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AACHM Oral History: Rosemarion Blake

Sat, 09/21/2013 - 3:30pm

When: February 14, 2013 at the Downtown Library

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Rosemarion Alexander Blake was born in Kansas City, Missouri in 1923 to Jewel Alexander Price and Jacob Price. She was brought to Ann Arbor between two to four years of age by her great Aunt Hattie and Uncle Robert Alexander. Rosemarion attended Jones School Kindergarten through 9th grade and graduated from Ann Arbor High School in 1941. She held a number of jobs after graduating and in 1945 became the first African-American woman to work in city Hall in a non-custodial position. A number of years later, she worked in Publication Sales at the Institute for Social Research from 1970 until her retirement in 1987.

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Transcript

  • [00:00:30.77] INTERVIEWER 1: So could you please say and spell your name?
  • [00:00:35.08] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: My name Rosemarion Alexander Blake. It's R-O-S-E-M-A-R-I-O-N. I should say capital. A-L-E-X-A-N-D-E-R. The last name is Blake. B-L-A-K-E.
  • [00:00:55.43] INTERVIEWER 1: Thank you. And what is your date of birth, including the year?
  • [00:00:59.21] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: 5/19/1923.
  • [00:01:02.59] INTERVIEWER 1: And now how would you describe your ethnic background?
  • [00:01:05.73] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: I'm an African American.
  • [00:01:08.41] INTERVIEWER 1: And what is your religion, if any?
  • [00:01:11.93] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: I belong to Bethel AME Church here in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
  • [00:01:17.70] INTERVIEWER 1: OK. And what's the highest level of formal education you've completed?
  • [00:01:21.62] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: I completed Ann Arbor High School in 1941.
  • [00:01:27.16] INTERVIEWER 1: And did you attend any additional school or formal career training beyond that?
  • [00:01:32.00] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: No, I did not. I was an avid reader, though.
  • [00:01:38.48] INTERVIEWER 1: OK. What is your marital status?
  • [00:01:41.63] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: I'm a widow, the wife of Richard D. Blake.
  • [00:01:46.27] INTERVIEWER 1: And when did Mr. Blake pass away?
  • [00:01:50.14] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: November, 1989. We were married almost 40 years.
  • [00:01:59.87] INTERVIEWER 1: And how many children do you have?
  • [00:02:01.99] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: I have three sons, six grandchildren, and three daughters. The daughters are the wives of my sons.
  • [00:02:12.48] INTERVIEWER 1: And how many siblings do you have?
  • [00:02:15.63] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: None at all.
  • [00:02:17.31] INTERVIEWER 1: And you may want to say I have no siblings.
  • [00:02:20.73] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: I have no siblings.
  • [00:02:23.66] INTERVIEWER 1: And what was your primary occupation?
  • [00:02:27.57] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: Well, I was a bookkeeper at Bob Marshall's Book Shop. And I managed the store for the last year it was open. And I was an Office Supervisor at the Institute for Social Research.
  • [00:02:46.12] INTERVIEWER 1: And how long did you do those jobs?
  • [00:02:50.53] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: Well, I was at the Bob Marshall's for about 17 and a half years, and at the Institute for Social Research for 17 years.
  • [00:03:00.54] INTERVIEWER 1: OK. And at what age did you retire?
  • [00:03:04.93] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: I retired in 1987.
  • [00:03:08.44] INTERVIEWER 1: Thank you. So I'm going to go on to Part Two. And so this part of the interview is about your childhood and your youth. And even if these questions jog memories about other times in your life, please respond only about memories for this part if your life, if you will. So can you tell us what your family was like when you were a child?
  • [00:03:33.17] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: Yes. I grew up in a household with my father and mother, who were my great aunt and uncle.
  • [00:03:44.17] INTERVIEWER 1: And what kind of work did your parents do? So you might want to explain a little bit how you came to live with your great aunt and uncle.
  • [00:03:58.35] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: Well, I had an aunt who had a son that was a year older to the day than I, and she passed away, and my grandmother was going to have to take over the young child. So it was decided I would visit Michigan for a short period of time. But I came to Michigan, and I never went back to Missouri.
  • [00:04:21.81] INTERVIEWER 1: And where were you living when you came to Michigan?
  • [00:04:24.40] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: I was living in Kansas City, Missouri. But I was going to visit my grandparents every time my grandfather went to Kansas City to pick up a casket, because he was an undertaker in Sedalia, Missouri-- a very small community at that time. But however, it is on the trail. I can't remember the name of the trail.
  • [00:04:56.48] INTERVIEWER 1: Any help from the peanut gallery?
  • [00:04:58.81] ROBERT: No.
  • [00:04:59.57] INTERVIEWER 1: No. OK.
  • [00:05:00.61] ROBERT: Not unless it was Route 66, but I don't think so.
  • [00:05:02.86] INTERVIEWER 1: OK.
  • [00:05:03.24] ROBERT: [INAUDIBLE].
  • [00:05:04.24] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: The trail comes up out of Texas, and it's a trail that's used by horses-- I mean cattle. Cattle.
  • [00:05:09.82] INTERVIEWER 1: OK.
  • [00:05:12.50] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: And it's quite a little town, Sedalia, Missouri, is where my grandparents lived, at that's where I would go. And that's where I came to Michigan from.
  • [00:05:24.64] INTERVIEWER 1: And did you know your parents?
  • [00:05:26.73] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: Oh, yes. Yes. I actually had two brothers, but in growing up, they never wanted to be bothered with me.
  • [00:05:35.72] INTERVIEWER 1: And did they stay in Kansas City?
  • [00:05:40.43] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: One lived with my father, and one lived with my great aunt, my aunt.
  • [00:05:46.04] INTERVIEWER 1: And also in Missouri?
  • [00:05:47.70] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: In Missouri, mhm.
  • [00:05:49.98] INTERVIEWER 1: And so what sort of work did the people that raised you-- what sort of work did they do?
  • [00:05:57.66] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: My father had started a business of hauling ashes, rubbish, and tin cans in Ann Arbor. And it was quite a lucrative business, because back in those days, people had coal-fired furnaces or coal stoves. We actually lived in one house that had coal stoves in it.
  • [00:06:17.07] INTERVIEWER 1: Wow. And what would you say your earliest memory is?
  • [00:06:25.56] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: My earliest memory is being in Kansas City across from a park where people would walk down the street and go down into this park. And so that's my very earliest memory. And the next memory is at my aunt's funeral, was when they strip the-- when they seal the casket.
  • [00:06:49.34] [INAUDIBLE]. I go to funerals now. I tell people, don't let your child watch that. It might bother them later. It never actually bothered me, but it's something that could bother a child.
  • [00:07:01.29] INTERVIEWER 1: Mhm. And you remember it still.
  • [00:07:02.73] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: I remember it. Yes. It was like he was stamping something going around. [LAUGHING] The metal strip.
  • [00:07:12.64] INTERVIEWER 1: That could be upsetting to a child. Were there any special days, events, or family tradition you remember from your childhood?
  • [00:07:23.39] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: I remember that my mother's door was always open to feed anybody that needed to be fed. And we always had a big thing going on Christmas. There was always lots of drinks and quite a bit of partying on the holidays at my home. And all the people that worked for my dad would come back, and all the people that worked in our house would come and were very entertained.
  • [00:07:49.17] INTERVIEWER 1: They were welcome at the table. And what holidays did your family celebrate?
  • [00:07:56.94] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: Usually just Christmas was the major one, and then, of course, Thanksgiving, where there was a family thing. And Easter was a family thing, because you went off to church.
  • [00:08:11.16] INTERVIEWER 1: And are there other traditions that were part of the celebrations that you recall?
  • [00:08:19.11] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: We did a lot of picnicking. My folks liked to go out and picnic. So my mother would fix a picnic basket and we would just go someplace and have a picnic-- to one of the parks.
  • [00:08:31.45] INTERVIEWER 1: Did you have a favorite that you liked to go to?
  • [00:08:36.08] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: Well, you used to be able to go on Huron River Drive, which is between Main Street and, I would say, Maple Road. It comes down in. And there were slots that you could drive in and have your own little section for your own little picnic. And then, of course, there was also Island Park that you could go to, that was very much available to everybody then.
  • [00:09:06.00] INTERVIEWER 1: And has your family, particularly the family that you created when you got married-- did your family create its own traditions and celebrations?
  • [00:09:20.38] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: Well, we celebrated Christmas, of course. And we did a lot of camping as a family.
  • [00:09:29.86] INTERVIEWER 1: Where did you like to go?
  • [00:09:32.26] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: All over. We've gone up north. Our first trip north, we went up on the western side of the state and stayed in Muskegon our first night out. The car in front of us was the last one to get into the state park. So they suggested we tried the county park, which was right down the road and on the same water. So we drove down the road to the county park, and it was very pleasant. That was in Muskegon.
  • [00:10:04.79] And then we went on up to Traverse City and crossed over. And so we had a very nice time that way. So the next time we went up, we went up the center of the state. And then, of course, we did go to Mackinac Island. And I was wearing high heels. [LAUGHING] I'm stupid. I didn't know any better.
  • [00:10:28.95] So we enjoyed Mackinac Island. And I have lots of memories like that. And I can remember things, and they're funny to me now. I should have been ashamed, maybe, back there, but I wasn't.
  • [00:10:46.59] INTERVIEWER 1: We'll have to get back to some of those. Those sound like great stories. So what was the highest grade you completed?
  • [00:10:55.12] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: Ann Arbor High. You know, back in those days, Ann Arbor High was really a training ground for the University of Michigan. Many people that finished Ann Arbor High, they were more than ready for U of M. As a matter of fact, my transcript-- my mother and I had such an argument about it, and I sent it over to Eastern because I was going to go to Eastern, because I wasn't going to agree with her.
  • [00:11:24.83] INTERVIEWER 1: What was the nature of the argument?
  • [00:11:26.95] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: I don't even remember. It wasn't worth remembering.
  • [00:11:31.43] INTERVIEWER 1: But you got into an argument and so you decided [INAUDIBLE].
  • [00:11:34.36] [INTERPOSING VOICES]
  • [00:11:34.64] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: And that day, we went to visit a friend of hers. And the friend's daughter ran the elevator at the First National Building. And so I asked the young woman about her job. She happened to be off that day. This as a thing, does it just work out for you? And so she told we were to go to apply and all of that. And she even took my name in.
  • [00:12:04.30] And Wilson White was the man who was doing the hiring. And I got hired to run the elevator. And I announced to my mother, I'm not going to school, I'm going to run the elevator.
  • [00:12:18.03] INTERVIEWER 1: What was her reaction to that?
  • [00:12:20.74] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: Well, [LAUGHING] we won't go into it. It wasn't very pleasant. She was very upset with me, needless to say. But, well, I did it.
  • [00:12:32.61] INTERVIEWER 1: So it sounds like you had a mind of your own as a young person, as well.
  • [00:12:39.88] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: Yep. Whatever.
  • [00:12:41.89] INTERVIEWER 1: So did you play any sports or join any other activities outside of school?
  • [00:12:47.56] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: No, just in school. I don't know how much was available-- oh, there were baseball games available back there, but I'm not sure African Americans were involved in them, at least I didn't know about in Ann Arbor.
  • [00:13:03.14] But one of the girls I was in school with, Betty [? Yar, ?] she ended up playing professional, as I remember it, for women, or at least at state or some sort of thing.
  • [00:13:16.07] INTERVIEWER 1: Was she African American?
  • [00:13:17.50] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: No.
  • [00:13:18.94] INTERVIEWER 1: But she was one of the--
  • [00:13:20.56] [INTERPOSING VOICES]
  • [00:13:20.81] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: Yeah. But I'm just saying that I did not--
  • [00:13:22.46] [INTERPOSING VOICES]
  • [00:13:22.72] INTERVIEWER 1: --girls from the school--
  • [00:13:22.94] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: I did not know about it, but then there's somebody that did know. And so I'm not saying that it wasn't available, but not for my knowing.
  • [00:13:34.18] INTERVIEWER 1: And in terms of your school experience, what about your school experience might be different from school as you are aware of school now? How did school change? And that might be one of the ways, is that there were activities that weren't available to African Americans at that time, or you didn't feel encouraged or welcomed to participate.
  • [00:14:07.33] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: Well, you know, Ann Arbor was sort of a strange town, in a very real sense. Back when I was very young, African Americans lived pretty much all over Ann Arbor. You'd find two or three houses here, two or three houses there.
  • [00:14:24.54] And in the various neighborhoods, including Washtenaw-- just off of Washtenaw and on, I can't remember the name of the street. Wayne, I think. Supposedly an African American woman built a house on Wayne years. But she never moved into it. Now, I don't know if she died or what, because she was already referred to as the first Mrs. whatever.
  • [00:14:56.40] Because he remarried, and I knew his next wife. And so I don't know what happened with the house or if that was just a rumor. But that was different. But for the schools, I know that my mother-in-law was told that she didn't know why my husband should want to go take a college prep course, because, after all, he probably wouldn't be able to get a job if he did go to college. And that was told out of the Ann Arbor High School.
  • [00:15:30.99] INTERVIEWER 1: So he was [INAUDIBLE] discouraged.
  • [00:15:31.95] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: And there's another thing that I'm going to upset people with, but I'm going to upset them. People just dearly loved Nick Schreiber. But he was one of the people that I found that I don't feel that he was very nice to Blacks. That was my impression.
  • [00:15:53.41] INTERVIEWER 1: That was your experience.
  • [00:15:53.73] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: And when Whites, now, when we go to something, when I would go to a reunion and they were talking, I would just stay quiet, because I had nothing really good to say about the man.
  • [00:16:09.79] INTERVIEWER 1: What did he do?
  • [00:16:11.51] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: He was a counselor, among other things. Sarah King ran C3, I think it was. And I don't remember what he ran. It was the home room type thing.
  • [00:16:27.89] INTERVIEWER 1: But so you ran into situations where people were actively not encouraging of you as a Black student.
  • [00:16:35.59] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: Yep.
  • [00:16:36.72] INTERVIEWER 1: Can you say more about-- can you give any more examples of that kind of experience, like how things [INAUDIBLE]?
  • [00:16:44.81] [INTERPOSING VOICES]
  • [00:16:45.01] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: Yes. When we moved here-- this, I'd like to put in. When we moved here, I moved to 222 Detroit Street. It is now 222 North 4th Avenue, and there's a Slurpee shop or something on the lower part of the building. But then it was changed in 1930.
  • [00:17:11.64] And when we moved from there, from 222 Detroit Street, to 712 North 4th Avenue, and because my mother's friend wanted to get her son and her husband and daughter out of Ann Arbor for a brief reason-- her own reasons. And they moved out in the country, and we rented their house.
  • [00:17:40.93] Well, it didn't last long. The family decided they wanted to be back in Ann Arbor. So we had to move out of that house in a hurry. So we moved to a house in the 700 block of North 5th Avenue, which is just sort of back where we had been living. But it was on the other end of the-- [? Heinemann ?] [? Seidman ?] had a junkyard. And that junkyard ran from 4th Avenue to 5th Avenue, just on Summit Street.
  • [00:18:25.49] Because across the street from that on Summit Street, there had been this city yard, where I can remember as a little girl seeing great big pieces of equipment down there. But the city gave that up, I guess. But there's a city park, now-- Theodore Park is there now.
  • [00:18:46.28] But anyway, when we moved from 5th Avenue to Summit Street, the neighbors just died. Blacks had moved in. Well, it was interesting, because a woman named Alice Ward Lee, who was born where the Fuller pool is now. And she also had a brother, by the way.
  • [00:19:12.82] She had lived there long before we ever thought about moving to Ann Arbor, probably. Because she was an elderly woman. She wore high top boots that laced up, and she wore black clothes, and had all this little ruching around. I'm almost just like her.
  • [00:19:36.12] But anyway, when we moved, all of the neighborhood was so upset-- not everybody, but most of the people that are very vocal people were very upset. But we just moved in, and there we stayed.
  • [00:19:52.48] So I laugh and say, well, you know, I integrated two neighborhoods. Because when I later, In the 19-- was it, let's see. Robert, you were born in '50. In the 1950s, when we moved to Wakefield Court, the neighbors got really upset when I moved in. [LAUGHING] So I just say I integrated a couple of the neighborhoods for Ann Arbor.
  • [00:20:21.53] INTERVIEWER 1: It's just been your fate.
  • [00:20:24.00] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: Yep. But it was interesting, because was the sort of thing that did happen in Ann Arbor. Although before that, I think Ann Arbor was a little more open-- you know, when there were fewer Blacks. But as more Blacks moved in, I think that's what caused the change.
  • [00:20:46.54] INTERVIEWER 2: [INAUDIBLE].
  • [00:20:48.40] INTERVIEWER 1: Did your family have any special sayings or expressions during the time you were growing up that you can remember?
  • [00:20:56.24] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: Mm mm, not off hand.
  • [00:20:59.44] INTERVIEWER 1: Were there any changes in your family life during your school years?
  • [00:21:07.22] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: Well, my father had cancer, and he was very sick. But it was interesting, because they'd never told us it was cancer. He had a growth on his lung, and he had been wounded in the war.
  • [00:21:28.00] INTERVIEWER 1: The First World War? The first World War?
  • [00:21:30.71] INTERVIEWER 2: The Spanish War.
  • [00:21:31.10] SPEAKER 4: Or the Spanish.
  • [00:21:31.21] ROBERT: [INAUDIBLE].
  • [00:21:31.93] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: The Spanish-American War. He had a bullet that was still in, supposedly. And so they would say that he had a growth. And we all actually went up to Grand Rapids at the Veteran's Hospital. And he was up there for one or two days and then we brought him back.
  • [00:21:51.45] And actually, he was insulted at the University of Michigan Hospital, because he was Black. He asked the doctor something, one of the interns something, and he was totally nasty to him. Of course, my mother went back up to the hospital [INAUDIBLE]. Back in the '40s, it didn't do much good.
  • [00:22:12.58] INTERVIEWER 2: [INAUDIBLE].
  • [00:22:15.38] INTERVIEWER 1: How old were you during that time that--
  • [00:22:19.37] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: I was going to high school. I was in junior high.
  • [00:22:24.94] INTERVIEWER 1: And did he recover?
  • [00:22:26.58] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: No, he died.
  • [00:22:28.37] INTERVIEWER 2: While you were--
  • [00:22:28.78] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: He died in 1938, and that's the year I went to high school.
  • [00:22:35.29] INTERVIEWER 1: That was a big change?
  • [00:22:37.26] ROBERT: You were how old?
  • [00:22:38.52] INTERVIEWER 1: And how old were you at that time when he died?
  • [00:22:42.67] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: 14. Robert?
  • [00:22:44.89] INTERVIEWER 1: That's what he was asking. You were how old?
  • [00:22:47.23] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: Oh, I was 14 when he died.
  • [00:22:49.81] INTERVIEWER 1: You were 14. And how--
  • [00:22:52.29] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: And I got my driver's license. He died-- actually, I was still 13. And I got my driver's license after he died because of the trucks. Then we could go around and see who was on the trucks and whether or not they were doing the job, and that sort of thing.
  • [00:23:16.11] INTERVIEWER 1: And was his wife able to keep the business going?
  • [00:23:21.31] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: Yes, we did.
  • [00:23:22.49] INTERVIEWER 1: You did. So you became [INAUDIBLE].
  • [00:23:24.47] [INTERPOSING VOICES]
  • [00:23:24.88] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: With my mother, yes. Because when I was out of school, I could take her around.
  • [00:23:31.50] INTERVIEWER 1: So you were working, had a lot--
  • [00:23:33.60] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: And if I was in school that day, she couldn't check. But we eventually gave it up. We didn't really sell it. We just gave it up.
  • [00:23:44.14] INTERVIEWER 1: Could you remember why, or do you know why?
  • [00:23:46.86] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: Yeah. It became very difficult, dealing with the fellas, you know.
  • [00:23:50.94] INTERVIEWER 1: As females, and--
  • [00:23:52.61] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: Mhm.
  • [00:23:55.43] INTERVIEWER 1: That sounds like it must have been a difficult time.
  • [00:24:01.97] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: Well, after my dad left, it was more difficult to keep track of what was going on. Because my dad did some work, too. But my dad would have these coats that had tears in them. And ladies would invite him in and sew up his coats for him. And so it was very interesting. It was a very interesting life.
  • [00:24:27.21] INTERVIEWER 1: It was like his lady magnet was his torn coat?
  • [00:24:31.29] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: [LAUGHING] So, but it was nice.
  • [00:24:38.40] INTERVIEWER 1: So in thinking back on your school years, what important social or historical events were taking place at that time? And how did they personally affect you and your family?
  • [00:24:52.32] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: Much of the stuff that went on, I was oblivious to it. I do remember one of the things that I remember was that there was a man that worked at the post office, the first African American, I think, to work at the post office. And his name was Robert Carson.
  • [00:25:17.14] And they lived on Ashley or 1st Street-- I can't remember which one. And when he came back, I guess from World War I, he was blind. And I don't know if he'd been blind before or what. But he was hired at the post office, and what they did was they hired him a driver. And they heard a man named Robert Wright to drive him. And he was the postman. And so Wright would drive him to wherever he was going to go. She later worked on running the elevator for Bernie Muehlig's dry goods store, on Main Street.
  • [00:26:02.48] INTERVIEWER 1: Interesting. And were there any other historical or social events that were happening at the time?
  • [00:26:12.56] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: It was interesting that many of the African Americans things, when I was it a little girl-- and my mother was part of the Eastern Stars and the Elks. Like the places the met, or like on Main Street, I can remember distinctly. And I also remember distinctly that there was a man who worked-- Who, Hugh? I can't remember his last name.
  • [00:26:46.36] But he was a chef, and he went up to Mackinac Island and worked every summer. And his apartment was on the third floor of one of the buildings. And I can't remember if we went to Washington or if we went on Liberty.
  • [00:27:04.29] But it would be in the block just one block from Main Street, where they had an apartment. They lived there. And then there was another friend of my mother's that lived in an apartment on the corner of Washington at 4th Avenue. And she had an apartment up there.
  • [00:27:35.92] INTERVIEWER 1: I wanted to go back. You were talking before we started about your racial and ethnic heritage. And you said that one your relatives was Caucasian?
  • [00:27:51.39] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: My grandmother's father was White, but she never talked about it.
  • [00:27:57.99] INTERVIEWER 1: And she identified as African American?
  • [00:27:59.76] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: No, she did not.
  • [00:28:01.36] INTERVIEWER 1: Oh, she didn't identify at all. She just didn't talk about--
  • [00:28:05.38] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: She didn't talk about it. And that's why I was shocked when I saw her brother, who was an African American. You knew he was African American. He was very dark-skinned. And so I was surprised when I saw him.
  • [00:28:20.82] INTERVIEWER 1: Did you ask any questions [INAUDIBLE]? [INTERPOSING VOICES]
  • [00:28:22.27] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: No, I did not. And that's one of the things that bothers me now, is that I didn't know to ask questions then. That's why so much history, I'm sure, is lost. Because if your family doesn't talk about it, then you don't know. You know?
  • [00:28:40.75] INTERVIEWER 1: And what's your understanding from this vantage point about why they didn't talk about it?
  • [00:28:45.77] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: I think my grandmother was quite ashamed of the fact that she was born out of wedlock. And then I guess she did have an African American father, but if he looked like any of his sons, you would think she couldn't possibly be his child.
  • [00:29:08.05] INTERVIEWER 1: It was a different time. So. So Jainelle, do you want to--
  • [00:29:13.19] INTERVIEWER 2: Yeah.
  • [00:29:13.67] INTERVIEWER 1: Well, actually let me-- let me finish up-- you want to--
  • [00:29:17.97] INTERVIEWER 2: So I had a few questions. When you were talking about when you were at school and you said that you were mistreated, and when you moved into the neighborhood, the White neighbors, they had, basically--
  • [00:29:32.20] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: I didn't say I was mistreated in school.
  • [00:29:34.34] INTERVIEWER 2: OK. Well, how they treated you differently, I guess or discriminated against you. So I just wonder what exactly [INAUDIBLE].
  • [00:29:42.07] [INTERPOSING VOICES]
  • [00:29:42.45] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: Not that-- I don't-- maybe I made it too severe. I simply stated that the man had said that my husband didn't need to take college courses because he wouldn't be able to get a job even if he took them.
  • [00:30:03.68] INTERVIEWER 1: So it wasn't that you personally--
  • [00:30:06.66] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: That's right.
  • [00:30:07.40] INTERVIEWER 2: OK.
  • [00:30:07.96] INTERVIEWER 1: --got that treatment, but people that you were close to.
  • [00:30:11.20] INTERVIEWER 2: OK.
  • [00:30:12.65] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: But that was told, you see, in the office. But for the most part in school, I had no difficulty in school. And especially at Jones School, because that's where I went, which is now Community High. The teachers there, many of them, they lived in the neighborhood. Anna Clinton would have taught her third generation if she'd stayed one more year.
  • [00:30:44.43] And, of course, she's a very warm, friendly lady, and my mother was talking to her when I was in junior high and high school.
  • [00:30:56.14] INTERVIEWER 1: Oh, that's good.
  • [00:30:56.60] INTERVIEWER 2: So you had good relationships with the teachers at Jones.
  • [00:31:01.13] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: But I'm sure there were other things that went on in high school, because the courses that I took-- most of the people were pretty nice. Frank Reed had a course that, when you took you were ready to go to Oxford. [LAUGHING] But--
  • [00:31:18.81] INTERVIEWER 1: And did you do well in school?
  • [00:31:20.77] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: I did all right, not as well as I probably should have, But I did all right.
  • [00:31:27.22] INTERVIEWER 1: How many African Americans were in your high school do you think?
  • [00:31:35.29] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: Um, I'm not sure. I'm really not sure. I think I could count them up, but I--
  • [00:31:50.70] INTERVIEWER 2: Was it well-integrated, or--
  • [00:31:53.02] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: I mean, there weren't that many African Americans in Ann Arbor in 1941. The war brought people in. And many of the people that are as old as I am in my church, they came here in the '40s, you see? And that's when the big expanse came. And that's when it really got tough to move into neighborhoods.
  • [00:32:17.66] See, other people moved into neighborhoods and they didn't have what we had.
  • [00:32:22.71] INTERVIEWER 2: So you said the neighbors were kind of vocal. What would they say? What were they doing?
  • [00:32:28.00] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: They just didn't want niggers in the neighborhood, you know? And then there were some neighbors that were very, very nice. One neighbor, she had a African man that had stopped over to her house all the time. He was a member of a family there. And he had quite a large family. In fact, they're still in Ann Arbor. And much of this lady's family, they have died out because they didn't have boys, they had girls.
  • [00:33:00.10] And so, but, anyway, the owner would stop by and visit, and he was a regular. And she'd lived next door to Mrs. Lee, by the way. And the family that lived right off the corner from me on Summit Street, she was from Canada. And when her children-- they were I think nieces and nephews. I was never quite sure. She would call up my mother and ask her-- even though her husband resented our being there-- she would call up and ask my mother if it was all right if I would play with them. They were from Canada.
  • [00:33:48.78] INTERVIEWER 2: Yeah, so it was a strange city.
  • [00:33:50.88] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: Mhm.
  • [00:33:51.78] INTERVIEWER 1: A mixed message.
  • [00:33:55.20] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: And it's interesting, because years later, one of the people-- when my father died. I should add this. We moved there when I was probably eight years old. And when my father died, at what is it? About 14, 13. The house was full of neighbors. That came with cakes. They came to offer their sympathy. And they would ask about him while he was sick. It changed.
  • [00:34:27.28] INTERVIEWER 2: That's good.
  • [00:34:29.01] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: Very interesting.
  • [00:34:30.89] INTERVIEWER 1: So then you felt more welcome after that point?
  • [00:34:34.19] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: Pardon?
  • [00:34:34.63] INTERVIEWER 1: You felt more welcome in the neighborhood after that point?
  • [00:34:38.35] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: Well, I felt fairly welcome in the neighborhood because of the couple of people that were nice. There were people that lived back on Depot. They had no children. And this lady, oh, she just loved to be-- she'd go like this, ask my mother if I'd come over.
  • [00:34:54.51] And then the house next to her, I ended up losing a beautiful book that she gave me, which I'm sorry for. It was A Christmas Carol. That was, by the way, the first time I ever saw a [? fake-cut ?] Christmas tree. She had a Christmas tree that you pulled the-- you know, she'd take it out of her box, and just pull the branches down and decorate it. It was very straight and very narrow, but it was a Christmas tree.
  • [00:35:29.79] INTERVIEWER 2: So the next--
  • [00:35:31.10] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: You know, but it's interesting, because life is such a way that very small things can make you happy. It doesn't have to be a big thing. And very small things can make up for nasty things.
  • [00:35:46.15] INTERVIEWER 2: That's true.
  • [00:35:47.78] INTERVIEWER 1: Can you give any other examples from your own experience?
  • [00:35:53.41] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: Not off hand. They just sort of pop in and out.
  • [00:35:56.41] INTERVIEWER 2: OK.
  • [00:35:57.13] INTERVIEWER 1: If you think of any, feel free to insert them.
  • [00:36:03.01] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: My friend that's just died, Pauline Dennard, she moved into one of the houses that later, that the people were sort of iffy. We didn't know how they felt about it. They weren't part of the big group. Because the house that they faced on Summit Street, they were very pleasant to us. And they actually lived in, I think Flint or Pontiac. And it was a brother and a sister, and they owned the house. And their sister lived next door.
  • [00:36:37.38] And to this day, I cannot tell you the sister's husband's name, because he did not want us in the neighborhood. And he refused even to ever speak to us. See, most of them would eventually get around to at least nodding. He never did, and I never bothered to find out his name.
  • [00:36:55.50] INTERVIEWER 1: There you go. Just push Delete.
  • [00:36:59.68] INTERVIEWER 2: You can start that [INAUDIBLE].
  • [00:37:01.79] INTERVIEWER 1: OK. Well, so this next set of questions covers a fairly long period of your life, from the time you completed your education--
  • [00:37:09.23] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: Oh, boy, we're running over, aren't we?
  • [00:37:10.08] INTERVIEWER 1: --and entered the labor force.
  • [00:37:12.12] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: I'm talking too much.
  • [00:37:13.51] INTERVIEWER 1: Not at all. Or started a family until all of your children left home, and you and your spouse retired. So we might be talking about a stretch of time spanning as much as four decades. So after you finished high school, where did you live?
  • [00:37:32.29] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: At 113 East Summit.
  • [00:37:36.24] INTERVIEWER 1: OK. And did you--
  • [00:37:37.56] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: And from there, when I married Richard, he had rented the Morgan house on 4th Avenue, across from the church. And he had gotten a couple to move in with them, because he wanted to move out of his dad's mother's house. So I moved from 113 East Summit to 645 North 4th Avenue when I married, and only when I married. And my mother was in Kansas City at that time.
  • [00:38:11.51] INTERVIEWER 2: So [INAUDIBLE].
  • [00:38:12.58] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: You got the point, didn't you?
  • [00:38:14.91] INTERVIEWER 1: So she wasn't present-- she was not present for your wedding.
  • [00:38:18.59] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: No. No. And she died a week later.
  • [00:38:22.09] INTERVIEWER 1: Oh, my.
  • [00:38:23.45] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: Yep. But we moved to 645 North 4th Avenue. That's where all the children were born.
  • [00:38:36.56] INTERVIEWER 1: So, well, maybe first you could tell us a little bit about your married and family life. Like, tell us about your spouse and like, where did you meet?
  • [00:38:48.37] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: We were high school sweethearts. And I had other boyfriends-- boy, I had a lot of other boyfriends. And another girl had his ring. And my mother went to Kansas City, and he came by, and we went to the movies, came home. And we're sitting on the steps at my godfather's house, because I was not allowed to live alone.
  • [00:39:18.70] And he asked me to marry him, and I said yes. So we had to do the quick job. We went to-- and people thought I was pregnant, I did it so quick. And I was not. But we had to go-- And the judges knew my mother, because my mother was very active in politics. And my mother was very active in the community.
  • [00:39:43.72] So we had to go to the [? FC ?] to see the doctor, and I can't his name now. That's a shame. And we had blood drawn. And all this in one day, folks. And I had to go get a dress. And by the way, I was working in the city treasurer's office. And I was the first African American woman to work in the City Hall in a non-custodial position.
  • [00:40:16.42] And so I was doing all of this running around. And Richard was doing the running around. So we had to get the licensing. He had to see the judge, get the judge to OK a quick marriage, and so then his father married us on North 5th Avenue.
  • [00:40:42.78] And so after we married, I continued to work in the city treasurer's office. And I think was 1952, that I left. '52? I'm not sure. I can't--
  • [00:41:05.57] INTERVIEWER 1: Here's a cheat sheet.
  • [00:41:08.56] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: I [INAUDIBLE].
  • [00:41:08.93] INTERVIEWER 1: So why did you get married so quickly?
  • [00:41:11.89] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: Because I was going to get my mother and bring her home. And my aunt suggested that if I was going to get married, maybe I should get married. And my mother died the week after I got home. So they knew she was terminal.
  • [00:41:26.95] INTERVIEWER 1: Oh, I see.
  • [00:41:29.29] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: See, my uncle was a doctor. And before when I would take her to Kansas City, he would take her and put her in the hospital, because he didn't want any sick people in his house.
  • [00:41:41.60] And I was only allowed to visit her once a day, because when she was here in Ann Arbor, I would go up to see her at the hospital in the morning, before I went to work. Before I could see her in the evening, I was supposed to go home and change clothes and come back to the hospital to see her.
  • [00:42:05.72] People ask, why do you dress before you go out? Well, I always had to. So I'm not sure-- it's not on there. I'm sorry I can't tell you that.
  • [00:42:26.00] INTERVIEWER 1: That's OK. What did she die from? What did you mother die from? Do you know?
  • [00:42:35.55] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: Uh, diverticulitis.
  • [00:42:40.47] INTERVIEWER 1: That's painful. If you wanted to talk a little bit about your children? Like what was life like when they were young, and living in the house?
  • [00:42:53.88] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: They were young. I became chair of the PTA at Jones School, but I left there before I could finish my term because we moved to Wakefield Court. And that was like 1957, or so. And the neighbors next door were very-- he worked with my husband at the post office at that time.
  • [00:43:26.40] And he was very upset when-- his mother-in-law, especially was very upset because we moved into the neighborhood. And so that sort of rocked everybody's boat up there, but things came along very nicely, like it did on Summit Street.
  • [00:43:52.81] INTERVIEWER 2: So did you work while you raised your children or did you stay at home?
  • [00:43:56.90] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: I worked.
  • [00:43:57.85] INTERVIEWER 2: Oh, so you were a working mom?
  • [00:43:59.77] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: Oh, yes. After I left the city hall, then I worked-- very briefly I went to the hospital to work, because I couldn't find a job otherwise. And when I'd look for a job as a person working on the desk at the hospital, they couldn't possibly hire me. So it was very interesting.
  • [00:44:28.71] Then later, when I was working at Bob Marshall's Book Shop, one of the women that would not hire me at the university hospital, I took great joy in waiting on her at the book store. I'd look up and see her, and I'd leave my desk and go wait on her.
  • [00:44:48.64] INTERVIEWER 1: Kill her with kindness.
  • [00:44:52.66] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: Yep. And I worked at Bob Marshall's Book Shop, as I said, for 17 and a half years. That was during my children's growing up. And then at the Institute for Social Research. The nice part about Bob Marshall's is I could get off and go to baseball games. I could go to birthday parties at school. Because he also had children.
  • [00:45:13.23] And Bob Marshall was a very bright man. And so his wife was a lovely lady. Doris was very special. They were very special people. And they had children about the same time I was having children, so it worked out very nicely. And the last year that the bookstore was open, he became a Unitarian minister.
  • [00:45:39.78] And his church finally was in Birmingham, designed by Yamazaki-- a beautiful place. At that time, they had just individual rooms that you could go in and out. But anyway, working at the bookstore was a wonderful experience. And because it did make it nice to be able to go.
  • [00:46:03.50] I should tell you, I've done a lot of jobs. When I first went to work, I worked at Goodyear's Snack Bar on State Street. Because Goodyear's had a store on State Street. Right now I think there's a Chinese restaurant or something there. And so-- I'm not sure. It's right next to the theater on State Street. And working there--
  • [00:46:35.62] INTERVIEWER 1: It's a Middle Eastern restaurant.
  • [00:46:36.89] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: Pardon?
  • [00:46:37.34] INTERVIEWER 1: I think it's actually a Middle Eastern restaurant now.
  • [00:46:39.72] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: I don't know, because I don't get to State Street anymore. And so I worked there, and then I worked at the Dodge Garage, which was on 4th Avenue, down the street, next to Blake Transit. When I worked there, I worked in the parts department, and I pulled out water pumps and whatever your car needed when you came to have it repaired. I had to get if off the shelf.
  • [00:47:14.72] But that man didn't like me, either. He didn't want me there, because he was prejudiced also, but that was all right. I'd later met his son, his young son, so it was OK.
  • [00:47:30.95] But, let's see. That's two of the things that I did that were unusual. And, of course, nobody runs an elevator anymore.
  • [00:47:40.05] INTERVIEWER 1: That's true. What did your family enjoy doing together?
  • [00:47:44.14] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: Camping.
  • [00:47:44.83] INTERVIEWER 1: Camping. You mentioned that.
  • [00:47:50.82] INTERVIEWER 2: So you seem to be very forgiving of the prejudiced environment at times that you saw it. Do you want to talk about that, like where you got that from? How you were able to kind of overlook certain things that people did? How did you get that philosophy? Where did you get that from?
  • [00:48:12.65] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: Well, I have no idea. I'd better have it. I've got two White daughter-in-laws now. And so, no. I don't know. I guess I think eventually people come around if you're with them. Now, there are a few people, like the one man I said that never bothered to change, and I don't know his name. That's the way I handled him. [LAUGHING] And some people never come around with those that don't come around.
  • [00:48:58.70] And when I was working in the city treasurer's office, I never will forget. One man came in, and there was no way that he wanted me to wait on him. And he was so dirty and disheveled, I didn't want to wait on him. So, you know.
  • [00:49:11.26] INTERVIEWER 1: Perfect match.
  • [00:49:14.16] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: So. What else? You've got another one? Because I'm going to have to go. We're having a gourmet meal tonight.
  • [00:49:24.58] INTERVIEWER 1: Oh, how wonderful.
  • [00:49:25.43] INTERVIEWER 2: Oh, how wonderful.
  • [00:49:26.83] INTERVIEWER 1: OK, well let's skip here. To when thinking back on your entire life, what would you say you're the most proud of?
  • [00:49:40.53] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: My sons. They're very nice men. They're good men. And my husband was the type of man that said he did not want his sons to grow up and not be able to take care of themselves. My sons can all wash, they can all iron better than mother, any day, and they can cook, and they can clean. And they can take their children, and they do.
  • [00:50:14.59] Because all of them have children, and all of their children are grown, except one. And my one son is now down at Benedict College in South Carolina with his son. So I'm very proud of the way they've gone.
  • [00:50:35.13] And we, as a family, spent time together. We did a lot of camping. We camped at Clear Lake. Clear Lake belonged to Ann Arbor Cooperative Society, which was I was part of. At one point, I was secretary of the committee. It's gone now, but I'm very glad I was on it when it was saved. And my father-in-law, in the 1930s, when it first started, was part of it. He was not part of starting it, but they let African Americans in on it at the beginning.
  • [00:51:11.68] And so I'm very proud of that. And then what the children-- as we went camping and all, and we were with mixed groups out at the lake, and it was a very nice experience. And so.
  • [00:51:32.93] And I'm just very proud of the way they have turned out and the things that they're doing now. Because Robert, as I told you, is a minister in Highland Park. Ramon has a little business-- not a big business, because his wife's an executive.
  • [00:51:57.44] She's part of the Gastroenterology Doctors of America, and she is currently building a building for them, a $15 million building. And so she's running herself to death. She's in Washington today. And he's down at Benedict College in Columbia, South Carolina. I think it's Columbia? I think it's Columbia.
  • [00:52:22.02] Anyway. And my son Richard is retired from the Ann Arbor Police Department, and he works during the summer for the Sheriff up at Traverse City-- up in the Traverse City area after retiring. And he has two children. His daughter, she's calling herself now Blake-- oh what's it? Blake-- she's got a new name.
  • [00:52:50.90] INTERVIEWER 1: She's reinventing herself.
  • [00:52:52.12] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: Blake Elliott. She's calling herself Blake Elliott. She's a singer, and she wants to get to be great. And her brother works with St. Joseph Health System. My other one grandson is out in California. He works for a private school. And he works with the teacher as a teacher's aid out there.
  • [00:53:15.60] INTERVIEWER 1: That's a lot to be proud of.
  • [00:53:17.17] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: Yes, yes, yes.
  • [00:53:19.04] INTERVIEWER 1: And so that's a good sort of segue. What advice or word of wisdom or whatever would you give to the younger generations coming?
  • [00:53:30.58] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: Get an education. I've been very fortunate to have the jobs and have been able to do the things I've done without one. But I will tell you this. Growing up, I had lots of books to read. And I read lots of books. And then I worked in the bookstore for 17 and a half years.
  • [00:53:52.62] And so reading is very important, but it does not take the place of an education in these days and times. And so I think to get an education is the greatest thing that an African American or any child can do.
  • [00:54:09.67] And I think also you should learn your parents need to be parents. They don't need to be best friends, they need to be parents. And unless they're parents, the children can't make it. Because any time children can talk back to their parents and get away with it, they talk back to the teachers in school, and they shouldn't get away with it. So it's very important how people train their children, I think-- very, very important.
  • [00:54:47.65] INTERVIEWER 1: Thanks. And last-- go ahead. Oh. So Jainelle wanted me to ask you about the Blake Transit Center.
  • [00:54:59.44] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: Oh, the Blake Transit Center. They're renaming it for my husband, which I'm very happy for, and I'm very thrilled. I've only very sorry that annarbor.com didn't bother to even mention that I was there for the groundbreaking.
  • [00:55:20.31] But I have pictures to show people that I was there. And I'm very thrilled about it. Mr. Blake was a very fine man. He was a trustee of the church. He was a steward in the church. He had been a Sunday school teacher. He, at one point, had 27 boys in his Sunday school class. Would you believe it?
  • [00:55:41.91] And he and fathers that he could call, and they would take them to the football games and the baseball games in Detroit. And they would go out, and they would also go out to the lake when we were out at Clear Lake, and spend time out there with them.
  • [00:55:59.00] And he was the kind of man that if he knew somebody was messing up on their job, he'd quietly call them in and talk to them. And, you know, so that--
  • [00:56:13.22] INTERVIEWER 1: Some special gifts.
  • [00:56:14.64] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: Hmm?
  • [00:56:15.07] INTERVIEWER 1: He sounds like he had some special gifts.
  • [00:56:17.00] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: He did. Yes, he did. He was a very special man.
  • [00:56:20.27] INTERVIEWER 1: And what would you say--
  • [00:56:21.38] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: The love of my life.
  • [00:56:25.08] INTERVIEWER 1: What would you say has changed the most from the time you were a young person until now? What has changed the most in the course of this long life?
  • [00:56:38.22] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: Oh, excuse me. I think everything has changed. I mean, they're so-- Ann Arbor, I am so mad about the way they let houses being torn down. Like the house they put up over here. It's a shame, because those houses, the houses they tore down, would have been standing in 100 years. In 100 years, those babies will be down because they weren't built as well.
  • [00:57:10.86] And Ann Arbor, it doesn't hurt for you to have historic houses and historic districts. Because when my husband and I used to go around, after the kids were gone and we weren't trying to entertain them, we would go to places like any city that we saw that had a historic place or a historic district. We would drive through it and look at it and see.
  • [00:57:36.19] When I'd go to Virginia to visit his cousin in Petersburg, she would always take me to the historic places to see what they have done and how they're managing their historic properties. And I just think Ann Arbor needs to get a little bit back on the ball a little more and stop letting things go. And if they don't let them go, maybe the university will not be taken over either. Because that's quite a thing.
  • [00:58:08.03] INTERVIEWER 1: So any last thing you'd like to tell us that we haven't asked you that you want to make sure that is preserved?
  • [00:58:16.39] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: Oh, I don't know. I don't know. It wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be.
  • [00:58:22.12] INTERVIEWER 1: [LAUGHING] Glad for that. You have a great memory.
  • [00:58:28.95] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: No, I don't have a very good memory. I've got my obituary ready.
  • [00:58:33.32] INTERVIEWER 2: [LAUGHING]
  • [00:58:36.48] INTERVIEWER 1: Thank you so much.
  • [00:58:37.67] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: Robert? Anything I should say?
  • [00:58:41.15] INTERVIEWER 1: Anything else that you are aware of that--
  • [00:58:44.15] ROBERT: She really has a lot that she has done. She didn't talk about the time she drove a truck. She used to drive a truck for Nielson-- for Nielson's Flowers. [INAUDIBLE].
  • [00:58:55.46] [INTERPOSING VOICES]
  • [00:58:55.93] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: I drove the truck for Nielsen's.
  • [00:58:58.05] ROBERT: Democratic chairman, Democratic Party here in Ann Arbor.
  • [00:59:03.07] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: Yeah. I was the Democratic city chair. Did I mention that?
  • [00:59:06.90] ROBERT: [INAUDIBLE].
  • [00:59:07.29] [INTERPOSING VOICES]
  • [00:59:07.68] INTERVIEWER 1: I think you did it at the beginning, but you didn't elaborate.
  • [00:59:12.82] ROBERT: She was and has been an activist for civil rights here in Ann Arbor, and protested at the City Hall.
  • [00:59:23.36] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: He remembers my dragging him around.
  • [00:59:25.44] INTERVIEWER 1: [LAUGHING]
  • [00:59:29.32] ROBERT: She won't talk about how smart she is, but she's incredibly intelligent.
  • [00:59:34.55] INTERVIEWER 1: It's very obvious.
  • [00:59:36.43] ROBERT: And so that's always been really her marque because she is an avid reader. And so, you know. She did pretty well.
  • [00:59:47.09] INTERVIEWER 1: Yeah, I would say. Well, I'd love to interview you again sometime. I'm sure there's all kinds of other layers of things to get. But thank you so much.
  • [01:00:02.47] ROSEMARION ALEXANDER BLAKE: Thank you.