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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Serena Henderson Parker, April 13, 1995. Interview Q-0073. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Having a good time in a rural community

Parker remembers her schoolhouse in Fairport, North Carolina. The school did not have electricity; instead, students used "lamplights." She remembers other aspects of her community's social life, including "box parties," when students and parents wrapped gifts to be bid on to add to the school's coffers, and school plays.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Serena Henderson Parker, April 13, 1995. Interview Q-0073. 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

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?
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?
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.