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African-American Oral Histories

Mrs. Dorothy McPhaul
Clip 2: Transcript

African-American Owners II

Running Time: 8 min

AA: Now, do you think that’s specific to the antique business? That it’s not a business that a lot of Black folks want to go into? How do you explain that?

DM: I explained it, because, I really, they think it’s, first thing they think antiques is real expensive and hard to buy. And you have to spend a lot, it’s a lot of money to even get started in. I think that’s one of the bad stigma. Another is a lot of Blacks have been around old stuff so much that they, they don’t want to be around it anymore. That’s another stigma because Blacks get rid of a lot of good stuff. Okay, and the third stigma I’d say, would be that its hard, hard work. It’s not a easy job. You have to love it. And that might cut out a lot of people because it’s so much to learn in the business. Okay? And that, just the interest. When they come to the shows they don’t see, see hardly any Blacks so they think it might be just only for Whites.

AA: Right, and you’ve been in it for so long, that you’re just a part of it.

DM: I’ve never known, I’m a part of it! Because you see, just think, I’ve never been disadvantaged, even as a kid when times were hard. So I knew no difference in White and Black. Because even though those stigmas was out there and those prejudices was out there and those Blacks and White signs only was out there I never was a part of it because they carried me everywhere they wanted to go. I went everywhere they wanted to go, Black or White. If they had a White child, this little Black baby was with her White. And they didn’t because of there was money there. So and it’s good I was raised up like that because I know no color, I’ve never been prejudiced in my life. I treat every individual as an individual. If I have a falling out and dislike, it’s not because of race, it’s just maybe a personal thing. You understand what I’m saying? And my friends, they know me so well, if I want to talk about this person over here, and she happen to be a Caucasian that’s alright. If she want to talk about this Black because and don’t have to slight me, she can do it because we’re friends we can do it, we have freedom to speak the way we want to speak. Why would we want to have to be so intimidated to say things? So we, we just, we just, I don’t care about Black jokes. You can tell as many Black jokes because I know Black and White jokes. You see? So, nothing has ever intimidated me or made me feel bad.

I can remember one time having a display. You know how they used to portray the little Black kids with little pickaninnies all over their heads, and I mean black as my shoes? And a lot of Blacks would just hate to see that. “How can you have so-and-so-and-so?” And I said, “Look here, look at that picture and look at you. Do you look like that?” So, you take the image the way you want it. I said, “That’s just the way they used to portray.” I said, “You know that’s a part of your history, that you’ve always been portrayed. So you know you’ve never been like that so why would it hurt you?” Plus it’s a part of history! I collect, I’ve got a lot of little pickaninny Black babies. And I love them! And a lot of Blacks, that’s what they collect. So why would you, you, feel hurt because you see it.

I had, let me see, one other thing, I had a German swastika and I had a letter opener with a German thing. I had quite a few German memorabilia in my case. And this time, we was doing a show at, it was at, what’s that? Baytown? Lakeline Mall! We was doing a show at Lakeline Mall. This was on the Jewish holiday, I think. And this young man came over and he saw those things in my case and he had a fit. Oh, he threw a fit about me having those. And was loud and was fast going, “Why would you have so-and-so-and-so-and-so?” And I said, “Look here, young man,” I said, “These things is a part of history. How can you erase history?” I said, “Even though you didn’t have any part, you might not like anything, ” I said, “But that’s a part of history. Even the things that you dislike is a part of history.” I say, “History can’t be erased. These things will be somewhere else regardless of whether I have them in my case or not.” So, that’s the only incident that I’ve had with that one, but he come out, I told him, “No, I won’t remove this.” I said, “Because people are looking for historical facts. History can’t be erased, it can be added on to. But it can’t be erased. I say, “You’re not a part of this. And you’re standing here. Did you endure any of those things that happened during the part that you hate so? So that’s a part of your background. That’s not a part of what you, you’re not enduring it now.”

AA: Right. Just like slavery.

DM: Yeah, that’s right, that’s right. You can’t, just like, yesterday, everything that happened yesterday is a part of our history, you know. So, how can we erase what happened yesterday? We can’t. We can make it better. If we made a mistake yesterday, like if you, you had a test yesterday and flunked it, you had a chance to make it over again today, you going, you going, what?

AA: Do your best.

DM: Do your best to correct that which you did yesterday. Because that’s there. That’s gone. Forgotten. Past. So that’s what we have to do in this day. We have to, we can remember what happened to add onto our heritage but go forward because we know how much we’ve accomplished. And that our battle is still not over because everyday should bring about some type of accomplishments you’ve made. That’s what you should do, too.

“Oral Narrative as History.” Students received class credit for this work, and were under the supervision of Dr. Martha Norkunas, director of “The Project in Interpreting the Texas Past.”

Every effort has been made to transcribe the audio recordings exactly. On occasion a word, or phrase, was difficult to hear and this is indicated by a question mark in brackets.

Dorothy McPhaul

Dorothy McPhaul

Amber Abbas

Date of Interview:
February 21, February 28, April 7, 2005

Mrs. McPhaul’s home Austin, Texas

Recording Format:
16 bit .wav file recorded using a Griffin iTalk microphone adapter plugged into a 2004 20GB Apple iPod.

Amber Abbas