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Wednesday, December 28, 2016
East Carolina University
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Heather White (00:00)
Okay, today is Wednesday, December 28 2016. And we're here at the sycamore Hill site. And can you let me know your name?
Linda Coleman (00:10)
Linda Daniels Coleman.
Geraldine Dudley (00:12)
Geraldine Daniels Dudley.
Heather White (00:15)
And is it okay that I'm interviewing you? Absolutely. Great. So can you tell me a little bit about your connection to to this area?
Linda Coleman (00:23)
Well, this is where I grew up and attended church. Growing up in Greenfield and the downtown area. It was a real community. We played together, everybody knew everybody else. We were all more like an extended family. It was a real community. The people were, gosh, we were in and out of one another's homes. And the church was really the center of our lives. I was baptized at Sycamore when I was 12 years old by Reverend Mosley. And I can tell you that it truly was the center of our lives because it was like our social life. We didn't really have a lot of social places to go, there was a movie called The Roxy theater that was in a place called the block. But we we played down in this area because there was a playground. And our rec director was we called a miss sweetie of Mrs. Hagen. But that was where we played during the summer. But in the meantime, church was every Sunday church and Sunday school during the summers, we had Vacation Bible School. And just about every night of the week, we had some activity going on at the church. There was youth night missionary, Junior missionary, circle, Choir, Choir rehearsal. There were just a lot of different activities from this church. And I can remember, I was 12 years old, and I had spent the summer in Scotland neck, and I came back home. And I saw all of the signs that said vote for urban renewal. And then I saw signs that said, vote against urban renewal. So I went home. And I asked my mom, who was this man urban renewal that people wanted people to vote for. But I did not know that it was a it was going to be a development. So my mom explained what was going on with me. And I can tell you that even when we were displaced, having to leave Greenville, the downtown area. We had a connection because the kids we still go into a segregated school cm Eppes and so we still saw each other every day at school. And many of the people were able to, to, to connect with one another because the church and so many people still maintain that connection. Sycamore we talking about this church, even we were when we weren't in church, we were playing church, because there was a place down on Second Street, the Masonic Lodge, and the Gatlin's who had well, one of the Gatlins Charles was always the choir master for the choir director. And his favorite song was the Hallelujah chorus. So he would line us up, and he'd have a switch and he'd make all of us sing. And I guess he was imitating Mr. Norrkop, who was our choir director. So but he had a switch, and he would make us sing the Hallelujah chorus. And because the Masonic Lodge had all of these steps, and so we would march up the steps and down and he would preach and he would sing so that was those were memories. And where the CM Eppes school is now. We, we walked to school because the buses did not take, they didn't come downtown. So we had no bus rides to school.
And I can remember, I don't care how how cold it was or how rainy it was. We had to walk to school and school took in the bell rang at(08:35). And we could tell the time by the bus going to New York, because it was the(08:30) bus open Never we saw the(08:30) bus if we were at a certain place, we knew we were late. So, you know, and there were places that we went downtown, there was a bakery. And we will go back a bakery because they would have the day own goods, baked goods like doughnuts that we could get, like three foot cream puffs, like three for nickel, I think or two for nickel. But the ice cream places the one I remember the most of us a dairy, Carolina dairy, I think that was it. And they had double cones. And you could get three dips of ice cream for Dan. So we could get vanilla, chocolate and strawberry. And for 10 cents we could get, we could get three scoops of ice cream. And that would be our treat on the way home many days. So those were things that I remember about growing up in in Greenville. We all of us walked to church. I've never, I don't think anybody drove to church, everybody walked. And so this was it was just a great place full of great memories. This area, and I'm so happy that someone has decided to preserve this this history of Greenville and put it meant to so many people growing up in the downtown area.
Heather White (06:28)
We're just so appreciative of everybody coming out. Do you remember your your address? So where are you where your house was here?
Geraldine Dudley (06:36)
Yes, I really do. Matter of fact, it's one block from where the bus the transit bus that takes the man Okay, like she said, we stayed in church. Also there was a lady. Her name was Miss Besson. And every Sunday, every Sunday at four o'clock, she would get all the neighbor kids and we will come to the sycamore here church, and we will call the Sunshine Band.
Linda Coleman (07:05)
That's right I forgot, Miss Bessie ask you. She she was the director of the Sunshine band. And that was what we did sundays at four.
Geraldine Dudley (07:13)
There was no excuse you had to go. And we will you stay in touch. We went to Sunday school, we went to church, then we would come home. We go back to the Sunshine Band after the Sunshine Band and with the BTU. You know,
Heather White (07:30)
So many people talked about the BTU. Yeah.
Linda Coleman (07:33)
Well, and because one of the things is I told you about the movie? Well, we couldn't go anyplace. We could not go to the movies. If we didn't go to church,
Geraldine Dudley (07:44)
You had to come to Sycamore Hill.
Linda Coleman (07:46)
Well, you know, people went to church in their communities. And this was the only church in our community. So why we you know, it just, this is where we grew up. And this was the church that was within walking distance from us, it was the closest church. So most of us came here.
Geraldine Dudley (08:04)
And there was a preacher named he was at a cm Eppes, Mr. Brooks, Reverend Brooks, Rooks is with Reverend Rooks. And we was at the post office a certain time, he was dropping the mail off, we will get a ride to school.
Linda Coleman (08:19)
He had a station wagon, and we would all pile into his station when it came to he came to the post office every morning, every morning, he was at the post office about(08:20),(08:25). So if we were really late, we would just hang around the pulse that often Reverend Rooks, because we knew we could get a ride with him, because he lived right across from the, from the school to school. So he and he dropped us off. That's great.
Geraldine Dudley (08:49)
And that was the good old days, you know, like Linda was saying, everybody knew everybody. And it's not like it out here today. Kids don't have no respect for the elders. And then like the my mother car with your kids, your mother her kids. It wasn't anything standard that you didn't disrespect, no elders. You stayed in, as we said, in your lane, you know, and we're just [Inaudible]. And even to this day, we still have a connection with some of the people that was from down here. That one is still here. We you know, we run into them time to time, you know, and we always talk about how good the time we had when we was down here. And it was so sad that you know, nobody really wanted to leave. We really had no choice. It was better for us when we left.
Heather White (09:38)
Yeah, yeah. How was that that experience of being displaced and having to move?
Linda Coleman (09:44)
Well, like I said, once we were displaced, it was people kind of got excited about it in the end, because the places they went to the houses were built a lot better. So it was It was a better place. And, again, we kept our connection at school because we had our school. So there was only one high school for African Americans, and that was CM Eppes, the high school. And so we kept our connection there. And then we saw many of those people at church are the ones that we were used to seeing. And we were able to make some some new acquaintances with people who lived in our, in our new neighborhoods. So overall, the experience wasn't bad, but you never forget the place where you grew up, grew up, and, and the memories there. And luckily, we had a lot of fond memories of people that we grew up around our surroundings. Because summer times, we just remember being in this area, at the playground, playing and hopscotch and baseball and whatever else we do, in a way we just did, we just, we just had, we had a very normal childhood growing up with a lot of fond memories and people who, to this day still we keep up with and we keep up with them not only through church, but we have a reunion every year. Epson people look forward to coming home because it is a whole weekend of activities, where people do get back together and yeah, I remember this and just have a great time. That's one really.
Heather White (11:53)
I met Mr. Gatlin yesterday. So I understand your story.
Linda Coleman (11:59)
Talked about the triad? Yeah. Yep. And
Geraldine Dudley (12:03)
I'm quite sure he had a whole lot to say didn't he.
Linda Coleman (12:06)
Yeah, he, he, he was our choir director. He was our youth choir director, playing lovingly, and our preacher too, sometimes, because he always kept us in line. But so those are the kinds of memories that we weren't at the playground. We were playing with. We were playing in church and play and quiet singing. And I still can't see. But you can imagine, but I think that his his sisters, his twin sisters would always get the brunt of it because they would, they would always get out of line. With a swing back and last.
Geraldine Dudley (12:48)
We all we thought he was gonna be a preacher because he loved church. He really did. You know, we always said, This Reverend Gatlin.
Heather White (12:57)
Which I tried to get him to sing for me yesterday. I tried. So we just appreciate you so much talking to us. Is there anything before I stopped that interview that stands out that you'd like to?
Linda Coleman (13:16)
Yeah, I would, I would just like to say a few more words about the church. And I always thought that that was the most beautiful church that I've ever seen. In, in in Greenville. And it had so many nooks and crannies in it, you can almost get lost in the church. And I just can remember, I can remember the choir Stan and seeing [Mr. Norecatt] who lived across the street from us, and playing and there was a mirror, and he would just play and we could just he could just, I guess look out into the pews and into the sanctuary and see everybody else but I can remember so much about the church, the basement where we had our Sunday school classes and Bible study and
Geraldine Dudley (14:14)
And then some of the churches didn't have a baptism pool. You know, and they were come there to be baptized because I was baptized then. It was just nice. You know, it was a pleasure. We had fun. We had big fun down here, you know, especially with the playground, and she was like a mother to everybody, you know.
Linda Coleman (14:42)
I did not realize until I was an adult that she was the recreation supervisor I just thought because everybody just treated everybody like the adults treated all of the children like they were their own. And when she was there, I just thought she was just the caring parents. I never knew she was the rec director until I was an adult. So, yeah, but we we knew that if anything went wrong, that we could just go and tell Miss [Sweety] that she would be there.
Heather White (15:17)
We just thank you so much.
Linda Coleman (15:21)
Thank you for doing this. This is really important. Thank you.
Geraldine Dudley (15:25)
And you know, and it really is something that a lot of young people should be down to this until you know, yeah. And that's our hope is, you know, because it doesn't hurt to know your history. Where you come from. That's very important. Now, you know, there's so much going on out here. Kids need to know a little bit more about history. You know, we and daddy have gotten to know where they are going. You're right.
Heather White (15:49)
Yes, ma'am. Well, thank you so much. I'm going to take you off the recording spotlight and we'll put you in the front of the camera spotlight. How about