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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Sam Parker, December 5, 2000. Interview K-0252. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Different values in urban and rural settings

Parker speaks about different measures of progress and accomplishment in an effort to explain his devotion to a somewhat ascetic, and certainly demanding, lifestyle. He sees his rural life as independent and prefers its calm to the franticness of urban life.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Sam Parker, December 5, 2000. Interview K-0252. 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

ROB AMBERG:We were talking about getting electricity, and you felt like for you and Paula, personally, that was the beginning of a change. And you talked like maybe not really being sure whether that was the right thing to do. But I'm curious about things that evolved, not just for you and your family but for the whole county. Things have really moved forward in a way. Forward, I guess, is really a question. But they've moved in a way that are so remarkably different than when we moved here back in the early 70s. SAM PARKER:No question about that. And of course, the value of that movement-certainly is not for me to say whether that's good or whether that's bad, or whatever it is. I don't know about that. You get into the philosophy of some of the people like who I've worked with, who say, "These people need some income. These people need jobs. These people need to blah blah blah." The whole progression of development. Certainly, the judgement, I think, has to rest on the fact of, "What do you want to trade." Do you want to trade your intelligence and your need for things? Do you want to trade that for bucolia? Do you want to trade that for a strange peace of mind that comes with being part of the earth, if you will? Do you want to trade that? Now, whether that's good or bad, I don't know. But the question is, "Do you want to do that?" And as it goes along it seems to me that, yes, they want to trade that. They want to move away from the hard physical labor, from the "I can do it" feeling, into an area that's more dependent on others. Whether that's good or bad, I don't know. I do know that I wouldn't trade my years for that. Now, it kind of brings around the thought that I somehow eventually did trade that. I did decide that, "Hey, I'm moving into something else, and therefore I need to change the way I'm living." Sure, I needed to do that. I'm not sure I did the right thing in that move. I could still be doing both, essentially, but it's difficult. When the divide comes-of moving from the independence to the dependence-it almost has to be a clean sweep, or else you bring that dependence into your independence, and it muddies it. I've tried it. You've got a place here that you have to be master of. All of it. Then to connect it with the threads of the independence is a difficult process, because you've almost got to change your psyche, change your clothes, change your whole works to move from one to the other. And to do that two or three times a day, or to do that weekly, it's disconcerting to say the least. ROB AMBERG:Well, it's very scattering. SAM PARKER:It is. It is, indeed. You lose all focus. You lose focus on both. It's almost what you're trying to get away from. ROB AMBERG:You're doing both of them kind of in a half-ass kind of way. Not doing either one very well. SAM PARKER:You get back into that frantic. It's frantic. The other is not frantic. It's calming. The life on the mountain is calming. Now, the frantic may be that the cow's out. Or the frantic may be that the pig's dead. But it's not that zigzag frantic that you get at a traffic stop, or it's not that lightning bolt kind of thing. It's more of a calm approach.