Bessie McGee

Citation
Bessie McGee

Material Information

Title:
Bessie McGee
Series Title:
Otis R. Anthony African Americans in Florida oral history project
Creator:
McGee, Bessie
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 (26 min.) : digital, MPEG4 file + ;

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
African Americans -- Social life and customs -- Florida -- Tampa ( lcsh )
African Americans -- Florida ( lcsh )
African Americans -- History -- Florida ( lcsh )
Genre:
Oral history. ( local )
Online audio. ( local )
interview ( marcgt )
Oral history ( local )
Online audio ( local )

Notes

Summary:
Bessie McGhee describes her life in Tampa during the 1910s and 1920s. Particular attention is given to Beulah Baptist Church and Central Avenue, the African American business and entertainment district.
Venue:
Interview conducted September 13, 1978.
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:
020800647 ( ALEPH )
436230077 ( OCLC )
A31-00036 ( USFLDC DOI )
a31.36 ( USFLDC Handle )

Postcard Information

Format:
Audio

Downloads

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 2200433Ia 4500
controlfield tag 001 020800647
005 20140205104931.0
006 m u
m d
007 sz zunnnnnzned
cr nna||||||||
008 090910s1978 fluuunn sd t n eng d
datafield ind1 8 ind2 024
subfield code a A31-00036
0 033
19780913
b 3934
035
(OCoLC)436230077
040
FHM
c FHM
090
E185.93.F5
1 100
McGee, Bessie.
245
Bessie McGee
h [electronic resource] /
interviewed by Otis R. Anthony and members of the Black History Research Project of Tampa.
260
Tampa, Fla. :
University of South Florida Tampa Library,
1978.
300
1 sound file (26 min.) :
digital, MPEG4 file +
e 1 transcript (digital, PDF file)
440
Otis R. Anthony African Americans in Florida oral history project
5 FTS
500
Other interviewers for the Black History Research Project of Tampa were Fred Beaton, Joyce Dyer, Herbert Jones, and Shirley Smith.
FTS
518
Interview conducted September 13, 1978.
FTS
520
Bessie McGhee describes her life in Tampa during the 1910s and 1920s. Particular attention is given to Beulah Baptist Church and Central Avenue, the African American business and entertainment district.
600
McGee, Bessie
650
African Americans
z Florida
Tampa
x Social life and customs.
African Americans
Florida.
African Americans
Florida
History.
7 655
Oral history.
2 local
Online audio.
local
700
Anthony, Otis R.
710
Black History Research Project of Tampa.
University of South Florida Libraries.
Florida Studies Center.
Oral History Program.
University of South Florida.
Tampa Library.
4 856
u http://digital.lib.usf.edu/?a31.36
y USF ONLINE ACCESS
FTS
951
10
SFU01:002028038;
FTS


xml version 1.0 encoding UTF-8
transcript timecoded false doi A31-00036 skipped 15 dategenerated 2015-06-10 19:24:48
segment idx 0time text length 54 Herbert Jones: When you were born and this type thing?
168 Bessie McGee: I was born in Thomasville, Georgia, November 25, 1893.
252 HJ: And do you remember what year you came to Tampa?
39 BM: 1910.
4113 HJ: Can you tell me anything, us anything about World War I, how life was in Tampa for blacks during World War I?
5140 BM: Well, this is a ring was given to me World War I, the fellow I was going with then give me that when he was leaving; it's my birthstone.
625 HJ: Oh, that's beautiful.
747 BM: Cause I worn it in two, two or three times.
826 HJ: How was life in Tampa?
9568 BM: Well, in Tampa it was just glory to me, because I came here from a small town, Bainbridge, Georgia, a very small town. You can imagine what Tampa was to me then, but it wasn't nothing like it is now. Because when I came here, I came on the train and they had a depot like you have in Georgia, and it wasn't as good as the one that I left in Georgia; it was on the corner of Polk [Street] and Franklin [Street] in Tampa, that's where I got off the train there at the depot. And Tampa was kind of poor then; it's another Tampa now, from what it was when I came here.
1040 HJ: How old were you when you came here?
11144 BM: I had my eighteenth birthday here, but I came here I guess around about seventeen or near eighteen, cause I had my eighteenth birthday here.
1261 HJ: Okay, when you came, what type of work were blacks doing?
13120 BM: Well, the blacks were doing mostly anything they could get then, and a lot of them was working in the cigar factory.
1438 HJ: Did you work in the cigar factory?
1511 BM: Uh huh.
1675 HJ: How much were you making when you started working in the cigar factory?
17210 BM: Oh, well, I'll make twelve dollars some weeks and when I learned, why then it came up to eighteen dollars a week and of course that was something to a $1.25 a week and a $1.50 what I was getting in Georgia.
18HJ: Were a lot of blacks employed there?
1972 BM: Yeah, quite a few, mostly Cubans and Italians-I'll say Latin people.
2069 HJ: What year was it that you started working where you were working?
2134 BM: Oh, around about eleven, 1911.
2289 HJ: Okay, how was the housing conditions for blacks; where did the blacks basically live?
23178 BM: Well, they lived most everywhere, but among the whites then. When I first came here I was living, my mother was living on the corner of [North] Boulevard and Laurel [Street].
24HJ: Were those streets named then-those streets had names like that when y'all came here?
25BM: Uh huh, when I came-yeah, we were living right on the corner of Boulevard and Laurel.
26HJ: In a house?
27203 BM: Oh, yeah, a pretty good house, but wasn't no bathroom. And we didn't have running water-I mean a hot and cold, we didn't have that-and it was an Italian house, and most of our neighbors was Italians.
28HJ: Did you have any problems with them?
29200 BM: Oh, no, they were very nice people. When they were around they were better than our people, cause they don't tend your business and please don't you tend to theirs, but they were very nice people.
3082 HJ: Do you remember when Dr. Benjamin Mays was here working with the Urban League?
31BM: Doctor who?
3273 HJ: Mays, Benjamin Mays, cause that was around 1922, somewhere like that.
3358 BM: (inaudible) I just do remember, but not much about it.
3436 HJ: Okay, what about the streetcars?
35BM: (inaudible) Oh, the streetcars, they was nice long green ones, then.
3653 HJ: And how much did you have to pay to ride on them?
3739 BM: I think they were five or ten cent.
3835 HJ: And you had to sit at the back?
3992 BM: Sat in the back, by all means; you get too far in front, they ask you to go in the back.
40165 HJ: Okay, can you tell me anything about the land boom here in Tampa, when land was plentiful and folks was buying up land and stuff like that; do you remember that?
41125 BM: I just do remember that long at that time, but in the later years I ah-I help name-oh, not Lincoln Garden, the other one.
4216 HJ: Carver City?
43580 BM: Uh huh, but I had too much name, I named it George Carver, but I got something. They's giving prizes and I was the twelfth one that sent in a name and I think I was the second or third that sent in that. I had the Carver right, but I put a little too much to it and they had, they was giving Pyrex dishes and I got there too late; it was the Urban League on Lamar [Avenue] then. I got there too late and they gave me a razor set and I was working at St. Joseph [Hospital], so (inaudible), back to the hospital and showed it and then a man bought it, so I was lucky about that.
44171 HJ: What type of lifestyle did blacks have in early Tampa, like when you first came in 1911, what did y'all do for entertainment, like you know did you go dances, parties?
45188 BM: Yeah, we went to dances and parties. And then we would give parties on Saturday nights, we give church parties to raise money, like the churches have-we would raise our money that way.
4656 HJ: When you first came here, what church did you go to?
47BM: Oh, I went to Beulah [Baptist Church], I was here-
4828 HJ: Are you still at Beulah?
49BM: Yeah, I done helped 'em build two churches.
50107 HJ: Well I done seen you there, I've sung at Beulah a lot of times, with USF [University of South Florida].
51380 BM: Well I helped 'em build two churches, cause when I joined we was at Longshoremen [Longshoremen's Hall] then, that's where it was. And it took me two years to make up my mind whether to join Beulah or Bethel [Baptist Church]. So I thought about-well, when I was converted in Bainbridge, Georgia, it was the First Baptist Church, so I join Beulah and I've been there ever since.
52158 HJ: Okay, so you were here when Beulah had that bust right, when they broke up and went different ways, because Beulah came from another church right, before?
53123 BM: I don't know, but Beulah has plenty children-what I mean by that is you know they moved out and started another church.
54108 HJ: Yeah, that's what I was talking about. Where did they move out from, what church did they move out from?
5588 BM: They moved out from Beulah, it was St. John [Progressive Missionary Baptist Church].
5659 HJ: Oh these churches branched out from Beulah into others?
57136 BM: Beulah, I said that our churches St. John, New Hope [Missionary Baptist Church], New Salem [Missionary Baptist Church] in Hyde Park.
58HJ: Why did the people want to branch out, do you know why?
59155 BM: Oh, well, things went wrong and they wasn't satisfied. Greater Bethel [Baptist Church] is one of our children, and Beulah was 113 years old last month.
60HJ: What about the schools, how were the schools in Tampa, during the early '30s as far back as you can remember?
61236 BM: I don't remember so well, but I remember I went to Meacham [Elementary School], and Miss Tina [Christina Meacham] was teaching there and I went three weeks and I didn't like her. (laughs) And so then I just stopped and went to work.
6293 HJ: Okay, what about the police brutality here, were the policemen real cruel to black folks?
63119 BM: Well, Mr. Davis and I can't think of the other one's name; they were right cruel to the people on Central [Avenue].
6464 HJ: If you went on Central they didn't bother with you too much?
6594 BM: Oh, yeah, they bother you. If they had to; they didn't bother you if you behaved yourself.
66115 HJ: When you first came here in 1910, did they have a Central then-Central Avenue, was there a Central Avenue then?
67BM: Yeah.
6827 HJ: What was on there then?
69966 BM: More than there is now. Oh, boy, that was our street-yeah, there was some good times back then. I mean you wasn't afraid that; you just had a nice time. And on Sundays, on Sundays-we wasn't going on Sunday afternoon cause Sunday you had to go to church in the morning, but on Sunday afternoon you would just enjoy walking on Central-it was on Central and Scott [Street]-and stand up and look at people pass. Or go over there in Webb Drugstore-it wasn't Webb then, it was something else, I can't remember-and sit down and look at the people pass. And then we use to go out to Palmetto Beach, out there, cause they had a dance and everything out there. Then we use to go on Central to a theatre; was then Anderson, now the Anderson Building. But we just had a good time long in that time, and especially for me, cause see, I was from a small town. And of course it was just-oh, I thought I was something when I could go about in different places to go to theaters.
70184 HJ: Do you remember anything about the Tampa riot in the forties [1940s]; there was a big riot against some blacks and whites in the forties [1940s], and they called it the Tampa Riot?
71251 BM: Now part of the time I was in Sarasota working. In the forties [1940s], I think I was here but I don't remember a riot, I can't place it. That could have been in Sarasota, but you ain't talking about the time when Reverend [A. Leon] Lowry had the-
7245 HJ: No, that was in the late fifties [1950s].
7386 BM: I can't think of very much to help y'all, I'm sorry; old and forgetful now, honey.
74HJ: No, you're doing okay.
7533 pause in audio, interview resumes
76219 Can you tell me like during World War I, you got the ring from your boyfriend. Okay, was he from Tampa-this guy was from Tampa, and he went to fight in World War I, right? Okay, so what type of work were you doing then?
77395 BM: I mostly did maid. I worked in the cigar factory for a long time, then I got mad cause they strike too much. One year just 'bout three weeks to Christmas, I had things put up in Ybor City, and things put up on Franklin [Street], and they had a strike. Then I had to go to work in service, and I didn't like that so much. So that's when I quit working in the factory after working in service.
78179 HJ: You were working at the cigar factory during the time of World War I, were you not? Was this after was after World War I or during World War I you were doing the service work?
79BM: I was doing the service work.
8046 HJ: Were jobs hard to find during World War I?
81291 BM: I don't think so. I worked for a lady-she was from Alabama-and I worked for them. And anytime there was a crowd going off for the service, honey, she had to let me off, cause I had to go the station and see 'em off. I had-and then go back and fix dinner, but I had to see those boys off.
8218 HJ: You had to go?
8371 BM: Oh, I had to go, you swear I was going to the [United States] Army.
84HJ: Why did you have to go? (laughter)
8563 BM: I don't know; it was just one of those things. I had to go.
86HJ: Would there be other people down there too?
87BM: Oh, like this, and they were crying and falling out. I had to go. Well, this is a crowd going off, I know you are going, I wanted to say you lucky I came at all.
88102 HJ: So how long it would take you before they would go? How long would you have to take off from work?
8941 BM: I don't-whatever time they was going.
9029 HJ: She wouldn't say nothing?
91128 BM: Uh-uh; they knowed, honey-see, they seen the paper before I did, so they know they either had to go out to dinner or fix it.
9232 HJ: Or wait until you come back?
9351 BM: They'll fix or either they'll go out to dinner.
94129 HJ: Doing the time when you were young and black folks got sick, where did they go to get help, medical help when they were sick?
95141 BM: Well, at that time I didn't know nowhere but to Clara Frye [Hospital], and it was on Lamar [Avenue] then and they closed the poor county.
96HJ: How was the facilities there, and the help at Clara Frye?
97114 BM: It was nice, I guess, at some point, but I didn't get to go there. But it was all we had, that and the county.
98HJ: Though they would let you go to the county for help? You had your separate sides, of course, the blacks from the white?
99122 BM: I guess, cause I didn't go there. In later years they had the County Hospital and right down the road was the Welfare.
100HJ: Well, just tell us some things in general that y'all use, that you just did when you coming up in Tampa, just anything.
10144 BM: I didn't come, I wasn't raised in Tampa.
102173 HJ: I mean from the time you came here, from 18 ah-what did you do, some of the things that you did, and some of the things that black folks did here, that you can remember?
103160 BM: I just can't remember too much about it. I know we worked some in the factories, some doing house work, some doing laundry work. My mother did laundry work.
104HJ: Do you know how much she was making?
10555 BM: No, I don't. I know one job I was on, I made $3.50.
106HJ: A week?
10750 BM: Course, that was heaven as to what I had left.
108HJ: And how much would your rent be and stuff like that?
10942 BM: Oh that was cheap, $1.75 or $2 a week.
11024 HJ: Food was very cheap?
11119 BM: Food was cheap.
112153 HJ: Did y'all ever have the twentieth-what is that thing?-the twentieth of May celebration here in Tampa with blacks, did blacks ever celebrate that day?
113May 20 is Emancipation Day, celebrating the first reading of the Emancipation Proclamation in Florida.
114BM: I don't remember 'em celebrating that day like we did in Georgia.
115HJ: What about Gas-when the fair came to town, did y'all do anything during that time?
116175 BM: No, we weren't in that. But in later years when my brothers got grown, they had them maybe serving the crew-Gasparilla crew-they be serving and things, two of my brothers.
117162 HJ: What about-did you ever run into any problems when you were working in the factories, like with the white workers; did they treat the black workers different?
118223 BM: No, I didn't never have no problem. They were mostly Latin people working at times; sometime you would have trouble with your foreman. Especially when he couldn't speak English and you couldn't speak Italian or Spanish.
119HJ: Wasn't no problem with them calling you nigger?
12014 BM: No, uh-uh.
121110 HJ: What about when you was working in service, were any of the families extremely harsh or slave driver type?
122230 BM: No, no. And I worked in one family eighteen years, and I didn't have no trouble out of them, and they had three girls and I married all of them off, married the oldest one off twice. I didn't have no problem. Only I get tired.
123HJ: Did you ever hear from any of the men that they were having problems down at the docks, you know with the white men, maybe running them away from the docks or something?
124479 BM: No, my husband, my first husband work down there and the only complaint he had [was] they wasn't working regularly, just when the ships come in. It made it kind of tough you know. But if they had problem we didn't bring them home, you know how some of you men do here alone, bring some your troubles home. But I can say I've seen Tampa, cause some places in here I don't know myself. It really has built up since 1910, since I've been here. I hardly know where I use to live.
125HJ: You remember the address, but not how to find it?
126452 BM: Yeah. Now one place I lived-well, two places-they have torn the houses down. Now when I last-when I use to live on Highland [Avenue]-I don't know whether y'all know where that is, up between Seventh [Avenue] and over-all those big two story houses up, torn down now. And the last place I lived there was on Estelle [Street] and Ashley [Street], and that's where the City Hall or City Jail was. (inaudible) And we had to move out, they moved us out.
127HJ: Do you remember the NAACP [National Association for the Advancement of Colored People] or when they first came to town?
128BM: No. I can't remember when first came to town, but I can remember I was a member once.
129209 HJ: Did the soldiers ever talk about the problems they had in serving the Army-like your boyfriend, did he ever write you and tell you anything about what was happening to him in the Army, and stuff like that?
130BM: Uh-uh, he come here and a while and died. I think he drink too much.
13157 HJ: So do you have any other sisters and brothers living?
132167 BM: Oh, yeah, I got one live out on North East Bay [Street] and she lives in the family home; then I got one live on Twenty-First [Street] right off of Columbus Drive.
133HJ: And how old are they?
134117 BM: I can't keep up with them numbers, but Baby was the one that live on Busch [Boulevard] and Twenty-First [Street].
13523 HJ: And how old is she?
136BM: I'm 20 years older than she is, so I'll be eighty-five in November and she'll be sixty-five-now I am right, I'm twenty years older. See, in January she'll be sixty-five.
137HJ: Okay, we can talk to her; was she born in Tampa?
13865 BM: No-yeah, she was born, but I don't know if she know anything.
13966 HJ: She might know something if she's sixty-five and you're older.
140BM: She will be sixty-five in January.
141HJ: And how old was your-you said you had a brother living somewhere?
142BM: No, honey.
14321 HJ: Just two sisters?
144BM: My brothers wasn't living, but I got another sister.
14520 HJ: What's her name?
146BM: Geneva Vann, she live in Belmont Heights.
147HJ: What's her address or her phone number that I can call her?
14830 BM: Twenty and-which you want?
14980 HJ: Give me her phone number then, I can call her and get an interview with her.
15037 BM: All right, 232-6173, Geneva Vann.
151HJ: And your younger sister, what's her name?
152BM: Virda Lee Currey, Virda.
15310 HJ: Virda.
154BM: Did you put a V there?
155HJ: Uh huh, what was the last name?
156BM: Virda Lee Currey, last name is Currey.
157HJ: And her phone number?
158BM: Her phone is 248-3570.
159233 HJ: And you know if you talk to them, tell them that I'll be calling to do an interview, cause they probably could give me some insight to, you know, maybe some of the things that you have forgotten, they probably could pick them up.
160BM: You want me to call them.
161126 HJ: Yeah, you can call them and I will call them also, see if I can get their addresses, and when I can come by to visit them.
162BM: Cause I owe both of 'em a call. Cause when they call me today, somebody came in and I promise to call 'em back and I haven't.
163HJ: So is there anything else you want to share with us today, or that can remember that you haven't shared?
164BM: I can't remember, I guess when y'all leave then I'll remember.
16543 HJ: Okay, if you should then I'll give you-
166end of interview
unicode



PAGE 1

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.

PAGE 2

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 00036 In terviewee: Bessie McG ee (BM) Interview er : Herbert Jones (H J) Interview date: September 13, 1978 Interview location: Unknown Transcribed by: Unknown Transcription date: Unknown Interview changes by: Kimberly Nordon Changes date: December 29, 2008 Final Edit by: Mary Beth Isaacson Final Edit date: Februar y 3, 2009 H erbert J ones : When you were born and this type thing? Bessie McGee : I was born in Thomasville, Georgia, November 25, 1 8 93. HJ: And do you remember what year you came to Tampa? BM: 1910. HJ: Can you tell me anything, us anything about Worl d War I, how life was in Tampa for blacks during World War I? BM: Well this is a ring was give n to me World War I the fellow I was going with then give me that whe n he was leaving; it's my birthstone. HJ: Oh that's beautiful. BM: Cause I worn it in t wo, two or three times. HJ: How was life in Tampa? BM: Well in Tampa it was just glory to me, because I came here from a small town Bainbridge, Georgia a very small town. You can imagine what Tampa was to me then, but it wasn't nothing like it is now Be cause when I came here, I came o n the train and they had a depot like you have in Georgia and it wasn't as good as the one that I left in Georgia ; it was o n the corner of Polk [Street] and Franklin [Street] in Tampa, that's where I got off the train t here at the depot. And Tampa was kind of poor then ; it's another Tampa now from what it was when I came here.

PAGE 3

2 HJ: How old were you when you came here? BM: I had my eighteenth birthday here, but I came here I gues s around about seventeen or near eighteen cause I had my eighteenth birthday here. HJ: Okay whe n you came, what type of work were blacks doing? BM: Well, the blacks were doing mostly anything they could get then and a lot of them was working in the cigar factory. HJ: Did you work in the cig ar factory? BM: Uh huh. HJ: How much were you making when you started working in the cigar factory? BM: Oh well I'll make twelve dollars some weeks and when I learned, why then it came up to eighteen dollars a week and of course that was something to a $1.25 a week and a $1.50 what I was getting in Georgia. HJ: Were a lot of blacks employed there? BM: Yeah, quite a few, mostly Cubans and Italians I'll say Latin people. HJ: What year was it that you started working where you were working? BM: Oh a round about eleven 1911. HJ: Okay how was the housing conditions for blacks; w h ere did the blacks basically live? BM: Well they lived most everywhere, but among the w hites then. When I first came here I wa s living, my mother was living o n the corner o f [North] Boulevard and Laurel [Street] HJ: Were those streets named then those streets had names like that when y'all came here? BM: Uh huh, when I came yeah we were living right o n the corner of Boulevard and Laurel. HJ: In a house? BM: Oh yeah, a pretty good house, but wasn't no bathroom. A nd we didn't have running water I mean a hot and cold we didn't have that and it was an Italian house, and most

PAGE 4

3 of our neighbors was Italians. HJ: Did you have any problems with them? BM: Oh no, they were v ery nice people W hen they were around they were better than our people cause they don't tend your business and please don't you tend to their s but they were very nice people. HJ: Do you remember when Dr. Benjamin Mays was here working with the Urban Le ague? BM: Doctor who? HJ: Mays, Benjamin May s, cause that was around 1922, somewhere like that. BM: (inaudible) I just do remember, but not much about it. HJ: Okay what about the streetcars? BM: (inaudible) Oh the streetcars, they was nice long gree n ones, then. HJ: And how mu ch did you have to pay to ride o n them? BM: I think they were five or ten cent. HJ: And you had to sit at the back? BM : Sat in the back, by all means; you get to far in front they ask you to go in the back. HJ: Okay can you tell me anything about the land boom here in Tampa, when land was plentiful and folks was buying up land and stuff like that ; do you remember that? BM: I just do remember that long at that time, but in the later years I ah I help name oh not Lincoln Garden, the other one. HJ: Carver City? BM: Uh huh, but I had to o much name, I named it George Carver, but I got something. They's giving prizes and I was the twelfth one that sent in a name and I think I was the second or third that sent in that. I had the Carver right, but I put a little to o much to it and they had, they was giving P yrex dishes and I got there to o late ; it was the Urban League o n Lamar [Avenue] then. I got there t o o late and they gave me a razor set and I was working at Saint Joseph [Ho spital] so (inaudible) back to the hospital and showed it and then a man brought it, so I was lucky about that. HJ: What type of lifestyle did blacks have in early Tampa, like when you first came in

PAGE 5

4 1911, what did y'all do for entertainment, like you kn ow did you go dances, parties? BM: Yeah we went to dances and parties. And then we would give parties o n Saturday nights, we give church parties to raise money, like the churches have we would raise our money that way. HJ: When you first came here what church did you go to? BM: O h I went to Beulah [Baptist Church] I was here HJ: Are you still at Beulah? BM: Yeah, I done helped 'em build two churches. HJ: We ll I done seen you there, I've su ng at Beulah a lot of times, with from USF [ University of South Florida ] BM: Well I helped 'em build two churches, cause when I joined we was at Longshoremen [Longshoremen's Hall] then that's where it was. And it took me two years to make up my min d whether to join Beulah or Bethel [Baptist Church] So I th ought about well when I was converted in Bainbridge, Georgia it was the F irst Baptist C hurch, so I join Beulah and I've been there ever since. HJ: Okay, so you were here when Beulah had that bust right, when they broke up and went different ways, cause Beulah came from another church right, before? BM: I don't know, but Beulah has plenty children what I mean by that is you know they moved out and started another church. HJ: Yeah, that's what I was talking about W here did they move out from, what churc h did they move out from? BM: They moved ou t from Beulah, it was St. John [Progressive Missionary Baptist Church]. HJ: Oh these churches branched out from Beulah into others? BM: Beulah, I said that our churches St. John, New Hope [Missionary Baptist C hurch] New Salem [Missionary Baptist Church] in Hyde Park. HJ: Why did the people want to branch out, do you know why? BM: Oh well things went wrong and they wasn't satisfied. Greater Bethel [Baptist Church] is one of our children, and Beulah was 113 years old last month. HJ: What about the schools, how were the schools in Tampa, during the early '30 s as far

PAGE 6

5 back as you can remember? BM: I don't remember so well, but I remember I went to Meacham [Elementary School], and Miss Tina [Christina Meacham] was teaching there and I went three weeks and I didn't like her. And so then I just stopped and went to work. HJ: Okay what about the police brutality here, were the policemen real cruel to black folks? BM: Well Mr. Davis and I can't think of the other one s name ; they were right cruel to the people o n Central [Avenue] HJ: If you went o n Central they didn't bother with you too much? BM: Oh, yeah, they bother you. If they had to ; they didn't bother you if you behaved yourself. HJ: When you first came here in 1910, did they have a Central then Central Avenue, was there a Central Avenue then? BM: Yeah. HJ: What was o n there then? BM: More than there is now. Oh boy that was our street yeah there was some good times back then I mean you wasn't afra id that; you just had a nice time. And o n Sundays, o n Sundays we wasn't going o n Sunday afternoon cause Sunday you had to go to church in the morning, but o n Sunday afternoon you would just e njoy walking on Central it was o n Central and Scott [Street] and stand up and l ook at people pass Or go over there in Webb Drugs tore it wasn't Webb then, it was something else, I can't remember and sit down and look at the people pass. And then we use to go out to Palmetto Beach, out there cause they had a dance and e verything out there. Then we use to go on Central to a t heatre ; was then Anderson, now the Anderson Building. B ut we just had a good time long in that time, and especially for me, cause see I was from a small town. And of course it was just oh, I thought I was something when I could go abo ut in different places to go to theaters. HJ: Do you remember anything about the Tampa riots in the forties [19 40s ]; there was a big riot against some blacks and w hites in the forties [19 40s ] and they called it the Tamp a Riots? BM: Now part of the time I was in Sarasota working. In the forties [1940 s ] I think I was here but I don't remember a riot, I can't place it. That could have been in Sarasota, but you ain't talking about the time when Rev erend [A. Leon] Lowr y had the HJ: No that was in the late fifties [1950 s ]

PAGE 7

6 BM: I can't think of very much to help y'all, I'm sorry ; old and forgetful now honey. HJ: No you're doing okay. Can you tell me like during World War I, you got th e ring from your boyfriend. O kay wa s he from Tampa this guy was from Tampa, and he went to fight in World War I right? Okay so what type of work were you doing then? BM: I most ly did maid. I worked in the cigar factory for a long time, then I got mad cause they strike t o o much. One year just bout three weeks to Christmas, I had things put up i n Ybor City, and things put up o n Franklin [Street] and they had a strike. Then I had to go to work in service and I didn't like that so much. So that's when I quit working in the factory after wo rking in service. HJ: You were working at the cigar factory during the time of World War I, were you not? W as this after was after World War I or during World War I you were doing the service work? BM: I was doing the s ervice work. HJ: Were jobs hard to find during World War I? BM: I don't think so. I worked for a lady she was from Alabama and I worked for them. And anytime there was a crowd going off for the service, honey she had to let me off, cause I had to go the station and see 'em off. I had and then go back and fix dinner, but I had to see those boys off. HJ: You had to go? BM: Oh I had to go, you swear I was going to the [United States] A rmy. HJ: Why did you have to go? BM: I don't know; it was just o ne of those things. I had to go. HJ: W ould there be other people down there to o ? BM: Oh like this, and t hey were crying and falling out. I had to go. Well this is a crowd going off, I know you are going, I wanted to say you lucky I came at all. HJ: So how long it would take you before they would go? How long would you have to take off from work? BM: I don't whatever time they was going. HJ: She wouldn't say nothing?

PAGE 8

7 BM: Uh uh ; they knowed honey see they seen the paper before I did, so they know they either had to go out to dinner or f ix it. HJ: Or wait until you come back? BM: They'll fix or either they'll go out to dinner. HJ: Doing the time when you were young and black folks got sick, where did they go to get help, medical help when they were sick? BM: We ll, at that time I didn' t know no where but to Clara Fry e [Hospital] and it was on Lamar then and they closed the poor county. HJ: How was the facilities there, and the help at Clara Fry e ? BM: It was nice, I guess, at some point, but I didn't get to go there. But it was all we had, that and the county. HJ: Though they would let you go to the county for help? You had your separate sides of course the blacks from the w hite? BM: I gues s, cause I didn't go there. In later years they had the County Hospital and right down the roa d was the Welfare. HJ: Well just tell us some things in general that y'all use, that you just did when you coming up in Tampa, just anything. BM: I didn't come, I wasn't raised in Tampa. HJ: I mean from the time you came here, from 18 ah what did you do, some of the things that you did, and some of the things that black folks d id here, that you can remember? BM: I just can't remember to o much about it I know we worke d some in the factories, some do ing house work, some doing laundry work M y mother di d laundry work. HJ: Do you know how much she was making? BM: N o, I don't. I know one job I was o n I made $3.50. HJ: A week? BM: Course that was h e aven as to what I had left. HJ: And how much would your rent be and stuff like that?

PAGE 9

8 BM: Oh that was cheap, $1.75 or $2 a week. HJ: Food was very cheap? BM: Food was cheap. HJ: Did y'all ever have the twenti eth what is that thing ? the twenti eth of May celebration here in Tampa with blacks did blacks ever celebrate that day? 1 BM: I don't remember 'em celebrating that day like we did in Georgia. HJ: What about Gas when the fair came to town, did y'all do anything during that time? BM: N o we weren't in that. But in later years when my brothers got grown, they had them maybe serving the crew Gasparill a crew they be serving and things, two of my brothers. HJ: What about did you ever run into any problems when you were working in the factori es, like with the white workers; did they treat the black workers different? BM: No, I didn't never have no probl em T hey were mostly Latin people working at times ; sometime you would have trouble with your foreman. Especially when he couldn't speak English and you couldn't speak Italian or Spanish. HJ: Wasn't no problem with them calling you n igger? BM: No, u h uh. HJ: What about when you was working in service, were any of the f amilies extremely harsh or s l a ve driver type? BM: No, no. And I worked in one family eighteen years, and I didn't have no trouble out of them, and they had three girls and I married all of them off, married the oldest one off twice I didn't have no problem. Only I get t ir ed. HJ: Did you ever hear from any of the men that they were having problems down a t the docks, you know with the w hite men, maybe running them away from the docks or som ething? BM: No, my husband, my first husband work down there and the only complaint he had [was] they wasn't working regularly, just when the ships come in I t made it kind of tough you know. But if they had problem we didn't bring them home, you know how some of you men do here alone, bring some your troubles home. But I can say I've s een Tampa, cause some places in here I don't know myself I t really has built up since 1910, since I've been here. I hardly know where I use to live. 1 May 20 is Emancipation Day, celebrating the first reading of the Emancipation Proclamation in Florida.

PAGE 10

9 HJ: You remember the a ddress, but not how to find it? BM: Yeah N ow one place I lived we ll two places they have torn the houses down. Now when I last when I use to live on Highland [Avenue] I don't know whether y'all know where that is, up between Seven th [Avenue] and over al l those big two story houses up, torn down now. And the last place I lived th ere was o n Estelle [Street] and Ashley [Street] and that's where the City Hall or City Jail was. (inaudible) And we had to move out, they moved us out. HJ: Do you remember the N AACP [National Association for the Advancement of Colored People] or when they first came to town? BM: No I can't remember when first came to town, but I ca n remember I was a member once. HJ: Did the soldiers ever talk about the pr oblems they had in ser ving the A rmy like your boyfriend did he ever write you and tel l you any thing about wh at was happening to him in the A rmy, and stuff like that? BM: Uh uh, he come here and a while and died. I think he drink to o much. HJ: So do you have any other sisters and brothers living? BM: Oh yeah, I got one live out o n North East Bay [Street] and she lives in the family home ; then I got one live o n Twenty Fir st [Street] right off of Columbus Drive. HJ: And how old are they? BM: I can't keep up with them numbers but Baby was the one that live o n Busch [Boulevard] an d Twenty Fir st [Street] HJ: And how old is she? BM: I' m 20 years older than she is, so I'll be eighty five in November and she'll be sixty five now I am right, I'm twenty years older S ee in Janu ary she'll be sixty five HJ: Ok ay, we can talk to her; was she b orn in Tampa? BM: N o yeah she was born, but I don't know if she know anything. HJ: She might know something if she's sixty five and you're older. BM: She will be sixty five in January. HJ: And how old was your you said you had a brother living somewhere?

PAGE 11

10 BM: No honey. HJ: Just two sisters? BM: My brothers wasn't living, but I got another sister. HJ: What's her name? BM: Geneva Van n she live in Belmont Heights. HJ: What's her add ress or her p hone number that I can call her? BM: Twenty and which you want? HJ: Give me her phone number then, I can call her and get an interview with her. BM: Al l right, 232 6173, Genev a Va n n. HJ: And you r younger sister, what's her name? BM: Vird a Lee Curr e y, Virda. HJ: Virda. BM: Did you put a V there? HJ: Uh huh, what was the last name? BM: Virda Lee Currey, last name is Currey. HJ: And her phone number? BM: Her phone is 248 3570. HJ: And you know if you talk to them tell them that I'l l be calling to do an interview, cause they probably could give me some insight to, you know maybe some of the things that you have forgotten, they probably could pick them up. BM: You want me to call them. HJ: Yeah, you can call them and I will call th em also, see if I can get their addresses, and when I can come by to visit them. BM: Cause I owe both of 'em a call. Cause when they call me today, somebody came in and I promise to call 'em back and I haven't.

PAGE 12

11 HJ: So is there anything else you want to s hare with us today, or that can remember that you haven't shared? BM: I can't remember, I gues s when y'all leave then I'll remember. HJ: Okay if you should then I'll give you end of interview


printinsert_linkshareget_appmore_horiz

Download Options

close
Choose Size
Choose file type
Cite this item close

APA

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.

MLA

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.

CHICAGO

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.

WIKIPEDIA

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.