To retain our Lincoln Park in Chattanooga, Tennessee is a reminder of our times of segregation. It was during the time African Americans were only allowed into Warner Park only for a once a year’s “city fair.” Lincoln Park, unlike many other venues did allow the freedom of movement and participation in all activities. Whereas so many others of our city’s provided no entrance, limited movement and/or only designated seating for African Americans, usually in the balcony or the rear of the seating areas.
There were three only rides in the park when I grew up. They were the Ferris wheel, the swings ride and a merry go round. There was a swimming pool and areas for sports games, too. If my memory serves me correctly there was a building for selling cook-out influenced foods and vendors who sold “cool outs.” Now they are called “snowballs.”
My years in the forties and fifties are remembered with mostly delight. Lincoln Park was where families gathered for picnics, reunions and just for having fun with all ages. The park also provided the spaces for youth summer day camps for many organizations. Lincoln Park was where I had my swimming lessons during the summers. There we looked forward to seeing many friends and also some old neighbors who were no longer living near-by. Continuous smiling was galore at “our park.”
AS I became an older teen-ager, it was at the Lincoln Park where I met my first “boyfriend.” We enjoyed our times together sitting on available park benches, eating snacks sold at the park and planning our return dates at the park.
Yes, Lincoln Park should be retained as well as other memorable properties that were part of various cultures appreciations. It will provide a history and the space to become shared for all cultural generations to enjoy. We love our park and to remove or destroy it will feel like a death.
Today’s celebration brought in much city leadership, organizational members and leaders, sorority and fraternity members, and other diverse community members from our various neighborhoods. We set back with food and music. It provided, like before, a great setting for reminiscing, too. I purchased a t-shirt with the printing “LINCOLN PARK 2017” and I will wear it often with great pride.
Eva Jo Johnson
Howard School Alumnus