Leslie Stiles

February 9, 1987

Hudson, NY


Grace Schwartzman

Grace Schwartzman


Mrs. Stiles was born in Washington, DC and was 98 years old at the time of the interview. When her family moved to Hudson her father worked as a supervisor at the brickyard in Newton Hook. He was the boss and instructed some of the workers. If he told a worker to do something and they didn’t do it, he could fire them. 

The family lived close by. Mrs. Stiles was the only girl in her family. As a child she worked, taking care of her brothers, both younger and older. She also did the housework and she notes that her mother did very little because the kids did it all after school. In listening to her reflect on housekeeping and childrearing as both chore and job for a young girl (learned sewing and cooking in school), one gets a glimpse into the societal norms of her childhood. 

Her brothers were Harry, Joseph, George, and David.  She speaks about her family’s move to Hudson while she was still of school age and shares how her religion played an important role in her happiness and social life in Hudson, attending Shiloh Baptist Church. The earliest thing Leslie remembers is school. Leslie got lessons in class, learning to sew to make a quilt. Mothers then didn’t let the kids out much. As kids, they played in the yard or worked in the house doing chores. If you broke something, even a toy you got as a gift from Santa Claus, you got a whipping.

The family would rest on Sundays. During sickness, her mother called the doctor. They had a garden in Hudson but in Washington D.C. they had a farm.

Leslie met her husband when he was working at the brickyards. She was about 16 when they started to date and they married when Leslie was about 20. She had five kids, three boys and a daughter, who were raised to have responsibilities. Leslie’s mother was the grandmother who spoiled Leslie’s daughter. Her strict great-grandmother raised her children. Leslie taught her kids to be Baptists. They all went to Church, Sunday school, and chorus. Leslie attended the Baptist church both in D.C. and here. The one thing, she said, that keeps her happy is religion.

For a good time, the family would have a picnic. Mostly they ate candy whenever they could. She says that kids behave the way they do because they want other people to think they really have more knowledge than they really have, noting that even 6-year-olds have an attitude.

When she was young, she knew that some of the parents of her friends had been slaves.

In answering about what it was like to grow up black in Hudson and how it has changed, Mrs. Stiles reflects on the behavior of black youth in the 1980s as opposed to how she was raised and raised her own kids. She also speaks about race relations having improved but white people getting away with behaviors that black people would not. 

Technical Issues: It is difficult to understand due to various background noises and continuous muffled audio of the narrator. 

Interviewer Bio:

Grace Schwartzman

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