A talk with Ethel Carroll (Aunt Ethel): A quick look into the last 103 years of her life.
Interviewer: Ghost Writer, Black Butterfly
Birth Name: Ethel Gardiner
Birthdate: September 3, 1914
Birthplace: San Antonio, Texas
Spouse: Ira J. Carroll (dec.)
Faith (Church): Catholic (Holy Redeemer)
Philosophy: Having a relationship with GOD and living by HIS rules.
Interviewer: Your maiden name is Ethel Gardiner. So, how many siblings do you have?
Aunt Ethel: Two sisters and one brother.
Interviewer: Your husband was Ira Carroll. When did you marry?
Aunt Ethel: December 3, 1939.
Interviewer: I believe he preceded you in death. When did he pass?
Aunt Ethel: Uh, 1980.
Interviewer: That means you have been a single (widowed) lady for many years. How
did you do it by yourself, especially during the earlier years/eras, and how did you do it so well?
Aunt Ethel: My faith carried me through the good and bad times.
Interviewer: It is remarkable how well you have maintained your home, your person,
your life. Outstanding.
Aunt Ethel: (smile)
Interviewer: You may not have children but you are grandmother,
mother, auntie, sister, friend, and everything to many people.
Aunt Ethel: (Pause): Yes, that’s right.
Interviewer: Including me.
Aunt Ethel: Yes.
Interviewer: What School did you attend?
Aunt Ethel: Holy Redeemer Catholic School: kindergarten through
the 8th grade. Then I attended St. Peter Claver Academy here in
Interviewer: So, it was Catholic school from beginning to end.
Did that shape your general philosophy in life?
Aunt Ethel: I think so the nun’s philosophies in life (sic).
They taught us very well. To respect yourself and naturally
to be obedient. If you didn’t, you got hit across the knuckles
with a ruler (chuckle).
Interviewer: Were the nuns black, white or multicultural?
Aunt Ethel: In the lower grades they were black, but at
St. Peter Claver they were white from Ireland. They
spoke perfect English.
Interviewer: Did they treat you differently because of the racial
Aunt Ethel: No, they treated you just like any other student.
Interviewer: What was it like during that era? Was it difficult at all?
Aunt Ethel: Yes, it was. You know, when we would go to school and meet a group of white kids face to face, we would have to step off the sidewalk and let them pass.
Interviewer: Now, how did that make you feel?
Aunt Ethel: Well, at that time it was just a way of life. Really didn’t think about it (sic).
Interviewer: In your opinion, was it better during
integration when we had our own stores, our own businesses,
and communities? Since, now, we are forced to go to stores,
schools, and other businesses owned or managed by others.
Aunt Ethel: It seemed that way at first but now I see so many black businesses and business people that it is good now.
Interviewer: Do you feel as eras pass that things are
cyclical, the same old-same old over and over, or
do you feel things continue to change?
Aunt Ethel: No, I think it definitely has changed in a good way.
Some ways are good and some ways it is not. Our people
were a little more independent because they had to be but
I think the changes are for the better.
Interviewer: Right now you might as well say we are completely
under white control even though we might not be slaves in the
pure sense of the word, however do you think the concept of
separate but equal could have been better in order for us to
Aunt Ethel: Even though we may not have owned some
of the things we worked for, we now get paid a pretty
good wage. A lot depends on us because some of us
do not try to get ahead.
Interviewer: Speaking of work, you worked at Kelly.
I think I saw a quote where you were called Kelly’s Katys
and you worked in the sheet metal department. What was that like?
Aunt Ethel: I trained as a sheet metal manufacturer.
We had to manufacture parts within 1:30 second of an inch.
It was very, very interesting. I liked what I did. A lot of the
time I was in the office, but I did not like being in the office.
I did like the manufacture part.
Interviewer: Out of all of Kelly’s Katys, are you the only one left?
Aunt Ethel: I do not know if any are left. I lost touch with them.
Interviewer: Back to you. I look at you and you look
remarkable for 103. Your skin is soft and supple.
You do not have many wrinkles. Did you pamper yourself?
How did keep yourself in such good shape?
Aunt Ethel: Keeping a clean mind and a clean body.
Trying to do the right thing.
Interviewer: Did you use a lot of moisturizer?
Aunt Ethel: I didn’t wear a lot of makeup;
I just moisturized and used soap. LOL
Interviewer: I noticed that you are not on a lot
of medications which is good. So, how do you diet?
Aunt Ethel: Honey, I eat everything. Everything in
moderation (moderate laughter).
Interviewer: I agree: everything in moderation.
Interviewer: Is there anything you want to share
with the world on your view in life or your
philosophy in general?
Aunt Ethel: First of all, faith is a great thing.
You have to have faith and be confident with yourself.
I have a friend who says if you are still here the
good Lord has forgotten about you (laugh), but you
have to have faith. As they say, if HE brings you to it,
HE will bring you through it.
Interviewer: I agree.
Interviewer: Well, I am running out of space. I wish
I had more time to spend since there is so much to cover.
Can we continue part II next year on your birthday?
Aunt Ethel: Lord willing!
Interviewer: Thank you for allowing me this time.
Aunt Ethel: My pleasure.