Deborah Kleinmann and Nancy Goldring
DescriptionDeborah “Spice” Kleinmann (58) shares a conversation with her friend and colleague, Nancy Goldring (57), about Nancy’s childhood, her experience growing up in Towson, Maryland, the history and legacy of slavery in Towson, and the implications of the proposed Red Maple Place development in Towson.
Subject Log / Time Code
- Deborah Kleinmann
- Nancy Goldring
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00:03 My name is Deborah, kleinmann and my nickname is spice. My age is 58. Today's date is May 25th, 2021. I am in North East. Towson, Maryland, which is Baltimore. Basically and my conversation partner is Nancy Goldring and we are friends and colleagues.
00:30 And I am Nancy Goldring. I am 57. Today's date is May 25th. 2021. Our location is historic East Towson and my conversation partner is Deborah, Rachel spicy lineman.
00:56 I love it. And our relationship is friends and colleagues. We are, what is the AR stand for? Yes, sir, Nancy. I am here to interview you because you have very special story like we all do. And I feel really honored to be here with you. I would love to ask you some questions about your life. And the first one is your beginning where you were born when you were born. I was born in 64 at Sinai, Hospital in Baltimore City and that was evidently at a time when
01:46 You couldn't have a black woman, could not have a child and a Baltimore County Hospital. Wow. Yeah, from what I know is it is with a Jewish, probably still there. It is a Jewish people who also were discriminated against so they found it a hospital and a lot of African-Americans and Jewish people still go there today. Where did you live when you were born?
02:18 How did your family? I say that. But actually, when I, when I think about it, my mom was going to Eastern High School and she lived inside the city, right? And inside, Baltimore city, right off of East Cold, Spring Lane, on Cottage Avenue. So,
02:50 I was born there, well started there, but I don't have any memory of living anywhere except for Towson.
02:57 My parents got married, they moved in with my grandma until they got their own place. And my grandmother lives right up the street, from where we are right from where we are right now and your parents and then your parents lived in this neighborhood, but in another when they little know they live with my Grandma at first and then they saved up and got their own place at me. There was nowhere to live here. There was every every place that was habitable was inhabited Frank. There wasn't any the the
03:32 Circumstances of the zoning in Towson was structured such that as the community came of age, the Next Generation had to move. So where did your parents move? They move to I believe their first apartment was on a street called To Boldly. I know my mom lived in a house apartment because I remember having a neighbor named Barbara and Barbara lived.
04:06 Downstairs from us. And she had all these cool kids and her husband. Skip, I'm trying to remember where you so you were born when they were living in the apartment. I was that's the apartment. I remember, got it. Yeah, I remember so it. So my mother lives and you came over to historically East Towson, my family, or my grandmother was here. My great-grandparents were here and my grandmother said that she
04:39 How did she say it?
04:42 I said I asked her about her grandmother and she said, oh, she said mom has my mother. My great-grandmother Catherine's mother. Her name is Annie and she said, we always believed that Annie was a slave but nobody ever talked about it.
05:00 So if Annie was a slave then and he was a slaver and the irony of it, which is now, which is now Hampton mansion. And the irony of it was her name came up in the name. I should say Annie came up in a presentation. I heard.
05:26 With one of the scholars from the ethnographic study and I thought, oh my goodness. This is as close as I've ever, and what was Andy's last name? Well, my my grandmother's maiden name was miles miles and that's your great-grandmother right here. And you're saying you're that, that your great-grandmother might have been a Slave at Hampton Plantation with was 25,000 acres in Baltimore County over 25. It was the biggest Plantation in the North Mills. I'm sorry.
06:13 And that was your great-great. That was your great-great-grandmother. Okay, so that was Annie's mother.
06:23 This Annie was
06:26 Mama K's mother. Okay. Yeah. Okay. Were you born into to feel like you were born into a middle-class family or lower middle class? She said, you know, she said we were poor but we didn't know it. She said cuz nobody have anything everybody was in sort of the same boat. And so it wasn't until I was an adult. I have arrived at one of my oldest friends. My oldest friend actually said to me. She says, all you know, when I came to see where you live. We thought you guys were really poor and I was like, you did.
07:18 And she said, yes, she said. And of course, when she and I met her family was living in a new development called.
07:31 I think it was Dutch Village, right? So they lived in this new development.
07:40 But it wasn't a place. I would have wanted to live, right? So I was just like, wow, that is profound to me that she thought we were poor because of the way she proceeded us to live. We didn't live in a new place right there in the house of the street used to be cedar. Siding of wood Iko shingles. Yeah, they had gotten. Oh, my goodness, is brown is the soil over the years. I didn't know what they should look like until somebody refurbish the house on Railroad Avenue and used new start new cedar shingles. And I thought, oh my goodness, is that what the house look like when it was built. It was brown, and it was, it was chocolate brown. My grandmother has flowers hanging from the torch and a beautiful tree. In the front yard big tree in the backyard of Swing.
08:35 Right on. I mean, yeah, I mean when children what society says about, you know, like even like being a person of color or being Jewish as I am, you know, it's like you don't realize it when you're young and then all of a sudden you start understanding lyzabeth revealing itself. Exactly what. Tell me about going to school, where you went. If also the holidays, if you did things, did you play sports theater Music Arts? What did you do? Well,
09:18 I went to school here in Towson. So I went to a preschool that is now that was torn down so that they could build Virginia towers and I went to Towson Elementary, which is now the bike out at 7, which I think is just a fascinating turn of events, right. More often to the senior center. So right, I've been there and I went to Towson High. I went to Loyola College, when it was still Loyola College. I went to I transfer from Loyola college and went to Towson State.
10:06 University. I think that time which is now Towson University and then I finally came to my senses and graduated from Morgan. And I had a friend who said to me, if you would gone to an HBCU when you left High School, you would have graduated. And I said, why you say that he said, cuz you would have been nurtured and he said that and you would have to me that he said it. It was profound to me that I didn't know what he was talking about. Right? And I've heard people talk about that. People that go from being a minority, in their high schools, and Junior High School, the neighborhoods to an HBCU historically black college or university and say, oh my gosh.
11:06 Feel like you can't breathe and you don't have to like act a certain way. You can be you and be in a situation where there's lots of nerds and maybe hippies and maybe and you don't, it's not just that your black, but you are an ass lie here and in select your at you knowing, and you don't have to act a certain way because you're with your people and that's that's something that's really, you know, always been fascinating to me because I've heard, you know, different perspectives on segregation and integration and the good things about it, but also the challenging things about it, because when you were in Vienna with your people and I understand that being being a Jewish American. So I don't know what I have to say.
11:57 You know, when I was going to school.
12:00 At Loyola and that's Allison because I always been a menorah. T. I again. I didn't know what he was talking about. Right? And so
12:14 And, you know, to your point about being in the situation where you are the majority.
12:20 It was.
12:23 That that too is a kind of wake-up, call you learn things that you would never going to learn outside of that Community even academically, but then you also see if you, if you've been to a pejorative University, or in a majority workspace, or in a majority environment. You see where the buck stops for your community. You see the resources in the opportunities that are cut off here that are not available right here. That's very true in Maryland. In the terms of the historical black, Maryland, Maryland.
13:10 Maryland doctrine of exclusion.
13:14 Write that down and that was actually written.
13:22 Bless you. Thank you. That was actually written miles before.
13:31 Slavery ended and which makes it a particularly cheering this document in Maryland is a fascinating State because this is where brother fought against brother. A lot of times because we were at the cutoff between the Confederacy and the union and, you know, there's a song to who Brothers on their way to brothers are on their way to Brothers on their way, one wore blue, and one wore gray and my mother used to sing that to me, you know, if you didn't know spices the singer.
14:17 All right, tell us about this thing that I even had a few dates, Maryland doctrine of exclusion 1638. Let's look it up right to the core, right in our laws right here in Maryland, you know, I might they tried to get into neighborhoods that said, no, blacks, no juice or they have the covenants. Yeah, absolutely. So they couldn't move to where my aunt was because she married a non-jewish person. She lived in a neighborhood, even though she escaped from the Holocaust when she was five and she was but she married a non-jewish person so they can move into the neighborhood, but my parents could not reveal it.
15:08 I don't think it mattered because she was the woman and the husband was the person who had the religion tied to him. You know, it was, you know, it was very sexy. So they let me go, they let it go. Okay. So, tell me where you a good student, or did you get into trouble? I knew I was, I was scared to death to think I was of much.
15:39 She was also, you were the, the first child. So, yeah, that was you. And I like to say, I was the first born child to first born parents. That is double pressure. Can I tell you? So and no, I was not a bad kid. I did not get into any trouble. I was in a school. Play them. I wish I could remember the name of it, but I can't, but I can tell you, it was a fantastic experience. Oh, wow, and I remember my the star of the play. So I was, I guess you could say the co-star that he's the antagonist and I remember Harry powderly was, was the guy who was like the bird. He was the suspect, we were these birds and he was a thick Yellow Lantern. And I remember my opening line I came in
16:39 Wings and making all this racket.
16:50 I'm saying to myself. How did my mother not put me on that track? I could not have been more than nine while and Max and people people saw that you were a I mean, I just it wasn't even about validation. I felt it. I don't think I had ever felt more something more fully self expressed in my life. Well, you know, there's still time to go if you need help, I can do some, let's do it. All right. Tell me. How many siblings do you have get into? We got to get down the line. There's three of us and I have a couple of bonus siblings, right? And we're all in,
17:50 In relationship in communication until everybody's living and doing their thing and Angela, you know, it's not easy living in Baltimore in general. But as an African American person, there's a lot more being nice to your, over the years. I mean, Nikki lunch just wasn't as violence.
18:29 Scary, I know it just wasn't and I don't.
18:33 I don't know. I don't know when it got to be.
18:42 I just like how I wish I could point to an event. Sure that, you know, he's going to like the trim tab that earned the great ship has the. I don't know. I don't mean part of it is how easy it is to get illegal guns into Maryland. I need that's been sitting on tree into the country with strict laws other than what's a Virgina, which is right next door to us. DC has very strict laws. But, you know, my brother was offered guns all the time when he lived in a white guy, kind of looks like a thug and people would offer to sell them. Gun is a lot. I mean,
19:25 So, even though we are a progressive kind of liberal State, as the estate's go, there's still a lot of stuff. There's also a lot of poverty. There's a lot of racism. There's a lot of, you know, things like that, that we still have not dealt with and conquered, you know, this were the first state that has recognized lynching as a state and the Maryland. Lynching project is something that's it's really incredible. There's been two ceremonies so far and you were at one of them, which was
20:07 Justice is the powerful experience and
20:13 During that during that ceremony a couple of things happened.
20:19 There was a there was a talk or speech given by the president of the organization will Schwartz. And he talked about.
20:34 The listing of Howard Cooper in the context of community. And then the context of the store Keys housing in particular and he was 15 years old has a child essentially gangling store where they called, Tara, lynching 70-plus, men, whose faces were covered. They literally ripped them out of the prison and I am from the nearest tree and his mother had to cut him down. Sycamore tree. Ceremony was that weekend was Mother's Day weekend.
21:15 And so, we were having dinner here.
21:19 My mom my aunt a couple of my aunt. He's my uncle and my dad and unbeknownst to me. My grandmother's youngest sister remembered being told a story about the lynching intensive and she said in in so miss boots who was
21:42 My aunt. Mother-in-law live at Hampton and so she had all those stories and she would sense it. So Nancy, who's my auntie? She said, I sit at her feet, she would talk about what a terrible time. It was the living Towson at that time.
22:02 And I will sit, I just looked and I thought, oh my gosh, tell us about this community and how this community formed historical East Towson. Essentially historic East Towson is
22:20 Part and parcel to the origin story of Towson. It's one of the oldest African-American communities. In Baltimore County, many of the people, many of the men and women who settled this community were manumitted or freed slaves from the Ridglea Plantation. Those were your ancestors to. Yes, absolutely. And it does, you know,
22:50 I would have not expected it to but it is it is a pretty powerful experience. Go there.
22:58 To Hampton Inn Plantation. The man was in the Ridgely, Ridgely. See? And his father. She and his father's, father. I believe were sister and brother. So she was his gray tan and Nancy Grace stories now. Yeah, where is that actually answer?
23:45 I just want to walk that part of Italy did a lot of things. He was very involved in botany and orange trees and had greenhouses, but I'm sure all the people that did the work or enslaved people that were enslaved, that did all of the work on the but. Can you imagine 20? / 25,000 Acres? I mean, how many people did? They have that weren't slaves? That works at 701. 25000 was really. When you think about is not a lot, not a lot to learn from another issue. Actually. That one's slave was responsible for like some.
24:38 Tremendous number of Acres. One person per acre for so many acres of land to work. Like you worked all that space. I mean shoot if I had to work the backyard that be
24:51 Growing into town like what? I don't know. You want to cut the grass though. So.
24:58 Yeah, it's it's that they're heavy beginning beginning. So, you know people moved here from here to the most listeners would make any sense, but to from here, to Bosley, in York Road, which is what a couple miles from from where we're sitting where we sitting and that Community was called Sandy Bottom. It was right at the bottom of where the Mansion was, right? So it was gay people walk, you could walk to work. So that's a value now, right? So you can, but it was still a hike 6th and Hampton, right? So so over time, as civil rights, came through and different laws were passed. You know, Jim Crow obviously didn't work cuz we were separate but we will never equal. You never given equal access rights of Jim Crow, crashes.
25:58 You have.
26:01 Civil rights, but every time there was a victory in civil rights for us. There was a takeaway for the other side. So Sandy, Bottom disappeared, after.
26:13 Young black children was were integrated into the schools and Dad just continues. So, as far as I'm concerned, this development that were being mean, I'm kind of hit with is another and they have
26:39 They are a booty, call Affordable housing developer, and their claim to fame is that there are nonprofit in there. So it was a Soup To Nuts developer. They not only going to build it, they going to manage it and they're also women Run Red Maple project. I'm I'm part of, I'm the chair of the Sierra Club in Greater Baltimore group. We feel that the Red Maple Place project is environmental racism because they're taking away the last Green Space in this small historic East, Towson neighborhood, White Marsh. And and they want to cut down this swath of two acres of trees and put this on 56 unit 4.
27:39 Housing building, which Baltimore County needs affordable housing and there's been a voluntary mandate for Baltimore County to build a thousand units by 2028. But since all the other neighborhoods have fought it off. They said, well, let's put it in East Towson. It's a small African-American community and they wouldn't fight it so we can deal with it. They're feeling
28:10 It was nice. I was told that.
28:15 A lot of thought has gone into who would take over the neighborhood if anything ever happened to my grandmother, like, who would represent the neighborhood, right? And the feeling was that there, wasn't anybody? And of course where you were living at right now, where were you living before? You came back before I can get the rear and I think you got married. I got married here. You got married by the time I moved out was divorced. Okay, so I left here in the early nineties. I moved to Atlanta because I didn't think I was ready for the big city of New York and be sure. And so I lived in Atlanta for a couple of years. I left Atlanta.
29:10 And move to Chicago. Okay, and I had wanted to. So so
29:18 It's crazy how things happened. So this I'm living with a family there in Chicago, know and then 2326. Okay, and that happened was we had agreed. I had asked to listen we're getting married and I really want to enjoy being married. So do you mind if we wait 5 years? I'm like, I'm 23 what you know five years before we have kids. Let's just have fun being married. And so however, as fate would have it, all of his brothers and friends were starting to have kids and so naturally with all your friends are having kids, you want to have kids, right? So I said to him, I said, listen.
30:19 We have a situation and said, all your friends are having kids, your brothers are having kids and I know it's on your mind. I said, I'm 26 years old based on our agreement. I would need to be getting pregnant in 2 years. I can tell you right now in two years. I'm not going to be ready to be. Somebody's mom and I cannot profess to love you and deny you that opportunity. And so it was true. It was true. Always stressed to us as young girls. How intense
31:02 Parenting was she was she was she was like this is not a game. This is your life and you enter into it clear, headed lie and you know where the clear with a clear head and an open heart and know that there is no turning. If you're lucky and had access to birth control, you had access to a Smart mother. You had access to a partner who was willing to give you some time, my my mother and father got 21, they had their first child at 28. My mom, put my dad through grad school while he became a PhD while she, you know, works in the in the preschools in kindergarten and she put him through and then they know.
32:02 He was one of the first people to be on lithium in the country. He was in the tests for lithium. But yeah, anyway, we're not talking about me. But thank you for sharing that part of your story. And so your husband decided he wanted me to us while he he never not wanted to, you never not wanted to let you know. I just felt that we could have easily stayed together and kept waiting for me to be ready and I didn't trust that myself. It was like the more I learned the lesson the less invested. So if you can but it must have been really hard to have that realization and then split up with someone who you really loved me. Let him go, you know, but look where you are now, I mean, you've done so much so you moved to Chicago and I wanted to work on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.
33:02 Did I wanted to get into Commodities trading? Okay, and you know, like a proverbial gazillion dollar.
33:11 And I got and I had that opportunity. I went I worked on the floor. And by the way, I can do whatever because I know she's boring over life and learning and discovering from that place. So I did I worked on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. I traded an account privately for a. Maybe let me look at my watch 10 minutes before I blew out. I think it was a Yellow Cab all my money room.
34:01 Yes, yes. So, what did you do after Chicago, Chicago? I moved home.
34:07 Or maybe I was here six months or something and I didn't know I wasn't I was only going to be home for a couple minutes. Okay, friend called and said, you got to come to New York and I was like really he said this is where you belong. Okay, we could swing Christmas and New Year's and I and I didn't know I was in Manhattan. Oh, I was there for the week between Christmas and New Year's and I stayed for three months. I came home to get more clothes and I remember on one trip. I was coming back. I had taken a bus. I got knocked the bus. It was 11:00 at night. I'm dragging my bag up Central Park, West.
35:08 And I remember just a civilization and I thought, oh my goodness, Nancy. I didn't know you felt that way and I didn't, I didn't know how the city was affected and I just loved it there for quite a while in Davis. Can you do my taxes? That I was going to see everything that was available today? I worked for a tax professionals. I wasn't one. And so I felt that with their understanding and and their incredible software's actually. Okay. Let's go on.
36:04 You came back here because your grandmother was sick. I came by here because of 911 because of my daughter was Jenny. Burgess. She got stuck during 9/11, but what about okay, so we're going to come back to real quick. How did you learn about slavery? Do you remember how old you were anything like that?
36:32 I'm just in junior, high.
36:35 And how did that affect you?
36:38 Did you feel like it related to you personally, or?
36:44 I don't think I understood the way I do now. Okay, I couldn't say though that I did, but it didn't. You know, now I hear about parents, don't want their kids to learn about slavery because it kind of brings on a sort of residual, taking a page out of the Jewish Playbook at this point in my life. I used to wonder why there was so much emphasis on never forgetting.
37:19 And I would think that something's in history was so horrific. Who could forget them. Like, you don't have to remember that? That, that thing isn't going anywhere and then of course, I learned that there were people who were trying to deny the Holocaust there still are and there's actually a movie coming out of interviews of Nazis that this man did slavery. So in terms of the Red Maple Place project,
37:49 How do you think it relates to reparation civil rights environmental racism poor versus middle-class, black lives matter. And I just also want to say that this is the first anniversary of George Floyd's death. Today me that we are doing this interview on this day, you know, and I've been thinking a lot about that and
38:21 You know, it's like slavery in some ways. Have intended Memorial project for the marker for Howard Cooper. He says slavery, didn't end in 1865, it evolved.
38:44 And I thought, wow. Wow. That is so evolved. And that essentially answers just about every question you ever had. You asked me about red maple play exactly civil rights. Understand that, the game has evolved, and how we play it into this. Well, because we know that, you know, like
39:20 Hitler did a lot of studying on slavery in this country and the systems here and then people in South America, who left, who left, you know, Nazi Germany and went to rule those countries or and they were not say so. And they took a lesson of America's Playbook, right? And and that all boils down to the British, you know, which is, which is a lot of things to think about one, one last thing. This what gives you hope for the future? The future. Yeah. Safe. Really? Okay, believe it or not. It's it is absolutely my face. I say my prayers in the morning. I'm going to ask my grandmother. I didn't know until she was maybe in the last. I didn't know. It would be the last couple of years of her life, but my grandmother's room was downstairs. My phone was upstairs by the time I came downstairs. Usually.
40:20 My mother was at the table having breakfast and reading the paper. Okay. Well, I realize my grandmother said her prayers at night and in the morning.
40:31 So I realized just like a day ago. I was like what's more important meditation or your prayers and I was like my prayers. If I don't say my prayers I have sometimes the worst day.
40:47 The worst day and so it's just that it is. It's a faith spice and what I would have to call an irrational exuberance.
41:09 Alan Greenspan.
41:17 Well Nancy, I have a lot of love and respect for you. And I'm so glad that we got to do this together. It was a great blessing. Thank you so much for the invitation. Thank you for your trust. And I'm glad your story is out there in the world. Now. There's more conversation exactly.
41:43 Alright, thank you. Thank you.