Jane and James Barnes

James and Jane Barnes

James BarnesJames Barnes was born in North Lawrence in 1934. He attended Lincoln School, a black elementary school, and dropped out of high school in the ninth grade. After he joined the Army, he finished his GED and became a Lawrence High School graduate. James retired from DuPont/Flexel after 30 years of service. James also worked for the Lawrence School District and a local physician's office. He is a member of the St. James Church in North Lawrence and also a member of the Western Lodge No. 1 F. & A.M.

Jane Barnes was born in 1933 in Lawrence. She attended Pinckney School, an integrated elementary school; junior high; and Liberty Memorial High School. After graduating from high school in l952, she worked as a maid at KU's Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority for 30 years. Jane also worked for Chet Johnson Furniture and several private families in Lawrence. Jane is a member of the Ninth Street Baptist Church.

James Barnes and Jane Frye were married June 1, 1956, in Lawrence. They have seven children.

Interviewed by Sherrie Tucker, Alice Fowler and Leonard Monroe

Sherrie: You want to start with telling us your name and where you were born?

Alice: You have to speak up some I think, Sherrie.

MR. BARNES: Oh, yeah, yeah! Okay!

Sherrie: What's your name and where were you born and what do you want to share about your family history?

MR. BARNES: My name is James Oliver Barnes, and I was born in Lawrence, Kansas, in North Lawrence July 26, 1934.

Sherrie: And who is your family?

MR. BARNES: My father's side of the family were from Topeka, and my great grandmother that I knew, I didn't know my great grandfather because he died in Topeka before I was born. But, my great grandmother lived in Topeka until I was twelve. And, my great grandmother and great grandfather were both slaves on separate plantations in Kentucky before the Emancipation Proclaimation. And, after the slaves were freed they married or jumped over the broom or whatever. It probably... It wasn't a marriage with a minister, I'm not sure but, anyway, they were classified as being married. And they left Kentucky and moved to Topeka about 1885. And they had... They had a couple of children who were born in Kentucky and they brought those children, and my great grandmother went back to Kentucky and got her mother which was my great great-grandmother and brought her to Topeka. And then they had several more children in Topeka and my grandmother was the youngest child in the family. And my grandmother and my father... My father was born in Topeka. They moved to Lawrence. I don't exactly remember the year. My father was about five or six when they moved to Lawrence. And, then his father, my father's father, he left Topeka and followed them to Lawrence. They were separated, they weren't together anymore, but he still... (laughter) he followed them to Lawrence. And, then he left Lawrence and went to Michigan and remarried, and he died in Detroit, Michigan in later years and I never saw him. I have a picture of him that he mailed to us when we were kids, but I was never really acquainted with him.

Sherrie: What were the names of your grandparents?

MR. BARNES: They were, uh... on my father's side, their names were Slaughter. There's a real large Slaughter family in Topeka. And, my grandfather, his name was Charles... His name was Charles Yade Barnes. Y-A-D-E, and I have no idea what kind of a name that is because I've never heard of it before. And, on my mother's side, my mother was born in Mississippi and her whole family, they were in Mississippi. My mother moved to Lawrence in 1933 and married my father and I was born in 1934. And her mother, my grandmother, she moved from Mississippi to Lawrence in about 1939 and she married a man named James Scott who lived in North Lawrence. And she later, in the early 1950's, she died in Lawrence. My mother had a real small family, she didn't have any sisters or brothers.

Sherrie: And what was your mother's family's name?

MR. BARNES: My mother's maiden name was Burk. Her father's name was Robert Burk, and he left Mississippi when she was about five years old and moved to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where he had two sisters and he remarried and had children and he later died there in the middle 1950's. I never saw him either. We had pictures of him, had correspondence, my mother went to visit him, but I never actually saw him.

Sherrie: What was your... I don't think we have either of your grandmothers' names yet. What was your father's...?

MR. BARNES: Oh, on my father's side my grandmother's name Pearl Slaughter, maiden name.

Sherrie: And then your mother's mother?

MR. BARNES: Her name was Lottie Tillman, maiden name.

Sherrie: You want to share some early memories?

MR. BARNES: Well, I remeber my father worked on the Union Pacific railroad and, if you were a railroad worker, you could get passes to ride the passenger trains. And my father didn't have a car, he never owned a car, not at all while we were growing up. And, we used to walk to the Union Pacific Station, me and my mother and my two younger sisters, and we would take a train to Topeka and then walk from the Topeka train station over to my great grandmother's house and visit all day, and then walk back to the train station and take a train back to Lawrence. Of course, we were small kids and we thought that was one heavenly excursion (laughter).

Sherrie: Sounds like fun (laughter). So, you have two sisters?

MR. BARNES: Two younger sisters.

Sherrie: Two younger sisters. Okay. And their names?

MR. BARNES: Jessie Lee Brown... Barnes-Brown, she lives in Topeka, and Evelyn Catherine Barnes, she lives in Kansas City, Missouri. When we were children, in the summer, a lot of summers we would go back to my mother's hometown in Granada, Mississippi, by train and stay with my mother's aunts. She had two aunts, one lived in rural... in the country and one lived in the town of Granada, Mississippi. Which was... It was kind of interesting, but I never... I didn't really care to much for it mostly because of the segregation, it was much worse there than it was in Lawrence. So, when I got old enough to say that I didn't want to go anymore, I didn't go. But she would still take my sisters. And I've never been back to visit even though I've got a number of cousins and one that I correspond with occasionally.

Sherrie: When you would visit as a child, were you going for family gatherings or visits as...?

MR. BARNES: Well, my mother was just going back to visit with her relatives more or less, because my grandmother came up here to live and she never went back. She never really wanted to go back.

Sherrie: And where did you notice the difference in how it was more segregated as a child?

MR. BARNES: Well, for one thing, we would get on the City of St. Louis when it came through Lawrence, and when we got to the Mason and Dixon Line the conductor would come through and say, "ALL OUT!" and all the black people had to get their luggage and move to a little raggedy coach right behind the engine where the smoke and the cinders were coming in and it was hot even though you paid the same price for your seat as everybody else, and that's the way you rode through the South. Of course, even when you got out you saw signs everywhere "BLACK and WHITE", but it wasn't BLACK in those days it was COLOREDS. You know, you couldn't drink out of the drinking fountains, you couldn't use the restrooms. But, when we went, we were mostly around black people on the black part of town and I really... We really didn't see white people. We just really wasn't around them down there, so I didn't really have any contact with them at all. But, it was different.

Sherrie: What was Lawrence like growing up?

MR. BARNES: Well, when I was growing up in North Lawrence, I thought it was wonderful. We had chickens and hogs and my stepdad had two horses. We had outdoor toilets and pumped water, and everybody else was doing the same thing (laughter). The places were doing the same thing.

Alice: That's right.

MR. BARNES: Of course, I went to an an all-black elementary school which was at the Ballard Center, which is what they call it now, but it was orginally Lincoln School. And we had black teachers and all the kids were black. I didn't go to school with any white kids until the seventh grade in 1947. And that was kind of a cultural shock.

Sherrie: Who are some of the memorable teachers from Lincoln School?

MR. BARNES: Mrs. Lillian Webster (laughter) and Mrs. Thelma Hater, Mrs. Flossie Newman. And then Mrs. Lavonia Jackson used to substitute a lot, I remember her very very well. And Mrs. Pearl Hill, she would come over and she would substitute some. Not Pearl Hill...

Leonard: Mrs. Webster was the principal.

MR. BARNES: ...What was Johnny's mother's name?

Alice: It was Pearl.

MR. BARNES: Mrs. Pearl Hill.

Leonard: Mrs. Webster was the principal.

MR. BARNES: When she was the principal, she taught third, fourth, fifth and sixth grades, and Mrs. Hater taught kindergarten, first, second and third. Because I started kindergarten with... There were seven of us... Alice was one of them (laughter)... And to this day, seventy years later, there's six of us still living. One, I think Elmer Robinson died about a year ago, but up until that time, all seven of us were still alive after seventy years.

Sherrie: What were some of your favorite things to do at Lincoln School?

MR. BARNES: Oh, going down to the river and playing, that was kind of a playground, swimming in the river. There wasn't really a lot to do. Going up to Lincoln School in the summer time, they had kind of a, what they called playground and Mrs., uh... What is the lady that taught us?

Alice: Ruth.

MR. BARNES: Mrs. Ruth Richardson, she was kind of in charge of that for years and years, and her niece, Mrs. Izetta Moore. I remember that very well because, when we got to be teenagers, Mrs. Richardson... We had kind of a singing group and Mrs. Richardson practiced with us and played pianio and got us going. We were singing in a few of the churches around town back when I was... I think I was eighteen or ninteen.

Sherrie: Were you involved in a church when you were a child?

MR. BARNES: Yes. Well, my family, whole family, went to St. James A.M.E., African Methodist Episcople Church, and it's still there in existence at Seventh and Maple. And, then we would go down to Rev. Parker's First RM (laughter) for various things. Because my best buddy, Elmer Robinson, his family went to First RM, so I'd go down there to Sunday School and programs with him a lot, me and he and his mother, Mrs. Hattie Scott. But, we didn't do that much outside of North Lawrence, it was strictly just about everything we did was right there in North Lawrence.

Sherrie: What were some of the businesses that you went to, stores you shopped at?

MR. BARNES: Well, North Lawrence had three or four grocery stores. The main grocery store was A.J. Dicker's Grocery Store which was on the corner of Seventh and Locust. And, then, there was another, a man that was named Shields, he had a grocery store that was catty-cornered across the street and, then, there was a Meyer's Grocery Store two or three blocks up the street. And Wiley had a grocery store on Elm, so there was about four or five grocery stores, but mostly we went to Dicker's Grocery Store because they had credit (laughter).

Alice: That's right.

Sherrie: Did you walk to school? Was it close enough?

MR. BARNES: I only lived one block away.

Sherrie: One block away, okay (laughter).

MR. BARNES: I could jump over the fence and cut across a couple of gardens and I could be home in three minutes. I lived close enough to where my mother could come out in the backyard and holler and I could hear her if it was getting dark and it was time to come home or something. Because it seemed as though that I always had to be the first one to go home and I could still hear kids playing up there after dark (laughter), which I never had that privilege (laughter).

Sherrie: What kinds of things did you do to play when you were playing with your friends? Do you remember any games that you played or any activities that you did?

MR. BARNES: Oh, let's see. I don't know... We rode bicycles a lot. We made our own skate scooters, which were scooters that had skates on the bottom, and we had what they called a pad and wheel, it just was a wheel with a lav made into a 'T' and we wheeled that all around, made rope ladders and tried to build a tree house.

Sherrie: You tried?

MR. BARNES: Tried (laughter). Because my grandmother worked for Green Brothers' Hardware, so I had access to lumbar, small pieces. I remember I wanted a bicycle, so my grandmother said she'd buy me one. It was during the war and you couldn't get regular bicycles, and she bought me a brand new bicycle and it was a delivery bike. It had a little bitty wheel on the front and a great big basket. But I was so happy to get a bicycle, I didn't care what it looked like (laughter).

Sherrie: What subjects did you enjoy in school?

MR. BARNES: Well, Art (laughter). I was pretty good in Art, so I thoroughly enjoyed that. English was probably the least desireable one. But I got pretty good grades most of the time. When I was ninth grade I got a chance to play on the Promoters' basketball team, I got a chance to play on the 'B' team because, then, the black kids and the white kids didn't play on the same basketball team and the blacks had their own basketball team which was named the Promoters. But, then, when I got in the tenth grade that next year they integrated the basketball team, but they only let a couple of blacks, maybe three play, and then all the rest of the kids had to go to intramurals. So, I wasn't one of the better ones, so I ended up being on the intramurals (laughter).

Sherrie: You mentioned you started seventh grade in 1947 and said that was a kind of an adjustment. I wonder if you could talk a little bit about that?

MR. BARNES: Well, it was kind of odd because my mother did house work for families mostly in Old West Lawrence and the kids... I was going to school with the same kids that my mother was working for their parents in their houses, and that was kind of odd, kind of different (phone ringing). Because, when I was growing up, it never occurred to me that we were considered the poor people because we had the same thing everybody else had and the white people were living just like we were. They didn't have one dime more than we had. Of course, then when we went across the bridge to go to school over there, then we were going to school with kids whose parents had businesses uptown and there were professional people, which was different.

Sherrie: How did you get to school?

MR. BARNES: I walked. My parents didn't have a car. Well, my father died and my mother remarried and they had automobiles, but we didn't get rides anywhere. I walked to school and I walked back until I got old enough to buy my own automobile. Then I rode (laughter).

Sherrie: Did your teachers at Lincoln school, did they prepare you at all for this adjustment?

MR. BARNES: I think Mrs. Webster did a real good job with preparing us. Because I remember she told us, if we were having any problems in Junior High, we could always stop by the school when school was out and she would help us out if we were having any kind of problems with any subjects at all.

Sherrie: How about just preparation for any kinds of incidents that might come up, or the students, or having to even deal with something like how the basketball team being segregated?

MR. BARNES: Well, that was just the way the times were. I never expected to play basketball with white kids at all. But even though, when I got into high school, you could. But they were only going to let a very very few play and it stayed like that for years and years, here in Lawrence anyway.

Alice: What about any negative things that came from teachers or students? We know that you had to play separately, but what about did people say things or try to keep you from things? Keep you out of going places?

MR. BARNES: Well, I remember I got into a Speech class and automatically, if you took Speech, they wanted you to be the butler. You wasn't going to get a part much over the butler or the maid which I didn't care for, so I didn't take Speech anymore after that. And, I think they tried to steer kids away from college preparatory courses when you were starting in the ninth grade. They didn't really want black kids taking Algebra or Latin, or they try to steer you into, like general math and things like that. Because I think they had a mindset that you were never ever going to go to college anyway, so why waste the time.

Sherrie: Were there any memorable teachers or classes from high school?

MR. BARNES: Yeah, there was two or three teachers that I really liked. I liked Eli Wood, he was the... What was it? Chemistry? What was he teaching? And then there was another guy named Barnes and he was History, and Mrs. (Orliff?) that taught English. I know there were two or three, and then there were two or three that I really didn't care for, of course they didn't care for me either, so the feeling was mutual (laughter).

Mr. Monroe: Did you have Mrs. Wilson in Art?

MR. BARNES: Yeah. I loved her. She was the... Well, I was good in Art, so I was going to get A+'s in there anyway.

MRS. BARNES: What about Mrs. McClure?

MR. BARNES: Yeah, she taught Art. She taught Art in Junior High School. She was really a wonderful teacher.

Sherrie: What kind of art were you doing or did you enjoy?

MR. BARNES: Any kind, it didn't make no difference. I didn't care. Painting, drawing, sculpture, it didn't make much different.

Alice: Do you have anything from that period of your life that you did? Any art work?

MR. BARNES: Yeah, I still got probably a half a dozen things from high school. Some of them I got kind of blew up over the years (laughter). Then I dropped out. Well, I dropped of high school in the ninth grade because... Well, I had this car and the car broke down and I wanted to go to work to get the car fixed, and I thought getting the car fixed was a lot more important than going to school. So, then I did drop out and I went in the Army and got a GED in the Army. But, then after I got out and got married and had children, I went back to school again for two or three years, driving back and forth from Dupont going up the highway until I actually did graduate. I got a heck of a lot better grades than I ever did when I was going...(laughter).

Alice: More incentive.

MR. BARNES: Yeah (laughter)!

Sherrie: Well, uh, maybe we should give you a little break and we will catch up... (laughter). So, if we could do this...

Alice: Whatever you're going to talk about is not on that paper (laughter).

MRS. BARNES: Alice isn't fair (laughter).

Sherrie: Okay, if you could give us your name and where you were born and some family history to start with.

MRS. BARNES: Okay. My name is Jane Marlene Barnes. I was born 3/19/33, at 416 Wisconsin.

Sherrie: And your family history?

MRS. BARNES: My mother and my father, their names is Robert and Alice Fry. And my grandparent's, well there was Grandpa Fry, Arthur Fry.

Sherrie: Is that on your mother's side or your...?

MRS. BARNES: That's on my dad's.

Sherrie: Your dad's side?

MRS. BARNES: Wait a minute... Yeah, that's on my dad's side. And my grandmother, I didn't know her, but my grandfather had married a lady named Mrs. Grace Fry and she was my grandma then.

Sherrie: And what about your mother's? Did you know your mother's parents?

MRS. BARNES: Uh, yes. Her mother's name was Edna Elizabeth... Oh, Watts. And my grandfather's name was Stanley Bronson. Okay, let me clear that up because my grandma, Grandma Monroe, and my grandfather, Bronson, they got a divorce, and they lived out in Waldo, Kansas. And she had another little girl named Laveta and they moved to Lawrence, her and her two little girls. And, then she met my other grandfather, Mr. Walter Monroe.

Sherrie: Okay. They met in Lawrence?

MRS. BARNES: Yes. And they married and then they got kids, he's (Leonard) one of them (laughter).

Sherrie: And where were your father's parents from?

MRS. BARNES: I really don't know. As far as I know they all lived here Lawrence, I don't have that information about them.

Sherrie: What are some of your early memories?

MRS. BARNES: Well, let me... Well, he's (Leonard) my uncle but we're a year apart and there's... I have a brother name Arthur, and we played around the neighborhood and had a real good time.

Sherrie: Do you remember what kinds of things you did?

MRS. BARNES: Well, we played rubber guns (laughter) and games like that and then kick the can, hide- and-go-seek, uh, just things like that. We played ball, marbles, and just had a good time playing in the yards and things. And there was... Oh, let's see, a girl that lived up the hill named Mary Morris, she played with us and then there were the Kimball kids, they played with us and there was quite a few of them and... Let's see, I guess that's about all I can think of. But we just played normal things, kick the can and all those games.

Sherrie: So, who lived with you when you were growing up?

MRS. BARNES: My mom and my dad...

Sherrie: Your mom and your dad and then?

MRS. BARNES: And my brother.

Sherrie: And your brother. Did you live near other relatives?

MRS. BARNES: Yes, they lived on the corner and that's about all, and Aunt Martha lived up in the next block. Grandma Watts... I forgot about her. She;s my great grandma, she lived on the corner... I mean, not on the coroner, next door to the Monroes on Fourth Street, West Fourth.

Leonard: Like when I... Mary Morris and the Dillons were white. We played together all the time.

Sherrie: Oh!

MRS. BARNES: Uh-huh. Yeah, I forgot about the Dillons. Yeah. And we played all day long and just had a good time.

Leonard: We were going to Pinckney and it was integrated.

Sherrie: Okay.

MRS. BARNES: Yeah, we went to Pinckney School.

Sherrie: So, can you tell us about Pinckney School? What are your memories of Pinckney School?

MRS. BARNES: Well, I was told one and I didn't remember it (laughter). There was, oh, uh, the Washington family, they lived in the house down the street from Leonard's house on Fourth Street and one of the girls was telling me, she said, "Well, you sure had shock when you went to school and saw so many white children." And said, "You had the idea that you wanted to be white (laughter)." I said, "No I didn't (laughter)," she said, "Yes, you did (laughter)." But that was a long time ago and it was a lot of kids. But most of them were pretty nice, I thought. And some of these same kids went on through school with me and graduated, so it's pretty nice to see them at the class reunions. So, it was very nice.

Sherrie: So who were some of the memorable teachers from Pinckney School?

MRS. BARNES: Mrs. Nash. Uh, there were some ones that I liked and didn't like. Well, the principal, she was all right, all but Jane Kennedy and Mrs. Russell and Mrs. Valerie and Mrs. Grim. I liked Mrs. Strange, she was very nice. And that's about it.

Sherrie: Were the teachers white? Were all the teachers white?

MRS. BARNES: Yes. There were no black teachers at Pinckney.

Sherrie: How many African-American students were there?

MRS. BARNES: Quite a few, I'd say quite a few. Like they was talking about sending all of us kids over to Lincoln School, busing us over, but after our parents all got together and met and talked, that came to an end. So we didn't go to Lincoln School.

Sherrie: When was this?

Leonard: Around the early to middle forties.


Sherrie: That's interesting. So do you remember that?


Leonard: Yes.

MRS. BARNES: I remember all the parents being mad.

Leonard: Right, but they'd call dispatch on everything. They couldn't get us across that river though,so I stayed.

Sherrie: So how far away was the school? Did you walk?

MRS. BARNES: Yes, we walked. Probably, what...? About ten blocks would say? About ten blocks, we'd walk every day, in the snow, sometimes it would be as high and tall as us, but we'd walk to school.

Leonard: Was it snow days then?

MRS. BARNES: No snow days.

Leonard: But those were the fun days to go to school in.

MRS. BARNES: We'd get out there in snow and we'd play flying dutchman and all these kind of games and throw snowballs, but it was fun.

Sherrie: What subjects did you enjoy in school?

MRS. BARNES: Well, I liked art, music, spelling, I wasn't good at math, and reading.

Sherrie: What kind of music did you have? Did you put on programs and recitals or anything like that?

MRS. BARNES: Yeah, we had choruses. I sang in the chorus.

Leonard: Because Mrs. Webster was the music teacher and wanted everybody to sing.

Sherrie: Ooh!

MRS. BARNES: Yeah, she did. But she didn't care for (laughter) me and I didn't care for her (laughter).

Leonard: She was also Art teacher.

MRS. BARNES: It was... It was a nice school. My mother went to Pinckney and all my kids went to Pinckney until they got into... What? What grade were they in when they transferred?

MR. BARNES: They went to Riverside in... I don't remember the year, but...

MRS. BARNES: Yeah, they put the dividing line right straight down Michigan Street and the ones on the west side went to Riverside and the ones on the east side went back to Pinckney. So, then I was really glad because, after they got out to Riverside... In fact, they were the first blacks out there when they put that boundary in, and they did real good. They learned a lot more, because really all it was was a little country school, but then they enlarged it and now they've closed it. But it was a nice school.

Sherrie: So Pinckney went from what grade to what grade?

MRS. BARNES: Just from kindergarten to sixth.

Sherrie: Kindergarten to sixth?

MRS. BARNES: Uh-huh.

Sherrie: And, then where did you go to seventh grade?

MRS. BARNES: Junior High, there was three Junior Highs on the corner of Ninth and Kentucky. Is that right Ninth and...

Leonard: Kentucky.

MRS. BARNES: Then we had Ohio, Manuel and Central. And things really changed, too, because when you changed classes, if you was in this building you had to run across the street over to other building. Run to the other ones, everywhere you had your classes at. So that was sort of the rule.

Sherrie: How was your Junior High experience?

MRS. BARNES: Ah, it was fun. We had a lot of kids. I don't think it really mattered until we got to Junior High (laughter). A lot of different kids. So it turned out real nice.

Sherrie: Was your family involved in the church when you were growing up?

MRS. BARNES: Well, my dad wasn't. My mother, she was and she was an usher and everything. But my dad, he never did go.

Sherrie: Was it an important part of your childhood to be involved in the church?

MRS. BARNES: To go to Sunday School, yes.

Sherrie: Sunday School?

MRS. BARNES: Every Sunday.

Leonard: We had programs back in those days.

MRS. BARNES: Christmas plays and Easter programs and things like that, which they were fun. Yeah, we went to Ninth Street Baptist Church.

Sherrie: Do you remember any of the programs?

Leonard: Yeah, you had to say a piece (laughter).

MRS. BARNES: Yeah, (laughter) say a little Easter piece. And I did play an angel in a Christmas play. Eloise was supposed to be the angel, but Eloise... I don't know whether she got sick or something, so I had to do it and that was really interesting.

Alice: Was it fun?

MRS. BARNES: Yes (laughter), it was fun to put on my wings and turn into an angel of royalty...(inaudible)

Leonard: How?

MRS. BARNES: (Laughter) Sometimes I couldn't say it, sometimes I could, but I do remember learning it.

Leonard: Get the paper. I see he's waving it in front of her.

Sherrie: She's waving it.

Alice: And she's not talking into the microphone.

Sherrie: Okay.

Alice: Now what did you say about that Christmas play and the angel?

MRS. BARNES: Well, I played the angel. I came to tell that the Christ child was born.

Sherrie: What was your costume?

MRS. BARNES: It was a white... What would I say, robe? ...With angel wings on the back of it and that was it. Nothing real fancy, but just a robe.

Alice: And you came to announce the birth of Jesus Christ (laughter)?

Sherrie: What about after Junior High?

MRS. BARNES: High school.

Sherrie: What high school did you go to?

MRS. BARNES: Lawrence High.

Leonard: And Liberty.

MRS. BARNES: Liberty Memorial High School.

Sherrie: Liberty Memorial?


Sherrie: And what was that like?

MRS. BARNES: Well, it was nice. I guess we were with the same kids. And everything, but I made it through. I had a little hard time with Science, biology. Was it Pearl Carpenter (laughter)? Well, they know, too. I think she gave everybody a hard time.

Leonard: That's right?

Sherrie: What was she like?

MRS. BARNES: She was a little short woman, about this high. And sat at this desk and there was a stool, because when you went in you probably thought she was, woo, a great big woman, but she a little woman.

Alice: Beans with a bag?


Alice: Wasn't she always saying "Don't know beans with the bag wide open" (laughter)?

MRS. BARNES: (Laughter) But it was okay. I graduated in '52, but my life wasn't exciting as his (laughter).

Sherrie: (Laughter) So, when did you meet each other?

MRS. BARNES: In Junior High.

MR. BARNES: Seventh grade, 1947 (laughter).

Sherrie: (Laughter) Okay. So some of this is already overlapping and you have some memories. So you met each other in junior high?

MRS. BARNES: The first time I ever saw him.

Sherrie: How did you meet?

MR. BARNES: Just going to school, in some of the same classes.

MRS. BARNES: Uh-huh.

Sherrie: How did you start talking to each other?

MRS. BARNES: That wasn't for quite a while (laughter), in high school.

Sherrie: (Laughter) Okay.

Alice: Did you start dating in high school?

MR. BARNES: Kind of out of high school.

Alice: Out of high school.


Alice: She's trying to get to when you started going together.

MR. BARNES: Oh (laughter)!

Sherrie: Yeah, when did you start going together? What do you remember about when you started going together?

MRS. BARNES: I loved fun...

Sherrie: Yeah.

MRS. BARNES: ...And went to dances. I don't think we ever went to many movies, but we went to dances and things and that's where everybody else. We'd go to dances and, oh, to maybe a few nightclubs in Lawrence.

Sherrie: Where were the dances?

MRS. BARNES: Well, let's see... At the Golden Arrow. These were places that we'd go to dance and have a good time, and then we used to go to dances in Topeka at the Metal Acres and the Topeka auditorium, and they would bring in big-name people like the Platters and the Drifters and all those guys, and they were a lot of fun. And we'd seen all those guys, and (Ronad 'Hat' Denning?) and all those guys.

Leonard: Bill Doggit?

MRS. BARNES: Bill Doggit and...

Leonard: Matter of fact, James Brown.

MRS. BARNES: Yeah, and just... You know?

Alice: Bull Reed?


Alice: Bull Reed?

MRS. BARNES: Oh, yes (laughter)! I can't forget him. They were just really fun. I mean, big-named people that came to play at these places, and that's about all.

Leonard: Or you might say...(inaudible), if you go buy the ice cream or whatever, you couldn't eat it in there. You had to sit in the balcony in the movies.


Sherrie: Yeah?

MRS. BARNES: When you go to the movies, we had to take and set up in the balcony, and that was at the Varsity Theater. And, at the Granada, we couldn't go at all and when they did, they were...(inaduible), so they would have a white line where we had to sit in back of that line if you went there. Then you had the Jayhawker Theater and you had to sit up in the balcony...

Leonard: And eat.

MRS. BARNES: And that's the way it went back then. And you couldn't eat in no restaurants. And, like if you went to the drug store, you couldn't... You could get a drink but you couldn't drink it in there, you had to keep on going. And, then there was this little place... What was that? They sold hamburgers and they had good hamburgers, but we could go...

MR. BARNES: Jim's Dog House.

MRS. BARNES: Yeah, Jim's Dog House. We could go in and buy the hamburgers but we could not eat them there. You had to get your stuff and leave. So, it was quite a bit of that in Lawrence, all over Lawrence. But, what I thought was really odd, that when they said we could go to these restaurants and eat, I don't think it really bothered nobody because I don't think it was a long time before people started going out to eat. Because that's the way it was. Alice had that experience. Like at one of our class reunions, they were talking about different things and they stopped somewhere at a drug store and they all went in and they told Alice, said "Why don't you come on and have something?" And she said, "Well I can't do that." And they were shocked that Alice didn't go in and have drinks with them. I forgot what drug store that was. Which one was that?

MR. BARNES: Across the street from the high school.

MRS. BARNES: Yeah, they wouldn't. Some of those girls never did get over that when it happened, that she couldn't go in the drug store with them.


Leonard: Say what you want to say though.

MRS. BARNES: Well, there used to be a little store up the street from us called Shooks, and we'd go up there and buy stuff. Then there was another one called Turner's Grocery and it was over on Seventh and Main and they shopped there. But the big stores like Safeway and A&P were downtown (cough), so they..., like if they had a lot of groceries, you go downtown and get them (cough).

Leonard: JC Penny for clothing and stuff?

MRS. BARNES: Yeah, JC Penny, Montgomery Wards, and, uh, that's about all because there was... I think there was some stores downtown that didn't allow blacks in their stores.

Leonard: Like Weavers?

MRS. BARNES: Yeah. So, then it was different.

Leonard: The only ones you could in was the one you worked at.

Sherrie: Would you like to add some about this period? We're getting up to where we left off. You had mentioned Weavers.

MR. BARNES: I remember we used to go in to Litman's and Brown's (?), they were across the street from Litman's, and they were Jewish clothing stores and you seemed to be a lot more welcomed in there than you were in some of the other stores around of town, which was different. Of course, when we were growing up in Lawrence, the blacks had their own cafes and places to dance and places to eat. In fact, they had quite a number. In North Lawrence they had a place called the Shamrock and had a place called the Golden Arrow. Then there was the West Side, Green Wood, the Green Gables, Blues Bucket. So, they just had a... We had a number of different places where blacks could go and dance and blacks could go and eat and shoot pool. There was a place on New Hampshire they called The Club, and these were all owned and operated by black people.

Sherrie: Do you have particular memories about any of those places? Did you go to any of them?

MR. BARNES: Well, we went to all of them (laughter).

Sherrie: (Laughter) What was your favorite place?

MR. BARNES: Ah, the favorite was probably...

Alice: Golden Arrow?

MR BARNES: ...The Golden Arrow, was probably the favorite place and I only lived a block and a half from the Golden Arrow, so that was more convenient for me (laughter).

Sherrie: Do you remember what the inside was like?

MR. BARNES: Oh, I don't know, they were just kind of like most restaurants are or dance halls are that you see. Of course, today they are much more modern and fancy than they were back in those days.

Leonard: They had booths, tables and bars, a kitchen.

MR. BARNES: But we'd go out of town to a lot of different dances and places like... When I was a teenager, I knew most of just about every black that lived in Eudora, I knew almost all of the blacks that lived in Ottawa, I knew just about most of the blacks that lived Tonganoxie, I knew a heck of a lot of them that lived in Topeka, I knew a few people in Kansas City. Then we went around to all the towns and I just knew a lot of people. Like when my kids came along and they were growing up, the only people they knew lived in Lawrence, Kansas. They hardly knew a soul from any other town.

Leonard: One thing that you might have been getting to a while ago was like at the Green Gable or these other places. Especially at Green Gable, that's where they did a lot of partying and drinking, and you could raise all the cane you wanted to down there and the police did not care as long as all the blacks, so to speak, was "in their place." You could be down there shooting a gun, they wouldn't mind as long as you were there. But, of course, you go uptown to one of those places, especially one of their places and do something (finger snap), you're gone.

MR. BARNES: Of course, Lawrence had a lot of people that earned a living bootlegging. I won't call any names, even though I do know (laughter).

Leonard: But those about all gone now anyway (laughter). But that was the name of the game back in those days anyway... because Lawrence didn't have a lot of liquor stores.

Sherrie: Oooh!

Leonard: Most of them went to Kansas City to get their liquor.

MR. BARNES: You didn't have to pay Kansas tax on alcohol if you went over to Missouri and brought it back to Kansas, which was illegal, but it was a lot cheaper. And, then there was a lot of communities around that were dry, like Franklin County and Ottawa. Franklin County was dry up until just a very few years ago. But buying illegal alcohol was really really popular and there was a lot of people there to serve you (laughter).

Sherrie: So how long... You started dating then high school and how long did you date before you got married?

MRS. BARNES: About a year.

MR. BARNES: It wasn't very long. When I got out of the Army we got married.

Sherrie: So what did you do? Did you... (laughter)? What was your...(laughter)? You just got married (laughter)? What was your life like at that point?

MRS. BARNES: We had children, seven of them.

Sherrie: Seven children?

MRS. BARNES: Uh-huh.

Sherrie: Will you tell us your children's names?

MRS. BARNES: Marla... Let's see, Marla, Calvin, Mark, Barry, Urcela, Carma and Gayla. Don't ask me their ages (laughter).

Sherrie: (Laughter) And what were you doing for a living while you were raising your family?

MRS. BARNES: He was working for the school board until he got on at, uh, Dupont, and then he was working at Dupont, the school board and cleaning a physician's office over on Fourth and Main. But he was working all three of those jobs at one time and so we made it. And, after I got them all in school, I went to work. My mother worked up here at the Kappa Kappa Gamma, she was a maid. So, one day she needed help so I went up and started working there and I worked there for about... What? Three years or so, and then I got pregnant again. Eight years after the baby I had another one, the one that was the baby. So I just went back to work and then just like that, I retired after 29 years. And so Buddy Culley told me, "You're not going to quit that job, you're not going to quit that job," and I said, "Yeah, I'm going to quit this job and I'm going to retire." So they looked like they were pushing me. So I said "Okay," and he kept saying I wasn't going quit, so I said "I'm going to have to get out of here." So I told them, I said "I'm going to retire" (laughter). So they had a great big dinner, and that was a beautiful dinner, invited my kids, him and my brother-in-law, and it was beautiful. So that was it.

Leonard: And, back then, you worked at Dupont until you retired. He was a supervisor at Dupont.

MR. BARNES: No, I wasn't a supervisor.

Leonard: No, I mean, he worked there until he retired.

Sherrie: Can you tell us about your work?

MR. BARNES: Well, I started out picking potatoes (laughter).

Leonard: Like everyone else (laughter). Everyone did it. Even Alice did that.

MR. BARNES: Well, that was about the only thing you could do if you were a kid in Lawrence back in those days in the summertime, pick potatoes for the farmers around here in Douglas County. And, then I would come across the bridge and mow lawns up on... in the 700 block on Indiana Street, which was Old West Lawrence where all the wealthy families lived. And, my dad worked on the Union Pacific railroad and then he died. My stepfather worked on the Union Pacific railroad and my grandfather had worked out there, and the railroad was kind of nepotism. One good way to get on is have a relative that had already been there. So, my stepfather told me, said "Just go out there and tell them you're eighteen," andI think I was fifteen and they hired me, which was great because I was getting the same pay check as my stepdad was getting, only I could do anything I wanted to with mine (laughter), which was buy cars. And, then after I got out of the Army, I went back to work on the railroad. In the meantime, I'd work for Minneapolis Honeywell in Minneapolis. And, then I went to work for the Lawrence Board of Education and School Board, and it was ironic because the first building I worked in was Lincoln School where I'd went to school at, which was kind of strange. But there wasn't that many places for blacks to go to work in Lawrence back in the 50's, very very few. But they started building plants around here and then Dupont built that celephane plant up in Tecumsen, Kansas, and I got on there and I stayed there thirty years until I retired, which was, it was good job but had terrible hours (laughter).

Sherrie: What were your hours?

MR. BARNES: Rotating shift, work around the clock, weekends and holidays. You never get use to it, but the pay was good. So, I stayed there until I was sixty. They offered a golden handshake for the elderly people like myself to leave early and I was more than happy to take it.

Sherrie: What are your memories of the 1960's in Lawrence? When did the Civil Rights Movement happen in Lawrence and what are your memories about that time?

MR. BARNES: Well, I remember it very well. Well, I was working for Dupont and I was working for the School Board at the same time when all that was going on and it was... it was a little different there for a while. They had the National Guards sitting around at various places around town to make sure people observed the curfew and there was a lot of tension, a lot of tension at the high school. By me working shift work, I had to leave town at four, but then when I came back in town at 12:30, the National Guard would be sitting up there on Sixth Street, probably phoning my license number in. He was probably saying there's another trouble maker coming to town to stir up trouble, but I wasn't, I was just getting off of work. But, that's just kind of the way it was for a while until things kind of quieted down a little bit.

Sherrie: Were there noticeable changes that were achieved through that time?

MR. BARNES: There wasn't any overnight changes that I can think about. It was just kind of a slow process that's still going on today. You take two steps forward and one backwards by the way it seems. Like in our current administration getting rid of the... trying to get rid of the Affirmative Action, that's a step backwards as far as I'm concerned. But that's the way the world is.

Sherrie: Do you want to add anything?

MRS. BARNES: It's been interesting (laughter).

Sherrie: Okay (laughter). I was getting so excited. I want to hear about what, before we stop, what you're doing today and I heard something dolls. Did I hear something about dolls? Can we talk a little bit about your dolls.

MRS. BARNES: Well, I started... The reason I got into this doll business is the baby girl, Gayla, she's
thrity-five now, and he had taken all her dolls and bears and everything and packed them upstairs in the attic. So, one day he got them down and I started looking at these dolls. I didn't know a thing about them, so finally I saw a book, so I looked in this book and there was this doll...(inaudible) and she was higher than $200. Of course, I said "My goodness!" So, from then on I started getting dolls and looking up the rest of them, come out with quite a collection, but I've gone overboard, way overboard. But, it's fun, it interesting. I go back and talk to them and tell them things and you don't here nothing back (laughter). They don't talk back and I like that. Some of them I go to the Salvation Army and get, then I take them home and wash them, their hair, clean them up and dress them. They look pretty good.

Sherrie: How many dolls do you have?

MRS. BARNES: Oh, Lord! Probably three hundred.

Sherrie: Huh!

MRS. BARNES: But it's fun.

Sherrie: Yeah! Three hundred dolls! And where do you keep them?

MRS. BARNES: They're all over. I have room full, some in the living room, some in the bedroom and some coming down the stairs.

Sherrie: Aaah!

MRS. BARNES: There's different kinds.

Sherrie: You have any special doll that you collect?

MRS. BARNES: Well, I was collecting all black dolls, but I've found some more interesting dolls, white dolls that have been pretty interesting. And, like I stopped in the Salvation Army yesterday and they had a Madam Alexander, and she's supposed to be a top doll maker. It just a little bitty doll and so it had $1.99 on it, but I'm a Senior, so I ended up paying about 50 cents for it and it was so... and it was a cute little doll. The names mean a lot in dolls, who makes them and... like (inaudible), Matel. Then there's some I ordered. And one of my favorite ones is satin doll, Sophisticated Lady and Little Indigo, (Dekelp?) dolls and they're beautiful. They have beautiful clothes and everything. And that's what I do.

Leonard: And the way she cleans them up and dresses them up and sits around, it's pretty... pretty impressive. I must admit I even like them myself (laughter). I don't play with them (laughter).

MRS. BARNES: It interesting.

Leonard: It's kind of catching. She got a lot of people that really love them and enjoy them.

Sherrie: Wonderful.

MRS. BARNES: Somebody said, "Well, how do you keep your grandchildren out them?" But, all of a sudden, when they were smaller, they would look at them and touch them. But now they don't even pay attention to them, they act like they're not even there because they're going outdoors and doing other things. So I didn't have no trouble with the kids, but somebody said, "How can you keep all these dolls with your kids?"

Leonard: Well, I think they know better too.

MRS. BARNES: Not that I would have did anything to them, but usually they mind pretty good sometimes. They're all grown up and big now, but they all knew a little bit about minding. They're in different world, teenagers.

Sherrie: Uh-huh. Are there other doll collectors in Lawrence?

MRS. BARNES: There are some, but I don't know too much about them and the only time I'd meet most of them is when they was having a doll show out here at the 4H fairgrounds, but they stopped. And, so, if I want to go to one I'll have to go to Kansas City or go to Topeka where they have them because they only have them once a year, so I have to go out of town. And, I have a Popeye that's worth $500 to 1700 and somebody said, "You'd better put him up and lock him up in something," but I don't lock him up, he's setting on top, way up high on a case. So that's interesting.

Sherrie: Do you sell them at all or you just keep them?

MRS. BARNES: Oh, I keep them. I had a offer for the Popeye, 'cause that's one of the times he went to the doll show with me and, so, he come up, we were standing there and, so, when I took it out of the sack, that guy says "I'll buy, I'll buy it right now." And I looked at him, I said "What should do?" He said "Don't sell it," so I said "Okay" (laughter). I didn't sell it. And he's bought me dolls. He bought me Hiedi and some others, Barbies and things. At least I know he likes them.

Sherrie: Uh-huh.

MRS. BARNES: Right (laughter)?

MR. BARNES: I won't say a word on that (laughter).

Sherrie: Are there any other hobbies or anything that you enjoy?

MRS. BARNES: Flowers and, well...

Sherrie: Are you the Barnes that have the sign in front of your house that says Barnes?


Sherrie: With the flowers?

Alice: On Michigan?

Sherrie: On Michigan?

Alice: A lot of gorgeous flowers.

Sherrie: Okay, I know where. I know when you said flowers (laughter), it's like I remember the Barnes.

Leonard: They were even in the newspaper about that.

Sherrie: Yeah, you have beautiful flowers.

MRS. BARNES: Oh, I guess. I ought to be out there. I didn't get to work last year because I had that knee replacement, so I hope to be out there this year because everybody says "But we see James," but they don't see me (laughter).

Alice: James, what about you, do you have hobbies?

MRS. BARNES: Flowers.

Alice: Other than flowers?

MR. BARNES: Genealogy research.

Alice: Yeah.

MRS. BARNES: That's why he knows all that stuff.

Alice: Yeah, yeah!

Sherrie: Yes, yes!

Alice: I need you to help me with my research.

MR. BARNES: Why sure.

Alice: When?

MR. BARNES: I've spent countless hours doing genealogy research. I figure if I ever got a computer, I could just really go to work. Now that I've got the computer, I think I do it less now than I did before I ever got it (laughter). But it's really interesting to search and search and search and then all of a sudden you find somebody that you've been looking for for a long time. And I've found an awful lot of relatives on both sides. Every now and then my grandkids will ask me to put together a genealogy tree for them so they can take it to school. I got one together for one grandson and he took it to school and he was king for a day because no one in his class had any kind of a tree like that (laughter), because he was able to trace his ancestry back into late 1700's which was a long ways back. But there's still a few that I'm still trying to find. Maybe I'll find them, maybe I won't (laughter).

MRS. BARNES: You still havea few to find.

MR. BARNES: Ooh (laughter).

Leonard: I want to thank you for this very very interesting interview.

Sherrie: Thank you so much for these interviews.

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