African American Studies
Interviewee: Ms. Olga Johnson
Interviewer: Dr. Mark Naison
Summarized by Alice Stryker
Olga Johnson is a long time resident of the Bronx and mother to the Bronx Attorney Robert Johnson. She moved to the Bronx with her family when she was younger fromManhattan. Her parents were originally from theWest Indies. They moved to many different apartment buildings when she was growing up. Close to the time she graduated high school, her family moved into a private home onJackson Avenue. She remembers this being a safe neighborhood. Her father was an elevator operator and her mother was a seamstress and a member of the ILGWU union. When she graduated high school in 1939 at 16 years old, she went to work in the garment industry as well making ladies girdles.
When Ms. Johnson was growing up, she used to go to the movies. Church did not play a big role in her life and went to the churches her friends went to. She didn’t stay in the garment industry for long though, because she passed her civil service exams.
She met her husband, although she doesn’t mention how, and in 1647 they were married. The couple stayed in her family’s house until their son Robert was born. She was not a good dancer, but her friends would take her to clubs. She also went to some of the famous Bronx clubs, likeRocklandPalaceand the Renaissance Ballroom, to watch basketball games. Her and her husband moved to the Amsterdam Houses. From there, she moved toMorrison Avenue. She felt very safe in this neighborhood. Her son Robert went toPowellMemorialHigh Schooland then transferred toMonroeHigh School. Robert enjoyed playing sports andGarywas more of an academic. For recreational activities, the family would go to sporting events atMadisonSquareGarden.
She has lived onMorrison Avenuewith her husband and feels as though the neighborhood is still safe. They discuss vacation possibilities.
Johnson, Olga. Interview with the Bronx African American History Project. BAAHP Digital Archive at Fordham University.
Click below to download supplemental content.Johnson, Olga.mp3 (72847 kB)