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Legacies Project Oral History: Louise Adams

Thu, 01/16/2020 - 9:09am

When: 2020

Louise Adams was born in 1928 and grew up in Ecorse, Michigan. She was the first Black student to graduate second highest in her class at Ecorse High School in 1946. She studied art education at Wayne State University and taught in public schools from 1951 until her retirement in 1983. She married Chuck Adams in 1951 and they had two children, Marcus Adams and Sylvia Adams Burns. They lived in Detroit and then Inskter, where the family built their own home. Louise Adams passed away on June 12, 2014.

Louise Adams was interviewed by students from Skyline High School in Ann Arbor in 2010 as part of the Legacies Project.

Transcript

  • [00:00:10.59] LOUISE ADAMS: Louise Adams. That's L-O-U-I-S-E, A-D-A-M-S.
  • [00:00:17.73] SPEAKER 1: What's your birthdate, including the year?
  • [00:00:21.42] LOUISE ADAMS: 2-15-28.
  • [00:00:24.14] SPEAKER 1: How would you describe your ethnic background?
  • [00:00:27.89] LOUISE ADAMS: I didn't hear the--
  • [00:00:28.76] SPEAKER 1: How would you describe your ethnic background?
  • [00:00:32.88] LOUISE ADAMS: I'm African-American.
  • [00:00:34.88] SPEAKER 1: What is your religion, if any?
  • [00:00:38.01] LOUISE ADAMS: I don't hear you very--
  • [00:00:39.45] SPEAKER 1: What is your religion?
  • [00:00:40.92] LOUISE ADAMS: I'm Episcopalian.
  • [00:00:42.00] SPEAKER 1: What is the highest level of formal education you have completed?
  • [00:00:47.78] LOUISE ADAMS: A master's degree.
  • [00:00:49.27] SPEAKER 1: Did you attend any additional schools or formal career training background?
  • [00:00:55.38] LOUISE ADAMS: It's your voice that I don't hear. It's the softest voice. I can't [INAUDIBLE].
  • [00:01:01.30] SPEAKER 1: [INAUDIBLE]. Did you take any additional school or formal career training background?
  • [00:01:07.46] LOUISE ADAMS: No. I take that back. I had a few [AUDIO OUT], but I decided I didn't need any more time in school.
  • [00:01:18.67] SPEAKER 1: What is your marital status?
  • [00:01:20.40] LOUISE ADAMS: I'm a widow.
  • [00:01:22.32] SPEAKER 1: How many children do you have?
  • [00:01:24.19] LOUISE ADAMS: Two.
  • [00:01:25.47] SPEAKER 1: How many siblings do you have?
  • [00:01:28.63] LOUISE ADAMS: I have three living siblings.
  • [00:01:35.35] SPEAKER 1: What is your primary occupation?
  • [00:01:37.86] LOUISE ADAMS: I'm retired.
  • [00:01:39.14] SPEAKER 1: What age did you retire?
  • [00:01:41.82] LOUISE ADAMS: Let me see. That was in 19-- that was in '83. I would have to get a pencil and a piece of paper to figure that one out.
  • [00:01:59.86] SPEAKER 1: Now we can begin the first part of the interview. Beginning with some of the things you can recall about your family history, we will start the family naming history. By this, we mean any story about your last or family name or family traditions you choose for the first or middle name. Do you know any stories about your family name?
  • [00:02:20.43] LOUISE ADAMS: Not really. We have been doing some research. I have a grand-niece, who's been doing some research, but I haven't thought about it again since Chuck died.
  • [00:02:36.00] SPEAKER 1: Are there any naming traditions in your family?
  • [00:02:40.21] LOUISE ADAMS: Any?
  • [00:02:41.74] SPEAKER 1: Naming traditions.
  • [00:02:45.02] LOUISE ADAMS: Naming traditions. No.
  • [00:02:51.04] SPEAKER 1: Why did your ancestors leave to come to this-- come to the United States?
  • [00:02:59.83] LOUISE ADAMS: I think they came over on a ship. I didn't think they wanted to come.
  • [00:03:04.74] SPEAKER 1: Do you know any stories about how your family first came to the United States?
  • [00:03:09.59] LOUISE ADAMS: No.
  • [00:03:10.56] SPEAKER 1: And where did they first settle?
  • [00:03:15.41] LOUISE ADAMS: They first settled, according to our DNA tests, somewhere in the-- Cuba, in Mexico, and in the southern states. I can't-- I can't remember right now.
  • [00:03:40.88] SPEAKER 1: How did they make a living, either in the old country or the United States?
  • [00:03:45.07] LOUISE ADAMS: I have no idea. In the United States, we-- my parents lived on a farm.
  • [00:03:54.74] SPEAKER 1: Describe [INAUDIBLE]. Once they arrived to the United States and how they came to live in this area.
  • [00:04:09.00] LOUISE ADAMS: I can't remember who got here first, but they came from Georgia, here. Other family members, as we got settled here, [INAUDIBLE], others came, and then they got work in Ford Motor Company. Ford Motor Company hired lots of people from the South. So that's how we all--
  • [00:04:35.90] SPEAKER 1: What belongings did they bring with them, and why?
  • [00:04:42.78] LOUISE ADAMS: I don't remember them speaking specifically of bringing any particular belongings, other than the usual clothing and that kind of thing.
  • [00:04:56.09] SPEAKER 1: [INAUDIBLE] first came along [INAUDIBLE]?
  • [00:05:01.52] LOUISE ADAMS: Well, quite a few came along, and there were still many of them in the South. In fact, we would go down for-- well, not go down, but we would have family reunions, and we would encounter those who stayed in the South but moved to a different area in the South.
  • [00:05:20.92] SPEAKER 1: Do you know if-- did they try to observe or any traditions or customs from their country of origin?
  • [00:05:27.74] LOUISE ADAMS: I can't think of any.
  • [00:05:29.17] SPEAKER 1: Are there any traditions that your family has given up or changed?
  • [00:05:34.77] LOUISE ADAMS: Traditions. The only traditions we used to have was gathering for special days, for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Now we generally stay pretty close. Nobody feels like going anyplace, just staying around our own homes.
  • [00:06:02.32] SPEAKER 1: What stories have came down to you about your parents and grandparents?
  • [00:06:07.69] SPEAKER 2: [INAUDIBLE]. I'm sorry, [INAUDIBLE]. Sorry.
  • [00:06:18.93] LOUISE ADAMS: I can't offhand remember any specific stories. I remember one story about my father's mother. Now I remember her. The-- she was really an Indian from Georgia. And my father's father, he actually looked African. my grandmother did not. He did. That's all I remember off hand.
  • [00:07:01.85] SPEAKER 1: How about any more distant ancestors?
  • [00:07:05.12] LOUISE ADAMS: How may what?
  • [00:07:06.49] SPEAKER 1: Distant ancestors.
  • [00:07:07.87] LOUISE ADAMS: How many distant ancestors?
  • [00:07:14.89] SPEAKER 2: [INAUDIBLE] stories about some ancestors, [INAUDIBLE].
  • [00:07:21.65] LOUISE ADAMS: I can't thin of any distant ancestors. Any?
  • [00:07:33.30] SPEAKER 1: Courtship stories.
  • [00:07:34.97] LOUISE ADAMS: Courtship stories. [LAUGHS]
  • [00:07:43.88] No.
  • [00:07:45.38] SPEAKER 1: How did your parents and grandparents [INAUDIBLE]?
  • [00:07:53.69] LOUISE ADAMS: You know, it never even occurred to me. By the time I came along, they were already married. It didn't occur to me how they got together to get married.
  • [00:08:13.28] SPEAKER 1: [INAUDIBLE] bodies of water, such as oceans, lakes, rivers, and streams. [INAUDIBLE] I'm going to be asking these questions about [INAUDIBLE] water [INAUDIBLE]. Since right now, we're talking about your family history, I will ask you about what you know about how any of your family or ancestors [INAUDIBLE]. Did your parents or grandparents or anyone in your family history [INAUDIBLE] on water?
  • [00:08:50.77] LOUISE ADAMS: No.
  • [00:08:52.13] SPEAKER 1: More distant ancestors?
  • [00:08:55.59] LOUISE ADAMS: Not to my knowledge.
  • [00:08:58.16] SPEAKER 1: Did anyone in your family history [INAUDIBLE].
  • [00:09:03.06] LOUISE ADAMS: [INAUDIBLE].
  • [00:09:06.05] SPEAKER 1: Did anyone [INAUDIBLE]?
  • [00:09:12.53] LOUISE ADAMS: No.
  • [00:09:15.02] SPEAKER 1: [INAUDIBLE] questions about your family history. Thank you.
  • [00:09:20.49] LOUISE ADAMS: Thank you.
  • [00:09:26.47] SPEAKER 1: As part of [INAUDIBLE].
  • [00:09:45.45] LOUISE ADAMS: I grew up in Ecorse, Michigan. I was born in River Rouge, but we moved from River Rouge to Ecorse, which are neighboring cities. I guess I was a baby when we moved from River Rouge to Ecorse.
  • [00:10:05.78] SPEAKER 1: How did your family come to live there?
  • [00:10:12.52] LOUISE ADAMS: Well, we were able to-- my parents were able to-- my father was able to rent a house. We rented a house. We did not own the house, so we rented. This house was a rented house.
  • [00:10:29.26] SPEAKER 1: [INAUDIBLE]. What was your house like?
  • [00:10:36.37] LOUISE ADAMS: The house I grew up in as a little girl? It was a very small house. It didn't seem like a small house at first, but as I grew older, I realized, my god, this is a little house. And periodically, even today, we go back down the street where we used to live when I was a child. I don't know how we all fit into that little teeny tiny house.
  • [00:11:07.23] SPEAKER 1: How many people lived in the house with you when you were growing up, and what was the relationship to you?
  • [00:11:13.06] LOUISE ADAMS: When we lived in that house, there were-- I had four brothers, two sisters, a grandmother, of course, my mother and father, and a cousin. There were three little bedrooms. There was a daybed in the living room and in the dining room that folded down and out and up. There must have been three or four of us sleeping in one little bed. I can't remember. But I know we were jammed in there. It didn't seem that way when we were growing up, though.
  • [00:11:55.83] SPEAKER 1: What language was spoken in or around your household?
  • [00:11:59.22] LOUISE ADAMS: Just English.
  • [00:12:00.99] SPEAKER 1: Were different languages spoken in different settings, such as home, in the neighborhood or in local stores?
  • [00:12:09.87] LOUISE ADAMS: The only other language that was spoken in our neighborhood was Italian. There was a neighborhood grocery store, Joe Roth. I think his name was Rossini or something like that. But [INAUDIBLE] named called Joe Roth. He spoke Italian. I think that was what he was speaking. But that was-- that was all.
  • [00:12:34.32] SPEAKER 1: What was your family like when you were a child?
  • [00:12:37.15] LOUISE ADAMS: When I was a square?
  • [00:12:37.92] SPEAKER 1: A child?
  • [00:12:40.79] LOUISE ADAMS: It was pretty. We had gardens. Everybody participated in shelling peas, snapping string beans, that kind of thing. We all could-- had to do that kind of thing, even the youngest one. We would sit on our steps, and we would have pans that we would shell our peas, and then after we did that, we could leave, play in the neighborhood.
  • [00:13:14.90] SPEAKER 2: [INAUDIBLE].
  • [00:13:18.82] LOUISE ADAMS: Oh, well, when I say play in the neighborhood, the streets weren't even paved then. You were up and down this street. You were free. It was a good thing as a child, as I recall.
  • [00:13:36.93] SPEAKER 1: What sort of work did your father and mother do?
  • [00:13:40.28] LOUISE ADAMS: My mother was a housewife. When I started college, I think it was, she did some day work. My father worked at [INAUDIBLE]. And he worked planting, too. Everybody at that time planted, and we had chickens. And I remember every spring, we gathered pig. In the fall was hog killing time.
  • [00:14:18.32] And that was the result of having grown up in the South. My parents were Southerners, and they smoked the meat. [INAUDIBLE]. We kids didn't like it. We only liked certain parts of the meat, and it got to the point where my parents realized it wasn't worth all of that just for a pig.
  • [00:14:44.83] And my mother canned. We even dried some of the produce, like dried beans, dried peas. And my mother canned so that when the winter came, we had our canned goods, so that no matter what, you had food that you could eat during the winter.
  • [00:15:06.91] SPEAKER 1: What is your earliest memory?
  • [00:15:09.75] LOUISE ADAMS: My earliest memory of my childhood-- I was five years old. I got hit by a car. My parents were visiting friends in Detroit. I think it was on McGraw. I'm not quite sure right now. And my second oldest brother had me. And I [INAUDIBLE]. Clear path across the street, and I jerked away from him and ran in the street, got hit by a car. This lady was going [INAUDIBLE]. Jaw was cut along. And the thing I remember was seeing my parents cry. That was the thing that was frightening.
  • [00:16:00.98] And my dad [AUDIO OUT] going to the hospital. I remember my daddy [AUDIO OUT] both of them [AUDIO OUT]. And they said, [INAUDIBLE]. I finally remembered being ill. I can't remember what hospital I went in, because we were in Detroit. But I remember eventually-- I didn't know how I got there. We went to [AUDIO OUT] County Hospital, Herman-- not Herman [? Kieber. ?] [INAUDIBLE] Michigan Avenue, and eventually coming home, and my dad making a little crutch for me. [AUDIO OUT] like a child's crutch. He was very handy. He could do a lot of things. And I remember that crutch. Sometimes I remember not using the crutch and just [AUDIO OUT] until somebody said, get your crutch. That I remember.
  • [00:17:17.75] SPEAKER 1: [INAUDIBLE]?
  • [00:17:22.53] LOUISE ADAMS: When I was a-- [AUDIO OUT] I can't think of anything in particular, other than what I just remembered saying that we need to do the chores before we could get out and play.
  • [00:17:48.29] SPEAKER 1: [INAUDIBLE].
  • [00:17:50.76] LOUISE ADAMS: Play? Played jump rope, hopscotch, jacks. Do you play jacks?
  • [00:18:05.62] SPEAKER 1: I've played before.
  • [00:18:07.42] LOUISE ADAMS: Pardon me?
  • [00:18:08.28] SPEAKER 1: I've played before.
  • [00:18:09.24] LOUISE ADAMS: Oh, OK. I just happened to think about it. Do kids play jacks anymore?
  • [00:18:16.26] SPEAKER 1: Were there any special dates [INAUDIBLE] family traditions you remember? Did you play with toys? If so, who made them?
  • [00:18:37.94] LOUISE ADAMS: Well, at Christmas time, everybody got a toy-- maybe two toys.
  • [00:18:45.33] [AUDIO OUT]
  • [00:18:47.77] Everybody got--
  • [00:18:49.24] [AUDIO OUT]
  • [00:18:51.69] --an orange. Oranges were rare treats when I was coming along. You got your [AUDIO OUT]. You had your toys. And you had your candy.
  • [00:19:01.97] [AUDIO OUT]
  • [00:19:02.35] You had that orange.
  • [00:19:03.65] [AUDIO OUT]
  • [00:19:04.63] And my older brothers would scatter candy--
  • [00:19:08.17] [AUDIO OUT]
  • [00:19:09.13] --outside. Andy they would pretend that Santa Claus had dropped and lost candy. And we would go out.
  • [00:19:15.58] [AUDIO OUT]
  • [00:19:16.06] And we would actually find this candy that they had scattered around. It was really fun.
  • [00:19:21.70] [AUDIO OUT]
  • [00:19:22.34] It was more fun looking for the candy that--
  • [00:19:24.68] [AUDIO OUT]
  • [00:19:25.08] --quote, "Santa Clause" had dropped--
  • [00:19:27.38] [AUDIO OUT]
  • [00:19:28.25] --than the candy that we'd already had.
  • [00:19:30.76] [AUDIO OUT]
  • [00:19:37.06] Let's see-- you mean, other than jacks and-- oh, we always had games like Chinese checkers, dominoes-- let's see-- bingo. Those are the games we played in the winter. We always had those games. And everybody played. And when we had company-- I remember, sometimes we would have company over. And my dad would get his wine and his Brandy.
  • [00:20:17.43] He made brandy. My mother canned peaches. And from the skins of the peaches, he made brandy. And we made grape wine. He made elderberry wine. There were elderberry bushes growing not too far from where we lived. And they utilized everything. And I remember that.
  • [00:20:51.12] Oh, and for Christmas, my mother would make every kind of cake imaginable-- fruit cake, coconut cake. And you would actually grate the coconut. We would buy the coconut. And they came with the skin on. And the skin was off. And there was a hard shell. And there were two little places that my dad would puncture to get the coconut juice out.
  • [00:21:27.42] And I remember, we used to grate that coconut. Every kind of cake you can imagine-- and how they kept them wrapped up and preserved really, now that I think about it, is amazing. And I remember, I enjoyed being in the kitchen when my mother was cooking. Because I didn't particularly like, say, some of the cookies. I liked the dough before the cookies were baked.
  • [00:22:04.85] And I remember, every time she made cakes, I wanted some of the batter. And even my daughter likes cake batter now. She's not a dessert eater. But when I'm making a cake, she seems to know exactly when I'm at the stage where she can have some batter.
  • [00:22:33.34] OK, I think I've run off now. I've almost forgotten what question. What was the question?
  • [00:22:38.93] SPEAKER 1: What did you do to play?
  • [00:22:40.35] LOUISE ADAMS: What did I do to play-- OK.
  • [00:22:43.31] [CHUCKLING]
  • [00:22:45.11] And let's see. When I got older and we could leave the neighborhood, there were playgrounds. There was one on 12th Street. We lived on 15th Street. There was a playground on 16th Street, where they had baseball diamonds. And there was a playground on 12th Street. And you could join a league for your age group for baseball.
  • [00:23:20.86] And the big treat in the summertime was when Joe Lewis brought his baseball team to Ecorse. And they played on 16th Street. And it was just a treat. Everybody from that whole surrounding area would come to watch Joe Lewis's baseball team.
  • [00:23:48.67] So there was always something that we could do all summer long. So there was never a dull moment.
  • [00:23:58.74] SPEAKER 1: Did you have a favorite book? If so, where did you get them?
  • [00:24:03.10] LOUISE ADAMS: A favorite book-- let's see. The favorite book I remember right off the bat is Charlotte's Web. There were other books that had to do with brownies. All of a sudden, it just popped in my head. What were those stories about brownies? You know what little brownies are? No?
  • [00:24:30.38] You know what little brownies are? OK. Well, when we get time, we'll try to find some pictures of brownies.
  • [00:24:41.59] SPEAKER 1: Did you have any other entertainment?
  • [00:24:44.59] LOUISE ADAMS: Any other what?
  • [00:24:45.44] SPEAKER 1: Entertainment.
  • [00:24:47.87] LOUISE ADAMS: Well, we went to the show. You could go to the show. There was a show. We lived in Ecorse there was a show in River Rouge. It cost $0.10. You saw a newsreel, a serial-- which meant that you had to go to the show every Saturday to keep up with the serial. And then you had a cartoon. And then you had the regular movie.
  • [00:25:24.35] So you could stay in the movie almost all day on a Saturday. And then of course, on Sunday, you went to Sunday school and you stayed for church.
  • [00:25:37.27] SPEAKER 1: Were there any special days, events, or family traditions you remember from your early childhood?
  • [00:25:44.43] LOUISE ADAMS: Other than those I mentioned where we had family gatherings-- and people went from house to house visiting. And every house had something special to offer. So like I was saying, my dad had wine and brandy to offer. Of course, we kids weren't supposed to drink the wine and the brandy. But I don't ever remember being interested.
  • [00:26:15.35] I remember my youngest brother. He got into draining the empty cups. And I remember, he passed out. And he said, ma, I was poisoned! He fell out on the floor. And that was when she found out that he was going around and any dregs that would be left in cups-- he was drinking it.
  • [00:26:37.16] And every now and then, we remind him, [? Didi, ?] do you remember-- And of course, he did remember. Because every year, we would say, [? Didi, ?] do you remember--
  • [00:26:52.39] SPEAKER 1: Now we're going to ask you questions about your relationship with natural bodies of water or water during your earliest childhood years. What is your earliest memory of a body of water, such as the ocean, lake, or river.
  • [00:27:06.73] LOUISE ADAMS: Oh, when I lived in Ecorse, which is right off from the Detroit River-- I don't remember going there until I was much older. Because there was a library, Ecorse Public Library, that was off Jefferson, not far from the river. And during those times, it was very easy. Everybody walked everywhere.
  • [00:27:38.18] There was no danger. Nobody wanted you but your parents. You weren't worried about anybody snatching you and taking you away. And I remember, we would see the river then. And I remember, my dad used to fish in the river. He would get catfish. I never liked catfish. Catfish are ugly. They have no scales. You have to skin them.
  • [00:28:06.73] And they bring them home and put them in the tub, a tub full of water. And then when they got really to kill them, they would knock them in the head. And then, I didn't eat cat. I still don't eat cat. God, I thought they were ugly. And he would bring back perch. I can't think of anything else.
  • [00:28:37.17] But we were much older before we started to go to the river.
  • [00:28:43.32] SPEAKER 1: Did your family engage in any activities involving water when you were a young child?
  • [00:28:49.54] LOUISE ADAMS: No.
  • [00:28:51.77] SPEAKER 1: Did you engage in activities involving water as a [INAUDIBLE] child?
  • [00:28:56.12] LOUISE ADAMS: No.
  • [00:28:57.60] SPEAKER 1: Could you associate any feelings of water from this time in your life?
  • [00:29:03.52] LOUISE ADAMS: None other than what I was mentioning. I never learned to swim. I didn't want my hair to get messed up.
  • [00:29:15.60] SPEAKER 1: That concludes the section of questions about your early childhood [? years. ?] Thank you. In this part of the interview, we're going to be talking about your [INAUDIBLE], about the age that kids usually start school in the United States and until you begin your professional career or your work life. Did you go to preschool? Where? What did you remember about it?
  • [00:29:42.55] LOUISE ADAMS: No, we didn't have pre-school. We started kindergarten. That was it.
  • [00:29:48.39] SPEAKER 1: Did you go to kindergarten? Where? And what did you remember about it?
  • [00:29:54.89] LOUISE ADAMS: In Ecorse, kindergarten-- there weren't that many kids in kindergarten. But it was at Ecorse high school. They had an area for the kindergartners. And I remember, because my oldest brother was 10 years older than me. And it was his responsibility to get me to kindergarten and back home.
  • [00:30:22.75] SPEAKER 1: Did you go to elementary school? Where? What did you remember about it?
  • [00:30:27.09] LOUISE ADAMS: Well, that was in Ecorse. And that was when I remember of my brother being responsible. And I remember him jerking me around two or three times. Because he would have to pay the price if something happened to me. And he was not about to let me get him in trouble.
  • [00:30:54.17] SPEAKER 1: Did you go to high school? Where? And what do you remember about it?
  • [00:30:58.77] LOUISE ADAMS: I went to high school at Ecorse High School. I graduated second highest from Ecorse High School. I was the first black person ever to graduate second highest from Ecorse High School at that time. That was in 1946. I didn't get a scholarship, but neither did Gertrude Brown.
  • [00:31:23.50] Gertrude Brown was one of my classmates. There weren't that many black kids in Ecorse. But we all went to-- it was not a segregated system. And I remember, we had numbered schools-- school number 1, school number 2, school number 3-- and then the high school.
  • [00:31:52.90] My parents sent us to school number 3. School number 2 was across the railroad tracks. And they didn't think we had sense enough to get across the railroad tracks without getting hit by a train. And that sounds ridiculous, except that that did happen to some kids. They thought the train had passed. They'd gone under the gate. And they waited until the freight train passed and thought it was safe.
  • [00:32:23.96] But then there was a passenger train whipping through. And I remember very well being told this story about those bodies being scooped up and put in baskets. It didn't take much-- now, going to school number 3 was, like, miles and miles away from home. But that's where you went. And since you were accustomed to walking great distances-- parents didn't think anything about sending you miles and miles away from home. Because that was the safest place, they thought.
  • [00:33:00.43] [AUDIO OUT]
  • [00:33:00.91] SPEAKER 2: Oh, excuse me a second. I'm sorry.
  • [00:33:02.33] [AUDIO OUT]
  • [00:33:08.53] I'm sorry. Go ahead.
  • [00:33:12.49] LOUISE ADAMS: And then my art teacher in high school had told me to tell my mother that she thought, since I was such a talented artist, that I should go to Pratt Institute in New York. And my parents never responded to stupid comments or questions. She never stopped doing whatever she was doing.
  • [00:33:39.80] It was stupid, because I'd only been downtown Detroit two or three times. How am I going to survive in New York City? So that was out of the question. So I went to Wayne. And to get to Wayne, I had to walk across-- well, really quite a distance-- to Jefferson to catch the Greyhound suburban bus. And that would take me downtown.
  • [00:34:12.22] And then the streetcar-- there were street cars running then that I could take the rest of the way. Now my girlfriend and I-- she lived right across the street from me. We graduated from high school together. We decided that we were going to save money and that we were going to walk to the streetcar line, which is really in Detroit.
  • [00:34:37.36] So that meant that-- we lived on 9th Street-- 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18. And then begins Detroit-- South [? Electric, ?] South Beatrice, South Basset-- to walk to catch-- I think it cost $0.06 and the transfer-- something like that. On the way home, we would do the same thing.
  • [00:35:07.31] By the time we got home, we were so tired. The money that we had saved was just a waste. We would stop by the drugstore on 12th Street to get a soda or a couple of dips of ice cream, which really we hadn't saved anything. But that's how we got back and forth. That was high school to college, OK?
  • [00:35:38.70] SPEAKER 2: [INAUDIBLE] I was wondering if-- she started talking about something [INAUDIBLE].
  • [00:35:44.18] SPEAKER 3: [INAUDIBLE].
  • [00:35:47.17] [? Oh, after ?] high school-- Q86.
  • [00:35:52.64] SPEAKER 1: Did you go to school or career training beyond high school? Where? What did you remember about it.
  • [00:36:00.61] LOUISE ADAMS: Well, I was at Wayne State University. And I started out majoring in art education. But that didn't mean that that's all I took. You had a course. You had to take so much science. You had to take so much this, that, or the other. And since I had some science classes-- I'm trying to think. What did I take?
  • [00:36:29.00] I didn't want biology. I hated biology. I couldn't stand cutting on anything. I couldn't stand the blood and that kind of thing. So I did I took-- what did I take for my science classes? It might dawn on me. Well, actually, I did very well down at Wayne.
  • [00:36:57.63] I didn't start off doing very well. Because I realized that, the first semester-- and we had semesters. A semester started in September and ended in January, I think. And then you started the next semester. But anyway, by the time I realized that my instructors did not know one another-- that I had to really get down to work-- because a transfer from high school subjects to college subjects was a world of difference.
  • [00:37:41.82] And I got down to it. And I ended up getting-- oh, let's see. I got some kind of scholar award, achievement award. And that was at graduation time. It was at the Rackham Building. I don't know if the Rackham Building is still downtown or not. But they had those ceremonies at the Rackham Building.
  • [00:38:12.54] And I remember, when we were having graduation, you didn't get a certificate then. All they had was a rolled up piece of paper with a ribbon on. And then you turned those in and then you got your diploma. And I worked at Wayne and in the Records Office-- had a great time in the Records Office. That was when it was in Old Main.
  • [00:38:42.96] And that's where it was-- in Old Maine. And checking records, looking on transcripts, checking on other people's transcripts, nosing around-- a-hah!-- thought she was so smart. But anyway, We through with college? Oh, and I had to do student teaching. That-- in art education. We had far more-- oh, we went to several experiences.
  • [00:39:28.24] And then that last experience, we spent the entire day at one school. I think that's what we did. Hm-- well, anyway.
  • [00:39:45.07] SPEAKER 1: Please describe the popular music during your school years.
  • [00:39:48.25] LOUISE ADAMS: Popular music?
  • [00:39:52.67] SPEAKER 3: Should I get [INAUDIBLE]? [? Q57? ?]
  • [00:40:00.02] SPEAKER 1: Did you play any sports or join any other activities outside of school?
  • [00:40:04.94] LOUISE ADAMS: Well, I played baseball. And I ran track. I was very good athletically-- very good. Volleyball, badminton-- I'm trying to think of the music. What kind of music did we listen to? Blues, jazz-- that kind of music.
  • [00:40:44.77] SPEAKER 1: What about your school experience is different from school as you know it today?
  • [00:40:50.48] LOUISE ADAMS: I didn't get that last part.
  • [00:40:52.39] SPEAKER 1: What about your school experience is different from school as you know it today?
  • [00:40:56.81] LOUISE ADAMS: I don't know what it is today. I'll have to ask you. What is it today? I retired in 1983. I don't know what it's like today.
  • [00:41:09.25] SPEAKER 4: Me neither.
  • [00:41:11.03] LOUISE ADAMS: Pardon me?
  • [00:41:12.06] SPEAKER 4: Me neither.
  • [00:41:13.97] LOUISE ADAMS: You know, I keep hearing that. And I hear it from people who are in education. I bumped into some of the groups-- was that yesterday? And they were telling me how different it was. And they're laying off teachers. And Detroit's system is in shambles.
  • [00:41:42.76] Well, believe me. It was not in shambles back then. And of course, you had a strong, strong union. But we were rated. When I first started out teaching, there was a supervisor who came and supervised. And before I got my permanent certificate, I had to do 10 extra hours of outside study. And to get my certification, my supervisor had to approve.
  • [00:42:20.80] You did not just come into the system and not do what you were supposed to do. And your lesson plans had to be written for a whole week, not day-by-day. And later on, I became a supervising teacher. I did not want to be a supervising teacher. But my principal said to me and two or three others, you have too much to offer and not share what you have.
  • [00:42:54.79] And then after a while, I got used to it. But supervising teachers-- but as a teacher, when I walked into the classroom, I didn't have to say anything. I just stood in front of the board. And eventually, somebody would say, sh-sh-sh-sh. (WHISPERING) There's a teacher. There's a teacher.
  • [00:43:17.19] (SPEAKING ALOUD) And they got quiet. I understand, now, they don't do that kind of thing-- nobody pays at-- uh-uh-uh.
  • [00:43:27.42] SPEAKER 1: Did the music have any special dances associated with it?
  • [00:43:32.15] LOUISE ADAMS: Special dances? Oh, when in high school, we learned how to do polka, foxtrot. It was a lot of fun. We had a lot of fun doing that kind of thing. And then, of course, everybody-- what was called Jitterbug. I don't know what-- you have heard of that? The Jitterbug? OK, that's what we did.
  • [00:43:55.19] SPEAKER 1: What were the popular clothing or dress styles of this time?
  • [00:44:00.59] LOUISE ADAMS: Popular clothing-- we girls didn't wear pants. I can tell you that. Teachers didn't wear pants. I think, we started wearing-- we were introduced to pants-- I'm trying to think. I can't remember what school. But it was a long time before teachers wore pants.
  • [00:44:24.84] You wore teacher clothes. You were not a casual look about you. A teacher had to look a certain way.
  • [00:44:40.20] SPEAKER 1: Can you describe to me other fads or styles of the era?
  • [00:44:45.64] LOUISE ADAMS: Let's see. I don't even think kids wore blue jeans. I don't think boys wore blue je-- I was just-- you got my mind going there, thinking about-- god, what did we wear? I can't think of anything else.
  • [00:45:06.53] SPEAKER 1: Were there any slang terms, phrases, or words used then that aren't in common use today?
  • [00:45:19.43] LOUISE ADAMS: I'm sure we had some. I can't think of anything right now. On the way into the museum, we were listening to a radio station. And it was Steve Harvey and the Morning Show. And they we're asking the students. And they said, how you doing? And they said, I'm good. I mean, what does that mean-- I'm good?
  • [00:45:44.19] That's what teenagers say nowadays. My grandson said, I'm good. How you doing? I'm good. I'm good. I can't think of what we said. I know we said something.
  • [00:45:59.62] SPEAKER 1: What was the typical day like for you in this time period?
  • [00:46:06.03] LOUISE ADAMS: Which? When I was in college? When I got out of college?
  • [00:46:10.47] SPEAKER 1: [INAUDIBLE]
  • [00:46:11.14] SPEAKER 3: Your school years.
  • [00:46:12.36] LOUISE ADAMS: My school years? Oh, let me see. Are you talking about my high school Years? or college years?
  • [00:46:19.89] SPEAKER 3: Both.
  • [00:46:20.84] LOUISE ADAMS: College?
  • [00:46:21.29] SPEAKER 3: Both.
  • [00:46:22.07] LOUISE ADAMS: Both. high school years-- well, I was a good student. I did my homework. Nobody had to tell me to do my homework. I remember one day, though-- and we didn't have a cafeteria. You either-- those who lived too far away brought their lunch in a paper bag. Most of us just walked home for lunch time and then walked back for the afternoon.
  • [00:46:53.23] And I remember one incident. My girlfriend and I were going back. And we decided that we were going-- because Ecorse High School is not far from Jefferson-- that we were going to skip school. And we walked-- all the kids coming back. And we're going to the opposite direction. We decided we would go downtown-- Greyhound suburban.
  • [00:47:17.92] And by the time we got down there, we had just enough time to go to Sanders. Sanders used to have an ice-cream parlor, downtown Detroit. We got downtown. And we bumped into my girlfriend's brother-in-law, Wade H. McCree. He was an attorney then. He became a judge.
  • [00:47:48.82] But Wade saw us. And we couldn't dodge or duck. I mean-- shh. He tipped his hat. And he said, how do you do? And we said, how do you do? What do you mean, how do you do? It's us! And he kept walking. And we laughed and laughed and laughed.
  • [00:48:10.20] We went on to Sanders, got our ice-cream, went back to the bus stop-- only just time enough to get back home so that we weren't missed. Now that was one thing I remember. And we would laugh about that. We thought, maybe, Wade was going to tell on us. But he didn't. He didn't tell that he saw us downtown and that we skipped school.
  • [00:48:35.86] It wasn't any fun skipping school. We couldn't figure out why anybody wanted to skip school. There was more fun in school than skipping school. He's shaking his head. Oh, he's giving himself away. OK, now tell me your mother's number, so I can give her a call.
  • [00:48:55.63] [LAUGHTER]
  • [00:48:56.09] SPEAKER 5: Not me. I [INAUDIBLE] to school. I'm fine, thanks.
  • [00:49:00.18] LOUISE ADAMS: OK.
  • [00:49:01.20] SPEAKER 1: What did you do for fun?
  • [00:49:04.89] LOUISE ADAMS: Let's see. I remember one thing. Now, this was fun. We were in Miss Elliot's class. Miss Elliot was one of our-- I think, she taught history. And I had a cousin in that class. Miss Elliot would give a test. And I remember one, of my cousins, he had opened his book. And he had his foot underneath, so that-- it was one of these tests-- you got the test. And she would leave the room.
  • [00:49:48.30] I guess, it was time enough for someone to say, what'd you get for number 2? What'd you get for number 3? What-- so far and so on. And I remember, Gene was such a slow writer. And he had his book open. And by the time Miss Elliot walked back in the room, he had gotten so excited he kicked the book up in the. And Miss Elliot said, didn't give you enough time, huh?
  • [00:50:16.08] That's why I say, it was so much fun in school. That was one of the things I remember in school.
  • [00:50:25.81] SPEAKER 1: Were there any special days, events, or family traditions you remember from this time?
  • [00:50:31.20] LOUISE ADAMS: Special days and events-- we had-- in the summer, just before school started, there would be field day for all of the recreation departments all over Ecorse. And there would be track meets and all kinds of things like that. And you got medals-- ribbons. That I remember. That was the end of summer.
  • [00:51:08.88] It's time now to go back to school. Other than that-- and Ecorse had a good baseball-- wait a minute-- yeah, baseball. One of my brothers played baseball. Ecorse also had a rowing team, because we were right there at the river. There weren't any Black kids on the rowing team.
  • [00:51:36.60] I don't think anybody wanted to be on the rowing team. But they had their-- I'm trying to think-- the boathouse was not far from Wyandotte-- and a good football team. And we had a stadium. And we would have-- Ecorse played River Rouge, Wyandotte-- teams close by. So we had plenty of things to do.
  • [00:52:22.77] And we even had lights. We had some night games. They turned the lights on. Ecorse was a pretty wealthy little city.
  • [00:52:32.00] SPEAKER 1: Did your family have any special sayings or expressions during this time?
  • [00:52:38.74] LOUISE ADAMS: Special what?
  • [00:52:39.47] SPEAKER 1: Sayings or expressions?
  • [00:52:43.34] LOUISE ADAMS: No. Ask me again tomorrow.
  • [00:52:51.04] SPEAKER 1: Were there any changes in your life during your school years?
  • [00:52:54.74] LOUISE ADAMS: Any changes? Oh, OK-- yeah. We moved from 15th Street. My mother and father had saved up enough money to buy a house. We moved from 15th Street to 9th Street. And that's where my girlfriend that-- right across the street. Mildred lived right across the street. And we walked back and forth to school together.
  • [00:53:24.06] And there was a Polish family that lived right across the street from us. And they made kielbasa. It was delicious. And on the other side of the track, there was a Romanian family. And they had a grocery store. On the way to catch the Greyhound suburban, we would stop by there and get something.
  • [00:53:55.66] That was something that was different. We bought our own house. I can't remember exactly how old I was when they bought the house. And we had a basement. Because when we were renting the house, that area-- nobody had a basement. There was a small upstairs.
  • [00:54:22.44] And when my cousins lived upstairs-- that's one big change. We ended up having our own house.
  • [00:54:39.60] SPEAKER 1: Were there any special days, events, or family traditions you remember from this time?
  • [00:54:44.41] LOUISE ADAMS: That was real fast. What was it?
  • [00:54:45.88] SPEAKER 1: Were there any special days, events, or family traditions you remember from this time?
  • [00:54:52.07] LOUISE ADAMS: Let me see. Other than the end of the year meets and competitions between the different play areas, no. Championship games at our stadium-- even my dad used to go down too watch-- because my younger brother, he was a good track star. And he would go down. And he would watch-- my brother's name is really Ulysses. But I have no idea how he got to be called Didi.
  • [00:55:39.17] All black guys had nicknames. Did you know that? They still do.
  • [00:55:46.30] SPEAKER 1: Which holidays did your family celebrate? How were holidays traditionally celebrated in your family? Has your family created its own [INAUDIBLE] and celebrations?
  • [00:55:56.70] LOUISE ADAMS: We celebrated Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter Sunday. That was about it-- oh, July 4th, May 30th. I think that was it. Sunday school had church picnics. And we went to Elizabeth Park. We went to Elizabeth Park, which is way down in Trenton area.
  • [00:56:33.96] And the kids went on. Our parents would fix us a paper bag lunch and gave us-- oh, I don't know-- a dime or something like that. And we would ride a truck. We would all be in the back of a truck. It was a lot of fun. Later on, our parents would come up. And they would bring the fried chicken, the potato salad, the watermelon, the ice-cream that was already frozen-- homemade ice-cream.
  • [00:57:05.31] And then we'd spend the rest of the day just out in the park. There really wasn't that much to do out there. But there was the river. And they had swings and slides, like that. By the time my parents got out there and it was time to eat, really, we kids were ready to come home then. We were tired of the whole thing.
  • [00:57:26.53] SPEAKER 1: What special food traditions did your family have? Were there any recipes preserved or passed down in your family from generation-to-generation? Are there family stories connected to any special foods?
  • [00:57:40.45] LOUISE ADAMS: Well, one recipe is fried pies. We would have dried peaches. In fact, you can buy them now-- dried peaches, dried apples. And they were cooked down in butter and spices and lots of sugar. And my mother would make the dough and put just a little bit in, like, turnovers, and seal them and fry them. I do it now, except that I have to use biscuit dough.
  • [00:58:14.94] By the time I got ready did do it myself and I asked my mother the recipe, she said that she had lost her hand. In other words, I don't remember. Any time they said, I have lost my hand, that meant that they didn't remember how to do it. My hands don't tell me nothin'. So anyway, she said, just use biscuit dough.
  • [00:58:36.87] And that's what I use, because she couldn't remember the recipe. And I do it now. And I fry for-- oh-- if somebody has had a death at the church, I fry. And people are very happy. They get homemade fried pies. And I make a good cake, too. I'm a good cook. My mother was a good cook.
  • [00:59:03.91] SPEAKER 1: Looking back on your school years, what important social or historical events were taking place at the time? And how did they personally affect you and your family?
  • [00:59:21.27] LOUISE ADAMS: Can't think of them. Let's hang onto that one until-- what?-- tomorrow?
  • [00:59:30.90] SPEAKER 3: The Great Depression or--
  • [00:59:33.23] LOUISE ADAMS: Depression?
  • [00:59:34.01] SPEAKER 3: The Great Depression--
  • [00:59:35.13] LOUISE ADAMS: You know, as I was saying, our folks canned. They dried. We even had field corn, where my dad-- it was dried. The corn would dry. And they would bring them out. There was a mill where the corn was ground into cornmeal.
  • [01:00:00.96] In fact, when I got go Wayne and had-- what was it?-- Sociology 101, I could hardly wait to get home to tell my mother-- [EXASPERATED SIGH]-- do you know, we are poor? But as I said, my mother and father didn't respond to stupid. I don't know anything-- I didn't know-- you know, you were in the Depression. But what little money you had, you bought the essentials.
  • [01:00:34.71] And my mother sold. So you could get a yard of material for $0.15 a yard, just like you could go to a movie for a dime. So she would make our clothes for us. And my brothers-- she would make pants for them. It wasn't until they got much older that they didn't want homemade stuff.
  • [01:01:04.59] But it didn't matter whether you wanted did or not then. That's what you wore. And like I said, we didn't know-- what did we know about the Depression? They didn't talk that kind of talk. We didn't hear that kind of-- oh, poor-- I'm poor-- and none of that. Like I said, I didn't know we were poor until I took the course down at Wayne State University.
  • [01:01:38.00] You know, you'd just hear that kind of stuff-- hey, have you been hungering? No. Are you ragged? No. You had school clothes. And you had Sunday clothes. You had school shoes and Sunday shoes. So you were not really poor. So you weren't hit by, quote, "The Depression."
  • [01:02:02.85] SPEAKER 1: Now I'm going to ask you questions about your relationship with natural bodies of water when you were a child, during the years often associated with [INAUDIBLE] to school in America?
  • [01:02:17.81] LOUISE ADAMS: I didn't hear that.
  • [01:02:27.55] SPEAKER 5: Now I'm going to ask you questions about your relationship with natural bodies of water when you were a child, during your [INAUDIBLE]--
  • [01:02:33.98] LOUISE ADAMS: Oh, that's too fast. My relationship with what?
  • [01:02:38.19] SPEAKER 5: Natural bodies of water, when you were a child, during the years often associated with going to school in America.
  • [01:02:48.38] LOUISE ADAMS: I didn't have any association with water, except where I lived at that time, in Ecorse, which is on the banks of the Detroit River. That's in the downriver area. We didn't go near the water.
  • [01:03:07.35] SPEAKER 5: OK.
  • [01:03:08.65] LOUISE ADAMS: We were told you could drown in the water. And I didn't learn to swim.
  • [01:03:18.38] SPEAKER 5: These are questions that will cover every [INAUDIBLE] of your life, from the time you completed your education, entered the labor force, or started a family [INAUDIBLE] or your response is [INAUDIBLE]. Or we might be talking [? about the ?] stretches of time spent as [INAUDIBLE].
  • [01:03:44.95] LOUISE ADAMS: I still don't know what the question is.
  • [01:03:51.23] SPEAKER 5: From the time you completed your education, entered the labor force, or started a family until all your [INAUDIBLE] your response [INAUDIBLE]. So we might be talking about stretches of time spent [INAUDIBLE].
  • [01:04:09.04] SPEAKER 6: So that's actually the preface to the question. And the question is--
  • [01:04:13.84] SPEAKER 5: After you finished high school, where did you live?
  • [01:04:17.96] LOUISE ADAMS: Oh, after I finished high school, I still lived at home. And then I went on to college. And I still lived at home. I lived at home until I graduated from college. And the next year, I married. And then I left home.
  • [01:04:40.62] SPEAKER 5: How did you come to live there?
  • [01:04:45.45] LOUISE ADAMS: How did I come to live at home? It was cheaper.
  • [01:04:50.14] [LAUGHTER]
  • [01:04:53.05] SPEAKER 5: Oh, good. Did you remain there? Or did you move around [INAUDIBLE] or [? unique? ?]
  • [01:05:05.69] LOUISE ADAMS: Well, I didn't move around. After I married and left home, my husband and I lived with my brother and sister-in-law. We didn't want to live with them. But my brother and sister-in-law had bought a house. And they had a room. We really wanted to live in an apartment.
  • [01:05:32.56] We didn't want to live in a house. That was not like grown-up people ought to be doing. But we did. We lived there for a while, until we were able to buy our own house. And we bought a two-family flat in Detroit. It was on Euclid, near Grand River. That's-- well, anyway, on the West side. And we stayed there until we built our own house in Inkster.
  • [01:06:07.21] By that time, our children were-- Marcus was 10. Sylvia was eight, when we moved out in Inkster. They liked it out there. We liked it. It was so different for them. They heard sounds that they had never heard before, like crickets-- didn't know what the sound was. Crickets!-- wow! And of course, that was real country like.
  • [01:06:39.34] We had-- oh-- in the yard, any time, you might see garter snakes. You know what garter snakes are?
  • [01:06:48.55] SPEAKER 5: Yeah.
  • [01:06:49.64] LOUISE ADAMS: Well, we--
  • [01:06:50.27] SPEAKER 5: [INAUDIBLE] living in the garden. [INAUDIBLE]--
  • [01:06:51.96] LOUISE ADAMS: Yeah, they were little. They weren't dangerous or anything like that. And of course, frogs-- boy, we had from frogs galore and toads.
  • [01:07:08.10] SPEAKER 5: It was more [INAUDIBLE]?
  • [01:07:11.93] LOUISE ADAMS: It was kind of country like. At that time, we didn't even have paved streets. So that's a big, big different atmosphere for them. Because when I say, Euclid and Grand River, that was city-- absolutely pure city, with houses on both sides, across the street, down the street, and not far from the bus line.
  • [01:07:38.70] So when we moved out there, it was real, real different. But we liked it. Every now and then, we would see pheasants. Once in a while, we would see a deer. And there were always plenty of rabbits. In fact, there are rabbits now. That's why I gave up having the garden. It wasn't worth it. Rabbits were eating up my crop.
  • [01:08:06.93] SPEAKER 5: OK. I'd like you to tell me a little about your married-- your family life. First, tell me about your spouse.
  • [01:08:18.31] LOUISE ADAMS: My spouse and I knew one another, because we went to the same church. We grew up in the same church. And the--
  • [01:08:27.31] SPEAKER 5: [INAUDIBLE]--
  • [01:08:27.79] LOUISE ADAMS: Pardon me?
  • [01:08:28.99] SPEAKER 5: Did you all meet there?
  • [01:08:30.78] LOUISE ADAMS: At church? Yeah, we were kids there, about 10-years-old. I lived in Ecorse. He lived in River Rouge. But we both went to St. John AME Church in River Rouge. And that's where we met one another. I didn't like him too much. He was kind of like-- he really was a pest.
  • [01:08:51.50] [LAUGHTER]
  • [01:08:53.58] And then, of course, later on-- well, he went to River Rouge High School. I went to Ecorse High School. But he was a good day for proms. I always knew, I didn't have to worry about a date for the junior prom, the senior prom-- anything like that. We went to the proms together. And I went on to school.
  • [01:09:20.70] For a while, he was a bus driver-- Detroit DSR. It was Detroit Street Railways. And then he took a course. At first, he was going to become a Michigan State policeman. But then he would have to land-- oh-- up north. We decided, he didn't want that. So he joined the Sheriff's Department.
  • [01:09:48.48] And he became-- he was a sheriff-- well, actually-- until he retired in '83. I retired in '83 from Detroit Public Schools. He retired from the Sheriff's Department in '83. He was not going not going to retire. He said, he was going to retire. And I decided, if he's going to retire, I'm going to retire.
  • [01:10:18.11] There is no way in this world, I was going to leave my house, go into work, and leave him at home in the bed. Uh-uh. Uh-uh.
  • [01:10:26.63] [CHUCKLING]
  • [01:10:27.49] I didn't have any children-- you know, the kids weren't at home. But he retired. And-- oh, let's see. I retired-- last semester-- in June of '83. And his last time was in September of '83. And he transferred. Well, he was a patrolman for a while. He worked on the road patrol.
  • [01:10:55.37] And then he worked, for a while, downtown in the jail. And then he worked out county in the jail. So that was our relationship. And my son-- for a while, he thought he wanted to be a police officer. And he got training for Washtenaw County Sheriff's Department.
  • [01:11:26.45] In fact, we have a picture of my husband in his Wayne County uniform and my son in his uniform for the county. But he got hired as a police officer. My son got hired as a police officer for Eastern Michigan University. And he took his job very seriously. In fact, he was passing out tickets for non-parking zone.
  • [01:12:01.25] And lo and behold, it was for one of the guys who was a member of our church. And he said, Marcus, it's me. You can't give me a ticket. Marcus, look! And he checked him out. He said, oh, yeah. I remember you. But don't do it again though. Don't park here again. So that was about our--
  • [01:12:24.37] SPEAKER 1: Tell me about your engagement and wedding.
  • [01:12:27.31] LOUISE ADAMS: Oh, my engagement-- OK. We weren't married in our church, St. John AME Church. I didn't think it was pretty enough. So we were married at the Detroit Urban League, which is downtown. I can't tell you exactly where it is.
  • [01:12:50.50] My niece and his niece were our flower girls. I have twin sisters. My twin sisters, two girlfriends, and one of my sorority sisters-- they were my bridesmaids. And my husband's best man was my girlfriend's boyfriend. They ended up marrying. One of my brothers and a cousin-- they were the groomsmen.
  • [01:13:38.31] Gosh, I haven't thought about that in a long time. You know long ago that was? It was in 1951.
  • [01:13:43.36] [CHUCKLING]
  • [01:13:45.71] But then when my daughter got married-- and this was very strange. When she got married, my niece, who was in my wedding, her son was her ring bearer. My husband's niece had a daughter. And she was a flower girl in my daughter's wedding. So it stayed in the family. And of course, we were married.
  • [01:14:20.70] My husband died in 2008. And my daughter, by that time, had moved back home. So she is my right hand lady, man, and so forth. OK, that takes us up until yesterday, right? Go on. I'm just kidding you.
  • [01:14:51.65] SPEAKER 5: Tell me about your children and what life was like when they were living in the house.
  • [01:14:58.77] LOUISE ADAMS: OK-- my son was pretty messy. He collected stuff, like rocks. And some of them were pretty interesting. I didn't care if he was collecting rocks. I just didn't want them around on the floor. I sewed. I made most of my daughter's clothes.
  • [01:15:28.75] Now, when we lived in Detroit, they shared a bedroom. Because they were just kids. They had upper bunks and lower bunks. And then when we built our house, they each had their own rooms. And I would read to them, when they were on Euclid Street, when we lived there. And we all just-- in that one bedroom.
  • [01:15:50.66] Now when we moved to Inkster and I was still reading to them, even though they could read-- but it was more fun to gather around and listen to me read to them. And we would take turns reading, one time in his room, the next night in her room-- like that. So it was kind of ordinary.
  • [01:16:19.36] When we moved to Inkster, we were still going to St. John AME Church in River Rouge. And my kids wanted to still go to St. John AME church, which was fine for a while. Except that that was a long drive for me from Inkster to River Rouge on Sundays. Eventually though, they found that there were some friends who went to the Episcopal church out there.
  • [01:16:56.43] And eventually, because they had a summer program that my kids could participate in that did not involve me-- so eventually, we thought in terms of just giving up St. John AME Church. And eventually, we did. Now, it was all right for my daughter.
  • [01:17:21.09] My son always liked going back out to Grandma's, because she always had the biscuits, the scrambled eggs, the sausage. She had all of this food ready for him for Sunday school. And then after church, we came back to the house and ate some more-- and then back to Inkster. But that was good. They had a pretty good growing up. They weren't too bad.
  • [01:17:52.16] I didn't have to do too much whippin'.
  • [01:17:55.37] SPEAKER 5: Tell me about your working years.
  • [01:17:57.31] LOUISE ADAMS: My what?
  • [01:17:58.11] SPEAKER 5: Working years.
  • [01:17:59.29] LOUISE ADAMS: My working years? Let's see. Oh, I taught from 1951 until 1983. In between that, I had, first, my son in '54. I was married in '51. He was born in '54. Two years four months later, I had my daughter. And that's all I got.
  • [01:18:37.29] SPEAKER 5: OK. What was a typical day like during the working years of your adult like?
  • [01:18:44.60] LOUISE ADAMS: A typical day when?
  • [01:18:47.25] SPEAKER 5: A typical day, during the working years of your life.
  • [01:18:53.57] LOUISE ADAMS: Working day like-- well, let's see. Since I knew I had to leave in the mornings, going to work, I would try to remember to take some food out of the freezer before I left for work so that, by the time I got back from work, the food was thawed out enough for me to cook dinner. I tried to cook enough food so that I wouldn't have to cook every night when I came home from work. And I'm almost doing that now, except my grandson just about wipe out everything-- don't have many leftovers.
  • [01:19:43.81] SPEAKER 5: What did your family enjoy doing together when your kids were little?
  • [01:19:50.09] LOUISE ADAMS: Well, we had picnics. We had cookouts in the yard. My husband put up a volleyball net. We have a big back yard. He also built a cement square and put up a regulation-size basketball court. And at that time, we didn't have a fence around the yard.
  • [01:20:29.42] And everybody in the neighborhood-- all the guys-- came over. And they played on that basketball court. It wasn't really a court. When I say, it was about-- oh, I don't know-- maybe about 20 by 20 feet-- something like that. I can't remember exactly. But the pole was cemented in the ground.
  • [01:20:51.65] And every now and then, I would bump into somebody after I had retired. And they would know who I was. And how would they know? Because they played basketball in my back yard. That's how they knew. So they weren't bored. You could do a lot of things like that.
  • [01:21:12.20] Then after we got the fence-- we put a fence across the sideways and all around the house. Then they had to come through to get to the back yard. And eventually, we cut the pole down, because they were gone. And I wanted a picnic table on top of that square. And that's what we did. We put a picnic table on that square.
  • [01:21:45.63] SPEAKER 5: What were your personal favorite things to do for fun?
  • [01:21:49.28] LOUISE ADAMS: Favorite things to do for fun as an adult-- well, we would take the Boblo Boat on the Detroit River. We didn't go to Boblo though. We would just take the boat. There were friends in the neighborhood. And we would take the boat and ride up and down the river.
  • [01:22:20.67] They would have a band. And we would have food. We brought our own food. You can't do that now. But at that time, it was the Boblo Boat. During the daytime, they would take kids to Boblo Island. It was a-- oh, well, they had merry-go-round-- you know, like Cedar Point. That was what it was like then.
  • [01:22:50.73] And we used to go to the casino. We would go to Las Vegas. And when the casino came here to Canada, we would go periodically over there. My husband fixed our own basement up. It was big enough so that we had a regulation-size pool table in one section, so that he and his friends played pool.
  • [01:23:28.74] And when my son got old enough, he and his friends could play pool. So we had plent-- we weren't bored. I can tell you that. And they weren't bored either. If they were, I didn't know it.
  • [01:23:45.88] SPEAKER 5: Are there any special days, events, or family traditions you practiced that differ from your childhood traditions?
  • [01:23:55.90] LOUISE ADAMS: Oh, let's see-- some traditions. Well, we had Christmas parties together, since I had a big basement when we moved there in '64. And we started having our family Christmas parties there. And all of the presents would come. And we would exchange gifts. And we would start opening presents.
  • [01:24:28.03] My kids couldn't open their games or anything like that. They were at a neighbor's house. What we would do then would be-- they would open the presents, starting with the youngest. The youngest in the family would open the presents first, until you got to be adult. And then, of course, the kids disappeared. They weren't interested in what the adults got.
  • [01:24:55.90] Actually, we weren't that interested in what the adults got. But anyway, that was one of the things that we did. And of course, like I said, we went to picnics. There were church picnics down river in Elizabeth Park, it was called, as I recall. And actually, that was about it.
  • [01:25:29.44] SPEAKER 5: Can you describe the popular music of this time?
  • [01:25:34.21] LOUISE ADAMS: Oh, let's see. We had blues. We had jazz. We had our own record player. In fact, we have-- oh-- lots of records now. I suppose, in fact, we have a record player now. Nobody even listens to that kind of-- they were 78 records. Have you ever seen one of those?
  • [01:26:07.41] SPEAKER 5: 4.
  • [01:26:08.83] LOUISE ADAMS: Oh, OK.
  • [01:26:10.50] [CHUCKLING]
  • [01:26:13.67] If I had thought about it-- it hadn't dawned on me-- I could have brought a size-- the 78 RPMs or something like that. What are were waiting for?
  • [01:26:31.28] SPEAKER 5: Did the music have any particular dances associated with it?
  • [01:26:36.71] LOUISE ADAMS: Well, let's see. Like I said yesterday, there was the Jitterbug and social dancing, where you actually-- you held hands. And he put his arms around you. And you danced the social dance. I guess, some people would call it the two-steps. And then later on, you did both the two-steps and the Jitterbug-- social dancing, and then breaking away, Jitterbug social-- like that.
  • [01:27:14.24] And then later on, it was a Hustle. I remember that. And I think, they're still doing the Hustle. In fact, they give Hustle lessons down here at the museum. They call the lady the Hustle Lady. And you pay-- I think, it's $7 a lesson. I'm not sure.
  • [01:27:39.79] SPEAKER 5: What were the popular clothing or dress styles at this time?
  • [01:27:44.04] LOUISE ADAMS: Popular what?
  • [01:27:45.02] SPEAKER 5: Clothing or [INAUDIBLE]--
  • [01:27:46.84] LOUISE ADAMS: Oh, let me see. I'm trying to think. What did we wear? We didn't wear pants. I can tell you that. In fact, teachers didn't wear pants. Teachers didn't wear pants. I'm trying to remember when it was acceptable for teachers to wear pants. We went through a whole thing about that too.
  • [01:28:11.78] It was almost-- the union had to decide whether we, the teachers union-- I think we voted on whether or not we would be allowed to wear pants in the classroom. Teachers did not wear pants in the classroom. I can't think of what else we did.
  • [01:28:35.91] Oh, I remember-- broomstick skirts, they were called. They were skirts that were a small waist and gathered all the way around so that, when you twirled around, the skirt just went all the way around and out. And it had petticoats underneath-- broomstick skirts, OK? I remember those.
  • [01:29:05.07] Later on, we had skirts that were almost straight, maybe with a split in the side or a split in the back. Broomstick skirts and peasant [INAUDIBLE] tops, like in the old country. That's all I can-- oh, and loafers. We wore loafers. We also wore saddle shoes-- brown and white saddle shoes and socks and knee socks.
  • [01:29:57.31] You had to be pretty grown up to wear stockings. When you got your stockings, you knew you were out of the childhood stage.
  • [01:30:10.65] SPEAKER 5: Can you describe any other fads or styles from [INAUDIBLE]?
  • [01:30:19.85] LOUISE ADAMS: Those are the only ones I can remember offhand.
  • [01:30:24.37] SPEAKER 5: Were there any slang terms, phrases, or words used then that aren't in common use today?
  • [01:30:33.08] LOUISE ADAMS: Well, if something was unusual, we'd say, good night, shirt-- good night, shirt. A long time ago, old people-- men-- wore night shirts, not pajamas. They wore night shirts. And you'd say, good night shirt. But I learned one from the young people today. They say, I'm good.
  • [01:30:59.67] How are you? I'm good. Or it's all good. That's what I have learned. I have to try to remember. I don't ever remember my grandson-- of course I haven't paid any attention to what they were saying.
  • [01:31:14.83] SPEAKER 5: It's [INAUDIBLE]. [CHUCKLES] Well, Thinking back on your working adult life, what important social or historical events were taking place at the time? And how did they personally effect you and your family?
  • [01:31:31.69] LOUISE ADAMS: Well, let's see. In 1967, there was a riot in Detroit. I remember that. And I can't remember quite what caused it. It was between Blacks and whites. I think it started on Belle Isle. I'll have to research that. I can't remember quite how that started.
  • [01:32:07.09] SPEAKER 5: How did it affect you or your family?
  • [01:32:09.43] LOUISE ADAMS: It didn't affect me. We lived in Inkster. Now in '67, I was still teaching. But that was in the summer. And school was not in session, as I recall. So it didn't really affect us. It was kind of scary though. You didn't know really what was going to be happening with it spread all over, with Blacks and Whites fighting and shooting.
  • [01:32:44.23] So I'll have to think about that. I can't remember.
  • [01:32:49.80] SPEAKER 5: Did your family engage in any [INAUDIBLE]?
  • [01:32:57.05] LOUISE ADAMS: No, we weren't water people. My father used to go fishing. But he was he was just fishing from the shoreline of the Detroit River. You could catch all kinds of fish in the Detroit River. And at that time, it was good fish. Because the water was not polluted. It was good water.
  • [01:33:23.07] SPEAKER 5: This set of questions covers a very long period of your life, from the time you entered the [INAUDIBLE] force or started a family up to this time.
  • [01:33:38.57] LOUISE ADAMS: I thought we had gone through that one.
  • [01:33:43.95] SPEAKER 5: What was your main field of employment?
  • [01:33:47.50] LOUISE ADAMS: Oh, my main one was working for the Detroit Board. As a teenager, at age 16, I had a job in the library. Excuse me. I was hired, actually, by my neighbor. She was a librarian for Wayne County Library. And she worked in the Wayne County Library, Herman Kiefer branch. Herman Kiefer Hospital-- excuse me-- at that time had patients with TB-- tubercular patients.
  • [01:34:29.38] And I worked in her office. I did not work among patients, delivering books. She would deliver the books. And when she brought them back, I would check them out or whatever. And I was 16. In fact, I thought, I would like to be a librarian, because you would get a first chance at reading the book. But I found out, that was not the case.
  • [01:35:04.64] And my next job-- oh, for a while, I worked in the grocery store around the corner. But my main job was teaching. And I did that from 1950 until 1983. And I didn't get any more jobs after that. I retired.
  • [01:35:32.74] SPEAKER 5: How did you judge excellence [INAUDIBLE]?
  • [01:35:38.07] LOUISE ADAMS: How did I do what?
  • [01:35:40.46] SPEAKER 5: How do you judge excellence within your field?
  • [01:35:45.93] LOUISE ADAMS: How do I judge what?
  • [01:35:48.68] SPEAKER 5: How do you judge excellence?
  • [01:35:53.22] LOUISE ADAMS: Action?
  • [01:35:53.84] SPEAKER 5: Excellence. [INAUDIBLE]--
  • [01:35:56.75] LOUISE ADAMS: Spell that for me.
  • [01:35:58.47] SPEAKER 5: E-X-C-E-L-L-E-N-C--
  • [01:36:02.68] LOUISE ADAMS: Oh, excellence-- how do I judge excellence? Oh--
  • [01:36:06.72] SPEAKER 5: [INAUDIBLE] with your job.
  • [01:36:13.14] LOUISE ADAMS: Well, you set out goals and measuring sticks or measurements for achieving those goals. Say, when I was in the classroom, my goal was to prepare children for the next grade. And I knew, I had succeeded if they were reading. Because they were tested. If they were reading at or above grade level, that told me that I had done what I had started out to do.
  • [01:36:54.03] And if they did not meet those standards-- excuse me. Actually, I should keep them behind to repeat a grade. But that was a long time ago. I understand, nobody gets left behind these days.
  • [01:37:16.77] SPEAKER 5: What do you value most about what you did for a living? [INAUDIBLE]--
  • [01:37:23.08] LOUISE ADAMS: What do I value most about what?
  • [01:37:25.67] SPEAKER 5: Most about what you did for a living.
  • [01:37:28.42] LOUISE ADAMS: Oh-- oh, I liked the idea, particularly when I taught first grade, that I could see the light shining in their eyes, when they finally found the key to learning a new word. Their whole demeanor changed. That, to me, was the most rewarding thing to watch. It's like, oh! So that's what it's all about.
  • [01:38:09.77] To see that and to watch that reaction and to watch them, when they had free time, turn around and then play school-- I loved watching them play school with a ruler in their hands.
  • [01:38:30.50] SPEAKER 5: What was the biggest difference and/or events in your employment from the time you started until now?
  • [01:38:42.11] LOUISE ADAMS: I'm trying to think-- what main events from the time I started teaching until now--
  • [01:38:49.85] SPEAKER 3: Yeah.
  • [01:38:53.58] LOUISE ADAMS: Well, let's see. One main event-- and I meant to bring that letter. Two of my former students saw an article in a newsletter from the Charles H. Wright Museum. And there was a picture of me and the picture of my daughter. And they tackled the job of finding out where I lived, sent me a letter-- found my address.
  • [01:39:28.98] And they were two students I had in the sixth grade. And they came out to visit me. And I fixed food for them. And one of them called for July 4th. They wanted to know whether or not they could pick my daughter and me up to come and have July 4th barbecue with them. But we couldn't, because we were barbecuing ourselves.
  • [01:40:01.83] So up until that time, that was one of the big things. There were so many big things that happened to us. We joined the Episcopal Church. We left St. John AME Church in River Rouge and joined the Episcopal Church in Inkster. It was close enough for my children to walk, which made a difference. I was not hauling anybody around. That made a difference.
  • [01:40:33.81] And the Episcopal Church services didn't last very long. We had communion every Sunday. I could come home afterwards and have the rest of the Sunday relaxing. But when we went to St. John in River Rouge, we were practically there all day. And I still had to cook dinner, even though we had eaten at my mother's, earlier, after we had gotten out of church. I still had to have dinner done for later on that evening.
  • [01:41:17.42] SPEAKER 5: So how did family life change when [INAUDIBLE] you or your spouse retired and all of your children were gone.
  • [01:41:29.57] LOUISE ADAMS: When we did what?
  • [01:41:30.62] SPEAKER 5: How did your family change for you, when you or your spouse retired and all of your children were gone?
  • [01:41:37.29] LOUISE ADAMS: Oh, it was great. We ate out a lot. And I still cooked, because I liked cooking. I still like cooking. I'm a good cook. But without kids at home, we could go to the Casino. We could eat there, come home. And it didn't bother me that-- because my husband could find something to eat.
  • [01:42:17.65] And he learned to cook himself some breakfast. He would like to cook some breakfast for me. But I'm not really a breakfast person. I didn't care for his breakfasts. He liked his eggs sunny-side up. Do you know what sunny-side up eggs are?
  • [01:42:35.08] SPEAKER 5: Yes.
  • [01:42:36.82] LOUISE ADAMS: Do you?
  • [01:42:37.60] SPEAKER 5: [INAUDIBLE].
  • [01:42:39.71] LOUISE ADAMS: Sunny-side up--
  • [01:42:40.57] SPEAKER 7: [INAUDIBLE].
  • [01:42:41.04] SPEAKER 5: How--
  • [01:42:42.97] LOUISE ADAMS: You break the egg. And the yolk is-- ugh!-- raw in the middle. And he'd take toast and dip it in. And agh! Yogh! I thought that was awful. I could hardly bear to look at it.
  • [01:43:02.37] SPEAKER 5: How has your life changed since your spouse passed away?
  • [01:43:07.11] LOUISE ADAMS: Since my spouse is what?
  • [01:43:08.82] SPEAKER 5: Passed away--
  • [01:43:10.12] LOUISE ADAMS: Well, I still-- there are times when I wish-- something had happened I wish I could share with him that doesn't mean that much to anybody else, but would mean a lot to my husband and me. I miss cooking his favorite meal, his favorite cakes, pies. And just travel-- we used to travel a lot to family reunions or just get in the car and go.
  • [01:43:54.60] He loved driving. And I like riding with him. Now we would take turns driving. The only thing about it is, when it was my turn to drive, he'd go to sleep. I never went to sleep on him while we were riding. Gosh, I thought, my goodness. I don't follow directions very well.
  • [01:44:16.22] If somebody said, go north on whatever street-- north, as far as I was concerned, was up. South was down. East-- this way. West-- that way. But I don't know. I miss-- oh-- just his presence there. And even though-- oh, and I miss him in the yard.
  • [01:44:51.57] We have a big yard. And he did not allow dandelions to grow in his yard. And he cut the lawn regularly. And he edged it. He wanted it always neat. My grandsons-- I have to get after them. It doesn't mean as much to them as it-- well-- as it does to me and to him. So I miss him.
  • [01:45:27.42] SPEAKER 5: What does your family enjoy doing together now?
  • [01:45:31.63] LOUISE ADAMS: What does what?
  • [01:45:32.76] SPEAKER 5: Your family enjoy doing together now?
  • [01:45:35.99] LOUISE ADAMS: Oh, my daughter and I enjoy coming down here. We started coming down here as volunteers. And then she got hired part-time. So I come down when they have special events. And this is a most interesting place. And of course, we still go to the same church. And they have activities, special events at church that we enjoy doing together.
  • [01:46:17.11] SPEAKER 5: What are your personal favorite things to do for fun?
  • [01:46:22.39] LOUISE ADAMS: Personal favorite what?
  • [01:46:23.50] SPEAKER 5: What are your personal favorite things to do for fun?
  • [01:46:27.38] LOUISE ADAMS: For fun? Oh, coming down here. This is fun.
  • [01:46:34.60] SPEAKER 5: Are there any special days, events, or family traditions you especially enjoy at this time of your life?
  • [01:46:45.36] LOUISE ADAMS: Oh, I can't think of any. One thing that I enjoy doing-- now, when they have the festival, the Black History Festival down in downtown Detroit, it will be at the waterfront. There will be booths, all kinds. We'd do the membership table down there. And you could buy costumes-- African costumes.
  • [01:47:28.53] There will be dancers. There will be all kinds of things going down. You should watch for it for-- it should be coming up not too long from now. And I like the waterfront-- downtown waterfront.
  • [01:47:59.55] SPEAKER 5: When thinking your life after retirement or your kids left home, up to the present, what important social or historical events were taking place? And how did they personally affect you and your family?
  • [01:48:19.23] LOUISE ADAMS: Well, let's see-- special events taking place. Well, when my daughter went to college, she went to college down in Alabama. And it was an all Black college. And my husband I drove her there. And in the process, we stopped through lots of different places along the way, like the caves in Kentucky. There are underground caves. We went down underground-- just that kind of thing that we'd go down and pick her up and bring her back home.
  • [01:49:20.07] And my son, when he went, he went to Texas first, Texas Christian. I think my husband went that way once. When she married and moved to California, we would fly to Las Vegas-- because we loved going to Las Vegas-- rent a car, and then drive to California, and come back.
  • [01:49:53.86] SPEAKER 5: When thinking of [INAUDIBLE] what important social or historical event had the greatest impact?
  • [01:50:05.49] LOUISE ADAMS: I think, when the South-- when we would go south and we didn't have to worry about trying to find-- that was when Martin Luther King-- that was in '63. When the South became more integrated, I think that was when it became easier to travel. That was the impact, I think, that I remember.
  • [01:50:49.26] We could stop at rest stations and not worry about whether or not we could use that bathroom or whatnot. But I think that was the thing that was more interesting that was a big impact.
  • [01:51:12.34] SPEAKER 5: What family heirlooms, [INAUDIBLE], or keepsakes do you [INAUDIBLE]?
  • [01:51:24.28] LOUISE ADAMS: Family heirlooms? Let me see. Do I have any family heirlooms? I probably do.
  • [01:51:38.30] SPEAKER 5: What are their stories? And why are they valuable to you?
  • [01:51:45.70] LOUISE ADAMS: I didn't get that last part at all.
  • [01:51:48.78] SPEAKER 5: What's their story? And why are they valuable to you?
  • [01:51:57.96] LOUISE ADAMS: I'll have to think about that.
  • [01:52:02.51] SPEAKER 5: Thinking back over your entire life, what are you most proud of?
  • [01:52:07.68] LOUISE ADAMS: Oh, that my kids are good, that they've gone to school, and that my grandsons aren't hippy dippy. My granddaughters are just fine. So I'm actually quite proud of that.
  • [01:52:26.09] SPEAKER 5: Hippy dippy-- is that--
  • [01:52:27.90] LOUISE ADAMS: Hippy dippy-- you know-- I don't know. They're just nice guys.
  • [01:52:40.22] SPEAKER 5: What would you say--
  • [01:52:42.49] LOUISE ADAMS: Except that they spend too much time on video games. They got video games that could go from here to that wall, lined up. Good night! OK.
  • [01:53:02.17] SPEAKER 5: What would you say has changed most from the time you were my age till now?
  • [01:53:11.88] LOUISE ADAMS: The most what?-- from the time I was your age? I don't even know if I remember what it-- how old are you?
  • [01:53:21.68] SPEAKER 5: 17.
  • [01:53:22.49] LOUISE ADAMS: 17? I'm 82. I don't know what it was like when I was 17. Shh! 17-- let's see, I was still-- [INAUDIBLE]. I was in high school-- yeah. High school was very simple. We walked to high school. We walked home from high school for lunch, walked back to school after lunch, and walked home afterwards.
  • [01:53:58.22] I lived in a small town. See, you ride the bus to school, right? Well, nobody rode any buses to school. I remember, my brother's youngest friend-- his father bought him a car. It was a raggedy car. But he was in high school. My brother is three years younger than me.
  • [01:54:26.66] And after school-- now, look. I'll tell you how raggedy this car was. You could see through the ground. Gas was only $0.15 a gallon. And we would get in. His name was Roosevelt Claxton. We call him Clack-- get in Clack's car. Everybody was trying to get in Clack's car.
  • [01:54:53.95] Whoever got there first could ride home. The only person who wasn't rushing out after school was Clack. It was his car. He knew he had the spot. And as many people as possible could get in the front and in the back. It's against the law for three people to ride in front now. But back then-- nah. It wasn't against the law. So that I remember.
  • [01:55:24.12] At 17-- OK.
  • [01:55:27.90] SPEAKER 5: What advice would you give to my generation?
  • [01:55:32.26] LOUISE ADAMS: What advice would I give to who?
  • [01:55:34.49] SPEAKER 5: My generation.
  • [01:55:35.41] LOUISE ADAMS: Stay in school. Go to college-- or not necessarily go to college. But learn a skill. What I would like for my grandsons to learn-- say, we had to have some plumbing done. And I had to call for the plumber. And the guy who came to the door-- I thought he was one of my son's friends. I thought it was John. He's one of the friends.
  • [01:56:15.42] But no, it was the plumber-- a young Black guy. And I said, my goodness! Now my oldest grandson wants to be a professional bowler. He is good. But I mean, how can you-- I'm like my mother when I wanted to be-- well, I thought I was going to be a professional artist. You got to learn a skill that you can make some money, particularly if you're Black. You got to-- "pshh."
  • [01:56:46.04] But anyway, learn a skill-- a skill that you can use to always have a job. That's what you going to have to do-- always.
  • [01:57:02.85] SPEAKER 5: Is there anything--
  • [01:57:10.02] LOUISE ADAMS: Because, see, my youngest grandson-- he's at Eastern Michigan University now. He took a semester off to study in England. He went to Derby-- the University of Derby in England, January 17, and came back on June 17. His major is literature. What the devil is he going to do with literature? Literature? "Shh."
  • [01:57:40.74] No, you go to school and you learn a skill. That's what I advise you to do.
  • [01:57:48.16] SPEAKER 5: Is there anything you would like to add that I haven't asked about?
  • [01:57:55.12] LOUISE ADAMS: Mm, I can't think of anything right now. But you did say you were going to-- you wanted to go to culinary arts school?
  • [01:58:07.94] SPEAKER 5: [INAUDIBLE].
  • [01:58:11.11] LOUISE ADAMS: As I recall, culinary arts is cooking?
  • [01:58:14.27] SPEAKER 5: Mm-hm.
  • [01:58:15.27] LOUISE ADAMS: OK, are you good? You're learning from home?
  • [01:58:19.80] SPEAKER 5: I always did cooking at home. The only thing I'm learning is simple things like germs and measurements.
  • [01:58:30.85] LOUISE ADAMS: Oh, well, you do have to learn those. See, a long time ago, when I got recipes from my mother, it was always "a pinch"-- a pinch of this. Just put a pinch in. You only need a pinch. How much is a pinch, Ma? So no, you get your measuring tools out and you learn.
  • [01:58:55.19] SPEAKER 5: That completes the [INAUDIBLE] part of [INAUDIBLE].
  • [01:58:59.08] LOUISE ADAMS: Well, thank you very much.
  • [01:59:05.61] SPEAKER 8: --the riots?
  • [01:59:08.05] LOUISE ADAMS: No, I wasn't in the riot.
  • [01:59:13.08] SPEAKER 8: How old were you when the riot happened?
  • [01:59:18.04] LOUISE ADAMS: OK, that was in 1967. I was born in 1928. OK, you math people, get it together. Tell me how old I was then.
  • [01:59:34.85] SPEAKER 3: 39.
  • [01:59:36.07] LOUISE ADAMS: 39-- I'll take your word for it.
  • [01:59:42.70] SPEAKER 8: Did you know anybody who was a part of the riot?
  • [01:59:46.37] LOUISE ADAMS: No.
  • [01:59:53.49] SPEAKER 8: How did you feel about your students when you were teaching?
  • [01:59:59.78] LOUISE ADAMS: How did that feel about them?
  • [02:00:01.04] SPEAKER 8: Yes.
  • [02:00:03.20] LOUISE ADAMS: Well, when I had my art classes, I enjoyed those classes. And then when I went back from maternity leave, I had first grade. I loved the first grade. Because when they learned something, their whole faces lit up. And actually, it was a joy to see, when they had figured out how to attack a new word and then go on and read for themselves.
  • [02:00:37.83] I did-- I liked that.
  • [02:00:42.35] SPEAKER 8: Did you raise your kids the same way you were raised? Or did you want to raise them different?
  • [02:00:50.26] LOUISE ADAMS: Did I--
  • [02:00:51.75] SPEAKER 8: Did you raise your kids the same way you were raised? Or did you [INAUDIBLE]--
  • [02:00:56.59] LOUISE ADAMS: Oh, my own children?
  • [02:00:57.55] SPEAKER 8: Yes.
  • [02:00:58.34] LOUISE ADAMS: No, they were raised just about the same way. I talked a while and talked a while. And after I had talked a while, then my hand would talk a little bit more. And hopefully, that would do the trick. And generally, it did.
  • [02:01:22.56] SPEAKER 8: Had you ever spanked them with a belt or anything?
  • [02:01:25.50] LOUISE ADAMS: Oh, no-- didn't have to use a belt. Hands are very good, very strong.
  • [02:01:32.68] SPEAKER 8: [INAUDIBLE].
  • [02:01:36.86] LOUISE ADAMS: Your mother used a belt.
  • [02:01:37.84] SPEAKER 4: Yes.
  • [02:01:40.08] LOUISE ADAMS: It's a Black thing. You see, a long time before that, your parents used to send you out to get a switch. You know what a switch is?
  • [02:01:51.64] SPEAKER 9: My aunts will do that sometimes. But my mom just sticked to her belt.
  • [02:01:57.89] LOUISE ADAMS: Well, I can't tell you which was worse. I think, you spent more time trying to find a switch to your choosing, thinking that, by the time you got the switch, the whole idea would have passed. But it never did. So you had to get it over with.
  • [02:02:30.77] SPEAKER 8: [? What ?] was it like in your childhood? What was it like in your childhood?
  • [02:02:36.81] LOUISE ADAMS: Well, actually, my childhood wasn't that bad. I thought-- in fact, I didn't even think about it being bad or good. When I was growing up in Ecorse, I could walk down almost any street and find a relative. There were lots. I had lots of cousins, my age, younger or older. And everybody knew everybody else.
  • [02:03:03.00] If you were misbehaving, if somebody said, you better straighten up or I'll talk to your mother or your father, you straightened up. Because yeah, they didn't know your mother or your father. You may not have known them. But they knew you.
  • [02:03:22.86] So when you say a neighborhood-- a village-- raises a child, that's the way it was when we were coming along. Everybody was responsible for you. You may not have wanted it to be that way. And if you rolled your eyes even, somebody would pick that up and tell.
  • [02:03:46.22] SPEAKER 8: [? Well, ?] nowadays, they don't do that. They [? don't know. ?]
  • [02:03:51.40] LOUISE ADAMS: They don't do what?
  • [02:03:52.49] SPEAKER 8: Like, hold [INAUDIBLE] or--
  • [02:03:55.56] LOUISE ADAMS: Care about what you do?
  • [02:03:56.61] SPEAKER 8: Right. And they were just like-- my mama would just hear about it from people talking about it.
  • [02:04:02.69] LOUISE ADAMS: But you see, a long time ago, that's what neighborhoods were. Even in the neighborhood where I am now, when my children were growing up-- the whole neighborhood was about the same. Since that time, neighbors have moved away. Parents have divorced. Other neighbors have died.
  • [02:04:30.30] In my neighborhood now, there are only-- let's see, 1-- about four of the original people in the neighborhood. Everybody else-- they've either died or moved away. And when we moved out, my kids didn't have a lot of kids to play with. There weren't that many kids in the block. But they did find enough to play with.
  • [02:05:02.97] SPEAKER 10: [INAUDIBLE].
  • [02:05:07.45] SPEAKER 8: Well, that's all the questions I had.
  • [02:05:12.43] SPEAKER 4: Anybody else have questions that you'd like to ask?
  • [02:05:16.48] SPEAKER 11: [INAUDIBLE].
  • [02:05:17.96] SPEAKER 4: Ah, here is the paper. Switch seats with Jordan, so [INAUDIBLE].
  • [02:05:25.34] SPEAKER 11: I [INAUDIBLE].
  • [02:05:26.81] SPEAKER 4: Hm?
  • [02:05:27.31] SPEAKER 11: I want to go talk to her [? again. ?]
  • [02:05:30.26] SPEAKER 4: [INAUDIBLE] talk about something else you haven't asked?
  • [02:05:34.19] SPEAKER 9: Basically, I said them all.
  • [02:05:36.65] SPEAKER 4: Pause it, please. So talk to us about being a parent and about being a teacher and events-- you've answered a couple of questions about what it was like teaching and how you liked teaching. But I guess the question is, are there aspects of being a mother that influenced the way you taught? Or are there aspects of being a teacher that influenced the way you raised your children? [INAUDIBLE]--
  • [02:06:15.17] LOUISE ADAMS: I think they were intertwined. Because actually, the teacher was like a parent. You were responsible. You were responsible if the child did not feel well. You had to determine whether or not it was real or-- and if it wasn't, what you thought was real-- why?
  • [02:06:43.54] Children didn't pretend to be sick if they weren't. And they always knew, I could get in touch with the mothers or the fathers. When I taught in southwest Detroit-- I grew up not too far-- well, when I first married, I didn't live too far from that school in southwest Detroit.
  • [02:07:07.12] When I say southwest Detroit, I'm talking about where Detroit ends and Melvindale or Allen Park begins-- southwest Detroit. And then there's Ecorse, River Rouge, and that general area. Many of those same people, their parents went to the church that I went to.
  • [02:07:38.05] I could actually walk and often did to their homes afterwards, if I had something I wanted to tell them about. And they didn't have to come to the school to find out. I had one set of children whose parents lived across the alley from that school. And they had a garden.
  • [02:08:07.38] And if I needed a pot-- if we were going to have, say, hot dogs and I didn't have quite the size pot that I wanted, I could open my window and call to Mrs. Franklin to send me a pot. And guess where Mrs. Franklin's children are? Two or three of them own the Star Dust Lounge on Inkster Road not far from where we live.
  • [02:08:34.41] We went there for a Block Club meeting. And lo and behold, who do I see? Brenda. She said, Mrs. Adams! Ah! Brenda! Not only that, my sisters taught out that way too. I had twin sisters. And they taught. They remembered having my sisters.
  • [02:09:03.48] They have a restaurant bar. And the Block Club meets their every second Tuesday. And she serves the food. They have good food. I don't know if they ever went to culinary art school or not, but probably not. They were just probably good cooks.
  • [02:09:26.46] People were good cooks because they had to be a good cooks. And they had gardens. And they used the products from the garden.
  • [02:09:37.40] SPEAKER 4: Now, did they think they had gardens because it was financially necessary?-- because it was more affordable to grow it? Or do you think it was a hobby or [INAUDIBLE]?
  • [02:09:50.68] LOUISE ADAMS: No, it wasn't a hobby. People had gardens, because they needed those gardens. And don't forget, though, that my parents generations, they came from farms. And they knew that it was a good to have crops. And even when we moved out, when we built our house out in Inkster-- and we had a lot of land. So we had little gardens too.
  • [02:10:17.27] But it wasn't worth it, because rabbits-- and we still have rabbits-- eating up your stuff. And we decided, there is an outdoor market not far from where we live. We could buy the stuff. It was easier to go out and buy the stuff than to plant the stuff.
  • [02:10:38.19] And you didn't plant corn. You planted, like, string beans, lima beans, spinach. We even had some strawberries, I remember. Once, we had cantaloupes too. And the market that we discovered, we still go to. And they opened up-- let's see-- last Sunday. And they didn't have that much. But it will get bigger.
  • [02:11:14.96] SPEAKER 4: It's still early in the harvest, right?
  • [02:11:16.89] LOUISE ADAMS: Yeah. Was this good for you guys?
  • [02:11:24.61] SPEAKER 8: Mm-hm.
  • [02:11:25.54] SPEAKER 4: I have more questions for you--
  • [02:11:27.40] LOUISE ADAMS: Oh, go ahead.
  • [02:11:28.00] SPEAKER 4: --as a teacher. And maybe you addressed this in some of your earlier testimony. How did your students-- say, the makeup of your students, from the time you started teaching till you retired-- was there a change?
  • [02:11:54.65] LOUISE ADAMS: You mean, in their attitudes?
  • [02:11:55.99] SPEAKER 4: Yeah.
  • [02:11:57.96] LOUISE ADAMS: It started to change. It started to change, in that parents did not want their children kept behind. They said, they would be behind. But they were already behind. Parents would object to you keeping-- and see, I had fifth, sixth grade. And from there, they went to middle school, for seventh, eighth-- you know, they had middle school.
  • [02:12:30.42] If they are going to middle school reading fourth grade-- why would you want your kid to go to middle school, reading fourth grade level? So that was a problem, trying to convince them that it was better. And then after a while, you had social promotion. I didn't like that at all. I knew that was not good.
  • [02:13:01.35] But after a while, your principal said, look. Let it go. Let it go. And every now and then, I'd get a parent who wanted to challenge me and my authority. And I'd have to tell them-- I'd have to tell them, if you think for one minute that I'm going to stand up here and let you hit me and I'm not going to hit you back, you're wrong.
  • [02:13:32.88] If you think, for one minute-- and I'd say to them, we will all go to jail, won't we? That was when I had been pushed to the wall. And then the parent went, oh, I didn't mean that. I didn't mean that, Miss Adams-- and then back off like that.
  • [02:13:48.81] But I didn't get that-- that was in my later years that would come along, where parents felt that-- you don't have the right to chastise my child. Who do you think you are? Who do I think I am?-- that kind of attitude. I didn't have any trouble explaining who I was.
  • [02:14:14.26] [INTERPOSING VOICES]
  • [02:14:25.20] [? Oh, ?] [INAUDIBLE].
  • [02:14:33.15] SPEAKER 4: Last call-- last call for alcohol. [INAUDIBLE].
  • [02:14:41.16] LOUISE ADAMS: They eat too much for lunch.
  • [02:14:42.50] SPEAKER 4: Yeah, yeah. [INAUDIBLE] off today. Thank you so much [INAUDIBLE]. You got one? I've got two.
  • [02:14:58.80] SPEAKER 8: I do [INAUDIBLE]?
  • [02:15:03.28] LOUISE ADAMS: Oh, no. I never had a fight--
  • [02:15:04.92] SPEAKER 8: [INAUDIBLE].
  • [02:15:05.88] LOUISE ADAMS: --with a parent-- no. I wasn't going to be out-bluffed though.
  • [02:15:09.11] SPEAKER 8: [INAUDIBLE]
  • [02:15:10.58] LOUISE ADAMS: Mm-mm-- no, no, no. I was always very athletic. I've always been able to take care of myself. I had three older brothers, one younger brother, and then my sisters. So they wouldn't let anybody else beat you up. But they sure would shake the daylights out of you. Oh, boy!
  • [02:15:45.03] SPEAKER 4: I got a two-part final question.
  • [02:15:50.07] LOUISE ADAMS: OK.
  • [02:15:55.53] SPEAKER 4: I guess, it's-- and this comes from another participant. And I'll ask you this. What was it about the Legacy Project-- when you heard about this, what was it that made you agree to participate in this [? taping? ?]
  • [02:16:14.93] LOUISE ADAMS: Well, I figured it would be interesting. I was a member of the Friends of Inkster Public Library. And they had a program with seniors. I didn't participate in it. But the Library Commission, I think it was, set up a program so that-- the Inkster Public Library is right across the road really-- across Inkster road-- from the Senior Citizens Building. So they had plenty of candidates.
  • [02:16:52.25] So I thought it would have been interesting to just sit in, to find out what they were thinking about. Because they were, of course, older than me. I had retired. Had I retired? I had. I had retired then. But actually, I didn't have to retire.
  • [02:17:16.00] What happened was-- yes, I did. I had to retire. The Board offered those teachers who had at least 30 years early retirement pay, because they could hire two teachers for what they were paying one.
  • [02:17:39.25] SPEAKER 4: That's similar to what's going on now, right?
  • [02:17:42.73] LOUISE ADAMS: You know, I don't even read about the Board.
  • [02:17:45.34] SPEAKER 4: I have a friend who just took the buy-out from a township. But it's a similar thing for early retirement-- [INAUDIBLE].
  • [02:17:52.85] LOUISE ADAMS: Yeah-- yeah. But for a long time, I didn't know what to do with myself. But after a while, your body adjusted.
  • [02:18:04.97] SPEAKER 4: Right.
  • [02:18:11.99] LOUISE ADAMS: He's got one.
  • [02:18:13.05] SPEAKER 12: How old were you [INAUDIBLE] when you started teaching?
  • [02:18:17.24] LOUISE ADAMS: How old was I?
  • [02:18:18.00] SPEAKER 12: Yes.
  • [02:18:19.70] LOUISE ADAMS: Let's see. OK-- I graduated from Wayne in 1950. OK, you going to do the math again?
  • [02:18:34.55] SPEAKER 4: You got your Master's degree in '53, right?
  • [02:18:38.00] LOUISE ADAMS: My Master's I got in '54.
  • [02:18:39.56] SPEAKER 4: [INAUDIBLE]
  • [02:18:40.49] LOUISE ADAMS: But I started teaching in 1950.
  • [02:18:42.35] SPEAKER 4: Oh, gotcha. So--
  • [02:18:43.73] LOUISE ADAMS: And married in '51.
  • [02:18:44.60] SPEAKER 4: We're going from '28?
  • [02:18:46.66] LOUISE ADAMS: Yeah.
  • [02:18:47.56] SPEAKER 4: 22 years.
  • [02:18:49.01] LOUISE ADAMS: OK.
  • [02:18:52.15] SPEAKER 4: 22 years. So you guys have a couple of years and you [INAUDIBLE].
  • [02:18:58.51] [INAUDIBLE].
  • [02:19:00.97] LOUISE ADAMS: But now, all of you do something. You don't have to go to college. But do learn the skill.
  • [02:19:09.62] SPEAKER 13: [INAUDIBLE]
  • [02:19:11.61] SPEAKER 12: [INAUDIBLE] is that it's either college or the military.
  • [02:19:16.61] LOUISE ADAMS: College or the military?
  • [02:19:17.87] SPEAKER 13: I'd choose college [INAUDIBLE].
  • [02:19:22.08] LOUISE ADAMS: My son-- well, he went to college for a while first. And then he went to the military. My husband told him, you are not military material. You don't question. He was one who questioned. My husband had been in the military. And he said, now you can't get in the military and start questioning.
  • [02:19:55.10] If they said-- say, you have to do something, that's what you have to do. So he managed OK and went to Germany for a while. I think, they were glad to let him out, though, because things that he didn't agree with-- he would write letters to whatever that newspaper was that--
  • [02:20:17.85] SPEAKER 4: Stars and Stripes?
  • [02:20:19.33] LOUISE ADAMS: Yeah, yeah, yeah. And actually, even now he's a good writer. After he got back from the military, then they went on to Eastern University and got several degrees on GI-- no, maybe it started out that way on GI. But he got student loans and several degrees.
  • [02:20:49.86] Even now, he's down at Wayne, getting a library degree-- been in the library for years now. But what else was he going to do?
  • [02:21:03.12] SPEAKER 4: [? Bless ?] him.
  • [02:21:04.50] LOUISE ADAMS: Oh, and he goes to Europe-- goes to Paris every year or to-- he's been to Scotland. I think I've said that-- Ireland-- do a paper, break the monotony.
  • [02:21:32.39] SPEAKER 4: It's the piece de resistance. If you could, let's say, do one thing for the younger generation or you could will one thing for them to be true or something to happen-- one wish for one dream that you have for the generation that's coming up--
  • [02:21:53.14] LOUISE ADAMS: This generation?
  • [02:21:54.16] SPEAKER 4: Yeah, this generation-- maybe their younger brothers and sisters. But let's start with them. Is there something that you want for them?
  • [02:22:03.61] LOUISE ADAMS: Yeah, and I want them to never end up in jail [? here. ?] My husband was a Wayne County Sheriff. You don't ever want to-- you want to keep your reputation. You want to have goals for yourself. Like I said, you don't have to go to college.
  • [02:22:28.72] Don't spend all of your money when you get a job. Make a plan to put some of your money away for a rainy day. There are always going to be rainy days. And your mother and father aren't going to give you money. I take that back. They'll help you. But you don't want to depend on parents paying money out for you.
  • [02:23:01.65] Because then, they're in your, quote, "business," unquote. But always have some money set aside. And do some kind of skill. That's what I'd like for them to do. And be safe. I need to take your names down. I don't want to read about you having these babies, guys. You hear?
  • [02:23:42.79] SPEAKER 4: [INAUDIBLE]
  • [02:23:44.21] LOUISE ADAMS: Have you gotten that talk yet? Reminding-- see, I watch Court TV. I would like for them to be fine husbands and fathers. That's what I'd like you to be. Time's going to come. You don't think so right now. But yes-- husbands and fathers-- good ones. And if you're good husbands and fathers, you can't help but be good citizens.
  • [02:24:27.57] SPEAKER 4: Thank you.
  • [02:24:28.56] LOUISE ADAMS: Oh, well, thank you.
  • [02:24:29.64] SPEAKER 4: [INAUDIBLE]