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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Asa T. Spaulding, April 13, 1979. Interview C-0013-1. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Social life in a rural community

Spaulding describes some of the social traditions in the rural area of North Carolina where he grew up in the early 1900s. Church was a central element of life in this rural community, and so was visiting. He remembers once stowing away in his father's buggy when his father set off on one of his social calls.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Asa T. Spaulding, April 13, 1979. Interview C-0013-1. 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

WALTER WEARE:
Now this community was essentially rural. There were two towns there, Whiteville?
ASA T. SPAULDING:
Whiteville was the county seat in Columbus County. Clarkton was in Bladen County. But it was only nine miles from this community. You see, Whiteville was on the southern tip of the community; Clarkton was on the northwestern tip. Rosendale, which was no more than a railroad station, was directly north of where I lived. Whiteville was directly south.
WALTER WEARE:
Was there a name for this rural community? Was it distinctive in the sense that it had a name that you'd know it when you got to it?
ASA T. SPAULDING:
Well, it was more or less the Spaulding and Moore area. In the earliest part of the ancestry, those were the names, but others began to come in. You see, what happened, just like my mother got down there, you see. The movement in those early years, even before slavery—in other words, they're not nomads as such, but people who were drifting down? Just like in Europe, you know, when certain tribes, or certain groups would come in as invaders and all. So where the people from Roberson County go down there. My mother was the first one to come into that community.
WALTER WEARE:
Do you know anything about the community before she got there?
ASA T. SPAULDING:
No, I don't know. Because, see, I wasn't born. Where you heard more conversation would be at church after service. People would gather around the church yard and talk. That's where you had your social life, you know. You were working all day on the farm, every day of the week. Except my father had a habit. And he would get in his horse and buggy and drove from place to place, talking.
WALTER WEARE:
To visit?
ASA T. SPAULDING:
To visit. He would look forward to that, and they'd look forward to his coming, to break the monotony.
WALTER WEARE:
Was that his tradition that he created?
ASA T. SPAULDING:
Well, it was traditional with him. I don't remember anyone else who'd do it.
WALTER WEARE:
Not associated with the church?
ASA T. SPAULDING:
Just friends, you know. Some were of the Methodist Church and some of the Baptist Church. Had two of them there. We would go to the Methodist Church every Sunday, except the fourth Sunday. On the fourth Sunday, we'd go to the Baptist Church for Sunday school, and for preaching services, we'd go to the Baptist Church. Because the preacher would come down from Lumberton and preach at the Baptist Church on the fourth Sunday of the month. And they, the Baptists, would come to the Rehobeth Church, which was a Methodist Church, the first Sunday, when they had their preacher. See, the preachers at that time had four churches. One on the first Sunday, the other on the second, and around, make the circuit.
WALTER WEARE:
A circuit-riding preacher.
ASA T. SPAULDING:
That's right. That was in the early nineteen hundreds.
WALTER WEARE:
Is this one of your earliest memories, going to church, or being with your father on these buggy rides?
ASA T. SPAULDING:
Oh, there's a little trick I played on him. I don't remember what year it was, but I guess I was about eight. This particular day I hitched the horse up for him, you know, to the buggy. And he got in the buggy. I wanted to go with him, and he said I couldn't go. The buggy had a little covered area behind the seat, you know, where you put groceries and things in there, with a lid over it. I pushed that up and sat in that buggy. And he was driving along, and he didn't know I was with him. He got almost to the first stop where they had a fence with an entrance gate that you [unclear] to open to get into this home. And I knew it had to be opened. Before he got out to open it, I stood up behind him. I said, "I'm here. I'll open the gate for you." [Laughter] He was so outdone he didn't know what to do.
WALTER WEARE:
He forgave you for that?
ASA T. SPAULDING:
He forgave me. And I rode with him the rest of the round. That's one of my earliest experiences of that type of thing.