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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Louise Cole, March 16, 1995. Interview G-0157. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Growing up with a strong female role model

Cole describes the role of her mother in her family while she was growing up in Maryland in the 1940s and 1950s. Because her father did not make enough money to sustain the family, Cole's mother worked for fifty hours each week as a secretary. According to Cole, her mother was a very strong presence in her life and she credits her mother with establishing within her a strong moral conviction and a desire for education.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Louise Cole, March 16, 1995. Interview G-0157. 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

And, uh, did your mother work??
Yes, my mother, well, let's see. My father had a sixth grade education, grew up in Baltimore, Maryland, one of 9 children, went to work after the sixth grade to support the family because his father left his mother with the 9 children. He was, my father was a twin. My mother grew up on a farm in western Maryland, was the oldest of six children. Her mother, she watched her mother die when she was 15 years old, and consequently only made it to the eighth grade. But then after eighth grade, she decided to go to Catherman's Business School and became a secretary slash accountant, and so she worked most of her life. When I was very young, from kindergarten through sixth grade, she did not work. But in sixth grade she started working, again, to help support the family. Because my father worked as a salesman and did not make very much money. She made -50. a week as a secretary, and worked 60 hours a week.?
So you would say she - I'm gonna focus on her - she was a very strong woman? In many ways??
Yes. In many, in many ways. She had very bad health, but she was very strong in her moral convictions, in her independence and in her ability to teach me, if you will, what was right and what was wrong and being able to take care of yourself. She taught me that if you wanted something bad enough, you worked for it, you saved for it, and then you got it. And she instilled in me a desire to get a college education because no one in her family had ever, in my father or my mother's family, had ever gone to college, and she said that if, in my future, that I got married and something happened to my husband, that I would need the college education to be able to support my children. And so she instilled that into, in my mind and my debt, and I decided that's what I wanted to do and nothing was going to stop me from getting the college education.