|I: How old
W: I'm 62.
I: 62. Never married?
W: Yes. Twice.
I: Twice. How old were
you the first time?
W: I was fourteen.
I: 14. What year was
W: I can't even remember
but the second time I got married it was 1943 and I worked most of the
time and seemed to have gotten along pretty good but we had to work
to substitute the things we had to do now. Because the other one wasn't
making much money in order to support her family. I worked and he worked
and we made it good that way. People talkin' about the good old days.
But according to what you were making then and what you're making now
it wasn't no better then, then what you making now. Things wasn't as
high but you wasn't making as much money. See, I worked for $5-$6.00
a week. Yeah, back then, at that time, things were much cheaper but
you still had to work to make ends meet. And they -- a lot of things
that women can do now they could not do then because now women can take
men jobs but they couldn't do it then. There was certain types of work
they wouldn't let women do. Now, I wish I had the opportunity to work
because I could do well and the only thing was you didn't have to have
a lot of education to work then but now you have to have education to
make things meet. You never know what is going to happen back in them
days more than you do now. So, you had to put a little nest egg aside
so if things come up you could have something to lean on. You couldn't
get a lot of insurance like you can today. You couldn't get enough insurance.
A burial then was fifty, seventy-five dollars, one hundred dollars but
you couldn't get over a quarter's worth of insurance. One time its another
one. The women have more opportunities now than they had then because
it was the better jobs for women now then they had.
I: Did you work when
you were first married?
W: Yeah. Yeah. I did
housework. Well, you see, that's the biggest thing women could do except
office work and I did housework. I did housework eight years one place,
five years another,
like that, and we got along fine, just like you are doing now. You know,
people say well that was the good old days but I don't see no difference
with the amount of money you were making. You got to live up to because
things are much higher.
I: Was it hard getting
work to do and housework?
W: No, but it was
I: The Depression didn't
have an effect on that?
W: Yeah, the Depression
had effect on it but if you was a good worker you could always get something
to do. Women could do more than men. Lot of times, the women had to
take over the whole family. I mean, for support, because the husband
couldn't get nothing. Of course, I've never seen the day I was hungry.
We lived all right because I worked during the Depression and then when
we could save some, we save some, then that made us get along when bad
days, worst days, come along. See, my husband was a serviceman.
I: Your first husband?
W: No, my second.
My first husband died early and my second husband was a serviceman and
that meant I didn't have no problem there because when things were rationed.
So, I never saw a hard day if you know what I mean. Just like we can't
get gas now. Always had a chance to have food whenever I wanted in the
I: Did you have any
W: One son, but I
had no problem with him because the government helped me to take care
I: Did your husband
ever help with the housework while you were working?
W: Did he do what?
I: Did he help with
W: Oh, yeah. He would
come when he was there. Then he would come home and wash the dishes
but see, in the mornings before I left home I'd make the beds. He scrubbed
the floors for me and when my son got larger he'd scrub the floors.
The heavy work, my son would help me out with. That and my husband sometimes
too, but I never had it too hard that way.
I: A lot of people were
limiting their families during the Depression. Did you husband wish to
have more children? Or did you wish to have more children?
W: Yes & no. My
husband is christian. He wanted more children but we just didn't have
any. So, we just made it with that one because we didn't have any mo'.
Baby I had before this one died. This one was the only one. It was no
limit to it or nothing like that.
I: Did you go to school,
to high school?
W: No. I finished
grammar school the seventh grade.
I: Would you have liked
to go to high school?
W: I would have loved
to but at that time my parents said they couldn't send me because it
cost mo'. I had to have more clothes and things like that.
I: How large was your
family when you were growing up?
W: There was seven
children and I was the second one.
I: Oh boy. (Laughter)
W: So, now the younger
ones got more education but we older ones couldn't get it. 'Cause a
you know a lot of people in them times said if you could read and write
then that is all you need. When my sisters came along they were younger
so they find out that they had to have a little more. So, they gave
them a little more but at that time people weren't rushing to getting
more education. The biggest thing they want you to do is go to work.
I: What kind of work
did your father do?
W: My father was a
railroad man. See, that's one of the other reasons we never had to suffer
because he made the high salary that weren't common then.
I: Was he in a union?
Did they have unions then?
W: No. See, he worked
Norfolk & Western Railroad. When he left Norfolk & Western he
went to the mountains. So, we always made good money. We always lived
I: Did you always live
around here or when he went to the mines?
W: No. West Virginia.
See, up there, that's the biggest thing a man can do. Mines or railroad.
He worked railroads for years then he had palpitation of the heart,
couldn't get insurance. They wouldn't pass him for the insurance. Then
he went to work for the mines and that was harder work than the railroad.
Because the railroad;
he was public. See, he had worked freight trains until he had worked
himself up to foreman but they find out you have to have examinations
every so often and they find out he had palpitations of the heart. So,
they wouldn't insure him. So then he came out and worked in the mines.
I: Did your mother ever
W: Yeas, my mother
worked too. See, 'cause seven of us an she worked to make the income
for us. So all of us worked pretty hard. Children didn't have the breaks
like they had now. We had to come home and get the coal and clean the
lampshades and put kerosene in the lamps. See, where children don't
have the time to do nothing now but give them the means. See, at that
time, we didn't have time because at the time, we had to get the wood
and coal, clean the mapshades and fill up the maps and all that suff.
Then it's time to get out homework. Then, when we got our homework down,
it's time to go to bed. So, we didn't have time to. I said a lot of
times children get in so much mess if they had to do that like we had
to do. My boy: I made him wash the dishes, sweep the kitchen, later
scrub the kitchen. I let him play. Don't get me wrong. I let him play.
I had a certain time for him to play and a certain time for him to come
in. Some nights he come in I'd make him cook for himself so he could
learn like today. I figure any child should have something to do and
he wouldn't get into so much mess. Now, I could be wrong, just like
you. You a young girl. If you went home and wash your dress or wash
out some underthings or something you wouldn't have time to run the
streets because you have work to do and you've got to get ribbons ready
for tomorrow for your hair. Tha's the way Mama used to do us. Get your
ribbons ready! Get your sock ready! Look! See if you got enough to wear.
I won't be here tomorrow. My mother used to come home and wash for us
on a board. She sometimes wash to 10 o'clock. Next nights, she'd iron
to 11 or 12 o'clock but women don't do that anymore. They run the laundry
'cause that do it too. See, we didn't have all that convenient. We wouldn't
have lights sometimes because you see my daddy worked for Norfolk &
Western and we'd have to live in Norfolk & Western houses. Yeah,
you know you've seen them on the side of the railroad track I reckon.
It looks something like campers. Well, they were like that. We had kerosene
lamps, coal, wood but when he went in the mines we had our own house
and we had electricity and pipes like everybody else. See, if they want
to transfer you on the railroad to another city. That's how I come to
I: When did your parents
buy their house, was that during the Twenties?
W: Yeah, but $400
or $500 then looked like $4000 or $5000 and my father died in 1948 and
we still owned the house.
I: What church did your
family go to?
W: My family was Methodist.
I: Were you married
in the churches then or did you have before the justice of the peace or
something like that?
W: Both of my weddings
were justices of the peace.
I: How about dating?
What was dating like?
W: It was real nice.
I mean, I always had to have a chaperone.
I: Chaperone? Really?
W: See, my mother
and father was always around. My brothers and sisters and all. This
last time I got married I didn't have this because I was already grown
and married or almost grown -- 18 and see I believed that then 'cause
I was married before. My mother was kind of strict about things. There
were things we couldn't do. We couldn't stay out late like girls can
now. Boys couldn't come in and stay half the night and streaking is
out of style.
I: (Laughter) Streaking!
W: So, at that time,
people was most interested in children. Because now all these different
parts -- shucks! We didn't ever lock our doors. We never had to worry
about anybody coming in. Even when we lived downside there, tramps come
along. They didn't even come in. You know, walk right in your house.
But shucks, you can't keeps doors open now. At that time, a persons
word was their mark. If I promised you to be back in five minutes, it
wouldn't be no more than six. Word don't mean nothing no more. I can't
understand it. Now if I promised you I was going to do something I'd
do it. My mother always said, when a person gets to the place they really
ain't no good, then they ain't much, and I was raised up like that and
my father was the same way. If you tell him to be here at ten o'clock
when the clock hit on ten, if he weren't here you can look round the
street and he'd be coming and I'm the same way.
(Inaudible) And if
I promised you something, I'd keep my promise. Just like when I told
you I was going to come over. Well, I found I had something else to
do but I put my things aside and that's the people come along when I
come along. Now when I see people don't do it I wonder why. They don't
have to tell me what they do. If they wasn't going to do it they just
had to say it. You take right now. If we said we had to go someplace
we had to go.
I: So, your parents
were really strict about dating and...
W: Yeah. And you see,
when the boys come to your house, my parents had to know who they was.
Who the parents was. You know, something like that. But now the boys
and girls don't try to cooperate with the parents much. The younger
I see the young girls and boys sass their parents. I told my father
one time to wait a minute I was playing and he told me to come then
and I told him to wait a minute. I never told him that again. (Laughter)
No ma'am! People say, you know, I can't do a thing with that child.
I don't believe that because I've got a son grown and married and that
son is something and if I called him right now I don't care who he is
talking to he'd say wait a minute, I have to see what she wants. I whipped
him one time about doing something. He has a habit of going to his friends
house. They had one on this corner and one up here. So, I tell him now
when you get ready to go to George's house you let me know where you're
going. So when I go get him for lunch I know what house to go to and
I wouldn't be screaming all over the neighborhood. I said, when you
get ready to go up to Claus's (?) you tell me. When you pass by the
house to go to Claus's you just run in here and tell you're going to
Claus's. He did it two or three times but he wouldn't do it. So, I kept
telling him. I said, look, I'm not going to keep on promising you. I'm
going to whip you. The next time I'm going to. He said, I forgot. The
next time he did it I whipped him all the way from Claus's house home.
He never forgot that either. My father and mother did me the same way.
They whipped me about things I did and I didn't forget it. You don't
forget it if you've been whipped. And my mother and father didn't whip
you for any little thing. Mama said, I paying you for doing old. (Laughter)
And they paid you. See, that's the difference and now people think children
is too good to whip. I see a Little boy here the other day, three or
four years old fighting his parents, just like he was a grown man. I
got some neighbors and do you know their children
cuts off here!)
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