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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Icy Norman, April 6 and 30, 1979. Interview H-0036. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

A self-reliant farm family

Norman remembers the demands of farm life. She and her family had to prepare for each winter by putting up canned foods, because there were no supermarkets to run to if supplies ran low. She describes a totally self-reliant family.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Icy Norman, April 6 and 30, 1979. Interview H-0036. 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 MURPHY:
Did you like working in the factory better than working on the farm?
ICY NORMAN:
Oh, yeah. But I'm getting a little too fast. In the meantime me and Dewey still put the crop out. He was there by day and I would help when I got home, you know. Well, Fred come and told me one Saturday, "You tell Dewey to come in. I need a hand in the cutting room." I says, "Goody. Goody. Goody. I get to go home every night." So I told Dewey. And Dewey, he went to work. Well, we had the crop planted and it was coming up. We would work. We'd have to work until six o'clock. We'd get home and since we eat, we'd take off to the field. He would plow and I'd hoe. We worked that way and raised our crop.
MARY MURPHY:
What were you raising?
ICY NORMAN:
We raised corn, beans, stuff like that to eat on the farm. Back then you couldn't go to the store and buy vegetables. You had to raise everything you'd eat through the winter. We raised wheat for flour. Of course that wasn't no trouble. All you done, you sowed your wheat in the fall. That's all you had to do to it until you thrashed it. Then a man come around with a wheat thrasher and with a crew of men and they'd thrash a big field of wheat in a day. Yeah, you had to raise everything you eat. We would always raise potatoes. I've often wondered why people can't do that this day and time. Back then we would raise potatoes anywhere from seventy-five to a hundred bushels of Irish potatoes. My daddy would have Dewey there in the field take this wheat straw and put down and put a shock of fodder and corn right in the middle and stand it up and pour them potatoes around it and then cover them up in wheat straw and pack dirt all the way around them. And we done our sweet potatoes that way.
MARY MURPHY:
That kept them?
ICY NORMAN:
Yeah. And we done our cabbage that way. And turnips. My daddy would have us pull our turnips up. They call them holing them away. And we'd fix them. We had all of our sweet potatoes and cabbages and turnips and Irish potatoes and stuff like that holed away. Then mama would always can all of our beans and made her jelly and canned all of her fruit. You didn't know what it was to go to the store and buy something because they didn't have it. All you could find in the store would be this green coffee, and even then you had to parch it. You could buy sugar and salt. We had our hogs. We had our chickens. We raised everything we eat, you know. They take the wheat and have it ground up in flour. We'd take our corn and have it ground up for corn bread. We had plenty of milk and butter. What more do you need? You had everything. When the crop was laid by, me and Dewey would come home and pull fodder, tie them bundles of fodder by the moonlight. By the time we got home then it was dark. We'd eat supper and we'd take off to the fields. We maybe have ten or fifteen acres in corn. We'd pull all that fodder and go back and cut all them tops and tie them. Shuck them, and stack them up. Then we'd go back and pull our corn. We done that by the moonlight. Then they'd have a big corn shucking. People would come in and help shuck your corn and throw it in the crib. Maybe the next neighbor would have his ready and we'd all go to his house. That's the way they done until everybody got their corn shucked. And put away in the smoke house. Then on Saturday evening me and Dewey would cut wood to last all the woolen week, to burn in the fireplace and cook with, too. We'd stay there all evening until late at night sawing wood and packing it up to do all the week. That was our Saturday evening's work.