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Interview with Will Hollisby

Hollisby, Will
Perzel, Edward
Date of Interview: 
Landscaping; Buses; Trolley buses; Street railroads; African Americans - North Carolina - Charlotte - Social life and customs.
Mr. Hollisby tells how he came to Charlotte and about working as a landscaper his entire adult life. He gives details of the early wages he made as well as remembrances about the trolley cars and first buses in Charlotte.
Interview Setting: 
Interviewed as part of the WSOC-TV Oral History Project. Interviews conducted at either the downtown public library or the Midtown Shopping Mall.
WSOC-TV Oral History Project
Collection Description: 
The Oral History Project of 1979, headed by Dr. Edward Perzel, was an effort to gather and preserve spoken recollections. Interviews were conducted with older citizens, primarily over the age of 65, who were encouraged to share their memories and stories.
Interview Audio: 
EP (Edward Perzel): This is Edward Perzel interviewing Mr. Will Hollisby on May 22, 1979. Mr. Hollisby, what are you going to talk about today?
WH (Will Hollisby): Well, I don't know nothing much to talk about. [laughter]
EP: You don't know nothing?
WH: Nothing much.
EP: I'm sure you know quite a bit.
WH: [laughter]
EP: You're seventy-six years old.
WH: Yeah. Yeah.
EP: Have you lived in Charlotte your whole life?
WH: No, sir, I haven't lived here. I've been here quite awhile though. I've been here. I don't know what year it was when I come in back. I've been here about, fifty, something years.
EP: Fifty something years.
WH: Yeah.
EP: That's a long time.
WH: [laughter]
EP: Well, what was Charlotte like when you got here?
WH: Oh, Charlotte. It wasn't nothing much. Trolley cars were running when, when I come here.
EP: Trolley cars were running?
WH: Yeah.
EP: Did you ride the trolley?
WH: Yes, sir.
EP: Where did the trolleys go?
WH: Oh, everywhere. Like, like, like Myers Park and all back out in there.
EP: Where did you live when you came here?
WH: Out in Fairfield County ( ).
EP: Fairfield County, Virginia.
WH: No, South Carolina.
EP: South Carolina.
WH: ( ). Yeah, yeah. Right.
EP: Where, where did you live when you came to the city? What part of the city?
WH: You mean what part of the city. I lived down on South Brevard Street down there next to--. I lived down there on, what's the name of that. [pause] I can't remember. [pause]
EP: On South Brevard?
UN (Unknown Speaker): Down on Mint Street.
EP: Mint Street.
WH: Min, Min, Mint Street, yeah.
EP: Is that where you've lived while you've been in Charlotte the whole time?
WH: Well, I've been in the neighborhood right around ( ).
EP: And, you were a landscaper?
WH: Yeah.
EP: Who did you work for?
WH: I worked for, I forget the name of the company. I worked with Ed France, and all. Ed France and ( )Mathis. And I worked a tobacco job. I worked at Steel down there at pipeline for a while.
EP: The Pipe Valve.
WH: Yeah.
EP: The Charlotte Pipe and Valve?
WH: That's right.
EP: For the Dowds?
WH: Yeah.
EP: Do you know the Dowds?
WH: No.
EP: They were the bosses. You didn't know them?
WH: That's, that's right.
EP: Tell me what downtown Charlotte used to look like. You moved here fifty years ago. Is it like it is today?
WH: ( ). Well, I didn't move here. I just come here.
EP: I came here.
WH: Yeah, I just come here. You see I'm up by myself.
EP: You've lived here for fifty years.
WH: Yes. ( ).
EP: Were you in the Army or anything like that?
WH: No, sir.
EP: Never been in the Army?
WH: No sir.
EP: Did you ever go to a place called Lakewood Park?
WH: Lakewood Park?
EP: On the trolley car?
WH: Yes. All back out and around Gastonia. All back out there.
EP: Back in there.
WH: Yes.
EP: Did you take the trolley out that way?
UN: Took that 'ol A and P what you call it?
EP: The interurban train that went to Mount Holly in that direction.
WH: Yes. That's right.
EP: How much did that cost to ride? Do you remember?
WH: ( )No, I don't know. I mean. So long, I used to go Gastonia ( ).
EP: You went to Gastonia?
WH: Yes.
EP: What you'd go over there for?
WH: Well, there's some people over there that I know. You know.
EP: Some people.
WH: Yes. When I was railroading I some people stayed over there in Gastonia when I used to railroad down that track.
EP: Uh-huh.
WH: ( ) from Charlotte to down around Georgia and back around there.
EP: Tell me, you lived here when there was segregation. What, what was it like when it was segregated in Charlotte?
WH: ( ) I forgot all about how it was.
EP: You forgot about it. [laughter] That means things are pretty good now?
WH: No, no things ain't good now. ( ) [laughter]
EP: Did you, you have to sit at the back of the trolley cars?
WH: Yes, sir. Sat in the back. Yes, sat in the back then. Better than everything else. I was here when busing started around here and everything like that. First bus ever run in Charlotte I was here.
EP: You saw the first bus that ran?
WH: Yes. Yes. We used to have push the buses out of the mudholes ( ).
EP: Had to push the buses out the mud?
WH: Yeah.
EP: What about the trolley's did they ever get stuck or anything like that?
WH: No, sir.
EP: Ever go off the track?
WH: No, sir.
EP: Did they have electric wires to run the trolley's on?
WH: That's right.
EP: Did, did you, did the kids pull the wires the things off the trolleys so they wouldn't run sometimes?
WH: No, sir. Not that I know of they pulled them off I didn't know.
EP: What, you lived in the Third Ward area. Is that the area around South Mint Street?.
WH: Yeah.
EP: You lived there area most of the time you've been in Charlotte?
WH: Yeah, yeah down on, let me see here. [pause] Let's see what street did I live on down there.
EP: Cedar, Summit? There's a lot of streets down in there.
WH: Yeah. I know the name of it but I just call it by name right now in my memory, you know. You see I had a stroke and my memory is gone. Remember some things and others I forget things right quick.
EP: Are there, are there some people you remember that lived in Charlotte. Some of the leaders or some just other people you knew way back in the early part?
WH: No, ( ) all of them have died that I know of.
EP: Well, tell me something, something about some of them that died that you remember. Do you remember any of the old people?
WH: ( ).
EP: Do you remember any of the old black leaders who?
WH: No, ( ) I forgot about.
EP: You remember Fred Alexander who's still around right?
WH: Oh, yeah, I know him.
EP: Do you think he's done a good job for you're the black people?
WH: Yes, he's done fine.
EP: How about anybody else? [pause]
EP: Were you a married man?
WH: Me. No, I was married but I'm divorced.
EP: You're divorced. Do you have any children?
WH: Yeah.
EP: How many children do you have?
WH: ( ) Nine. I think.
EP: Nine children?
WH: Yeah.
EP: Are they all in Charlotte?
WH: No ( ) I don't know where all of them's at.
EP: They're all over the place?
WH: Yeah. ( ).
EP: Sort of lost track of them?
WH: Yeah. [laughter]
EP: None of them live in Charlotte now?
WH: No sir. No. Nobody here but me.
EP: Nobody but you?
WH: That's all.
EP: When you were landscaping did you landscape some big 'ol houses or who'd you landscape for the city?
WH: I didn't work in no houses or nothing like that. I worked out, you know, building yards and things like that.
EP: In the yards?
WH: Yes.
EP: What, what area?
WH: Back out in Myers Park.
EP: In Myers Park?
WH: Yeah.
EP: Who were some of the people you worked for?
WH: Well, I worked for Dr. Pettis and so many of them. I had so many of them so many ( ) I worked my thirteen yards out there.
EP: Thirteen yards?
WH: Yeah. Yeah.
EP: How, did you do that year after year for the same people?
WH: No. Had different people
EP: Different people, different times. What kind of money did they pay you to landscape?
WH: Well some yards I'd get two and three dollars.
EP: Two and three dollars?
WH: Yeah. And ( ) and come on ( ) about ten dollars out there a day.
EP: Ten dollars a day. When, how long ago was that?
WH: Oh, that's been a good while ago. Well, it's been a long time since I worked anyway. See I had a stroke.
EP: That's when you quit landscaping after your stroke?
WH: Yeah.
EP: How old were you when you had the stroke?
WH: I had the stroke about three years ago. Three or four years ago. Three--. 'Bout three years ago.
EP: And you were working up until that time?
WH: Yeah.
EP: That means you were seventy-two. You, you worked quite a long time.
WH: Oh, Lord, I worked some. Night and day.
EP: Night and day.
WH: Yeah.
EP: When you worked out there in Myers Park did they feed you lunch or?
WH: Yeah. Yeah. I can't remember. ( ) Give me coffee and give me something to eat and everything like that.
EP: They treated you pretty good.
WH: Oh, they treated me good.
EP: How'd you get out there?
WH: I know. ( ) I went on the bus.
EP: On the bus?
WH: Yeah.
EP: Were you doing that when the trolley was running out to Myers Park?
WH: No, I wasn't doing that then. Walk out there sometimes.
EP: You walked out there sometimes?
WH: Yeah.
EP: Do you remember them building a lot of those houses out there?
WH: Yeah. ( ) I just can't call their names.
EP: It's hard to do.
WH: I just can't call their name.
EP: I don't think I could remember fifty years ago.
WH: [laughter]
EP: I wasn't alive, but I have trouble remembering ten years ago.
WH: Yeah.
EP: You haven't got any good stories you want to tell us today?
WH: No stories. No.
EP: No good stories.
WH: No.
EP: Nothing funny ever happened to you living in Charlotte?
WH: No, sir.
EP: Do you remember why you came to Charlotte from South Carolina?
WH: Well me and my dad fell out. I never did go back 'til he passed then I went back down there. [pause] I ducked it and went on and got my clothes and ( ) ain't been back ever since.
EP: ( ) well we certainly appreciate you coming in today. Who knows, we might a television star out of you yet.
WH: [laughter]