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Happiness & Hard Times

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Mrs. Fennell
Mrs. Fennell describes her memories of early Savannah as being that of a pleasant town. “I remember ladies in long dresses, large picture hats and gloves and men with derbies and canes promenading down Bull Street and through Forsyth Park. Womankind maintained a proper decorum in those days and held fast to their feminity.”
pp. 1 – 11
Mr. A.R. Gordson
Mr. Gordson is 83 and remembers coming to Savannah as a child. “When we came to Savannah, we moved in a nice location and hell, there was some Irish boys, some Jew boys, and we all had a few scraps but we got along, remarkably well.” He also talks about the construction industry which has undergone many changes.
pp. 12 – 21
General Paschal N. Strong
A graduate of West Point at the age of 20, General Strong is a man of wide experiences, as an Army engineer, adventurer, and writer of stories. “I wrote a lot of sports stories, a lot of sailing stories, a lot of mountain stories. I wrote about everything.”
pp. 22 – 35
Mrs. Newkirk
Mrs. Newkirk of Rincon talks about her family who were among the first German immigrants to Georgia, the Salzburgers, who settled in Ebenezer in Effingham County.
pp. 36 – 40
Mr. Reppard L. Thomas
Mr. Thomas descirbes what it was like to be a bus and streetcar operator in Savannah for 37 years. “And you met some mighty nice people, some mighty rugged people. Of all section, of all kinds; preachers, down to gangsters. And you had to treat a passenger as a passenger.”
pp. 41 – 55
Ms. Josephine Tayor
Mrs. Taylor talks about the old city market, Tybee Island, the prohibition era in Savannah, and the joy of living in the city. “Savannah is like an old shoe. The longer you wear it the better it fits.”
pp. 56 – 65
Mrs. Laudess James
Mrs. James has lived in Savannah for 65 years. She vividly describes the city market. They’d have Negro women there with big old baskets of cooked crab and shrimp and they’d put them on their head and walk in the streets hollering, ‘Yeah Crabs! Yeah Shrimps!’ going on like that.”
pp. 66 – 72
Mr. M.C. Pruitt
Mr. Pruitt has lived in Savannah since 1926. He remembers during his childhood visiting the Tin City section of town. “There were literally hundreds of homes where the Negro population lived. They built these homes out of tin and cardboard and wood or whatever. Some of them were no more than four by four. These were stuck back in among the mangrove and elderberry swamps along the Savannah River.”
pp. 73 – 83
Mr. W.D. Ulmer
Mr. Ulmer is a retired plumber who has lived and worked in Savannah for almost 54 years. “The plumbers and the helpers rode bicycles in those days. We rode bicycles as far as Pooler, Bethesda, and Thunderbolt.”
pp. 84 – 98
Mrs. Maria Clayde
Originally from Havanna, Cuba, Mrs. Clayde married a Savannahian. She comments about life in Cuba and Savannah. “Life in Cuba before Fidel was very nice. It was sort of like Savannah. Things were slow. People did not hurry so much.”
pp. 99 – 106
Mr. Frank Rossiter
Mr. Rossiter is a native Savannahian who talks about his boyhood in the Irish section of town. He talks about the newspapers, local politics, and his love of Savannah. “I’d rather be a fiddler in Savannah than a harpist in heaven.”
pp. 107 – 115
Mrs. Evelyn Davis
Mrs. Davis talks about the depression, the Ford Plantation in Richmond Hill, and the hard times of those lean years. “And there was times that you would wonder where the next meal was actually going to come from. It was just hard times.”
pp. 116 – 126
Miss Ruth Davenport
Now 70 years old, Miss Davenport recalls the depression days in Savannah. “It put so many men out of work, good men who wanted to work. It drove a lot of good men to the devil. But I also think that hard times had their place. I mean, they also helped bring families together…”
pp. 127 – 134
Mr. Anthony Ryan
Mr. Ryan talks about the economic changes of River Street from 1932 – 1973. “The buildings are very unique. They are 4 and 5 stories tall. They were build early 1800’s for cotton warehouses. The lower levels were used to store cotton and the main street or Bay Street level was the office and the level above it was used as the hotel for the planters to come and stay when they came to do business.”
pp. 135 – 142
Mr. Herbert Haygood
Mr. Haygood is a 65 year old retired railroad employee who has lived in and around Savannah most of his life. He describes the hard conditions for a black worker in the past decades. “I was working for a farmer in the county [for] eight dollars a month. Eight dollars and dinner for a month’s work.”
pp. 143 – 157
Mrs. Agnes Brigdon
Mrs. Brigdon’s father was a game warden for Henry Ford’s Plantation in Kilkenny. She remembers the place and the man “… he was just like you and I. All his money didn’t make him any different from nobody.”
pp. 158 – 168
Mrs. Betty Pruitt
Mrs. Pruitt tells of the mutual help needed during the depression years. “Everyone would help eachother and all. I can remember Momma and the lady down the street exchanging food stamps if one had what the other wanted.”
pp. 169 – 179
Mr. Ben Mitchell
He is now 65 years old, but Mr. Mitchell came to Savannah during the depression years as a young man to find construction work. “Yeah and railroad in the area as a young man. Work on Southern railraod and the Coastline roalroad… It was hard work but I was a young man.”
pp. 180 – 189
Mrs. Jones
Mrs. Jones came to Savannah in 1926 and got her first job. “The first job I had was working at Adlers on Dollar Days. You worked 12 hours for one dollar.” She talks about life in the 30’s, food stamps, and running a service station in 1945.
pp. 190 – 198
Mr. John C. Gardner
Now a retail merchant, Mr. Gardner has had many adventures. He was a member of the Army Air Corps in World War II and saw combat in North Africa and the Far East.
pp. 199 – 210
Mrs. Lucille Myer
Mrs. Myer was a W.P.A. fieldworker during the hard years of the 30’s, serving in school cafeterias.
pp. 211 – 214
Mrs. Ethel Lee Lanon
Mrs. Lanon has been in Savannah since the end of the depression. She talks about church groups in the 1940’s.
pp. 215 – 223
Mrs. Bessie Haygood
Mrs. Haygood is a black, middle-aged wife and mother who came to Savannah when segregation was at its height. “I remember the time when the boycott was on Broughton Street we would hav sin-ins there and a lot of my people was hurt. A lot of police here were brutal to them. And I didn’t like the idea of them putting gas and water hoses on our people.”
pp. 224 – 238
Mr. Robert L. Deaux
Mr. Deaux, a former Air Force officer, discusses his hobby, gem cutting.
pp. 239 – 270
Ms. Myna Lee Zeigler
Ms. Zeigler recalls the integration demonstrations in Savannah and her participation. “I didn’t lay down but if they say don’t go to a store I tried not to go…”
pp. 262 – 281
Mr. Sam Jones
Mr. Bruce Washington
Mr. Herman Johnson
Mr. Rick Morgan

This was a group interview of four Black Armstrong State College student expressing their views on the Black movement in Savannah.
pp. 271 – 281
Mr. James E. Taylor
Mr. Taylor, a black educationalist, talks about the problems of getting a higher education for blacks. “I’m afraid there is some disdain accorded to quote ‘Black Professionals’ unquote. Many people seem to engender a feeling of distrust.”
pp. 282 – 291
Mrs. Madie Dixon
During the 60’s Mrs. Dixon took part in the integration efforts in Savannah. Now a wife and mother, she comments on a hopeful future. “I would like to see more blacks come to Armstrong. I would like to see more whites attend Savannah State. I would like to see both colleges get together and be known as one here in Savannah.”
pp. 292 – 297
Mr. David Cribbs
Mr. Cribbs vividly describes his boyhood stay at Bethesda Home for Boys during the 1930’s. “Our school day was a little bit different from what you know. Our school day started about eight o’clock in the morning and we went until two in the afternoon, and then worked the rest of the day. We went to school continuously through July.”
pp. 238 – 306

Last updated: 11/18/2019