Richard Keyes and Desirae Washington

Recorded March 9, 2020 Archived March 9, 2020 31:26 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: mby019732


Richard D. Keyes Sr. (85) and his granddaughter Desirae Washington (34) talk about their family history, how they were afforded different opportunities in their lives, and their hopes for the future.

Subject Log / Time Code

DW talks about where her family is from. RK tells DW where his mom and dad's family were from.
DW tells RK what family stories she likes most. They talk about the house parties RK used to throw.
DW talks about where she'd like to be in 5 years.
DW talks about her hopes for her children. RK talks about his hopes for them. They both recall their experiences with doing mushrooms.
DW and RK describe themselves.
RK talks about where he'd like to travel. He reflects on his regret of going to college a little later in life.
DW and RK reflect on the difference in the opportunities they were afforded. DW talks about the parties where people get to express their admiration for RK.
RK shares why he's proud of his family members.


  • Richard Keyes
  • Desirae Washington

Recording Location




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00:04 My name is Desiree, Washington. I'm 34 years old today's date is Monday, March 9th 2020. Where in Fresno California and my interview partner is my grandfather.

00:19 Richard Keyes, and I'm his granddaughter. I'm 85 years old.

00:29 Today's date is Monday, March 9th 2024 in Fresno, California. My interview partner is my granddaughter Desiree.

00:41 And I just said she's my granddaughter.

00:50 Grandpa do you want to start?

00:56 Where is your family from and

00:59 Where's your mom's family from? My mom's family is from Ohio. I probably talk about where you guys are from more than where Dad's side of the family as friend because people always ask me if I mixed race and which is cut really annoying. I'm not been from to my knowledge. But what I do know about our background is that you guys lived near German people in Ohio and you and Grandma both have German last names so I know that other than African Heritage, there's probably German in there. So I talked about that actually a lot when people ask me that question was too much

01:42 What about your dad's family?

01:45 Oh, you know what? I know grandfather Washington was from Atlanta and grandma is from like a little more area. Is that true though? Are we German we are?

02:00 Black and and more Native American and German but there are Germans and Jews and are on your grandfather's on my on my father's side. Why day is so that's why you have German last names. We are German the German people whose name we took their name was Keiser and they Americanized shortly prior to World War 1.

02:35 And change your name to keys.

02:38 I was Maya.

02:41 As my grandfather's parents, my grandmother's parents were.

02:49 On this is on my father's side. They were the Smith family.

02:53 They they were freed slaves and they lived in London, Ohio. My mother's father or grandfather lived until I was 19 years old.

03:08 He died in 2004. He was born a Slave.

03:12 He lives with us for a while and he up until today. I walked a mile or two every day was William for now.

03:27 I love when you tell me stories.

03:30 Oh, so wait. Okay. So then his parents were German and black. I'm just trying to figure out where the names come in that was on my father's side.

03:50 Black and Jewish, okay.

03:56 My Grandad listen else is Mary and my great-grandmother married a guy named Harris whose father was Jewish name was Nelson Harris.

04:07 And his family were Jewish. We have such an interesting looking family people always want to know why I'm surprised I haven't done any of the DNA stuff yet, but everybody is so beautiful and lots of different skin tones and eye colors in hair so much hair to ask you if you work but I'm glad I asked you to

04:32 What else you got on your list?

04:36 Do you remember any of the stories at the the family told you that you enjoy most what were some of the stories from the family that gives you enjoyed most you know, mom tells me stories. She used to tell me a lot of stories about all the parties that you and Grandma with through at the house. And that sounded like so much fun. My dad told me the story of when he came to one of the parties to meet you and he's told me he was super high, but he didn't know if you guys knew but like I don't know if Mom told me or if Dad told me maybe they both did because I kind of remember her version that she was livid that had come to figure out like that. But she said that you guys hosted all the time and house on Tamil Shanter, right? And she said that you guys at a pool.

05:36 It was the coolest house and all of the friends would always come over here and we always had a big crap. That's so cool. And I'm sad I wasn't alive during that time will I have good memories of like the younger years we used to do a lot. I remember being in your pool what made you guys move from that house to the house that you bought back? We moved to a place where there weren't as many room so that there'd be no place for other people to come back to

06:15 Funny cuz you're my mom's building a huge house that she's hoping that we moved back into I'm like no dude. I used to go every couple years somebody with either separate or divorce or for some reason have to come back home and start all over again.

06:35 Amiri like leopard everybody turned out great

06:43 What do you do for a living?

06:46 I am a co-owner of family restaurant with my dad take 3 Burgers. We had an event there this morning that events is really what I do full-time. I want my bread and butter and then I also have a bar service business. I don't think you understand the bar part of things either you do know is that you don't like it. It's I can't tell which one it is. So like sometimes people need a bar and it's like there's no bar where they are like you're having a party and it's not at like a venue with a bar or it's not at a restaurant. And so you need someone to come and bring a bar who knows the law and who has license to The Rivers you can bring alcohol and that's me.

07:36 Okay, so I've been doing that the last two years and that's been really great in bringing an extra money since

07:47 You know two spirit Monster House.

07:51 Where do you see yourself in the future?

07:54 You look five years out from now for your life look like

08:01 I hope that I am a successful in in like whatever I'm supposed to be doing. I think I'm figuring that out right now. Like I hope by the end of this year. I will know exactly what business I need to invest the most of my time in and so I hope that my future is me flourishing in that. However, I like fine-tune it within this next year. I'm definitely setting a deadline for myself. I'm hoping that I'm successful and I hope but maybe I'm married again maybe

08:39 Seems like I was good for you. You found your person. I'm open to that.

08:50 If you could interview anyone from your life living or dead.

08:55 But not a celebrity who would it be and why?

09:02 Not a celebrity. I mean will this interview is pretty great. Like if it was somebody else asking me the question. I really would have been like my grandpa actually though, I guess if if like I could choose anyone who is living or dead. I would choose Grandpa Washington so I can talk to him again.

09:34 You can oh, what are you doing for your children?

09:41 I don't like really care as much about the academic stuff. I hope that they are as good as me at getting through school at least through college, but I hope that they are creative and that they that they utilize their creative abilities.

10:00 And I hope that they're successful at whatever they do that. They're just like at the top of their game in whatever it is. I don't think I have a specific idea for it.

10:14 Do you have any hopes for my children to be good citizens and productive and self-sufficient?

10:27 And I want them to be ethical and moral people. That's okay. That's that's my only requirement all the rest of the stuff. I fall under all those categories.

10:51 What's the most profound spiritual experience you've ever had?

11:00 And I feel like I like every spiritual experience is profound. Like if you feel like you've connected with yourself on a spiritual level and I feel like I've liked had those moments definitely at church probably several of those moments at church, even though there's not really a part of my life anymore and then like taking mushrooms. Have you ever taking mushrooms before? How'd you like it? I never did it again. What was it about? Was it just the seeing things? I was working in Santa Cruz at UC Santa Cruz.

11:47 And I went to this groove and it wasn't really a party just to get together and people started passing around and I had never gotten even know what do I know anything about it, but I tried it.

12:04 When I get game to I was like never ever ever be like for I have to remember anything that happened or anything that you hallucinated. It's for looking at me. Like I said some pretty crazy stuff and I can't really remember what what I said. Yeah. I'm very very controlled environment where there's not a lot going on and no more than one other person.

12:35 It's great.

12:51 And how would you describe yourself today in the present?

13:00 I would describe myself as

13:05 A scatterbrained single mom business owner with a crazy dog who is like a really good friend.

13:17 And like who's that a really good place emotionally?

13:28 How would you describe yourself today?

13:32 I describe myself as satisfied.

13:38 I feel like I've been sorry see you there any expectations that I had growing up in the housing project.

13:48 I have done.

13:50 Things I never dreamed that would do US Travel that working all over.

13:58 I just done a lot of things in life that are very rewarding and also.

14:08 Far beyond my expectations, but I'm most proud of the fact that in the

14:14 All those years that I was involved and engaging the community.

14:19 I was able to retain my

14:22 My ethical values Island and don't feel like I had to ever succumb to write. Let me know if things go you've also kept a lot of really good friends. If I were going to like look at one person and that I know personally and say that I aspire to have their life. It's definitely you like because you've had like success and business you've had like these really good friendships and great experiences. You've raised like a very successful family. You've done it like really really well if it's like, honestly I kind of hope that I like when I look back at like 85, I hope I'm where you're at.

15:19 I'm always shocked and I'm still here that you track. It makes me laugh. You're like, okay, I'm good. When I was in my forties. I thought if I live to be 45, I'll be lucky.

15:37 But that was during the Civil Rights days. Yeah. Yeah. Well you seem like a lot of stuff and yeah, that makes sense.

15:57 Running out of questions. Okay. Maybe I can ask you some questions. Okay?

16:08 Is there anywhere else that you still want to lick travel anywhere that you haven't been that you think you?

16:15 Like bucket list

16:19 I like to do the the Mediterranean to Northern Mediterranean Cruise go to like Croatian Serbian those places.

16:29 And your Aunt Kim and Greg and I

16:34 On one of our trips to France went to a little village called. Who's this?

16:40 I know just literally a little really yummy you didn't.

16:44 Every day you went down to the to the Central Market Place and bought you food, and then you're not allowed to refrigeration and stuff. It was just really

16:53 Living the life of people who live there. I'd like to do that same kind of thing in some place like Tuscany or some place in Northern Italy. I would also like to do that. I haven't that's one thing. I haven't had the opportunity to do.

17:13 My next big thing is next year. I'm going to go on a Jazz Cruise.

17:26 Do you?

17:30 Do you have anything else that you want to do like?

17:33 Do you want to accomplish in your career or do you I think it's crazy that you're even still like accomplishing things cuz you've been retired for like how many years so I'm on this board. We're going to turn this around you're still like so motivated to work. What's your motivation there? I hope I'm on my way someplace. I love that.

18:01 I don't want to.

18:05 I don't want to sit back and wait definitely definitely no way to live.

18:13 I ain't got a lot of people on and in the process that I come up on things that people want to do together and that

18:22 I get involved and I plan to continue to be involved as long as

18:28 Cuz I can still I'm loosing. I love it.

18:35 They're like any regrets.

18:38 Many regrets

18:50 Probably

18:53 My greatest regret is that

18:58 I didn't go to start the college until after I got out of the service and I was already here.

19:07 Married and then locked into a relationship and

19:12 And it had a lot of responsibilities.

19:17 When I graduated from high school as a science scholarship, but I didn't even have the money for me to pay the other.

19:27 The tuition expenses of going to college so I'll join army.

19:36 Chords when I came back and went to school on the GI bill, but I wish I had found a way I asked later. I realized that I could have done student placements and other things with their engineering firms, that would have allowed me to

19:52 You don't go to go to college and get an engineering degree on the other hand. I got involved in the Civil Rights thing and I really

20:03 Have that became more important in my life than

20:09 Did any of the other stuff I've ever been involved in.

20:14 When I hear stories like that about like

20:19 How you just didn't have the information to go like the direction that probably would have been at like an easier route for you.

20:27 That's Amore that makes me really excited about being a parent cuz I feel like there's most of it I feel like I have no idea what I'm doing but the part where I know that when like my kids need information I'm going to have it like like before they were even born I was like who jumps going to have an internship with this person like I feel like I've been setting the foundation for having children

20:55 4A 4B since way before I had kids and I feel really proud of that. Like there's not a bunch of things but I I would like brag about in terms of my parents act like they eat Cheetos for dinner sometime but like the part where I know they won't ever be like

21:13 What do I do to for college? Where do you know how many credits am I going to need for this or that or should I go should I take up a trade? Like I got all the answers dude. You are solid on that like and I'm happy about that my senior year and actually end of my junior year in high school.

21:35 I work at a glass factory at night and went to school in the daytime and

21:41 Almost all of the people. I worked with in a glass factory.

21:46 Either didn't finish high school or when they did they expected to work in the glass factory the rest of your life.

21:55 That's what people did.

21:58 And then when I got out of service, I work in that then dentist in a steel mill in the same thing. I

22:06 I looked around me and I remember this one guy.

22:10 Who used to come in dressed in a suit completely fully dressed in a suit carrying a briefcase need openings briefcase pull out his work clothes.

22:22 Put on his work clothes and go to work and then come back shower and get completely dressed before he left the mirror and I thought that's a really frustrated. That's really frustrated. Yeah. I know he is he is really not. Do you know found his dream, but I also use one of my points of reference in one of my sources of motivation, you know, when I was in college and then a new kid with dumb or something what happened that was going to set me back. It was like, okay you remember you can

23:05 So I always

23:08 Use those things as motivation to

23:11 To move on I think that's fantastic. I think the fact that you weren't afforded the opportunities and you literally just like made the way for yourself is amazing. Like I found myself during this conversation feeling even myself entitled because so much you don't even know what is expected of us to do these drugs. It was just your going to do these things like I think about how many times you were like you need to be on this border on that border doing this or doing that and now I'm like I am doing it 34 on me for years about this stuff like you were fighting to do stuff. I fought not to do that feels crazy, but I guess that's privileged.

24:08 Well, it's 7 option. Yeah, I never felt like I had that option and my mother was pretty well-educated.

24:20 But she could only teach in segregated schools and still she sold Insurance. She didn't anyting but she wasn't going to do that and I always she was kind of one of my points of reference in life in terms of this.

24:35 Standing by your values.

24:39 Haven't done anything that you think it's right to feel the satisfied with your so glad to hear that. I will go out satisfied. Oh, absolutely later.

24:56 You have like every reason to be see this is what I'm excited for your party though, cuz people just want like her an opportunity to celebrate you that you don't always have a ton of opportunities to be like, hey, you're awesome. Like I'm sure people I call you all the time and talk to you but in this setting it's just an opportunity for a lot of people to say like all the stuff they want to say to you. Everyone's not your best friend like me.

25:36 Yeah.

25:38 Only thing about parties it's like it's the sort of a blur. I mean you're passing it through different people and I think they got a hundred and some people.

25:51 Yeah, no way. I can interact with a hundred people went out that birthday when the power went out. That was that was the most epic. It was fun. That was the most epic best. You were literally sitting in a chair like The Godfather and there was like several adult people to think sitting at your feet like little kids like you are so loved those were people who used to work for me the most part who came down from the Bay Area all your friends stayed you had a party where it was summertime. There was a storm and the power went out and everyone stayed.

26:35 That's like pretty amazing. Yeah, that was fun. But there were people all over my house.

26:48 I bet we will talk about that party forever.

26:56 Well, let me see you do we have any others?

27:17 Well, I heard one work, but I'll go and are you proud of me proud of every one of you guys for different reasons?

27:30 I

27:34 Each one of you has qualities that I think are great and

27:41 None of this ain't none of your

27:45 Your brother is very different than you are your cousins are there really different, you know this whole thing with Sydney recently, you know having that baby that's that was wonderful and I bet seem to top it off for me. It is wonderful that little fat baby as soon as I cannot wait.

28:09 You know the fact that the enemy was able to adopt.

28:14 You have a large family and raising those. I'm really proud of that out of that, you know.

28:19 And being able to incorporate people into our family who are not necessarily.

28:25 Blood relatives, but who are you know?

28:29 As much a part of the family as it is everybody else, you know.

28:34 I don't really know. I'm really proud of that. I can see everybody's.

28:43 Times when they they fell in the got back up at night when when they were growing up. I used to tell him all the time. You can't avoid failure.

28:55 What you can do is get up dust yourself off and keep moving.

29:02 And that's what everybody is that they made mistakes, but they are.

29:09 I get up at 8. Some cells off and they managed to do well all of them.

29:16 So I'm proud of that.

29:20 I like.

29:28 Well, imma I love you and I'm glad we did this today. I said I love you and I'm glad we did this. Love you too, sweetie.

29:38 We're on our last minute now, okay.

29:42 What lessons has your work life taught you?

29:49 To enjoy life at the party.

29:55 You know, I always wondered like you had a really nice job at the University and he will comfortable and you had

30:03 This situation where you could just sort of sit back and retire as a

30:08 University employee and you left and just started doing all these other things. What what was the motivation in? Well, at least for me like this, you know moves around a lot more then and some people they like that straight line and I could have done the straight-line probably did it pretty well, but it's it would have wouldn't have been out the life for me. I think I figured it out pretty young like it's just not for me.

30:46 Okay.

30:53 Well, this is me and Nana.

30:56 Anand enjoyable experience

31:02 I've never done this before so I can add this to my list of things. I've never done before.