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Interview with Bennie Tillman, Sr., July 12, 2013

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
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00:00:27 - Early life / Family

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Partial Transcript: Mr. Tillman, can you start by telling us when and where you were born?

Segment Synopsis: Tillman describes his childhood and how many siblings he had. He also talks about his parents' occupations.

Keywords: Childbirth; Parents; Siblings

00:02:10 - Ancestors / Slavery

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Partial Transcript: Back tracking a little bit, how many generations of your family before you lived in Athens?

Segment Synopsis: Tillman describes where his parents were from. He talks briefly about his father's enslavement and his father's treatment. In addition, he tells a story of his father standing up for himself.

Keywords: Ancestors; Antebellum; Athens; Enslaved; Georgia; Slavery; Treatment

00:03:59 - Education / Early Occupations

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Partial Transcript: Did you go to school here in Athens?

Segment Synopsis: Tillman discusses how and why he left school early to begin working. He gives an overview of his various occupations, and describes his time working at Camp Wilkins from 1936 to 1940. Tillman talks about his struggle to get a pay raise and how that led him to a job working for the Navy, and later at Athens Radio.

Keywords: Athens Radio; Brick Mason; Camp Wilkins; Child Labor; Cotton Factory; Education; JK Davis; Literacy; University Workers

00:09:50 - St. Mary's Hospital, 1950-1985

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Partial Transcript: And I ended up at St. Mary's Hospital. I worked for them, I think from 1950 - - I retired from them in 1985.

Segment Synopsis: Tillman discusses working for St. Mary's Hospital, where he stayed for 35 years until his retirement. He describes how his job as a cook at the hospital was a tough job, especially during the time of integration. Tillman recalls receiving orders from a dietitian, dictating diets for their patients. Tillman compares the dietition's recommendations to the average African American diet at the time.

Keywords: Cook; Diet; Integration; Retirement; Segregation

00:15:02 - Marriage

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Partial Transcript: You mentioned that you were married, how old were you when you met her?

Segment Synopsis: Tillman recalls marrying his wife and discusses the adoption of their child.

Keywords: Adoption; African American; marriage

00:16:11 - Raising Livestock / Community

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Partial Transcript: You said that people raised hogs, did you have hogs or grow any of your own food?

Segment Synopsis: Tillman describes moving to Rocksprings and raising chickens. He recalls planting different vegetables in his garden and talks about his love for playing golf.

Keywords: Camp Wilkins; Golf; Rocksprings; Second Chickens; community

00:22:53 - Tillman's Home

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Partial Transcript: We also wanted to ask you about the house that you live in now.

Segment Synopsis: Tillman describes how important it was to him to have a house for his new wife. He remembers buying a plot of land where he and his brother built a house in the 1940s.

Keywords: 1946; African American; Construction; Home; House; Marriage; Weather

00:25:57 - Community Changes

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Partial Transcript: How has the neighborhood changed around you since the 1900s?

Segment Synopsis: Tillman describes how community infrastructure has changed. He also recounts his time in Rocksprings and Athens during his youth.

Keywords: Athens Georgia; Cotton; Demographic; Drought; Farmers; Henderson Extension; Hunting; Neighborhood; Pavement; Pecan ORchard; Rabbits; Rock Springs; Sewer; Storm Water; Swimming; Utilities; Water; White Flight

00:35:25 - Memories of 20th Century Athens

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Partial Transcript: Well, I mean we have a couple of more minutes - - is there any other memories that you would like to share about, you know, the 'days gone by' - the days that are not coming back in Athens?

Segment Synopsis: Tillman recalls falling in a lake on a boat ride while sterilizing the water. He discusses playing football for 3 years at Athens High School.

Keywords: 20th Century; Alps Road; Athens Georgia; Athens High School; Clubhouse; Country Club; Football; Social Security