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Title: Oral History Interview with Josephine Turner, June 7, 1976. Interview H-0235-2. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Electronic Edition.
Author: Turner, Josephine, interviewee
Interview conducted by Sindelar, Karen
Funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this interview.
Text encoded by Jennifer Joyner
Sound recordings digitized by Aaron Smithers Southern Folklife Collection
First edition, 2007
Size of electronic edition: 252 Kb
Publisher: The University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
2007.
© This work is the property of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It may be used freely by individuals for research, teaching and personal use as long as this statement of availability is included in the text.
The electronic edition is a part of the UNC-Chapel Hill digital library, Documenting the American South.
Languages used in the text: English
Revision history:
2007-00-00, Celine Noel, Wanda Gunther, and Kristin Martin revised TEIHeader and created catalog record for the electronic edition.
2007-05-17, Jennifer Joyner finished TEI-conformant encoding and final proofing.
Source(s):
Title of recording: Oral History Interview with Josephine Turner, June 7, 1976. Interview H-0235-2. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series H. Piedmont Industrialization. Southern Oral History Program Collection (H-0235-2)
Author: Karen Sindelar
Title of transcript: Oral History Interview with Josephine Turner, June 7, 1976. Interview H-0235-2. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series H. Piedmont Industrialization. Southern Oral History Program Collection (H-0235-2)
Author: Josephine Turner
Description: 190 Mb
Description: 67 p.
Note: Interview conducted on June 7, 1976, by Karen Sindelar; recorded in Durham, North Carolina.
Note: Transcribed by Patricia Crowley.
Note: Forms part of: Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Series H. Piedmont Industrialization, Manuscripts Department, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Note: Original transcript on deposit at the Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Editorial practices
An audio file with the interview complements this electronic edition.
The text has been entered using double-keying and verified against the original.
The text has been encoded using the recommendations for Level 4 of the TEI in Libraries Guidelines.
Original grammar and spelling have been preserved.
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Interview with Josephine Turner, June 7, 1976.
Interview H-0235-2. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Turner, Josephine, interviewee


Interview Participants

    JOSEPHINE TURNER, interviewee
    KAREN SINDELAR, interviewer

[TAPE 1, SIDE A]


Page 1
[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]
KAREN SINDELAR:
Now Mrs. Turner, can you tell me when and where you were born?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
I was born in Durham, North Carolina, 906 Glendale Avenue.
KAREN SINDELAR:
And what year were you born?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
1927.
KAREN SINDELAR:
OK. Did you know your grandparents? Were they around when you were born?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes. I had a great-grandfather that lived to be 112; I knew him. And I had a grandmother. I knew her, my one grandmother, and my grandfather.
KAREN SINDELAR:
You said it was your great-grandfather who lived to be 112.
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Right, my mother's grandfather.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Now how about your mother's mother and father?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
No, they had died before that.
KAREN SINDELAR:
And how about your father's mother and father?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Well, my father's mother, I knew her. She died in '42, and I was about thirteen, I think, when she died.
KAREN SINDELAR:
What would she do? Did she live with you?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
No, she worked in a factory. She had her own house, you know. I lived with my mother and father. She worked at Liggett-Myers factory. But I was at her house every day, because we just lived a block apart.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Oh, right. So you saw a lot of her?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Oh yes. She was my favorite person.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Really? Why was that?

Page 2
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Well, one thing … as I say, she was hard on us, you know. I couldn't see it then, but now I realize what she was doing. One thing, she'd buy us fifteen cents' worth of candy a week. And I thought that was great, because at that time fifteen cents' worth of candy was a whole lot of candy. And we looked forward to Fridays, you know, and getting that bag of candy.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Did she give bags of candy to all the children?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
No, just to grandchildren. One thing, she made us stay in church. We was raised in church; you know, we had Sunday School, morning service, BYTU and night service.
KAREN SINDELAR:
BYTU?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
BYTU: Baptist Youth Training Union or something like that; I forget now what it is. [Laughter] They don't have it now too much in the churches; they have the evening service. Well, she was just one of those people.
KAREN SINDELAR:
So she was the person who really kept you going to church rather than your parents?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
No. My mother was a great influence in my life. But I was just saying my grandmother, you know, she was just… Everybody says I'm just like her; I don't know. That's where I took my aggressiveness from.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Why do they say you're like her? I mean, in what way?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Because of my aggressiveness. My mother was a quiet person. My grandmother, when she believed in something she fought for it, you know; she spoke out for it. That's the way I am.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Can you remember any specific things that she did speak out for?

Page 3
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Well, they wouldn't be important, no more than that she was always for the underdog. She didn't allow anybody to … you know, like somebody like a bully would try to take advantage of a smaller person. She would always be there.
KAREN SINDELAR:
I was just wondering if she had been involved in any workers' things?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
No, nothing but just working in the factory, and in the church. She had her favorite seat in the church, and she would ask people to get up out of it. [Laughter]
KAREN SINDELAR:
[Laughter] That was her seat, in other words.
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
That was her seat in church. And when she passed they put a wreath on that seat, you know.
KAREN SINDELAR:
So how long did she live, then? When did she die?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
She died in '42, April in '42.
KAREN SINDELAR:
So you were about fifteen when she died?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Thirteen when she died.
KAREN SINDELAR:
I see, OK. That's interesting. And you say you lived with your parents then. What did your parents do?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
My father was a cement finisher, and my mother just worked at home. She had a rooming house. I've been working since I was about eight years old; that's when I started cooking, because she had a rooming house. And when Camp Butner was being built, you know… And she done a lot of washing and ironing. That's why I don't iron today; I had to iron all the time when I was small.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Oh, well wait a second now. She actually kept people in the house, roomers who were working on Camp Butner? Was that it?

Page 4
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes. When Camp Butner was being built and even before Camp Butner was being built she had a rooming house, and then washing and ironing.
KAREN SINDELAR:
For outside people or for the people in the house?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes, for the outside people.
KAREN SINDELAR:
So you'd have to help with the washing and ironing?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes. The day would begin at three o'clock in the morning and end at night. So I don't iron at all now. I won't even pick up an iron.
KAREN SINDELAR:
[Laughter] I don't blame you. Three in the morning she'd begin?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
She would be out washing at three o'clock in the morning.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Washing and ironing. And you said you also had to do a lot of cooking when you were young?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Was that for the boarders mainly?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Boarders, right.
KAREN SINDELAR:
When did you start cooking? You said about eight?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Well, we started breakfast about 6:30, because they had to be at work sometimes at seven or eight. Then we had to fix their lunches, you know. In those days a balogna sandwich was, well, met with… You know, people don't eat them now like they did then. Then we had to cook supper when I wasn't in school. And when I'd come from school we'd have to work with the people, and then iron at night. So, I mean, I come up on the rough side of the mountain, you know. I hear young people now say they're tired; they don't even know what working is.
KAREN SINDELAR:
They don't know what it's like, do they? So it sounds like your Mom worked pretty hard too?

Page 5
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Oh, she did. She worked all her life 'til she got sick. She had a stroke and it put her down. She was sick for six years. She just died in 1970, my mother did.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Who took care of her after she had her stroke? Did you take care of her?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes, I kept her right here at home until she had her last stroke New Year's Day in 1970. She went into a coma that night; she stayed in a coma for three months. So I had no alternative but to put her in the hospital, and in the last month they put her in a home. I would have kept her at home, but they said it would cost me sixty dollars a day for nursing around the clock, and I didn't have that kind of money.
KAREN SINDELAR:
So you did a lot of work as a child, then, it sounds like. Did you have any brothers and sisters?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
I have one whole brother. My mother raised a lot of foster children.
KAREN SINDELAR:
You mean like from Social Services or something like that, or just kids from the neighborhood?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Some of the kids got put out of home and my mother took them in. I had several several young ladies that could have been my sisters and brothers, but there's not but two of us whole. I have one half-brother; by my father's first wife he had one son. But by my mother there's not but two of us whole. But I do have three adopted sisters. The ones my mother raised, well they called her mother and they called me sister, but they are just as close as sisters.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Why did your mother take in the children?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Well, my mother was always for the underdog. You know, anybody

Page 6
that she felt was homeless or [unknown], she'd feed them. She never met any strangers. She always was taking people in. It didn't matter the color of their skin or whatever. I've seen her feed as many whites as blacks. She didn't have any preference. She'd say, "Well, they're hungry;" she'd feed them. And this was their second home.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Well, were these [foster sisters] some kids who were children of friends or relatives, or just kids?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes, they was friends. You know, some of them girls'd have babies young and didn't want them, or something of this nature.
KAREN SINDELAR:
So she'd take in the baby? Oh.
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes, she'd take them in as babies and raised them. She had one that she took in when she was about fifteen; her father put her out, and my mother took her and raised her from there. She lives in Virginia now.
KAREN SINDELAR:
I mean, but the other two were younger when she took them in?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes, they were babies when my mother took them. And she raised them. One lives in New York, and one lives out here on the Apex highway.
KAREN SINDELAR:
So how old were you when she started taking in some of your foster sisters?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Well, one of them is four years older than I am.
KAREN SINDELAR:
She took her in before you were ever born?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes. She took her in when she was three weeks old. And this other one she took in when she was about three years old. She took her in about '41, when I was grown. This other one, she took her in when I was young; I can't remember the year.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Did they help along with you with all the cooking and the washing?

Page 7
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Oh yes, yes, when they was at home. All of us had to.
KAREN SINDELAR:
You had a real gang there working. [Laughter]
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Oh yes.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Did you get along well?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Oh yes, yes. Well, as kids we all fought teeth and tongue, and fall out sometimes. We'd fight like the rest of them, you know, but we always stayed close. We never had a fight where we couldn't make it up. And we didn't speak maybe a day or two; we'd get together before the week was up. In fact, our mother and grandmother had a policy: if she couldn't stop us from fighting she'd put us outdoors and make us fight. And she said that the first one that cried, that's the one that got the whupping. And when we got through she'd make us kiss and make up, irregardless of how.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Wait a second. The first one who cried would be the one who got a whupping? To teach you to be tough, eh?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Right, yes, because she wanted us to stop fighting. And we would keep nitpicking, you know, and hitting. So she said, "OK, if you've got to fight, come on." She'd make us get outdoors in the backyard, and she'd make us fight. And she said, "Now the first one that cries, that's the one that gets the whupping." So naturally we wouldn't cry; you know, the water would be running, but we wouldn't cry out.
KAREN SINDELAR:
[Laughter] Who won those fights? Did you win many of them?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Oh, sometimes it was a toss-up. [Laughter] Then when we got through they'd make us kiss and make up. Like I tell my kids sometimes now, I say, "OK, I'll make you kiss and make up." And one would say, "All right." They'd say, "Oh no." I said, "Oh yes you will." [Laughter]

Page 8
KAREN SINDELAR:
That's amazing. But overall, though, you got along pretty well?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Oh yes, oh yes. We never had any controversy.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Did you have any other relatives who lived with you?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
No, just my mother and father. My father died when we was young, when I was twelve, and so my mother raised us mostly by herself. And she taught us to work. Recently I've had all my grandchildren here. I'm going to remodel as soon as I get all of them out of the house. [Laughter] I've finally got them. My daughter just had another baby the thirteenth of this month; she's in Montana now. And I have a lot of her [unknown] so I'm going to try to get it out of here.
KAREN SINDELAR:
You say your father died when you were twelve. What was it like when he was still alive? Did your mother and father get along OK?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Beautiful … well, as people did in those days. He thought he was the boss of the house; she let him think that. But my mother was the strong one. My father was the old-time believer; he didn't spare the rod and spoil the child. But he let my mother raise us, mostly. But, I mean, when he spoke we knew it.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Why types of things was he the boss over?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Well, he was the one when he was working… Now my father was disabled too in his last years of life, and he was paralyzed. So that's why we had to work so hard. But, you know, we'd mind him, no more than he'd say he was the boss of the house. But you know how men are; they say they're the boss, but the woman runs the house. So he wasn't boss of nothing much.
KAREN SINDELAR:
But when he did say something you'd mind him?

Page 9
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Oh, we would mind him, yes; we always had respect for him—not like kids today. Kids don't have respect for their parents. But right today at my age I respect people older than I am; that's the way I was brought up. Even if I don't agree with them I won't argue with them; I'll walk away from them, unless I'm debating on some issue that I feel like I'm right. Then I'll stand there and talk to them 'til I tire. [Laughter]
KAREN SINDELAR:
So you say that he was disabled in the later years of his life. Was he around the house more then?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes. But he worked some part-time. He drove for the Lipscombs, and gathered and collected rent with them. And when he died I took over and drove for them until I got married.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Wait a second. You drove for who, for Lipscomb?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Mrs. W. Lipscomb; that's what they was then. I helped them collect rent 'til I got married in '40. See, I married when I was fifteen.
KAREN SINDELAR:
OK, now you're getting ahead of me. Did you say it was Mrs. W. Lipscomb?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
It was Mr. and Mrs.
KAREN SINDELAR:
And what was that? Was it a company?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
No, they just owned houses. He used to be with Lipscomb and Gaddy; there was a store here named Lipscomb and Gaddy. I don't know what happened. Before I even started driving for him he was out of that. But he owned a lot of houses here in Durham, and I used to collect rent with them and for them.
KAREN SINDELAR:
When you say driving for them, you mean…
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Chauffeured.

Page 10
KAREN SINDELAR:
Oh, you'd chauffeur for them. Chauffering them around when they were collecting the rents and stuff like that.
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes, chauffeur around and collect the rent, and then a lot of times go out to Virginia and different places.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Was that unusual, for them to have a woman chauffeur?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Right, especially a black woman at that time. I was the first, you might say.
KAREN SINDELAR:
The only person you knew of.
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes. My father fell dead in their backyard. We lived just in hollering distance; they lived on up there and we lived down. Well, our house and their house just had a fence that separated them. And my father went up there to go to work one morning, and they was eating breakfast and he fell off the porch with a hemorrhage and passed in their backyard. So they started me driving them when I was about fourteen.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Did they have such things as driver's licenses then?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes. But at that time they didn't know that I drove around about six years without a driver's licence, because I was a good driver and they'd never… It wasn't like it is now. And when I did go to get my driver's licence Mr. Dunlap was living then, and he said, "You've been driving all these years without a licence?" I said, "Yes." He said, "Well…" All I done was drove around the block; then he gave me my licence, 'cause he knew I had been all out of town and everywhere. I started driving at fourteen, and I got my licence when I was about eighteen or something like that. [Laughter]
KAREN SINDELAR:
So you drove all that time without a licence and you never got caught at all?

Page 11
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
I never even got a ticket; I've never had a wreck. The onliest ticket I ever got is where I parked—you know, go in a store and stay too long. But I never got a speeding ticket, and I've never had a wreck. And every mark on my car, somebody else has put it on there. [Laughter]
KAREN SINDELAR:
You never had any problems. [Laughter] So then you started driving for them when you were about fourteen. Was that your first paying job that you had?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Right.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Before then you had mainly done work at home?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes, I just stayed home, and whatever she'd give me to do. If she'd give me a dollar a week that would be… Kids wouldn't work now. I know some of them wouldn't do it for twenty dollars a day, let alone… [Laughter] If I got a dollar a week I thought I was in glory.
KAREN SINDELAR:
So she couldn't always give you a dollar a week?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
No, no.
KAREN SINDELAR:
It Just depended on how much money there was?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Because there wasn't any such thing as welfare or social security then; you know, you didn't have them that far back. And I'm glad in a way, because it taught me to work. I've been working all my life.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Well that's sort of interesting, though: you said that you were the first black woman chauffeur around.
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
In Durham that I know of.
KAREN SINDELAR:
How did they feel about hiring you? Was there any problem with the Lipscombs? Did they want to hire you?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
No, no. They knew me, and they knew my family, and we stayed

Page 12
in the same neighborhood.
KAREN SINDELAR:
They were right next door to you, you said? Farther up the hill?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Farther up the hill. We lived in the same neighborhood and all. They knew me, and they knew I was honest. Everybody said I was honest and I'd never had any trouble. And they would send me to the bank every Monday with the money—Tuesdays, rather, 'cause we had to collect rent on Mondays. And they knew I was raised up to be honest. I don't take anything that don't belong to me, and I try to teach that to my children. I said, "If you want it, ask for it; don't take it." [interruption]
KAREN SINDELAR:
OK. I think one thing we've skipped over or you haven't mentioned anything about it is your schooling. Were you going to school all the time?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes. I went to school, East End School; then I went to Hillside School.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Hillside? I taught at Hillside.
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes, well that's my school.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Did East End go all the way up through eighth grade?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
No, it went to sixth grade.
KAREN SINDELAR:
And then you started Hillside in seventh grade?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Right.
KAREN SINDELAR:
And did you finish at Hillside?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
No, I quit school in the ninth grade, 'cause I got married when I was fifteen. I'm (what would you say?) self-taught; I've done a lot of reading. Well, I've just read everything.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Well, as long as you can read you can certainly teach yourself.

Page 13
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
[Laughter] Yes.
KAREN SINDELAR:
The important thing is to know how to read in the first place, I think.
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Right. Gregory, can't read his handwriting. We had to learn to read. I can't write either, as far as that's concerned, but I'm talking about reading. You know, the old folks made us; that was a must. There wasn't any such thing as television, as you may know, [Laughter] in them days, and it was get that homework before you done anything else; that was the main thing.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Did your mother emphasize that?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes, and my grandmother especially. But we would come in from school. Our first thing we had to do, we had to make a fire. There was no such thing as electric stoves and all; we had to make fires, put the sweet potatoes on (you know, that was a little ritual with us) to bake. And if there was leftovers we'd put them on to heat. Then we'd start the dinner and the older folks would finish it when they got home. Well, we had to carry in wood, bring in the coal, do our other little chores that we didn't do. Well, the beds was made before we left home; that was a must. And we had to wash dishes if we didn't get them done that morning. Then after dinner homework, and wash dishes first; that was the ritual. Then we had to get our homework; then we could play. There wasn't such things as jack rocks; we had rocks we used to play jack rocks with. And if there were peanuts we played jack in the bush.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Jack in the bush? What was that?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
[Laughter] A game we played with peanuts; it's kind of hard to explain it, you know. Then we would play checkers or chinese checkers,

Page 14
things of this nature.
KAREN SINDELAR:
This was all after you had done your homework, though?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Oh yes, the homework was first. Well, on Sundays there wasn't any such thing as the movies; they didn't admire us to go to movies on Sundays.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Why was that? Because it was Sunday?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Their religious beliefs on Sundays, you know. After we would come from church, eat dinner and wash our dishes we could go and ride bicycles, skate and play on the ground, rolling, things of this nature. But no movies. Then we were back in church at five o'clock or six o'clock, whatever it would be, for BYTU and night service.
KAREN SINDELAR:
You'd go to church twice on Sundays?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Oh yes, that was a must: Sunday school, morning service, that BYTU and the night service.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Were you active in the organizations in the church when you were young?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes, scouting, and all the things. In those days they didn't have as much as they have now, but whatever they had (the little choir or whatever) we were there in it. This was a must.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Was your family sort of a mainstay in the church?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes, my grandmother especially. And my poor mother, she worked so hard she didn't go to church like my grandmother did. She went, but she worked so hard. But we was raised that you done it. She always taught us the right and the wrong, and she saw that we went. It was a must that we went.
KAREN SINDELAR:
It was important that you go and that you get your homework done,

Page 15
it sounds like to me.
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Oh yes.
KAREN SINDELAR:
How about your mother's schooling? Had she had much schooling?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
No, my mother didn't have any. I think she didn't get past the third grade, because she was raised on a farm and she didn't pass that.
KAREN SINDELAR:
But she still thought it was important?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
She was the oldest of seventeen, so she couldn't do too much. She had to help raise them, I think.
KAREN SINDELAR:
But it's interesting that she thought it was that important for you all, then.
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes, it was a must.
KAREN SINDELAR:
How did she feel when you dropped out of school?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Well, she was very disappointed. But I knew that it was a strain on her, you know. And I was one of those little hard-headed young people like they are today. I wanted to marry a soldier, so I had to get married, you know. So I just quit school—and mostly to work, to help her because I knew she was having a hard time. There wasn't need of my staying there putting a strain on her. Right now I'd put my education with some of the college graduates I know; I would. I maybe don't have the diploma; but the wisdom and knowledge that God give me, I would be willing to stand with them, as I do do now.
KAREN SINDELAR:
From teaching highschoolers, I would say you're right. [Laughter] Unfortunately a lot of the people in high school these days, they haven't learned as much as
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
They're not interested in it, you know. But, see, it was a must with us. Now I have a twelve year old, and I don't have to pressure

Page 16
her. I say, "Kit, why don't you get out of the house?" She says, "I've got to get my homework." I'm grateful for that.
KAREN SINDELAR:
She [unknown] herself. That's nice, yes.
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
She loves school.
KAREN SINDELAR:
OK. Now going back to your first job, your chauffeur job, what did you do with the money you made from that?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Gave it to my mother.
KAREN SINDELAR:
The whole thing?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Did she give any back to you?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes, she'd give me a little bit of it back. It didn't take much for me in those days, because we didn't have the things that the kids have now. If we went to the show I think it was ten or fifteen cents; and maybe a dance every once in a while when they'd let us go, it was about a dollar and ten cents.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Your grandmother didn't disapprove of your going to the movies or dances or anything?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Well, we didn't go when Grandma was living, too much. [Laughter]
KAREN SINDELAR:
Oh really? She didn't like that type of stuff?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
No.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Do you remember any particular things that your Grandma got angry at you about?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Nothing, if we didn't mind. You know how kids sometimes… We used to tease my grandmother; she said she couldn't hear. And she'd be reading and we'd call her; she wouldn't answer. But if we'd get talking

Page 17
about a little boy she could hear that. We'd say, "Oh, we're going to have some boy—" you know how you get talking about boys. Boy, she'd come up then, you know. [Laughter] She was strict, but she was good to us, in her way. The best she knew how she was good to us.
KAREN SINDELAR:
How did she feel when you dropped out of school?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
She was dead when I dropped out; she died.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Right, you said she died in '42 or something.
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Right. My father died in '41; she died in '42, nine months apart.
KAREN SINDELAR:
And you married in…
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
'43.
KAREN SINDELAR:
A lot of things happening around that time. [Laughter] So you were still driving, then, when you married?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes. My husband, he went overseas and I drove and stayed right at home with my mother 'til he came back in '45.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Wait. Did you ever move out of the house right after you got married?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
No, no, I stayed right at home with Momma. See, because we wasn't married but a month when he went overseas.
KAREN SINDELAR:
So did he live in your house with you for the first month?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
For the first month, and then he went overseas. And I didn't see him 'til '45.
KAREN SINDELAR:
How did your Mom feel about your getting married?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Well, she was disappointed, but she accepted it. She accepted it, you know.
Did she know the guy that you married?

Page 18
No. She met him when I did; we all met at the same time. We met in '42, at Christmastime. She met him when I did. He went home on his leave, and he came back and we got married. It was sort of a short-term courtship: I met him in December and married him in March.
KAREN SINDELAR:
And then you stayed together for a month before he went overseas for three years?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes. We were married in March and he left in April, and I didn't see him anymore 'til '45. He came back one month before Roosevelt died. And I went with him to Seattle, Washington; that's where we went. And then we separated. I came back home—by being young, you know—but I went back to him. And that's when the children was born. I stayed with him 'til he died in 1960. And I sent for my mother, and she came out and lived with me. And we came back home in '61. And that's when I started buying this house, in '61.
KAREN SINDELAR:
She had come here, then, to be with you?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
No, she came to Seattle and lived with me. See, I was in Seattle, Washington.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Oh, I didn't realize that. When did you move to Seattle?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Well, I went out there in '45 with my husband. I left him and came back home, but then I went back to him. And my mother came out there around about '57; anyway, she stayed with me 'til my husband died. And we didn't have any people out there. So she wanted to come back home, so I brought her back home. So we've been here ever since.
KAREN SINDELAR:
I see. And how many children did you have with your husband?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
I have four children in all.
KAREN SINDELAR:
How old are they now?

Page 19
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
My daughter was born in '52. That would make her what? Twenty-four?
KAREN SINDELAR:
If you can remember the years they were born.
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
My daughter was born in '52.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Is that the oldest?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes. And I have a son that was born in '54, and I have another son born in '56. He's in Germany now. And I have a baby that was born after [unknown] had passed, in '64.
KAREN SINDELAR:
OK, so that's not his child, that's your child.
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
No.
KAREN SINDELAR:
So you had three children by him, right?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes.
KAREN SINDELAR:
You say you left him once. Sounds like you have been a pretty strong or independent woman for a long time. Did you get along with him?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes, it's called women's lib. I've been that a long time. I don't know, I've just never been able to… I can take criticism, and I can take people telling me what to do. But I can't stand people demanding, or telling me what I better do. I have a saying: there's not but two things I'd better do, and I can't help that, is stay black and die. Those two things I can't help. But now you ask me to do something…
KAREN SINDELAR:
Is that your own saying?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes, that's my saying. You know, I've heard it somewhere, but… They come along and say, "You better do something." I say, "Now wait a minute; back up. You ask me to do it, but don't tell me what I'd better do. There's two things I'd better do, and that's stay black and die. I can't help those two things. But anything else, you can ask

Page 20
me to do it, and I'll try to.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Did you and your husband get along on that issue all right?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Well, I'll tell you: after I grew older… When I was younger, by being raised around a lot of boys in the community I had to learn to fight. I'll never forget one time I got in a fight, and a boy tore my clothes off of me. And my father was definite about clothes, because in those times, you know, clothes was hard to come by. And my father gave me a good whupping and said, "If you ever come in this house with your clothes torn off or anybody hits you and you don't take up for yourself you'll get another one." And I remember that whupping, you know, because in those days there weren't such things like now when they put you in jail for whupping a child. We got whuppings then. And from then on if one hit me, if he climbed a tree I was in that three behind him. If he went under the house I was under the house behind him; you know, this is the thing it was. So it was kind of hard for me to accept him telling me what to do, and I always… But after I grew older and my mother told me the things that was expected of a woman that was married, then I tried to make myself a little bit … what would you say…
KAREN SINDELAR:
More conventional?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes; you know, kind of give in and things like that. So I accepted that; as I say, let him think he was the boss of the house and things of this nature until he passed. He died very young, at thirty-six, of a heart attack. I went to work, and came back and found him dead in the bed.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Was that hard for you to do? I mean, it sounds like your Mom saw that you were maybe a little too strong to be in a conventional-type

Page 21
marriage and told you the ropes, in a way. Was that it?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes. My mother was a great influence in my life. My mother was a quiet individual, but she was strong in her way. She taught me a lot, because I was always wanting to… As I say, I fought a lot. And I'd say, "Well, if there's something I don't want to do, I'm not going to do it. You can't make me do it." But she just told me the things that were expected of me. A lot of people don't know it, but I was an alcoholic for seven years. I took to drink
KAREN SINDELAR:
Was that out in Seattle that you were an alcoholic?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
No, this was after I left my husband. This is the thing that hit me. You know, I had been taking little nips…
[END OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]

[TAPE 1, SIDE B]

[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Well, after I found my husband was dead in the bed, this was hard to accept and I started drinking. I just went off the deep end——I don't know whether Stephanie even knows this——for about four years; but I had been drinking, I'd say about seven years. But then God came into my life in '64 when my last baby was born. And I had a Caesarean and then … they never told me it was a cancer operation, but I always will believe that that was what was happening to me. I had this severe hemorrhage, and I wasn't weighing a hundred pounds when they put me in the hospital. The doctors had gave me up. And I made a vow to God on my death bed that if he would let me live I would serve him and I would be more humble—and which I tried to be. So he did: he raised me up off that bed in '64. And from that day to this one I've tried to live the best I know how for God and tried to help my fellow man, because I come up on the rough side. Now I know what it is to be poor; I know what it is to have the lights

Page 22
turned off, the water turned off, and I can sympathize with these people. And my mother, I know what a hard time she had bringing us up. This is what gets me so sadly … like this incident we had this other day of the boy stabbing the baby thirty-two times. I knew this family. I haven't forgot from whence I came—you understand what I'm saying? And nothing I have materialistic gets on me; as you can see I don't care that much about it. But I'm going to try to do better, you know. But I've had all my children in my house, and I tell them to bring their friends in. That's why I don't have anything; they bring their friends in and they just takes over. So now that they're gone I'm in the process of trying to do something.
But I don't forget, as I say, from whence I came and the people around me. This is what hurts me, when the people uptown will sit behind their desks and try to run the lives of the people out here, when they don't know what's happening out here. They're not out here; they've never seen the starvation or the sick. They've never went in the hospital and seen these things, and I know they haven't. And this is why I ran, to try to help somebody. I said, "I may never win it," but I'm always there trying to help somebody, because there's nothing I've got. Everything I've got belongs to God and he's just lent it to me for a little while. This is the way I look at these things. Even my children: I'd accept it if one of them would die or get killed tomorrow. I've accepted this, because my mother used to tell me, "God loans children so there's just a little sunshine loaned to you for a little while. And don't love nothing better than you do God." And I try not to love nothing. I don't put anything in front of God: I put it this a'way. So this is why it kind of gets on

Page 23
me when they sit up there and say they know something. And I say, "You don't know because you're not out there. You haven't seen those children hungry, you haven't seen those poor people." We had a lady by the other day that they sent home from the hospital. They know she was going to die, but they should have put her in a home before they sent her back home by herself. The police had to break in; she was up there naked, struggling for breath. I had been to see her, but I couldn't go back. These are the things I'm talking about.
KAREN SINDELAR:
You don't think there's anybody right now in city government that really knows what's happening with these people then?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
I won't say one or two may not know. But I'm talking about the majority of them don't, no; no, they don't know what's happening out here, 'cause we have to bring them out and show them the stuff. I mean, you saw my picture in the paper the other day protesting the condition down there? And this is what irks you, these houses that they've got the people living in that's not fit for dogs to live in. And they won't do anything. We have some old people—the reason I don't push it as hard as I do 'cause I'm a housing inspector, they put the old folks out of there and they've got nobody to go to. Some of them can't afford to pay the thirty dollars a month, the thirty-seven dollars a month. And if you force them, then they're going to tear them down and fix them up for the people to live in. And we have a lot of old people over here. It's heartbreaking. If you could just walk in and see the conditions. If I had the money—and maybe that's why I don't have anything—I'd like to put some kind of a … not a high-rise (that I'm afraid of), but say something like they've got on High Park, maybe two units to a house. But

Page 24
it's elegant, and the poor people…
KAREN SINDELAR:
Sort of like [unknown] or something, yes.
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
And I just see the need, but I don't have the money and I don't have the [unknown], so what're you going to do? But I'm going to cry as long as I can to them and appeal to them; that's all I can do.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Now you really are ahead of me!
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
I'm sorry.
KAREN SINDELAR:
No, no, it's great. I'm really interested in what you have to say, and I was going to ask you about all that anyway. It's just that there's a bunch of steps sort of inbetween that I'd like to deal with.
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes, go right ahead.
KAREN SINDELAR:
A couple of just factual questions. After your husband left to go abroad you were still working as a chauffeur. You kept that job for how long, four or five years?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes, I kept it 'til '54.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Til '54? So you'd been at that for eleven years?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
That's when I went back to Seattle. Yes, from '46. Well, I went out there and came back. It was a broken series of it, you know, not straight out. But I was with them a long time.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Until '54, and that's when…
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
I went back to Seattle.
KAREN SINDELAR:
I see.
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
But I had been and come back.
KAREN SINDELAR:
So except for helping your mother with the boarders and everything, that was the only job you had in Durham until you came back again after your husband died, right?

Page 25
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Right. When I came back I worked a few weeks out in a Holiday Inn, the one on Hillsborough Road.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Right. Then what did you do?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Then my mother had her stroke, and I stayed at home with her.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Was that when you were drinking then?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
No, I had quit drinking then. I quit drinking in '63.
KAREN SINDELAR:
'63. So were you carrying a job at the same you were drinking?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes, I always worked.
KAREN SINDELAR:
What were you doing then?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Well, when I was chauffeuring I was drinking, but I wasn't a heavy drinker.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Right. But you said after your husband died you started drinking more heavily. What job did you have at that point?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Well I didn't have one when I first came back. I didn't have any job any time I was drinking heavily, to tell you the truth. I was just living on my checks I got.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Right, right. So you worked some at the Holiday Inn, and then your mom had a stroke, you said. Then what happened?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Then I stayed at home for a while. Then I took over, I leased Turner Dairy Bar. And I couldn't get any help, so then I sold out to the Chicken Box.
KAREN SINDELAR:
You started a dairy bar?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Did you actually buy it?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
No, I just leased it, you know, and I was just a boss lady,

Page 26
you would say.
KAREN SINDELAR:
How did you decide to do that? That was a pretty ambitious…
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Well, it was just something out there that I thought was needed in the neighborhood. I was the first black woman to start that, you know. [Laughter] I've always had ambition but no money.
KAREN SINDELAR:
When did you start that? What year was it that you tried to start the dairy bar?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Oh boy, it must have been about '69 or a little bit earlier, about '68, 'cause my mother died in '70. She was sick, but I was still up there. I was close enough to be at home, you know, and somebody was here with her at all times. I would bathe her, feed her, then I'd come back home and give her medicine. My cousin sent her that TV from New York. That was hers, and now I'll give it to my little girl. She'd look at the stories; she was a great soap opera fan. So I was always close enough to be right at home, and I kept her here at home.
KAREN SINDELAR:
How long did you make a go of the dairy bar?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Well, I stayed in about four years, and I sold out to them because I couldn't get any help and it was too much of a strain. You know, I had to do it all day and all night sometimes, plus tending my mother.
KAREN SINDELAR:
When did you go and sell out? About '72?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
About '71 or '72, because my mother died in '70. Then I went over and started working with—it's Broadway Supermarket now, but it was Giant Food Store. I went over there and stayed a couple of years with them.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Broadway Supermarket?

Page 27
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes. It was Giant Food then, but it's Broadway now. So they was having a lot of problems over there. But when this guy, the Chicken Box, closed down for some reason, then Dunham took over. And he asked me would I come and be assistant manager, since I knew the ropes and everything.
KAREN SINDELAR:
This was the place where you had actually had your dairy bar?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes.
KAREN SINDELAR:
And that's where you are now?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes.
KAREN SINDELAR:
I see.
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
So I went over there to show them the ropes, and I just help out and work at nights. But I'm getting ready to quit that, because I'm tired and I've been working all my life. And I'm just trying to hold on to my vacation. I think I'm going to resign after my vacation.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Will you be able to make it without working, or will you have to find something else?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Well, the Lord be blessed, my house is paid for, and we don't eat that much [Laughter] so I think I'll be able to make it. See, my husband was a veteran and I get the widow's pension.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Oh, that will help.
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
And my boy now, he sends me change. And my other boy is around, so I'm pretty sure I'll make it. Because I'm just tired, I'm telling you.
KAREN SINDELAR:
This will be the first real stretch in your life when you haven't worked, then, except for the time you were taking care of your mother.
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Right, right. I've worked all my life, and I've never sat

Page 28
down. A lot of them tell me I'm not going to sit down. "No," they say, "you're not going to sit down there; you know you're going to work." But I don't know, there's so much I see needs to be done.
KAREN SINDELAR:
What types of things would you like to do?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Well, there's a lot of sick people out here, old people that's alone. I'd like to visit them, you know, and see what I can do to help them—such as go with them to help pay their bills and things. This morning I was in the bank, and they wouldn't even cash this old lady's check because she didn't have nothing but a Social Security card or something. And I know her; and I said, "Give me the check," and I signed the check and they cashed it for me. You know, there's just so much of it to be done, a lot of little children out here that need to be started on the road to Sunday school or something. It looks like they're teaching them everything but what needs to be taught. We have a lot of parents that need a lot of teaching, because you can't just tell a child what to do. You've got to show him. There's just a lot of it that I have ambition to do. I don't say whether I'll do it or not, but I mean I will be trying. Then all these things that I'm associated with here, and there's a lot of prisoners. They had a mother this morning that wants me to see what I can do; I'm the chairman of the Human Relations out there at Guess Road prison, and a lot of prisoners need… You know, there's so much that needs to be done. And the job is really holding me back. A lot of time I need to be at those night meetings. Now I got a call from a woman who wanted me to drive her to the theater tomorrow night, so I'm going to have to ask for an hour off. And there are so many meetings day and night that I need to be at. So I'm sure God will give me a piece of

Page 29
bread, you know. I tease them down at the church. I said, "Well, I'm going to quit work. If you feed me I think I can make it, you know." I have paid bills up this morning, so I can have lights, water, gas, telephone for one more month anyway. [Laughter]
KAREN SINDELAR:
When did you start buying this home again? It was after your husband died?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
In '61, yes.
KAREN SINDELAR:
As soon as you came back here?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes.
KAREN SINDELAR:
And that was right before your Mom had the stroke? Was that right?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes.
KAREN SINDELAR:
So you had to keep up the payments on that the whole time that your mom was sick?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes.
KAREN SINDELAR:
And you did OK?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes, the Lord has blessed me. I finished paying for it last year, so now all I have to do is pay taxes on it. [Laughter] I pay about three hundred dollars tax a year.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Did anybody help you during that time, or you did it yourself?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
I've had to work all my life. [Laughter]
KAREN SINDELAR:
Right, right. Your fourth child, who was the father of that child?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Oh, a friend of mine. [Laughter]
KAREN SINDELAR:
I mean, is he still a good friend? Is he around here still?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes, he's a friend of mine.

Page 30
KAREN SINDELAR:
So that he didn't help at all?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Oh yes, he helped good.
KAREN SINDELAR:
With food and stuff, but I mean, he didn't actually help pay for the house?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Oh no, no. All this, I've done it all by myself. I mean, he's contributed, you know; he's a very great asset, a great help. As far as marrying again, I'll never marry no more.
KAREN SINDELAR:
You won't marry any more?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
No.
KAREN SINDELAR:
How come?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
I'm too set in my ways, you know. So it wouldn't be fair to me to ask anybody or anybody ask me to marry them, 'cause I've done it so much in my younger days I couldn't tie myself down to cooking three meals a day—although I cook on the job, you know. I'm not a houseperson now; I've done it too much.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Did you do it for your first husband?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes, yes I did.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Did you mind?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Well, I minded but I done it, you know. I just can't, can't, can't do it no more. I don't know what I'll have to allow to do before I die. I don't like to feel what I want to; but I'll put it that I don't want to do it. I'll put it that a'way.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Right, right. Were there any things that you and your first husband, any particular things that you'd have conflicts over all the time? Any issues you didn't get along on?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
My husband, he was a heavy drinker, and this was one of the

Page 31
things that our problems came from. But he would work, but he was just … I don't know. I didn't drink as much as he did. But then after he died I just started drinking heavy, because he died young and I couldn't see it. He contracted asthma over in New Guinea. He was always, he thought he was a strong-minded man, and his sickness … I don't know, he let it worry him or something. And by me working and being my own woman, and I never would ask… I think he was the type that wanted me to be just a home person and ask him for everything, and I didn't. I can't beg, you know. I mean, I can beg for things that's needed for the community and folks and things. But for me to just sit and beg some individual to give me something… Now I would ask you for it, and if you offered OK; but now for me to beg you for it…
KAREN SINDELAR:
Well, when you were married to him and you were out in Seattle were you working during that time?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes.
KAREN SINDELAR:
What were you doing?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
I worked at the Boeing Aircraft.
KAREN SINDELAR:
In the factory?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Janitorial work, yes. You know how they have offices? Cleaning up offices and things of this nature.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Oh, right. So did you give your salary to your husband, or did you keep it?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
No, Ma'am, I did not, no. [Laughter] I never give nobody my salary, no.
KAREN SINDELAR:
You kept it for yourself?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Well no, I didn't keep it for myself. It went to pay bills,

Page 32
you know. But just for me to say, "Here," no, no. We would sit down together and hash out the bills.
KAREN SINDELAR:
And you'd contribute part of your salary towards the bills and he'd contribute part of his?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes, that's the way it worked. And what we had left, I would buy the children clothes and things of this nature. There weren't that much left; you know, everything is high out there. No, for me to give anybody my… No, he didn't even know what I made, lessen he'd snoop sometime, you know.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Right, right. Were you in any clubs or organizations out in Seattle?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
No, not too many, because the kids were small. And when you've got small children, you know, lessen you've got a… No, I didn't know the people out there. In fact, people in places like that are not as friendly as they are in a place like this, you know. You live right next door to folks and don't even know their names. [Laughter] So no, I never…
KAREN SINDELAR:
No one would really help with your kids at all?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
No, not 'til my mother came out there, 'cause his mother was one that would not babysit. She said, "No, you had them, you raise them." So this was the thing. So when I was working I had to pay a babysitter. Well see, out there I was always on night work, mostly. And I worked in the night and he worked in the daytime. So we had to pay this lady like for two hours; when I'd go to work I'd carry them to her house, and then when he'd come home he would pick them up. Then we was off on Saturdays and Sundays, so this made it nice.

Page 33
KAREN SINDELAR:
How far have your children gone through school?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Well, all of them went to the twelfth grade, but none of them graduated.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Oh really?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
[Laughter] My daughter, she got married, you know.
KAREN SINDELAR:
So your oldest daughter is now about twenty-four or so. That's how old I am.
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes.
KAREN SINDELAR:
She quit in the twelfth grade to get married?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
No, she was married before then, and she just went on. And she had babies, and this is what throwed her off. She's got four little girls.
KAREN SINDELAR:
She's not here anymore?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
No, she's in Great Falls, Montana. See, they just sold out and brought all their stuff back here. I was talking to her last night. She just had a baby the thirteenth of May, on the birthday of one of my sons, the one in Germany. Well, I taught them. Now when they was in Hillside they was beautiful, but when they went to Durham High I don't know what happened.
KAREN SINDELAR:
They switched over from Hillside?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
They transferred them here with the school system thing.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Was that as part of integration? Was that why they got transferred?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes, something like that. See, this is what I said: to let a kid go where they want to go, I believe they would pursue their education better. You know, this is my belief. I'm for everybody getting together, because I want everybody to love one another: that's my belief. But I

Page 34
don't know what happened. When they was in Hillside all of them did good, but when they started Durham High I don't know what happened. They just got disinterested. I had an all "A's" student, my oldest boy; he was an artist. He drew, my husband; drew that picture right there.
KAREN SINDELAR:
That one right there? Oh.
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
And my son, he's an artist.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Now wait. Is that the son who was born in '54 or the one in '56.
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Oh, that's nice. Your husband drew this?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes, my husband drew that. And so he just got disinterested, and got over there and got caught up with that drug addict traffic and all that. Well, he's trying to find himself now.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Heavy drugs or marijuana?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Just smoking.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Smoking, but not heroin?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
No, he hasn't got on that. No, he won't hardly get on heroin, because he's scared of a needle. [Laughter]
KAREN SINDELAR:
Good! [Laughter] So you had your two older sons and your daughter, all of them dropped out in twelfth grade?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Now you've got your youngest child who you say is…
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes. Well, she's beautiful. I'm hoping she'll graduate.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Think she'll get through, huh?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes. She's very excited, and she loves school. I'm glad one of them do. My daughter went back to graduate and just got pregnant again; that stopped her there. Any my baby boy, the man wanted to search

Page 35
him one day for dope. I've never had any trouble with him but that problem.
KAREN SINDELAR:
That was the one who's about twenty now?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes, he's in Germany. And he refused to let him search him. He said he won't let him search him when he knows he wasn't guilty, you know. So they put him out of school, so he didn't try to go back. But he would have went on; he done fine. Now he's a SPEC-4, and he's married and got a little boy. And he's doing beautiful. He's supposed to come home this month sometime; he's been gone for two years.
KAREN SINDELAR:
So you think he's straightening out some?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
The oldest one is.
KAREN SINDELAR:
The one in Germany's the one…
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Well, he's never been on dope.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Right, right. But the older one, you think, is turning out too now.
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes, I think he's trying to straighten himself out.
KAREN SINDELAR:
And he's up in New York, did you say?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
No, no; he's here in Durham.
KAREN SINDELAR:
He's in Durham.
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes. Then my oldest daughter's in Great Falls, Montana. And the oldest boy, he hasn't been thirty minutes left here; he left a little bit before you came. And my baby boy, he's in Germany.
KAREN SINDELAR:
What does your oldest boy do here in Durham?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
He was going to night school, trying to retake those… He's in and out of school; I don't know, he's trying to make up his mind to definitely go on.

Page 36
KAREN SINDELAR:
How's he supporting himself?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Well, Momma is right now [Laughter] often enough.
KAREN SINDELAR:
But he's not living here, is he?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes, he is. He's in and out; you know how young folks are. I'll tell you: my mother always taught me that it's hard for a person to say they're a Christian and have love for the other people and disown their own. Charity begins at home and spreads abroad. Now, I can understand he's going through a stage; you know, he's twenty-one and I understand that. I would just hate to say, "Get out," because it does something to a child. I see too many out there now where the mother has put them out. I see one out there now; he's deteriorating bad from the drugs, and the mother won't even feed him. But mine comes in, and he eats. And so I asked him this morning, I said, "When are you going to get a job?" He said he'd been up there to the employment office so many times he gets disgusted. I said, "Well, that's not where it's at, maybe." So he's trying to bring himself together, and I'm trying to allow for the stage that he's at, like the Bible says of the prodigal son. And I'm hoping that he will soon straighten himself out, because I'd hate to, as I say, just say, "Get out." So I'm pretty sure he'll come around.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Does he go to church anymore?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
No.
KAREN SINDELAR:
How about any of your children?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes. Now all of them was raised in the church. You know how a lot of people say, "You raised your child in church?" But you know, there's something out here now… Now all my boys, I can show you pictures of them; they're around somewhere. They were Scouts; they were

Page 37
ushers in the church. They was raised in the church; my daughter used to sing in the choir; they done everything. And my daughter, I was talking to her last night. They found a church out there in Montana and they're going. She said they had been to church yesterday. My baby boy, he said since he's been back in Germany he found the Lord again. And everybody he writes he's talking strong about the Lord. And he hasn't got on the dope. I can only go by what he says; I'm not there. And he said that he's doing beautiful. I know he made SPEC-4, so I say he couldn't be doing too badly—you know, they give these grades. And he's supposed to come home, as I said, this month. He's done fine. Now he goes to church, he says. And my baby girl, she's an usher; she's in church. So I'm just hoping; that's all I can do. You know, that's all we can do is pray and hope. They say there's always one in the family, so I'm just hoping for that one to come back. As I said there, I wouldn't want to put him out if something happened. I'm not trying to uphold him in anything. He knows I don't report him or nothing, you know, because when they're wrong I say mine is no better than nobody else's child. If they get caught doing something wrong they have to be punished. I do not take up for them when they need it. I tell him, "If you want anything, you come to me; don't get out there and start stealing," because the old people taught me, "If you steal, you'll kill." And nine times out of ten that is true. I say, "If you need anything you come to me. If I've got it, OK; if I don't have it, you'll have to do without it." So we're just hoping.
KAREN SINDELAR:
OK. You talked some, you said you were drinking some and how you had stopped that by about '64 or so. And you said it was in '64 that

Page 38
you really found the Lord again when you practically died. Right?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Have you been going to the same church that you were raised in?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Right.
KAREN SINDELAR:
What church is that?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Union Baptist, up there. Dr. Gravey Davis is the pastor. You know, he's a parole officer in Raleigh. Yes, I went back to the church and rededicated myself. I spoke in church last Sunday. I'm the manager of a gospel group; they've sung.
KAREN SINDELAR:
You sing?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes. I don't sing, they do. [Laughter]
KAREN SINDELAR:
The manager? What do you mean, the manager?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Manager.
KAREN SINDELAR:
You don't direct them?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
No, no.
KAREN SINDELAR:
You manage their business.
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
I get the programs for them. We've got a record out; it'll soon be on the market.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Good. Is this like a church group?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes, a gospel group.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Are they young kids or are they older?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
They're young women. They are from different churches. We call them the Gospel Singers. They gave me a plaque for the best manager of the year. I said the Lord has brought me a long ways. I was voted one of the mothers of the year this year, and I got a plaque for political and something. So that's it.

Page 39
KAREN SINDELAR:
You were talking some about why you ran for city council. Did you make that decision on your own to run for city council? How did you decide to do that?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
[Laughter] Well, I was drafted the first time from the community.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Is this the East End community?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
East End community. You know, they had asked another lady and she said no, she was too shy. And they said, "Well, we'll get one that's not afraid to speak out." I said, "Well, you know, I'm not too well-bred (as they would say). But as far as talking for the people and helping, I'm able to do that." And I've done a lot of reading and research, so I filed.
KAREN SINDELAR:
So the community drafted you?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Right. They put my name out there, and so then they carried it before the Durham Committee.
KAREN SINDELAR:
On Black Affairs?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes. So they approved me, so they put my name out there. Well, I never thought I would win.
KAREN SINDELAR:
You won in the primaries, though?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes, I won in both primaries. You know, I was surprised the first time. I told them. I said, "You guys are going to get me out here in a mess." They laughed. I said, "Now you guys are going to put me out there and leave me hanging." They said, "Oh no." I was surprised that I won the primary the first time. Well, now the second time I had more encouragement, because even in the general election I got more votes than the people. So that's very encouraging, you know.

Page 40
KAREN SINDELAR:
OK, now you're going to have to refresh my memory about this. You ran the first time in the primaries. There were two primaries, or there was just one?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
No, see I have ran two times: see, the first time being when Ruffin and I was running two years ago. This was last year, right. What was the other year, '72?
KAREN SINDELAR:
OK, let's do it in order, right. In '72 you and Ben Ruffin were running?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes.
KAREN SINDELAR:
OK.
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
At large; both of us beared the primaries.
KAREN SINDELAR:
And you both won in the primaries?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes, and we both lost in the general election.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Did you have the support of the Durham Committee on Black Affairs all the way through?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes, at both times. Now I ran again last year, in '74, and I won the primary but I lost in the general election.
KAREN SINDELAR:
And you had the support of the Durham Committee on Black Affairs the whole way through? OK.
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Not only that, but I had the support of the unions, the labor unions from the factories.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Which labor unions?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
I don't know the name of it. [Laughter]
KAREN SINDELAR:
The tobacco factories?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes. I have all the papers; I just don't know where they is right now. You know, I've got them packed in boxes in there. Well, I've

Page 41
always had the support of all the churches in this community. Now this is where my funds came from, the churches, because the people over here knew me. And they knew I was the poorest thing out there running, so each church donated to my campaign. Then different friends, you know, because my campaign ran a thousand or some dollars. And they paid it; I didn't have to. You know, I didn't have no money; still ain't got none. [Laughter]
KAREN SINDELAR:
So most of your money came from the churches?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Right.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Did the labor unions give you some money?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
No, no, no. All my money came from the churches and the community, and the people in the community: a dollar here, a dollar there and things like that. No, I wasn't endorsed, or not any money contributed from anybody, not even the Durham Committee. Nobody gave me the money.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Would the Durham Committee usually give money?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
No, no.
KAREN SINDELAR:
They'd just give an endorsement.
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
That's all, just endorsement. No, they didn't give no money.
KAREN SINDELAR:
What did your children think about your running?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Oh, they'd think it was great. My oldest boy, he's kind of afraid. He says that sometimes I speak too… He's scared they'll do something, especially when I get to talking about the drug situation and the police.
[END OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]

[TAPE 2, SIDE A]

[START OF TAPE 2, SIDE A]
KAREN SINDELAR:
So your oldest son is somewhat scared for you?

Page 42
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes, he's afraid that when I get too close to the truth to downtown that somebody'll do something. I was threatened one time.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Somebody in the black community?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Oh, all segments, you know. [Laughter]
KAREN SINDELAR:
Really?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
I'll tell you, when you get to getting too close to the truth you go to stepping on some toes; you're going to make enemies. And I was threatened at one time. But I him, I said, "Now the day you do anything to one of my kids or me, I want you to kill me, because if you don't that's when everybody's going to know." So I kept quiet on a lot of issues.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Who threatened you?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Can't say, you know.
KAREN SINDELAR:
You would rather not say? I understand.
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Was it an important group, or a person?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Well, it was some people. I had some to ask me not to run in the last thing. You know, they walked up to me and they said, "You know you're not going to win: you're black and you're a woman. What are you running for?" I said, "I'm going to run for the hell of it, because people like you don't want me to run." And then I left it at that and walked away. So I have learned that with the help of God all things is possible, and I'm not afraid. If I take God with me I'm not afraid of the devil in hell, and I'll stand up to all of them. They know I will, and this is the thing that… Now a lot of times when I get on some of them's toes about some of the things I hear…
KAREN SINDELAR:
What types of things?

Page 43
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Well, like the bad housing and the drug situation and the police brutality and all these things, they know I know what's happening. You know I go up to the courthouse every once in a while; I haven't been up there now in a little while. I had one that said they wished the hell I'd stay away from up there. I don't know whether you remember when the issue came out in the paper about the cockroaches and all this stuff up there. And this is a whole lot of it, the environment and their treatment of it. They said they wished I'd stay away from up there. I said, "Well, as long as I pay taxes like you do I'm going to walk in any building in Durham that I'm available to walk in." So he [my son] thinks a lot of times … because I tell the police just what I think. I go to the mayor. I'm not afraid of any of them, because I feel like I'm grown as they are, you know; I'm grown in age if not in might. I feel like if you've got something to tell them, I believe in telling an individual to his face what I've got to tell him. I don't tell somebody else to tell the person what I've got to tell him, because my mother taught me that if a dog will bring a bone he'll carry a bone. I don't give it to anybody else to tell; I'll go and tell them myself so there won't be any misunderstanding. That's where a lot of misunderstanding is here in Durham now, because somebody else is telling somebody else what to tell somebody. If I've got something to tell them I'll go to the mayor, I'll go to the chief of police, I'll go to any of them.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Have you done that? Have you gone to the mayor before?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes ma'am, I go to him all the time.
KAREN SINDELAR:
What are some of the things you've gone to him for?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Well, about the housing situation, recreation and anything.

Page 44
Before Mayor Hawkins was out of the chair I went to him, you know. I even went to his office. And Mayor Cavin, he came down when we was picketing by these houses down here from like Galifinakis. So he was down there. So anything that I have to tell them, I'll go right up to their offices.
KAREN SINDELAR:
There was some picketing down here, did you say?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes. It was in the papers.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Galifinakis's houses?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes.
KAREN SINDELAR:
What is the National Clients' Council?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Well, you know the Legal Aid? They made me vice-chairperson of North Carolina. They pick representatives.
KAREN SINDELAR:
It has to do with legal aid?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes. I'm with that group too.
KAREN SINDELAR:
I had noticed on here that you had something to do with Carolina Action. I have some friends who work in Carolina Action. [Laughter] What do you do with Carolina Action?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Well, East End is just affiliated with Carolina Action. And on issues like that we just let the people know what's happening, you know.
KAREN SINDELAR:
The League of Women Voters, are you in that?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Well, I'm not as active in that as I would like to be, but I am a member.
KAREN SINDELAR:
That's a fully biracial group, isn't it? Black and white women?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes, black and white.
KAREN SINDELAR:
In this community do both black and white women have leadership

Page 45
roles in the League of Women Voters?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes. Yes, when I was active they do. I haven't been to a meeting there… That's what I said: working at night has kept me from a lot of the meetings, you know. My dues—in fact it's about time for me to pay my dues. [Laughter] So in a lot of those things my dues are paid up, but I haven't been able to participate as I desire.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Do you feel in any that you have been hurt any way by being a woman? I mean, in terms of your political activity or community activity? Do you feel like being a woman, or being a black person, has hurt you in any way?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Well, I feel like that maybe I could have aggressed more if I had been a man or maybe white, in some respects. Then again, you know I look at it this way: I look at the human side of it. I feel like I'm able to do the job as well as anybody else; in fact, I know I can given the chance. But I know there's a lot of them up there don't want me up there, black and white, because a lot of people would be exposed that they don't want exposed. But I'm going to still try.
KAREN SINDELAR:
You're actually president of this East End Community Organization.
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Right.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Have there been other women presidents before you?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
No, I'm the first woman president.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Was that made an issue?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
No.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Was that like a real election that happens with the East End Community?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Well yes, with the people in the community. Well, you see,

Page 46
I got involved when Mr. Holman was the president. Well, I just got out and started doing things, you know. A lot of them talked; we've got a lot of folks in the community who are talking, but action, no. Well, I'll tell you when I first got really bogged down, when this kid got killed right here on the corner. We have a light here now; had a lawsuit about it. That was about five or six years ago. And I went up to City Council then with the mother of the child. They was talking about putting sidewalks way down there [unknown], and I told them they needed to put the sidewalks on Allston Avenue by this [unknown] and we needed a light. These are the things that really kind of upset me, and that's when I started out. And I started going and asking for things.
KAREN SINDELAR:
That was about six years ago?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Seven years ago.
KAREN SINDELAR:
It was that incident that sort of sparked your activity?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes, this really got me upset, because I knew this boy's mother, the grandmother and all. And I knew they were poor people and wasn't able to do…
KAREN SINDELAR:
He was killed by a car, is that it?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes. The lady didn't mean to do it. The child panicked and ran in front of her, and she hit her gas instead of the brakes and knocked him from that corner up in that driveway there. And it was a pitiful situation. The lady was very disturbed; she was at the funeral home and sent him a beautiful wreath and she baked them gifts. But the idea of the thing was no light there, no sidewalks, no nothing. So the girl forgave her. She looked at it at the human side as to what happened, because it could have happened to anybody. But it was the neglect of the

Page 47
city that it happened, you know, by no sidewalks. So it's little incidents like this that makes you sad. And I begged for a light up here, because somebody's going to be killed up there on the corner of Darwin and Elizabeth. But you can't tell them that, you know. So these are the things that really upsets me. But by being a black woman I believe they hear me more, you know. One thing, when I ask the people to go with me, they'll go. And I get the church bus, and we'll go.
KAREN SINDELAR:
You use the church bus?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Oh yes, they let me have the bus any time I need it.
KAREN SINDELAR:
And what do you do, take people who are going to tell them with you?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
To go to city hall with me, you know.
KAREN SINDELAR:
With you?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
So these are the things that just gets me upset. They get at me now. I haven't drunk anything since '63; I don't drink. I'm not saying I'm better than anybody that do drink, don't get me wrong; but I do know that stuff keeps you fog-minded. You don't know what you're doing. And what hurts me is the young girls out here on this dope. And I know the young man that killed the baby. You see, they're not doing the job down there with the dope-pushers, and I know it because they're getting at the ones that are smoking it. They need to get the pushers; this is where it's at.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Do you think they're doing it on purpose, not getting the pushers?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
I have told them, and they say I'm crazy. It's somebody downtown that's the head person of it; yes, I feel that. Because I know for myself they have gotten them off the street, and the next time in

Page 48
thirty minutes they're back out there, you know. So a person that would be a tattletale… They wanted my son to be a tattletale [a drug informer]. And I told them no, he's not going to be no tattletale and put his life on the line when they pick them up for five minutes and then are back out in ten minutes. He'd be just like that couple that was killed out there on the road. They'll never find out who killed them, you know, and this is what would happen to him. I told them no. And the man told me, he said, "Well, we're going to put him in jail." I said, "Well, you take out your warrant on him, but you have your warrant right when you take it out. He's not going to be a stool pigeon, you know." I said, "You done got one black one killed rushing in on stuff like that. Now what are you trying to do, get my son killed?" And when he said he didn't like my attitude I told him I don't care. I don't like his attitude neither—you know, trying to get my child killed for a thing like that. So I feel like somebody downtown is the head of it, and they know I'm almost close to who it is. And this is why my son is scared for me, 'cause he says, "Momma, shut up; you talk too much." I said, "No. It's not right." If you could come out here one weekend, especially about the first of the month, and see some of these girls fourteen, fifteen years old, and just look at them, and some of the young boys twelve, thirteen, some of them not fourteen years old, and just see how they are.
KAREN SINDELAR:
You said dope. You mean marijuana, or do you mean harder stuff than marijuana?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
I don't know what they're on, honey, but I know they're on something: something that'll make them stand up and go to sleep when they're talking, and do wild things. I've seen a boy standing at a police officer and just go straight up to him and just scream at the top of his

Page 49
voice. And people naturally are scared of them, you know. And I've tried to talk to them and calm them down 'til they get out of there. And I've had people come in there and draw guns on one another and all this. This is one thing I thank God for too: they have a lot of respect for me over here, the people that know me. I try to live what I talk to them about. And they could be fighting… I went out there and stopped a lot of fights. When the police got there I'd done stopped the fight, you know.
KAREN SINDELAR:
How do you do that?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
I just go out there and tell them to behave theirself. And I have pulled them away from one another.
KAREN SINDELAR:
And they mind you?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes. When they'd be fighting, if I grab one and I push one off of the other they won't hit me. I went out there and one had a gun one night, and I took the gun away from him. He was drinking, and everybody else was just running. I said, "Give me the gun." They all call me Mamma. He said, "Mamma Jo, don't say that." I said, "Give me the gun." And my son's there, "You're going to get killed; you're crazy running out there." But so far God has been good. They respects me; and if I speak to them they can be out there cussing or whatever they're doing, I can walk out there and speak to them. And like one guy said, if I get killed he believed the young men in this community would find whoever killed me. But I told him, if they would kill me it wouldn't be any of the young people around here that know me. It would be some stranger that don't know me. You know, a lot of people are scared me working at night up there on account of me handling money there. I

Page 50
said, "Well, I'm not afraid."
KAREN SINDELAR:
[unknown]
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
"Well, I'm not afraid." That's why a lot of those boys—see, they hang on that corner, and I think this discourages a robber from coming in there where I am.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Because of the guys hanging around the corner?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes, they'll be hanging right on the corner, and they'd be out there smoking and drinking a little beer and wine, you know. But I'll go out there and stop them if they get loud. I'll go out there and say, "I'm not going to have it." "All right, Mamma," and that's it.
KAREN SINDELAR:
When they get too loud, just disturbing the neighborhood?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes. You know how young people get loud, cussing sometimes.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Do you have any incidents in your working at night?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
No.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Nothing?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
I mean, now sometimes they get to fighting or something like that. Now I've had incidents when I wasn't there. They tell me the week I went to Atlanta they was out there shooting. Well, that never happens when I'm there, you know. And I had a man that come in with a gun one night and said he was going to kill the man. I said, "Now look; think. You've got a wife and five children." I said, "Think before you do it." He said, "Well, I ought to kill him anyhow." I said, "Why?" Everybody else was running, and got on the floor there. I said, "Now why do you want to kill the man?" The man wasn't saying anything, you know. But somebody'd say I was the biggest fool; he said, "I wouldn't have stood there and talked to the man." I said, "See, I've got God on my side.

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I'm not scared of that man going to shoot me." Now he could have shot me, but I haven't got scared yet. You know, it's amazing. I haven't got scared yet, and everybody's just running. And I just talked to him as calm as I could. I said, "Now why do you want to kill the man?" And he said the man had drawed a gun on him. I told him, and he was just cussing and [unknown]. He said, "Excuse me, Mamma, but I'm going to kill this boy." And I said, "Well look. You've got a wife and five children." I said, "Think about them. You kill him and you're not going to have your wife and five children." "Look," he said, "I'm going to listen to you." He went on and got in his car and left.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Wow.
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Then I told the other man, I said, "Now you go on home." So these are the type things, you know… They're there sitting up behind them desks telling me what's happening out here. They can't do it. You've got to get out here and get involved with these people and know the heartaches and the sadness. And like I tell them, being black and a minority, you know, I feel like in some of the issues I could help them. I feel like in some of the things I could be an asset to them. In the problem of housing: now, one old lady lives in a house up there. If I'd pursue it they'd tear her house down in a minute. Now where would the poor soul go? She don't have anybody, nobody to go to, nobody to turn to. Oh, if I could take you on a tour of the place. I carried the newspaper man and showed it to him; I've carried the inspectors. I won't show them a lot of the homes, because old folks ain't got no money. And this is it: if I had the money, God knows I'd build these houses and put them in it, you know. But what are you going to do? And like I told

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them up there, I look at them. Mr. Herndon is eighty-one years old. He's got all that profit and all that money. Like I told them, I haven't seen a Wells Fargo truck or a furniture truck yet going to a cemetery behind nobody. They carried nothing with them. And you know, there's so much they could do to help humanity if they would. Now Paul Geddy died with all that money. If he had left me a little of it I could do so much! [Laughter]
KAREN SINDELAR:
True.
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
So much I see needs to be done. And the ones that got it, they won't do it. What're you going to do?
KAREN SINDELAR:
Where would you start if you really had more power?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
If I had more power I'd start with the housing, trying to get some decent houses for these old folks to live in. Then recreation, to get these young people off the corners. And I would try to program them, their minds and their bodies, physically and mentally. I'd try to get them in their churches, you know. I'm not saying saints is in the church; no, the church is the hospital for the sick. But there's so many things that… If I had the time I could just get out and talk with the people. And that's why I say I'm going to trust God and give up my job, 'cause I feel like there's a lot he wants me to do, and I can't do it on the job. So if I was to come to you for a meal, I will. [Laughter]
KAREN SINDELAR:
I'll give you my address. [Laughter] I'll be glad to feed you. You'll have to call a couple of hours ahead of time so we can plan on your coming. But really, I'm serious: if you need a meal you're welcome.
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
I'm really thinking seriously. My vacation comes the first week in July, and I don't think I'm going back, because I told the man I

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was going to give him a resignation. He said somebody wants it; "Well, you give him my job." So he has all the confidence in me, and he knows that his money's safe with me. I'm glad people trust me, you know, but I'm getting too old to work as hard as I have to work. And every first of the month the young folks mess up; they want to go party.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Have you ever thought about maybe trying to work for Carolina Action as a paid employee? I know Carolina Action doesn't have much money.
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
No, they don't have enough money to pay me.
KAREN SINDELAR:
I mean, they have some people that they pay, and obviously you're important enough in the community that you could do a lot on the issues.
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Well, then that job would be too confining too, because they'd want me to go a whole lot. What I would be doing, I'd be working on my own time, you know, and going to these meetings and resting inbetween times. I'm just not going to tie myself down to anybody right now. But I'm going to help all I can with all the issues. I'll be there if the Lord is willing to have me. But I'm just tired. I've been working all my life, and I'm just getting tired. [Laughter]
KAREN SINDELAR:
Right, right. Well, when you think back now, what do you think of as being the most significant things in your life so far?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Well, the day I rededicated myself to God. And I got so I could see the needs of the people, really see the needs. I've always tried to help people all my life. I had an incident that the Lord blessed. I helped bury a lady in '68. And I got a call last week: the lady had some money and I didn't even know it. And it happened I had started to throw the paper away… On her deathbed she had left everything she had to go to

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me. And so they found this bank account that the Lord blessed, and they sent me a check for it Saturday. So I mean, little things like this… Now I know that was manna from heaven, because I wasn't even looking for it. You see what I mean, things like that. I didn't know anything about that, because when I buried her in '68 she was poor, had no friends, nobody. So I took it on myself; I told them to take her. It wasn't no elaborate funeral, but he signed a note and I paid it off. So this came up; the clerk of court called, "Are you Josephine Turner?" "Yes." So little things like this. So I said, "Well, the Lord blessed it." Like aboration: sure, I don't believe in abortion. I said, "God hasn't made a mouth yet he won't feed. Give the baby a chance to come in. If you don't want it, give it away and let somebody else raise it, you know." And this is what I try to instill. I had a young girl come to me a couple of years ago. I said, "No, don't abort your baby. Come and live with me before you do that." Now she's got a little boy, and everybody wants him now. I said, "You tell them that's not their baby, that's my baby, 'cause they didn't want you to have it." I said, "That's my baby." He's just crazy about me; she is too, you know. And she thanked me for that. I say, "Because God ain't made a mouth yet he won't feed. He may not have what you want."
KAREN SINDELAR:
What do you think if the mother doesn't want the baby, who should take care of it?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Well, there's a lot of people that wants to adopt children. Go ahead and give it up for adoption if you don't want it. Don't kill it and all that. Somebody here will want it and will love it and raise it, you know. I just don't believe in it.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Well, after seeing your Mom do that too, since you saw your mother

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do that the whole time…
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
And the girls turned out pretty well; all of them turned out pretty good, you know. Now one girl that my mother raised, her real mother died (the one that birthed her in the world). And I called her and told her to come. She said, "I'm not coming." I said, "Yes you do. She birthed you in the world." I said, "Whether or not she raised you, she birthed you. Come on to the funeral." She said, "I'm not." I said, "Yes, you do." So she came. I said, "Well, maybe it was circumstances beyond her control why she couldn't raise you. Have you ever thought about that? There's a lot of things, you know." I had a girlfriend to commit suicide. Back in our days if you got pregnant it was a disgrace. Now if you don't get pregnant it is a disgrace. And I had a friend of mine to commit suicide because of her family. You know, it was a disgrace in them days to get pregnant. So she just didn't know what else to do; she didn't have anybody to talk to. And this is the kind of thing I'd like to do: talk to the young people and tell them where it's at, and try to head them off before they get in trouble. Do you understand? There's so many things I want to do, as I said, but I just don't have the money. And being on the job I don't have the time as I desire. So that's why I wouldn't want to commit myself to anybody's one job. So the Lord has blessed me, and the bills is caught up one more time. And I think I can kind of handle it now.
KAREN SINDELAR:
OK, now you talked about some of the best times you remember, the time especially you dedicated yourself to God again. How about some of the worst times you remember?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Oh boy! I don't even like to elaborate on them, because I

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had so many bad times: you know, like when my father died, and how hard I had to work all my life, and personal things (the children not doing like you want them to do). You know, you have all this to go through with. But all in all, I've had a pretty good life. I mean, I had a rough life, but I've had bad times. As I say, I know what it is for the lights to get cut off, and I know what it is for the water to get cut off, and I know what it is to be hungry. I hear a lot of people say it; I say, "No, you've never been hungry." I've seen the time where we… My mother taught me, "If you don't have anything in the house but bread and water, don't go on the street and tell it." And I've seen the time where we made a meal off of margerine and bread, and drink water. I used to see my mother drink coffee water and eat bean juice. That's the reason I don't eat beans today; I was fed up on them, you know what I mean? But I couldn't understand what she was doing.
KAREN SINDELAR:
When were times so bad that you all would have to do that?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
When my father died.
KAREN SINDELAR:
I see, when she was trying to support you all.
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
When she was trying to support us. With the money she'd get, by the time we paid the rent and little things… We had to eat up everything, you know. She would always stay back and let us eat; and then I used to see her make cornbread cushions, we'd call it. And that's why I tell the kids they don't even know what a hard time is. They say now what they're not going to eat, and "I won't eat this" and "I don't want this." I've seen the times where I ate margerine and bread, and it tasted like steak. And now today they get it and they say… Now steak hurts my stomach; I'm not used to stuff like that. I have to eat what I'm

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used to, you know; but I mean I didn't get it then. But seriously speaking, all in all I've had a rough life but I've had a good life. And sometimes now things get on me. A lot of people say, "Why do you laugh about it?" I say, "Well, if I cried you wouldn't want me around you, with the trials and tribulations and tests that's come up for me." So all in all we have trials and tribulations right along, but we're grateful. But all in all, the people downtown have respect for me, and I have respect for them. But they know that I know there's a lot more that could be done. Now like all of them I've been on them. I've called them "them caskets downtown." They could have been fixing up some houses for the people to live in and all. Yes, they're beautifying downtown for folks going to the shopping centers, you know. Oh, there's so much they could do if they wanted, and it just hurts. I don't want a whole lot of things myself.
KAREN SINDELAR:
How many people are involved in the East End community? What area exactly does that include, the East End community?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
OK, from Allston Avenue…
KAREN SINDELAR:
Can you draw me a little map here to sort of just show me the boundaries?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Well, I'm telling you the boundaries now: from Allston Avenue over here come on down to North Street over there. Now you come back from Holloway Street this a'way (you know where Holloway Street is?). I tell you, I'll get you a map. We've got some of the maps. I'm a poor bookkeeper, that's one thing. If I ever get anywhere they'll have to give me a secretary to do everything, because I'm a poor bookkeeper. But we're from Holloway Street back over to Trinity Avenue. This is the westward

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boundary, from Allston to North, from Holloway to Trinity. Well, if you're ever downtown to City Hall you ask them; they'll give you a map down there at the Planning Department.
KAREN SINDELAR:
They actually have a map that defines the East End community as a separate community?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Has it always been a separate community, the East End community?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
East End is the oldest community in Durham.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Really?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
It's a lot of [unknown], but we've always been closer to town. But there has been more emphasis put on it since I have been out there arguing with them about it and trying to get something done. Now, like the lights for the park: they've been asking for one for thirty years; well, we finally got them. And like this light down here, and recreation, you know. But this is one of the oldest communities in Durham. And this is what hurts so bad: like Mr. Galifinakis and Mr. Herndon and all them have all this property over here, and a lot of the other big wheels've got property over here. They let it deteriorate. But if you ride down you'll see the streets are paved now. We had a lot of unpaved streets, you know.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Right, right.
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
And so there's so much that we have been able… Not by ourselves, now don't get us wrong, but when I would call the people they would rally and go with me. But I was mostly the spokesman, because a lot of them… We had some that would talk; some wouldn't. Like I tell them at Carolina Action, you can be aggressive, but not too

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You know, you've got to handle them with gloves sometimes.
KAREN SINDELAR:
How do you do that? How do you handle someone with gloves?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
You tell them what you want, you know. But you have to give in sometimes, kind of give in with them.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Can you think of examples where you've done that, where you've sort of compromised on an issue or negotiated?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes, with this tennis court over here. They said we wouldn't get it. But we got enough people; we went there. And by me being on the Citizens Advisory Committee and working with them…
KAREN SINDELAR:
Did you have to give up a little bit to get what you wanted, though?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
No. They wanted us to, but we didn't. We gave in the sense of saying "Yes, sir" and "Yes, ma'am."
KAREN SINDELAR:
You were nice?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes, being nice, because Murphy Boyd told me we was getting on his nerves. I told him we'd get on something else before it was over, because that's why he's up there, to listen to the people. See, this is the thing: they want to do things their way. But the people put them there, and you're supposed to sit and listen to what the people say. So we compromised only in saying "Yes, ma'am" and "Yes, sir," but we didn't give an inch.
KAREN SINDELAR:
That's OK? You don't mind having to do that as long as you get what you want?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Right, right.
KAREN SINDELAR:
I see. That's interesting. The East End community, is that black and white?

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JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Do both black and white work in the community organization?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Well, we haven't got too many whites in there because mostly, I don't know, they're kind of shy or something about coming out. But when we find one that will we bring him in. I'll tell you, a lot of them have moved out of this community.
KAREN SINDELAR:
White people?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes. They took flight. [Laughter] Not too many whites left over here now, because they've moved out.
KAREN SINDELAR:
It used to be more white than it is?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes, yes, because when I was being raised up, you see, I never known what it was, this segregation stuff today, because we was raised over there on Bay Street and North Street. And that's where my grandmother lived, on North Street; and I lived on Glendale Avenue, you know, but I was between my grandmother's and my mother's. And there was whites that lived over there on Bay Street, and we was raised playing with them. We never knew this mess, you know. We fought together, go in each other's houses and eat together.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Did you go to school together?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
No, no, no, no, didn't go to school, but we played and ate together, you know. Now like my mother, we lived right across the street from people that lived on Geer Street. And Mrs. Wheeler (I'll never forget the lady's name), she would bake doughnuts, and when she would give it to her children she would call us. We would go to the yard. We never went in the house. Some of those houses we did, some of them we didn't. We just went over there, and they would come to our house. And when my father

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died and when my grandmother died they was right there in our home with food and everything. And we never knew, I mean until I got older… They would call us "nigger". There wasn't such a word as "honky" then like they call them now; we called them "whitey," you know. And we would fight like kids do today, but the next day or two we was right back to playing together. We'd get mad, you know.
KAREN SINDELAR:
So even though you called each other those names it didn't really affect you that much?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
No, it never went like it do now.
KAREN SINDELAR:
You didn't take it real personally?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
No. I mean a lot of the old folks did. The kids didn't; we didn't. They'd call us nigger and blacky; we called them whitey and reddie, things like that. And we would fight, as I say, and we would eat in each other's homes. And if things would happen, if somebody got in trouble (my father got hurt before he was paralyzed), you know, they would come to my mother's call. So I never knew. And like Miss Cole, an old lady named Miss Cole: that's where my grandmother done all her grocery shopping. And my grandmother would buy us that fifteen cent bag of candy. And Miss Cole, we would go around there and she would give us an apple. You know what I mean, we just never knew. I mean, I was raised like that. But after I got older I saw the…
[END OF TAPE 2, SIDE A]

[TAPE 2, SIDE B]

[START OF TAPE 2, SIDE B]
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
My mother was the oldest of seventeen. That's my mother there; she's dead. This aunt is dead; this aunt is dead; and this aunt is dead. But all the rest of them are living.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Where's you?

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JOSEPHINE TURNER:
I didn't even get on that. [Laughter]
KAREN SINDELAR:
You weren't in this picture?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
No, I wouldn't get on that. [Laughter]
KAREN SINDELAR:
A big family picture without you. Who's this person?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
This is one of my uncle's little girls. She's grown now; they've grown now. And this is his mother right here.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Where was the picture taken?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Chapel Hill. [interruption] One of sisters had died then, when they was all together. That's what I don't understand, when somebody dies everybody comes together, you know.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Really? So you didn't get together regularly on weekends or anything?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Oh no, no. Now when my mother was sick, every year I would give her a birthday party, and that would get the whole family together. Up until she died I'd give her a party every year, and all of them would come.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Let's see: I've asked you most of what I can ask you right now. Are there any particular outside events that you remember, like elections that were particularly important to you, presidential elections? I mean, are you very interested in national politics?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Well, you see, when I came up I came up with the Roosevelt administration. And everybody thought he was the perfect thing.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Of course you were pretty young then.
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes. But I was married when he died, because my husband come out of the Army the same day he died, on April 12 in '45. I remember that. Yes, I was young, but I remember some of the things. I remember standing

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in line in Hoover days to get that brown flour.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Really?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes. And my mother made dresses for us out of those sacks that potatoes and things come in, you know. That's one thing she always taught us: you don't have but one piece, try to keep it clean. So these things have stayed with me, and I try to instill it in my children.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Did you have any particular feelings when Roosevelt died?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes. I cried; I really did. I cried with all the rest of them because he was a good president. Even when Kennedy died.
KAREN SINDELAR:
You remember him as being a good president?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes, as far as I know.
KAREN SINDELAR:
How about Eisenhower? Do you have any particular…?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Well, I'll tell you: I'm a Democrat born, a Democrat bred, and when I die I'll be a Democrat dead. So a Republican, I… The hard thing on me was those Republicans, that bread line, and this present administration with everybody out of jobs. I mean, this is what I look at. Now, like the man may be good; the man is good. I have no qualm about no individual, but I'm looking at the things that are happening while they're in the chair. Every time one gets in the chair, the things that happen, you know. I feel sorry for Nixon: he just got caught. Like I say, all of them are doing something; that's everyday life. Until they get caught nobody never knows it. So I'm not saying Ford's not a good man. But the Republican policy, it seems like every time they get in the chair there's a bread line, I call it: people out of work. I mean, these are the things that I look at. And the Democrats may not be no better. Like one said, the Republican will starve you to death; the Democrat will

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get in there and start a war and kill you off. But one thing, they will get you jobs, you know. So this is what we're looking at. We're not looking at the man.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Do you have a preference for any of the Democratic candidates this year?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Of whose running now? [Laughter] Well, to tell you the truth, I haven't even made up my mind as to it. But I'd say I'd vote for Wallace before I'd vote for Regan and Ford, just for the Democratic party, because I know what he is. He lets you know what he is; you know what I'm trying to say? You know what he is.
KAREN SINDELAR:
I know what you're trying to say. I don't agree with you. [Laughter]
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
[Laughter] Well, what I'm trying to say is, if I voted—now I didn't say I would vote—if I voted I'd vote for him before I would the Republican side of the thing. You see what I'm trying to say?
KAREN SINDELAR:
Right. You're just picking an extreme example. [Laughter]
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes.
KAREN SINDELAR:
What do you think of Carter?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Well, he's talking; he's talking. [Laughter] See, that's it: we've got a lot of talkers and no doers, you know. But I don't feel that Carter's going to win. I mean, I feel like they're going to either draft Kennedy or Humphrey. This is the way I look at it; I feel that way. Now they may be just as bad as anybody else, you know, but that's the way I look at it. But as of now I wouldn't pinpoint any of them.
KAREN SINDELAR:
You said one other thing I wanted to go back to. You were talking about when the schools were integrated here and how your children were shifted over from Hillside to Durham High. About when was that, and

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what are your memories about it? Do you remember particular problems they were having? Anything in particular?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
No, not in particular. When they started at Durham High, that's when they (I don't know) … their grades started falling. Now my kids were used to going to school that was integrated. They were in Seattle, and out there you've got everything: Indians, Chinamen, Japanese, everything. They went to school with everything. But I don't know whether it was the way they was treated by the administration over there or the teachers and things… This man wanted to search him, and things of that nature. And I taught them to be independent and to respect your rights. And I went and told them I didn't feel like… If he had grounds for searching him, get a search warrant and search him. But if he didn't have the grounds or the proof, no, I didn't go along with him searching. You know, he wanted him to roll up his sleeves and look at his arm to see if he had needle marks. And I told him no, I didn't believe in that. So my boy said he wasn't going to be harrassed, and so I didn't quarrel with him about it.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Is that your youngest boy or your oldest boy?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
My youngest boy.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Your youngest boy, that's right.
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
So he's in the Army now doing fine. And the oldest boy, as I say, I hope he's trying to find himself.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Your oldest girl is married and has how many children?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Four girls. She just had a little girl the thirteenth of May.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Right. And the boy who's in the Army, he's married and has one child?

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JOSEPHINE TURNER:
He has one boy. And my oldest son has one child, but he's not married. So there's two boys. Each boy's got a boy each, and my daughter's got four girls.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Do you have any hopes for your youngest child?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Well, I'm just hoping that she will… She wants to be a teacher, so I'm hoping she will. These big boys, they come in here all the time and she's playing teacher. And she's dedicated to her work. So I'm just hoping.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Does she do well in school?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Beautiful, beautiful. In fact, when she was going to Head Start (the day care center thing) they have a picture where they define her as a genius, she was so smart. I don't know where she got it from. She didn't get it from me. [Laughter]
KAREN SINDELAR:
Oh, come on.
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
She was real smart. She always has been smart. And she wants hard to learn. She's very active. She's taken up Karate. [interruption] So she's very active, and she loves the church. She loves people. She's like me, she loves people. We don't meet strangers, you know, and when we can help we can. My phone starts ringing at six o'clock in the morning sometimes. Some nights I get up. I've gone and sat in the hospital all night with friends, you know, and things of this nature.
KAREN SINDELAR:
What do you feel about bringing up children alone?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Well, I had no problem. My mother was living, you know, 'til she got sick. And even in her wheelchair she was the boss of the house. We let her…

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KAREN SINDELAR:
Really?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes. My children had a lot of respect for her, even in the wheelchair. They knew she couldn't get up, but when she would call one or even to me, we'd go see what she wanted. And if she'd find something to fuss about I'd go over. "Come back here." Now I know she couldn't get out of the wheelchair, so I'd go back and listen to what she had to say. When she got through I'd go on and get up. So that's the way she talked. She was firm with them, and she loved them and they knew it. And they really loved her. Even in the wheelchair, even with the grandchildren she just was marvelous, you know.
KAREN SINDELAR:
So it was a help for you in a way, to have her around?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
Yes, beautiful. They'd laugh a lot of times and say, "Momma, you wouldn't do it for her." You know, when they gets together they gets to arguing sometimes. They'd say, "Momma I'd let them get away with murder a lot of times, but Momma wouldn't. Boy, she made them toe the line.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Did you ever regret not having a man around?
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
No, no, no, no. I don't know, I knew the children would say, "Well, you're not my Daddy." I've seen it too much, and I wouldn't subject a man to that. And I wouldn't want them to say it, because I know he'd hit one and then that would make me angry. And then it would be a lot of things. So the best thing to do is just let it be as it was. Although I think they come out pretty well so far. We have hopes.
KAREN SINDELAR:
Still hoping, right.
JOSEPHINE TURNER:
You never know.
END OF INTERVIEW