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Interview with Leon McCartney, August 12, 1997

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Title:
Interview with Leon McCartney, August 12, 1997
Creator:
McCartney, Leon ( 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 31 ( SPOHP IDENTIFIER )

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A ooorq0 0o15



TELL THE STORY
LEON McCARTNEY
August 12, 1997

(Mrs. Electra R. Ford): August 12, Nineteen Hundred and

Ninety Seven. I am Electra R. Ford, I am currently in the home of

Mr. Leon McCartney.

The first set of questions will be regarding family life in

Overtown.

Mr. McCartney I would like to ask you where were your parents

born?

(Mr. Leon McCartney): They were born in Eleuthrea, in the

Bahamas.

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

(Mr. McCartney): Yeah.

(Mrs. Ford): What years did they live in Overtown?

(Mr. McCartney): From 1918 approximately until about 1952.

(Mrs. Ford): Where were your grandparents born?

(Mr. McCartney): I don't know, they were Bahamian.

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

(Mr. McCartney): No.

(Mrs. Ford): What type of work did your parents do?

(Mr. McCartney): My mother did domestic work. My father

worked for the City of Miami Waste Department until he got hurt and

then he did odd jobs working mostly at nightclubs.

(Mrs. Ford): Could you tell what it was like growing up in

your parents' household Overtown?

(Mr. McCartney): Yeah. Very strict. They made sure all of

1











us went to school. It was hard for the eight of us, all of us

graduated from high school, approximately four of us went to

college approximately three finished graduating from college.

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

you will be regarding employment from 1945 and 1970 or prior to

that time if you are able to supply information. Can you tell

about the type of jobs that you?

(Mr. McCartney): I worked for WEMETCO as a projectionist

until I went to college and then I...after college I worked for

WEMETCO again for about a year or two and I worked as a part time

musician and then I went to work for Lane Bryant about '51 or '52

until retirement in '81.

(Mrs. Ford): Mr. McCartney could you kindly tell us who is

WEMETCO and what type of employment is that?

(Mr. McCartney): WEMETCO is a chain of theaters stands...ah

WEMETCO comes from Wolfen and Meyers Theater Company, Mitchell

Wolfen was the president Mr. Meyers was his brother-in-law, they

went in business together with a chain of WEMETCO Theaters. Then

they bought Channel 4 and ah to today, that I know of it's called

WEMETCO.

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

(Mr. McCartney): I started with WEMETCO when I was in high

school as a projectionist and ah in the summer, a couple of summers

I worked for WEMETCO and after college I ah did odd jobs until I

got a job at Lane Bryant.

(Mrs. Ford): What hours did you work?


2











(Mr. McCartney): WEMETCO, sometimes when the movie opened

from 12 say until 5, other days from 5 until the movie closed. At

Lane Bryant regular hours 9 to 5.

(Mrs. Ford): When and why did you leave these jobs?

(Mr. McCartney): Well I left WEMETCO to go to college, I

left...I didn't leave Lane Bryant until I retired.

(Mrs. Ford): What was the method used to find work?

(Mr. McCartney): What was what?

(Mrs. Ford): What was your method of finding your work?

(Mr. McCartney): I...most of...in those days most of finding

work, you know, a friend helped you or door to door. You'd go

looking for a job. Sometimes it was an ad in the paper that might

help you.

(Mrs. Ford): Were there job applications at this time?

(Mr. McCartney): Ah well you had to fill out an application

but not...most of the time then you didn't need a reference or a

resume as you do now. You just went to the job, if the man liked

you, you filled out the information and he hired you or rejected

you.

(Mrs. Ford): Where did the other members of your family work?

(Mr. McCartney): Two of my brothers worked for WEMETCO after

me. One brother, it was six boys in our family and two girls. One

brother worked for Eastern, Harry worked for WEMETCO and the

County, he also worked at Dunbar Elementary School. Harold worked

for theater until his retirement and they also worked as

ah...Harold and Carl also worked as ah correction officers at the


3











jail.

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

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

countries. Did those immigrants competed with Overtown residents

for jobs?

(Mr. McCartney): Not at that time.

(Mrs. Ford): Mr. McCartney, the next set of questions that I

will be asking you will be concerning neighborhood life between

1945 and 1970. Could you describe the place where you lived as a

child?

(Mr. McCartney): Ah let's say my high school years I remember

mostly. The place where I lived, we rented a house, a big house

because there were eight kids and two adults in the house and ah we

rented...it was an eight room house. Everybody came from school to

socialize or have parties. Everybody from Overtown was in and out

of our house at one time or another. Anybody that went to Booker

T. was in and out of our house at one time. My mother use to cook

food and stuff for all us just to keep us in the neighborhood and

to keep us out...most of the neighborhood kids, keep them out of

trouble. She raised most of the kids back then.

(Mrs. Ford): Who lived in your household?

(Mr. McCartney): My mother, my father, six boys and two

girls.

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

Overtown?

(Mr. McCartney): It was just an ordinary old time street,


4











then it wasn't a...it was a paved street, pretty busy because on

the one corner there were a lot of businesses, there were barber

shops, there was a bar, there was a tap room and a restaurant on

the corner and ah there was a grocery store on the Northwest Third

Avenue, right in our neighborhood so it was a pretty busy street.

(Mrs. Ford): Where did the people in your neighborhood work?

(Mr. McCartney): One lady was midwife, we had a guy down the

street who was an ice man, had some people working on the railroad,

had some number writers, so many people, so many jobs, some people

worked on the garbage trucks, street sweepers, a variety of jobs.

college school teachers. Umm it was like a family,

it was more like a family street.

(Mrs. Ford): Who were your neighbors?

(Mr. McCartney): My neighbors, the Simpsons, Simmons rather

and ah what's sugar red's...Mrs. Love, Mrs. Turner, you know

Senator Turner's grandmother, she owned the house about 3 or 4 of

those houses around there.

(Mrs. Ford): What happened to your neighbors?

(Mr. McCartney): All of them are displaced. All of them

displaced after Urban Renewal or because of Urban Renewal.

(Mrs. Ford): When did they leave?

(Mr. McCartney): All of us left there about the same time

about '51, '52, I guess in that area.

(Mrs. Ford): And where did they move to?

(Mr. McCartney): Now that's a mystery. I guess most of them

move out in this area. Some of them moved to West Hollywood but


5











most of them moved to the Liberty City area.

(Mrs. Ford): Do you recall people moving into the area from

out of town?

(Mr. McCartney): In what area?

(Mrs. Ford): Overtown.

(Mr. McCartney): From out of town?

(Mrs. Ford): Yeah, from other areas, like other parts of

Florida, the Bahamas, other states?

(Mr. McCartney): Well not many, not many, well you know our

parents probably weren't...you know Miami is not that old

considering most cities. Miami is a young city compared but ah

most of our parents came here from some place else. Most of my

peers were born here.

(Mrs. Ford): Could you describe the main business areas you

went to when you lived in Overtown?

(Mr. McCartney): Yes, Northwest Second Avenue where the

nightclubs were, all the bars and taverns, all the restaurants

were, the theaters, the most famous, the most popular theater, I'll

put it that way, for Blacks was the Ritz that was on Northwest

Second Avenue. The Rockland Palace was the most popular bar and

ballroom owned by a Black. The David Family, that was on Northwest

Second Avenue, the Lyric Theater, was down there, the Harlem Square

was down there, all the pool halls, the chinese restaurant, Chef's

Famous Restaurant was down there which was a nice restaurant. Lena

Home and the likes use to eat there and

then they had Little Joe's, they had O'Dell's Restaurant on, near


6











the Mary Elizabeth Hotel, then you had the Mary Elizabeth Hotel,

you had the Dorsey Hotel and the Lord Calvert Hotel which was later

the Nigh Beat Club. And ah, a lot of businesses, you had Leonard's

Department Store, you had the Modern Theater on Northwest Third

Avenue. St. John's Church was on Twelfth Street and Third Avenue,

that was a landmark. Bethel is still there, Mt. Zion is still

there, most activity was between Third and Second Avenue, let's say

from Sixth Street to Twentieth Street.

(Mrs. Ford): Can you describe where your family bought

groceries?

(Mr. McCartney): Yes, mostly at the Tip Top or the A&P and

then you had most of the neighborhood stores with the Chinamen,

they had most of the neighborhood stores and the Cubans had, a long

time ago, you had a couple of Cuban markets we use to call the

Cuban Store but that was it. Most of the Chinese stores, Tip Top

was a big store something like...oh something like Food Fair I

guess would be now, Winn Dixie would be. Leonard's had a big

Department Store, they served Black people on Northwest Second

Avenue and ah they had ah Ben's Bargain Store where we would buy

our pants and go to school with, they had Dooby's Store where most

of the older guys started working use to buy their nice suits and

shoes and you also had a pawn shop. We use to pawn stuff, had

Atlantic Furniture Company and Hilme's Furniture Company. Oh it

was a lot of places, I can't even remember now, you know. Big

funeral homes down the street, Fall Funeral Home umm which was

by the Frances Family, You had Polite's


7











Restaurant. There was a lot of businesses in the small area of

Northwest Second, especially Second Avenue say from Sixth Street to

Eleventh Street, that was the hub of the entertainment section of

Miami.

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

barber shop or beauty shop?

(Mr. McCartney): Barber shop was right on the corner to

Kelly's or Mr. Smith's on umm, Seventeenth Avenue... ah Seventeenth

Street. He had a fancy barber shop

and you use to come out smelling with the bay rum. You didn't have

all these fragrances now that you put on, you know you had your

aftershave like ah the cologne so they had bay rum was the thing

and they would put the bay rum and you would come out smelling like

a _

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

drugstore?

(Mr. McCartney): Mostly the Economy Drugstore on Northwest

Eleventh Street and Third Avenue or either Barclays Drugstore on

Northwest Twelfth Street and Third Avenue and then you had a lot of

small drugstores like Mr. Phillips had a small drugstore on

Fourteenth Terrace and ah...a lot of small drugstores. Most of the

drugstores were

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

cleaners?

(Mr. McCartney): We went...what was the name on Seventeenth

Street Dry Cleaners and ah he was one, yeah, Dan Rowe was another


8











one, he had a tailor shop and dry cleaners and they had another guy

named next door...use to be the best shoe shine man

in town.

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

church?

(Mr. McCartney): Yes, very easily. St. Peters African

Orthodox Church but umm my daddy was one of the fathers of St.

Peters African Orthodox. When we were born there was no such...she

and I were christened at Christ Episcopal Church in the Grove.

Then ah but we wouldn't remember it but then ah all we know about

is St. Peters African Orthodox Church, that where we grew up.

(Mrs. Ford): Could you describe where your family went for

entertainment such as theaters, bars, restaurants or sporting

events?

(Mr. McCartney): Well we didn't go to many restaurants, we

ate at home but ah, ah, mostly the Ritz and the Harlem Theater were

two popular theaters and for food Ramie's Cafeteria on Eleventh

Street near the Miami Times, Mrs. Maggie on Northwest Seventeenth

Street yeah we'd looked for boil fish and the Big Meal was on

Eleventh Street there and Polites on Northwest Second Avenue.

(Mrs. Ford): Did you ever attend any sporting events at

Dorsey Park.

(Mr. McCartney): Oh all of them. That's where...the only

park we had.

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

they go to the doctor's office?


9











(Mr. McCartney): Who was the doctor? Dr. Lowery or Dr.

Sawyer.

(Mrs. Ford): How long did you continue to patronize those

businesses in Overtown?

(Mr. McCartney): Until we left there, even after we left

Overtown, we still patronized when we went over there especially

the Rockland Palace.

(Mrs. Ford): Can you remember when you begin to go to

entertainment outside of Overtown?

(Mr. McCartney): I guess...outside...I don't know I was a

grown man, I can't remember but a lot entertainment was in the area

mostly even after we got grown. Until we moved out to Booker

Terrace on Northwest Twenty-Seven Avenue over there and we started

going out there and then they opened Brown's Famous Corner out here

in Liberty City, we use to come out here and then the Pool, the

Pool ah we use to go over there for entertainment outside the area,

ah immediate area but most of our area was were we lived...you know

we lived over there so most of our entertainment was Overtown.

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

the main things that made Overtown a community?

(Mr. McCartney): Mostly the businesses I just called, that

was it and the school, Booker T. School, very prominent institution

in our neighborhood, I mean a very prominent institution especially

after Williams came in and straighten out a few

things.

(Mrs. Ford): Can you elaborate a little bit about the


10











interpersonal relationship among the citizens who lived in the

community.

(Mr. McCartney): We had a variety of citizens, you know, that

did a variety of jobs. Seemed like most people got along with each

than ah we do now, even the neighbors. All our neighbors were our

parents. We didn't have...you'd have to answer to your neighbors

just you would answer to your parents. We had strict parents, we

had strict neighbors. If you did something and ah, you know,

talking about talking personally, my mamma would have died in jail

if they had the rules they have to today, not only her but the

whole neighborhood because I remember one time I went to the store

for a lady and I stopped to shot marbles and buy a kite or

something and didn't get back soon enough and after she got through

with me I was the faster thing in the neighborhood going to the

store.

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

change?

(Mr. McCartney): Well, when ah, when Urban Renewal came in

seem like ah...and people started to move out in different

neighborhoods, you had to re-establish your friends and your

neighbors and ah it seemed like you just could have that

camaraderie like we had. You know Overtown, the Black area was

from the railroad track to the railroad track and from Sixth Street

to Twenty-First Street and you'd be surprised how many people lived

in that small area because everybody knew everybody, everybody knew

everybody.

11











(Mrs. Ford): How has Overtown changed since 1970?

(Mr. McCartney): I can't tell you that, There not enough

adjectives in the English language to describe how it's changed.

It's just ah...maybe it was bad when we were living over there but

I, I can't see it. It's just, it's just, it looks like it was,

like they bombed it and never did anything to clean it up. That's

the way it looks to me now and we thought we were living in

paradise.

(Mrs. Ford): Mr. McCartney, the next set of questions I will

be questioning will be regarding Interstate 1-95. When and how did

you first hear about the building of 1-95.

(Mr. McCartney): Oh we had already moved out here then and ah

they were talking about this new expressway system that they was

going to put and how they had displaced people that had already

been displaced by Urban Renewal, had to find homes for them and

housing and whatnot and how they was going about it, the honorable

intentions that they had ah started. We thought the guy was drunk

the way he plans for 1-95 and what he would do and

how it would bypass this place and overrun this place and go above

this place and go around this place and it was...and it just was

ah... something like to us then sojourner on Mars now that we

couldn't believe the plans that this thing was going to do and it

really didn't have to be because I remember going

to work down Seventh Avenue and that little overpass when you get

down there by Perry's Store, you go...that was one straight street,

going by the fire station right there and I didn't know how they

12











was going to do that but I see they put the new fire station and

they put that overpass over there and made the curve to go over the

traffic so engineering geniuses proved they were right.

(Mrs. Ford): What year did you move in the Liberty City area?

LMr. McCartney): '51 -'52. '53.

(Mrs. Ford): 1953?

(Mr. McCartney): Right.

(Mrs. Ford): Ah Mr. McCartney I'm going to ask you another

set of questions ah regarding your house or your home. Was your

house or your home purchased by Urban Renewal when you lived

Overtown?

(Mr. McCartney): I think it was, I'm not sure. We didn't own

that home.

(Voice???): bought it first.

(Mrs. Ford): No I'm talking about during the time that you

lived there. You'll know if they purchased it because they would

have given you relocation money.

(Mr. McCartney): No.

(Voice???): bought the building we were

living in and then they...

(Mrs. Ford): Mr. McCartney, I'm going to be asking you

questions regarding the future of the Overtown area and I would

like for you to just expand what do you think the future of

Overtown should be like? What are the most important

misconceptions or misunderstanding in the community about Overtown?

(Mr. McCartney): The misconception is that they were going to


13











rebuild it with homes, businesses expand it for the Blacks and I

don't see it happening and I've never seen it happen. It looks

like they are moving in but they putting in condos, condominiums

and they moving further into

the Black area from Fifth Street, they keep moving in, moving in.

They put the Arena over there now they talking about building more

condos. Eventually all the Blacks will be moving out. I'm for

progress but ah you know let us be part of the progress.

(Mrs. Ford): What do you think public officials need to know

most about Overtown?

(Mr. McCartney): They need to know the heritage, they need to

know that. They need to talk with the people like Mrs. Range and

ah Moss Reeves who was raised Overtown. Whether you was born over

there or not, I think most of them was raised...Moss was born over

there always ran her business over there.

Talk to people like that ah and listen to them. Just don't listen

to them and ignore them listen to them and do

something constructive

(Mrs. Ford): What should be done to improve the Overtown area

now such as transportation projects, attractions, job creation or

beautification programs?

(Mr. McCartney): They need general cleaning, they to go over

there and just general clean that place. Get the dirt of the

streets ah, get rid of the old buildings, build new buildings. Put

people in decent homes, they got some pretty nice homes, look like

low income homes on Northwest Third Avenue from Nineteenth to


14











Twentieth Street. They can put homes like that all Overtown. I

see they cleaned up one of those buildings over

there on Northwest Seventeenth Street that they have problems with

the tenants, stopped paying the rent and the landlord made all kind

of excuses and now they got another places over there the landlord

making all kind of excuses. They make the money off those places

and they get tax breaks from it. They can fix up those places and

make them decent for those people to live in. It a shame, I mean

I'm not living in no mansion or nothing like that. Maybe I could

fix my house up a little better but they making money off the

people and it look like they keeping them in poverty. They don't

have no jobs over there. The guys and ah the

only thing that I see they did was the homeless people they moved

from under the expressway, I don't know where they went but they

moved that, that tent city they had over there, they finally

cleared that up, thinking they could do better especially the

people...mostly the people that White people, ah, ah

Latin people come in, say they getting loans that

they didn't give me when I wanted a loan, got loans to buy those

places, they can fix them up. You don't have to keep those people

living like they living. I know some people destroy property,

that's true but the majority of them, if you give them a descent

place to live, you give them a chance I think they'll do but ain't

no jobs over there. They put a bank over there. Ain't nobody got

money over there to put in the bank.

(Mrs. Ford): Mr. McCartney in your opinion if they develop


15











job programs do you think that will be asset in removing some of

the men whom you say are standing around the trees and sitting on

the streets, do you think that they would respond in a positive

manner to that?

(Mr. McCartney): I think so because most of those people over

there are not over there by choice. They are over there by chance,

you know, a lot of those people...you see them over there...I know

some guys over there working, washing dishes and still don't make

enough money to get an apartment they got to live down the

Carmillus House or one of those other places. They don't give the

guy...last year he goes to the Carmillus House every night, he's

got a job but he don't, still don't make enough money to have an

apartment and the government talk to him about minimum wage. They

get you on minimum wage then they don't want to give you no

benefits. They, they, you can't live off minimum wage. They just

can't live off of minimum wage, you've got to give people descent

working That minimum wage is okay for a kid in high

school, summer job or after school job, help him buy ah, ah school

supplies and his clothes and whatnot, lunch money but that, that

four dollars and something an hour cannot take care of even a

kid...he can't...the only way he can exist off that if he is living

with his parents. A person with a family or a lady, unwed mother

with one or two kids, she can't...how she going to pay rent, pay

child care, pay bus fare to go to work, have lunch money and

survive on four dollars and something an hour. Give the people a

decent wage, if you're making it see them a descent raise.


16











(Mrs. Ford): Mr. McCartney can you address transportation

projects Overtown. What do you think should be done in that

regard?

(Mr. McCartney): Well I go over there occasionally because I

have a niece that lives over there. I don't see anything wrong

with the transportation but I see where the tri-rail, not the tri-

rail. Metro-rail run through there. I see transit buses running

through there often. They have a lot of jitneys running through

there. I don't see anything wrong with the transportation and ah,

just about any corner...within two or three blocks, you can have

transportation to go just about any place so I really don't...now

I don't live over there so I maybe just talking through my head,

talking trash, from what I see, I don't see a transportation

problem.

(Mrs. Ford): Mr. McCartney would you address the possibility,

the feasibility of beautification programs Overtown? Do you think

that would be a feasible thing to do?

(Mr. McCartney): Well beautification is one thing but I...the

beautify of it would be to get those guys off the street that's not

working, get them a job, descent wage so they can be off the

street, that's beautification enough.

(Mrs. Ford): In your opinion Mr. McCartney what should be

done in Overtown as far as tourist attractions are concerned that

will bring focus and attention to Overtown and make it a desirable

place for tourist to want to come an visit?

(Mr. McCartney): I don't, I don't think you need that. All


17











you need is to make a descent place for people to live. Overtown

was a living place with some businesses there to accommodate the

people that lived in Overtown. So far as far as tourist

attractions are concerned, that don't bother me one bit. Make it

a decent place for people to live.

(Mrs. Ford): In your opinion would say that Overtown was an

independent mecca that people live inter-dependently upon each

other and were happy doing so without having to go outside of the

immediate area as you recall when you were a child?

(Mr. McCartney): Not totally because all of us had to

go...most of us had to go out of the area to work but other than

that I'll agree with you.

(Mrs. Ford): Well would you say there were some employment

from within the community that itself that supported residents of

the community.

(Mr. McCartney): Oh definitely, definitely, all those bars,

those funeral homes, the barber shops, the restaurants, the

theaters, the Miami Times, the drugstores, all those places

employed people right out the neighborhood.

(Mrs. Ford): What should be the relationship between Overtown

and Downtown Miami?

(Mr. McCartney): I don't think you can compare the two.

Downtown Miami has always been strictly a business district.

Overtown was a living place so I don't see the comparison ah let

downtown be downtown and let Overtown be a living place.

(Mrs. Ford): When you have visitors from out of town, where


18











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

County's African-American or Black community?

(Mr. McCartney): Well you're limited. You can take them

Overtown, what use to be. You can show them the

where D.A. Dorsey use to live. You can show them where the Carver

Hotel use to be. You can show them all these use to be. Where the

Economy Drugstore use to be. Where the Ritz Theater use to be,

where the Rockland Palace use to be but there is nothing over there

to show them now. That's, it's ah, you can say you know of any

interest. There's nothing left. I think they say the Dorsey house

is kind of preserved now, the Mary Elizabeth Hotel which was one of

the nicest hotels in the south, that's no longer there, the ah, ah,

Dorsey Hotel, that's no longer there, none of the theaters are

there, the...you don't have any theaters in the neighborhood. Not

even out here, we had this thing over here the Carver, that's

completely gone, even out here so there's nothing historically to

show anything.

(Mrs. Ford): 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.

(Mr. McCartney): Well like I repeated a living place where

the people don't have to sit on the corner all day drinking beer,

drug dealers all over the place, decent housing, some businesses to

support themselves. Put the place back in it's perspective, where

you have ah your shops and what not, you don't have to go 30 miles

out of your way to do grocery shopping on the weekend. That's the


19











only think of, that's all I can say about it.

(Mrs. Ford): Mr. McCartney let's go down memory lane.

Pretend that you are a young man growing up in Overtown. I'm going

to discuss some activities and I would like for you to give me

details regarding it. When you were growing up Overtown, what

comes to mind when you think about the Orange Blossom Classic

Parade, it's football game and festive events? Please elaborate.

(Mr. McCartney): Ah, you're getting to me now. See I was in

college the first year the umm Orange Blossom Classic came to Miami

in 1947. I was in the band the year just before they came here.

The FAM C band, it wasn't FAM B, FAM C. I was just beginning my

senior year in college and the Classic come to Miami, the dream

come true to me because even up there in school we use to brag

about Miami and how it would be to have the game played in

someplace other than Tampa, Orlando or Jacksonville and ah when the

band came here...when the game...when they moved the game here,

I'll never forget the band had hand-me-down uniforms from the

University of Florida. That was Dr. Foster's that was his, he came

in '45, that was his second year as band master as FAM G at the

time.

(Mrs. Ford): How receptive were the community residents

concerning the Orange Blossom Classic?

(Mr. McCartney): Oh, everybody was astatic about it.

Everybody was happy. People went shopping for new gowns and fur

pieces just to wear to the game, fancy hats and stoles and they got

ah...you dressed to a T umm it was like it was Christmas.

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Mrs. Ford): Was the event well supported?

(Mr. McCartney): It was well supported. I think the first

ame drew at least 30,000 people and we directly

we had a beautiful game, the whole weekend, everywhere you went was

the Orange Blossom Classic is coming to Miami, the Orange Blossom

is here. We had our own boys on the team that was stars, we had

Powell. The next...the morning after the Classic the Miami Herald,

I don't think they even ever had Joe Louis' picture on the front

page but the Miami Herald had, First Black to Score Touchdown in

Orange Blossom Stadium, in umm, yeah it was Orange Blossom Stadium.

Nathaniel Travis Powell and ah that made every happy because he was

a homeboy. It was just nice, it was just nice...nobody had ever

seen...and from that day on, it just stared dying in the late last

10 years it stared dying. When you said Classic, downtown

merchants knew that the Blacks were coming to shop, they'd save

their money like they were saving for Christmas.

(Mrs. Ford): During these events what would you say life was

like at the hotels? Sir John, the Carver Hotel and the Mary

Elizabeth Hotel, were they well patronized for the event?

(Mr. McCartney): Well the Mary Elizabeth was the hub because

I think the team stayed there and then Lord Calvert it was then

before it was the Sir John, that hadn't long opened but the Mary

Elizabeth was the hotel for the teams and ah, the band stayed in

people's houses because half the band stayed at my house and ah the

Browns' house on Fourteen Terrace and the family was

musicians and most of the went to FAMC. It was


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just a weekend of activities. People had house parties and every

place, every bar had the orange and the green ah FAMC. I don't

remember what Hampton's colors were at the time. What Hampton

colors were but they had been Hampton colors for the Hampton team

and their staff and it was just a beautiful weekend. And that day

we moved...we could only use one side...I think we could only use

one side of the Orange Bowl in them days, White on one side, Blacks

on one side. I think that was true you know, customary in them

days but you really saw the Classic, that was bigger than

Christmas.

(Mrs. Ford): As we travel down memory lane, we're going to

move on and let's think about the Junketnews' parades and

activities, can you tell us something about Junketnews and their

activities.

(Mr. McCartney): Junketnew, mostly, people didn't know about

Junketnew unless you went to the Bahamas until really 'til Goombay

time. Now we had Junketnews, we use to come out Christmas

morning...we had something called the Shepherds, it was a fraternal

organization and their thing was Christmas morning, they'd start a

parade. They'd go to church service say about 5:00 on Christmas

morning and they'd have a big parade and in them days Miami had

about two or three different community bands like the band they

have now the had at least 3 community bands and all those

bands...the Masonic Order use to turn out with them and then they

would have guys, we use to call the guys out the avenue to...with

drums, most of them were of Bahamian...their heritage was Bahamian

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and they made the spent and they would put

on anything and go out Christmas morning. That's when you saw the

Junketnews because the Junketnews mostly...when we really found out

what Junketnews was when Goombay came to Miami and with those fancy

costumes, it was a tradition in Nassau for every holiday just about

the Junketnews use to perform in the Bahamas with the fancy

costumes and whatnot but we didn't know that Junketnew until

Goombay came.

(Mrs. Ford): Mr. McCartney, I heard that on Monday's way back

Overtown when Northwest Second Avenue was a mecca that people would

take off on Monday and they would dress up and be stirring and

going from place. Can call to memory any activity such as that?

(Mrs. Ford): Well to be frank with you, I was too young to be

a part of that at the time but it was called Blue Monday and I

don't know if this was true or not but see in our days most of the,

these are from the big band era... Duke Ellington, Count Basie,

Benny Goodman, Buddy Johnson that was our era and

most of those bands use to perform from Sunday night and most of

the guy use to go out dressed to kill on Sunday night to these

dances and dance and party until 2:00 and they couldn't go to work

on Monday so (laughter) and that's why and they and ah not only

Miami, Palm Beach had it bad. I remember after I got to be grown

we use to go to West Palm Beach on Mondays just for Blue Monday, it

was called Blue Monday.

(Mrs. Ford): Mr. McCartney just for the record can you

explain what it...what is it like if a person is dressed to kill,

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how are they dressed?

(Mr. McCartney): To a "T". Your hat,

whatever the style was you had on...in our days you wore the great

pants, the Zoot Suits and you had your tie on, your hat, your long

chain and your feather in your hat...to a T, you were dressed.

(Mrs. Ford): immaculately dressed.

(Mr. McCartney): That's right.

(Mrs. Ford): Mr. McCartney, I thank you so very kindly for

this interview and in conclusion this is the end of Side #A on my

interview with Mr. Leon McCartney. I am Electra Ford. I am at the

residence of Mr. Leon McCartney, today is Tuesday, August 12, 1997.































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