Accessibility Navigation:

Interview with Viola Boyd, part 1

Interviewee: 
Boyd, Viola, 1911-
Interviewer: 
Pettus, Debra
Date of Interview: 
2004-03-09
Identifier: 
OHBO0481
Subjects: 
Boyd, Viola, 1911-; Boyd, Sam; Boyd, Harvey; Number 2 Murkland School (Matthews, N.C.); Seaboard Air Line Railroad Company; Ku Klux Klan (1915- ); African American--Segregation; Racism; Beauty operators; Beauty shops; Railroads--Employees; Child labor; North Carolina--Matthews; North Carolina--Charlotte; North Carolina--Matthews--Crestdale; Interviews (Sound recordings); Oral histories
Abstract: 
Viola Boyd describes her life as an African American woman during segregation and the civil rights movement. Mrs. Boyd describes Matthews, and in particular Crestdale, North Carolina where she grew up. She speaks frequently about her husband Sam Boyd, describing his various jobs and involvement in the community. Mrs. Boyd also describes how she became a beautician and talks about beauty parlor culture. Addressing the subject of civil rights Mrs. Boyd recounts her memories of Ku Klux Klan activities in Matthews and Charlotte, and her son Harvey Boyd’s involvement with protests in the area.
Coverage: 
North Carolina--Matthews--Crestdale; circa 1910 - 2004
Interview Setting: 
Home of Viola Boyd in Matthews, North Carolina
Collection: 
Oral History, African American Community
Interview Audio: 
Transcript:

[DP]:[Debra Pettus]
[VB]:[Viola Boyd]

DP: Viola Boyd, My name is Debra Pettus and I’m very happy to be here to interview you today. And I would like for you to start by telling me a little bit about yourself. Maybe you can tell me where you were born and a little bit about your family and your background.

VB: I was born right here in Matthews. Right near the hospital. And a lady across the street gave me a cup of sugar every day because Momma was weaning me.

DP: Your momma was weaning you?

VB: Yes weaning me.

DP: Ok was she breast feeding you and then trying to wean you away? Ok.

VB: Breast feeding me and that’s--we left there and went to Charlotte and my Daddy left here and went to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

DP: Ok. Was he with the railroad?

VB: No he wasn't, no he wasn't. But he stayed there--I was still a young, young child at 12th St. in Charlotte.

DP: Ok.

VB: And then my daddy died and we had to go anywhere we could. I went to work at seven years old.

DP: At seven years old.

VB: Seven years old. Working at the Bermuda Park at 7th St. a little park helping little children.

DP: In Charlotte?

VB: In Charlotte, had to go up there in Pennsylvania.

DP: And you were just a baby yourself?

VB: Just a baby. Cause mother had five children and there was no help.

DP: So did you--

VB: And I would get up on a chair and wash the lady's dishes.

DP: And that's what you did to earn money?

VB: That’s what I had done to help my Momma.

DP: Ok.

VB: To earn money.

DP: So when you worked in the park taking care of children, tell me a little bit about what you did then.

VB: Just--Momma dressed me in the morning and I'd go just like a little woman and tended them. She had them out in the park, little babies, you know little children about two-three years old was in a little park.

DP: Uh huh, so would the mothers--would the parents be with the children?

VB: Yeah they'd be there. See it’s a little park, I guess it's still there, and I'd go out there and tend the little children in the yard and keep them out of their devilment. Then after that I'd go in there and get in a chair and wash her dishes.

DP: And wash her dishes, your momma?

VB: No, the lady that hired me.

DP: Oh, ok and then you washed her dishes.

VB: Yeah I washed the dishes.

DP: And you were seven years old?

VB: Yeah and getting paid for it, carried a little check home to Momma.

DP: Did you--do you remember how much you got paid?

VB: No, I didn't know that, I was so happy to get the money home to Mother.

DP: Yeah, and I bet your mom appreciated that.

VB: She had to ‘cause she didn't have but one eye.

DP: Oh really, and how--

VB: And it cost money to get that eye and see my daddy dead, my daddy died so we--

DP: Did you say your mom only had one eye?

VB: Only one eye.

DP: How did she lose her other eye?

VB: I don't know.

DP: Ok. So she had a difficult time trying to make money and--

VB: Those children she hired--my brother out to a farm. You didn't have to go to school in them days ( ).

DP: Now do you remember what time period that was? Like what year that was? Do you remember what year you--I mean, can you--

VB: About '18.

DP: Ok.

VB: Uh huh.

DP: So that was in about 19, were you seven years old in '18?

VB: I believe so, I believe I was--

DP: Do you remember what year you were born?

VB: 1910 or '11.

DP: Ok, 1911.

VB: Whatever.

DP: When you were born.

VB: Uh huh, I see. That's what takes 1911

DP: Ok, and so did you stay in Charlotte?

VB: 12th Street.

DP: Ok--can you tell me what place you were in your family? As far as your brothers and sisters were you the oldest or the youngest?

VB: I was about--3. I was the third child.

DP: So you had two older. So did they all have to go out and get jobs too?

VB: Yeah, she hired my brother out to a farm. He worked cotton and corn and stuff like that and he'd plow like that to get his mother money.

DP: Now when you finished up working, I mean how many hours did you have to do that every day?

VB: I'd do it every day, ‘cause mama would dress me up and I was proud to get dressed up and go to work.

DP: You were just a little woman going to work weren't you?

VB: All my life.

DP: Can you tell me a little about how--did you end up going to school at all during that time?

VB: Yes, I went to school a little at a time. And sometimes I had shoes and didn't. Sometimes I couldn't go, it was all right right to go work but was shameful to go to school.

DP: Did you go to school in Charlotte?

VB: No I went to school in Matthews.

DP: Matthews, ok. I'm trying to get--ok, so you were in Charlotte working when you were seven, did you move back to Matthews?

VB: No, I was in Charlotte, when I worked. See Momma had to move around, we didn't have no house. We rent. We were renting in Charlotte, we moved to Matthews with my grandmother.

DP: Ok, so you moved back over here (Matthews) with your grandmother?

VB: Yes, and then I was in a Matthews school for a while.

DP: Alright. How old were you then?

VB: Well, let's see I was oh about 10 or something like that.

DP: When you came back over here (Matthews).

VB: Yeah.

DP: And so you were living with your grandmother then?

VB: Living with Grandmother. And went to that school, then it got hard for me some way or another at home, went to South Carolina, stayed down there a while.

DP: What part of South Carolina?

VB: Rock Hill, South Carolina. Then all right, my grandfather died ( ) and then I come on back riding a train--

DP: From South Carolina.

VB: From South Carolina, got off at Charlotte station on Tryon.

DP: On TryonStreet?

VB: Yeah. Riding I was kind of shocked, riding at night and getting Momma to tell me where to get off at.

DP: And you were just by yourself?

VB: Yeah!

DP: Oh man.

VB: It was awful, can't do it now.

DP: Yeah, that was scary wasn't it?

VB: No, you didn't have sense enough to be scared.

DP: So did you--so you came back to Charlotte?

VB: Came back to Charlotte, all right, came back to Charlotte. I went to Number 2 Murkland School--

DP: Say that one more time?

VB: I went to Murkland School.

DP: Murkland school?

VB: Uh huh and my grandfather--

DP: Ok.

VB: I went to Murkland School. Ok. Grandfather died and when he died well I couldn't go to school, alright? I married at 15.

DP: So you got married when you were 15?

VB: At 15, had my baby at 15.

DP: Well now how did you meet your husband?

VB: I met him over here at the Baptist Church, Presbyterian Church.

DP: Now did he grow up in--

VB: In the church.

DP: In Matthews?

VB: He's the president of Christian Endeavor

DP: And his name is Sam?

VB: Sam Boyd.

DP: So you met Sam--You married Sam when you was 15? Was he your age or was he older?

VB: He was about 3-4 years older.

DP: Did you know him before, when ya'll were real little?

VB: Went to school together, but I didn't like him.

DP: You didn't like him at first?

VB: No, he was fat and so--ok, he come in there with a girl if you touch her she'd bleed looked like. She always picked at me, and I say oh my, then I know he liked me all and I just taken him away from her.

DP: Oh you did?

VB: Yeah, and married him.

DP: How about that.

VB: And left here and went to Philadelphia.

DP: And then you went to Philadelphia.

VB: Uh-huh and worked up there.

DP: Tell me what took you to Philadelphia?

VB: Because he left here and went to Connecticut, then come back, seen me of course I was growing, and he looked good, and he loved me, and since he loved me I just put in time with him and learned to love the man. And stayed with him 66 years.

DP: How about that.

VB: And he was a fine man, he was the president of Christian Endeavor and he was president or Mayor of this little town. (Crestdale)

DP: He was the Mayor?

VB: Of this little town.

DP: How about that. When was that?

VB: It like after--he was president of the school--he's on the board at Matthews ( ).

DP: Now was he the Mayor of Matthews?

VB: Crestdale.

DP: Crestdale, ok.

VB: And always will be, that's what the little sticker--had to go up and get the little sticker.

DP: Mayor for life.

VB: Sure was, so that was the end of that.

DP: So after you went to--you said you went to Philadelphia. After you were up there, then you came back here and you started your family. You had started your family by then?

VB: I started my family before I left.

DP: Ok and so ya’ll moved back here.

VB: Moved back here and he said “Viola, Mr. Boots wants me to take the farm.” I said “no darling,” I said, "I didn't marry no farmer." I said “get on the railroad if you can.” So he got on the railroad and he stayed there 66 years, no he stayed there 45 years and didn't miss a pay day.

DP: Now this was your--he worked for the railroad, ‘cause that's how I got it confused.

VB: All the time, he never did have another job after that.

DP: Did he have to travel with the railroad?

VB: He traveled and cooked and he was a road man.

DP: Now did he get--did he get on, I mean was he--did he--did the railroad that he worked on come through here?

VB: Right here uh huh. Right here. And he got on there for a 5th hand and he was such a good worker they didn't have seniority then. Alright, they got on and worked so good they put him with senior and the best ones, you know, win like that.

DP: So he worked so well and so hard that he got--did he get better jobs that way?

VB: No, honey, had it for life.

DP: OK. But I mean on the railroad, did he get--they liked him so well that he was able to get--

VB: 45, right there, on the railroad.

DP: Did you ever go with him or get involved with any of that?

VB: I would go with him and carry the pistol, ‘cause it would be a crossing at night and he would have to be and I would stay in the car and carry the pistol. I don't know what I would have done, but I would be at the crossing waiting on him. And I'd have my pistol.

DP: And why did he think you needed a pistol? Because of just being by yourself?

VB: Yeah, I'd be at the crossing by myself and he'd be walking the track where the job was. They always called him because he was faithful and when he retired with a gold watch, he was the only one that retired with a gold watch.

DP: How many years did he work for them?

VB: He worked--I think he worked for 45 years and didn't miss a pay day.

DP: How about that.

VB: Yeah, that's a long time.

DP: Yeah you'd better believe it.

VB: Yeah and see he got all of his good retirement and everything.

DP: Now what was the name of the railroad he worked for?

VB: Seaboard.

DP: Seaboard.

VB: Uh-huh. Yeah. The man--one day I'm going to tell this; we run a picture near Greatwood Spring and so we, every year we looked and asked the bossman if we could do it and he said yeah. Well at this time he (Sam) was off and the man fired him while he was off. OK Mr. Salvador come around and look at everybody's house to see what you were doing. So he said Viola, do you know you have the prettiest house on the street? I said glad to know that. Alright, he come to a home demonstration party and when come there with his hands in his pockets I said they done fired Sam, I was the secretary, and I said, I don't believe that. He was supposed to go to work that Monday. He went to work and they sent him back. I said oh Lord, we got to move in a while, I prayed to the Lord and he said get up and go down there and see Mr. Sal. And I got up that morning and caught that 7:00 bus and was sitting the office when Mr. Sal come. And Mr. Sal says, "How’s the house Viola?" And I said, "mhm." He said, "What's the matter with Sam?" Said go on back ( )

DP: So you went down there on his behalf?

VB: On his behalf.

DP: And got his job back? Why did they fire him?

VB: On account of getting off running the meeting.

DP: Oh okay so they just felt like he got off when he shouldn't have or something?

VB: Yes, his bossman was a substitute bossman, he wasn't the real bossman.

DP: OK.

VB: That's why. My children said "that doesn't go now" I said it would with me, so I done my children the same way. I say you talk yourself up, you talk up for yourself, they kept this chair (Electric chair that Viola uses) over there about three months and I said I need a chair, don't have a chair. And they said well we ain't got it ready, it doesn't have all the pieces on it. I called that lady and told her what condition I was, she said Lord have mercy, I fitted you for that chair. She acted like if she had known that was me she would have give me that chair.

DP: Are you talking about this chair?

VB: Yeah, so she went on that same day and got me a extra chair for me.

DP: Well it sounds like you are very strong willed and you speak up for yourself.

VB: I'm that way, I don't have no education, but I'm going to open my mouth. I call it no education when you don't finish high school just finish high school.

DP: Well, theres a lot of descriptions of that, that doesn't necessarily mean that--you go to school and you can be smart.

VB: I'm going to ask you--

DP: I mean you've got a lot of experience just from your, you know from what you've done in your life and working and dealing with family and all that is an education in itself.

VB: Yeah, at my home, I've just got a place I think, the drugstore man had bided for it all, OK. Sam and me went up with $1 and outbid him and he said go down there Sam and build that house, don't build no shack down there, he said I'll let you have my car and I tore out of the paper where this lady had built a house so I said oh boy, I want it like this, alright we got that land, paid cash for it. My husband said Viola, ( ) leave it here, I said if you don't someone will take it off from here. I showed him $200 alright he thought that was it, when he come back I showed him $1000, I done saved. And I put it on the land, what the man said, what amount he said. He said I didn't know you were going to pay cash for it.

DP: Cash speaks doesn't it?

VB: Right, I paid cash for the land. Paid cash for it and then put some in the bank. At that age?

DP: Is that where this house is?

VB: This house, yeah. About 60 years old.

DP: Well let me ask you, during all this time were you involved with civil rights movements or anything that was going on, or can you tell me a little bit about what was going on in this area?

VB: Well it wasn't so much as--just I was scared to death all the time, on account of men doing to you.

DP: Men doing things to you?

VB: Yeah, the black against the white.

DP: Did you have a lot of that here in Matthews?

VB: Oh Lord, coming through Matthews, my son was in college at that time and he and his girlfriend passed right through here. I said I bet you they are in the bad, and they were. There was two white boys that were killed and buried here at that time.

DP: They beat them--buried them here? OK.

VB: There was killing white and everything going down so it scared you to death to come down here and have the mob with white caps on.

DP: So do you think--so there was Ku Klux Klan down here?

VB: Right, right, right. All of them were lynched down here in Indian Trail.

DP: So they lynched somebody?

VB: They lynched 'em yeah.

DP: Do you remember when that was? Was that after your son was in college?

VB: Right, since he got out. They hung those boys down in Indian Trail.

DP: In Indian Trail, yeah I know where that is.

VB: Yeah hung him from the tree when he's very precious with the white girls, when they come home he was hanging in the tree. And so that's what we feared.

DP: Yeah. I would think that would be very scary.

VB: Yeah then there was a preacher of mine, we went to school together. They round his house with their shot guns and everything to kill him.

DP: The preacher? And why were they after him?

VB: They was after color.

DP: Just because he was--

VB: Ku Klux Klan, get after, well they're trying to buck each other, you know, they insulted them in one way or another to try to get a disagreement, just anything that would upset them, then they would get you. It was scary. It was something.

DP: Did you and your husband every get involved with any kind of marches or protests?

VB: No honey, we just kept out of it and stayed by ourselves. Like they will be coming through to march today and we stayed out of it but my boy would get into it, maybe have something to say.

DP: Yeah, well now you know, when you think about him coming along at a different time, and he--is this your boy that is in school, in college?

VB: Yes that's the one that finished college, and drew the seal for Mecklenburg.

DP: And his name is? Let me think--

VB: Harvey Henry Boyd.

DP: Not Calvin?

VB: No, not Calvin, Harvey.

DP: I didn't put his name down here, I've got Calvin, Lugene, Geraldine, and Pauline.

VB: Well, Harvey, he's the one--he's the baby. I waited 13 years to have him.

DP: And Harvey's who was just here.

VB: Yeah.

DP: Now where did Harvey go to school?

VB: Howard.

DP: Howard University?

VB: Uh-huh. He finished there.

DP: OK, and didn't you tell me you've got a grandchild that's going to Barber Scotia?

VB: She's dead, yeah. Geraldine finished--

DP: At Barber Scotia. OK.

VB: And Alyson, she's my grandchild, finished at Smith.

DP: OK.So you've got one of your twins--are both of the twins deceased?

VB: Both are deceased, one at six months, the other was at 62 with an aneurysm or something.

DP: So you've got three boys now still alive?

VB: No, I ain't got but two.

DP: Just Harvey and--

VB: Harvey and Calvin.

DP: And Calvin.

VB: Uh huh.

DP: Does Calvin live here?

VB: No, he lives in Charlotte somewhere. I don't know where it's at. But he's around there at Smith somewhere, and he finished in cement work, he did cement work.

DP: Now how many grandchildren do you have?

VB: Oh my God, about a hundred, and the greats.

DP: And great grandchildren, you got in the great great grandchildren yet?

VB: Oh my God, got'em all.

DP: (Laughs) Do you get to see them often?

VB: They come in here last July, had the camps up, tents up and--

DP: So do you have like a reunion every year?

VB: Not every year, they had it twice.

DP: Ok.

VB: And they come from New York, Alabama, just everywhere. And did you know when they come in I say oh that's mine, they have dimples. They have dimples.

DP: Yeah, you've got those dimples, you sure do.

VB: (Elongated) Oh.

DP: So those dimples have passed on down through your family, you know.

VB: They've passed down, even the great ones.

DP: They are a very dominate characteristic. How about that? I love dimples and sure do have some pretty ones.

VB: They used to be, I had beautiful ones, that's how I got my husband. ‘Cause he was engaged, and he don't have no education. He was engaged to marry a teacher, but he come back here to get his dimples.

DP: Yeah.

VB: Everywhere we go off, we'd go off on a trip and like husband and wife sits, you don't sit together you know he read his paper.

DP: Yeah.

VB: And they would sit down, "is this seat taken?:

DP: You gotta be careful with dimples like that.

VB: Sure do, he said, “you don't need to bother her, she's married. Every man who sees her want her.”

DP: Well I probably need to ask Harvey this, but you said that Harvey got kind of involved with protests and--

VB: Yeah, being ( )

DP: Did that bother you or scare you when he got involved?

VB: I didn't know it.

DP: He just didn't tell you about it?

VB: No he didn't tell me nothing. He would say "Oh, we were down there," after it was over.

DP: You learned about it after the fact.

VB: That's right, Harvey been, oh Lord.

DP: Did you ever talk to him about not doing it or being afraid for him and all that.

VB: Yeah I told him that and he said “well Momma, things that's like this are so backwards and we have to save this world.” See these people say we have a right to, that's what they say, but it's over with, then, you see, but after that one time they got into it, then again when he was looking at the parade, they come through here. The Ku Klux. They come through here and he was up town.

DP: SO the KKK came through in a parade?

VB: Yeah, had on their caps. Some big men in them. Dr.'s and everything. Look how many they killed in Greensboro.

DP: I know, yeah.

VB: It was a mess.

DP: So Harvey went up to see the parade?

VB: He wasn't here at that time, he wasn't here, but they come through Matthews.

DP: Um-hum.

VB: And it was ( ) stopped said they was coming but they didn't. But when they robbed that preacher down--I don't know what he was, but anyhow, robbed his house and he was ( ).

DP: You started to tell me that a while ago, it was a preacher--that they had started circling around his house? Is that what you said?

VB: Yeah, and I went to a school with him and he wanted to marry me. He was a preacher. He finished at Smith.

DP: So what eventually happened with that?

VB: I don't know how they broke it up, but he was prepared for it too. If they were going to have a shoot-out they were ready with guns and everything.

DP: So he was--he had--

VB: Prepared for it.

DP: He was going to protect himself.

VB: Yeah, that's what they said, so I'm glad they cut that out and trying to be better.

DP: How do you feel about that Mrs. Boyd, do you feel like things have gotten better? How do you think things have changed since then?

VB: I think the change is wonderful. Because the reason I say it, I used to go to Charlotte on the bus all the time. They would take me and push me back and put a white girl in front of me, now you know that's bad. If I was like I am now, see, you get older and you get stronger, and you get all that hate in you and everything. I would have took my pocketbook and knocked the devil out of them, I would of, and one come along and push me right in front, you be scared. Listen here, did you know they spit on us?

DP: You know I--

VB: They'd get on that bus, listen--

DP: I've heard a lot about—

VB: It's so unfair, ‘til I know God's not going to like it. We be going to school walking from here, you know where Sardis Rd. is up yonder?

DP: Um-hum..

VB: See we lived, that's where we had 24 1/2 acres of land in '66, back in that way, they'd spit on us.--Is Somebody out there?

DP: We left off at I want you to tell me about when you used to ride on the bus and you used to get spit on.

VB: Yeah, when we rid the bus, got up for day in the morning. Sun would rise on us and we'd be at school. Well the big bus for white people, we walked in and they be spitting on us. "Hey nigger get out that row," that's pitiful, it ain't but one world, so that's what I think about it. And you put God first, and he'll do the rest. We just had to pray and ask God for everything, and then he give things. I was driving my car, oh my, he goon' run me over, I was the first person to have a new care in here, first one and it risks the man next door, cause see he was selling, pull out all that, he was helping us to drive, we didn't know how to drive, that's a '53 Chevrolet.

DP: So was it a man living next door to you that was teaching you how to drive?

VB: Yeah, and he was selling liquor.

DP: And he was selling liquor and he got arrested?

VB: Yeah, got arrested in the car. We didn't know how to drive a car.

DP: Uh-huh.

VB: And he had his '53 Chevrolet and he let us practice so we could get a license. He sold that liquor in there.

DP: Well did he get in trouble because he was letting--because he was allowing ya'll to drive his car? Without a license?

VB: He got arrested because how did he get that new car?

DP: Ok yeah. And that led them back to the fact that he was selling liquor.

VB: Right on, right on. Got it.

DP: But when you got your license, did you drive--were you driving a lot?

VB: I had my--I was doing a girl's hair, and I didn't have no license, I said would you carry me to get my permit? I had on my uniform and I was so nervous and sour looking, a man said “what you want sour puss?” So I said “a drivers license.” It went like this Thursday, next Thursday my son had an appointment my husband had an appointment all right he had an appointment and I didn't have one. I got the driver permit, all of them got the driver permit, now he has the license--I mean he has a permit. Okay, he said what you want, this one week, I said I want my drivers license or permit or something. And he told me "Sour puss," he said, "listen, you got your permit license in the next 30 days." I went and got another license that week.

DP: You must be pretty smart to get--to be able to get 'em in that quick.

VB: One week child! I got out there and lost 10 pounds

DP: You must be a natural driver.

VB: Well I've practiced so much I fell off 10 pounds. Get out of the bed and get under that steering wheel and just tear off and I'm working that thing.

DP: Yes, you like to drive--did you like driving?

VB: Drove to New York and back.

DP: That's a long way to go.

VB: I'm going to do what the other ones do and they had a thing that when you get behind trucks--

DP: Oh you had one of those--Fuzz Busters?

VB: Yeah.

DP: Something--you liked speed then huh? (Laughs)

VB: I keep up--There she is in that brown car keeping up, and they'd say "well if she can stay on ( ), it would give us a warning, they would slow down and we would slow down. All right, man in the back, man in the front. We gone, I'm gone.

DP: And this was when you drove to New York?

VB: Yup.

DP: Tell me a little bit about when did you decide you wanted to be a beautician.

VB: When I was smaller. I went to Philadelphia. And a lady was doing my hair and it was so beautiful. And I'm sitting there looking at her how she does hair, and she--I watched that comb, when I come back there's nobody doing hair. And when I came back in the summer, I started doing her hair giving it good ointment. I was doing a teachers hair, and she said Miss Boyd you'd better take it up you're good at it. She says okay--she brought me the address and everything.

DP: To go get your license?

VB: Yes ma'am. To get the schooling.

DP: Um-hum,, right. So you were doing it before--you've got a natural talent for it.

VB: For six years, anything. Pick cotton, anything.

DP: So you were already starting to do hair before you got your license.

VB: Six years. Ruined hair came in from Charlotte and Monroe. My teacher said you'd better take it up.

DP: And what did you do then?

VB: She brought me the lessons, books, and everything.

DP: So you did it from home?

VB: Did it from home. There's Madame Walker, and there's a number one, and all of--

DP: Uh-huh, Madame Walker.

VB: And I had to stay up at night and get my lessons, gotta know about the scalp and everything. So that's what I done.

DP: And how long did that take?

VB: Let’s see when did I get my certificate--it's in one of these drawers right now. But uh, anyway I can't tell you, I've done it all my life.

DP: But I mean how long did it take you to get that license?

VB: Oh, takes you a long time, too much studying to do.

DP: So you were like trying to--you were still working and then raising your family and trying to take--

VB: And doing their hair.

DP: And so you pretty much had to do your studying at night after everybody else was settled down.

VB: Yes, see the advantage I had, I could learn on your head.

DP: Um-hum.

VB: Where others had to learn on artificial hair. And on that artificial hair you can burn it or anything and nobody will tell you've done it, all right I'm doing this hair and I'm watching how it won't hold that comb. Because if you get near it it's going to burn it and come off so you have to know how to put it and cool it ( ).

DP: Did you see a lot of changes in styles and all when you went through?

VB: Yeah, yeah. People come in in everything.

DP: Now did you just--when styles would change did you just pick up the new styles and be able to do it?

VB: Just changed it up, all to the--the perms. That's the wrong thing for Negroes to have. Drop your hair on the floor. So that's the only thing. They say, "Miss Boyd will you take me back" I says yes, but when I took it ( ). My Dr. said here is the beautician from Matthews done killed herself ( )

DP: I wanted to ask you, who were some of the people that you have done their hair--did their hair regularly? Anybody that we might--

VB: Perms come in, and perms have been in a good while, around ( )

DP: So when you had your wreck, did you--you weren't able to do hair anymore?

VB: No, I was doing hair, had a few. Had about five because Dr. wrote me down. One or two a day, I said OK. He called me and I said well Dr. what did you do get rich? I said no, doctors’ orders. If I hadn't had my wreck, I was going to do like he said one to two a day, and I done had my girl in Charlotte here from New York pick up a cold. That's when they cut me off. I was doing hair then about 7 months and it just crept up on me and I had a stroke. Just a pinched nerve that hit me in the back. ( ). So okay I couldn't do it no more. And I went to every doctor I could see, I went to that doctor he said let me tell you how long you're gonna live. ( ) I went in there and that man said ( ) one day you gone be ( ).

DP: Now who was this doctor?

VB: At the hospital.

DP: And you said he would tell you how long you were gonna' live?

VB: Yeah. He said, you are going to live to either 90 or 100. And that doesn't matter does it?

DP: Was he usual right about it?

VB: He was right about it, because see, when I was in my 70s, and I am 90 something now.

DP: You sure don't look 90 something.

VB: Well I--

DP: You hardly have any wrinkles. Did you do makeup also? And skin care?

VB: Well, I'll tell you how I do it. My hair was long and I didn't have time I would go to the beauty shop and sweat it right back. So I started wearing wigs. I swear--so, OK. I put my uniform on--just like, get up and put my uniform on. Support hose and ( ), then my hair all napped up. Well it made me sick that I had to go to the doctor. I didn't look that bad in my uniform, so I put that wig on and I looked nice. Sam would come in an appreciated that. All right. My hair was down, I had straightened it, and it was down. They would say, who's that woman with that pretty long hair, didn't know it was me because I had it down.

DP: And Sam said that?

VB: Sam says--I said what looks best? He said both of them look good. I said what’s the best Sam? He said, "Your wig."

DP: (Laughs).

VB: And so he'd come in here and I didn't have on the wig--

DP: So did you start wearing wigs after that? It's just easier isn't it?

VB: Yeah it's just easier. Because I get up, put my wig on and bathe up, put my uniform on and look nice.

DP: I like that wig, is that a wig you have on now?

VB: Yeah, and I put it on, I got about 10 ( ) --yeah, I get up now and put it on.

DP: Well now, you said you had talked to me about how you--you're very religious and got a strong belief and you believe in the power of prayer.

VB: Yeah.

DP: Are you still involved with your church? And how did that--tell me how that--your connection with your church was able to help you through some of those tough times.

VB: Well my church--I was the secretary to be at our little church.

DP: Ok, what was the name of your church?

VB: Matthews Chapel Church.

DP: Ok, Matthews Chapel Church.

VB: Uh-huh, I helped--

DP: And you were secretary?

VB: Yeah, ok. And when we gathered it up together--all together, I processed--I processed $75,000 worth of bonds right here. For that church, or whatever. I put the first name on that church. ( ) And I did that for the church. ( ) Secretary of the missionary society.

DP: Ok. So when you were in the missionary society, did you all have meetings, like monthly meetings?

VB: Yes, see I was the secretary of that, and when we got ready to build, we had real big things to raise our money.

DP: Yeah, you have to--money--yeah to raise some money.

VB: Well we didn't take this too much ( ). A man, I forgot his name, but he came and taught me how to process those bonds. Process those bonds, then I'd have to carry them to the bank, and get you credit just like they would anything else.

DP: See I don't know how that works.

VB: You don't know how it works? ( ).

DP: Did you all sell those bonds?

VB: Yes ma'am and I have--this house was just like it is now, a bond here, a bond there.

DP: That's a lot of bonds.

VB: Oh and doing my little work.

DP: So when did you find time to do all that?

VB: Well, I would at night. They'd come and say Miss Boyd I want 52 bonds, 60 numbers of bonds, just like that. And I'd fill it out.

DP: Did you keep the bonds here?

VB: Yeah, keep the bonds here, and I'd take them bonds to the bank. Me and my husband. His name is on the stone now in that church.

DP: Now the church is still going strong?

VB: Yeah.

DP: Do you get to go now?

VB: No I haven't been since when I turned 80 that was my last day.

DP: Now when you had your car accident, when was that, was that in the '80s? Did you tell me? '80...

VB: It went off before, 7 months before I realized what I had ( )

DP: Yeah. So you had your car accident, and you didn't have your pinched nerve problem until 7 months later.

VB: That's right. Uh-huh. I had that pinched nerve, I was doing hair and it just--

DP: And that's when you had to--was that the point when you had to give up your--

VB: Had to give it completely up. The doctor had done told me ( ) healed itself but I didn't feel it.

DP: Right.

VB: I just guess my nerves were getting bad, always has been. One night it hurt me pretty bad, I'd done hair all until 7:00--it was a holiday, and I had a 7:00 appointment and my husband brought me dinner. Well girl I got tired, I had five heads sitting and I done head and walked out.

DP: Five heads.

VB: I had them washed--

DP: You didn't have any help?

VB: Huh?

DP: Did you have anybody to help you?

VB: No they wouldn't let them. They all said, "I want you Miss Boyd."

DP: What do you do now during the day--I know you have a lot going on around

VB: I can't do nothing. I got up this morning, I sit on the bed. I couldn't walk to bed.

DP: Let's back up and you tell me about when you--tell me about when you use to have to go to get water to bring it back up to--

VB: Since the house didn't have no water, and Mr. Blue had water above us, a lady had a well, but we would get drinking water from there, wash--carry it up the hill, I had 5 borders in my house. And we had that road over there, Old Monroe Rd.

DP: Uh-huh.

VB: OK. Get up and get them to work.

DP: So let me ask you, you said you had 5 borders in your house? Did you have to feed 'em and

VB: Uh-huh, feed them honey.

DP: Tell me about what you had to do for them--

VB: And fix their lunches. We would get up at about--oh four something in the morning, breakfast and 5 lunches. I don't know how in the world--

DP: Were you fixing hair also?

VB: Yes ma'am.

DP: I don't know how you had time for all this.

VB: You see we would plan at night and I had a little wagon, I'd go to town and haul my food in that little wagon to fix their supper, then fix enough for their breakfast and what I could for their lunches.

[END OF INTERVIEW] [47 MINS]

Groups: