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Legacies Project Oral History: Shirley Northcross

Thu, 01/16/2020 - 9:21am

When: 2020

Shirley Northcross was born in 1936 and grew up near Dayton, Ohio. Her father ran the Miami View Golf Course, and she recalls visits from famous athletes like Joe Louis. She was the first Black student to graduate from Fairmont High School in Kettering, Ohio. After getting a degree in physical education from Michigan State University, Northcross started out a substitute teacher and a counselor for the Camp Fire Girls of America. She taught physical education at Northwestern High School in Detroit for over 30 years.

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

Transcript

  • [00:00:09.18] SPEAKER 1: We are going to continue in part three [? about you. ?] Yesterday, you said that you didn't go to preschool or kindergarten.
  • [00:00:18.40] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: No.
  • [00:00:18.79] SPEAKER 1: Why not?
  • [00:00:21.28] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: I don't remember there being one. I don't remember that my school system offered that. Preschool was not-- I don't know, I just didn't go. Most mothers stayed home and took care of their children. My mother [INAUDIBLE].
  • [00:00:45.10] SPEAKER 1: So what did you do during that time?
  • [00:00:51.27] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: I wish I had the memory to recall what I did. I don't remember. But whatever I did, it was probably family-oriented, with my brothers and sisters. I, being the oldest child, probably was just an at home child.
  • [00:01:09.98] SPEAKER 1: Did you go to school or career training beyond high school?
  • [00:01:14.24] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: I went to college.
  • [00:01:16.10] SPEAKER 1: Where?
  • [00:01:16.76] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: Michigan State.
  • [00:01:18.70] SPEAKER 1: What did you do that you remember?
  • [00:01:20.92] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: What did I do?
  • [00:01:21.84] SPEAKER 1: Yeah, what do you remember about Michigan State?
  • [00:01:26.19] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: Oh, one of my greatest memories about Michigan State was that, in my freshman year, I got to go to the Rose Bowl. And that was in 1956. Rose Bowl, and Michigan State won the Rose Bowl by a field goal in the last seconds of the game. And all the students swarmed onto the field and tore the goalpost down. And the goalpost was made out of wood back in those days. And I got a tiny sliver of the goalpost. That's been one of my favorite pieces of memorabilia. Can you imagine a wooden goalpost?
  • [00:02:09.90] SPEAKER 1: Yes.
  • [00:02:10.56] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: You can?
  • [00:02:11.54] SPEAKER 1: Maybe.
  • [00:02:12.96] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: Oh, and also, we all convened on East Lansing. I think it was day after Christmas. Seven trainloads of college students left East Lansing, going a different route. I remember that I was on the brown train, and I went south into Texas. And then we stopped, and many-- we were allowed to go into Mexico, and many students bought tequila.
  • [00:02:46.54] So there were some drunken Michigan State students between Juarez, Mexico and Los Angeles. I didn't drink, so I wasn't a part of that crazy crowd, but knowing what I know today, I would hate to have had to chaperone such a group. I mean, it was wild. It was quite crazy.
  • [00:03:15.69] SPEAKER 1: Did you play any sports or join any other activities outside of school?
  • [00:03:19.92] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: Oh, yeah. At Michigan State or in high school?
  • [00:03:23.70] SPEAKER 1: Michigan State.
  • [00:03:24.60] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: Oh, I played on the hockey team. Girls field hockey team. I was the center forward and the right [? ender ?] on the field hockey team. And I traveled with the team, played in various games throughout the Midwest.
  • [00:03:45.16] SPEAKER 1: What about your school experience is different from school as you know it today?
  • [00:03:51.45] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: OK, are you talking about college, high school, or elementary?
  • [00:03:56.90] SPEAKER 1: Both.
  • [00:03:57.56] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: All of the above?
  • [00:03:58.57] SPEAKER 1: Yes, all of the above.
  • [00:04:03.05] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: If you could remember that I told you I went to school, elementary school-- I graduated from high school in 1955, and this was before the Civil Rights era. And I attended an all-white school. I was the first black to graduate from the Kettering school system. And it was just-- I was like a token that they weren't quite sure what to do with. And we got through it, you know? It was a growing experience that I've shared with many people in many places, what it was like growing up during that time when you were not sure of your true identity. It was different.
  • [00:05:01.12] SPEAKER 1: Please describe the popular music during your school years.
  • [00:05:10.13] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: My high school, being that that was, as I said, an all-white situation, when I arrived at Michigan State, many of my black friends said, you know, where are you coming from, because I didn't have that beat, you know, that blacks have, the automatic rhythm, which was somewhat of a challenge for me in many in my classes because I did a lot of square dancing and hokey pokey and what my friends called white dancing. That was a little different from the beat with-- and I had a roommate who would work with me for long hours saying, Shirley, you have got to get the beats. You just don't have it. So she tried to develop the black beat, and I'm not sure I have it yet today.
  • [00:06:07.84] SPEAKER 1: Did the music have any special dances associated with it?
  • [00:06:14.15] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: Oh, yeah. I talked about that yesterday. We did jerk. It looked like you were having seizures, you know, the jerk and mashed potatoes and Chubby Checkers and the twist. It was always fun dancing in the parties where you called dancing on a dime, where you just slow danced and didn't do a whole lot of moving, just danced in a very small space. And I remember those were like basement parties or fraternity parties that you were generally with your special person.
  • [00:06:53.86] SPEAKER 1: What were the proper clothing or hairstyles during your school years?
  • [00:06:58.67] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: Oh, the Afro. The Afro saved the black woman's life because that hair back then was a challenge. And you know, everybody couldn't have straight, wavy, curly hair. So those of us who were sort of in between-- and kinky hair became popular and faddish, you know? That was a great, great thing, because pressing and curling was the thing that we did, trying to get our hair to be controllable. Kinky was not in, wasn't faddish.
  • [00:07:40.08] SPEAKER 1: Can you describe any of other phase or styles from this era?
  • [00:07:46.15] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: Skirts and sweaters. Skirts and sweaters were the general clothes that we wore to school, campus. And then Pendleton skirts were plaid skirts, and they kept getting shorter. And then the length of the skirt got above the knees, and that was considered really fashionable. But you had to wear knee socks with them. You coordinated your colors with your plaid skirts and your knee socks and your matching cashmere sweaters and, you know, you were always coordinated. Jeans and sweatshirts and t-shirts, the way you kids are dressed today, was absolutely unheard of.
  • [00:08:34.86] SPEAKER 1: Were there any slang terms, phrases, or words used then that aren't really used today?
  • [00:08:41.36] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: I remember the word that I was discussing with my friends when we were trying to talk about some of the slang. And everything was [? copathetic, ?] or [? copathetic, ?] which means it was OK. It was really cool. Cool was used a lot. Cool was-- everything was cool. Cool chicks, cool dudes. If somebody was tight with somebody, that meant that you were real close. Real special.
  • [00:09:16.02] SPEAKER 1: What was a typical day like for you in this time period?
  • [00:09:23.60] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: Living at home, it was important that you did your chores. You had to do chores before you did anything else. And on Sunday, although my father wasn't a churchgoing person, if you didn't go to church, you didn't do anything, so that if you could not make it to church, you could forget about doing anything else that day. Sunday was also basically family day.
  • [00:09:51.71] Saturdays were movie days growing up. You always would take your quarter or your nickel and dime and go to the movie. And most of the movies that we saw were serial movies, so you had to go the next Saturday to find out what happened when he was right at the edge of the cliff, to find out that he was able to jump over the cliff. He never fell down the cliff, he always made it over. But the movie would stop just when he was halfway through.
  • [00:10:20.66] And Roy Rogers and Dale Evans were probably my favorite. They were married. Do you know who they are? Never heard of them? They were Western cowboys actors and actresses, who really were married in real life. And I always fashioned myself a Dale Evans because I loved to ride horses also.
  • [00:10:45.88] SPEAKER 1: What did you do for fun?
  • [00:10:47.94] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: Oh, ride horses. We'd do a lot of hiking and walking. I told you yesterday water was not an important part of our life because we didn't have-- although I lived across the road from the river, we didn't swim, so we weren't allowed to go near it. Oh, I played tennis. I played golf when I had to. I was very active in my church youth groups. I was a Y teen. That meant that I was part of the YWCA as a young teenager. Oh, and I was a candy striper, which meant that I volunteered in the hospitals and did little odd jobs around the hospital. That's about it.
  • [00:11:42.60] SPEAKER 1: Were there any special days, events, or family traditions you remember from this time?
  • [00:11:49.38] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: Special days were always the holidays. Family events, I'd have to think about that one for a minute.
  • [00:12:05.52] SPEAKER 1: Did your family have any special sayings or impressions during this time?
  • [00:12:10.14] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: Special sayings?
  • [00:12:11.40] SPEAKER 1: Yes.
  • [00:12:24.07] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: I have to think about that, too. I can almost hear my father repeating things at my mother, saying-- mother would quote the Bible a lot. You know, don't-- always, you know-- you'll reap what you sow and those kinds of things, making reference to the Bible and your behavior a lot. I can't quote any at the moment, but I will when I think about it for a minute.
  • [00:12:54.66] SPEAKER 1: Were there any changes in your family life during your school years?
  • [00:12:58.95] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: No. No. They remained a stable unit, thank goodness, for my whole year. And my mom and dad lived until my adult married life.
  • [00:13:15.41] SPEAKER 1: Which holidays did your family celebrate?
  • [00:13:20.39] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: The basic. Christmas, Easter, Mother's Day and Father's Day.
  • [00:13:30.38] SPEAKER 1: How are holidays traditionally celebrated in your family?
  • [00:13:34.36] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: Oh, and birthdays. Each of us was made special on your birthday. You got to make the choices of what was special about your birthday. My birthday was at Christmas, so I started a tradition that I could have my birthday, rather than share it with Jesus, just have your birthday whenever you want it.
  • [00:14:00.66] SPEAKER 1: Has your family created its own traditions and celebrations?
  • [00:14:06.63] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: No. No, I wish I would have done more with Kwanzaa with my own particular family, but I didn't. I didn't really know that much about it.
  • [00:14:20.37] SPEAKER 1: What special food traditions did your family have?
  • [00:14:23.45] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: Food?
  • [00:14:24.12] SPEAKER 1: Yes, food.
  • [00:14:26.63] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: My dad loved to barbecue. He loved to barbecue. And to him, to barbecue spare ribs, that was an all-day event, and something that-- we loved it. Barbecue and homemade ice cream, especially when we could pick the fresh fruit off of the blueberries and the mulberry bushes, and put them in-- oh, our ice cream freezer wasn't automatic, and there were five of us kids. And you had to take your turn sitting there churning.
  • [00:15:01.23] Have you ever seen an ice cream freezer back from the day? You had to sit and turn it for hours and hours and hours. And then the more you turned it, and you'd put salt around it to keep the ice from melting, and you could feel it getting harder and harder as the ice cream was freezing. So that was fun. It was fun eating it. It wasn't fun turning those handles.
  • [00:15:29.17] SPEAKER 1: Were any recipes preserved and passed down in your family from generation to generation?
  • [00:15:37.16] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: Yeah, I'm a great cook because my mother was a good cook. But my brother-- my mother-- oh, we also, living in the country, we also grew lots of our own vegetables. And we had gardens. And that was part of our chores and part of our growing up years, to tend the garden, particularly me. My sister and I tended the garden. My brothers helped my father with the golf course maintenance.
  • [00:16:09.02] But cooking vegetables, I could make some mean greens and beans, just like my mother. But I never learned quite how to make cornbread the way that she did on top of the stove, and fried pies. But my brother learned how to do that. But fast foods wasn't heard of back in the day, and we always ate very healthy meals, particularly from our gardens.
  • [00:16:42.93] SPEAKER 1: Are there any family stories connected to making special foods?
  • [00:16:47.72] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: Yeah, my mother used to make fried pies, and fruit that we picked from our fresh fruit, peaches and that. And you'd make them on the top of the stove. And I never learned how to do that, but my brother knows how to make fried pies.
  • [00:17:08.34] SPEAKER 1: When thinking 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?
  • [00:17:21.51] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: Historic events?
  • [00:17:22.81] SPEAKER 1: Yes.
  • [00:17:26.66] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: I think probably we were most affected historically by the Civil Rights Movement, living through that, being a part of it. I also remember historically going south with my grandmother. We would go into Cincinnati, and get on the train called the Hummingbird that takes you down into Tennessee, which is where we went.
  • [00:17:51.71] And once you left Cincinnati, you crossed the Mason and Dixon line. That's when you had to go to the back of the train and be in the colored section of the train to travel down into Tennessee. So historically, growing up and being a part of that, and traveling with my family, I could remember traveling in the South.
  • [00:18:21.63] My father was of mixed heritage. And we would go stop into restaurants, and he would go into the restaurant to bring the food out to the car to feed us because we couldn't go in. And historically, sharing that with my children and my grandchildren today, it's like what? What are you talking about, [? granny, ?] but you would see drinking fountains Colored Only and White Only, and bathrooms where you couldn't go. I mean, you just knew what your limitations were.
  • [00:18:57.50] SPEAKER 1: Now I want to ask you some questions about your relationship with national bodies of water when you were a child [INAUDIBLE], often associated with going to school in America. Question number one, did your family engage in any activities involving water when you were a child?
  • [00:19:13.69] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: No.
  • [00:19:15.44] SPEAKER 1: Did you engage in activities involving water during your school years?
  • [00:19:22.12] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: No.
  • [00:19:23.71] SPEAKER 1: Did you associate any feelings with water from this time in your life?
  • [00:19:28.88] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: From that time in my life?
  • [00:19:30.13] SPEAKER 1: Yes.
  • [00:19:35.88] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: I think I shared with you how exciting it was for me to learn to swim because we weren't exposed to water, and most of our schools did not have swimming pools, nor did I have an opportunity to learn to swim until I got to college. So that was a great event for me, to learn to swim.
  • [00:19:53.71] SPEAKER 1: So then you knew how to swim.
  • [00:19:55.63] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: And also to be able to-- I'm a physical education teacher. I had to get life training. I got certified to teach swimming, and that was really something, from not to learn to swim until I became an adult, a young adult.
  • [00:20:17.85] SPEAKER 1: This completes the session of questions about your school years. Thank you.
  • [00:20:21.71] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: OK.
  • [00:20:23.81] SPEAKER 1: This set of questions covers a fairly long period of your life, from the time you entered the labor force or started a family up to the present time [INAUDIBLE] work and retirement.
  • [00:20:36.97] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: We're talking about work and retirement?
  • [00:20:38.84] SPEAKER 1: Yes. So question number one, what was your main field of employment?
  • [00:20:45.83] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: Education. I was a teacher, a physical education teacher.
  • [00:20:50.61] SPEAKER 1: How did you first get started with this tradition, skill, or job?
  • [00:21:02.25] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: How did I get started? When I started school, when I first started school, I wanted to be a social worker. And after a few classes in that arena, I decided that wasn't me. That wasn't what I wanted to do all my life. I found it to be somewhat depressing. So I always, being a very athletic person, thought, huh, I might enjoy teaching physical education, which I did. I taught for 34.5 years, and I enjoyed every minute of it.
  • [00:21:41.02] SPEAKER 1: What got you interested in it?
  • [00:21:43.26] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: In physical education? In teaching?
  • [00:21:45.12] SPEAKER 1: Yes.
  • [00:21:46.43] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: Oh, I enjoyed working with young people. Many of my pre-work jobs were, like, children-oriented. I was a camp counselor. I worked on the playground as a playground leader. And I enjoyed doing those kinds of things. I enjoy working with young people.
  • [00:22:11.39] SPEAKER 1: Describe the steps of the process involved in your job from start to finish.
  • [00:22:18.65] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: From start to finish.
  • [00:22:19.69] SPEAKER 1: Yes.
  • [00:22:21.27] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: Meaning education?
  • [00:22:24.26] SPEAKER 1: Your job.
  • [00:22:25.07] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: My job. You start out being a teacher, and you go through your training, your four years of education. Then you do like an internship, or student teaching is what we called it, what it's called. And I student taught in Jackson, Michigan, where I had to live in the community for three months. And I taught at a junior high school under a supervising teacher. And then you complete your requirements and you go out and apply for a job.
  • [00:23:06.09] So my first job was at [? Condon ?] Middle School here in Detroit. And that was not a successful job because, as I mentioned earlier, I wasn't really, being a small town girl, prepared for teaching in an urban city. My students didn't do what the education classes said they should do, and that was do what your teacher tells you to do. And the talking back and saying profane things, I wasn't prepared for that.
  • [00:23:41.37] So I went back to Ohio, and I taught in a high school there. My husband joined the Marine Corps. And we traveled to California, and I substituted in the schools there. And it was an ethnic, diverse group of students that I worked with. And all this just helped me to grow professionally.
  • [00:24:07.04] So those experiences, and my playground experiences, and I was a camp counselor with the Campfire Girls, those experiences helped me to grow professionally as a teacher so that, by the time we came back to the Detroit area and I was placed in the urban environment again, I was prepared. My first teaching situation here was at Northwestern High School, and I loved it. I loved it. I loved every minute of it.
  • [00:24:39.81] SPEAKER 1: Where do you get your materials, supplies, or ingredients?
  • [00:24:43.09] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: Or?
  • [00:24:44.64] SPEAKER 1: Where did you get your materials, supplies, or ingredients from?
  • [00:24:49.83] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: They were board-supplied at that time, a lot different than it was today. We had plenty of equipment so that we ran a very wonderful physical education program.
  • [00:25:05.77] SPEAKER 1: How were they [INAUDIBLE]? Excuse me, my bad. How are they prepared?
  • [00:25:11.27] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: How were they prepared?
  • [00:25:12.41] SPEAKER 1: Yes.
  • [00:25:16.74] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: Let's say we taught physical education in the school, in the school day. Every student took a physical education class every day. For example, I remember here in Detroit, decathlon was an event that we had in the middle schools every spring. And you'd train your student in 10 track and field areas, and they took it very seriously. And we took our best students to Martin Luther King High School, and we competed against each other for medals. And kids loved that. They just loved it.
  • [00:26:00.38] SPEAKER 1: Have they changed over time?
  • [00:26:03.23] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: Oh, yes. And unfortunately, physical education now has taken a step back in most school systems. And you could tell by looking at our youth today that they're not as physically fit as they were. Rarely do you see children outside playing games anymore. As I mentioned earlier in the interview, too, my husband and I worked with Little League baseball. Never do you see kids out playing organized baseball anymore.
  • [00:26:34.96] SPEAKER 1: Why?
  • [00:26:36.59] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: I just think kids don't play. They're inside working their fingers and pushing buttons and playing games on the computer and all their other electronic games. Play and activities [? on the ?] athletic side have gone, and our youth are not as physically fit as they were. And you could tell by looking at most of them.
  • [00:27:03.80] SPEAKER 1: What was a typical day like during the working years of your adult life?
  • [00:27:10.62] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: Getting up first thing in the morning, preparing breakfast, maybe packing lunches when my children were in elementary school, because they would prefer taking a lunch rather than eating the school lunches. In the evenings, after school, everybody had activities. And you had to be prepared to do a superwoman job to get everybody where they needed to be on time with one car, and then do your own thing, which was cooking, cleaning, and taking care of your household.
  • [00:27:54.51] SPEAKER 1: What specific training or skills were needed for your job?
  • [00:28:07.26] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: You often hear people say, oh, you're just a gym teacher, all you do is throw out a ball and teach children how to play. But most of my classes that I took at Michigan State, my science classes were all taken with the medical students. Not only did we have to teach the activity, you had to learn what particular parts of your bodies were involved in teaching of that particular sport.
  • [00:28:35.43] We learned all the muscles and the bones and the systems of the body, and how it worked. So we had anatomy, kinesiology, and all the other ologies along with the medical students. So it's more than just play. It's how the body works and how the body performs and what happens to your body during activity.
  • [00:28:58.40] SPEAKER 1: What tools are involved in this?
  • [00:29:00.63] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: I'm sorry?
  • [00:29:01.11] SPEAKER 1: What tools are involved in this job that you had?
  • [00:29:04.02] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: What tools?
  • [00:29:04.86] SPEAKER 1: Yes, tools.
  • [00:29:08.58] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: The tools of the trade, your athletic equipment that you needed. And then you also had the tools of interacting with the students, to be able to talk with them in a group, to move large groups of students safely during an activity, to keep all of your activity interesting so you didn't lose them, to involve the non-athletic students, as well as those of special needs.
  • [00:29:41.58] I had many tools. And then my own special tools that you develop along the way that made your style of teaching a little more unique so that students related to what you wanted to do, wanted them to do. You found your own special ways of being creative.
  • [00:30:02.55] SPEAKER 1: How and when were they used?
  • [00:30:08.95] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: On a daily basis, and every classroom was different. So you'd develop a style to meet that particular need of the day. Many of my classes would involve those students that were in special ed, along with the regular ed students. And you just had to be diverse enough to meet the needs of each individual student. I was a huggy, feely, squeezy teacher. I liked my hands on students. And I know today many students don't like for you to touch them or to invade their spaces, so that's a little bit different.
  • [00:31:04.37] SPEAKER 1: What technology changes occurred during your working years?
  • [00:31:11.04] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: The changes were primarily computer-related. I remember the day the computer was introduced, and we had to go to special classes to learn how to use the computer. And the computer was a great, big, huge thing. And I, being in physical education, didn't really see a need why I had to be computer trained, so I really didn't pay the attention that I should have because I had to catch up with the 21st century a little late to become technically involved.
  • [00:31:51.90] SPEAKER 1: What is the biggest difference in your main field of employment from the time you started until now?
  • [00:32:00.87] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: Well, like I said, physical education has taken a step back from where it was when I was involved, and people just don't see it as important as they need to, because in order to be a complete person, you need to be physically complete and physically active in order to meet all your goals mentally.
  • [00:32:32.58] SPEAKER 1: How do you judge excellence within your field?
  • [00:32:40.66] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: How do I judge excellence. Being able to participate, being able to win and lose gracefully, being proud of what you accomplish, and just to be an all-around sport.
  • [00:33:02.93] SPEAKER 1: What makes someone respect-- excuse me, what makes someone respect in that field?
  • [00:33:10.24] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: What makes you respect?
  • [00:33:12.75] SPEAKER 1: What makes someone, in general.
  • [00:33:16.45] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: OK, I'm not quite understanding.
  • [00:33:19.31] SPEAKER 1: What makes someone respected in that field?
  • [00:33:22.19] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: Oh, what makes someone respected in--
  • [00:33:24.08] SPEAKER 1: Yes.
  • [00:33:25.94] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: Oh, well look how you feel about Tiger Woods. How do you know? That he's just somebody that you look up to. [INAUDIBLE] young people who are interested in golf, or the girls who play tennis. You know, when someone excels in that particular sport, you look up to them and you want to be like them, or you want your children to be like them.
  • [00:34:01.20] SPEAKER 1: What do you value most about what you did for your living?
  • [00:34:08.73] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: What I like the most today is like if I'm walking in a mall or in Eastern Market or some supermarket, and a young person comes up to me and they will say, you were my teacher, and I remember when, and I remember, and they share some particular event that happened, or they give me big hugs and tell me how-- just that they remember me. That, to me, is more rewarding than any amount of money I was ever paid during my teaching career.
  • [00:34:44.80] SPEAKER 1: Why?
  • [00:34:47.41] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: Well, it just means a lot to you to have young-- it means a lot as an educator that young people, being that I've been retired as long as I have, still remember you. You feel like you made an impact on many, many lives. You just feel like you made a difference. And I think I did. I hope I did.
  • [00:35:13.16] SPEAKER 1: Tell me about any moves you made during your working years and retirement before your decision to move to your current [INAUDIBLE].
  • [00:35:24.81] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: My current?
  • [00:35:26.59] SPEAKER 1: Your current [INAUDIBLE].
  • [00:35:37.30] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: I knew when it was time to retire because I said that I always enjoyed what I was doing. And after 35 years, much of the joy that I was feeling early on, I think I had gotten to a point that I was getting tired. And I knew it was time to come home, to try something different, and to maybe think about me. I never really did a lot of time with just me.
  • [00:36:17.47] SPEAKER 1: How do you come to live in your current [INAUDIBLE]?
  • [00:36:21.18] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: My current residence?
  • [00:36:22.47] SPEAKER 1: Yes. Residence. Yes.
  • [00:36:30.27] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: I'm not quite sure how to answer that.
  • [00:36:34.37] SPEAKER 1: [INAUDIBLE] how do you come to live around Detroit?
  • [00:36:42.46] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: OK. My husband and I came back to Detroit after he completed his tour in the Marine Corps. And he got a job here with Merrill Lynch, and I got a job teaching. And we are still living in the family home where we raised our three children. And that's for 44 years, we're still in the same house. And for the first time, we're thinking about maybe downsizing and maybe condo living, which will be a real step down because I've got tons of stuff that I'll need to get rid of or downsize. So that's a whole new phase of your life that you have to prepare for.
  • [00:37:35.98] SPEAKER 1: How did you feel about your current living situation?
  • [00:37:43.71] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: My current living situation is, like I said, I'm still in our family home. And it might be time to think of living in a smaller space. My husband and I are snowbirds. We love to go south in the wintertime. And it would be nice just to close the door and go and not worry about who's watering my flowers.
  • [00:38:12.19] SPEAKER 1: And now we will start with the questions about your retirement years to the present time. Question number one, how does your family life change for you when you and/or your husband retired and all the children left home?
  • [00:38:31.54] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: Hm. That was a very different time. I found that my husband and I had a lot of time for each other that we hadn't had during those years between children and getting married. And each other became important again because we had time for each other, and we had time to go on dates, and we had money to do just about anything we wanted to do.
  • [00:39:02.42] And it was and has been just a real enjoyable time. I love my children dearly, and I'm glad they each all have their own homes and we now have ours. And the grandchildren come and go, but they stay over on occasion, but they go home.
  • [00:39:26.39] SPEAKER 1: What is a typical day in your life currently?
  • [00:39:31.01] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: I love working in my garden. I love doing what I want to-- I only do what I want to do when I want to do it. And that is a great part of your life. It's totally different. You don't-- every day is Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays. I don't have many Mondays. And then it's Friday again. So it's just a different way of life. And then the 25th of every month, I have a whole lot of money in the bank, and I didn't have to do anything to put it there.
  • [00:40:17.83] SPEAKER 1: What does your family enjoy doing together now?
  • [00:40:20.77] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: Oh, we still love traveling together. We love being in the backyard, cookouts together. Family potlucks, that's always fun. My family is ethnically diverse. So by the time you get the Filipinos and the Hispanics and the blacks together, we have lots of fun potlucks.
  • [00:40:47.26] SPEAKER 1: What are your personal favorite things to do for fun?
  • [00:40:50.08] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: For fun?
  • [00:40:50.86] SPEAKER 1: Yes, for fun.
  • [00:40:52.09] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: Oh, I love to read. I never worked a jigsaw puzzle in my life until I retired, so the first year of retirement I think I must have put together about 200 or 300 puzzles. And I've gone from 500 pieces to thousands. So to me, that's a big challenge, to be able to put a puzzle together.
  • [00:41:19.26] Or to sit up-- oh, I used to love to watch Ted Koppel. To me, to be able to watch Ted Koppel on Sunday night on late TV was something I couldn't do because I had to get up early and go to work. But to watch late TV, that's great. And get up whenever you want.
  • [00:41:41.10] SPEAKER 1: Are there any special days, events, or family traditions you especially enjoy at this time in your life?
  • [00:41:51.76] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: I enjoy all of them. Christmas is just always fun. We still celebrate birthdays. And I enjoy everything. I enjoy life.
  • [00:42:04.56] SPEAKER 1: When thinking of your life after retirement or your kids left home to the present, what important social or historical events were taking place, and how did they personally affect you and your family?
  • [00:42:22.39] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: Well, the most-- well, I was going to say the election of Obama, but that's been most recently. That's an historical event that my grandchildren will always remember, and our first Afro-American president. Just historically speaking, having to be able to do what you want to comfortably I think is an important part of being happily retired.
  • [00:43:01.56] SPEAKER 1: When thinking back on your life, what important social historical event had the greatest impact?
  • [00:43:15.22] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: Civil rights. Absolutely civil rights. To have lived through that, to physically have heard and participated in some of the marches, and to have heard Martin Luther King and all the other-- well, I'm not real fond of many of the other leaders, but Martin Luther King I was, yes.
  • [00:43:48.56] SPEAKER 1: What family heirlooms or keepsakes do you [INAUDIBLE]?
  • [00:43:54.49] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: Do I possess?
  • [00:43:55.44] SPEAKER 1: Yeah, possess. Possess.
  • [00:43:58.39] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: Oh, I've got lots of those. I'm the keeper of all the family pictures, which I must start dispersing with some of my other siblings and my children. I have all the family photographs. In my living room, I have a wall that I call my heritage wall. It's David's family and my family. And many of the photographs are very old, and they're in antique picture frames, which are the oval frames and different shaped frames than the modern frames of today.
  • [00:44:36.31] I have many antiques that-- and I could have had more, but when my grandmother and many relatives were dying and breaking up households when I was younger, I didn't understand the value of those keepsakes. And I didn't have the knowledge that I have today. And I try to share that with my children, but they call a lot of my stuff junk, and they just don't realize the value of history and in keeping old things, which will mean a lot to you later in life.
  • [00:45:14.29] SPEAKER 1: Why are they valuable to you?
  • [00:45:17.11] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: Because they belonged to my family, and they belonged-- they were a historical part of my growing up. I have a ring that my father gave me that belonged to his mother. And you know, this means a lot to me, and I'll pass it on to one of my girls. And I hope it'll mean a lot to her.
  • [00:45:42.79] SPEAKER 1: Thinking back on your entire life, what are you most proud of?
  • [00:45:51.34] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: That's a hard question.
  • [00:45:52.60] SPEAKER 1: Take your time.
  • [00:45:54.19] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: Oh, I'm proud of my family, I'm proud of my marriage, I'm proud of all my accomplishments. My husband and I will celebrate 50 years together, and very soon, we hope. To be able to live with somebody 50 years happily, that's quite a lot to be proud of. I'm proud of my three boys, and I'm real proud and happy about my six grandchildren. I'm proud of all my academic and social accomplishments. That's it, in a nutshell.
  • [00:46:42.16] SPEAKER 1: What would you say has changed most from the time you were my age to now?
  • [00:46:51.70] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: The world. The world has gotten a lot smaller because we're able to travel greater distances. I would say where the United States is in the worldwide grand scheme of things. I'm not sure we're the greatest world power that we were, that I thought we were growing up, because you think China and Japan now owns most of this country.
  • [00:47:23.54] I'm not happy about the physical condition of the average youth today. You know, it's not as physically fit as we were growing up because everything now is fast foods, and the diets are just not as good as we had. And we were far more physically active because we walked or rode our bikes where we had to go.
  • [00:47:53.59] SPEAKER 1: What advice would you give to my generation?
  • [00:47:59.01] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: Get your education, pay attention to your bodies, develop your minds, strive to always be the best you could be in whatever it is that you want to do. But take care of your body, because it's got a long way to go and you don't want to outlive your body, and to be an older person and to have a body that can't keep up with what you want to do.
  • [00:48:30.29] SPEAKER 1: Is there anything you would like to add that I haven't asked about?
  • [00:48:37.22] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: Nothing that comes to mind. I just wish I could have, on several occasions, given better answers. They'll probably come to me in the middle of the night, and I'll call you up and tell you.
  • [00:48:54.66] SPEAKER 1: [INAUDIBLE] pause for a minute.
  • [00:48:58.16] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: In the city of Dayton. So I mean, where I lived was white, but we drove into the city to be a part of the black church.
  • [00:49:09.41] SPEAKER 2: So the church was the connection, really.
  • [00:49:11.06] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: The church and my social connections.
  • [00:49:15.14] SPEAKER 2: Well, you've heard what [INAUDIBLE] we don't have any of that on camera. So do you feel you could lead this discussion, [? Jamar? ?]
  • [00:49:22.35] SPEAKER 1: Yes, I will.
  • [00:49:23.08] SPEAKER 2: Great. Thank you.
  • [00:49:23.94] SPEAKER 1: So during this time, during your time about the civil rights, how did you actually get your information about the civil rights marching, you know, [INAUDIBLE] Martin Luther King and everything, since right now we can go on Twitter, we go on Facebook? You know, we go on the internet, we have [INAUDIBLE]. So how did you get your information?
  • [00:49:46.73] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: Our connection back in the day was through your churches, mainly. I lived in a rural community, and my community where I lived was all white. In order to be involved in my church, we had to go into the city of Dayton, Ohio, where my church was very influential in like the local elections.
  • [00:50:17.86] And when it was time to elect the mayors or the various city councilpeople, and they would ask that you march or participate or, you know, to be in any of these freedom movements that they solicited us through the church, and also why I was part of the Y teams, which was a part of the YMCA.
  • [00:50:48.10] And then my social group was the [? Deltines. ?] I was also involved in a young group of young women that was sponsored by the Delta Sigma Theta sorority. And we were called [? Deltines. ?] And that, I guess, was also a networking situation.
  • [00:51:12.28] SPEAKER 1: When you were participating in marching for civil rights [INAUDIBLE], did you get [INAUDIBLE] there were people who were actually saying racial slurs about you or [INAUDIBLE]?
  • [00:51:28.02] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: Did I feel frightened?
  • [00:51:29.20] SPEAKER 1: Yes. Threatened.
  • [00:51:30.79] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: Threatened?
  • [00:51:31.36] SPEAKER 1: Yeah.
  • [00:51:38.83] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: I sometimes was not real comfortable, yes. I could remember, and I think I mentioned to you, when we were traveling across the country and there was no place for us to stop, and we had to sleep in the car. And we were in the middle of Wyoming or South Dakota or North Dakota, one of those places. It was somewhat frightening. It was frightening to go into a restaurant and have somebody come screaming up to you, we don't serve you people in here. That was very demeaning. And yeah, it was frightening.
  • [00:52:22.72] SPEAKER 1: What was your reaction when someone said we don't serve your people? What was their excuse? Were you mad, sad? Did you want to punch someone in the face or something like that?
  • [00:52:34.39] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: I was somewhat of a reactionary person. I never got in trouble by being physically-- but no, I think I was angry. But you knew what your limitations were. You know, I was far outnumbered, and I wasn't going to get into a verbal confrontation with somebody that I knew I had no chance of winning. But it was a very demeaning time. I mean, you felt like maybe second-rate citizens or something.
  • [00:53:13.51] Thank goodness I had a strong support system, like my family and church and everything else, that my ego wasn't completely shattered. But you wondered, what's wrong here? Why can't we have the same rights as the other people? Why do I have to ride on the back of the bus? And why do I have to go to a special part of that hummingbird train?
  • [00:53:40.18] SPEAKER 1: Also during the Civil Rights Movement, were there any cops that was trying to arrest you and your family?
  • [00:53:53.48] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: No. At the area where I lived, we had a local Sheriff, and he often watched us very carefully. But I think he was more afraid of my father than he was anybody else in that area. Because I think my dad would have seriously hurt him had he done anything out of the way. We just never put ourselves in harm's way, you know? We knew that there's certain parts of the town that you didn't go into. There's certain areas-- you went to the colored movies. You didn't go downtown to the movie. Just you didn't put yourself in the position where you might be hurt. Can you imagine that?
  • [00:54:53.34] SPEAKER 1: I've never been in that situation, but--
  • [00:54:55.09] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: No, I'm just saying, can you imagine that there would be a part of Detroit that you could not physically go if you so chose? Or a movie theater that you couldn't go into if you wanted to? Or roller skating rink that you couldn't go to? I remember, as a young person, when it was career day at my high school, they took a group of young girls to the store for career day.
  • [00:55:25.66] And we went to a training. All my friends that I was with was white. They took them to the store level to give them a job in the selling cosmetics or lingerie. They took me to the mezzanine and gave me one of those little dust pans and a broom and told me I was to sweep up the mezzanine. And I remember, to this day, just like it was yesterday, I told the woman, I said, I can't do that. My family would not approve of me doing that.
  • [00:56:00.07] I came in here with [? whites, ?] with a group of girls from my school. Why couldn't I have the same opportunities they did? And you know, they never did explain it to me. But they got jobs selling, and they wanted me to do a job cleaning up. So I chose not to do it.
  • [00:56:23.66] SPEAKER 1: This ends the interview with your work and retirement years and the civil rights movement. Thank you, Ms. Northcross.
  • [00:56:29.90] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: OK. You're welcome. Thank you.
  • [00:56:39.06] SPEAKER 1: Call about your family history. We will start with naming history. By this, means any story about your last or family name or family traditions in choosing first or middle names. Question one, do you know any stories about your family name?
  • [00:56:59.86] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: My family name is Garrett, and I only know that Garrett is French for attic. Not other than that. And I do know my grandfather was a chauffeur, and he had a passport and traveled extensively over Europe as-- I did not know him personally, but as I read his passport and his journal. And he spelled his name-- I'm not sure if he was-- I don't know if he was educated or not, but he spelled his-- I think he didn't spell his name properly. But maybe it was how he chose to spell it-- G-A-R-E-T. And I grew up spelling my family name G-A-R-R-E-T-T.
  • [00:57:58.32] SPEAKER 1: Are there any naming traditions in your family?
  • [00:58:05.66] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: I use my maiden name as one of my children's middle name. I thought Mark Garrett Northcross sounded pretty like a nice name. Also, my father's name, Randall, was a middle name that we have used, again, in my family's name, my boys' names, yes.
  • [00:58:34.85] SPEAKER 1: That's nice. All right, why did your ancestors leave to come to the United States?
  • [00:58:48.07] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: Why did my ancestors need to come to the United States? I think my ancestors, according to history, came here not of their own free will. According to history, as it's written, my black ancestors came here as slaves. And they did not choose to come here. They were enslaved.
  • [00:59:13.96] My Indian ancestors were already here, and I guess I have Caucasian ancestors, too, since I'm not pure black and I have green eyes. So I assume that's where that came from. And so I'm not sure why they came. They came of choice. The Caucasian part of my family chose to come. The Africans did not choose to come, and the Indians were already here.
  • [00:59:46.28] SPEAKER 1: Do you know any stories about how your family first came to the United States?
  • [00:59:57.14] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: Not firsthand, no.
  • [01:00:00.83] SPEAKER 1: How did they make a living, either in the old country or in the United States?
  • [01:00:07.52] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: Historically, my ancestors were probably farmers and farmed and worked on plantations.
  • [01:00:20.07] SPEAKER 1: What belongings did they bring with them?
  • [01:00:28.06] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: Probably nothing.
  • [01:00:29.82] SPEAKER 1: Why?
  • [01:00:31.96] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: I'm only repeating the African heritage that I know, because they came here as captured as captured and indentured servants, and they probably weren't allowed to bring much of nothing.
  • [01:00:48.88] SPEAKER 1: To your knowledge, did they try to preserve any traditions or customs from their country of origin?
  • [01:01:07.46] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: I think the way we eat and some of the vegetables that we like and that we prefer to eat, a lot of those are historically of African origin. And I only learned that later in life, because I had an exchange student who lived with me who was an African from Monrovia. And he didn't like anything that my family liked, like the Mexican pizzas and the other things that we historically eat now.
  • [01:01:44.66] But he found, by going to the market with me once, that collard greens were very close to his cassava plant and the kinds of things that he ate traditionally back in Africa. So I would say our yams and our collard greens and those things are probably-- lots of vegetables.
  • [01:02:08.14] SPEAKER 1: Describe any family migration once they arrive in the United States and how they came to live in this area.
  • [01:02:22.84] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: Well, I can't really do that, because as I said, I think, historically, our people came here as slaves. We did not choose to come.
  • [01:02:39.66] SPEAKER 1: Are there traditions that your family has given up or changed?
  • [01:02:51.07] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: I don't think so, no.
  • [01:02:53.72] SPEAKER 1: Why?
  • [01:02:57.24] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: I'm not real sure on how to answer that.
  • [01:03:02.68] SPEAKER 1: What stories have come down to you about your parents and grandparents?
  • [01:03:10.06] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: Oh. I wish that I, as a young girl, when listening to grandparents talk and attending family gatherings, I wish I had the knowledge that I had today, and I would have recorded, physically recorded, made tapes and movies and things, so that I can remember and would have those to pass on to my children. But musically, my mother's family was very involved in the church, and my grandfather played a guitar.
  • [01:03:46.87] And historically, the family would sit around, and Grandpa would play his guitar, and everybody would sing. And that was what would happen at family gatherings and that. They didn't have a lot of money, and probably before television and radio. And that and they would entertain themselves by singing, mostly spirituals, and Grandpa would play the guitar. And other family members would play-- they called it the juice harp-- the harmonica.
  • [01:04:26.10] And my mother's family's from Tennessee. They'd play the washtub, and we'd enjoy hearing stories how they would just improvise and make music on instruments. I mean like a washtub or a comb or something that would just make music. And my mother was not trained, musically trained, but she could sing and play the piano just from hearing, just from listening to the music.
  • [01:04:58.11] SPEAKER 1: Do you know any courtship stories?
  • [01:05:02.11] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: Courtship?
  • [01:05:02.80] SPEAKER 1: Yes.
  • [01:05:10.11] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: To do with my ancestors? Ancestors or--
  • [01:05:14.78] SPEAKER 1: Just ancestors or family?
  • [01:05:21.51] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: None that come to mind off hand. What always fascinated me was that my family was from a place in Tennessee, my mother's family. And it's a little place called Haley. And I went to visit there not too long ago. And off down the road is another little area called Bugscuffle, and it's-- I have an aunt who still is 89 or 90 years old, and I went back to visit. And the whole family is from that area.
  • [01:06:03.78] And brothers who married sisters-- four or five brothers would marry four or five sisters, and then they would become double first cousins or something like that. I never fully understood how that happened. They didn't intermarry each other, but four or five brothers from one family would marry four or five brothers from another family-- sisters. And then they would all be related somehow. But I thought that was interesting.
  • [01:06:38.07] SPEAKER 1: This summer camp at the YMCA was made possible in part by a grant from a private foundation that's interested in people's relationship to national bodies of water, such as oceans, lakes, rivers, and streams. So throughout our interview, I will be asking you some questions about how you have interacted with water at each stage of your life.
  • [01:07:04.72] Since, right now, we are going to be talking about your family history, I will ask you about what you know about how any of your family or ancestors related to water. Remember, all these questions are voluntary, so you don't have to answer all them. You can just decline if you want to.
  • [01:07:22.95] All right, first question. Did your parents or grandparents or anyone in your family history make a living working on the water?
  • [01:07:35.22] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: Working on the water? No, I would say not, no.
  • [01:07:44.00] SPEAKER 1: Why?
  • [01:07:45.74] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: My grandfather made his living by a chauffeur. He worked for a very wealthy Caucasian family. My father made his living-- he managed a golf course in southern Ohio. And prior to that, family members, I think, were farmers. I don't think that they worked. They were from Tennessee and Kentucky, and they did not really relate to the water.
  • [01:08:22.65] SPEAKER 1: Did anyone in your family's history like to do activities involving the water, like swimming or fishing or boating?
  • [01:08:30.71] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: Oh, yeah, sure. I mentioned in my interview yesterday that I lived on a golf-- I grew up in southern Ohio. I lived on a golf course. Across the road from the golf course was a river called the Miami View. Miami View was the name of the golf course that I lived on. And it was called Miami View because there was a river across the road, and the river was the Miami River.
  • [01:09:04.37] We were not supposed to, as young children, go near the river, because we didn't know how to swim. And we swimming wasn't a part of our education. As I said yesterday, I didn't learn to swim till I went to college. But we used to like to fish and to just watch the river.
  • [01:09:30.04] SPEAKER 1: Did anyone in your family history have [? chores ?] involving water that were handed down to you?
  • [01:09:39.46] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: No. No. I can't answer why. I just water-- other than the Miami River, we didn't live near the water, like we are here in Michigan, near the Great Lakes and the Detroit River. Southern Ohio doesn't have a lot of lakes, and they're all man-made. There no natural lakes in the state of Ohio. All the lakes in Ohio are man-made. And we were far from the ocean. So water was not a part of our life, an interesting part of our life.
  • [01:10:27.23] SPEAKER 1: This part of the interview is about your childhood, up until you began attending school. Even if these questions jog memories about other times in your life, please only respond with memories from this earliest parts of your life. Now, question number one, where did you grow up?
  • [01:10:49.24] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: Where?
  • [01:10:49.90] SPEAKER 1: Yes, where?
  • [01:10:51.50] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: Dayton, Ohio.
  • [01:10:54.36] SPEAKER 1: What are your strongest memories of that place?
  • [01:11:02.67] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: My strongest memories are-- I keep referring back to the golf course. But my strongest memories are living on a golf course and what an unusual life that was. In the wintertime, it was a very rural setting. There were only two farms on our road near our golf course. So there were no people around.
  • [01:11:27.12] And if the snow was real bad-- I went to school on a yellow bus, a school bus that came down the road to pick us up to take us into our school. And if it snowed bad, the bus couldn't come down the road, so I didn't get to go to school. And we used to pray for snow a lot. And in the summertime, living on golf course, was really fun, particularly around August. That was when we had our big tournaments.
  • [01:12:03.00] This was the only golf course in this part of Dayton that Afro-Americans or colored people-- or Negroes, as they were called back then-- were allowed to play. So I remember as a young person, growing up, very famous people like Joe Lewis sitting at my breakfast table. And he used to love my mother's biscuits. And he would always come to the Miami View open every August. And Sarah Bond, Joe Lewis, Richard Price-- [INAUDIBLE] and his brother. I can't remember their names.
  • [01:12:44.01] But we'd have lots of celebrity people who would come to play golf. And I taught junior golf growing up. And I don't like golf to this day for that reason, because I had to live and sleep golf all summer. It was like my job.
  • [01:13:03.28] SPEAKER 1: How did your family come to live there?
  • [01:13:07.44] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: I never really quite understood that. My father somehow got this job managing a golf course. And I don't know. I made up my own story about how that happened because of his heritage. My father never talked-- my father was biracial. And I just think that his-- somehow, he ended up with this great job that no other black person or Afro-American or Negro in Ohio or Dayton had at that time. And I just somehow think he had a magic appointment that had something to do with somebody that knew who he was.
  • [01:14:02.94] SPEAKER 1: What was your house like?
  • [01:14:06.87] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: My house was-- as I think about our homes today, there were-- I had two sisters and two brothers, so we had five children. All the girls shared a bedroom, and the boys shared a bedroom. And we had one bathroom in our whole house. And you think about today, how do you manage with one bathroom?
  • [01:14:32.88] And I could remember that my brother's job was to-- when we had to heat our house with the coal furnace, my brother's job was to-- and if he ever forgot it, he would really get in trouble-- stoke the furnace. You had to do something special to the coal furnace at night to make sure that it ran all night and it did what it was supposed to do as far as heating the radiators, which heated your house.
  • [01:15:03.63] And we also had ice boxes, and the iceman-- yes, the iceman did come to our house. And you would buy ice in great big chunks and put it in the ice box. It was quite different. And the ice box-- the other stuff, you put in the top. We walked down the road to the neighboring farm twice a week to get milk from Mrs. Baker, who ran the farm, who had a farm.
  • [01:15:35.64] And you know, she would milk her cows, and we'd take our big jugs to get fresh milk. And then the cream would come to the top, and your mama would pour the cream off the top for coffee and making ice cream. And homemade ice cream was a great treat. Remember I told you about the river across the road from the golf course? And along the river are all kinds of blueberry bushes, and we'd go around and pick the blueberries and throw those in the ice cream, and boy was that a treat.
  • [01:16:13.33] My father was a great hunter, so in the summertime-- in the wintertime, he didn't work, because the golf course was closed, so he would hunt. He used to go to Michigan and Pennsylvania and various places, and he would hunt deer and bear. And I remember one winter, he came home with the little fuzzy ball, and it was a bear cub. Someone had shot the mother bear, and so my dad brought home this little fuzzy ball, and it was a bear. And we called it Annie.
  • [01:16:49.27] And by the summer, Annie had grown to about this big. And my dad taught Annie how to swing a golf club. And Annie, we found out later, was not a Annie. She was a he. So the newspapers did lots of stories on how dangerous it was to play golf with a bear. My dad had it muzzled, but still, people didn't like to come around a bear that kept growing and growing and growing.
  • [01:17:20.59] And when I tell people I had a pet bear, they never believe that story, but I have pictures to back it up. But eventually, we had to give Annie up to the circus.
  • [01:17:32.33] SPEAKER 1: How many people lived in the house with you? And when you were growing up, what was your relationship with them?
  • [01:17:42.14] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: Oh, other than my brothers and sisters? And my grandmother lived with us for many years. During those times, many people my age, their grandparents would live with you. And your grandparents were an important part of your life growing up.
  • [01:17:59.57] My brothers and sisters-- I had two brothers and two sisters. Oh, I know another interesting part of growing up. My father also would go to the Dayton workhouse every day to pick up his prisoners who work the golf course. And these were people who didn't do nothing. To go to the workhouse, you did, like, not serious crime. You were maybe drunk and disorderly or you didn't pay a ticket or something.
  • [01:18:35.41] But he had a regular crew that came every day that cut the grass and tended to the various chores around the golf course. And so many of these people, every summer, would make a point of doing whatever they did to get in the workhouse, because they wanted to be on my father's work gang.
  • [01:18:57.79] SPEAKER 1: What language was spoken in or around your household?
  • [01:19:03.10] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: English. And very particular English. My parents were not educated, not college educated, but they specifically did stress the point that we had to be educated. And we were not allowed to speak in slang or incorrect English.
  • [01:19:27.50] SPEAKER 1: Were different languages spoken in different settings, such as at home or in your neighborhood or at local stores?
  • [01:19:38.31] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: No. No.
  • [01:19:42.62] SPEAKER 1: What was your family like when you were a child?
  • [01:19:47.88] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: What were they like? We were very family oriented. I remember the first television we got was about this big, and it was like a Philco or something. I think a Philco. And before television, we entertained ourselves with family games. We played a lot of games, and we played a lot of cards and Old Maid and Monopoly. We did family games.
  • [01:20:17.13] And then television was big then, and we were allowed to watch television, to watch around evening time, after you got your homework done.
  • [01:20:33.69] SPEAKER 1: What sort of work did your father and mother do?
  • [01:20:39.18] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: Excuse me. My mother worked-- was just a housewife, and my father ran the golf course. We had a pro shop attached to the golf course. In the summertime, my mother worked in the pro shop, and so did I as I got older and could make change and ring the cash register.
  • [01:21:01.14] SPEAKER 1: What is your earliest memory?
  • [01:21:10.64] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: I don't have too many memories prior to maybe four or five years old. I don't remember.
  • [01:21:18.84] SPEAKER 1: Can you tell us what was your earliest memory when you were four or five? Any memories?
  • [01:21:29.01] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: I remember that Christmas was always a magic time at my house. Seems like we just had such wonderful Christmases. And I remember one Christmas-- and I must have been about four or five years old-- that we had twinkling Christmas tree lights that twinkled off and on, twinkling lights. And I remember getting a round dollhouse, a dollhouse that was circular.
  • [01:21:58.23] And my brothers had an electric train that went all around the house. The train just ran around the outer parts of the house. And it smoked and did all that.
  • [01:22:14.18] SPEAKER 1: What was a [? tropical ?] day like for you in your preschool years?
  • [01:22:24.54] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: I don't really remember years much before-- I remember having the measles. And I remember also having the chicken pox and how miserable that was. I can remember also pre-school years and we had a sled, and one of the hills on the golf course-- my mom took us all out one day, pre-school years, in this red sled to teach us how to go sledding.
  • [01:23:00.96] SPEAKER 1: What did you do for fun?
  • [01:23:04.97] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: Oh, did lots of outside stuff. In the summertime, the fun was always centered around-- oh, one of the things that we did that was fun was that at night, living on the golf course, the sprinklers would water the golf course. And my brothers and I would get cans, and we would go around, after my dad had watered, and collect night crawlers, which were great big worms.
  • [01:23:37.64] And we'd have us set up our stands along the road by the river. Because when the fishermen came to fish, they would love to give us a quarter for a can of night crawlers. That was good. And we also picked dandelion greens, and we'd sell those along the road, too, for, like, a nickel and dime. That was a big fun, to pick dandelion greens.
  • [01:24:03.14] And we'd catch lightning bugs at night. Did you ever catch lightning bugs and pull the bug part off of it and make diamonds on all your fingers and make your fingers sparkle? Also, I remember 4th of July, and I can almost smell that smell, to this day, of-- my dad was always do a firework display in the middle of the golf course for all the children around. We lived in a rural community, so everybody would come to the golf course and get a chair and sit and watch the fireworks.
  • [01:24:42.37] So my dad would go to the middle of the golf course and set off all these rockets and all these things. But I always hated that smell. The smell was just nauseating, of fireworks being exploded.
  • [01:24:58.59] SPEAKER 1: Did you have any favorite toys, games, books, or other entertainment?
  • [01:25:04.82] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: Oh, I loved to read. I would love to read. I read incessantly. And as I got older, my mother would leave me in charge of the children when she had to go, my brothers and sisters. I was the oldest, and I would be left in charge. And sometimes I would mistreat them, because rather than watch them, I'd put them in the closet so I could read while she was gone. I know that wasn't the thing to do now, but that's what I did, because I loved reading.
  • [01:25:39.99] And I loved reading the series novels that went on and on and on forever. And we had Little [? Cushman-- ?] not motorcycles, but they were called [? Cushman-- ?] what are those things? They're like little junior motorcycles. I had one, and my brother had one, and we'd ride all over the golf course on those.
  • [01:26:12.40] Oh, I know what else we used to do that was fun, too. Down the road from the golf course where I lived was a riding stable, and we loved to ride horses, especially riding bareback.
  • [01:26:25.66] SPEAKER 1: Were there any special days, events, or family traditions you remember from your early childhood years?
  • [01:26:38.17] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: No. Every day was just special. Every day was fun growing up.
  • [01:26:44.51] SPEAKER 1: Now I'm going to ask you questions about your relationship with natural bodies of water during your earliest childhood years. What is your earliest memory of a body of water, such as the ocean, lake, or river?
  • [01:27:01.60] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: Well, I lived across the road from a river. That was the Miami River. Probably my earliest memory of water was on a family trip south, when we drove to Cincinnati and across-- the Ohio River, probably was the biggest body of water I saw growing up. And then, I thought it looked like an ocean. That part of where I told you I grew up was not bodies of water. So I didn't see an ocean till I got to-- became an adult.
  • [01:27:45.21] SPEAKER 1: Did your family engage in activities involving water when you were a young child?
  • [01:27:50.86] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: Not particularly.
  • [01:27:54.43] SPEAKER 1: Did you engage in activities involving water as a young child?
  • [01:27:59.26] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: No.
  • [01:28:01.12] SPEAKER 1: Did you associate any feelings with water from this time in life?
  • [01:28:09.46] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: No.
  • [01:28:12.61] SPEAKER 1: In this part of the interview, we will talk about your time as a young person, from about the age that kids usually start school in Europe and the United States up until you began your professional career or work life. Question number one, did you go to preschool?
  • [01:28:29.55] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: No.
  • [01:28:33.00] SPEAKER 1: Did you go to kindergarten?
  • [01:28:35.30] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: No.
  • [01:28:37.30] SPEAKER 1: Did you go to elementary school?
  • [01:28:38.94] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: Yes.
  • [01:28:40.51] SPEAKER 1: Where?
  • [01:28:41.51] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: Southern Hills is my elementary school, and it was in Kettering, Ohio.
  • [01:28:50.71] SPEAKER 1: What do you remember about it?
  • [01:28:56.74] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: Oh, let's see. Mr. Holt was my principal. Ms. [? Reeter ?] was my first or second grade teacher. Oh, I know. I wore pigtails to school, and I had very long hair that was down in pigtails. I told you yesterday I was the first black that went to this school. And I remember that one day-- you had kings and queens of the playground. Sam Haw, every day for six years that I was in elementary school, was always the king of the playground.
  • [01:29:42.27] And one day, he chose me to be his queen. And Josephine Manis said, there ain't never been no nigger queen. And I just lost it, and I beat her up. And Mr. Holt took me home and explained to my parents what had happened. And my parents assured them that they would take care of the situation. And they just, after he left, explained to me what had happened.
  • [01:30:25.80] I just knew that that N-word was something that nobody was supposed to say to me at the time. And I really didn't even know that I knew how to fight, so I'm surprised that I did beat her up, but I did. And also, I told you I had very long pigtails. And the girls used to sit at school and do this all the time. And I thought, gee, that's a great thing to do. And one day, I unbraided all my hair, because I wanted to do that. You know how they flick their hair?
  • [01:30:57.63] So I upgraded all my hair, and it was out to here. And I was in the lunch room flipping my hair like the white girls flip their hair. So Mr. Holt took me home again. I think he was afraid when he saw all that hair. My mother, when she took me home, and he said, here I am with your girl again.
  • [01:31:26.86] And my mother took one look at me, and she just-- all she could do was laugh. She couldn't believe that your principal would bring you home because your hair was out to here. So they didn't know what to do with me. I often think of my growing up experience-- if my parents had reacted as I would today if children did that to my-- I mean, come on now. The principal's going to take you home because you unbraid your hair and shake your hair like the white girls.
  • [01:32:06.84] Or during the time that I was studying slavery, I sat in the hall for six weeks, because my teacher didn't want me to be embarrassed during the discussion of the Civil War. And they were discussing the Civil War. I sat in the hall. Well, my parents didn't know any different, you know, but they should have been complaining to the board of education. But what did they know, how damaged I might have been? But I think I survived it all.
  • [01:32:37.57] SPEAKER 1: Did you go to high school?
  • [01:32:38.88] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: Yes.
  • [01:32:39.68] SPEAKER 1: Where?
  • [01:32:40.83] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: I went to Fairmont High School in Kettering, Ohio.
  • [01:32:44.87] SPEAKER 1: What do you remember about it?
  • [01:32:47.85] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: Oh, let's say. Oh, I had a wonderful time in high school. I was extremely athletic, and I made all of the teams that I tried out for. As I told you, I sat in the hallway during the discussion of the Civil War. Oh, I wasn't allowed to take social dance. Back then, we had social dance, where they taught you the graces of how to dance and how to ask girls to dance.
  • [01:33:18.33] I wasn't allowed to take social dance. But they let my brother take social dance, because they thought the boys may not ask me to dance. So they didn't want me to be embarrassed. So I had to sit in my gym teacher's office so that I wouldn't have my feelings hurt, I guess. I don't know. But I survived it all, anyway.
  • [01:33:44.46] I also remember my counselor talking to me about what I was going to do after I graduated from high school and what vocation I was going into. And I said, vocation? Of course I'm not going into any vocation. I'm going to college. And she assured me that I was not college material, even though I had gotten all A's and B's and I was a very good student. But they just didn't understand the possibility that I could go to college. I assured them that I was.
  • [01:34:21.17] SPEAKER 1: Was there anything you had to say yesterday interview that you didn't say in this interview?
  • [01:34:29.23] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: Today?
  • [01:34:29.81] SPEAKER 1: Yes.
  • [01:34:30.17] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: Yesterday? Yes. You didn't ask me that, because I made notes of all of these things that you asked me yesterday and I didn't get a chance to say. Particularly, it was really fun talking about the fads and fashions, because I picked several of my friends' brains. And it was funny that they would wake up things that I said, oh, yeah, that's right, I remember.
  • [01:34:56.84] The Kremlin underskirts. We used to wear our skirts out to here, and we had tiny, little waist bands. I can remember when I got married, I could put my hands around my waist. And we just didn't-- we were smaller people, because we ate more appropriately and things weren't vitamin enriched and all. There were no McDonald's, so you just didn't see-- people weren't fat. People were healthy, because we ate properly, and there was no fast foods.
  • [01:35:32.90] Besides the Kremlin underskirts, we had poodle skirts that were made out of felt, your white buck shoes, and then there was the blue suede shoes. Remember Elvis Presley made a song about blue suede shoes? Hot pants, bell bottoms. Slang words were girls were called chicks and guys were called cool pants if they were really cool.
  • [01:36:02.15] The dances that I remember that I couldn't remember yesterday was that we did the Twist, the Chubby Checkers, and we did the Jerk. This was some crazy dance that looked like you were having seizures. We did Mashed Potatoes, and you did the Bunny Hop and the Hokey Pokey. And if you slow danced sometimes, it was called Dancing on a Dime. And we used to love to have basement dances where we'd have soft lights and all those kind of basement parties.
  • [01:36:33.41] SPEAKER 1: I may need you to pause for a minute. We'll talk about this in tomorrow's interview.
  • [01:36:37.43] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: All right.
  • [01:36:37.76] SPEAKER 1: And thank you for answering these questions.
  • [01:36:41.26] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: OK.
  • [01:36:42.70] SPEAKER 2: That was a very, very full hour. Make sure you mark where you were.
  • [01:36:48.56] SHIRLEY NORTHCROSS: I didn't like--