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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Ella Baker, April 19, 1977. Interview G-0008. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

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

It was 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.