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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Louise Riggsbee Jones, October 13, 1976. Interview H-0085-2. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Marriage described as a domestic partnership with shared responsibilities

Jones describes how her marriage was very much a partnership. After giving birth to her children, Jones returned to work in the cotton mill during the Great Depression in order to contribute to the family's economic survival. At the same time, she explains that her husband worked to help with household chores and childcare. Noting that there was no type of day care offered for mill workers' children, Jones says that most families worked together in this manner in order to make ends meet and to take care of children.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Louise Riggsbee Jones, October 13, 1976. Interview H-0085-2. 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:
I was wondering about how you felt about working after you were married. Did you want to be able to stay home, or did Paul want you to stay home instead of having to go to work? How did he feel about your working?
LOUISE JONES:
Well, I'll tell you. The Depression came along, and I wanted to work and help all I could. He didn't run around anywhere; he always stayed at home right close. And he loved to go to ballgames. He'd go to ballgames maybe on Saturday afternoon and all away from here. But he stayed at home good. And I just worked some extra time when I could, when he could be with the children. I never did put my children out here and yonder and everywhere and go leave them. If I could have them to stay at home, I didn't work.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Did some women put their children with other women to stay? How did people get people to take care of their children?
LOUISE JONES:
Most of the time, one would be at home and the other one at work, along then.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
That's how most people did it?
LOUISE JONES:
They didn't have the day care nurseries and all like they do now.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Did the mill ever provide any kind of care? Could you take your children down there?
LOUISE JONES:
No. Children could go in the mill, which they can't now, with you. Or if they were big enough to go by themselves, they could go.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Would children ever come get their parents if they needed them?
LOUISE JONES:
If it was at home and they needed to tell you or ask you something, they could come in and do that, but they couldn't stay in there, of course, for long. But they were not as strict about it as they are now.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
When you were working, did you and Paul both do the housework like you both took care of the children?
LOUISE JONES:
Yes. When I worked at night, Paul would get up of a morning and fix him some breakfast and go on to work. He had to go to work at six, you know. And then I would get up-Claiborne and Hettie were both in school-in time to help them a little to get ready to go to school, because I wanted them always to look right, be right when they'd go. But he'd always get up and fix him something to eat of a morning; I didn't get up to do that.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
But you did most of the cooking during the day, like the main meal?
LOUISE JONES:
Yes. And then after Hettie got bigger, she and he together would fix supper. I'd always leave something cooked to help out, and they'd warm over and fix a little supper for them at night.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
How were decisions made, like about spending money? Did you always decide those things together, or did Paul decide how money would be spent, or did you run the budget and buy the food and . . .
LOUISE JONES:
We both handled the money. That's one thing we've always done. What's his is mine, and what's mine was his, if we needed anything. Now Mr. Carey Durham, when I first commenced getting my Social Security checks and I'd go down there, I'd almost always go in and have them cashed when I could walk and go to the store, because I liked to get out a lot then. And he asked me a time or two, "You want these put together?" And of course Mr. Carey and I had been here all our lives knowing each other. I said, "Yes, Carey, what's Paul's is mine, and what's mine is his." He says, "You don't have any idea the ones that come down here, and they want their check to them and the other one to the other person." I said, "No, it's never been that way with us. Always, what we had belonged to both of us." We've never had any trouble about anything like that. We've never had any trouble. We've gotten along pretty good together, I'm thankful to say.