Documenting the American South Logo
oral histories of the American South
Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Mildred Price Coy, April 26, 1976. Interview G-0020. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Coy's family and their relationship with their impoverished neighbors

Though the Prices had fallen onto harder economic times, they still felt that they were different from their uneducated neighbors.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Mildred Price Coy, April 26, 1976. Interview G-0020. 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

MARY FREDERICKSON You said that your family was different from the people around you because they were so interested in education. Were there any other ways in which they were different that you remember? Was that the main difference, that they were determined to send their children to school?
MILDRED PRICE COY:
To tell you the truth, I don't put much stock in this, but my family had a better background. My grandfather and grandmother on my mother's side were respected people in their own community. And my Grandfather Price had a factory. And I wouldn't want the people around there to say it, but they did have a more enlightened background. Other people were just poor whites from the South, and you know that type. They were poor whites; that's all. We never associated with them socially. MARY FREDERICKSON You only associated with your relatives or the friends of your father's.
MILDRED PRICE COY:
Yes. MARY FREDERICKSON Was there any feeling of real distinction between those people who were able to hold onto their land even if it was mortgaged, who owned their own land, and those who worked as tenants? Was that the major distinction?
MILDRED PRICE COY:
That was one distinction; I don't know whether it was the major one. They just didn't have any education. No education. And of course we thought the blacks were so inferior, it didn't matter to us one way or another whether they had any or not. We always had friendly relations with the blacks. MARY FREDERICKSON Friendlier than with the poor whites?
MILDRED PRICE COY:
just the same. They didn't visit us. The whites might make a visit to us sometimes. We never had anything to do socially with the blacks except to. . . . MARY FREDERICKSON Were the social distinctions made in religion as well? Were the Presbyterians "better than" the Primitive Baptists?
MILDRED PRICE COY:
The Primitive Baptists were mostly backward people. The Presbyterians were supposed to be better. MARY FREDERICKSON Why did your family go to the Primitive Baptist Church?
MILDRED PRICE COY:
So they could see everybody. My brother Valentine had a little trunk, and my mother would empty his trunk and make cakes and fried chicken and good ham, and then everybody would have an outdoor meal up there. MARY FREDERICKSON So it was a community sort of thing.
MILDRED PRICE COY:
Yes. We didn't go very often.