Interview with Morris and Altha Thompson, 2014 July 17

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Interview with Morris and Altha Thompson, 2014 July 17
Thompson, Morris ( Interviewee )
Thompson, Altha ( Interviewee )
Taylor, Jessica ( Interviewer )
Samuel Proctor Oral History Program
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Oral history interview


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Tidewater Main Street Development Project
Spatial Coverage:
United States of America -- Virginia -- Mathews


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UF Samuel Proctor Oral History Program
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UF Samuel Proctor Oral History Program
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TMP 042 Morris and Altha Thompson 7-17-2014 ( SPOHP )


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The Foundation for The Gator Nation An Equal Opportunity Institution Samuel Proctor Oral History Program College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Program Director : Dr. Paul Ortiz Office Manager : Tamarra Jenkins 241 Pugh Hall Digital Humanities Coordinator : Deborah Hendrix PO Box 115215 Gainesville, FL 32611 352 392 7168 35 2 846 1983 Fax The Samuel Proctor Oral History Program (SPOHP) was founded by Dr. Samuel Proctor at the University of Florida in 1967. Its original projects were collections centered around Florida history with the purpose of preserving eyewitness acc ounts of economic, social, political, religious and intellectual life in Florida and the South. In the 45 years since its inception, SPOHP has collected over 5,000 interviews in its archives. Transcribed interviews are available through SPOHP for use by research scholars, students, journalists, and other interested groups. Material is frequently used for theses, dissertations, articles, books, documentaries, museum displays, and a variety of other public uses. As standard oral history practice dictates, S POHP recommends that researchers refer to both the transcript and audio of an interview when conducting their work. A selection of interviews are available online here through the UF Digital Collections and the UF Smathers Library system. Suggested corrections to transcripts will be reviewed and processed on a case by case basis. Oral history int erview t ranscripts available on the UF Digital Collections may be in draft or final format. SPOHP transcribers create interview transcripts by listen ing to the ori ginal oral history interview recording and typing a verbatim d ocument of it. The transcript i s written with careful attention to reflect original grammar and word choice of each interviewee; s ubjective or editorial changes are not made to their speech. The draft trans cript can also later undergo a final edit to ensure accuracy in spelling and form at I nterviewees can also provide their own spelli ng corrections SPOHP transcribers refer to the Merriam program specific transcribing style guide, accessible For more information abo ut SPOHP, visit or call the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program office at 352 392 7168. May 2015


TMP 042 Interviewee: Morris and Altha Thompson Interviewer: Jessica Taylor Date: July 17, 2014 JT: This is Jessica Taylor interviewing Morris E. Thompson and Altha Thompson on July 17, 2014 at 12:15 P.M. Mrs. Thompson, can you please state your full name? AT: Altha M. Thompson. JT: Okay. And when were you born? AT: 1923. JT: Okay. AT: ninety one. MT: AT: one. JT: Oh, okay, congratulations! Where were you born? AT: Right here in Blakes, Virginia. JT: Is this your family home? AT: hm. JT: And you, sir? Can you plea se state your full name? MT: Morris E. Thompson. JT: And when were you born? MT: I was born in May 1956.


TMP 042; Thompson; Page 2 JT: Okay. MT: Yeah. JT: And where were you born? MT: Right here. JT: Okay. AT: [Laughter] MT: Right here in this house. AT: The first one I had. MT: Right. AT: I had five children, and he was the last one, and the first one born in this house. JT: Oh, wow. Wow. AT: Mm hm. [Laughter] JT: do for a living? AT: What kind of work you call that? He used to work on well, on farms for other people. MT: Yeah. Farmer. JT: Okay. MT: Farm hand.


TMP 042; Thompson; Page 3 AT: My mother kept house. JT: Okay, and what were their names? AT: William Frank Matthias and Neaton Frank Matthias. MT: Neaton, but not F rank. Her middle name was not Frank. AT: No, I said William Frank Matthias. That was my daddy. MT: Right. AT: e a t o n, Matthias. MT: Yeah. JT: Okay. Okay. Can you talk a little bit about growing up in Mathews? AT: Wel on farms, like that. JT: Did you work on farms? AT: JT: Okay. AT: You see, I went out to work when I was fourteen, and I used to work in that w ell, you call it domestic work, I guess. Mm hm. JT: Did your father ever talk about your family history? AT: parents, her uncle raised her.


TMP 042; Thompson; Page 4 MT: He was originally from Gloucester, Virgini a, my grandpa was. AT: Which was my daddy. MT: JT: MT: AT: You know, he was a native of Gloucester. MT: Yeah. JT: Why did he move from Glouces t er? AT: Huh? JT: Why did he move to Mathews from Gloucester? AT: MT: [Laughter] JT: How did he meet your mother? MT: AT: k from Gloucester down here to Cobbs Creek to see her, she always told us. JT: Wow. MT: mile trip. JT: Wow. Wow.


TMP 042; Thompson; Page 5 MT: Now, I could imagine that, at that time AT: He came through the woods. MT: mean, it had to be a shorter cut. Not like the road goes now. But at that time, he probably did come straight across the fields. You was field, not wooded like it is now. JT: Ye ah. MT: Yeah. JT: He must have known the geography really well. AT: Huh? JT: I said, h e must have known the geography really well to come and find her. AT: JT: Did he or your mother ev er talk about what their parents did? AT: and her uncle raised my mother. Her daddy say what her daddy did. JT: Did she say anything about them, any stories or anything like that, that you can remember? AT: Not too much. JT: Okay. What kind of people were your parents?


TMP 042; Thompson; Page 6 AT: JT: I meant character wise. AT: Oh. [Laughter] They were all right. Th ey worked in church and things like that. Mm hm. JT: Where did they go to church? AT: Ebenezer. Mm hm. JT: Okay. MT: My grandfather was a deacon. He was very what would you say? Strong religious beliefs. AT: My daddy, eah, Frank Matt hias. JT: Interesting. AT: A young Frank Matthias. I was a Matthias and I married a Thompson. JT: What do you remember about your grandfather? MT: AT: MT: Yeah. AT: He was a deacon. He could pray, too. MT: See, at this time you had no cars, no, horse.


TMP 042; Thompson; Page 7 AT: We had that. He used to carry us to church about twice a day on Sundays in a horse and wagon. You got up to get a two seat Surrey, they used to call her. top over it, mm hm. JT: MT: More of a coupe. AT: No, one of them was like a coupe, one seat. [Laughter] Then he went to a Surrey; two seats. Seat in front and a seat behind. JT: How long did you have the wagons for? AT: Huh? JT: Did you have the wagons when you were a child? MT: Yeah. AT: In the wagon? Yes, indeed. JT: Where did you go in it? AT: Up here to church. JT: AT: MT: where the people pretty much traveled. AT: Mm hm.


TMP 042; Thompson; Page 8 MT: have black they all have black churches. have to go but so far to accomplish things that they wanted. JT: AT: Yeah. When I was growing up, there was a store and there was a Blakes Post Office, and a store. There was a store up there at we called it the red barn. Those two stores are close together. MT: Yeah. AT: Mm hm. JT: Do you remember anything about them, like what they looked like on the inside? A T: Yeah, they kept groceries, and sometimes they go up to carry clothes like socks, JT: Did your parents shop at one or the other? AT: Oh, yeah. For groceries, we used to go to this one over here most of th e time, up so they JT: What were the store owners like? AT: Store owners? Most of them was white back then. Is that what you mean? JT: What were they like as people, to you?


TMP 042; Thompson; Page 9 AT: They was good to us. Mm hm. MT: On the average they were probably pretty good. AT: Uh MT: I said, on average they were probably pretty good. do yo the white in Mathews. AT: Nuh uh. JT: Okay. MT: Always has been kind of slow. Never been no great big conflict like that. AT: Mm when we first started to the elementary school, there was a family that lived right across the field almost. It was the Sutton family. She had boys and my mother had boys, and she two girls, and my mother had two girls almost the same age. We could wear th e same size clothes. stretch out on the floor and everything. My mama would go in her food and ea t it, and I was wondering why Mama would go in that stove and get the food and eat. white people my Mama, you know way. JT: Yeah, wow. MT: Mm hm.


TMP 042; Thompson; Page 10 JT: AT: Oh no; JT: No. AT: Uh huh. I think the one time that MT: mean? JT: Like they chased the black people off the island. MT: Oh. AT: MT: Well, to a certain degree, yes, they did. AT: Yeah, they did MT: Well, in the beginning, black folks was on the island. AT: Yeah. MT: Because pretty much, when you heard about history and especially the black give black people when slavery was abolished, they did give black people land. this island. So the island was black. And then I guess the white man figured out, well, wait a minute: they got a prime piece o


TMP 042; Thompson; Page 11 there. AT: And too, you see, First Baptist down here, the blacks was over down there went to church. They got tired of that, and they helped them to build First Baptist down here and sent the black people there. MT: AT: Where was that church at? MT: It was right here, right there in Hudgins. Mathews Baptist. AT: That was their church? M T: Mathews Baptist was the main church in the county. AT: MT: Okay. And then the Mathews Baptist was the church that helped the blacks develop the church. AT: To get First Baptist? MT: Yeah, First Baptist. First Baptist happened. JT: Where did you hear that from? I mean, that was before you were born. MT: JT: be?


TMP 042; Thompson; Page 12 AT: MT: Well AT: MT: They showed more prejudice on the island than in any other parts of the county. They did. AT: Than they did in other parts of the county of Mathews. JT: Okay. MT: more or less integrating themselves. So they got to the point where they ith it. JT: Yeah. What was integration like for you, having known a long time of segregation? AT: we stayed with the Negroes and they stayed with the whites. Mm hm. JT: And there w as no violence or anything like that? AT: JT: Okay. AT: My brother [Laughter ] that Monroe and some boys around his age, these black boys used to get them and beat the fool out of them up on this Ridge Road. Catch them down there [Laughter] and beat them and fight them. That was all.


TMP 042; Thompson; Page 13 MT: That was only natural. AT: That was all. But we got along all right. MT: up with yourself. AT: Yeah! MT: So things like that happened. AT: But as a whole, we got along all right up in this community, among the right people. The blacks, in Hallieford and Cobbs Creek and Blakes, we got along all right. Mm hm. JT: Was Mathews Courthouse segregated? AT: No, not to my knowing. JT: Okay. Well, let me ask you about where you went to school. AT: Out here at Blakes School. JT: Blakes School? AT: Uh huh. You see these two houses out here? See that big white house on this side, and see the other one over there? Uh huh. They bought it. MT: AT: Blakes Elementary School, I graduated from at the seventh grade. They bought that school and tore it down. It was two first cousins. They divided that land, and each one of them built a home righ t there.


TMP 042; Thompson; Page 14 MT: AT: MT: Within the communities. Yeah. AT: Mm hm. We had black schools and they had white schools. JT: e, can you help me understand what it looked like? AT: JT: You can just describe it. AT: It was big: two rooms on each side, and then in the center was a middle room, we called it. Mm hm. JT: What was the middle room used for? AT: Well, they just had some kind of little picnics, little plays at different times. And hm. JT: Were there a lot of windows? AT: Oh, yeah, they had little windows now. And each s ide of that big middle room, we they had windows you could look out. And there was a room on each side, and each one had from first grade their primer, then they called it to fourth grade. Then from the fourth grade to the seventh grade on the other side. And I graduated from the seventh grade right there.


TMP 042; Thompson; Page 15 JT: What did your desks look like? Was there any furniture? AT: In the school? Oh yeah, we had desks. Two or three children could sit in one seat and have that desk right in front of them. Not like it is, one seat, now. Mm mm. JT: How did the teachers teach? AT: They had a big desk in front of us, and a chair behind it. They taught and had big blackboards. MT: We were talking about that the other day. AT: Who? MT: to find a blackboard in a school now. AT: No. MT: find that. AT: No, they used blackboards then. MT: Yeah. AT: MT: AT: That was b lackboards with white chalk.


TMP 042; Thompson; Page 16 MT: that, period. AT: MT: No, everything is computer. AT: MT: Right. Like she was saying, there were multiple classes in one room. [Inaudible] When I started school, I started at the black high school where the whole school why they call it Thomas Hunter High School, because it started from the first at first. AT: Yeah. MT: When I went, it was Thomas Hunter High School and I went, like, first through the third grade there. Transferred the fourth grade, because then we had at that time, it still was segregated. Then you had a period of Freedom of Choice, and you go to the school that you wanted to go to. So at that time, I came up here to Cobbs Creek. This was still before in tegration came all the way through. And integration came; then I had to leave Cobbs Creek. I graduated from Cobbs had third and fourth within a classroom; fifth and sixth in a cl assroom. Got to seventh grade, you had a classroom by yourself. One principal


TMP 042; Thompson; Page 17 AT: [Laughter] MT: One principal, secretary, everything, one cafeteria worker. AT: MT: and your auditorium and everything all combined. See? JT: Wow. MT: But that used to be a high school before. . AT: Yeah, Cobbs Creek High School. MT: Years ago, yeah, like I say: al l the communities had schools. After that, t hen everything went to Math ews High School. Mm hm. So that went to the elementary school. Then when they had integration, I graduated from the seventh grade in Cobbs Creek and went back to Thomas Hunter for the first year of integration as an intermediate school. JT: Oh, wow. MT: T hen from there, went to high school. JT: How had Thomas Hunter changed from when you started and when you came back? MT: How had it changed? JT: Yeah. MT:


TMP 042; Thompson; Page 18 AT: Yes it was. MT: It was the better of the two schools. Of the two high schools, it was the better school. But being at the time, being that the white folks had the Mathews High They took the white school and made it the high school. AT: had to come, all of them together. JT: Why was it the better high school? MT: Well, at the time it was more modern then the high school that was locker in the high school. [Laughter] They had the gym auditorium which both schools had gym auditoriums but Thomas Hunter was built with the gym and auditorium sepa rate. I mean, not separate, but Mathews High School the classrooms was built around the gym and the auditorium, so that if you had a ball the bleachers up to the wall. You come o ut the classroom early, see? In the morning you go; you had to push the bleachers back to the center of the room so you can go to your classrooms. Yeah. Thomas Hunter had more of an advanced shop; they had a music room, stuff like that. All of this was mor e advanced than the white school was. Uh huh. JT: Wow. Did you have a sense when you were younger that it was a training school? That it was different from a white education?


TMP 042; Thompson; Page 19 MT: No. AT: Say what now? MT: AT: A training school? MT: Well, yeah. That was because white folks always thought that black folks AT: MT: where that comes from. AT: Now, you see that land down there at Thomas Hunter was given to a man named Hunter because he used to work for that white man. And he give him that land to help build that school on. MT: He give the black people the land to buil d the school with the. . assumption that they had to name it after the guy, after the man that he was giving it for, Thomas Hunter. JT: How do you feel about that? AT: Giving it to him? I feel good about that, he giving the black man the land. MT: Yeah, people had to do things like that in order for AT: To get ahead. MT: For anything to happen, really, to get ahead. Now, I felt sorry for I can remember. .some of the first children to go to white schools.


TMP 042; Thompson; Page 20 AT: Oh, [inaudible 25:49 ] children, they called them. MT: Even before they had Freedom of Choice, their mother sent them to the white school and that was kinda. .you want to talk about bullying or whatever you want to c all it, that was kinda hard. This young lady would have been two years in class ahead of me, but their mother sent her and two brothers to the white school before they even came up with the Freedom of Choice. AT: Campbell children. It was hard on them. MT: AT: It was really hard. JT: Why did she do that, send her kids? MT: AT: Well, one thing, she came from the city, too. And see, they was going like that more than they were here in the country. MT: Yeah. AT: Mm went there, and I had Miss Fitchett would tell me, Miss Thompson, go in there and get those children and talk to them. See, when I first started out teaching, was up here at Cobbs Cree k. I was the first black one went up there working. Mrs. Fitchett huh. Up here at Cobbs Creek. So she put me in there, those children with me,


TMP 042; Thompson; Page 21 most of the time. And I was the one that got the job up there when they first doing that, Freedom of Choice, sending blacks with the whites. JT: Wow. AT: There was another girl down th ere, Ruth Jarvis. She was a Cooke Ru th Cooke, and me, and it was two of us went up for that job. And Fitchett up there Louise Fitchett principal up in the white schools. Mm hm. JT: Wow. What was that like for you at first? What were your first impressions of that? AT: te people all the time. Like I said, we grew up this family and us, we used to be together. One family across the road from us, across the field, Mary Morgan she had a child named Jean she raised Jean Stillman. She had a daughter named Gladys Morgan. But u p this way, we got along all right. Mm at all. Mm mm. JT: AT: Huh? JT: Your time as a student in the first grade through seventh grade. AT: My time.


TMP 042; Thompson; Page 22 JT: Yeah, as a stu dent. Who were your teachers, do you remember? AT: My first grade teacher was mama, but she was dead long time. But she was my firs t teacher, Miss Mary Brooks. JT: What was she like? AT: rwell. C ause I we nt to her, she asked me my name. Miss Susie Burwell, I told her my name was Altha Arlene Mathias. She said, naw, baby, your na me is Altha Mae! I said, no, Miss my husband said your name is Altha Mae. I said, well he got it wrong. She e was a Mae. She named me Altha Arlene. MT: I had this lady, but she was a contradictory type of person, s he was. AT: Who? MT: Susie Burwell. AT: Oh, that was one of the first teachers that we had, yeah. JT: What was their teaching style?


TMP 042; Thompson; Page 23 AT: It was good. Mm hm. Now, like I said, this school out here had in one room. It was, we called it primer, second, third and fourth in one room. Another room was got so that those who could catch on were fast teaching some classes. JT: What was discipline like? AT: you never because when I went out here, it was a set of boys it was two of them: Purnell and Gibson Parrett. The y were brothers. And Albert Mose and that Lizzie. come here, child, let me get you a school. I said, uh have pain in your stomach! So she caught on to it. They made me nervous. They grab her switch on one end, pulling her around in the classroom. [Laughter] And with that switch and they grab it from her. JT: Wow. AT: Discipline was bad then.


TMP 042; Thompson; Page 24 JT: Why do you think that is? AT: huh. The children from Blakes and Cobbs them children from Hallieford was something. Mm hm. JT: Did you know their parents at all? AT: up here and things. Yeah. MT: Their parents probably rode the short bus. AT: A short bus? MT: Yeah. AT: MT: But they had JT: ] So, go ahead. MT: Yeah. county, the blacks are very thin in Mathews. AT: Yes, they are thin. MT: The school. See? So what happened is the blacks just


TMP 042; Thompson; Page 25 the jobs here in Mathe ws County for the blacks. . Just what I said: a lot of the black kids is going t that gonna be left here is the ones that pretty much, like I say, were riding the shorter bus. When you got a different a few of the production of black folks will be weaker. AT: And weaker. MT: Yeah, than what you have. JT: This may be an obvious question, but why are there so few African Americans on the water ? AT: On the water? JT: L ike watermen and tugb oats and crabbers and things? MT: paying job for them. So quite boat and stuff, that was my lifestyle, then I would teach that to my children. My


TMP 042; Thompson; Page 26 family, I would consider all of them before I would go out to let other people come aboard. JT: yeah. MT: hm. AT: Mm hm. JT: Wow. Miss Altha, how would you compare your teachin g style to the style of your teachers at your elementary school? AT: How would I compare mine? JT: To theirs, yeah. AT: Well, when I started teaching, I was on up with it mostly. Mm hm. JT: AT: until I was married, the late years. MT: saying. AT: MT: In some ways, it w as the same way. AT: Yeah, in some ways it was the same. JT: How do you mean? Can you give me an example?


TMP 042; Thompson; Page 2 7 AT: mm. I got married and had five children. [INTERRUPTION IN INTERVIEW] JT: So, can you tell me how you met your husband? AT: Well, we grew up here mostly in the community. Mm hm. I had been knowing him a long time. But he went in the service and I went on to school and ever ything. Then when he came back, we got together. MT: AT: the Ridge Road. JT: What was dating like? AT: Well [Laughter] it was all right, dating. JT: Wer e your parents overprotective? AT: three. JT: Okay. AT: Mm hm. Yeah. JT: Was that unusual? MT: No.


TMP 042; Thompson; Page 28 AT: For some people. Some got married earlier than that. MT: Well yes, some of them did. AT: Yeah, b ut see, I went on to school and things, work. And he went in the service. Then he came MT: My dad always said that he went to school two days. He carried a load of wood jokes. But he went more than that. AT: What did he tell you about A&T College in North Carolina? MT: I think he had been there, too. JT: I live from five minutes away from it, yeah. MT: You live five minutes from A&T? Yeah. AT: MT: Five minutes from there, she said. JT: No. My mom works right there, yeah. AT: Oh yeah? JT: Yeah. What was his experience there? I mean, it was a tumultuous time. AT: [Laughter] I think he was in service when he went to A&T. MT: Yeah.


TMP 042; Thompson; Page 29 AT: college there. His cousins wanted him to go to Norfolk State. He JT: Oh, wow. AT: Mm His daddy was a carpenter and he came up under him. JT: What buildings did your husband work on? AT: He built this house JT: Right. AT: An d some more. MT: Yeah, he did homes. AT: Homes. MT: Now, he built multiple homes. AT: He did work up here on this bridge MT: Yeah. AT: B etween Gl oucester and Mathews, that bridge right there. JT: Oh, wow. MT: During the later years of his deploym ent, he contracted on his own. He did,m atter of fact, the Antioch Church, he did the addition onto that church. AT: Redid.


TMP 042; Thompson; Page 30 MT: At that time, his license you know, the contractor, a building of that size and that money. So they paid for his license for him to go ahead and have that correct license so he could do that. Matter of fact, what they done was had the community college to draw it up pretty much. They had the mechanical drawing part of the community college to draw the blueprints up for that church, the addition that they had put on. I went back over that for my little bit of high school echanical drawing in high school, but I took it up at the shipbuilder in the apprentice school. I went and had to redo a lot of the drawing because they had a lot of stuff off. You see, well, what they done, they got by by paying a little bit of money for the blueprints because it was done by students. But it had to be changed, and I did a lot of that changes to the blueprints for him, because I knew how to do it. JT: MT: Yeah. JT: Did you learn anything from your father? MT: Not much. JT: No? MT: Not much. I hated it. [Laughter] AT: MT: when I was small I would go I even had times I got out of school, found where


TMP 042; Thompson; Page 31 he was working, and I would get o ff the school bus and go for a couple hours in the evening. It was strange work at the time, especially for a young child. I grew JT: Interesting. AT : My what? JT: Wedding Day. AT: Wedding? JT: Mm hm. AT: Oh, no. My wedding day? [Laughter] Well, we went to the preacher and got do. Uh JT: They didn AT: Well, my mother was dead. Uh huh. My father was living, and I used to stay He had been in service, too. Mm hm. JT: Did you know you were getting married? AT: Yea h, I knew I was getting married. [Laughter] MT: AT: No. I was teaching in Gloucester. Mm hm. He came up there to the school and got me, went on to the preacher and got married. Mm hm.


TMP 042; Thompson; Page 32 JT: Wow. Who is your preacher at that time? AT: JT: Why not? AT: JT: Okay. What was the reaction when they found out? AT: When they found out? See, my mother was dead, and my sister and them gave us a shower and everything. They invited people to it. Big time. Mm hm. JT: O kay. And they were fine with it? AT: Oh, yeah. It was fine. JT: AT: mm. I was the youngest of all the children. It was eight of us. And it was JT: Wow. So can you tell me a little bit about how the area a round us has changed over time? MT: Around here? JT: Yeah, around where your family is from? AT: A whole lot of the people are not here now.


TMP 042; Thompson; Page 33 MT: The two was AT: Two first cousins. MT: the end and his first cousin on this end, which made them all first cousins. But they had most of this area. The Brooks their last name was B rooks they had was Brooks Lane. They sold lots to family members. JT: MT: Well, it goes back to AT: E. Brooks. MT: No, i t goes back to land. So when you see like if you watch a movie and the black folks are might not have forty acres but they had land granted to them. Now, whether they JT: So the Brooks family goes back to the Civil War on this particular land. MT: s and Cookes. JT: I know that name. Okay. Did they ever tell you anything about the land or even about the Civil War, things like that? MT: No.


TMP 042; Thompson; Page 34 JT: No. MT: Mm mm. For one thing, Mathews Courthouse burnt down years ago, and they lost a lot of history. Mm hm. But there are some people still that knew some of the history that kept up with it. Yeah, t JT: Interesting. Do you know anything abo ut this land? The history of it AT: The what? JT: The history of it from the Brooks family? AT: Mm mm. JT: Okay. How did you all meet the Brookses? AT: They lived right back down there and they owned all this land out here, the Brookses did We used to live up on the Ridge Road. My native home was on the next Ridge Road over here. JT: Is it still there? MT: No. AT: My native home? No, my house burned down. JT: Oh, wow. AT: But the land is out there. MT: The land is there, yeah. JT: When did the house burn down?


TMP 042; Thompson; Page 35 MT: I was in school. AT: obody living up there. We was renting the house out, I was. MT: AT: JT: The house that you your native home AT: My native h ome, where I was born. JT: Had that house been there a while before you were born? AT: Now MT: Not so awfully long, because that house was built w hat a lot of people would call turn of the century. AT: Turn of the century? MT: houses even the same way. They built them either they were a T, a n E, or an L. Most people had built straight across the front and went out the back. It was either a T section, or you were on an L section were built back then. AT:


TMP 042; Thompson; Page 36 MT: It was a L. You come in, you go in the front door and you have a front room AT: And a hall. MT: And then you have a hallway and stairway. The house was two stories; that piece could be two stories. And you go up the steps for the bedroom, and the front room would be your living room, and then you go down the hallway to your dining room. AT: And kitchen. MT: And then you go to the kitchen. AT: Mm hm. [Laughter] JT: the kitchen look like? MT: The walls and stuff? JT: Yeah or how it was decorated. MT: At that time, a lot of people used some people plastered. I mean, what I call real plaster. AT: Yeah, they put the sheet, the lathes. MT: They put little strips. AT: They call them lathes, and put the plaster over that. JT: Is that how it was when you were born?


TMP 042; Thompson; Page 37 AT: Uh JT: From your childhood, what can you remember about your mother cooking in the kitchen? AT: Oh, she had a big cook stove. MT: Wood st ove. AT: Wood stove. The woman in charge of that used to cart it over. Oh, we had a stove now. In the bottom, of course, we had this oven down there. We had a modern cook stove. MT: Everybody had that, though. AT: Not everybody had that kind that we had. MT: I mean, everybody might not had what you had, somebody had gas stoves or electric stoves or none of that. Everybody had wood. AT: Then we got up to a gas stove, though. MT: Yeah, you got it eventually. AT: Mos t of it was wood stoves then. Heating, too, was wood stoves. MT: Yeah. JT: AT:


TMP 042; Thompson; Page 38 JT: Did she have like a special dish? AT: guess nobody cook them now. I cooked those myself; rabbits and squirrels. MT: AT: Huh? MT: AT: Yeah, I cooked rabbits and squirrels myself. Hog chitt er lings, people still cook them too. Hog guts. We cleaned them, too. JT: Wow. AT: Yeah, I cleaned the hog chitterlings. JT: Those are roughly all the questions that I have, but I wanted to see if you had any other anecdotes or anything you wanted to share. AT: MT: No. AT: Where you f rom? [BREAK IN INTERVIEW] JT: MT: These two brothers w ent to AT: Union.


TMP 042; Thompson; Page 39 MT: Virginia Union University, and they said they were the smartest ever. AT: Lyman was the smartest that ever walked in there. MT: To ever walk in the college. AT : His brother. One was principal one was the president of Norfolk State. MT: He was basically founders of the Norfolk State University. They had the library named after him now : Lyman Beecher Brooks Library at Norfolk State University. This one stayed more or less on the high school level, even though he did teach at Norfolk. He left here; he had a high school here, then he went over to York County and had the black high school. He was principal of the black high school in York County. Then eventually at the same time, he was going over to Norfolk State to teach evening classes. AT: His name was John Murray Brooks. MT: Yeah, John Murray Brooks. AT: Yeah, I graduated from him, ou t here, down at Thomas Hunter. Valedictorian, I had. JT: Can you tell me what you were saying about the bus? AT: About the bus? MT: recognize AT:


TMP 042; Thompson; Page 40 MT: Right. Not the blacks. AT: Uh uh. If you wanted to go to high school, you had to get your own way. Before he got that bus, some of them had families, had cars, and they take some of the people then down into the high school, Thoma s Hunter, where it is now. And when we got to go, Mr. Brooks bought this bus, and we rode the bus to school. His was a green color, and the others was mostly yellow. Then the county decided they would give him half on a bus, and then he bought the other ha lf. Then finally, the county bought the others, bought the white ones. [Inaudible] MT: You got the hand me hand the buses do wn to you as you go along. AT: high school that the whites got. Not the same o ike I say, this family was real close to our s. She used to give one. I know that History of Mankind I never forget that one. And I said, now, we History of Mankind Then there was another one I got f rom Erma Lee; was a World of Works high school, but the white had. Uh huh. JT: So they had different books, not just AT: So they had. That is right; that is right. They had different books. JT: Wow.


TMP 042; Thompson; Page 41 AT: I JT: Wow. I mean to AT: It was rough coming up in my time. When he came up, it was a little different. It the whole time. MT: Oh, yeah. JT: Was the man that was the principal of this school a contemporary of T.C. Walker in Gloucester? Does that name sound familiar? AT: JT: I meant the guy. MT: What was your question, now? JT: Was it Mr. Brooks AT: John Murray Brooks. JT : Was Mr. Brooks a contemporary of T.C. Walker, the man, the lawyer? Because I know he bought a bus for Gloucester students. MT: AT: What now? MT: I think, because I mean, you just had to have somebody to take the initiative to do something like that. He


TMP 042; Thompson; Page 42 were close. But like I said, everything was right here at your hands, in your grasp. but so much. Yeah. JT: Okay. Is there anything else you wanted to add? MT: [ End of interview ] Transcribed by: Jessica Taylor August 26, 2014 Audit edited by: Maria Fuentes September 16, 2014 Final edited by: Jessica Taylor