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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Mary Price Adamson, April 19, 1976. Interview G-0001. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Adamson's family and their interaction with other races

Adamson reflects on race relations between her family and the African American families surrounding that. To illustrate her points, she gives to examples: in one, her father refuses to register a black voter. In another, her family helps a black woman who has had a child out of wedlock.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Mary Price Adamson, April 19, 1976. Interview G-0001. 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

My father was very interested in politics. He was a registrar. When my grandfather, the tobacco manufacturer, was alive and in business, he had what we called the "office" in the front yard of our place where he ran his tobacco business-goodness, I've lost the train about what I started to say about the office. Oh, it was in the office where the voting in the precinct and the registration took place; my father was the registrar. So anybody in that precinctcame to our front yard to register and vote. I remember that most vividly because-I remember, you know, how things stick in childrens' minds without having any logical reason about why they did-but I remember my father coming in to the house one day saying that a Negro had come up to register. And he was very much confused about what to do about it. He's thinking, of course, he couldn't permit a black man to register, but on the other hand, he admitted he was better qualified than some of the people that had been there to register. I remember, and it must have been so for it to have stuck in my mind all these years, that he was really chagrined with himself about it. But he went through the business of making it so difficult for the man to register that he couldn't do it. Now I consider my father to have been an honest man, and I'm just telling you that story for what was going on, the approach about it because I'm sure that he was ashamed about doing that. But this was something that he thought he had to do.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
How did he and your mother both interact with the people who worked for them and with the people who worked for them both as tenants and also in the house, and other people in the community?
MARY PRICE ADAMSON:
Never any harshness, anything at all. They got along very well indeed with them. And there again, I have only a child's analysis of the social scene. But something that I remembered quite well. I was telling you about Martha Oliver who lived there and who had been so very close to our family. Martha married or went to live with someone who was said to be a white man. I don't know whether he really was or not. Anyhow, he lived some miles away. So when she wanted to move over there, my father went up and he took his wagon and the team and so forth, and helped Martha with the moving. For some reasonI went on that moving trip, though I can't see how there was room enough for me to go, you know. So it must have just been my wanting to go, and they found a place for me to go along. But that stuck in my mind. I'm sure my father didn't approve of Martha's going to live with that man, but he nevertheless did what he could to help her. And about my mother, I have a vivid memory of her at the time she was teaching school to try to get a little cash money, and how she was my first school teacher, incidentally. She went to some sort of teachers training course that they had in Wentworth, the county seat, one summer for several weeks, and she got her certificate to teach at the local Gold Hill school, the one-teacher, and then the two-teacher school, that was near us. She was working at that, and yet I have this vivid memory of her sewing at night and making clothes for Martha's little boy. I particularly remember it because she was making pants for the child. She showed me about how she was-whatever you would call it; these days it would be a zipper, but whatever it was the opening in the pants What the little boy needed. The subject of one's personal parts, or much less sex, was never mentioned in our house at all. My parents had ten children but we'd never have known any sex life at allwent on. My sister Ruth had lots of beaus, but they were always talked about in a social, entertaining, kind of way. There was never, never any real discussion about the serious aspects of these things. So I'm wandering around, I'm afraid.