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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Julia Virginia Jones, October 6, 1997. Interview J-0072. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Family legacy of rejecting conventional gender roles and supporting civic activism

This excerpt reveals Jones' rejection of traditional female roles, as well as her support of civic activism. Jones shares her humorous discovery that her grandmother had free will when she avoided baking cakes for the county fair. Her grandmother's example provided Jones a counterexample to working only inside the home. Jones also discusses how her grandparents' civic activism demonstrated to her the importance of community.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Julia Virginia Jones, October 6, 1997. Interview J-0072. 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

...She worked outside of the home. She worked as a sales clerk in the 30s which was very very unusual, and she worked for the Jewish family that had the clothing store. There were, to my memory, maybe two Jewish families in Shelby and one of them had a clothing store, and she worked for him. That was very unusual for her to have been working outside the home. She also was a registrar at the precinct for voting. Was very active in the community, and very active politically. I have always thought that I got some of my political interest from my grandmother, Florence, because she was always out in the community and I think what both she and her husband taught me was that community is important, and again, even though my grandfather got into trouble, he was also in the Rotary, the Jaycees, and did a lot of civic things. And my grandmother, as I say, worked outside the home; also worked as a registrar, and the other thing that they did that was a little bit unique was they always worked at the county fair. Shelby had the largest county fair in the United States. It was started by Dr. Dorton, the same person that the Dorton Arena is named for. He is a veterinarian who was from Shelby, and he started the North Carolina State Fair as well as our local fair and my grandmother always worked as a judge of the pies, cakes and jellies at the fair. At Christmas, we had a ritual. They always bought the prize winning country ham, and every Christmas eve we had the same menu. We had country ham, rice, green beans, pound cake and cheese biscuits. Now, another thing that I found out about my grandmother later on, was that she did not always make that pound cake. It was her recipe (Here comes the train by my house. We are going to have to stop until the train goes by.) Anyway, many years later I found out that Granny Florence didn't make those pound cakes. She paid somebody to make them for her, and somehow I liked her even better to think that I had this grandmother who could choose whether to be in the kitchen or not. Not that being in the kitchen is not great; I love to cook, but she could choose, and if she would rather be out working at the store, she would have somebody make the pound cake.