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Courtney Leigh Speed

“At Sparrows Point, they would always come here to find out what was happening.”

 

Courtney Leigh Speed is a loving and caring woman who enjoys helping people in every way she can. Most people see her as a community leader. She married the man of her dreams and from there, they owned a store and barber shop in Turner Station, Speed’s Barber and Beauty. Courtney would service the males and females that were employed at Bethlehem Steel at their barber shop. The store that she owns is right next to the barber shop where people can come in and buy things that they need for their family. A goal of hers is to teach children about the history of the area that they are living in so these children are able to experience some of the things they were able to experience. (Written by Ashley Sippel, Kaitlyn Warf, Brittney Falter, Oumar Ballo and Daniel Thompson, UMBC students)

 

My name is Courtney Leigh Speed.

Q: What brought you to Turner Station?

A: Love, love for my husband. I was living in the city on eastside and he came to the city to get a manicure. Not only did he come one week, he came another week and then after the third time the ladies in the salon said, I was not married then “Ms. Jackson, I think he has eyes for you” Oh no he doesn’t he’s coming to get his manicure and that’ s it. But fast forward it ended it up, we got married, and I moved to Turner Station in the 1960’s. When I came in the 60’s there were a few businesses and this is what we were interested in, in redeveloping the businesses and there were several businesses but as many as they had they were on decline. And the area, I had never really heard of Turner Station and I found it to be the ideal place to raise a family because of the faith of the community and the way it had been set up financially and they would always have celebrations where you could have food and fun.

I was involved with the workers as part of them being our clientele at the barbershop and the beauty salon, so there were females that became employed later in life, in the life of Bethlehem Steel, so we serviced those females and males who were employed at Bethlehem Steel. And when they would come over there were many accounts that they would tell us about and when you were employed at the Bethlehem Steel you were top of the salon’s working community. And then as they would have conversations they would tell about some of the dangers of Sparrows Point and they would tell about some of the hot, hot jobs that was given to the blacks only. And they would tell about how many workers were killed but it was never reported and it was a daily death for those who were employees of Bethlehem Steel and we would never know that number because those that have worked there a lot of them are gone now and so has the Bethlehem historic, Bethlehem Steel is no longer operating.

Sparrows Point, Turner Station and the Baber Shop is a triplet that really helped the community to know about what was happening because at the barber shop and at Sparrows Point they would always come here to find out what was happening and sort of was a great bond. And I know, a lot of people think that women talk a lot oh my goodness you should be here sometimes and hear the buzzing that went on in this barbershop. So it was information center, educational center, and it was last and not least a place of grooming center. And everything that needed to be done to have a successful home and marriage was discussed in here. There was not a TV at that time so it was not the days of our lives it was the days of their lives. So this barbershop served as the meeting center and as the political conversation and religious conversation and maybe in between there you might get a haircut. (Edited by Christine Ferrera)

Speed’s Barber Shop