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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 remembers her time at the North Carolina College for Women

Coy and her sisters attended the North Carolina College for Women. She remembers why she loved her time there so much and the professors who especially influenced her. She also discusses how the local community kept the more radical academics under control.

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 When you came back and your father said you were talking like a Yankee, what had the view been that you had gotten about the North or the rest of the country other than the South as you were growing up?
MILDRED PRICE COY:
I didn't get any different view, because people in Miami are the most reactionary people, I believe, in the United States. And everybody was reactionary. I didn't get anything any different. And they're still that way. I went back down there with Harold in 1947. I thought I'd go back to Miami. I was working for China Aid then. But we went down there for a little vacation, and I saw my friends of high school days. And one of the first things they said to me was, "Mildred, you wouldn't know Miami now. It's just full (they meant of Jews) of them." MARY FREDERICKSON Had you had any contact with Jewish people when you were in Miami?
MILDRED PRICE COY:
There were some in school, but I thought everybody was just alike. I didn't pay any attention to it. MARY FREDERICKSON So you basically didn't have any different experience than you had had in North Carolina.
MILDRED PRICE COY:
Except people had more money, and I didn't have any money. And my uncle was very poor. But they were always nice to me, and I'd go to their house and stay, especially if they didn't have any companion for their daughter. I'd go there and stay a week or two. They were always sweet, and I loved them. I just cried when I finally left. I went home once or twice when I was there. MARY FREDERICKSON Didn't it upset you to be away from your mother for that long?
MILDRED PRICE COY:
No. I wrote to her, and she wrote to me. Nothing upset me if I couldn't do anything about it, you see. There was nothing I could do about it, so I just accepted it. MARY FREDERICKSON You said you cried when you left Miami. Were you sort of apprehensive about going to Greensboro to school?
MILDRED PRICE COY:
No, I didn't know I was going to Greensboro. I wanted to go to Vassar. I used to write "Vassar" all the time I was in high school; I'd write "Vassar" on my pieces of paper. I wanted to go there. MARY FREDERICKSON Where did you get the idea of going to Vassar?
MILDRED PRICE COY:
I don't know. I just saw about it in some magazine or something. I wanted to go to Vassar. But I never applied there or anything like that, because I knew it would cost money. I cried because to leave my friends. I loved my friends there. And for four years, you see; that's a long time. MARY FREDERICKSON When you came back, did you have trouble getting back into your family or friends in North Carolina?
MILDRED PRICE COY:
I didn't have any friends in North Carolina then. So Brans and I went off to the Women's College the next fall. And we loved it there. Oh, we just thought it was great. You know, the first night we were there, they were trying to break in the new girls. So we went over and sat on the hockey field, and there were some benches there. And they taught us this song [sings]: "Ain't it great tonight to be in Carolina, Where the pine trees and the nigger cabins stand, And the finest thing in all of Carolina, N. C. College is the finest in the land." I remember that. [Laughter] MARY FREDERICKSON Were you easily broken in? Was it easy to adjust to living there and going to school?
MILDRED PRICE COY:
Oh, yes. We just loved it. We just adored it. MARY FREDERICKSON What did you like best about it?
MILDRED PRICE COY:
We made some friends right away that were from Wilmington. And Brans has a wonderful sense of humor. And she had a trunk. And nobody had trunks, but she had a trunk. And so they would come over to our room and listen to Brans talk about the trunk. [Laughter] And, you know, some of our poverty stories when we were growing up. Oh, we just had a wonderful time. They had big sisters then, and my big sister was so nice to me. I just loved the Women's College. I was there three years, and then I went to Chapel Hill. MARY FREDERICKSON How had Branson gone to high school?
MILDRED PRICE COY:
She lived with my uncle in Leaksville, and so she went to high school there. My father had to farm us out to get to high school. MARY FREDERICKSON Did you and Branson . . . [END OF TAPE 1, SIDE B] [TAPE 2, SIDE A] [START OF TAPE 2, SIDE A] MARY FREDERICKSON I wondered if you would describe the atmosphere at the Women's College when you were there. Was it restrictive or was it open? Were you able to go where you wanted to?
MILDRED PRICE COY:
No, it was restrictive. They let us go to the First Presbyterian Sunday school on Sunday. Dr. Faust was the President, and one time—I've forgotten the issue—he got up in the main assembly. He said, "Young ladies, I will tolerate no radicalism." And I don't know what it was we did. [Laughter] I haven't the faintest idea. So he didn't tolerate it anymore, whatever it was. I wasn't there with Lois [MacDonald]; I'd already left. She was there my last year, my first year at Chapel Hill and last. But oh, they just adored Lois, Brans and all the people in our group. And I tell you who else was a big influence, Mr. Edward Lindeman. MARY FREDERICKSON He was on the faculty when you were there?
MILDRED PRICE COY:
Yes, he was on the faculty. Did Mary tell you about the hams? MARY FREDERICKSON No.
MILDRED PRICE COY:
Mr. Lindeman was teaching a class, and he talked about the Cone Cotton Mills. He says, "Instead of giving good wages, they give them hams at Christmas." Well, that just set everybody wild, to criticize the Cone mill. They let him out; he didn't last. MARY FREDERICKSON Do you remember anything about the reputation that he had in Greensboro or the school?
MILDRED PRICE COY:
Everybody that knew him just loved him. He was great. The first breath of fresh air we'd ever had there. MARY FREDERICKSON Did he have a reputation as an eccentric or anything like that?
MILDRED PRICE COY:
No. I remember his telling us once that Dr. Faust just nearly drove him crazy trying to get him to come down there to teach. He wouldn't let him alone for a day till he got him there. MARY FREDERICKSON Did he say anything about what his impression of the school was once he got there?
MILDRED PRICE COY:
No, but he talked to us. He was circumspect. But he did like to make us think, except, of course, Lindeman was never very much of a left-winger himself. He was an awfully sweet person. Did Mary tell you that the Ku Klux Klan ran him out? MARY FREDERICKSON No.
MILDRED PRICE COY:
The year I was at Chapel Hill the Ku Klux Klan ran him out of Greensboro. And so I was so horrified that I wrote him a letter, and I said I never heard the like in all my life. And I remember he wrote back to me, but I don't know what he said. MARY FREDERICKSON Do you remember the reaction of the people on the campus when he left?
MILDRED PRICE COY:
No, I don't remember any of that. Brans could tell you more about that. I don't really know, because I wasn't there.