Interview with Dorothy Graham, August 5, 1997

Material Information

Interview with Dorothy Graham, August 5, 1997
Stephanie Wanza ( Interviewer )
Graham, Dorothy ( Interviewee )
Publication Date:


Subjects / Keywords:
Overtown (Miami, Fla.)
African Americans -- Florida -- Miami—History
Overtown Oral History Collection ( local )
Spatial Coverage:
Miami-Dade County (Fla.) -- History.
Overtown (Fla.) -- History


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
Holding Location:
This interview is part of the 'Overtown Collection' collection of interviews held by the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program at the University of Florida
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Made available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 4.0 International license:
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4jooc IJ2-' O-

August 5, 1997

(Ms. Stephanie Wanza): This is Stephanie Wanza I will be

interviewing Mrs. Dorothy Graham. Today's date is August 5, 1997

and we are here at the Culmer Center.

The first set of questions I will be asking are regarding

family life. Okay, Mrs. Graham, where were your parents born?

(Mrs. Dorothy Graham): My parents were born in the Bahamas.

(Ms. Wanza): Did they ever live in Overtown?

(Mrs. Graham): Yes.

(Ms. Wanza): What years did they live in Overtown?

(Mrs. Graham): I suppose from about 1910 until the bought

property up in what was known as Liberty City, that's a part of

Overtown and first I think that was...I don't remember the name,

Grant, Grant Avenue, I think it was the name of the street. Anyway

that was Fifteenth Street and Fifth Place, what it was finally but

it had a different name when I was very young and that was where

they brought their property did come in. My aunts

and uncle brought property closer to Twentieth Street.

(Ms. Wanza): What years did they live in Overtown?

(Mrs. Graham): From 1910, when they came here, they came from

the Bahamas, some of the did and the others came from Tampa area.

They settled around what became Third Avenue and Ninth and Tenth

Street and then they moved further north when property became

available because many people lived now in that southern area

because there was no property available and then they did buy

property after that around Fifteenth Street and Fifth Place and

Fifth Court and Sixth Avenue, that was a little below Fourteenth

Street, that was where they settled and they stayed there and

bought property and lived on the property that they bought until I-

95 was ready to come through and we all were asked to...I don't

remember the first year but I do know that we had to leave from

there...all the families. It's just like loosing the property

because they gave you enough...we had a two story house, twelve

rooms three baths and they gave enough for that. Almost enough to

buy two lots and a house where I live now, not to buy it but to get

into it.

(Ms. Wanza): What sought of jobs did they have?

(Mrs. Graham): One uncle was a railroad man. He ran from Key

West to Fort Pierce and then he died but then another uncle was a

bricklayer and a mason and we had an uncle that's a painter, that's

around us still.

(Ms. Wanza): Where were your grandparents born?

(Mrs. Graham): Bahamas.

(Ms. Wanza): Did they ever live in Overtown?

(Mrs. Graham): My grandmother did, my grandfather passed

before...well that was why my grandmother moved to Miami and to

Tampa because my grandfather passed.

(Ms. Wanza): Did they ever live in Overtown?

(Ms. Wanza): Did your grandparents ever live in Overtown?

(Mrs. Graham): My grandmother.

(Ms. Wanza): What years did she live in Overtown?


(Mrs. Graham): From 1910, when she came here until she

passed, she passed I imagine in the 30's. She passed about 1935,

I think, somewhere in the neighborhood.

(Ms. Wanza): What sought of jobs did they have?

(Mrs. Graham): My grandmother?

(Ms. Wanza): Yes.

(Mrs. Graham): She did not work. My grandfather had property

in the Bahamas and that sustained my grandmother here. Folks would

come over and bring the money. would bring money for

her to live on and then my uncle...I said my uncles, well my father

and my uncle they were railroad men, my one...the other uncle was

a painter and then the other one was a bricklayer and a mason.

They were not say construction workers

(Ms. Wanza): Could you describe what it was like growing up

in your parents' household?

(Mrs. Graham): Well I was an only (laughter)...there

wasn' did exactly as you were asked to do and I had a

pleasant childhood I would think because...well you went to

everything that went on in town and you had concerts and church

programs, school programs and everybody attended so you went

because everybody dressed up and they went. Saturday I think were

special days because your work had to be finished by 12:00 noon,

you had to have had your bath, changed your clothes and ready to

spend the afternoon with relatives who came in and everybody

gathered at my house because that was my grandmother's house and

all of her children and her grandchildren came there and there was


a piano and Saturday afternoons there was singing with the cousins

and the older people, my mother's crowd with her sisters and

brothers, they gathered in the kitchen and in the dining room, they

had what they called Saturday night, that was special food. That

was either barbecue or pigs feet and homemade bread that my

grandmother made and just had a good time saturday. Sunday, of

course, you went to church, you went to mass two times a day,

Sunday school and Sunday afternoon, Sunday school in the morning.

Sometimes you went to 7:00 mass, usually you went to 11:00 and you

participated on programs that the church or the school sponsored

and their were people in the neighborhood who were friends to my

grandmother and whenever you went out in the evening most of the

people in my neighborhood, the women were widows. We didn't have

too many men, most of them were widows and, I know my grandmother

had one friend, Mrs. Simon and she had ran a laundry, a hand

laundry but ah sometimes my grandmother helped her with the ironing

because many people did laundry and they got their bundles from

Miami Beach and they were small and person would pick

them up early in the morning and they brought them in and different

people got those bundles and they ready to go back by 5:00 in the

afternoon so during the "season" that was quite a good

income...quite a good income. I don't know what else we did

besides...well I had one aunt who gave music lessons and she also

played for the popular orchestra at that time, dance orchestra.

(Ms. Wanza): The next set of questions are regarding

employment between 1945 and 1970, can you describe the types of


jobs you that had?

(Mrs. Graham): I taught school. I was not...was I living

here in '45? No. My family was living here but I lived in Kansas

City and in New York City and I taught school in New York City, I

taught school in Kansas City and I took care of the expenses of my

household here because my mother was my dependent. I don't...My

mother worked as a maid and a cook for the McDonalds, the ah...who

else? I've forgotten their names now but I always thought the most

interesting thing about them was that mother worked for them as a

cook and then her grandson comes along and my son and goes to

school with their grandchildren which has always meant to

was private school, it was not a public school but it has always

meant, only in America do you do things like that, you know but I

don't know what else...what other work they did.

(Ms. Wanza): Where were those jobs? I know you just said,

one was in Kansas City, one was in New York.

(Mrs. Graham): My jobs?

(Ms. Wanza): Um hum...New York.

(Mrs. Graham): Kansas City and New York. My mother worked for

the Roms, the McDonalds, and the Rileys, that was one family.

(Ms. Wanza): When in Overtown between those years, did you

work in Overtown?

(Mrs. Graham): I came down here in fifty...ummm...what year

is this '94? Take...this is '97, take 40 from 97 and that leaves

what year?

(Ms. Wanza): Forty from ninety-seven...57.


(Mrs. Graham): Okay, I came down in '57 and I began working

first at...first at Phyllis Wheatley and then I worked at the

yes but before that time I had only worked...I

worked in New York and in Tallahassee. I was a supervisor for the

State out of Tallahassee.

(Ms. Wanza): What kind of hours did you work?

(Mrs. Graham): To make ends meet?

(Ms. Wanza): Um hum.

(Mrs. Graham): When I came here I worked because I came here

as a single parent and I worked year round, two jobs. I worked in

the adult program in the evening and I worked in the regular school

program during the day and then during the summer I worked with the

summer program, then I was working down at Silver Oaks during the

summer months for and that was how I knew,

that the streets were all dug up going south because I had to

travel those streets going south.

(Ms. Wanza): When and why did you leave those jobs?

(Mrs. Graham): Which jobs?

(Ms. Wanza): The jobs down here for the school board, when

you were living in Overtown.

(Mrs. Graham): I retired.

(Ms. Wanza): You retired?

(Mrs. Graham): I didn't retire while living in Overtown. I

retired after, well after I moved.

(Ms. Wanza): How did you find work?

(Mrs. Graham): How did I find work? Well the school board,


you just went down and applied and they asked for you

send your credentials and I got my credentials from Kansas and New

York City and that was all. There was no problem at all.

(Ms. Wanza): Where did the other members of your family work?

(Mrs. Graham): It was only my aunt. My aunt at first, when

I was very little, she worked for Mrs. Powers' school, she taught

there. That was a little private school but it was all we had at

that time and the other aunt was at home, she had a whole bunch of

children so she stayed at home and then her husband was a

bricklayer so she stayed home. We did pianist work. Oh, I had one

aunt who worked for the district attorney or state's attorney, his

name is Evans, I don't remember his first name but I know that she

worked for him. She lived on premises much of the time but she

worked for the state's attorney.

(Ms. Wanza): Beginning in the late '50s many immigrants moved

to Miami from the Caribbean including Cuba, Haiti and other

countries. Did those immigrants compete with Overtown residents

for jobs?

(Mrs. Graham): Yes they did but as I see it most of the jobs

that they got, the jobs that were prepared to get, we didn't seem

to get ourselves ready to get a job, you know, we don't do enough

training. See I taught in evening schools and most of my students

were immigrants...most. Many of them were Latins, the thing that

saved me in teaching them, understanding them was that I had

training in teaching people who did not speak English even though

I didn't speak their language and I had no difficulty getting jobs


teaching the things that I taught. I taught home economic. Well

that's all hands on. If you don't speak, it doesn't matter because

you show, you perform and after a demonstration, they go ahead with

whatever you asked them to do but for all the years that I taught

in the evening schools you had about 3 Blacks, American Blacks and

15, 18 other people, who did not speak English and that always

disturbed me and they were always present. I didn't have to worry

about my enrollment but my own people, they always had an excuse

for not being there, you know its...I hate to admit it, it's true

and the same thing seems to be prevalent now. I have younger

friends who teach at Lindsey Hopkins, they teach at the other

schools and I ask them about their enrollment and they say no. The

Haitians come and the Latins come, they don't come. This is how I

feel, this is how we lose out. If you do not possess the skills

that are necessary then you can not expect to have work and what

we're going to do about it, I don't know.

(Ms. Wanza): Do you recall people moving into the area from

out of town, moving into Overtown from out of town?

(Mrs. Graham): Not where I lived. They...not, not where I

have lived most of the time.

(Ms. Wanza): Okay so you don't recall any people moving?


(Ms. Wanza): Do you recall any people moving into Overtown

from out of town? No.

(Mrs. Graham): When I lived Overtown, the neighborhoods were

pretty stable because I know folks would...who went to work


everyday because they had to go to work everyday and I can remember

my grandmother and my aunt making sure that the children that they

left were fed and parents didn't have to worry too much about

whether or not that child was going to get something to eat when he

came home from school at a certain time of day. You, you just did

and whatever they had, they shared with you even though they were

living in your building and they paid you rent, they did not have

to worry because they knew that you were going to look after their

children, see so they could go and do two jobs, come home much

later because they knew that you our neighborhoods were

pretty stable.

(Ms. Wanza): Alright the next set of questions are regarding

neighborhood life between 1945 and 1970. Could you describe your

place of residence?

(Mrs. Graham): Where I lived?

(Ms. Wanza): Umm hum.

(Mrs. Graham): 1945...

(Ms. Wanza): When you moved back down to Miami back into


(Mrs. Graham): Let's see, Mike was born in '48. I came down

in '46, I had been working in Kansas City and then New York City

and then this time I've got Mary and my mother insisted on my

having her first grandchild in his own house, not in a rent

apartment (laughter), that was why I came down and you ask me to do


(Ms. Wanza): Okay, could you describe your place of residence


around that time?

(Mrs. Graham): That was a two-story house and that was a

comfortable house. It was the house I had grown up in and it was

big and roomy and airy and that was my mother insisted that I come

back. We had a couple of fruit trees in the backyard and we had a

garden in the front and, you know hibiscus and things like that, a

front porch and a back porch.

(Ms. Wanza): Who lived in your household?

(Mrs. Graham): My mother, my grandmother until she passed.

(Ms. Wanza): Could you describe the street where you lived?

(Mrs. Graham): We had a fence around that house, we had...the

street was paved. There was no sidewalk. Everybody had front


(Ms. Wanza): Who were your neighbors?

(Mrs. Graham): Oh God, they're all dead. Dorothy Simon, No

Dorothy Newton, her grandmother's name was Simon. Lucille Reo, the

Barclays, the ah...O'Berry, Montclairs, Daisy Hyde. Did I say

Dorothy Newton? Dorothy Newton, we grew up together, she was

living there in her grandmother's house. The Calloways, oh, the

Braynons. It was so long ago, the Thomases, Lawson Thomas,

Braynons, I don't remember any other names now.

(Ms. Wanza): Okay, that's a lot of names. Do you know where

your neighbors worked?

(Mrs. Graham): Mrs. Simon ran her laundry, the Barclays had

a sundry store and the Barclays had a poolroom and

there was a pressing club on the corner, I think that was...I don't


remember his name. The man across the street, I forget his name,

I've forgotten.

(Ms. Wanza): What happened to those neighbors?

(Mrs. Graham): Scattered, looking for somewhere to live.

Several of them lived in rented units, they still had to find

somewhere to live and they moved north. They moved to wherever

they could find places, they looked for places they could purchase

so several of them moved to Opa Locka, some moved to...some moved

farther south to Richmond Heights if they had a, if they had

a... any kind of a service record, they were able to move to

Richmond Heights. Some moved to the Grove but most of them moved

to Opa Locka in that area.

(Ms. Wanza): When did they leave?

(Mrs. Graham): When they really had to get out. I left

almost as soon as they said we had to leave because I found out

that I would have to leave and I had a son who was 16, who would

soon be ready to go to college and I knew I could not handle

college and house notes all at the same time so I got out and

rented a house and my aunts...I left one aunt upstairs and ah...but

I found somewhere. There were three of us that shopped every

night. One went in different directions, we kept a little black

book and shared the information on what the building looked like

and how many rooms, how much it cost and thing so that sort until

I finally found a place through the bank, Dade Federal because I

went in there one morning and I spoke to one of the officers and I

told her that she needed to find me a house because we had dealt


with Dade Federal before it was Dade Federal and I felt that

people, the powers that be, could have stopped the people from

being uprooted the way we were being uprooted and she just gave me

a list of houses everywhere that I could look at and that's how I

found the house.

(Ms. Wanza): Okay, the next question is, where did they go,

where did your neighbors go? You answered that already, you said

they went to Opa Locka, Liberty City, down south.

(Mrs. Graham): Most of them went to Opa Locka.

(Ms. Wanza): Could you describe the main business areas you

went to in Overtown?

(Mrs. Graham): Well there was restaurants in the evening,

there was a movie house in the evening, the Lyric wasn't there

anymore when I came back, I don't think it was. There were eating

places along Second Avenue. There were furniture stores and of

course there was Mr. Love, the tailor that took care of my little

boy's clothing. Who else was there? There were places you could

party all night long if you wanted to and there were places where

you went dancing. There were a couple of hotels there where you

could go dancing and one had a swimming pool if you wanted go to a

splash party. There were places where youngsters got jobs every

summer, children who went to school away, they knew they had a job

when they came back because they were hired in the various places

along there. I don't remember any other of course

your doctors were along there.

(Ms. Wanza): Could you describe where your family bought



(Mrs. Graham): I bought...we bought groceries at the change

stores. We bought groceries at the Margaret Ann, we bought...and

there was also a bakery there. We bought groceries at the A&P.

When my mother and my aunts for the most part shopped on Friday and

Saturday mornings and they would all get in this big touring car.

One cousin was an undertaker and they would all get in this big

touring know what the big undertaking cars look like and

they would have their newspapers and would have checked off what

was on sale that weekend and they would go from one to the other.

I didn't' go with them. When I bought food I usually went way

down...when I bought meat, that was the main thing that I bought

and I would go way down to Red Road, there was a wholesale meat

place there and buy whatever was on sale at that time and then I

would put it in the freezer just as I do now. I found it was

easier for me to do it that way.

(Ms. Wanza): Could you describe where your family went to the

barber shop or beauty shop?

(Mrs. Graham): We went to the...Second Avenue was where you

went to the barber shop and ah, oh the guy lives in my neighborhood

now, cut my little boy's hair. The beauty shop that I went to

during those years was up on Seventeenth and...Seventeenth Street

and between Fifth Place and Sixth Avenue.

(Ms. Wanza): Could you describe where your family went to the


(Mrs. Graham): I went to Pottiers Drugstore and Dr. Pottier


and Dr. Ward. That's Economy Drugstore.

(Ms. Wanza): Could you describe where your family went to the


(Mrs. Graham): The cleaners was on Sixth and Fifth Avenue,

not far from the post office. That...

(Ms. Wanza): Okay. We're going to end the first side of Mrs.

Dorothy Graham interview here at the Culmer Center and we will

continue on Side #2. This is Stephanie Wanza interviewing Mrs.

Dorothy Graham. The date is August 5, 1997.

Tape #1 Side #2

(Ms. Wanza): This is Stephanie Wanza and I'm interviewing

Mrs. Dorothy Graham here at the Culmer Center. Today's date is

August 5, 1997 and we are continuing on the questions regarding

neighborhood life between 1945 and 1970 and we were just discussing

the cleaners that Mrs. Graham family attended. Could you continue


(Mrs. Graham): On the cleaners?

(Ms. Wanza): Um hum.

(Mrs. Graham): Well I know at that cleaner there was a

Colored woman who did the pressing and whatnot in there. Before

that time the cleaner had been right on our corner. I don't know

why they have been...but we went further down, we went to

Fourteenth Street and that was where the cleaners was there.

(Ms. Wanza): Could you describe the churches your family


(Mrs. Graham): Yes. My family, most of them were Catholic,


some were episcopalian and one was baptist.

(Ms. Wanza): Could you describe where your family went for

entertainment such as theaters, bars, restaurants or sporting


(Mrs. Graham): No bars, we always bought our liquor with our

groceries, went to the liquor store and got whatever you wanted and

that was taken home and that served with meals, there was no

fanfare about wine or liquor or beer, you bought what you needed

because it was part of the meal and that's the way it had always

been even during prohibition, it was always liquor in the bathroom

on the shelf with the rest of the medicine (laughter). I don't...

and if you wanted any liquor... if you were having a party or

something and you wanted liquor, you could call and they would

deliver it to you. There was one liquor store on Twentieth Street

and Third Avenue, I think there was one in there but you never had

to go to a liquor store because they would deliver it to you.

(Ms. Wanza): When someone in your family got sick did they go

the doctor's office? Where did they go to the doctor's office?

(Mrs. Graham): One thing you could count on would be a

Colored doctor. We had enough of them and we used them. I can

remember Dr. Chatman stopping at our house everyday to talk to my

grandmother and there was Dr. Fraizer, they were always Colored.

There was Dr. Coast. Who else was there? We used the one down on

Third Avenue, just don't remember his name now but we always used

Colored doctors. My husband was a doctor but that wasn't

you know but we always used Colored doctors. Of there was


doctor...when my children came along there was Dr. Simpson. I had

met Dr. George Simpson in Nashville, he was in school there, the

same time my husband was in school there but ah we always had

Colored doctors and most of the time they came to you if you called

them. You did go to the doctor's office but if you needed him, he

came to the house to you.

(Ms. Wanza): How long did you continue to patronize those

businesses in Overtown?

(Mrs. Graham): The Colored businesses? Well I, so far as the

pharmacist goes...we've used Dr. Pottier after Dr. Ward was no

longer there and then wherever Pottier went I went to him because

I could go to work and I could call first and tell him my mother

needed something and he would bring it, he would give her whatever

medicine she need and sit and talk with her and you didn't have to

worry about it. The same thing with pharmacist Dr. Cox or any of

them. When the pharmacist were in business you could get whatever

you wanted because they always sought of looked after you.

(Ms. Wanza): When did you begin to shop or go to

entertainment outside of Overtown?

(Mrs. Graham): Well, I can honestly say every since I came

here...down when I...ever since I came down here, '48 because I

always, wherever I have lived, I've had a season ticket for

concerts and things of that sort. I may not have always had what

I wanted to eat but I've always I had for things of that sort and

so I've always gone to concerts and...

(Ms. Wanza): So 1948 would be about the date?


(Mrs. Graham): Umm hum.

(Ms. Wanza): Doing the period of...

(Mrs. Graham): Not, not movies.

(Ms. Wanza): Not movies, okay.

(Mrs. Graham): No but concerts and things of that sort and

you could get tickets for whatever you wanted if you knew...could,


(Ms. Wanza): During the period from 1945 to 1970 what were

the main things that made Overtown a community?

(Mrs. Graham): Everything happened at the church or the

school and you hear people talk about Booker Washington, its

because so much went on in that auditorium, having lived other

places where it didn't happen that way I was well aware of it. Any

program, anything of importance, seemingly, was brought to that

school auditorium, advertised in the churches and people attended.

They had an Gonquin Club, had important programs, the Kingum Clubs

brought It was just interesting to me to come, you

know, and see the way they did things here and it wasn't that way

other places. I guess it's because other places, you bought a

ticket and you went wherever you wanted to go but here the church

said you were suppose to go this program, that program. Sunday

afternoons people dressed up, they went and they sat and they

listened and children from various school were on program and could get the feeling of competition, you know, my child

is in that chorus and my child's chorus is better than any other

school chorus, you got that and it made you feel the unity, the


concern, the interest to see people enjoy themselves this way and

all during that time you had people like Edward Graham, Theodore

Gibson, just men of the cloth showing congregations the way we have

to go, they did that at that time and I felt very good because I

have known Theodore Gibson all my life and to see the way he's

leading people, not just in his church but all Overtown, giving you

the guidance that you needed and we are not getting it now.

(Ms. Wanza): How and when did the sense of community change?

(Mrs. Graham): I don't want to say that...I guess it was when

1-95 came through and split us up but in every community where you

have a lot of Black people living together, the right of eminent

domain seems to come through and take charge. As you go

through...if you travel by automobile and if you go through what

you think would be a nice neighborhood you'll find that

transportation has come through sought of cut it. So they didn't

just do in Miami. We felt it Miami just like they felt it

everywhere else. That's, that's the way it has been done. It

takes us by surprise, we don't seem to recognize it as it comes


(Ms. Wanza): How has Overtown changed since 1970?

(Mrs. Graham): A lack of spiritual leadership. A lack of

ministers. We have a bunch of preachers but we don't have

ministers, we have preachers getting involved in too much politics

for...only for political reason, I mean if you want to be

politician, do that but don't stand in the pulpit to do that. Now,

I must say I feel that ah Curry is doing a good job pulling people


together. He's making them become educated, he's...he reminds me

a lot of Father Divine in New York (laughter). He...I know that he

made, Father Divine, made his parishioners go to school, become

citizens because...I know that because my uncle taught in the

evening to his parishioners. He made them become citizens, Father

Divine did. (Laughter) He did a lot of other things that weren't

so good but that I felt he did, that was very good and Curry seems

to be doing that.

(Ms. Wanza): Okay. The next set of questions are regarding

1-95. When and how did you first hear about the building of I-95?

(Mrs. Graham): When I heard about 1-95 and what was about to

happen, the people were upset and having meetings at Booker

Washington School at night and that was when I understood that it

was actually going to happen. You see I went through Blindsley

going to work everyday and night and did not pay enough attention

to what was really happening in the town and I think a lot of

people could honestly say that because if you had been paying

attention, you would have been able to avert some of it but ah...or

could have been better compensated.

(Ms. Wanza): Where were you living then?

(Mrs. Graham): I was in, in Overtown let's call it...they

call it Overtown in the family house.

(Ms. Wanza): Did you rent or own the place where you lived


(Mrs. Graham): We owned it.

(Ms. Wanza): that time, okay. What kind of a reaction


was there to the news that an expressway would come through


(Mrs. Graham): You got upset and then you sought of said,

well they wouldn't bother me, you know but where my house was...its

clothed with the thing that's right over it like that now_

But at first you sought of thought they were not going to bother

you and it wasn't until I went to meet a man who had done a lot of

making people move in different town...I forget his name but I

wanted to know were they really coming through and did he realize

what they were doing and I felt my mother was too old to lose her

house, the way, you know it was my grandmother's house and we had

always lived there, now you are going to uproot us this way and he

said no, she can go in a high rise and I told him, no one wants to

live in a high rise, old people don't want to live in...he said

well I built one in Texas and those folks are happy in them. I

remember another time when we met with him, a small group, I wanted

to know from him, we always sent our rugs out in May to be cleaned

and then the cleaners brought them in time for Thanksgiving and my

mother was getting upset and I wanted to know from him should we

put them in the cleaners this year or would we have anywhere to put

them? He said, well you can bring them back for Thanksgiving

dinner this year, he said, but I don't promise you, you'll be there

next year. I can't remember his name.

(Ms. Wanza): Did you discuss it with your neighbors?

(Mrs. Graham): My aunt owned her house, the other people were


living in our rented houses you know, so it was nothing to discuss

with them. You know, it didn't matter.

(Ms. Wanza): Did you attend a meeting where it was discussed

or sign a petition or discuss the issue with public officials?

(Mrs. Grahazm: Y"e, yes, I remember a meeting at Booker...but

it was all signed sealed and delivered by that time. When you woke

up to the fact that you had to get out it was already decided

because it...I moved out real fast, faster than a lot of friends

because I went down to City Hall and saw the map of where the

expressway was coming through and I came back and I said... I

remember telling Anthony Godfrey, my principal see, because he

lived a block east, west of me. I said Anthony, they're coming

through because I had told them I wasn't coming to school that day

that I was going down to see what was happening. He said, okay, go

and come back and let me know and I said they're coming straight

through where you live, straight through your house, your dad's

house cause he had already moved, he was already living in Grove,

he had built down there. He said ah, they won't be through for a

while, you have at least five years before they'll come through. I

said well five years time will time for Mike to be in school and

can't handle it (laughter) so I had to do something now. You

didn't, you didn't realize it, you didn't believe it could happen

and so that, I think that's why people were slow to try and get

anything done.

(Ms. Wanza) : What was the most important impact of the

expressway on you?


(Mrs. Graham): I have never caught up financially. It came

through, it took what you had, you had to start all over again and

at the time that I started over, I was too old to start over again,

trying to get comparable living accommodations. It

mother never came back to herself and that was one reason why I was

so particular about buying a house that had so many steps off the

ground, well that the roof that was built a certain way because

these were things that I knew meant a lot to her. I could have

gone to Opa Locka, I guess and gotten one of those house so flat on

the ground if you notice they are pretty flat. You just

never...finally I accepted it, she just sought of

wrenched you apart, they didn't cut you apart, you just wrenched


(Ms. Wanza): What was it like when the expressway was being


(Mrs. Graham): For many people I think the sand and dust and

whatnot kept you half sick all the time and trying to get out of

there and seeing how far it was coming over. I don't know why some

of us thought we could stop it from coming right upon you and it

was coming upon you, the 1-95. It was running right through where

you lived and finally they got out but now the people you left in

house as renters, they got money to move but I didn't get any money

to move because I moved ahead of time you see and so the renters

profited by that, they helped them to move such as that but the

people who moved at first, they didn't get any consideration or



(Ms. Wanza): What did the community get from public officials

in return for 1-95 going through Overtown?

(Mrs. Graham): Get? I'm not aware that they got anything.

I'm not aware that anyone got anything except confusion

thing they told you if you protest in a way, you had to have a

lawyer, you see this was our lack of understanding. You had to

lawyer to go into court for you, you couldn't go in there alone and

you were going to have to pay the lawyer whatever extra they gave

you. For instance if they gave you $5,000 for your house, if you

protested and you would get $6,000 for your house, the $1,000 extra

was going to the lawyer anyway and this lack of understanding is

what was so bad.

(Ms. Wanza): How did 1-95 affect the community?

(Mrs. Graham): Well, it left us with a lot of distrust I

think. I don't, I don't think the people who were moved...because

you see most of those people are dead now but I, I don't think they

ever really trusted anymore.

(Ms. Wanza) : We are going to move on to the next set of

questions which deals with whether or not the person decided or why

the person decided to move because of 1-95. When you decided to

change your place...when did you decide to change your place of


(Mrs. Graham): When I realized that I had to.

(Ms. Wanza): Why do you think it was appropriate to change

your place of residence?

(Mrs. Graham): I had no choice.


(Ms. Wanza): To whom did you sell your property?

(Mrs. Graham): To 1-95 or to whoever. I don't know to whom.

(Ms. Wanza): Why did you decide to sell the property to that


(Mrs. Graham): There was no decision, there were coming

through and every plot...I found out that the were not

paid for the house, you were paid for that piece of ground. Now

after a while the house, you got something for the house but those

of us who moved first got nothing for the house. Every piece of

ground say 35 x 70, I think they were, that's all they wanted, they

wanted the lot. They didn't want anything else.

(Ms. Wanza): Were you fairly compensated?

(Mrs. Graham): Oh no.

(Ms. Wanza): How long were you given to pack up and get out?

(Mrs. Graham): That I don't know because I was already out.

(Ms. Wanza): Already out.

(Ms. Wanza): What happened to the property after you sold it?

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

(Ms. Wanza): Where did you relocate?

(Mrs. Graham): To my present address.

(Ms. Wanza): Okay what was the mortgage or rent in your new

place compared to your former residence?

(Mrs. Graham): Ah, you moved from where you did not pay rent

to where you had to pay mortgage.

(Ms. Wanza): How did your choose your new residence?

(Mrs. Graham): I was looking for space and I was looking for


space around me and inside and I was looking for a house that was

well built and the house that I had got, the man had built it

himself and he now had lost it to the bank and that's how I got it.

(Ms. Wanza): Okay. Was the neighborhood in your new location

different or...different or similar to the neighborhood from which

you moved?

(Mrs. Graham): Well it was similar because the

people...everybody on my block, for instance, most of the people on

my block were people who had lived near me where I had lived and my

neighbor across the street had been the neighbor sought of across

the street Overtown.

(Ms. Wanza): Oh that's a coincidence.

(Mrs. Graham): Yes, and she called me and told me come over

here and look at this house, there's a sign out in front of this

house and that, of course, was the house that of them

that the bank had given to me and I knew the people, I knew...I

knew everybody there, several of them I had grown up with as a

child and then, of course, the one across the street had been our


(Ms. Wanza): Okay. Right now we are going to stop this

interview session and continue with another interview session on

another date. We are stopping at the section where I'm going to

ask about whether or not the house or apartment was taken under

eminent domain and we are going to continue on with some more

sessions. So this is the end of Session #1 with Mrs. Dorothy

Graham. This is Side #2 of the Tape and this is Stephanie Wanza


interviewing. Today's date is August 5, 1997.