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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Eunice Austin, July 2, 1980. Interview H-0107. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

A limited courtship

Austin reveals something about courtship rituals in the rural white South as she recalls spending afternoons eating cake and pickles with her future husband. Her father was very strict about regulating when his daughters could spend time with young men.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Eunice Austin, July 2, 1980. Interview H-0107. 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

JACQUELYN HALL:
How did your mother and father meet?
EUNICE AUSTIN:
I think at church, because they always went to the same church. But I know my granddaddy wouldn't let my daddy come but every two weeks to see her. And it had to be on Sunday afternoon. He would not ever let a boy come around there after dark. He wouldn't even let us bring a boy and go down to his house after dark. He said nobody had ever dated at his house after dark, and we wasn't going to either.
JACQUELYN HALL:
What did you think about that?
EUNICE AUSTIN:
I just didn't contrary him. I just didn't go. I'd go during the day. But my mother let us date after dark. It was a lot of us young people in the same community, and we'd have a party every couple weeks. Just the young people get together and play games out in the yard. I would always bake a cake, and we'd have pickles. We didn't have tea and things like that to drink; we'd drink water. But we had a good time.
JACQUELYN HALL:
So your mother wasn't as strict on you as her parents had been on her.
EUNICE AUSTIN:
Oh, no. She has told us time and time again that she said if she ever had a daughter, she'd never be as strict on them as her daddy was on her, and she wasn't, either. It was quite different.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Why do you suppose he was so strict?
EUNICE AUSTIN:
It was just his way. I don't know. [END OF TAPE 1, SIDE A] [TAPE 1, SIDE B] [START OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]
JACQUELYN HALL:
He didn't want you to marry?
EUNICE AUSTIN:
No, he didn't. He had two daughters that never did marry. My mother's got two sisters that were never married. And if one of them ever had a date, I never did know about it. One of them did have a boyfriend for a while, but he was not allowed to come after night. He had to come on Sunday afternoons.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Why do you suppose he didn't want his daughters to marry? That seems kind of unusual.
EUNICE AUSTIN:
I don't know. That's what we could never understand, because he got married. I don't know why. That was just one thing; he did not want his daughters to marry.