recollect? JB: No, I don't remember no riot that I know that you're thinking about. HJ: You know, a lot the a ll the black people start fighting white people and everything. JB: Not as I remember. HJ: Not during the forties [19 40 s ] ? JB: No, see during let's see HJ: About World War II time, a bout during the war or af ter the war, World War II. JB: I know. I know what you mean (inaudible) thing to say. There might have been a little scuffle which he Ma cDill Field. You heard talk of it? HJ: Yeah. JB: Well, then during that time, you know, them soldiers was in and ou t of town out there. Well, I think they had a little scuffle among the police and them soldiers a n d civilians durin' that time, but I don't think [it] amounted to too much. You know, it wasn't too much. HJ: Just low key? JB: Yeah. HJ: Okay. Well, can you tell me anything about the churches? Say, after World War I, say from the thirties [19 30 s ] and forties [19 40 s ] what about did we have a lot of churches of our own? JB: Well, I was "out there" durin' the time. You know what I mean about "out there"? HJ: Yeah. JB: So I couldn' t tell you too much about the HJ: You weren't goin' to too many, right? JB: (laughs) I couldn't tel l you too much about them churches. Now, you take from a let's see now what year now from 1952 o n up till now I could tell you about them churches.

PAGE 16

15 HJ: Okay, well no t yet, unless you know, because Okay When you came in the twenties [19 20s ] and thirties [19 30s ], was there certain places that you couldn't go? You know, that we couldn't go? JB: Yeah, I understand. Yeah. Well, b ut now let's see HJ: Well, what type of places was there? Was there any places in general? JB: And down and oh Let's see Well, I'll tell you I didn't do too much travelin' around an my own in the white sections. HJ: But it was understood to stay in our section JB: Yeah. Yeah. HJ: if you didn't want to get murdered? JB: No. No. HJ: Or was it free for us to walk around JB: Yeah. Yeah. HJ: in the white section? JB Yeah. Yeah. HJ: You know, or it was drive through. JB: Well, I mean, you could f ree to go anywhere you want to go. You know. Of course, now, there were plenty of places open that the black had for their own, you know what I mean? Now, say for instance, down o n Franklin or them other streets, I never did know blacks hung around there goin' in them N n ever did nobod y g oin' in those places down there, you know. HJ: So that's where t hat's another thing I really want to know. What places was there around that you went to? What was the names of these places and what streets was they on? JB : Well, I try to tell you the names of the places, eve n the streets. But, anyway HJ: Well, you don't have to go way back, just maybe from the forties [19 40s ] JB: Yeah.

PAGE 17

16 HJ: Maybe from 1940s. JB: Well, there was [19 40s ] 1 940s HJ: Yeah, 1940s. JB: Ye ah. HJ: Let's forget about twenty five [19 25 ] thirty [193 0 ] Let's World War II time. JB: Yeah. HJ: That's where we re at. JB: Yeah. HJ: World War II. JB: Well, I can remember I 'd always go out different places, you know, and go in I would drink at t he different bars that was around. HJ: Any one particular bar? JB: No. Any HJ: You know, in the 1940s? You know JB: Well, now let's see HJ: Somebody you knew owned it? JB: Little Savoy was runnin' a bar. HJ : (inaudible) was that? JB: Down o n Scott [Street] and Central. HJ: Scott and Central. JB: Off of Central on right o n the corner of Scott and Central. HJ: What was the na m e of that bar? JB: Little Savoy. HJ: Little Savoy.

PAGE 18

17 JB: Yeah. HJ: What was it like? JB: It's a nice bar. H J: Was it crowded? JB: Nice y eah, i t be crowded. And then they had in there some rooms, you know, and they had waiters and, like, you and a friend or two couples or four couples would go in there and they places cut off with rooms. Then the waiters, they can go in there and take your order and come go back and get it and carry it back in there to HJ: Any bolita goin' o n in these places? JB: Yeah, it but nothin' n o. Not that kind of place. That was just a place where you could go and have your fun and dr ink liquor. HJ: That was basically the only thing JB: Yeah. HJ: that you was doin' there. JB: Yeah. And then another boy had another place g oin' across Nebraska o n Scott Street the sa m e way. Yeah. HJ: Okay. Well, do you know a Clara Frye? JB: Yeah. HJ: Who was that? JB: Hospital (inaudible). HJ: That was a hospital. Was it in JB: Clara Frye Hospital. HJ: Uh huh. Was it open JB: Yeah, during my time. HJ: During your time.

PAGE 19

18 JB: Yeah. HJ: Was it open when you first came here? JB: No. HJ: Did you go there? JB: Yeah. HJ: Did you utilize it? JB: Yeah. HJ: How was it? J B: Let me see HJ: About how many nurses there and JB: Wait a minute. Wait a minute. I didn't know too much about it. They say it was nice pretty good hospital. I'm tr ying to think of the year. But, anyway, I had a chance to go there in that hospital for a hernia operation. HJ: When was that? JB: Huh? HJ: When was that? About when did you go in the hospital? JB: To Clara Frye Hospital. HJ: About year? JB: That's w hat I'm tryin' to think now. Let's see forty [19 40 ] or Side 1 ends; side2 begins. JB: a nd then they had some men there they called the orderly boys. HJ: So, who di d that operation o n you? JB: Well, a doctor called Dr. Smoke. HJ: Was he black?

PAGE 20

19 JB: Huh? White. HJ: Uh huh. JB: And o n Tampa Street, over that same buildin' I think the Citizens Building on the seven th floor. Dr. Smoke. HJ: Okay, anything else about the forties [19 40s ] ? JB: No. That HJ: Before the war? After the war? A lot of bla cks came back? JB: Oh, yeah. HJ: How was it then? JB: Well, my brother never came back from the war. He never did go overseas. He got stationed at Tampa and he stayed. HJ: Was there a lot of jobs after the war? JB: Well, there [were] smarter jobs afte r the war, I imagine. After I stayed down there, after the wa r down to Ellenton, there, and worked down there a good while. My first goin' to Ft. Myers was 1921. HJ: Now, World War II, now, in the forties [19 40s ] forty five [19 45 ] JB: Yeah. HJ: What a bout World War II? JB: Wait a minute. Wait a minute. Wait a minute. HJ: We left World War I. JB: Yeah. HJ: What about after World War II JB: Yeah. Yeah. HJ: and everybody comin' back from the war? JB: Oh yeah.

PAGE 21

20 HJ: Well, were there a lot of jobs after World War II? JB: Yeah. HJ: Where was we workin' then? J B: Out o n the waterfront. HJ: Out o n the waterfront. JB: Right. I worked the waterfront from 1932 to 19 I mean, nearly thirty years, I'd say. I worked the waterfront. HJ: What were you doi n' out there? JB: Well, different jobs. You know. HJ: Like what? JB: Workin' in the o n the ships most of my time. And then a lot of times I'd land out there, you know, o n the docks. HJ: Was there a lot of us workin' out there? JB: Oh, there was HJ: A lot of blacks workin'? JB: All that was worki n' there was blacks. Black work men, black headers, black pullers, all the housemen was black. Everything was black. Got along dandy. HJ: Didn't have no problems with the white workers? JB: No. No. Go o n ov er here we established a u nion. We had a little problem then gettin' that Union established back in the thirties [193 0s ] HJ: What about that? JB: Thirty one [19 31 ] and thirty two [193 2 ] HJ: What'd y a ll do then? JB: Uh? HJ: What'd you all do to ge t the union started?

PAGE 22

21 JB: They struck. Struck. Wouldn't go to work. HJ: Who was gettin' JB: President. HJ: everything together? JB: President. HJ: Who was that? JB: Perry Harvey [Senior] He's dead now but his boy's [Perry Harvey, Jr.] got it ru nnin' right on. HJ: But he was the head man. JB: Yeah, Perry Harvey, he [was] head of the union. Yeah. HJ: Uh huh. JB: And a HJ: Up till before you didn't have a union. T hen during that time you all's tryin' to get it started Was he the head man JB: Yeah. HJ: gettin' it started? JB: Yeah. No. No. I'm ahead of myself. They had another fellow. HJ: What was his name? JB: Johnny LaBelle. He's supposed to have been the h e was the president and he was supposed to, you know, get this union up. H J: What happened to him? JB: He chickened out. HJ: Did he? JB: Yeah. Partly sellin' out to the "crackers HJ: Huh?

PAGE 23

22 JB: Partly sellin' out to the "crackers." You know what I mean? HJ: Uh huh. JB: And then Perry Harvey got to be the president and th e n he HJ: So did he get run out of town or what? JB: Well, yeah he got goin'. HJ: Did he leave o n his own? JB: Must have. (laughs) HJ: Or did you all run him out? JB: No. No. I don't think that happened, 'bout we run him out. He just chickened out and lef t on his own I think. Of course, I didn't know too much about it. HJ: But he was one of the leaders until then. JB: Yeah. Yeah. He was the first one tryin' to get it started, you know. HJ: He was the first? JB: Yeah. And so after this other fe llow got to be president, why HJ: What was his name again, Johnny JB: LaBelle, Johnny LaBelle. And this second one was named Perry Harvey. And who we had the little strike and everything. They tried to go in down there like they had the scuffle up. In oth er words, they tryin' to bring un union men down there in trucks, you know, the workers. And so they had a lot of blacks down there tryin' to get a union, you know, you got a little scufflin' up down there. Didn't amount to too much. They all got t he y went o n back. And so, finally, we got it settled and got a raise. I bet you can't guess how much we went back o n a raise (laughs) HJ: Yeah, tell me about that. JB: Three cents. (laughs) HJ: That was all you got. And then what was you makin' before? JB : I think around thirty cents.

PAGE 24

23 HJ: So you were makin' thirty three with your raise. JB: Yeah. HJ: That was a n hour? J B: On the hour, yeah. And then after then, you know, every time well strike again. We had a strike. Oh, we didn't strike no more. You pause in recording JB: ne gotiating go to a meeting. Go to these meetings, you know, and fight for a raise. You know, what I mean? HJ: Yeah. JB: The not him t he whole Jacksonville, Miami and Pensacola and all them, you know, So uthern states, you know And you all go to a meetin', man. Yeah. That president come back, he never got us a raise when we wanted somethin' if it ain't but a nickel. HJ: So who was that? JB: The president. HJ: That was Harvey? JB: Yeah. For our union. HJ: That was Perry Harvey? JB: Yeah. Yeah. HJ: He d do all the negotiating. JB: Yeah. Yeah. And now, I don't know exactly, bu t if I ain't mistaken now that eight hour pay t his eight hours of pay time, I think it was around I'm rough guessin' now around $75 or $80 dollars for eight hours. HJ: Then? JB: Huh? HJ: When was that? Then? JB: Now!

PAGE 25

24 HJ: Now. JB: Yeah. Now! Now! Seventy five or eighty dollars for eight hours work. HJ: (w histle s ) JB: Yeah, I'm rough guessin' now ; it might not be that much. Because I've been left from down there since twenty seven [19 27 ] r etired. HJ: So you work ed down at the docks for about thirty years. JB: Yeah, a little better. Yeah. HJ: From 1930 JB: Yeah. HJ: to about sixty [19 60 ] ? JB: Till um me I mean, seventy two [19 72 ] I me an, fifty seven [19 57 ] and fifty [19 50 ] HJ: Fifty seven [1957] or fifty eight [19 58 ] JB: Yeah. HJ: Well, could you tell me anything else about the docks? J B: Well, no. About all I can think about the docks. HJ: All right. Well, one more question. L et me see okay. D uring the forties [19 40s ] and the fifties [19 50s ] what about was Clara Frye Hospital still the only place you could go if you was sick? JB: No. HJ: Where else did you go? JB: No. Well, you see I don't know what year that you HJ: Fort ies [1940s] JB: I know. I know. You're HJ: After the war.

PAGE 26

25 JB: You're talkin' about in the forties [19 40s ] and then after Clara Frye HJ: In the fifties [19 50s ] JB: Yeah. And then I wouldn't know what year Tampa General opened up. I don't [know] wha t year that was. But I know See, now, I had that hernia operation in the forties [19 40s ] I think it was, down there to Clara Frye. And then I had another one you know, a seco nd one. I had the second one oh about my wife passed in sixty nine [19 69 ]. I gue ss, rough guess, about three months after [she died in] sixty nine [19 69 ] I had the second operation, hernia operation. I went to Tampa General Hospital then. HJ: So, one more thing, could you tell me about back to the shipyards when Mr. La Belle was the f irst president, right? JB: Yeah. HJ: Okay JB: Wait a minute. Wait a minute. The Longshoreman s [Union] I ain't got nothin' to do with the shipyards. HJ: Longshoreman's f i rst president of the Longshoreme n. About him leavin', could you tell me any more specifics other than he sold out? What made him leave? JB: Well, I don't know exactly how it was, but I just assumed. HJ: Just in general. JB: I can say that these two things; you can "chicken out" or you can "sell out" "chicken out" or "sold out". H J: One of the two. JB: Yeah. HJ: Yeah, I just thought there maybe was something in yo u know JB: No. No. HJ: o r said that might lead me to go forward. JB: Well, you see I don't know what happened but he left HJ: Okay, anything else you want to tel l me about after the forties [19 40s ] about Tampa coverin' ?

PAGE 27

26 JB: No. No. I not recently. About all I know. HJ: Okay. Well, Mr. Brown, then that about ends our JB: Okay. HJ: in terview JB: Yeah. HJ: unless you want to add somethin'. JB: No. Ain't nothin' I can add. Leave the tape for 'em. (laughs) HJ: Okay, well, I thank you. I can cut it off right here. end of interview


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