Audio Recording "Originally, Paterson, New Jersey was Paterson, New Jersey."

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About this Item

"Originally, Paterson, New Jersey was Paterson, New Jersey."
Contributor Names
McDowell, Rev. Louis (Narrator)
Levitas, Susan, 1961- (Interviewer)
Created / Published
Subject Headings
-  African Americans
-  Child labor--New Jersey
-  Oral history
-  Interviews
-  Sound recordings
-  Work processes
-  Shoe shiners
-  McDowell's Barber Shop (Paterson, N.J.)
-  Ethnography
-  United States -- New Jersey -- Paterson
-  Interview with Reverend Louis McDowell, owner, McDowell's Barber Shop.
-  Summary of audio segment: "Originally Paterson, New Jersey was Paterson, New Jersey." From the 1930s to the 1950s it was really good. For shoe shining, we made a box and it would have a footing on the top, size nine. We'd go to a leather store and buy polish and a cleanser and the paste and we'd leave our home and go right down on the main street, "Shine mister? Shine mister? Shine mister?" We would pop the rag and make it shine like mad. A shine was 5 cents, then it went up to 10 cents. You'd be careful not to get polish on the sides of shoes. Shoe shine boys were all around. We'd never tell each other the truth about what we made. We used to go home with at least 8 ot 9 dollars on a Saturday. Went after school to do it, after finishing chores. Your parents could use the money; everybody helped out. (Boy comes in who he had given food to, to get more food for his family) Used to be signs in the saloons that said, "No Bootblacks;" an Italian friend of mine and I once raced to a saloon and we both stood there and my friend went up to a drunk and said, "Shine mister?" and the guy said, "You don't call me Shine!" and stepped on his foot. We laughed about that even after we were grown; all the bars would let you in if you were decent.
Digital Audio Tape
Call Number/Physical Location
AFC 1995/028: WIP-SL-A022
Source Collection
Working in Paterson Project Collection (AFC 1995/028)
American Folklife Center
Digital Id
Online Format

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Credit line

Working in Paterson Project collection, 1993-2002 (AFC 1995/028), American Folklife Center, Library of Congress

Cite This Item

Citations are generated automatically from bibliographic data as a convenience, and may not be complete or accurate.

Chicago citation style:

Mcdowell, Rev. Louis, and Susan Levitas. "Originally, Paterson, New Jersey was Paterson, New Jersey.". -08-30, 1994. Audio.

APA citation style:

McDowell, R. L. & Levitas, S. (1994) "Originally, Paterson, New Jersey was Paterson, New Jersey.". -08-30. [Audio] Retrieved from the Library of Congress,

MLA citation style:

Mcdowell, Rev. Louis, and Susan Levitas. "Originally, Paterson, New Jersey was Paterson, New Jersey.". -08-30, 1994. Audio. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <>.