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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Bobby Wesley Bush, Sr., June 19, 2000. Interview I-0086. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Kinship and family friendship ties in a southern community

Bush describes his childhood friendship and familial ties with Neil Underdown. Raised next door to one another in Lenoir, North Carolina, in the 1930s and 1940s, Bush and Underdown were distant cousins and lifelong friends. Bush mentions that the two returned to Lenoir in the early 1950s in order to work for one of the Hickory Springs Manufacturing Company's plants, which Underdown's family owned. Eventually, both men served in the upper levels of the company's management. His comments here emphasize the close-knit nature of kin and friendship in one southern community.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Bobby Wesley Bush, Sr., June 19, 2000. Interview I-0086. 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

BOB BUSH:
Granny Underdown. Grandmother Underdown, something of that nature. We didn't call her anything with Emma in it.
KATHLEEN KEARNS:
She was your dad's first cousin?
BOB BUSH:
She was my father's first cousin, right. And that came about because-let's see-I guess my grandfather would have been her father's uncle or brother or cousin. I don't know. Anyway, they were first cousins is the way I always got the story. And by the time you trickle that down to Neil and I, it makes fifth cousins, which is getting pretty thin on the blood. But at the same time, everybody from up that way feel like we're kin to each other, because it's all just one family that really blossomed out and spread out.
KATHLEEN KEARNS:
It sounds anyway like you and Neil pretty much grew up together.
BOB BUSH:
Well we did, we did. We played together a lot. And Neil went off to military school. Neil was a year older than I am, so he went off to military school, and that whole year that he was gone, man, I was dragging. And so I talked my father into letting me go the following year, not to the same school. I went to a different school. So Neil had three more years in military school and I had four. Neil went four years and I did also. Then Neil went to Davidson. When I got out, I went to Duke. And we both went to a summer session at Carolina, and Parks called us back to take over one of the plants that was in trouble. And so we came on back in and worked, but we got in one summer session down at Carolina. So we can say we've seen the best and the worst, as far as I'm concerned.