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Oral History: Dr. Linda Toure


Interviewee: Dr. Linda Toure (LT)

Interviewers: Farimah Saidi (FS), Tana Brown (TB)


Farimah Saidi: There we go. Alright, so I guess the first question would be how long have you lived in JFK so far? We know that you've been a long time resident but we don't know the exact number of years.

Dr. Linda Toure: We've lived in the JFK neighborhood since August of 1984.

FS: Wow! And why did you move to that area?

LT: That’s a good question. Because my husband and I both felt strongly that we had just finished college, he was- just finished law school, that we needed to remain in the North East community. I was teaching in the community and he was also doing work in the community as an attorney, and we felt like our presence needed to be in a situation where other young people can see adults that look like them, that shop in the same areas, the small store in our community. We made a conscious decision to live here -in the JFK community- to be part of the North East community.

FS: Okay, and how have you liked it so far? What do you like about the area? What do you not like about the area? With as many details as you can recall.

LT: Well, what we really really really enjoyed about the area, we made many trips down here before we built our house. We would ride down, and it was not a complete neighborhood when we moved down here in fact some of the houses you see now had not been built. I mean it was just land. And so I can almost give you the addresses of the houses or homes that were not built. But the Northside of this part of the JFK neighborhood, the Northside of the street was basically completed. All the homes had been built over there. But when we moved down here in 1983, it's like there were a couple of homes to the right of us and to the left of us but then the rest you would skip three homes and then there was one home there but there were not homes up on the hill. So when we moved down here the neighborhood that we were in was basically new and had not been completed. And so we would drive down kind of to see, and this was a vacant- our home was on a vacant- was a vacant lot. And actually our home kind of sits on the hill, and that was the part that attracted me to sitting on the hill. We could see OU, you could see I-40 and it was actually just a nice view. There was the school up there and so Page Woodson was there. And so we kind of decided “hey this is a good spot”, and secondly it was just convenient. We could get anywhere to any part of  the city probably in less than 10 minutes. We could get on I-40, we could get on I-35 and of course, I-235 was not there but still you could get on I-40, I-35 and go anywhere and be there. In recent years, it's been great because of all the maps projects and everything. Downtown is 5 minutes away. My son and I when we go to thunder basketball games, I mean we drive down, we park, we walk to the arena. And when the game is over we walk to our car and in less than 5 minutes we are home. We enjoy basketball, we enjoy the entertainment that they bring, that comes to the city. In terms of location, in terms of proximity to things, and also I have to tell you something else. For the most part, we've felt safe in our community. When you have children and you want them to be able to play in the backyard. You're looking for a safe place and we felt safe and I recall a couple of times there were a couple of break ins and we decided well we’re going to get an alarm system it's better to know if someone’s coming in *Laughs* rather than waiting till they get in. But we decided to get an alarm system to add some additional security. But I just I’m telling you in almost 40 years I can almost highlight one or two situations where something has happened that we thought “uhh this is out of the ordinary”. No, we feel very safe in our neighborhood. We do. And we know our neighbors. Something that we, I can’t say I do actually my husband did this. We created a directory for our block, so we knew, we knew who lived next door to us. The Smiths lived next door to us, the Colemans moved in, then Brad when the Smith’s moved away. Mr. Brad moved in. Mr. Smith, well actually before Mr. Smith, it was a young couple bout the same age as us who moved in and they sold the house and then Mr. Smith purchased it. We all had similar expectations about how we took care of our property, we took care of our lawns, we helped each other out and so in terms of knowing people here in the neighborhood it worked out. But what's beginning to happen that I see is residents, a couple of places in the neighborhood, where the previous owners had passed away and the home has been purchased or it had been purchased. There are people who are renting and that's very different. They have a different idea about the neighborhood and the property and for the most part they'll cut the grass but in terms of just the maintenance that's required to keep up a home and keep it in good condition and attractive. In some places that's not happening. I'm trying to make no judgements about why it's not happening. It could be financial, I don’t know. I just can tell you previous owners that actually bought the house initially, Mr. Smith cut his yard two or three times a week. Mr. Brad cuts his yard two or three times a week. And the next-door neighbor to the right of me and there are others. You can tell homes where people have died, passed away, sold it, or they are renting it or it's just not the same. I don't know if I've your question *Laughter*.

FS: Yeah, no I really enjoyed listening to what you like about the neighborhood! I guess my next question would be have you seen any environmental issues in the neighborhood that have raised your concerns and what are those?

LT: Yes, yes. Now I can tell you, when we talk about the train, the train has always been here okay. We moved down here we knew the train was here, I will tell you what we didn’t realize when we moved down here is you would at first you would hear the train till two o’clock in the morning *Groans* *laughing* And we thought no we didn't but yes, we did we moved. But eventually we just kind of got used to it. But some of the other environmental issues that we've had recently is the big loud booms that literally shake your home. They shake our home. They shake the windows. You can see damages from that. The big booms, also we periodically have fires from the recycling plant or a tire plant and you can just see plumes of smoke everywhere and it is all over the neighborhood. Then you have- in the- the across the train tracks you have these mounds and mounds of asphalt, and you know when the wind blows, the little tiny particles that I believe, I believe. I don't know it to be true, that are coming from that. Especially with the high Oklahoma winds, mmm you know, there, it, I can't help but think it's not impacting the environment. The big booms, the train, the fires that generate terrible odors are certainly a problem mhm.

FS: How many times a day would you say you hear a boom? Or is it just random?

LT: It's really random, but whenever I hear a boom, I can go back to my calendar now and tell you okay I heard a boom at 9:01, and I think it was even last week if I were to go in there to the kitchen to get the calendar. I just put “Big boom, window, doors shake.” You know just a little note. And our president Dynevetta has asked us to please continue to record the booms. Even though they're at least after 15-10 years, we’re beginning to see some progress that they're building the wall there to try and help deal with that. It's not just building a wall, you have the effects of the numerous booms that occurred before you erected the wall. So that's you know an issue.

FS: Do you have any documentation of like a picture or anything that shows like a crack in the wall from the booms or anything like that?

LT: Well, I don't know if it would necessarily be documentation, but there are one in the living area there is a crack that you know it happened during the boom, or it happened because of all the booms that occurred. I really, I just have to be frank with you, I’d probably be hard pressed to prove that because we had a couple of earthquakes that also shook, I mean literally shook our home in the last probably 5 years. We've had a couple in this area that certainly would have impacted it. But I would be willing to say it certainly does impact when you hear a big boom, and you feel your house shaking, no one can tell me that's not impacting our home. No one can tell me that. No one can tell me that it's not damaging my home in some way.

Tana Brown: Do you have any concerns regarding your health because of the environmental issues experienced?

LT: Oh I have allergies so I’m very very careful about when I work outside. I’m generally a early morning riser so I will work outside in the mornings, and then I just have to tell you if I see something burning outside I come in, I have to come in. Otherwise it does, it keeps me up at night and I've got to take some type of medication for my nostrils to clear my sinuses up. So Yeah it affects me but I like I said I work out in my yard quite frequently so there are times when I say oh I can't take this I need to go inside and it usually there's been something burning or something that causes me to do that.

TB: Our next question, what do you think about the active and inactive oil wells in the neighborhood?

LT: Well, I- I believe probably there are issues underground in terms of water resources, I think they impacted other than, quite frankly… it’s an eyesore. You know they’ve been abandoned and they need to be cleaned up, but we have a number in our area, and I’m not just talking about JFK. Just immediate Northeast area and I go down Lottie, I see one. So, I’m just telling ya they’re in our area.

TB: Mhm.

TB: Are there any changes you would like to see in the neighborhood?

LT: Changes? Um…. I- It would be really great to have more neighbors involved in our neighborhood association. Just because the more voices and - I believe in being inclusive. I’m talking about those that are renting, in fact, the gentleman across the street I mentioned him, ‘we have a neighborhood association meeting. We meet every second Saturday at 10:00 AM and you're welcome, you live here’. ‘We would like for you to be a part of it’, so I really would love to see all our residents participating and being active and involved and I believe also that neighbors can help keep us safe, keep a community safe when we are looking out for one another and I’m not just talking about crime I’m just talking about their welfare, their well-being, ‘how are you doing?’ you know, ‘do you need something?’, ‘can I help you?’, ‘can I shop for you?’ and with some of the neighbors that are next door to me we did, we looked after one another. With COVID, I went to the store and let them know I can pick up this for you and of course they did the same, so, some that are not as involved as others. If that makes sense?

FS: Yeah! yeah…

FS: How do you think we could get them to interact with the neighborhood association more?

LT: I think do what I just keep doing. When I see them out in their yards, I speak to them!

TB: Yes! *laughs*

FS: *laughs*

LT: And I always say hello! How are you doing!? Yeah, you know, uh, ‘We have a meeting on Saturday again!’ Come. And then also I just try to share what the neighborhood community is doing. Especially like the big - the big booms that we hear and the work that the neighborhood communi- the neighborhood association is doing in terms of beautification, the community garden that - that we have and we need people to work in. You know, there are a lot of ways to get involved and if you don’t want to be in a meeting, there’s still a way for you to be involved so…

FS: Mhm.

TB: Right.

LT: I encourage uh, those I interact with to - to be a part of it. And - and we’ve had some nice activities where a lot of people came out where we had, during the fall, we kind of have a gathering of where people get together and we have chips and we have councilmen, many times has supported our neighborhood association and as well as council members in the past that have been involved in our association. And about to the point where they support us trying to improve what we have here.

FS: Okay, you mentioned the wall noise barrier…

LT: Mhm.

FS: a little bit ago has that actually improved any sound? Or does it help make the sound less at all? Does it help with the pollution? Or?

LT: Well, I can’t - I can’t tell you yes or no to that. First of all, I don’t think it’s completed. At our last neighborhood association meeting where that was discussed that it was still being erected. So, I - I can’t tell you if it’s making a difference. I can tell you one thing; I heard a boom last week! So, apparently it’s not totally completed. So, I’m hoping it will make a difference. They’ve said it’s going to make a difference and so I hope that it will mhm.

FS: Okay, so, what are your hopes for the future addressing these concerns and what solutions or actions do you want to see implemented in the JFK neighborhood?

LT: Well, I want - I want to see uh, more housing, affordable housing for families. I want to see more affordable housing for aging adults who want to live in their homes, and uh- be independent, I want to see more housing. I love the idea, oh something, I mentioned earlier about one of the reasons we moved down here, there was a park! The park, Washington Park, is right here on 4th N Lottie and we love walking in the park. We would take our kids to the park, to play, uh our dog would go with us and - and when our grandkids were younger before they even became teenagers and they’d on their own be playing basketball and all those things. My husband and I would take them to the park and we would spend - spend time in the park, so I want to see upgrades to our - to our park system and maps included Washington Park and there's still more that can be done over there it's a total improvement in terms of walking trials now, and the park benches, uh but it has to be maintained you know. If you put trees out there they have to be trimmed, if you put plants out there they have to be watered, they have to be taken care of and so I see that as a big improvement, Washington Park and what they’ve done, but there's still more that can be done. I see um, people from all over the city utilizing Washington Park. I mean there's soccer over there, there's football over there uh different times of the year and so what I would love to see also happen is more shops like the coffee, culture coffee, the culture coffee shop that located in our community, right with the new apartments and everything by Paige Woodson. And so I think bringing art shows, bringing musical plays, to Paige Woodson to create an atmosphere where there is something to do, there is something to look forward to when  you have entertainment where you have parks where you can go and take your children and feel safe and their well cared for. I think that's a reflection of the community and of our city.

TB: I feel like that is about a majority of our questions.

TB: Oh, do you - can you think of anyone who would be interested in perhaps doing an interview with us as well or anything?

LT: Well, I -I might ask my neighbor!

TB: Okay!

LT: Mrs. Coleman?

TB: Okay

LT: Cause they - I think they moved in about probably ten years after we did  and she -she might have a different perspective or different insight. I have been involved in the neighborhood association for a long time so, I know neighbors uh, across 5th street as well as a couple blocks over that I interact with when I walk and I do walk in the neighborhood to get my activity in so, I can just tell you that there may be. I don’t know is Diane McDaniel? Has her name been mentioned?

TB: Um, I'm not sure…

LT: I’ll ask her.

TB: okay!

LT: She is very involved in our neighborhood association, very involved. And I think we want what every community or what every neighborhood wants. We want a safe place to raise our families, we want grade schools, and of course I don’t have children in school, but I have grandkids so schools are still very important to me, and we want - we want the grocery store, we want the coffee shops, we want the entertainment

TB: Mhm.

LT: We want the arts, we want to be involved in our community. We'd love for that to be an interval part of JFK.

FS: I guess the last question would be if you have any pictures or images of any fires or any of the landfill or anything that you think has been caused or may be caused by the recycling facility, the landfill, the oil plants

LT: Oh!

FS: Any of those things we can put it into a visual representation section for our class?

LT: The truth of the matter is I do have pictures of the big, the smoke some of the burn. I’d have to look for them and try to, but I do take a lot of pictures too. I have no problems taking pictures of things that don't look right

FS: Yeah

LT: I can get my hands on them I - and if I can kind of get you know a time frame for that I probably do have a couple of pictures especially the burn, of things burning.

FS: Yeah! We would really like to - if you could get it to us anytime next week we would really appreciate it.

LT: Oh I’ll look, I’ll look out in the garage cause it’s - and I may even look on my cell phone. I have about six thousand images on my cell phone *Laughs*

FS & TB: *Laughs*

LT: *Laughs* I’ll look at what I can do cause the thing is if - I will take a picture but in terms of having a hard copy of it, I don’t, but I if I can get- go though my images

FS: Yep!

LT: Because I know it's been at least within six months that there’s been a fire behind our house, I call it behind- off of 4th street.

FS: Mhm, yeah we're trying to get some visual representations together so, that- those would really help, anytime you can go ahead and email them to me that would be great and even into next week that would be fine.

LT: Mhm. When does your project conclude? Or do you have an end date or is there an end date?

FS: I think we're supposed to start transcribing and analyzing within the next two weeks, so we will be moving on from the interviews if that makes sense?

LT: Oh okay, that's what I was wondering about. The couple of people I do - actual - that maybe I could recommend for you to talk to, that's why I was asking.

FS: Yeah, that would be great too, Thank you.

LT: I’m just showing you one of our original neighborhood, this is how long I’ve had it

TB: Oh wow

LT: Actuall a list of some of the original people that were in our neighborhood and some are deceased, some have purchased homes and went somewhere else, but they are all people that we know we interacted with and tried to help one another, and like I said it dates back I think this one was done {referring to document}in 84/84

TB: Oh!

LT: its old *Laughs*

TB & FS: *Laughs*

LT: Do you need anything else?

FS: A lot of the questions that we didn't ask, I mean you already answered them for us *Laughs* basically so…

LT: Oh! Okay, Okay!

FS: But, yeah I think we got through all of the questions and we really thank you

TB: Yes

FS: For your time and information you provided us

TL: And I just want to apologize for my tardiness, I really do

TB: Don’t need to worry, no your fine!

FS: Yes, It’s completely okay, today was just one of those days for us as well *Laughs*

TB: *Laughs*

LT: All right thank you, I appreciate you making me feel better

TB & FS: *Laughs*

LT: But I still apologize “*Laughs*

FS: No, its okay

LT: Is it Tana and Sadi? Am I pronouncing -

FS: Farimah, sorry

LT: Farimah! Okay, okay, Farimah okay, okay, alright. And is it Tana or Tanna?

TB: Tana, yeah you got it right! *Laughs*

LT: Alright!

FS: Well, it was very nice to meet you

TB: Yes, thank for visiting with us

LT: Mhm, well alright if you need a follow up don’t hesitate to call me you have my number!

TB & FS: Thank you {in unison}

FS: Thank you so much, you have a wonderful day

LT: Thank you, bye-bye… Appreciate you.

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