Documenting the American South Logo
oral histories of the American South
Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Blanche Scott, July 11, 1979. Interview H-0229. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Sources of Scott's work ethic

Scott describes the sources of her work ethic. Growing up with a grandmother who worked extremely hard and a mother who struggled to provide for her family despite an illness, Scott resolved to pull herself up out of poverty. Determined to "have something before [she] died," and inspired by her Christian faith, Scott set out to earn comfort through hard work.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Blanche Scott, July 11, 1979. Interview H-0229. 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

BEVERLY JONES:
You mentioned your grandmother and your mother and your father. Which of those individuals played a paramount part in your life?
BLANCHE SCOTT:
My people, they didn't finish school. As I said, they were poor. They didn't finish school, and they had to work in tobacco. That's how I come in and know about tobacco was through them, by them working there. As far as they was able, they done what they could.
BEVERLY JONES:
You said you always wanted to work and always wanted to be independent. Which of these three, or maybe all three made an impact on your life? Usually when you're growing up, the family plays such a tremendous role in instilling certain things in your life. Maybe it was your grandmother that had talked to you.
BLANCHE SCOTT:
I looked at my grandmother would get up in the mornings. There used to be a whistle blow at 6:30. She got up one morning, and the 6:30 whistle was blowing, and she was late. She got up in a hurry, nervous and everything. She told me to get her a cup and put some molasses in that and a biscuit in a bucket. I fixed that and give it to her. She went running. I looked at her running, going to work. I thought about that. I wanted to be so when I growed up that maybe I wouldn't have to go out like that. But I did start—lot of times you have to start at things you don't want—you have to work on that till you can do better. I learnt from her going out like that in the morning because my mother would be home a lot of times sick. Sometimes mama would go to work and then she'd come back sick. She had some kind of palpitation at the heart. It made me want to when I grow up, I wanted to have something. I was going to work one morning, and I saw a schoolmate of mine. She was bringing her daddy to work in a car, beautiful car. He was a colored foreman at Liggett and Myers. I looked at her and I thought about myself. I wanted to have something one day, so I just didn't stop. I just kept on till I did get a chance. I used to worry, where in the world would I get a shop at, I didn't know. It was fixed so, when Mildred give her shop up, I kept that one. I looked at my grandmother and I wanted to do better than that as I grew up. I wanted to have something because my people, they didn't own their home. They didn't own anything, just poor people, but I wanted to have something before I died. But you got to have that ambition to do it. I went to graduation one Sunday, they had it at Mount Vernon church. That was the year that Thelma Hughes and Florence Roland, they finished. I looked at those children marching in—I was grown—I sit there and looked at them and deep down inside I was wanting to finish something. I even dreamed I was marching with a robe. When I did take this course, my dream come true because I was marching down Mount Vernon aisles with a grey robe on. That's where we had our graduating exercise—Mount Vernon church.
BEVERLY JONES:
You seemed to be a very strong-willed and very determined…
BLANCHE SCOTT:
Well, you have to. When you come up like I did, I just tell it like it is, we were poor people. I'm not rich now, but I got more than we had then. When you make it up in your mind that you going to do something worthwhile, then you going pull toward that and you're going pray for it too. The Lord made a way for me all the way through.