What becomes a legend most? The famous line seen in advertising ads for a major fur company referred to the unnamed but hardly anonymous befurred subjects B corporate, entertainment, political stars of glitterati America.
In the Black community stars shoot out from the earth, like coal to diamonds, and a legend could be your next door neighbor whose glowing good deeds remain unpublished and unpublicized.
When I think of phenomenal woman I think of women like Sheila Miller. Sheila who? Sheila Miller. Sheila is a legend in the Bedford-Stuyvesant community amongst the wizened@ old-school.@ She manages Sugar Hill Restaurant, and for _____ ran Sheila=s at the corner of DeKalb and Adelphi, BEFORE the strip became The Strip. She=s perhaps the most unheralded role model in the world. Not just because of her entrepreneurial spirit; she once put an entire apartment building to work and she singlehandedly spearheaded to international success a small craft hobby.
We are fascinated by the daily number of hero stories and deeds that come out of our community. We know about them, but not through Black Enterprise, Network Journal, The New York Times and even Our Time Press. So caught up in doing their work, these particular Astars@ do not have time to seek publicity. Same for Sheila. We would have missed her story, too, had it not been for casual conversation with bartender _____ of Sugar Hill Restaurant and the restaurant-cocktail lunge=s owner, Eddie Freeman. ADid you know that Sheila gave one of her kidney=s to a friend=s husband?@ Here=s Sheila=s story.
Notes: Arranges schedule to be available, didn=t have a set sked as far as work, and work as needed, available to help themY. Take four of them to school everydayY on two have to be in 815 the other 8 25YTwo different schools, then have 18 month old grandson have all days, wherever I go he goes, have since he was four moths, old, mom when back to work started to workY deal with five of them everyday. One of 11, second, born in Hertford, North Carolina, near from Catfish Hunter >s hometown, the old deejay, Enoch GregoryY work for many years, long time, played old schools, blues and r& b, in the nightY Y. Know his family he has younger sisters and brothers, we dealY Y pop. 9,000 Y small two stoplights only two stoplights in town, corner of Edington Rod and market, Church &: Grove.
Raised there. Went to school, graduated from Perquimans County High School. Y. Two whites marched with King in 64Y. He came to our hometown, and him Golden Franks, with Golden Met First Baptist Church on Academy Street, they told us we were going to march to get some black employees in the establishments. We marched, sang, and dealt with state troopers with tear gas and dogs, fire trucks meeting us at the bridge Persuqimons BridgeY. The dogsY. RacismY. It was bad, we could not have hairpins in our hair, they feared any thing could be considered a weapon, I remember going into the restaurants, and they would spit in our food, we gained what we wanted, got two black women in employed in supermarket, and young girl and her brother came to our school Helen Gordon B white girl they white finally form Detroit, marched with us, a and came to live with there, and became a student at the school and graduated with usY we in DetroitY preparing 2004 reunion,, 35 reunion, in June September of 2004Y Special Roe. On planning committee, meeting back here in new York , next Saturday to put to gather plan for the rest of the class, 69 people in classY nine have diedY usually we get 45 to 50.. to comeY Last reunion meets in Hertford. End up in Hertford, and all get together and have breakfast and go to churchY we usually go to someone=s house, one of classmates house, the Bryant=s houseY Y.
Maybe because of Enoch GregoryY he was on the air h=in New York, don=t know how it came aboutY Pastor LondonYHertford near, 60 miles from Norfolk, Virginia, near, Elizabeth in North CarolinaYSon and brother graduated form State Teachers College in Elizabeth city, now Elizabeth State University YDid notY.
Very happy, he went through a thing where withdrawn from school, not learning, anything… her in New York. Ok don=t want to go, get a job, went out in job market five, is x months came too me while I was at work, mom I want to go to collegeY I called the registrar, if I get down there by Tuesday, he took GED on ownY if you get down by Tuesday, I can get you in July or augustY All I had to do was get him on the plane and get him down thereYHe did very well, Red/White YKappa Alpha Psi YDid well, now he works with DeBride College Admissions here in New York…(went to Bkly Tech, PS 3 on Franklin, 258 )
(Pastor of Berean, Pastor Griffith is from Elizabeth City, N.C.) running into a lot of people let lately who Director of the Soup Kitchen, 125 a day, dog gone if I didn=t meet people form Elizabeth city, 887 St. Marks, near Greater Mt. Pleasant… one year and a half, pastor, Pastor Randy WareY. Mondays and Tuesdays (12 B 2) Live in Brooklyn in BushwickY sectionYSugar Hill — oversee everything, Ms. Walker is the general manager/ kitchen, all the major events, the staff, anything that needs to be done, run it like a small businesses
Small business: accessory company B designed and manufactured accessories for specialty chain stores B Macy=s, Casual Corner, Lerner=s, mesh tops, scarves, beltsY.Working with a company prior to that designing Y went out on my own, Came to NY in =69, Worked in Sandy Alexander Printing Company, 44th and 12th (billing clerk)
After got pregnant, left there and worked at United Merchants and Manufacturers (home furnishing industry, started din customer service then became secretary imports person) Lending Trimming (rings for scarves and beach umbrellas …)
Went to Y Three guys who wanted to start own accessory, I knew one of themYin antahhtn, started manufacturing… did designing of all products ( they new I was good with hands, I would sit and make belts an wear themY these guys got together, one already in accessory with jewelry, John approached Sheila why don=t you consider coming over hereY Y I was there for five yearsY) B those items appeared I MacysY 1000 dozenY.. 32 people working under me manufacturing all stuff.
Used to live on Classon and Efforts Place, I would take work, and all the people in building would work. Meet me in the lobbyY put all theses people to work, everybody worked. Made YFour yearsYYpiece workY.
I did a lot of belts with the various strings, one of the weaving. Companies, I would wrap it on cardboard with various strings to create a pattern and they would weave it, we they would cut it and sew it, using
Safety-pin t-shirts at Macy=s ( 79-80), found a place to dye safety pins different color, mesh scarves wore then on head and then hip, traveled from state to state showing the stores how to display them and use themY Y we would be walking around with yourY original designs. Three states showing how to display workY in Ohio, Indiana, KentuckyY going to the chain storeY had to show the buyers how to display the headpieces: mesh scarves, beaded them, folded them,, so they could wrap around the hair, show them the various ways it could be wrapped to so can display on mannequins,, they didn=t know anything about hairpiecesY
Did hand-beaded bags for Botteliclello, they paid 75 a bag and sold for 500Y they wanted dozens of themY.. They were Y. Beaded, painstaking work… 79-80Y. Got a decent salaries, bonus, and and five to 10 thousand dollars, we doing good want a percentage of the businessesY. John loaned me 50,000 went over on 36th Street got me a place, and started own businessY Crazy ladyY 36th and 6th venue, It was a loft that was broken up, two of us on that floor, had three rooms to work inY had my family, friends, I employed them ,,t hey would come and work with me, and after hours bringing it home and had people in building to help me to meet deadlines..
Saleme stores worked with meY. 83- 86. Father, James ASnooks@ Everett, he had a little club, his livelihood, out the back door by house, always liked the ambience atmosphere off music and dance and foodY I=m going to have me a supper clubYSame friend John — the accessory industry started to change up, and the small guys getting workY
We started looking can came to Brooklyn, Went to c21, right across the street, he told us about it… looked at Adel phi and LafayetteY the one I ended up with.. I knew that was itY big arms went around me YAll I had to get was tableclothsY just waiting for meY
Opening night July 5, 1986 Y I did a Sheila=s reunion looking some only the not Y. Brenda Ghoul, Bobby Johnson, Helen Logan, Gene Pilgrim, Sam Goodwin, Huey the bartender, Paul Walden, Then Sheila= 86.Sheila: 86-93
Dakota Staton, Noel Pointer, Hamilton, CateredFather got to see it: his chest was swole up so bigY93 B Had first rights to buy building. After lease expired, he wanted 475,000 for the building. Didn=t make sense…
Too high…Son: 36, 33, 30The restaurant sent then to school. I kept a lot of children there, a lot of parents in area didn=t have babysitting, so would you feed them, help with homework, put them in a corner of restaurants, Y Kept on he lived with me, while mom went to rehabY I knew here, she was beauticianY TawanaY churchY son is in collegeY got the best hands in the world in hairY located o Marcy and Pulaski… OldY.
Closed in 93: went to Sugar hill. — I laying in bed, something said call Eddie, what you doing, trying to get mess straigetnout, you can come down and help cause the chef walked outY got dressed and worked in kitchen,, never sat down, and interviewed,YI know what it is to not have someone at your back, in that industry… good relationship…
He gave you my friee had o do what Y20 hours a dayYStill doY they call me,
Laid out one De went to Sugar Hill in February of 94.At this point, live life to fullest, planning is important but not the most important thing, we are happy within our selves, we can wake up eve day, and say thinks to god, biggest treasure we have, everything else is secondary.. don= like long time planning, every day is what is important to me, getting through that day, is important and doing the best that I can in that dayY can=t Don=t want to absorb anymore of the Y take on some so much stuff till weighted, want to deal with what=s in front of meY. Don=t= want to deal with the weight, deal with what=s in front of me…
State of the world: so much uncertainty as to what=s going to happen sure it has played a big part, returning more to trying more to strengthen my spiritual life, and with that alone, and that has give me the freedom to deal with one day at a time, no matter what I do aor what I say, he ti path is lad outY
Free time: go to movies, walk down by the Brooklyn promenade, I love to walk, I walk form here to sugar hill, live on CorneleaY do stff like that, I sewY Very proud of myself because my girlfriends kidneyY gave him a kidney, he had been firhgbitng of a year to find a… got to pint doing dialysis, 3x a dayY his brother was going to give him a kidney, but the brother wanted him to pay up all the bills, and put x amount for r in bank, so family could sustain. Myself beautician and another beautician (carol,)… we will go to see if we can give a kidneyY
I=m going goY what do I have to give you, I don=t want anything from youY this is what I=m supposed to be doing…
Went to Westchester medical, they tested, and they tested me that I was a better match, than his brotherY
I went in Y they she tried to talk me out of it because I was not a family member. If my kidney is going to keep him a liveY all if wanted to know is how long I=m going to be out work, she said 2 weeks. I knew it wasn=t going to be 2 weeks for me. So I went in April 26,m 1994Y s Edward Ferebee Jr. presented you with a plaque, seventh anniversaryY gave it to , for my brother, October 2, . Y. How long had known Jean, met her in h.s., but met her in 9th grade, she lived in outskirts of town and had to come in, she went to another elementary school, different form mind. Didn=t meet her till we were in the 9th grade. We grew up together form age 3Y. Attended same schools he marched din 64Y
I was the maid of honor at their wedding, I introduced themY they have one daughter, I am her god mother, and they are my children=s godparentsYI was doing what I needed to d it… I saw what my girlfriend going through, the fear of she had w… he was dwindling away, he it was a big big strai. Okay I got twoY I=m going to be alrightY/
From a week after that surgery, I have not had not had a pain. Got a went in on Tuesday, they let me come home Sunday morning. And jean picked me up and brought me home; got in bed, called a cabY garland was having an event CoreY Eddie was only one who knew what as going onY put on a big bandY put it on… stayed in bed for a weekY went back to workY and that was in April, in November I went to Jamaica, got in mineral springs.
I got a 10 inch cut; they took one of my ribs out to get to the kidneyYY. They were trying to come to speak, to other donors; schedule didn=t work for meYWestchester County Medical CenterY
Eddie: you dong what, grandson: nana, you only got one kidney, what happened if that one get bad, that one get hurt, I have to wait, and get one like uncle, he said: no , I m going to give you one.. a role model in a lo of respect, I have a lot to offer a lot of people, not a talker, I can show them, or pull themY subtle ways to do itY new venture now is to work with mentally ill, Tuesday go for BRC Fulton house, mental disabled residentsY will have case load of five to six residents that will counselYBklyn Residents Center Lot of different programs,
Chinese have found that there are various herbs that heal the ares that renew defective cells in the brainY foundY (SchizophreniaY yahooYCourses; they send you to school take class, Mental illnessYCuCH Center for Urban Community ServicesY Wall Street classes on mental classes, history of it, went through various stages of schizophreniaYMy friend is the Director of Warren WrightY Security Coordinator… makes sure they don=t go outY got to interactingY got to talk to them, and seeing the differences between. One to otherY Sheila can you come in a cook. I got even more contact, when it wentY Never saw people who appreciated food so well. They all came to kitchen, got together and wrote a letter to warren to fire cook and bring me in , and for there, started to warm up to them, and they do me,,, they know there medicines, what it does, what happens when they don=t= get itY
Whenever he dnneded, just, started in March of 2002Y going fulltime, at the end of the end of Mental Health TechnicianY.How many people are there 45Y.Role Models: grand mom, Rosetta Jenkins, mother=s mother: raise me, helped steered me to keep mind straightY to do something with self, strong ladyY she passed in 89
My grandmother, prettiest knees in the world, skin like butter and sil at the same time, she was something. I think I got a lot of… she could crochet, do stuff with hands, made umbrella to match her dress match her dress. Her rolls would stand five inches tall. cooked anythingY.
Ather s siter, Margaret Newbern, and Aunt Barbara Hamilton, strong womenY. They were survivors they came up in hard times, Margaret father=s sister, they mother died when she was 8 or 9Y You father at age 7 sent out and got a job to support themY.learned about all of that at his fun deal.. they were not afraid to go out and work and make money, by any means necessary, aunt on Rockaway and Livonia Y she used to sell liquor, Y she could hold a fifth of liquor right in her chestY put it in her chest, and the cups in one pocket, and the money in oneY put it collect money,,, an..
Opened a cab stand on hegemen and Rockaway, J&M Car ServiceY Aunt Barb did domestic work, she know… they knew how to work, weren=t a friad to work. My dad too, he had his club, he did everything, and he could do everythingY those are my role modelsYI=m the matron in my family, I=m itY It=s meY