Keywords: Booker T. Washington School; Third Avenue South
Map Coordinates: 29.380940, -94.903870
Keywords: Agee's; Booker T. Washington School; Dr. Dorthea Jones; Integration; Johnnie Henderson; Movie theaters; Rock's; Sit-ins; Texas Avenue; Texas City High School; The Red Coats; Water fountains; Weingarten's
Subjects: African American neighborhoods; African Americans--Civil rights--Texas; African Americans--Segregation; Civil rights movement; Discrimination; HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities); School integration
MAYFIELD: Today is Thursday, April 21, 2022, and we are in Texas City, Texas atthe old annex building at 928 Fifth Ave North. This is Theresa Mayfield, the Local History Librarian with Moore Memorial Public Library. I am working on the African American Oral History Project, initiated by Moore Memorial Public Library to aid the African American community in building the historical narrative and to fill in the gap of the historical record. Today, we have the distinct pleasure of interviewing Miss Mary Parker of Texas City. Miss Parker, I'd like to ask if you could introduce yourself starting with, My name is and I was born in--
MAYFIELD: --and then tell us a little bit about yourself.
PARKER: Oh, my name is Mary Parker. Mary Lee Parker. I was born in Galveston,Texas at the, uh, UTMB when it was John Sealy. And I've lived in Texas City all my life. Um, I was raised over in Texas City. I went to Booker T. 00:01:00Washington, uh, Elementary and High School. And I finished there, and I did two years at Texas Southern in Houston, Texas. And I started working. And then I just worked and retired twenty years ago.
MAYFIELD: Okay. Well, we're going to begin to get a little bit into your historyif that's okay.
MAYFIELD: Um, so, you said you were born in Galveston County, but you've livedin Texas City all your life. What year were you, were you born?
PARKER: I was born in 1943. July 1943.
MAYFIELD: In July, what, what day?
PARKER: July 25, 1943.
MAYFIELD: So, what are the names of your parents?
PARKER: My dad's name was Mr. Louis Parker. And my mother was Miss Willie Mae,Mrs. Willie Mae Parker.
MAYFIELD: And where were your family from originally?00:02:00
PARKER: Well, my mother was from Navasota, Texas but, uh, she met my daddy downin Wharton, Texas where she was raised with her, uh, siblings and my grandparents. So, they met in Wharton, Texas.
MAYFIELD: Um, so, what brought them to Texas City?
PARKER: Well, my mom was working in, --she told me she married my dad to get outof the country. (laughs) And my mom, --my dad had a job here in Texas City. He was quite older than my mom. So, she married a, a elderly man. And they moved here. And he worked. I cannot, I cannot remember all of the places that he worked, but I do remember one name of uh--. He used to work at a plant over here in Texas City.
MAYFIELD: Okay, so your dad was already here in Texas City working at00:03:00one of the plants, he met his mom, he met your mom in Wharton.
PARKER: Wharton, yes.
MAYFIELD: And then brought her over here --
PARKER: -- Brought her here, yes.
MAYFIELD: What, what year did they move here, or did she move here with him?
PARKER: Whew. I don't know, now, because I have older siblings that was bornhere. And my oh, uh, it had to be, --I was born in '43. (laughs) So, it had to be in the early thirties.
MAYFIELD: In the early thirties. You said you had siblings.
PARKER: That was--
MAYFIELD: --how many siblings do you have?
PARKER: It, it, uh, it was six of us.
PARKER: And, and I had three older brothers.
MAYFIELD: Mm-hmm. And their names are?
PARKER: Uh, Louis Parker, Jr., Earnest Parker, and Emmitt Parker. Those were theeld-- the oldest three, and then I'm next.
PARKER: Then I have a brother named Earl Parker. And my sister's name isWillie Faye Parker Thomas or Willie Thomas Parker. 00:04:00
MAYFIELD: Willie Thomas Parker?
MAYFIELD: Wow. Thank goodness you have a sister, right?
MAYFIELD: Because that's a lot of boys in that family.
PARKER: Yeah. (Mayfield laughs) Four boys and two girls.
MAYFIELD: So, how was your relationship, growing up, with everybody?
PARKER: Well, in, --we were all really pretty close, because we was just livinglike, uh, a radius of a certain point what we was raised in the community. And, um, just about everybody knew everybody, you know, back then. And like, we would, you know, we were just, all friendly. Like, my mom and my neighbors on the street where my mother lived, they were all, you know, we couldn't do anything because they would discipline us also, and then go tell your parents about it. So, that's the kind of relationship we had in, in, in that city, at that time.
MAYFIELD: Hmm, hmm. I heard a lot about that.
MAYFIELD: It's like kids were, you know, --the neighbor down the street wouldknow exactly if you were out and you weren't supposed to be out -- 00:05:00
PARKER: -- They'd know who you were and who your parents were.
MAYFIELD: And they would tell, right away.
PARKER: They would tell if they saw you doing anything wrong. So, we really had,you know, --we was raised like that, so.
MAYFIELD: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. Um, so what was your family's economic circumstances like?
PARKER: Well, my dad, --well, I really, you know, back then, I really can't say.He worked at, --he made a good living for the family and, and stuff. He took care of the six kids and my mom. And uh, he had a, a job until he took sick. He was a vet. He was a World War I vet.
MAYFIELD: Oh. Oh.
PARKER: Yeah, he was a World War I veteran. I have a picture of him in his WorldWar I uniform. And we lived a good life. I mean, not good as you, --what we knew as a good life. We had food to eat, plenty food. We had clothing. And he took care of us really good. My mom didn't work at that time. She just 00:06:00stayed home and, and she was like a housewife. She just took care of the children.
MAYFIELD: So, it was you, your mom and dad, and your sister and brothers. Whatother relatives did you have contact with?
PARKER: Oh, I had um, aunts. We had, --my mom had sisters and brothers inHouston, Texas. My grandparents were still in Wharton, Texas. And we had aunts and family here in Texas City. We had the, --like my dad's family was, uh, uh, kin to uh, well, I can't, I can't even remember the family name now. But it was, uh, if you remember Ethel B. Vincent?
MAYFIELD: What was the name?
PARKER: Ethel B. Vincent. Her husband was Calvin Vincent, who was our00:07:00principal in high school.
MAYFIELD: Oh, Ethel B. Vincent. Oh, okay--
PARKER: I was in that family. My dad was in her family.
MAYFIELD: Oh, okay.
PARKER: Ethel B. Vincent. We had a great aunt there, who was my dad, dad's aunt,was also Ethel B.'s aunt, so that was my dad's side of the family. And my mom's family was all from Wharton or either Houston. So, we didn't have any of her family members living in the city until later on, when her two sisters moved to Texas City. But we were big children, and I was grown when they moved here.
MAYFIELD: Wow, but it seems like your father's family have a big history inTexas City.
PARKER: They do.
MAYFIELD: It seems like it. So, when did they all come to Texas City?
PARKER: All I know that, when my dad, --my dad was here. I don't know how longhe had been here before he had married my mother and brought her here. And our, --I, --my brother Louis is the oldest, so he would be like eighty, eighty-two. I'm guessing at his age because I don't, I, (laughs) and he was the 00:08:00first born. And then, Earnest was ten months behind him. And then the rest of the siblings was spread at two years apart. So, the other brother, Emmitt was two years after Earnest. I'm two years after Emmitt. And Earl was two years after me. And my sister Faye was two years after Earl.
PARKER: That's how we was done. Yeah.
MAYFIELD: That's great for your parents, you know. Just--
PARKER: --Yeah, two years apart.
MAYFIELD: Yeah, two years apart. Mm-hmm --
PARKER: -- Mm-hmm.
MAYFIELD: So, what do you remember about your grandparents?
PARKER: Oh, I remember everything about my grandparents, because we were reallyclose to them. And we would, like, in the summertime, when school was out, my brothers would have to go down to the country. We call it down to the country, which was in Wharton. They would go down and they would have to work. 00:09:00Pick cotton and stuff like that. And my, and my grandfather was on this farm. And, well, me and my sister would, would go, but we didn't have to do any work or anything. But that was just stuff for them to do in the summer. So, most of the time, they spent the whole summer there. But me and my sister would spend like, maybe a month or so with my grandparents. And then my mom would bring us back home. But we went to Wharton just about every summer after we got out of school.
MAYFIELD: So, what was it like being down in Wharton, then?
PARKER: Well, I didn't like it.
PARKER: (Laughs) I could remember I just didn't like going to Wharton, becausethey didn't have the restrooms inside. They were like the little outhouses and stuff. I hated Wharton. I didn't like milk from cows. The fresh milk from cows? So, that's the way they would live. And that's what we would have, the homemade biscuits, and the milk from the cows, and all that stuff. So, it was very stressful for me being in Wharton. I didn't like the country life at 00:10:00all. I never did.
MAYFIELD: Mm-hmm. That's okay. You know--
PARKER: -- But my brothers and all and everybody else did. And my sister didn'tget too much of that because she was four years younger than I was. And my dad died when she was just a little baby. So, she didn't know too much about my dad at all.
MAYFIELD: Um, I'm going to kind of skip forward a little bit, because I realizesometimes when I'm asking people, I forget to say, did they get married, did they have children. And so, um, did you ever get married when you got older, or?
PARKER: No, I didn't. But all of my siblings was married. Yeah. All of them.Every last one of them had been married and had children.
PARKER: I have two children. A boy and a girl.
MAYFIELD: What's their names? (Ed. Note Kennin and Dorcas Parker)
PARKER: Uh, my son is fifty-five and he's a tech for Enbridge Energywhich is a Canadian company in Houston. 00:11:00
MAYFIELD: Mm-hmm. Emergy at?
PARKER: Enbridge. Enbridge, E-n-b-r-i-d-g-e. Or something like that.
PARKER: Enbridge Energy, it's a, uh, I think they're affiliated with oilcompany. But anyway, he, he worked around because he worked for Arthur Anderson before they shut down. He was a tech there first. And when they closed down, he just moved on, moved on. Which he always had been very independent, and up there in the technology, would he that, that's what he do.
MAYFIELD: Hmm, hmm.
PARKER: And my daughter, she has cerebral palsy.
PARKER: So, we, --she's always lived with me. But her cerebral palsy affectedher lower extremities. So, she's a very bright child. And she worked and now she's, she's not on, she's uh, she was a very bad asthmatic, also.
MAYFIELD: Hmm, hmm.
PARKER: So, she was sickly most of her life. Very sick.
MAYFIELD: I'm sorry to hear that.
MAYFIELD: And what does she do now?00:12:00
PARKER: She's up and out and she's doing things. Right now, she put in for this,uh, first time homebuyer, that they have here in the city program. Well, she's in that class they had to take right now. She's doing this class every Thursday. They do it by Zoom. So, she's into that. And she's waiting to hear about her, you know, she filled out the application and she was accepted. So, that's good. So, she's right there.
MAYFIELD: That's fantastic.
MAYFIELD: That's fantastic. So, let's talk a little about your neighborhood,growing up.
MAYFIELD: What, what was your address growing up?
PARKER: My address was 631 Third Avenue South. And I still own that propertyover there.
MAYFIELD: Is that in the area where they--
PARKER: --We was right across the street from Booker T. Washington's old gym.
MAYFIELD: Oh, okay, now I see where you are. Okay.
PARKER: Yeah. And right now, they tore my house down like a year ago. Ihad the city to tear it down because it was just falling down. The 00:13:00old house that we had growing up in. So, it's been down for about a year, or maybe two years now.
MAYFIELD: I'm going to ask you for some pictures of that house, if you have it,later on--
PARKER: Ah, I might. Yeah.
PARKER: I think I might have some at home, somewhere.
MAYFIELD: So, you lived in that house, um, up until three, a year ago, until itwas --
PARKER: Oh, no. The house was just there.
PARKER: My mama died in, in uh, she was ninety-one years old.
PARKER: But the house was there because she went into the nursing home, here inTexas City up on Twenty-fifth. She, --and when she got there, she didn't want to come back home. So, we just kept the house for her. Kept the bills going and everything, --that you know. But she never did want to come back home. So, she never did come back home from the nursing home. So, her house was there, and my sister lived in it after her. Well, my house burned, and I stayed in it for a while, since I've been grown. And my sister lived in it, and you 00:14:00know, until, like, maybe five, may, --about ten years ago.
MAYFIELD: So, you guys moved to the home. First your sister, then you, on andoff lived in that house.
PARKER: Yeah, uh, we kept the--
MAYFIELD: --but you've had it in your family--
MAYFIELD: --since you were a child, right?
PARKER: Yes. Yes.
MAYFIELD: Mm-hmm. Um, what was the racial and economic make-up of that neighborhood?
PARKER: Well, back then, everybody was on, like, the same level. You see, what,--about the same level because we was all in the same neighborhood. But we as children, and growing up in school and everything, we never knew anything, (laughs). We always thought we were good, you know. Because we had, we, we participated in sports and stuff, growing up in school. We, did 00:15:00everything that, you know, school would allow us to do. So, like my brothers were football players and all of that stuff. I can, --grew up, --I was the majorette, --then last four years of my high school, I was a cheerleader for Booker T. Washington High School.
MAYFIELD: You like sports?
PARKER: Yes, I do. Mm-hmm.
MAYFIELD: What was your favorite sport in high school?
PARKER: Well, mine was volleyball. I played a little volleyball. We had a girls'team for a little while, but then that didn't go anywhere. But that's about it. We had a lot of girl athletes at the, at the, uh, Booker T. Washington, but I wasn't one of them. I was always, like in cheerleading, or either, --I was in the choir there, too.
MAYFIELD: So, after school, you would either have cheerleading or choir practice?
MAYFIELD: Mm-hmm. Did your neighbors have social events together? Do you remember?
PARKER: Well, yeah, sometimes they would have little get-togethers00:16:00and stuff like that. Uh, like if, one of the children had birthday parties, they would invite other children in their age group, --group and stuff like that. But that's about all I can remember of getting together, you know. They were very, --I mean, everybody in the neighborhood knew everybody and all that and would look out for everybody.
PARKER: Like, back then, you, --we slept with our doors open. We didn't lock anydoors at night.
MAYFIELD: Wow, right? How interesting that is, like, sometimes, even now, it'sso hard. People can't imagine not locking their doors --
PARKER: -- Yeah, you can't imagine. No, but we never did.
MAYFIELD: That's good.
PARKER: I don't think anybody that you have, like, --my, --the Parkers, which ismy family, was the Parkers, and the Ellisons, and the Swans was the, like the bigger, the biggest family with children. The Swans had more children than the Ellisons and then our parents. We was kind of on the same level 00:17:00of economics, you know? Like when they, --we both probably got TVs and stuff at the same, about the same time. Children would come to our house to watch the TVs and also over to Ellisons. So, I can remember that because everybody didn't have TVs at that time. And my mom and them had cars. They had cars and stuff. We would go, you know, --they would take us to the doctors, and whatever we needed to do. She, she had cars and transportations, and so did the Ellisons.
MAYFIELD: So, did you, uh, always have a car? Or was there a certain time andyear that you remember, oh, that was the year that you got the car? Or--
PARKER: I don't remember. All, --for me growing up, we always hadtransportation. So, I don't know about my brothers, you know. And my dad died in 1950. And um, my mom had transportation. So, we always had ways to 00:18:00get back and forth to doctors, grocery stores, and wherever she had to go, and do whatever she had to do. And she, she knew how to drive until she got way in her eighties. (laughs)
MAYFIELD: Oh. Goodness. Um, so you said you got your TV, what, --do you rememberwhat year that was?
PARKER: No ma'am. I can't remember, but my brothers and we were all still athome. Hadn't, --the brothers hadn't finished high school or anything yet. So, we had, --yeah, we were one of the families that had TVs at that time, which was uh, kind of rare because everybody didn't in the neighborhood. But after a couple years, everybody had just about the same thing. So, I can remember when I, when I became in the high school, in seventh and eighth grade, everybody, just about had in my, in my time, --all the people in the 00:19:00neighborhood had just about everything. So, we were all like, just growing up. It was other families more, had more economic than we did. And had more money to spend and stuff like that. But we, you know, it all depends like, the, the preachers and the teachers, and the photographers in that area. They had; you know, --but, by, I think, my dad was a plant worker, so he made good income, which was good at that time. Which, you know, was probably wasn't nothing, but to take care of his family. So, we always had enough.
MAYFIELD: When I talk to folks, you know, religion seems to be important in thecommunity. So, what church did your family attend?
PARKER: Okay, my, my, my mom was First Baptist. Frank Johnson. And my00:20:00dad went to Barbour's. So, that was one thing. My dad was a Barbour's Chapel man, and he didn't, --they did not attend the same church. She was busy in her church at First Baptist. And he was busy, busy at Barbour's. And that's the way it stayed, all the way through life. He went to Barbour's Chapel, and she was First Baptist. (laughs)
MAYFIELD: So, what church did you attend?
PARKER: All of the children. All of me and my siblings went to First Baptist.All, all, --we was all baptized, no, --I'm not going to say, I was not baptized at First Baptist. I never did get baptized there. After I came back here and had my children, I joined. I never did get baptized until I was, oh, in my thirties or something. I joined Mount Zion Baptist Church in Texas City. Rev. Lee (Ed. Note: Rev. T.A. Lee) baptized me.
PARKER: Which he, he was, uh, the first person over there at Mount Zion. He wasa pastor there. He baptized me.
MAYFIELD: How old were you when you got baptized?00:21:00
PARKER: Oh, I guess I was about, maybe, forty, thirty-something. I, I, I don'teven remember.
MAYFIELD: A little older.
PARKER: I've been in the church. I've been at Mount Zion, over like forty yearsor so, or more.
PARKER: And it started existing in nineteen--, and it was, --it's forty-sevenyears old. So, uh, I've been in that church quite a while. So, I was in my late thirties.
MAYFIELD: When you were baptized?
PARKER: When I got baptized there.
PARKER: Yeah. And that's been my church home, ever since.
MAYFIELD: Well, so, you go to church with your mom, what sort of influence didthe church have on you and your family?
PARKER: Oh, it was a big influence, because back then in the day, even though Idid not, --wasn't a member, we was raised in the church. We were raised at First Baptist. We had to go to Sunday school. We had to go to that BYPU after, 00:22:00 in the evenings.
MAYFIELD: What is BYPU?
PARKER: It was like a Baptist training for youth. Children. But we had, youknow, --that's something we that we had to do. Even though we didn't take it seriously and stuff. It was more of a good time and a get-together for children in that year, in that stage, I'd say at twelve and thirteen. We would all go in the evenings and run around and be outside until they had the little class. But we, --that's when we got together and, and saw each other, you know.
MAYFIELD: That's how you saw some of your friends outside of school, maybe?
PARKER: Yes. Yes. And all of our friends, either attended one of the threechurches. It was Barbour's (Ed. Note: Barbour's Chapel 109 8th Street S.) on one corner, First Baptist (Ed. Note: First Baptist Church Colored 819 ½ 1st Ave S.) on one corner. And the Methodist Church across Ninth. Every sibling, I mean, all of the children back then either attended one of those churches.
MAYFIELD: It's like you all leave the house at the same time and split off toyour own church?
PARKER: The ones that were going, the people that was in the families00:23:00that make children go to uh, to attend churches, yeah. Those were the only three.
MAYFIELD: So, which pastor sort of stands out in your mind? Like, was moreinfluential, I guess, to you?
PARKER: Well, I'm going to say the pastor, Rev. Frank Johnson was around uslonger because Rev. Scott, which was my dad's, pastor over at Barbour's, I was not, I never did go to any of his sermons. But I, I went to Frank Johnson's church and visited there until he died. And I still go there under Rev. Bell. (Ed. Note: Just to visit) But the pastor that most, after I've got grown and really got dedicated with my services, was Larry Johnson from Mount Zion.
MAYFIELD: Why? Larry? Oh, so, wait. Was Frank Johnson and Larry Johnson--.(Parker shakes head) Nope? No relation?
PARKER: No. No. Frank Johnson was First Baptist.
MAYFIELD: First Baptist, and--
PARKER: Larry Johnson was at Mount Zion.
PARKER: -- He was there when the church, --he came in and we was in00:24:00an old building and he saw a new church, and we built that new church under him; Rev. Larry Johnson. He died, like, right after the pandemic started (Ed. Note: COVID Pandemic 2020-2023). And that was the big blow to his church because he was a good pastor. And I'm not still over his death yet, because Pastor Johnson and his wife were really like family to us. I, I, --like, the year he died, well he spent Christmas dinner, they spent Christmas with me and my family like the last four Christmases together. And the first Christmas, we missed him. He would come, --I would do Father's Day dinner and invite them over for the last, --for Father's Day. So, all of my family knew him. And he was with us during any kind of tragedy. He was with me when my grandparents died and my aunties and all that. So, he's been in our family. He was with our family a long 00:25:00time. So, that's the pastor that really taught me and my children. Uh, Rev. Larry Johnson.
MAYFIELD: Mm-hmm. Big support and a friend, also.
PARKER: Yes, he was.
MAYFIELD: Hmm, hmm.
PARKER: He was very close. He was a good pastor too.
MAYFIELD: So, you've mentioned the, the BY--
MAYFIELD: --PU. Now, uh, you said that was sort of a--
PARKER: --It was Baptist training for youth.
MAYFIELD: But were there any other social groups for young people when you weregrowing up?
PARKER: In the church? Well, you know, they had the little children ushers andthe little children's choir and all that stuff. But other than church, school activities, I think that was it. We had the rec.
MAYFIELD: Oh, the rec center? Yeah.
PARKER: Yeah. With Warren B. Jones, we grew up with him, also. That littlerecreation center over there off of Ninth. They, they, --it was a little white long building, and then they built another brick building, and then 00:26:00they finally tore it all down over in that area. But that's, that's where I, uh, that's where we went for recreation and everything. They had everything in there. And they also had the swimming pool back over there for us.
MAYFIELD: Mm-hmm. So, that's in the summertime. What about wintertime?
PARKER: Wintertime was mostly--, I remember my stepfather taking me to wrestlingin Galveston. (laughs)
MAYFIELD: Wrestling? (laughs)
PARKER: They had wrestling in Galveston on Thursday nights. Now, I rememberthat. And uh, it was a big auditorium. We would, we would, my, --they would look at it on TV, my brothers and stuff. But I remember him taking us different places like that. But--
MAYFIELD: t-- Not within Texas City, right?
PARKER: No. No.
MAYFIELD: It was outside?
PARKER: No, they had little carnivals come into town and stuff like that. But itwas, it was very, it was, --we just grew up like that. We didn't have 00:27:00a whole lot of things to go to. And like vacations at that time, too many families, and our vacation was like going to Wharton to the country every year. So, when we got back to school, that's what we told them about, --our country activities and stuff like that. But other than that, we didn't do too much. When our families, as going on vacation, because they couldn't afford it anyway.
**Brief break in interview**
MAYFIELD: You were telling me; you were telling me.
PARKER: Oh, well, when, when I was in elementary school, I only went to thefirst grade here because I was an asthmatic growing up. So, my mom sent me to out west to West Texas. I had to go to Lubbock. So, I went to elementary school in Lubbock, Texas. I came back here. I just, --the minute that I come back home when I got in the seventh grade, uh, the sixth grade.
MAYFIELD: Okay. So, you, you had to go to school out west. Right? And then youstart school in the sixth grade at Booker T. Washington? 00:28:00
PARKER: When I came back here.
PARKER: Yeah. I wanted to. I missed my family. I did elementary out at Lubbock.
PARKER: And um. When I got back to, uh, Texas City, my teacher in the sixthgrade was Ethel B. Vincent. So, (laughs) and I went through high school and finished high school here.
MAYFIELD: What year did you graduate high school?
MAYFIELD: 1961, okay. So, um, well, we'll, we'll talk about, a little bit of thecivil rights later on in--
MAYFIELD: --our discussion. Uh, so, you lived very close to the school when you--
PARKER: --Right across the street.
MAYFIELD: Right across the street?
PARKER: We all grew up there. And that's where every one of my siblings wefinished our, --well, except for my, my baby sister, she graduated from Texas City High School.
MAYFIELD: Okay. But, so, she was in the next sort of wave of students00:29:00that when they were kind of transitioning--
PARKER: Yeah. She, she, she uh, she was the first one to start. One of the onesthat went to Texas City first.
MAYFIELD: Oh, that first year? She was one of the students --
PARKER: -- Would, yeah. Yes. Yes.
MAYFIELD: Okay. Okay. Um, so, you're, you're now back here at Booker T.Washington and what sort of after school events did you attend, --other than I know that you, you did play some volleyball and you were a cheerleader?
PARKER: Okay. Well, after school, well, like, I, I loved the choir. I was with,--uh, Ora Lee Carter was our choir teacher in the ninth grade. And I started singing with her. We had our little, uh, octet group that we would go, and we would go around with her. And she would take us around to sing. But we would go to different places, like, we would, we would go to Prairie View to the Interscholastic League.
MAYFIELD: Wait, what was that called? The--00:30:00
PARKER: Interscholastic League.
MAYFIELD: Interscholastic League? Okay.
PARKER: Yes. What we did. Uh, what we did. I went for typing. I went forspelling. And I also went for choir, --singing with her. And we, I don't know what they, --we had a lot of trophies from back then from Booker T., from where we went and participated in different things. So, that was good. We had all of those activities going on. So, we would like, have to study for that. We had, uh, homemaking, you know, like, with Mrs. Myrtle Davis. We would, we, --I loved to do that. I would do homemaking a lot. I would like to go and sew and do different cooking activities with her. And we would have like talent shows and stuff like that.
MAYFIELD: What was your talent?
PARKER: (laughs) My talent was singing, I guess and dancing.
MAYFIELD: Singing and dancing? That's a good talent, right? So, you mentionedMiss Calvin. (Ed. Note: Mrs. Calvin Vincent not Miss Calvin) What 00:31:00teacher do you think had the most influence on you?
PARKER: Wow. Ora Lee Carter.
MAYFIELD: Ora Lee Carter? Why so?
PARKER: She was, --she was jus, --she had the most influence because she wasmore like a mother figure to us. And I was more around her more because she would take us places even. Just like we had our little eight corps group of people that would sing with her. But she would take the four girls, --she would take like to her mom over in Galveston. We would do different things, and you know. She would have, --we would have little dresses made for the, for the group, for the four girl's groups, and boys knew what the, --it was four girls and four boys. So, we just enjoyed being with her. She, she was really, like a mother figure, figure. And even after I finished high school, and even after I got, I started working for Booker T. I mean, I did vocational 00:32:00training as a vocational trainer up here in Texas City. I worked twenty-one years with the school district as a vocational trainer. And it was in the uh, special ed. department. And Miss Carter was a special ed. teacher. So, I even got a chance to work with her in school then with, --she was working with special kids. So, I got a chance to be with her then.
MAYFIELD: So, you were with her as a student, and then, then as a colleague, right?
PARKER: Exactly. Exactly.
MAYFIELD: That must have been kind of exciting.
PARKER: It was. And she was the teacher there in that class. And it was a lotof, --I remember it was other students that worked with her also. But she was a good teacher. But her, her, her uh, specialty was music. Yeah. So, she, uh, she died about fi--, four or five years ago. So, they don't have too many 00:33:00teachers left living that I, that was during my time. I think there's one living, Billie Murray is still living.
MAYFIELD: Billie Murray?
PARKER: Billie Murray.
MAYFIELD: And, and who is Billie Murray?
PARKER: Uh, she was Billie Faye Johnson then. She taught, she taught school atBooker T., but she also taught at the high school, like, Mrs. Davis did, Myrtle Davis. She was another favorite, --a good teacher of mine.
MAYFIELD: Myrtle Davis?
PARKER: Myrtle Davis. She was the homemaking teacher. She taught at Texas CityHigh School, also.
MAYFIELD: So, uh, Miss Davis and Miss Johnson, both, like, transitioned overfrom Booker T. over to the high school?
PARKER: Yes. Not the high school. Now, I think Billie Faye Johnson, was at, uh,Roosevelt, no. Now, what was that school called? Roosevelt Wilson? And one of the elementary schools down here. 00:34:00
MAYFIELD: Oh, so, she moved over from an elementary school?
PARKER: Yeah. Billie Faye Johnson did.
MAYFIELD: Mm-hmm. But Myrtle Davis--
PARKER: -- Myrtle Davis was at the high school.
MAYFIELD: At the high school.
PARKER: Yeah. She taught high school.
MAYFIELD: And they're both still alive?
PARKER: Yes. Matter of fact, Myrtle Davis, I saw her last Saturday at thepicture taken for the, uh, explosion. (Ed. Note: Referring to the annual picture take of the survivors of the 1947 Texas City Disaster).
MAYFIELD: Oh, okay. Okay.
MAYFIELD: I might have to get in contact with them.
PARKER: Yeah. She, she, they, --she was there.
MAYFIELD: Oh, okay.
PARKER: Yeah. And Billie Murray is still getting around. I think she might stillbe driving. But I had the, --the last time I saw her, I had to, uh, make her know who I was.
MAYFIELD: Oh, okay.
PARKER: Yeah. (laughs) It, it, you know, she's getting there.
MAYFIELD: She's a little bit older now.
PARKER: Yeah. And Mrs. Davis, I don't think Mrs. Davis really knew. I spoke to00:35:00her Saturday, and I think she was like, a little cloudy, also. But at that age and that long, oh, we went some whole lot of things because she was with us. She taught us, uh, homemaking economics there. And I liked her class also.
MAYFIELD: Oh, because you liked making things and cooking and stuff like that --
PARKER: -- Yes.
PARKER: Yes. And the things we made, we would always have a talent show and worethe things that we made at the end of the school year.
MAYFIELD: So, you said that you, you, um, have a--, you had a vocation where youworked for the school. Did you have to get a, --go back to, go to college for that?
PARKER: No, no. I had two years of college. I had--. When I had been workingaround in Texas City, and I got without a job, so I think there was a--. When I 00:36:00first had my daughter, Dorcas, and I would, uh, --I was trying to, --I had signed up to do, uh, teaching, you know, like working for uh, you know, like, being substitute teaching.
MAYFIELD: Oh, substitute teaching. Mm-hmm.
PARKER: Yeah. Substitute teaching. I signed up for substitute teaching, but, uh,Mr. Vincent or someone came over and told me about this program they was fixing to start because they didn't have education department, department in the school system yet. He said they were hiring three teachers in all; it was a whole lot of teacher's aids. So, I became one of the teacher's aids. We did some training in Houston at the blind place for like six weeks before they started the uh, set up this, uh, special services. And so, it was on the old Booker T. campus. That's where we started at. The special services. And then it just kind of springed out to different departments because it got so big and so full of kids. 00:37:00And I remember when I was at the high school, in the back, in the vocation department, I was working with the children from, --they was up to twenty-one years of age. But there was high school, um, high school aged kids. But they was special students.
We would, I, --all I did was, --they would go to, --we had different places inthe community that would let our kids come and work. And we would be one of their trainers that would go out with them to work. So, we went to Wal-Mart, went to Dr. Scott, veterinarian, and Dr., uh, (laughs) uh, he's not in here anymore. His name was Scott, right here on Texas Avenue, that veterinarian. (Ed. Note: Clarified the address was 9th Ave North and not Texas Ave.) We went to 00:38:00McDonalds. We was at La Quinta Inn down here in, --we had different places that we would take, --each trainer would go out on different sites with different kids.
MAYFIELD: So, these kids have like the work-study program.
PARKER: Yes. They would--
MAYFIELD: You would work with them and--
PARKER: -- and train them how to do things.
MAYFIELD: How to do the job.
PARKER: Yeah. How to do the job because they have, uh, --I mean, even after wefinish. Right here at Kroger's for the last ten years, it was a, a child that I trained worked at Kroger's, but he told me him and his family was moving. His family was retiring. He worked at Kroger's as a sacker. And he, he knew, "Miss Parker" when he seen me. He said, "What are you doing?" He was very good. I trained him right there in the, --at Kroger's. Then other, --well, we'd do it, uh, we would switch them around and do different trainings like at McDonald's and at the, --all of these, uh, little restaurants and things. But it was different people that let us come in and train them in the--
PARKER: -- the community.
MAYFIELD: So, what year, you said you graduated in 1961 from highschool? So, what year did you start this vocational project?
PARKER: I think that was in the seventies.
MAYFIELD: Oh, okay.
PARKER: Like '72 or '73.
PARKER: Because I worked for the school district for twenty-one years. And thenI left and went to the State of Texas, and I was working in, in clerical over there at, at UTMB in Galveston. And I did it so much, and I worked there, and I found out that the officers, correctional officers had better retirement, better pay. So, I switched and went to Beeville to train for an officer for like six weeks. And I became an officer, and I worked there until I retired.
PARKER: And I had like, --I retired in, uh, twenty--. I've been retired00:39:00twenty-two years. So, I retired from the State of Texas instead of, --I did not draw down my, um--
PARKER: Yeah, retirement from the school district because that carried over tomy state time. So, that helped me with my retirement with the State.
MAYFIELD: Hmm, that's good.
PARKER: Mm-hmm. And plus, if I had my insurance and stuff was vested with theState, so, I wouldn't have gotten that with the school district. I had a whole lot of better opportunities through the State. So, I retired with the State. So, that's where I've been and that's where I'm at now.
MAYFIELD: Well, you're retired right now.
PARKER: I've been retired for twenty-two years.
MAYFIELD: Oh, yeah, okay.
PARKER: I was like, fifty-five when I retired.
MAYFIELD: Oh, that, that's awesome.
MAYFIELD: Right? Yeah. A lot of people probably want to be able to retire.
PARKER: Well, I had to retire because of disability.
PARKER: I have lu--, I have lupus.
MAYFIELD: Oh, I'm sorry to hear that.
PARKER: And a low immune. And I have a lot of problems and stuff but, I'm still,here, so, I, I feel blessed. But I worked under, uh, --with a lot of people from Texas City. A lot of teachers from Texas City too. I don't know what happened to them. But (laughs) I remember Alice Raines. She was one of the teachers. Alice Raines, Ora Carter, --they had three teachers that they hired for this special program. And they started the special services here in Texas City. Not, Alice Raines. Alice Raines was a principal here, or something. I can't think of that woman's name. I cannot think of the other teacher's name. It was two teachers that I, I know. One was from Santa Fe. And uh, she, she, --it was three that they started, but the program really got wild when they had--
MAYFIELD: --The vocational program really got big --
PARKER: -- Yeah. And all campuses. And different qualifications. Like, they went00:40:00to spreading them out, like emotionally disturbed, and this and that, and the other. So, they wasn't all cluttered together. They put them in different--
MAYFIELD: -- It was, it was a big program and they had different --they had itspread out around the city --
PARKER: -- Yeah, yeah --
MAYFIELD: -- So, they'd have space?
PARKER: We started with one big program, and they just had one area. But thenafter they start, they would characterize these kids and put them where they belong. Because you know, you had emotionally disturbed kids. They didn't need to be with your Down syndromes, you know. So, it was like, different. But at first it was all come together. But then they, you know, they find that. But I left, I left during that time. Because I left in '94, I think, and went to the state.
PARKER: But, other than that, and --I, I, I, I really enjoyed my high school years.
MAYFIELD: Well, let's talk a little bit about your, about that time period.Let's go back a little bit and, and tell me, who was your best friend growing up?
PARKER: Her name was Stella Wilredge.00:41:00
MAYFIELD: Stella Wierridge?
PARKER: Stella Wilredge. She and I was next door neighbors. And uh, she was oneof them. And then I had Marcy Ellison. Marcy Ellison is still my best friend to today. We was in school. We fin--, uh, they all star--, we all started out together.
MAYFIELD: Is Marcie Ellison, Dr. Ellison's sister?
PARKER: Uh, sister, uh, sister-in-law.
MAYFIELD: Oh, sister-in-law. Oh, I see.
PARKER: Yeah, she's married to Lynn's brother.
MAYFIELD: Oh, I see, okay.
PARKER: Yeah. So, yes, and uh--
MAYFIELD: What was she back then? Because she was --she Marcie, what was herlast name then before she got married?
PARKER: Marcie Richards and she, she, --I mean it, she was in the, --like she00:42:00would go. She lived in these apartments, what you called the Projects. We called them Projects, off of Ninth, over here. She lived over there. I lived over at the same place I'm at, -- my momma's house was. And she would like, she, she went to beauty school, but she was doing our hair back then because we didn't have money to go get our hair done. Marcy would do our hair. All of the girls would go to her, and she would charge us fifty cents to get our hair done and stuff like that. And we was like, from the ninth grade on up, she did things like that. We were all really close together. And she was my classmate. And Stella Wilredge, she also was a graduate of '61. So, we was really close, the class of '61. But then we had other class members, like Lynn's class. And the class, all my brothers, and all of those other people. We were really, we knew 00:43:00everybody. So, we had, you know, --we have, --we started this, uh, alumni organization, the Booker T. Washington Exes. So, I became a part of that also. So, we started, --that's when we had our first school reunion, under the Booker T. Washington Exes. So, we reached out and brought everybody back home. And we still have the organization going as of today. You know, we was responsible for that park down there. Uh, and the African American Cultural Park down there, over there. So, it was, --we still, we still reach out to each other as today, we still get together. And we still have meetings and talk to each other. But it's a lot of us that have gone. It's really slowing down there.
PARKER: Mm-hmm. But we had, we, we would do things like on weekends. Like uh,when we would go on trips, on school, or when we would go play a different team, 00:44:00and you know, we traveled by school bus. And then we would come back and hang out on the corners over here by the school and talk about what happened, and different things like that. Because all of our practices was on the campus right there. Right across from where my mama house was. So, we practiced our band, and the band, the cheerleaders, the football players, all practiced right, on that property right back there, --behind the school. So, that's where our practices was. So, we, we had a lot going on back then.
MAYFIELD: Where would you go to see a movie?
PARKER: Texas Theater.
MAYFIELD: How much was a ticket?
PARKER: They told me it was fifty cents.
MAYFIELD: Where was it located?
PARKER: Right up here on Sixth Street. The old Texas Theater, --it was, it was00:45:00on the left-hand side of Sixth Street. And they had a store called, Wiener's used to be sitting on that street, but Texas Theater was on that block. Behind, uh, on, on, Sixth, on one of the corners. And that's where we would go to look at movies.
MAYFIELD: Is that where you and your friends would like to meet as you weregetting into being an older teenager?
PARKER: Well, I didn't go to the movies a lot. I had to go with my brother andhis girlfriend who was old, uh older. So, they would take me because, --and even when I was fifteen, you know, like, we would do, they would do things on Halloween night. Well, I couldn't leave unless I was with my brother. Or his girlfriend would take me different places. So, she was a senior and I was in the ninth grade. So, she would let me go hang out with them. And she, there were ninth grade, --a senior would be responsible for me.
PARKER: Yeah. So, we would do things like that. We would haveHalloween parties. We would have functions at the band hall, dances and stuff on weekends. And uh, at the rec. It was, we had a lot of--. We had a lot of entertainment. So, it wasn't, you know. But we enjoyed the high school. And it was like a close-knit family growing up. And just like, with all of the BTW Exes, we still a close-knit family.
MAYFIELD: That's super important.
MAYFIELD: Yeah --
PARKER: -- It's always been. And like today, uh, Marcie and I are still bestfriends. Marcie Ellison.
MAYFIELD: How many years has it been?
PARKER: Whew! Since we was in the first grade.
MAYFIELD: That's a long time.
PARKER: It's a long time.
PARKER: She's seventy-eight and I'm seventy-eight.
MAYFIELD: Oh, there you go.
PARKER: (laughs) And we--
MAYFIELD: -- And she's always lived here in Texas City, also?00:47:00
PARKER: She's always been right in this area. She moved, her family moved toBeaumont for like two, a year or so. But we visited her during that time. We would have different track events. Our teacher would take us with her, and we would go, and we looked her up while she was in Beaumont. (Ed. Note: Referring to Port Arthur) And it, it was like the school was there. So she came to the field events, and we got to see her there. But they finally moved back to Texas, back to Texas City. So, we all grew up together. We all finished high school together. She went, she went into the nursing field.
MAYFIELD: Oh, that's a, that's a strong field to be in, right? Especially--
PARKER: -- Yeah. Yeah.
MAYFIELD: Uh, like considering how they are looking for nurses so much now.
MAYFIELD: So, do you remember any places in the community that were consideredlike, trouble spots? Like your parents would say, "Don't hang out over there?"
PARKER: No, because we didn't, we didn't, --our parents would only let us do somuch and go so far, because we was like from Texas Avenue to Fourth Avenue, Bay Street to Ninth Avenue (laughs). That was it. And we didn't go outside of those areas because, you know, we was in the, we were all in the same, like, Black neighborhood. So, they all like, --all my brothers had their little group that they would grow up with, and then I had my group, you know, as the age limit 00:48:00was. So, that's all it was. We didn't do, we didn't get a chance to do a whole lot troublemaking. It just like, we didn't have a whole lot of, you know, like, smoking, all of that. We didn't do that. We didn't do anything. Drinking. That wasn't part of our life. Our life was really sports, school activities. And we had to go to church. Now, we didn't want to go, but we had to go. (laughs)
PARKER: And stuff like that. Things we had to do that our parents would makesure we would go do. So, we got our, a whole lot of education from my church and from my teachers. We had very good teachers too.
MAYFIELD: Well, what about political discussions? I know, I heard there's abarber shop over there that everyone met and had political discussions. Do you remember that growing up?
PARKER: You talking about Wise's Barber Shop?
PARKER: Yeah. But I didn't go to that barber shop that often. I went to anotherone. We had another one right around the corner called Malveaux's.
PARKER: Malveaux's Barber Shop. And Wise's. Malveaux's and Wise's. So, I went toMalveaux's, after I, --oh, I think in the tenth grade. I had long, long hair and I cu--, I had a ninth, --a senior girl that was doing hair and going to beauty school cut my hair off, because we, --they were calling it a French poodle then. The little, short, French, curly hair. She cut all my hair off and I, (laughs) I wore this scarf on my head for like a month.
MAYFIELD: Oh, no, I'm sorry.
PARKER: Yeah. Because I didn't want my mom to know I cut all my hair off.
MAYFIELD: She didn't figure it out?
PARKER: She, --yeah. She figured it out. She just, jerked the scarf off my hair.And she just told me from then on, I was responsible for my hair. That's why I had to go to Marcie Ellison, Marcie for fifty cents. (laughs)
MAYFIELD: (laughs) To get your hair done right. You're not going back over tothat other place.
PARKER: Yeah, my mom would send me to this, to the beauticians in thecity to get my hair done or whatever. But I didn't have that luxury anymore after I cut it off. But it grew back.
MAYFIELD: Did you have a favorite place that you liked to eat?
PARKER: No, we didn't go out to eat. Like, I'm used to doing now, because wedidn't ever get around. The only thing, the only thing we would go to eat, we would have like, the hamburger joint on Sixth Street. And we called it the Trampoline, the Trampoline.
MAYFIELD: The Trumple Inn?
PARKER: Trampoline. Trampoline.
MAYFIELD: Oh, The Trampoline?
PARKER: Yeah. And that was, uh, uh, Mr. Crowley's place. (Ed. Note: Referring toMr. Craddock) And they had hamburgers. And you could just go buy that kind of stuff like that. And Perkin's Barbeque Pit. That was another place we loved to eat. And I don't know, uh, I doubt not too many people know about Perkins, now. 00:49:00But they had the best barbeque in Texas City and Galveston County, because everybody would come, white, Black, all would come there and get barbeque. And he made these home-made links, and you could, and you know, --as of yet, today, I haven't ever seen anything like it. We always wish we that we could get old Perkin's links right today. But he, he, did, he did that barbeque, and he did a good job of it.
MAYFIELD: So, it's not here anymore, right? It closed down.
PARKER: No. It was on Sixth Street.
PARKER: On the corner, on Third Avenue and Sixth Street.
MAYFIELD: Do you remember--
PARKER: -- Right on, on the, --we was on one corner, my mama's house on thiscorner, and Perkin's Barbeque Pit was on that corner, off of Sixth --
MAYFIELD: -- Oh, my gosh, you could smell it all the time, then, probably.
PARKER: Oh, yes. Ooh.
MAYFIELD: (laughs) That would be hard.
PARKER: That was a treat to go get barbeque dinners. (laughs) We'd have, yeah.
MAYFIELD: So, you, you, you said that you always owned a car. Do you rememberthe kind of car you owned?
PARKER: Well, we had a big old Pontiac, I remember (laughs). Well, I, you know,00:50:00we have the stories, like, when we would go to the country. My grandparents, my grandfather had a car. He had an old Chevrolet, and my brother would talk about where all we was driving in the car, and the bottom fell out. You know, I don't know what he had then, because my mom and them would drive us to Wharton, ah, in the cars for the summer. But that even, back then, my grand--, my grandfather had a car when my brothers was gone, going to the country. So, they would go to town every Saturday, I remember that. We would go, we only got to go to town on Saturdays. And we would just spend the whole day up there doing stuff. All day. And then we would go back out in the country. But it, it, --but as I grew up, things got modern for me in the tenth grade and the eleventh grade. Well, I didn't go through a lot of stuff that my brothers and them had to 00:51:00go through, because it was more, you know, I grew up during the civil rights movement in the sixties and stuff like that. And that had started and all that stuff, so.
MAYFIELD: We're going to talk about that. I'm going to ask you some specific,more questions.
PARKER: Yeah, so we um, --I uh, I got a whole lot, I got a lot of things to dojust like, we would go like, during the summer, Mr. Vincent would pick different people to go, --like they had special projects where they would send us to Prairie View to train. Like I was a cheerleader. So, I went for cheerleading. They would have so many members for the band, and we would stay there for like three or four weeks.
MAYFIELD: Was that in the summertime or during school?
PARKER: No, that was in the summertime.
MAYFIELD: Oh, okay. Mm-hmm.
PARKER: And we would go to these different camps they would have at--
MAYFIELD: Hmm, camps.
PARKER: --Prairie View University and different places. And he would send us.And I, I, --that was another thing that I enjoyed doing, because I would go for 00:52:00cheerleading and uh, that's it. He would pick me as a cheerleader to go there. And then he would send some majorettes, some band students. And it was just different things that we went there for. But that was a good time. Yeah.
MAYFIELD: Well, what happens when your car broke down? Let's, let's--
MAYFIELD: Who fixed it for you?
PARKER: I guess it was a mechanic's shop around here somewhere.
PARKER: Because there always had to be mechanic's shops. I guess my parentswould take it to the mechanic's shop and got it fixed.
MAYFIELD: Who taught you how to drive?
PARKER: I, I learned how to drive at driver's ed. at Booker T.
MAYFIELD: How old were you when you started driving?
PARKER: Oh, fourteen. But I didn't get my beginner's license until I wassixteen. But I started driving it early, as soon as I could get in there and start it. So, we had two driver's ed. teachers over there.
MAYFIELD: Did your mom let you drive the car other than in your driver's ed. classes?
PARKER: No. I didn't; she didn't. (laughs)
PARKER: We had to grow up and buy our own car to drive.
MAYFIELD: Oh, you had to buy your own car to drive?
PARKER: Yes, exactly. I never did drive any of my parents' cars.
MAYFIELD: How old were you?
PARKER: My, my mother's car.
MAYFIELD: How old were you when you bought, when you bought your first car?
PARKER: Oh, I was about, in my twenties. Early twenties.
MAYFIELD: Okay. Okay.
PARKER: Yeah, I bought me a car. Now, I had been, --but I, we, --you know, wejust knew driving. Then I had a, --my girlfriend, Stella Wilredge, well, while we was in eleventh grade, her aunty bought her, uh, uh, uh, it looked like a little station wagon. And we would ride in there. Some of the kids had cars, and we would all gang up and ride in whoever had cars and stuff like that.
MAYFIELD: So, until you, you, until you got your own car, you shared rides withyour friends.
MAYFIELD: Mm-hmm. So, you mentioned that, um, you never had to tounlock your doors, uh, which is amazing. But do you recall any disasters growing up?
PARKER: Nothing but the explosion and Carla.
MAYFIELD: Do you remember the, wait, --how old were you during the explosion?
PARKER: I was, uh, five.
MAYFIELD: You were five?
PARKER: No, four. But I remember the explosion. I can remember just certainthings, like a flashing of red in my mom kitchen. I was in a gown. The children were going to school. And it looked like the stove turned over. I just remember stuff like that. And I remember, all the people running. And, and all these trucks picking people up. And I remember my momma running with a whole lot of the neighborhood kids.
MAYFIELD: Mm-hmm. She went and grabbed all the kids that she could find.
PARKER: All, was we was all just running. And I don't know how we, we got away.But then I kind of remember, I remember being out in those camps. They called it--
MAYFIELD: Oh, at Camp Wallace?
PARKER: Camp Wallace.
PARKER: I remember that. I remember my mom combing my hair out there and findingthis hole in my head where a piece of metal had been in it. Because I had thick, long hair. And the metal had been in my head, and she was combing it and she discovered this blood. But I had a piece of little metal in there. And they had to get it out. Take me to the doctor and get that out.
MAYFIELD: You didn't feel it?
PARKER: I didn't feel it. I didn't feel it. But it was there, im--, im--,imbedded in the top of my head and she, uh, went and got it out.
MAYFIELD: Oh, my goodness.
MAYFIELD: You are so lucky.
PARKER: Yeah. So, I was the little girl, running around, just with my mom. Andshe had, uh, my sister. My sister wasn't born then, I don't think, in '47. 00:54:00
MAYFIELD: Right, because you have a younger brother two years younger.
PARKER: Earl was the, uh, yeah.
MAYFIELD: He was probably just a baby, I imagine.
PARKER: Yeah, or she had Emmett, and she threw him in the (laughs). We all gotaway, but I, I just don't, you know, I just remember all the commotion. But that's about it. And I remember when our house burned down, right there in that same spot. And they rebuild it right back again. They rebuilt that same house right back there again. That was so strange for the house to come back in the same spot.
MAYFIELD: So, you had a house there. It, it was damaged during the explosion --
PARKER: -- It burned down during the explosion.
MAYFIELD: Okay. And then, so, you built the same house.
PARKER: My daddy built the, --had the same, all the same house; built rightthere on that same corner.
MAYFIELD: Oh, that's got to be strange too, definitely.
PARKER: It was strange.
MAYFIELD: Hmm, hmm.
PARKER: It was very strange.
MAYFIELD: Well, what was it like being, do you remember what it was like beingat Camp Wallace?
PARKER: No, I don't. I just know that a lot of people, and a lot of people00:55:00walking around, and we were in these little tents and stuff. But other than that, uh-uh.
MAYFIELD: Do you remember how, how long you stayed there?
PARKER: I remember, --no I don't. I just remember, I guess those was soldiersand stuff, would bring treats to the children. Now, I remember that. But so far as, anything else, I remember Camp Wallace and I remember the treats. And that's about it.
MAYFIELD: So, you mentioned Carla. How were, how, how were you impacted? How wasyour family impacted during Carla?
PARKER: We lost everything in the house. I was, --Carla was in '61, the yearthat I graduated from high school. So, I was getting ready to go to Texas Southern. And I had all of my stuff for college packed in these suitcases, and all of that stuff was ruined. So, I didn't go to the first semester at Texas 00:56:00Southern. But I remember Carla. Yeah, my mama tell us, like, "You girls get some things, we're going to leave; some clothes together." But I was, --never gone through anything like that. And then my sister, --we were supposed to have a football game that Saturday night. I'm going, like, "No, I'm going to the game", you know. I didn't know what it was they was running from. And I'm going like, --I was, well, you know, we had an attitude because we wanted to stay to go to the football game. Which there wasn't a football game. We didn't know anything about this hurricane. And my mom, said, "Get your things together". And aw, man, me and my sister were so stubborn that we had on this little, short set, and we went. We would not pack anything. So, my mom, would make us wash what we had on every night and put it on the next day, because we refused to get clothes. Oh, we didn't know nothing. Then everything was ruined when we got back.
MAYFIELD: Did you have a second story in your house, or was it just one story?
PARKER: Just one story.
MAYFIELD: Okay. How high did the water get? Do you remember --00:57:00
PARKER: -- The water came up to like this (indicates height of water) in our house.
MAYFIELD: Oh, my goodness.
PARKER: It ruined everything. All of the furniture and everything. We had tothrow everything out. And just start from scratch. But we got a lot of help from the Red Cross and all that. But, ah, I think we stayed. My, --I had an aunt that lived on Seventh Avenue North. And I don't think the water was that bad on that end, so we spent a, a couple of nights and stuff with them until they got everything cleaned out, and we could come home again. But I remember Carla. I was, you know, I was a big, --I was seventeen and I, uh, I just remember coming back to the city and we had to take these shots. And I remember all these barrels that had washed down from the plants. There was just all this kind of destruction.
MAYFIELD: What kind of barrels, uh, those oil barrels? How--. Were they big?
PARKER: Yeah, big black barrels. And they were just all just gangedup in the area over by the school and all, just everywhere in the neighborhood. That had washed over here.
MAYFIELD: Did a lot of your neighbors get water in their homes too?
PARKER: Yes. Everybody just about got it over there.
MAYFIELD: Hmm. What happened when someone was ill or injured? Where would yougo? Or what would you do?
PARKER: We would go to--. Well, when I was in high school, and stuff, we wouldgo to Danforth. You, uh, right down here on Ninth Street; the emergency room. They had an emergency room there. Or you'd use UTMB. But, I remember, they, --I was an asthmatic and now, when I would get a cold, real bad cold, I remember Dr. Twidwell.
PARKER: I don't know if you ever remember him or not.
MAYFIELD: Hmm, hmm.
PARKER: Twidwell would come out to our home.
MAYFIELD: With his little black box?
PARKER: Yes, ma'am.
MAYFIELD: Little black bag?
PARKER: He took care of a lot of us during that time. He would come out.
MAYFIELD: Now, he was by himself, right? He didn't have an assistant.
PARKER: Uh-uh, no. He was right down; he was over off of Tenth somewhere. Iremember that. Because even after I got grown, I think Dr. Twidwell was still back there for a little while. But Twidwell took care of us. He would come out. He would make house calls.
MAYFIELD: He would make house calls.
PARKER: Yes, he did.
MAYFIELD: Now, you know, it's funny, we were having this discussion recently,realizing that there's no cemetery in Texas City. And, and I was just curious what would happen if, --when someone passed away. Where would they go?
PARKER: Well, when my dad passed, in 1950, he was a WWI vet and he's buried inthe Rising Star in La Marque. His gravesite is over there.
MAYFIELD: Where would you go before you were buried? Did you have togo to a funeral parlor? Did you have a funeral in your home?
PARKER: We had funerals, we had funerals, I remember they had funeral, --peoplethat would come and take care of them then. Now, when my dad, --I remember my dad being in the hospital. He was, --my dad had cancer. I know he had cancer. They said he died with carcinoma of the stomach, but my dad lingered. He had cancer. And I was trying to get my papers on my dad, and I was calling, I called over there and, and this woman, I told them my dad died. He was in the Marine hospital. (Ed. Note: Referring the Naval Hospital --Camp Wallas, Galveston Texas) She told me it wasn't a Marine hospital in Galveston. I said, "Yes it was." My daddy was a Marine (Ed. Note: Her father was in the Army) and he was in, it wasn't John Sealy. I definitely remember him being in a Marine hospital in Galveston, Texas. And she said, "That didn't never exist." And I'm going, "Oh 00:58:00yes it did." We had a Marine hospital and that's where my daddy was. And I remember going over there visiting him. And he walking around in the gown outside in this little outside area over there. And it wasn't UTMB. So, it was a Marine hospital in Galveston. I've got to look that up again, because this woman just a couple of years ago told me no, never had a Marine hospital here.
MAYFIELD: I know that there was some, because someone asked us recently about ahospital that was down in Galveston, that was the, the, it was like an Army hospital.
PARKER: That's where vets went.
PARKER: My daddy was in there.
PARKER: That's when he died.
MAYFIELD: There was a hospital. (coughs) It's changed now. But there was one.
MAYFIELD: Back then there was.
PARKER: Back then, my dad in 1950, he died in that hospital.
MAYFIELD: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.
PARKER: And uh, I'm going, like, "Oh, yes, lady, it was." It was a hospital, andit was for veterans. And that's where he was. So, I came up. I still have my dad's, --I think I have his discharge papers. And I had to get my mom 00:59:00and dad's marriage certificate, and all of that. Because, like, my dad, my dad was a lot older than my mom. And like I said, he was a World War I vet.
MAYFIELD: Oh, yeah.
PARKER: And you don't have too many World War I vets' around here now.
MAYFIELD: Uh-uh. Uh-uh.
PARKER: But that's what he, he was in. A World War I vet. And he married my momafter he had been in the service and all of that.
MAYFIELD: So, your, --when your dad passed away, did you have a wake, or did youhold wakes or anything like that? How was it when--
PARKER: -- They had all that. They had a wake--
PARKER: --and he had a funeral at Barbour's.
MAYFIELD: Okay. So, the wake and the funeral would be at Barbour's.
PARKER: I don't know if the wake was at a funeral home or at Barbour's. But, no,it wasn't at the church. I know it had to be at the funeral home somewhere. But the funeral was at Barbour's.
PARKER: He was a member there.
MAYFIELD: I see. Okay. Um, so, growing up and shopping for food,where did you guys go shopping?
PARKER: Well, we, (laughs). I remember a store called Big Chief.
MAYFIELD: Where was that located?
PARKER: On Sixth Street, up there somewhere by where Food King is now. Maybenot, not that far. That was Weingarten's.
MAYFIELD: The Weingarten's, that's right.
PARKER: Yeah. I remember Weingarten's. I remember Big Chief. And I remember, uh,a place over here on Texas, down further. It was, uh, I would have to get Lynn to tell me what the name of that place was now.
PARKER: Because --Pic & Pac or Pick and Pay, maybe.
MAYFIELD: Mm-hmm. That sounds familiar. Uh-huh.
MAYFIELD: So, were there any places that you would have liked to have shopped,but couldn't? Or wouldn't?
PARKER: I, I, if there was, I didn't know anything about it.
PARKER: Because we at, --when I was uh, growing up, in high school, Iremember going to Chambers looking for stuff. And over at, Eiband's. My auntie would take me to those places to shop for different things for me. Over at Eiband's in Galveston and Chamber's because she loved to shop at those expensive stores. And those was one of the, two of the expensive stores in this area. I remember Chamber's down here on Sixth Street and Eiband's in Galveston. She would go there, and she would buy us different things. Buy me, she would take me shopping. But um, otherwise, other than that, I don't remember where, you know just like, like I said, because I missed the time here from my first grade--
MAYFIELD: Oh, right.
PARKER: --to my seventh grade.
MAYFIELD: So, you're here in seventh grade --
PARKER: -- Sixth grade
MAYFIELD: So, a few years.
PARKER: Yeah, sixth grade. But yeah, sixth grade. And when I came back in the01:00:00 sixth grade, everything was different then. You know, I had my first-grade teacher, who was Mrs. Ricks, and then I came back to Mrs. Vincent. And then we had the high school, then I had to go through the high school teachers.
MAYFIELD: So, it was--. It went by quick, is what you're saying?
MAYFIELD: It went by, yeah, it's different. Um, so, what was your favorite foodgrowing up, like something that your mom makes that you absolutely loved?
PARKER: (laughs) My favorite food was a, a Sweet Potato Pone. My mom used tomake it. Uh, they don't, --I don't, don't know, --I can't explain it. It was in like a flat pan, and it had a little crust to the bottom. And it was more like what a sweet potato filling would be, a sweet potato pie filling. But it had a little glaze on the top and you could cut it in squares. Ooh, that was some good, it was really delicious. And she would use the regular, home, all butter, or whatever you call it, real butter in it, I liked that. And she would make, --I liked her rice pudding. But people don't do rice pudding now-a-days. And (laughs). 01:01:00
MAYFIELD: That's my favorite. No, no one in my family likes rice pudding. Mm-hmm.
PARKER: Okay, but you have had rice pudding?
PARKER: And sometimes she would put raisins in it.
MAYFIELD: Oh, my goodness! You're, you're talking my language now. (laughs)
PARKER: (laughs) Yeah. But we, my mom would fix that. And my grandmother wouldmake this, uh, big, tall stack coconut, it would be with a white icing with coconut and pineapples in the layers. And it was coconut-pineapple cake. Ooh, that was the best cake. And it was made from scratch.
MAYFIELD: Did she make that at only certain times of the year, like, were there--
PARKER: -- She would make it, like, for Easter when we would go, --we alwayswent to my grandparents from the time we was young. Every Easter, my family, the whole families would go. All of the families. My mom's sisters and brothers and stuff from Houston. We would all meet up down there for Easter every year.
MAYFIELD: What about Christmas? Did your mom make anything --
PARKER: -- No. Christmas. Yeah. On Christmas, we did our individual families. Wedidn't mix with the other families from Houston. Only on Easter that we got together. And we had family reunions every summer also. And but, on Christmas, we just did, actual stuff. My mom did turkey, the dressing and all that stuff. Sweet potato pies and all that stuff. Well, we did that at our own home. I mean, everybody would be at their own house.
MAYFIELD: Um, so, as a family, like your mom, dad, brothers, sisters, how oftendid you eat meals together?
PARKER: Well, in the evenings, we ate supper together. Every, --we would have,we would have to be there for supper. We would have to be home by supper time, wherever you went. If we was at practice, every day before it got dark, 01:02:00 we had to be home. You, all of my brothers and things growing up, everybody had to be in the house before dark. I just remember one, that was the rule. You don't let the dark catch you out, nowhere.
MAYFIELD: What about like if you were practicing for games or anything? How didthat work?
PARKER: Well, most of the time, my stuff, all that would be over with. We, we'dbe (laughs).
MAYFIELD: Oh, okay. Okay.
PARKER: Yeah. You had time to get to practice and get home and get your supperand all that stuff.
MAYFIELD: Okay. Okay.
MAYFIELD: What about like, what kind of conversations did you have around thedinner table, if you remember?
PARKER: I can't remember the conversation that we had, because, uh, you know,most of the boys was all real rowdy and stuff. But I had good brothers. I remember that. I had protective brothers. They were very protective of me, the younger siblings. They would take care of us.
MAYFIELD: Well, I mean, that's what brothers were supposed to do.
PARKER: Mm-hmm. And as of this day, I miss my oldest three brothers that died,because two of them was carpenters. And anytime I needed something fixed, whatever, I would just call them and they was there. But now, it's just like, oh, you've got to pay the carpenter. You have to pay for this. You have to pay for that. And they knew how to do everything from plumbing, electrical work, everything.
MAYFIELD: Is that what they did for a living, your brothers?
PARKER: Uh, two, the oldest two. Yes. They did. Well, uh, Louis, they all workedout in those plants and stuff, like construction work. But after my brothers all would, take on jobs like, handymen or carpenters. They were carpenters. And I 01:03:00remember my brother and one of the captains, the first Black captain of the fire department, Cliff. He and my brother would work together on jobs. Clifton Jones, Cliff Jones was a carpenter also, even though he was the captain, a fire captain. They did a whole lot of, --a matter of fact, Cliff, was my contractor when my house burned. He was, he had, uh, --he was the contractor that redid my house.
MAYFIELD: Okay. So, wait. Now, you, you're, you had a house. It got destroyedduring the disaster. And then it burned down again?
PARKER: No, no. This is my house.
MAYFIELD: Oh, now, your house. Okay.
MAYFIELD: And where is your house now?
PARKER: I'm at 801 Fourth Avenue North. I'm catty-corner to the old St. Mary'sCatholic Church. I've been on that spot for, maybe, well, --I paid for the house. I had a thirty year pay. So, I been paid for the house, so, I've been there paid for years. Right there in that same spot. And uh, my house burnt. I 01:04:00had a little fireplace there that, --and I didn't have enough insulation in the wall. I had my house to burn. And Cliff Jones was the contractor. I hired him to, to do the work, you know, through my insurance company. I knew he could do it.
MAYFIELD: Hmm, hmm.
PARKER: So, he redid it. But I've been there ever since.
MAYFIELD: Okay. So, at least you're saying, over thirty years staying in that house.
PARKER: Oh, yeah, I've been there over thirty years because I paid the house offand I'm still there. (laughs)
MAYFIELD: Mm-hmm. Okay.
PARKER: Yeah. Because when I retired, I wanted to have all my, the house paidfor. And I had just remodeled the house. Because I retired that January.
MAYFIELD: You just remodeled the house, and it burned down?
PARKER: Yes, ma'am.
MAYFIELD: Oh, my goodness.
PARKER: I had had all new furniture and everything. But the insurance paid forit because I had, uh, I was with Allstate. They did good.
MAYFIELD: Well, that's good to hear.
PARKER: Yeah. (laughs)
MAYFIELD: Sometimes you hear stories, but that's good to hear --
PARKER: -- Yeah. I, I, --my mom always taught me to have insurance.To be independent. That's one thing she always taught us girls. Not to depend on a man to do anything. You make sure, --I guess that's because my daddy died, and she had to raise six children by herself. And she did a good job of raising us. And she always say, you know, "Make sure you're independent. Make sure you always have your own. And always, God bless the child that's got his own." So, I went out and I, you know, --I went on and purchased a house. I was a single parent, but I purchased my place and I, I still got it going on. So, that's it. She taught me that. And I was able to take care of myself all of my life.
MAYFIELD: It sounds like a nice, I mean, like, not, sounds like a strong woman,you know.
PARKER: My mom was a strong woman, and my grandmother, too. But we01:05:00had some, we had some strong parents back in there. Nothing like these parents around here today. Because, you know, they were very strong parents and they, and they didn't play, you know. They was serious like, --I'm going like, you do this and that, and you didn't do things, you know. Because we was not raised like the children coming up today. That was what my people believed in Spare the rod, Spoil the child. But now, you can't do that now-a-days. But that's how we came up.
PARKER: And we are still healthy and in good shape, so, we didn't, we knew, so.
MAYFIELD: Well, I kind of want to talk about civil rights in Texas City. Um,what was it like being African American in Texas City during the civil rights movement?
PARKER: Okay, during the civil rights movement, well, like I'm saying, we wasn'taround too much. You know, now, we know that we had a different section when we went to the movie theater. And (laughs), they had something like, --I remember my brothers and them used to fight with gang of white boys, called "The Red Coats." I just couldn't remember that them just talking about "The Red Coats", and they wouldn't let my, --they couldn't cross Texas (Ed Note: Texas Avenue). And my brothers and them couldn't cross Texas over there on the other side, and they couldn't cross Texas on this side. It was really weird, but we didn't have a whole lot of confusion because we was just raised by ourselves, so.
MAYFIELD: You were raised in your community. There's no confusion --
PARKER: -- And that was it. And we had everything in our community, so I neverhad, I never had a chance to be, you know, I, I never knew a whole 01:06:00lot of, you know, like being insulted by white people or anything like that. We wasn't raised under that time, you know what I'm saying? We, we could go in the stores. Like I'd go, --I remember Rocks. I used to love to go to Rocks and buy little odds and ends. Do you remember Rocks?
MAYFIELD: What's Rocks?
PARKER: It was a little, it was a little store down on Sixth Street. Youprobably see it in that explosion people. It got a sign out there saying Rocks. We would go there buying little odds and ends. We'd buy a lot of stuff for school there, for school projects and stuff at Rocks. I remember that store. But, you know, I could go and look at that explosion picture on Sixth Street over there at the, well, I think they have some at the library. But this lady over here at that barbeque pit?
PARKER: On the corner, she has a whole thing of a parade coming down Sixth01:07:00Street and it has a picture of Rocks, and all those old stores down there. And I, I was uh, surprised to see that because, you know, you don't see that too much today. But she has a whole lot of Black history over there. I mean history, not Black history. Just Texas City history.
MAYFIELD: Yeah, I hadn't, that's the first I've heard of Rock's being mentioned, so--
MAYFIELD: Was it an art supply store? Or--
MAYFIELD: --a stationery store?
PARKER: It was, it had art supplies, because they was a need, we would get stufffor school projects there. And it was called Rock's. R-o-c-k-s.
MAYFIELD: Well, you graduated in 1970--
MAYFIELD: 1961. But do you remember when they started talking about integratingschools? I mean, your sister's four years younger, no, two years younger. No, four. She's four years younger.
PARKER: No, yeah. She's four years younger. Yeah.
PARKER: I remember the integrating of schools, but then when they startedintegrating the schools and stuff, I--. When my sister started, I was at Texas 01:08:00Southern, I think. And I never did, --I wasn't into the movement that much. I mean, I think other people was, but I, I do remember the movement and everything. And I remember sit-ins and stuff like that. But that was, I wasn't participating in stuff like that.
MAYFIELD: Were there a lot of sit-ins in Texas City?
PARKER: They did at Agee's, I think. You remember Agee's?
MAYFIELD: Yeah. Mr. Henderson, probably. I've heard Mr. Henderson, JohnnieHenderson kind of--
PARKER: Yep. Johnnie Henderson and those older people like that--
PARKER: --yeah. Yeah. They had a sit-in at Agee's. And then Wei--, uh, uh,Weingarten's, you know, had a lunch counter, too, at Weingarten's.
MAYFIELD: And they had a sit-in there, as well?
PARKER: I remember that. But see, I, I don't think I was, uh--. I think I hadmoved on; you know. I don't know exactly how I went; I remember going through 01:09:00 things. And I remember when they had separate water fountains. I remember seeing that outside of different buildings and stuff as growing up. Say for instance, when I, --I remember going over to, like going to see my dad at the hospital. And they had different water fountains then. I remember that because I remember being with my dad over at the hospital in Galveston.
MAYFIELD: I see.
PARKER: Yeah. And I remember that part. I, I can remember things like that.
MAYFIELD: Because you didn't feel it in your community, right? But then, maybe,when you stepped out--
PARKER: Stepped out.
MAYFIELD: You might start--
PARKER: -- Yeah. Yeah.
MAYFIELD: You might see some of this--
PARKER: -- Yes.
MAYFIELD: --a little bit. Yeah.
PARKER: Yeah. Yeah.
MAYFIELD: Um, so, I mean, again, you're out of school and you're realizing thatthey are going to start this integration, did you have any thoughts about what was going to happen to Booker T. or like what, what it could be like integrating schools? Like, what were your thoughts on that?
PARKER: No. You know what? You know who can give you a good thought on that01:10:00would be my sister that went. Now, I heard, she and, uh, Dr. Dottie Jones, I don't know if you know her.
MAYFIELD: Dr. Dottie Jones, Mm-hmm.
PARKER: All those people, they was a year behind me. So, when my sister and herfriends, her classmates could tell you a whole lot about the integration that they, --because they experienced it. They went, they went through it. So, I had moved on. So, she remembers. And she, -- and I'm, --she asked me about this. I need to take her those papers. She's done cracked her ankle. So, she's on a boot now. She can't move. She needs to come and do this, too.
MAYFIELD: Yeah. Well, I'll have to talk to her. Yeah.
PARKER: Because it's anybody from the fifties to the seventies, right?
MAYFIELD: Uh, forties to the seventies.
PARKER: Okay, well she can tell you then.
PARKER: She could tell you about the integration and all.
PARKER: Because she was four years younger than I, but she, she integrated TexasCity High School.
MAYFIELD: Okay, she was one of the first students.
PARKER: Yes, ma'am.
MAYFIELD: Okay, the first year, that year, okay.
PARKER: She was there. And see, I went to an all-Black college, all-Blackeverything and that was just something that I, uh, I knew. But then after integration and all, everything just changed. But I never did go through a lot of uh --
MAYFIELD: And you graduated from college, correct?
PARKER: No, I didn't graduate.
MAYFIELD: You were there for two years --
PARKER: -- Two years, yes.
MAYFIELD: Um, uh, voting. I know that I was kind of curious, uh, what year didyou vote? Like, how old were you when you voted?
PARKER: I was trying to remember. I know I must have been age, --at, at leasttwenty-one and older because I had always been serious about voting. So, I've always believed in going to vote.
MAYFIELD: Do you remember where you voted for the first time?
PARKER: Old, old recreation in Texas City. I mean the Black recreation centerthey had over there. That's where we used to go vote.
MAYFIELD: Do you remember who you voted for?
PARKER: Oh, no. (Parker, Mayfield laugh) I just can't.
MAYFIELD: I thought I'd have to ask. You never know.
PARKER: Yeah, I understand that. But it is so, since, you know, after, uh, whathis name was? Ford and Kennedy. Uh, Ford and Kennedy, you know, I can go so far back, but then you know, after then, I can't remember all of those.
MAYFIELD: Mm-hmm. Do you remember who, who some of the important, um, AfricanAmerican leaders in your community were?
PARKER: Sure. Uh. You know, our preachers were always leaders. All of01:11:00the preachers in Texas City. Well, the only ones that I remember really good is F. M. Johnson. And uh, I didn't know too much about the, the original preacher from Barbour's, Rev. Scott. But our teachers were leaders. I, I always did, like with teachers. And then our, --we had like, --I would, I belonged to the NAACP as a, a youngster. I believe, we, we had it, we had, --they had a chapter here.
MAYFIELD: Where was the chapter located?
PARKER: And I'm trying to remember where it was located because I was themember. I'm, I'm still a member of the NAACP, but the last one was uh, person, that I remember, the president, was Dottie Jones. But I can't, --I'm trying to remember how I became a member of the, --I've been trying 01:12:00to think about that. And who, how I got affiliated. I don't know if I was doing, if I did it during the high school, because we would have, uh, different organizations and stuff like that. And uh, I know I joined the N sub, NAACP.
MAYFIELD: How old were you when you joined? Do you remember?
PARKER: I don't remember that.
MAYFIELD: Hmm, hmm. Not sure if you were in high school or out of high school?
PARKER: I was in high school, though.
MAYFIELD: You were in high school, okay.
MAYFIELD: Um, do you, like, have any thoughts about the, how women played a rolein the movement?
PARKER: No, I don't. I just remember, uh, mostly, hmmm, like uh, I01:13:00remember, Barbara Jordan in Houston. And I remember, I, --you know, I was very supportive of her. And I just remember different things that she taught and that I would pick up on her. But, uh, the other, we didn't have a lot women leaders back then.
MAYFIELD: Not in Texas City?
MAYFIELD: Or even in general?
PARKER: No. The only somebody I could say, what we knew of as leaders, was our,uh, women schoolteachers, now.
MAYFIELD: Oh, okay.
PARKER: Mrs., like, Ethel B. Vincent and Lily Belle. They would tell us things.We knew what to do, you know. And, you know, they would tell us different things, so, I remember them being leaders, like that. And especially, our teachers. Mrs. Ora Lee Carter. She would, you know, they schooled us on different things like that. We always knew what was going on.
MAYFIELD: Um, I mean, so, you know, schools played a role, and then, you'retalking about your reverend and ministers played a role.
PARKER: Yeah, the churches always played a role in our life.01:14:00
MAYFIELD: I'm kind of curious of how much of a, of a role the churches played.
PARKER: Well, they played a big role because, uh, a lot of times, when you haveissues and stuff like that, the preachers would talk about it.
MAYFIELD: During their sermons?
PARKER: No, no. After sermon.
PARKER: They would tell us to go vote. And you know, how people used to come inand ask you to vote for them and that? Well, a lot of them would come in and visit the churches and say, "vote for me" and pass out pamphlets and stuff like that. I remember all of that. But --I all, --the only thing I remember that they made sure that you vote. So, that was number one.
PARKER: Make sure you vote.
MAYFIELD: Other than the NAACP, did you belong to any other groups as an adult?Or as a, as a young adult, I guess?
PARKER: I'm trying to think. We had a group (laughs) as a young adult. Well, Ialways a big, I was always a member of the Booker T. Washington Exes Association. I have, I, I was one of the originals that helped brought that to be. And then we had the, um, I belonged to a lot of groups just like, I always participate, like I was, uh, in my choir at church. And we had different things. The mission. I belonged, --I was uh, WMU. I, I worked with the missions.
MAYFIELD: WMU? (Ed. Note: Women's Missionary Union)
MAYFIELD: Oh, yeah, the, like a women's guild, right?
MAYFIELD: That worked with the mission? Okay.
PARKER: Yes. I'm a member of that and I'm a Heroine of Jericho.
MAYFIELD: What is that?
PARKER: You know, they have these organizations, it's like uh, the men's. Thewomen, uh --. We have the Eastern Stars--
MAYFIELD: Oh, Eastern Star. Yep.
PARKER: And I'm a Heroine.
MAYFIELD: You're a Heroine.
PARKER: Yeah. Heroine of Jericho.
MAYFIELD: What does that mean?
PARKER: Heroines of Jericho? It's just an organization of a, a spiritualorganization. And we do, like, all our members and stuff, we have, uh, we have your secret codes and stuff like that. Just like the men's.
PARKER: Uh, Masons!
MAYFIELD: Like the Masons?
PARKER: Yeah, we're affiliated with the Masons.
MAYFIELD: So, is this separate from Eastern Star? Is it similar to Eastern Star?
PARKER: It's all, we're all under that chapter. Eastern Star,Heroines of Jericho, and the Masons.
PARKER: So, yes. Now, John Humphrey is over the whole, --he's our leader overthe --he's over, I think he's over the, uh, men's Masons and stuff. But we have so many different organizations and that's a big organization there. The Masons.
PARKER: And the Heroines.
MAYFIELD: How long have you been a Heroine?
PARKER: Oh, about twenty years. I'm a Heroines of Jericho chapter 262. (Ed.Note: Referring to several years with the Heroines of Jericho, not twenty)
MAYFIELD: And, and, um, what kind of things do you do, if you can share aboutthe Heroines of Jericho?
PARKER: Well, the thing, right now, I'm not as active because--
MAYFIELD: When you were active.
PARKER: Okay. Well, we would have, they have conventions and stuff like thatthat you, you go to. It's kind of expensive. I never went to a convention or stuff. But we had the other ladies that's up in offices and things that do that. And they take the money. We have a treasurer. So, I'm, I just pay 01:15:00my dues every year. And I do go to meetings. Now, I was in a Zoom meeting about a month ago when they had it because I've been out of touch for like before, after COVID because we have of these different uniforms and signs we have to do and stuff like that. Well, I'd been out, but the matrons, they make sure they keep up with all members. So, I--
PARKER: --I kind of keep up, the matrons keep up with us and stuff like that.But I haven't been an active member in the last three years because I was sick, and I just don't go out to meetings at night. I don't drive at night. So, most of their meetings is at night and stuff like that. But I'm what you call one of the elderly members that they keep up with.
MAYFIELD: Oh, okay, okay.
MAYFIELD: So, we're kind of at the end of our interview. It went by kind of fast.
PARKER: Yeah. (Mayfield laughs) It's good.
MAYFIELD: Um, so, in that thought, is there anything else that you would like toshare that we haven't really talked about or touched upon? 01:16:00
PARKER: Let me go through this paper here because I wrote a lot of stuff inhere. I'm just going to run through here and see some persons that you asked me, and I shared because a lot of things I might even forgot about. (Shuffles paper)
PARKER: I see uh, on here, I see I put down school activities and church, mostof the things that we did growing up. And I got Bible education. We talked about everything I put down; I wrote about. (laughs) I could remember about the uh, well, the UTMB was the only hospital that I knew about. Yeah, that's about it.
PARKER: But, you know, all of the families back in them days was very close-knitfamilies. It's all right. You know, I can remember that. We knew all the families knew each other, and they would see about each other, you know.
PARKER: I remember that, as growing up. And I remember anybody in theneighborhood could spank you.
PARKER: (laughs) Now, that would be a lawsuit.
MAYFIELD: You never forgot that.
PARKER: No, I never will forget that. You'd be, you were on your best behaviorat all times. You know, I could, -it's just so weird because I, I, I'd be sitting out sometimes, and I could--. And the young people now-a-days don't have respect for no one. No one. It's just a different world to me because, you, they can be saying some ugly words and cussing and, and they look at you just like you don't mean nothing. And it's no way, and I always remember we was always 01:17:00taught, Mister, Missus. You do not, you respect your elders all the time. That's something we'd been taught. But now, I look at the young people and they're lost. It's a lost world. They don't respect nobody.
MAYFIELD: Well, it's, it's a--
PARKER: Sometimes, I say look, it's just like the education, they've missed a lot.
MAYFIELD: Well, it was a good community that you, you grew up in.
PARKER: And we was taught, and we had a lot of, --children don't have the commonsense now-a-days, you know; you just, they don't have it. And I'm just surprised at how things are now-a-days. It really shocks me.
MAYFIELD: It's like a different world.
PARKER: It is a different world for me.
MAYFIELD: Hmm, hmm.
PARKER: It really is. What I was taught and brought up and know what I believed.It's just a lot of things.
MAYFIELD: Well, then I guess we can say that this concludes our interview withMiss Mary Parker.
MAYFIELD: Thank you so much for sharing your stories and being part of theAfrican American Experience Oral History Project.
MAYFIELD: Yeah. Thank you so much.