Ora Ethel Newman

Ora Ethel Newman was a resident of north Lawrence and a member of the Regular Missionary Baptist church.

Ora Ethel Newman
July 7, 1977

Interview by Curtis Nether

MR. NETHER: What is your name?

MRS. NEWMAN: Ora Ethel Newman.

MR. NETHER: What was your maiden name?


MR. NETHER: What's your age, Mrs. Newman?

MRS. NEWMAN: I am eighty-seven.

MR. NETHER: What is your marital status? Are you married? Is your husband deceased?


MR. NETHER: Okay. How many children do you have?

MRS. NEWMAN: I have four children living, and I lost one child.

MR. NETHER: What's the ages of your children?

MRS. NEWMAN: They start about 59, then they are about two years apart.

MR. NETHER: Were all your children born here in Douglas County?

MRS. NEWMAN: No. I only had one child born here.

MR. NETHER: Where were the rest of your children born?

MRS. NEWMAN: In Wichita, Kansas.

MR. NETHER: Is that where you lived prior to coming to Douglas County?

MRS. NEWMAN: That's right.

MR. NETHER: What were your parents' names?

MRS. NEWMAN: You mean their first names or their—

MR. NETHER: First and last names.

MRS. NEWMAN: My mother was Eliza Gray.


MRS. NEWMAN: And my father was Andrew Gray.

MR. NETHER: Where were they born?

MRS. NEWMAN: In Tennessee.

MR. NETHER: Nashville and Knoxville?

MRS. NEWMAN: Nashville.

MR. NETHER: What were your parents' reasons for coming to Douglas County? First of all, why did they come to Douglas County?

MRS. NEWMAN: They didn't come to Douglas County.

MR. NETHER: Okay. Where did—

MRS. NEWMAN: My parents never lived here.

MR. NETHER: When did you first come to Douglas County?

MRS. NEWMAN: I came to Douglas County about in 1924, somewhere along there.

MR. NETHER: Where did you come from, Wichita?


MR. NETHER: Where were you born?

MRS. NEWMAN: I was born in Kansas City, Kansas.

MR. NETHER: Did your parents once live in Wyandotte County?


MR. NETHER: Why did they come to Wyandotte County?


MR. NETHER: Do you think?

MRS. NEWMAN: I really don't know why they did.

MR. NETHER: How long did they live in Wyandotte County?

MRS. NEWMAN: Not too long.

MR. NETHER: Where did they go after they left?

MRS. NEWMAN: They went to Oklahoma.

MR. NETHER: Why did they leave Wyandotte County and go to Oklahoma?

MRS. NEWMAN: My father wanted to take up a claim. That's what they always called it, taking up a claim.

MR. NETHER: Why did you come from Wichita to Douglas County?

MRS. NEWMAN: My husband had work here. He worked with the paving company.

MR. NETHER: How did he get his job? Did you first meet your husband in Wichita?


MR. NETHER: How did he find out about the job up here in Douglas County?

MRS. NEWMAN: He was with this company when we married and they moved to different towns to pave the streets. There was lots of work in Lawrence at that time, lot of paving, and so he came here with the company to pave the streets of Lawrence.

MR. NETHER: Mrs. Newman, when you first got here in 1922, you say?


MR. NETHER: What did Lawrence look like? What did Douglas County look like? Were the streets paved?

MRS. NEWMAN: Not too much paving, not too many.

MR. NETHER: What about the buildings? What did they look like?

MRS. NEWMAN: There wasn't much at that time. There wasn't too much, too many new homes at that time.

MR. NETHER: What about Massachusetts Street? What was it like?

MRS. NEWMAN: It wasn't near like it is now. It really has built up now.


MRS. NEWMAN: Quite a bit.

MR. NETHER: All right. Mrs. Newman, when you first came here, and your husband came home, he told you that he was getting a job in Lawrence and that you would be leaving, what was your first reaction? Had you heard anything about Lawrence to determine what it would be like?

MRS. NEWMAN: Oh, yes, I had a sister here. I had a sister living here.

MR. NETHER: Were you anxious to come to Lawrence and live?

MRS. NEWMAN: Oh, yes, I was.

MR. NETHER: Why do you think you were so anxious?

MRS. NEWMAN: I wanted to be with some of my folks because I didn't have anyone in Wichita, and I was anxious because she lived here.

MR. NETHER: Did she like living here?

MRS. NEWMAN: Yes, she did.

MR. NETHER: What was her name?

MRS. NEWMAN: She was Saunders. He was Tom Saunders, her husband, and her name was Martha.

MR. NETHER: When you first came here, did you see many black people living here?

MRS. NEWMAN: Yes, there was quite a few.

MR. NETHER: Where did they mostly live?

MRS. NEWMAN: There was quite a settlement in north Lawrence.

MR. NETHER: Would you say then that most of the blacks in 1922 were living in North Lawrence?

MRS. NEWMAN: I imagine they was. I really do.

MR. NETHER: How did the blacks in north Lawrence make a living?

MRS. NEWMAN: They truck gardened and some of them had jobs with the plumbing company and women cooked. They were cooks on the Hill, they cooked for the fraternity and sorority houses, the women did, and some of the women, though, stayed at home. They didn't as many work like they do now away from home.

MR. NETHER: Were there a lot of farmers in north Lawrence?

MRS. NEWMAN: Yes. Everybody had a little piece of ground they tried to farm. They raised lots of stuff and put it up for the winter.

MR. NETHER: What were the winters like when you first came here?

MRS. NEWMAN: Oh, cold.

MR. NETHER: They were cold?

MRS. NEWMAN: Really cold.

MR. NETHER: Could you approximate the temperature then? Was it below zero?

MRS. NEWMAN: I can tell you what it was like. The Kaw River, when it froze over, when winter set in, it never thawed out until spring and they skated on that river all winter long. Now, you can just about judge how cold it was, and it would snow, then it would sleet and then they would have a cold icy rain and that just kept freezing and building up and men could drive a team of horses across the river. Now, that would tell you about how cold—what would you call that temperature?

MR. NETHER: What kind of facilities did they have here for housewives when you first came? Did you have a refrigerator in your home? How did you keep your food cold?

MRS. NEWMAN: We kept it in the well, and lot of people had cellars. Some had them under the house, and then others had caves. I think that's what they called them. They had caves, and then they would hang it in the well. They had two buckets on a rope and a pulley wheel. I don't know whether you have ever saw that or not, but now they had also an extra rope that they would drop down in this well that had a big bucket and you set the milk and your butter in this bucket and let it lower down to the top of the water level in the well and that was how it was kept, but the other, now, if you want to know about the vegetables and different things like that, they buried that, cabbage, they buried cabbage, rhudabakers, apples.

MR. NETHER: Just bury them in the ground?

MRS. NEWMAN: Well, you had to fix a place. You dug out and then you lined it with straw and they you would put whatever you had in there, then you put some more straw on top of it and cover it up with dirt. You had a big mound, and then you see when you got ready for it, you just went there you knew where to go in there to get it. That was the way it was kept. It kept too.

MR. NETHER: Did you ever use ice to cool anything like they do now? Where did you get your ice from?

MRS. NEWMAN: They cut the ice from the river, men drove their teams across that river on the ice and then they would build a fire and work all day cutting ice and then they made a—I don't know whether you call it like a cave in the wall on the other side of the river bank, that's on the south side of the riverbank, and they would make this cave and then they lined this with straw or hay and they cut ice from the river and store it in there. That's where you got it.

MR. NETHER: How come the ice didn't melt?

MRS. NEWMAN: I didn't know. It was just through God, don't you think? He just works in mysterious ways, doesn't He? And I think that's how all of this came about, these vegetables kept, nothing spoiled, no one got sick from eating it either. That's right.

MR. NETHER: Another question here, Mrs. Newman. When you first came here, well, say, you had been living here for a while, how did black people and white people relate to each other? Was there a lot of segregation? Did it seem like whites and blacks were intermingled in a relaxed comfortable situation?

MRS. NEWMAN: Oh, yes. There was a lot of segregation. Most everything was segregated. The picture shows and eating places, oh, everything.

MR. NETHER: What picture show did you actually attend?

MRS. NEWMAN: I didn't attend any.

MR. NETHER: You didn't?

MRS. NEWMAN: But, when we lived in Wichita, this is what was funny about it. When we lived in Wichita, we went to the picture shows all the time. But they had what they called, I know you heard of it, the buzzard roost, and that was way up high but it was a good view, and then when they got overcrowded down here where we wasn't allowed to sit, they would come up and sit with us and nobody cared. You see, that's the way it was, and I think it would have been like that all along because there was as many that went along with that as there was that didn't, what I mean, agreed with it. But that showed that they could do it and we would all sit up there and if they had popcorn and peanuts, they shared with us and we just had the best time.

MR. NETHER: Can you tell me anything about east Lawrence when you first came here? Was it any different than north Lawrence?

MRS. NEWMAN: East Lawrence—that was New Jersey Street, and there really was lots and lots of colored people on New Jersey, but the houses was ramshackled—just kind of shacks. And of course later years, they have all been tore out and different houses has been built and people have lived different.

MR. NETHER: How did you say the blacks from north Lawrence and east Lawrence relate to one another? Was it kind of a uniformity there? Did they get along well or—

MRS. NEWMAN: I think the ones over here felt a little more elevated.

MR. NETHER: Good word.


MR. NETHER: Little more elevated?

MRS. NEWMAN: Yeah, I'm sure they did, than we did over there. That's right, because they kind of looked down on you because where do you live, they would ask you, and you would say, I am from north Lawrence, and they just, you know.

MR. NETHER: Did they have any names or nicknames that they would refer to blacks in north Lawrence as?

MRS. NEWMAN: No, I don't think they did.

MR. NETHER: Could—

MRS. NEWMAN: Oh, yes, they did. They called them sandrats. I forgot. They did, they called them sandrats.

MR. NETHER: What did the blacks in north Lawrence call the ones across the river?

MRS. NEWMAN: Over here? I don't know they had any special names for them.

MR. NETHER: Suppose now that some guy over in east Lawrence became sweet on you and wanted to have company, to come over and visit you sometime. Could he do it freely or would there be some men in north Lawrence that wouldn't want him to come across the river?

MRS. NEWMAN: Oh, yeah, they would stone him. Wouldn't dare cross.

MR. NETHER: Was that vice versa also, if some guy from north Lawrence wanted to come over across the river?

MRS. NEWMAN: They didn't like it too well because, a little later on after the grade school, the high school, you had to come over here, then that was when they began to mix more, because you see through the schools. That was what brought them together more.

MR. NETHER: Was there any other way to get across the river than the bridge?

MRS. NEWMAN: No, not unless you swam.

MR. NETHER: I am going to ask you some questions now about different periods of time in history? You won't be able to answer most of them, but the ones that you can remember something about, then we will just emphasize those, okay?


MR. NETHER: Do you remember anything about the Civil War or how the Civil War related to the black history of Douglas County?

MRS. NEWMAN: No, I don't.

MR. NETHER: Have you heard any stories about it? Maybe your sister had told you some things that she had heard.


MR. NETHER: What about Quantrill's raids when—

MRS. NEWMAN: No, we weren't here in Lawrence at that time.

MR. NETHER: Can you remember anything about World War I here in Douglas County? That's still a couple years early there?

MRS. NEWMAN: Not too much.

MR. NETHER: Did your husband serve in World War I?


MR. NETHER: He did not. This is a good question. What did you do for fun in the 30s when you were a young lady, very young lady, and you came to Douglas County? How did you socialize? How did you have a good time?

MRS. NEWMAN: We went to church. People went to church. You had to do that. That was a have to. And you just got up in the mornings and prepared yourself to go to church because we had always did that as children, as small children, we knew we had to go to Sunday School and stay for church, and they had dominoes and checkers that they played for fun, but my mother never allowed us to play cards. She didn't allow cards in the house because she felt that cards was an unpardonable sin, and we never did it. But I thought as I grew up dancing and playing cards was two things I was going to do, and then after I grew up I decided I guess I didn't want to do it after all. I don't know why I changed, but I just didn't want to and never did do it. I never learned to play cards.

MR. NETHER: Would you say that the church provided most of the social functions for black people?

MRS. NEWMAN: I think it provided quite a bit.

MR. NETHER: What church do you attend?

MRS. NEWMAN: Now they call it RM Baptist.

MR. NETHER: What's the R.M. for?

MRS. NEWMAN: The Regular Missionary Baptist Church.

MR. NETHER: Where is it located?

MRS. NEWMAN: At 412 Lincoln, in north Lawrence.

MR. NETHER: How long have you attended RM Baptist Church?

MRS. NEWMAN: Oh, for over 50 years. I didn't belong to any church at all until I moved to Lawrence, but we always went. We went to church, but I never joined church until I came here.

MR. NETHER: How old was the R M Baptist Church then? Was it a church that had recently become started or had it become in existence for a while?

MRS. NEWMAN: No, older people organized and built that church.

MR. NETHER: Do you know around what period of time?

MRS. NEWMAN: It's a hundred and nine years old now and I don't know whether that would take you back or not to about where it started. I have the records of that all at home.

MR. NETHER: Do you?

MRS. NEWMAN: Yeah. How old that church was when it was built and—but I can't even remember, but it is now a hundred and nine years old.

MR. NETHER: That would make it about 1868?

MRS. NEWMAN: Oh, I expect.

MR. NETHER: Do you remember who was the first pastor of the church?

MRS. NEWMAN: Now, the first pastor, I never knew anything about him, only seen his picture in the church, and his name was Gabriel Gray.



MR. NETHER: Okay. Was this church started by blacks?

MRS. NEWMAN: Yes, it was.

MR. NETHER: Blacks from north Lawrence?

MRS. NEWMAN: From north Lawrence.

MR. NETHER: Why did they start this church? Why couldn't they go to another church?

MRS. NEWMAN: They kind of had church around in their homes but they felt that they needed a church in north Lawrence and the older people got together and that was what they did.

MR. NETHER: Was this the first black church in north Lawrence, do you think?

MRS. NEWMAN: Yes, it was, because I believe it's older than St. James. That's the Methodist Church.

MR. NETHER: Okay. Mrs. Newman, do you see any major changes that has taken place in R M Baptist?

MRS. NEWMAN: Oh, yes, quite a few changes, but now they had a good choir at that time, they had a lovely choir when we first came to Lawrence. They had a lovely choir, but you see they all died off, and then the younger ones take over, don't you know, just like we are now. This really at our church now is—if I would put it right—I would say it's all a new generation. There are not any of the old ones there, and at the present time there's three old members, myself, Mrs. Scott, and Mrs. Moore. That's the only three that's living that belongs to that church now. All the rest are gone.

MR. NETHER: Do you remember any time when the church played a part in the civil rights movement or when the church helped black people in the community at any time?

MRS. NEWMAN: No, not especially.

MR. NETHER: I want to get back to chronology now, in the history. In the 1920s what kind of work was your husband doing at this time?

MRS. NEWMAN: He was with paving.

MR. NETHER: How many black people worked with him? Was it a unique job for black people to get?

MRS. NEWMAN: Yes, they all worked it. Yes, white, black, all worked together.

MR. NETHER: Was it a good-paying job?

MRS. NEWMAN: You called it good then. You couldn't make it now.

MR. NETHER: All right. Can you remember the Depression, Mrs. Newman?

MRS. NEWMAN: Oh, do I? I always hate that.

MR. NETHER: Okay. Was your husband still employed during the Depression? Was he able to keep the same job he had?

MRS. NEWMAN: Yes, he worked at it, but it took him away from home so much. He still worked at it, but he was away from home and you see when you are away from home, it's just like almost supporting two families, because he had to have a place to stay and his food and everything and then what he would send home. I had to manage with that, so it was pretty tough.

MR. NETHER: Were a lot of people here in Douglas County out of work during the 30s?


MR. NETHER: A lot of black people were out of work?

MRS. NEWMAN: Wasn't every much. Now, like my boys when they came along big enough to work, there wasn't anything for them to do except in the summer when the people that raised gardens, the gardeners would hire young kids to pick up potatoes and onions and tie vegetables for the market and like that. Riley Rodgers, he had the best garden of anybody in north Lawrence because he irrigated and he could hire more help because he raises stuff fast as he would get one crop moved off, he was ready to plant another and he could hire more help than any of the other people that raised gardens. But after that was done, there was just nothing for the children to do. Children had nothing to do and I don't know how they stayed out of trouble as well as they did, but they didn't do anything. You never heard of a child misbehaving or hardly ever.

MR. NETHER: How did you feel when Franklin Roosevelt was elected?

MRS. NEWMAN: I don't know. I am really not much of a politician. I will just be truthful. I guess maybe I am not as interested as I ought to be, but I never was much of a politician and because I have always felt that politics was for men, and we women's places were in the homes. That's the way it used to be. Women used to never work out too much. They stayed at home and managed what the husband earned.


MRS. NEWMAN: Now, my husband died. This is the children's father. And I had remarried. . Mr. Newman is my second husband.

MR. NETHER: Was it during the 1930s that you remarried him?

MRS. NEWMAN: Yeah. Be about 30 years ago, and he has passed away. He's been gone 13 years.

MR. NETHER: Do you remember the effect that World War II had on Douglas County? Were many black people here involved in the war? Do you remember the draft coming out and many blacks having to sign up and go?

MRS. NEWMAN: Oh, yes. Yes.

MR. NETHER: Did they seem pretty happy or enthusiastic to go to a war when here at home many blacks were being lynched, segregation and so on?

MRS. NEWMAN: I don't think they was too happy about going because, going to war, you go to fight, you don't know whether you are going to get back or not. I don't think they was too happy about it. There might have been some anxious to go, but I don't think too many.

MR. NETHER: Did you hear much about black deserters?


MR. NETHER: People that would go to war and leave?

MRS. NEWMAN: No, I never. They went on and did their part.

MR. NETHER: Was it any certain place that most of the blacks here went for their basic training?

MRS. NEWMAN: You mean here in Lawrence?

MR. NETHER: Did it seem like if somebody down the road had just got drafted when they went to take their basic, did they go to any specific place?

MRS. NEWMAN: Ft. Riley was headquarters.

MR. NETHER: So many of them possibly could have gone to Ft. Riley?


MR. NETHER: What was going on here at home? Were there many volunteer groups that came about because of the war? Say some community people that got together in order to help the black troops overseas?

MRS. NEWMAN: Tell you the truth, they didn't have much to do with. Money was really something that was almost a thing of the past, but they just hadn't hardly had nothing to do with.

MR. NETHER: Were more people employed during World War II than during the Depression?

MRS. NEWMAN: They had men that worked on the railroad. There was a good many worked on the railroad. Some was porters and some was section hands, I guess that's what they called them, didn't they? They worked as section hands.

MR. NETHER: Do you remember Bishop Gregg?

MRS. NEWMAN: Vaguely, yes. He was the Methodist Bishop, wasn't he? Yes, just vaguely remember him.

MR. NETHER: Because he lived in north Lawrence too for a while.

MRS. NEWMAN: I wasn't here at that time.

MR. NETHER: Did your children attend school in north Lawrence?

MRS. NEWMAN: Yes, they did, until they reached high school, then they came over here.

MR. NETHER: Did they attend the old Lincoln School?

MRS. NEWMAN: No. I guess you would call it the new Lincoln—it's old now. It really is. I guess it's—the school is—I bet it's over 60 years old now because we came here to visit one time, they was building on that school. We hadn't even moved here yet. I don't exactly know how old that school is, but that's the school they attended.

MR. NETHER: Did they have a PTA?


MR. NETHER: They did?


MR. NETHER: What was it like? Was it a good organization? Did they do a lot to help the children?

MRS. NEWMAN: Oh, I thought they did. But so many of the parents didn't attend it like I thought they should, and I think that's an organization the parents should attend because your child is involved. I really do.

MR. NETHER: Can you remember any people that were actively involved with the PTA?

MRS. NEWMAN: Oh, about everybody I know, I'm telling you the truth, are gone, are dead.

MR. NETHER: What occupations mostly did these women have? Were they just housewives?

MRS. NEWMAN: Mrs. Moore, do you remember her? She was one of the patrons. I was just trying to think. Seemed like they just about all gone that existed at that time.

MR. NETHER: Who was the principal, the first principal of Lincoln School?

MRS. NEWMAN: I believe Mrs. Webster, as near as I can remember, Lillian Webster.

MR. NETHER: Did they have all black teachers in the school?


MR. NETHER: Okay. What grades did they go up to?

MRS. NEWMAN: Through the eighth.

MR. NETHER: Eight grades?


MR. NETHER: After you left the eighth grade, what school did you attend?

MRS. NEWMAN: They came over here.

MR. NETHER: Went to high school?


MR. NETHER: Did they learn any black history in—

MRS. NEWMAN: Yeah, they had some, I think they had—not too much, but I think they had some.

MR. NETHER: Were all the teachers black?

MRS. NEWMAN: Yeah, over there at Lincoln.

MR. NETHER: Approximately how many of them were there? How many black teachers did they have over at Lincoln?

MRS. NEWMAN: You mean at different times or at one time?

MR. NETHER: The most at any one time.

MRS. NEWMAN: I think about three.

MR. NETHER: In Lincoln School?

MRS. NEWMAN: I believe that's right. I think they had three at that time.

MR. NETHER: Where did the white kids go to school?

MRS. NEWMAN: This was called Woodlawn, and Woodlawn School is in north Lawrence and that was on at that time on Perry Street in north Lawrence, and then they build a new Woodlawn and that's on Locust.

MR. NETHER: Were your children enthusiastic when they had found out that they would now be going to an integrated school after they completed the eighth grade?

MRS. NEWMAN: No, because my children—when we lived on the north side, the white people that lived over there, they always had played together and they just really didn't make much difference and the ones that was going—they were just glad that they was all going to be coming over on this side to go to school. They had all played together and it just hadn't made any difference. The boys had played ball and all that with the white kids. White and colored all played together over there.

MR. NETHER: Can you remember maybe one of your children coming up to you and asking a question, why did they have to go to an all-black school while their friends would go to an all-white school?

MRS. NEWMAN: No, they never seemed to mind.

MR. NETHER: Mrs. Newman, how do you sum up Douglas County? You think it's a good place for someone to live? Would you want your children to live here?

MRS. NEWMAN: My children was all here till they was grown and they liked Lawrence; they really did.

MR. NETHER: But you don't think that your children should maybe go somewhere else? Do you think Lawrence is a good safe place for them to live?

MRS. NEWMAN: I don't think any place is safe any more. That's what the Bible says, really. That's right. Said the time would come when there would be no more peace and you can't find it, that's right, and you read in the papers, you see that tells us something, that it's every place unrest, I guess you call it, isn't it? It is every place.


MRS. NEWMAN: I have a son in Chicago, but he says lot of times—I think I will come out, you know, this violence, but we have violence here. It's not on as big a scale as it is in the bigger towns, but they have it, we have it. Plenty things going on and there's lots of things going on we don't even know about.

MR. NETHER: Do you see any major changes that have taken place in Douglas County?

MRS. NEWMAN: Like what, now?

MR. NETHER: Is there a big difference in the school systems? Is there a big difference in the fact that black and white maybe get along better now than they used to?

MRS. NEWMAN: I don't know. I can't answer that. When I had children in school I kind of kept up with it, but I really don't know how they get along now. I really don't.

MR. NETHER: Do you think blacks and whites got along better here in Lawrence than they did in Wichita when you were living there?

MRS. NEWMAN: Oh, I can't answer that one either because really I don't know. Because there was segregation every place then, it really was. Of course, my kids was all small there. When we moved here, my oldest boy had just gone to school one year there.

MR. NETHER: Did you ever know anyone on welfare when you first came here, someone that had to get government assistance?

MRS. NEWMAN: Oh, yes. There was plenty of people on welfare. I never did get on it. Seemed like I never could get on it. Everybody got on but me.

MR. NETHER: Do you think these people were ashamed to be on welfare? Were they happy to be on welfare?

MRS. NEWMAN: I don't know. I wouldn't have been if I could have got on it. I really wouldn't. There was people on it, there really was.

MR. NETHER: Did you know when most of them did get on it? Was it during the Depression?

MRS. NEWMAN: Yes, I think it was along in there, when I worked.

MR. NETHER: During the Depression?

MRS. NEWMAN: 365 days, I worked out of the year, that's right. Because you see my husband died and then I really had to go to work.

MR. NETHER: Did you ever leave town? Did you ever go to Kansas City or Topeka?

MRS. NEWMAN: What do you mean?

MR. NETHER: Well, maybe to visit or to socialize, business?

MRS. NEWMAN: My sister, as I was telling you that lived here, she later—they all moved to TopekMRS. NEWMAN: They all moved—they used to go quite often to Topeka.

MR. NETHER: How could you compare Topeka with Lawrence?

MRS. NEWMAN: You mean at that time?

MR. NETHER: At that time.

MRS. NEWMAN: I didn't pay too much attention because I wasn't there that long. I would just go in to visit and we would just visit and then I would come back home, and so I just enjoyed it while I was there. I still have relatives there and I still go sometime. I don't go as often as I used to. Then, I have two daughters that live in Kansas City, Missouri. I don't get there as often as I used to. I say they have to come with me now. My going days are about over.

MR. NETHER: Mrs. Newman, can you remember any celebrities that lived in Lawrence or were born in Lawrence, somebody that left here and went out and made a name for themselves? Do you remember Langston Hughes?

MRS. NEWMAN: I remember Langston Hughes. I think I have a book he wrote. And I think I have that book if the children didn't take it. And sometimes, they take the books, and I want them to have them because I like for them to read.

MR. NETHER: I am trying to think if Becky used that for black history class.

MRS. NEWMAN: Did you ever talk to Charlie Shepard?

MR. NETHER: Charlie Shepard?

MRS. NEWMAN: Charlie Shepard in north Lawrence. Why don't you take his name? Now, he could give you a lot of history. Yes, he made real good after he finished on the Hill here. What was Charlie? I can't even remember what Charlie, I can't remember what field he was in now. Isn't this something? But anyway, Charlie went to the South. He went south, and then he finally came back to Lawrence, him and his wife, moved back here, and he taught on the Hill. Charlie did real well. I bet he could tell you lots.

MR. NETHER: I called him and he didn't think he could tell me too much.

MRS. NEWMAN: Oh, he didn't?

MR. NETHER: But he told me that after I had got rolling to give him a call back, and he would come in and talk to me. He was one of the first that I got in contact with.

MRS. NEWMAN: Yeah. I bet he could tell you more than you think he could. He's full of it. There was quite a few of them and his father was a gardener too, and he had lot of land and they was kind of wealthy folks, some of them. Now, you take them like the Shepards and the Rodgers. I just told you he was the one that had the irrigation and people like that, they really was looked up at.

MR. NETHER: Do you remember any black businesses here in Douglas County when you first came?

MRS. NEWMAN: Yes. They had some eating places.

MR. NETHER: Where were they located mostly?

MRS. NEWMAN: Kind of along there on Massachusetts Street.

MR. NETHER: And whites and blacks would go in it?

MRS. NEWMAN: Yes. Mr. Bivens had a place. I believe his place was right in there—now, First National Bank, that's on Ninth, ain't it? Isn't that Ninth? Well, now, this is Eighth Street around right there where the Round Corner Drug, he was right across the street right about in the middle ways of that block. That's just right off of Massachusetts Street.

MR. NETHER: His name was Bivens?

MRS. NEWMAN: Bivens.

MR. NETHER: What kind of business was this?

MRS. NEWMAN: He ran a restaurant.


MRS. NEWMAN: My daughter worked for him. Had a nice business.

MR. NETHER: What kind of food did he serve?

MRS. NEWMAN: He served full meals at noon.

MR. NETHER: Anything you wanted?

MRS. NEWMAN: But you could have bacon and eggs for breakfast if you wanted your breakfast, but he served a full meal at noon.

MR. NETHER: Were there any—

MRS. NEWMAN: Good meals, yes, meat and potatoes and cabbage and beans and corn and all of that.

MR. NETHER: Were there any other black businesses, Mrs. Newman?

MRS. NEWMAN: There was a pool hall and a barber shop. I can't remember that man. What was his name that ran the pool hall? I can't remember—they are both dead now. All dead. Jimmy Jackson had a barber shop and what is that man? I can't think of his name that ran the pool hall. Then there was an old gentleman, he was a shoe cobbler. He half soled your shoes. Looked like it was for the same foot, but he got it done. We had this old fellow--he was a white fellow, he was a shoe cobbler that lived in north Lawrence, too, he was awfully crippled and his name was Snap. It was the same thing. He got them half soled. You could wear them on either foot because you couldn't tell the difference.

MR. NETHER: How far did south Lawrence go to? If you went this way down toward Twenty-third, how far would you have to go before you would be in the country?

MRS. NEWMAN: I don't know. I don't get to see Lawrence any more. I don't even know where the country starts any more, really, because as far as east as west and north, I mean, and south, there's homes, and I think some day Topeka—we of course won't live to see it—will meet Lawrence, I think Lawrence and Topeka will meet some day because Lawrence is going west very fast and lots of new homes and the woman that lived on the street where I am living, on Missouri Street, she was a little girl, she was reared there. She's passed away now and she had told me many times, you see all the houses on the west side where I live, in that block, you seen all of that, well that was a dirt road and there wasn't a house over there. She lived bout the third door down, and she said—they graze their cows and all of the people did, just take the cows and all, it was a pasture. Wasn't any houses over there at all, and just a dirt road. They said the kids just run up and down the road barefooted and played, and you never thought there would ever be a house over there, but that's where it started and just kept going on out.

MR. NETHER: Do you remember Gleeds?

MRS. NEWMAN: Yes. The Gleeds were poultry people. They sold poultry.


MRS. NEWMAN: The Gleeds and let me see, there was another man that had a cleaner too, establishment, Panatorium Brown. He taken his life, didn't he, jumped over the river, the bridge.

MR. NETHER: There was another one, Hart, you remember Alan Hart, I think it is?


MR. NETHER: Alan Hart, or something? It's on this tape with Mrs. Reeves. Somebody else, she told about a black that was involved in the cleaning business too. I just recall Alan Hart.

MRS. NEWMAN: I am probably not recalling them all. I may not be naming them all at all because my mind don't always work like I want it to. And they had a rooming house. What is that street off of Massachusetts Street going west? Is that Vermont? There was a rooming house over there, Scotts ran that, and then later we had an undertaker, came in before Bowser. I believe we had two undertakers before we had Bowser.

MR. NETHER: Do you remember the name of the undertakers?

MRS. NEWMAN: That's the reason I didn't say the name because I couldn't even remember.

MR. NETHER: That's a lot to ask. Don't worry too much about it.

MRS. NEWMAN: I ought to remember though. When I get home, it will come to me. You know, you always can remember things when you shouldn't and the things you should you don't.

MR. NETHER: Mrs. Newman, is there anything now? I have asked you quite a few questions. Is there any questions you would like to ask me or something you would like to add that you think we might be able to use to assess the black history of Douglas County? Maybe an incident happened in your life, you know a good story that related to blacks here or just kind of your own personal opinion of what it was like to live here in Douglas County.

MRS. NEWMAN: No, I don't really. I really have enjoyed living here because I haven't had any great problems except in trying to make a living when the children were small. I have always liked living here and I really liked the schools and children didn't get anything but high school. They never got to college; neither did their mother.

MR. NETHER: Did you ever go out in the county at any time? You ever go like to Eudora or Baldwin, Vinland, or Lecompton?

MRS. NEWMAN: What do you mean, to visit or something?

MR. NETHER: Visit.

MRS. NEWMAN: I have been to Baldwin lot of times. I had a friend that lives down in Baldwin now.

MR. NETHER: What was it like? How could you compare Baldwin to Lawrence?

MRS. NEWMAN: Baldwin is a university town, and it's a nice little town. I always thought it was.

MR. NETHER: Were there many black people living in Baldwin?

MRS. NEWMAN: At one time there was quite a little handful, I will say, because Baldwin is small and there wasn't too much for them to do and I think the women that lived there, the families, I think they cooked at the fraternity and for sorority houses there. They had always done that. And there's this one woman, her husband died, and I think she still cooks at one of the fraternities there.

MR. NETHER: What about Bloominton? Have you ever heard of that?

MRS. NEWMAN: No. I have been there, I guess, but I never knew anyone.


MRS. NEWMAN: Eudora. I have been to Eudora. We used to go down there, get our fortunes told.

MR. NETHER: Were there many black people in Eudora?

MRS. NEWMAN: Oh, yes. Quite a few in Eudora at one time, but there are not too many now.

MR. NETHER: How did Eudora differ from Lawrence?

MRS. NEWMAN: It's a smaller town and it's a nice little town, I thought. I always liked to go there to visit.

MR. NETHER: Was there segregation in like Baldwin and Eudora?

MRS. NEWMAN: I don't believe the smaller towns do. I never did. I always felt about—when you lived in the country, you see when I was reared, excuse me, I was reared in the country as a girl, brought up in the country, but nobody—we played, we didn't—we went to mixed schools when we lived in Oklahoma, and we never went to colored school, where they had colored teachers for a long time. All our first years, two or three years in school, was mixed and that's why I could never figure out why it was so hard down south, how they would— they were just disturbing so much peace down there over the segregation, and we just running and playing and had the best time with the white children. When it came time to eat our lunches, why we would all sit down together at school then and exchange food. Somebody have a cookie, you have a donut--oh, give me a donut. I will trade you for a cookie, and we just had the best time. Really, that's the truth. And farmers would help each others.

My mother—I think I told you my father died when I was two years old and my mother reared all eight of us and on this farm where my father died of pneumonia. But the white people, I ain't going to say a word because now they were mighty nice to us. That's the truth. And this is how my mother made her living, was through the white people. That's right. If a mother was going to be confined, expecting mother, they would engage her. She would go over and take over the housework—everything—washing, ironing, cooking, and cleaning. Just take over, until that mother was able to get up and go on about her household duties.

There would be another one engaging my mother. We are going to butcher, Mrs. Gray. Can you come and help us? My mother would help and she would butcher, help them work up the lard and sausage, and they stuffed them and smoked them hams. And was they ever good. And she would go that and in harvest time my mother followed that up. This one would want her to cook for the harvest hands, and she would cook for the harvest hands and on till harvest was over. Then there would always be something coming up all the time that kept her employed. The farmers was the ones, the white farmers, that helped my brothers, my older brothers, on this farm because we had nothing to work with. My father died early and he just hadn't ever got started. He just hardly got there before he passed. And but that was how it all happened.

MR. NETHER: Would the farmers come over and help you family plow?

MRS. NEWMAN: Help, they would plow, yes. They would plow and just help out. Anything they could do, just good about it, and where we was reared up, it was just like that, and we went to mixed school. We didn't know the difference. It didn't make any difference to them evidently. Nobody said anything. Really, that's a fact. And then that's why I couldn't understand why segregation was so hard to break down and I said when I think about how we came up that's right.

MR. NETHER: In Oklahoma?

MRS. NEWMAN: That's right. And kids played ball at recess and jumped rope and, oh, I tell you, we really enjoyed it. We really did. We didn't know the difference. That's right.

MR. NETHER: Okay. That's good.

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