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Interview with Gloria Littlefield, August 12, 1997

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Title:
Interview with Gloria Littlefield, August 12, 1997
Creator:
Littlefield, Gloria ( Interviewee )
Publication Date:
Language:
English

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
African Americans -- Florida
Overtown Oral History Collection ( local )
Spatial Coverage:
Florida--Miami--Overtown

Notes

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

Record Information

Source Institution:
Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, Department of History, University of Florida
Holding Location:
This interview is part of the 'Overtown Collection' collection of interviews held by the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program of the Department of History at the University of Florida
Rights Management:
Made available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 4.0 International license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/.
Resource Identifier:
OVTN 28 ( SPOHP IDENTIFIER )

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140o 0o0o13q, j/Q


TELL THE STORY
GLORIA LITTLEFIELD
August 12, 1997

(Mr. Devon Williams): This is Devon Williams, August the

12th, 1997. I'm interviewing Mrs. Gloria Littlefield for the Black

Archives at Culmer Center in Overtown.

Okay, the first set of questions that we are going to ask you

Mrs. Littlefield are regarding family life?

(Mrs. Gloria Littlefield): Key West, Florida...my mother was

born in Key West Florida. My father, in Huntington, West Virginia.

(Mr. Williams): Did they ever live in Overtown?

(Mrs. Littlefield): Yes.

(Mr. Williams): What years did they live in Overtown?

(Mrs. Littlefield): Ah, I do not know the year my mother came

to Overtown from Key West but she died in...let's see...I guess in

the late '70s, I believe.

(Mr. Williams): What sort of jobs did they have?

(Mrs. Littlefield): Ah, my mother was a musician and she

played at several local churches. She was the organist at Greater

Bethel A.M.E. Church and she played at different churches and she

operated what was called a long time ago, the Rockland Palace and

she had ah, what they called a cabaret during that time in the

Rockland Palace and she bought out this business from the late the

William...Dr. William Chatman. She collected rent, I understand

her to say, on a bicycle under the supervision of Mr. Bragg. I

forgot his initials...S. Bragg. I know S is one of the

initials...Bragg and he was over rental property and she would

1










collect the rent on a bicycle. So she did clerical work and a

entrepreneur in her lifetime and played the piano.

(Mr. Williams): Where were your grandparents born?

(Mrs. Littlefield): I have no idea. But I do not know too

much about ah, the family other than my mother and her sisters and

da, that's something I'm searching for now, trying to find out my

family background, where are we from and how far back could I find

this out but that I've known. I don't know about any of my

relatives or anything like that which I'm trying to discover now.

(Mr. Williams): Could you describe what it was like growing

up in your parents' house?

(Mrs. Littlefield): Oh, I think it was really...umm when I

look back at it now, I think it was really a wonderful experience

because we lived in...we had a very small house on a lot of land

and ah, we would umm...in the afternoons we would sit in the yard

and my mother would read books and stories to us and ah, she

couldn't afford new books and I remember her going to a thrift shop

and buying books and we would read those books...she would read

those books to us over and over and over again and I think it was

really kind of exciting. We had all kinds of fruit trees in the

yard. We had 5 coconut trees in the front yard and a guava tree

and mango trees and avocado trees and we had more trees then we did

house and it was really nice and we would go to umm, we would go to

the movies twice a week on Monday afternoons and on Saturdays but

we couldn't go anywhere until after we cleaned up. We had to clean

up and do all our chores and then we would go to umm...We had


2











something on Third Avenue called the Modern Theater and they had a

talent show and they had serials. Ah, ah Tarzan and all those

group of people they would have the Long Ranger and each week you'd

have to go back because they would have a "cliff hanger" and they

would stop at a certain point and you would be so excited that you

had to go back to see what was happening the next week and umm book

reviews and umm, and I'm a member of ah, I was a member of Greater

Bethel A.M.E. Church and in the afternoon they would have things

for the young people and they would have speakers to come and speak

to you and just inspire you. We had a lot of ice cream parlors and

juice stands and it was active, it was really active. Second

Avenue and Third Avenue was really active avenues and you weren't

afraid to walk, we could walk, you could walk to church and Sunday

School and walk back. It was kind of I though exciting.

(Mr. Williams): The next questions I'm going to be asking you

are regarding employment between 1945 to 1970 and the first

question is describe the jobs you had?

(Mrs. Littlefield): Okay, I had a job in ah...I worked for

the insurance company and I was a secretary at the Afro-American

Life Insurance Company and I was an agent at the Atlanta Life

Insurance Company for a short time and ah I worked as a secretary

in the Dade County Public Schools and from that point I was a

teacher in the Dade County...am a teacher in the Dade County Public

Schools.

(Mr. Williams): Where were those jobs held?

(Mrs. Littlefield): In Miami.


3










(Mr. Williams): In Miami?

(Mrs. Littlefield): Overtown

(Mr. Williams): Overtown?

(Mrs. Littlefield): Umm hum.

(Mr. Williams): What years did you have those jobs?

(Mrs. Littlefield): In the late '50s.

(Mr. Williams): What kinds of hours did you work?

(Mrs. Littlefield): Well I guess a number of hours from, I

imagine from 8 to 4 or 5 or something like that. I can't remember.

(Mr. Williams): When and why did you leave those jobs?

(Mrs. Littlefield): Well, I left those jobs because of money.

Ah, I ah, let's see how could I say this? My mother and father

separated when I was 3 years old and my mother was a single parent.

My mother always instilled in me that I was going to be a teacher

my brother was going to be a doctor so she would throw him up and

in the air and call him Dr. Benjamin Watson Ware because he knew he

had to be a doctor and I knew I had to be a teacher. Okay, now

finance, my mother had no money to finance us being anything so I

had to work a while and save the money and go to school. Okay,

come home work a while save some more money and go to school and

that's how I happened to change umm leave these jobs because I

worked so much at the insurance company and I saved so much and

went to school and then I had...I got to point then that I

had...after I went to school I had took a business education so I

could be a secretary then I started working for the Dade County

Schools as a secretary then my job wasn't complete because I had to


4










be...remember (laughter) I had to be a school teacher so I had to

go back and umm work a while quite the job at the school system as

a secretary then go back and get my...finish my degree. Then I had

to, by the same token, I had to maintain because I got a

scholarship. I had to maintain a "B" average because if I didn't

I couldn't get that scholarship, so that's the changes in the job?

(Mr. Williams): How did you find work?

(Mrs. Littlefield): Well, umm teachers that taught me was

always behind me and they would...and they knew what I, my goal and

they knew what I was trying to do and whenever there was a job,

they would always look out for me. Even during the summer they

would always look out for me because they knew that I was...this

is...I had a goal and they always tried to help me.

(Mr. Williams): Where did the other members of your family

work?

(Mrs. Littlefield): Well as I said, I had one other member

and that was aunt, Rosa Lee and she had ah...she was in show

business, that's what she was doing. She was getting...she sang.

They called her the girl with the personality and she would get

groups to sing and go to different...like to Nassau or somewhere

like that but ah other than...and I had one other...another...my

mother's had another sister and she lived in Perrine on a farm and

they were farmers and other than that, I don't know anything about,

I didn't know about my father. He was a cook, I found out later

and I didn't umm...I saw him when I was 3 years old when my mother

separated in Atlanta. I saw him no more until I was 16, I was

5











getting ready to graduate from high school and as I said, teachers

helped me and my father was in Atlanta and they knew I hadn't seen

him and they helped me. They had something called "The Girl

Reserve" and they would take students to visit colleges and I was

one of the ones that they took to visit colleges and my

father...they notified my father that I was coming to Clark College

and so I sat in the place, in the lounge waiting for this man I had

never seen to come in, and umm that was that.

(Mr. Williams): Okay beginning in the late '50s many might...

immigrants moved to Miami from the Caribbean including Cuba, Haiti

and other countries. Did those immigrants competed with the

Overtown residents for jobs?

(Mrs. Littlefield): Well, I don't know but I do know that ah,

in a lot of the restaurants, Black people...that was our job to be

waiters and I notice that ah the waiters began to be of other

nationalities, some Haitians, and a lot of different nationalities

other than Blacks but that was our job. I always thought and then

it began to...because I understand, I don't know that they were

working for less money then we were working for so they got the

jobs.

(Mr. Williams): Do you recall people moving into the area

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

area from out of town?

(Mrs. Littlefield): Ah, yes. People was constantly coming

into the ah...into the area before the displacement, yes it was

quite a few people here, yes it was.

6











(Mr. Williams): Where were they from?

(Mrs. Littlefield): Well they came from everywhere. We had

people coming here from the Bahamas and we had people coming here

from the Carolinas and everywhere because they were. We had ah,

ah, they could get work here and it was a lot of farm work in the

south Dade that they could get, more construction around and umm,

ah this was quite an area and people came in different businesses

because they had a lot of businesses here and restaurants and

nightclubs and it, it was really a nice place to be and they had ah

a place called in Liberty City, they had a place called the Pool.

All the kids use to go down there and then they had another place

called? What's that place in Fort Lauderdale that open space,

place everybody use to go (wake up)

(Male voice): I'm not sleep.

(Mrs. Littlefield): Hump, what's that in Fort Lauderdale

there, not Fort Lauderdale but Hallandale or somewhere close?

(Male voice): The Palms.

(Mrs. Littlefield): The Palms where all the young people

would go and they would have big bands from everywhere to umm...and

they would come out there and play and that a young people's thing

and they would go out there. We had all the big bands and

everything so it was quite...Miami was quite a place.

(Mr. Williams): Where did they live in Overtown, these people

coming from...moving into?

(Mrs. Littlefield): Well, we had the Carver Hotel, we had the

Mary Elizabeth Hotel, we had the Sir John, we had the Dorsey Hotel

7










and we when people would...a lot times, like when the churches have

something and a lot of people come in they would live in private

homes.

(Mr. Williams): What sort of jobs did they have?

(Mrs. Littlefield): Well, ah shoe shine, shoe shining was a

big thing during that time and the domestic work was a big thing

and people would go on Miami Beach and work for the rich people and

they had something they called a..."The Season" and the season

meant that ah, I don't know if they still have the season now but

people would come and ah I guess the season I imagine would be

during the winter time and the Whites would leave there...all that

cold and come down here for the sunshine and then they would hire

maids and all like that. Then they had the racetracks, they had

jockeys and that type of thing. People...they would come down to

do things with the horses and all like that so it was a lot of jobs

around Miami during that time.

(Mr. Williams): Okay, the next set of questions I'm going to

ask Mrs. Littlefield is regarding businesses. My first question,

what kind of business did you own?

(Mrs. Littlefield): I did not own a business but my mother

had ah, ah, ice cream parlor but myself I didn't own any kind of

business which she had an ice cream parlor and as I said before, we

had the business...one of our businesses was this apartment that

they took away from us and that was our income because that was a

6 unit apartment.

(Mr. Williams): Where were these businesses located?


8










(Mrs. Littlefield): Well, on ah 1147 Northwest Sixth Avenue,

right in front of Booker Washington and ah, she owned a business on

Northwest Second Avenue and...between Eighth and Ninth Street and

then she owned a business in Brown Sub on Twenty-Seventh Avenue and

Forty-Six Street.

(Mr. Williams): She owned...you mentioned an ice cream

parlor, an apartment building and I think...

(Mrs. Littlefield): ...And a cabaret.

(Mr. Williams): And a cabaret, okay. Who were your

employees?

(Mrs. Littlefield): In the ice cream parlor? We were

(laughter). My brother and myself and my mother. We ran that, we

umm, we did everything.

(Mr. Williams): Including the apartment?

(Mrs. Littlefield): The apartment, we had a fellow by the

name of Aaron Strong, he would collect the rent, he was the rent

collector and ah we would get different people to come in and do

maintenance and so forth, like that and if there was any cleaning

to do it would always be us, my mother, my brother, just the 3 of

us. That was our job, we would come and we would do anything that

could be done...anything that we could do ourselves that we didn't

have to pay for, we would do. We had to do it because mother saw

to us that we ah, we worked so we had to do that. Like if anybody

moved out of the house, we had to...the 3 of us had to clean it up

or whatever, we did it.

(Mr. Williams): And how did you find your employees?


9










(Mrs. Littlefield): Well, word of mouth, just talked to

different people.

(Mr. Williams): Who were his customers?

(Mrs. Littlefield): Ah, the community. The ice cream parlor,

the community. Everybody would just stop by there and ice cream

and we had a juke...what they call it a piccolo, the thing

you put the quarter in.

(Male voice): Yeah.

(Mrs. Littlefield): And ah children would come by and

teenagers, play the piccolo and buy ice cream and so forth...the

community.

(Mr. Williams): Whom did you consider your main competition?

(Mrs. Littlefield): (Laughter) The man on the corner, the Mr

Goodwin. He had a grocery store and he would sell cane and...he

was from Georgia and he brought a...whatever that thing is that you

go with a horse to go around...and he would... the horse would go

around and he would get cane juice and ah he would sale that. That

was our biggest competition, cane juice ice cream.

(Mr. Williams): When and why did you move or close the

business?

(Mrs. Littlefield): Well, after umm they took our house,

apartment away then we had to move so we moved down to Richmond

Heights.

(Mr. Williams): Okay, so the business moved? Where did you

relocate the business?

(Mrs. Littlefield): No, we didn't relocate the business, we


10










just gave up on the business.

(Mr. Williams): So it wasn't affected by any outside element?

(Mrs. Littlefield): No not the...not the ice cream parlor.

The transportation was too much, you know, it was too much going

from place to place and after we didn't have umm...it was just too

much, the transportation because after they took that away from us

we just didn't...the transportation was just too much.

(Mr. Williams): How successful was the relocation? Well it

was?

(Mrs. Littlefield): Well it was...What do you mean?

(Mr. Williams): I remember you mentioned the apartment

buildings, did you sell them or...

(Mrs. Littlefield): Un hun. We didn't sell them, they, umm,

we had no choice, they took it. They gave us what they wanted us

to have. I guess we sold it, we sold it to them but it was done by

the state it wasn't anything that we had any control over. We got

this letter saying that you...you know and that was it.

(Mr. Williams): The next set of questions will be regarding

neighborhood life between 1945 and 1970. First question, could you

describe your place of residence?

(Mrs. Littlefield): Yeah. Ah...

(Mr. Williams): I believe you described it

(Mrs. Littlefield): 1147 or the 14200?

(Mr. Williams): Which did you describe before the 1147.

(Mrs. Littlefield): Okay, now would you repeat that question?

(Mr. Williams): Okay, could you describe your place of

11










residence?

(Mrs. Littlefield): Okay it was after we built up here, it

was a single dwelling home and then we ah build the 6 unit

apartment and after we build the 6 unit apartment, we rented out 5

units and it was very beautiful apartment, it was but we'd lost all

the trees and all, you know we didn't have space that we had

formerly when it was a single dwelling home.

(Mr. Williams): Who lived in your household?

(Mrs. Littlefield): My mother, my brother and myself.

(Mr. Williams): Could you describe the street where you

lived?

(Mrs. Littlefield): It was a big large Street. Sixth Avenue

was ah one of the larger streets and it was ah...and it had ah

little park...small park area in the middle that divided the...that

gave you forks in the road. We had a left and a right fork in a

center of the road there was a at the end on

Eleventh Terrace, there was a railroad track that ran up Eleventh

Terrace that was right on the corner you know from us.

(Mr. Williams): Who were your neighbors?

(Mrs. Littlefield): Well our neighbors were, Mrs. Jenny

Ferguson and her family and ah on the left and on the right we had

Dr. Farmer and his family.

(Mr. Williams): Where did they work

(Mrs. Littlefield): Well Dr. Farmer had his practice in

Overtown on Third Avenue and Mr. Jenny Ferguson, she didn't work,

she a big two-story building and she rented the upstairs part of it

12










and she, she didn't work and she had another little house in the

back and she didn't work.

(Mr. Williams): What happened to those neighbors?

(Mrs. Littlefield): Well, Dr. Farmer died and Mr. umm.

his...I don't' know what, they were close relatives but I can't

remember just what now. Charles Hadley and ah he moved in and

after the displacement they all...they moved out. Dr....Mr. Hadley

is dead now, they use to call him the Unofficial Mayor of Miami.

You might have heard of him.

(Mr. Williams): When did they leave?

(Mrs. Littlefield): With the displacement, everybody had to

move. We all had to move.

(Mr. Williams): And where did they go?

(Mrs. Littlefield): Liberty City. I think he moved to

Liberty City.

(Mr. Williams): Could you describe the main business areas

you went to in Overtown?

(Mrs. Littlefield): The main business areas I went...okay, we

went to umm, we would always go to the Economy Drugstore and the

People's Drugstore and next to that they had ah Economy Shoe Shop

and we would go there because we had to get the shoes mended and

people use to shine shoes in that...during that time and we would

go and get our shoes shined and taps put on them for Sundays and we

would go to...they had a store, a grocery store called Tip Top and

we would go there and buy groceries and next door to our church,

they had a little sundry store and we would go there and buy

13










little...umm we would give some the money in Sunday school but we

would save some for that candy...go there and buy the candy and

like that. So that is the main ones that I ah...and when I was

working on Third Avenue, they had a little sundry store. What's

that man's name that had that sundry store right next to us?

(Male Voice): Parker's

(Mrs. Littlefield): Parker's and ah all of the people from

the difference insurance company and the agencies they would meet

over to Parker's and ah, he would sell those sandwiches and cold

drinks and thinks like that.

(Mr. Williams): Could you describe where your family bought

groceries?

(Mrs. Littlefield): Well we brought groceries from Tip Top

grocery store and ah that was on Fifth Avenue. We would ah walk

down there and we had to catch a cab back to bring the groceries

and umm there was a little chicken place on Seventh Avenue and

Twentieth Street and we would go there and buy fresh chickens

because now days people eat chicken every day but during that time,

chicken was a Sunday dinner, we had chicken on a Sunday because it

was a little more money (laughter). So that's...I can't think of

any place...Oh, we went to the Miami Laundry because we would have

our clothes...they would do something called rough dry, they would

wash them for you but they wouldn't be quite dry and we would get

our laundry at those kind of places so that's about all I can

remember we patronized. Oh, barbecue places, oh yes.

(Mr. Williams): Could you describe where your family went to


14










the barber shop or beauty shop?

(Mrs. Littlefield): Well, ah Mr. Julius had a beauty school

and ah we would go there and ah get our hair done and there was a

lot of beauticians all along Third Avenue and Second Avenue and ah,

we would go there. We went to ah...mother would send us, me to Mr.

Julius, the beauty school because that was cheap and umm, she had

such long hair she would go to some other beautician.

(Mr. Williams): Could you describe the churches your family

attended?

(Mrs. Littlefield): We attended Greater Bethel A.M.E. Church

and we would go to church 3 times a day. We would go to Sunday

School in the morning, we would go to 11:00 o'clock service, we

would go A.C.E. League and we would go to night church and we

didn't cook or anything on Sundays. You didn't wash...you just

went to church and we all enjoyed although I always said when I got

to college, that end all four times of day at church but you get so

addicted to doing something that you do it anyway and even after I

went to college, I didn't go four times a day but I would go ah

once a day and because I was use to going and it was so that

everybody in my dorm when they would come to me on Saturday night

and asked me, ah was I going to church and I'll walk with you and

I got a whole line of people walking with me to church because of

my church life that I was here. I couldn't sing but I sang in the

choir at church. I ushered and we were an intrical part, my

parents were intricate...my mother played the piano at that church

and we were an intrical part of the church.


15











(Mr. Williams): Could you describe where you went for

entertainment such as theaters, bars, restaurants, sporting events?

(Mrs. Littlefield): Ah, for entertainment, my mother went to

church and we went to the theater, we had the Ritz Theater, and

Modern and ah, when I got older I would sneak to...they had a 5:00

o'clock "Blue Hour" and if we could sneak there, we would do that

but that (laughter) wasn't part of our ritual.

(Mr. Williams): When someone in your family got sick where

did they go to the doctor's office?

(Mrs. Littlefield): Well, we always believed in Black

doctors. In fact, yeah we always believed in going and patronizing

Black doctors. I don't know if you could have patronized Whites

during that time, I don't remember and during that time doctors

would come and visit you at home. You know they come and visit you

at home now but they would come, if you sick enough, they would

come and ah, I don't' think any of us were sick enough for us to

do...I don't remember anybody in my family going to a hospital but

I understand, Jackson, when you got real sick you could go to

Jackson and umm the Christian Hospital, that was another place that

we went but I don't we ever had anybody that was ever sick enough

during that time to go to ah any of the hospitals. The doctors

always came to us.

(Mr. Williams): How long did you patronize these businesses?

(Mrs. Littlefield): Ah, until we left. We would still go and

we would go to umm...they had Chinese restaurants and they had ah,

the Chinese had laundries, we would our clothes done and we did it


16










until we left...all these places were displaced, they were...when

you looked it was nothing and we patronized them as long as they

were available.

(Mr. Williams): What made you begin to shop or go to

entertainment outside of Overtown?

(Mrs. Littlefield): Well, when I went away to school. That

was ah...

(Mr. Williams): During the period from 1945 to 1970, what

were the main things that made Overtown a community?

(Mrs. Littlefield): Well, I would say ah, the churches and

the schools and we had during that time, we had a lot of little

clubs like the Friendship Garden Club and all that and they would

have book reviews and people would come like Zora Neal Huston would

come and they would review books and different ones would read

books and they would review the books and we...graduation was a big

thing ah during that time and when you had ah, ah commencement and

ah, oh what's that you have before commencement?

(Male voice): Baccalaureate.

(Mrs. Littlefield): Baccalaureate and people would come from

everywhere. That was a big community gathering for something like

that baccalaureate and commencement and ah they would have good

speakers and all and this always would bring the people together

and another thing that would bring the people together...event and

they would have something, a wake and everybody would come from

everywhere and this would draw people together because people you

hadn't seen in ages, they would all come and congregate and they


17










would eat, drink and eat souse and conch salad and conch fritters

and would ah...it would more or less like a party and ah that was

one of the things, it would do...and then they would have this big

funeral with the Masons and all of them marching with the band and

all and these were all community things and would see people from

everywhere. Men and women, the women were called the, hump, my

mind is gone. Anyway the men were the mason and the women...

Eastern Star and ah if you were a member of any of those or the

Elks and all these people would come and congregate and that was a

kind of culture part of our...unique part of ah, of ah Miami.

(Mr. Williams): How and when did that sense of community

change.

(Mrs. Littlefield): When we had to leave, we had to

set....when the...when the community and they had

to...they took the homes and the things and the people moved

different places, they moved, some of them moved out to Opa Locka

and ah Liberty City and ah, just all around and then that broke up

that because the people weren't together anymore.

(Mr. Williams): How has Overtown changed since 1970?

(Mrs. Littlefield): It is...when I looked...came back and ah

rode, drove through Overtown, I cried. It was so sad to see how

everything had changed and if you had lived here all your life and

if you ride around and you can't recognized nothing, nothing seemed

to be the same and you ride down streets where there were theaters

and children played and different things and all this was gone and

everything is dirty and you can see poverty and I mean, we weren't


18










I'm not saying that we had so much but we had so much pride that

you, you'd didn't realize that I lived in the ghetto and they were

talking about the ghetto and I was wondering what they were talking

about. I didn't come from no ghetto because we always had self-

pride and when I look...ah ride down the street now, like I rode

down today and the people all out on the streets and its

not...they're dirty and they are just hanging around. I imagine

they did that then but it wasn't as prevalent then as it is now and

we have had some well educated, well-learned people come from this

community right here, right in Overtown and to see it in this

condition, it's sad. it's, it's, it's really sad to me.

(Mr. Williams): Okay this is Devon Williams again

interviewing Mrs. Gloria Littlefield. This is the end of Tape #1,

Side A.

Tape #1 -Side B

(Mr. Williams): This Devon Williams continuing the interview,

Side B with Mrs. Gloria Littlefield.

the next questions are going to be regarding 1-95. When and

how did you first hear about the building of I-95?

(Mrs. Littlefield): I don't remember but I knew about it but

I don't remember when I first heard about it.

(Mr. Williams): Where were you living at the time?

(Mrs. Littlefield): I, I don't know whether we were...I don't

think we were...I don't' know. I can't remember.

(Mr. Williams): The next set of questions are regarding

whether the interviewee decided to move because of 1-95. When did


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you decided to change your place of residence?

(Mrs. Littlefield): After they took it from us.

After...where building the school and they took all the properties

and we had to move and that's when ah, that's when we decided to

move, when it was forced upon us to move.

(Mr. Williams): The next questions are regarding if the

interviewee lived in a house or an apartment taken by the state on

an eminent domain. The first question, what year did you move?

(Mrs. Littlefield): Ah...I have a problem with these years

(laughter). Ah, do you have any idea?

(Male voice): About '60.

(Mrs. Littlefield): About 1960.

(Mr. Williams): Who informed you that you had to move?

(Mrs. Littlefield): We got a letter from the State.

(Mr. Williams): What were you paid for your home by the

State?

(Mrs. Littlefield): I don't know because my, that was my

mother's property and umm, I don't remember.

(Male voice): $21,000 but it was valued over $45,000.

(Mrs. Littlefield): Ah $21,000 during that time but the

value was twice that.

(Mr. Williams): Okay, so were you fairly compensated then?

(Mrs. Littlefield): No we were not.

(Mr. Williams): How long were you given to pack up and get

out?

(Mrs. Littlefield): About 6 months.


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(Mr. Williams): Were you...what relocation money did you

receive?

(Mrs. Littlefield): They didn't give us any relocation money

(Mr. Williams): Where did you relocate?

(Mrs. Littlefield): In Richmond Heights.

(Mr. Williams): What was the mortgage or rent in your new

place compared to ah your former residence?

(Mrs. Littlefield): Well since we were paying for an

apartment, I don't know but it was ah...how could I say this...

(Male voice): Let me figure out the mortgage that you were

paying down there and there was nothing up here because the

apartment was paid for see it was greater expense you pay a

mortgage down there.

(Mrs. Littlefield): Ah, we had to pay a mortgage in Richmond

Heights, as he was saying we didn't have to pay a mortgage as such

because the apartment with the 6 units that took care of our...

(Male voice): Payments was $176.00 for down there which you

didn't have to pay up here because it was an expense.

(Mr. Williams): So is there is anyway you can answer that?

(Mrs. Littlefield): Zero to $176.00. We went from paying

nothing to paying $176.00 a month.

(Mr. Williams): How did you choose your new residence?

(Mrs. Littlefield): Well, we heard about it that it was nice

in that area and we decided that we would try that.

(Mr. Williams): Was the neighborhood in the new location

different from or similar to the neighborhood from which you moved?

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How so?

(Mrs. Littlefield): Yes, it was different because it was ah,

a new area. Ah it was no grocery stores or any kind of, it was

just isolated and we didn't have an automobile and you had to get

a ride with someone or pay someone to take you to a grocery store

and bring your things back and it, it was just isolated there. It

was nice but it was ah, a isolated situation. It was no churches,

no schools, nothing and we had to go, leave there and go to South

Miami in order to buy our groceries. If you didn't buy everything

you need before you got down there, it was no way to get anything

down there. Later on they did build a grocery store but it was

really, really isolated ah down there and it was very expensive

because of isolation.

(Mr. Williams): Okay, the next set of questions are regarding

the future of Overtown. First question, what are the most

important misconceptions about Overtown?

(Mrs. Littlefield): I don't know if it's a misconception or

not but ah usually when they talk about Overtown they speak about

the poverty over here and they, it's spoken of the safety and

people are afraid to...

(Knock at the door)

(Female voice): Excuse me...

(Mr. Williams): Okay, last we stopped off at the question

which asked, what are the most important misconceptions about

Overtown. You mentioned you didn't know whether or not it was a

misconception. Can you continue?


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(Mrs. Littlefield): Okay, we think...when we think about

Overtown, we think about crime, we think about poverty, we think

about the economic conditions and I don't know if that's a

misconception or not. People are afraid to come out and that type

of thing. When you think about Overtown, someone told me when you

go in Overtown, you should take off and...but as far as I could

see in coming down here that ah a lot of it is a kind of

misconception because in other areas, I know it's more crime that

I hear about in other area then I do in Overtown per say...this

area.

(Mr. Williams): So the misconception about crime is that if

you were to walk over here you would have to take off your...you

mentioned take off...

(Mrs. Littlefield): Take off all your jewelry and hold onto

your pocketbooks and ah that type of...

(Mr. Williams): What do you think public officials need to

know most about Overtown?

(Mrs. Littlefield): They need to try to bring in some jobs

and house...better housing and jobs over here, it's badly umm

needed because when you walk down the streets, you know we need

jobs, we need...they need to, we need better housing conditions and

ah, it's...if we do have crime it's because of the economic

conditions, they need to do something to build...more educate the

people and do something that they could have umm...because if they

had jobs and they had a better way of life, I don't think they

would have the crime and that's what bringing the crime.


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(Mr. Williams): What should be done to improve the Overtown

area now such as transportation projects, attractions, job creation

or beautification programs?

(Mrs. Littlefield): What I think they should, they should

train people. Some of the skills and the businesses we had before,

they should train people to do that like we had hat blocking and

bakeries and things and they should people to do these and have

stores up here. They could do that through the school and ah teach

children things to do and have places here that they could sell

their wares and do it and this could be tourist place that people

will be glad to come...they could...you know we know how make conch

fritters and all that kind of stuff, they could have places

that...and people would be glad to come down here and buy this

stuff and this would be something that you would look forward to

instead of trying to steer away from Overtown that we could come

and then we could places...we use to have all these musicians come

down...have entertainment that people White and Black would be able

to umm to come and hire us who we think gone stab us in the back,

they'd be the guards to help...they not gone...if they are

responsible for you, they not gone to bother you.

(Mr. Williams): What should be the relationship between

Overtown and Downtown Miami?

(Mrs. Littlefield): Close relation cause our tourist should

be right together as I said before. We should be right together.

We should be selling...Cubans selling their little stuff and we

selling ours and we should be right together.

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(Mr. Williams): When you have visitors from out of town,

where do you take them to show them culture and history of Dade

County's African-American community?

(Mrs. Littlefield): Well, I don't bring them over here if you

want to know the truth about it but I do, I would take them by the

churches and I would show them ah, ah like Dorsey...the rebuilt

house of D.A. Dorsey ah some of the things that they are rebuilding

and reclaiming and ah, we have ah, it was the oldest because I

can't ever remember there being a bottling plant where they bottled

soda over here. I would show them that, the Lyric Theater and that

Market place over there and I would take them to Tangerine and

(laughter) and that boil fish place down the street. You know

those kind of places but it makes me sad when I see people all out

on the street on the doorways and all like that, that's a sad thing

for me so I don't think I'll bring anybody to see that but I

do...I'm very proud of the churches and things like that and umm

people laying all on the street, they need some place for the

homeless and that's another sad situation. Miami should be really

a shame of how they treat the homeless.

(Mr. Williams): Finally, could you describe in your own words

what kind of community you would like for Overtown to be in the

future? Describe your vision in some detail.

(Mrs. Littlefield): A tourist town that people come over and

buy wares and so forth and we could...a place that we could be

proud of, not only Blacks but Whites and everybody else could be

proud of and feel safe to come over here and do these things. I


25










would like to see more education...umm educational things done over

here, dancing and, and just things that would make people want to

be over here.

(Mr. Williams): Okay, this Devon Williams again. I'm at the

Culmer Center, New Richmond Heights, today's date is August 12,

1997. This concludes the interview with Gloria Littlefield.








































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