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Frankfort’s Craw Oral History Project

Interview with Vivian Fallis

April 2, 1991.

Conducted by James Wallace

© 1991 Kentucky Oral History Commission

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

Ms. Vivian Fallis for "Frankfort's 'Craw:' An African-American

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

Wallace in Frankfort, Kentucky, April 3, 1991.

[An interview with Ms. Vivian Fallis]

WALLACE: Today is April the 2nd . . .

FALLIS: Third.

WALLACE: The third, thank you very much. And we're here with

Ms. Vivian Fallis to talk a little bit about her remembrances of

urban renewal in the Craw and the Fallis family. Can you tell me

. . . do you remember when you met Bixie [Benjamin] Fallis?

FALLIS: I think it was around January, 1950.

WALLACE: Do you remember how you met him, what . . .

FALLIS: He was standing on a street corner downtown. The old

Fire Department was on Main Street.


FALLIS: Along in, uh, oh, across from the McClure Building.

I don't know if you remember where all of that was or not.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

FALLIS: But it was there then. And, uh, so I was going down

the street and he, uh, said hello and thought I was my sister.

[Laughter - Wallace] And my sister knew another fireman, a

younger one, a Peavler boy that worked there at the Fire

Department. And I said, "I beg your pardon, but I'm not Carolyn,

you know."

WALLACE: Umhumm.

FALLIS: And, so, we struck up a conversation and one thing

led to the other; and the first thing you know, he asked me to

come and go to church with him. And I thought, well, you're the

first man ever asked me to come and go to church with you.

[Laughter - Wallace] And I said, "Well, all right." So, I went

with him, and it was the first Pentecostal Church I'd ever been

to. I had heard of them, heard them called Holy Rollers; and we

used to go out to the fish hatchery swimming when we were all

younger . . .

WALLACE: Umhumm.

FALLIS: . . . and they'd be out there having a baptizing,

just shouting on the creek bank, you know. And my girlfriend,

that I went with her parents, and they'd say, "Oh, that's those

old Holy Rollers." And I didn't know . . . but little did I know

I was going to get involved with the Holy Rollers and found out

they were the finest people that ever was and they wasn't what

people really thought.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

FALLIS: So, anyway, that's how I met him. And, uh . . .

WALLACE: When did you all get married?

FALLIS: Uh, wait a minute. [Laughing] July the 1st, 1951.

WALLACE: 195 . . .

FALLIS: No, 1950, because I met him in January, and, then, I

married him in July, yes.

WALLACE: And was Mr. Fallis at that time living in the old

section, the Craw section of Frank- . . .

FALLIS: No. He didn't live in Craw. He owned a house in

Bellepoint just as you go in next to Hale's Grocery, old Hale's


WALLACE: Oh, I see. I see.

FALLIS: On Kentucky Avenue.

WALLACE: So, you all set up housekeeping over in Bellepoint?

FALLIS: Yeah. We, uh . . . well, he bought about that time.

He decided to rent that house out and he bought one on the corner

of Major and Kentucky. And that's where we moved in to start


WALLACE: Umhumm.

FALLIS: And, then, after . . . along in the spring, later on

the following year, we had a baby girl, Bendaline Bates Fallis;

and after she was born, we bought a house down on 874 Kentucky


WALLACE: Umhumm.

FALLIS: That was on down in front of Mr. Isaac Locke's

property. He was our neighbor.

WALLACE: Oh, okay.

FALLIS: Mr. I. N. Locke. He was one of the oldest, most

respected neighbors. And we lived there for about 25 years.

WALLACE: Well, can you tell me a little bit about . . . you

had mentioned to me that you were pastor of a church. What

denomination and . . .

FALLIS: Well, I was raised in a Baptist Church; and, then,

after Bixie [Benjamin] asked me to come and go to church with him

and I started. After we married, I started going with him to

this Pentecostal Church that was up on the hill, Pentecostal

Church of God. And his mother, of course, was a Pentecostal

minister. And, so, we went there to church. And it wasn't long

until I . . . of course, I really got saved. I had never really

been saved in my life. I just had gone to church, never

experienced, uh, just coming to know Christ as my own personal

Savior. And, then, uh, along about that time, I received a call

to the ministry.


FALLIS: But I couldn't, uh, I kept rejecting it because, uh,

my people, they about made me leave home. They didn't believe in

a woman preaching; and, on the other hand, they didn't much want

a lot to do with me then because I went to that church on the

other side of the tracks.

WALLACE: Where on the other side of the tracks was the church?

FALLIS: The other side of the tracks was from down at the

trestle . . .


FALLIS: . . . railroad trestle that divides the . . . it runs

across Broadway . . .


FALLIS: . . . and divides Wilkinson Street. And from the

trestle on down toward Hemp Factory Hill . . .

WALLACE: Umhumm.

FALLIS: . . . that was the other side of the tracks. And

that was going down through Craw.


FALLIS: And where I started the church was just a little down

beyond Craw up on the hill of Wilkinson Street.

WALLACE: Okay. Would that be sort of . . .

FALLIS: Across from the sand bar.

WALLACE: Oh, okay.

FALLIS: The sand lot, Goedecke sand lot. And, so, of course,

they didn't like that. And I told them that the Lord God called

me and the Bible said that I should fear God more than man, and

they could just run me off or do anything they want for getting

saved and going to church. I said, "You didn't approve of me

drinking and dancing and partying and running around; and now

that I got saved and I've give up all of that and I want to work

and live for the Lord and you're not pleased with that either.

[Laughter - Wallace] So, I'm going to do what God's called me to


WALLACE: Did they reconcile themselves to your decision

after . . .

FALLIS: Finally. I became a very, uh, believer, a believer

in prayer and in the Word of God. I read the Word and what it

said. I believed that it said do that. And, uh, so, then, uh, I

began to pray for God to really save my family. I said, now,

they . . . they say, "I'm a Baptist, I'm a Methodist, I'm a

Church of Christ," but, I said, "You all don't go to church."


FALLIS: "We don't . . . don't never see you sit around and

read the Bible and don't never hear you pray. But you claim to

be such good Christians." And, uh, so, anyway, I really prayed

and one-by-one . . . then, my father got down on his deathbed and

had a stroke and heart attack, and they called all of the family

in. And Bixie [Benjamin] and I went out. Well, my father, he

couldn't talk, and he motioned, grunting and motioning me in to

his bed. And I went in, and I began to pray for God to touch him

and save his soul, not let him die unsaved.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

FALLIS: I asked my father, I said, "Are you a Christian,

Daddy"; and he said, uh-uh just like that he couldn't talk. It

affected his speech. So, he motioned me closer. And I said, "Do

you want me to pray with you?" "Umhumm." So, I prayed with him.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

FALLIS: And, then, he wanted me to read the Bible to him and

I read him the 23rd Psalm and my father got saved. So, then, uh,

little by little, it took awhile, but they didn't much appreciate

me going to Pentecostal Church; but little by little when the

members of the family get sick, they'd want me to pray.


FALLIS: They found out that . . .


FALLIS: . . . when I prayed, things happen.

WALLACE: Can you tell me about your congregation, uh, who

composed the congregation? Were they residents of the Craw or .

. .

FALLIS: Yeah, most of them, most of them.

WALLACE: Black and white and . . .

FALLIS: Not many black. Uh, some of the black would come in

and visit and sit on the back seat and visit, but they didn't

participate. Of course, there were black churches around in that

area . . .


FALLIS: . . . that they went to. But after I got the call to

preach . . . and Chick Perkins built this church. And, then, he

wanted to go out on the field in, uh, evangelistic work. So, the

board asked me if I would take it; I had a call, would I take it.

Well, from the day I got saved and got my call, I began to walk

the streets of the Bottom and knock on doors and ask people to

come go to church and if they were saved; and asked them if they

weren't, let me pray with them. So . . .

WALLACE: What kind of conditions did you find as you went?

FALLIS: Oh, they were . . . you know, some of the conditions

were so pitiful. There was this one man I kept wanting to win to

the Lord. And when I'd go to his home, in this front room, this

front part of the house, they would have coal piled in there.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

FALLIS: And he would be sleeping on that coal pile and there

would be tin cans and chicken bones and everything, just throwed

in there, and just lived in that. And he was black as the ace of

spades, but he was a white man.


FALLIS: And he was covered with sores. So, I asked him

if . . . I said, "I'm going home and I'm going to get some", uh.

. . I got a scrub brush [laughing] a jar . . . a bottle of Clorox

and some clean clothes of Bixie's [Benjamin's]. And I went back

down there and I told his wife, I said, "You see that he gets in

the tub of water and you see that he's scrubbed and clean and I'm

coming back and take him to church." Well, I want you to know he

agreed to go; and when I went back that night to get him, took my

kids with me, I didn't recognize the man. The neighbors had

gotten so thrilled over him being willing to go to church and

seeing what had happened to him, they were out there on the

sidewalk shaving him and had him ready to go. And he got in the

car with me and I took him to church, and everybody was shocked

because my pastor used to live his life down in that Bottom

before he got converted. And, uh . . .

WALLACE: Umhumm.

FALLIS: So, anyway, that was the beginning of it.

WALLACE: Were those kind of conditions, the ones that you just

described, typical or atypical of residents of the Bottom?

FALLIS: Not all of them. There would be, uh, some of them,

their homes was clean as a pen.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

FALLIS: You could have just about, it looked like, eat off of

their floors and their homes were spotless.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

FALLIS: And, uh, but this was just one particular incident

that was . . .

WALLACE: Memorable.

FALLIS: . . . exceptional, [laughing] living in filth. But

that man really did get saved. And I preached my funer- . . . I

preached his funeral. I think it was the first funeral I

preached. And, uh, they wouldn't even let him be . . . his wife

and them wouldn't let him, uh, be buried at the funeral home.

And they asked me to have a graveside funeral, and he was put in

an old pine box.

WALLACE: Ahh, I see.

FALLIS: And I cried; but then, as I read the scriptures, I

thought of the angels of God carrying him home to the bosom of

God, you know.

WALLACE: Well, let me ask you some more about your . . . your

evangelistic work there in the Bottom. Uh, did . . . did . . .

were the residents pretty receptive to your overtures?

FALLIS: Yes. You know, and to be a woman minister, I was . .

. there was a few that said they didn't believe in a woman

preacher and I'd quote them the scripture that a woman was the

one carried the first message of Christ's resurrection from the


WALLACE: Umhumm.

FALLIS: So, they couldn't argue with the Bible. But, then,

most of them, they came in to the church. We had ten people

coming when I took it over when Chick left. And it grew until we

was overflowing, and we moved the church then from down in the

Craw, as you call it, to over in Bellepoint. And we bought the

old Nazarene Church.

WALLACE: Umhumm, umhumm.

FALLIS: And, then, I got down sick and had to give up the

church and put the church in to the Church of God.


FALLIS: Affiliated it with the Church of God.

WALLACE: Had it been independent prior to that?

FALLIS: It had been an independent church, uh-huh.

WALLACE: Well, let me . . . let me stay on this subject a

little bit about Craw. Uh, in the sense that it was a community,

was . . . did . . . just from what you saw down there, were

people . . . was it a neighborhood where people were neighborly

to each other or was it mostly vagrants or . . .

FALLIS: They were more neighborly to each other than people

like we live around where . . . well, of course, this

neighborhood is wonderful. It's unusual, the people here are so

neighborly. But, uh, most places, somehow or another, they did

for one another and looked after one another.

WALLACE: There was a sense of community . . .


WALLACE: . . . and those people did sort of take care of each


FALLIS: Now, if they didn't like you, it was Katie barred the


WALLACE: Ahh, okay. They would . . .

FALLIS: And I had a brother who is now dead that, uh, was an

alcoholic; and when he'd get on his drunks, he would head

straight for the Bottom. And when he did, every one of those

people would take him in and take care of him. And I was pastor

of the church; and one Sunday afternoon, one of the men come over

and said, uh, "Sister Fallis", said, "your brother is laying on

the front porch in Catfish Alley and," said . . . it was pouring

down rain. And, said, "He's out cold and they're stealing his

clothes, his shoes and everything off of him." So, I called

Johnny West at the jail. He was the jailer. Johnny come down

and got him for me.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

FALLIS: But that's the kind of people they were. They looked

after their own.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

FALLIS: But when I went down there . . . and I carried my

Bible in front of me because I was scared to death.

WALLACE: Was it a violent place, a . . .

FALLIS: At times, yes. Mur- . . . my brother, when he

sobered up and found out I was going down there and going

door-to-door and walking the streets and going in those homes and

all and talking to those people about the Lord, he said,

"Whatever you do, Susie, you keep your mouth shut, don't never

tell anything you see going on down in that Bottom," Because," he

said, "if you do, you'll wind up here in the Kentucky River with

a concrete block tied around you." He said, "Now, I'm just

warning you."

WALLACE: He makes it sound like there were people who had . .


FALLIS: There were . . .

WALLACE: . . . a vested interest in sharing the things . . .

FALLIS: But I was so ignorant of what could have gone on, I

didn't know, you know, all that . . .

WALLACE: Umhumm.

FALLIS: I never saw anything go on to tell, for one thing . .



FALLIS: . . . other than . . . because, I guess . . . when

they'd see me coming, I was an outsider. So, they began . . .


FALLIS: . . . to shut the doors . . .

WALLACE: When were you doing the work, in the late fifties

[1950s] or . . .

FALLIS: 1951 till, let's see, what year was the church . . .

whenever the slum clearance came, they called it. When that

ended, then, I did . . . that ended my work down through there.

WALLACE: What . . . how did you react when you heard about the

slum clearance? I mean . . .

FALLIS: Well . . .

WALLACE: . . . do you remember how you heard about it and what

your reaction was?

FALLIS: Of course, it was in the papers and they, uh, you

know, were letting us know that we were going to have to move our

church. We were going to have to sell our church and find

another one.

WALLACE: How did you react to that news when you heard it?

FALLIS: Well, I thought it was a better thing for the town,

for the community and for the people down there that they would

be moved out into better places than what they're . . . every

time the flood came up, the water came up, it would get . . .

that would be the first place to go down in there, those homes

around from the trestle on down. And my husband had a statewide

transfer business, and he'd be the first one with a truck down

there having to move all of those people out.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

FALLIS: And, uh, so, it was . . . of course, they called it

the Craw because it was always filled up with crawfish and

everything else every time the river come up. And, uh . . . but

he would move them out. He . . . I did have some of his papers

he received from the Red Cross for his services he did all down

through there. But that's what it was. And . . . but I walked

the streets and knocked on doors, invited people to church. And

one man, Ike Quire, he's dead and his wife and all of them gone

now. And I went into their home. His wife was coming to church,

but he said, "No, nobody will never get me in there." Well, I

went in his home one day and I knelt on my knees in front of his

rocking chair and began to tell him how much Jesus loved him.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

FALLIS: And, you know, tears started streaming down that

man's cheeks. And it wasn't long till that man come to church

and we baptized him.

WALLACE: Well, did you attend any of the public hearings that

they had about the urban renewal?

FALLIS: My husband took care of . . . see, we had a board;

and, so, I let the board and my husband, that's the part of the

church he helped take care of.


FALLIS: And, uh . . .

WALLACE: So, you didn't participate in any of the business at


FALLIS: Not unless it was necessary for me to be in the

business meetings. Now, when the church was put in order in the

Church of God and we had to go to Bob Harrod, who then was the .

. . I'm not sure if he was Judge then or not. But, anyway, he

was the attorney that my husband had, and I went then. I had to

sign some papers to get it affiliated with the Church of God.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

FALLIS: But, uh . . .

WALLACE: So, the affiliation took place at the time that you

all relocated?

FALLIS: Yeah, umhumm.


FALLIS: Right after that because just as the church itself,

the people, they weren't satisfied in moving. It's hard to move,

uh, a group from one location that . . . a life they've always

lived and the kind of people they've always been.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

FALLIS: I learned right then, it's difficult to uproot them

and put them into a totally new environment. They don't accept

that readily.

WALLACE: So, maybe urban renewal had . . . was sort of a mixed

blessing to some of those people. If they didn't want . . .


WALLACE: . . . to see their church uprooted and . . .

FALLIS: Their home . . .

WALLACE: . . . they themselves.

FALLIS: . . . you know, the homes. To them, those homes were

little ramshackle places. Like I said, some, they scrubbed their

linoleums clean and whitewashed what they could, and, uh . . .

but they loved it. And when they were uprooted and thrown out to

other places, some went . . . couldn't have been any worse. But

they just all scattered.

WALLACE: Umhumm. That's a theme I've heard from a lot of

people that, "Yes, our homes weren't the most modern and

up-to-date; but it was a neighborhood and it was our home." And

I've heard some people reacted adversely to urban renewal because

of that. They lost that neighborhood, that sense of . . .


WALLACE: . . . being a home. Uh . . .

FALLIS: That's the way it was.

WALLACE: Would you consider the Craw a slum?

FALLIS: What would you term a slum?

WALLACE: Well, that's the tricky part. Uh, I guess solely on

the condition of the housing and the utilities servicing the

housing and the state of the buildings. Some people will go on

that definition, if the housing doesn't meet a certain code. Uh,

others will say a slum is a place where lower socio-economic

classes live, where there's excessive violence, gambling, vice,

an area of high crime or prostitution.

FALLIS: It was all of those things. It was all of those

things. And Alex Gordon, when I was a little girl . . . and my

mother and father moved to town, lived over on Third Street in,

uh, Vogler's. We rented a home from Vogler's; Doc Vogler's

mother. I can't think of her first name now. And, uh, Alex

Gordon's wife and family lived on the opposite corner from us on

the corner of Logan and Third Street. But Alex run a place down

in the Bottom. He lived two lives.

WALLACE: Oh, really. What place did he run now? Which place

was it?

FALLIS: One of the worst . . . gambling . . .

WALLACE: Blue Moon . . .

FALLIS: . . . saloon . . .

WALLACE: Like the Tip . . .

FALLIS: . . . vice, prostitution. You name it, it was all.

WALLACE: Like at Tiptoe Inn or the Blue Moon or something on

that . . .

FALLIS: That's what it was.

WALLACE: The Blue Moon?

FALLIS: And I don't know if that's what they called . . .

I've forgotten if they cal- . . . anyway, John Fallis and my

husband had a place along in that same block close to Alex Gordon

when John Fallis was living. I've got a newspaper clipping from

. . . I've forgotten whether it's State Journal or one of the

others. It had a title that tall, "John Fallis, czar of the

underworld, is killed."


FALLIS: And I had that pinned up on my wall in my antique

shop one day, and I came home and that was gone. Somebody stole

that off the wall out of my shop.

WALLACE: Good grief.

FALLIS: Well, now, the State Journal, I've got some pictures

and writing I got from their paper, but I don't remember whether

this must have been a Lexington paper or Louisville paper. And,

then, the Courier-Journal, they had let the Historical Society

have a picture of the man that shot John Fallis.


FALLIS: And they gave me a copy of that. So, I've got that.

WALLACE: Is that [Everett] Rigsby?

FALLIS: Rigsby.


FALLIS: Umhumm.

WALLACE: Well, let me ask you. You say before your husband

met you and came to the Lord, he was involved with his . . .

FALLIS: Oh, he got . . .

WALLACE: . . . dad in running a place.

FALLIS: Well, after his daddy died, and, of course, when . .

. I think when his daddy got killed, he was too young to run a

place. But, then, as he got older, him and John Hackett run a

place together. John Hackett worked at the Fire Department, too.

WALLACE: Was that the Peachtree or do you . . .

FALLIS: You know, I don't know the name of it to my . . .

well, my daughter, somewhere, has got another album that belonged

to Ms. Fallis. She's not home. But it had a lot of things,

pictures and information in it. But, anyway, he run a place.

And every time they would, uh . . . he would bootleg. It was

during what you call prohibition.

WALLACE: Prohibition.

FALLIS: And he has told me that he would fill up a second gas

tank, what looked like a gas tank, and he would run booze that


WALLACE: Umhumm.

FALLIS: And he and John Hackett, if they'd hear that a

revenue man was coming, they would pour it all down the sink and

flush it down the sink or down the commode.

WALLACE: So, this would have been the 1930's probably. This

was after his daddy . . .

FALLIS: Evidently. It was before I met him because I didn't

meet him until 19 . . . the first part of 1951, '50 [1950] or '51

[1951]. I believe '51 [1951]. And, uh, anyway, he bootlegged;

and, then, he said he got saved just before I met him.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

FALLIS: And, uh, so, then, he give up. He said he . . .

well, he was still married to his first wife, and he said he

poured everything he had down the sink and put a padlock on the

door and walked out when God saved him. And he never went back

to it.

WALLACE: Never went back?

FALLIS: He didn't drink or smoke himself.

WALLACE: I had heard in his . . . you know, from stories from

R. T. Brooks and others that John R. Fallis was something of a

Robin Hood. He could be very good and . . .


WALLACE: . . . passionate and kind to people and . . . and

when . . . people down and out on their luck, he would carry them

at his store or something like that. And I've heard similar

stories about your late husband, Bixie [Benjamin], that they're

sort of cut from the same mold; could be very good. And I've

heard that . . .

FALLIS: High-tempered, extremely high-tempered.

WALLACE: And he came by that probably from his daddy. But I

understand at one point that he got into a conflict with the Fire

Chief and was shot.


WALLACE: In some kind of dispute over . . .


WALLACE: . . . repairing toys or something.

FALLIS: Didn't like to be told. Didn't like to be bossed or

told. He always took things too . . . now, how should I say the

word . . . but he would get . . .

WALLACE: Personal?

FALLIS: Yeah, maybe. And, uh, you had to be awful careful

how you said whatever you say to him. If you didn't, well, he'd

be quick to knock your block off.

WALLACE: I heard a story and I'll just relate this to you. Do

you remember Charlie Hines?


WALLACE: Used to run the Historical Society years and years

ago. Charlie, for some reason, went out . . . I guess to your

all's house. This would have been the late fifties [1950s]. And

Bixie was sparring around with . . . I don't know, one of . . .

maybe did you all have some sons or maybe from the previous

marriage or something. And he got so excited. He was sparring

around with somebody. He turned around and knocked . . . hit Mr.

Hines and knocked him to the floor [laughter - Fallis]. And

Charlie leaped up and said, "Why did you do that, Bixie?" And he

said, "Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't . . . " He just got caught up in

the moment, I think [laughter].

FALLIS: Didn't mean to do that.

WALLACE: He was apparently . . . you know, he was good with

his fists and . . .

FALLIS: Oh, yes. He was . . .

WALLACE: . . . he exercised.

FALLIS: He was a very good-hearted person. And I always

called him a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. When he was good, he was

just good as he could be and as thoughtful and helpful to

everybody in the world as he could be.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

FALLIS: But he could get so mad. One day, I stepped on his

toe and just . . . he knocked me flat.

WALLACE: Oh, really?

FALLIS: Just that quick. Something would rile him.

WALLACE: And he'd just . . . something would snap.

FALLIS: But, then, he'd turn around and pick you up and want

to kiss you. And I said, "No, once you hit me, don't you try to

kiss me. You leave me alone till I cool off." [Laughter -

Wallace] I'm that way.

WALLACE: Well, I heard there was a . . . I guess it's in the

back of this. There's a text of a newspaper article. It doesn't

give the exact date. It's on the last . . . or second to the

last page where apparently . . . and this is before you met him

probably. Someone shoved Mr. Fallis, Bixie's [Benjamin's], wife?

FALLIS: Un-huh, down here on Broadway.

WALLACE: And there was a . . . oh, a horrible fight.

FALLIS: Yeah. Uh, Carlos, you know, was quite a fighter,

too, the other brother that was state representative.


FALLIS: Well, he came along and he got into it. So, it

turned out to be there's . . .

WALLACE: What year?

FALLIS: I think I've got a write-up.

WALLACE: Do you know what year that was?

FALLIS: I wish I'd got out that folder before you came that

I've got all of the Fallis stuff in it. And, uh, a lot of

clippings and everything. Oh, that was forties [1940s], thirties

[1930s], forties [1940s] . . . forties [1940s], I reckon. But

I'd have to get that paper to be sure.

WALLACE: Apparently it was quite a donnybrook, though.

Somebody hit, uh, Bixie [Benjamin] over the head with a shovel or

something. [Laughing]

FALLIS: Lord, I tell you. They were scared of him. And they

knew that he was like his daddy and he'd fight to the kill.

That's the kind of person he was. And, uh, I . . . I loved him

and, yet, I was afraid of him. He was that . . . that . . .

WALLACE: Temperamental.

FALLIS: . . . temperamental.

WALLACE: Let me ask you a little bit more about Craw. I'm

taking up a lot of your time here. Were most of the folks that

you encountered when you went door-to-door doing your

evangelistic work, were most of them poor or do you know what

economic status you would . . . they would have had?

FALLIS: Well, being poor and living in the Craw section, if

they did the underworld things that some of them did, it gave

them money that wasn't . . .


FALLIS: . . . brought over. But on the whole, they were

considered poor.

WALLACE: Umhumm. I just wondered if it was integrated. Were

there blacks and whites that lived down there?

FALLIS: Yeah, yeah.

WALLACE: That's what I thought. Some people had told me it

was strictly blacks, but I didn't . . .

FALLIS: No, it wasn't. Black and white both lived down in

there. And the black was just as good to me as gold, treated me

with respect. And I'll tell you another thing that I . . . that

I look up to today. Mayor Paul Judd, I asked him right after we

moved the church from the Craw over to Bellepoint . . . you know,

they were talking about atom bomb shelters and stuff.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

FALLIS: And I said, "Would you consider coming to our

church," which was a very poor congregation . . . illiterate. I

taught a lot of them to read and write. I said, "Would you come

and speak on the atom bomb and bomb shelters and stuff?" Well,

he did one Sunday morning. And that man, when service was over

and everybody left, I looked at the . . . at back at the door as

I was preparing to leave and there he stood holding his hat in

his hand. And when I got back there, he looked at me and he

said, "Sister Fallis," he says, "I'm not the kind of Christian I

ought to be. Would you pray for me?" And, you know, when that

man would see me up town in Frankfort Drug on Main Street or

anywhere, that man always tipped his hat to me. And that was

the most humbling feeling from anybody to think the Mayor of the

town tipped his hat to me. And I'll never forget that just

before he started tipping his hat, he told me one day in the

drugstore, he said, uh, "You know, you're going to have to hold

the noise down of that Pentecost Church over there in

Bellepoint;" says, "People that go . . . live around over there

and go to the ball game are complaining about the noise." And I

turned around real quick and I said, "Your Honor, let me tell you

one thing. If anybody holds the noise down, you're going to have

to tell that football field [laughter] to hold that noise down.

We can't hear the preacher or the singing and the people roar by

there in their cars and disturb our services. So, if there's any

quieting down, you do the quieting of that neighborhood."

WALLACE: Ahh, okay.

FALLIS: He looked at me.

WALLACE: [Laughing] He was probably . . .

FALLIS: "Yes, ma'am." From that day on, that man tipped his

hat to me. [Laughter - Wallace] But he never no more ever said

another word about us holding noise down. I said, "We're

shouting and . . . for the glory of God." And I said, "I don't

know what you all are shouting about down there at that ball

field, but it sure makes a lot of noise, and I can't even sleep

where I live down here at the other end of Kentucky Avenue."

[Laughter - Wallace]

WALLACE: I haven't . . . I need to find some people that knew

Mayor Judd because apparently at one point during the slum

clearance project, uh, Mayor Gerard, John Gerard . . .

FALLIS: John Gerard.

WALLACE: . . . went out of office, sort of lost out to Mayor

Judd, and the slum clearance project got into a little bit of

political controversy there and Mayor Judd wanted all of the

people on the slum clearance board to step down and he wanted to

appoint all . . . I guess his people.


WALLACE: And I've never really . . . I haven't talked to

anybody yet who knows what was behind all of that. I . . .

FALLIS: You know, it's funny how many things that I forget

that I hadn't even bothered . . . wasn't any use to think about,

I reckon, all that stuff.

WALLACE: Well, it's interesting to me. Let me read you a few

names of businesses and churches down in Craw and see if you have

some reactions to them. The Tiger Inn. Remember The Tiger Inn?

FALLIS: Tiger Inn. I can't think of that one, but I knew a

lot of the others; "Twenty Grand's".

WALLACE: What was "Twenty Grand's"? I haven- . . .

FALLIS: "Twenty Grand", you know, they run a place, I guess,

about as ornery, if you want to use that term, [laughter -

Wallace] and wicked or whatever, corrupt or vice. But that man

and Grace Sarven, I don't know if they ever married or if they

just lived together. I've never really found out.

WALLACE: Who was the man?

FALLIS: "Twenty Grand", they called him.

WALLACE: "Twenty Grand".

FALLIS: They called him "Twenty Grand". And what his right

name was, I'll . . . I don't know to this day. But all I ever

knew him by was "Twenty Grand", and he run what they called

"Twenty Grand's". It was his place.

WALLACE: Where was that?

FALLIS: Right down in the middle of Craw on . . .

WALLACE: What, Washington or . . .

FALLIS: No, it wasn't on Washington. It was on Clinton or

Mero, the . . . where all of the rest of them were along there,

across the Wilkinson . . . no, let's see. Wilkinson Street

School now. I don't remember if it was Mero or Clinton. What's

the first one after you leave Broadway going down that way? Do

you . . .

WALLACE: Clinton. Clinton parallels Broadway, and that's the

first one.

FALLIS: I believe it was on Clinton, I believe. Well,

anyway, to make a long story short, he sent for me one day. I

was scared to death. The Bottom scared me to death. And I would

say, "Lord, your word said you'd send the angels of the Lord to

take care of us and they encamp around about them that fear you,

and just go with me and I'll go." Well, he sent for me to come

to his place. And he said, "I'll have a man at the bottom of the

stairs to see that no harm comes to you. I want you to come and

pray with my . . . my wife." He called her his wife.


FALLIS: And I got down there and my eyes rolling around

looking, you know; and, sure enough, there was men down there and

took me up the stairs and into the room and he had me pray.

There she was, real bad off in bed, and had me pray over her.

And he sat there at the foot of the bed, tears streaming down his


WALLACE: Can you . . .

FALLIS: They were some of the most wonderful people, to be

wicked as they were supposed to be.


FALLIS: Humble.

WALLACE: Can you describe "Twenty Grand", what you saw when

you went in there? Do you remember it?

FALLIS: I didn't get to go in the place. I went a stairway

that run up the side.

WALLACE: Oh, up the side of the place.

FALLIS: There's a stairway . . .

WALLACE: You didn't have to go through . . .

FALLIS: . . . like you got a . . . like you come up my



FALLIS: Well, there was a partition . . . where my rail is,

there was a partition between there where I came up and through a

door into her room.

WALLACE: Um-hmm.

FALLIS: And beyond that partition was where the rest of

"Twenty Grand's" was. So, I didn't get to see in the place and

which I really wasn't anxious to. [Laughter]

WALLACE: No, I wasn't implying that you were.

FALLIS: No. But, I mean, you know . . . well, curiosity, I

guess I should have been, but I was just kind of frightened of

those people.

WALLACE: But, yet, you seem to indicate they almost led double

lives; that there could be all of this wickedness and sin going

on . . .

FALLIS: They were wicked. It's like you step on a snake, I

guess. Automatically that snake is going to defend itself. The

only thing it knows to do is bite or curl up or something, to


WALLACE: Umhumm.

FALLIS: So, if I went in a different attitude than . . . and

they were God-fearing people.


FALLIS: I don't believe to my remembrance I ever met one that

really wasn't God-fearing. There was this one man by the name .

. . I believe it was John Phillips. He lived in an old shanty at

the end of this street I'm talking about. What did you say,


WALLACE: Clinton, yes.

FALLIS: Down on the river.

WALLACE: Side, okay.

FALLIS: Right at the river bank. Well, they told me, says,

"Now, whatever you do, don't you go down there now knocking on

his door because, oh, he don't want to be bothered with any

Christian people. He don't want nothing to do with God nor

nobody. He killed somebody."


FALLIS: Said, "He murdered somebody." Well, you know, one

day, I can't exactly remember just where I met him, but I met

him. And I began to talk to him about the Lord. And that man

gave his life to Christ. Now, those are the kind of people that

was in the Bottom.

WALLACE: It sounds like if you took the time and had the

courage to approach them and work with them that things could be


FALLIS: I tell you this much. I know your time is short,

too, probably. You have to go to school. But, uh, while I had

this church down there on Wilkinson Street in the Craw, I was

just ignorant enough, I reckon, to simply believe that what I

read in the Bible was true and if it said whatever you could do

if you did it in the name of the Lord, you could do it, except I

never did raise the dead, nothing like that. I've seen a lot of

sick healed. But, anyway, these people could not read and write.

Well, that broke my heart. So, I went and bought pencil and

paper and I went bumming and everything for help . . . to people

to get me stuff to help teach these people how to read and write.

Well, there was some of them that I saw it was going to take a

lot of teaching, and Christmas rolled around and I wanted to put

on a Christmas play for them. So, they were old and young alike.

They did not know how to even sign their name.

WALLACE: Was this members of your congregation?

FALLIS: In this congregation of these people from down there

in the Craw. Well, I always heard that a picture is worth a

thousand words. I'm not a professional artist, but I began

to . . . to draw things for them just to teach them that way.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

FALLIS: Draw pictures, illustrations.


FALLIS: Chalk illustrations. And for this Christmas play, I

worked with those people, men, old men. It would touch your

heart to see these old men as the wise men. We made . . . and

they helped make whatever I needed for the wise men for that

whole play or to decorate it. They worked constantly at night,

coming in after they worked or whatever they did, to learn their

parts just by memory because they couldn't read anything.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

FALLIS: We had one of the best Christmas plays I have ever

been involved with in my life and was the proudest. Even my

brother . . . I got him out of jail to come to it. [Laughter -

Wallace] He would . . . had gotten on a drunk and was locked up

and I called Johnny West and I said, "Can I come get him and

bring him down to church?" He said, "Yes, Vivian, Ms. Fallis."

So, uh, I went and got him and brought him down to church, and,

uh, he sat there through the whole play. And when it was over,

with tears in his eyes, and he said, "Well," said, "Susie" . . .

he never would call me by my first name. He said, "Susie, you're

doing a wonderful work down here;" said, "I never would have

believe it." And he said, "This play is just something special."

I said, "When you see people that don't know how to read and

write," and here they are, they're old and they realized how mu-

. . . how much they have let pass them by.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

FALLIS: You know, without learning and doing and, uh . . .

learning to read is a key that unlocks the door. Knowledge is a

great key to learn.

WALLACE: Were there children . . . the children of the . . .

FALLIS: They had children and grandchildren and . . .

WALLACE: Were they in the same state as far as education?

They didn't have . . .

FALLIS: Their children went to church. Here in the last two

or three weeks when I . . .

[End of Tape #1, Side #1]

[Begin Tape #1, Side #2]

FALLIS: . . . and at that time was still young and single and

not married. And, uh, I want you to know, those people, they're

just as good as gold; and to this day, they remember me and then

and remembered their daddy and all of that. Those people, they

come to church. They didn't live maybe like somebody up town.

They did . . . they did the best they could do by what they

learned and . . . but, now, a lot of them, like I started to tell

you about these girls. They raised their children up in school.

So, now, here they are with pretty good jobs and a pretty decent


WALLACE: Umhumm. Well, that's a story I've heard . . . a lot

of instances where people who were either born or lived briefly

in the Bottom or Craw moved up in the world.

FALLIS: But some never escaped it because . . . but it was

the younger one. Like Mr. Quire's daughter, Emma, and Buncie

and, uh, all of them. They, uh . . . they didn't never really

escape it. They may now be living out a better way of life. I

don't know if that's called escape or not.

WALLACE: Escape it in what sense? You mean the life that they

were living . . .

FALLIS: Well, I mea- . . .

WALLACE: . . . or the . . .

FALLIS: Yeah, yeah.

WALLACE: Okay. The conditions . . .


WALLACE: . . . of their home might have improved when they

relocated . . .

FALLIS: Yeah, that's what I'm talking about.

WALLACE: . . . but the same . . . the life they led . . .

FALLIS: I don't know. But, anyway, now, they're more able to

buy for themselves and their children and to do a lot of things

they couldn't do then.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

FALLIS: But, of course, a lot of people's financial state, I

guess, after that period of time have improved and work around

Frankfort possibly improved and . . . but, now, their children,

Emma and them's children, they're a lot better off. They haven't

lived down in there . . .

WALLACE: Umhumm.

FALLIS: . . . and known all that. So, I call it escaping.

There may be a better word for it. But, uh . . .

WALLACE: Well, you told me about some of the places there. Do

you remember a place called Robb's Funeral Home?

FALLIS: Yes, and my husband . . . every time Mr. Robb wanted

his organ moved, he wouldn't let nobody move it but Bixie

[Benjamin]. [Laughing] And, uh, I sewed some for this mother.

WALLACE: Ms. Robb?


WALLACE: That was rather a substantial place, and one of the

black residents remembered very well because it was one of the

few black-owned businesses down there. Uh, are there some other

places that stick out in your mind when you think of Craw;

businesses or places . . .

FALLIS: There was Christopher's Grocery. It was on the

corner there of Wilkinson and Clinton, and . . .

WALLACE: Who was running that?

FALLIS: Christopher . . . or was that his last name? They

called it Christopher's Grocery.

WALLACE: Can you just sort of describe it for me?

FALLIS: It was just a little frame kind of store on the

corner there, just a small place; one-room place.

WALLACE: Sell produce and meat and dry goods?

FALLIS: Yeah, and groceries. Well, I don't know if they had

any dry goods. He just, uh . . . I can't remember any of that.

But groceries. Just staple foods, I guess you'd call it.

WALLACE: Mostly for the Bottom . . .


WALLACE: . . . residents to come and get their . . .

FALLIS: But I tell you one thing; that when I . . . when I

married Bixie [Benjamin] and I started meeting people, they would

say, "You're John Fallis's daughter-in-law?" And I'd say, "Yes."

"Well, let me tell you one thing, don't you never say anything

bad about him to me. He's one of the finest men that ever lived.

When my family was hungry, he brought loads of groceries; and

when the winter come and we run out of, uh, coal, he brought coal

to our house;" and said, "He's . . .," that was the story that

people I would meet.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

FALLIS: Don't you . . . and I didn't dare open my mouth. I

was scared. I didn't know who was what.

WALLACE: Yes. [Laughing]

FALLIS: John Fallis is a fine man.

WALLACE: Was he . . . I know you've said, you know,

temperamental and could be moody. Did he do these acts of

kindness and generosities solely because that was an aspect of

his personality or did he command loyalty from the community by

doing these things?

FALLIS: I don't really know.

WALLACE: You know, sometimes . . .

FALLIS: If I had lived and known him personally . . .


FALLIS: . . . I could have told you. But I don't know

really. Uh, like I say, I just go by what these people . . . he

had their loyalty.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

FALLIS: But they called him the czar of the underworld. He


WALLACE: Yes. I've heard many . . .

FALLIS: He ruled.

WALLACE: . . . many stories that . . .

FALLIS: I did have a pardon. He signed his own pardon.

WALLACE: His own pardon? [Laughing]

FALLIS: I had that somewhere, and I don't know. In the

papers if it's some . . . I've moved several times since my

husband died and, uh, sold my property and everything, and I

wound up here in an apartment. But I had a lot of things that,

uh, I don't have no idea where they are now.

WALLACE: I'd love to find . . . if you ever know of anybody or

can direct me . . . someone who took photographs of that area

prior to its destruction in the early sixties [1960s].

FALLIS: Oh, Lord, I've got pictures of . . . haven't you ever

seen any pictures of the old store where John Fallis lived and

where he made his famous escape? [Laughing]

WALLACE: I've seen . . . the only picture I've seen is the

one . . .

FALLIS: Let me see right quick.


[Interruption in Tape]

FALLIS: . . . on or what.

WALLACE: Was he convicted of the murder of John R. Fallis?

FALLIS: He got away with it. He got away. They never did .

. .

WALLACE: Sentence him.

FALLIS: . . . sentence him, whatever you call it. Let's see.

This is what you've got a copy you showed me?

WALLACE: Yeah. I was going to leave that with you, but you've

already got that.

FALLIS: I've got that. That's some information. That's my

husband and he run for jailer and there's his mother. That was

when he was in service. That's his daughter that died of cancer.

And this is our daughter that we had.

WALLACE: There he is there . . .

FALLIS: Umhumm.

WALLACE: . . . with the family dog.

FALLIS: Uh-huh. Some of these . . . I couldn't get it very

clear. I had to get it in sections about . . .

WALLACE: This is August 18th, 1929.

FALLIS: Umhumm. See, John . . .

WALLACE: John Fallis killed.

FALLIS: . . . Fallis killed. And some of the other . . . I

got it in pieces.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

FALLIS: See . . .

WALLACE: It was so large. They . . .

FALLIS: When they tried to give me . . . and there's the

store and . . .

WALLACE: Yeah, and I've seen . . .

FALLIS: . . . and Mr. Fallis. Have you got that?

WALLACE: I've seen that one, yes. That's a dandy one.

FALLIS: Well, I've got the original, but I . . . or I had the

original, I think, unless I gave that to the Historical Society.

WALLACE: Now, I've seen the original over at . . . I think you

must have given that one to us.

FALLIS: I must have donated that. If I did, my daughters

nearly had a fit. [Laughter - Wallace] They said, "Mamma, don't

you give him everything you . . . you copy stuff. Don't you . .

." I said . . .

WALLACE: Do you think they'll ever do a book?

FALLIS: I don't know. I . . .

WALLACE: I wish someone would. I . . .

FALLIS: Well, Bixie [Benjamin] always wanted . . .

WALLACE: You ought to undertake it.

FALLIS: . . . it done. And that was my son that's dead and

our youngest daughter.

WALLACE: Oh, there?

FALLIS: He wasn't Bixie's [Benjamin's] child.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

FALLIS: He was little when Bixie [Benjamin] and I married.

And there's Mr. John Fallis.

WALLACE: Ahh, there's his picture there.

FALLIS: But I just . . . my daughter must have the photograph

album with the old pictures and everything in it and she's at

work. And that one.

WALLACE: Well, you gave me the . . .

FALLIS: Now, here was where a part of . . . a part of that's

gone, but I had all of that and that was the old place outside.

WALLACE: Now, is that from a newspaper article at the time of

the murder?


WALLACE: Wonder which paper that was? Do you know, by chance?

It's probably Courier or Herald-Leader.

FALLIS: The Frankfort paper, I think.


FALLIS: And this is bars and liquors in the Craw section of

Frankfort were closed. That was April 22nd, but it don't say

what year. But, I . . .

WALLACE: April 22nd.

FALLIS: In the Craw section of Frankfort by city police and

state highway patrolman after a series of street fights

[laughing] involving Negroes and whites, Chief of Police, Guy

Wainscott. So, you could determine the year by when Guy

Wainscott was in.


FALLIS: The Chief said he acted under orders from Mayor

Arthur Jones, and that's . . .

WALLACE: That was really . . .

FALLIS: Oh, that must have been fifties [1950s]. Let's see.

"James Owens, Negro, a student at Kentucky State College was

booked on a charge of disorderly conduct." The Chief said, and

he suffered head and face cuts. Bixie [Benjamin] Fallis, a City

Fireman, was hospitalized with head injuries. Patrolman Walter

Gritton said the trouble developed after Fallis came to him and

reported that three Negroes pushed his wife off the sidewalk and

said something to her." So, then, that was all about that.

WALLACE: Yeah. As a matter of fact, the text of that article

is in that little handout. We can get the date from Mayor Arthur

Jones's term in office.

FALLIS: This one is about, if you've read it, John Fallis,

primary election day, "gunfight with a policeman has resulted in

one dead and se- . . ."

WALLACE: Do you have a year on that one?

FALLIS: August the 8th, but it don't have the year on it

either. I don't know how come. I think these were all in her

scrapbook, Ms. Fallis's scrapbook.

WALLACE: Well, we know it must have been before twenty-nine


FALLIS: Here's the picture of some of the policemen and all

about them.

WALLACE: Okay. Was that . . .

FALLIS: And when he shot . . .

WALLACE: Oh, barricaded himself in . . .

FALLIS: Mr. Fallis, umhumm.

WALLACE: Do you know when that incident took place by chance?

FALLIS: Well . . .

WALLACE: It must have been sometime prior to '29 [1929], of

course, but . . .

FALLIS: Yeah. It was before '29 [1929]. Let's see. That

was the home down there on the corner of Wilkinson, but, doggone

it, part of it is missing. I ought to have a better picture than

that somewhere. And this picture here is Mr. Fallis, I think,

and one of . . . and his brother. But it was from an old

tintype. But they he, uh, I think, what do you call, barricaded

himself in here.

WALLACE: What...I was told by R. T. Brooks that maybe one of

the boys had gotten in a row . . . the police were looking for

John . . .

FALLIS: Looking for Carlos, I think, for getting into the

ball field or something. And I don't know. It all . . . there

was several different occasions. This is the names and pictures

of the policemen that were shot and how they all, uh, riddled

both buildings with bullets and all of that stuff. Fallis

escaped and it's not . . . [laughing] . . . captured. So, I

don't know, but you could, uh . . .

WALLACE: Okay. That just . . .

FALLIS: I've got more than this somewhere. But, like I say,

my daughter must have some of it. I don't have . . .

WALLACE: Well, maybe sometime I could arrange to meet you

someplace at the Society and make a photocopy of the file.

FALLIS: Some of the stuff that you want.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

FALLIS: And I'll see if I can get . . . we've got a whole

book from Ms. Fallis, and I'm sure Charlene's got it somewhere.

WALLACE: Well, maybe you can check on that.

FALLIS: But I had started . . . my daughter . . . I've got

more than this because we did a genealogy work-up for my daughter

because Mr. Fallis was her grandfather. Let me see if on here is

any date. According to Mr. Fallis, he was never in the wrong.

[Laughter - Wallace] That was the way my husband was. And

several years ago, a boat was blown up. Fallis's hat and coat

were found near the explosion. He was supposed to be dead. A

year later, he reappeared in Frankfort. Oh, Lord.

WALLACE: I know. It definitely deserves a mini-series if not

a book.

FALLIS: So, I mean . . . I don't guess I've got any more

copies of this, but I'll see about getting some if you're

interested . . .

WALLACE: Well, I'll tell you what . . .

FALLIS: I'm trying to see what else . . . but the Craw, it's

a lot of . . . a lot down there. There was, uh, Charlie . . . I

think his name was Spaulding. I knew his family. He's another

one that always told my husband, he said, "Don't you never worry

when your wife comes down here because me or some of my men is

going to be looking out for her welfare."

WALLACE: Umhumm.

FALLIS: So, said, "Don't you worry nothing about her getting

hurt when she's down here." And I thought, "Yeah, the Lord

appointed you all my guardian angels." [Laughter - Wallace]

WALLACE: A strange assortment of guardian angels.

FALLIS: Umhumm. And, uh . . .

WALLACE: Did you say you had a map where you drew in the

places that were down there? I'd love to see that.

FALLIS: Uh-huh. What was on Wilkinson Street and all down on

the river?


FALLIS: I was trying to, uh . . . Kentucky River Mills and

where it was on down . . .

WALLACE: Umhumm.

FALLIS: And what was along there.

WALLACE: Did you go on in to town?

FALLIS: T. E. Kenney's [T.E. Kenney and Sons Lumber] . . .

let's see, now. That's where the . . . the bridge and Bellepoint

and the sawmill and the planing mill was along here, and here's

Wilkinson Street . . .

WALLACE: Umhumm.

FALLIS: . . . from the trestle down, starting down. The

books they had them in were so big that I couldn't get them on

the copier.

WALLACE: Oh, you probably looked at those old Sanborn

Insurance maps . . .

FALLIS: Those old insurance maps.

WALLACE: Yes, okay. I know what you're talking about.

FALLIS: And see what . . . the distillery and what was where

and everything.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

FALLIS: The sand traps and all and . . . Wilkinson Street,

here's another part of it and what was . . . it was the river and

what was places and . . . places I didn't know were there, Shoats

and Grim.

WALLACE: A lot of them probably went out of business before .

. .

FALLIS: Oh, Lord, yes.

WALLACE: . . . you ever came . . .

FALLIS: Lord, yeah.

WALLACE: Ever came to Frankfort.

FALLIS: And all of . . . I just got lots of them. I was

trying to reconstruct all of it. So, anytime you want, you'd be

welcome to look at them. What I've got . . . and I was trying to

draw the whole thing of Frankfort.

WALLACE: Oh, good grief. That would have been quite a . . .

quite a project.

FALLIS: It's all changed so much, even from the time that I

was a girl. This was 1882.

WALLACE: Umhumm. Do you remember Corinthian Baptist on Mero .

. . Corinthian Baptist?

FALLIS: Isn't it still there?

WALLACE: Corinthian Baptist Church? Umm . . .

FALLIS: There's a Baptist church still down there. What's

the name of that?

WALLACE: That's on Clinton, First Baptist.

FALLIS: That brick? What's it . . . isn't that Corinthian .

. .

WALLACE: Yeah, ahh . . .

FALLIS: . . . or is that AME?

WALLACE: That's St. John's AME at the corner of Lewis and

Clinton; and, then, farther on up at the head of High and

Clinton is the First Baptist.

FALLIS: Oh, yeah.

WALLACE: The Corinthian moved over to Murray Street.

FALLIS: Oh, that's . . .

WALLACE: Second and Murray.

FALLIS: That's the one that's over there, that new one that's

built over there. I bet they done that when the slum clearance

come along.

WALLACE: It is. It's a . . . yes, ma'am. They did. I just

wondered if you had been in the old one before it got tore down?

FALLIS: No. I never was inside any of them ex- . . . let's

see. I know one time when I pastored the church down there on

Wilkinson Street, several of the colored ladies from some of

those churches would come in and sing or play the piano and sing,

visit with us. It was along about the time they were beginning

to try to make the change.

WALLACE: Integration, yeah.

FALLIS: And my husband was so bitter against colored people.

I would tell him it was a shame. Some of the best friends I've

got are colored people.

WALLACE: Which is strange because, I mean, he sort of probably

lived and grew up in an area where there were colored people.

FALLIS: Yeah. Well, him and Mose Marcus and all of them

played ball on the ball diamond down there on Wilkinson Street.

And when Hyman Marcus had the jewelry store, they would all laugh

and talk when I'd go in there with my husband about a ring or

something. They'd laugh and talk about the fun they had and the

ball games they played and . . . uh, uh, I can't belie-. . . I

know when, uh, I helped to vol- . . . worked as a volunteer with,

uh, the Alzheimer's group out at the center, and Mr. Hyman

Marcus, they brought him over there for two or three trips,

times. And when he saw me, he'd begin to go on about the good

times him and Bixie [Benjamin] had together when they was growing

up, you know.

WALLACE: Umhumm. Is Elliott Marcus kin to . . .

FALLIS: Elliott is a son of Moses, isn't he?

WALLACE: I think so, but I'm not 100% sure.

FALLIS: Well, I'll tell you how you can find out all of that

history. On the centennial paper that was put out here the last

time one was out, uh, little Sam Marcus told me that all of that

was a write-up in there about all of that.

WALLACE: I see. Okay.

FALLIS: About his daddy and granddaddy and all of them when

they first come to Frankfort.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

FALLIS: And I went in there, I said, "I want to put you all .

. . I'm writing . . . I'm trying to write a book called The Old

Out of The New. And, uh . . . or The New Out of The Old rather,

and vice versa." I said, "I want to put like the new places that

are here now where the old ones used to be. I'm trying to write

about it." And they said, "Well, it's already been put in the

centennial." I said, "Yeah, but not the way I want to do it."

So, anyway, that's when he gave me a copy one time and showed me

that, uh . . . I think I've got it down in here. I get things

all mixed up when I'm doing genealogy. Uh, here's the old bridge

between . . . goes over to Bellepoint, the old Bellepoint Bridge.

WALLACE: Umm. It's about . . . it's rusted away now, isn't


FALLIS: Yeah, all rusted away.

WALLACE: Not much left to it.

FALLIS: Uh-huh.

WALLACE: I've asked you a lot and I've taken up a lot of your

time, but what really excited me is I have not met a minister

from the area and I had . . .

FALLIS: You hadn't?

WALLACE: Did not realize that they had a woman pastor.

FALLIS: Well, like I said, my family came to accept it and

treat me with great respect. But, uh, at first, I went through a

lot of . . . and I'll tell you something else. My husband, when

I told him that I was called to preach, he literally run me off

from home.


FALLIS: He said, "I'm not going to be married to any

Bible-toting preacher." Said, "I want a wife that will stay

home." And I said, "All right." I said, "I'll just leave you in

the hands of the Lord and I'll pray for you." So, there was a

Bible conference at Paris, Kentucky. My pastor and this other

lady minister that was in the church, Emma Cammuse, she and I

took my car. And when I went and picked her and her little girl

up, I had my son with me. He was my oldest child. And I said,

"Bixie's run me off from home, not going to let me come back."

But, I said, "I'm just going to leave him in the hands of the

Lord." So, here we go, two women, just a singing and a going off

down the highway; just, boy, we was going to the Bible


WALLACE: Umhumm.

FALLIS: That was something. I had never been to one. Well,

we got down to the Bible conference, and I told them all down

there at the camp meeting what was . . . what had gone on and

they made me preach my first sermon. I didn't begin to know how

to get the sermon together. But I did the best I could and got

to just talking about things. They . . . and I preached they

said for an hour. So, then . . . well, anyway, they went on and

the camp meeting was over and time come to go home. Well, there

got to be a little knot right up here. And I said, "Well, I'm

agoing home because the rest of my kittens are there and my mamma

and daddy is there and I'll go out Mamma's if I'm not welcome

when I get home. I'll go out Mamma's. But I just believe the

Lord has moved." Well, when we got home the next morning and I

pulled in the driveway around toward the back door and I went . .

. started to slip in the back door.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

FALLIS: Well, there he stood shaving, standing in the back

door, and the mirror hung on the door and the sink was there in a

corner, and was shaving. And, uh, well, he said, "Hello, honey,

how are you?" And I said, "I'm fine." "Oh," he says, "Baby, I'm

so glad you come back home. I didn't mean what I said." And he

went in the other room and come back and he had ordered me a

Thompson's Chain Reference Bible.


FALLIS: He said, "If you're going to preach and you're going

to do what the Lord has called you to do, I want you to have the

best to preach with." And he said, "God bless you."

WALLACE: Yeah. Sort of illustrates how different his . . .

FALLIS: So, from then on, it was . . .

WALLACE: He was supportive of you.

FALLIS: He was proud of his wife for preaching.

WALLACE: Well, I thank you so very much for giving me all of

this time and what I'd like to do sometime . . .

FALLIS: Well, I feel like I've talked too much about too many

odd things, maybe not exactly on the subjects you want to hear.

But if I can . . . maybe we can get together again, you know, and

kind of get more of a sketched outline of what you really want to

know and . . .

WALLACE: Well, I've got, you know, other questions here on the

slum clearance project; but I sort of got the sense that your

congregation business leaders handled that rather than you.

FALLIS: Yeah. There was a board and they're all gone.

WALLACE: You know, I've read . . .

FALLIS: About all of them is dead and gone.

WALLACE: . . . in the newspapers where a lot of the residents

in the community resented the project and fought it. They got a

petition up and people signed a petition.

FALLIS: I think they did. I can't remember.

WALLACE: And they even had some lawyers come over from

Lexington. And it may have been the blacks more so than the


FALLIS: I don't remember for certain on that.

WALLACE: Yeah. They . . .

FALLIS: I was so busy involved in the church program and

getting it moved.

WALLACE: Do you know if the church felt like they got a fair

price for their buildings and relocation?

FALLIS: At first, we didn't. So, Bixie [Benjamin], I think,

went to a lawyer and they upped it, but I don't remember how much

they gave us more than they had first offered.

WALLACE: Oh, really. So, you had to . . . to . . . to get

back and dicker with them on it?

FALLIS: Uh-huh.

WALLACE: They didn't actually condemn your property, did they?

FALLIS: They were going to take it, clear . . . they were

going to tear it down, see.

WALLACE: Oh, really?


WALLACE: Could they have it declared . . .

FALLIS: They had to tear it down because it was right on

Wilkinson Street and they were going to clean all of that out.

WALLACE: I know some of the businesses and people, the City

bought their property and they had to rent from the City until .

. .

FALLIS: Well . . . .

WALLACE: . . . they could find relocation housing or a new

place for their business. Do you remember if the church had to

pay rent to the City or . . .

FALLIS: No, we didn't have . . . because we sold the church

and moved to Bellepoint. So, we didn't have to do anything like

that. It broke my heart when they tore it down. Been a lot of

good times down there and a lot of friends made and a lot of

victories won and a lot of battles fought against the Devil.

WALLACE: Is the church that relocated over in Bellepoint still

going and the sa- . . .

FALLIS: No. After I put it in the Church of God, you know

what they done?


FALLIS: They sold it.

WALLACE: They sold the building?

FALLIS: Sold the property. Put the money in the Church of

God's fund, and put it into another church somewhere.

WALLACE: What happened to the congregation? What happened to

the people? They just scattered or . . .

FALLIS: For a while, they kind of scattered; and, then,

uh . . . I don't know if Tommy Barnes still has it or not. But

he bought the property, I believe. He was . . . come out of the

Baptist Church and became an independent minister and has been a

minister for a number of years now. And I think he's still over

there. Maybe some of them is still going there to his

congregation. I don't know. I've never been over there since

the day that I walked out and they . . .


FALLIS: I got down sick is how come us to put it in the

Church of God. I couldn't any longer pastor.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

FALLIS: And, uh, I had to give up pastoring and I never have

gone back to pastoring. I did some evangelistic work over in

Whitesburg and different places for a while. But I was sick for

a long time and, uh, so I never did do that. But I don't know if

any of them are going over there or not. But so many of them are

dead and gone.

WALLACE: Yeah. When they relocated all of the families out of

there, do you know . . . did they tend to put them in one area or

did they scatter?

FALLIS: They just went wherever they wanted to buy or go or

rent. If they didn't own their place, they had to just fi- . . .

a lot of them went out here to Bald Knob.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

FALLIS: They often call that the new Craw . . .

WALLACE: Oh, I see . . .

FALLIS: Because so many of them went out that way, out Bald

Knob and out that direction.

WALLACE: I had not heard that.

FALLIS: And when I had the . . . when I was working and there

would be people come sometimes over by the hospital. And this

one man, he said, "Oh, that's somebody from out to the old Bald

Knob bunch." Excuse me.

[Interruption in Tape]

WALLACE: . . . thing and, then, I'll be out of . . . now that

Craw is gone and we've had the Capital Plaza Tower for almost 20

years now . . .

FALLIS: Has it been that long?

WALLACE: Yeah. It opened in '72 [1972] or '73 [1973]. So,

we're looking at 18 years.

FALLIS: I guess it did because my husband was still living

and we went down to the sports thing to, uh, shows and things

they had.

WALLACE: Umhumm. When you look back on it, what . . . was it

a good thing for the community or . . .

FALLIS: Well, it was bound to have been, Jim, a good thing

for the community. People are reluctant to change themselves or

their surroundings. Sometimes they have to be forced into it.

And some people did grudgingly like a lot of them probably did

and, uh, didn't want to accept the change. I'm that way as I've

gotten older. I . . . I hate change. I have, uh, regretted ever

having to give up the home where Bixie and I lived in Bellepoint

for 25 years. It was the first real roots. It wasn't a modern

home, but it was where we put labors of love into it. And we

bought it. I could see things. I'd . . . I'd fixed new floors

and I'd tore out a wall and I'd done this and done that and

papered, and I'd entertain. We always was having the church,

come on and go home with us and we'll all eat out in the

backyard, and, you know, and things like that. It had so many

memories. But, yet, on the other hand, common sense told me

there wasn't any way in the world or any reason for me to live

there after the family was grown and Bixie [Benjamin] was gone.

WALLACE: And maybe that's . . .

FALLIS: It had served its purpose.

WALLACE: . . . the same with these folk, you know. It was

home, but it had served its purpose and it was time to . . . to


FALLIS: Yeah. But they didn't know anything else and didn't

have a lot of, uh . . . or anybody or anything to pull them out

and give them any better way of life. If you take away

something, you've always got to give somebody something back in

place of it.

WALLACE: I guess you have to decide if what they were given

was of more value than what they had.

FALLIS: We can look at it and say, yes, it was a lot better

for every one of them; but, on the other hand, knowing a lot of

these people, the older ones, as I did, they couldn't, uh, adjust

to the change. They probably died in their bitterness and doing

the best they could, not being accepted where they moved out to.

WALLACE: Did you meet anyone that was sort of in those

circumstances; I mean, talk to anyone afterwards that said . . .

FALLIS: Yeah, 'cause, of course, they came to the church over

there for a while after the slum clearance program. And, uh,

they were scattered out and here and there, and they always would

. . . "Don't see why they had to take our church, why they had to

take our home. Everybody just wants too much anymore; everybody

is just getting proud, you know." If you get anything better,

they called it, "being proud".

WALLACE: So, some of them just evidently did not accept it.

FALLIS: Didn't have any vision for the future. Didn't want

any better education or any knowledge. That's why people remain

in the shape they're in. They don't have any vision. The Bible

said, "Without a vision, my people perish."

WALLACE: I've read that quote. That's a good one.

FALLIS: And, uh, but with me, I always had a vision to do and

to better . . . I'd look at them and I'd think, well, you're

ragged, I have to run home and make you something or I'll get

something of Bixie's [Benjamin] to make it all better, give you

something clean, lift you up. But with them, they, uh, they

didn't particularly want to do that.

WALLACE: Or they didn't see the need to do it.

FALLIS: They couldn't look in the mirror and see how filthy

they were.

WALLACE: Umhumm.

FALLIS: I mean, filthy. If they had, they'd got up and done

something about it.

WALLACE: But like you said earlier, they may not have known

anything else.

FALLIS: That's what I'm talking about. That's the only way

they lived. The Bible said, "Don't let . . ." about a hog return

to its wallow. Well, why did he do that? Did you ever think of


WALLACE: Out of ignorance.

FALLIS: He didn't know anyplace else to go, did he?

WALLACE: It was comfortable. He was comfortable.

FALLIS: That was comfortable.

WALLACE: Well, let me say this to you. If we can get together

again sometime and maybe, uh, not necessarily talk, but I would

like to see if you had . . . if you found Mrs. Fallis's scrapbook

and wouldn't mind letting me look at it or maybe we can meet at

the Historical Society and I could arrange to get parts of it . .


FALLIS: Copies from it.

WALLACE: . . . photocopied. That would . . . I see two

articles coming out of this. One research paper on the Craw and

the relocation, and eventually a paper on John R. Fallis and his

life and times. And I'm talking about a short research paper for

maybe . . .


WALLACE: . . . the Register of the Historical Society or

something like that.

FALLIS: Well . . .

WALLACE: If the family wouldn't mind me doing something.

FALLIS: What I wonder, I'm a . . . I'm a daughter-in-law. Of

course, I've got a daughter that's his granddaughter, John's

granddaughter. So, I don't know how has the authority if there'd

be anybody question that. He had . . . Bixie had a younger

brother, Ishmael, that was in Chicago. I haven't seen him since

the day of Bixie's [Benjamin] funeral. I don't know if he's dead

or alive.

WALLACE: R. T. Brooks doesn't know where he is either.

FALLIS: He doesn't know either?


FALLIS: If anybody would know, R. T. and Betty would because

they're the only ones that I know of he contacted when he come to


WALLACE: Well, he's been married three or four times . . .


WALLACE: . . . and just kept switching things around and they

don't know exactly where he is now.

FALLIS: Of course, Betty is the great- . . . is the


WALLACE: Daughter, yeah.

FALLIS: Granddaughter.

WALLACE: They've got a picture, I'm sure you've seen it, of

John R. Fallis's casket when Bixie [Benjamin] had it relocated.

FALLIS: Yeah. That's what I'm talking about. I had all

that. I had the original pictures. I don't know where they are.

WALLACE: If you happen to stumble on to them, I'd love to get

with you and make photocopies of them sometime.

FALLIS: I know I had a fit when Bixie [Benjamin] had him dug

up and reburied. Mrs. Fallis, she said, "I don't never want to

live with him no more. I don't want him buried by me when I

die." Well, Bixie [Benjamin], then, he couldn't have it the way

he wanted it while they were living. He dug him . . . dug him up

and had him buried next to Mrs. Fallis at the cemetery. And I

said, "She ought to raise up and haunt you." [Laughter -

Wallace] Because she didn't want nothing to do with it that way.

WALLACE: I never understood why, uh . . . you know, she was

such a religious woman and she must have known what . . .

FALLIS: She was a good woman, good woman. Why, honey, he

would take . . . he took Anna Lee Blackwell [Anna Mae Blackwell]

and lived in the other end of the house, that big house down

there, the old Fallis place. Had her in one end of the house and

Mrs. Fallis on the other.

WALLACE: My goodness.

FALLIS: And Bixie [Benjamin] would tell many a time about Mr.

Fallis going and getting Mrs. Fallis and pulling her out of

church by the hair of her head and taking her out and gonna kill

her, and him and somebody went and told Bixie [Benjamin] and

Carlos about it and they followed him and found him and they

rescued Mrs. Fallis from him. He'd a-killed her. Oh, Lord, the

hair-raising tales my husband has told me and Mrs. Fallis has

told me. No wonder I've lived scared to death till they all

died. [Laughter - Wallace] I've been reprieved, [laughing] but

don't you put that on there.

WALLACE: Let me stop . . .

[End of Interview]