Digital Newton, Kansas

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Ora and Agustus Robertson Interview
Collection: Oral History

Subject

Newton, Kansas - History

Description

Dispatching Mail on the Train

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Newton Public Library, Newton Kansas

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Newton Public Library, Newton Kansas

Publisher

Newton Public Library, Newton Kansas

Date

1977-05-07

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Copyright 2015 Newton Public Library. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced without permission. To request permission, contact Newton Public Library, 720 N. Oak, Newton, Kansas 67114. Phone: 316-283-2890; Email: library@newtonplks.org. Please credit Newton Public Library, Newton, Kansas as your source.

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audio/mp3

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English

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Audio


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Newton Public Library, Newton Kansas, “Ora and Agustus Robertson Interview,” Digital Newton, Kansas, accessed October 18, 2017, http://newton.digitalsckls.info/item/766.
Interviewer

A.W. Holt

Interviewee

Ora C. and Augustus W. Roberson

Transcription

ORAL HISTORY

Interviewer: This is 7th of May, 1977 and we are at the home of Mr. and Mrs A. W. Roberson,
Mr, Roberson, where were you born, and when?
MR, ROBERSONs I was born in Savoy, Texas, on July 7, 1907.
Makes me 69. My mother’s name was Maggie Roberson and my father’s
name was Anthony Roberson and they were very poor people. We were all
poor people. My father was a laborer,
INTER: What was her maiden name?
MR, R: It was Maggie Jones Woodrow. She was a Woodrow.
INTER: When did you come to Newton?
MR, R.: I came to Newton, March 1, 1944<>
INTER: Were you married before you came to Newton?
MR. R.: Oh yes. We grew up together and married in Denison, Texas,
before we came here to Newton.
INTER: How did you get to Newton? What brought you here?
MR, R: Well, my work. I was working for the Post Office Department and it so happened that I was appointed to Newton as my headquarters. And of course, the line to which I was appointed runs out of Newton.
INTER: What was the work that you did with the Post Office?
MR, R,: We worked the mail on the trains. That1 s the way it was when I started. We worked the mail en route and we put off in the various stations, you know, where it was to be dispatched. And then eventually they took the mail off the trains. And I had to go to Wichita, and it was from there that I retired,
INTER: Did you come back to Newton?
MR. R,: No, I continued to live in Newton. I didn’t move. When they took the mail off the trains, then I went to Wichita, commuted, and then I retired from the Post Office there.
INTER.: Could you describe a typical day on the train, dispatching the mail?
MR. R.: You would go down say an hour and a half before the arrival
of the train and work the mail that was already there for you and begin working it, and then when the train came in then they'd brought you more mail and of course it was quite a hustle to get that mail out before you, to get the number one mail out before you got to Wichita, because that was the first supply and then from there on you supplied the various stations along the line. I was, it was quite a job for you to work this mail and then have it ready to dispatch at the stations along the way because some of them were nonstop stations where you had to throw your mail off and also catch mail. And there was of course where you stopped. Well on the mail cars they had a bar that hang down across the door and you had a handle up here and you pulled that handle down and it would stretch that bar up out like that at an angle and it had the place up in there where the mail would as you go and catch the mail, well then it would run up in the little place there and you could take it down from there. In the event you had to dispatch mail at a nonstop station then you had to throw it off from the, as the train was running perhaps, say 80,90 miles an hour and you'd do your catch likewise.
INTER. : How did you throw it off?
MR. R.: Just out the door like that, out so it would be away from the
train because if it were too close to the train chances are it would be cut off, pulled back under the wheels of the train. The speed of the train would naturally pull things to it so therefore you had to be sure and throw it out. So as to avoid the mail being whipped back under the train and cut up.
INTER.: Did you do it manually?
MR. R.: Yes, you did it all manually. And then of course, in catching
a pouch, why then you did that by this bar that pulled down and then
it would run up arm there, kind of an arm.
INTER.: They had some good catchers on the other side when you were tossing it!
MR. R.: You have catchers on both sides because they depended on where
you were supposed to throw your mail. It depended on where the station
was and where the crane was. If you were to throw your mail and catch it. See this mail would be out there on a crane standing up out there, the track and the pouch would be strapped. It would be strapped to this crane that stands out there. And then, of course, when you contact the pouch, then it's supposed to trip. Well, we delivered letters and what they call parcel post and papers. We delivered both. Oh
It would be almost impossible to estimate the amount that you delivered on a trip, because I and there are times that you have money too, registered mail and sometimes it was in silver. Now it was often in silver. When it was going to camps where these soldiers were.
Going to these camps where these soldiers were. They would often send money, just money, and of course under some conditions the money had to be guarded and you had to be very careful to see that it wasn't taken*the money or anything like that.
INTER.: Was, this was World War II?
MR. R.: That's been since the war. Just like down here at Wichita
at the Air Force base down there. Well, there was a time they would make a lot of deliveries in cash money. And of course, it had to be registered, and you were be responsible for its delivery.
MRS. ROBERSON: At times, they had so much money they would have to jDe put
on both sides of the car to keep it from, oh it was so heavy that it, they couldn't keep it all on one side of the car. They had to separate it to keep it from turning the car over.
INTER.: Oh my goodness.
MRS. R.: Well, I thought that was interesting. He could probably tell
you more about it.
MR. R.: This side, so much on the bottom.
INTER.: Did the train actually sway sometimes?
MR. R.: It would, if you'd get too much on one side.
INTER.: (I asked him the names some of his co-workers)
MR. R.: I didn't know the engineers. All I knew were those that
were in the mail car with me.
INTER:: Who were they?
MR. R.: Well, I first ran with a fellow by the name of uh Morgan.
I ran with a fellow by the name of Morgan. And the mail service then on I had various persons with whom I ran. Even, through the years I had just numerous ones with whom I ran. Kenneth Slender now he was a Newton man and he originally worked here in the Post Office. But he also went on the train and we ran together quite a bit, consistently And he lives here in Kansas now. There were just numerous ones of which I ran, Vollbracht.
MRS. R.: Yes, Vollbracht.
MR. R.: Then : MartfneZythen Ron-oh just numerous. Well you have
those names. Well, I ran with, as she said, Morris Porter of Wichita,
(A train of the Santa Fe can be heard in the background) and Kelly, Hoyton Kelly of Oklahoma City, and Chet Meyer of Wichita and I guess that's enough, Matthew Merriweather. But of course, he's now in Chicago.
INTER.: But he did come through here?
MR. R.: We did work together. But he is now in Civil Service in
Chicago.
INTER.: (l asked about any robberies or wrecks on the train)
MR. R.: A robbery on the train which I was riding. But we have had
wrecks. We have ah had wrecks.-I wasn't hurt in a wreck of any kind.
But it was commonplace every so often to run into a car or something like that. Sometimes the people would be only injured and then again, they would be killed. The worst-
MRS. R.: The incident of your car running off.
MR. R.: Yeah, that's one incident we had one time. Well about the
wreck, we were going down through Texas there. And we were traveling about 90 miles an hour, and we hit one of these oil graders, one of these big graders you know, like they grade the sheets with, you know out in the country. Great big diesel grader. And we hit that, and it just tore that thing up. Some of it went this way and some went the other way and all. And they had a time trying to find pieces of the man. And at that time we felt that we were going to wreck. But it so happened that we didn't. We reached for the bars. They have some bars in cars. And, of course, in case you felt like you were going to have an accident, you'd want to reach for the bars so as to try to protect yourself as much as possible. And so, urn we finally came to a stop and didn't wreck. Lady across the street there, on across the highway from where we were, she was sitting out on the porch and so she thought every moment that the train was going to turn over. But we didn't. And that's the worst wreck that I was in. Now on one occasion, it was in another time, when they had steam engines; they were coming from Oklahoma City this way and, so happened that the engine became uncoupled from the rest of the train. And, of course in events of that sort, you'd hear the air. And that's always a signal for you to grab something when you'd hear that air. And so then we immediately reach for the rods, something, wherever you could, that was stable.
So then finally the train came to a halt. And, I went and looked out the door and saw that the engine was gone. The engine went five miles away before stopping. It went to Perry, Oklahoma, before stopping.
But that was the danger. Had the engine not ran off like they did, it was the danger of the cars catching up with him and knocking him off the track, see, because it was a passenger train, and all the
weight of those cars, if they had caught the engine and hit it, it would have knocked it off the track. And so when he found out he was uncoupled, he tore out. So, they're supposed to automatically stop over a short period of time. And so that's what they did - the brakes set eventually. And it was at that time that I went to the door and looked out, and found out we had no engine. But, nothing bad happened from the accident. I mean, it didn't hurt anybody. But we went five miles into Perry. There are various experiences that you can have though, and they kind of worry
MRS. R.: There were floods and you have the detours in the spring.
MR. R.: Yeah, there have been times that we had to detour because
of high waters, something like that. Much rain. We'd have to leave our regular line and go around another line and sometimes it would delay you quite a bit in getting to your destination. But those are incidents that happened sometimes.
INTER.: Do you remember the roundhouse?
MR. R.: I remember the roundhouse, but I never did do anything about it. You see, there was the difference there. I worked for the government And the roundhouse really belonged to the Railroad. We now, we only ran on the railroad on the cars, uh because see the government paid the railroad so much you see to haul their cars. And so, therefore it was a property of the railroad, these cars were the property of the railroad, and the government paid so much for the use of hauling, and we had no connection with the railroad at all, other than we just ride on the railroad.
INTER.: Did it have "U.S. Mail" on the outside of it?
MR. R.: Oh yes, the cars had U.S. Mail, Post Office, I'm sorry, you
know, you could even drop your mail in there. Like you pull up to a station. That was a common occurrence when they had the mail on
the train. You pull up to a station, there and folks would come up
there and drop their mail into the car there right there, as you were going on. Which made better service then than there is now.
INTER.: Really.
MR. R.: It made for better service because
MRS. R.: Tell them about some of the funny incidents about people
coming up without stamps on them or without addresses.
MR. R.: Yeah, well, they'd do a lot of that. There were folks, well,
people get in a hurry in doing things, you know, as usual. And I don't know. Maybe they were trying to rush down to the train.
before it departed. And so they'd maybe bring one down without an address on it--
INTER.: Won't get there.
HR. R.: Or they would bring one without a stamp on it. And things like that. Just normal happenings with people. But they're trying to get their mail off on the train. At that time, when you were working mail en route, your mail got to its destination quicker than it does now, of course, it's a different situation. Mail is worked in a stationary unit and then they have a different means of transportation unit for it and so, I think, personally, that the mail service is not as good as it was at that time.
INTER. ; It was quite a job for you to be doing.
MR. R.: It was interesting and it was a lot of work also. Because
urn, until you worked your mail up, you were plenty busy. Because you trying to make sure you got all your mail out by the time you go to the points of destination. And so therefore, it rushed you quite a bit.
MRS. R.: Tell them about the preparation.
MR. R.: Oh yeah, well, the first thing you have to do, you had to
study schemes of various states, the states that you had to work the mail. You had to learn all the post offices in that state and the best means of dispatch for your mail. And the various states with whom you had to dispatch mail. Well, you had to learn them also, and so, therefore it took quite a bit of your time and your effort to learn those states and you'd have, they would have examinations where you had to, you had some practice cards. And you had those little cards
and you had to throw them into a box. It was a case, practice case
and you had to throw them in there, which was a typical of your way
of working the mail, on the train because you had these little boxes
on the train that you put certain mail in, you know, and this case was typical of that. And so, you had to make these examinations and then you had to make a good grade on it to pass. Because if you got below 95, you flunked the examination. And so you had to make a good
average all the time to qualify for that. And so, you had quite a
bit to do to get ready for that service. And, at one time they had, you had to take space examination. How much mail would go into
a certain area, how many sacks of mail or pouches would go in there.
Because, it was upon that record that they paid this train uh the railroad also. And so all of that had to be considered as well. &
MRS. R.: The postal laws and regulations.
MR. R.: Yeah, yeah, you had to deal with the postal laws and regulations
^Refer to Bess (Mrs. Art) Darling interview, as well.
and all. And there were just quite a few things that you had to get up on, that is in the work.
INTER. They always have had pretty high standards.
MR. R. s Yes, they were pretty high standards and it was quite necessary to maintain high standards, too. After all, the main purpose of the whole thing was to get the mail to its destination quickest. So it was quite a job. You asked, well, when did you come to Newton. Game to Newton in 1944® and of course I doubt at that time if there were over about 10,000 people here at that time.
Might not have been that many. I’m not sure. But came to Newton and started to run out of Newton. Much of this town was just woods.
Out west here and out north. Most anywhere you go; the town has built so much over those, over those thirty years that I've been here. And, but I can see so many places where it was just woods. Well, right across here you would think you were going into the woods, when you leave this comer here. And when we came here, this area right here was. Vacant. It was nobody, it was just two lots and most of those houses were across the street, but it was two lots here. And so we were able bo purchase these lots from an individual. We had to do it like that because there was so much discrimination here at that time. We wanted to buy a place, and every place that you saw advertised, that seemed to have been a nice place, we were turned down because of race. And so, you would look in the paper and you’d see where a nice little home was advertised in a certain area or a certain location, and you'd call about it and tell them who you were.
And they’d say, "Yeah, Mr. Roberson, that place is for sale. Well, why don’t you bring your wife down and we *11 be glad to show it to you." And so then when we'd go down there, I'd say, "I want to see the place at such and such a location." They'd say, "Are you Mr. Roberson?" "Yeah." "Well, Mr. Roberson, after I talked to you,
I found out that there was a certain condition that existed, and I can't show you that place. But I tell you what, we have some nice little bungalows down on East Twelfth." That's in the area, at times where it flooded, and your car would be inundated under there.
You couldn't even see the top of the car, it would be so deep. And so they told us that they had some of those little places that they could, they'd show us. But they couldn't show us these other places that were advertised. And then so as a result, we couldn't buy a fairly decent place. So we managed to buy these lots and after having bought these lots, it was rumored that we had the lots. And we were in-undated with people coming, wanting to buy the lots. "I understand you have some lots up on Walnut." "Yes." "Well, I'd like to buy them." We didn't know who the people were, but then nearly every day somebody was coming and wanted to know about the lots up here. They didn't seem to have been important until we purchased the lots. And they thought we were going to use them. So, we maintained the lots here, and finally, we bought this house out in the country. It was about twenty miles from here. Five miles
East of Goessel and, we moved this house in. And it was just a country house. And we moved it in and then we had to make repairs on it. And we're still making repairs on it. Been quite an expensive thing. But just an ordinary farm house, with a long porch on the side and whatnot, no lights, no gas and no water, anything like that. So all of those things had to be put in after we got the house in.
MRS. R.: But there was the lot that was standing over, you know,
the house was standing over there before, they put it over the basement.
MR. R.: Oh yeah, yeah, having moved the house in, why the, of
Course well, before we moved the house, we had a basement dug and poured. Then when they brought the house in, why we had to set the house in, why we had to see the house over there before setting it on the basement, see? And so that was quite interesting to see them move a big house from there.
INTER.: How did they do that?
MR. R.: They had jacks and the like and they moved it right over.
And set it right over the basement Hike 4:hat. So it was interesting.
And, another thing was to have seen the house being moved. I had never seen that before, and I laid off from work at the time to help in bringing it in-that was interesting. And so just so many interesting things that I hadn't seen.
MRS. R.: I was talking about the offers we had. We had offers to
MR. R.: Oh yes, they, they made all kinds of offers to buy because
they didn't want me to live up here. And they say, "I double your money. Whatever you put in it, I'll double it." Well, there was a matter of having a place to live. And so I thought it was my duty to
MRS. R.: This house on the corner that was for sale before we moved
this one in--so we thought we could buy that on—it was for sale.
(There was this house) on the corner, across the street that was for sale, when we were in need of a house. We had these lots, but we didn't have the house yet and we didn't know where and when we were going get one. So, we were, we went to a real estate man, and he said, he knew this house was for sale and he knew who owned it. So he said,
1 will call her and tell her you are interested in it, and want to go see it. And he called her, and he told her that he had some people who wanted to look at the house and he thought they would buy it. She said, "Yes, she wanted to sell it, yes." He said, "Well I want to tell you that they are Negroes." And she said, "Oh, no." She said, I'll have to see the neighbors. I don't think the neighbors would like that."
He told her, "They own those lots in that block already and they're going to be in the block whether they're in that house or not."
She said, "I’ll have to talk to the neighbors. I can't...” And she wouldn't consider it. She wouldn't consider it. So we went on and got this one.
INTER.: Yes. It's nice. I mean, really. It's interesting.
MRS. R.: Well, I think we did more with this one than we could have
done with that one anyway. So Im pleased with it.
INTER: It's really pretty.
MRS. R.: Thank you.
INTER.: So you did have some trials.
MRS. R.: Oh, definitely, we had trials. Definitely we had trials.
And I think we did a lot of things that we were disappointed about.
I know when we first came here, first thing when we started to go to, we were young and we wanted to go places and do things. So, we wanted to start to the picture show, they'd say "Oh, you better be careful 'cause there's only one place you can sit in the picture show.
And that's in the back on the left.” I said, "I will not do it!
And so, we went to the picture show and my husband led the way.
And he went down the aisle and we went too close. I don't like to be
too close to the picture. But we did this just for demonstration.
And he went about three seats from the very front row. And then we went over in the middle. So I nudged him. I say, "If they're going to
come and tell me to move, they're going to have to come across a
lot of people and get over here and then we can talk it out.” But nobody bothered. From that day on, well we went and told everybody else; you just go on and sit where you want to. And if they ask you to move, you tell them you're perfectly comfortable where you are. You don't want to, you care to move. And see what will happen, just see what will happen. So, nothing happened about that. But there we did have trouble getting in the swimming pool. He took care of that, yes. It was ?
INTER.: When was that, 1950?
MRS. R.: Yeah, let's see that must have been-we've got the date on that.
MR. R.: By the time we got it opened. But we negotiated prior to that
time. But upon arrival here, it was, ah-.
MRS. R.: A little bit before that, Augustus, don't you think, because the picture show. Well, you know Eleanor was here and Eleanor was '•
here and she was the first-
MR. R.: Oh, yeah was one of those for the test, wasn't she?
MRS. R.: She was the first that could go
MR. R.: That could have been that could have been about '50, maybe
MRS. R.: First Black person to swim in there. Because we made her go
in there, my niece, and we made her go in. And after he was- oh, they had some years of trying to do this. And then Augustus promised the city he was going to sue them-um-through this organization N. double A. C.P. He was President of NAACP. He said, well we will going to sue you. And so then they say they couldn’t stand a suit.
He said, well, we've been trying to talk negotiate for these years, and you haven't done anything and we don't have any alternative.
So then they said for us to come down. And we went down arid with a committee. And the mayor and two or three others went out for a minute and they came back in just a minute. "We decided we were going to open the pool, we decided-" But there were a/lot of things in between, when they were discussing this. I remember the man who said, "I cannot, I cannot allow, cannot permit Blacks to go in the pool, because if a White girl would come up pregnant," he said, "I would never forget, forgive myself for that."
So Augustus said, "She wouldn't get it in the pool, if she got like that." And they all said, "She will not get it in the pool.
You can be sure of that." And so, then he told them that they have done it a lot and they have never been in the-Blacks weren't going in the pool. But they have finally wore that down and it was over. And what is so amusing, he's never been in the pool.
I learned to swim after that. I didn't even know how. I learned to swim. He's never been in the pool, yet. The children, our children, they--we took them out and they learned to swim. And a lot of other people. But that was something we did, the swimming pool. And, and, he had the same experience with eating places. When we came here, you couldn't sit down anywhere and have a meal or a Coke or-
INTER: Not even a Coke?! Hmm.
MRS. R.: So, they worked with that, and finally the state was-We
were not the only people.
MR. R.: It was discrimination when we got here. And of course
it was a surprise to me because I came from a state where discrimination
was legal. That was according to their constitution.
INTER.: It was Illegal?
MR. R.: No, it was legal.
INTER.: It was legal.
MR. R.: Because their constitution said they could have separate
but equal facilities. And of course, they didn't have them equal.
But they had them separate. And so that was really legal in the state from which I came. But in coming here, I said I'm going
to a Free State. And I expected to find things different, where there was no discrimination. And, so, after getting here, well then I found out that there was more discrimination here than there was where I came from. Denison was a very liberal type of town. No, in Texas, you had all kinds of, of trouble, of kinds of town.
You had some that were liberal. You had some were just as mean as could be, and whatnot. You had all types, just like you have all types of weather. Well, they had some of that in Texas, too.
And so • ' when I come here well then I didn't expect to be confro¬nted with so much prejudice. But I found out that there was more in a way that it was there. Because, there if uh even though the state law uh said they would have separate but equal. But if you wanted to catch a bus, anything, you'd just go and get on the bus, sit anywhere you want to, and nobody was going to say anything about it. But right here, in this state, they had confrontations about that.
MRS. R-- They sure did. They sure did.
MR. R.: Yeah, and so folks had to threaten to sue them to get that
taken care of.
MRS. R.: On the bus, on the bus, they would ask you, they would not
as you in that town where we came from to go to any certain place.
But you could get on the bus here, and they would tell you to get to the back. And there was one tickled me so much. I didn't see this, but she told me. There was a light-complected woman who lived here. And she was going over to Wichita, and she got on the bus, and she sat behind the driver. And he looked at her. And he couldn't tell what she was. He said, "What are you, anyway?" He wanted to tell--And she said, I would have said, "I'm a citizen of the United States. I'm a Newtonian or something like that. I wouldn't have bothered about it. But she went on and told them she was a Negro.
And he said, "Well, you have to go back." And he asked. I thought that was funny. A friend of mine's light complected. Her husband is dark complected. And they got on the bus and so they told them to move. He took for granted that they were Blacks. And he could hardly tell, 'cause she was real light and he was quite dark. So he told them. So they wrote them, they wrote them up and had got that started. But you, you couldn't eat anywhere-You couldn't go any place and have a Coke or anything and they were--it was just quite a lot of discrimination on account of race. And when they got that taken care of, Augustus, there lost; spent a lot of money by he took a young man and he would send him in different places to eat and he would give him the money to pay for it. As the end, ultimately, the poor boy was so sick from going to places and then-. They didn't
throw him out when they found out they were going to be sued if they continued that.
MR. R.: They finally got a law passed stating the fact that it was
unlawful to discriminate because of race or color. And it was at that time that we attempted to get to send this fellow in, send him places to see if they'd serve. One of the restaurateurs, restaurant owners, he said that he would go out of business before he'd serve Negroes. And so, I was determined to put him out of business. And so, but anyway, he did serve, but he eventually went out of business after that. But he did serve at that time.
So we had all of these confrontations, but they were for the good of Newton, because it helped the town. It helped the town so much. Had it not been done, why then we would have still been around almost helpless. And we're very few people here, but the town has grown over it. And the funny the thing about it, what I've
never been able to understand, there are those who raise so much havoc over a situation when you are asking to be treated as equal individuals or as other citizens. They raise so much havoc over it and then once it's done, everyone gets along fine. That's what you can't understand. You wonder how it is that they are so hard to understand that. Now once it's done, well everybody's all right, its fine. Now we are when we moved in here, they were so bitterly opposed to our getting a having a house in here, having a home here, and I'm not sure just who all the neighbors were. I'm not sure. Anyway, all the neighbors are fine. We're all friends, good friends, right now. And-
MRS. R.: Some of the same ones are here, some of the same ones.
MR. R.: Some of the same ones. I'm not sure all. No, no not all.
A lot of them have died out. But then, some of the ones that I could easily think were the one who, who didn't want us up here.
But-
INTER.: But now you're friends.
MRS.R.: We're friends with all of them. There's not a one
MR. R.: There's not a one that I would think of other than a good
neighbor. We speak, we talk, we chat and so on and so, it's just a funny thing about people. But, no, I wondered about situation when I came here. For instance, I at an early age, at an early time,
I asked about the Chamber of Commerce, whether they had Blacks in the Chamber of Commerce. And I found out they didn't and so, I finally gave them my name as, on an application. And I was accepted. And through the years, I worked with then. And through the years
I worked with them for quite a few years before my work got of such
a nature that I couldn't attend the meeting and then I had to resign
sign then, but I worked with them for years. And I worked on committees, everything. And I was the only Black that belonged and so, when I first began to participate in their meetings and whatever they were having going on. It was quite strange to me, because it was always amusing to me. At that time, they were meeting at the, this hotel here, now I've forgotten the name of the hotel. It’s been torn down.
INTER.: The Ripley?
MR.R: Yeah, at that time the Ripley was still there at that time.
And uh, of course we weren’t allowed to go to the Ripley. And so of course, they would have a dinner or something. The Chamber of Commerce would have a dinner. And they would have it at the Ripley. Well, I was a member of the Chamber of Commerce, so I thought it was my indispensable duty to go to the dinner. So, if the dinner was supposed to be at 6:30, I went at 6:15. I wanted to be there early, so as they came in they would see me there. I wanted them to get used to it. And uh of course, I went in there. And I'd sit in the lobby, you know, rare back. Guys come in. They'd look and see me and maybe nudge another one. And they'd look and so I - I'd sit there just the same. And then there were business fellows that knew me and of course, they'd come over and speak to me and shake
hands. And it was such a strange thing for me to be seen there,
you see. So then, when they'd get ready for us to go to the dining room they'd say, All right, let's go to the dining room" "Well I'd just jump right up with them and here we'd go. But then get in there, well then they formed a line on both sides of the tables.
And I would try to be careful as to leave a seat between me and
the man that was just ahead of me. I didn't know exactly what his attitude was and I'd say, I'll just leave a seat there. And then if anybody comes and takes the seat, they'll know where they're sitting. And so, I did it like that. And I got in there and we would various ones that knew me said, "Listen, do you know everybody on the table here?" And they would introduce me and so on like that.
And so, eventually, got along fine. As I said it took a few cases like that, occasions like that, before they got used to it. And therefore, I went every time I was in and they had something--it might be a luncheon or dinner or whatever it was. I'd go, because I knew I would see people that hadn't seen me before. And so I wanted them all to get used to, to having seen me. And so therefore I, sometimes it would five or six dollars a week or more I'd have to pay out so as to keep up while I was there. You know, when I was in town. And I would attend them as much as possible. So it worked out well, and to know that it did. They had a principle of schools here by the name of Scott, some years back. And Scott and I were invited guests to the board of directors meeting.
They had a dinner. It was Thanksgiving dinner. And so, of course you know, they'd put on all the, everything that goes along with the dinner, you know.
INTER.: All the trimmings.
MR. R.: Everything. And we were invited guests and so, I realized
then that we got along real well. And I never really had anything to complain about during my relationship with the Chamber of Commerce.
I was treated very royally, worked on committees and all. But why, when it got to where I couldn’t attend the meetings then I resigned, because urn I didn’t want to belong if I couldn't ever go. So that's the reason I discontinued my membership. 1 think it was for the betterment of the community, too. And so that’s why I didn't mind making the investment and making the sacrifice because I thought it wojd help others. And just like she spoke about restaurants here, that were, were discriminating and all, why then, the effort I made helped others , you know and the picture show and all of those things made it better for all of us. And so I feel that it was worth it...in a free state that you would have conditions to exist like that--'supposed to have been a free state. Ah, now as I said, Texas and Oklahoma and Missouri and the: like, you wouldn’t be surprised Arkansas. But Kansas was supposed to have been a free state. And uh of course, I found out, prior to going out, about it. I found out that there was no legislation along that line, see, it was no legislation at that time at all. I--I inquired about that and so I was advised that should come up, and you go to court and you win, then it will become a law. It will be legislation in there about it, in the book. And so, thank goodness we didn't have to go that far. We let them understand that we would and so that was sufficient. And it has gotten much better over the years. And no, as a result, Newton is just growing like everything, it's building up fine.
MRS. R.: (^Commenting on prejudice the events of integrating) and
we’re just so afraid to die, because we don’t know what that is.
We don’t know. We’ve read a lot, but nobody can tell us who has died.
INTER.: That’s right.
MRS. R.: Yes, nobody who has been there can tell
INTER.: Go ahead.
MRS. R.: Well, what I was about to tell you, it was just, this
fear, and we don’t know each other and we fear each other because we don’t know each other. And I think we should be exposed to each other more, so we can find out that we have more in common than we realize. We have more in common than we have different.
INTER.: That’s beautiful.
MRS. R.: The pigment of the skin and the texture of the hair is the
only difference. And we can be just as bad and just as good as the other one, the other person. Just the texture of the hair and the pigment of the skin.
INTER.: Let me get your full name.
MRS. R.: My, my name is Ora C. Roberson.
MR. R.: The "C" is just an initial.
MRS. R.: Uhuh, just an initial.
INTER.: O.K. And let me get your full name again.
MR. R.: My full name is, Augustus W. Roberson. Commonly, I say
A.W., but it’s Augustus W. Roberson.
INTER.: O.K. And I want to thank both of you very much.
MR. R.: Well that's perfectly all right. Glad to have had you.
MRS. R.: It was nice to have had you. Nice to have had you in the
home. You're a very nice girl.
INTER.: Thank you.
MR. R.: I have spoken out to Bethel on numerous occasions. They've
had me come out there and talk out there.
INTER.: Unhuh.
MR. R.: I imagine half a dozen times or so.

Original Format

Audio Cassette Tape

Duration

00:52:40

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128kbps