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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Geraldine Ray, September 13, 1977. Interview R-0128. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Production and struggle on grandparents' farm

Ray describes the resources on her grandparents' farm and how she structured her time as a child. She notes how the lack of finances made life difficult. Without government assistance, sometimes they did not have adequate food.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Geraldine Ray, September 13, 1977. Interview R-0128. 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

GERALDINE RAY:
Well, going back to what you raised and what you had to buy to eat. You had your chicken, you had your corn, you had your hogs, you had your milk, so what you . . . and you had your garden and your raised everything that your could. And the main things that you bought from the store was like flour, not meal because you took your corn to the mill and they grinded it and you put it in a can and you take a big sack, maybe two and they grinded it and you put in a tin can and that would keep weevils and things out of it. So, you bought, you didn't have to buy your eggs, 'cause you had your eggs from your chickens, you had ducks, so you didn't have to anything about gettin duck eggs or anything. We had ducks. We had geese and we bought cereal sometimes, but back then you only had Corn Flakes and what was the other un daddy? (J. T., her husband, had just walked into the room) (It sounds like he says Cream of Wheat, but Geraldine answers Shredded Wheat) and grits . . . (J.T. corrects her Cream of Wheat) Cream of Wheat and Grits. And see you bought rice if you wanted any, you bought rice. Well, and see you made biscuits and you made cornbread, so you didn't buy bread at all. You didn't buy bread.
KELLY ELAINE NAVIES:
You guys were living pretty good.
GERALDINE RAY:
Yeah, but it was hard. It was hard. It was hard. That's the life on the farm.
KELLY ELAINE NAVIES:
You did a little bit of this. Can you describe for me a basic day? Say when you were twelve years old-from the beginning, waking up in the morning til you went to bed.
GERALDINE RAY:
You say twelve years old? (K must have nodded because she begins) Get up at five o'clock and be ready to go school by seven, be down to catch the bus by seven, be back home at five, time you got home you went and got your wood, got your night water. If the cows were down-certain times of years they'd move the cows to higher fields which was on the mountains, and if the cows weren't down where they was usually to be milked, you went on up on the mountain and got em and you brought em down and you milked em. We had two. And uh;then you have supper. You always, even when you had you ate breakfast, you ate lunch, you ate dinner. You always had three meals. It might not a' been what you wanted -and in the long run after she got down sick they would not help us in any way, because of her- because I'm there and she had this farm.
KELLY ELAINE NAVIES:
So, you mean the government?
GERALDINE RAY:
The government wouldn't help us. So, a lot of times we went to bed with milk and bread. Make a cake-corn bread and crumbled it in your milk and eat it and go to bedlong as you was full. You was . . . how, can I say it? You didn't think about it. I mean that's just somethin you done, at least you had a full stomach and you went on to bed and you done. You made your quilts.
KELLY ELAINE NAVIES:
So, you also knew how to quilt?
GERALDINE RAY:
I made my first quilt when I was in high school and I made my first big crochet piece when I was in high school.