Herbert Mitchell

Age sixty-one years. He was raised in Douglas County and his mother was a beautician and taught school. He sometimes worked two-four jobs at once. He talks extensively about black businesses in Lawrence. Mr. Mitchell attended KU and discusses the housing and sports segregation there. After KU he served in the army in World War II. Mr. Mitchell talks about life in the army and in the Great Depression. He sometimes worked two-four jobs at once.

Herbert Mitchell
Interview by Curtis Nether

Mr. NETHER: Where were you born, Mr. Mitchell?

Mr. MITCHELL: Born Lawrence, Kansas, Douglas County.

Mr. NETHER: What year were you born?

Mr. MITCHELL: 1916.

Mr. NETHER: Would that make you about sixty-one years old?


Mr. NETHER: Mr. Mitchell, I wanted to talk to you today about some of the businesses, some of the black businesses that thrived in Lawrence, Kansas, during your lifetime. I wonder if you can take geographical locations such as Massachusetts Street, and tell me if there were at any time any thriving black businesses in that area.

Mr. MITCHELL: Yeah. On Massachusetts Street there was Dr. Gabelle, not exactly business, but professional; there was a lawyer, LeRoy Harris in the 700 block on Mass. There was the Jimmy Jackson barber shop in the 600 block, and a few doors down from that was the Ike Miller pool hall. And I don't think of any others directly on Massachusetts, but—

Mr. NETHER: Can we take another location for businesses, say Vermont Street? Were they ever there?

Mr. MITCHELL: Yeah. We had Blue Bucket, kind of a beer joint. And they served pretty good meals there, and it was Scott's Restaurant on the other side of the street, and it did very well, and it was strictly a restaurant.

Mr. NETHER: What about the Blue Bucket, Mr. Mitchell? Who was the proprietor of the Blue Bucket?

Mr. MITCHELL: Let's see. Ed Davis, and they had a brother that worked there with him. I forget now what his name was. I may think of it a little later on.

Mr. NETHER: Were these natives of Lawrence that owned these businesses?

Mr. MITCHELL: As far as I know, they were, at least at the time I knew anything about them. They were Lawrence residents.

Mr. NETHER: Okay.

Mr. MITCHELL: The Davis family had been around Lawrence for the longest time anyway as far as I know. Of course, if their parents came in from some other part of the world, I didn't know.

Mr. NETHER: We have covered briefly some of the businesses on Mass., the pool hall, Blue Bucket, Scott's Restaurant—that was on Vermont. What about another location, say Sixth Street? Was there at any time any black businesses in that location?

Mr. MITCHELL: Not that I know of. So that leaves out two or three that I am thinking of. Didn't have anything to do with Sixth Street. Sixth Street is a business location because it's been changed in the last few years. Seventh Street used to be the main traffic part. There wasn't anything along there that I know of.

Mr. NETHER: Where else were black businesses located?

Mr. MITCHELL: On Lincoln Street in north Lawrence there was the vegetable gardens by Rodgers, Riley Rodgers, and in that same block on the east side of the street was Arthur Hill Laundry. They operated it quite successfully for quite some time. There was the Smothers Laundry. I don't remember now precisely where that was, but at least their residence was near the Quincy School.

Mr. NETHER: The Smothers Laundry?


Mr. NETHER: Who was the proprietor of the Smothers Laundry?

Mr. MITCHELL: Johnson Smothers. And he was an up-and-coming sort of person, and George Penny, Charley Barker had a little real estate business going. They operated more out of their home. It wasn't the real estate office, however, and it wasn't the first-class setup, but they did deal.

Mr. NETHER: During what era did most of these businesses thrive? Could you say like between the 1920s and '30s, the '30s and '40s?

Mr. MITCHELL: Yeah, I would say between 1920s and '40s. The other businesses I was talking about, the saw mill and the grocery store and the veterinary, of course, in Bloomington, which is a little different from Clinton, that was a little bit ahead of my time. I would have been about five years old so that would have been the early '20s and the man they called Printer Smith, I guess, was before my time. I must have been a little shaver before five years old.

Mr. NETHER: Who was Printer Smith again?
Mr. MITCHELL: Somebody by the name of Smith. And instead of giving their right name, they more or less went with whatever trade they were following.

Mr. NETHER: Did these businesses cater to strictly black populations or were they mixed? Were they all white or what?

Mr. MITCHELL: The restaurants, I think, served anybody or everybody. Didn't many whites come in. Blue Bucket, sometimes you would see somebody in there. And Carter's was a restaurant that I only got into once, so I really don't know what their clientele was generally.

Mr. NETHER: Okay.

Mr. MITCHELL: And the barber shop, I don't think that the long hairs and wool hairs mixed up very much as far as barber shops were concerned. The pool hall I was never allowed in, so I don't know.

Mr. NETHER: How did these businesses get started? Had you heard anything about it? Was it a personal savings? Were they given loans? Was it passed down through the family, or what?

Mr. MITCHELL: Now, that is something that is really going to put me on the spot. I don't really know how they got started. I thought it was all on their own ingenuity because I don't think it was any chance that Jimmy Jackson Barber Shop was anything but his own and the Smothers Laundry, I think, generated out of getting into a business that they could handle, and they just went ahead and built it the best way they could. They had quite a number of machines. Speaking of businesses, they had another laundry up at Nineteenth Street here. Lily Williams and her sister had a house that was pretty well converted into laundry with mangles and whatever, and since they got the high-speed machines with the electrical equipment, the other businesses sort of taken over, but people did cater to hand laundry quite a bit in the past.

Mr. NETHER: Can you tell me anything about Gleeds?


Mr. NETHER: Gleeds.

Mr. MITCHELL: Gleeds? Oh, yeah. Now, there is one I can give you a little bit farther. The father Gleed, we called him the old man Gleed, don't know his right name right at the moment, he had been a slave, and he said not the longest day he lived would he work for a white man, so he bought, sold, traded cattle, anything that he could get to trade. And he became an independent individual—got himself married and raised three children, Herb and Clarence and Theodore. Anyhow, they had the business out on Twenty-third Street, the feed store, and they did pretty well, being independent. And I guess to be successful you have to be polite and businesslike, and I think they were that all the way down the line. Then the grandchildren of the old man got an education, KU, and gone various, one place or the other.

Mr. NETHER: Do we have any descendants of the Gleeds in Douglas County?

Mr. MITCHELL: I rather think not, but I don't know. I know Preston went back to Washington. I think he's hooked up with the FBI or something of that nature.

Mr. NETHER: Okay. Mr. Mitchell, I want to ask you something about barber shops in the past. Was it a prestigious business to be a barber? Was a barber someone looked up to or was a barber in his own way a domestic like janitor or cook or maid or something of that nature?

Mr. MITCHELL: It wasn't to me. It may have been to some people. You was a craftsman, kind of like carpenters and plumbers as a tradesman. I suppose you have heard mention of the present barber shops, but I think you were talking about businesses in the past, so let's see. I think Lan Emory worked with Jimmy Jackson for a while, too, but he went with another shop. I have got to develop this in my mind just a little bit. See, my way of looking at it is probably a little different from other people. Now, the people like the Rodgers, the Gleeds and those that had their businesses, I think stuck their chest out an extra inch, took a little breath so they could kind of strut a little bit. And I guess perhaps they felt a little prestigious because of having their own, off of Massachusetts Street, there was Fred Johnson's garage, and we sort of respected all business men, but Fred Johnson was also hooked up with the university too.

Mr. NETHER: What occupation does Fred Johnson have?

Mr. MITCHELL: He was technical assistant or lab man at the university in the biology department. When they needed some machinery made, he would make it or pretty near build or repair parts. He made pumps and tubes and whatever that they needed to have their class work to test, you know, reactions on rabbits or whatever. So it was pretty technical work that he was doing. As far as that's concerned, there was George Cain, who made a name as glass blower; and there was Larry N. Pease, who was once on the Hill as professor, and racial pressure and bigotry. When they did find out that he was of the negroid race, why, he was out, but he made his living as a photographer, 512 West Ninth is where he had his business.

Mr. NETHER: How long did he live here?

Mr. MITCHELL: It must have been twenty or thirty years. Lived there up until his death. I don't remember what year that was.

Mr. NETHER: What years can you remember that he was actually working up at KU? What period of time?

Mr. MITCHELL: Oh, that was maybe from 1920s through the '30s.

Mr. NETHER: And Fred Johnson also through the same time period?

Mr. MITCHELL: His was maybe begun in the '30s or lasted all the way through it. George King was late because in the 1930s, '35, he was on the Hill working in the chemistry department when I was in school up there.

Mr. NETHER: Mr. Mitchell, when you were up on the Hill, where were most blacks from? What hometown? Were most of them from Lawrence?

Mr. MITCHELL: There was a few from Lawrence, St. Louis, and Kansas City. Once in a while, somebody would come in from Chatopwa, or some place else. Few out of Topeka. Of course, they had Washburn in Topeka. Quite a few of them were out of St. Louis.

Mr. NETHER: Did you ever hear or did they ever mention why they would choose KU out of any other schools that was in the country?

Mr. MITCHELL: Those out of Kansas City, I guess, because the Missouri universities were pretty closed or prejudiced. KU, being a more open school, was the place to come and get an education. I suppose that the scholastic standing of KU had something to do with their choosing the school.

Mr. NETHER: Have you ever heard of Western University?

Mr. MITCHELL: Yeah. I heard of it.

Mr. NETHER: The one that was in Kansas City?

Mr. MITCHELL: Uh-huh. I had a cousin that went down there to teach and her viewpoints and reactions on things may have been very truthful or it may have been very biased, so rather than report a rumor, I won't say anything about the climate of the thing.

Mr. NETHER: Okay.

Mr. MITCHELL: I didn't actually experience it.

Mr. NETHER: That's fair enough. Now, little bit more about college life again. This is something we went over yesterday, but I want to get some of the college organizations, black organizations, down while we have the opportunity.


Mr. NETHER: What type of organizations on campus did blacks participate in or what kind of black organizations were there on campus?

Mr. MITCHELL: Delta Sigma Theta, Alpha Phi Alpha, Alpha Alpha Psi. They tried to drum up an Omega Pi Psi and more or less a social organization with scholastic background.

Mr. NETHER: Were blacks allowed to live in the dormitory? Did they go to school? I mean did they live on campus?

Mr. MITCHELL: At the time that I was going to school the houses were off-campus. In the latter part of when they began to have the black athletes come in from various and sundry places, they were living in the dorms. The attitude somewhat changed a little bit, but those that were Greek letter were the Kappas, they were more or less living in one of the dorms on West Campus Road, is it?

Mr. NETHER: Uh-huh.

Mr. MITCHELL: Anyhow, most of them, some of them were living in there because they was going to rebuild the Kappa house, but that was after I was out of school.

Mr. NETHER: Where was the Kappa House located?

Mr. MITCHELL: At one time it was 816 Maine Street. Then it got on 1134 Mississippi Street right east of the stadium.

Mr. NETHER: Did many people join fraternal organizations to have a place in which they could live, you think?

Mr. MITCHELL: I don't know. There were so many people had their doors open, private families, that joining an organization wasn't the prime requisite for having some place to hang your hat.

Mr. NETHER: Would these be all kinds of families, all races of families, that would take black students in, or black students go to black families or white students go to white families?

Mr. MITCHELL: Yes, it was pretty much separate.

Mr. NETHER: And there was many black families that would open their arms to some long-lost, puzzled, discouraged black student?

Mr. MITCHELL: They would open their doors. One or two of them I don't think ever opened their arms. They opened their doors for monetary reasons. I am thinking of one very close to the campus, and that probably is rather biased on my part. That one particular party, I shouldn't blanket all the rest of them with that. Now, there's been some who were very glad to have somebody come in and more or less adopted them as part of the family. I want to give a balance to the whole thing, but the college for the reason of this one in particular who had an iron fist and a mid-Victorian conventional attitude had an effect on the student living therein. And since there was a different climate in the university teaching that as in the family, black family, maybe in the white families too, I don't know. But the dormitory life in which they are all working together, all doing things together, I think, gives them a little bit of an up feeling because if one party or family that kept students. I know the parents of one of the grandchild had a little fracas on the Hill not too long back. From generation to generation, the aggressive black, whatever you want to call it, has some difficulty.

Mr. NETHER: Mr. Mitchell, did many blacks graduate? Did they attend school and stay in school at KU, or was it always many of them that would quit and become discouraged and go back home?

Mr. MITCHELL: For the most part, I think they made their graduation on the Hill and made their mark for themselves, and there's been a few that left the Hill. I don't think it was necessarily discouraged. It was because of family enlargement.

Mr. NETHER: Is there anything about KU that you remember? Were you required to take swimming your freshman year?

Mr. MITCHELL: Excuse me. No, we wasn't required to take swimming. I wasn't required to take swimming at any time. My one opportunity when they had their back turned, I did get in the pool, and everybody liked to had hysterics about the thing.

Mr. NETHER: Okay.

Mr. MITCHELL: That was 1938 or somewhere along in there.

Mr. NETHER: Were the white students, was it mandatory that they take swimming their freshman year?

Mr. MITCHELL: I never thought to ask whether it was mandatory or not. I know they had the pool there and the ostracism or separatism; the black just wasn't supposed to think that they had a pool.

Mr. NETHER: What other things along this line were blacks not allowed to do up at Kansas University?

Mr. MITCHELL: Up until pretty close to Wilt the Stilt or Gayle Sayers, there weren't too many football or basketball people. They would rather lose every game that they played than to have a black man on the team, and I suppose this is synonymous with some other derogatory term. But somehow there's been a lot of pressure. There's been a lot of education, so since other schools—oh, by the way, did somebody tell you that Rosie Belock from Nebraska came here to play at KU? This is long before my time.


Mr. MITCHELL: Okay. A black man came here, KU bawled and squawked, said they wouldn't play the black man. Nebraska said if you won't play a black man, we won't have a game. So KU swallowed their pride, or something like that, but anyhow they had a game, and he was welcome and taken to the forbidden hotel, and many of the townspeople, the youngsters, I think one of them was my mother.

The Harveys, Sherman Harvey and Ed Harvey, Sherman Harvey was a doctor, did I tell you? Well, anyhow, Ed Harvey got his ankle broken playing football for KU. Now, that was back way early. You see, the Harveys, Al and Dave, Dean, are my age, more or less. Their father attended KU and he was on the team then. Then there was an influx of the Ku Klux Klan and things kind of tightened up and closed down in this town, and it seems as though it takes just a little poison to lay around and just keep polluting the water, and only recently since we have had a postwar influx of new people with new minds, 1966, from Haight Ashbury on through, there's been a crop of new people with free, open minds that have been bringing a lot of pressure to bear. Even if they shot some of them up, and I think some organization has infiltered the youth movement because to my mind, which is not for this tape, I will develop that some other time.

Mr. NETHER: All right. You can feel free to voice your ideas whether they are on tape or not.

Mr. MITCHELL: We have had Negro businesses in the past. They have got along pretty well. We have had one or two things happen here lately. Speaking of the Gleeds, there was a Preston Clark and John Clark. They lived on Massachusetts Street, and I think Preston Clark's father, John, was a photographer, but I don't think he was a photographer here.

Mr. NETHER: Would this be the Clarks that were related to Judge Clark?

Mr. MITCHELL: From their looks, their actions and so forth, I don't know. I have never heard of them being spoken of as being related to each other. There can be three or four Browns and be from different parts of the country or not, because the names don't necessarily follow the same family tree in the black community.

Mr. NETHER: You could not now think of any other things or like—

Mr. MITCHELL: Like hairdressers?

Mr. NETHER: Sure. Were there black hairdressers here?

Mr. MITCHELL: Yes. There was the college in Chicago and we had devotees to that. My mother was one of them who took the course and fixed Negro ladies hair, straightened or pull and press or whatever else, and there was some other body here in town that did that too, but I don't think of who it is right now.

Mr. NETHER: Can you think now of any other businesses that maybe we have forgotten about that we didn't mention?

Mr. MITCHELL: Since you have talked to the Harveys, you know they were successful hog raisers and marketing, and I guess there were others in north Lawrence that were pretty successful. There was Ball. Ball was a gardener, but I don't think he was quite as big as Riley Rodgers.

Mr. NETHER: Uh-huh.

Mr. MITCHELL: And an offshoot from Riley Rodgers when Riley Rodgers died was Anderson. I can't think of his name right at the moment, but he is gone now.

Mr. NETHER: Mr. Mitchell, is this a true statement: that at one time here in Douglas County blacks and whites were not separate, it was not a Jim Crowism here in Douglas County? Blacks could attend restaurants, as you said, there was a Harvey on the football team, but after that the Ku Klux Klan came in and it changed Lawrence from a humanitarian city where each individual could get along despite their color to one that kind of spawned bigotry?

Mr. MITCHELL: You would make a pretty good lawyer. You are trying to put words in my mouth there. I would say the climate atmosphere was more humanitarian, I won't say that there was a complete absence of bigotry and so forth, but at least they did have businesses and they got along much better. They had pretty well mixed schools, but along about the time my mother was teaching school, there was some woman came in and started raising ol' billy abut the order in which children were marching in school when they rang the bell. Said, "Oh, we can't have that, we do this way and we do that, we can't have such and such," and shortly after that, about 1920 someplace, they had the Ku Klux Klan where they were flying their airplanes with fiery cross lights on the bottom of the airplane, and that's about when things changed in some parts of it, but I don't think the university followed quite as much as certain parts of Lawrence.

Mr. NETHER: Was this a drastic change?

Mr. MITCHELL: Being that I was raised out here and it was considered pretty well out in the country, I didn't know all of the details.

Mr. NETHER: Okay.

Mr. MITCHELL: And recently the city has moved out and taken us in.

Mr. NETHER: Mr. Mitchell, do you have any children?


Mr. NETHER: If you did have children, would you want them to live in Douglas County? Would you mind?

Mr. MITCHELL: I don't know. I am going to do a little talking here. I said that I wouldn't want them to live in some parts of Kansas City, there's some parts of Lawrence I wouldn't want them to live in. I don't know anything about anyplace else.

Mr. NETHER: Okay.

Mr. MITCHELL: So if I were to raise a child here, I would at least like to pick the peer groups and so forth for them to be exposed to, to be able to walk with all but to be able to choose close associates.

Mr. NETHER: Do you feel that they could have an equal chance for success here in Douglas County as they could anywhere else, judging from your own experience?

Mr. MITCHELL: I would say that most of the people that have made it—I would say no, because it seems that most of the people that made it, made marks for themselves, have gone from here to someplace else, and those who have made the great mark here have come from someplace else. We have import families, they live here for a while, but their kids have made postal worker, in the grocery stores and various other things. I don't know.

Mr. NETHER: Mr. Mitchell, do you see any major changes that have taken place in Douglas County or what do you think the major changes have been here in the county?

Mr. MITCHELL: The university has set the climate of brother feeling for the town, I think. The changes like we have—I can't call him a black man, but he's not a white man. His parents came in here from the time before he was born. He worked as a city engineer. Now, that's a change. There was a time when we didn't have anybody working in that capacity. Lots of jobs opened up and I see interracial families from all over. I am not speaking of the black, white or the white, black marriages. I am speaking of Jewish/Catholic, Pakistani/Ukranian marriages—all kinds of things like that--that are accepted. At one time there was only two people, there was either the WASP and everything else like that.

Mr. NETHER: Do you attend church here, Mr. Mitchell?

Mr. MITCHELL: I did attend church regular every Sunday, I sang in the choir, and I attended some of the other church meetings and it seems that since I was forced to have two, three or four jobs, that one of them turned out to be the only time I could do it was Sunday morning, and I have not been to church for some time.

Mr. NETHER: Had you seen any changes in the church?

Mr. MITCHELL: Yes. I have. I am not going to say that I understand it all because I have listened to sermons from both communities.

Mr. NETHER: But do you see any difference in the church the last time you attended then when you first started to attend?


Mr. NETHER: What kind of changes were those?

Mr. MITCHELL: I have been a small child, I listened to the words but the words wasn't explained. I went through the motions and as other people go through the motions and as much on faith and lately it seems though that either I have gained a deeper understanding or they are explaining a little more. Whether this is typically true of the black church or whether some of the lectures I am putting into from other churches, but the church itself I think in general is bringing things down a little closer to the level of trying to understand the word that was given rather than just to make the joyful noise and have a lot of rhythm. The Baptist church as well as the Methodist church has mixed clientele. The Catholic Church always has had mixed clientele, as I understand it.

Mr. NETHER: Mr. Mitchell, do you remember any racial demonstrations or racial movements that took place here in Douglas County?

Mr. MITCHELL: Brother. Yeah.

Mr. NETHER: What were they like? Think as far back as you can now to maybe the first one, when blacks finally started protesting what was happening to them. When did this movement take place and what was it like?

Mr. MITCHELL: I don't know the dates really. We had this fellow come in from out of town and he was, must have been about 1966 or '68, somewhere like that. Somebody else has probably given you the dates on that and probably give you his name, but he was a grand agitator and he didn't much care whether you got shot or not, but anyhow, he brought the point out that there's going to hire black people in the businesses or they would then be either burnt off the map or blown off the map, and by force I think is the way that some of them felt that they had to institute the thing.

I think perhaps a person can maybe accomplish a little bit more in the long run by threat of force and start the ball rolling but the continuation of force when the people are shooting at each other up and down the street is not my way of looking at it. But you get somebody else that has the dates on these things. Police officer shot, there was a somebody Dowdell, Rick "Tiger" Dowdell was shot during the time that so much poison was going on.

Mr. NETHER: Were you happy that blacks were finally protesting? Did you feel proud or were you ashamed of the manner in which they were trying to achieve equal rights?

Mr. MITCHELL: I was proud of their protest, but I was afraid to do anything about it myself for price of jobs or something like that, and that's why the man who comes in from outside who is not depending on a livelihood from this locality could be squeezed the intimidation by innuendo or whatever you might say.

Mr. NETHER: Do you remember any of the demands black people were making at this time? What were they saying? What was causing them to threaten police and to threaten mad violence?

Mr. MITCHELL: It was police brutality and discrimination, a lot of things, like theaters and swimming pools.

Mr. NETHER: Did your generation when you were in KU ever think of reacting violently to the way you were placed into a class?

Mr. MITCHELL: It may have been thought of, it may have been somewhat discussed. I know during my post-KU years while I was at Guadalcanal, I figured to bring an army rifle home or get a good rifle and take the 10 or 12, try to get the 10 before I go down, because it was brewing a long time.

Mr. NETHER: Did you serve in World War II?


Mr. NETHER: Where did you go for basic training?

Mr. MITCHELL: Ft. McClelland, Alabama.

Mr. NETHER: Were you drafted or did you enlist?

Mr. MITCHELL: I got drafted. I got caught. I am a caughtee.

Mr. NETHER: Were there many other blacks or people from Douglas County at Ft. McClelland?

Mr. MITCHELL: Very few. Two or three that I knew of.

Mr. NETHER: Did blacks from Douglas County go mainly to any particular place for their basic training?

Mr. MITCHELL: Before basic training we all went to Leavenworth and we went down there on a troop train and I think we got kind of mixed up deal or shuffled route right there, so a lot of people I didn't know. There was some from Topeka there but not from Douglas County, besides Virgil Lee and somebody else. I don't think I was acquainted with any Douglas Countians.

Mr. NETHER: While you were there, were you only around black recruits and white officers?

Mr. MITCHELL: Black recruits and white officers. We had some sergeants and noncoms that were like techs.

Mr. NETHER: So you served in an all-black regiment or unit?


Mr. NETHER: With white officers?


Mr. NETHER: How did you feel about going to war, Mr. Mitchell, when here at home you were not accorded many of the equal rights that you were promised? Now came a time when you were asked to go out and fight for your country. How did you feel about going off to fight?

Mr. MITCHELL: I felt as though that I had been arrested without charge and I wasn't happy about the whole situation. But I didn't think I was going to get back either and during basic training we was trying to have a pep talk down there and talking about fighting the yellow-bellied bastards, and so forth, most of the time I had been looking at my shoelaces, but when the officer came up with that I looked him straight in the eye and he had about three words to say after that and broke up the meeting. I don't know whether he read my mind or what it was, I don't know, but if there's anything to extrasensory perception, he must have felt what I was thinking, because he didn't like me either because that's what I was, I was okay.

Mr. NETHER: What about on the home front? Do you know how your parents, your mother, what was her reaction to you having to leave?

Mr. MITCHELL: The fact that I was going to be out of her sight for more than two hours really shook her. She was very possessive.

Mr. NETHER: The war, your fighting, did you ever think about Douglas County while you were away?

Mr. MITCHELL: Stateside Douglas County, Lawrence, this particular address, oh, yeah.

Mr. NETHER: What were your thoughts? Were they happy thoughts? Were you homesick? Were you anxious to get back here?

Mr. MITCHELL: This is a leading question and I considered where I was at Guadalcanal being able to swim in the ocean every day after tour of duty was over without being chawed on was vacation. I don't need to go any farther than that.

Mr. NETHER: Were you happy? What was your first feeling when you first came back home, when you were here and you were finally home? Were there feelings of happiness, regret?

Mr. MITCHELL: Kind of like my parole had been revoked.

Mr. NETHER: You had to come back, huh?

Mr. MITCHELL: Uh-huh.

Mr. NETHER: Did you make many new acquaintances while you were in the army?

Mr. MITCHELL: Everybody that I met was new.

Mr. NETHER: Did you socialize much with some of the recruits that were away from home?

Mr. MITCHELL: After work, that's about all we had to do, was either play cards or swap lives or go swimming, or something.

Mr. NETHER: Did you go into town much?

Mr. MITCHELL: No. There wasn't much town to go in. Most of the rest of them were so anxious to get passes. I got passes to get some clothes cleaned and things like that. I did get a pass a little later and some one of the drunks kind of had an explosive urp behind me and covered the back of my neck and my shirt collar, and everything, and everybody else got real nervous on that bus. They thought I was going to turn around and plow the heck out of him, but that's one of the cases where I knew that I just better not do too much because if I had gone physical I was outnumbered.

Mr. NETHER: Okay.

Mr. MITCHELL: Second thing, if he was that sick, I don't think he did it on purpose, because he lost his teeth out the window.

Mr. NETHER: To back up to another decade, the Depression, Mr. Mitchell, what was it like here in Douglas County during the Depression?

Mr. MITCHELL: Oh, God, it was pretty sad. We was all practically picking scraps out of the trash can. We were trying to feed some hogs and we went to a hotel where people would have scraps to throw out and there wasn't anything but a few orange peels in the trash can. We had a garden and even the grasshoppers had eaten down into the onions and there were three or four grasshoppers down where the onions should have been, and it was pretty meager. We had to really tighten our belts. Saw people going across country with mismatched shoes, safety pins, or nails to hold their garments together, which is probably salvaged, and we just didn't have it. Worked for a dime an hour.

Mr. NETHER: Was this a time when your white counterpart was alongside of you looking for scraps and so forth, walking across country also?

Mr. MITCHELL: These people traveling through the country that I saw were the whites, and the poor black man was having the trouble here. I was at the place where I didn't get much away from home unless I went just to the grocery store or went with the folks some place.

Mr. NETHER: Okay. Mr. Mitchell, I am going to finally stop right here with one more last question.


Mr. NETHER: Can you think of anything now that maybe I didn't cover that's implanted in your mind that has happened here in the past in Douglas County that you would like to contribute to this project?

Mr. MITCHELL: In Douglas County?

Mr. NETHER: Yes.

Mr. MITCHELL: The University of Kansas and the climate at Lake Henry is so diametrically opposed to what it used to be that I would say hurray for Lawrence, hurray for education and hurray for the type of things that they are doing to help the individual enrich themselves to be able to appreciate themselves as a human being, so that they can be better able to appreciate another person because those who can not appreciate themselves haven't found their identity as an individual can't appreciate another person.

That's very well put. I am glad that we have that on a good tape recorder so we can have it.

Mr. MITCHELL: You have been to the lake, haven't you?

Mr. NETHER: Lake Henry?

Mr. MITCHELL: Oh, okay.

Mr. NETHER: Where's Lake Henry? I haven't been there.

Mr. MITCHELL: To Clinton Lake?

Mr. NETHER: Yes.

Mr. MITCHELL: Then 2 miles west. Two miles west. Most of the percentage of like the book Joy. No inhibition, mixed group, good.

Mr. NETHER: Really? Okay.

Mr. MITCHELL: The climate there is healthy, emotionally healthy.

Mr. NETHER: Okay.

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