Kathy LawsKathy Laws:
Full Interview

Recorded 3/05. Please be patient as media loads.

Cheryl: Alright do you want to start?

Kathy: Alright.

Jonah: So tell us about yourself.

Kathy: Ok, my name is Kathryn Laws.

Jonah: Ok.

Kathy: L-A-W-S, I was born in Indianapolis Indiana in 1938, to a very loving mother, to loving grandparents, a very loving Aunt who I was named after, Aunt Katherine, and my sister Gwendolyn. My father was not in the picture. But at four, I was tinkering around with the piano, and they found out that I had this talent. So I began piano lessons at four in a half. At five I started playing the violin; this was before school, before I started school. I also found out I had a gift for violin, so my Saturdays consisted of piano lessons, violin lessons, and the dentist.

Kathy’s aunt Katherine.
Every Saturday I can remember until I started school, and during school they used to put us on the bus and we would ride across town, my grandmother would meet us, and we would get an ice cream cone, which cost I think four cents then, double dip was six cents. And we would walk to my grandmothers at which time I would go to the oldest women I have ever known, she had to have been 150, she was my piano teacher. She saw some kind of excellence and I heard a piece called Glow Worm, and I said to her, “I’m going to play that song one day,” and she said “you certainly will.” So my life surrounded by classical music, and a lot of practicing, I loved marbles, I loved riding bikes, but my childhood was practicing. I loved to practice. My sister, by the time, I suppose, we were in 5th or 6th grade, a teacher made a remark to me, “why don’t you help your sister, she’s so dumb,” and I said, my sister can sing. And she went up to sing and opened up a whole new world, she had the most glorious voice, untrained. So then our life became Sunday afternoons we would go to churches and they used to have teas back at the time, and every Sunday we would go to church and then we would come home, get dressed up in these pompadour hairstyles and these frilly clothes, and we would go off to somebody’s church. And we would sing, and I would play for her, so for many years I was an accompanist to her. When we were around twelve, I suppose my aunt Kathryn and Uncle Hayden, who were in possession of these Duke Ellington pictures wrote that they had moved to Philadelphia, and they wrote to my mom and asked her if we could come to Philadelphia, just for a few weeks.
I heard a piece called Glow Worm, and I said to her, “I’m going to play that song one day,” and she said “you certainly will.”
So we just thought we were too grown, we caught the train and back then they had Pullman poters and we were drinking postal like we were grown, thinking we had coffee and that stuff. We came to Philadelphia and the purpose was my Aunt and Uncle wanted to take us to New York to play for Sarah Vaughn and Eleanor Jackett. Now Eleanor Jackett is a very, very famous Saxophone player, Sarah Vaughn was the queen of jazz, she was, she was the greatest probably during that era, Sarah Vaughn. And we went to New York and we played, and we sang for them, and I remember Eleanor Jackett said, “send them to Philadelphia, the East Coast is the place to study.” My mother worked for the government, we went back home, and in weeks it looked like my mother had brought us to Philadelphia so I could further my music career. We got to Philadelphia and I had to go down and audition at Settlement music school, which was at 3rd and Mellon, somewhere around there, yeah 3rd and Mellon around South Philadelphia. And I ended up with a teacher, name of Eickleberger, who was first violinist in the Budapest String Quartet.

Jonah: What school was this?

Kathryn: Settlement.

Cheryl: And it was on 3rd and Mellon.

Kathryn: 3rd and Mellon, yeah around there, 3rd and Christian, 3rd and Mellon. And now I’m in Philadelphia and I’m 13, and I’m looking at boys, and I’m looking at high school. And in Indiana you start high school in the 10th grade; in Philadelphia you start high school in the 9th grade. So when I came to Philadelphia they put me back a year, to the 9th grade, which upset me very bad, because I was supposed to go in the 10th grade. In Indianapolis, everything is basketball, basketball, basketball, so I had a very good young life. We would go to the basketball games. I went to a school that was all black, and this is very important because Chrisman Haddox High School, all the teachers has their masters and probably 90% of them were working on their doctorate, we’re talking about black educators in the 30’s, well 40’s by then, you know, when I started school. It’s left an extreme impression on me, because we were taught not only the 3 R’s, reading, ’riting and ’rithmatic, we also had to read Polance Dunbar, and we had to learn black dialect, are you familiar with black dialect at all?

All: No.

Cheryl: I’ve studied a little bit of it in a linguistics class.

Kathy: Well black dialogue is like “lias splis, bliss de low, don’t you know the day abroad, if you don’t get up you scamp, there gonna be trouble in this camp”. Polance Dunbar was famous for black dialect, uh, that ties in with something I did later on in my life, southern people have a certain drawl, a certain way they speak, where as they may say lawd have murcis, if you were to translate that, it would be lord, mercy is m-e-r-c-y. “Lawd have Maercy is l-a-w-d, murcis is m-u-r-c-i-s. Once you’re taught that as a child, you never forget it, certainly we weren’t allowed to speak in black dialect, my grandmother being a school teacher, my mother being very elite, but it’s a very important past of our education, and that has just been lost. These children have no idea, what, what they’re talking about, when it comes to black dialect. Many years later I was at Temple, to teach an inter-generational class, and this one as a matter of fact, we brought up, um, this black dialect because these were older women who came from the South, who spoke, now this is just they way they speak all the time. So the students would go, “Kathryn, what is she saying?” And I’m saying “lawd have murcis,” cause they had to type out what we were saying. So they were just totally lost, they had no clue how to spell any of this.

Kathy speaks about Germantown High
Well, anyway, back to...back to school, we came here, we went to Germantown High School. Again I went to high school in ’53, 1953 by the time we hit Germantown High School. I was extremely active with my violin and piano, everybody I dated had to be into music, every place I went was designed around the academy of music. Which had an amphitheater at that time and you walked up steps forever,

Jonah: Why did everything have to be around music?

Kathryn: Because that’s the only world I knew, I had no interest in guys who weren’t interested in music.

Jonah: Was that because of yourself; was that because of your mother?

Kathryn: That was because of... my choice...it was my choice... I just enjoyed being around musicians, you know we spoke the same language.
But deep inside my soul, you see you have to understand when you were born back in the 40’s, late 30’s, if you were fair skinned and have, quote, what they call good hair, and you played classical violin or piano, you were kinda the misfit, alright, and I remember this distinctly one morning getting ready for school and the girls I hung around with were the same, thy were of light skin and had the long hair, and so we were known as the Sididity’s, we were known as the five hundreds, and it caused for the first time in my life some inter-turmoil, because I knew that I wasn’t a black woman, I knew that.

Kathy at Germantown High School.
But I fought those inner-urgings for so long, until James Brown came out with “I’m Black and I’m Proud,” And I went I am in trouble now, because then very dark skin black, and the afro’s in the 60’s it come out, and all. And I went through a lot of trauma with that, because I think that’s the first time I experiences racism, among black people, among people of the light hue who would lean toward me before they would lean toward a darker skinned person. It’s very easy for us to hug each other, there’s no, it’s insane, but it’s life, it’s the way things are. So I went in search of who I was when I was around 16 I guess, and I took my violin and I got this what they call a project stroll, and I flipped my violin under my arm, and now I was walking very hip into my home, and my mother said what is wrong with your arms and your legs, and I said I just want to be apart of everything else that was happening is school.

Kathy’s early career.
I became concert mistress of Germantown High School, which was a big deal back then, because there were only I think two blacks in the orchestra, and then here I come and they made me concert mistress. Upon graduating from high school, they asked me what I was gonna play, and I said the “hot canary,” which is a very upbeat fiddle piece, uppla da datta datta da dupdum, and as an artists, my mother decided I was gonna wear this yellow dress, and I looked exactly like a bird, and a friend of mine, and artist friend of mine, painted this picture, unbeknownst to me, of this canary, so out on stage I walk in a yellow dress, with this bird, it was huge, and the whole school fell out laughing. He drew this picture of the canary, and I’m playing, I didn’t know they did it, they slid behind me and put this huge poster, and I’m up in this yellow dress looking like big bird on sesame street anyway, but it broke the ice for me, it broke the ice, I think they saw me as a real live human being who likes to have a lot of fun, you know, and then the partying started. You know all of sudden it was like overnight, you know I was the sensation of Germantown, and I don’t say that braggadociously [sic], I don’t.

Kathy playing The Hot Canary.
But all the dates started coming’, you know, so now I’ve got a choice to go on boat rides through Philadelphia, now this is where the jazz comes in. My sister was going with a young man named Komar Duncan, Komar Duncan is probably the genius of the keyboard. Not only in this city, but he’s probably the best I’ve... I’ve ever heard. He is just gifted. She started going with Komar, Komar was in a group called the Four Runners, now these folks are still around, Odine Pope, it was Jimmy Marrott on bass, Komar was on keyboard, Aderly was on sax, they were the Thelonious Monks of the time. They were playing such way out jazz. And there was a place called Peps, which is at Broad and South, across the street there was a place called Blue Note, there was also a place called Showboat, and

Kathy describes a past Philadelphia
though we weren’t old enough, and we would put on our little black dresses, and nobody smokes, and nobody drank, we would go down, and we would hear the likes of Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn, The Ink Spots, anybody who came into Philadelphia went to Peps...to Showboat. Then they would wander out to 52nd Street, where they had between Market and Walnut, maybe Locust, were just a string of nightclubs. At 2 o’clock nightclubs closed. I started dating a classical trombonist, named Clarence Watson, and he asked me if we could get married. And I was 18, and in love, and he was certainly a musician, and I was a musician, and he put a ring on my finger. I went to work after high school at Bell Telephone, and he called me one night from California, because by that time, he was playing with Lionel Hampton, a xylophone player, he was playing with Harry Belafonte, and he got out there, and I guess the nightlife was brand new to him. So he called me on the switchboard at Bell Telephone, and says I don’t want to be engaged anymore. That’s my first heartbreak of my life, although I had broken a few hearts on the way, but that’s the first time anybody hurt me. So I said, ok, I’m not engaged anymore.

Cheryl: Did you ever hear from him again?

Kathryn: Oh sure, sure, I certainly did. And about a year later I was due to go to college in September, when I graduate Germantown they gave me the option of two places, Mississippi State, or Julliard. I knew I was not taking my Afro-American self to Mississippi, I knew that. And I said well, you know, I toured around Julliard, and went and they give you a week to look over the school and after two days I knew that was not for me. It was stringent, it was just back then I think even now, Julliard is just a pressure on a young person, and that is, well it jut wasn’t for Kathy, I’ll put it that way, I knew I was not going to fit in there, and by that time I had done enough research to know where we stood as Afro-Americans in the classical sense. There was Marion Anderson, there were very few if any violinist who had really made it in this country, um, we had Paul Robeson, there was a singer who also went to Russia because they booted him out of the United States because he was a communist, but brilliant voice, brilliant man. And I looked at that whole total picture, and I said where am I going with this and up popped this man who was ten years older than me, absolutely gorgeous, and we got married. Now I’m playing with Philadelphia Pops Orchestra, I’m playing with Chestnut Hill Symphony Orchestra, I’m playing around the city for weddings, and I had my first child, my daughter, my heart. And shortly after I got marries, my husband informed me that he did not like classical music, he never did, he would never carry my violin to another concert, and this was two times I’m hurt. I could not believe this man who had carried my violin before I got married, so I settled into staying home.
“I took the book back, and it was like me taking Latin and somebody saying ‘decipher this,’ I didn’t know more what delete, execute, you know, what...? what..? But I said ‘I’ll be ding-dang, if they can do it, I can do it.’”
I was an at home mother, I stayed home with my children until, my marriage was going pretty rough, but I stayed home with my children until my son started school. In 1964 I went to business school, and I graduated business school, and only because my hand were faster from the piano and violin, I was typing 140 words a minute, which is very unusual on a manual typewriter. But my hands were just unbelievably fast. And I decided then that I had to make a living for my children, and I went to work for the Federal Government. In ’64 they thought I had cancer of the pancreas, and they gave me five years to live. And I remember lying there, I went in on Christmas and I did not come out of the hospital until Easter, I had a very serious surgery, it’s called Whipple surgery, you don’t survive Whipple surgery more than five years. Something happens to very old people, where everything falls a part, now I’m not smoking, I’m not drinking, I’m just being a good girl and a nice little mommy, and you know. But anyway, to make a long story short, I went to business school and I graduated, came out top of the class, and the Rotary Club had run a contest, and I wrote a piece called, “Out Link with Life, our Fellow Man,” and it’s the first conscious piece of writing I ever did. But it was so natural, I just whipped around my typewriter, the Rotary Club is two lengths intertwined, and I just wrote this piece, “Our Link with Life, Our Fellow Man,” and anyway it won the Rotary Club Award, and they gave me a little gold pin, you know. And my daughter had asthma, which stopped me from going back to college; I started working for the government. Ok let’s jump up now, she was born in ’59, by ’72 her asthma was very iffy, and I decided to go to a temp agency to work, because I knew it would give me the freedom to, you know, take off if I had to with her. And I went in, and they asked me if I would go to IBM, and they were playing $17 an hour at the time, and in 1972 that was very good money. And I went to IBM, and when I walked in, and she said, um, I understand you’re an MTSD specialist, and I spoke to the machine, like you know, what do you do, I’ve never seen this machine before. She took me in the back, and she said, Kathryn, we don’t have any Afro-Americans at IBM working MTSD machine, you take this book, you go in the back, and you come out in an hour, because we want you here. I took the book back, and it was like me taking Latin and somebody saying decipher this, I didn’t know more what delete, execute, you know, what...? what..? But I said I’ll be ding-dang, if they can do it, I can do it. I came out, I ended up, I was the longest term temp IBM they ever had. I was there two-and-a-half years, and I was MTSD standard like mad by the time I left. By that time computers had come in, though I started becoming a Professional floater, I went to Sonoco, and all of these different companies had different kinds of, you know, equipment they were putting in. And I did that, I did that for many years, I liked it, it was a people thing. You have to go in very prepared, you know you have to go in very assured of yourself. Now my sister’s still married to Komar, he ‘s very much into jazz, so I was still going out to Pep’s and Showboat, and Lawnside, there’s a place in Lawnside called Thereta’s High Hat, she would bring in the greats.

Recalling jazz greats.
Now we go into the Duke Ellington era, my uncle Hayden, his name is Hayden Hibbitt, was manager of a place called The Earl Theater, The Earl Theater was on Broad Street. I suppose I was 14...15, we had just come to Philadelphia. And I would hear tell, my aunt, who was my absolute best friend in the world, she would tell me how Duke would come over, you know, and what they ate. The Ink Spots had been over, and she was not at all a hearty person, this was just their lifestyle, because there were no after hour places in Philadelphia. So after Duke, or you know any of them would come in town...

Kathryn: .... And would jam at my aunt and uncle’s house. But you just take a lot of that for granted when you are young. But when you get into jazz and I realized that I had been around all these great, great musicians, Miles Davis, Ellington. Davis asked my brother in law to go on the road with him, but my brother in law did not leave his wife. I said he is nuts, Miles Davis asks you to go, but he is still here in Philadelphia, he is still playing. Genius.
Lets jump past raising kids, past IBM, now my children are probably 6-7 years old, and I got very interested in children and senior citizens and I started teaching piano and violin lessons from home which enable me to stay home I’m jumping around but this is before IBM. I was teaching at home before I was recovering and I knew that from that day this was my calling, you know with children, and I got very involved with a lot of organizations, Special Olympics, you name it we did it.

Kathy on the Dell.
There is place called the Robin Hood Philadelphia which is on 33rd and Ridge and anyone and anybody came and sang. It is an outdoor amphitheater which has acoustically the best sound because it is down in Fairmount Park. Have you ever been there?

Everyone: No.

Kathryn: Down in Fairmount Park, they have concerts all summer. So I would get off work, we would go with a couple of friends to the Dell. It could be the Philadelphia Orchestra, Earth Wind or Fire, it could be, they just had a full agenda for the summer. They had James Brown, Ray Charles, Ray Charles sang America the Beautiful on the 4th of July at the Dell. It was the first time he ever did that famous version of America the Beautiful. After that, the Mann music center opened up. That is at 52nd and Parkside. When the city put up the Mann music center, the Robin Hood Dell had bleachers, no seats. You could bring your lunch, dinner, chicken whatever. When the Mann music center opened, it was specifically for the Philadelphia orchestra, the very elite, the very classical and the Robin Hood Dell became the venue for most of the black artists that came in town.
Now here I am, 40 by now, and I’m going to the Mann music center cause that is still where my love is, and I’m going to do the Robin Hood Dell, because I got kids who want to go see James Brown and by that time I like James Brown and went from there to an extremely full life. You know that song that says, “Traveled to each and every highway”; you know I’ve been very blessed. Because I’ve become very involved with the Historical society, and I became very involved with the Philadelphia horticulture society where we go judge gardens all over the city for the flower show. I got back into my music and I always had an itch to play gospel music, always. Something deep in my soul just always wanted to play gospel music. Didn’t know how, had no clue, but a church called one Saturday night and asked me if I could come play with them, they were stuck. And I’m going, “Why not, got to try everything once.” I go in this huge church and I hit two keys, G and a C, that’s it, and the church just started clapping and praising the lord, and I’m going, “It’s this easy?” Kathryn: And I played, well that sparked my interest for gospel music,

Kathy speaks about her aunt.
now mind you I’m still not playing jazz. I left that to Komar and his friends so we just all, now I have a home, and they would come back to my house and hang out. Now this is when my aunt Catherine would start telling me stories of them coming back to you know her house, what they would do, and what they would eat, and how long they would stay, you know sleep on the floor. When she passed away, she had a box of pictures and I’m sure I have at least three hundred records that have never been taken out of the jackets. Lot of investment there, but when they would leave, they would leave behind a lot of records. We are talking Sam Cook, we are talking Nat King Cole I think everything he ever sang. And when she passed away, I inherited all these records. I desperately need someone from the University of Pennsylvania to take all these records and put them onto the computer, and them I’m going to see what I can do with these records, because they are extremely valuable records. The same with the pictures, those pictures are extremely valuable pictures because there aren’t too many laid back pictures of these musicians, you know, where they are chilling out, and um, but I have all these records upstairs. They have never been taken out. My aunt just put them away. They are not scratched, I mean my aunt never put a needle on them. So I have those upstairs. Now, its pushing into the eighties. I’m getting older, feeling empty, both my children are gone to make their way in the world, and I decided I was going to get involved in my music again. I picked up my violin and I started playing for weddings, renewal of the vows, and all this stuff. Now, I went to a concert at Brightal Baptist Church. There is a young man that you folks will be hearing about, his name is Donald Dumpson. The other man is Otis Joseph, very young, brilliant musicians, and he wanted to get 300 voices from Philadelphia, from all venues, different denominations, because he wanted to put on a concert called Welcome American at the Mann Music Center. Well this was unheard of, to have 300 Afro-Americans on stage at the Mann Music Center. We did it in four rehearsals. The first year was Shirley Caesar, world renowned Gospel Singer. The second year was Ethel, the second year was Fred Hammon. The third year was Dorothy Norwood. Now these are very modern, up to date, gospel singers, so we would do the concerts. I moved in this building and found the need for a choir here, so we started a choir here, and I became blessed, found a refuge in starting a senior citizen choir. We had such a good time. None of them were professional singers, but there was a unity that we created with the choir that was just, we were like family, and then one, one day, Ethel walked in with her sister, and when she opened her mouth, we had the singer we needed. Now I sing, I harmonize well, but I am not a singer, I’m good with groups, I sing tenor base.

Kathryn: Prior to that, and that is probably the end of my story at this point.

Remembering Phyllis Hyman.
I was concierge at a hotel called The Embassy Suites. Again I was thrown into jazz because of the artists who came to the hotel and because I was very aware of what was happening in the city, it came in very handy. You had a question on there about Phyllis Hyman. Phyllis Hyman came into the hotel one night, and I did not know who she was, and when she came in I got up and checked her in. I asked for her last name, she said Hyman, I asked for her first name, she said Phyllis, and I’m just typing, not paying her any attention, and one of the desk clerks is nudging me like he was insane, “Don’t you know who that is?” I said, “No.” She left and you are asking me how we became, we did become what you would call “fast friends” I don’t believe in what you would call “fast friends,” I think friends have to be cultivated as love has to be cultivated over a period of time, but she checked in, she went to study, but somehow that night, she wrote this picture to me that said, “To Katherine, from Phyllis.” But along with that there was a letter that, she literally poured out her soul to me and saying that nobody ever treated her like a normal being in so long. But George Foreman had been there, he was just another normal guy to me. Sosa the heavyweight champion came by. We would just hang out, it was just what we did, it was part of my job, but I loved that job. I was no longer on the 32nd floor of IBM with no windows, with computers and all this nonsense. And, Phyllis Hyman and I spoke the next day for at least and hour or more.

Phyllis Hyman.
Probably the day after that for two hours, and she poured out her inner soul, she really did. The last thing she said to me, “When it is all over. You more than anyone else will know the inside of a genius who never made it.” Two weeks later, she committed suicide and I had never had anything shock me like that in my life. She was very upbeat, she was gorgeous, but I guess she hadn’t found her niche. I mean, she found it, but the world hadn’t found her. So, that kind of threw me for a loop, because when you had just been with someone and you have talked to them, and though she talked really deep into her life, it was just shattering to me. But, you know, I stayed as concierge until I woke up one morning and I was paralyzed. And, then came the, I was 58 years old, then came the you have spinal cyanosis, and diabetes, and high blood pressure, you could never work again. You can never work again, and that was a death sentence to me, that was just like a death sentence to me. And I said, okay, what am I going to do now. The twins are at University of Penn, still very upbeat with them. They have started a gospel choir over at Penn, so I am still very involved with this, you know. There are days now when I can’t stand up straight, I can’t walk, my hands have gotten totally crippled with arthritis and I just again reevaluated my life and said if I could just pick up chopsticks I will be grateful. You know when to lose that, and that is all you do, type and play, so be it. You know, there a lot of stories in this city, in my life, that are enlightening. I have hopefully been a mentor to a lot of children.

Kathryn: A 100 children in the church choir, called the ***** Covenant, which has been a blessing. Um, I see them now and they be, be your age now. They were five and now to see them and they got their children with them, so I have been very, very blessed. I give everything to a mother, who saw, she had a vision, she never pushed me, but she took her change a restaurant she worked in a night. Now, she had a good day job, but she would work at this restaurant at night and she would put her tips, now mind you, if she got five cents that was a pretty big tip back then, she would put the tips in a jar. Every Saturday she would open this jar, and she would give us the change in there, and this is how we would pay for the piano and violin lessons. So when I started teaching, I said I will never teach for more than $1.25, but what did I know about influence. People said I was nuts, but that is what my mother did and that is what I would do. Well I did that, I did that for a long time, until I realized you can’t sell yourself too cheap. People don’t respect you, if they realized it is too cheap. People don’t respect free things, but my intention was to take a family of five kids, and I never wanted any of them to say, “You got piano lessons and I couldn’t get them because mommy could only afford to give one of us lessons.” I would take in a whole family, and teach them for like 10 dollars. And it was very rewarding, deep inside. Now, I am into my writing, as Ethel knows, I have several things published. I think that it is a gift that came later, I love it, I write on my computer. I have writer’s block sometimes, but I have written some things that I am very, very proud of. I did PR for World Book and so that pretty much brings me up to today. We dismantled the choir that was here but we are going to put it back together, lot of people have gotten very ill, and I rabble on knockin’ off. Anything that you want to ask me on there, that you haven’t covered?

Cheryl: Well, this choir that you started working at, how did you guys start working, what venues did you perform at?

Kathryn: What, the children’s’ choir?

Cheryl: Or any of them, actually.

Kathryn: Well the children’s choir was at New Covenant, which has membership of 3000. And we started off interestingly enough, kids want to play jam music. And I know my experience has been, praise the lord, embrace the hymns that have gotten me through my life. My son was killed at 34, it was the hymns that got to me through. With the choir at University Square, it was the hymns that got us through the rough times. You know its okay to *****************, I do not believe for rapping for Jesus, but we did a lot of upbeat stuff. Dem bones, dem bones, dem old bones, we did all that. I was determined to have these children learn gospel, to learn this because they need that, they need that sort of quiet soul, peaceful, music. There is so much rap out there now, so much gangsta rap, so I think all children should be exposed too... I don’t like it when I walk out with my violin and a child says, “OOH, she’s got a gun.” That’s tragic, that’s tragic... and she really thought I did have a gun. To see a child that had never seen a flower, so I got involved with the Horticulture society. So we could grow flowers and they could see this kind of thing. With New Covenant, they stayed pretty much in New Covenant, that choir, because they had so many activities within that church, so they were always singing for this or that and maybe a couple of times they went out to different churches.

I don’t like it when I walk out with my violin and a child says, “OOH, she’s got a gun.” That’s tragic, that’s tragic... and she really thought I did have a gun.
Kathryn: University square choir, we have had Black history month, we did Easter, we did Friday service, we did holidays, we bought in other choirs, and in fact we had a **** come over, we had a very nice crowd down there. But, some people got ill, some people had to go to a nursing home, my back went out, and well we are going to get it back. We got some new people who have moved into the building who are good singers, well I mean, we are not scheduled for Carnegie Hall but you know, we don’t have everyone sound like Ethel, but it has been a joy, it has been quiet a pickup. I sang around Pennsylvania avenue this summer, we had a gospel fest down there that I wish you young people would get involved in. Its quiet diverse, its very easy to pick up, and don’t say you can’t sing, because when you are around 300 musicians who can pick up very easy, you pick up very easy the spirit, you know, you do get it. I sang with a, a place called ************** name was Melroy, and he had called me if I could accompany them, that is what I thought she said, and I went up to this place in god only knows what place, White Marshal, and she says to me, “Sing something”. Excuse me, I don’t sing. Meanwhile, all these people are coming in, professors of music from here, professors of music from there, all these people, and I’m ready to pump them because Alex from Texas was on vacation. She said, “You can sing sweetheart. We need you” Then again, there were only two African Americans in this group, and so I sang and she played and she said, “Welcome, we need women tenors so bad.” And I’m going, “What have I gotten myself into.” Phila music******* is extremely well known on the east coast. They sing in German, they sing in Latin, they sing in Italian, and I said if they could get this German then I could do it. I would take this music to work, my teeth would be falling out of my mouth trying to form these words, you know, if they can do it, I can get this. I sang with them for two seasons. I loved it, they loved me, and we got along just fine. But then I moved physically and it was just too far to transport back and forth. There was something Leo said the other day, “ If you could do anything, if you make up your mind, you only need a piece of talent, you don’t need all of it.” I do play very well, I’m blessed that I am able to look back on a life that is fruitful, it’s not been the most extravagant life in the world. I’m on limited income as we all are, but I stay busy. Right now, we started the chess club at Walnut Street library. We started off with 2 but now we have 18 children. And I’m involved with the children and chess. Basically that is it. My computer crashed. When it comes back up, I will be writing again.

Kathy’s jazz idols.
Jonah: So when you were growing up, who was your mentor/idol in the jazz world, who did you look too?

Kathy: In the Jazz world, Sara Vaughn, Ella Fitzgerald, and then I went way out. I liked Thelonious Monk, I liked all the people that were so far out.

Jonah: Miles Davis.

Kathy: Miles Davis, certainly. But I leaned more towards Liberace, because it is the kind of music I played....

Kathryn: He ******. It wasn’t the fact that he was flamboyant, it was just he played with such precision and I, I wanted to play things that he played and um...

When I got into the jazz world, it sounds funny but really my brother-in-law is my, I don’t like the word idol. He is the finest jazz musician and I’ve heard a lot of them from New York to... I traveled all the way across country on Amtrak just to do it. So I bumped into a lot of people along the way and out in California I ran into the venues where they have jazz, and you know open street market jazz and whatnot and I have yet to hear anybody touch Komar Duncan. He is probably the fastest genius on the keyboard.

Person: What about Duke Ellington?

Kathryn: So Hmm?

Person: Duke Ellington.

Kathryn: Well Oh yeah. You know Duke, Duke a one and only. Then the Ink Spots as far as Dukes were concerned the Ink Spots, Nat King Cole Arthur Plass, I’m talking about Billy Epstein who I’m in love with, up to modern day we’re talking about Luke Banjos I’m talking about Barry White.

Kathy on changes in jazz.
Jonah: So do you see similarities between Luke Banjos Barry White and ev-- and Duke Ellington what do you see like what are the similarities between now and back then?

Kathryn: Back then it was called free jazz it was impromptu jazz.

There is still a lot of that going on where you just get together you know you play keyboard everybody just takes their turn. [noise]

But it’s unfortunately become very commercialized jazz is not free spirited like it used to be and when you find free spirited groups they’re an oddity and they shouldn’t be because jazz is not an oddity the way gospel... I see
a drastic change in gospel for the better, in many respects because young people have more expression, uh with their gospel music but we need to, to, I’ll, I’ll use an uh uh analogy if you were to turn on Kirk Franklin. You know Kirk Franklin?

Group: No.

Kathryn: You’re stumped. He’s a gospel young, looks like he’s angry all the time look like somebody just let him out of a penitentiary And if you were to turn, but he has a gospel group called “New Nation” they’re very, very good. But If you were to turn off the sound and just watch him, he would be no different than Tupac or Busta Rhymes they all have the same movement you know grabbing their crotches and all this you know and so if you really if you did not know that this was Kirk Franklin um So that I disagree with that I don’t

Ethyl: Well he’s real good. But they’re all geared to contemporary. That’s why, that’s

the change.

Kathryn: Very seldom you hear the old good gospel Mahalia Jackson Gospel, the um

Ethyl: Martin Singers

Kathryn: Martin Singer

Ethyl: Those oldies

Kathryn: And yet our generation grew up with that inner peace there’s a certain amount of peace that comes with [noise] I think we’re winding up um

Jonah: We’ll go as long as you want to go I mean if you have more to tell us

Group: We’re listening

Kathryn: I Uh.

Jonah: You’re captivating us.

Kathryn: I uh, I realize even now with records that have come out now again I... Because of my children I have been thrown into another era so I came up also in the sixties alright because I was a very hip mom and my home was always open to their friends and if

Kathy with her children.
Michael Jackson came downtown that meant I worked an hour extra so they’d have money to go to see Michael Jackson cause by that time you need the outfit you need the whole bit. See back in the day at the amphitheatre you just put on jeans and you walked up to the top of the Academy of Music and you just listened. It was about the music

Today it’s about the labels its about Hilfiger and Sassoon and you know what you have to go along with the concert so it’s not a spontaneous thing where you the five of, of guys could just get together and say go as you are. You have to go shopping you have to get lizard shows. You gotta have something with a label on it. So that’s very sad. I find that to be very sad I’ve always said

My son came downstairs one Christmas and he had labels, he was out of school and he was working he had labels he has his care. He went sharp, sharp “Mom, Mom, you’re my best girl could you loan me ten bucks I forgot to get gas for my car?”

And I never looked up and I said “A monkey in a silk suit is still a monkey. You best to take a label back and get yourself ten dollars for you car. Because I don’t have it.” I had it

Group: [Laughter].

Kathryn: But you know it’s buy what you want and have to beg for what you need. When we grew up totally different, you know our needs were taken care of and then what we wanted you actually knew. I grew up with lines like: No responsibilities, no privileges. It was just plain and simple. You don’t take any responsibilities you had no privileges and privileges were going to Crispus Adus basketball games because he took the tournament that we won every year. You know I had a friend when she said no it didn’t mean maybe it meant no and you didn’t ask a question, you mumbled under your breath

And then she said I know what you’re thinking so you got scared to think you know what I am saying and she is 88 years old now. And she has all the oxygen in her lungs cause she didn’t waste her time repeating what she said no meant no. I do not see that with young children today. I do not see...

They call their parents by their first name they you know they hear this foul language in their home and in this past three weeks... I’m very involved in the 40th street friends and we meet about the church on the corner. I just had two boys graduate University of Penn they went through five years with no problem.

But I’m concerned about you young people. I’m concerned, a lot of you come here you don’t know Philly. You know they’re scamming, you know students “I’m hungry” you know “have you got a quarter” you know, I don’t know...

Where are you from?

Michelle: Me, I’m from Buffalo, NY.

Kathy: From where?

Michelle: Buffalo NY.

Kathy: New York.

Julie: I’m from the suburbs of Philadelphia.

Kathy: Ok.

Cheryl: From New Jersey.

Kathy: Jersey.

Jonah: Chicago

Kathy: Hey! You’re right by Indiana.

Jonah: I love Indiana, it’s like a suburb of Chicago.

Kathy: So uh I this past my, my concern now are out children. Our children are getting shot, they’re involved with drugs. There’s a lot to do with the school system it has to do with a lack of parental guidance at home. This has nothing to do with music but in a way it does because if these children can become involved in programs that aren’t particularly geared towards the finances of city hall but it’s students like you and senior citizens like me that will get involved and tutor this children...

I mentor these children I give these children some sense of guidance. Because they’re not getting it at home and they certainly can’t get it at school because of the teachers. And I’ve been around HUP for a long time, five straight years with my boys and I know that they came from a sheltered environment, they came from Hershey, so when they came here they did not know the price of an egg you know they never bought a shirt you know they, they just were oblivious to all, all of that is necessary for, for your growth mentally you know and as much as you guys do your school work um you still have to be very aware of you surroundings you know you’re talking about 18 or 19 people getting killed in one weekend in this city you know it’s not to instill fear but it’s just to get your awareness to you know what’s going on what’s causing this breakdown you know between parent-child-teacher-school you know and when I taught at Lodor’s academy, it’s a private African American school and um...they did not play, they did not play when they gave you time out there was not talking back you just got time out

I taught at Lodor’s in 80, 80-82 to [*] It’s up on Hane’s street in Germantown so that’s pretty much that I won’t... you got a question?

Cheryl: Well just one more question. Um I notice that you voice is starting to go so I don’t want you to strain it to much, um since you were mentioning talking about this breakdown in like parent-child relations I don’t know if you have see if there’s any connection with the disappearance with jazz community in Philadelphia?

Kathy: Surely oh surely.

For so many years we had no reason to leave our home. We had music there you had chess there you had checkers there you had a grandparent, you had television that uh was not flashing porno or booty strings or whatever that thing is that goes up your backside with one little string whatever they call that thing so things were more home based

Kathy speaks about passing a jazz tradition.
as far as jazz is concerned there are not that many jazz musicians who are instilling this in their children. My mother never played the piano or the violin, but she saw the need, you know, and she exposed me to it.

They become clic-ish if you have a group at Penn, it stays within Penn if you have a gospel choir at Penn it stays in within Penn and as you folks spread out to other colleges you know you take one and you take one and it’s four and then it becomes six. And then I would love to see and I know that it is not happening in Philadelphia it’s happening with us with Donald Dumpsin getting 300 people why not get 15 musicians from Penn 15 from Temple 15 from Drexel and just have a big jam you know with all the musicians the singers and just have a huge extravaganza cause you all are the voices now.

You see these young high school [*] if these students see you guys intermingling you see the schools have just become HUP does their thing Temple does their thing you know beaver does their thing and I have yet to see...

There’s plenty of room at HUP there’s plenty of room at Temple, Leocore center... That’s made a difference all these things that have shot up. Now everything is at the Leocore Center on Broad St. Temple runs that but still...

But those are the kinds, that’s the kind of intermingling that I would love to see with you all and its gone to close but the gap hasn’t be closed there are just a lot of loop holes and you guys could fill them you guys to do a lot to fill it instead of make this a private project but also incorporate thoughts from other schools you know

What’s wrong with you guys instead of trying to dig up all the old musicians there are a lot of people in here that don’t play but have a history of Philadelphia you know that you would not believe I mean...

You ok Bill? Have a history of this city and an uh places and the addresses young man here graduated with a major in German from the University of Penn, but he know every historical building when they come he’s got a brain psh like I don’t even know what I did yesterday but he’s got a he knows every historical building when it was put up when they tore it down why they tore it down, there was a landfill under this honey he is so fascinating to talk to and

Kathy on jazz clubs.
he found other people who did not play but they frequented these places all the time, they could rattle off places, the blue note earl’s fifty second street just had...

Kathryn: ...Mystery Silks. It was on 52nd street between, it was a whole slew of them between Market on the right side of the street between Market, up Walnut, up to Locust. It was just jazz after jazz after jazz. So now they are moving down to South Philadelphia, talking about Zanzibar Blue and all those places. But again that’s isolated. It’s a different crowd. But really there are no places [like before]. Natalie’s here on the corner - it’s a little dinky bar that’s right across the street. He said that the greats in there and they periodically come in town and they’ll go over there and play. But Natalie’s has been here for, oh lord, I know I’ve been in the city for 50 years... Natalie’s was around when I came. But nobody wanted to frequent 40th and Market anymore because of the drugs. You know, nobody wants to come here and have their equipment stolen out of their van. So we’re working with the police, you know the SEPTA police, and the police around here to get this corner cleaned up.
That’s pretty much it, what?

Does Kathy ever go to Natalie's or other
Jonah: So you go to Natalie’s? Do you go to any of these places anymore?

Kathryn: I don’t because I don’t drink. I don’t drink. And I honestly don’t. You don’t enjoy these jazz clubs like you used to. They either have become commercialized the few that are still in the city. It’s either got be Suzy Q’s birthday party and nobody knows Suzy. Or it’s got to be dollar beer night. You know, nobody is focusing in like back in the day, you went just to hear jazz. You didn’t care if you got a drink of water. You know, it wasn’t about selling fried chicken and sweet potato pies. You just wanted to hear the music you just wanted to hear... and you can walk in and just go up and sneak on the sets. Sets. And you can go into a set with Jay Miles and Kanabal Adley or Lionel Adley. They had no problem. But then they became unionized and you had to have the union guard get up on stage. Back in the day you didn’t need it. I mean, my brother-in-law just walked up and jammed. That’s what they called it. Jammed with Miles and Thelonious Monk and Art Tatum. You know you can do that anymore. It’s unfortunate, but again that’s got a lot to do with the difference and jazz,
with jazz and gospel. The correlation between jazz and gospel will always be the same. And actually jazz is more structured music. People who say that gospel was the beginning of it all. To be a musician, you going into basic chords. With basic chords you can change a gospel song into a jazz chord, just by the beat, you know what I mean. Just by the beat of it, by how you play it.

Kathy speaks about young musicians.
But these young people I have to give them credit. These young people are really, really playing some serious gospel music. Serious gospel music and the young jazz musicians. I think Gwen Marcellus has had a lot to do with influencing young people getting back into, especially wind instruments. And Gio Donni, young Italian boy from here, tears up a piano. He sparked interest. It’s like Tiger Woods with golf. And everybody wanted to play golf. So you know we still have those people who are forerunners. People are emulating and trying to, but it’s a rough business to try to get into now for them. You know, I look back and if I had had... I can’t say if I had but yeah, I don’t really know where I would have been if I had not gotten married. I mean that just cut mine right there for a period of five or six years, I was home raising my kids. And I look back on where I’ve been, and I can honestly say nowhere. Nowhere. You know I don’t care how good you are. There are still parts of society that are still going to restrict you know, how far you go, where you go, or you know, that’s another sad part.

Jonah: I was going to get you some water.

Kathryn: The thing’s not on? [points to camera]

Jonah: Yeah it’s on.

Kathryn: [offers juice to Jonah] Want some?

Jonah: No, no thank you.

Kathryn: [to the camera] Want some? It’s Crystal Light.

Jonah: Probably doesn’t have any alcohol in it.

Kathryn: No...

Kathy introduces a poem she wrote.
So... So... I, I would like to share this with you guys [takes out poem] it’s my.. if I were to sum my philosophy. Remember I told you I played for a funeral of this eight-year-old child that got killed in a drive-by. Well, I was working at PECO at the time and this young man who had never done drugs, didn’t smoke, nothing. But I had to play for this funeral after work, this child was eight years old and I played for all kinds of funerals. But I do not, I do not like playing for little kids’ funerals. That just most tears me up. But I knew I left work I had to clear my head. And I whipped around to the typewriter. And I wrote this poem and he was standing behind me. His name was John Harley. He was a young man, he was standing, he said, “I don’t believe that’s coming out of your typewriter. I don’t believe that’s coming out your head.” He went home and he drew this picture. [points to drawing] Now here’s a young man who’s never done drugs. He starts out as a little boy, you got it, ok? And it’s the whole series of this life. He goes all the way up to the cocaine, to the bottle, to the sniffing, down here on the original which I have upstairs, it says 666 on it, which means death, and he returns as a little boy crying to his mother. Is that a powerful? The picture is powerful. When I came into work the next day, he gave me this drawing. He had stayed up all night it had done. It is a very profound picture of what happens to you in life when you get hooked up on drugs. But I wrote this poem because this, uhh... my Nana would open her mouth to speak and you would just listen to every word she said. And we were talking about, remember I told we were talking about what’s wrong with today’s kids. And so I wrote this. And eventually it ended up the Poolch School system as a rap. I wrote it as a serious poem. But the children are rapping in school now. It says, read it with me [reads poem]

Kathy reads her poem.
Our children are dying at a frightening rate - Can we stop this madness or is it too late?

This white powdery substance sending our children to dust - whether it’s 6 feet under or slaves to the lust of .... ‘feeling’ so high that they can’t get enough, while inside so weak - appear outwardly tough.

I’ve seen many on it - I’ve asked how it feels? They say, heh, just you try it - the feelings unreal. So I wrote this poem - and it could be for you. One child may live - that’s up to you too. Cocaine - the Big Lie - will cause you to die. If you don’t, you wish it - even when you’re not high

You see “caine” is a killer of minds and hearts. You don’t give a damn once you think you can start and the ‘Stop’ oh not now - it has got you and gone; so please if you’re on it - it’s strong - it’s wrong.

It’s not going to be easy - your life is a mess. One day you ‘on’ the next day ‘at your best’ but your best is not good enough if just for one day - because cocaine and these drugs just don’t work out that way.

Admit that you’re hurting, and then you can say - I’m not touching Cocaine - Not For Today. In the back of your mind it has taken your heard, and your soul and your spirit seem to die once you start. Making up your mind that to live clean is tough - but trying to survive on these drugs is too much.

I can’t do it for you - tho’ I wish that I could, but thing of that dead child - I pray that you would. For I saw him lying there - his life at an end - some guys just killed they know of friends. We can take hold of the dealers, the drugs. We can protect the old who get mugged. We can do something about those who stay high - stop walking around shaking our heads - asking Why??

Is there no longer need to ask - “Where have you been?” are we so afraid that they will tell us in shock we will bend to those awful desires that they think are so real, that cocaine seems the answer so they lie - steal - then kill?

Mom’s gone to work, and Dad’s on the roam - what is the use for our child to stay home,

Or... if both folks are home and everything seems right, do we stop to ask what they think late in the night - or early the next day - up, out and gone - knowing full well that our child won’t do wrong...

Are they wondering just what it’s like to get high but - so afraid what will happen if they are caught in a lie - that they stay up at night, some trying heard to pray, but light comes again and each one goes his way. Dad off to work, and Mom off to shop. Kids off to school just to learn how to ‘cop’.

Teachers trying hard just to impart ABC’s - knowing full well to expect the DT’s.

There use to be 3R’s - Reading ‘Riting ‘Rithmetic. Today there are 9 and I’ll list them real quick:

There’s Reading, Riting and still, Rithmetic, Responsibility, Respect and Reason still stick - but ..., when Riot and Ruin and then in comes Rot.



It kind of sums up what I see you know, like I said, I work with a lot children, if we don’t clean this part of this up, you know we’re just, we’re out of luck. [shows more pictures] there’s a choir, there are my babies. Here’s the choir here.

Cheryl: Is this the children’s choir?

Kathryn: Yeah it’s the children’s choir. [I can’t understand here] Every year, we do a George Foreman down at the hotel...This is the choir that I sang in, there I am over there, clapping, like this holy... this is when I was concierge at the Embassy Suites. This was a concert, you know, I told what we did for a renewing of the vows and I tripped going down the red carpet. Yeah, this is part of the children’s choir. Children’s play... this is the choir here [points to picture of choir at 3901 Market]. She has a voice on her too. This is great because she speaks Chinese, ‘cause she has a voice on her that you would not believe. This is Otis Joseph, the young man I told you, with Donald Dumpson. That’s Melba Moore. She [is]- world-famous, everyone in the world knows her and she’s still around.... This is a class I taught at Temple with the young students. And [can’t understand] but oh, and that was an infamous fall down. This guy was from Africa. He was here for the Melba Moore concert. That was the last thing that I’ve done, that was September of last year. ... That was when I graduated high school. Haven’t times changed? This was this idiotic yellow bird that I had to live down for the rest of my life. That was the funniest thing you have ever seen in your life. This was a class I met back in the library, summer school. This was Cosby at the Special Olympics. There’s a story that says Irvine Auditorium. Boxes of pictures I have. This was Temple. We were cool, we had a good time at that. that was cool. But uh... that’s it! So talk to me. Tell me something now

Jonah: What was your favorite picture out everything that you gave us before? Now? The Duke Ellington?

Kathy’s photo of Duke Ellington.
Kathryn: Oh yeah, oh yeah. Duke Ellington pictures, and a picture I have after my aunt gave me that’s the first piano I got when I first came to Philadelphia. And I have a picture of the piano, with my old modern day stuff. Two vases on it, you know, hanging stuff. But that picture probably meaning, meaning, -- you mean pictures of jazz greats?

Jonah: Well, just pictures of moments. Like one of the things that I was thinking of, like what was, you know, like that one moment, that one moment of jazz, that one moment that you can say, you think back on and say, hey that was something that you know, that something that I will always forever remember.

Kathryn: I’ve had so many, I have to tell you I’ve had so many. I remember Johnny Mathis was at Valley Forge Music Center...

Kathryn: He is so cool. I think with Shirley Caesar, after I had conquered this cancer, she came out with this song called “Its your time for a miracle” and I had just moved in here and truly it was so...I have so many experiences like that. To sing “Its your time for a Miracle” and I was little to go on for one...with a...

Kathy’s musical highs.
Musically I’ve had so many highs, I mean singing, singing German with Phila Musical Chorale Society you know, all well trained classical singers and not knowing a word I was saying, but...probably playing for Sara Vaughn when I was twelve and Illinois Jacquet.

Jonah: Could you tell us about that?

Kathryn: Yeah, When we came from Indianapolis...

Jonah: You actually played for them?

Kathryn: We came and auditioned for Sara Vaughn and Illinois Jacquet to find out if it was worth my mother bringing us to the East Coast to go to musical school. Yeah, that was, but you know its so funny when your young, you know, and you don’t realize a magnitude of these people and where there going, you know, end up. It was just the whole experience, I mean, we were, you know, Indianapolis, Indiana kids coming on the train to New York, I mean, come on, you know, and the entourage that met us, and you know the whole bit. It was great. But, I’ve had, I’ve had, some, actually, heart stopping moments.
I mean,

Kathy speaks about her aunt.
I remember Clarence was playing down, the trombonist I was married to. He played Club Harlem in Atlantic City and please note Club Harlem, you can find out a lot about it. That was the venue in Atlantic City. That’s where...In Philadelphia they went to Peps, Showboat, Blue Note, when they come to West Philly. In Atlantic City there was a place called Club Harlem. That’s where everybody who was anybody went. Carmen McCray...And here we are 18, sitting with our little black outfits like we were 21 which we weren’t, but Clarence played with all the house bands at Club Harlem, so naturally we would hit Atlantic City in a minute. There were no casinos down there, nothing and I remember one night Ella Fitzgerald fell off the stage and I never seen men respect any musician like they respected Ella Fitzgerald. She was the lady of jazz. That women ***, but she was just, she carried herself in such a way nobody ever booed or hissed her or ***. So I admired Ella Fitzgerald, I think more than anybody, personally, I liked Carmen McCray as a singer. She’s old. I like I think she just passed away. The standards everybody liked, but my, I’ve had some moments that music that you’d got to give me a couple of days to actually remember.

Jonah: How about any lows?

Kathryn: Any lows?

Jonah: Yeah, things that you don’t want to remember? I mean that things you don’t want to remember, but like...Still...Anything?

Kathryn: Where do you want to start? How much more time you got? How much more time you got? I think the lowest, the lowest I’ve ever been mentally, spiritually, physically was when I was told I would never play again because I had degenerative arthritis. Your whole life flashes against because when I wasn’t playing or playing the fiddle, I typed. That’s what I did for a living. I was administrative secretary and that’s all I did. Recently, they had to operate on this finger and I had to get rid of a its a piece of a Stradivarius violin, but I took it and I had to sell it. That was this past summer because I can’t play fiddle anymore because this bone is degenerated so I can’t hold my fiddle and you know, but those are low moments only as if it would be that today even seeing tomorrow you were blind. You can’t imagine it because it hasn’t happened to you. But when you see what you put your life work to and that remind me of that poem, you know, “If you can...”. You know what poem I’m talking about, “If you can...,” its gone out of my mind. “Hold your head with all against you...you can pick your winning up blah blah blah.” It’s Kipling, Rudyard Kipling.

Jonah: Fine.

Kathryn: *** if you could pick up the pieces of your life and keep going on and I think those were probably the downest [sic] moments.

Kathy speaks about physical problems.
I’ve had a lot of ---, a lot of physical problems and to come out of cancer at 26. I was 26 years old when they diagnosed me with cancer and I’m almost 70, you know, that is a miracle in itself. As asking G-d to please let me raise my kids and I was never to eat food again. I was to eat baby food and insulin the rest of my life. Well, obviously that was not the case. So I’ve been so blessed. I’ve been blessed with young people continuously in my life which keeps you young, you know, we got an Easter Egg hunt over here at the library, you know, tomorrow. My parents, you know, my mom is still living. I lost, my son was tragically killed. When, Horrible, horrible killed. Wrong place, wrong time. But, to go through all of that and still be able to smile and, you know, keep your faith and keep going and keep pushing it and you know, days when my body breaks down, hey, I stand out which is very, very seldom, you know, you keep pushing it, but I have had a very, very blessed very interesting life. I, I thank my mom even today. She’s still in reasonably good health. My daughters a professional up in Westchester. She is my absolute dearest friend. We travel went to Cancun together and, you know, she’s 46 now, but to be able to travel with your mom. I don’t know what kind of relationship you have with your mothers, but that was like really strange, I mean, because we can’t be in the room 2 minutes together, you known she thinks she is my mother now. Okay, sure. But, I don’t have any grandchildren, so I’m blessed with everybody else’s grandkid cause I look like everybody’s grandmother, I guess, but so I still have young people in my life and, you know, I have my quiet time I have a beautiful apartment, you know, which is plenty big for me. Which allows me the freedom to come and go and I really thank G-d for the health that I do have because my very best friend, my first cousin, my mentor, my buddy, we were talking in August and hour later I got a phone call and she gotten off the phone with me gotten on her exercise bike and dropped dead. So, when you live in a place like this you can either become a product of this place, a bunch of people who just are sitting waiting to die. Literally, they are sitting waiting to die. That is so sad. Some of them have never been out of the city. Can you imagine, never been out of Philadelphia. They have made themselves slaves to their children. Their children don’t visit them. They don’t communicate and that does have an effect on you with other people that you’re living with, you know, and at times it’s almost like a morgue. You know, I mean to watch people --- I can bring a little sunshine and a little laugh, and a little joke, you know. I’ll, if you cut that thing off, I’ll tell you all the joke Bill Cosby told me. Turn that off.

....... [break]

And he would do these insane jokes I mean just like the one I told you just --- and people would be falling out and Oh Lord it had to been 30 years later had to be. I’m at the special Olympics and somebody walked up behind me and picked me up and the girlfriend I was with she’s spazzing out “That’s Cosby” he was behind me and when he turned around he went --- and he said you know what, you know what ----. I had a camera and he said, “What is that piece of trash you got in your hand Kathy”. I said it’s my camera, cause its one of those slim 9, you know. So he said take off that --- I don’t believe. So that’s were these came from. He said and when they come out mail them to me. So that’s how I got his address in Connecticut. It was in 6 months after that, that Trinus got killed. My son was killed in April and Trinus was killed probably 6 months after that and I sent him a card, but he took that really bad, so I didn’t, I didn’t, I haven’t, I haven’t seen him since when he comes to Philly, you know. We don’t see each other except when we had a class reunion and it says missing in action. They had Kathy Web, Billy Cosby and I’m going how could all of us be lost? Everyone knows who, where Bill is. Yeah, yeah.


Jonah: He’s on the TV.

Kathryn: Yeah. You know what I mean. Yeah, but they had missing in action. Yeah, Bill Cosby and Kathy Web lost and about 200 other people that nobody knows where they were. But inner excitement for me has been, has been really seeing Jason, another Jason not the twins, one of our piano students come out of a horrible situation and end up graduating School of Performing Arts because I used to make him play Bach and he hated Bach with a passion. He called it Backie Bach and Bookie Bachie and I’m never going to play that. I said they day you play Bach, you know, I will surprise you. He went to School for the Performing Arts and was in the Bach festival singing. So I took him along to Steam Bay Rose. Those are the kind of highs that money can’t buy. You know, he’s now quite a musician. He’s going into jazz and writes his own music. He’s brilliant. He was 9, I guess, when I started teaching him and he’s, Jason is 19 now, I guess, something like that. But to see these young people and the effect, you know, if you, if you live all of your life and you can’t touch a child, you know, you’ve wasted your life. You know, that’s how I feel, you know, at 67. You know if you’ve lived your life and can’t effect change somewhere, you know. I’ll never forget you guys. I’ll may see you on Walnut Street, but you know I’ll never forget you, you know. It’s a connection that comes with, with you all be interesting in what you’re doing. You know, you got some goals. You got some because on the flip side of that there some children out here that don’t have any. When you have a young child --- talking about I really don’t have to plan for next year cause I am dead anyway. That’s the said situation for a 14 year old girl. I played for a graduation. Alright y’all getting to me now. I played for graduation and this girl from Junior High School, you know how they dress for Junior High School graduations. She had on a wedding dress. I said, “Sweetheart why do have on your wedding dress?”

“Cause I’m not going to live long enough to get married.”

So with all of the joy that we have in life, you know, there are some children out here that really can break your heart. I mean, can you imagine having at 14 no more ambition than that to wear your weeding gown to a graduation because you know you’re not going to live. She’d been raped four times, 14.

Kathy playing the piano.
So I get very emotional when I see our children just nobody really cares, nobody cares about the lost children ---. So ----- go to go to Sudanese and see the Sudan kids, you know its all around here so. To see you guys doing positive stuff. Malcolm and Jason, you know, it’s just going to the top. They really going to go to the top. Well-raised, polite, you know, gentlemen and I like that. They got up at Penn one Saturday night and I was over there. They said look, we want all the girls to sit in the first five rows and they all ran up. They were the jocks, I mean, the football players, and the cute guys like you all. 40 guys got up in front of those young girls and said please don’t tempt us with your clothing. I’ve never been so proud of 40 young men in my life. Please don’t tempt us we are here about something. Please don’t wear those provocative clothes around us. You hear college boys talking like that and the girls I going like. I won’t, I wont’ I won’t. I bet you 25 of them got up and went back to their dorm and changed their clothes and came back. It was a Saturday night gospel party they used to have in the top building over here. The Hill building. The Hill.

Cheryl: Hill?

Kathryn: That top roof building over there, but you see when you see things like that and then you see these, these girls, you know, really realizing that’s not what life, I mean, look at you guys, you know, you know you’re not little kid, you know what I’m saying, you know, look at you, you know. --- Jason and Malcolm wore Milton Hershey shirts over University of Penn. That’s how low key they were, you know. I mean you don’t need all that to. You know, that’s not a statement. You know, Hilfiger, what, Sassoon Luke. You know, like I said, --- nobody, I’ve had some very good jobs in my life. Nobody has ever asked me to see the labels on my clothes before they gave me a job. Nobody has ever asked me what color rugs my Mama had on the floor before they gave me a job. What kind of car I had parked outside? You know, it’s what you got up here. What you got in here. What can you offer to a company? So, you know, these, these kids that are out here dressing look like monkeys in a silk suit that’s that’s what they look like cause when they take off those clothes they still the same uneducated monkeys that they were when they put those clothes on, so. You know. You guys have been real. I really enjoyed you guys.

Jonah: We enjoyed you.

Navin: Yeah, we enjoyed you.

Cheryl: Thank you.

Jonah: You were awesome.

Kathryn: We got to get together.