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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Mary Turner Lane, September 9 and 16, 1986; May 21, 1987; October 1 and 28, 1987. Interview L-0039. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Young women at Salem College struggled to figure out who they would be once they graduated

Though Lane loved her time at Salem, she also felt pressure to figure out who she was going to be as an adult. In addition to their intellectual pursuits, one of the ways the young women tried to work through those questions, she remembers, was to date.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Mary Turner Lane, September 9 and 16, 1986; May 21, 1987; October 1 and 28, 1987. Interview L-0039. 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

I'm describing it that way without really talking about those times when I know that I was lonely and afraid and in pain and experiencing all of those times that we experience when we're first separated from home and when we're trying to find our way. This was also a time, as I'm afraid it still is today, that women still had to be validated by the male. And that is simply a rite of passage. So no matter how happy or how good I felt about classes and about friends at the college, it still was very important that you have a date on a weekend. That you come to Carolina at least in the fall and the spring for games or for dances or something of this kind. That was just essential.
PAMELA DEAN:
And who did you date, people, boys in town?
MARY TURNER LANE:
By my senior year I had gotten to know a number of young men in town. I dated a number of young men in town. My roommate at that time was dating a man in town and became engaged her senior year. So somehow we had shifted from the boys at Carolina—remember Wake Forest wasn't there then. Davidson was there. We mostly dated boys at Carolina, or they would come to Salem.
PAMELA DEAN:
Would these be boys you had known from high school?
MARY TURNER LANE:
Yes. Yes.
PAMELA DEAN:
Brothers of your college friends?
MARY TURNER LANE:
Or they might be friends of friends. The blind date worked then as it has always worked, I suppose. So they were mostly boys that we knew in some context. So, yes, Salem was happy but I was still struggling to be or to become or to know that I was somebody. And I felt that I had a sense of identity there. I think that that's the beauty of a small college. You can find something in which you can be successful. In fact, you can find lots of things in which you can be successful. And maybe that was why I didn't want to leave it. The outside world might not offer as much.
PAMELA DEAN:
Different challenges. But you did.