Interview with Marie D. Adams, 1983-11-22

Material Information

Interview with Marie D. Adams, 1983-11-22
Adams, Marie D. ( Interviewee )
Samuel Proctor Oral History Program
Publication Date:


Subjects / Keywords:
Fifth Avenue (Gainesville, Fla.)
African Americans ( fast )
Fifth Avenue African American (Alachua County) Oral History Collection ( local )
Joel Buchanan Archive of African American Oral History ( local )
Florida History ( local )
Oral histories ( lcgft )
Spatial Coverage:


This text has been transcribed from an audio or video oral history. Digitization was funded by a gift from Caleb J. and Michele B. Grimes.

Record Information

Source Institution:
Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, Department of History, University of Florida
Holding Location:
This interview is part of the 'Fifth Avenue Blacks' collection of interviews held by the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program of the Department of History at the University of Florida
Rights Management:
Made available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 4.0 International license:
Resource Identifier:
FAB 014 Marie Daniel Adams 11-22-1983 ( SPOHP IDENTIFIER )


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Interviewee: Marie D. Adams
Interviewer: Joel Buchanan
Date: November 22, 1983
Place: 1134 S.E. 13th Street
Gainesville, Florida

J: Good afternoon, Ms. Daniels.

A: ATL.00 ^

J: Excuse me. Good afternoon, Mrs. Adams.

A: Good afternoon, Joel.

J: How are you today?

A: Just fine. How are you?

J: Fine. Please excuse that mistake.

A: Good.

J: Mrs. Adams has been a teacher in Alachua County for how many years?

A: Forty-two years.

J: Forty-two years. Mrs. Adams, where are you from please?

A: Gainesville, Florida.

J: Can you tell me something about your parents please?

A: My parents was Edgar and Rebecca Daniels, who were natives of Gainesville, Florida. And

they lived here. My mother was a teacher of Alachua County. My father was a plaster.

J: When you say they lived here, can you tell me the address or the location of where they


A: They lived at 506 N.W. Columbia Street, which is now 7th Avenue.

J: Aha. And where were they from? Where were their families from?

A: My grandfather was from South Carolina. My grandmother was from Jonesville. And my father'

mother was from Jonesville section also.

J: You said your mother was a teacher in Alachua County. Where did she

A: Well, she taught in the different areas, the outlying areas, Liberty Hill was one place.

I don't think it was known as Liberty Hill. It was known as Jonesville. But it's Liberty

Hill and the school still standsithere where the church is. The Liberty Hill Methodist

Church. That little building right next to the Liberty CObA DE was- where she worked

Page 2

A: for a number of years. My mother didn't work as long as we were small and coming up. She

stayed home with us until we were large enough for her to, you know, leave. But my father

worked and practically all of the older citizens, the whites, knew my father.

J: And what was his occupation?

A: He was a plasterer.

J: Plasterer.

A: iDuring those days, practically everybody had their homes plastered. It's not like it is

today. But he was a plasterer and if someone wanted something done, they would come

immediately and look for Ed, as they called him.

J: Really?

A: Uh huh.

J: Mrs. Adams, how many brothers and sisters was in the family?

A: There were three boys and three girls.

J: And what number of child are you?

A: I am number three.

J: Can you tell me something about your childhood, growing up in Gainesville?

A: In growing up in Gainesville, practically everybody knew everyone around and we were very

fortunate to live in this community where the people were very liberal. The blacks. They

would look at you, you know, were around. There was nothing but the church for rely on for a-livelihood. And the schools occasionally had plays and like that. I

attended Union Academy where the recreation center on Second Street is.

J: And was that...

A: That was the first school that I attended.

J: Union Academy.

A: Union Academy. And...

J: And what grades was that from?

A: That was from first grade through tenth. Grades. And my brother, Edgar, the oldest one,

was the first one to attend, was in the class of the first class that graduated the 12th

Page 3

A: grade here at Lincoln High School under the leadership of professor \ Jones.

J: You said Union Academy was th4wi grades one through ten. Now, where did you go from tenth

grade on?

A: Well, during that day and time, you know, there was no further going unless your parents

were able to send you.out of the county somewhere. Because there was only, you know, there

were no high schools too much around. And the first high school was the Lincoln High School

for us. And this is why I was saying my brother was one of the first ones that attended the

Lincoln High School, the class, the first class of Lincoln High School. And he graduated

in '25.

J: Let's go back for a moment. You mentioned that the church was where you all received your

livelihood.from. What do you mean by that? \ c

A: We didn't have anywhere you know, to go for arut-let other than, we went to church three

times a day on Sunday. Four, because of the, we went to Sunday school,morning

service, afternoon service, i" L night service. That was five services a day.

And we didn't have any theaters and places like that to attend, you know.

J: So the church was a recreation as well as a social?

A: Uh huh.

J: Uh huh. Can you recall or if possible could you recall for me a day in school at the Union

Academy? When you first started, what the building was like, teacherp)supplies, what is was

like being at that school.

A: Well, at Union Academy, it was a two-story building there. And that was the building for

the older students. And for the younger students, it was a one-story building which was

on the southside of the campus. And this is where the children attended from first through

about second grade. Then when you made it through the second grade, you would go into the

larger building and we all thought that was something wonderful, to get a chance to go into

the two-story building. And the teachers were people / that we knew. They attended

what was called the Florida fi)/h/ which is in St. Augustine.

J: Florida hfma-l Collegep

Page 4

A: Yes. And some attended Ed Waters and then some attended A & M. The teachers did.

Some of the teachers here. And we have a history of teachers in the family that taught

at Union Academy.

J: Oh.really? Can you tell me who those persons were?

A: They were Mrs. Lucy Hughes Merle Mrs. Annieer .

J: Now just wait now. The first Mrs. Merle, how was she related to... Ce\LL-

A: Mrs. Annie Smith.

J: Alrigh. Mrs erle, ow was she related to you?

A: My mother's sister.

J: Your mother's sister. And Mrs. Annie Smith?

A: Uh huh.

J: How was she related?

A: My mother's sister.

J: Your mother's sister.

A: Uh huh.

J: And do you feel that that inspired you to be a teacher?

A: Well, really for fact, no. It didn't. Not until my tenth grade that I taaae. I wanted

to be a-nurse. My oldest brother said he was going to be a doctor when we would be sitting

in the living room, talking with my mother a lot. And he would, he helped and he wanted

to be a doctor. And he did. He was a doctor. And my brother, the one next to me, Walter,

said now, "If he's gonna be the doctor, I'm gonna be the undertaker. I'm gonna take care

of all of them that he can't cure. &And we would laugh about it. So I said I'm gonna be

the.nurse so I would be jaA help take care of. And during my, when .I entered the tenth
FV M"Pq--J&Vo-j
grade, Miss Daphne Duval, she was Miss Daphne Alexander and she later marriedlDev, eamI

(Atc in and she had a course that was called the Teacher Training Course. And it was offered for

two years to train the high school students especially the girls. And we took this course

and we had to do interns, just like the students are doing now. Intern. We had to go in

and work in the classroom with the teachers and acquaint ourselves with everything just as

Page 5

A: they're doing in college today. It was under her training that this went on. When we

completed the course, we were given a teacher's examination. And in being given this

examination, you had to pass it. And I made second grade certificate.

J: Now what does that mean?

A: That meant that I could teach in the schools of any kind in Alachua because I had a

certificate. A second grade certificate.

J: A question. Now, did you take this teacher training course after your tenth grade?

A: Jeskt from tenth grade through twelfth.

J: Alright, so that was not a part of the regular class, school?

A: It was a part of the regular school ostar. It was placed in from Tallahassee under the

Administration from Tallahassee. It was placed not only in Alachua County but several of

them because of needing more black teachers and...

J: So you mean...

A: ... and they wanted them to be able to produce.

J: So your, after finishing this two year course, you became a licensed, a certified teacher

and s- :_as at the end of:-your twelve years in high school?

A: That's right.

J: Can,I just digress back for a moment?' You mentioned that you and your brother discussed

in your home what you wanted to be. Can you tell me something about your home please?

A: Now, what would you...

J: Size of the house. You mentioned about that it was a good neighborhood. Was it on a.maini..

street? Was the street paved?

A: No. No. The streets weren't paved too much in Gainesville. Even 8th Avenue was a Qloar

road for a number of years.

J: Really?

A: Uh huh. And you know, they didn't really pave the streets in Gainesville for a long, long


J: Was the street paved in front of Union Academy?

Page 6

A: No. No. When it rained and we had to go to school, we would go to school with our

feet full of mud. And back in those days, they had to scrub and, to keep those floors

clean. Uh huh. Yes. The people of the community gave a lot of their services. Every

room had a wood heater.

J: In the school.

A: In the school. And the teachers had to go in and make their own fires.

J: Really?

A: Oh yea. So we could get in there and be warm.

J: Now, was that school day a typical school day from eight to five or eight to what? Do you


A: No, really, I don't know the exact time but it was around two or three o'clock in the

afternoon when we got out of school.

J: What did you do for lunch?

A: Well, for lunch, we carried our own lunches to school. Every child had to take their own school.

J: And did you have, subject-wise, did you all change class or did you have everything in one...

A: We stayed in one room. One classroom. Fifth grade, sixth grade teachers. They had their

class all day. And we'd go out at twelve o'clock for what they called recess. And we'd

stay out for an hour. That was in order to give the teachers a rest. And if, you know,

different teachers would look over and they'd take their chairs out and sit on:the grounds.

That one ground where that recreation center is, taking care of everything it was... They

had.a high board fence around so, you know, people passing wouldn't interfere.

J: And that was the school for the blacks in this area?

A: In this area.

J: Where was your first teaching, after you finished your teaching course, where did you

first start teaching?

A: Out at LongooPr )

J: And where is that?

Page 7

A: Mr. McPheArson and myself had a school put from Archer and it was called Long L

and we worked there one summer. That was my first.

J: You say Mr. MeehL1raen Who is this Mr.

A: T.B. MePearsn. Reverend T.B. MePh4eaen. \cPeOexor-

J: AAd now you say you had this school. What grades did it cover?

A: It covered first through sixth.

J: Supplies. What did you do for supplies?

A: We would go to the, what they called the book room, and gather what they had.for us in a

box. And pick it up. Well, each school had what they called a supervisor and he would go

up and order things and the wagon and things and they would have it at the school for us

when we'd get...

J: Did you have a black supervisor?

A: Yes.

J: Who.was it please?

A: I can't remember. I'm sorry '

J: That's all right.

A: I can't remember his name.

J: All right. You were there...

A: Maybe Mr. M Irae-en might remember it but I don't.

J: You left Long Pond and where did you come to then?

A: I went to Bronson to teach. Levy County paid better than Alachua County.

J: Can you remember what your first salary was at Long Pond?

A: Thirty-five dollars a month. And out of that we had to pay our board and she transportation.

J: That was thirty-five dollars a month full-time?

A: Full-time. Twenty days. And you could go in and get your check. Thirty-five dollars.

J: Could you, were you able to do a lot with that?

A: Well, things were much cheaper than they are now.

J: Were you aware of what the white teachers were getting paid at that time?

Page 8

A: No, but we knew they were getting better salaried than we were getting. We knew that.

Uh huh. We knew that, for a long time, Joel, the white teachers were getting better

salaries even when we-were working at ov_ e S V.

J: Really?

A: Oh yes.

J: How, this taking your first year teaching, knowing it was different, as a child going to

Union Academy, knowing there was a white school some other place, how did you ddal with

that? How, what, can you remember as a child?
A: As a child, we had no and no whims about it. We stayed on our side of the road.

We attended to our, and it seemed like to me, the children fared better. We could see the

children wanting to go further. Every child had finished the first class of Lincoln High

School but one. And he woul have gone to school, gone away to school but illness in his

family kept him from attending school.

J: Are you saying that all the students that you all worked with went on further?

A: Every student in the first class that graduated from Lincoln went away to college. All
but one. And the reason he didn't go there was illness in his family. That was .

But all of the others went away to school. And well, really for fact, Professor

Jones was very, very helpful to all of the black families in,interceding for the different

ones to try to get scholarships and all like that. Yea, he has really, he was really a

big help in this community. You might say he was very fatherly. You know, to the children

because it was under Professor Jones that I received this course in the teaching profession.

And he was very interested in wanting to find out what we were doing. And he would check

on us.

J: Really?!

A: Uh huh. He would really check on you and come in and see what you were doing and like

that. And when they, we took the test and the state sent the, you know, findings down?

J.: Uh huh.

A: He knew that those letters was from the State Department and he called all of us in that

Page 9

A: day and had, you know, passed the letters out and wanted to see who had passed. Because

there were nine of us and six of us passed that test.

J: Really?

A: And I made the second highest grade and I almost, I almost passed out.

J: I can imagine.

A: I almost, I made the same grade as my instructor that taught me the Constitution. At that

time you had to take the Constitution. You had to know it.

J: Thoroughly?

A: Yea) they didn't play with you.

J: Really?

A: They did not play with you.

J: Wasn't that, wasn't that a very big responsibility for a student who has just finished

high school to...

A: I hadn't finished. I hadn'tfinished when I had to pass that Constitution.

J: You had not?

A: No, uh,uh.

J: But you started teaching young,,didn't you?

A: Uh huh. I was 18.

J: And you had a big respons..., 18.

A: When I was 18 years old.

J: Now, in the classes that you taught, were the students classified grade, by age or were

they just by what they had learned?

A: You know, Joel, it's wonderful to see how the people this day and time. When you're five

years old, you're in Kindegarten. When you're six, you're in first grade. When you are

seven and on like that. Now, I.can tell where a child is supposed to be according to his

age and then if a child is slow, why, he's just slow and.he's not in that grade. But

we would have children,/ere 15, 16, and 17 in the second and third grade. Those children

worked here in Alachua County. They worked in the term time here. In Alachua County.

A lot. And they could not stay in school.You see. Because:they were large families.

Page 10

A: And the families had to be cared for.

J: So what, was now the school twelve months out of the year at that time or...?

A: No. No. The schools weren't twelve months. They weren't ten months either.

J: Really?

A: Uh huh. Sometimes school would last eight months or six months, if the money would hold

out. But a lot of I remember my father having to send money to school every Monday morning

to help pay the teacher's salary. That's right. They would send money so the teachers

would have a job. It was rough.. It's easy today. So to speak, it was easy but it hasn't

always been this way. You just wouldn't believe the things. It was really rough.

J: We, you read about in the books about the blacks being in one classroom and not learning the

basic skills. How were you able to be, able to maintain and the educationAsystem

for so many years?

A: How was I able to maintain?

J: And stay there? Was it that your foundations were met at Union Academyor...?

A: The foundation that I got was a pretty good foundation and then I continued on. I didn't

stop because I had a degree.

J: Uh huh.

A: I went on until I got my fastersIe'egree.

J: Atrtghr, after you got your teaching certificate course, now where did you then for your...?

A: Bethune-Cookman College.

J: Atr4gA. What years were you there, do you recall?

A: Oh, Joel, if you wanted to really document it, I finished my first degree in '36.

J: '36.

A: Uh huh.

J: Was Mrs. Bethune on campus then?

A: Yes.

J: Can you share some experiences that you had with her?

A: With Mrs. Bethune?

J: Yes.

Page 11

A: She was, well, during my childhood, my father worked in Volusia County. And I had the

experience of going to school there when it was all girls.

J: Now what do you...

A: When I was young. About nine years old.

J: Bethune-Cookman was old?

A: All for girls only. And then in the later years, it was you know, it was joined up with,

it was just Bethune when it was all girls and then when they joined in with Cookman from

Jacksonville and it became Bethune-Cookman, then it was co-educational. It was quite an

up-stir about them, you know,...

J: Bridging.

A: Uh huh. Like that but they did. And it was quite nice. I finished there.

J: Did you all live on campus?

A: Yes.

J: Did you wear uniforms?
A: No. I didn't wearAuniform#. When I was nine years old and attending down there, I lived

at home with my parents. This was just up the street. And I had to wear the m(d(c) blouses

and blue skirts.

J: Oh, that's what the uniform was?

A: Yes. It was blue skirts and white Mt[d blouses. That you had to wear. So, I wore them

when I first attended down there as a child. But when they merged with Bethune-Cookman,

you didn't have to wear uniforms.

J: Can you just share one experience in being in the presence of Mrs. Bethune? If you.can


A: Well, I liked Mrs. Bethune quite a bit and I used to be in and out her house but you know,

just like it was home.

J: Oh really?

A: Uh huh. But, because I was very, very friendly with her daughter-in-law, Bert's wife. And

she liked the way I would fix my hair and I would go in and grease and brush and fix her

Page 12

A: hair. You know.

J: Mrs. Bethune hair?

A: Mrs. Bethune. Right there in her house. She had a beautiful, one of those old antique

beds and she-likedoto lay down for them to, you know, work with her hair and she'd fall


J: Oh really?

A: Uh huh. But I, I was going because I wanted to be around her. I liked to be around her.

J: Did you?

A: Uh huh.

J: So you got your four, your four years there. And where did you get your Masters from?

A: A & M.

J: A & M.

A: Uh huh.

J: And what is, what was your areas of studies?

A: Elementary Education.

J: This is a question I'm gonna ask you and I'm quite sure I already know the answer. But

I'd like to hear it from you. Do you feel that you are just as competent in your area

as anyone.else?

A: If not better. LLOG\_T-VEI

J: If not better. What do you feel bout when you read and hear about blacks not able to

read and not able to write?

A: I don't worry about it, Joel. I let-them talk and I've always had it in my mind, Joel,

that I wasnt1-very good at typing. I can hunt and peck but to type, no. But I said if

I was thrown out there and do it, I feel like none of them would surpass me. I've

always had that in my mind. Joel, I didn't want anybody to surpass me in anything. I was

ready to bh with anything. I'm speaking about in the line of work. This is why when they

said a merger with the white schools, I didn't give up. I could have retired the minute

that they said it. But I didn't want everybody to think that I was running from the school.

Page 13

A: I wanted to go in and see what it was all about. And I did. It was a school of learning

for me in more than one way. But fortunately, I had worked with the ones that were, they

sent first a group of teachers to us as coordinators and like that. And wti. they stayed

around a while, one came up to me and asked me, where were the materials that I was going

to use in my social studies class. I say, "You see them. They're back there on the board."

I say, "My maps and there's some filmstrips down in the library that I use." And like that.

I said, "we don't have anything else. And they were very upset. They were upset because

we weren't getting materials. You understand?

J: Uh huh. So how could you teach? Uh huh.

A: We had to make out with what we had and they would give us. But you see, when they came

in, they found out what we needed. So I was one of the first teachers that they found it

out to help get in materials. My coordinator carried me out to Miss Sue Yate's classroom

and she was one of the teachers out at Stephen Foster that had everything that I could

wish for.

J: Really?

A: And ...

J: This was in the same county?

A: Sure! Sure' I know you found when you went to GHS, there was a plenty of everything there.

J: Plenty. More than they needed.

A: And books and everything else. But you didn't find that where you...

J: Came from.

A: Uh huh. But you see, when I went out, I selected what I want. And I got what I asked for.

And I got some things that they didn't have. 'WN7 like the old maps and everything

that I could teach children about the old boundaries. You know, and some of the old

countries whose names is changed and all like that. And:I had some.

J: So you're saying that you all did the very best you could with what you had?

A: With what we had.

J: And that was not much.

A: No. But when they came, 'oO Sc I used it to the fullest extent.

Page 14

P r,^
J: AS-nght, let's go talk a moment about the teaching part. What was Marie Adams like during

her years, many years? When did she get married?

A: When did I get married?

J: Uh)huh.

A: Oh, Joel, I don't know. OC&r-RZ

J: You don't know? Well how long after you moved away from your parents, where did you move?

What other part of Gainesville did you live in ?

A: On Northwest 8th Avenue.

J: NW 8th Avenue?

A: Uh huh.

J: What was 8th Avenue like then? Can you remember the businesses that was there?

A: Yes. There was a .feecdstore across the street. There was a, what-do-you-call, automobile,

where they would sell cars.

J: Uh huh.

A: Across. But before then there was a scrap iron place across the street. And we could be

sitting on the porch and look up and see when they would tear up the old cars and things

that they would bring in?

J: Uh huh.

A: Rats, big as a squirrel running across the street.

J: Really?

A: Uh huh. We had to keep all kinds of things out. You know, to keep them from coming in

the house and like that. And finally, the city made them move. They had to take

e It was just across the street.

J: 8th Avenue.

A: Uh huh.

J: What did you do for socializing in Gainesville after you became a teacher and was living


A: Well, the clubs organized and there was a, well, Mr. a, a theater and it was

Page 15

A: silent pictures at that time.

J: And where was that;:theater located?

A: -ass A theater was located on what was Pleasant Street that is now 2nd Street'. And it's

located right next to where Doris' funeral home is. That's where the theater was.

J: n a was what theater?

A: ter,

J: F heater. What did Marie do for shopping?

A: The shopping area was downtown. We would go to town. For a long time, we worked at

Lincoln High School and when we get off in the afternoon sometimes, in order to mail a

letter, we'd have to walk all the way down to the post office, which is now the Hippodrome


J: Uh huh.

A: We'd walk there in the afternoon and walk back home and cook dinner for our family.

J: What was it like, was there separate facilities for blacks downtown? Were you allowed

to walk into th shop and buy as you so choose to?
A: In/the stores?

J: Yes.

A: Yes. You could go in to the stores and buy what you wanted. But not all of the stores

carried places for you to go in and try on.

J: Oh'

A: Uh huh. We could buy whatever you wanted downtown. Now, you could, your shoes, you

triedon your shoes in any of the stores but such as wearing apparel or like that, you

didn't get the privilege of trying them on.

J: I see. Can you tell me some of the clubs that was organized at that time that you were

participating in?

A: When I was about fourteen years oie had a organization called the Three M Club. And

it was organized by Mrs. Matty

J: What did the three M's stand for? D3 I (I, n .

Page 16

A: Mind, muscle and might.

J: Mind, muscle...

A: And might.

J: And might. Were there any other clubs that you became a member of that you still are part

of now?

A: Yes. The club..that I'm with now, I joined ____ ___Matrons. I'm a

part of that.

J: Well, what was the reason for all these clubs? Was that your social outlet?

A: The social outlet. And we would give different affairs and like that. Formal. Semi-formal.

And on. In order for you to attend. A wdyhen we would give theseaffairs, we'd have to

go out, well, to ArcherAArcher had a nice little place that we would go out and give

an affair.

J: I see.
Lwa\ G
A: l -semi-formal and formal. And we'd have a band to come in and play for us.

Dr. r/Y r had a hall that was very close to the church there. Where that:two-story

building is, that old building that's raggedy there on Second Street? Right next to our


J: Yea, on the south, on the north side?

A: Uh huh.

J: Uh huh.

A: That was the dance hall.

J: Oh really?

A: Uh huh. That was the dance hall that we used to give affairs in.

J: Now Dr.fL ,you're referring to is Dr. ?

A: CR.D. .. rT.V

J R.D. d what was he in Gainesville?

A: Medical doctor.

J: And where was his office located?

Page 17

A: Right there in that building downstairs.

J: On the second...

A: On the first floor. On the first floor.

J: On the first floor.

A: First floor was his office. And in the front of it was his, well, it was very nice. He,

we could go in and get sodas and ice cream, what we called ice cream F -' And

drink like that, whatever you wanted.

J: Mrs. Adams,...

A: No, no hard drinks. It was just...

J: Mrs. Adams, do you, I'm not sure you're aware when you went to Bethune-Cookman that the

University of Florida here. Why is it you didn't go there ?

A: The University of Florida was only for males -When I was attending Bethune Cookman. It

was for males only.

J: And that was the reason.

A: Uh huh.

J: If it had been for girls, would you have tried to have gone?

A: Sure. I have attended the University of Florida. I've had several courses from out here.

But you know, it did not open up to us. I had finished, I had my B.S. degree and worked

on my Xaster's but it wasn't open to attend. We couldn't get a class, an extension

class. Weget any of the instructors to come out and Lincoln High School.

J: Well, how did they say to you all that they couldn't do these things? What did they say

to you?

A: Well, it was in so many words that we could understand. And back in -those days, Joel, if

you wanted your job, you knew not to push too hard about certain things.

J: Have you become bitter about those things?

A: Well, no. I'm thankful that I passed through itbecause I never wanted to get somewhere

where somebody would step on my toes.

J: Ahfha. I understand.

Page 18

A: My father would always say to us, "I'm working. I'm working very hard to try to help

you all get an education. So you will be from under the foot of man. y, you

get your education, you can demand." And that has stayed with me today.

J: I hear you. What was the typical school day when you were teaching at Lincoln when it

was all black and you had very little supplies? Did you have problems with the childrenS

behavior or was it a good school?

A: It was an excellent school.

J: How do you mean that?

A: Because the children wanted wanted to learn.

J: Did they?

A: My, did they wanted to learn. When you were there, I can see you now, running up and

down the side walk in your beautifulIlittle white blouse, like. It:was a kind of full

blouse and I thought that you were the cutest little fellaAthere could be. And your

mother was a darling. Because she often wanted to see that the teacher, you know, was

cared for. She would do nice little things for us all the time. Brownies and things.

J: That's right.

A: And she would / -A 'A.IA

J: That's true.

A: She would really try to let us know all the time that she cared. And it was so many parents

that would do and let us know that they did care about us. It was rough.,

J: Was it?

A: It was rough. But we stayed there and Joel, if you will notice the children that pass

through that area during that time, those times, look what Maxine Duval has made. Look

where Louise Hill has gone. All of those people thathyou know and you can point out

students that's doing real.well, you're very proud to hear about them. And you're very

proud to see them doing. George Gilchrist is one that I like to meet. He talks and

tells me all the time how he's saying he's working for the government. He's in the mail

Page 19

A: service. And I'm happy about that. It's so many of them that's making good. And so

many of them don't O V/.O

J: Uh huh. So you feel that your teaching was worthy?.

A: Whenever you see the children doing well, you know you've done something.

J: You were at Quinn Jones when they decided that they were going to close the school.

A: Oh yes.

J: How did the teachers, or you as a teacher there feel about that?

A: Joel, don't ask me.

J: Why?

A: I've never gotten over being hurt about that. I was hurt when they closed Jones school.

We didn't know until after dinner. When I say after dinner, all of the children at Jones

had had lunch and we were back in the classroom and we had a system, an alarm system that
FCoP -n-0S
would ring for the teachers. So many rings for the teachers. And so many/tudents. If

they wanted a student... And they kept ringing the bell for the teachers. And we had to
fooM R\b
put a monitor over the classAe go down and see what they wanted. And we went to the office,

they said that it was going to be a meeting. And they wanted us to take the children

outside but don't go behind the lunchroom. Because the meeting was going to be in the

lunchroom. And we went on back upstairs. After a while the bell rang. They said dismiss

your children./ And the superintendent wanted to talk with us.

J: Who was t e--supri tendent at that time?

A: Tiny / .

J: Tiny Ta M f

A: So, we said what are we gonna do with the bus children? And they put the bus children

in the charge of two teachers. (end of first side of tape.)

J: .........Quinn.

A: Oh, well, when they told us to meet in the library. We:went into the library and Mr.

NOA came in. And he immediately opened the meeting and said that he thought it

would be no more than fair that he tell us before we come in and read the afternoon paper

Page 20

A: saying they were closing A. Quinn Jones School.

J: You mean-to tell me it was gonna be in that paper that same day?

A: That same day. And the papers were generally out around two something and we'd already

had lunch. And you see, that was between one and two. And we, they closing the school.

TU said yes so we started firing questions as to why. And he said because he had decided

to do it.

J: That's the reply he gave?

A: And then we still was firing questions. He said, "well, I don't have to sit here and

answer-these questions." And I can see him leaving that place right there.

J: You mean to tell me he didn't discuss with you whether you were gonna have a job, where

you were going ?

A: So, we knew that it was closing. We went home and we read it in the paper. Then the next

day, he came in and talked with us. He told us, well, right down.the line, I can't say

whether exactly it was the next, because I was so upset with it. He said,"I am not firing

you." Well, he knew the quality of teachers he had in Jones. He hadn't had any trouble

with us. And he figured if he scattered the Jones teachers among the others, he would have
-TP-rp- Loo3\< !s
teachers teachers that didn't want to cause a lot of trouble.

J: Now when you say trouble, what do you mean?

A: Well, say Joel. going in just to pick ings. You're going in to work and you gonna

do your job. And that's it. So he had gonna reports from these coordinators about the

type of workers that was in that school, see. And they put those coordinators in first.

J: And then.

A: And then we were placed in every school.

J: Were you?

A: Uh huh. Every school. Now, some sent for us. _sent for me but I didIt

go. I let him place me. He said if he placed you and you had any trouble, he would

personally go in and see about it. But if you went out and selected your own school that

you wanted to work in, that would be you. So I let him place me. In other words, Mr.

Page 21

A: _36 had Mr. McDonald working. He selected Louise Jones and myself from the group.

And that time, we would...

J: And what school was that that you went to?

A: Metcalf .

J: Metcalfe, Approximately how many teachers we at Jones?

A: Twenty.

J: Twenty. Now was there any, when they closed Jones Elementary, were there.any other black

schools in Gainesville then?

A: Yesj Duvalo

J: Duval.

A: Williamso

J: Williamas

A: Those were the only two in Gainesville.

J: The only two. And you mentioned one point I want to reinforce. You mentioned that you

all were first and he knew that the quality of the teachers. So you're saying that the

majority of those teachers were able to go and sustain.

A: Uh huh. And they didn't have any trouble whatever.

J: You have lived through four periods. When there was just a black school, when you had

very little supplies. Then you had the black school that was separate but equal. Then

you went into the integrated schools. Of those three, which one did you enjoy working in

that you felt was the best?

A: Well, to be perfectly frank with you, Joel, I didn't have any trouble.

J: Why?

A: I enjoyed my work in each one. And where they were trying for a little trouble at one

time, one of the students went home and told her motheran ungodly lie. I had assigned

my class some work to do and I would let them select, let them select a chairman and then

I would, you know, let them do their little project and all and let them know how long they

had. Six weeks to do this, right. And then we would go on with our other classwork until

Page 22

A: they were ready to make their reports and all. And this student went home and told her

mother that I gave her this report to do and it was a weekend and the mother, they were
S^-PETF eIo{
going I think to G4y or somewhere down there a6-on a weekend trip. Anyway,

it upset the mother and that mother came in and she raised C-i with Mr. P(cZE and

Mr. McDonald, who was over, overall coordinator. And they said, that's not true. But

I can tell you that bout her because we know. We get their plans every week and they

went in my room and got everything out. I didn't, I wasn't aware of what was happening.

They got em out and showed em to her and she still wanted to feel a little queer about

it. And just luckily the next day, I was there, writing on the board and she kept walking

by the door. And finally when I looked up, she walked to the door and said, "May I come

in?" I said, yes, if you have permission from the office. And she told me, no, she didn't.

I said, well, get permission then. They'll call me and tell me. I said, you're welcome

to come in. And I kept on writing. So in a little while, I saw Mr. McDonald and the mother

coming back. And he brought chairs for, she would have larger chairs than for the children.

You know, we were both So I had my assignment up and I was explaining it to

the children and I asked them who wanted to be the captain or the leader of the group and

all. And that little girl was one that volunteered. Her mother was sitting there and

she liked to die. She was so mad at her, she didn't know what to do. ELO T J

J: Of course she was!

A: And so I told them, I said I haven't been over to the library to talk with the librarian,

Mrs. Wilson I said, but, I will get permission for you the days that you want to go in

and study. And if you all want to take your group and let you form your little different

committees, I say, you might do that. But you take ew out on the lawn where I can see what

you're doing and then let me know what you're doing and like./fThat mother was so mad with

that little girl, she didn't know what to do. She jumped up out of her seat and Mr.
( //\\
McDonald reached up and grabbed her. Sit down, sit down. She said, uhn uhn, no! He said,

you going? You ready to go? (laughs) And see, he was tickled wijh-it himself.

J: Of course he was.

Page 23

A: She had gotten e______ OOShe went on out the door and he looked down at me

and winked his eye.

J: You mean to tell me you never talked with her?

A: I didn't say anything to her. So he had, you know, that afternoon he came in there, he

was falling up -Ve A)P\ He said, Marie you fixed her, didn't you? I say, yes.

I thought she was coming but it was my day to explain the little project they were gonna

do and she found that girl was lying and I know she did her number on her that afternoon.

when she got home. So, because, see, my, in my plan books __. And

Joel, I learned to keep the children's work so when the parents would want a conference,

I'd have it.

J: Right there for them.

A: Right there for them. And that was the main thing that helped me. I could show them their,

this is-what-they did. And this.

J: Two more questions and I'm gonna let you go. How have you seen the improvements in

Gainesville? What have you seen that you think is very very-special here for blacks,

by you being born and raised in and lived in Gainesville all your life?

A: Well, Joel, if you want to know the truth?

J: Uh huh.
A: I don't know if I'm so satisfied with educational system.

J: You aren't? Where do you see the problem? Just give me two points.

A: Black children are forgotten.

J: How do you mean that?

A: They're in the classroom and if they don't get it, if they, somebody that's able to produce

and get it for themself, nobody takes the time with them.

J: Did you do anything different? Did you simply say that at that time, at some point, it

was different than that?

A: When we-were working?

J: Uh huh.

A: Oh yes. Oh yes. Oh yes. I have several and you know some of them because you lived in

Page 24

A: the neighborhood with i of them, that cou don't ite their names and they came from

out of the country. you remember/ / ?

J: Uh huh.

A: And what is that other-b y'sjname? ,Bnrian. He worked at the company

a-long time. and, oh I can't call his name but--alls me momma today.

calls me momma. Jones, that was married t dai hter, you know who I'm

talking about?

J: Yea, but I don't know the name.

A: Pauline.

J: Pauline. So are you saying that you made them or helped them n// /?

A: Yes. I made them! I made them sit down and learn to write. I didn't ask them. I made

them! I worked with them in my classroom and I would stay there in the afternoon and

give them time.

J: Cause you was concerned.

A: That boy's name is some thing with a C, called-him something C. But he would see pretty

flowers in my window and he, when he came in the room, he couldn't read and write. And

they put him in there because he couldn't but he was too large to be in first grade. And

he said, oooh, ooh.. My name is 3 -A&S ,he said, I'm gonna tend all your flowers.

I'm gonna make them flowers grow. You see where he was coming from there?

J: Uh huh. Yea.

A: He was getting my mind off of him by wanting to learn. And I had, I had a lot of blacks

that I'm very proud of.

J: Well, I'm very pleased cause I can see that you had a little hand in me.also.

A: Uh huh.

J: YOu said that you was very upset with the education system. Is there anything else that

you're upset with the system today?

A: No, they don't have very many black teachers in there. When a black teacher retires, a

white replaces them. And I think that's unfair. I do. Because there are blacks that

Page 25

A: need jobs. And they should have them. But every teacher that retires, a white replaces

them. I have nothing against whites. I have a lot of white friends. Ilike them. I

visit them. I talked with some today, Mrs. Carson had just passed. Stella Carson?

J: Uh\huh.

A: You remember Dr. Carson used to come out to the school and give us concerts with the


J: Yes.

A: Trying to instill. You know, we had all kind of little cultural programs for you all when

you were there. And he would play the violin and tell you about the history oflithe songs

and all like that. Well, Mrs. Carson passed Saturday or Sunday, sometimes. And I read

about it this morning in the paper. I was very upset. I'm upset about it now. I have

nice white friends and I'm glad to have made friends with them. But I still feel, Joel,

that they should hire some more black teachers.

J: Do you think the quality is there? That we are qualified? They keep saying that we aren't.

Do you feel that they are?

A: Yes. I feel like some of them are qualified. I have a niece that's teaching and I'm on

her like white on rice. And I think her first principal, Mr. Hudson, has given her all

kind of praise.

J: So you'resaying it's there. It's just that we're not given the chance.

A: They aren't given the chance. They are going to make some mistakes. All of them that's

in the classroom make em. But they need somebody.

J: That's true. I've enjoyed talking to you today, Mrs. Adams, at your home and since, how

many years in teaching?

A: Forty-two.

J: Forty-two years. Did you enjoy all of those years?

A: Some of them were rough-but I've made it.

J: Made it. If you had to leave a note to the students who are gonna come along twenty or

thirty years from now, that won't know about the separate but equal type situation, what

Page 26

J: little poem would you like to tell em about us, about you?

A: Well, Joel, you caught me right there.

J: Really?

A: Uh huh. But I want them to make, keep on. I have two little grands and I'm gonna try

to work with them as long as my health will let me. I'm gonna work with them. If they

get a good foundation, you can't pull it from under them.

J: Is that it?

A: Yea. You know, Mrs. Taylor retired.

J: Which one are you talking about?

A: Katherine Taylor. And I talked with her the other day. I said, Kath, I said, Edgar had

a fit when he saw you at the airport. He said Jhat was my kindergarten teacher. And they

were really little terrors.

J: Uh huh. ,- 7?

A: Edgar, You remember little __

J: Uh huh.

A: You rememb wiTiai ? Uh, Dale Williams was Henly's grandson. It was about four of em

and Davi, avis son.

J: L/_____

A: Yea, _Vi Davis1 son. You remember him?

J: UnIhuh-----'

A: Honey, they were four little holy terrors and Miss Taylor couldn't leave the room and leave

them in there. She would have to carry them with her regardless. They had to go if she

was going to the office. And we would all be laughing. We'd be in the auditorium, if we

had music or something and we'd see Miss Taylor walking. And she was short and they were

right behind her. Uh huh. And we say, there goes Miss Taylor with her three LU _.h

They weren't what you call bad children but they would just be into something, you know.

J: Uh huh.

A: And like that. And so, I was saying to her, I say, oh how I wish you ha

Page 27

A: my guand. Cause I know the time that she put in the service. / Jackson was doing

extra time with the children.

J: Was she?

A: Yea.

J: You know, I could say today I was in a meeting with /Y Jones and I shared with him

that those of us that came from black institutions where we had black teachers or had that

foundation, we are rare today. And the children a-se definitely miss that. Do you think

they're gonna go back to separate facilities?

A: No. y I mean, Joel, you've got to for the government's sake.

J: Uh huh.

A: I don't believe we're going to.

J: You don't think so.

A: But they just need to let some blacks in. That's the main thing. They need some blacks


J: Last-question Was the Fifth Avenue area the area it is now, back when you were

there teaching, was it labeled as the ghettoxand the rough part of town?

A: No. No.

J: Do you feel time has brought about that change or.the quality of people moving in?

At Quality of people moving in.

J: Uh huh. Because you were in from that area, right, what you called that section of town?

Not per se but over in.the 8th Avenue area?

A: Yea. I was on 7th Avenue. My family lived on 7th Avenue.

J: 7th Avenue. Okay.

A: And in that area, we were just two blocks from our present church. And well, it was a

block from Mount Carmel, two blocks from my place. And see, the ,).I. Church was around

on first.

J: That was the Zion temple?

A: Zion temple. No, that was A.M.E. But you see, when the A.M.E. moved out, then the Zion

Page 28

A: Temple took over.

J: I see. Mrs. Adams, I 've enjoyed talking to you today. Thank you so kindly and you have

a good day.

A: And you're welcome. And the same to you, Joel.

J: Thank you.