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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.