Office of the Saratoga Springs City Historian West Side Oral Narrative Collection
Anita Skinner Turner Interview
Anita Skinner Turner (1937- ) was born and raised in Saratoga Springs. She shares memories of Black residents and business owners in the Congress Street area, which she calls “Little Harlem.” Anita recalls as a child observing a lively neighborhood from the screened porch of her grandmother’s business, Mrs. Georgia Jackson’s Boarding House. Anita’s grandmother rented rooms to wait staff, racetrack workers, chambermaids, housekeepers, and other local workers. She recalls the twenty-four-hour entertainment district that included Jack’s Harlem Club, Hattie’s Chicken Shack, and other places displaced by Urban Renewal in the 1960s. She remembers entertainers too, including Duke Ellington, Peg Leg Bates, and Phil Black, and she reminisces about the Black Elks Ball that attracted many visitors every August. She also reflects on her family history, including regular train travel from New York City, moving to Saratoga Springs, and her surprise at learning that her mother had been adopted.