Citation
Interview with Athalie Range, August 28, 1997

Material Information

Title:
Interview with Athalie Range, August 28, 1997
Creator:
Stephanie Wanza ( Interviewer )
Range, Athalie ( Interviewee )
Publication Date:
Language:
English

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Overtown (Miami, Fla.) -- Florida
African Americans -- Florida -- Miami—History
Overtown Oral History Collection ( local )
Spatial Coverage:
12025
Miami-Dade County (Fla.) -- History.
Overtown (Fla.) -- History

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:
University of Florida
Holding Location:
This interview is part of the 'Overtown Collection' collection of interviews held by the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program 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 43 ( SPOHP IDENTIFIER )

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and the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program on
behalf of the Board of Trustees of the University of
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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida










TELL THE STORY
M. ATHALIE RANGE
August 28, 1997

(Ms. Stephanie Wanza): This is Stephanie Wanza and I'm at the

office of Mrs. Athalie Range. Today's date is August 28, 1997,

this is Side #1 of Tape 1.

The first set of questions I'll being asking are regarding

family life. Okay, where were your parents born?

(Mrs. M. Athalie Range): Both my parents were born in Key

West, Florida.

(Ms. Wanza): Okay. Did they ever live in Overtown?

(Mrs. Range): Oh yes. Yes, ah my entire family came from Key

West, Florida to Miami during the year of 1923 and, of course, we

-lived right in the heart of Overtown then.

(Ms. Wanza): Okay, what years did you parents live in

Overtown.

(Mrs. Range): Well from 1923 to 1937 when we departed.

(Ms. Wanza): Okay, what sort of jobs did they have?

(Mrs. Range): My father was a stevedore ah for one of the

large cement or barge companies on Miami Beach that was ah, that

was over at the foot, I believe, of Fifth Street and what could

possibly be called the MacArthur Causeway now. Umm hum. My mother

was a housewife for a part of the time and then after we began to

get a little larger, she took ah jobs, domestic jobs.

(Ms. Wanza): Okay, where were your grandparents born?

(Mrs. Range): All of my grandparents are Nassauvian

(Ms. Wanza): Did your grandparents ever live in Overtown?


1










(Mrs. Range): Yes, ah...my goodness, my parental grandparents

lived in Overtown before the family...before my father's family

came up. I don't remember what years they might have lived there

but when we came here in 1923, they were living on what was then

known as Northwest Fifteenth Street, near Fourth Avenue and ah my

maternal grandmother came with us from Key West when we came here.

(Ms. Wanza): Okay, what sort of jobs did your grandparents

have?

(Mrs. Range): Well, as I said, my father was a stevedore for

a cement company and then as time went on, he eventually taught

himself to cook and I'm pleased to say that he cooked in some of

the outstanding hotels on Miami Beach before gave up his chosen

work. Umm hum.

(Ms. Wanza): And your, your grandparents, what sort of jobs

did they have?

(Mrs. Range): Now, my grandparents, my paternal grandparents

were elderly and ah did not work.

(Ms. Wanza): Okay.

(Mrs. Range): My maternal grandmother because of her great

knowledge of the spanish language, she was a cook in ah some of the

wealthy spanish homes in what we could probably now call ah the

south east section of Miami down in the Brickells, I guess you

would call that but she was an outstandingly good spanish cook.

Umm hum.

(Ms. Wanza): (Throat clearing Excuse me.) Could you

describe what it was like growing up in your parents' household?


2










(Mrs. Range): Well in the household we had a very close

family relationship as I guess most people like to relate to. I

can recall we had dinner together. We, we could not have dinner

until my father got home from work and we all as children had

dinner together. It was not, I mean as a family and that was not

unusual in those days. In those days, ah families more or less

always ate together and if you happened to be at somebody else's

house at dinner time, you just knew better than to accept if they

said, have some dinner, you knew it was time to go home and have

dinner with your own family and you didn't find children wondering

around from first one place and then the other. Ah we, we were all

Catholic, we went to church together on Sundays. I recall as a

small child...I can recall after we would come home from church on

Sundays, my father enjoyed the ah funny pap...you call the funny

paper in the Miami Herald and ah we would sit around on the floor

in the living room and my mother would read the funnies and dad

would be sitting in the big chair. I recall those things very

vividly.

(Ms. Wanza): The next set of questions are regarding

employment from 1945 and 1970. Could describe the jobs you had

during that time?

(Mrs. Range): Let me see. In 1945, finished high school in

1935, ah 1945. Ah I might have been working for Christian Hospital

at that time. I might have been at Christian Hospital at that time

as my memory serves me now. Ah first as a clerk and then as a

bookkeeper, ah not with a, not with a degree in bookkeeping or


3










anything. I'm not, a college graduate but with a wealth of

experience going from one thing to another. I think that might

have begun around between '45 '48, I can't remember definitely,

but ah, I was...I did work for Christian Hospital for quite some

time and then the most outstanding thing that I can remember about

those years was that we opened a funeral home, my husband and I

opened the first funeral home that we had in the year of 1953,

February 1st, we had an opening and we opened over on Northwest

Fifteenth Avenue and Sixty-Seventh Street in a building that was

owned by the late Dennis Smith at that time. Throughout the years,

every since 1953, I have more or less been self-employed in, in the

business. I worked with my husband. For a while, short while after

we opened the business, I continued to work for Christian Hospital

but as the business grew and he needed help in the office then I

took over the office work and did work ah with him continuously

until his death in 1960. When he passed away in 1960, I remained

in the business with the assistance of a licensed funeral director

for, for a year. It was then that I, I knew that I was going to

remain in the funeral business and I knew that if I had planned to

remain the funeral business I would have to have my license. You

can not operate a funeral home in your own name for greater...for

a period greater than 5 years unless you have the license on your

own. So in 1961, I ah went to school. I took my youngest son and

we went to school, I mean I went to school in Boston Massachusetts.

I traveled home every weekend to see that the business was being

properly operated with a licensed funeral director and ah my oldest


4










son who had by that time finished college and we worked that way

until 1 completed my work in, in school and that was 1962. At that

time you needed only have 1 year of ah formal training to become a

licensed funeral director with the addition of your work as an

apprentice. It was a 3 year apprentice ah license, it had to

obtained and, of course, it was rather thoughtful of myself and my

husband, as soon as we went into business which was 1957 and he was

qualified by the Board to have an apprentice, I was his first

apprentice. So that by the time his death occurred, I had served my

apprenticeship consequently when I went to school in 1961 and

completed the formal training in 1962. I needed only to take the

state examination and it was fortunate, I took the state

examination in 1962 and passed that examination so at that point I

was a licensed embalmer. I had only one additional year to go as

a funeral director in training and I did take that training and in

19...late in 1962 I was licensed as a funeral director and, of

course, it would...then I was in full and complete charge of the

funeral home as I have been since that time.

(Ms. Wanza): Umm what kind of hours did you work?

(Mrs. Range): Twenty-four. (Laughter), well ah it was...it

was rather, it was extremely taxing because as soon as I received

my license then my son, who had completed his college work, ah we

both felt the need that we would, he would need a license also in

order to assist me so he went directly to embalming school as soon

as we finished. I often tell the story that ah we didn't do much

flying in those days but he was going to Boston on the Champion


5










that left here in the morning, that was train, and I passed him in

Wildwood coming back, that afternoon. I was coming south and he

was going north, that's how rapidly we had to make the change and

adjust to our way of life. So he went immediately to embalming

school and I believe he received his license in due time because at

that point he did not have his ah, he had not yet served his

apprenticeship so it took him a little longer, but we, we were both

licensed ah in due time.

(Ms. Wanza): (Throat clearing Excuse me.) Where did the

other members of your family work?

(Mrs. Range): Well, ah we have...they all ag some time or

other worked here in the funeral home. Ah they, they did not find

the same fever with funeral work as my oldest son. Ah my daughter

taught school for a while, she, she completed her work in college.

My, I had a son who unfortunately passed away...

(Intercom interruption): Hey mother?

(Mrs. Range): Excuse me.

(Mrs. Range): ...and ah he also taught school for a short

period of time and from time to time they have, throughout their

lives worked for the funeral home. Ah but not steadily like the

son I have now.

(Ms. Wanza): Beginning in the late '50s many immigrants moved

to Miami from the Caribbean including Cuba, Haiti and other

countries. Did those immigrants competed with Overtown residents

for jobs?

(Mrs. Range): Repeat that statement.


6










(Ms. Wanza): In the late '50?

(Mrs. Range): In the late '50s?

(Ms. Wanza): Yes, immigrants came over from other ah

Caribbean countries and other countries throughout the world, do

you...to move into Overtown, do you think those ah immigrants

competed with Overtown residents for jobs?

(Mrs. Range): I'm sure as they came in, they, they competed

with, with ah, with the Blacks for jobs, you see because even

though ah history would have us believe that, the spanish speaking

people came over and took our jobs, I've often heard that stated

but that's was not fully accurate because Black people never had

some of the jobs that were being offered to the spanish people and

people of lighter skin complexion, Whites, ah regardless to what

country they were from. I can very easily recall when there were

no ah Black clerks in stores like Burdine's, there, there were no

Black front, front desk people in any of the hotels on the Beach or

here in Miami or anywhere else. There were no Black people holding

those kind of positions, cleri...other clerical positions, they

just were not being held and when...and the Cubans came over, they

immediately began to fill theses jobs. You could go in a store and

not ah not be able to speak the language, yet they were, they were

holding those jobs and ah so the fact that it was said on any

number of occasions that the Cubans had come over and taken our

jobs. The Cubans got jobs that we never had and I think people

ought to remember that.

(Ms. Wanza): Do you recall people moving into umm Overtown


7










from out of town?

(Mrs. Range): Well I tell you I left the Overtown area in

1937 and that begun ah...that was quite a while before you see, you

are beginning to get into now, where 95 and the Urban Renewal

became a part of our problems. I think it was not until then that

you found people moving in, in different areas and I don't recall

people moving into Overtown in great numbers. I recall people

having to move out of Overtown in great numbers because by that

time, this was in the early '60s, I believe that they began the

Urban Renewal program and, of course, when Urban Renewal became a

way of life, it simply meant that we begun to have a "Black

Exodus." Families were forced to move out because the ah, the road

"and the areas were being taken for the Urban Renewal and for the 95

expressway.

(Ms. Wanza): When you were living in Overtown, from '23 to

'37, do you recall families moving into Overtown from out of town?

(Mrs. Range): Ah, not anymore...from out of town?

(Ms. Wanza): No, I can't truthfully say that I do. Well yes,

I guess there was, I guess there was after the 1926 hurricane or

the 1925, which ever one that was and people were coming in, in

rather large numbers, you see we had ah somewhere through those

years, we had a market crash in 1929...yes there was a great influx

of people but these did not seem to be ah immigrants to me. These

seemed to be the people who were populating the Overtown area and

at that time were people who were coming from places like

Mississippi and Georgia and ether places in the south. I think we


8










had more of an influx of those people than we had of foreigners

coming in until the late '50s or early '60s.

(Ms. Wanza): Okay, what sort of jobs did they have, the

people coming in?

(Mrs. Range): They had the menial jobs, nothing was being

offered Black people under any circumstance whether you came in

from out of town or you were here all the time unless you were

trained to be a teacher which, which was ah, I guess tops on the

list at that time unless you were prepared to go into the ah

schools or nursing or a few doctors at that time, not many, a few

doctors. Other jobs that were being offered to Blacks were, you

know jobs on the garbage truck, street sweepers but nothing about

that.

(Ms. Wanza): Where did the people who came from out of town

live in Overtown?

(Mrs. Range): They lived in the tenements that we had

Overtown. We had places that we called...there was one place in ah

the...apparently were no, no laws rules and regulations regarding

the, the way houses were built at that time and so ah anybody could

come in and buy a piece of land and put up a row of ah houses, they

called them three-room houses, one bedroom, one kitchen and one

living room and ah no one was paying any attention to the laws that

governed zoning or anything like that so that there were many, many

ah little settlements of places ah that outsiders came in, White,

White developers came in and built these almost shacks and ah

rented to people and this is where they lived and it didn't matter


9










whether you had two in the family or twelve if you could all get in

there, you were welcomed so that's what was happening in those

years. That is why we had the areas that you ah probably refer to

today as ah those of you who were born way, way after that, what we

had an area in ah, in Overtown that we called "Good Bread Alley."

Ah I don't know where the name originated from but this was a large

settlement of nothing but three-room houses as far as you could see

and ah then there were others areas. One area over beyond

Northwest Third Avenue between Second and Third Avenue. That area

eventually began to be called "The Bucket of Blood" because there

had been several murders in that area but again they were the small

tiny little huts that they built for people to live in. The, the,

you, you may be old enough to recall there was a place over here on

Forty-First Street that was called Bonded Collection Agency for a

while. Well in the early days this was run ah not in that

particular section but in Overtown by ah this managed by a man

named Luther Brooks who ah, who was, who just ran Overtown as far

as rental properties were concerned and this was all over then they

eventually began as the people began to move out of Overtown ah,

spread out because Overtown was so crowded, then they began

building these big monstrosities all over Liberty City that you see

even some of them today go by no code whatsoever as long as you

could get the building on the piece of land, ah nobody cared, the

government didn't care about whether you had a parking space for

your car, a bicycle, whatever you had, there was no playground

areas provided for Black children. That is why this area, even


10










today appears to be so hodge podge with the different types of

buildings. I can recall when I first moved into this building that

were putting forth some people were owned a store across the

street, were putting forth a very strenuous effort to get a liquor

store across the street because Blacks had begun to move in so

rapidly and they knew that this would be an attraction and because

I had moved in this area to make my funeral home a permanent

fixture of the community, I took the time, my husband and I took

the time to search ah for whatever zoning we could find and we

found that it was against the law to have a liquor store within a

certain area of private homes but they were gung ho...that

commission was gung ho to give these men this license because they

"felt that Blacks did not know and I ah took on a campaign of going

from door to door advising the few Black people who were around

here that this was going to come into our area and as a result we

were able to stand that off. However the commission made every

effort to get it through because they had called commission

meetings at night when we were working and everything else.

Nevertheless, we persevered and that was almost the beginning of

trying to have some semblance of proper zoning in this area.

(Intercom interruption): Mrs. Range?

(Mrs. Range): Yes dear?

(Ms. Wanza): Okay, (throat cleaning), we were wrapping up the

set of questions regarding employment.

(Mrs. Range): Yeah cause I had got off on a tangent, talking

about everything else, haven't I?


11










(Ms. Wanza): Okay, Umm, I'm going to ask you a set of

questions regarding owning a business. I know, even though, you

didn't own the business in Overtown, I'm going to ask you the set

of questions because I think the information is ah important.

Okay, the first question is what kind of business did you own?

(Mrs. Range): Well, I came into this business in Liberty

City, this was a funeral home business that we ah, that we sat out

our first venture on.

(Ms. Wanza): Okay and where was his business located?

(Mrs. Range): It was located in a storefront on Northwest

Fifteenth Avenue and ah Sixty-Seventh Street.

(Ms. Wanza): And who were your employees?

(Mrs. Range): Well, my husband and I ah started the business

"and then we had an ambulance driver whose name was Plutina Parker,

he was one of the employees of the Far Funeral Home, Overtown and

ah for a while we, we were the only three and as funerals or the

needs came up,. we, we ah hired people for special occasions.

(Ms. Wanza): How did you find your employees?

(Mrs. Range): Well, we found ourselves. I looked at him and

he looked at me (laughter), we were there. Plutino was a person

who we knew from former funeral home so there was no problem.

(Ms. Wanza): Who were your customers?

(Mrs. Range): Oh, they are very silent and lovely people, who

never speak back. The customers were the dead people (laughter).

(Ms. Wanza): I know, but the...you know the families from,

from you know surrounding, you know surrounding, were they from


12










surrounding communities, was, was it one major community or...

(Mrs. Range): Yes, yes, we depended ah solely on the Liberty

City area.

(Ms. Wanza): Liberty City area, okay.

(Mrs. Range): Yes, the Liberty City area, that was our, those

were our first customers, then, of course, we branched out.

(Ms. Wanza): And did you ever move the business from that

location to another location?

(Mrs. Range): Yes, yes, the business which as I said was

first on Fifteenth Avenue and Sixty-Seventh Street, ah we projected

for ourselves that we would stay there for 5 years and then look

for a permanent place as the city evolved, you know, as Liberty

-City grew, you see because in those years, now that was when ah,

"the 1-95 was, was ah, well no, that was 1953. Nevertheless,

Liberty City had begun to grow about that time. There was a

gentleman whose name was Mr. Kelly who was selling lots out here in

a small area of Liberty City and people were beginning to purchase

those lots and we felt that in time, Liberty City would expand so

that we projected ourselves that we would live and have our

business at the address that I gave you for 5 years and then we

would begin to look other places but by the time we were in

business 3 years ah the face of Liberty City and the surrounding

areas, this where we are now is called Floral Park, there was

already a thrust for, for the White people to move out because they

being more knowledgeable than we were about what was on the drawing

board for downtown and for its development began to know what was


13










going to happen. It was on the drawing board many, many years

before Urban Renewal came about that the downtown section of

Overtown, where Overtown is located was going to be taken up by

governmental entities and they needed to get the Blacks out, see.

So these people knew that they began to look elsewhere for, for ah

places to live. They also took note that the developers were

coming in and building huge apartment buildings out here in Liberty

City even though there was not, from indications, a demand for them

at that time but they were beginning to build these buildings and

so we felt that sooner or late, the area were we was unless we

could find...where we were I .should say, unless we could find a

suitable place over there that we would need to find somewhere

where we could build and expand. About that time, people began to

"look over in this area of Seventeenth Avenue and the very building

in which we occupy now was a White nursery school, Whites had begun

to move out of the area because here and there a Black family was

beginning to move in and they sought us out because our business

had begun to grow, thy sought us out and offered us this place at

an attractive price and we,purchased. We were the very first Black

Family or business to move into this particular area and that was

in '57.

(Ms. Wanza): And umm you moved into this building, this

address which is 5727 Northwest Seventeenth Avenue.

(Mrs. Range): ...27 Northwest Seventeenth Avenue, yes.

(Ms. Wanza): Okay and umm how successful was relocation?

(Mrs. Range): Well, the relocation, we, we certainly never


14










regretted it ah relocating. However, there were some uneasy

moments over here. There were some threats from people who ah did

not want us in the area. I recall the house right behind the

funeral home which I now own, was owned by a White minister and his

wife and ah they were prompted to say that ah the odor from the

funeral home was disturbing them and funeral homes do not have an

odor, you know, that, that's just a fantasy but ah they were

prompted to say that and other Whites who lived around, in the

neighborhood were quite unfriendly except for a little old lady and

her son who lived on the opposite side. Her son was not ah quite

normal and she was rather dependent and she found friendship in us

ah but we had quite...you could call it a rough time if we had

-allowed it to get us down. They ah...several people called and

"skasid some unkind things but we didn't let that bother us and it was

around the same time that integration was becoming a big, big

circumstance. I don't know how...how soon it was but when my

youngest child was ready to go to school, they were integrating the

Archei Miller School and we received some rather nasty threats

about that but we didn't really stop because we went right on.

(Ms. Wanza): The next set of questions is regarding

neighborhood life between 1945 and 1970. Now I know that you moved

out in '37 so could you, could we umm go ahead and replace those

years from '20, '23 to '37.

(Mrs. Range): Oh sure.

(Ms. Wanza): Okay.

(Mrs. Range): Well, of course, in those years, ah there was


15











a very definite way of life in Overtown. Overtown ah was pointed

out as being on the north side of Fifth Street, north to about

Twenty-First Terrace from the railroad which is on First Avenue

that would have been the eastern boundary over to the railroad on

Sixth Place, that would have been the western boundary, now that is

the original Overtown. You take it from one who knows. That was

the original Overtown and people lived there in a relatively

friendly manner. It was very difficult for Blacks in that they

were not invited to trespass into the other community which was

downtown and it...as, as far as I can remember, it was difficult

but you recall, I was more or less a child at time, nevertheless I

do recall ah some incidents where ah Black people could not go

across the Beach to work unless they had an identification card and

ah, that...those were the days when if you worked you did not

approach the front door, you went around to the back of there. It'

was some...during that particular time that Booker T. Washington

High School was being built and because it was going to be a three-

story high school for Black children when the school was maybe more

than half completed, it was actually bombed and even though they

tried to play that down, there are a few of us who are living

witnesses to know that this actually happened, the school was

actually bombed and it prevented the opening from date to several

months ah at that time. Ah those are the kind of circumstances

that ah, that existed here in Miami during those years. Ah we, we

knew of police brutality but no one dared speak of it because it

was just a no-no.


16










(Ms. Wanza): Could you describe your place of residence?

(Mrs. Range): At that time?

(Ms. Wanza): Umm hum.

(Mrs. Range): The...we lived first on Fifteenth Street, it

was, there were four of us who were children and my mother and

father, there were two bedrooms, ah all of the children occupied

one bedroom and my mother and father occupied the other, that

particular little house had a living room in it and a kitchen. You

didn't have a Florida rooms or anything like that and there was a

bathroom to that house. Now, the reason that this house was built

as well as it was, was because it once belonged to the owners even

though they were Black, they had built another home and moved into

-it. So they did have a bathroom. They had a bathtub and toilet

"and the basin but this was built on the back of the house, you went

out of the kitchen door and then into the bathroom, all on the same

premises but I would hasten to say that great in number of places

were not as well equipped. Ah most of my friends lived in the

three-room houses that I've described to you which was known Good

Bread Alley and even though we did not live in Good Bread Alley

there were many of these houses were built in other places. These

houses were what you call one, just one straight through ah

partitioned off in three rooms and on the back was a toilet and

stool. It did not have, they did not have basins in them. They

were all ah city water, they were not septic tanks or anything.

They were all flush toilets but ah that is the condition that

existed at that time.


17










(Ms. Wanza): Who lived in your household? I know you just

explained your mother and your father and four sisters and

brothers.

(Ms. Wanza): Four sisters, okay.

(Mrs. Range): Yes, we had two boys and two girls.

(Ms. Wanza): Could you describe the street where you lived?

(Mrs. Range): Well yes, on ah Fifteenth Street, surprisingly

enough this is what I say abou* not having zoning laws. Ah there

were 2 and 3 families who were quite well off. The lady who lived

in...right in front of us was a lady who a music teacher. She had

a large upstairs house, very nicely furnished and ah the lady right

next to her, her husband was...worked on the railroad and he had a

-good job I guess and they built a CBS home right there and down the

street there was a man who was engaged in selling what they called

Cuba, that was the numbers and so he made a good living (laughter).

He had a nice home and then my uncle, ah who at that time had ah,

had a rather,, spacious home and ah my uncle was a rum runner

(laugher). He had ah, he had several boats he owned. His, one of,

one of my uncles was a boat builder, he could build the boats and

the other uncle had several boats and he brought ah, he brought

liquor from Cuba or Nassau, wherever it was coming from into Miami

so that, he, he did well and that was all in one block.

(Ms. Wanza): Where did your neighbors work?

(Mrs. Range): Now the neighbors who worked ah in that area,

they were mostly domestic workers, see. Ah everybody, more or less

was somebody's maid and ah one of the, one of the occupations that


18










were popular at that time was couples living on premises. The

lady, the woman of the house was a maid and the man, was the butler

and they, they would work on premises. I, I can't recall what

happened if they had children. Maybe the children were with their

parents or something but they, they would have this butler and maid

situation and on Thursdays they'd get a half day off and most of

the people it seemed were rather, rather congenial. The drive home

in the boss man's big and they would come over and visit their

families and everything, have a nice time on Thursdays and then

they would go back and work the remainder of the week. It was a

nice situation.

(Ms. Wanza): What happened to those neighbors?

(Mrs. Range): Well, those who haven't made it as far as me

have gone to glory (laughter). They ah, they moved in other areas,

ah people of which I speak were my mother and father's age and ah

if both of those were living today, they would be over 100 hundreds

old so I could say with fear of contradiction that they are all

dead.

(Ms. Wanza): And the kids who were, who were your age, they

moved out, to different areas?

(Mrs. Range): Ah well some of them moved out. I could

probably count on, on the fingers of one of my hands those who I,

those I, those who I could remember now and who are still alive.

I have a friend who, who was, who became a nurse and the doctor and

eventually the widow of one of our doctors here and that was Mrs.

Idella Hogan. She still lives on Eighty-Seventh Street in the


19










neighhood where my son lives and even though she invalid, she ah...

(Intercom interruption: ah, excuse me)

(Ms. Wanza): Okay, we were on the question, what happened to

your neighbors and you said, most of them moved out.

(Mrs. Range): Yes I was speaking of the neighbors who were

still my age. Ah I have, I have now, now ah...

(Knock at door)

(Mrs. Range): Yes darling? Beginning where?

(Ms. Wanza): Okay, umm we were talking about the neighbors...

(Mrs. Range): About the people, yes...

(Ms. Wanza): ...and they left

(Mrs. Range): Yes, now ah Idella Hasty was one of my

neighbors, she lived on, on Fifteenth Street and as I told you she

grew up to become a registered nurse, she married a doctor, he

eventually died and she still lives on Eighty-Seventh Street and

there are several others that do not come to mind at the moment but

ah there is another young woman, who, who became a teacher and she

still lives. Her name is Constance Sandors, she...I, I knew her ah

as being very young. I can't think of too many more.

(Ms. Wanza): Okay, umm could describe the main business areas

you went to in Overtown?

(Mrs. Range): Yes, the main business areas were more or less

well...now you didn't have any ah large grocery stores like Winn

Dixie or anything like that. You had a Piggly Wiggly but these,

these places and the Tip Top grocery, these places were down on the

bordering edge. They were down on Northwest Fifth Street beyond

20










the Colored, as you call it "Colored Section" when people went

there, they, they usually did their weekly shopping there at the

Tip Top grocery and ah somewhere in the same neighborhood was

probably the Piggly Wiggly store, the other stores ah the large

stores, were down on Flagler Street, Mc Crory's, Kress and those

stores but as far as the neighborhood was concerned, we did have

the neighborhood stores. I shall always remember the store that

was on Fourteenth Street near Twelfth Avenue. Ah this gentleman

was of spanish origin but he was a Black Hispanic and ah my father

knew him from Key West so when we came up to Key West we were in

the same neighborhood and we always went there to shop and every

Saturday night we would go, his name was Yabby. I don't know how

to spell that but we would go to Mr. Yabby's shop and buy a full

supply of groceries and I shall always remember each time we went,

he gave, for us, for the children, he gave us a large bag of what

we called Silver Bells, you know what the little Hershey chocolates

are? He's give us a whole basket, a whole bag of Silver Bells

every Saturday night. I remember that quite well. As far as...I

don't remember dry good stores and the likes unless they were

Jewish, there was a place on Third Avenue, ah right in an upstairs

building where the McKenneys who was an old family, where they

lived and owned a building, there, there was this ah Jewish store

there and they sold everything, dresses, clothes, shoes, you know,

whatever you could buy. There were ice cream parlors. There was

the one whose name was Mr. Mitchell on the corner of Fifteenth

Street and Third Avenue and then across the street from that which


21










was probably one of the larger Black grocery stores was a Mr. Lee

but that was about the...on Second Avenue there were a number...but

we were not allowed to go on Second Avenue, we went very, very

seldom because my father was rather strict and I am

the days of which I speak we were rather small but as we grew into

teenager and we were allowed to go to the movies once a week. That

was when the Lyric Theater was there and eventually the Ritz came

around and they had a few stores there and naturally you get into

ah the Leonard's store where at Classic Time everybody went to buy

a suit so they could be dressed up for the Classic.

(Ms. Wanza): Okay, (throat cleaning) can you describe where

your family bought groceries?

(Mrs. Range): Yeah I just described it.

(Ms. Wanza): All those different, the different...

(Mrs. Range): No, no I told you Mr. Yabby.

(Ms. Wanza): Oh, Mr. Yabby, that's right. Okay, so you

didn't go to Tip Top or the other Piggly Wiggly.

(Mrs. Range): No we seldom went down there. My father always

brought the groceries from his friend.

(Ms. Wanza): Could you describe where your family went to the

barber shop and beauty shop?

(Mrs. Range): Ah, well, we didn't go (laughter) to the beauty

shop. We didn't ah That's my mother's

picture over there so she didn't go to beauty shop...you see that

roll of hair?




22










(Ms. Wanza): Umm hum, umm hum.

(Mrs. Range): That's my mother's picture, so you could see

that she had...and ah...

(Female whisper): Oh, she had nice hair, she had nice hair.

(Mrs. Range): and this was my, my brother and sister and

myself so umm, that little one there is me, the one who they

pinched and made me cry (laughter), yes. So I guess that answers

that question.

(Ms. Wanza): Okay, so you did your own hair, excuse me your

mom did your family hair.

(Mrs. Range): Yeah, we just combed it, brushed it here like

I do (laughter).

(Ms. Wanza): Could you describe where your family went to the

drugstore?

(Mrs. Range): As, as youngsters Mitchell Drugstore was

on Fifteenth Street and Third Avenue and later on there was a

drugstore on.. Fourth Avenue and Fourteenth Terrace but the

prescription drugstore and I remember this as I was a little older,

was the Economy Drugstore that was owned and operated by Dr. Elmer

A. Ward who was a, ah, what do you call it?

(Female voice): Pharmacist.

(Mrs. Range): Pardon me who was a pharmacist.

(Ms. Wanza): Could you describe where your family went to the

cleaners?

(Mrs. Range): The cleaners, I... wow, I don't even remember

going to the cleaners, sure can't.


23










(Ms. Wanza): Okay.

(Intercom interruption): Mrs. Range?

(Ms. Wanza): Umm, we were talking about the cleaners and you

said you can't recall if you went to the cleaners.

(Ms. Wanza): Could you describe the churches your family

attended?

(Mrs. Range): Yes, we are all Catholic. Let me write this

out.

(Ms. Wanza): This is end of Tape #1, Side #1. We will

continue the questions regarding family life between 1923 and 1932

on Side #2 of Tape #1. This is Stephanie Wanza interviewing Mrs.

Athalie Range.

(Mrs. Range): Alright now. Now, what the church?

(Ms. Wanza): (Throat clearing), Yeah.

(Mrs. Range): We are all Catholics and ah...

(Ms. Wanza): And what church did you attend.

(Mrs. Range): We attended...when I first came to Miami in

1923...(TAPE ENDED.)

(Ms. Wanza): Testing, 1,2,3. This Stephanie Wanza. I am

continuing the interview with Mrs. Athalie. We are at her office.

Today's date is August 28, 1997 and we were on the set of question

regarding neighborhood life between 1923 and 1937 and we were

discussing the churches umm that your family attended.

(Mrs. Range): Alright, the...when we came to Miami in 1923,

there was no established ah Black Catholic church. My aunt whose

husband worked for the JAYJFW which was the downtown church ah

24











became a Catholic in the interim over the years and, of course,

when we came to Miami, she began taking us to church with her on

Sunday mornings and this was a walk from say Fifteenth Street and

Fourth Avenue to Northeast Second Street and Northeast First Street

I think, Second or First Street, Second Avenue where the JAYJEW was

then and still stands today. At that time segregation was

such...was so well established in the City of Miami that Blacks and

Whites were not allowed to mingle consequently they condescended

and gave the Blacks who were Catholic one seat in the rear of the

church. You, you sat in the back seat and as time went on a few

more people began coming from other sitters who were Catholic,

they, we got up to two seats. It was during this time that ah we

received our first communion and of course, that in the Catholic

church is a celebration and the White children received their first

communion in the main body of the church. JAYJEW has a basement"-

and because of the laws, they did not allow us to receive communion

with the Whites but they arranged an altar and ah what was

necessary in the basement and the mass for the Black communicants

were held in the basement. Now that was my very first introduction

to attending to church here in Miami. As time went on, we got a

mission on Northwest Eleventh Street and Third Avenue and after a

few years we were able to build a small church on the corner of

Sixteenth Terrace and ah Fourth Avenue and even though it is not

the original church, the church that stands there today still

replicates that, that was built there for us ah many, many years

ago.

25










(Ms. Wanza): And what was the name of the church?

(Mrs. Range): St. Francis Xavier. That church is still

there, ah we are pleased to say that there is school there also ah

which houses more than 100 Black children right now and they are

getting Catholic training.

(Telephone ringing)

(Ms. Wanza): Could you describe the places your family went

for entertainment such as theater's, bars, restaurants and sporting

events and I know you said you went to the Lyric?

(Mrs. Range): Umm hum.

(Ms. Wanza): And what other places did you go to?

(Mrs. Range): Yes we went to the Lyric Theater, the Lyric

Theater was the home of the Mickey Mouse Show, I understand many,

many years ago ah they...when Mickey Mouse was first born, I guess,

to the theater, they, they had clubs all over the country and they

called it Mickey Mouse Clubs and every Saturday they would have ah

show, a live, show for all of the youngsters who wanted to

participate...what do you call that kind of...

(Female voice): A talent show?

(Mrs. Range): Yes. They would have talent show as such and

many children won prizes there at the Mickey Mouse, ah that was

what they called the live theater then. That theater is incidently

being refurbished now. We also went to the Lyric Theater in later

years. My parents were not, were not people who went out for

entertainment. They were of the old school and so they did not go

to bars or anything. Whenever there were church affairs, the


26










church would give certain teas and ah maybe little dances and

things that we all attended together but that was pretty much the

extent. It was not until I became of age and married that we

began, my husband and I and our friends began going to ah the one

hotel here that was there for entertainment. I believe that was

the Sir John where the stars, Black Stars who came down to perform

and who could not live on the Beach lived at the Sir John and they

performed over there and then, of course, after the shows were over

on the Beach, then they came over and performed for us for free so

it was pretty good. I remember having seen Dinah Washington, she

is charming lady, ah she's my favorite soloist, I love to hear

Dinah sing and many of the other, many of the other people who came

and incidently here a picture of Lena Horne I went to school for a

few years here in Miami ah as a child with Lena Home, her parents

lived here very briefly and she attended the Carrie Bell Anderson's

little private school and I attended at the same time.

(Ms. Wanza): When someone in your family got sick where did

they go to the doctor's office?

(Mrs. Range): Early on the doctors would come to the house.

There was Dr. Benjamin, I remember quite well who would ah, who

would make house visits. Baby's were born at home ah if you had to

go to the hospital, we were very fortunate, I suppose you could say

we were a rather healthy family. I don't remember any dashing

circumstances where we had to be rushed to a hospital but I do

recall one night, my, my mother was accidently either stung by a

scorpion or bitten by a small snake. I don't know which it was but

27










ah her body became very rigid and my father and my brother-in-law

I think it was ah put her in a car and rushed her out to Jackson.

I think that was Jackson Memorial Hospital where she was taken.

When I became of age and began...was married and having my

children, ah my youngest child was born at Christian Hospital which

was a small Black Hospital located on First Place and Twelfth

Street and ah that was where most Black people went at that time.

If there were emergencies I guess they were taken to Jackson.

(Ms. Wanza): How long did you continue to patronize those

businesses in Overtown?

(Mrs. Range): In Overtown, well by the time we moved out in

1937, ah most of the businesses of which I speak, well were no

-longer there but ah the Economy Drugstore was still there and, and

"wte still went over the Economy Drugstore because at that time when

we moved out there were not a lot of established businesses in

Liberty City. You see people moved out from Overtown in 1937 by

"Choice. They-were not, they were not pushed out and the reason ah

many people moved out of Overtown because the housing there was

poor and the government just started building the housing that you

see here now, the Liberty Square Housing Project was the first one

and people from all over were really putting in applications to try

to get into these ah well built houses with the nice bathrooms and

doors and the other amenities so that we moved by choice and, of

course, by then I guess people were more or less taking buses going

downtown to shop and ah going back to town to see their friends and

things of that nature.


28










(Ms. Wanza): Umm hum. Oh, I forget to ask umm when I was

asking the set of questions regarding, umm employment, how did you

get to work when you were working as a clerk, how did you get to

work?

(Mrs. Range): Well the distance was not great for one thing.

I lived on Fourteenth Terrace. The Afro-American Insurance Company

was on Ninth Street. Ah when I went to work there I could very

easily work. Ah over on ah, over to the Christian Hospital the

distance was even closer so people who, who had to go to work. I

think, I think perhaps, perhaps the jitneys were in by then. I

can't really clearly remember that but ah I did not have a

transportation problem so I'm aware.

(Ms. Wanza): Okay, (throat clearing) when did you begin to go

"to' entertainment outside of Overtown?

(Mrs. Range): I guess that came along in all probability ah

about the '60s. Ah I know I went over to ah...they called it, I

think they called it the Playboy Hotel at that time on Collins

Avenue. I remember quite well Harry Belafonte came and opened that

club and I, I saw him for the first time ah because, wow! Yes,

because my husband died in 60 and we were, for quite a while we

went to the entertainment as long as it was there on, on Second

Avenue. The places that I probably didn't mention because I was

only thinking of the theater but the places such as the Harlem

Square and ah the Dela Robia. Yes and I went to those even after

we were married, that's right and ah I could remember Cab Calloway

and, and his sister, his sister Blanche who died just a few years


29










ago. She had an orchestra of her own and she played at the Dela

Robia on several occasions and the Harlem Square was a place where,

where dances were held and I imagine it was around that time that

the King of Clubs entertained...any entertainment they gave were in

one of those two places.

(Ms. Wanza): Okay. During the period from 1945 to 1970 or

rather I should change that from 1923 to 1937, what were the main

things that made Overtown a community?

(Mrs. Range): Well I think it's a things that we've probably

discussed, the neighborhood stores, ah I don't remember, I really

don't remember any parks other than the park over that ah, that

D.A. Dorsey had given property to the City of Miami and they called

that the "Dust Bowl" when we were going to school over at Booker T.

Washington High School, called it the Dust Bowl because they never,

they never graded it or anything and that was the park where our

balls went to play football and baseball, things of that nature.

Ah what was the remainder of that question, I I've...

(Ms. Wanza): Ah, ah what were the main things that made

Overtown a community?

(Mrs. Range): Yes, well the schools, the churches. Ah

Overtown was...there were several clubs that ladies had, the sewing

clubs and some of the other clubs that I, whose names I can't

remember now but they did a lot of having teas. Teas were the,

were the social events that they went to and ah these ladies would

have nice teas. I'm trying to think of the names of some of the

clubs but I really can't think of them now but the King of Clubs


30










comes to mind because it was an outstanding group of young

gentlemen of more or less businessmen or professionals who formed

the King of Clubs and at that time during a certain period of each

year they would bring speakers in and they had what you call

"Sunday Afternoon Forums" which was very, very appealing to the

people and they went to the different churches and each time they

went they had just about sale out crowds. This was a part of the

cultural aspect of life in Overtown. These are the kind of things

that brought the community together.

(Ms. Wanza): Okay, (throat cleaning). When and how did that

sense of community change?

(Mrs. Range): I guess the sense of community began to change

"with the incoming of ah, of ah Urban Renewal when, when families

were being bought out and more or less pushed out, the Black Exodus

began. When you moved in one direction, you next door neighbor

moved in another direction, you got together again. When the 1-95,

when 95 came through and the place was...the places which were so

closely connected such as people who lived in Good Bread Alley,

they stood by their own, you know, and when that was wiped out ah

it was just like a chinese wall was built around certain areas of

Miami so that people were just divided, you know, they just came in

were swept out like birds flying in trees to find somewhere else to

go.

(Ms. Wanza): Okay. How has Overtown changed since 1970?

(Mrs. Range): Well it has changed now because their is no

sense of community and ah we still have a few churches there but


31










the greater portion of their populous comes from, comes from

Liberty City, Carol City, wherever those persons who just would not

give up their church you know, sometime people just feel, well I've

got to stay here and go down with but this why I suppose their

memberships have diminished and everything so I think the churches

have been impacted.

(Ms. Wanza): Okay. Umm the next set of questions will be

regarding 1-95. When and how did you first hear about the building

of I-95?

(Mrs. Range): Now 1-95 is a subject on which I am not totally

knowledge but if that's the area that goes from Miami Beach to the

airport or one of these things, it was several years ago when I

"invited to ah two or three meetings...

(Ms. Wanza): Umm hum, now this is 1-95, it's the regular I-

95, north, south. The one that goes on Third.

(Mrs. Range): What? You mean 1-95 that stretches all out

here?

(Ms. Wanza): Yeah, un hun.

(Mrs. Range): It's not 1-95, that's 95.

(Ms. Wanza): Yeah 95.

(Mrs. Range): Un hun. Ah, I can't remember. It was sometime

shortly after Urban Renewal it seems that they were almost

ah...seems like they came almost in the lateral one with the other.

I can't quite remember but this was when the great exodus came of

Black family, this is when an account was given that there was some

eighty-five hundred Black families pushed out of the, of the


32










downtown area to make space for 95 to come through.

(Ms. Wanza): So around what year was that?

(Mrs. Range): That must have been in the late '60s because I

was on the Commission then and before, before I got on the

Commission, I went to the Commission as an appointee in 1965 and

that plan had already passed and was about to be put into action.

(Ms. Wanza): Okay. Where were you living at that time?

Where were would that be?

(Mrs. Range): Ah we were out here in Liberty City where we

are now I guess.

(Ms. Wanza): Okay, I see.

(Ms. Wanza): What kind of a reaction was there to the news

-that an expressway would come through Overtown?

(Mrs. Range): Well, people were very, tremendously upset but

you see, unfortunately, most of the people who lived in Overtown

were not homeowners so it was very difficult for them to do

anything other than ah express their feelings as far as land

ownership was concerned. Just as I said sometime earlier in the

interview because we had not had representation in government on

the Commission on knowing everything that was going on, many

developers came in, purchased a lot of that Overtown property so

that they were not affected other than to sell it back to the

government you see because most of the people who were forced out

of Overtown were people who were renting. It was a good number of

them who were homeowners. Some of them were able to stay like the

Sawyers, they were able to stay. They were able to cut Bethel


33










Church and some of the larger entities out of ah being disrupted by

95 but a lot of people who were in that, in that ah thoroughfare

were caught up and they sold, some of them who I suppose were

thoughtful enough to get good attorneys might have gotten a good

return for their monies. Others were probably just given pennies

and pushed out.

(Ms. Wanza): Umm hum, I see. Did you with your neighbors?

(Mrs. Range): Well having been part of the Commission, when

the building first began, naturally there were, there were many

meetings that we ah talked with people about. I recall having ah

been a part of meeting where Dr. John Dyer who was the

transportation ah for Dade County in those days, I recall having ah

-attended several meetings where he was saying to the people that

"they were able, those persons who had to sell, they were going to

be able to come back and purchase and re-buy parts of the land but

this was not true and, of course Dr. Dyer was quite aware that it

was not true -when he was saying it because what happened, as soon

as the lots were cleared, you see, they re-platted the whole of

Overtown and that's why you don't see or somebody who use to own a

house going over there buying something and putting up a nice

little and a garden anymore because that stuff was all re-platted

and that means that the sewers, not the sewers but the streets, the

sidewalks everything was just all turned all into one, you know,

and ah where, where the expressway goes over and that under

expressway land, at one times those were all little private homes

along there but see they platted and put the expressway over it and


34










you can't buy that land anymore.

(Ms. Wanza): Okay, let me see. I know you just mentioned

that you attended meetings where it was discussed. Did anyone ever

umm discuss the issue with public officials, anyone else on the

commission which was ah, ah...

(Mrs. Range): Sure, Dana Dorsey Chatman was loud, very loud

voice on that because her father owned a great portion of that land

over there and ah she was quite vocal about it. I don's know how

they settled with her but she was very vocal in that there was a

developer from downtown if I could call his name, every, every ah

local official would know him.. Tom Post. He made, he came out and

I understand bought quite a bit of the property simply because he

-was in the "know," he knew what was going to happen over there.

Hurry now baby, I got to go.

(Ms. Wanza): (laughter) Okay, alright. What was the most

important impact of the expressway on you?

(Mrs. Range): As in individual the expressway did not impact

me because I was already out.

(Ms. Wanza): What was the Overtown community able to get from

public officials in return for 1-95 going through Overtown?

(Mrs. Range): I, I haven't seen anything that they've gotten.

They got many, many promises from the office of ah planning and

I've been many meetings with Herb Bailey and others who said

certain things were going to be developed Overtown but all I've

seen developed Overtown was they put a "Y" on Northwest Fifth

Street, ah they are building a medical building for the homeless on


35










the corner of apparently Sixth Street and ah Third Avenue. Some of

the big developers came in and put of townhouses so to speak over

on Third Avenue, Third Court, near Twentieth Street. Those are the

things but I do not, I would not call them amenities, ah to, to the

community.

(Ms. Wanza): How did 1-95 affect the community?

(Mrs. Range): Well as I said earlier, the community was

affected because they lost the sense of community. People moved

into different sections, some of them haven't seen each other since

the moves began. So it was, it was just a community completely

destroyed.

(Ms. Wanza): The next set of questions are regarding public

"housing. I'm just going to ask you a few questions and then we are

g6ing to move onto the set of questions regarding the Metrorail.

(Mrs. Range): Umm hum.

(Ms. Wanza): Okay, umm when and how did you first hear about

the umm building of public housing?

(Mrs. Range): That must have been in 1937. I think public

housing must have begun to have been built in 1935 or 1936 and

probably came up to the, to ah, to the finishing point around 1937.

Un hun and it was stated that public housing would be built because

there was such a dire need for housing over populated cities.

(Ms. Wanza): Okay, what kind of reaction was there to the

news that public housing would come through Overtown?

(Mrs. Range): Well public housing did not necessarily come to

Overtown. Public housing was built in Liberty City.


36










(Ms. Wanza): In Liberty City. I know public housing was

built later in Overtown.

(Mrs. Range): Oh, later in Overtown. I, I cannot give you ah

a, an answer on that because I am removed from the area, however,

by the time they decided to put public housing in Overtown,

homeowners or people who really could have had a voice in it were

gone so I think it did not meet with very much opposition.

(Ms. Wanza): Okay, umm what do you think was the umm impact

of public housing coming into the community? How did public

housing affect Overtown in your opinion?

(Mrs. Range): You know I wish I could answer that question

but I can't because I don't...I really don't know how it affected

"it other than the fact that I, I don't know whether public housing

or anything were received over there where the people are actually

occupying but it ah, the, the bit of, of ah contact that I have had

with the public housing in Overtown, it still seems to be that for

on the underemployed or the unemployed, you know the conditions

still seem to be rather depressing.

(Ms. Wanza): Okay, the next set of questions will be

regarding Metrorail. When and how did you first hear about the

building of Metrorail?

(Mrs. Range): Well the building of Metrorail came along...oh

my goodness, how old is Michael Ray?

(Ms. Wanza): In the late '70s?

(Mrs. Range): Yes.

(Mrs. Range): Hello?


37










(Intercom interruption): Mrs. Range?

(Ms. Wanza): Okay, so we were discussing the building of

Metrorail in the late '70s, they began to build it up early '80s.

(Mrs. Range): Oh yes, that was when ah, that was when we

began the affirmative action pretty much and ah, there was much

discussion about Blacks getting a share of the, of the construction

of Metrorail many companies came in.

(Ms. Wanza): What kind of reaction was there to the news that

Metrorail would come through Overtown?

(Mrs. Range): Well as I said when ah, when that news came

through Overtown was already devastated see, because that's twenty

years later after, after Urban Renewal and ah 95, and those persons

"who were in the, in the pathway of Metrorail were for the greater

part not in Overtown. They were in the Liberty City area.

(Intercom interruption)

(Ms. Wanza): Okay, we were discussing the reaction of umm

Overtown residents when they heard the news that Metrorail would be

coming through Overtown. I know you just said that Metrorail

actually affect the people living outside of Overtown.

(Mrs. Range): It seems that most of them that were on that

corridor, ah coming by Booker T. Washington High School, those

people and the people who came right around that bend from Twelfth

Avenue down Forty-First Street. Now the people who were, who were

downtown ah such as the Sawyers, there properties were not

involved, see the people who were down there, let me see some of

the others. That, that is why the configuration was moved so many


38










time because the people were objecting about the downtown leg of it

and I guess they found it most convenient to come through Forty-

First Street because those homes were very small over there and so

most of people ah were willing to sale and get out.

(Ms. Wanza): Okay, so umm did you ever attend a meeting where

it was discussed or sign or petition or discuss the issue with

public officials?

(Mrs. Range): Yes. There >,ere several or number of meetings

were held. That was where ah, I think we might have run into Dr.

Dyer again with some discussion about it.

(Ms. Wanza): Umm hum, okay.

(Mrs. Range): But the biggest thing with Metrorail was that

"they were selling us on the idea that so many Blacks would get

sitions, you know.

(Ms. Wanza): And that didn't happen?

(Mrs. Range): Naw. no.

(Ms. Wanza): What was the community able to get from public

officials in return for Metrorail?

(Mrs. Range): I don't know if they got anything other than

the convenience of riding the rail of those who needed.

(Ms. Wanza): How did Metrorail affect the community?

(Mrs. Range): Well it ah, here again many people had to move

but that is the greatest affect it had on the community.

(Ms. Wanza): The next and last set of questions are regarding

the future of the Overtown area. What are the most important

misconceptions about Overtown?


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(Mrs. Range): Well I think the most misconceptions about it

is that ah people are still being sold a bill of goods that

Overtown is going to be built up again, that people are coming

alive over there and I just, I just don't see it. This kind of

lingo has been going on for a number of years and, and nothing has

really come of it.

(Ms. Wanza): What do you think public officials need to know

most about Overtown?

(Mrs. Range): I don't know, I think they know all that, all

that has to be known about it. They know that ah Overtown is

there, they know that ah people still need housing, they, they

still need jobs such as they have always needed. The ah whatever

"facilities are built, they have continued to build them just on the

edge of Overtown facing downtown such as the big post office that

they built on Fifth Street, such as the Overtown, the huge

facility, the City of Miami facility that they built there for the

police department is just on the south side so it's all looking

downtown and the Arena was built on the other side of the track and

they slyly try to call that Overtown sometime. So it seems that

they expect that they will just go on and on until slowly but

surely the entire area of Overtown will simply become an addition

to the downtown area and I don't think that they should continue to

tell people that it's going to become a nice little village for

them to live in again because I simply don't see this happening.

(Ms. Wanza): What should be done to improve umm the Overtown

area now such as transportation projects, attractions, job creation


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or beautification programs?

(Mrs. Range): Well certainly, they done little or nothing to

beautify Overtown but now tell me this? What is there to beautify.

They haven't built anything in Overtown to beautify so it would be

foolish to say build a lot of trees and just, and just ah build the

land so people can pass through and say this use to be Overtown.

I think that the plans of the fathers or the principals that be,

those in the know, I think they are handling Overtown just as they

want to handle it. They are going to go right along and let it

become completely devastated and then they will continue to build

government buildings and thing. that all, reached all downtown.

(Ms. Wanza): Umm hum. What should be the relationship

between Overtown and Downtown Miami?

(Mrs. Range): Who is in Overtown to have a relationship with

Downtown Miami? I, you know, I have been very negative on this

because I haven't seen anything that the governmental entities are

doing to create anything that would conducive to a relationship

with downtown and Overtown. No big stores are being built in

Overtown. There is no community to support the stores when they

build them so who's going to come downtown, south, west, north,

east, who's going to come into, you know Overtown to support these

entities? Nobody. They don't have a population over there to

support anything they might build.

(Ms. Wanza): Umm hum. 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?


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(Mrs. Range): Well I talk to them about a lot of things and

I have no problem with taking them down Second Avenue and showing

them Lyric Theater or where the hospital use to be or things of

that nature, if you are going to show them the African-American

culture because that's all we have.

(Ms. Wanza): Could you describe in your own words what kind

of community you would like for Overtown to be in the future?

(Mrs. Range): You know this is just wishful thinking. If

Overtown could again become a neighborhood community that would be

just like a dream come true but let's face the nightmare for what

it is...it simply is not going to be. So, you know, surely I'd,

I'd love to see Overtown with ah, with ah a good area such as the

Lyric Theater, you know, this is how things use to be and ah Second

Avenue come alive again but these things are not in the making and

they are not in the foreseeable future as far as I can.

(Ms. Wanza): Okay, well is there anything else you want to

add?

(Mrs. Range): Not a thing anything, honey. I got to get out

of here (laughter). I've got a million things to do.

(Ms. Wanza): Ah that continues our interview and this is now

the end of the interview. This is Stephanie Wanza. I've

interviewed Mrs. Athalie Range, in her office. This is Side #2 of

Tape #1. Today's date is August 28, 1997.







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