Turner, Joel

Part 1 of 3 was recorded at Joel Turner’s house in Tucson, Arizona on February 27th, 2018 and covers the following themes:

  • A brief sketch of Turner’s family history, including his grandfather and father's military service. 

  • Importance of church. 

  • Childhood during the Great Depression. Father’s death. Attending Dunbar school. Stigma of living on WPA relief food. 

  • Shoe shining in downtown Tucson. Informal segregation. Theater experiences, restaurants.  Dealing with the summer heat during the 1930s. 

  • Black geography of Tucson in the 1930s.  Description of Dunbar neighborhood and churches.  Early days of the A Mountain neighborhood. 

  • Swimming in pools and irrigation ditches.  Santa Cruz water. 

  • The diversity of the Dunbar neighborhood. Interracial marriages in Tucson and Nogales. 

  • Poverty, toys, selling ice. Holidays. Hanging out at Estevan Park and the black USO. Food and cooking. 

  • Community transience. 

  • School at Dunbar and college expectations. Experience at Tucson High. Sports segregation. 

  • Experience being racially profiled and harassed by the Tucson Police in the 1930s. 

  • Job as the first black paperboy for the Arizona Daily Star. 

  • Lack of dating scene in high school. 

  • Importance of college and obstacles to attending. 

  • Studying chemistry and math at the UA in the early 1950s. Race and discrimination at the UA. Impossibility of getting hired in corporate chemistry jobs. Differences in job opportunities between Turner’s generation and that of his children. 

  • Daily life during college: study, work, socializing. 

  • Second World War experience in Tucson.   

  • Army ROTC service in college. 

  • Experience as a Lieutenant in the Army during the Korean War.  Racial dynamics within military units.   

  • Return to the US. Commanding a company at Ft. Bragg. Conflict with a white commanding officer and decision to leave Army. 

  • Thoughts on the Korean war. 

Part 2 of 3 was recorded at Joel Turner’s house in Tucson, Arizona on March 22nd, 2018 and covers the following themes:

  • An addendum on childhood in Tucson the 1930s. Building a wagon and picking up fruit.  Domesticating pigeons. Chicken processing. Hanging out along the Santa Cruz. Playing pool at the white USO. Lack of freedom of movement for girls. The Carnegie Library. Basketball at Armory Park. Mother’s conservative Baptist Christianity.  

  • Exploring Japan on R&R during Korean War. Impressions of Korean and Japanese cultures. 

  • Return to US. Impression of San Francisco bay area in the 1950s. 

  • Meeting wife in Alabama, getting married in 1955, long distance marriage while serving in the Army.  

  • Stateside Army experience: maneuvers, drills, living in the South, dealing with discrimination from locals. Investigating a white soldier for a court martial board. 

  • Traveling in the 1950s South.  

  • Departure from Army. 

  • Dental school at Meharry Medical College. 

  • Traveling the south during the Civil Rights Movement and relationship to the movement. 

  • Graduation from dental school in 1961. Dental board experiences in Georgia and Arizona. 

  • Stories of discrimination and kindness across Joel’s life. 

  • Return to Tucson in 1965. 

Part 3 of 3 was recorded at Joel Turner’s house in Tucson, Arizona on April 24th, 2018 and covers the following themes:

  • Turner’s return to Tucson in 1965 and the difficulty of opening an independent dental practice. Bank lending discrimination. Building an office with doctor Joseph Whaley at Grant and 4th Avenue.  

  • Raising children in Tucson during the 1960s and 1970s. Searching for community in Tucson and living in a completely white neighborhoods. 

  • Work overseeing dental care at the Pima County Hospital.  Construction of Kino Hospital. 

  • Heart attack in early 2000s. 

  • Choice and challenge of finding the right neighborhood upon returning to Tucson in 1965. 

  • Black professional class in Tucson in the late 1960s. 

  • Contrast between Turner’s childhood and those of his children. 

  • Running an independent dental practice. Arrival of large insurance companies. 

  • Buying land and building a home in the Catalina Foothills during the early 1970s.  Interactions with neighbors. Children’s experiences at Amphitheater. 

  • The beginning of Kino Community Hospital.  Staffing, money. 

  • Beau Brummel Club and other hangouts during the 1960s-1970s. 

  • Changes in Tucson over Joel’s life. 

PeopleAengus Anderson