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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida
A ooorq0 0o15
TELL THE STORY
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
Mr. McCartney I would like to ask you where were your parents
(Mr. Leon McCartney): They were born in Eleuthrea, in the
(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
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
(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?
(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
(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
(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
(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
(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
(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
(Mrs. Ford): Could you describe the street where you lived
(Mr. McCartney): It was just an ordinary old time street,
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
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
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
(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
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
(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
(Mrs. Ford): Could you describe where your family went to the
(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
(Mrs. Ford): Could you describe where your family went to the
(Mr. McCartney): We went...what was the name on Seventeenth
Street Dry Cleaners and ah he was one, yeah, Dan Rowe was another
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
(Mrs. Ford): Could you describe where your family went to
(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
(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
(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?
(Mr. McCartney): Who was the doctor? Dr. Lowery or Dr.
(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
(Mrs. Ford): Can you elaborate a little bit about the
interpersonal relationship among the citizens who lived in the
(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
(Mrs. Ford): How and when did that sense of community
(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
(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
(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
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
(Mr. McCartney): I think it was, I'm not sure. We didn't own
(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
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
(Mrs. Ford): What should be done to improve the Overtown area
now such as transportation projects, attractions, job creation or
(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
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
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.
(Mrs. Ford): Mr. McCartney can you address transportation
projects Overtown. What do you think should be done in that
(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
(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
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
(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
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
(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
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
(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.
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
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
(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
(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
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
(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,
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.