Interview with Helen Edwards, August 18, 1997

Material Information

Interview with Helen Edwards, August 18, 1997
Edwards, Helen ( Interviewee )
Publication Date:


Subjects / Keywords:
African Americans -- Florida
Overtown Oral History Collection ( local )
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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.

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Source Institution:
University of Florida <a href="">Samuel Proctor Oral History Program</a>
Holding Location:
This interview is part of the 'Overtown Collection' collection of interviews held by the <a href="">Samuel Proctor Oral History Program</a> of the <a href="">Department of History</a> at the University of Florida
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August 18, 1997

(Mrs. Electra R. Ford): Electra R. Ford at the home of Helen

Edwards. Mrs. Edwards live at 1600 Northwest Fourth Avenue,

Apartment 16D Overtown. She has lived in this area for

approximately 40 years. Today is Monday, August 18, 1997. It is

now approximately 11:00 a.m. I will be interviewing Mrs. Edwards,

a resident. This is Side A of the Tape. The first set of questions

I will be pre-interview questions regarding personal residential

history in Overtown.

Mrs. Edwards, where and when were you born?

(Mrs. Helen Edward): Cherokee County, Lewisville, Georgia.

(Mrs. Ford): Mrs. Edwards what is your address where you live


(Mrs. Edward): 1600 Northwest Fourth Ave...right here? 1600

Northwest Fourth Avenue, 16D.

(Mrs. Ford): Mrs. Edwards, how long have you lived at this


(Mrs. Edward): I guess about 22 years. It might have been

longer than that but I knows it's 22.

(Mrs. Ford): Can you please tell me what places have you

lived since 1960? Did you live anywhere else since 1960?

(Mrs. Edward): No, no.

(Mrs. Ford): Ah, what years did you live in Overtown?

(Mrs. Edward): Second Avenue, that would be now.

(Mrs. Ford): Mrs. Edwards did you own a business in Overtown?


(Mrs. Edward): Own what?

(Mrs. Ford): Did you ever own a business in Overtown?

(Mrs. Edward): No, no.

(Mrs. Ford): Did you change your address because of 1-95, I-

395 or public housing project or an Urban Renewal project?

(Mrs. Edward): No.

(Mrs. Ford): No. What your home or business taken under the

state...taken by the state under eminent domain? No.

(Mrs. Ford): The next set of questions that I will be asking

you, Mrs. Edwards will be regarding family life. Where were your

parent's born?

(Mrs. Edward): I don't know.

(Mrs. Ford): Did they ever at live Overtown?

(Mrs. Edward): Georgia, Georgia, no. My family lived


(Mrs. Ford): I will be asking the next set of questions

regarding employment from 1945 and 1970's. Mrs. Edwards when you

came to Miami, what type of work did you do?

(Mrs. Edward): House, ah house maid.

(Mrs. Ford): Okay, where were your jobs located that you

worked on?

(Mrs. Edward): On the Beach, I worked on the Beach.

(Mrs. Ford): What years did you have these jobs?

(Mrs. Edward):

(Mrs. Ford): What were your work hours?

(Mrs. Edward): Eight hours?


(Mrs. Ford): Can you tell me for the record what -time you

would go to work and what time you would get off?

(Mrs. Edward): 8:00 o'clock to 5:00.

(Mrs. Ford): How, how did ah you find these jobs?

(Mrs. Edward): Well, just sitting down talking with people

and they...

(Mrs. Ford): Through personal reference?

(Mrs. Edward): Umm hum.

(Mrs. Ford): Okay, what, what was your means of

transportation, how did you get to work?

(Mrs. Edward): On the bus.

(Mrs. Ford): On the public bus?

(Mrs. Edward): Yeah.

(Mrs. Ford): Do you remember what the bus fare was during

that, that time?

(Mrs. Edward): Ten cents.

(Mrs. Ford): Ten cents. Ah where did the other members in

your family work during that time?

(Mrs. Edward): I don't know.

(Mrs. Ford): Beginning in the late 1950's many immigrants

moved to Miami from the Caribbean including Cuba, Haiti and other

countries. Did those immigrants compete with Overtown residents

for jobs?

(Mrs. Edward): I don't know that either.

(Mrs. Ford): You don't know. Mrs. Edwards the next set of

questions I will interview you about will be regarding neighborhood


life between 1945 and 1970. Could you describe your place of

residence where you lived Overtown?

(Mrs. Edward): When I lived on Eleventh Terrace?

(Mrs. Ford): Yes, could you tell us about the house that you

lived in.

(Mrs. Edward): How was it?

(Mrs. Ford): Yeah, how was it?

(Mrs. Edward): It was nice.

(Mrs. Ford): Was it a house or an apartment?

(Mrs. Edward): Apartment.

(Mrs. Ford): Okay, how many bedrooms did your apartment have?

(Mrs. Edward): In the one I lived in then had one bedroom,

one little kitchen and a living room.

(Mrs. Ford): Okay, were you married at the time?

(Mrs. Edward): No.

(Mrs. Ford): Just you. Could you describe the street where

you lived. Tell us a little something about the street where you

lived, what kind of activities went on the neighborhood?

(Mrs. Edward): It was very good, very nice, I lived on

Eleventh Terrace.

(Mrs. Ford): Who were your neighbors? Can you remember any

of your neighbors?

(Mrs. Edward): Sure can't cause they been dead so long I done

forgot them.

(Mrs. Ford): You remember where any of your neighbors worked?

(Mrs. Ford): Ah when, when did your neighbors leave that


particular area, on Eleventh Terrace, can you remember?

(Mrs. Edward): No ma'am.

(Mrs. Ford): Could remember any of the businesses that were

in the area in Overtown where you lived?

(Mrs. Edward): Where I lived, they had a little wash house on

the corner, that's about all...street.

(Mrs. Ford): Could you remember where you bought groceries?

(Mrs. Edward): You would have to go here, yon and everywhere

to go buy groceries where they was cheap.

(Mrs. Ford): Okay did you go to the, to the beauty shop?

(Mrs. Edward): No ma'am.

(Mrs. Ford): You did your own hair? Yes.

(Mrs. Ford): Could you describe where you went to the

drugstore if you needed anything from the drugstore?

(Mrs. Edward): Second...Northwest Second Avenue.

(Mrs. Ford): What was it, was it Eddy's Drugstore on Second

Avenue and Ninth Street.

(Mrs. Edward): Yes.

(Mrs. Ford): Yes? The interviewee is responding a positive


(Mrs. Ford): Could you describe where you took your clothes

to be dry cleaned?

(Mrs. Edward): I didn't.

(Mrs. Ford): Respondee is stating that she did not use that


(Mrs. Ford): Could you describe the churches where you


attended church?

(Mrs. Edward): Yes, what was the name of that church? It was

so long ago...

(Mrs. Ford): Was it Mt. Zion, was...

(Mrs. Edward): Mt. Zion.

(Mrs. Ford): Mt. Zion. Were you a member at Mt. Zion?

(Mrs. Edward): Yes.

(Mrs. Ford): And this church is located on Northwest Ninth

Street and Third Avenue.

(Mrs. Edward): Yes, umm hum.

(Mrs. Ford): Yes. Can you recall who was the pastor at that


(Mrs. Ford): Respondee does not remember who was the pastor

at the time.

(Mrs. Ford): Could you tell us for the record where you went

for entertainment or did you go to any entertainment when?

(Mrs. Edward): I didn't go to the...

(Mrs. Ford): Ah did you go to any theaters?

(Mrs. Edward): No.

(Mrs. Ford): No bars?

(Mrs. Edward): No.

(Mrs. Ford): No restaurants?

(Mrs. Edward): No.

(Mrs. Ford): No kind of sports events?

(Mrs. Edward): I did not.

(Mrs. Ford): Respondee was not a participant in any type of


ah entertainment activities.

(Mrs. Ford): When someone in your family got sick, where did

you go to the doctor's office? Do you remember the doctor that

took care of you if you got sick?

(Mrs. Edward): Yeah, oh Lord, I don't remember.

(Mrs. Ford): Respondee responds that she does not recall.

(Mrs. Ford): How long did you patronize the businesses in

Overtown where you lived?

(Mrs. Edward): All the while I was there, how many years?

(Mrs. Ford): When did you begin to shop or go to

entertainment outside of Overtown? Can you remember when you first

began to shop perhaps downtown or anywhere else other than


(Mrs. Edwards): No.

(Mrs. Ford): Respondee does not recall.

(Mrs. Ford): During the period from 1945 to 1970, what were

the main things that made Overtown a community? Can you remember

any of the great things about Overtown when, ah you first moved to


(Mrs. Edward): Well no.

because I was gone away (OR GONE TO WORK).

(Mrs. Ford): How and when did that sense of community change?

(Mrs. Edward): Interviewee does not recall.

(Mrs. Ford): Do you remember how Overtown has changed since

1970? Is there a difference in Overtown now and when you first

moved to Overtown?


(Mrs. Edward): Yes, it's much different.

(Mrs. Ford): How is it different ah Mrs. Edwards?

(Mrs. Edward): Well, they done built new places and just done

tore up and build so many different houses, you know.

(Mrs. Ford): What about the relationship with the neighbors,

is it better, worse?

(Mrs. Edward): I don't know about that now?

(Mrs. Ford): Were you friendly with neighbors?

(Mrs. Edward): Yes.

(Mrs. Ford): Were they good to you as a neighbor?

(Mrs. Edward): Where I was, it was nice people.

(Mrs. Ford): And how would you compare that to the neighbors

where you are now?

(Mrs. Edward): About the same.

(Mrs. Ford): Did some of the neighbors come and see about


(Mrs. Edward): I wasn't a visitor and I didn't have no

visitors. One lady stayed to my house.

(Mrs. Ford): Okay, ah, Mrs. Edwards I want to ask you about

some places in Overtown and maybe you can remember them. Do you

remember when you use to have the Orange Blossom Classic Overtown?

(Mrs. Ford): You don't remember the Orange Blossom Classic?

(Mrs. Ford): Do you remember when the Junketnews and the

Shepherds use to have a parade Overtown?

(Mrs. Edwards): No.

(Mrs. Ford): Do you remember the Lyric Theater and the


activities that they had at the Lyric Theater?

(Mrs. Edward): Yeah, I heard of it. I never went to it.

(Mrs. Ford): Un hun but do you know what they did at the

Lyric Theater?

(Mrs. Edward): No.

(Mrs. Ford): Do you remember anything about Good Bread Alley

and what it was like?

(Mrs. Edward): Good Bread Alley?

(Mrs. Ford): Yes.

(Mrs. Edward): Just heard of it, said it was a bad place.

Homeless persons.

(Mrs. Ford): What memories are recalled as you remember

family gatherings with other relatives that visited you who did not

live in the home?

(Mrs. Ford): No visitors. Okay. Do you remember any hotels

that were in the area? Such as Lord Calvert also known as the Sir

John Hotel? Do you remember anything or hearing about those?

(Mrs. Edward): I heard of it, I never visited it.

(Mrs. Ford): Okay did ypu ever hear about the Dorsey Hotel?

(Mrs. Edward): I did.

(Mrs. Ford): Ah, you ever hear about the Carver Hotel? The

Carver Hotel was located on Northwest Ninth Street and Third Avenue

right across from Mt. Zion Church? You remember the Mary Elizabeth


(Mrs. Edward): Yeah.

(Mrs. Ford): Did you ever attend any of the festivals that


they had there?

(Mrs. Edward): No.

(Mrs. Ford): No. Do you remember Dr. T. L. Lowery?

(Mrs. Edward): No I don't.

(Mrs. Ford): Do you remember Dr. Sawyer?

(Mrs. Edward): Yeah.

(Mrs. Ford): Did you go to him to be treated?

(Mrs. Edward): No.

(Mrs. Ford): Do you remember Dr. C.M. Smith?

(Mrs. Edward): No.

(Mrs. Ford): Do you remember Dr. Ward from Economy Store?

(Mrs. Edward): I heard of him, yeah I have shopped in his


(Mrs. Ford): You have shopped at his, at his drugstore?

Okay, in conclusion I want to ask you some questions, Mrs. Edwards

about the future of Overtown. What do you think are the most

misunderstood-things about Overtown?

(Mrs. Edward): I tell you the truth, lady, I don't go no

where, I don't know where nothing is hardly here. As long as I

been here.

(Mrs. Ford): What do you think the ah public officials

downtown need to know about Overtown?

(Mrs. Edward): I don't know how to answer that question


(Mrs. Ford): What should be done to improve Overtown areas?

Do you think the transportation can be improved?


(Mrs. Edward): Maybe so. I don't know.

(Mrs. Ford): What about the tourist attraction, do you think

Overtown will benefit from tourist attractions?

(Mrs. Edward): I don't know how to answer that one either.

(Mrs. Ford): Do you think Overtown can benefit from job

development programs?

(Mrs. Edward): Maybe.

(Mrs. Ford): Do you think Overtown can benefit from

beautification programs to make the area look for attractive and


(Mrs. Edward): Yes.

(Mrs. Ford): Do you ever have visitors from out of tawn?

(Mrs. Edward): No.

(Mrs. Ford): No. Could you describe in your own words what

kind of community you would like Overtown to be in the future?

(Mrs. Edward): Well it could be better.

(Mrs. Ford): How would you consider Overtown being better?

What things do you think would contribute to Overtown being better,

what things do you think would contribute to Qvertown being a

better place to live?

(Mrs. Edward): To tell you the truth, I don't know how to

answer that either. So much going

(Mrs. Ford): This concludes our interview with Mrs. Edwards.

For the records I'd like to ah note that Mrs. Edwards is a 97 year

old senior citizen. She does not recollect a number of things

concerning her years in Overtown, however, she states that she was


a loner, she did not do-much entertaining, of venturing into social

activities. She mainly refers to work and she states, for the

record, that she did domestic work on Miami Beach and that was

perhaps ah other than attending church at Mt. Zion was the fullest

extent of her social activities.

I want to thank you Mrs. Helen Edwards for this interview. I

appreciate your taking the time to add to Tell The Store, regarding

Overtown. God Bless you.

This interview has occurred in the home of Mrs. Helen Edwards

at 1600 Northwest Fourth Avenue, Apartment 16D. My name is Electra

R. Ford, the interviewer. Today is August 18, 1997. This

interview in its entirety is on Side A.