Listen to some of the stories we've recorded...

7:00 - 8:30 pm on Wednesday, June 9th
LaunchPad - 721 Franklin Avenue
(Between Park Place and Sterling Place)

Friday, June 11, 2010

Final Event Photos

Monday, May 17, 2010

Eunice Oden's First Subway Ride

Recently, I had to do an interview all by myself. I was unsure about how this conversation would go, but I left all of my insecurity at the door and went into Eunice Oden's house with confidence. This conversation lasted for about forty-five minutes and I got to ask all the questions I wanted to. I learned a lot about Crown Heights and about many other things that I was curious about.

Eunice Oden was born in North Carolina and moved to New York City at 19 years-old. She told me about the first time she took the subway and how scared she was. She could not wait to get out of the train! We talked about what city life was like when compared to living on a farm. She said that she would greet everyone that passed her way in the city, but would hardly get a response.

Eunice Oden and Treverlyn DeHaarte

Eunice told me that when she first moved here, her and her sister could not get a certain apartment because they were Black. She also said that a few years after moving here hospitals and other businesses were starting to close early because people weren’t utilizing them.

She told me that she thinks there is so much crime today because children aren’t been trained the right way parents. She said, "This generation of parents is trying to be their child's friend and that they should be their parents first." She told me about how some of the streets used to be 2 ways, like Nostrand Avenue. We talked about how the police system has improved a lot from when she first moved here. She now knows most of the police officers by name!

I learned a lot from her about Crown Heights and about everyday life. She told me not to ever start my day without thanking God and I plan not to. I enjoyed this conversation a lot .

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Handmade History

Frank Esquilin at the Franklin Avenue Flea Market
Photo courtesy of: Nostrand Park website

On April 26th, we interviewed Frank Esquilin. He moved from Harlem to Ozone Park and then, 16 years ago, he moved to our own beloved Crown Heights. Frank is funny, adventurous and such an inspiration; he’s actually one of many people in this project (so far) who have taught us how to be free, fight for our dreams, and enjoy life while it lasts.

He’s a huge contributor to the flea market on Franklin Ave. As a child growing up, Frank always found work for his idle hands. His mom had a sewing machine that he used to experiment with. Luckily, by doing that he found his talent and started making wallets. At first he had doubts about whether people would want to by his little wallets made by his experimenter’s hands, but on his first sale Frank overcame all doubts and moved on to other options like making book covers.

Floyya, Frank and Treverlyn at LaunchPad

With his gifted hands, he’s helping to develop and contribute to Crown Heights history. Frank is now retired and is touring the world. His journey is never ending, but in the end Crown Heights is “Home” for him.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Girl Who Grew Up With Her Neighborhood

Our crew with Jannel (center in green shirt)

On Wednesday, April 25th, we interviewed our friend Jannel Corney at Paul Robeson High School. (Her last name doesn't say anything about who she is.) Jannel is the youngest of our storytellers. This interview was quite different from our previous interviews. Jannel is one of our friends which spiced up the interview. She is crazy, but I don't mean that literally, I mean it in the sense that she is fun to be around. This interview was under my control and I had lots of fun doing it.

Jannel was born and raised in Crown Heights. She has been living in the neighborhood for sixteen years and she is sixteen years old. She loves the neighborhood. She says, "I feel like the neighborhood is growing up with me." She says one change she has seen over the years is that there are not as many people in the park anymore.

Ebbets Field - 55 Sullivan Place in Brooklyn, NY
Photograph Source:

Jannel lives in one of the apartment buildings near where Ebbets Field used to be. She told us about the history of the area. Even though she was not around in 1960 when Ebbets Field was torn apart to build housing, she knows the history of where she lives. She told us that Ebbets Field used to be the home of the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Ms. Rosella's House

On Monday April 19th, we went over to Rosella LaFontaine's house on Park Place to interview her. She lives in a huge house. The house is so beautiful. She has been living in Crown Heights and the house for 60 years. She was the first person we have interviewed that has been living in Crown Heights for 60 years.

While interviewing her, she talked about the Brooklyn Children’s Museum. She said they were about to close the museum in the neighborhood. Some people (herself included) didn’t want to close the museum so they protested the closing to keep the museum open. Their wish came true and the museum still stands in Crown Heights on 145 Brooklyn Avenue. The Brooklyn Children's Museum was founded in 1899. It used to be in two large mansions. It was the first museum created just for kids in the United States. Its success inspired the creation of similar museums in other places.

Ms. Lillian Pelham and Ms. Rosella LaFontaine

Ms. Lillian Pelham stopped by for a visit during our interview with Rosella. She has been living in Crown Heights for 45 years and is also one of Rosella's best friends. She was a nurse and then she was a teacher at Samuel J. Tilden High school. She told us about her book called Wisdom in the Air, Wisdom Everywhere. She was inspired to write the book because she wanted to pass on wisdom to teenagers. In addition, she bakes chocolates and they are delicious. We are going to interview her too so she can tell us her history.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Crown Heights History From A Long Time Ago

Wilhelmena, Quanaisha and Treverlyn

I was in charge of the interview that Treverlyn and I did, but was a big help when I couldn't think of a question to ask next. There is nothing like a little team work. Wilhelmena Rhodes Kelly talked about her childhood and her experience in Crown Heights.

She is the author of a book called Crown Heights and Weeksville that has some amazing photographs of this area from many years ago. She wrote the book because she did not know much about the history of the neighborhood and wanted to learn more. She even showed us where Crow Hill is really located on a map from 1842. She told us about the Crown Heights of the 1660s when the Dutch used to live there. If you want more information just open up her book about Crown Heights. It was very interesting to hear her own story about Crown Heights and the story of a larger history of Crown Heights. Thanks, Wilhelmena.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Zetta Elliott Tells Us Her Stories

On Wednesday March 24th, we met with Zetta Elliott. She is (so far) the youngest person we have interviewed. Zetta was born in Canada and first came to the United States when she was a little girl. She fell in love with Eastern Parkway when she first visited. She describes it as "the most beautiful road [she] had ever seen." She came to New York three times and left before she decided to maintain permanent residency here.

She has a very interesting background. Although she hasn't been living in Crown Heights for over fifteen years, her family has a history here. She has beautiful memories of staying with her cousin Lil when she was in the neighborhood to visit. Zetta also told us about her rich family history. Her mother is descended from African American slaves who "bought their freedom in 1820 and moved to Canada to be free."

Zetta, Monica, Treverlyn and Ansie

Zetta is a famous writer. She wrote over five published books and brought 2 of them for us to have: Bird (a children story) and A Wish After Midnight (a young adult novel). Zetta recreates her favorite fairy tales right here in New York in her stories. She is also teaches poetry to elementary school students.