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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 >>

Parker's mother runs the household

Parker remembers her mother's cooking. She remembers fried chicken and gravy, cabbage and ham, pudding and pie. In addition to preparing the family's food, Parker's mother performed a number of other chores around the house, always on time. As she remembers her mother, and prompted by the interviewer, Parker shares her regret at the decline of community togetherness.

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

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?
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 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.