The Filson Historical Society Digital Projects

Interview with Roosevelt Chin, Part 2 of 2, March 1987

Item

Title

Interview with Roosevelt Chin, Part 2 of 2, March 1987

Description

The second portion of an interview with Roosevelt Chin (1933-2007), a lifetime worker at the Cabbage Patch Settlement House in Louisville, Kentucky. Interview conducted by Keith Cardwell. The interview duration is one hour exactly. Contains racial slurs. Chin recounts a time when he was young and tried to walk to the Cabbage Patch, only to get lost in the city. Chin describes the Protestant founder of the Cabbage Patch, Louise Marshall (1888-1981), and recalls her lack of trust of Catholics. Chin recalls his experiences with Lloyd Redman (d. 2013), an athletics coach at the Cabbage Patch. Chin describes his early jobs at the Cabbage Patch and at Miss Marshall’s home, as well as his early impressions of Miss Marshall. Chin describes the conflicts between himself and other staff members, namely Charles Dietsch (1932-2020) and Jim Cooksey (d. 2015), after Miss Marshall became inactive in the early eighties. Chin discusses the establishment of a new board and the hiring of executive director Tracy Holladay at that time. Chin describes how the Cabbage Patch got its name in the early 1910s, as well as the settlement house’s connection to famous author Alan Hegan Rice (1870-1942). Chin describes the impact that the Cabbage Patch and Miss Marshall had upon himself and his entire family. Chin briefly describes the daycare and the well-baby clinic. Chin briefly details the Cabbage Patch as it existed in the 70s and the impact of the summer program director Rod Napier upon various activities at that time.

For the first portion of the interview, see https://filsonhistorical.omeka.net/items/show/7008

Source

Mss. BJ C112 Item 1531, Cabbage Patch Settlement House Records, The Filson Historical Society, Louisville, Kentucky

Date

Language

Type

Identifier

Mss. BJ C112 Item 1531

Transcription

Roosevelt Chin [00:00:01] Yeah. We have to get on a streetcar to ride out to central. [Rod] Napier reemerged himself through the University of Louisville. Then, when the opportunity came for him to switch from teaching to working full time, at the Cabbage Patch, he took that. I keep feeling it more as a favor to me because there were many phone calls when I was telling him my concerns that the Cabbage Patch was starting to deteriorate. And so he came on board to kind of-- kind of soften the transition.

Keith Cardwell [00:00:32] Is he still--

Roosevelt Chin [00:00:33] Yeah, he's still here. He is now the assistant director here.

Keith Cardwell [00:00:38] Okay. Let's go through the titles of everybody so that I can get them clear and--

Roosevelt Chin [00:00:45] Right. Tracy Holladay is the executive director.

Keith Cardwell [00:00:47] Okay.

Roosevelt Chin [00:00:47] And under him, there are probably, what, five departments. The day care department, which is Carolyn [unclear], there's the social services department, which is Liz Kestler, and there is the facilities department, which is Dietsch, and there is the, activities department, which is Napier. And because I couldn't find a department, they just gave me the overall title of special programs. Anything that comes up that doesn't cover, I can handle because my experience was so vast.

Keith Cardwell [00:01:23] Okay.

Roosevelt Chin [00:01:26] So we're-- Dietsch, Napier and I are sort of in the-- in the same level as far as performance of activities. Although Napier, is closer to the front office, Tracy, than the rest of us. I go through Napier to get to the front office.

Keith Cardwell [00:01:40] Okay.

Roosevelt Chin [00:01:41] And vice versa. And that's almost set up on purpose to form the buffer between the disagreements and problems that Dietsch and Cooksey and I had. You know, who was supposed to be what?

Keith Cardwell [00:02:01] I appreciate your time. I didn't intend for us to spend this long today on it, but all the information has been really valuable. I think not only for my own work, but--

Roosevelt Chin [00:02:15] Yeah.

Keith Cardwell [00:02:16] For good record of the history, particularly the current history. So that years from now, people will have access to it. Thanks for. Spending your morning over here with me.

Roosevelt Chin [00:02:29] Right. [END OF SESSION]

Roosevelt Chin [00:02:33] You know, that first time we walked into this neighborhood. And of course nowadays Sundays, you can't tell Sundays from Saturday. Everything's open. Cars everywhere.

Keith Cardwell [00:02:40] Yeah.

Roosevelt Chin [00:02:43] Now, I remember the first time I went to the Cabbage Patch. I remember we cut through Saint James Court, and I was just fascinated with Saint James Court. It was much like it is now, except the people who lived there owned those houses then. I guess they're more renters now. I remember cutting through Saint James Court, and I can remember-- I don't remember cutting through the alley, but I think we came through Magnolia. But I remember when I came into the Cabbage patch, I thought I was going into a house and I was going to play in someone's back room, not knowing what a gym was, I don't think, because I remember coming through this-- the side door now-- it's not a door anymore for entrance, but that's where it was, right here. And I remember coming in, signing my name and just following my brother who had been here before. He said, "This is the way we go." And I remember standing in this hallway, waiting for that door to unlock. This is the long hallway that leads into the gym, and I can remember I was starting to feel tense, because people were starting to say, "whose team you going to be on first?" And we were kind of getting ready for the-- when the door open, so we could know which- what gym or floor we're running to or whose team were going to play on, and years later, I can remember how that was much ado about nothing. Because after years and years of watching other kids, I assume they went through the same thing to, of tension, the apprehension. Because now when I pick my senior citizens up and bring them in for-- I can hear them, "Oh, are you going to play peanuts with us?" "No, I think I'll sit with Alex time. I want to play bridge this time." And then, there was that little maneuvering to see what tables-- because you didn't want to be left out without a partner. Yeah. And I remember we stood there and talked about, "Who are we going to play against? No we don't take," they called me Rosie then, "We don't take Rosie, you go down to the other one and shoot. And if we lose, we'll pick you on the next team," you know, we were already planning how we would do it so you wouldn't be like a wallflower. Back there just standing there with nobody wanting you to play with them. I can-- I very vividly remember that. There was that relief, when you knew what team you were going to be on, "We get in there, you stay with us." This is called the main end, the end closest to the-- to 6th Street. "Don't run down to the other end. You stay at the main end so when we pick teams, you'll be there." And I remember all that planning and strategies to get into the gym. And it was such a big thing to us-- to me then. And I remember coming back later, a week or two later by myself, and I walked down Hill Street. The hill was a main thoroughfare, and I remember coming to Saint James Court and looking-- walking to the left of the court and then walking past Sixth Street, forgetting that Sixth Street was where Cabbage Patch was. I remember getting all the way up to 18th and Hill, because I would stop at different stores and I would look and I was just so amazed at the neighborhood, and I remember passing the government project which was Park-- Parkway Place because it was all white then so I had no-- I had no, anxieties about walking through the neighborhood, you know. As it is now, when you walk past Seventh, it's all Black. But it was all white. I remember going as far as Eighteenth and Hill, and I can remember saying, "Well, I know we didn't go this far." And I remember turning around and finding Saint James Court again, and I don't think I ever found Cabbage Patch that day, but I just-- I just had an exploratory walk of my own.

Keith Cardwell [00:06:03] What were some of the-- some of the things you experienced on that walk?

Roosevelt Chin [00:06:08] I remember a big furniture store and years later, I found that furniture store which is on, Ninth and Hill, Tenth and Hill. I remember stopping in a hardware store and there again, they were-- they were the kind of hardware store that just had everything. The one on Douglass Loop, that way. Spangles, that hardware store-- birdcages, you name it, they had it. And I remember there was one-- I get to the Seventh and Hill or 18th and Hill-- that had everything in there. I don't remember seeing people. I remember seeing an old man walking on a railroad track. He had a cane, because I was afraid I would get kidnapped. I guess this is, you know, the stories you hear from your parents. "Don't wander in different neighborhoods." And I remember avoiding-- avoiding the man at the railroad tracks, so that must've been up to at least Fifteenth because there's a railroad track up that way. And-- and the whole time I was kept-- I kept thinking I was coming to the Cabbage Patch, but unbeknownst to me, I already passed Sixth Street. In fact, you know, I overshot it by 12 blocks. I remember finally getting to 18th and 18th was very busy. Throughout my life, the-- the criterion for a busy intersection was always Fourth and Broadway. And I remember going to Eighteenth and Hill and saying, "This is just like Fourth and Broadway," and back then I think Eighteenth Street had a movie house. They had, you know, a little five and ten cents store and shoe stores and everything like that. But I remember that was my first revelation, that there were other intersections that were just as busy as Fourth and Broadway. If you haven't gone in town, Fourth and Broadway was the epitome of hustle and bustle and buildings and stores and everything. And I remember getting to Eighteenth and Hill and being impressed at how crowded it was. And then I remember, it was years later before I finally-- well, after I started driving and knew my way, that I finally went back to Eighteenth and Hill to see if it was like the way I remembered it was. And it was. I couldn't have been more than fifteen. Fifteen and just-- first time out of town-- out of downtown Louisville and taking that walk.

Keith Cardwell [00:08:23] Did you-- do you remember what neighborhood designations?

Roosevelt Chin [00:08:29] No, not at all. I remember, only because I played ball against the Fort Hill gang. And Fort Hill is, I guess, where the incinerator is. Merriweather and Preston? Up about that way. And I remember the impression we had of the kids in Fort Hill is how tough they were. And, that was the only neighborhood distinction I can remember. That and all the Catholics were on the same [unclear]. That was always a no-no with Miss Marshall. She didn't want us to really associate with the Catholics. She didn't want us to compete with them. She didn't want us to hang around with them.

Keith Cardwell [00:09:06] Did she have any reason-- [crosstalk]

Roosevelt Chin [00:09:07] I think it was just her strict conservative Protestant belief. You know, I'd-- more than once or twice I'd heard her saying-- say things like, you know, "they worship idols," and-- and how the priest would try to get you to become a Catholic and all that. Lot of fears instilled in us.

Keith Cardwell [00:09:35] Was Lloyd Redman working here? Or do you remember?

Roosevelt Chin [00:09:41] I don't remember Lloyd Redman until I played ball for him, but I'm sure he was around. Just-- just understanding the history of the Cabbage Patch and-- and the chronological set up of who worked when--.

Keith Cardwell [00:09:59] Yeah.

Roosevelt Chin [00:10:00] I imagine he was here, but I don't remember any dealings with him until I played ball for him.

Keith Cardwell [00:10:05] What years did you play ball for him?

Roosevelt Chin [00:10:07] Gee, I guess I had already tore my legs up. I had already-- I guess I was in college then, freshman or junior in college, and went out for his men's team, or his [unclear]. I remember he brought some UofL football players to play. I remember, a couple of them became big, big stars later on, who played on those teams. Because I was in awe of them. You know, I could've came up to their chests, you know, I was so short. But there again, I remember, you know, I felt comfortable once they knew I could play basketball. Because I can remember Redman bringing in some of these players. And-- and I remember at the time, I knew they weren't Cabbage Patchers because I hadn't seen them in the gym. And I think they were his, I guess, classmates. I guess he was at UofL then too or had just finished at UofL. And I can remember Jim Gatewood, who later became a principal and a FBI man, and a guy named, I think, Getcher, who later became a board of directors or school board or some other prestigious position that you would see his name in the paper so I can remember and say, "I used to play ball with him." And that was my first recollection of Redman.

Keith Cardwell [00:11:28] What year did you start college?

Roosevelt Chin [00:11:31] 52.

Keith Cardwell [00:11:35] And--.

Roosevelt Chin [00:11:36] At the University of Louisville.

Keith Cardwell [00:11:39] How did the Cabbage Patch help you in making your decision to go to college?

Roosevelt Chin [00:11:47] Well, I think I always knew I wanted to go to college. I just didn't go into it as far as preparation for it, you know, looking through catalogues, decide where I was going or how to pay for it and all that. I just-- I think I all along assumed my father would pay for it. And I can remember, of course, going to Male High School, which was a college prep school then. We were all qualified to go to college. And I remember-- I can remember my 10th grade, I made a E in Latin. Back then-- getting-- you know, Latin-- we took Latin. I was making a D in geometry. And I can remember-- I don't know-- I can't remember if it was Miss Marshall or my mother telling me, "Hey, you're not going to college if you don't get those grades up." And I remember really making an effort my junior, senior year. And, you know, I ended up graduating in honors society so I must've really, really pulled my grades in order to, with just the drastic beginnings. And I remember knowing I was going to college, but not knowing where. And, I think at that time the influence of going to UofL came by the circumstances, because I knew if I worked at the Cabbage Patch, I could be earning some money as I was going to UofL and that-- that worked real, real fine. And I think because of that situation, UofL was my only choice because if I went elsewhere, I wouldn't be able to work at the Cabbage Patch, you know, if I went out town, that is. So I think that was almost a foregone conclusion that I would end up at UofL. I really can't pinpoint why I went to UofL, other than the fact that, "Hey, if I stayed at UofL I can still work at the Cabbage Patch.

Keith Cardwell [00:13:34] What kind of work were you doing?

Roosevelt Chin [00:13:36] I can remember going to class at UofL, walking over here at 12:00 and emptying all the garbage cans, sweeping the gym floor, dusting all the game room apparatus, and then walking back to, UofL for an afternoon class, then at 3:00 walking back over here to play ball, and then went back home at 5:00, came back at 6:00 or at 7:00, played ball, and walked back at 9:00. So it was a lot of walking back then. I remember, you know-- I remember one time I think it was-- it was eight trips over and back to the Cabbage Patch in one day, because I remember I used to say things like, "I've got to do a better plan" because I would play ball so intensely and of course, with-- with my bad knees. I used to transfer the shock and the strain from my lower leg to my upper leg. And-- and I remember walking home and somewhere around Third and Magnolia, I had to sit on the curbstone of people's front yards because my thighs would cramp up. Just so much running and jumping, and I guess walking back and forth to the Cabbage Patch, and I can remember sitting there doubling over, massaging my thighs, saying "I'll never make it home. Next day, I've got to get a better plan, not to walk so much to the Cabbage Patch, you know, better scheduling I guess. Because I remember that it was a lot of walking back and forth. It got to the point, I used to count the lines, I used to count my steps. It was always mind games to-- to get to the Cabbage Patch. And I remember for a while, my brother and I used to walk in different directions. We'd kind of almost like see if we could come out at [unclear] at the same time. He would go down Burnet and up Fourth, up Hill Street. And I would go down Burnett and up Magnolia. And we'd see if we'd come up the same place. And all these little games-- I think we got so-- we got so tired of walking over to the Cabbage Patch. I mean, I guess for a month, we didn't miss a day coming over here.

Keith Cardwell [00:15:34] What do you remember about Miss Marshall, from your early days here as a student in college, and--

Roosevelt Chin [00:15:42] Well even before that, the first introduction was her at this front door watching us sign our names. And I remember she would always comment on me and how good my penmanship was. And there again, I get that all the time, because I think people who first see me think I'm straight over from China and had no idea "How-- how could he learn to write so well, you know, in the few months he's been here?" Well, I was born here. They don't know that. Because I remember Miss Marshall used to get at the-- some of the kids, and she'd say, "Well, look how good Roosevelt signs his name!" And I would-- I thought at that time I had a grown up looking handwriting. And I remember her complimenting, on it. I remember she always wore a black coat with a little brown fur collar, and she always wore gloves. And she was kind of-- I wouldn't-- I don't want to say imposing-- she was kind of-- I don't wanna say it in these words-- she was almost witch looking, you know, we were kind of scared of her like, you know, she was-- she didn't raise her voice or [unclear] just her-- her demeanor. I think she she knew what she was doing and she knew she was in charge of the place, she knew it was her place, you know. And I think it came across that even though she was-- well, I guess she was old then-- even though she was an old lady, you didn't cross your path. I remember that. Seeing her just from the side door here, if you came in, I remember another kid who could really shoot basketball. And he used to always walk up to me and say, "Wanna play me a game?" Because I think he wanted to show me that he could out-shoot me. And that was one of my strengths. I thought I could out-shoot everybody else. And I remember for a long time, for months, we would just shoot baskets, I'd say, "No, I just want to warm up, I got the next game." And we would shoot. And I'd throw him the ball and he'd shoot, and he'd throw me the ball and I'd shoot and we never would competitively go one on one. And he was a good shot. And I remember one day he asked me-- one Saturday morning, we used to be open on Saturday, he said, "I have to leave. I've got some work to do." And we had gotten pretty good friends, mainly because of our basketball. And he said, "You want to come along with me?" And what we did was we walked over to Fourth and Ormsby where Miss Marshall lived. Of course, I had no idea that's where she lived. And this was Gary Schaffer, who later became the head coach at Pleasure Ridge Park high school, and Gary's job was to empty Miss Marshall's garbage cans. She had a three story house that her father left her, and she roomed it out. And that was Gary's job, to empty the garbage can, and I went. I went with him. I remember the first day I didn't really help much. I just followed him around, but he seemed to know Miss Marshall really well, and knew where everything was in the house and-- because he had done it before. And I remember one time he couldn't go, so I went by myself because I had already gone there four or five Saturdays, and Miss Marshall asked me where Gary was, and I told her Gary had to play ball or something, and I told her I would do what Gary did, and I emptied her waste basket, you know, pick everything out in the back. They didn't have plastic garbage bags and I think then, she had-- everything had to be wrapped in newspapers and stuffed into the metal garbage can out in the alley. And, I remember two or three time, going on my own because Gary couldn't make it. And that was the first time I remember helping Miss Marshall. So then the next time she would see me at the Cabbage Patch, she would ask me to do things for her, carry this into the gym, or take this sign-up sheet to-- there was another guy working at the game room who was a, I don't wanna say a cripple, he had polio. His name was Donnie Beckhart. I don't know if he was a student working there part time, but I remember running errands for Miss Marshall, giving things to Donnie Beckhart. Clipboards and sign-up paper, probably because it was hard for Donald to get up, being a cripple. And he would sit in the game room at one of the benches, and it was me-- it was my job to run over there and resupply him with sign up sheets or whatever, and Miss Marshall used to give me directions on what to take him and explain how to tell him what to do. That I remember. Going to her house I remember very well. And her in this front hall. Those were probably the most vivid of my introductions to her.

Keith Cardwell [00:19:52] What-- what was her house like?

Roosevelt Chin [00:19:54] Oh it was a mansion. It was three story brick, much like ours at the-- on First and Hill, except Ormsby looked a little more expensive. The trees were bigger. There was a nice looking car. Of the course the Puritan was right there in the corner. And you-- you knew you were going into a nicer neighborhood. Much like the way you would feel when you're right over by Cherokee Park. You just knew there was a lot more-- a lot more money in that neighborhood than the one I was coming from. And I remember walking. We would always cut through Central Park to get there. I guess we went from here to Fourth and Park Avenue, which would be diagonally across Central Park and then right up Fourth Street-- right up Fourth Street to Ormsby, and her house was the third or fourth one from the corner. I don't remember much about Central Park, except that it was very wooded. I remember the slopes of the park that slope down to the street were just full of underbrush and full of big bushes, because we used to see winos sitting in the bushes and drinking their wine, and it was always a little scary to walk through that park until you passed and got into the open field.

Keith Cardwell [00:21:18] What was the area around Sixth Street like at that time?

Roosevelt Chin [00:21:24] I remember everybody lived there because all my friends that I met here all lived-- you know, Gary Shafer was around the corner, and his two, three buddies that-- that played ball with us was next door to him. I remember, one of the girls that came out here lived right on the street. She was here all the time. I remember, another good ball player down the street. So everyone that-- that was a good ballplayer lived somewhere right within a block of here. At least, I thought they lived within a block. And, it was all families, and if not-- they weren't rooming-- rooming houses. Everyone owned their house. I remember the sidewalks. There were all these little hexagon bricks. I guess it's not hexagons, maybe octagons, eight sides, those little-- funny little bricks, because that always bothered me with my trick knee. You know, every time I walked, I had to be very careful because they were all uneven, you know, as the roots grew up underneath them. And I can remember the outstanding thing of walking in that neighborhood, especially down Magnolia was be careful for those things. I didn't want to knock my leg out unless I was playing basketball. I didn't want to be injured on the way to the gym. And I remember this neighborhood because of that. And I remember we used to wait to play baseball, and we would always bang our bats on the ground and I remember we'd end up cracking these blocks, which we knew we weren't supposed to do.

Keith Cardwell [00:22:51] Do you have any unpleasant memories of the neighborhood [unclear] first, where you lived or over in this--

Roosevelt Chin [00:22:58] No, I remember a couple of big fights between kids from Cabbage Patch that would carry over into the park, and I-- because that was the direction I went home, down Magnolia, and I would kind of halfway pretend I was going home, but I would take a good look at the fight before I went on, and they were usually people I knew and people that-- and I was kind of scared them, they're going to instill that intimidation factor. The ones that didn't play ball I was scared of.

Keith Cardwell [00:23:26] You said there were fights that were carried over from the cabbage patch. They would get angry at each other here. And then go outside and fight it out.

Roosevelt Chin [00:23:32] Right. Now, I was already aware of, you know, cuss words and things like that from living in downtown, but I wasn't aware of the actual physically hitting and kicking and people jumping in and hitting while you were down, that type of thing. I remember two or three big fights over in Central Park. I remember Mr. Redman was the one that straightened-- that put the fear in everybody to not fight. Just from his bigness and his voice. But I don't remember any direct dealings with Redman as far as, this thing, except one time, the only time I've ever been put out of Cabbage Patch was-- Mr. Redman-- There was one of those tournaments we had here and there again, I remember. We finally invited Saint Louis Bertrand, some of the Catholic teams to be in our tournament and it was between games and the next team, was out warming up, and I think my team playing for Redman had just finished. And I always had this perception, you know, I was one of the star players. They couldn't do anything to me. So I ran out and took some some one handers out there, or I guess [unclear] shots back then, when I wasn't supposed to go, because the next team was supposed to have the floor. And I remember Redman hollering, he called me Dutchman, and he had said "Dutchman get off the floor." I had my shoes on and everything, which was a no-no back then. And I remember, of course all my teammates were sitting around and-- and all the next teams are coming up, and I think it was my way to show, hey, this kid can hit, you know, I was standing there just shooting away. And I wasn't even supposed to be there and the other team was out warming up and, I remember Redman finally walked up and he had a lanyard or I guess a leather thing on his whistle, and he whipped that thing, and he slashed me across the back of my thighs. And he said, "Get out of this gym if you can't do what you're told." And I remember that was the only-- one and only time I ever been put out of Cabbage Patch.

Keith Cardwell [00:25:19] What year was that?

Roosevelt Chin [00:25:20] I guess I was about eighteen, nineteen, freshman in college or something like that.

Keith Cardwell [00:25:26] Why did they to call you Dutchman?

Roosevelt Chin [00:25:29] I think because-- I can't remember this but just from-- just from, deduction, I think he called me Chinaman one time, and I think I corrected him because I'd done that before. Chinaman is a slur word for the Chinese. It's like "nigger." And if you call me a Chinese, I didn't mind. You know, a kid from China, didn't matter. But if you called me Chinaman, it was a slur word. And I remember I was always correcting people. Of course, the war had just been over. And the only kind of discrimination we used to get were the people who say, "Chink, chink, Chinaman," as we walked by, or they'd say-- they'd blame us for starting the war thinking we were Japanese? I said, when we were very little living downtown they required us to wear a little emblem that had a cross flag of a China flag, and American flag, just to let people know, "Hey, I'm Chinese, I'm not Japanese. I'm not the one that started the war." Because now they've-- the revelations is that all the Japanese were sent to encampments in California, but that was unbeknownst to us in this part of the United States. That was out in the West coast where all the Orientals were. And, I'm sure it was in the papers. I just wasn't-- at my age I wasn't reading-- I wasn't reading the world news. But they used to require us to wear a Chinese and American type of emblem. We hated to wear them. But I think Redman in a slip of the tongue must have called me Chinaman. And I must have took him aside and say, "Hey, don't ever call me that again," because I remember saying that to other people who would make the mistake, and I remember correcting teachers who would say, you know-- and you know-- "And the Chinaman came over," and they would give them a history lesson, or we were talking about the war, current events, and I would later walk up. I was very diligent about that. "Pardon me, but, you know, [unclear] be called Chinaman and I would say the same thing, I've just been saying years. "You call me Chinese or call me a Chinese person or boy from China. But don't call me Chinaman." And I must have said that to Redman, because as a way to remember not to do that, he started calling me Dutchman. Yeah, I think that's where it-- and the other kids didn't pick it up for that reason. They just heard Redman call me Dutchman. A lot of kids that I grew up with called me Dutch or Dutchman. Because I remember they'd say, "Hey, Dutch can really shoot," you know, using that name, as the terms of endearment. That and they called me Rosie because my first name is Roosevelt. Or else they'd called me-- there was one more they used to call me. Rosie, Dutch and Chino. They'd call me Chino. An ode to my last name. So that-- I think that was the way-- reason Redman called me a Dutchman. Although I can't remember the actual time when I walked up and corrected him.

Keith Cardwell [00:28:15] I want to move on to-- to talk a little bit more about your college. You went to U of L. Started in 52.

Roosevelt Chin [00:28:22] Yeah. And I should have got out in 55, but I didn't. I got to working here. I remember running out of money because at that time my brother was going to UK, my sister was going to Syracuse, and my other sister was going to a Catholic university in Washington. In fact, all six Chins had gotten college degrees so I was the one that was latest when my father left us. And so money was getting scarce. All these people going away to college. And I remember since I was working and I was in town, you know, I could go with less money than anybody else. You know, "Roosevelt can always make his own money." So I remember working here more and more increasingly and taking a smaller load at University of Louisville. So I really didn't-- I almost quit college, I think. I guess by the time-- by the time in 55, when I should have graduated, I had been-- I wasn't going to college because I remember saying, "Oh, my class is graduating. I should be graduating." So I remember telling Miss Marshall that I think I should be in art because I had always like art. I'd always been interested in it, even though I was pre-med at the University of Louisville and doing hard work, you know? They threw me in taking calculus, taking biology, taking chemistry without really a good background in high school, because in high school, I was in art. I took a lot of freehand art, I took a lot of mechanical drawing and things like that. But there again, I think it's that old thing where the-- where the mother and father, wants their sons to be lawyers and doctors. [END OF SESSION]

Keith Cardwell [00:30:05] My name is Keith Cardwell and we're at the Cabbage Patch. Tape number three of the interview with Roosevelt Chin.

Roosevelt Chin [00:30:13] And there was that feeling that he had just gotten his degree, and I thought he was bitching about the fact that I remember him presenting things to Miss Marshall, that he-- he would stay if we would provide some kind of counseling office for him so he can utilize some of this training. And I think that-- I think Miss Marshall turned that idea down, that had something to do with us. There was some kind of falling out, not a complete falling out, but there was some kind of disagreement between Cooksey and Miss Marshall, regarding a, I don't know-- a particular house or something that was for Cooksey's mother or something. She had done something for them or something. And there again, you know, the details never really emerged. And then there was the turmoil that was going on here with Cooksey, Dietsch and Chin, the triumphant couldn't always agree, and everyone just had their own way. And there was sort of like a almost like a team struggle, because when you have three and you have to vote, there's always gonna be one person that balances a unanimous vote, you know, and more often than not, Cooksey- Cooksey and I would side on one side and there was Dietsch on the other side. And that made it kind of difficult. And the more that happened, the more Dietsch felt like we were stacking up the odds against them. And that would require him to counteract by coming up with policies that say, "Hey, you two can't do this, the policy's this and this," you know? And then we would feel like he railroad what the policy is just to kind counteract the fact that we voted against it. So all those circumstances kind of add together. And it was a sudden-- there was a sudden announcement that he was getting married and he was leaving. [unclear]. And, although I don't-- I don't sense-- I don't sense a, deterioration of Cooksey's feel for the Cabbage Patch. I think it just the question of availability. He was just so involved with his doctoring career. Of course, he had the family. Now of course, all the major events, he's able to-- he was able to make at least an appearance. So I think falling out wouldn't be an accurate description. It was just that he-- after all this happened, he just wasn't available. It just-- there was nothing [unclear]. So that-- that was the period that was really, you know-- it was the low point of the Cabbage Patch, the way I saw it, that from here on out, we almost had to go up. You know, I think that kind of changed from that point on, and that would be-- that would be the late 70s, early 80s, I guess.

Keith Cardwell [00:32:58] Whose idea was it to hire, I'm not sure what his-- what his title is the-- the director?

Roosevelt Chin [00:33:05] The executive director.

Keith Cardwell [00:33:06] The executive director.

Roosevelt Chin [00:33:09] There again. The staff itself was not privy to how those descisions were made. Not-- number one, before it was made, Miss Marshall did it, so she wasn't going to tell us why she did it, you know. And then, number two, in all this turmoil, we weren't included in any decision making. After all, we were the problem. So you never ask the person, you know, the ones that involve the problem, how they solve it, because if they knew, we would've taken care of it ourselves. So I think it was just that-- I think it-- and there again, some of the other staff members have personally told me that-- we think the-- that the executive director was chosen before the offer to solve the problem was brought out. It was one of those things, you know, you already had the answer. I'm going to let them know "Hey, you got the problem, I've got a way to solve it," and the answer shows up. And so we think somewhere along the way the-- it was done backwards, that even though there was a job search and there was a lot of interviews, we think that-- we think the solution was already either stumbled upon or reached in agreement with the board before it was let out that it was going to happen. Does that make sense?

Keith Cardwell [00:34:21] Yeah. What were your feelings through this?

Roosevelt Chin [00:34:25] I think the overall feeling was my loyalty to the Cabbage Patch was so great that no matter what happened, I knew it had to happen or the Cabbage Patch would fall apart. Cooksey had already left. Dietsch and I were at odds. Staff members from the secretaries on down to the janitors were having problems with the way things were going. There again, they were all the same mold, you know, "Run to Miss Marshall when things that didn't go right." Now, you couldn't do that. A lot of volunteers were beginning to feel that way. "This didn't happen when Miss Mashall was around," that type of attitude. And you could just see it, and you could feel it. The tension and the stress. So no matter what happened, it was almost a relief to me, I think that the "Hey, there's finally, someone stepping in and doing something about it," and that's when we had that change of guard. So I was kind of-- my feeling was, "What took you so long?" Even though I may not agree with the solution, I wasn't going to speak up and rock the boat because I was the one that was saying, "Hey, get me a boat." You know, I didn't care if it was rocking or not. So I think any kind of decision they made, I was ready for it. And, I really, honestly feel like Dietsch was ready for it. I think Dietsch could sense, "Hey, it's not as easy as I thought it was." You know, it was discussed on him, you know, he didn't have any prior training either. You know, Miss Marshall didn't tell him anything extra that-- how she was doing things. So I think-- I think it kind of relieved pressure off of him because he was trying to satisfy not only staff, but the board at the same time. And the whole time he was trying to go through the transition himself. And so I think, in all, those two were the two areas left where Cooksey had already removed himself. And I think that there's almost a sense of relief or a sense of, "I'm glad it's happening." Something had to happen.

Keith Cardwell [00:36:21] What's your perception of the Cabbage Patch now?

Roosevelt Chin [00:36:27] I think we're back on course. There again, there are still-- there are still methods that I'm not in total agreement with. But there again it's like saying, "The boat is still rocking." But I'm just so glad that there is a boat, you know, that, you know, I'm willing to ignore the rocking, knowing that the boat is there. So I'm-- there's some things I see that I would say, "Well, I don't think Miss Marshall would do it this way," but I think the philosophy and the mission of the Cabbage Patch is back on course again. You know, I feel that-- I'm beginning to feel the same feel I had before when Marshall-- Miss Marshall was running it. The loyalty that kids have for the Cabbage Patch, the variety of activities, the-- the staff that is hard work-- or rather, they care about the kids rather than whether they have the talents, although we like to have both, you know-- the emphasis on caring about the person, the client, rather than caring whether your activities are super or whether your activities are, over 100 people, you know. The important thing is whether you're reaching the individuals. And I'm beginning to see that emerging again. But in the floundering years, I don't think it was. So I think the transition has been nothing but positive all the way around, you know, because I sense a-- I sense a change in Dietsch definitely, and of course, you-- I'm sure he senses a change in me. A lot of the pressure has been released now because the third person isn't here now. And Tracy is-- Holladay is sort of like a new person on the block, so he has a whole new perspective. He's not caught in the Miss Marshall Syndrome that we were in, although he has caught on very quickly on that Miss Marshall permeates everything-- everything we've done around here. You can't you can't escape her, you know, I don't wanna use the word ghost, but you can't-- you can't escape her presence here. Because even though most of her friends and most of her contemporaries have passed away, there are enough of the second generation that are coming around who also had-- were touched by her. So they know what the Cabbage Patch stands for. There's two or three board members who were camp counselors here who came to Sewing School as volunteers, or came as the children. So they keep the Miss Marshall philosophy alive. In fact, when you sit around talking to some of the board members, Miss Marshall's name pops up all the time. So the transition has been good, it was needed, and I think it put us back on course.

Keith Cardwell [00:39:01] The power now, held by the board, or held by Tracy, or kind of a mixture--

Roosevelt Chin [00:39:10] Yeah, you don't sense that-- I don't sense that anymore. I think there's enough-- enough built in policy that this will never happen again. It's not going to be-- who was it-- one board member told me, Montgomery Ward was so, insistent on the way Montgomery Wards were run-- I don't know if you're familiar with Montgomery Ward. There's only one, two or three left now in New York and in Chicago, but they used be all over the place, sort of like Sears and Woolworth. And it was dying. They just couldn't-- they couldn't get in the black. And the reason was, the man who started the thing kept insisting on running it with 1930 philosophy, and they finally had to bodily remove him from the office, trying to save the company. And I think we have got enough things written for our policy that it can't happen that way where one person makes all the decision, one person-- to sink or swim on their decision. I think the board has had enough, turnovers so there's enough of a mixture. In fact, the old board members are no longer around. But we have-- we have gotten a new old board members, the ones who were here at the floundering era and the ones who are just stepping in now and seeing everything, working so nice. And so they're kind of-- the ones that went through this transition period are kind of taking the newer ones underway. You know, they've become the veterans now. And I think there are enough things tied into the-- into the way the board is elected. I think now they've got it where you don't just serve the rest of your life in the way Miss Marshall's friends, you know-- some of-- some of Miss Marshall's people, they were on the board as long as I can remember. I think that's no longer possible. And there's all kinds of committees now. Budget committees, long range planning committees, and building and grounds committee, so everything is thought out of-- thought out before it's acted upon, whereas before it was just done on a whim. But I think with both built-in safety precautions, nothing can really-- well you can't say nothing, but the chances of something happening like that, it is lessened, you know, but with this recent Reagan thing, you can never tell who's doing what, in their own department. But I think there are enough safeguards that one person can't just dictate what's going to happen around here.

Keith Cardwell [00:41:28] I want to shift back to another focus for just a few minutes. Just have some general questions that maybe you might have some-- some knowledge on. One is, where the Cabbage Patch Settlement House got its name.

Roosevelt Chin [00:41:49] The way I explain it to the groups that I talk to and the-- and the group I take around the tour, the name, "Cabbage Patch," preceded the settlement house. The Cabbage Patch was named because the neighborhood grew a lot of cabbages, probably because the River limestone in the-- in the ground or whatever it was, there was a lot of, the term, "truck farming." I don't know why it's called truck farming, except the fact that I think, they didn't grow it for the big wholesale produce places, they just grew it to sell on their own, they would truck it down to what they called the Haymarket. And what they had these farmer's markets, you know, where people pull their truck up with whatever little things they've grown and they would just sell them to people, as opposed to selling it to the Kroger or selling it to the Del Monte or whatever big, growers there were. But I think the neighborhood was called Cabbage Patch, much like Limerick, Saint Matthews, Shively, Beuchel. And then when we started in 1910, Miss Marshall had a board of directors set up on the advice of her father, who was a lawyer, so that Miss Marshall would be-- wouldn't be the sole person responsible for whatever funds she sent. Her advice was, "You gather up some of your friends that are interested and form a board of directors," so that the decision is a group decision, and not just Miss Marshall's own decision. So among her very first charter members was Alan Hegan Rice, who wrote the book "Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch," and I think she wrote it in 1901. And the Cabbage Patch began in 1910. So it had ten years of exposure in that book, she wrote. And now I-- from what I can tell, it really got popular. It was, you know, a bestseller. It was in seven languages. There's been a couple of movies made of it. It's been a Broadway play, and, it was required reading in some of the elementary schools. So when they came around to naming the place, it was almost a certainty since Rice was on the board, she was the famous person, the neighborhood had gotten famous because of the book, we were in that neighborhood. It led up to calling it the Cabbage Patch Settlement House. But we didn't-- we didn't invent that phrase, "Cabbage Patch," and Mrs. Rice didn't invent "Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch." This was already Cabbage Patch before it was started.

Keith Cardwell [00:44:15] At one time, they changed the name from Cabbage Patch to Ninth and Hill.

Roosevelt Chin [00:44:24] I'm not aware of that.

Keith Cardwell [00:44:26] Okay.

Roosevelt Chin [00:44:27] Changed what Cabbage Patch to Ninth and Hill?

Keith Cardwell [00:44:28] Cabbage Patch settlement house. It was changed to Ninth and Hill--

Roosevelt Chin [00:44:35] I'm not aware of that.

Keith Cardwell [00:44:35] --Settlement House. And I haven't been able to find out why and then why they changed it back.

Roosevelt Chin [00:44:39] I know there were three Cabbage Patches. One was on Seventh and Jordan, I think a little cottage by, a-- by a standard plumbing company, [unclear].

Keith Cardwell [00:44:52] You mentioned in-- in the tape last week, that as a child you had gone to the neighborhood house. Right. That was also a settlement house.

Roosevelt Chin [00:45:04] You know, I didn't really know of a settlement house until I came to the Cabbage Patch. We called it "neighborhood house," but I don't know the official name of it. I don't know if it was a community center or what. And it was on first and-- I think first and Liberty or First and Walnut, and I remember later on, it moved out to 22nd and Kentucky or somewhere out in that Midwest end, that I've never heard about too.

Keith Cardwell [00:45:35] Okay. What were some of the, just briefly, some of the activities that you remember.

Roosevelt Chin [00:45:41] Playing basketball in their back concrete yard. And that was the only goal available to us-- available to us, when we lived in town. And I remember that and I remember, an arts and crafts project where we painted these little plaster molds. We got there one of Abraham Lincoln and that-- that's the only thing I remember.

Keith Cardwell [00:46:02] What year was this?

Roosevelt Chin [00:46:04] Gee, this would have to be in the early 40s. But I guess if the war was what, between 40 and 45-- it was probably before the war. I was born in 33. So from 33 to 40, I would've been what, seven years old? So it was half-- it was between 40 and 45, because I know I was old enough to play basketball. I don't think I played basketball when I was seven.

Keith Cardwell [00:46:31] If you had to sum up in one paragraph or a couple of sentences the effects that the Cabbage Patch, has had on your life.

Roosevelt Chin [00:46:39] Yeah.

Keith Cardwell [00:46:39] What would that--

Roosevelt Chin [00:46:40] Yeah, it was unique in the sense that not only my life, my whole family's life-- my whole family had been involved with Cabage Patch. My older sister is now in a nursing home. Often wrote to Miss Marshall through me, because Miss Marshall was always giving me things to take home to my sister, who would be home from Washington, D.C., and there would be a potted plant, there would be a box of candy or something. And of course, that would mean that my sister had to write a thank you letter back to Miss Marshall. And when she had-- my sister had her stroke, Miss Marshall was the one that stepped in and got her in the apartment at-- [unclear] while she had her recuperation. My next sister had some mental illness, and she had a problem. And without central state for a while. And Miss Marshall tried to get her to come and do some volunteer work. And Miss Marshall had the feeling that if you just cared enough about a person, you can change it. And her idea was, "If I can just get your sister here and get her involved, she would forget about her own problems. She would forget about her own-- her own situation, and she tried to get her to come and do filing, do typing and so forth. My sister, I think the closest she got was the front porch, and somehow she would get out of it some way. And then while she was in the hospital, the weekends that I would bring her in, Miss Marshall would always call and say, "Hey, I'm going out to dinner, won't you see if your sister would come along?" She was really interested in helping. Helping my family. My third sister went through a divorce. Miss Marshall got her son to come to the Cabbage Patch and involved him in the day care. And later on, he helped rent the second floor of his church around the corner so my sister and her little son could live there. And, the little boy eventually went to the camping program and the teenage activity and now lives out in California. And so Miss Marshall had something to do with my third sister. My fourth sister, the youngest one, had nothing to do with Miss Marshall, but she came to some of the dances and met a Cabbage Patch boy and that's-- they've been married for all these years, and that's through the Cabbage Patch. So all four sisters had some involvement in the Cabbage Patch. Then my brother, of course, came here first and took me over here and later on became a state senator. And he was able to-- to provide some services for-- for Cabbage Patch, you know, as far as getting the-- a change of parking signs, he would make the right call to City Hall, you know, that type of thing. And, I think he was able to get some jobs for some of the teenagers too through his connections, the same thing. So every member of our family, other than my mother. My mother was-- was, unable to hear, she had some ear problems. Consequently, she didn't speak fluent English. So 2 or 3 times Miss Marshall just made me take Miss Marshall over to my house on First and Hill, so Miss Marshall could just walk up and hug my mother, or just hand her a pot of the valley or something. So Miss Marshall felt that she needed to know my mother more, but I was always there separating them, saying, "Hey, my mother can't go out [unclear], she doesn't even know how to dress." She wasn't, you know, she was the old country type of person. She can't make a conversation. How can you-- you know, I was just too embarrassed to have both of them really get to know each other too well. And, I-- Miss Marshall would almost insist as I was taking her home, "You jump in my house. I want to give this flower to your mother." So they met 2 or 3 times that way. So of all the whole family, I guess my mother and Miss Marshall knew less of each other than any of the family. And then as far as me, you know, from the time I can-- 13 on up, everything I've done has been some kind of prodding or reprimand from Miss Marshall. You know, when I was first coming around here, I was I was quite wild, having grown up in town. You know, there was some beer drinking, there was some fights and there was some gambling on using my basketball talents. We'd go to the park and play horse, and you know, I'd clean up, you know, we played 21 and so forth. I remember her telling me, she sat down and explained to me that, you know, "God gives you this talent and you're abusing it by gambling with it, by, you know, all the people you run out," and it really changed me over, and plus the threat of, "You know, I can't usually around here, if you're gonna be that type of a person," you know, and my attachment to the Cabbage Patch was so strong that it would-- it would change my behavior. And then there again, with the school thing about not knowing whether I wanted to work at the Cabbage Patch or go away to art school. She were very, very strong in the sense that she didn't say no, because if she had said no, I think I would have done it anyway just to say-- to express my own independence. It was her, "Well, you go ahead and try it then," you know-- you know, "I agree with you," You know, "rest your life you'll be wondering if you could-- if you can be a commercial artist," you know, "I'll get-- I'll call up some of my friends," and she starts calling-- she knew a Mister Gilmore at General Electric, "Oh, I have a boy here that's really talented, and he wants to see if he can get in the commercial field, will you take him under his wing?" You know and then-- "Wait Miss Marshall, slow down," you know, she was ready for me to leave, you know, and that was her-- that was her-- her way of dealing with it. You know, "If you want to go out and try it, you got my blessing. Here. I'll even buy you a bus ticket." You know, that type of thing. And she almost forced me not to back out on the expression of, "Hey, I want to try some art." And that sort of made me go to New York. And then, there again, after that first transition of getting my undergrad-- graduate degree, she finally said, "Hey, we need a better staff. When I leave here," meaning when she-- when she died, "I want to have a professional staff, a social worker here, I want to have this here, I want to have this here." And she said "I want you back at Kent School, picking up that degree." I think I went back there in 69 and picked up the master’s degree. So almost every phase of my life, and my family, you know, has been touched by Miss Marshall.

Keith Cardwell [00:52:39] Did she help you out financially to pay for the college and--

Roosevelt Chin [00:52:44] No, she didn't, not at all, other than of course encouragement and providing opportunities. When I was at, University of Louisville, some of my hours didn't fit what was going on here. So she would almost create some janitorial work for me or some filing that I could do at an odd hour so that I can get enough hours in to make enough money to go to school. No, but I paid for it all myself. But the opportunities were only there because she worked it around. You know, if it was just a question of "Can I work here?" At what was required, I wouldn't have been able to accept the job, so she was able to give the late hours and hook me up. But as far as financial, no.

Keith Cardwell [00:53:29] Okay--

Roosevelt Chin [00:53:35] Although I strongly feel that she would have if I had asked, but I was never in that position to have to have it.

Keith Cardwell [00:53:44] What knowledge do you have of the daycare? It's beginnings.

Roosevelt Chin [00:53:52] I only was involved because my family used it. I had an aunt who worked here for about ten years in the office, and she lived on the third floor of our house on First Street. And her three children, all came to the daycare. And, so I was involved in that respect, that on certain days I was the one to pick them up and take them back home to First Street, and then later on, my sister had her children, her child I mean, and of course, Nancy Lawson, who ran it for all these years, was on our staff and she and I got along very well together, probably because she knew my nephew [unclear]. And, so I was always up there more so probably than Cooksey or Dietsch. I think the only other reason any of the staff would go up there would be to get some food from the daycare kitchen. But as far as the dealings with the children, there wasn't a whole lot of anything going on except with me and my-- and my little bit.

Keith Cardwell [00:54:58] When you first became involved with the Cabbage Patch, the daycare was already here?

Roosevelt Chin [00:55:02] Yeah, but the only other thing that I did that the other staff didn't do, there were some-- I don't-- heaven knows if it's still there or not, but there were a lot of Mother Goose drawings on the-- on the walls up there, and being the artist, I was always asked to retouch them and freshen up the paint. I did that maybe two or three times, so I was involved in daycare in that-- in that respect. But, historically, I have no idea how it began or how they funded it or who paid what or [unclear]. Which brings to mind, that Miss Lawson maybe had given the interview. She'd been here for thirty-some-odd years. In fact, her granddaughter just sent me a invitation to her wedding. And her granddaughter never-- I've never met the girl, but there was a family problem and the Cabbage Patch was very, very instrumental in helping Miss Lawson solve that problem. So I think she feels very, very close to us.

Keith Cardwell [00:56:08] What about the clinic? The well-baby clinic.

Roosevelt Chin [00:56:13] That preceded me. Cooksey used to go that that well baby clinic, that's what he told me. He was the only one that came here as a, well, preschooler type. Dietsch didn't emerge here and I didn't emerge until high school days. It was Cooksey who was here all before. Now that's just the term I hear Miss Marshall and Cooksey talk about all, such a-- it's such a funny term, because it seems backwards to me. You thinking the baby-- it wouldn't be well baby, if baby isn't well. You know, it's sort of like a turned around phrase. But I heard that term all the years. The well-baby clinic. [unclear]. People don't use that term anymore.

Keith Cardwell [00:56:55] Are there any other areas that you have knowledge of that we might could cover briefly. We skipped basically the 70s as far as activities go.

Roosevelt Chin [00:57:10] You know, the 70s was-- see, by that-- by the 70s, I was here quite a long time now. It was then starting to become the in a rut type of thing. We were doing the same old activity, it was-- you know, I-- when I finally stopped doing day camp as such, you know, it was 26 years in a row of the same game site, you know, you just got to the point where, you almost did it in your sleep, you know, you didn't really have to come up with anything. We finally left that camp and Napier came on and we've done other things now, but we'd camp at Versailles, you know, 22 years in a row, you know and I didn't miss it once, you know. And, so in the 70s, it was almost-- when I look back at some of those years, it was almost meshed into one day, you know, you just can't-- the trips become regular. The out-of-town trips every year, we'd pick some place to go that was, you know, kind of big, Saint Louis or Chicago or somewhere. And after a while you can't remember which year went-- where you went to which one. But it wasn't the new approach type of activity, but it was fresh in your mind because it was something you pioneered or something that really caught on. This was that, that has all happened and we just kept continuing it. So that-- there's nothing in the 70s that really stands out except Napier coming on as a part time from the University of Louisville and introducing us to backpacking and to a different type of concept of camping.

Keith Cardwell [00:58:41] Okay. Who was-- who was Napier?

Roosevelt Chin [00:58:43] Rod Napier was a Cabbage Patcher who grew up around here and participated in some of my activities. And then after Miss Marshall, well, he-- he reintroduced himself because he had a class at the University of Louisville, and he thought it would be a good way for them to get hands on experience by requiring them to do volunteer work at different agencies, and of course the Cabbage Patch was brought up. So we saw Napier for three or four summers where he would come and just help us with camp or during the fall, bring students over here to help us run some activities. So then when the transition period came about, after Miss Marshall left, he was a-- they had-- some of the board members asked me, you know, "Well if Dietsch moves up into the front office or if Dietsch moves out of the front office, who would you suggest taking Dietsch's place?" You know, and the natural progression would've been Cooksey but Cooksey was gone too. So I remember suggesting Napier. So when Napier came in, I guess the early 80s, Dietsch was executive director. Napier moved into head of activities. And Napier had already grown up here, already known Miss Marshall, knew our philosophy. Then there was a time when he was going—

[END OF RECORDING]

Citation

Chin, Roosevelt, 1933-2007 and Cardwell, Keith, “Interview with Roosevelt Chin, Part 2 of 2, March 1987,” The Filson Historical Society Digital Projects, accessed July 16, 2024, https://filsonhistorical.omeka.net/items/show/7009.

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