Cover

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Half Title, Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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Contents

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pp. vii-x

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A Definition of Oral History

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p. xi

Oral histories are personal memories shared from the perspective of the narrator. By means of recorded interviews, oral history documents collect spoken memories and personal commentaries of historical significance. These interviews are transcribed verbatim and minimally edited for readability. ...

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Foreword

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pp. xii-xv

One of the earliest pictures in my life history scrapbook was taken in front of 1016 Rondo Avenue. It may have been the summer of 1948, for I appear to have been about three years of age. My family lived in an upstairs apartment above the McFarland family in a block of substantial homes. ...

Map of the Rondo Neighborhood

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pp. xvi-xx

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Mary Chambers Bradley Hamilton

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pp. 3-8

My full name is Mary Chambers Bradley Hamilton,1 and I was born in 1903. My grandfather2 lived in the state of New York, in Troy, and the woman he married lived in New York City. I don’t know how they met, but my grandmother3 was a millionaire. She married this Black man and her people wiped their hands on her ...

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Richard Morris Mann

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pp. 9-20

My name is Richard Morris Mann.1 My first job was for my grandfather, Turner Starks,2 who came up from Mississippi. His parents were slaves. He came up here by boat and worked for a White doctor as a valet. He never went to a barber college or anything like that. He used to cut the doctor’s hair and the boys in the family’s hair ...

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Willie Lee Frelix

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pp. 21-29

My name is Willie Lee Frelix.1 My wife2 and I were living in Mississippi, going to different places to find work. She come to Minnesota on a visit with her auntie, and while she was here she put in applications for jobs. Later her auntie called her and told her there was a job. We had two kids at that time. She took them and she took off. ...

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Benjamin Louis Alexander Senior

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pp. 30-35

I’m Ben Alexander.1 In 1939 I was going to Langston University in Oklahoma and I met a young lady, Jewel Mann,2 from Minneapolis. We conversed and so forth and got to know each other and started going with each other. To help pay for school, in the summertime I’d run on the road3 as a waiter from Chicago to Minneapolis ...

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Gladys Clemons Miller

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pp. 36-41

I am Gladys Clemons Miller.1 My husband, Jesse Miller, I always called him Miller,2 was born in Mississippi and he went to college at Tennessee State in Memphis. He graduated with a B average. So he had an education and everything. He had a teaching certificate where he could teach school. ...

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Anisah Hanifah Dawan

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pp. 42-49

I’m Anisah Hanifah Dawan1 and I’ve lived in Saint Paul since 1922. I was born in North Dakota. I was transferred to a home2 for orphan children because my mother had died. That was in Owatonna, Minnesota.3 And I remember being in an orphanage or hospital where there were cribs in the room, and there was another little boy. He was a Black boy. ...

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H. Janabelle Murphy Taylor

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pp. 50-55

I’m Janabelle Murphy Taylor.1 My parents were long members of Hallie Q. Brown2 themselves. And Mother3 belonged to a club as a teenager, although Mother was born in the Rice Street area. But she still associated with the folks who lived in what is called the Rondo area. My parents always lived at 1354 Thomas, and I’ve lived there all my life. ...

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Bernice Greenfield Wilson

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pp. 56-64

I’m Bernice Wilson,1 mother of Patricia Wilson Crutchfield, Butchie, Steve, and Tim Wilson. In 1949 we moved from Chicago to Saint Paul. We lived at 633 Iglehart, and in 1953 I moved to 892 Rondo, then to Carroll before the freeway came through.
My husband2 was a railway mail clerk. ...

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James Stafford Griffin

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pp. 65-78

My name is James Stafford Griffin.1 I was born July 6, 1917, and raised on Rondo. My grandmother2 came to Saint Paul in 1906. We’ve been here ever since. And when my grandmother first came to Saint Paul she lived on Rondo about two doors west of Farrington on the north side of the street. ...

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Melvin Whitfield Carter Senior

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pp. 79-91

My first remembrance of Rondo is everything horse and buggy. My name is Melvin Whitfield Carter Sr.1 I remember the milk cars, and the things would be pulled by horses. And I remember it was a very smelly town at that time because the horses weren’t—they had crews that would come around with the little shovel and shovel that up, you know, as fast as they could. ...

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Ventress Laroe Jackson Roberson

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pp. 92-96

My name is Ventress Jackson Roberson.1 In 1923 my parents got married in Mississippi, and then came back to Minnesota because my father2 was running on the road.3
He was a Pullman Porter4 for the Pullman Company.5 You know, when you are young, you don’t observe all what your parents do, but I do know that my dad had to work five years before he was a Pullman Porter. ...

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Gloria Ellen Gilbreath Wilson

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pp. 97-100

I remember growing up on Rondo. My name is Gloria Ellen Gilbreath Wilson. 1 I’ve been here seventy-seven years. I was born here at St. Luke’s Hospital.2 We lived at 667 Rondo on the second floor.
My mother3 worked for Donaldson Company4 on Pelham. They made air cleaners. She was a matron there. ...

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Buelah Mae Vivian Baines Swan

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pp. 101-111

I am Buelah Baines Swan.1 I was raised out near Como and Dale by my parents, in my parents’ home. My father2 came here after the start of World War I3 as a timber cutter for the war movement from Arkansas. He had been seeing my mother4 as young people, and he brought her here as his bride. They married here and purchased a home out at 1094 North Kent Street. ...

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Gloria Jeanne Lindstrom Lewis

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pp. 112-121

My full name is Gloria Jeanne Lewis.1 I grew up, actually, two places: in the Como Park2 neighborhood and then from Como Park we moved over to Marshall Avenue. I met my husband3 at the Catholic Youth Center, at a dance. I was seventeen. At that time it was not a very good time to be dating Black and White. I mean that was actually a no-no. ...

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Don Gough Wilson

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pp. 122-133

My name is Don Wilson.1 I’m seventy-four years old. I was orphaned. I had a sister, Fontella, she was two years older than I was. We were in the Owatonna State Public School when I became conscious of anything. I was moved to 575 West Central. It was my first foster home. ...

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Constance Jones Price

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pp. 134-148

I remember growing up in Rondo’s Oatmeal Hill.1 I’m dr. Connie Jones Price2 and I’m a native of Saint Paul, Minnesota, and a member of a family that’s been here over a hundred years.
My grandfather3 was recruited from Tennessee by Saint Paul businessmen. He didn’t just decide to come here on his own ...

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Barbara “Petey” Vassar Gray

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pp. 149-157

My name is Barbara Vassar Gray.1 I’m the youngest of the seven Vassar girls. My nickname was Petey. Hardly anybody knew me as Barbara. I grew up in Saint Paul at Mechanic Arts High School.2 I went to the University of Minnesota,3 and I went to St. Catherine’s4 for my graduate degree. I left here when I was twenty-three years old. ...

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Kathryn Coram Gagnon

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pp. 158-174

My name is Kathryn Coram Gagnon.1 I was raised on St. Anthony and Mackubin, one block north of Rondo, two blocks east of Dale, in Saint Paul, Minnesota. I lived in Rondo in the Thirties, Forties, Fifties, Sixties, Seventies, Eighties, Nineties, and right now! ...

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Gloria Yvonne Presley Massey

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pp. 175-180

I am Gloria Presley Massey.1 Hallie Q. Brown2 brought us all together. Hallie was at 553 Aurora. I was more into the community at Hallie Q. Brown than I was at my church. From the time I was little, because when my mother3 worked, I had to go over to Hallie Q. Brown for their day-care center. That was fine because she knew I would be okay at the day-care center. ...

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Floyd George Smaller Junior

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pp. 181-186

I am Floyd G. Smaller Jr.1 In my latter high school years, and a few years after I graduated, I was in the Gopher Elks Drum and Bugle Corps.2 This was 1953. Growing up as kids, we all wanted to be a part of it. We’d see these people beating these drums and blowing these bugles and the majorettes and everybody on the street watching them, ...

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Marvin Roger Anderson

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pp. 187-199

My full name is Marvin Roger Anderson.1 I define my life as the two major divisions—Saint Paul, which taught me so many things, and then after going away to school, acquiring an education which has kept me going for the rest of my life. And it’s funny how when you look back on your life and you say what were the major influences in your life, ...

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Ora Lee O’Neal Patterson

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pp. 200-206

I’m Ora Lee Patterson.1 My maiden name was O’Neal. My father2 was a Pullman Porter.3 He was gone a lot, but he had a short run. He ran up to Brainerd, Minnesota,4 and so they were short runs that Daddy went on. The railroad was the reason why many Black men came here to Minnesota. They were good-paying jobs up North, where they could come and make a living for their family. ...

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Mary Kalleen Murray Boyd

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pp. 207-220

My name is Mary Kalleen Murray Boyd.1 My grandparents’ past experiences helped me to really understand the necessity for education. In my grandmother’s2 case, she came from Mississippi and she was threatened. She was told that she could not leave because she was the nanny for the landowner’s children. He was trying to hold her hostage, ...

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Nathaniel Abdul Khaliq

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pp. 221-229

I am Nathaniel Abdul Khaliq,1 formerly Nathaniel Raymond Davis, also known as Nick Davis. My closest friends and relatives still call me Nick. I was born and raised at 304 Rondo, and I remember our house was probably a quarter of a way off of the cross street of Farrington. I remember Love’s Cleaners2 being next door to us. ...

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Alumni of the Three Fours Girls Club

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pp. 230-248

Paula: There were two Paulas in our friendship group: Paula Wood, and I was always known as Paula T. Paula and I decided we wanted a club, and we asked our mothers6, 7 who were visiting at the time. They thought it sounded okay. They would help us. We gathered people from our neighborhood, church friends, and began the club. ...

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Melvin Thomas Henderson

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pp. 249-258

I am Mel Henderson.1 My parents migrated from Kansas. I think they came for employment purposes. My dad was a Pullman Porter,2 and my mother, basically, was a housekeeper.
I lived for quite a few years at 450 St. Anthony Avenue. My mother had a way of disciplining us if we were doing something we weren’t supposed to. She just said, “Go out and get your switch.” ...

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Deborah Gilbreath Montgomery

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pp. 259-269

My name is Debbie Gilbreath Montgomery.1 I grew up at 978 St. Anthony, which is on the corner of St. Anthony and Chatsworth. I was born to Gloria Gilbreath Wilson2 and Antonia Pedro Garcia,3 who were not married at the time, and I was adopted by my grandparents, Isabella Gertrude Gilbreath,4 whom I called Mama, and Elbert Gilbreath,5 whom I called Dad. ...

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David Vassar Taylor

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pp. 270-279

I am David Vassar Taylor.1 While growing up in Saint Paul my family lived on several streets, including at 1016 Rondo. I grew up in a large extended family in a supportive community. Although we all have different last names, the family name in the matriarchal sense is Vassar, and so anytime you talked about Black families in Saint Paul, ...

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Teresina “Willow” Carter Frelix

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pp. 280-283

My given name is Teresina Carter.1 I married and now my last name is Frelix. I prefer to be called Willow. I lived at 717 Rondo, and when I was ten we moved. That was because the freeway was coming through. That was because they were buying up all the houses on Rondo, and we had to leave. I remember my parents were very concerned. ...

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William “Billy” L. Collins Junior

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pp. 284-292

Being raised in Rondo influenced my character and values. I am Billy Collins.1 I am the executive director of the YWCA2 Saint Paul, and a lifelong resident of Saint Paul and the Summit-University area.3 ...

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Wilbert John Dugas Junior

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pp. 293-297

I am Wilbert John Dugas Jr.1 I lived at 551 Carroll Avenue, where the King Center is now. The Ober Boys Club2 inspired me in the community. There was always mentors, always. I don’t care if they were White or Indian or Black, they were mentors and these people cared. Like nowadays you get the care, but the kids aren’t even listening. ...

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William Kelso “Corky” Finney

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pp. 298-308

I’m Bill Finney,1 Saint Paul Police Chief, and I grew up at 437 Rondo. My home would have been between Western Avenue and Arundel on Rondo, north side of the street. This is Cornmeal Valley,2 a wonderful, diverse community. It was a community of people who knew each other, every house. People lived in those houses for generations. ...

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Yusef Mgeni

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pp. 309-324

My name is Yusef Mgeni,1 and I am a lifetime resident of the SummitUniversity2 community. My great-grandparents homesteaded on the area that is now St. Albans and University. As I understand it, Saint Paul was the end of one trunk of the Underground Railroad, and on my father’s3 side of the family, ...

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Final Word

David Vassar Taylor

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pp. 325-326

I remember my grandfather Joseph Vassar. His home was on Central Avenue, two doors west of Pilgrim Baptist Church. Back in the day, when we had family gatherings at one or another of his daughter’s homes (he had seven), he seemed ill at ease with the level of activity generated by so many grandchildren. ...

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The History of the Rondo Oral History Project

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pp. 327-329

The Rondo Oral History Project was first conceived of by Summit-University resident Kate Cavett as she looked for more information about this historic community. In 2002, Cavett began talking with individuals in the community to see if there was interest in expanding the documented history then available about the Rondo neighborhood. ...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. 330-333

The Rondo Oral History Project is about a dynamic community and the many individuals who shaped and nurtured it. This project must acknowledge those who gave it life. In the end they, too, have built a community. ...

Guide for Grandparents, Parents, and Teachers

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pp. 334-352

Index

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pp. 353-365

About the Authors

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