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Lue Anna Clark

Biography:

Born in 1892 in Kenucky, Mrs. Clark lived over 100 years. She has strong memories of her father who was born a slave house boy in the home of his master and father. She recalls much about turn of the century social life, politics and racial identity. She came to Bloomington in 1916 and has clear memories of the community at the early period. Later she boarded ISNU students in her home aiding them in their efforts to graduate from college.

Isaac Sanders left the employ of the Adlai Stevenson family in the early 1900's to try his hand at the restaurant business. He had a restaurant on South Main Street in Bloomington. Later he ran what was called the Working Man's Club on West Washington, also in Bloomington. In 1917, he married the much younger Lue Anna Brown. He gave up his business activity when the club closed in 1919.

Lue Anna Brown Sanders Clark

Date: January 1, 1986
Interviewers: Mildred Pratt and Stephanie Shaw


Side A

MP

All right, would you tell us your full name Ms. Clark?

AC

Lue Anna Clark

MP

When were you born, Ms. Clark?

AC

1892.

MP

Where?

AC

Ballard County, Kentucky.

MP

Valley (sic) County, Kentucky?

AC

Un-huh.

SS

Could you tell us about your family and life there in Kentucky? Did you grow up there?

AC

Yeah, I grew up there. My mother died when I was five years old, and my father and my older sister raised me. And so I stayed there until I was twelve years old.

MP

How many brothers and sisters did you have?

AC

I had two brothers and one sister.

MP

What did your father do for a living?

AC

He was a farmer. He worked for kind of a sharecropper farm. It was a farm, but it wasn't big enough to-he had to go out to work for other farmers, too. It wasn't big enough to feed the family.

SS

Did you children help on the farm? Did you and your sisters and brothers help on the farm?

AC

Yes, my brother and sister did. I didn't do much, because I was afraid of everything.

MP

You were the baby?

AC

I wasn't the baby, but they kind of babied me 'cause I stayed in the house most of the time.

SS

Did you start school in Kentucky? You went to a public school?

AC

Yes, I just went to eighth grade.

MP

Tell us about that. Was that a large school? Was it an all Black school?

AC

It was an all Black school, a small school. I have pictures of it. The school wasn't a very good school. It was just six months.

MP

Six months a year?

SS

So the farm children could work on the farm the rest of the year?

AC

Un-huh. Six months. Then when there was anything to do at home, we'd always have to-probably once a week we'd have to take a day off.

MP

Did your father ever tell you anything about his life experiences?

AC

Oh, yes. He told us a lot about it.

MP

Could you tell us about anything he told you?

AC

He said he was ten years old when the war broke up.

MP

The Civil War?

AC

Yes, and he was a houseboy on the plantation. His father was white. They sold his mother. He didn't remember his mother too well. All he remembered was that she was a large brown-skinned woman. He thought he had a sister, but he wasn't sure. They sold his mother and kept him as a houseboy.

MP

What state was that in, that he grew up as a houseboy? Did he tell you what state that was?

AC

I think it was Tennessee.

MP

And so he worked as a houseboy?

AC

Yes.

MP

Anything else you remember?

AC

They used to have barrels of sugar, barrels of white sugar and barrels of brown sugar. So he used to take some of the white sugar and take it down to the cabins where the other people, you know, the slaves lived. And they began to miss the sugar. He couldn't write. So they'd write on the sugar, and he couldn't take no more down there.

SS

They would write on top of the actual sugar, in the sugar?

AC

Right.

SS

He'd have to mess up the writing if he took anything.

AC

Right, so he couldn't take any more down there.

MP

That's interesting.

AC

All they had was the brown sugar and molasses. And he said he was just a small boy. This woman would have company and his job was to-I don't know if you want me to tell this or not, but his job was to-there was a big rocking chair like that. She would sit in the rocking chair and rock. She would pick a louse out of her hair-everybody had lice at that time-and hand it back to him to kill. She was entertaining her guests. (soft laughter)

MP

That's strange.

AC

He said they were nice to him, but he was so small, you know, but if she had company, he'd have to sit behind this rocking chair and she'd pinch up there.

SS

Are there any other things that you remember about your father's family or in his early life or in your own family life?

AC

No, I didn't know any of his people. But my mother's people, I met some of them after I was grown.

MP

Is that right?

AC

They lived in Missouri.

SS

How did you eventually meet them after you grew up?

AC

Well, there was a carnival in Cairo, Illinois, and my sister had been writing to them, and they said they was coming to this carnival. And so we went down there, and that's where we met at. I met my aunt and her family. She had about five or six large grown children.

SS

How old were you when you met him?

AC

I must of been about sixteen-fourteen, fifteen, sixteen or something like that. Then I kind of kept up with them. Some of them live in Peoria, Chicago, and down in Saint Louis. I kind of kept up with the kids afterwards.

MP

When did you leave your home in Kentucky?

AC

I was about twelve years old when I left.

MP

Oh, you were about twelve years old?

AC

My sister got married, and she lived in southern Illinois. And I come over there and lived with her the rest of the time.

MP

Do you know what town or what area in Illinois?

AC

Olmsted, Illinois.

MP

Olmsted, Illinois?

AC

Olmsted, Illinois. OLMSTED

MP

And what do you remember about life there, when you lived in Olmsted?

AC

Well, it was just a rural life.

MP

And is that where you went to school also, you went to school in Olmsted?

AC

Yes. I went to school there.

SS

When your sister moved to Illinois, did she move there because her husband had a job there?

AC

No, he lived there. That was his home. When they got married, that's where they lived. And she lived there. I went to school some there, but my father was kind of a tight man and he-the first year I was there I didn't have any books. I just had to copy off some of the kids' books at school.

MP

Did you have to buy books? As students you had to buy books, is that right?

AC

Yes.

MP

And so you went to what grade in school?

AC

Eighth.

MP

To the eighth grade. And I guess, how old were you then in eighth grade?

AC

I guess I must of been about sixteen, seventeen.

MP

Seventeen?

AC

Yes.

SS

How long did you stay in southern Illinois?

AC

I stayed there until I moved up here.

SS

How old were you when you left to come up here?

AC

I was twenty-three.

SS

So you were there for a long time, about ten or twelve years?

AC

Yes.

SS

When you got ready to come here, what brought you in this direction?

AC

There was a lady that lived down there in southern Illinois, and she had been working up here in a private family. She was coming home in the spring of the year because her husband-she wanted to help her husband with the crop. And she told me the woman she worked for wanted somebody, and I told her to tell her about me. And so she did, and she told her to tell me to come. So I got off the train and went right to her house.

SS

You were one of the lucky ones.

AC

That was the good part about it, I didn't have to room around.

MP

That's right, you didn't have to look for a job. Now what was the name of this family?

AC

Kitchell, A. [Albert] M. Kitchell.

MP

Kitchell, A. M. Kitchell. And what did-was he a wealthy person? Were they wealthy, well-to-do?

AC

They were pretty wealthy, I think. He run an ice cream parlor downtown.

SS

You started to say something about them being nice people.

AC

Yes, they were nice people. They were kind of elderly. There was just the man and his wife.

SS

So they didn't have any children?

AC

No.

SS

What kind of work did you do? How did you work for them? What kinds of things did you do?

AC

Well, I worked along with her. She was a working woman.

SS

You really were lucky then!

MP

You didn't have much to do then, did you?

AC

Well, I went along with her. She would work till she'd just practically fall out. She wanted to be the cleanest housekeeper in town. That's what she wanted.

MP

That was her goal?

AC

Yes. We'd run the sweeper, and we'd have to get down with a whiskbroom and go all around the edge.

MP

Did you do any cooking?

AC

Yeah. I cooked. I did everything, washed, and ironed. There wasn't too much washing and ironing.

MP

Did you have any days off and what days did you have off?

AC

I had a half a day off on Thursday and a half a day off on Sunday. That's what all the girls who worked out in service had.

MP

Oh, that was the general practice?

AC

Yes.

SS

Did you actually get your time off?

AC

Yeah. You got your time off. By the time you fixed lunch there wasn't much time left. I'd fix their lunch, and I would have enough left so all they had to do was sit it on the table.

SS

When you worked from day to day, did you have a certain work routine so that on certain days you did washing, and on certain days you did ironing?

AC

Yes.

SS

How did you organize your work-day or work week?

AC

I just knew what I had to do and did it.

SS

So give me an example of how your work day or work week might have gone.

MP

From the time you got up in the morning.

AC

On Monday you washed, and on Tuesday you ironed, and you cooked during this same day. That's just the way it went. Monday you washed. Tuesday you ironed. And the rest of the time you cooked and done housework.

MP

Did you feel that you had a lot of work to do? Did you feel tired most of the time or did you have a feeling that you had sufficient time to rest?

AC

Well at Kitchells I had time to rest, but then when I went to work for the Reads, [Burt Read, 920-930 East Grove] I didn't have too much rest time.

SS

Did they have children there?

AC

They had one adopted daughter and.... (someone entered the house)

SS

So, go ahead. You were talking about the Reads, how different it was working for them.

AC

They had a big house and two acres of ground. They had a yardman, and the yardman kept taking care of the flowers. He'd mostly work on the flowers. And they were big eaters.

SS

So you had to cook a lot?

AC

I had cooking to do. She had a daughter-in-law and her son lived there. And she was a good cook. A lot of times she's come out-special things you know, she'd come out. She was a good cook. She did a lot of cooking there, too.

SS

What were your living quarters like in both places?

AC

Nice.

SS

Did you have a room or an apartment?

AC

I just had a room. It was nice both places. I had a room upstairs.

MP

Did you have a separate bath?

AC

No. No, I didn't have a separate bathroom.

MP

You didn't have a separate bathroom. You used the family bathroom.

AC

Un-huh.

MP

Now when you entered to go to work, were you required to enter through the back door or could you enter through the front door of the home?

AC

Well, they never said, but I always went to the side door.

MP

Was there any reason why you did? Was that generally the practice of women who worked in service to go in the side?

AC

Yeah. I think they did. I don't think they come in the front door. They used the side. There wasn't a real back. It was the side door.

SS

That probably would have been the same door that a lot of delivery people would use. Did the deliverymen from town use that same door?

AC

Yes.

MP

Were you free to have your friends visit you on the premises?

AC

Yes. I had friends come to visit.

SS

I wanted to ask one question. I forgot what it was. Oh, were these the two families that you worked for most of the time that you worked out?

AC

Yeah. The longest time I worked in both families. I worked for the Kitchells about nine months, I guess. Then I worked for the Reads after my husband died.

SS

So we're talking about-there was a big time gap in between the two times you worked out. I wanted to ask one more question about that. Did they treat you like one of the family? Did you feel like one of the family where you lived, where you worked? Did they treat you like a member of their family where you worked?

AC

They treated me nice.

SS

Did you feel like you were part of the family or did you feel like...

AC

No, I didn't feel like that. I never feel like that around them-however you say it.

SS

Employers?

AC

Yeah.

MP

Around white people is what you mean.

SS

That's all right. People you worked for. You didn't feel like that around who? You didn't feel like one of the family around people you worked for-is that what you were going to say?

AC

Yeah. I didn't feel like I was one of the family. They just treated me nice, and I treated them nice, and I'd get away from them as quick as I could. I guess I was kind of brought up like that. My father used to tell us so many things about during slavery.

MP

Could you tell us some examples?

AC

Well, there's a lot of things I kind of forgot.

SS

Yeah. As they come back to you, tell us about them. When you left your first work situation, did you leave them because you were getting married? Why did you leave the Kitchells? Tell us about when you left the Kitchells. What happened after you left the Kitchells?

AC

I got married. I got married in 1917 or 1916. So I told them I was getting married. They didn't give me anything.

MP

They didn't give you any present or anything? Is that right? I guess they were angry that you were leaving.

AC

No, they didn't show it if they was. She asked me if I could find somebody to work for her, and I tried. I think I did send her somebody.

?

I don't think they were particularly angry. I had to leave a couple of domestic situations, and it seems as though if you left to have a child, it was more acceptable than if you left to get married. I don't know what that means, but like she said they didn't give you no present. There was no big "wish you well" on your marriage or anything. It seemed to be a little different.

MP

I wanted to ask you one thing. You said the woman, who worked for the Kitchells and who recommended you-the woman who worked there, she had to go back and work on the farm and she recommended you. Now you said she normally came to Bloomington to work in service, and then she would go back and work on the farm. Is that correct?

AC

Yes.

MP

Did a lot of women do that-Black women tend to come to the city?

AC

Yeah. They would, I don't if a lot of them, but she had a sister here, and she'd come up here during the winter and work and sent money back home, I guess, to help him. Then in the spring of the year she went back.

MP

Yes. Uh-huh.

AC

Things were kind of hard then. Women would work and try to help their husbands, you know. They had a farm, but it wasn't enough to keep them well. They was trying to pay for the farm and trying to raise hogs, cows and things like that, you know. Her sister got her that job here, and that's what she did. They wasn't separated or anything. She was just helping out.

SS

Was it very hard for women to get jobs outside then? Was it real hard for women to get good paying jobs?

AC

No, it wasn't.

MP

What kind of jobs did they take? Did most Black women work in service?

AC

Yes. Most Black women worked in service just like I did. Most of them stayed on the place.

MP

Now, did any Black women work in a department store, grocery stores, businesses or factories?

AC

There was one girl who worked in a grocery store. It was the Nierstheimers' grocery store down on North Main Street. She worked there. Her name was Vera Brown. But outside of that...

SS

They were just primarily...

AC

Seemed to me Kathryn Dean worked there after she left.

MP

What year was that? Do you have any idea when that was that these two women worked at the store?

AC

The grocery store?

MP

Yes, the grocery store. Approximately what year?

AC

It must have been 1917 and 1918.

MP

Please go ahead, Stephanie.

SS

I was just going to say that you started talking about when you left your job. You left your job and got married, and you were going to go into what happened in your life after you got married. How it changed and what kinds of things you did after you got married, and we sort of got away from that. Let's talk about your life after you got married. The kind of things you did. Something about your husband?

MP

Where you lived?

AC

I lived down on West Washington Street. That big building across the street.

MP

Is it still there?

AC

It's still there. He had a business there. He had a working man's club. He had a pool hall, a restaurant and rooming house, and a barbershop all in the same building. It was a big building.

SS

What was his name, Mrs. Clark? What was your husband's name?

AC

Ike Sanders.

SS

Ike Sanders?

AC

Isaac Sanders, but everybody called him Ike. I'll show you his picture.

MP

Tell us how it came to be known as the Working Man's Social Club and when it was started. Tell us all about it.

AC

Well, he started the club, and he just named it. He had about a dozen men to sign that they were interested-wasn't interested, you know. But to sign that they were partners. And he just named it Working Man's Social Club.

SS

And men lived there?

AC

So he went down to Springfield and got the charter, and Mr. Stevenson he didn't charge him a penny 'cause he knew him.

MP

What Mr. Stevenson?

SS

The older Adlai?

AC

No, it was his son. His name was-Edgar, no....

SS

We can find his name, Adlai's son?

MP

What was his position?

AC

He was Secretary of State.

MP

What year was this, approximately, when he started this club?

AC

1917.

SS

Tell me some more about the club. Did people live there on a daily basis or yearly basis? Did they board there, room and board there?

AC

Some of them did. We only had men. We didn't have no women 'cause they were troublemakers. (laughter)

?

Why weren't women allowed? Why were they troublemakers?

AC

To room at a place to live there, they're just desperate. I don't know what's wrong with them. (laughter)

MP

Are you saying that some of them were, how do you say-he didn't want women around because they were prostitutes or something like that?

AC

Well, we had plenty of women to come in there, but no women stayed there.

MP

To live there?

AC

No women stayed there. But we had as many women there as we did men, but we didn't let them stay.

?

Do you think women were more open to letting men come in and stay the night with them, but men wouldn't?

AC

Yes.

?

Okay. And then that causes trouble for somebody else.

SS

This working man's club, how did it affect your work? You probably had to do a lot more work to help keep this business going.

AC

Not too much. I helped. I cooked. He cooked and I cooked, and we had a man there to help. Mr. Johnson, he stayed there and he helped. The people, the women, that would come there, they were all for...

End Side A

Side B

SS

Okay, you were saying that when things got too busy at the club, the women who came in to visit and socialize would help with the work.

AC

They did. We always had fish on Friday. It went so fast sometimes, you couldn't hardly cook it fast enough, you know. Some of the women would say, "Well, I'm going to cook my piece of fish," and they'd get up and cook it like they wanted it. We had a big coal stove, and they'd get up and fry their own fish.

MP

Now these working men, what kind of work did they do?

AC

The men?

MP

Yes. Who signed up for the club?

AC

They had a coal mine here at that time and a lot of men worked in the coal mine, but most of them worked in the shops. They had a big shop, railroad shop. And some of them worked in private families, doing different kinds of jobs.

SS

Were they single men or men that just moved to this area?

AC

No, most of them was married men. They had their own homes, but they always come there.

SS

Their homes were some place else other than Bloomington-Normal?

AC

In Bloomington.

SS

So they stayed with you and worked during the week?

AC

No, they didn't stay there. They went home. They just come there to buy their food and buy their drinks, whatever they want. Then they'd go home.

MP

Who were the men who stayed overnight? What kind of people stayed overnight?

AC

People that come out of town mostly, and probably didn't have no home here and no family. So they'd stay there.

MP

So you had kind of a hotel then, right?

AC

Yeah.

SS

Were they any other places like that in town where Black working men or Black men could have stayed overnight? Did you have the only place in town where Black men could get a room or a bed for the night or week?

AC

The only business place. But a lot of them had rooming houses. Like I have this house, I'd maybe have a room to rent. A lot of people had that.

SS

How long were you married to Mr. Saun-Saunders or Sanders?

AC

Sanders?

SS

How long were you married to Mr. Sanders?

AC

Thirteen years.

SS

Did you work with the working men's club for the whole time?

AC

No. He went out of business after the war, after the soldiers come back.

SS

Which was that? The second war? The first war?

MP

World War I.

AC

Then we lived out on South Main Street, down there by the viaduct. The viaduct wasn't there then. They built the viaduct while we was there. They had a rooming house there, just rooms for men. (tape is turned off)

MP

Mrs. Clark is telling us that her husband-what is this picture? Would you tell us about it?

AC

That's the restaurant he had down on South Main before I met him. That's him there and that's his wife, and that was his brother-in-law.

MP

Was this the first restaurant.

AC

In Bloomington.

MP

that a Black person...?

AC

Yes. He went in with another man by the name of Skinner.

MP

Skinner?

AC

And he ordered up a lot of tables and chairs and began to bring his family in on Sundays. They'd all sit down and eat and not pay and everything, and he had quite a bit of debt. So, finally he told him, "Sanders, I think I'm going to pull out of this. You just go on with it." So he said he had that debt, and he went to Mr. Kirkpatrick. You know...

?

I know Mr. Kirkpatrick.

AC

He went to his father. His father was running a big.

?

Mr. Kirkpatrick was kind of an old-line supporter of Black people in the community.

MP

This is a white person?

?

A white person, un-huh.

MP

What's his first name?

AC

That's where he got his tables from and chairs. He went to him and told him just what had happened. He told him that this fellow that had went in with him had pulled out, and he told him, he said, "Now I'm gonna wipe this debt. You don't have to pay anything." He give him the whole thing, and he said, "I'm gonna tell ya never go in business with anybody else." See when you're in business with somebody and they order something and they don't pay for it, you got to pay. So he told him, he said, "(inaudible) these things are yours and never go in business with anybody."

SS

Do you want to talk about any of these other pictures you have?

MP

Could you tell us about that one? (begin looking at photographs)

AC

That's the soldiers, and they coming back from the first war.

SS

World War I?

AC

Uh-huh.

SS

These are local men?

AC

Uh-huh, local men all of them. They all dead.

SS

Looks like army and.

AC

This is another, the Spanish-American War. They all dead.

SS

These are local men who were in the Spanish-American War?

AC

Here's a boy who lived with me. He's a doctor in here in (inaudible).

SS

This is a person who lived with you?

MP

Now would you tell us the circumstances under which you had some young people living with you from Illinois State University? You had several young people living with you from ISU.

SS

And tell us when it is because I think we've jumped a big time here. We shouldn't have...

AC

It was just before the Second World War 'cause they all left the same night, going to the war. There was eight of them, and they lived there with me. I had one great big room and two small ones. I had two beds in the big room and a cot and a big bed in the other room. Some of them couldn't find no place to live, and they couldn't live in the dormitory 'cause they didn't take them at that time. They cooked and ate there. They didn't-they couldn't eat. I was out there working at the school so they all cooked and ate there. And the way they'd do, they all got together and they wrote out a menu and put it on the wall behind the stove for the week. One of them would cook one week, and two would wash the dishes. The next week-they went alphabetically-the other one would cook, and two would wash the dishes. They got along fine. They bought their food together. They all got along fine. That boy I just showed from Gary, Indiana. I was talking to a friend in here last night....

SS

He's graduated, and he's a physician now? He's a doctor now?

AC

Yes, he's a doctor, medical doctor. There I got a picture.

SS

Can we back up a little bit now? Would you mind if we go back to something else we started talking about before. I wanted to go back to something else that we started , or do you want to keep going through these pictures?

AC

No, it don't matter. Oh, that's Mr. Hunter. He used to work out to the school. He died.

?

I heard he did.

AC

That's the boy I helped so much. I know'd him all his life. I know'd him when he was born. He's a bone specialist over in Ohio. He was here last year.

MP

He went to ISU-Illinois State University?

AC

Uh-huh.

SS

This is interesting. He signed his picture "a possibility."

?

I'll have to bring Connie over some time, Ms. Clark, and let her see all these pictures.

AC

Here's Ms. Brent.

?

Lucinda?

AC

She's the Woman of the Year.

MP

Yes.

AC

Do you want that picture?

MP

Oh, yes, I do. If you're going to give it to me, I certainly do. She's a lovely lady. (tape is turned off)

SS

I don't know quite where we left off. After you got married and you and your husband started-were working in this business together? What I wanted to get to is what happened. Your husband died, right?

AC

Uh-huh.

SS

How long were you married?

AC

Thirteen years.

SS

What I'm trying to get at, I guess, is what happened to you after your husband died?

AC

I got a job with the Reads, and I stayed there until.-then I got a job out at the Soldiers and Sailors School.

AC

I worked at Livingston's Store before he died. I worked there twelve years.

SS

Before your husband died?

AC

Yes. Then after he died, the Depression come. They didn't need me anymore, and I got a job at Mrs. Reads, and I stayed there about a year or two, and then I went out to Soldiers and Sailors School. And I stayed there twenty years.

SS

What did you do at the Soldiers and Sailors Home? What kind of place was it? What kind of school was it?

AC

Soldiers and Sailors? It was for soldiers' and sailors' children. Like their mother and father was dead, they could go there and live. That's what they started out as.

SS

What did you do there?

AC

First, I started in the laundry-ironing. Then I went from the laundry up to the hospital. I served the trays to the sick kids. But they'd bring the food over in containers and I'd put it on a tray, and they had a pulley to pull it up the stairs so that's what I did. After that I would clean around in the hospital, make the beds and things like that. The nurses wouldn't want to do it. They wanted me to do it. It was they job. The beds that they didn't use, I had to take care of them, but the beds that were used-that was the nurses' job. (looking at pictures) There's my nephew.

MP

Did you want to pursue something else?

SS

I was just interested in how you went from one situation to another. After your husband died, you went to work some place different than where you had been working all along. You went to work at the Reads after your husband died, and then at the Soldiers and Sailors?

MP

At Livingston's. She worked at Livingston's.

SS

Livingston's?

AC

I worked at Livingston's store for twelve years.

SS

You were working there while you were married.

AC

While he was living. After he died, I worked there until the Depression came. So they let me go then. Then I went to Mrs. Reads in private home.

SS

Did you see a lot of Black people changing jobs here through the Depression? And whites, too? How did people's jobs and work change during the Depression?

AC

They didn't have much work. It was kind of hard for everybody. They had the WPA for men and women-they had jobs for them. They'd go around to sick people and work and take care of old people. They had that kind of job, just like they have now. It was kind of hard for everybody. So many people was out of work at that time, white and Colored.

MP

Is it true that I heard someone say that during the Depression, some white people decided that because there were a lot of white people out of work that they preferred to give jobs-their service jobs, to white people rather than Black people? Is that correct?

AC

Yeah.

MP

Would you tell us what you know about that?

AC

Well, there was a millionaire woman that lived-a Mrs. Ewing of the Ewing Castle. Colored people worked there. They had a man and his wife and another girl, and a yardman. I don't know just exactly, but the girl that worked there told me that the Association of Commerce asked Mrs. Ewing to let them go and give the job to some white people. And she told them "no." She said, "I hire who I want." Mrs. Ewing was very nice to her help. She used to have riding horses, and she'd let the help ride the horses. Golda Manuel in Gary, Indiana-I was talking to her night before last, and Golda-Mrs. Ewing she liked to ride horses-and Golda would ride with her, and they used the house for parties, things like that. She was a millionaire woman. She was a Wrigley, the gum heir. Now Roberta told me that Mrs. Ewing told her that the Association of Commerce had asked Mrs. Ewing to let them go and hire white people.

SS

And Roberta was the woman who worked for her? She was a Black woman who worked for her?

AC

Yes. She worked there for years.

MP

Do you know any other prominent white families who did let their Black help go?

AC

I wouldn't know that. They probably did, but I wouldn't know that.

?

I think the ones around here who did kind of stick it out were the Beich's, the Ewings, the (unclear). Those kinds of people seemed to keep Black people on during that time from things that I've picked up.

AC

There were a lot of people let go, and they didn't know why.

MP

Tell me something about the Association of Commerce.

AC

I don't know anything about them. That's all I know. (talk about stopping the interview and returning at a later dare. tape is turned off)

AC

It's a nice thing that they're doing that. I was telling her-she said her mother worked for the Burr's. And I said, "Well, I knew the Burr's, too." So she said-and I told her I said I know the woman who used to wash for the Burrs. And she said Mr. Burr never did have no draws. (laughter) All the years she worked there she never did see them. (lots of laughter drowns out some talk) I guess he just didn't wear them.

SS

So Ms. Clark so that we can go ahead finish today and not bother you again, tell us about your second marriage. Did you have any children in either marriage?

AC

No, I never had any children in my first marriage, and in my second I was too old to have children.

SS

In what year did you get married the second time?

AC

19.. It was about ten or twelve years after my husband died.

SS

So it was about 1945 or [19]48?

AC

Yeah, somewhere along in there. 1950-maybe along in there. I lived with him my first husband thirteen years, then he passed. And my second husband I lived with him thirteen years, and he died.

MP

What kind of work did your second husband do?

AC

He worked with the railroad. He was a porter down at the station. Later years, he used to work at the shops.

SS

What has widowhood been like for you since your husbands or your last husband died? What has being a single woman again, being a widow, what has that-how is that different for you?

AC

It's all right. I adjust to it pretty good.

MP

Any adjustments like, being able to manage your affairs?

AC

Oh yes, I manage pretty good.

MP

But it's not been a problem for you?

AC

Everybody says for my age, I manage pretty good.

MP

I think you do.

SS

I think irrespective of age you manage. (laughter)

MP

Have you had any health problems? Any since after your husband died?

SS

Have you had any illnesses?

MP

Have you been sick?

AC

No, I have pretty good health.

?

I think it's kind of funny because when me and my sister and Ms. Clark go out all the time, they're always worried about me. I'm looking at her-she's ninety some years old. I'm in my forties, and Ms. Clark is having to get in the back so I can get in the front. It's really different, isn't it?

AC

My sister she lived to be ninety-three years old.

MP

Are most of your relatives long livers?

AC

All except my mother. She died when she was thirty-five, and my father lived-he must have been about eighty or ninety. He'd probably be living yet, but a man run over him with an automobile.

MP

Would you say that when you got married to your first husband that you were part of the-how do you say, upper class Blacks in Normal?

AC

No, I wouldn't say I was upper class. I was just a plain old housewife.

MP

Were you active in clubs of any kind?

AC

Yeah, I was active in clubs, but not too active.

MP

What kind of clubs did you belong to?

AC

I belonged to the Three C club.

MP

What's the Three C club?

AC

It's a secret.

MP

Oh, all right. The Three C club. Any others?

AC

No.

MP

Any women's clubs?

AC

No.

SS

What about church groups?

AC

I don't belong. I go to Mount Pisgah.

SS

What church do you belong to?

AC

I don't belong.

SS

What else would you like to tell that we haven't thought to ask you? What else would you like to talk about that we haven't asked you? If you had to leave a legacy, how would you want people to remember you? It's kind of a dumb question.

MP

But it's a nice question that Barbara Walters asks, and I think it's always good.

SS

Well, how would you want to be remembered? What do you think has been important?

AC

Just that I'd like to be remembered-just the same thing over and over everyday. Just quiet-a quiet life. I don't want no great big hoorah. I don't live no hoorah life, and I don't want no hoorah.

SS

That's not what I meant. I meant, basically, how you would like other people to remember you? What do you think has been most important about your life?

AC

I'd like to be remembered as being nice and kind. I think anybody I ever met would remember me like that. My sister was a better woman than I am.

SS

Why do you say that?

AC

She was kind, done a lot of good things for people.

SS

Well, you have too. You have all these men who have grown up to be doctors. You've done a lot of good things too for people.

MP

That's what I was going to say, Ms. Clark. I think you've made a great contribution to young people because at a time when they could not stay at Illinois State University, many of them would probably never been able to get their education if you had not been willing to open your house to them. And, really, to be a mother to them.

AC

This boy, Elroy-I was down in southern Illinois. My sister lived there. He just come out of high school. People down there told me he was smart. And he and his mother lived together. She was married, but her husband was dead. So I said to him, I said, "Elroy." I know'd him since he was born. I said, "Elroy, are you going to college?" He said, "No, I guess not, Mama's not able to send me. I guess I'll just join the army." I said, "Elroy, if you really want to go to college, you can come up there and stay with me. I live just a block from the school, and you can come up there and work your way through." He said, "Well, I'll talk to Mama, see what Mama says." He went back home, and next day here he and his mom come. So she told me, "Now, I'm not able to give him much. I'll send him what I can get, but if he can work his way through, and he wants to go, why, he can go." So he did. He done all kinds of work. He worked on the railroad. One day, he come in-I had told him. I said, "Now anything that come up that you want to talk to me about, I'll tell you the best I know." So he went on. He worked in the restaurant, he worked in the.

End Side B

Lue Anna Brown Sanders Clark

Date: November 13, 1986
Interviewers: Mildred Pratt


Side A

MP

This is November 13, 1986, and I'm interviewing Mrs. Anna Clark. I'm going to talk now about the first house that you lived in when you were born. If you would describe what you remember of that house. What did it look like?

AC

It was a two-room house with a big hall between them.

MP

How many people were in the family at that time?

AC

Just four.

MP

Your mother and father...

AC

Yeah, my mother and father and brother and sister.

MP

How many brothers and sisters-were you the last child?

AC

No, I had a younger brother.

MP

So when you were born, there were just two children in the house?

AC

There were three. There was two in the house, and when I was born, that made three.

MP

Would you describe how those two rooms were used?

AC

One room was used for the bedroom. The hall was used as a dining room, and the kitchen.

MP

The other room was the kitchen.

AC

Un-huh. We had an upstairs. It wasn't used. It was only just storage.

MP

Did the children sleep in the kitchen?

AC

Yes. After we grew up, some of us slept in the kitchen. We had a bed in the kitchen, and two beds in the other room.

MP

Did you have indoor water?

AC

No.

MP

Do you remember where you got your water?

AC

We had a well.

MP

It was on your premises? And you would draw water from the well?

AC

Yes, we had a long bucket, and it would go down. We had a good well.

MP

Who was responsible for drawing the water? Did the parents or the children do that?

AC

Anybody who was large enough.

MP

I'll bet you didn't have indoor toilets?

AC

Oh, no.

MP

Tell me about that.

AC

We had to go out behind sheds. We had a woods lot. We went out in there.

MP

Did you have an outdoor toilet facility built?

AC

Yes, we did have one. I forgot that. We had a little outdoor toilet.

AC

Did you have something called a slop jar?

AC

Yes. We had slop jars.

MP

What did you cook on?

AC

We had a cook stove that used wood. We had plenty of wood.

MP

Who owned the house?

AC

My father.

MP

Did he build it?

AC

He had it built.

MP

Did you have any relatives that lived with you at any time?

AC

No.

MP

Were you born in a hospital or at home?

AC

At home. My sister said I was.

MP

By a mid-wife? Did they have mid-wives?

AC

I guess. She said she went to school and when she come back, I was there.

MP

Did both of your parents work?

AC

No, my mother didn't work out. She worked at home. My father farmed. He had a little farm out from town. He had a big garden there. I guess about a couple of acres or something. Then he had about ten acres out in the country that he farmed. And he worked out for people.

MP

What did he do?

AC

He hoed tobacco. Stuff like that.

MP

That was in Kentucky, right?

AC

Un-huh. He was good at hoeing. Everybody wanted him. He could hoe two rows while another man could only do one.

MP

Oh, is that right? (laughs)

AC

That way he always had work. He made lard for people. Cooked the lard.

MP

He would go to their houses then, and when they killed the hogs he would do that for them.

AC

Un-huh. He could do most anything.

MP

Any other things that you remember he did to make money?

AC

He always had money. It wasn't much, but he had money.

MP

But he always managed to do some kind of work to get money, right? Did he teach his children to do work?

AC

Oh, yes.

MP

What did he teach the children to do?

AC

What ever he did, he taught us to do. He always said he'd teach us to do work whether we liked it or not. He said it would come in handy after we growed up.

MP

How did he come to own so much land?

AC

Well, he just worked and saved his money.

MP

I thought maybe he inherited land. Oh, he worked and bought his land.

AC

He was ten years old when slavery was over. They told him when he was ten years old. From then on he was on his own.

MP

Did he tell you-as a ten year old his parents weren't around-who were his parents?

AC

He didn't know his mother. The only thing he knew was they sold his mother. He thought he had a sister, but he wasn't sure. His father was a slave owner. I told you that.

MP

Yes, you told me that.

AC

He came in the house as a slave. At ten years old, I don't know what he could do, but his father kept him. When war broke out, his father told him (inaudible).

MP

Oh, his father told him. I'm going to pull this up to be sure we're getting everything. His father told him-he lived in the house with his father as a slave.

AC

He lived in the house as a houseboy. That's what he was, a houseboy. The people he lived with was his father, but it wasn't his mother. His mother was sold.

MP

Did he talk to you about how they treated him?

AC

He never did talk too much about it. I know he said that he used to go down to where the slaves lived sometimes, and he'd carry them sugar down there. They weren't supposed to use white sugar. And they had barrels and barrels of white sugar and brown sugar. The slaves could get brown sugar and molasses, but they couldn't use white sugar. He would take some of the white sugar to them, and they found out that the sugar was missing in the barrels. So they wrote S-U-G-A-R on it, and he couldn't get it because he couldn't read it. But how they treated him I never heard him say. I guess they treated him all right. I told you about the old lady.

MP

Yes, I think that's fascinating.

AC

You don't want that today.

MP

Well, tell it again so I'll be sure and have it because it's interesting. This is your father's father's wife. She was the one that had your father take the stuff out of her hair?

AC

Yes.

MP

Who was she?

AC

She was his father's wife. He was a houseboy, and when she'd have company, she had a big rocking chair, and she'd sit in that rocking chair and have him to sit behind the rocking chair. She'd be entertaining her guest, and every once and awhile she'd reach up and take a louse out of her hair. She'd put it back there for him to kill. So that was one of his jobs.

MP

Did she know that he was the son of her husband's?

AC

I suppose she did. The women knew it, but they couldn't protect themselves. They didn't know nothing to do and nowhere to go. Just the same as we are today. The women thought they had to stay there and take whatever the man put on them. Most of them men was mean to them women.

MP

Your father thought he had a sister?

AC

He thought he had a sister, but he wasn't sure.

MP

How did he know that he was free?

AC

His father told him.

MP

What did his father tell him to do?

AC

I don't know.

MP

Did he continue living there?

AC

He didn't say. I imagine he did. At ten years old, I don't know what he could do at ten years old. I imagine he stayed around there.

MP

What was his father's last name?

AC

My father's?

MP

Yes.

AC

William Brown.

MP

William Brown. And his father's last name was Brown?

AC

Yes.

MP

He never talked with you about whether his father taught him a skill or willed him land or anything?

AC

No.

MP

So then your father married. When did your father marry?

AC

He married my mother in Missouri.

MP

You don't know when he left Kentucky, do you?

AC

I think he was in-I think he lived in Tennessee. And I guess he moved from Tennessee to Missouri.

MP

Before he met your mother, did he own the land?

AC

I don't know. I knew he had a house built before any of us was born.

MP

He really had no idea about his relatives?

AC

No.

MP

Did he ever express sadness about that?

AC

No. He didn't seem to care.

MP

It didn't bother him one bit. Do you want to say something?

AC

No.

MP

What place in Missouri were you born?

AC

I was born in Kentucky.

MP

After your father went to Missouri...

AC

He married in Missouri and moved back to Kentucky.

MP

He moved back to where he was born in Kentucky? Was your father born in Kentucky or Tennessee?

AC

I think he was born in Tennessee because he talked about Tennessee. He must of left Tennessee and went to Missouri and met my mother. Then they moved to Kentucky.

MP

So you were born in Kentucky then? Was this in a rural town?

AC

A little town, Bandana.

MP

How is that spelled?

AC

B-A-N-D-A-N-A.

MP

Would you describe that little town?

AC

It had four streets. The center of the town had stores and shops. They had a street that go west, and a street that'd go north and go south. All the Colored people lived on the street that went south-most of them. But the schoolteachers lived on the street that went east. They all had little acres-some had small places. My father had a big place. Next door, they were small. Just a house on this side and a house on the other side, like that.

MP

Was there a lot of visiting between the neighbors?

AC

Just church and school. Of course, the kids would get together and play.

MP

Did you every play with the white kids?

AC

No. But before I was born there was a rich white family that used to send her little boy down for my mother to keep and to play with my older brother. I heard them say that he grew up with my brother.

MP

What kind of work did the other Black people in the community do?

AC

They did about the same thing my father did. Farmed, worked on farms and day work. Stuff like that. Most of them had gardens, and they'd go out and work for people for a day.

MP

Do you ever remember if there were any riots between Blacks and whites?

AC

No.

MP

Everybody knew their place and they stayed there, right? I want to ask.

AC

I know when they'd go to vote, the Black people-the men. The women didn't vote. The men would all get together and go to vote early so they wouldn't be there because when they had an election, they was always fighting and killing. You know the white people. Not the Colored people; the white people. Somebody would get killed during the election.

MP

You mean, the white would kill white people?

AC

Yeah.

MP

Do you know why that would happen?

AC

They'd just get in an argument.

MP

Over who they would vote for?

AC

Over who they would vote for

MP

And so the Black people would all get together and go early.

AC

And there wouldn't be any. Every election somebody would killed, get shot.

MP

In your town, were most of the people Democratic or Republican, or you don't know?

AC

No, I don't.

MP

Around what year was this? What year were you born?

AC

1892.

MP

We'd be talking about around 1910 when they were voting?

AC

Yes.

MP

Did any Black people ever run for office?

AC

No, not around there.

MP

So they then voted for whites. Did most of the Black people vote?

AC

Well, most of the people that had families voted.

MP

They didn't have any trouble with white people telling them they couldn't vote?

AC

No. But they had to pay a dollar. Everybody paid a dollar. They called it poll tax.

MP

How did your mother feel about not being able to vote?

AC

I don't know.

MP

She never talked with you about it?

AC

Well, I didn't know too much about my mother. I was five years old when she died.

MP

Did your sister ever tell you anything about your mother?

AC

Not too much.

MP

Did you have an older sister?

AC

An older sister. She didn't tell me too much.

MP

So you don't know where your mother was born?

AC

She was born in Missouri. Bird's Point, I think.

MP

What's it called?

AC

Bird's Point.

MP

Bird's Point, Missouri. .She had sisters and brothers there at Bird's Point.

MP

Did you ever talk with them?

AC

Well, I met one of her sisters after I was grown.

MP

Did she tell you anything about their family?

AC

Not too much.

MP

She didn't talk about where the family came from to Missouri?

AC

No. She had kids, and after I met them, I was mostly with the kids.

MP

So you really never had relatives you could talk to. How old was your oldest sister or brother when your mother died?

AC

Yes. She helped raise me.

MP

About old was she when your mother died?

AC

She was fourteen when my mother died.

MP

So she would remember some things about your mother, but she didn't tell you anything.

AC

Well, she talked some, but not too much.

MP

You weren't too curious to know. All right. Are you active in the church?

AC

Not too active.

MP

Were your parents? Was your father?

AC

No, he joined the Methodist church quite a ways from there, and there's only the Baptist church there because that was the only church. And he never did join the Baptist church. He always said he was a Methodist. He always went to the Baptist church. The Methodist church was so far away, he never did go there, but he never did join the Baptist church. He didn't want to be baptized.

MP

Did your father get married again?

AC

Yeah. He got married. He married a woman, and they lived together, I guess, about a year and they separated. She had three boys and one girl. They were all practically grown.

MP

Is that right? So they didn't quite hit it off too well. Do you remember anything about her?

AC

Well, I remember that she was nice to us. I think it was the children. He wanted the children to be like his children. When he said "go," you go. And when he says "come," he wanted them to come. But they were kinda slow about doing that. So he didn't like it too well.

MP

Was he a pretty strict father?

AC

Yes.

MP

Was he as strict with the boys as with the girls? Is it your impression that most fathers were kind of like that?

AC

Yes. He always had something for us to do, if it wasn't nothing but shelling corn in the wintertime.

MP

Why do you think he wanted you working all the time?

AC

He just wanted to learn us to work. We always had something to do.

MP

You were the baby in the family, weren't you?

AC

No, I had a brother, younger brother. His name is Dallas. He lives in Peoria.

MP

As a baby sister, did you have a lot to do, too?

AC

Not too much. I wasn't too healthy. I'd have the chills and fever and stuff like that. When I didn't want to do anything, I'd just sit out in the sun until I had a chill.

MP

I like that. (laughs)

AC

I'd sit out in the sun, and pretty soon I'd have a chill.

MP

You attended a school then in your hometown in Kentucky? Could you describe that school?

AC

It was just a one-room school. Everybody went there. Young kids and older kids up to the eighth grade. We had one teacher there that was there for years and years. White people hired the teacher. He was a man that liked music, but outside of that, he didn't care whether you learned or not.

MP

I wonder why he wasn't interested in your learning. Did your parents-was your father concerned about that?

AC

My father would go there and talk sometimes because he didn't know whether we were learning anything or not. A lot of times he'd go there when he'd (inaudible). And he'd talk about how you should learn and what you should learn.

MP

Was he the only teacher you ever had?

AC

After he left, we had a woman teacher, and she stayed about a year. Then there was two women.

MP

Were they any better than the man?

AC

Yes, they were better teachers.

MP

And you did learn from them. Do you remember what things you liked studying best?

AC

I don't know. I always wanted to be a designer. A hat designer.

MP

How did you develop an interest in designing hats?

AC

I don't know.

MP

When did you develop that interest?

AC

I guess I must have been about five or six years old. That was what I wanted-sewing. I didn't know much about hats. I did take it up here in Bloomington.

MP

Did you ever sell hats? Did you ever make money from it?

AC

I think I did.

MP

How far in school did you go?

AC

I went to the eighth grade.

MP

So you graduated from that school then?

AC

No, I didn't graduate. I just went to the eighth grade.

MP

The most important thing you remember about the school is that you didn't have a very good teacher. Was your teacher an old man?

AC

He was middle aged. But he was crazy about music. He'd just sing. He had a little chorus after school. He'd just sing all day.

MP

Did you join that chorus?

AC

No, I didn't join.

MP

Any of your brothers and sisters?

AC

My sister did. He learned them music and all that-notes.

MP

I guess he wanted to be a musician, perhaps.

AC

I guess he did.

MP

As a child, you had some recreational activities in Kentucky? Some fun activities as a child?

AC

Yeah.

MP

What kind of fun things did you do?

AC

We just played ball. And we played marbles. And we played with dolls. I had ten dolls at one time.

MP

Your father bought the dolls?

AC

Yes. He'd buy me a doll every Christmas, and I saved them and made clothes for them. I kept them nice.

MP

Who taught you how to sew?

AC

I taught myself.

MP

You don't have any of those dolls now, do you?

AC

No.

MP

What did your family do at Christmas time?

AC

We used to have ham more, you know. They'd cook up a lot of ham and pies and cakes and things. And the neighbors would all get together and they'd go from house to house. They'd eat here and then they'd go to the next house and eat. Apples and oranges and stuff like that, you know. Then they had Roman cannons and fire crackers. The kids had that to shoot.

MP

Do you remember if your family ever celebrated a holiday called June nineteenth or Juneteenth?

AC

I don't know. They celebrated the Eighth of August.

MP

What was that?

AC

That was something about the history of the Negroes. We'd all go to Paducah, Kentucky. On the Eighth of August people came from everywhere-the Eighth of August. They'd have a big celebration there.

MP

That's very interesting. Do you know if it had anything to do with when Black people got freedom? That this was a time that Black people learned that they were free, maybe?

AC

It was something. I don't remember now, but it was a celebration. Now, the white people they celebrated the Fourth of July, and the Black people celebrated the Eighth of August, but I think they've changed that to-it seems like they changed that to September or something they're using now.

MP

Is there anybody you can talk to to find out what that was? Relatives that might know?

AC

No, there aren't. The Eighth of August was a celebration of freedom in some way. But the Fourth of July they didn't celebrate.

MP

Black people didn't celebrate. They said our day is the Eighth of August.

AC

People would come in from Memphis and everywhere to Paducah. They had a big day.

MP

We'll talk more about that on the sixth.

AC

I don't when I learned. I know one thing. Many people talked so much about how mean the white people were. I'd go to church and the minister would talk about heaven and hell. I thought all white people went to hell, and all Colored people went to heaven. That was my thoughts because they said they were so mean, and that's all I could hear is meanness. When the church said-when they'd preach, I thought all Colored people went to heaven and all the white people went to hell.

MP

Because the preacher preached about how mean white people were?

AC

No. The parents would talk about how mean-not the preacher.

MP

Oh, adults would talk about how mean white people were? Did your father talk about that?

AC

Oh, yes. That's all I could hear.

MP

What kinds of things would he say about white people?

AC

Well, they'd just talk about slavery and how they came up. And how mean they were. I never did hear about how good they were. But they all worked and got along together. Then the neighbors would come around, and they would talk the same thing. So that was my thoughts-the first thing I thought like this.

MP

Did they describe what white people did to Black people?

AC

No, I don't remember. It was always something that they did way back-not then.

MP

They were probably talking about slavery, right. Did they ever talk about lynchings?

AC

Not too much. I don't think I heard too much about lynching.

MP

When did you have your first contact with a white person?

AC

I don't remember.

MP

Did your father ever teach you how you should behave toward white people?

AC

No, he just taught us to treat everybody nice. He didn't say white or Colored.

MP

Did he ever tell you that you shouldn't go in certain stores or certain movie houses or neighborhoods where white people lived?

AC

No.

MP

But did you know you weren't supposed to do those things?

AC

No. We could go anywhere we wanted to in town.

MP

What about the movie houses? Could you go to movie houses?

AC

They didn't have none.

MP

But you could go to the stores?

AC

Oh, yes.

MP

Could you try on clothes?

AC

Yes.

MP

You could? That's interesting. But you couldn't go to their schools though?

AC

That's the only thing.

MP

Did that ever concern you? Did you ever ask questions about that?

AC

No. I just thought it was supposed to be. But the schools now-they have mixed schools [in Kentucky] in the same place where I left.

MP

Do you go down there very often?

AC

No.

MP

Do you think these stories that you heard adults talk about the white people being mean had any effect on you as an adult?

AC

Yes. Oh, yeah. I just got that feeling. I'd rather be with my own people.

MP

Have you ever had any white person who was a friend of yours?

AC

Not too-no. Not as a special friend, no. I've had people that were nice to talk to and things like that, but I still when it comes to friends, I guess, I'm kind of-I shy back. I don't-I can't see it. I'm not too close to any of them.

MP

I understand what you're saying. I'm going to ask some general things now about your life. What has been the best part of your life?

AC

I guess when I retired.

MP

Why?

AC

I had a chance to go a lot of places and to see a lot of things. I've been to almost every state in the union.

MP

A kind of independence, right?

AC

Un-huh.

End Side A

Side B

AC

I had some friends from Chattanooga, Tennessee that lived with me about four years ago. And they keep up with me. Every year, when they have their family reunion, they invite me.

MP

Now, were these students who used to live with you?

AC

No, he was a student. He was learning the brick mason, but he wasn't in the general school. They lived with me, and they keep up with me and they invite me to their home and everything. So I went this year to Chattanooga, Tennessee-that's where they live-and stayed there about three days. I went to Atlanta, Georgia. That's where the family reunion was. They had a nice family reunion. We stayed in a big motel and everything. Then she has a son-they have a son that's a judge. (inaudible sentence) He and his wife, she's a lawyer and he's a judge. So they had made arrangements in place of going back to Chattanooga, we went out to they house. We stayed three days. They both were working, but we were in the house there. Then they take me to Tuskegee. They take me to Tuskegee. (at this point Anna Clark describes a visit to a big church in Atlanta, a trip to a waterfalls and cave near Chattanooga, a tour of big homes in Chattanooga, and the family's kindness. Tape is turned off for awhile)

MP

And enjoy it. That's what's great. I just want to ask you one other thing. What things have helped you the most in your life? Some people may say a certain individual helped them or inspired them, the church or school, your family. What has helped you the most with your life would you say?

AC

I think my first husband. He taught me a lot about life, saving. He always said, "I'll teach you all I know." He knew a lot. He taught me about people.

MP

He was in business?

AC

Yes. He taught me about people. He could look at a person and tell more about them than most people could. He taught me a lot of things like that.

MP

And he taught you about saving your money?

AC

Un-huh. Well, I knew that too before I married him, but he taught me more how to plan and save.

MP

Did you learn about the value of saving money from your father?

AC

No. He always kept his own money. He had money, but he never distributed it around with it. (laughter)

MP

What has been the most difficult part of your life?

AC

I've had a pretty good life all along.

MP

You've had good health, right?

AC

Un-huh. I haven't had too much...

MP

And you were the baby girl in the family.

AC

Yeah. I can't say I had too-everything's been easy for me, practically.

MP

One of the reasons why we're doing this is so that young people, particularly young Black people, can learn what life was like for older Blacks and how they managed. If you had one thing to say to young people, particularly young Black people, what would you say to them now that might help them?

AC

The first thing I would say is to stay off of drugs. Get a good job and make some money. And save a little of it because you'll never know when you're going to need some of it and not spend to all. Just stay off of drugs and treat people like you'd like to be treated. That's been my motto "treat people like you'd like to be treated." I've had no trouble with people. Never did.

MP

You did a lot for young people when you kept some of the young students at Illinois State University in your home. You gave them a home and treated them like your children.

AC

I was telling the minister down at church-he's a teacher out to the school. He's a teacher and a student. I don't remember his name. He has a lot of gray mustache, and he's from Chicago. And I was telling him how hard it was for the students years ago. I told him that I had eight boys to stay with me. And they all made good, but they had it hard. They couldn't eat in the cafeteria. Couldn't stay in the dormitory. That's why I had them and different people had them because they had to stay in homes. Like a house here. Maybe I'd have one, and somebody else might have had two. If you had a big house, you had four (inaudible). But them boys I had, they all made good. Elroy Young he's a bone specialist in Baltimore. I helped him a lot because his mother wasn't able to send him. I was in southern Illinois. They told me he was an excellent student, and that he wanted to be a doctor when he was five years old. Didn't know any thing about a doctor. He wanted to be a doctor. That's the reason, I think, that people at a young age know what they want to do and use it, they do it if they really want to do it. So then I had another boy from southern Illinois. I had three boys. George Cross. He's a principal of a school in East Saint Louis. Richard Ruffin is a doctor in Cleveland, Ohio. Elroy and he were good friends. They went to the army together and stayed together. Elon de Bois from Clinton. He's a doctor in Gary, Indians. I can't think of the artist's name in St. Louis. A man from here, Aubrey Hursey, went to his home, and his home is all made up of junk. All kind of junk that he has collected and made it into something.

MP

You said some man from here visited his home. What was his name?

AC

Rev. Hursey. He's dead now.

MP

So all these young people turned out very well. I think that's remarkable. How would you say Bloomington-Normal has changed from the time you came here in 1916?

AC

It's built out. They used to have a big business downtown. Everything was right down on the square, but here's nothing down there any more. It's all went out to the malls. All the business is out there, practically all of it.

MP

How many Black businesses were here when you came?

AC

They had a barbershop, pool hall, restaurant. I think they had two barbershops. One barbershop in Normal, and two in Bloomington. They had-I can't think what they're called. They take your stuff.

MP

Cleaners?

AC

Yeah. They had cleaners.

MP

Repair shop?

AC

Pawn shop. They had a pawn shop here for years. Mr. Rush run that pawn shop on Center Street. He was right downtown. That's about all they had, I think.

MP

Now there's only one Black business downtown, isn't that right? Mr. Gaston's barbershop.

AC

Gaston's barbershop And I heard that there's a restaurant down there, but I don't know.

MP

I think it's closed now. So that's one change. Any other changes?

AC

The town has growed. It was just four miles square when I came. That's what they said, it was four miles square-Bloomington. So it's really growed. Then we had a doctor here, Dr. Covington. Then after I was here awhile, they had two [Black] undertakers here and two [Black] doctors and a [Black] dentist. They came here along during the Depression, and the Depression caught them here. After the Depression you know, they left.

MP

Do you remember any inventors? People who have invented things? Developed things like the Oil of Gladness? I know people have talked about that. Any others that you remember?

AC

Yeah. Let's see. We had a painter here named Revy Rhoades. I don't know if you call him an inventor. He painted most all those signs around.

MP

Oh, he was sign painter. He had his own business.

AC

Outside of that I don't know of anybody.

MP

Was there anybody here that discovered a soap.

AC

Not that I know of. Only me. (laughs)

MP

Oh yes, you make your own soap, I know. Who taught you how to make your soap?

AC

That girl in Chattanooga.

MP

Oh, your friend. She taught you how to make soap.

AC

She worked out in service when she was here, for a woman who paid twenty-five dollars for this recipe, soap recipe. She give it to her and told her she paid twenty-five dollars for the recipe.

MP

Did she get it from a Black person or a white person?

AC

I don't know where she got it, but she was a white woman.

MP

Yes. Do you know anything about 1921, I think, when women were permitted to vote? Do you remember that incident at all?

AC

No. I don't remember. I can't remember that. I know about when, but I.

MP

I see. You don't remember what was important about it. Do you know anything about Prohibition? People weren't supposed to drink whiskey.

AC

I don't remember too much. I know they had it, but I don't remember too much about it.

MP

What about-you wouldn't remember anything about World War I, would you?

AC

I remember all the Black soldiers leaving, going to World War I-Howard Brent, the Stearles.

MP

Spell that.

AC

S-T-E-A-R-L-E-S. And the two Skinner boys, Herbert and Torrence. I remember them all going on the same train. They all went together.

MP

Did you see them getting on the train?

AC

Un-huh.

MP

Tell something about that incident. Did several people go down to the station? A lot of people gathered around the station to see them go?

AC

Yes. Their people. You know, their mothers and fathers.

MP

Did you go down?

AC

Yes. I was there because our place was right there. Everybody teased my husband, you know, and he teased everybody. He was waving at them and telling them "goodbye." They was laughing. He used to sell pig's feet. So he wrote a letter over there to Homer Skinner. "You owe me for such and such how many pig feet." And Homer said he passed it all up and down the trenches. "Here, Ike Sanders is wanting me to send him money for pig's feet." He used to tease people. He was quite a cutup. He liked to tease people.

MP

Do you remember what you thought when these people were going to the war?

AC

I don't know. I didn't think they was going to be back. I just thought they were going to war.

MP

How many of them did come back?

AC

Practically all of them except one. His name was Redd Williams. [Johnny Redd and Gus Williams]

MP

Redd Williams?

AC

Un-huh. He was-he's out there in the cemetery, Redd Williams.

MP

Do you remember when they returned? What was it like?

AC

Well everyone was happy. They had a big dance.

MP

Where did they have the big dance?

AC

At the Chatterton Theater.

MP

The white people and the Black people had their separate dance?

AC

Well Black people had it. I guess there was a lot of white people there, too, 'cause it was a big place. I remember wives and daughters dancing. Willie Sellers and Howard Brent. Howard Brent sang a solo. And Lucinda [Miller] was there. She thought if [she] could just marry a man who had a voice like that, she'd be happy. Finally she married him.

MP

Were you at the dance? You and your husband?

AC

Yes.

MP

So that was really a happy time, right? Did they ever talk about what being in the war was like? You don't remember.

AC

A lot of them talked about it.

MP

Do you remember what things they said?

AC

They said they had to dig trenches, and they was down in those trenches most of the time.

MP

The Blacks had their separate regiments, right?

AC

I think they did.

MP

What things did women do to help with the war effort?

AC

A lot of them worked with the Red Cross. Now Mrs. Henderson she worked for the Red Cross. Mabel Henderson.

MP

Is she dead now?

AC

Yes, she's dead.

MP

She was a Black person?

AC

Yes. She worked for them, and after the war, she still worked for the Red Cross.

MP

As a volunteer? Any others that you remember that worked with the Red Cross.

AC

She went abroad with them after it was over.

MP

With the Red Cross?

AC

With the Red Cross. She went to France and Germany.

MP

What did she do there? She was helping the men.?

AC

She'd go down to the station and give them coffee and doughnuts and whatever they had, you know.

MP

In France?

AC

No, in Bloomington. Then she worked with the blood unit after [the war].

MP

Were there any efforts to collect things to send the men overseas?

AC

We had a little club, and we'd write letters to the boys over there. I've forgot the name of the club now. Anyway, I was in there. You picked out a name, and I picked out John White. He's dead now, too. He was in Africa. I used to write letters to him. He was just a youngster, you know. So when he'd write back, he'd say "Dear Anna." (laughs) He'd tell me how beautiful the flowers was there and how everything was.

MP

Do you have any of those letters?

AC

Then we'd have a club meeting. We'd read our letters. We had a lot of fun.

MP

That must have been great. How often did you meet?

AC

About once a month.

MP

Who were some of the other people who were in the club?

AC

Golda Manuel. She lives in Gary, Indiana. And Ella Lee Stokes. There must have been about twelve of us.

MP

Do you have any copies of the letters?

AC

No.

MP

Any other things that you did to help them?

AC

We used to send boxes of candy and Christmas things. We'd get together and send a box of candy and a box of cookies.

MP

Do you see all the things that I didn't get on the other tape?

AC

Seems to me like that was in the Second World War.

MP

So everything we were talking about was World War II, right?

AC

The first was World War I.

MP

The first part of your discussion up when they went down, that was World War I-the Brents and everything. World War II was when the club was organized to help?

AC

We didn't organize during World War I, but World War II we did. That's why he was in Africa.

MP

That's what I thought. Did he come back?

AC

Yes.

MP

Was there a big celebration when men came home from World War II?

AC

I think they had a street parade.

MP

Do you remember if there were any men from Bloomington-Normal who went to either World War I or World War II who received any special kinds of awards for their service?

AC

Mr. Stearles. They called him "Loach" Stearles.

MP

They called him Mr. Loach. L-O-A-C-H?

AC

But that wasn't his name. That was his nickname. Stearles? I can't think of his first name. Anyway he was made a lieutenant or captain or something. He was over the men, over the Bloomington men. He was from Bloomington.

MP

Any others?

AC

That's all I know of.

MP

Do you remember when you had your first radio?

AC

Yeah. My first husband's sister's husband made a little radio and sent it to us.

MP

From where?

AC

From Boston, Massachusetts. That's the first one I ever heard.

MP

About what year was that?

AC

That must have been 1926 or [19]27.

MP

That's your first experience with a radio. What kind of light did you use in your home when you were a child when you grew up in Kentucky?

AC

We just had lamp light.

MP

Kerosene light?

AC

Un-huh.

MP

And when did you stop using kerosene?

AC

Down there? We never did have electricity there.

MP

When did you first use electricity?

AC

Here in Bloomington.

MP

When you came to Bloomington was your first experience with electricity? How old were you then?

AC

I must have been twenty-three when I came to Bloomington.

MP

So this would have been around nineteen what? 1930?

AC`

1916.

MP

1916 when you came to Bloomington? Oh, all right. And so you had electricity then in your-you lived with your sister in southern Illinois when you first came to Illinois, didn't you? And she didn't have electricity?

MP

You lived in southern Illinois with your sister and you didn't have electricity?

AC

No.

MP

When you came here you started to work for some white family, and you lived with them. And that was your first experience with-they had electricity at that time?

AC

Yes.

MP

How did you react to your first time with electricity?

AC

I acted all right. I didn't act no different.

MP

I just wondered if you found it kind of strange. You don't remember.

AC

No.

MP

What about your first telephone?

AC

We had telephones down in Kentucky when I was a kid. White people had it. We didn't. But you could use their phone.

MP

You could go to the family's home and use their phone?

AC

Un-huh. You could use their phones.

MP

You didn't have pay telephones?

AC

No.

MP

Of course, automobiles. When did you have your first experience with an automobile?

AC

I don't remember.

MP

In Kentucky as a child?

AC

I guess it was.

MP

Any other first experiences that you had? Toilet? When did you go to your first indoor toilet?

AC

I guess it was here in Bloomington.

MP

Did your sister have an indoor toilet?

AC

No.

MP

When you came to Bloomington, the family you began to work for had indoor toilets?

AC

Un-huh. That was in 1916.

MP

In your first home-when did you move into your own home?

AC

After I got married.

MP

You lived in service until you got married?

AC

I married in 1917 to Ike Sanders.

MP

Did he own his home then?

AC

He was renting. He had a business down on West Washington Street. So he didn't own. He just rented.

MP

And he lived in that in the upstairs?

AC

Un-huh, upstairs.

MP

Yes. Did you have indoor facilities there?

AC

Yes. Un-huh.

MP

So you didn't have to experience any outdoor toilets any more.

AC

No. (laughter)

MP

Well, I think I've got everything else I wanted. You must be tired now.

AC

No.

MP

You have a fantastic memory.

AC

Well, a lot of things I should remember I don't remember.

MP

I think it's remarkable your memory, and that's why I wanted to be able to come back and get it from you because most other people won't be able to remember these things.

AC

I'd like to show you some of my pictures.

End Side B

Lue Anna Sanders Clark about Ike Sanders & Black Business

Date: January 1, 1980
Interviewers: Mildred Pratt


DATE UNKNOWN, SOMETIME IN THE LATE 1980s

Side A

MP

Now, your husband's full name was Isaac Sanders, and he was called Ike.

AC

Yes.

MP

When you met him he had a business. Would you begin and tell us where that business was located?

AC

When I met him, he had just sold his business. It was down on South Main Street, right downtown. It was on Olive Street downtown down there under the viaduct.

MP

How long had he operated that business before you met him?

AC

For about two years.

MP

What was he doing before he started that business?

AC

Well, he lived in Boston, Massachusetts. And he come back here, and he started his business. And he had a business before he left. He had a restaurant before he left. [The restaurant] was here. He started the first restaurant in Bloomington. And his wife died, and he had a sister in Boston so he went out there. And he was out there awhile, then he come back to Bloomington. He sold his business here after she died.

MP

To whom did he sell it? Do you know?

AC

I don't know. When he come back here, he rented another place down close to the square downtown. And the man he rented it from-the city people didn't want him there because he was Black so they-the man that he rented from wanted him to give the lease up with just nothing, you know. So he told them he would give the lease up if he would pay him the lease. So he didn't want to pay. And met one of his friends-he first went to the lawyer, and the lawyer told him to go to the bank and get $25.00. That's what the rent was. And then, take it back and offer it to him in gold. And if he didn't take it the third time he offered it to him, he wouldn't have to pay because gold was standard money. So he went and got the money, and he was on his way down there, and he met one of his friends. And he asked him if he would walk back to the office with him. He didn't tell him what he wanted because he probably wouldn't have went. So he got up there and he said to Mr. Dolan, "Mr. Dolan, here's your rent money." And he offered it to him. (inaudible sentence) He knew Mr. Ford."Oh, Mr. Ford, what'll I do. What'll I do?" And Mr. Ford didn't know what was going on. So he offered it to him the second time, and he didn't take it. And the third time he offered it to him, he did. Then he paid him for his lease. And when I met him, he wasn't doing anything at that time. I guess it had been three or four months. I seen him in his building. I passed there one time and seen him in there, but I didn't know who he was. Then I met him, and we went around together about-well, I met him in May, and I don't remember when he started down here on Washington Street.

MP

Do you know what year you met him?

AC

1916.

MP

1916 is when you met him, and he had just sold the business?

AC

We got married in 1917.

MP

This was your first marriage, right?

AC

Yes. I worked out in a private family, and we'd meet on a Sunday, you know. We'd go to church or something like that. And finally, we decided to get married.

MP

And when did he start the second business? After you were married, he started the business, right?

AC

Oh, he had the business going before we married.

MP

Oh, I see. He had just got that business.

AC

He wasn't out of the other place too long. He started the business down here on Washington Street.

MP

Do you know how he got interested in the restaurant business? When did he- was he always interested in the restaurant business? How did he happen to get started in the restaurant business?

AC

He was working for Adlai Stevenson when he was a young man.

MP

What did he do for him?

AC

He just drove him around. He was a chauffeur and stuff like that. And he helped him clean house and everything, and he said Mrs. Stevenson.

MP

That's his mother-Adlai Stevenson's mother?

AC

Yeah, that's Stevenson's-Adlai Stevenson's mother. She said to him one day that she wanted him to get the carriage ready and wanted to drive downtown, carry her downtown. So he got it ready and everything. He cleaned himself all up, and she went upstairs and threwed a big rug down and hollered down and told him to beat that rug. And it made him mad. He said he got so mad that he went in and told them to give him his money, and then he started a business after that. So he got all cleaned up and everything. Then she hollered to beat that rug.

MP

That was insulting to him, right?

AC

Un-huh. So she pleaded with him, and Mr. Stevenson pleaded with him, but he didn't go back. He started his business.

MP

Did he have any relatives who had been involved in the restaurant business?

AC

No.

MP

He just had the idea he was going to start his own business?

AC

Yes. Well, he started with another man. His name was-wasn't Skinner. Was it Skinner? I can't think of his name right now. But he started with another man. They opened up a nice place, and they had everything nice. He said this man went and bought a whole lot of tables and chairs and furniture, and he didn't approve of it. So he went along two or three weeks, and this man told him, "Now you can have the business because I don't think I want it anymore." So he had all that debt because they went in together. There was a man here that had a big furniture store. His name was Kirkpatrick, a rich man. They had bought it from Kirkpatrick. So he went down and explained to Mr. Kirkpatrick what had happened. So Mr. Kirkpatrick turned and looked at him, and he told him, he said, "Now, I'm going to mark this paid. You don't have to pay me anything. But don't you ever go into business with nobody else. Any business you have, you go in for yourself." So he never did go in with anybody.

MP

Now, he had a barbershop. Did your husband cut hair?

AC

He had a barbershop and the restaurant all together.

MP

Who did the barbering?

AC

His name was Joe Boone. He was a crippled man. And he was the barber.

MP

And then did he pay rent to your husband?

AC

No. I think Mr. Boone left and went to Peoria.

MP

Why don't you tell me about when your husband started the business on Washington Street?

AC

Well, he had it started before we was married. I wasn't in on that, but he told me about that. And the way he did that was, he called it the working man's club. Each person that wanted to go in had put their name down and had to give a dollar because they were. In other words, he collected a dollar from each one of the people that signed their name. It was kind of a private affair for awhile. You know how people are. They just rush in whether it's private or not. Then it got to be that everybody come. Then he had a man help (inaudible) and a man doing the cooking and serving. Then he had the barbershop. He had six rooms upstairs. He lived in the front part. And there were three rooms in back, and he rented them out. So we only paid $25.00 a month for rent.

MP

Who did the barbering?

AC

I don't remember what his name was. But this Mr. Boone was down on Main Street.

MP

Do you know how much he charged to rent his rooms out?

AC

Per room? I think it was $3.00. No, $1.00 a night I believe it was. I think that's what it was. And we had men. We didn't have no women. No women stayed there. Then after we got married, I was the only woman who stayed there. But we had our quarters in front, and these other rooms was in the back.

MP

What hours did the business open?

AC

We opened at 8:30 [A. M.] or 9:00 o'clock.

MP

And what time did it close?

AC

11:00 [P. M.] or 12:00.

MP

Who was responsible for the books, the accounting? Who kept the records? Who paid the bills?

AC

He did.

MP

He kept the books?

AC

Un-huh.

MP

You didn't help with the books at all?

AC

No. Then finally he gave me the restaurant part, and so anyway he put me on the restaurant. That was my-then he had the drinks and barbershop and all that.

MP

Oh, that's interesting. So you were in control then of the restaurant, and you kept the books.

AC

I didn't keep no books, I just take in the money. I'd do the buying.

MP

Did you make the menus?

AC

Yes.

MP

Where did you get that experience? You did the cooking?

AC

I had a man there helping me cook. And he [Ike Sanders] would help me cook, too. We worked together.

MP

Tell me-I think he had great faith in you right to give you that restaurant. Tell me what kind of food you served.

AC

Well, we served mostly just cheap meat. We had beef stew. We had steak for anybody wanted it. Very few wanted it. (inaudible) Beef stew and steak and pig ears, and pig feet. We had a great big lard can full of feet and ears. Then neck bones. We had neck bones down on the bottom and the feet on the necks. Then the ears on the necks. Everybody said whatever you asked for, you'd just go to that pot and get it.

MP

Who waited the tables?

AC

I did. And he did too. Then the people was nice. Women would be around and if you got a lot of extra, they would just jump in and help you. Everybody was nice. And we had fish every Friday.

MP

Who were your customers? Were they primarily travelers or people who lived in the community?

AC

People in the community. People from all over town, Normal and everywhere. They had the shop going-the railway shop, and all of them.

MP

The workmen came there to eat?

AC

And they had the coal mine going, and all of those people came in.

MP

White and Blacks came to your restaurant?

AC

White and Black and Spanish people. We had a lot of Spanish people because they worked on the railroad. And they were (unclear).

MP

So, would you say, your business did really well? It was a good business? Would you say your business was very productive? That you earned quite a bit of money from the business?

AC

Yes.

MP

But you had to work long hours, though.

AC

Oh, yeah. We didn't really have no hours. We just worked until the people left. We'd get out early in the morning and walk all over town, you know. Get exercise.

MP

Oh, you and your husband did? And then you would start work? Whose idea was that to do that walk?

AC

Him.

MP

Did you put your money in a bank?

AC

Yeah, what we had we put in a bank.

MP

You said Redd Fox came to your business? Would you tell that story again?

AC

Yes. Well, he was just a boy.

MP

About how old was he?

AC

He must have been about-he might have been thirteen years or fourteen years old. They had a race riot down in Saint Louis.

MP

What year was that about?

AC

It must have been 1917, I think. And I forgot what the race riot was about, but they had a race riot down there. And a lot of people came from Saint Louis here and he come in there with a bunch of men, and he had a sack, a little brown sack with sugar and coffee mix. And he come up to me, and he said, "Lady, would you trade me a piece of meat for this sugar and coffee mix?" So I didn't know what to do. I had to ask Mr. Sanders. He said, "No, we can't do that." So I give him-I fixed him- we never did turn anybody down who wanted anything.

MP

Did you have quite a few people who came in like that who did not have money?

AC

Yes, quite a few long at that time.

MP

Did you know he was Redd Fox at that time? How did you know he was Redd Fox?

AC

Well, after I heard his voice and seen him, I just knew it was him by his singing voice. I wrote him a letter, but he never answered.

MP

When did you write to him?

AC

I just asked him if he was in Bloomington at that time, but I didn't get no answer.

MP

Are there any other interesting stories of things that happened in the business?

AC

Something funny going on all the time. Everybody knowed each other, and they were laughing and joking. We just didn't have to go nowhere. It was just like a show.

MP

Did you have a bowling table?

AC

No.

MP

Pinball or how do you say?

AC

We had a pool table. I learned my second husband how to play pool, and Sanders learned me. My second husband used to come in everyday. He wasn't spending anything. He'd just come around and sit around. He couldn't play pool, and there were a couple of other women who could play pool. Mr. Sanders called him "Brother-in-law" because when he came to town, he was looking for his sister, and he didn't know his sister's married name. And he was guessing at it. (inaudible) some of the Nathans, you know. (inaudible) And sure enough, it was his sister. Then he come back in there, and he called him Brother-in-law. He had a name for everybody, you know.

MP

So your husband had quite a sense of humor?

AC

Oh, yeah. He was a funny type person. You could walk in that door, and he could call your name.

MP

He was a very brilliant man, wasn't he?

AC

Yes.

MP

Did you own a car at that time? How did you get around?

AC

Bus-no, streetcar.

MP

How long did the business operate? When did the business close?

AC

It must have been in 1919.

MP

He opened that one in 1917, and it closed in 1919. Why did it close?

AC

Well, this man bought the building. Another Colored man bought the building.

MP

Do you know who he was?

AC

Mr. Berton

MP

Mr. Burton? B-U-R-T-O-N?

AC

B-E-R-T-O-N. [Henry Burton in city directory]

MP

He bought the building? He lived in Bloomington?

AC

Yeah. So, they were friends, but he never come in to look at the building or anything. He just kind of undermined-when we knew anything, he had bought the building.

MP

And what did he do with the building?

AC

He rented it out. He cut it up into rooms just like it is now.

MP

So, he didn't want your husband operating the business then, right? Your husband was leasing from him, right?

AC

No, not from him. He was leasing from a white woman.

MP

And this man bought the building from this white woman.

AC

Un-huh.

MP

So then what did your husband do?

AC

We didn't do anything. We went out on East Empire and got a room. Then we stayed out there about a year. And then we rented a place down on South Main Street that just kept roomers. That's over where the viaduct is. There wasn't a viaduct there then. There is a big brick building there right about in the middle of the viaduct, and he rented that. And we moved there. We had three rooms. We stayed until he died.

MP

I guess he was very sad about the business closing?

AC

Yeah.

MP

And when did your husband die?

AC

1939, I believe. (seems uncertain)

MP

He didn't work anymore?

AC

No.

MP

And then you married your other husband. What was his name?

AC

Alonzo Clark.

MP

When did you marry him?

AC

We married in 1950.

MP

What did he do?

AC

He was a porter down at the train station. He worked down there.

MP

And you didn't do any more business? Did you do any business after that?

AC

No. I got a job after Mr. Sanders died-I got a job at Livingston Store, and I stayed there twelve years. Then, after that the Depression come, and they had to let so many people go. So they let me go, and I didn't work no more then for about a year. Then I got the job working out in a private family, some rich people. (inaudible) Burt Read, they owned the Portable Elevator [Manufacturing] Company. I stayed with them for about two years, I guess.

MP

But, you also had these young students, these young men who attended ISU living with you then, didn't you?

AC

After I left Mr. Read's, I was living and working out at the university. I lived with Rev. Aubrey Hursey and his family out there in Normal where Mrs. Calimese lived. So he bought a house downtown and moved downtown. So I rented the house, and then I started keeping students. That was in Normal. I was working at the Soldiers and Sailors Children's School.

MP

What address was that? What street did you live on when you had the young men who attended ISU.

AC

It was on University and Church Streets.

MP

That was near where Mrs. Calimese's house is?

AC

Yes.

MP

Yes. You weren't married then.

AC

No.

MP

So you rented that. These young men lived there. So you got a little bit of rent from them, and you worked at Illinois Soldiers and Sailors.

AC

I didn't have to pay no expenses. I just stayed there.

MP

So that was the end of your business adventure. I want now to talk with you about what you remember about World War I. And how the men from here went, left to go fight in the war, and what happened when it was over and, were women involved in any kinds of activities to help the men.

AC

Well, there must have been about fourteen or fifteen-maybe more than that of our men that left all at one time. We went down to see them go on the train. And the trains was full of soldiers going and coming. One of the boys wrote back to Mr. Sanders and told him that he was in the trenches in France. So he owed Mr. Sanders a little bill. So Mr. Sanders wrote him back and told him to send his money to him. And he passed the letter all up and down the trench. The boys had a good time, "Old Ike Sanders is wanting me to send him his money." He just did it for fun.

MP

Do you know the names of these fifteen men who went off to the war together?

AC

Homer Skinner and Torrence Skinner, Howard Brent, Charlie Thomas, They called him "Sug" Thomas. And Mr. Stearles and Lucinda's brother. I can't think of his name.

MP

Did Mr. Alonzo Walton go that time?

AC

Yes, he was in the Army. Willie Sellers, that was Lucinda's brother.

MP

So, you all went down there to see them off. Were the women organized to help the men, to send them cookies and letters and things while they were there?

AC

Yeah.

MP

What was the name of the group?

AC

Fred Hutchinson Club.

MP

Fred Hutchinson, that was the name of it?

AC

Yeah.

MP

How many members?

AC

There was a doctor from Chicago who come down here and started this Fred Hutchinson Club. I forget his name.

MP

Why was the club called Fred Hutchinson?

AC

Why was it called that? I don't remember whether his name was Hutchinson or not. Anyway, we used to meet down at the McBarnes Building where we was at the other day. I think there was about ten or fifteen women.

MP

Do you remember any of the names of the ladies?

AC

Yeah. Mrs. Shavers, Golda Manual, myself, all the women that had anybody in there was there. So they picked out names who they'd write to and who they'd send cookies and things to. So we'd get together and we'd have all these cookies and everything, and we would send them. I picked out a boy by the name of John White. I knowed him all his life, and he used to write me letters back when he's in Africa. And he'd write me letters back and said the flowers are so beautiful and everything's so pretty and everything. He always called me Anna. We got a kick out of that because people was always calling me Mrs. Sanders. So we sent a lot of cookies and stuff. We marched through town once. I have the pictures over there.

MP

When they came back?

AC

No, the women marching through town.

MP

And what was the purpose of that?

AC

Just to let the people know...

MP

that you were supporting the men. This was just the Hutchinson Club that did this?

AC

Un-huh.

MP

Do you have any of the letters that this young man wrote to you while he was in the war?

AC

No. He's dead now.

MP

And what about when they came back from the war? Did your group do anything when they came back from the war?

AC

They all come back all except two.

MP

What two did not come back?

AC

The Redd-Williams Post. One of the boys his last name was Williams. The other boy was from Pontiac. They formed a club. They called it the Redd-Williams Post, and them the two boys who didn't come back. I don't think they got killed. I think they just died from some kind of disease. I don't think they got shot.

MP

Did your group meet them at the train when the boys came back from the war?

AC

I guess they did. They knowed they were coming. When they come back, they had a big dance.

MP

Tell me about that. Who sponsored the dance?

AC

I don't know who sponsored it. We had a place they called Chatterton Theater. It's torn down now. And, the boys and their wives.

MP

That was for the Black and the white boys together-they had the dance?

AC

Yes, but it was mostly Black, but there were a lot of white people there.

MP

The Black group sponsored it?

AC

Yeah. They didn't do much mixing back then. Of course, a lot of white people were sitting around.

MP

Do you remember if any of these Blacks who served in World War I, did they receive any kind of awards for distinguished service?

AC

I don't remember.

MP

Did Mr. Calimese go-was he in World War I? Napoleon, Mrs. Calimese's husband, was he in World War I?

AC

Yes, he was in there, too. `Cause I know she said he got sick, and they thought he was going to die. And he made it back to New York, and he was sick there a long time.

MP

Now, this Mr. Donald Clark, do you know him?

AC

Yes.

MP

He served in World War I for a few months.

AC

Was he in it, too?

MP

Yes. He said for about three months, but he never went overseas. The war ended before he had to go overseas.

AC

Yeah, they taken most all the men around.

MP

Was that the only club-the Hutchinson's Club was the only club organized to your knowledge to help the men in service?

AC

Yes.

MP

In World War I?

AC

Yeah.

MP

What about World War II? Were they any clubs organized to help the men that served in World War II?

AC

No, I don't think so.

MP

You don't think so.

AC

They kind of got used to wars and it was.

MP

and it was nothing special. Un-huh. (tape is turned off)

MP

Would you tell me about the Thomases?

AC

There were two brothers, and they worked together in the blacksmith's shop. One of them was named "Wash" Thomas, and the other one was named. I can't think of it. (inaudible sentence) They shoed horses and things like that.

MP

Did they have a very good business? Did you ever see their business?

AC

I passed the building, but I never did see them working or anything.

MP

Did they own the building?

AC

I don't know, I don't believe they did.

MP

But, they did a good business?

AC

Un-huh.

MP

Do you have any idea how long the business operated?

AC

I guess it must have been in there a long time. I guess that's about all they ever did.

End Side A

Side B

AC

I think [Willis Stearles] was over the men over there in France, and he was kind of-so the men said, he was kind of hard on the men. What I mean he didn't treat them too good.

MP

Was he an officer?

AC

Some kind of officer and when he come back here-when they all come back, he heard that some of them were going to get even with him, and he left here and went to Peoria and stayed there a long time. About a year, I guess, or so. Then, he come back and he married Mrs. Stearles. They were sweethearts from years ago. He married her. Then he got a job out here taking care of the animals in Miller Park.

MP

Did the men ever do anything to him?

AC

No.

MP

But they said he was cruel to them?

AC

That's what some of them said. I guess he's trying to hold a job, you know.

MP

That's true.

AC

They thought he was cruel.

AC

Maybe he was just doing his job. So that's what they were talking about it.

MP

What was his wife's name before she got married to him? Did you know he wife?

AC

Un-huh.

MP

What was her name before she married him?

AC

I can't think of it. Catherine. (long silence) I knowed her father. He used to come and eat with us.

MP

Oh, what did he do?

AC

He was a house cleaner and things like that?

MP

Did he operate a business?

AC

No. He just worked around in private families.

MP

I understand that she owned a house, did she?

AC

Yes.

MP

Do you know how she came to own that house?

AC

Her father bought it.

MP

How did he come to have that much money?

AC

I don't know. He saved it, I guess.

MP

From working?

AC

Un-huh. He had a nice big two-story house.

MP

Somebody thought that a white family in Kentucky may have helped them with it. You don't know anything about that?

AC

No. He was a hard worker. I know he would come in, and his hands were just, just.

MP

raw.

AC

His hands were rough. He'd been given so many hard jobs.

MP

How many businesses do you know, Black businesses, were operating when your husband owned his business-Mr. Saunders (sic)? Would you name the Black businesses that you know?

AC

Let's see. "Doll" Watson.

MP

Doll?

AC

Doll Watson he had a place.

MP

Doll? D-O-L-L?

AC

Just like a doll.

MP

D-O-L-L. Doll Watson owned a business. What was his business? Was it a restaurant?

AC

No. It was a club.

MP

And where was it?

AC

Upstairs right down from-right across from the post office. The old post office? Down in there.

MP

Was that on top of Lucia [Lucca's] Restaurant?

AC

Yeah.

MP

All right. That's the one I'm trying to remember. What others did you know about?

AC

Of course, after Doll left, Bill Tinsley he taken Doll's-he bought Doll's place when Doll left.

MP

And he operated it, the club?

AC

That's the only two clubs. Then they had barbershops. "Bud" Nathan had a barbershop.

MP

Mrs. Calimese's husband had a barbershop in Normal.

AC

And Mr. Calimese had a barbershop out in Normal-two brothers. Then Mr. Dabney had a barbershop in Normal. They all catered to white people. Boone Meaderds he had a barbershop.

MP

Where was his barbershop?

AC

In different places. The last place he had was down on Center Street. Must have been about the 200 block on Center Street. He was always in some kind of business, Boone Meaderds.

MP

What about cleaning businesses?

AC

Different ones had cleaning businesses. Bell's father had a cleaning business and tailor shop. Delores's [Shavers] father had a tailor shop, I believe. He might have had a cleaning place, too. He was always in some kind of business. He'd be here [Bloomington]. Then he'd be there, and then he'd be in Champaign. He moved around. He didn't just stay in one place.

MP

What about this Revelation Rhoades? Did you know him?

AC

Revy Rhoades? He was a sign painter.

MP

Did he have any other business?

AC

No. He didn't have any other business.

MP

Wasn't there a newspaper that a Black person operated-The Advertiser?

AC

Yeah, Willis Stearles.

MP

Oh, he had a-Willis Stearles?

AC

Not the same Stearles. His brother [Carl]. He run a little newspaper, and Revy Rhoades had a newspaper for awhile.

MP

What was the name of Stearles' newspaper?

AC

I have one here, but I don't remember the name now.

MP

Oh, you do have one of the newspapers? Do you know where it is?

AC

No, I don't. I'd have to look for it.

MP

If you could find it that would be great. I wish you could find it. So both of them had a newspaper. Did you know this man who had the Oil of Gladness business? Did you know him personally?

AC

No, I didn't know him. I heard of him.

MP

That was before your.

AC

He had a nice business, so they say. He had people selling this Oil of Gladness. There was a man here by the name of Mr. Scroggins. He sold-that's all he did was sell that Oil of Gladness.

MP

Oh. For Mr. Hoagland?

AC

Un-huh.

MP

Oh, I see.

AC

He sold a lot of Gladness Oil in this part of town.

MP

Did you ever see it?

AC

No. I don't know how-the man who started it was a minister, and they left here, but I don't know what happened. I never heard of it no more. I guess they quit making it.

MP

What did the women-did Black women have any businesses out of their homes? Like, did they take in laundry, do hair, or anything?

AC

There were a lot of hairdressers around and things like that.

MP

Any seamstress?

AC

Not.

MP

Not to your knowledge.

AC

A lot of people could sew, but they just didn't have the business. I had a little upholstery business after I left the (inaudible). I upholstered chairs.

MP

You repaired them for people?

AC

Yeah.

MP

Is that right? How did you learn to upholster?

AC

When I was out to the Home (inaudible), and they had an upholstery class here. So I went and I taken that course for a couple of years. And when I left there, then I started an upholstery business. I upholstered a lot of chairs. People would bring their chairs here when they was in such a bad condition. So I just quit. And I was afraid I'd get dirt on them.

MP

Oh, it was so difficult, yes. Were they mostly white people who brought you chairs?

AC

Yes. I did six chairs for the lady across the street-dining room chairs. And I did six for Mrs. McGee. (inaudible) Everybody knew I was doing it you know, and they all wanted me to do it. (it becomes difficult to hear as they walk away from the microphone to examine some of Mrs. Clark upholstery work) Then they had another class of hat designing class, and I went into that.

MP

Hat designing.

AC

Un-huh.

MP

Did you ever sell hats?

AC

No. I never sold any. I used to make my own hats.

MP

And the soap business-where did you learn to make soap?

AC

A lady from Chattanooga, Tennessee-she worked out. She was here-her and her husband. They'll be here. They're coming to see me the twenty-third of this month, and they roomed with me. And the woman she worked for told her how to make it. She said she had to give $25.00 for the recipe and not to give it to anybody, but she gave it to me and so when she was living with me, she made a bunch of soap and sent it back down to Chattanooga. Then I learned how to do that. I used to like to learn a little bit about everything. A lot of things-I crocheted and embroidered and all that kind of stuff. But I did pretty good with these chairs.

MP

Yes. You did primarily chairs, right? Yes. I can see.

AC

They'd just bring them here, and I'd do them in the basement.

MP

When did you get this house? How long have you lived here?

AC

When I married Mr. Clark. He owned this house. His son will be here the first week of August.

MP

Where does he live?

AC

In New York.

MP

He and his daughter will be here. The Lanes will be here the twenty-third, and they'll only stay two days, and they're on their way to a family reunion in Iowa.They want me to go, but I don't think I'm going. They done bought my reservation.

End Side B

Conversation with Anna Clark, Henry Brown, & Luther Watson

Date: January 1, 1985
Interviewers: Mildred Pratt


Side A

MP

Ms. Clark would you tell us something about yourself. Let's see your name is Anna Clark, right? And you're approximately ninety-three years old.

AC

My name is Anna Clark, and I'm ninety-three years in January.

MP

Great!

AC

I've lived in Bloomington since 1916.

MP

You came here in 1916. Tell us the circumstances under which you came to Bloomington. Where did you live before you came to Bloomington? What city did you live in before you

AC

I worked out in a private family. I got off the train and went right to my job.

MP

That's pretty simple. How did that happen? Somebody told you about the job?

AC

A friend of mine. She had worked for this woman. She was going back home. Her husband lived in the country, and he wanted her to come back home to help him in the spring. So

MP

What was this family's name?

AC

A. M. Kitchell. He run an ice-cream place.

MP

In what part of the community did they live?

AC

They lived on East Washington. Same block that the High School was on.

MP

Before you came to Bloomington where were you living?

AC

In the country down twenty miles out of Cairo.

MP

How old were you at that time when you came to Bloomington?

AC

Twenty-four.

MP

You were kind of on your own then? You were living with your family in the Cairo area?

AC

I lived with my sister and her family.

MP

So you struck out to Bloomington. And what kind of work did you do?

AC

I lived with the family, and I did washing, ironing, cooking, everything, cleaning.

MP

Did you take care of the children?

AC

They didn't have any children. They were elderly people.

MP

How much did you earn?

AC

Five dollars a week. I think she started me out at four dollars.

MP

You got a raise then. (laughs)

AC

I stayed there for a year.

MP

And then what did you do?

AC

I worked out for another family on East Washington.

MP

What was that family's name?

AC

(Unintelligible)

MP

What did this family do for a living?

AC

They was retired farmers, and they had four children. They were all good-sized kids.

?

Did you enjoy that type of work, or was it just a job you had to get?

AC

You'll have to talk a little louder.

?

Okay, did you enjoy that type of work?

AC

Yes, I did. I didn't enjoy waiting on the table. I didn't mind cooking, but I never did enjoy waiting on the table.

MP

Did you feel embarrassed by having to wait on someone?

AC

No, I don't know how I felt. I just felt like I shouldn't be doing that.

MP

It was below your dignity, beneath your dignity to have to do that.

AC

I guess it was. I could do it, but I didn't enjoy it. I never did.

MP

Now, how did they treat you, these people that you worked for in their homes?

AC

Nice.

MP

What did they call you?

AC

They called me Anna.

MP

Did you like being called by your first name or would you have preferred...?

AC

I didn't mind. It didn't matter.

MP

Did you live in a room in the house?

AC

Yeah, I had a room.

MP

You had a room?

AC

Second floor on the same floor that they were on. Nice room.

MP

Now, would you tell us a little bit about when you first came here were there a lot of women, Black women, working in service?

AC

There was about eight women that I knew working out, and we were all friends. So we had Thursday afternoon off. Had Thursday and Sunday afternoon-all the help-girl help. So we'd all get together.

MP

You'd get together and talk about the people you worked for?

AC

Un-huh. (laughter)

MP

Now, Ms. Clark, you told me once that there were some white families who had Black people work for them who were not very kind to them. Is that right? The David Davis's? Could you tell us something about the David Davis? Whatever you remember.

AC

I don't know too about David Davis. I just know they said they were hard to work for.

?

This particular family, the Davis family?

AC

I don't think David Davis really ever had any Colored help, but his brother and his wife did. They were very nice to their help. Cause they were friends with the people I worked for. They'd come and have dinner over there sometimes.

AC

But David Davis. The old David Davis that owned that the mansion.

?

And where was this mansion? In Bloomington? Where was this mansion?

AC

It's out on. I guess it's Jefferson Street.

MP

Yes.

AC

Davis Mansion.

MP

You were going to tell us something about him. What do you remember about him?

AC

Davis? Well, the only thing I remember is just what other people said because I wasn't ever connected with them. (pause)

MP

Now you were telling me-when did you get married?

AC

I got married in 1917. I met my husband in May, and I married him the next May.

MP

One year after, right? Could you tell me something about him and the kind of work that he did?

AC

Well he was a businessman. He had a club, and he had a restaurant. He had a barbershop, and he had a pool hall when I married him. So he learned me how to cook and how to serve.

MP

You cooked in the restaurant? You cooked the food? Tell us what kind of food did you have?

AC

We didn't have expensive food. We had neck-bones, pig feet, and beef stew and hamburger and steak.

MP

Did you have greens?

AC

No, we didn't have time for that?

MP

Barbecue ribs?

AC

No.

MP

No chittlins?

AC

No.

MP

Potato pies?

AC

No, I tell you we didn't have time for any fancy foods. We had good business. There was lots of people there every day.

MP

What were the hours that you were open?

AC

From seven till mid-night.

MP

Now you said your husband was the first Black to own and operate a restaurant in Bloomington, is that correct?

AC

Yes, that was before I married him. That was on South Main Street. He just had a restaurant and rooming house there.

MP

Now did they serve only Black people or were Blacks and whites served there.

AC

They served everybody.

MP

There were a lot of whites who went there.

AC

We had a lot of white trade. He was a friendly type man, and everyone knew him, white and Colored, and they come from all over town.

MP

When did it close? The year that it closed and tell us why it closed.

AC

The man who bought the building. The lease was up. He had a lease. I think he had a three-year lease or something. Made him close.

MP

What do you remember about what education was like for Blacks in Bloomington throughout your whole experience? Did you go? You didn't go to school in Bloomington.

AC

No.

MP

What do you remember about the schools-and Mr. Watson since we've talked about the early history of Mrs. Clark being here if you'd like to join in now and talk about education, fine-from what you remember.

LW

I don't remember anything about education. (speaks in a halting manner)

AC

Black and white all went to school together. But now at the University they couldn't stay in the dormitory up there, and they couldn't eat there either. They lived in private families. I had eight boys at one time when I lived in Normal. I started out with six, and I had eight and they all cooked, and I know if they could have had their meals at the University, they would have because some of them their parents was able to send them through. And the way they did, they made our a menu. They all bought food together, and two would buy food one week and next week two more would buy. Then one would do the cooking one-week, and two would do the dishes.

?

So it worked out nicely.

MP

What areas did they study? What did they study at Illinois University?

AC

What did they study. Well, they had different subjects.

MP

I thought you said one of them studied medicine or teaching.

AC

Well at that time the school was supposed to be all for teachers, but when they left there, they'd take up medicine and stuff like that. Now one of the boys who stayed with me I knew him all his life from Southern Illinois. I knew his parents, and he stayed with me. His mother didn't have too much to send him through, and I was down in Southern Illinois. They said he's smart, just come out of high school. I said to him I said, "Elroy are you planning to go to college?"He said, "No, I guess not. My mama ain't able to send me." I said, "Well if you really want to go, you can come up to Bloomington and work you're way through." So he said, "Well, I'll see what Mama say." That's the way he talked. So he went back home, and the next day he brought his mother over there.So she questioned me, and she said. "Well, I ain't able hardly to send him, but if he can work his way through it will be all right. He can go." I was working out a t the Soldiers and Sailors School. I got home one afternoon, and he was sitting on the porch. That was in August. I said, "Why did you come so early?" (laughter)He said, "I thought I'd come and find a job and get started. Then I can work my way through." So I fixed his meal. He'd eat when I eat, and things I that. I said, "The university is not very far, just a block from where I live."He said, "I think I'll walk up," and he walked up there, and he seen a man in an office. He didn't know who he was. He went in and told him what he wanted-the president of the university.

MP

Is that right? He knew how to go into the right office, didn't he?

AC

I forgot his now. I think it was (inaudible). Anyway, this president told him, "Now, I think you'll get in, and if you do get in come to me if there's anything you need or want." So he did. Anything he wanted he'd go to the president. And he worked his way through. He got a job in a restaurant, and he worked. And I don't know-is all this going on tape?

MP

Yes.

AC

Then he worked-got a job on the railroad. I didn't know it. Came in one day and said he got a job on the railroad. Then he got a job on a farm. He come in one day, and he said to me, "Mrs. Sanders do you like goat's milk?"I said, "I don't know. I never tasted no goat's milk." He had a little jar. He set it down on the table, and he said, "I got some goat's milk. You can have some of it if you want it." I said, "Elroy, where did you get goat's milk?" That's the way he told me. He said, "I got a job working on a farm. I've been out there working and they gave me some goat's milk." He said, "If you don't want it, I do." So I tasted it, and I said, "I don't think I care for it." Then he left and went to the army. I had eight boys, and they all left my house the same day.

MP

Is that right? To go into the army?

?

Did most of the young people work their way through college back then?

AC

They all did. Little jobs. Then when he come back from the army he went to school at Champaign. And when he left Champaign, he went to school at Meharry.

MP

Meharry Medical School in Tennessee, isn't it?

AC

Then when he left...

LW

What did you say about medical school? One of my girls is going to medical school.

MP

At Meharry?

LW

No, up in Chicago at Loyola.

MP

Loyola? Oh is that right? What year is she?

LW

Well, she's just beginning this summer?

MP

That's marvelous. How are you? (tape stops as someone enters)

MP

Now, if you would list-Ms Clark you start it-five of the most prominent Black people in Bloomington from the time the city began up to the 1960s.

AC

Dr. Covington.

MP

Do you know his first name?

AC

Not offhand.

MP

Dr. Covington was a medical, was a physician, right?

AC

I think his name was Gene.

MP

Gene Covington.

AC

He had two sons. One named Gene, and one named Girard. There used to be a lady here by the name of Partee (Miss Sarah). She was one of the real old settlers here. Mr. Green (Othello) and Miss Partee and Mrs. Green (Narcissus). They were real settlers.

MP

And what did they do?

AC

Miss Partee used to serve parties, and she was a member of the Methodist Church, and she taught Sunday School there for years and years. Mrs. Green was her sister, and Mr. Green was her brother-in-law. They all lived together (321 South Prairie).

MP

What do you remember specifically about the Greens?

AC

I think Mr. Green just did odd jobs. I don't think Mrs. Green worked.

MP

But they were prominent community members?

AC

Un-huh.

MP

Any others?

AC

My husband.

MP

Yes, Mr. Brown mentioned him last time that he was prominent. What was his full name?

AC

Isaac Joshua Beasley Sanders.

MP

Isaac Joshua Beasley Sanders. Prominent people usually have a lot of names.

AC

They named him after the doctor and everybody who was there when he was born.

MP

Where was he born?

AC

In Little Rock, Arkansas.

MP

When did he come to Bloomington?

AC

I don't know for sure. He was here in his younger days. He was here about fourteen or fifteen or something like that, I think.

MP

So he was a very prominent businessman in the community then. And Miss Anna Clark? We'll go to Mr. Brown, and if you think of some more. Mr. Brown, who would you say?

HB

Well, could you give a brief definition of what you are looking for?

MP

I would think of Black people who were prominent in terms of their education. That's one. In terms of what they did for the community as a whole. Another was whether or not they were powerful people, and everyone knew them, and they were able to get things done in the community. They made contributions to the community. If they were in government, in business.

LW

(Barely audible) Mr. Garrison.

MP

Mr. Garrison. Let's get his name out. Louis Garrison. It includes you, Mr. Henry Brown. I'll say that one. Get that one on tape-Mr. Henry Brown.

HB

There was a man here. I never met him. He probably passed on long before I came to this city. But in searching some church records, I found George W. Samuels. I thought that he was so keyed up in his contribution until when in searching some history of the history and compiling the first members of the church, I took it upon myself to name the book George W. Samuels. Classified I-which it was the first minute book. He always was present, and he was a businessman. He lived over here where Park Street Store is now. No, he lived on Main Street where-I think it was where the funeral home.

MP

Main and Empire?

HB

Main. I think that's it. One of those funeral homes was where he lived. He used to deal in livestock, hogs. He was a very businessman And he kept the church on a business footing. He created certain records that was needed. And the old records fill into my hands. In searching-there is another set of Samuels in the town today, but they don't seem to have-I've questioned them several times-any knowledge of George. He was just outstanding. Another man that made contributions to the city was Calimese, N. J. Calimese,

MP

Napoleon?

HB

Napoleon Calimese and his wife is still living, Louise. He was in charge of the Booker T. Washington where they sent the Black kids from all over the state. They came there. His wife did the cooking and mothering, and of course he was the main man. Down through the years I can remember when they used to have as many as twenty-three children at that home. He wasn't the founder of the home. Another lady, I think her name was Mrs. Barker. She was the founder. She used take these kids and keep them and get a help from the city. When the state took over, they built the home. Now it's torn down. Did you ever see it? It was torn down a couple of years ago, wasn't it? For no reason other than to bring a street through there and cross the I C G tracks. It was still well put together. I can remember when he had gardens, and he kept all those kids busy working. Most every kid who went through that home turned out to be all right.

?

Was it a very large place?

HB

The dormitory was divided into girls and boys. It could accommodate a total, I think, of twenty-four. Twelve girls and twelve boys. Of course, the living quarters and a dining area, and in the basement they had a kind of laundry facility. For years he took care of that place. All at once the state decided they needed a degree man. And he had no degree, but he raised those kids, and he kept them straight. Everybody in town can attest to that. They didn't run the street or run wild. But the state wanted someone with academic training, and he didn't have it of course. It was really a sad thing. They let him go. It went on and on, and pretty soon they consolidated with the Lucy Morgan Home. Booker Washington Home had the money.Some man died years before and willed a farm, and they got a lot of their money from the revenue of that farm. Of course, the United Way gave them very little money, and a lot of times people would question it. Why they got so little was they had some money on their own, and Lucy Morgan didn't have anything. So the board of directors of Lucy Morgan along with the board of directors of Booker T. Washington got together. I felt what they was going to do-they wanted that money. So they consolidated. The most ridiculous thing they closed this home. They sent all those kids away. They were supposed to consolidate and bring them together, and I think they took four.

MP

Mr. Brown were there any Black members on the board. Secondly, did the Black people in the community try to stop that merger.

HB

No, they didn't. There was Black members on the board. They seemed to went along with the idea. I was the one that raised all the cane, and I wasn't a part of it. So that old building was standing there. I went to Mr. Black. He was in charge. I forget-something for the government. And[ I] asked him to turn that building over to a board that I would get together and use it as a library for the vicinity. Everyone was welcome, but you didn't have to go downtown you know. And they could redo the basement, and they could make meeting places where different clubs could come in and meet. And it was a good idea he thought. But I told him now. And he told me we could only do it if we could assemble a lot of Black people together in a meeting. Word went out then and there. Nobody was for the idea that I had, and I lost. I told him right in front of them, "Now you know Mr. Black, I don't propose giving you one red-cent for this building. It's state-owned. It's all ready bought. Only thing I wanted to do was change the board of directors. And put somebody here to do a different project than what you have. Lot of people at the meeting wanted a center-a Black center. We had had one here, but it didn't produce.

MP

What was the center you had before Mr. Brown?

HB

It used to be where the city hall is today. That property was willed to Black people for a center. Mr. Tripp, at that time, he was the head of the center.

MP

Do you know the name of the center?

HB

I have known the name. It was a name. I just can't think of it. He was in charge of it. Somehow, they lost the center because city hall wanted it. That ground, the open ground facing city hall on the west side. There was a huge house there, and that's where the Black kids would meet, school age kids. And they would have parties and dances and whatnot.

MP

I think Mrs. Calimese told me something about that.

HB

So we lost that, and I said I wouldn't give him dime for the Booker T. Washington Home. Everybody else-most of them wanted a center again. I said, "The center had been here and failed." I wanted a library. Educational. I lost, but I raised so much sand. I grumbled, and I talked about it until one day they shut me up. They said, "We'll sell that house. The building and all the ground, Every thing that is there." And they had three or four lots with it. I said, "How much do you want for it?" They said, "$35,000." I knew it was a steal, but I couldn't get the money. I went all over town trying to borrow it. "What would you do with it?" I said, "Well, I'll give up my home. I know my home is worth $35,000." It was just across the street. They said, "No." I lost. And finally they sold it to a man that put in care for elderly people. And he made apartments, first and second floor. And he went on about a year, and the state hit him. I knew they would. They said, "Put in any elevator." The elevator cost more than what he had paid for his property. He kind of backed out. It went from one person to another, and they tried to make apartments out of it. The community just frowned on it because they never did get in the people that the community was satisfied. Now this is a mixed neighborhood you know. Use saw where I live. People never did like it. Finally, one year a boy had an apartment upstairs, and he killed a boy, rolled him up in a blanket, and pushed him under the bed. And he was there for a long time, two or three days. They found it. So that got a black eye to it. People stopped renting rooms there. They tried everything, and it just never panned out. So finally the city bought it. They tore it down to make that street. Calimese, I think, when he was there, he did a tremendous job with Black children. And got rid of him for one thing-no degree. At that time, everybody had to have a degree.

AC

It was age, too. See, they was both sixty-five years old.

HB

Sixty-five? Were they that old then? That was in the fifties, and maybe he was sixty- five, but it was talked around you know that they wanted a degree man.

AC

They was getting too old to keep kids.

HB

They wasn't too old. Back in the fifties. That's been thirty years ago. Mrs. Calimese is about ninety so she might have been around sixty, but she wasn't too old. But anyway that's what happened. So I would favor him as one of the...

MP

I think you said Mr. Calimese was also a barber.

HB

No, his brother that had a barbershop in Normal.

AC

He was in with his brother.

HB

He was in but his brother.

MP

owned the shop?

AC

He and his brother owned the shop together, and after he got the job, his brother stayed.

HB

So when I came here, his brother owned the barbershop. I had another one in mind. Maybe I'll think of it.

MP

What about this inventor?

HB

Yes, somebody mentioned that, but I had no knowledge of it. You must remember that Hoagland.

AC

His name was Hoagland. He invented Oil of Gladness.

HB

Some kind of cleaning?

AC

A kind of polish. (inaudible), and they called it Oil of Gladness.

HB

When you get to business in Bloomington, it goes way down.

AC

He was a minister-Hoagland.

MP

So there weren't a lot of prominent Blacks involved in business, right? Any Black politicians?

HB

I would still go back to Calimese and Aquilla Smith.

MP

Quilla Smith?

HB

Yes, that's Lester's father. They seemed to be associated very strongly with the Republican Party. I remember when Girard Covington-now that was the son of this Dr. Covington. He was number one policeman. He was Black, and he died. Well, they had three Black people attached to the police department when I came. One was called "Sug" Thomas. One was named Williams. The other was Girard Covington. So one of those left, and they wanted me to take the job to take the job of policeman. I told them "no" because the police age limit was thirty-two, and I was thirty-three, and I was the kind of guy... But I was one year too old. Then they replaced that Black person with a white patrolman. We begin to lose ground you know.

?

Why was he replaced?

HB

I think he retired. I mean when they tried to get me, it was Williams, Eugene Williams. He retired, and they wouldn't replace him. They asked me if I wanted to go for it. I told them "no." I was too old. Then they replaced him with a white patrolmen. That left two, and then Girard died suddenly. I told Aguilla Smith at the cemetery, too, I said, "You politicians better get busy here or you're going to lose that position." He said, "Why is that?" He called me Brownie all the time. I said, "I think their not going to put no Black person there. You better get ready." So he called Calimese and sure enough the next day they went down, and they had already made arrangements to appoint a white person. And I was just in time, and I said, "You go to the Republican Party head. You pay dues. Let's see what you can do." So they did, and you know they stopped that appointment, and they said, "Do you know somebody." And I said, "Marvin Thomas. He told me that he was already to go for it. He had a passed the examination and everything." So they told me the next day to see if Marvin wanted the job. I went over to talk to him. He was living on Mill Street then. And he said, "Yes, he wanted it." And the next day they appointed him. Just did get in. So Marvin Thomas got the job. And I gave credit to Aquilla Smith and Napoleon Calimese. They were the ones who made the contact. So there's some degree of prominence because they were able to prevail with an influence. I don't know how they did it. Later on I was to be appointed to the board of the fire and police commission. Course, my resignation is in now. I have served on it six years.

?

I'll bet that's very interesting.

HB

It is interesting, but I've get to the place now...

AC

I guess Marvin [Thomas] had one of the biggest funerals-I guess the biggest funeral they ever had in Bloomington.

HB

I kind of always thought Covington was the biggest funeral I ever seen.

AC

Marvin was the biggest. They had police here and soldiers from different places.

HB

Yes, they did. But the funeral procession down Main Street for Girard Covington I thought was the largest that I had witnessed. He was number one police. I remember Father Bowman [Reverend F.O.H.] of the Episcopal Church that's out on East Washington Street gave the eulogy because he was a member of that church. All through the service he kept mentioning "police number one" on the force. I looked at the cars as they came over the viaduct going south on Main Street when you get to the top of the hill as far back as you could see there was cars. Police-it looked like every police squad car was in it. The fire department and everybody turned out. And they had the funeral at Saint Matthews Church. Now Marvin had a tremendous funeral, too.

MP

When I came here in 1969, there was a Black man who worked in the central post office in downtown Bloomington. What was his name?

HB

That was Noble Thomas. That was a good job he had because he was on the window. He was number one.

MP

Was he the first Black person to have that job?

HB

He was the first one that I've seen at the window. He had been there a long time. Now, William Vail and Noble worked together. William Vail became city manager of this town, but he started out at the post office. They worked the window together, and I got acquainted with Vail then. I can't remember any other that worked the window, can you?

AC

Mr. Anson. He carried mail. Luther Anson in Normal.

End Side A

Side B

MP

So she was the first Black person who held a prominent elected position.

HB

As far as I know. I don't know of any other Black person that was elected to a position. H. Clay Tate writes that in the history of McLean County. One thing that stood out and I told Eva about it, but I don't think it ever registered with her. During that time I was a member of the school board advisory council. You served your duties for three years. At the end of three years, you had to step down. But they did give you a certificate or citation for the service you had rendered. When it come my time to get my certificate, she was president. It was hers to present it to me. And I told her I said, "This is history that nobody will record. A Black president presenting a certificate to a Black person. You will probably never witness that in your lifetime. It may be a hundred years before circumstances will create such a culmination." I still think I'm right.

MP

Did you get a photograph of that?

HB

No, I told her, "You should have had someone here to get a photograph." I was the only Black receiving. I wasn't the only one that ever served on the board advisory council. I don't mean that, but receiving that particular award at that time. You see how different events can bring things to pass that is historical. I said, "This is your hour. The privilege to present this." Of course, before she went on the school board I didn't know of anybody who had been on the school board. I think Ruby Edwards had been a member, but she had never been the president of the school board. That was an honor. And later on she went and became a city council member. She served that two years.

AC

What had Ruby done?

HB

She was a very prominent, Ruby Edwards. She had connections with the State and Federal-Colored Women's Club.

MP

She worked with the National Association of Colored Women's Clubs. What's her name, Ruby Edwards?

HB

She was quite prominent I would say among women, but you first asked about men. I would say these two. I don't know about Mrs. Brent. Mrs. Brent worked in high places, but I don't know about her influence.

AC

She was voted Woman of the Year at one time in Bloomington.

MP

That's Lucinda Brent Posey.

HB

Posey. We always called her Brent because she was Brent for so long, but it was Posey. I would say she prominent.

AC

She was Woman of the Year when she worked at Brokaw Hospital.

HB

She did some kind of office work out there. She also worked out at Soldiers and Sailors Home, too. But Ruby Edwards, Eva Jones, and Lucinda Posey were prominent in high places with influence. If they couldn't do things for you, they knew somebody who could, and this is influence. I would say those three women aside from Calimese and Aquilla Smith, the men. I had another man who escaped my mind. We've had a woman do things at Sunnyside Center.

AC

What about John Ford?

HB

I knew his mother. Was that his mother? Mrs. Ford or Mother Ford?

AC

He was a policeman at one time, a real old man.

HB

I don't remember him.

AC

Went to the Methodist Church.

HB

I remember his mother, Mother Ford. We had a member at Mount Pisgah Baptist Church, Mother Ford and Mother Taylor. They used to go together all the time.

AC

No, John Ford belonged to the Methodist Church. At one-time years ago he was a policemen before Girard and them.

HB

Maybe this isn't.

AC

At that time was quite... He owned all them houses across from Union Church. He lived out on East Street.

MP

He was a businessman also, would you say?

AC

No, he wasn't a businessman. He worked at the schools. He was a janitor at the schools, in years later. But in younger life he was a policemen.Jake Dean was a policeman at one time. I don't think they were so prominent. They were just police. At that time, police wasn't too prominent.

MP

I understand what you're saying, but at the time it was difficult for Blacks to get those positions. So there's something significant about that. Whenever, anyone did get something, it became something outstanding.

HB

I was going to tell you about another woman who was responsible for the Sunnyside Center. That's Melba Moore. She was one who always thought there was a need for Black kids on that West Side. She kept working and working until they did build a center. I got away from the people, and for years no one mentioned Melba until two years ago I petitioned the Human Relations Council of Bloomington-Normal that she be given the Martin Luther King Award. It was such an outstanding idea that even Irvin right here wrote a letter to me and told me how glad he was that I had remembered. You know you sit down, and you remember people who have been forgotten. So they gave her an award. I think that particular achievement should go along with other Black women's accomplishments. That center is operating today. She was the one who did the leg work, groundwork. Got down and moved the city and moved everybody until they finally got that done. Sunnyside Center.

MP

Mr. Watson, what list of prominent Black people would you come up with?

LW

I could only recall Mr. Louis Garrison. He was a plumber. And Mr. Brown That's about all I can remember right now. Just those two. Mr. Brown and Mr. Garrison as plumbing contractors.

MP

Do you know who the first Black teacher was in the public schools in Bloomington?

HB

Between two women, I think, and I don't know which was first. It was either Garrison or Nicholas. Which one was first? Louise? Garrison had a son. He was a plumber too. He is still a plumber. He had a wife, and she became a schoolteacher. I think she teaches out on the East Side. I think its at Oakland School [Stevenson]. I think she teaches there now. And then there's a woman, Louise Nicholas. She teaches over here at this school at Lee and Mill Street. I can't think of the name of that school on the West Side. Somewhere over here, she teaches. Those are the ones I remember. One was before the other, but I can't think which one... I rather think, it was Garrison, but I can't think of her first name. [Theresa]

AC

Miss [Elizabeth] Wheatley,

HB

Now, that was before me. When did she teach?

AC

She taught at Washington School on the East Side. East Washington Street.

HB

Wheatley? Wheatley? I think I remember that name.

AC

I don't know whether she was the first or not. It hasn't been too long that she taught there. She was a sister of Cora Smith. Miss Wheatley taught in Michigan and Springfield. See taught a few years here. Then she taught in Normal, too.

HB

It hasn't been too many years that Blacks have been in the school system.

?

How were they received when they first started getting involved?

HB

I guess all right. There is one thing about Bloomington. I always say this. That during the sixties when everything was being overturned, you know, Bloomington just changed. I don't know why. There wasn't any big fuss in this town. We didn't throw any bricks or anything. It just changed. When they appointed these people, I never heard of anything. But I do remember when the former ambassador at the United Nations who went to ISU. Help me think of his name.

MP

McHenry.

HB

McHenry. He was a student at ISU, and of course he underwent severe segregation you know. He couldn't do this, and he couldn't do that. Nobody knew that he would ever turn out to be ambassador to the United Nations for the United States. That was quite an achievement.

MP

Do you remember him when he was a student here?

HB

I very faintly remember him because he was a student and...

MP

He didn't lived in the dorms did he?

HB

No, no. Was you there when Mr. Hammitt out to the Martin Luther King Awards? Remember when he was talking.... the man who was the recipient of the award. He was a former councilman in Normal, and he was talking about that very thing because he was closer to it than I was. He was there, and he knew. He had to help McHenry get a place to stay. He couldn't stay on the campus.

?

And what year was this?

HB

That must have been at the turn of the decade. Fifty-sixty, somewhere in there. They just opened up that campus, I guess, maybe twenty years. How long have you been out there?

MP

Sixty-nine. Since sixty-nine.

HB

You've been there since sixty-nine. That would be about sixteen years. I think twenty years ago that campus was closed.

MP

It was probably around the sixties when they opened.

HB

But it was about the mid-sixties when the campus was opened to Blacks. You didn't live in the dormitory. Wasn't a part of the faculty or nothing. But McHenry, he really turned out. And Normal. That school should be proud that they did get a person that went through school that went that high.

AC

That's the way it was when I kept my students. I give my room to two boys from Chicago, and they both turned out good. One of them works for the national association and he's one of the head men. The other one is an artist in Saint Louis. They had been going to school, but they was turned out of there home where. Sometimes the women couldn't get along with them. They was going to have to go home.

MP

They came with you, and you straightened them out. (laughs)

AC

I let them stay there.

?

What year did they let `em move into the dorms then?

HB

It was somewhere in the sixties. Around the mid-sixties. Between sixty and sixty-five. I don't remember when they started moving in. Now you came there in sixty-nine. They started moving in before they started appointing people to the faculty.

AC

When they started to burn those fires in the big set of towns like Detroit and different places, then they began to open up.

MP

It was around that time.

HB

But we here in Bloomington never... It was all over the country, and I think television played an important part in shaking people to their senses. This is wrong, and you know it's wrong.

AC

And Martin Luther King got killed. That opened up a lot.

HB

That was in [19]68. This television news went all the way into Europe. In their homes... The man in Mississippi, I think he's the father of this prominent man in Carter's Administration.

MP

Young?

HB

No, this is a white man. Greenwood, Mississippi. I think Carter. Hodding Carter. Hodding Carter is from Greenwood, Mississippi, and I think his father was a publisher of the newspaper, and I read a statement where he said, "My God. They ask for so little." It was the Montgomery bus boycott. They said just don't put a curtain in the bus and make us sit behind it. And he said, "They asked for so little, and they're going to win this fight." But they didn't pay him any attention. And I think Hodding Carter is-I'm not sure that's his father because he run the newspaper. Then another statement he made I read. Bull Conner this policemen in Alabama said he'll straighten it out. "All you got to do is crack a few 'niggers' heads." Then this same man said, "You're wrong this is a new 'nigger.'" So this thing just went on and spreaded and Watts. They had this tremendous burning affair, and after Martin Luther King assassinated, they had them all over. That was [19]68, and the next year you came. But we didn't burn anything here. I don't want you to get a false impression. We didn't burn anything or throw any rocks. I guess the people just came to their senses, and responded and said, "This is over." And we began to move up, and they broke down everything.

MP

Did you want to say something Mr. Watson?

LW

I was just thinking, like a lawyer up in Chicago, how does he survive? Does he get work from people in the cities or with people who have things, that own land and buildings in the Loop area. A Black man doesn't own anything in the Loop area in Chicago. But here in Bloomington and Normal, according to Mrs. Clark they owned things like land.

MP

That's an important point you are making.

LW

We haven't advanced enough ourselves in order to do these things, to own land any place. It looks like to me that they could-just a little bit at the time.

MP

That's an important point you are making.

HB

That brings into mind that other person I was talking about. Mr. Richard Bell. Now, his success has been a businessman. I don't know of any other kind of contribution he made to society as a whole. But he is the only Black person I know of that owned this rich Illinois farm. I think he owns 160 acres today.

MP

Is it in the McLean County area?

HB

It's about ten miles west of Bloomington. Richard Bell. And he was an auto body mechanic, and he made good there. And he bought a piece of farm and every time he got a chance to buy adjacent to it, he'd buy it. I would say his farm is worth half a million or more. He's the only person. They always say the question is always the land. If you don't own land, you're nobody. And he owns quite a bit.

MP

You know Mr. Brown one of the things that impressed me is you said when you came here in the early years, Black people could not rent houses, and therefore you had to buy them. And as a result of that quite a few Black people in this community do own property. Not as much as Mr. Richard Bell does, but quite a few Black people do own. I think, you're saying that's not quite true in Chicago, is that right?

LW

They own little plots of land, but not any in the Loop area where it costs so much. If Blacks and whites were included in everything in purse then this wouldn't have happened. Somebody's going to have to give.

HB

Well, they had Woodland in Chicago. Blacks owned that whole park like area. Blacks did and they lost that. Now, I read in the reports that when white people went out of the city to the suburbs, and Blacks had huge tracts of land. and now the white people are coming back out of the suburb into the city. You see, we're not putting one and one together to make two. We're just chasing them around. And if we would stop and make good of what we've got maybe we could gain a toehold. But we won't do it. Instead we want to keep chasing them around. They went to the suburbs, and we went out there. And now they're coming back to the city. It's just foolish to work in the Chicago and live in the suburbs. Now, I've got a daughter that couldn't get a job nowhere but in the Chicago area. We sent her to Hyde Park, New York to culinary institution. She was just going to die if she couldn't learn how to cook. When she came out, she got these fast food jobs here, but she wanted to further her education through experience. So she went to Best Western. That's where she is today. But she lives with her sister in Chicago Heights, and that's an eighty mile round trip. And she's worn out her car.Forty miles each way. And I say you're stupid, you know. And she says, "I can't get what I want. There's no place up there that I can get an apartment." And her car broke down the other week. And I loaned her my car for three weeks, and she added a thousand miles to my car. And it was just back and forth five days a week. Forty miles each way. That comes to 400 miles, and in three week's time she's added 1,200 miles on my car. Her car that we bought for her a little over two years ago has almost 100,000 miles on it. What I tell her is soon as you pay for your car, you got to go buy a new one. That's what white people done figured out who live in these suburbs and work in Chicago. It not only takes too much of my money, but it takes too much of my time. An hour and a half two ways each day and that's three hours that I could be sitting down with my family.

MP

I tell you what we are going to do. We are going to... (tape is turned off)

End Side B