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Grace Casamayor


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Grace Casamayor
Series Title:
Otis R. Anthony African Americans in Florida oral history project
Physical Description:
1 sound file (76 min.) : digital, MPEG4 file + ;
Casamayor, Grace
Rodriguez, Cheryl Rene, 1952-
Greenbaum, Susan D
University of South Florida Libraries -- Florida Studies Center. -- Oral History Program
University of South Florida -- Tampa Library
University of South Florida Tampa Library
Place of Publication:
Tampa, Fla
Publication Date:


Subjects / Keywords:
African American business enterprises -- Florida -- Tampa   ( lcsh )
African Americans -- Florida   ( lcsh )
African Americans -- History -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Oral history   ( local )
Online audio   ( local )
Oral history.   ( local )
Online audio.   ( local )
interview   ( marcgt )


Grace Casamayor discusses Central Avenue and the Central Life Insurance Company, an African American insurance agency where she used to work.
Interview conducted July 28, 1994.
Statement of Responsibility:
interviewed by Cheryl Rodriguez and Susan Greenbaum.

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University of South Florida Library
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University of South Florida
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All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
aleph - 020799071
oclc - 436084547
usfldc doi - A31-00068
usfldc handle - a31.68
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Casamayor, Grace.
Grace Casamayor
h [electronic resource] /
interviewed by Cheryl Rodriguez and Susan Greenbaum.
Tampa, Fla. :
University of South Florida Tampa Library,
1 sound file (76 min.) :
digital, MPEG4 file +
e 1 transcript (digital, PDF file)
Otis R. Anthony African Americans in Florida oral history project
Interview conducted July 28, 1994.
Grace Casamayor discusses Central Avenue and the Central Life Insurance Company, an African American insurance agency where she used to work.
Casamayor, Grace.
African American business enterprises
z Florida
African Americans
African Americans
x History.
7 655
Oral history.
2 local
Online audio.
Rodriguez, Cheryl Rene,
d 1952-
Greenbaum, Susan D.
University of South Florida Libraries.
Florida Studies Center.
Oral History Program.
University of South Florida.
Tampa Library.
4 856


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 Identifier: A31 00068 Interviewee: Grace Casamayor (GC) Interviewer s : Cheryl Rodri guez (CR) S usan Greenbaum (SG) Interview Date: July 28, 1994 Interview Location: Unknown Transcribed b y: Arlen Bensen Transcription d ate: March 16, 2009 Audit Edit by : Maria Kreiser Audit Edit d ate: March 20, 2009 Final Edit by: Mary Beth Isaacso n Final Edit date: March 31, 2009 Cheryl Rodriguez : This is July 28, 1994 interview with Grace Casamayor by Cheryl Rodriguez and Susan Greenbaum. I was looking back over the interview that we did many years ago and there were a few things that were o n there that I could sort of pull together for this. And you said that after you got out of high school you went to work for St. Peter Claver [Church] as a church secretary for a while? Grace Casamayor : Well, I went to work for the pastor Father (inaudib le). Tha t's right after I graduated. H e wanted me to type all the sermons so when he left he wouldn't have to be bothered. And Susan Greenbaum : ( i naudible) two dollars a week (inaudible). GC : (laughs) CR: But you went to you also worked for the welfar e you were a secretary at welfare? GC: Yes. And while I wa s working for Father Connell he was (inaudible) and from the conversation he says, "Seems like they're talking about me, and the name of the during that time they had visitors and it was Maceo Gr iffin And at that time they were called the (inaudible). We used to call them visitors. And it was during the segregation was very strong. And they had three color ed visitors. There was Emma Mance a nd Herbert Green and Maceo Griffin And they needed a s tenographer to work for the three colored So he went to Middleton [High School] to check the records of the people who had finished business course, and he started checking. So he called Father Connell And in the conversation, and to make a long story short, well, they called me to go. They told me they needed they needed a (inaudible). And I


2 went and I was approved and I started working for the colored. District 7 during that time it was District 7 (inaudible). And then the visitors they were under tw o supervi sors. Mr. Green and Miss Mance were under one and they (inaudible) with us under another. And they had the district director then. And they had to do with old age assistance, people who were Catholic old age assistance, and the blind. CR : Did they have a different rate that they gave? Was there a segregated benefit? GC: Well, I cannot answer that. But I do know that, at that time I don't know if in this particular there was, but during that time I'm getting off. But to get back to the point, t he teachers were getting a different rate. CR : Right. Right. GC: Because I was making more I started there making seventy dollars a month and at that time the teachers were getting paid around forty something a month. CR: Wow. GC: And I started there on October 20, 1938. And in April, that they did it was during Governor [Fred P.] Cone' s administration, when someone said that was too much money to be paying a N egro whatever word they were using then. (All laugh) It was too much money. So what they did, they let all the coloreds go, the three visitors and myself, and they let some of the white go. But Miss Mance told me that some friend of hers who was a supervisor, one of the supervisors there, told her that after they let all of us go, and the whites, they rehired the whites. ( murmuring from CR and SG ). Isn't that terrible? Yes. CR : That is terrible. SG : But then what happened to the people who needed those (inaudible) ? GC: Oh, they would use the white visitors. I'm assuming they use the white visi tors yo u mean to get their assistance? They will use that. They understand it and they say it was too much money they're paying. I'm telling you what the teachers were getting. Because are you going to get a chance to meet Mr. Davis? Edward Lee Davis? C R: Yeah, I wanted to ask you about him. GC: Yes. Now he was the president of Central Life [Insurance Company]; he was one of the presidents. In fact, I started working (inaudible) secretary and after that they made me administrative assistant. And then he SG: What year was that when you started at Central Life? Do you remember?


3 GC: Yes. October 20 1938. CR: So it was the same year you started at the welfare board? You didn't work for the welfare board? GC: Wait. Wait now. The welfare board was Oct ober twentieth. CR: Okay. GC: Nineteen I went in 1939. SG: Okay. CR: Plus you worked for the Urban League for a little while, didn't you? GC: Hm? Oh, and the Urban League I was working for the home demonstration agent. Let me recheck those dates be cause my mind is not what it used to be. But I had October 20 1938 let's see. I gra duated in 1937. So I evidently I started there make yourself comfortable. CR: Just r earranging. (All laugh) GC: ( i naudible). Yeah. Let me check that. Because I have CR : Don't worry about it, I mean it 's approximately GC: Yeah. SG: Approximate a time. GC: Well, anyway, after they let me go from the welfare board, then I started working for the home demonstration agent whose office was in the Urban League. So Estelle Jenkins, who worked at the Urban League, she told me, she said, Honey, as fast as you type you gonna stay here?" I said, "Well, I don't know what else to do." She said, "Have you ma de an application at downstairs ?" I said, "No, ma'am. I thought it was just for domestic work." (Inaudible) domestic work and I told her, "Well, with m y (inaudible) salary downstairs And Miss Green her husband worked for the head of the Urban League at the time ; he died and she was working until they found someone to fill his place. So she said, "I'll tell you w hat I'm going to do. I'll start calling the insurance office." That's how I got to Central Life.


4 CR : So, it was actually the Urban League was kind of an employment referral. GC: Yeah, this lady, Miss Griff in, who was the one and she told me to go do wnstairs and see Miss Green. So Miss Green called. CR: Was that Ellen Green? GC: No. Ellen Green that's my ex coworker. Yeah. Ellen Green. No, this was Estelle, Estelle Jenkins and Miss Green was the widow of the Cyrus T. Green. Cyrus T. Green. I think they have something they must CR: They have the pool the, um GC: Yeah, well, his wife. CR: the pool over there. GC: His wife. She came and stayed there until they found someone to fill his place. And then she started calling and she called me and told me they wanted she was going to call me, they called me, and said something like to come over, t hey wanted me to take a test because the secretary (inaudible) CR : I can, uh SG: Can t urn it off. pause in recording GC: But, I don't know what happened. CR: Well, what's why is he interesting? Boston? Central Life? If he's Later, when GC: He was secretary when I st arted working at Central Life. H e was secretary treasurer. And his secretary was out ill an d they needed someone, so then, I went to work in her place. So when the secretary returned, in before that, Atlanta Life had call ed. And Mr. (inaudible ) was the (inaudible), Nichola s (inaudible) he was a general manager and, so, he said that these people had called, would I be interested in continuing to work for them? I said y es. I didn't mind. And after (inaudible) and the secretary came, they kept me. So they sent me in the other part where I was a (inaudible) So I started as a substitute secretary, t hen I started as a clerk typist, and I re tired as secretary treasurer. (s ound of vehicles passing) Forty five years. CR: Wow. So you saw a lot of changes in Central Life. GC: Yeah.


5 CR: When it first got started, and that was long before you actually got involved GC: Oh, yes. CR: with it, but it was down on Central Avenue. I mean, that was where their first building was there in the Kid Mason Center GC: There's I mean, it's not right on Central [Avenue], it's right off, but SG: b ut in that same area. GC: Yes. Yes. CR: How much associated was it named after Central Avenue? Was that I mean, I think it was, actually. But did people associate it with Central Avenue? GC: I really don't know. Because they used to have, I think on Central I think there was Central Life Investors I can't remember exactly SG: It could have been a coincidence. CR: I think I read someplace that that was why they named it Central but I didn't know how GC: That what was named Central? CR: that they named Central Life after Central Avenue. GC: After oh, okay. That I don't I don't know. CR: But, uh, one of the things that, when I was reading over your (inaudible) most of what we had talked about before was really about [Sociedad la Union] Mart ’ Mac eo and growing up in the Cuban community, but you grew up at a time when relations with Americans were mu ch more, uh, frequent, and the D epression took a lot of Cubans out of here, so the community was sort of in a different stage. GC: Yes. During the D epr ession, that's when, I guess, jobs were (inaudible). They left here going to New York. Some went to Philadelphia and some went to New York. And they would travel most of this travel was through the county (inaudible). CR: So, that left the Mart ’ Maceo people, and espe cially second generation people, more likely to get to know Americans than they had GC: That's right.


6 CR: and more involved in things particularly thi ngs that were of importance to b lack Americans like the eq ualization and Urban League and the NAACP [National Association for the Advancement of Colored People] and things like that. Could you talk a little bit about that and about Central Avenue and what possible part that played in the two groups of getting together and getting to know each other? G C: Well CR: I mean, you were telling me before that you weren't really allowed to go very many places on Central Avenue. GC: Well, no, no, we didn't go the parts that I know about of Central I know from my first marriage. But, no, they didn't let us go into the theater, either. In fact, we (inaudible) theater, that was in Ybor City, and we would go to the theater and when we got out someone was right there on the corner waiting for us. CR: Was that more cause yo u were a girl, you think? Were the GC: I think it was because we were girls but what's so I don't know what to say. It was not even two blocks from our house. CR: I know. It was close. GC: Yes, which it didn't make sense. Sometimes CR: But there were Cubans down there who were starting bus inesses and things like that (inaudible). I guess that was later. GC: Most of the ones, I mean, you mean (inaudible)? CR: Right, the GC: (i naudible) 'Cause they used to have Wimpey's place We couldn't go there. CR: Which place is this? GC: Wimpey' s [Wimpey's Bar B Q] CR: Wimpey's (Laughs) Was that the name of a bar, or ? GC: ( i naudible) I think it was right there on Maryland and Seventh Avenue. SG: Oh, that was in Ybor City. GC: Yeah, in Ybor City. Who you talking about (inaudible)?


7 SG: (i na udible) GC: Oh. Oh, no, no. We weren't allowed at the door And, in fact, when we went to the theater like that, we would go with someone. We weren't allowed to SG : You weren't allowed to go on Central? GC: Oh, no. SG : What were you told, the reason that you couldn't go on Central? GC: I don' t know, but (inaudible) (sound of large vehicle passing). The only place we went on Central was the Palace Theater the Palace (inaudible) (sound of bumping microphone) SG : The Palace (inaudible) was the only pla ce you could go? GC: Yeah. SG : Because they were (inaudible) GC: And, then, when I went there because of a friend my friend's mother took us, 'cause we were friends since we were f our or five years old, and on her birthday she would take us to the Pal ace to a for the whatchya call it? (i naudible) or whatever the SG : Matinee? GC: Yeah. CR: There was also, like, the Rogers Dining Room GC: Yeah, and, uh well, I was I was wrong, then, and I u sed to go and have breakfast at Rogers Dining Room. Well, the first time I was living on Lamont [ Pl ace ]. CR: This is when you were married for the first time? GC: Yes. Mm hm. CR: And your husband was American at that time? GC: Yes. CR: So did you go to Central Avenue with him, or ?


8 GC: Oh. Yes. In fact, du ring that time, we were working at Central Life here and we would walk and we would go through Central because it was shorter (inaudible), and we would go through Central. (l aughs) SG: M m hm. So you were grown and married then and you could do this? GC: That was bef we were I was an adu l t W e were grown but I wasn't married then B ut I was working at Central Life. Estelle Esthers I think you heard of Matthew Esthers ? A nd he was the principal of the school up at F AM U. [Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University]. The high school? F AMU High School? CR: Uh huh. Yeah. GC: Yes. Well, this is his sister. CR: Oh. You were friends with his sister. GC: Oh, yeah. That's the one the mother that's the one that took us to the Palace, the y es. SG : Did, um s o, you say that you didn't go there, but did other Cubans go there? GC: Where? SG : To Central, that you knew of? GC: Not during our gener ation, when we were coming up, n ot then. SG : Why was that? GC: I don't know. I don't know because the Americans an d Cubans it was still and this was the dividing line. You see, in the other case, we lived at the beginning of Ybor City and we lived on Seventh Avenue and al l the neighbors o n the back of us, they were Americans, colored Americans, every color (laughs). A nd, then, on the front, across the street, we had the Italians, the Spanish, we had th em; then on further down we had the Jews. That other side of the street, it was a conglomeration of nationalities. They had Italians, they had (inaudible), which was a Je w. Then on the corner there were Italians and then it was the Spanish, then another one, and then on the other s ide, they were colored American and it was all the kosher markets were over th ere during that time. There was kosher markets. And then, I think I forgot what other nationality t he other men were, but it was a combination that CR: So it was all mixed up, anyways. GC: Yes.


9 CR: Yeah. But now GC: and if you went further into Ybor City, you would find a conglomeration of Cubans, I talians, a nd during that time it was just like brothers and sist ers, at that time. "So and so, do you have some sugar? Will you give me some sugar?" Things like that. Later on it wasn't the same. When I was CR: So, it changed later on? GC: Yeah. When I was coming up you still had several friends but as far as us going on (inaudible), and we went to the movies because someone took us, ride the bus, but just to go on our own CR: You didn't go to the movies on Central? GC: No. CR: No, the GC: When we were coming up? CR: (inaudible) Mm hm. GC: No. CR: No? GC: But then they were gonna go put the Plaza Theater. CR: In Ybor City. GC: Yes. CR: Okay. GC: And they let us go in there (inaudible) but I tell you (inaudible). (All laugh) CR: You were talking abou t Ed Davis and I'd like to know more about him and GC: Oh, Edward Lee Davis. He was a savior for the teachers. He lost his job but he was trying to get equalization of pay and he told me he ha d another friend that they left here, named (inaudible) Grif fin I forget the other. They left, but he stayed. So, what they did with him at that time he was president of Lomax Elementary School which was, I understand the biggest school for colored.


10 So, when he started this fight about it, like I was telling you that the colored would get so much and the white would get more, and that's when I found out that, when I was getting the (inaudible) dollars, teachers were making forty (sound of something hitting microphone) something. So, of course, that didn't last l ong because I started in October and in April they let us go. I still want I'm going to hunt for that stuff and I'm going to make copies and give you that copy of that (inaudible). I have all that stuff. SG : You saved it? GC: Oh, yeah. I saved all of that. CR : So, did they explain why it was they were letting you go? GC: No. (l aughs). They didn't have to. (all laugh) I may look for it tonight. CR: So, he didn't work for he had been a teacher before he GC: Oh, yes (inaudible). They I told you, they let him go, so the this isn't this CR: (inaudible) GC: this is the way they did. They transferred him from Lomax to a small school in Sulphur Springs. See, they couldn't fire him because he had tenure. So he took it, but then he left here and he moved to Ocala, and in Ocala he started the same thing. That's when these other fellas joined him. And what they did, I don't know if they fired them or what, but it was there in Ocala that he left the teaching profession and he started his business with real e state and, um, (inaudible). And I think that's how he made his dough. CR: Bu t then, how did he get into Central Life, and he was president of Central Life? GC: Al l right. So, then, he was a stockholder way back there (inaudible) started as a stockholde r of (inaudible). So, he was a stockholder of Central Life and anybody who was a stockholder, they could be elected to the board of directors, then, and you could be electe d for president, and it was Central Life i s a long story. I think oh, he came to Ce ntral Life, not as the president. He came as secretary treasurer because then he did a lot of advancing after Mr. Rogers died. CR: Was Mr. Rogers president when you first started or was was Ed Davis already president when you started? GC: No. Ed Davis came after Mr. Rogers and Ed Davis came after Mr. Martin. That was in the later years. Mr. Martin was president and Mr. Davis was secretary treasurer and after Mr. Martin decided not to run that's when Mr. Davis became the president and the Douglas (inau dible) as secretary treasurer.


11 CR: Was there a kind of a sense among the directors of Central Life that what Ed Davis had gone through was something that they supported? Were they interested, in any kind of direct way, in breaking down barriers and helpi ng to fight those kinds of injustices? There's something that I've read about Central Life where they hired people teachers who were fired during the strike GC: Maybe so. CR: which is an unusual thing for a company to do because a company is usually just concerned with profit. GC: The thing that Mr. Rogers was he was a good hearted person so it could be, but I don't CR: But there wasn't anything like that that you remember? GC: but I don't no. CR: Um, Mary McLeod Bethune had an involvement with Central Life. How much do you know about that? GC: A l l right. Mr. Rogers died. After Mr. Rogers died (sounds of something striking microphone) Miss [Mary McLeod] Bethune was vice president which meant, automatically, she became the president and Miss (i naudible) Martin, he worked he was under Mr. Rogers administration, but he left the company. So after Mr. Rogers died, and Miss Bethune was made president Miss Bethune wa s an educator. She was not an (inaudible). So she decided that she need ed an administr ative assistant someone. So, evidently, somebody recommended Mr. Martin who had worked there before, and Mr. Martin came to work for Central Life as to me he was more like a n adviser, that's the way I look at it, to Mrs. Bethune. But politics, to me, somet imes, I fee l that politics can be dirty. (l aughs) (inaudible) CR : Do you want me to turn it off again? pause in recording SG: Now we're back on the air. CR: H ow did Central Life become so successful? And then, what caused it to lose that, that success? I mean, there was it was formed in, like, twenty two [1922] or something? GC: April 22, 1922. CR: And then, within some period of years there were branches all over Florida GC: Yes.


12 CR: and GC: Thirteen. At that time we had thirteen branches a nd sometime we had this office under all the district offices. We had Bradenton, Daytona Beach and Fort Lauderdale and Miami, at one time, were together. Then they separated, because, you know, they were growing. And, I think I don't know if the downfall was some of the presidents that were trying to do something and they came of age and they retired. But years ago you could not a colored agent, they couldn't sell life insurance to whites. And CR: So it was a Jim Crow market until ? GC: I think that's rea lly down you know, when they came and said that everybody could sell to everybody, I think that's whe n it came. And, see, this was a small company and you couldn't compete with Metropolitan [Life Insurance Company] and all of those CR: What did the econ omics ? GC: agents come and they offered you this and you'd go ahead and get it. Now, if you a small company, you don't have that particular policy. CR: Right. Yeah. GC: See, where you can get this policy can do this and you can borrow that and all of that. So, we were limited. SG: Was there anything in particular that you can think of that made it as successful as it was in the black communities all over Florida? GC: Let's see, going back to this, also, that tell you this, before it gets away from me Central Life was instrumental Central SG: Central Park Village? GC: Yes. T hey were instrumental in he lping people buy homes there. (s ound of something hitting the microphone) The white banks, they were not giving any money to the colored for their hom es. CR: Okay. GC: So, Paul Smith Smith Construction Company they came to Central Life and they agreed that Central L ife would take the mortgage. So whenever someone wanted a home, Paul Smith, they would bring the application to Centr al Life after they'd review it. And they had three they had conventional [mortgages] they had V A [Veterans Administration], and FHA [Federal housing Administration].


13 CR: So they were operating as, like, a savings and loan, or ? GC: Well, it was a CR: they were giving mor tgages? GC: Y es, taking mortgages, taking mortgages. CR: Did they, sort of GC: So they helped a lot of people here in fact they took the mortgage on this house. And I was working in that department. SG : (laughs) CR: What about businesses? Were they involved in helping people get started in business, like businesses on Central, or other small business? GC: Well, they would help them if they had any property like if someone had some property and maybe they want to start a business, but anyway, they put up their CR: Collateral. GC: They put up the property against their mortgage and once they did that, they didn't we had the contract on that building, so they could do things that they wanted T hey could say I want this for that and after we'd get the money, they could do whatever they wanted. So you could have but the main thing we had bad was they didn't pay. After a certain time we'd foreclose CR: Right. Right you GC: But they would give them a lot ; they were very lenient when it came to fo reclosure. CR : There was something you were talking before about the McCo llums and I had an interview with the Lopez e s where and, um GC: Paul CR : Clement e Maribel and Frank and Ferman and Lydia Lopez. GC: Yeah. CR : One of the things that, I thin k it was Clemente said that Charlie Moon used to buy insurance policies on people that you know, people who'd come into his saloons and


14 stuff and he didn't explain that And I don' t know that Central Life was where he had those policies, but GC: No, I d on't think so. CR: but I wondered if you ever heard anything GC: No. CR: about that? GC: L et me put it this way : during the time that I was at Central Life I didn't hear anything. CR: But Charlie Moon was in business during that time GC: Oh, yes. CR: you knew about Charlie Moon, and GC: Yes. Right there, down the street from where the office was. CR: Does he was he a stockholder in Central Life? GC: No. No. CR: But the McCo llums were? GC: Yes. CR: What was, uh how was that regarded? I m ean, they were famous bolita guys. GC: Well, sometimes what happened I don't know there's (inaudible) they got in there, but if someone had some stock they'd sell blocks. They'd say somebody has two hundred, three hundred shares, and, you know, it was eve n th ough they didn't cost that much then, the majority of people, maybe they couldn't afford to buy that. And these people, they had the mon ey, and I don't know who s e fault now, I don't remember. I knew then but I don't remember now. CR: So, it's a publi c company and they could buy stock and ? GC: Yes. Just like and this is the way they would do it. I have two hundred fifty shares of stock and I don't know what I'm going to do, and then I say, Cheryl you have money. This would be a good investment. Can you buy these two hundred fifty shares?" And I get it and sell it to you. See? So the company didn't have any control because that was my stock and I could sell it to who (inaudible). So I sold mine to Cheryl. Cheryl has


15 the stock certificates signed by m e showing that this stock is to be transferred to Cheryl Rodriguez, or whatever it is CR: And then she can vote with her (inaudible) GC: and then she goes to the office, she takes that and presents that and the secretary has the right to transfer thos e to her. And they were not concerned how much she if you paid one hundred dollars, if you paid ten cents for it. The mere fact that you did have that contract and that's the way they did. So right now I really don't know who they got the stock from, but i t so happened that they had the money and with whoever was, they needed it bad, so they went ahead for they didn't care who. CR: So they were investors and investors were needed and GC: That's right. CR: But then GC: So it's not that you know, the money, as far as (inaudible) was buying (inaudible) well, I would doubt it (CR laughs), but it had no, no but it would I don't know if it was in my company, but I don't have any (inaudible). CR: But you never heard of anything like that? GC: No, I neve r heard of anything. CR: Cause I had never heard of anything GC: No (inaudible) CR: like that and I'm trying to figure out what the angle on that woul d be, cause it's every I mean, unless you're going to hasten the day that you get to collect (laug h s ) which would ultimately, I think if somebody wanted to buy an insurance policy on me, and had that reputation, I wouldn't let 'em do it. GC: (inaudible) CR: So there must be something else that had to be crooked because uh GC: Somebody the way I understand it, somebody would have to sign the other person's name because sometimes they say, Man, I want this, and maybe they don't know what they're doing. SG : Yeah. Yeah. (i naudible)


16 GC: Because I can't see. CR: But the way Clemente described it was that he would pay the premiums and he was the beneficiary and there was GC: When they died, he got the money. CR: just, sort of but anyway, I just that was an odd insurance question that I thought I would ask you in case you knew about it. GC: No, not that I knew of. CR : With the gamblers on Central Avenue and there were a number of them, Charlie Moon was not the only one GC: Right. CR : but GC: And Clemente's brother, Chick 1 He was a he was CR: I mean, his brother told (laugh s ) me that al so. GC: He told you all that? CR: Oh, yeah. GC: Yeah. That's what I heard. CR: But he was also like, he was the sponsor of the T ilt 2 and was involved in civic kinds of things. I mean, it's a hard I have trouble GC: Chick ? CR: Y eah, Chick. GC: Yeah But, see, there's this sort of business that they were in, it was just like an investment. The only thing that was illega l was (inaudible) like the bolita thing, cause b olita helped a lot of people. (a ll laugh). (i naudible) and they used to (inaudible) and they come right around. They used to have it every night. And the big three were (inaudible). 1 According to the Oral History interview with Francisco and Ferman Lopez, Lydia Lopez Allen, and Mirabel Clemente, Ferman Mirabel was nicknamed Chico" by Charlie Moon, and he thereafter called himself Chick. 2 Tilt of the Maroon and Gold a football game played by Bethune Cookman College.


17 And they were the ones, and they had it, you know, every night. And they'd pay you one time it w as three dollars for five cents. Four dollars for (laughter). CR: It was good cause the GC: Yeah, yeah, that was way back there and they had the combination and you'd play that and all of that, so it was a common thing. CR: So, the Blanco brothers, they were gamblers in Ybor City, right? GC: Mike and Ralph. W ell, they used to sell. That's mostly what they did. They CR: They would sell the numbers? GC: Yeah, and they'd call it bolita (inaudible). They'd sell the bolita and what they'd do, they'd bank it themselves. And one time they were working for, like I said, for these other people, and they were getting, like, a cut or a commission But at the that was a common thing, I think Because we heard during that thing I don't know if it was during the twenties [1920s] but I remember they did a lot of killing (inaudible). CR: Well, yeah. I mean, Charlie Moon, although that was later, that was, like GC: Oh, but I don't think Charlie Moon was a mob leader. CR: in the early forties [1940s]. You don't think he was what? (SG laughs) You gonn a tell me about Char lie Moon? (a ll laugh) SG: Turn it off? GC : Okay. pause in recording GC: I would have the marker coming (inaudible). CR: What kind of guy was Charlie Moon? What reputation did he have? GC: I don't know anything (inaudible). CR: He didn't have a GC: No. CR: You didn't hear things about him, or they used to say things, like, that he would feed hungry people during the D epression, and


18 GC: Maybe for a special down here on Central, I know he CR: I heard another story about him. GC: I know he was th ere a long time, cause I didn't like to pass by him I would go on the other side, cause all those people be hanging around. CR: Be hanging out. GC: Yeah. CR: Who used to be the who were the people hanging out on Central Avenue? Were they longshoremen waiting for work, or ? GC: I really don't know. I know oh God where they had the Blue Room, some of them would come and say they want the Blue Room, or what you call this, um, the C otton Club. Now when I started with Gene and Dean and Vicki and (inaudib le), you know, he came through w e would go to the Cotton Club. It was nice. We would, you know, we would go there. CR: Oh, okay. What did you do there? Who did you see there? SG: I hear d, a lot, that celebrities used to come there, to the Cotton Club. GC: I don't remember seeing anything, (CR laughs) but it was nice. And another place they said was nice, but I didn't frequent there, was the uh, (sound of vehicle passing) (inaudible). CR: You didn't go there? GC: No. This [when] I went there, that was d uring a time when there was, uh (inaudible) some people, when (inaudible) from the boy's place when it was across the street, (inaudible) from people, when he started, it was from the other side. Then he moved to t he other side. But, no, I don't SG: So you didn't go on Central very much. GC: Mm I went to the (inaudible) sometimes, when I left work, if I wanted to see a movie, I us ed to go to the Lincoln T heater right after, you know, right after work. And from there to home. And another place that I had never been until I married the first time was the Apollo Ballroom. CR: The Apollo? GC: Ballroom. That was above Charlie and them's place. I forgot that there was someone who I didn't go that night I forgot who it was, but there was a benefit (inaudi ble). It


19 was during the time we used we used to (inaudible) and (inaudible) was so hot (inaudible) people had to dress us in dresses and the dresses were shrunk (CR laughs) (inaudible). SG: That was before air conditioning GC: Yeah. CR : ( laughs) CR: In fact, the Lopez brothers said that Chick's was the first place on Central Avenue to have air conditioning. That was one of the big selling points. Um GC: Atlanta Life used to be right now (sound of vehicle passing) right there on (inaudible) used to b e right there next about two doors from the Palace Theater (inaudible). CR: Do you know anything about the Lily White Benefit Society 3 or the Grand Union ? GC: No. CR: with the Grand Progressive Pallbearer's Union 4 ? GC: No. Did you interview (inaudibl e)? CR: No. I that's I want to interview her about that because I know that she was, uh SG: (inaudible) GC: Yeah, she's been working there a long time. A nd the other lady was (inaudible) but the Lily White see, (inaudible) I think. CR: In other words he was certainly the one who was the head of it. I think he started it. I didn't for some reason I didn't think he was part of Central Life (sound of vehicle passing). I thought he was part of another group that was, sort of, the GC: Right. Right. Right CR: competition with Central Life. GC: When I started, I think his father was they had the founders, but I understanding, he put his father in it, but I understand that his father was not one of the founders, that he 3 Lily White Security Benefit Society, f o unded in 1935 4 Progressive Pallbearer's Grand Union


20 was one of the first people comin g in. But they had a picture there and someone came and they took the minutes and the people who signed the (inaudible) CR: M m hm. GC: So I don't think that it CR: His name was not o n it. GC: I don't think so. CR: Hm. GC: And, you know, t hey'd regr oup their (inaudible). I think some of that stuff went through (inaudible). CR: Probably. GC: You don't throw those things away, cause I kept those things locked and I wasted my time arranging them, all (inaudible). CR: What? When they closed Central L ife down? GC: (i naudible). CR: That hasn't been too long ago. GC: I lost I had a hundred and fifteen shares of stock. CR: Oh, really? GC: And I lost ten thou sand dollars on it. (s ound of large vehicle passing) There was a (inaudible) and I was spendin g my money and everything (coughs) and after a year they come and send me a check (inaudible) and they didn't send me all the money, and somebody said, "I didn't even bother with trying to (inaudible) shares because I said, "At my age, you know the big one (inaudible) charging me, charged me for that?" So I don 't have one penny of worth of life insurance and I worked for the insurance company for forty five years. And it's not the same if somebody if somebody say, "Why don't you go?" I say, "I (inaudible )." The y say, "Do you have anything to to write before time?" You see, they ran us they ran debt, I don't know how many millions of dollars. CR: (i naudible). Yeah. Creditors get in line and GC: Sure.


21 CR: policyholders don't GC: So they said, after reviewing, I didn't have any claim. I said, "Why?" And, see, the way I bought the stock, I bought the stock I used to save money in the credit union. We had payroll deduction and every time I had a hundred dollars in there I would buy. You know, that's ju st unlawful. It really wasn't money that I got out at one time but over the years it accumulated. Now there was some that I paid a hundred and twenty five for. So, when it was like we'd say W e have this bunch of whatever price shares which was (inaudible ), I would borrow the money from the credit union and then buy the stock. That was not a (inaudible) way of raising money. I didn't get that from no (inaudible). (CR laughs) But I've never be en lucky. ( laugh ter ) Now, I had an aunt who was lucky. But when she (inaudible). CR: So what, actually, do you think, caused Central Life to fail? I mean, I know there were individuals, and there were actual, sor t of, episodes, but in terms of just the general, uh, problems GC: Well, number one CR: that caused i t. GC: Number one was when they started this (inaudible) was the, at least, before it was hard, I think, for some of the colored to get good insurance with the other company It's just ever since we came up, the only thing I knew about wa s Metropolitan L ife. And that's cause we had all, you know, all those insurance with em I didn't even know they had a colored insurance company until I when they called me (CR laughs) and told me you're here. CR: "Because I worked there." GC: Yeah. I didn't know, ev en right here in the city. I just didn't know. Then I found the (inaudible) worked in Jacksonville and I knew of the African 5 I didn't know about Central Life. But I really think when, when see, they started hiring. Before [that] they didn't hire colored, the white companies, so when they starte d hiring them, and they'd give em this big money, you couldn't hardly get any you couldn't hire them to come and sell insurance for what we could pay them. So, then, there they go and there they ran and if you don 't have the people to sell it SG: Right. GC: So that's one of the main things, when they did that CR: When they had more 5 Possibly refe rring to the Afro American Life Insurance Company, which was based in Jacksonville.


22 GC: when they'd see CR: (inaudible) GC: It helped on one side but it hurt on the other side CR: Yeah. GC: when they sta rted letting them, you know, they could do that. CR: Right. GC: They had what they'd call this the (inaudible). It was very, very profitable You can do so many things with the policy. CR: Right. GC: But, see, the small company, they can't we were (au dio is warped and garbled here ) we (inaudible) around seven million dollar (inaudible) and that's chicken feed. CR: So the scale of GC: That's right. And, see, if they going over here to John, John (inaudible) they're coming ov er here to Joe, Joe won't give em five, and that's as much as (inaudible) he' s not thinking about that and nobody knew it. We started going down. We had to close some of the branch offices. CR: So, you think integration was the biggest part of it. GC: I think so, when it come t o that business Not all, not all business, but I think it, it had a lot to do with it. And if you're going, and if you're going somewhere and they going to send some Russian to work for us, we couldn't afford to pay a salary lik e this, like the big ones p aid CR: Mm hm GC: And then they returned experience Especially (inaudible) against (inaudible). So to m e, one of the good (inaudible). Cause Mr. (inau dible) knew (inaudible) cause he started from the beginning and left. And some of the others, just l ike Ms. Bethune, she was an educator. She didn't know nothing about that. And Mr. Davis came in and he trie d to do his best, and he did do pretty good, but his heart was really in education. And then he was in business. He got so that he had a Laundromat, and to this day (inaudible) (sound of vehicle passing). But, you have too much politics in this thing. SG: Yeah.


23 CR: Seems like the company was kind of a community institution that had, you know, people came to it from leadership positions in the communi ty then that was from other parts of GC: Of the state, yeah. CR: of the sector. GC: And another thing that they did, they were instrumental in lending money to a group to buy the Central Hotel. SG: To buy what? GC: Central Hotel and Ballroom. CR: T hat was like P yramid ( inaudible ; everyone speaking at once ) GC: And then became to be called the Pyramid Hotel and Investment Company. CR: Oh. GC: So, Central Life was the one who lent them money. SG: Okay. GC: So this even though some of the some of the directors were part also part of Central. CR: That's what I was go ing to ask. Do you know who was in the Pyramid? I know that, Blythe Andrews 6 was in it. Or, at least, I think he was. Moses White, maybe? GC: I don't know. CR: There were a GC: My mi nd is not what it used to be. I think (i naudible) because we used to laugh at em because they had, um (sound of stomping foot twice) a radio program and he was talking and he'd say he's off i n Virginia. Somebody'd say, "He's (inaudible)" (All laugh) like a cracker. And then this SG: ( inaudible ) Martin? 6 C. Blythe Andrews Senior owner of the Florida Sentinel Bulletin newspaper


24 GC: Yeah. Then this Pyramid Hotel and Investment Company, they also bought I can't think of this place. (Sound of vehic le passing) It was like a park or something, that they bought. SG: A park? D id you say park? GC: Yeah. Or somewhere where they had picnics and things. SG: It wasn't Rogers Park? GC: No, no, no, no. It wasn't Rogers Park. And I'm forgetting, I never went but that's I think it was during the time my father died and, in a way, (i naudible) I was grown, but if somebody died you wouldn't go here and you wouldn't go there. You know how it was. CR: Right. GC: So they had somethi ng one time, and I didn't go. I forget the name of it. CR: When Mart’ Ma ceo Society was torn down, the pr operty was acquired by the Lily White Investment people. Did you know anything about that? GC: No. No. CR: Their involvement in the property that Mart ’ Maceo was on? GC: No. I didn't know about it. CR: Um, I know I haven't been able to track down the details of it yet, either. I mean, I know that that was GC: I thought they demolished the building. CR: Oh, they did. But I mean in terms of who developed that property afterwards, and who actually got the land that it was on. GC: Because out of all th e clubs that's gonna (inaudible) dirty dogs (someone laughs). We were the dirty dogs. Now, that's someplace we would go at night, when they had dances and things (sound of vehicle passing), we would go and, and they'd "L et's go, let's go and watch the ban d!" And we'd go and stand across the street and they'd have this porch and we would just enjoy (inaudible) looking at the people dancing and say, "Hey, look at that." And, you know, holding hands, and all (inaudible) (CR laughing) ( inaudible ) waste time wi th that foolishness. They ain't gonna watch nobody dancing and all of that. And even at that time, I mean, they let us go. And it was we weren't three blocks from where we lived. It was too strict (CR laughs). And I said "I f they ever had


25 been that strict with me, I would have never driven (inaudible) my husband (CR laughs) When I look back, oh my goodness. (Sound of microphone being moved and rapped) CR: (i naudible) Just a few more questions about Central Avenue. Um, there was a point where and if you d idn't go over there very much it GC: Well, before you start talking, do you want to have a drink or something? CR: Actually, that sounds really good. GC: Okay. CR: Just water is ( inaudible ). pause in recording CR: That's the most important part. What GC: Have any children? SG: Mm hm GC: How many? SG: Four girls. GC: Four girls! We have one girl. (Dog barking ) CR: One girl. GC: No boys? SG : I think (inaudible) actually have twins. (Dog still barking) GC: ( i naudible) SG : Yeah, he worked on a number of different (inaudible) and when I (inaudible). GC: (i naudible) SG : My oldest one is twenty three GC: Wow. You're (inaudible). SG: I'm old.


26 GC: And see, you should be young like her. (All laugh). I tell you, Tina ( i naudible) seventy fiv e this year (Dog barks, inaudible). I f I make it. CR: As time went by on Central Avenue and if you didn't go down there very much you may not really be able to say too much about this, but it started to change. I mean, it must have started to change not iceably in the late fiftie s [1950s], early sixties [1960s] in terms of more empty buildings and things like that. Do you re member (doorbell rings) that? Did you have a sense of that? (Doorbell rings again) GC: I don't know who (inaudible). CR: There wa s a bank or it wasn't actually a bank, it was a savings and loan I think it was Frontiers, uh GC: (in audible) CR: Mr. (inaudible) was involved in that. GC: And I (inaudible) stupid thing, you know when Harper started running for that, uh, they let him go, and I understand that (inaudible) he mentioned he was going to run for (inaudible) or something. (CR laughs) But if the man was building the thing up, and all of that, he (inaudible) (sound of vehicle passing) I'm quite sure it was going to be a big ( inaudible) that had somebody CR: Right. GC: and he would still be guiding em. And they said, "Well, I'm going to, uh I'll stay at this and that." And he could guide the people and all that and see that they could be going okay. But these people someti mes t hey hate to see if somebody goes up and on that account may mean that's another thing. Maybe they would have been married if he hadn 't been doing that (inaudible). 'Cause he had been doing that before. He was on other boards. CR: Of the Central Life ? GC: Oh, yes. And I told him that day, I said, "And I need you to know sir, you've let me down ." SG: What did he say? GC: H m? SG: What did he say? GC: (Sound of vehicle passing) I've forgotten what he said (CR laughs), except he was the one, and in Central Life's case, the board left (inaudible) (sound of something striking


27 microphone). They d idn't have enough people (inaudible) business (inaudible) something like (inaudible). They put several people on (inaudible) education (Sound of vehicle passin g) (i naudible) and so and so was this, just like, uh, when it came to, um, it were a man, he was a member of the board and he died, so someone said that he had left all of his stock to a nephew. CR: Mm hm GC: So they decided to put the nephew on the boa rd. (CR laughs) and we come to find out he didn't leave all his stock to the nephew (sound of vehicle passing) (CR laughs). He had to do all of the meetings SG: Oh, no. GC: Wasn't that stupid? CR: Yeah. So they didn't (inaudible) GC: (inaudible) CR : find out. They didn't do real good research to find out. GC: No. And that's CR: (inaudible) GC: that's what happened with us. We have to face we don't have too m uch (inaudible) new generation. You don't have too many people with business sense. Yo u don't put somebody on a board just because this one said that, and he left his stock and all of that. You're going to put somebody who is qualified or who knows what we can do to make it something new and grow. But just because say you put Mary Jane. Ma ry Jane don't know nothing about insurance, don't know anything about investmen t, don't know anything but to go and sit in the classroom and teach the kids. That's a good job. It's not bad. CR: Right. GC: I don't know if I wanted to teach nowa days. (i nau dible) Well, a nyway, my ambition was to have a (inaudible) in mathematics. SG: You were good with the numbers, huh? GC: I love to work with numbers. Ye ah. (Sound of vehicle passing). But I couldn't make it. Some people figure I would go to school (inaudi ble). I didn't go to school because it was during the D epression and my mother couldn't afford it and I couldn't get a scholarship. The sponsor say, "I want you to go to (inaudible). Mrs. Thomas, I want you


28 to go to this (inaudible) school." And the time c ame I'd want to (inaudible). No one. I did everything by myself. And this guy said, "(inaudible)." And I said, "No, sir." I said, "I couldn't get to NYU [New York University] or That was during the D epression and they had these scholarships that it would be, like, fifteen dollars because now, that job that I had, I told you, the Urban League, I started with a home demonstration (inaudible). They were the ones paying. The government paid sixteen dollars, or whatever it was, a month. I forget (inaudible) it was. But if I would have gotten there and my mother could afford it. But then, during that time (inaudible) today, and you didn't have the money, they would tell you to go home. Now, why don't if they didn't enough money to send me, to pay for the tuiti on, how in the devil am I gonna get home? See, they didn't think that It's some old one of those stupid things they don't even know. Instead, I didn't want to oh, even one of the members of my family said I didn't go to school because my mother didn't wa nt me didn't let me go to school because (inaudible). I said, "That's the biggest lie." (CR chuckles) That's one time she was willing to do without me. Poor thing, she wanted me the same thing with the piano. (Chuckling) ( i naudible) the piano, but I did (i naudible) play long, long ago. (Sound of vehicle passing) The same way. And I didn't have a piano. That's when I used to go to (inaudible), tell you? SG : What? GC: I would go up to his house SG : Oh, t hat's right. Yeah. GC: every day, by myself. I wou ld go there every day Susan, to practice. (CR chuckles) My mother would send me. And then, when I left, most of the time, when I would leave, uh (inaudible) that was way back there when (CR chuckles) we'd take we'd take company (inaudible), you know, and they were on the porch when I would leave. But every day I'd go over there, except Saturday and Sunday. Every day. (inaudible) busy playing (inaudible) That's another thing I wanted to do (CR laughs). And I didn't (inaudible). SG: You missed all these th ings that you wanted to do. GC: No. She didn't let me. SG: Well GC: No, that's why SG: but you did do a lot. GC: I can't skate. (All laugh)


29 CR: It's never too late. GC: I can't ride a bicycle. I can't swim. That's too much love CR: But you had a good career at Central Life. GC: Oh, I did. CR: What was it like to work there? GC: Well, we had it pretty good. I was a secretary for a long time. You see my things on the wall? CR: Yeah. GC: Yeah. I was a first secretary until I if I moved up in Central Life, there was too much (sound of a vehicle passing) (inaudible) and I didn't, um, I got out (inaudible). I stayed on the board but I didn't I wouldn't manage for Mr. (inaudible). You have to care for it. My husband was unable to understand that. But (inaudible). SG: You must have. CR: What kind of impact would you say Central Life had on the community? What was its contribution to the community? GC: Well, one main thing during that time, it was hard for us to get jobs and things they contribut ed. They contributed to that. Because and they would use (inaudible) the vacation time and they started giving jobs to the kids, like in high school and that. We'd bring em in and have em, just like we did typists (inaudible) and we had them working. We had that program. Because there were several girls there that came Vicki was one of 'em and Mildred Mildred (inaudible). Now they have gone off. And there was another I mean, but several of them were nice little workers too, that c ame in through, during t he summer. Cause we did we used to have the register. I wasn't an officer then but I was just there, you know I was secretary, and then, cause I started as a clerk/typist, and then a stenographer, and then as, like, secretary. So then I became an officer CR: (inaudible) GC: yeah. They were they CR: So they provided jobs for the people. GC: Yes, during the summer, they did. CR: And, you also said that, um, the fact that they helped people with their mortgages.


30 GC: Oh, yes. CR: That was real impor tant. GC: Yeah. That's (inaudible)'s Construction Company because those people out there, if they would have been for Central Life during that time because they had a hard time for the because this Carl Smith Construction Company, that was a white company And here they couldn't get the whites the banks to take the mortgage. And that's when they came to Central Life. SG: Do you think that in general, that the black community was supportive of Central? GC: I don't know. SG: You don't know? GC: Unh uh CR: Well, a lot of people did business with them. GC: Yes, and especially some of the ugly, ugly, ugly things CR: Did people keep their policies with Central Life even if they could get a better policy elsewhere out of a sense of loyalty? Do you know of cases like that? GC: No, I don't, but a lot of them kept see, the problem was (sound of vehicles in background) (inaudible) because some of those people, they had that And if you had a good agent, somebody you had a five cent s policy, a ten cent s pol icy I just came across, after my aunt died, I came across two policies that she had on one of her sons, the youngest son, one was a thousand (inaudible). And do you know there's sti ll something in it? And he was close to s eventy nine, and during that time he was sixty seven years old. And I called the people and they'd say (inaudible) what. And then, at the time, it was supposed to be for he wanted whatever you were going to give him now. I'd say, "You say you don't have insurance. If you're going to get more that way even though you are not going to get it. But whoever's responsible for you r burial, that's a help towards it." And they still have, you know, way back there, they had all those five cents and ten cents policies But Central Life was good, I think, it was good also to the community caus e whatever they had, we would always contribute And they had different (inaudible). And, I mean, we had several other people, um, they had the United Way several of them had said when we (inaudible tape ski ps ) moved


31 CR: So they would get involved with things like that as well? GC: Yes. And if they (inaudible) quite a while on the budget committee, and then when that came out I was involved board. 'Cause then I went with the Helping Hand comme rcial, that' s Miss Storm. Miss Storm took me and there was no (inaudible) poor thing, and they were n't saying a thing. (CR laughs) And I did that. I kept the they had a bookkeeper but I did the payroll, wrote the checks, and (inaudible) every five or ten minutes (in audible) she got this, and I didn't never get a penny from them. CR: So, did they think Central Life was donating those services, or did they ? GC: No, no, they didn't think they was Miss Storm was the secretary treasurer of Central Life, Andrew Storm wa s the president of the board for the Helping Hand Day Nursery. SG: Naturally she asked you GC: So, the treasurer would have been sick, so they she told (inaudible) she knows somebody who would go and do it. And I and she probably (inaudible). So and I told her, I did the payroll (inaudible). I said, Miss St orm you said that (inaudible) they didn't give me a (do g bark) (inaudible)." (i naudible) Miss Cox. I said, "They didn't give her a penny." And do you know (inaudible) (sound of vehicle passing) (do g bark s )? pause in recording GC: (Inaudible) turn it back on again. CR: I want to ask you one more thing. Um, it seemed as if the NAACP and Central Life have a lot of connections. You were you did something with the NAACP didn't you? GC: Never. CR: Vicki Cas eus GC: Vicki was. CR: Okay. She may be the one I'm thinking of. GC: Yeah, Vicki was. CR: Or you had, like, David (tape sk ips) (inaudible) involved with the NAACP, and


32 GC: Oh, yes, for years and years did he finally turned it loose. And Bo b 7 and Bob's wife Helen, she was one time, she was over me. She was the one that used to be (inaudible) over that, from Mims, Florida, but they killed him. To this day they don't know who did it. And that was from the same time that Bob's wife was here. An d that's when Bob took the job, when they killed this man. CR: Of Harry T. Moore? GC: Right. Right. That's him. Yeah, that's when Bob took the job. And I don't know if that's why He len met him or what (inaudible) cause Helen came from Mims to work for us. CR: I see. GC: That's when she CR: She worked at Central Life? GC: Yes. CR: Oh. GC: That's when she came from Mims to work for us. Yeah, we had quite a few And I had I have her (inaudible) one of them used to write me an d the other one that I helped, s o that made me feel good. But you can always fin d a rotten egg. (All laugh). Mm hm CR: Sometimes it doesn't (inaudible). GC: But it don't bother me because one out of a dozen, if you got a rotten egg, that's not bad. Yeah, but Mildred and th em have done good. Mildred (inaudible) and Eleanor and the oth er one, she was from here, I don't know w hat was her name? I can't think of it. But I don't know what has happened to her. She wro te me when she married even when she went to Washington. She (i naudible) my godson, and one night both of them called me and this and that and the other. The next time they broke up. Then she sends me she married and sent her mother to Puerto Rico because she was here with her father. But her mother was Puerto Rican. CR: Oh, okay. GC : And she was going to Blake [High School] SG: I didn't know that. 7 Robert Saunders, field secretary for the Florida NAACP. His wife, Helen Strickland Saunders, was president of the NAACP's Tampa branch.


33 GC: It was Cynthia. Cynthia what? I couldn't think of it. But she went up there and she finally married and she sent me the picture and all that. CR: And she didn't an d she worked at Central Life? GC: Yes. That's one of my girls. And that's why I told you that during the summer program how we would get them coming in. Yeah, now that's a good thing they had. Yeah. ( i naudible) One time we had three Cynthias SG : So, you say you kept a lot of the records well maybe not records, but you kept a lot of pape rs or (inaudible) (tape skips) different, um what's the word I'm trying to say? CR: The mementos, or SG: Yeah. You kept mementos from there, from Central Life. GC: Ye s, I have some. CR: Do you have any photographs of the well, what we really need are things that the Central Avenue, when it was on Central Avenue. GC: I cannot help you with it because I wasn't working then. And on Central the last thing we had on Cent ral Avenue was a branch office, which I told you was two doors from Rogers. And this (inaudible) you were talking about his daddy, he had the bookkeeping place. CR: Okay. GC: And that's Vicki and I, we were when we'd get off from work, we would drive wit h him on to there. Because he had the bookkeeping place, and then especially during income tax, we would CR: So you worked, sort of, extra during then? GC: Oh, yes. Mm hm We worked two hours. We would get off at 4:30 and we'd drive with him and we star ted from five until seven That's the night I told you I was standing there and the woman SG: (laughs) GC: (i naudible) What an experience. (SG laughs) CR: Is there anything else that you think we ought to know about, about Central Life and how it fit i nto the community and how it made a contribution, or what was distinctive about it?


34 GC: Well, not only did uh, durin g the summer, but they also had some (inaudible). CR: So they'd have, like, two GC: So they were interested in the youth. Trying to kee p them off of crime. CR: Do you think that maybe that was a reflection of the fact that teachers were involved in Central Life, that there was more of an awareness of the youth issue because of that, or GC: Maybe so. CR: Or because they were aware of the need for trained people? GC: I really don't know about (inaudible). I know we tried to help the youth every summer. Every summer we would get that. CR: Well, we have taken a lot of your time Grace (inaudible). GC: I know. (inaudible) feel so good You know what I've been doing? Sometime I sit there and look at the moon a little too end of interview