Image: Dolly Hill with Memory Quilt
Interview with Dolly Hill Conducted by Mary Lipsey for the Providence District History Project Providence Perspective
This is Wednesday November 28th, 2007 and we are in the home of Dolly Hill and my name is Mary Lipsey and I would like to interview you about your family and your life here in this area in Providence District. So can you start back with ah your, you know, let's say great grandfather or whoever was the first persons that you know that lived in this area and tell us a little about that?
Dolly: Actually the first person that I knew by being the youngest of most of the families over there - I knew William H. Collins, Jr., not Senior,
Dolly: William Collins Sr. had passed when I was small, so I don't remember him at all. The only thing I can tell you about William Collins Sr. is hearsay, you know verbal, they talked about him a lot when I was young. But I remember my grandfather because he didn't pass until 1953 and we lived with him and he would tell us a lot about the little area because he was the type of person that actually believed in saving money, and you know owning things - you earn what you had, you had to earn it. So he was showing us by living with him, I know this is what he tried to teach all the family members he was like the Godfather of the whole community here. He bought land, he was a Spanish American War veteran and he rode with Teddy Roosevelt, with the Rough Riders, the tenth Calvary, he was in Cuba and all this and he use to tell us stories about that. But he also saved his money from that stint in the service and he bought the land over there from Mason. And Mason he said that he had told my grandfather that the people over here which were very few, cause it was all farm land, didn't want him to buy that land because of his color. They didn't want anybody like that but Mr. Mason said anybody that came up with the money, you know, he would sell it to him. So pops bought the property we called him poppa that's William, Jr., he bought the land over there which we called the Pines and he divided it up between his siblings and his father. And his father was living in Graddlebank but you know Graddlebank is Falls Church area.
Dolly: And his father - they all lived there while he was in the service. And he bought this property and divided his property up with his siblings and his father. And there was two houses on there and that's what he told me. Now, other people can dispute it but that's what he told me. And I was fortunate I was the one that was the last of my mother's children at home and mostly all the other children were going to school. I was by myself and he would come over to my mothers every morning and have coffee and they would sit and talk. And I was small enough but I remember a lot of things that he said. I would sit down besides my mother and listen to her and he told me that he I mean he told us not only me that he saved his money and bought that property; he divided it up between his siblings; which later his siblings paid him back for the property.
Dolly: And they owned it and that's what he said. Ah, like I said everything is hearsay because there is nothing written down that would let what I'm saying would be true or false. You know it's just what he told me. And I was able to sit down and I listened to all this where the other children didn't have the opportunity and they would not run me out of the house like they did the rest of them. So
Mary: You were a good listener I bet.
Dolly: I was, I was, and I could remember a lot - I mean I remembered a lot. Even at school when I went to school, it was the same difference, teacher use to tell me that I could be off a week or more and then go back to school and knew everything that they did. I skipped grades, I am not bragging on myself but it was just a gift and I still say today it's a gift from God that I'm like that, I can still remember a lot. Anyway, he said he divided his land up between his siblings which later paid him back.
Mary: Let me ask you it was William H. Collins, did you say?
Mary: William H. Collins, Jr. So he was with Teddy Roosevelt and that 10th Calvary went before the Rough Riders up San Juan Hill.
Mary: Right they didn't get any credit the African American.
Dolly: Right, I was just reading it last night on the Spanish American War veterans.
Mary: Right, they didn't get the credit for it; Teddy Roosevelt and the rough riders got credit for that.
Dolly: But he was telling us about how he use to break the horses and do stuff like that for the 10th Calvary.
Mary: Now how much were you talking about purchasing the land? And the Pines we want to just kind of locate it in our mind, it's on Woodburn Road and it's where the V is on Woodburn Road, is that the general area?
Dolly: It's right there where the soccer field is.
Mary: Right, okay, where the park is.
Mary: Okay, and do you know how many acres he had?
Dolly: Oh, yeah 17.
Mary: 17 acres.
Dolly: He bought 17 acres if I am not mistaken; I think that is what he did. But what he did he kept 10 of them and the rest of it went to his siblings and his father.
Mary: Now you tell me that he said he purchased it from Mr. Mason and of course we all think George Mason.
Dolly: That's who it is.
Mary: It is George Mason well it has to be a descendant of the one from Colonial times.
Dolly: Right yeah.
Mary: But it is a direct descendant from George Mason.
Dolly: Right, okay because a lot of people over on Rt. 236 area bought land from him like the Johnson's and all them bought land from him Mason too.
Dolly: One thing about this property over here they didn't have access to go all the way back to (Rt.) 236 you know so it stopped over there ( I don't know if you remember where Camelot school is)
Dolly: right over here it stopped in that general area. But my grandfather didn't own that land. Now that land was bought by people named Slathers or - my grandfather told some of these people about the property that was being that was for sale and they were all working at the Stone Quarry in Falls Church at the time and they were looking for places. Some of these people were from Pittsburg like the Robinsons they were from Pittsburgh. And they were looking for a place so they bought land. You know different families bought land in that general area but ah my grandfather kept a road which was Boundary Drive for a long time. It was a head ache at first it was Collins Street but they took Collins Street name away from it to put it further into Camelot. But that's the way it is now is the tail end of where the Collins' property and they replaced it with Bannerwood Drive. Now my grandfather cut that road in there so that the Robinsons and the rest of the families could get back in there to their homes because there wasn't a road from (Rt.) 236 to come in and there wasn't a road from Woodburn Road from Woodburn Road to come in. In fact that wasn't even Woodburn Road; they didn't even call it Woodburn Road at the time.
Mary: Now I've been to the Son's of Liberty Cemetery and there's a William Collins buried there. Now is that
Dolly: That's Senior.
Mary: That's senior, okay cause he was a veteran also.
Dolly: In the Union Army.
Mary: Yes, he fought in the Union Army, okay and then his son fought in the Spanish American War; well that is a fascinating history.
Dolly: Yes and that's the one who bought the property.
Mary: Right and then as he moved in with his siblings and all then it just kind of developed into an African American community? I mean as others bought land here?
Dolly: Well the Pines as we call it was African American but right behind my grandfathers house which is right here on Woodburn Road was a white family called Boves and then right on the bend where you came by the light right here well a lady named Mrs. Murphy lived there and she was white also.
Mary: Okay so it just wasn't just total African American.
Dolly: The little area from that point back there wasn't any other whites until you got to up here between Gallows and Woodburn where Holly (Mary talked also so difficult to discern) well that was Tobin area and they were white, just like Tobins down here.
Mary: Okay. Now you are also related to James Lee, I see his photograph up there so can you tell me about how you are related to James Lee.
Dolly: James Lee, I am his great granddaughter.
Mary: Okay, and tell me a little about James Lee.
Dolly: Well the only thing that I can tell you is the Lee's didn't talk about it too much because they were ashamed that he could have been fathered by Robert,
Dolly: Robert E. Lee. It was something they didn't talk about it but they said they knew it but didn't talk about it.
Dolly: So anyway, they talked about James Lee as being one of the most prominent black people in Falls Church. He was the only one that had a carriage when other people didn't have a carriage. He had horses when other ones didn't have horses. He came here from up in Leesburg area with a little bit of money. It wasn't given to him like $50 and a mule or $100 and a mule it wasn't given to him like a piece of land. They wondered why or how he got farm property here in Falls Church, which they say at one time, belonged to the Lees, Robert Lee family.
Dolly: You know so.
Mary: It's interesting to hear the perspective.
Dolly: Anyway he had a lot of land in Falls Church and there again he gave it to his children on both sides of Annandale Road was Lees. He had about 11 children and they all settled there in their later years like I say when they couldn't find work they all went to whatever was available back this way. One of his sons went to California he started Canyon Sewers doing Upholstery and he stayed out there. But the rest of them basically stayed between Pittsburgh and Falls Church. They farmed; they did anything to survive in other words. But he was one of the founders of the Second Baptist Church in Falls Church and was very prominent in the area. And I was told it lasted up until about 5 or 6 years ago that when the Lees started dying out that they had a beautification program in Falls Church and they said the Lee family, most of them were on Annandale Road that's how you get to Costner Drive where the church is. They had the prettiest yards and had the best kept flowers. Their homes were always kept real nice and they would always get the award, every year it would go to the Lee family; which wasn't fair you know.
Mary: Now is he buried at the Second Baptist?
Dolly: He is buried at Second Baptist he and his wife and some of his children. The thing that bothers me a little bit and like I said I would like to have that picture hung back into the James Lee's Recreation Center they call it now. Mrs. Henderson who was the principal at Falls Church Elementary the Crane School she was trying to get Fairfax County to make sure that the blacks were getting the education that they needed and they wanted them to be in a place where they could have running water and get situated so as they did not to have to bother the community to get different things. So she and my uncle Russell, James Lee's son, (Mary - okay) James had passed his mother had passed ah Russell's mother had passed and her name was Virginia. He talked to Mrs. Henderson and said - he lived on the home place which is that strip where the James Lee School is right now recreation center is right now, he said let's see if we can swap land because the school was right on Annandale Road. And he said we can swap the land you can have a place to build a school on James Lee's property, his own birthplace, his father's home place. And I'll move my house over here on the land where the school is. Well as it happened and Mrs. Henderson had quite a time getting it named after James Lee. Russell didn't want it named after him, because he said it was my father's property that was given to me. So Russell was the one who helped Henderson to get that James Lee School there.
Mary: Now was that Mary Henderson - the new Elementary School is named for her?
Dolly: Yes, right.
Mary: So it was actually Russell Lee and Mary Henderson who worked together?
Mary: to get that school build? Do you remember when that was built? About, approximately, when James Lee (School) opened?
Dolly: I'm not sure, I'm not sure because they finally shut down other schools different schools and bused all these kids into James Lee and I can't remember what year that was.
Mary: Oh, I can find that out so don't worry about that.
Dolly: Okay, I know it was like 54 or 5 when Luther Jackson was built.
Mary: Right. Dolly: And then they had an elementary school there until they bused the kids back.
Dolly: I can't remember the years I remember it was close to that cause I left Manassas in 1950.
Mary: Manassas Industrial School
Dolly: There wasn't any schools built in Fairfax County for black families.
Mary: Right. Well tell us about your parents and then we're going to move on into your lifetime. Your parents are?
Dolly: My parents are Avon Lee and Myra Collins.
Mary: Myra Collins Lee okay.
Dolly: Yes, William Collins' oldest daughter, William Collins Junior's oldest daughter.
Mary: Right. Dolly: All I can say about that whole family - we had a God fearing, loving family with a community that just seemed to help each other. They help each other no matter what happened to each other. Well they use to call my mom's house my mom's and dad's house, which is the one that William Collins gave her, the community center. And everybody from everywhere dropped in all the time. And I think it was a tradition that started with her mother. And my mom's mother Betty Collins was William Collins originally. Betty Williams Collins was a seamstress, she was a cook, she was a little bit of everything and she always did everything but she stayed sick a lot. Now one instance and then I'll get back to the other part of the story - there was a family in the Pines who had five boys and one girl, it was the Turner family and the father used to work at the Stone Quarry and he got sick and he passed and so the boys, you know they weren't rich, so the boys didn't have a suit to wear to their father's funeral and my grandmother Betty gathered up all the suits that the men no longer wore because they were too small or whatever and with the pedal sewing machine she made those five suits for those boys before the funeral.
Dolly: I mean that's the kind of caring family that started a tradition like at Christmas or a Sunday Evening she would have enough dinner to feed an army. Anybody who dropped in was able to eat. So my mom carried on that tradition even after her mother had long passed. Her mother died at age 39 so she wasn't old when she died. But my mom was taught to cook when she was eight and could feed all the people who were going back and forth to their jobs. Most of 'em were working in the fields laying crops so they could take it to the Oak Street Market down in Georgetown you know and different areas. But they, and like I say they worked together, always have to help each other. Even at an early age, like I said my mama, they's over my mother's, was taught to cook for all these people and send 'em out. But she (meaning her Grandma) was sick but she guided her (my mom) to make sure she would do it right. Anyway she (my mom) kept that trend going and even when we were growing up mom cooked for an army she had eight children but cooked for an army so that anybody who dropped in could have something to eat.
Dolly: And I was so taken back when I was working at Fairfax Hospital and one of my friends that lived, Robinson family that used to live, down in the Pines her daughter was having open heart surgery. So we were sitting there talking because we had been close all these years and she said, Dolly do you remember when we went to elementary school, they use to walk to my house and we were sitting there eating breakfast and my mother would ask them if they wanted something to eat "no thank you, no mam, no thank you, and she said I was so hungry I almost died while you all were eating.
Mary: Oh, my goodness.
Dolly: And all day long she didn't have any food. When I got ready to eat my lunch she would always be besides me and she said I was hoping you'd say "I'm not hungry, I don't want my lunch, you want my lunch?" And I did that a lot, I would give my lunch to anybody who wanted it and my mother caught on to it after a while. She didn't mind because I wasn't hungry. If I was hungry I would have eaten it but I wasn't hungry so I'd give it to them. And she told me she said she was so happy that you gave me your lunch because, I was, I hadn't eaten and I was so hungry and that food smelled so good and we laughed about it. But I told her then I said I did not know that was happening, I was too young to understand that they were that poor that they didn't have and we had I mean it came to us like it was Thanksgiving day. My mother and them canned all the time from the food that they grew and they had hog killing time so we had meats. We had all kinds of food to eat all the time and it just didn't occur to me that she was hungry and I'm overly full.
Mary: Let me ask you two things before I forget. When you said they'd take the produce to Oak Street did they have wagons?
Dolly: Oh yes, oh yeah.
Mary: Horse drawn wagons?
Dolly: This is a Collins thing - one time they said my great grandfather got so he trained his horses to bring him back home where he didn't have to touch the
Mary: reins - oh my goodness they just knew the way.
Dolly: they knew the way and stopped right at the front door.
Mary: Oh my goodness.
Dolly: Well they and been away there all day long and because they use to get up real early to go down to the market. They raised all kinds of vegetables, for one thing the older Collins' seniors and that group along with their children were share croppers and they would go to different places, like Seven Corners and different places around through Chesterbrook, Great Falls to and they would farm for these people and of course you would get so much and I have so much but you always had yours here. The younger ones always did the farming around here plus my grandfather William, Jr., bought another farm up there in Centerville and they were going to build an airport up there at one time. But then they found out that the community was fussing about it and didn't want the airport over there. The land was not sold to them for an airport but anyway we could go up there and farm.
Mary: Now wait I am a little confused - so they had their own property, which they grew some crops on too but they had other peoples farms they were farming there and of course the produce went to the people who owned the farm but they also got to keep some. Is that right?
Dolly: Yes, it is like share cropping instead of getting money
Mary: They get the crops.
Dolly: Yeah they got the crops. There's only one that I heard William, Sr. got money from the doctor up there in Seven Corners. He did his what he got must not have been real big but he got a garden for his family and he would give him money to work to keep this garden up for him. There was quite a few of them and they would go around place to place to do this.
Mary: And of course that was all year round except for the real bad wintertime when they couldn't.
Dolly: The women stayed home and they canned.
Mary: Yeah all that produce and everything.
Dolly: They canned. And I hated the cellar; I hated canning time because I was young and afraid of dark holes. They didn't have a basement like we did, it was a hole dug under the ground under your house and it was a cellar, all this was was wood it was cold down there it was just like a refrigerator or a freezer. And my grandfather cut shelves into the earth and they put wood on top of it to put your vegetables and stuff on; but it was the coolness from the earth that kept it cool all the time. We put potatoes down there. He had apple orchard over there and we put apples down there; put it in paper brown bags - granny sacks they called them and we would store them in the cellar and all during winter we ate from there. We didn't have to go to the store. You might go to the store well you didn't have to go to the store for milk because he had the cow. We made the cottage cheese, and made bread, and then they did the butter
Dolly: those are the chores that we would do.
Mary: It all involved with getting you food ready.
Mary: Well now let's start with your youth. How did you become know as Dolly?
Dolly: Well there was a candy named Dolly Dimples okay
Mary: Dolly Dimples?
Dolly: A candy years ago named Dolly Dimples.
Mary: What candy was that?
Dolly: It was a taffy bar.
Mary: Oh, okay.
Dolly: And my uncle who was blind, I may have told you about my mother's brother that was blind. He couldn't see me so he kept feeling my face, this is what I was told, feeling my face. He called my mother Mynie her name was Myra but because their mother passed early and they were young; he was like seven when his mother passed and Uncle Guy was like five or six, well anyway he couldn't see he's feeling my face and he said my face felt like a doll just like a doll so pretty almost like that Dolly Dimple candy. And when I found out about that I laughed and said how come you called me Dolly Dimples and later years he called me Dimp.
Mary: So some people call you Dolly and some call you Dimp.
Dolly: Only two people do that now, my mother's two brothers they call me Dimp, and the rest called me Dolly, but that is all it was.
Mary: Well tell us about growing up in the Pines. We heard about chores and stuff, what kinds of things did you do for fun as a child?
Dolly: As a child they said I was spoiled. I didn't have much to do because with seven girls and one boy in my household now my chore was to go get the water, we didn't have running water and to make sure the wood was brought in the house, and wash the dishes and make sure each one of us had a night to clear the table and wash the dishes, you know that's just about it for me. I didn't have to wash, I didn't have to cook, I didn't have to do any cleaning.
Dolly: Because by the time it got down to me, look everything was done. I made sure that the water was there for washing me and my other sibling the one next to me. Water was there for washing and water was there for cooking and we had a rain barrel also and we tried to catch as much rain as we could so that would whiten the clothes so much better so we had to go to Slaughter's springs.
Mary: Now I have heard about this place before and it wasn't a place that you would go to slaughter pigs, but there was a family named Slaughter.
Dolly: Yes there was a family named Slaughter they owned the land that's the reason they named it Slaughter's because the land belonged to them.
Mary: Now can you tell us generally where that was?
Dolly: If you go you have to go now you have to go to Holly Road to Collins Street. to the very end of Collins Street and you'll will see a new little house build there but you have to make a left there and go about 20 feet and look to your right. It might be on somebody else's property now I haven't been over there for a while, it might be on somebody else's property now but that's where it was. I had to walk from here over here where the soccer field here
Mary: That's quite a distance.
Dolly: down the hill and it was rolling hills you know
Mary: Yeah, did you carry buckets or what?
Dolly: and we got so the tubs were too heavy for my sister and myself to carry, well what we did was carry the five gallon buckets
Dolly: up the hill almost to the top of the hill and pour the water in the tub so we wouldn't have the real long distance to carry the water.
Mary: So you carried a smaller pail to fill a bigger one.
Dolly: It would be a tub sometimes as big as this table. But it was easier for us to get water to the house so we could heat it and let them wash. My two oldest sisters did the washing; the two next sisters did the ironing.
Mary: It was all organized.
Dolly: It was - I mean my mom made sure we had everything organized. And she didn't like, the house couldn't be jumbled up and junky. It had to be clean and neat. Everybody knew what they had to do.
Mary: Did you have electricity so did you have a washing machine?
Dolly: No we had the board we had a tub. We didn't have a washing machine. Not until my brother went into the service; he was in the Second World War. and that bothered me because they had said at that time they weren't going to take families that had one son. My mother had one son so they took him away. And I'm young but I'm angry with the world because my brother had to go to the service and they had said not to you know. Well anyway he went into the service and he came home after he was in boot training and we never saw him anymore until after the War ended. And mom was upset by that because they didn't let him come home. He went down to Petersburg and to Seattle, Washington and then over to New Guinea and Japan and all those places over there and we never saw him and we didn't hear from him for a long time and we didn't know where he was. He finally wrote a letter home and he told my mom I'm sending you money home to keep for me but I want you to take most of it and put electricity in the house. So, we got electricity during the war but we never had it before that we had kerosene lamps. That's another thing we had to do wash the chimneys
Mary: They get smoky don't they?
Dolly: Yes they get smoky.
Mary: So no electricity; so that meant you had an ice box.
Dolly: Yes we had an ice box.
Mary: So where did the ice come from?
Dolly: It was a plant down in Mount Pleasant.
Mary: So that's Bailey's Crossroads.
Dolly: It was between Bailey's Crossroad and Mount Pleasant.
Mary: Uh hum.
Dolly: You know like where the waterfall down where the dam is down there by Lake Barcroft.
Dolly: Well they had an icehouse down there. I think there's a house there now where a judge or somebody lives in it. Right down there where the icehouse use to be. Well my dad and them use to work for Shreve. Shreve kept ice and coal and stuff like that; they use to haul it for them. We use to get the ice there and when dad started working for Brown Hardware.
Mary: Brown Hardware yes.
Dolly: Ah when we use to go down to Bailey's crossroads Mount Pleasant and pick the ice. You would pick the top up off the box and put it down in there.
Mary: How long would it last? How long would a chunk of ice last would it last a week or?
Dolly: No it wouldn't last a week - not with that many children.
Mary: Opening the icebox - hum.
Dolly: No we probably had to get the ice two or three times a week.
Mary: Wow, ok. So no electricity, no running water, ice box and so the outhouse was behind the house?
Dolly: Outhouse - we had a special place that we would put the outhouse, nowhere near any water because you had to feed the animals.
Mary: Right, right.
Dolly: You know there are special areas that they put outhouses. And they would clean them out instead of moving um.
Mary: Wow, okay.
Dolly: And some of - lets see, my mothers sister lived next door to her and she lived here (pointing on table to arrangement of homes) and Aileen's house there and my grandfather's house was here. And you know we all lived around each other but they made sure that nobody's outhouse was in the wrong place.
Dolly: And some of them they would put cement floors and they would clean um just like you would clean your house.
Mary: Or clean a bathroom today.
Dolly: Yeah some of um had curtains in their bathroom, you know I mean in the outhouses.
Dolly: And you know it was so funny because our cousin would sometimes come to ours because he didn't want to go to his; we had a cement floor. (Mary and Dolly laughing and talking at the same time.)
Mary: They didn't want to clean theirs out.
Dolly: That's what they said.
Mary: Well now tell me what did you do for fun, I mean after and stuff.
Dolly: Well I am a music person, I love music and my mom was - my uncle use to call her an accomplished musician. Now my mom took music lessons from a professor Granderson who was one of the professors over near Howard University, I don't know whether he was on staff there or what but he would come out here and teach her.
Mary: Do you know how to spell that professor
Mary: Oh all right.
Dolly: And he would come out here and teach her. He taught her so many lessons her father bought her a square Grand Piano.
Mary: Oh, wow.
Dolly: And she that's how my mother died she just died. But getting to me my mom played if she was overly tired or worried about something I could tell cause she would go to the Piano and she would
Mary: It was relaxing.
Dolly: And I was right there I was right beside her so consequently at five years old I was playing the piano.
Dolly: I mean I didn't take the music she did, but I could hear every chord that she was making and I could go there. My fingers couldn't reach them at one time. I could take what I heard even and I didn't know I had a hearing problem; I'll tell you about that in a little while. I could take every chord she made on the piano and when she got up I would ask her about it and she would show me, she would take the time. If you were interested in something she would definitely take the time to show you or teach you. She was well learned so I have to give her credit that she was a wise woman and I have to give her credit for a lot of what's happening to me and the rest of my family. It could have come from her mother or it could have come from her father, I don't know but I know she was a person I can't describe just the things that she could do. But anyway, she played all the time and that is how I learned to play and love music. She was playing this piece called "My Mother Sent Me To School One Day" maybe you all heard it but I learned how to play that because I could cross my hands over (Mary giggles) and then another one she was playing it would be the "Baby's Prayer", and your fingers would go kind of fast and I'm excited. (Both Mary and Dolly giggle.)
Mary: You want to play that one.
Dolly: (laughing) As I got older and I could go to the movies, of course we could not go to the movies theatres out here so we would go to the theatres up on U Street and Hazel Scott, I don't know if you know anything about her but Hazel Scott was a black pianist who married a Senator, any way she was playing in this movie, I can't remember what movie it was and I had to go see her because I knew she was playing, so here I go watching her fingers on the screen and come back home and tried to imitate her. (Giggles)
Mary: Now let me see, you said you couldn't go to the movies out here because they were segregated.
Mary: Segregated, so when you went downtown did you take buses or how did you get downtown?
Dolly: We walked from here to where National Cemetery is on Lee Highway okay.
Mary: Oh yes, that is quite a walk.
Dolly: Arnold had a bus line; the Arnold bus line would run about he would run in Merrifield maybe twice a day but that's first thing in the morning when the people would be going to work and when they think they would be coming back home. But otherwise we had to walk from down here in the Pines we call it over to Lee Highway down to National Cemetery to catch the bus. So we'd catch the bus there and there was a little store or something right there more like a restaurant but they would let you stand over here because of who you were Both talking But you couldn't stand there very long anyway you would catch that bus and it would take you to 9th and E northwest. So we would walk, because we thought, you know being out here we didn't know about D.C. We would walk from 9th and E over to U Street to the theaters to the Lincoln Republic, (not around right now) or we'd go up to 7th Street to the Howard Theater, we could go over there.
Mary: Okay. And when you rode the Arnold bus was that in the back?
Mary: They made you sit in the back.
Dolly: Yes they made us sit in the back.
Mary: Do you have any other memories you want to share with us about the segregation or anything like that?
Dolly: Well I have two older sisters, not the oldest sister the middle sisters, I would say, that use to work downtown and they would ride the bus; but you know if the bus was getting crowded and the blacks were sitting even in the back if it was crowded they would make you get up and let a white person sit down. So one day my older sister, who lives in Ohio right now, she and another sister had been working all day and been on their feet all day, and at that time all we did was walk, they got on the bus and there was two seats or three seats in the front and went up there and sat down and the bus driver told her to get up.
Mary: That would be in the white section then?
Dolly: She said I'm not getting up, and that was before Rosa Parks.
Mary: Before Rosa Parks - okay.
Dolly: And he said I can't go unless you get up, go sit in the back. But there were whites sitting in the seats where the blacks sat. There wasn't many so she said if you let them get up then I will go back there and sit down, but I am tired just like they are (as long as they didn't take her out and lynch her, but they didn't) finally one person said, I'll move up front but they moved up front and the other white person stayed and so she said I'm not moving that is what happened and they didn't bother her and let her off in Merrifield.
Mary: Okay, well that is a sad story though to think that kind of thing existed.
Dolly: We had a lot of, even walking to elementary school there was a family, none of them living here now most of them have just about died out; the Tobin's that is who that road is named after, the Tobin Family. Well this fellow named Len Tobin the father and grandfather were the only people that I know had a Model A car.
Mary: A Ford right?
Dolly: A Ford, and it was convertible and we would be walking to or from school and if he was on the road at that time he would try to run us I mean try to kill us off the road he would try to run us off the road on Gallows Road. We would be running, right now you see a straight Gallows Road but it was hills, it was ditches, it was a lot of woods. And he would try to run us either in the ditch or he'd get so close to you up against a bike that you would be afraid, you know afraid to walk the road. And he'd laugh about it he thought it was good, I mean to see a little black kid get killed was nothing wrong. Anyway, we were coming to my grandfather's who was a Spanish American War Vet and he did not take anything off of anybody. I mean he was not a violent man, don't get me wrong, but if you messed with his family then he would confront you; he would not say I am not going to let my kids walk there anymore because you tried to run over them and the road don't belong to you anyway. What he'd tell them was the road don't belong to them I want somebody to tell me my grandchildren can't walk on that road, and if you don't leave them alone I will mess with you. And he'd say I think that I have respect enough for you and the white families around here not to mess with your property or mess with your people and you can't mess with mine. And if we told my grandfather he would definitely go to that person and tell them. And it got so I think they respected him because he was a soldier and they didn't know what he was going to do for um.
Mary: So did that work?
Dolly: It did work.
Dolly: But we did have a family that lived here on the corner by the light, the Seals family. We use to be walking to school and they road a bus. We had to walk, we had to walk to Merrifield and they rode a bus over to Annandale.
Mary: You were going to Merrifield Elementary?
Dolly: Elementary school that was the only school around here we could go to and we walked those two miles, three miles or whatever it was to the one room school.
Mary: And that's one way walking.
Dolly: One way yeah. And when you come back - well what we had to do because we couldn't' get the mail here we would get out of school and go to the post office which was in Vincent's Store and get the mail and bring it back home that was the only way we could get mail, we would get it because when my father got off from Brown's Hardware it was closed and you couldn't get in there. One that had the boxes with the locks on they were for the whites, we could not get our mail other than the Post Master giving you - calling your name. I mean he had to know who you were. You'd tell him whose mail you'd want and he would give it to you.
Mary: Now you said you couldn't get mail here, is that because they wouldn't deliver it here?
Dolly: They didn't deliver mail here.
Mary: They didn't deliver mail here so you had to pick it up at Vincent's store is right at Merrifield. Right near where the Office Depot is today, or where?
Dolly: Across the street, right there by the gas station.
Mary: So you would stop on the way home from school to pick up the mail.
Dolly: Yes, you see our school was up there were the Fairfield Hotel, is it the Fairfield, the hotel right on Porter Road.
Dolly: Fairview or whatever, no, no right behind the Silver Diner.
Mary: Oh, okay alright.
Dolly: Our school was in that area.
Dolly: It was a path going through right behind Office Depot and all and we could go down to Gallows Road again and then cross over to go to the store.
Dolly: So we'd go pass the lures.
Mary: So you said the white people had boxes so they could go with a key and open them?
Dolly: They could open them they had a combination.
Mary: But that wasn't available for blacks.
Mary: So oh (inflection in voice sounds disgust).
Dolly: So we had to go to the window and the Post Master was Mrs. Vincent at the time and if she knew you she would give you the mail, if she didn't know you, you wouldn't get it. Which made sense but you know it got so they had to know us because my mother was going to send me down to the post office to get our mail and ah she would give it to you.
Mary: Wow, well tell me about going to school at Merrifield that was a one-room schoolhouse you said?
Dolly: I went to a one-room schoolhouse for like three years and it was seven grades.
Mary: Right, seven grades there okay.
Dolly: And I had a young teacher which I adored. And like I told you I easily caught on. I liked to read, arithmetic was always my fun thing you know, and so she was always having me to do things. To me my school life was great it was fun but I didn't realize what it was really like you know. And there wasn't nothing but black kids there, I knew everybody we all went to church together, we all went to school together, we went to Sunday School together so it was just like going and meeting a whole lot of friends and having a good time because the school wasn't hard for me at that time, you know it wasn't hard school work wasn't. And I would help everybody. I'd go around and help everybody read.
Mary: That's wonderful. Did you use your music in school at all?
Dolly: Yeah I did.
Mary: Did you have pageants or anything like that?
Dolly: We always had plays, now when like I said I was here for three or four years but when they build a two room school it's down there where, ah let me see where is it, the road went between where the lockers are and McDonalds.
Dolly: It was in between McDonalds and the lockers. So we would go down the hill to the two-room school, and more room we never had running water, we never had
Mary: Bathrooms or anything.
Dolly: Or anything like that; in that school we would have plays and things but when we were up in the little school we had plays at the church.
Mary: Oh okay, because it was right next-door almost.
Dolly: They worked together I mean they really worked together.
Mary: Now did the two-room school replace the one room school? Or was it just an addition?
Dolly: It was an addition because there were people coming to Merrifield from Dunn Loring
Dolly: We use to call it East Woodford at the time.
Mary: You use to call it what?
Dolly: East Woodford.
Mary: East Woodford.
Dolly: East Woodford.
Mary: East Woodford, okay all right
Dolly: Anyway they use to come over to our school all up and down Lee Highway all the way down to the cemetery.
Mary: Right, now they walked too?
Dolly: They walked too
Mary: So no bus transportation?
Dolly: No bus transportation for any of us. We were all piling up in that little school and do you know where that piano house is? That was used as a school.
Mary: Oh that two story frame house? It is a piano store now
Dolly: That is what is left of the Odd Fellows Hall for Black people.
Mary: It was an Odd Fellows Hall but it was also used as a school or
Dolly: We use it as a school
Dolly: because we didn't have
Mary: And that was still grades 1 through 7 or
Dolly: Now that is when they began to split because the little school was getting to get too crowded
Mary: Oh, okay
Dolly: And people in the neighborhood, Mr. Tenner and Mr. Somerson and all kept pressing Fairfax county to build us a school so they finally, I guess they bought property from the Blands I am not sure of the name so I wouldn't say that. They bought property down in that little valley I was telling you about, down near I think Yorktown have apartments in that area.
Mary: Near the Yorktown shopping Center?
Dolly: It's ah, I mean you can get to it I was telling you from McDonalds and the storage place in between the
Mary: Right, right, okay.
Dolly: And you could go down the hill to it and you couldn't go thru the other way because it was the other people's property, Miss Bland's and Mr. Tenner's all them had property back there and they had a garden and stuff and you couldn't walk through there. But, we walked through McDonalds in that area and we would go down the hill to the school where we had plays. You know they had folding doors and we would open it up and our families would come. We had all kind of plays.
Mary: You mean pageants or
Dolly: Pageants and there was one teacher who was real good at gymnastics and she had those kids doing now I did a little bit of playing but I didn't do….
Mary: Tumbling and stuff.
Dolly: I didn't do the tumbling. Hoop drills they had decorated and did jumping through it. They did that and they carried them all around from school to school, they were so good.
Dolly: Because everybody wanted to see them.
Dolly: And they called it the Hoop Drills or something like that. They would have plays otherwise at the church. I told you a minute ago the two of them worked closely together.
Mary: Now was the Odd Fellows Hall for African Americans?
Dolly: It was theirs.
Mary: And what about Liberty Lodge?
Dolly: Liberty Lodge was the one that one was built before the Odd Fellows Hall.
Mary: Okay but it was a similar type of organization?
Dolly: Yes a similar type but I think the Liberty Lodge was more caring about family and community
Mary: Helping them affairs
Dolly: Yeah, you know Odd Fellows; I don't know exactly what they did.
Mary: More of a fun type place probably.
Dolly: Yeah, I think so.
Mary: Yeah, yeah.
Dolly: I think so but the Liberty Lodge was for helping people. I don't know who organized it but I do know that Joseph Collins, William Seniors son was the one who he was the Grand Marshall at Liberty Lodge. And then he was the one that I think would go back to Mr. Bradley that gave the church back then the Merrifield Church their property to build the church on. He was the one who said you can build a church but there is a stipulation here - I don't want no cemetery on my properties or the church property because all churches are over running now, and Second Baptist, with graves and I don't want that on my property. So you can build a church here the First Baptist of Merrifield, but leave the cemetery out. So then Joseph Collins who was the Grand Marshall of the Liberty Lodge got their committee and said look we've got a lot of people here who can't afford to just buy into cemeteries around so we are going to have to do something for our community. So he got in touch with Mr. Slaughter who owned the property
Mary: Slaughter, Mr. Slaughter.
Dolly: You know what I'm saying he had two acres that he would let them buy from him to you know put the cemetery over there. And he said that he didn't mind cause that was on the back portion of his property and there wasn't nobody over there anyway.
Mary: So that is the Sons and Daughters of Liberty Cemetery.
Dolly: Yes, that's the one.
Mary: Alright, that's fascinating.
Dolly: And it was Joseph Collins who initiated it and they made a big thing out of it after they got the property they went over there and cleared it off and every 30th of May they would clear off the graves and you know like have a picnic while they were doing it. I mean everybody, all families would come help.
Dolly: And a lot of poor families they were put in there with the Lodge paying for it.
Dolly: And so what the families did in turn was help to clean it up; they kept it going.
Mary: I see.
Dolly: And that was one thing when the property actually I still say taken away from them because they
Mary: They condemned it is what the County says
Mary: on their website.
Dolly: That's when it went down here so we couldn't go on it.
Dolly: And he kept promising they were going to do that - 25 years later, they still haven't done anything.
Dolly: And people have gone over there messing with the grandmothers headstones, everything was such a mess. But finally when Aileen's son he called me and asking me about the cemetery, - but my daughter use to work for WIC and she sent a reporter out here one day to try and find out what was going on with our cemetery. And was the county ever going to do it. Well it was on television and I gave Hareem the tape and he in turn went to Fairfax County School Board and was talking about it again and they had that tape too but anyway it was a while before we could get it down to really do what they said they were going to do.
Mary: Originally they condemned it to build a school and then they didn't build the school there and so then the property fell to you know
Dolly: But then my uncle came there
Dolly: When they came with their threats and that's what they did they came with their threats, if you don't and there wasn't anything wrong with the houses over there. If you don't sell the property to us we are going to condemn it. So Mom said why? My father gave me this property for a lifetime and wanted us to continue and give it down to the family, all this was empty there wasn't nothing anywhere around. And she said the only thing I can see is your trying to get rid of the black folks here in Fairfax County. But they didn't want to hear that but anyway she said it. When they finally got the property they said we need a school right away because integration - they are pressuring us to build a school another school. They already had Luther Jackson but why are you pressuring us for this now? We need a school in this area, blah, blah, blah. But anyway it didn't materialize.
Mary: Right, and today it's a park. And the cemetery is in the middle of the park.
Dolly: It is on the backside of it.
Mary: Well it's on the side of it.
Dolly: But you see when they got the property they promised my mother and Guy and all of the rest of um "we will take care of the cemetery". And the first thing that was asked is how are we going to get back there, we'll take care of it, we'll take care of it. But they didn't do it and after it got to be such a mess there was so much pressure put back on them from the television and my daughter and Hareem and whatever. Then they did it. But they still didn't do what they were supposed to do, just some of it.
Mary: Yeah, so there's now trustees who have keys to the gate, cause I've been over there and you can't just walk in to the cemetery.
Dolly: Well you could at one point you could but then it was vandalized again. So, we went back to the school board to tell them they had to do something.
Dolly: You have got to do something and if you don't do it let's put it that way you are going to have to do it the way it was originally done. Now if you to to the springs I was telling you about well my uncle Joe the one who got the property to build the cemetery in the first place he had a house there. And if you are going down on the right side of his house was a driveway and that was the way that he let everybody go up the hill to that cemetery. And see that was the right-of-way; and the people down there that had the house built on the right know that is really their driveway is really the right-of-way to the cemetery.
Mary: Oh, what are you talking about the hospital's driveway, Fairfax Hospital?
Dolly: No, right over here on Holly Road.
Mary: Oh, on Holly Road, okay I see what you're saying. Alright.
Dolly: Holly Road and College Street.
Mary: Okay, right.
Dolly: Okay, down in that section where Slaughter Spring is and all that.
Mary: Alright, so that would come around to what one considers the back of the cemetery today.
Mary: Okay, alright and now you're saying that was the original entrance.
Dolly: Yeah. Joseph Collins house was right here, this is Bountywood Drive, this is Collins Street.
Dolly: Okay right on this side of Collins Street the cemetery is over here. You would have to come around his house and go up the hill to the cemetery.
Dolly: The person who has the house, this house has been torn down to build one closer to the road
Dolly: But this driveway is still, this is still the cemetery.
Dolly: I not a trustee over there, my son asked them that question if you like to give up the right of way through the fields, the gardens and all this stuff we want this one.
Mary: Oh, okay.
Dolly: This cost too much money so they don't want to use this one; they want to use this one over here at the garden plot.
Mary: Yeah, okay.
Dolly: And we've gone through this sometimes and then the people over here that is using the property that we had didn't want anyone cause it is private property and you can't go on it. I mean what kind of stuff is this; we can't hardly go back there.
Mary: Right, they really boxed it off. Now there's no homes left from the Pines are there? They are all gone, that's what I was wondering.
Dolly: There is only one house over there and it belongs to Miss Pauline Grey's. She is a descendant from William, Senior too; her mother was - William Senior was her mother's grandfather.
Dolly: And she still lives over there.
Mary: And what street does she live on?
Dolly: It was my aunt's property Martha Collins.
Mary: And so there is one house left from the Pines.
Dolly: It is not an original house.
Mary: Oh, okay.
Dolly: She tore that house down and they build a new house.
Mary: Yeah. Tell me about going to Manassas Industrial School.
Dolly: Whew, Do I have too? Seriously, I thought you know, you don't know any better so you just do - right. And I thought other than freezing my butt off to go over there; from walking from here to Vincent's store.
Mary: Okay, getting on Lee Highway and Gallows Road.
Dolly: Yeah, yeah we got on the bus there. And then you'd go to Dun Loring, you'd pick up a few, you'd go to Cedar Lane and pick up a few go to Vienna, I mean McLean pick up a few then go to Vienna come back out on Rt. 123 and go up Lee Highway, I mean 50, 50 to Centerville. You go up 29 to 234 is it 234?
Mary: 234 yeah. That takes you into Manassas. How long a bus ride was that one way?
Dolly: It was like 30 miles one way or something but anyway I knew it was too long.
Mary: I mean are we talking an hour on the bus?
Dolly: No we'd catch the bus at 7 and we'd get up there at exactly 9 o'clock.
Mary: 2 hours.
Dolly: Because you have to pick up all these kids you know. And each kid had to walk
Mary: two miles to get to the bus
Dolly: I walked 3 miles and a lot of kids walked further than I did to get to a bus in order to get on a bus to go to and it is a shame really a shame I mean I think about it. The first bus you would sit this way and you were jammed and hitting each other's knees. The second bus wasn't that good cause I was
Mary: So the first bus was sort of like bench seating and you were facing each other is that what you were saying?
Mary: And your knees were jamming each other.
Mary: Okay, Then the next bus was the regular type of seating but it was very crowded.
Dolly: Yeah crowded - we were standing or three on a seat and there was only one bus, to pick up everybody. We started and Reverend Sherman Phillips was driving when I was there and he picked up kids in Falls Church and he might have 20 kids in Falls Church.
Mary: What was his name again?
Dolly: Sherman Phillips.
Mary: Sherman Phillips okay.
Dolly: He would pick up ah he was a minister, the Reverend Sherman Phillips, he'd pick up Falls church he'd come up here and pick up Merrifield. Now they did get so they let him pick up one stop on Lee Highway for all the kids down by the cemetery.
Mary: Ah hum.
Dolly: They did let him pick up there and if they get too unruly then they would make them walk all the way to Merrifield. And everybody they picked up at that one Gallows Road and Lee Highway.
Mary: Now this was because Fairfax County had no high school for African Americans.
Mary: So anybody who wanted to go to school beyond the seventh grade had to go to Manassas Industrial School or either into Washington, D.C.
Dolly: Into Washington and that was another problem because a lot of these people out here they were teachers - taught in the District and if they saw your face, one of them was a truant officer - he would have to report it or lose his job. So if you weren't living in the District, and a lot of them tried to get somebody else's address.
Mary: Oh, I see what you're saying.
Dolly: And go over into the District everyday because there were a few people who lived in the District that would take these kids over there.
Mary: I see.
Dolly: A lot of them going to Frank Junior High School. There's a couple of people who worked in Georgetown so, you know, they were able do this. Some of them went to Armstrong. They had people who lived in the District so they could give their address and these people that lived out here worked in the District and they took them over there.
Mary: Oh, okay. But that wasn't legal
Dolly: That wasn't legal. It was not legal and if you were caught they would put you out. And probably fine the parents but you either did or didn't and you didn't get an education.
Mary: So what was education like at Manassas Industrial School?
Dolly: They did their best, I mean; I think it was very good for what we had to work with. We always had second grade everything; I mean second hand things, never anything new. Even when they finally put typewriters in there so you could take clerical courses it was used, everything was used. We never had anything new. And the Reverend Bonds, who was the Principal at that time, tried his best and he did a very good job looking back; he did a very good job trying to get the best for us but the thing was Fairfax County paid Prince William County for us going there. But Prince William County had to look after its' children. And Faquier County would pay, cause there wasn't any schools there for them either, pay Prince William County. Cause this school started out being a private school, you know.
Dolly: But they had to pay these people to let their kids to come to their school. Okay, we were second class, although the Principal I was telling you about tried to treat all of us alike. But if you wanted to take a course, like if I wanted to take French if it was available that's because Prince William had first choice.
Mary: Oh, I see so Prince William because the school is in Prince William had first choice because it was in Prince William.
Dolly: It's their school I mean.
Mary: Right. Dolly: I mean I didn't understand all of this until I got older but to me that was the prettiest campus although it had a lot of shortcomings. It was beautiful up there in the spring of the year when they always had outdoor exercises or outdoor graduation or just something going outside all the time because the campus was gorgeous. The school it needed work and we really didn't have what we call an auditorium. Up in the attic all the way across, they made that the auditorium and we would go there everyday have prayer, and a little devotional service and sing hymns. We'd have prayer and then we would disperse and go to our classes. Classes was on the first and second floor but they had the offices, the library, and the cafeteria which we never could use because they had to use it for study hall.
Mary: So what did you bring your lunch?
Dolly: You'd bring your lunch or starve.
Mary: Oh my goodness.
Dolly: Anyway they had dormitories and we had kids from all over. We had people from Jamaica, New York, Pennsylvania you know all over, they stayed there on the campus.
Mary: Well some kids I heard that were from Virginia it was just too far for them to go home at night.
Dolly: Yes, Front Royal.
Mary: Yeah, so they would stay like Monday through Friday there?
Dolly: They would stay there.
Mary: And go home on weekends.
Dolly: Sometimes they would allow you to go home but just like when you are in college only so many times a year no matter how close you were.
Mary: Yeah, so you met people from all over.
Dolly: Oh, it was exciting to me. I could relate to anybody. I liked it but the only thing I didn't like, I wanted to get into clerical classes but it was jammed with people who had first choice and I couldn't get in there. And one year I sat in the study hall and I told momma I couldn't to this any longer; like four periods.
Mary: Because you couldn't get the classes you wanted.
Dolly: I couldn't get the classes.
Mary: Oh my goodness, well.
Dolly: So all I did was, Reverend Bond's wife ran the library and she was so nice I would just go get whatever I could to study.
Mary: Just picked up books and started
Mary: On your own.
Dolly: And it wasn't only me; I mean it was a lot of Fairfax County kids that had to sit through it.
Dolly: They might be nice enough to give you one or two Fairfax County kids in the school. But what angered me in later years is why did Fairfax County let this happen! You know I mean they didn't care we were black.
Dolly: I mean they didn't care. They'd get up half the time for society's sake. The bathroom facilities was just like me going to the outhouse. Prince William County didn't keep em up. We didn't have any place to put your coats. We didn't have no lockers; they had a place under the steps with hooks and I put my coat under there one day and when I came back it was pulled to shreds. I don't know who did it but somebody cut my coat.
Dolly: Later Reverend Bonds told me who it was and asked me to go to the chapel, the auditorium chapel, go to the chapel and pick out any kid that ever messed with us. So I was Secretary to the Student Council at the time and said I can't do this because I know all these kids are going to jump me when I go home and get off the bus.
Mary: Yeah right.
Dolly: But he said no they won't let me handle it; so I did, and I found out the people that did that they was jealous of us. I mean they always thought that the Lee girls had more than they did and we did have a lot more than they did. I mean but we didn't flaunt it we were just natural and it was just something we grew up with. My grandfather the one who said if you have a dollar, save a quarter and we knew how to handle a little bit of money we made by doing a little bit of day work or doing a little bit of stuff like that. It's just we didn't flaunt this stuff but they were jealous of us so I mean if they could mess up our clothes they could do this to us, they would do it.
Dolly: So I told him who it was who I thought it was and he found out who they were and he expelled a whole bunch. I won Miss Manassas that year.
Mary: Miss Manassas - Wow - fantastic.
Dolly: Yeah, you know they just didn't like that.
Dolly: They didn't like that at all.
Mary: They were jealous.
Dolly: I found out that's what it was but you know there was enough places to put everything. If you go I mean in the wintertime you'd keep your coat on you didn't have to hang your coat up because it was cold.
Mary: The heat wasn't very good?
Dolly: No, it wasn't.
Dolly: We sat in class cold.
Mary: So you carried your books and everything with you all day.
Dolly: All the time.
Mary: Your lunch bag or whatever - yeah.
Dolly: If you didn't you might not find them the next time.
Mary: You didn't have any of these big back packs these kids carry now.
Dolly: No we didn't this; we carried everything in our arms.
Mary: Right in your arms wow. Do you remember emancipation day?
Dolly: An how did we celebrate?
Mary: Yeah, yeah.
Dolly: Ah, we were free so it wasn't really a freedom thing. From elementary school on I have to give our teacher credit, I loved this teacher today and if she was living I'd just tell her what I really think, her name was Agnes Coleman and she was the type person that believed that every person should know the truth. And she was an Indian, and she told me, part Indian.
Mary: You're talking about Native American Indian?
Dolly: Native American Indian, yeah, and she was saying that her father was born deaf but she could communicate with him and she taught him a lot of things. So she believed, within herself, I'm going to school I'm going to be what I want to be and I am going to teach the whole world. So she wanted all of us to know what happened back there in slavery back here you know
Dolly: in this area. So, she would teach us, now emancipation we knew about it but she didn't say we are not free, you thought about this yourself and said although it's there we're not free, because we still can't do the same things that you can do.
Mary: Right, right.
Dolly: Ah the way we celebrated was celebrating the ones that have come through it and learned more about how they did it. Like Frederick Douglas and George Washington Carver and what did they do to get to this point that we can be where we are right now.
Dolly: That's about the extent.
Mary: Yeah. That's marvelous that she taught you that.
Dolly: And a lot of schools in Fairfax County didn't have it, I don't know if they allowed her to do it
Mary: Or she did it on her own.
Dolly: I believe she did it on her own because I have talked to several kids that I went to school with right here in Fairfax County and they didn't have that and they didn't even know who it was, you know like people like Tubman or Carver.
Dolly: We had all of these and she had I don't know what it was that she had, I was telling my husband the other day, I don't know what this was that she had that it looked like jelly and she would write or print and put something on it, I'm too little to remember all the details, then she put this paper on it and wrote all over it.
Mary: Oh, some kind of a copy system.
Dolly: And she made a copy, it was like a copy machine.
Mary: Well it's not a mimeograph machine.
Dolly: Whatever it was, it was about as long as a flat pan.
Mary: And she would make copies.
Dolly: ah huh and she would make a copy of whatever because we did not have enough books to go around. She would do it for math and she would do it for most all our studies.
Mary: I would like to know what that is I've never seen. I am familiar with the mimeograph machine which came before the Xerox but I've never heard of that.
Dolly: It looked like clear brown jelly type of stuff, mold type stuff and I can't really, I can try to tell him, my husband what it was but I said I just don't know what it was but I can remember her making copies especially when we were having plays. She did some beautiful plays, she would give us all our parts from doing what she did.
Mary: And her name was Agnes Coleman.
Dolly: Agnes Coleman.
Mary: And was she married?
Dolly: Yes, she was married.
Mary: Okay, because back in the way olden days they wouldn't let teachers be married.
Dolly: I know, in fact she was married twice; her husband Shamus died and then she married this guy named Mr. Coleman. I know they wouldn't let them get married we had another teacher who wasn't married at that time they weren't letting teachers get married, I remember that.
Mary: One thing we were talking about when you were growing up, did you all have telephones?
Mary: No telephones. So if you had to call.
Dolly: I told you we had a community center right.
Mary: Okay, so everybody was there.
Dolly: We haven't been able to figure this out yet. My sisters and all I lost two sisters but all of the rest of the sisters got together and we were talking and we'd say now how come if you did something in Merrifield when you got home you didn't have a telephone but mom knew about it dad knew about it and if it they, I mean it wasn't child abuse.
Mary: Right, right, right.
Dolly: The people up there if you did something wrong you would get punished up there.
Mary: At school or wherever?
Dolly: And when you got home, although there was no telephone no communications it was there at home. And you would get the same thing when you got home.
Mary: Double whip it or whatever.
Dolly: Yeah, right. How did everybody know?
Mary: In some way they got across - oh my goodness. What is your most favorite memory of growing up if you had to, it's a hard question but?
Dolly: It's not hard I just enjoyed my family growing up and I enjoyed the community because, like you asked me a few minutes ago about games. We made up our games. I mean we were I mean we were over there the house that my grandfather gave my mom, it had a bunch of oak trees in the front yard and it was always shady. And part of the front yard was grass the other part was nothing but dirt and acorns okay. And I tell you when I grew up I didn't ever want to see a bare yard anymore because my mother would make me clean it and sweep it up the acorns.
Mary: Oh, sweep the dirt.
Dolly: We had to sweep the dirt clean.
Mary: Oh my goodness.
Dolly: All the acorns that would drop had to be swept up. We had grass from like this is the whole front yard, while this part was dirt and acorns from the trees.
Dolly: And this part was grass all the way around the back of the house was grass. But make sure the front of your house the yard, everything got to be clean. Actually I said I never would sweep up dirt anymore in my life but, you know it was fun because that part of the yard we were able to dig a hole but you had to cover it up, shoot marbles.
Dolly: Okay and we were able to take the acorns and make necklaces, make earrings and all this stuff from that.
Mary: Do you tie them together on a string.
Dolly: Yeah, we would tie them together on a string and we would even shellac them; my dad would bring us stuff to work with.
Mary: You would shellac them.
Dolly: Oh we were doing that. We would take the orange crates and make dollhouses, we had a shed they were not using for a garage anymore, dad let us use it like a playhouse and my next to oldest sister use to love to make doll clothes and fix stuff like that. So each one of us had a dollhouse out there in that shed.
Mary: Nice, and you each knew which one was yours right?
Dolly: Oh yeah, we also knew whose was whose.
Dolly: But we knew my oldest sister was the boss.
Mary: That always tends to be doesn't it? You were the baby of the family.
Dolly: Right. In the spring of the year she would make the chairs and things out of cotton spools and stuff like that she had tables made and she helped make it for every house. I don't know what we used for pots but anyway she had her stove she had her pots. And she would say now go down in that field on grand pap's place and you'll find these little yellow things that look just like bananas. I want you to go down there and get those for me. So we would go down there and get that and bring that up. And then you go down here and you get this and then she would tell us to go here or there and get this or that so it looked like we all had food in our dollhouses,
Mary: So this is how your dollhouse had food that looked like.
Dolly: Yeah it looked like fruit and veggies. We go get up pick um out and go and put um on. She'd make the curtains you know for the windows.
Dolly: But, my father was the first black that ever worked behind a counter in like Falls Church Hardware store when he was - it was Hardware and Grocery Store when he first started working there.
Mary: That's the Brown Hardware store?
Dolly: Brown Hardware Store.
Mary: And that's at Lee Highway and
Dolly: Broad Street.
Mary: Oh, Broad Street and Lee Highway.
Dolly: Yes. But anyway, he was the first one that was you know he was the first black to first he delivered. He did all, he'd take all the orders; he could answer the telephone and he could take all the orders. He could fill the orders, he could take them wherever; cause he would have to deliver them to as far as Great Falls and he'd have to do it to take them to Leesburg, depends on where Arthur Godfrey wanted it. He would fill his orders; sometimes Arthur Godfrey going to work in the District he would come to the store and place his order and when he came back he would pick it up. But some days he said I won't be back until late and Mr. Lee can you take it? So Daddy would take it.
Mary: Now we have to explain to the people who Arthur Godfrey is, I remember Arthur Godfrey was a radio performer first and then he went on to television.
Dolly: Yeah he lived in Leesburg.
Dolly: And he well first he would drive into the District and then when he went to New York he started flying.
Dolly: That goes back aways. But anyway, dad use to, you know, do that with the groceries; but in later years Mr. Brown put him behind the counter he was, you know, waiting on people.
Dolly: And then Mr. Brown did away with the groceries and daddy was still working behind the counter and he trained Hughes, the one that's down there right now.
Mary: Oh, really.
Dolly: James Hughes to do was he was doing right now.
Dolly: And Daddy was there till I got married in 1955. He was there until 55.
Dolly: And the day I got married daddy said Dolly you can't move and I said why, and he said because Hugh and them are cutting down. He said I think he's listening to Tom Dixon now and they figure I am not needed anymore I'm old.
Dolly: And so I have to go and I don't have a job right now. Daddy was about 70 something.
Mary: And he was still working.
Dolly: So anyway he said if you don't mind and your husband Kenneth doesn't mind will you please stay here. You see I don't want mom to think that we can't get along with me not working. Anyway so he said you got to live with me. We talked it over and we stayed with them for a while. For one thing our house burnt down in 1948 and I helped daddy to start building a new house. The first thing when we burned down, my grandfather went to Tremont Garden Building Supply and said this is what I want you to do, but my grandfather died before that could materialize but they did send the cinder blocks so we could do the basement. So after that I went to work and I helped dad to build a house that was over there that the county took. So anyway
Mary: Do you mean physically you helped with the construction?
Dolly: You know my uncle was a builder; I've got some pictures around here showing the building the working on the house. But anyway he showed me how to do different things.
Mary: Very good.
Dolly: He couldn't see that well so he would show me how to use a string from here to there and make sure this is level. I don't know how he could tell, but anyway I use to hate to watch him take a hammer and he had his finger like this on the nail and he would hit it right where he was suppose to. (He was blind) He taught me how to do a lot of things. I worked for him for a while. I was not the construction person I was there helping him but he showed me how to lay the cinder block and all. But anyway we were in that house when that happened, when dad lost his job. He was around there for a while actually without mom knowing he didn't have a job until finally my brother-in-law came out and said I heard they were hiring down at George Mason in Falls Church and he said Mr. Lee do you mind being a custodian and he said I don't mind anything because I been use to hard work. So he went down there and he was there until he actually retired from work. Then I left I went to live in the District for four years and we moved back here and have been here ever since.
Dolly: But ah we did that to help him you know.
Mary: If you had any advice to give to young people today do you have anything you would like to say to them? I know your parents gave you some advice through the years. Do you have any advice for them?
Dolly: I would tell them the same thing. Number 1, get an education and number 2 think about your needs before your wants. Your wants are going to carry you to your grave; I'm telling you because you can want a lot and can accumulate a lot and you don't have anything. Saving you have to save, that is what I got from my grandfather and I haven't let go yet. I don't have anything, but I am happy. But anyway I would love for them to appreciate parents and have a lot of respect for people period. When I grew up we had respect for everybody, I mean it didn't have to be your parents. All the people you respected, you took their advice and like I said there wasn't no abuse problems then and they could come back to you. I love my church, I love my school, I love my Sunday School and I would advise them to, now this is me, get closer to God. When we were in elementary school, I there had been a Methodist before, we had a minister that came from the Divinity School over at Howard University; he came out every Wednesday. Now I don't know who started this program but I was in the firth grade when he started coming out and we were taught the Bible on Wednesday's and we learned the Bible from the beginning to end. I don't think they were, you know, indoctrinating I don't think so.
Dolly: But if you didn't want to they wouldn't force you to but this if you didn't want to you could do something else in the class. They didn't force you to do it. But we had to learn the Bible from beginning to the end if we were in this class. And I enjoyed it but I told him years later, he came back to First Baptist Merrifield one Sunday morning he was looking for the kids that he taught and it so happened that there were three of us living that he had taught and so I went to him and his name was Powell, although I can't remember his first name. And I told him Reverend Powell I said when you were teaching us I hated Wednesday's; I didn't want you to come there on Wednesday's I would rather do something else. He said why and I said because you scared me to death. I always thought that behind the school, there was nothing but woods, it was the end of the world. If I stepped out there they wouldn't see me anymore, I would be just gone. But anyway he said you know it is kind of frightening to kids that don't understand. I tried to explain it as best I could and I was so glad that I had a chance to see him again, he was getting older and two weeks later he was dead.
Mary: Oh my.
Dolly: And I said gee I wish I had chance to talk to him a little bit more you know but.
Mary: Yeah. That's Reverend Powell. Dolly: Yeah, Reverend Powell. But I think if the kids were closer to God even if they had just the beginning of a prayer in school like we did I think people would get along with each other better. I mean I don't know anything about your faith, this is me talking. I mean it's not necessary for me to find out what kind of religious belief you have; but I still feel and maybe because I'm old, older and I recognize all these things, if you have a Supreme Being a person that you can really feel that you can beyond everybody else you can be close to you can make it no matter how. I don't worry about illness; I mean I do have problems too, but I don't worry about them because I know one day that I will have a better place. And I feel that if people just realized that they can have the same inner feeling they would be better off. And they wouldn't have to worry so much about what the next person has or how can I get this or the material things. They'll be here when you're gone.
Mary: That sounds like good advice, it really does. I was trying to think of anything else that we haven't covered and you were going to tell us about your hearing. Dolly: When my grandfather had the farm up in Centerville we stayed up there one summer so that we could take care of the crops and they would take them to the market. And then like I said it was like a community thing. They would can and we would put them in the cellar. While I was up there my two older sisters was up there, that day and I think my brother and my cousin went to the market with my parents not my parents my mother, my father was out there working. They went to the market to taking the goods. And while they were gone I had convulsions.
Mary: Oh my.
Dolly: And my older sister remembered my mother saying that her mother had convulsions when she was, well sometime in her mother's life.
Dolly: And she said Aunt Martha her father's sister told her to get the spoon and put the spoon in between her tongue to keep her from swallowing her tongue. I don't know how that works but anyway
Dolly: she is my next to the eldest sister one held my tongue and the other put the spoon behind it and kept me going.
Dolly: And no telephones. They worked on me and put cold towels and stuff on me until mom and them got home. And they brought me back down here to Doctor Smallwood's office in Falls Church. Now he was the only white doctor that would look after you because there weren't many colored doctors or black doctors around, as you would say so they used him. And he was the one that trained my aunt to be the nurse and the midwife. So anyways they weren't up there just us and after that I couldn't hear for over a year that I couldn't hear and I couldn't talk. So my mom didn't know what was wrong but Dr. Smallwood told us that maybe one day she'll talk and be able to hear. And so he said they saved my life.
Mary: Wow, how old were you, about?
Dolly: Oh, I was about must have been about five, four or five. Yeah, and they were I was told that they saved my life by doing what they did. And my mom wouldn't stay up there she said it was too far anymore. She said that pop would have to get somebody else to look after the farm. And she came back down here to this house. But we'd get up there some in the summer anyway. But anyway we came back here so we could be closer to the doctor cause there was no hospital we could go to. You could not go to Arlington Hospital; Arlington would turn you away in a minute. Even when I got older and had my second child Arlington wouldn't take me and they had to take me over to Freedman's Hospital over in D.C.
Dolly: They would not do it. And if it was an extreme emergency they would put you in the hall; I'm sorry but they
Mary: They put you in the hallway?
Dolly: In the hallway and you could catch anything in between. But anyway, mom nursed me at home because she said they had taught her to how to nurse her mother.
Dolly: So she nursed me at home. And I didn't know, a year later I started talked, just a little bit. I started saying words but she didn't know if I could hear or not because she would call me and I didn't hear her. So I've had my ears checked even recently and everybody told me the same thing that during that convulsion stage I had nerve damage in the middle of the ear. So I'm 60% loss and 40% I can hear and I have to look at you to see.
Mary: You do very well.
Dolly: But I have this little thing (hearing aide) here and everybody had but it doesn't do anything but amplify the sound and you don't you just don't hear. It's just so loud. I can't understand what you are saying. So I say it's a waste of money because it is not cheap.
Dolly: It's like the first ones were $4,000 per ear and if the damage is in the center I need it for both.
Mary: Oh, oh it's complicated isn't it? Well thank you very much. Linda was there anything you wanted to ask that I didn't ask?
Linda Byrne: I just like to ask how you met your husband and about your children.
Dolly: I was working at the Pentagon; you see it's not very many jobs you could get during that time, anyway. You either had to do domestic, cafeteria work, if you worked in a store you were so far in the back they didn't know you worked there. So I was working in the cafeteria part of the Pentagon and I met him cause he was working in there also. And I didn't like him.
Mary: You didn't like him.
Dolly: I didn't like him, he was always asking me to go over to the District. Do you live in the District"? No, I don't live in the District I live in the opposite direction. I'd be catching the bus and he was always trying to stop me from going home you know. But anyway that's where I met him and then he went into the Service and when he came back we got married. But we've got six children and you know we live average people cause like I said, I take care of my needs and my wants can go somewhere else. I take care of my needs and he's a very good person, we don't have any problems I have to say it we've been married 50 some years and really no problems, no problems where I needed to say we needed - you get a divorce, I say no it hasn't happened. And my children are doing pretty good. Most of them live here, two of them live in California but most them are generally in Annandale, Arlington, you know, that area. I can't say I regret any of this I don't. Every once in a while my husband will say I think it is about time for us to get smaller.
Dolly: I can see myself getting choked so as long as I can stay her, I'll stay.
Mary: How long have you lived in this house?
Dolly: Since 78, I use to live over on Spicer Drive which is down there by the bridge off of Woodburn Road. I was baptized at that bridge down there.
Mary: In the stream?
Dolly: In the stream.
Mary: In the stream.
Dolly: I know what you forgot to ask me about the churches.
Mary: Oh yeah. First Baptist of Merrifield.
Dolly: First Baptist of Merrifield I just love that little church.
Mary: The one that we have there now is the second church right; the original was a frame church.
Dolly: Right the original they tore down was a frame church and I was so upset with them because I was trying to get it as a historical marker but they didn't have patience enough to wait. You know when you have new people coming in the community, they don't value the old things; I mean old things to them is an eyesore.
Dolly: And so the minister at the time, I said that's because you go home you are the same you're changing this all up here and we were outnumbered because we were overpowered by new people. But anyway, that little church is gone but that is where my heart was right there. I was baptized in the creek - cold October.
Mary: Oh, my goodness not in the summertime huh.
Dolly: It was on the second Sunday, I remember it was the second Sunday in October. And went back up to the church and they of course they gave us their heavenly fellowship, and we were members of the church. But, they would not you know they believed in you had to be 12 years old to really know what you were doing. So they wouldn't let you get baptized until you were 12 years old. You couldn't sing in the choirs although I had been singing with my mom and uncle and all that cause that was a musical place over there (at my uncles) he had harps, and clarinets and every musical instrument.
Mary: Your uncle was musical?
Dolly: Oh, yeah he wrote music he published books and stuff like that. Anyway, we were use to singing he was the organist at Merrifield for 32 years. And he was also over at Shiloh Baptist in D.C. and the Metropolitan Baptist.
Mary: He was organist for them too Shiloh and what was the other one?
Dolly: Ah, Metropolitan.
Mary: Metropolitan, also Baptist.
Dolly: And we were close to Vermont too.
Dolly: Vermont Baptist, but was no problem for him they wanted him to be the organist for one of the churches in New York but he wouldn't leave because he said this area needed him here. New York didn't need him. Anyway, we were not allowed to sing in the choir because you weren't baptized. So, I joined the choir after I was baptized and then I assisted him. You know sometimes I would assist him even in p.m. when he would have to go down to serve the people and then
Mary: You'd take over while he was serving the meat himself.
Dolly: And the I became pianist for a group called little children Sparrows and then the others were called the Spiritual Melodies.
Mary: This was Children's choirs?
Dolly: One was like intermediate.
Dolly: The other was children the Sparrows; I played for them until 85 or 86 something like that. And now I'm playing at ……. Baptist in Falls Church. I haven't given up music because I like music.
Mary: One think I didn't ask if I may, is how old are you?
Dolly: 74 and will be 75 in June.
Mary: You have had quite a life haven't you?
Dolly: I don't regret it. I don't regret a day in my life really. I mean I know that we had to buy clothes and stuff up in Georgetown or over in D.C on Seventh Street. We couldn't go in to these stores over there like Raleigh's or
Mary: Woodward and Lothrop.
Dolly: Woodward and Lothrop or Kay and Company.
Mary: You weren't allowed to go in the stores at all?
Dolly: Unless you went in the basement, that's what I was getting ready to say.
Dolly: Goldberg's would allow you to come down there but you couldn't try on stuff you had to put it up against you and hats forget it, you couldn't put on any hats on in their store.
Mary: Because it touches you right?
Dolly: You have to look at it and hope it fits you. But anyway I use to go over into D.C. with my mother, go over there to shop especially for a holiday. She would always want to look at stuff and go downtown. We would go down there to Kresge's 5 and dime.
Dolly: Kresge's they use to have a counter where the whites use to go up to the counter to eat, but you couldn't go you were colored. Whites could eat anywhere. But we had a little corner where we had to go and if we wanted to get some food we had to order over here.
Mary: And would they let you sit there?
Dolly: You could stand there - sit no - but you could stand there you had to stay there as long as they weren't waiting on anybody else.
Mary: And you'd just wait till they got through with everybody else?
Dolly: They wouldn't even look at you if they had another white person to wait on. I am not saying that because you are white. I am just telling you how it was.
Mary: Yeah, I understand - no we would like to know the past.
Dolly: After we'd get it we couldn't stay in there and eat it, you had to go outside and walk on the sidewalk and find yourself a trashcan.
Dolly: And to go to the bathroom was next to impossible. I think each library was a public library I think it was the Library of Congress I can't remember exactly but I know it wasn't too far off of Seventh Street and not far from the Hecht Company and it was on your left hand side going up now we could go down in the basement from the outside, down this long dark hall to the restroom.
Mary: But nowhere else in Washington could you go to the restroom so you went to the public library. Wow!
Dolly: So you get so you train yourself when you go into D.C., you knew what you had to do unless you knew somebody where you could go. Now my mother at one time my grandmother lived near Union Station and we would go there for a while a little while to stay before coming back home.
Mary: Have you shared these stories with your kids? Do they appreciate the life that you
Dolly: Every once in a while we get to talking about it.
Mary: Yeah, yeah. It is a sad part of history but we don't want people to forget because we don't want it to happen again.