Bronx Senior Storytellers - Ann DeVaughn - part 3 of 3
Sha'nya: And there’s another question. What does history mean to you?
Ann: What does?
Sha'nya: History mean to you personally?
Ann: History means a lot to me, because I was talking about the Union. I walked in... you ever heard of Adam Clayton Powell? you hear of A. Philip Randolph? you heard of Cleveland Robinson? you heard of Whitney Young? you heard of... I’m trying to think of so many other names that I walked with, I was in the March on Washington and I went on the train, the Freedom Train and it’s so many things that I have done, that right now you know, I’m not senile or nothing but it seem to be coming but I’m not wishing it on myself cause I do have a friend, cause right now I’m trying to think a lot of things that I did to tell you and I have a...
Sha'nya: Oh do you want to describe what the Freedom Train is?
Ann: Oh the Freedom Train? Well during that time the Freedom Train, we took the Freedom Train down to Washington DC and I can tell you Ella, not Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan was on that train. Who else was on a train? and all Union- not all Union people. We were going down to for the march not the March on Washington cause the March on Washington came after the Freedom Train and we been down there to protest and that’s what I still do, I go round now I was going to Washington the other day but me on a walker it’s not good for me to be in a big crowd no more, you know but I just encourage you young people and I’m gonna get out there, going next week, I’m going to tell my assemblywoman “let me” and then there’s another lady lives here in the building, and do some start registration.
Ann: Up there in the park!
Jon: For the midterms
Anne: And talk to these young people because they heard like I’m saying “What do we have to vote for? We don’t have nothing to vote for.” They have a lot to vote for! If they don’t vote, they won’t have nothing... But I love the Bronx.
Sha'nya: So what kept you in the Bronx all these years?
Ann: What kept me in the Bronx, well I was I had planned to go back to Riverton, North Carolina because I left my boyfriend down there, but after I got to New York and met all my, met a lot of friends and so I decided that I would stay if I got a job and it’s been wonderful for me ever since. I won’t complain, I won’t complain, that some say you have good days and bad days but all your good days cover your bad days, I won’t complain.
Sha'nya: What benefits have came from living in the Bronx for you?
Ann: What benefits? Well I’ve gotten a lot of benefits but even living here in this building. I’ve been here 19 years, and I’m very active in the building. In fact before they started the dining room here I used to come down and help the lady in the office and I been on trips, I used to encourage people to come and go on our trips so I was a very very good person here, but now that, I don’t call myself handicapped but I can’t move as I used to, because I love to dance! I won the senior citizen dance contests in ‘93 of all the seniors in the Bronx, Long Island and Staten Island and Brooklyn, and I won the price that was 1993 before the World Trade Center. The World Trade Center was they have uh they they had explosion there at 9/11 but ‘93 they had a little one too so I was there before so in ‘93. You remember '93?
Jon: I remember yeah ‘93
Ann: Yeah move it yes haha
Jon: I was in Los Angeles
Ann: Say what?
Jon: I was in Los Angeles
Ann: So you wouldn’t know too much about that
Jon: Not the senior citizens dancing contest
Ann: Yeah oh yes you see I thought I was the best dancer well you know what? People I left in Riverton, North Carolina, I lived near the USO and they used to come and get us from the uhhhh the USO and take us to camp Lejeune where they, the soldiers in Camp David saw the marines at Camp Lejeune and used to take us to entertain the soldiers and the marines just back they there and I met a lot of nice and still I think one of the guys he still raw but he’s ailing but not many of us alive now that I love the pretty business. You don’t know about business.
Sha'nya: No I don’t…. what is the significant event that you lived through? What is an important part of history that you lived through?
Ann: I lived through- I’m living through this one right now. This is history. I’m living through this now and I’m gonna make it, I’m gonna make a hundred I’m 90 soon to be 91. And I’m living through this history, he’s trying to take our democracy from us. Your president not mine, trying to take our democracy from us but we not gonna let him right?
Sarah: We’re going to keep our own democracy.
Ann: Right, that's right. Now, what else you want to know?
Sha'nya: I don’t have any more questions, Jon you seem very curious
Jon: You were around in the forties like the Second World War
Ann: Beg Pardon
Jon: Start with Adolf, Mr. Hitler and the Second World War
Jon: Did I have any did we were you aware of that happening?
Ann: What Hitler? Yeah I heard about Hitler but I never came in contact with him. But if, if you want to talk about Hitler, we got a Hitler right here you got that on tape!
Sarah: Yes we do as a matter of fact
Ann: But cutting all jokes aside, you know I’m thinking about you young people so you can have a good life like I say my parents didn’t have much but I could always take kids around to my house and I still do the same things, I was raised like that, but I know we had to be home by 5:30 and my mother was a homemaker, so we could take the kids to our house long as we were home, and my mother cooked a lot of food and that’s the reason I guess I grew up loving people. Love that word love, love has a multitude of force.
Mid-Bronx Senior Citizens Council, Grand Concourse