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1992OH01.15 Holmes

Frankfort’s Craw Oral History Project

Interview with Helen Holmes

July 25,1991.

Conducted by James Wallace

© 1991 Kentucky Oral History Commission

Kentucky Historical Society

Kentucky Oral History Commission

100 W. Broadway ( Frankfort, KY 40601

502-564-1792 ( (fax) 502-564-0475 (

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The following interview is an unrehearsed interview with

Helen Holmes for "Frankfort's 'Craw:' An African-American

Community Remembered." The interview was conducted by James E.

Wallace in Frankfort, Kentucky, July 25, 1991.

[An interview with Helen F. Holmes]

WALLACE: Today is Thursday, July the 25th, I believe.

HOLMES: No, no, that's not right, is it?

WALLACE: Yes, I believe it is.

HOLMES: I believe it is. I believe you're right.

WALLACE: And, uh, we're talking today . . .

HOLMES: My neighbor lady has a rummage sale on the 27th which

is Saturday. So, this must be about the 25th.

WALLACE: Ahh. Yes, it's getting close, it's getting close.

We're here today talking with Ms. Helen F. Holmes. I usually try

to put the name and the date on the front of the tape so in case

I forget to write it down, I . . .

HOLMES: You'll have it.

WALLACE: Yeah, I will have it. Uh . . .

HOLMES: Now, I can give you a card table if you'd like it.

WALLACE: Oh, no, this is fine. This will do. I've got . . .

got my cards balanced here and . . .

HOLMES: Where's your native home?

WALLACE: Well, I was born in Cambridgeshire, England. My

father and mother are both Kentuckians, but Dad was stationed . .


HOLMES: Umhumm.

WALLACE: . . . at an air base in England in the late 1950's.

HOLMES: Umhumm.

WALLACE: But after three months, we returned to the United

States and I was raised in Jefferson County, Kentucky.

HOLMES: Well, that's not so far away.

WALLACE: Oh, no, no, no. And, uh, then, came to Frankfort to

work for State Government in 1978. Let me ask you a little bit

about yourself and . . . and, uh, all of your family.

HOLMES: Two sisters.

WALLACE: All right.

HOLMES: One in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She has three . . .

two children and they have children.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: I have another sister . . . that's my . . . I'm 89 in



HOLMES: And this sister I'm talking about is 85.


HOLMES: And, then, I have a sister who is 81 who is in Fort

Washington, outside . . . a suburb to Washington city.

[Washington, D.C.]

WALLACE: So, you must have come from a family with long-lived


HOLMES: Oh, yeah. Now, take that grandmother. That's my

maternal grandmother. She had a party on the 96th birthday.

WALLACE: Good grief.

HOLMES: And invited all of the family. She belonged to the

Bishop Tanner family which is quite a family in Pennsylvania.

She was the 18th Bishop of the AME church of which I'm still a


WALLACE: St. John's AME?

HOLMES: St. John's AME.

WALLACE: Yes, a beautiful church building, beautiful.

HOLMES: I buried my husband from there.

WALLACE: Let me ask you. Tell me again the name of the town

where you were born and grew up.

HOLMES: Williamsport. [Pennsylvania]

WALLACE: Williamsport and . . .

HOLMES: It's not far from Harrisburg. [Pennsylvania]

WALLACE: All right. Your father and mother's name.

HOLMES: My father was John W. Fairfax. My mother was

Isabella Tanner Fairfax.

WALLACE: Fairfax. What . . . what profession was your father

. . .

HOLMES: My father was in charge of a whole block of Masonic



HOLMES: The city's Masonic buildings, the Masonic Temple, the

Akasha Club, the Howard Club, and we lived in the place for the

head worker, see.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: My father had charge of all of those buildings. And

that was a real nice job. And it was in that same library that I

started stacking books after six o'clock. I loved to work with

the Dewey decimal system.


HOLMES: And they had all of these books that people had

turned in. So, it was my job to get them back on the shelf.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: And I got paid for it.

WALLACE: So, this would have been about the 19-teens [1910's],

I guess, sometime in that period?

HOLMES: Yeah, umhumm. I finished from high school in, uh, I

must have finish- . . . I finished college in '24. [1924]

WALLACE: Where did you go to college?

HOLMES: Bucknell University.

WALLACE: Bucknell?

HOLMES: Yeah, Bucknell. I don't know whether you know it or


WALLACE: No, I'm not acquainted with it.

HOLMES: It's a, uh, a small school, but I was second honor in

that high school class.


HOLMES: And my high school English . . . science teacher was

a Bucknellian.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: So, since I was a honor student, he got me a

scholarship to go to Bucknell.

WALLACE: Where is Bucknell located?

HOLMES: Bucknell is in Lewisburg. [Pennsylvania] It's

between Williamsport and Harrisburg. It was about an hour's ride

on the train.

WALLACE: Umhumm. And you completed your undergraduate work



WALLACE: Ahh, okay.

HOLMES: Bachelor's from there, and, then, I got my master's

from Columbia. And I've done some later work at the University

of . . . New York U.

WALLACE: Umhumm, umhumm. Where, uh . . . as far as . . . as,

uh, your, uh, career in education, what launched you in a career

in education?

HOLMES: I wanted to be a teacher of English from the time I

was too small to even go to school.


HOLMES: I would see the students from the Dixon Center which

was located in Williamsport marched past to Central Library.

See, our home was direct across from the city library. And I'd

see them march up there, and I'd tell Mother, "That's what I want

to be." And I kept my eye on that and never wanted to be

anything else.

WALLACE: Did you get a lot of support from your parents for

your education . . .

HOLMES: Oh, yeah.

WALLACE: . . . and . . .

HOLMES: Well, they . . . they had . . . they had two more

children younger than I. So, they divided up. And since I was

out on my own, I took care of it myself.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: And you should. I don't think you should . . . when

you have two more sisters coming along, you should get something

to do to pay you enough to live.

WALLACE: When did you finally leave home and . . . and set up

your own house?

HOLMES: Well, when I . . . when I finished college, I left

home immediately. Took my first job in Durham, North Carolina.

WALLACE: What, uh, what were you doing there at Durham?

HOLMES: High school English.

WALLACE: Ahh, okay.

HOLMES: I taught there one year in high school English.

That's all of the high school experience I've had. My other

experience was in college.

WALLACE: To go from Pennsylvania down to Durham, North

Carolina was quite a change in locale. Did you encounter, uh, a

different attitude as far as racial relations . . .

HOLMES: Well, I'd heard it was different and I had a hard

time getting used to it, too, because I had grown up going

wherever I wanted on whatever I wanted and I knew all of my

classmates in the classrooms. Some went to Bucknell and finished

the same year I did, see. That wasn't any problem. I just had

to remember not to sit in the first vacant seat I saw on the bus.

WALLACE: Ahh, okay, which would have taken a lot to get

adjusted to, I would . . .

HOLMES: Yeah, because, see, I had never been used to any sort

of segregation. Williamsport, Pennsylvania didn't have it, and

you didn't have it.

WALLACE: So, the library and all public facilities were

integrated and . . .

HOLMES: Oh, yes.


HOLMES: You just did what you wanted to do. I went to

Bucknell . . . I was the first black woman. They'd had one black

man finish there.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: And he pastored a church. He went into the ministry

and he pastored a church in Norfolk, Virginia.

WALLACE: So, the vast majority of your classmates were white,


HOLMES: All of them were but me. There was only one black

person on the campus for two years; and the last two years, a

freshman girl came from Muncie, Pennsylvania.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: So, there were two of us.

WALLACE: What . . . what years were you attending at Bucknell


HOLMES: Twenty [1920] to '24 [1924].

WALLACE: Twenty [1920] to '24 [1924]. It just sort of took .

. . took me by surprise that, uh, your hometown would have been

integrated in that era. That's quite progressive.

HOLMES: Well, we had . . . we never knew anything about

anything else.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: I mean, you just came along. There were 30, uh,

blacks in my high school class; and when we graduated, I was the

only one left. We had 300 in the class.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: It was a big school. And, uh, at the time, we had 30

blacks in that 300. Well, when we graduated, there were 200

whites and I was the only black left. I took the salutatorian's


WALLACE: Ahh. Good grief.

HOLMES: First time they'd ever had a black do that.

WALLACE: What happened to your black classmates? Had they

dropped out to work or . . .

HOLMES: They dropped out very frequently.

WALLACE: Well, tell me a little bit about how you met your


HOLMES: How I met him?

WALLACE: Oh, the first time you met him, if you remember?

HOLMES: Well, I was teaching in Dover, Delaware. That's

another one of the places I taught at an English department

there. And I stayed on the campus, of course. And I had a

student from, uh, from, uh, uh, where he [B. T. Holmes] was

teaching. And, uh, I used to visit the family that she belonged


WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: And I met him that way.

WALLACE: Ahh. I didn't realize he was a teacher prior to

taking . . .

HOLMES: Oh, yeah. He had taught science and coached



HOLMES: But he always wanted to be a doctor. So, when I . .

. when he got in my hands, I said, "Here, take this checkbook and

you go to Meharry." And I think that was the joy of his life.

WALLACE: Well, to get that kind of support from his spouse,

I'm sure he . . .

HOLMES: Well, to do what he wanted to do.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: See, I had become what I wanted to be, a teacher of

English. And Mother went to his graduation. Mother and Dad came

to . . . came to, uh, Meharry to see him graduate. And they were

telling the people sitting beside me, "That's my son down there

with the green robe on." Well, of course, all of the doctors had

the green stoles.

WALLACE: Un-huh.

HOLMES: And, then, she came to . . . Mother and Dad came to

visit me awhile here. They stayed over commencement. It was a

joy for them to see me march in with the faculty and lead our

graduating class in.


HOLMES: Well, you would have thought I was graduating with a

faculty degree myself. [Laughter - Wallace] Dr. Atwood was the

president at that time.

WALLACE: Ahh. Dr. Rufus Atwood?



HOLMES: I came here in his day.


HOLMES: He was a fine man.

WALLACE: Well, he was the president during a difficult time.

HOLMES: A very difficult time.

WALLACE: Uh . . .

HOLMES: When you didn't have the adequate budget and he used

to ask us to . . . some of us to please come down during the days

he'd have to plead for his budget, see. So, I'd go down and sit

in the balcony. And just a lot of us would go down at various


WALLACE: During the legislative session?


WALLACE: Is that where he was going to make his appearances to

. . .


WALLACE: Let me ask on your husband. I hate to admit this,

but I'm not really sure what B. T. stands for.

HOLMES: Booker Taliaferro. I know you're not black because

every person . . . B.T. stands for Booker Taliaferro Washington,

you see, the big man in the Negro race.

WALLACE: Ahh, okay.

HOLMES: And he was named . . . he was my . . . he was the

tenth child in my husband's family.

WALLACE: Ahh, okay.

HOLMES: The youngest one. Sold newspapers.

WALLACE: Ahh. Booker Taliaferro Washington.

HOLMES: He didn't tie the Washington, just the Booker

Taliaferro Holmes.


HOLMES: And I still get mail for him. They haven't all found

out that he's been dead because I still get mail.

WALLACE: Ahh. Let me see if I understood correctly. Your . .

. your husband was one of ten children?

HOLMES: Yes. He was the tenth child.

WALLACE: The tenth child. And his parents' names, what were


HOLMES: Oh, Lord, now.

WALLACE: [Laughing] I'm putting you on the spot. I shouldn't

do that.

HOLMES: Uh, Amanda was his mother's name, and I think . . . I

think John was father's name. I'm not too sure about that.

WALLACE: Where were they . . . were they natives of Frankfort

or . . .

HOLMES: Oh, no, no. They were natives of Virginia. See,

that . . . Tappahannock is a suburb. They lived on the edge of

Tappahannock . . .

WALLACE: Oh, okay.

HOLMES: . . . Virginia.


HOLMES: And I have some relatives down there now.

WALLACE: Well, what led . . .

HOLMES: There was a Lindsey Holmes that his wife did all of

the fine linen for the white folks that came to Tappahannock

which is a lakeside resort.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: And when she . . . when . . . he said one day, "Let's

go out for a ride." I said, "Fine." I didn't know where he was

going. So, I dressed up. And he took me out to meet his people.

And he had three relatives; cousin Lee Christopher, cousin

Lindsey Holmes and cousin Richard. Now, I'm not sure what cousin

Richard's last name was.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: He didn't have . . . or we didn't stay with him as

much as we did with cousin Lindsey.

WALLACE: Was his, uh, family from sort of a middle-class

background or were they, uh, as far as had to pull themselves up

by their boot strings . . .


WALLACE: . . . or something.

HOLMES: Now, most of the . . . I didn't know but three of his

brothers. One was a head waiter in Baltimore.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: A very fine head waiter, Aubrey. Now, that was the

one we used . . . I used to go and visit even before we were

married, visit with him one . . . I'd go down . . . if B.T. had a

meeting, I'd go and stay with his brother, see. And when he told

his brother he was marrying me, he said, "Are you going to marry

that freckle-faced girl?" [Laughter - Wallace] And he had about

50 freckles for every one I had. [Laughter - Wallace] Well, he

was . . . he was a good fellow. They used to come here and

they'd go out hunting together.

WALLACE: Well, when did your husband . . . now, let me back

up. Tell me . . . you had spoken before we turned the tape on

about your husband's educational background. Can you tell me

again . . .

HOLMES: Virginia Union University in Richmond was his

undergraduate degree, Bachelor of Science. And, then, he taught

awhile. And, then, after we were married, he went to the

University of Michigan where all of the science majors at

University of Virginia went.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: It was just a sort of tradition. He had good

friends, so, he went where they went. And that's how he got into

the University of Michigan.


HOLMES: He graduated and got his MS there, and, then, he went

to Meharry and got his MD.

WALLACE: When did he graduate from Meharry?

HOLMES: '47 [1947].

WALLACE: '47 [1947]. And did . . . after '47 [1947], did he

relocate to Frankfort to . . .


WALLACE: . . . practice?

HOLMES: He came to Frankfort. A doctor here, a black doctor

here, was going back to Norfolk [Virginia]. I don't know whether

that was his home or not. But they didn't have a doctor.


HOLMES: And he came. And I didn't know he was going to, but

I came here with the idea that I'd be closer to him while he was

in school. Well, you could run down from here to Meharry in a

couple of hours.

WALLACE: Where . . . I hate to admit this. Where is Meharry?

I don't . . .

HOLMES: Ahh, Meharry . . .

WALLACE: I don't . . .

HOLMES: . . . Nashville.

WALLACE: Oh, Nashville, Tennessee, okay.


WALLACE: Okay. Yeah, it wouldn't be that far at all.

HOLMES: No. And, see, I was younger and I drove then. Doc

had his car and I had mine. And I was in various things around

here, helped open up the pool up there on the hill, integrated

it. They had said we could swim on Friday and they would clean

it out on Saturday and reopen it. I said, "It won't do." And we

had a meeting all planned. So, I got three . . . this young man

and two others who were in school who were good swimmers. I got

them to go up there opening day. And the people were so nervous,

they charged them . . . what change they should have had, they

gave them back what they should have paid [laughter] to go to

that pool, I found out later.

WALLACE: When . . . do you remember when this took place, the

move to integrate the pool? Was that . . . do you remember what

year . . .

HOLMES: It was about, uh, I would say in the late forties

[1940's], maybe early fifties [1950's].

WALLACE: Fifties [1950's]. Henry Sanders told me the same

story. The young lady who was taking the money was so nervous

about . . .

HOLMES: That's right.

WALLACE: . . . the whole thing.

HOLMES: He might have been one of those that went because I

got him and two of his friends whom I knew knew how to swim and

dive off, and they offered them jobs as lifeguards.


HOLMES: They didn't take it because they had other work.

See, this young man came and took our Upward Bound Program.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: We had 105 kids every . . . every summer.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: And, then, we'd go around and visit them at the

schools they went to the winter. And they would come up so happy

to see us.

WALLACE: Well, when your husband first established his

practice in Frankfort in '47 [1947], where did he initially open

his office?

HOLMES: Down in the . . . on Washington Street, which is now

in the area that they have reconverted.


HOLMES: He was down there for a while. And we saw one flood

there. I had to help him get his stuff out. I put on his boots

and my shoes swelled up in the boots and I thought I was going to

have to cut the boots off. [Laughter - Wallace] And, then, when

the lady, Ms. Florence Williams, who lived over there in, uh, I

don't . . . I think she must have died about then. Anyhow, he

bought that house and put his office there.

WALLACE: Umhumm. What were . . . when he first established

himself, uh, what were some of the, uh, concerns or problems he

confronted as a . . . as the . . . possibly the only black

physician in town at that time?

HOLMES: Well, there had been one ahead of him. So, they were

not unaccustomed to that.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: And he got . . . his practice . . . he was considered

very good. He was always . . . all of his background had been

scientific. When he went to Meharry, he even taught one of the

Meharry courses.


HOLMES: So, he was actually teaching on the faculty while he

was taking course work?

WALLACE: Taught that one course.


WALLACE: But it helped with the finances, too.

HOLMES: Umhumm. [Laughing]

WALLACE: Well . . .

HOLMES: And, then, he sold, uh, uh, uh, for a laboratory

company. He sold insurance to the doctors at Meharry.

WALLACE: So, he was working and going to school trying to make

. . .

HOLMES: Oh, yeah.

WALLACE: . . . financial ends meet.

HOLMES: Meet. I was trying to keep up the ends over here.

WALLACE: That's quite difficult to maintain a relationship

over that distance with your being here and he and having to . .


HOLMES: Well, uh, he was busy going to school and I was busy

trying to keep the ends met. [Laughter]

WALLACE: Well, tell me a little bit when you first started

instructing at Kentucky State University. What kind of course

load did you have? What courses were you teaching?

HOLMES: English.

WALLACE: English.

HOLMES: All of them were English.


HOLMES: I was head of the department when I came.

WALLACE: One of your former students said that, uh, he would

have to stay up into the wee hours of the morning to try and make

his assignments for . . .

HOLMES: They accused me of being kind of rough. [Laughter -

Wallace] But they also learned.

WALLACE: Oh, yes. He said he was glad he had because he . . .

he knew English . . .


WALLACE: . . . forward and backwards now . . .

HOLMES: And, see, I told them that they should learn English

not because they were going to teach it as I was. I wanted to

teach it. But they should learn it to guide them through life.

I said, to defend yourself. To explain what you're talking

about, you need command of language.

WALLACE: To be articulate.

HOLMES: Yes. In other words, it's one of the personal

attributes of a successful person to handle language.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: I still think it is.

WALLACE: Well, when your husband came and established his

practice in '47 [1947], were you and he living up on campus at

that time?

HOLMES: At the . . . when he first came.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: Until we got this house, and, then, this house was

auctioned and he bought it for me. I didn't even know he had

bought it.


HOLMES: He came home and told me, "I've got you a home now."

WALLACE: [Laughing] So, you all lived in South Frankfort all

along and he just had his practice in . . . in North Frankfort

for a while there until he relocated.

HOLMES: Well, about a year, about at least a year, maybe a

little bit longer, we lived up there in one of the new apartments

where that last building out on the front is. It used to be

residents' homes . . .

WALLACE: Oh, okay.

HOLMES: . . . and we lived in one of those at that time.

WALLACE: Umhumm, umhumm. Well, let me ask you a few more

questions about your husband's practice, and, then, I'd like to

talk with you a little bit about the NAACP. Were there any

special health problems or concerns that your doctor . . . your

husband would have to confront from the residents? I imagine a

large number of his patients came . . .

HOLMES: He was the school physician when he first came.

WALLACE: Oh, school physician.


WALLACE: As well. Oh, okay, okay.

HOLMES: But, see, he did not want to confine his practice to

that, and that's why he wanted to move downtown so that the town

would know he was not merely a school physician.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: See, at the beginning of school, he would invite a

lot of his classmates here for several days and they would

examine all of the students . . .


HOLMES: He was the school physician.

WALLACE: So, they actually got assistance in . . . in . . .


WALLACE: . . . helping.

HOLMES: Well, you see, I don't know exactly what they did,

but it was enough for more than one person, see. We used to have

about six come in . . .

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: . . . for a few days in . . . in the opening days of

school in the fall.

WALLACE: Well, even at that time, I imagine the student body

was relatively good size, good number of students.

HOLMES: Yes, it was.

WALLACE: I don't know how many.

HOLMES: I don't remember the amount. I don't keep those

facts in mind.

WALLACE: No. Well, that's rather trivial, but, uh, uh, he was

a general practitioner, wasn't he?



HOLMES: General practitioner.

WALLACE: Not . . . not a surgeon?

HOLMES: No, he was not a surgeon.

WALLACE: Uh, as far as . . .

HOLMES: He was a good friend of Dr. Ramsey's.


HOLMES: We used to go to Hypnosis Society together.

WALLACE: Did the back and white physicians interact pretty

much or . . .

HOLMES: As much as they wanted to. There didn't seem to be

any difficulty at all.

WALLACE: As far as hospital facilities and access to hospital

facilities, uh . . .

HOLMES: Well, we had a little hospital over here when he

first came. I don't think he ever practiced in it, though.

WALLACE: Winnie A. Scott [Hospital]?

HOLMES: Winnie Scott, yeah.

WALLACE: Winnie Scott Hospital.

HOLMES: I don't think he ever practiced in there because it

was going out and he sent them all out here.

WALLACE: Out to King's Daughter . . . the old King's Daughters

. . .

HOLMES: Yeah, the old King's Daughters.

WALLACE: . . . which is apartments. So, he actually practiced

over in the King's Daughters then when . . .

HOLMES: Yeah, and, also, out here.

WALLACE: Ahh, okay, okay. See, that's so different than what

I thought I would encounter. I didn't realize his tenure did not

overlap with Winnie A. Scott really when . . .

HOLMES: No, no, no.

WALLACE: . . . it was gone.

HOLMES: It had no attachment to Winnie A. Scott. In other

words, the people who wanted to go there, I imagine he sent them.

But most of them, he sent on out here.

WALLACE: Well, that . . .

HOLMES: And he was kind of rigid. When he told you what to

do, you did it and went off. You got yourself another doctor.

WALLACE: Ahh. He had high expectations for his patients as

far as . . .

HOLMES: Oh, yeah.

WALLACE: . . . following his . . .

HOLMES: And they did. You talk to most of those patients

now, they . . . see, when it would come for the winter shot, flu

shot . . .


HOLMES: . . . he'd say, "Well, I'm going up on the campus

today." And he said, "I've come to give you a flu shot", and he

gave it. They didn't ask, "Do you think I need one?" [Laughter

- Wallace]

WALLACE: He just gave it.

HOLMES: He just gave it. He said, "I won't force you today."

And, see, it was close enough that he could go from his office.

WALLACE: Office. Well, he was one of the few black

professionals to reestablish himself after the urban renewal.

So many of the businesses . . .

HOLMES: Well, they already had one here and he was leaving at

the time B.T. finished. So, he just kind of slipped in a vacancy

that was . . .


HOLMES: . . . not made for him, but happened.

WALLACE: Do you remember . . . I've heard the name Dr. Berry,

a black physician.

HOLMES: Yeah. Dr. Berry was one of the earlier ones.

WALLACE: Yeah. But he was gone before your husband . . .

HOLMES: Oh, yeah.


HOLMES: He was gone before my husband came here.

WALLACE: There was a Dr. . . .

HOLMES: Now, that was down near that St. John's AME Church.




HOLMES: That's my church.

WALLACE: Ahh. I have yet . . . I need to go in there

sometime. I'd like to . . . it's so beautiful from the outside.

It must be equally attractive . . .

HOLMES: It is.

WALLACE: . . . from the inside.

HOLMES: Those windows are beautiful.

WALLACE: Yes, stained glass.

HOLMES: I just made them my parting donation of a thousand

dollars to take care of the pavement which needed repair.

WALLACE: Oh, out in front where the . . .

HOLMES: Yeah. I used to be a trustee down there, and, then,

I was made a steward one year. And I didn't agree with their

asking me to ask the wife of a man, one of Doc's patients who was

dying, to go on a note for us. I told them, no, I would not do

that. I could not . . .


HOLMES: . . . put her up to having a note that she would

never get paid for.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: So, he said, "Well, you're off the board." And I

said, "Thank you" and got up and left.

WALLACE: Good grief. Well, they put you in a horrible

predicament by asking . . .

HOLMES: Well, see, she lived right down here on the corner of

Fourth Street . . .

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: . . . where Fourth goes into Paul Sawyier.


HOLMES: Had a lovely home. Her husband was head waiter at

the hotel here in his good days.

WALLACE: The Southern Hotel when . . .


WALLACE: . . . it was quite an establishment.

HOLMES: And he was quite a dignified looking gentleman. He

used to follow the governors when they'd go on trips and they'd

want somebody to go with them.

WALLACE: Ahh. Sort of as a personal attendant and traveling

companion . . .

HOLMES: Yeah. They made all of their meal contacts and that

sort of thing.

WALLACE: Umhumm. Well, let me ask you about your involvement

here in social organizations and causes and, uh . . . when did

you first become involved with the NAACP movement here in


HOLMES: Ah, when they started, uh, with the swimming pool and

the other things that came up. I was head of the NAACP and we

used to have quite an active group.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: We'd have a dinner once a year and get a cook and

we'd go to . . . not . . . didn't have those dinners at St.

John. We had them at the . . . at the First Baptist Church . . .

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: It's just across from the Governor's house now.

WALLACE: Do we have a large chapter here? Were there quite a

few individual members?

HOLMES: It was . . . you had a large chapter on paper, but

you had to kind of pull them in to what you wanted them to do.

WALLACE: Umhumm. Were there white members as well or just

solely black members?

HOLMES: I would think there were a few white members. I

don't imagine there were very many of them.

WALLACE: Umhumm, umhumm. Well, as far as the swimming pool,

I've heard that there was also a move to integrate the

restaurants and that young blacks and adults . . .

HOLMES: We sat-in many a-time. Only one person ever got

arrested, and I had taken . . . and that was not supposed to be.

That was down at the drug store on the corner across from, uh . .

. oh, how am I going to tell you? Main Street . . .


HOLMES: You know the little park place?


HOLMES: There's one drug store down there still, I think.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: Well, that's the one where a young man was arrested.

WALLACE: Not Frankfort Drug, was it?



HOLMES: Frankfort Drug. And, uh, we had taken up money . . .

we had the lawyer from Versailles, remember the young white . . .

WALLACE: Oh, Ed Prichard.

HOLMES: Prichard.


HOLMES: He was my advising lawyer.


HOLMES: I said, "I don't mind, uh, having to get them out

from being arrested, but I don't them to do foolish things." For

instance, if I . . . I led the first march out to the Capitol.

We had Martin Luther King up on the Capitol steps.

WALLACE: Good grief.

HOLMES: And it poured down rain the day before, so, we

couldn't actually connect the electrical lines, but everything

was up. All you had to do was plug them. So, uh, they didn't

close school, but the young fellow who lived over here, his

mother lives over there, he cut school to march beside Martin

Luther King. And we had 10,000 people in that line. We marched

from the bridge up Capital Avenue.

WALLACE: And you organized the march?

HOLMES: Well, I helped with it.

WALLACE: Yeah. How did you all get Martin Luther King to

come? Who issued the invitation to him? Do you remember?

HOLMES: Well, I think I had a pretty good part in that. I

had heard . . . he was an Alpha man. See, Alpha frat.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: And he spoke at the last fraternal meeting. And the

president asked me, said, "I'd like to have him here, but I'm

afraid he's going to talk Montgomery." [Alabama, the site of a

major civil rights march] I said, "I don't think so." And when

he came, uh, naturally, all of the police were dressed

[uniformed] and undressed,[plain clothes] [inaudible]. He kept

standing around. And you remember . . . do you . . . did you

know Jack Robb?

WALLACE: Yes, Jack Robb.

HOLMES: Well, Jack Robb and I worked this end, see, and we

had set up places all around in here where people could assemble

to get into the march. And we all marched into Second Street and

out Capital, see.

WALLACE: Un-huh.

HOLMES: And a very young boy cut school to march beside

Martin Luther King.


HOLMES: And he was our commencement speaker at the high

school out there one year.

WALLACE: The young man . . . oh, Martin Luther?

HOLMES: Martin Luther King was.

WALLACE: Yeah. I have seen . . . you know Bill Rodgers, the



WALLACE: He has, uh, a couple of photos of Martin Luther King

here in Frankfort. It could be the very occasion that you're .

. .

HOLMES: It could be this. I think he was only here . . . he

was here the time we had the march to speak from the steps, which

he did.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: And, then, we had him to dinner . . . the president

had him to dinner up on the campus. And, then, he was here for

our commencement speech in itself. And, uh, people flocked.

WALLACE: It sounds like the Frankfort black community just

turned out in force.

HOLMES: Oh, it did. It did.

WALLACE: Well, let me ask you. When . . .

HOLMES: I was surprised that they followed me so well when I

was head of it when I was not a local person. You know,

sometimes you kind of stick with your local people.

WALLACE: Umhumm. Well, it sounds like you were accepted right

into the community, though.

HOLMES: Well, I was. Some of my best friends are right here


WALLACE: Well, when the decision . . . the Supreme Court

decision, Brown versus Board of Education, 1954 . . .


WALLACE: Do you remember how you reacted or how . . . if you

heard anybody locally discussing their feelings about that

decision as far as the integration of schools?

HOLMES: Well, if I did, I'm sure I got them straight on what

I thought. [Laughter - Wallace] And nobody ever questioned me

about it. And nobody was ever . . . uh, see, I . . . for

instance, I could have gone to that very same drugstore where the

boy was arrested and been served. They would serve me.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: But they wouldn't serve Negroes as a whole.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: And I never ate there. And, then, well, we started

eating all around here.

WALLACE: Well, when, uh, Mayo-Underwood, uh, I guess after the

court, Supreme Court ruling, that integrated the school systems

and Mayo-Underwood was abandoned.


WALLACE: How did the black community react to the loss of an

all-black institution like Mayo-Underwood?

HOLMES: I don't think it worried them too much. See, they

hired the principal at one of the schools.

WALLACE: Was that Alice . . .

HOLMES: Alice Simp . . . Alice Samuels.

WALLACE: Samuels, exactly. Alice Samuels.

HOLMES: And her family lives right down here. I don't think

there was much reaction because we had fought for that.

WALLACE: Umhumm. I wondered if there was any sense of

nostalgia or loss with an all-black institution where the young

folk would have their own black leaders and black activities and

sports . . .

HOLMES: I don't recall anything that was . . . there wasn't

any big display. I know that.


HOLMES: I think, uh, we just kind of went along with them.

We didn't have a Montgomery busboy's outfit. We had some other

things. I just think they went along with it.

WALLACE: Let me ask you. During urban renewal years, in the

late, oh, '58 [1958], '59 [1959], a number of the black and white

homeowners that were in the area sometimes referred to as Bottom

banded together to resist the urban renewal. And one of the

things they did was collected up money and retained two

attorneys, a man by the name of Julius Knippenberg and J. S.

Carroll, to represent them in an attempt to block the urban

renewal project. Were you involved in that effort at all?

HOLMES: No, I wasn't in that effort at all.


HOLMES: In other words, I guess my educational time was

concerned with my attachment to Kentucky State.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: See, I came here in '43 [1943] to head the English


WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: So, you see, I was pretty well installed by that

time. I retired from up there in '73 [1973].

WALLACE: Ahh. So, you were there 30 years.


WALLACE: I imagine you saw a lot of transition up there.

HOLMES: I did see a lot of transition. And, see, one . . .

and when Dr. Atwood retired, then, a former friend of my

husband's and mine came to head the school. Now, they didn't

know for the most part that we . . . that we were friends because

when we'd do our private visiting, well, they'd come down here or

I'd go to her house . . . his house and her house. See, he died

. . . she died here.


HOLMES: And he was about to take her to a doctor in Lexington

when she took ill. And she fell over. And I . . . his secretary

was the only with him, and I called and asked, "Do you think he'd

like to see me?" And he cried. He held me . . . he put his head

on my breast and just cried like his heart would break.

WALLACE: Which president was this, now?

HOLMES: President . . . not Atwood, Hill, Carl Hill.

WALLACE: Carl Hill, okay.

HOLMES: Carl Hill was a fine man. See, we had known him . .

. he was down in . . . in Tennessee State when B.T. was there for

Meharry, you see.

WALLACE: Un-huh.

HOLMES: And, uh, I didn't know them as much as Doc did, see.

But I fell in line and used to spend many a pleasant hour with

them. See, but you never let your social, uh, affiliations block

the occupational affiliations.

WALLACE: Yes. It could get rather tricky if those get


HOLMES: Yes. See, but most of the people didn't know that we

were that friendly.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: See, when she'd want to see me, she'd come on down

here. When he'd want to see me personally except something

connected with the school, he'd come down here.

WALLACE: Umhumm. Well, let me ask you, and this is just more

out of curiosity than anything else. I've attended courses at

Kentucky State, several computer courses and enjoyed them very .

. .

HOLMES: Who taught them, do you remember?

WALLACE: The professor has retired. He's an elderly white

gentleman. Oh, he's just delightful. He, uh . . . oh, what was

his name?

HOLMES: I probably wouldn't have met him because that was a

little bit far from my field.

WALLACE: Yeah. And I . . . he didn't . . . I didn't take

those courses until 1982 and 3 [1983].

HOLMES: Oh, no.

WALLACE: So, you had retired from . . .

HOLMES: No, I had retired off the campus in '73 [1973].

WALLACE: But I can't understand the source of Kentucky State's

current dilemmas and problems. It seems like for the last three

or four years . . .

HOLMES: Well, I'll say this. They get . . . the State

Journal gets all of the dilemmas, but they don't get any of the

other things. I didn't see an article in the paper about who

spoke for commencement.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: Now, that's a logical thing to put in the paper

because it's just news . . .

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: . . . one thing or the other. And we . . . Dr.

Atwood kept a file of people he was going to get for commencement

speakers . . . he asked me did I think Martin Luther King would

make a good commencement speaker. I said, "Yes." He said,

"He'll talk about Montgomery bus boycott." I said, "I don't

think so." And when they had him here, they had him in that high

school over that way, you know.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: In that new auditorium.


HOLMES: Not . . . not the high school. And I remember one of

my friends who was a shouting lady, she shouted, and, then, she

apologized. And I said, "Honey, you don't have to apologize to

me." I said, "You felt like shouting and you shouted." So,

that's it and nobody else got hurt. Of course, when she shouted,

why, they thought somebody was trying to shoot King, see.


HOLMES: Of course, we had plenty of clothed [uniformed] and

unclothed [plain clothes] policemen around.

[End of Tape #1, Side #1]

[Begin Tape #1, Side #2]

WALLACE: Let me ask you a little bit about some of the

educators that . . . that you remember here in our community,

both at Kentucky State and, uh, Mayo-Underwood, perhaps. I don't

know if you interacted with the Mayo-Underwood faculty at all.

HOLMES: Oh, yeah. I knew all of them very well. See, most

of those who were adequately trained went on up to Kentucky


WALLACE: Oh, actually did their undergraduate work at Kentucky

State, and, then, went back and taught at Mayo-Underwood? Is

that what you're . . .

HOLMES: Some of them did that. Did you know a "Plug"


WALLACE: I wish I . . . I know his wife. I told you I think I

interviewed her, but . . . [sound of knocking at door] I wish I

had met "Plug" Williams. I spoke with his wife . . .

HOLMES: Well, "Plug" taught down there, you know.

WALLACE: Yeah. Didn't he . . . did he ever teach at Kentucky

State? Didn't he . . .

HOLMES: Oh, yeah.

WALLACE: . . . go up and coach?

HOLMES: Yes. He was up at Kentucky State.

WALLACE: Well, I read a newspaper article on he and his wife

that appeared in the State Journal and he sounded like a

fascinating individual.

HOLMES: He was a fine individual.

WALLACE: Yes. Military, uh, a major or colonel.

HOLMES: Something, I don't remember what it was now. But he

was . . . he was a fine person.

WALLACE: Well, Alice Simpson.


WALLACE: Uh . . .

HOLMES: Alice Samuels.

WALLACE: Samuels, I'm sorry, Samuels.

HOLMES: She was the principal down there.

WALLACE: And Bertie Samuels . . .

HOLMES: Bertie is still living.

WALLACE: I called her and she felt a little reluctant to talk.

She said her memory wasn't quite what it once was, and she really

didn't . . . I'm going to send her a copy of my paper when I get

it done and maybe she'll reconsider because I think she would be

very interesting to talk to.

HOLMES: Well, uh, she was never a very active person


WALLACE: Ahh. Well, uh . . .

HOLMES: And that doesn't reflect on her at all.

WALLACE: Umhumm. [sound of phone ringing]

[Interruption of tape]

WALLACE: Well, when you were teaching up there and started in

'43 [1943], uh, were there white students that attended Kentucky


HOLMES: Oh, yes.

WALLACE: Ahh. There were white students even as early as '43


HOLMES: Oh, yes.


HOLMES: And we had some white teachers. One of . . . the

person who shared the office next to me was a white teacher. He

always . . . he said I was so pleasant in welcoming him to the


WALLACE: I imagine he felt a little awkward being in a black

institution or basically a black institution, I guess, and being

a white faculty member coming on to campus.

HOLMES: Well, no more awkward probably than it was for me to

go to Bucknell to school and there wasn't a Negro on the campus.

WALLACE: That's true.

HOLMES: And, you see, I walked down . . . walked down to go

class one day and the chemistry lab, they had those wide steps

all across, and somebody yelled out from an upstairs window, "Hi,

nigger." And I knew he wasn't talking to me. So, I just walked

on. [Laughter - Wallace] And a young man came off the campus,

[inaudible], took my books and escorted me to class, and I never

heard another word about it nor any other trouble. See,

sometimes it doesn't pay to try to fight. You just do your . . .

do what you're going to do.

WALLACE: The theory I've heard is that you must consider the

source of the . . . the insult and if that person has no special

meaning to you, then, what they say has no special meaning.

HOLMES: Well, I had never been known . . . see, I graduated

second honor in my high school class. I wasn't ever known to

take second place to anybody except the person that was behind me

in academic records. So, it didn't . . . it didn't worry me at


WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: I went on to class and never heard . . . you know, I

don't know whether they found the young man who called it or not,

but I wasn't concerned about that.

WALLACE: Did you encounter evidence of . . . of prejudice here

in Frankfort that you had to confront or to deal with?

HOLMES: Well, there was some things that . . . I had my own

car. So, that took care of that.

WALLACE: Was it unusual for, uh, a young black woman, even a

faculty member, to possess her own automobile and transportation?

HOLMES: No. I paid for it.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: I bought all of my cars up there at, uh, Mont- . . .

the, uh, what is that kind of car I have?

WALLACE: It looks like an Oldsmobile.

HOLMES: No, it's not an Oldsmobile.

WALLACE: I can't make it out from here.

HOLMES: It's not a Ford.

WALLACE: Chrysler probably .

HOLMES: No, I can't . . .

WALLACE: Chevrolet?

HOLMES: Chevrolet.


HOLMES: The Chevrolet place was up there on Main Street going


WALLACE: Yes, yes.

HOLMES: It's still out there and I bought many a car out

there and bought them through the bank where when I went in, the

old man who was in . . . he knew me and he said, "Well, you're

just asking for some of your money out." I said, "That's exactly

what I want."

WALLACE: Umhumm. So, you weren't borrowing money for your

purchase, you were paying for your vehicles with money . . .

HOLMES: With a check.

WALLACE: . . . you had saved.


WALLACE: Yes. I think you were quite frugal, quite, quite

frugal, excellent . . .

HOLMES: Well, uh, I think Mr. Williams thinks I was, too,

but, uh, I had a family where you had to make things go.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: I told you I had that little job stacking books when

I wasn't . . .


HOLMES: . . . hadn't finished the eighth grade.

WALLACE: Umhumm, and already working.

HOLMES: Already working. See, but it wasn't . . . and I

expected to work. I wasn't . . . I did get a scholarship. So, I

never saw a bill to go to college.

WALLACE: Oh, you received a scholarship.

HOLMES: Oh, yes. My science teacher, Mr. Mitchell, was my

science teacher in high school biology. He was a Bucknell


WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: And he got me the scholarship.

WALLACE: Ahh. So, it was a complete scholarship for all of

your undergraduate training?

HOLMES: I never paid a bill. Oh, I had some things to pay,

but most of the things were paid for.

WALLACE: Well, some of your . . .

HOLMES: I started a class and I got my written work in on

Friday night before I left. I commuted part of the time.

WALLACE: Umhumm, umhumm.

HOLMES: And I had a darling uncle, a policeman, a Negro

policeman, in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. I stood about to here

on him.


HOLMES: And when he came down there, all of the things moved.

[Laughter - Wallace] Uncle Charlie. Uncle Charlie Harris.

WALLACE: Well, do you remember J. B. Brown?


WALLACE: Principal at Mayo-Underwood.

HOLMES: Yeah, I know him.

WALLACE: See, I just know the names. I don't . . . I really .

. . don't really know anything about the personalities or their

contributions to the community.

HOLMES: Uh, I, uh . . . he was a little bit ahead of me.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: Age-wise. And I don't remember his . . . I think he

. . . he was a member of the NAACP because we had practically

100% around here. See, I . . . I . . . my husband and I have

lifetime memberships. You can see our certificates up there.

WALLACE: Ahh, yes. Do we still have a chapter here locally

that's active?


WALLACE: Who's heading it up these days? Do you know?

HOLMES: Now, you've asked me a question I don't know. I see

the announcements about it. They just had a meeting here last

week out at the Greenhill Baptist Church. And you see all of

those . . . I got from my work . . . see, I was on practically

every committee in the city except the City Commission.

WALLACE: Well, when you told me you were on the Plant Board,

that absolutely shocked me.

HOLMES: Well, I have a, uh, a compliment when I retired from


WALLACE: What led to your involvement with the Plant Board,

the City's Plant Board?

HOLMES: Well, I was on . . . sat on lots of boards. I've

been on every board down there except the City Commission.


HOLMES: I was the board that examined firemen and policemen

and rated them. Do you know a man by the name of Rosenstein

[Wolfe W. Rosenstein]?


HOLMES: Well, he was the head of it. And I worked with him

on . . . on that board for years.

WALLACE: Umhumm. But you were probably the only African-

American individual involved, I would suspect.

HOLMES: Well, some of Africans were.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: But, see, you were just an African. And we'd get the

blacks on with all of their background so they could be versed

over there when they'd go into that meeting. Then, we'd give

them the written part, and, then, we'd vote on it. And I worked

on that . . . Rosenstein wanted to retire. He was tired of it.

I think his wife died.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: And he wanted to retire. And I said, "Well, I'm

going to retire soon." I said, "If you and I stay on the same

time, we'll retire together."

WALLACE: It just amazes me the high level of involvement you

have had in the community and the city. How did you find all of

the time to raise a family and to teach . . .

HOLMES: I didn't have any children.

WALLACE: Ahh, okay.

HOLMES: That's the point. I . . . and I saw the physician.

He said, "You just don't stay still long enough." [Laughter -

Wallace] And you could see, I worked 20 years with scouts.


HOLMES: When I took the Girl Scout work, they had two troops.

When I finished, they had 12.

WALLACE: In our community here?

HOLMES: Yes, in the . . . in the Negro troops. You had 12

Negro troops.

WALLACE: That you assisted in starting.


WALLACE: Are these Boy and Girl Scout troops?

HOLMES: They were Girl Scouts.

WALLACE: Oh, Girl Scouts.

HOLMES: We had somebody else that worked with Boy Scouts.

But I worked with Girl Scouts. And I worked . . . I worked with

the Red Cross down here.

WALLACE: Un-huh.

HOLMES: I was on that board. And . . . and I said . . . I

was on the Frankfort Electric and Water Plant Board. See, Dr. .

. . Mr., uh, Sower, Sr. started putting me on boards.



WALLACE: Frank Sower.

HOLMES: No. That's . . .

WALLACE: Oh, his father.


WALLACE: His father, then.

HOLMES: The one who was the mayor first.

WALLACE: Yes, I believe it . . . I'll have to check on that.

Frank Sower was mayor before his son, John.

HOLMES: Yeah, John is the . . . well, I . . .

WALLACE: Did you . . .

HOLMES: . . . worked under both of them.

WALLACE: Ahh, I see.

HOLMES: Yeah. And, see, now, Ms. Sower was my lawyer until

she had this last child and she said she just couldn't handle it.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: It was her third child.

WALLACE: Yes. I would think that would . . . well, let me ask

you. As a leader in the education community and civically and

socially, uh, how did you react when the urban renewal project

was announced? Were you supportive of it or in opposition to it

or did you . . .

HOLMES: I was supportive of it as long as we'd all go over


WALLACE: What do you mean by that? I'm not exactly sure what

you mean.

HOLMES: What I meant was if . . . if the . . . if the . . .

if the effort was going to be a black and white effort, fine.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: I'd go along with it because that . . . that area

needed cleaning out. Doc's first office was down there on the

corner of Washington Street.

WALLACE: You say the area needed cleaning out. Was it a slum?

Was it . . .

HOLMES: No, it wasn't a slum. It was just a poor area.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: And there wasn't much else for you to go to.

WALLACE: That's what I've heard. There were very few options

for people with low or moderate incomes as far as housing. They

almost had to live . . .


WALLACE: . . . down there. There was just no other place to


HOLMES: Well, as I said, we . . . we got this house and a

flood chased . . . I went down and put on his boots and got all

of the stuff out of the office and brought it in here for the

last flood. And, then, we managed to get this house over here

and that's how the office happened to be over here.

WALLACE: Umhumm. But as far as going down into that area of

Frankfort to take a meal, say, at the Tiger Inn or . . . or at

"Shineboy's" or something like that, did you all patronize any of

the businesses over there?

HOLMES: I don't think we did very much, no.

WALLACE: I've heard that during commencement when the former

Kentucky State University students and alumni would come back

into town that it was quite an occasion, that three or four days.

HOLMES: It was quite an occasion because everybody served. I

have had this house . . . I have had one party on a Friday night

and, then, another one on a Saturday night and maybe a third one

a Monday night. My husband was an Alpha Phi Alpha life member.

I was a Delta Sigma Theta. That's our fraternities and

sororities. And we were life members of the NAACP, both of us.

They're [membership certificates] up there on the wall.

WALLACE: Un-huh.

HOLMES: And, uh, you didn't think of going out. You

entertained in your home.

WALLACE: That was quite a . . .

HOLMES: And I had . . . I used to fill both of these rooms.

I'd have card parties, have parties for my club. And, then, when

my father was here, I'd put him up one and have his friends in

the dining room. So that we made our own social life.

WALLACE: Life, apart from having to go out and . . . and to

entertain. I guess it just really wasn't the thing to do, to go

out. Like, today, everyone seems to go out to restaurants all

the time.

HOLMES: Yeah. Well, we did very little of that because, see,

you know, that last building they built up on the college campus,

they had that apartments for a while.


HOLMES: I don't know whether you know Mr. Wright, R. Wood


WALLACE: No, I don't believe I . . .

HOLMES: He was fair as you are, but he was black.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: And he was opposite me, and we'd entertain the Alphas



HOLMES: And we'd have the meeting in one of our apartments

and we'd serve them in the other.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: And we got along beautifully like that.

WALLACE: Well, given the fact you've been so active, were you

ever involved in politics at all? Did you participate either as

a leader in . . . or a supporter of any particular political

candidates or work in . . .

HOLMES: Oh, sometimes indirectly, but that was . . . I was

too busy working with my Girl Scouts, Upward Bound group. See, I

worked in the Upward Bound Program.

WALLACE: When did you get involved with Upward Bound?

HOLMES: I was in it when they started it.

WALLACE: When did they start it? I guess that's the


HOLMES: Now, I can't remember exactly. Dr. Alexander started

it. And, uh, we would have a hundred and some kids.

WALLACE: What kind of programs did you offer the children?

What . . .

HOLMES: We offered them English classes. We had a woman from

a high school out here teaching Spanish. I've forgotten her name

. . . Johnson.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: She taught them Spanish. And we had others teaching

other courses. They got paid $10 a week. Some of those kids

hadn't seen a ten dollar bill in their lives.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: And we took them on the first trip. I took them to

the public library in Louisville in groups, see. A . . . A . . .

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: A grown person would chaperone a small group. Maybe

you'd have about 12 or 15 and that was your group. And we took

them to Louisville there to eat. They had never eaten in a big

place like that.


HOLMES: And I said, "Now, you get a meat. You get vegetables,

two vegetables. You get a salad. You get your bread and you get

a desert."

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: And they'd go down there . . . I remember one boy

said, "Ms. Holmes, I got to do this, but I want that strawberry

shortcake." I said, "Well, you'll have some money left." We

appropriated each so much for his meal.


HOLMES: I said, "Now, if you . . . you . . . if you get it,

you eat it."

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: And, then, you ate with your group, see. When . . .

when your group was served, you went on with your group and took

. . . I always had Uncle Charlie to reserve a table for me down

through the war. And that to them. Then, we went over to

Shakertown and we went to . . . department store, all of those

things every weekend. Took them to baseball games.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: The only person that got lost in . . . you'd have

five buses. The only person that got lost was one of the adults.

[Laughter - Wallace] I'd tell them, I'd say, "When you get off

of your bus, take the number of your bus."

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: And I'd say, "Now . . . and don't get on any other."

And, then, I'd go along and read the roll . . .

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: . . . because I knew I had those kids to report home.


HOLMES: It was a bit of responsibility, but it was a lot of



HOLMES: See, those kids . . . for instance, we had one girl

who was so bad, she'd cuss out every teacher she had. And Al

was . . . Al was the head of it at that time, after Dr. Alexander

and I set it up. Dr. Alexander was head of the science

department and he wanted to return to his department


WALLACE: Un-huh.

HOLMES: So, he asked me, "Do you know anybody who would be

interested?" I said, "Well, I'll find somebody." So, Al had

just received his master's from Western. This young man . . .

WALLACE: Yes, yes.

HOLMES: He'd just received his master's, and, then, I had a

black woman who was forceful over in Lexington. I put her name

second. And, then, a black man from the Physical Ed Department

of the college. And I put those down in that order. So, Dr.

Alexander [said], "Which one do you recommend?" I said, "I

recommend them in the order that I have them on that . . ."

WALLACE: So, Mr. Williams took the program over then?

HOLMES: Yeah. And every week we'd take them some place.

And, of course, those kids who hadn't been anywhere, hasn't been

able to eat anywhere, it's kind . . . it's kind of eye revealing.

WALLACE: Well, it's interesting. You told me that one of the

girls thought that they were obligated to do the dishes after . .



WALLACE: . . . they ate.

HOLMES: "Do we do the dishes here?" I said, "No, you just .

. ." well, she'd never been to a place like that. How was she to


WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: And she . . . and, then, I looked at her, I said,

"Now, you fold your napkin and you put your silver across [the

plate]". And she'd whisper to the next one. And we'd send the

word around to the tables.

WALLACE: All of the children would be watching to see what

they were supposed to do?

HOLMES: And, you know, they come back now to find me.

WALLACE: Ahh. Oh, that's quite a testimony when they come

back and you see . . .

HOLMES: I have a young man who comes back every semester and

he was my chief dramatics counselor. I coached dramatics here.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: And, uh, he'll come . . . he'll come two and three

times, always twice, sometimes three times and spend hours just

talking about old times.


HOLMES: He's retired from his principalship now.

WALLACE: So, it's amazing how much of a difference that can

make in a young person's life to have . . .

HOLMES: Oh, yeah.

WALLACE: . . . that kind of attention and concern. Let me ask

you some of the black businesses . . . am I taking too long . . .

HOLMES: I have nothing I have to do.

WALLACE: Okay. Well, I just want to be sure that I'm not . .


HOLMES: I'm free for the afternoon because I have a young

lady . . . not a young lady, she's a woman who helps me out in

the mornings on Thursday and she leaves at twelve o'clock.

WALLACE: Well, I've . . . when I started the project, I was

very interested in the Bottom area and I . . . I took a list of

names of businesses and you may not have any knowledge of any of

these, so . . . but, if you do, stop me and . . . and maybe you

could recount your experiences. The Tiger Inn, Mr. Ewen Atkins'


HOLMES: Yes. I used to go to the races and . . . and bet

along with him. Sometimes I'd be lucky and he wouldn't be.

[Laughter - Wallace] Ewen Atkins. And this young man, his father

worked down there, too.

WALLACE: Oh, the . . .

HOLMES: Now, his father is the Mr. Williams who lives down

here on Second Street, where Second goes into Paul Sawyier. He

used to be head waiter at the . . . where the Senior Citizens

used to be.

WALLACE: What is . . .

HOLMES: Southern Hotel.

WALLACE: What is his father's first name?

HOLMES: William, I think.

WALLACE: William Williams.

HOLMES: Umhumm.

WALLACE: Okay. Maybe I should talk to him at some point if

he's . . .

HOLMES: Now, I'm not sure his last name is Williams though.


HOLMES: It must be, though. Yeah, it is.

WALLACE: So that . . . so, you had been in the Tiger Inn and .

. .

HOLMES: Oh, yeah.

WALLACE: . . . socialized with . . .

HOLMES: Ewen Atkins and I used to go to the Derby and he'd

bet with his scheming and I'd bet with just my . . . just I think

he's going to win. [Laughter - Wallace] I wasn't as lucky as

he, but I didn't know anything about betting.

WALLACE: Nobody has ever described, uh, Mr. Atkins to me. The

only thing I've ever heard that he was, uh, hunchback. Is that


HOLMES: Yeah. He was a little hunchback.

WALLACE: A little hunchback.

HOLMES: And a very . . . he had a very unique, clean, orderly


WALLACE: Well, people speak very highly of the Tiger Inn.

HOLMES: Oh, yes.

WALLACE: Very highly.

HOLMES: Uh, that was across from where the doctor's first

office was.

WALLACE: Umhumm. I imagine he had been in there many a time

to grab a bite or something.

HOLMES: Well, he came home most of the time.

WALLACE: Oh, for lunch? He would come home?

HOLMES: He would . . . he was a homer.

WALLACE: Ahh. [Laughing]

HOLMES: For which I'm happy since he had to leave me early.

WALLACE: Robb's Funeral Home. Do you remember Robb's, Jack

Robb's dad?



HOLMES: I should say I do. Jack . . . Jack and I were really

close. We were closer together . . . in the first march when we

had Martin Luther King over here on the steps . . .


HOLMES: When we were getting ready for that, we mapped out

certain homes that we'd have, rest homes for people who were

waiting. And they were waiting on these . . . in these homes all

around here. And when they poured down out there into the

bridge, it was tremendous the crowd that was there. And the city

said they never had had such a crowd so orderly.

WALLACE: And, so, Jack was quite involved civically and

HOLMES: Oh, yes, Jack was very involved.

WALLACE: Well, he was an entertainer in his own right, wasn't


HOLMES: That's right, a very fine pianist.

WALLACE: I'd like to try . . . his daughter, Portia, I believe

is in Louisville.

HOLMES: Yes, that's right.

WALLACE: And I hope to find her and talk with her. Jack was .

. . my interest in Jack first started when I found out he became

involved in the urban renewal program in 1965.

HOLMES: Yes, he did.

WALLACE: And I think one of the reasons he became involved is

he was so well liked and trusted by the members of the Bottom.

HOLMES: He was trusted by his black friends. He never sold

out to anybody. Jack was a dependable person. Jack would come

here, ring the doorbell . . . and, see, there was a time when I

was more active I didn't keep my door locked.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: I opened it so that you could get in with . . . see,

when I sit here alone, I don't keep it unlocked because, after

all, there's some other kinds of people around here now.


HOLMES: And they don't all know me.

WALLACE: Umhumm. It's unfortunate . . .

HOLMES: And I'm not . . . I'm not going to hurt anybody, but

I'm not going to let them hurt me if I can help it.

WALLACE: You're . . . I think you're very wise. I've heard

that the neighborhood has changed a little bit than what it used

to be.

HOLMES: Well, this is fairly good yet, but, now, there's

nobody living over there. And, uh, when in my . . . in my good

days, I used to do all of the hedge. See, the man next door, Mr.

Wilson, J. B. Wilson, worked at, uh, a place down where part of

the catholic church territory is now.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: He had a hardware business.


HOLMES: I've forgotten the name of it now. Well, uh, Jack

used to come out and he'd come and rap on the door. And he never

wanted you to think . . . see, he had some people that went over.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: As you may know. You know what I mean by going over?

WALLACE: No, I'm not really sure I do.

HOLMES: Suetta [Robb] is white and Sadie [Robb] is white.


HOLMES: And they came here to visit their mother only maybe


WALLACE: Because they didn't want to be associated with their

real . . .

HOLMES: Well, they're to "go over" and they went. I can't

blame them because in those days, it wasn't changing like it is


WALLACE: So . . .

HOLMES: And, see, I had never known it in my hometown. John

Fairfax was quite a character.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: And Isabella who was my mother and father.


HOLMES: That's my mother's mother right there. Now, she's

the youngest sister of Bishop Tanner whose son was Henry O.

Tanner, the painter.

WALLACE: Ahh, okay, okay.

HOLMES: So, you see, we have some background . . .


HOLMES: . . . that was prominent.

WALLACE: Quite a bit.

HOLMES: And we're not going to . . . well, she had her last

party when she was 96 years old. And people from all the way

around Philadelphia, Pennsylvania came in between trains and

planes just to see her.

WALLACE: Umhumm. Quite an occasion. Well, you say Jack never

went over, though. I mean . . .


WALLACE: . . . he never did . . .

HOLMES: Jack hated you to even think he would think of it.

And I . . . I used to find it difficult to pick out Portia when I

first came here, his wife. I mean, his wife. Her real name

wasn't Portia. What was it?

WALLACE: Uh . . .

HOLMES: I've forgotten.

WALLACE: I don't remember.

HOLMES: I don't remember. It will come to me in a minute.

But she used to see me, "Helen, do you know me? Do you know who

I am?" [Laughter - Wallace] It was a sort of joke with us, you


WALLACE: Un-huh. Well, some of the other besides the Tiger

Inn, Corinthian Baptist Church.

HOLMES: Oh, yes. Now, the new Corinthian is the one down


WALLACE: Murray and Second Street.


WALLACE: But the old Corinthian was quite a church, too,

wasn't it?

HOLMES: Oh, yes.

WALLACE: Beautiful, beautiful church. One of the things that

interests me is that . . . at least I suspect this is correct.

You . . . you can correct me if I'm wrong. But the black women

that I have spoken with, and it's been five or six now, were very

involved in leadership roles in the church. They might be

ushers. They might be . . .


WALLACE: . . . in charge of committees, which I don't see the

white women as involved in their churches even today. I go to

Memorial Baptist and the white women do not assume roles of

leadership in the church, other than maybe Sunday School perhaps.

But . . .

HOLMES: Well, one of the ushers lives over there, Arnice


WALLACE: It seems like to me that the role of women in the

black churches, it's much more . . .

HOLMES: You had a smaller group to pick from, too.

WALLACE: . . . important. Umhumm. What kind of roles did you

play in your church at St. John's AME? You said you were on the


HOLMES: I was on the trustee board. I was on the steward

board for about one season, and the man fired me and I thanked

him. [Laughter - Wallace] But I was a constant goer. I didn't

have many official roles because they were pretty well . . . now,

the Surratts, have you talked to them?

WALLACE: No, I have not.

HOLMES: Now, he can tell you more about that. Archie Surratt

up on the campus.

WALLACE: Okay. Archie Surratt, all right.

HOLMES: And his wife. She's still alive.

WALLACE: Really I think you're the first person I've talked to

who was not a resident of the Bottom area. I've concentrated

mostly on resi- . . . I've talked to people like Isaac Fields and

James T. Graham and . . .

HOLMES: They're good people. They . . . .

WALLACE: Ellsworth Marshall . . . Ellsworth Marshall, Jr.


WALLACE: And, oh, who else, some of the white community; R. T.

Brooks, Jo Beauchamp, Goebel McCoy, mostly folk who came up the

hard way, I guess, and worked themselves into . . .

HOLMES: There was quite, uh . . . Ewen had the . . . had the

nicest restaurant from . . .

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: . . . my point of view. And there was a nice grocery

store across the street from the office.

WALLACE: What . . . do you remember whose grocery that was,

what the name . . .

HOLMES: I'm trying to remember what the name was. I can't

remember it.

WALLACE: Let me see here. That wouldn't have been "Frog"

Wood's [Huston K. Woods] Grocery or . . .

HOLMES: Could have been.

WALLACE: There were so many of those small neighborhood



WALLACE: It's hard to keep them all straight.

HOLMES: And, see, I'm not a small grocery store shopper

usually. I shop on weekends. Kroger's is my main shopping area.

The man who is in the charge of the fruit stand up there, he

remembers me because I've been dealing with . . . and I taught


WALLACE: Ahh. [Laughing]

HOLMES: But I haven't been able to go out and do much . . .

see, that was with my . . . Mr. Williams is doing my groceries

for me today.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: And he was one of my students.

WALLACE: Ahh. Well, let me ask you. Do you remember, uh, a

restaurant run by an African-American called "Shineboy"?

HOLMES: I remember the name. I don't have much of a picture

of it one way or the other though.

WALLACE: There was a . . . a sort of a night spot that was

popular with blacks, the 99 Club.

HOLMES: Yeah, and they had a . . . they had a big three-story

place down there, somebody had.

WALLACE: Oh, the American Legion building?

HOLMES: The American Legion, I think it was.

WALLACE: Oh, yes, quite a beautiful building, quite a . . .

HOLMES: This young man is in charge of the, uh, American

Legion over here now.

WALLACE: Oh, the fellow that I met when I came in today?


WALLACE: Ahh, okay. I wish I'd known. I should have grabbed

him. Do you remember . . . here are some names of, uh, black

barbers. Fred Allen.


WALLACE: Charles William Chiles, a man sometimes . . .

HOLMES: That name doesn't ring too much of a bell.

WALLACE: "Corn Pudding" is the name that, uh, a nickname that

he used to have. Bob Martin or John Davis. Elizabeth Oglesby

had a . . .

HOLMES: Well, now, Oglesby was my barber.

WALLACE: Elizabeth.

HOLMES: I used to wear bobbed hair, cut the man's style.


HOLMES: And she was the first licensed beautician, woman

beautician in Frankfort, black.

WALLACE: Ahh. I tried . . . I've called her, but she's had a

tragedy in her family.

HOLMES: She has. She lost a daughter and . . . well, just


WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: In the last two or three weeks. And, then, the

daughter had . . . had a daughter who was getting married. It

was planned all ahead and all of this came at one time.

WALLACE: Time. She had agreed to talk with me and she was

going to get me hooked up with Dorothy Wilson and we were going

to . . .

HOLMES: Well, she lives on the end of . . . she lives over on

Second Street next to the church.

WALLACE: And, then, all of his horrible situation . . .


WALLACE: . . . occurred until . . .

HOLMES: It wasn't . . . it wasn't a time to meet anybody.

WALLACE: No, it's not. It's still not the time really. Uh,

so . . .

HOLMES: I hear that there is a possibility that her mother,

the mother of the woman who died, will not . . . she was going to

Florida to live with somebody else.


HOLMES: But I think they have convinced her that maybe when

you're as old as I am, you don't seek a new place to live.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: See, if I had to go now to, say, Dakota someplace,

I'd feel very much more alone than I do here.

WALLACE: Umhumm. Well, here, you're surrounded by some

familiar places and faces and friends and former students.

HOLMES: Oh, yes.

WALLACE: Well, so, Ms. Oglesby would do your hair. It sound

like you had rather a venturesome haircut, to have a man's bob .

. .

HOLMES: I did have a manish bob.

WALLACE: That was probably . . . you were one of the first . .


HOLMES: And I wore it tossed up on the side of my head like

that, see. One of . . . the lady that works here, she said,

"Well," [inaudible]. She said she liked the way I wore my hair

[laughter - Wallace] because I had been wearing it that way.

WALLACE: Well, Ms. . . .

HOLMES: I had hair down my back one time, and I saw it was

too much trouble putting it up.


HOLMES: So, I bobbed it and let it go.

WALLACE: Where was Ms. Oglesby's beautician shop? Wasn't that

on . . .

HOLMES: It was down there . . . on the same street as the

back street to the old Capitol.

WALLACE: Yes, okay.

HOLMES: Umhumm. That's where it was.

WALLACE: Was that sort of a rough area of town, a violent

area, would you say?

HOLMES: I wouldn't say it was very violent. It wasn't that .

. . it wasn't very wealthy.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: But she had a nice place.

WALLACE: Black and white clientele?

HOLMES: No, just black.

WALLACE: Black. Yeah. I hope once things settle down, I'd

love to talk to her. She sounded like a delightful woman on the


HOLMES: She is. I think she will be, and, uh, I can . . .

Dorothy . . . Dorothy Wilson is who you mentioned.


HOLMES: She lives around here and I could find out what she's

doing and kind of give you a cue on her.

WALLACE: I would appreciate that. I would appreciate that

because I hate . . . I don't want to impose on people and . . .

HOLMES: Well, I wondered why you wanted to interview me.

WALLACE: Because of your leadership role in the community.

Most of the . . .

HOLMES: I didn't know you knew anything about it.

WALLACE: Well, a few people have mentioned your name to me, a

few. And were very favor . . . I'll tell you one story that's

told on you and it's a nice story. It's after a meeting, and I

think this was an NAACP meeting, the meeting adjourned and . . .

and the folk came to your house sort of to relax. And you said,

"Now, you men, you loosen your ties and you take off your coats

and you gals, I know you're all bound up in those girdles and

things. You just go ahead and loosen that up." And, uh, this

fellow that told me the story just laughed and laughed. He said

that was indicative of the kind of . . . of warmth and open

personality that you had. And that . . . I thought that was a

cute story.

HOLMES: I used to have a lot of entertaining to do, too.

See, I had my two frats. My husband was a Mason. I was not.

And, then, there was the Woman's Progressive Club, there was the

Chairman's Club, the [inaudible] and by the time they'd get

around to you once a year, you'd know it.

WALLACE: Yeah. Be very busy. Do you remember a man by the

name of Earl Tracy?

HOLMES: Sure, sure. His wife is a . . . is a club member of



HOLMES: We outbid him in getting this house. [Laughter -


WALLACE: I didn't know that. His wife is still living?

HOLMES: Oh, yes.

WALLACE: What is her name now?

HOLMES: Uh, Julia.

WALLACE: Julia Tracy.

HOLMES: Julia Tracy. And she lives up, uh, on the college


WALLACE: Ahh, okay.

HOLMES: When you go in that . . . up the . . . as you turn

off to the athletic field, you don't make that turn, you keep on

going right.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: And when you get to the houses, there was the Bakers,

the first house, and, then, Tracys.

WALLACE: Ahh, all right.

HOLMES: And, then, you have another street, and, then,

another big house there. It's on the corner.

WALLACE: Umhumm. Is that the same subdivision when you go

back in there, uh, George Simmons and . . .


WALLACE: . . . Dr. Cheaney and, uh, . . .

HOLMES: Yeah. Cheaney. They live almost . . . directly

across from Cheaney.

WALLACE: Ahh, okay.

HOLMES: Now, Cheaney is a real character. He was graduate of

Kentucky State, you know.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: He was one of the two who, uh, did all of their work

here, and, then, went ahead from there. And Clara Smith's

husband, have you heard anything about her?

WALLACE: No, no.

HOLMES: Now, Clara . . .

[End of Tape #1, Side #2]

[Begin Tape #2, Side #1]

WALLACE: . . . trying to remember and the associations. Uh,

the reason I got Earl Tracy's name is, of course, his nephew, uh,

Henry . . . the twins, Henry and Bob, uh, Sanders, I believe,

drove taxis for their uncle. That was one of the their . . .

HOLMES: I didn't know they were related. Now, you've told me


WALLACE: Ahh. Well, I believe so. I believe that was . . .

HOLMES: Well, that could be.

WALLACE: Because, uh, at that time . . .

HOLMES: Because we bought this house, it was built . . . Mr.

Hall lived down there, a Negro built this house and the house

next to us.

WALLACE: Oh, so, a black craftsman built the house?


WALLACE: A carpenter.

HOLMES: Did a darn good job, too.

WALLACE: Yeah. It's a beautiful home.

HOLMES: Now, I have a dining room back there and a bath and

a pantry. And upstairs I have three bedrooms and a den and a

bath. So, it's not a small house.

WALLACE: I have some other names of people that you might have

remembrances of. Dr. Underwood.

HOLMES: Oh, yes. I didn't know him. He . . . he was a

doctor who was here and died before B.T. came.

WALLACE: Oh, I see, passed away before your husband . . .


WALLACE: . . . established his practice. Will Castleman

[William S. Castleman].

HOLMES: That name rings a bell, but I can't associate

anything with it. Was he white or black?

WALLACE: He was a black man who was somewhat of a political

leader in the . . .

HOLMES: Oh, wait a minute. Go ahead.

WALLACE: He, uh, he worked at a number of businesses in the,

uh, the old Bottom area and, uh, was quite adept at turning out

the black vote.

HOLMES: Well, I can imagine he would be.

WALLACE: I think I have a picture of him here. A big tall man

with a deep voice.

HOLMES: Castleman?

WALLACE: Castleman.

HOLMES: Did you know Lyman Johnson? He was from Louisville?

WALLACE: Well, he was a politician, wasn't he?


WALLACE: In the Kentucky General Assembly.

HOLMES: See that picture there?

WALLACE: Ahh, yes, yes. Now, is he still involved in

politics? I don't . . .

HOLMES: I don't know. I haven't heard anything about him for


WALLACE: I don't think he is.

HOLMES: I don't think he is now, not after, because this was

. . . see, this was published in '78 [1978].

WALLACE: Oh, that's quite a while, quite a while.

HOLMES: So, you see, that's a little bit old.

WALLACE: Well . . .

HOLMES: Do you have anything about Alvin Fields?

WALLACE: No, I don't.

HOLMES: Or Lyman Johnson who was the one that they fought to

get in UK?

WALLACE: No, I had not, uh . . .

HOLMES: Here it is now.

WALLACE: You've got a picture of him.

HOLMES: The one over here. See, Lyman Johnson. He was a

test case we had sending a Negro to UK.

WALLACE: Seek to desegregate the University of Kentucky. So,

he would have been the first African-American to attend the

University of Kentucky?

HOLMES: I should imagine.

WALLACE: 1949.

HOLMES: And I have a friend now who heads the nursing

department over there that, uh, uh, up on the campus. You don't

know him, do you?

WALLACE: No, no. I . . . I attend at night and I only take

one course a semester and I deal with the history faculty. So,

I'm pretty limited.

HOLMES: Who is in history now?

WALLACE: Well . . .

HOLMES: That was Cheaney's department.

WALLACE: Yes. There's a young woman . . . there's really only

one or two members. I can't think of her name. I'm more

acquainted with the University of Kentucky history faculty than

the Kentucky State. I can't think of this woman's name who . . .

HOLMES: Go ahead. You were asking me something

WALLACE: John Buckner. Do you remember . . .

HOLMES: Oh, John Buckner was a good friend of ours.

WALLACE: Oh, really?

HOLMES: Oh, yeah.

WALLACE: What are your remembrances of Mr. Buckner?

HOLMES: Mr. Buckner was a fine man who when he liked you,

he'd give you his heart. That carved chair, when we moved in

here, that's a hand-carved chair. Now, I don't know where he got

it. You know, he lived with . . . he worked for the Berrys.

WALLACE: Yes, I've heard that.

HOLMES: So, you see that. And they were really fond of us.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: And if you ever said you liked anything in the house,

it would be in your house before long.


HOLMES: So, I learned not to openly admire things because she

would have given me the tablecloth on the table . . .


HOLMES: . . . if I'd said I liked it.

WALLACE: Well, Mr. Buckner was a very successful individual.

HOLMES: Very successful person. His [people] have a home

over there on Second Street.

WALLACE: Are any of his people still alive or have they all

gone on?

HOLMES: Not . . . I don't know who the Buckners were. But

his wife . . . his wife had a sister in Chicago.


HOLMES: And there's a . . . there's a relative who lives in

that little house next to where the Buckner lived. Did you know

where the Buckners lived?

WALLACE: No, no, I did not, no.

HOLMES: Well, uh, here's a church up at the corner.


HOLMES: Then Dorothy Wilson and there's another house, and

the one . . . Ms. . . . or the next one. The organist from First

Baptist Church lives in the next house and, then, the Buckners.

It's the house with the little hedge around it. I'll find it for

you in the telephone book.

WALLACE: So, Ms. Wilson lives right adjacent to the church,

then? Her home . . .


WALLACE: . . . is adjacent to the church ground?

HOLMES: Adjacent to the church ground.


HOLMES: On Second Street side.


HOLMES: And she's a native here, too.

WALLACE: There was an individual by the name of Thomas "Black

Cat" Graham, the husband of Anne Graham. Anne was quite a


HOLMES: She still is. Some of her people still are. Did you

know the Reverend Hodge in Louisville that was, uh, . . .

WALLACE: No, no. I don't believe I . . . see, I grew up in

the days before, uh, the school . . .

HOLMES: Before it broke up.

WALLACE: Yeah. I graduated in 1975 from Marion C. Moore High

School in Jefferson.

HOLMES: Oh, that's . . . that's like . . . you're actually

youngest compared to when I graduated. [Laughter]


HOLMES: I finished high school in 1920, finished college in

'24, [1924] Bucknell.

WALLACE: Yes. Well, I . . .

HOLMES: And you don't think it's fitting that I . . . I went

to school when I got the money. Do you know when I finished high

school, people gave me over $300 in cash to go to college?


HOLMES: I had taught . . . I sold Pure's stain remover and

was [inaudible] toilet products. After I'd come in from school,

I'd go out in the evenings and sell those things; and if I didn't

have . . . cleared enough to catch my commuter ticket, Uncle

Charlie would refinance me. Uncle Charlie was a very tall,

handsome guy.

WALLACE: The policeman.

HOLMES: The policeman.


HOLMES: And was a typical policeman. He was a very integral

policeman. He hunted and always got his quota of deer and bear.


HOLMES: He was an outdoor person.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: He was my mother's . . .

WALLACE: So, you would come home from school and sell products

door to door.

HOLMES: Yeah. How are you going to get money otherwise? You

didn't hold people up.

WALLACE: Do you remember "Tubba" Marshall?


WALLACE: He was quite a leader, I would say.

HOLMES: Yes, he was.

WALLACE: Didn't he run for elective office in Frankfort?

HOLMES: I think they all ran for the City Commissioner.

WALLACE: Commission. No black has ever won.

HOLMES: They never won.

WALLACE: And I cannot understand.

HOLMES: There's a young man up here running now, Graham. I

have a ticket for you. I'll give you one.

WALLACE: All right.

HOLMES: But, see, they think . . . now, "Buddy" Ellis used to

work at that grocery store there, Noonan's Grocery.


HOLMES: And he thought everybody was going to vote for him

because they all knew him because he worked there. But they



HOLMES: See, voting for you, and, then, recognizing you when

you work at one of our stores are two entirely different things.

WALLACE: Things. Well, and George Simmons ran and he, uh, was


HOLMES: John Buckner ran.

WALLACE: John Buckner, "Tubba" Marshall. It . . . I don't

know. It says something to me that so many capable blacks have

run but, yet, cannot seem to get elected.

HOLMES: Well, I don't think they . . . well, a lot of the

Negroes here now don't know them like I know them.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: Yeah. I've been here since '43 [1943].

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: And because of my husband's practice, I learned a lot

about them, too.

WALLACE: Do you remember an elderly African-American gentleman

nick . . . nickname was "Squeezer". "Squeezer" Brown.

HOLMES: Yeah, "Squeezer" Brown, sure do.

WALLACE: He was . . . he was beloved, many happy . . .

HOLMES: Everybody . . . everybody liked him.

WALLACE: He would, uh, sing, had a guitar, and I've heard that

he often treated neighborhood children to soft drinks and candy

and . . .

HOLMES: Yeah. We had some . . . we had some nice people.

Who was that first person on this list . . .

WALLACE: Oh. Let's see, I had the name. Oh, Will Castleman

[William S. Castleman].

HOLMES: I don't know whether he's in there or not.

WALLACE: I sort of doubt it.

HOLMES: Do you remember when we had two Negroes in the


WALLACE: Oh, we had an African-American woman.

HOLMES: Two women. One was in the Senate and one was in the


WALLACE: Georgia Powers.

HOLMES: Georgia Powers and Mae Street Kidd.

WALLACE: I remember Georgia Powers.

HOLMES: Do you have that in there?

WALLACE: She was very prominent for quite a while, quite a


HOLMES: Oh, yeah. I don't know whether she's still alive or


WALLACE: She's no longer serving in the Senate. I know that.

HOLMES: Oh, no. She hasn't been up here for sometime.

WALLACE: And Mae Street Kidd, I really did not know.

HOLMES: They all favored Jack when they came in.

WALLACE: Oh, really?

HOLMES: Umhumm. Well, Jack was a sort of, uh, everybody knew


WALLACE: Do you remember Maggie Knott, Maggie and Bob Knott?


WALLACE: I went and talked to Maggie. They . . . they had run

or managed several businesses in the North Frankfort area. She

was quite nice. I enjoyed talking with her.

HOLMES: She was . . . I don't . . . I didn't know her too

well. I knew . . . I knew her well enough . . . you know, quite

well, but, I mean, we were not close friends.

WALLACE: Let's see. That's about . . . the Reverend W. R.

Hutchison. I believe he was at First . . . the black First

Baptist Church in the late fifties [1950's].

HOLMES: Yeah, is where this man is at.

WALLACE: Yes. I had quite a wonderful time talking to Ms.

Berry. Good grief. Mary . . . Mary Emma, Emma Mary [Mary Helen

Berry]? Lives at the corner of Hoge and Holmes Street. You . .

. you possibly might know her.

HOLMES: I think I know of the people. She's not a close

friend of mine.


HOLMES: But, uh, she's old . . . well, she's . . . she's

quite elderly.

WALLACE: Yes. Oh, she's . . .

HOLMES: Because I think she's older than I am.

WALLACE: Yes, I believe she is. And we talked, uh, . . . used

to be one of the things in the first . . . I don't know if is . .

. was true of St. John's AME, but in her church, First Baptist,

on Sundays, they would have anthems. They'd sing anthems. And

she said the whites would come . . .

HOLMES: Oh, yeah.

WALLACE: . . . and it was quite, uh, a place where, I guess,

you could interact, socially interact.

HOLMES: Well, that person, that other name, isn't in here. I

thought it was in here for something because these are people

that made civic appointments. Did you know Reverend . . . Mr.



HOLMES: From, uh, Monticello, umhumm.

WALLACE: Monticello, no.

HOLMES: Well, you must not have because, uh, . . . here's

that Lyman Johnson you was . . . I showed him, though, didn't I?

WALLACE: Yes, yes.

HOLMES: Well, the person I was looking for isn't in there.

Well, now, what do you do with all of this stuff that you've been

talking about?

WALLACE: Well, I'm hoping that the Oral History Commission

will give me a grant to have all of the tapes transcribed so they

can be typed up. Then, I would like to write a paper, perhaps 50

to 100 pages in length, on life in the North Frankfort area,

particularly the Bottom section in the 1930's, '40's {1940s]and

'50's [1950s] focusing on the urban renewal project and the im-

pact of the urban renewal project upon the black community. Some

of the people I've spoken with claim that . . . well, as you said

earlier, you were for urban renewal as long as blacks and whites

were united in that. But some of the people I've talked to said

that the urban renewal project split the black community; that

there were blacks that were angry and upset about the project;

did not want it to proceed; and, then, there was another group

that said, yes, this will be good for Frankfort or good for us.

HOLMES: Well, I think . . . I think that, you're right, your

evaluation was a good one. But anytime you move a pattern of

living, you're going to have people who favor it and people who

don't. Right?

WALLACE: Yes. Anything that substantial.


WALLACE: I think one of the concerns, and you might correct

this, no one I have spoken to up to this point remembers that any

black person was involved in the planning for urban renewal, on

the Slum Clearance Commission or on any special board or . . .

HOLMES: I don't think there was unless Jack might have had

some contact. And the white person that worked with him, I can't

remember who he was now.

WALLACE: Would it have been, uh, oh, Gene Hines or . . .

HOLMES: Yeah, Gene Hines might have been.

WALLACE: Yes. There was a man by the name of Charles R.

Perry. I don't know if you had any kind of . . .

HOLMES: I don't remember that name.

WALLACE: Frank Lewis was involved with the . . . Jack Rhorer

was involved with the, uh . . . or Farnham Dudgeon . . .

HOLMES: Umhumm.

WALLACE: . . . was involved with the, uh, was one of the

guiding lights, I guess, of the slum clearance project. And, of

course, got the Civic Center named after him.

HOLMES: Well, I guess it was unfortunate that all of the poor

area was in the slum clearance area.

WALLACE: Umhumm. Well, so many people had a difficult time

finding relocation housing.


WALLACE: I don't know if any of your friends or acquaintances

experienced that who lived down there, but . . .

HOLMES: Well, some of them moved up there, uh, above the


WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: Going out, uh . . .

WALLACE: East Main Street?

HOLMES: Going out East Main, and, then, taking a turn-off

back of the college.

WALLACE: Umhumm. Well, there was an apartment complex built

back in there; I think Sutterlin Place.


WALLACE: And some people relocated there. Uh, the thing that

I've heard from a number of residents is they were led to believe

that once the dilapidated buildings were removed, that you could

buy back and come back into the area and that more appropriate

housing would be built.

HOLMES: But it didn't work that way.


HOLMES: And I didn't expect it to.

WALLACE: Ahh, you didn't?

HOLMES: No, I didn't believe it because if they . . . if they

wanted to do that, why didn't they just go take an individual

area and buy it out and rebuild it?

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: In other words, that would have . . . that would have

accomplished the same thing getting rid of the slum. But they

wanted that big area for their hotel.

WALLACE: So, you think early on, they had determined that

their goal would be to apply the entire area for . . .

HOLMES: Yeah, I took that for granted. They took too much.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: See, they couldn't have expected . . . the Negroes

who lived there to build up [homes] to that quality [to meet

housing codes].

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: And they couldn't expect the college people to go

down that far downtown.

WALLACE: Un-huh.

HOLMES: You took it out of the range of those who had the

best income. See what I mean?

WALLACE: Were the college people more or less, uh, would they

have found it to live in that area to be not only inconvenient,

as you just said, too far, but socially, would that have

stigmatized them to have lived in that . . .

HOLMES: I don't think so.

WALLACE: Okay. That would not have been a factor?

HOLMES: Well, we went down . . . we went down there. I know

the NAACP used to meet at all of the churches.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: And that was never . . . there was never any stigma

about that. But I think that was because of the people who

worked with it, see.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: If you work with a thing, it becomes . . . it becomes

part of what you are.

WALLACE: Well, let me ask you. Did you attend any of the

public hearings regarding the slum clearance?

HOLMES: Uh-uh.

WALLACE: See, when the project was first announced, the mayor

was John Gerard. I don't know if you remember John.

HOLMES: I remember the name, but I didn't know him.

WALLACE: Yeah. Paul Judd took over after . . .


WALLACE: . . . Mr. Gerard, uh, lost an election, basically is

what it was. And there were several public hearings where

residents and concerned members of the community could . . .

could go and voice their opinions.

HOLMES: Well, I don't . . . I know I didn't go to any of

them. I don't think I did.

WALLACE: Well, your husband was very articulate. He attended

. . .

HOLMES: Well, he might have been.

WALLACE: He attended, uh, a meeting in front of the Fiscal

Court. I remember reading in the newspaper article, and his

concern was the relocation of his business because he had his

practice over there and his office over there, and he was afraid

that . . .

HOLMES: And he did . . . he did not want to be considered the

school physician alone.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: See, that's the reason . . . see, he, at one time,

did examine all of the students. But he got a group of his

classmates from Meharry to come from their various practices and

they took that as a vacation period and came on and examined the

students. He didn't want his job to be an off-shoot of a campus


WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: He was a college physician. Whoever wanted him for a

physician came to him. No white person came and no black person

came because they were commanded to. He had as many white

patients, maybe more white patients than he had black.

WALLACE: I would think that would have been unusual for that

day, to have both white and black patients.

HOLMES: It didn't seem to make a bit of difference to him.

WALLACE: Yeah. I imagine he worked . . .

HOLMES: Dr. . . . Sanderson . . . Sanderson, the plumber, I

don't know whether you knew him or not. Did you know him?

WALLACE: No, I don't believe.

HOLMES: Well, he was an outstanding plumber, lived . . . you

know where the state Capitol building is and you make that

turn-around in there.


HOLMES: He lived out that way.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: Has a lovely home out there. Well, now, uh, . . .

WALLACE: He was a patient of your husband's?

HOLMES: Yeah. He . . . the doctor spent many a night out

there when I would wake up and he wouldn't be there. He'd got a

call. And he spent many a night just by his bedside.

WALLACE: I imagine there was a lot of nights when your husband

was called out on . . .

HOLMES: Oh, yeah. He was one of the few doctors still making

house calls.

WALLACE: Ahh. That was probably rather hard because that

would interrupt your all's social occasions and your evenings

together and . . .

HOLMES: Well, I got used to that. And I didn't have any

children, and the only comment I ever could get from the doctor

was, "You just don't stay still long enough," [laughter] which

meant I probably was too busy seeing after children to have them

anyhow. I worked 20 years in Girl Scouts. I worked with the Red

Cross. I worked with the Cancer Society, NAACP and you name it.

WALLACE: Well, I remember you telling me that when you came

here, there were two Girl Scout troops and you built it up to 12

Girl Scout troops.

HOLMES: Yeah, well, with help, yes.

WALLACE: Well, as far as . . . I'm trying to think.

HOLMES: Nobody ever does anything by himself. But you lent

yourself to it. See, on days, we'd go to church together, all of

the troops; and if you were a member of the committee, you were

assigned to a troop and you sat with your troops. So, I didn't

have to . . . to worry about their conduct, see. And we've gone

to church . . . when the Corinthian Baptist was down there in

that area, we have taken over half of the church with the Girl

Scouts. And on the last time we went, we had three young people

join church that Sunday.


HOLMES: So, it had . . . it had its good points.

WALLACE: Umhumm. Well, 12 troops, you probably had well over

150 girls in . . .

HOLMES: Oh, yeah, we had a lot of girls. And we'd put on . .

. the families would make things and we'd take them into the

windows, the store windows. Hudson's would house our windows and

we'd have some pretty handwork put in there.

WALLACE: Oh, crafts that the girls had made themselves would

be displayed?

HOLMES: Or that their parents had made and sent down there.


HOLMES: Those were good days.

WALLACE: Active days for you, very active.

HOLMES: But, see, I had . . . I don't know whether you knew

the Watkins here. They lived up above the college.

WALLACE: No, I don't . . .

HOLMES: On Main Street. Now, see, I had quite a few women

who wanted to work with Girl Scouts but they didn't want to take

troops. Well, she wanted to be on the committee. And, uh, one

cold night, they came here and I said, "I'm going to make some

hot chocolate" and, then, I hurried up and made up one of those

box cakes.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: And served it. So, they said, "Well, we'll run a

turn." And we made it a rule that who is going to take the next

meeting. You never had to worry about who would take it because

someone would always volunteer. But they'd serve what they


WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: And if you wanted to serve ginger ale and . . . and

pretzels, you did. Nobody said it had to be anything. And, you

know, Ms. Watkins took her turn. She served a turkey dinner

served by her husband. [Laughter - Wallace] A turkey dinner

with all of the trimmings.

WALLACE: Good grief. [Laughing]

HOLMES: And Ms. Simpson over here, she . . . she . . . she

took care of any kid that didn't have a uniform. I have been out

at twelve o'clock at night getting a kid's uniform to her so she

could appear in church the next Sunday. And, Lord, there was . .

. there was . . . down there in the Bottom, that was, too. And I

had men come to me and say, "Ms. Holmes, anytime you have to come

over here to see about your husband or anything, you just let us

know and we'll take care of you." So, I was never afraid over


WALLACE: To go down into that area.

HOLMES: No. Well, there was some bad characters and they

weren't all black either.

WALLACE: Well . . .

HOLMES: But there seldom are when they're . . . when they

have [inaudible] and they're black.

WALLACE: Well, many . . . many of the people I've talked to

feel that the Bottom is unfairly stigmatized . . .

HOLMES: It was.

WALLACE: . . . as a violent area or as, uh, as a red light

district when, in effect, it was mainly folk from lower socio-

economic classes who were poor poor.

HOLMES: Just poor and didn't have it. I know I took an

outfit to a girl and my husband found out where I went way after

dark. It was around eleven o'clock. He was scared to death, and

I said, "But the men told me just to let them know." And you

had, uh, a man had a grocery store . . . had a store. He was a

white man that had a store. He used to tell the people to go

over to Doc and pay your bill and he would get after them if they

didn't pay their bills. And they paid their bills.


HOLMES: And he was a white man.

WALLACE: Well, I've heard that the blacks and whites who lived

in the area had . . . there were good race relations . . .


WALLACE: That people looked after each other. And if you were

in that community and known to the members and a part of the

community that, uh, there was a closeness.

HOLMES: They helped me set up . . . see, I set up . . . his

first office was down there in that area.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: I can't remember . . . and, then, he moved to his

house. But, uh, he used to send the people to Doc.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: And to make you pay your bill.

WALLACE: Did your husband treat the indigents as well as those

who could afford? I mean, did he . . .

HOLMES: Oh, yeah. He never refused a person. He finally got

his money usually.

WALLACE: Umhumm. And he was in practice up until his death or

. . .

HOLMES: He practiced . . . in '83 [1983], we closed the


WALLACE: So, from . . .

HOLMES: And we gave his things to one of these, uh, C . . .

not CLL. That's a late company. You've heard of that, too,

haven't you?


HOLMES: Crystal Lake something?

WALLACE: Crystal Lake.

HOLMES: They come through with a truck every now and then and

pick up things that you don't need anymore.

WALLACE: Ahh, okay.

HOLMES: Well, we thought of these places . . . oh, I can't

think of the names of these companies. We had one in the church,

but they didn't need the things.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: And, so, we gave it all to a, uh, a school or

something which they had a medical service.

WALLACE: Ahh. So, you donated his equipment.

HOLMES: Donated everything that we didn't bring home.

WALLACE: So, he was in practice in Frankfort . . .

HOLMES: And, see, all of those books of his but you don't . .

. what are you going to do with books? Now, I have that many

more upstairs.

WALLACE: Good grief. Quite a comprehensive library that he


HOLMES: He did. And he used his library, see.

WALLACE: He would have been in practice from 1947 to 1983



WALLACE: That was the . . . did any other black physicians

come into the community during that time?

HOLMES: There was one leaving when he finished school.

WALLACE: Umhumm. I remember you told me that.

HOLMES: And nobody came. And one reason I didn't convert it

into something else immediately after he quit was the fact that I

thought somebody might come. Well, when they didn't come, I just

converted it into a, uh, a home.

WALLACE: Umhumm. I think Frankfort currently only has one

black, uh . . . a dentist, I believe, has recently come into the

community that I've heard of.

HOLMES: I think so. I . . . I . . . he's a son of one of my



HOLMES: I've forgotten what his name is now. I just heard

about it recently.

WALLACE: Well, of the changes that you've seen in the black

community in the years that you have been here, Frankfort's black

community, does anything stick in your mind as being significant

change that has taken place here and a change that has affected

the nature of the black community?

HOLMES: I don't think the churches are quite as, uh, central

an influence as they once were.

WALLACE: What would you attribute that to?

HOLMES: Well, I don't think they're . . . I don't think . . .

well, you see in the AME Church, you could only stay as long as

your bishop sends you, where in the Baptist Church, you can stay

as long as they don't fire you or you find a better job. Now,

see, the present pastor down at First Baptist, he told me once he

was going to Detroit or someplace. I don't know what he said. I

won't say where. And the next time . . . they had some trouble

there and he decides not to go. And I said, "What are you doing,

running away from trouble?" I said, "You can't handle it, can

you?" And he got mad at me. [Laughter - Wallace] Of course, I

was telling him the truth. He was going there as long as he

didn't have . . . there was any trouble. When he found out there

was a trouble, he wouldn't . . . but I don't blame him for not

going if he didn't want to.

WALLACE: Yeah. Well, it . . . the church at one time was a

very positive and powerful influence.

HOLMES: Umhumm.

WALLACE: What kind of . . . how did that influence express

itself? That's a pretty vague question.

HOLMES: Had good attendance, in support of activities that

the churches sponsored.

WALLACE: What kind of activities did St. John's AME sponsor

over the years that you were involved in?

HOLMES: Well, we had a pretty strong movement of young

people's organization. Had a pretty strong church, but we always

had a debt. I've . . . don't . . . please don't mention this

any. I just gave them as part of my will a $1,000 to take care

of a sidewalk that they had to put in.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: Now, I gave it to . . . they'd had that as a debt for

over a year. And I said, "I'm tired of hearing about the glass

windows that hasn't been paid for and the carpet that hasn't been

paid for and the pavement. I want to give you this now, not wait

till I die." See, my husband was buried from there, too.

WALLACE: Ahh, okay. That was very generous of you to help

support them.

HOLMES: Well, that's my church, you see. I'm an AME. Her

husband was an AME pastor. He built . . . he paid for the church

at home, Williamsport, Pennsylvania church.

WALLACE: Ahh. Well, was any benevolence work done by St.

John's AME for the indigent in the area down there?

HOLMES: I don't think so.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: I think they might have helped independently or

separately, but not . . . not as a church. I don't think. Now,

I wouldn't . . . I wouldn't like to speak on that.

WALLACE: One of the stories about, uh, support organizations,

the Salvation Army used to perform on the street corners down in

Bottom area giving concerts and . . . one of the churches I've

heard that was active down . . . Bethel Temple. But I don't know

anything about Bethel Temple. I believe it was sort of a

holiness church or . . .

HOLMES: Well, uh . . .

WALLACE: Do you know anything on Bethel . . .

HOLMES: The Salvation Army allowed a group I was working with

to collect furniture and repair and receive things to give to

poor. And we took the back offices. You know this new place out

on . . . the place where that ship went over the dam?

WALLACE: Yeah, yeah.

HOLMES: That place on the side. Well, when they built that,

we took a lot of things and fixed them for these poor people who

were moving in.

WALLACE: Ahh, yeah. The Riverview . . . Riverview Homes.


WALLACE: The public housing project. That's what you're

talking about.

HOLMES: And, see, Jack worked with that, too.

WALLACE: Umhumm. Yeah, I've read some of the correspondence

that he had when he was helping relocate people into the project.

HOLMES: Yeah. And we would . . . I've gone out there many

a-time and was hanging curtains for them, washing curtains,

hanging curtains. We even had a man try to paint a . . . a bed,

one of those brass beds, you know.


HOLMES: He tried to paint it. [Laughter - Wallace] It

didn't look so hot, but at least he was trying to fix things up

and make them look nice.

WALLACE: Well, did the people who moved into the public

housing project, uh, were they local residents who were being

relocated from the Bottom area?

HOLMES: Yeah, I'd say they were local area. Well, they

didn't have much of any place to go. If you didn't have money

enough to buy a place in another area, where would you have to


WALLACE: You'd have to go to public housing almost.


WALLACE: Unless you could find some private . . .

HOLMES: And Jack was very . . . Jack was a good intermediary

person. He could get them to do what they had to do . . .

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: . . . with less feeling of dishonor.

WALLACE: Well, that was one of the real problems early on

before Jack got involved. A lot of the residents did not trust

the white officials that they had to deal with.

HOLMES: No. I couldn't blame them either.

WALLACE: Why do you say that?

HOLMES: There had never been any background for setting up

any trust.


HOLMES: There had never been any trust before. Why should I

trust you now? Someone keeps after your home and finally gets it

out because they say it's too bad looking, he hasn't help you

make it look any better. He hasn't helped you keep a job.

WALLACE: So, in other words, the people who created and

perpetuated the bad conditions suddenly come in and say, well,

you can't keep your home because . . .

HOLMES: Your place doesn't look like anything. It's poor and


WALLACE: Well, that's funny. One of . . . I'll tell you the

story. One of the results of the urban renewal was the

establishment of building and housing codes.

HOLMES: Umhumm.

WALLACE: So, they set up the building and housing codes . . .

when I say they, the city, and, then, they turn around and use

those same codes to condemn the houses that they were not

enforcing the landlords to keep up.

HOLMES: That's it exactly.

WALLACE: It's just . . .

HOLMES: I know when the floods came, I used to take students

from the campus after the floods would go down and go to the

elderly people's homes.


HOLMES: Scotts and others in that area and help them get

their houses put together. And they'd say, "Well, how much do we

pay?" I said, "We did not come for pay." I said, "If you have

any cookies," I said, "the kids might enjoy eating a couple of

cookies while they're in your house." But I have taken them down

and taken two here and two there and around in there helping them

get their houses straightened again.

WALLACE: Umhumm. Somebody was talking about the Scotts the

other day. Uh, they had to go back into debt when they bought

their home.


WALLACE: So many of the elderly people had paid for their

homes, the ones that owned property.


WALLACE: And, then, had to go back and borrow money to acquire

another piece of property. Felt like they did not get a . . .

HOLMES: A man who worked on cars lived next door to the

Scotts [Ernest Wooldridge]. I can't think of his name. He

bought up there back of the college after you make . . .

WALLACE: Is it a black mechanic? Was that . . .


WALLACE: Blythe, would that have been?

HOLMES: It doesn't sound right.


HOLMES: I can't remember that name.

WALLACE: Didn't he have an auto repair shop down there


HOLMES: Yeah, in his yard.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: It was right opposite the school.

WALLACE: Yes, yes.

HOLMES: I can't think of his name. He, uh, he hasn't been

dead too long, I don't think. I used to go . . . when he bought

his house up here on the hill, I used to go and visit him.

WALLACE: Umhumm. So, the Kentucky State students, assisted by

the faculty and yourself, would actually go back in and help

clean up after the floods?

HOLMES: Oh, it was a purely personal thing. I'd just get

some kids and they'd . . . I'd say, "Don't you want to go down

and help me?"

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: And I'd put two here and two there. And, then,

they'd . . . the school didn't harness anybody at all.

WALLACE: You just . . . your personal . . .

HOLMES: Just a personal friend, yes.

WALLACE: Did . . . did individuals who were relocating as a

result of a flood, would they . . . did you ever house anybody

who had been forced to leave their home, temporarily put them up

here or in friend's homes during the flooding periods?

HOLMES: I think when they were flooding, I was getting out,

too. [Laughing - Wallace] I told you I got my husband's boots on

and I didn't think I'd ever get home. I thought my foot was

coming . . . I had to put him in here the last time they had a


[End of Tape #2, Side #1]

[Begin Tape #2, Side #2]

WALLACE: . . . that I may not have come to talk about it. I'd

rather stay with a subject that's interesting to you than try to

get back to my cards or questions because it all fits in. Every

little piece will eventually find a place and it will fit.

HOLMES: Well, I think that's why I've been accepted because

when things happened, I would go down there.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: And it was . . . there was another Holmes in town.

And she was one of those . . . she lived down near the old

Corinthian Church.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: I don't know where she is now. I don't know. But I

heard . . . I don't know where I'd rather say I'd rather have

lived than where I have been. I've . . . I've enjoyed it.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: See, I can't say that this is a kingdom in which . .

. a beautiful kingdom in which to live, but it has had some

pleasant memories.

WALLACE: Memories. And you say you were accepted by the

individuals who lived in the Bottom as well as up on the hill at

the campus.

HOLMES: Oh, yeah.

WALLACE: So, you could move within both communities.

HOLMES: And, see, I wasn't known by any of them. So, I came

in a complete stranger. Now, I made my own circle.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: It wasn't that . . . I . . . see, uh, when I came

here, I stayed up on the campus in the dormitory one year, and,

then, they built an apart- . . . apartments for faculty members

and Ms. Light and several others, we moved into those. But I

made it a point to get out in the community more, I think.

WALLACE: Let me ask you. Does . . . I've got some names of .

. . of women, both black and white, who had been active over the

years; not necessarily civically active, but in business and

other things. Uh, Ms. Ruby Jackson. Would you have remembered a

Ruby Jackson, a black woman?

HOLMES: Vaguely.

WALLACE: Mamma Bryant.

HOLMES: That doesn't ring a bell.

WALLACE: Okay. She, uh, apparently . . . the stories I've

heard that she was a very kind-hearted, generous individual and

took in a number of black orphans and raised them. And she was

very well known for her cooking. She was quite a cook. And they

used to have something in the Bottom where if a woman was cooking

up a special amount of extra food and she wanted to sell it or

make it available to neighbors in the community, she would hang a

lamp out the front of the door.

HOLMES: Umhumm.

WALLACE: And you would go to the house. And if you wanted to

purchase what she had available, you could. Like Mamma Bryant

served . . .

HOLMES: Fried chicken.

WALLACE: Yes, I believe you're right, fried chicken. And a

man down at the end of your street here, Mr. Calhoun . . .


WALLACE: James Calhoun, he called those festivals. They were

referred to as festivals. You'd go from house to house and you

could buy what you wanted. Uh, Ida Howard, a white woman of

somewhat questionable reputation.

HOLMES: That doesn't ring a bell.

WALLACE: Yeah. Uh . . .

HOLMES: I tried to stay within reputable moral limits

[laughter] because that . . . that was not, uh, it was not

impossible to fall into the lower level if you [inaudible].

WALLACE: [Laughing] Ms. Nellie Harris.

HOLMES: Yes, I remember that.

WALLACE: She worked for, uh, Caruthers or Carithers. I don't

really know anything about her. I just have the name.

HOLMES: Well, the name kindly rings a bell.

WALLACE: Ms. Eva Cox, quite a character. Used to sell base-

ball tickets. Probably her hygiene wasn't the best, but she was

a character, I guess, in the best sense of the word.

HOLMES: Umhumm.

WALLACE: Go from door to door selling these baseball tickets.

HOLMES: Well, evidently, I'm not . . . I'm not a baseball

fan. So, evidently, I didn't buy many.

WALLACE: Julia Miles.

HOLMES: That doesn't ring a bell either.

WALLACE: Dorothy Wright.

HOLMES: Uh-uh.

WALLACE: Louise Evans. Bessie Anderson.

HOLMES: Yeah. Now, I don't know if it's the Bessie Anderson.

Bessie Anderson lived around here on Third Street.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: A couple of doors down from Murray.

WALLACE: I guess . . .

HOLMES: Now, that was the Bessie Anderson. She was a very

good cook. She made the best eggnog in town. [Laughter -

Wallace] You had to dip it with a spoon. [Laughter - Wallace]

And we all went around there . . . this young man, he was going .

. . we were all in little groups, we'd visit around on New Year's


WALLACE: Un-huh.

HOLMES: Christmas Eve.


HOLMES: And they'd go to Miss Bessie. And, uh, another lady

next door, Ms. Creel, who is in the home out here, uh, the home

that Ramsey has out here.


HOLMES: I think she's still living, but you know what. She's

so fair, I have never been able to locate her. My husband was in

that home a whole year, and I have never been able to find her

without asking. And I was too proud to ask.

WALLACE: To ask. Her complexion was so light-skinned.

HOLMES: Oh, she was very fair.

WALLACE: Well, I just . . . these are names that I've picked

up in conversation. I'm not sure that they're significant or

not. Nannie Oliver. Ms. Matt Hardin. Maggie Harris.

HOLMES: Maggie Harris. None of those names seem to ring any

bells one way or the other. I just don't recall them. I

wouldn't like to say anything because I don't . . . I don't even

know what category to put them.


HOLMES: Categorically.

WALLACE: Of all of the changes that you've seen at Kentucky

State University over the years, the different administrations,

the growth of the campus, what would you deem are the most

significant changes that Kentucky State has undergone in its

history since you've been on faculty? That's a very broad

question, I know, but . . .

HOLMES: It sure is. Well, I'll say one thing. Nobody except

Dr. Atwood had the love of the old graduates. He remembered

every person that had ever been here. He remember their names.

He could call your name. And, you see, that to a student after

they'd been out a long time means a whole lot.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: And, now, Rufus B. Atwood, I met his family soon

after I came here. He sent me on a recruiting trip and I went

down among his family, down the north part of the state. And

they were, uh, uh, a well-known family. And he knew everybody,

whoever went here. And when he . . . when he'd stand up

commencement time even after he retired and Dr. Hill was the next

president came. He was the one that we knew personally before I

even come here, see.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: We never let them know that, and we'd do our visiting

down here rather than up at his house.


HOLMES: See, because you don't ever want to let anybody think

that you've got anything by your pull because you didn't.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: And, see, when his wife died, I . . . I was the first

person to see him outside of his secretary. I was doing some

work in his office. The accreditation group was coming for him.

The college was having its first national accreditation.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: And they had asked me to chair it, you know, so that

everything that I . . . that got written up had to be approved by

me and, then, be typed up and go to the publisher and all that

sort of thing. And, uh, uh, uh, when she died, I had . . . I had

. . . I was working and I was in his office. And I called to see

. . . well, I knew he'd taken her to the doctor. And when his

secretary said, "Ms. Hill has just died", I said, "Well, does he

want to see anybody? Would he want to see me?" She said, "Yes,

I think he'd like to see you." And, see, I was . . . I . . . I

wasn't connected with him because of what he did here. But, see,

I knew him before he came here.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: I knew him at Tennessee State, see. He was at

Tennessee State when my husband went to Meharry. And, of course,

I just adopted his friendships.

WALLACE: Well, it's interesting. Your experience has been so

varied and so different from most of the people that I've talked

to that I've got an entirely different perspective on the black

leadership in the community, black civic organizations, the Girl

Scouting experience, the NAACP experience that no one else has

been able to give me. I . . . you have helped me quite a bit,

quite a bit.

HOLMES: Well, now, we used to have big NAACP dinners. We got

a man who was a relative of, who lives, who lived up across from

the old training school. And he would cook dinners and we would

sell dinners and carry them. Oh, we'd make a couple hundred

dollars, clear a couple of hundred dollars in the NAACP dinner.

WALLACE: What would you use the funds for? Did you underwrite



WALLACE: What kind of things was the NAACP chapter [be] doing?

HOLMES: Well, we always kept a little treasury for when you'd

make these marches. If you'd get anybody in jail, you have to

get them out. Now, I only had one person go to jail. And I went

over and got him out immediately.

WALLACE: The Frankfort Drug situation you were telling me


HOLMES: Yeah, that's the only one. And that was an accident.

They had . . . see, they would let me eat over there. That

wasn't the point. But this boy, they weren't supposed to let

anybody get arrested.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: And . . . and, see, now, the policemen who worked

down at the other bank for a long time, they were on our side;

but, of course, they were on our side when we were doing the

right thing. That's why I had this lawyer . . . you know . . .

WALLACE: Ed Prichard, Ed Prichard.

HOLMES: Prichard. I asked him if I, for instance, had a

group crossing the street, the light turns red. Should I split

the group or should I take them across or should I pull them all

back? In other words, I didn't want anybody to get arrested for

doing what he didn't know about.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: In other words, we were going to march over here to

the building. Well, I didn't want to get arrested for going on a

. . . on a red light.

WALLACE: Light, yes.

HOLMES: But I didn't see any. I didn't see going on there.

And while I seldom sat-in myself, I would make the tour of the

places where I took students and I had a schedule I put up my

bulletin board every day. Tomorrow, such and such . . . I had a

woman come and stay in this house with me who trained our


WALLACE: Ahh. You mean you actually had someone from outside

the community . . .

HOLMES: A white person come here and live in my house.

WALLACE: And train the students . . .

HOLMES: And train . . .

WALLACE: . . . who were to sit-in.


WALLACE: Where did she come from? Who . . . who was she, do

you remember?

HOLMES: I don't remember her name.

WALLACE: Who sent her? Did the national NAACP send her down

to assist?

HOLMES: Somebody sent her, or, at least, she was known by us

by some previous activity she had conducted.

WALLACE: Umhumm. So, as far as training, she would teach the

students nonviolent techniques . . .


WALLACE: . . . to . . . in case they were confronted at the

restaurants, that kind of thing.

HOLMES: Umhumm.

WALLACE: Did you actually sit-in yourself in some of this . .


HOLMES: Yes, in some cases. Now, I went to Hampton and me

and my husband would sit down and eat. While he was in session,

I went downtown and I got thirsty and I passed the drugstore; and

in my Pennsylvania habit, I went in and got a drink. I ordered a

drink. She sent to get my drink and a white couple came in. I

was on this side of the corner like this, you know.

WALLACE: Un-huh.

HOLMES: And they sat over here, not . . . we were the only

ones there. So, it wasn't a matter of just getting a pop. And I

said, "Oh," I told her, I said, "if you haven't served up that

Coke, I think I'd rather have that mint sherbert."


HOLMES: And they gave it to me. No question, no problem at

all. When I went home and told him where I had gotten some

refreshment, he said, "Oh, my God, we'll have to get out of

here." But nothing ever happened. [Laughter - Wallace] And,

see, uh, some of those things, I . . . I had never had to sit in

the back of a bus all my life.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: You got on the bus and you sat wherever there was a

seat. So, anything I did was not my intent.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: But following the pattern of life I'd always lived.

WALLACE: Well, given your activism in the NAACP and your

leadership role, did that cost you any friendships amongst the

white leadership here in . . .

HOLMES: I imagine it might have, but I think they honored me

for taking my stand.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: And, you know, I would never run. I sat on every

committee in the city . . .


HOLMES: . . . except City Commission. And they used to call

me "There's that woman". I'd pass, "There's that woman".


HOLMES: They . . . they didn't call me by name usually.

"There's that woman".

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: Well, sit-in . . . sit-in up at Frisch's. We had the

people sit in there until they . . . they turned the cold air on

them one time when there was there. It was the winter.

WALLACE: They turned the air conditioning on them?

HOLMES: The air conditioner on the kids.

WALLACE: Ahh. Now, the story I hear about Frisch's, and you

can confirm or deny this, is that some of the whites got on the

door there and were letting only white customers in as opposed to

blacks. And one of the individuals who was sort of manning the

door was Joe Leary, who was very active in the white First

Baptist Church and on the radio and had his Sunday School class.

And George, uh, Simmons was telling me this story. And said he

could not believe that Joe Leary [Joseph J. Leary] was blocking

their entrance into the Frisch's restaurant because of . . .

HOLMES: Well, I don't know who it was. Of course, I was

interested in having . . . my concern was that the kids will not

be harmed.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: And I'd take a certain group out when I thought they

were too cold and get them warmed in our cars that was parked on

the side, and, then, we'd go back.

WALLACE: Umhumm. When was this taking place, about . . . do

you remember what time that would have been?

HOLMES: You mean time of day or time of year?

WALLACE: Time of . . . what year?

HOLMES: I can't remember that with too much accuracy.

WALLACE: During the administration of Rufus Atwood?

HOLMES: I would think so.

WALLACE: Okay. Prior to the 1964 Civil Rights legislation?

HOLMES: Yes, I think it was then.

WALLACE: Because I would think it would have preceded that.

HOLMES: I would think it would. Uh, we sat in in a

drugstore. As I said, they . . . they would serve me if I went

in alone because I was the doctor's wife. But they wouldn't

serve the people who went with me. I've had the people turned


WALLACE: Well, the lawsuits that, uh, Ed Prichard handled in

relation to Frankfort Drug . . .

HOLMES: He never had to handle a case.

WALLACE: What . . . what happened there?

HOLMES: They just . . . they . . . only one person got put in

jail for a few minutes, and I went and got him right out.

WALLACE: Okay. So, no legal action resulted.

HOLMES: No legal action ever really happened. I took . . . I

tried to take action that could be meaningful. I think I'm fair

to say that, uh, I planned most of the sitting-in.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: And I'd try to plan what could be meaningful to the

cause without putting it at a crucial point.

WALLACE: Umhumm. When did, uh . . . did the restaurants

eventually capitulate and begin to serve . . .

HOLMES: Umhumm.

WALLACE: . . . black . . .

HOLMES: Umhumm.

WALLACE: . . . black customers?


WALLACE: Did it take . . . what . . . did it take a number of

months for this to transpire or were you all able to achieve it

in a relatively short time?

HOLMES: Well, I think it just kind of . . . just kind of grew


WALLACE: Umhumm. One by one they would change their attitude

. . .

HOLMES: Umhumm.

WALLACE: . . . towards . . .

HOLMES: And, uh, we had some regulations about what you do if

they come to you and try to turn your seat up and that sort of


WALLACE: Do you remember any of those regulations?

HOLMES: Well, give up your seat and go out and do some- . . .

and meet the group and do something else.

WALLACE: Do not attempt to resist or physically . . .

HOLMES: Don't make a physical resistance.

WALLACE: Resistance.

HOLMES: You weren't gaining anything. Make it somewhere


WALLACE: Umhumm. So, you all were passive and nonviolent in

your approach to resistance.

HOLMES: I guess you could say that; but, see, we seldom had

any potentially violent situations for them. For instance, at

Frisch's, they closed the place when it was full of Negro


WALLACE: Umhumm. Rather than serve them, they simply closed

the restaurant.

HOLMES: With them in there.


HOLMES: And turned the air conditioner on. And, so, we just

kept them from serving anybody on Sunday afternoon.

WALLACE: Did the group encounter any violence from the whites?

Were there any assaults upon any of the picketers or the sit-in

folk by whites?

HOLMES: I don't think so. We . . . we kept a very well

chaperoned group.

WALLACE: Umhumm. It sounds like it was a marvelous success

without any . . . virtually any trouble.

HOLMES: Well, I can't remember any real trouble we had. See,

uh, the NAACP and our members, we had a lot of senior who's . . .

seniors who worked with the young people. And the president [Dr.

Atwood] said to me, "Ms. Holmes, just take care of my children."

WALLACE: Ahh. You mean the president of Kentucky State?

HOLMES: Of Kentucky State. [President Atwood said] "Ms.

Holmes, take care of my children." And the woman who taught them

stayed in this house.

WALLACE: Umm. You just mentioned that, that she actually

resided with you.


WALLACE: So, you all were very well prepared when you went

into this campaign.

HOLMES: Well, I think we took pains to work out what we were

going to do.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: See, when we . . . when they said to go up in the

pool on Friday night, we said that won't do. We sent word to

them. And, then, I got, I think, about three or four boys who

were, uh, very good swimmers and . . .

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: . . . all that sort of thing to volunteer to be the

first ones to go in. We even . . . nobody told them to buy

suits. I said, now, I don't know whether they're going to

require tops or not, but you have tops. And if they wear tops,

you wear tops. And Al was one of those men. But, you know, they

got so nervous they did . . . I'd say that the fee was sixty

cents to go in. I don't remember. And if they gave them a

dollar, they took out the forty cents for the admission and gave

them the sixty back. [Laughter] So, I'd say they weren't quite

sure what they were doing either. See, every now and then we had

an amusing moment, and, then, you . . . you had some worrisome

moments, too.

WALLACE: What were some of the worrisome moments to you?

HOLMES: When I couldn't get around to watch the sitting-in in

all of the places where they were sitting-in at any one time.

WALLACE: You felt a little out of control perhaps as far as .

. .

HOLMES: I could trust some people to know what to do, but I .

. . I wasn't sure what was coming up and you're never sure what

to do when you're not . . . when you don't know what's coming up.

WALLACE: Umhumm. Were there other campaigns like the sit-in

campaign that . . . that you coordinated, other activities that

you remember or led, perhaps?

HOLMES: A sit-in at that time was about all I could handle.


WALLACE: How did you . . . how did you get to head that,

because by virtue of your NAACP leadership?

HOLMES: Yeah, and . . . I don't know how I took charge of it

up at the school. But Dr. Atwood took my . . . he was not a

member of the NAACP. And I told him, I said, "You can't afford

not to be." He gave me his life membership, paid it down in one

check. [Laughter - Wallace] Said, "Just take care of my

children now."

WALLACE: And you did. This has been delightful. I have

really enjoyed it. I very much have. I hope I haven't take too

much of your time.

HOLMES: Well, I have more time than I have anything.

WALLACE: Well, I . . .

HOLMES: I . . .

WALLACE: Was there anything you thought I would ask about that

I haven't really discussed?

HOLMES: I didn't know what you were going to ask about, and I

didn't let it worry me.

WALLACE: No, good. I was . . .

HOLMES: Because, as I said, if there was something I didn't

want to answer, I'd tell you that in a minute. I'm indep- . . .

as you see, I've been quite an independent cuss.

WALLACE: Yes. [Laughing]

HOLMES: But I've been a pretty companionable cuss, too.

WALLACE: And I think you've made quite a contribution to the

community, both the Kentucky State community and Frankfort's

community. I really . . .

HOLMES: I . . .

WALLACE: I say that with all sincerity. When you look at the

status of . . . of blacks today and the progress that's been made

in achieving equal opportunities of employment and other areas,

uh, do you think we're still continuing in that civil rights vein

or . . . or are we still making progress, in your estimation, as

far as an equal society?

HOLMES: Well, I don't . . . I think . . . for instance, right

through here, we've been having trouble with some people running

up and messing up cars. Now, I don't know who they are. I don't

know whether they're white or black. My car hasn't been messed

up and none of us on this . . . in this block who have cars that

have been. But they've been down that way.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: Now, I don't know who they are.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: So, I can't say that that's been a reflection of

what's going on now or not. I can't say that.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: And I won't say it because I would be indicting

people I have no reason to indict.

WALLACE: Yeah. I was just . . .

HOLMES: And being a good English teacher, you know that you

should back up your reasoning.


HOLMES: I used to tell my English majors, "I'm not teaching

you how to write good English so you'll be an English teacher.

I'm teaching you so you can defend yourself."

WALLACE: Well, as a historian, I know that you can't make

assertions without evidence to support them or you'll quickly be,

uh, discredited.

HOLMES: One exception can disprove you.

WALLACE: Exactly.

HOLMES: And, see, there are exceptions to almost everything,

but, uh, they don't . . . they aren't . . . they aren't always

involved inceptions.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: Exceptions.

WALLACE: Well, once I complete all of my taping, then, I'm

going to go start doing research in the court records, in the

newspapers and manuscript collections trying to verify as much as

I can of what I've been told by all of the people I've spoken

with so when I quote a tape, I can point to documents that

support the tape as well.

HOLMES: Well, I think you should adeq- . . . have adequate

proof of that because like I . . . I have no records of the dates

of all of these things.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: I was too busy doing things . . .

WALLACE: To make records of them.

HOLMES: . . . to make records.

WALLACE: Well, let me . . .

HOLMES: And you didn't always have enough time to do those


WALLACE: Let me give you one of my business cards. If, by

chance, you think of an individual or someone I should definitely

speak with, you might . . .

HOLMES: Well, I'll tell you one now I can give. "Buddy"

Ellis, do you know him?

WALLACE: I know him by name. Someone told me he used to drive

Dr. Underwood at one point. That was . . .

HOLMES: Well, I didn't know that. But I do know this. Uh,

he has run for City Councilman. He's one of those who didn't

make it.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: He used to work . . . you know, the Noonan's Store?


HOLMES: You probably knew him that way.

WALLACE: The one on Second Street down that way.

HOLMES: Yeah, the Noonan's Store on Second Street.

WALLACE: Street.

HOLMES: He used to do all of their stocking.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: And he used to get a new stock of [inaudible]. When

I came south, a whole lot of things I didn't eat. I knew trout

and perch fish and shad, but they'd never heard about shad here.

And when I talk about a stuff baked shad was our Easter Sunday

dinner, for years on end, that was $1 a pound when I was a child.

And Dad had really spent himself when he bought us this big long



HOLMES: And, see, that doesn't mean a thing to these people



HOLMES: Because they eat catfish, and I never ate catfish.

WALLACE: Until you came . . . did you ever eat catfish after

you came down there?

HOLMES: Oh, yeah, I eat catfish now.

WALLACE: So, you had to adjust your dietary habits as well.

HOLMES: Oh, yeah.

WALLACE: Had you ever eaten chitlings before you came down


HOLMES: I still don't. [Laughter - Wallace] I haven't

tasted them. Just looking at them and smelling them and knowing

what they are is enough for me. [Laughter] But I'll tell you,

for instance. My first job was in Durham, North Carolina in a

public high school.


HOLMES: One of my grandmother's relatives . . .

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: . . . Sadie Canter Marcel, her husband was a lawyer

and he set up that Negro Lawyers Association, see. And I met the

principal of the high school there in her home and he gave me my

first job.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: So, I . . . I was, uh . . . they used to have these

chitling suppers.


HOLMES: And I would buy the supper and give the chitlings to

somebody else and they'd give me their potato salad. [Laughter -

Wallace] I have never tasted it. I can't get courage enough to

try it. [Laughter - Wallace] No, I can't get courage enough to

try it.

WALLACE: "Buddy" Ellis would be . . . is his first name James


HOLMES: Yeah, I think so. Now, he lives in the . . . right

back of the church.


HOLMES: On Second, the Corinthian Church.

WALLACE: The Corinthian?

HOLMES: Yeah, the new Corinthian.

WALLACE: Okay. Well, there's so many people to talk to, so

many that to do it right, I've got a lot of work ahead of me.

HOLMES: His wife died recently.


HOLMES: Anna Laura.

WALLACE: And you know, his mother is still alive, though.

HOLMES: And she lives right around here.

WALLACE: And I had met her out at the Senior Citizens Center

and she was quite a gracious lady. And we were going to get

together and talk, and, then, uh, then, the death took place and

I have . . .

HOLMES: She lives right around here.

WALLACE: Oh, really? Around the corner here?

HOLMES: Yeah. She lives around there. Of course, she's

right on the alley. You know this street that's behind me?


HOLMES: My lot runs out to the street.


HOLMES: Well, she lives on the corner of that now. I used to

. . . her husband and I belonged to several committees down to .

. . city organization together. He was blind.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: I used to take him . . . go over and get him and

bring him home. And she marveled with that bringing him all the

way to the door. I said, "Well, I got him from the door." Who

would put a blind man out on the curb when you'd have to go up a

landing and all of that? I said, "Well, I wouldn't think of

doing that."

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: And, of course, that's . . . that's . . . that's . .

. she's really not "Buddy" Ellis's mother.

WALLACE: Ahh. Step-mother.

HOLMES: Step-mother.

WALLACE: Ahh, okay. Well, I met her and she seemed very nice.

HOLMES: She is a very lovely person.

WALLACE: I thought that once things settled down in her

situation, I'll try and make contact again and talk with her.

HOLMES: To show you, when Anna Laura died, evidently she made

rolls for the church at the time of the funeral and she called me

and said I have hung a dozen rolls on your door . . . doorknob.

WALLACE: Ahh, how thoughtful.

HOLMES: That's to show you the nice little things. She said,

"You always took such good care of my husband." I said, "Well, I

wouldn't have let him out" . . . he had to go up . . . he had to

walk up something about almost as steep as those steps.

WALLACE: Good grief.

HOLMES: Getting up to his steps.

WALLACE: Un-huh.

HOLMES: It . . . it was stretched out . . .


HOLMES: But it was . . . and, see, letting a blind man out to

walk up that far when you're a grown woman able to help him up,

that didn't sound to me like the thing to do.


HOLMES: And I never did.

WALLACE: Well, I do appreciate your allowing me into your home

and allowing me to talk to you. And if by chance you see any of

your friends and . . . and people that you think I should talk

to, feel free to mention my name or let me know . . .

HOLMES: Well, now, Dorothy Wilson is a teacher in that


WALLACE: The Mayo-Underwood.

HOLMES: The old . . . was . . .


HOLMES: . . . in the Mayo-Underwood area. She might be able

to help you with some things that I wouldn't know.

WALLACE: All right.

HOLMES: But I'll tell you. That school got out with me

because . . . well, I didn't like the way the teacher conducted

her class. I wanted my class to learn English. I didn't send

them down to write letters to the teacher. So, I prohibited my

kids from going to teach under her.

WALLACE: Ahh, okay.

HOLMES: Now, see, I'm not racially conscious, but she wasn't

teaching. Anytime they sit there and write letters for her and I

have to give them a grade in observation, it better be observed

with some decency.

WALLACE: Un-huh. So, your students were going down there and

observing . . .

HOLMES: Teaching.

WALLACE: . . . teaching because they were intending to become


HOLMES: English teachers. They had to put in so many hours

of observation.


HOLMES: And I had to supervise.

WALLACE: I see. So, you would prefer they not go to that . .

. that teacher's class because you didn't feel that she was

giving . . .

HOLMES: I didn't think she was giving them what she was

supposed to give them, not because she was black.

WALLACE: Umhumm. This is Ms. Wilson now?

HOLMES: She was one of the teachers that was down there.

"Plug" . . . "Plug" Williams taught down there.


HOLMES: I helped him make scenery for that play.


HOLMES: They got ready to give a play and they didn't have

two pieces of background that had the same figure on them. I

said, "Plug, let's paint these doggone things." So, we put them

down on the floor and painted them.

WALLACE: Well, one of the things I've heard about Mayo-

Underwood is that it was quite a social center. I mean, there

were plays . . .

HOLMES: Plays.

WALLACE: . . . and concerts and . . .

HOLMES: Well, see, you had the Grad Club which was a club of

grad . . . former graduates of that who set to help sponsor . . .

WALLACE: Umhumm.

HOLMES: . . . those activities.

WALLACE: Yeah. They would raise money to purchase athletic


HOLMES: Uniforms and the like.

WALLACE: Yeah. And that club still is in existence.

HOLMES: Oh, yeah. It has a clubhouse over there next to . .

. some property on 3 . . . 330 . . . 329 Wallace Avenue.

WALLACE: Still assisting Kentucky State Univer- . . . well,

providing scholarships, I think, is one of their things.

HOLMES: Well, I don't know that they provide the scholarships

now. I don't really know about that.

WALLACE: Umhumm. Well, I'm going to shut up shop here, and,

uh, if you'd like a copy of the tapes, I'll be glad to get a copy

of these tapes if you'd like to keep them for any reason.

[End of Interview]

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