Keywords: 1928; Franklin Roosevelt; Molotov cocktails; all black town; black businesses; black wallstreet; civilian conservation corps; cooking rabbits; dust bomb; dust storm; garden; land owners; national recovery act; race riots; the great depression
Subjects: Community and Identity; Rosie the Riveter / World War II Home Front
Keywords: 1942; 9th cavalry division; FDR; Fort Clark; Franklin D. Roosevelt; Louisiana; dental work; health care legislation; middle class; republicans; riots; segregation; signal corps; start of the war; the draft; troop train; white officers; world war II
Subjects: Community and Identity; Rosie the Riveter / World War II Home Front
Keywords: California; Malcolm X; Martin Luther King; NAACP; Thomas Jefferson; black population; civil rights; civil rights movement; immigrants; segregation; shop ins; sit ins; slavery; slaves; the congress of racial equality
Subjects: Community and Identity; Rosie the Riveter / World War II Home Front
REDMAN: Today is June 21st. My name is Sam Redman and I'm in Stockton,California with Warren G. Gaines.
REDMAN: Gaines. G-A-I-N-E-S.
GAINES: Warren Gamaliel Harding Gaines.
REDMAN: Gamaliel Harding.
GAINES: Gaines. I was named after Warren G. Harding.
REDMAN: All right. That's great. I'd like to ask you about that in a moment.Today is June 21st and we're in Stockton, California. I've asked you to state your name. But will you tell me where and when you were born?
GAINES: I was born in Goodnight, Oklahoma, which is five miles from LangstonUniversity, on the farm, my daddy's farm.
REDMAN: Can you tell --
GAINES: In 1920.
REDMAN: Can you tell me a little bit about who your parents were and what theywere like?
GAINES: Well, I can tell you about my parents. From what I know in my research,I've learned who my parents were. Very few people know who their parents are. 00:01:00
REDMAN: In terms of actually knowing who they were?
GAINES: I know my parents.
REDMAN: Can you tell me a little bit --
GAINES: My father was born in 1867 in Waco, Waco, Texas. He was the son of animmigrant Jewish German from Germany. I know my father but I don't know my grandfather. My grandfather was a slaveholder. His name was Heinrich Mueller. His son was my father, Heinrich Mueller. He had two children. The original German had two children, Aunt Fannie, and my poppa was named Henry Walter. But 00:02:00his real name was Heinrich Mueller. He was a German immigrant slaveholder, which there's a lot of them here that you don't even know. They don't even tell you that they were Jewish.
REDMAN: So was he farming? Did he have a homestead?
GAINES: He had 5,000 acres of land.
REDMAN: Five thousand acres. That's pretty amazing.
GAINES: Well, land in Texas was nothing at that time. But it's a very uniquestory. It's hard to explain and I had to do a lot of research to explain it. Now, I'm going to tell you what happened. My father's mother and father were slaveholders. They had a vast amount of land. They loved to ride horses. At the age of two years old or three, they were riding and the horse reared up and 00:03:00killed Heinrich Mueller the first's wife. That left him with two kids, Aunt Fannie and my dad, Henry Walter. I'm going pretty fast through the story. What happened was that left him with those two kids and he was all taking care of his vast cattle and so forth. But you won't find this in your history because a lot of this is blotted out. What I know and did in research and went down there and found out about it by research. Then I found out some things. Oh, they going to say, "Oh, you're lying and all this stuff." And I didn't understand it until later on in my life.
REDMAN: So when you were growing up, I'd like to get just a feel of when you00:04:00were a kid, this sort of history wasn't really talked about in this way?
GAINES: I'm telling you about my history, what my daddy told me.
GAINES: Okay. So what happened was the slave woman by the name of Aunt Hannahraised his two kids. You understand?
GAINES: Because she was the housekeeper, which was the slave had -- was runningthe household. She ran the house until this man, Henry Walter, Henry, Heinrich Mueller, got married again. You understand?
GAINES: He married an American white woman. Okay. She was taking care of thesekids, taking them back to the slave quarters at night with her and she'd be up there with him. Well, I mean, well, after he got married, she'd take them down. This woman didn't like these two little kids because she started having children of her own, of which she had four kids. Four boys. Okay? Pretty soon poppa tells 00:05:00me that he stayed in the slave quarters and grew up, he and his sister, with these slaves, okay. The ex-slaves because this was 1867 when he was born. You see? But slavery was really going on because they had no place to go. The slaves had no place to go. But poppa stayed there until he was about fourteen years old. Everyone understand? But he stayed in the slave quarters and was raised with the slaves, with the ex-slaves.
REDMAN: So often what people are taught in U.S. history textbooks is that thiswas then an era of sharecropping in the south. But it sounds like very much a continuation of the slavery system in reality for these people.
GAINES: They didn't have anywhere to go. You understand? This is on my father's00:06:00side. Now, later on I'll tell you how I understood it after I got to be older. My father was German, German-Jewish. You understand?
REDMAN: Yes, that's --
GAINES: Okay. Now, we'll start right there because we'll -- my dad -- when youtake a look at his picture you can tell he doesn't look like me. He says I look like him a lot. But he's a little small German, black hair, kind of almost blue eyes. You understand? I know who I am. My Aunt Fanny had long blonde hair and they both married African Americans. You understand? And people do not understand the south if you've never lived there. If you went on a slave plantation in the south after slavery or during slavery you see more mulattos 00:07:00there than you do today because the white man mixed with the slave women. It was nothing. He had babies in both places. His children had babies there.
REDMAN: And that was just accepted as a part of life?
GAINES: That is accepted but they don't like to talk about this. And when youstart running your history, you will find this -- do you realize that 52,000 blacks passed into the white neighborhood? I mean in there, changed their identity. When you mention Warren G. Harding, you mentioned Warren G. Harding.
GAINES: Look up his history. He's black. Have you ever known that before?
REDMAN: He was one of the people that passed as a white person.
GAINES: I say, did you ever look up his history?
REDMAN: I didn't know that about him. That's interesting.
GAINES: Well, look it up. Look it up and you will find --
REDMAN: It's really interesting.
GAINES: And that's where I got the name Warren G. Harding Gaines. My daddy namedme after Warren G. Harding.
GAINES: Now, when you look it up, they're going to deny this. A lot of them00:08:00going to deny. And there's one movie that you can find it. [From Up on Poppy Hill] is a movie that was made about guys that passed over. And another one is -- let me think of it right now. Just a movie just made. It's a lot of whites that think they -- look at Bill Clinton. He's nothing but a big nosed mulatto black guy that passed over. Read his life story and you'll find out who he is. But when you pass over, a lot of guys don't want to accept it. But now it's a little bit different. You understand?
REDMAN: Right. Tell me --
GAINES: Now I'm going to tell you about my mother.
REDMAN: That's great. Tell me about your mother.
GAINES: Tell you about my mother. My mother was born in 1882. She was thedaughter of a slave. Near as they can figure, my grandfather was born on the 00:09:00slave side, on the African American side, he was born around in the 1840s as a slave and he was beaten and done everything to. He was Ashanti. Now, the reason I know he was an Ashanti, there is a tribal mark on the Ashanti that my mother didn't have it but her aunty had it. My grandfather had it. My grandfather had it. You understand? My father's sister. Okay. I didn't get a chance to see it but my older brother and sister saw hers, see. Okay? She had the tribal mark under her left eye, okay. It was a half moon turned upside. The female was upside when the moon like receiving. And the topside on the right cheek of the 00:10:00male was down like this? You understand? I know who I am but you can't tell me who I am because you're not writing the history for me, I have to find out for myself. Europeans don't write history about African Americans or Native Americans. They write the history about Europeans the way that they see it. When Columbus come here and say he discovered America, how in the hell could he discover a country with already twenty-five million people in this -- in -- you understand?
GAINES: History is in the eye of the beholder who writes it.
REDMAN: Tell me then about how the -- do you know how they met?
GAINES: Now, wait a minute.
REDMAN: Oh, go ahead.
GAINES: I'll tell you how they met. My father, when he was eighteen, twenty, hemoved into Waco. Now, poppa learned how to be a carpenter. How did he learn how to be a carpenter? The guy that built all the furniture and all the equipment 00:11:00and stuff for the plantation, the Mueller plantation was black, okay. He took my dad and taught him all of this and poppa took his name. The Gaines. He named himself. This guy named himself. He was married to the lady, Aunt Hannah, who was the slave woman that raised the kids. But, you see, they stayed there until my daddy got to be about eighteen years old, then he got out on his own. Okay? Now, the reason he got out on his own, he was about twenty-three years old when Heinrich Mueller passed away. Heinrich Mueller left my father and my auntie, Aunt Hannah -- Aunt Fanny, nineteen hundred acres of land apiece when he passed away. He had four kids. My brother, he got a chance to meet some of his uncles. 00:12:00They were white. And they told him, they said, "Henry wants to be a nigger, let him be a nigger." The woman had kicked him out into where the slave woman raised him and that's where he stayed. Poppa took his land and he sold it. Now, I'm going to get ahead of this, now get ahead of my story. And Aunt Fanny married a guy in Waco, Texas. And if you go there now and search the records, you'll find she was. But, you see, here's what happens. In the south, if you marry and you're a light skinned person, all they have to do is say, "I'm a black." When I was in the service, on the bus in New Orleans -- no, in New Orleans, I'm from 00:13:00New Orleans, really, and we got on the bus. It's segregated. Blacks sit in the back and come up when you move a sign up and it says -- so we got on the bus. Bunch of guys on there from New York. And the bus driver says, "Hey, you guys, you have to sit back there. They move us up." So they said, "We can't sit back there. They're all white people back there." "Those are mulattos." We just laughed. You understand that?
GAINES: Because this is the way the south. But here's one thing I cannotunderstand about America. Why is it they will not accept the real history in this country? They'll tell you about -- listen to the radio. "We built this country." You didn't build shit. The thirteen original colonies were built by slaves. The White House was built by slaves. My sister was teaching at Howard 00:14:00University. I'd come to listen a little. She says, "Come to Washington." I said, "I don't want to go to Washington." She said, "Oh, come on up here. You will see a lot of things." I said, "I'll go." She said, "I'm going to tell you about the White House." I said, "For what?" I said, "How in the hell I want to go see a White House that slaves built, put the dome up there, they don't know how they got it up there?" And you tell me to look at this building. They don't tell you it was built by slave labor, do they?
REDMAN: Right. Yeah. No, they don't.
GAINES: Okay. Well, let's --
REDMAN: So then how did your parents meet?
GAINES: Here's what I'm going to tell you.
GAINES: Okay, my dad got married to a mulatto woman. Her name was Lily Basham.She was half-breed. It was a slave. Probably daddy was a slave owner. He met her and he married and moved to Oklahoma. Maybe in eight or nine years after the 00:15:00running of 1889 he moved into Oklahoma and bought 160 acres of land. Okay. He built his house there. They built a house there and they owned the land. It's 114 years old. We still own it. I still own my land in Oklahoma. One thing I tell people now. If you get you some dirt, don't sell it. You know they're not making no more dirt. That's the reason I bought this five acres forty years ago. I live in the country. Okay. My mother's father got in his wagon, these were all wagon days, and drove to Oklahoma with his thirteen children to settle in Chandler, Oklahoma. He was a very mean man because he had been beaten and 00:16:00everything else. But he moved there because he wanted his kids to go to school. There's one thing about people that don't understand. African Americans have always clamored for education because they were denied it, to read and write and so forth. They were very egotistical about getting an education. And what I can't understand now, what has happened to the whole America? My mother wanted an education so bad, she had raised seven children, plus the three that my dad had when he first met her. I had a ninth grade class with my mother and she was fifty-one years at that time. And they asked me, say, "Aren't you ashamed?" I said, "I'm not ashamed of my mother because she wanted an education." You understand? So it's very hard to understand if you're not an African American who is searching for who you are and what -- that's the reason I can express myself so well. I know who I am. The average person don't know. Do you know who 00:17:00you are? Do you know who your great-grandparents were?
REDMAN: Not the way you do.
REDMAN: Not the way you do.
GAINES: Oh, well --
REDMAN: So tell me, then -- so --
GAINES: So they met, my mother. Well, now I'm going right down.
GAINES: My mother, or her parents were not educated. And when they said hobo,they said, "They're hoboes," they don't know what hobo really come from. At that time in Oklahoma they didn't have equipment like we have today. These people would get in bands and go chop cotton and pick cotton for the farmers in Oklahoma that needed help. And they would put their hoes on their shoulder and go chop the cotton. You understand? My dad had his 160 acres of land. Now listen. He had the three kids. Jonie Mae, Marcella and Stella, his three girls. 00:18:00My mother was in this group of about fifteen guys, was chopping the cotton my daddy's ranch, farm. You understand? So he picked her out because she was very neat in doing this work and he brought her to the house and says, "Would you take care of my kids while I oversee the ranch, the farm." She says, "Sure." They got together and started talking and he said, "Well, I like you. I think I want to marry you." He wanted to have sex with her then. She said, "No, no. I'm twenty-three years old. I don't have sex with no man until we're married." Poppa married her and nine months and twelve days after they were married they had my first -- my sister Leatha. He already have three kids. So she raised those three kids. Now, we're five miles from Langston University. My dad believed in education because he had had an eighth grade education in Texas. Now, listen, he 00:19:00had the Blue Black Speller [Marion Webster's Blue Black Speller dictionary] which was a book about that big. It had everything in it. History, English. It's just one book. Okay? Now, my dad wanted education so bad for his children that he sent them to a Catholic school about three miles away from where we were, my two older sisters. My older sister and brother, they got a Catholic education. Now, when poppa moved there and bought that land, he started farming, and 60% of the land was owned -- around him was owned by African Americans, was owned by blacks. And there was some Germans by the name of Wien that had a farm, 160 acres, next to ours where it was joined. My brother would hunt with those Wien 00:20:00boys and they were just like brothers. You understand?
REDMAN: So even though the schools were segregated you would hunt together?
GAINES: Yes. Listen, what makes segregation is a few people that are poor anddon't understand and they want to keep -- the white man is smart. He uses the old English ruse, divide and conquer. If you can keep two people fighting against each other, you have them. That's it.
REDMAN: So you see as the bait? That the Jim Crow structure that was set up wasso powerful there because of that dividing mentality?
GAINES: Absolutely. That is a whole problem. If America would just face up tothe fact of what happened to the two most important people in the United States, what we call the United States, is African American and the Native American. 00:21:00Approximately, then make a rough figure, say maybe from eighteen to twenty-five million Indians here in this country. Why is it we only have less than five million now? Huh? Something happened. Why don't you just tell the truth. They exterminated them. So I can't dwell on that because -- but these are absolutely the facts I'm telling you.
REDMAN: But in your family's experience, even though they were next to someGerman families, they would still hunt together or do certain things together?
GAINES: Hey, look, I'll tell you -- well, I'll skip a little bit. In 1954, Iwent to Oklahoma, my brother and I. We had some oil wells on our place there in Oklahoma. We went there to see about it. He said, "I think I'll go and see about 00:22:00those Wien boys. I said, "The Wien boys?" He said, "Yeah, you know the Wiens that used to live right next farm to us." I said, "Yeah." He said, "Oh child, I want to go over and see them." I said, "How in the hell we going to go see them? Man, I don't know where those people live." He said, "Well, I'm going to the post office," and found out where the rural address was. It was funny. He found out where they were. Here come this guy -- now, they had a lot of hunting dogs, old, you know, teeth out and everything. They were Germans. He was old. He was getting old. They were up in their fifties. So he said, "Man, there's the mailbox. I think I'll stop by and holler." I said, "Okay." He said, "Now, here comes a guy humpbacked." And the guy walks, "Walter, is that you?" They ran out and hugged each other. Man, they start talking. And damn, those dogs all around. Now, they did everything but kiss. Then he pulled out that jug and they started 00:23:00drinking it, moonshine out of -- got drunk. I had to put him in the car. See, now that is how close they were. You understand? And those Germans lived all around. It was a funny thing about those German people. They wasn't very prejudiced. It is a fact. Now, so far as the school you mentioned, in the school, okay, I was raised in the country. My daddy had seven kids by my mother. Four boys and three girls.
REDMAN: And were where you in the --
GAINES: I was living on the country, in the country. I was just born. And I cango back to the time I was five. I can remember this very well. You didn't go to school until you started in the first grade. Didn't start having no kindergarten. We learned to read and write at home, you know. You were taught there by your mother and father. They would teach you this. Okay. I had to walk a mile and a quarter to school. Now, I'm living in the country and we had timber 00:24:00wolves at that time. And I've seen the wolves. They'd be out there looking at you and we'd go to school right down the road. And I was the only kid there, my sister and I. But as I grew older, they moved to Langston. My mother sent my two sisters was going to school there, high school there at Langston. We went to high school on the college campus because the segregated school was there and it had -- excuse me -- they had a high school there and a college but the high school and the grammar school up there was used to train teachers, you understand. It was all on one campus. Wasn't but one black school in Oklahoma and that was Langston University. I went to high school on a college campus and grade school on a college campus because that's where the teachers had to practice on us, you understand. So that's where the education come in. My father wanted us to have -- and my mother wanted us to get an education. So if you were 00:25:00following me very closely, education is a prerequisite that all people should have and I believe in education. And my father sent all his kids to school. Now, my four sisters all become teachers. I have one sister that graduated from Boston Conservatory of Music and I have one sister, my older sister, or my next to my oldest sister, which was one of my father's first kids, she graduated from Kansas U, KU, because she went to high school on the Langston campus but poppa didn't want her to go to a segregated school, so he went her to -- but she come back and taught in Langston and in Luther. Okay? Luther, Oklahoma. You understand? So when I become old enough to go to high school, I went to high school right there on the campus. Now I'm taking you right on up.
REDMAN: So something happened there in the midst. Is that in 1929 something that00:26:00would have seemed --
GAINES: That's what happened.
REDMAN: The stock market crashed.
GAINES: Here's what happened to me.
REDMAN: Okay, great.
GAINES: In 1928, I was eight years old to about nine. The Depression started. Mydaddy had nine thousand cash dollars. Cash money. These guys were jumping out of the windows and killing themselves. You understand? My daddy hung on for about two years. The first time I seen him cry he had to sell all his stock. We had forty head of stock. You couldn't sell them, you couldn't give them away. Then the Depression set in. 1932 and 1933. My sister was just getting ready to graduate from college, Fanny. She was named after my Aunt Fanny, okay. She got married. Okay. My other sister and my brother Verne, they were up there on the 00:27:00campus at Langston. See, my dad built a house in Langston, bought some property in the little town, a black town. Now, this is one thing about me. I'm a very unique person. I was raised in an all black town. There are fifty-two black towns in Oklahoma. You never heard of that before, huh?
GAINES: See, they don't tell you the history.
REDMAN: In the 1920s in Tulsa there were a number of riots.
GAINES: Absolutely. I'll tell you about them. Yes.
REDMAN: I was wondering if you can tell me -- .
GAINES: I'll tell you about the riot. I was born in 1920. This is in 1921 andthey've told it to me several times. The blacks got in wagons, got their shotguns and they got everything and were going to Tulsa to get into the riot. My daddy was getting ready to go, too. Understand? Now, the blacks had 00:28:00thirty-nine blocks of black businesses. This is not in your history book. They won't tell you nothing about it. It was called the black Wall Street, okay. My two uncles, OD and RD, on my mother's side, were killed in that riot. They were twins. They volunteered to go there to fight. They fought. They went over. They burned thirty-six square blocks of black businesses. And you know how they burned them? Aerial bombs. You won't find that in your history books. But what happened was they sent to Oklahoma City and got some piper cub airplanes and flew over the black neighborhood and dropped Molotov cocktails and set the whole place on fire. It's in the books. Now, what you have to understand is they don't 00:29:00tell the truth. Now, Oklahoma sued.
REDMAN: No, that's fine. [Audio adjustment]
GAINES: Oklahoma sued but now they wanted to give them some back pay for theirhomes and things. And this guy settle, say, "Well, you give them some scholarships instead of giving them some money." You understand? There was a lot of black businesses destroyed. I mean, what happened in Tulsa -- people come up from Greenwood, Mississippi, from Texas, from all these places in Oklahoma because Oklahoma was a free state. Oklahoma didn't become a state until 1980. That was a territory state.
REDMAN: Other than there being all of those businesses there, why did thatbecome such a major flashpoint for the broader black community? What possessed, 00:30:00say, your uncles to go, to travel there?
GAINES: It was freedom.
GAINES: Freedom. People from Tennessee, from plantation come from Tennessee. Allthese people coming in and they start setting up black towns, black -- see, Oklahoma was one of the first states that was supposed to become a black state.
REDMAN: Let me just make sure you're -- because you're hooked up. [Audio adjustment]
GAINES: I'll just give you a little small inkling of my background, of myhistory. I won't go into too many details.
REDMAN: No, that's good. Now tell me about, from your perspective, the effectsof the Great Depression. You talked a little bit about how that affected your father. When you were a young boy could you see these things happening?
GAINES: Being like I told you, I was reared as a middleclass up until theDepression. We had buggies, horses. We had all of this, everything the middle 00:31:00class. We had a Model T Ford. My dad had bought a new Model T Ford in 1925. Paid cash for it.
REDMAN: Which was a big thing.
GAINES: Big thing. Oh, yeah. We lived good. We had everything. I remember when Iwas about seven, I guess it was. My dad, we'd go to church and we would sit in the back, my sister and my brother and I with the other two kids. We were older. And they would be setting up in the buggy. Poppa would be driving the two white horses and we'd sit there. Beautiful, you know what I'm saying? Come home and get some ice from wherever the little store was, the black store. Smith had a black store. Get ice, come home and make ice cream, homemade ice cream. We had an orchard. We had an orchard with everything in it. We lived good on the country. I love the country. But, you see, no cars, very few cars. I grew up in 00:32:00this environment. But after, when I got to go in the high school, when I was thirteen years old, the Depression hit. It's thirty-three years. I'm really seeing it hard. I got in the Depression. I went to fourteen and fifteen. It really was hitting me. I didn't have clothes to wear. No shoes. But we still had the farm and we had a big lot in town. How did we live in town? It's a rural town. We had almost an acre of ground in town with a house on it. We had a cow there. I'd milk the cow. Momma raised a garden. We ate out of the garden, and what we would do -- if it don't be for rabbits, I'd be dead. Because I hunted and killed rabbits with a twenty-two. What mom ma would do, she would cook them and can them for the winter, make sausages out. How we got all this? You had to 00:33:00hustle to live. But when the Depression come it was tough, not only on all the blacks, it was tough on everybody. Now, then, after the Depression, we had the dust storms in Oklahoma. You ever heard of that?
REDMAN: Can you tell me about the dust bowl? The dust storms? What was --
GAINES: The dust storms were the most terrible thing you've ever seen.
REDMAN: What was that like to live through?
GAINES: The dust storms were the most terrible thing you've ever seen.
REDMAN: What was that like to live through?
GAINES: It was like this. Just like you see a sandstorm here? That went on fordays. You didn't see the sun. And the sun was just full of dirt. Nothing but dirt. And if it come a little rain, it rained down mud. I'm not talking by hearsay. I saw this with my own eyes. You understand? Now, at that time my brother had gone. Nobody in the house. My sister had passed away. This was in 1937. My brother and sister had passed away, okay, because -- not like we would 00:34:00think it was today. Because my sister had what they call strep throat.
REDMAN: Strep throat. Yeah, sure.
GAINES: Let me see, it was 1936. Thirty-six, yeah. Because they called me andsaid, "Well, she was in the Catholic hospital in Oklahoma City." And they said she needed blood to save her. "You have to come over. If your blood will match, we'll give her a transfusion." I said, "Yeah, that's my sister," you know. I went there and she was there. "Which hand?" This is this big vein. I put it right there. You can see that vein from here.
REDMAN: Oh, yeah.
GAINES: I gave my sister blood. They didn't have it like it is now. You haveplasma now, you see. And I wish they had been able to give the man that discover plasma, just like they did me, you know who that was?
REDMAN: So then the dust storms, would that confine you to the house? You00:35:00couldn't do farm work when --
GAINES: There was no work. What you going to do? Listen, the thing that saved usfrom having a revolution in this country, and people don't give him credit for it -- if he hadn't done what he did we would have had a revolution.
REDMAN: Franklin Roosevelt.
GAINES: Franklin Roosevelt organized the first NRA. You know what that meant?
REDMAN: The National Recovery Administration. New Deal.
GAINES: No. The National Recovery Act.
GAINES: That's right. Which really explained the whole thing. But then after theNRA came the WPA, Work Progress -- Work Progress Administration. Then they had PWA. You understand? And one of the streets that my business is on downtown, they still have a sidewalk that was built by the PWA, which is Public Works Administration. 00:36:00
REDMAN: So these New Deal programs --
GAINES: Saved us.
REDMAN: They hired young men.
GAINES: No, they hired young men but they hired -- when I came to California --I was getting ahead of myself. They had the CCC camp.
REDMAN: The Civilian Conservation Corps.
GAINES: That's right. But now, look, I'm going to tell you right straight on upthrough it. Now, I'm sixteen years old. I'm getting ready to graduate from high school. Two months to graduate. My brother was working out here. My other brother Laurence was here. He was in California. Everybody come to California, see, before I come. So my brother come home and he says -- Momma told him to say -- he said, "I'm going to take Warren G. back to California." "No, you can't take him. He got to finish high school. He got to stay here." He says, "No, he's starving to death here." Says, "Look at his shoes. He don't have any shoes, he don't have -- " You know what the most embarrassing thing for me was? I went to 00:37:00a football game, high school football game. Everybody stood up and yelled. I went to get up and yell, my pants split right down the seat. I didn't have no pants. They were clean. My mother washed them so much I had no clothes. My shoes were -- my brother said, "You going with me." [phone ringing]
REDMAN: Do you want me to pause?
GAINES: No, no, just let it ring. Now, his wife had finished at LangstonUniversity, my brother's wife. In fact, he met her when my mother -- my mother had this house that the kids was living in. My two sisters and my other brother was living there and she took in roomers that would go to school on the campus. He met this girl from Cressen. Her name was Odessa. And he started going with her and they got married. She graduated and she graduated as a teacher. She 00:38:00majored in education. He came home and got me in 1937 and got his wife and me and we got on a freight train and come to California.
REDMAN: You were sixteen?
GAINES: Yeah, going on seventeen. Seventeen years old. I dropped out of schoolwith two months to go to get my high school diploma. But my father taught us, yes. He said, "You girls, you get your -- I'm going to make teachers out of all of you." All of my sisters are teachers." He said, "You get you an education." He said, "But you boys, you make whatever you make on your own. Don't never let anyone harness your brains to make so much money a month or a year. Make as much money as your brains will allow you to make." I've never worked for anyone in my 00:39:00life. I work for myself. You understand? So he brought all of us here to California on a freight train. Now, I had never been on a freight train before in my life. The train runs -- is two miles from Langston but that's just a little small train. When I got on the train, I went to Guthrie to get on the train, it was something new to me. When I got on the train, we went down to Rock Island and we got on the main line coming to California. When I got on that train you would see hundreds of people on top of this train. I am the original Grapes of Wrath.
REDMAN: So that was a real image for you? There were people on the train --
GAINES: Absolutely. Yes.
REDMAN: -- going out to California.
GAINES: I saw a guy, this is a white guy, on a freight train, a mattress, a goat00:40:00and his three little kids. And we were coming to California. It was a parade really. But, you see, people don't want to let them touch them. I tell the truth about it. I know what it is to be hungry and I tell people this: You don't know what it is to be poor unless you were once poor. Once you were poor you never forget what happened to you. Something happened to me. Now, my brother and I got off. His wife got sick down here at San Luis Obispo and she went and told -- went up to the -- going up to the hospital, she was telling someone a black lady took her in and kept her while my brother and I came on. In San Jose, California, I'm sixteen years old, seventeen. I was hungry because I didn't have anything to eat on the freight train. Two or three days, you were begging, 00:41:00begging. I was sixteen and I walked up to this white guy in San Jose. I said, "Mister, I'm hungry. Would you give me something to eat? Give me a quarter?" The man gave me a dollar bill, a white man. So this is what I'll tell you. All people aren't racist. Some people have sympathy for you. You don't know what it is to be poor unless you be poor yourself. That's the reason I teach my kids about being poor, because once you're poor you learn how to economize.
REDMAN: Did that change? It seemed to change your life a lot in terms of goingfrom driving with your dad in a Model T, you guys had everything, and then to not be able to have shoes or pants. Is that --
GAINES: It was terrible.
REDMAN: It must have been very hard emotionally.
GAINES: It was hard emotionally. But see, the boys left home but the girlsstayed there and went to school and got their education. My sister taught in 00:42:00Oklahoma for fifty dollars a month. So she was teaching before I come and she would help my mother with us after she had graduated from -- got her teacher's credentials. But it's a tough story. But you don't give up and that's what I tell people today. Give out but don't give up. Always have something in you. Like I'm ninety-two years old. I have other projects I want to do. But once you start that -- now, I was in the CC camp, too. But you know what saved this country, and they don't want to tell the truth about it. What do you think saved this country for what it is now? The Depression. What do you think happened?
REDMAN: I think the New Deal was a big -- I mean, essentially --
GAINES: Excuse me. After the New Deal, while we were still not out of theDepression --
REDMAN: World War II comes.
GAINES: Hitler. Hitler saved this country. What do you mean saved it? Theystarted the factories to working, they started airplanes building and they 00:43:00brought people from all over the south. Do you know how many people left the south, not including blacks? Over one-third of the people left the south coming here. I said you was an immigrant.
REDMAN: Oh, yeah, that's right. That's right. We're all kind of immigrants tothe state, right. Yes.
GAINES: Kaiser shipyards up here. Up here in Washington. The aircraft companiesup there. You see, this is what happened.
REDMAN: So how do you first get hooked up with the Civilian Conservation Corps?With the CCC? How do you first get that job?
GAINES: Okay. They had what they called the NYA.
REDMAN: The NYA. The National Youth Administration.
GAINES: I was in the NYA.
REDMAN: What was that? What was that like?
GAINES: There's an NYA. They'll give you food and lodges and clothes and allthat stuff. But tell you --
REDMAN: For young people.
GAINES: Yes. They say you can join the CCC camp. So I say, "I'm going to jointhe CCC." I joined the CCC camp and went down here to San Pablo. San Pablo dam 00:44:00in Richmond, California. There was only seventeen blacks in Richmond at that time.
GAINES: That was before the war.
REDMAN: Only seventeen black people in Richmond.
GAINES: In Richmond, California. San Pablo was none. I was stationed at SanPablo. What was San Pablo? Show you something. San Pablo was a camp, a CC camp. Do you know who was there? All the blacks from California, Washington and Oregon were in the CC camp in San Pablo dam in Richmond, California. That's segregation. That's where they had all -- I know some fellas now from Oregon and Washington, some guys that I met from Washington. You understand?
REDMAN: They were in that camp? So it was a segregated --
GAINES: This was segregated and they brought those kids from those three states.We having the same thing now. What you talking about, Gaines? I'm getting into something that's very, very deep. It's the third largest business in the United States. 00:45:00
REDMAN: Prison system.
GAINES: You got it. You got it.
REDMAN: So you think it's --
GAINES: You pretty sharp.
REDMAN: So now instead of having the National Youth Administration and the CCC,we've managed to desegregate those things but instead we're funneling young people into prison. This is how you --
GAINES: Here's what happened. Get this book.
REDMAN: What is this? This is The New Jim Crow.
GAINES: The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander.
GAINES: And it tells you about what is happening. Now, let's go through oneright quick. New York City in 2011, 2010-11, had over 50,000 kids, whites, blacks, Puerto Ricans, and Mexicans and underprivileged people smoking a joint of marijuana. They go to jail first time. They say, "Okay, we're going to call 00:46:00this a misdemeanor." Okay. "We're going to give you a three year probation. You come back up here, we're going to give you some time." Okay. You know they're going to smoke another joint. Eighty-six percent of them smoked a joint. They come back. This time say, "Now, what we're going to give you a felony." You can't get food stamps, you can't get tuition fee, college. You can't get anything. What do you do? You going to commit a crime, okay. You commit a crime. Where they going to put you? They going to put you in the jail. So if you don't have enough jails, what do we do? We'll build another jail. Okay. We'll build another jail by the state. So no, Wall Street say, "No, let's put in some private prisons. We'll build some private prisons." Okay. Here's a lobbyist over 00:47:00here, says, "Okay, you got a private prison. I got a dairy. I'll furnish the milk." Okay. Like I tell people, if I had a contract with the state to sell toilet paper to California, eight hundred thou -- now, you talk about the food stamps, sure.
REDMAN: Yes. When you were working with the NYA, with the National YouthAdministration, did you have -- so I know that was a program. That must have been a lifeline for you.
GAINES: It was a lifeline but it was just something to eat. Because, see, when Ifirst come here, I never used that to make my living. When I came to California, I was only about seventeen, going on eighteen years old. When I got to be 00:48:00eighteen I was working my own business. I got me a lawn mower. Had iron wheels and I got me a bicycle and I pedaled down the street in the white neighborhood asking to get their lawn cut. I lawn cut, twenty-five cents a lawn. Might take me all day to cut it. I made twenty-five cents. I kept doing that until one day I was working, a lady, Ms. Laroca, I never will forget it. On the flower garden. She said, "You want to cut lawn?" Say, "Yes." She say, "How about digging my flowers?" I say, "That's fine." She said, "I'll give you twenty cents an hour." "Oh, that's a great deal." I worked for her for almost a year but I worked on my own. I said, "Now, I'll come and I'll work. It'll be twenty -- you can't pay me by the hour so you have to pay me by what you think it's worth," because I didn't want to get no wi -- so she started paying me. I bought me a little 00:49:00Plymouth truck and I put my tools in the back and I started doing lawns. Should have stayed in that business. I'd have been rich. But, you see, always made my own living. Never worked for nobody.
REDMAN: But then tell me about what your experience was? We'll get back to thatin a moment. But I am really curious to hear about life in the CCC camp.
GAINES: Well, the life --
REDMAN: And what sorts of projects you did.
GAINES: Okay. The life in the CC camp is just -- they did roadwork and they'recutting trees and all that kind of stuff. But I was a little bit too sharp for that. I didn't get out there and do that kind of work. So the guy started asking me, he says, "What can you do?" He says, "Can you come in here and work around the hospital?" I said, "Yeah, I'd be glad to."
REDMAN: Around in the CCC hospital?
GAINES: Oh, yeah, they had a hospital and everything there.
GAINES: And he saw that I always was interested in medicine and I picked upeverything that he showed me how to do and learned sterilization and all this 00:50:00kind of stuff. And he says, "Well, you're pretty sharp." Said, "Why don't you stay in here and we'll make a little office out of you, give you a stipend." I said, "No, I don't want this." You see, because it was 1938. Work was opening up then, see. Opening up because 1939, it started opening up because Hitler had marched into Danzig, see. And so things begin to open up. I come back to Sacramento. And then I had to, about twenty, I was eighteen, you had to register for the draft. Well, I had to register. So I didn't want to go in the army because I had been in the CC camp. Said, "Why didn't you want to go in the army?" Why in the hell should I go into the army and fight for something that I don't have here in this country? And I stayed out and I did everything to stay out. I got a government job working at Mather Field and I was working as an aircraft mechanic. I'm pretty sharp when it comes to little things, see. Because 00:51:00first thing, I'm real good at math and people don't understand. What most people don't understand about African Americans, they're pretty sharp, some of them, and they can hide it to let you know that he's not as dumb as you think he is. But a lot of times they put on an act to make you think they dumb. But you have to use the charade to get along in this world. Now, you take a woman that's scrubbing the floors and she's doing all of this dirty work. "Yes, Ma'am," and so and so. She's sending her kids to college while she's doing that. You understand? Did you see The Help?
GAINES: That show was how it works, you see. But why? Why? I asked thisquestion. Why is it white people hate us? Could you understand why? I don't 00:52:00understand why. They done all the dirty work, they done everything to make you what you are and look at today. This guy up here talking about what he's going to do for people, Romney, and when he was read that we were devils. We couldn't go to heaven unless the white man took us. You understand? And he's up here talking all this bullshit he's talking. This is crazy. Don't you know we can see through that, fella? I hope you're not a Mormon.
Begin Audio File 2 gaines_warren_02_06-21-12.mp3
GAINES: I'm going a little ahead of the story. We were talking about educationand working for yourself. I was telling the interviewer that I had a grocery store, a barber shop and an ice cream parlor and I was coming home at night and a policeman picked me up. They always follow black people at night. That doesn't 00:53:00bother me. I was coming down Charter Way. I said, "Oh, got a cop following me." He was in one of the patrol cars, in a city car. I knew what it was. Followed me all clear across to the outer city limits and turned the corner right here onto Carpenter Road. Pulled me over. He says, "Keep your hands on the steering wheel." I said, "All right. I got my hands on the steering wheel." Said, "What you got in the car?" I say, "I got my bag in the car," and I say, "I have a pistol laying down." "You got a gun?" I say, "Yes, I have a gun." He says, "Keep your hands on the steering wheel." The other got out on the other side and placed the lights on. Says, "What are you doing with that gun?" I say, "I run a business downtown." "I think you're lying." I said, "Well, I told you, I think, I have a business downtown." So they call the desk sergeant. They say, "We got a guy named Warren Gaines here, he got a gun, a loaded gun," blah, blah, blah, 00:54:00blah. He say, "Oh, that's Mr. Gaines." Say, "Don't bother that fellow." You understand? This is racial profiling. I meet it all the time. I know how to -- see, here's a proposition with police. This is a mistake that the police department in every city that's made, they go get some yokel that don't know anything about the African American community. Doesn't know any, can't hablo espagnol, nada, and put him on the force. Here he comes from a small town, don't know anything, and he reads all these books and he's a punk in the schoolyard, put a badge on him. He's going to take it out on every person he see that he can kick his ass. You understand? And I was against hiring people out of the city limits. You understand? Because they hired guy --
REDMAN: Because you don't know the community.00:55:00
GAINES: They don't. They don't go into the community. They're afraid to go inthere because they was afraid on the schoolyard. He don't know how to talk to people. Guys be clowning, going on. He think the guy going to cut his throat. The guys just be kidding with each other. You got to be in the community. This is the reason why this fellow that's running for President today, he doesn't know anything about poor people. He don't even know what a donut is.
REDMAN: Right, right. So we're in 1939. So you've now left the CCC and startedgoing into business on your own?
GAINES: No, no. Thirty-nine, I was only nineteen years old.
GAINES: Twenty we started the war. Now, this is the time I worked for thegovernment. I had to work as an aircraft mechanic and I was doing the work. But I was working there to stay out of the army because I was married. I didn't have 00:56:00any children. But I was married. I worked for the -- and I got deferred, you understand, clear up until 1942.
REDMAN: Can you tell me about December 7, 1941 when Pearl Harbor was attacked?
GAINES: Yes, Sir. I can tell you exactly what happened at Pearl Harbor.
REDMAN: What was your --
GAINES: I was working.
GAINES: I was working as an aircraft mechanic and then I went in theconstruction work because they let black people in the union. Now, what are you talking about? We finally got into the union. They paid eighty-eight cents an hour in the union. Construction. Airfield union. I got in the union. Started pouring cement. I was doing dirty hard work. I poured cement all day the night before Pearl Harbor. I didn't know about Pearl Harbor until the next day because I slept that Sunday and I went to crawl through the fence like -- and they put the guns -- "What are you doing?" I said, "I'm going back to work." He say, "Man, don't you know they just attacked Pearl Harbor?" I said, "I didn't know 00:57:00anything about it." That was December 7, 1941.
GAINES: That's right. I remember that.
REDMAN: So being in the union was a big deal?
GAINES: Big deal for blacks. We couldn't get in the union. Couldn't get in the union.
REDMAN: And then once you finally did get in the union was there a particulartension or attitude about --
GAINES: Yes. Not with the construction workers. There was no attitude becausemost of those guys were doing construction work were poor just like we are. They'd come up from Oklahoma and all that kind of stuff. They were just transient just like we were before the war. But now some of them, the racism begin to come out on these guys that come out of Arkansas, Oklahoma, Mississippi and everything. When they got you in, they wanted to bring the same tactics as they had down there. They had the same thing going in in California. Of course, that was when I was picking fruit. You know, like these harvest workers pick fruit. I picked fruit. What are you talking about? That's what I had to do. My 00:58:00lawn wasn't working or my business wasn't working, I worked with a little short handed hoe, picked tomatoes for three cents a box. Let me tell you, when I first come to California I had never seen a five dollar bill.
GAINES: On my own. Because my brother was already here. He was working for theround house at Western Pac -- Southern Pacific Round House. He was a janitor down there. That's all he was doing. But he told me, said, "Man, you can go out there and pick up spinach. They pay you three cents a box." So I said, "Three cents a box?" He said, "Yeah. They'll show you how to do it." I went crazy. I picked one hundred boxes of spinach at three cents a box. That's three dollars. I took that money. After a week I think I made fourteen or fifteen dollars. I 00:59:00put it in the post office, postal savings bank. I have not been broke since then.
REDMAN: Wow. That's amazing.
GAINES: Three cents a box. I never been broke since. And I don't make any bills.Nothing. Because my dad taught me, says, "Son, don't ever pay interest. Take interest in. Don't pay out interest."
REDMAN: Tell me about your feelings about FDR.
GAINES: Franklin D. Roosevelt saved this country from a revolution. If he hadn'tdone what he did, look where we would have been. We would have riots. I mean real ones. Shooting. But he held it until Hitler come along. Then they opened it up. But someday this country is going to revert back to what it was originally 01:00:00for. Rich people are not going to run this country forever. And middle class people are going to be the ones that change it because it's no sense in five people running the whole country. You know who I'm talking about. You know who I'm talking about? The five people?
REDMAN: No. The five people? Who are the five people?
GAINES: Where did our money come from?
REDMAN: The banks.
GAINES: Who owns the banks?
REDMAN: Help me out here. Wealthy business owners who own it?
GAINES: JP Morgan.
REDMAN: JP, yeah.
GAINES: Rockefeller com -- those are the people that run the country.
REDMAN: Yeah, right. Right.
GAINES: Now, what if those people want to put the clamps on us like they doingtoday? Now, the first thing they're getting ready to do now -- I don't know how the Supreme Court has been bought. The health care bill that they're putting up 01:01:00now is the best thing that ever happened in this country but they don't want that. That's all. I can't [understand].
REDMAN: I'm just curious about the start of the war, then, and that job.
GAINES: Well, the war come on. They finally drafted me.
REDMAN: They finally drafted you. Okay.
GAINES: Yes. I was drafted in 1942 and they sent all of us up from these threeor four counties to Sacramento to be examined.
REDMAN: Into the army.
GAINES: No, to examine in Sacramento and then we'd go down here to Fort Ord. Sothey examined me and everything. Lot of blacks and everybody's all together and we went down there to get examined and so forth. I passed. Sent down here to Monterey. So they were shipping us out to different places. So we were all together, integrated and everything, going fine. Of course, you know, California 01:02:00has always been integrated. But you live in different parts of town. So anyway, when I got down there they say, "Well, we're going to send you to Texas." I say, "Oh, go to Texas. Oh, I've been through Texas." Hop on a freight train. Texas they run me like I was a rabbit. So anyway, we got to Texas. Segregated army. I went into the Ninth Cavalry Division. My IQ was over 120 so they put me in the Signal Corps, okay. Fifteen thousand blacks in one spot. That's right. But, see, the army's divided Signal Corps, medical, engineers, fighting division, and all this other stuff. I was in the Ninth Cavalry Division. Horses. They had horses 01:03:00in it. Segregated. All the officers were white and no black officers, nothing. And most of them were first or second lieutenants, didn't know shit about nothing.
I'll tell you one incident that happened to me when I was there. You had to goget your teeth examined and filled and all that. So I went up there to get my teeth filled. So this guy started filling my teeth and he put that grinder right on a nerve. And I said, "Man," I said, "you got the grinder on a nerve." "Shut up, soldier." I said, "Man, look," I say, "I'll tell you what. You cannot fill my teeth." "Open your mouth. I want to fill your teeth. Soldier, you just sit down." White guy. I grabbed him by both his arms and I started to the window. We going to jump out of the window on the second story. He hollered and the lieutenant come. "Turn him loose." I said, "What the hell? This guy's grinding on my teeth. Doesn't he understand that he's hurting me?" He said, "You just sit 01:04:00down over there. We go to the MP." I said, "I don't give a damn who you call, you understand?" So he called. We calmed down. Captain Marks stuck his head in the door I never will forget, said, "What's wrong, soldier?" I said, "I said this guy don't know about filling no teeth." He was a ninety day wonder. Called himself a ninety day wonder. We called him lieutenant. He said, "You come back tomorrow and I'll feel your tooth." Captain Marks, the next day I come back, he came there. He sat me down. He said, "You have to understand. You're in the army now." I said, "Oh, we're talking about being in the army." He said, "Some of these guys don't know how to do anything and we just let them do it." I said, "But that's hurt." He said, "Now, you be careful. You'll get yourself in trouble." There's always somebody that understands. He fills my tooth and we get along fine. He's Captain Marks. He's from New York. He saw me later. "How you doing, Private Gaines?" 01:05:00
We were at Fort Clark. That's where the fort, we were at Fort Clark. It's 120miles from San Antonio. Then there's Randolph, Kelley, Honda Field and all these air bases around there. We were on the bus going from Commerce Street over to the Squeeze In. That's a black place that they had dancing and all the music and everything over there. We were on the bus and we were all drinking, everybody drinking and having fun on the bus. This girl, white girl comes sit down beside this black guy on a bus that's supposed to be segregated. Now, I've got the uniform on. I wasn't in this. So I was there sitting on the bus. He says, "The 01:06:00minute I started talking the bus driver said, 'What are you doing talking to him?'" They got in an argument. They were from New York. She was from New York down there and he's from New York. They started talking. He stopped the bus and kick him off the bus. And when he started to kick him off, he called the police. Here come the police. So people getting to crowd around the bus like that. We were all in there. All over the bus. Now where is she? You don't understand it. But wait a minute. One of them guys stuck his head through the window. The guy slapped him and beat the shit out of him.
GAINES: Here come the provost marshal, because you going to have a riot therebecause the white folks were rioting. Black folks be. That's the race riots because we were outnumbered. He said, "Can any of you guys drive this bus?" This guy said, "Yeah, I drive a six by six, eight by eight. What do you mean?" He said, "Take this bus and drive it away." These guys in the south, when they run 01:07:00a troop train from Texas and got to go through Alabama and Mississippi, they shooting the damn planes at the black soldiers. Don't you let nobody tell you they didn't.
REDMAN: Right around the same time I understand there's a growing campaign inthe African American community starting around '43 called the Double Victory Campaign, where African Americans are talking about why would we fight Hitler and fascism in Europe when we don't have the civil rights here at home that we're supposedly fighting for. Victory abroad and victory at home. So it seems like the racism that you confronted in the army during that time, it would make one wonder why are we --
GAINES: Why do you think that the blacks didn't want to go? They didn't want to01:08:00go. I've seen guys that were North Carolina guys that went to Germany in the war, got their eyes punched out, they got beat up and everything else after they come back. Why? Because they thought they'd fool with a white woman. Let me tell you something. As long as they were screwing black women, it's all right. But let one of them guys start messing with white girls, it's altogether different. I started my barber shop in 1945 here in Stockton. I've been there sixty-nine years.
GAINES: I've seen rich people come down there looking for black whores. They'reasking me, say, "Hey, man, you know where I can find a nice young white -- black girl?" I say, "Yeah. I say, let's do it." I said, "Now, you bring me a nice young white girl and we'll have some fun." Then he gets mad. You understand?
REDMAN: So it's a big component, the racism and the sex. Sex and sexuality.01:09:00
REDMAN: Why is there that [complex] intersection?
GAINES: I don't know. But it's got to happen. It's getting there now. It'salmost there but it's not quite there. Look, and the worst thing is your police department and your detective department and your justice system. And I can tell you things about the justice system. I'll tell you one incident happened to me. Now, the crack cocaine and the cocaine, this is a different thing. The drugs in the forties and the fifties was really, really going rampant, you know what I mean? In the forties, in the fifties, in the sixties. [Later] we start having crack cocaine. Methamphetamines hadn't started up until about in the early seventies, you know.
GAINES: I'm working in my barber shop. I'm using a razor that time, cuttinghair. This policeman came in there. I'm standing there cutting hair. A guy come 01:10:00up. He had on a white uniform like he was working a drug store or something. He said, "Hey, man," said, "you know where I can get some reds?" You know what red devils are, don't -- red devils at that time was a pill.
GAINES: Yes. Red devil. You know where I can get some marijuana or some heroin?I say, "No, just a minute. I'll tell you." Set it down." And I grabbed him by both his shoulders like that and I kicked his ass out of my barber shop, hard as I could kick him, right down the street. I said, "You come back in here next time I'm going to cut your damn throat." Next day here comes the policemen. This little guy said, "You remember me?" I said, "Remember you?" I said. "You remember kicking me out of here yesterday?" I said, "What for? Oh," said, "you the guy that asked me for them drugs." I said, "You're lucky I didn't cut your fucking throat. I don't sell no drugs here. I'm a businessman." And old Quail 01:11:00and Bird -- these guys was named Quail and Bird. They were big on call detectives. I knew them. And, of course, I'm on the street all the time. And I told them, I said, "You know I don't sell no damn drugs." I haven't been bothered since.
Now, here's where I likely got in trouble. I'm standing out in front of myplace. Sun was shining. Now, they had the paddy wagons in. You never seen the paddy wagon here. A paddy wagon is where they used to pick up the drunks on the street. They'd throw them in there. They'd be drunk and throw them in. So they threw this drunk in there and his leg was sticking out like that and this guy closed the door on his leg. Wham. Bam. I said, "Man, what are you doing?" I said, "Don't you see that man's foot sticking out there?" "You better get back in that barber shop, boy." I looked at him. I said, "You don't have to do that." 01:12:00Wham, wham. He closed the door. That's a white guy closing the door on another white guy. So that just goes to show you the mentality that some of your policemen have.
GAINES: That's kind of terrible, isn't it?
REDMAN: It's terrible. Let me get back to the war for a moment. Tell me a littlebit about the experience that you had in '44 and '45. I'll ask about the end of the war in a minute. Tell me about '44 and '45.
GAINES: Forty-four and forty-five. I got out in '44. In '43 I was down in Texasand I was in the Signal Corps. They broke up Signal Corps. They were sending blacks overseas. It was hot then. It was really getting -- guys was at Anzio, and they were in Germany and every place. They were going to send us overseas. But we were technical. We did pole line construction and we did radio receiving 01:13:00and pole line construction. And it wasn't like it is now. You didn't have a radio and all that kind of stuff. Just a very little bit. Because we hadn't elevated into that part of technology. So they made our signal corps -- see, the signal corps is the background for the whole unit. They broke up the whole unit. They sent some of the engineers someplace and some of the guys that was in artillery, field artillery, they sent them. But so much was happening down there. If you study the history of blacks down in the south you'll see that they had a lot of riots but they don't mention it very much in your books because they try to keep it out of there, let you know what was going on. But anyway, they sent us to Fort Clark. I mean to Camp Crowder, Missouri. That's where I was in, Camp Crowder, Missouri. I was married then. I got my wife down there. Of 01:14:00course I didn't have no children. Because she was drawing my little -- I was only getting twenty-nine dollars a month. So she came down. Because when I was stationed at Fort Clark, Texas we would send convoys into Mexico every weekend. Now, why would you send the soldiers over there? Because they had open prostitution there. And they'd send all these soldiers over there. A whole 2,000 of them or 3,000. And you'd go into the Mexican and where all of them whores was out there and you'd go over there and you had fun.
GAINES: Dance and you'd go tricking with the whores and all this kind of stuff.And they had 15,000 soldiers there, so you know they were having fun with the girls over there. It was as in Villa Acuna in the state of Coahuila. And then 01:15:00you'd go over there and you'd come back and they had a big prophylactics station, about as big as this whole thing here and you'd go in there and then they'd shoot that iodoral up in your penis and wash up and everything. Of course, a lot of guys got gonorrhea and everything else.
REDMAN: Right, sure.
GAINES: I remember one guy, he'd been going over there. He came out one morningto take a leak and had holes in his penis. Water went everywhere. But this is the experiences that I had. I saw all of this happening, see.
REDMAN: You see images of manuals given out to soldiers or instructional guidesto avoid loose women or -
GAINES: They tell you all that bullshit. That's nothing but jive -- look, let metell you. I've seen guys that would line up to have sex with women. There would 01:16:00be three or four whores in this one house and guys lining up to go in there and have sex. Aw, man, what the hell's wrong with you? Something's wrong up in the head. But men are that way. Sex is a terrible thing. Guys kill for sex and all that other kind of stuff. I don't know, something goes wrong with a guy's head when you get that crazed. But now, sex is something -- we all come hear about sex. We know that. But some guys just take it to a different level. But the experiences I've had, I've had a lot of experiences, but I never let that bother me because one thing that I teach my kids, and my father taught me this, is something that you really have to understand. It's to take a piece of paper and go up the river, stand on a bridge and drop it on this side. That piece of paper goes under the bridge and down the road. Down the river. And I teach my kids 01:17:00this: Don't dwell on that past. That's water under the bridge. That's gone. You can't rectify that. But you can use your experience that happened, and you don't want it to go under the bridge like that. Do you understand? And that's when I tell you don't give out. Don't give up. I mean, you can give out but don't give up.
REDMAN: So you had your wife there with you stationed at the base.
REDMAN: That was fairly uncommon?
GAINES: No, no.
GAINES: You could bring your wife down there but you'd have to leave her in thelittle town where you were. And they'd give you a pass to go and see her probably at night or something so you didn't get in no trouble. But you got to be back at the base for revelry at that point. So I did that. And when we was in 01:18:00Missouri, she stayed in town. I'd go take a bus and go downtown. She lived in the black part of town. I'd get on the segregated bus and get on the army bus and go back to -- now, the army -- this is at Camp Crowder, Missouri. There was 80,000 people there. We had a company of three thousand and some men. We were stationed over at what we called Camp Coal because there was nothing but black over here. Segregated. All these guys had tanks and everything over here. They had a little problem. But the ammunition dump was in our neighborhood. I mean around the blacks. And they got in a little riot. And man, it's terrible. Everybody was shooting bullets, tracer bullets flying everywhere. Then they were going to send the air force in there. But, you see, the blacks never give. They 01:19:00were fighting over some guy said this black guy had raped some women and then they had lined all of us up. I think it was three companies of us. Lined us up and said, "Look it here. This girl is coming to look and see if it's one of you guys." Now, if she'd have chosen me, I'd have been a dead man. You understand?
REDMAN: There's nothing you could do.
GAINES: Nothing I could do. All of us lined up for them and then she walking bylooking. What the hell. It's very, very --
REDMAN: Was that a powerless situation or a frustrating? How did that feel?
GAINES: It's just like it is with the army if the government and the policemenround you up and put you in that position. Nothing you can do. Here's an old African proverb that I told my kids. This is an Ashanti proverb and my mother taught me. When you have your hands in the lion's mouth, go easy until you get 01:20:00it out because if you snatch it out he going to claw you back. So we have our hands in the lion's mouth. You got to work easy with it. And I told my son's this. I say, "Don't ever talk back to the policeman. You understand?" My two boys majored in criminology so when they got out they went out to work. My twins. They was going to work out at San Luis School, a boy's home. He said, "Daddy, I don't want to be around all those criminals." I said, "Choose another field." You understand? So I said, "You going to get stopped because of the color of your skin." He said the police stop him all the time right now and they say, "What is your name?" He tell. You understand? But you have to be -- don't 01:21:00get bossy with them because you get yourself in trouble. They weigh 230 pounds. They fight like hell but I teach them not -- you can't win.
REDMAN: Now, you leave the army before the end of the war?
GAINES: I left in --
REDMAN: Can you tell me about how that happened?
GAINES: Yes. They turned us out in 1944. I got discharged at Camp Beale up herein Sacramento. They were getting rid of the surplus. We weren't in a fighting unit anymore, they didn't need us, so they just give you an honorable discharge and you were getting out of the army. I got out of the army in 1944, in December 1944. And then I went and got me a divorce because I just stayed there until I got out. Then I went back and started my own business again. But what happened 01:22:00when I got out, they had the best thing that ever happened to soldiers and it should happen today. Is the GI Bill arrives. When I got out, I said I'm going -- a guy said, "What are you going to do? You going to get the GI Bill?" I said, "Yeah, I'm going [go to school] -- " Said, "What are you going to be?" I said, "I don't know." So one of my friends, he said, "Well, why don't you be a mortician?" I said, "Well, that'd be fine." So I said, "That'd be good but how am I going to do that? I don't have nobody but myself." He said, "That's all right." Said, "They pay you fifty dollars a month. They'd pay for your tuition, fees. You have to find a place to live." But that was fifty dollars a month then and they pay for your schooling. So I went to barber school. You understand? I went to barber school and you had to serve out your apprenticeship. Now, I was making fifty dollars a month. That's what they were giving me. I was going to 01:23:00barber school. I got me a job working at night, working icing cars at the railroad and I was working at a mechanic's shop at night, cleaning up a mechanic shop in Sacramento. I was there before I went -- I had two jobs until I could get my apprentice license. Then when I got my apprentice license I come to Stockton, California, 1945. October 6, 1945. I went to work for an inventor named -- what's his name? Richard Spikes. That's right. His name was Spikes. Spike. He had a barbershop. He hired me as an apprentice. Was getting a dollar a haircut. He took twenty-five cents on the dollar. That made me seventy-five cents. I made thirty bucks that first day. Man, I was really rich. You understand? 01:24:00
REDMAN: I want to get back to that in a moment but let's talk first about --because FDR passes away and Truman comes into office. Can you talk a little bit about what --
GAINES: I can talk about the best president ever been there.
GAINES: [It] was Harry S. Truman. When Truman got up and played is piano thatmorning and [hand clapping] clapped his hands, he said, "I'm desegregating the army today." That's the best president we've ever -- he stood on his own courage. He was a sharp man. Because you know why he was that way? He was once poor. Truman didn't always have anything. You knew that, didn't you?
REDMAN: Yes. He came from pretty modest means.
GAINES: That's right. And Truman was a real president and he spoke -- of course,I had my doubts about him when they persuaded him to drop the bomb on Hiroshima 01:25:00and Nagasaki.
REDMAN: What did you think about that?
GAINES: I think that's the most cruelest thing could ever happen. Would you kill280,000 people at one time? Huh?
REDMAN: Women and children -- .
GAINES: Everybody. What did Sherman say? War is hell. You know who I'm talkingabout, don't you? General Sherman when he burned Atlanta [during the Civil War]. War is hell. Why are people that mean? I cannot understand it. And so far as this being a Christian nation, this is the worst you've ever seen. Now, people ask Mr. Gaines, say, "You don't go to church or nothing?" I say, "I'm not an atheist. I'm not anything that you think I am." I say, "I am a follower of the greatest teacher of all time, is Jesus Christ. Jesus the son of Joseph." "What do you mean? He's a Christian." I said, "But I'm a Christian. I follow his 01:26:00teachings. I don't go to nobody's church. Jesus didn't go to nobody's church. He ripped them out of the church. Using my father's house is den of thieves. They selling things in there." What do the churches do today? It's the worst hypocrisy in the world. How can you call yourself a Christian nation and keep people in slavery and kill Indians like they're dogs. Europeans are terrible people. Some of them are. Not all of them are. Look how they did to people in Central and South America. And Indians that wouldn't even convert to Catholicism. They killed a lot of them right here in California. And this is what I cannot understand about Europeans. Why is it they want to be conquerors? Even King Philip. And I was talking to a Filipino lady. I said, "Where do you think you got your name from?" King Philip. They named the Philippine Island. 01:27:00
I have a grandson who's real sharp. He's fourteen years old. He wants to be adentist. He's my grandson. Four point student. And I asked him the other day when he was over here, I said, "What do you know about the pyramids?" He said, "Oh, I know quite a bit about the pyramids." I said, "Well, who do you think built the pyramids?" He said, "Slaves built them." I said, "What slaves?" He said, "Well, the African slaves built them." I said, "Oh, you know before the map was changed that this part of Egypt was in Africa." "Oh, yeah." I said, "How do you think they got those rocks up there?" He said, "Well, the slaves put them up there." I said, "But some of those things are almost 400 feet in the air." I said, "How do you think they got them up there." He said, "Well, Poppa, I really don't know." I said, "Now, I'm going to tell you something about those rocks." I said, "If you look at those rocks, there's no rocks. Almost granite. It may be 01:28:00granite in that vicinity. Those rocks come from 300 miles up the Nile River. How do you think they got them down there? He looked at me just like you." I said, "You know about the Stonehenge in England?" He said, "Yeah, I know about them." I said, "What do you know about the terra cotta soldiers?" He's fourteen. He said, "Yeah, this and China." He says, "Yes." He's sharp. I say to him, I said, "You're pretty good." So I teach all my kids and my sons teach their kids the same thing. Here's what he said. He says, "I read." I say, "Also, your daddy taught you what I taught you -- what I taught him." He says, "Yeah." Knowledge doesn't fall out of the sky into your head. Knowledge is found in books. So this 01:29:00is what my whole family go to. And I'll tell you what I want you to do. This is the best birthday present I've ever gotten.
REDMAN: You should read it out loud under the camera I think. Is that okay? Willyou read this to me?
GAINES: All right.
REDMAN: So this is the best birthday present you've ever received?
GAINES: I don't celebrate no days. I don't celebrate Christmas, don't celebratebirthdays. I'll tell you why. You were talking about the Depression. I think I was nine or eleven years old. All the kids in the room, they got -- on Christmas Day they got oranges in the sock and everything and I didn't have anything. Nothing. Didn't even have food on the table. You understand? It hurt me. I said, "I'll never celebrate a day in my life. No more." I don't celebrate no days. My 01:30:00birthday, I don't celebrate that. No, don't celebrate it. Because one day is just like another as long as you're alive.
So I'm a strange kind of fellow. I'll tell you why I'm strange. I stayed on thefarm with my daddy for about four years. Nobody -- he and I out there. I'm a loner. I stayed on my daddy's horse, herd my cattle, herding his cows and seeing they didn't bring out of the fences and all, because we had a big stock. Wasn't nobody there but he and I. And I found out something about my father. I did not know he spoke German because he never taught his kids none of it. So he'd communicate with this German guy next --
REDMAN: That's amazing.
GAINES: That's very amazing.
GAINES: I don't know why he didn't teach us German. Because I guess he didn'twant -- I'll show you my daddy's picture in a few minutes. I understand Jewish 01:31:00people. Jews, the original Jew, was my color. You don't find no Europeans in Jerusalem. And this is why I don't have any respect for the Jewish nation that's there today. You know why? When Golda Meir and Menachem Begin went into Israel in the seventies or sixties or wherever it was, and it was before that in the forties. They sent 8,000 black Jews to Eritrea. You know where Eritrea is, don't you? It's a little country right outside of Ethiopia. Black. They haven't brought them back yet. You follow?
REDMAN: So there is a racial -- racism --
GAINES: There is racism.
GAINES: Now, have you ever known anything about Beethoven? Beethoven's hair is01:32:00just like mine.
REDMAN: Right, yes.
REDMAN: Yes, it is actually. Tell me about what's the connection.
GAINES: They were all civilization begin in Africa.
REDMAN: Right, yeah. That's --
GAINES: Now, I'll tell you a little incident that happened with me. I was inthis doctor's office and we were talking. I said, "You really like using that method of sterilization." He says, "Yeah." He says, "What do you know about steri -- " I say, "I know about Imopthomes of method." He said, "What do you mean? What do you know about them Imhopt method?" I said, "That's the method of sterilization." I say, "It originated with Imhotep." He said, "What do you know about Imhotep?" I'm not supposed to know this. 01:33:00
REDMAN: So is that the sort of reaction that you would get over the course ofyour life? A big aspect of that is like you -- the way African American men are expected to project what they know or they're not expected to act and behave in a certain way. Do you find that surprised a lot of people?
GAINES: I love it. I love it. I eat it up. Look, when you go to a black school,you learn how to speak English. You learn. The teachers there put so much in your head. When you go to a black college or a black school when you're growing up, the teachers put this in you. They used to. They don't do it anymore. They teach you to speak correct English. My kids right here, good, got a master's degree. Can you diagram a sentence?
REDMAN: Most people in my generation can't, and that's a problem. That's a problem.01:34:00
GAINES: Where is it at?
GAINES: Using a preposition at the end of a sentence. But, you see, we don'tteach that today. But my kids say, "Daddy, you always -- "I said, "Listen, I was taught. I don't have a college degree but I can work any problem you have, any problem that you have in that algebra and geometry and trig." But see, math runs in my family. I had one daughter. My father was a mathematician and an artist and a musician. This runs in my family. I had one daughter, she's passed away, she could work trig in her head. She was too smart. She passed away when she was in her -- graduated from high school two, three years. My sister did, too. They were all real smart. But I hope that my grandson is not too smart. But he's 01:35:00very, very sharp. And I talk to him the other day. I told him, I says, "Now, my two kids went to, my -- three kids, four kids of mine went to Franklin High School. When they went to Fresno State they had to take bonehead English because English wasn't taught, the curriculum wasn't high enough." So when they went there, they told me, said, "Daddy, send Tasha to Saint Mary's." I said, "But it cost some money." She said, "You pay now or pay later." So we sent her to Saint Mary's. She's not as sharp as they are but she obtained a better education than they got. You understand? This is what I'm telling you about our public schools, about the English.
REDMAN: Let me ask. Oh, do you want to read this to me? Tell me what that is.Tell me what that is. Tell me what --
GAINES: This is from Father's Day. This is my son. Well, I'll tell you this.I'll just read it and let you listen to it. "From son to father. Of all the 01:36:00wisdom you have bestowed upon me, I carry it wherever I go. Now I reflect on the journey that I have taken and the voices of consciousness that have guided me all the way. It has been yours. I see now the importance of true fatherhood, the burden of worry, the constant nagging of wanting more for your child. You have grown me well. More importantly, you have made me a good person. With all the craziness in the world, you have protected me. I shall offer my son, only offer the same and encouraging him of the legacy you have created. Education is the key to success, no matter it be through vocational or traditional means. Thank you, from father to father. Ali Gaines." How did that sound to you?
REDMAN: That's really poignant. That's really amazing.01:37:00
GAINES: It's very amazing. And I let a guy read this who's a teacher. He says,"Can I take this and teach it in my school?" I said, "You can take it whenever you want."
REDMAN: That's really great. So I have several questions for you before we wrapup. Let me ask the first question. We talked about Richmond and how when you first went to Richmond, California it had a population of nineteen black people.
GAINES: That's right. This was before the war.
REDMAN: After the war, when you come back, what had changed and why?
GAINES: Well, I'll tell you what happened. Richmond, El Cerrito and all theseplaces are populated with people who coming here from the south. Both people. San Francisco, all of it. You see, I was in San Francisco in the forties. In the 01:38:00thirties. I used to go over there to party and everything. San Francisco was one of the racist towns you'd ever want to see. What? I was there when it was racist. There was very few people there until the war. You see, San Francisco was made up -- you know what it was made up out of, don't you? Whores and gamblers. Well, I'm just telling you the truth.
REDMAN: All right.
GAINES: And this is a bad thing to say but it's run by rich people. But that wasbefore the war. Now, look, there was no Hunter's Point. But after Hunter's Point, Army Street and all that, when they started to do -- they had -- Han Guster didn't want to black policemen there and all that kind of stuff. You do some research, you'll find it out. It's kind of bad. Now, look what happened there. During the war, Fillmore Street, from Haight -- from Sutter clear down to 01:39:00Haight Street. Do you live in San Francisco? You know what I'm talking about?
GAINES: They had everything there. Grocery stores, drug stores, clothing stores,everything you want to see there. What did they do? They wiped it out. All the businesses out. Oakland the same way. Oakland was a thriving community. Had more black businesses than Atlanta, Georgia. Don't have them now. What did they do? Watch this. They ran the freeway through Oakland. They wiped it out. They ran the freeway right down Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee. Wiped all the black businesses out. Stockton, California we had one hotel seven, eighteen stories high. They run the freeway right through it. I moved five times. Five times my barber shop was moved. They run the freeway right down through the black businesses. We don't have any businesses here now. This not done by accident. 01:40:00This is done by design. Why? Why? Redevelopment. They call it redevelopment. Urban renewal. Redevelopment. Scatter you out. They do nothing. It's terrible. But I'm one businessman. I'm standing there, "Look, that hotel, barber shop, beauty shops, saloons, and everything, we don't have it here now. What's going on?"
REDMAN: So those developments are taking place at the same time that a smallgroup of people are starting to become more and more active and vibrant and organized in the south and then eventually a lot of people from the West Coast start to get hooked up with them in what we now understand is the Civil Rights 01:41:00Movement after World War II. Can you talk about was there some -- did you start to hear about this guy Martin Luther King and what he was doing in the south and letters from the Birmingham jail. Things like that. Was that starting to resonate?
GAINES: That resonated with me quite a bit. Yes. But Martin Luther King and allthese guys, Malcolm X and all of them, they're doing a terrific job. But the population that we have -- you see, it's only 7 percent of us. It's only 7 percent of blacks in California. Ain't much we can do. But there's the point. I cannot understand why they want to do this segregation between the races like that and to keep us divided. They keep us divided, then they can conquer you. But why? Why I cannot understand. We are the true Americans. We are the ones who 01:42:00built this country. Never got paid a dime for building it. You understand? But now you're saying who built this country? All the immigrants built it. Look, they talk about the Hispanics getting citizenship, making citizens out of them. You know how long it took us to be a citizen? From 1620 'til 1869 we were not citizens. We built this country we wasn't citizens until after slavery made a citizen out of --
REDMAN: Now, in the fifties and sixties, one of the big debates that's comingout is on the one hand you've got a legal strategy of the NAACP of trying to fight legal court cases to address segregation and civil rights issues and then 01:43:00you also have a group, the Congress of Racial Equality, the biracial group that's doing more of the non-violent civil resistance, like the sit-ins and shop-ins and stuff during that era. Was that a little bit of a tension there between those two or did you see those two groups as working together?
GAINES: Well, they're working real well together. They can only do so much bygoing by the law. We can't win by fighting because we are not organized enough with artillery and all this other kind of stuff. We're not that way. In fact, we're not warriors. We really want this country to survive.
REDMAN: The NAACP strategy is pretty radically different from the riots that --
GAINES: But Thurgood Marshall was a lawyer with the NAACP. He took it to theSupreme Court. We're saying we want to make you live by what you say you wrote. 01:44:00All men are created equal. Now, why do you want to have separate schools if this is your law? This is your law. We let you run your own law. Now we going to take you to the courts and see if you will live up to your own law. That's how we have to have that. We can't fight to get it. Nobody gives you anything without a fight so you fight legally to get it. Now, here's the main problem with the Constitution. How in the hell does a guy go write the Constitution and he has slaves? Huh?
GAINES: This guy that -- Fannie Hema had five kids by him. What the hell? Tookher to France with him. She was a mulatto, all right. You know who I'm talking about?
REDMAN: Thomas Jefferson.
GAINES: Thomas Jefferson.
GAINES: And listen, let me tell you about George Washington. I got a thousanddollars for any man can name me a white man in this country, that's white, named 01:45:00George Washington.
REDMAN: Right. And --
GAINES: I'll tell you why.
REDMAN: Why is that?
GAINES: George Washington came here with his brother Henry. Henry went back toEngland. George married Martha. She was buried and couldn't have any kids. He had 900 slaves. Most of them were mixed with him. Name me one person. Tell somebody come to see me.
REDMAN: Yeah. I can't think -- [laughter] -- of course the first name that comesto mind is George Washington Carver, right?
GAINES: Oh, shit.
GAINES: But look it. Booker T. Washington's daddy was white. You see? Youunderstand? Here's what I can't understand. If I had a kid over here, I own that 01:46:00kid, that's mine. Strom Thurmond is the only one I give credit for having any gumptions about it. You know Strom Thurmond. The racist.
REDMAN: Yeah, yes.
GAINES: You know he had a baby by a black woman and he raised those four blackkids and she went there to see him. "That's my daddy."
GAINES: And he voted against segregation. Voted for segregation.
Begin Audio File 3 gaines_warren_03_06-21-12.mp3
REDMAN: All right. My name is Sam Redman. Today is Thursday, June 21st. This ismy third tape with Warren Gaines. Warren, when we left off we were at the end of the war. We talked about how life had changed in cities like Oakland and Stockton and Richmond during the war. We talked a little bit about civil rights 01:47:00and the Civil Rights Movement and the influence that that was having here in California. Can you talk to me about how black servicemen from World War II who used the GI Bill, who then -- many of them went into business for themselves or would further their education with the GI Bill or build a home or things like that. When that happened to these folks living in California?
GAINES: Well, a lot of servicemen took advantage of the GI Bill. That was thebest thing that ever happened in the United States, was to give education. And a lot of them taking second generations now. Their kids are going to school now, a lot of them. But you going to have some that don't. But a lot of people took advantage of the GI Bill of Rights and a lot of servicemen coming out of service 01:48:00today, they should have the same opportunity that we had. Because I got mine through going under the GI Bill of Rights, just being a barber, but I wanted to be a businessman. And after I got to be a barber I learned how to finagle and make more businesses for myself. I started out with nothing and now I'm in a pretty good position. Of course, I'm a farmer. I love what I'm doing now. I raise goats, sheep, and all this other stuff. I did that on my own five acres of land. Sure. That's what I like. And I got businesses in town. But here's the point about going into business. You have to have money to go in business. And you can't get a loan. And the loans that you make, a lot of the time the percentage is higher than it is for other people, especially for blacks. That's the reason I don't buy on credit, because you get a different percentage when 01:49:00you go to make a loan. And I have white guys that I know, real good friends mine.
One guy was working in a used car lot. And he's told by the management, "When ablack guy comes in here, get what you can out of him." You know what I mean? If the percentage is 5 percent tell him the lowest he can get is eight. You understand? And he tells me why they do this. Now, why is it they have to do that? This is what they are taught, to take advantage of you. And most people don't understand percentage. First thing, a poor person or poor person never should have a credit card. You can't pay no 27 percent on a dollar. Are you out of your mind? This is how they look at ignorant people. And ignorant people is the one that they -- that's not only blacks they take advantage of.
And about housing. We could only buy in a certain district in town. When I first01:50:00come to Stockton, Main Street was the dividing line. Everything south of Main Street was owned by blacks. Now, over in the other part of town, the north part of town, you couldn't live over there. You couldn't go over there. You'd go over there, "What are you doing over here at this time of night, boy?" You understand? You couldn't cross the dividing line, okay. I stayed over on this side of town. I refused to go over there because the rent's too high. But here's the point. I was renting a house, a business place downtown. It's on Market Street. It was owned by Franzia Brothers Winery. You understand? I had a barber shop in there. They never fixed the building up. Rats in it, roaches, everything else. I had my barber shop there. I remember one day we were cutting hair and a 01:51:00rat run across. A big old rat run right across the floor. And Lorenzo, the guy that worked for me, this guy jumped and said, "Man, there goes a rat." He says, "Oh, no, that's a pet rat. Pet rat. We raise them around here." Now, if a rat died, I had to go into the wall, take it out, spray it. This is in the ghetto. Look, I said if I could ever get me a place of my own, I would get it. Look, in the ghetto they let these guys, these absentee landlords come in there and get money out of you and don't fix up the places. The health department don't say a damn thing about it. They let it go. I've appeared before the city council numerous of times, not only for that other thing. But they know who I am. I'm a rabble rouser, say I'm an activist. No, I'm just telling the truth.
Now, the biggest thing that hurts me today, it hurts me every minute of the day.When you turn the corner down there, you saw that big manufacturing company 01:52:00name. Enviroplex. They have some 200 people there. Not a single black work there. I went there two or three times. Last time they called the sheriff on me because I asked them why they don't have some blacks. They're using public funds to sell schools, portable schools to the county or to the state and yet they don't hire any blacks. And I wrote to the city councilmen, I wrote to everybody. I can't get anything done. I'm a World War II veteran. My kids and everybody fought over there in Vietnam and every place else and you have this same damn discrimination going on, was a hundred years ago, and they're doing it right today. Nobody says nothing about it. And it's, "Oh, we going to hire some," or "We hired some last month." You understand? I'm just one man. I write to McNerney, this congressman. Yeah, he not going to do a damn thing. But, see, 01:53:00here's what makes me angry now. They're building jails now for my great-great grandson because with racial profiling and poor people, they cannot house all the people that they are going to build for. These farmers, the grocery men, the clothing stores, and all of these people, they have a ready made customer.
The biggest thing that hurts is the foster care system? What are you talkingabout? You should take care of these kids. Sure, take care of them. But you got to teach them something. What they're doing is for money. They get a kid, they keep him for ten, fifteen, eighteen years. When that kid gets eighteen years old, he's been used to having everything done for him. He doesn't have to work. He is going to get fed. He doesn't have any things to do. Nothing but go to 01:54:00school. If he goes to school, he might be cutting every day. But when he gets eighteen they turn him out. He's through. He doesn't have a job. He's going to be a criminal because he's going to live. He might want to sell dope or might want to rob or might want to steal. He doesn't care because he's been used to somebody taking care of him. The girls go to the street. A lot of them turn out for prostitution. Now, here comes the guy that's going to build a private jail. This is the welfare system. The same as getting food stamps because he's got food stamps coming in. The farmer's selling food, the guy's selling milk and everything else. If I had a deal to sell toilet paper [to the prisons] I'd be a millionaire. It's crazy, isn't it? I'm talking crazy.
REDMAN: No, I think it makes sense. Well, it's crazy in that it makes sense tome. I feel like it is --
GAINES: It is making sense.
REDMAN: Yes, right.
GAINES: I know a guy that makes $100,000 a year as a guard at the prison. Lots01:55:00of them make big money. It's nothing but a business.
REDMAN: Right, right.
GAINES: Now, why can't you take this same kid, spend that $31,000 a year on himfrom birth, put him in a place where he can learn a trade? But technology is going to destroy a lot of jobs, you understand? What are we going to do with these people?
REDMAN: May I ask you one final question?
REDMAN: Now, this is a big question. You can take a moment to think about it ifyou'd like. But looking back on your life story, and I'm particularly interested in the Great Depression, the dust bowl, your work in the CCC camp, coming out to California, finding that work and then being in the army and going and seeing that segregated army firsthand and some of those experiences during the war. If 01:56:00you could look back on those days in your life and tell a young person something about it, thinking back on that, what do those things mean to you overall? What does that story mean to you in your life?
GAINES: That story that I'm telling you, what we've been talking about, is thesame story that my dad told me years ago. Is a teaching from my father and my mother. Is the hard times that they went through and what they went through they projected in me. The same thing that I'm projecting into my kids. Is don't be dependent on nobody but your -- anyone but yourself. Live a good, clean life and don't worry about the past. Look to the future because the future is where it is. I've done all this and I've told my kids my whole life story and it's in my book. And that piece that you have that my son wrote, that explains the whole 01:57:00thing in just a few words. He put it all together. The things that I went through as an African American, a white boy couldn't have taken this and still hold himself together like I held myself together. I'm almost ninety-two years old. But my mind is keen. It's still keen. Very sharp. My health is good. Now, a lot of African Americans, they have adopted the Christian religion, which is nice for them. They have to have something to hold onto. I'm not an atheist but I look forward to one thing, the universal creator and the teachings of Jesus. If you follow the teachings of Jesus -- I'm not talking about the American teaching or the European teaching. Is the teachings that he taught. Love your 01:58:00neighbor, share with each other. Don't kill and do the things that is good. He never taught anything bad. Now, I have no problems with homosexuality. Why? Because I look at the teachings of Jesus. He said one thing. Let the wheat and the chaff grow together and I'll separate it when it come, when I come. That's his job. That isn't mine. So this makes a lot of sense to me. They're human beings. Now, you talk about the different religions we have. We have Christian, we have the Jewish, we have the Muslims, we have all kinds of religion. Now, everyone is looking forward to going to this beautiful place they call heaven. Now, if you take all these people and put them into heaven, what are you going to have up there? All of a sudden you're going to have everybody together? Huh? So the teachings of Jesus is -- but here's what he said. Somebody was over there 01:59:00teaching the same thing he taught. He said, "Oh, the sheep I have are not of this road."
REDMAN: Just to finish up. But thinking about the teachings of Jesus and howthose relate to your life. The big stories that you've --
GAINES: I've read all the stories in the Bible. I read the Bible real good. Butyou see, here's what you have to understand. Now, when I was talking to you about my grandson, about the terra cotta soldiers, I never explained what I'm going to explain to you now. Your Bible says we're six thousand, seven thousand or eight thousand years old. Right? The terra cotta soldiers are 32,000 years old. You understand? So how does that relate to the Christian Bible the way they 02:00:00teach? But I'm talking about the way he teach. Can you explain to me about the Incas and then -- you understand?
REDMAN: Right. A lot of unanswered questions.
GAINES: But, you see, here's where I put religion. I quote some of the thingsthat Jesus said and what they write in there. When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child. But when I become a man I put away childish things. That's where my religion is. When I was taught all of this garbage, I understood that. Now that I've gotten older I've put all away this childish thing. I looked to the universal creator, which I know nothing about, you know nothing about. Now, here's what I cannot understand. When Jesus said, "Other sheep I have are not of this fold," here's what I'm getting to now. Do you know they just discovered a new planet? How do we know what's up in -- this movie 02:01:00that you saw where they had the tails and they were running around, hanging on the vines and everything and the eagles flying around. What do we know about this? Somebody's looking way ahead. What do we know that's out there? It's hard to understand. But I look to the future. Somebody we will find out. We will know a lot. Now, we want to go to the planets and all that. We haven't even gone down in the ocean deep enough to know what's down there yet. So life is boggling. It's mind boggling or whatever you want to say about -- but here's the point. As long as you have racial segregation in this world, not only here in the United States, and you have a class system, it's not going to work. Somebody's going to get destroyed and supporters dropping bombs on people and all that kind of -- I 02:02:00don't believe in killing. I really don't. Because you're killing somebody that's innocent. Do you realize we killed over 150,000 people in Iraq? Dropped bombs on innocent woman and children. Dropped bombs on women and children. Killed a lot of innocent people for nothing. What did we get out of it? Yes, we got something out of it. The guys made millions of dollars. You know what I'm talking about?
GAINES: The guys that got these contracts. It's business. Just like I'm tellingyou about the business now of the penitentiary. You spoke about it before I could even tell you what the third largest -- you can see it, can't you?
GAINES: And don't you think that the people are not looking at this? A lot of02:03:00people think a lot of people are dumb. They're not dumb. They see what's happening. The penitentiary system is getting -- is terrible. And something has got to be done because you're producing a lot more children today and what are you going to do with these kids when they get to be twenty-one, twenty years old and they don't have [sense] to be taken care of? Crime is going to get worse. Now I'll tell you one more thing.
GAINES: I have a niece who's a judge in Chicago. She's retired now. She was ajudge there for thirty years. I was telling her the same thing and she says -- I says, "You're sending kids to the penitentiary that don't need to be there." I said, "Look at their background and see what causes them to be there. They wasn't educated, they didn't have a job, they had to live." I said, "Now, you're 02:04:00a superior court judge." She said, "Uncle Warren G, you know what? As I look back now, a lot of those kids are not responsible for what they did. You can't hold a person responsible for wanting to eat." And so that's the kind of fellow, person I am.
REDMAN: I really appreciate having the chance to interview you today. Thank youso much for sitting down with us.
GAINES: All right.
[end of interview]