Mobile Public Library Digital Collections

Mobile Public Library Local History & Genealogy Library

The Local History and Genealogy Library is dedicated to collecting, preserving, and providing access to the history of Mobile, and the greater Gulf Coast region.

Joaquin M. Holloway, Sr. Interview - 27 June 1983


Joaquin M. Holloway, Sr. Interview - 27 June 1983


Oral history interview of Joaquin M. Holloway, Sr. at Mobile Public Library


Mobile Public Library


Mobile Public Library




DeJuan Kidd


Descriptions of Oral History Interview Tapes




Growing-Up-in-Mobile-Joaquin M. Holloway, Sr. Interview-1983


Lalie Felis


Joaquin M. Holloway, Sr.


Mobile Public Library, downtown Mobile


Lalie: Today is June 27, 1983. This is Lalie Felis. I'm interviewing Mr. Holloway at the library in downtown Mobile. This interview is part of the Growing Up in Mobile Oral History Project. DeJuan Kidd is assisting with the interview today. We are going to be talking about Mr. Holloway's experiences growing up in Mobile during the Depression. We'd like to thank you for talking to us today about your experiences during the time you were growing up in Mobile. To begin, would you state for the records your full name and when and where you were born.
Holloway: My full name Joaquin Miller Holloway. I was born in Mobile, do you want to know location? To be exact I was born on Fisher's Alley, I don't remember the house number. I lived there only about year so there are very few things I remember about that residence. Shortly thereafter I moved to Carlton, Alabama, where my mother was born. I have a very vivid recollection of that house. It was a log cabin, one large room, and next to that an adjoining room which was used for the kitchen, a front porch, the windows were made of boards, which swung open and shut, had a big fire place, cook stove.
Lalie: Who were your parents? What did they do for a living?
Holloway: My father's name was Harrison Holloway. He came from Demopolis, Alabama. To my best knowledge, he was a house painter. I have very few recollections of my father because at a very early age my mother and father separated for reason I don't know. My mother was a domestic servant. She came from a very large family in Carlton. But she came to Mobile at a very early age to go to school. From what I hear, she learned to, she took jobs learned to cook keep house. I remember hearing her say once that she never worried about a job because she knew Miss Ann wouldn't going to work. But my mother had various jobs and I can remember times when her salary was $2 a week, can you imagine times like that. But people learned to manage and like most ladies, she was a master at that.
Lalie: Did you have any brothers and sisters?
Holloway: I did have, no sisters really, I had brothers. One brother older than I named, we called him OT, his name was Orlando(?) Thomas. I had two younger brother the one next to me was names Charles and he lived to get almost a year old about big enough to crawl around but he died in infancy and my older brother who's name was Julius, names after my grandfather, died a couple of weeks or more, very very early.
Lalie: Where did you attend school?
Holloway: I attended school first up in Carlton. My first teacher's name was Miss Dollie Drew (?). She was a very outstanding individual she had one of those voices that one could recognize anywhere in the dark, you just didn't hear voices like that often. So I went to school in the country about four years and at the age of ten I moved back to Mobile and went to school at what later became Caldwell (?) School, at that time it was called Bochley (?) School and Mr. Caldwell was the principal at that time. My teacher's name was Miss Essie Sheperd. I went there one year and the next year I went to boarding school up in Wilcox County. The name of the school was Art and Literary and Industrial Institute (?), was there one year and came back to Mobile the next year and went to school at Emerson Institute in the 5th grade. My teacher at that time was Miss Wilber Weaks Burrow, her name was Wilber Weaks at that time but she lived at Mr. Burrow's. They named a school that still in honor of her come years ago.
Lalie: What was your favorite subject?
Holloway: Mathematics.
Lalie: Who were some of your favorite teachers?
Holloway: Favorite teachers? I already mentioned Miss Dollie Drew (?). I must mentioned Mr. Joe (?) Allen graduated from Knoxville College. He was tops, he was thoroughly familiar with his subject. He taught me mostly Latin and mathematics, algebra and was a dedicated teacher. In Mobile, I shall always remember Miss Rosalee Isinger (?) who was a graduate of Tallagium (?) College and she was really an inspiration to students. I remember so well some of the things we did under her suggestion. In my junior year in high school, she got a class to open [...?] People's Bank which later collapsed and we lost that little money we had but that wasn't much but we did begin our practice of putting money into banks at that time and we had a club called [...?] Social Club. The duties of [...] were to read books and at meetings each member would tell what he did what he did learn from that book he read and just a review to the rest of the members and that way we did get acquainted with alot of the works of various authors.
Lalie: What did you want to be when you grew up?
Holloway: I had no fix idea at the time when I was growing up. When I entered college, however, I had an urge to become a medical doctor and consequently I majored in chemistry and I was one of the top students in chemistry when I was in college. As a matter of fact, when it came time to name to scholar for the year, I was in my senior year, the choice was narrowed down to two people that were Eleanor Thompson from New Orleans and myself. Eleanor Thompson won the award. But I remember so vividly one day she and I were in the classroom together and she said I wish I knew as much chemistry as you do.
Lalie: When you came home after school did you have any after school chores to do?
Holloway: Oh yea. I delivered the Mobile Press in the afternoon and in the morning I got up before school and delivered the Mobile Register. Aside from that there were very little things on school days.
Lalie: What are some of the things you did for fun when you were growing up?
Holloway: Fun. We had several games we used to play. Shooting marbles and we had another game we entertained ourselves with marbles, we would put little holes in the ground shaped like a baseball diamond, little holes for home plate, first, second, third, and you would start off with a line behind home plate and shoot the marbles and the object was to get into the holes and back here as soon as possible and then we would shoot regular marbles we would draw a circle put a line down the center and put marbles in there and get back from that circle about four or five feet and each contestant would put one or two marbles in that circle all the marbles he would knock out belonged to him. And we had alot of fun like that but some of the boys got cagey and I don't know if any of you know but at one time glass whiskey flask had a glass stopper with a round head and a flat head and a tip that goes down through a cork some of the boys would break that tip off so they would have a flat disc and they would shoot that disc and they had much better control over that disc than they had over a marble, and if they weren't careful they would break it.
Lalie: What were some things that your family did for recreation?
Holloway: Let's say a few more things if you don't mind, I mentioned only marbles we had a game Running Over and that game consists of a group of boys and one boy would get on a line and kneel over and clasp his hands around his ankles and the boys would run and leap over him. Then after all of them had their try this boy would move up a little further and he would get up so far that the leaper [...?] would have to fall out and the ones that cleared the greatest distance was declared the winner. And we rode bicycles, skated and I must say that skating in my day was much more fun than it is now in the street or the sidewalk I should say because the sidewalks today are so dirty so much sand and gravel and stuff like that that it isn't any fun skating. Of course you have skating rinks now and you probably have more fun that we did on the streets.
Lalie: What were some things that your family did for recreation and relaxation?
Holloway: That I don't know other than going to church, my mother was very good about going to church now I remember the year I spent in Demarcus I was about five years old but my grandmother on my father's side and father. My father took me to the circus and the circus was pitched just oh about 200 yards from where we were living at my grandmother, my mother, and father's house and at night we could hear the lions roar and it was fierce sound I could easily see why just a roar of a lion would cause another animal to cower and take flight but my father took me to the circus one day and we sat down and watched all the acts and the men riding those tall unicycles and the clowns coming out and the equestrians riding the horses but when they announced the lion act my daddy said to me come on boy lets go I didn't bring my 44. We left.
Lalie: Did you belong to any clubs?
Holloway: You mean when I was youth, nah I can't think of any clubs I belonged to.
Lalied: Who were some of your best friends?
Holloway: First of all I think one Ripley Simmons. He was the nephew of this Miss Rosie Isinger of whom I spoke of a few moments ago. One of the finest persons I knew and I had other good friends Eugene Patterson and oh there when I was in college I think of alot of classmates I had there who were much more recent acquaintances T.R. Miller, (?), Dan Kennan (?), Bernie Young, James Tony, Waylon G. McCoo who is now Dr. McCoo and lives in Los Angeles. My roommate James Tony became a physician officer, but he died at an early age. I could go on, on with friends now.
Lalie: Did young people at this time gather in any certain places?
Holloway: We went to the theater and that was alot of fun. I used to go to the Pike (?) theater regularly that was my hangout I almost got into trouble going because one year when I was living with my uncle Alex my mother was away in Chicago at that time and my uncle had forbade me to go to the movies on Sunday but I had little jobs before I make money [...?]. My first job was at a barber shop down on Dauphin Street between Stoton Bottle (?) and Steve's Barber Shop. I made my money shining shows and cleaning [...?] so I had my money and I could go to the show and I would go to the show because Eleanor Lincoln was an outstanding character at the time and that was a serial and they would show you just enough of the movie that day to make you want to come back. [...] was always in danger when the film terminated for that say so we were eager to get back to see how it came out. But I used to go to the Pike and when the show was over I would run all the way home from Pike Theater to (?) Avenue. Fortunately I don't think I ever got a whipping for going to the theater because they didn't know I was there and I said we use to ride bicycles but now I never went to a dance until my junior year in high school, the junior prom but we use to go and look through the crack at ball games out at Dixie Park. Dixie Park was situated at that time just north of Davis Avenue and this side of Three Mile Creek. That was a big area there but it was a fun center for most of the grown-ups and children at that time. And in later years they built another ball park called Brookley (?) ballpark that was just south of where Central High School is located right down between Vasal (?) and Conde street in that area. It lasted for quite a while.
Lalie: What was downtown Mobile like when you were growing up?
Holloway: Downtown Mobile was small but it was a very interesting place. We had several theaters then: Crown Theater, Empire Theater, Lyric Theater, Saenger Theater was the newest of the lot but they were all located within three blocks of each other and when one got coming Dauphin Street which was considered the heart the center of town, it still is used as a point of reference for north and south now but Royal and Dauphin were considered the heart of town at that time. As I was saying when we got down to about Jackson street you got into a neighborhood where the stores were and at that time there were hardly any empty spaces there all those blocks were full of shops and stores and downtown really looked nice at that time.
Lalie: Did you have a favorite eating place in downtown Mobile?
Holloway: No, I didn't eat out I can think of very few instances where I've bought say a hotdog on the street in the past. I go back to my mother and some of the things she taught us and one of her favorite sayings was Don't want for anything that you know that you can't afford, and to this day my son remembers her because he had the feelings he could always get some money from grandmother when he knew he couldn't get it from any other source. I have a cousin Marshall Nettles with whom she took up a great deal of time when he was a child. She had the feelings that Marshall was kinda outcast from the rest of the family meaning of course that more attention was given to the other children there were two other children older than Marshall and of course some of them were younger than he but my mother gave alot of attention to him. And to this day theu always think of her very very dearly. It was she who use to go and come and when we were living in the country my mother was living in Mobile most of the time she would come up there and Carlton was about 12 or 16 miles from Jackson which was the nearest depot and when anyone left Carlton to go to Mobile or any other place where they had to catch a train they would ride up to Jackson usually in a wagon or buggy and sometimes we would get a ride with the mail rider as you would call the rural rider had a horse and buggy and you would go from Carlton to Jackson and sometimes people would ride up there with him but when word got out that [...] that's what they called my mother her name is in that book. When word got out that she was coming and someone would go out and meet her. In the afternoon by the time that the children thought she returning all eyes were looking up the road and when they saw that vehicle approaching the children would go and meet her and she always bring some little gift for each one and that's saying alot because we were a large family. And she had this knack of remembering birthdates and she knew the names and birthdates of all the children. I was telling someone just a few days ago when I was down here to the museum when we saw the names of riverboats: John Quill, the Gattenburg and I use to ride the John Quill from Mobile to Carlton or the (?) Bluff which was the name of the boatlanding we use to get on [...] in the afternoon and eat supper and then go to bed, sleep, and wake up in the morning and have breakfast on the steamboat. And before we got up there and the same things would happen on the way from home up to Mobile. W use to get on there, eat supper, go to bed, and wake up early in the morning to have breakfast and get up to Mobile. As a child one of the enjoyable sights for a little boy and I imagine for a girl too, looking at the river coming up over that big paddle wheel to see the white water and then fall into the [,,,] for yards behind the boat…. I remember when the boat stopped at _______ to take on some cattle. Those boats used to bring cotton, hardwood, hogs, and livestock from those country places in Mobile. That long plank they put from bank to the boat called a ___________. I saw one man trying to get a cow on to the boat and, the boat, the man, and the cow fell off that plank into the water. Luckily, they were not ________. It was a lot of fun to watch, I guess.
Lalie: What are some of your memories of the depression?
Holloway: During the depression, things were hard to come by. I don’t recall any suffering during the depression. I really think that people had to be careful and make use of what they could get a hold of. I really don’t know of anyone suffering. I’m not saying that they didn’t but, I do remember bread lines and things like that. I was working up in ____________ for about six weeks that’s in Monroe, County. I do remember bread lines up there. Those people that live on farms and farmers, usually keep enough food on the table. They don’t starve. They don’t have a lot of clothes to wear and things like that but, they do have food to eat and enough clothes. So, I don’t have any real bad memories about the depression. I can remember some of the paychecks. For example, my first year working up in _____________, which was my mother’s home. I had an uncle that lived there at the time and he had a family of four boys and two girls. We had finished school. The contract I signed that year with the county. I was supposed to get twenty dollars a month from the county and twenty dollars from the people in the community through goods or cash. I’m quite sure I didn’t get all five of those twenty dollars from the county either. I don’t know what I got from the county. As I said, I was living with my uncle and he was a very injustice man. He had plenty of food and a large farm. As a matter of fact, he accumulated a tremendous amount of land just by hard work and _________. I think at the time of his death he had ownership of something like three or four thousand acres of land that was divided among his children. One of his sons, who was in school at the time I was teaching up there, is now a member of the factory of Tuskegee Institute. He is in the Agricultural Department. He’s been there for years and he really loves his work. We jokingly ask him at times why he didn’t get his Phd degree and he says the people that have a Phd here come to me for advice. I can understand that because he grew up on a farm and really knows what it’s all about. I should say that nearly all of us _______ with whom I lived with that year. Going to school and they got their degree. It was only one of them out of two. One of the sons lives here now. He, like his daddy, did not like school but he was very smart. He worked for many years at Alabama Power Company and accumulated a lot of property here in Mobile. The baby boy in the family was very smart. He spent time in the military service and I understand that he is an excellent mechanic. He just didn’t make the best use of his talent. The baby girl got her masters’ degree and lived in ______, Michigan and she has a daughter who has her masters’ degree. The oldest boy in the family got his degree in college and taught at Florida Central in Daytona Beach. He still lives in Daytona Beach now. (Ask me another one. I think I have said all that I wanted to say on that one. )
Lalie: Do you remember people coming around asking for food?
Holloway: Asking for food? I don’t remember that. _____________. I really don’t remember instances like that.
Lalie: What was Mardi Gras like?
Holloway: Mardi Gras is the same that it is today except that the carriages was drove by a mule. Very few was drove by a jeep. They became mortilized in the recent year. I can remember this _________ in the Mardi Gras. Even when I was a boy
I can remember that ghost and skeletons chasing at the man around that little pile with some balloons or something like that. 28:30
Lalie: What were some changes in the appearance of Mobile?
Holloway: Changes in the appearance? One of the most striking changes that I think of is the number of automobiles. I can remember at my church, Lily Baptist, at one time usually, if you were lucky, you could count five automobiles. I can remember a time where there were fewer than five automobiles at the church. Now, we have a large parking lot. As a matter of fact, we have three areas. One across from the west side of Kennedy St. and there is a huge lot adjacent to the church between Kennedy and _________. Then there is a small lot across from it. Very recently, I think the church spent something like _________ adding this big lot. So, there are a lot of automobiles. I noticed over the years how the churches have put extra burdens on the members asking for a lot of __________. I can remember when our church was heated by a big _____ stove and the ventilation was just raising the window. Now we have an air condition, central heat, and amplification of sound. That’s something that spoiled a lot of people. I was telling someone yesterday, when I was down at Texas St, ________..... and the speaker could not make ________and I told someone sitting next to me in my day Dr. _______ could be heard all over this room without any trouble often. I said I can even make myself _______without a microphone and that is true. There are many people who do not ______.... and that I think is one of the causes of the PA system people rely so much on that. A lot of people don’t even know how to use it after they get it: they keep their mouths too close to the speaker and sometimes you can hear their lips part when they talk. Some of them shout in it which is unnecessary. If u get the proper application, you can almost whisper and you heard it. So those are some of the things I remember about that. Now there were no skyscrapers here. I can remember when the ____ was building the Dauphin ___, the tallest building in Mobile. I remember when the Merchant National bank was built. It was, at that time, the tallest thing. Shortly thereafter, the ____________ was built right across the street. I don’t know if it exceeded the Merchant; maybe so, just a few feet, but they were both tall. Of course, you probably remember when the first National bank was built. It is perhaps the tallest thing Riverview Plaza. I got to check up on the number of feet that the Riverview Plaza is. Downtown, at that time, was an attractive place. I think it was kept clean. I can remember so well, at night they had men with [...]

Original Format

Cassette tape


56 min. 15 sec.



Mobile Public Library, “Joaquin M. Holloway, Sr. Interview - 27 June 1983,” Mobile Public Library Digital Collections, accessed September 29, 2020,

Item Relations

This Item dcterms:relation Item: Descriptions of Oral History Interview Tapes