Euzelle Smith

Euzelle Smith

Euzelle and R.D. Smith - On food and cooking

Euzelle and R.D. Smith - On food and cooking

R.D. and Euzelle Smith have lived in Pottersfield in Chapel Hill since the 1940s. Both worked as educators in Chapel Hill for decades, and R.D. served as a member of the Town Council. They then became the namesakes for Smith Middle School when it was constructed. This interview was done as part of the “A Place at the Table” Foodways initiative of the Marian Cheek Jackson Center for Saving and Making History. Topics include Euzelle’s childhood and thoughts on cooking, and Euzelle and R.D.’s partnership in preparing food. Euzelle and R.D.’s first moving in to their longtime home, and looking for places to buy food in Chapel Hill in the 1950s are special topics of the interview. They also share their experiences in joining First Baptist, family holiday meals, and where Euzelle and R.D. do their grocery shopping. The interview concludes with discussion of Euzelle’s thoughts on teaching at various schools in Virginia and then Chapel Hill, R.D. growing up on a farm and his love for growing, Euzelle’s favorite grades to teach.
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Euzelle and R.D. Smith - On changes in Northside

Euzelle and R.D. Smith - On changes in Northside

The interviewees share their experiences with living in Northside, the1940s until today, and the lack of interactivity between Northside and the university. There is a lack of progress in preventing harmful change to Northside. R.D. Smith talks about his own experience on town council. They talk about Northside as a rural area without police or fire protection. R.D. Smith held an education position as the highest paid teacher in the school system; Union schools, including Orange County Training School. The interviewees bought their land from the Caldwells, a family that at one time owned much of Northside. R.D. had experience in the army for 26 months, until discharged in 1946. They speak of their dislike of recent developments in and around Northside that don’t have the same “character,” including: “cookie cutter” homes, 154, Greenbridge, and others; lack of housing for students at the university leading to expansion “up and out” in Chapel Hill, and young people leaving Northside and having to sell their houses because of a lack of jobs. They continue the interview by talking about the problem of only having the hospital or the university as places to work, the increasing number of student rentals in Northside due to proximity to campus and free buses. They hope that their children will not sell the house. The interviewees recount the black owned businesses that operated in Chapel Hill, including NC Mutual, which allowed Euzelle and R.D. to mortgage their house. They talk about witnessing the desegregation of schools in Chapel Hill while R.D. and Euzelle were still working in the school system. The Smith’s grandparents are a sphere of influence they discuss in the interview. The interview concludes with hopes for the future of Northside, including an increase in the number of available jobs. They also give advice to be self-motivated and make a difference. Euzelle talks of growing up in Newport News, Virginia and the experience of being married for over 60 years. R.D. has an interest in current events relating to black history.

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Euzelle and R.D. Smith - On Pottersfield and Smith Middle School

Euzelle and R.D. Smith - On Pottersfield and Smith Middle School

This interview was done as part of the “Histories of Homes” initiative of the Marian Cheek Jackson Center for Saving and Making History. The interview includes R.D.’s experience in WWII and his role in constructing their current home after the war. R.D. also held educator roles at Lincoln High School. R.D. talks about using the support of friends and family to build their home. Euzelle and their experience at Orange County Training School/Northside School is an important topic. They recount living in Pottersfield in the 1950s and subsequent changes in the neighborhood. They share memories of Smith Middle School. The “Over the Hill Gang” is a point of discussion. The interview also provides discussion of family photos and awards on the walls. R.D.’s deal with Fitch Lumber Co is noted. R.D. speaks on his mother’s role  as child caretaker and neighbor. The interview concludes with discussion on children in daycare, and R.D. and Euzelle as “work-year” students at Hampton College.

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R. D and Euzelle Smith

R. D and Euzelle Smith

This interview is part of a group of interviews conducted by Susan Simone exploring the lives and struggle of various members of the Northside community: a historically black and primarily residential neighborhood located immediately northwest of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and downtown Chapel Hill, NC. The community has long been involved in a struggle to prevent developers from buying up property to build new and expensive housing developments that would break up the black community and drive low-income residents out of Chapel Hill, as Northside contains the majority of the remaining low-income housing in the city.
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