An oral history interview conducted with Betty Greene during Lakeland Heritage Weekend 2007. Betty Louise Thomas Greene was born on September 13, 1938 at Freedman’s Hospital in Washington D.C. to Annie Venerva Hebron Thomas and Sam (probably Samuel) E. (possibly Edward) Thomas. Betty, the last of eight children, was born when her mother was in her 50s. Betty married her husband, Ambrose Augustine Greene, on June 29, 1957 at Holy Redeemer Church in College Park, Maryland, after he left the Army. Betty and Ambrose both lived in Lakeland, and developed their relationship by going to weekend dances at the Lakeland Tavern. They had one daughter, Danita Darcel Greene Costley. Betty also has two grandsons and three great grandchildren, whom she enjoys visiting in Arlington, Virginia as often as possible. Betty belonged to several community organizations, including the House of Ruth and the Lakeland Civic Association, and is a charter member of Post 140 John Henry Seaburn, College Park (which merged with the American Legion Auxiliary, Post 275, Glenarden.) She is a proud lifelong member of the Embry A.M.E. Church in Lakeland, which was her parents’ church and where she was baptized as an infant. Betty has fond memories of growing up as a child in Lakeland, emphasizing that while her family did not have much, they were very loving towards one another, and belonged to a community where everyone looked out for each other. The children would generally create their own entertainment by “playing store” and “playing house.” They even emulated the behavior of adults and once had a funeral for a dead bird. Betty and her siblings would also collect discarded glass soda bottles and redeem them for penny candy. They would either walk up the tracks to Berwyn, or patronize Mack’s Store or Black’s Store in Lakeland. Her father worked for a coal and feed business in Berwyn. He did the weekly grocery shopping on Saturday, which was payday; the family could look forward to hot dogs and beans for dinner, and as a special treat for the kids, a box of animal crackers. Betty’s mother, a domestic worker for families in Berwyn, knew how to be creative with food, so the family never went hungry. Betty also recalled that her mother got the best hand-me-down clothes from her employers for her children. Betty explained that there was no lack of discipline in her childhood, and that her parents used a switch to discipline their children. Rather than feeling like it was unnecessary, Betty feels that she’s a better person for having been disciplined, though she does hope that parents have learned other methods of disciplining their children. She also recalls being disciplined by her teacher, Richard Brown, by having her hand smacked with a ruler, while attending school in the two-room schoolhouse in east Lakeland. Betty expressed her disappointment over urban renewal in Lakeland because the program did not live up to the expectations that had been promised. The community did need some subsidized housing, but she notes that most of the apartments and lower income houses that replaced single-family houses and small businesses have become student housing; investors are buying homes for sale in the community and renting to students. She feels that this is a disadvantage for the community. Drugs are a problem in Lakeland now, and Betty attributes this to the fact that young people do not want to work at a minimum wage job, and turn down their noses at manual labor. Betty describes her family’s various housing situations. As a child, Betty lived at 5407 Detroit Avenue, now the site of Lake Artemesia (she mentions that she could walk over to Lake Artemesia today but would not be able to locate where her house had been.) They shared a double house with the Stewart family, renting it from the Kleiner family. Betty’s mother eventually went to live with Betty’s sister in Laurel. After Betty and Ambrose married in 1957, they moved in with Ambrose’s grandmother Elizabeth Greene, whose house was located, along with the houses of the Gray and Gross family, on the current location of Paint Branch Elementary School. After some moving around, including a stay in an apartment on Emerson Street in Hyattsville, Betty and Ambrose settled in a house owned by Ambrose’s mother, at 8001 51st Avenue, where Betty lives today. She raised not only her daughter, but also her brother’s four children, in this home. She cites raising her family while working for twenty-seven years as a cleaner at the Paint Branch Elementary School as her proudest personal accomplishment. Betty’s greatest joy in life comes from her involvement in the church. She has served in practically every capacity and church office, and still participates in church activities and charity events, like feeding the homeless. Her love of God and her faith have sustained her through some difficult times in her life, including the tragic loss of her mother in a house fire, a devastating blow for Betty since her mother had a significant influence on her life. To this day, Betty thanks her mother for all the wisdom she imparted, even if Betty did not appreciate the advice at the time. Wrapping up the interview, Betty recalls that she and her siblings looked forward to church, since it was their time to get away from the house. But, their mother’s wild and joyous behavior at church would embarrass them. With a knowing glance, Betty’s mother told her that one day, she would understand. Betty now finds herself acting just like her mother in church. And she couldn’t be happier.
Subject: Lakeland and Community
Telephone interview with Elwood Gross. Elwood Gross lived in Lakeland from 1933 to the 1970s. He served on the Lakeland Project Area Committee (PAC), which consisted of Lakeland residents who approved the earliest version of urban renewal plans. Those plans later changed and did not include many requests made by Lakelanders, namely the desire for single-family housing. Recorded via telephone with subject speaking from his home in South Carolina.
An oral history interview conducted with Jean Ann Matthews during Lakeland Heritage Weekend 2007. Mrs. Jean Ann Gray Matthews, eldest of 13 children, was born in the Lakeland Community in her grandmother's home on December 19, 1934, to Clarence and Christine Gray. In 1954, she married Carroll Matthews in Lakeland at 48th Avenue, which was where her parents resided. From this union, they became the parents of two daughters, Carroll and Avis and two sons, Barrett and Jean. One of the most significant influences that remains in Mrs. Matthews' life is her religious involvement, and she has been a member of the Embry AME Church of Lakeland since a child; she readily admits that these religious teachings, along with her strong familial bond, have instilled in her a positive attitude and a major source of strength. Mrs. Matthews is grateful for the significant role her parents and other religious leaders, such as pastors and Sunday school teachers, played in her upbringing. Besides her church involvement, Mrs. Matthews considers her children attending college as another proud accomplishment. When asked about the most significant change in Lakeland, Mrs. Matthews says it was urban renewal since it forced many people to leave the community; however, she did not have to leave. When asked how she would like to be remembered, Mrs. Matthews notes: "I gave the best to the community proud to have been born and raised in Lakeland."
Recorded during Lakeland Storytellers, Maryland Day, at Cole Fieldhouse at University of Maryland
Violetta Sharps Jones, with her infant grandson, was interviewed on November 18, 2009. After not knowing her maternal or paternal grandparents, Violetta became interested in her genealogy. She is able to trace back her family's roots in Lakeland to the early 1900s. Her family migrated from Colonial Beach, VA in Westmoreland County to Washington, D.C and she was able to determine through census records that in 1880, Sarah Walls migrated to Washington, DC where she worked as a servant for a doctor and his family. This doctor was also from Virginia, so it is possible that she came with them to Washington, DC. She believes that Sarah's mother, Susan Walls moved to Lakeland because her children were there, and when she died in 1906 her body was sent back to Colonial Beach, VA to be buried, most likely because that is where her husband was buried. The 1900 census documented that Sarah, the oldest daughter, and her sister Nanny Walls, who was Violetta's great grandmother, lived in Lakeland. Nanny Walls Johnson Tate lived there with her husband James Johnson and their five children, and their family owned their home in Lakeland after 1900. Violetta was born in 1948 and lived at 1425 Albany Avenue, Lakeland, MD. When she left Lakeland in 1975, she lived at 5507 Albany Avenue, Lakeland, MD. Four generations of her family had lived in Lakeland since the 1900s. She was able to recall the neighbors that she grew up around, including John and Maggie Brooks who had five children, James and Martha Edwards who had one child, Charles and Netty Hamlet, and James and Anna Smith who lived in the building that used to be the Rosenwald School with their thirteen children. This school was comprised of two large rooms that previously housed the classes, a hallway, kitchen and storage room. Violetta's experience living in the East Side of Lakeland remained rural, and she was able to recall lots of outdoor activities and cookouts in her neighborhood. Her father was in the cooking profession and worked as a chef at the now closed College Park Diner that was located where the current McDonald's is, at a restaurant in College Park, and at one point he owned a small restaurant in Alexandria, VA. During the summer he would dig out a pit and have a barbeque pit, and Violetta recalls that her father always had an entrepreneurial spirit. Violetta grew up in her Family's house and recalled that her mother raised two of her sister's children after her sister passed away. Her extended family did not live with her; however, she recalled that at times relatives would stay with her family for one reason or another. Members of her extended family lived in the area local to Lakeland, and they were all associated with Embry AME Church together. Growing up, Violetta lived in a two-story house with a wrap around porch. Her house had two front doors with one door shut off to a parlor that was only used for special occasions. The siding on her house was originally wooden but then aluminum siding was installed. Next to her house was a large yard with an apple and walnut tree. Violetta later got married under that same walnut tree. Additionally there was a fishing pond with no fish and flower garden in her yard as well. Her family did not have a vegetable garden because of her Dad's work schedule and because she had no other brothers to upkeep it, nor did they keep any animals in their yard. The layout of her house consisted of a huge dining room, which activities were centered around, four bedrooms and an indoor bathroom on the first floor that was installed after the house was build because the original house did not include indoor plumbing. Violetta recalled the architecture styles of the houses around her, with several houses having a resort style, a large Victorian near the lake, a Bungalow style house with a screened in front porch, along with two-story structures that did not have a porch, and a cottage. Most houses in the area were fairly large two story structures. Status was not placed on homes and Violetta described it as a proud not pretentious community. Since her father was the cook of the family and her mother never had to cook, her mother was interested in personalizing her house through its dacor. Growing up, Violetta did not think of her area as the East side instead it was just the other side of the railroad tracks. Social events growing up included house parties, events at Lakeland Hall that anyone could rent, Church events and the Friday night teen club held by the recreation department. The Teen Club took place at Lakeland High School, and they would occasionally join up with other recreation departments in Prince George's County for events. Another past time included dancing to Juke boxes in Black's store and buying penny candy. During the summer, the recreation department had organized sports including softball and swimming. Violetta attended Lakeland Elementary and Junior High School and at the end of her eighth grade was the beginning of integration. Violetta had the choice of attending Northwestern, High Point, or Fairmont High School, and ended up attending Fairmont High School, which was a thirty-minute bus ride to school. She very much enjoyed her school experience because her teachers had a vested interest in the students. The Embry AME Church was a focal point in her family's history, and her mother was married there and her extended family were members of the church. The ministers lived in Washington, D.C and loved Lakeland, and would spend their Sundays after church with different host families that would invite them to Sunday family dinners. Growing up in Lakeland there was always a sense of community and belonging for Violetta. Everyone knew each other, and new people would become a part of the community as well. The community members were very protective, and this was apparent in the way they cared for you. Lakeland was a safe place and no one locked their doors, and she recalled very few instances of break-ins. Looking back she realized that struggling families were supported by community members and they always had something to eat and clothing to wear and other families always stepped up to help. Very few families moved in to the Lakeland community, and most property was passed on to extended family instead of being sold when someone passed away. Some of the traditions that Violetta recalled from her childhood were that very few people did not go to church, which is something that has changed now. Now there are a lot of new people in the area with no connection to the town, and not everyone knows their neighbors. Growing up everyone knew everyone and their families, which was a bond of the community. People often married other community members from Lakeland or North Brentwood. The community boundaries of Lakeland were based on a social life with the neighboring black towns until the 1960s, and that segregated socialization was a choice not by force. Violetta recalls going to the library and shopping center in College Park, and that many of her friends were in Lakeland and neighboring communities. Violetta briefly discusses an engineering firm that opened up on the East side of Lakeland, but it did not become a part of the community. On the east side, there was one newer structure built, but the rest of the houses were from the 1900s. On the west side, many families had expansions to their homes throughout the neighborhood.
Recorded during Lakeland Storytellers, Maryland Day, at Cole Fieldhouse at University of Maryland
Plat of property lines in Lakeland showing developer Edwin Newman's grand plan for his new subdivision.
An oral history interview conducted with Elwood Gross by Eli Pousson as part of an IMPART funded oral history research project.
This is an interview conducted during Maryland Day, 2011, at Cole Fieldhouse. The interviewees answer questions on topics of sports in Lakeland, segregation outside of the community, bussing and integration of the school system, Lakeland's interaction with the University of Maryland, and raising children within the community.
2 parts 1st part 3:38 minutes 2nd part 1:10:02 hours Mr. James Edwards lived on the eastside on lot 10, block 38 Full notes on the interview are attached. Finders guide coming soon! Full notes contain parts of meeting that were not recorded.
Topics Discussed: Family Childhood Employment (His Parents & His Own) Education Activities/ Entertainment (Ice-skating, Carr's Beach) Sports: Baseball Underground Economies- Selling Lily Pads People: Paul Parker/ Parker family Urban Renewal Train Crash into Lake Artemesia
Recorded during Lakeland Storytellers Maryland Day at Cole Fieldhouse at University of Maryland.
An oral history interview conducted with Elizabeth Adams at her home during Lakeland Heritage Weekend 2007. She lives in Lakeland. Her grandparents and mother moved to Maryland from Washington, DC. She was born on August 4, 1927. Elizabeth was married twice, first to Maseo Campbell in 1944, who moved to Lakeland from upper Marlboro, and again in 1975 to James Adams, whom she met in Lakeland. Elizabeth recalled the dates of her children. At first she mentioned "four girls and two boys," but five daughters are named. All seven of her children were from the first marriage: Pearl Lee, born in 1943 Bertha, born in 1945 Mary Ann, born in 1947 Maseo, born in 1948 Kathleeen Elizabeth, born in 1950 Dennis W. and Jennifer Lorraine Her mother, Ethel Hicks, was a resident of Washington, DC at the time of Elizabeth's birth. She had remarried Benjamin Waites, the stepfather to Elizabeth. Elizabeth made no mention of her natural father. Elizabeth's most vivid memory is of her grandmother, Annie Hicks of Merrifield, VA. Grandma Hicks, as she is remembered, largely raised the young Elizabeth while her mother worked. Elizabeth's maternal grandfather, Benjamin Hicks, came from Calvert County, MD. Although Elizabeth has played an active role in the Lakeland Community Heritage Project, she did not go into much detail about her activities with the organization. She is a proud and active member of Embry AME Church and knows the Reverend quite well. She takes part in Martin Luther King memorial celebrations each year and belongs to the Laity Organization. Her fondest memories are of family picnics with everyone together. Her worst memory was of the torrential flood that hit Lakeland in the 1950s. Maseo had passed on and Elizabeth was alone with three children. She described the waters rushing through the streets. At one point she recalls that it looked like the four of them would have to climb onto the roof for safety. The house had no basement, so water gushed through the windows and doors, quickly filling the rooms. Elizabeth was proud of the fact that she had lived in the same house all her years at Lakeland. In 1947, shortly after their wedding, Maseo gave up his trailer and built a home on the same lot along Navahoe Street. When asked of her proudest accomplishment, Elizabeth pointed to her position for seventeen years at Albright's Pharmacy, formerly on College Avenue in College Park. She noted how gratifying it was to see houses remodelled and to watch the Lakeland community grow in numbers over the years. Not all the changes to Lakeland, however, were welcome. She regrets how streets had changed - in many cases, not just their names. She mentioned a group of townhouses and community center rising where there had once been private homes. She speaks with deep pride about the James Adams Park, which the mayor named in honor of her deceased husband, who was very active in the Civic Association of Lakeland. As for most Lakelanders, religion has played a pivotal role in Elizabeth's life. She often pariticpates in church programs and loves the new minister, Reverend Jenkins. Grandma Annie had the greatest formative influence on Elizabeth during her adolescence. Elizabeth remembers her as a "wonderful person who always encouraged me to do the right thing." Sunday meals were a focal point for the family, and Grandma would teach Elizabeth the finer points of baking biscuits and cakes, especially as she came into her teens. Elizabeth enjoyed such sports as croquet, volley ball, baseball and roller-skating. As a child, she played dodge ball, hopscotch and hide-and-seek. When it snowed, she would belly-wop on a sleigh or toboggan. Her favorite toys were paper dolls and, as the family could afford it, especially teddy bears. One memory that stuck with Elizabeth was the crossing of the train tracks. So many of her contemporaries were now dead, but she remembers some of them moving across the tracks to the other side of Lakeland, presumably from east to west, as the community became incorporated into College Park. Oddly, as Elizabeth recalled the games she played as a child, this prompted her memory of learning to drive - at the ripe age of 38 - when Maseo poked poles into the pavement and her nephew made her drive around them. What has accounted for her cheery disposition? What is the source of her happiness? Elizabeth had no simple response. It seems that this was how Grandma Annie had lived her life, and hers was a good model to follow.
An oral history interview conducted with Pamela Boardley by Eli Pousson as part of an IMPART funded oral history research project.
Recorded during Lakeland Storytellers Maryland Day 11-12, at Cole Fieldhouse at the University of Maryland.
Personal Background Attended Lakeland Elementary School, Greenbelt Junior High School, and Parkdale High School in Riverdale, Maryland. Mother worked as a housekeeper for the Maryland University Father was in the Government Bureau of Mines located at the Maryland University Campus â€¢ Parents also raised in Lakeland Lakeland Community Participation Attended Sunday school with Ms. Dessie Thomas Sunday school was an important part of education Parents were greatly involved in PTA and education of children Lakelanders were also involved with the Lakeland Civic Association There were summer activities for children such as the Girls Club, Boys Club in College Park, as well as the Girl Scouts Understood Lakeland as separate from College Park Desegregation in PG County Ms. Weaver was the first white teacher at Lakeland Elementary Lakeland students were bused to Greenbelt Junior High, where they were the only African American children there There were both African American and white teachers at Greenbelt. Was apprehensive about going to an integrated school: about making friends, fitting in, etc. There were some small incidents of racist name calling in middle school, but generally people were inclusive Some of the best athletes at Greenbelt were African Americans like Georgie Rounder, Jeff Briscoe, who went on to Parkdale High. Race became a more conscious issue in high school as more incidents of racism arose and students segregated themselves There were two violent walkouts (refusal to attend class) at Parkdale when the principal, Dr. ,made a racist remark about one of the students Through negotiations and conversations between parents, the community was able to work the whole thing out. There were also walkouts at the University of Maryland until they made the school more comfortable for African American students What Made Lakeland Different â young man whose last name was Webster was the first Lakelander to attend the University of Maryland. African American students whom the Lakelanders met at school were from different communities with different upbringings and culture. For example, the students from East Pines were disrespectful and lacked a strong religious upbringing. Neighbors were very active in parenting other people's as children in Lakeland All of the homes were single-family homes, not apartments or the town houses that are on Lakeland Road today Many of the younger Lakelanders have moved away and now there are many students who rent houses in the neighborhood There used to be two general stores here and one was called Mr. Black's Store and the Mack's Store where Lakelanders purchased food and congregated. The Black's Store also had a dance hall attended by local youth. Success in Lakeland Ms. Middleton did not attend university because her favorite teacher at Parkdale High, a white woman named Dr. Lake, arranged an interview for her with the FBI and she worked there for 37 years. Personal and collective Lakeland success attributed to the strength of the community and support of parents and religious leaders Lakeland teachers made do with materials, even though they were substandard, and educated students well as Gregory Lomax and other Lakeland families with some influence used their power or class status to send their children to all white schools, Integrated schools might have better materials, but they did not have the same community feel as Lakeland schools Memories of a Community in Decline Used to live on Lakeland Road before urban renewal, when she moved with her parents to Pierce Avenue After urban renewal, the neighborhood changed drastically as the community fabric weakened Ms. Briscoe-Middleton believes that the community will continue to dissipate until eventually the University of Maryland will acquire all of Lakeland. Playing sports in the community allowed Lakeland children to interact with non-African Americans and become more comfortable in an integrated environment Mayday was the biggest celebration in Lakeland The regular flooding of the community was a perennial source of anxiety for residents However, they also had fun with roller skating, movies, a big parade every summer etc. High school prom was an important event for Lakeland youth There were instances of integrated couples, especially young women who wanted to take African American athletes as dates; you just didn't take anybody home. Janet Winnatin â€¢ Patricia was very good friends with a white girl named Janet. She asked her mother if she could visit Janet's house and after some reluctance, her mother let her. When she arrived, Janet's mother would not let her enter the house. At first Patricia did not understand, but Janet explained that it was because she was African American. Janet was very upset because she worried that Patricia would not like her anymore and because she was disappointed in her mother. Patricia assured her that she understood and they continued to be friends Thoughts on the Future Patricia has a granddaughter who is 13 who doesn't understand what segregation and discrimination were like, especially because Black History is not taught well enough in public schools. Because of the disintegration of community in Lakeland, the area is becoming less safe and children do not have a good understanding of their heritage. Whereas before, the area was safe and nurturing, now there is danger of muggings and an emergency light box has been installed similar to those on the University of Maryland campus. The only anchors that may tie the community together are the Embry AME and First Baptist churches; as long as they stand and the history of Lakeland continues to be spoken, the memory of this community will survive.
Recorded during Lakeland Storytellers, Maryland Day, at Cole Fieldhouse at University of Maryland
Oral History conducted with Jennifer Campbell-Dawkins, at the Edwards' home.
On Thursday February 07, 2013, members of the Lakeland Community Heritage Project (LCHP) visited Dr. Mary Corbin Sies's class in "Social and Ethnic Issues in Historic Preservation" at Holzapfel Hall on the University of Maryland Campus (Seminar Rm 1108). The members that participated in the discussion were: Violetta Sharps Jones, Avis Matthews, Maxine Gross, Pearl Lee Campbell Edwards, and James Edwards III. The discussion was centered around the semester-long project the students will be working on regarding Lakeland and Urban Renewal. There was also discussion of Lakeland's history, it's relationship to the University of Maryland, segregation in College Park and in the Prince George's County school system, as well as everyday life in Lakeland.