Diane Wyche was born in Charlotte in 1934 and was the daughter of Rudolph Melville Wyche, a medical doctor and surgeon who worked in the Brooklyn neighborhood before urban renewal. In this interview, Ms. Wyche recalls her father’s practice in Brooklyn, including the types of surgeries he would perform, how he was paid, and his house calls. Ms. Wyche also discusses her memories of Daddy Grace and the House of Prayer convocation parade.
Tape Log: Oral History Interview with Diane Wyche
Interviewed by Tosha McLean Pearson
April 28, 2007
|Description of Interview Contents
|Ms. Wyche Describes the location of (her father) Dr. Rudolph Wyche’s medical practice in the Brooklyn community.
|Ms. Wyche describes one experience of accompanying her father on a house call.
|Ms. Wyche describes her perception of Brooklyn and the shotgun homes. She explains that there existed more shotgun homes than any other form of housing.
|Describes how poor African Americans paid for medical services.
|Discusses her father’s involvement with The Charlotte Medical Society.
|The mention of Dr. Rudolph Wyche’s relationship with Dr. Charles Drew.
|Dr. Rudolph Wyche’s surgical skills.
|Discussion of Good Samaritan and racial segregation pertaining to medical services.
|Diane discusses some of the legends of Bishop Daddy Grace that she heard as a youth.
|Discusses the financial status of doctors during the Brooklyn community era.
|Cotillions and Jack and Jill-middle class society.
|Discusses high school clubs and organizations during the beginning of racial integration.
|Other middle class women organizations such as the Moles and the Links and the Jack and Jill charter.
|The percentage of middle class that lived in Brooklyn and other African American middle class individuals owning businesses in Brooklyn, but living elsewhere.
|Impact of urban renewal on Dr Rudolph Wyche’s medical practice.
|Ms. Wyche’s fondest memories of her father, Dr. Rudolph Wyche.
|Mrs. Carolyn Wyche and Mrs. Rand and social gatherings at the Excelsior Club.
|Ms. Wyche’s thoughts on urban renewal.
|Closing and thank you
Interviewed at the residence of Ms. Wyche in Charlotte, North Carolina
April 28, 2007
Interviewer: Pearson, Tosha McLean
Transcription completed: June 8, 2007
Transcriber: Jennifer Payne
Editor: Karen Flint
Title: Interview with Diane Wyche
Keywords [subject]: Brooklyn, businesses, doctors, Queen City Pharmacy, Biddleville, urban renewal, social groups, Daddy Grace, House of Prayer.
Contributor: Diane Wyche
Interview Date: April 28, 2007
Format: WAV (39 minutes)
Identifier: [file number]
Coverage: [Cities/States and years, 1940s to 1970s]
Interviewer: Tosha McLean Pearson
Recorder (if different than interviewer): Tosha McLean Pearson
Transcriber: Jennifer Payne
Ms. Diane Wyche was born in Charlotte in 1934 and was the daughter of Rudolph Melville Wyche, a medical doctor and surgeon who worked in the Brooklyn neighborhood before urban renewal. In this interview, Ms. Wyche recalls her father’s practice in Brooklyn, including the types of surgeries he would perform, how he was paid, and his house calls. Ms. Wyche also discusses her memories of Daddy Grace and the House of Prayer convocation parade.
Birth date: 1934
Birth location: Charlotte, North Carolina
Residence: Charlotte, North Carolina
Education: Second Ward High School, Bennett College
Setting Description: The residence of Ms. Wyche in Charlotte, North Carolina [ Second interview, first recording was lost in technology transfer]
DW: Diane Wyche
TP: My name is Tosha McLean Pearson, and today is April 28, 2007. This interview is being conducted in conjunction with the history department of the University of North Carolina as part of the Voices of the New South series. This particular interview is taking place at the home of Mrs. Carolyn Wyche, as part of the focus on the former Brooklyn neighborhood of Charlotte. I have with me Ms. Diane Wyche, who attended Second Ward High School. [End of Track 1]
TP: [Begin Track 2] Hi, Diane.
DW: Hi. How are you?
TP: I decided I’m going to hold the microphone today, so…[TP and DW laugh] I guess my first question for you is, where was your dad’s medical practice located?
DW: Well, we’re from- I should say, I was born here in Charlotte. And it’s Diane Wyche in case you need to know all of that. I was born here in Charlotte, and we lived, at the time, in First Ward. So, from the time that I remember, my father had an office on Brevard Street. So, it was like, Second and Brevard. And most of the professional buildings were over in that area. He had an office in Dr. Watkins, Thomas Watkins, owned a medical building. And he had a pharmacy in it, and he had a number of doctors in the building. Dr. Lowe, who was a pediatrician, Dr. Wilkins, who was a medical doctor, and Dr. Watkins, Thomas Watkins and Thomas Watkins, Jr., were both in there. And they were dentists. So, I don’t know if there were any- it might have been- Alexander Funeral Home was right next door, the Queen City Pharmacy was down the street, the Lincoln Theater was in that area. That was all in between Second and Brevard Street. And some other buildings where, you know, doctors and lawyers had their offices. I don’t know if I went- that’s too much, but…[DW laughs]
TP: And what were some of the landmarks around your father’s office? What can you remember that was, you know, any businesses, or places of living?
DW: Well, like I said, the Lincoln Theater was there, the Queen City Pharmacy, Alexander Funeral Home, and apartments, you know, houses, buildings. I don’t remember, I guess there were some houses around- I’m talking back, God [DW laughs] forty years, I don’t know if I can remember that far back. Because soon after, well, during redevelopment, of course, he moved over on the west side of town. But, the neighborhood was pretty much a, a self-involved neighborhood. There was a, there was a restaurant there, I remember that. Queen City Pharmacy did serve at that time, little snacks, hamburgers, stuff like that, milkshakes, you got all those kinds of things in there. And I’m sure restaurants were around there. I didn’t spend, well, I spent some time when I was younger there. And there were houses, ‘cause we had friends there. Daddy had patients over there. And, as I, I think when I was around twelve or thirteen I got to work in his office. He let me work for him in the summer.
TP: I understand that you went out on house calls with him? Can you describe your experiences going out on those house calls? Any particular experience that you remember?
DW: Well, I do remember a couple. Right, on evenings, after dinner, we would- that was when they had family dinner- we’d come home after dinner and Daddy would do his house calls at night. So, Mom and I would both go with him on the house calls, and they were kind of, you know, it was just the normal thing to do back then. Because people didn’t go to the hospital or they, the emergency room wasn’t there. It was there, but they just went for really bad emergencies. But for typical house calls, people had colds, people had whatever. I don’t know why he went there because we were never allowed in the room where he was. One of the things I do remember, it was a house- and people lived in all kinds of conditions. Some people had very nice houses, you’d go in, you knew them, you’d sit there and talk with them, talk to the family. They’d just tell you to sit down. Sometime Mom and I, the two of us, we’d just wait in the car for him. Which wasn’t a bad thing to do. You could sit in the car and wait then, you weren’t afraid to be out there. I did go with him once, in one neighborhood, but it was in First Ward, if I, I think. I don’t know why I was with him alone, but the house had had a fire, so all the back of the house was burned out. There was only one room, the living room, where they had all the food, they cooked, there was no light. I don’t know if they had running water but I know they didn’t have any light ‘cause the only light was a fire, and I was sitting in there. Daddy had gone back in the room, you know, to see the patient. But all I remember, I’m sitting there, and OK, we’ll sit in this straight chair over here, and I did that, and I heard this little [DW makes a shaking sound] sound, and the food was rattling in the box, and I’m thinking, “Oh, my Lord, let me hurry up and get out of here.” I guess it was a mouse or something, I don’t know, but it was- there were a lot of different things you saw in people’s houses.
TP: I have a question about Brooklyn. What was the percentage of shotgun homes, your perception, in, in the area of Brooklyn?
DW: You know, I don’t really remember now. I know I had some friends that lived on, some on Eighth Street, I – it’s hard for me, because as I said, I was a child then, so I don’t really remember the way the neighborhood was set up. But there were quite a few. I do know that. I know there were a lot of them, and you’d see people sitting on the porch and things as I’d walk to school. And then, I lived in First Ward, where of course there were some shotgun houses, but not a lot of them. I know on Eighth Street they had some. I can’t remember, really, where else. I know, I think on Second Street there were some. But how many, and actually- I know there were more of those than anything else.
TP: OK. Back to your father’s practice. African-Americans, obviously, you know, they were, you know, not as, well, most of them weren’t as economically well-off. How did they go about paying their medical bills?
DW: Well, I guess, in a different, in a lot of different ways. I think a house call was only something like two dollars. Sometimes they had it, sometimes they didn’t. I know Daddy probably didn’t charge a lot of people, or they said they would pay him later. I think an office visit must have been three, four dollars. It wasn’t very much. But then, it was, you know, I don’t even think it was equitable to today’s standards, you can’t even measure that, because of inflation. But, I know one person he had, he did surgery on him, and every spring and fall he used to bring us vegetables from his garden. He had peas-Mom and I shelled so many peas sometimes. But he was very faithful for about five years. Every spring, every fall he brought us vegetables, potatoes, all kinds of stuff, beans. And so that was one way of paying. Daddy would come home sometimes with soup, because you could eat people’s food then, you trusted them. So he’d have soup, he’d have meat, he’d have some of anything. I guess it was more of a barter system. But whatever people could pay with, that’s what they paid for.
TP: Tell me about your father’s involvement in the Charlotte Medical Society.
DW: Well, I know he was a member. I know he was president one year- or was it president of the state? I think he was president of the state medical society also. Again, these might be some of my mother’s questions, because being a child I didn’t, wasn’t that involved. But I do know that there was the medical society, they did- and then there was the Women’s Auxiliary, so. Get Momma to ask some and answer some of those questions about actually what they did. From what I’ve heard her talk about, they would meet, they would support their husbands, they would do some volunteer work over at Good Samaritan Hospital, especially pediatrics. They would go over and do some work with the children, decorate the ward, or something like that. That was pretty much just a support group. The medical society, that also included dentists and pharmacists. So, they probably talked about- and Charlotte at that time was, was very small. So, I’m sure they talked about medical cases, probably had some of the same patients, maybe talked about some of the new, new, a lot of the new things that were happening in medicine and with medication.
TP: OK. Was there a tendency for doctors to marry nurses?
DW: No, I don’t think so. My mom was a nurse. A lot of the doctors I knew were married to teachers, actually. [TP and DW laugh] So, I think it was- I’m trying to think, let me, let me think, let me think. I think most of them were teachers, that I remember. The doctor’s wives.
TP: Did your father ever talk about his relationship with Dr. Charles Drew?
DW: I heard him say- my mom used to, they used to tell me how I played horseshoes with him. Of course, I don’t remember that, in Maryland. But, he was- and I don’t know how Daddy knew him, but he, he did know him. And again, at that time there were not a whole lot of black medical doctors. They did have a national medical society at the time, also, where all the black doctors would get together once a year. So, I’m sure that, through that, and through some association, that’s probably how they met. I don’t, I’m not sure where Dr. Drew went to medical school, so I’m not sure if he went to school with them or not. Daddy went to Howard, by the way.
TP: My next question is, your father, he was, he was very good in surgical procedure. Tell me the things that he did. Tell me what he was known for in the Charlotte community for his surgical skill.
DW: Well, at the time, doctors didn’t have specialties. All doctors did everything. They delivered babies, and we used to say that they took care of you from the cradle to the grave. So, they delivered you, they took care of you, they did your surgeries in between, and they took care of you when it was almost time for you to go. Some interesting things, even when I started teaching, one of my classmates was named after my father. I had, when I came back here, one of my students was named after my father. He had his whole name. The little boy, his name was Rudolph Melville, which was my father’s name. I asked him, “Who are you named after?” He said, “I don’t know.” I said, “Well, ask your mom.” So the little boy came back, and he told me, he said, “My momma said it ain’t none of your business who I was named after.” [DW laughs] So I said, “OK, you go back home and you tell your mother that my name is Diane Wyche and Dr. Wyche is my father.” So he came back and he said, “Yeah, yeah, your father delivered me and I was named after him!” So there were quite a few babies named after him. And, but, he, he did all types of surgery. I mean, he operated on everything. I met one lady who said, “Well, your Daddy is the reason I’m a mother today.” And I was like, “Well, wait a minute here.” She said, “No, no, no, no, no. He operated on me. They told me I couldn’t have any children,” and he did surgery on her. I guess she had blocked tubes or something, I don’t know. But soon after the surgery she was pregnant. And he did a number of those. He was best known for his skills with mastectomies and breast cancer. At that time, that was the only thing they did, they did mastectomies. So they didn’t have all of the things that they do now. But most of his patients lived past their five years. A lot of the other doctors would come from other hospitals to- and, and they would have their younger doctors rotate through just to watch to see the skills that he did with mastectomies. We had one patient, I know, who died with breast cancer after he operated on her, but she died fifty years later. So, I think that was a different breast cancer altogether, and I think she outlived him. Let’s see, I think she was well in her eighties when she died. He was also known for, for just about any types of surgeries. He was, he was, he enjoyed that. He enjoyed medicine. He, he really liked it. That was what he did most. I could tell when he’d come home, some patients he was close to, because they said if you had them for a long time, patients were always with him if something didn’t go well, or he lost a patient, I know it’d affect him a lot, because his whole mood would change. I remember some of that. Especially if a patient died on him, or something. He, he- that would really, really- and you’d hear that the surgery was a success, but the patient died. And that would bother him quite a bit.
TP: So where would your father perform these surgeries?
DW: Well, at the time, the only hospital here, of course, was Good Samaritan Hospital. And, that was, that was it. There was, you know, a few black hospitals. The one here, and I used to hear him talk about the one in Winston and the one in Durham. I think, I guess Greensboro must have had one, I’m not sure. Good Samaritan was the only hospital where black people were actually allowed to go. Some white doctors had black patients, but they treated their patients at Good Samaritan Hospital. So white doctors could come into Good Samaritan Hospital, and those doctors- those patients had to go into a room in the back, they had to use like a back door. They couldn’t sit in the waiting room with their patients. But, sometimes, you know, the expertise, and depending on what the surgery was, white doctors would have to come in and perform that surgery, especially if that was their specialty or something very, very unique. But at the time, just Good Samaritan Hospital. And of course, that’s where the Panthers Stadium sits today. And they also had a nursing school there, and my mom went to nursing school in, at Good Samaritan. [End of Track 2]
TP: [Beginning of Track 3] OK, Diane.
TP: Can you tell me a little bit about what you know about Daddy Grace, his legend here in Carolina, North Carolina?
DW: Well, what do I know about Daddy Grace? I remember when he used to come every year and have his, the parade. And that was a big to-do, was-everybody would get ready for that. It was, I think it was in September, I guess, around Labor Day weekend. I don’t remember the exact date. So some time in September. And, the- everybody used to say it never rained on Daddy Grace’s parade. Never. And I remember the first year Bishop McCullough was in charge, it rained on his parade. Everybody was saying, “See? See?” And, he had a reputation, he, one thing about it though, he did take care, from what I can remember people telling me, of the people in his church. He helped them on houses, on cars, he helped finance it, when, during that time, black people couldn’t get loans from the bank. Or if they, you know, it was very difficult. They didn’t have collateral, they didn’t have a lot of money, but he would help finance, or their organization did. So he did a lot for the people that, his, that belonged to his churches across the country. And, I don’t know this story completely, I just remember my father talking about it, that they arrested him for something, I don’t know, I think they thought he was flim-flamming his people. I don’t know why they arrested him. But when they were arguing the case, I remember something, somebody said something about a sign that he was a religious man, whatever. But anyway, in the middle of the trial, lightning struck a tree, and the tree fell on the courthouse. And I think he said, the judge said, “Case dismissed,” or something like that. But, those are just some of the stories. I remember that, he used to, he looked like he was larger than life, he was a big man. Long, long hair. And he had nails. His nails were so long they curled up, they were all curly, and they were painted red, white, and blue, which were the colors of the House of Prayer, too. And I just remember that. And he would just wave down the street, and he used to go down, I think it was First Street? Can’t remember, it was, I know it was the side of Second Ward High School. And he would just, he was up close, because the streets were narrow, so you really saw him close. But, he was a very, from what I remember as a child, a very charismatic man.
TP: Can you tell me about his fingernails?
DW: Just that they were very, very long, and curly on both hands, and he would just wave at you, look at you, like, “Hello there!” you know? And just waving and they were pointing and, as I said, they were all painted red, white, and blue, but I don’t know who did that. But they must have had a time doing it. ‘Cause I don’t know how long they were, you know how nails get a certain length, and then they start curling, they look like curly fries, you know? That’s what they look like.
TP: Did your mother have any stories about Daddy Grace, or…
DW: Yeah, she told me one. I think when he came to Salisbury, and she went to his, to the, to church, to one of his churches and he saw her, and he said, “Oh, there goes one of my angels. Get her! Get her!” She says she ran all around the church, because he wanted to take her, take her as one of his angels. And Momma, the only thing she said was, “Oh, Lord, my husband’s going to kill me!” [DW and TP laugh] She said, because she wasn’t supposed to be there, wherever she was going, she was always going somewhere. But she laughs about how he tried to kidnap her, quote “kidnap her.” But, she was going to be an angel.
TP: So, I understand, you know, back to the being a physician, your father being a physician, what- I remember your mother saying that, that, although, you know, you would think of a doctor today, that you know, they make a lot of money, you know, obviously with Medicaid, Medicare, all insurance, can you kind of explain the financial status of doctors back in the time of Brooklyn, or you know, back before civil rights?
DW: Well, I guess they, you know, being in, in a small business, is actually what they were, they were dependent on being paid, what, what their patients paid them. But, they had to pay their rent, they had to pay the mortgage on their house, they had to pay for their cars, and their families. So, they, while it was, I guess it would be a middle class life where you did pretty well. But again, you’re paid by what the patients could pay. And as I said earlier, it wasn’t unusual for them, for doctors to be paid with food, or paid over time. So that patients would come in sometimes and say, “Here’s a dollar on my bill.” Or, you know, surgery was only maybe a hundred or two hundred dollars, so they would pay that over time. “Here’s ten dollars on my bill,” so once a week or once a month they would come in and pay some money. So, pretty much like they do now, but, they were, they were good for their payments, but it just wasn’t a whole lot of money at one time, because you were really dependent upon the economic situation of your clients.
TP: That being said, I want to know about the cotillion you participated in, as a middle class, as a middle class society.
DW: Well, I have to say, first my sister was in one when she grew up with a few of the participants and- I think you said you talked with Vermelle Diamond and a couple other people, whose parents did quite well in Charlotte. And they had theirs, and then I had mine in sixty-something or another, where we participated. Our parents got together and had a cotillion just for us. And it was interesting because the kids were from Greensboro, Winston, Durham, and Charlotte. So, we got a chance to travel to all those cities and had different functions at each one to meet, you know, it’s supposed to be, quote, “introducing your daughter to society.” So it gave us, we got to meet people all over the state. And so I, I did enjoy that. And it was quite an affair. It was at the Charlotte Park Center, which is no longer there. It was over near the stadium, over on, over Independence Boulevard, over on Seventh Street, over that way. Somewhere in there. A lot of shows used to come through there. But we were all in our very long, white, gowns, and our fathers brought us out. And the funniest thing was all of us trying to learn to do the waltz. ‘Cause, you know, that was the time of the twist, and the jerk, and all that, and the pony, nobody knew how to do the waltz. And so we had lessons on how to do the waltz, that was pretty funny. We stepped on a lot of toes. The good thing about it, the dresses were wide and flowing, so nobody knew what you were doing. You just moved. It looked like you were moving nicely. But all our fathers had to teach us. They knew how to do the waltz, so, and they had to teach us how.
TP: And so what other etiquette- were there etiquette classes you had to take? What other things did they teach you for the cotillion?
DW: None that I remember, really. You know, they had luncheons, and things like that, and they probably said something about, you know, but. I know we did a few luncheons. But I don’t think we really did any, that I remember, any quote, “etiquette,” classes as such. I got that at Bennett when I was in college. [DW laughs]
TP: OK. As far as- what, what were other middle class groups that were here in Charlotte? For women?
DW: For women. Well, not necessarily for women, but we had the Jack and Jill, which had started, we were, I was in the, and my mom started the first chapter of Jack and Jill here in Charlotte. They had been around the country. I’m not sure where they started. But a group of women from Raleigh came down and started the chapter in Charlotte. And I was in the first teen group. So a lot of them started- so there were mostly doctor’s wives, preacher’s children, professors from the school, from Smith, the president of Smith, and those things, but we were all in the teen group. But Jack and Jill was a national organization so you got to travel and to meet people and that was kind of a middle class group I guess. And it’s still in existence today, and does quite well. It’s a, I found its value to be very important now. What I see for it now is children who live in predominantly white neighborhoods, and white schools. And I had a friend of mine and told her that she needed to get her daughter in Jack and Jill because she had to understand what it was to be black, to be black in America, and to have black children and friends to relate with. And it seemed to help her, so it has a value different today. For us, it was something to do, to get together to have a party, or do whatever. But now I see it as a different value for children. And it still has a good place. Can’t think of anything else that we belonged to. In high school, we had at the start of integration, or getting integration started, we had the National Conference of Christians and Jews, which brought together high school students from all over the city of Charlotte. White schools, black schools, because the schools were all segregated, but it gave us a chance to interact more together. They had the Junior Red Cross, where we would go to the Red Cross office. At that time, you strapped test tubes to blood vein bottles. That’s the way they gave it to you. The, the little test tube was to draw the blood to test it before they gave the regular blood. But again, it was a way of bringing all the students together from the city of Charlotte. I was in the band, and we used to have- I think we talked about the rivalry between West Charlotte and Second Ward, and the Queen City Classic, and I’m sure as you’ve gone and talked about people, they’ve talked about the Queen City Classic, that was a big thing. [DW and TP laugh] That was a big thing back then. So it was an annual football game between West Charlotte and Second Ward. And I think that was, I don’t know if I’ve hit everything. The mom- there were some organizations, the Moles, that my mother belonged to, which was a social club. And the Links, of course. She wasn’t a member of the Links, but she did belong to the Moles.
TP: What-the Moles were were a social club? And what did- was it like the Links, or …
DW: No, it was totally unlike the Links. It was more of a social party club, but it was a group of friends who got together once a month and had dinner, and entertained. But that was pretty much- it was just a social club. But the Links is more of a civic-type organization, where they raise money, they give money towards education and the arts, and, and to help children in school. So the Links have more, like sororities and fraternities, have more of a civic duty.
TP: What year was it when you chartered Jack and Jill?
DW: Oh, Lord, I don’t know. I had to be in, oh, goodness, must have been ’59. ’58, ’59, ’60, some where in that, in that range.
TP: And what percentage of the professionals that you knew, that your parents knew, if you can, for the best of your ability, that lived in Brooklyn?
DW: Lived in Brooklyn. I don’t know. Most of my friends kind of lived all over Charlotte. Lived in Brooklyn. I really don’t remember. I know a lot of my friends lived in First Ward with me, lived out here in Biddleville-it was called Biddleville then. And probably, I think, more of the ones that were older. More of my sister’s age group lived there. When she had her cotillion, she had it at the McCrory YMCA. But- that was at the YWCA, that was at the YMCA, it was probably the YMCA. I think more of the professional people lived in Brooklyn, teachers, and –lived there then, which was a little before my time. ‘Cause I can think back, some of the teachers that I can think of lived there, but, they, again, they were older than me.
TP: So, as far as the doctors, dentists, lawyers, business people, were the majority of their businesses in Brooklyn?
DW: I think all of the businesses were pretty much in Brooklyn. Because, I can remember, if you look at Brooklyn as being Brevard Street, First, Second Street, as I said, the, Daddy’s building was there, there was another building there, that’s still standing today, where a lot the doctors had their offices, and lawyers, attorneys. The churches, of course, were all over, but mostly in the Brooklyn and First Ward area. So, and I think the ministers lived in the range of their churches.
TP: So what year did your father move his office due to urban renewal?
DW: Let’s see, when did he move his office? I’m trying to think, was I- we moved here in 1959, the fall, and I think his office must have been moved in the ‘60s, I think I was in high school. So it must have been in the early ‘60s. And after they tore down all of the, the, the buildings in Brooklyn, that, Dr. Watkin’s building was torn down, he moved over here to, to Biddleville.
TP: Were they OK with that, or, did, was there, did it inconvenience them in any way?
DW: I’m sure it was an inconvenience to move all of that, and I, I just know he had to go, he didn’t have any place else to go. But, the Queen City Pharmacy, who was on Second Street, Mr. Phillips built a building over here on Beatties Ford Road. So Daddy and Dr. Wilkins moved over here. I think Dr. Lowe moved to another location. So as I said, the Queen City Pharmacy was, was in the building. It’s actually where the Beattie’s Ford or West End Fish Market is now. That’s the building he was in. And, it’s a church back from the building where his office was. So, and most of the patients were displaced too. So it didn’t matter that they were leaving that area, because there were no more people that they serviced. Most of the people that they serviced were moved to Biddleville, or to other areas around Charlotte. So, at that point, you know, more and more people had cars, so it was no need for them to stay where they were. The patients weren’t living near the offices anymore, so I’m sure that wasn’t an inconvenience for them.
TP: What is the fondest memory that you have of your father?
DW: I don’t think I have one in particular, because we used to do, I don’t know, a lot of stuff together, you know, going on calls. I don’t know, I think, I have a lot of memories. I can’t pick out one that was more than the other, ‘cause we did, you know, a lot of traveling together, and I guess, just having him around when I grew up. ‘Cause he did see me through, all the way up until I was married, and divorced, so he was with me a long time in my life.
TP: So, can you tell me a little bit about your father, his character?
DW: I don’t know how to answer all these questions, because you never think about them. He was, he was a disciplinarian, I know he wanted everything done. We laugh because I used to know, when I would do things wrong, I was always getting a spanking for one thing or another. But my dad only spanked me once, and that’s ‘cause I told him, he told me to do something and I just looked at him and said, “I ain’t.” And I must have been about five years old, and he chased me all over the house, I ran from him, so when he finally caught me I think he was a little mad. But that was the only time. [DW laughs] So, I don’t, I don’t know why I did that. But, after that, he could just kind of look at you, he had a very deep voice and big hands. So when he’d say do something, you kind of did it, and you didn’t think much about it. He loved medicine, we used to talk about people- he never really had any hobbies, other than, you know, other people had hobbies. Didn’t have hobbies. He just did medicine. He loved medicine. And I think he liked to practice, and that’s pretty much what his life revolved around. And we’d have dinner, and mom would be a nurse- our conversations were about his patients, or the day at the hospital, or you know, what was going on. But that was pretty much his, his conversation. He was very honest and told you what he was going to do and not do, and that’s the way it was. But I think he always- I knew he had a soft spot for me, ‘cause I could get most of what I wanted from him, as could my sister. So, although he could be gruff sometimes, he would just roll his eyes and just go, “OK.” And I remember one of the funniest things, when I was dating and I went out one night, and I made the mistake of not having my sweater with me. So I went in my room to get my sweater. And the young man I was going out with was standing in there, and he said, ‘Come here, boy.” And he looked at him and said, “Where you going?” And I just came out and I said, “Daddy, I told you where we were going, so leave him alone.” And he’d just go, [makes grumbling noise] “OK.” He would never say anything to me. And then, one other night, I had gone out, Daddy comes running out of the house with a gun in his hands. And the boy that was with me goes, “I, I, I, I, I…” And I’m like, laughing, I’m like, “Oh, my God, what is he up to now?” ‘Cause to me it was funny, and I don’t think the guy I was with thought it was very funny. And then he said, “Come with me! I think somebody’s trying to break into the house next door. Come and go with me.” And the boy was like, “Oh, OK, all right, sure!” [DW and TP laugh]. I guess he said, “I’d rather face a burglar than…” So, he was, he was kind of funny. And you know, he never thought, you know, I said, “Daddy, what were you thinking?” And he said, “I didn’t think about that. I was just-you just happened to drive up when I was going over there.” So, you know, we had some funny things like that. I guess I did have some favorite times.
TP: You did. Those are wonderful. OK, so I took a picture of a picture of, of a bridge party, and a fashion show. What group was that?
DW: It wasn’t. My mother and Mrs. Rand and Mrs. Williams, Lisette Williams, gave a bridge party. That was one of the things that they used to do. They were invited, so, they would give bridge parties. And this was at the Excelsior Club, which was at that time, quote, like the “country club for black people,” because they didn’t have one. But most of the parties and things, any dances, meetings, parties, was done at the Excelsior Club, and that was owned by Jimmy McKee. So it was known as a very nice place, where you could go and have a good time, have dinner, or whatever you wanted to have. But that was just a bridge party they had, and gave for people in Charlotte. Women, especially. So it wasn’t a, quote, “group,” it was just them returning their invitations.
TP: Well, I totally want to thank you for being, for doing this interview a second time, because, obviously, you know what happened to the last interview.
DW: You better look at the time, we might be running over.
TP: But, so is there anything else you want to add? And I also want to get your opinion on urban renewal, and how it happened, and if, as far as you can go, you know?
DW: I mean, urban renewal, I guess it was fine. It gave people better homes. The only thing it did was to disperse and displace a number of African-Americans. Because they didn’t do a lot of urban renewal, quote, in”white neighborhoods” that I remember. What you see in Brooklyn now is totally unlike what it was. It’s like the uptown area now, it’s all restaurants, and the arena, and larger churches. So it was like, black people always seem to have the town areas in most towns. And when they get ready to develop a town, the first people to move are usually African-Americans. So it moved them farther out. It made them have to go look for placing. They said they were going to give them better homes, but, yeah, they had to go find them themselves. They did Earle Village, but that just created more slums at that time. And it’s been torn down since, torn down and redeveloped, and nicer homes, I think. But it’s always African-Americans, their neighborhood, their culture. But it, it, once they tend, you know, divide and conquer, it moves you from your comfort zones, and where, and some people say, “Well, that’s good. We could do better.” But you never know. So, on a while, I guess it’s benefited people in the Charlotte area.
TP: OK. Well, I want to thank you again for being with me today. And this concludes our interview. Thank you, Diane Wyche.
DW: Thank you.
End of interview. Approximately 39 minutes.