Jube Shiver

Jube Shiver was interviewed at Spring Gardens apartments on Richmond Highway

I couldn't find any decent community to live in. I was inspired more or less to start a sub-division. Randall Estates. A group of professional people agreed that we would build together. We have about 45 homes there now, a sub-division that I'm really proud of.

After building that I saw a greater need. If people of our income level could not find homes. I thought --who was doing anything for the lower income? As a result I got involved in and built the project you are located on now for lower income families, 209 garden apartments --the first project in Northern Virginia built for lower income people under government regulation 221-D-3. The next project of any size was the 25 homes in the Gum Springs area. Most of those families are pretty proud of that one. Gum Springs is a very unique community. The basic people there are people who have been here all of their lives. Their families have been constantly here.

Three or four years ago they came up with the plan for developing Gum Springs which the Board of Supervisors accepted. They asked the Board of Supervisors to allow them to plan their own community. The people, I think, In Gum Springs are very aware of what is going on around them now In the process of property development. They are anxious to see their community develop but with them playing a major role. I think this is good.

I have been involved In the community's development, not only from the point of property development, but also human development.

Gum Springs was just gum trees and a bunch of shacks. No paved roads, I don't believe, holey roads, very few houses had running water. Right across the fence here they had what was called Joe King's bottom --about 15 or 20 shacks In there, they had one open house where everybody went to take a shower and an open toilet. No street lights or anything that we have in this area now.

The community, on the verge of losing its grant for the community action program, asked me to come in and reorganize. I came in as director and served for 8 months. Without the community nothing would have been accomplished. Because the people had confidence in me, we were able to pull It together.

This area was Just a farm, a field. Mrs. Saunders who is dead now, and her son (my partner here) used to own the property. I think they bad about 10 or 12 acres.

The story of Randall Estates is built around "Mr. Fairfax," himself. Mr. Randall Is quite a gentleman. He was a little younger when I met him in his 70's. He's now 91. He lives by himself, completely Independent. He still drives. Mr. Randall has lived in the area In which he Is living now--within the range of 3 or 4 miles --all his 91 years. He owned a dairy farm once. It's a strip of land that Randall Estates Is on. I understand from Mr. Randall that from Ft. Hunt Road to Route 1 was owned by blacks. When I went into development blacks bad the whole area straight through. Blacks owned the land between Bucknell Manor and Hollin Hills from Route 1 to Ft. Hunt Road.

Mr. Randall was referred to by the children in the community as "The Old Farmer". His house was about 4 feet off of Rollins Drive, and he bad to walk down to what is now Colgate to get his mall. The mailman passed right by his house every morning on the opposite side of the road in Bucknell Manor. This was the reason they say, because he had a farm. The mailman, the walking mailman, did not deliver the mail to the farm. It was amazing. This was before Mr. Randall moved into his present house. Then he started getting mail. But I think that any good mailman that bad any feeling for human beings would have banded him his mail.

When we first wanted to do Randall Estates I would call companies and they would say they had money available of F.H.A. or V.A. - of course, when I showed my black face, that was another story. They didn't have any. This went on. I went into about 14 banks and in the 15th I made the loan. Once we got that first loan through, we didn't have too many more problems financially in Randall.

When we started Randall Estates the white community did not know what was going on. I got all of the engineering done and got ready to start the first house. I pulled the first machine in to start the digging two men came over and wanted to know what was going on. Mr. Randall had lived there all of his life, and they were newcomers. They spoke to him and said, ''Well, you didn't say anything to us about developing your land." He said, "I didn't think I had to get permission from you to develop my own land. "

There was one gentleman who died shortly after we moved into our houses but he was quite an interesting fellow, lived just across the street. He and I used to be out in the yard often and talk. One morning I walked out and he said, "Shiver, you sure came out and messed things up. "

I said, ''What do you mean?" He said, ''Well, my taxes have gone up. "Well, isn't that a little unusual," I said. "That's contrary to the system, isn't it? 'What's that?" he said. "Usually when a black person moves into a community the property goes down." I said. "I've raised the value of your property."

My biggest problem as a black developer was at the entrance desk, if you understand what I mean. It was the girl sitting behind the desk who would let you get back there or not. They found out that I could pay my bills like any developer, even better, and they would welcome my trade. They were concerned with making a profit whether I was black or white or blue, so that eliminated the problem there.

I went into the thing with determination. I was expecting the unusual. So I had built up the vitality and everything that goes with it to make me strong enough to do any problem I was going to run into. I communicated with the man that I feel is most trustworthy, and I think I bad a power that was beyond my human power.

Martin Luther King said ''I have a dream." Mine was in terms of housing development - trying to house people who needed to house themselves. This was my dream.

Volume One, Table of Contents
Snake Hill to Spring Bank Homepage

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