BY C.S. HOWARD
Alvin Little celebrates his 90th birthday with his daughters: (back row) Constance Phillips, Chrystle Pompey and Barbara Little. (Front) Brea and Cheryl Little and Patricia Ann Knowles.
Alvin Little of Bradenton celebrated his 90th birthday on May 10th. Born in 1926, he has worked as a head waiter, letter carrier and a quiet activist in the 1960s, playing an instrumental part in integrating businesses in the area.
Little volunteered for the United States Navy in August of 1942 at the beginning of World War II, dropping out of high school at the age of 16. He attended Hampton Institute in Virginia from 1942 to 1943 specializing in gasoline and diesel engine repair. After he completed service school, he went on to Portland, Maine working on a patrol craft. He became a Motor Machinist Mate 3rd Class Petty Officer on the cargo ship, Boston College, in the North Atlantic. From there, he went to California for further transfer to the South Pacific. He spent time in Australia and New Zealand, and after the war with Germany ended in 1945, he returned to Manatee County after serving in the Navy for three years, three months and 24 days.
Returning to high school to finish his education, Littes graduated from Lincoln High School in 1947 where he was class salutatorian. After high school, he attended Bethune Cookman College but l e ft school when he married his wife, Rosa Lee. They have been married for 69 years. In order to support his family, he worked several jobs including as a waiter for a number of restaurants including Morrison’s Cafeteria. In 1962, he worked as the head waiter at New York-based, William Talleyhouse Cafeteria. When the restaurant refused to serve black people, Little and his crew threatened to quit until they integrated. It became the first integrated restaurant in Bradenton. In his quiet, unassuming manner, he opened a lot of doors for a lot of people in Manatee County.
Little was later hired by the United States Postal Service in 1964 and worked as a letter carrier before retiring due to disability. He spent 22 years with Barnett Bank where he was in charge of the mail room and has worked as a Certified Nurses Assistant.
Perhaps one of his greatest passions was playing the drums . He worked during the day and played with the band known as the “High Notes”. They played all around the area and at many other venues. They were the “house band” at a drive in theatre bar in Sarasota which was a very popular spot back in the day. He played with such band members as B.C. Pratt, Silas Brown, Ed Jones, Lerue McDuffie, Samuel, Thompson and Violet Swilley, who was vocalist. To this day, he continues to play the drums at his church, St. Mary Missionary Baptist Church in Bradenton.
Little and his wife have six girls , Constance Phillips, Patricia Ann Knowles, Barbara Little, Cheryl Little, Chrystle Pompey and Brea Little. The Littles continue to make their home in Bradenton.