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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Robert W. (Bob) Scott, February 4, 1998. Interview C-0336-1. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

A loan as courtship ritual

Scott remembers a loan that played the role of a courting ritual for him and his future wife, Jessie Rae. When Jessie Rae ran out of money to pay her tuition at North Carolina State University, Scott lent her some of his savings. They drew up a contract for the loan, and when Scott proposed, Jessie Rae refused to say yes until she squared the debt.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Robert W. (Bob) Scott, February 4, 1998. Interview C-0336-1. 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

JACK FLEER:
Now, would her circumstances have been different from yours in that regard?
ROBERT W. (BOB) SCOTT:
Yes, they were. The people who grew up in the mill community of Swepsonville, all of them worked at the mill, a typical Southern textile mill. The Hall Fields community, the adjoining community, was a farming community, and they kind of looked upon us as the landed gentry. And she said it took her years after we got married to realize I didn't have any money. [Laughter]
JACK FLEER:
A little late, huh?
ROBERT W. (BOB) SCOTT:
As a matter of fact, another story that I'm very proud of, for her. I was a student at NC State. I went to Duke for two years—if you remind me, I'll come back to that. I was going to be a country doctor. But anyway, I graduated from NC State. Well, we knew, my wife Jessie Rae and I, that we were probably going to get married. And during the last year, when it became time for her last semester, she said, "I just don't have the money to go back." She worked in the dining hall for four years, the four years she was in school, and she worked every semester in the dining hall to earn money to help get her through school. And she said, "I'm going to have to drop out until I can make enough money to finish." And I said, "If you ever do that you'll never go back." Well, knowing that we were going to get married, and thinking that we would—I had a part time job at NC State and I had been squirreling away a little money for our wedding, and so I said, "I'll lend you the money to pay all your tuition and to help," and of course she would keep working in the dining hall. And we drew up a little formal note—I've forgotten the amount; by today's standards, it wasn't all that much, but to us, it was a lot of money. And she signed it, and completed school, graduated. Because I was a transfer student, Duke to NC State, I had to go another semester to make up some courses that I didn't get because of the transfer. So I had to go back in the fall semester. But we had decided that we were going to go ahead and marry, and did, on September the first, and I continued and graduated in December. But I asked her in the spring to marry me, and she turned me down, and she said, "No, I'm going to get me a job this summer and I'm going to pay you what I owe you. I would not marry you owing you anything." And she did.
JACK FLEER:
So does this explain the story that I've heard that you are the only governor to have proposed to your wife in the governor's mansion twice?
ROBERT W. (BOB) SCOTT:
That's exactly right, and that was the reason for it. I proposed to her in the spring, and you know, I was young and naive and full of ego and thought, this is no big deal, you know, and so I proposed to her, and for the reason I just explained, she turned me down, and then later that fall, that summer, she had paid off her note to me, and I proposed again and then everything was fine.