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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 >>

Support from young families in the community

Though she had support from the families around her, Lane discovered toward the end of her career that she had broken ground for many younger women. Very few other women of her generation, however, had made choices similar to hers.

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

MARY TURNER LANE:
I always lived where there were little girls next door. That was one of the ways I overcame the guilt of not being home in the afternoon. I always lived where I had wonderful friends next door who were the parents of these little girls. And these women really created an extended—well, the women and the men, the couples in all of these houses—became our extended families. Mary Ellen was as free to go to their homes in the afternoons as their children were to come to my home any time I was there. So that was really how I managed. If I had not had good friends who were full time wives and mothers, I couldn't have done it. They were the key, in addition to my own family who were always supportive, who could always step in. Mary Ellen could go to them, or they could come to me. But it was those couples. It was those non-working women that made it possible for me to study, to go to school, to work full-time.
PAMELA DEAN:
Were there any other women that you knew at this time who were in a position similar to yours?
MARY TURNER LANE:
No. That's another facet that has been very difficult. There were no women; it's strange. I did not know any young widows. I did not know any widows who were my age who were single parents or who were working. I was very much alone in that sense.
PAMELA DEAN:
That must have been very difficult.
MARY TURNER LANE:
I didn't realize how difficult until I began to think about retiring. As I was working through with a counselor, we picked up on this. She said, "This is strange." You've never had a woman in exactly your position, even when I retired. I wasn't working that out with other women who were retiring at that time. Because the women I knew at the university are fifteen to twenty years younger than I. They're not ready for retirement. So there's so few women, and there certainly were none in New Bern when I went back as a widow. There were none in Chapel Hill when I was working this out. So it was a strange set of circumstances.
PAMELA DEAN:
I would think that there would have been other women, war widows.
MARY TURNER LANE:
Yes, that's interesting. So many of them, even my friend whose husband was killed at Pearl Harbor, married again.