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Interview with Ella Kelly

Kelly, Ella
Reynolds, Elizabeth
Reynolds, Elizabeth
Date of Interview: 
Farm life - Georgia; Cotton farmers; World War II; Depressions 1929; Then and Now
Ella Kelly provides a look at farm life in Georgia around 1915. She relates stories of picking cotton and expouses the benefits of farm life.
Interview Setting: 
Interviewed as part of the WSOC-TV Oral History Project. Interviews conducted at either the downtown public library or the Midtown Shopping Mall.
WSOC-TV Oral History Project
Collection Description: 
The WSOC-TV Oral History Project of 1979, headed by Dr. Edward Perzel, was an effort to gather and preserve spoken recollections. Interviews were conducted with older citizens, primarily over the age of 65, who were encouraged to share their memories and stories.
Interview Audio: 
ER (Elizabeth Reynolds): This is Elizabeth Reynolds interviewing Ella Kelly, October 23, 1979. OK. I understand that you're not from, originally from the Charlotte area. Can you--?
EK (Ella Kelly): No, I was raised in Oconee County, Georgia.
ER: Georgia. What was it like when you were growing up in Georgia?
EK: Well, I lived on the farm. So I feel like that all children that missed living on the farm has missed a treat. I wouldn't take anything for growing up on the farm.
ER: Can you tell us a little bit about how life was on the farm?
EK: Well, back, we my daddy had a farm, and we had to pick cotton in the fall. We had to chop cotton in the spring. So we would go to school two months in the summertime so we could be off to chop cotton and pick cotton.
ER: About what year was this?
EK: Oh, that was around 1915.
ER: Growing up, you grew up in a rural area?
EK: Yes, I grew up in a rural area. And we enjoyed every minute of it.
ER: And was there a lot of family closeness?
EK: Yes, I had my four sisters.
ER: Four sisters. For, that was your extent of socializing for the most part then was your family.
EK: Yes. Instead of getting out riding in automobiles and going to shows like young folks do now, we gathered around the old pump organ and sang hymns.
ER: Sounds nice. Was the work hard on you?
EK: No, really. It was a plea--, we enjoyed it so we didn't consider it hard.
ER: Did you, your farm support your family for everything that you needed?
EK: Oh yes. Yes.
ER: When, when you left, did you stay on the farm most of your life?
EK: No, I stayed on the farm until I was about eighteen and my father moved to the city.
ER: What you, how did you adjust to city life?
EK: Well, I adjusted pretty well. I'm a person that can adjust to most any type of situation.
ER: You missed the farm, though?
EK: Oh, yes. I missed the farm. I think that every child should live at least one year on the farm like I did.
ER: Oh, I agree. [laughter] Could you tell us a little bit just about the background of the farm and how you know was it owned just by your father and-- ?
EK: Well, my father owned this farm, and he had two mules. We call, they call that a two horse farm. And he had to hire a lot of help. You know with plowing, but we girls would help him all we could. We used to milk cows and feed the pigs. Feed the chickens.
ER: Could you tell us about how a typical day on the farm went?
EK: Do what?
ER: A typical day. What time you got up? What chores you had to do and ?
EK: Well, we'd get up at about five o'clock and we'd have breakfast. Then we'd go out and milk the cows. Then we'd feed the pigs. And then we'd go out, in the wintertime, we stayed at home and went to school. But during the time we had to work on the farm, we'd go out and work early while it was cool so we could take a couple hours off in the middle of the day when it was so hot.
ER: Um-hum.
EK: Worked late afternoon. We just had a lot of fun out there. We used to take buttered biscuit to the field with us and eat young wild onions in the spring. [laughter] [long pause]
ER: Did you marry?
EK: Oh, yes. I married.
ER: What age was that?
EK: I was twenty-eight when I got married.
ER: Twenty-eight? As, to get back to the social life. Did you go to dances or--.
EK: Yes, we went to dances occasionally.
ER: Occasionally.
EK: But we went to church. We lived in the community where there were two churches. We went to the Baptist Church in the morning and the Methodist Church in the afternoon. And I was a Methodist.
ER: So that was mostly your socializing, was in the church?
EK: Yes, that was it.
ER: That's interesting. How, was your community a large community or was it?
EK: It was a large group--.
ER: Community.
EK: Community. Yes.
ER: Did you have neighbors that, you know, were close?
EK: We had a lot of neighbors. And we lived in the community where my mother and father grew up. And we had a lot of relatives.
ER: So, that's nice.
EK: So most, most every family there, there was some type of a family connection.
ER: [pause] You were about a teenager about the 1920's?
EK: Yes.
ER: What was it like to be a teenager in the 1920's? [laughter]
EK: Lots different then it is now.
ER: I bet it is. [laughter]
ER: Did a, what, you know, did you enjoy like, well I guess you were still on the farm then?
EK: We were still on the farm and we went to church, and we'd gather for parties sometimes through the week and that mostly consists of around the pump organ singing.
ER: Did you, did you date much?
EK: Oh yes.
ER: As a teenager.
EK: Yes, I dated a good bit.
ER: How would your dates go? You'd go for a, go to the well for that too? [laughter]
EK: Oh, yes. Well, we had a good time.
ER: You did?
EK: But we didn't have automobiles like they do now you know to get out and take places so we had to base our dating and entertainment at home.
ER: So you'd bring your date home to meet-
EK: Yes.
ER: Mom and Dad.
EK: That's right.
ER: I guess you had to be careful who you picked to date with, huh? [laughter]
EK: That's right.
ER: So the days were pretty long though so you didn't--?
EK: Oh, yes, the days were long. We had the old lamps, old kerosene lamps and the open fireplaces for heat.
ER: We need that now. Around the time of the Depression, how did that effect you?
EK: Well, it didn't hurt us too bad because we lived on the farm, and we raised the things that we eat mostly. I do remember one time during the first world war they were rationing flour, and my father bought enough flour to last us a year. And you know that was just a big 'ol stack of flour. But he was very patriotic so when the other people that didn't have enough flour to last them and had to eat cornbread for breakfast, well, he took his little corn to the grist mill and had some meal made, and we had to eat cornbread for breakfast too.
ER: Did you sell any of your crops at all? Or was it just--?
EK: Well we sold cotton.
ER: Cotton.
EK: That's the way got our money from was cotton crops.
ER: About how much did you produce of cotton? Do you know off hand?
EK: I don't remember.
ER: No. What were your luxuries? What kind did you have what we, you know, what we would consider luxuries of today? Back then what were luxuries to you?
EK: Well, my daddy had a horse and buggy, and he let us use that. Then we had the old organ. And we had a lot of company. Our mother always taught us to entertain our company so we were, whenever we were expecting company, well, we had to get busy and get things ready to entertain them. [long pause]
ER: How long have you been in Charlotte?
EK: I've been here about thirty years.
ER: Thirty years. It's different from Georgia.
EK: Oh yes, it's lots different from Georgia. But I like here and I've made a lot of good friends. And I consider Charlotte my home now. I'll never go back to Georgia to live.
ER: Well, ok, is there anything else you'd like to add?
EK: I guess that's all.
ER: Ok. Well, thank you.