Richard Suddreth oral history interview, 2017 October 30
Richard Suddreth, who grew up in North Charlotte (NoDa), a neighborhood of Charlotte, North Carolina, recalls his memories of the neighboring Rosedale plantation and his friendship with the historic home's last owners Alice Davidson Able and Mary Louise Davidson. Mr. Suddreth also describes the community of North Charlotte, where three generations of his family owned and ran the Staton grocery store located at North Davidson and 35th Streets. [All times approximate] [00:17] Mr. Suddreth discusses his family's grocery store and relays various amusing anecdotes, including store related interactions with Alice and Mary Louise Davidson. [02:26] He describes a former cottage located next door to Rosedale where Highland Park Mill employee Joe Doster lived with family members. He also describes how a fire was averted at Rosedale and how he witnessed the barn accidentally burning down to the ground. [05:00] Mr. Suddreth describes Alice and Mary Louise Davidson and their mother and relates a break-in and burglary at the house. [06:50] He discusses the North 29 Drive-in Theater, which was adjacent to Rosedale, and problems with noise related to the sound system. He recalls other stories of delivering groceries to Rosedale, and how the Davidson sisters were willing to change the name of a street directly across the road from their home from Rosedale to East Cedric Street in honor of his father [now Guy E. Suddreth Ave]. [10:06] Discusses various buildings that were on the Rosedale property including a log cabin that was next to the barn, which was relocated to Greensboro, and an ice house. [13:18] Mr. Suddreth relates how Alice Davidson Able moved to Greensboro after she got married late in life and how Mary Louise Davidson eventually moved to a house on Providence Road near Sharon Lane in Charlotte, and spent her last years at the Methodist Home on Shamrock Drive. He details items that the sisters gave to his family on the dissolution of the house, many of which were donated back to the museum. [20:47] On the arrival of second interviewer, Elizabeth Harris, Mr. Suddreth re-tells various stories, including the Rosedale fires and the drive-in theater. [22:24] He describes his family home on Barnard Avenue and various neighbors including Mr. Horn who owned a shoe shop in North Charlotte, and the Neese family who owned Neese's Sausage Company. He notes that his neighborhood was different from the mill villages that comprised most of North Charlotte. [24:46] He relates stories about life in North Charlotte, including interactions with the trains during World War II when his father would throw soda and ice cream to troops as they hung out of the train windows, and the passing through of President Frederick Delano Roosevelt's funeral train. [26:36] Describes trips into downtown Charlotte to observe the crowds of people and visit Ivey's and Belks Department Stores and the Astor Theater. He notes the services that were in North Charlotte, including the Fire Department with attached jail, and he talks about public transportation between North Charlotte and downtown. [30:16] He details how his church, Spencer Memorial Methodist, moved to what had been a recreation area on 36th Street, which had a boxing arena and swimming pool. He outlines the history of how the Johnston YMCA came to be built in its current location when David Johnston, owner of Highland Park and Johnston Mills, swapped the recreation property on 36th Street for property off North Davidson Street. He recalls stories related to industrialist, Mr. Johnston who lived in the Johnston Building in Charlotte. [34:32] Mr. Suddreth discusses race relations during segregation and his close associations with African Americans. [37:56] Detailed description of his family home and family anecdotes. [41:29] He notes various neighbors including drugstore owner Mr. Dover, Mr. Dorton who was in charge of the North Carolina State Fair, and Mr. Pucket who owned a local service station. [43:50] Further discussion of Rosedale and speculation about various items from the house that were donated to Greensboro History Museum. [51:11] Description of home remedies for illnesses. [53:05] Discussion of Alexander Price, an African American man who worked at Rosedale, and an African American woman, Florrie [or Florence, or Flora] who is pictured in a photograph with Mary Louise. [55:49] Discussion of surrounding roads and further discussion of North Charlotte businesses. Description of childhood activities including church events, trips uptown, trips to the mountains, playing in the local creek, and bowling at the Johnston YMCA. [1:03:20] Description of local schools that Mr. Suddreth attended and how his father would take food to people in need at Christmas. Recollections of other North Charlotte people including baseball star Donny Brady and the Shue family who ran a boarding house. [1:07:13] Mr. Suddreth describes his father, his approach to family discipline, and his father's work as a grocer. He describes his grandfather who was also an entrepreneur, who was known as the "mayor" of North Charlotte, and who ran a cafe off Central Avenue. He describes his three brothers and their work, including his brother Frank who took over the family store and later took charge of the State Farmers Market in Charlotte.