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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Mareda Sigmon Cobb and Carrie Sigmon Yelton, June 16 and 18, 1979. Interview H-0115. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Everyone in the family contributed to the family income

Even when the rest of the family did not do "public work," everyone contributed to the family income through canning, gardening, and other forms of trade. When each of the children were in their mid-teens, they dropped out of school to work in the mills.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Mareda Sigmon Cobb and Carrie Sigmon Yelton, June 16 and 18, 1979. Interview H-0115. 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

You know, back then a man could make... We didn't make a living; we were resisted back them times. We had the average of a large family. My daddy made pretty good in his work. Sometimes he'd take a job, and he wouldn't get paid till he'd get the job done. I know one time he built a church for a bunch of colored people down here below Hickory somewhere. They didn't pay him, and we laughed at him. He went down there and locked the church up [laughter] till he got his pay. [Laughter] That's about the only way you could collect.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Would there be periods, then, when you didn't have very much money?
MAREDA SIGMON COBB:
Yes, but we had good credit, and we'd run it. We used to buy our butter and milk from Louis Frye over here. And then Alf Hebner run a store, and we'd get stuff there. He carried everything.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Did you have a garden?
MAREDA SIGMON COBB:
Yes, we'd always have a garden. My mother always had her garden. If she didn't work in it so much, she made us young'uns do it. [Laughter]
JACQUELYN HALL:
Did your mother do anything else to earn money?
MAREDA SIGMON COBB:
No. Us kids would get out and pick blackberries. We'd can blackberries. We helped can. We'd have all kinds of canned stuff. And I never will forget that big old icebox. You know, we didn't have Frigidaires back then. But we lived over here in West Hickory in the last house my daddy built. He built three and sold the other two. We was all pretty well grown. Carrie was born there. My mother was forty-five years old when she was born. So she went.() You had to have a weight on this big old icebox; it was a huge thing. We'd buy three hundred pounds of ice and put in there, or maybe put five hundred; we have bought five hundred. But we always had good cold stuff. My mother was a wonderful cook; she'd always been. She'd enjoy it; she stayed in the kitchen. We had plenty to eat.
JACQUELYN HALL:
When did you kids go to work?
MAREDA SIGMON COBB:
I went to work two months before I was sixteen.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Did you quit school?
MAREDA SIGMON COBB:
Yes, I quit school and went to work. Kids did back then. [Laughter] Yes, we all went to work.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Where did the kids older than you work?
MAREDA SIGMON COBB:
Most of them worked in textiles, didn't they?
CARRIE SIGMON YELTON:
Oh, yes.
MAREDA SIGMON COBB:
My oldest brother was master mechanic over here at the furniture factories.
CARRIE SIGMON YELTON:
Southern Desk over here, my next-to-oldest brother worked over there.
MAREDA SIGMON COBB:
The oldest one was Lee Irvin. The next to our oldest brother joined and went to service back before World War I, and he wasn't in there but about six months till he died. He always had head trouble, and I think they tried to cure it, and when he come home his skull( ) We never did know too much about it. Back then, you know, you didn't get nothing, and my daddy and mama never did know too much about it.
JACQUELYN HALL:
They didn't know really what had happened?
MAREDA SIGMON COBB:
No.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Did they feel that he hadn't been treated well?
MAREDA SIGMON COBB:
I don't know. I think he must have took infection when they operated on him or something. That's what they always believed, I think. Then he died. He never was married. But he was grown when he entered service.