Title: Oral History Interview with Ethelene McCabe Allen, May 21, 2006. Interview C-0314.
Interviewer: Allen, Barbara C.
Interviewee: Allen, Ethelene McCabe
Abstract: Ethelene McCabe Allen was born in 1934 to tenant farmers and spent most of her childhood moving around Wayne County and Johnson County, North Carolina. This interview is the first in a thirteen-part series of interviews conducted by her daughter, Barbara C. Allen. Allen opens the interview with a very brief discussion of moving around during her childhood as her father looked for the best tenant farming opportunities. She then turns to her family history, beginning with descriptions of her maternal grandparents as her own mother later recollected them to her. Allen explains how her grandmother died when her mother was only three years old. Raised by her father and stepmother, Allen's mother eventually had to leave school when her father died from tuberculosis and she lived intermittently with extended family until she married. Allen's father faced a similar upbringing, spending most of his adolescence working for and living with his uncle, who eventually ran off with the life insurance money his brother had left for his children. Allen speaks at length about her family's relationship with her paternal grandmother and with both her maternal and paternal aunts. In so doing, Allen offers researchers a window for viewing extended family networks and various dynamics—including class-related tensions—that characterized those networks. The interview concludes with a discussion of Allen's neighbor, Miss Mantha Smith, who was an especially influential figure in her childhood, instilling within Allen a profound religious faith that she carried into her adult years.