The Houston Oral History Project is a repository for the stories, accounts, and memories of those who have chosen to share their experiences. The viewpoints expressed in the Houston Oral History Project do not necessarily represent the viewpoints of the City of Houston, the Houston Public Library or any of its officers, agents, employees, or volunteers. The City of Houston and the Houston Public Library make no warranty as to the accuracy or completeness of any information contained in the interviews and expressly disclaim any liability therefore.
The Houston Oral History Project provides unedited versions of all interviews. Some parents may find material objectionable for minors. Parents are encouraged to interact with their children as they use the Houston Oral History Project Web site to complete research and homework activities.
The Houston Public Library retains the literary and publishing rights of its oral histories. No part of the interviews or transcripts may be published without the written permission of the Houston Oral History Project.
Requests for permission to quote for publication should be addressed to:
The Houston Oral History Project.
Houston Public Library
Houston, Texas 77002
The Houston Oral History Project reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to decline to post any account received herein and specifically disclaims any liability for the failure to post an account or for errors or omissions that may occur in posting accounts to the Virtual Archive.
For more information email the Houston Oral History Project at email@example.com.
Interview with: Hazel Haynesworth Young
Interviewed by: Elma Barrera
Date: October 5, 2007
EB: Today is October 5, 2007. I am Elma Barrera and I am here with Mrs. Haynesworth, Hazel Haynesworth Young, who is 102 years old, born in 1905, for the oral history project. Good morning, Mrs. Young.
HHY: Good morning. I am not so sure that I am hearing so well. I have had a problem with my right ear. I heard part of what you said but I did not hear the last part.
EB: Well, I said good morning and I will speak out a little bit louder now that I know that you have a little bit of a problem. Is this all right, right here?
HHY: That is fine.
EB: All right, good. Well, we want to get started with your earliest memories -- your childhood, your parents, your neighborhood. Can you tell us a little about that?
HHY: Well, I was born in Navasota, Texas, and my father moved when I was 5 and my little brother was 1, and we came to Houston. He worked at Stowers Furniture Company which was a prestigious company. But later, he took the examination at the post office and passed it and he became a postal carrier and he carried mail from the foot of ______ all the way up to Main Street. He was a mail carrier. And then, they had him with a horse and wagon. He stood up in it and drove all the way. They said the horse knew every mail stop on Main Street. My father was such a wonderful person and they sacrificed so much, he and my mother, to send us to college, all 3 of us. My brother was 1 year old, I was 5 years old, and later, my sister came and she was the baby. So, my mother did not do anything about birth control or whatever it is that she knew, not to space her children - 4, 8 and 12.
And I thank God for the parents that I had. They were so loving and cared so much about their children. We had a cow in the backyard on Davis Street and I guess that is why my teeth lasted so long because we drank fresh cow's milk every day from the cow. And the back of our yard was facing Clark Street and on the other side, were the Wilburs, Mrs. Wilbur and her husband. They were white. And they had a boy, and my brother was the same age. They both had dengue fever at that time. It was kind of a bad disease. My brother survived with hot treatments. Ms. Wilbur's son died with the ice treatment. I never will forget that as a little girl. So, we had some very nice neighbors in the north side. My sister always wanted to be called north side rather than 5th Ward but it was really the 5th Ward. We lived on the corner of Davis at Quitman Street. And, you know, Quitman is still in existence.
EB: Absolutely. What was the neighborhood like at that time?
HHY: Well, we didn't have paved streets, we had gravel. I guess you could say we had good neighbors. Back over on Quitman in the middle of the block was Papa Joe Peacock who _________. He was a chef on the captain's . . . the head of the 5th ward, the head of the . . . I guess he was Richard Caller (sp?), a man who owned the railroads. And Papa Joe worked as a cook or a chef on there. And when they would come into Houston from whatever cities they had traveled to, all the children in the neighborhood would follow over to Papa Joe where we could get all the niceties and the fruits that were left on the railroad. So, we had kind of, I guess you would call, a good community spirit. We looked out for each other.
My father passed the test to become a mail carrier. And then, he was so smart that he had a wagon that he drove up and down from ______ on Main all the way up to Main and they said that he picked up mail at every box. The horse knew every stop. So, we were just proud of our neighborhood and proud of each other. We loved Papa Joe.
EB: And that was the transportation at that time -- a horse and buggy -- for your father at that time and when you were children?
HHY: Yes. My father had the mail car that he stood up in and had a horse that knew all the stops. We did not have a car at all. We rode the street car and the street cars, I think, were about a nickel. We would go up to the corner of Quitman and Clark Street. It is now called Lorraine. And we would get on the bus and ride to church. We had to transfer, I can remember that. My father would take us grocery shopping, and I never will forget the people at Hinkey's (sp?) used to say, "Mr. Postmaster" _______ on the table here while you were buying your groceries. We had a nice relationship in Houston at that time. I think Houston is one of the most liberal cities in the south. That is the way I feel about it. We loved being a part of Houston. I do not know if any other cities - Dallas or all the rest of them - none of them were comparable to the spirit of love between . . . I do not think we ever . . . I know we did have a race riot once. What was that about, do you remember?
EB: A riot?
HHY: A race riot. What was that about?
EB: Well, several things happened a little later and I will remind you a little bit later. Before we get to that, what was Houston like when you were young? Did you actually go with your family to downtown or did you pretty much stay in your neighborhood where the church was and everything else was?
HHY: I don't think we got to town too much. The transportation that we had was, I supposed, the street cars and they were a nickel, I think, apiece, to get on the street car. We would ride the street car. That was at the end of ______ Street and where I lived, Reagan. I cannot recall what the name of the street car, whether it would be a nickel, and a man would be at the back and you would put your money in the slot. And then, you would get off when you would get a transfer downtown to catch the bus or the street car. I don't think we had busses. A street car, that would go to the 4th Ward to the church where we went to on Sunday morning. That was the Antioch Baptist Church. I can remember that church because, at that time, it was supposed to be on 339 Robin Street. The streets did not change but the names of the streets changed, and the street changed from Robin to Clay. Now it is Clay. 300 Clay. But at that time, it was Robin. ________ but the city has changed around it. Houston has been a very progressive city and I think because of the fact that we have had a black mayor and we had councilmen and we have had, I think, better relations in most cities in Texas.
EB: We did very well. Tell us about your elementary school and your junior high school, your high school. Do you remember those days and life back then?
HHY: The superintendent was Mr. P.W. Horn. That is when I started school. Later, we had Dr. E. ______ who came as the superintendent of schools. And then, we had . . . I don't know all the new ones now but I can remember when I finished college, I went to apply for a job and I went down to talk to Dr. E.E. _________ and he was very nice. I felt that the blacks were harder on each other than the whites were.
EB: Really? And, of course, the high school that you went to is now what we know as Jack Yates High School.
HHY: No, indeed. I went to old Colored High. That is what they called it. They did not dignify it with a name. But that has become Booker Washington High. Yates was not even in existence until I got out of college and came back home to teach, and they offered me a scholarship to go to Cincinnati on what was called a move to integrate or bring these students who were finishing Howard where I went to school, to give them a chance to teach and know other systems. So, I wanted . . . I should have stayed in Cincinnati but I came back home to Houston. I was on the first faculty of Jack Yates High School and I taught there until I guess I went on to become a dean. They say if you can't teach, they make you a dean! I became the Dean of Girls at Yates. And then, they had this turnover when Yates . . . Wheatley and Yates had a rivalry and Mrs. Dial (sp?) who was on the school board, said she would die before she let _____ go to the new school. There was just that animosity. Hattie May White was on the school board and she was very vocal and talked up for the black children getting equal schooling as best as they could. And they said she fought hard and all the black children were supposed to revere Ms. Hattie May White because she fought for them and they could not fight for themselves.
EB: That is good. Now, after high school, can you just tell me . . . I know that you went to Howard. What was college life like for you and your colleagues at that time?
HHY: Well, going to Howard was an experience. There was another girl who was in my class and her father and mother saw to it that we got to college. Mr. Brown sent his wife to take me and Lucia. In those days, it was kind of hard. They did not let girls go off by themselves. So, Mr. Brown sent ________ to take us to Howard. And I guess we wanted to go to Howard because it was a prestigious school and graduates from Howard are very well thought of. So, my father and mother sacrificed and it was a sacrifice, for me to go to a school in Washington, D.C., along with Lucille and we . . . Kelly Miller was one of the teachers at Howard at that time. Maybe you have heard of Kelly Miller. He was, I guess you would call his story and all, sociology. And he used to say, when you kept on asking the students in his class, where you were from. And I said, "I was from Houston, Texas." He said, "That is where the fear of the white man is the beginning of wisdom." I will never forget that. That was so harsh to say to a freshman who is looking for kind of a consolation for being at Howard. But all in all, Howard was a wonderful experience for me.
EB: Tell me how old you were when you went to Howard?
HHY: I was 16 and in those days, the valedictorian of the class was the smartest and that was Jenna Hay (sp?). She could repeat all those logirhythms and geometry. I barely got out of plain geometry and algebra. I was not that bright. But I was much brighter than a lot of them.
EB: That is good. Now, I do have just a few specific questions. In 1912, when you were 7 years old, there was this huge fire that destroyed 40 blocks of the 5th Ward. Do you, by chance, remember that? Were you near there?
HHY: I remember the race riot. It seems that they sent soldiers . . . I was 12 years old . . . some of those soldiers came to our church with the shiny boots and everything ________ the young ladies of the church. I was 12. I was not in that. But the young ladies in our church were all trying to meet and get, I guess, a husband out of that group. But I do not see why they would send soldiers from a different environment altogether to Houston where they were accepted by the blacks but the whites hated them because they, I guess, felt that they were their superiors. So, that is how the race riots started. They say that the soldiers had said something, or an officer had said something to a black woman. The soldiers resented what they were saying to the black woman. And that is how they say the riots started. And a lot of people, they said, hid, were so afraid for their lives. They were trying to escape from the rising up, the shooting and all.
EB: But you and your family, were you involved at all or did you get any part of that at all or you just heard about that?
HHY: No, we were scared to death. We were at home and tried to be as inconspicuous as possible. And they did not come to the north side where _______ lived but everybody was trying to be afraid or hiding from those riots, and I do not see why they would have sent soldiers down here in the environment that they knew was in the South, where they were not accepted at all because of the fact that they looked better and had better, I guess, accoutrements than the whites, and that is how those race riots started. I never will forget it and I just feel sorry for those soldiers who were court marshaled who had not done anything but they had all of them shot, which was such a terrible thing I felt as a child.
EB: Yes, of course. If you remember that, then you must remember one year before you graduated from high school, in 1920 or so, there was a local Houston chapter of the Ku Klux Klan that was formed at that time. And the next year, you may or may not remember or even knew about it at the time - there was this huge KKK march. Were you aware of that or did that make the headlines at the time?
HHY: It may have made headlines but I do not recall. Maybe my mind is just shot.
EB: No, your mind is fine. You were only 15 at the time and, you know, at 15, you do not go around reading headlines very often. But I just wondered about that.
HHY: I can remember we always took a newspaper - we used to take the Houston Post and Miss Oveta Culp Hobby, I think, was the manager or the owner of the Houston Post. And it, I think, later became the Houston Chronicle. But the Post had a big building on the intersection down almost going from town through to another section of Houston. Houston has grown so it is hard to keep up with it.
EB: The growth of Houston went very, very fast. I want to take you back to when radio got started and it came into your homes. Did that change your life at all?
HHY: I am sorry I do not recall much about radio.
EB: So, you did not have a radio in the house?
HHY: I cannot remember.
EB: For a while?
HHY: I cannot remember. I know my sister played the piano and we took music lessons from Madam Roshaw (sp?) who lived on Dowling across from where the Covington home was. Jessie Covington's parents lived on Dowling and across from her was Madam Roshaw's music class, and that is where Jessie got started. She became a famous pianist, Jessie did. Her husband was Albert, president of _______ College in Louisiana. And Jessie was one year ahead of me in high school. But her parents sent her to Oberlin College which was kind of expensive. My father sent us to Howard but Howard was not nearly as prestigious as Oberlin.
EB: As an educator, you are aware, I am sure, of all of the things that were happening. In Houston in 1927, for instance, the Houston Junior College was established along with the Houston Colored Junior College and the Houston Junior College became University of Houston and the Houston Colored Junior College became TSU later on.
HHY: I can remember Houston's, Mr. Fox . . . do you have a record of Mr. Fox? He was the principal of the Houston College for Negroes, I think is what they called it. He and R. O'Hara _________ was, I guess, the highest educator, or most well thought of Negro at that time. And, of course, he had his enemies, too, because a lot of people thought that he was usurping ______ that the University of Houston had. We had some negroes who were fighting Mr. ______ many white people did. I think we have always had negroes in positions where they misused it. I hate to say it but sometimes we have been bigger enemies to ourselves than the white people.
EB: That does happen sometimes, with Hispanics, with African Americans, with whites. It happens, I think, all over. What are your best memories of when you came back from Howard and started teaching?
HHY: Well, when I came back to Houston, I went to Dr. _______ for an interview and he was very quiet and did not say much but I got a job on as a supernumerary. That is what they called them. That was the place in the school that they did not have to send off for substitutes. They took the supernumerary and the supernumerary taught everything from laundry to Latin; in other words, they were there to substitute for those teachers who were out sick or something happened. But the supernumerary was to know everything about everything.
EB: Those were the good old days.
HHY: The good old days.
EB: That is good that you have such good memories, and as time went on, you continued to teach at Yates High School?
HHY: I am trying to think how Yates started. When I went down to Dr. ______'s office, they made me supernumerary ________. I do not know how.
EB: Were you in the classroom at Yates with the students?
EB: Tell me about the students at that time. Were they what you and I would consider just normal, you know, going to class every day and doing the things that students that age in high school or elementary, whatever, do; what they do today, they did back then?
HHY: My sister and I were laughing the other day about Raymond Johnson. Wheatley was in existence then, _________ Wheatley, added to the black schools but at Wheatley. This E.O. Smith was the principal and he was of the old school. He had finished at 5th. And he had a son, Arlington Smith, who taught drama at ______ I guess you would call it a college for negroes. E.O. Smith has a school named for him but he was a fine person. That is where my sister went to school at, at Wheatley, under Mr. E.O. Smith's principalship, and they had a saying . . . Mr. Johnson . . . they had a play. At the end of every school year, you would have a school play. Bessie Johnson was the head of the English department at Wheatley, and some of the boys decided they did not like that play and they would not be in it. So, we were laughing the other day. My sister said, the principal E.O. Smith called Ms. Johnson and said he heard from Ruth Mitchell who was one of the ______, Ruth Mitchell had said, "Mr. Smith, do you know that Johnson, Raymond and them said they are not going to be in that play? They said they did not like it and she was not going to force them." So, all Mr. Smith had to do was get on the phone and call Mr. Raymond Johnson's mother and report that they were not going to take part in the play. She said, "Fear not, Mr. Smith, they will be there and they will take part in the play."
EB: And they did?
HHY: And they did. Parents had a lot of clout in those days. They had the clout that the children have now.
EB: Yes, that is true. Do you, by chance, remember the Great Depression, around 1929, 1930? Do you remember that, and how that affected you?
HHY: It looked liked it had to fool with rations of some sort. I cannot remember too well but I know they had food stamps. Some people misused food stamps. They would take them and use them. They said they would get food stamps at the store and then buy other things with the food stamps in collusion with the store owners; that the food stamp program I do not believe was such a great success it may have been because we never did have any. My father was a mail carrier and my mother had ________ and the cow in the back. And that is why I think I am as healthy as I am because my father and mother sacrificed and did the things that were conducive to health for their children. And they had 3. I was the first one, then my brother and then my sister, each 4 years apart. And my brother became a _______ in the Air Force. He was with that fellow from Missouri - I forget his name - he got to be a famous . . . went over to Italy. I cannot remember just the things I want to remember. But my brother was such a fine person. Everybody loved him. My brother was so good to us.
EB: And your sister. So, during the Depression then, it sounds like your family did not really have to worry a whole lot about going to the store and buying food since you had the milk, you probably had some vegetables, you probably did your own food at home the way a lot of people did.
HHY: We did not ever have any food stamps. Had to go to Hinkey and ______ and that is where my father bought groceries. Then, there was a black grocery who had a grocery store down on Milam where the Lincoln Theater was, O.P. DeWalt (sp?) and I heard about Mr. Dewalt being killed because he brought Halleluiah here - that was a black play - and he brought it in defiance of the white people who were supposed to see pictures first. And they had somebody kill Mr. O.P. DeWalt.
EB: Oh, dear. You remember that?
HHY: Yes. That was such a bad hurt. He would go to the Lincoln Theater and that is where he would naturally sit, in the back of the Lincoln Theater. He was doing all right until they brought a picture here of . . . I forget the name of the picture. I know it well . . . and showed his first . . . they hired a man who worked for him to kill him.
EB: Did that affect the community in a terrible way? I am sure it did. Did that affect your community at the time when that man was killed?
HHY: Yes, everybody hated that. Everybody knew what was going on. To kill O.P., they were all _______ like coming and shooting down somebody in your family. And everybody admired Mr. DeWalt because he had a theater that was nice you could go in and sometimes after hours, you could have a party, invite your friends and everybody would come to see that person with you. And you would be dressed all up in your evening clothes and go in and see a picture that only your guests would be invited to. That was supposed to be a socialite affair. Mr. DeWalt was a nice person. I can remember him and his wife, and their home was such a nice home. We had our own social life as black people and I do not think we ever would have had that race riot.
EB: Sometimes these things are necessary and sometimes they are not. I am going to take you to 1930 where Harris County is now the most populus county in Texas and it has got 292,000 people. Lyndon Johnson is teaching somewhere in Houston. And you are still teaching at Yates High School. You are 25. When you were teaching at Yates, how did you get to school? Did you take the bus? Did you walk?
HHY: That was another mistake I made. I bought a car and transported my friend, Ms. Ethel Ellison who became a dean, and Eula Cotton (sp?) and somebody else. Oh yes, a fellow named . . . I cannot think of his name now. But he would ride with me in the car and they would pay me to take them to school and back. I would use that to buy the gas. It was a nice thing but I had to go by and pick up everybody, pick up Eula Cotton on Stevens behind me. Now the man, I forget his name, but he would run up from where he lived and get in. We would not have to wait for him. And then, there was Ms. Ellison, Ethel Ellison. They came to Houston from I think it was somewhere in Oklahoma. Anyway, Ms. Ellison was such a wonderful person. She taught at Yates. And Mr. Ellison taught math at Booker T. Washington which was in the 4th Ward. We were in the 3rd Ward. In other words, wards meant a lot to you. 5th Ward was supposed to be the bloody 5th. 4th Ward was where Antioch Church was and where Booker Washington was. And the 3rd Ward was where Yates was. And they thought they were better than anybody else, the 3rd Ward. And the 2nd Ward . . . I was telling my sister, "We are going to write a book on the wards!" The 2nd Ward was, I guess you would call it where Mexicans lived. Navigation. And that church there. We called it Navigation. What is it? The Catholic Church?
EB: Guadalupe Church?
HHY: St. Anne's or something.
EB: Well, it might have been that at the time but now, that church is called Guadalupe.
HHY: I see. At that time, it was called St. Anne's, I think. I am not too sure. But that was on the corner of Navigation and that street across from that.
EB: I know what you are talking about. That is not the church I go to but yes, it is right at Navigation. Do you know that corner, David, by chance? Do you know the corner? Now, in 1935, see if this like so disastrous . . . in 1935, another huge flood. This is the worst in the city where it inundated the downtown area. In about 1935.
HHY: I was 30. I was out when they had a flood.
EB: You were here.
HHY: I cannot remember the flood too well.
EB: All right, so that means that it did not affect you, it did not reach your neighborhood, but that is when they decided to establish the county flood control program in Harris County in Houston. 1940, all the cars went out and they had an all bus transit system after 60 years of street cars.
HHY: This happened in 1940?
EB: In 1940. That is when they switched to an all bus transit system. Of course, you had your own car so you probably were not even aware of the transit system very much because you did not need it. So, you had your own car.
HHY: That is the reason a lot of times people got cars - to avoid segregation and having to go to the back of the bus and all that. On the north side, we would get on a street car on the corner of . . . is that Steven? But anyway, we would drop a nickel in. You could ride for a nickel. And if you got a transfer to another ward or another section, the street car man was in the back of the street car, he would give you a transfer with that nickel to get on another street car. So, riding was not too much of a problem because even if you did not have a car, you would have the means to ride around and get a transfer to another section.
EB: Right. Well, you took care of that problem by just getting your own car and taking your friends to school.
HHY: That is right. And let them pay part of the gas bill.
EB: But you said it was a big mistake but really, it does not sound like a mistake. It was probably hard work picking everyone up but still . . .
HHY: Some would be late. But usually, I had a nice group. Ms. Ellison and Eula Cotton, that is 3, and this fellow would run up from . . . he would be late every morning. I forget his name but he married a girl from . . . what was that child's name? I do not remember. But we had a nice relationship. Parents and teachers were very cooperative. You did not have many bad children like they have nowadays. They never would have kept going like we were on _______ had the parents not been wonderful parents. Parents really supported teachers then.
EB: You have got to have a secret for being 102 and having the memory and being in good health, and I think that you were right when you said, "I drank a lot of milk" when you were young.
HHY: That is right, you know, the cow in the backyard.
EB: Yes. Vegetables. No chemicals. No cans. That is wonderful. I was raised like that, too.
HHY: But we had the real stuff, the real McCoy.
EB: Yes, now all these children that are so sick all the time with allergies and all of that.
HHY: Yes, I guess in the early days, they did not have so much traffic.
EB: You were telling me about when you walked to school, you passed a white school to go to the black school down the road.
HHY: Yes, I passed -- I do not know what the school's name was on the corner of Lorraine and that street back there in the back, I don't know _______ -- I would not say pass because I was living on the corner of Dowling Street on Quitman and Davis and 2 or 3 blocks down was the, I guess you would call a school. I do not know what the name of it was but I know it was on the corner. And I passed that school which was 1 block from me and walked all the way down to, we called it the old, some kind of barn - I forget now.
??: The old blue barn?
HHY: Old blue barn. That is right. And there were teachers like Ms. Cora Conway. That was my favorite teacher. I walked all the way down there. And on Mondays, my mother would let me take a little cup of what the dessert was. I loved Ms. Conway. I wanted to take her something every Monday morning from the best that the Hainesworths had which wasn't much but I wanted to share it with her. But I know that we walked across the tracks all the way down past Crawford, past Mount Vernon Church, past Oden, across Oden and go down to the blue barn. I imagine it was at least 12 blocks, maybe longer.
EB: And at the time that you were passing that white school and you had to go to the black school, was there any anger or resentment at the time or did you just accept . . .
HHY: We just accepted it. The school was here and we lived here. Then, we would go all the way down when we could go back to this school, this white school. But it never occurred to us, I guess, that we could go to a white school.
EB: Well, it wasn't until 1956 -- you were 51 years old -- that the NAACP here in Houston, Dolores Ross and Beniva Williams, filed a lawsuit against the school system so that they would allow black children to go to the white schools. Now, of course, at 51, I am sure that you were very aware of all the happenings, all the political happenings in the city, correct?
HHY: Yes, that is true. I knew everything that was going on. As I can recall most of it now . . . that girl, Benita Williams, lived down off of Lorraine, and I don't know why or how her parents were able to file that suit. I am sure it was through the NAACP.
EB: It was.
HHY: And the NAACP, I think most black people tried to join. I bought a life membership myself. But anyway, the NAACP has been a beacon light for blacks. It has been a very real and very hard-working organization. Now, the Urban League, it has done a lot, too, for blacks. But the NAACP has been there through thick and thin.
EB: And so, that was in 1956, and it wasn't until 1958 really, right after the lawsuit was filed, that the first black person, Mrs. White, C.E. White . . .
HHY: Hattie May White.
EB: Yes, she was elected to the school . . .
HHY: Yes, she was a friend of ours and her family was a nice family. ________.
??: Charlotte. Richard.
HHY: ____________ because her husband was an eye doctor. In other words, she did not have to fare any repercussions on her husband's job because he had a good job and a successful job. So, Hattie May was very vocal and we looked to her as one of the people who did the most to sit up for that school board which was a tough job. I remember the school board members . . . what was the man's name who was the president of the school . . . I cannot think of him. Well anyway, Hattie May did not bite her tongue. She spoke up.
EB: Well, it paid off. It worked.
HHY: It certainly did.
EB: It worked. Now, right after that, 1960, some black students from TSU protested. They had the first sit-in, in Texas. They demanded equal lunch counter service. Was that big news at the time or not?
HHY: That was big news at Woolworth. They would go in there and sit at the counter at Woolworth and wait to be waited on. And they would not wait on them. So, that was one of the, I guess you would call the centerpieces of the fight. Black students at Texas Southern. I guess they were from Texas Southern. I cannot remember.
EB: They were from TSU. But that was the first sit-in, in Texas, the first protest in Texas. It happened right here in Houston.
HHY: And they would throw things at them and all that, at the students who were sitting at the table, the waitresses, to get them to get up. But they still stood their ground. I think they were people who ought to be recognized as leaders in the Civil Rights fight.
EB: That is true. You said a while back that you had accepted at that time, that you just went on to the black school, passing the white school, but 1960, bringing you up to 1960, it was no longer acceptable and you just did what had to be done.
HHY: Yes, that is true. That was when Benita and those people that lived on down North Main that were coming in to town - I don't know, her parents, whatever, that were people who lived in that neighborhood. Benita Williams, I can remember her. I am kind of hazy.
EB: Do you remember retiring?
HHY: Yes. I want to tell you about my brother first. They had a table in the library here for blacks, black people who were reading, and my brother had them take it down and they did because they knew it was illegal to put up a sign "for black readers" in a public library. So, my brother, he was very quiet but he was very, I guess you would call it very sincere and did not mind working to _______ that picture back up. __________ used to be such a fighter for blacks ________ [end of side 1]
. . . that was my brother and he was so quiet, but he went to Howard, too. And he, I guess you would call it, was one of the quiet leaders in a situation, tried to bring about change.
EB: It sounds like, looks like, the dates indicate that Houston was, as you said at the beginning . . . a lot of things were happening in Houston and you and your family, you and your brother, your sister, were right in the middle of them.
HHY: Yes. My brother took a very vocal stand and, as I said, he went to Howard and was with this fellow who . . .
??: _______ Brook, the senator from Massachusetts. They were roommates at Howard.
HHY: Yes, and my brother was quiet. He tried to get cooperatives, you know, like people put in their money together and buy food. He was just ahead of his time. He had to fight hard to even get his own raise or whatever things that they could do for themselves. He got a little grocery store and put it out next to our house on Quitman and he had hired a little boy to deliver groceries for him. And he tried his best to let as little as he had financially, just to let people get a chance to improve themselves and their condition in life.
EB: Well, these are wonderful memories of your brother and your childhood. Do you think about these days, Ms. Hazel? Do you think back about that time?
HHY: Yes, I think about it and I am blessed to have such pleasant memories. So many memories of change that was going on. We did not realize that we ________. I am kind of a coward. I did not do like my brother - take a stand and regardless of what happened, just do without. He put himself back and I did not do it. I was on that first ________ and Mr. Ryan (sp?) was a hard task master. He said he made more . . . some expression . . . he had a faculty meeting morning and evening. Now, teachers don't want to meet once a month. He had 2 a day. And he was such as, I guess you would call . . .
??: A dictator.
HHY: A dictator. He taught with Mr. Ryan. You had to almost go to the _______.
EB: I think dictators are born in the schools. That is where dictators come from. Well, these are wonderful memories. Is there anything that I have not asked you, Ms. Hazel, that you want to talk about?
HHY: I am trying to think.
EB: Is there anything that I have left out?
HHY: About Houston . . . I think we had the first black mayor in Houston.
EB: Oh, really?
HHY: What was Mr. Brown?
??: He was Houston's first black mayor, he was not the first black mayor. She is saying that is one of the big changes that she has seen in her lifetime that instilled more pride I think, being a Houstonian, to her.
EB: So, one of the last things that brings you a lot of pride here in Houston is having Houston's first black mayor?
HHY: Yes, that is wonderful. I think Houston has been more liberal than most southern cities. Houston has set the example for liberalism and embracing of black people into the society. Now, Oscar Holcombe was the mayor for many years. I think he had 5 or 6 terms.
EB: He had a lot of terms. Yes, he was here for a long time.
HHY: And his daughter was a debutant or something. They really ran Houston for many years. I can remember the Standlers (sp?) - Ms. Mattie and Ms. Hattie, those two twins that I was telling you about. Ms. Mattie worked for people like the Holcombs. She worked for somebody named Stanley. I remember _______ she took me out to see the house. It had - I had never seen a standing clock. I do not know which kind of a family they came from but she had a daughter, Bertha Parker, and her father was white. And Mr. Parker came . . . I remember when she had her first career . . . you did everything you could for her and her mother. She would take me to music. We would sit on the street car. She looked like white and I was black. We would sit on the back seat. They could not understand why that white girl was sitting with that little black girl.
EB: Something that didn't happen very often. Well, Ms. Hazel, I want to thank you for your time and your beautiful memories that you have. Thank you so much.
HHY: I want to thank you for being able and proud to come out to a little black girl's house and record some of the things that happened. I want to show you how much I appreciate it and tell you how much I appreciate it.
EB: Well, it was my pleasure and it was my honor. Mexican girl meets black girl.
HHY: That's right.
EB: All right.