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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Nell Putnam Sigmon, December 13, 1979. Interview H-0143. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Responsibilities of farm children

Sigmon describes what her family life was like when she was growing up. She especially focuses on how each of the children helped out around the house, at times in ways that seemed to violate common gender norms.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Nell Putnam Sigmon, December 13, 1979. Interview H-0143. 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:
Was your daddy a lot different from your mother?
NELL PUTNAM SIGMON:
No, not much different. Well, my family was just close. That's why it hurt me so bad when I had to give up my mother. We were all so close. And you can just imagine how a bunch of high school boys would be. [laughter] My twin brothers were the smallest. They played in the band. And the one took Spanish, and the other one took something else. And if I'd get a bad cold or if I'd get sick, now he thought that he knew [laughter] what to give me. And one time they held me down—I had the flu—and give me about half a bottle of castor oil. I got over my flu, though. [laughter] But now that's just how mischievous…
JACQUELYN HALL:
Did they tease you a lot?
NELL PUTNAM SIGMON:
Oh, and aggravate the life out of me.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Did they ever make you unhappy or mad?
NELL PUTNAM SIGMON:
No. But they could wash and iron and cook. Every one of them could do all kinds of things.
JACQUELYN HALL:
The boys could do those things?
NELL PUTNAM SIGMON:
Yes. And the one that went to California was a pharmacist. He could can food, vegetables. Beans and things like that out of the garden.
JACQUELYN HALL:
How did that come about, that the boys learned how to do those things?
NELL PUTNAM SIGMON:
Just being around Mother. They'd just chip in and help. That one, he could operate the canner as good as Mother.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Did your daddy help around the house like that?
NELL PUTNAM SIGMON:
Yes. Well, he worked at the public work about all the time.
JACQUELYN HALL:
So he didn't do …
NELL PUTNAM SIGMON:
And one did the milking. We had cows then.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Did you live on a farm?
NELL PUTNAM SIGMON:
Yes, we lived out in the country.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Did your daddy travel around a lot?
NELL PUTNAM SIGMON:
Yes, he worked at construction work. After we got older and the boys were in high school, we didn't want to travel then, so we just got us a house and settled down. And then when he'd get weekends off, he'd come home.
JACQUELYN HALL:
And did you actually raise crops?
NELL PUTNAM SIGMON:
We had a garden and just things like that. We had cows. We didn't have a whole lot. I think we had two milk cows.