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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Ethelene McCabe Allen, May 21, 2006. Interview C-0314. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Relationship with paternal aunts

Allen describes her relationship with her paternal aunts, Roxie and Maggie, during her childhood. Focusing primarily on her remembrances of Aunt Roxie, Allen recalls that she and her siblings admired their aunt and held her in high esteem. Arguing that they sometimes felt like "country bumpkins" while visiting Aunt Roxie who lived in town, Allen alludes to the ways in which subtle class tensions existed between family members who had attained upward mobility and those who had not.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Ethelene McCabe Allen, May 21, 2006. Interview C-0314. 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

BARBARA C. ALLEN:
How often did you visit your grandmother? ETHELENE McCABE ALLEN: Maybe twice a year.
BARBARA C. ALLEN:
For how long? ETHELENE McCABE ALLEN: We didn't never spend the night, so just for a day, we might start, head out in the morning and go and visit for a few hours and Aunt Roxie would fix lunch. That's mostly where we visited her, where Aunt Roxie and Uncle Harvey lived. Aunt Roxie didn't have children. They lived down near Goldsboro, so we might go down and visit them. She would always have some of the nicest lunches. On the farm where we were, we mostly ate dried stuff or packaged goods that were not perishable and we didn't eat a lot of canned things, we did the home canning and things like that, preserved things, home canned beans and peas, and things, and Aunt Roxie - they didn't farm and she would open cans and I always remembered and - we didn't have things like that. She had that angel food cake that she bought and she would put fruit cocktail with it. She'd open a can. And we thought this was heavenly, you know. That was just something we didn't have at home. And we thought it was just out of this world to go to Aunt Roxie's house and she would put things on the table we were not used to. [Laughter]
BARBARA C. ALLEN:
Now what did she do? Was she stay at home or did she work? ETHELENE McCABE ALLEN: Yes, she stayed home. He was much older than she was and he had been in the war and had been disabled in the war, but -
BARBARA C. ALLEN:
Which war? ETHELENE McCABE ALLEN: Was it World War II? I guess.
BARBARA C. ALLEN:
How old were you when you visited? ETHELENE McCABE ALLEN: I was - well I remember, seven, eight, nine, when I was visiting there, when we lived down in Wayne County.
BARBARA C. ALLEN:
Well, that would have been during World War II, so if he was very old. ETHELENE McCABE ALLEN: It might have been World War I. Yeah, it was probably World War I. It would have been World War I that he was in. And they said he had got nerve gas or something. They had used that nerve gas and had damaged his nerves. But he did drink. He was a good man, but he would get drunk, and she had to put up with that kind of thing. But he did get a check, you know, he got a check from the government, and he didn't work! They bought a house in Goldsboro. They had rented a house out in the edge of Goldsboro, but they eventually bought a house in Goldsboro. We would visit them in town and we thought that was fantastic to go to town and visit somebody. [Laughter] People that lived in town - they were a notch above those of us country bumpkins. [Laughter] That was our thoughts back then. [Clock on dining room wall sounds the hour. It is decorated with a different wild bird for each hour and it plays that bird's song on the hour.]
BARBARA C. ALLEN:
This is our clock; it's a bird sound clock. It makes bird sounds on every hour. ETHELENE McCABE ALLEN: So it's 10:00 a.m.
BARBARA C. ALLEN:
So would you say Aunt Roxie was important to you as a child? ETHELENE McCABE ALLEN: Oh yes, she was somebody I admired. And she loved children. She didn't have any, but every child that came around was, she just coddled them and was good to them. Especially Aunt Maggie's, she was like a second mom to her three boys.