Title: Oral History Interview with J. D. Thomas and Lela Rigsby Thomas, November 14, 2000. Interview K-0507.
Interviewer: Amberg, Rob
Interviewee: Thomas, Lela Rigsby
Abstract: J. D. Thomas and his wife, Lela Rigsby Thomas, grew up on Sprinkle Creek in upper Madison County, North Carolina, and made their lifelong home not far from where they spent their childhoods. In this interview, they discuss the many changes that have come to Madison County since the early 1900s, remembering unpaved roads and reading by oil lamp, iceboxes and wooden sidewalks. Farmers, laborers, and textile workers formed a closely-knit community that bonded over decorating graves at their cemetery, or building barns together. But growth and immigration, speeded by road improvements and new highways that cut through Madison County, have changed the Thomases' community. They share their perspectives on these changes in this interview: Lela reveals a strong emotional connection to the area and frustration over the extent of its change and the number of new arrivals, although she is optimistic for the future. J. D., a self-described "old-timer," is resigned to his area's transformation and happy for the opportunity he hopes it brings to young people. This interview offers a portrait of change in people and in the natural environment, and a look at how one community has weathered the pressures of modernization.