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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's experiences as a young schoolteacher in the rural South

After she graduated from college, Coy went to work in various rural school districts around North Carolina. Her first year, she worked in Wilson under Charles L. Coon, Wilson's superintendent of schools and the North Carolina Secretary of Child Labor.

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 finished college, do you remember having any sense of what you wanted to do or where you wanted to go?
MILDRED PRICE COY:
No, I knew I had to teach school; that was all I knew how to do. I didn't know how to do it, but I mean it was the only thing I was trained for. MARY FREDERICKSON So that was as far ahead as you thought. You had an obligation to teach for a couple of years, didn't you?
MILDRED PRICE COY:
Yes, I had to teach to pay back my tuition. MARY FREDERICKSON Did you have any plans further than that?
MILDRED PRICE COY:
No, I didn't. I didn't get along very well teaching in Wilson. A Mr. Coon was the Superintendent, and oh, was he ghastly. His wife taught, too. But he was so terrible. I didn't know how to teach; it was my first year. MARY FREDERICKSON Did they assign you to a school?
MILDRED PRICE COY:
No, a man came there and recruited teachers. There was a high school student who had a car. I even remember this boy's name, Bugs Cozart. He would wait for me when I got through teaching and take me home in his car. Well, I didn't think anything about it. It didn't occur to me that somebody couldn't take a teacher home in a car. He was a senior. And so I didn't realize that I was doing anything wrong. Nobody told me I was doing anything wrong. He'd just take me home, and I'd get off. And so Mr. Coon brought it up in a teachers' meeting. He didn't call any names. But that just nearly slew me. MARY FREDERICKSON Did you talk to him about it?
MILDRED PRICE COY:
Oh, no, you never talked to him about anything. He wrote me a letter when I said I'd teach there, and he said, "Now, I don't want any card-playing, dancing people." I taught a history written by Muzzy, and Muzzy taught that the South was in the wrong, too. So I went to a woman's house one night and told her what it was teaching. Oh, she was just horrified that I would teach that the South was in the wrong. She was horrifed. Well, two or three things like that happened, so I didn't go back. I taught in a place called Roland for one year, and then I got recruited for the YW. MARY FREDERICKSON Where did you live when you taught in Wilson and Roland?
MILDRED PRICE COY:
One of my school friends, Ethel Bynum from Farmville, was there, and she and I lived together, and we lived in two people's houses. Ethel was awfully fussy. She was tactless. So we lived in this woman's house, and Ethel didn't think we had enough heat. So she bawled her out, and so we left, but she was glad for us to leave. And we went to another house, and it was absolutely terrible. The worst child I've ever seen in my life was in that house. So then we moved to another house, so we lived, really, in three houses in Wilson. And we knew some men there, and we played bridge a lot. I really enjoyed the contacts in Wilson. MARY FREDERICKSON Did you ever get in trouble for playing cards?
MILDRED PRICE COY:
No, I never did. [Laughter] I didn't even think about it. MARY FREDERICKSON So you did have some fun when you lived there.
MILDRED PRICE COY:
Yes. And then I went to Roland. I know what they wanted me to do in Wilson. They wanted me to teach the grammar school grades. They wanted me not to teach in high school anymore. And I didn't want to do that. So then I went to Roland. The Superintendent of Schools in Roland didn't know how to speak the English language. [Laughter]