Fordham University            The Jesuit University of New York


Ed Tucker, John McGilcrest, Ron Nelson

51st Interview
Interviewee: Ed Tucker, John McGilcrest, and Ron Nelson
Interviewer: Mark Naison
No Date of Interview
Summarized by Alice Stryker

Ed Tucker’s family moved to New York shortly after WWII, his father was a veteran. Ed was born in Morrisania Hospital in 1943 and the family lived on Prospect Avenue. John McGilcrest’s family, both sides from Jamaica, moved to New York after World War I. His father worked at a fragrance factory and was part of the Teamsters. Ron Nelson’s family moved to the Bronx during WWII from Harlem.
The neighborhood Ron lived in was mostly Jewish, whereas John and Ed were growing up in neighborhoods that were mostly Africa-American. All of them boys went to St. Anthony’s. Parents and adults in the community believed that the education provided at St. Anthony’s was much better than the education their children would receive at the public schools. While at this school, the girls who would later become the Chantells also went there. They do not remember being made fun of for wearing a uniform or going to a Catholic school by other children in their neighborhoods. There was a lot of pride in going to that school. Many of their friends from school went to college. However, many of the rougher children did not, and instead became cops or city workers.
As kids, the boys not only had friends at St. Anthony’s, but also from their neighborhood. These friends would play street games together and watch TV. They also describe the music scene in their neighborhoods. Ron studied music briefly with a woman in Manhattan. At the time Latin music was making its way into the mainstream. Rock’n Roll and calypso were also popular.
John remembers that his parents were his main inspiration for going to college and his also had a lot of support from the staff at St. Anthony’s, who constantly encouraged the students to go to college. 
No one remembers a violent presence of gangs. They were there, but if you did not bother them, they would not bother you. If the High Schools they attended, Cardinal Hayes for Ron and John and Fordham Prep for Ed, found out they were in a gang, they would be expelled.
Ron initially went to CCNY, then went to Hillsdale in the Midwest for college. John went to Iona College then fought in Vietnam. Ed went from Fordham Prep to Fordham University.
In the sixties and seventies, Ron noticed that the area began to deteriorate because of drugs. Ron and Ed ended up working for the New York State Narcotic Emission Control Commission. In 1966, when Ron came back from school, there were no yellow cabs coming to the Bronx. Shortly thereafter, all three men tried to convince their parents to move out of the Bronx because of how violent and dangerous the borough had become.

Keywords: Morrisania, Morrisania Hospital, Prospect Avenue, Teamsters, St. Anthony’s, The Chantells, Catholic Youth Organization, gangs, Fordham Prep, Cardinal Hayes, CCNY, Hillsdale, Iona College, Fordham University, New York State Narcotic Emission,


© 2009 Bronx African-American History Project at Fordham University

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