Joseph Carper

Duration: 2hours
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Interview with: Joseph Carper
Interviewed by: Veronica Perry/John Mauer
Date: May 29, 1975
Archive Number: OH 019

VP: 00:05 We’re beginning an oral history interview for Houston Metropolitan Archives with Mr. Joseph Carper. First of all, would you tell us a little of your background, such as where you were born, your educational background, and how you got to Houston.

JC: Well, I’m a native of Gonzales, Texas. Of course if you know anything about Gonzales, you know that that is a historical place in Texas too. My father was a Methodist minister, and he pastored in Gonzales and Seguin, Texas. As Methodist ministers do, they have an itinerary; they go around many places. I happened to be the firstborn child of three. As we lived in Gonzales, I think I left there in the ministry about at the age of four. We went to Seguin, Texas, and my mother was a native of Gonzales also. She came from the Smith family, Wes Smith family, at Gonzales. And of course my grandmother and all were there, so we never lost touch with Gonzales. Seguin is just about 32 miles from there, and so we were always back down there in the summer with my grandmother and had a very happy country life.

I started school in Seguin, Texas, and after reaching the 11th grade there, my father was moved to Edna, Texas, and while in Edna, I finished high school there. A couple of years after I finished in Edna, which was at that time a third rate high school—they only went through the 11th grade—I went to Los Angeles, California, and I entered school there. I stayed there for a year, and after that my mother passed, so I came back from California, from Los Angeles. After the funeral, I worked around little odd jobs in hotels there in Edna and finally saved up enough money to enter college at Austin, Samuel Huston, as they called it. We call it Sam Huston College, which is now Huston-Tillotson after the merger. But this was in the year of about 1926 that I entered Samuel Huston. I commuted then— Well, I’ll tell you this: After having worked in the hotel in Edna, I established a relationship there with the manager of the hotel there, and later years while I was in school, she came to Houston, and she took up the management of the WA Lee Hotels. Albert Lee was at that time a pretty wealthy man, and he owned a group of small hotels, somewhere in the neighborhood of 25-room or 50-room hotels. And so she became the manager of one of those. She was afraid to trust the night boarders here. This was a bachelor hotel that she was managing. So the only person that she knew that she could put complete trust in was me, who had worked for her in the hotels in Edna as a waiter. So she got in touch with me along about the time school was closing, and she asked me to come to Houston to work for her. So I came to Houston to work as night clerk in the Walee Hotel, and I worked there for about seven years.

05:23 During that time, why, the hotel changed managerships, and in 1935, I decided that I wanted to do something else other than hoteling, so I went to the Informer, which was a black newspaper published by Carter Wesley and John Atkins. I went there as a typist. I had taken up what we called at that time a business course which included typing at Samuel Huston, so I went there to apply for a typist. So he says, “Well, young man, we have all the typists we need. What I need now is a man who can take over a million dollar job.” (laughing) He says, “I’ve got a job that you can make a million out of. All you have to do is go out there and get it.” And that was advertising sales. (all laughing) I took him up on the idea of making a million dollars, and I’m still trying to make that first million. (all laughing) So that’s how I got started in selling advertising for the Informer. I stayed there for 21 years, and I did sell quite a few accounts during that time. I imagine it was a million dollars worth of work that was put into it.

But after 21 years, I felt that I had quite a bit of experience in advertising, and so I went into advertising and public relation on my own. And so I’ve been there ever since. This took me into every facet of life in Houston. You can well imagine having to get around to businesses and to organizations of every kind to try to get yourself established and at the same time make a living too. Why, you go all over Houston. Of course at that time Houston was not nearly as large as it is now, so to some extent, as I look back now, I think that I could have covered Houston much faster than I did. But then our transportation system wasn’t like it is now either. So you had your handicaps, you had your handicapping to do.

Now I think as I look back at this particular stage, I feel that certainly I’ve seen Houston grow from the times— When I came here, they had policemen on horses. That was the mode of police work that they did at that time. That was somewhere around in ’28 or the ‘30s—around in there.

VP: Okay. Would you tell us a little bit about the initial businesses that you did your advertising with. Who advertised in the Houston Informer in the 1930s?

JC: At the beginning it was very few. I can recall when I went on my first initial try to sell advertising, I went up and down Dowling Street, more or less to the black businesses, which were small. The idea that I had when I started out was just that I would go down here to this business and ask him for an ad or talk to him about an ad, and he would possibly willingly run an ad in the Informer. But it was quite a dismay. (all chuckling) I found that there were those who were in business that said, “I’ve never advertised and I don’t believe now there’s any need to advertise.” So I figured then, I said, “Well, I’d better get downtown or someplace where the fish are biting.” If you want to put it in this way of thinking, when you go fishing, you always try to find a place where fish are biting. So I started downtown, and at that time, I sold the merchant on the idea that for him to get the attention of the Negro buyer, that certainly it would be a good idea for him to use the black newspaper because this was a paper that was made up about them and for them. And of course at that time only the tragic news about blacks got into the dailies. You didn’t have the general policy now that we have. So consequently, the only way that he could get his buying news before the reading public of the black was through the black paper, and this was the thing that I sold him on. And of course, I began to get quite a few accounts who were interested in the black market.

12:34 Now, along about this time, you’ll understand that the employment status was still pretty low as far as blacks were concerned. But you did begin to get into industry, and the employment status began to rise, and the wage rate began to rise as far as blacks were concerned. And of course this too provided extra selling— I used this in my selling into the black paper because at that time, as we began to climb in the status from the standpoint of our employment, our salaries also began to rise, much to the delight of the advertiser. And certainly I was happy to tell him that. (all laughing)

JM: You indicate that you had trouble in the beginning getting black businessmen to advertise, and it was in the white business community that you had your greatest success.

JC: Right.

JM: How did this change over the 21 years that you were selling advertising for the Informer?

JC: Like everything else, as your employment status rose and the level of your salary rose, the black businessman began to note this also. And so having gained a bit of experience on selling this to the advertiser, I began to work back into the black community again, and they began to see it or they began to believe it more and more as their enterprise began to rise and they began to see the need for advertising or getting it into the minds and into the black audience or the black newspaper reader.

JM: In comparison to 1935 or 1936 to 1955 or 1956, what would you say the difference in the mixture of black and white advertisers in the Informer was?

JC: 15:49 Well, I’ll give you this little story: You know when you go in to sell anyone, you always want to get their attention. In 1935 when I walked into a white establishment, I got all the attention (all laughing) to the point that the receptionist, regardless of what she was doing, she stopped it. And after she found out what I wanted, that I wanted to see the manager, regardless of what he was doing, she buzzed him. (all laughing) And of course I suppose she told him that there’s a black fellow out here to see him. And this was unusual with him, and whatever he was doing he stopped and came to the door and wanted to know what I wanted. And of course I had to tell my story under those conditions—everybody excited—and if I did get the attention, it was pretty hard sometimes for me to get my story over in the manner in which I thought it was conducive to selling.

JM: In the atmosphere of that time, what sort of responses did you get from the white businessmen that you approached for advertisement? Did you get people who were just outright hostile? Were there people who were sympathetic to your approach?

JC: There were. There were, I would say, many who were certainly sympathetic to my approach if I could ever get them to settle down.

JM: (laughing) Get them past the shock, huh?

JC: That’s right (chuckling), past that particular point. Then I certainly found that they were sympathetic to it, and many of them did not know of any such thing, or this type thing had not crossed their minds. By that time, I had to give them a pretty good picture of how many people read the paper, and also I had to give them a pretty good rundown on their employment and the salary scale. And of course to a man who knew about his merchandise and how he wanted to move it, this then proved to be a pretty good proposition for him, and consequently, they began to come in to the black paper. And the response that they got from the black paper was very good.

VP: What kinds of businesses advertised? Were they clothing stores or lumber companies? What kinds did you usually get?

JC: In this type of work, you have to learn that you don’t pass up anybody. So there were people who were clothing stores and certainly after you had looked at the market and studied it, certainly grocery stores were the big advertisers. In fact, Weingarten’s was one of my biggest contracts that I sold for the Informer, along with Henke & Pilot at that time, which is now Kroger stores. But they were certainly stores that were catering to the black market also, and to them this was a godsend. And I was happy at that time to have sold Weingarten’s especially into the paper. One of my first larger accounts was Hudson Furniture Company. I’ll never forget them because that was during about the time that I contacted them that I was thinking about getting married. I ran across Hudson Furniture Company, and I went in and sold them a contract, a pretty good, sizeable yearly contract. And because of that, what he was advertising just seemed to fit right into me. He was advertising five rooms of furniture for, I think at that time, around $500. I was getting married, and I just loaded up (all laughing) on that offer. That’s how my wife and I got started. And incidentally, there’s one of the chairs. That’s around 1938. That’s one of the chairs that we got out of that deal.

JM: 22:21 Did you notice any pattern in people who refused you? Were there certain types of businesses that just would not advertise with you?

JC: In later years, as you get to know about the thing, you find usually—now, remember this, that along about this time, Houston began to become what we call a branch city; in other words, branches that had come out of New York to Dallas and branched from Dallas into Houston. We began to get stores like that, like Wards and—

JM: Sears.

JC: —Sears and Penneys and stores like that. I did note this difference: As we go along, certainly you go in, and I learned then that in order to get acquainted, you possibly would have to—you get into conversation other than advertising. They’d want to know where I was from and about the paper, and they’d want to know if I knew certain friends that they knew in the black community. And of course this is how a conversation would run many times. I found that those who had been here or those managers who were from the southern area or from Houston, they would talk freely along this line. Those who had come in with the branch companies were a little reticent to get into this type conversation, and consequently, this is some of the difference I noted. I’d go into stores where these managers—just to make the distinction, the southern managers—were, and they received me and they would like to talk about many things, so we got along very well. If he had a special particular thing he wanted to go in to the black community, he did so. If he had nothing particularly special he thought that they couldn’t handle, he didn’t go in, so it was this type thing. Now, I thought I experienced this also at that time, those who were in the branch stores who possibly didn’t have full control. They had to write back to the home office and possibly get permission in that manner, where the man who was here and sold, whose store had been established here a long time, he readily made his decision like that. These were some of the differences that I noted. I also noted here that there were those from the branch stores who were managing the branch stores who happened to come in to the South, they would talk well, but they wouldn’t ever buy so quickly. They’d keep putting me off until actually, I had to get a lot more information to them than was required by the person who was here.

JM: 26:52 Why do you think that is?

JC: I certainly thought it was because they were not familiar with the market. Remember this, that none of them made a complete study of the market at that time. One of the differences is now that the market has developed now to any minority group or any segment of the community that is well-employed or gainfully employed, why, they’re on it just like that. At that particular time, that wasn’t the case.

VP: What kind of competition did you have? Was the Informer the only black newspaper at that point, or did you get competition from other places as far as getting your ads?

JC: There were several other black newspapers, but at that particular time they didn’t represent any competition because once a merchant was sold on the black market, he’d come pretty near using all of them. We were the leaders, of course. The only thing that I would have to work with was the idea that— When they bring up the idea of budgets, there’s just so much that they go into. They considered any minority paper a class media. This was the way the advertisers classified the Informer or any other weekly newspaper, as class media. And consequently, they felt that the same people— You remember we had three papers at that time. We had the Press, the Chronicle, and the Post. Those were three. Scripps Howard made the Press and the Post and the Chronicle. So the trouble—well, I wouldn’t say trouble—the inference that I got most of the time was that the same people who read the weekly paper also read the daily paper. The Press was more or less the down-to-earth paper, sensationalized (interviewers laughing), and things of this kind, and this is what they would refer to many times. I reached people through the Press or the Chronicle. My only reminder then was certainly they read the Press and Chronicle or Post, but they don’t read it near with the intent that they read the Informer because if their daughter gets married or they’re getting graduated or something like that, there are pictures and everything in the paper.

JM: On the other side of that, is the willingness of the reading public to respond to the advertising? Because that’s what really sells your ads. Somebody might buy an ad, but if that person doesn’t believe your ad is doing him any good, he’s not going to buy any more of them. To what degree do you think the black population in Houston responded specifically to an ad in the Informer, let’s say with Weingarten’s? That same ad would be in the dailies as well. To what degree do you think that your ad stimulated black people to go and buy from these companies that were advertising in all the media?

JC: 31:16 That is a very good question, and I’ve had to deal with that in many ways. (all laughing)

JM: I’m sure you have.

JC: Many tested it by putting in coupons or bargain offers of this kind, and true enough, the response was always— You’d have to look at it, you’d have to study it. You couldn’t just come right out and say, “Here it is because they brought in so many coupons from your paper.” And this is what I had to deal with a lot, where there were those who would not possibly bring in the coupon but because of the policy of inviting them in to the store through the black media, they would come in.

JM: Right.

JC: Now, of course you can imagine how I had to deal with this and how I would have to explain this particular reaction is because he had a coupon there and he possibly didn’t get but five or six coupons, where if he had the same coupon in the daily paper, it would just flow in. I don’t know how many came in from where, but it was pretty hard for him just to have it in for a black community.

JM: How did you explain that?

JC: The only thing I explained to them was certainly they didn’t bring in the coupon, but the fact that they were here and they came in and they shopped and to look over your store and you’ll see more blacks in than you’ve seen in prior years. And of course this was true, and this was because I would indicate or tell them, “This is because you invited them in. They might not have brought the coupon in, but they felt free to come in and shop, and your black clientele has grown. There’s no doubt about that.”

JM: To what extent did you have people in the black community mention to you their attitudes about Weingarten’s or Hudson Furniture or whichever business has advertised in the Informer, “I do feel freer to go into those stores because now I feel like they want me to come in”? To what extent did you hear people talk about this?

JC: 34:26 You only got this from persons that I knew or persons that would talk not to me but maybe to Mr. Wesley, the publisher. They would mention the fact that they saw that his advertising was increasing. And the quality of the advertisers that he was getting was mentioned. There were those who would personally compliment me that knew me and knew my type of work.

JM: But this was a thing that was happening in the black community.

JC: Right, in the black community.

VP: Does that pretty well cover your work with the Houston Informer before you went out on your own?

JC: That’s right. That pretty well covers it, 21 years of that. (all laughing)

VP: Okay. What did you do after you left the Houston Informer?

JC: After I left there, I went into the public relations and advertising. One of my first clients was a bakery company known as Schat’s Bakery. Here again, because of the acquaintance and because of the work that I’d done with them in the newspaper, they felt at that time that they needed a representative, a public relation person, for their business. I went into that, and then of course I had learned that there were other types of advertising that people wanted. The same people that bought newspaper advertising also bought pens, calendars, and specialty advertising—little items that carried their names and things on it. I learned that that was quite a lucrative deal, so I took on that also.

VP: Did you go into business for yourself in your own ad agency?

JC: Yes, that’s right.

VP: How did you do that initially? Did you get a loan from a bank? Or had you acquired enough to be able to do it on your own without any outside help?

JC: No. I needed money, but I wasn’t able to get it (chuckling), so I just had to continue on like I was doing. However, after 21 years you can imagine that you’ve got quite a clientele, and so I just worked with them, more or less, on a one-man agency deal, and this is how I was able to make it like that.

VP: Was an ad agency run by a black man during that period something unique at that particular time?

JC: 37:59 At that particular time it was very unique, and even now it’s unique. You have several headed in New York. I think now you have a group that’s taking advertising to go into all black papers all over the country. They kind of expanded in that way, but their operations are practically the same. They have accounts like Chevrolet and liquor accounts and things of that sort where they sell on a national basis, you see. At that particular time there were no black models. This is one of the particular things that we found out. We in the agency or in advertising found out that to appeal to anybody, you have to make them feel that this is them. You put them in the picture, you see. So this is how that came in. I think Vaseline was one of the first and several others came into being like that. One of the clients I had here—the firm is out of business now—Southern Select Beer that was out of Galveston, I believe used several black models. I had the pleasure of going around and taking the pictures. (all laughing) You had to use all types of things to get—

JM: When you’re a one-man ad agency, you have to do just about everything.

JC: Right. That’s right.

JM: Describe for us kind of the steps that you would go through from the point of selling an ad to working up the ad, where you sell the ad to. Just describe for us how you go through that.

JC: Certainly you would have to furnish all the initiative along that line. As you go in and talk with a person, certainly you have to be a good listener too. You couldn’t just be there and just doing all the talking; you’d have to do a little listening. I found out that merchants are very smart men or women. They have a good concept of what they would like to do or how they would like to approach it so that many of them think in terms of the market and what they use. For instance, around at that time—I think with a little updating—the amount of money that was spent for furniture, about 8% of the salaries that were made were spent for furniture. Well, what I’d have to do is I’d have to figure that according to the population that we had. We used the census tracts to find out how many persons to the family, and we tried to ascertain the number of people in the family who worked and the salaries that they made. This is how we would arrive at a basic figure of how much was spent for furniture. The same thing was done for groceries and everything else. I had to prepare this type thing. Every now and then you would get figures from, I believe it was market research. These things would drop in every now and then, and of course I’d have to be on the alert for that type thing and then I would take it and use it to this particular locale. This is how I was able to sell it but also to win the confidence of the advertiser because he figured that, “This guy is putting something into it,” and consequently, he began to— And I checked with the Chamber of Commerce and everything like that to see if they had figures. In many cases they had no figures, and so I would give them the data that I got, and they would incorporate it in theirs. Consequently, if there was any question as to the figures that I had given, they’d check with the Chamber and they’d say, “Yeah, this is how it is.” (all laughing)

JM: 44:09 It’s hard to be refuted on that basis.

JC: That’s right.

VP: You said you didn’t have much competition at that point. You went out and you dealt in the calendars and the pencils, etc. Did you ever put out a little pamphlet like the things they put out now with ads from different companies in them?

JC: No. I never got into that, I guess because I was too familiar with the printing business from the standpoint of the newspaper. That was a big job. That would certainly necessitate a lot more than a one-man deal, so that’s why I never put out advertising sheets. I guess that’s what you’re alluding to.

VP: Right. And you stayed in the ad business by yourself from the 1930s or so until present. Can you reflect on any general changes during that particular time? For instance, during the civil rights movement, were there any changes in the business climate?

JC: I think this: Certainly the stories that I told you before where I got all the attention, now they seldom know that I’m in. I come in and the receptionist handles it just as, “Well, he’s busy now. Would you wait? Will you have some coffee?”

JM: When do you think that that sort of change started coming about?

JC: You mean just about when it started?

JM: Yeah, when you stopped being such a big event and became just another person coming in.

JC: 46:05 I would say about 15 or 20 years ago. This would be about ’55 or something like that.

JM: About the time that you were making the changeover from the Informer.

JC: Right.

JM: What sort of impact did things like Brown v. Board of Education in 1954— For Houston, when was the integration case in Houston?

VP: The Delores Ross case was in ’57.

JC: Was that—

VP: The case of Delores Ross trying to get into school in Houston, the Independent School District, was about December of ’56 and January of ’57.

JM: How much did things like that—

JC: I can give you one a little better than that.

JM: Okay, fine.

JC: The case of Heman Sweatt trying to get in to the University of Texas.

JM: Right.

JC: Carter Wesley, who was a publisher, was also a lawyer, and so he and Jack Atkins worked on this Sweatt case. They didn’t come right out on that particular case as they did prior to that when politically you were trying to get into the Democratic Party. The question that you were asking about the change at that particular time, I think that because of the fact that— I think the Lonnie Smith case from the standpoint of the Democratic or political section was won in 1944. From then on, you can see that as this type news spread, everybody began then to feel that this should be done or it’s wrong to segregate. This was in the minds of people, and it began to bud out then. So consequently, with the case of Sweatt being won and that of Lonnie Smith politically back in ’44 and these incidents leading up to the case that you mentioned, you began to see that people, whatever ideas they had of tragedy and things that would happen, it didn’t happen when those persons began— At that time we had been voting then for about ten years, and consequently, things were opening up pretty well. The voting strength had a lot to do with it. The opportunities for voting had a lot to do with these things opening up.

JM: 49:30 Can you give any specific instances that you’re aware of?

JC: I’ll give you this: For instance, this community, Clinton Park, was developed in 1942. This was during the time I think of the Second World War when Dickson Gun Plant over here was a gun manufacturer, a subsidiary to Hughes Tool. They were manufacturing guns. And consequently, Sheffield and all the industry out this way was in the business of making implements. This too was during the time that blacks were gainfully employed, and so they needed places close to work. So consequently, a guy by the name of CE King and CT Grubbs were the developers of Clinton Park. The significant part about this thing was that this was the first time that blacks could get FHA loans. This was a pilot program, so to speak, no place in the United States except here where blacks could actually get FHA loans at 4½% interest. And consequently, there were 500 homes built out here, and they went like hotcakes. Shortly after that, the Lonnie Smith case of voting was won. When we first came out here in ’42, we had to go down to Galena Park to vote. After having established the homes here, it was right funny. People who were coming from rental areas, it was kind of new to them to become a homeowner. They still wanted developers to put in a windowpane if they knocked it out. They forgot this was their own responsibility. So we had a lot of that, and consequently, we developed a civic club here to kind of inform the people that, “You’re now homeowners.”

JM: What was the name of the civic club?

JC: The Clinton Park Civic Club. “You’re now homeowners, and these things you do.” And they were skeptical. There were a lot of rumors then that, “You would never pay for those homes out there. That is just a 99-year lease. The guy has just got a 99-year lease on this land out there.” But anyway, all this kind of rumor was going on, so the civic club would come in. I was on the committee to go down to FHA and to see how this thing worked. We were given amortization schedules—pay this and how much you’re paying on your interest—and we came back and disseminated that type of information to the homeowners. We got them pretty well orientated into it that this was no fly by night deal; it was actually kosher.

JM: What sort of services did the civic club provide the citizens of Clinton Park?

JC: 54:02 When we came here, we were out of the city limits, and consequently, no buses ran out this way. We had no lights, we had no city facilities. There was a company at that time, the Texas Water Company, who set up water in the communities such as this—well, this is about the first one. Their rates were high and exorbitant, so we decided to create a fresh water district. We began to find out a lot of things, and so we established a fresh water district which would provide water and any means for the use of water such as fire department. See, we had no water and we had no fire department because we had no fire plugs or nothing. We floated a bond of $345,000.

JM: Excuse me. Now, how did you go about it? A $345,000 bond is a lot of money.

JC: Right.

JM: Who took responsibility for floating this bond? How did you go about this?

JC: The civic club worked this thing out. We contacted a bondsman, a big bondsman in town—I forget the name right now. We had one of their men come out and outline to us what the advantages of this thing were and what we could do. There was a fresh water district, there was a water control and improvement district and different things. You’d hear them talking about these various little water districts coming up now seemed like a disadvantage, but at that time it was a pronounced advantage for us. So we took the initial step, which was a fresh water district. It was limited to only that of getting enough water supply to take care of putting out houses which our volunteer fire department put out. This was all worked through the civic club, and of course, after it was voted, the fresh water district then became its own entity.

JM: Did it tax the people here then to pay for the bond?

JC: Right. It had set up I believe a 30-year period. We had to pay I think it was around 7% interest on this thing. But before all of this thing got actually in operation, when we floated the bond—and this is the amazing part—here you are on the board with not a dime and then after election, here you’ve got $345,000. It’s just amazing how you can start writing checks. And the next morning, the railroad company’s got a little spare track running through here, calling and asking me how much taxes they’re going to pay, the light company, gas company calling, how much tax are they— And I knew nothing about it, so we had to get busy and set up what we called a tax equalization board to deal with this tax thing. (all laughing) It was so amazing.

JM: How did you determine these things? You set up your tax equalization board. That takes a lot of knowledge to figure out who pays what taxes and all of that.

JC: 58:38 All right. After you set up this type thing, then you look around for guides to go by. So then we look in at the city and the guidelines that they have, and you’ve always got somebody there that you can go to. In this case, I think one of the councilmen who later became mayor assisted us in shaping up our tax rate—and the county commissioners—shaping up our tax rate from the standpoint of the evaluation of the land or how we would go about doing it. And I think this is how we were able to determine from the guidelines—that they outlined for us how we would go about it.

JM: Were the members of the water district and the tax equalization board elected? How did they—

JC: Yeah. They were elected. We were elected from the civic club.

JM: Oh, so the civic club elected the members. It wasn’t the population of Clinton Park on the whole but it was the civic club.

JC: Right.

VP: You seemed to be spearheading a lot of these things during this particular time.

JC: At the time I was president of the civic club.

VP: Right. And the people on these boards were people from this very community.

JC: Yes, that’s right.

JM: What year did this begin to happen?

JC: This was in 1948 and ’50.

JM: This is still pretty early, and black people in positions of responsibility, particularly where lots of money is concerned and governmental sort of things, this isn’t a typical thing at this time period. What sort of response did you get, particularly since you had to go to the white bondsman, you had to deal with the white power structure in the city and in the county? What sort of response did you get out of these people that you had to deal with?

JC: 1:01:22 They were very liberal with their information once they understood what we were trying to do, certainly the bondsman, and I guess because of the fact that the bondsman was going to make something out of it. And certainly the contractors and other people who were familiar with this type thing stood to make a lot out of it. After we voted and when we’d get ready to build anything, we’d hold secret bids, and this was the amazing thing. We’d publish these things in the paper, and at the time, we held our meetings in the theater building that seats 500, and brother, that theater was full that night of those contractors coming in with their secret bids and so forth. It was quite an experience for all involved in this thing. This was the first time that they’d ever seen this type responsibility delegated to blacks and the first time blacks had had this type of responsibility, and consequently, we had to—

JM: There was a difference between being a renter and a property owner.

JC: That’s right.

JM: You could become a property owner, and it becomes a very different thing.

JC: Right.

VP: 1:02:58 While you were doing all this for Clinton Park, were you still working with your ad agency at the same time?

JC: Oh, yes.

VP: Pretty busy person. (all laughing)

JC: You find that those people who survive are those who are busy from one area to the other because you run into all kinds of people. And it takes all kinds of people so that those persons who are in need for advertising, I talked with them too about that. So as far as we finally got was we built a building for our water company and a community hall where the people who were members of this water company, which was everybody, could come and get information. We had places built for our secretary and persons who would take care of the water bills and so forth and a volunteer fire department. Now, just about the time that we got this all set, annexation problems came up. The city of Houston didn’t want to be ringed around with these little water companies. This is why you hear so much talk about it because they are within themselves a political subdivision themselves. They control— Just about the time we were all set, we went ahead and built a building because we were pretty sure that had we not done that, we wouldn’t have gotten anything. As it finally turned out, we built a building and we housed our fire department, and incidentally, we had a good fire credit rating of 25%, which was at that time higher than of the city of Houston. You have to relate to the people of the community. This meant that everybody here who had no insurance on their homes, once we got our fire plugs and everything down and put out a fire or two and earned this fire credit rating of 25%, this meant that they would get 25% off their insurance rate, and this was a big saving. And through the civic club we had to preach this to them and show it to them, and consequently, this is how all fears or all apprehension to this type thing would calm down.

VP: What happened in the annex? You said the problem of annexation came up.

JC: Oh, right. So in about a couple of years—it took them this long to get into it. Oh, remember this: I told you before about the busing. We had to provide a bus, so we got one of these big school buses. The nearest bus line was down here right across the bridge, 69th Street Bridge there. That’s where the end of the city line was at that time. So we had to furnish some transportation from here down there. And this is quite an interesting thing, and it was a headache, along with a lot of things, with one bus breaking down and things like this. But we made it. And so the city came out and with annexation they kept talking about there would be ample bus service and there would be adequate fire protection and things of that sort. Now, the bus thing, that’s the only thing that they could really score on because we had pretty much everything else covered. But for a lasting situation, we could see that possibly this would be about the best thing. Of course we put up opposition to it at first, but then—

JM: Why?

JC: Because we felt that the city wasn’t going to do anything for us. We felt that. They hadn’t done it, and they weren’t doing it for the people in the city at that time, so we felt that they wouldn’t do it for us unless naturally, with a lot of laying on them—which we did—we visited city council quite often with our problems because we had to get up streetlights, we had to get up all these other facilities out here, repair of the streets. The streets began to break down then, you see, and we had to get somebody to repair them.

JM: How responsive was the city to your demands?

JC: 1:08:39 They were very well, because you can imagine with a group who had worked as diligently as we had and with as much know-how—I mean, we had learned a few things, and we used that. And when we approached them, we usually got—

JM: How would you compare your experience here in Clinton Park to other black areas of Houston and the sorts of responses that they have received?

JC: There is only one other that we could compare with and that was Sunnyside. We tried to get Acres Home into this. Sunnyside passed what they call a water control and improvement district. I think this there ran into millions because they were fixing streets and fire and sewer and all that type thing, so they had quite a big deal. I think they got the idea from the first water district and saw the success that we had and so they tried. We tried to get Acres Home long before to go into this thing because they had a much larger population than we had at that time, but they didn’t respond to it at all. I think Texas Water Company had them pretty well sewed up.

JM: I think I remember reading an article a while back—was it Highland Park, the black community that had once been an independent? It’s not Highland Park.

JC: That was Acres Home, I think.

JM: It had been a city in its own right. It had been an incorporated city and then in the ‘20s had been brought in, and I just cannot think of the name of it; I just remember reading about it. In this article they talked about how the city of Houston when they got this black community to agree to come in—

VP: Is Piney Point the one you’re thinking of?

JM: No.

JC: It might have been Acres Home, a certain area of it—I don’t know.

JM: Well, it doesn’t matter. But the point that I’m trying to get at is that at least in this article it indicated that they had been promised good services from the city, and then when it actually came to spending money to keep their roads up and doing the things that they were going to do in other parts of the city, they didn’t do it.

JC: 1:11:32 That was Acres Home.

JM: But you didn’t have that experience here? Did they keep up with their promises?

JC: In the first place, the roads were already here. The developers placed them here. As far as repairing and maintenance, we didn’t get the type of repairs that we needed. Consequently, at that time I suppose they were able to pass with a four-inch concrete, which was not subject to big city buses coming in here or big, heavy material. So when the city buses began to come in, heavy like that, the route that they took, you could tell the streets were breaking down. And this is what we would use when we went to the city for them to repair. They would come out, and they would put in a little stabilizing shell, and as soon as the wind blew from the south pretty good, that would fall out. So then we began to talk with them about a little better type surfacing, and so they began to do this, and of course not nearly as well as they should do. But we’d call them out here as often as they would break down.

VP: Have things really changed any? Is the Clinton Park Civic Club still around? Do you still go to city council?

JC: I’ll put it to you like this. I’ll give you this idea. It’s one that I always liked to do. At one time there were 500 homes out here. They all had sewage connections. We had our own plant over here, sewage disposal. There was a place past Georgia Street that was not fully developed. People bought some of the lots and then began to put their houses there later. They did not have sewer; the sewers did not run out there. So one lady came to the civic club so disturbed about not having sewers. In the meantime, the city was developing a massive sewer system. It’s located right over here and would take in all of this area, so they finally took down our plant here and moved it over here and expanded. They were in the process of putting down sewers all over, including we had to call attention to this spot over there. This lady came to the civic club, and so we made sure that we would have that on the agenda when we went to the city hall. And we mentioned the fact, and actually, two weeks later she had sewers. And she hasn’t been back to civic club yet. (all laughing) I told her, I said, “Now, we cannot afford to have this type and you get what you want and then sit down.” But it looks like everybody is pretty comfortable now. The civic club as such are not as active as they used to be. I think those who were with it at that time have grown much older and consequently, they don’t get out. And for some reason, the youngsters don’t pick it up like they should.

JM: When the place was built in 1942 in response to this gun manufacturing plant, were most of the people at that time employed with this one employer?

JC: 1:15:54 No, not all of them. There were those who were employed with Shell and Sheffield and all of these.

JM: I’m just curious. What I’m trying to get at is has there been a great deal of change in terms of the sort of population that’s here in terms of where they’re employed? How has the community changed over these 30+ years?

JC: The community itself hasn’t changed. You mean moving in and out?

JM: Yeah, the composition in terms of the type of work people do, the sort of attitudes they have, whatever.

JC: They have practically the same kind of work. In other words, they are still in industry. The only thing is that they certainly are receiving higher pay now than they used to and they could well afford it. You see in the community quite a few brick structures where they’ve settled down and they’ve added on and improved their places. There are those who have moved away, but then there are others who come in, youngsters who have come in and bought places and that type of thing.

JM: There was the attitude that people reached up and made themselves, in effect, responsible for $345,000 in bond. Is that same sort of attitude here today as it was in ’48 or ’50?

JC: I don’t think so. I think the community is ready for that type thing and you’ve got the wherewith to do this. But as it is, people are pretty busy now and so they just don’t take time to fool around with it, see? You wouldn’t have any trouble at all selling any type thing like this to them now, I don’t feel.

VP: Okay. Let’s get a little bit back to you working the ad agency again. Are you still employed? Do you still have your agency?

JC: I do it now. Of course I’m getting around in my 60s—65—so I’m taking it a little easy. I don’t work as hard as I used to. I don’t put into it what I used to. Now I’m more or less thinking in terms of retirement. Where I used to go out, I built up a lot of clients and so now they call me. So I hitch up a horse and go when they call. (chuckling) Those clients that I have I service.

JM: 1:19:01 Is it still just a one-man show?

JC: Yeah, still.

JM: So the business is not going to be passed on to anyone. When you decide that’s it and close up your doors, that’s going to be kind of the end of your business?

JC: That’s right, except I have a son, and he went into the service and came back and went to work at Hughes Tool. So he stayed down there for about six or eight months, and he says, “Dad, I think I’m going to change jobs.” I said, “Yeah? What do you think you want to do?” He said, “I thought I’d do a little selling.” I said, “Selling?” So as quickly as I made that expression, I thought, “Well, this is all he’s ever seen me do.” So he’s now in insurance. So that certainly takes it a little farther away from advertising. I’ve got a grandson coming on, unless he decides. (laughing) But you do have some other agencies in town that I think are doing pretty good.

VP: Do you have any more questions?

JM: Not along that line.

VP Pursue another line then.

JM: Okay. You mentioned when you decided to go out on your own and open up your own ad agency that you went out looking for credit and you couldn’t find any.

JC: Well, I didn’t really look too hard. I really didn’t look too hard because I had possibly determined that in fact I had very little to really go on as far as a loan except for a personal loan. I could make out with what I could get on a personal loan.

JM: With your experience with the black business community, perhaps you have some observations in terms of the change in terms of availability of credit because this is what makes it possible for a person to get into business and continue to do business and expand it is the availability of credit.

JC: 1:21:43 Right. The only thing I can say is I’ve only had a few personal loans. It started out as an automobile loan. I had many friends in the white area, white group, that I had seen apply for loans and get them and consequently get on into a larger business. I didn’t try it as such. I wanted to see whether or not I could get it because I had made some automobile loans and paid them off fine. I made several of them. Each time I’d go to the bank, the guy would get the little file and look there and he wouldn’t say anything, and he’d let me have another automobile loan for, say, $300 or $400. Remembering that I had some friends who had seemingly gotten money somehow, I wanted to try again. So I went to the bank and I said I wanted to get a personal loan. And he looked at my file and along with this, with the community we built churches and things like this, and I was on the board of trustees, and we did make a loan for around $1,400 to $1,500 with my name and several others. (chuckling) We put up cars. We paid this off, and of course he held me responsible for it because he had been dealing with me. So when I went to make this personal loan, he goes through this file and says, “Well, everything is fine. There should be no trouble.” So he said, “Now look, can’t you get somebody to endorse this for you?” I said, “I could but then I don’t see any reason. I’ve done business here before.” So he said, “I’ll tell you, you take this application and see if you can’t find somebody to endorse it.” The only person that I knew to really endorse it was CE King, who could because of relationships because I was civic club and this and so forth. At the time, I was in business, I was running the theater out here, and I was banking there. And so he said, “Don’t you do business with this bank?” I said, “Yes.” He said, “How long have you been there?” I said, “About 10 or 12 years.” He says, “I’m kind of really taken up from all the contracting, but I’ll write a letter to the bank there and you take it down there and see. If you don’t have any success, I’ll go ahead and sign, but I’ve got most of my money tied up.” So he wrote a letter, and I went back to his office and picked the letter up to take it down to the bank. I took it down there and took it to the president of the bank, and he looked at it and looked at me and said, “Oh yeah. I asked Carter Wesley.” He knew I was working with the Informer. He knew him. Carter Wesley evidently knew him. So he says, “I’ll tell you what, take this letter on down there to this man.” That was at the time that the bank was facing Main Street, and the loan department was downstairs on the other street. You could walk a block through it. I said, “I wonder what’s in this letter.” See, I didn’t look at the letter. It was sealed. When he read it, he looked at me and he said, “Take it on down there.” So I said, “Well, what’s in this letter?” So on the way down there, I looked in the letter. This went on to state that, “This is Joseph Carper. He’s been doing business with your bank for some time. He is of good character. He is the precinct judge in his area,” and so forth and so on. “I’d appreciate it if there’s anything you can do from the standpoint of letting him have his loan.” All right. Well, when I went down there and gave the letter to the guy, he said, “How did you get this?” Anyway, he processed the loan. So I said, “This is something.” So I got the amount of money that I wanted, which was about $500 at the time. I said, “There’s something screwy here. All I had to do was turn in this letter. Before I pay this out, I’m going back and see if I can’t have some more.” So when I went back to make the loan, I only owed one note on a previous loan. He said, “Well, I’ll tell you, Carper, money is kind of tight.” I said, “You mean to tell me that I’ve been doing business with this bank for X number of years and making loans like this and then here you tell me you’re short on money and you refuse to give me a loan? I’ll take my money out and go someplace else.” I was just firm like that. He got excited. He said, “Are you going to be down here after lunch?” I said, “Yes. I can get down here.” He said, “Take this application and make it out and come back about 1:00.” He was going to lunch, and I left it on his desk, and when I came back, the loan was all processed. He even forgot to take out the one note that I owed. Usually this is what they do.

1:28:55 This taught me a type of thing. I had never thought about my relationship to the bank—of what my position to the bank was. I had looked more or less that the bank was just a place to protect my money. I hadn’t ever thought one time about how essential it was for me to deposit my money in the bank and consequently, I could see the approach that I took in securing a loan was actually different. I didn’t go there with a positive and a firm approach.

One other thing: I remember going to this bank, and one time I had an opportunity to buy this property here. The guy wanted $20,000 for the property, so I went and talked with the guy. At that time they had the theater there which I was running and the drugstore and beauty shop and several other places, and I took the plot there and worked out a deal where I could see where the rent on these would enable me to take in the loan. So he looked as if he might let me have the amount of money to purchase this place, but he said this: He says, “You go home and you look in the mirror.” I don’t know what idea he had.

VP: What?

JM: (chuckling)

JC: He says, “You go home and you look in the mirror, and then you come back and let me know.” Well, I came home and for some reason I looked in the mirror. (all laughing) But between my getting back down there, I had thought, “Well, this is a pretty big deal.” Twenty thousand dollars at that time was a pretty big step. So I didn’t apply back down there for this. Now, whether this was a magic touch that he had (chuckling) looking in the mirror or what, but I didn’t go back.

VP: Which bank was that?

JC: Would I have to call it?

VP: You could restrict it for the tape, but just out of curiosity, I was just wondering.

JC: It was First City Bank.

JM: You’ve been in politics kind of on the local community level for a long time. Just out of the virtue of being around for quite a few years, you’ve seen a lot of things. You’ve seen Smith v. Allwright and the impact that that had, the Sweatt case, all of this. You reached voting age in the ‘30s. How has it been for you as a citizen of this city, as a voter in the community? What sort of changes have you seen? When was the first time that you went and voted? Can you remember?

JC: 1:33:06 In fact, I know because remember this, that the only time that you could vote was after—

JM: The primaries.

JC: Right. And that was opened up in 1944. But in ’46 was the first time that I actually voted down in Galena Park.

JM: How many blacks bothered to go down in the ‘30s before ’44?

JC: Say what?

JM: Before 1944, how many blacks bothered to go down and vote in the general election?

JC: In the general election, I don’t know. I wasn’t close to it and didn’t care about it at that particular time.

JM: That’s the answer right there. So you did go. The first time that you had a chance to go down and vote in the primary, you went down and voted.

JC: Right.

JM: How many blacks do you think started voting about that time?

JC: In ’46 remember this: I think I started on this. We had no voting box here, but we did find out— In this type thing with the water district and with the civic club and you’re always looking for something new from the standpoint of civil rights or for the good of the people, here it comes up again that we’ve got to go down to Galena Park, which is about a mile. Why couldn’t we have something here? We thought this way. Remember, during that time in ’46 there was only one box in the black community, and that was over there in Fifth Ward. That was the only box. So then after you could vote in the primary, then it became necessary that you set up boxes. And they found out that if there is a population of 300 or more, you’re entitled to a box. We found all this out, so we went down and applied at Commissioners Court, and here again I was in the group to go down there, so I was appointed to judge for this particular area and have remained the judge ever since.

VP: You’re still the judge now?

JC: 1:35:59 That’s right. Every two years they reelect me. The situation is this, that I had opportunity to see how many people actually voted. At the start, I think there were less than 3,000 blacks in Harris County that voted, less than 3,000. And so I’ve seen it grow from 3,000, say, to approximately 50,000.

JM: Okay. So here you are the precinct judge. You’re having to once again be this community’s representative dealing with the power structure above. What sort of relationship have you had with the County Commissioners Court before this area was incorporated with the city since then?

JC: Very close and very good relationships. HA May I think was at that time, when this thing was first opened, he was very good. There was a lot of work to be done, and during that time we were not in the city and we were in the county, so we had to apply for most of the things that we wanted so far as streets are concerned to the county. So this is how I got acquainted with HA May, our county commissioner. After that, Ramsey beat him out. Ramsey lived down here at Galena Park or in the close area, and so we were good friends and he also helped. A lot of streets were not paved inside here where a little business was, and so they had to always put in stabilize shell and stuff like that up there for rainy weather and stuff like this. And I never was able to get them to pay that, see? They always said that this was a right of way, of course. But between the city and the county, they weren’t able to get together to ever get this thing fixed up. At one time, Clinton Drive was not like it is. It was only one way then. We certainly feel like we were a part of making this, requesting this type of road from the city along with whatever methods that they got to get the money to do it with and the schools and the streets around the schools, the lights, and so forth and all like that. And now we’ve got another one. I haven’t been down to see this last commissioner, this Fantino. I know him. I went to a meeting over here that they had of all of the precinct judges pertaining to absentee votings, some new rule that they—

JM: 1:39:55 Just what are your powers and responsibilities in this position?

JC: Only from the standpoint of holding the elections for the Democratic primary. Of course as a general practice, if any other election comes up, they always contact me to see if I would hold the election for them. So nothing more than holding the election, seeing that persons get the opportunity to express their opinions.

JM: When it comes to election time, candidates are out campaigning. To what extent have candidates come out and campaigned in this community?

JC: They do quite a bit of activity. They seek to get influential people in the community to side with them.

JM: How do they go about doing that? How do they contact?

VP: Do they do it through the civic club?

JC: No. Several others— You know politics. It takes all kinds of shapes. Some call me to see if I’m supporting any particular one. I tell them, “No, I’m not supporting him.” Or if I’m supporting a particular one, I’ll let them know that I’m supporting him but that I’m not doing any active campaigning. I’m trying to sell him advertising. I handle bumper stickers, I handle pins, fingernail files, emery boards—I handle all of that—so I try to sell him on that idea. (interviewers laughing)

JM: Your business comes to you.

JC: That’s right. I can’t afford to support everybody because as far as business is concerned, I’m trying to do business with all of them.

VP: Right.

JM: The leaders in the community, once they’ve decided to support somebody, how do they go about influencing the people here?

JC: Here it’s our civic club again. Usually, as I said, we’re not too active now. But usually when something like this comes about, we try to do it through our precinct club. We gather information, and we meet and they talk on different candidates. I’ll tell you this: The opportunities that our blacks have come in since they began to get in politics for any particular one to run against a black in the community, he has a pretty poor showing. Take Judson Robinson. He is our councilman, and certainly he carries his thoughts pretty good. Judson used to live right over here at Pleasantville, and at one time, this precinct encompassed all of Pleasantville until they woke up to see that they’ve got 300 or more residents, and then they established a box. But until that time, they always used to come over here.

JM: 1:44:04 What about back in the ‘40s after the case in ’44? How has it changed in terms of politicians really getting out and trying to get the blacks to vote for them?

JC: Oh, certainly they realized that. You can never say the politician is sleeping. He’s always out to get whatever votes he can, and he has no restraint coming in to black areas. Of course he always tries to get some influential black to help him, and in most cases he does.

JM: Right. I have one last question. It’s just something that I’m personally quite curious about, and that is the end of the poll tax. The poll tax used to be a very hotly debated issue. Since it’s dead, people don’t think about it much anymore. But you indicate that for you and many other people, it was the end of the discrimination in the primary that made the real difference. That’s when you began to get interested in politics because that’s when you could influence things. But what about—what was it, 1965?—the end of the poll tax? As a precinct judge, as the person who sits there, you know who is in your precinct, who is eligible to vote, and how many of these people actually are. To what extent did the end of the poll tax mean a difference in people turning out to vote?

JC: I’d say you’ve got more registered. You’ve got more persons registered. But actually, sometimes you get a little disgusted. I mean, when you’ve been in this thing—as I told you, I’ve seen it grow from where 3,000 blacks in the county only voted and grow up to 40,000 or 45,000 to vote—to me, it’s a sad situation that we’d have so many registered. We’ve got over 75,000 or 80,000 blacks who are registered in Harris County and can’t turn out more than possibly 45,000 or 50,000. To me, I can see the growth, but it looks like it should be a little faster with the opportunities and with them seeing what can happen. With the vote we’ve been able to get representatives in our legislature, in our Senate, and now in our United States Congress, and in our city we’ve been able to do a lot of things. With 75,000 or 80,000 votes, you know that there’s at least 35,000 or 40,000 out there just not turning. This is the thing that sometimes is disgusting. But I’m happy after looking over the thing and seeing that over the years, say how long it took you from back there before the Lonnie Smith case. That was a long time and how many years they fought that. The wheels of justice turn slowly. (chuckles) And so you’re able to satisfy yourself with that, that there is some progress being made.

VP: 1:48:22 So far, we’ve covered politics, business, and just an immense number of things. Can you think of anything we haven’t covered so far, things we haven’t touched upon? You’ve given us a very good interview.

JC: I think that you did mention the educational part of it. We hadn’t elaborated too much on that line. But I think here is something: that the schools from the standpoint of integration, we seem to have a lot of trouble in this area. I’m not sure whether the system—as they now call it the magnet— But I do know this: I can see the problems that we’re having, and that is because of the mode or the manner in which we lived and established our homes. This is primarily the trouble. You talk about busing. Well, there was just simply no other way as I could see. Now, I think busing has done a lot for integration, where there are those who feel that it hasn’t. But the fact that people can get together—and this is the way I look at integration: The friends that I’ve had—and I’ve got some very good white friends and friends in all groups. I’ve got Mexican American friends. In all groups the only thing that actually separates us is that I live here and they live across town in some other place. This is the only thing that separates us. As far as some particular function, we get together. Now, as far as schools are concerned, the Clinton Park School over here is a complete black school. The only reason is it’s a neighborhood school and there’s nobody in here but blacks. Now when we get to our other high schools, I do feel that busing should have applied both ways. I think that because here is where we get a chance to become familiar. There are many times that here we’re sitting here and you seem to be at ease and I’m at ease, and it’s because we’re acquainted or we have had this— This isn’t the first time that you’ve interviewed a black person. You’re both working together, and you’ve established some relationship. I find that integration is nothing more than getting acquainted, and this is one of the best things that could happen. So if it takes busing to take me to someplace where there is a conglomerate of people, why not? I don’t see where this is such a crime, especially because we have made this situation ourselves. We were forced to buy here, and there were those in other areas who attempted to buy that they were run out from there. So consequently, if we’re going to get any benefit out of integration, certainly we have to bus or in some fashion get together.

JM: 1:52:40 With your neighborhood school here, I suspect probably your children went there and your grandchildren are going there now, so you’ve seen quite a bit with this school. In terms of the quality of teachers provided, in terms of the quality of support the school district has given to that school, how have things changed over the years?

JC: I think that one of the things that has changed is the quality of the teachers. I think this has happened. I think any one of the teachers out here—I don’t know. I haven’t been over to the PTA meetings or anything like this. From the standpoint of dealing with the grandchildren and so forth, at one time we had a little problem with one of our grandchildren with a Mexican American teacher. She didn’t seem to be grasping as quickly as she did prior to when she was under a black teacher, and we made several visits over there and we got very little response, so we finally had to go to this group—I forget the name of the organization—where if there is any problem that you’re having in the school, they will sit in and also inquire or investigate or observe. We had to resort to this. My wife possibly knows the name of the organization. We had to do this with one of the children. I hear them complaining about the white teacher, the 35-65 ratio, and I can imagine the differences in people. I sympathize with the white teacher because here she is—and particularly the young ones. They’re forced into this thing here with a majority of black and possibly they’re frightened too. And they possibly are not as firm in seeing to it that this child gets the proper background. Of course you hear some of them saying that they don’t care. I’m not saying that they don’t care. I’m saying that they are frightened and possibly cannot do their best in this area because any time that you’re put forth in circumstances that you’re unfamiliar with, you are not as firm in it as possibly you should be. Now, this I think might be a complaint that might be justified.

JM: Do you think that when the school had all black teachers that perhaps the atmosphere as far as learning was a little better than it is today?

JC: Only to this point. We have to be frank about this. In the black communities it is a different situation. From your very earliest of youth, you’ve found among the blacks that a teacher is a very important person. And consequently, as far as blacks are concerned, they look at the teachers just about like they look at the preacher or the minister. On the other hand, you won’t find a black teacher in the Houston Independent School District or any other district that has not received a BA or MA degree, where in many whites you find that they have not. They’re possibly working on it here of late. In other words, this has been instilled into the black. This is an important profession, and if there was any way they could afford to get them into school, they went to school and they finished. Of course I can’t be too positive on this particular point, but from what I’ve seen and what I’ve heard, many teachers are teaching in the white schools who have not this degree or who are working on it. And because they know the principal—you see, all of the hiring is done by the principal, and he can work out many ways for them. I’m saying this with this particular thing, that this is what has happened. Now, from here on I’m certain it’s much different. But this I think has something to do with what you might look at as one being able to handle the situation and another not being able to handle it.

VP: Okay. We’ve talked a lot about the schools and that. I guess that pretty well covers everything, and I know you have a program at school at 1:00, and we don’t want to take up too much of your time. So John, if you don’t have any more questions—

JM: No.

VP: —or you don’t have any more comments, John Mauer and Veronica Perry would like to say thank you immensely for adding to our oral history project.

JC: I’ve certainly enjoyed it. I hope that this will be beneficial for you.

JM: I can assure you that it will be. I can really assure you.

VP: It’s been very educational to me. Thank you.

JM: Yes. It has been to me too.

[tape ends] 1:59:43