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Oates, G. J.,
G. J. Oates
h [electronic resource] /
interviewed by Otis R. Anthony and members of the Black History Research Project of Tampa.
Tampa, Fla. :
University of South Florida Tampa Library,
1 sound file (79 min.) :
digital, MPEG4 file +
e 1 transcript (digital, PDF file)
Otis R. Anthony African Americans in Florida oral history project
Other interviewers for the Black History Research Project of Tampa were Fred Beaton, Joyce Dyer, Herbert Jones, and Shirley Smith.
Interview conducted June 7, 1978.
Reverend G. J. Oates, Jr. discusses education, politics, and the importance of religion to African Americans. Oates, a Methodist minister, served on the Tampa Housing Authority in the 1950s and also ran for the Florida Senate in 1974.
Oates, G. J.,
African American clergy
Anthony, Otis R.
Black History Research Project of Tampa.
University of South Florida Libraries.
Florida Studies Center.
Oral History Program.
University of South Florida.
y USF ONLINE ACCESS
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.
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 Identifer: A31 00040 In terviewee: Reverend G J Oates ( G O) Interview by: Fred Be aton (FB) and Shirley Smith (SS) Interview date: June 7, 1978 Interview location: Unknown Transcribed by: Unknown Transcription date: Unknown Interview changes by: Kimberly Nordon Changes date: December 30, 2008 Final Edit by: Mary Beth Isaacson F inal Edit date: February 5, 2009 [Transcriber's Note: Interview starts mid sentence.] Reverend G J Oates : Lakeland, Florida, many years ago. Well, I try to te l l other I been tellin' you when I was born? Well, I was born July the 18th, 1901. My fathe r was a minister. He wasn't at that time, but he might have been, I don't know, he might have been a young minister but he went up in the ministry and had arrived in the ministry. I guess he had an inspiration to go places. And he was one the very fine min isters of Florida, even (inaudible) half of my sister who is going to teach this year in (inaudible) for about twenty five, twenty six twenty five or six years. But I was reared all over Florida, following my father. And I went to (inaudible) school s tarted school and he had a little place (inaudible) did go to school in Dunellon, Florida. And the w e called the grammar department; now I'm i n the lower grade to about the four th, fif th grade. And we went to Jacksonville, and we went to (inaudible) high s chool. And about the 8th grade and finished from Edward Waters College and King High School and went to Clark College in Atlanta and Gam m on Theological Seminary. After finishing I came back to St. Augustine where I'd been called to the ministry when I (An unidentified woman in another room asks him a question.) GO: Ma'am? No, ma'am. That Are you married? Woman : No. GO: Now, you come to interview me? S hirley S mith : (laughs)
2 GO: Huh? SS: Yes. Woman: I don't care if she is. GO: All right. And I went to St. Augustine where I met the young lady that I'm married to now. Now, I'm gonna give you the history of my life. Now, you see, I'm bein' interrupted. Woman: Just say you're married and that's all you have to say. GO: I'm married to Mrs. Aly ce Rufillia Slappy. Woman: I told you I don't want to be in it, hear that? GO: And to us was born one son. See that picture? I've got a picture over there. (looking at photograph) That picture there? Fred Beaton : Right. GO: (inaudible) And he's a graduat e of Howard University in Washington. And the ministry. And the fortunate thing about my life, I do pride, with great interest. I was called or accepted the call to the ministry in St. Augustine, Florida, St. Paul AME [African Methodist Episcopal] Church 1 served as local minister there and was ordained licensed, at that church. Ordained deacon. In the Methodist Church you have steps by which you a n ordained deacon at that church, that gave me the rights to bapti ze and assist in giving communi on. I accepte d two or three churches preparatory to eldership. And I went around to these various churches throughout Jacksonville and the conference returned to St. Augustine where I was ordained Elder. Isn't that something? Married there. Started preaching there received my first license there, ordained Deacon in that church and ordained Elder, in that same That's a piece of history. Went away from that church and stay about twenty years and returned to that church as a pastor of that church. That's real history And having served around the church here, giving yeoman service, many converts have come to the church by my persuasions. I think I've had a very fulfilled ministry. I've always liked to deal with the things civic thing s because I took civics in school And the civic things, in developing our people, other than through the church. Now, the church is a basic. The church is the boat in which we ride, as it were, in experiences. God is the river. So without the river there'd be nothin' to us. Without the b oat there would be nothin' to us. So we have moved forward with that concept. The church is a wonderful institution. I find so many times where our young people and 1 The St. Augustine St. Paul AME. There is also a church with the same name in Tampa.
3 I have to say young people because all of us gotta start young and progress and they go to school and they finish and probably they enter out into fullness of life. And I read so, off times they even sometimes get married. I read this past week this person was born a certain place, attended a certain school and received certain honors, identi fied with this sorority or fraternity, but no church life. And without God we can do nothin'. He wouldn't have been able to get any of those things had it not be for God p r eservin' his life. So God is a basic in every life. And I have been, as I might sa y, one who had been deeply dedicated to religious life. And coming to here to (speaks to unidentified person ) Comin from here I saw the need of the young people and people reaching out in the political life. And I didn't go in because I just had a great yearning to be a political minded and a czar, but I saw that the young people were afraid they're afraid combat with the white people yet they receive the same fundamentals. The s ame academic training. And education is a matter of juggling juggling lette rs, words, sentences, paragraphs s ee what I mean? Juggling. And the one who learns how to jugglin' with the greatest finesse is the greater educated. And so, I found the young people here goin' to school but nobody attempts to go out to better themselve s S o I went out, more or less, to show 'em that I was not afraid. And, having done so, I stood tall in the political arena and in the political arena. And worked hard for [Nick] Nuccio, Mayor Nuccio of this city. And he appointed me to the Housing Aut hori ty. He wanted a commission o n housing in the city of Tampa. The first black appointed to any policy making body in the southeastern part of this country. I had an opportunity to attend many other meetings. I went as far Portland, Oregon representing Tampa Housing Authority. Went to Washington. I went to New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Kentucky, New Orleans, Miami. So, you see, I had a good rise in getting about in representing the people of the city in that particular phase. FB: Okay, Reverend Oates, wha t time did you come to Tampa? What year did you come to Tampa? GO: Well, I can't say any definite time because, see, I had an aunt living here and I used to come here from way back, maybe 1936. Thirty six  FB: Okay. And the year you was appointed to the board? GO: I was hmm. I'd have to get that. I don't know what that It must have been about fifteen or twenty n ow, see, if I'd have had all that out so I could have been able to give to you the year, but I don't remember the year now, but you'll f ind that out. Because you're gonna have to document it. And I served there and because of my serving t here's a picture there of those who served with me and my serving I adjusted myself to inter association with these whites that I made a good record there from which these other blacks could come. Because had I acted in this initial acceptance and presentation and opportunity I could have made it very blightful for black people. But it was very palatable in their serving.
4 And they're still serving till now. And I do rem ember when Mr. [J.L.] Young was there o n the Housing Authority I questioned the i r not having blacks around there in office all the whites around in the office there. And I mentioned Mr. [Howard F.] Harris, whom he took o n there, and made him just like himself and learning all the He soon died and Mr. Harris became the executive director of that institution. Along with that I later decided to run for city council. We had a very good run and had many friends and had many experiences. You learn a great deal when you learn how to inter relate and communicate, as well as, having close association. A lonely person who is lonely or an introvert gets nowhere. You've got to be one who goes out lookin' in search of tryin' to find and makin' a c ontribution to and ain't worried about what people gonna say about you. Gonna talk about you anyhow, don't care what you do ; you be damned if you do and you r e damned if you don't. Later o n I decided to run for state senate. I thought it a fine opportuni ty because And I could show you a book here now where you have all the names of all the people all over the state that are cutting into the pie. For an instance, the governor is elected, but he can make any number of appointments. And the senators can ma ke any number of appointments within his framework, his cabinet within his where he work his office. So I went there and I saw no blacks in all these offices around there. And I thought, now if I could be elected there I could open the opportunity to bla cks and not be narrow and some whites but would give an opportunity to the black people to become developed in the regards finer things of a community operation. FB: Now, this was in the fifties [19 50s ] right? GO: Yeah. FB: Okay. GO: No. No. No, tha t was in the that's been just about four years ago. FB: Four years ago? GO: Yeah, about four year. 'Cause see this is, what you call him, is just now serving out his first turn who was elected. FB: So that was in GO: Yeah, that's [Guy] Spicola. FB: Okay. GO: Spicola. And there's a great need for more black people to become concerned about black people's progress in the world. One reason I do want this to get around o ne reason why we can't maybe because we fight each other so much over small things
5 The white man has all the banks, all the institutions, the trains all kind of operations. We don't have anything but the church. We try to tear that up. We can't seem to cooperate in any particular thing. And that's what we need to learn. Not so much i t isn't enough how much or how long we've been to school and how much we have learned, but how you are going to articulate what you have learned. How you're going to be able to disseminate what you have learned. How you're going to be able to have a mixture a blending. Now, this young lady here, I know, I judge she can cook most of the young people can't 'cause they got to go down to some kind of burger uptown (laughs) But if you cook, you don't just throw somethin' on. You've got to first get your ingre dients : the flour, the bakin' powder, the salt, and other little things put in there. And then blend them. Now, when you put the salt eat all of this matter you knew it was salt when you put it there but find your salt after you've blended. SS: You can't. GO: Can't. So that's what I'm saying. You would with your idiosyncrasies she with hers, mine and the others out there let us bring these togethe r and just put 'em through this w hat you call these things where you with all these juices you put all these blenders, I guess, and put it all through there, and when you get through chopping it up and throw in like that you can't tell which was which. And that's what we need to do. We have to learn that. You think we can't learn that. We fight too much. I don' t know whether it's because the white man succeeded in putting some kind of stimuli in our system that is so different to human progress or not because they were living the same time we were. Weren't no one man, unless he is extremely rich, will be able t o get a business. But they can take five or fifteen and blend themselves, make a c orporation and go forward. We can't do that. So it's There's something they put in when they that cause us not to be able to understand each other. When I was a boy I had tell me, said, "Now you know you said, you know you don't like black people." They're tellin' me I don't like Why I don't I like black people? Now they spread that kind of propaganda and let plenty of people you know get the idea long time we'd fight blac k people. We'd get a little yellow child come in and everybody t hey're pettin' him up and all that kind of and (laughs) not really, but I think that biologically, there's no difference between any male nor any female. All just a like. So one has n o need to try to downgrade the other because you're a male too, or you're a female. See what I mean? And the same symptom that might strike you will strike me because we are the same genetic processes. And, let me see, there's something here that I wanted to refe r to here. And, by the way, this was such a phenomenal thing, I was elected as vice chairman of the Housing Authority. A plaque is in the high rise and in the office there now, with my name o n them, as where I made a contribution here. I served as presidin g elder. Or no, but, by the way, something else I was the first black in this area
6 Unknown W oman : Can you see in here? I took the curtains down to wash them. GO: Umm hmm. Unknown W om a n: You didn't tell me you were gonna have company here today. GO: An d so Unknown Woman: Velma didn't tell me that anybody would be here today and I took those curtains down and washed 'em. (inaudible) What is that? GO: They have your picture when you came in here while ago. Unknown W oman: Oh, you do? GO: And the talk that you made there. Yes, that's right. See Unknown W oman: Now, why you didn't tel l me all of this? GO: Well But see that's the way you interrupt me all the time. See there? And they caught you this time. Unknown W oman: Oh (laughs) C. G. Oates: An d so But I was the first Unknown W oman: Oh This afternoon? GO: Yes, that's right there. That (inaudible). Unknown Woman: Oh GO: I was the first black that you had served as MC in this I don't know of anybody else in this country. I don't know of anybody else. Nat King Cole and G. J. Oates. Nat King Cole. You remember when Nat King Cole was on? Well, he was only black? He was the only black wasn't he? Nat King Cole. The others have come. I served Channel 13 here, presenting, developing talent an d givin' approval to talent that had made enfurtherments to help in progress the first year. And I did it for maybe about nine months. Channel 13. 1 can remember so vividly when I went to the man to speak about blacks getting o n there and he had all kind of evasions and subterfuges and so o n like that a nd excuses. And I told him, "But what we want to do is to make it possible so the black boys and the black girls can be able to speak intelligently to them so they can understand us." And after disc a rding i t went there twice, they disappointed us. That was to discourage us.
7 And I went on further. And o n my first program I remember having a little girl there from the west side of town West Tampa her name was Green. And Professor Stewart was the principal o f the school and I had many, many persons of the high class on n ot the boogie woogie, high class talent make it. Look up. See, you want to Now, I'm not against having a little rhythm, see I'm not against having rhythm, but that shouldn't be the utopia of our rise in civilization. That's secondary. But we make that the main thing. For an instance, if we talk we've got to say "M y man (inaudible), you dig, and (inaudible) did you tell me you say the man you see the man... Well, how can I make it in th e political arena in the legislature, and I'm tryin' to have a bill passed and I say, "Now, you you you hear, say what I mean. Do you understand what I mean? What do you mean? What are you saying? You're not saying anything. See? And so we need to lift the culture of our people. The culture. Now, that mean s not to be the elites like they have in some places, certain people segregate themselves to a point of a great congregating just what they call the "big hats." No. I believe in the w ord "education." Education came from a Latin word, du cor educare which mean to lift out, to help out, to pull out, to bring up. It's in the passive mood. If one is educated it means that he has been helped to help somebody else. But that doesn't seem to be the spirit. As soon as the folk get a little money and a little of this and the other, they pull themselve s aside and let those poor ones over yonder get along the best way they can. And so, hence, we have not been able to make the progress that we might have made and s hould have made. I was appointed presiding elder for many churches over many districts of the Ft. Myers district. I served in that area of the Ft. Pierce district. The Lake City district. The St. Petersburg district. And, just recently, over the East Tam pa district right here at home. And so, you see, I've had a good full life of getting around and giving service. I could just point to any number of people, young people, that I have helped by makin' loans to them and many of them paid back and became my enemies after they got my money. (laughs) SS: Reverend Oates GO: Huh? SS: after you started your political adventure whatever you may call it after you started out politically, how did blacks relate to you? GO: Well, they tried to discourage me. They told me, say, "No, you got to be you know, your life is at stake." And "I wouldn't do it if I were you." And a certain man of great standing of this town told me that, "You're a preacher, you shouldn't be out there in politics. And you'll never make it. And he used his influence to keep me from making it. And he didn't realize that in the days of antiquity, the B ible history, the people were the leaders of the people was the ones who dealt in politics. Now, if you got bad leaders then you had bad operati ons. The king, the priest, the preachers, everybody trying to lift
8 everybody. Now why shouldn't the preacher be out there trying to help to build and mold a so ciety that would tend to uplift? Now heaven is a beautiful place and you've got to be prepared here. You got to get your ticket here if you want to go to New York. You can't go to New York and get your ticket you got to get your ticket here. And so goin' to heaven, you've got to get your ticket here in your conduct and so on. But, now, that conduc t means that you've got to eat, you've got to sleep, you've got to do those things that help to lift the m orale of all the black man. Now, you can stay out there in the woods and you c an love God. But you've got to intermingle with people to lift them. FB : Reverend Oates, what were the conditions of the church, during say, the 40s and the 50s and what effect, if any, did it have o n the masses of the people in Tampa? GO: Well, I think that the church here in the forties [19 40s ] and the fifties [19 50s ] ha d a more definite centralized movement. Some definitiveness in its operation, more so than now. The people seemed to have had a greater impression o r the ch urch made a greater impression o n the people in the early days. And I don't know I don't see why wil l do so but it is. We didn't have as many diversions to attract us then as we have now. But, as I tel l the y oung people many time s and the old too, because I ask 'em hospitals and wherever, about the church. And I say, "Well, how can you not realize God as be in' evil? You looked everything, your job and this and but you turn God down and he is the God is the center of life. Without God we wouldn't have any of this." We're talkin' about science. And I was out an the porch, like, lookin' at the moon and loo kin' at the man flying out there. See now, here that man is out there, flying out there, he doesn't have any air to fly in. He wouldn't be able to fly in a plane if God had not provided for the fundamentals or the materials of that thing and given to him t he mind to put these fabrications together. And yet, we turn God down. But every day we're tellin' him this, we beggin' him, but we don't want to serve him. And this I would beg him. We say audibly or un inaudibly, "Give me this day my daily bread." Now, h e may say it, speakin' it, but he wish it all the time, it's an idea want bread for everyday. H e ll think about God's feedin' him but he doesn't associate with him and therefore these fragmentations come in and divide his mind and he de centralizes the t hought of God and, therefore, he loses contact and touch of God. Now, as compared to now we use a word ambiguity, it can mean anything. Well, that's about the way the church life is now because we do not have a true concept of the church. A true concept and, therefore, it's ambiguous. It can mean it can just any way you turn that's what it can mean. Mean any kind of thing. But nothin' there is no definitiveness to it. And God said, "I am the Lord thy God who broug ht you out of the land of Egypt; thou sh alt have no other Gods before me." But look at all these multiplicity of gods that we puttin', so we don't we lo se God. And so we have come in place now there's nothin' to God ; he's dead. FB: Okay. What were the conditions, say, of the blacks t he masses d uring this time?
9 What I mean conditions, I'm talking about the occupation ; did they support the church? GO: You mean in the fifties [19 50s ] ? Well, the people have always supported the church according to their means. And the poor people are more dedicated they gives Because I remember when I was a little boy people didn't have much money like they have money now. Because at that time I can remember I worked myself for three dollars a week. (laughs) Three dollars a week. And then we got a little job wher e we worked at the where we were gettin' were paid off every two weeks, nine dollars Y eah every two weeks $18.00 a month. Eighteen dollars a month. A good thing back then. That's indescribable to you. That's right. But the people lived. The folk bough t property. And there are many people with property right here now, they bought way years ago. But they had a dedication to God. And God took care of them. He provided for 'em. They bought homes. Way back there. They educated their children. Now compare th at with now. Here we are now a young person finishing high school and gettin' a job teaching more like that basically, around I remember $7,000 ; they get about $9,000 now to start off with in their apprenticeship of the work. And if you pursue your cours e up to a higher degree till you get your doctorate or yeah, master and your doctorate and go in that chosen profession you may get twelve, fifteen, eighteen thousand dollars a year. Hmm? And yet, with all of that money that's being gotten, look like peopl e would appreciate God, but they're the balance of scale is very low in appreciation now with all they get compared to what they received many years ago. FB: Okay, Reverend Oates, have the role of the church changed to a greater extent in, say, the seven ties [19 70s ] and, if so, what ? GO: The membership roll, did you mean? FB: No. I'm talking about the role, the basic role. GO: Role. Oh, yeah, I see what you mean, yeah. Well, now, see ask that question again. Well, see, has the role changed? FB: Yes GO: Yeah well, yes the role has changed. The church now is a more of social than spiritual. It's just a matter just getting together. But folk had a different reason for becoming a member of the church many years ago. They believed in what the B ible sa id, "You must be born again." But there's not much "birth" now. It's just a matter it's a good thing and the people go clean and that give s me a place in society and so o n and he joins the church. FB: Okay, now, w hat was the role of the church o n the com munity problems? GO: In time s past, in the forties [19 40s ] and fifties [19 50s ] the people were concerned
10 about the community problems as they affected even the children. For I can remember when I was a little boy, the people within five or six blocks or a quarter of a mile or a mile were concerned about people in all of that area. And they would give word giving helping hands and so on. They didn't have these nursing homes where the people would discard their relatives. They kept them around there until they died. They seemed to have a they were more closely knitted together from a point of a human concept and humane attitude. But now, it is not so now. And then the people did God, in the life of people, meant something. I remember livin' in Jacksonvi lle and if anybody died it stirred people up ; they were concerned. The young people, I better get into church, I better try to do this. But now death doesn't mean nothin'. The people don't do people come down come from upstairs with a corpse and the fo lk gamblin' there and drinkin' down there and they don't turn around to see what's happenin'. So you see how distraction has come in there. It's not there now. The church Now, the agency of the church is to do all these things that are being done by the United Fund, t he Salvation Army and all these other agencies and club activities. That's the duty of the church. But because what I don't know what has come there. It is slipped joints and all these other agencies But now, in doing what they are doing 70 percent of the end gathering goes to take care of the white collar steer of it, the operation of it. And the agency spends about 30 percent to the needy, if you get my Huh? FB: percent. So you can relate the c hurch as having some influence o n the bl ack community? GO: Well yeah, maybe some, but not as much as it should have. Not as much as it should have. But it has some, but not as much as it should have. And it doesn't weigh as deeply now There are exceptions, now. The exception is some young peop le come to the church and they're very much devoted to the church ; they love the church. And there are two words in my mind now; Christianity and "Churchanity." Christianity are those who follow after Christ, who try the principle of Christ; love, kindness tenderness, mercy, concern. But "Churchanity" is a place where I go and I was born there and it's a beautiful place, I like to go there and my friends go around, but that's about all that it is. A man stays up o n the TV, a Mr. Bunker, and ask about his b eing a Christian. He said, "Sure, I'm a good Christian. Sure, I go there regular, o n Christmas and Easter." You see what I mean? Did you get that? SS: I got it. GO: On Christmas and Easter. What is the upkeep with the church all the other time whether it 's Christmas and Easter. It needs our very touch. I love thy church, oh God. The wall before me stands (inaudible) and graven o n his hand. The church is the center of our life. FB: Okay. What was the position of the church during Jim Crow?
11 GO: Well, we prayed hopin' God would come. And still ev entua lly he did come. But nothin' we could do about it. The man had captivated our mind and we you just couldn't think. The structure of our mind had been destroyed. I remember This word has occurred to me now it doesn't come to me now, but it was I didn't know what that brainwash. Brainwash. I didn't understand exactly what that really meant for The white man had done that to us, brainwashed us. Divided us. But during the war the Japanese war some of these young American whites went over there and they became accustomed to the way they're doing and they went out after that and told this white government said, "they're brainwashing our young people." Were changin' them from what they were to something differe nt. And to be changed it means that we will never be able to harness their minds again. And so that's what is wrong with us we were during Jim Crow days and period we were brainwashed. And we never thought like in the interest of you and me. And I reme mber during this little uprising over here to Sarasota they used to have the meeting at my church. The folks say, "Now we don't want people comin' here, a black o n the outside and white in the center, 'Oreo style'." You see? (laughs) See, the fellow, he wa s black. He couldn't be nothin' else but black, but in his thinkin' he was white. And you go by your thinking. FB: Gettin' back to the political situation GO: Hmm? FB: Gettin' back to the political situation, what were the conditions, say, when you fi rst started running, just for office? And what I mean, "conditions," were you supported di d you receive any type of monetary support from anybody or did you have to do it an your own? GO: No. I had to run o n my own. I couldn't impress And pathetic. This is very pathetic very pathetic. I used to hear people say, those who anticipated venturing out, sayin' "We can get the church to help us." And many times they were not connected with particularly with any church. But they wanted to enhance themselves by the coming from the politicians So I went to the Ministerial Alliance Hmm? I went to the Ministerial Alliance and I told the ministers that the ministers should organize as the leaders of the people, because God made him a leader. I don't care what ki nd of other folk but God made him the leader and deeply concerned of his everything, his coming into the world and then deposit him when he's dead. Goin' to the hospital to visit when he's sick. I said, so, if we would get together and band ourselves and get somebody to run whom we feel that is "spiritual minded" I used that term, "spiritual minded." A "community minded" has a human outlook like Carter's talkin' about now concerned about people. It would make the people have a greater res pect for the chu rch because the preachers are leading the
12 movement for uplift and p rogress. I told the Ministerial Alliance. Well, I figured in doing that that they would certainly use their influence to help foster a movement. And so I announced m aybe that was the reas on why it wasn't done I announced that I was running and didn't a church Which church you a member of? FB: Ty e r Temple [United Methodist Church] GO: What church you a member of? SS: I'm a member of Plant City M oun t Moriah [Baptist Church]. GO: Didn' t a church in town make a contribution toward my aspiration. I say, didn't a church in town. FB: But what was the position of the leaders, the quote/unquote black leaders, during this time toward your campaign? CG: Well, I hate to say this. What we find may times We've heard the old story about the crab you've heard about the c rab? When one tries to group the others may not pull him down because that maybe would be don't stayin' in pull him but they'll knock against you and you'll lo se your hold. SS : ( inaudible) GO: See what I mean? Now, nobody can become offended at that. For I said Now, I didn't say they wanted to pull me down, but they knock against you and you lose your hold when they could give suggestions and advice. And not only that, I set up a committee that would get with me some of the leading people of this town that would get with me. S ince I had taken the forward step they would get with me and their input would help to make fuller the idea of having a candidate fully qualified because he'd be representing we haven't gone yet, but he'd be representing us not in their narrow views, but the broad views and he could decide upon the better thing. We called a meeting at the oh, my gosh, what's this little fellow's name ? U p there across from the Longshoreman's Hall, what's that little meeting place there meet ar ound there? SS: Kid Mason's? GO: Kid Mason's. One outstanding person came that was Dr. Jackson a nd made a contribution. So all the other I'm suffering now. That's the reason my wife i s nervous. You see how nervous she is? She's nervous because I spent all that money around here working to make the condit ions better for my people. And I got no help. So you can see they were not Well, I put it they were not too concerned. I had some of the preachers, one as the treasurer and one as the secretary only 'cause you've got to have them you think they'd served? Well, they could have been fear. I don't know. And then the
13 members s aid, "Why are you with that nut? It might have fear. It might ha ve been that. But I didn't have full cooperation. SS: Do you feel like if we had single member district s here in Tampa blacks would become more equal? GO: That's what I t hat is my contention. And they fought me because I said that. Some of the leading fo lk here said if you would have single districts that's what it is isn't it ? said you'd have that same mob system that they had here years ago. Wards and the whole ward system. But I couldn't see that. No. I couldn't see that because we could do this and we had the single system. There would be some represented black representative, whether he's good or bad. Hmm? Whether he's good or bad you'd have some black representative there. And I'll tell you feel might y proud if you walk in a place and you see a bl ack brother there, you know. See what I mean? Now, I'm not.. I'm not narrow. I'm not narrow. I love white people. And I've helped white people. I love everybody. I really do. But when the fight come o n TV that black boy looks like he's studied why doesn' t he wake up ? See that's somethin' I want that black boy to wake up and (laughs) You see what I mean? SS: Yes. GO: Naturally you'll be concerned about that which is yours. Let us take in the in this integration as it reflects upon the school and the r eligious life of the community. Now, I remember right over there at Plant City and throughout Florida, the little black ch ildren go to school about from two to three months a year. They have to stop and go out and pick berries or work o n the farm or somet hin' or other like that. But the white children are going to school the whole nine months. Well, now then the man didn't care too much about the black. And then psychologically he was holding the black down. The black looked it from the point that he's mak in' some money because he could work three months out of the year. But he's holdin' 'em down. And mentality, intellectuality will never descend to the depths of ignorance. Then after that becom. . Side 1 ends; side 2 begins. GO: Now, if you dislike a person I mean showed a dislike and evil intent in your heart but both of you are promoted to a high place in society and you come together, well, you're not gonna get around him too much to promote him because first place you just don't like him. You don't agree. But when they took these and I one thing, we re responsible for some of the blacks are responsible that they cussed out the black teachers. They weren't doin' this and they weren't doin' that fi rst, weren't they But now, no body loves a black chi ld better than another black person. Now, you say, "He's mean." What, well the whites was mean too. What they But the whites were mean too. But I'll tell you what the black one did T he black one, because he had to live among us, in church and in lodge a nd what he didn't want to have it said where he goes
14 and where he went and would go that he was not doing something to make the black children better. His work because he had to live among those people. And he'd give 'e m the best. He might not have had 'cause they the condition in schools was not as a palatable then as now. They said "equal" this, but they didn't mean that, for we didn't get that. See what I mean? We were separated, but we didn't get "equal." But they would say "Oh but you were gettin' equal ." N ot over here. But they didn't do it either, didn't give it. They gave the better to the whites and they had the good books and the fine accommodation in the school. And the blacks they would bus them going to their schools and negroes walkin' to theirs and so on. He was not concerned then. So when you take 'em now and put them together as such, under the framework in which we operate them same white people go down into the black school. And he ain't particular about the black. And now can't you see it the 75 percent of the black children failed here the other day? SS: Umm hmm. GO: Well, now, he isn't as concerned about the black he is about the white. Now, here's the advantage of the white. We don't get together. I see some little pretty little beautiful little girls right over there. They come home all around there. Just as soon as they get home (s lap) right out to the street, all in the place up there. Well, the white people get together you don't see them when the white people get together an d say, "We must keep our children we must do this and so on. To their clubs and to all that. So when the children come out here to the black school, where the white teacher was, he has a white orientation when he comes here. When he goes back he goes b ack to train people who are going to see that the children are trained. Is that right? SS: That's right. GO: Therefore, the black and the whites down here, we integrated. The white person didn't particularly care about you down there. And then they have this thing now, they write it out. If this white? You've got to tell 'em whether it's white or black. That's the kind of studyin' you do. Would the sun come up at six? Let me see what time did it come up? Six thirty. Now, what kind of studyin' is that? T hey can't read. I have 'em in my church. They can't read. I have one on have my youth day programs. And why the people don't like me for it. I don't care whether he likes me or not. But the child would be better off when they All right, son, read louder so I can hear you. See? And he Then say I said, now, if I'm preachin' the people gonna criticize me if they can't hear me over the church. See what I mean? But (inaudible) Read, speak out louder. And I have them now I want you to come to my church on t he four th Sunday, in next month. I know you're not coming. SS: I am. GO: On the four th Sunday, it's fun. And I get right with 'em. And now I have it to the
15 point now all right ; they come to church they "Speak out loud so he can hear you." They raise t heir voice can almost raise the voice and their reading levels are better. Not as good as I desire for them to read but they're doing a little bit better. Calling the name. Calling the words wrong and all like that. Well, the parents aren't helping thei r black children when they go home. The children, black children, aren't any real help in the school. Right? Therefore, when they graduate you have 75 or 80 percent of the black children failing. But you have a greater point. I just looked the other day th rough the paper, I guess you saw it. We didn't have Where's the wind of the black? We didn't have one valedictorian out of all of those black people. We didn't have one salutatorian out of the Did you see that in the paper? SS: Uh huh. GO: Well, now, i t does look like we would have had somethin' somewhere doesn't it? SS: It does look that way. GO: It does look that way. SS: How do you feel about disruptive schools? GO: Well I'm against the disruptive school because what good would it be? It would be another small reformatory school or a place of a small well, I Let me say a gang, a penitentiary. You put 'em off over there and they're all together, they have nothin' by which they can compare themselves. Only thing I think they should be a deeper c oncern about the parents of the children and the school board to see that certain things are done. So you see what I'm talkin' why couldn't they come here to this i ntegration? Now, I am for integration. I'm not for integration that, say, we're integrate d because a man because we were integrated a long time ago and we go to these meetings. We're integrated. We're sittin' out there (laughs) in the parlor, we've been and the white people are all upstairs and goin' nobody bothers you. We integrated the hotel but we who we t alk to ? T he same black people. I felt that had they done it this way See, I was a small peo n I said it loudly, but there was so much out there they couldn't hear me. Why not take these little children from the first grade see they're not embittered and let them start off from the kindergarten and bring them all that's if the country want to do that. The country doesn't want to do that you know. They just hope that because of circumstantial conditions the other countries around are saying America used this and so they went out with the camouflage. See what I mean? But, see, we aren't getting anywhere with it. But they'd started these small children in twenty five ye ars we'd have had, let us say, two raisings I put it that way two raising of twelfth grade students. That means Let's say you'd have in this country I've forgotten now, I did read that the other day about 30 million. Let's say just put it at 30 million children. Thirty million children startin' from the first from the kinderga rten
16 they come up 30 million. Then you get down here to the second group, probably 30 million ; that'd be 60 million children here who would have a different idea about life because they were little children studied at the same little (inaudible) place. Th ey grew up together and so on. A nd they love each other and so o n like that all of them. But you see what I mean? But when they started up they started up with the higher ups from about the in the eleven th grade and the twelfth grade well, they're alre ady embittere d with racism and all that kind of stuff. And their parents can't get a say, "Don't you take nothin' off them niggers." And the negroes say, "Don't you take nothin' off them crackers." SS: Umm hmm. GO: And you see and it made a bad lookin' p icture. SS: That's right. GO: Yeah, that's what it did. So I didn't care too much for (inaudible) that, but I do think there ought to be some way where we ought to be able to get together. Now we're gettin' together. We integrated said, integrated you now in sport. Yes, we're integrated into sport, but that doesn't mean a thing, we've integrated into sport. Now, that doesn't mean nothing. The man go out there all our folk out there integrated into sport. You've got to pick him out. He won't be there lon g gettin' that money before he's a dope addict. Hmm? SS: That's true. GO: That isn't lifting us. Now, what could help us if the folk were concerned? You had the I've got to use these words, "religiosity that is practiced by our fathers and mothers. The y didn't have anything but they built a good little society where they lived and so on. Now, suppose all these people with all this money that they're makin' would be turned off to self help where would we be? All that money just blown to the piss. Joe Lo uis made millions and millions and when he came down to the finale he was broke. Hmm? So you see unless we are undergirded with what Jesus said we aren't gonna get anywhere. Now you are a member of the New Hope [Baptist Church] you said? FB: Ty e r Tem ple. GO: Ty er Temple. Ty e r Temple. Yeah. You have a pastor ; he and I were in school together Reverend Williams in Atlanta. We were there in Atlanta. I can't yeah, he was (inaudible) then. But, now, what does it mean for us if we don't have the church? Now you're a member Ty e r Temple. Well, you're Methodist and I'm Methodist so far as bein' overshadowed with what we call the same pursuit of doctoring in a measure. Because she's a member of a Baptist church and we have the same (inaudible) with God and all like that. But, now, what does it matter? All of 'em are madhouses, in the purest sense of the wo rd. I said, in the purest sense of the word. I wonder if you understand what I mean. In the purest sense of the word all of 'em are madhouses. Now, what you mean
17 by that? What you You sa y you're a member of whos e church? SS: Mount Moriah GO: Mount Moriah. All right. Mount Moriah has had three or four splits in the church, in Mount Moriah. I know the Mount Moriah Church, the pastor there (inaudible). Somebo dy gets somebody in that church and they can't have his way, he gets mad and do what (slaps his hands) he pull out. Somebody over yonder doesn't so he get mad (slaps his hands) he pull out. Well, you can't split up God's church. But you can s plit up all these kind of things like that. And then you s tart a different thing. I can't have the same thing that went o n in Mount Moriah or in Tyer Temple or in St. Paul. I've got to start a little bit somethin' different. Isn't that right? Because the people lef t that thing up there. But Jesus said, "They who worship me must worship me in spirit and in truth." That's the genuine church. That genuine church ought to meet together because they help each other. The genuine church, spirit of truth. Can you buy truth? Can you se l l truth? Can you buy s pirit, sell spirit? You can't buy it nor sell it, but you can possess it. Ain't that right? You can possess it. Hmm? Now, that's the church. SS: Do you think the church if the preachers would start, you know, talkin' to t he black people, gettin' 'em more aware, in the political sense, th at this would somehow eliminate y ou know, a response to goin' out and votin' and stickin' together electing black officials? GO: Well, yes I think the s ee, the I'm trying to say now, we don't want to get racism in there. See? But I think if the white If a black minister would show in there that you were training that's in a broad perspective were training these black people to fit into this arena then we must encourage them. See, becaus e we re in a state of what we in the third world, we re not yet developed, or that's what they say, so we must encourage it. In that respect we would be pushing our own. But when I get out there and see like the white people do, organized the white the b lacks are organized against them, then we many people think the same thing you do, racism. Don't you think so? But then we would try to prepare our folks so they could be as deeply entrenched in politics and right and so on, and in community interests as t he other man. Then you get who? The better man. But now, listen, when you say that my dear, now, what you say, got to watch this now b ut if I'm gonna push a black man h e's not prepared but he's black, I'm gonna push him. Well, now you're gonna make things worse w hen he get in office. See what I mean? SS: That's true. GO: Yeah. See what I mean? And so I think we prepare this thing, so he would stand out We have some men right now who stand high in the world. [Senator Edward] Brooke, for a n instance. But even at Brook e The other day I felt badly about him, from Massachusetts n ow that's a small black neighborhood, as it were, so far as the state is
18 concerned. So the people who elected him, in the main, were bright were white people. And the black yeah, he run in Massachusetts. Now, the other day here he's come out with a little somethin' or other and make a black spot o n him. Now, he is w hat you call a light skinned black man. A light skinned black man. Now, he's fair of color, but his origin is black. Hm m? So he's a light skinned, black man. Well, now, since he's a light skinned, black man when he goes up there. And you read about pro tem or somethin' up there. Then he came around and s aid, "Well, I made a mistake because I was havin' conflict." But that' s against his record in the Congress. Hmm? And, therefore, he represent whom? The black people. See? So what we want You want to prepare the people so they will be outstanding and stoop for a nickel or little dope or a little somethin' like that, but st and for a principle. In the church I'm gonna tell you because you're young people, it has gotten to the place now where there's a price almost for everything. A price. And in some places and phases there's a price in the ministry, like this, you'll find. A nd then I know your people and you're a good speaker and you (inaudible) and I can sort of use you too, you know, see and you won't get out of control. You give me three or four hundred dollars and I'll put Reverend Johnson out of commission up there at th e church (inaudible). I put him out of commission and I'll ease in another little fellow over here. Now, that wasn't God's but personal gain. See what I mean? That's what we have come to in every phase (inaudible). But we've got to have some men who say I will not stoop. I go o n a principle basis. Now I serve as presiding elder in your church, as superintendent. In your church as missionary. In my church as presiding elder. The y' re all the same thing, but different names. SS: Umm hmm. GO: Same function And I've had men say, "Reverend if you get me the I'll take care of you, fifteen hundred dollars." I said, "W ell, I appreciate your thinkin' of me but I'll keep you under observation. I don't know if (inaudible) you know. I never have bought a church in my life. I've never sold a church to somebody in faith. You're married. And now you're not Look here. You're not liked by everybody when you do that. But I'll tell what'll happen. I'm livin' witness. If you take a stand then God will take care of you. You'll be strengthened in mind, strengthened in body, fearless to speak. But if you've done all kind of other you're afraid to speak out because you're gonna Huh? FB: That's right. Fearless to speak. GO: You should hear you sing, don't you? I guess you (laughs) you sing. I had a preacher ; one of our outstanding ministers was preaching and as he preached he said h e had all his children coming home and going to church A nd so the elder went to this minister's church he's more or less what you call the or thodox and he said, "Man y ou dragged 'em out this morning, you were way out there. Man, let me tell you, you in need, you understand, all that kind of stuff like that. And so he didn't know what they're talkin'
19 about so he said, "Man, you're crazy." (la ughs) He said you have all this new talk and while did you reach same The same thing that I spoke about in training t he children and so o n it's been a good many years that I've say that. My people fought me. "Don't say the black children." I said, "No, I have to say the black children." The black children in my church and in yours t oo, and in all of 'em. I have twenty two college graduates and I can't ge t one to put himself or herself o n the alter in teaching the young people in the church. How many ha ve you got in church who will go and I mean, the college graduates FB: In (inaudible) you mean? GO: Yeah. How many of your sisters, the college graduates who'd put themselves out there You find one every now and but, I mean, I've got twenty two in my c hurch and I try the person, "Why don't you take charge of this class in Sunday School?" "Reverend, I think One lady had had a brain condition and I thought after we prayed with her and the Lord blessed her with that brain condition she'd come to the chur ch. And I told her, I said, "Now, the Lord blessed you better come." Now, there should be the ones who are so obsessed with the lifting of the people that they'd be there to giving their lives 'cause they didn't have to be able to finish school, because th ey could have been born blind (inaudible) like that. What that Brad? What is that thing he got dystrophy. Anything like that. But God blessed you. My God I owe my life to him because he's been so good to me. SS: How do you feel about tent revivals? GO: Hmm? SS: How do you feel about tent revivals? GO: Well, I think if it 's properly carried out I mean, when I say I'm not I mean a tent revival. I don't think we should dare say just go our tent revivals all around like that. But, a tent revival, if it's carried out properly I can't see anything wrong with it well organized, proper objective For all of these churches, all of them I mean, not all because some of 'em people bought some after they got but, basically, many years ago all of them start from w hat you'd call a little camp meetings and gett in' the people together and so o n like that. And they eventually developed more and more. If their intent was good it's a But I don't care anything about these things that people goin' a round highly flim flam m ing people in the name because you have that in the name of the Jesus and there's no Jesus there, you know. You see, but now you have that in every facet of endeavor. There are some doctors that are crooks. You believe that s ir? FB: Yes. GO: Yeah, some doctors who are crooks. Defend But they're crooks. There are some lawyers who are crooks. There are some preachers who are crooks. Well, let's see how
20 anybody say "Prea yeah, but all are not." There were four men who were traveling o n this way ; they w ere all dressed alike, had the preacher's garb, they all moved their hands alike and so on. And they were talking similar to each other. They all were the same. But, to God, there was a difference. And he spoke and he said, "Satan, where you goin'?" "Up and down, to and fro seekin' what I can devour." Do you get that? But he is right along there with that crowd. Whether they're doctors or they're lawyers, whether you see that up there in the administration we taught us the other day, get education. Wel l, we didn't have a better educated group of people in this nation brought together than when we had Nixon's crew there did we? You didn't seem them know that thing about the program where them young people up there just stealin' money ? They were a fter th ey had the Watergate SS: Umm hmm. CG: See? So it isn't that. It's havin' that center thought within the man. I preach this sometimes refer to it now, even in my yard out there. Everything comes out of yourself. Everything comes out of yourself. And I s ay, now, here is a rose, you put it down there a little something down there. It's nothing. And you grow that little stem when you And after a while you'll see a little bud o n it, it' ll shoot out and have or you see some beautiful leaves come out. You re hopeful then. After a while here comes a little bud. Oh, my. Oh, this bud is beautiful. Opens up. Oh, my! The fragrance. All comes out of that same thing. Everything good comes out of the individual. Everything bad comes out of the individual. So if the center is right here everything that comes out'll be good. If it isn't it ll be bad. And then sometimes See the devil is so shrewd. God do esn't change. God's the s ame yesterday, today, and forever. But, now, the devil got he's psychedelically changing. If he can't get you then he puts something else over here. SS: That's the truth. GO: Did I say that right? And I preach this picking at the soft heart of your life. Picking at the soft part Now, the devil knows where the soft part is. And wherever it is, whether it's in being inebriated, or sex, or theft, or hypocrisy he knows where it is and that's where he ll play right around there. And then if you try to stand up he stand you but he' ll show you somethin' and take your mind off of that and put it o n something else. 'Cause this has happened to me, in the ministry. I went to school, prepared myself for the ministry, came out of a Christian home. My father was a minister, my great grandfather was a minister, and my mother's a good Christian woman, a nd the people ar ound me are Christians, my aunt and so on. And so that was within me, embedded within me. But after I got out and meaning to do right, and here I just was workin' and strugglin' and
21 strugglin' look like I'm not having any success. But I loo ked right over at that fellow's field over yonder and he's doin' everything. And, boy, his corn, as it were or okra, as it were just flourishin', the man just flourish out there and I'm wondering what's he doin' to make his grow better. Better try some of that too to make mine grow. That's the weakness. See the devil tryin' to make you do what You don't know what that man doin' to make his grow. In St. Augustine there's a boy came along with us and many others, they were dressed all the time. My, they w ere dressed. Dress heavy. Wasn't anything there. Well, now, they were stealin'. They went to them place and sellin' the people's furniture and all that stuff. Bit one day it came to an end, then they was embarrassed in it. Then I was glad that I didn't hav e a part of that. You see what I mean? You've got to have that thing that says I will not, I'll just stand here and wait o n the Lord. SS: Umm hmm. GO: I'll wait o n the Lord. Well, did you hear you say Jefferson the other night? Not Jefferson. Yes, Jef ferson. Did you see that? This lady played the clerk. SS: Uh huh. GO: That was a beautiful thing. SS: Yes. GO: She knew God would help her. Oh, she knew God would help her and she brought it in. Oh, God gonna help me. And she'd go in there and the w ords would agitate her. And go through But in the last minute when they were fixin' to kill her somebody came in and prevented the killing. She's, "Oh, God, I knew you were comin' ; why'd you take so long to come." I knew you were comin' (laughs) But she said, "Why'd you take so long to come?" He's comin'. He may not come every time you call him, but he is there when you need him most. SS: He knows your every need GO: He meets your every (inaudible). I had an experience ; as you remember I've been drivi ng for over forty years, and I never and I'm a pretty good driver, I've driven all over this country but they s pendin' all these little things happened right here in town. Somebody run into you like that. Well, I don't want to be in court, don't want to b e bothered like that. And then the white man who said get out of here and go on. And so if the white man or the white woman, or whoever it is, they're white, when they go to court it's gonna be the same thing. But you're there so I just (inaudible). So I had three of these altercations wrecks went over there on Cypress [Street] and Armenia [Avenue] truck came by and ran into the side of my car and took all the what you call it ? striping off of the i s that what you call it, striping? a nd that When it
22 w as over I was wrong. I was o n the highway where the sign going like that. And the car going you know, you go through a little bit and another one go through. They went through and so this bus went through and this car and then I wen t, and this woman hit m e o n the side back here. I was wrong. And so But, I guess I did wrong here, but, you know, you think the law that's the woman give you the right (inaudible). And o n them cards up there w avin' this woman out there. One of them tell me I'll put my opinion up for you like that. And then I said, I 'd better get away before them crackers come out here and jump o n me and kill me here and they said they didn't. So I drove o n away. Well, I was wrong, according to the law, to do that. I just drove o n away from the man and left him there. So they gave me a suspended sentence. And my wife was drivin' me all around this month, from the first of May until the first of June ; s he ll be glad when (inaudible) over and I will too. But I was with a little white fellow; wa s in the car, a policeman, and I didn't know where to go to take these lessons. I'm takin' lessons. And I asked him I got to talkin' with him and he said, irreverent, you know, "S ometimes we don't know ; God intervenes." Well, and this was a young white fel low, t hat was a surprising thing. See what God prepared for me? And I said, "T hat's right, for he said that the Lord does good to those who serve him. That isn't the proper quotation. But whatever; if you servin' him whatever comes to you it is for good. Whatever comes to you it is for good. You can't see it, but it's for good. And I said, yes, that's true. And I felt uplifted to hear this young man sayin' that. Because I was rather reluctant. So I went o n out to the school and gettin' there they brou ght up in this teaching and so on, but the psychology that theoretical psychology that I had in some of the practice I could see there and I could see myself and the way they depicted because the paren t, the influence of the parent o n th e child, it makes him act or react. The influence o n the adult as we act and incurrent o n the childishness. And we sit here now, and I've done some of those same things. Whoa. Why do you that (inaudible) when I should be, what? Have sanity and so on. I said, "N ow Lord, I' ve done something (inaudible)." But I've learned a great deal of course he didn't know ; there was probably something that was up there because you get to the place. I know it. SS: Umm hmm. GO: I know it. (laughs) You see. And thoughtlessly. And, what the Lord did is stop me here because something's up there and by doin' it that deferred it. The thing probably was there, but I was not there. And I told my wife the other day, I said, "Y ou know what I mean, I believe in him, going to Jacksonville later I' ve got to get there. I ought to be there about this time. See what I mean? And I'm tryin' to get there that time too. So I told her, "N ow, Atlanta will be the same distance whether I hurry to get there or if I take my time to get there. SS: Umm hmm.
23 GO: I said, from now o n I'm goin' take my time. See how the Lord was workin' through me? SS: Umm hmm. GO: Take my time. And he's runnin'. And many times I've run up to the g oin' to hit somebody and they'll get up to the light and have to wait there unti l that car come up there and catch up with him. ( s laps hands ) I could have taken my time just like they did. SS: That's the truth. GO: Yeah, so that's So that was a great lesson to me. And so I said, so I'm servin' my sentence, but I'm doin' it with gr eat joy since I went out and found out I saw somethin' the other night. H ere's a fellow, he's a nice lookin' cop, he has a little truck goin' hit him (inaudible) but a And there's the car comin' th e man in the truck said, "Come on out ; come o n around." And he out there, go on (inaudible) let em stand c omin' up there now You see what I mean? Huh? Now, wonder what he should exercise common sense. That truck gonna pass that car af ter a while and then you can go o n around and you save your tension and a ll that kind of stuff. FB: That's right. GO: Hmm? (laughs) FB: Reverend Oates, you're gonna have to be gettin' back through GO: Well, now, I hope What you gonna do now? We said a whole lot of thing s there now. Now, don't do like end of interview