BETSY BRINSON: This is an interview with the Reverend David Pettie. Theinterview takes place at his home in Sturgis, Kentucky, and the interviewer is Betsy Brinson. And Reverend Pettie, would you give me your full name and your, your birth date so I could get a voice level?
REVEREND DAVID PETTIE: Uh, David Washington Pettie.
BRINSON: And, when and where were you born?
PETTIE: I was born in Hopkins County. October 9, 1925.
BRINSON: Let's try that again. Give me your name and see if it's any betterwithout the background noise, please.
PETTIE: Okay. My name is David Washington Pettie.
BRINSON: Okay. Well thank you, Reverend Pettie, for agreeing to talk with metoday. Um, I want to ask you some questions about you and your family background, first, and then I want to, um, to move to the whole, ah, situation 1:00around your daughters who attended Sturgis High School and what not. Um, let me start by asking you what you know about your ancestors?
PETTIE: I don't know too much about my ancestors. Uh. I can tell you a littlebit about my daddy's mother and his father.
PETTIE: My daddy's Daddy was a Cherokee Indian, full-blooded. His mother was,ah, Chicava and Negro. And, ah, my mother's mother was a full-blooded Black Indian. And her daddy was part Indian and Negro. Because I've been labeled to 2:00be a black man but I haven't found out where I fit in yet.
BRINSON: Okay. Were any of them living here in Kentucky?
PETTIE: My family originated in Clarksville, Tennessee. And, ah, they came toKentucky back before I was ever thought of, I guess. Because I don't know nobody but my mother's mother, and she, was just about ready to die when I remember her, I was four years old.
BRINSON: So you were born in Kentucky?
PETTIE: I was born in Kentucky.
PETTIE: In Hopkins County. Earlington, Kentucky.
BRINSON: Is that, um. Okay and, how was--how did your family while you weregrowing up, who was in your family? Your most immediate family, when you were 3:00growing up?
PETTIE: In my family? In my remembrance it was--four of us, two boys and twogirls, my mother and my father.
BRINSON: And where did you come in the children? Were you the oldest, the youngest?
PETTIE: I was the baby.
BRINSON: You were the baby, okay. Okay. Um, how did your family make theirliving while you grew up?
PETTIE: My daddy was a coal miner. My mother was a homemaker.
BRINSON: Okay. And was that--was your father a coal miner in Hopkins?
PETTIE: In Hopkins County. He started to--before my time, he start to coalmine in Muhlenberg County. And as the mines abandoned, well, he--going into Hopkins County. And when, ah, the mines he was working in there--they came to mechanize where he was transferred to Union County. And, ah, so I come to Union 4:00County with my father. I was in my--would have been my senior year of high school but I didn't make it, I finished my junior year.
BRINSON: And did you go to work in the mines when you came here to Union County?
PETTIE: Yes. For the simple reason I could get a--an education in UnionCounty, ah, in the black schools in Union County--what they were giving the black people for their twelfth grade education I had had in the tenth grade at the school where I attended, in Hopkins County; which was J. W. Million High School.
BRINSON: J. W.?
BRINSON: How do you spell that?
BRINSON: Okay. Okay.
PETTIE: And when I left J. W. --I didn't need but two units then. At thetime, you graduated with sixteen units. And I didn't need but two units to graduate and I couldn't get them in Union County.
BRINSON: So this would have been about what year that you?5:00
PETTIE: Nineteen forty-two.
BRINSON: Forty-two, okay. Okay. And there was a war going on.
BRINSON: And, um, how did that affect work in the coal mines? Did we?
PETTIE: I don't understand what you mean.
BRINSON: Well, I'm not asking it very well, I'm just thinking out loud here.With the war, did we use as a country more coal than we'd ever used before, or less?
BRINSON: We used more. Okay. So, that meant the mines were really working hardto produce the coal?
BRINSON: Okay. Um, how did you meet your wife?
PETTIE: This is my second wife.
PETTIE: She was my friend. We were buddies. We were neighbors. Nothing else.And, uh, after me and my first wife separated, well, she and I we were still 6:00friends. Nothing else. So, we run around together, you know. Until I guess--an explosion happened, I guess.
BRINSON: How about your first wife?
PETTIE: My first wife was, was a schoolmate of mine.
BRINSON: In Tennessee?
PETTIE: In Kentucky, in Hopkins County.
PETTIE: And we went to school, ride together, but she was a, older than I. Andshe graduated before I did.
BRINSON: Now, ah, I know you have two daughters.
BRINSON: Which--which is their mother?
PETTIE: All my children are by my first wife.
BRINSON: By your first wife. Okay.
BRINSON: Um, tell me about your daughters. Tell me about all your children.
PETTIE: Well, my first child was my, was my oldest daughter. Mary.7:00
BRINSON: Mary. Mm-hmm. Is she still living?
PETTIE: She lives in Fort Wayne, Indiana with her mother.
BRINSON: Okay. And your other children?
PETTIE: My second child is my daughter. And she lives in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
BRINSON: And what is her name?
PETTIE: Joyce Ann.
BRINSON: Okay. Your third?
PETTIE: My oldest son is David Junior. He lives in Fort Wayne.
PETTIE: And, ah, the two between him and my baby boy, they are deceased. Ihave two boys dead. Uh, but my baby boy's name is Twyman Keith.
BRINSON: And where does he live?8:00
PETTIE: Fort Wayne, Indiana.
BRINSON: Mm, okay. How far is that from here?
PETTIE: Three hundred forty-three miles.
BRINSON: Sounds like you know it.
PETTIE: I do!
BRINSON: Okay. Um, what happened to your deceased sons?
PETTIE: Well, the first one, he got to running with--in bad company. And, ah,I went to Fort Wayne to get him to bring him home with me. And he told me he'd be home, but he had some business to straighten out. I don't know what business he had, because he didn't have no job.
BRINSON: Mm-hmm. He was how old?
PETTIE: Ah, what now? He got killed in, ah fifty-three, I think it was.Fifty-three. He was, he was. He got killed in a gang killing; he was shot. And 9:00the one that done the shooting, he was, well--found him in an empty box; he was dead when he was found. And my boy next to him that, that died--he died with the cancer. Of the pancreas. Pancreatic cancer.
BRINSON: As an adult? He was an adult when he died?
BRINSON: Well, I'm sorry for you. I've lost a son, too.
BRINSON: He was thirty years old.
BRINSON: How, how did you, ah, come to be a minister?
PETTIE: God called me to be a minister. That's the only way you can, become aminister. And God calls you, then you go. But I didn't go when he called me, I run. But I took a whuping for it when I did. But I wouldn't take nothing for my journey now. But I didn't want to preach.
BRINSON: And you, you have preached at a church, in the area, or?10:00
PETTIE: I'm --I minister, I do preaching--since 1986. The fourth Sunday inDecember was my first sermon. 1986. And I've been going ever since. And I'm not going quit.
BRINSON: And do you at--at churches in the Sturgis area?
PETTIE: I preach anywhere I'm called to go. When I'm an Assistant Pastor at myhome church. I'm a member of New Salem Baptist Church here.
BRINSON: Here, in Sturgis?
PETTIE: In Sturgis.
BRINSON: Okay, okay. Um, I want to ask you why you wanted to send yourchildren to Sturgis High School?
PETTIE: Well--tell you, I was in the PTA here. The supposed-to-have-been Blackschool was in Morganfield. All the kids from Sturgis had to go to Morganfield. So-- we as a group, we decided we'd meet the Board of Education and ask for a 11:00new plant in Morganfield, for the kids. Not an integrated school, we just wanted a new school for our children. And when I'm talking about a new school, I mean a complete school. With what it would take for them when they'd walk out in society to make it. And they weren't getting it over there. And, ah, when we met with the Superintendent, his name was Mr. Oakum. And, ah, told him what we wanted. He said, "Well, ya'll might as well to go home, and be satisfied." And I said, "No, we can't be satisfied, because I know the money's been allocated for the upgrading of the school." I said, "This I know." I said, "I 12:00done got the word from Atlanta, Georgia, as where all ya'll's money comes from. Ya'll don't think we know it, but we do." And I said, "Ah, and I want something definite." He said, "Well, we are getting ready to integrate the high school. All the schools in Union County are going to be integrated. So ya'll might as well to get ready. Because ya'll going to have to be ready." I said, "Now, wait a minute." I said, "Now, if I invite you home to my house for dinner," I said, "and you accept my invitation," I said, "I'm going to have dinner prepared when you get there. I'm not going to wait for you to come to prepare it. I'd have the meat prepared for you when you get there. And that's what I'm telling ya'll. Don't ya'll tell it for us to be ready," I said, "Ya'll be ready. When 13:00we get there." I said, "Because when the law says 'come,' I said, "We'll be there." He said, "Well, we won't have no problem." I said, "Well, won't be no problem on our part." I said, "When we say we need the plant, and you say we're going to be integrated; going to be a centralized school," I said, that'd be well and good." I said, "But you know what I'm talking about when I'm telling ya'll all to be ready." He said, "Well, in a sense of speaking I do." He said, "You tell me what you're talking about." I said, "We're not talking about children, we're talking about the school." "And", I said, "That goes for teachers and all." I said, "Are ya'll going be ready, Black and White." "Well, we'll have time to prepare ourselves." "Well," I said, "That's alright. If that's what you want to do. We'll accept that." I said, "But not on your terms, now. You'll accept that according to the law. But, when the time come, 14:00and in sixty-three or sixty-four.
PETTIE: Yeah, I mean--that's when the school was open. And it was infifty-six, when they integrated the schools that were there. But, ah, the law had never been really established in fifty-six, when they said, you know. And the law and everything really wasn't affirmed until fifty-seven. And that's when I had to come into the picture. Because I wanted my children to get their education. And that's when we met up-set.
BRINSON: Now the first year that the students.
PETTIE: That's when the troops came.
BRINSON: Right, now, that was 1956.15:00
PETTIE: That was in fifty-six.
BRINSON: And you were involved at that point.
PETTIE: That's right. I was involved.
BRINSON: Okay. And which of your children?
PETTIE: My oldest daughter.
BRINSON: Okay. She would've been about how old at that time?
PETTIE: This was her -- she was thirteen.
BRINSON: And, tell me about taking her to school.
PETTIE: Well, now, you know you can't do nothing when it don't leak out tosomebody, you know. Well the people here was opposed to the black kids coming to school. So they had had a meeting and they were going meet at the school and turn the black kids away. So we got the message that they were going to do it--going to be trouble up there. So, I didn't want no trouble. You know. I 16:00wasn't raised like that. I was raised like a. I was raised this. With white kids. And, so we never had no problems. You know, racially problems, you know. Oh, we'd have fistfights, you know, neighborhood fights, you know, that didn't amount to nothing. But, ah, so we decided that we'd have a meeting right down the street here. And, ah, they asked me what was I going do? I said, "Well, they say the school's going to be open, so I'm going to carry my kids to school." Well, there were quite an, of people in this town who'd always be dogged down. Black people.
BRINSON: Dogged down.?
PETTIE: Mm-hmm, yeah. And so--they said, "You mean you're going up there?" Isaid, "If the Lord will spare me I'm going." He said, "You're going by yourself?" I said, "Outside of me and Mary, anybody else can go if they want to 17:00go," I said, "But I'm going." And, so, it was one lady, she got in the car, I said, "Now, I'm going to take you with me, you're welcome to go, I say, but I'm not going to run." I said, "I didn't go to run." I said, "They might have to pack me away, but I'm not going to run." I said, "But when the smoke clear, somebody's going to be laying there to account for me, too." She said, "Well, I say, you go down, I'll go with you." I said, "That's all that we want you to know. I'm not going to run." So, we got in line, went out, got outside the school, they were lined up on both sides of the street, just jeering and hollering. Obscene and names and all that. And, ah, when we got to the school, it was--one man, that I worked with, at that time--now previous to that time, I 18:00used to have to fill out his report. He was my boss, but he couldn't write; but I filled his report out for him in the mines, so when he'd come out he'd have a report. Because he didn't want the mine owner to know that he couldn't read or write. And he was the first one I run up on!
BRINSON: He was there with his?
PETTIE: He was there, with the others. He said, well.
BRINSON: What--can you--I want to ask you some names here. Like, you rememberthe name of the woman who went with you?
PETTIE: Yes, she's dead now, Mary Ethel Morris.
BRINSON: Ethel Morris?
PETTIE: That's right.
BRINSON: And how about the name of the man in the mine?
PETTIE: He's dead, too, his name was Clarence Powell.
BRINSON: Clarence Powell?
PETTIE: That's right.
BRINSON: I'm--I'm spelling the names because the transcriber who is going totype this all up.
PETTIE: Oh, I don't--I don't care nobody knowing who did what.
BRINSON: Right, okay.
PETTIE: And I'd call the name with him sitting right here with us. It don't19:00make, you know, a difference. And, uh, another fella standing there. Said, "What you doing up here David P, what you coming up here for?" And my exact words, I said, "I come to die, what did you come for?" And the state trooper, he's retired now, he said, "Ah, Pettie," say, "You move on." I said, "I'm going to move on," I said, "But you tell them that I'm bringing my child to school. Now if they have a quarrel, to pick on me, please don't touch my child, because somebody going die." He said, "Oh, it ain't going to be nothing like that, just move on." So I moved on. Carried her on to school. And I stand right up there a while, and I left. But when time come for them be dismissed, I was back up 20:00there. And I got my daughter. And we, ah, we, ah -- some of the meeting citizens here; we had a meeting, and we decided that, we were to, call, ah, Frankfort. Call the government. And, ah, call in and Happy Chandler was the Governor at the time. We called Happy Chandler. And, ah--I'm not going to say who called him. But, it wasn't no black person that called him. And, uh. But he was in the meeting with us. And he called Happy Chandler, and Happy Chandler said, "Well, in the morning, I'll have ample protection in Sturgis, because the man said there'd probably be a lot of bloodshed here and, ah. See, we weren't 21:00running, we didn't back up. If we had a run, it probably would have been, but we didn't run.
BRINSON: Mm-hmm. Why wouldn't you want to tell me the name of the man who called?
PETTIE: Who called, ah?
BRINSON: Who called the governor.
PETTIE: Ah, he was, ah -- he was the mayor at the time, I'll tell you that.
PETTIE: And, ah, -- and so, uh that next morning, to everybody's surprise, theNational Guard was at Sturgis. Rolling. Nobody know where they came from, or who sent for them. And that's why.
BRINSON: Were you surprised, that they were here, too?
PETTIE: Ahh-ha. Well, he said they'd be here. No, I wasn't surprised. Butthe people that weren't in the meeting were surprised. They were surprised. And the National Guard was in town, and they had order there, till, ah, they had 22:00a meeting, in Washington, D.C. On, ah, law, Civil Rights law, which had, hadn't been passed, fully, in the state of Kentucky. And so that come down, and so we had to withdraw. But after the year of fifty-six and fifty-seven, ah, the fifty-seven-fifty-eight school year, it was the same thing. But not like it was in fifty-six. But we did have problems.
BRINSON: I understand that, the students actually, the first year, went toschool for almost two weeks.
PETTIE: They did.
BRINSON: Before you had to withdraw.
BRINSON: And then they were told they would have to go back to Duncan for the year.
BRINSON: Dunbar. And that, ah, there was actually, for a week, some of the23:00black students boycotted going back to the black school. Do you remember any of that at all, or?
PETTIE: Yes, my daughter was in the bunch.
BRINSON: Okay. And?
PETTIE: And I didn't make her. I said, "That decision's yours."
PETTIE: I said, "Whatever decision you make, Daddy will stand with you."
BRINSON: Okay. And can you tell me, if you remember, why they decided toboycott the black school?
PETTIE: Well, really--ah--we didn't have--we didn't have the kind of backingthat we, was expected, from the black people. The black people were afraid, you understand. See, now, when I come here, you saw, ah, black men cutting yards, down on their knees, pulling weeds out of flowers, and things like that. 24:00And, ah, women folks, some of them I saw, on ladders, that was ah--I didn't like the image when I first come to Sturgis. It was a bad image. And, ah, 'course--where I was raised up, well, I was raised up to recognize my elders regardless of the color of their skin. I don't care what color you are, I was taught to recognize you. And to respect you. And I didn't have no problem with that. But to seeing the way they were doing, and, ah, I hadn't been used to that. And I didn't accept that. Because I hadn't been used to it. And so when this come about, and, ah -- well, then they started to leaving the yards, and 25:00the windows, and going to the army base, ah.
PETTIE: Breckinridge Army Base.
BRINSON: Camp, Is it Camp Breckinridge?
PETTIE: Yeah, Camp Breckinridge. We started going outdoors, they were youngenough to get jobs, they started to going getting jobs. And, ah, that kind of brought a hardship on some of them, because they didn't know how to do nothing; and the black help, and the black yard-man had left them. And so, ah--but they--that just increased my enemy for a while. Everyone in Sturgis hated me.
BRINSON: Both black and white, huh?
PETTIE: Everybody's dead. But.
BRINSON: Tell me, at the point that you and your father were working in themines; how many other blacks were working in the mines? 26:00
PETTIE: Dunham was the first mine we went into, a lot of blacks were there.
BRINSON: There were a lot of blacks.
PETTIE: Mm-hmm. But see, the mines hadn't gotten fully mechanized at the time,they were just about to revert from a strong back and a weak mind to machinery. And, ah, well the mine we went to, it was fully mechanized. And so as time moved on and the mechanization increased in the coal field, well that pushed the black man back further, finally pushed him just about all the way out. But still were a few there, but not as many as it was. It used to be when I went into--first went into the mine, I went into a, a mule mine where I didn't stay but two weeks. Ah, the only white man you saw underground was the mine foreman, and, the entry foreman, and ah, the man that rode the rope that's pulling the 27:00coal there. All the rest of them under there were black men. You didn't see no more because they didn't want that kind of work. See?
BRINSON: Mm-hmm. I see your hat--that you are a member of the United MineWorkers and there's a Local here.
PETTIE: Seventeen ninety-three.
BRINSON: At what point did, did the Union become active here?
PETTIE: I started packing a Union card in, ah 1944. I was nine years, nineteenyears old when I started packing a Union card, when I joined the Union.
BRINSON: Did most people join the Union?
BRINSON: No. I'm going to turn the tape over here.
BRINSON: Okay, I got you off track a little bit.
BRINSON: But I was interested in knowing that. So, so, as I understand, um,that there were black people in the community who did not, not support the students who went to Sturgis High School.
PETTIE: They didn't. And they didn't support the Union either.
BRINSON: Right, okay. Um, let me--let me ask you about the demonstrators, thewhite demonstrators. Um. Where did they come from?
PETTIE: Now that part I can't answer. I saw people up there that I'd nevereven seen before. I saw people up there the only time I'd seen in the back of a western, in the movie. I saw women up there with black stockings on. And I had never seen a woman around here wearing black, you know what I'm talking about? Black stockings, you know, with the garters and things on? And they were up there, some of them had aprons on and bonnets, and I had, but I don't know where 29:00they come from.
BRINSON: Hmm. Okay. But there were a lot of them?
PETTIE: Oh, yeah. It was plenty of them.
BRINSON: Okay. Tell me, um, what you remember about the demonstration at nightin the park, which is, just what--about a block from you.
PETTIE: Right down there.
PETTIE: Oh, they had a big demonstration down there. And with what they wascalling the White Citizen's Council. And, ah, I think the head of that was W. W. Waller. I think he was the head of that. And, they had a big demonstration down there. And a lot of people--I didn't live out here then, I lived on the West Side of town. And, ah, in a community called Lemoyne County. But I did come out here, to see what was going on. And a lot of people here was at their 30:00house with all their lights out and their doors locked. And, ah, they had a big meeting out there. And, ah, he was telling about the, his hair, our hair, and their hair. Now their hair is straight hair, their hair is kinky hair; all that kind of--that's the kind of stuff. He wasn't doing nothing but screaming out loud a lot of propaganda. But still, didn't nobody run. See, and he was doing that to get up money to build a private school, down in rural Simmons, a community on down on a hundred and nine. And when they got the school building, what money. They said that he took it. I don't know whether he did or not. I know the school didn't last. And, so, I don't know.
BRINSON: This, so, W. W. Waller was from here?31:00
PETTIE: Yeah, he's from the Morganfield area.
BRINSON: Okay. How did he make his living?
PETTIE: He was, ah, car, he was on the Mason-Waller Motor Company, at the time,in Morganfield.
BRINSON: Okay. At the, um, over at the park did they burn a cross?
PETTIE: If they, they said that a cross was burnt, but I can't say because Ididn't see it. But I did stay there until there till the--I stayed right down at that road down there--until the meeting broke up, and they started to leaving. If the cross was lighted, it was lighted after I left and most of the people had left. Now it could have been, and I'm not saying yea or nay; but I can say truthfully that I didn't see it.
BRINSON: And did any of them wear hoods?
PETTIE: I didn't see no hoods.
BRINSON: Okay. Okay. Um. I--I find it interesting that you were right there32:00on the edge of the crowd.
PETTIE: I was right there.
BRINSON: Were they--were you not fearful that they might come at you, or?
PETTIE: Well, I was hoping that they wouldn't, and they didn't, because if theydid, I was going to hurt somebody or somebody was going to hurt me. But some of them spoke to me and I spoke to them back.
BRINSON: Hmm, what did they say?
PETTIE: They said, "Hello, Pettie. How you like it?" I said, "Well, I don'tthink it's good for the soul, do you?" He said, "No, I'm just going to go in here and see what's going on."
BRINSON: So, you knew some of them, they were local people. Some of them.
PETTIE: Yeah. But the hell-raisers was in there around that stand that theyhad built in there for them. Well, a lot of people come out there out of curiosity. You know. Everybody here, they weren't idiots, you know. But you had quite a few. 33:00
BRINSON: So they built a stand there, for?
PETTIE: For the speakers to speak on.
BRINSON: Okay. Um. Hmm. We'll stop.
BRINSON: Did, did you or others receive any threatening phone calls?
PETTIE: Yes I did. Plenty of them.
BRINSON: Can you tell me about that?
PETTIE: Well, I received phone calls at the--so many of them that, ah -- myphone calls had go 'round through the FBI office in Owensboro to get to me. I could call out, but you couldn't call in unless your calls were monitored.
BRINSON: Did you call the FBI and ask them to monitor--or how did you know thatthey were?
PETTIE: I was called and told that my calls were monitored. Now, who done it,34:00I don't know. But some interesting person done it. It's somebody I've always admired, but I don't know who that somebody is. But it was done.
BRINSON: So it was okay with you that the FBI monitored?
PETTIE: Yes, I didn't have no secrets.
BRINSON: Okay. Okay. Um, the--the people who threatened you on the phone,though, what kinds of things did they threaten you with?
PETTIE: The only thing that most of us are born with are taught athome--"Nigger," you know. "Black SOB," and all that.
BRINSON: Okay. Were, were you every concerned that you might lose your job?
PETTIE: No. No, I wasn't. Because this--the superintendent at the time--hehasn't been too long passed on--ah, he'd known me all my life. And at the time I was working for T&M Coal Company. I was working over in western Kentucky in 35:00then. And, ah, he called me one day, and, ah, he said, "David," I said, "Yes sir." He said, "They tell me you're involved with the, with the Movement." I said, "What movement?" He said, "The Civil Rights Movement." He said, "You know what I'm talking about." I say, "I don't know what you talking about till you tell me." He said, "You in here with this, ah integration thing." I said, "That's right, Mr. Quirey," I said, "I am, because I got children going to school." I said, "You know, I was raised up at your church, and we didn't go to the same school, but we had the same school. You know. In Hopkins County. The old schoolhouse on the other school's land. Only thing we had, we had Latin that they didn't have. And that's one reason my head is white now; I started turning grey at sixteen years old." And, ah, that's the only difference was. And, ah, 36:00he said, "Well," he said, "I had some complaints, about it, but don't you worry about it." He said, ah, "Just don't get hurt." I said, "I'm not going to get hurt, Mr. Quirey," I said, "But you don't think I'm going stand up and let somebody hurt me?" He said, "No, I'm not talking about that." He said, "You said I've been knowing you all your life," he said, "I know your daddy, too." And he said, "Don't you get hurt." I said, "I'm not going to get hurt."
BRINSON: Tell me his name again. He--he was the superintendent of the mine?
BRINSON: Quirey. How do you spell that?
BRINSON: Okay. Thank you.
PETTIE: And, ah, and so I didn't worry about my job. But, everything, everytime--I've always been a man that believes in education. And, ah, I always 37:00thought that was part of having to cheat me out of my education. And, so, ah, every time I--my high school grades would come up, he would call me. And said, ah, "There's a class going to start in Madisonville." And said, ah, "I want you to go." I said, "I'll go." And I did go. I went for, sixteen weeks. In Madisonville, up at the Bureau of Mine Office. I went there for sixteen weeks.
BRINSON: How far is Madisonville from here?
PETTIE: It's forty-two miles from here. And I went in the sleet, rain,everything. And, ah, I went there and I made my mine foreman papers. 38:00
BRINSON: And you made?
PETTIE: My foreman papers. And I--no, I made my fire-boss papers there.
BRINSON: Okay. Spell that for me. Because you're talking mine-terminologynow, and I don't know that.
PETTIE: That, that makes me a certified miner. If you're going to any mines,in the state of Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, or Tennessee; I'm qualified to go there and take any kind of job that's offered, you know, underground. And I didn't take surface mine papers. I made underground mine papers. And I made fire-boss papers. And I.
BRINSON: Fire? Fire-boss?
PETTIE: Yes, that's a--we called a fire-boss, a--that's the man that goes andlooks for hazards in the mines before anybody else go in.
BRINSON: Okay, is it F.
PETTIE: But it's mine examiner, what it is.39:00
BRINSON: Mine examiner. But you call it a "fire boss?"
PETTIE: That's right.
BRINSON: Like F-I-R-E?
PETTIE: That's right.
PETTIE: And so I made those.
BRINSON: Thank you, you're giving me a real lesson here.
PETTIE: I worked down there under Mr. Quirey there until the mines abandoned,and then I went to--the Peabody Coal Company out of the--the leadership of Adolph Williams. And he was my mine manager. And when it went another mine passed and, ah, Madisonville, he said, "I want you to go" the man said, "I want you to make your mine foreman papers, because one of the these days you might have to take my place, you know." Me and him was real good friends, he was real good. And I went, ah, to school again. In Madisonville. And I, I made my first class mine foreman papers. And, ah, then after that, they wanted a, EMT. 40:00
PETTIE: EMT. And he told me to go out for that.
BRINSON: And that--I know that as Emergency Med.
PETTIE: Emergency Medical Technician.
PETTIE: That's right. Sixty of us started, twenty of us took the exam, ten ofus passed. And I was in that ten.
BRINSON: So education is important?
PETTIE: And I was the first black certified EMT in Union County.
PETTIE: And I, and I still got the best set of mine papers that's ever beenissued to that complex out there.
PETTIE: That's right.
PETTIE: I hold that certificate right now.
BRINSON: So, education was real important to you.
PETTIE: And it still is.41:00
BRINSON: Still is. Okay. Let me go back to Mary. Um, when she went back to theblack school. Um, how, how did she find that experience for her?
PETTIE: Well when she first went back, ah, she already had a sister and abrother over there, you know. When she first went back, oh, they tried to give her a hard time, at first, I told her, I said, "Don't you pay them no attention. You're going to learn, not to act a fool." And I said, "You can't be learning unless there's somebody there to teach you." And I said, "Whatever they teach you, you, I want you to learn." I said, "What you don't know, you come see Daddy. And we'll sit down and do it together." And so, that's. 42:00
BRINSON: So, then she decided that she would go back the next year?
BRINSON: To Sturgis High School. And there were a few more students that year,I think there.
BRINSON: There were seventeen.
BRINSON: Um, and how was that experience for her?
PETTIE: It wasn't like the first time. But it was bad enough, you know, anytime anybody, interfere with you doing anything worthwhile, and, ah, you know what their purpose is for doing it, it's to stop you, it don't make you feel good.
BRINSON: Mm-hmm. How did Mary find the teachers, at Sturgis High School?
PETTIE: It's just some of them were alright, some of them weren't. Now, uh, Ihad one lady up there, I had to go up and talk to her. Her name was Sue Betts. 43:00
BRINSON: How do you spell that last name?
PETTIE: S-U-E- B-E-T-T-S.
BRINSON: Betts, okay.
PETTIE: Sue Betts. She was, ah, elementary school teacher. And my boys was upthere, and, ah, it was started raining' before the bus got there. And, ah, instead of her letting them back into the lobby of the school out of the rain, she locked the door.
BRINSON: Now this was at--at Sturgis?
PETTIE: Sturgis Elementary School.
BRINSON: Elementary school. Okay. So this was after?
BRINSON: All of the schools were integrated.
PETTIE: Yeah. So when he come home he was soaking' wet. And I asked him whathis problem was. He said, "Miss Betts locked us out." I said, "What you mean she locked you out?" He said, "We were standing out there waiting on our bus when it started to rain, we started running back to the school, and she locked the door." I said, "Did ya'll see her lock the door?" He said, "Yes, Daddy," said, "We saw her when she locked the door." And so I had to go up there and, and talk to her. And tell her, "I'd bought him his clothes and she didn't. And 44:00I had to have his clothes cleaned and pressed and she didn't do that". And I said, "Now I don't want to come back up here and talk to you no more, about a situation like this. I'm nothing but tan to you, but don't forget you're a lady. And I'm going to treat you like you're a lady." And that's what I told her and I meant that. She said, "Well, Red, I didn't see them." I said, "Uh-uh, you can't tell me that." I said, "Because they were right out there, and they saw you when you locked the door."
BRINSON: Now you said with Mary there were some good teachers and somenot-so-good teachers.
BRINSON: Are there any specific examples that you remember there?
PETTIE: Yes, I remember one time, ah, Roy Hina, he turned out to be a prettygood teacher--he was a math teacher.
BRINSON: What was it, Roy?
PETTIE: Roy Hina.
BRINSON: Hina? How do you spell?45:00
PETTIE: And, ah. He gave them three problems one day. It was Mary, Jane LindaHowell, Velma Brown, and, ah, no, it was just those three was in the same class. And he gave them these three problems. To bring into school the next day. Said, "Don't worry about them being in the books, because you ain't going to find them." And, ah, Mary called and said, "Daddy," I said, "What?" She said, "Mr. Hina gave us some problems." I said, "Well, work them." He says, "Not in the book." I said, "Oh, well, then, let me sit down and see what he got." And, ah, she handed me the equations, you know, and everything down on the paper. 46:00And I said, "Well," I said, "We can handle this." I said, "After we eat supper," and I told Mary, "We'll get it." And after supper we went in to the kitchen after the dishes were done. And, ah, we sat down. And, ah, first time I went through I miss it, I said, "Aww, something don't sound right." I said, "Let's back and go back again." And, ah, I went through it again and I got it. And I went over it two or three times with her. Then, I, took the paper that I had it worked out on, and I wrote it down; I said, "Now you work it." And she worked up. I said, "Now if you just go back and hand it to him," I said, "He ask you to explain it," I say, "You can't do it." I said, "Well I want you to work it." And she worked the problem. And we go back over it again, step by 47:00step. I said, "Now you explain to me like I explained it to you." She's a smart girl. And, ah, she did that.
BRINSON: Did she graduate from Sturgis High School?
PETTIE: Yes. And, ah. Next day she come home, said, "Daddy?" I said, "What?"She said, "Mr. Hina said that problem was wrong." I said, "He did?" She say, "Yeah." I said, "Who's answer did he say was wrong?" She said, "Well didn't nobody have it but me, Jane Linda and Velma." I said, "Oh you all the only three that turned it in?" She say "Yeah." I say, "Well, let's go back to the school." He was a football coach. Well, we come back, and, ah, there out on the football field. And I called him. Right there said, "You come here. Come here and give me your papers." I said, "I want you to show me what's wrong with 48:00these three problems." I said, "You didn't"--I just wanted him to show what's wrong with them. He said, "Well, ah, David", he said, "Just a, wrong formula." I said, "The formula hadn't been changed." I said, "You got that up at the top." "Now" I said, "I started at the top and brought it to the bottom." He said, "Did you work these problems?" I said, "Yeah I worked it." I said, "Mathematics were my specialty when I was going to school." I said, "I don't take no backseat to you, or nobody else;" I said, "Now you tell me where I'm wrong." I said, "I know what you're talking about." I said, "Mary and Jane Linda Howell and Velma Brown are the only three had them. And none of your--didn't any of your white kids have these problems." "Now," I said, "I either want you to tell, show me where these problems is wrong or I want you to correct. Right now." He said, "Well," he said, "Red, I didn't think nobody in 49:00the class has worked." Said, "Actually, I take too much time on the students," he said, because I knew they was wrong." I said, "Now, you got on the wrong horse that time buddy, because I know they're right." I said, "Because I worked." I said, "Now what you going to do about it?" He said, "Well, Mary," he said, "I'll straighten it out, don't you worry, say, I'll straighten it out." Said, "I assure you, Mr. Pettie, won't happen no more." I said, "If it does happen and it's her fault, I said, "I will appreciate it highly if you call me." And I said, "Then, if whatever's wrong," I said, "I will straighten it out. I'm sending her up here for you to teach her, I'm not sending her up here for you to cheat her." I said, "because if you do this you know which road to go down, whether she's on the right road or the wrong road." I said, "If she's wrong, tell her she's wrong." I said, "But if she's right," I said, "Don't you do it, because I check her work daily." 50:00
BRINSON: But, he didn't think that it was, maybe not right, but he'd only giventhe problem to the black students and not the white students?
PETTIE: No, he gave it to the whole class.
BRINSON: He gave it to the whole class.
PETTIE: But, uh, ain't nobody in the class have them to turn in, but Mary,Jane Linda Howell and Velma Brown. They all three were black students. They none of the rest of them, had none of the black kids nor none of the white either.
BRINSON: I see. Okay. Did Mary have any, did she belong to any clubs atschool, or? Any?
PETTIE: Nah, she volunteered, ah, she volunteered at the Glee Club, and, ah.
BRINSON: Okay. Would, um, as I understand there were some white children who,in the first year, actually, fifty-six, actually supported the black children and many who did not. 51:00
PETTIE: That was right.
BRINSON: Um, what--I would be interested in knowing first off what the, whatthe white students who didn't want--Mary and the others there might do. What did they do, to express them?
PETTIE: Well, really as far as, ah, --hurting one physically or not, theydidn't do anything like that, you know. They didn't come after them or nothing like that. You know, just a little, snotty, nasty things. And, ah, one boy, he was a section foreman down at the mine. And Mary whupped his daughter. And we was working together.
BRINSON: Now what do you mean whupped?
PETTIE: I mean she whupped her.
BRINSON: Physically? They were in a fight? Okay.
PETTIE: Yeah. She--whupped her. She--Mary didn't invoke the fight, because--I52:00already raised my children not to fight, unless you have to. But if I find out, that you agitate the fight, and you didn't win that fight, then you're going to get the second whupping when I find it out. But you bet your bottom dollar you're going to get a whupping. Because I'm going to whup you. And so that's the way I was brought up. So I didn't think no man was better than me. And so, ah--this girl, we had carried Mary and them to, it was really. And it was a portion, Easter Sunday. And, ah, this girl, she, ah, was mad at, trying to 53:00agitating the other girls to, you know get into it, but, ah she didn't do it. So she was the only one showing where was Mary's hair was nappy. Which is wasn't because all my kids had braided hair. And, ah, she done pull the curl and she teared it loose and it went right back. And when it went right back, well Mary knocked her down. So when the white kids made some other white kid get back, then Mary got to whupping her. And Mary whupped her there in the dirt. And he got mad about it the next day.
BRINSON: Did that happen at school?
BRINSON: And, did, was there any?
PETTIE: Uh-ah. Ah.
BRINSON: From the teachers or the principal?
PETTIE: They, I said, "What?" "You don't have no misunderstanding yesterday,54:00did you?" I said, "I don't know." I said, "Who?" "Your daughter, my daughter." I said, "Hell, no, my daughter said she done whupped your daughter." I said, "But I don't know what it was about. 'Cause I know the school kids, they'll be probably be shaking hands today." I said, "I don't know." He said, "Well, ah, I don't appreciate it." I said, "I don't appreciate seeing no kids fighting. But you tell your daughter, for me, if she don't want her ass whupped, to leave my daughter alone." I said, "That's all I got, to say." I said, "My daughter's not going to bother your daughter. And so he didn't have no use for me, after that, But. I didn't care. Because I didn't tell my daughter to fight his daughter, you know.
BRINSON: I wonder, uh--the white students who were willing to be friendly.Were they, um, were there other people in the white community really, went at 55:00them for being friendly?
PETTIE: That I don't know. It probably happened. Because, ah, one or two ofthem -- names don't stay with me too long, it's been a long time ago. But two girls in particular, they used to come to the my house every weekend. You know, with Mary and Joyce, they'd come down to the house every weekend. They kind of.
BRINSON: These were white friends?
PETTIE: Yeah. They kind of--and, ah, they would stay sometimes, you know,till late in the afternoon and have supper with Mary and them; and I'd carry them home, you know--with Mary.
PETTIE: Yeah, and they come home with me, and I don't--there were no, ah,56:00nothing you know, father. So, and, there, in there was the same one. You know. So.
PETTIE: So that--I imagine it had a lot of impact on some of those, they didn'tlike it at first, because when they started to come home with them then they'd bring some more home. Well I don't--that's where I come from, to understanding.
BRINSON: Mm-hmm. When Mary graduated from high school, then, then whathappened for her?
PETTIE: When she graduated from high school, she had took her, already took hertests from the, for the Air Force. And, ah, she went right on into the Air Force from the high school.
BRINSON: Mm-hmm. And how long was she in the Air Force?
PETTIE: She stayed in the Air Force about three years, I think.57:00
BRINSON: Okay. Okay.
PETTIE: She married while she was there.
BRINSON: Does she ever talk about high school, or particularly going to theall-white school now, does she have any perspective?
BRINSON: After years now, that, you know, would be different from?
PETTIE: Nooh, she, ah, she got married when she was in the service. And whenshe come out of the service, I had bought this place right here. And she come home, and her mother called her for supper and put on the supper right there. Mother-in-law telling daughter how to treat son-in-law, you know. And I was always out there--she was a heavy one. She was hard to get along with. And, ah, so Mary kind of got kind of nervous, you know, on account of her mother. 58:00And I don't know why she's living with her now, because I went up there--she had a, like, nervous breakdown. They wouldn't let my wife see her. She was in the hospital at Ft. Wayne. They sent for me. And I went up there, and when I went up there she had a bad shake. You know, she run in there, you know; now this is the one I've been telling you all about, she's talking about her daddy. And when the doctor come, Sherry, said, "Well, I heard a lot of talk about you." I said, "Well, I hope it's good." He said, "Yeah." He said, "With Mary here, it meant some bad company," he said, "That you might not be aware of." I said, "I'm aware of part of it," I said, "Not all of it." I said, "'Cause, ah, when Mary and my--when her mother, we were together," I said, "I wasn't at home most of 59:00the time, I worked seven days a week. And when I wasn't working I was on the road somewhere, you know." "And" I said, "I didn't have too much time with spend with my children--unless it was on Sunday--and on Sunday we were in church." "And" I said, "so we come back home, when Monday come it's time for them to go to school and time for me to go to work." I said, "But I had a good rapport with my family, my kids". Said, "What time I did have," I said, "I spent with them." I said, "I didn't have no time for nothing else but my family. What time I did have."
BRINSON: I have just, just one more question to ask you. Um, and that is, um,60:00is Sturgis High School still in use today?
PETTIE: As a school?
BRINSON: I saw coming down from Morganfield there's a Union County High School.
BRINSON: So that--Sturgis merged?
PETTIE: It's centralized.
BRINSON: Is the building Sturgis High School, is in still here?
PETTIE: Yeah, a man bought it and he converted it into apartments.
BRINSON: Oh, okay. Where is it? Do you know approximately from here?
PETTIE: Yeah, you can go. When you leave here you know that street across thisstreet, and don't turn no where, just keep going right straight, and you will run into it. Because you can see it. And you make a left turn, you can't go right because the houses on the right side of the road. You can turn left.
BRINSON: Okay. Is there anything else about this whole period, um, in the61:00fifties that I haven't asked you that you can think to add at this point in time?
PETTIE: No, well, some things, you know, you don't feel like talking about, butI did--they did put a reward out on my head. The White Citizen's Council did.
BRINSON: They did? Tell me--can you tell me about that?
PETTIE: I'll just tell you about the call I got. Me and Reverend Gardner,Reverend Shelby Gardner. They had a $20,000 reward out on us, a piece, either one of us at twenty thousand dollars. But that never did materialize. And you know it didn't because I'm sitting here talking to you.
BRINSON: That must have made you pretty nervous, though.
PETTIE: No, it didn't.
BRINSON: You didn't look carefully wherever you went?
PETTIE: Yes, I did. But, ah, I wasn't worried about nobody looking at and62:00bothering me. Only thing that bothered me was a coward. In the bushes. 'Cause if you confronted me back in those days, all I'll ask you to do is just twist your nose, and I was ready. But, ah, yup, they, they threatened me, even called threats to my house. That's when the phones were around.
BRINSON: Did the--since the FBI was monitoring your phone calls, did they evercome forth and talk to you about that kind of a threat?
BRINSON: Offer you any support?
PETTIE: Hm-hmm. Well, now, I was told by other sources, you know, as to watchmyself and do what I had to do to stay alive, but, ah, see I had the -- it was 63:00in sixty-three. No, sixty-four, when they first showed up on that here. And they, already had the school. Well, then we got a package together, NAACP did, and we blocked the square by the permission of the County government in Morganfield. On the court house--around the court house across here we had a whole square block. And, uh, I was one of the first ones to speak. Well, I was called the night before, and the morning, I was called. "You coming to 64:00Morganfield today?" I said, "Yes, as a matter of fact I'm getting ready now." And, ah, "Well when you come, I'm the one going to kill you, you black son of a bitch, you SOB--I mean that." I said, "Well, only thing I want you to do is let me know who you are when I get there." I said, "Then we'll see who's standing when the smoke clears." I did that. I said, "Well, I'm getting' ready to go." I said, "If you're going, tell me that you're the one, don't have somebody else take the fall that you're supposed to take." He said, "You just come on you black son of a bitch." Said, "I'm tired of you." I said, "That's alright," I said, "I'm coming." And I went. And, ah--'cause we had all kinds of coverage, and I was told, two weeks after that, that the FBI got three there, with a gun. The FBI were there. Oh there was a mob there, 'cause everybody's come to see me 65:00and Reverend Gardner fall right there.
BRINSON: So, this was, this was in 1963?
BRINSON: Sixty-four okay.
PETTIE: See, there weren't, they had the job to go out there and this wasfederal money. But the weren't giving nobody in the county no jobs out there. All the jobs were coming out of southern Illinois, you know. You from Illinois, you got a job. If you're born right around here you didn't get nothing. And that was what it was all about.
BRINSON: Um, in the fifties, there wasn't an NAACP here.
PETTIE: Yes it was.
BRINSON: There was?
PETTIE: 'Cause I was the first one that started it.
BRINSON: Well, well tell me about that.
PETTIE: It was in the, ah, when the NAACP started in its sixth year, and, ah,they couldn't get nobody to take the secretary's job. But, this here made me 66:00go to the meeting. Really I went to see what it was all about. And, ah, so when I got there, when the, wouldn't nobody take it. I took it. And that's when the ball started to rolling.
BRINSON: And, and, what were your, responsibilities as secretary?
PETTIE: Well, I had input in Union, in Henderson and Webster county. I was atrack-handed person. I made Secretary of all three counties. Really my job was --more than the President's job was.
BRINSON: Was it to--to take minutes at meetings?
PETTIE: Yeah. Take minutes at meetings. Go to meetings.
BRINSON: Go to meetings.
PETTIE: Report back to the maintenance--I attended workshops.
BRINSON: Write any letters, or?
PETTIE: Yea, writing letters, I attended workshops in Louisville, I attended67:00workshops in Evansville, Henderson, Hopkinsville.
BRINSON: Okay. Is, is there still an NAACP chapter in this area?
PETTIE: There's one in Morgantown.
BRINSON: Morgantown, okay. Um.
PETTIE: But I don't know who's President, I don't go all across, when you go tojoin a radical thing, and a radical age--I'm back off all, I don't have.
BRINSON: Okay. Um, in the fifties, again back to the Sturgis High School, thefirst year, the NAACP sent a lawyer from Louisville named.
PETTIE: That's right, a very good man.
BRINSON: James Cromwell.
PETTIE: A very good friend of mine.
BRINSON: And I wonder what you remember about him and his role at that time?
PETTIE: Well, I, he come and, ah, we had the National Guard. I mean in68:00the--after the legislation had passed it down through Frankfort you know; that this law was invalid, and he come here to meet with us and he explained it to us. And, ah, and that's when we backed off. But, uh, him and, ah, Neville Tucker, W. H. Hines, they come down from Louisville. And, ah, after that, we had, I had a meeting with, ah, Sgt. Slather , John Kennedy--not the President, was another John Kennedy--Sgt. Slather, John Kennedy, Sam Yett.
BRINSON: Sam ?69:00
PETTIE: Sam Yett, lives in Washington, D.C.
BRINSON: How do you spell his last name?
PETTIE: Y E T T.
PETTIE: Okay. And, what -- were they here?
PETTIE: Yes, they were here.
BRINSON: And, what brought them here?
PETTIE: The, all this publicity that we had on TV and things, and, ah.
BRINSON: Around the schools.
PETTIE: Yea, they came. And they talked. Sgt. Shriver's daughter was here well,she's a pretty lady now, she was about that high, she sit right on my knee.
BRINSON: She came too?
PETTIE: Right in there.
BRINSON: Mm-hmm. Mm. Okay. Um, okay. That's all I think I know to ask you.Thank you very much for talking to me. 70:00