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 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 Cheryl Jeffries

Cheryl Jeffries was interviewed by Joanna Rabiej on November 5, 2010.

Cheryl Jeffries is a primary care physician practicing at Burlington’s Kernodle Clinic.  She was born in Alamance County but moved to Maryland at seven years old when her mother re-married.  She came back to North Carolina when she decided to go Duke University for undergraduate education.  Dr. Jeffries attended medical school at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  Dr. Jeffries is very active in the community and is involved with a faith-based health improvement ministry.  She has also been instrumental in helping her clinic became more welcoming to female physicians.

On being a female African-American doctor

Cheryl tends to feel there are more issues in medicine related to gender rather than race.  This is apparent in her response to some of her experiences:

Female African-American doctor?  Yeah, I have had patients, they think you’re the nurse – and I don’t know if that’s more of a gender thing. You go in the room in the hospital to take a history and examine the patient, and they’re like, “When’s the doctor coming?” “Ma’am, I am the doctor.” Or “Sir, I am the doctor.”  I don’t know so much as a racist thing, probably more of a gender thing. They assume the doctor is going to be a boy, or they did back then, just assume the doctor’s going to be a guy.  When they saw you, and they’re like, “Excuse me, nurse! Nurse!”  That occasionally happens today. When I went into private practice, I think in residency it wasn’t such an issue because you’re taking care of a lot of indigent patients at that time, so they were just happy to get any care that they could get.  There was not a lot of issues of that kind of thing, “I don’t want her taking care of me.”  I don’t ever really remember experiencing that.

Listen to the audio of Cheryl’s response about her experience as a doctor.

On Spirituality

Well, I think, from being young, I’ve always had a spiritual foundation. My theory on happiness is that you have to have something to believe in that’s bigger than yourself, you have to have something meaningful to do, you have to have somebody to love or take care of, and then you have to have something to look forward to.  Those are my four personal things that I need to have in my life to have balance. I’m finding that my daughter is the same way.  So when I’m sort of spiritually out of balance or not spiritually connected, then things aren’t going right. When I don’t feel like I’m involved in some sort of project that is helping somebody else, then things aren’t going right. I always need something to look forward to. I need a trip, or I need a vacation, or I need something to look forward to. I have kids and significant others, there’s always somebody to love and take care of, somebody always has a need.

Listen to the audio of Cheryl’s response about spirituality.

On differences between certain cities in North Carolina

Cheryl has lived in several cities in North Carolina.  Here she describes some of them:

Well, Durham is Durham. I was there at the university. Durham has really grown, and it’s become a very nice town, but at that time, it was Duke, and then it was Durham. The two just didn’t mix.  So I don’t really have much experience with Durham.  Chapel Hill, of course, I think Chapel Hill and Asheville are the two places in North Carolina that are somewhat eclectic and contemporary and are probably the most liberal cities in North Carolina.  I would say Asheville, Asheville’s really eclectic and kind of liberal and Chapel Hill, so Chapel Hill was a fun place to be and to live and to work. Charlotte is a big city. Booming, growing city, and much bigger now than when I was there, I think.  I left Charlotte in 1992, so I was there from 1986 to 1992. Incredible growth, a lot of young people going there to work in the financial industry, and so it was a yuppy, young urban professional-type place.  So it was a good place to be, socially, and when I was in training, even though you’re on call every third night, you still find some time to socialize at that point.  And all the cities are unique. I like North Carolina, I think you get a little bit of everything in North Carolina.

Listen to the audio excerpt about Cheryl describing North Carolina cities.

On her most rewarding community involvement

Community involvement is very important to Cheryl, as seen through the faith-based health improvement ministry related to her work:

I think probably the most rewarding thing has been this faith-based health improvement initiative because I think we’re going to see more and more of that. That’s been fun and rewarding. I can see it carrying on. Every once a year, the group will say, “We need to get another one of those classes! Everybody’s getting fat again! We need to do our class over!” So people, they re-do the class, and people get motivated and get back on track. We have made some changes in our communities and in our churches that alter the eating, and they’ll remind each other. They’re going through the line at the homecoming dinner, “You know you’re not supposed to eat that fried stuff!” So made some changes. We’ve actually had a nutritionist come out, had somebody go out with them shopping at the grocery store. Each week in the class, you do a little different thing. So that’s been fun.

Listen to the audio about the health improvement ministry.

Reflections on her proudest achievements

Cheryl is a very accomplished woman, as a mother and a physician.  Here she discusses some of her most significant sacrifices, choices, and skills:

I don’t know, I think you make sacrifices, and you make choices. I think I’ve made a lot of sacrifices in terms of career things because I wanted to have a family, and my children have always been the most important thing, most important part of my life.  I think that women in general don’t hang their self-worth on their careers or what they do. That’s just a part of who they are. Men tend to have their whole self-worth tied up in their careers and how much money they make and their successes in terms of their careers. I don’t feel that at all.  I mean, I think I’m good at what I do, and I’m probably good at what I do because of the skills that I possess that have nothing to do with medicine. The same skills that I possess that make me good at being a good mommy. So I guess those would probably be the achievements, the chief of staff and being the oldest and only African-American female partner.

Listen to the audio of Cheryl’s response about her proudest achievements.

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 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 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.

Interview with Lucile Stone

Lucile Stone was interviewed by Christopher Payne on November 3rd, 2007.

Lucile Stone was born January 8, 1918, on a farm in the countryside of North Carolina. Throughout her life she saw many societal changes that occurred during the twentieth century, including the invention of the car, the radio, the television and the airplane. Ms. Stone grew up with one brother and five sisters in a time where numerous children were considered necessary to farm life. Ms. Stone attended school in a one-room schoolhouse in her home county, eventually progressing through the grades and attending Eastern Carolina University, where she trained as a teacher. From that point forward Ms. Stone participated in one of the most drastic changes in Southern American society. Following her acceptance of a job as a general administrator of Grove Park Elementary School, Lucile took part in the massive integration process which took place in southern public schools. Later in life, Ms. Stone moved to teaching at Elon University as a professor of elementary education. Lucile has been married twice and had one son with her late first husband. She is currently married to Rev. Dr. William J. Andes and they currently live in Elon, NC. Currently, Ms. Stone enjoys many of the same activities she learned from her mother, while she was a child. She enjoys kitting, sewing and tatting.

Rural Life  

Lucile Stone describes growing up on a farm in the early part of the 20th century:

I was born in 1918, January 8th. I was born at home, as was the general custom at that time. Home for me was a farm, a farm of about 175 or 80 acres and we were [a] live at home family. At that time my father and mother did not own a car. We used a buggy, which was a two person riding area pulled by horse…. We had cows and chickens and we had pigs and we had our own meat, we butchered our own meat. We canned the meat rather than freezing it because we didn’t have freezers at that time. We did not have electricity at that time. There was no rural electricity until my freshman year in college in our area where we lived. There were also no hard surfaced roads.

Listen to the audio of Lucile’s response:

On Race

Lucile describes the process of racial integration at the school she worked at:

I did have the first black teacher, who was in a white school, and that was at the third grade level. We were crowded at that school and were in the process of building the Smith elementary school at that time. We were having to put a whole grade level in an auditorium. I thought that was a good way to put the black teacher so that she would have more help and two other teachers who were outstanding teachers. She herself was quite an outstanding teacher. I put those three in there in an organizational procedure because I thought it would help all that we were trying to do. We wanted it to be as good as it could be. We had one black child who came that year to that school, the first black child who had gone to a white school in Burlington. This child was in third grade. This, I thought, was a good thing to put this black child with this black teacher, who was with three people, two other people and herself in the auditorium. It would give this child experiences with one of his own race, that should help him, and she also would have a better understanding of meeting his needs. That’s where we placed him.

Listen to the audio of Lucile’s response:

The South

Lucile described her thoughts on the South:

I would say for me the South is just a wonderful place to live because of its good climate. I have lived in North Carolina all my life. I have never lived anywhere else than North Carolina so I don’t know much about other areas. I’ve visited in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, much and I know something about the climate there. I prefer the climate in the South. But I know agriculture in the South and I know much about manufacturing. I know a lot about labor unions. I remember as a child, labor unions coming in. The first labor unions I’ve ever heard of. There’s been much good from labor unions. Some have been extremely nice to mention and have caused things to happen that wouldn’t have happened if there had not been such strong labor unions. They did much good, and much needed good that needed to be done – cooperative efforts. Of course we’ve all studied about the times in Reconstruction and Southern people being somewhat different to Northern people. I don’t find that when I really know Northern people. I think that was much like other things that have sort have become custom in word of mouth; if you live them, they’re different. I like the South, I like to live in the South. I don’t really like to live anywhere else although I can acclimate myself wherever I am.

Listen to audio of Lucile’s response:


Lucile described some ways her childhood seems different from childhood today:

I had a childhood that few children have the opportunity for now. I had the discipline. My parents felt that discipline was a growth process. We never had child abuse; we hadn’t heard the word when I grew up. We didn’t know that anyone in the world would ever abuse children. That was not in our vocabulary; it was not in our experience; we would not have known what to do about it because we had never heard of it. People did not have birth control. There were large families, but people were loved, and we always knew that we were loved.

Listen to the audio of Lucile’s response:


Lucile reflected on the many changes she’d witnessed during her lifetime:

I’ve seen everything come in from the radio, the first radio, television, actually the airplane when it first came into being. We were so thrilled when we heard an airplane; we ran out to see it when we were children. Then of course it’s become part of our lives. We’ve gone and come and done everything with it. I’ve seen television come in. I’ve seen black and white, color television. I’ve seen the computer; I’ve seen the progress of all of these. I’ve seen the changes in transportation. I rode a train; as I said, the first time, when I went to East Carolina, in 1935 – first time I’d ever been on a train. I don’t know how a century would be better than this one’s been. My memories are very clear from 1924 – ’23, ’24 -to now, that I’ve seen these things and been a part of it. The development of practically everything we have. The invention and the development after the inventions. My mother had one of the first pedal sewing machines and then now I have digital sewing machines. We’ve come the whole way. I don’t know what’s ahead except it’s all out there, it’s what we do with it. The part that’s so interesting is that it stays out there.

Listen to the audio of Lucile’s response:

Interview with Gregg Sullivan

Gregg Sullivan was interviewed by Alison Kennedy on November 1, 2007.

Gregg Sullivan was almost seventy-three years old at the time of the interview. She grew up in Troy, North Carolina, with her parents and brother, and currently lives in Burlington, North Carolina with her husband, John Sullivan. She has three children and five grandchildren. Gregg attended college at Wake Forest and later completed a degree in Philosophy at Elon University. She received her graduate degree from University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill. Gregg has worked with men in prison, worked with adults in federal programs, worked at Elon University, and served as the associate director of the Methodist student center.  She has frequently spoken to high school and college-aged men and women about sexuality.

On Family

Gregg greatly admired her mother.  This is apparent in the description she provides of her:

My mother was one of the first fifty women lawyers in North Carolina, and practiced law until she had children. But this was back in the twenties and thirties, and in a small town women didn’t have that kind of profession. When she had my brother, she gave up law, which was really a shame because she was good at it and she loved it. She taught school. She taught senior English in high school for forty years, and also drama and public speaking. I think she was the smartest woman I have ever known. I really do believe that. She was absolutely amazing.

Listen to the audio of Gregg’s response about her family.

On breaking traditional gender roles

Gregg mentioned that her father called her an “oddball” when she was a child. When asked why he considered her odd, Gregg responded:

Well, I was never a very good girl. I still don’t know, obviously, how to put on makeup or do my hair. I like digging in the yard, and when I was younger and more physically able, I backpacked, I canoed. I really liked hanging out with men better than women because I thought they were more funny, could do things that were more fun. I love football. I like sports a lot. And my mother was like that. My mother would go to high school football games. Of course she taught all the boys, so she’d run up and down the sidelines yelling for the players, and I would be so embarrassed because I would think, “Why aren’t you at home listening to soap operas on the radio fixing my supper like any normal mother?” But as I got older I thought, “This is wonderful that I have a mother like this.”

Listen to the audio of Gregg’s response about gender.

On motherhood and identity

Gregg explains that being a mother is not what defines her :

Mother really turned us loose when we hit college. She said that you have to learn to hold people close with open arms and that if your children can’t leave home you have not been a good parent. She was always who she was. She was my mother, but she was Nita Winn, and I knew that. That was important to her. And I am Gregg Sullivan, and my definition does not come from being a mother, or a wife, or a grandmother. That’s a part of who I am, but that’s not my core. At my core I am just me. I don’t mean that in a selfish way. I think that’s important. I would say that to you or to any young person. Don’t lose who you are. You don’t owe that to anyone, and it’s a disservice.

Listen to the audio excerpt about Gregg’s thoughts on motherhood.

On Work

For many years, Gregg spoke to high school and college-aged individuals about sexuality. When asked to explain how she became interested in speaking about sexuality, Gregg responded:

Well when I was growing up, my mother was very liberal and very broad-minded and very before her time. But even she – nice people didn’t talk about sex. They had “the talk.” If you were a girl when you started having your periods the commentary was, “Nice girls don’t,” and “Girls are responsible. All boys try, and so it’s up to you to keep that under control.” And then she would mumble something about sex being sacred and holy and her face was colored red as that table, and I would think, “If it’s so sacred and holy, how come you’re looking like that?” So what we learned was just really swapping ignorance on the street corners with our friends who were as stupid as we were. I knew that that wasn’t right. I knew that there were better ways to deal with that.

Listen to the audio about Gregg’s work.

On the South

Gregg loves the South while still being aware of the burdens that it carries. Here, she discusses what she terms the South’s “terrible wounds.”

I’ve always thought that the South is an area that gives you great gifts and also carries with it terrible wounds. Our racial history was awful. There’s no way to make that all right. It wasn’t all right. It was just terrible. My folks were as unprejudiced as any people I’ve ever known, but the culture itself was a terrible culture in that sense. I think that we’re just now beginning to come to terms with the Civil War. I don’t know how to talk about that. If you’ve ever seen Ken Burns’ PBS thing on the Civil War, that explains a lot about the South, I think. The Union Army did to the South what we’re doing to Iraq. They just bombed us. I mean, they didn’t have bombs but they just…I think for a long time that was very raw, and then when people from other areas started coming here, that it was hard for us to accept that graciously.

Listen to the audio of Gregg’s thoughts about the South.