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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Albert Gore, March 13, 1976. Interview A-0321-1. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Gore's childhood

In this early section of the interview, Gore introduces a topic he will return to repeatedly: the important influence his Tennessee roots had on his later political career. In the process of painting an idyllic picture of his childhood, he also describes his early educational experiences and the motivation they provided for his continued pursuit of learning.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Albert Gore, March 13, 1976. Interview A-0321-1. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

It has been a long while since I first viewed this earth, not very far from the hill country where we are now. It was, was and is, a rural community. I was not born in the community where I was reared. At age five, we moved some miles from Jackson County into Smith County; not very far, but some few miles. The community in which I was reared from age five until going away to college was called Possum Hollow-for want of a better name should I say! [laughter] For want of a more proper and elevating title. It enjoyed a one-room school. I recall my first joy of accomplishment. There may have been others, but the first one I recall is the teacher had some nice things to say about me on a Friday afternoon ending the first week. I had learned my ABC's. [laughter] So that touched a chord of pride, and joy of achievement. Later on in life, that same chord was touched from time to time. In this rural community, school and religion, and the physical surroundings-I mean by physical surroundings outdoors, animals, rabbits, 'coon hunting, fishing-were the key points of my life, other than, of course, my family. Almost all social life centered around church, church and Sunday school-centered around religion. The joys of Saturday and Sunday in the woods was magnificent. The boys would meet and we'd climb trees and chase each other through the treetops. That is, we'd climb a tree and swing almost like squirrels from one tree to another. But now and then there's some terrific falls. [laughter] But never any broken bones. Well, this . . . this may have instilled some individuality, may have been the springboard from which each climb upward whetted one's ambition and appetite. There was but one way to go from Possum Hollow-that was up and out! [laughter] or out! You couldn't get out except by going up, and once you got out, you were still pretty far down the pole, so everything was up and with each ascension of life's ladder, that same pride of achievement that was touched in the compliments of the teacher by learning my ABC's in five days stood me in good stead. At least, it was ethyl in my gasoline.