African American Studies
Interviewees: Gloria and Adrian Best
Interviewers: Dr. Mark Naison
Date of Interview: July 1, 2003
Summarized by Alice Stryker
Gloria Best lived in the Bronx for most of her life and lived in Manhattan only for a short while when she was a child. When she moved back to the Bronx, she was 12 years old and moved to Union Avenue. She attended Morris High School and attended Zion Apostolic. Morris High School as well as the neighborhood she lived in at the time were predominately white.
Her husband was in the military and when they initially got married they moved into the Quonset Houses. Shortly thereafter, the couple moved into the Patterson Houses. At this time, the residents were very excited to be living there. It was seen as a step up in the world. There were a lot of young families living there and many civil servants and veterans. Adrian remembers how much music was incorporated into the lives of the people living in these houses. He also remembers the games he and the other children used to play, like cowboys and Indians. Adrian began playing instruments when he was younger and was very influenced by his father, who played the sax. He had a music teacher in Junior High that really encouraged him to play the trumpet.
Both Gloria and Adrian talk about the huge amount of respect children had for their parents and all adults in general. Teachers were very stern with the trouble makers and parents respected the opinions of the teachers. Gloria and Adrian both agree, though, that the situation today is not the same. Children are not nearly as respectful as they were in the 1950’s. Both believe drugs caused this downfall.
Adrian attended Samuel Gompers High School and after graduation joined the Air Force. He was stationed in Guam during the Vietnam war. He experienced discrimination in the Air Force, and when he returned to the US, he had an increased political awareness. He believed that he needed to use his artistic talent to make social changes. When he was in the service, he and others formed a Black Discussion group and put on a production of The Day of Absence. He had done some acting in high school, but when he returned from the war, he really wanted to pursue it as a career.
Adrian got married and he and he wife moved to the South Bronx. There, they witnessed the initial formation of Hip Hop. His children experienced it more than he did, however. However, when it came time to send his children to Junior High School, Adrian began to notice things getting worse in the Bronx and at that point the family moved to New Jersey. The conversation then shifts to the problems with the community and young people in the Bronx today. Both Gloria and Adrian put forth theories as to why there are drugs and crime in the Bronx today.
Gloria and Adrian Best, July 1st 2003, Interview with the Bronx African American History Project, BAAHP Digital Archive at Fordham University.
Click below to download supplemental content.Best, Adrian and Gloria.mp3 (81224 kB)