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140o 0o0o13q, j/Q
TELL THE STORY
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
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
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
(Mr. Williams): Where were those jobs held?
(Mrs. Littlefield): In Miami.
(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
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
(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
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
(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.
(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
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
(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?
(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
(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
(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?
(Mrs. Littlefield): Well, word of mouth, just talked to
(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
(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
(Mrs. Littlefield): Well, after umm they took our house,
apartment away then we had to move so we moved down to Richmond
(Mr. Williams): Okay, so the business moved? Where did you
relocate the business?
(Mrs. Littlefield): No, we didn't relocate the business, we
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
(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
(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
(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
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
(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
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
(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
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
(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.
(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
until we left...all these places were displaced, they were...when
you looked it was nothing and we patronized them as long as they
(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
(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
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
(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
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,
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
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
(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
(Mrs. Littlefield): About 6 months.
(Mr. Williams): Were you...what relocation money did you
(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?
(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?
(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
(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.
(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.
(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
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.