The Black Syracuse Project

Connie Carmille Davis

In Oral History Interviews on February 25, 2011 at 10:20 am

Connie Carmille Davis grew up in Syracuse.  Here she is talking to Tasneem Grace Tewogbola about community life in the 15th Ward.  The 15th Ward was destroyed by the 1960s as a result of Urban Renewal.

The men and women that were older than us, I mean, were our seniors.  Now, I’m not saying old, old.  Like when they came in my aunt’s restaurant, there was a dance and some of the kids couldn’t afford it.  They would buy the tickets and leave them with my aunt and say “whoever wants to go to that dance, just give them a ticket.”  They looked after as.  

Now you say something to one of them young people, you better be careful, that’s all I can say.

Urban Renewal allowed Black people to leave the 15th Ward and to establish themselves in different parts of Syracuse.  Other people say what you said, that Urban Renewal broke up businesses, it broke up-

It broke up families.  It broke up a community.  We were a community.  Telephones?  You didn’t need a telephone.  My mother would say to Miss So-and-so or to one of the kids, “if you see my Connie, tell her I said I need her, come home.”  That’s the way it worked.  That was the communication, you know.

Like, everybody parties five days a week?  Tuesday, Wednesday, that was out of the question.  Friday night, Saturday. Sunday, everything’d come together and get calm; you had to go to work and do this.  And we had all the, all the wonderful things that happened.  We had the bands that’d come from New York.  We had the dances.  You know, we had the clubs.  We had it.  We had it good.  That’s all I can say.

What were some of the clubs?  Where would you all go?

You couldn’t go to the club until you were of age.  But they had the Carpenter’s Hall,  where the big bands came on a Friday night.  What was it, two dollars or whatever?  Yeah, two dollars.  You went and heard them and you danced.  It was a big dance.   Nat King Cole.  What’s that school that you just named?  Central Tech?  Central High.  Central High Auditorium is where Nat King Cole came to sing.

Nat King Cole!

Nat King Cole.  Seen him.  What’s the one, heidy heidy ho?

Is that Cab Calloway?

Cab Calloway.  Seen him.

In Syracuse?

In Syracuse, yeah!

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