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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 trains to be a secretary for the YWCA

Louise Leonard McLaren recruited Coy to work as a secretary for the YWCA. Coy describes how she became involved with the YWCA and what the training process entailed.

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.

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So I was very happy when Miss Leonard [Mrs. Louise Leonard McLaren] came by, and asked me if I didn't want to work for the YW. I was very glad. MARY FREDERICKSON How did you meet her?
MILDRED PRICE COY:
She was a friend of Lois MacDonald. Lois told her to try to recruit Brans. And Brans said, "I don't want to do it, but my sister Mildred might." So she sent her to me. MARY FREDERICKSON So she came up to Roland and talked to you about it?
MILDRED PRICE COY:
I think I was at Chapel Hill, and she came by Chapel Hill. MARY FREDERICKSON What was she like then?
MILDRED PRICE COY:
She was just the way she always was. She was a typical Vassar graduate, very dignified and kind, and wanted people to get social ideas. MARY FREDERICKSON Was she enthusiastic about the YWCA per se?
MILDRED PRICE COY:
Yes, she loved it. She liked to work for the YW. There were so few organizations like that. MARY FREDERICKSON Did you immediately say yes, that you would love to be recruited as an industrial secretary?
MILDRED PRICE COY:
She said I should go to New York that summer of '24 and study at the YWCA School, and I said, "Well, I have no money." I think I got a hundred dollars a month in Roland, and the school just lasted nine months. But she said, "Well, maybe you can get along some way or other." I've forgotten how I got along, but I know that ten cents meant a great deal to me at that time. MARY FREDERICKSON So you went to New York during the summer of '24?
MILDRED PRICE COY:
Yes. MARY FREDERICKSON Was that an experience for you, to go to the city?
MILDRED PRICE COY:
Yes. I couldn't understand all those foreigners in New York. They all had such big feet; I remember that. MARY FREDERICKSON Big feet.
MILDRED PRICE COY:
Yes, at least . [Laughter] I lived on the East Side, and these foreigners looked so different to me. And I thought their feet were the biggest feet. I have big feet myself. But they were poor people, and they had these spread-out shoes. I wasn't exactly afraid of them, but I stayed clear of them. And it was so hot in New York. MARY FREDERICKSON Where did you live?
MILDRED PRICE COY:
I lived in an apartment house. Some of the YWCA secretaries rented it out. They were away for the summer, and I lived there. MARY FREDERICKSON What kinds of things did you learn at the YWCA?
MILDRED PRICE COY:
Oh, I learned so much. They had a group there in New York—maybe it was the Fellowship of Reconciliation; I can't remember—and they'd take a group around every Saturday to a different group. They took us to the socialists, to the communists, to the Christian Fellowship; they took us around to every kind of thinking group; the pacifists. And every one they'd take me to, I'd think it was right. It just seemed to appeal to me. "We don't want any more war," so they took it to this. And then they'd take you to the socialist group, and I'd say, "Well, that sounds interesting. I'd like to know about that." [Laughter] I don't believe they took us to the communists then; I can't remember. But anyway, every one I went on, I was so impressed, and [laughter] I thought how nice it would be if I could belong to a group like that. MARY FREDERICKSON Was this sponsored by the YWCA?
MILDRED PRICE COY:
No. MARY FREDERICKSON Contacts you made through the Y?
MILDRED PRICE COY:
Yes. They put a bulletin board up on the wall in the YWCA, and then you'd decide to go. And you'd pay a little something, and they'd take you around. MARY FREDERICKSON Did they run a school themselves at the Y?
MILDRED PRICE COY:
Yes, they did. That was where I studied that summer. MARY FREDERICKSON And you attended classes there?
MILDRED PRICE COY:
Yes, on how to be a YWCA secretary. MARY FREDERICKSON [Laughter] What were they giving out as how to be a YWCA secretary?
MILDRED PRICE COY:
Oh, they told you about programming, and how to recruit girls, and . . . MARY FREDERICKSON Was all that sort of practical, very pragmatic sorts of things that you would need to know when you went into a town to set up a program?
MILDRED PRICE COY:
Yes. MARY FREDERICKSON Rather than being political or social?
MILDRED PRICE COY:
Oh, no, no. They didn't want you to be political. You could be social-minded. And they were all for blacks.