MySource:Srblac/William (Bill) Black Interview

MySource William (Bill) Black Interview
Author William (Bill) Black
Abreviation William (Bill) Black Interview
Year range -
Publication information
Publication Interviews, 1998-2002
William (Bill) Black. William (Bill) Black Interview. (Interviews, 1998-2002).
Name Scott Black and Betsy Feaster Genealogical Library
Address Fort Wayne Indiana
Call # Copy on File

Information provided over several conversations


His grandparents

  • William Black from Scotland was 6'1" and Agnes was 4'8". At the time 6' was considered to be huge.
  • He used to play dominoes with Robbie Burns (yes, THE Robert Burns) (Actually, not true as Robert Burns died in 1796, 72 years before William was born. Grandpa was pulling Bill's leg).
  • He loved an occasional "wee drop".
  • He didn't allow Catholics in his house.
  • When Charles (Mick) went to visit him in Scotland with a Catholic friend they hid that fact from William. They had a great time and he never found out. Charles was so small when he was young that they called him Mickey Mouse, later he would always be called "Mick". When he went to Scotland however, he had to be called Charles because a "Mick" is an Irishman.

On his trip to Scotland when he was 19

William David Black went to Scotland in 1954 to meet his grandparents.

  • They lived in a small town called Dunoon, a four hour boat trip from Glasgow.
  • He was surprised when he got there to see that they had gas light (no electricity), a fireplace for heat, and an outhouse.
  • Grandma Agnes and he took walks so she could show off her grandson from America and go to the pastry shop to get strawberry shortcakes.
  • Bill was allowed to have breakfast in bed, which really irritated his grandfather because he never got breakfast in bed in their 55-year marriage to date.
  • Both grandparents died in Scotland.
  • When he revisited while in the service the following year he arrived for the new years holiday and because he had black hair in the Scotch tradition he would go "first foot". When visiting he would go first for good luck.
  • When they went to Aunt Mary's house she allowed Bill to have a drink with her and her husband, which really shocked Aunt Peggy & her husband Alec, because Aunt Mary was a tee-totaler.
  • When you got ready to leave Scotland they throw you a party and grandma and grandpa would always sing you a farewell song.
  • Uncle John Black and Bill were best of friends. They went all over Scotland together. John knew everyone so they were able to get into places that were off limits after hours. They even took a bike ride and stopped in different pubs where they had sing alongs. Knowing Bill was an American he had to start all the singing. Many times Uncle John and Bill put the bikes on a trolley instead of trying to ride home.
  • Cousin Evelyn (Sam's daughter) was a real knockout. Between Mick and Bill she took them all over Glasgow to meet the younger generation.
  • Bill's greatest recollection of Scotland was going to the new years soccer game between the Protestant Rangers and the Catholic Celtics. Catholics walked on one side of the street and the Protestants on the other. There must have been 135,000 men at the game and probably 270,000 bottles. The best thing that happened was that the game ended in a 0-0 tie. As of this writing the soccer game is now held on January 5th so that if you want to go to the game you must take a day off without pay.
  • The hatred between Protestants and Catholics was unbelievable. Cousin Bill (son of Sam) married a Catholic girl and nobody in the family including his mother and father went to the wedding.
  • Scotland is beautiful (they certainly get enough rain).

Grandma Sophie (mother Charlotte's mother)

  • When Bill was 8 years old Grandma Becker came to live with them so that his mother (Charlotte) could go to work.
  • In the few years she lived with them she taught Bill how to play Poker, Pinochle, and Solitaire. Bill would help with his grandma when she sick, playing cards with her.
  • She later moved out and lived with Bill and Olga Thomson.

Aunt's and Uncles (Becker side)

  • Aunt Adele, Alma, and Olga all tried to spoil Bill as much as possible.
  • He would ride out on his bicycle to see Adele and Lew Ahner Sr. who lived in Oak Lawn, have lunch with them, spend the day and then ride back home.
  • Aunt Becky (Alma) lived in Oregon and Bill would spend the summers from age 13-15 with her and Uncle Jack (Reed). Jack Reed was a real character. They lived on a hill and Jack would sit there, playing the organ and their Doberman Pinscher who would howl along with him. The two together were quite a sight. Jack's aunt was Belle Starr (a famous outlaw). His brothers had a big ranch in Wyoming. His other brother had a big ranch in California that Bill got to go to. City slicker Bill learned a lot on the ranch. He learned how to ride a horse, how to rope a calf, how to cut & bale hay, and how to slop hogs and feed chickens. Uncle Jack was very big on manners. When Bill came back from a summer with them his mother was amazed at his behavior. In the 3 summers Bill spent out there with them Aunt Becky taught him how to drive a 1935 Chevy Pickup with a stick shift on the floor.

On the youth of his father Charles

  • Before he went into the service Charles "Scottie" Black was a boxer. His sister Mary would help him to sneak out at night, letting him use her bike. Eventually, their father caught them both and this was the main reason Charles left for the Army (during WW1).
  • Charles (Scottie) Black was in WW1. He was 15 years old when he joined. His big sister Mary signed the papers for him so that he could get away from his father, who he didn't get along with. He was caught in a battle and spent 3 months in a prison camp. After the war ended he was sent to Cairo Egypt.
  • When his tour of duty was over Charles opted to come to the United States (1924 - see Passenger Arrival Records of the Status of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation: Charles Cunningham Black for more info). He went in Boston where he took a job on the railroad as a fireman. After a year or two of this he left Boston and came to Chicago, where he found a job with Commonwealth Edison as a meter reader.
  • At this time two of his friends from Scotland came over because his friend was the #3 contender for the middleweight championship. His friend was to fight the #2 contender and asked Charles to be his second, informing Charles that under no circumstance was he to throw in the towel. Unfortunately, he was being badly beaten and Charles had no choice but to throw in the towel. They never spoke again.
  • In the mid 20's Charles and his other friend put on 3 round exhibitions in Cicero for Al Capone who paid them $50 a night. By now Charles had become a laundryman for the Sunshine Laundry. On his route he had Al Capone as a customer, which is how he got the boxing job.
  • In 1924 at the Viking hall at 69th and Lowe in Chicago he met Charlotte Becker. They eloped to Crown Point, Indiana and were married the 17th of October 1925. It broke her father's heart because he wanted to have a big wedding for her. After some time, Grandpa Becker and Charles got along well because Charles knew all the places to get a drink during Prohibition.
  • John Becker used to make his own beer. When he died Charles and the rest of the boys wanted to follow old tradition and stand him up in a corner and toast him but his wife wouldn't allow it.

His brother and sisters

  • In 1927 Charles and Charlotte's first child Agnes died in childbirth, a choice between her or her mother. Mick was born Feb 3, 1929.
  • Marilyn was born about 1930. She died in 1934 from Leukemia at the age of 4.