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Interview with Roosevelt Ray

Ray, Roosevelt
Additional speaker
Causby, Anna
Date of Interview: 
Depression; Farming; 1920's; 1970's
Mr. Ray describes his life as a farmer growing up. He states that when he was younger he had a much better life than he does now, even though he only made fifty cents a day back then. He also describes an ordeal he had when a nail went through his foot.
1920s and 1970s
Interview Setting: 
Interview 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 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.
AC (Anna Causby): This is Anna Causby May 22nd, 1979 interviewing Roosevelt Ray. Mr. Ray, what are you going to talk to us about today?
RR (Roosevelt Ray): [laughter] I don't know what to talk about right now. [long pause] A fact about I don't fact understand this thing.
AC: OK, you were a farmer right?
RR: Yes ma'am.
AC: How long have you lived in the Charlotte area?
RR: In Charlotte?
AC: Right.
RR: Let's see I've been in Charlotte now about thirty, oh, seven years, or something like that.
AC: Seventy years?
RR: No ma'am, about thirty-seven years.
AC: Oh, thirty-seven years.
RR: Yes.
AC: And where did you live in Charlotte?
RR: Where did I live before I come to Charlotte?
AC: Right.
RR: I lived in ( ) South Carolina.
AC: What made you move to Charlotte?
RR: Well, all my bro, brothers and sisters were gone. Weren't nobody there but me, dad and brother Dan and so I decided, we decided we'd come to everybody else was going. There was thirteen of us brothers and sisters.
AC: And what was Charlotte like when you got here?
RR: Well it seemed to be a nice place so far but not--.
AC: But compared to now how was it?
RR: But it done changed up a lots now, done changed up a lot, since the last thirty something years.
AC: What are some of the changes that you've noticed in the last thirty-seven years?
RR: Lot's of building and lots of tearing down. [laughter]
AC: Do you think that's good? [laughter] Do you like progress?
RR: Yes, ma'am. I think. Where was, where we was living at all the houses in there is tored down and what's more over in the Third Ward but all them been tored down now. So I'm living in South Side now.
AC: Do you remember any like funny stories or anything you'd like to share?
RR: Nah.
AC: Any funny stories or--?
RR: Furniture stor--?
AC: Funny stories?
RR: Oh, funny-store?
AC: Stories.
RR: Stories, no I ain't got--.
AC: How about something about the depression, you want to talk about that?
RR: Ma'am?
AC: The depression, that wasn't too funny was it?
RR: No. [laughter]
AC: Did you have a hard time during the depression?
RR: Well back then in those days when long coming up seemed be fine as some better in those days than t'is now.
AC: You think so?
RR: Yes ma'am. I was getting fifty cent a day for working when I worked for somebody else, I was getting fifty cent a day for, we made--.
AC: When you were farming?
RR: Yes ma'am, but we made our own meat. Had lard for year, for year. Flour, made that all our selves. Syrup. Never had to worry about no eating and like that. We had plenty. We made that every year. We had meat to last us from the year 'til the next time it come to kill hogs.
AC: What do you remember about the wars?
RR: Now?
AC: The wars?
RR: The war? Well back then that time then I was small. That was when the first war was coming in. And I think my daddy got a letter that he had to go, and so, he was getting lined up to go but the war ended in that time before he got to go.
AC: What do you remember about why, how everything was during the war? Do you think it was still better then than it is now?
RR: Yes ma'am.
AC: You still do?
RR: Yes ma'am, lots better.
AC: Today's about the worst.
RR: About the worst ever I lived in.
AC: It's ever been.
RR: Yes ma'am. Same year, like those days back there then well, I worked for fifty cent a day but I could take that fifty cent and buy two dollars worth. [laughter]
AC: Yeah.
RR: Then.
AC: When was the last time you worked?
RR: Worked? Well, the most, the most working that I would done was on the farm. I got down sick back then in those days, when I was young in my teenage. I got down to hear what happened with my father sent us to a store on the mule to get a piece of back for. It was a man kept the store about a mile from where we was living at. So I went to that store and jumped off the mule on a nail, and it jumped clean through my feet. Clean through my feet. And back there then you father was chained to the doctor then. You just put a little something on it--.
AC: Uh-hum.
RR: Go ahead on, and finally then I went on it for three days, and I couldn't go no further. Fell with heart attacks. Fell and they rushed me to the doctor, you know. The doctor wanted no soon than see me than he done that he got blood poisoning in his feet. [pause] So I had never been healed up on every months then, I would have those sick spells. And until moved here to Charlotte. Went to Charleston to all those hospitals and the hospitals up there. Them doctors down ( ) ( ) none of them could stop it. So when I moved here to Charlotte, I tried here, but nobody here can stop it. So finally then I got a little job working with a white man and--.
AC: Where did you work?
RR: Right there on the same street. This was a little place, there was building you call it the Henry Walker place way on up Tryon Street. But I think its done changed now from him. I think somebody else done bought it. I was a toting bricks, and I made a few days then took one of those sick spells. So he told me I was in the same shape his daughter was in, he was gonna get me to a doctor that could help me. He got me in touch with a doctor in Chicago, Illinois and that stopped it. That stopped it.
AC: What was wrong with you?
RR: That doctor told me that the doctor that was, had treated me never got all the blue blood out of my feet, and at times that rushing would come to my head. But still I've got to take medicine right on for it, right now. So they got the medicine here in Charlotte now.
AC: Uh-huh
RR: I got to have, still I got to have medicine. If I don't, I have those spells right off.
AC: What happened to your arm?
RR: That was when I was trying to work in the cafe and took one the sick spells. And got into hot water, scarred it up. Sure did.
AC: What are those necklaces on, signify?
RR: Ma'am?
AC: What do your necklaces signify?
RR: Nothing but some--, something to wear.
AC: Yeah, I thought they maybe meant something special.
RR: Nothing but something to wear. I like that.
AC: Right, they are nice. Do you have anything else you want to share with us?
RR: No not especially today, probably I'm gonna have something ready by--.
AC: No, this is fine we just wanted to see what you liked to talk about.
RR: Oh yes.
AC: OK thank you.