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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 >>

Cebe Sigmon tries to return to the farm

Cobb and Yelton's father twice tried to move his family from Hickory back to the countryside, but each time the children remember being miserable. The experience so uprooted Yelton that when they returned to the city, she dropped out of school even before she had to go to work.

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

JACQUELYN HALL:
Where were you on your way to?
MAREDA SIGMON COBB:
About five miles the other side of Morganton, my daddy bought a farm. And we stayed up there less than a year, so he sold it.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Why did he buy that farm?
MAREDA SIGMON COBB:
He just wanted to be a farmer. You know, it was in his blood. He was raised that way. But us kids didn't like it. I didn't like that country school, and it was altogether different from our Hickory school. I never had went nowhere but over here in West Hickory.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Did your mother like it?
MAREDA SIGMON COBB:
No, unh-uh: No, none of us did. I don't think even my daddy did, but he wouldn't own it, you know, because he bought it. So we moved back. That's when he built the last house, that she [Carrie] was born in. He built eight rooms and two big halls.
JACQUELYN HALL:
That's a pretty good size.
MAREDA SIGMON COBB:
Yes, it was just a boxed house, though, four rooms up and a hall, four rooms down and a hall. And they've got apartment houses in it now. But there's where we knowed, the last part. That's where I was living when I was married, and that's where she lived till she was a pretty good-sized girl.
CARRIE SIGMON YELTON:
So that's where I come in, I guess. [Laughter]
JACQUELYN HALL:
What do you remember about growing up?
CARRIE SIGMON YELTON:
We lived in that house till I was pretty good-sized. We went to Westmont School. That's the only school I ever went to.
MAREDA SIGMON COBB:
I was going to tell you, I never did go in that new schoolhouse, the old schoolhouse. And then they put a shoestring factory in, that I worked in for years.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Did you like school?
CARRIE SIGMON YELTON:
Yes, I liked it on up till the eighth grade, and that's when I quit. [Laughter]
JACQUELYN HALL:
Why did you want to quit?
CARRIE SIGMON YELTON:
I kind of got mad at the teacher of algebra, and I just couldn't get along with it.
JACQUELYN HALL:
You didn't like the teacher?
CARRIE SIGMON YELTON:
So I went and finished there. And then we moved from that house over to the mill village. All these houses down here is tore away now; where the trailers sit and all of that was mill houses that they rented.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Were some of you kids working in the mill by then, or how come you moved into the mill village?
CARRIE SIGMON YELTON:
My brothers did, and my baby brother worked there. And I never lived on the farm but one time. After we moved to the mill village, Hedrick down at Statesville, Daddy knew him or something or another. He got the craze to go back to the farm, so we moved down there.
PATTY DILLEY:
This was for his second time?
CARRIE SIGMON YELTON:
Yes. [Laughter] Then one of my other brothers and his family moved. I was in the third grade, and, oh, I was the teacher's pet, and I hated to go. Me and her both just cried and cried. So we didn't stay down there but about a year. My brother and his wife moved back before we did, and then it was lonesome. Me and Mama and my other brother was just so lonesome. They had a little old one-room school down there, and had to walk about three miles. My brother never did go, but I started, and I went a week, and I just didn't like it at all, you know, being used to city schools.
JACQUELYN HALL:
So you wouldn't go at all?
CARRIE SIGMON YELTON:
Yes. But the teacher one day said, "Anybody that can say, 'diller, a dollar, A very bright scholar' plumb way through," he'd give them a dollar. And I raised my hand, and because I was a new pupil he wouldn't let me say it. He let the other ones say it and got it, and I never did go back. [Laughter] We stayed there a year, and we came back. I had to go back in the third grade. But I was tickled to death. I got my same teacher back. [Laughter] I was real thrilled about that. So I quit school. Back then you could quit school when you was fourteen.
JACQUELYN HALL:
What did you do when you quit?
CARRIE SIGMON YELTON:
Just loafed. I didn't do anything. I was seventeen when I went to work in hosiery, out on Fourteenth Street. The James Hosiery Mill is still out there. I worked out there four years.