VOICES OF KENT
William Lee Oral History

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Record 10/16
Copyright HSKC and Tyler Campbell
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Collection ORAL HISTORY
Date 01/04/1983
Abstract William Lee (born 1904)

William Lee came to Kent County in 1913 from Baltimore, where his father operated a laundry on Fayette Street; he lived in an orphanage in Howard County for a time. His father was Chinese and his mother African-American born in Richmond. Lee lived on Eastern Neck Farm from 1913 to 1925 and worked doing farm and general labor, construction, and as a hunting guide. The black community in the Rock Hall area was centered in Sharptown. In 1927, Lee remembers, "Rosenwald helped to build the school." Sears executive Julius Rosenwald helped to fund the construction of some 5,000 black schools nationwide which became social as well as educational gathering places.

In the 1920s, Lee bought his first car for $150, a Model T Ford. "I was thrifty….When I was 18, I was the first single colored man around here to have a car." I made the car pay for itself. I would take people from here to church….They would pay me for the ride…That's the way I paid for my first car." He taught himself to drive when he was 16 by "borrowing" his employer John Brice's car without permission. Lee found employment delivering produce and seafood for farmers, the cannery and packing houses in the 1930s and 1940s. He also worked as a gunning guide on Eastern Neck and at the lumber yard in Rock Hall for nearly 20 years. "I've never been out of work because I would take a job if it paid less, I would never turn down and I wasn't 'choice-y' about anything." Nearly 80 years old at the time of his interview, Lee reflected, "I don't have any complaints…..I look back at what I have come through and I know what I'm doing now and I have no complaints at all."

Brief index. 4 original cassettes.
Interview date 01/04/1983
Media Compact Disc
Narrator Lee, William
Object ID 2666
Object Name Disc, Compact
Title William Lee Oral History
COPYRIGHT INFORMATION ~ Oral histories copyright Historical Society of Kent County. Images copyright Tyler Campbell. Duplication or publication only with permission.

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Last modified on: September 07, 2012