AACHM Oral History: Audrey Monagan
Sun, 07/21/2019 - 3:33pm
When: July 2, 2019
Audrey Monagan was born in Ann Arbor in 1941, and grew up in a close-knit, predominantly black neighborhood on North Fifth Ave. She remembers attending Bethel AME Church with her grandparents, spending time at the Dunbar Community Center, and helping raise her younger siblings. She attended Jones School and Pioneer High School before working for General Motors, where she was an inspector for eighteen years. Mrs. Monagan has been married to her second husband, Philip, for 48 years.
- [00:00:13.45] AUDREY MONAGAN: Good afternoon, Joyce.
- [00:00:15.29] INTERVIEWER: First of all, I want to thank you for agreeing to do the Living Oral History interview for the African American Cultural and Historical Museum. So thank you very much.
- [00:00:25.64] AUDREY MONAGAN: Thank you for inviting me.
- [00:00:27.28] INTERVIEWER: So the interview is going to consist of five parts. We're going to talk about demographics and family history, memories of childhood and youth, adult, marriage, and family life, work and retirement, and historical events.
- [00:00:45.94] So we're going to start with demographics and family history. I'm first going to ask you some single demographic questions. These questions may jog your memory, but please keep your answers brief and to the point for now. We can go into more details later in the interview. Please say and spell your name.
- [00:01:05.75] AUDREY MONAGAN: My name is Audrey Monagan. And it's spelled A-U-D-R-E-Y M-O-N-A-G-A-N.
- [00:01:14.76] INTERVIEWER: What is your date of birth, including the year?
- [00:01:17.46] AUDREY MONAGAN: 6/18/1941.
- [00:01:21.61] INTERVIEWER: How would you describe your ethnic background?
- [00:01:27.76] AUDREY MONAGAN: I do a lot of things.
- [00:01:30.15] INTERVIEWER: Are you African American?
- [00:01:32.40] AUDREY MONAGAN: I'm African American, born in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
- [00:01:37.23] INTERVIEWER: What is your religion, if any?
- [00:01:39.63] AUDREY MONAGAN: Bethel AME.
- [00:01:42.44] INTERVIEWER: What is the highest level of formal education you have completed?
- [00:01:45.82] AUDREY MONAGAN: I graduated from high school.
- [00:01:49.96] INTERVIEWER: What is your marital status?
- [00:01:52.69] AUDREY MONAGAN: My marital status, I have been married to my husband for 48 years. And his name is Philip Monagan.
- [00:02:00.96] INTERVIEWER: Congratulations.
- [00:02:02.10] AUDREY MONAGAN: Thank you.
- [00:02:03.63] INTERVIEWER: How many children do you have?
- [00:02:05.50] AUDREY MONAGAN: I have two daughters, one deceased son.
- [00:02:10.43] INTERVIEWER: How many siblings do you have?
- [00:02:12.60] AUDREY MONAGAN: I have nine siblings. I have-- there was six girls and three boys. And I have a deceased brother.
- [00:02:22.15] INTERVIEWER: So they're all living?
- [00:02:23.41] AUDREY MONAGAN: Yes. Yes.
- [00:02:24.62] INTERVIEWER: That's wonderful. What was your primary occupation?
- [00:02:29.82] AUDREY MONAGAN: Well, I worked for the Ann Arbor Public Schools in the '70s. And then I went to General Motors in '76. And my occupation was I was an inspector of parts there for 18.6 months.
- [00:02:49.21] INTERVIEWER: You know exactly how much time, huh?
- [00:02:51.18] AUDREY MONAGAN: I have a gold card in my purse.
- [00:02:53.52] INTERVIEWER: OK. Very good. At what age did you retire, if you're retired?
- [00:02:58.50] AUDREY MONAGAN: I came out on a medical at the age of 52.
- [00:03:08.01] INTERVIEWER: So you retired young.
- [00:03:09.89] AUDREY MONAGAN: Yes. Yes.
- [00:03:11.76] INTERVIEWER: All right. Let's go on to part two, memories of childhood and youth.
- [00:03:16.48] AUDREY MONAGAN: Well, my memories from my childhood. I had a very good childhood. I had a stepfather and my mother. And we did a lot of fishing. And we enjoyed each other and cookouts. And then it was three of us. And then 10 years later, my mom had the other six.
- [00:03:39.46] INTERVIEWER: She had a little break in there.
- [00:03:41.17] AUDREY MONAGAN: Yes. Yes. Yes.
- [00:03:46.80] INTERVIEWER: Wow. That's great. What sort of work did your families do?
- [00:03:51.88] AUDREY MONAGAN: My mother worked for Model Cities. She was a nurse's assistant at the U of M in psychiatric ward. And my stepfather was a butcher at Peters Sausage plant in Ann Arbor.
- [00:04:09.45] INTERVIEWER: Peters Sausage plant, I don't think I've ever heard of that. Is it under another name now or just no longer.
- [00:04:15.30] AUDREY MONAGAN: No. It was Peters Sausage. It was on the corner of 4th Ave. I call it 4th Ave, but I guess it was really 5th Ave, down near where Summit Park is today. That's where it was. They slaughtered hogs in there. And that's where we got a lot of meat.
- [00:04:36.52] INTERVIEWER: So it didn't go under another name, once it went out? They just closed down.
- [00:04:41.43] AUDREY MONAGAN: It just closed down, yes.
- [00:04:44.31] INTERVIEWER: Were there any special days, events, or family traditions you remember from your childhood?
- [00:04:51.54] AUDREY MONAGAN: I remember my grandfather taking the Bethel AME Sunday school class to Belle Isle for our Sunday school picnic. That was one great thing that I enjoyed.
- [00:05:05.15] INTERVIEWER: So when you took that trip, what did you do there?
- [00:05:09.12] AUDREY MONAGAN: We played and we went swimming. They had a cookout for us. And my grandfather had this truck. It wasn't put together too well. But he put it together enough to take all the Sunday school kids in the back of it. And he drove us to Detroit to Belle Isle. And we just had a good cookout and could swim and play games.
- [00:05:34.25] INTERVIEWER: Now that was with Bethel?
- [00:05:36.05] AUDREY MONAGAN: Yes. Bethel AME.
- [00:05:37.55] INTERVIEWER: And so you've been at Bethel how long?
- [00:05:40.29] AUDREY MONAGAN: They took me there when I was an infant. So I must have been probably six weeks old. I'm still there at 78.
- [00:05:49.10] INTERVIEWER: You probably got lots you could tell, right?
- [00:05:51.57] AUDREY MONAGAN: Oh, yeah. Yes.
- [00:05:56.17] INTERVIEWER: I'm a member there now. But I came once I moved to this area. Which holidays did your family celebrate?
- [00:06:03.00] AUDREY MONAGAN: Well, we celebrate Christmas, was the biggest one that we had. All the toys and the grown ups put them together. And we just had a big party on Christmas Day. That was the biggest holiday that we spent together.
- [00:06:22.67] INTERVIEWER: Were there others? That was the biggest, but were there others?
- [00:06:26.19] AUDREY MONAGAN: Well, we would have-- they would go fishing. So we would be out all night. And they had the barrel and we had the fish. They would fry the fish. And that was a good outing for us, out there 2 and 3 o'clock in the morning on the riverbank. So that was a nice outing for us children.
- [00:06:51.68] INTERVIEWER: So who caught the fish? Who cleaned the fish? And who cooked it?
- [00:06:55.49] AUDREY MONAGAN: My mother, my stepfather, my aunt, and my grandmother, we would be little kids so they would put us on a cot. And we would sleep. And they would catch the fish. And they would all participate in cleaning it and built a little fire. And that's where we cooked and ate it. And we enjoyed that as a child.
- [00:07:18.98] INTERVIEWER: So in terms-- I'm going back to your siblings for a minute. So where do you fall in terms of your siblings?
- [00:07:25.74] AUDREY MONAGAN: I'm number two.
- [00:07:26.87] INTERVIEWER: Oh, you're number two. Did you play any sports or join any other activities in or outside of school?
- [00:07:38.27] AUDREY MONAGAN: No, I didn't play sports. I had to babysit.
- [00:07:44.62] INTERVIEWER: With that many siblings, huh?
- [00:07:46.14] AUDREY MONAGAN: Yes. Yes. As I say, with my second set of siblings, that's where I was the mom.
- [00:07:57.02] INTERVIEWER: So outside of sports, did you go to any other locations where teens went to have fun?
- [00:08:06.16] AUDREY MONAGAN: Well, I went to the Dunbar Center, which is now Ann Arbor Community Center. It was the Dunbar Center. We would all meet up there on Friday. And we would party as teenagers. And we would have a lot of fun then. So that's about when I could go.
- [00:08:28.79] INTERVIEWER: Well, several people we've interviewed have always mentioned that Dunbar Center and how nice it was for young people to go there. So what were some of the activities you can remember?
- [00:08:40.54] AUDREY MONAGAN: Well, we would party. We'd dance. We'd play cards. And then if I remember, it seemed like they had like a little cooking class that we could learn how to cook. They was teaching us some skills in the Dunbar Center when we didn't party.
- [00:09:05.96] INTERVIEWER: When you weren't partying, huh?
- [00:09:06.99] AUDREY MONAGAN: When we weren't partying.
- [00:09:09.98] INTERVIEWER: So let me ask you this. So was the Dunbar Center primarily for African American students or young people?
- [00:09:18.52] AUDREY MONAGAN: Yes. The Dunbar Center was geared for us young students to come there and we'd party. They would let us go in there and they'd have a DJ. That's where we would party at, the Dunbar Center was.
- [00:09:37.96] The McKinsley, I can't think of their first names, husband and wife. And they had a son named Larry McKinsley. They lived on the property there. So you couldn't do too much damage.
- [00:09:57.24] INTERVIEWER: So when you said they lived, they were the owners of the property?
- [00:10:00.28] AUDREY MONAGAN: I think they might have been on a board. I'm just thinking they might have been on a board. They had to have a board or something. And I think they let them live there to keep the building up for us.
- [00:10:16.07] INTERVIEWER: OK, now, were there other places that African American students could go to--
- [00:10:23.94] AUDREY MONAGAN: No, that was just about the only place that we could go unless we met at someone's home. That was it until we got to be grown. And then we could go up on Ann Street.
- [00:10:43.22] INTERVIEWER: Did your family have any special sayings or expressions during the time that you were growing up?
- [00:10:50.85] AUDREY MONAGAN: Not really. I don't think so. I can't think of anything. All I can remember was my grandmother, on Wednesday night, we had prayer meeting. And we did our little Bible studies. They didn't have any special little sayings or anything.
- [00:11:20.61] INTERVIEWER: Well, did your grandmother have some Bible verse that she always referred to or mentioned?
- [00:11:26.64] AUDREY MONAGAN: We would go to Sunday school. And then we got a little card. And my grandmother would say, you got to sit here now. That would be Wednesday. And we'd take those little cards out so we'd have our Sunday school lesson done by Sunday. And that's what my grandmother would pull out on Wednesday evening.
- [00:11:46.75] And we'd sit in the floor, the three of us. And she would make us do our little Sunday school lessons. That's where the religion came in at.
- [00:11:59.59] INTERVIEWER: So that meant that she really prepared you all for Sunday, because she started on Wednesday get ready for Sunday. Right?
- [00:12:06.89] AUDREY MONAGAN: Yes. Yes. She prepared. She said, come on. Let's get this going. And that's what we did every Wednesday. So we were ready for Sunday school.
- [00:12:17.52] And we got those little cards. And it was like pictures and had our little verses. And she'd break the Bible down to us and explain our Sunday school lesson to us.
- [00:12:29.56] INTERVIEWER: That's great. So when you got there, you must have had all the answers when the teachers had questions, right?
- [00:12:35.37] AUDREY MONAGAN: Yes, we did. We were prepared because Grandma made sure that we were prepared when we did that Bible. And it was interesting as we got older, yes. Makes you get in your word.
- [00:12:53.36] INTERVIEWER: Were there any changes in your family-- family life during your school years? You mentioned that you had three-- there was three of you and then six more. So that was a pretty big change.
- [00:13:05.44] AUDREY MONAGAN: That was the biggest change when my mom started her second set, as we call it, our family. Because we, the older ones, had to babysit because by then my mom was working so we had to take care. We had to learn how to cook. We had to learn how to take care of the siblings. So that was our chores to do that.
- [00:13:36.01] INTERVIEWER: So did each of you have a different kind of responsibility or chore? Or you just kind of shared the chores?
- [00:13:43.03] AUDREY MONAGAN: We shared the chores. Because one year, my mom was in a real serious car accident. And my sister and I, which her name is Pat Brewer, we had to alternate in going to school back then.
- [00:14:06.34] We had the two brothers then. And we had to babysit them. And we didn't want the state to come in and take us out. So my sister and I, she would go to school three days and I'd go two. And then the next week, I would go three and she would go two. And my mother was laid up in the hospital with a busted pelvic. So we had to keep the family together for us to go to school and the authorities not to come in and take all five of us. So my sister and I, we worked that out till my mom came home from the hospital after 30 days.
- [00:14:47.62] INTERVIEWER: 30 days was a long time.
- [00:14:49.82] AUDREY MONAGAN: Yes. She couldn't walk because she was in this real serious car accident.
- [00:14:55.55] INTERVIEWER: So you and your sister came up with that plan yourself?
- [00:14:58.34] AUDREY MONAGAN: Yes. We decided that we're not going to get taken away. Because the three of us, we were teenagers. And the other ones were babies, like two and three years old.
- [00:15:15.95] So we were washing clothes. We had to grow up fast after my mom was in that car accident. So that made it a little difficult. But we got through it.
- [00:15:31.34] And my brother, we just told him, you just go on to school. Because we don't want the authorities in here to separate us. And then my great grandmother came from Springfield, Illinois and helped us. So that was an experience with having those two siblings that we had to take care of.
- [00:15:57.48] INTERVIEWER: You two ought to be commended.
- [00:15:58.99] AUDREY MONAGAN: Thank you.
- [00:15:59.69] INTERVIEWER: That was a lot.
- [00:16:00.82] AUDREY MONAGAN: Yes.
- [00:16:02.11] INTERVIEWER: So now in terms of taking care of your younger siblings, so you just basically did everything. You did the cooking, the washing.
- [00:16:13.75] AUDREY MONAGAN: Yes. Yes. My oldest sister got married at the age of 16. So I was still left at home. By that time, my mama had those three girls. It was five of them, then.
- [00:16:32.46] And I was still in charge because she went to work. And my stepfather had left. So I was the mama. And if you see any of my sisters and brothers right now in town, the first thing they call me is mama still. Because my mother died when my baby sister was 17.
- [00:16:54.51] INTERVIEWER: So you're like mama number two.
- [00:16:56.64] AUDREY MONAGAN: Yes.
- [00:16:57.94] INTERVIEWER: Like I said, you should be commended.
- [00:17:00.18] AUDREY MONAGAN: Thank you.
- [00:17:01.83] INTERVIEWER: So when 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? Sometimes when I talk to people, they remember the civil rights or growing up during Jim Crow. So what are some memories that come to mind, social historical?
- [00:17:22.89] AUDREY MONAGAN: Well, when I went to Jones School was the time. It was from kindergarten through the ninth. The biggest thing that we all thought about was they bused the kids in from Whitmore Lake and Hamburg. So it would be an integrated school.
- [00:17:43.62] And then they built Pioneer School. So that was something that sticks with you.
- [00:17:52.64] INTERVIEWER: The busing.
- [00:17:52.73] AUDREY MONAGAN: The busing. Yes. They bused those kids in.
- [00:17:57.20] INTERVIEWER: So talk a little bit more about that. How did that impact the school?
- [00:18:01.48] AUDREY MONAGAN: Well, I don't think we really liked it. And we tried to give those kids a little hard time. But it didn't work. So we had to start making friends. And that's how that came about.
- [00:18:19.75] We decided, well, they're not going anywhere. And this is when they built Pioneer High. And there was Ball Schools. The blacks really couldn't go. Some did. And Eberwhite, those schools, we never went to none of those schools.
- [00:18:45.57] INTERVIEWER: They were basically all white schools?
- [00:18:48.99] AUDREY MONAGAN: Yes. They were. So Ball and Eberwhite, I remember that. And Mack School was integrated. So if you lived over on Gott Street down in Summit and all of that area, you could go to Mack.
- [00:19:06.50] So I went to Mack School. I went to Jones School. I went to Slauson. I want to Tappan. Then I ended up at Pioneer High.
- [00:19:16.44] INTERVIEWER: So let me go back for a minute to Jones School. So Jones School, tell me the grades for Jones School then.
- [00:19:21.88] AUDREY MONAGAN: K through nine.
- [00:19:23.47] INTERVIEWER: Oh, K through nine.
- [00:19:24.49] AUDREY MONAGAN: Yes. They had us all in the Jones School, K through nine. Everybody went there. Then the next thing we knew, I can't remember what year it was, but they bused those kids in.
- [00:19:38.29] INTERVIEWER: And the students they bused in, were they of other racial backgrounds?
- [00:19:44.31] AUDREY MONAGAN: They were white children.
- [00:19:46.93] INTERVIEWER: White children. Because Jones, up until that time, was predominantly black?
- [00:19:50.41] AUDREY MONAGAN: Right. Right. Yes. We were all up in there together, kindergarten through the ninth grade. It was just, to me, it was crowded.
- [00:20:02.46] INTERVIEWER: I was just thinking that.
- [00:20:06.66] AUDREY MONAGAN: You go in there, you're a little toddler. Next thing you know, you're in the ninth grade.
- [00:20:12.69] INTERVIEWER: Time moves fast. You lived during the era of segregation. Can you speak about that segregation? We talked about your school. Was there a high school for black students in the same area? So the high school, in fact, was not all black.
- [00:20:32.64] AUDREY MONAGAN: No. The high school was just a normal high school, as I call it. Because white and blacks both, we went to Pioneer High. Ann Arbor High, I think that was predominantly-- it was black. And that's on the corner of Huron and State Street. It belongs to the U of M now. That building was Ann Arbor High, they called it. And then they built Pioneer back in the '50s.
- [00:21:01.90] INTERVIEWER: Now I want to talk a little bit about Ann Arbor High. So Ann Arbor High wasn't a temporary location until Pioneer was built?
- [00:21:12.36] AUDREY MONAGAN: Right.
- [00:21:13.23] INTERVIEWER: It was or was not?
- [00:21:14.40] AUDREY MONAGAN: It was not.
- [00:21:16.23] INTERVIEWER: So tell me a little bit more about Ann Arbor High then.
- [00:21:18.33] AUDREY MONAGAN: Well, the only thing I knew about Ann Arbor High was when I talked to the older-- like Grace Ellis and Ovilla and them, and I think Betty [? Evertson ?], they went there. So that's the only thing I can remember about Ann Arbor High.
- [00:21:36.78] I just seen the sign said Ann Arbor High. And I said, wonder who goes to those schools. Well, they're much older than me. So that's where the Ann Arbor High come in.
- [00:21:47.46] One day, I'm going to ask Grace, was it just predominantly black or was it mixed. I'm going to have to ask. Well, I can ask Donna. No, it was mixed. It was mixed. Because a lady where I live at went to Ann Arbor High. She was born here too. And she went to Ann Arbor High.
- [00:22:08.04] INTERVIEWER: And I'm recalling, if I'm recalling correctly, that there was a different name for Pioneer for a while. And then it became Pioneer. And that's what I thought. No, it was always Pioneer?
- [00:22:17.55] AUDREY MONAGAN: It was always Pioneer. I thought it would have been-- well, no. You had to divide it. Because that would have been two high schools then. Ann Arbor High and Pioneer High would have been two high schools that we developed.
- [00:22:31.38] But before-- my mom and them came when they were three and four. And they went to a school on Wall Street but they never told me the name of it. And then they said Ann Arbor High was down there on Wall Street.
- [00:22:45.27] But I don't remember them-- They just said one room school. Because Rosemary Blake went to school with my mother and her sister.
- [00:22:59.96] INTERVIEWER: We actually interviewed Rosemarion Blake. She was one of the first people we interviewed for this project. So how did you get to school?
- [00:23:13.94] AUDREY MONAGAN: Well, I walked to school. We lived close enough that I lived on Gott Street so I walked to Mack School. We lived on 5th Ave when I went to Jones School when I was little.
- [00:23:35.57] Then when I got to junior high, we lived out on Main Street where it was Kelsey's Factory, I called it, across the street from where we lived. And we would walk from there down to Summit. We mainly walked to school.
- [00:24:03.73] INTERVIEWER: There was no buses that picked you up?
- [00:24:05.71] AUDREY MONAGAN: No. If you went to school, the city bus. They had the city bus. It ran. So when I graduated to go to Pioneer High, we lived on Fuller Street. So I'd walk to Fuller and State Street right there and catch the city bus and go to Pioneer High. So I rode the bus in my high school years.
- [00:24:30.91] INTERVIEWER: You rode the city bus.
- [00:24:32.23] AUDREY MONAGAN: This city bus, I rode the city bus in my high school years.
- [00:24:36.43] INTERVIEWER: So were there school buses?
- [00:24:40.18] AUDREY MONAGAN: We seen school buses. But none of us rode none. None of the school buses that we seen came in to Ann Arbor.
- [00:24:50.97] INTERVIEWER: But they weren't for African American, black students?
- [00:24:53.73] AUDREY MONAGAN: No. Parents had to drive you or walk you there.
- [00:25:00.98] INTERVIEWER: So that was even through the rough winters, you had to walk.
- [00:25:04.58] AUDREY MONAGAN: Yes. Right. Right.
- [00:25:08.81] INTERVIEWER: So who were the teachers? Were there black teachers during your time in school?
- [00:25:16.52] AUDREY MONAGAN: You know, come to think of it, it might have been one or two. Because I don't remember no black teachers at all. Even Jones School, I'm just not thinking about that. No. We didn't have. We had the white teachers.
- [00:25:39.08] INTERVIEWER: And Jones at one time was predominately black. But the teachers were predominately white.
- [00:25:44.36] AUDREY MONAGAN: Yes. Yes.
- [00:25:47.53] INTERVIEWER: I want to talk a little bit about restaurants and hotels. So were there restaurants or eating places for blacks where you lived?
- [00:26:00.90] AUDREY MONAGAN: Restaurants, maybe a whole lot of blacks didn't go to restaurants. But on Ann Street, they had a restaurant on Ann Street that the blacks ate. Because my aunt used to cook there, my great aunt. She used to clean and cook there.
- [00:26:20.93] On Ann Street, there was a restaurant that we ate out of once in a while. But mainly, everybody was just eating out, go to socialize at people's homes. And that's what it was as far as restaurants. I don't remember.
- [00:26:40.22] INTERVIEWER: So in terms of restaurants, because in other interviews, they talked about the fact that they really weren't allowed to go into restaurants, certain restaurants.
- [00:26:54.15] AUDREY MONAGAN: You couldn't go in certain restaurants around here. They had just certain ones that you could go. But in Ann Arbor, you couldn't. On Main Street, they had restaurants up and down on Main Street. But we weren't allowed in them on Main Street.
- [00:27:16.82] INTERVIEWER: And what about if you had visitors, let's say. I often hear people say they have family coming from out of town or visitors coming into town, where did they stay?
- [00:27:29.07] AUDREY MONAGAN: They stayed with you. I mean, they stayed at our house. Because they didn't have hotels at that particular time. If they had them, I don't remember having too many hotels around here that no one really went to.
- [00:27:45.96] INTERVIEWER: Or allowed blacks to stay in them?
- [00:27:48.03] AUDREY MONAGAN: Right. Right. Yeah.
- [00:27:52.02] INTERVIEWER: So you actually, you were born here.
- [00:27:57.30] AUDREY MONAGAN: Yes, ma'am.
- [00:27:59.24] INTERVIEWER: And what hospital was that?
- [00:28:01.41] AUDREY MONAGAN: St. Joe. I think it was St. Joe. One of us was born at University and one was born at St. Joe. I think I was born at St. Joe. I'll probably go home, look at my birth certificate now and see. Back in the day.
- [00:28:18.73] INTERVIEWER: So during this period, what were some of the struggles you experienced? I know you already talked about having to stay home. Were there other things that you struggled with during this period?
- [00:28:30.66] AUDREY MONAGAN: Well, the struggling was my mother was a teenage mother. And it's hard when you're a teenage mother because you have struggles when you're not married. And we had a lot of struggles. We moved a lot with her being a young mother.
- [00:28:55.98] My grandparents stepped up and raised us till my grandfather died. And that was in the '50s. And so the struggles were, looking back now, it was no clothes, no food. Because after stepfather left, then the meat went away. Because he worked at the packing house. And that was a struggle for us.
- [00:29:28.82] So we ate a lot of fish because we could go fishing still. We were old enough to go and fish. So that was my struggle.
- [00:29:38.75] INTERVIEWER: Did you continue to fish once you became an adult?
- [00:29:43.32] AUDREY MONAGAN: Yes.
- [00:29:43.93] INTERVIEWER: Do you still fish?
- [00:29:44.78] AUDREY MONAGAN: No. I laugh because I'll tell somebody, I can fish. I bet you I probably can't even-- I haven't fished in years. So I probably could still, if they have the cane polls, I probably could throw one of them in the water, hope I have a dobber on there.
- [00:30:07.54] Because when we were kids, we'd go get a tree limb, put the string on there, put a hook, and put this worm on it and throw it out there. And we'd catch a fish. And we'd go home and cook it when we were teenagers.
- [00:30:19.84] INTERVIEWER: Because you all were resourceful, weren't you?
- [00:30:22.35] AUDREY MONAGAN: Yes. Yes.
- [00:30:23.74] INTERVIEWER: So I'm going to go back for a minute and talk about-- you talked about places you'd lived. And you talked about Gott Street. And you talked about Summit and those areas. So were those areas predominately black?
- [00:30:35.26] AUDREY MONAGAN: Yes.
- [00:30:36.01] INTERVIEWER: 4th Ave and all of that?
- [00:30:37.51] AUDREY MONAGAN: 4th Ave was black. Yes. As we said, going over the railroad tracks when you go up Summit Street, all of that was black. That's where all the blacks bought homes. And that's where all of us lived.
- [00:30:54.61] It was like a big community. When this person bought a home, if this person bought a home, they rented the home out. So you had somewhere to live. But that was all black.
- [00:31:06.46] So I tell anybody, if you wanted to find us, come over the railroad tracks and you would find us. And that's Daniel, Fountain, Miner, Sunset, Hiscock, Miller, all up in there. We were all.
- [00:31:27.69] And we had our little-- On Miner, we had a little grocery store on Miner between Hiscock and Fountain, somewhere in there. And we'd come down Miner. We had a little grocery store. We all walked to that little grocery store. And we'd get all your food and stuff there.
- [00:31:49.63] INTERVIEWER: Who owned that grocery store?
- [00:31:52.51] AUDREY MONAGAN: I want to say a guy who was named Tom. I'm thinking his name was Tom. He was an Italian.
- [00:31:59.23] INTERVIEWER: I was going to ask about the nationality. So it was Italian.
- [00:32:02.93] AUDREY MONAGAN: Yeah. We could go in there and we'd get our food and go back home. And then Diroff's as I said, when you got back over the tracks on 5th Ave and 4th Ave Diroff's was next to Jones School.
- [00:32:20.78] That grocery store, he was an Italian. And he would go to the market in Detroit. And he'd bring back all the foods, the greens, and all of that meat and stuff. And that's where people would go and buy the greens and all the meat and things. Diroff's had that set up. And after school, we could go down to Diroff's and buy our little penny candy.
- [00:32:53.54] And on 4th Ave and Kingsley, there was a little grocery store. So the kids would be at church. Our parents would be looking for us. We then took our little nickels and ran up to the little grocery store and bought candy.
- [00:33:08.15] So then we'd get bawled out because we got no money to put in church. So that was our little-- I can't remember who even owned that store. But that was the Sunday treat. Because my grandfather and grandmother took us to church.
- [00:33:23.16] INTERVIEWER: So now, in doing some other interviews, some people refer to that as the black business district. Because a number of blacks owned businesses on 4th Ave, Ann, even around that Kerrytown area. You want to talk about that a little bit?
- [00:33:38.76] AUDREY MONAGAN: Well, that was our survival, having those black businesses. And we catered to them because we couldn't go across town to get food and things. So it came in-- that was real convenient.
- [00:33:58.79] INTERVIEWER: That was that community you talked about.
- [00:34:01.40] AUDREY MONAGAN: Yes. That was our community.
- [00:34:04.60] INTERVIEWER: So you lived there. You shopped there. You socialized there.
- [00:34:08.59] AUDREY MONAGAN: Well, we socialized mainly at church. Because that was mainly the only place that you could really socialize until they let us have-- they didn't let us. We went to Ann Street. And Ann Street from Main Street to 4th Ave, they had the bars in there, the barber shops in there. And that's where we catered at, right there on Ann. And they would let us party--
- [00:34:34.70] And the courthouse was right across the street. And the police didn't really bother us. They looked like they kind of joined us. They were really nice.
- [00:34:50.19] INTERVIEWER: So now when you look at that area where you lived and you shopped and you went to church, tell me about the changes in that area.
- [00:35:00.25] AUDREY MONAGAN: Well, one, I couldn't believe that they named Summit Street-- Water-- they named up in that area, Daniels and something, named Water. Somebody just told me. They said, you know, we live up on [INAUDIBLE] Street. The place is called Water-something. And I said, huh?
- [00:35:20.36] And I rode down 4th Ave. And I was amazed. I called up some of them that I knew, that I spent the night in their homes. And they are beautiful. They are remodeled. And went by the church, and it's a condo.
- [00:35:42.45] INTERVIEWER: Bethel AME.
- [00:35:43.76] AUDREY MONAGAN: Bethel AME condo. It was like-- I called up a couple of them. I said, I seen your all's house. But that wasn't the house you all lived in. And we talked about that just about two weeks ago when I went. Because I knew all those families on that street-- the Bakers, the Scotts, the Matthews, the Sheppards, the Pattersons, and the Gates. And all of us were--
- [00:36:13.79] INTERVIEWER: So that whole area was black? And now it's integrated or predominately white or--
- [00:36:19.05] AUDREY MONAGAN: Well, when I rode through there, I think it's predominantly white now. The way it looked, because there was-- I went by the one house. And I remember the lady's name was Miss Page. Because she taught us Sunday school.
- [00:36:32.90] And I said, that's Miss Page's house. I said, I don't think so. And they remodeled it. And I'm just assuming, because I didn't see anybody out on their porch that day when I rode through, so I'm just thinking it's white up in there.
- [00:36:50.25] INTERVIEWER: So I know that I've seen Bethel AME. And I didn't come here or go to Bethel until it was over on John A. Woods or Plum Street. But talk to me a little bit about it. Because now you mentioned it's condos.
- [00:37:05.78] And I know they left the front of the church, because it's an historical site. They had to leave that. So what do you know about those condos? Or do you know anything about them?
- [00:37:14.39] AUDREY MONAGAN: I don't know anything about the condos. That's all I know is I rode by it and I seen four meters. And I said, oh, they told me it was a condo. So I've seen the meters. I said, well, it's a condo.
- [00:37:27.92] But that was the church that I was raised up in. And Reverend Evans, Reverend Rice, Reverend Parks. Reverend Woods was the longest one there.
- [00:37:42.85] And they remodeled the basement because my grandfather, when I was a kid, Mr. Dennard, my grandfather, and Miss Hicks, they would come over early enough and go down to the coal bin down on Depot and get the coal and come back and heat the church so we could have Sunday school and church.
- [00:38:05.95] And my grandfather did that until they converted the furnace. And that there was the only place that we had to go. And then the baptist church, they were in two houses on Beakes.
- [00:38:26.06] And then they built their building. And we'd go to YPDs in the evening there. So we kept ourselves busy as a community together.
- [00:38:38.71] INTERVIEWER: And I can tell from your talking that you did. I was just interested in how it was then and how it is now. And you've explained that. So it has changed in terms of who's living in that area now.
- [00:38:50.67] AUDREY MONAGAN: Yes.
- [00:38:52.07] INTERVIEWER: So I want to talk a little about your grandfather. So they got up early on a Sunday morning to go get coal and to heat the church. That was his job every Sunday?
- [00:39:02.42] AUDREY MONAGAN: He was a trustee. So when you're trustees, you take care of the building. So my grandfather, Mr. Dennard, he lived across the street from the coal bin. And my grandfather, Miss Hicks, and Mr. Brown and those men would get up early and come and go get the coals in a wagon and pull it back up the hill and heat the church up for us for Sunday mornings.
- [00:39:32.54] And they would kind of open up the windows so we didn't have the smoke and the smell in the church. And we had good church in there. And it was beautiful, from my memory with my grandfather.
- [00:39:48.73] And like I said, we would laugh at my grandfather because he had a Model T Ford. And you had crank it up in the front. And he would go out and he'd push the car down the road and crank it up, and then jump in it and come back and say, OK, we ready to go to church.
- [00:40:08.99] So we lived on Gott Street then. So he'd get to church early enough so he could put the car on the hill. So when we got out of church, he'd get in it and roll it down the hill. The car would start. And we'd go on back home. And I remember that those were the good days, when we used to do that.
- [00:40:28.72] INTERVIEWER: Now by any chance, did you have any pictures of his car or pictures of inside the church?
- [00:40:36.47] AUDREY MONAGAN: You know what? All the pictures had been taken, I haven't seen my grandfather on-- not once. So I guess he must have-- camera shy, didn't want to take it or something.
- [00:40:47.24] INTERVIEWER: Or he was the one taking the pictures.
- [00:40:49.24] AUDREY MONAGAN: Maybe so.
- [00:40:50.39] INTERVIEWER: What about inside the church, the one on 4th Ave.
- [00:40:53.24] AUDREY MONAGAN: The one on 4th Ave, it was built where you came in, you had the kitchen and they had a couple of rooms for Sunday school. Then you went upstairs in the big sanctuary. And that's where we served the lord.
- [00:41:08.06] And we opened up the windows in the summertime so we wouldn't smother up there for the heat. In the wintertime, it was comfortable. So we had it all.
- [00:41:19.91] I was a little usher. They had the young usher board. So I was on the usher board, sang in the choir. Miss Patterson, she was Miss Pitts first. And then she married and was Mrs. Patterson. She played the piano for us.
- [00:41:36.65] And she had us about. All of us piled in her car. And we'd go to different churches. And our little choir would sing in Ypsi and Willow Run. And Mrs. Patterson was our backbone until she had a stroke.
- [00:41:51.46] And then Miss Debow had the male chorus. And Melrose played the organ. And we just had a good time in the Lord up there.
- [00:42:07.66] But the building, was old. And that's why my grandfather and some more of the other trustees, they helped pay for that land that our church is on.
- [00:42:22.24] INTERVIEWER: The current church?
- [00:42:23.45] AUDREY MONAGAN: Yes. That was back-- they had that property back in the-- I want to say it must have been back in the '60s or something. Because my grandfather died in the '50s. And they had bought that property.
- [00:42:38.73] So then they had the committee that put the floor plan together for that church over there on Plum. It was Plum, then John A Woods.
- [00:42:51.99] INTERVIEWER: So Reverend Woods went from 4th Avenue, the church on 4th Avenue, to the one on Plum.
- [00:42:56.85] AUDREY MONAGAN: Yes. They walked that Sunday from 4th Ave over to Plum and went in the new one. And where the all purpose room, that's where we started church at when they walked over, in there. We were in the all purpose room.
- [00:43:14.75] INTERVIEWER: Until they built the rest of the church.
- [00:43:16.35] AUDREY MONAGAN: They finished the rest of it.
- [00:43:19.48] INTERVIEWER: So you say that you sang in the choir. So did you have a good voice? Do you have a good voice?
- [00:43:25.26] AUDREY MONAGAN: I'm a backup singer. I've been in the choir all my life. And I just had to remove myself because of my back.
- [00:43:39.95] INTERVIEWER: Very interesting. So we're going to move to part three-- adult, marriage, and family life. So this set of questions covers a fairly long period of your life, from the time you completed your education, entered the labor force, started a family, until all of your children left home and you or your spouse retired.
- [00:44:02.64] So we might be talking about a stretch of time spanning as much as four decades. After you finished high school, where did you live?
- [00:44:10.56] AUDREY MONAGAN: When I finished high school, now I've got to figure that one out. Well, see, I didn't finish high school at Pioneer. I went to General Motors. And I finished high school in 1992. That's when I got my high school diploma. Because General Motors wanted us to all leave out of there with high school to go to college. Because they knew they were closing, evidently.
- [00:44:42.48] So at my high school, but where did I-- I moved. Where did I-- I lived on 4th Ave. I lived on 5th Ave. Then I lived on-- well, I got married, I was 18, to my first husband. And we lived on Pontiac Trail in an apartment.
- [00:45:04.81] And I had my children. Then I got a divorce. And then I married this man in '72. So I've been in University Townhouses 49 years.
- [00:45:18.19] INTERVIEWER: So when you lived on 4th and 5th, I'm just interested, that was an apartment? Or what was that?
- [00:45:24.63] AUDREY MONAGAN: We were in an apartment. We were in an apartment. That building on 5th Ave is right across from the Summit Park that my mother and them siblings, we all lived.
- [00:45:37.59] When I got married, I lived at home with my mom because I was still taking care of the kids. And so we lived in that building there. That's where I lived when I got married the first time, in that building with my mom-- well, kid, too. So I just stayed in there on 5th Ave.
- [00:45:58.13] And the building is still there. It's on the corner of Summit and 5th Ave. When you come over Broadway Bridge, you turn. That street's Summit. And that building, it's a real tall building. There's about four or five apartments in there.
- [00:46:15.77] INTERVIEWER: So it was an apartment building. And it's still there as an apartment building.
- [00:46:19.75] AUDREY MONAGAN: Yes. I think so. I think so. That's where I lived.
- [00:46:31.10] INTERVIEWER: So you say you moved several times. And what were the reasons for these moves? What were the reason for your moving? You said, I lived on 4th, I lived on 5th. Were there reasons for your moves?
- [00:46:42.84] AUDREY MONAGAN: We were trying to just get an apartment. My husband and I was just trying to move out of my mom's house and get a room. We got a room on 4th Ave. And then we went from there to an apartment on Pontiac Trail. The reasons were we were just trying to expand for living quarters.
- [00:47:07.27] INTERVIEWER: So you talked a little bit about married life. So I know you said you married and then you divorced. What about your current spouse?
- [00:47:18.08] AUDREY MONAGAN: Me and my current spouse have been together 48 years.
- [00:47:21.41] INTERVIEWER: Congratulations.
- [00:47:22.84] AUDREY MONAGAN: He worked for the Ann Arbor Public Schools for 30. He was a custodian over there, known very well for cleaning and what have you. So we traveled a lot with my children and his children. And we get along good.
- [00:47:40.42] INTERVIEWER: That's good. That's good to hear. So you have a blended family.
- [00:47:43.36] AUDREY MONAGAN: Yes.
- [00:47:44.09] INTERVIEWER: So tell me about the children, the combination you blended, you came together.
- [00:47:49.70] AUDREY MONAGAN: Well, his children mainly lived in Detroit. So they would come maybe every other year and for the summer. So no one never really-- his children never really lived with us. It was just my three children and my spouse. So that's how the blended family--
- [00:48:17.62] INTERVIEWER: How did you meet your current spouse?
- [00:48:20.18] AUDREY MONAGAN: Well, my sister, her husband and my husband were-- that was kind of a blended family because they were down in Mississippi. And my husband, his sister had a child by my sister's husband's brother. So that was, in the end, so that's a blended family there.
- [00:48:42.23] And in '67, my brother-in-law brought my husband to Michigan. And I was getting a divorce. And I met him. So he left. And then he came back in-- he went back to Florida. And then he came back in '68. So that's how I met him. I met him through my brother-in-law.
- [00:49:02.20] INTERVIEWER: So that was a good introduction, huh?
- [00:49:04.01] AUDREY MONAGAN: Yes. Yes. It's been a good one.
- [00:49:10.82] INTERVIEWER: So tell me about-- You said it was a blended family. But you had three. Do you want to tell me a little bit about your children?
- [00:49:18.52] AUDREY MONAGAN: My children, my oldest daughter went to Huron High. Well, she started out Clinton, Scarlett, and Huron. And then she went to Community there. Her name is Jacklyn Miller. She was Miller then.
- [00:49:37.40] And then my daughter Kim Miller, she went from Bryant, Scarlett, Huron. And she graduated from there. And then my son was Todd Miller. He's deceased now.
- [00:49:52.00] INTERVIEWER: I knew Todd.
- [00:49:53.37] AUDREY MONAGAN: Been deceased now four years. And he played all the sports he could at your school, Huron High.
- [00:50:00.88] INTERVIEWER: He did.
- [00:50:01.64] AUDREY MONAGAN: And so my children were blessed to be in a home that they never had to move. They were raised right there where I'm at now. And so we did a lot of things together.
- [00:50:20.30] My son kept me busy. My youngest daughter played basketball for Huron. And the oldest one, she did her own thing.
- [00:50:31.66] INTERVIEWER: You always have one, right?
- [00:50:33.18] AUDREY MONAGAN: One. Yeah.
- [00:50:35.55] INTERVIEWER: So do you have any grandchildren?
- [00:50:37.19] AUDREY MONAGAN: I have five grands and seven greats. My grands are, my oldest one will be 41 in August. He's been married twice, four children.
- [00:50:52.00] And my oldest granddaughter, she's been married 12 years. She's got two children. And then the other three, one's in college. I got a granddaughter still in college. That's my son's daughter.
- [00:51:04.76] And then, the other two, one went to Western. She works at the U. Kimmi is her name. Marcus is at home with an illness. But we all surround all of them. And we pray together.
- [00:51:18.44] INTERVIEWER: That's good. That's great.
- [00:51:19.88] AUDREY MONAGAN: And those great grandkids, those are my little ones. So we have to go to amusement parks.
- [00:51:29.32] INTERVIEWER: Recitals.
- [00:51:31.21] AUDREY MONAGAN: Oh, yes. Granny, this one's playing the horn tonight-- the great grandkids. Because all of my grandkids are grown. So the great grandkids, this is what's going on over here, Granny. All righty. Here I come.
- [00:51:47.90] INTERVIEWER: It's always enjoyable to spend time with grandkids.
- [00:51:51.70] AUDREY MONAGAN: Oh, yes. And the greats especially. And when the grandkids got grown and had children, I said, your Christmas is cut out because I got to give that money to those greats.
- [00:52:06.20] We enjoy each other. We have cookouts for Thanksgiving, and Christmas, and Easter, Mother's Day. So one daughter cooks. And we go to her house and take a dish. We do that every year.
- [00:52:21.89] INTERVIEWER: I was going to ask you who did the cooking.
- [00:52:23.90] AUDREY MONAGAN: My youngest daughter.
- [00:52:26.55] INTERVIEWER: She's a good cook?
- [00:52:27.56] AUDREY MONAGAN: Yes. She can cook what she needs to cook.
- [00:52:32.01] INTERVIEWER: To get the food on the table.
- [00:52:33.62] AUDREY MONAGAN: Right.
- [00:52:35.12] INTERVIEWER: And Todd just had the one child?
- [00:52:37.16] AUDREY MONAGAN: Todd had one daughter. She's in college at Central. She's up in Midland, Michigan. Waiting on her to graduate. One minute, she's going to be this. Then the next minute, she's going to be this. So she might be a student.
- [00:52:52.53] INTERVIEWER: She might be a professional student.
- [00:52:54.20] AUDREY MONAGAN: Yes. Yes.
- [00:52:55.84] INTERVIEWER: Great. That's wonderful. Now I'm going to move into part four, which is work and retirement. And you've talked about that a little. So what was your main field of employment? And you talked about working for General Motors.
- [00:53:13.78] AUDREY MONAGAN: I worked for General Motors as an inspector for 18.6, I think, years. And I had to come out on a medical. And I've been retired now 25 years. And I enjoy my life.
- [00:53:34.95] INTERVIEWER: That's good.
- [00:53:35.43] AUDREY MONAGAN: I enjoy my life.
- [00:53:36.87] INTERVIEWER: That's great.
- [00:53:37.74] AUDREY MONAGAN: Yes.
- [00:53:39.08] INTERVIEWER: So how did you first get started with working at General Motors?
- [00:53:43.83] AUDREY MONAGAN: Well, General Motors had a plan-- Model Cities, they had an organization that wanted single mothers. Because at that particular time, well, I got married in '70. Well, I was a single mother. But I was in this program for General Motors.
- [00:54:17.08] So they made sure all single mothers got a decent job. So you went and did your classes for this job and what you had to do. And then, General Motors, they got you right in. General Motors hired you.
- [00:54:36.50] So that's how I got in General Motors was through welfare. I call it welfare. Because I was on that for just maybe eight months. And then I had to go into this program. And then they hired me. So that's how I got my job at General Motors.
- [00:55:01.68] INTERVIEWER: So that was basically what got you interested, just getting a better job or getting a job.
- [00:55:06.18] AUDREY MONAGAN: Because I worked for the schools. And I was going to try and stay in the schools after Mr. Mial, Harry Mial, had us for lunch supervisors. Then that's when I started my little education to be a teacher's assistant. And I was going to stay in the schools.
- [00:55:28.04] And then when they had this other program, I said, well, might as well go over here. And so that's how I decided I need a little more money, raising three children by myself at that particular time. And then I got my job at General Motors.
- [00:55:49.05] INTERVIEWER: So how did you enjoy being at General Motors?
- [00:55:52.46] AUDREY MONAGAN: I loved it at General Motors because I went in, I was a production person for about two weeks. And next thing they said, we need an inspector. So they changed my ID to an inspector. So I really enjoyed it.
- [00:56:13.70] It was something different to go in that plant and work on the floor. And I got an opportunity because they started having you leave the plant to go to other plants. So I was in this program.
- [00:56:30.95] So when I went in, I was an inspector. So there was about five or six of us. We'd get in the company car. We'd drive around Michigan. We'd drive down to Detroit.
- [00:56:41.24] We went in the building. We were there our eight hours. And it was interesting. So I just made myself available because I wanted to know more. And so that's what I did there at General Motors. And I worked on the floor. And it was an experience.
- [00:57:02.36] INTERVIEWER: The floor was?
- [00:57:03.53] AUDREY MONAGAN: Yes. It was. It was something. And meeting different personalities in there. I was never in an environment like that. And I had to adjust because it was like a city in a city. You could buy anything.
- [00:57:26.71] We went places. The company made sure we seen what was in the other buildings. And it was just-- I was very interested. So I was really active on the floor.
- [00:57:39.64] And I would be leaving the building, getting in one of them cars, and go wherever there was a-- go to Flint. And they would meet you at the door, take you through the building. And you talk to the workers. And I really enjoyed my job.
- [00:57:56.08] INTERVIEWER: So when you say you went to Niles or some other places, Flint, what did you do once you got there as an inspector?
- [00:58:03.24] AUDREY MONAGAN: Well, what we did was we went on the floor, out on the floor, and we talked to people on their jobs to see how did they like their jobs or what part they were putting in the, say, maybe the transmission.
- [00:58:21.25] And we'd stand there and watch them and talk to them. And they would talk to us. And we learned experience of how things operated. And that was something to see.
- [00:58:34.66] Because where I worked, we made the transmissions. And so you knew you got clutch plates. You had this to go in that transmission and everything. Going out of the building, you would go into another transmission building. And they were putting their parts different than where we were. So we would learn from that. And I did that about four years.
- [00:58:59.53] INTERVIEWER: So as an inspector, when you think of inspectors, you think that people are coming to kind of oversee you and go back and do a report. So they didn't have an issue with inspectors coming in?
- [00:59:11.17] AUDREY MONAGAN: They didn't have any. No. Because it would be inspectors. And then it'd be some production people. So we were a different variety that was going on the trip.
- [00:59:24.58] So it would be like a committee man would go with us. Or we get in a van, maybe five or six of us, maybe might be four. And people didn't mind because when they seen we were there walking around with the supervisors. And they would talk to us. And I learned a lot doing that.
- [00:59:48.16] INTERVIEWER: So let me ask you this. You talked about going on the floor. What was the racial makeup? And also ethnic? In terms of male-female, black-white, what was the makeup?
- [01:00:02.22] AUDREY MONAGAN: The makeup was I'd say 50-50 for the makeup. But I'll just go back a little bit. When my first husband went in the plant, they had the white people on the lines. The black people had to clean the bathrooms and the kitchen when he first went in there.
- [01:00:32.17] And then everybody's saying that too many people were taking too many breaks and they weren't getting a break. So they decided, we're going to the union. And we're going to break this up. Everybody is going to do a little bit of everything. So that's how that went. So it ended up being 50-50.
- [01:00:51.57] INTERVIEWER: But it started out with a division between black and white in terms of the types of jobs they did for General Motors.
- [01:00:58.80] AUDREY MONAGAN: Right. Right. Because my first husband went there back in the '60s. And I didn't get there until the '70s. But when he went in there, they mopped floors and picked up the trash.
- [01:01:17.20] INTERVIEWER: None of the blacks were working on the line.
- [01:01:20.65] AUDREY MONAGAN: No. Not then. Not when he went in the '60s. And then they changed it. And then everybody was equal. Then everybody got the lines, you did bathrooms. And that's what they did.
- [01:01:40.21] INTERVIEWER: So how was it in terms of people coming together, working together, and getting along? How was that?
- [01:01:47.79] AUDREY MONAGAN: We got along real good because there was always somebody there to tell you, don't mess with so and so. And you had to work your way in to their, as I say, domain at that particular time.
- [01:02:07.39] Because they would say, she's rough. And that would be a white lady or a white man. And they would say this to us. When I first got there, they said, well, now if you can get to be friends with so and so, you got it made. And that's where you had to kind of work your way up on that.
- [01:02:27.55] But when you went in, that person did their job. You did your job. And we all got along. We all got along.
- [01:02:38.92] INTERVIEWER: That's good. So you already sort of mentioned this, that you're really enjoying your retirement life. What changed with you and/or your spouse when you retired and all the children left home?
- [01:02:53.98] AUDREY MONAGAN: Well, we had to get used to each other. He still worked after all my children left and I was retired. So when he retired, I had to get used to him being at home.
- [01:03:08.14] INTERVIEWER: I've heard that before.
- [01:03:09.40] AUDREY MONAGAN: Because when you get ready to go out the door, out of their mouth is, where are you going. And my remark was, you didn't ask me when I was going to General Motors. And I said that wasn't nice.
- [01:03:25.36] But I'd say, well, I'm going to the gym. So he knew I had joined the gym. So then when he retired, he went and got a part time job which he's still working. So we have dinner together. And we laugh and talk. And that's how we survived since the children left.
- [01:03:46.59] INTERVIEWER: That's good. You found a way to make it work.
- [01:03:49.70] AUDREY MONAGAN: Yes. Yes. Because I know some friends of mine, it didn't work. It did not work because it was like, we didn't retire, somebody wants to be the boss. Wasn't no boss when we was children and working. And then all of a sudden, you got this new program.
- [01:04:14.33] When he retired, I thought, oh, boy. And he didn't wait. He retired in October. He got his job in November. Them 30 days was like, oh, are we going to get through this. Are we going to really make it?
- [01:04:35.26] And I just kept on doing my exercise Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Go out to lunch with the group. And I tell you, it was a little hard there for a minute because, well, I need you to come and go here with me. OK. I better go here with you.
- [01:04:53.07] INTERVIEWER: You had to compromise.
- [01:04:54.98] AUDREY MONAGAN: I had to. I had to.
- [01:04:58.40] INTERVIEWER: So you have dinner together most evenings?
- [01:05:01.19] AUDREY MONAGAN: Yes. Yes.
- [01:05:02.42] INTERVIEWER: Does he cook? Or you do all the cooking?
- [01:05:04.26] AUDREY MONAGAN: No. He works at the bowling alley. So they send the food home with him.
- [01:05:09.67] INTERVIEWER: He brings the dinner home.
- [01:05:11.57] AUDREY MONAGAN: He's my meals on wheels. He's my meals on wheels. Whatever it is, I take it.
- [01:05:19.73] INTERVIEWER: I love it.
- [01:05:21.51] AUDREY MONAGAN: Yes. And then somebody call, what'd you cook? I said, my meals on wheels ain't came in yet. So I can't tell you what I cooked.
- [01:05:30.58] But I'll cook once in a while. But they don't want to throw away the food and we can eat it. And it's like salads, and mac and cheese, and fish.
- [01:05:45.47] INTERVIEWER: It sounds good. It sounds healthy.
- [01:05:47.07] AUDREY MONAGAN: Yeah. So we get the meals on wheels.
- [01:05:51.70] INTERVIEWER: I love it, your meals on wheels. When thinking back on your working adult life, what important social or historical events were taking place at the time? And how did they personally affect you and your family?
- [01:06:07.77] When you were growing up, you mentioned the busing into the schools. Were there other things that happened in your adult life, socially or historically?
- [01:06:15.97] AUDREY MONAGAN: No, not really. It's just, my life has been a normal life. So the busing was the only thing when I was a kid and seen that. But other than that, I don't recall of anything.
- [01:06:34.34] INTERVIEWER: What about the civil rights movement? Did that have any impact?
- [01:06:37.64] AUDREY MONAGAN: To me, the only thing helped was-- I mean, the civil rights-- I mean like I said, the civil rights, it didn't bother me because I lived in the North. And I used to say, all the people from the South came to the North. And they found out what they left, they brought it with them. So there was nothing.
- [01:07:07.66] INTERVIEWER: So what do you recall about when you heard that Dr. King had been killed?
- [01:07:12.55] AUDREY MONAGAN: I was working. I was pressing shirts. So I was working in this laundry when he got killed. And I couldn't work no more the rest of the day. It affected me because I thought, this man was on the move, making moves, and changing things.
- [01:07:38.59] And it affected me. I couldn't work. So I went home. And I think I just sat down and I got numb for a minute. Because it just didn't seem real that this man went to jail, did all this for us.
- [01:07:56.67] And it was like, now what's going to happen. So I think I was numb for about three days when that happened. But I can tell you where I was. I was at work that day.
- [01:08:17.07] INTERVIEWER: Most people can tell you where they were when that happened. When thinking back over your entire life, what are you most proud of?
- [01:08:30.54] AUDREY MONAGAN: Well, I'm proud of my children and my grandchildren because they got a further education than I did. And they worked real hard for what they're getting. And I'm really, really proud of my children and my siblings.
- [01:08:55.07] Because when my mom died, that was something.
- [01:09:00.37] INTERVIEWER: Hard.
- [01:09:01.24] AUDREY MONAGAN: It was hard. Because I had to help my baby sister. But I'm really proud of my own children. They got educations and they worked hard.
- [01:09:16.27] Because my youngest one worked in the schools for eight and a half years, at the preschoolers. And different ones see me right today, and they'll say, tell your daughter so and so is graduating this year. And tell your daughter this. And I was really proud of her working in the schools and helping those children.
- [01:09:40.79] INTERVIEWER: It's good when you can say you're proud of your children and what they've accomplished or what they're doing. That's great to be able to say that. Everybody can't say that.
- [01:09:50.16] AUDREY MONAGAN: I'm proud of my grandson because he went in the Navy for five years. So he's one of the veterans now. I'm proud of him because he served our country.
- [01:10:03.10] INTERVIEWER: We all are proud and appreciate our veterans.
- [01:10:05.64] AUDREY MONAGAN: Yes. Yes.
- [01:10:08.78] INTERVIEWER: What would you say has changed the most from the time you were a young person to now?
- [01:10:14.59] AUDREY MONAGAN: What would I say changed the most? I guess I have. Weight goes up. Weight goes down. I guess that's probably about the easy way to say it is that I've seen a lot. I know a lot. And I've been around.
- [01:10:44.34] I'm neutral because I can go out with educators. Although I just have a high school diploma, I can go out with educators. And I can go out with the people that have problems because I've been there, done that. And I let them talk.
- [01:10:59.98] I have a brother that's a doctor. He's a psychologist. So he's taught me a lot. He said, now listen, if they want to talk, listen. Give one little comment so they'll keep on getting through it. So I like that.
- [01:11:13.90] INTERVIEWER: That's some good advice. Because some people just do all the talking and never doing any listening, right? That's great. What advice would you give to the younger generation?
- [01:11:25.82] AUDREY MONAGAN: To the younger generation now, I would say to them, listen and less talk. Do less talking. Listen to whoever your supervisor is or who's ever in charge. Listen so you can understand what they're saying, bring your ideas to the table, too. And let them hear your ideals. And put them together. And I think that way things would work out for you.
- [01:12:00.35] INTERVIEWER: So listen more?
- [01:12:01.57] AUDREY MONAGAN: Yes.
- [01:12:06.88] INTERVIEWER: So tell me what you felt about having our first African American president.
- [01:12:17.18] AUDREY MONAGAN: Well, I didn't think I'd never see that. But I was glad to know that we could go in the front door, didn't have to go in the back door anymore. That was one thing.
- [01:12:31.18] And he did what he could for each and every one of us. And I really appreciate him getting in. So I can say I seen it. Because you often think, when will you ever see it. That's one thing that I was really proud of, to see that.
- [01:13:03.20] INTERVIEWER: I as well.
- [01:13:04.60] AUDREY MONAGAN: Yeah. Because I know it was hard. And his youngest daughter is going to be going to the U of M.
- [01:13:12.66] INTERVIEWER: That's what I hear.
- [01:13:13.41] AUDREY MONAGAN: That's what I heard. And I said, good, good. So that's the way that I felt.
- [01:13:26.55] INTERVIEWER: So I'm going to give you an opportunity to say any final thoughts that you want to share or sayings or whatever. And then that's going to wrap up our interview.
- [01:13:40.20] AUDREY MONAGAN: Thank you very much. I want to say, thank you for inviting me to come up here and talk what I know about Ann Arbor. And the people in Ann Arbor which are educators were very beautiful to me in my life and my children's lives.
- [01:13:59.85] And I enjoyed working with Area Aging at the U of M. That was interesting to go out into the community to be with the seniors. I really enjoyed that. Since I retired, I did all of that. So thank you very much.
- [01:14:24.63] INTERVIEWER: I want to say that I really enjoyed doing this interview with you. Oftentimes, you see people but it's amazing what you can find out when you sit down and talk to someone. Because you see them and it's kind of, hi, how you doing, and that stuff. But I've enjoyed interviewing you. So thank you.
- [01:14:42.84] AUDREY MONAGAN: Thank you.
July 2, 2019
Copyright: Creative Commons (Attribution, Non-Commercial, Share-alike)
Rights Held by: Ann Arbor District Library
Bethel AME Church
Bethel AME Church Choir
General Motors Corp
Peters Sausage Co.
Dunbar Community Center
education - desegregation
Ann Arbor Public Schools - Desegregation
Jones Elementary School
Christian Mack School
Pioneer High School
Ann Arbor High School
Patrick Donovan School
Miner Street Grocery
Area Agency on Aging 1-B
Race & Ethnicity
AACHM Living Oral History
Rev. A. D. Evans
Rev. W. F. Rice
Lyman S. Parks
John A. Woods
A. B. Brown
Martin Luther King Jr.