Interview with Harris Sharpe

Harris Sharpe was interviewed by Alexandra Sharpe on April 14, 2012

Harris Wade Sharpe was born in the Carr Community in North Carolina in 1935. She had two parents, Jessie and Will, and four older brothers, Jack, Bill, and James. Her family owned a tobacco farm in Carr. She worked on the farm, and at a dress store in Burlington, Belk-Leggett’s department store, banks in Durham and Mebane, the Post Office, and the contracts and grants department at the University of North Carolina. Mrs. Sharpe and her husband Victor Thomas Sharpe have three boys, Tommy, Bob, and Ed. Her husband passed away in January of 2000 after battling an undiagnosed form of lung disease for 27 years. She is also a breast cancer survivor and has been cancer free for five years. Mrs. Sharpe is currently 76 years old and lives in Efland, North Carolina, where she has lived since getting married.

On Being Southern

Oh me, prim and proper [sighs]. You dressed for the occasion, where so many times today I think we dress so different from what I would have dressed – not everybody, but some people. Even back then, I don’t think I can remember ever seeing my daddy go to church in overalls or blue jeans or whatever. He always had a suit. I’m not saying he’d have two or three, but he always had a suit and he wore that to church. Well people today are different because you and Taylor were taught your manners, and when you’re supposed to use them, and how you’re supposed to use them. Now those were taught as well when I was growing up, but just like now all parents didn’t teach them then, and all parents don’t teach them today. There’s a lot of changes, but there’s still a lot of things that haven’t changed.

Listen to the audio of Mrs. Sharpe’s response about expectations in the South.

On Household Work

Mrs. Sharpe was asked how she and her husband divided up the work of their household.

Well, because of the husband I had, I think we did real good. Papa was always willing to help and do his part. When we got home from work it wasn’t, “This is the household – you do it.” He always helped me. Even when the boys were little he would get up at night with them just as much as I did, when we had to get up with them. All I can say is I was very fortunate in that respect.

Listen to the audio of Mrs. Sharpe’s response about gender and work.

On Leisure

In discussing her hobbies, quilting and cooking, Mrs. Sharpe described:

As much as we want to help our children, sometimes our help is more of a hindrance than it is help. I think that night I learned for myself, “I can’t just be a soft pillow for him to fall on.” Sometimes you have to be a hard rock. That’s hard for the parent to accept and I know it’s hard for the child to accept. I think our theory for years is, “Momma’s going to be there,” and momma will be there. But sometimes not in the respect you wanted her to be, but that’s life. We can look at somebody else and say, “Oh my Lord, don’t they know what they’re doing to that child.” You just have to believe inside that if they don’t really know what they’re doing, somebody else is going to come along and show that child the right way.

Listen to the audio excerpt about Mrs. Sharpe’s leisure.

On Raising Children

As much as we want to help our children, sometimes our help is more of a hindrance than it is help. I think that night I learned for myself, “I can’t just be a soft pillow for him to fall on.” Sometimes you have to be a hard rock. That’s hard for the parent to accept and I know it’s hard for the child to accept. I think our theory for years is, “Momma’s going to be there,” and momma will be there. But sometimes not in the respect you wanted her to be, but that’s life. We can look at somebody else and say, “Oh my Lord don’t they know what they’re doing to that child.” You just have to believe inside that if they don’t really know what they’re doing, somebody else is going to come along and show that child the right way.

Listen to the audio about raising children.

On High School

When discussing her high school experiences, she remembered one experience which she really missed out on:

Well, I remember in high school I wanted to play basketball. Oh I wanted to play basketball so bad. Momma and daddy said no because of my knee that I had broken. I begged and I pleaded and finally they says, “Okay we’ll go see your doctor and see what he says.” He looked at me and he says, “No. You cannot play basketball. That’s too much of a risk of doing damage to that knee.” And he said, “Next time it won’t be as easy as it was the last time.” I thought to myself then, “Lord if it’s not as easy as it was the first time, I sure don’t want anything to happen.” I was a cheerleader, not like cheerleaders today. We didn’t throw each other up in the air and all of this. We just led, you know, sayings or little songs or whatever. And then when I wasn’t being a cheerleader, at most of the games I helped keep score.

Listen to the audio of Mrs. Sharpe’s response about her school experiences.

Interview with Mildred Huey

Mildred Huey was interviewed by Britt Johnson on April 22, 2012.

Mildred Huey was born on September 13th, 1933 on a farm in Caswell County, North Carolina. She was married to restaurant owner Ralph Huey, who was nine years her senior, in November 1954. She had two children with Ralph, Ralph Jr. and Debbie. Ralph Sr. passed away in 1973, leaving Mildred with a booming restaurant empire and two teenage children. Mildred had no formal education when it came to running a business; all she had to rely on was the mentoring and information she received from her husband while he was alive. Under Mrs. Huey, the multi-state Huey’s restaurant chain flourished until she sold the last one in 1993. In her free time Mildred loves to travel the world, especially Asia, Europe, and California, and to play golf.

On Food Rationing During the Great Depression

Mildred grew up on a farm in rural North Carolina during the Great Depression but her family didn’t feel the strains of the economic downturn like many others did. She said:

But since we grew our own food, even to the meats, we didn’t worry about going hungry like some people did… As I said, the most I remember was the rationing and stuff how hard it was for people that lived in the city. We could remember the long lines that we saw for people being hungry, but it didn’t affect me because of the fact that in today’s terms, we was “poor.” But I had no idea that I was poor [laughs]. I really didn’t – because we were wealthy in that sense of the word. I had no thoughts of being hungry or anything like a lot of people were in the depression.

Listen to the audio of Mildred’s response about her experiences during the Great Depression.

On Gaining Respect in the Professional Community as a Woman

When Mildred’s husband passed away in 1973 she inherited his large multi-state restaurant empire. Mildred’s personality and determination to be successful garnered respect in an era where women rarely held business executive positions. She noted:

The only time I think that I really felt it was after he passed away. It was hard for you to walk into say, a restaurant equipment company and get the respect that you would have. They would look at you like, “does she really know what she’s really looking for?” Or whatever. It didn’t take them long to know that I wasn’t there just to look and shop; I knew what I came after. But that would probably been the only time and I never felt it too much in the business world and around here. I just never did.  Anything I ever tried to do, I done it [laughs]. They had to just tolerate me. I guess that’s what the best thing you could say for it. I didn’t feel no disrespect because they had to accept me. And what I went after, I got. Does that make sense? That’s the way it is, that’s the way it was. But no, I didn’t get showed no respect. Not in the world that I lived in.

Listen to the audio of Mildred’s response about respect in the professional community.

On Balancing a Career and Family

Trying to balance her successful restaurant empire with being a mother to two children proved a challenge to Mildred. Her children might not have liked her solution, but it allowed them time together. She said:

The hours was long. I usually tried to get there about 8 o’clock in the morning, 8:30, and it was 11 o’clock when we got home at night. That was our pattern of our life. But they adjusted [laughs], they’re fine. They might have been cheated out of some things, but they were there with me and we shared in everything that we had to do together. They might not have liked it. Ralph might not have liked washing dishes, or he might not have liked bussing tables. Debbie might not have liked waiting tables…

Listen to the audio excerpt about Mildred’s experience.

On Integration and the Restaurant

Running a restaurant in the South during the fifties and sixties could have led to major tensions in the community. Mildred reflected on her husband’s fears following the passage of new integration laws:

I think that was his fear when they made it law that they could come into the restaurant. He worried about that more than anything else because of how the white people would react. And I would say, “Ralph, it’s the law. If the white ones can’t accept it they can’t come.” He says, “It could ruin the business.” I says, “Everybody’s got to do it. We’re not just the one.” I knew that we would get the most because we had always made a place for them so they could come and eat or take out and stuff like that. Even in the early fifties and he was in business and small they always came. He always had a big black following. And they all was friends. When that happened he really worried about how to handle it. It was really bad there for a while. We had a few walk out.

Listen to the audio about integrating the restaurant.

On Advice for Younger Generations

Mildred offered advice for the youth of America:

Do anything. Do whatever you want to do, but do it well. Don’t take a backseat to nothing. I tell Ivey [granddaughter] all the time. People say, ”I can’t do this.” I say, “You can do anything you want.” Especially in today’s world. If you’re really willing to sacrifice – to do what you really want to do – because you have to spend all the rest of your life working. And if you’re working at something that you don’t like, it’s not a very pleasant life that you live. So do what you really want to, make the most of it and give it your best. That’s my advice. Good things will come, and it may be hard for you, but good things will come. Eventually you will get there. It might take you a while.

Listen to the audio of Mildred’s advice.

Interview with Brenda Tate

Brenda Tate was interviewed by Sentrell Allen on April 24, 2012.

Brenda Anne Rone was born on September 5, 1947 and raised in Roxboro, North Carolina. She is sixty-five years old. She is the oldest of six children, and her mother raised them as a single parent. Brenda’s  career path included being a house keeper, mill worker, dietician, and finally a dietary supervisor. She is currently disabled due to a severe spinal injury. Brenda decided to separate her life into three chapters, one being family and relationships, the second being her faith, and the third being her life now. She has two children, a daughter and a son, Sheila and Steve Allen, from a previous marriage, and has seven grand kids and two great grandchildren. She is currently married to Kenneth Tate.

On Childhood

When asked what she did for fun when she was a child, Brenda said:

Well, you take like grass, it growed tall, we would plait, like we was plaiting hair and we would get corn out of the garden, and we would just comb that maze, and plait that, we had that for a baby doll and we’d take towels and roll it, roll it and get it.

Listen to the audio of Brenda’s response about her childhood.

On Dating

Brenda described what dating was like when she grew up:

It wasn’t like it was now. We couldn’t date until we was sixteen, seventeen, but when we was sixteen we couldn’t go out; we had to date in the living room. Everybody had a living room; that’s where your boyfriend would come to see you. And mom had a certain time that he had to go – ten o’clock he had to go, whether he had a ride or not. He had to find him a ride; he couldn’t stay there. And we couldn’t go out when we were sixteen years old. And I think that’s better now, because after I growed up I see that when you’re younger you don’t think with your mind; you think with your feelings. And a lot of times your feelings will lead you the wrong way, down the wrong path, and you meet somebody that’s not good for you, instead of waiting for somebody that’s compatible for you. So as a girl dating I was real cautious, yeah.

Listen to the audio of Brenda’s response about dating.

On Work

Over the years Brenda had many jobs but the one she was most proud of was dietary:

I’m into food, so that’s why I worked in dietary. I made sure that the meals were presentable for the residents and made sure they got the diets that they were supposed to have. And I would always tell my staff that you don’t want to give nobody nothing you wouldn’t eat – ’cause you eat with your eyes, if it looks good you’d eat it. So that’s what I liked. I learned how to do everything in the kitchen and dietary. And I taught others how to do it. And I showed them the value of it and just act like that was your mother in the nursing home how would you feed her. You wouldn’t give her cold coffee; you’d make sure it’s hot! You wouldn’t give her cold food. So that’s what I liked doing.

Listen to the audio excerpt about Brenda’s work.

Reflecting Back

Brenda was asked what advice would she give to herself when she was younger.

To my younger self I would say to take it easy, not work so hard, that things come and go in life and you can’t have everything that you want. If you try to work for it, working two or three jobs, you work yourself to death and you wouldn’t be able to enjoy it. So that’s my lesson in life to myself.

Listen to the audio of Brenda’s advice to herself.

Best Experiences

One of my greatest experiences, let’s see…. One of my greatest experiences is well I bake cakes for people and when they come to pick it up they enjoy it so much, they tell other people about it and they call and want it and they’re like “Who made this? Who did it? Who made that?” and yeah, I love that.

Listen to the audio of Brenda’s response about her best experiences.

Interview with Janet Huffstetler

Janet Huffstetler was interviewed by Jordan Steinhauser on April 12, 2012.

Janet Huffstetler, 65 when interviewed, was born in Charlotte, North Carolina and lived in nearby Belmont until the age of ten. After her father was transferred for work, her family moved to Shelby, North Carolina, where she lived until she graduated from high school. Shelby was a very politically active town so Ms. Huffstetler became involved in politics at a young age. She dated her high school sweetheart and they married while attending college at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill. Together they had three children. They later divorced and eventually she remarried and divorced her second husband. Ms. Huffstetler left college and worked as a dental assistant to three professors at the UNC School of Dentistry. She has also worked as an office manager at Corley Redfoot architectural firm for the past 24 years. Her passion, however, was working as an academic tutor for the University of North Carolina men’s basketball team, which she did for 15 years. In 2005, her oldest son was killed in an automobile accident, which sent her into a deep depression. Today, she is healthy and enjoying spending time with her two grandchildren and catching up on television shows she was deprived of while working two full time jobs.

On Politics in Shelby, NC

They got young people involved very early in politics in Shelby. It was kind of interesting because it was a stronghold for the Democratic Party and my family was Republican [laughs]. So my dad said, “Don’t ever tell anybody,” and we didn’t. And I stayed pretty true to my dad until John Kennedy came along, and he sort of changed everything for young people because he was so young and so vibrant and wanted young people, wanted to get them involved, so I switched over at that time, and during high school, worked in his campaign. [JS: Wow.] Well, locally. But that was something you did as a teenager in Shelby. You worked in campaigns. You were just getting ready for your future because in Shelby it would be political.

Listen to the audio of Janet’s response about politics.

On the integration of her high school

During her senior year, Janet’s high school integrated with only one black student. This excerpt elaborates on that time:

I felt very sorry for the young man because we only had one that was willing to come. He happened to be the son of a man I had known almost my whole life because he was the sexton of our church and was very active with our youth groups and everything. Everybody loved Ray. We all knew that he was an activist in Civil Rights, but then his son was the first one that would come to the high school. And I was told not to be too nice to him. That really disturbed me, but things were so uneasy and actually it was his father who told me that… He told all of us as a group to be nice to his son, but that we didn’t have to go out of our way and put ourselves in jeopardy. It was a very uneasy time.

Listen to the audio of Janet’s response about integration.

On her mother

My mother influenced me because she did not want me to have a career because she had thought that that had not been the best route for her because in my group of friends, she worked and she couldn’t do the bridge clubs and the social things. She said she didn’t want to but I don’t know, sometimes I think later on she felt like that she had missed something. In fact, she got very upset when I joined the…what is the school club, the Future Teachers of America or something? [laughs] Yeah. And she said, “Oh no, no, no, no! You can’t be! You can’t be a teacher!”

Listen to the audio excerpt about the influence Janet’s mother had on her.

On going back to and finishing college

I look back on that now, it was mainly just to say that I did rather than going for something. You know what I mean? [JS: Mm-hmm.] That part I regret. They just kept saying, “You’ve got to go back. You’ve got to finish. You can’t not do this.” Yet I didn’t have anything in mind. It was just knock out the courses. But that was kind of the way so many of my friends were. It was like we’ve just got to do this and get it over with. That was just not something that we had to worry about. It was mainly just saying that you went to college, finish college, whatever, and that’s sad that we weren’t given that. It wasn’t a good time because it was hard especially with a child and you still had to do everything at home. It was hard. It’s almost like you don’t remember because my heart wasn’t in it. I think I got more of an education when I was tutoring those kids because I was able to really get into the subjects and learn them and do it. I really think my real college education came with 15 years with tutoring.

Listen to the audio excerpt about Janet’s feelings on college.

On the impact of the men of the Basketball Team

For 15 years, Huffstetler worked as an academic tutor for the University of North Carolina men’s basketball team, and here she reflects on the impact they have had in her life:

One of the members on that team hooked up with me on Facebook, or requested to be my friend… [JS: Mm-hmm.] I wrote back, and I said, “I cannot believe you are befriending me on Facebook [laughs]. You remember me!” or something like that. He wrote back and he said, “Miss Janet, not in five lifetimes would I ever forget you, but especially in this one.” I was so touched because I didn’t think he would forget me, but he just wrote back the most poetic thing! I was just taken aback. They have just meant so much. They could come to us and talk to us when they didn’t feel comfortable with coaches, especially with girlfriend problems or things that I never wanted to know about. [JS: laughs] It was nice that they felt that way. I’ve been told more than once that I was the best white-black mother they’ve ever had [laughs].

Listen to the audio of Janet’s response about the UNC Men’s Basketball team.

Interview with Theresa Greene

Theresa Sigmond Greene was interviewed by Katy Morse on April 11, 2012.

Theresa Greene was born in Catawba County, North Carolina. Her father sold Chevrolets and her mother stayed at home to raise her and her younger brother, Eugene. As a girl, she spent much of her free time working on her grandmother’s farm. While in school, she enjoyed acting in school plays. She graduated from high school as the salutatorian at the age of sixteen. She spent two years working in a nearby glove mill until she reached the age of eighteen, when she was old enough to go to nursing school. After returning home from training and working as a nurse for several years, she went back to school at the School of Public Health in Chapel Hill on a scholarship. The scholarship sent her to work in Burlington, where she has lived ever since. She worked as a nursing director until the age of sixty-five, when she retired. At the time of the interview, she was eighty-eight years old and enjoyed spending her days working in her garden.

On Growing Up During the Great Depression

We did not know that it was a depression. I was born in it so I didn’t know it was a depression. And see, all the children at school my age, we were the same way. And it was out in the country so apparently people didn’t pay as much attention to it because they didn’t starve. They had their own food, and they did their own laundry. I know they had food. They had to buy their meat and sugar and they had wheat. They could take it up to the mill and get it ground. They had corn, take it to the same mill to get their corn meal. So things were a lot different than they are today.

Listen to the audio of Theresa’s response about growing up during the Depression.

On Learning to Sew

Theresa learned to sew after her mother’s prompting:

I took a sewing lesson because I couldn’t sew. I went to the home demonstration people who taught sewing. I went to the class. And so we had to learn to sew. And the first thing she made us make was, guess what? Stretch knits came in and so we had to cut our own patterns. She showed us how to measure ourselves, cut our own pattern, and make those stretch knits. And you know, they were so comfortable. You can’t find the fabric anymore to sew that anymore.

Listen to the audio of Theresa’s response about learning to sew.

On Working in a Glove Mill

I had to wait two years to go into nursing to train because you had to be eighteen. So I got a job in the glove mill in Conover to make some money. I clipped palms. You know gloves have five fingers, well when the lady sewed them up, after they were cut, well they would sew and then I would take a little special pair of scissors and clip the palms – that’s what they’re called – and just lay them over there. And they had to be steamed after that. But I sat there like you and I are sitting and clipped palms. And you made so much an hour. It wasn’t about how many palms you clipped. Some of them are paid by how many a dozen they sewed but see I wasn’t going to be a permanent employee. I was going to leave and so I got a child’s job here. I got an easy job for a person.

Listen to the audio excerpt about Theresa’s experience working in the mill.

Later Work

After the glove factory, Theresa pursued a career in nursing:

After I graduated from training I went back home and I worked in the hospital there in surgery with the surgeons in the morning. In the afternoon I worked in the office. And then I decided I wanted something more than that so I went back to school. I went to the School of Public Health in Chapel Hill and I got a scholarship to go that year and study. I had to work wherever they sent me when I graduated.

Listen to the audio about Theresa’s nursing career.

On Being a North Carolinian:

Oh naturally I’m a North Carolinian. I prefer North Carolina because we have the mountains and the coast. And see we grew up sixteen miles from Asheville, so it was nothing after a Sunday for Dad to drive us up to the mountains and to drive up to Asheville, and coast back down the hills to home. That was fun. So we had a lot of fun. We had good times.

Listen to the audio of Theresa’s thoughts on being a North Carolinian.

Interview with Linda Curry

Linda Curry was interviewed by Lindsay Bell on April 17, 2012.

Linda Curry was born in 1952 in Lenoir, North Carolina, and she has lived in North Carolina her entire life. Her husband, Elon University Professor Bernard Curry, is the pastor at Mt. Zion United Church of God. The interview took place at the Hospice Home of Alamance-Caswell, where her mother is currently infirmed. Her father passed away in July 2011. In addition to her mother, she has one brother, who lives in Lenoir, and a daughter, son-in-law, and grandson, who live in the Burlington area. Linda Curry had been an English Teacher at Western Alamance High School, but is now retired. The interview discusses her experiences with integration, her teaching career, her love for her home state, her current family life, and her experiences with faith.

On School Desegregation

Linda described being one of the first African American children in her grade to desegregate the all-white school:

I went to all black schools up until the sixth grade. And then – I think it was 1965 or 66 – we integrated. And we had to go to the all-white school. And in the eighth grade, I think, we got the new math. So that’s when new math came out, and I was afraid because I was the only black girl. There were four of us in the classroom: three black boys and I was the only black girl. And I was scared to move. And the three boys didn’t come to school half the time. They stayed out a lot. [LB: laughs]. I was afraid to move. And I remember Mrs. Bryant, my teacher, writing stuff on the board and she was going so fast. And I wanted to raise my hand and say, “Stop! I don’t understand, go back.” And she would turn around and ask, “Any questions? Any questions?” And when nobody raised their hand, I wasn’t about to be the first one to raise. So I lost it. And that’s where my math skills went downhill, ever since then.

Listen to the audio about Linda’s thoughts about desegregation.

On Race

Linda remarked on the differences she first noticed between high school in Lenoir and college at North Carolina A&T:

I went to A&T so it was like a totally different ballgame. Because see, in high school, everything was white. White homecoming queen, white president, and I mean white, you know, of a different race. But then when I got to A&T it was like [gasps]. I was shocked because here, you had a sea full of smart black people. The black homecoming queen. “Wow!” By this time, you know, I’m brainwashed thinking, “I can’t be homecoming queen.” Because, you know, it had to be somebody white….I remember they wanted me to run for homecoming queen but I wasn’t about to run to get disappointed. Because I felt there’s no way I could win. [LB: Didn’t want to get your hopes up.] Right, Right. Anyway, when I got to A&T and I see all this, it was like, “Wow. I really can be somebody.” So that kind of encouraged me to continue on with my education.

Listen to the audio of Linda’s thoughts on race.

On Teaching

When asked about her greatest rewards as a teacher, Linda responded:

I guess that’s my greatest reward, when they come back and tell me something I’ve said that really helped them. I always say [with] good teaching sometimes you have to close the book. That’s why I don’t believe in a lot of this testing. Sometimes you’ve got to teach with your heart.

Listen to the audio excerpt Linda’s thoughts on teaching.

On North Carolina

I always say [that] I like calling North Carolina home. It’s a good state to live in. I like the climate. You get a little taste of winter and a little taste of summer – you don’t know which sometimes! [LB: laughs] It’s good. It’s still kind of a slow pace. It’s not just the fast life. Everything still closes down at ten o’clock.

I like North Carolina and I don’t think I’d ever move. If something were to happen to my husband, and I had to marry again, if he couldn’t live in North Carolina, he would have to go. [laughs] I don’t think I’d want to live anywhere else.

Listen to the audio about North Carolina.

On her Accomplishments

I think that’s my greatest accomplishment, being able to stay in my career for the duration. And then I guess my other greatest accomplishment is having Leeya, my daughter.

Listen to the audio of Linda’s thoughts on her accomplishments.

Interview with Patricia Hall

Patricia Hall was interviewed by Courtney Rafael on November 6, 2010.

Pat Hall was born on October 12, 1946, and is sixty-four years old. She was born and raised in Alamance County, and has lived there all of her life. Mrs. Hall lived with her parents until they got a divorce when she was nine. Her mother, Mary, died when she was nine and she moved in with her father, John, and step-mother, Thelma. Mrs. Hall was influenced and helped raised by many members of her family because they all lived in close proximity of each other and worked on the farms together.  She grew up farming, mostly in tobacco and continued to grow tobacco for the first couple of years of her marriage. Mrs. Hall started dating and got married at age sixteen to James Thomas Hall. They had two children, Donnie and Kim, by the time she was eighteen and several years later they had their third child, Lori. Mrs. Hall worked several jobs, including Woolworth’s lunch counter, Glen Raven Mills, Bell’s apparel store, and her current job at Carolina Biological. She has six grandchildren and her proudest achievements in life are her children.

On Equality

Patricia Hall discusses her feelings on equality between males and females today.  As Patricia said in the interview:

Well I am a woman so I should say, “I just think it’s great,” but there again I have a lot of mixed feelings about it. I mean, I remember how life used to be and it was much simpler. Now granted I think that it’s wonderful that if a woman is out there doing certain jobs that she can make what a man could make. I suppose it will never – it’s never going back – you can’t go back. So I mean if a woman is out there doing the same thing a man is doing, then she should be making what a man is making. [CR: I agree.] I know that sounds a little… [CR: No.] I’m sort of torn between that. I mean, I remember how it was, and it seems like if you are coming along today you would look back and think women weren’t treated fairly. But, you know, they didn’t have all the pressure on them that you have today. I mean it was just a whole different world. It was. Things were a lot less complicated.

Listen to the audio of Pat’s response about her feelings on equality.

On Rural Life

Well, when they were real little we were raising tobacco. And actually when your mother was born -[CR: Mm- hmm.] she was probably – maybe a year old – maybe not even a year old – when we decided we were going to move back to where his daddy, his mother, and grandparents lived. And live in this little house and raise tobacco [CR: Mm-hmm.] for this tobacco season. [CR: Right.] But we had to move back and it was probably March, it was still cold. But the house didn’t a bathroom, it didn’t have any running water. It wasn’t even wired for an eclectic stove but he had it wired for an electric stove. But we moved back in this house with two babies in diapers, and no bathroom for one tobacco season. And like I said, that usually starts in March because you’re starting to plant and everything. And it runs through, maybe, October when you’re starting to get everything sold. So we lived there and that was a experience. Going to the laundry mat, pulling water up in a well with two babies in two diapers. And we didn’t have pampers – we had diapers – [CR: Like cloth?] cloth diapers. So that was a experience. And I’d have to take them to the tobacco field in the playpen. And we would sit the playpen up, and they would be right there in the playpen while we were doing tobacco. But, you know, we made a whole lot of money off of that tobacco crop. And so we did it for that one season. [CR: Right.]

Listen to the audio of Pat’s response about rural life.

On Dating – Rules and Restrictions

My daddy had to meet everybody I dated. He had to have them come in and get to know them. And I had to double date, and I had to be home. If Daddy wasn’t there when your date come you had to wait till he got there, because you couldn’t just get in your car and leave. He had to personally see you getting in the car with who ever you were going with. And you had to be home by eleven o’clock so if you were at the movies and it ran late, too bad, you had to leave before it ended. Because you had to be home before eleven o’clock or you were going to be grounded. And you knew you better not call and say, “Is it okay if I’m coming late.” You’d be grounded even worse [laughs]. And when we came home from a date we couldn’t sit out in the car. [CR: You came right in?] Yes, you couldn’t pull up in the driveway, and just sit out there with a boy in the car. No, you didn’t do that. So yeah it was pretty strict [laughter] growing up.

Listen to the audio excerpt about Pat’s response about dating – rules and restrictions.

On Work Experiences

Okay. Well she set in front of me – in the machine in front of me. And back then, you know, people would smoke but they would take their breaks and run to the bathroom and have a cigarette or whatever. But when you were in production and you were pushing to make that money, you know. You didn’t do a lot of talking, everybody was really pushing hard. And I can remember one day I was just pushing away trying to make get them stockings sewed, and heard Peggy say, “Pat.” And, you know, I didn’t stop to look. I could hear her saying my name but, you know, I didn’t. She said, “Pat,” and I would say, “What?” [Laughter] And she had the needle – the needle had went down – she got her finger up there, and some how another that needle went down through her finger. [CR: Ahh. Oh my gosh.] And she was just sitting there with the needle through her finger. And I said, “Oh Peggy!” [Laughs] [CR: Like all the way through?] Yeah. Oh Peggy [laughs]! [CR: Oh, gross.] And they got it out. They had to take her to get her a tetanus shot. I mean, it was like a when they pierce your ear, you know? It was a little sharp needle. [CR: But all the way through her finger, uhh?] Uh-uhn. It went right down through there, and her little finger was sort of hung right there [laughs].

Listen to the audio about Pat’s work experiences.

On Southern Women

Asked about the ideal appearance for Southern women, Pat explained:

Well, you always wanted to look nice. You wouldn’t have went out in public not looking nice, you know. When I go out now, that’s one of things I’ve noticed that’s changed so much. You know, when we were growing up and coming along – when we went places and went out in public – I mean, you were dressed. [CR: Mm-hmm.] Your hair was fixed, your make-up was on, and you were dressed. But now you go out, and I mean you see people out anywhere – [CR: I know.] they just don’t take any pride in their appearance. I don’t know if I gave you a good description [CR: You did.] of a Southern belle. But you know, I think it’s a stereotype when they say Southern belle and people are thinking of somebody in a ball gown. But [CR: Yeah.] you know, a Southern belle to me is just a, you know, a lady that’s well groomed and well dressed. And in my era, when I’m saying my time – that a Southern girl was someone that took a lot of pride in their appearance, and their appearance of their home, and their family. And they took a lot of pride in their manners, being polite…

Listen to the audio of Pat’s response about Southern women.

Interview with Ann Reynolds

Ann Reynolds was interviewed by Sarah Graves on November 3, 2010.

Ann Reynolds grew up in a Christian home in Wilkesboro, North Carolina with her mom, dad and brother. She lived there till she left to go to Agnus Scott, an all girls college, in Atlanta. After her freshman year she transferred to The University of North Carolina Chapel Hill where she met great friends that she still has today. After college she moved to Charlotte, NC where she became a pharmacist. She met her husband in there, then moved to Burlington for his job after the wedding. She has three children and is a breast cancer survivor. Ann loves to travel and go to her weekly bible studies. Christianity to Ann is about the relationship and not the religion.

On morals in college:

I’ve been a teetotaler my whole life. Kind of made up my mind that people asked me why I’d say, “Number one I don’t like the taste, and number two I don’t want anything that is going to control me, I want to be in control of myself.” [SG: Right.] It hasn’t been a hard challenge. It’s just been one that I have personally had my agenda that I don’t need it, so I’m not going to succumb to what the world says is acceptable, you know? So even through college I was unique.

Listen to the audio of Ann’s response about her morals.

On her and her husband’s relationship

Well, we have grown so much in our faith since then. I would probably, you know, put the Lord first. Another thing is just, I think you need to outdo each other in how much you love each other. I particularly was a taker in our relationship. I saw my mother was a taker in her relationship, if you know what I mean? Fairfax was a natural giver. I don’t mean materially, I meant – he would give up his ways so that I could have my way. That was the example that I had had given to me. When I really started studying the Bible, I just realized that was wrong, total wrong thinking. That I was to be submissive to my husband. We are all to be submissive to each other. But our relationship grew so much more when I understood that how selfish I was. God just started changing me little by little and showing me my selfishness.

Listen to the audio of Ann’s response about her marriage.

Ann explains how she instills Christianity into her children

Well we started out taking them to church all the time. That was never an option whether you go to church at our house, we did. But as I became deeper in my faith and realized it was more a relationship than it was religion. I started living out the relationship, whereas the Lord came first in my life and before He didn’t come first. It was family first. [SG: Right.] Maybe church came high up there, but not Jesus because I didn’t really know that relationship with Jesus so how did I give it to my children. [SG: Right.] I think you live it out and that’s how you show it to your children. [SG: Right.] I think when Heath made that statement our whole family changed when my mom started bible study is because the relationship became real to me and she saw that.

Listen to the audio excerpt about Ann’s life.

Ann was very proud of her children. Here she talks about her oldest daughter, Heath

I always describe Heath to somebody that it was like the light came on in the room when she walked through. [SG: Right.] She was full of joy and just, you know, she was maturing, she was sharing things that were on her heart and just it was great.

Listen to the audio about her children.

Battle with cancer and relationship with God

That is a testimony that I wasn’t afraid. I know that was Him. I knew that the worst thing in life is not dying. If He took my life, He took my life. I knew my family, you know, I knew Heath was a strong enough leader that she would take care of the family from the maternal part. I knew Fairfax would find another wife, that everybody was saved at that point. So death was not really a frightening thing to me. [SG: Oh my gosh.] It wasn’t. He just really, gosh, I just felt the Lord’s presence in a way that I… you don’t ever invite that kind of stuff into your life ‘cause, you just don’t [laughs]. But the challenges of watching God work in the midst of my cancer was really something that I’ll never forget. It taught me that everything in that book over there is true [Pointing toward The Bible].

Listen to the audio of Ann’s response about her cancer experience.

Interview with Susan Yow

Susan Yow was interviewed by Pam Richter on November 4, 2010

Susan Yow is the youngest of four siblings, including her older sister Kay who is one of the most well-renowned college basketball coaches in the history of the sport.  Kay is most known for her perseverance through her battle with breast cancer and recording one of the highest win totals in college basketball history.  Debbie Yow, another one of Susan’s older siblings, is the athletic director at N.C. State University, and their older brother played football at Clemson University.  Susan has made her mark on the athletic world as well.  Throughout her career, Susan has twenty four years of Division I coaching experience and spent four seasons coaching professional in the Women’s National Basketball Association.  She was born on August 5th, 1954 in Gibsonville, N.C. and is the current women’s basketball coach at Belmont Abbey College, located in Charlotte, N.C. 

Kay Yow’s cancer battle

It was hard.  It’s just hard.  But Kay handled it so well, it made it easier for everyone.  It really did.  As it got down to the last year and a half or so, we knew it was terminal.  We’ve always known that.  We knew it was level four cancer, but nobody knows your time or day part in this world.  As it got closer you could see the deterioration in her body, that was hard.  But Kay just did a great job handling it.  It made it really easier for everyone.  I don’t think you can ever prepare for death of someone, but having lost our mom to cancer and watching that, to me I was able to prepare myself a little bit for it.  I really was and to really ponder what it was going to be like not to have her here.  It was hard because she and I talked after every game I had ever coached.  Not to have her to pick up the phone to call her after a game was really really strange and really hard.  The year I was here, the rest of that season, I always called her and told her about the game.  But she made it easy, she really made easy how she handled things and her faith and just her enthusiasm for life.  She never lost that.  It was fun all the way up until the very very end until probably the last three weeks and then she was so weak and was in the hospital and stayed in the hospital and that was a hard time.  But, many many people go through it, you just deal with it

Listen to the audio of Susan’s response about her sister’s cancer battle.

A lesson Kay taught her

One thing she taught me and she kind of taught me this when I was at Elon – whatever you do, do your very very best.  Whatever you do, just do your very very best.  It’s what’s on the inside that counts really.

Listen to the audio of Susan’s response about a lesson her sister taught her.

Challenges with coaching

It’s just a lot of pressure.  I admire those people that do it and can do it with great integrity and not lose their values and not be bought, not sell their soul and put your head down every night.

Listen to the audio excerpt about Susan’s thought on the challenges with coaching.

Difference between men’s and women’s basketball

The biggest difference is an age old problem or concern.  They play above the rim, we play below the rim.  They really do and that’s the biggest difference.  ‘Cause you know we can’t dunk, we can’t do alley oops.  And for that reason we don’t have the power the men have in the game as far as the thrust, and we don’t have the speed nor the quickness that they have, but other than that I think in some regards I think our game might be better because I think we are more fundamental and we play more as a unit and we’re not individualized so much because we don’t have that athleticism.

Listen to the audio about the difference in men’s and women’s basketball.


I think I was called here.  I think I’m supposed to be here.  My Christian faith is where all of my values are wrapped up in; everything is wrapped up in that, the Ten Commandments.  Doing to others that you have them do onto you, it’s all wrapped up into that.

Listen to the audio of Susan’s response about her values.

Interview with Mitchie Hall

Mitchie, born Mildred Hall, was born on November 9, 1927, which at the time of the interview made her 83 years old at the time of the interview. She was born in Liberty, North Carolina to a dairy farmer and a schoolteacher. She was the eighth of nine children born, and has a fraternal twin sister. Her mother was 47 years old when she had her. Her father raised Mitchie on the farm where she worked quite hard throughout her childhood, but her father did not let that interfere with her studies, where he put quite an emphasis for his daughters to get an education. After High School where she was Class President for four years she attended University of North Carolina Greensboro where she received a degree in Housing. Following college she married and after a short stint as an assistant dietitian, focused mainly on raising her three children, two girls and one boy. She is quite religious and that has played a major role in her development as a person.

On Her Name

She reflected on her name and being a twin:

As I said mother was 47 we were the eighth and ninth children that she had had. She had already used the name Mary in a previous child’s name, Mary Catherine, and so she was left to give another name to me thought she had chosen, Martha, Martha Sue and then Mildred Lue, so we would have rhyming name. We had a nice big farmhouse and her bedroom was large, so we had a crib in the bedroom where she and my father slept and it was a nice crib with iron rails. Both of us could sleep in that crib and then I understand that at times she would find us with my thumb in my sister’s mouth and my sister’s thumb in my mouth.

Listen to the audio of Mitchie’s response about her name.

On Her Father Growing Tobacco

Reflecting on her father refusing to grow tobacco:

All of them were separate farms. Ours was probably the largest. It was at the time people were growing tobacco. My father did not believe that tobacco would be good for you. Though tobacco was the money crop in the neighborhood, he refused, we did not ever grow tobacco. He did not like for people to be smoking, he would not allow people the smoke at our house, he always talked against people that were smoking that would cause them to die. If anybody died, it was because they smoked. That was a big embarrassment to us, that he was so vocal against that. However no one in our family smoked, you know, as long they lived.

Listen to the audio of Mitchie’s response.

On Education

Mitchie speaks on her educational experience:

Education was a very big part in our family. That was something we just grew up knowing that we would go to college. Even though we were poor. My sisters had gone to college with father selling produce; at it was then Women’s Colleges UNCG. He would furnish produce to the college for them to go to school. The pecans and at Thanksgiving and Christmas we always sold turkeys. That was how we all went to college, by his determination.

Listen to the audio excerpt about Mitchie’s about her education.

Life During WWII

Mitchie talks about her life during the Second World War:

I mean v-mails and I do remember the sugar rationing. I remember making a speech about raising money for war bond, but I don’t remember raising any money, [NF: Laughs] but maybe we did. We were concerned about the seriousness of the war in Germany and Japan, but we were busy raising the crops because that was just necessary of course most people called it “victory gardens” but ours was more than a victory garden because we were really producing a la sweet potatoes, and we were just selling corn, big things.

Listen to the audio about life during World War Two.

On College Experiences

Mitchie reflects about her experiences on meeting new people and experiences in college:

She was a Christian Scientist it just slipped me. She didn’t try to convert me but her parents did come down to visit two of three times to North Carolina, we would have them. I was so appreciative of everything they did.  I was just a friend to their daughter and so they were really enjoyed having me around, a little country girl that had never seen anything. So they had me to come up for Spring Break to see them and that was my first experience on a train and first experience to NY and it was just such a treat.

Listen to the audio of Mitchie’s response about her college life.