200 North Main Street | Bloomington, Illinois | 309-827-0428

Wilbur Barton

Brief Biography:

Barton was born February 27, 1914 in Normal, Illinois and attended Metcalf Grade School, University High School and Illinois State Normal University. He was the first African-American captain of the ISNU Basketball team. He served in the Navy during World War II before embarking on a long career as a teacher and administrator in Indianapolis, Indiana. He still lives in Indianapolis but continues to visit and care for his family home in Normal.

Tape 1

Interviewer: Mildred Pratt and Lucinda Posey | Date: March 18 2013

WB I'm Wilbur "Barney" Barton, and I have lived in Normal all my life. I was born here at [address omitted], Normal, Illinois. (phone rings) I did all my schooling here, either in Thomas Metcalf, University High, and Illinois State. I was born, as I said, here in Normal on February 27, 1914, and I spent most of my childhood here in Normal. After I graduated Illinois State in [19]36, I went to Mt. Vernon, Indiana to teach, and I taught there two years. And then I went to Indianapolis. I applied for a job at Indianapolis that belonged to Redford Morris, who at that time had gone to tutor Joe Louis who was just getting up to that point where he would be champion, and his job was filled when I got there by a young fellow named Fitzhugh Lyons who was a graduate of Indiana University. But they asked me if I was interested in another position at John Hope Junior High School which I was interested in because I didn't have a job after graduating from class from Illinois State. So I took that job and that was in [19]38. I stayed at John Hope School until [19]41 when I joined the civil service of the U.S. Navy, and I spent a year in the civil service teaching in the Navy, and then I was drafted into the navy. I was drafted in as a chief petty officer.
MP Was that during World War II?
WB Yes, we were in World War II. I went to school. My major at Illinois State was industrial arts and physical education, and so I was kind of qualified for metal-work which was mostly aluminum. We were trained to work on everything about the airplane except the engine and that came under another service school. I was the second man in charge of the service school at Great Lakes. I stayed there three years until I was discharged three years later in December of [19]45, and I came back to Indianapolis and resumed my teaching. So all my service was spent in Chicago, either in Great Lakes or Chicago area, and the reason for that was because I was a chief petty officer, and I was kind of a high ranking officer in the Navy which nobody wanted. So it really worked in my favor - the prejudice.
MP You didn't have to go overseas, then, right?
WB The prejudice really worked in my favor.
MP That's interesting.
WB So when I came back to Indianapolis, I taught there in the city twenty-eight years. Indianapolis is a city where it`s one school system of the city surrounded by eight other school systems, township systems. When I left Indianapolis city proper and went to Washington Township most people when they apply for a job in Indianapolis don't realize that there's nine school systems to apply for. This I ran into when I was an assistant in charge of recruiting for Washington Township. Everybody thought there was just one system ...
MP I see.
WB in Indianapolis, but there were nine. Nine independent systems. And after that, I spent ten years in Washington Township as an assistant principal and vice principal at West Lane Junior High School. They worked me so hard at the junior high that I went back to grade school, one through six, when I retired in 1978.
MP Now, when you went back to grade school, was that still in the same Washington Township?
WB Yes.
MP All right.
WB And when I retired in 1978, I haven't done anything since -- school-wise.
MP Now, would you go back and tell us about your family, your parents, your grandparents, and that history in Normal?
WB I didn't know my grandparents, but I understand that he was Milton Barton who Jesse Fell brought here to help plant trees.
MP He was your grandfather?
WB Yes.
MP Jesse Barton?
WB Milton Barton.
MP Milton Barton, all right.
WB He was a full-blooded Indian in nursery business in Alton.
MP In Alton, Illinois?
WB Alton, Illinois. His family had come from Alton because it seemed there was an Indian settlement near there. And I have the years down in my written history.
MP You have that written there?
WB And they lived at the corner at what is now School Street and what used to be Water Street.
MP Yes.
WB And Water Street seems to be across from the theater. Isn't there a theater down there?
MP North Street?
WB There's a theater at Beaufort and School Streets, isn't there, that faces east?
MP Oh yes, that's right. Yes, that's right. That's the University.
WB They lived approximately that way facing the school grounds.
MP So they really kind of lived kind of where the parking lot is now?
WB Yeah. Well, you see that was back in the 1860's and [18]70's. That was pretty early.
MP Now, do you know how your grandfather happened to have come to -- how his family happened to come settle in Alton, Illinois?
WB No.
MP You don't know where they came from to Alton, Illinois?
WB No.
MP I see.
WB It was an Indian settlement and where they came from, or who or what tribe or anything else...
MP You never knew what tribe?
WB we never looked into.
MP I see, yes.
WB Which I may try to.
MP Yes, that would be great. You could probably find that out. You should go to Alton, perhaps.
WB Yes. That is what somebody told me. But I know this that his wife came from Missouri.
MP Oh.
WB I have it down.
MP Yes, all right.
WB They were married when they came here, and then others followed him here.
MP Other relatives?
WB Yeah, and the story goes that Milton Barton didn't have anything but an Indian name, and Jesse Fell gave him the name of Milton Barton. That's the way the story goes. (laughs)
MP And we don't know why he gave him the name, Milton Barton?
WB Only other than he didn't have a normal name other than an Indian name.
MP Yes.
WB And my father...
MP How many children did he have -- Milton Barton?
WB He had ten.
MP He had ten children.
WB Ten children, and my father is the oldest of the ten.
MP Oh, yes.
WB And his name is Carey Barton. And Carey Barton had nine children which I am the youngest.
MP I see.
WB And I have one son, and my son in turn has one son to try to carry on the Barton name.
MP Yes, yes. And so they all settled here in Normal?
WB Yes.
MP All right.
WB And see at one time, Milton had a sister come through -- her name was Judy or Judah, and she wanted to establish a reservation here, but didn't find any takers. And Fell didn't find any takers among the whites. So she went farther north, and they seem to think it was around the Pontiac area. There's Bartons in Normal, Bloomington, Pontiac, [and] Batavia. Those are the ones I can name offhand. Back then they had large families. We are also related to the Dabneys who most of the kids went to school here like I did.
MP I see.
WB Most of them went through Normal High School -- all except their youngest. They had a family of seven girls and two boys like we did. The oldest in my family was my brother, Hillard, and I was the youngest of the nine. The Dabneys had seven girls and two boys, and the youngest was Sherma Dabney who also went to Illinois State. And she's teaching in Milwaukee.
MP Oh, is she?
WB And has her doctor's degree.
MP I see, is she teaching at the university there?
WB No, I think it is in the city schools.
MP Now, your grandfather, Milton Barton, continued to work here for...?
WB Jesse Fell.
MP In this university, once the university was established?
WB As far as I know, he didn't work for anybody else.
MP He continued to work as a gardener?
WB Yes.
MP Now, what about your father?
WB Now, my father was born here on School Street and Water Street.
MP Now, your grandfather owned his home?
WB I guess, or he got it from Fell or something because all this land at one time belonged to Fell.
MP Now, your father, did he own his home?
WB Yeah, he first lived at the corner of Beaufort Street on the southwest corner of Beaufort Street and Broadway, right north of the railroad. There is a filling station in there now.
MP Yes.
WB My first three brothers and sisters were born there.
MP I see.
WB Then they moved to [address omitted], which is the second house from the corner of Cherry and Oak.
MP Is the house still there?
WB Yes, the house is still there, and my sister still lives there, my oldest sister.
MP Now, we haven't interviewed her. So we must do that. Now, I must get her name so that -- what is her name now?
WB Dorothy Stockstell
MP Dorothy...
WB Stocksdell. S-T-O-C-K-E-L. No S-T-O-C-K-S-T-E-L-L, [address omitted].
  [. . . text omitted . . .]
WB She went to Normal Community High School
MP Normal Community High School.
WB And you see all my sisters when they grew up -- my mother was pretty strict. They made a beeline for Chicago, and most of them lived there except me. I didn't like the big city.
MP I see.
WB I went to Mt. Vernon first in Indiana. Then to Indianapolis. I've been in Indianapolis all my life since I left here in Normal.
MP When you grew up, what did your father do? That's what I wanted to know. What kind of work did your father do?
WB Oh yes, my father was a tinsmith and a coppersmith, and as a teenager he worked for a family named Champion. I think it was Thomas Champion. He worked for them for several years. He had to take a job -- my dad had to take a job to kind of help with the family. And he worked for odd jobs until he fell in with the Champion family. He worked for the Champions a long time, and they decided that this man could do better. So they taught him a trade, and they paid for his apprenticeship. And he ended up -- well, the Champions at that time were the first ones to come out canning tomatoes.
MP Oh, that's right, yes.
WB And he worked for Champion, and the way I figured he must have been one of the few that was soldering the cans. They solder the lids on.
MP Yes, yes.

Food and Daily Life

Interviewer: Unknown | Date: April 1 1997

Side A
WB Food patterns of the William Carey Barton family in Normal, Illinois.
Location: We had three homes. One at 306 North School Street, which was the first. The next one was at Beauport and Broadway Street. And the last was 304 East Cherry Street to the present time. This time-span was from my time-1914 when I was born, to 1997. We had a family of nine children-seven girls and two boys. The oldest and the youngest were boys-me being the youngest. The house at 304 East Cherry Street was in the first addition to the Town of Normal. We had seven rooms in the house. It had a barn, pigpen, chicken house, smokehouse, outhouse-privy (laughs), garden, fruit trees such as apples, pears, peaches, plums, grapes, walnut, and cherry. The barn was later torn down or made into a garage. Meals: We had three meals a day, and they were known as breakfast, lunch, and supper. Usually, they were at 7:00 A.M. in the morning, at noon, and 6:00 P.M. We all ate at the dining room table at the same time. The foods we ate were usually raised. In the early years, we raised hogs on that same lot. We had plenty of chicken, pork, ham occasionally, beef and fish. Some rabbit and squirrel in season.
Vegetable foods: The vegetables were raised in our three gardens such as potatoes-white potatoes. Sweet potatoes didn't grow very well in Normal. Peas, corn, onions, beets, beans, mustard, radish, lettuce, Swiss chard, dock, turnip, cabbage, okra, lima beans, sassafras, pumpkins, squash, and a few others, I guess. My mother had a canning season. It usually was in the spring and summer. And she canned and cold-packed a lot of the food that we later ate during the winter. She stored slaw and kraut in five-gallon crocks. Canned the fruit in one quart and one and a half-gallon Mason jars. Made jelly preserves, pear honey, apple butter, butter. And we had plenty of canned peaches-also in Mason jars. She canned some fruit that was bought from hucksters who came by with their wagons.
Cooking facilities: [My mother] had a cook stove with four lids, oven, and boiler with a warming oven at the top. Here she did most of the cooking. She had a black kettle-big kettle-to make soap and boil clothes to get them white out in the back yard. Soap was made from hog grease.
[Water]: Our water facilities were at that time a well, probably fifty feet deep. The water was very hard. You couldn't use it to wash clothes. And we had a cistern with rainwater, which we used for about everything else. Later, we had city water and sewer service.
Neighborhood: Our neighborhood was a working-class neighborhood of white and Black. The economic status was from very poor to middle class. My family was one of three Colored families that lived on Cherry Street. What we ate depended on our income and what we grew and raised. My father had a very good job. He was a tinsmith and coppersmith. My mother never worked out. She had nine children and how could you. (laughs) She was in charge of the house and the three gardens. She put us all to work in the gardens. My mother was a very good cook. My mother was a very good wash lady. My mother was a very good ironer. She had to be. My mother came from Kentucky. My father came from Southern Illinois and Missouri. My mother's cooking was representative of the cooking in those three states, not of the Deep South. We had plenty of chicken-either fried, baked, or boiled. Every year my mother would get three hundred chicks from the Bloomington Hatchery for year and raise them for our meat, and she sold some. The chickens ran wild in the neighborhood. They usually came home at night. As they say, "The chickens came home to roost." A typical day at 304 Cherry Street consisted of breakfast-my mother made hot biscuits-powder-in two large pans maybe ten by eighteen [inches] with jelly, preserves, and butter, hand sliced back-slab bacon or salt pork, sliced fried potatoes and onion or fried apples or tomatoes, and sometimes apple sauce, coffee, and tea. My mother drank coffee. My father drank tea. My mother liked her coffee boiled openly in a pan. It was strong enough to walk. We as kids had Quaker Oats and milk probably. The neighborhood children usually stopped by on their way to school to get leftover biscuits that my mother would save for them in the warming oven. As for lunch-probably [for] lunch, we all came home to lunch from school. White bread, sliced by hand. We had no sliced bread at that time. Probably ham, corn, peas, milk, lemonade, and butter, margarine that we had to color. My father took his lunch to work. He worked five days a week. Took the streetcar to work in Bloomington.
Supper: Dinner was known as supper. To honor our Lord we were to say the blessing and break bread together. My mother always said, "The families that prays together, stays together." Supper probably consisted of roast pork, chicken, beef, potatoes, green beans, with creamed style corn, salad of leaf lettuce, and sliced pickles. Desserts were fruit pies from the fruit trees in the yard, fruit cobblers, tea, coffee, milk, butter, water, pop, pudding, and cake. After supper, we usually sat on the porch, weather permitting, or go into the living room, which is now called the family room, until bedtime. And as we would slowly succumb to the "sandman" who picked us off one at a time, my mother would instruct us to go to bed. As for family protocol: We all had time to eat together. Had to with no exception. We all had time to break bread together. Nothing should be more important. We discussed family discipline and problems and correction at this time of day. The next day's work for all of us was reviewed. We always set a place for a guest or temporary visitors before we asked them to eat with us. My mother had picked this up from living in Kentucky. She detested "Chicago dining." Chicago dining was when people would have dinner, and each one in the family would slowly disappear to the kitchen and eat, and then come back and entertain you. As for discipline, my father and mother were heads of this house. They ruled with a strap, switch, and backhand. My mother was the enforcer.
In generalities, I would say baked food was all in a coal-stove oven. And as I said there were biscuits, corn bread, muffins, corn ponies, crackling bread, cobblers, apple dumplings, fried pies, cake, etc. Desserts were all of the above, and occasionally we had homemade ice cream, sherbet, tapioca pudding. The ice cream was hand cranked. I can taste it even now. We usually had to make the ice cream in the back yard so the neighborhood kids couldn't see us. It usually didn't work. They usually came around, and everybody that came to our house was fed by my mother. We as kids didn't like this because we had to share our ice cream with our friends. Well, I'll stop and if I think of anything else, I'll add to it. Right now I'll say, "That's all folks. I'd like to have my tape back. Wilbur W. Barton. Class of 1936, Illinois State [Normal University]. Thank you." (tape is turned off) I might also include mode of transportation, which I just thought about. Early we had a horse and buggy and wagon. They were used on the eleven acres that we farmed behind the Orphan's Home. After the horse and buggy days, we finally got a 1914 Mitchell automobile and 1921 Nash later on. I don't remember what we had after that. Thank you. (tape is turned off) Probably a 1928 Ajax Nash.
End Side A

Discover Greatness Program

Interviewer: Willie Tripp | Date: October 9 1999

WT Now let's introduce Mr. Barton.
WB (microphone rings) Anything to keep me from talking. (laughter) It's on. I'm ready to go. Okay. They didn't tell me exactly what I was going to talk about, but I wrote some stuff down. And it starts out with the exhibit on the Negro baseball players. I'm going to say what I know about it, and a few things that you might be interested in. My name is Wilbur "Barney" Barton, and they called me at other times "Deacon." The only person that called me Wilbur, which is my first name, was my mother. All the other people called me something else. And when I get into the Young Men's Fellowship Club, I will tell you the names that we all had. First I want to say that I knew Jackie Robinson, and I knew Larry Doby. In fact, I was in the navy with Larry Doby who went on to play for the Cleveland Indians, you know. And he was the second Negro to play in organized baseball after Robinson. And we had-I was in the navy, and we had a softball team over there, and Larry played with us as a fielder on the softball team. Larry was only about twenty years old then. He wasn't very good. The best guy on the team was a guy named Jim Brown. He's not the football player that you all are thinking about, but he was about thirty-two years old, and he had been drafted. I think Larry volunteered to come in. Maybe his parents had put him in the navy, or something like that. So when I think he joined-about two years after he got out of the navy, and they took him in the Cleveland Indians. And I often wondered why they didn't take Jim Brown because he was the best player. But Jim Brown was thirty-two, and Larry was only about twenty so you can see why they took Larry Doby instead of Jim Brown cause he had at least more years to play. Which makes sense when you go back over it, and I think that holds true of Jackie Robinson, too. Jackie Robinson came to Illinois State and played basketball. I graduated in [19]36, and I think he came in about [19]38, and he had come from UCLA. And after that he played Negro League [baseball], and then he came to Montreal what was a subsidiary of Brooklyn, New York. I want to digress just a little bit about going to see Jackie Robinson first. There was a bunch of teachers in Indianapolis that wanted to go and see him play, and he was playing for Montreal. And so we went down to Louisville to see him play. And they had sold 500 tickets-it seated about ten or twelve thousand. They had sold 500 tickets to the Negroes that were coming to the game, and they wouldn't let any of the rest of us in because they were coming from all different cities to see him play. But they only decided to let 500 people in to see Jackie Robinson play. Probably didn't want him playing anyway. Well anyway, we didn't know what to do. So a farmer was going to the game. He said, "Well, you see that barn over there? That's my barn and as many as want to can go over there and sit on the barn and look over the center field fence." Ringside seats. So that's what we did. And, of course, we wasn't happy about it, but we got to see Jackie Robinson play. And after that I went to see him in Cincinnati and places like that. I never did see Larry Doby play until he came to Chicago. But since Jackie was the first one I wanted to see him play and everyone else wanted to see him. Incidentally I had a big league player that played with the Indianapolis ABCs. His name was Ernest Duff. And Ernest is related to Reggie Whittaker; his half-brother [sic]. And I wanted to get that in, [but] I don't remember what league he was in. But I remember them coming and playing different teams and Satchel Paige would come and play in Victory Field which was the name of the field in Indianapolis. I also had an uncle, Sherman Barton, who was a baseball-hardball-player. And he was good enough that McGraw wanted to sign him up, but he couldn't sign him up because he was the wrong color. And so I throw that in. [The Federal Census of 1900 lists Sherman Barton's occupation as "baseballest"] That's all that I can think of now in terms of the Major Leagues or going into the Major Leagues, but I was also to speak on a club softball team here. We had a group here called - they first started out as Jackson's Furniture. And Jackson had a furniture store in Normal, and we had a team that played behind the Normal Sanitary Dairy. And we had a field there that was I think sponsored by Alexander Lumber Company. And we played there.And then it graduated on to more or less better players because one of the churches, a couple of the churches, got together and got started on the YMFC which stood for the Young Men's Fellowship Club. And [Harold Wood's] two brothers played-Albert and Harry Woods. And we enjoyed barnstorming around the Bloomington area. And so we had this team. I played third base. Let me digress a little bit. We had different names besides our own names. For instance, our catcher was Barksdale. I can remember. Do you remember Herschel-Herschel Barksdale? And you know what we called him? Sally. S-A-L-L-Y. Our pitcher was Bubby Hunter. Bubby. We called him Bubby. Albert was a guy about six-foot tall. There's a young-timer over here. (pointing to a relative in the audience) And Bubby was a good pitcher, a real good pitcher, and our first baseman was Albert Woods. One of his brothers. Albert stood about six-foot, four inches and weighted about 250 pounds if you could weigh him, and he wore a size fifteen shoe. And a lot of times, they'd throw a ball to him, and they'd say, "You missed the base." And then he'd put his foot out like that and say, "Look at the shoe-fifteen. How could I miss the base?" "Out." The second baseman was a guy named Eugene Covington, and his dad was a doctor here. One of the first Negro doctors here in Bloomington, and we called him "Mouse," and he played second base. And we had a guy named John Sullivan who played shortstop, and we called him "Silky." I played third base, and they called me "Barney." And a lot of the time they called me "Deacon" because there were two Deacon's that went to Illinois State-Deacon Barton and Deacon Gorens. And the left fielder was Duffy. Back then on a softball team we had ten people who played. So you had a roving shortstop. And that was a guy named Gonzalo Curtis, and we called him "Gondola."And we would go to the little towns around here like Ellsworth, LeRoy, Clinton and play basketball, play baseball. And the people in the towns would take up these names and call us by our nicknames. They liked Sally. They'd call, "Sally, Sally, Sally" because he was the catcher, and he was a loudmouth catcher, you know. Catchers are supposed to talk a lot, and so they took that up. Albert was "Footsy," Mouse, Silky Sullivan, Duffy-one of the Duffs-and so on. But the thing I want to tell you before I forget about it. We went to these small white towns and there were no Negroes there. We would kiddingly ask each other. We went in a state truck. And we had a seat along the back and down each side and the tools and stuff were in the middle, and the kids would see us coming and run along the side of us. And they'd say, "Here come the `Niggers.' Here come the `Niggers.'" And we would say, "Umm." But we didn't think anything about it because we knew they didn't know better. Because some of them were three, four years old who would come up and ask you why you don't wash your face. It wasn't their fault. And another joking thing we always did with each other-we would say, "What do you think they're going to feed us?" "I don't know. What do you think they are going to feed us?" And someone would say, "I don't know. Chicken and watermelon?" And that would happen every place we went. Some of you are too young to know about donkey baseball. How many of you have heard of donkey baseball? Donkey softball? Ellsworth, LeRoy, Downs, and those places ate up donkey baseball. With us on the donkeys. And those donkeys had a mind of their own. What we did is: Everybody, every fielder was on a donkey. Everybody that came to bat got on a donkey, bat the ball, and try to go to first base. The donkey may go to first base, and it may not. And it may go to first base and keep on going. And the fielders had the same trouble. They would hit the ball out there. The donkey would take you out to the ball, and walk off and leave you. These owners had them trained. And you didn't know who was going go win, and neither did the people in the stands know who was going to win. So, we found that very entertaining, and we used a softball and a regular mitt. And I finally graduated after sixteen years on the campus, and they went on and got me a job teaching school in Mount Vernon, Indiana in a two-room high school. We had about thirty-five kids, and what I didn't teach, the principal taught. And then I went on to-got a job in Indianapolis. I applied for a job-I cant' think of his name right now. Joe Louis was just coming up, and the guy who taught math at Crispus Attucks High School in Indianapolis went to join Joe Louis's camp to tutor Joe Louis. So I applied for his job and have been in Indianapolis ever since. Taught there for forty-one years and never came back home. Still have a home in Normal. And if you have any questions, I'll be open to questions. I don't want to dominate this thing. Thank you.
Ed Jelks Mr. Barton, how did you get your nickname of "Barney?"
WB I got that in the third grade-I don't really know-at Thomas Metcalf in about the third grade when they come out with the song "Barney Google." I don't know if any of you remember the song. (unintelligible) That's how they named me.
? That McGraw that wanted to sign one of the Negro ball players. Was that the McGraw who used to be police chief or mayor of Bloomington?
WB No. He [John McGraw] was with the Giants. One of the Eastern teams.
? When I was young, my dad and I would go to Chicago to the East-West games. (unintelligible)
WB I went too.
? Do you recall if Henry Aaron played while you were in Indianapolis?
WB I saw him play in the lower leagues. I'm trying to think of which place it was. See, Indianapolis is a farm team, too, you know.
? Now you were talking about you went to see Robinson play in Louisville. That would be Triple-A?
WB Triple-A. Right.
? Now at that time what team was Louisville with because I (unintelligible).
WB I'm not sure.
WT Okay. Another question over here.
? Did Oscar Robertson attend Crispus Attucks High School in Indianapolis? Did you have any contact with him? Were you teaching then?
WB I coached a team there called School 26. It was a big school. We had about 1400 kids. And he went to 17. Schools in Indianapolis go by numbers, and he went to 17. He learned his skills in a "dust bowl" we called it. It was a housing project. They had baskets up, and they'd get out and play basketball every day, seven days a week, twenty hours a day. And he was one of the dust bowl. Went to 17. We played him-School 26 played him for the final of the city tournament. And I was telling Woods here that I was the first non-believer of [Oscar Robertson] because I told my team there's nobody that good. I would say there's nobody as good as Bird. At that time there was nobody as good as Jordan. But I changed my mind on all of them. (laughter) Oscar was the first one that put us out of the tournament. We had won eight out of ten years, and when Oscar came along, he beat us by ten points. And I told my team that nobody was that good. Gary Roosevelt [High School] came down three years later to play in the state finals, and I told the coach, "Well, you got to give Oscar thirty points." "No. no." So he put his best man on him. His best man fouled out trying to guard Oscar.So I said, "I told you. You're the second non-believer in Oscar."
? How did you get the name "Deacon?"
WB Another fellow from Lincoln, his name was Herbert Gorens, and he played football. They called him Deacon Gorens. And we would buddy around together, and the kids on the football team and the basketball team would call us "Deacon One" and "Deacon Two" - "Deacon" Barton and "Deacon" Gorens.
WT Before we go any farther I'd like to introduce another baseball player. There's Floyd Bonds sitting back there. Do you want to stand up Floyd and tell what team you was on?
Floyd Bonds Well, my brothers all played with the YMFC team-(Inaudible) James, Sylvester James, and Arthur James. (Inaudible). I used to pitch out there with the team.
WB I'd like to say this. Growing up in Normal, Illinois I didn't run into any prejudice through grade school and over at the high school. I was out of a family of nine-seven girls and two boys. And my sisters-I was the youngest and my brother was the oldest-and my sisters did most of my fighting for me. (laughter) And if somebody called me a name, I'd go home and get my sister, and they were about three years apart. I'd get one seven, ten, thirteen, sixteen, twenty-one. (laughter) I went to Thomas Metcalf and U High. I didn't run into any prejudice until I got to Springfield, Illinois. We had won a basketball sectional or regional tournament-whatever they have here in Illinois. I don't know. It's different from Indiana. We decided-some of the boys who played the game that afternoon decided to go to a show. About ten of us went. About half didn't want to go to a show. So we went to the show in Springfield, Illinois-the capital of Illinois. We went up to the window and put the money down. I'm about the sixth guy in line. I put my money down, and the girl says, "We don't cater to colored trade." Well, I'm a sophomore in high school and "cater" means cooking. (laughter) And she repeated it. "We don't cater to colored trade." Then she spelled it out. "Colored people don't go to the show." Oh! I was kind of shocked.And so the boys gathered around me who were waiting to buy their tickets and said, "Get your ticket and get on out of the way." And then they come up to the window, and she repeated it to them-cause all these kids were white from Normal, and she was saying that "we don't cater to colored." And then she said, "Colored people don't go to the show." And so they were shocked too and somebody said, "Let's not go to the show."So we got back to the hotel. We're all staying in two rooms, and they said, "What happened? Thought you all were going to the show." And we said, "Well we decided not to go because Barney can't go." So we told the coach. It was T. J. Douglas and he was surprised himself. He said, "I wish I'd have know."And then, two or three hours later the other fellows come in who got into the show. "What the hell happened to you all? Thought you were going to the show." And everything got quiet. You could hear a mouse peeing on cotton because they had to tell the other ones. They said, Why didn't you just come in and get us. We'd have tore up the place." "That's why we didn't tell you."
WB That was 1934.
WT Are there any questions? (prolonged applause).