The origin of "Bayside Was a Wilderness Then — Voices from the Black Community" dates back to 1988. Members of the Bayside Historical Society formed a committee and set out to meet and interview longtime residents of Bayside's Black Community. During those talks, shared memories were transcribed and printed in a publication by the same name. A small exhibit at Fort Totten was designed to accompany the project.
Fourteen years later, a newly formed local committee with strong ties to Bayside's Black Community returned to search for and collect yet another group of reminiscences. These new recollections helped to preserve the rich culture of a diminishing population whose many contributions have enriched the community of Bayside. Most of the individuals who participated in this new exhibit live in the area of Bayside which is bordered by Northern Boulevard on the north, Francis Lewis Boulevard on the west, Bell Boulevard on the east and 48th Avenue on the south. A few others come from the area near Crocheron Park and Public School 41.
We are indebted to those who willingly agreed to participate in the new project, entitled "Bayside Was a Wilderness Then — Voices from the Black Community Revisited." We are extremely pleased that the new interviews were recorded, transcribed and combined into a publication. Our thanks go to the following participants for their lively, descriptive and honest accounts of their experiences living in a Bayside of earlier and simpler times: Ethel Smith Baker, Gladys Breeland Blowe, Ann Wooden Delk, Jennie Ganaway, Grace Goldsborough, Dorothy Parris Ovelton, Alice Jean Taylor, Reverend Dona and Mrs. Mable Taylor, Joylette Wilson, Emma McKenzie Young, Ella Mae Wilkinson, and Reverend William H. McKenzie.