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Interview with Linda Davis, September 2, 2019

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
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00:00:00 - Family Background

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Partial Transcript: Okay, so just give us your full name please.

Segment Synopsis: Linda Jacquelyn Elder Davis gives a description of her family, being the sixth born of seven children to Mattie Louise Elder Davis and Earnest Elder in Athens, Georgia. She was born at the Susan Medical Center, which Dr. Andrew Jones built as a maternity hospital for black women and later sold to Dr. Donarell Green Jr.

Keywords: Green & Green, LLP; West Hancock Ave

00:01:48 - Hawthorne Avenue/ Brooklyn Road

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Partial Transcript: And so talk a little bit about the area you were born in...

Segment Synopsis: Davis provides a description of where Hawthorne Ave, which used to be Brooklyn Rd, extended as well as the roads that extended off of it.

Keywords: Alps Rd; Alps Road Elementary School; Athens, Ga; Atlanta Highway; Atlanta, Ga; Broad St; Hawthorne Ext; Highway 78; Old West Broad St; Prince Ave; West Lake Dr

00:04:56 - Brooklyn Neighborhood

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Partial Transcript: And so when you were growing up, what was this neighborhood known as?

Segment Synopsis: Davis clarifies what her perspective of Brooklyn was growing up. She discusses a grocery store her father would visit only a couple times a year as how she knew of W Broad St. The center of their neighborhood was more or less where Mt Pleasant Baptist Church sat, where Old W Broad St intersected Hawthorne Ave. Their black community extended to Old Alps Bridge Rd. She then goes into detail about the locations of roads leading up to an empty lot, where a Catholic church was later built.

Keywords: Athens, Ga; Atlanta Highway; Broad St; Hawthorne Ave; Highway 78; James St; Julius Dr; Smith St; St Joseph Catholic Church; Walker St

00:07:23 - Land Owners on Hawthorne Ave

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Partial Transcript: And so, what I later learned, and this might be...

Segment Synopsis: Davis gives a detailed description of which houses and land was owned by who in the Brooklyn community, specifically on or near Hawthorne Ave,. She begins and ends with Ed Bazzelle, who owned a lot of land and contributed to the creation of the subdivision behind Hawthorne. Much of her information, especially street names, was learned once she'd looked through deeds and property records. When she was growing up, most of Brooklyn was dirt roads and there were no street signs.

Keywords: Athens, Ga; Brooklyn Comunity; Helen Eley; Salvation Army

00:10:50 - Ed Bazzelle/Pauldoe

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Partial Transcript: And.. and who was Ed Bazzelle?

Segment Synopsis: Davis shares what she knows about Ed Bazzelle, such as he and Gertrude Smith being married by Common Law. Davis' aunt married Smith's son, Robert Lois Smith. Bazzelle owned at least 21 properties which were lost to a county tax sale. Her house and one other were the last on Hawthorne Ave after all the commercialization she noticed. Included in the commercialization is what used to be a residential community, the Jack R Wells Community, which was called Pauldoe, named for a black employee of the Housing Authority. Ten acres of the land used came from Helen Eley, and 29 acres from Walt Frost. The community exhibited five bedroom homes with indoor plumbing, but had very strict rules for eligibility.

Keywords: Athens Housing Authority; Athens, Ga; Brooklyn Community; Urban Renewal

00:18:10 - Adolescent Years in Brooklyn

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Partial Transcript: When you say restricted in your movement around the city...

Segment Synopsis: Davis' father being 60 when she was born, had little patience and simple but strict rule while she was growing up. She and her siblings earned money for the movie theater by shelling peas at the Farmer's Market in sight from their house. They were also free to go to Girl Scouts meetings and piano lessons, which she stopped attending. Davis then provided a few details about the school district system and her grade school history. She was in ninth grade when desegregation gave her the choice of which school to attend.

Keywords: Athens High School (Clarke Central High School); Athens, Ga; Athens-Clarke County School Dristict; Burney-Harris-Lyons Middle School (Lyons Junior High School); Clarke Junior High School (Clarke Middle School); Lyons Elementary School; Magnolia St; North Athens Elementary School; Reese Street District; integration

00:23:50 - Personal Brooklyn Landmarks

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Partial Transcript: So I guess I'm trying to get a sense of what your life was like.

Segment Synopsis: Davis considers landmarks in Brooklyn to be places along her "safe route," or the places she was allowed by her father to go. This included everything around Hawthorne Ave, Old West Broad St, and across West Broad St. Although black people were allowed to go to the Georgia Theater, her father wouldn't let them, so she would go to the Harlem Theater. Later in her high school years she would sometimes go to the Beechwood Shopping Center or the drive-in theater once she got a car.

Keywords: Athens, Ga; Downtown Athens; Dunbar Library (The Dunbar Branch Library); Susan Medical Center

00:28:05 - History of Brooklyn Cemetery

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Partial Transcript: And so, what does, where does the Brooklyn Cemetery fit into all this...

Segment Synopsis: Davis announces that she had limited knowledge and experience about the Brooklyn Cemetery when she was younger, as she'd never went to any funerals and doesn't recall if they considered it a part of their community. Her only knowledge of it was that people in the community were buried there. Today, the cemetery is owned by the Bethlehem Cemetery Society with a re-established trust. The University of Georgia's Public Interest Project researched the cemetery for the Friends of Brooklyn Cemetery group, who also re-established the trust and has a mission to bring dignity back to the cemetery. Contrary to what is commonly believed, Davis informs that families went to the cemetery to clean off graves and visit relatives, particularly on homecoming days. In the Brooklyn Community, this was typically the place one was buried if they did not have a church graveyard or family lot.

Keywords: Athens, Ga; Bishop Park; Ed Bazzele; Gertrude Smith; Gospel Pilgrim; Hawthorne Ave; Oconee County; Old West Broad St; Tignall Cemetery; Tignall, Ga; Watkinsville, Ga

00:35:35 - The People in Brooklyn Cemetery

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Partial Transcript: I was asking if the people who lived in Brooklyn were buried...

Segment Synopsis: Davis and her colleagues have labeled a specific part of the Brooklyn Cemetery "Section A" for people who lived in Brooklyn and were buried there. Her and Melvin Stroud find walking through that section being very similar to walking down the road at Brooklyn from all the names they knew in their community. Davis informs that Brooklyn Cemetery has three different burial sites, and Thelma Hurley had explained to her that there were three burial plots. She also points out that when Robert Harrison walks through Section G, he recognizes names from First AME Church.

Keywords: Athens, Ga; Bethlehem Cemetery Society; First African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church; Hurley Funeral Home

00:38:20 - A Brooklyn Funeral

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Partial Transcript: And then you once told be that if you walked in a straight line...

Segment Synopsis: Davis explains that there were no ambulances, so a hearse acted as one, at least in the black community, until the 1950s. The funeral home would be called and one would either wind up at the hospital or the morgue. Most of her information about funerals in Brooklyn comes from interviews she had with others because she'd never been to one in her youth. Harold Writtenberry had shared his experiences during funeral processions walking up Baxter St to get to the cemetery, carrying the coffin.

Keywords: Athens Regional Health Center; Athens, Ga; Magnolia St; St. Mary’s Hospital

00:41:17 - The Birth of Brooklyn

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Partial Transcript: And so, again, not knowing the full history of Brooklyn...

Segment Synopsis: Davis shares her knowledge about an article that was published by a member of her church that discusses the Northern troops during either WWI or WWII who began calling the area "Brooklyn." The name only stuck in the black community with boundaries including Baxter St, where the troops' mess hall was located, all the way to where the Brooklyn Creek feeds into the Oconee River. Davis shares one last story about an Uncle Tom that her mom had spoken about who owned property by the river.

Keywords: Athens, Ga; Beachwood Hills; Brooklyn Cemetery; Brooklyn Community; Brooklyn Road; W Broad St; World War I (WWI); World War II (WWII)