Paula Patterson is an 84 year old Native
Washingtonian. She was born in
the old Freedman’s Hospital (now Howard
University Hospital) on February 8, 1917.
She has lived in Washington, DC all of her life and has resided in
every quadrant of the city except Southwest.
Paula Patterson was educated in the DC Public Schools.
She married Floyd Patterson, her Dunbar
High School sweetheart, and produced four children from their
union, two boys and two girls. Paula
Patterson was widowed in 1972.
One of her fondest memories of growing up in
Washington, DC is going to the Howard Theater as a teenager for the live
performances of some of the world’s greatest Black entertainers (such as Duke
Ellington and Cab
Calloway) many of whom were Washingtonians as well. During this
conversation she shares the concept of and difference between a “Rent
Party” (which her mother would occasionally host) and a “Garage Dance”
(that she regularly attended across town at her “high school
sweetheart’s” house). Horse
drawn wagons and streetcars traveled the streets of D.C. side by side during
Ms. Patterson’s youth while children walked for miles to attend school.
She graduated from Dunbar High School in 1935 and began working for the
Government (like many of her peers) shortly thereafter.
Paula Patterson’s husband, Floyd (not to be confused
with the boxer) was very involved in DC’s social arena and introduced his
wife to the socially active life that she still lives. Floyd Patterson was a musician and entertainment promoter for
many years. He at one time
managed Ike and Tina Turner.
Mrs. Patterson retired from the District Government in
1976; however, she is an extremely active and youthful “retiree”.
At age 84 she still goes to exercise class regularly and volunteers
daily. She has volunteered
regularly at the White
House every Friday since 1994.
She is truly a “people person” and loves the work she has done and
continues to do in Washington, DC with and for such local organizations as DC – Dakar Sister Cities Program,
the Joint Center
for Political and Economic Studies, and Howard University Hospital.
She continues to travel extensively, a practice she and her husband
started when their children were very young.
Her travels have taken her throughout the United States and around the
Her activism keeps her youthful and so do her genes. She ended the conversation because she had to go celebrate her paternal aunt’s 102nd birthday!