Copied from Prince William County Historical Properties website
Its Black History Month, and I have a treat for you! Right in my own backyard is the preservation of history! I am not related to the Barnes family, but I truly enjoy the history associated with this property. The Barnes House was built in 1797 for a wealthy local family and eventually rented to Gavin and Susannah Adams along with 34 acres of land surrounding the property. The Adams used the Barnes House as a tavern and place to sleep for travelers passing through the area. The house and land were purchased by Moses and Nancy Copen in 1834, who owned seven slaves including Jane Barnes and her three children (included Eppa Barnes).
If you have more than one child, you realize they are all different with different needs. Well, my daughters taught me this. At the time, it wasn’t funny, but years later I can look back on it and laugh. My daughter was about six years old, a time when kids enjoyed spending the night over a friends’ house. I didn’t always let her spend the night with friends, but this night, I decided to let her go. I made sure the parents were home, and that I could reach them in case of an emergency.
Anyway, my house phone rang about midnight. Phone calls this late can be really scary. I wondered if it was my Mom telling me someone was ill, or worse yet, someone had died. I was almost afraid to answer the phone since it was so late.
Alice’s 80th Birthday (front row, center) – Tampa, FL in August 2015
It’s been a long time since I published Mom’s interview questions so you can find the prior ones at the end of this post. I learn so much about my family history by doing the interviews. For now, lets focus on the last five questions. Enjoy!
Were you ever mentioned in a newspaper?
Not really other than when I got married, divorced and purchased a home. LoL
I was not mentioned, but my boyfriend, and ultimately, father of my children, was in the Mobile Register all the time while playing football.
Who were your friends when you were growing up?
Sugar (real name was Hermine) and her sister, Punch – These friends lived across the street from my Grandma Laura’s house. Sugar and Punch had tuberculosis, which was highly contagious at the time, so I was told not to go over to their house. In spite of her illness, I continued to visit until Sugar called me and told me not to come over. Tuberculosis almost wiped out their immediate family.
Alice (friend in college). When Alice came to our home during a college break, I was 16 years old at the time and in my first year of college. All my friends, even Yanetta who was younger, went to the Elk’s Club. However, I could not attend. My mother was very strict, and she told me if I went to the Elk’s Club, I would not be able to be a Debutante. I told her I did not want to be a Debutante, but it didn’t matter. I could not go. I thought my mom was the meanest person alive!
Yanetta (pictured above, front row, right) – We went everywhere together. The movies, parties, and fights…yes I said fights! Check out this story 10 Aug 2015 – The Ditch for details on how we became fighting buddies.
What world events had the most impact on you while you were growing up? Did any of them personally affect your family?
Brookley Air Force base would periodically have air drills. This was in preparation for an attack on the United States. During the drills, all the lights, both inside and outside the home, were required to be turned out. The siren generally started about 11 pm. The thought process was that the enemy could not see it’s target in the dark.
My mother worked at Brookley; however, she lost her job because someone went to the foreman and told him that she did not need a job because her husband worked. Mom was fired shortly after that incident.
In 1964, my family moved to Chicago, Illinois in an effort to make a better living. Our first home was in a third floor apartment on the South Side of Chicago at 68th and Harper. We lived in the midst of the Black Stone Rangers’ neighborhood.
The Black Stone Rangers originated on the south side of Chicago, around 65th and Black Stone Avenue, four blocks away from where we lived. The Black Stone Rangers were estimated to have more than 23,000 members. Years later I asked my mother about the Black Stone Rangers, and she said they had a bad reputation with the police and the FBI, but they actually tried to help people.
Eventually, my parents purchased their first home, still on the south side of Chicago, near 93rd and Jeffery. When Eva and I attended James Bowen High School, we convinced our dad to let us have a house party. Eva and I were very excited. My mother helped plan the party. She made sure we had enough food and drinks. I remember my mother frying chicken and making potato salad. We decorated the basement of our new home. The basement was a finished, full length basement with a full length bar, a kitchen with all the works, and a half bath. The bar lights could be dimmed gradually. Everything was going very well. Eva knew a lot of people, so people came from everywhere.
Around 9:30 pm, my dad told my mother he saw someone smoking in the house. My dad said he was not going to have anyone smoking in His house. Then, my dad said someone spiked the punch with alcohol. Next thing we knew, our father threw everyone out of the house and the party was over in a matter of about 30 minutes. It was our first and last house party we had at our home.
Years later, Eva and I would remember this house party. It was held during a time when house parties were the going thing in Chicago.
Last week, my Mom and I were reminiscing about cousin Francis. He was special to both of us, and we have many fond memories of him. My Mother and Francis grew up together in Mobile as children. They were like best friends. They attended the same schools from elementary through high school. Francis worked at the Seafood business that Our family owned. He would go with my Mom to pick up the fresh seafood from the Mobile Bay and bring it to the restaurant to sell. Francis also delivered groceries for the business. Francis was my father’s best man at my parent’s wedding.
I knew Francis while I was growing up as a child. He was always the one that loved to have fun and cooked some of the best gumbo around! The gumbo had big pieces of crab, shrimp, sausage and rice with seafood seasoning. Unfortunately, no recipe on this one folks! Francis combined his fantastic food with drinks and dancing at his parties. In Chicago, we called them “house parties”. My sisters and I had a house party one night, and one night only. Perhaps I will share that story in a future post.