Second Interview Insert Key
Introduction of Interviewers
Can you please state and spell your name?
Dade, F-L-O-Y-D, Floyd, D-A-D-E, Dade.
Can you please introduce yourself.
I'm Floyd Dade. I was born in Texarkana, Texas, raised in Texarkana, Arkansas, and drafted into the US Army my senior year of 1943. I went into an armoured division when I was drafted. I went to Fort Knox, Kentucky to get my tank training. From there, we came to Camp Hood—Fort Hood now—and took our advanced training. I was with the 761st Tank Battalion.
I got discharged after World War II in 1946. I got discharged in California, I got discharged and stayed in California with my sister. I had to finish my schooling. I went to City College and also to Elkhart, Indiana to finish my high school and get my college degree. After that I came back to San Francisco and that's where I started living after I got a job here as a ____ologist.
What is your earliest memory?
Do you remember anything else about your early school life and friends?
Elementary school–I was a good softball player. I loved to play softball and do the other sports when I was in the sixth grade and higher. Then I went on to be an excellent football player in high school, and baseball and softball.
What was your family life like when you were a child?
Family life? It was great. My mother and father—down south, he had a good job during the Depression—he worked with KCS Railroad. He had a lot of money coming in, about twenty-five dollars a week, and that was a lot of money. My mother was a farm girl. She kept the gardens. We had plenty fresh vegetables and everything. She fed the whole neighborhood when people ran short on groceries and so forth.
Did you have any siblings?
What were their names?
Did you get along with them?
What else can you tell us about your mother?
About my mother? She did all of the licking, as a matter of fact she did all of the discipline. My father, he worked all the time, so she wasn't like the rest of the families: "I'll tell your father when he get home." She took care of the situation, "Johnnie-on-the-spot."
Do you have any specific memories about your mother, things she might have done for you that were memorable?
Yes, my mother she was a great lady. She didn't only raise us, she raised the neighborhood kids also. What she did at that time during the Depression, there was a lot of poor people, they weren’t as fortunate as we were. So my mother would make sure that they had plenty of food to eat. She'd make sure that they had clothing on their backs, and she made sure that they had a place to stay. I will say this, at her funeral, there was an old lady about ninety years of age—my mother died at seventy-five—she said, "This lady is my mother." She said, "What she did—I got tired of her coming by—I didn't get tired of her coming by, but she always wanted to know if I had enough groceries. She would get out of her truck, she'd come in the house and she would look in my cabinets and see what did I need and she would bring it to me, that she thought that I would need." So she had a mother figure, that lady at that age.
She had recreation for all of the high school kids—that we'd call hay rides and dances. She would sell ice cream and hot dogs and hamburgers. Nobody had the nickel or dime for the hamburgers or ice cream, but everybody ate ice cream and hamburgers.
What else can you tell us about the Depression and how it influenced your early life?
Being a kid, the Depression, it didn't affect my early life in a way that I remember because as a kid, all you know is your full every night and some people didn't have that privilege. We had nice clothing, the mother, she was able to sew. That was just about it.
Can you describe your high school?
My high school–the transition from elementary to high school–the kids are bigger when you go there with larger kids. You always have someone there, what they call "the bully." We had old Jake. We would fight our bully. He was trying to protect his territory and then we are coming in on his territory was a guy called Chuck. They would fight every morning going to school. On campus, everybody get together for the fight. But Chuck, he finally won. Jake, he stayed in the fifth grade I guess, about six years. That’s when they had, the old saying said, the reason they put him out in fifth grade because he wouldn't shave.
I went on to high school. Then I learned how to play football, baseball. The math and everything was getting a little bit tough, and the English and everything. But those black teachers, they really made us study hard. They didn't take any foolishness, like the kids do nowadays in school. Those black professors and teachers—the old principal, he'd put his foot in your behind, and if you didn't like it, you'd go home and tell you mother, then she would get on you. So you'd just keep your mouth shut and go and do what you had to do.
Did you enjoy school?
When the school became integrated, the black students, they lost all that image because they laid off a lot of the black teachers, then they integrated. The white teachers didn't know how to handle those black students.
How did segregation affect your high school experience?
Equal but separate. That meant we got all of the second hand books when the white schools had used them. Then when they were upgraded, the white students would get the new books, and we would get the used books. That went all the way down the line. If that's separate but equal, I don't think so. Like our football uniforms and everything, we got the used ones from the white schools because we wasn't able to buy our own uniforms. But yet still we put out a lot of good football players and basketball, and other players like that.
Can you take us back to when your school was integrated, where you in high school?
Talk about this experience of segregation in high school.
I went to Washington High School, that was a black school, black teachers and everybody. We had a football team, all black. Then the white school, Arkansas High, they would come to our football games and we would go to theirs. When I went to the integrated school, we practiced football together and got on the same teams. As a matter of fact, the Army was integrated in '46, right after the war and I played football on an all white football team. Also, when I came to the states in '45, to reenlist, I played football at Fort Bliss, Texas. I was the only black on the team. So I just went in there and integrated myself. I was good enough, so they excepted me and I played.
Did you play against white schools?
Not officially. The white kids in the neighborhood—we were surrounded. I'll say this for example: we're down by the tracks, and they were up on the hills, they would come down, the kids—kids are wonderful—and we'd come down and we would play football and basketball and baseball. Over at this grocery store on Dudley, about eight or ten old white men would sit there chewing tobacco, watching us playing and spitting and going on. Then when we got to be around thirteen or fourteen, they said, "Well, you boys can't play like that anymore. You got to cut it out." So we didn't know what it meant, just figured they didn't want us to play, but the kids were doing wonderfully.
Were there any tensions or anything unique about playing against white kids?
No. We just played harder. They were tough and we were tough. We all was equal, we were just kids playing having a lot of fun. And you come out with a bloody nose, all you do is get up and rub it and smile and go back and try it again. And we got along very good. Kind of like when we was fighting, you know. We fought together, we died together and everything. I mean we could do everything together. I don't know where they got this prejudice from.
Was there a time where you did have a problem or a fight with a white kid because you guys were different races?
Can you recall any instances of struggle during your childhood with racism or depression?
With racism and depression and to get food on the table—I was a kid. My parents went through all that. I didn't have a chance to experience it because I was in school. What my parents had to do—I didn't have any problems with discrimination, because we had a car and my father had a good job—he worked for the railroad company, and he was paid good. My mother was a housewife, and she raised us and a lot of other kids in the neighborhood. She had gardens and everything—picture gardens—and then she would also feed a lot of the neighbors in the neighborhood. They didn't have welfare, but she took that role in helping the neighbors.