Partial Transcript: It’s Wednesday January the 18th, 2017 and I’m John Cruickshank...
Segment Synopsis: In this segment, Phinazee discusses her early childhood and her family roots in Waverly Hall, Georgia and North Augusta, South Carolina. She talks about growing up in Griffin, Georgia and learning to cook at the age of three.
Keywords: Frog Bottom; Georgia; Griffin; Harris County; North Augusta; South Carolina; Spalding County; Waverly Hall
Partial Transcript: Just … tell us a little bit about your …
Segment Synopsis: In this segment, Phinazee talks about her early years in school in Waverly Hall, Georgia, her family’s move to Griffin and her experiences in grade school at Annie Shockley and Fairmont High School. She discusses living in a neighborhood that was not segregated, and how she was considered rich due to her family's resources.
Keywords: Annie Shockley Grade School; Edgewood; Fairmont High School; Hawkes Free Children's Library; Hawkes Library; Negro Vocational High School; Rosenwald School
Partial Transcript: Was Hawkes a desegregated library for all of the children?
Segment Synopsis: In this segment, Phinazee talks about her experiences studying in the segregated, all-white Hawkes Free Children’s Library in Griffin. She recounts how she was able to defy the societal norms of the time and describes the differences between the all-white library and the African-American library most of her classmates used.
Keywords: African-American libraries; Fairmont High School; Hawkes Free Children's Library; Hawkes Library; Segregation
Partial Transcript: Were there any other places in Griffin that you found interesting ...
Segment Synopsis: Phinazee discusses her lack of understanding concerning segregation as a child. She shares how she didn't see the true extent of it until she noticed the disparities in the supplementary educational material across racial boundaries.
Keywords: McClendon's drug store; Woolworth's Lunch Counter; segregated schools; separate but equal; sit-ins
Partial Transcript: You mean you had white water while the rest...
Segment Synopsis: In this segment, Phinazee discusses her time working for the Pomona Products Company in Griffin. She details the working conditions faced by African American women in the plant and recounts the story of a confrontation with a white supervisor.
Keywords: KKK; Ku Klux Klan; Labor Rights; Pompna Products Company; sexual harassment; working conditions
Partial Transcript: Had you or your family had previous experience with the KKK as to why you would think they were coming from you?
Segment Synopsis: Phinazee talks about her families experience with the Ku Klux Klan, and says that they came to her house after her uncle became romantically involved with the richest woman in town and the KKK found out.
Keywords: Berta Shell; KKK; Ku Klux Klan; caddy; gambling; golf; integrated neighborhoods
JOHN CRUICKSHANK:(inaudible) Are we all ready? It's Wednesday, January, the18th, 2017. And I'm John Cruickshank. And with me today are a couple of other interviewers.
ART CAIN:I'm Art Cain, University of Georgia, Continuing Education.
JEWEL WALKER-HARPS:Jewel Walker-Harps, Griffin branch NAACP.
CRUICKSHANK:And today, we are interviewing?
JOANNE Phinazee:Joanne Phinazee.
CRUICKSHANK:Okay, so, let's start off by just finding out a little bit aboutyour background, Joanne. So, when and where were you born?
Phinazee:I was born right here in Griffin. And I was born in the part of Griffinthat was called Frog Bottom. My mother was visiting her brother and 00:01:00sister-in-law when she went into labor. We lived up on Collins Street, which was just a block away from where she was when she had me.
CRUICKSHANK:And when were you born, what year?
Phinazee:September 26, 1943.
CRUICKSHANK:And your parents, were they from here as well?
Phinazee:I always looked at us as immigrants because my mother was from WaverlyHall, Harris County, Georgia, and my father was from Augusta, Georgia, but originally from South Augusta in South Carolina.
CRUICKSHANK:And so, what about your grandparents, they must have been from,what, all over?
Phinazee:My grandparents, what my grandfather, my father's father did come toGriffin and live. So, he was a railroad man. So, when he came, after 00:02:00he left Augusta, my father and his sisters and brothers was still with their mother in Augusta. And when my grandfather came to Griffin, he didn't bring any of this children with him. And my mother's father and mother never came to Griffin. They lived in Waverly Hall until they died. And my grandfather, my father came to Griffin in 1929. He always talked about the street that we lived on, we really grew up, was called Ninth Street. And the first thing he did when he came to Griffin was to pave, help pave that road.
CAIN:Do you have brothers and sisters?
Phinazee:Yes, I had seven brothers and sisters that I had to take care of.00:03:00
CAIN:So, when you say you had to take care of them, were the oldest or?
Phinazee:I was the oldest child that my father and my mother had. I had twobrothers older than me that were my father's sons. But I was the oldest child that they had together and the oldest daughter. And everyone under me was in my care.
CAIN:That had to be a bit of a challenge.
Phinazee:I always told them as we, after we got grown, that's why I'm the runt.I'm the shortest one of us. I couldn't grow because one of them was always on my hip, so. (laughter) But I still tell, would tell them what to do after we got grown. I'm like, you listen to me. And you do what I tell you. And that's how it was. You were the oldest, you had to look after the youngest. I 00:04:00started cooking at the age of three.
Phinazee:In my mom and daddy's bedroom. That's where my momma started me becausewe had a coal heater, coal Franklin stove. And then she had had my brother, Big Pete, and there was no one to help take care of her, so it fell in my lap. I remember the first thing that I ever cooked was (shine bones?) and rice and tomatoes. We didn't call them neckbones back then, we told the truth what they were, they were shine bones. And she was telling me what to do and how to do it right there in her bedroom. And when my daddy came home from work, I was proud of what I had done. And my daddy was too, he ate it. (laughs)
CAIN:So, you cooked at a early age. You took care of your siblings at00:05:00an early age?
Phinazee:Yes. I started with my brother, Big Pete. He was three years older thanme, and I didn't ever stop. It went all the way down the road from Pete to my baby brother, Michael. I was 16 when he was born. And he was actually my child. Everybody thought he was. Because the only time you saw me without him would be when I was in school.
CAIN:And just tell us a little bit about your, the beginnings of your schooling.Where you went and just experiences early on?
Phinazee:Okay. My mother left my father just before I turned six years old andwent back home to Waverly Hall. I turned six there and that's where I started school. In fact, I had the experience, out of all of the kids in my 00:06:00class, when I came back to Griffin, I am the only one that went to a class, went to a class that had three classes in the same room. And when I tell people that, they always look at me and ask me, how old are you? And I tell them and they said, but you, I did. That's how it went in Waverly Hall. First, second, and third grade were all together. So, by the time, I come back to Griffin in the second grade, I was already way ahead of all of my classmates. But Annie Shockley, which is now called Anne Street, it was the only county school here in Griffin for African Americans to go to. It didn't matter. As long as you lived in the county, that's the school, elementary school that you went to. You didn't go to the other elementary schools that was Cora Nimmons in the area. 00:07:00But that school was considered a city school. If you lived in the county, it didn't matter what part of Griffin, just as long as you were in the county, you went to Annie Shockley. I was crazy about Annie Shockley. I had a principal, (Mr.Boddy?). And Mr.Boddy loved my lunch because I had to make my lunch and bring it from home. And I would have my rabbit and biscuits, and my butter biscuit with the good jelly in it. And as soon as I walked into the school, and Mr.Boddy smelled my lunch, he would take me outside and say, let me buy you lunch today. (laughs) Because they had a lunch room. And he would take my lunch and he would buy me lunch. And he would eat my lunch. So, I learned. Mr. Boddy's going to buy me lunch. So, this is what I'm going to do. I'm 00:08:00not going to eat my breakfast meat. I'm going to save it and take it with me, so when Mr.Boddy buy my lunch, I still got my lunch and I can eat both lunches. (laughs) Well, Mr.Boddy was wonderful. And Mr.Boddy would tell, he would tell his children, you know, Joanne got the best lunch. He would tell his wife, why can't you cook biscuits like that? But Mr.Boddy wanted that lunch every day. He said, "What you got today?" I'd say, chicken, rabbit, ham, because we didn't know a lunchmeat. We knew nothing about lunchmeat. We knew nothing about breakfast meat. We ate all meats. And back in my day, you ate it all. You ate pork chops, you ate anything for breakfast. 00:09:00
CAIN:So, just taking off on that whole meat thing, where did you get yourrabbit, where did you get your chicken?
Phinazee:Oh, my daddy. My daddy was an avid hunter. We were never hungry becausewhen my daddy got those rabbits, he killed deer, he killed rabbit, he killed squirrels. He even knew which birds. And my mother loved those birds that he would kill. But that was too little for me, I could not fight for that meat. But my daddy was the one. He was the provider of us. And he took very good care of us. We grew up, I grew up on Ninth Street, 431 South Ninth Street. And we were considered rich because we had plenty to eat, and a car and a truck to drive. And everybody's feet went under our table. Because if you were 00:10:00hungry, all you had to do was come to (Miss Anna Tom's?) house. And Mr.Sherman's house. And you could eat. We lived in a community that was all about love. And everybody in the community loved [each other. And we were always there for everyone in that community. And because of that, because I really thought we were rich. I had no earthly idea that we were not rich. I thought this is how the rich lived. Because there's one thing about the community we were in, it actually was on the first real rich neighborhood we had in Griffin. So we--
CAIN:What neighborhood was that?
Phinazee:Right there on South Eighth Street and Hill Street. Awe,00:11:00shucks, College, all in that area. Those were the ones that were really rich. And because we were right there living in the same neighborhood as them, every good thing that they got from the city like taking care of the streets, sweeping the streets and all of that, we got, too. So, we didn't know the difference.Right next-door to us, our neighborhood was really not considered segregated because we had Caucasian neighbors. I used to play with them. We had Caucasian neighbors. They lived right next-door to us. Now, we were, what we called ourselves, what we thought we were, we were bad little kids. And we would go play with the Caucasian neighbors as long as they had something to eat. Soon as the food run out, we'd turn back, and go home. (laughs) But when 00:12:00they would come back the next day, they said, "We've got so-and-so, you want to come play with me?" And we'd go play with them, and eat up their food. But that's just how it was. We didn't know. I have to say, on my side of town, we really didn't know segregation the way others in Griffin knew it. In fact, I truly didn't know segregation until I hit 16 years old. I was raised, I always would tell my mom and dad when I got grown, I was raised by Caucasians at the age of four, on up. I'm okay? Okay. At the age of four, I came to what we call, go uptown, and that was the area of where Burger King is now. 00:13:00(McNeely's?) had grocery stores up there. And I'm up there ordering my mom and daddy's groceries. And I could tell them everything on the list that my mother had written for me. And they would look at me like, oh, you can read? I really couldn't read. But when she's saying, and she named everything: A pound of (Nuco?) butter, 20 pounds of flour, 10 pounds of meal. So, when I would take the list in, and give it to them, I started telling them what was on that list. And I will pay them for the groceries of the past week. And I would always get my change. Although my mother had a habit of giving me the exact money, when she sent me somewhere, she always would say, "Make sure you bring my 00:14:00change back." So, they had to give me something, at least a penny. So, that I had my change to take back home to my parents. And my mother would say, "Where you get this?" "This is your change." And she would look at me like, I didn't get no change. This's your change. And she finally, I think, picked up on it. So, she would just look at me when I went somewhere and said bring my change back. And I went in front doors. I didn't know anything about going in back doors. I went in the front door. I'd go in there, I'd look them in the eye, I'd tell them what my parents want. Because I'm told, when you're talking to someone, you look them in the eyes. You don't go dropping your head, you look at them. So, I'm doing this and they thought, I didn't know it until I 00:15:00got grown, but they thought I was a cute little girl. Here come, here comes Charles and Anna's daughter. Well, I didn't know. I had no idea what was going on. I'd go pay their bills. I took care of everything they told me to do. Because they were working, it was on me to do it, I'm the oldest. And I did what I was told. I did it like I was told. And when I would come back to them, and tell them, well, the groceries will be here at such and such a time. The (Kohls?) would be at such and such a time. That's when they would make sure they were at home to collect what was coming because that would be what I was told. So, they were there.
CAIN: It seems like race relations were pretty good in and around yourneighborhood when you were young. It seems like they were -- 00:16:00
Phinazee:They were good in my neighborhood, but not with the ones that were reallyrich. Because when we would get our skates every Christmas and go skating down through there, they sicced the dogs on us. And when the dogs come running out, we already knew what we were going to do with the dogs. We made friends out of them. So, then, they stopped siccing the dogs on us because they got mad that the dogs wouldn't bite. (laughs) The dogs'd be ready when we come through there, over on, on Cottage Street and Hill Street, in that area? Those dogs loved to see us come. That's when they got exercise because we would be skating. Because those were big houses and they had paved sidewalks. We didn't have that. In fact, our yards were nothing but dirt, but we had to sweep that dirt. 00:17:00We had to keep those yards clean. We lived in what we call shotgun houses. It was a house that had one, two, three rooms. And they were all, you could look from the front door, if it was open, if the kitchen door was open, you could look straight through the house. That's how they looked. So, a living room was almost out of the question. There are so many in the family, you got someone would sleep in your, in every room, except the kitchen. But we were happy. We were very happy. Even when I got in high school, that's when I started going. It wasn't that I didn't know about it before. I always read it because when I would go uptown to pay the bills, I knew where a lot of the businesses 00:18:00and everything were. But when I got in high school and we would have to do projects, for our classes, I always went to what was called Hawkes Library. And I did all my work.
CAIN:Where was that located?
Phinazee:Right across the street. Well, what is it called now? That is where you --
Phinazee:-- where you have your meetings for Griffin-Spalding Schools. You knowwhere the superintendent's office is? The building at -- do they still have the name Hawkes on it? But it was the library right there, right across from there. It was the library.
CAIN:If I could back you up just a little bit.
CAIN:Before we go forward. Give us a little bit of an idea of yourelementary school. You talked a little bit about that. How many students were 00:19:00there, were they organized by first grade, second grade, third grade? Because you said in a previous school, you had three grades, three grades in one room.
CAIN:Was that the case in elementary school here in Griffin?
Phinazee:No. No, no, no.
CAIN:How was that done?
Phinazee:At Annie Shockley, it went from the first grade through the sixth grade.
Phinazee:And after the sixth grade, that's when you got the opportunity, no, afterthe seventh grade. That's when you got the opportunity to go to Fairmont. We had three first grades there because I got a chance to go there from the first grade through the fourth grade. I had no earthly idea once my parents moved from -- the neighborhood that we call Edgewood, and that was behind (Boards 00:20:00Row?). I had no idea that I was in the city school district. So, I kept walking past Cora Nimmons and going to Annie Shockley because I liked it. I liked the lunch room. Loved Mr.Boddy. But I didn't know that I was supposed to go anywhere, so I didn't until my fourth grade year. They looked at my address and they told me I could no longer come to Annie Shockley. I had to go to Cora Nimmons. Cora Nimmons didn't have a lunchroom. And they didn't have a principal that wanted to buy me lunch, so.
WALKER-HARPS:So, Cora Nimmons was a step up, in other words, when youwere in, what, fourth grade? 00:21:00
Phinazee:Cora Nimmons, I didn't go until I was in the fifth grade.
WALKER-HARPS:Okay. And that was the extension for Annie Shockley, or simplybecause of the location?
Phinazee:Cora Nimmons was the city school in our area.
Phinazee:And the city school. Each area of Griffin had one city school for AfricanAmericans to go to, to attend. And you walked. So, there was a city school in every area of Griffin that had African Americans living there.
CAIN:So, after you finished elementary school, you headed to Fairmont?
Phinazee:We went to Fairmont.
CAIN:What was that?
WALKER-HARPS:But it wasn't -- Fairmont, oh, it was vocational.
Phinazee:No, it was Fairmont.
WALKER-HARPS:Was it Fairmont at that time?
Phinazee:It was Fairmont then.
Phinazee:It had already changed its name.
WALKER-HARPS:So, it was past the period of vocational, okay.00:22:00
Phinazee:Right, right. Because our elementary school, Cora Nimmons was a schoolthat had been newly built and there was a wooden school right behind it that they no longer used. Well, the African Amerian, oh, what word am I looking for. The African American community had gotten so large by then that what we had to do was take that building, wooden building behind Cora Nimmons and make it into our seventh-grade building. Because we had children now coming from what we called the north side of town, the side that had more elementary element. It was so many of us, our parents had had so many kids, we're larger now than it was in the beginning. So, we had those three, those three rooms is what 00:23:00we used for the seventh grade. So, as children went to the seventh grade from the other schools, they came there. Then we went from the seventh grade, all of us, to Fairmont. And we were in, if you were in the eighth grade, the (Rosenwall?) part of Fairmont of the rooms that they had for the eighth-graders and it was like four, it was four, four classrooms. But we had no earthly idea it was Rosenwall. We just called it the old part of Fairmont. We did not know that we were in a history-making area.
CAIN:So, from eighth through twelfth?
Phinazee:Right. Fairmont's High School was eighth through twelfth.Because when my class, when we got into the ninth grade, that is when we went, 00:24:00did what we call, walking down the hill. That's when they built the next Fairmont High School. And we were no longer at the old Fairmont High School. That's when we went down there.
WALKER-HARPS:Was Hawkes a desegregated library for all of the children, or wasit public for whites only?
Phinazee:It was whites only, and me. (laughs) I couldn't understand. I had noearthly idea why they would not give me a library card because I asked, what about my library card? I want to take these books out. And they would tell me, we're not giving you a library card. Because the first time that I went in there, they actually told me, you can't come here. And I told them, yes, 00:25:00I can. And they said, no, you can't. I said, "I've got a report to do. And we must come to the library and find the books that our teacher told us to find to do the report. And I'm not going anywhere until I do it." So, they got their heads together. I'm not really getting the reason why. I did not know that we had an African American library. I thought we only had one. So, I'm going to the library, I'm going to make this A. I cannot even bring a B home. My parents would not allow that. And when they got their heads together, I guess they said to themselves, we don't see another, so we'll go ahead and let her do this. I got used to them. They got used to me. Any time I had something, some 00:26:00work to do that called for me to go to the library, when they saw me walking in there, "Here come that crazy girl." Because that's what they called me, they called me crazy. But it was all right for me, let me do my work. Well, when I knew what I was doing, was when I became a senior. And my home-room teacher brought it up in class one day. And he told me, he said, "(Ms. Frasier?), nobody's work is like yours. I send you to the library to study these books and get the information, and to put your footnotes in there, and you always come back with the information, different footnotes, different books, but 00:27:00you bring me what I said go get me." And he asked me, he said, "How do you find these books? Because I go back and I look, and I don't find them." He said, "You're not going to the library." Well, that hurt my feelings so bad, I started crying. And I'm like, "Yes, I did, Mr. Palmer. Iwent to the library." And he said, "No, you didn't. They don't have these books in there." And I said, "But Mr.Palmer..." So, he said, "Well, what library are you going to?" And I said, "The Hawkes Library, the only library we have in Griffin." He looked at me and the class laughed at me. Well, I don't understand why they're laughing until he told them, stop laughing. He said, "Ms.Frasier, you been going to the Hawkes Library all the time?" "Yes, sir." He said, "How long you 00:28:00been going to the Hawkes Library?" "Since I was 13, and we had to do things in the library." He said, "Ms.Frasier, we have another library." So, now, my heart dropping. I'm thinking, "I'm going to get a C or an F and get killed when I get home." I said, "But Mr. --" he said, he told the class, he said, "I want you to listen to something." He read some of my report, he read some of their report. And he said, "If you didn't know better, which one would you rather be reading?" And they said mine. Because mine had more meat to it than theirs. And he said, "That's why I'm saying, don't laugh." So, when he told me 00:29:00the library was right across the street from Mount Zion's Church, I'm looking at him and I'm saying to myself, that's not what I thought that house was. I'm not going to tell you all what I thought. But anyway, I go there because that's where he wanted me to go. But when I went in there and the books in the African American library are all in cardboard boxes and torn up, and missing pages, and I smiled. And I said, "I won't come back here. I'll keep going where I'm going." I did wonder when I would go to Hawkes why none of my other classmates were ever there. But I wasn't taking into the fact that they knew there was another library. I didn't. Everything I knew and learned was through reading. I 00:30:00read Hawkes Library on the top of the library. That's the only place I ever saw the word library. So, I did not know we had any other library.
WALKER-HARPS:Did Thomas Palmer explain to you the historical basis for what youwere doing?
Phinazee:No, he didn't. The only thing he said was, "Ms.Frasier, if you can goin there, and I know you're going because your work is exemplarary. If you can go in there and do my projects, go ahead." He didn't say anything else to me. He did not tell me that going in there was something that no one else was doing. He didn't tell me that. He didn't tell me that, actually, I was not 00:31:00supposed to be in there because I guess he wondered to himself how I got in there. I walked in there. And I said, "I want to get my homework done." And they allowed me to after telling me no for so many times, and I'm telling them, I'm not leaving. I wasn't thinking about my schooling, the school and what they were going to say. I was thinking about my parents, if I didn't come home with an A. So, they were just not putting me out till I get that work done. So...
WALKER-HARPS:Give me a comparison of the two, the two facilities, as youremember, in terms of the appearance of the building, the interior of the facilities, and the service that you received. 00:32:00
Phinazee:It was a house, the African American library was a house with threerooms. There were no shelves in it. Nothing but, like I said, cardboard boxes with books that were worse than the books we had for our class. They were even worse. And the fact that they had a librarian there, one person was in there. And that was it. It was green. And Hawkes Library was very, very different. They had everything like a library should have. The shelves, the categories, and all of that. Now, they wouldn't let me bring the books out. And they would not assist me in finding what I needed. But I've never been a child anyway, so it wasn't hard for me to figure out. After my first time in there, 00:33:00when you're looking for such-and-such, you go this way, when you're looking for so-and-so, you go that way. And you look up and you read what's on the little wall that tells you what books are in there, and you have no problem finding them. They wouldn't give me the library card and they wouldn't let me bring the books out, but they did not stop me from learning.
WALKER-HARPS:Was the librarian in the Green House black or white?
Phinazee:Was the what?
WALKER-HARPS:The librarian who operated the African American library in thelittle green house?
Phinazee:She was an African American.
WALKER-HARPS:Okay. But you have no idea what her name was, do you remember?
Phinazee:I don't remember her. I never asked her, her name.
Phinazee:I didn't go up there but one time.
Phinazee:Only one, it didn't take but a minute for me to know I was not going backin there I didn't have to go back in there and I was not going back in there. And I didn't understand. I was more puzzled after going in there than 00:34:00I was before I ever went in there because I didn't understand my other classmates and why they were going there when they could go to Hawkes.
WALKER-HARPS:Were there any other places in Griffin that you found interested inyou went when others of your complexion were not allowed to go?
Phinazee:Oh, my goodness, there you go. I used to go (laughs) to Woolworths.Woolworths had this restaurant and I loved it. I had a friend girl that came home when I was 10, and she lived in Cleveland, and she told me that they were integrated. So, I'm looking at her like, integrated? Okay, what is that? Anyway, I said, "What are you talking about?" And she said, "Well, we all 00:35:00go to school together. We all do this together." I said, "Really?" She said, "Yeah." So, I tried to get my friends, "Let's go to Woolworths and eat." And nobody would go. I wound up going to Woolworths by myself, sitting at the counter, telling the young lady I wanted a ham and cheese sandwich, and I want some of that lemonade that's jumping up and down in that container. I like how it looks. And she told me, "We don't serve," and the N-word. And I told her, that was all right. I'm not the N-word. (laughs) And she says, "We're not going to serve you." So, being the little girl my mother and daddy had raised, I put my money on the counter and I said, "You see that money?" She 00:36:00says, "Yes." "I see you see here's money laying there." She said, "Yes." "Do you see a difference in the color?" She said, "No." "Then I want what I want." I got it. I went to (McClendon's?). I did the same thing. They told me the same thing. I got it. I went to, I can't think of the name of the drugstore where they had this little ice cream section. But we could always go in there and buy ice cream. But we could not eat it in there. We could buy it and then go take it, leave, and come outside. So, I went in, I ordered my ice cream, and when they put it on the counter, and I paid for it, I started licking it. And the man said, "You cannot eat that in here." And I'm like, "I can't?" And he 00:37:00said, "No." I said, "Well, take it back and give my money back." And he said, "Well, I'm not going to give you any money back then." I eat it right here. And he went and got a man that I knew from town, who was (Mr.Wimbush?), he was an African American, and he worked in there. And he told him to come tell me that I had to leave. And Mr.Wimbush came and told me I had to leave, I could not eat the ice cream in there. I knew not to sass Mr.Wimbush. I'd a got killed by my mom and dad. And so, I told Mr.Wimbush, "I thank you very much, Mr.Wimbush, but I'm not leaving till I eat it." And I did that from 10 till I was 19. I went to all of them and ate. And they got used to me after a while. But the only thing that tripped me was when I would go in Woolworths and get my 00:38:00sandwich and my lemonade and sit, because I didn't sit at the counter. I went and sat in one of the booths. And she said, "No, you've got to leave." I said, "I'm not going anywhere." When my African American people would walk by and see me in there, turn their heads. They don't see me. I was perplexed by that. Why do they act like that? They can come in and eat. I'm doing it. They didn't want to be a witness to my hanging, I guess. (laughs) I don't know.
CAIN:So, what's interesting to me is, one thing's just, in terms of yourpersonal resolve, I guess. When your parents told you, you need to follow what I say, and you said, I'll do it just like my parents said. 00:39:00
CAIN:You would do that. But when you went to institutions where really the folkswere there said that you should not be here, you resisted. You decided that you weren't going to obey those commands. You obeyed your parents' commands, but you didn't obey the commands of those folks who were telling you, you can't come into the library, you can't come into Woolworths, you can't eat, and so on. What was inside, what was internal to you that made you take those kind of stands?
Phinazee:I didn't know I was resisting. You've got to remember, from the age offour, I'm going uptown and I'm paying all of mom and daddy's bills. And I'm dealing with Caucasians only. I didn't know that I would ever be resisted because they didn't resist me. I thought I could go anywhere in 00:40:00Griffin, Georgia I wanted. I didn't know I was going to have trouble. When they tried to resist me, it's just like when I turned 16, and one of my momma's doctors told me, well, not the doctor, but the receptionist, told me, "You can't come in that front door anymore." And I'm looking at her like, why? And she says, "You don't come in that front door." I said, "I'm coming to pay my momma's bill." "Well, you come in the --" Isaid, "I've never ever been in your back door. And I'm not coming in your back door." But what I didn't understand was that this was segregation. I didn't understand that. And when she said it, I said, "Well, I'll take the money back to my momma and tell her you 00:41:00don't want it." And she said, "Well, no," she said, "you can pay this time, and when you come back," I said, "It'll be in that front door." Well, when I got home, I told my momma. And my momma said, "Well, what are you going to do, Joanne, if I send you to pay the bill again?" "I'm going in the front door." Well, I still don't understand. I didn't understand. I didn't have any idea I was resisting anything. I just thought they were being mean to me. So, it wasn't anything, any feeling within me other than, oh, they want to be mean. Well, I'll stand 'em up.
CRUICKSHANK:You didn't understand that it was because you were African Americanthat they were picking on you?
Phinazee:You know, when I first realized that there was a truedifference in Griffin, Georgia between African Americans and Caucasians, were 00:42:00when I went to the Griffin Fair to help set up for our -- we had a little exhibit that we were going to do. And we were right next to Griffin High. I knew that we didn't go to the same schools, I knew that. But I didn't see a reason why not. I just thought we didn't go to the same schools. What I saw was this young lady's books. And her books looked so much better than our books. And I asked her, "Those are the books that you have in school?" And she said, "Yes." And I said, "We don't have books like that." I said, "What do you study?" She explained to me, I don't know if they kept on doing it, but back 00:43:00then, they had certain books that they studied the first semester, well, six months from school. Then they changed their books. And they started another set of books for the last part of that year. And I'm saying, "Really?" And I'm telling the other kids, "Come over, listen to what she's saying." Well, nobody wanted to talk to them but me. (laughs) And I guess, because, like I said, I done played with you and all this other stuff with you, and you don't frighten me. And when she was saying it, when we went back to school, I asked the question, why not we, like that. Why don't we have? They tried to explain it to me, but it didn't make any sense. I said, "I think we should have books like theirs. We would know more, we would learn more." And they just shook 00:44:00their heads and said, she doesn't get it. I didn't get it. I really didn't.
WALKER-HARPS:You mean, you had white water while the rest of us had colored water?
Phinazee:No, when I, I knew nothing about white water and colored water until Iwent to work at, well, not until I went to work at Pomona Products, because if my momma, from age of 10 in the summers, my mother had, somewhere she had to go. I had to run over there and work in her place, so her check didn't come up short. That's when I saw white water and colored water. White bathroom, and colored bathroom. And I was like, okay. Now, the only difference in that was we were African American women, so, we didn't have color on our 00:45:00bathroom because we were the only women that worked there. So, I guess, they didn't need to put colored, because colored was the only oes going in there. But I looked at it, and I said, I'm not drinking that. Because I didn't know what kind of water it meant. I was not going to drink it. I would drink water before I left home. I'd drink water when I got back home. When I became an adult and totally understood what it was that they were trying to do, I still didn't drink the water. Because you're not going to relegate me like that. My brain didn't work like that. And I didn't do that. I would not, I would drink water in the mornings, water at lunch time, and then water when I got off from work. And we, when we integrated Pomona Products, I still didn't drink the water. I didn't trust them. 00:46:00
WALKER-HARPS:Okay. So, it was Pomona Products that had only black women?
Phinazee:Yeah, the PPP.
WALKER-HARPS:Where were the black women working?
Phinazee:They didn't work there. The only Caucasian woman that worked at the PPPworked in the office with Mr.J.P. No other Caucasian women worked at the PPP.
WALKER-HARPS:Okay. Well, where did they work?
Phinazee:Where? I really don't remember.
WALKER-HARPS:Were they in the mill?
Phinazee:Yeah, they were in the mills.
WALKER-HARPS:In the mills, but there weren't black -- they were in the middle,in the mills. And black women were in Pomona Products.
Phinazee:If you were an African American woman, in this town, and youwanted to make enough money to take care of your family, you worked for Pomona 00:47:00Products. And you did that because you worked for them all of the season of the pimento peppers. And if you were blessed, and could get full-time, you would work the winter, too, but even if you didn't, your unemployment checks would be enough to take care of your family in the wintertime. And that's where all African Americans, women worked, and that is where all African American women in this town had great pride, because they could take care of their families, they could help support their families if they had a husband, and they actually did not take any prejudice off the Caucasian men that were in Pomona 00:48:00Products. They didn't take no, no job. They did not do that. They stood on even-level ground. Well, when they got to the point of integration and they could go to the mills, that's when Pomona Products went down.
WALKER-HARPS:Okay, so, African American women were not workers in the millsuntil integration?
Phinazee:African American men worked in the mills. But they did all of what wereconsidered the demeaning jobs. They were the janitors and the laborers that did the loading and unloading. Stuff like that. 00:49:00
CAIN:So, tell us a little, I'd like to know a little bit more about PPP, andwhat was produced. And just, almost the organizational structure. I mean, who, who managed you, and, you know, if you can, you've said, I think, a little bit about the workforce, but how it was broken down demographically. I'd just like to get a clearer picture of PPP prior to integration when you had an opportunity to go to the mills.
Phinazee:The PPP supervisors were all Caucasians. There were a fewAfrican American men that worked there, but they were laborers and mechanics. 00:50:00But every boss was a Caucasian. And that's why I say, the women had great pride, because they didn't take no junk off of them. These Caucasian men knew that the best employees they had, were, because after integration, they found it out, but we're not there yet, you said. So, the African American women went there and worked, and they worked with great pride. And they didn't take no junk off the supervisors. They knew the work, they knew what they had to do, and they did it, and they did it well. In the summer, the big commodity that was produced was canned at Pomona Products was pimento pepper. Pomona Products was 00:51:00well-known for its pimento pepper. There was a small amount of pork and beans at that time that they canned. But the pork and beans were mainly canned in the winter. Pork and beans, and green beans, and potatoes, those things were canned in the winter because that was what was considered the off-season. And that is when they did that canning to keep the company running. But it was the largest, it had the -- well, yeah. It had the largest amount of African American people working was Pomona Products.
CAIN:What was the wage rates back then?
Phinazee:When I started at Pomona Products, I was 18. It was 75 centsan hour. And that was good money. That was very good money. They were paying 00:52:00even less than that when I was 10, and going over there working in my momma's place flipping all those jars, but I don't know how much she were making. She didn't tell me. (laughs)
WALKER-HARPS:Describe the working conditions?
Phinazee:They weren't bad. They were very good. With the exception, sometimes youhad a Caucasian that would put his hands on you. And you had to handle that problem right then. I handled mine. When my supervisor did it to me, although I had no earthly idea what was going to happen to me after I did it, he put his hands on me, and the next thing you knew, he was on the floor. And then next thing I knew, I was at home, asking my momma and daddy to put me on a 00:53:00bus and get me out of town 'cause the KKK coming. (laughs) And then my momma kept asking me, why? And when I told her what I had done, she said, "You hit him?" I said, "He had no business touching me." And I was not going to take it. And she went in to work the next day, and when she came home, she told me, she said, "You're not fired and the KKK is not coming at you." I said, "Are you sure?" And she said, "Yeah," and she said, "When I asked him about it, he told me, Annie, I shouldn't have never touched her." He said, "She had told me," he said, "'cause I told her how fine she was." And she told me, "Don't you ever put your hands on me. I don't care what you look at because I'm standing here. But don't you ever do it." And when he did it, it happened. 00:54:00
WALKER-HARPS:Had you or your family had previous experience with the Ku KluxKlan and to why you would think that they were coming for you?
Phinazee:Oh, yes. When I was five, my uncle, oh, Lord, you got me telling stories.My uncle, my momma's brother was a caddie. And he caddied on the golf course. And him and the richest woman in this town became lovers. And her name was (Berta Shell?). And when the KKK found out about it, they came looking for my uncle. I was only five. And they came to our house. And when they came to our house, and kicked our door in, my daddy said, "Duck, baby," and I 00:55:00just laid down in the floor where I was playing, and my daddy started shooting. And there all these people in front of me with these white coats and white hoods on. That's why when people would talk about they wore sheets, I knew nothing about the sheets because these all had on white coats like you're working back there in the produce department of a grocery store, and these white hoods. And my daddy started shooting. Well, he wasn't shooting to kill anybody, because my daddy was a crackerjack shot. But when he started shooting, they all ran. And my dad went to them the next day and told them if they ever -- he went to all of them -- and told them because he went on outside and shot some more. But he'd tell them, "If you ever come to my house again, I'll kill you." Well, 00:56:00they denied coming, but they forget who they were talking to. They gambled and my daddy gambled. And my daddy told them, he said, "I know each and every one of you. I gamble with you. I know who you are."
CRUICKSHANK:You could just tell from the voice?
CRUICKSHANK:He could just tell from the voices?
Phinazee:Nope. He said, he knew them. He knew their walks.
Phinazee:And I guess that's where I got it from because I have a tendency ofknowing your walk. I can see you in the dark, and I know who you are. But he told them. And when he told them that, and to know that what he told them was really the fact, they never came to our house again. But my uncle knew that they were coming, my momma, my uncle's wife everybody knew that they were coming, so they had gotten our uncle out of town. He went to Detroit. They had 00:57:00gotten him out of town. I think she came because my recollection of hearing, by being an oldest child in the house, I couldn't get out like the other kids and do things. So, I'm always in the house with the adults. And I remember hearing them talk, and he said that Berta Shell had come and given him some money and told him he needed to get out of town. That they were coming for him.
WALKER-HARPS:How prevalent were incidents with the Ku Klux Klan, have you anyidea, even though that it may not have been with your family, but?
Phinazee:I would hear from other people about the Klan showing up, and even aboutcrosses being burned. But I would imagine because of the side of town that we lived on being so close to the ritzy neighborhood and as I said in an integrated neighborhood, although we weren't thinking integrated, we just 00:58:00thought, you live where you live. We didn't know that our area was different.
WALKER-HARPS:But you were not, when you say integrated, the Caucasians who livedin your area were on the same economic level as your family, right?
Phinazee:Right. They were poor people.
Phinazee:Except for (Mr. Konkle?) and Miss Konkle that had the grocery store upthe street. And they decided they wanted their houses right there, too.
WALKER-HARPS:Okay. Okay. And take --00:59:00
CRUICKSHANK:Can you cut it? Sure. Yeah.
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