Segment 1


Edgar Marion Cole was born in Dallas, Texas in 1925. His parents were poor and he had to help the family financially starting at the age of nine. He had a newspaper route and worked for a grocery. At the time his family did not have running hot water. The seven kids took their baths around a single wood stove. They did not have breakfast in the mornings when they got ready for school. Of the seven children Cole believes that he was the most ambitious. He did not see himself staying in Dallas. After high school he tried to get a scholarship but was turned down. He was confused but not discouraged. He immediately went to the Dallas employment office. The lady in charge asked why he was not in college. When he replied that his parents could not afford it she told him that she would try to do something for him. She called him a few days later and told him that her brother would take him to Prairieview. When the bus got to the main street connecting the campus with the highway he stopped it and Cole got off. Cole quickly got onto the campus and waited for the sun to come up. He spoke to the registrar who told him about the NYA, the National Youth Administration. Cole told the registrar that that was what he wanted to do. He was shown to the bungalows where the NYA students stayed. Cole enjoyed math so he enrolled to take courses in the machine shop. He was paid six dollars per month and trained all day from eight to four then in the evening he would tutor even though he was not a student at the university. Cole stayed with the NYA program until he completed then signed up for advanced training. He was sent to San Louis Obispo. He was the first African American the people of the town had seen. At first there was a lot of fighting but that soon changed. After completing his advanced training he went up to San Francisco. All of the people who took care of him were Anglos. It was a different but pleasant experience for him. When Cole received his draft notice he was excited. His country was at war and he wanted to go fight for it.


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