Marie Parker

March 9, 1987


Grace Schwartzman

Grace Schwartzman


Marie Parker was born in Baltimore, Maryland and has lived in Hudson since December of 1929. She and her husband wanted to work together and found a job working for Mrs. Dipple on Mount Merino in Hudson. Her husband was the chauffeur and the gardener and Marie took care of the house. Years later, Marie worked for Pulver Power and Gas, and then went to work at the New York Training School for Girls for 17 years. She later became caretaker for her mother when she became ill. Marie belonged to the Eastern Stars and the Progressive Club. Her husband also worked at the Pocketbook Factory. Her husband died at 74 years old.  The house she lives in was left to her by her mother in 1974.

Marie’s three brothers and her husband were in the military service. One of her brothers came home with “fits” and never was good again. As a result, he couldn’t get a good job and never received anything from the government. There was no welfare in the 1930's, Marie said, “so everyone found a job or they starved”.

In 1929 Hudson was very different; there was a brickyard on Front Street, five hotels, stores like Ginsburg’s, four theaters, and many churches. The AME Zion is still open from that time. Hudson had no black-owned business then. Transportation in the 1930s was a trolley car on Warren Street for five cents. The streets were made of bricks.

African-Americans lived on Columbia Street, Robinson Street, and Chapel Street down by the River in the 1930s. Many years later those old places were torn down in order to build new houses on Columbia Street. However, Blacks owned their own homes in the 1930s. For example, the Jeffersons and John Tucker both lived on State Street. Mr. Tucker was a pillar of the Church. She said that on her street four black families own their own homes. In the 1930s people used outhouses. 

Many of the old people are gone now. The Church is smaller now because many members have died or left the area. Marie’s whole family joined the Church in 1930. Mrs. Cooper who is 95 is the oldest member of the Church. The Church used to have chicken dinners in the spring and turkey dinners with all the fixins in the fall. In the past they charged 30 or 50 cents for a dinner, but today they charge $5.00 a ticket. Many members of the Church had vegetable gardens in the country and farmers would donate much to the Church. Back then they never worried about the food they ate.

Early on horse and buggy was their transportation. By the 1930s they had a car. In the 1940s, the first car they bought was a Pontiac. Marie’s brother also bought a new car. Unfortunately, he died a few days later so Marie inherited his Dodge. She has owned it for 70 years and it still runs!

Every Sunday the whole family attended church together. They walked to church from Mt. Merino on a dirt road. They also attended dinners at the Church for fundraising. If they donated, it was a dollar. Their church originally bought the old synagogue on lower Warren Street.  She used to give $35.00 a week, but then it was reduced to $25.00 and $1.00 for the Ministry of Kindness and a donation for the monthly mortgage. Mortgage money is for the building, insurance, and upkeep. The minister lives on Greene Street, but the parsonage used to be at 213 Columbia Street. Shiloh Baptist on Columbia Street was always the biggest church, but now the building is the Masonic Hall. Teens were also different in her day, not as wild. They would go to church, do their chores and some had little jobs.

There were two big cement plants and at the dock, the Gas & Oil Company. There were plenty of jobs in the past, but when these places closed, it put many people out of work. In the past there were never any blacks in civil service jobs like police or firemen.

The ice houses were very cold, men needed to wear many warm layers to work there. The ice would last all summer. The ice for ice boxes was made by cutting blocks of ice from the Hudson River and storing it in the ice house. It was delivered every day to homes.  You would put your food around it.

When it was -32 degrees they walked across the frozen Hudson River to Catskill. There were no  bridges to get across back then and the only way to get to Catskill was to go up to Albany and over the bridge then back down to Catskill. There was snow from spring through to fall so ice fishing was popular. In the 1930s there were hot summers and very cold winters. Now boats go up and down the Hudson River to prevent it from freezing solid. People slept out on the back porch on hot summer nights or swam in Copake Lake.

People rarely if ever went to see the doctor. The one black doctor was Doctor Pierce who lived on Second Street. You went to his office but sometimes he made house calls. At #433 was the midwife, Mrs. Pod, a nurse. There were the usual childhood diseases like Chickenpox, measles, mumps and sore throats. People would make homemade remedies and liniments. Columbia Memorial Hospital has been in the same place since the 1930s, but has been enlarged. There were no nursing homes back then, just a private one on Union Street: the Old Folks Home near the Elks Club.

Funerals were no different than they are today, although weddings were not lavish like they are today. In the 1930s people just got married without the fuss. For family fun they would have clambakes, picnics, and games for both children and for adults. No TV or radios in the 1930s. Church and dances were the way people socialized. In Craryville there was the Harlem Inn.

To light a street lamp, you needed to climb up it. Electricity back then was less expensive, not like today. There was a black taxi at the railroad station.

The Fourth Street School, which many Blacks attended, was integrated. Even so, there were few interracial relationships, and lots of prejudice. No blacks were allowed at the old bowling alley, Mahdi’s. Saloons were only for whites.

Interviewer Bio:

Grace Schwartzman

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