Bronx Senior Storytellers - D Lee Ezell - part 3 of 4
Edryan: So when you first came over here did you take any type of public transportation, like trains, buses?
D Lee Ezell: The subway fare was 10 cents.
D Lee Ezell: Me too! It was 10 cents, this was 1964, it was 10 cents and I think I have.. a token from every time it changed since then, including one of those that was 10 cents.
D Lee Ezell: Yes, I collected them.
Edryan: You just collected them, to have them there?
D Lee Ezell: It was my first subway. *laughs*
Edryan: Okay that’s a good question, what made you stay in the Bronx after all these years?
D Lee Ezell: Loved it, loved it, it became home for me especially once I became involved... My entire career was um.. as a professional and as a volunteer which I still do somewhat, had to do with Community Development and Human Services.. and I thought that was.. my passion, it was how I believed I was supposed to live my life and I still do, I’m still a member of different organizations’ board of directors, um.. my political club you know several of the activities I’m still allowed to do by my doctors. *laughs*
Edryan: So how would you contribute to the community? You talked about housing and you know things like that but how would you know yourself like you know we have these groups you know that do things for the community, that they invest and they fund you know, what did you do personally?
D Lee Ezell: Well, personally I served as the executive director or CEO of three different non-profit agencies, and that took my whole, um... almost 50 years of service, and that meant the Gamut, it meant um... working on political issues, it meant building housing, building multiple dwellings, there are parts of the Bronx where I could take you and show you buildings that I built. Now when I say me I didn’t pick up a brick, but I mean I wrote the proposal, we interviewed contractors, I mean, the whole gamut of what it takes to do that, and that was mostly during the early to late 80’s and those buildings are still standing. We also supported and sponsored the development of some small homes in neighborhoods here in the Bronx, and that was exciting. But I guess that was exciting because there was such a great need, but the most interesting and most fulfilling part for me of my work was the human services aspect um... And I didn't get a change to you know, participate on a one-on-one basis as the head of the agency, but I made sure that it happened by bringing in the necessary funding, by hiring great qualified people, um... my life’s journey has been benefited by all the wonderful people I met um... and interacted with, fought with, you know, during those years of service to the community.
Edryan: So what was the houses like when you know, living with your mom or your parents, what was the house like was it strict were you allowed to do things that would contradict the families you know I don’t know, aspects of life?
D Lee Ezell: That's an.. that’s an interesting question because I think the strictness of my parents is what perhaps made me rebellious.
Edryan: Yea that's usually what happens.
D Lee Ezell: You know, make me speak truth to power *laughs* because I couldn’t do that with my mom and dad trust me *laughs* trust me... they believed very much in corporal punishment which is something I didn’t do with my children. Uh... We were a close knit family, it was a lot of love in my household and my extended family, I was adored as a child. I was the first girl to be born in the family in like over 20 something years, so everybody... they just adored me. I liked that. *laughs*
Edryan: Getting all the attention.
D Lee Ezell: It made me feel special you know, and I still feel special even though nobody adores me anymore. *laughs*
Edryan: So, you have siblings if I’m not mistaken, right?
D Lee Ezell: Yes.
Edryan: Uh... and how was that you know, when you were growing up fighting, getting along together?
D Lee Ezell: Well again, I was the oldest so um... For the most part I was more... Helpful to my mom with the younger ones, so no, I didn’t fight with them, I might have put them on punishment... But um, you know we didn’t have that kind of relationship and my pants did not allow, did not allow us to fight each other . It’s us against the world so we can’t fight each other. *laughs*
Edryan: So how was your fashion sense changed over time you know, the clothes you wear, how you dress etcetera?
D Lee Ezell: Not much.. not much... *laughs* not much ummm... My family was very conservative so, our dress came out of that and I think I've maintained that you know, a great deal. When I was working I wore suits that didn’t that I wouldn’t have gone into the office looking like this, so pretty conservative and it's remained there pretty much.
Edryan: Ok, so you mentioned you know the public library you weren’t allowed to go there because of segregation times, so how did that affect you during that time you know, you weren’t allowed to do certain things you weren’t allowed to go certain places..?
D Lee Ezell: If I had been able to get into that library I would’ve become president *laughs* no, seriously I think um... I mean we were taught to be great readers and we had very creative and innovative ways to get books and you know, keep abreast of what’s going on in the world around us, but um... access to the library would’ve been helpful.
Edryan: Any other places..?
D Lee Ezell: Any other places...
Edryan: Any other places besides the library that would’ve been helpful to you during that time?
D Lee Ezell: ...Well yes, I think the whole socialization process that I should’ve had growing up, I didn’t get until I was older and after I had left you know, my hometown. I mean just being able to go into a restaurant and sit down and have a meal, and chat with other people was an experience I did not have until after I left Georgia. I mean a simple as that.
Mid-Bronx Senior Citizens Council, Grand Concourse