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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with John Harris, September 5, 2002. Interview R-0185. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Having fun in Greensboro, including at segregated movie theaters

Recreation for the young Harris and his peers in Greensboro included having their pictures taken and watching movies. The movie theaters were segregated: Harris and his friends bought tickets from a separate ticket booth and sat in the balcony.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with John Harris, September 5, 2002. Interview R-0185. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

KIERAN TAYLOR:
So at about what age, it sounds like you were also pretty independent too.
JOHN HARRIS:
Um hmm.
KIERAN TAYLOR:
For as long as you can remember, like would you go up Market Street unsupervised as an eight, nine, ten year old?
JOHN HARRIS:
Oh yes. My friends and I, we used to go up on Market Street on Sunday's we would go, we would go to the bakery shop. We would have, we would always end up, I don't know why we would end going to get pictures. We'd have pictures taken.
KIERAN TAYLOR:
Where would you—
JOHN HARRIS:
We would go to the photographers shop, Mr., fellow named Mr. Richmond, a nice little old man that had a photography shop upstairs. He'd take pictures and Mr. Richmond, and that's all he had done I guess all his life. When I say he was an old man, I'm not because we were teenagers, and he was, we weren't even teenagers yet. I guess we were, but he had been taking pictures for years. I've got some of those pictures that Mr. Richmond took or Mr. Troxler took. They were photographers, and for some reason we dressed up. I guess we always wanted to see ourselves. So the photographer was always an important part because back in those days they had photographers just on the street to just take candid shots. They would just take your picture, and then if you decided you wanted it, you paid for it.
KIERAN TAYLOR:
How about the theatre? You were, did you go to see movies?
JOHN HARRIS:
Yeah. I went to see, well, in our neighborhood we had the Palace Theatre. On Friday and Saturday when they had the same pictures, they had the same serials. They had a serials on Captain Midnight, the Lone Ranger, what else. Charlie Chan, these were and they had these ( ), Buck Jones, these were old cowboys. Somehow when you go, when you'd go in and you'd see those pictures when you'd come out of the movie, you were ready to imitate or emulate what you had seen. It was and families went too. They carried their children to the Palace Theatre. They had raffles at that theatre. So you come in. You buy a ticket, and then they would have raffles that raffle off fifty dollars, twenty-five dollars, hundred dollars, and so that made it attractive.
KIERAN TAYLOR:
A lottery basically.
JOHN HARRIS:
It was a lottery. So as a result lots of people—you need to cut that off.
KIERAN TAYLOR:
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. [Recorder is turned off and then back on.]
JOHN HARRIS:
Where were we?
KIERAN TAYLOR:
Well, the theatre, and would you ever go to the Carolina Theatre?
JOHN HARRIS:
Yeah, we went to the Carolina Theatre. We went, they had a section in the Carolina Theatre in the balcony. They had one in the National Theatre in the balcony. They had the Criteria. They had several other movies downtown, but you just didn't go. It was for white only. So those you didn't even think about. But the National, they had a ticket, the National and Carolina had special ticket booths.
KIERAN TAYLOR:
Even separate ticket booths.
JOHN HARRIS:
Oh yes. Separate ticket booths. Separate entrances and separate, so you had all that. You didn't buy your ticket at one entrance and go in another. They had a separate booth.