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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Sidney Leneer Pete Underdown, June 18, 2000. Interview I-0091. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Admiration of grandmother's fortitude in the face of harsh circumstances and age

Pete Underdown admires his grandmother for her strength, hospitality, and sharp mind. She endured harsh winters in an old house with no ceiling without losing hope.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Sidney Leneer Pete Underdown, June 18, 2000. Interview I-0091. 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

Just I guess you'd call it the south side of the crossing was Grandfather Underdown and Grandma Underdown's first home-they never had but two.
KATHLEEN KEARNS:
Was he born there? You said it was his father's property?
PETE UNDERDOWN:
No, he wasn't born in that particular house. That house he bought from somebody. It was an old house, but the house that they were living in when I was born they built. The one that they couldn't get the materials to finish it before winter. They moved in before it was completed. The ceiling hadn't been run or anything, and the mill broke down and they didn't get the ceiling on time. Then the roads all froze over. The mill was down in the hollow somewhere there, and the horses couldn't pull the loaded wagon out of there on account of the ice. The ice was so deep on the road, and they didn't get up there until the next spring. Grandmother always told where she'd sleep at night, then she'd get up and brush the snow off her bed. [laughs.] And I can see her doing it. If you really want to know the greatest one of all, Emma was the greatest one of all. She was the greatest person I've ever known. She was. She was a hard worker until the day she died. About a week or so before she died, I hauled her a load of wood, put it in her woodshed, and she still went behind the pad shop and loaded her arms up with wood and carried it across the road and cooked on a wood stove. And she had a table loaded with food all the time till the day she went to the hospital to die. And she knew she was going to die when she told me and my wife that she'd never go back home. She knew she was going to die. And she was still in good health as far as I was concerned, but she died of what the doctor called senility. That's what everybody died from back in those days. Senility meant old age to the doctor. But she was sharp as a tack till the day she died.
KATHLEEN KEARNS:
How old was she when she died?
PETE UNDERDOWN:
Let's see. She was about eighty-two, eighty-three years old when she died. She outlived Grandfather by quite a little bit.