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Interview with: Bradley Jackson
Interviewed by: Nicolas Castellanos
Date: February 4, 2010
Archive Number: OH
Nicolas Castellanos (NC): Well good afternoon today is February fifth, excuse me, today is February fourth, 2010, and we are at the African American Library at the Gregory School, and we are conducting our neighborhood voices project, oral histories, and today we are joined by a Mr. Bradley Jackson, and good afternoon.
Bradley Jackson (BJ): Good Afternoon.
NC: And for our record would you please just state your full birth name, place of birth, and the year you were born.
BJ: My name is Bradley Burnwell Jackson. I was born December eighth, 1922 in Nashville, North Carolina.
NC: Ok, Mr. Jackson and…you…Wow! 1922, and you’ve been in Houston, since?
BJ: I came to Houston in 1947, briefly, but then, I, through the passage of time, I settled perminatedly in Houston in 1955.
NC: And before coming to Houston in 1947, you were a student at Tuskegee University?
BJ: No, no, I had graduated.
NC: Excuse me.
BJ: Yeah, in 1947, I was working in Waco, Texas. My wife at the time had relatives in Houston so we visited relatives, here, from Waco, where we were working.
NC: Ok, my mistake. You did go to Tuskegee University, you attended there as a student…1939-1943. And, what degree did you earn? And what were your interests there?
BJ: I was a student in the Mechanical Industries Department. I loved automobiles; I worked on automobiles at the time.
NC: Ok, while you were there, you were there at the same time as a Dr. George Washington Carver.
BJ: That’s correct.
NC: And you also participated in…he passed away in 1943, while you were there, and you participated in his funeral service, would you please talk about that.
BJ: I was a senior at the time, and a member of the ROTC, commissioned officer; the senior members of the ROTC were selected to serve as pallbearers for Dr. Carver at his funeral. I happen to be one of those senior members of the ROTC and it was my privilege to serve as a pallbearer for him.
NC: Yeah, I can imagine, and I was wondering, did you take any classes with Dr. Carver.
BJ: No. Dr. Carver was in another department. I was in the mechanical department. Dr. Carver was more or less an agriculturalist. His interest at the time was the research station that they had granted onto him and he spent most of his time there in that research station, walking around, collecting plants, and things of that sort.
NC: Is there…let me ask…from your memory what was the emotion? What was the feeling, that you had as a pallbearer for George Washington Carver?
BJ: At this time, the country was engaged in World War II. We did not have too many dignitaries come down to Dr. Carver’s funeral at that time for that reason. My emotions were the feeling, the lost of such a great man, and the impact that he had on this country, and the little notice that was given to his death at that time, it was probably because of the fact that we were engaged in a war. Usually after school, we had visits from everybody, including Eleanor Roosevelt, who came down quite often to visit the school. And other dignitaries came down from time to time to deliver addresses in the chapel, there, which was our humblest place of assembly for important events of that nature.
NC: That sounds like quite an experience. And you touched history in many ways.
NC: And going further, going forward in your life from there; you did mention that before moving to Houston permanently, that you went…you were in the military.
BJ: Yes, I was.
NC: And you mentioned earlier that you were in the Korean War.
BJ: “M hum”
NC: When you were in the Korean War, your family, your immediate family, your wife and you said you had a child, they were here in Houston.
BJ: They were in Houston, yes,
NC: So after your service, in Korea, you came back to Houston?
BJ: Temporarily, yes. I was on my way to another duty station.
NC: OK, where was that and what was the duty or assignment?
BJ: I had been assigned to Fort Raleigh Kansas.
NC: OK, so, after you finished your assignment in Kansas, you came to Houston in 1955?
BJ: That’s correct.
NC: OK, that’s where you started your life as a Houstonian? And raising your children as Houstonians, where did you live?
BJ: Initially I lived with my in-laws, here in Houston. I went to work and eventually took a job with the Post Office Department and purchased a home in Garden City Park in Acres Homes. And that is where my life really began.
NC: And let me ask, you had mentioned that you did live in the third ward in Houston before.
NC: Do you…is there any businesses that you remember on Dowling Street, and what that was like?
BJ: I didn’t have too much remembrance of the…any businesses because I was primarily concerned with working, trying to get some money. I spent my time, either there at home or at work, at the time, I was working at a little shop down on Fanning Street, before I went to the Post Office. And I was trying to get myself established, it was kind of difficult at the time, but between me, and my wife, and my relatives, we got together and I was able to purchase this home.
NC: You say you worked for the Post Office.
BJ: Yes, I did.
NC: What was the first address that you worked at in the Post Office?
BJ: I worked at the general Post Office, which was downtown at this time, on Franklin Street.
NC: And then how long were you there, at the Post Office, at the address?
BJ: At that address, the Post Office was in the process of converting the Southern Pacific railroad station into the general Post Office, and when that work was completed, I think it was in 1962, I am sorry, ’65…or ’66, I am sorry…’67 somewhere in that area. Then we moved our operations over to the general Post Office there in that area.
NC: Wow, how long did that project take? And when were some of the activities that you remember around the project, around that conversion project.
BJ: My job at that time was a clerk, I worked as a clerk, and we were distributing mail at that time when I decided I wanted to move-up a little higher, so I took the examination to become a member of the maintenance department. At that time, the Post Office Department was doing a lot of mechanization, and I wanted to be a part of that, and that’s what I did. I moved over to the maintenance department, I took a job…what they call a mail processing equipment mechanic. And that’s where I worked and spent the remainder of my time at the Post Office, in that position.
NC: And you said that you lived in Acres Homes.
NC: Good afternoon again, part III.
NC: And OK, Mr. Jackson, you moved to Acres Homes in 1957
BJ: “M hum”
NC: And when you got to Acres Homes, it was, would be, what Houston would consider, a newer development,
BJ: Yes, it was.
NC: And would you please describe some of the neighborhood.
BJ: Most of the streets in Acres Homes were narrow streets. It was, there were mostly two lane, but in…on occasion sometimes some of the streets sat…one car had to stop, in order to let the other one by. The streets were that narrow. Most of them were undeveloped. Victory street, at that time, was being developed it was the two lane street. Eventually they made it into a four lane boulevard; one direction on one side of the ditch, the other direction on the other side of the ditch, there is a great big ditch there, between Sheppard Drive, and West Montgomery Road.
NC: Let me ask, what were some of the, what were the speed limits for cars on these roads? And how long did it take you, say to drive to Houston? Drive to work to downtown Houston?
BJ: It took about 30 minutes because at that time Interstate 45 was being built and developed. And when I-45 opened up it then it was just a matter of about 20-30 minutes to get from my house down to where I worked at the Post Office.
NC: What route did you use before 45 was built?
BJ: Before 45 was built, we would travel down West Montgomery, and we would take either Sheppard, or Yale street down to Washington Avenue, and then we would go East on Washington Avenue over to the Post Office.
NC: Interesting, and now had children that attended schools in Acres Homes; do you remember some of the names of those schools?
BJ: I think the first school that they had, was Garden City elementary school. Then when the schools were integrated, they went to a school that was located on West Mount Houston road called Nimitz Elementary School. There was another middle school there and it was…I can’t recall the name of it, but anyway it was close by Nimitz Elementary School. And from there, my children went down to Klein High School, which was over… a pretty good distance away. And that was where they were educated all of them were educated.
NC: Did your children…some leave, some stay here in Houston?
BJ: Did they, what?
NC: Did they stay here in Houston?
BJ: Oh yes.
NC: Ok, and they are here right now in Houston?
BJ: Well, not now. They have graduated and moved on. My son right now is in Atlanta, Georgia, he’s working for Monsanto Chemical Company. My oldest daughter is here in Houston, as is my youngest daughter. I lost my youngest son in 19…or rather 2007. He was living here in Houston; he at that time was working at the Post Office…So um.
NC: Ok, and let me ask, you are also a Deacon right now?
NC: You are also a Deacon right now?
BJ: Yes, I am.
NC: Would you tell us a little bit about some of your work there. What church you are involved with and?
BJ: Around 1961, my church membership was in Third Ward. I was going to Saint Johns Baptist church on Gray Street, I wasn’t doing very much, because, working at the Post Office at the time, I did not have very much time on Sundays to do any church work or worshiping. So my oldest son came to me one time, he says “Daddy” says, “We are having such a problem, going to church,” says “Why don’t we find us a church here in Acres Homes.” I said “Well, that’s fine, let’s do that.” He suggested that I…join Antioch Baptist Church, under Reverend Even Williams, and we did that, it was about 1961, as I said, and we’ve been there ever since.
NC: And that is Antioch Baptist Church here in Houston?
BJ: Here in Houston, in Acres Homes.
NC: Thank you for joining us today, giving some of your testimony, I hope that you return, and just before we go is there anything you would like to say?
BJ: I worked at Antioch; I found a lot to do. There was a lot of improvement that needed to be done to the church building and what have you and I pitched in and did what I could to help the trusties and others, you know, to work on the church. My pastor took notice of it, and he saw the work that I was doing at the time I was teaching the junior class I was blessed to be the instructor for a lot of the preachers, the young boys who were coming up, and are now preaching, so my pastor took notice of that, and he chose me to be a Deacon, he put me on trial for Deaconship. So in January of 1972, he ordained me as a Deacon, and I was working there as a Deacon there since that time. I was working under Reverend Melvin Lee, and the Sunday School Department, and when Brother Lee passed away then it just felt my duty to become a Sunday School teacher in the men’s department, and that is what I am doing now.
NC: Wow, let me ask, how long have you been doing it by yourself, when…after your friend passed away? Teaching Sunday school?
BJ: It’s been about 30-40 years now.
NC: And how…what is the average size of a class?
NC: The average size of the class?
BJ: It depends, depends on what…some times I have to go to Sunday school two or three times because they don’t assemble themselves when they should. I have members who come in late.
BJ: So, I have to go over the Sunday school lesson with them, the class usually averages about six, maybe ten or twelve people.
NC: Yep, we are trying to capture here is the lives that you have touched here in Houston, in many capacities, and in many positive capacities not only form your own family but from outside, I am truly blessed to meet you today.
NC: It is interesting, I also want to talk about…so it was about…what is the distance from Acres Homes to Houston, roughly, what was you commute when you worked here, when you travelled to work
BJ: It depends, now the Southern most part of Acres Homes borders on Tidwell, and from that point to downtown it is about eight or nine miles, and it takes about twenty minutes.
NC: Well again sir, Thank you for coming here and sharing your story today.
BJ: My pleasure.
NC: And we would love to have you back.