He did an excellent job. The house is still standing. Joe was instrumental in me building my house.
To me he looked like he never had an enemy. I imagined he had some in business, but he appeared to like everybody.
Charles Weathers Jr.
...I’m 88 now. I was born in Louisville, on 22nd and Chestnut and raised in California on Breckinridge Street. I was a basketball and baseball player. When I was in school it was segregated. I’m a catholic and I couldn’t go to St. X. Wasn’t no Flaget and wasn’t no Trinity. I went to Catholic Colored High at 8th and Cedar. It was called St. Mary’s after Catholic Colored High. I graduated from high school in 1950. Segregation was still on. Back then there was a law, black and whites couldn’t play against one another. Or play with one another. It didn’t merge around here until 56.
Anyhow, Walnut Street was the main street as far as blacks were concerned. It went from about 6th street down to about 22nd street. Some people will go as far as 26th. Then after you passed 29th Street, all of that was white all the way down to Shawnee Park. Once you passed 29th was the rail road tracks. It’s an expressway now. But then it was the rail road tracks, and all on the other side of that was white, all the way down to the river. Wasn’t no blacks down that way at all. Then they started breaking the blocks, ya know how that works. Then they started moving out. Most whites then started going out Dixie Hwy. All of that was farmland mostly, out in Shively and places like that.
After we moved off Breckinridge, we bust the block down on Grand, 28th and Grand. And it was nice down there. The alleys were clean (laugh). My mother and father bought another house down there. We moved down there, then I went to the service. I got drafted to the army during the Korean War. When I came back that’s when I got to see the house (on Grand). Before that, I went down to New Orleans to Xavier. I went on an athletic scholarship down there. I didn’t do what I was supposed to do, let’s put it like that. So, I came back and got drafted. I went back to school to Jackson State, an all black college down in Jackson, MS. I finished in 1970, then became a teacher. I taught at old Male High School, old Brook and Breck, and I end up being the athletic director at Shawnee High School down on Market Street. We won the state championship (basketball) in 73. We beat Male for the state championship at the fairgrounds. I was also the coordinator for a work study program. So, I stayed in the system 25 years, and I retired in 1994. I frequented Joe’s often on my way home from the classroom along with Tom, Dick and Harry, all of them (laugh), every Friday.
I knew him (Joe Hammond) personally. I knew him back when he had the place over at 13th and Magazine. My grandfather, Augustus Randolph Ford, had a good job. He was the superintendent over at Mammoth Life Insurance Company and lived right down the street from The Palm Room at 650 South 13th Street. He knew my grandfather and my father from the block.
Before it was Joe’s it was Dave’s Palm Room. Snyder was his last name. He was a Jewish fella. His mother and father had a grocery store right across from Joe’s on the other side called Rose’s Grocery. Snyder’s brother had a place in the East End called J and H, that was on Clay and Lampton. I knew those two guys enough just to speak to them. But I was young. I’d go there and peep in the window like all the rest of the young kids, until I got grown enough. I had no business even looking in the window. But as I got older, and got in high school, ya know how you sneak in with the crowds!?! It was that popular. Ya sneak in with the crowd, and Joe would look up, and look at you, and you know what to do (laugh). Get on out of here (laugh). He didn’t allow no youngsters to come in there. He’d catch you in there and just look at you. Then you would come back from college or something, vacation, he knew you wasn’t 21 then. He knew ya. He’d look at you and you’d get on out of there. He would never embarrass you. He’d just look at you. He called me Junior Weathers. And I knew what Junior meant, get the hell out of here (laugh).
It was plush. And the one on Jefferson was plusher (laugh). Yeah, Yeah. And, it was larger, cause the one on 13th Street was small. But it was a classy place, anyhow. And, the clientele that you had, I would say middle class to upper crust, the doctors, lawyers, and teachers. He lived the style too. And, was a good example. To me he looked like he never had an enemy. I imagined he had some in business, but he appeared to like everybody. And, he didn’t put up with no foolishness in his place, he or his wife, Pete. She never was there at night that much. She worked in the daytime. She took care of the books and stuff. And, I remember years ago, I was probably in high school then, he was a beer salesman for Falls City, the first black salesperson.
I lived in Prospect then (70’s), I still do now. I’d come up River Road. I had bought some property back then from a lady who offered it to us, to my wife and I. We went out there and looked at it. The price was good. So we grabbed it, off of Shirley Avenue. It was about 98% black out there at one time. My grandfather told me that the area around Shirley Avenue, Bass Avenue, Duroc Avenue, that’s where the servants had to live back in those times. That’s why it was mostly black.
Anyhow, Joe didn’t drink much. But he would open up a Falls City Beer, pour me a glass and then finish the rest. And, I was in there one time. We talked. He was interested in people that were doing good, ya know. Or trying to do good. He was that type of fella. Anyhow, he said Junior what are you doing now. I told him I had just bought a piece of land, and I gotta get somebody to build something on it. So, he introduced me to a gentleman that was in building (construction).
He had built a lot of houses up off Shelbyville Road, back up in that area. We got to talking. He came down to the school, came down to the house with the plans and things, where my wife and I were living. And, we eventually got it done. I didn’t think it was affordable back then but compared to now then yes. But, everybody said I beat the man out of it. We paid $44,000 for it. That was a whole lot of money back in 1973. We weren’t making that much, because she (wife) was a teacher and I was a teacher. We did well to make $20,000 between us, $22K at the most. But he did an excellent job. The house is still standing. Joe was instrumental in me building my house.
Joe was in real estate himself. He had a manufacturing company out on Dixie Hwy. I’m not familiar with the insides of it. But I know he and Lenny Lyles were good friends. And, I think they were hooked up in it some kind of way. But I never really got into their business. They weren’t the type that was gonna tell you too much anyway. And, I never was the kind that wanted to find out. I was too worried about what I’m gonna do (laugh).
But, they were part of the Epicurean Club on 7th Street between Walnut and Chestnut. That was a classy black club. It was a Black Men’s Members Only Club. Everything was straight down the line then. And you had to be a certain status to get in it. When Urban Renewal came through they moved down to 34th and Broadway. And that (Urban Renewal) reminds me when I went to college down in New Orleans. We didn’t have any segregation on the busses here (Louisville), on the street car. But down there they had signs ya know, “Colored Patrons Only.” I wasn’t used to that part...