Opinion & Blogs » Letters

Jackson Ward Story Strikes a Chord, Brings Back Memories

I so enjoyed the story about North Jackson Ward ("The Lost Neighborhood," Cover Story, Nov. 8). It really takes you back to the old days, living in Durham, N.C. — 1939 it was.

My mother passed away, and my father brought the five younger children to Richmond. We were in awe of this strange new place, we missed our mother.

We entered school, got more acquainted with our surroundings, making friends, becoming more adjusted. The three younger children went to Madison school on Cary Street; my older brother and I went to Binford Junior High, 17 blocks from where we lived. For a shortcut we walked through Monroe Park from Main and Belvidere to Floyd Avenue, then on to Binford. Sometimes straight up Main Street.

We would pass by "Little Sisters of the Poor," wondering what it must be like on the inside — there was a wall around it. Walking to school we met the black children. They were walking to Maggie Walker School.

This being before World War II, seems like we all had it bad; we had plenty of food but knew there were lots who did not. My brothers would bring home kids to share our food; till this day they never forgot it. Over the years, we would visit or see each other at funerals; all were very close. Some went into restaurant business after growing up, one family had three restaurants. All did very well.

Yes, the situation for black and whites was a sad time. My brother, the youngest of the boys, would sell newspapers in front of John Marshall Hotel. Making good tips around Christmas, he would buy Christmas presents for all.

Let us all remember, in earlier years we were close-knit families. We could survive whatever came our way.

Sundays we walked from Third and Main streets to Central Airport. Dad had an airplane, and he would take us for a ride. We walked home, stopping in fields to pick dandelion greens, which my father would cook. They were very good.

My father lived to be 107. I also lost two sisters and my oldest brother; of seven children, four are still living.

I am 80 years old. We all had some good and bad times. That is life. We move on, remember, black or white. We live for now.

Love thy neighbor.

Dorothy Zapantis

Add a comment