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AACHM Oral History: Don Simons

Sun, 11/08/2020 - 1:08pm

When: September 29, 2020

Don Simons

Donald L. Simons was born in 1943 and he grew up on Fuller Street in Ann Arbor. He attended Jones School, Ann Arbor High, and Eastern Michigan University. He was a starting football halfback and basketball co-captain in high school, and was recognized as athlete of the month. Mr. Simons recalls segregation and several incidents of discrimination in Ann Arbor. He is proud of his family, his work coaching at the Maxey Boys' Training School and Boysville, and co-hosting the annual neighborhood picnic for 25 years.

View historical materials

See also: "A Wrong Made Right"

"Ann Arbor Huron announces first round of student-athletes to benefit from Donald E. Simons Memorial Fund"

Transcript

  • [00:00:14] INTERVIEWER: First of all, I want to thank you so much for agreeing to do this interview and sharing your story with the museum. There are five different categories, and I'm going to start with one which is simple demographics about your family. When you're answering these questions [NOISE] , it may jog your memory about something that you want to further talk about, but we'll get an opportunity to get it all in. First, I want you to please say and spell your name for me.
  • [00:01:01] DON SIMONS: My name is Donald L. Simons, S-I-M-O-N-S, middle initial is Lester.
  • [00:01:12] INTERVIEWER: What is the date of your birth including the year?
  • [00:01:17] DON SIMONS: March 31st, 1943.
  • [00:01:22] INTERVIEWER: How would you describe your ethnic background?
  • [00:01:26] DON SIMONS: Multi-ethnic, primarily Afro-American.
  • [00:01:32] INTERVIEWER: What is your religion?
  • [00:01:36] DON SIMONS: Methodist, Bethel AME.
  • [00:01:40] INTERVIEWER: What is the highest level of formal education you have completed, and did you do any additional or formal career training beyond that?
  • [00:01:53] DON SIMONS: I was a graduate of Eastern Michigan and did two years of Master's work beyond my undergrad studies.
  • [00:02:05] INTERVIEWER: What is your marital status?
  • [00:02:09] DON SIMONS: I'm widowed. After 35 years, my wife passed.
  • [00:02:15] INTERVIEWER: How many children do you have?
  • [00:02:20] DON SIMONS: I have three children, two daughters, Donna, Alena, one son, Donald E. Simons, who passed away at 29 years of age in 2012.
  • [00:02:36] INTERVIEWER: We're going to talk some more about him later. How many siblings do you have?
  • [00:02:44] DON SIMONS: One.
  • [00:02:48] INTERVIEWER: That's your brother?
  • [00:02:51] DON SIMONS: Yes. Harold.
  • [00:02:52] INTERVIEWER: One brother. What was your primary occupation?
  • [00:03:00] DON SIMONS: I was a special education teacher dealing with primarily all at-risk kids that were committed by the state judicial system, so Maxey Boys Training School, I spent 32 years there, and I spent eight-and-a-half years at Boysville, which is another facility with at-risk kids run by Holy Cross. Maxey was a state institution.
  • [00:03:31] INTERVIEWER: At what age did you retire?
  • [00:03:34] DON SIMONS: Sixty-three.
  • [00:03:39] INTERVIEWER: All right. Now, we'll get to talk a little bit more about your family. This is entitled memories of your childhood and youth. This part of the interview is about your childhood and youth. Even if these question jog your memory about other times in your life, please only respond with the memories for this part of your life, when you were younger. What was your family like when you were a child?
  • [00:04:13] DON SIMONS: Well, we were a very close knit family in a very small shotgun house. I grew up on Fuller Street, which was all 99.9 percent a Black neighborhood. Ran along the railroad tracks where, quite frankly, the white families did not choose to live because at that time locomotives come by with a bunch of noise and black soot coming out of the engines because they burned coal. On a beautiful snowy day, a train come by and you go outside, you got black soot all in the snow. So that's where I grew up, along that street, Fuller Street, between State Street and Glen Ave. The other memories I have as a youth is we had a lot of games we played in the neighborhood as kids, we played marbles, hide and go seek, cowboys and Indians, and we were outdoors all the time, not on the computers inside, this technology. I was outside an awful lot, I remember my first day of school at Jones School where Joetta Mial's husband Harry Mial was the sixth grade teacher. But my first day of school in kindergarten, I came outdoors looking for someone to pick me up to take me home, which is a half a day of school, and no one picked me up. So I walked home, which is about a mile and a half from Jones School to Fuller Street. My mother was raking leaves in the yard and she was shocked that I was home. She would tell you to this day she blew it, but I was fortunate to find my own way home. That was quite a bit of memory.
  • [00:06:03] INTERVIEWER: That was kindergarten?
  • [00:06:06] DON SIMONS: That was in kindergarten. By the time I got to sixth grade, Harry Mial, who eventually became a principal at Northside, he was my sixth grade teacher.
  • [00:06:20] INTERVIEWER: What work did your parents do?
  • [00:06:24] DON SIMONS: My mother didn't work for the first eight, nine, 10 years. Then she got a job working in a dental lab at the University Hospital. She eventually worked at VA hospital and she walked back and forth to work, which was two and a half miles there and back almost every day. My dad started out as a truck driver for a wholesale grocery based in Jackson, Michigan called Symon's Brothers, which is spelled S-Y-M-O-N-S. People thought we were a wealthy Black family. No, it's just the same name. He drove trucks, then he ran the grocery warehouse up on Ann Street for Symon's Brothers for 15, 20 years. That was the wholesale grocers, where the commercial grocers would come buy their wholesale foods.
  • [00:07:23] INTERVIEWER: Let me ask you this first. You've given me some of your early memories about school and where you lived, but what is your earliest memory when you were a kid? Was it the kindergarten one?
  • [00:07:48] DON SIMONS: That's the most vivid memory. I remember being taken over to my grandmother's house on occasions. She lived on Beakes Street. Her name is Grace Miller and I remember her, she had some sour cream cookies all the time, and also lemon meringue pie. I remember she always wanted to wash me up and clean me up and scrub me hard. She scrubbed me hard, I remember. She scrubbed me hard behind the ears and neck and everything. I remember that being very young. That was my mother's mother. Just for the record, Grace Miller is the founding mother of the New Grace Church that is now over on Packard.
  • [00:08:33] INTERVIEWER: Your grandmother was close to you?
  • [00:08:37] DON SIMONS: Yes.
  • [00:08:40] INTERVIEWER: Were there any special days, events, or family traditions that you can remember from your childhood? Any kind of special things you did?
  • [00:08:53] DON SIMONS: [OVERLAPPING] Not really. No special days, no special events, just regular holidays. What was special to me was every now and then we hopped in the car and go to A&W and eat a hotdog. That might happen about once every five or six weeks. That's about all I recall. As an 11-year-old, I walked along the railroad tracks and I found golf balls to sell golf balls to make money. After doing that for several months, the clubhouse pro hired me as an 11-year-old to pick up newspapers and clean up the toilets down at Ann Arbor Municipal Golf Course, which was called the Rock Pile at that time. I worked there for about four years, at the Ann Arbor Rock Pile. Right now there's a big swimming pool at that location and soccer fields. But that was all golf course, '40, '60s and mostly in '70s.
  • [00:09:56] INTERVIEWER: Was that your first job?
  • [00:10:00] DON SIMONS: Yes, that was my first job at 11 years of age, 40 cents an hour. I got a dime raise the next year.
  • [00:10:11] INTERVIEWER: [LAUGHTER] How about that.
  • [00:10:12] DON SIMONS: That's the solid truth. I got a dime raise, then they gave me hotdogs and chocolate milk free.
  • [00:10:24] INTERVIEWER: How [OVERLAPPING] Go ahead.
  • [00:10:29] DON SIMONS: I heard you say mm-hh, that sound good to you, the hot dogs? Go ahead.
  • [00:10:35] INTERVIEWER: [LAUGHTER] How were your holidays traditionally celebrated in your family? What kind of things did you do? You said you...?
  • [00:10:43] DON SIMONS: We didn't do anything Christmas other than had my grandparents home for Christmas at the house, my mother would fix the dinner. I remember then closer to my teenage years, we'd go up to Idlewild, Michigan, which is a Black resort up in the northern part of Michigan. We did that for about 3-4 years, for about a week. That was exciting, that was a highlight, we'd roller skate and eat out, and go down to swim. I remember, Black entertainment was really prevalent up there. They had a club called the Flamingo. For those who have been around long enough, they will remember the Idlewild, it was jumping. In the Midwest that was the most frequent place for Blacks to go and congregate and share time and entertainment.
  • [00:11:43] INTERVIEWER: Your whole family would go up there?
  • [00:11:47] DON SIMONS: Yes. We'd usually rent a house with another family usually, as I recall.
  • [00:11:55] INTERVIEWER: So there were kids there too?
  • [00:11:57] DON SIMONS: Oh, yes. The roller skating rink was packed with kids. [NOISE]
  • [00:12:11] INTERVIEWER: Did your family create any of it's own traditions or celebrations that you can think of?
  • [00:12:20] DON SIMONS: No, I can't recall, maybe my brother's video might recall some of that, I can't. I don't.
  • [00:12:27] INTERVIEWER: Okay. What was the highest grade that you completed? [NOISE]
  • [00:12:37] DON SIMONS: I completed two years beyond a graduate at Eastern Michigan University, which I think I addressed a little earlier.
  • [00:12:45] INTERVIEWER: Right.
  • [00:12:46] DON SIMONS: I got a degree in special education and physical education and a minor in science, and health education. Like I said, I'd like to add at this time, I'm proud, I didn't realize it at the time, but I was the only minority Black selected to join the Kappa Delta Pi Society, which is a national honorary society in education. I was invited to join that and I went in one evening to take a picture and with all honesty, when I walked in there I felt like I was out of place. They were very studious looking, so you'll have to see the photo I took with them. I paid my dues for about 15-20 years and wore the pin. I was proud of that accomplishment because when I came out of high school, many of my youth peer group, not many, but a few said, especially the teachers at Pioneer--I dropped from college curriculum to a general curriculum my senior year--and they said I'm going to have trouble getting through college. I think that made me buckle down and spend more time in the library. I came out of school with overall 3.4 plus, almost 3.5.
  • [00:14:09] INTERVIEWER: Well, tell me why you were dropped to the general curriculum?
  • [00:14:16] DON SIMONS: Honestly I don't know why I dropped. Other than the fact, I don't really know why. I think because I had heard so much rumors about some classes in the locker room, the guys were having all types of headaches about and trouble with. And I said, shoot, I don't need any headaches, I got enough headaches already. I really don't know why I dropped classes at that time. I was very active in sports. I played everything except for hockey. I played sports year round: basketball, football, and ran track, and golf in the summer.
  • [00:14:55] INTERVIEWER: Tell me about your sports career in high school then.
  • [00:15:02] DON SIMONS: Well, as I shared with you previous, Ann Arbor had the Six-A conference. We were very competitive statewide. We were probably the strongest or second strongest conference in the state of Michigan for all sports, Pioneer at one time had more state trophies in their recording than any other high school for championships. At football, I was a halfback, I started in halfback and the leading ground gainer in many of the games. I was selected athlete of the month and the photo was put down at--a 24 by 36 photo was put in the Ann Arbor Bank down from Dascola Barber Shop. I was very proud of that. Basketball I was the co-captain, and co-leading scorer. In track, I did everything, but wasn't exceptional in anything but I did all the events except hurdles and pole vault. Out here, I don't know if I should share this now or not, Joetta, you think I mention what I told you yesterday about the vote?
  • [00:16:32] INTERVIEWER: I think this would be a good time to share.
  • [00:16:36] DON SIMONS: Well, what did happen in my senior year, in the yearbook. The class seniors always vote for those most likely to succeed, most athletic, and other categories. Other than graduating from high school, I wanted to be recognized as possibly the most athletic. I was recruited actually as a swimmer in junior high. The University of Michigan swimming coach thought I was in high school already cause I was a very good swimmer. Two other guys I was swimming as fast as and faster than ended up in the 1964 Olympics. But I stopped swimming in high school because I chose to play basketball instead. But senior year, getting back to the vote, the people doing the count at 3:30 told me that I was leading as being the top athlete of the class, went back at five o'clock, they told me to check. At five I took a close second to a very personal friend of mine. Unfortunately, he got ill about 12 years ago. He confided in me that his girlfriend had cheated, that I was actually voted the most athletic by my class. Over the years, I did receive letters from classmates, saying please don't tell him, but they don't know why I wasn't voted most athletic. He was put in a bad position. But he wanted to let me know that before he passed away. It was a heck of a burden for him to carry over all those years. But he shared that with me.
  • [00:18:29] INTERVIEWER: How did it impact you?
  • [00:18:33] DON SIMONS: At first I was upset about it, disappointed. I said don't know why it happened. But I felt also bad because he was a teacher in Ypsilanti. I called him, maybe once a year just to check on him and see how he was was doing. If he wasn't at home, I felt real bad, because in hindsight I used to tell his wife jokingly, now I'm in my thirties and forties, tell Jerry, that the most athletic guy in the class of 1961 called him. Not knowing what he was carrying in his heart and what he had to carry. I felt bad about that, I tried to reach her and apologize after he passed away, but she was having a very serious health issue, she couldn't be reached. It's quite sad, I can't say that was discriminatory. I would say that was more of a personal issue that happened. That evidently is sitting really closely to my heart right now to be sharing it in this interview.
  • [00:19:41] INTERVIEWER: In the elementary school, you mentioned that you had Harry Mial. Were there any other Black teachers there at that time?
  • [00:20:00] DON SIMONS: No, I don't recall any other Black teacher, I think he was the first or second Black teacher in the Ann Arbor school system. I do not recall any other Black teachers.
  • [00:20:11] INTERVIEWER: Okay.
  • [00:20:15] DON SIMONS: I remember he could kick a football a mile high and far. [LAUGHTER] We'd go out to the playground and he'd show us what he used to do. I guess he used to play football for Eastern Michigan.
  • [00:20:27] INTERVIEWER: Yes. [LAUGHTER] What about your school experience, is different from school as you know it today?
  • [00:20:44] DON SIMONS: Different? Quite frankly, the difference is, especially in high school and college, I had to spent a lot of time in the library and had to be quiet. I had to go find books and to write notes down. That's a huge difference. Now kids can do their homework at home on a computer, on the laptop, on their cell phone. But I spent a lot of hours looking at the clock in the library and look up and say, "Wow I've been here an hour and half already, let me get out here." I remember being at Eastern Michigan sometime being in that library up to three hours long, and working at night.
  • [00:21:24] INTERVIEWER: You had a job while you were at Eastern?
  • [00:21:28] DON SIMONS: When I was going to Eastern Michigan, I had two jobs. I had two part-time jobs, one working in recreation at Maxey Boys' School. The other one I washed test tubes for the University of Michigan Hospital between 10 and 12, five nights a week. Wear rubber gloves all the way up above my elbows. I had to scrub all these test tubes and things out, then go home and get four, five, or six hours sleep, then go to school at eight o'clock in the morning.
  • [00:21:56] INTERVIEWER: Oh my. Did your family have any special sayings or expressions that you can remember during this time that you quote back to your parents?
  • [00:22:20] DON SIMONS: No, I can't remember any sayings or expressions. They named me Don Don because my dad's name was Don. I think they named me Don Don because we both would turn around and respond to Don. Plus maybe I didn't answer soon enough, so they called me Don Don.
  • [00:22:39] INTERVIEWER: [LAUGHTER] Okay. Were there any changes in your family life during your school years?
  • [00:22:50] DON SIMONS: No.
  • [00:22:51] INTERVIEWER: No. Nothing that impacted you.
  • [00:22:55] DON SIMONS: No.
  • [00:22:56] INTERVIEWER: 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 in any way?
  • [00:23:22] DON SIMONS: I don't recall any special events such as that.
  • [00:23:27] INTERVIEWER: Historical event, what was going on in terms of--? [OVERLAPPING]
  • [00:23:37] DON SIMONS: Only thing I can remember is Kennedy's death. I was in college. I wasn't really tuned into historical events while I was in grade school, junior high, or even high school. I remember one historical event. I remember going down to the train station sitting on the side of the hill when Neil Staebler came into town with I think it was John F. Kennedy. They were on a train ride, a political trip. I remember that, but I was in high school for that. That was a pretty historical event for Ann Arbor and historical for me. His son right now is a very good friend of mine. We graduated together. Michael Staebler is a retired lawyer. He's a very good personal friend of mine.
  • [00:24:30] INTERVIEWER: You lived during the era of segregation. Can you speak a little bit about that? Was your school segregated? Was the elementary school near your home? Was there a high school for Black students in the same area? How did you get to school? Who were your teachers? Were there restaurants or eating places for Blacks where you lived? How were Black visitors accommodated that you know of?
  • [00:25:14] DON SIMONS: Now, Mrs. Mial, you know you asked me eight things, and I'm going to [LAUGHTER] try and recall two of them.
  • [00:25:26] INTERVIEWER: Well just tell me about--since you were living during segregation---
  • [00:25:26] DON SIMONS: I was living in a segregated all-Black neighborhood--didn't really realize it was segregated at the time because we just were all together. Didn't realize till we were much older why we were living where we lived. Jones School was probably 90 percent minority and Black. Junior high was a blend, that was Tappan Junior High. It was a blend of middle to upper class white and a sprinkling that was Black. Pioneer High School was the upper class. In my class, I think we only had about less than five percent of us, four percent of us were minority or Black.
  • [00:26:14] INTERVIEWER: You told me a story about someone you dated in high school.
  • [00:26:22] DON SIMONS: Oh, yes. Between my junior and senior year, well, I was going into my senior year, I started dating a white girl that we were in an art class together. She was on the homecoming court, she was very cute, petite, quiet. So it didn't intimidate me because I didn't date, I wasn't involved with young girls up until my senior year. Actually, I ran from them in junior high. So what happened is I didn't realize the bias, prejudice of this community. By us spending time together, her being on homecoming court, me being a visual, well-known athlete, didn't realize how much havoc was going to be brought down on us and especially her. I remember one day in particular, she came crying to me in the music room at lunchtime. She walked in there and two or three called her a nigger lover. She came crying to me and I took her by the hand and I said, "Let's go back." "Why?" she said. She was scared. I said no. We walked in the room, people had their head down. There must've been 30, 40 students in the room, and when they saw me come in, they put their head down and I said, "Okay. I'm here now. You need to leave Didi alone." Her name was Didi Hall, my name was Don Don. I said, "If you have an issue with us, come to me. Don't beat on her, don't bother her. If you all want to step up right now I'm here." It got very quiet, and I won't use the term on video. It got so quiet you could hear a mouse run around the corner. They left her alone for only a little while, but she got phone calls, she got badgered, her dad came over to visit me when she was visiting me one day and offered me if I'm going to go out of state to college, he would help with the finances if I needed help going out of town. So she ended up having a neurological breakdown, and she had issues for a couple of years. Her dad saw me at the shopping center out at Arborland, out near Hughes and Hatchers, and I was about 22, 23 then. He hollered at me and he asked to speak to me. I said, "Oh, wow, what do you want now?" He stood up man to man and said, "I'm so sorry that I interfered with you and my daughter." Barton Hills, the white establishment, his wife had all put him up to splitting me and Didi up, and he said in the last four years he recognized I was the best thing for his daughter that was there, but he realized it too late. So to end that story, she never got married, and she passed away about two years ago.
  • [00:29:36] INTERVIEWER: During the time that this was going on, at the school, did any of the teachers or administrators intervene to help you all?
  • [00:29:50] DON SIMONS: No, they actually intervened to damage us. I won't call his name out because it wouldn't serve a purpose, but a lead counselor at Pioneer High, about three months before graduation, he called me out of an academic class to come down and talk to him. I think it was on a Wednesday. I recall it very vividly because teachers' meeting I think was Tuesdays. I said, "Oh, this is going to be something special coming from the lead counselor." He was well known. He called me into his office, and he closed the door, Joetta, and I sat down just feeling like wow, what's coming? He said, "Don, you have represented this school so well in your time here at school, you're about to graduate, but you got a few more months. The teachers last night in the teacher meeting asked me to convey to you to stop walking up and down the hallways with Didi Hall." Oh, I didn't mean to mention her name to the complete. I said, "Stop what?" "Oh, don't worry about it, Don, you're a good-looking young man, you're going to have at least seven girlfriends in your lifetime, but if you could do that it would take a lot of heat off this school." I walked out of there in a fog. Thanks for reminding me to tell that story because it was impacting. It was really bad. Ann Arbor had an awful lot of prejudice and bias back in the '50s and '60s.
  • [00:31:24] INTERVIEWER: So that was during the civil rights days.
  • [00:31:31] DON SIMONS: Yeah.
  • [00:31:32] INTERVIEWER: That's some important ways that you were impacted by that.
  • [00:31:39] DON SIMONS: Oh, yes. It was tough. Okay. Go ahead.
  • [00:31:45] INTERVIEWER: Did you walk to school?
  • [00:31:51] DON SIMONS: I usually got a ride to school, I took the bus and got a transfer from State Street and Fuller Street, I caught a bus there and got a transfer at Huron Street and Main out to Pioneer High. In junior high, I usually would get a ride out to school, but most of the time after school it's that real bad winter days, I would walk home or jog home after playing sports. I would come home from Tappan Junior High, then I'd have to have football practice and basketball. Often I had to walk home or hitchhike a ride from Pioneer High. In the long run, it really strengthened my stamina in athletics. But at that time it was something that I had to do. I wasn't being picked up that often.
  • [00:32:49] INTERVIEWER: I want to go back and remind you of another story during when you were young and had to do with swimming in Whitmore Lake.
  • [00:33:03] DON SIMONS: Oh yes, thank you. When I was about 12 years old, I loved to swim, very good swimmer. They had a, I think it was called Grooomes Beach out on Whitmore Lake. It was about '55, maybe '56. The family, we went out to Whitmore Lake. It had a huge slide that was well-known. You could slide down the slide and go in the water. My brother, myself, and my mother, weren't able to walk through. My dad followed us and they stopped us. As a family, my dad called me back and my mother called us back to say we couldn't go on the beach and I asked them, "What do you mean we can't go on the beach? We can't swim." "Well we'll tell you about it later." Those folks out there on Whitmore Lake refused to let us get in the water because my dad was dark in complexion. He was at least half Indian and he had more of a brown complexion, he had dead straight hair, it didn't make any difference. If you were brown, you might stick around, if you're Black, you got to step back. That was the slogan. If you're white, you're all right, and that's the thing that was always pressed upon us coming up. But at the time, they didn't want to make a scene and I was too young and I wasn't going to make a scene, I just did what they told me to. Thanks for helping me recall that fiasco.
  • [00:34:44] INTERVIEWER: I have one more in this era of segregation, when you attempted to go to a barber shop.
  • [00:34:56] DON SIMONS: Yes.
  • [00:34:58] INTERVIEWER: How old were you when you did this?
  • [00:35:02] DON SIMONS: Once again, I was about 12 or 13 years of age. My mother wanted me to go around to Dascola Barber Shop--and I don't mind calling them out--because my regular barbers weren't cutting my hair the way she wanted it cut. At the time, I had a head full of hair, straight hair, and I went in and sat there to get a haircut. I sat there for well over an hour, I looked at the clock. A couple people came in and they let them get in the chair, I said, "Well, maybe they had an appointment." Finally the barber called me to his side and said, "What can I do for you young man?" I said, "I'm here to get a haircut." He put his tools down and took me by the shoulder and walked me outdoors and pointed me back up towards Fourth and Fifth Avenue and says, "We don't touch your hair here. We're not cutting your hair. So you best go down there and make a left-hand turn and they'll cut your hair down there." I said, "I know. That's where I always get it cut." "Well, we're not touching your hair." That infuriated me so much. I looked across the street, and there was an alley. I felt like coming back later on and throwing a brick through the window. But I didn't. Three years later, I had my big photo in the bank next to them as athlete of the month. But they still weren't cutting minorities' hair, from my understanding. Thanks for reminding me of that story.
  • [00:36:39] INTERVIEWER: That was around what year?
  • [00:36:41] DON SIMONS: That was probably around 1955 or 56. Another story happened very similar to that was that the Ann Arbor Police Department picked me up in my backyard. I was coming back home from basketball practice at Tappan Junior High, I walked all the way home. There was a shortcut coming down from the old St. Joe Hospital through the woods and as I was coming down there, the police were in my backyard flashing a light. They called me and asked me, what am I doing, I said am coming home from school, from practice. I will never forget that night because it was Zorro, came on at 7:30. They said, "Well young man, we're looking for someone who's been breaking in up around the corner. We couldn't catch him, he's very fast." That's what they told me. I don't fit the description as far as I'm concerned. "We have to take you up to the police station and ask you some questions. They took me straight past my folks' house, down the drive way, put me in the back seat of their police car, took me up to interrogate me, went through my wallet and looked at all my buddies, half of them were in trouble with the law. They found a bunch of coins in my pocket I was flipping nickels and dimes--at school that's what we did for a little entertainment to gamble, I guess. I was fortunate enough that I was a first baseman and a pitcher, the number one pitcher for an Ann Arbor Police baseball team at the time. The captain of the police department was also a coach. He walked in, looked in the window and saw me, and he called the two police officers out. Within less than five minutes, they came back in red faced, apologized, and they said, "We're sorry, we got the wrong person. We're going to take you home, Don." So they took me back home and dropped me off. But in hindsight, they had no business taking me out of my yard without at least letting my parents know where I was at, and I did not get home in time to see Zorro. Isn't that something?
  • [00:38:57] INTERVIEWER: Yes, and it's still going on today.
  • [00:39:05] DON SIMONS: Yes, it's still going on today. Young people are getting beat up. Never mind, I don't want to touch that subject. I have seen mad dogs get treated better than some Black men.
  • [00:39:26] INTERVIEWER: You all ever go to the restaurants and were they segregated, do you remember?
  • [00:39:33] DON SIMONS: Yes, they were segregated. We never went to one restaurant that I remember in Ann Arbor. Like I said, we hopped in the car and went out and had a hot dog at A&W or in the Ypsilanti area. I do recall going to the Elks Club but I was much older then. I formed the Sanford Security basketball team and I met up there for lunch. The two gentlemen that was going to sponsor my basketball team told me that I'm likely the only Black that had ever eaten in that facility and that was 1968 or '69. I couldn't believe that either but I also heard that one of the other residents was quite prejudiced up there. I know Paul Newman worked up there as a chef. Clint Castor owned that restaurant but I can't remember the name of that restaurant now, but it would be prejudice also or bias, wouldn't let Blacks eat, what I was told.
  • [00:40:42] INTERVIEWER: Do you know anything about where Black visitors stayed when they came into town?
  • [00:40:50] DON SIMONS: No, I don't.
  • [00:40:51] INTERVIEWER: You don't remember that. We're going to go on to category three, which is going to talk about adulthood and your marriage and family life. It's going to cover a long period of time, from the time you completed your education, entered the labor force, or started a family until all of your children left home and you or your spouse retired. So we might be talking a stretch of time. After high school, where did you live?
  • [00:41:33] DON SIMONS: I stayed at home for my first three years and commuted back and forth to Eastern Michigan. Completed college. Once I graduated, I got an apartment up off of Green Road.
  • [00:41:48] INTERVIEWER: I'd like you to tell me a little bit about your married life.
  • [00:42:03] DON SIMONS: I met my wife at a roller skating rink down in Toledo, Ohio and I dated her for a while. She went away to college and I met another young lady and I dated her for about four years. Then things kind of fell apart. With that, I actually got engaged to her but then I went back down and spent time with my wife, and she came back from college and we got married in 1968. August 24th, 1968.
  • [00:42:39] INTERVIEWER: Tell me what it was like when you were dating.
  • [00:42:45] DON SIMONS: It's always exciting when you're dating. [LAUGHTER] It's always exciting when you're dating. I drove down to Ohio, I was excited to be in the car, excited to go down there and young, I got a ton of energy. Never get tired it seemed like. But I always stayed in Black cultures, Black community, Black everything, never mixed. Even when I went to roller skate down in Jackson, Michigan, I didn't realize it but they had a special night where Blacks were allowed the only roller skate down in Ganson, in Jackson, Michigan. I'm sure you remember Ganson Street, don't you Joetta?
  • [00:43:27] INTERVIEWER: Yes, and I remember the special day of roller skating, yes.
  • [00:43:31] DON SIMONS: Yeah, I just thought it was a party night. I didn't realize that the only reason you'd go skating on a Sunday night because that's for Blacks night.
  • [00:43:40] INTERVIEWER: That's right.
  • [00:43:41] DON SIMONS: I didn't know that. I said, "Wow, all these things I was going through, I didn't realize. 'Okay, we're going to allow you to come in here tonight.'" So then I'd go to Battle Creek and roller skate, I went up to Canada to roller skate, Toledo, and two or three years I did a lot of roller skating and traveling around skating, socializing. Anyhow, that's quite a memory back in those days.
  • [00:44:09] INTERVIEWER: You told me the date you got married, so tell me a little bit about the engagement and wedding. Did you graduate from college before you got married?
  • [00:44:25] DON SIMONS: I graduated from college in 1967. I got married in August of '68.
  • [00:44:34] INTERVIEWER: How was the wedding? What was that like?
  • [00:44:42] DON SIMONS: The wedding was down in Toledo, Ohio. The wedding was actually a beautiful wedding. I have some fantastic photos of the wedding still. I remember it was a very hot day, 103, 104 degrees, a very hot day. We had a lot of friends coming down there. Some people came late, they had to get off of work but it was quite an experience. I remember the minister saying, "Now, you know the only way a marriage works is you got to do 50-50." Now, I listened to him. I said, "Okay, 50-50," and he explained what 50-50 meant. But in reality a marriage is not 50-50 because some people do more in one area, other people are better in other areas. I understood why he said what he said.
  • [00:45:39] INTERVIEWER: How long was your engagement before you got married?
  • [00:45:43] DON SIMONS: Let me see. I was probably engaged about six months.
  • [00:46:01] INTERVIEWER: I'm going to ask you a little bit more. Did you and your family have any special days or traditions? You and your immediate family.
  • [00:46:29] DON SIMONS: No.
  • [00:46:30] INTERVIEWER: No. Okay.
  • [00:46:30] DON SIMONS: No.
  • [00:46:32] INTERVIEWER: Okay.
  • [00:46:34] DON SIMONS: My brother might contradict it because I can't bring up any.
  • [00:46:43] INTERVIEWER: Okay. We're going to go on. How many children did you have?
  • [00:46:59] DON SIMONS: Three.
  • [00:47:01] INTERVIEWER: Three. Right. Okay. You want to tell me about them?
  • [00:47:07] DON SIMONS: Yes, I'm very proud to say my first child born was named after me and my wife both, her name is Donna Carol. Donna, after my name and my wife's name was Carolyn. She was born in 1970, May 25th. My second daughter is Alena Adele. She was born in 1977. My son, Donald E. Simons was born January 24th, 1983.
  • [00:47:46] INTERVIEWER: Tell me a little bit about them.
  • [00:47:49] DON SIMONS: Well, they all were very good students, attentive at school, higher academic grade average, they all went on to pursue and graduate from college. Donna graduated from Tennessee State in the area of Civil Engineering. No, not civil. She has an engineering degree, maybe it was civil. Alena graduated in International Business and she was also co-captain of the volleyball team. She got a full ride scholarship to college to Howard University and she was also editor of the newspaper at Howard. My son, Donald, went on to graduate as the Auto Engineering in Technology, very high level degree in auto engineering from Ferris University. He was also an extremely good athlete. All three of them were very good in sports. Donna was an excellent track girl, she ran with an Ann Arbor track club, she played basketball. She even participated in track at Tennessee State University, which is a well-known track program back in the '70s and '80s. She graduated from Pioneer High in '88. Alena graduated from Pioneer High in 1995. My son graduated from, did I say Pioneer? I meant Huron.
  • [00:49:27] INTERVIEWER: You got to get that right. [LAUGHTER]
  • [00:49:32] DON SIMONS: Get that right. I blew that. It must be getting long in this interview. They all graduated from Huron High; 1988, my oldest one, 1995 was Alena, and 2001, my son. Their names are imprinted on a brick down at the football stadium in the year they graduated at Huron High.
  • [00:50:01] INTERVIEWER: Now, I know that your son passed. You want to tell us about the scholarship that you setup for him at Huron?
  • [00:50:12] DON SIMONS: After my son passed, I set up a scholarship in his name, and it's under the Donald E. Simons Fund. It's a scholarship to help those students that don't qualify for free or reduced lunch programs to help them pay their $250 to pay to play sports here in Ann Arbor. It's still at Ann Arbor Huron High, and it's set up through the Ann Arbor Community Foundation, which is on the corner of Main Street and Catherine. But anyhow, they're a very well operation that manages millions of dollars worth of funds for Washtenaw County.
  • [00:51:07] INTERVIEWER: So people can find out how to donate to this fund?
  • [00:51:18] DON SIMONS: Yes, they can find out how to donate to the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation. I think that's what it's called, Ann Arbor Community Foundation.
  • [00:51:37] INTERVIEWER: That's okay. We'll get it.
  • [00:51:39] DON SIMONS: All right.
  • [00:51:43] INTERVIEWER: Tell me more about-- How was family life when the kids were all home?
  • [00:51:55] DON SIMONS: It was very great. It was very good. The kids are spread out, so my wife devoted most of her time, she's very dedicated. We had a couple of bad experiences with baby sitters. So my wife was a nurse at the St. Joe Hospital and she'd come home after working midnights to sit up and take care of our kids when they were really young because we were having so much bad experiences with baby sitters, except for a couple. She was quite committed as a mother, she spend an awful lot of her energy seeing that they were taken care of. She loved Christmas. Christmas was her highlight. One time we had four or five Christmas trees, three were outdoors and two were inside the house. She just loved Christmas. It was quite a joy. It's quite a void right now, the loss of my wife and my son both. Both my daughters have their own families now. My oldest daughter lives up in Novi area. She's married and has two kids, and my youngest daughter lives down in Laurel, Maryland right now. She has three kids.
  • [00:53:28] INTERVIEWER: So you're a grandpa?
  • [00:53:31] DON SIMONS: Grandpa of five. They range from age 16--and the youngest one just turn 10. The youngest one is Joseph at 10. Then we got Brendan at 13. Delbert at 13. Layla at 16, and Aaron at 16. All very good students and quite athletic, all of them.
  • [00:54:00] INTERVIEWER: They all take after their grandpa and their father, your kids and your grandkids.
  • [00:54:10] DON SIMONS: Thank you for that. They just follow suit because both my daughters' husbands, one played football for Washington Redskins and now he's a football coach at the University Air Force Academy. Donna's husband is a Michigan State graduate. He's quite athletic, he played basketball and football. So they get the best of all because of the joining of marital-- people who have common successful experiences that are trickled down into the kids. That's what's missing so much in our society now. There are so many divisions in families, so many mothers in particular are single-family homes and it's contributed to part of the chaos that's in this country now. That when it became so expensive that the woman had to step outside to help make funds to keep the family above float, I don't know if it's by design, but it was a huge impact on the devastation and breakdown of character, and moral character, and ethics in this country. I know you didn't ask me that question, but it just came out.
  • [00:55:39] INTERVIEWER: No, [LAUGHTER] you're fine. How did your kid's schooling compare to you and Harold's? Did they run into any of the discrimination that you encountered?
  • [00:56:04] DON SIMONS: No, they really didn't. To my knowledge, if they did, they kept it to themselves. They was a little better blend. They didn't face the level of discrimination. The discrimination my son faced was with a discriminatory football coach and I'll leave that alone. When he went to Ferris, there was some discrimination up there. There was discrimination he faced, even when he went for a big-time interview out in Arizona. It was extremely good. It was engineering and technology. He qualified as two finalists for a job for the federal government. He flew out to Arizona in an interview, they treated him very well as long as he's verbally communicating with them and he answered all the questions. When he got out there, they saw he's a 6'5, 240 pound minority, I think. Then they used as an excuse for not hiring him because he had two years and seven and a half months experience. They told him, that he had to have three years and the other guy had three years. That's what they told him. He felt real bad because he said, "Dad, for telling the truth, I was penalized." Anyhow, that came out of my heart just now too. It's painful, but it brought him back home where there's been more time with him. It turned out all right.
  • [00:57:42] INTERVIEWER: Well, we're going to move on to Part 4, which is your work and retirement. Your main field of employment, what would you describe it as?
  • [00:58:07] DON SIMONS: I was a special education teacher working with the most difficult at-risk youth in the state of Michigan, at the Maxey Boys' School. They were the young men that the schools couldn't deal with in Wayne County, up in Flint, Grand Rapids. The schools couldn't deal with them. The parents couldn't deal with them, so they were committed by the courts to an institution that dealt with them. Quite frankly, that job was quite rewarding for few years. I, unfortunately, had to work 52 weeks at Maxey Boys' School and Boysville, whereas, the public school teacher usually has a 42 week, 41 week school year. The public school teacher also made more money in that short period of time than I did in 52 weeks. It was quite stressful, became more and more stressful because we did not have time off to have breaks. We had to use our vacation time that we earned, and we fought to get 46 work weeks, but the state never granted it. We had more attacks on my job at Maxey Boys' School against staff from the youth than Jackson Prison. For two or three years, I was the chairperson investigating why we needed a 46-week program, that we needed breaks. Quite frankly, to this day, I have some post-traumatic stress disorder. I worked year round in a facility that had no outside windows in my office. The gym had no outside windows, the swimming pool had no outside windows, although they had all exterior walls. I worked in the dark, in violence, and periodically, I have dreams of not being able to deal with the young men. Can't get them to do this, can't get them do that, whereas, when I was working, I usually was able to pull something out of my bag of tricks, to diffuse a fight, to diffuse a situation and move on with the day. That just came up too because the truth of the light is, I paid a price for working year round. I worked a total of 41 years in institutions that actually equate out to 49 years of public school teaching, except it was continuous.
  • [01:00:49] INTERVIEWER: What got you interested in working with high-risk kids? You said you were [OVERLAPPING]
  • [01:00:57] DON SIMONS: I just fell into this stuff, Joetta. I fell into it because I worked part-time as a recreations person out there at Maxey Boys' School in '65 and '66. They built a new facility or academic area and gym in 1967, so I applied for the physical education, the coaching job up there at that time. I just fell into it. I was very good with at-risk kids, and I was able to communicate with them. I understood their music, I understood their language. I understood a lot about their background. Actually, sometime, we'd go visit them in their community on my first three or four years of teaching, then I realized it was best for me to stay out of their community.
  • [01:01:52] INTERVIEWER: You mentioned working 52 weeks out of the year. What was a typical day like for you while you were working?
  • [01:02:05] DON SIMONS: Wow, a typical day started early. In winter months, I'd drive to work in the dark. I'd get there and I had the young men waiting for the first-hour class. PPC came in, I started out without PPC. I had 20 to 22 young men in my class. There were two other physical education teachers, and eventually, the program went to a program called PPC, which stood for Positive Peer Culture, in which the kids were nine in a group, and they had to do everything in groups of threes. I had five classes a day, and looking back at it, I don't even know how I did it, to tell you the truth. It was quite a taxing day often. I think my outlet was I played basketball, and in the evening I played in the basketball league and I was young and energetic. That kept me going. I would release stress through activities. Many of the staff out there had a lot of emotional breakdowns, and I actually had a minor one in 1995, along with blood clots. Quite frankly, it was quite a place to deal with. Somewhat similar that you would hear from soldiers that come back, that fought together in foxholes. Those that worked at Maxey daily and dealt with those issues understood what the other ones had gone through, so there's camaraderie.
  • [01:04:06] INTERVIEWER: What do you think is the main difference now, I don't know if you know about what has happened to Maxey, than when you were working there?
  • [01:04:22] DON SIMONS: Well, Maxey has been closed down for about nine years now as a state institution for higher up criminals. I think most of the youths now are being retained in the counties and they may be on tethers. I do know they're not getting the same service they got when they were in a state institution with the teachers that we had and the youth specialists. They can't possibly be getting the same quality of service. But what is so unfortunate--the system does set up to help them, many do get helped, but when they return to society, they're almost designed to fail because the terminology they learn and the way they resolve to deal with problems at Maxey, they don't have the support group out there in the community to get that same support. They often fall through to crack or fall back into their bad habits of their peer group. So I can't answer what's going on with them now, other than every now and then, I used to see at an event, some young man would come up and say, "Hey, coach, you remember me?" I say, "No, not really. I was at Maxey such and such years," this, this, and this. "You haven't changed too much, Coach." I say, "More so than you realize, but thanks for remembering me," and they tell me their name, we shake their hand. I ask them what they're doing. Couple of them seem to be doing well. The difference between me and my brother Joetta quite frankly is this; Joetta, you're going to identify with this. You were in the public setting. You have young people that come through the grade school, junior, and high school. When they graduate, they go out and have more success and experience. I worked in an institution where there's very little success. Probably 70 percent of the young men I dealt with ended up in Jackson Prison or dead, one or the other. There were times when my brother and I would go places together, and the people would holler out, "Hey, Coach," and I would turn because people didn't know my name was Coach. Out at Maxey and Boysville they called me coach all the time, not Coach Simon. I'd turn my head, 90 percent of the time it was one of my brother's students that recognize him because we're in the local area. I was very much isolated in the institution. I remember we were together one time and somebody would say, "Hey, Coach," and he's after me. I said, "Wow, look here, that's me." But working in an institution is not some place I recommend people to have to work, especially if it's year round. The product that you graduate in the public school keep coming back, giving you more rewards. You get rewarded when people will recognize what you did, you touched them, but I don't get that. My brother has his ball players, his students come back every year, call him, touch fist with him. I don't have that feedback. It sounds like I'm crying victim, I'm crying reality. That's what it is.
  • [01:07:49] INTERVIEWER: What did you value about the work that you did do?
  • [01:07:55] DON SIMONS: I value that I did have an input with a lot of young men. Every now and then, one of those young men will write me a termination letter saying that I helped him see the light, and I really helped them while they were there.
  • [01:08:09] INTERVIEWER: Okay. Well, we're going to go on to section 4 which [OVERLAPPING] .
  • [01:08:23] DON SIMONS: I thought we were we done with four. I thought we were going to five.
  • [01:08:32] INTERVIEWER: [LAUGHTER] Yes, we are [LAUGHTER].
  • [01:08:32] DON SIMONS: Thank you, Joetta. [LAUGHTER] I'm counting, girl. I'm counting.
  • [01:08:36] INTERVIEWER: [LAUGHTER] [NOISE] Okay. I want to ask you about some historical social events. This is actually part of the other section. But when thinking back on your working adult life, what important social or historical events were taking place at that time? How did they personally affect you and your family while you were working, in terms of the civil rights movement? Did it impact you at all and your family?
  • [01:09:45] DON SIMONS: I don't think it impacted my family. When I was at Eastern Michigan, they sent the dogs on the students over there in the 1967. There was a big riot up about the county sheriff putting dogs on the students over there that were protesting at Eastern Michigan. I remember that was 1967 or '68. I don't remember any other real event that impacted me. The killing of John F. Kennedy, I was registering for classes when it was announced that he was assassinated. That was quite a major event. As I got older another major event was Watergate. I think Watergate helped turn America into becoming less honest, less integrity because they exposed just how crooked the people who are above us are, and can be, which has become amplified over the last four years. I don't want to jump on that; I'm going to leave that alone.
  • [01:11:04] INTERVIEWER: Okay. One more about retirement. I want to ask you, how did life change when you and your wife retired? Did you both retire at the same time?
  • [01:11:29] DON SIMONS: Unfortunately, my wife had developed cancer about less than a year before she retired and she died in one year. So we had no time in retirement. My retirement has been so-so. It was okay as long as my son was alive, quite frankly, because my daughters got married. Basically, my life revolved around my son. When I lost him, I've never been the same, never will be the same. As you well know, Joetta, when you lose a child, things are never the same.
  • [01:12:19] INTERVIEWER: Yeah. Okay. Now, we're going to five. [LAUGHTER]
  • [01:12:26] DON SIMONS: I thought we were at five. Okay, Joetta. [LAUGHTER] I won't be so long-winded.
  • [01:12:31] INTERVIEWER: No, that's okay. You have a lot of story to tell, and we're happy to receive that. Tell me overall how it's been for you to live in this community.
  • [01:12:46] DON SIMONS: Overall, Ann Arbor community is a community to always come back to. I've visited other cities many times and always come back to Ann Arbor. Ann Arbor is a very high level of diversity. The improved social life that people wanted is there. University and higher education is there. Ann Arbor has everything to offer for you except a warm winter [LAUGHTER]. Other than that, it has everything. If our winter was just six or seven weeks shorter, it would help a whole lot.
  • [01:13:24] INTERVIEWER: [LAUGHTER] When looking back on your entire life, what important social, historical events had the greatest impact for you?
  • [01:13:41] DON SIMONS: Social, historical events.
  • [01:13:43] INTERVIEWER: What historical events?
  • [01:13:55] DON SIMONS: Assassination of-- Maybe that wasn't the biggest.
  • [01:14:06] INTERVIEWER: Assassination of John Kennedy.
  • [01:14:11] DON SIMONS: Both Kennedy and [OVERLAPPING]
  • [01:14:13] INTERVIEWER: Martin Luther King.
  • [01:14:15] DON SIMONS: Yeah, both those assassinations were very impacting. Way back then, it appears that people would take out those who have good hearts with good intentions. No doubt they were impacting. Anyhow, hopefully, November 3rd we have some more very impacting outcome.
  • [01:14:53] INTERVIEWER: Again, when thinking back over your entire life, what are you most proud of?
  • [01:14:58] DON SIMONS: I am proud of having three kids, five grandkids that all have outstanding citizenship, character, moral, ethics. I'm also proud that I was a co-founder of the Old Neighborhood Reunion Picnics, that I created T-shirts for this 25th year. This was going to be our 25th year anniversary for the picnic, but it had to be canceled because of the pandemic. I had the shirts made that has the original committee members in 1996 on the back of the shirts. I'm very proud of the Inbounds organization I set up in 1988, '89. It addressed character enhancement for youth and families, in which if you can remember, Joetta, I came to Huron High to present a proposal to work with at-risk kids or kids that were having some problems at Huron High. I appreciated your support at that time. I went on and talked concepts nationally. I went down to the PGA of America and did it with the golf industry. I used golf as a tool to teach core values of integrity, honesty, perseverance as it belongs to the game of golf. I took that concept to the golf industry, me and my associate, 1988, 1990, and '89. They were very interested in the program. They had said they would consider hiring us to develop it nationally. But quite frankly, we got kicked to the curb. Our original concept is now in a program that serves 15.5 million youth across the world in six different countries. My program was called Inbounds; the golf industry's program is called The First Tee. I do have a blog that was put together, took two or three years to put it together, that identifies the journey that me and my associates took and the outcomes. It was viewed by a defamation libel lawyer and supported by 36 or 37 hyperlinks. One of the graduates from Huron High tried to give me support and she sent the blog to some very wealthy persons that live in an island outside of Miami and she was off work recovering from a heart attack. Within a week after she sent that over there, they notified her that she's no longer welcome to come to the island, she no longer would have a job, and she was not even able to access some of the friends she had developed after working 14 years on that island. Her dad was one of my original helpers. His name was Charles Perry [NOISE] , and the young lady down in Florida name is Theresa Perry.
  • [01:18:51] INTERVIEWER: How can people find out about your Inbounds program?
  • [01:18:58] DON SIMONS: We're not operational right now, but I still keep my paperwork viable. They can go to inboundsproperties.com. Click on that and a site will open up that will say Gary Player Prints. Gary Player is a professional golfer, signed 250 prints for me to sell to help with funding my program. His son forced them off of eBay and I had two law firms and seven lawyers represent me to show where there was tortious that interfered with my business. But the federal judge didn't even allow my lawyers to have rebuttal or arguments. They spent well over $125,000 representing me and they couldn't go any further. They said I would have to pay for the appeal process and they felt it wasn't worth going any further because they knew what they're set up against. To answer your question, that inboundsproperties.com, when you open that blog, you see the historical pictures of things that I did working with youth across America. I have pictures of me, Tiger Woods, Gary Player, Arnold Palmer. It will show a photo of me and Selina Johnson. She has a youth program in Detroit called Hollywood Golf who I was a consultant to for two and a half years. We received an award from the golf industry in 1989 or '90 called the Card Walker Award. It's the highest award given to junior golf in America. We were on a national TV program down in La Costa, California. That photo would be there. Once you open inboundsproperties.com, you'll see, in the right-hand corner, the blog. That blog took almost three years to put together. If you click on there, you'll see three two-minute videos and you'll see there two stories. One is who was the originator of the First Tee concept and the other one is about, Did Gary Player Turn a Blind Eye to Justice. By the way. Gary Player's son was taken to court by his dad months ago. Three months ago, Gary Player's son was forced to leave his dad's intellectual property, his likeness property, alone. Gary Player was granted seven million dollars from his son's practice. His son was a power mongrel, other adjectives people had given me, but his son forced a lot of downside for Inbounds Inc that I never recuperated from. But his son was in power, trying to control everything that his dad did [NOISE]. The records are all there. I have all that record too. So I've got several phone calls saying am I satisfied. I say, yeah, I'm satisfied the son was taken care of, but it didn't help Inbounds at the time. [OVERLAPPING].
  • [01:22:47] INTERVIEWER: [OVERLAPPING] I just said you have a lot to be proud of. Thank you for all that information. Now we have a couple more questions to go. What advice would you give to the younger generation?
  • [01:23:01] DON SIMONS: I would tell the younger generation to keep connected to people in your peer group that are positive, who appear to be positive, because your roots and the people you grow up with become more important the older you become. I was very glad to have Joetta and Joyce service the Washtenaw County Afro-American Museum. They have quite a history here in Ann Arbor. Joetta, I thank you. I feel proud to be close to you because of the connection, with the support you gave me, working with my kids while you were a principal, and the connection I had with your husband, Harry.
  • [01:23:54] INTERVIEWER: Well, thank you for that. You've answered part of the last question about, how do you personally feel about doing this interview and its impact on you?
  • [01:24:11] DON SIMONS: Well, I'm pleased that you are doing this. I look forward to viewing it and I look forward to what photos that Joyce will pull up that I can share that can be attached to this interview or as part of it. It takes quite a bit of energy for you guys to do this, to have the patience to ask the questions and listen to the answers. My hat's off to you. But I think I'd run out of patience because my years of work were close to 87,000 hours between Maxey and Boysville. I worked approximately 87,000 hours. In my Inbounds program I probably put in 15,000-20,000 hours. So I'm emotionally and physically exhausted. I don't have the patience [LAUGHTER] to do a lot of things now, and people recognize it. They say, yeah, I ran out of patience quite a while ago. But I was very pleased, the patience you have to hear my answers and for you to conduct this interview.
  • [01:25:22] INTERVIEWER: Thank you so very much for sharing your story. We all look forward to seeing it on our exhibition. Thank you.
  • [01:25:35] DON SIMONS: I'll talk to you more about this after recording is over. Well, thank you. I thank you. I don't think I left anything out. [LAUGHTER] We always leave something out. We don't have enough time to tell everything. Can I do this one thing?
  • [01:25:48] INTERVIEWER: What?
  • [01:25:49] DON SIMONS: Can you see this?
  • [01:25:51] INTERVIEWER: Yes. [OVERLAPPING]
  • [01:25:55] DON SIMONS: That's one of my favorite photos of my wife, my son, and my two daughters.
  • [01:26:02] INTERVIEWER: Beautiful.
  • [01:26:06] DON SIMONS: I wanted to show that. That's when I had hair.
  • [01:26:09] INTERVIEWER: Okay. [LAUGHTER].
  • [01:26:22] DON SIMONS: If you don't mind, I'll see if this will show up. That's me, my daughters, and my grandkids about four years ago.
  • [01:26:32] INTERVIEWER: Very nice.
  • [01:26:34] DON SIMONS: I thought I'd slide those in.
  • [01:26:34] INTERVIEWER: Okay.
  • [01:26:36] DON SIMONS: The last one is this.
  • [01:26:42] INTERVIEWER: Bring it down. There.
  • [01:26:55] DON SIMONS: That one's not showing up very well. Anyhow, that was the grandkids about four or five years ago.
  • [01:27:00] INTERVIEWER: I know. [OVERLAPPING]
  • [01:27:03] DON SIMONS: I won't throw any more pictures up there, but thank you for the time and thank you for asking about the fund that I have set up for Huron High. I would actually like to send that fund up to all the high schools in Ann Arbor once it gets coordinated better. All the schools could apply for help to pay to play sports under the Don E. Simons Fund.
  • [01:27:31] INTERVIEWER: Well, I'm sure we can find somebody at central office to allow you to do that. You can certainly inquire. We'll look into that. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you very much.
  • [01:27:45] DON SIMONS: Thank you both, Joyce and everybody, and Matt. Thank you, Matt.
  • [01:27:49] INTERVIEWER: Thank you, Don. That concludes the interview.