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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
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UL 1;A Transcribed 12/3/76 C.H.R.
Interviewer: Lew Barton
Subject: Bertha Oxendine, qij Locklear
B: a taB .we have here at this point a young lady who has kindly consented to
sit down and talk to us. 1S; this is the American Indian Oral History Program,
dn would you mind telling us your age?
0: Q6 forty-two.
B:i fVWwr, I meant to ask you your name, ()sorry.
0: Bertha Oxendine.
B: Bertha Oxendine.
0: Yes. And (I)married to Clayton Oxendine.
B: THa o'" w How many children do you have?
0: Four. Got one at home, goes to school. Thirteen years old.
B: Uhhuhk. Sounds like a nice family. Would you mind telling us the names and ages?
0: wl the baby is thirteen years ofd, and I got one seventeen, she don't live at
home, she's,married, all of them's married but the one. And I got a girl she lives
in Virginia, she's married to a guy in the Ai bfore. She works for the government.
And the oldest bo he lives out in Riverdale, A they have two children, a boy and
B: -trari. What are their names?
0: And he's named ay, the oldest one and i. he's about twenty-three, (id <1 the
other girl's twenty-one the one seventeen, the boy thirteen.
^^~k;-------I-. 1.`-~`~- ___..___,-I- ".... ..,.. .----------------_
0: And one of them's named Peggety on the girl, the other one Darlene, and 1 they
all married people from here.
B: h-.lah. They all married ey - f '> .
0: pdg_____yea, all of them's rried here. Wilbur was raised here, Albert the oldest
boy, he was about eight years old when I came here, I guess, and vt I been here
ZMar.3_about twenty-three years, and...
B: Well, this is like home, then, isn't it?
I p g l H'-- \wIe Kn reC & ._ab o u t
OL Yes, like home. I like it here, and I'n goring-to:live in--hee=about-tnw about
i2' thirteen years.
0: ApF And my husband works at the box factory, and I used to woEk at Loe_
'- C \i._5 and I got sick and so I haven't worked in a long time i, T-
B: Ubehh. Well that s d sounds like yurequite comfortable. Had you rather
live here than back in Carolina?
0: YeA, well I been here so long, see it just feels like home to me now, and when I
go down for a week of two I'm ready to come back. Ai.ga y-
B: Do you want to go once in a while?
0: Yeah, I go back twice a year,\'4ause my mother's living and I go down to be with
0: And I got a couple of sisters there adI got a sister here, and I I-fadid have two
brothers here but one of them left and went back for a while, so I got an older
brother here, -mo'r and my baby sister lives here too. And I know '
a lot of people, got a lot of friends and all.
B: Tha 's ce. In other wo ds you made a new life for yourself.
B: In a different part of the country.
B: And you came here because E5ia you get better work opportunities.
0: Yeai, better working and everything.
B: TfirE You know, I came over to Baltimore a just before World War Bt started.
B: At that time there were only three Indians here that I knew atmt, that was...
ArcireLo LflPG.r Or\ A LuCJ r---
B: ...myself, Andy Russler n)t eoi awe They were working the Bethlehem fE
0: Were they?
B: ...the shipbuilding company, I think it wa. %,V but they certainly have increased
0: Oh, yea, B- a lot of them here now. 4Vmbn.
B: Would you go any idea how many of our people are here?
0: No I don' ,I -:z ll o'. I mean I just started coming down here for 4Ah)past
year now, I mean I herd about the placeyand everything and I knew some of the
people and they started asking me to come down so I started coming down. And all
-them@ai like to come down here now, my son he comes down here too. 1TI-kes.to
eome and, a man that I knew, the Indian, I think he was from Oklahoma, someplace,
Tar, was called Duk,...
0: ij.y? And he started making stuff down here, wallets and shoes and beads and
stuff, and my friend used to come down and everything, an) I come down here and he
married my next-door neighbor CO! c. r L but he died'I guess he been
dead about four or five year, now.
0: And he was from Oklahoma d he started doing things down here andsri and he
would tell me about the place and all, he asked me to come down so I started coming
down then but after he di6d I didn't know that many people.
"Bt So I r&i as far as the places down here and the people, I mean they try to stick
together to help one another and this and that so...
B: Do you feel that it's, been a disadvantage being an Indian and-d-54 living here
0: No I don't.
B: VQaErb People treat you nice.'
0: YeiM, they treat me nice.
O: All of them. I never had no trouble, nothing_- m tg I i'4 a race problem
or anything like that.
-==ettVa__rhad-no -tiom a.
B: Yh know they say no news is good news.
0: "S tight.
B: Where do you go to church?
0: Well, I o to < preacher Jame's church, twelftt street, when I go. I don't go
every Sunday, my f-eI d goes every SAnda3X ,, I'm a member of Baltimore and Iesr
street, the church over there.
B: m9rt k What's the name of this church?
0: It's a methodist church?
0: 92hAnd wkmrL- ,o .ir m that's where the kids is
members at and everything, over there too. And %& I just started going over to
his church, Preacher James' church, for the past year. Something like that.
B: Well, St, everybody seems to e happy over there, don't they?
0: Yes, I enjoy going over there. I like rtaetPne there. My son he likes to go there
BB: You think the Indian community is closer together than most communities?
0: Well, in a way I do, EI'J1 e I think so.
B: rfa= say if I would come over here and I needed help p somewhere, ''d probably
be able toe.
0: That's what I say. I think you would cause...
B: I hope I w6n't have to put it to the test but I..
0: No, but I mean, because I needed some help, I needed a couple favors from some
of them over here so I came over and they helped me. uh. /bcL^- SOrv--
Z'," \ '< f and they helped me out.
B: Etib I guess you're) talking about the American Indian Studies center program
C f^~ "^\f ---~
0: Yef l'Amisa /Right Over here. Fif4 So Oth I think they all pull together
pretty good, myself.
B: N mm;4. Th s)good.& hta-Ia- you what kind of work does your husband do?
0: He's a bL"- operator in a box factory where they make boxes.
B: ItzrIb What kind of job odo our Indian people usually work at dcQ do you
have a lot of carpenters, and painters and...
0: Well, I-hear tell of f a lot'painters but not that many carpenters. I mean,
n>5BG==q I don't know that mich about their jobs and anything like that,\/cause
EZeMiI hardly ever Irn any of them about their jobs.
0: But 'RP the most of the onesI know 'lot of them work at fairpoint, Chevrolet,
and 0# ;some of them paint. Most of the ones that I know.
B: VtBFRai Now what address do you live on?
0: At 129 Soutlr-Woolf.
B: That's W-o-l-ha ,,
y- Prcc-- 1' r
0: Viid. Right off of zh-street, between l.ir 1d.i d- Wolf.
B: hlaL. Do our young people usually marry people from back home or usually marry
up in here.
0: Well, most of them marry here because, I mean when you come here when you're small,
*x Stmm, you grow up with the kids you go to school with and stuff like that.'
0: And most of them I think they marry somebody from here. Because my daughter, 4SS
49* this is the first school she ever went to was on street over
there Between Orlean and Fairmont Avenue, that big #quar&e And that's the first
school she ever went to) so, the boy that she married he went to school there toQ
so they finished hig school together, they finished twelf)t grade together, and
both of them was gmia get in the Air Forc so tt after he went in.she changed her
mind so she 054 waited until he went over and got his training and all and then
they got married. And they had a big wedding& e, r -C,
B: Church wedding?
0: 89 Ama hurch wading. st my son did too.
0: He had a big wedding.
B: Do you evemae weddings over at the bh ,as cbata- t Baptist church?
0: I think they had one over there as far as I know.
0: They had a wedding over there, but my kids they got married at this church over on
Baltimore E, street.
0: That's where they got married, and we rented the Polish Home Hall, in Polish
_. One of them married a guy from Poland, he can't speak English
too go d, but she can speak Polish, she went to school for that and she speaks
B: Hey, that'sgooc tT Sgsa < .
0: SS. An so they got one child so they speak Plish and English, an I think it's
nice to speak a couple languages ,-roa=k;nr sometimes.
B: Oh, ye i
0: So M= my oldest daughter, she might take up some lessons because %ti she
worksf/r the government and she has a lot of time on her hands too, Vcause she
don't have any kids, and he's expect g to be sent to Germany.
t. .... .-.. .... .... ..
0: So she's taken up a little bit, -jie so she would know 1vwoQ to speak some German
maybe if they do get shipped there. Vause he was just from JeL r Delaware
here, so he's stationed out at Andrews Air Base, now. And CQ4 he put in for Germany
as his -:next place if he would have to go to be in any part of, so he put in to go
0: So I think it would be nice.
B: Oh yeea. German's a very hard language to learn for me, I dbQt..
0: Yeah-, I guess so.
B: If you live among people who speak German that --tmavbe different, I guess.
I had to study a fo ghn language when I was doing my graduate work a t the
B: chose French because I figured it was easier than German.
B: And that wasn't asy.
U: basirr -T4 T-1~ 1
B: %-iE -t il t T you know we were raised or reared&;Q a
certain way bac$ home, our parents were pretty strict and that sort of thingO
do you thinktp the Indians over here have a tendency to fBf keep the same customs
and ways of doing things?
0: I think they should raise th ir kids right. But I mean when we *as growing up Sfft
if we went out with boys usually your parents would have somebody with you e=a
1mww older than yourself or something like that. -
i -"- -- ""
0: But my father was a preacher. So I got to go around a lot to meet people because
I would b with him. Church, and different places he would be invited to, he was
a pastor in Suth Carolin
-6in^ ----_^.--- -
0: And t1-), so I think it's .f nice to kinda raise your kids strict, cause I do my
boy, because if he's out any place, I know where he's at. If he's out, he always
has a dime to call me up to let me know if he's gonna be(31e or something likV h
and he don't Sr '( fnd if he's ever been on any drugs or anything I don't
know nothing about it I-a -mhe, I'm trying ) raise him like I was, and I
think he's a very nice boy
0: I think people should A'* know where their kids is 9W at night.
0: And gP a- -re aes about these schools and things, yamjajjgif people knew where
they kids i at there wouldn't be as much trouble ymrafSgS- in the bottom of taking
things and stuff like that. But i my boy were to come home with something and I
didn't know where he got it at, and he was to tell me, 0! me and him would get in
the car and take it right back where he got it at and I'd make him apologize for
0: Because that's the way I feel about it and that's the way I'm trying to raise him.
0: Dause he's the only one I have at home now and if something was to happen to him
I would really miss himi cause me and him's so close together and everything ya=L.
B: Yes S
0: So I think they should be raised realty strict.
B: Well, he's sort of a momma's boy, isn't he?
0: ng) not really PtsBan, if he's out he knows if he don't tell me where he's at
he knows he'il be punished when he do get home.
0: Because he's all the boy that I have and he pretty well gets everything he needs,
5aYaB5M# and about everything he wants. He works a little bit d
a week he works nine to eleven and he makes two dollars an hour, so he gets paid
once a week and sometime he has about-fifEy dollars, so he'll get paid tomorrow
night. And that's his money, plus I giue him ten dollars a week but he saves
money, he buys his clothes-..
0: ...with it.
0: So you don't find many boys like that.
B: No, they want to be independent pretty soon...
0: -et. %
B: ...don't they? Did-1 y f-hing-his_-O. how old did you say he was?
0: ThirteenQ; nE- -
0: But he's a full-size grown man in looks. He looks like a twenty-one year old
boy. Maybe you'll get to meet him if he comes down tomorrow evening maybe.
B: Oh, yea, I Like -to very much.
0: I'll have him to meet you. But my husband won't get to come because he'll be
working, and so he won't get to come down. And my oldest son will be here tomorrow,
)YJrcause we gonna stop by to meet fri / but I called him up and told him to come
by and stop down to meet Bertha.
0: And then we gonna do some shopping and I'll be a_ _tomorrow
B: do you help out An the cooking when their cooking to do an all?
0: No, not that much because. I don't know, I just come down and help out if
they need me. But they be so many other women, the sisters of the church and
all, so they just, you know, mostlyfpi'ck the ones tht they want to
pick I guess, but if they need anything i^ -=aaiaL I come down and help.
B: Well, that's rice. that spirit of helpfulness, we find it all over the Indian
community don't we?
B: What is there special about Indian women's cooking? Th .j-r ?
0: I really don't know. I guess a lot of it we inherited it from out mothers.
B: Ye&, well, Indian mothers were always good cooks.
0: Well, yeh, and my son-in-law, he really, loves everything I fix, he's all the time
talking about what I cook, you know, he says he gains wei ht from my food.
B: Like collard greens, I guess they sort of grow on you. Back home Betthey were sort
of a staple food. And I learned to love them.
B: And I can get up in the morning and eat my collard greens if I can get them.
0: Well, my son-in-law had never eaten no collard greens utilt he married my daughter.
B: Ia tat right.
0: And he started eating collard greens. He loves collard greens.
B: Is that right?
B: They sort of grew on him too.
0: YeV, he loves collard greens.
B: Well, (-)e ever gone into a cafe' or restaurant & where they serve collard
greens and they tasted good.
0: No, they don't taste like we cook them, you know.
B: S1%k-,h, the women back home, Indian women, the way they cook them is that, I think
its' the seasoning maybe they use...
B: ...YiA) think maybe th t's-t?
0: I think that's it.
B: ft I think in these cafe's and rekaurants they mostly just throw mem into water
and boivthem a little bit.
0: garhMb. Yeah.
BO Put aiAtle salt, black pepper on it, and that's it.
0: That's it.
8: But R4E we usually like a big ol' hunk of pork...
B: In there somewhere. And S you can fry them and th re good. If you get tired of
eating fried ones, you can, you can bCoil' them.
Of You can boil them. I love tham-e. inPie. r
B: But the brailded ones are the best of all, aren't they?
0: Yea, I love them!
B: But they take longer. Wonder why that is?
0: I don't know but it takes longer to boil them you know that it is to fry them
but I like t1e both ways but I like btoilld collard greens like better -SSSSw,
B: Well, do you think we eat too much pork?
0: Well, I really don't eat that much pork myselfgy5ar, I like to season with a
little pork but, just to-ags sit down and eat a pork meal, that's something we
hardly have is pork, we have more steak and chicken than anything else. And ground
beef, of course, that's what they like and that's what usually I fix but I always
fix the vegetables, corn or stripe beans, stuff like that, cabbage.
B: Have you ever compared the food prices back home and the food prices here?
0: Well, not really, because I don't go down there that much, see, and so I don't
really ak do that.
B: 4 1fCTea att-od-prices-ate- atsu. I'veeen having to buy some groceries my-
self, being an. unhappy bachelor.
B: But I noticed that food prices here art lower that back home in Carolina.
0: fa-br I haven't checked the prices there.
B: But that'll come as a surprise but V they are. The variety of the food in this
part of the country is broader, better.\
B: S1 a r you can buy just about anything you need.
B: Your vasxty is more limited back home, t'snot just among Indian communities,
but all over.
0: 1i;m Ye*h.
B: WSBM3E sBB you don'tjever plan to move back home?
0: Well, not offhand, I really haven't thought about it much. I only have the boy
here with me nowso after he gets married or gdo!in the service or something, I
get older maybe I will, 6tause we own a home and a tract of land back there.
B: UaEIErh yc ,.
0: So a&...
B: Y*u still say back home?
0: Yer, I say back home.
B: Everybody says that but...
0: Yea, mostly. trhutb. Most everybody says back home.
B: Wonder i4 people in Baltimore feel resentful that we still think so highly of
O: Well... I e rd n )
B: M just as we were running out of tape I was asking you did you think that people
sometimes felt resentful because 'iatwe are attached to "back home".
0: Yes, sir, I think so, some of them.
B: Well I knew you already told me you're n a hurry to o and everything,-yvawe
somebody's probably meeting you%to help them do something, but I want you to know
how much I enjoyed his interview, and you were very kind to give us this time
we appreciate pn very, very much.
C Z, 4
0: Yei 2Y thanks a lot. for letting me talk...I'm glad I got to say something.
B: Right. Sa-_ou did fine.
0: Yes, % I'm in a little hurry anyway, my.boy be home and I didn't leaW a note
JhAfie was out or anything for him. we always leave a note like if I'm not
going to be home I'll leave a note on the telephone, and he'll know why I'm not
and he can always call me.
0: So I didn't leave a note t,4t I would be here nad so I'm gonna go home anyway
fix supper and I'm coming back.
B: Well, thank you so very much and good luck to you now.
0: YeAh, same to you.