Skip to main content

Search the Special Collections and Archives Portal

Transcript of interview with Gwen Walker by Claytee White, July 15, 2014






Gwendolyn K. Walker arrived in North Las Vegas in 1962 from Houston, Texas, as a five-year-old with her parents, two brothers, and her cousins. The Walker family at first moved to a rented house on D Street, and Gwen attended Kit Carson Elementary School for first grade. Her mother enrolled in nursing school, so she sent Gwen back to Delhi, Louisiana, to be raised by her grandmother. In Delhi Gwen picked cotton with her aunt while she was in the second grade. Gwen returned to North Las Vegas to live with her mother and complete elementary school at Jo Mackey before matriculating to J. D. Smith Elementary School for junior high school and then to Clark High School. Later she attended UNLV. Gwen and her mother joined Saint James Catholic Church at H Street and Washington Avenue, but after she returned from Delhi she joined Second Baptist Church, where she became close with a cohort of friends that remained strong even as she experienced racism and bullying and love for the first time.

Digital ID


Physical Identifier



Walker, Gwen Interview, 2014 July 15. OH-02774. [Transcript.] Oral History Research Center, Special Collections & Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.


This material is made available to facilitate private study, scholarship, or research. It may be protected by copyright, trademark, privacy, publicity rights, or other interests not owned by UNLV. Users are responsible for determining whether permissions are necessary from rights owners for any intended use and for obtaining all required permissions. Acknowledgement of the UNLV University Libraries is requested. For more information, please see the UNLV Special Collections policies on reproduction and use ( or contact us at

Standardized Rights Statement

Digital Provenance

Digitized materials: physical originals can be viewed in Special Collections and Archives reading room



Geographic Coordinate

36.17497, -115.13722



AN INTERVIEW WITH GWENDOLYN WALKER An Oral History Conducted by Claytee D. White African American Collaborative Oral History Research Center at UNLV University Libraries University of Nevada Las Vegas ii ©African Americans in Las Vegas: A Collaborative Oral History Project University of Nevada Las Vegas, 2012 COMMUNITY PARTNERS Henderson Libraries Las Vegas Clark County Public Libraries Oral History Research Center at UNLV Libraries University of Nevada Las Vegas Libraries Wiener-Rogers Law Library at William S. Boyd School of Law, UNLV Nevada State Museum, Las Vegas Las Vegas National Bar Association Vegas PBS Clark County Museum Produced by: The Oral History Research Center at UNLV – University Libraries Director: Claytee D. White Project Manager: Barbara Tabach Transcriber: Kristin Hicks Interviewers, Editors and Project Assistants: Barbara Tabach, Claytee D. White, B. Leon Green, John Grygo, and Delores Brownlee, Stefani Evans, Melissa Robinson, Maggie Lopes iii The recorded interview and transcript have been made possible through the generosity of a Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) Grant. The Oral History Research Center enables students and staff to work together with community members to generate this selection of first-person narratives. The participants in this project thank University of Nevada Las Vegas for the support given that allowed an idea the opportunity to flourish. The transcript received minimal editing that includes the elimination of fragments, false starts, and repetitions in order to enhance the reader’s understanding of the material. All measures have been taken to preserve the style and language of the narrator. In several cases photographic sources accompany the individual interviews. The following interview is part of a series of interviews conducted under the auspices of the African Americans in Las Vegas: A Collaborative Oral History Project. Claytee D. White Director, Oral History Research Center University Libraries University Nevada Las Vegas iv PREFACE Interior of the Walker African American Museum in the Historic Westside Gwendolyn K. Walker arrived in North Las Vegas in 1962 from Houston, Texas, as a five-year-old with her parents, two brothers, and her cousins. The Walker family at first moved to a rented house on D Street, and Gwen attended Kit Carson Elementary School for first grade. Her mother enrolled in nursing school, so she sent Gwen back to Delhi, Louisiana, to be raised by her grandmother. In Delhi Gwen picked cotton with her aunt while she was in the second grade. Gwen returned to North Las Vegas to live with her mother and complete elementary school at Jo Mackey before matriculating to J. D. Smith Elementary School for junior high school and then to Clark High School. Later she attended UNLV. Gwen and her mother joined Saint James Catholic Church at H Street and Washington Avenue, but after she returned from Delhi she joined Second Baptist Church, where she became close with a cohort of friends that remained strong even as she experienced racism and bullying and love for the first time. v Gwen was still in junior high school when her mother founded S.W.A.P., Students With A Purpose, and the Swapettes drill team (the first precision drill team in Las Vegas) to keep youth busy with positive activities such as craft and cooking classes and the drill team. This also was the time Gwen began to collect African American memorabilia. Collecting African American items became a passion for Gwen, because “we must know where we come from in order to know where we’re going.” Because mementos and collectables symbolize history and make it accessible to everyday people, Gwen’s African American collections became the foundation for the Walker African American Museum. To detractors of the name of the museum Gwen responds that her mother was a Walker who married a Walker, so Gwen is a “double-Walker.” Also, the family is related to African American blues guitarist T-Bone Walker and Moses Fleetwood Walker, who was the first African-American to play in Major League Baseball (sixty-three years before Jackie Robinson). The name of the Walker African American Museum thus reflects not only Gwen’s family heritage but it also represents all African American history and culture. vi TABLE OF CONTENTS Interview with Gwendolyn Walker July 15, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada Conducted by Claytee D. White Preface…………………………………………………………………………………………..iv Talks of first coming to North Las Vegas in 1962 with parents, two brothers, and Jordan cousins from Houston, Texas. Recalls that her mother was a Walker from birth who married a Walker. Discusses living on D Street and attending Kit Carson and Jo Mackey elementary schools and junior high at J.D. Smith Elementary School. Shares her first episode of racial prejudice…..1-6 Discusses first love and bullying in sixth grade at Jo Mackey and racism at J.D. Smith……6-11 Discusses going to Clark High School with Gary Booker and Yvonne Atkinson Gates and starting to collect African American memorabilia in junior high school. Remembers learning about garage sales and swap meets in California while collecting salt and pepper shakers and selling the salt and pepper shaker collection for a fraction of its worth……………………12-16 Recalls activity in North Las Vegas Catholic and Baptist churches; discovery of kinship to blues guitarist T-Bone Walker; and naming, founding, and filling the Walker African American Museum.……………………………………………………………………………….……17-22 Describes organization mother founded, S.W.A.P., Students With A Purpose, and the Swapettes drill team……………………………………………………………………………….……22-26 Talks about the African American Cultural Arts Festival and difficulty of uniting the Las Vegas black community and rallying them to support projects like the Walker African American Museum……………………………………………………………………………………..26-32 Shares the reasons behind the Van Buren Avenue location of the museum; how she acquired the property around the museum; and community reaction to the name of the museum………32-38 Reacts to local group forming another African American museum and discusses tools that UNLV offers that might help Gwen and the museum...……………….……………………………39-46 Reflects on why she wants to keep the museum in the Westside; talks about teaching schoolchildren how to invest in collectibles…………………………………………………46-50 Shares specific collections and plans to expand the museum in its current location………..50-56 Index…………………………………………………………………………………………57-59 vii This is Claytee White. It is July 15th, 2014, and I’m in the home of Gwen Walker here in North Las Vegas this morning. Gwen, how are you? I’m wonderful. Thank you. Great. It’s wonderful to see you. Thank you. It’s been too long. So I just want to get started first and we’re going to talk about your early life. I just want to know what your childhood was like, where you grew up, anything else you want to tell me. Well, let’s see. My mother and I moved to Las Vegas in 1962, coming from Houston, Texas, where I was born. Three children. I’m the baby and the only girl of my mother, Juanita Walker, and the late Willie Walker Senior. By the way, my mother is a Walker from birth and my dad was a Walker from birth, so she’s double, Walker-Walker. My mother is the same, White from birth. So my mother is Gladys White White. Okay. So like I said, we moved here in 1962 and our first place, residence—well, we moved here with our cousins, the Jordans, which I’m sure you know Foster Jordan is my mother’s first cousin and his nephew Eric Jordan. Louise Jordan, all of those, that’s relatives. So we moved with Ellen and Shirley Jordan when we first got here and then shortly thereafter moved up into our first home at the top of Cadillac Arms, 1653, to be exact, D Street. Of course, I attended Kit Carson Elementary School in first grade. I remember my first teacher—loved her to death—Mrs. Abington. Of course, you always have those teachers that stick with you or leave that lasting impression. So my first grade teacher was Mrs. Abington. And my sixth grade teacher, who we’ll get to a little bit later. Mrs. Faye Coleman. She was at my daughter’s luncheon as a 2 sponsor. She sponsored her in everything that she’s ever done, as well. So I stayed here for the first grade. And then my mother, of course, getting her first job at the Sahara Hotel at that time as a maid. I guess after a week or two they attempted to have her clean one of the rooms of a white guest with a dog and wanted her to clean the poop. My mother gave them a few choice words and walked off. Sent me back to Louisiana with my aunt to my grandmother’s. Where? In Delhi, Louisiana. And then she proceeded to attend nursing school. So I stayed with my grandmother and experienced the good old southern life in Delhi, Louisiana. Even had the experience of going to the cotton fields in the summertime with my aunt in second grade. It was fun to me, of course. They didn’t like it, catching the truck at five o’clock in the morning. Then after that I came back after that year was over to Vegas with my mom in third grade. Attended Kit Carson Elementary School again. Of course, my first principal was the Mr. H.P. Fitzgerald. Stayed here for that year. Then, of course, my dad, still being in Texas, I would go home every summer to see my dad and my brothers, who never came to Vegas; they stayed in Texas. So I did stay that summer. And then my grandparents and brothers talked me into staying in Texas. So I attended fourth and fifth grade in Beaumont, Texas, with my paternal grandparents. Then after those two years I came back home in the summer to see my mom and stayed here in the sixth grade and went to Jo Mackey Elementary School. That’s where in the sixth grade Mrs. Faye Travis Coleman, fresh teacher out of Grambling University, about four foot two, three, maybe, just gorgeous, young black woman for me to see, just a young woman at that time and at that age—because, actually, at twelve years old I was taller than she was. But she was a 3 little powerhouse. I mean, a lasting impression. I was the teacher’s pet. I was an A student. Of course, by the time she finished giving instructions on what to do in the assignment—Texas schools then and still probably now are ahead of Nevada schools—so I had completed the assignment by the time she finished giving instructions. So, of course, that put me at the top of the list to be the teacher’s pet. Of course, I was her pet throughout the sixth grade and experienced different things with Mr. Hall and Mrs. Hall at Jo Mackey Elementary School at that time. How did Mrs. Coleman challenge you since you were so far ahead of that class? Actually, if I remember correctly she would just always give me advanced work because I would be bored. So I would spend my time in her room helping to grade papers or sort or different things like that because I was ahead of the other students. So, I mean, that was a wonderful experience. At twelve, of course, I entered puberty, at a very early age, as well. So I become a young woman, a young lady in the sixth grade. Of course, I dressed accordingly. I always wore nylons and little pumps and fancy dresses. I never was really a pant person. I think I always loved talking to older people or people my senior. So I was quite mature for the sixth grade. Then I proceeded to go to junior high school. I went to J.D. Smith Elementary School. I’ll never forget at J.D. Smith—of course, I had not really experienced prejudice or anything here in Nevada. I’ll backtrack a little bit and tell of the experience while I was in Beaumont, Texas in the fourth grade. Even living here in the early sixties, even though there was racism and discrimination going on, we weren’t directly affected because in our neighborhood schools we had our black teachers and principals and everything. So for that fourth grade of being in 4 Beaumont, Texas, I remember staying with my maternal grandmother Lossie L. Walker, Lossie Lee Walker and Marvin Walker. We stayed in a place called Hollywood Village. At that time we didn’t know the apartments at that time was really the projects. I didn’t realize that I was living in a project probably until about four or five years ago when we were just sitting around talking and then it dawned on me that was the projects. I just was oblivious to it. So for anyone reading this tell me what “the projects” means in the community. Then or now? Both. Both, okay. Then, being in Beaumont, Texas, as a little girl in the fourth grade, it was just a community setting. Hollywood Village was a place where it had two big sections. You had the front of the complex that was a little shopping mall that were black businesses—barbershops, the little liquor store and everything—and then you had like a half-moon driveway and the sidewalk across that whole front entrance. You would either go into Section A or Section B. So you had a long walkway that went down each side all the way down and it made a U-shape in each section. So, of course, my grandmother [Lossie Walker] lived in Section B, all the way to the back. Now, you could go around the apartments—I just called them apartments—through the driveway all the way around the back. And at the back of the Hollywood Village was a chain-link fence, shrubbery and greenery or whatever, weeded, whatever, but there was what I later discovered in my later years was a country club. In that summer we would be playing in Hollywood Village, all the black children, riding our bicycles or just playing in the front courtyard and everything. Like I said, you had apartments lined up all the way around the U-shape in each section. So you would walk the sidewalk to go to all your neighbors and whomever there. With my grandmother living in the very back, of course, there was parking spaces right behind our apartment where my 5 grandpa would park his vehicle. But during the summer, like I said, we would be playing all around everywhere and we started talking to the white children through the fence. Kids are kids. They don’t know prejudice until they’re taught. So therefore, the little white kids told us one day, “Well, why don’t you guys come on over and go swimming with us? All you need is your towel and a quarter.” So of course, I was used to being here and going to Dula Community Park down on Bonanza [Road]. So we could all swim down there and it was no big deal that I could remember, okay? So there was about eight or nine of us black kids in Hollywood Village got our towels. I went and asked my grandma for a quarter. I didn’t know until later she just thought that we were going to the city park on the other side of the country club. So we had to, of course, walk the long driveway in the back all the way to the end of the street to walk around the main street to get around to the front of the country club. Of course, the white kids met us at the front and we were all gung-ho and we were coming on in. And the white kids are standing there and we’re coming in. And all of a sudden, as small as I was, but I was taller than the rest of the kids, but the biggest, whitest man that I had ever really seen up close—I didn’t really know the difference—but to hear this person saying, “Niggers, where y’all going?” And I looked up at him. For a little kid I’m looking all the way up to this man. And I come back down and we’re all looking at each other. The white kids are all standing there saying, “Come on, come on, you got your towel, you got your quarter, come on.” And then the white man says, “Niggers not allowed here; get away from here.” And the white kids are crying and yelling and we’re crying, “But we got our quarter; we got our towel.” So needless to say, we had to leave. So we come on back. Walk around to the 6 Hollywood Village. Did you know what that word meant? I didn’t know. So we get back to the Hollywood Village and we’re sad. So we knew we had to continue playing in the neighborhood. But I went in and asked my grandma. She said, “Well, why y’all back so soon?” We say, “Well, we went to go swimming with the other kids, but this big white man said, ‘Niggers ain’t allowed.’” And I said, “Grandma, what’s a nigger?” And she say, “Oh, baby.” She said, “Where did y’all go?” And we say, “We went right there, Grandma, right there.” And she said, “Oh, baby.” She said, “I thought y’all went to the park.” And I’m like, “The park?” At that time we could only swim in the swamp, the little pond in the park. I didn’t know because I’m from Vegas. I didn’t know. The other kids knew, but they figured the white kids invited us, so we were going to go swimming. Needless to say, she tried to explain to me, “Well, nigger is what white people call colored people.” And I’m like, “Colored people? Grandma, what’s colored people?” And she said, “Well, baby, people that look like you and me.” And I’m like, “Well, Mama, I got my quarter. You gave me a quarter and we got our towel.” She said, “Well, baby, one day you will understand.” And I said, “Okay.” So that was my first experience of discrimination, racism; that sort of thing. We still didn’t understand because all we’re thinking about is we only needed a towel and quarter, and that we had. So back to coming back here and going into J.D. Smith Junior High School, of course, the transition was pretty good. I had black friends. I had white friends. But, of course, growing up in the neighborhood, being advanced in sixth grade, I now know—and I just wrote about this 7 here recently—about all the hoopla and all the seriousness of bullying. I didn’t know that I had been bullied up until I thought about it, just reading an article here recently. All I considered was this girl always picked on me. And going to Jo Mackey, we had to walk across the desert from here and Valley View [Boulevard] across Carey [Avenue] to go through the desert to get to Jo Mackey. So I had two best friends here in Valley View. And at that time, like I said, I didn’t wear pants, so I always had on a dress. Of course, I had met my first love at the time. Of course, my mother didn’t want to hear anything like that. But I knew, I just knew I was in love with this guy. But at twelve, getting ready to turn thirteen, every time my two friends and I would walk from school—and because I was still the bookworm and advanced in my studies—the local girls here in the neighborhood always teased me about thinking I was so smart, I was so this, I was so that. And my mom didn’t let me really play out in the neighborhood. I had to be in the house when the streetlights came on. Things like that. This one girl—I’ll call her her nickname, Pokey—she hated me because it turns out my first love that I was talking to, she liked him as well. Of course, I was a stately thirteen-year-old. She was petite like all the rest of the girls. So I was always teased about being fat or overweight or whatever. But I dressed sharply and then I was smart, too. So they didn’t like that, either. They would use me sometimes—I didn’t realize it at the time because I wanted to make friends—but they would use me to help them with their homework and all that sort of thing. But because she liked my first love, whose initials are L. E., which is the title of my first track on my CD I did in 2002, Spoken Word. But anyway, [laughing]. (Inaudible/16:13) Oh, I’ll have to let you hear it when we finish. 8 But anyway, she would always bother me about it. The three of us—Tijuana, Debra—and a third friend, Dianne, we were all just our little close-knit group because we just didn’t fit in because we were smart and always in the books and that sort of thing. But walking through the desert—I can hear her now and I still got a scar on this left knee from that first incident, which there were two or three more after that—but we heard this crowd roaring, everybody laughing and everybody talking and everything. We turned around and we look and here’s a whole crowd of kids coming behind us. All of a sudden I hear these choice words, “Hey, you fat B.” And I’m looking around like, “I wonder who’s she talking to?” The three or four of us are like, “Who’s she talking to?” So we kept walking. All of a sudden I get the hardest lick in my back. Nearly knocked me down. I was like, “Ooh, what did you do that for?” And she gave me a few other choice names and everything and started talking about, “Well, that’s my man and that’s my…this and that.” All I knew is that was the guy that I liked and I had met and he was my heart. She proceeded to hit me a few more times and I’m steady trying—because I didn’t know how to fight, hadn’t ever been exposed to it—so I’m trying to get her off of me and everybody’s yelling. The whole crowd, they knew. And I saw something on YouTube that reminded me and I’m like, “Oh, my God, I was bullied.” Now, here I am fifty-seven years old realizing that I was bullied. Now, at that time I always said, “Somebody’s picking on me or starting a fight or whatever.” Of course, after two or three more kicks in my back, I fell. And I had on nylons and everything and coming through the desert I had “cockaburrs,” we called them, all in my knees. Like I said, I still got scars on my knee from that first time. Of course, when she finally got tired of pouncing on me—and I didn’t fight back because I kept saying, “I don’t want to fight you.” And she’s trying to make me fight or whatever. My friends are saying, “Leave her alone, Pokey. 9 Leave her alone.” So we walked on. I’m dirty and everything. Luckily I got home before my mother got home from Sunrise Hospital to change clothes and I didn’t tell my mom what had happened. Embarrassed. Then, like I said, these same girls in the neighborhood—some of them were at my mother’s eightieth birthday party we gave her last year—they would then try to befriend me later if they wanted help with homework. They knew, because I was like an only child growing up with my mom, she always had plenty of fruit and plenty of snacks and whatever. So they’d try to come over before my mom came home from work to get help. But, of course, they’d eat all the fruit and I’d have to try to make up a little fib, lie to say what happened to all the fruit because mom would be like, “Well, what happened to all the fruit?” “Oh, well, Mom, I ate some. I took some to school. I did this.” I didn’t never want to tell her what was up. Then she finally realized, “Are you trying to buy friends or what are you doing?” And I’m like, “Well, no, mom,” blah, blah, blah. Little old timid Gwen. So anyway, then a second time it happened again. Coming home I hear all the crowd going and everything. She pounces on me again. I’m still trying to avoid conflict and, “Leave me alone, Pokey.” And I won’t say her real name because she works on the Strip to this day. [Laughing] Yeah, so I didn’t tell—that’s my daughter, Nika. [Colloquy not transcribed] So, like I said, I got through sixth grade. In seventh grade I go to J.D. Smith. In the beginning we had to walk to J.D. Smith. So we had to walk down the hill. But at that time we used to cross over the railroad track, which is I-15 (Interstate 15). Right. Where is— J.D. Smith is down—it was at Tonopah [Avenue] and Bruce [Street], just past the old North Las 10 Vegas Police Department. So we had to walk to school. So we would walk down there and everything. Everything was okay. I got in J.D. Smith and was still doing good in school and everything. I had a white friend. I’ll never forget. Her name was Cathy. I can’t remember her last name. But we became very good friends. Then when the racial unrest across the country started happening, then we had black kids and the white kids—they were getting along up until that point, but when you had all this unrest around the country then it started being a black-white thing and us being called the “N” word and that sort of thing. Like I said, the tensions started growing. And then of course, Cathy and I started being a little bit strained because people didn’t understand how we could be friends because we hung out together. We ate lunch together and everything. So this one particular day, of course, this same group of girls that used to walk with Pokey to watch all the happenings or whatever, bully whoever she was bullying during that time, they started ribbing me and teasing me about being friends with a white girl and this sort of thing. “How you going to be friends with her?” And blah, blah, blah, blah, and all that sort of thing. So one day during an altercation with all the black kids—it’s like I don’t know and I can’t remember if the black kids were instigating or not. But it was so much tension in the air that we had not experienced when we first got to J.D. [Smith] But some kind of way Cathy and I ended up into an argument, and I think it was with the pushing of both sides. I’ll never forget we were standing in front of the library, which had some steps to go up to go into the library, and the white kids were pushing her into calling me a nigger and the black kids were pushing me into you’re not going to let her get away with that, are you? 11 And I’m torn between...what should I do? So, of course, I reacted like the black kids expected me to react. So I think, if I remember correctly and I’m not sure, but I think I pounced on her first because of the peer pressure of you’re not going to let her get away with calling you a nigger. And she was in the same predicament. She didn’t want to call me a nigger, but the white kids were pushing her. So anyway, we started fighting. And I could just hear all this noise and roaring in the back of my head of, “Get her, get her, get her, get her.” So all I could think of was pounce her head, pounce her head. So I grabbed her long hair and I started trying to pounce her head into the brick step. Then of course, I’ll never forget—I think it was my typing teacher came out and pulled us apart. He knew we were friends and he’s pulling us apart like, “What’s going on? What’s going on with you guys?” So he takes us to the office. Of course, they had to call our parents. Of course, my mother comes, hot as fish grease, of course. “What do you mean? You’re fighting somebody because they called you the ‘N’ word? You know who you are. What have I taught you?” So, of course, that was my first suspension, fighting my best friend. And I was torn; she was torn because we had been best of friends. But giving into that peer pressure and bullying and all that stuff along with the national climate that was going on, we went through that. Sixty-eight, ‘69? Somewhere in that area, yeah. But like I say, I was seventh grade at that time. So then I went on through the eighth grade and I think the ninth grade because at that time I think the tenth grade was the beginning of high school. Of course, because at that time also Rancho High School was where I was zoned for and my mother said, “Absolutely not,” because it was a lot of tension with the blacks against the 12 whites at that time and we were slowly getting the Hispanics in the area as well. So my mom said, “No way, Jose.” So we got a zone variance for me to go to Clark High School and that’s where I went, to Clark High School. And no racial tension there? Not at first. Not at first. Clark was pretty good. Matter of fact—I might could put my finger on it—I went to Clark with Yvonne Atkinson Gates, Gary Booker. Matter of fact, during my junior high school years Gary Booker and I were friends and his dad at that time had a black golf club. Back then the crocheted flop hats was in and I was crocheting. So I got the little job to crochet some red, I believe, and white flop hats for his golf club group, for Gary Booker. So is that the same group that had Q.B. Bush? I don’t know because I was a kid then. But I remember crocheting. I was always a little entrepreneur. So I crocheted all the hats for his dad. And I didn’t realize until years later that [Kermit J.] Booker Elementary [School], where my daughter ended up going and being the valedictorian there, was the [father of the] same Gary Booker and that I went to school with Gary. Because here recently in going through some boxes and archives, I found part of a newspaper from 1971; that during Black History Month we had to write our feelings about Who Am I? So in that article there is a picture of Gary, Yvonne, and myself and I think a couple of other students and poems that all three of us wrote about Who Am I? What’s really ironic—I have two poem books I’ll share with you, self-published—but my first poem book I wrote a poem in there called Who Am I? I never realized the thought from age fifteen, sixteen until I found the article and I saw that poem. And I pulled out that article and then I pulled my poem book out of the poem I wrote in 1991, my first published piece titled Who Am I? and how it so closely correlated in the thoughts and everything. It just blew me out of the 13 water. I’ll get to share that with you very shortly. But anyway, like I say, then Yvonne’s thoughts and Gary’s thoughts...and Gary, of course, becoming a district attorney and Yvonne going through her different levels of success and everything. And then I started feeling like, “Wow, my buddies.” I think back then I probably had the higher grades out of all three of us. So let’s start talking about your collecting. When did you start collecting items so that you could have a museum? Well, you know what? I was thirteen years old at J.D. Smith Junior High School. I had to do a book report on black history. When my mom and I looked around to try to find information, the books at school only had George Washington Carver and slavery, and just a little touch on slavery, nothing extensive. So my mother ordered me a collection of the Black Heritage Encyclopedias through Ebony Magazine. I still have that collection; that seven-volume collection is in the museum to this day. Since then, of course, I think I’ve collected another set. But I didn’t even realize then what was happening or how God was really doing things. So I was able to research information. I remember my mom always had Ebony and Jet Magazine in the house all the time for positive influence and positive reading and all that sort of thing. So that ended up being, I guess, the first of collecting and not really knowing, because we always kept the Ebonys and Jets. And then later on, leaving home, graduating in the eleventh grade from Clark High School and going away to California to go to college for a while. Where did you go? For a short period I attended Mount SAC [Mount San Antonio College] in Walnut, California, and Riverside Community College. Then I left and went back to Texas to be with my dad. So I 14 didn’t finish. Then I went to a business school in Houston, Massey Business College, and took accounting courses and stuff there. Then I got married. Did you marry your first love? No. My first love is still here in Vegas. We still communicate. He’s married now or whatever. But he will always be my first love, my first heart, of course. I, in the process of divorcing, came back home and started back to school at community college and UNLV [University of Nevada Las Vegas]. It seems like I am forever stuck here, needing forty more credits to get that degree. Just over the years of collecting...I remember when I lived in California for that short time and decided to get my own apartment while I worked three jobs and went to school at Riverside Community College, one of the lady friends that I had lived with for a short time taught me the art of garage sales. At that time the going thing was the drive-ins. In California on Saturdays—I was driving at that time a little ‘68 fastback Mustang. Didn’t know it was a collector’s item until later in years. But I would take ten dollars and I would start in—at that time I had moved to Pomona and I was assistant manager for Stop N Go markets at eighteen years old. So on the weekend I would go with Ms. Pat and her daughter Brenda to learn how to garage sale, yard sale, drive-in, swap meet kind of thing. That’s how I bought all my furniture for my first apartment. Drive-ins, because the drive-in could be converted to— To a swap meet. Now I know what you mean by drive-in, yes. Exactly. With ten dollars in my pocket I would drive from Pomona all the way up Fontana, hitting every drive-in along the way. That’s where I began collecting salt and pepper shakers first. And this little old white lady in her eighties at one of the drive-ins had a little trailer not as 15 big as this front room here. She had over three