Nina Talbot

Painter - Writer
painting, Mrs. Loftin, by Nina Talbot
Mrs. Loftin, oil on canvas, 36 x 36 inches

Neighborhood Folks

Mrs. Loftin

Community Historian
From Allentown, NJ to Fort Greene
“I will take just one day at a time.”

Mrs. Loftin was known as the community historian of Fort Greene in Brooklyn. She worked as a parent volunteer at P.S. 67, known as the Charles Dorsey school, the first free black public school, which originally schooled the children of poor blacks who worked as metal welders during the Revolutionary War down by the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Ms. Loftin’s children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren attended P.S. 67. She worked for many years at the Green Park Care Center until her passing in 2008. She was very active in the community the last few years in regard to displacement of Fort Greene residents as a result of development there. Ms. Greene has been interviewed and archived for The Weeksville Historical Society and the NYU Oral History archives.

Here is her story as she had told it to one of her sons:

History of the Loftin Family coming from Trenton, New Jersey to Brooklyn-Fort Greene, Living in Fort Greene Projects -
My Childhood: I was born in Allentown New Jersey (Parents Unknown). I was left on the doorsteps of an elderly person the neighbors reported me to the authorities. They came and placed me in the orphanage in Trenton. I was given to and elderly Mrs. Spencer, who lived on Spring Street among other blacks who were teachers, funeral pallor directors, hairdressers and mayor Dinkins father who owned a barbershop four doors from where I lived.

I went to Trenton Central High School and by the way there was a black person’s elementary school back there because segregation was practiced at that time. Mrs. Spencer had a boarding house and Mr. Cooper was a math teacher who lived with us. Also across the street where Mr. and Mrs. Hargrave, who were also teachers-she was black and he was white. Just to let you know how it was back then the theatres were also segregated. Since the Hargraves were an interracial couple they had to sit in the balcony of the theatre. They protested, and also contacted the N.A.A.C.P., the Amsterdam News and a lawyer. Therefore they were able to get a seat downstairs.

At eighteen I married a navy man named Timothy Loftin. Immediately after marriage he brought me to Brooklyn New York where we had our eldest daughter Emma Jean. We applied for the projects. When our second child Thomas was born a year later, we were accepted. I moved to 79 North Oxford Walk after Joyce was born. We had six children. I went to P.S. 67 and volunteered my services because Emma Jean went through Sands Jr. High School without receiving a diploma. I became very angry; I respected the school system and was sure they could teach my child. The report cards at that time did not give reading scores. Therefore parents were unaware of the student’s progress. Joining the P.T.A. and talking to parents and helping in school we were able to set a good example for our children. We went on trips, we helped in classrooms and the children really benefited from this experience. My children got good jobs. Emma Jean worked for the telephone company.

I could go on and on, but, I thank P.S. 67 for what I learned. I however in conclusion have lost my husband and three of my children, but as long as God allows me I will take just one day at a time.