Interview with Hurtis Hadley
Recording by Viktoria Haiboniuk for Vanport Mosaic
“I lived in Albina area. Raw Street, MacMillan Street, Cherry Street, Kirby Street, Hay Street, lived on Failing Street, Fargo Street, lived on Beach Street, Commercial.
“My name is Hurtis Hadley. I’m 74 years old. I’m a resident of Portland, Oregon. And since 1952 this is where I’ve been.
“A lot of changes. A lot of changes through the years. I lived during a time where I couldn’t sit downstairs in the movie theaters, couldn’t eat in certain places because of my color.
“Went to Jantzen Beach back in the day, it was just a carnival center they had rides and movie houses and dance places there. We were allowed to go but we couldn’t. We couldn’t swim in the swimming pool. They had a big swimming pool. Blacks weren’t allowed to swim in the swimming pool and this was like the 50s and the 60s. So finally they dismantled Jantzen Beach, you know. And so that’s just history now.
“I really didn’t know segregation until I really went to high school. I wasn’t getting support from the white teachers in the school. They were more or less just helping their own and the blacks are just there and they found all these reasons why to expel them or put them out of school you know, didn’t matter.
“But fortunately, I went on and got a career, got more education. In 1977, I purchased a bakery in Milwaukee, Oregon. Go to Wikipedia and type in “Milwaukee Pastry Kitchen” you’ll read about us. In Oregon Historical Society, we have an exhibit down there. We're going to have a plaque and our names placed on the building that we had our bakery in.
“So, I miss the closeness of the community. Blacks owning business, you know, rather than having to go outside the community to get something and then be scorned or you know chastised, “Go back in your community,” so to speak, you know. So that’s all gone. I think it affects youth of today if they could have seen what I seen growing up then they’d have a better understanding of you can be somebody, you can be successful because there were people that we can relate to, you know, look up to and see in business. I miss that.
“I don’t think any of it should be forgotten because without history you don’t have the future.”