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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Willie Snow Ethridge, December 15, 1975. Interview G-0024. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Decision to become a writer

Ethridge explains why she became a writer. Ultimately, Ethridge recalls that she decided to become a writer after meeting her future husband, Mark Ethridge, who was a newspaper reporter during the 1910s. Shortly after meeting Mark, Ethridge became a student at Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia, where she decided to major in journalism so she could better understand his work. World War I gave her the opportunity to work as a reporter. From then on, Ethridge worked as a writer in one capacity or another.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Willie Snow Ethridge, December 15, 1975. Interview G-0024. 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

LEE KESSLER:
Well now, I've read some things by other people who write, and frequently they say that, "I knew I wanted to write; and I always knew I wanted to write." But if you didn't start writing until after your children were at school, it's sort of like, you know, the legend of the birth of Venus—sort of springing full-blown.
WILLIE SNOW ETHRIDGE:
No, no, no. I starting writing, you see, when I was only fifteen years old. I met my husband, and he was a newspaper reporter—I think as I said in this last book, Side By Each. I started wanting to write. I never had thought about writing before that; I had very little leaning towards it. But he was so excited over being a reporter. And then the First World War came along and he went away. I was a senior in high school when I met him, and I fell desperately in love with him right away—and never changed, and never let go. And so when I went to college my freshman year, he was still around … he hadn't gone away to war at that time. My freshman year I decided to take journalism.
LEE KESSLER:
What college was this you're talking about?
WILLIE SNOW ETHRIDGE:
Wesleyan, in Macon, Georgia. There's one in every state, you know [laughter] , practically, but this was in Macon. And it's the oldest women's college to give A.B. degrees in the world. I put that in for my college's sake—I started going, and I took journalism so I could be more knowledgable when he talked about his work and his writing.
LEE KESSLER:
So it was really on account of Mark?
WILLIE SNOW ETHRIDGE:
Absolutely and completely. And then the war came along and he went away to the war that spring. And so I continued studying what little journalism they had; they only had one or two years at Wesleyan. And then I began working in the afternoons writing at the paper, because I had gotten very much involved in journalism. So I used to go down to the Macon Telegraph after college every afternoon and do, usually, one feature (which I think I have told about) that I had to think up myself, a human interest story——which was wonderful training.
LEE KESSLER:
How did you happen to get that job?
WILLIE SNOW ETHRIDGE:
Well, because all the men had gone to war [laughter] . It was real war.