Lucielle Black

Lucielle has lived in Carroll County since 1972. She shares about her experience living in Union Bridge and what is was like to be a colored person.


LUCIELLE BLACK: My name is Lucielle Black and I live in Union Bridge. And I have been here for uh, 32 years. I moved in 1972.

INTERVIEWER: Now where were you uh, born at? Could you tell us where you were born?

LUCIELLE BLACK: I was born on the outskirts of Union Bridge and it was called the, the uh Priestland, called Sam’s Creek, I’m sorry. It was Sam’s Creek and Hawk Hill Road. And that’s where I was raised as a child. And we move from there in 1936 when my father passed away. And we came to Union Bridge, my mother and um, my uh three uh of my other three siblings, which was my brother and two sisters. And we moved in with our Aunt Carry and her grandmother, and they lived here in Union Bridge.

INTERVIEWER: Could you just say uh, something about what it was like in Union Bridge at that time? You said 1932?


INTERVIEWER: 36. Could you tell us something about 1936 Union Bridge?

LUCIELLE BLACK: Well it was this– you know how the whites are with the blacks. They felt they was much better and we had to sort of be under them. And at that time, well really we didn’t know to much– didn’t know any better because whatever they said probably we practically done, or we had to do. And when we went to different things like um, the movie theater, well when we bought our tickets, well we had to go outside of the booth and go around the side and go up a long steps and see the movie. And of course the whites all they had to do just walk right in and they went as the seats go down, they just walked right down into your– into their seats, but we had the sit upstairs in a little small area.

INTERVIEWER: How about shopping in the stores? Were there uh, stores in Union Bridge at that time, downtown, or.

LUCIELLE BLACK: Oh yeah, there were stores. There were stores. And one of our main stores was Ingles up here on the corner where the Pizza Hut is now. And he had everything in there and that’s where most of the blacks did most of their shopping because you get everything in there from meats to whatever, clothing.

INTERVIEWER: Now as a uh, a young lady uh, going up in Union Bridge, uh, job opportunities, working, uh, was there things available to you?

LUCIELLE BLACK: Well I’m sure it was but right at that time when I moved in here I was about only nine years old, so I wasn’t in the working force then, because when we moved to town I was nine.

INTERVIEWER: And uh, well at nine years old, what uh, what’s one of your, uh, good memories of being nine years old, as far as like playing. Uh, you know, having friends, neighbors, uh, did you uh, your neighbors and stuff like that.

LUCIELLE BLACK: Oh yeah we had a very nice time playing with them, the girls that I went to school with. And you know, we just played dodge ball and we pitched horseshoes and we did all those things. We had a very nice time, and then of course we went to church and went to Sunday school. And it, it was really nice, we had a very nice– I had a very nice childhood. But, but with the blacks at that time, we was always in the back. You had to go around back to do things and you have to, wherever you went at, and if you went in the store, no sooner you got your things, whatever you wanted, you had to come right out. You couldn’t sit down or hardly talk to anybody. You had to get your bag and go.

INTERVIEWER: Now did church play a big part? I– I hear people talk about how church uh played a big part as far as socializing and, and things like that.

LUCIELLE BLACK: Oh yes. Yes they did. They did. They played the, the very big part. Yes, so they had picnics and socials and, and vacation bible school when school was over, and that was very nice for us.

INTERVIEWER: How about school? Where did you go to school at and uh, your teachers, could you tell us a little bit about that?

LUCIELLE BLACK: School. Well now we went to school this was about a– it’s about two miles out of Union Bridge. And it was a one-room school. Most the time we walked to school, but we could ride on the bus, which was driven by Mr. Howard Davis and we had to pay $0.05 to ride. But uh, that’s what he called– charged us to ride the school bus. And we’d– and of course we always got there earlier before school opened and we could play and all that in the school and outside the school before it, you know, was time to go into class. And of course our janitor during that time was Boney Green and he always had the floor nice and hot when we had– it was real nice in school. And uh, we did that.

INTERVIEWER: And your teachers?

LUCIELLE BLACK: And my teachers, oh the two teachers I had was Helen Causly and Jane Rifle. And, and they were very good teachers. And everything was fine. And it actually was– it was first to seventh grade, and it was all in one school from first grade, well, you know. We set– when one class was having their teaching, well we had to do our work or be quiet. And that’s what it was and this one room school had seven sch– seven uh, seven grades from the first to the seventh. And then you graduated to high school, which we went to Robert Moton.

INTERVIEWER: Now what was some of the things you uh, going back to uh, the stores and stuff in Union Bridge, uh did you shop for groc– groceries and you said in, in the, uh–

LUCIELLE BLACK: Yes I was– we shopped for groceries but I cannot exactly remember shopping at any grocery store other than up here at Ingles. And that, like I said, that was a, a convenient family store which sold everything. But I can’t remember going to any clothing store or a grocery store.

INTERVIEWER: OK. Well, how about some of your neighbors? Could you tell us something about some of your neighbors, I mean who you had, uh, as neighbors growing up here in, in Union Bridge?

LUCIELLE BLACK: Well we had the Dowry family, that was Miss Edna and her family, and we were very close to them. And then I knew the Milberry’s, which was Dorothy Brown’s aunt and her grandmother because I used to go to her house practically every day, to Miss Annie Milburn’s house and play with– Dorothy and I would play. So I remember them very well. And I don’t know that there’s anybody else I can recall or not. And then I knew Miss Minnie Walker and uh Gloria, her daughter Gloria. We were very close friends. But I can’t recall anyone else.

And then like I said, we was out on the creek called Sam’s Creek. We went to their church, the Gospels Spreading Church. I don’t know what church that was called then, before that. But then we used to go to Sunday School out there and I knew all those neighbors. Mr. Clay Smith and his family and Christine Jones and Danny Jones and all those– Emma and all those people out there.

INTERVIEWER: And I understand you have an interesting story about your father and the buggy when he was a young child. Yes, my um, father had– he had three uh, ways of transportation. He had a spring wagon, which he drove to work, but he worked at Lehigh. And then he had a buggy, which was a two-seated buggy. And then he had a surrey and this surrey was the, the uh, our transportation on Sundays when we went to church.

And course, back in those days when you went to church in the morning sometimes you stayed all day because they had different things in the afternoon and you didn’t come home till evening. Well of course we would play and what have you. As– as you know, as children the minute you get in the car or get into a buggy or get someplace and start riding on your way home, you’d go to sleep. So I would go to sleep when I– as soon as I got in the car, in the buggy and so would my sisters and brothers. But when it was time to– when we got home and time we got out of the car, out of the buggy, surrey rather, that uh, he would– she would call, my mother would call and went to the back get up now, it’s almost– we’re home. And they would get up and hop out of the car, uh hop out of the buggy and go on in the– and start in the House. And I wouldn’t get out of the buggy because I said I couldn’t– I’m sleeping, I can’t walk. And they had to– my father had to carry me in and they would get so angry because they had to walk, I had to be carried in. And I would do that all the time.

So that was a lot of fun too, because, well I really was sleepy. And I just said I’m not going to, I’m not going to walk so I cried and kicked and stomped and all that canter that you do, you know, when you’re a child. And then I was carried in. So when you get carried in all the time, we’ve got to walk. So that was, that was, I could– that stayed with me. You know, a lot of things, when you’re young, will stay with you and some things won’t.

So sometimes I couldn’t remember hardly anything. And as a child growing up– because when my father passed away, I was only nine years old. And so many things at nine I can’t even remember. Well it’s been such a long time ago because see my father passed in 1936 and I can’t remember that far back.

INTERVIEWER: Um, I heard mention also of, is it your grandfather, great grandfather that was in the Civil War?

LUCIELLE BLACK: No, I don’t know.

INTERVIEWER: The harp gentleman?

LUCIELLE BLACK: Well, maybe my grandfather was. So I really don’t know even– I don’t even know that.

INTERVIEWER: Could you tell us something about the clothes that the uh, ladies wore uh, when you were growing up that you remember?

LUCIELLE BLACK: Well the most of the ladies wore long skirts or long dresses and then when they did their, their housework, they always had an apron. Years back, they always wore apron. Whenever they, uh, cooked or anything there was an apron. That apron was as long as a dress and it was tied in a sash in the back and everything was nice and starched and stiff.

You know, they, their clothes they kept nice because they washed them and they washed them in two sets of waters, the blue one and then the other rinse water. They starched them, they made their own homemade starch. And they were just always so nice and bright and clear and pretty. It wasn’t this wash and wear like we have now, because nowadays I don’t think there’s too many people that iron. They usually have the wash and wear clothes, but the clothes that you would iron looked so nice when that came out and wore them.

Because people would get uh, uh, two or three baskets of clothes where they would sprinkle them, put fold them down in a basket, and then sit at the ironing board and iron all day long. And the clothes looked so nice. Now there are people don’t know what an ironing board look like because I don’t hardly myself.

INTERVIEWER: You say women always wore a hat on Sunday to church?

LUCIELLE BLACK: Oh, yes. Everybody, every lady in church had on a hat. Now I go to church and hardly anybody has a hat on their head but me. But I like my hats and I wear them. OK. And so, and then also with our hair we had to have someone to straighten it and curl it, and, and it wasn’t perms and what have you then. And course that would only last a couple of weeks and then it would go back to the normal, normal texture. And you had to get it done over again and that was a long process because when your hair was wet, well, pragmatically it kind of draw to your head. And it took a lot to get it straightened out, and then they curled it. But when it was done it looked very, very nice.

INTERVIEWER: I know uh, Union Bridge was a train town like a lot of the towns in Carroll County. Could you say something about the trains that, that came to town?

LUCIELLE BLACK: Yes, because the trains, when they ran, well most a lot of the people that worked, well that was their transportation for getting to Westminster. A lot of the people worked in Westminster, especially my sister, Lillian. Well she worked in Westminster and she rode the train, the 8 o’clock train in the morning and came back in the evening. And then I think it came back, I don’t know whether it came back five or six in the evening, but I know it left here at four in the evening if you wanted to Westminster at 4 o’clock or be down there by five or six, and then we’d come back about seven.

But in the morning we’d go around about 8 o’clock, and a lot of the people that worked, well that’s how they got their transportation. Because a lot of people back in when I first moved to Union Bridge, they didn’t drive. Because it was– years ago nobody drove but the men. The women didn’t know, know anything about driving because they didn’t want to drive. But the men took the women everywhere they went.

So nowadays it’s different. The women go on their own. But a lot of people years back didn’t even drive because the man figured that was their job, that they take you where you want to go. And if they feel you couldn’t– didn’t want to– want you there, well you stayed home because they had to take you, or what have you. So it was a man’s world way back, but now it’s both sides.

INTERVIEWER: What do you like most, or what did you like most about growing up in Carroll County and what’s some of the things that you liked the least about growing up in Carroll County? Could you talk about that a little bit?

LUCIELLE BLACK: Yes. Well now growing up in Carroll County, I think I liked everything uh, that went on because I didn’t know what was going to come up next because uh, this is what we knew from, from childhood, from birth. And of course now when these leaders are out now making things better for the blacks, well it wasn’t like that back then. There wasn’t nobody to come forward and say like the Martin Luther King did and all those men that say that we were going to break the barrier. And we just had to deal with what we had. And it was just– it was just the same as everyday life to us. Because you know, we didn’t have all this years back and say going to do this and we’re going to– which is great because I think it’s wonderful what these men have done for us. It’s, it’s been great, but years back was none of that said. Nobody come– stepped up to the plate. Now does that make sense?