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Sunday, November 1, 2009

Monday, April 21, 2008

Riverview Oral Histories #8: Marie Briscoe Kinchloe

Marie Briscoe Kinchloe, Miss Douglass of 1950

My first memories of Riverview were being surrounded by playmates, feeling safe and secure. I remember catching June bugs and lightening bugs. There were fish fries in the summer and chittling dinners in the winter for church fund raisers.

I was born in North Carolina and moved to Kingsport when I was two years old. My parents, Oscar and Erma Briscoe with my sister Alma, lived on Walnut Street (now Sevier Avenue). We moved to Riverview Apartment 29 in the early 1940's, and later we moved to Apartment 38, which was on Louis Street. Some of the good memories were playing at the flag pole and we rode our bikes carefree under the watchful eyes of our neighbors.

There were baseball games in the field across from our apartment. Everyone was friendly and seemed to be happy living in Riverview.
I belonged to the Community Junior Chorus, directed by Mrs. Ethel Daniels. We sang at funerals and traveled to nearby cities under her watchful eyes.

I believe we even enjoyed walking to Douglass School on Center Street, which we referred to as "The Highway." The pleasant experiences at school were the school plays, the sporting events and I enjoyed being a cheerleader. Other fun activities were being a Brownie and a Girl Scout. We also modeled in the Easter Fashion Show under Mrs. Pearl Graves' direction.

The negative experience for me was the Underpath, which is a concrete tunnel. It was frightening to go through and pass the Foundry to get to school. And it looks the same today. In the early years, there were several Black businesses on Lincoln Street, and the residents had coal delivered for heating and cooking. We also had blocks of ice delivered for our ice boxes.

When I was nine years old, we moved to Oklahoma. After a year, my dad died, and we moved back to Apartment 38 in Riverview, and attended Douglass School again. I married Leon Kinchloe, who was born in Kingsport and we moved to Detroit, Michigan in 1951. We had three children, Ron, Deborah and Leon, Jr. Ron is deceased and Leon and Deborah still live in Detroit. I always came back home to visit my family every year, who had moved to Apartment 57, so Riverview was, and is, very familiar to me.

When my husband Leon became terminally ill, I moved back to Kingsport. Leon passed away in 1994, and I knew then that I wanted to stay here.

Since moving back to Kingsport, I've volunteered with "Catch The Vision" in Riverview, and later worked at Northeast Technical Community College in the computer labs. I am presently employed by South Central Kingsport Community Development, Incorporated. With the HOPE VI program in progress, I hope to be actively involved on a volunteer basis.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Previous Posts

Previous Riverview Oral Histories can be seen by clicking the "Older Posts" link below.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Riverview Oral Histories #17: Jerome Pierce, Community Barber

I was born and raised in Old Kingsport which is located at the foot of Bays Mountain. We had our own school and church we attended until it closed, that's when I came up here to school. I attended Douglass School on Walnut Street. After school, I joined the Civil Conservation Corps and served in the Army during World War II.

When I came home in 1946 the first set of Riverview apartments had been built. I came back to Kingsport to live in 1951. I bought a house at 229 Carver Street and that is where I still live today. I've seen so many things change through the years. I enjoyed sitting on my porch and watching the children play, and exchanging conversation with people passing by. Years ago on Easter Sunday, the little boys and girls would walk around all day with their new clothes on carrying their Easter baskets. You don't see that anymore, I just don't see the young kids running and playing outside until dark and parents have to call them to come inside. The most pleasant thing I saw was how people took care of their property and how they took responsibility raising their children.

My three daughters (Staralee, Sherry & Aleea) all attended Douglass School. My son (Jerome Jr.) and I always enjoyed going to the Boys Club when it was at Douglass. All my children enjoyed it when I took them to the Douglass football and basketball games. My wife, Lizzie and I were active in the PTA. I was the president of the PTA for two years, one year with the assistance of Alene Sneed, and Inez Ervin we were able to get Wilma Rudolph as the speaker for the athletlics banquet, and the next year Mr. Gill helped us get one of the basketball players from Tennessee A & I as our guest speaker.

Another thing we used to do for the families in the community was a Christmas Dinner at the American Legion. Most people called it 'The Hut", but as members of Burdine Post #123, we liked entertaining the children. We also had one day, Thursday I think it was, that we could take our kids to the carnival when it came to town. On that day we had to operate the rides and sale the refreshments ourselves, but we didn't mind as long as our children got to enjoy the fun.

I used to let the Scat Cats practice in the back room of my house, now that was something.. listening to those young men go over and over the latest songs so they could play at a dance somewhere that weekend. They played for black and white organizations.

The one thing I did early in my life after moving to Riverview was to cut hair. I attendedTurpin Barber College in Richmond, Virginia in the late 1940's. I used to cut all of the little boys hair, Saturday was of course the busiest day. The fathers and sons would come, some mothers and sons and there was always the group of boys that got together after playing all morning that came in. I tell you those kids would have sand in their hair from playing in the sandbox.. it was really something, but I enjoyed every minute of it. I see some of those same young men today and they are not only grown, but some are retired. Later I used to go around to the sick and shut in, Dewey Long, Mr. Woods and others and cut their hair. Time seems to pass so fast. I'm 86 years old now, and I hung up my clippers a long time ago. But I still enjoy it when people stop by just to say hello.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Riverview Oral Histories #16: Mrs. Shirley Burnette Powers

PHOTO AT LEFT: In the 1952 Douglass Annual, Mrs. Shirley Burnette Powers is in the second row, on the right hand side.

MRS. SHIRLEY POWERS: First, I want to thank Mr. Calvin Sneed for giving me the opportunity to write about my history in Kingsport, TN as I can remember it. My name is Shirley Burnette Powers. My husband is Wallace Powers. We live in Chattanooga, TN. We have three grown Children who live and work in other states, Denise, Ben and Cindy Powers. My parents were Mr. & Mrs.William (Jack)(Lena) Burnette. I am one of eight children. We lived in the area of Kingsport, down below the Kingsport Press, where my father worked for 44 years. The name of the street is Roller Street. My fathers parents lived down there, Mr. & Mrs. Will (Lucy) Burnette. My Mothers parents, Mr. & Mrs Claude (Mattie) Ray and the other families, to name a few who were our neighbors then were, Mr. & Mrs. Henry (Viola) Summers, and children, Mrs. Della Lee and Children, Mrs. Viola Summers mother. We lovedto play all day together, when we could. My grandparents and the other families mentioned, moved to Riverview about the same time. One day in 1941, my daddy's brother, Mr. Herman Burnette, who worked for the Kingsport Times told my sister, Gwen, (Mrs. Gwendolyn Norwood) now, she was the oldest and I was next to the oldest, that he was going to take us to Riverview the next day to see where we were going to move and live. It was truly one of the highlights of my life. First I was thrilled to see the Playground right in front of the Apartment where we were going to live and thrilled again at the large apartment we were going to move in. Our next door neighbors were Mr. & Mrs. Thomas Cartwright. They lived in Apartment 53 and we lived in Apartment 54. We had the largest Apartments. Later, when the Cartwright family moved out of their apartment, we moved in. We had more bedrooms and our brother, Mr. Major Burnette had his own room. My other brother, passed away when we lived on Roller Street at 9 months old. His name was Winford Burnette. The other sisters were Mrs. Phyllis Jackson, Mrs. Annette Johnson, Mrs. Jackie Hicks, & Mrs. Deborah Malone. Some things were already mentioned, which I will not repeat. We loved Wednesdays in Riverview because the "Picture Man" would come in the evening and show movies, where the Playground was. We always had a wonderful time on the Playground and when it was time to go to school, we walked, and did not mind the snow or rain. We had no other way to get to school. I remember Fred & Mandy's store and Luke & Mary's store going to and from school, we would sometimes be able to stop, if we had some money. We would all share with each other. In Riverview we loved going to Mr. Collins' store, Edges Place owned by Rev. Edge, one of my pastors at the Bethel A.M.E. Zion Church and the Midway Grill, owned by Mr. Paul Taylor. When they built the swimming pool in Riverview that was a plus, because we could not attend the other pool in the city. I remember our parents allowing us to go to Clay Hill, now it is Bays Mountain, to pick blackberries. My mother made blackberry pies, dumplings and she also canned blackberry jam and jelly, which were all delicious. My favorite teacher in school was Mrs. Scoggins. I thought it was real special when we moved from Riverview, to 953 Maple Street, she and her family lived across the street from us. Even though we had second hand books, we were taught well by our teachers because they cared about us. I won a financial award from a speaking contest. I won first place and because of my grade average, I received a scholorship to attend Knoxville College. I graduated from Douglass High School in 1952. Because of the typing skills I learned at Douglass, I was able to get a job as a typist at the Church on campus typing the bulletin every week. I graduated from college and began my work career by teaching in the Chattanooga School system as my first job. I loved the way all parents and teachers were concerned about the students. I said all this to say, with the help of all parents and teachers who were concerned about us, you can always make it if you try. In our neighborhood you were corrected by all adults, not just your parents. This helped you to become a better person. I was a member of Douglass High Band. The first Band. The Director was Mr. Shannon, I played the french horn. One unusual thing about our uniforms was that all the girls in the band wore skirts instead of pants. We were proud of our Director and our Band and the whole town was proud. We had a Bible teacher who taught a Bible class in all the Schools. I was in a play in High School with my cousin, Mr. Lawrence Ervin and Mr.Hugh Hord. I don't remember the name of the play but it was one of the best. I can remember how we had to practice and practice at each others house, because we had the lead parts. Now as I look back over that experience, it proves that you can do what ever you decide you want to do. I did not think we could do what we did. Don't pass up an opportunity to learn and gain experiences. I worked at the MidwayGrill, the swimming pool, the Central Baptist Church Nursery with Mrs. Betsy Sneed, the Director. She was Horace Sneed's mother, and other places, which helped me with my needs in high school and college along with my parents being there always. We were grateful to have a public Library in Riverview. Mrs. Helen Hickman was the Director. We always look forward to the summer, when school was out. The Churches would schedule Vacation Bible School, one week after the other. We attended from 9 AM to 12:00. Trips were sponsored to Trammell's Farm sometimes afterwards. Mr. Sam Trammell's parents had a farm near Kingsport, and we loved to go there. Mr. Sam Trammell was Mr. & Mrs. Cartwright's nephew. So he and his family were close to us also and we all grew up together. Mr. & Mrs. Sam Trammel owns Hardricks & Sons Funeral Home now in Chattanooga, TN. Mrs. Gertrude Trammell is the Director. Along with my Parents, the Church and School had the greatest impact on my life. We went to Sunday School and Church every Sunday unless we were sick. Everybody did.. We attended all services and activities on Sunday, including evening services. We sang in the Youth Choirs. We learned our Easter and Christmas speeches and were excited when it was time to say them. I will always remember what going to church meant to me. Another wonderful experience for us was our Church and others sponsored trips to Chattanooga, Tn to go to Lincoln Park. We would look forward to it, because we could not believe there was a Park that had all the rides and activities, and it was owned and run by Blacks. I have so many memories I would love to share, but most of all I always thanked my parents and everyone who had a part in making an impression on my life. Again, thank you Mr. Sneed for this opportunity. May God Bless you.

Riverview Oral Histories #15: Mrs. Helen Bunting

PHOTO AT RIGHT: Unidentified children pose for a picture in the Riverview Apartments.

MRS. HELEN BUNTING: I grew up in Riverview on Carver Street. I remember when there were dirt roads, and I also remember when the streets were first paved over with blacktop. When it would rain, we would play in that dirty water.. we would pretend we were swimming. Across the street from where we lived, there was a woody area and my youngest brother Eddie and my nieces Yvonne and Charlyne and my nephew Jimmy who are about my age, would play over there, catch tadpoles and pick blackberries. There were very few houses in Riverview. When my family came to Kingsport, they lived on Maple Street and they moved to Riverview when I was about four years old. My father, Willard C. Long, Sr., and my mother Ressie (Hoard) Long moved to Kingsport from Hawkins County, three of my brothers, Walter, Willard and Cecil and one sister Roberta, were all born in Hawkins County, and my sister Virginia was born in Virginia. My brother Eddie and I were born in Kingsport on Maple Street. The youngest sibling in my family, Charles, was born when we lived on Carver Street.. he died as a baby. I played mostly down in Riverview because that is where my nieces lived and in my backyard and front yard on Carver Street. We would play ring games, we would play jack rocks on the porch, we would draw hopscotch on the sidewalk, ride bikes and skate. I liked mostly everything about Riverview, even when the streets flooded because I liked playing in that dirty water. I didn't know it was a bad thing. The Underpath had a horrible ordor (people would use the bathroom under there and it would flood). We had to use the Underpath to go to Sunday School because our family belonged to Bethel A.M.E. Zion Church, and to get there from Riverview, you had to use the Underpath. When I was in first grade, I went a half-year of school at the old Douglass School, at the corner of Walnut (now East Sevier) and the old Bristol Highway (now Center Street). We still had to use the Underpath. After Christmas that year in 1950, I attended the new Douglass School on Washington Street (now Louis Street) in Riverview, and we no longer had to use the Underpath. After Sunday School, we would go to the movies and we'd have to use it, sometimes we would walk the tracks, which was really forbidden. When the Underpath was flooded, we would climb over and walk the railroad tracks. I remember walking down to Emmitt Collins' store to buy candy. I remember going to Paul Taylor's store to buy things. I remember going down in Riverview to the sprinkler, playing, going to the wading pool and on Wednesday night to watch movies., we would take a blanket to sit on. I think the reason they really built a pool in Riverview was because Johnny Hall drowned.. he went to the Holston River to swim and drowned. Another reason was probably so we would stay in Riverview at that time. We have some people from our community that because somewhat famous. Brothers Stick McGhee and Brownie McGhee. Stick had a song called"Drinking Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee." Brownie played with Sonny Terry, he also wrote the sound track for the movie "Buck and the Preacher, starring Harry Belafonte and Sidney Portier. My sister Virginia's brother-in-law, Johnny Cartwright who's originally from Kingsport, played with Harry Belafonte's band for several years. Lesley Riddle of Kingsport was an African-American guitar player who directly influenced the (A.P.) Carter family. We had several black doctors.. Dr. Massey lived in the projects.. he had five kids and I played with his kids. There was Dr. Todd, he would come to our house, make house calls. There was a black woman doctor named Dr.Francis, and also Doctor Faust. Mr. Palmer was a coach at Douglass, helived on Carver Street and I played with his kids. During the month of July, the carnival would come to town and there was one night that was called COLORED NIGHT. The white American Legion would sponsor the carnival, but would let the Black American Legion have one night proceeds. Because my father was the commander of the American Legion and my mother was the president of the Ladies Auxilliary, they would take me to the carnival on that day. We would stay all day. The proceeds from that night's activities would go to the Black American Legion. The building where the American Legion had meetings and other activities was called "The Hut." There are good things that happened becuase of integration, we received a few more opportunities. The bad thing was, we lost part of our culture.They tore down the old Douglass Street (on East Sevier), the Black teachers lost jobs, the Black businesses are all gone, and the Douglass Yearbooks and trophies are all missing. Douglass School was named after Frederick Douglass and that school name is gone.. now there is Dobyns-Bennett, named after local white men.

Riverview Oral Histories #14: Mrs. Nora Mae Taylor Alexander

PHOTO AT RIGHT: The old Dairy Mart ice cream parlor owned by Jason and Nora Mae Taylor on Lincoln Street. The former 229 Club was the last tenant.


When I first saw the Riverview Community, I was living across town. My husband (Jason Taylor) and I drove over to the community. There were only four houses over there and street names had just been assigned. Riverview was divided into four streets eastward: Wheatley, Louis, Carver and Dunbar. I remember three houses being on Dunbar, Mr. Nelson Smith, Mr. and Mrs.Nathan Byrd, and Mr. and Mrs. Jim Stafford's. In 1945, Jimmy Quillen had built two duplex apartment buildings on each street. We moved to Riverview in 1945, after we built our house. The school and the project housing were built about the same time. On Dunbar Street in 1945, Jason Taylor's house, Mr. Dobbins, Mr. Sneed and his sons, Mr. Preston Collins and Mr. Alfred Smith lived here. The rest of the neighborhood was built later. Mrs. Bessie Hipps gave the community the name Riverview because the river could be seen, so she said. Actually, the river was on Industry Drive below Riverview. Paul Taylor and Mrs. (Cora) Cox had a dry cleaning business and a grocery store and Midway Grill, an eating place. The people from the brickyard ate beans there every day. Mr. Emmitt Collins had agrocery store, too. JasonTaylor built the Dairy Mart where milkshakes, sundaes and hot dogs were sold. The swimming pool was open and very busy. Rev. Edge had a store where hamburgers and hot dogs were sold to the school children. Mr. Hodgehad a coal business, that Oscar McClintock later turned into a barbershop. Mr. Horace Curry turned his building into a mortuary, and now it's Robinson's Funeral Home there, beside the Elk's Lodge. At the time, the pleasant part of Riverview was Cement Hill before they started digging. It was like a nature sanctuary full of birds, wilderness and woods. We enjoyed the wild apples, strawberries and blackberries. The young children used to play out there.. Helen Stafford (later Patterson),Virginia Phipps and Nathan Bly were children back then. Riverview began to grow after people built houses on the lots they had purchased. The unpleasant part of Riverview was the dumpsite, where the Eastman Credit Union is standing today (on the other side of Wilcox Drive). I was pleased to get the swimming pool in the community back in the1950's. Mrs. Cox had a store in which we had the Boys Club meetings. Mrs. Leola Allen started the Women's Service League at Rev. Edge's store. She also started up a YWCA for women who came from out of town to stay, while they worked. This was part of the Women's Service League's functions. The Dairy Mart was located where the old 229 Club is now. Riverview also had four African-American doctors at that time. They were Dr. Francis, Dr.Faust, Dr. Todd and Dr. Massey.