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 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 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 Janice Allman

Janice Allman was interviewed by Kristin Pinder on November 6, 2010.

Born in 1942, Janice Allman is now sixty-eight years old. She grew up with what she refers to as “Christian heritage,” in a pastor’s home. She was married to Pastor Max Allman until his death seven years ago. She has three children who provided her with fourteen grandchildren. When she is not spending time with family, Mrs. Allman volunteers at the Cancer Center, participates in church activities and manages her cake business.

On Marriage

Janice shares her views on marriage, and discusses her relationship with her late husband, Max.

I really think to have to a good marriage: first of all, it’s got to be grounded with the Lord first. And He’s got to be at the head of your house. And then the Bible says that the man is to be the head of the house. He is to be the spiritual leader. And I think that a man should take that responsibility, and that the wife should let him. Too often I think we tend to think it demeans us, if we can’t have our say. And I’m not saying you’re not supposed to discuss things with each other, I think that’s just common courtesy that you discuss and make plans together. And you make decisions together. But as far as one being over the other, I don’t think being head of the house is being. I didn’t consider him being over me, because he loved and adored me. And he told me that the morning that he died. He came in and said, “I just thank God for you.”

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

On “The Little Things”

The selection below emphasizes the intertwinement of Janice’s idea of God and her daily routine.

I used to sew a lot for people. And I made most of my children’s clothes. And there would be times where I would get very perturbed at my sewing machine because the thread would break, or the bob[bin] would mess up. And I would literally, when I would sit down to sew, I would ask God, “Please, Lord, help this come out.” Maybe my cakes stuck because I didn’t say, “Help my cakes not stuck.” [Both laugh.] I do so much baking that whenever I take a pound cake out of the oven, I always say, “Lord, please let this come out and not stick,” and it does. I mean, you know [laughs]. Of course this was a new recipe and it may be that I just didn’t grease it quite enough at the bottom, but it’s you know. And a lot of people think, “Oh, that’s silly.” But no, I think God is interested in the little things just as good as He is the big things.

Listen to the audio of Janice’s response about the little things.

On Motherhood

Janice discusses what she considers the hardest part of motherhood.

When you see your children hurt. I don’t care how old they get, they’re still your kids. And you think, “Oh, once they get married, they’re gone.” They’re not. And they hurt, you hurt. It’s just like when they were little and they’re sick, you want to take that pain away, but you can’t. You’d like to be suffering for them when they’re hurting, earaches, whatever, whatever their sickness is.

Listen to the audio excerpt about motherhood.

On Giving Back

Janice volunteers regularly at the Cancer Center. The following conveys what inspires her as she works there.

Well I started that two years ago this past May. In fact, I worked six months when I found out I had cancer. A lot of people say, “Oh, I couldn’t stand to work there,” but I tell you what, it will improve your outlook on life, because you see people come through there every age. Old. Young. Newly married. Fathers expecting [their] first child, in there they find out they have cancer. But I don’t care how bad they might look, you rarely hear any negative response. They come in there and say, “Hey, how are you today?” [The cancer patients say,] “I’m good, I’m good,” but yet they look like they could hardly walk through the door.

Listen to the audio about giving back.

On Peace

After discovering she had breast cancer, Janice found herself at a turning point in her life. In this excerpt, she talks about how she felt.

Two years ago when I was told I had breast cancer, it hit me like, “Oh, my goodness. Cancer. The terrible word.” But just as quick, God me gave me peace. And the fact that I’ve got this in control, you know. And a lot of people go all to pieces but that’s not going to heal the cancer, and that’s not going to make it any worse to lose control or to go ballistic. And I know my son came to me, Chris said, “Mom, are you really that calm about this, or are you just putting a show on for us?” And said, “No, God’s given me peace.”

Listen to the audio of Janice’s response about peace.

Interview with Tammy Hayes-Hill

Tammy Hayes-Hill was 47 at the time of the interview, which was on November 8, 2010, and has lived in North Carolina her entire life.  Both her parents were farmers, so she learned the value of hard work at an early age.  She is part white, part African American, and part Native American, more specifically the Occoneechee tribe.  She has worked at Elon University for around 10 years, and if anyone ever has a problem needing solving in Residence Life, Tammy probably knows about it and is helping solve it in some way, shape or form.  She has one child, Brett, who is 22, and a husband, Gary, who works in Physical Plant in Elon as well.

Tammy on Family

Tammy’s brothers were among the first in NC to be integrated into primarily white schools as minorities.  In response to a question about whether she worried about them, Tammy said:

“I didn’t because I was so young.  Just hearing stories as I grew up, yes, I feel like there were some tense times, there were a lot of derogatory and very degrading words that I heard, that were thrown at my brothers and that were said to them.  And yes, as an ethnic person, even to this day you are in fear of your life all the time. And I know that sounds extreme, but you have to really understand, that even though civil rights are there, but it’s almost like you’re in fear that at any time they could be taken away from you.”

Listen to the audio of Tammy’s response:

Tammy on Farm Work

Since farming went back multiple generations on both sides of her family, she was always helping out one of her family members with a farm related task.

“And on the farm, it was always something to do.  If it wasn’t helping in the fields, which in the summer time was a big thing, it was the matter of taking care of whatever needed to be taken care of around the house, around the barn.  I will say at the stores we were always packing soda boxes, we would always have to wipe off counters, if someone came in and you needed to prepare an order of food, even though back then children should not have been doing that, you would chip in and do that.  If it was a time that we were out of school, going in the morning like at five and six o’clock and preparing onions and tea, and preparing the food to be served at the restaurant.  In the summer time you always had to work in tobacco. So we were at the barn, and the girls would stay at the barn to do the tying of the tobacco, and the men would go out and pull the tobacco, and that was an all-day process.  So it was never a time that you didn’t have things to do.”

Listen to the audio of  Tammy’s response about farm work:

Tammy on Work

When asked about what her happiest moment at Elon was, Tammy replied:

“Oh, my happiest moment.  Gosh, there is so many.  I think it’s just the everyday feeling of being valued.  You know, happy moments are like when I see students graduating on graduation day and remembering them as a freshman, and then they have that senior swagger, that confidence and that you know that even though they’re leaving, that you had a special time with them.  And I’ll get a little misty, when I think about that.”

Listen to the audio excerpt:

Tammy on Leisure

When asked about what she did in her free time, Tammy replied:

“Well, I work a lot with my tribe, the Occoneechee tribe, we’re based out of Mebane, and we’re a non-profit.  So, a lot of work with them, there are meetings, there’s a lot of planning that we do.  With being a non-profit we’re always in that fund-raising mode because we survive off of grants and donations and that’s really a lot of time consuming work, but very fulfilling.  You can always find something to do.  Also, I’m part of the Alamance County Astronomy Club, and that is just a great outlet if you’re interested in astronomy, whether you have a total scientific knowledge, or you’re someone just interested in what’s going on in the sky and identifying stuff.  So, I really enjoy that as well as trying my best to connect with my family, working from 7:15 and not getting home till six o’clock, a lot of times I never see my neighbors, even though my in-laws live next door, you’re lucky to get a phone call in to them maybe two or three times a week, so there are a lot things where I catch up on as far as phone calls or going to see people, and being indigenous, I have a lot of relatives around that I really like to stay in touch with.”

Listen to the audio:

Tammy on Traveling

Tammy has never been on a plane, but she still wants to travel.

“No, need to do a lot.  I haven’t had those opportunities; I would love to go everywhere.  I have never flown, and not that that I’m afraid to because I would get on a plane in a heartbeat [laughs], so if there was a space shuttle, yes, I’m there.  Now, I’m not going to go on a cruise, I’ll tell you that.  Water and with me not swimming [AB: And all that recent news anyway.] Well, yes [laughs].  You know, not that I have anything against Spam, not a meal of choice.”

Listen to the audio of Tammy’s response:

Interview with Jeanne Williams

Jeanne Williams was interviewed by Kate MacDonald on April 28, 2010 and May 3, 2010.

Jeanne Williams was around eighty seven years old at the time of the interview.  She was born in Providence, Rhode Island but has lived in North Carolina for around fifty years and currently resides in Burlington, North Carolina.  She has three children, eight grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren. Williams attended the University of Rhode Island as an undergraduate majoring in Biology and Mathematics.  She received her graduate degree through a fellowship from North Carolina State University and became the first woman to receive a degree in Experimental Statistic from that program.  She went on to teach statistics at the University of Connecticut and at Elon University, where she was the first woman chairman of the Department of Business Administration and Economics.  Williams was also the first woman chair of the Alamance Health Planning Council and one of the first women on the board of directors for Alamance ElderCare.  She became one of the first women to be ordained as a deacon at the First Christian United Church of Christ in Burlington, where she continues to teach Sunday school.  In her free time she enjoys reading, gardening, and painting antique trays for her family.

On Women in College in the 1940s

When asked about the reaction to the increase of the number of women in college in the 1940s, Jeanne replied:

Well as more women attended at the University of Rhode Island, we had all kinds of athletic opportunities.  By the senior year I was on the senior basketball team and the senior volleyball team.  And believe it or not we had intramurals and intercollegiate games.  The University of Rhode Island played the University of Connecticut, we played New York University, and several.  But it was all at our own expense at that time for travel.  But girls were really beginning to have visions of continuing higher in education.  You realized that it was in 1881 that girls were first allowed into college, thanks to the American Association of University Women.  So I think that girls have the potential and now-a-days they’re going into math and science and engineering and all of the disciplines that maybe they wouldn’t have years ago.

Listen to the audio of Jeanne’s response about women in college in the 1940s.

On Technological Advancements and Service

When asked about technological advancements and service, Jeanne replied:

I guess you might say life is easier in some senses.  But people haven’t learned I don’t think to use the time that they save from saving devices to use it to good advantage in some cases.  Now we had a period in Burlington when oh community service through all the organizations like Kiwanis and Community Council and all of those different organizations were just wonderful.  And I’m sure there are some that are still very active but we don’t hear so much about the service organizations as we used to.  I don’t know whether it’s because younger people, younger adults, are not joining into these organizations because they’re off playing golf or something like that but the community service it’s important.  Now I know a lot of older people who are volunteers at the hospital and go every week and I think that’s wonderful.  I think everybody should have at least one connection to a service organization.

Listen to the audio of Jeanne’s response about technological advancements and service.

On the South

When asked about moving to the South, Jeanne replied:

I think I probably had an adjustment when I first moved to the south as a family to Crammerton.  But everybody was very welcoming and hospitable and I think that we made our contacts immediately through the church and through the neighbors.  We just had good relationships there and the children had friends and that was important.  I think anybody moving around for them it’s important to make contacts through the church, whatever church, because then you have friends that you have something in common with.  And then your children have some friends with the same interests.  It’s just been a very good experience to do that.)

Listen to the audio of Jeanne’s response about moving South.

On Raising Children

When asked about her philosophy concerning child rearing, Jeanne explains:

I suppose that we needed discipline but we also wanted them to learn on their own.  And we encouraged reading from very early ages and responsibility for them to learn as they run along in school, to develop their own responsibilities.  They’ve all done very well, and as I say, have gone to graduate school.

Listen to the audio of Jeanne’s response about raising children.

On Retirement

Jeanne is a retired professor.  When asked about her retirement she replied:

I have time on my hands [laughs].  Like I said, I am teaching a study course and I also teach Sunday school.  I think it’s so important when you quote “retire,” because you don’t really retire, to keep your body moving and to keep your mind moving.  And the people that don’t do this you can see them, should I say, going downhill?

Listen to the audio of Jeanne’s response about retirement.

Interview with Mary Ellen Boyle

Mary Ellen Boyle was interviewed by Michelle Illar on date April 20, 2010.

Mary Ellen Boyle is 87 years old and currently resides in the Twin Lakes Community where she receives assistance while living with Parkinson’s disease. She was born and grew up in nearby Mebane and attended Louisburg College and East Carolina University on her way to becoming an elementary school teacher. She taught at Gibsonville Elementary School for 27 years. During that time she married and raised two daughters. She currently has two daughters, four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Mary Ellen’s thoughts on going to church

Mary Ellen values her religion.  As Mary Ellen said in the interview:

My brother, my sister and I went to church every time the doors opened. It made me so sick of it. I didn’t want to but now I’m so grateful that we did that. Had that opportunity. Now my grandchildren don’t go to Sunday school at all; they don’t. They don’t go to church, not all of them, but most of them don’t.

Listen to the audio of Mary Ellen’s response about going to church.

Mary Ellen’s thoughts on changes in society

Mary Ellen thinks society has changed in many ways. She noted:

Well it’s changed in many ways. I think it’s too bad that people aren’t as many Christians as we thought there were in our country. That’s bad I think. Well, I don’t know, people just don’t have the right attitude I think, about getting along with people and what they do to help the situation. It’s really sad when you think about it. I think it’s so good to see that people are pitching in and helping the hungry. I didn’t realize that many hungry people in the United States, and overseas too.

Listen to the audio of Mary Ellen’s response about changes in society.

Mary Ellen’s thoughts on education

On her way to becoming a teacher, Mary Ellen enjoyed her education. She said:

Well I went to Louisburg, two years. And we couldn’t dance when I first went there. It was a Methodist college. And finally they started letting the students dance after dinner, in the social hall. We couldn’t even walk with boys around the campus when I first went there. I loved Louisburg. It was little. It was just fun. But I transferred, and my two roommates, to East Carolina. We liked that too. It was bigger than Louisburg, we felt kind of lost. We could dance there all we wanted to. I took most of my training for being an elementary teacher there, of course. One little boy I remember from there, I remembered his name until just recently, and thought about lately. But he was a cute little boy. And the little girls too, when we did practice teaching. But I can’t remember his name. But I’d love to see him [laughs]. Let’s see. We used to walk all the way to the Methodist church on Sundays, my roommates and I. Across town, to church. And we’d stop up town to eat breakfast at the drug store. Here I go again. We went to Overtown Inn, the Marines were there. We’d meet them and they’d take us up there and we’d dance. It was fun.

Listen to the audio excerpt about Mary Ellen’s education experiences.

Mary Ellen’s thoughts on regrets in life

Mary Ellen is very satisfied with her life, however, there was one thing she always thought would be a fun job.

I wanted to be an airline hostess one time. I wasn’t big enough I don’t think and couldn’t have passed the test anyway. But I always thought it would be fun to be an airline host. More so then than now, too dangerous now.

Listen to the one regret in life.

Mary Ellen’s thoughts about her mother

Mary Ellen loved her mother. She describes her mother’s work experience:

No, she stayed at home. She worked too hard for us. She was the PTA president and did a lot of work in the church and was very good at everything she did. She was a good woman. A good mama.

Listen to the audio of Mary Ellen talk about her mother.

Interview with Caryl Kelso

Caryl Kelso was interviewed by Elizabeth Donovan on April 8th and April 15th 2010.

Caryl Kelso is originally from New York City and she turned Southerner after she and her husband relocated to Whitsett, North Carolina in 1980 for a job opportunity.  Two short years later, her husband sadly passed away from pancreatic cancer.  A single mother with a twelve-year old son at home and two grown daughters, away from her family in New York, she is grateful for the help from her Church family at Sharon Lutheran Church.  She kept going because that’s just what she had to do and didn’t know there was any other choice.  She soon found a new life here when she created a career with a weight loss program and is now in her twenty-eighth year there.  Caryl was able to continue living in her house and now happily has one of her daughter’s families staying with her as well.  She describes her earlier years as a mother and wife as her happiest years but that she is content with her life now as a proud grandmother.  Things have not happened as she had planned but she still says she has been very fortunate and happy with the life she has lived.

On Southern Identity

Caryl had discussed some of the differences she saw between New York City and rural Whitsett, North Carolina.  When asked if she now considers herself a Southerner, she replied:

I consider myself a Southerner because my attitudes and things are different.  Yes, some things, I think, are Yankee probably but I think it’s a good mix.  I like the slower pace, I like the way of living here.  I could not go back to the traffic the way it was when I lived there.  When I go to visit I don’t want to drive.  I don’t want to drive because I still have friends up there that I’ll go to see.  They’ll drive around and I’ll go into the city with them.  That part was nice.  Go to Radio City. Go to Lincoln Center; those kinds of things.  But I wouldn’t want to live there again; much too hectic.  The pace is just too fast.  I like living more leisurely and taking time to enjoy things more.

Listen to the audio of Caryl’s response about her new Southern identity.

On Breast Cancer

In between our interviews Caryl thought of two details she felt were important to mention.  One of these details was her experience with breast cancer:

I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1987 and had a mastectomy and was one of the very fortunate people.  It hadn’t spread anywhere.  It was in the milk ducts and so when they did the mastectomy they got it all and I then had reconstructive surgery the next year.  That was a big influence in how things went down and all because my husband had only died five years before of cancer so it was a very traumatic time for everybody in the family.  I got into a lot of trouble with my children because I got a call from my gynecologist office telling me that they saw something in the mammogram.  He wanted me to go and see a surgeon and I waited until after I had a needle biopsy before I told any of them.  I didn’t want them all worrying and then they told me that if I ever did that to any of them again they’d never talk to me again.  But I just couldn’t see any point of all of us worrying at the same time so I did wait.  I’ve never done that since and I’d never do that to them again.  But it all worked out very well.  I was very fortunate.

Listen to the audio of Caryl’s response about breast cancer.

On Marital Relationship

Caryl and her husband had traditional family gender roles which they both wanted.  The following is an anecdote that highlights how much they enjoyed their relationship together:

He was the head of the household.  Not that I couldn’t do anything I wanted. [BD:  Mm-hmm].  He was always very proud of the stuff that I did.  I remember when I became President of this Lutheran Women’s church group, we only had one car in the family at the time.  He went out and bought me a used Cadillac because a President should ride around in a Cadillac.

Listen to the audio excerpt about Caryl’s marital relationship.

On Gender Double Standards

Caryl  felt the inability for one parent to stay with the children was hurting individuals and thinks companies that allow men to take time off for family is great.  She made a keen observation that there remains a double-standard:

I think that’s great.  I think that’s great because I think that’s important.  I think that’s important.  I really do.  I’ve often said that all this women’s lib.  Yes, women have more rights today than they had.  However, we’re still expected to do all of the things we used to do.  What we have done is we’ve given ourselves the right to work harder but we still have all of the home stuff to take care of too.  A lot of families they do very good jobs of balancing that but a lot of families don’t.

BD:  It’s still if they haven’t had a plan in place, women are still expected…

CK:  Well, I’ll give you an example.  I remember my daughter Donna saying to me the one time.  “Why is it Mom if I want to do something on the weekend, I have to say to Mark ‘Would you watch Jessica on Saturday I want to go and do’’” She said, “If Mark is doing something, he doesn’t tell me or ask me.  He just does it.” That unfortunately is very true, very true.

Listen to the audio about gender double standards.

On Proudest Accomplishments

Caryl was clearly family oriented so her answer to what her proudest accomplishments were came as no surprise:

I would probably say my children and my grandchildren.  That would be, to me, the greatest accomplishment in anybody’s life if they can say, “I’m really proud of my children.”  Yes, they’ve done and had this going on in their lives that weren’t so great at the time but basically I’m very proud of my children.  I’m extremely proud of my grandchildren.  I find that their choices are basically very good.  I think in today’s world you can’t ask for more than that.

Listen to the audio of Caryl’s response on her proudest accomplishments.

Interview with Nancy Hunsucker

Nancy Hunsucker was interviewed by Lauren Spindler on April 18, 2010.

Nancy Hunsucker is 54 years old, and lives with her husband in Wake Forest, North Carolina.  Nancy grew up in Reidsville, and was an only child.  Nancy and her husband have four children, and she is currently a third grade teacher at Aldert Root Elementary School, in Wake County.

Nancy’s Thoughts on Family

When discussing family relationships, Nancy spoke very highly of her aunt, whom she greatly admired.

My aunt who I’ve always been extremely close to, she never married, and my children were like her grandchildren because my mom worked. When my children had chicken pox my mom would say, “Well call Aunt Parilee,” that was her name, “and see if she’ll come.”  So Anna had always known my aunt almost like a grandmother because my mother died back in ’86.  So my mother never ever knew about my youngest son or Anna.  So she kind of was like the grandmother.  She was really cool because she was just a year older than my mom and she had these hot pink high heeled shoes and I thought it was so cool to go out there and just get in her shoes, get in her car and just pretend to be driving that car all over the place.  I just spent a lot of time with her, just hanging out with her and watching her get dressed, and I don’t know, just simple fun stuff. 

Listen to the audio of Nancy’s response about her aunt.

On High School 

When we discussed her high school career, Nancy described this story.

Well, I told you I was in the Bible club, which was very unusual for a high school to even have; we had Bible classes we could take.  I was in a group, I wasn’t in the popular group, the real popular group, and I wasn’t in the really unpopular group, but I was in this middle, really Christian group.  But I never exactly fit in really.  Because it was very fundamental, in that, I mean I took Bible classes, I loved learning all the stories and the history behind it all.  But they believed that woman should not be ministers and a woman’s place was in the home.  I never was exactly like that.  I didn’t see anything wrong with women being ministers.  But I dated a guy in high school for four years, well, tenth, eleventh and twelfth and part of my freshman year in college.  He was really into the Bible and all that part of the religion and everything.  So I had a really hard time with it because I questioned things, and you weren’t supposed to question things.

Listen to the audio of Nany’s response about high school.

Nancy’s thoughts on teaching

When asked if she had always wanted to teach, Nancy said:

When I was growing up, and then going to college, you went to college you majored in something. You worked for a little while, just until you found your husband then you were supposed to get married and then you could just have your children and who cared about whether you worked or not.  My goal was to just teach, have children, and then quit teaching, but I loved it.  I guess it’s the drama queen in me, I love, I just love teaching.  I love to see what I can do to change kid’s lives.

Listen to the audio excerpt about Nancy’s thoughts on teaching.

On Historically Significant Events

When discussing historical events during her lifetime, Nancy recalled this:

the 9/11 when you were just really scared because you weren’t sure what was happening.  For that one day, everybody was, well everybody was afraid that they were going to go and try to hit every capital city in America.  Teaching in a capital city, everybody was really worried about what was going on, and that was really scary because you realize something bad happened but you couldn’t act like anything bad had happened.  You couldn’t wait until there was a break so you could go talk to somebody to see what was going on. 

Listen to the audio about this event.

Advice for Future Generations of Women

When asked what her advice would be to future generations of women, Nancy laughed and said:

Listen to your parents.  I would say, soak up your experiences.  It is true that, you say you won’t turn into your mom, but you do, even though you think you won’t.  Don’t see older people as not having some kind of advice to offer you, you don’t always have to agree with everything, but don’t just discount what people tell you just because of the age they are, the age you are.  There’s wisdom from older generations, there’s always wisdom.  There’s also wisdom from mistakes that other people can help you avoid if you will just pay attention.  I think sometimes we don’t wholly think so differently, I know they don’t know what I’m going through but they really do know, they really do know.  They really were your age at one time, they really did have those feelings and those thoughts.  They really can empathize with you, even though you may not think they can.

Listen to the audio of Nancy’s advice.

Interview with Mary Ann Inabnit

Mary Ann Inabnit was interviewed by Meaghan Harkins on Arpil 19, 2010

Mary Ann was born in South Carolina but moved to North Carolina to teach. She met her husband in North Carolina and after their marriage they went on to have six children. She graduated from Winthrop College with a teaching certificate and taught typing and shorthand to high school students for five years. She now works at Belk Library at Elon University with the periodicals. She loves spending time with her family, visiting friends, and helping her church. Mary Ann Inabnit was eighty years old when this interview took place.

On Family

Mary Ann idolized her brothers and loved to be with them. Here she describes playing with her brothers:

Very good. Fun. They would let me play football with them on Sunday afternoon in our pasture. A lot of their friends would come to play and they would let me center the ball. You know what that is, centering the ball? Then I would have to get out but I was used so that was good. I had fun doing that. And often they would want to go away to play and they would let me sit on the front door step and let me hold their little knife or their little buckeye.

Listen to the audio of Mary Ann describes playing with her brothers.

On Education

Mary believes that education is a very important thing in everyone’s life and talks about her own school experience:

The school I went to when I was very young was the first grade through the fourth grade in one room. This was a small country school called Smith School and the other grade was fifth through seventh. I had a wonderful teacher and she wore high heeled shoes and I just thought that was the most wonderful thing. I would come home from school and get my mother’s high heeled shoes and prance around. I had a good experience in grammar school and from that I went to high school at Anderson, the city of Anderson and had good time at that time. We only had eleven grades. So I went off to college when I was sixteen and graduated when I was 20.

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

On Where You Live

Mary enjoys living in North Carolina and she explains why she feels that way:

It has made my life very enjoyable. Happiness is from within. So I think you could, if you chose, live anywhere if you were going to be happy you could be happy. Do you follow me? You don’t have to be at a certain place. But North Carolina is an easy place to live and we’ve been fortunate to have good schools, churches that we’ve enjoyed and appreciated. And friends that we’ve appreciated. Elon has been very meaningful to us.

Listen to the audio excerpt about Mary Ann’s experience of living in North Carolina.

On Women Today

When asked if she had any advice for young women today, this is what she responded with

I want people, young people to be true to themselves and to aspire to make their life worthwhile. Giving up themselves to others in various ways. You can do that in numerous ways but I think that’s something that you, Meaghan would aspire to do. Find a position or job, it doesn’t have to be a great job but do the best you can with it and help others as much as you can. Does that make sense?

Listen to the audio about what should be important to young women today.

On the War

Mary had two older brothers who both fought in World War II. This is her description of what she did the day Pearl Harbor happened.

On that day of Pearl Harbor it was Sunday. My mother and I been to church and to Sunday school and had come home. My daddy’s brother, from Anderson, we lived in the country about seven miles from the city of Anderson, South Carolina. My uncle and his wife came to our house and picked my mother and me up. Both of the boys were at Clemson. Both of my brothers and we went up to Clemson to see them on that day. I had never ever seen a group of boys. None of them were smiling. It was a military school, Clemson was at that time. Of course, they knew where they were going. And my brother Davey graduated in May and he went into the army in June. Then my other brother was a sophomore at Clemson at that time and he went that summer and had to come back to Clemson after the war and graduate. But it was a sad day, difficult day. But I was glad now we got to go see them that day.

Listen to the audio of Mary Ann’s response about the day of Pearl Harbor.