Lula Adams, 1993 June 22, Tape 1, Side 2

Web Video Text Tracks Format (WebVTT)


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Lula Adams: Now down where the bank was, across from PA to New Jersey, now I could go down there any time that I had a vacation to go in the bank -- [[Cross Talk]]
Pearl Bowser: Do you think --
Lula Adams: savings account in the Solvin bank.

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Pearl Bowser: Do you think it was because there was drinking going on, on Beal Street?
Lula Adams: Well, the drinking and you know gambling and all that kind of stuff was going on. That-that was it.

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Pearl Bowser: Did you see the same movies at the Idle Hour that were also playing at the Daisy?
Lula Adams: Oh yeah.

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Pearl Bowser: Ah. So you didn't have to go to the Daisy?
Lula Adams: No. No, I didn't have to go there. This was just like shopping out here people to tell me, "oh uh, y'all have to go to Squabs to buy whatever -- I never bought anything in Squabs until I was grown!
Pearl Bowser: Mm-hmm.

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Lula Adams: I didn't have to go there. Mr. Alvin would go to New York, and uh, first time I ever saw an imitation fur coat I guess I was about 12 or 13 years old.

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Lula Adams: And uh, the kids in New York were wearing imitation furs and they-they, he brought me a little coat back that was brown and it had a leather belt on it, and it was inner lined with cotton flannel, ya know, inner lining in there -- [[Cross Talk]]
Pearl Bowser: Sounds nice.

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Lula Adams: -- to make it warm.
Pearl Bowser: Sounds really warm.

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Lula Adams: Yeah, uh huh! And uh, he brought it back and said that's what the children were wearing and would I like to see Miss Bessie and my mama -- his daughter and my mama were near the same age.

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Lula Adams: So I got the oh-[[laughs]] whatever the children were wearing, he'd bring it back and he kept insisting we were working for the Bloomin' company cleaning cars. They would, he'd bring it back and if I said I wanted it I got it and they paid for it.
Pearl Bowser: Mm-hmm.

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Lula Adams: He let them pay him whatever he charged them for it.
Pearl Bowser: Did they ever show films in your church? Religious films? In the church?

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Lula Adams: Uhh. What kind of films?
Pearl Bowser: Religious films.
Lula Adams: Oh yeah! Reverend Taylor did that. That's what I was wanting to tell ya, tell her, about him, uh, showing those films in the churches.

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Louise Spence: No, this -- Reverend Taylor showing films in the churches is in the 19-- is later, it's in the 30s. But did you ever see films in your church before that?
Pearl Bowser: When you were a little girl or in high school?

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Lula Adams: Oh, when I was -- no. Uh uh.
Louise Spence: Did you ever see films any place else besides the theater during that period?

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Lula Adams: Besides the Theater?
Louise Spence: Mm-hmm.

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Lula Adams: No.
Louise Spence: They didn't show them in school?
Lula Adams: No.

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Louise Spence: Now tell us about Reverend Taylor. Um. The films that he showed, he was allowed to show, in your church? Or did you go to some other church to see them?
Lula Adams: No, he just showed them in different churches all over.

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Pearl Bowser: Oh, he traveled?
Lula Adams: Uh huh. In fact, he would go to the National Baptist, the Black National Baptist Convention, before they split up in so many parts.

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Lula Adams: And, uh, he was the official photographer. He had pictures of the delegation and everybody going and coming, and he would show movies of backgrounds of different churches to the people that wouldn't be able to go to.
Pearl Bowser: Mmhm.

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Lula Adams: And they would just give him whatever they wanted to give him for it. But other than that, that was it.

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Lula Adams: But, now that was part of the thing that the Center for Southern Folklore got changed to the back, I don't know somehow or another, he had a fire up there in that house and, uh, part of his equipment got burned

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Lula Adams: and the rest Mrs. Taylor sold it to the Center for Southern Folklore. Well, before they could get it all worked up and cleaned out and everything Ms. Taylor passed away

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Lula Adams: and, I don't know, here comes a guy with one of his illegitimate offsprings and, uh, wanted to take over. He went down there and told Judy that, uh, uh, he was managing Ms. Taylor's business and he wasn't no such thing 'cause Ms. Taylor left that house and whatever she had to a friend of hers that had lived next door to her.

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Lula Adams: She had remarried and now she was living around now on Golden Street. Ms. Taylor lived next to her cause the woman and her husband took care of her until she died.

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Louise Spence: The-- Could you describe some of the films that you saw in the church?
Lula Adams: Well, [laughing] it has been so long ago, uh, I--
Louise Spence: No?

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Lula Adams: I wouldn't want to try to accurately describe something, you know.
Louise Spence: OK.

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Lula Adams: It has been that long. 'Cause, I have seen so much stuff since then, shit.
Pearl Bowser: Could you tell us, in Reverend Taylor's films, did you see people that you knew?

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Lula Adams: Huh?
Pearl Bowser: When you saw Reverend Taylor's films, did you see people in the films that you knew?
Lula Adams: Oh yeah!

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Pearl Bowser: There were people from around the neighborhood?
Lula Adams: Yeah.
Pearl Bowser: Uh huh.

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Lula Adams: Yeah. And, uh, he had some still pictures of people that, uh, he had taken, uh, of founders like the Atkins across the street there. Uh.
Pearl Bowser: Did you also, did he also show story films?
Louise Spence: You don't remember?

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Pearl Bowser: Did you see any other um, black films?

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Pearl Bowser: Either in the movie house, or someone traveling around like Reverend Taylor?
Lula Adams: They weren't making 'em.

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Pearl Bowser: I'm sorry?
Lula Adams: [laughing] They weren't making any black films that I know anything about.

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Pearl Bowser: Okay, okay.
Lula Adams: This is the [[??]] something that is come up. Now, the only thing we got to see was white films, see.

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Pearl Bowser: At the Idle wa-- at the Idle Hour Theatre um, was that a wooden structure?

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Pearl Bowser: The theatre itself?
Lula Adams: Well, it had been a store.
Pearl Bowser: Ah-ha.

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Lula Adams: Now, I don't-- no it wasn't a wooden structure
Pearl Bowser: So it was a store, and how did they change it into a movie?
Lula Adams: They just didn't, they had a balcony in the back for the film operator and screen down in, in front.

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Pearl Bowser: What were the seats like?

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Lula Adams: Uh in, oh, in folding chairs.
Pearl Bowser: Wooden?
Lula Adams: Wooden, but they were hinged together. Individual seats hinged together.

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Pearl Bowser: And when there were black people and white people that were both in the theater at the same time.
Lula Adams: No, that was the principle-- the people that attended the Idle Hour were black people.
Pearl Bowser: Were black.

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Pearl Bowser: Did they have special showing for whites? Or whites didn't go?
Lula Adams: No they just {chuckle} no no they just didn't, unless it was somebody that just wanted to see something, then they just come on up in there. That was up to them.

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Lula Adams: Whether they wanted to come in there, and sit.
Louise Spence: And they could sit anywhere?
Lula Adams: umm,hmm.

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Pearl Bowser: Do you remember how much it cost?

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[all laugh]
Pearl Bowser: How much did you get from your aunt? [laughter]

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Lula Adams: Oh, I got a whole quarter and went to the show. And had some money to buy me some oranges with. But, I did not get to do that, see, 'cause, right down the street, there next to the fire station was Mr. Angelos place where we would go get out fruit and candy and stuff you see.

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Pearl Bowser: And you would bring that to the theater?
Lula Adams: Uh-huh [affirmative]

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Pearl Bowser: And what were your favorite candies?
Lula Adams: Oh Peppermint. I like peppermint candy.
Pearl Bowser: Peppermint candy

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Lula Adams: and chocolate ice cream. Got some now. [laughter]

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Pearl Bowser: They did not sell anything in the theater?
Lula Adams: Oh no! Wasn't no place in there to sell it!
Pearl Bowser: It was a small theater?

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Lula Adams: Very small. Just like a bit size, I don't know, store. That's the kind of-- and anyways, I'm sure it was brick on the outside.
Pearl Bowser: Do you remember who owned the theater?

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Lula Adams: No--
Pearl Bowser: Was it a white person?
Lula Adams: Oh yeah! I believe so. That's what I'm telling you. The folks all lived next door to one another and everything up there and, and I was told it was an Italian man. But now I don't know who actually owned the theater.

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Pearl Bowser: And the person that took the tickets?
Lula Adams: Well, that's what he was, Italian.

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Louise Spence: Was this small theatre usually full when ever you went there?
Lula Adams: Oh yeah, they had a good congregation.

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[all laugh]

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Lula Adams: Because, I'll tell you what, the people: the operators did always treated everybody like they wanted them to act, ya know. And, so that was the way we didn't have a lot of fightin' going on and tryna start up something like I seeing here now in some neighborhoods, like this one.

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Pearl Bowser: Mmhm.
Lula Adams: We all the time, we'd see the police that driving through the [[??]].

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Lula Adams: But, in later years, when the old folks that started up the neighborhood began to die, and the younger ones they grew up here and moved somewhere else to start their families. When the old folks died, they redid the place, and that's what started the stuff.

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Pearl Bowser: I see. [[crosstalk]]
Lula Adams: Because one woman, a misses Guaia. G-U-A-I-A.

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Lula Adams: When [[??]] were color, the colored man there owned probably every [[??]] Hollywood Street and Hunter. And well, from Hunter, from Hunter Street 'cause there was a white man that owned there. A corner there, the [[??]] back to Hunter, 'cause that was a commercial street and [[??]] a grocery. It, uh, Mr. [[Bearn??]] and his wife bought over that [[??]] in Hollywood. Bah!

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Lula Adams: But, uh, this Mrs. Guaia-- guhaya or gaiyah, whatever-- she bought up them and [[??]] put a liquor store, not on the [[??]]. She wanted to put a liquor store in and the natural thing, white people moved back over to Chelsea Street. They got rid of the colored people who live down here, and wanted to stop her from putting a liquor store there because the high [[??]] schools at Hunter, [[??]] at that end of Hunter Street down there and [[??]], where the park is. Oh, and she went on, she couldn't get it here in Memphis because we get some friends up there and in charge of government and tell us what to do. And those white people that were, the preacher knows, was trying to help us keep 'em from putting that liquor store out between the children on the east side of Hollywood Street would have to come cross then come back, you know, to go to school.

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Lula Adams: She went all the way to Nashville, and I knew [[??]] the people in east Ten-- middle and east Tennessee, thought all the folks in west Tennessee [[??]] wonder where all of Tennessee's tax money was coming from were a bunch of idiots and [[??]] all he had to do was [[??]] on some watermelon. Oh boy, they told some-- I learned that after I got grown. Back on to the [[??]]

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Pearl Bowser: Ms. Adams, can we-- I have a question about the Idle Hour, if you don't mind. You told us that Saturday they played westerns, and Monday and Wednesday they played the serials--
Lula Adams: serials

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Pearl Bowser: that your mother liked so much.
Lula Adams: Uh-huh.

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Pearl Bowser: Do you know what they played on Tuesday and Thursday and Friday?
Lula Adams: Uh-uh [negative]

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Pearl Bowser: You never went those days?
Lula Adams: No. No, I didn't go those days.

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Pearl Bowser: After you started working, did you still go back to the Idle Hour, or did you go to other theaters?
Lula Adams: I went to other theaters. That's something, I tell you, I went to the one on Mains, downtown, I think of the correct name of the theater.

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Pearl Bowser: That was the theater where you went the [[??]]
Lula Adams: Uh-huh [affirmative] That's where I saw The Ten Commandments and all those shows.

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Lula Adams: But, uh, later I started going to the [[??]] when it reopened, let me tell you.
Pearl Bowser: But does-- the big shows like The Ten Commandments didn't play at the Idle Hour?

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Lula Adams: Oh no, no no no no, not then! They didn't cause I don't, guess it was made by, let's see, Ten Commandments wasn't made until later years.
Pearl Bowser: Right, but when-- was the Idle Hour still existing later, or did it close down?
Lula Adams: No, they didn't [[??]] a thing was closed down [[??]]

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Pearl Bowser: Oh, I see.
Lula Adams: [[??]] upstairs, which I didn't go to. Though I didn't say I didn't [[??]] I couldn't do it in public because of family objections [laughing]

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Pearl Bowser: The theater that you can't remember the name of-- but you said there was a theater you can't remember the name of, the one that you went to, afterwards.
Lula Adams: It was on Main Street.

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Pearl Bowser: On Main Street.
Lula Adams: Uh-huh, between, uh, let's see,[paper sounds] [[??]] on the-- this side of the street.

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Pearl Bowser: Okay, but you went to that theater because you didn't have to go around back?
Lula Adams: That's the one I went to, you had to go around through the alley and go up on-- on the side. Outside. To get into the part where, they had colored places. Before that, we didn't get in [[??]]

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Pearl Bowser: Oh, you couldn't get in, before that? And oh, around what period is this? Can you remember around what year? Before you--
Lula Adams: No.
Pearl Bowser: No?

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Pearl Bowser: Could you tell us a little bit about before you got finished with 11th grade? Did you start working then?
Lula Adams: Uh-uh [negative]

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Pearl Bowser: You stayed with your family?
Lula Adams: I stayed with my family and as I said, they all worked, and I had the responsibility to take care of everybody's bills and paying them on time, and keeping up with everything.

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Pearl Bowser: So you managed the household?
Lula Adams: Uh-huh [affirmative]

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Pearl Bowser: And--
Lula Adams: And when I started off-- getting social security payments was because after we had moved out here and I was good and grown [laugh], Mrs. [[Gerber??]] started-- her husband was an attorney general office at the time-- she started to give

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Lula Adams: she had 'em made, she lived at 761 University, and she had 'em made. And she said, "Lula, I tell you what." She said, "I know the position you in. You a woman, you get a job that you can't [[??]] they send me to handle the bills 'cause I [[??]]

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Pearl Bowser: Mmhm.

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Lula Adams: I knew I knew little, and Mr. [[Gerber?]] would tell me, he'd say, "Now anything you don't understand, oh I can tell you-- give you somebody to go to, so they can explain to you what you can and can't do. Say we know the [[??]] to his wife.

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Lula Adams: They has told me the position that you in, and we don't want to offend [[Carrie??]] and [[name]]." And Katie goes they been, as he told 'em one time about a guy that raising a lot of [[sand?]], I don't know.

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Lula Adams: We were living on 2nd Street then, and a friend of mine came to see me and about 9:30 that night, I was walking her down to the corner of, we live between Concord and Overton, and I was walking her to the corner of Overton with her talking.

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Lula Adams: These guys had come to wait on the [[??]] railroad line, and they were around that. And they started doing a lot of talk to us, and a man that had grown up in the neighborhood with me and his sister.

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Lula Adams: He said, "Uh-uh. You got the wrong girls. And, uh, they don't participate in what you doing. Don't count them in." And oh they would go knife him, and uh--

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Pearl Bowser: Mm.
Lula Adams: Because they work for the railroad well [[??]] told me my daddy worked for the railroad when I was born in the north central. That's why I was [[??]], when I was 11 years old. But, and we went to-- so we called the police to them because they were carrying out so bad.

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Lula Adams: And Mr. {[Junior Salvurn??]] told 'em-- he was city attorney at the time. He said, "Dear John, or whatever they tell you, they'll tell you the truth, because they-- she's from that kind of a family. So now we know that she didn't take a part, and wasn't allowed to take a part in all that kind of carrying on like they were doing."

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Lula Adams: So that was what they were finding. Man his brother come and, come and-- "I just want to talk to you, you know my brother that he, he told us--"

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Lula Adams: I said, "Well now see, I got nothing to do with your brother, though." I said, "No sir, I don't have nothing I want to say. If they want to fine him for it, they--"

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Lula Adams: [as brother]"Well you know we go to court and you appear to testify against him, he going to have to be found out." He thought that I would be stupid enough to stay away and not let people testify from me-- he knew me and my family's character-- because he would pay me some money. I said, "Uh-uh."[negative]

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Pearl Bowser: Did these men who worked for the Pullman, or the railroad, did they housing right there, in this town?
Lula Adams: Did they have--?
Lula Adams: Did the railroad provide them with housing in town?

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Lula Adams: No! They would just, you know, fixing the tracks. The L and N railroad was what they would see.
Pearl Bowser: Uh-huh.

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Lula Adams: Louisville and Nashville. And that was-- had been a substation of that, on the 2nd Streets of, uh, between Concord and [[Archshore??]], on the same side of the street where we lived.

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Lula Adams: They had to go by, they were in car boxes, or whatever cars L and N provided for them to sleep in--
Pearl Bowser: That's-- that's what I meant.
Lula Adams: see when they're going around, you know, going around butting in with, well there was a section of women that took up time with that bunch, see.

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Lula Adams: And, he was just going to take over the neighborhood. They just thought, you know, cause they were filling in the railroad, they understandably stayed where everybody else was. Go to in the way of [[comerce??]], as they say.

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Pearl Bowser: Mm. Um, the women that you said, the women that worked for the Pullman Company cleaning-- cleaning cars?
Lula Adams: Cleaning the sleeping cars.

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Pearl Bowser: Right. And they cleaned and worked for the railroad, only when it came through? Or did they travel on the--
Lula Adams: No. They, just when it-- they would bring the cars. See, at that time, uh, the Illinois Central had their station at Poplar and Front, and all down there was the railroad yard.

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Lula Adams: The cars, when they would come in, unless they were going all to [[??]], see. They would put clean cars on, going on from-- like from Chicago to Memphis, then they'd have pickup a clean Pullman line of cars to go through to New Orleans.

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Pearl Bowser: And some of your family worked there?
Lula Adams: And, um, this [[??]] lived here a minute, it was more. And Katy Hanes flew in and in the next house over there. Both of them worked for Pullman cleaning cars, but they lived at home at their houses. They worked, uh uh, 8 hours a day.

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Pearl Bowser: Was that considered a, um, good paying job?
Lula Adams: Oh yeah, and especially for somebody that didn't have any more education than they had. God was good.

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Pearl Bowser: Hmm. Do you have any idea of what kind of pay they got?

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Lula Adams: Well, yes. They would get, um, I guess on the average of $4 a day.

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Pearl Bowser: And what years was that -- when they were were doing that work?

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Lula Adams: They worked from 19-- and 19, [[aside]] let me see, the war was over in 1918, November 1918 [[end aside]] well they worked from 1917.

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Lula Adams: Amelia started working in December 1917 and Kate started to work in May of 1918 and they worked until-- one of them made it 22 years and the other made it around 24.

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Pearl Bowser: And that pay that you were telling us about was when they started working?
Lula Adams: Huh?

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Pearl Bowser: The pay scale, the-- when you told us how much they were making. Was that when they started working?
Lula Adams: That's when they started working.

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Pearl Bowser: Well, that was very nice then.

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Lula Adams: Mmm hmm. That's when they started working. But then they went from, um um, to 5 days a week and they have extra people for the days to fill in, you know, when the other the regular ones they have a chance to make extra money.

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Pearl Bowser: Could you tell us after you went to the business college, um, you were still living at home and taking care of your family's finances?
Lula Adams: Yeah, uh huh, uh huh.

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Pearl Bowser: Who were your friends then?
Lula Adams: My friends?
Pearl Bowser: Yes, were those the friends you had still in high school or did you make new friends?

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Lula Adams: No, I had friends in high school and friends in the neighborhood.

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Pearl Bowser: And did you? What kind of amusements did you have then when you were grown up?
Lula Adams: To go to all the plays and everything else I could. [Laughing] Nobody when I was afraid to walk at night in that neighborhood. Cause everybody knew me.

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Lula Adams: Those that didn't want to like I live, they didn't bother me. They just let me go on my way. Nobody never nobody else.

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Pearl Bowser: Did you see--
Lula Adams: I could ride the bus, and go down to the, uh, to the cottage to hear some music, 'cause they'd have dances, socials on. At night I could go there and--

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Pearl Bowser: You could dance there?
Lula Adams: Uh huh, yeah, and I could just enjoy a good life. I thought at the time. [laughs]

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Louise Spence: Did the-- were the plays that you saw, um, were there any, um, black companies that put on the plays that you saw?
Lula Adams: Oh yeah, only in, in, at Church's auditorium, things like that, see.

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Louise Spence: Those were the plays?
Lula Adams: Uh huh, yeah. And I remember the first time Mirren Allison came here. I-- I went to Church's auditorium and heard her sing.

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Louise Spence: Umm hmm. Church's auditorium that is the auditorium for the--
Lula Adams: Church's Park down on Beale Street.
Louise Spence: Uh huh. So, I mean, it was, it was a public place, not a church itself?
Lula Adams: [[cross talk]] Uh huh, yeah, it was only a public place.

00:29:25.000 --> 00:29:50.000
Lula Adams: See, Robert Church is, gave, Robert Church gave the park to the City of Memphis. He was the first black millionaire in Memphis. And, uh, he gave the park and the auditorium to the City and that is where colored people came there.

00:29:50.000 --> 00:30:10.250
Louise Spence: Do you want to talk a little about Mr. Church? Did you know very much about him?
Lula Adams: Well, no. I didn't know very-- only hearsay, see, I didn't know very much about him.
Louise Spence: Um, were you aware of when he was forced to leave, uh, Memphis?

00:30:15.000 --> 00:30:19.000
Lula Adams: I know when his daughter was forced to leave.

00:30:19.000 --> 00:30:22.000
Pearl Bowser: His daughter was forced to leave?

00:30:22.000 --> 00:30:23.000
Lula Adams: Hm?

00:30:23.000 --> 00:30:25.000
Pearl Bowser: You said his daughter was forced to leave?

00:30:25.000 --> 00:30:29.000
Lula Adams: Yes, she and Miss Ida B. Payne.

00:30:29.000 --> 00:30:31.000
Pearl Bowser: What was--

00:30:31.000 --> 00:30:34.000
Lula Adams: --was a city school teacher at the time.

00:30:34.000 --> 00:30:41.000
Lula Adams: And they used to lynch folks here in Memphis, so they told me. I heard of it,

00:30:41.000 --> 00:30:49.000
Lula Adams: but they said that they drove 'em up and down Beale street, one group of men.

00:30:49.000 --> 00:30:57.000
Lula Adams: Just any kinda tale could be told. At that time, a Black man was in worse shape than he is now.

00:30:57.000 --> 00:31:02.000
Lula Adams: Because, all he had to do was just be born with a Black face and

00:31:02.000 --> 00:31:11.000
Lula Adams: unless some white person took up for him, he was just considered nothing.

00:31:11.000 --> 00:31:19.000
Pearl Bowser: Mm. Why were-- why was Mr. Church's daughter forced to leave?

00:31:19.000 --> 00:31:31.000
Lula Adams: Well, there was some things that she said, and-- and did. And from the looks of 'em, they had to be true.

00:31:31.000 --> 00:31:37.000
Lula Adams: Because they were whiter than some white folks [[laughs]] I know [[honestly?]].

00:31:37.000 --> 00:31:42.000
Lula Adams: And, you know, the majority can raise to be as ruthless.

00:31:42.000 --> 00:31:44.000
Pearl Bowser: Mm.

00:31:44.000 --> 00:31:53.000
Lula Adams: 'Cause it's colored people. It's a bad thing, to get up in front of a congregation, and look at 'em.

00:31:53.000 --> 00:31:57.000
Lula Adams: You see everybody in the world.

00:31:57.000 --> 00:32:03.000
Lula Adams: Just around, represented. They look just like some folks.

00:32:03.000 --> 00:32:12.000
Lula Adams: And some of those folks, the reason that people try to give 'em and help 'em, was 'cause they-- they can't help it.

00:32:12.000 --> 00:32:14.000
Lula Adams: But now, like my family,

00:32:14.000 --> 00:32:18.000
Lula Adams: there wasn't a situation like that.

00:32:18.000 --> 00:32:29.000
Lula Adams: The only real light-skinned folks I ever saw in my family-- at least ever heard of in my family, I never got to see 'em.

00:32:29.000 --> 00:32:32.000
Pearl Bowser: Mm. And d--

00:32:32.000 --> 00:32:42.000
Lula Adams: 'Cause [[really?]], my mother, naturally, was lighter-skinned, I remember it now. Not that much.

00:32:42.000 --> 00:32:48.000
Lula Adams: And to tell me I'm the same color my daddy's mama. So I don't know nothing 'bout his daddy.

00:32:48.000 --> 00:32:56.000
Lula Adams: 'Cause, he didn't know him. 'Cause he was-- he died when he was a young person.

00:32:56.000 --> 00:33:02.000
Pearl Bowser: Mm. The Churchills––I mean the Churches were a very fair family?

00:33:02.000 --> 00:33:05.000
Lula Adams: Yea. Yea, they were.

00:33:05.000 --> 00:33:10.000
Louise Spence: And what kind of things were in that auditorium? What kind of shows?

00:33:10.000 --> 00:33:20.000
Lula Adams: Uh, anything that the represented the best culture of colored folk. That's what we had going on.

00:33:20.000 --> 00:33:37.000
Lula Adams: Like Marian Anderson, and like Roscoe Simmons. He was a great orator at the time, but he couldn't get a hearing in.

00:33:37.000 --> 00:33:43.000
Lula Adams: They had a theater for, and places for, white people but none for colored.

00:33:43.000 --> 00:33:46.000
Pearl Bowser: Mm.

00:33:46.000 --> 00:33:53.000
Lula Adams: And Church's Park and Auditorium was the place. Now that's where we had our--

00:33:53.000 --> 00:33:57.000
Lula Adams: Kortrech High School had the graduation exercises down there

00:33:57.000 --> 00:34:03.000
Lula Adams: or anything that concerned the general welfare of colored people,

00:34:03.000 --> 00:34:09.000
Lula Adams: that's what happened at Church's Park and Church's Auditorium.

00:34:09.000 --> 00:34:17.000
Lula Adams: But the city of Memphis didn't furnish us no place to do anything but

00:34:17.000 --> 00:34:24.000
Lula Adams: that section of Beale street that gambled and cursed and did every--

00:34:24.000 --> 00:34:29.000
Lula Adams: prostitution practiced up and down Front Street.

00:34:29.000 --> 00:34:43.000
Lula Adams: Now James Canan-- I know at some time you heard about Jim Canan's place on or in the First Ward.

00:34:43.000 --> 00:34:45.000
Pearl Bowser: What do you want to tell us about--

00:34:45.000 --> 00:34:46.000
Lula Adams: Huh?

00:34:46.000 --> 00:34:48.000
Pearl Bowser: Tell us about Jim Canan's place.

00:34:48.000 --> 00:34:53.000
Lula Adams: Well, now I never was in there as I told you. [[laughter]]

00:34:53.000 --> 00:35:04.000
Lula Adams: And none of the women in my family were ever in there, though they were born and reared in the neighborhood.

00:35:04.000 --> 00:35:16.000
Lula Adams: When we moved out here, we moved from a half a block from Jim Canan's home house at 2nd and Overton,

00:35:16.000 --> 00:35:26.000
Lula Adams: and we lived on the corner of the alley between 2nd-- between Overton and 2nd and Concord.

00:35:26.000 --> 00:35:32.000
Lula Adams: Just a half a block on the opposite side of the street from his home now.

00:35:32.000 --> 00:35:42.000
Lula Adams: But now, he lived there with his sister, Miss--Miss Kate, and her family, the Pendergrasses.

00:35:42.000 --> 00:35:51.000
Lula Adams: Her daughters, children, they played with the Black children 'round in the neighborhood, see.

00:35:51.000 --> 00:35:52.000
Pearl Bowser: Mm.

00:35:52.000 --> 00:35:58.000
Lula Adams: And they went to St. Bridges, which is St. Theresa's school-- I mean, church.

00:35:58.000 --> 00:36:06.000
Lula Adams: Now, Little Flower. It moved from 3rd and Overton to where it is now.

00:36:06.000 --> 00:36:12.000
Pearl Bowser: Mm. What business was this Jim in?

00:36:12.000 --> 00:36:15.000
Lula Adams: Oh, everything that was low-down, they told me.

00:36:15.000 --> 00:36:16.000

00:36:16.000 --> 00:36:22.000
Lula Adams: I never-- see, he--he operated this place on Front Street,

00:36:22.000 --> 00:36:29.000
Lula Adams: and the police would get in behind colored parents

00:36:29.000 --> 00:36:35.000
Lula Adams: that would try to get their sons and daughters from up there.

00:36:35.000 --> 00:36:43.000
Lula Adams: Some of the best looking colored people would run away from home and go up there and get in that place,

00:36:43.000 --> 00:36:47.000
Lula Adams: ya know, 'cause they had heard that that was a great life.

00:36:47.000 --> 00:36:54.000
Lula Adams: And they'd get up there, and then if their families would come to try to get 'em away the police would run them away.

00:36:54.000 --> 00:37:01.000
Lula Adams: 'Cause see, he was running things here in Memphis at that time.

00:37:01.000 --> 00:37:03.000
Louise Spence: There was gambling?

00:37:03.000 --> 00:37:13.000
Lula Adams: Gambling and prostitution and drug-selling. Just like these folks selling drug--drugs now.

00:37:13.000 --> 00:37:19.000
Lula Adams: There were places out there in that neighborhood where you could pass Chinese people,

00:37:19.000 --> 00:37:20.000
Lula Adams: they were operating the laundries and things.

00:37:20.000 --> 00:37:32.000
Lula Adams: And sometimes you'd go by those places, and they-- and over there, they called it Hop then. I don't know what they calling it now.

00:37:32.000 --> 00:37:36.000
Lula Adams: Opium. They'd been smoking that stuff in there.
Louise Spence: Mm. Opium dens. [[Cross talk]]

00:37:36.000 --> 00:37:40.000
Lula Adams: It would make you sick.
Pearl Bowser: Mm.

00:37:40.000 --> 00:37:54.000
Lula Adams: Nasty place, I didn't like that. They used to do all that tablecloths and um, counter pins.

00:37:54.000 --> 00:38:00.000
Lula Adams: You know, things that-- heavy quilts and all that kind of stuff.

00:38:00.000 --> 00:38:12.000
Lula Adams: Folks, they did those things regularly in the neighborhood, which you could pass those places where they were smoking that stuff and just letting it sit.
Pearl Bowser: Mm.

00:38:12.000 --> 00:38:21.000
Lula Adams: So that's nothing new. You just made a choice as to how you wanted to live.

00:38:21.000 --> 00:38:22.000
Pearl Bowser: Is that why you moved?

00:38:22.000 --> 00:38:27.000
Lula Adams: Huh?
Pearl Bowser: Is that why your family moved from there, further away?

00:38:27.000 --> 00:38:39.000
Lula Adams: Uh-uh [[negative]]. When they opened this place up out here, that was a good place to buy, good chance to buy a home, and that's why they started buying.

00:38:39.000 --> 00:38:46.000
Lula Adams: They paid-- you could pay five and ten dollars down on a lot back then.

00:38:46.000 --> 00:38:52.000
Lula Adams: It cost-- a lot like this one, it was selling for three hundred and fifty dollars.

00:38:52.000 --> 00:38:55.000
Louise Spence: Were there any movie theaters out here then?

00:38:55.000 --> 00:38:57.000
Lula Adams: No! There weren't nothing out here!

00:38:57.000 --> 00:39:08.000
Louise Spence: [[laughter]] So--
Lula Adams: It had been a farm. When they first moved out here, there was still rows of whatever they was planting.

00:39:08.000 --> 00:39:11.000
Louise Spence: So where did you go for your entertainment?

00:39:11.000 --> 00:39:13.000
{SPEAKER name= "Lula Adams"} I didn't come out here dear. [[laughter]]

00:39:13.000 --> 00:39:15.000
{SPEAKER name= "Louise Spence"} Oh, you didn't.

00:39:15.000 --> 00:39:17.000
{SPEAKER name= "Lula Adams"} My aunties did.

00:39:17.000 --> 00:39:18.000
{SPEAKER name= "Pearl Bowser"} Mm.

00:39:18.000 --> 00:39:27.000
{SPEAKER name= "Lula Adams"} At least, my aunt next door-- her husband, he paid down on three lots. She was gon' be such an exploder of things, you know.

00:39:27.000 --> 00:39:39.000
Lula Adams: And my mama always had a mind of her own. She wasm't gon' let him put her [[laughs]] out here, and so--

00:39:39.000 --> 00:39:42.000
{SPEAKER name= "Lula Adams"} Then-- that left to him with two lots then

00:39:42.000 --> 00:39:46.000
Lula Adams: on the way they housed the next doors all boarded up.

00:39:46.000 --> 00:39:49.000
Lula Adams: 'Cause I was sweatin' my auntie to give it up.

00:39:49.000 --> 00:39:56.000
{SPEAKER name= "Lula Adams"} After he died, 'cause she go the way the folks who moved in, and move out, and you could pay her and

00:39:56.000 --> 00:39:59.000
Lula Adams: See, and we were living out here at the time

00:39:59.000 --> 00:40:07.000
Lula Adams: and just-- I asked-- that she don't need-- she didn't have any children.

00:40:07.000 --> 00:40:11.000
Lula Adams: I said now, she just don't need that to be where [[?]]

00:40:11.000 --> 00:40:21.000
Lula Adams: because it was more hurt than it was help, and I was advised to tell her to give it up, so I did.

00:40:21.000 --> 00:40:30.000
Lula Adams: And she got what she could outta her [[interest?]] [[get outta that?]]. [[But...uh]]

00:40:30.000 --> 00:40:37.000
Lula Adams: I tried to get [[Cissor]], the one that owned [[Lily?]], the one that owned this house.

00:40:37.000 --> 00:40:49.000
Lula Adams: I tried the oldest one. I tried to get her to let Herman [[Gruber?]] really to come and put up a standard olden house.

00:40:49.000 --> 00:40:54.000
Lula Adams: With standard windows and everything in it.

00:40:54.000 --> 00:41:02.000
Lula Adams: I know-- nobody wouldn't-- I don't know. Just when you don't know, you just don't know.

00:41:02.000 --> 00:41:08.000
Lula Adams: And some people, you know, they wanna do what everybody else is doing

00:41:08.000 --> 00:41:15.000
Lula Adams: And that's not no way to live. You gotta make your own choices, as to how you wanna live.

00:41:15.000 --> 00:41:18.000
Lula Adams: And that's what I had been told all of the time.

00:41:18.000 --> 00:41:32.000
Lula Adams: But she had this house with her, and it's been given us to deal with ever since. [[Laughs]]

00:41:32.000 --> 00:41:43.000
Lula Adams: Because everything you have done has got to be especially done in that size. See, in a standard like that one there next door.

00:41:43.000 --> 00:41:49.000
Lula Adams: Now I don't- I don't have all that trouble with that house,

00:41:49.000 --> 00:41:59.000
Lula Adams: because standard size windows and doors and window shades and all that kinda stuff, you can get it.

00:41:59.000 --> 00:42:13.000
Lula Adams: But over here, there wasn't-- I said, Cissor, let Mr. [[Gruber?]] put up a house, and you pick. You gon' intend to live in it all your life.

00:42:13.000 --> 00:42:23.000
Lula Adams: She had-- she gon' have it done her way, so we had a fireplace put in there,

00:42:23.000 --> 00:42:33.000
Lula Adams: to help balance the length of this room across here with some kinda solid foundation.

00:42:33.000 --> 00:42:45.000
Lula Adams: All right, that was an extra expense. Whenever we got window shades or something, I had to cut 'em down in to fit the window.

00:42:45.000 --> 00:42:56.000
Pearl Bowser: We've been talking to you for quite a while, and I've got one last question.

00:42:56.000 --> 00:43:05.000
Pearl Bowser: I'd like to know what kind of plays you saw in the Church Auditorium?

00:43:05.000 --> 00:43:07.000
Lula Adams: What kinda plays?

00:43:07.000 --> 00:43:17.000
Pearl Bowser: Plays. You said that was where Marian Anderson, concerts, and-and others-- that's where people performed.

00:43:17.000 --> 00:43:19.000
Lula Adams: Uh-huh [[affirmative]]. Orators, ya know.

00:43:19.000 --> 00:43:27.000
Pearl Bowser: Orators, yeah-yeah good. When you say orators, were they uhm preachers or--

00:43:27.000 --> 00:43:28.000
Lula Adams: No.

00:43:28.000 --> 00:43:29.000
Pearl Bowser: Th-they recited--

00:43:29.000 --> 00:43:42.000
Lula Adams: Somebody-- some of 'em had a political tone to 'em. Complaints about certain things that were happening at the time.

00:43:42.000 --> 00:43:43.000
Pearl Bowser: Uh-huh. [[Affirmative]]

00:43:43.000 --> 00:43:50.000
Lula Adams: If you wanted to hear from the Black person's view, that's where we had to go to do it, see.

00:43:50.000 --> 00:43:52.000
Pearl Bowser: I see.

00:43:52.000 --> 00:43:54.000
Louise Spence: Did they show films there on special occasions?

00:43:54.000 --> 00:43:57.000
Lula Adams: Not that I know of.

00:43:57.000 --> 00:44:09.000
Pearl Bowser: Were there any traveling groups of uh performers that put on plays in the auditorium?

00:44:09.000 --> 00:44:18.000
Lula Adams: We had-- you had to go the Daisy to see the brown-skinned models and all that. [[Laughs]]

00:44:18.000 --> 00:44:19.000
Pearl Bowser: Right.

00:44:19.000 --> 00:44:25.000
Lula Adams: See, and after I got grown, that's where I went to see it.

00:44:25.000 --> 00:44:26.000
Pearl Bowser: What about--

00:44:26.000 --> 00:44:29.000
Lula Adams: A group of friends that thought like I did about it, see.

00:44:29.000 --> 00:44:38.000
Pearl Bowser: What about the-- did you ever see a theater company, like the Lafayette Players?

00:44:38.000 --> 00:44:44.000
Lula Adams: No! [[Laughs]] Daddy, no.

00:44:44.000 --> 00:44:51.000
Louise Spence: Did you go often to the Daisy when you were grownin' to see that stage shows there? You said you went to see the brown-skinned models.

00:44:51.000 --> 00:44:58.000
Lula Adams: Oh, yea. And no, I didn't go that often to see it.

00:44:58.000 --> 00:44:59.000
Louise Spence: Special occasions?

00:44:59.000 --> 00:45:03.000
Lula Adams: Not a special occasion. I just wanted to see what it was like.

00:45:03.000 --> 00:45:09.000
Louise Spence: Uh-huh. [[Affirmative]] What'd ya think it was like? Did you enjoy the show?

00:45:09.000 --> 00:45:12.000
Lula Adams: Some of it I did, and some I didn't.

00:45:12.000 --> 00:45:16.000
Louise Spence: Can you tell us what parts you liked, and which parts you didn't like?

00:45:16.000 --> 00:45:30.000
Lula Adams: Well, some of the jokes were all right, but the thing about it, my boyfriend said that if I wanted to see a naked brown-skinned woman, just undress. [[Laughter]]

00:45:30.000 --> 00:45:37.000
Lula Adams: He said, 'cause if you get up close to them, you'll find out they don't look so beautiful. [[Laughter]]

00:45:37.000 --> 00:45:52.000
Lula Adams: And I had several friends, ya know, tell me the same thing the men that I grew up with.

00:45:52.000 --> 00:46:03.000
Lula Adams: See, and I guess, not having any brothers, I learned a lot from men.

00:46:03.000 --> 00:46:12.000
Pearl Bowser: Were there ever fairs that took place here? Black fairs--

00:46:12.000 --> 00:46:13.000
Lula Adams: No.

00:46:13.000 --> 00:46:14.000
Pearl Bowser: --that took place in Memphis?

00:46:14.000 --> 00:46:27.000
Lula Adams: I told you they told me 'bout 'em dragging the men up and down Beale street after they had lynched 'em. [00:46:22
Pearl Bowser: Yeah, but I was thinking of a-- like, a state fair.

00:46:27.000 --> 00:46:32.000
Lula Adams: Oh, fair! Yes!
Pearl Bowser: Fair. F-a-i-r, yes. [[Cross talk]]

00:46:32.000 --> 00:46:45.000
Lula Adams: Reverend Jill Campbell and some others had what they used to call the Tristate Fair, and that was for Black folk.

00:46:45.000 --> 00:46:48.000
Lula Adams: You didn't get to go to the other fair.

00:46:48.000 --> 00:46:50.000
Louise Spence: Was that nice?

00:46:50.000 --> 00:46:55.670
Lula Adams: Unless somebody, ya know, just wanted to care some way, which no one did--

00:46:58.000 --> 00:46:58.896