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Interview with Mildred Little Bauguess

Bauguess, Mildred Little
Grundy, Pamela
Date of Interview: 
girls' basketball; Catawba County, NC; women and sports; basketball tournaments; high school sports; Claremont, NC; textile mill recreation; Hanes Hosiery Mill; Olympic games; team sports
A former star basketball player, Mildred Little Bauguess discusses her sports career at Claremont High School. She recalls the accolades, tournament wins, and the opportunities basketball afforded her. She discusses the central role high school basketball played in Claremont's small-town atmosphere. Bauguess shares her experiences as a player on the exclusive Hanes Hosiery Mill women's team, which traveled throughout the country playing both men's and women's teams. She discusses the changes women's basketball underwent as it adopted "boys' rules" of play. Once having the opportunity to play on the US Olympic women's basketball team, Bauguess talks about making the decision to forgo the tournament.
Interview Setting: 
Claremont, NC
Levine Museum of the New South, Basketball Series
Collection Description: 
Interview was produced in conjuntion with an exhibit on basketball at the Levine Museum of the New South.
Interview Audio: 
MB (Mildred Little Bauguess): When I was in the seventh grade school, I played my first basketball tournament at Barium Springs. And [Pause] it was seventh and eighth graders.
PG (Pamela Grundy): Um-hum.
MB: And that was the first year I ever made All-Tournament was in my first basketball tournament. So I thought that would be interesting for you to see. And in, in my scrapbook I had written the people that was on the team. And I then had wrote that I had made to the All-Tournament and--.
PG: Had you played basketball before then? Had you played at home or anything--?
MB: Played out in the yard, you know.
PG: Did you play--? Who did you play with in the yard?
MB: Marilyn at the drug store, my sisters--. Well it was just friends, really. Most of them was in my class at school, and we lived right next to the schoolhouse, all of us did, right around the schoolhouse.
PG: Oh, OK.
MB: And they had a goal up out in the yard, and so we would play after school every evening.
PG: Oh, OK. OK. Did you ever play with any of the boys? Would they--? Would they, did they play with you too or did they play ( )--?
MB: Not at that time, they didn't. That was at the age, you know, where boys and girls just don't like each other too much. You know, when you're about thirt--, twelve and thirteen, you know. [Laughter]
PG: Um-hum. Um-hum.
MB: You go through that. And then when I got in high school, when I was in the, the ninth grade, I was the only one in my class that made the basketball team.
PG: Um-hum.
MB: And this interested all the girls, well, everybody over at the banquet we had, because I had this scrapbook my mother had, had me keep. And in this scrapbook I wrote the names of every ball team we played, whether we won or lost, what our scores was and how, how much I played. The very first game I played on the varsity team, I played one minute.
PG: Um-hum.
MB: And everybody thought that it was interesting to know that I played in every basketball game from the very first one when I got in high school until I graduated.
PG: Well, that was--. They get used to seeing you out there, I guess.
MB: Yeah. And this is, you know, just like quarters and all. And I, sometimes I played just about the whole game the year I was in the, the--. That was when I was in the ninth grade.
PG: Um-hum.
MB: I also have passes for the, the adult, what was the high school Barium Springs tournament. I had my passes for it. And this is how I looked . If I wasn't a skinny little [Laughter] little girl.
PG: [Laughter] That's a wonderful picture. Yeah, look at that. Looks like you were, you were pretty tall. Where you taller than most of the girls?
MB: Uh-huh. Yeah. And that guy that we was talking about at the drug store a while ago, his aunt was taller than I was, and she's about two years younger. She played, but his mother didn't play very much.
PG: Oh.
MB: And then, then, then I have the pairings for the tournament. Now any of this stuff that you'd like to use you can.
PG: Oh my. Look at you. [Laughter]
MB: They took us to--. When I was in the ninth grade, they took us to Winston-Salem to play in the Journal-Sentinel tournament.
PG: Um-hum.
MB: Which I had never been out of town.
PG: Oh really. Never?
MB: Probably out of the county. And we stayed in the hotel, and they took us and toured, toured R.J. Reynolds. So this is the soap that they give me at the old Carolina Hotel in Winston-Salem. That is a cigarette out of the pack of cigarettes that they give us, and the postcard from Prince Albert. And this is the card where we had to sign to get in. This is a basketball team that I played on, but I was on the floor, so I'm not cheering.
PG: Uh-huh.
MB: Right here is a picture of those in this book.
PG: Now this is March Madness, so they were calling it March Madness even back then.
MB: Uh-huh. I guess so. And this is the same picture here. And like I say, these are just clippings that I had cut out. This was my first year, which I didn't play a whole lot. And we didn't win this tournament. The next year we didn't get to go back.
PG: Oh, here's an action--.
MB: Shot. I've got some action shots of me, but I don't believe I've got them in this book. And then in '47 and '48 we won the tournaments. We won the county tournament, and I guess it will tell in here what the other ones we won. But I still have my little passes.
PG: Uh-huh, uh-huh. I'm just going to turn this up a little bit. Go on, go on. So you saved those and--.
MB: See now in the first year, so this--. Now that picture's gone out of--. That was he boys' team that, that year,
PG: Oh, uh-huh.
MB: the first year I played, and this is the ones on it. And this is the invitation to a party that somebody in Claremont gave us for winning
PG: Oh, uh-huh.
MB: the championship. So I kept my little invitation. One cent stamp on it.
PG: Yeah, look at that. Look at that.
MB: And didn't even have to put the address.
PG: Just city.
MB: Just city.
PG: Looks like they called you Millie then, is that--?
MB: Yeah. I've, I've always been called Millie.
PG: Um-hum.
MB: And then that's, that's another tournament we played in. That was another with the Barium Springs tournaments. And in here's the pairings for it.
PG: Um-hum. Um-hum.
MB: And that's where I kept the records again.
PG: Uh-huh.
MB: Where I fouled out.
PG: [Laughter] Looks like you are playing a little more now and the, in these games. You're playing a whole game in a lot of these.
MB: Yeah. I said I (believe) that's all I've got in that book.
PG: Well, this is nice. I love that--, I like how you saved the soap and stuff like that. That's, that's nice.
MB: Oh, when, when you're thirteen, fourteen years old, that's big things to get to go off somewhere when I was young. [Laughter]
PG: Uh-huh. I'm sure it was.
MB: Now, I don't--. Let's see. Now this is my--. These are Hanes pictures here.
PG: Um-hum.
MB: You were wanting to look at the other ones.
PG: Well, I'm interested in Hanes ones, too, actually.
MB: This, this is my first plane, airplane ride.
PG: Um-hum.
MB: Went to Wichita, Kansas to play in the national championship.
PG: Um-hum.
MB: We, we won the national championship game. And this is a picture made of it, and this is me.
PG: Uh-huh.
MB: And as tall as I am. Just look at some of these.
PG: Yeah, yeah. There's some tall girls. Now how did you come to play on the Hanes team? How did that happen?
MB: The manag--, the, the manager of the tournament, Frank Spencer, and the newspaper sent me a telegram from Winston that--, where they had been scouting the Winston-Salem, The Journal and Sentinel tournament. And I went--. They invited me down for a week. Furnished me a place to stay, eats, took me everywhere. And it was about fifteen of us.
PG: Um-hum.
MB: And we had tryouts. And two out of the fifteen made the team that year.
PG: So he had seen you in that tournament?
MB: Yeah, they had seen me in the tournament.
PG: These are wonderful pictures. There you--.
MB: See that's when we was fixing to--. We were traveling there. See, we traveled all over the United States and played. We played all of United States. And this is in one of the motel rooms and where we've got our suits and all to,
PG: Um-hum.
MB: to put on to wear.
PG: Um-hum.
MB: Now that's the picture that's in the hall of fame I believe. No.
PG: I think it's one of these actually.
MB: It's, it's this, it's this one right here. That's the one, I believe, is in the hall of fame. Right here.
PG: Well, yeah. That might be. That might be.
MB: Because this is the write-up when they put these two girls I played with in the hall of fame.
PG: Um-hum. Um-hum. Yeah. These are wonderful pictures. So did you, did you know about the Hanes team for a long time when you were in high school and all of that?
MB: I didn't know anything about it.
PG: No, no.
MB: I didn't even know they had one.
PG: Uh-huh, uh-huh. Did you think that once you graduated you were just going to stop playing? Was that--?
MB: I was thinking about going to Pfeiffer College, because they was about the only ones that offered scholarships in girls' basketball.
PG: Oh, back then they offered scholarships?
MB: They had a scholarship for about two. About four years after I graduated, girls' basketball just went down.
PG: Um-hum.
MB: Way down.
PG: Um-hum.
MB: And that's another picture of the team that I played on.
PG: Oh, yeah. Look at her. Those are wonderful uniforms. I really like those.
MB: And then this was made where they cut, cut them off to put in, use in the paper.
PG: Um-hum.
MB: They made, took one shot and then cut the pictures off to put in the papers.
PG: Um-hum.
MB: But now we are getting back basketball. My high school basketball
PG: Uh-huh.
MB: pictures. Those were just stuck in the front of this book. This is my senior year.
PG: Um-hum.
MB: This is me, and this is the girl we talked to out at the drug store. And this is the other girl we talked to out at the drug store. And this right here is my sister.
PG: Oh, yeah.
MB: Now this is the same team because we had that same coat. And, see, I made All-Tournament that year.
PG: Oh, OK. Is this is for winning the tournament here that you got this?
MB: Uh-huh. And this shows a better picture, my sister, Nancy. And this is the guy that was in the drug store. This is his aunt.
PG: Oh, OK. OK.
MB: But we both made a--, myself and her, made All-Tournament that year.
PG: Um-hum. Um-hum.
MB: And I don't have the eight by ten of this group. We won the tournament in, in Winston-Salem, but why I don't have it--. And it didn't seem like anyone had it there at the thing. And this is my tenth grade, when I was in tenth grade.
PG: Uh-huh, uh-huh.
MB: And see we played with about the same group on that. There's Jackie, and there's Jo Marilyn, and there's me. And my sister wasn't on that team.
PG: So those were the same girls that were playing in the, in the schoolyard back years ago.
MB: Yeah. Years back when I played. And that was my first year.
PG: Um-hum.
MB: And look a there how--. See, I was taller than most of them. This is one of my first cousins. She's a Little. And this one's a Little. These are sisters.
PG: Um-hum. Um-hum.
MB: These are sisters. But I was--. I don't ( ) anything about the sisters. All right now here's--.
PG: Look at these. Do you have these buttons on the sides of your uniforms?
MB: Yeah, they--, the pants you button up instead of zip.
PG: Uh-huh. Was there a reason for that or was it just how they were?
MB: That's just the way they was made I guess. Now there's the schoolyard. That's the group that we, we kindly played in the schoolyard. That's Marilyn, the one that's out at the drug store. And that's her first cousin. And that's me. And, see, that, this is what we did out in the schoolyard. See, the schoolyard in front of the gym.
PG: Uh-huh, uh-huh.
MB: That was Clevenger College team there, but this was while I was playing.
PG: Uh-huh. You have long legs, it looks like.
MB: Yeah and long arms, too. Now these are Hanes pictures here. And the Hanes teams here, on the trips that we went on.
PG: Um-hum. Oh you've just got tons of them. That just must have been fun traveling all around like that.
MB: It really was. And when they carried a--, we had a chaperone with us, and a nurse.
PG: Um-hum.
MB: And like when we'd go to, to New Orleans and down in the French Quarters and all, they'd make four of us go together and hold arms, you know, and all that stuff.
PG: [Laughter] Oh really?
MB: They tried to really protect us.
PG: Uh-huh.
MB: This is the first group picture that was made after I went to Hanes.
PG: Um-hum. Um-hum.
MB: I think that's all that's in this book. But did you see the stuff that--, one that wrote the book?
PG: Yes, I have a copy of that. That's how I knew about you was I found out that in the book. And I was real, real excited about that.
MB: Well, from the--. When I was in the tenth grade at school, we played in the county tournament, the Valdese tournament and the Winston-Salem Journal and Sentinel. And my last two years in college--, I mean in school, I made the All-Tournament team in every tournament.
PG: So you were--?
MB: In other words, I made three All-Tournament teams each year.
PG: Um-hum.
MB: And my senior year I made All-State.
PG: Um-hum. Um-hum. How did they come to have--? How did you come to be so good? I guess that is what I was asking.
MB: I, I--.
PG: I mean what was it about basketball?
MB: I lived and breathed it, I reckon.
PG: Uh-huh.
MB: In, in other words, I had a older sister who played a little. She didn't play much. Neither one of my brothers was interested in it. But our family is the type that sets goals for ourselves. And I just decided I wanted to be a good ball player and really had to concentrate on it. As far as, as getting out here and doing so many different things, basketball was my main goal at the time.
PG: Um-hum. Um-hum
MB: And so like I say, it just went from there. These are some sheets--. Now these is some of the All-Tournament teams.
PG: Um-hum.
MB: And things that I, I was on.
PG: Um-hum. [Pause]
MB: I don't believe they got the years on all of them. But these were my junior and senior years--.
PG: Uh-huh, uh-huh.
MB: That these pictures where shot.
PG: Did you have a lot of hard games? Did you play a lot of good teams?
MB: Yeah.
PG: Were they a lot of good girls' teams?
MB: The Catawba County always had good teams. Oxford always had a good team. Banoak had a good team, especially as long as Sue Probst was on the team. I remember her as being one of the hardest girls to guard of anybody in--, the whole time I played in high school.
PG: Um-hum. Why was it so hard to guard her? What would she do?
MB: Well, she was taller than I was, a right smart taller than I was, and she was a bigger built as you see in these pictures. I was really skinny at the time. And when we had our meeting, Charles Bost-used to be the coach at Banoak- and he was at meeting--, that party we had or meeting, or banquet.
PG: Um-hum.
MB: And he asked me said, "Millie," says, "I want to ask you something." Said, "Who was the hardest person you ever guarded?" And I said, "Sue Probst." And he act like it really tickled him for me to say that the girl that he was coaching was one of the harder ones for me to guard.
PG: Um-hum, um-hum. Look at you.
MB: This girl wound up marrying our coach.
PG: Um-hum.
MB: Celia (Sigmon). You'll see her in name in several things. She made All-State the year before I made All-State. She's a year older than I am.
PG: Um-hum.
MB: This girl, we passed her house on the way over here. You probably seen a fishpond, and it's a big house back up on the hill. That's her home. I don't know whether this girl is here.
PG: So were you better at doing defense or at scoring? Which side did you play on?
MB: Well, I played, I played guard. And that time we--, the guards couldn't cross the line. Four played on one side of the line--. I mean, you know, three on--, six on each side, rather.
PG: Um-hum. Um-hum. So you kept them from scoring rather than doing the scoring.
MB: Yeah, I didn't do any scoring when I was in high school.
PG: How did you come to play that particular position?
MB: Because everybody else wanted to shoot. [Laughter] But that is, that was the reason.
PG: Did you want to shoot, too, or were you--?
MB: No, it didn't phase me to want to shoot. And what a lot of them said was so amazing about it, especially down in the Journal and Sentinel tournament, the guards never did--, would get much credit.
PG: Um-hum.
MB: But they said that we had such a good team of guards that that was the reason which the guards started getting credit for their, their ball teams.
PG: Um-hum. Um-hum. Did you have to work a lot on your guarding strategy? Did you have to practice that a lot or--?
MB: Well, we just practiced, you know. Seem like they'd let us stay from five minutes past three to four o'clock. We could have practice on days we didn't have games. And we wasn't allowed to--. I mean we didn't have any other practices, because a lot of them rode school buses or, or what not. And really we didn't have that much practice. I just think, a lot of times it's just it's in your body or like I say if you set goals or make up your mind that's what you want to do.
PG: Um-hum.
MB: Now my sister didn't, didn't play as much as I did. She had some other interests. She was a bright student. She was a all A student. She won the, the spelling bee at school. She, she went to college. She was a teacher. She's a retired schoolteacher now.
PG: Um-hum.
MB: And that's all I thought about. And I really wanted to be a physical education director in a community, community center, was what my goal was to be when I got out of school.
PG: Um-hum. Um-hum. But then you got this opportunity to go and play.
MB: Uh-huh. They sent me the telegram, and then they met me on the bus, and they took, you know, to all that stuff.
PG: Um-hum. So how many years did you play for their team?
MB: Four.
PG: For the Hanes team?
MB: I played four years. This was some of them that was at the tryouts. This is the tryouts.
PG: Um-hum.
MB: And I had got out and played barefooted on the, in the gym and blistered the bottom of both of my feet--.
PG: Oh, no.
MB: To have my tryouts on.
PG: Oh, no. It looks like you did all right anyway making the team.
MB: Let's see, let's see the other girl. This girl right here and myself was the ones made it out of them.
PG: Um-hum. Um-hum. So it must have been very competitive trying to--.
MB: It was. It was a lot of work. I don't know where it's anything--. You just ask me some questions.
PG: Well, I was wondering when you said that, you know, you said that you made basketball your goal. Had you seen a lot of basketball games when you were young? Would you go to the schools' games?
MB: Yeah, yeah, I went to games. And another thing that made it real competitive for me, which made it hard on my mother, she taught school at Oxford.
PG: Um-hum.
MB: I went to school at Claremont. [Telephone rings]
PG: Um-hum.
MB: I'll let the answering service get that. [RECORDING INTERRUPTED, THEN RESUMED]
PG: OK, anyway you were saying that your mother played--, you mother taught at Oxford and you played at Claremont.
MB: [Beeping sound] Uh-huh. And she loved the game, and my daddy loved the game. And she would have to go to games [Beeping sound] and couldn't holler because her students were sitting all around, you know, and there was her daughter playing against her school. [Laughter] And, and I was, at that time, was one of the most popular players as far as being a good player. And it really seemed to bother her. She, she'd sit there, and she wouldn't make a sound.
PG: [Laughter]
MB: And it--. Every other game she always hollered, you know, and had a good time like the rest of us.
PG: Um-hum. Um-hum. Um-hum. So did they go to most of the games that you played?
MB: They, they went to most of them. And the year-I believe it was in '51-my daddy wasn't able to go to Winston-Salem because it seems like that we played in the middle of the day or something. And he went out and bought a AM-FM radio so he could hear it on the radio.
PG: So those games were on the radio?
MB: They were on the radio on the Journal-Sentinel Tournament.
PG: Huh. I didn't know that.
MB: And so he bought him--, [Laughter] he bought a radio because he couldn't get off of work to go.
PG: [Laughter] Well, they must have been real proud of you doing all of that, doing all of that. So in the, in the games, when you would play at home in high school, did a lot of, lot of people come to the games?
MB: Yes, it was--, the gym was always full. Here in, in the, this town, sports was a big thing. It still is, which Bunker Hill School is just right here at the top of the road where I would think they would have a high school in Claremont, they--. This, this, you go to Bunker Hill to graduate now. And they are real active over there. You go over there about anytime to a basketball game, football game, and it is a crowd. A lot of times you can't even find seats. And that was a way, that was about the only entertainment they had in Claremont. They have a ball game on Tuesday night and one on Friday night.
PG: Um-hum. And that's the e--.
MB: And everybody brings the whole family, you know, get in. I think it cost kids about a dime to get in.
PG: Um-hum. Um-hum.
MB: And that was something everybody looked forward to.
PG: I guess. Would there be as many people for the girls' games as the boys' games?
MB: Well, the girls played just right before the boys, you know, and you'd pay--. They'd come in to one, and they'd stay to all, you know, all the way through.
PG: Um-hum. Um-hum.
MB: I would say it was as many as--. You know, it wasn't that people waited for the boys to play before they come in.
PG: Um-hum. Um-hum. Well, I guess you were, you were a little more successful than the boys were, too, in the years that you were playing.
MB: Well, the boys won the championship a year or two while I played.
PG: Uh-huh. So they were, they were real good, too.
MB: They were good, too. They was kindly in the top--. The last year, the first year I played, Catawba was in the running a whole lot. That's a little town down below here. And then after that Oxford was our big competition. But up until then it was Claremont, and Catawba always was a competition. But Oxford and Claremont was a big competition. And the saddest thing I can think about was the year that we lost the tournament, the county tournament, but we went on to win the Winston-Salem tournament and the Valdese tournament. But we played in Winston-Salem one night and come back and played in the Catawba in the county tournament the next night and St. Stephens beat us.
PG: Oh, uh-huh.
MB: One of the teams that had never even come close to beating us before beat us that night in the tournament and so--. I guess that's the, was one of the most, the saddest moment of the whole time I played in basketball.
PG: ( )Um-hum. Um-hum. You didn't expect that to happen.
MB: [Sound indicating negative response] We had very few losses the whole time I played. Seem like it was three.
PG: Well that's [Laughter] not very many.
MB: In the four years. And in the four years I played at Hanes, we had about four. We played a hundred and two games without a loss.
PG: Oh my goodness.
MB: And I mean this is playing inside St. Josephs, Missouri, Wayland College, Texas, down in Mississippi, Louisiana, New York, Baltimore.
PG: Um-hum. Just all over.
MB: All over. And the last year I played, we played boys' rules. Five women running the full court, and we was playing for the Olympic team.
PG: Um-hum.
MB: And we won. And they picked players for the Olympic team, and I got picked for, to go to the Olympic team.
PG: Oh, uh-huh.
MB: And we was to play in Marseilles, France in March, and it was fighting and uneasiness and all over there that they canceled the games there and were playing them in Mexico. We was to play in Marseilles in November. So I had already made plans to get married on Christmas Eve. So I got married on Christmas Eve, and they went to Mexico the next week. And I wouldn't go.
PG: Oh, you wouldn't go?
MB: And they was gone six weeks, and I wouldn't go. [Laughter] So I didn't play in the game down there. But they-- . It was so rough that one of the girls on the team got her leg broke
PG: On my.
MB: that played on our team. I don't know how many others got hurt and all. But they say it was the roughest they had ever seen
PG: Huh.
MB: down in Mexico ( ).
PG: Well that's interesting. So was it different to play with the boys' rules? Was that--?
MB: Well, see the girls' rules had changed so much. We first, first started out playing when we're playing AAU rules when I went to Hanes, we played--, had a roving guard.
PG: Right.
MB: One guard run the court.
PG: Um-hum.
MB: And then we started playing full court, all six of us.
PG: Um-hum.
MB: And then when we played boys' rules, it was five of us out there running the court. So we just kindly worked on into it you know.
PG: Did you like playing that way better than you had with the two or would the--?
MB: Yeah, because I had started shooting the--. Most points I scored in any game was thirteen.
PG: Um-hum.
MB: And, but I still loved to guard.
PG: Um-hum. Um-hum.
MB: And I could dribble the ball, and I could go, get down the court with the ball, you know. And, and I just felt like I was playing an important part. As long as I felt like I was achieving something, I was happy, you know. It didn't make no difference what it was, so--.
PG: Um-hum. Um-hum. Would you ever throw the ball from one end of the court to the other? Did you do that kind of strategy?
MB: Yeah. When we had the four, when we had one--. When we was playing half court you might as well say, a lot of times I had take--, would take the ball out and throw it across centerline before it ever touched anybody's hands. I did a lot of that.
PG: You must have a real strong arm. That's long way to throw a ball.
MB: Yeah. But I did that a lot of times being on out of bounds and throwing it all the way down.
PG: Um-hum. Um-hum. So would you throw it almost to the other end of the court?
MB: Well most of the time they was standing up around the centerline waiting to ch--, you know, catch it or what not.
PG: Um-hum. Um-hum.
MB: This is more of them pictures I thought you might want to see.
PG: Do you think you made the right decision about not going to play on the Olympic team?
MB: I think so.
PG: You must have been real happy.
MB: I think I made the right decision about leaving when I got out of high school going to Hanes, too.
PG: Uh-huh. Now these are the things that--. This is the, this is from airplane. Is that--. Did you save that ( )?
MB: This is on my Hanes--, my first trip when I was in Hanes when I rode the airplane. I've, I've, see, I've saved all this stuff.
PG: Oh, look at these.
MB: That would be the ticket to wherever I went. Seem like it was--. Can't remember where it--, Wichita or St. Joseph or where was it?
PG: Yeah. It does. I looks like it says St. Joseph in the little corner. Were you scared to fly, or where you excited about it?
MB: Oh, they--. Everybody picked at me and laughs about it. The first time I got on the airplane,
PG: Uh-huh.
MB: I asked them where my parachute was. And one of the stewardesses said, "Honey, if you had one would you know how to use it?" [Laughing] But they kidded me for years about wanting that parachute. [Pause] That's where that something like that. That's airplane stuff in that one.
PG: Had you thought about traveling? When you were growing up just not necessarily basketball but had you wanted to go different places?
MB: Um-hum. I had wanted to travel. I sure had.
PG: Now did they ever enter you in any of these beauty contest that they would have at the tournaments?
MB: No. I wasn't a pretty girl. [Laughter]
PG: Those are interesting to me to see the pictures of those beauty contests and things.
MB: Um-hum. I know some of these pictures that I've got here has where they had the beauty contests and all.
PG: What did you think about those? Did you go and watch them? The contests?
MB: Well, now, when the--. The only ones I can remember about is when I was with Hanes. And the judge--. In other words they didn't have--. They just had the one--. They chose, each team chose one from their team, and then they picked them out from that.
PG: Um-hum. Um-hum.
MB: It really didn't play no real important part in it. [Pause]
PG: Now this is from the Northwest basketball tournament? What when you--?
MB: That's when I was in high school.
PG: Uh-huh.
MB: And which one is that? The twenty-fourth one? That's in 1950.
PG: Um-hum. Um-hum.
MB: We won, we won that year, and then we won the next year. The gold trophy's for that year. Silver trophy's for the twenty-fifth.
PG: Uh-huh. Uh-huh.
MB: And this is our team here.
PG: Uh-huh.
MB: But I don't think our boys ever won anything down there enough to get their pictures in. But some of these papers is so old, you can't even tell what they, who they are. [Pause]
PG: I like the story about the girls yelling for the teams here, because everybody else sat, sat quietly and then the girls really backed their team. There's an earlier one. These are just wonderful. So when did you stop playing then--? When is--?
MB: In '54. I got married in December of 5--. I got a Christmas Eve in December '54. That one of, where one of the games that we played.
PG: Um-hum. Um-hum.
MB: Now this one always won the beauty contest, and she always won the foul shooting contest.
PG: Uh-huh. She was real good.
MB: And all three of these is, was Miss Amer--, was All-American. This one was All-American about seven times. This one I'd say about six, and this one about five.
PG: So they were real good players.
MB: This girl's from Des Arc, Arkansas, out close to Little Rock, AR.
PG: Um-hum. Um-hum.
MB: They all played on our team.
PG: And did you continue to work for Hanes?
MB: Yeah.
PG: Did you say that you--?
MB: That's what we did. We went to work at Hanes, and every afternoon they'd come by in a station wagon and pick us from where we, we stayed. And we would go practice every evening for two hours, and then go home and have dinner and until the next day. And then when we'd go on the trips we'd go, maybe be gone four weeks at the time or what not, and then when you got back, you got paid your salary that you made while you was working.
PG: Um-hum. Um-hum. So they'd sort of count it as work, eh?
MB: Um-hum.
PG: How--? What job did you do when you were working?
MB: I, I inspected nylon hose. But now a lot of them was in the offices.
PG: Um-hum.
MB: [Pause] I think all this was Hanes.
PG: Oh, I'm interested in the Hanes things. So. I'm, I'm--.
MB: See, there's my tags for the--, both of them was out here ( ). That's one of my friends; that's--.
PG: Uh-huh. In the national tournament. Guess a lot of people came to see these tournaments?
MB: Um-hum. Where's that little gold box that I had? Here's some of that stuff.
PG: So why do you think girls' basketball was so important here in Catawba County? Why is this a county where that--?
MB: I guess because it wasn't that much for everybody to do. I mean, here in Claremont, I don't know of anything for entertainment for young people except sports.
PG: Um-hum. Um-hum.
MB: And I don't know whether it's changed much now. Now instead of the balls, they gave us these medals in the national tournaments. See I, see I played in the national championship and won two, two years in a, in a row.
PG: Uh-huh. Uh-huh. Oh, look at these. These are wonderful.
MB: They, they so tarnished and--.
PG: Well, it's hard to keep them up.
MB: Well, I had never tried to. I just, you know, had them in the boxes, it just stuck in here.
PG: Uh-huh. Uh-huh. 1952, 1953, I guess.
MB: Um-hum.
PG: Yeah.
MB: And then this is the ball I got for the Journal and Sentinel my junior year.
PG: Uh-huh. Uh-huh. Yeah, Journal-Sentinel--.
MB: And then this is one I got in my senior year.
PG: Uh-huh. What's the--, is the ticker tape? Is that a telegram?
MB: Yeah. It was about me, and so they gave me that and--.
PG: Can, I see--? Can I see what it is?
MB: Yeah, we'll read it. In other words, we had three players already on the All-American team.
PG: Um-hum. Um-hum.
MB: And the man that announced this on the radio--.
PG: Oh.
MB: Wrote, wrote this to, sent this to them. See, this is me here.
PG: Oh, look at this. "If they left Little off team, ( )." [Laughter] Now when is this from?
MB: This is from '54.
PG: Uh-huh. Uh-huh. And he was just reading it as it came across?
MB: I guess they typed it. Anyway, it come out over the radio.
PG: Uh-huh. Uh-huh. [Pause] And who's Mrs. Van Brooklyn?
MB: She was the women that was the head over the national tournament.
PG: Oh, uh-huh. Uh-huh. Oh, this is good.
MB: And they give that to me, and so I kept that all these years because I didn't make All-American that year.
PG: Uh-huh. Uh-huh.
MB: [Laughter]
PG: Looks like they thought you ought to.
MB: Yeah. You know, lot of times it's some politics in that.
PG: Yeah.
MB: If someone's made it a year or two in a row they, and they don't want to put all of one team on it with three already on that team.
PG: Yeah, yeah. This is great. And where did they read it? Where on the radio was this?
MB: When they announced the ball game, they, they read that. They announced that over the end of the ball game.
PG: Oh, really? Oh, OK.
MB: See, this is the radio announcer talking to them.
PG: Uh-huh, uh-huh. And this was at---? Which championship?
MB: Wichita.
PG: Wichita.
MB: Wichita, Kansas.
PG: Oh, well that's great.
MB: I've kept that all these years.
PG: I like that.
MB: And then there's two of All-Tournament medals that I got sometime or another.
PG: Um-hum. Um-hum. Well, you've saved all this stuff. So--.
MB: So most of this stuff has been in my attic until last year when, when we had that get together. And I went up in the attic and got it. I hadn't even paid no attention to none of it.
PG: Uh-huh. Uh-huh. Had you just gotten busy doing other things? Is that the--?
MB: Well, I raised a family [Laughter] and worked. But you know neither one of children or my husband neither one was interested in basketball.
PG: They weren't? Did you have any daughters?
MB: I have two daughters.
PG: Uh-huh.
MB: And we had put the basketball goal up and had it fixed to official heighth and everything else, and all the boys in the neighborhood played, but they never played. [Laughter] Neither one of them.
PG: [Laughter] Oh my goodness, that figures.
MB: And they wouldn't even go to basketball games when they was in school. They didn't even go to see their own team play.
PG: Huh? Well you said that women's basketball had kind of gone down after--?
MB: It, it did, and they started--. Seem like they didn't even--. I know they didn't have scholarships in college no more for them.
PG: Um-hum.
MB: But it seemed like they just about went plumb out of the schools and all at one time.
PG: Um-hum. Um-hum. Why do you think that was? What, what happened that would make it less popular?
MB: I have no idea.
PG: Um-hum. Were you sorry to see it (go down)?
MB: I really was. I was really sorry because it had just brought so many of the families together. I mean, same ones sit together at ball games, you know, and they would pool rides. And I mean if it was workdays, like going to Winston-Salem, a lot of them took off of work. That's how interested they were in their team, in their children, and all this.
PG: Um-hum. Um-hum.
MB: And I got a card from a man from Catawba one time telling me how much he enjoyed seeing me play ball. It was a elderly man.
PG: Um-hum. Um-hum.
MB: And see, he wasn't even from the school and all. But that he would, he would go to see me play ball.
PG: Uh-huh. Uh-huh. So you must have felt that you were doing something good for the community when you were--?
MB: I, I just feel like basketball was really good for the little town of Claremont.
PG: Um-hum. Um-hum.
MB: But, you know, it seems that they are really doing good. They had a centennial or something last weekend here.
PG: Um-hum. I saw the little banners and such.
MB: And so, I think they're working together and getting history up, and, and making a town out of it. They had a book, The Little Town that Could.
PG: Um-hum.
MB: And I bought one of the books, and I, I bought my brother-in-law one. Been about two or three weeks ago. And its got the basketball team's picture in it.
PG: Oh, it does?
MB: Well, I believe it's got two basketball team pictures in it.
PG: Um-hum.
MB: And it's got several things that brought back a lot of memories to me.
PG: Um-hum.
MB: In the book. It has--. My daddy used to run a grocery store.
PG: Um-hum.
MB: Right across from the first stop light you come to. And it had a picture of it, and it had my brother with it because he took it over to my daddy stopped. But the town is really building up and, and more than what it was when I was small.
PG: Um-hum. Um-hum. I guess back then the basketball was mostly what people knew about Claremont.
MB: Yeah. And it, right now I can walk downtown and I, at least eight out of ten people say, "You're the one who played ball."
PG: Really?
MB: You know, this many years, aw, fifty-some years ago. And say, "You're the one that played ball."
PG: They still remember that. Would people come to see you play at Hanes? Would people come from here?
MB: Um-hum.
PG: To see the Hanes' games?
MB: Mostly my family. But when we, we, we played at community center in Hickory, and a whole lot of people from Claremont come to it. We had a school, we put on a training session or--. Anyway, it was a ball team the first year I was up here.
PG: Um-hum.
MB: And the gym was packed. The girls demonstrated how to dribble the ball, shoot, run, and then when we srimbled--, scrimmaged the boys' team, I think. I believed it was the boys' team from the school that we scrimmaged that night.
PG: Uh-huh.
MB: And them seeing boys and girls out on the court playing together. But when I was at Hanes before we started the season, we would scrimmage the men in Hanes men's team once a week.
PG: Um-hum. Um-hum.
MB: And get just as rough as they did.
PG: Uh-huh. Uh-huh. [Laughter]
MB: Was there a difference in the women's and the men's? Was the men's generally rougher than the women's or were you pretty---?
MB: I think it was about the same.
PG: Uh-huh.
MB: And they did a lot of ankle wrapping and kneepads things like, you know, that when I played.
PG: So it was real demanding on you physically to do that.
MB: Um-hum.
PG: And was it the same, was it different when you got to Hanes than it was when you were here in Claremont or was it about the same?
MB: It was a faster, faster game. In other words, I felt like I had to play harder because I knew it was All-Americans on the team. You know, that was something that would motivate me to know that I need to play harder.
PG: Um-hum. Um-hum. Well, it must have been a lot of fun to play with people that were that good.
MB: It was.
PG: A lot of this is just, just is really interesting to me. Well, you said now that your granddaughter plays basketball.
MB: Uh-huh.
PG: And you, do you, and you play with her a little bit.
MB: Um-hum.
PG: Does that--?
MB: And she's, she'll be eleven in September, and she plays at Hickory at the recreation center.
PG: Uh-huh. Uh-huh. Do you look for her to be real good? Do you think she--?
MB: No. She's short.
PG: Oh, that's too bad.
MB: Short and prissy. [Laughter] You can't be prissy and play much ball, [Laughing] I tell you.
PG: You don't think so, huh?
MB: I don't think so.
PG: (Coming around.) ( ) all these pictures and these are the trophies here.
MB: I had two more down that, there. They was out of plastic, but the, the little black tights have come off them.
PG: Come off of them.
MB: And so I didn't even put them in to bring.
PG: Now this, this is just really [Pause]. Now I was reading something about how they had this girls' state tournament over in Southern Pines in the early '50s. I guess in '50 and '51? And the girls from Lincolnton won it one year.
MB: I don't believe that, that we ever played any.
PG: Well, I just, I remember seeing there was an article in the paper saying that how the girls from Lincolnton won the tournament. And then there was a little article in the Winston-Salem paper that said-maybe it was the Greensboro paper- that said that the Claremont team that ya'll disputed that they could be the state champions, because you had beaten them in this tournament that you'd played in. And I was just wondering if you remembered, if you remember that?
MB: I remember us beating Lincolnton, but I don't know where it was.
PG: Uh-huh, uh-huh.
MB: In that part of it.
PG: It's just interesting because that was supposed to be the state tournament, and I was wondering why ya'll had not gone.
MB: This is some stuff that my brother found over at Daddy's. Now that was when I--. I believed that's when we appeared in--, played in Claremont when the boys, when we played that boy's team.
PG: Looks like you folded your shorts under. Did you do that?
MB: The girl that had them before I did tacked that up.
PG: Oh, uh-huh. Uh-huh. So you didn't have your own? You didn't have your own uniforms? It was--?
MB: [Sound indicating negative response] That, that was the one that they furnished me. And then when I, we got to the, when they got new uniforms like the white ones, you know. I know you seen the picture in a white ones.
PG: Um-hum. Um-hum.
MB: And this is all these hometown up here, see there? And this is where we had a clinic in Granite, the same thing. They used that same picture, me in that.
PG: Uh-huh. Uh-huh. [Pause] How did these clinics come about?
MB: They usually called the school from their first year, so they could let them have a chance to see, you know, who they was, who their, representative from their school was or what not. And that's the Claremont girls there.
PG: Oh really? Oh, that's a wonderful picture.
MB: Cutting, cutting a basketball goal down.
PG: Um-hum.
MB: Do you need any pictures or anything?
PG: Well, we do actually. I was just thinking--.
MB: Now I've got several--.
PG: We're asking people to remember what their most memorable moment in basketball was. If what they think back over basketball, if there's one thing that comes to their mind more than anything else about it that makes them think. And I was wondering if you have a special moment like that.
MB: I guess when I made All--, made the All-State team.
PG: Um-hum. How did you find out about--?
MB: They called me up on the telephone and then the Greensboro Daily Record, the one that published it.
PG: Um-hum. Um-hum.
MB: And when I made that team and then when I got the telegram to go to Hanes for tryouts.
PG: Did you get the tell--, did it just come of the blue? Did someone--?
MB: The telegram come to schoolhouse,
PG: Um-hum.
MB: and the principal delivered it to me. And I had never had a telegram, and it was really a big thing for me to get the telegram. And I do have my letters and everything that they sent me somewhere. But I don't know where that box is.
PG: Uh-huh. So did he come into the class, in the middle of class and give it to you?
MB: Uh-huh.
PG: And everybody watch you open it? [Laughter] That--.
MB: Everybody just gathered around. I, I'm thinking we was in study hall.
PG: Uh-huh. Uh-huh. And what did you think when you opened it then?
MB: I don't remember. [Laughter] I just, I just knew it made me awful happy.
PG: [Laughter] That's great, that's great. Yeah, that's wonderful.
MB: I'm standing up on top of a house in that picture.
PG: Oh, you are aren't you?
MB: Crawled, we crawled out windows to make them pictures. [Laughter] But this is my baby sister and me.
PG: Uh-huh. Uh-huh. Here you are. That's--. I like that one.