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TELL THE STORY
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
(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't...you 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 you...one 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 me...it
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
(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...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
(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 would...so our neighborhoods were
(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,
(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 car...you 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
they...you 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): ...at 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
(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 just...my
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 never...it 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 and...one
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 house...you 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
(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 bank...one 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.