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Andrew Young Interviewee, 1980 May 22 [Box 138, Item 4, Side 1]
Dent, Thomas C.
Topics include: information about father's family, Cleveland Street Neighborhood, and Cleveland House.
00:00 – Dent interviews Young about his father’s side of the family in Lake Charles. His father and his sisters were born in Franklin, Louisiana. His grandfather began as a school teacher after graduating from a school in New Iberia. He then went into business, opening a drug store and other businesses. Later in life, he was involved in the Masonic movement. He was treasurer for three different lodges: the Prince Hall Masons, [Knights of the Pythias?], and the Odd Fellows. 02:58 – He had one of the first Buicks in the area and was harassed about it. He was being harassed about his success, even by the sheriff. He went to the bankers and told them to prepare his [very large masonic] accounts for withdrawal because he was moving to New Orleans due to the harassment. They assured him it would stop. He stayed until he died. His name was Frank Smith Young. He died around 1940. 05:50 – He does not know anything out his grandfather’s father. He suggests that Dent speak to his [Young’s] father. He had wanted Young’s father to go into business. He wanted to be a dentist. His grandmother had died while Young’s father was young. His grandfather married his first wife’s sister, who had gone to take care of the children. They did not go over much after his grandfather died. 07:45 – His father had a mobile dental clinic he toured around Louisiana around 1936, where he fixed teeth for free. They would travel with him in the summer and visit his family in Franklin and Lake Charles, as well as in Beaumont, Texas, where Young had second cousins. 10:00 – Young was not close to any of them. He remembers his Uncle Laddie [?] in Beaumont, and his neighbor [Algie?] Washington, who they called Pops. Pops told them stories about the frogs having church. He had lost his sight. He was around 55 or 60. 11:30 – Charles Price, his cousin, came to live with them when he was in high school. His grandmother, Louisa Fuller, lived with them in New Orleans. His Uncle Johnny. His grandmother is who he was closest to. She lost her sight as he was learning to read and he read the Bible and the newspaper to her. He was closer to the relatives on his mother’s side because none of them had children of their own. He talks about his mother’s siblings and his grandmother’s adopted children. 14:50 – His mother and father went to Straight College and had a network of classmates and friends. Mack McCann was a friend of his father’s and taught industrial arts. There were always people there. Whoever was there ate dinner with them. Black middle class in New Orleans. 19:00 – Young’s father. The two were always very close. He was a philosopher. He believed in being friendly and speaking to people. He was a good athlete. They would play catch at their house on Cleveland Avenue. Ralph Metcalfe was coaching track at Xavier University and went to his father to have his teeth fixed, and his father asked Metcalfe to give Young pointers on running. He also had patients who were boxers. They would take them to the gym in lieu of payment sometimes. Eddie “Kid” Brown taught him fundamentals of boxes. He went to other sporting events with his father. 23:25 – Dent saw Young’s father as encouraging. He wished his father had taken as much interest as he did. Young’s father took him places too. He was a sensitive man and loved people. Young says he was very non-directive. He would ask questions and make him think about things. 25:53 – His Uncle Walter was his mother’s brother. He waited tables at the Roosevelt Hotel. He worked nights and took them swimming during the day in the summer. He gave them things. He would save his tip money and buy presents for kids or give it to the church. He would use his vacation to paint the church. 28:02 – Young’s father played baseball. He waited tables in the Catskills. Each resort had a baseball team. He was a shortstop, and also played in college. He was small, but was always competitive. 29:54 – Young grew up in an integrated neighborhood. Straight College’s presence meant the whites were always used to dealing with educated black people, although most of the whites were not even high school graduates. Black people owned around 20% of the houses in the neighborhood, but most of the black people who owned homes did not have children. Most of the other children were white. He talks about some of the white children he played with. Another black boy named Dan Christian moved in later. Some of the children stay in touch with his mother. It was understood that although the boys played together, he would have nothing to do with the girls. 33:30 – Their house was always open to the other children. Some relatives of the white children resented their closeness. One boy’s aunt paid him not to play with him. He brought the money to his house and they bought cold drinks and Moon Pies with it. His father also had white patients. 35:10 – His father’s natural gregariousness. Young would go downtown by himself to go to the dental supply store for his father. They made him put on a tie to distinguish him from a poor black kid so that he would not be accused of stealing. They would tell him not to go into any other stores. They played football on Galvez Street and would play hockey on skates. They were always the only black people. Kids from other neighborhoods would try to hurt them or put them out of the game, but it was their football. His grandmother told them to hit anyone who called them a “nigger.” His father always told them not to fight. 39:52 –They would venture out onto Canal Street and down the railroad tracks on Gravier to Broad by themselves. He would go to Hibernia Bank for his mother. He usually ran places. He remembers other stores he frequented. 42:00 – Crossing Canal, over by Bienville, the neighborhood was all black. He would get harassed by kids across the railroad tracks on Poydras. He was never afraid of the whites, but was always a bit intimidated by the black people. He would fight the whites. He went to Valena C. Jones Elementary School, which was out of the neighborhood. He was put in third grade when he went to public school at six years old because he could already read and write. The older kids would try to take his lunch money. He would find ways to get around it, like not eating in the cafeteria. Dent remembers lettuce and tomato sandwiches in the cafeteria. [Side 1 ends, continues on Side 2.]
Young, Andrew, 1932-New OrleansChildhood & youth
New Orleans (La.)
Tulane University Digital Library
Amistad Research Center
Audiocassette, mono. 16-bit
Box 138, Item 4, Side 1, Tom Dent collection, Amistad Research Center at Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana
Physical rights are retained by the Amistad Research Center. Copyright is retained in accordance with U. S. Copyright laws.