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Title: Oral History Interview with Serena Henderson Parker, April 13, 1995. Interview Q-0073. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Electronic Edition.
Author: Parker, Serena Henderson, interviewee
Interview conducted by McCoy, Eddie
Funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this interview.
Text encoded by Jennifer Joyner
Sound recordings digitized by Aaron Smithers Southern Folklife Collection
First edition, 2007
Size of electronic edition: 160 Kb
Publisher: The University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
2007.
© This work is the property of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It may be used freely by individuals for research, teaching and personal use as long as this statement of availability is included in the text.
The electronic edition is a part of the UNC-Chapel Hill digital library, Documenting the American South.
Languages used in the text: English
Revision history:
2007-00-00, Celine Noel, Wanda Gunther, and Kristin Martin revised TEIHeader and created catalog record for the electronic edition.
2007-11-27, Jennifer Joyner finished TEI-conformant encoding and final proofing.
Source(s):
Title of recording: Oral History Interview with Serena Henderson Parker, April 13, 1995. Interview Q-0073. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series Q. African American Life and Culture. Southern Oral History Program Collection (Q-0073)
Author: Eddie McCoy
Title of transcript: Oral History Interview with Serena Henderson Parker, April 13, 1995. Interview Q-0073. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series Q. African American Life and Culture. Southern Oral History Program Collection (Q-0073)
Author: Serena Henderson Parker
Description: 85.7 Mb
Description: 40 p.
Note: Interview conducted on April 13, 1995, by Eddie McCoy; recorded in Unknown.
Note: Transcribed by Sally Council.
Note: Forms part of: Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Series Q. African American Life and Culture, Manuscripts Department, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Note: Original transcript on deposit at the Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Editorial practices
An audio file with the interview complements this electronic edition.
The text has been entered using double-keying and verified against the original.
The text has been encoded using the recommendations for Level 4 of the TEI in Libraries Guidelines.
Original grammar and spelling have been preserved.
All quotation marks, em dashes and ampersand have been transcribed as entity references.
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Interview with Serena Henderson Parker, April 13, 1995.
Interview Q-0073. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Parker, Serena Henderson, interviewee


Interview Participants

    SERENA HENDERSON PARKER, interviewee
    EDDIE McCOY, interviewer

[TAPE 1, SIDE A]


Page 1
[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]
EDDIE McCOY:
I'm James Eddie McCoy. The time is ten after two. I'm going to be visiting with Mrs. Serena Parker and we're going to be talking about when she was growing up in the Huntsville area. First of all, I want you to give me your full name and today's date and your address.
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Serena Henderson Parker. And who was—?
EDDIE McCOY:
Your address.
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
[text deleted] King Street. This street?
EDDIE McCOY:
Uh-hum.
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
[text deleted] King Street, Oxford.
EDDIE McCOY:
And what's your maiden name?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Henderson. H-E-N-D-E-R-S-O-N.
EDDIE McCOY:
OK. What church did you and your family come up—grow up in?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Huntsville Baptist Church.
EDDIE McCOY:
Your mother and father?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Uh-hum.
EDDIE McCOY:
Which one was church workers, the deacon or worked in clubs and organizations?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
My mother.
EDDIE McCOY:
Your mother? What did she work in?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Oh, missionary—everything you could—missionary, the choir—.

Page 2
EDDIE McCOY:
She was a supporter of anything that came up in the church? You could count on her?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Yeah, uh-huh. Yeah.
EDDIE McCOY:
What did your father do? Just supported things that was called upon?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Yeah.
EDDIE McCOY:
What about your sisters and brothers? How much did y'all have to do in the church?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Just like we do here. They—my sisters, one of them was a Sunday School teacher and the Junior [tape skips] Missionaries and that's all I can think of. Because, see, we moved our membership down here later on.
EDDIE McCOY:
OK. What about your brother?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
He just—he was in the choir [before he was here].
EDDIE McCOY:
Was he—what—was he the last, the baby or what?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
No, he's next to the oldest child.
EDDIE McCOY:
OK. And how many sisters?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Three sisters.
EDDIE McCOY:
How many boys? One?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
One, uh-huh. And I make the fourth girl.
EDDIE McCOY:
OK. Did anybody go to the Huntsville school that was there in Huntsville?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
No. Now, you're asking me something that—I don't think so. I know— [tape skips] . No, uh-uh. No, they didn't go to Huntsville school up there at Huntsville.

Page 3
EDDIE McCOY:
They didn't?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
No.
EDDIE McCOY:
Where did they go to school at?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Fairport.
EDDIE McCOY:
OK. Whereabout in Fairport did y'all live?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Let me see. It was not far from [unknown].
EDDIE McCOY:
OK. All of y'all went to—y'all moved from Huntsville to Fairport?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Uh-hum, yeah.
EDDIE McCOY:
Did you remember it? Were you old enough to remember it?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
No, because I wasn't in school when we moved, moved to Fairport school. I was a little baby. Because Huntsville is the old homeplace.
EDDIE McCOY:
Uh-huh. And so, Fairport is where your parents moved to?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Yeah.
EDDIE McCOY:
Were your mother and father farmers, or what?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Farmers.
EDDIE McCOY:
Was he a sharecropper, or what?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
For awhile, and then he bought a farm himself.
EDDIE McCOY:
Whereabout? Down in Fairport?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Uh-hum.
EDDIE McCOY:
OK. How many rooms was Fairport school? That's where you first went—?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Two.

Page 4
EDDIE McCOY:
It was a two-room—?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Uh-hum.
EDDIE McCOY:
OK. Who were the teachers when you got there?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
[Pearl Fitz] and Dottie [Gooch]. [I wish she was here.]
EDDIE McCOY:
OK. Now—.
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
You know Miss Dottie?
EDDIE McCOY:
Uh-huh. All right, now. Did your sisters and brother, all of them went to school at Fairport?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Fairport. Yeah.
EDDIE McCOY:
How far did Fairport go? To the sixth grade?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Seventh.
EDDIE McCOY:
Seventh grade. Everybody went to the seventh grade, all of your sisters and brother?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Uh-hum.
EDDIE McCOY:
OK, where did your older—your sisters go after they finished Fairport? Which ones went on further in school?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
The oldest girl, Maggie, she went to Mary Potter. Sister went to Franklinton.
EDDIE McCOY:
Tell me about Franklinton. Why did she go there? What kind of school was it?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Well, she just liked that better. And it—now, Mary Potter was a boarding school and if you lived close enough, you could walk. But we lived too far distance. So she went to Franklinton with—you know Shirley, Papa's [unknown]?

Page 5
EDDIE McCOY:
Uh-huh.
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
They were cousins. And her mama and my mama and Daddy and all of them sent their children to Franklinton because they could room there with Mrs. Riley so much cheaper than they could in Oxford.
EDDIE McCOY:
What was the name of the Franklinton school?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
I think it was—.
EDDIE McCOY:
Franklinton Academy, or—?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Or Franklinton Institute. I—all I know is Franklinton High School.
EDDIE McCOY:
OK. So, one went there or two of them went to Franklinton?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Two of them went to—. One went Mary Potter and [Sister and [unknown]] the others went to Franklinton. And my brother started Mary Potter and he didn't finish.
EDDIE McCOY:
OK. So, you went to Mary Potter?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
No, I didn't ever go to Mary Potter. I went to Greensboro, Dudley High School in Greensboro.
EDDIE McCOY:
OK. So, after you got to the seventh grade, you went with your aunt or cousin or—?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
My sister, Lottie, the one was here yesterday. I went to her. She came and got me because we didn't have no buses that traveled the country roads. And if I stayed there until the buses went, I'd be way behind.
EDDIE McCOY:
Uh-huh. How far do you go in school in Greensboro?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Went for the four years. I finished high school there.
EDDIE McCOY:
OK. Who else of your sisters and brothers finished high school?

Page 6
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Maggie and—it was two.
EDDIE McCOY:
OK. How many of y'all went to college?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Sister and myself.
EDDIE McCOY:
Name Sister, you know, what's her—?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Lottie.
EDDIE McCOY:
OK. How far did Lottie go?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
I think she went to about the second year in college before she got married. And she went to Virginia State.
EDDIE McCOY:
[tape skips] [then] after she left Greensboro, that's where she went? After she got married?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
No, when she got married, she lived in—I mean, she was going to school at Virginia State. And then after she got married, she went to Greensboro.
EDDIE McCOY:
OK. Now, we're going to talk about before—we're going back to talking about the church. Was that a community church or everybody grew up together and knew everybody?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Uh-hum.
EDDIE McCOY:
OK. Did you have aunts and cousins down there?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Oh, yes. What you mean, at Huntsville?
EDDIE McCOY:
At both places.
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
At Huntsville because that's the homeplace.
EDDIE McCOY:
OK. Tell me something about Huntsville. Almost everybody in Huntsville was kin to each other?

Page 7
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Uh-hum.
EDDIE McCOY:
What did y'all do on Sundays? What did you play or where did you go?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Go to church and whatever was to be done in the community in the afternoon, go to that. Because most times, it was maybe like the young people having something at church or something like that.
EDDIE McCOY:
Uh-huh. All the children in the church, mostly parents, you know, kind of made sure they was pretty squared away in the community?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Yeah.
EDDIE McCOY:
And they had to go by rules when they were visiting?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Uh-hum.
EDDIE McCOY:
How was your brother? Was he—stay in a little trouble sometimes?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Never. Uh-uh.
EDDIE McCOY:
Huh?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
No sir. He wasn't ever in any trouble.
EDDIE McCOY:
A boy—and he a boy! And he never got—?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
In no kind of trouble.
EDDIE McCOY:
That was good.
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Uh-hum.
EDDIE McCOY:
So, what about Huntsville? How big was it? Was it dirt road or paved when you—?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Oh, it was dirt road, a dirt road. And—you haven't ever been to Huntsville?
EDDIE McCOY:
Yeah, I've been there, but—.

Page 8
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Well, it was a dirt road. And they would just get out and come on to church sometimes and walk or rode on a buggy or whatever. It was just a country church.
EDDIE McCOY:
I forgot to ask you. You have to tell me what year you was born and your age.
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Oh, 1923.
EDDIE McCOY:
1923?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Uh-hum.
EDDIE McCOY:
OK. What did y'all do in Huntsville? Y'all farm there? Or with your cousins or what?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
No, he was farming, but it was such a small farm, he—. That's why he went to Fairport where he could get, you know, more land. Because Mr. Amos was his dear friend and Mr. Joe [Brinn], [Doris Davis's] daddy, encouraged him to come down there.
EDDIE McCOY:
[tape skips] OK, so when he left Fairport, I mean Huntsville, y'all went down there because he could get—he had an opportunity to buy some land and he could have more acreage.
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Yeah, uh-hum.
EDDIE McCOY:
OK. Now, tell me who—.
Well, how old were you when you was living in Huntsville?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Oh, Good Lord! I was just an arm baby.
EDDIE McCOY:
Huh?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Just an arm baby.
EDDIE McCOY:
You was an arm baby when you left there?

Page 9
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Uh-hum. Because I know when they started Fairport, I wasn't school age until one or two years after that. I went with them to Fairport school. I wasn't going to school [long] as they were going. I think I was about five years old, then.
EDDIE McCOY:
Did you have any lights in the school?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
No! Uh-uh. Used to have—they had lamplights. If they had anything at night, they'd have a lamp where they could see just as bright as day.
EDDIE McCOY:
They could?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Uh-hum.
EDDIE McCOY:
What kind of plays did y'all—? Did y'all put a little stage up and—?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Yes, all kind of plays. Had school closing and would have box parties. Have you ever been to a box party?
EDDIE McCOY:
Uh-uh. Tell me what a box party is.
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
You get a box and you maybe put some fruit and candy and cigarettes or whatever in those boxes and you tie them up and put a bow on them. And somebody bid them off to, you know, everybody. All the parents would bring boxes and some of the students, too. And they would put those boxes on the table and they would bid those off like two dollars, three dollars and all like that. And they'd know most of the time whose boxes they were buying and they would pay for the boxes and get them. And after that, then they collected the money. I guess they put the money in the treasury over there.
EDDIE McCOY:
Yeah, that's where they was fund-raising for the school?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Uh-huh, yeah. Yeah, and they made some money, too.
EDDIE McCOY:
Y'all enjoyed yourself, didn't you?

Page 10
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Yeah, had the best time.
EDDIE McCOY:
I heard they put the—moved the chairs back and y'all put up a little stage and have y'all's—.
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Have school closing every year, the First Christmas plays and Easter plays and—.
EDDIE McCOY:
That's what they say.
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
All that kind of stuff and—.
EDDIE McCOY:
The same as we have here at school.
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Uh-huh, and church dinners. And put it on a long table outside and everybody—all the parents would bring dinner. And everybody would serve and they'd have a—just have a good time.
EDDIE McCOY:
That was during graduation, you'd have—or on Easter, you'd have dinner?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Uh-uh. Just any time of the year they wanted to.
EDDIE McCOY:
Because everybody was family and close?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Yeah, uh-huh.
EDDIE McCOY:
That was nice.
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
It sure was nice. Sure was nice, and they just had a good time.
EDDIE McCOY:
What about stories? Did anybody—teachers tell you about Rip Van Winkle or anybody?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Oh, yes. All them things, uh-hum.
EDDIE McCOY:
Huh?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Yeah, we did. We had the same thing you all had. Of course, it was told to us more freely and more understanding.

Page 11
EDDIE McCOY:
Uh-huh.
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
And they just took time.
EDDIE McCOY:
Uh-huh.
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
And we had to read all them books like Huckleberry Finn and all that. We did all that kind of stuff.
EDDIE McCOY:
When you was in school?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
At Fairport, yeah.
EDDIE McCOY:
Where did you get your books from?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
I don't know where they got them. We didn't have no new books like the white folks. Charles [Gregory] told me, said, "Well, they didn't give us no new books until a long time after that." I think we was—I think I was teaching when they was still giving these old books. You know, the white people's used—.
EDDIE McCOY:
Uh-huh. I had them.
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Uh-huh, yeah. And then they'd send them down to the blacks. And Mr. [Gregory] used to go up there and tell them, "I don't want this old dirty, nasty book. I want some clean books." And so, we haven't been so long, you know, [got to where] I could get the clean—get new books.
EDDIE McCOY:
Yeah, it was about the '70s.
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Uh-huh. I reckon so. We still had those old books.
EDDIE McCOY:
What year you started teaching?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
'46.
EDDIE McCOY:
You started in 1946 teaching?

Page 12
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Uh-hum.
EDDIE McCOY:
What school?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Creedmoor High School. It was Creedmoor High School then, G. C. Hawley High School.
EDDIE McCOY:
It was G. C. Hawley High School?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Uh-hum.
EDDIE McCOY:
Was your school going to the eleventh grade or twelfth grade when you went there?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
I went to the twelfth grade. Now, it wasn't named G. C. Hawley when I first went there.
EDDIE McCOY:
What was it named?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
It was named Creedmoor High School.
EDDIE McCOY:
Creedmoor Colored?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Uh-uh. Creedmoor High School. That's what they named it. Because, see, it wasn't integrated.
EDDIE McCOY:
Creedmoor High School?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Uh-hum. I think that's what it was named. And then, after that, they put Mr. Hawley's name [on that school].
EDDIE McCOY:
What grade did you teach?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
I taught—see, I'm grammar, and I taught from the fourth to the eighth, grammar. And then I went back and took primary and I taught from the second to the—I don't think I went any farther than the fourth then. [tape skips] got in the third and that's where I stayed there until I finished.

Page 13
EDDIE McCOY:
OK. Now, what about you with poems and stuff? Did you have time for—did you have poems and stuff like that for your kids?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
[For them] to learn from?
EDDIE McCOY:
Uh-huh.
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Yeah, occasionally.
EDDIE McCOY:
Uh-hum. What about Bible stories or reading the Bible or Bible verses?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Now, I did that. I don't know what the others did, but I had some books in there where you could read them stories at the rest period after lunch. And they just enjoyed them. And sometimes the principal would come in there and sit in, and he would enjoy them, too.
EDDIE McCOY:
What principal?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Mr. Hawley and Mr. [Letterbury]. Mr. [Letterbury], he used to really enjoy it.
EDDIE McCOY:
Uh-huh. You had Story Hour?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Yeah, uh-huh. All the elementary, all the primary are supposed to have Story Hour. From the first to the third grades, all of them are supposed to have Story Hour during their rest period. Because, see, they get about thirty minutes, or not that long, about twenty minutes rest period after lunch. And you could let them just rest and sleep if they wanted to or else they were always wanting to read a story. And that's what we would do.
EDDIE McCOY:
Where did you get those story books from?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
[Nick] bought them for [Arnetta] when she was a little baby. [Jermaine] came by here selling something and he had those Bible books. You don't even see them

Page 14
in the doctor's office. And she [said], "I want this book [unknown]." And she was printing her name then. She wasn't even writing. Until she bought them for her. And they really did pay off.
EDDIE McCOY:
And you took your daughter's books and carried them in school for other kids?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Yeah, uh-huh.
EDDIE McCOY:
That was very nice. You shared them with somebody that needed them.
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Uh-hum. And they talk about—they meet me now, they tell me about how they used to enjoy those stories and say, "All those stories we read, Mrs. Parker, it's just like things are happening now." Because the stories are taken from the Bible.
EDDIE McCOY:
Uh-huh.
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Uh-hum. And then it always a, you know, there's a moral end of the story. You know, to tell you about if you do so-and-so, what will happen to you for being disobedient or what-not. But that's just one example.
EDDIE McCOY:
Uh-huh.
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
And so, that's what I did.
EDDIE McCOY:
How many kids was in your school, just estimating, when you was going to Fairport? How many children?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Lord have mercy! Ain't no way in the world I could tell you about that.
EDDIE McCOY:
Was it about twenty-five or thirty?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Yeah.
EDDIE McCOY:
And each room—was the room divided down in Fairport, or—?

Page 15
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Just like this room right here and that room right there. And there was a sliding door between the two, separating them.
EDDIE McCOY:
And so, school was [filled up]? You had enough—not had enough—?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Yes, we had—I'm sure we did. You know, I can't remember. We was [going] but that wasn't so much stamped in my mind. But they had grades from the first through the seventh. I know that.
EDDIE McCOY:
How far did you have to walk to go to school?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
About a mile and a half.
EDDIE McCOY:
You walked about a mile and a half?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Yeah.
EDDIE McCOY:
Did you know any children that walked farther than that?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Oh, Lord yes! Elizabeth—what was her name? Anyway, they used to walk—no, I can't tell you where they were because you wouldn't know, but they had a long ways to walk. They didn't care a bit more about a long distance or nothing. And most times, Mama would take us on the buggy.
EDDIE McCOY:
And you don't know the kids' names that walked that far?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Elizabeth—I can't think—.
EDDIE McCOY:
Did she have other brothers and sisters that walked?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Yes, she had several brothers and sisters. They were pretty girls. And they would walk—you mean, to walk into Fairport?
EDDIE McCOY:
Uh-huh.
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Uh-huh, they had a long ways to walk. And a lot of other—like, Shirley, Papa's first cousin, and Marvin and all of them, they had a long ways to walk to school.

Page 16
EDDIE McCOY:
About three miles?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Uh-hum, or more. Because they lived in back of the old Ilong Church. They would go home that way. And it was a long way.
EDDIE McCOY:
Where was the old Ilong Church at?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Where the cemetery is.
EDDIE McCOY:
It was down there?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Uh-hum. See, that burned down.
EDDIE McCOY:
Did you ever go to William Hill's Church, or William Hill School?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Uh-uh.
EDDIE McCOY:
You ever heard of it?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Uh-hum.
EDDIE McCOY:
You've heard of the church, too? Did you ever see the church?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
No. Where was this church? Down below Fairport?
EDDIE McCOY:
Uh-huh.
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
William Hill, William Hill.
EDDIE McCOY:
On Mr. [Bennett]'s farm.
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
[I don't know whether I remember being down there.]
EDDIE McCOY:
You don't remember going there?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Uh-uh.
EDDIE McCOY:
All right. Did kids come from Vance Country over into North Carolina to go to school because y'all was on the border?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Not that I know of.

Page 17
EDDIE McCOY:
What was the name of the school that was in Vance County close to Fairport School? Or was there one?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
I don't know. Because—let me see. No, I sure don't know. I can't answer that.
EDDIE McCOY:
OK. Tell me something about your teachers that you had when you was in Fairport. Did they have a lesson plan or did they—?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
No, they didn't have no lesson plan, just—after they integrated and the black children [unknown] had to do lesson plans. White people [weren't] doing any lesson plans. Didn't know a thing about it until one day Janie was getting off to go somewhere and she said, "I'm going to leave my lesson plan so they can get to it."
And the principal wanted to know what she was talking about and she told him. And when she showed them and talked to [him about them], she said, "Everybody gets—."
He said, "No, they don't. They haven't never done anything like that." So that's how they got to find out about lesson plans in the school.
EDDIE McCOY:
You're talking about Janie Ingram?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Yeah.
EDDIE McCOY:
What—do you remember the schools that Janie Ingram taught at?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Uh-uh. Nowhere but Grissom—I think she was over at Grissom before she integrated with us. She taught in Georgia one year, I believe. Didn't she tell you she taught in Georgia one year before she came to our town?

Page 18
EDDIE McCOY:
I heard—just Grissom School. She could have, but that's all I've heard about getting around, was just Grissom School. Where did you finish? Fayetteville State?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Yeah.
EDDIE McCOY:
And then you came to Hawley?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Uh-huh.
EDDIE McCOY:
Did you have family left up at Huntsville, going back and forth? Your grandparents or anybody?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Going back and forth where?
EDDIE McCOY:
To Huntsville, after you got up—.
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
They lived in Huntsville. All of them lived in Huntsville. All of Mama's sisters and her brothers and her daddy and mama and all them. My daddy's folks, too, and all. They all lived up there. And [unknown] they started to going up the road, you know, [getting another job] and all like that. That's what they did.
EDDIE McCOY:
OK. Let's start with your father's side. Could your father read and write?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Yes, he could.
EDDIE McCOY:
Did you ever see your grandparents on your father's side?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Uh-huh. His daddy.
EDDIE McCOY:
OK. Could his daddy read and write?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Yes, he could.
EDDIE McCOY:
Well, how did that come about?

Page 19
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
They went to school. Their parents made them go to school, on my daddy's side. And on my mother's side, they were more strict with sending their children to school than on my daddy's side.
EDDIE McCOY:
OK. Your father's—about how old was your father when he died?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
I think he was seventy-nine, seventy-nine or eighty-one.
EDDIE McCOY:
OK. Do you know what year? Just guessing?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
1951.
EDDIE McCOY:
OK, '51. And what about your grandmother?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
On his side?
EDDIE McCOY:
Uh-huh.
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
I didn't ever see her.
EDDIE McCOY:
You didn't ever see her?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
[She was dead.] Uh-huh.
EDDIE McCOY:
Did they tell you how old she—you didn't ever see her before she was dead?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Uh-uh.
EDDIE McCOY:
OK. Was your grandparents free blacks, or—?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Uh-huh.
EDDIE McCOY:
They was never slavery.
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Never slavery. Not even their parents because on my daddy's side, it wasn't no slaves on his side. And on my mother's side, they weren't ever put in slavery because they were real fair blacks, you know.
EDDIE McCOY:
Mulattos, or had white mother or father?

Page 20
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Yeah, uh-huh. They were real—they were white. And they didn't ever have to go through that. Just like [Nick]'s parents. They didn't ever have to go through that, either. As long as the parents was white, like the Robersons and all, they didn't bother them.
EDDIE McCOY:
I know.
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Uh-hum.
EDDIE McCOY:
Well, getting back to your father? What kind of father or granddaddy did—did he work all the time like a lot of people? Just piddled and stayed busy all the time?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
What? My granddaddy or my daddy?
EDDIE McCOY:
Your granddaddy on your daddy's side?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
No, he didn't do no work and all because he'd always be visiting one of the sons or visiting the next son and all that. But he didn't—he wasn't farming or nothing of that sort. Because after his wife died, he just stopped farming.
EDDIE McCOY:
And this was when you was going back and forth to visit them?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Yeah, uh-huh. He was visiting to us.
EDDIE McCOY:
How many days would it take to go from Huntsville?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
To where? Huntsville?
EDDIE McCOY:
Uh-huh, and back. From Huntsville to Fairport and from Fairport back to Huntsville.
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Oh, it wouldn't take long because Mama used to drive up there. Well, you know, people had—didn't have anything in the buggies. And she would drive up there and she would leave like on a—she'd always want to spend the weekend up there so she'd be there for Saturday—they had conference on Saturday—and then be there for

Page 21
Sunday. And she would leave home around, I reckon, ten o'clock every morning. She'd get there in time enough for the twelve o'clock service. And then, it didn't take us long. No time.
EDDIE McCOY:
It didn't.
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
No, it didn't take no longer than a long trip to get there, but if you hitch your horse up or your surrey or whatever you were driving or anything, [there was] time for them to get there.
EDDIE McCOY:
OK. How many sisters and brothers did your grandmother, your mother's mother, have? Did she ever tell you?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Yes. Mama's mama had sixteen children.
EDDIE McCOY:
Your mother?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
My mama's mother.
EDDIE McCOY:
Had sixteen?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Uh-hum.
EDDIE McCOY:
How many girls and how many boys?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Wait, let me see. Wait a minute. One, two, three, four, five, six [tape skips] . She had about nine or ten girls. There were nine girls, or something, and the rest of them were boys.
EDDIE McCOY:
There were nine girls and six boys? I just wanted to roughly know.
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Uh-hum.
EDDIE McCOY:
Oooo. Did they have children, all of them [laughter] ?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Yes, Lordy! [Just] plenty of them. A whole lot of children.

Page 22
EDDIE McCOY:
Nine boys and six girls. OK, what was their name, their maiden—what was your mother's—?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Maiden name?
EDDIE McCOY:
Uh-huh.
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Orbey.
EDDIE McCOY:
How do you spell it?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
O-R-B-E-Y.
EDDIE McCOY:
Where did they come from? What plantation or what farm do you think they came from?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
I don't know because when [I learned things], it was—all of them up there had bought all that land up there at Huntsville. And Mama's daddy, he bought land from where [Ray Smith]'s shop is, where [below Ray Smith]'s shop way on down to that man had those [unknown]. He was a [carpenter]. Mama said he'd buy an acre of land, like this week a dollar and a quarter, and kept on like that. Said he'd get enough land to leave all of his children a home and a little small farm.
EDDIE McCOY:
Your mother's—?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
My mama's daddy.
EDDIE McCOY:
Was a carpenter?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Uh-huh, carpenter. Carpenter. He'd build houses and barns and things.
EDDIE McCOY:
Was he good?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Was he good? He built Huntsville Church and Cornelia's mama's house.
EDDIE McCOY:
You're kidding? Your father—?

Page 23
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
My mama's daddy.
EDDIE McCOY:
Your mother's father did?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Your mama's daddy.
EDDIE McCOY:
Yeah, your mother's father.
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
My granddaddy.
EDDIE McCOY:
Your granddaddy built Mrs. Broadus's house?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Yeah. That's what they tell me. They built that house and built the Huntsville Church, too. Of course, they added on a little more to Huntsville Church.
EDDIE McCOY:
Uh-huh. And he was a—what was his last name?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Mark Orbey.
EDDIE McCOY:
M-A-R-K?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Uh-huh.
EDDIE McCOY:
How do you spell that Orbey?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
O-R-B-E-Y.
EDDIE McCOY:
And so he was a carpenter for up there—he did most of the construction and—?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
He just carpentered anywhere he could get a job, just like these contractors here, you know. Where he could get a job.
EDDIE McCOY:
And he would—every time he'd get paid, he would buy a acre—?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Buy a little acre of land. And I think she said that they were selling an acre then for a dollar and a quarter.
EDDIE McCOY:
Uh-hum, yeah.

Page 24
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
And he would buy an acre and he'd say, "I want to get some so when I die, my children will have somewhere to live." And they did. All of them built a house on the land he gave them, and they got enough in the back for a little farm, you know.
EDDIE McCOY:
About how many acres did he buy? About a hundred and fifty acres in [that tract]?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
I don't know. You couldn't—you don't know the distance I said from Ray Smith's down below here, because down below Ray's house was Mama's sister, Ida, and there was another child below her house. And, of course, Ray bought the place right next to Mama.
EDDIE McCOY:
I know where you're talking about.
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Uh-huh.
EDDIE McCOY:
Y'all went all the way down that road going to—?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
All the way down that road and then on by—.
EDDIE McCOY:
Going to the church.
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
And on by Huntsville Church on up there to—the man used to sell cows on that highway. That's how much he bought.
EDDIE McCOY:
Oooee. You had over a hundred—y'all had about two or three hundred acres of land.
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Oh, Lord. What he had when he [died]. All sixteen of those children got a home.
EDDIE McCOY:
Sixteen of them! Your grandfather was a good provider for your mother, wasn't he?

Page 25
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Yes, Lord. Uh-hum. For his wife, which is my mama's mama. And he just knew how to do things like that. And he'd have a fit if he'd come home and find those children hadn't been to school. You know, maybe one child. "What this child doing here?" He didn't—.
EDDIE McCOY:
He didn't play that, did he?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
No, they had to get out of there and go to school. I told Mama, I said, "Well, that was just the blood in him that he had, the [unknown]."
EDDIE McCOY:
Yeah.
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
[You were not going to] stay there. They had to get out of there and go to school.
EDDIE McCOY:
Did he have any Indian in him, or was he [unknown]?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
No, her mother had Indian in her. Did you ever see my mama?
EDDIE McCOY:
Uh-uh.
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
She had features—she had those high cheekbones and that long nose. She was Indian. She had Indian blood in her because her mother had Indian in her. But her daddy was a white—he was just white. He used to serve on the board of something—whatever it is—uptown, you know, when they have court and all that. But he couldn't help it. During that time, children were just born the way [the way they catch you].
EDDIE McCOY:
You don't know his name?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
My granddaddy?
EDDIE McCOY:
Uh-huh.
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Mark. Mark Orpey. That's what my—.

Page 26
EDDIE McCOY:
I'm talking about on your mother's side, your mother's—.
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
My mama's daddy?
EDDIE McCOY:
Uh-huh.
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
That's who I'm talking about, Mark Orpey.
EDDIE McCOY:
Well, who was her father? Your grandmother's—?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Who was my mama's granddaddy?
EDDIE McCOY:
Uh-huh. What was his name?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Lord, have mercy. What did she tell—I don't know, but let me see, now. Who did she tell me her grandmother? I believe her grandmama was named Fanny. I just don't know [tape skips] because she said [tape skips] going to sell me. Something or other, don't let them sell me. Said she used to [say], "They ain't going to sell my nigger." And that was her grandmother. But I don't [recollect] what she said her name was. But [they didn't bother her.]
EDDIE McCOY:
They were going to sell her where?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
You know where they sell slaveries during that time. And see, they would sell the [unknown] women—marry little girls and marry—they'd let them marry so they could bring up a family so they could work for them. And so her little grandmama was twelve years old and said they said, "You know, she hasn't had a baby yet so she got to go. She got to go. They going to sell her."
And so she told the little white girl what she was waiting on. Said, "[unknown], don't let them sell me."
She said, "They ain't going to sell my nigger because I love you. You ain't going to sell my nigger." And that's how she escaped from not being a slave.

Page 27
EDDIE McCOY:
[Your] mother?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Her mother, my mother's grandmother. Uh-hum. That's how she escaped from not being a slave.
EDDIE McCOY:
Because she was the man's daughter? That was her father?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
The little girl what said she didn't want them to sell her. That was my mama's grandmother.
EDDIE McCOY:
OK.
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Uh-huh. And they were going to sell her because she hadn't had a child.
EDDIE McCOY:
Uh-huh.
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
See, they would make little children marry at ten years old.
EDDIE McCOY:
[Guess they were] getting as many children as they can.
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Yeah, and just let them have babies like I don't know what. And [the little things] didn't know nothing about it. And they went through something. And see they were going—they made her marry. But I reckon she was too old to conceive then. And then after that, she started having children.
Them old devils! I reckon they're burning in [Corinth] today for being so mean to black folks.
EDDIE McCOY:
Did Mr. Orbey work in the church at Huntsville?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Oh, yes. Uh-hum.
EDDIE McCOY:
Did—I want you to tell me about two people that came up in your neighborhood, probably your relatives. First, Mr. Kittrell. Tell me—.
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Yes, that's my mama's sister's husband.

Page 28
EDDIE McCOY:
OK, tell me something about him. I've heard a lot about Mr. Kittrell up there.
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
He just was a big old farmer and had a house. He had—Aunt [unknown] had—I see, I counted fourteen—she had fourteen children. And every one of them—[of course, they started]—.
EDDIE McCOY:
Fourteen children?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Uh-hum.
EDDIE McCOY:
Oooee. Fourteen.
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
They had up some children. Mama had ten, but there's not but five living now.
EDDIE McCOY:
Tell me, what kind of work did he do other than farm? Did he help build barns or did he—?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Uh-uh. He just farmed. Now, Uncle Matt worked on the power lines. He farmed and did that, too.
EDDIE McCOY:
Mr. Matt?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Uh-hum.
EDDIE McCOY:
He used to cut a lot of wood for people, didn't he?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
I don't know.
EDDIE McCOY:
Mr. Matt got around, though.
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Uh-hum.
EDDIE McCOY:
I mean, he did a lot of work in the area.
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Yeah. He was a—he farmed and then he also worked on that power line thing—.

Page 29
EDDIE McCOY:
Yeah, he told me. And he cleared land for power lines.
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Yeah.
EDDIE McCOY:
And he did carpenter work, too. He was a jack of all trades. He did a lot of work. Now, Huntsville. You don't remember nothing about that school up there? No more than going back and forth as you visited your family?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
I don't know nothing about that school up here.
EDDIE McCOY:
Did your mother ever—who moved their membership to Fairport to Ilong? Because your mother went back and forth. She never moved her membership?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Yes, she—no, she didn't ever move her membership. But the rest of us moved our membership. My brother didn't move his membership—didn't nobody move their membership but my sister and myself. That's all.
EDDIE McCOY:
Your father didn't move his?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Uh-uh. The rest of them stayed on up there.
EDDIE McCOY:
OK. And so, how was—how did you enjoy Ilong? Was everything—you fitted right in?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Uh-hum. Just a good old country church. And everybody was just as [welcoming] as they could be.
EDDIE McCOY:
What about when you went to school? What kind of bathroom facilities did y'all have? Outdoors or none or what?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Outdoors. I reckon—I think Mr. Amos built the outdoor toilets. He'd build them and, you know, put the boys in one, put the girls—in the outdoors.
EDDIE McCOY:
Where did y'all get your water from?

Page 30
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Up across the road there at that church, Peace's Chapel—what's the name of that church?
EDDIE McCOY:
That white church?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Yeah.
EDDIE McCOY:
How did you get the water? They had a well over there they let y'all—?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
A well over there and the children would go over there and bring the water across the street to school.
EDDIE McCOY:
And they would let you do it?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Uh-hum.
EDDIE McCOY:
So, what else did the community—did they have farmers and people that was carpenters down in the Fairport area that did the same thing as your family did up at Huntsville?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Yeah, that's all they could do.
EDDIE McCOY:
Huh?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
That's all they could do is farm.
EDDIE McCOY:
What about—did most people down in that—most people down in Fairport owned their own land, the blacks down there, didn't they?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Uh-hum.
EDDIE McCOY:
You didn't have no white slavery or nothing down that way?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
It was slavery when someone lived down there, like Nick's granddaddy and the Robersons and the Brandons and the Peaces. All of them were in the [slavetime], but they weren't no slaves because they didn't use them as that because of their color.

Page 31
EDDIE McCOY:
Mr. Nick's—your husband's family, grew up down there? [Near Robert Amos] down in [Fairport]?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Yeah, they grew up down there somewhere, yeah.
EDDIE McCOY:
But they never was slaves? They always were free?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Yeah, and all the Robersons were free and all the Brandons were free and all the Peaces and all those down there.
EDDIE McCOY:
OK. So, if you're looking for slavery down there, you'd probably go back to the 1700s?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
I reckon you would.
EDDIE McCOY:
Yeah, uh-huh. What was some of the things that the teachers—did you hear about teachers before you got there? Some new teachers when you went to school that was there when got there and then they left and some more came in?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
I reckon so, but I—I know [Pearl Fitz and Louise Bibby], she was my first teacher and then after that, I went on the Mrs. [Ragland] [unknown] and then Mrs. Mollie Peace, she came and taught there. And let's see who else was—.
EDDIE McCOY:
[tape skips] Stella Hawley [unknown]?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Stella Hawley [unknown]. They lived in the Antioch area. But she'd come to school every morning. She taught down there at Fairport.
EDDIE McCOY:
What'd she come on, buggy or wagon or what?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
No, Old Mr.—Old Man Peace had an old T-model Ford. And he'd bring her and his wife, Miss Mollie.
EDDIE McCOY:
Mrs. Mollie Peace?

Page 32
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Yeah.
EDDIE McCOY:
She taught down there, too?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Yeah, uh-huh. And Stella would ride with them.
EDDIE McCOY:
Do you have an idea how long that school was there after—what year they stopped using it? Was it somewhere around '52?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
No, I don't think it was there in '52.
EDDIE McCOY:
Huh?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
It wasn't there is '52. It's standing there now but it wasn't in any use.
EDDIE McCOY:
Uh-huh. Why—I can't find anything on Reverend Hawley like a thesis or a book or something that was written on Reverend Hawley. We can find stuff—I can find a lot on all the high schools except Reverend Hawley.
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Bernice and Stella could tell you something about him, or Mrs. Hawley.
EDDIE McCOY:
But I can't find no papers or no research or nothing, you know. No more than, you know, Hawley School. But what I'm talking about—he just never had it done, or whatever happened, you know.
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Well, now, he got his thesis over here at North Carolina Central University. You could go up there and look in the stacks and you could find his thesis if you—maybe you might could get something out of that.
EDDIE McCOY:
He do?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Uh-hum. You have to get permission to go because don't nobody go up to the stacks unless they have a master's or are working on it one. And you could tell them what you're after. They would—.

Page 33
EDDIE McCOY:
Pull it?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Uh-hum.
EDDIE McCOY:
Oh, OK. How long did you live in Fairport? You was married down there?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Uh-uh. Let me see. Yes, I was. Stayed down there until I got married. But I was in school. I was in school then. I had started at Fayetteville.
EDDIE McCOY:
You was going to Fayetteville State when you got married?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Uh-hum.
EDDIE McCOY:
And Mr. Nick was farming with his parents?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Uh-huh—uh-uh. His brother, Nathaniel, [unknown]'s daddy. They were farming together.
EDDIE McCOY:
Well, how did Mr. Nick's brother, Willard, learn carpenter and contractor work? Through help working with his father or he just learned it on his own?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Just gifted. Just gifted. He and [unknown] like [Linwood] Parker and all of them— all them Parkers, Lorenzo and all them. They didn't have no training for no carpentry. They were just gifted. Just gifted.
EDDIE McCOY:
Don't you think a lot of blacks had gifts and—?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Yeah!
EDDIE McCOY:
You know, white people go around and take credit that they taught blacks how to carpenter, build barns and stuff like you say. And you and I know Mr. Nick Parker and his brothers is just as good—Willard and them are just as good a carpenters as any professional. That's what they are.
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Uh-hum. And Samuel Robinson took it after—he got it after his daddy. His daddy just used to go and build little old things and put up a little chicken house or

Page 34
whatever. But little things like that til he got like that. And Sam would go with him and hold things for him and all, and that's how he gots what he got. They didn't go to Hampton, you know, and take up a little special [unknown]. They're just gifted, that's all.
EDDIE McCOY:
I know. A lot of people are like that and people take credit for their work, or say they did this for them and say they did that for them. I know they didn't do it for them. Because blacks had to dig their own wells.
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Uh-hum. Yeah, they did. They did, and put them rocks—laid them rocks up, you know, to line it, you know. Shucks, they did all this. And they dug wells with their hands.
EDDIE McCOY:
Yeah, shovels, picks.
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Uh-hum. And how in the world did they get down to digging a well, I don't know. Lord, there's so many things they did, I don't know how in the world they got by to save my life!
EDDIE McCOY:
It was tough, won't it?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Yes, it was tough, but it wasn't tough for them. They just thought it was all right.
EDDIE McCOY:
They did?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Yeah, they did. They didn't think they—just like digging all the wells and cutting ditches. My daddy and Robert Amos—[unknown] all them boys did all their work—. But—and Joe [Brennan, Doris's] daddy—they had the biggest farm and they had the biggest farmers in Granville County. And I mean, I was thinking the other day, how—I said, "How could my daddy know how to do that?"

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You know, like some people let the land just wash away with the rain. He'd know how to get out there and put that mule up—and he'd call them furrows. And he'd run a furrow so when that water would hit that and go on and never get into the field. And where some of them—everything in the field would be washed away.
And just all those things. How you put up fences for the cows and [clean the branches out for them to get]—well, I couldn't name the things that he did. And we would—[Lettie was] talking about we used to eat at corn shuckings—until you'd get pure sick. Mama and Mrs. [Hattie Hawley] and Doris's mama and all would come and help Mama cook for corn shuckings and we'd just eat after that and all that stuff.
And I said, "Now, he knew it was time to shuck that corn." And he'd bring it up to the crib and put it all around that crib. And the people in the community would come, get there early in the morning, and shuck that corn. Sit there and shuck corn with him and then they'd come to eat supper. Shuck all that—and when they'd get through, they'd throw it in the crib and that crib would be just about full of corn. Shucks, they wouldn't have sense enough now to even go to the field and pull it off the [stalk]. That's the truth.
EDDIE McCOY:
Everybody says it was some good days then, corn shuckings and stuff.
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
It was, it was. Uh-huh. It was good eating and everything in the world you wanted.
EDDIE McCOY:
Cutting wood for the barn and everybody—.
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
And my daddy could cut more wood—I think they call it—. I don't what they call it, but anyway, they laid it this way and all. And he could put up I don't know how many a day just [open airage].

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He was a smart man. He was a smart man and was a good worker. Everybody say he was one of the best farmers that they'd ever seen. And Nick's daddy was a big farmer, too, but he didn't use no sense with his. He'd take up forty acres—Daddy said he remembered once they had forty acres of tobacco. Now, you know, that's a—and said they had to pull tobacco on a Sunday. And Nick said his mama said, "If this happens again, it was going to stay in the field and rot." They had to to save it.
And, see, he was just trying to get—just hoggish after things. Just wasn't thinking about how much work it was going to take to do what they were doing. He just did it so he could—so people would say, "Lord, you know, Old Man Nick Parker planted forty acres of tobacco." Had forty acres of tobacco and I think Daddy said thirty acres of corn. I don't see—but he had a lot of boys and grandchildren and all. But they made it. They made it.
I'm sure—I'm glad I didn't come on at that time [when it was] hard work like that. I didn't ever do nothing over there. I—[unknown] used to say, "She doesn't feel well this morning. Don't let her go out there and hand leaves." I 'd make out like my stomach hurts me this morning, but [it ain't nothing in the world]. And then I'd go get in the bed and sleep all day [laughter] . [unknown] said, "Oh, shut up. You know you ain't never wanted to do nothing."
EDDIE McCOY:
You didn't want to be bothered with them tobacco worms, did you, crawling all around there?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
No, I didn't. I didn't ever do anything.
EDDIE McCOY:
Well, at least you tell the truth.

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SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Uh-huh. I was the baby—.
EDDIE McCOY:
So, your mother had to cook and wash and have food and prepare for y'all when it was dinnertime, didn't she?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Yes, Lord! She'd get up in the morning, had that breakfast. You know, she'd fry up—have a great big dish of fried chicken and gravy and all that for breakfast, now.
And then for dinner, she'd go to the garden and get her all those vegetables, come back and prepare them and put them on the stove. Cabbage and them big old long slices of ham and meat and all, and have about two desserts. She'd put two desserts for dinner, like a—she called it sugar pudding and a pie. And her puddings tasted just like they were raised from scratch.
And after she had that dinner on the dot and then she'd get that kitchen cleaned up and sometimes she'd come and help hand leaves or she'd be getting things ready for the next day. And come home at night for supper and supper was on the table. And everything was by the clock. And wash—she'd wash on a Monday and iron on a Tuesday. And put those things away and them clothes was just as white as soap. And she'd do all—I don't see how in the world she did it. And then she had two cows. Them cows had to be milked, the milk churned and the butter taken off. All that was done in the morning.
EDDIE McCOY:
She had a job, didn't she?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Yeah, she did, but she didn't think so.
EDDIE McCOY:
Did she sew by hand or did she sew by machine?

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SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
She had a machine.
EDDIE McCOY:
She did?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Uh-huh, but most times she'd patch things with her hands. But the machine—and my older sister, she sewed all the time. She sewed until she—she was a gifted sewer because she used to make dresses for children, commencement exercises and all. And see, she hadn't taken up any [tape skips] .
EDDIE McCOY:
Did your mother could make clothes out of the bags that the feed come in?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Yeah, she would make aprons and bonnets and what else would she make out of that? I know she'd make aprons because she'd make some and give them to some of her neighbors.
EDDIE McCOY:
Because they'd be different colors. She could take the colors and make them—put two or three together or make them different.
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
You'd make the prettiest aprons. Make them different. And she did, but we didn't buy so much of stuff like that. And she would—she could do anything. Lord, have mercy. Do anything come up. And now they don't know how to do nothing.
EDDIE McCOY:
Well, you're not family no more, you know. That's what happened.
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Uh-hum.
EDDIE McCOY:
We ain't family. Nobody goes to visit nobody or nothing.
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Uh-uh, and during the times like apples, when those apples come in, all the people in the community would meet that night. The apples, you know, big apples, they'd pare them. The apple peelings was Wednesday nights and the peach peeling would be Friday night, and they'd meet like that and [cook] all that—peel them apples, cut them up and the next day those apples were put in the jars and set on the shelf. Same

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thing with peaches and all that. Now they wouldn't help you peel one apple if they all rotted. Sure would, and they'd call it having apple peeling. Everybody come and bring a knife. [tape skips] … peeling. They'd laugh and have more fun in the afternoon. Mama would always have something to serve. [unknown].
EDDIE McCOY:
Were your father proud of y'all going to college and getting a degree?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Uh-huh. I just think he was proud just [unknown] than the families now. Because he had to work so hard.
EDDIE McCOY:
Whatever you did, he supported you?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Uh-hum.
EDDIE McCOY:
You always had support from the family?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Uh-hum.
EDDIE McCOY:
Yeah, that helped a whole lot.
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Yeah.
EDDIE McCOY:
It did, it really did.
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Sure did.
EDDIE McCOY:
All right, and he could take care of his own business. He didn't need nobody?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Uh-uh. No, he didn't have anybody show him how. He used to make feel me so ashamed. He'd say, "Now, I'm going to have some of that and some of that. And I'm going to [give Robert] [unknown] over there. Now, how many would that make to get [unknown] or whatever?" And we'd be sitting there figuring.

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He'd say, "Oh, shoot! Y'all just go ahead." He'd figure it out and have it through before we started." And he could figure in his head better than we could with a pencil. And he'd take a pencil and he could figure like I don't know what.
He could write and read and sit down and read that Bible out there in the sun with them glasses sitting on his nose. And Mama would read her Bible all the time. The Bible that I know, what I know about the Bible now is what my mama used to read stories to us. She'd call it—oh, Child's Bible Book. [unknown]. And she would take that book at night and we'd go and get around her. After we got through with supper, we'd get on the floor and get around her and she would read them stories. All those stories she'd read. Oh, we had a time [tape skips] . So I learned a whole lot about Bible stuff from her [tape skips] .
EDDIE McCOY:
Was it harder for teachers back then when you was going to school to get certified, or could they teach and—?
END OF INTERVIEW