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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Richard Barentine, January 28, 1999. Interview I-0068. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Family instills values

Barrentine credits a stable family life with instilling in him the values he brought to his adult life.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Richard Barentine, January 28, 1999. Interview I-0068. 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.

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Can you describe the process, as you look back, of your values formation? Like most of us, parents were a principal influence? RB: I had a very stable childhood. My parents are both, at this point, still alive in their eighties. I didn't experience divorce. I did experience much death. I lost grandparents, but I had no siblings who died. I have an older sister, a younger brother and a younger sister. I got a very strong public school education. When I look back on my public school education, it wasn't education by intimidation, but we certainly didn't have the same kind of learning atmosphere that you find in a number of public schools now. I attended a public state-owned university. It was my choice to go to that university. I feel I got a very sound education there. I think life was very stable. It was perhaps a little more simple. There were not the outside pressures. We certainly weren't faced with drugs. Twenty-one was an age of being able to do a lot of things, and that certainly kept you from doing a lot of things until you could get to twenty-one. I think it was a good time to grow up. I think Memphis was a good place to grow up. Early in my life I experienced segregation, and then in my life, have experienced integration. Not always at a flash point, although I was in the deep south. Memphis didn't have some of the problems that other parts of that part of the south had in terms of adjusting to integration. I saw a great deal change, and I think that helps educate you because I was reared on the end of that segregation. Every generation from my grandfather's generation, to my father, to mine, to my nieces and nephews, that's a blurring picture. Everybody has their own feelings. As you go back, those generations, they're a little different. I grew up with Depression-era parents, who were scarred by that, [and] still [are] today. It influences the way they reared their children. My grandparents were university educated. My parents were not because they were teenagers during the Depression and that just wasn't an option. I grew up in an enlightened environment where good grammar, good manners were required. They just have become second nature and so for that and all of the things my parents did for me, I'm very grateful as are my siblings. I think it was not harsh. It was not hard. It was certainly influenced by the Depression, but I think anyone my age, their parents were influenced by the Depression. None of us live in Memphis. My parents reared four very independent children. We were not expected to stay in Memphis, if we chose not to. I graduated from college on Wednesday and left on Saturday and haven't lived back in Tennessee since. Actually, I have now lived in North Carolina longer than I lived in Tennessee and consider North Carolina my home. It's a home that my family, my ancestry [came from]. I've returned to where we all came from, anyway. We were just kind of in Tennessee, but for a long time.