Accessibility Navigation:

Conversation with Thomas Walker

Walker, Thomas
Combs, Meredith
Date of Interview: 
Stories and storytellers; Relationships with people and places
Thomas Walker talks about his mom learning to drive and how she voted in 1940.
Charlotte Narrative and Conversation Collection
Collection Description: 
Meredith Combes interviewed Charlotte, NC residents to collect various stories for a class project at UNC Charlotte.
TW (Thomas Walker): [Coughs] Let's see, this is the story of my mother, Agnes Lane Walker dating back to when she had to assume full responsibility for the family, it would be in 1940. We were traveling to Tennessee, my dad had been selected to be a postal-, post office inspector. And they send you on your home territory because you're like the accounting, uh, department for the post office and ( ) and all of that. They send men to Boston, Massachusetts. At that time it was my mother and my, my younger brother, we were all of what, five, uh, five to eight years old. When dad left, of course at that time we lived out in a new home out in the country that he had supervised building except, mother didn't know how to drive.
MC (Meredith Combs): [Laugh]
TW: So we had to have an uncle, who was I swear seven feet tall, who, Uncle Wiler came up to teach my mother how to drive that 1936 Ford. The garage, when the house was built, was on the side of the lot. And there were stones on each side of the driveway into the garage which was under the house. They used to say she known how to back that thing out of there, all four fingers got crunched.
MC: [Laughs]
TW: And uh, 'course they, they got the car repaired and my dad never saw it, I don't know why she was driving anyhow. But she learned how on that old stick-shift car, and we would go periodically for rides with it. It was a four door and we were always put in the back seat. Don't ask me why nobody knew, was thinking in terms of accidents even then. But there's a curve in the road as we go out to the pharma-, out to the drugstore, and making that curve watched my little brother holding on to the car door as it swung out. She was driving, ( ) threw us in the car. Fortunately the, the angle of the hill back went back in so he swung back in which and she pulled him in and locked the doors from that point on, but, uh, she was able to take some-, I mean, she had to take all the responsibilities of the house. Uh, we had a small, I say small farm but at that time we probably had an acre under cultivation ( ) various fruits, plants, vegetables and this sort of thing and she was, had to look after that, of course we had a couple farm animals. We had a white horse, it was a ( ) pony and we used to ride it bareback. We had a pig, the pig was kept to keep the pony calm, and it would follow that pony like a little puppy dog. And we'd go riding down to my grandparent's home place about a half a mile down the road. We'd go down the back way there that pig would go with us and it would spin around and come back with us. The other story about my mother was in the 1940 presidential election. Dad was in Boston at the time and Roosevelt was running for office, second term I guess, no third term and, uh, Wendell Wilky was the Republican nominee. So being the independent woman of the day, which she was not, she wrote my dad, "How should I vote?" He was at the Republican territories that vote for Wilky. So she voted for Wilky, and it was the only vote cast for Wilky in the particular precinct [laughs] of which they were resident. Everybody knew that my mother cast it, and she said, "Well Gabe said this is what to do." My dad's name was Gabriel. Sometimes she called him Gabe. And uh, she had trouble with ( ). Later on, now of course ( ) we lived in ( ) with my dad and then WWII came back, and then we traveled around the country with him. But, later in life my, uh, mother said something on a couple occasions that while she was left alone there, after, after her own desires, that she deeply resented that. She [laughs] that my father [laughs], she said that you owe me but she never knew what to call for what he owed her but she, there was some resentment. I was surprised that she carried it on so beautifully. But uh, yeah. that was the era when the man was the master of the house and the woman ate. He cooked the food, he cleaned the fish, and we had him burn the turkey and take care of him, she was a school teacher. And she was-, not all school teachers [laughs] I've got to watch myself.
MC: // [Laughs] //
TW: // [Laughs] // ( ) And uh, she would do some substitute teaching ( ). That was, well, what she called that introduced into the independent, uh, feminist movement when it wasn't in existence at that day in time.