Category Archives: Oral History

Mimi (Sister Marie) Bodell

You know what was really touching? The night during the election [of President Barack Obama]. . . .I can’t tell you how many Emmaus House volunteers called me and then I called one or two saying, “Can you believe it? Did you ever think we would live to see this day?” We were all connected at that election, forty years later. Someone called me and said, “Well, you must feel that your work is really done now.” . . . I thought it was also unbelievable that all of us, like ten of us or more, were all on the phone with each other. We don’t see each other that much, but there was no time difference. It was just this moment, and there was this feeling that all our work had helped elect our first African American president. We were bursting with pride for our new president. Read more »

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Grace Stone

Grace StoneThen Muriel [Lokey] I think again asked me if I would be interested in this new project that they were starting, which was going to be the Poverty Rights Office. This was partly the inspiration from the Welfare Rights Organization headed by the wonderful and inimitable Mrs. [Ethel Mae] Mathews. What happened was that, as I remember the story, Austin or somebody—it might have been a woman named Petie Cayson, who was not there very long. But somebody persuaded the Welfare Department to put in, with one of the welfare checks, a statement from Emmaus House saying to them, in effect: If you have trouble with the Welfare Department, if you need help with something, just here’s our telephone number. Call us up, and we’ll see what we can do to help you. Read more »

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Dennis Goldstein

I think in the beginning [Father Austin Ford] said, “you’re gonna work on this and this and this, but then if you have other free time, develop your own program. Figure out something to do for the community.” I became a self starter. That didn’t work for a lot of people, but for me it was a great opportunity. So an early example of that was with the kids—let’s figure out how to get a better playground. Read more »

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Susan W. Taylor

This oral history is available as a PDF file. LEEANN LANDS: Would you would introduce yourself and tell me your … Read more »

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Albert E. (Ned) Stone, Jr.

I remember Four Corners Park back before it was anything, when it was just a bare red clay lot with a couple of basketball court. And I remember being 14 and wanting to play basketball with the neighborhood kids and being a little bit intimidated. You’ve probably heard that Four Corners got its name from one of our staffers back then by the name of Dennis Goldstein (who’s now with Legal Aid). Four Corners became his nickname because it was a popular dance which he thought he could do, but he absolutely could not. [Laughs.] Read more »

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Arlesia Tutman

Maybe about five years ago everybody used to could go in the community center get on the computers, play pinball, play basketball, everything, but now it’s like there’s only a certain amount of people allowed in there. If you’re not in school, you only can come use the computer if you’re enrolled in their after school program. You can’t go inside the center unless you work there. Read more »

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Silva Griggs Britt

Oh, I love Peoplestown. I love seeing the ladybugs that I don’t see anymore, and the butterflies, and the streets, and all the kids out in the streets playing—just jumping rope, hopscotch, mother may I, Simon says—and the girls dancing, you know. Read more »

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David Morath

I was very much a jack-of-all-trades. The Poverty Rights Office was just getting under way with Muriel Lokey at that time. But a lot of the kind of work that they did, we did on a walk-in basis: somebody’s electricity was cut off, somebody needed to apply for welfare or get Social Security benefits, somebody was having a housing issue, all sorts of things like that, and we’d just go out and do. Read more »

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Mimi (Sister Marie) Bodell

One memory I have is John Armstrong, a senior at St. Pius X [Catholic] High School, shoveling debris from the second floor in the main house, shoveling it over the banister down to the first floor. I heard him saying to another teenager, “I really think this is what religion is all about.” Read more »

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Tom and Debbie Shields Erdmanczyk

Emmaus House filled that gap….we had buses going from Thomasville to McKlatchy Elementary from Leila Valley and Inglewood projects to Morris Brandon. Read more »

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