Michael Garrett

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Michael Garrett

Heather White

Tuesday, December 27, 2016
East Carolina University

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Heather White (00:01)
Okay, today is Tuesday, December 27 2016. Can you tell me your name?

Michael Garrett (00:07)
Im Michael Garrett

Heather White (00:09)
All right, is it Okay, I'm interviewing you? Okay. All right.

Michael Garrett (00:14)
I don't feel ball and chain around my ankles.

Heather White (00:16)
All right, that's all right. So You can go on record that It is not forced saying. So we're here we're talking about the sitting on town common and talking about the sycamore Hill community in the neighborhood that was next to that community.

Michael Garrett (00:32)
Can I ask you one question?

Heather White (00:33)

Michael Garrett (00:36)
have you ever walked downtown in the last two years in the first block of EvansStreet after you leavethe courthouse. The self help building.

Heather White (00:47)

Michael Garrett (00:48)
Did you happen to notice the nine pictures in the window there for two years?

Heather White (00:54)
I don't know that I did.

Michael Garrett (00:55)
It's interesting. Because there were none pitches in the lobby of the self help building that depicted this book. in both directions, the Sycamore Hill in the poker. Okay. So we're free to ask me about some pictures. I saw what Damn they got the pictures already. Those nine pictures. Were part of a total collection that I have seen.

Heather White (01:23)

Michael Garrett (01:25)
These are what somebody told me. Beautiful black and white pictures. Chamber of Commerce. I was to stop that. Chamber of Commerce, the Uptown downtown business, they got picked up the last because in 57/58 When urban renewal was imminent, they took pictures of every street up one street and down the other. I seen that collection. And I don't believe they burned.

Heather White (02:01)
Okay. We're working definitely check. Is it still up in selfhelp or do you know?

Michael Garrett (02:08)
I don't think so.

Heather White (02:09)
I can definitely make that connection if they can see if we can.

Michael Garrett (02:12)
It's a marvelous collection.

Heather White (02:14)

Michael Garrett (02:15)
Reed Street, Washington Street. You name it. They would up one street and down and took a picture of everything that they knew was going to be gone. So when somebody says to me bring me your pictures, hey, we didn't have a damn cameras. Talking about anyway? You were saying?

Heather White (02:44)
I this exactly what you're doing is what we were looking for just we want to hear stories and your memories of you know, growing up here

Michael Garrett (02:51)
Sycamore Hill they had a youth organization called BTUs. I have more young people unbelieving I had no way whoever tore it down should be bought to put it back brick by brick. That black folks did something like that. And that time. It just breaks my heart. It just breaks my heart. It wasn't just four walls youve seen the pictures. It was quite a piece of architecture. And they knocked it down like it was a wood house. I don't like to even talk about I wouldn't remember that was a memory up the more low level knock it down to coming in and talking about it's painful. But in all fairness, there were two white churches big on the corner of Pitt, and Fifth Street they go to they love their church and just like we loved ours. Hey, wouldn't it be nice?

Heather White (04:38)
So did say you you grew up in the neighborhood here as well.

Michael Garrett (04:42)
Only if we're real busy right now. Okay. You have a real busy

Heather White (04:47)
Day. Yeah. Yeah. So you've heard lots of stories of all the children that made up the community

Michael Garrett (04:57)
I wouldn't go on this at the nano was don't go near the river that was the no no do not go to the river although our only recreation facility was right on the damn river, right down there on the end of Evans sweetie cherry was the person that supervising the summer time. as [inaudible] and you lost some people get drowned in the other than the river do. You call them our reservoirs between that rural pipe becomes barren the Presbyterian church there were some reservoirs down there that look like safe swimming holes but for the boys that were young like me it was over our heads I remember one day My brother came home and head been there and my daddy beat his ass the recreation center was adjacent to river that there was a burden I flew in on the corner of reed and fifth the road about that I want to get into you can get into has already heard some stories we've already heard stories.If you read Roger Cameron's book about the brown one, they got to book for his brown when his green if you read the caption in the Roger cameras book about that swimming pool he'll tell you that they closed it because there was a polio epidemic that they were afraid of biggest lie ever been put in time and I read it when I read that written by a local historian that the pool was closed because polio. the pool was closed because they were in negotiations to let us use it once a week. That's why the pool was closed. This is very painful you were saying?

Heather White (07:59)
We just appreciate you talking with us. there's anything else you'd like us like to share before we take the photos on Michelle's gonna make you look all pretty though.

Michael Garrett (08:14)
That's not possible. Aint no photoshop like that

Heather White (08:31)
Well, I'm gonna go ahead and stop recording. Is there anything else you'd like to tell me before?

Michael Garrett (08:36)
I'm glad you're doing this is not a lane that I'd like to go down the throat I'm sorry. I'm not happy.

Heather White (08:49)
No. Okay. No, and that's, that's the thing we you know, this is us making sure that we have the whole history toll. So we can track you down. Thank you.

Michael Garrett
Photographs of Michael Garrett taken at the Town Common, Greenville, N.C., accompanied by an oral history interview, for the Beyond Bricks and Mortar project. Mr. Garrett is a former resident of the Shore Drive neighborhood that was destroyed in the 1960's to make room for the Town Common Park. Mr. Garrett recalls that the city took photos of every street in the downtown area before the redevelopment process began. The photos are part of a collection that he has seen. He then reminisces about the beautiful architecture of the Sycamore Hill Missionary Baptist Church and the accomplishments of the local black community. Mr. Garrett mentions Roger Kammerer's account of the swimming pool closing on Reade and Fifth Street. Although Kammerer suggests that the pool closed due to a possible polio epidemic, Mr. Garrett recalls that the pool closed to due ongoing negotiations to allow pool use by the African American community. Interviewer: Heather White.
December 27, 2016
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oral histories
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