This Oral History is copyrighted by the Interviewee
and the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program on
behalf of the Board of Trustees of the University of
Copyright, 2005, University of Florida.
All rights, reserved.
This oral history may be used for research,
instruction, and private study under the provisions
of Fair Use. Fair Use is a provision of United States
Copyright Law (United States Code, Title 17, section
107) which allows limited use of copyrighted
materials under certain conditions.
Fair use limts the amount of material that may be
For all other permissions and requests, contact the
SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM
Interwiewees: Viola Rizor and Ida Bradley Weeks
Interviewer: Joel Buchanan
June 16, 1986
VIOLA RIZOR & IDA BRADLEY WEEKS
FIFTH AVENUE BLACKS, ORAL HISTORY PROJECT
INTERVIEWER: JOEL BUCHANAN
PLACE OF INTERVIEW: GAINESVILLE, FLORIDA
DATE OF INTERVIEW: JUNE 16, 1986
This is a double interview with two Bradley sisters, whose family has
been in the Gainesville area for over fifty years. Viola Rizor was born in
1896, and Ida Weeks was born in 1912. Both were born in Hague, Florida, and at
an early age they came to Gainesville to live. Mrs. Rizor completed tenth
grade in Hague, and Mrs. Weeks attended the Union Academy and Lincoln High
School, where she graduated in 1930. With moral and financial support from her
sister and her brother-in-law, Mrs. Weeks was able to attend Florida A & M,
where she obtained her bachelor's degree in 1934. After her marriage, Mrs.
Weeks returned to school and completed her master's degree.
This interview with the two ladies tells of the Fifth Avenue neighborhood
and how it has changed over fifth years. Mrs. Weeks describes her experiences
at Lincoln High School and her later days in college. She also explains what
it was like being a teacher and supervisor, and how she met her husband, an
AME minister. She continues to describe their life and travels in the service
of the Lord. Mrs. RIzor provides much description of the neighborhood also,
and tells of her travels to Philadelphia in later years.
B: June 16, 1986, I am Joel Buchanan doing an interview this evening with
Viola Bradley Rizor and her sister Ida Lee Bradley Weeks at their home at
721 Northwest Eighth Street. The Bradley family has been a part of
Gainesville for more than fifty years. This interview is for the
University of Florida Oral History Project and the City of Gainesville.
Good evening, Mrs. Rizor.
R: Good evening.
B: And Mrs. Weeks how are you?
W: Fine, and you?
B: Fine, thank you. I am pleased to be here today. Let's start off with
hearing about the Bradley family? I think, Mrs. Rizor, you are the oldest
R: Of the ones that are living here.
B: Tell me something about where the Bradley family began.
R: Out in the country in Hague, Florida. We were living out there at that
time, and later on as we grew up, I went to school there up until the
B: Can I stop you and ask you, what school did you attend in Hague, Florida?
R: I do not know the name.
W: It was Hague Elementary School.
B: On the interview I want you to listen to the different voices. The very
final voice is that of Mrs. Weeks, and the heavy voice is that of Mrs.
Rizor, so for the interview's purpose and for our communication they will
understand the two. May I first ask, is Mrs. Rizor the oldest of the
Bradley family now living?
B: And would you share with me when you were born please?
R: Yes, I was born in 1896.
B: And Mrs. Weeks, may I ask when you were born?
W: I was one of the later ones, and my birthday is September 8, 1912.
B: Mrs. Rizor, can you share with me something about your family out in
Hague. How long did you all stay in Hague before you moved to
R: Oh, I had not finished school. I really do not know the dates or year,
but we moved here then. My mother had a stroke. She was sick at that
time, and we have been here ever since. I do not know what year that was.
B: When you all came to Gainesville, why did you all come to Gainesville?
R: Well, we lived up here and all the children had scattered.
W: Mother was sick.
R: My mother was sick. She had a stroke and she could not get around, and so
we came here, and we rented a house.
B: And do you recall what that street was?
W: It is Sixth Street now.
B: Sixth Avenue now. So you lived on the corner of what is now Sixth Avenue
and Tenth Street.
B: On the north side. You mentioned to me that you once lived in another
section of town. What was that?
R: Church Street.
B: How long did you live on Church Street?
R: I really could not tell you. We moved after my mother passed. My brother
passed first, my younger brother. I was next to him and there were seven
of us, eight.
B: And what number were you? What child were you? Call the names out for
R: James, Charlie. There were nine of us in all, the older boy died.
W: And that was Maxie. My mother's first child.
B: So there was James, Charlie, and then you.
R: And then me.
B: You were the third of that group.
R: Yes, then Melba and then Ida and then Richard.
B: So after your mother passed, did you have to take on the responsibility of
raising the children?
R: Yes, I did. We were living right over there on Church Street.
B: And Church Street is now what?
W: Fourth Avenue.
B: You had to take care of all of these other children?
R: I was not even married at that time, but I did get married afterwards, and
then my husband and I sent her and my brother to school.
B: Why did you do that?
R: Because I felt it was my duty. My mother told me the week that she died,
she called me in front of the fireplace on Church Street. She said, "Come
here." They called me Ola at that time and Richard, he was a little boy.
He was running around the house, and I was calmly sitting down there by
her. I thought so much of my mother, and she said, "I want to talk to
you." She said, "Come here." I was sitting right there under the chair
right by her, and she said, "You have been a mother to me. You did
everything but bring me into the world."
B: This is your mother talking.
R: My mother. She said, "And God, will forever bless you. You will always
be blessed." And Ida was a little girl too. And mother said, "You have
got to take care of the children."
B: Your mother shared that with you.
R: Shared that with me from her past, and my heavenly Father prayed for me
B: And has he done that.
R: Yes, he has, thank you Jesus. And my brother would not, he would not do
nothing, my older brother James. I said, "I am going to do the best I
can." He would get over and try to do what he wanted done. You will just
have to go somewhere else, because I cannot stand no piano. I did not do
that. So, finally he went to Clearwater and Richard and everybody was
crying. And he looked at them and he stopped playing and said, "What were
they crying about?" My mother had just passed. And you know my mother
passed the next week.
B: The next week after she talked to you?
B: Now about how old were you at this time?
R: I really cannot remember. I cannot tell you.
B: That is all right. We will find out when it is. Let me ask you
something. I know it is probably hard to say because she is sitting here,
you have raised Ida. Was she a difficult one?
R: No, she was easy, and my brother was the same. I did not have any trouble
B: Wasn't that a big responsibility for a young lady to take on?
R: That is right, but I did it. God had blessed me. And I never wanted
anything better than to give to my children, to those kids. And I know
prayers followed me all the time, yes sir.
B: Mrs. Rizor, did you stay here and raise your children until they became
R: Yes, right here I met Matthew Rizor. They lived out on Sand Hill.
B: Tell me where Sand Hill is.
R: Where they church is out there now, if you are going on.
W: You know where the Stephen Foster School is?
B: Out on Sixth Street.
W: All of that land the school was on was the Rizors'.
B: Where the Stephen Foster school is now, that was all Rizors' property?
R: And he had a sister and two brothers left. The sister had a daughter and
a son. The daughter married some man and they gave it away. They got
into some trouble and they messed up. I was not here. I was in
B: Now you married Mr. Rizor in what year?
R: I really cannot recall.
W: That is one thing I had planned to go see the Board of Education about,
because that property was theirs and the daughter just gave it away. I
would like for them to do something for the Rizor family. There is a big
school out there with all the playground, and all that was theirs. I
would truthfully, I am going to, I said I was, and I plan to go and ask
them is there something that they can name after the Rizor family like a
place or street or something.
B: Because the property where the school and the playground all were the
Rizors', and the Rizors were a black family here in Gainesville?
R: Yes, that is right. The father died since that.
B: What was his name?
R: His name was, I cannot even think of his name.
B: What was your husband's name?
B: Did he have any brothers and sisters?
R: Yes, do you know Herbert Rizor, Jr?
W: He lives in Miami now.
R: You know what happened. There was a storm here, and I had everything in a
trunk. My sister Melba lived here then, and she had taken the trunk out
and put it in the little house out there, a little board house out there,
and the storm just tore everything up. Everything went up, and I lost a
lot of things, receipts and things.
B: Things that you could have had that you do not have now. I see. Well,
probably if we would take the time one day, we could find those in the
public records. Let me go back. Mrs. Weeks, I am going to get to you in
a moment. I am talking to your sister here. You finished high school.
What grade did you go up to?
R: To the tenth grade.
B: Was that all at the same school?
B: Out in Hague.
B: Now, do you recall who your teachers were?
R: Reverend Macklin, and Mrs. Macklin, and I cannot think of the others.
B: Was this in a one-room school?
R: Yes, a one-room school out in Hague, and a little church.
B: Did you all live very far from the church?
R: Yes, we had to walk across a creek and walk all the way through that dark
hammock. The trees are so thick to get to Hague. And at that time my
daddy picked tobacco and they would get the little stamps on the tobacco.
You do not know anything about this do you?
B: I sure do not.
R: And they would take those stamps off the tobacco, and they would buy candy
and things at the store. They would give you so much for it. Oh, yes,
we were having a time.
B: Tell me your mother's name.
R: Laura Bradshaw was her maiden name.
B: And now where was she from?
R: I guess her people were from the Carolinas somewhere. We never did get
things straight because the storm tore up everything we had.
B: And your father's name was?
R: Jim Bradley.
B: Do you know where he was from?
W: His father was from South Carolina.
R: We never did know any of their people. No one from that way, but just the
ones from here. Esther Daniel, on his side is in the family.
W: The Wades.
R: The Wade family out in Hague.
B: Are your parents buried in Hague?
R: No, in Gainesville. But I hate that I did this. My brother was supposed
to take care of the graves and he did not and everything blowed up and
everybody stayed put. Along in that time you did not put a whole lot of
things off. But now we got a new place.
B: Who was the mortician that did the burying? Do you remember that?
B: You know if we took the time, we probably could go back and probably
R: He tried to find it one time, my brother, but he did not find it.
B: Now after you got to Hague, you moved from Hague to Gainesville and your
mother passed, and I assume your father had passed earlier.
R: No, my father passed since she did.
W: He passed in 1958.
B: So at this time you were raising the children?
R: That is right.
B: And was he still there with you two?
B: He was not there. In raising the children, your brother and your sisters,
you sent them to school. Where did they go to school?
R: Lincoln High School.
B: So you went to Lincoln High School and they walked from home to school.
R: We were living here then after my mother passed. We have been living here
B: You have been living in this house?
R: Yes. We built this house in 1928.
B: And you brought the children here, your brother Richard and Ida?
R: We were living here long before then from one house to another.
B: But you built this house and they went to Lincoln High School. Now, who
was the principal of Lincoln High School when they were going to school,
when they were children?
W: A. Quinn Jones.
B: And was school from first grade through twelfth?
R: I thought it was.
B: Was it difficult being a young lady, who was married and raising two
children that were your brothers and sisters?
R: Not a bit. There was not trouble. It was the nicest, because all I did
was spank her. I told her I was going to spank her and put her out.
B: And she obeyed then?
R: That is right. Let me tell you. I gave her a switch once. She was going
to spank me too, you know. I never did have to whip her. She was a very
B: Did you have any problem living in Gainesville and dealing with the white
society? Was it a wholesome life then in the early years?
R: Yes, it was nice, and the lady I worked for was so nice to me and my
sister. She was a little girl then, and I think she wanted her to sit
with her little boy, and I let her because I was working for the same
lady. She would come home with a little change in her hand and her little
apron on. She enjoyed it. My sister Melba, she would not do anything.
She hated working. She could not stand it.
B: Who did you work for? What family did you work for?
R: The drug store man, you don't know them.
B: Where was this drug store located?
R: Right where is now. That was his store.
B: And you worked in the home for them?
R: Yes, I worked with him.
B: And how many people were in the family?
R: There were just three of them, the son and the mother and father. The
daughter was married. The one she is talking about, Ida, she would have
her little apron on, and they asked me to let her sit with the little boy.
She would give a little change, and she would bring her money to me.
B: You hear now that this area is not a very pleasant area to live in?
R: Not now.
B: Was it a very decent place to live twenty, thirty, or forty years ago?
R: Oh, yes lovely. There was no trouble at all. Never had any trouble at
all, no one broke in or nothing. They have broke in this house.
B: Give me the names of some families that used to live on this street about
twenty or thirty years ago?
R: Willy Trapp was living here.
W: Benny Goodman used to live over there.
R: Dobe. It's her niece. Do you remember a mail carrier that lived here?
B: Did Clara Griffin always live on that corner?
R: Yes, they were here when we built here.
B: Her family?
B: And now what about further down on this street?
W: Across the street from Clara Griffin, where Dr. Debose is now, Mrs.
Jackson was living down there. And she rented rooms to students from out
in the county that wanted to come here and go to high school.
R: Joe Dennis.
W: Joe Dennis used to live there.
R: Do you remember him?
B: Yes. I see. So, because Lincoln was a school that had beyond a sixth
grade, people came here to live and Mrs. Jackson rented rooms? Now I was
told on the corner across from the Debose house where the Tooser house
is, there used to be a little store there.
R: Yes, that is right. The Deboses, Edith Debose's father, that was his
W: His two sisters.
R: Yes, two sisters live in that house right there now.
B: Who ran the store?
R: The other sister was a Creole.
B: She ran the store.
W: She and her sister ran the store. Not the two there now, those are the
B: Mamie Saunders that lived there, she said that she has been there all of
her days? Were they there when you all came here?
B: Was this area pretty much well-developed when you moved here?
B: It wasn't.
W: Her uncle, Mr. Stuart lived in, not the stone house next to her, but he
lived in the next house.
R: Are you talking about Edith Debose.
W: No, I am talking about Mr. Stuart and Mamie Saunders' sister. They lived
there, that is where Mr. Stuart lived. I do not recall his wife, but his
sister lived there with him after.
B: Let's talk to Mrs. Weeks for awhile. Your sister raised you, but were you
born here or at the other house?
W: I was born in the country.
B: And did you go to all of your schooling at Lincoln High School?
W: Yes, I did. But you know Lincoln High School moved from the city where
Jones Senate-Center is now.
B: You were not at the Union Academy?
R: No, Richard was, but Ida wasn't.
B: She did not go to Union Academy.
W: Richard did not go to Union Academy. I went to the Union Academy for
B: And then you were at Lincoln. Do you recall any of your early school days
at Lincoln High School?
W: I certainly do.
B: Share one pleasant experience that you were involved in a certain grade.
I would like to know the grade, the teacher and what went on.
W: I would like to tell you about an experience in the early part. I was in
the first or second grade, and my sister was working for a doctor who had
a drugstore down there. Anyway his daughter-in-law wanted someone to
nurse her child for her. But he was about one-and-a-half-years-old and
she asked her to let me. She used to come and pick me up from school.
B: And you were in the first and second grade?
W: Yes, I was about seven years old, and she used to pick me up from school
and carry me to her house and her cook would have dinner ready for me and
save my dinner. The children used to laugh at me when I would get in the
car with this white lady, and I did not know what they were laughing at.
I went home one day and I did not tell about it. But when I noticed them
laughing at me when I would get in the car, I wondered what they were
laughing about, and so I went home and asked her about it. She said, "Do
not pay any attention. Just get in the car and go home."
R: They were above her you know. She was working and trying to go to school,
and they did not have that to do you see. They did not understand that.
B: Well, you were very young to be working, weren't you?
R: She was not doing anything but playing with the children.
W: Playing with a little boy.
B: That is all she was doing?
R: That is all she was doing.
B: And she was still getting paid for it and getting a dinner?
W: A dollar and a quarter.
B: For a day or for a week?
W: For a week! I remember that dollar and a quarter so well. She used to
roll it up in a piece of newspaper, and she would tell me. She would put
it in my hand before I would leave. I would get my shoes and get my
books. I would get my books, and she would put it in my hand, and she
would say, "Don't you give this to anybody. You run home and give it to
B: And that is what you would do.
W: Down the street.
R: And when she got home, my mother had not passed then because she would be
sitting on the cushion. She would come and give it to her. And Melba,
she was always a rotten child. And we made a little apron, a little apron
about that long.
B: A little apron for her to wear. Well, she was young to have that. I
guess it was kind of interesting to the children, you taking on the
responsibility. Do you recall what year you graduated from Lincoln High
W: I think it was 1930, I believe.
B: Do you recall anybody in Gainesville now that was in your class?
W: Marie Daniels.
B: Marie Adams Daniels?
B: And who else?
W: Martha Lang wasn't in it. I cannot recall anybody else right now. Any
number of them that I went to school with...
R: Didn't you go with Catherine Meredith?
W: We played ball.
B: You played ball, were you on the team? What did you play?
B: Who was the coach for you at the time?
W: You would have to look that up.
B: Did you have a good schooling at Lincoln High?
W: I was at high school there and Mrs. Sullivan was one of my teachers.
B: Is there anyone living now that I would recognize who taught you? Was
Professor Jones the principal when you were there at school?
B: There are no teachers living that taught you?
R: Not here.
W: I do not think his wife taught me. Oh, yes. Daphne Duval Williams taught
R: Do you know her?
B: Yes. Daphne Duval Williams. She taught you?
B: What did she teach you, do you recall?
W: She taught me in high school, I believe we were taking education then. I
think she taught education. And Frederica taught me music.
B: Frederica Jones, which is now Mrs. Quinn Jones, taught me music.
B: And did you all have many school activities? When I talk about this I
would like to know some of the things you had. You said you played
basketball, but was there a football team?
W: I do not recall a band. Yes, we had a band. There were not many pieces.
B: And when you all played basketball, did you all travel to other schools
W: Yes, we did. To other towns.
B: What was your uniform?
W: We had black bloomers. You don't know what they are. I have pictures
that I will show you. And I believe it was maroon shirts trimmed in
B: Did you have a position on the team that you played for?
W: Yes. I was captain one year.
B: Tell me some names of some of the other persons who played on that team.
W: Catherine Meredith Taylor, Rosetta Taylor, any number of us were there,
and Althea Brown. She was on the team.
B: I have read that Charles Chestnut, Sr. was very active with the athletic
department at Lincoln in the early years and he was the coach. Was he
your coach or was it T. B. McPherson?
W: I do not know if he was our coach. I have forgotten. I would have to
look that up.
B: Were you involved with any other activities at Lincoln?
W: I took part in most of the activities at Lincoln, such as plays and what
B: Do you recall any plays that you were in?
W: No, I do not recall any play right now that I was in, but when they gave
plays I was in them. And racing. We would race.
B: Was Lincoln a very big school?
W: It was a nice school. When we first moved, the first graduation class I
have seen was very large.
B: Was your class large?
W: My class was a medium class.
B: You mentioned that a lot of children came to town to live here. So there
were a lot of children that were at Lincoln High that were not from
Gainesville, is that correct?
W: That was right.
B: After you graduated where did you go then? What did you do?
W: I went to Florida A&M.
B: How did you afford that? Why did you go there?
W: Why did I go there? That is where everybody was going at that time, and
that was the nearest college I could go to. Bethune-Cookman was not
recognized like Florida A&M was. Everybody was raving over Florida A&M's
football team, and everybody wanted to go there.
B: And so that is why you went?
B: Your sister was raising you at this time, and your mother had passed. How
were you able to afford to go to Florida A&M?
W: She sent me. She and her husband sent me.
B: You did not work while you were there?
W: Yes and no. I worked two years there. I would work when I was off,
perhaps keeping children out of the hall, the hall that I lived on when it
was study hour. I would be studying myself, and then I would run to the
door and see if anybody was in the hall if I heard a noise.
B: And you lived in the dormitory?
B: And what was the dormitory named? I am sorry to have to pull you back so
W: No, ask me that question because it was the senior dormitory. The one we
lived in was the main dormitory. Miss McQuin was the head of all the
dormitories, but she would stay in this main one.
B: Did you have to wear uniforms?
W: Oh, yes. White blouses and navy blue skirts.
B: Every day?
W: No, just to chapel, like on Sunday. You had to wear them whenever they
would give some kind of program, or if you went to town. If you went to
town you had to wear it.
B: Did you ever ask why?
W: Yes, I knew why.
W: Because if you met someone or saw someone and you had on this white blouse
and navy blue skirt, they would know who you were. You had a pin on with
your name, and they knew you were from Florida A&M College. And you were
not supposed to be in town after five o'clock. You were supposed to be on
the campus before five if you went to town.
B: Was Ida a very good student in school and college?
W: Yes and no. Ida worked in college, not every year, but when she could get
a job she worked. She stayed up there one summer and worked during the
summer. The only subject that I knew that I could not see anything
through was my science. I could not see anything through that microscope,
but the subjects that I loved were education and math. I still love those.
B: After you finished college, what did you want to be? Did you get a two-
year degree or a four-year degree?
B: So you graduated with a four-year degree. Wasn't that unusual then?
W: Yes, it was a little unusual. Some of them got two years other than four.
My sister told me to go four years. But in the summer, most summers, I
B: I see, so in the summer you taught. Now what year did you finish from
W: I think it was 1930.
B: And your area of study was what now?
B: And you were preparing to be a teacher?
B: You said that you taught while you were in school. Where were some of
those places that you taught during the time that you were going to school
to get this degree?
W: I taught in Macclenny, and I taught one summer at Hawthorne.
B: Now were these one-room schools?
B: You finished college in 1930. Do you recall your class colors, or did you
have class colors?
W: We had a yellow, it was a yellow tassle on our cap.
B: Do you happen to recall who gave the commencement address? Was it an
outstanding speaker? I have heard some people say that Mrs. Bethune came
to Florida A&M and they had Ralph Bunche, persons like that. Did you have
someone that you can remember who spoke?
W: I cannot recall that now.
B: Let me digress at this point to Mrs. Rizor. We are at the point where
your daughter and sister who you raised is now at Florida A&M, and she is
getting ready to graduate. Did you go up for graduation? Did you go to
R: Oh yes, sure.
B: Were you very proud of that experience?
R: Oh, yes, and my brother too.
B: He went also?
B: I asked her how could you afford to send her to college?
R: My husband and I and the Good Lord.
W: See, she is a seamstress, and she used to make four and five dresses a
B: So what was your profession? What did you do to make money?
R: Well, first I was a housekeeper, but after my mother passed, I had to stay
home with the children. Sometimes after they got some size, I would have
a half a day's work. I would go there and fix dinner and I would come back
home. I would be rushing to get back home and get my dinner ready for the
B: You said you were a seamstress. When did you learn to sew?
R: I just took it up myself. I did not go to school or nothing like that.
B: And did you make money doing that?
R: Oh, sure.
B: Could you make almost anything at that time?
R: Suits and anything else.
B: So that was a source of income for you. What kind of work did Mr. Rizor
R: He worked at a creosote plant at the time, and this insurance thing is his
B: Why was sending her to college so important to you?
R: Because she could help herself. When she got something she could do she
could do for herself. I would not have to do for her.
B: Can you recall the day when she graduated?
R: Oh, sure, beautiful. There goes my sweetie. But let me tell you what
some of those girls would tell her, "She is not your mother, you do not
have to do what she says." She came home and told me that.
B: This is graduation day at Florida A&M. Is there anything about that
graduation that you recall being the sister who had raised your sister
from what your mother said on her death bed? Or do you recall anything
about it, being the girl graduating? What do you recall about the
R: Very nice.
B: How did you and your husband get up to Tallahassee?
R: He did not go, I went, and I was so thankful to God that he brought us
through without any trouble. And then my baby, I was rejoicing, she had
given me no trouble at all.
B: Was it a big class, Mrs. Weeks?
W: It was a nice class. It was not one of those real large classes. I would
call it today, a medium class.
B: After graduation, did you know what you wanted to do?
W: I wanted to teach small children.
B: Did you have an idea where you wanted to teach? Did you want to come back
W: Yes, I wanted to come back to Gainesville.
W: Because I wanted to show my sister and my brother how much I appreciated
them, what they had done for me through bringing me up. I wanted to share
some of the bills with them, or pay most of the bills for them. And
whatever I made from work, I gave them most of my money, but they would
not take it.
B: Now did you come back to Gainesville to work?
W: I came back to Gainesville and taught one year.
W: At Lincoln High School.
B: Where did you live?
W: With my sister.
B: How did you feel coming back to the school to teach where you had gone as
W: I felt very good because I felt that the school had done quite a bit for
me. The principal and the teachers had a lot of confidence in me, because
when I was in the high school before I graduated from there, if anybody
was out of a classroom and they wanted somebody to substitute, they would
come and get me and ask me to teach that class.
B: While you were a student?
W: While I was a student. I was in eleventh or twelfth grade.
B: Why would they ask you?
W: They would not ask me all the time. They would ask me sometimes.
B: And you would do that?
B: Now you made a point, you said that you taught here one year. After that
one year, where did you go?
W: Well, the superintendent of the state supervisors was looking for a
supervisor to send to Martin County to Stuart, Florida. He was going
around and he came here. Mr. Jones took him to different classes letting
him observe, and they brought him to my room. Of course, I had boys. I
had a boy and a girl each day to answer the door and to bring the visitors
and what not. So when he had gone over the state of Florida, he picked
me for it.
B: Now, who was he?
W: That was the supervisor of the state.
B: And his name was?
W: I have forgotten his name.
B: And you became a supervisor of other teachers?
W: Yes. Now, there was a supervisor over me here in Alachua County. It was
B: So Ruth Lang was the supervisor over you? And you were the assistant
supervisor? What was your responsibility?
W: Well, I had schools to go and see, but I taught in the morning. No, I am
wrong, that was in Martin County. My responsibility was to go and see
that the teacher was there, and if she on that particular day needed
anything, or make any suggestions, or if I could help her in any way.
B: Did you have to do this for one county, two or three?
W: Just Alachua, and just a certain section of Alachua. I did not have all
B: Was this just for negro schools?
B: I read something recently about a jeans teacher, and I have been told that
you were a jeans teacher. Did this come about after you were the
assistant supervisor, or was that what the jeans teacher was called?
W: That was after I finished college. I came here and taught one year, and
he appointed me. Wait a minute! No. I am a little ahead of my story. I
am sorry. I was suggested from this area to be a supervisor assistant.
Then after I was assistant jeans supervisor for one year here, this
supervisor of the state needed a jeans teacher in Stuart, Florida. He
observed my work, and he wrote me a letter and asked me would I accept
being a jeans supervisor in Stuart, Florida.
B: Why was it called a jeans teacher or jeans supervisor? What was the
reason for being called that?
W: Well, because you had to travel from one school to another and see what
was going on in each school and what they needed and what they did not
have or what they would suggest. Suppose that I was teaching math and I
needed some material in math and you are the jeans supervisor. You came
and you observed, and not only observed, you looked to see what you had
around. Well, you do not have many materials in there, so you put down
what you need.
B: Who did you give this report to?
W: I carried it back to the superintendent's office and gave it to the
secretary there. She had an assistant secretary, and I gave it to one of
B: Did you have an office? Where did you work out of?
W: I worked out of a school when I went to Stuart, Florida. I taught a half
a year, and the other half I was out.
B: When you were in Alachua County, did you teach or were you supervisor all
W: Assistant all day.
B: Did you have an office that you worked out of?
W: No, we just reported to the superintendent's office. Then we would go to
the book room where Miss Lang had her office.
B: You say the book room. Was this located at Lincoln High School?
W: No, they had a house, I have forgotten what street it was on. It was in
the northeast part. It is near town. They had a house down there, and
there were books there, school books, and that is where we would go when
we got low. That was a supply house.
B: Can you recall what the assistant jeans teacher for the county was getting
paid when she first started?
W: If I am not mistaken, I was getting sixty-five dollars a month.
B: Do you recall the superintendent that you first started working under?
W: I think it was Maddox. That is the superintendent. The supervisor of
jeans teachers was Williams.
B: Was he a black gentleman?
W: He was a white man.
B: So you mean to tell me that the supervisor of jeans teachers for negro
schools of the state was a white gentleman?
B: How often did you meet with this man?
W: Of the state? I did not see him anymore. You made your report to the
superintendent of the county.
B: You did not see this man very often?
B: Were you responsible for the hiring and firing of teachers?
W: No, that was entirely for the superintendent of the county.
B: How many years were you supervisor and jeans teacher?
B: Or total.
W: I call that all in one, four years.
B: And after that period, what did you begin doing then?
W: Well, I went to school.
B: You went back to school to get another degree?
B: What was this degree for?
W: My master's in religious education.
B: And where did you go to, please?
W: The Evans Theological Seminary and I also went to Atlanta University, and
I lacked two hours of getting my degree.
B: My goodness, don't you want to do it now? Don't you want to go and get
those two hours over with?
W: After I got my master's degree in religious education.
B: Mrs. Weeks why did you feel the need to go and get a master's degree?
W: My husband was going to Atlanta University and he was gong to Gammon
Theological Seminary, and God called him to preach. So he said, "Well, I
am going to study more about the ministry and how to deliver God's message
and how to treat people as a congregation and as an individual and as a
group also." He used to sit down and tell me a number of things, but I
did not know what he was talking about, so I had to go and find out what
all of it was about.
B: What was your husband's name please?
W: Reverend Samuel Marion Weeks, Sr.
B: When did you marry Reverend Weeks?
W: In 1939.
B: How did you meet this gentleman?
W: I was down in Stuart teaching and that was his home, and we used to see
one another at church. I met him at church one day, and so he asked me if
I was the supervisor, the jeans teacher there, and I told him, "Yes," so
we started talking. So I went on home and he went on home, and he said,
"I hope you enjoy it." I said, "I hope so." So, another time we saw one
another at a meeting. He attended most meetings of the whole county.
That is what he would do.
B: Did you have a wedding?
W: No, we were just married in the courthouse.
B: You mentioned you were in Atlanta. How did you get from Stuart to
W: I got on the train and left.
B: Did he go there to be a minister, or did he go there to go to school?
W: He went there to go to school. He finished Clark College and he was going
to Gammon at the same time, but he lived on the Gammon campus?
B: Was he an AME, a CME, or what type of minister?
W: He was an ME.
B: Which is what now?
W: The United Methodist Church.
B: Did he pastor many churches?
W: Yes, he did. He pastored in St. Petersburg, and he left there and he went
to school from there to Boston University.
B: Were you with him at this time?
W: We went up, my son and I. He was a baby. So, he asked me to come home
because it was too cold for him. So, he stayed there and he got his
degree from Boston University in one year instead of getting it in two
B: This was his master's or doctorate in Theology.
B: So you became a minister's wife? Correct?
B: I have talked to one or two minister's wives. Was that a different type
of life to live? I have read where minister's wives were a part of
different churches, and you had to move a lot, and your home was the
property of the church. You lived in some other home. Did you find that
life interesting, different?
W: It was very interesting to meet people and to live that type of life. As
far as I go, I like people and especially small children. I make friends
with small children very quickly, and the smaller they are the more I like
B: Now after you married Mr. Weeks, he was a Reverend when you married him,
W: No, he was mister.
B: Did you stop teaching then?
B: How many years did you teach?
W: I taught around twenty-eight years total.
B: What was the grade that you taught the most?
W: First grade.
B: So you liked the little children.
B: You read a lot about children not being able to read and write. Were you
able to impart basic skills to those young minds?
W: I have taught children who could not speak, could not talk. I had two
children one year that could not speak. They could make sounds but they
could not speak. But after, and this was in Atlanta and the city system,
after I taught, I heard their voices and they gave me supplies. When
school was over those children could talk better than I am talking now,
those two girls.
B: Can you give me the names of the different schools that you have taught
in, two or three of them? You mentioned Atlanta, Stuart, Alachua County.
W: Lincoln High, Macclenny Elementary School, West Palm Beach High School,
Williams Elementary School in Atlanta, Atpro Park Elementary School in
Atlanta and in the city system. I retired from there.
B: As a supervisor during the time when the system was negro and white and
having to make notes of the supplies that were received or what the
teachers had, did you ever question if your teachers were getting the fair
share of what they should have had?
W: Well, we questioned that. The reason I said we, I was talking about my
husband. My husband is the man that caused the Board of Education here in
Alachua County to give the negro children dental service as they were
giving it to white people. And usually the Board of Education was very
nice to him. They would not hardly meet if they were going to have a
special meeting without him coming. If they said, "We are going to meet
Thursday night or Tuesday night. Can you be there?" And if he said, "I
cannot be there," then the person would ask him, "Can you come Thursday
night?" He said, "Let me look on my agenda. What time Thursday night?
Yes, I can be there Thursday night." They were very nice to him. The
people in this town were very nice to him.
B: So, you came back to Gainesville and lived for a period of time?
W: We came here and lived. He was pastor of Mt. Pleasant Methodist Church.
B: Your husband was?
B: What years were these?
W: 1955, 1956. We left here in 1956.
B: And where did you go then?
W: We went to Birmingham, Alabama, and he became the secretary of the
American Bible Society of New York in Birmingham, Alabama.
B: So you were married to a very prominent AME minister?
W: I would not say a prominent one. I will say it like he said it. He was a
prominent all-church man. When he would go to different church meetings,
sanctified church meetings, big gatherings, he would go there, have his
display, and they would say, "Are you sanctified?" He would say, "Yes, I
am sanctified." "Are you an AME?" He said, "Yes, I am an AME." He said,
"Because God is in all of these churches and that is me."
B: As a jeans teacher, did you ever put in requests for supplies and were not
able to get them because it was a negro school?
W: No, I did not have that trouble.
B: Did you ever think that it would get to the place where you had black and
white children going to school together and black and white teachers
B: You did think it would happen? Why did you think that?
W: I thought that because they had the majority of the workers, the president
and the supervisors and whatnot were white. And the negro was advancing,
and they were giving the negroes opportunities to come in, and the negro
began to know that they had to tell them what they needed in order to get
it. Because I cannot get what I want unless I tell you. So, the negro
began to know that he had to open his mouth and tell them. But, I may be
dead and gone, but they are going to move all of us from here and push us
B: You think that?
W: I believe it. My husband told me that when they opened this police
station down there.
B: When they first built the police station there? What did he tell you?
This is the police station that is on Sixth Street between Seventh Avenue
and Eighth Avenue.
W: He told me they are going to take this whole side for the university.
B: Was that many years ago?
W: It was in 1955 and 1956.
B: Was Mt. Pleasant the church then that it is now when he was the pastor
W: No, it can't be.
B: What do you mean?
W: I mean that the people are different.
W: Times are different and times brings about change.
B: Was there a large congregation?
W: Not too large a congregation.
B: Is there any part of the church that is there now that was not there when
he was pastor of that main part of the building?
W: Those doors that close, they were there. My husband was the one to cut
that part off and make the office over there.
B: And so that was not an office there. He just decided to add that?
W: Yes. But to close that up there, to close the doors.
B: What you are talking about now is the Sunday School part.
B: Do you recall how you felt coming back to Gainesville, being raised here,
and coming back and being the pastor's wife at Mt. Pleasant?
W: I felt good. You know, I am this way. If I would like to do something
for someone, I like to come back and help someone that helped me. And
these people here in Gainesville had helped me when I was small, and I was
glad to come back and help some of their children.
B: Were you a member of Mt. Pleasant?
W: No. I was a member of what they called Old Mt. Carmel.
B: So that is where your family were members?
W: Right there.
B: Well, do you recall that church when it was on the other side?
W: It was in the center of the street, a wooden church.
B: Now, where was the street located, on what side?
W: Well, you had to go straight up to the church like this and go that way.
B: I never heard that until right now.
W: And they had a bell on the top of the church.
B: Was it a two-story building?
W: No, one-story, as far as I can remember. I was a kid.
B: I have heard that Pleasant Street was the street where most of the
businesses were loated for blacks, and that Seminary Lane was not the
street that it is today. It was a better quality street. Is that true?
W: Yes, as far as I know. But see, I did not go out at night, and I did not
go out too much in the day.
W: Because I had my work to do. I had my studying to do. What I am saying,
just to get out in the street togo, I would visit my friends and whatnot,
but I did not stay too long. I was a person that had to come home and do
my work. I had to do my studying. Because my sister did not have the
money to put me through school another year. See, that came up in me.
B: So, you lived a life that you knew that you had to do certain things, and
you were just busy about doing them? Would Mrs. Weeks go back into the
school system today if she had to, if you could turn back the clock?
W: I would go right straight back into the school system.
B: And what grade would you have?
W: I would leave the elementary school, and I would go to the high school or
the problem children.
W: Because they don't have the parents that we had years ago. Where your
mother was going to put you out and tell you to take your things and go.
Well, my sister packed my bags and told me I could go home with those
girls, and I knew to stay home.
B: So you think you could help those children now?
W: I believe I could help those children. What I really would like to have,
this is what I really would like to have, I would like to give my time,
maybe an hour or an hour and a half to young parents and parents to teach
them how to be a good parent to their children, and not say and do awful
things in front of their children or nobody's child. When I was coming up
with my sister and her husband, and we were coming from church, she told
me, "If we meet some friends and stop to talk, you two walk as far as you
can that you cannot hear our voices and stop and wait on us."
B: She told you that?
W: We had to do it.
B: And I was also told that children were not able to sit in the presence of
adults when they were talking. They just knew they weren't there.
W: That is right, and I do not talk in front of children today. And I can
tell every one of my children that I have to talk to, you know how? I
have taught them when they talk to anyone, look them straight in the eyes,
don't look down and don't look up.
B: Were you a stern teacher?
W: I was a homemade teacher.
B: What do you mean by that?
W: I wanted the child to feel like the child was home with his mother or his
aunt or some relative. I did not want them to feel that I was a person
that had a stick over them.
B: Well, you always hear that the first graders are a difficult grade because
they are leaving home and they have been momma's and daddy's baby for the
last five years and it was difficult to train them. Is that true with
W: In a way yes, and then in a way no. If you make yourself one of them and
they feel at ease with you, they are good.
B: So you never had a problem?
W: I have had problems. Everybody has.
B: This is a very biased question, but I would like to get your opinion.
Were you an excellent teacher for the time you taught?
W: I could have been better. I was an excellent teacher. I was. I would
not say excellent, I would say I was just a mild teacher that tried to do
her best with what she had and what she knew.
B: A few moments ago you mentioned your son. What is your son's name please?
W: Sammy Marion Weeks, Jr.
B: What is he doing now?
W: He is a doctor. He is an MD, a pediatrician.
B: And where is he practicing?
W: He is practicing in Lexington, Kentucky.
B: Do you think he will come to Gaineville to work?
W: If it is God's will he will.
B: Do you want him to come here?
B: That would be the fourth generation of the Bradleys in Gainesville.
W: I guess it would.
B: And grandchildren?
W: Sure, two. Two granddaughters.
B: Being a pastor's wife, did you have to take on responsibilities in the
church? Over the years what were some fo those roles that Mrs. Weeks, the
wife of Reverend Weeks, played in the different churches?
W: I did the part that the members asked me to do. But I was not the
pastor's wife that tried to take the leadership from all of the women,
because I was the pastor's wife. I was the pastor's wife that was there
to follow the members. I let the members take the leadership and let me
B: And did you keep that philosophy all the way through the years that you
were the wife?
W: All through the years. I still hear from the American Bible Society.
B: What is that?
W: That is an organization that sells Bibles. I gave Mt. Carmel, the old Mt.
Carmel, ten Bibles from the American Bible Society. I paid twenty dollars
for them. I gave Mt. Pleasant twenty Bibles, and that was a gift that I
gave them from the Weeks family.
B: Your husband was the secretary of this organization for how many years?
W: Three and a half years before he passed.
B: Approximately how many years was Reverend Weeks a pastor in general?
W: I would say about twelve or fourteen years, along in there. It may be a
little more than that. But, see, he also was the chaplain at Clark
B: Is that where you spent most of your life, in Atlanta?
W: He was chaplain of Clark College after he finished at Boston University.
Then the mission board assigned him to churches in Florida.
B: Did you ever object to any of the changes your husband was doing as a
B: You were ready to move, go?
W: Ready to go.
B: Did they make it difficult to raise a family?
W: Not at all. People were so good, very nice.
B: They just readily accepted you?
B: When you came back to Gainesville as the wife of Reverend Weeks, who was a
pastor of Mt. Pleasant Methodist Church, did you live at the parsonage?
W: Yes. We did not live in the stone, brick house. We lived in a two-story
B: Back to Mrs. Rizor now. We have talked about Mrs. Weeks, and she
mentioned to me that she came back to Gainesville as the wife of the
pastor of Mt. Pleasant. Were you still here then?
R: No, I was in Philadelphia.
B: You did not tell me that you left Gainesville. When did you leave?
R: I left Gainesville in 1940.
B: In the 1940s. And how long were you gone?
R: Thirty-five years.
B: Where did you go?
B: Did you like it there?
R: Oh, yes. I am going there to visit next month. I am going to church and
I am going to surprise everyone.
B: I think you should go if you can. That will be a delightful pleasure for
R: They have been down here, last year.
B: What was one major difference between Florida, South, and Philadelphia,
R: The difference between black and white.
B: That different.
R: That is right. They are so nice there. And even our own color are so
nice to everybody. If I was going to church and taking someone and said
that this is a friend of mine, as soon as church was out, people would be
around just like this. Oh, they were so friendly and welcoming there
saying, "Come back and see us again." I mean, the members.
B: What got you to go to Philadelphia? Why did you leave Florida?
R: Oh, well, that's my husband tale. I thought I would just go.
B: Did you have family there?
R: I knew a friend there. Do you know Melissa Thomas, back of the old Mt.
R: Well, I went to see her. She went there and her mother was living at that
B: And you went to see your friend, and were there thirty-five years. Why
did you come back to Florida?
R: Well, Melba was here, my sister Melba. She was taking care of the house.
B: Well, you have had an interesting life. You have seen both day and night.
R: Yes, I have. I certainly have.
B: Has Gainesville changed that much since you came back?
R: Quite a bit.
B: If you had to do it again would you go back to Philadelphia and live?
R: Yes, and live.
B: You liked it that much?
R: Yes, people were so friendly. People are different there. Even the next
door neighbors are friendly.
B: I have heard that before. Mrs. Weeks, when did you move back to
W: In 1979.
B: Back to the home that you lived in and were raised in? How did you feel
coming back here after being away for so many years?
W: I felt very good, because I could help my sisters. And my sister was ill
in the hospital. I could at least hand her a glass of water, I could do
her clothes, I could do any number of things for her. I could go out
there and help feed her.
B: Do you fell good being back in Gainesville knowing people that you have
known and been raised up with?
W: Yes, indeed. Some of them speak and some of them don't. It is okay. I
do not pay them any attention. They have their minds on something else,
and perhaps sometimes they do not see me.
B: That is a good point of view.
W: I don't feel bad towards them at all, because I can pass one sometime and
I may be thinking about something else, and I don't speak.
B: That is true.
W: That is like a lady asked me in Winn Dixie one day. I said, "How do you
do? She said, "I am fine, and you?" I said, "I am fine." She said,
"Do I know you?" I said, "I don't know whether you do or not, but I speak
to everybody." And she said, "And what is your name?" And I told her and
she told me her name. She said, "Well, that is a good way to be." And I
said, "Well, I love speaking to people. I just love people."
B: How many years had you gone away from Gainesville before you came back?
W: I guess twenty-two or twenty-three years, something like that.
B: Has this neighborhood changed from the time when you left here?
W: Quite a bit. This was a neighborhood where we could leave the doors open
at night if you wanted to and go to sleep. But now, you have got to plug
up every hole.
B: Mrs. Rizor, has Mt. Carmel Church, the old Mt. Carmel that is on Fifth
Avenue and Third, has that church always been right where it is now?
R: No, it was right in front of that big two-story house. See, Mt. Carmel
used to sit right in the middle of Seminary Street, and you had to go
around a little bit to get on the street.
B: So it sat in the middle of the street. Which way was it facing? Was it
R: That is right.
B: Was that a brick building?
R: No, it was not all brick. It was boards.
B: Was it a two-story building?
R: No, one-story.
B: And when did they move that and put it on the side? Were you a part of
the church when they moved the church?
R: I was here when they fixed the foundation. Where we are now, that is what
they were building when I left here.
B: What year was that?
R: I do not know what year that was. It was in the 1940s.
B: Do you recall who the pastor was at that time?
R: I cannot think of him.
B: Were you a member of Mt. Carmel all of your life?
R: All my life.
B: So you have actually seen Mt. Carmel go from being in the center of the
street to where it is now, and it has been there for years?
R: Yes. When I lived here they had got the foundation and all fixed, and
also they were having, things that they were selling. We were going to
have clean brick to use in the church.
B: Clean bricks for the church.
R: Yes, that was a long time ago, before I lived here.
B: Do you feel that you are here to stay now? Do you plan to leave here and
go anywhere else to stay?
R: I would like to. I like Philadelphia.
B: But you are home, this is home.
B: One point I want to get before I leave, and I have enjoyed talking to both
you and your sister. You have shared some important things with me, but I
want to get two statements from you. You have raised your sister. You
said your mother told you something to do and you did that, and I think
you have seen the very best of her. What would you say to a young person
that might listen to this tape in the next ten years to have a good life
that you have had. What would you tell them to do to have that kind of
R: Be obedient to your parents and do the right things. Do not go out there
with that rowdy crowd and stay there. And just be yourself, and don't let
anybody pull you off of what you want. I do not think that is right to do
that. Do things that are right. The older people who are raising you,
your mother or your father, try to live the life they did.
B: Thank you. And Mrs. Weeks, if you had to share something with a young
mind coming up, and I assume that your life has been fulfilled as a
minister's wife and being raised by your sister, what would you share with
them or tell them?
W: The first thing I would tell them to be obedient, serve God, pray, have
the belief, have faith in everything you do, have that faith in Jesus
Christ and believe, and have that belief. You have got to have that
belief, and for God's sake have the Holy Ghost with you, and treat
everybody right that you can treat right. And when a person says
something to you and it is not becoming, and you think it is wrong thing
the person should say, that person may not mean it the way that you are
taking it. Try to take it the best way of all and treat everybody right.
Give a helping hand to these young parents and try to tell them how to
live and how to treat their children, and not to say things in front of
children that they should not speak or do.
B: Is there anything I have not asked that I need to ask?
B: Do you want me to leave? I have enjoyed it. Thank you so kindly.
W: I always have thought you were a nice person.
B: Well, thank you. Pray for me now.