Family moves so that father can find better work opportunities
To find work, Baker's father and several of his siblings moved to Norfolk. Eventually, Blake Baker settled into a job working on a steamer that ran from Norfolk to Washington, D.C.
Citing this Excerpt
Oral History Interview with Ella Baker, April 19, 1977. Interview G-0008. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Full Text of the Excerpt
about a hundred miles from home. And he went, and a sister came to live
with my mother and father after they were married. And some of my
mother's family had already gone. She had two brothers who
were in Norfolk. One died long before I knew him, and the other had a
dairy farm out in what was called Pampistella. Most people
wouldn't know where that is at all, but it was the outskirts
and Uncle Peter had this dairy farm when I was a child.
- SUE THRASHER:
What kind of job did your father get when he went to Norfolk?
- ELLA BAKER:
I don't know what he got first, but at the point at which I
knew him he was a waiter running from Norfolk to Washington on a
steamer. That was the mode of transportation between Norfolk and
Washington even up until…. I guess I'd finished
college, almost, before they built the bridge so you could drive
from…. Norfolk is as nearly surrounded [by water] as New
York. And the Chesapeake Bay, I think there are five waters that come
together somewhere between Norfolk and Washington, because I would hear
the stories. This was a passenger ship, you see, and this was the mode
of transportation from Virginia—from that
Cape Charles-Norfolk-Portsmouth area—to Washington, D.C.
There was no way to drive; there was no railroad. During my day,
however, a branch of the Pennsylvania Railroad ran into the Cape Charles
area. But you still had to get on a boat to go from there to the
mainland of Norfolk.