1940s

The new decorated Ritz.

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The Carolina Times, 19 September 1942.

The ad above, touting the “new decorated” Ritz Theatre, ran in The Carolina Times, an African-American newspaper based in Raleigh, North Carolina. The white-owned Ritz, which catered to a “colored” audience, was located at 523 East Nash Street.

This photograph of the Ritz, which hangs in a hallway of the Freeman Round House and Museum, is undated, but contains some clues however. The magnificent movie posters at either side of the entrance promote Lena Horne, Bill Robinson and Cab Calloway in the acclaimed musical Stormy Weather, which was released in 1943.  The sign above the ticket booth reads “GRAND RE-OPENING, Monday May 13th,” but 13 May 1943 was not a Monday. Nor was that date a Monday in 1942, when the reopening ad above ran. The closest years that fit are 1940 and 1946. Thus, either the sign was left hanging for several years, or Stormy Weather was a re-run showing several years after original release. If this photograph were taken by Raines & Cox studio, which seems probable, the 1946 date is more likely.

Stormy Weather film poster in vivid color. I have not been able to find color images of the two magnificent posters in the Ritz’ glass cases.

——

Update: Mystery solved. Many thanks to Steve Brown for locating this ad from the 11 May 1946 edition of the Wilson Daily Times, touting the Grand Re-Opening of The State’s Finest Most Modern Colored Theatre!

Corporal Tillery racks up.

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Pittsburgh Courier, 23 December 1944.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 909 Mercer, owned and valued at $1500, farmer John Tillery, 51; wife Conielia, 45; and children Jessie, 20, cook; Ashley L., 18, helper on truck farm; Raymond, 16, helper on truck farm; Adelia, 14; Johny L., 11; Elnora, 7; and Clyde, 5.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 911 South Mercer, John H. Tillery, 66, “hires out & plows” in agriculture; wife Cornelia, 56, stemmer at redrying plant; children Nelora, 17, and Clyde, 15, “cleans up yards;” and daughter Jessie Williams, 30, “cooks & cleans,” and her children Alice Raschelle, 4, and Barbara Anna Williams, 2.

Clyde Tillery registered for the World War II draft in 1940 in Wilson County.

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Yule decorations.

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Wilson Daily Times, 23 December 1949.

  • Dorothy ParkerSouth Vick Street? The 1947 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory does not show a Parker at 210 South Vick and has no listing for 210 North Vick.
  • Mrs. Dan Carroll — Lenora Carroll died 16 May 1960 at her home at 715 [sic] Elvie Street, Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 30 September 1902 in Johnston County to Leander Smith and Luvenia [maiden name unknown] and was married to Daniel Carroll. [Both Dan and Lenora Carroll’s death certificates list 715 Elvie Street as their address, as does the obituary of Barbara Haskins Adams, the niece of Dan Carroll’s second wife, Bertha H. Carroll. However, the 1947 city directory lists Dan Carroll at 716 Elvie. My best guess is that the house at 715 Elvie, which is a small brick ranch, was built in the 1950s, and the Carrolls had previously lived — and decorated a beautiful tree — across the street.]
  • Rev. and Mrs. Rufford — Until her death in 1942, educator Sallie M. Barbour lived at 1100 East Nash Street. I have not been able to identify the Ruffords.
  • Dr. and Mrs. William Phillips — William H. and Rena Carter Phillips.

A Christmas invitation for Negro soldiers.

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Wilson Daily Times, 23 December 1942.

Saint Luke’s Christmas news; or “I will pray for the many white people who gave the tree.”

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Wilson Daily Times, 23 December 1940.

  • Rev. A. Betha
  • Ella Bryant — possibly, in the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: William Bryant, 55; wife Ella, 53; and niece Willie Merrill, 23. William was a hospital cook; Ella and Willie, cooks in private homes.
  • Rev. M.C. McNeil

And, again in 1942, prayers for white people (though “a few colored contributed.”)

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Wilson Daily Times, 23 December 1942.

  • Marilla Murphy
  • Mary Robinson
  • George M. Mason
  • Rev. Muggin 

Four years later, Bryant was still thanking the Good White Folks for their generosity.

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Wilson Daily Times, 16 December 1944.

  • Rev. McIntyre
  • Mattie Poole — possibly, in the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 309 Stantonsburg Street, Jim Poole, 55, and wife Mattie, 45, both tobacco factory laborers, and daughter Odell, 10.
  • Helen Mears

Saint Luke A.M.E. Church, Christmas 2018.

A Christmas party for the children.

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Wilson Daily Times, 23 December 1940.

  • Negro recreation center
  • Prof. Williams — Malcolm D. Williams.
  • W.N. Lassiter — Wade N. Lassiter.
  • Abraham Bryant
  • James Barnes
  • Willie Barnes
  • Minnie Leach
  • Unice, Mary and Ruby FreemanPatricia Eunice, Mary E. and Ruby Freeman were daughters of Julius and Pattie Hagans Freeman.
  • Louis Parker — probably, Louise Parker. She and David Parker were children of Minnie Parker.
  • David Parker
  • Tom Freeman — Thomas Freeman was the younger brother of the Freeman sisters, above.
  • Charles Howard
  • John Farmer
  • Rosa Mae Barnes
  • Clarence Barnes
  • Mary Frances Williams
  • Annie Pearl Barnes
  • James Newsome
  • William Melton

Cooke’s Wilson Notes, no. 1.

In 1940, Henderson J. Cooke wrote a regular column about Wilson social doings for Durham’s The Carolina Times. This week, Cooke focused much of his attention on the doings of Rev. Hattie L. Daniels and his own family.

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The Carolina Times, 24 March 1940.

  • Rev. Mrs. Hattie L. Daniels — in the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Cleveland Daniel, 40, fireman at city plant; wife Hattie, 38, saleswoman at Steward Co.; and father-in-law Mack Owens, 60, farm laborer. All were born in Georgia.
  • Willis Owens Jr.
  • Mildred Blakney
  • Rev. Woods
  • R.A.G. Foster — Richard A.G. Foster.
  • Elinor Foster — Elenore Hasting Foster.
  • J.L. Cooke — Jerry L. Cooke.
  • Mrs. J.L. Cooke — Clara Godette Cooke.

Masons’ annual meeting.

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Wilson Daily Times, 9 December 1947.

  • Rev. L.E. Rasbury — on 14 June 1954, L.E. Rasberry, 66, of Kinston, N.C., son of Ed and Sarah Harper Rasberry, married Sudie Ella Young, 56, of Wilson, in Wilson. U.F.W.B. minister H.R. Reaves of Ayden, N.C., performed the ceremony.
  • W.C. Hart — Walter C. Hart.
  • Rev. C.T. Jones — Charles T. Jones.
  • C.W. Foster — Carter W. Foster.
  • Rev. Fred M. Davis
  • J.M. Miller, Jr. — John M. Miller, Jr.
  • Ximena Moore — Xzimenna Moore.
  • Mattille Floyd — on 2 August 1950, Harold E. Gay, 30, son of Albert and Annie Bell Gay, married Matteele Floyd, 26, daughter of Ambrose and Mattie Floyd, in Nashville, Nash County. Ethel M. Coley and Albert Gay [Jr.] were witnesses.
  • Rev. O.J. Hawkins — Obra J. Hawkins.