Interview with Fleta Blocker
Interview with Fleta Blocker
Interview with Fleta Blocker, conducted on 7/27/1995 by Dana Cooper. The interview is in two parts.
Oral History Item Type Metadata
Interview is in two parts. First part is 1:02:12 in length and the start contains a few seconds of silence. The second part also begins with a few seconds of silence and is 1:01:31 in length. The recording on the second side ends rather abruptly.
Fleta Blocker was born June 20, 1904 in Georgia the seventh of nine children. Her parents were born in South Carolina. Her father was a sanitation worker and her mother did home laundry. She school she went to only went up until ninth grade and after she stopped because her father was unwell. She was however allowed to come North with two sisters. She came to Bryn Mawr College with her sisters on a recommendation from a cook from Radnor who worked summers at a hotel in Wildwood. She almost wasn’t employed because she was too young. She claims that the first years she worked were great because she was treated with patience and was given a trial year before being completely accepted (hired). She was a bell maid in Radnor, which entailed answering the phone, putting up the mail, receiving guests, cleaning receiving rooms and the warden’s office. Students had everything scheduled, including meals and curfews. Her sisters were maids (cleaning rooms, making beds [each one would have their own hall or corridor] and sometimes would have dining hall duties) and dining hall workers. Her father passed in her second year at Bryn Mawr College, and she had to keep her job to help her family. The only outlet was church going. She was friends with other employees at Radnor. At the Maids' Bureau she learned how to do upholstery, however she worked night shifts and so rarely went. At Christmas she would go caroling with the maids and porters. She claims she felt no discrimination. She was at President McBride’s retirement and shared the stage as the employee who had worked the longest. She met Eleanor Roosevelt “a beautiful, beautiful person” as well as John and Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. Hilda Smith she described as“so gracious and so appreciative of service”. She mentions that the Summer School for Women Workers students were different from regular students because they were laboring, struggling people and this allowed for a more relatable friendship with Blocker. Blocker was awarded the Helen Taft Manning award- a silver bowl - for years of service. Blocker looks upon her years at Bryn Mawr fondly, considering herself lucky. It inspired her to travel the world and she visited many places, including England and also countries in Africa.
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“Interview with Fleta Blocker,” The Albert M. Greenfield Digital Center for the History of Women's Education, accessed August 11, 2020, http://greenfield.brynmawr.edu/items/show/1451.