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Interview with Laura Parrish

Parrish, Laura
Jewett, Stephen
Date of Interview: 
War; Automobiles; Dating; Swimming; Farming; Voting
Ms. Floyd M. Parrish grew up in Cabarrus County and lived there all her life. She talks about her life, covering the period from the late 1800s on up to the time she was interviewed. Her family, like almost all others in the area, were farmers. They grew everything they used except for sugar, coffee and tobacco. Mrs. Parrish voted in the first election that women were allowed to vote in. She remarks that she�s lived through so many wars that they all run together. She talks about how everyone went to school but not everyone graduated and she can�t remember knowing anyone who went to college. She talks about driving to town in a Model T. and about her early dating life.
1880s - 1970s; Cabarrus County, NC
Collection Description: 
Interviewed in Concord, North Carolina. The interviewer is the grandson of Mrs. Parrish.
UN (Unknown Speaker): This is Floyd M. Parrish . Given name Laura ; age 89. Concord, North Carolina . March 23rd 1974 . Interviewer Steve Jewett , grandson.
SJ (Stephen Jewett): Alright, grandma, when were you born, what year?
FP (Floyd "Laura" Parrish): 18 and 84 .
SJ: Have you lived here all your life?
FP: No I lived down, I was raised down near Boss Mill , I’ve lived in Concord and I’ve lived down by Boss Mill and I’ve lived in Georgeville . We were moved there and went to school, but I have been in Cabarrus County all my life.
SJ: Were your parents strict when you were young?
FP: Yeah, stricter than parents are now.
SJ: How old were you on your first date?
FP: On how?
SJ: On your first date?
FP: Law, have mercy Stephen , I don’t know. [laughter] Do you know how old you were on the first date you had?
SJ: Yes ma’am.
FP: Do you, well you know more than most of folks.
SJ: About how old were the kids your age when they started dating?
FP: [laughter] Stephen that is awful.
SJ: Are those tough questions? OK, I’ll go on to something else.
FP: Well, I don’t know the children say they’re dating when they’re in school house sweethearts. I don’t know.
SJ: OK, where did you meet your husband?
FP: Well, I knew him from the time we were just children. We grew up kindly knowing one another.
SJ: How long--did he ever--did you ever go out on dates with him?
FP: Yes, I went out on dates.
SJ: Did you ever double date?
FP: No.
SJ: What did you wear when you go out on dates?
FP: [laughter] Well I wore the best I had, I reckon, we didn’t have clothes like they have now.
SJ: Did you ever wear pants when you went out on a date?
FP: No I never did ever wear pants in my life, nor shorts either.
SJ: You didn’t wear shorts either.
FP: No. I wore dresses all the time. Didn’t even have overalls to work in.
SJ: What kind of ceremony did you have when you got married?
FP: Just went to the preachers and got married.
SJ: How old were you?
FP: Twenty years old, I can answer that.
SJ: About--were most of your friends about that age when they got married? Or do you remember?
FP: Well some of them were younger some of them were older, some of them were along about that age, I didn’t have many friends that got married, we were raised in the country and lived far apart.
SJ: Oh. [pause] Alright, after you got married, where did you live, where did you go to live?
FP: Well we rented a little house in Concord and stayed there, all my boys were born there, Evelyn was born in the country, your mother.
SJ: OK, going back to your parents, did your, did your mother control the money in the house or did your father?
FP: Honey we didn’t, farmers didn’t have much money.
SJ: Well what money, I mean who went shopping and stuff like that?
FP: Well, she went to town some, she bought clothes for us children, and if there was any money it was divided, they didn’t fall out over a little bit of money. We didn’t have much money then, people didn’t have nothing to sell, you lived, you lived out of the fields where you raised stuff. You had to buy your sugar and your coffee and bought his tobacco, she dipped snuff, she bought her snuff, and that’s about all I can tell you about the, about the money business. You didn’t have to--you didn’t pay your preacher much them times, you just, didn’t take much to run a church, it was just a country church and country people went there and you had a country preacher.
SJ: You went to Rocky River then?
FP: Oh, no, we were, we was, we were raised down near Boss Mill .
SJ: Where’s that?
FP: Well, there’s a lot about Boss Mill , let’s see you know where Georgeville is?
SJ: Yeah.
FP: Well you go past Boss Mill going to Georgeville . I got a paper here Evelyn give to me. I want somebody to read a piece about Boss Mill .
SJ: Do you remember what your first job was?
FP: Working in the field.
SJ: What did you do?
FP: Well, we dropped corn, hoed corn, hoed cotton, picked cotton and picked peas, anything that was to do with any kind of--I never did plow.
SJ: Did you get--how much--about how much did you get paid when you did that?
FP: We got, if we picked cotton for anybody we got 50 cents a hundred.
SJ: A hundred pound?
FP: Yeah.
SJ: That’s a lot of work isn’t it?
FP: If you picked a 100--I picked 212 pound one time, oh I worked like fighting fire.
SJ: What was your school like that you went to?
FP: Well, we went to Rocky River School when we first went. We walked two and a half miles to school and we got, had an old buggy we would hitch a horse to that and went in the buggy and rode horse back part of the time and mule back. And that first school I went to, it was several miles, I walked all the time, just a little girl, then we moved to Georgeville to go to school it was right, school wasn’t farther than from here over to that other road up there if that far, Macadamy.
SJ: Was there a whole bunch of different grades in one room?
FP: Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. That’s about all the school I ever went to.
SJ: How far did you go to, what grade?
FP: Well Stephen I don’t know, I never did finish high school. I don’t know I reckon about eighth or ninth, something like that. You’re not taking down a bit of that.
SJ: Yeah I am I’m getting it all down.
FP: [laughter] Well you didn’t get much out of me ‘cause I don’t know much.
SJ: Do you remember back when women got the right to vote? Do you remember much about that?
FP: Yeah, I was old enough to vote the first time that they voted.
SJ: Well did you vote?
FP: Yeah.
SJ: What about your husband did he like it, you voting?
FP: Yeah, he never said nothing about it, only one time I wanted to vote for a certain fellow and he was a Republican but he was an able man he was running for cotton ( ) so I said well, if I can’t vote like I wanted to--I’ll just not vote, so that was the last of that, I voted like I wanted then.
SJ: Well, he tried to tell you who to vote for?
FP: Yeah then he did, he didn’t care who I voted for, just so I voted for a Democrat. But I believe in voting for the man.
FP: I was raised a democrat.
SJ: Do you remember much about the depression?
FP: Well, it was bad on people, because we didn’t have, we didn’t, we worked hard and didn’t get much but what we raised and all, yes it was bad.
SJ: What about World War I?
FP: Well, we used to--we played a lot of rook, I believe it was rook or something—we’d take the cards and go down the pasture and see the soldiers go by.
SJ: Did you--?
FP: Harry was in World War I.
SJ: Who was Harry?
FP: That was my brother.
SJ: Your brother. What about the Civil War--did your mother and father talk about that any?
FP: Well some about it--they would tell about people, you know people had so much stuff stolen, and it--.
SJ: Who was stealing?
FP: I don’t know, just--I don’t know if they knew people had anything they would go and get it. That house that we lived in down near Boss Mill , a boy--he thinks somebody went there they come so fast after we left and took up an old hearth where we had a fire place and there was gold buried there, we didn’t know nothing about it, old buckets it was took out, laying out there in the yard, where he took it and built a nice brick house, this man always thought he got it, now he couldn’t prove it.
SJ: Who was stealing all this stuff?
FP: I don’t know. Just people would take things if they couldn’t get it no other way. I don’t know whether there was much, there wasn’t much to steal.
SJ: Pretty hard times.
FP: Yes, it was. Is that taking down anything?
SJ: Yeah.
FP: [laughter] It hadn’t heard much.
SJ: Well when did your family first have a car?
FP: My daddy and mama hadn’t had no car when they died.
SJ: What about you and your husband?
FP: I don’t know what year it was in but I learned to drive. We had a Model T.
SJ: He let you drive?
FP: I had, we had a Model T, yeah, I drove. I drove to town by myself.
SJ: Well back, like back when you were, when you were going out on dates and stuff, did you have to have a chaperone anytime you went out?
FP: No.
SJ: You didn’t?
FP: Nothing but a horse and buggy.
SJ: Well that, they weren’t as strict as some parents then.
FP: Well I think they thought we had sense enough to know what to do and come back home.
SJ: You remember some of the stuff you used to do, did they go to the movies or--
FP: No, there wasn’t no such thing as movies.
SJ: There wasn’t any movies around then?
FP: Well, I went to some movies before I was married, but there wasn’t many movies, picture shows they called them.
SJ: Well, what did kids do usually? Did they go down to the river?
FP: Go to the river and swim. I, I used to--we’d go up to the river every evening in the summer time.
SJ: Really?
FP: Yeah, the ( ) would meet and I could swim and I float like a fish. I went up towards Kannapolis one Sunday and went in the water and I was laying there in my back and I felt somebody swim under me.
SJ: Did you ever find out who it was?
FP: I didn’t care, there were other folks in up there, it didn’t make no difference. I would put my hands in back in front of my head and lay there, and I didn’t--I would just lay there for minutes.
SJ: Well, did you have a certain time to be in when you went out like that?
FP: No I never did stay out late, never was out at night. We dated most of them on Sunday evening.
SJ: What about the winter when it was cold, did you just go in the parlor?
FP: We had a fire in the fireplace and stayed at home. Did you ask Mrs. Marshall all these questions?
SJ: Yes, I did.
FP: [laughter] Oh lord. It’s hard to print stuff like I’m talking about.
SJ: What about World War II, what do you remember about that?
FP: Stephen I’ve been in so many wars I get them mixed up. I don’t know much about one from the other. Harry was in the first one and (Rodney) wasn’t in the army and (Boyd, Boyd) was in, I don’t know I reckon, could have been three or two? They just, he was on that ( ) or sent over and they put them out in the field in no-man’s land, they didn’t know nothing about--did you ever notice his finger been shoot off? [RECORDING INTERUPTED] [RECORDING RESUMED]
SJ: where women should have equal rights with men, what do you think about that?
FP: Yeah if they need it that’s alright.
SJ: You think women should get paid equal pay?
FP: Well if they do the same amount of work, don’t you?
SJ: Yes ma’am.
FP: Well, I do too.
SJ: Did you want to go on in school?
FP: No, I didn’t study much about school, we didn’t have much schooling--well we did have one good teacher that came here from somewhere and taught school a good while and then we worked in the bank, he got married after he came here. He worked his last years in the bank.
SJ: Were there as many girls in school when you went as guys?
FP: The school was pretty full, yeah. Most everybody went to school.
SJ: You had to go to school then? Did you have to go to school then?
FP: Well I don’t think they were strict like they are now, but everybody could went to school, they didn’t learn much but they went.
SJ: Did you have a lot of times to go back and work on the farm instead of going to school, like harvesting?
FP: We got to go to school when there was school, there wasn’t school along the start, they didn’t have school as long as they are having it now. But we got to go to school pretty good. We had to pick cotton though when it was awful cold on Saturdays. But they didn’t have school I don’t reckon by the busiest time of the year.
SJ: Can you think of anything else you used to do when you were little, like--?
FP: No, not that I know of. We worked hard.
SJ: Did you travel much when you were--?
FP: Travel? What is that? I got to ride on the train.
SJ: [laughter] Where did you go on the train?
FP: Charlotte .
SJ: You went to Charlotte ?
FP: Yeah.
SJ: About how old were you?
FP: I don’t remember, but I was just a little girl.
SJ: Was there much in Charlotte then?
FP: Well it wasn’t as big as it is now, but it was big place to me.
SJ: What did you do when you went there?
FP: I don’t remember what I did. I don’t reckon we bought anything. We went just to get to ride on the train.
SJ: Was that was the first time you had ever been on a train?
FP: Yeah. We got on at Harrisburg and come back to Harrisburg . I didn’t ride on the train much. After I was married we would go to, we would go to Charlotte and places shopping. I had a sister that lived in Charlotte .
SJ: OK, that is about all of my questions. [RECORDING INTERUPTED] OK, how big was your family?
FP: I had four boys, no--yeah let’s see--
SJ: No, I’m talking about your mother and dad, how big was that family?
FP: My mother had thirteen children but there didn’t but about nine live.
SJ: Do you remember how big her, her mother’s family was?
FP: Law no, I’ve heard her speak about it--she was the only girl and I think she has maybe three, three or four brothers.
SJ: And you had four boys and one girl right?
FP: Yeah, well I had two girls and one died in infancy.
SJ: Was there a, was there a lot of children that died young then?
FP: No, not too many.
SJ: [pause] What about your, your friends, did most of them have big families or?
FP: Well no, there wasn’t people didn’t have big families much, now the girl that I lived with a year or two she had one boy and two girls and I don’t know, they didn’t have big families.
SJ: What about your mother, did--about how old was, was she young when she got married?
FP: Seventeen.
SJ: She was seventeen?
FP: Um-hum.
SJ: What about the other parents were they about the same age? I know it would be hard for you to remember I know.
FP: Are you talking about--I don’t know--are you talking about my daddy?
SJ: Yeah.
FP: I don’t remember how old he was, but he was--he didn’t have but one sister and he was the seventh boy. The reason he was called Uncle Doc. He was fixing to study for a doctor, he was he seventh boy and he was going to study for a doctor, but he didn’t make a doctor.
SJ: Well you mean if you’re the seventh son you usually become a doctor?
FP: Yeah, they used to make doctors but I don’t know whether they do now or not but he was the seventh and had six, six brothers and one sister, no he had two sisters; Aunt Liza and Aunt Laura Pitts .
SJ: Well, did you have any friends that went on to college or any--?
FP: Not, no I don’t remember. Some of the Stallings folks were well off, but I don’t remember them going to college--of course they lived in that big house across the river. The Stalling girls owned the youngest--well it wasn’t the youngest either, but--she owns it but she’s not just right. I think she stays there by herself.
SJ: There was a lot of big families then right.
FP: Oh yeah pretty good size families. The older generation had more children.
SJ: Can you think of anything else?
FP: No, I can’t think of nothing else.