DISBROW: This is July 19, 1973. Miss Eileen Harrison and Mrs. Disbrow are interviewing Mr. Moses Bass. Good morning Mr. Bass!

BASS: Yes?

DISBROW: Good morning!

BASS: Good morning!

DISBROW: How are you?

BASS: All right, very well, I got a lame back.

DISBROW: Oh, well, that’s too bad.

BASS: Yeah.

DISBROW: Well, I’m sorry about that. Would you, could you hold this in your hand, Mr. Bass?

BASS: Yes, ma’am.

DISBROW: That’s fine. And you just talk into that.

BASS: Oh yes.

DISBROW: Now Mr. Bass, were you born in Ypsilanti?

BASS: No ma’am, I was born in Chatham, Chatham, in Ontario.

DISBROW: Ontario. I see.

BASS: Uh-huh.

DISBROW: And then, did you come to Ypsilanti as a boy?

BASS: Yes, I was about seven years old.

DISBROW: Seven years old. And what your father’s name?

BASS: Samuel Bass.

DISBROW: Same as yours, mm? No!—you’re Moses, you’re Moses.


BASS: No, my name is Moses.

DISBROW: Now are you related to the other Basses in town? Sam Bass, and so forth?

BASS: Sam?


BASS: That’s my son.

DISBROW: I see. Well, your family has been around for a long time, then.

BASS: Yes, we’ve been here in Ypsilanti about twenty years I guess.

DISBROW: Uh-huh. Now, uh, you—did you go to school here, Mr. Bass?

BASS: Yes’m.

DISBROW: Where did you go to school?

BASS: Well, I went to school at, uh, at, uh, Perry School.

DISBROW: Uh-huh.

BASS: Uh, the other [but the house is] I, uh, went to school at the, at the school in, uh, uh, Prospect

DISBROW: Prospect School.

BASS: up on the first, uh, up on the hill where Michigan Avenue, you know

DISBROW: Can you, can you remember any of the names of your teachers? that you had?

BASS: Uh, I would say, Mrs., uh,


DISBROW: Well, that, that’s all right. Maybe you’ll think of it later.

BASS: Yeah, I’ll think of it later.

DISBROW: Was your father, was your father a farmer?

BASS: No, he was just a common laborer.

DISBROW: Uh-huh. Uh, did he, uh, work for one particular company, or something like that, or?

BASS: No, he worked in the gas company, gas company Ypsilanti, Michigan, and, uh different jobs he started woodlot, used to haul wood in, he got a four-foot log, he used to cut the saw up, to cut a four-foot stick, make the pieces, you know

DISBROW: Uh-huh.

BASS: He done that for a long time, and at first [when] in Ypsilanti, there wasn’t no, there wasn’t no [shafts association] then.

DISBROW: What, what about what year would that have been? Let’s see, you’re 3:00ninety-eight, and if you came when you were seven, is that about right?

BASS: Yeah.

DISBROW: So, that would have been, uh,

BASS: Let’s see. I was born eighteen-seventy-seven.

DISBROW: You were born in eighteen fifty-se—

BASS: Seventy-seven.

DISBROW: Eighteen seventy-seven, so this was, uh, eighteen, uh, eighteen-ninety-two, eighteen-ninety-six.

BASS: Yeah.

DISBROW: Uh-huh. Now, um, did you by any chance know the McCoy family?

BASS: The what?

DISBROW: The McCoy family?

BASS: Yeah.

DISBROW: Did you know Elijah McCoy?

BASS: No, I didn’t, I didn’t know the girls. I know the boys.

DISBROW: Uh-huh. Well, Elijah McCoy was the one that, uh, was the inventor. And they lived on, uh, he and, when his, when he was little, they lived down on, uh, Huron River Drive in back of the Starkweather Farm, there.

BASS: Yeah.

DISBROW: And did you know him, and his—?

BASS: No, I don’t believe I did.


DISBROW: No. Um, what church did you go to, Mr.—?

BASS: Went to the Methodist church.

DISBROW: The Methodist? and, uh,

BASS: Baptist Church, I went to Ypsilanti,

DISBROW: Uh-huh.

BASS: The Methodist Church in Detroit.

DISBROW: Well, the Methodist Church is, is, oh, you went, uh, you didn’t go here in Ypsilanti?

BASS: Yeah,

DISBROW: You did go.

BASS: Well, starting now.

DISBROW: Uh-huh.

BASS: Uh-huh.

DISBROW: Do you remember any of the names of the ministers in that church, or

BASS: Yeah.

DISBROW: What, uh,

BASS: Well, there was uh, mm, uh, there was Reverend Glass,

DISBROW: Uh-huh.

BASS: there was, uh, and then there was [another] assistant, he had an assistant, you know, and, the other one,


BASS: and, uh, there was, let me see, [and he had] an assistant, daughter, Eva?


EVA: Yeah?

DISBROW: Here she is.

BASS: What was Reverend Anderson’s first name?

EVA: Um, Willie Anderson, Pa.


EVA: Willie.

BASS: Willie?

EVA: Anderson.

BASS: Yeah.

DISBROW: Um, well now, let’s see, um,

BASS: First day of July, I was born.

DISBROW: Uh-huh. Um, do you remember anything about what downtown Ypsilanti was like when you were a boy, with the, uh, dirt roads and, uh, uh, trolley car between here and Ann Arbor and things like that, can you remember?

BASS: Oh, yeah.


BASS: There was a…

DISBROW: Let me move this up, just a little, that’s

BASS: There’s just a gravel road

DISBROW: Uh-huh.

BASS: and it had brick on each side, stone on each side where the, uh, where 6:00the farmers hooked up their horse, tied their horses the stores had a sh—had a porch at the front of the stores,

DISBROW: Oh, they were the old sheds. Yes, back then.

BASS: Sheds, yeah, in front of the stores, yeah, and then in, in, in front of the stores they’d have cobblestones,

DISBROW: Uh-huh.

BASS: they, uh, tied their horses there, you know, and they’d dig holes in [floor just of] the gravel, and they put cobblestones so the horses couldn’t move. They could fall. They couldn’t move them stones.

DISBROW: They couldn’t move them.

BASS: Yeah.

DISBROW: Well, now, what—

BASS: And a job for us Saturdays cleaning out, cleaning stones, we’d make 35, 45 cents, something like that, front of the store.

DISBROW: Um, do you remember any of the storekeepers when you were little? Do you remember, uh, the McAndrew family, or the, uh, the Quirks and the Peninsular 7:00Paper Company, and things like that, when they—

BASS: I knew the Quirks.

DISBROW: Uh-huh.

BASS: Uh-huh.

DISBROW: And, uh, Eileen, uh, I have heard that they used to call this part of town Clarkville.


DISBROW: Do you remember that they—if they ever called this section of town Clarksville?

BASS: Corkstown?

DISBROW: No, Clark.

BASS: They called Corkstown one part of the town. Corktown. There would be a lot of fighting. [like a guy to] Corktown.

DISBROW: Oh. You—you’re saying Corktown.

BASS: I said Corktown, yeah.

DISBROW: Oh, no, I mean Clark, Clarksville.

BASS: Clarkville. No, I don’t remember any Clarkville.

DISBROW: Uh-huh.

BASS: [No, uh] they lived across the river, there. You call that, uh,


DISBROW: What street did you live on when you were a boy, in Ypsilanti?

BASS: Ypsilanti? We lived on Grove Street, when we first moved there. Grove Street.

DISBROW: Ah, which end?

BASS: At the, on the Michigan Avenue end. About a block south of Michigan Avenue.

DISBROW: Mm-hmm.

BASS: Uh-huh.


BASS: We went to school at that school up on the hill, that brick building—turned into a house now.

DISBROW: Oh, yes, way at the top of the hill.

BASS: Yeah.

DISBROW: What was it called?

BASS: Oh, that’s, that’s called, uh, what was that called, Eva?

EVA: I don’t know.

BASS: You don’t know. I forgot what the school was called. I forgot what that school was called, the brick school.

DISBROW: Mm-hmm, yeah, you’re right, it’s still there.

BASS: It was at the corner of Michigan Avenue here, and, uh,

DISBROW: Mm-hmm.

BASS: uh, and,

DISBROW: and Prospect, isn’t it?


BASS: Pros-Prospect.


BASS: Yeah.

DISBROW: Uh-huh.

BASS: Uh-huh. Yeah, Prospect.

DISBROW: What was school like in those days, did you have slates, or pencil and paper, or what books?

BASS: We had slates. Slates [and these]. I don’t think we had any paper, [didn’t] use paper like they do now.

DISBROW: Mm-hmm.

BASS: So, uh,

DISBROW: Uh, uh, in those days, how long were boys allowed to go to school, that is, they go through the eighth grade, or did they just go during the winter, and work in the summer, or how did they do, do it?

BASS: Well, some of them just worked in the summer. I worked in the winter, [when the] winter, and some worked at school [at] long,

DISBROW: Mm-hmm.

BASS: All year long.

DISBROW: All year.

BASS: Yeah. Some of them did.

DISBROW: Mm-hmm.

BASS: Uh-huh.

DISBROW: Uh, what’s the most fun you ever had when you were a boy, in Ypsilanti?

BASS: What, what do you mean, uh?

DISBROW: Well, the most fun, did you ever get, go to a circus, or what?


BASS: Well, they had that hill.

DISBROW: What’s your best memory, from, from your boyhood?

BASS: Well, they had this, uh, right down that steep hill, there, by the hospital

DISBROW: Oh, [laughs] did you do it on a bobsled?

BASS: Yeah, we had a—

DISBROW: sleds?

BASS: had two sleds, uh, one on each end of a [big hand of a flank, the bircher was] you get down there and, and go down, and we’d, uh, [had a hang a drag for] for a tree.


BASS: It, it’d be kind of icy at sometimes.

DISBROW: Mm-hmm.

BASS: and the [ray, you know, in there, with the, in the fall] it’d be just like ice

DISBROW: Mm-hmm.

BASS: and we’d get to go down that hill and I remember one time we were headed right for that tree, and if we run in that tree it might have killed all of us. But, but we, we jumped out before we got to the, rolled out, before we got to, let the sleigh hit the hill, so nobody got hurt.


DISBROW: Ever go skating on the river?

BASS: Huh?

DISBROW: Did you ever go skating on the river?

BASS: Yes, I got skating, we used to skate on the river. I pert’ near were drowned and got drowned a board so I went down three times.

DISBROW: How’d you get out?

BASS: Well, I had a brother he was about seven years old he was a good swimmer. He swim and stuck his foot out I guess and I grabbed his foot. My mother, she come down there and [covered it up] my neck and held my head out of the water.


BASS: And uh, they got, rolled, rolled me over barrels and got the water out of me. And I’m here today, later they passed away, [all of them], I was the only one left.

DISBROW: Hm. Are you the only one left in your immediate family?

BASS: I’m the only one left [there with just] one brother. I have one brother in Cleveland named Charlie.


BASS: Charlie Bass.

DISBROW: How old is he?

BASS: He’s just seven years younger then me

DISBROW: He’d be eighty-nine, then, wouldn’t he?


BASS: Yeah, he’s be about eighty-nine, probably about eighty-nine.

DISBROW: Were you ever s—

HARRISON: How many, how many children were there in your family, Mr. Bass?

BASS: There was nine.


BASS: Five girls, four boys.

DISBROW: Mm-hmm. Uh, as a young man, what k—how old were you when you got married?

BASS: Well, I was just about, pert’, pert’ near 20 years old.

DISBROW: Mm-hmm. What was your wife’s maiden name?

BASS: Uh, her maiden name was Olive, Olive Richardson.

EVA: That’s the second one. Wasn’t Mother. mother [ ] second one, [my godmother].

BASS: First wife was Olive Richardson.

EVA: Second wife.

BASS: Second wife? Was the second? Had so many I forgot.

EVA: Second wife was Gertrude Walls, wasn’t it?

BASS: Huh? [A Bertie] Richardson first, you know. [Or there was Ellie].


EVA: Yeah, and what was your second wife’s name?

BASS: Uh, uh, her name was, uh, Ger—Gertrude

EVA: Walls.

BASS: Uh-huh.

DISBROW: Gertrude Walls.

EVA: Mm-hmm. Both of them were from Canada.

DISBROW: Now, because, uh, when you, uh, you lived in Canada as a boy.

BASS: Yeah.

DISBROW: Does that mean that your parents came through on the Underground Railroad to get there?



BASS: [That is, uh, I arced in the late] it was just, uh, just all over with at that time.

DISBROW: It was.

BASS: Yeah.

DISBROW: Mm-hmm.

BASS: That was all over, but now it’s [big too] different to do anything. I know they they [fled] to those people, gave ’em twenty-five acres of land, put them on the land, the trees [by the yard], they had to clear that up, and they had to give it to them.


DISBROW: Mm-hmm.

BASS: That’s the, that’s the way the [years], they didn’t give it to them, you know.

DISBROW: Oh, they didn’t?

BASS: But they have to clear it up, cut all the timber off

DISBROW: Yes, mm-hmm.

BASS: Trees and things.

DISBROW: How did your parents happen to come back to Ypsilanti, or come to Ypsilanti?

BASS: Well, I don’t know, they heard this was a pretty good place. They heard that this was a pretty good place, there were quite a few come to Yp—to Ypsilanti at that time.

DISBROW: Mm-hmm.

BASS: Still there wasn’t much in Ypsilanti at that time either, there wasn’t no business much [pay] there, a little, a little wagonmaker for boys, you know. Couple of [power dudes]. That’s about all there was.

DISBROW: That’s all there was here.

BASS: Paper mill, there’s the paper mill, uh,

DISBROW: Can you tell, uh, uh, can you give us any recollections of your early life here that might be of interest to people?


BASS: Here in Ypsilanti?

DISBROW: Yeah. The ways you earned money, and

BASS: Oh yeah.


BASS: I was, uh, cement finisher and a carpenter, I built forms, you know, like a

DISBROW: Mm-hmm.

BASS: for cement, different things, you know, and, uh, I was a finish, a cement finisher. Sidewalks and the road, like that.

DISBROW: Did you have trouble getting work in those days, or was there plenty to do?

BASS: Well, there was pretty good to do in my line, I kept busy pret’ [out there] all the time, building and foundation under [arms], and like that.

DISBROW: How many children did you say you had?

BASS: Nine…twelve.

DISBROW: Twelve.

BASS: [Hello there]? Eva, all right? Yeah, there’s twelve.


EVA: Ten of us and two by his first wife.

DISBROW: Your daughter says that you taught three of your sons your trade, too.

BASS: Huh?

DISBROW: Your daughter says that you taught three of your sons how to be a good

BASS: Yeah, I did, [ ] few years now

DISBROW: She said you built quite a few, uh-huh, and she said you built some, quite a few of the houses in Ypsilanti.

BASS: Yes.

DISBROW: Uh-huh, did you, uh, can you remember, where they were, are they downtown, or

BASS: There’s one over [Lucy air, diary] he’s just, he’s a, he’s a, a, what do you call it, superintendent [ ] He’s a first-class uh, uh, bricklayer and cement finisher. And they choose him for, uh, uh, it’s a, 17:00superintendent of all this ska—building, you know.

DISBROW: Yes, I know him.

BASS: Uh huh, all over Ypsilanti. He’s a superintendent,

DISBROW: Mm-hmm.

BASS: and he’s, uh, promoted to the highest one, too.


BASS: Yeah.

HARRISON: What you taught him, apparently has come in handy for him, doesn’t it?

BASS: Yeah?

HARRISON: You taught him all he knows, don’t you, didn’t you, to begin with?

BASS: Yeah.

EVA: [ ] Sam [ ]

DISBROW: Yes, when, when, uh, Mr. Bass said about Samuel, I remembered one Sam Bass.

EVA: Tell them. About your son Sam on the police force.

DISBROW: And about Sam being on the City Council, too, your son Sam.

BASS: Yeah, he was a policeman here

DISBROW: Uh-huh.

BASS: uh…Sam Bass. He was a policeman here in Ypsilanti. How many years?

EVA: About eleven.

BASS: About eleven years.

DISBROW: Well, he was on the city council, too.

BASS: Yeah. He was on the council, too. [You see he taught down] here last 18:00year, I guess.

DISBROW: Well, I think, well, yeah, you’ve lived to be quite an old man, and, older than most of us ever get to be, so what did you do to make you grow so old?

BASS: Well, I, I, I, I read the Bible. Proverbs and Psalms.

DISBROW: The Proverbs and the Psalms.

BASS: Uh-huh.

DISBROW: And you followed the…

BASS: [get that by silence, to get that by law. To…by silence, to get that by law.] I get excited a little bit by it, I get—

DISBROW: Mm-hmm.

BASS: I get it, though. I shan’t forget thy law. Hard to keep my commandments. And, and, a long, uh, long day, [let the] days of long life be 19:00added [daylight] unto you. The, the Psalms, added added long, long days unto you, and that [took], that, that verse the [truth] forsake you. They, they will, uh, not forsake you, they will, uh, let’s see, [they, can you, uh, I said that], you remember?

EVA: Uh-huh.

BASS: Uh-huh. She said there, there [ ] life to be long, [to be long, depart from you], length of days, long life,


EVA: [ ]

BASS: to be added to you. Yeah. [I got a gold there] I got to go over it, go over it pretty often. I go over it, [I got so wild, I get settled], I know a lot of them.

DISBROW: Well, you do a lot better than I would.

BASS: Huh?

DISBROW: You do a lot better than I would.

BASS: Yeah. Yeah.

DISBROW: What advice would you give to the present generation?

BASS: Huh?

DISBROW: What advice would you give to the present generation?

BASS: Well advice [that I’d be] would be [viewed to the] law of Ypsilanti, [via] law, [via, via] to the law of, uh, of Ypsilanti. They grow up there, they, uh, have a good dig. And uh, uh, help them and get work, help them and put them 21:00in places where they put everybody, [I was] never arrested, never put in jail, and the one time I was in jail, I went in there I was a cement finisher,

DISBROW: Oh [laughs]

BASS: I put a floor in there. And then, I come, I come home. I didn’t stay in there.

DISBROW: I bet you were glad you could come home.

BASS: Yeah. [Laughs] Ypsilanti knows me pretty well. [I see them all, and the work brothers park], I did a lot of works here, [see them] sidewalks, curbs, all that kind of work,

DISBROW: I suppose you can there’s no place, you can in Ypsilanti you can go but what you can see some of your work, somewhere.

BASS: That’s right, it’s good right till now.

DISBROW: Mm-hmm.

BASS: Yeah.

DISBROW: You took pride in it.


BASS: Yeah, I put that sidewalk in at the [ten down and down] at the Ypsi barrack, where that sidewalk comes and curves around, you know,

DISBROW: Mm-hmm.

BASS: Upstairs?

DISBROW: Mm-hmm.

BASS: I put that in there, [put there I put] sidewalk you know, uh, different places. I did all kinds of, uh, cement work there, [a porch],

DISBROW: Uh-huh.

BASS: foundations, and sidewalks, and, and, uh,

DISBROW: Do you have any hobbies, anything you did in your spare time that you enjoyed, like, oh, maybe music, or something of that sort, ever do any singing, in a choir or anything?

BASS: Well, I worked at house moving.

DISBROW: Did you?

BASS: Yeah.

DISBROW: Well, that was quite a job.

BASS: I was pretty good at house-moving. Put the foundations in the houses after they move it from one place to another. [I tried to] put [the good], lots 23:00of foundations under [that kind] jack ’em up, you know,

DISBROW: Mm-hmm.

BASS: and put a foundation under there.

DISBROW: and then let ’em down.

BASS: let them down, just…

DISBROW: Mm-hmm.

BASS: [Slump] down each corner, [and then so you have just], put the last block under, and you get, [you would the half] part and let it down, and then you get it just right.

DISBROW: What was your home like when you were a boy? Can you remember? I suppose you wouldn’t have a furnace in those days, would you?

BASS: What?

DISBROW: You wouldn’t have a furnace at your house, when you were a boy, that was too early for them

BASS: Yeah, we didn’t have any furnace. Big, big, big [your] wood stove. Wood stove, so much woods, you know.

DISBROW: Mm-hmm.

BASS: Yeah, you didn’t have no furnace then.

DISBROW: What kind of chores did you do as a boy?

BASS: Huh?

DISBROW: What kind of chores did you have to do when you came home from school in the afternoon?

BASS: Well, I’d just would be, do things my mother would have me do. Anything was out of order, I’d fix it.

DISBROW: [Laughs] It sounds like she broke a lot of things.

BASS: [I left to get done]

DISBROW: Uh-huh.

BASS: [If she forget me I got bad]. Uh-huh. I just [like, entertained to say to her] I liked it. So I picked up [all the front, all the city worker], workers, work.

DISBROW: Mm-hmm.

BASS: Uh-huh. Delighted to get cement work I could do.

DISBROW: And where do you live now?

BASS: Well, I live on uh, I forget my number. My daughter can tell it. What is that number?

EVA: His home address is five-sixty-five Monroe.

DISBROW: Five-six-five Monroe? What’s—in Ypsilanti.

BASS: In Ypsilanti, Michigan.

EVA: You know, the last few years he’s been staying with my sister in Fruitport, Michigan, up beyond Grand Rapids. Fruitport.

DISBROW: Fruitport. is that right?

BASS: Uh-huh. That’s where my [ma]…

HARRISON: [ ] keeper [visited]

EVA: Yeah.

BASS: I live with my sister. [Ever underneath]

DISBROW: Uh, did you, did you get to see the sesquicentennial parade?

BASS: [you can tell the] the parade in Ypsilanti?

DISBROW: Mm-hmm.

BASS: Yeah, I heard of it, I didn’t see too much of it. I heard about it,

DISBROW: Mm-hmm.

BASS: but I was, uh, too busy, and I didn’t go to see it. They tell me dancing in the street, on the sidewalk, having a big time. That doesn’t [ ] me anyhow. I belong to church. [ ]

DISBROW: Mm-hmm. Mr. Bass, can you remember the, uh, hundredth anniversary of Ypsilanti's celebration?

BASS: The hunter?


BASS: Yeah, there used to be, used to be quite a few hunters in those days.

DISBROW: No, I mean when the city was a hundred years old, in 1923.

BASS: Yeah?

DISBROW: Did you go to any of the celebrations for that, when you were a young man?

BASS: Yes, if I see one of them.

DISBROW: Uh-huh.

BASS: Uh-huh.

DISBROW: the pageant that they had?

BASS: Huh?

DISBROW: Did you go to the pageant that they had, when the city was a hundred years old?

BASS: No, I didn’t.

DISBROW: No, you didn’t do that.

BASS: Uh-uh.

DISBROW: And, uh, what else did they have, Eileen?

HARRISON: Well, he just mentioned hunting, when he misunderstood you there. Didn’t you say hunting? Ask him about his hunting.

DISBROW: Tell us more about going hunting, Mr. Bass.

BASS: Yeah, we used to be good at hunting, coon hunting.

DISBROW: Oh, coon hunting.

BASS: Coon hunting, yeah. Rabbits, and squirrels, and coons. Used to be a lot of that.

DISBROW: Uh-huh.

BASS: Uh-huh.

DISBROW: And, did you also go, uh, ever go swimming in the Huron River in the summertime, when it used to be a nice clear river, and things?

BASS: Well, the river [bed] was nice and clear sometimes. I pret’ near got drowned in the river about three times.


BASS: I was about uh, seven years old, I guess.

DISBROW: And then I suppose it was good fishing in it, too, wasn’t it.

BASS: Oh, yes. We caught good fish in there. We caught, uh, sunfish, and bass [of them,]

DISBROW: Uh-huh.


EVA: Oh, wait a minute, wait a minute, Papa, wait, you get that bucket. Here’s this Kleenex. The phlegm collects, he used to have emphysema, he was real sick last year.

BASS: Well, it’s my complaint now. Something like asthma. And, uh, as I speak now, seems to go and loosens it up, since blood gets over the lungs and covers it up and makes it hard to breathe, breathing. I, I drink, drink hot coffee, three or four cups, and, uh, as I eat, that loosens it up and then I spit up a lot. Uh-huh.

EVA: My dad [ ]

BASS: Then I commence to bringing the right down it again. But otherwise I breathe kind of short, you know, and heavy. Mm-hmm.

DISBROW: When your family made the trip from Chatham to Ypsilanti, how did they come?

BASS: They come on the train. They come crashing here on the cars, on the train, I remember that, too.

DISBROW: Can you remember, uh, was that a big adventure then?

BASS: Well, it wasn’t too large I guess, kind of busy at that time, ’cause, ’cause a lot of people from Canada moved over to Detroit and Ypsilanti. Up on the hill there is a lot of Canadians. [ ] most of the colored was Canadians. Now they’re mostly Southerners, a lot of Southerners, filled it up now.

DISBROW: Uh, can you remember anybody in Ypsilanti who could tell you about the Underground Railway here?

BASS: I think I could. Let me see, used to be a, uh, had a, uh, oh, oh, [ ]

DISBROW: Underground railroad stations, do you know where any of the stations were?

BASS: Yeah, they had a station there.

DISBROW: Yeah, do you know where it was located?

BASS: It was in the house, it was in a [ ], businessman of Ypsilanti

EVA: McAndrews.

BASS: McAndrews, yeah. McAndrews in Ypsilanti. He’s a [ ] right at their house.

DISBROW: That would be doctor McAndrews’ house, then.

BASS: They say that was a station, they would skip them across the river.

DISBROW: Mm-hmm.

BASS: Uh-huh.

DISBROW: Do you know of any others?

BASS: Let me see. Let me see. That’s the only one I know that did that. Uh-huh.

DISBROW: Did you know anybody who had gone through the Underground Railroad, through Ypsilanti, or told you anything about it?

BASS: I don’t know anybody that went through. I don’t. Might have been some, but I didn’t [ ].

DISBROW: That’s a long way back now, isn’t it?

BASS: Yeah, it’s a long way back, yeah, I didn’t, I didn’t [get that far].

DISBROW: Have you any special recollections, like, uh, any, any stories that your parents or grandparents told you that would be of interest?

EVA: How his mother came over and settled.

DISBROW: Yeah, how did your mother come over and settle?

BASS: My what?

EVA: Your mother.

BASS: She come from the old country.

DISBROW: Mm-hmm.

BASS: Scotland. She come from Scotland.

DISBROW: Mm-hmm. Where did, where did she settle?

BASS: Well, let me see, I think it was in in Canada

EVA: In Maine.

BASS: Huh?

EVA: She was in Maine, wasn’t she?

BASS: Maine?

EVA: Mm-hmm.

BASS: Yeah, that’s right, it was Maine. Settled in Maine.

EVA: After you tell them about when they had the cholera.

DISBROW: Oh, tell us about the cholera, Mr. Bass.

BASS: The what?

DISBROW: The cholera. When you were all sick with the…his mother, yeah.

BASS: Well, what I used to say was she had the cholera before, before she left home, and, uh, they’d have this cholera, and [ ] all of them would die, [ ] horses the cholera, they, they, they uh, whatchacall, uh, [picked out] some of the family so, they had to move y’know,

DISBROW: Mm-hmm.

BASS: [said that] he’d go buy horses they’d get sick, they’d die, they’d die, they’d dig a deep deep grave and they’d go on over, over to Canada, to Canada.

DISBROW: And they’d just bury them where they…

BASS: Bury and leave them there.

DISBROW: Just leave them.

BASS: Yes’m.

DISBROW: That’s sad, isn’t it?

BASS: Yeah. That’s all they could do.


BASS: Yeah.

DISBROW: Do you remember your first automobile ride?

BASS: Huh?

DISBROW: Do you remember your first automobile ride?

BASS: Let me see. I, I, I think I do, all right. I’ve had quite a few rides since the first, uh, the first cars come out. I know we used to look on the road, look coming down the road, no horses on ’em,

DISBROW: Mm-hmm.

BASS: used to ride in the different ones, you know.

EVA: [ ] when he worked for Ford [ ]

HARRISON: Oh, you worked for Ford, did you?

BASS: Huh?

HARRISON: Did you work for the Ford, for Ford company?

BASS: Yes, ma’am.

HARRISON: Oh, did you? What—

DISBROW: How many years?

BASS: For the twelve years.

DISBROW: Uh-huh.

BASS: Yeah.

EVA: Tell them about your plane ride.

DISBROW: Tell us about your plane ride

BASS: Yeah.

DISBROW: Where did you go in that?

BASS: Well, I [ ] on Carpenter, and then I come to be a, I’d come to be a, a, what do you call it, [ ] k-k-keep everything up, you know, fixing everything that come loose, repairman, I used to repair everything that, everything that come loose, you know, I’d fix it, even the furniture and all that, I’d, uh, [bar borough] and all that, I’d do all of that too, I’d, uh, different colors, [bar borough], [ ] could patch ’em up so they would look good, couldn’t tell. Couldn’t tell.

DISBROW: Now, how did you, how did you happen to have your first airplane ride?

BASS: Well, I just catch it here and there I’d see it and [I’d like that] and I’d pay attention to it, and then I’d [ ] and…

DISBROW: Now, how about when you had your first airplane ride, Mr. Bass?

BASS: The first airplane ride [or] the Ford?

DISBROW: Yes. Tell us about that.

BASS: Well, I got in the first air, airplane, I was working for Ford’s in the cafeteria, and [ ] I promised to take you boys up for a ride and I was in that bunch. We got way up in the air and [ ] looked around kind of small. I thought he was going to turn the flippers up. I got down on my knees and I wanted to see, and they laughed at me, doing that, I thought he was going to turn the flippers up.

DISBROW: But they didn’t.

BASS: No. No, they didn’t turn no flip.

DISBROW: You haven’t been afraid of them since.

BASS: No, I got used to it. I went over to Cleveland [ ] I have some relation in Cleveland. I used to go over there in the airplane.

DISBROW: Did you ever, did you ever see Henry Ford, to talk to him or anything?

BASS: See what?

DISBROW: Did you ever meet Henry Ford? Mister Ford? Did you meet him, ever?

BASS: Did I meet him? Yes.

DISBROW: Did you, you met Henry Ford, and

BASS: Yeah.

DISBROW: Harry Bennett, and people like that?

BASS: Oh, yes, I worked for him. I talked with him. And I uh, uh, he, uh, uh, uh, he used to come around and [ ] run across the field, exercise [it for], he wanted to live long,


BASS: and, uh, you’d see him coming across the field, running, and, uh, he’s always [ ] cafeteria pick up a piece of bread, and [ ] he said, if you want to live long, keep [off] meats and sweets.

HARRISON: Meats and sweets.

BASS: [ ] ’Cause he wanted to live long. But he died, he died anyhow, he had a big storm, come up, and he didn’t get [out] there, just tear down trees and everything, he couldn’t get no [dark to] that night, and he [got here], he passed out, he was about seventeen years older than me, dead.


BASS: Yeah.

DISBROW: Did you take his advice and go easy on the meats and sweets?

BASS: Yes, I paid attention, I think about it. Course, I, I liked it for a while, but it got so it didn’t agree with me anyhow. I kept a [ ] sweets and, and uh, [fat] meat, you know.

DISBROW: Mm-hmm.

BASS: Yeah. And I, I pay attention to what he said. [That making it keep making it more,] more particular. Mm-hmm. Yes. [There are a lot of play and users lighting there too, you had a, you had a push] where they hook up in Ypsilanti [ ] airplane, mm-hmm.

DISBROW: Which Ford factory did you work in?

BASS: M-day.

DISBROW: The Ypsilanti one?

BASS: Yeah.

EVA: No. Dearborn.

DISBROW: Oh, Dearborn.

BASS: Well, it’s the same one.

EVA: You worked at Dearborn.

BASS: Huh?

EVA: You worked at the Dearborn plant.

BASS: Yeah, but the building was there.

DISBROW: Mm-hmm.

BASS: Uh-huh. Yeah. Dearborn. Yeah, mm-hmm. Yeah, I was there twelve years.

DISBROW: What’s the biggest difference you see in Ypsilanti now, and when you saw it first as a boy?

BASS: Well, it was a little old country town, the streets were just, were just gravel, the streets were just gravel roads, and, uh, they put, put that stone down in front of the stores, [ ] hitching posts, and, uh, put a little uh, uh, uh, whatdoyoucallit, in front of the stores, kind of a, a, call it what now,

DISBROW: awning?

BASS: More like an awning, yeah, made of wood.

DISBROW: Yeah, shed roof.

BASS: Yeah. And, uh, the streets was gravel. Each side of the road they put cobblestones, because horses standing there, they’d dig, you know.

DISBROW: Mm-hmm.

BASS: They’d dig a hole down there, and they put those stones so they couldn’t dig. DISBROW: I never knew that.

BASS: Huh? Yeah. That stopped them from digging holes.

DISBROW: Did you ever have a horse of your own?

BASS: I did, for about twenty years.

DISBROW: You did?

BASS: Yes’m.

DISBROW: What was your horse’s name?

BASS: Huh?

DISBROW: What was your horse’s name?

BASS: I had so many of them, I [laughs] I traded horses, sold them all, I always liked horses, I didn’t keep some of them very long, you know, you trade them all the time, buy, sell,

DISBROW: Mm-hmm.

BASS: I was out for making money, and I

DISBORO: Mm-hmm.

BASS: wouldn’t just [keep it.]

DISBROW: Where did you keep the horses, at home, or did you have a…a special place?

BASS: Yeah, I kept it at home.

DISBROW: Mm-hmm.

BASS: I had a small barn, keep a horse, keep it home. Yes’m.

DISBROW: Well, now, are there any recollections that you think of that you would like to put on this tape so that people listen to it?

BASS: What [ ] that?

DISBROW: Do you have any other recollections that you would like to put on the tape that we haven’t touched yet?

BASS: Let me see…I guess not, there used to be quite a [twist] between the horses, like that.

DISBROW: Did you ever get in trouble in school, Mr. Bass? Have to stay after school, or…?

BASS: Huh?

DISBROW: Did you ever get in trouble when you went to school, did you ever have to stay after school, or ever scolded or anything by your teacher for doing anything that you shouldn’t do, or

BASS: I did, I did, I got into really bad ones, the small ones.

DISBROW: Uh-huh. Did you ever get in a fistfight with any one of your friends, or anything like that?

BASS: I don’t believe, I can’t remember a fistfight.

DISBROW: Now, we’re going to end the film now, and we have just enough tape left so that would you speak a little German,

BASS: Yes, ma’am.

DISBROW: and would you sing us a song in Indian?

BASS: Uh-oh.

EVA: [Laughs] Go on.

BASS: I used to play german plays, you know. They used to come over from the old country, and we had a lot of girls,


BASS: bad girls, there used to be a bunch of all of [ ], the girls


BASS: And we’d play German plays, you know.

DISBROW: Mm-hmm.

BASS: And we’d play, play, German plays, you know, and there’s a

DISBROW: Hm. Can you say something in German for us now?

BASS: Well, this play we used to play, [sings song in German]

0:00 - Old memories of Ypsilanti

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Partial Transcript: DISBROW: This is July 19, 1973. Miss Eileen Harrison and Mrs. Disbrow are interviewing Mr. Moses Bass. Good morning Mr. Bass!

BASS: Yes?

DISBROW: Good morning!

BASS: Good morning!

Segment Synopsis: Moses Bass, born in 1877, and nearly 100 years old in this interview, is asked about his early memories of growing up in Ypsilanti. He recalls bobsledding down the Prospect hill and learning writing on slate instead of paper at school.

Keywords: Adams Street School; Afro-Canadians; Brown Chapel AME; Charlie Bass; Chatham, Ontario; Eileen Harrison; Grove Street; McAndrew family; McCoy family; Moses Bass; Mrs. Disbrow; Peninsular Paper Company, Daniel Quirk; Prospect School; Rev. Willie Anderson; Samuel Bass; Underground Railroad settlements in Canada; Ypsilanti, Michigan

Subjects: African Americans--Michigan--Ypsilanti--History. Canada--Emigration and immigration. United States--Emigration and immigration.

Hyperlink: A 19th century photo of a young Moses Bass with his father, Samuel Bass, in Chatham, Ontario.

11:45 - Family and building Ypsilanti

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Partial Transcript: DISBROW: Hm. Are you the only one left in your immediate family?

BASS: I’m the only one left [there with just] one brother. I have one brother in Cleveland named Charlie.


BASS: Charlie Bass.

Segment Synopsis: Mr. Bass is gives the details of his family as he can remember them. He is asked about is son, Sam Bass, and his memories of growing up. He talks with pride about the work he and his sons did as builders

Keywords: 565 Monroe Street; Bass family; Charlie Bass; Chatham, Ontario; Gertrude Walls; Moses Bass; Olive Richardson; Samuel Bass; Underground Railroad; Ypsilanti City Council; Ypsilanti, Michigan

Subjects: African American families.

Hyperlink: A photo of Samuel Bass, the son of Moses Bass, and an Ypsilanti police officer and City Council member. Courtesy of the Ypsilanti Historical Society.
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