Ford Nelson Story By Dr. Yvonne D. Nelson As part of the 2020 NEWSCENE Relevant Facts about Blacks in Memphis, we interviewed Mr. Alfordson Nelson, one of, if not the longest serving employee of WDIA, a radio station that went on the air June 7, 1947, according to several online sources. Alfordson “Ford” Nelson was born June 25, 1925. Raised in the northern section of Memphis, Ford fondly remembered bits and pieces of growing up in the Klondike Neighborhood. “I can remember attending the Klondike School for Kindergarten,” said Nelson, 94 who remembers living at 927 Alaska Street when it was the first street concrete was laid on in the area. “It was a very popular area around Christmas time and at other times when we kids would get on our skates and attract people from all the other streets in the community. We would skate down the concreted street and ride our bicycles on it. We had some good times.” In those days, parents were said to take to naming their children for famous people. Alfordson was named after the famous Ford Motor Company. He had a brother named Thomas Edison Nelson and another brother, who is still living, was named Lindbergh Nelson. When asked, he could not explain who sisters Portia and Josie were named after, but mentioned that Josie played the piano as the children walked from class to class at Manassas High School and later taught music and became a musician at the historic St. John Baptist Church now located on Vance Street. “I was baptized at Friendship Baptist Church and also attended Grant Elementary School,” said Nelson who said the church was still located in North Memphis, but had moved to a new location. “I was a Boy Scout as a kid and I remember joining a quartet at church.” His deep baritone voice, as he recounted, would have the superintendent laughing from the boom, boom sounds of him singing as he alternated from tenor to bass and back again. When asked if his low-pitched voice was something he was born with, Nelson responded, “I guess so. I’m very modest about that you know!” Nelson, who stated he lived in constant fear of his teachers because of corporal punishment, graduated from Manassas High School in the early 40s. 2

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