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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Carl and Mary Thompson, July 19, 1979. Interview H-0182. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Handling life far away from her daughter

When Mary Thompson traveled for jobs, her mother would send her daughter to her on the train. A few minutes later, she describes how she found these jobs and where she stayed when she left home.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Carl and Mary Thompson, July 19, 1979. Interview H-0182. 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 THOMPSON:
When I'd leave her, I'd leave her with my mother, so I never did worry about it. And if I was on a job that I had to stay a while and couldn't come home, if I could come home once a month I'd come home, and if I seen I couldn't—it was too far, or I had to work on Saturday (I wouldn't have had time to come home and go back on Sunday)—I'd call Mama or send money, and then Mama would put her on the train if it was somewhere that she didn't have to change. You know, Altavista, Virginia, she'd send her up there, and she'd send her to South Boston. She'd put her on a train, and then I'd meet the train. She'd come by herself. And then I'd send her back on Sunday night. So I was with her. It never was over three or four weeks at the most that I ever wasn't around her, as far as . But I had her spoilt to me [Laughter] . She'd stay at Mama's a while, and then she'd start throwing a fit, wanting to come to her mama. [Laughter] So I had her a little bit spoilt. But everything worked out pretty good. I can look back now and see it worked out a heap better than I thought it was working out then.
JIM LELOUDIS:
Did you feel then like it wasn't working out very well?
MARY THOMPSON:
Oh, I'd get worried lots of times about having to leave her at Mama's and her wanting to come to me, and sometimes I couldn't take her. But I kept up with most everything she done. I knew about whether she was behaving herself or not, and so I worried some but not too much. I knowed I had to work. There wasn't no way of keeping her up, and I had her spoilt so I had to… I'm just like all the mothers; I'd give her things she didn't have to have. I wasn't like my mother; I wasn't as tight with her as my mother was with us. And it might have been better if I had been, because now she don't pay too much attention to that dollar [Laughter] , like we did. But I'd send her money, and I'd buy her things and send to her, things to keep her from getting dissatisfied. But then the job would give out. She knew I was coming back, so I didn't have too much trouble. I worried a little bit when she'd come to me because she'd be on the train by herself, but back then they'd write her name on a piece of paper and pin it on her, and her address and telephone number and all, so nothing ever did happen. We done fine. When I was in Baltimore, she came to me. Of course, she was about eleven years old then. And she even changed trains in Washington then. She had been travelling so much, she knew how to do it. [Laughter] So then she just stayed up there with me, after I got settled up there.