Primm: Okay. Good morning.
Logan: Good morning. Primm: Alex Primm. And I’m here today with
Mrs. Ora Logan. And we visited last night and
you were born in Springfield. No, you were born in Kansas City.
Logan: Kansas City. Primm: Right. And what year was it that you
moved to Springfield, roughly? Logan: I think I was about a year old when
they brought me to Springfield. Primm: Okay. So that would have been about
1930? Logan: Yeah. Something like that. Or ’29.
Primm: ’29? Logan: Because I was born in ’27.
Primm: Now your mother brought you there. Logan: Right.
Primm: Was she working then? Logan: She probably worked after she got to
Springfield. But I know she had to move out of
town to work at Barnes. And that was before my memory, so I must have been real young.
In Saint Louis.
Primm: Oh, she was working in Saint Louis? Logan: Yes. As I mentioned, a lot of black
people had to move to different towns to— Primm: Right. Find jobs?
Logan: Jobs. Uh huh. And I know she worked at Barnes in Saint Louis when I was really
small. Because I don’t remember it, so I must have
been under four years old. Primm: But then you spent most of your girlhood
in Springfield? Logan: In Springfield.
Primm: And that’s where you met Bert Adams, at Lincoln School.
Logan: In school. Yeah. Right. Primm: And did, do you remember when your
mother started the restaurant and hotel? Logan: Well, first she started, she lived
on Clay Street and she had a house. And the kids wanted
someplace to go, because there weren’t very many places for black kids to go to entertain
themselves. So she had a room and she let them come in and dance. And she sold them
sodas and everything.
Primm: That was on Clay Street? Logan: On Clay Street. Mm hmm. And then I
saw an article about the city hospital being offered
for sale. And I just mentioned it to her. And then before I knew it, she had investigated
it and found out that she might be able to buy it.
And she did buy it and started a hotel on Benton, 618
North Benton. Primm: And do you know roughly what year that
was that she got that started? Logan: No. It was in the ‘50s.
Primm: Early ‘50s? Logan: Yeah. Maybe ’54 or ’55, because
I know some of the pictures, the date is on the pictures.
Primm: And did you help her in the hotel? Logan: Mm hmm. Yes.
Primm: What kind of things did you do? Logan: Well, once in a while if my aunt, my
two aunts were the cooks. Sometimes they would squabble in the kitchen. And she would call
me up and ask me. I said, “Well, get them out of the
kitchen and get some stuff out of the freezer and I’ll be there and help you.” So sometimes
I’d come and cook. I’d help in any way I could
when she was in a pinch. Primm: What were your aunts’ names?
Logan: Oh. Margie and Sally. Primm: What was their last name?
Logan: Crittenden. Primm: Crittenden. And that was your mother’s
maiden name, Crittenden? Logan: No, that was my grandmother’s maiden
name. Primm: Oh, okay.
Logan: My mother’s maiden name was Northcutt. Primm: Oh, that’s right. You mentioned that.
And then how about your father? Logan: Well, my father, his name was Fred
Charles Watkins. And there was a large family of
Watkins down near Neosho in Oklahoma. And I don’t remember too much about him. But I
know that after they divorced that he moved back to Oklahoma or Kansas.
Primm: So he wasn’t in the picture for you. Logan: No. No. But I know that one of his
relatives, Mariah [?] Watkins, was the one that took
care of George Washington Carver. Primm: Oh, wow.
Logan: Yeah. Primm: Oh, that’s really something. George
Washington Carver moved away from Missouri when he was a young man, didn’t he?
Logan: Right. Mm hmm. Primm: So he wasn’t a family friend or anything.
Logan: No. No. Primm: But you people knew of him because
he was such a brilliant guy. Logan: Mm hmm.
Primm: What about your mother? She must have been a pretty intelligent person.
Logan: She was. Mm hmm. Primm: To be able to run a business like that.
Logan: And continue working at the telephone company.
Primm: Oh, yeah? Logan: Mm hmm.
Primm: What did she do for the phone company? Logan: Maid.
Primm: Mm hmm. So she worked cleaning up. Logan: Right.
Primm: And she worked evenings? Logan: No, during the day.
Primm: During the day. Logan: She went to work about six o’clock.
I think her shift was six to three. Primm: Uh huh. Oh, wow. So that was a long
day. Logan: Right.
Primm: Then she would come back to the hotel. Logan: Right. Mm hmm. Mm hmm.
Primm: But was it her sisters who were working there?
Logan: Her aunts. Margie and Sally. Primm: Oh, her aunts. Okay.
Logan: And they stayed there. Primm: They stayed at the hotel?
Logan: Yeah. Primm: Do you remember it being an active
place? Logan: Oh, yeah.
Primm: Or was it mainly just active on the weekend?
Logan: It was active mostly through the week. Because it had the Rumpus Room in the back,
and it had the barber shop and the beauty shop. And people were always coming and going.
Mm hmm. It was a fun place.
Primm: So there were a lot of kids coming in as well, using the snack bar?
Logan: Yes. Uh huh. Well not so much during the day, because most of the kids were at
school. But in the evening.
Primm: That’s really great. Logan: Yeah.
Primm: When did you stop working at your mother’s hotel?
Logan: When I left to come to Saint Louis. But I’d help her while I was there. But
see she had, my stepfather helped. And my grandmother.
And the two aunts. So it was kind of like a family
affair. And then my son, he helped when he was there. He came up here and went to school
for a year. And then he moved back to Springfield
and he helped her at the hotel. Primm: When did she close it, approximately?
Logan: Well, now, I don’t know. I moved up here in ’57. It was in the ‘60s.
Primm: So she might have kept it another five years after you moved to Saint Louis.
Logan: Maybe so. Right. Mm hmm. Primm: Did she enjoy doing the hotel?
Logan: Yes, she did. Uh huh. Primm: Who do you remember most of the guests
who stayed there? Are there any special guests? Any famous guests?
Logan: Well I know Goose Tatum. Primm: From the Globetrotters.
Logan: Yeah. And his, I guess his wife or girlfriend. Because they had a child named
Little Goose. We called him Reese. And Layman Jackson,
that— Primm: Musician.
Logan: Black. And he ended up staying there for about a year. (laughs)
Primm: Staying in Springfield? Logan: Yeah, and playing with Be Bop—
Primm: Uh huh, Be Bop Brown. Logan: Right. Mm hmm. Yeah. But there’s
so many. That’s why I gave you that book, because I
can’t remember all the names till I see them, then I get my recall coming back.
Primm: You told us one story yesterday. I wonder if you could tell the story again about
the soldiers from Fort Leonard Wood.
Logan: Oh, right. Right. Yeah. A group of 12 soldiers, they were a mixed group. And
they, the black, they wanted to stay at a hotel but
they wouldn’t accept the black soldiers. So they decided
that they didn’t want to stay there because they said that we fought together, we’ll
stay together. So they came over to the hotel and said that
they all wanted to stay together. So we had to make
provisions for them to stay together. Primm: At the [inaudible]?
Logan: Right. Primm: And how many soldiers was it, do you
think? Logan: Oh, it must have been about 15, 10,
I know. Primm: So it was a big group.
Logan: Right. But they stayed in beds on the floor and everywhere, just to stay together.
But they had a good time.
Primm: And they were good friends. Logan: Mm hmm. Right. Yeah.
Primm: Were there other things like that where you’d have other visitors who were whites
or Spanish or was it always just all blacks?
Or did you— Logan: Most of the time it was all black,
unless it was a group that was together and the black
couldn’t stay other places. But they, I was trying to think of another group that, oh,
the group from the Ozark Jubilee. They used to come
over a lot. And when they had parties or celebrate somebody’s birthday. And the blacks couldn’t
go to the white places. They’d all come over to
Alberta’s, because a lot of them knew Alberta. Primm: Do you remember Brenda Lee?
Logan: Mm hmm. Primm: And she performed at the Rumpus Room?
Logan: No, she didn’t perform, not that I remember. You’d have to ask Junior about
that, because he was there at that time.
Primm: Oh, good. Logan: Yeah.
Primm: But she might have stayed there or come there for parties.
Logan: She just came to the parties. Yeah. Primm: What other entertainers do you remember
who might have come from the Ozark Jubilee?
Logan: Charles Brown. Oh, from the Jubilee. Primm: Yeah.
Logan: Oh. Pat Boone’s, I think Pat Boone and Red Foley. There were some other names,
but I can’t recall their names now. There was
a large group of whites because they performed at, I
think, KWTO. I think that was the station that the Ozark Jubilee was on. You might check
me on that.
Primm: Yeah. Uh huh. I was reading the article that your son wrote about the hotel.
Logan: Oh, yeah. Primm: He really has some good memories.
Logan: Yeah, he does. Primm: What about the farm? You talked a little
bit about that yesterday. Did you help out at the
farm at all? Logan: Well, when I was on, I had moved to
Saint Louis, I think, by that time. And when I’d
come back, we’d go out to the farm. Or parties, just to spend some time.
Primm: Did anyone live at the farm? Logan: Well, my mother did. But you know,
they moved back and forth you know, from the city.
Primm: Yeah. They might stay at the farm when it was hot in the city.
Logan: Right. Primm: They’d go out to the country.
Logan: Or when business was slow and they wanted some time off, they’d go out to the
farm. And sometimes the people would be out there
and they’d call back to town and say, “We out to
the farm.” So she’d drive out to the farm and next thing you’d know, we’d have a
big group out there.
Primm: So the farm, there was also some camping there for people who didn’t want to stay
at the hotel, or the hotel was crowded?
Logan: Well, I don’t remember that. But see, you know, I was in Saint Louis.
Primm: Was there, who was growing the vegetables out there? It mentions in the article that
sometimes they grew some things. Logan: Now you’d have to ask Junior about
that, because I was back in Saint Louis at that time.
Primm: So you didn’t spend a whole lot of time at the farm?
Logan: No. Primm: How long did your mother own it?
Logan: You know, I know she must have owned it about seven or eight years, to my own
recollection. Mm hmm. Primm: It mentions across the street from
the farm— Logan: Yeah, was roadside park. I don’t know
whether it’s still there or not. Primm: And there was also a little general
store. Logan: Barnes. Barnes General Store, yeah.
Primm: Was that a black family? Logan: No. Uh uh.
Primm: But they were friendly with you all. Because you would send them business.
Logan: Right. Primm: So that was really a special place
that people could go out and have a good time. Logan: Right. Mm hmm.
Primm: Were there other farms nearby that were owned by African Americans?
Logan: Not in that area, I don’t think. Primm: How about elsewhere?
Logan: Yeah. Well, in, the Tollivers owned a big farm. And there was another family that
owned, the Dukes. The Dukes family owned it. Primm: Where were their places?
Logan: Tolliver was south. In fact, it hasn’t been too long since they sold that farm, the
rest of, I think Goodrich bought it. Is Goodrich out
there in that area? Primm: I don’t know.
Logan: Goodrich bought that, their property. They were from the last one. And [Ruers?]
lived out there and had some land, too. But I don’t
know exactly where it was in relation to— Primm: These were black families. Would they
sell vegetables or crops? Logan: These farms I’m talking about, they’d
been in their families for years. So– Primm: They were like truck farms.
Logan: A lot of people were farmers back in the, you know, the early 1900s.
Primm: Yeah. Was there a farmers market in Springfield?
Logan: That I don’t know. Because everybody, I remember, I told you Grandpa knew the Ray
family. From the Wilson Creek days. And the old man Ray used to come by with rabbits and
chickens and vegetables to sell from his farm. But I don’t remember a farmers market in the
town. There probably was, but I didn’t know about it. But they used to come in with the
goods. Primm: Uh huh. Yeah that Ray family, I think
their home is still, is part of the national park
down there. Logan: It should be. Uh huh. Yeah, right.
Mm hmm. Because that’s where they took General Lyon’s body after he was killed in the Civil
War. Mm hmm. Primm: Were they African American, the Ray
family? Logan: No.
Primm: No? Logan: They were white.
Primm: But they were friendly? Logan: But they owned, I was reading history
where there was some black person that was connected with the Ray family, but I’d have
to do research on that. Primm: Yeah. Uh huh. You have done a lot of
research. Logan: Yeah. I’ve been working on everybody’s
research. (laughs) Primm: Yeah. What are you working on right
now? Logan: Well I’m working on trying to compile
all the information I have into categories. You
see, I got a box there with Springfield and one church. And I got to get a couple more
and then after that I’m going to put them in books.
Or I’ll just classify them. I’ve been working on black
history for Springfield, there was a school, and then with Pruitt-Igoe…. I used to work
at Pruitt- Igoe.
Primm: Oh, you did. Logan: And then the fellow that was working
on history of Pruitt-Igoe. So I was trying to get a
lot of that information together. Primm: Oh, that’s good. Did you ever live
down there? Logan: No. I’ve worked down there, but I’ve
never lived down there. Primm: Yeah, that was really an interesting
place. I worked down there for a while. Logan: You did!
Primm: Yeah. I worked for a civil rights group years ago called Block Partnership. We worked
with Cochran Apartments. Logan: Yeah. Right.
Primm: Near the city. I worked with a Reverend Garnet Hennings.
Logan: Oh, okay. Yeah. Primm: Did you know him?
Logan: I remember him. Primm: Yeah. And then another reverend, P.
Albert Williams. Logan: I don’t remember him.
Primm: Garnet Hennings was a pretty well-known minister, I think.
Logan: Yeah, right. AME. Yeah. Right. Primm: Yeah. Uh huh. Well, you know, the black
history, I think, is really interesting because there’s so many little side lights to it.
Logan: It is, it is. Mm hmm. Primm: You know, there’s a lot of church
history. There’s business history. Logan: Right. Mm hmm.
Primm: And there is, you know, just things that people don’t think about.
Logan: I know. I know. You know, when they invited me to the American Revolutionary War
ceremony in Springfield. So when the man called me and invited me, and he said they wanted
members of the Bedell family. I said, “Now you know I’m black.”
He said, “I’m aware of that.” I said, “Okay, I just want to know before
I make the trip.” So then when I got there, this is my second
time there, and I sat down by this group of ladies. I said, “Well now are you connected
with the Bedell family?” They said, “No. we’re from the Daughters
of the American Revolution. We’re members of the Daughters of American Revolution.”
I said, okay. So then the lady that owned the property, she said, “Ora,” she said,
“there’s another person asserting their ancestry with
the Bedell family and they want to meet you.” I said, okay. I thought it was another black
person, you know. But then she says she’s got
on a red T-shirt. So she turned out to be a member of the Bedell family, a grandson
of [Mollin?] Bedell, I think is how you call his name.
And she was a lot of Indian in her. Primm: Oh, really?
Logan: Yeah, right. I can show you her picture sometime. And so we’ve been communicating
ever since then. Primm: Oh, that’s great.
Logan: Right. Yeah. Primm: Well, so you’re aware the Native
American family in your tree. Logan: Right. Mm hmm.
Primm: Were there many Native Americans who you know of who came to the hotel?
Logan: No. No. Uh uh. Not at that time. Well see in earlier years, there were a lot of,
we knew of a lot of blacks that had Indian ancestry
because you could tell by looking at them [unclear].
But now Miss [Crissman?], one of the Bedell, white Bedells, told me that there were a lot
of Indians in the area when they settled in Missouri.
But they came up, they ran them off, but a lot
of them came back to hunt. But they finally just drifted on back to Oklahoma.
But like one of the ladies I was telling you about, her, one of the Bedell had an Indian
wife. But when he went off to Jeff City to take care of business and all, they treat
her so bad that she went on back to Oklahoma.
But this, one of these white cousins of mine, her, I guess her great-grandmother was
Indian. And you can tell by looking at her. Primm: Yeah. Yeah, I know that’s true. So
the Indians weren’t, you could just tell it by looking
at them. But they were pretty well mixed in with either the white side or the black side.
Logan: Right. Primm: And there weren’t many purebred Indians
who were in the Springfield area. Logan: Well, you know, back in the, I think,
1920s, there were probably quite a few of them.
But they drifted out, you know, as time goes on.
Primm: Yeah. Uh huh. Did you ever see any people stay at the hotel, black families,
who were coming from elsewhere in Missouri, like maybe
the bootheel or other places that were traveling on Route 66?
Logan: Well, a few. But most of them seemed to be coming from Chicago or up east, going
to California. You know, like the migration from
the South to the North, a lot of them were coming
from the east going west. Settling in California. Primm: So there’s a pretty good migration
going out to California. Logan: Mm hmm. Mm hmm.
Primm: Did you ever get tempted yourself to want to go out to California?
Logan: Yeah, I did. After my divorce, I wanted to go to California. I was thinking about
California, Kansas City or Saint Louis. And after I thought about it I said well, California
is so far, somebody got sick, I’d have to come
back and forth, you know. So I decided on Saint Louis.
Primm: Yeah. Because you had family here and you were close to-
Logan: Well, my sister-in-law lived here and she asked me to come and stay with her while
I went to school.
Primm: Oh, that’s really great. Yeah. Well we talked about a lot of different things.
What is your strongest memory of traveling on Route 66?
Do you remember anything special about that highway?
Logan: Well, I remember that the people we ran into were very nice and courteous. We
never had any trouble. We didn’t stop too many
times, you know, because we knew of the condition. But the times that we did stop? Now one time,
this was in the ‘50s when my mother and my
stepfather, we were driving to California. And we were so tired and we stopped in this
motel. And we asked the fellow did he know where
we could stay. He told us we could stay there. But
he said, we had food in, you know how we packed food in.
Primm: Yeah. Uh huh. Logan: Because we never know when we’re
going to stop to eat. We had ice in the food, but it
was so hot when we woke up, the ice had melted and there were ants all over. We had to clean
the whole room, because we didn’t want the man to find all these insects. And he was
so nice to let us have the place. And he had already
told us that we had driven so long and we were so tired.
Then we woke up, the ice had melted and the ants were all over the room.
Primm: Oh my goodness. Logan: So we spent all morning cleaning the
room. Primm: Do you know where that was? New Mexico
or Oklahoma? Logan: I think it was in New Mexico, near
Tucumcari or Roswell, one of those places. Primm: Yeah. So African American people had
to be especially courteous, because you didn’t want to cause any problem.
Logan: Well, we were just taught like that. So. And we never had any trouble. When we
went to Estes, Colorado, we didn’t have any trouble.
And it was old-time gangster, I think, from back in
Missouri. But he saw our license plate and he said, “What part of Missouri are you
from?” We said, “Well, take your pick. Saint Louis,
Kansas City or Springfield.” And so he said, “Well, I’m familiar with
Kansas City.” So he knew some old-time gangsters that we had read about. So he gave
us our dinner free, and we just talked and had a
nice conversation. Primm: Well, I think you’ve learned that
if you treat people right, they’ll treat you right.
Logan: Right. Right. Mm hmm. Yeah. And that’s what’s wrong with some of the young people
today. They don’t have courteous manners, they don’t respect each other.
Primm: Yeah. I think people have gotten so busy now that they don’t take time to listen
and to know what they can do.
Logan: Yeah. Primm: Well, let me thank you now. I’m going
to stop recording. Logan: Okay. Okay.
Primm: I think we got a bunch of different information here.
Logan: Okay. Primm: And the hotel was a big part of your
growing up, wasn’t it? Logan: Right, it was. Uh huh. Right. Mm hmm.
Yeah. And we had some fun days there. And it
was, and you know, my children, they enjoyed it, too. You know, they stayed down there.
Primm: They remember it. Logan: Because a lot of times when I was working
or busy, they would stay down in the hotel and they would help out. Mm hmm.