Dolores Giles & Mary Poe
Dolores Giles and Mary Poe were interviewed at the same time.
Tape Log: Oral History Interview with Delores Giles & Mary Poe
Interviewed on Thursday, April 5 2007
Interviewed by Jennifer K. Payne..Dawn Funk, attending.
Interviewed for the Brooklyn to Biddleville Oral History Project
|Time||Description of Interview Contents|
|0.0||Introduction..What are your favorite memories of Brooklyn? YMCA.and Second Ward High School dances, House of Prayer baptisms, El Chico’s restaurant, Christmas Parade in downtown Charlotte.|
|5.0||Blue Heaven, the local tree, shotgun houses..Butler’s seafood, Covenant Presbyterian Church, women’s club..Funeral practices..Refrigeration and the ice man, ice houses.|
|10.0||Blue Heaven: boundaries..How was Blue Heaven different than other parts of Brooklyn?.Community patrol of children, close bond between neighbors..First Street: similar community structure as Blue Heaven..Pittman’s Grocery Store, convocation, Bob’s Donuts, Kress’ downtown donuts, downtown Belk’s cafeteria..Segregation between upstairs and downstairs cafeterias.|
|15.0||Belk’s cafeteria: segregation between upstairs and downstairs..Everyday life..Second Ward High School..Carver College.|
|20.0||Working in the cafeteria at Second Ward High School..Different classes available to males and females at Second Ward High School..Athletics at Second Ward High School..Queen City Classic.|
|25.0||Queen City Classic. York Road School versus Second Ward High School..Churches in Brooklyn..Crime on First Street.|
|30.0||Businesses on First Street..El Chico on Second Street..House of Prayer convocation..Daddy Grace..Makeshift restaurants during convocation.|
|35.0||House of Prayer: services and music..Second Ward High School reunions. Second Ward High School destruction..Urban renewal: how was urban renewal presented to the residents of Brooklyn?|
|40.0||Urban renewal: what were the residents promised?.How did the residents find out about urban renewal?.How did the community feel about urban renewal?.Was Brooklyn a slum? What parts of the community were considered to be slums?|
|45.0||What parts of Brooklyn were considered by the residents to be slums? Opportunities to work as a child in Brooklyn..Community policing and education of children in Brooklyn. Dances at the YMCA..Wrapping the Maypole.|
|50.0||Fraternal organizations..Debutante ball..Brooklyn characters: Mr. Benson, Ms. Walker..Funeral homes acting as ambulatory services.|
|55.0||Funeral homes as ambulatory services..Alexander, Grier, and Long Mortuaries. Funeral practices..Celebrations in Brooklyn: weddings and baptisms.|
|60.0||Weddings in York, SC versus church weddings..|
Mary Poe & Delores Giles
Interviewed at University City Public Library, Charlotte, NC
April 5, 2007
Interviewer: Payne, Jennifer
Transcription completed: 17 April, 2007
Transcriber: Jennifer Payne
Editor: Karen Flint
Setting Description: University City Public Library (Reference Section), Charlotte, North Carolina.
JP: Jennifer Payne
MP: Mary Poe
DG: Delores Giles
DF: Dawn Funk
JP: Today is April fifth, 2007, and I’m here interviewing Mary Poe and Delores Giles for the Brooklyn Oral History Project in conjunction with Atkins library at UNC-Charlotte. My name is Jennifer Payne, and we are using the Edirol number two recorder. Good evening ladies.
MP: Good evening.
DG: Good evening.
JP: Thank you so much for coming today. I’d like to start just by asking, Ms. Poe and Ms. Giles, about your memories growing up in Brooklyn. What do you remember the most about living there and growing up there?
MP: Well I remember I really enjoyed going to the Y on Wednesday nights, then on Saturday mornings getting up and going to the gym for dancing- they’d give that every Saturday. And also, once a year, when the House of Prayer was on McDowell Street, I used to enjoy going down there and watching the parade, and looking at them baptize people across the street in the creek. And going to the restaurant- the restaurant was called El Chico’s, and eating bologna sandwiches, but at that time, they were called mincemeat sandwiches, but they were delicious with slaw and ketchup. And just walking around, and going to the movies, going to the Christmas parade- we always walked downtown for that. And just having a good time. You know, things weren’t like they are today. You know, kids would get together, we always had things to do. And if you were standing around, there was always something to do.
JP: So you were never at a loss for something to do?
MP: No, no.
JP: You said on Saturday that you would go to the gym and dance. Was that at the high school or at the gym…
MP: At the high school -at Second Ward.
JP: OK. And they would have dances there every Saturday?
MP: Almost every Saturday. We would go down there and we would do line dancing, or, we would, just, you know, we would take your hands and just swing dance, or just pop your fingers and dance, you know?
JP: Now, was that a dance that the school put on or was it just a neighborhood, anyone could come…?
MP: Anyone could come, because the different schools across town, like West Charlotte, would come over, and York Road would come over, am I right [to Ms. Giles]? And, let’s see, West Charlotte, York Road, Sterling, and they all would come and just have a good time on Saturdays.
JP: So, was it all kids, though? Like, school age…?
MP: All kids. All school kids, all schoolkids.
JP: And you’d get out there and do line dances..?
MP: Line dances- any kind of dance you wanted to do.
JP: Well that sounds like a lot of fun.
MP: Yes, it was, and, but that’s what they need to be doing now with the kids now to get them out of the street.
MP: But they don’t do any of those things now.
JP: Just give them something to do?
JP: To keep them occupied.
MP: Yes, exactly.
JP: You know, I’ve heard a little bit about this El Chico’s restaurant too. El Chico’s keeps coming up in all of the conversations we have with people, and I haven’t asked yet- what kind of restaurant was it? Did they serve…
MP: They served home-cooked meals, sandwiches- all types of sandwiches- but really good home-cooked meals. And their mincemeat sandwiches, how much were they back then? Fifteen cents or twenty-five cents? About twenty-five cents, and they would put slaw and ketchup on the bologna. It was this big, it was this thick slice of bologna, about like that thick[motions about an inch thick with her fingers]. And it was the kind that you would buy in one of those long rolls, and they would fry it in between two pieces of bread with slaw and ketchup. Oh my goodness.
JP: That sounds so good.
MP: Oh my goodness. And don’t leave out the Coke.
JP: The Coke- you have to have the Coke.
MP: With the top, where you have to [makes popping motion]..
JP: In the glass bottle…
MP: In the glass bottle.
JP: Was it a big restaurant? Or was it pretty small?
MP: It was sitting on the side of the House of Prayer. It was like a grill- wasn’t it like a grill, Lores?[ to Ms. Giles]. Sitting connected to the House of Prayer. On McDowell Street. And the House of Prayer at that time was sitting there where they have- what’s the name of that park?
DG: Marshall Park.
MP: Marshall Park, well, that’s where the House of Prayer was sitting.
JP: So, Ms. Giles, what about you? Do you- what are your fondest memories of growing up in Brooklyn?
DG: My fondest memories are- well, I was born on Ridge Street, it was in Blue Heaven, where we didn’t have but three little rooms, and we used to sit up underneath the house…
MP: Oh my God, it was sitting up on them high bricks…
DG: Yup, we would sit up underneath the house, and we had a creek, and we had this tree. And we called it the local tree, with long, brown little things, and we used to go down and shake the local tree. And in order for us to have a swing, we used to take long ropes that people used to have and throw the rope up in the tree and put a tie on it. And we would swing from the local tree, ‘cause I got hurt on the local tree (unclear). But, then, at first I lived with my grandmother, and then, my grandmother and my two brothers. We lived with my grandmother in a little three room house. And then, when I got up some size, I went to live with my mother when I was in the fifth grade. And I stayed with my mom up until I finished school in ’64.
JP: So, later on, when you went to live with your mom, you lived on Alexander Street, right?
DG: I lived on Alexander Street.
JP: But you started off in this area called Blue Heaven?
DG: I started off in the area called Blue Heaven.
JP: And we…
DG: That’s where the Butler’s Seafood was, Covenant Presbyterian Church, and the Veteran’s Club, and the women’s club was right there, so we, our house was in the back of those buildings. And there was a fence across, and there was a school. The school is still up there on Morehead Street. That’s where the church school was- right next door to the Charlotte Women’s Club. And this lady named Miss Marie used to work for the veteran’s club, so whenever she would serve parties and stuff like that for the big people up there, she would call us down at the fence. And we would go down up underneath the fence, and she would bring us food, and it was food from down underneath the fence. It was, it was something, and we used to go down there all the time. The when, if, and I know this is the wrong thing to say, but if- you never when when people are going to pass away at your house, you know. And they used to bring peoples home- at your house. And they used to cover all the mirrors with white sheets and stuff so people, I don’t know what they’d cover the mirrors for, but they used to cover the mirrors and stuff. Because they used to bring the family members home, at that time.
MP: Bodies would be sitting in the living room overnight.
JP: Instead of taking them to the funeral home?
DG: They would bring them home. Because they wouldn’t- they didn’t do that back then. They would put them up in your house.
JP: Well, do you know why they did that?
DG: Well, I don’t know whether or not, the funeral home, the funeral home was so small, they didn’t have really places, places to put them. And you had to keep your house cool, you know.
DG: And this stuff- people would have to sit up all night long with the family members and stuff while it was in the house- the body. The body would be right there in the living room.
MP: Could you do that now?
JP: I could not. I could not.
MP: With the casket open?
JP: No. [laughs] I really couldn’t, I really couldn’t. But I guess it’s, I mean, when you grow up doing something like that, I guess it becomes normal for you, right?
DG: Yes it does. And back then, we didn’t have what we have now. We had little coal stoves, and we had to cut wood, and then we didn’t have refrigerators back then. We had the block of ice. And the ice man would come by and sell the ice, about a dollar a block. And you had this ice pick that you would chip the ice off…
MP: And you’d put it in the ice box.
DG: And you’d put it in the ice box. ‘Cause you see back then we didn’t have an ice box like the refrigerators you have today.
JP: Well, so how long would a block of ice last? Would you get one every day? Or would you get one…
DG: Every day or every other day.
JP: Every day or every other day?
JP: And do you remember the ice man? Do you remember who he was?
DG: Oh my goodness.
JP: Was he somebody that lived in the neighborhood?
MP: I think one of them could have been the ice house over there off McDowell- on 36th Street.
DG: No, see we had one over there on Trade Street too.
MP: Yes. On the left. And there also was one on 36th Street.
DG: On 36th Street.
JP: So one on Trade and one on 36th?
DG: But the one on Trade Street- that’s the more, that’s the real, real, old one.
JP: So, I’m wondering if you know why Blue Heaven was called Blue Heaven? And, also, I guess, I’m wondering where that area was. What, like, what streets were the boundaries, do you remember?
DG: What was the boundaries of Blue Heaven? Ridge Street, Vance Street, Congo Street, and once you go across the bridge, that was it.
JP: Across the swinging bridge?
DG: Yeah, once you go across that bridge, then that was it. And there was Crawford Street and all of them, that wasn’t Blue Heaven. Once you came across the bridge, you was in Blue Heaven.
JP: What made Blue Heaven Blue Heaven? Why was it called that?
DG: You know what? I’ll tell you what I’ll do- I’ll ask my aunt.
DG: ‘Cause she’d probably be able to tell me more about it than I can. ‘Cause I don’t know.
JP: So, it’s just been called Blue Heaven for so long…
DG: It’s been called Blue Heaven all, all, all…
MP: That’s all we say. Blue Heaven.
JP: Right. Well, what made that area different than other parts of Brooklyn?
DG: Well, for one, everybody was close knit. We were close knit families, but, that area, you could just go, you could leave your door open and be sure that wherever you wanted to go, things would just stay there. Your kids would- you tell your kids to do this, this, and this, and they did it. If they did not do it like you said or it was out of place, then them other parents would spank our fanny, and then we still get another spanking when we got home. [laughter]
MP: That’s right!
JP: Oh, that’s not fair!
DG: It was a close bond, a close bond…bond family.
JP: So, everybody in the neighborhood would watch out for everybody else in the neighborhood?
DG: Yes, yes. Everybody watched out for everybody else. You did not come across that bridge if nobody didn’t know you was up in that area.
JP: Right. Well, was it the same way for you growing up on First Street, Ms. Poe?
MP: Yes. You know, we’d sit on the porch. You know, you can sit on the porch and see everything. We had two chairs and a table and we’d just sit out there and see everything that was going on. Friday night and Saturday night everything would be going on. Fried fish, because on First Street it was restaurants up and down the street, all restaurants. People hanging, you know, hanging out, and, you know… getting smashed. [laughter]
DG: They had Pittman’s Grocery Store.
MP: Pittman’s? Where was Pittman’s at?
DG: Up on First Street.
MP: Oh, Pittman’s.
DG: Up on First and Davidson. We had Pittman’s grocery store up and, and now when we used to have convocation, that’s what they called when the House of Prayer would have the big parades, and the big parade would come all the way down First Street. All the way down First Street, from First Street to McDowell Street.
MP: And then, sometimes it would come up Fourth Street by the courthouse.
DG: That was after they moved- after they moved.
MP: OK, after they moved.
DG: And then we had Bob the donut place on McDowell Street. They used to sell donuts.
MP: Those were the best donuts. (laughter)
DG: But, you know, before they did all that- we used to have Kress’s downtown, and I know I’m probably getting way off now.
JP: Oh, you’re doing wonderfully…
DG: But Kress’s…
JP: We love all this.
DG: But Kress’s used to be right downtown- where the Nationsbank is sitting- right up there on the corner. And…
MP: And you could sit in there, and you could go in there….
DG: And you could see them making the donuts. (unclear)
MP: And eat breakfast too.
JP: And they’d be hot.
MP: Oh, yes.
JP: I’d bet they’d just melt right in your mouth, huh?
MP: Yes, yes. They tore up history downtown. But I guess you have to adapt to change.
JP: I guess you do. I, that’s what they say.
MP: History is gone.
DG: When my grandmother used to get off from work, she’d come, she’d come, she used to tell us when she’d be going that morning, she used to tell us that, “meet me downtown in front of Belk’s.” And we’d go to Belk’s. You know, we’d go to Belk’s at least once or twice a week. But mostly through the week, because she wouldn’t go downtown on the weekends. So we’d meet her downtown on the bus at Belk’s. And we’d know we were going there to eat us a good meal. But, see, we ate downstairs, we did not eat upstairs in the cafeteria. We’d eat downstairs.
JP: And what, what…was this in Belk’s that they had an eating place?
MP: Oh, yes.
JP: And, so they had a downstairs and an upstairs. And then downstairs was where they made the African-Americans eat?
MP: Exactly. I used to work at Belk’s.
JP: Oh, did you?
MP: I worked in the cafeteria. I made the salads and the fruit plates.
JP: Oh, how about that?
MP: When I was carrying my daughter.
JP: What, do you remember about what year that was?
MP: Marcia was born in ’63, so it had to be around ’61 or ’60.
DG: ’61, ’62. Because that was before Marcia was born.
MP: Yes, yes, it was before my daughter was born.
JP: So, getting back to…
DG: So, she’d eat more [laughter].
JP: Well, getting back to this restaurant that they had at Belk’s. Were the.. how were the upstairs and the downstairs dining rooms different?
MP: They had just regular, you know, dining tables, with four chairs. Leather chairs. Well, they weren’t leather, but, you know…
JP: Right. Like, covered in…
MP: Yeah, yeah. And it was four. And the ones… And, and, you know what else? Upstairs in Belk it was like a grill too. Here down to the back. It was a long grill that you could go up there and sit down and order sandwiches. And sit at- what I call it the bar- the counter, and sit down and eat. But downstairs it was just a typical restaurant.
JP: Right. Like a restaurant you would find in Brooklyn?
DG: We had to do that at Kress’s and at Woolworth. At Kress’s we would go downstairs and eat. At Woolworth we would go downstairs and eat.
MP: In both places.
DG: In all three places, that’s where we would go.
JP: Well, you said, Ms. Giles, you said that you would meet your mom at Belk’s a couple times a week…
MP: Her grandmother.
DG: My grandmother.
JP: Your grandmother, I’m sorry.
DG: When we would get out of school, first, we would go home first and we had to change our clothes first. And then, but if we didn’t get dirty we could keep them on. But if we going to meet her downtown we kept our school clothes on. But after that, if we didn’t need to go downtown, we could change out of our school clothes and put on our other clothes, that’s what we had to do. But, yeah, we would go downtown, and that was nice.
JP: Did your grandmother work downtown?
DG: No, she worked for the McColls and the Foglemans. They lived over there on Sedgefield Road. I’d never forget it- I know where the house is right now. And she worked for the McColls, and they owned First Citizens, Citizens Bank.
JP: Oh, OK. And so, I guess I’m kind of wondering about what your everyday life was sort of like. So when you were in high school, when you were in Second Ward, what was a day like for you? You’d wake up, and I know you said that you’d have to cut wood and this sort of thing for the fires, would you do that before school? How would your day progress?
DG: No, my brothers and those would have to cut wood. That was their job to cut the wood, but in order for me to have, to play with them and do what they did, I would have to, I told them I would help them cut it so I could go play with them. And, but, my grandmother wouldn’t allow me to go play with them because I was the only girl at that time.
JP: Oh, so she was just keeping a special eye out for you?
DG: But I still went and played with them. [laughter] Yes I still went and played with them. She had this little lady to keep me in the afternoons, after school, in the afternoons, but I wouldn’t want to stay with her. I would want to go play with my brothers.
JP: And, what about you Ms. Poe? When you woke up in the morning, what was your day like?
MP: Okay, when we lived with my grandparents, we lived in the country. Up there off of 29, that’s where we was living. And we had pigs, and every Thanksgiving my grandfather would slaughter two pigs, him and one of my cousins. And what they would do, they would take the hot water and put it over one of the pigs, scald the pig, and they would scrape all the hair off the pig.
JP: Oh, my goodness.
MP: And then they would split it open and put the intestines in a big old tub. And myself and my grandmother and my sister, we would- well, I don’t want to say that on there [points to the microphone]. We would squeeze all the stuff out and we would put water in them and rinse them back and forth. And we would have to do that and plus we had a farm. And we had all the vegetables, and we would pick the vegetables with my grandmother when we got out of school. And on Saturdays, we would come, come down to Charlotte and we would peddle all that stuff. And then when I moved to Charlotte, when I went to Second Ward, well, you know, I just had a good time in school. And, you know, going to class, meeting new people. You know, just normal (unclear).
JP: Was Second Ward a big school?
MP: Yeah, it was…
DG: Yeah, it was real big. We had automechanics, and brickmasons- the guys did all that. Yeah we had everything at that school. Computers…
MP: Everything. Wasn’t there a computer?
DG: Everything. We had everything to learn at that one school. Second Ward was, after, we had, it was a college. A school during the day and a college at night.
JP: Oh, OK.
MP: It was called Carver College.
JP: I see.
DG: Carver College at night, yeah.
JP: So, Carver College was actually held in Second Ward High School?
JP: I always thought it was a separate building altogether. I didn’t know…
MP: Same building.
DG: It was the same building. My door was just like how we are sitting, and I could sit on the front porch and hear the bell ring. And then I’d go to school. And if it was time for me to eat lunch, and there wasn’t anything in the cafeteria that I liked, then I would come home and eat lunch, and then I would go back to school. That’s what I would do.
JP: So, do you remember what kind of food they would serve in the cafeteria?
DG: Well now, on holidays, we would have good food. When we went home for Thanksgiving break, and stuff like that, they would give us turkey, dressing, all this stuff…
DG: Use to have good food on the holidays. It was pretty good but it wasn’t as good as on the holidays. And then, if you was in the sixth grade, you could work in the cafeteria. And that’s where you got a lot of food- if you worked in the cafeteria. But you had to be in the sixth grade if you worked in the cafeteria.
MP: Big old homemade cookies, hot dogs and hamburgers.
MP: But the hot dogs tasted better than the hot dogs taste now.
JP: Oh, really?
MP: Yes, for some reason they were delicious.
DG: It was good.
JP: I wonder why they were so much better?
MP: Grilled cheese sandwiches. Because, you know, they had the real grilled cheese. The stuff that they have now has a lot of preservatives in it. But back then…
DG: See, they use to cook it on top of the grill and stuff. They used to cook everything on top of the grill.
JP: There were no microwaves, and…
DG: No microwaves…
JP: None of that, right.
MP: No, no.
JP: Well, you said that the boys at school got to take classes in automechanics and woodworking and…
DG: Three hours. Three hours. Three hours each day. Three class periods each day.
JP: And all the boys had to do that?
DG: If they wanted to. They could do auto mechanics, they could do brick masonry, the could do shoe repairing…
MP: All of that. ‘Cause my husband took up shoe repair. I still have his certificate. He’s deceased, he’s been deceased now quite a while.
JP: But, so, so these young men would come out of school with a trade. They would be able to leave high school and get a job somewhere…
DG: I know a guy right now who has his own business, he was a brick mason. Otis Brown- he has his own business. Sure does. Pop Corn (?) he was the instructor.
JP: And, I mean, that’s a great trade, too…
DG: It really is…
JP: You’re really set for life if you can learn that sort of thing in school.
MP: Exactly, exactly.
JP: Well, what did they do for the girls then? What kind of classes did the girls take?
DG: They had, we could go to West Charlotte for cosmetology. Or we had…economics…home economics.
MP: I’ll tell you what I had that I enjoyed was home economics…
DG: Home economics…
JP: Home economics.
MP: I sewed and, that was my first time I learned how to fix baked beans, but I did it from scratch. You put the white dried beans and navy beans-,you get those done. Then you put your other ingredients in there to make- what kind of beans did I say?
DG: White and navy beans.
MP: Another kind of beans- when you put all that other kind of stuff in it.
DG: Pork and beans.
JP: The pork and beans?
MP: Yes. But I enjoyed those cooking classes. And sewing…
DG: That’s what the girls could do.
MP: And sewing, and cooking…
DG: We had sewing, and then you could go to West Charlotte for home…for..to do hair.
JP: Did you go to West Charlotte to do cosmetology?
DG: I didn’t want that.
JP: And did you, Ms. Poe?
MP: No, I didn’t want hair. I did cooking and sewing.
DG: We was doing cooking and sewing.
JP: Cooking and sewing.
DG: Yeah, that’s what we was doing.
MP: That’s what I…
DG: And I was…I mostly played sports and stuff. I’d be in the gym playing basketball and stuff like that. I didn’t…
JP: Did they have teams for the girls to play sports on?
MP: Did they?
DG: We didn’t have a girl’s team.
MP: We didn’t back then. There wasn’t any girl’s team.
JP: They wouldn’t give you a girl’s team, no? But they did have boy’s basketball and football. Because in football they would have the Queen City Classic, right?
MP: Yes, yes.
DG: The Queen City Classic was at Memorial Stadium.
JP: At Memorial Stadium.
MP: And West Charlotte was our competition.
JP: Like your big rival?
MP: Yes, yes.
DG: And we used to go to the funeral home. The funeral home was right across the street- there was Grier’s funeral home. And when it was time for the, for homecoming. And we would go over to the funeral home and get the, get a casket from the funeral home. And then we would bring it over to the school.
MP: They loved to bring it over to the school.
DG: And we’d put this guy in it and we would dress him up…
MP: That was terrible, that was terrible [laughter].
DG: We’d put him in there and dress him up…
JP: Oh, that sounds great. Dress him up in the West Charlotte uniform and colors and that sort of thing, right?
MP: Yeah, and we’d act like we killed him.
JP: Right [laughter].
MP: Oh, yes, we sure would.
JP: So, were the Queen City Classic and homecoming- is that the same game?
MP: It was two different games.
JP: Two different games. Was homecoming as big as the Classic was?
DG: The Classic was the biggest.
JP: The Classic was the biggest. So I imagine that everyone came from all over Charlotte to see that.
DG: As long as we were playing that Queen City Classic, we know we playing West Charlotte. We know we playing West Charlotte.
JP: Do you know how it started? The Queen City Classic?
MP: Who got that name? Why did they….
DG: We were the only two schools to my knowledge. But I’ll tell you what- I’ll find out for you and let you know.
JP: Okay. That’d be great. I’d be really interested in that- in finding out…
DG: I’ll find out, find that out and let you know.
JP: ‘Cause you hear so much about it, and I just kind of wonder when it started and that sort of thing.
DG: We were the only two schools and then when York Road came along, then York Road started playing.
JP: In the Queen City Classic?
MP: It was always another school and another team.
JP: I see.
DG: It was always Second Ward and West Charlotte.
JP: OK, right. And then York Road would play somebody else.
JP: I see. I see. So, Ms. Giles, you said that you went to York Road for a year- just for a year…
DG: Couldn’t stand it.
JP: You couldn’t stand it- well, how was it different than Second Ward?
DG: The one reason why I went to York Road was because the busses was on strike.
DG: And another thing, Second Ward did not have seventh grade and that was the only school that I could have gone to. Either I could have caught the bus and went to West Charlotte, or go to York Road. So, they sent us to York Road instead.
DG: So, they used to have a city bus that would pick us up right there at the school and take us right down there to York Road. And then, but after that….
JP: As soon as you could go back to Second Ward…
DG: As soon as I can get back there, I’m fine. That was it for me.
JP: Well, why did you like it so much better there?
DG: Second Ward? Well, one reason was that- the only thing that I kept hearing was Second Ward, Second Ward, Second Ward. And my aunt went to Second Ward, and I said, “Oh gracious, I definitely want to go to Second Ward.” My brother was up there, and I said, “Now y’all know that I got to get up there some kind of way.” So, after that, I went to Second Ward.
MP: Yeah, but everything was good at Second Ward. The choir was good…
DG: We had a good choir.
MP: The band was good, we had a good football, basketball team…
DG: Mr. Page.
MP: you know, I’ll never forget. I went out for a pom-pom girl.
JP: Did you?
MP: And he picked me and everything. And I went home and I was telling my mama about it, and she made me get off it. And I was so mad. I couldn’t even march. I could just see myself in this bunny outfit. Black, with the white ball back there for the tail. (unclear) And she made me get off of that- I couldn’t even be a pom-pom girl.
JP: Why didn’t she want you to be a pom-pom girl?
MP: She was really strict…
DG: They were too fast, she said they were being too fast.
JP: Oh, so the pom-pom girls had a little bit of a reputation?
DG: She said the dresses were too short, that the dresses were too short.
MP: So I didn’t get to participate in nothing.
DG: I used to go round there and get them out of the house.
JP: Well, so what kind of things did your mom want you to participate in?
DG: Church stuff.
MP: Church stuff.
DG: We used to go to St. Paul for…
MP: Yeah, I went to St. Paul all the time.
DG: Yeah, but we used to go on Wednesday nights…
MP: For Bible study.
DG: And we used to have Wednesday night as children’s night. I used to go to church with her on Wednesday nights.
JP: But then on Sundays…
DG: On Sundays I went to my church.
MP: She went to her church. And I went to my church on Sundays.
JP: So you went to St. Paul’s, Ms. Poe. And Ms. Giles, what church did you go to?
DG: I went to Shallow.
MP: On Sunday.
DG: That was down there on Hill Street by the domestic laundry.
JP: OK, OK. And do you remember there being a lot of churches in Brooklyn?
DG: You got Stonewall and Ebeneezer, you had Stonewall, you had Friendship…
MP: Little Rock…
DG: You had Little Rock, you had Bethel…
MP: Did you call St. Paul’s?
DG: And St. Paul.
MP: So how many is that?
DG: Six, that we had over there in Brooklyn.
MP: And plus, that church in Cherry. That’s considered Brooklyn too, no, that’s a different thing…
DG: No, that’s over in Cherry.
JP: Were there…I don’t know how to word this. Did people associate themselves to be in the group of the church that they went to? I mean, was the community divided at all depending on what kind of church you went to? Which church you went to?
DG: You visited any church you wanted to…
MP: Any church you wanted to.
JP: So everybody just came and went into all…
MP: Exactly. All that kind of good stuff. And we also went to the theater on Second Street…
DG: The Lincoln Theater…
MP: Yeah, we would go on Second Street. Yeah, we would go to that theater too.
JP: After you went to church on Sundays?
MP: Well, that would be like maybe Saturday during the day.
JP: Oh, OK.
DG: You couldn’t hardly do nothing at night…
MP: Everything had to be done during the day.
JP: Why couldn’t you do anything during the night?
MP: My mother…
DG: ‘Cause it was too dark and bad, so we couldn’t go…
MP: My mother wouldn’t let us out, so…
JP: She was taking care of you, huh?
MP: You had to do it in the light.
JP: Well, was it a dangerous place on Saturday nights? I heard that Second Street was a really big…
MP: First Street was really bad. I didn’t want to bring that up, but First Street was really an active street from Friday to Saturday. It was a very active street.
JP: And you said that’s where a lot of the businesses were, right? Restaurants all the way up and down?
MP: Yes, restaurants, drinking and stuff like that.
JP: And so then on Second Street, is that where the clubs were and the theater…
MP: It was just the theater…
DG: And then McDowell Street up by the, by the House of Prayer. El Chico, that’s what she’s talking about. But yeah, it was the hot spot. The El Chico was the hot spot.
MP: It was a hot spot.
DG: That’s where you….
MP: Nice looking men, but they were much older than what we were…
DG: They were older, yeah…
JP: Right, right, right. Well, what about this House of Prayer parade? You both mentioned the House of Prayer parade I think…
JP: It was called convocation?
MP: They were celebrating their Daddy in town….
DG: Which was called…
MP: Daddy Grace. And that’s how, you know, they would play lots and lots of beautiful, beautiful music.
DG: And gowns, oh my.
MP: And gowns. And gowns, and gowns.
JP: So all the women would really dress up for it?
MP: Just for this, yes. And they would keep him fanned, you know, he was sitting up there and they would keep him fanned. And then, they gave a lot of money, they would give him a lot of money.
DG: You couldn’t say anything bad about him, or anything like that. Especially to his people. Because his people used to wear or have a, you’d see his picture on the door, or somewhere in their house, or whatever, and all that kind of stuff. And whatever they had it they had a fish fry or anything like that they were “We’re doing this here for Daddy, we’re doing this for Daddy.” And whenever they would say, you know, “Praise the Lord, Daddy, Daddy helped me do this, Daddy helped me do that.”
MP: Everything’s Daddy.
JP: Right. So he was a really huge personality, it sounds like.
MP: Oh, yes.
DG: Oh, yes. Oh, yes. He still is up until today.
JP: Yeah, absolutely.
MP: But, you know, the ones that they have now at the main House of Prayer up on Beatties Ford Road, he’s not like that…he’s not like Daddy Grace.
DG: ‘Cause, see, he would, he would come out, and he lived right where we called….El Chico’s, him and his house was right there. And he would come outside and let you see him, and honey, you talk about nails…
DG: …Nails was red, blue, and white.
DG: Yes. Red, blue and white.
JP: All the time? He always had them red, white and blue?
DG: And long hair- he had beautiful hair.
MP: And he had a long beard, and he would come out sometime in a hat and a white suit, but, and his house was pink, remember? Pink and white? He had a big old pink and white house.
JP: Where was that? Where was the house?
MP: It was beside the House of Prayer.
JP: Oh, OK. And it was big? It was like, two stories?
MP: Oh, yes. Because when the big folks would come into town from other states, they would stay in there.
JP: Right .
DG: It’s just like they do now. They come into town. But they don’t have the things like they used to have. They still have convocation, but it’s not like it used to be on McDowell. ‘Cause you could walk down the street, and this house got fish, selling fish, this house got chicken, this house selling this, that, and the other. I mean, you wouldn’t get hungry because you had no reason to be hungry. ‘Cause there’s all the food, right there.
JP: So people would actually sell the food out of their houses during the parade…
DG: Oh, yeah, yeah.
JP: And people would just follow the parade, and stop and eat….
MP: It would be so many people there on McDowell Street..
DG: Oh, you talking about people? Gracious…
MP: And plus they baptized across the street in the creek…
JP: Oh, yeah.
MP: In the creek.
DG: In the creek.
JP: Yeah. Well, I mean, I’ve heard so much about the House of Prayer, and about Daddy Grace. And everybody seems to have different opinions about whether, you know, he was good for the community, or whether he was kind of a showman, you know?
MP: But they would always say, “But, his people was crazy about him.”
MP: And you had to watch how you pronounced yourself. So, in other words, you never knew who was beside you.
DG: Who was beside you.
DG: You had to really be careful.
MP: And that’s like that now.
DG: It’s just like that, right to today.
DG: You don’t say anything…
JP: Anything bad.
MP: You have to watch, because you don’t know who belongs to the House of Prayer.
DG: You see how many missions they have…
DG: And they’re building another one…
MP: On Sugar Creek.
DG: …and it’s larger than any of the other missions.
DG: Yes. Yes, yes, yes, yes.
MP: You know, every now and then, if you all can, you ought to go and visit it one Sunday.
JP: The House of Prayer?
MP: Yeah, hey, just go in and sit down- they don’t mind you coming in. And just go in and sit in there for a little while, and just listen to the music. And that music, you know (unclear)…
DG: But don’t go for a funeral though (unclear)…
JP: What was that?
DG: You’ll be in there all day and all night.
JP: They have long services, huh?
DG: Oh, honey, I mean, long, long…my sister, my sister-in-law’s mother, grandmother passed away. And I rushed out to church, I don’t want to be late, I want to get there on time, I did not eat. And when we got ready to go to the cemetery it was five o’clock. I said, “I’ll never come back!” [laughs] It’s an all day thing. But they make you feel, they make you feel like…family, you know what I’m saying?
MP: They do. But what you all should do is…
DG: They make you feel like family. And right to today, they bought the McDowell’s cafeteria, they bought the hotel, and they got that for senior citizens. I mean, they believe in taking care of their people, and the people believe in taking care of their own.
JP: Right, right.
DG: They would do that, they would do that.
MP: Well, maybe one Sunday, if you all are free, when they finish the one down there, well Delores and I could meet you over there.
JP: Absolutely, I’d love to. We were, Dawn and I were actually talking about going for dinner one night, to see if we could meet some more people who might be interested in the project…
MP: Where? To the House of Prayer?
JP: At the House of Prayer on Beatties Ford.
DG: Efird Kneely.
MP: Efird? Would he know anybody?
DG: Efird? He belongs to the House of Prayer.
MP: Oh, yeah, he belongs to the House of Prayer. But one Sunday we would like to meet you. And you know, that music- ‘cause we had our family reunion, and one of my family members belonged to the House of Prayer. So, in other words, that Sunday, when we went up to that one off of Mallard Creek- it’s just a small branch- and I’m telling you, that music! Lord, if you sit up….
DG: And those choirs can really sing, too.
MP: If you sit up there and listen…to that music. I mean, you can, some of those songs, when they pray, is anointed over some of that music. If you sit up there and just listen you can feel the anointing.
JP: It just really moves you, huh?
MP: Oh, yeah, so we’re going to go there, we’re going to meet them there one Sunday.
JP: I’d love to, I’d love to. You let me know.
DG: Let me know, if I’m not busy, let me know.
JP: You just let me know.
DG: I try not to be busy, but I…I’m getting ready to do the reunion again this year, so I..
JP: For…Second Ward?
DG: Trying to get her to do something if I can, but, it’s hard, though.
JP: Do you still have a lot of folks who still come to the reunions?
DG: Yes, quite a few.
MP: From out of town.
DG: Quite a few. We’re going with the class of ’47…’37,’ 37, ’47, and ’57, and ’67. Those are the classes that will be at the reunion this year. And we do have, three, as it stands now, we got three or four people that I do know that was at the reunion last year, that came out of the class of ’37 and ‘47. Right now that I know of. So quite a few.
JP: Well, and it sounds like Second Ward must have really meant a lot to these people to come back seventy years later, right?
MP: Oh, yes. Oh, yes. I miss Second Ward. They have built that (unclear) new school. What is that they put over there?
DG: That is for, where they got…Metro. See, Metro- the gym is still there. And some other part of the school is still there. But they said that they were not going to tear down Second Ward. The only thing they was going to do, they was to change the name. The name was going to be Metropolitan Senior High School. And it was not done. And I told them too. “You all did not say that. I was sitting right there when you said it. You said the name would be changed, and the only thing that would be..would be Metropolitan Senior High School. That’s what it’s supposed to be.”
JP: Well, who did you say that to?
DG: Lord only knows who all I said it to.
JP: So, everybody that would listen, really.
JP: You said “You didn’t really do what you promised you were going to do.”
DG: Yeah, they didn’t.
JP: Well, let me ask you. When, do you remember, you both lived in this neighborhood all the way through this period of urban renewal. And Ms. Giles, you said your house was one of the last ones to be torn down in your area of the neighborhood, so it was your house and Second Ward High School. Just standing there by themselves while everything else was gone. How, how did they present this idea of urban renewal to your families? Did they say that, you know, we’re going to redevelop the neighborhood? And that you’ll have a place to move….
MP: They said we had to find somewhere to go.
DG: They said we had to find somewhere to go.
MP: And my parents found this house off of Graham, which was called McColl Street, and so that’s where they lived. And then they tore that down. And then they bought a house over there off The Plaza, and my mother’s been over there ever since.
JP: So, your parents moved from Brooklyn over to Graham Street, and then that became part of the urban renewal project.
MP: Exactly. exactly.
JP: And so she had to move again over to The Plaza.
MP: Over to The Plaza and she’s lived there ever since.
JP: Well, when they said they were going to tear down the neighborhood, did they tell the families that lived there that they would build new housing for them? Or did they just tell you that you had to find a new place to live?
DG: They just said that we had to find a new place to live. Because, see, my grandmother lived on Ridge Street, and that was down there in Blue Heaven. ‘Cause they started on Blue Heaven first. And they did, so after they, my mother, grandmother, moved from Blue Heaven over to Clanton Park. And she moved in September, I got hurt in August of ’68, my grandmother moved in Clanton Park at 3601 Seaman Drive.
MP: See, she remembers everything.
JP: That’s amazing.
DG: In 1968. I do know August of ’68. Yup.
JP: And was she able to stay there? I mean, that didn’t get…
DG: No, no. They bought that house.
JP: Good, good.
DG: Her and my older brother bought that house.
JP: Well, how did you find out? How did your families find out that they were going to do this urban renewal?
MP: The city.
DG: The city, and they came through, from door to door, from door to door talking to different people, saying, you know, “Well, how would you like this, how would you like that?” And they would say, “Oh, we going to try to do this, we going to try to keep you all within a place where you don’t have to worry about moving,” and all this. And then all of a sudden, we were out, bam, and that was it.
JP: So they had people that would come around and survey the families, and say, they would be asking, “If you had to move to a new place, what kind of house would you like?”
MP: Yeah, yeah.
JP: And so did they give the impression that they were going to do something about that?
DG: That they was going to do something. But look what they did- notthing.
MP: Not a thing. But they informed you when you had to move.
JP: So they gave you a date. But that’s it?
DG: That’s it. That was it.
JP: What was, what do you think the feeling in the community about the urban renewal program was?
DG: It wasn’t good. Because people didn’t want to leave. ‘Cause that was our little area. You know, it’s just like, when living up there by Second Ward, we didn’t want that to go. We didn’t even want the neighborhood to go. But I guess because, we, that area was so close to downtown…you know.
MP: It’s called change.
DG: That’s what they wanted to do. I guess ‘cause we was close to downtown. And then they said one time before that , okay, they had all the churches, they bought all that land. There was not going to be another church over in that area, at all. Look what church is sitting up there. Big First Baptist.
DG: And First Baptist Church is still downtown. The original church, but what did they do? Spirit Square.
JP: Right, right.
MP: So that’s the way they do it. I mean, I mean, that’s what they do.
DG: And then the Y, is the Y where we used to go on Wednesday nights doing our little sock hop dancing and everything, and it’s gone.
JP: I guess that, you know, when Dawn and I read about this program in Charlotte, about urban renewal, they always say things like, well the area was a slum, it was blighted, it was crime-ridden…
MP: Well, it was at that time.
DG: It was at that time, but I’ll tell you what. If anything happened in that area, you would know it, that’s for sure. If anyone, a stranger would come in that area you knew it. Because you wasn’t, certain people was not allowed over in different areas, I’ll tell you that.
JP: So it was a small enough community where…
DG: It was a small enough community where you could holler over across the creek and tell such and such a person that…[laughs].
MP: And you know, the end where we lived, that was considered as sort of a good end. But now if you go back up going west of First Street, now that was slums and rowdiness.
DG: Third Ward, and over in Third Ward where Good Samaritan was, that was bad. That was bad, too. That was the bad area. But over there in our little area it was nice and calm.
MP: On that end.
JP: So, by the school, it was a really nice area.
MP: In that area, but if you going up, going back up First Street, going west, going west up that a way, that was the slums.
JP: Well, what was it like over there in that area? How would you describe it if somebody’s never been there before? How would you tell them that part of the neighborhood was?
MP: Well, to me it reminds me of, like, if you were going to New York, to the bad area of New York. Something like that.
JP: So, like, the housing was kind of dilapidated?
MP: Yeah, brown, brown restaurants, clubs, but that’s what it was like. Standing on the outside. Stuff like that. Sitting on the steps, ‘cause they had steps too. To me, it looks, it reminds me of some, some parts of New York when you go through the slums. Up there on that end, now, but on our end it was OK.
JP: I…In one of the other interviews that I did, I spoke with a gentleman about a community garden that he worked in. Do you remember anything about a community garden?
MP: Which area was that?
JP: He was on Second Street. He lived in the 1000 block of Second Street.
MP: He must be talking about, up in there kind of in the middle where they have Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools? Wasn’t it something around up in there in the back?
DG: In the…up by Second Street?
MP: Yeah. Up there in that area. Like a flower garden, rose garden?
DG: I remember me picking cotton, though.
MP: I didn’t see no cotton up in there now.
DG: No, my (unclear) used to take us picking cotton.
MP: I picked cotton.
JP: Where did you do that at?
DG: This man used to come by, and he used to have his little cotton field, and my grandmother would let us stay out of school one day out of the week and we’d go pick us some cotton and make us some extra change.
JP: Oh, I see, so you also said that you could work in the school, too, once you got to sixth grade.
JP: So there seemed to be all these jobs that kids could get.
DG: Yes, they would feed us at school when I was in, at school. But when I got out of high school, you could not say that there was not anything out there for you, that you could not get. ‘Cause you had all the opportunities to get a job, because you learned what you needed to learn in school.
DG: And you could not, like you wanted to play hooky from school, oh no. You did not do that because if you did, you would wish the day you hadn’t.
MP: Because someone would tell your mother…
DG: Before you got home….
MP: When you got home, your mother knew about it.
JP: Before you even got home?
MP: Yeah. And then you would get another paddling.
DG: So, you didn’t, so you didn’t, there’s no such thing as you cannot learn. And you did not have a trade when you got out of school. You had a trade. Yes, you had a trade.
MP: But, of course, there were some that did not want to learn. Some would skip classes and they would come on over to our school. I think I did that a couple of times, but I didn’t do it anymore after that. Not anymore.
JP: You learned your lesson, huh?
MP: Learned my lesson.
JP: You didn’t want two paddlings in one day.
MP: Well, I went through so much after that. Discipline action, you know?
JP: Sure, sure. What about these dances at the Y? You said that you would also, was it Wednesday night? You would go to the Y?
MP: Oh, yes, that was fun. We would walk there.
DG: Seven to nine.
MP: Oh, it used to be so nice.
MP: We’d dance, and you’d have to meet different friends from other schools. And it was just nice.
DG: And we used to wrap the maypole in school.
MP: Oh, yeah, we did. Are they still doing that? Wrapping the pole?
DG: Oh, I haven’t heard.
JP: I never wrapped a pole coming up. Did you [to Dawn]?
MP: We used to wrap the maypole…
DG: It was a long time ago.
MP: And I used to do it when I was at HH Gunn. We used to, in May, they would take us outside and we used to wrap the maypole. I used to love doing that, ‘cause they going in and going out, having the colors, different colors.
JP: And you’d weave into each other.
MP: Yes, exactly.
DG: You’d have friends who you’d have Bible verses and that kind of good stuff.
JP: Every day?
DG: Oh, yes, every day.
JP: You’d have prayer and recite Bible verses?
DG: Every day.
MP: Yes, every day. Well what about, hey, do they still say, “I pledge allegiance to the flag?” Are they still saying that in school?
JP: I think they are.
DF: We did, when I was in school we did. But I don’t think they still do it.
JP: When I was in school we still did. And I think they still do.
MP: We did it every day.
DG: We did it. We did it in high school.
MP: You’d stand up there, yeah. I was wondering if they still did it.
JP: I think they should.
MP: Are they still?
DG: I don’t know whether they do it or not….
JP: I, we didn’t do it anymore when I was in high school.
JP: We did it all the way through elementary school.
MP: But they don’t have it anymore? That’s why some of these kids are so bad.
JP: Maybe, maybe. But I think a lot of it too has to do with this idea of community. That they feel like, you know, like they’re a part of a community like you did when you were at Second Ward. What other kind of things do you think reinforced that kind of community in your neighborhood? We’ve talked about churches, we’ve talked about schools. Were there clubs that you belonged to, or….
MP: You mean, like, social clubs and stuff?
JP: Social clubs, or…
MP: We belonged to, what is that other thing? It wasn’t the YMCA. It was something else, Lores. It was something else. I’m going to have to think some more on that one. But it was something else that we belonged to in school.
DG:Girl Scouts and Brownies when we was in elementary school.
MP: But I didn’t do any of that.
DG: Oh, I did, but I didn’t like it. But I had to do it.
MP: But it was something else. I can’t remember, but I need to ask someone else.
JP: Were there any fraternal organizations, like, for adult men, say in Brooklyn?
MP: It wasn’t anything but the masons. It wasn’t anything like that in the school.
DG: None of that in school.
MP: But the adults, the older people, they were the masons, stuff like that. But in school, it wasn’t anything like that. Not in high school.
DG: We had the debutantes.
MP: The debutantes, but it wasn’t anything like the Deltas or the AKAs.
JP: So, this is at Second Ward, though, that they would have debutante balls? And would all the girls participate in it?
DG: Some of them, not all of them.
MP: Some of them.
DG: We’d try to raise money and help some of them.
JP: ‘Cause I guess it was pretty expensive, right?
DG: Yes, it was, very much expensive.
JP: To get the dress, and then would they have a big dance where everybody would come afterwards?
MP: Yeah, I mean, because two, two of the girls in our church, they are debutantes. But I’m not going. Are you going to any of the balls?
DG: Not if I have a meeting I won’t.
JP: Well, what about people? Do you, are there any characters that stand out in your mind that you can remember?
DG: As far as school?
JP: In school, just kind of in the neighborhood? We talked a little about Daddy Grace. I think he’s a pretty big character. But maybe some teachers you had or some store owners that really stand out in your mind as being Brooklyn characters?
DG: Mr. Benson. He used to be right there at the first at the corner of First and Alexander. And I’ll tell you, if you didn’t have no money to get something to eat, you could run like a little bill. And then when you get paid then you could go pay him.
JP: So he had kind of a credit system worked out?
DG: He used to have that going.
JP: I bet that helped a lot of people out.
DG: It did. Like, they had Ms. Walker’s store was right on the corner, and, a lot, it was right there at the school. So, my mom and my stepfather and this other family was involved in the Walker Store because Ms. Walker had gotten old, and lost her husband, and all that. So my mom and her husband, my stepfather, and this other family, they was called the Franklins, they went in together and helped Ms. Walker with the store. And they would run the store for her. And they used to buy these big old, used to get these big donuts, and the children would come from the school over there and get donuts and sit in there. And then they, my mom, they got a- what you call it?- a jukebox…
MP: A piccolo.
DG: A piccolo, rather.
JP: A piccolo?
JP: But it was a jukebox. And they just called it a piccolo?
DG: Yeah, and then they used to come over and sit there and drink sodas and eat donuts and stuff like that, yeah.
JP: Well, that sounds like a good place.
DG: We used to have little wrap sandwiches, too.
JP: Oh, yeah? Was Ms. Walker’s the one that you were talking about Ms. Poe, where they sold dry goods, mostly?
MP: Uh-huh, like chips and sodas and…
JP: And cigarettes, and then she would also do food?
MP: Well, what about you Ms. Poe? Can you remember anybody that stands out in your mind?
MP: Let me see here. The only thing that stands out was the funeral homes. Now, the men, be inside. But then, they would sit all outside. And they would wait for someone to make a call to come, to come pick them up.
DG: Mr. Bob.
MP: They’d all be sitting outside. And..
DG: Mr. Bob Jackson. At Grier’s funeral home.
MP: …and then, they would get a call and they would run inside and get in the ambulance and go.
JP: They were like firemen?
JP: When they got the call, they were gone.
MP: And we’d be sitting on the porch and my mother would say, “I wonder who got killed? Who died this time?”
DG: See, the funeral home was right there on the corner.
MP: And they’d be sitting there out front, laying back in the chair, and at the time they’d get a call and they’d run out and get in the ambulance.
JP: They were just passing time…waiting for the next call.
MP: Waiting for the next call. That’s how they did the funeral homes back then.
DG: ‘Cause see, they would go, they would be the ones that take people to the hospital and stuff like that.
JP: Oh, really?
MP: And there wasn’t no medical services.
DG: There wasn’t no medical stuff back then.
JP: Now, were there medic services in Charlotte at this time, and they just didn’t come to Brooklyn?
MP: You know, I wonder was it like that, Lores?
DG: I didn’t see no medic.
MP: The funeral homes, it was just Grier’s…
MP: …and Long’s.
JP: Lem Long?
DG: Uh-huh, Lem Long.
MP: Long’s mortuary.
DG: It was Alexander, Grier’s, and Long’s. Them three.
JP: Three separate funeral homes?
MP: But that was it.
JP: And so, you’re saying that they were the ambulance?
DG: Grier’s funeral home was one that was right there at the school. It’s right out there on Statesville Avenue. That’s where it is now.
MP: That’s where he moved to.
DG: That’s the original Grier’s funeral home.
JP: So, when somebody would, let’s say they had a heart attack. Then, the funeral home men would come and take them to the hospital.
MP: Yes, would come and take them to the hospital.
JP: And then, if God forbid, they died, then they would take them back to the home and they…
DG: They would bring it back to the funeral home.
MP: Back to the funeral parlor. But just bear in mind that at that time we were called the little Queen City. It was a small city. It was a little small town.
JP: Not like today.
MP: Not like, oh God, no. Not today. Oh my goodness. Because we were just three funeral parlors. Just three at that time. And we were called the little Queen City. And now look at it.
JP: Yeah. It’s enormous.
MP: And it’s still growing.
MP: And that’s why the crime is so high now, because of all these people.
JP: Yeah, yeah. I mean, I think you’re right. There’s so many people who didn’t grow up here and who don’t feel a connection with it.
MP: That’s what they say. When the city enlarges, crime rises.
JP: Right, right, right. Well, I’m kind of harping on this funeral home because I think that this is really interesting.
MP: Yeah, I’m serious!
JP: That, OK, so then after they dressed the body, they would take the body back to their house.
MP: To the individual’s, if it was a man, they would carry it to the home where his wife is and set it up in the living room.
JP: And then she would sit up all night, or somebody, somebody in the family.
MP: Yeah, they’d be all sitting around. As a wake- it was called a wake.
JP: Well, what were funerals like? I mean, were they very…
DG: It wasn’t sad, that’s for sure.
JP: Well, what would they do?
DG: Oh, honey, you’d party hearty all night!
MP: After the wake they would socialize with liquor and stuff like that.
DG: People have, people have, just like you’re having a picnic.
JP: Celebrating their life, instead of mourning over their death.
MP: Yes, yes. They would drink.
JP: So the wake was a party, and the funeral?
MP: Well, at the funeral they’d rejoice, they sung songs, and the minister, he did the eulogy and all that kind of good stuff.
DG: But after they’d come and people would come back from the gravesite, then they’d come to your house and…
MP: And eat and start back drinking. [library intercom in the background] Do they still drink now?
DG: Yeah, child, please.
JP: At funerals?
DG: At the wake and stuff.
DG: Because you know, a lot of people just come, just come to… Some people don’t even have to know you.
DG: But if they know a member of that family, they’ll come around and sit with you and talk to you and stuff like that, yeah.
JP: Well, what about other celebrations? What about weddings and baptisms? Were all these things big celebrations in the community that everybody would take part in?
MP: Well, that was in the churches. You would get baptized in the church.
DG: See back then, you didn’t have too many weddings because everybody went to York…
MP: Yeah, ‘cause I went to York.
DG: …they went to the courthouse and got married….
DG:…So there wasn’t that many weddings, not unless we had some money.
JP: Right, right.
MP: ‘Cause I went to York to get married.
JP: What do you mean you went to York to get married?
MP: My husband, my mother and my stepfather carried us to York, and we had to go back down there three times. The first time we forgot the birth certificate. And we went back again, we forgot something else. And the third time we went there with the birth certificate and something, something else and we got married.
JP: Are you talking about York, South Carolina?
MP: Yeah. That’s where I got married at.
JP: Why would you go all the way down there?
MP: Well, I, they wasn’t doing marriages in the churches then.
JP: Oh, OK.
MP: And my step-grandmother had said that I could give it in her backyard over on McColl Street, ‘cause she lived on McColl Street. But we didn’t. My mother took us to York because she wanted me to get married so bad. And they took us down there.
JP: Well, I guess, I guess what I’m confused about is, you know, why wouldn’t you go to the courthouse in Mecklenburg County? Instead of going all the way to South Carolina?
MP: I don’t think they married people her in Charlotte.
DG: They weren’t married in Charlotte.
MP: To my knowledge. Unless we didn’t know anything about it.
JP: And so everybody, it was, everybody went to York or…yeah.
MP: Everybody went to York.
DG: Everybody would go to York to get married.
MP: If they didn’t go to York they went to some other little South Carolina town.
DG: That’s where they went.
MP: But I went, I went to York.
JP: Interesting. That’s very interesting. Yeah.
MP: I don’t even recall them having church weddings back then. Do you?
JP: Well, that’s so interesting because it’s something you just take for granted today.
DG: That’s true.
JP: Everybody just sort of gets married in a church.
MP: Unless the ones at that time that really had money….
DG: They’d get married in a …
MP: They would have someone to come into their home or something.
JP: Right, and they would have the entire ceremony at home and that sort of thing.
MP: And they would have guests there for them.
JP: Well, that’s very interesting.
MP: But no, we would go down to York.
JP: And the House of Prayer would do their baptisms right in the creek, near the church, right?
MP: Right above the street.
JP: And what about other churches? Would they do…
DG: They had a pool.
JP: A pool?
DG: They had their own pool.
JP: Inside the church?
DG: Right there inside the church.
MP: Now, my church, in the country, we had a creek there, and they all, we all would walk down to the creek, and they would put them in the creek. You know, throw them backwards and then pull them up. In the muddy water, ‘cause the water wasn’t clean.
JP: Right. So you’d come out all dirty…
DG: At the House of Prayer, all of you got in at the same time.
JP: I heard that. I heard that once they had a baptism that was so big that they had to bring in some firefighters.
MP: And they would pull one of them out and they would dash one, and then they’d pull one out and they’d dash the other.
JP: Yeah. That’s quite a production, huh?
MP: A very big production.
JP: Well, ladies, we’ve gotten so much great information and I just want to ask if there’s anything that I didn’t ask that you wanted to talk about? That you thought was important for people to remember about the community?
MP: Well, you touched every base but I’m going to think about some more things.
DG: But I’m going to definitely find out about Blue Heaven and the Queen City Classic.
JP: That’d be great, and you know, if you do think about that, I would love to have that information and if you think of more things that you’d like to talk about, then we’d be happy to interview you again.
MP: Okay, okay. Because she works with the school, she works with them all the time. Every Sunday, she meets with them. They meet on Sundays.
JP: Good, good. So, we thank you so much for taking part in this project.
MP: You’re quite welcome. I enjoyed it. I enjoyed it.
JP: I’m glad you did. Good. I enjoyed it too.
MP: It brings back memories.
JP: And so much great information we got, so thank you.
MP: Yeah, well I’m glad, I just hope that we were some help to you.
JP: You were a tremendous help. A tremendous help. Thank you.
DG: You’re welcome.
End of Interview. Approximately 62 minutes.