You talked about uh, your father coming home from work, from the job, and the sense it wasn't like "Ozzie and Harriet." Can you talk about that?
Well, as I sa--when my father came home, uh, he would sit and drink with his buddies, get drunk, come in the house. And back in the '50s everybody would watch "Ozzie and Harriet" and you see the nice clean neighborhood and so forth, and we had a, it was a fairly nice neighborhood. But when he came home, it was not like "Ozzie and Harriet." He didn't put on his smoking jacket to come to the table. Ah, a lot of times he was drunk, lot of times he was hostile, lot of times he was just downright mad. But, uh, it, it made things tough. And when I think back to those days I think about, you know, some of the songs in that time, they had this song called "Bad, Bad Whiskey Made Me Lose My Happy Home," and my father used to drink some of the bad whiskey. He used to get very, very tough at times and uh, I didn't think about it until later but it was probably the fact that he and his friends worked in, in the coke oven all day long and, and they didn't have any way to deal with the frustration so it came out in the family.
If you could give me that again, but give me the fact that that's where the Black workers were consigned to.
Ok, When the guys in my stepfather's generation went into the plant, which was roughly in the '50s, '40s and the '50s, um, they basically, most of them worked in the coke foundries, in the coke ovens or around the coke ovens. They basically as a result of shoveling the coal and making the coke, worked in the lowest paid, the dirtiest and the hardest jobs. And the only thing they could hope for was to one day end up being a foreman where maybe they didn't have to work so hard, and they didn't have to come home dirty and tired and hurting. And, uh, most of these guys were like, uh, really basically good men but there wasn't any hope for going any further than where they were.
And how did that make you feel in terms of "Ozzie and Harriet"?
Well watching Ozzie and Harriet on television, uh, it just made me feel like that wasn't something that was attainable, not at that time anyway. It made me feel kind of cheated. I didn't think about it in, in that sense at that time but it made me feel kind of angry, kind of cheated. It made me wonder if the stuff as a child that I wanted to achieve, all the things I thought about achieving, whether or not I could achieve them or not because when you were coming up in Detroit, the only thing that you could really look forward to, which, with surety, was the fact that you would be able to work in the factory and that was it. If you were going to stay here, you'd work in the factory. Maybe the post office. That's it. And I didn't feel like, like that was what I wanted to do, and I feel short-changed.