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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Mary Price Adamson, April 19, 1976. Interview G-0001. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

The importance of education and how Adamson's family made that possible

Adamson's parents valued education for their children and did everything to make it possible for them despite the number of children they had and the financial difficulties plaguing them.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Mary Price Adamson, April 19, 1976. Interview G-0001. 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

Had your father been sent to college? Did he attend a college?
Yes, he went to the University of North Carolina, but he was not able to stay-I believe it was two years that he was there-because my grandfather died. Whether it was a heart attack, I don't know what it was, but something rather suddenly. Grandma Minnie had a half a dozen children-I could stop to count to tell you how many. But anyhow, my father was the oldest one, so it was taken for granted that he had to come back and become the head of the family. So he was not able to stay at Chapel Hill longer than whatever time it was. I can't think that he finished out whatever term he was in. I suspect he must have been in his sophomore year when his father died, and that he had to come home and take charge of things. Then my mother had gone to Greensboro College. Hers was a strong Methodist family, and her two half-sisters had gone to college there. In the Civil War and because of the difficulties of things in the Civil War, they had only been able to stay two years. So that when my mother got at the age to go to college, my Grandfather Moore was more prosperous and could have sent her to college for the full time, but since her two half-sisters had only been there for two years, why, he did not think it appropriate for her to stay more than two years. She and my father, both having had this taste of college education,were obsessed by the idea that their children should have an education. And that was really the driving force in their lives. Everything was built around the childrens' going to school. Every effort was made not only for the children to go to school, but to go to the best school that could possibly be managed.
By the time you were born, several of your older brothers and sisters had already gone to school, right?
My brother, Tom, my oldest brother, was in the university at Chapel Hill. He was in the class of 1909, I think. That was the year that I was born. My sister, Ruth, went to Salem College. She was there at the time I was born. I remember her saying she was quite irate about coming home and finding another baby in the family. She would have to look after me, so she often laughed about it in a wonderfully good, human kind of way. She said the only way she could manage me was to yell at me, "Shut up!" (Laughter) She and Tom both reflected the fact that the family fortunes were better then. They got progressively worse as more and more children came along. They rather went to college on a different status than the younger ones did. They wore the proper kind of clothes and had some sort of social pretensions, you know, that sort of thing. Then when my next brother-we called him Tiny; his name was, oh, Valentine, sort of an abbreviation. His name was James Valentine; he was named for my father and some ancestor. I've forgotten where the Valentine name came from. But anyhow, my father didn't want him to be called the same thing that he was called, so he was called Valentine and had the family nickname of Tiny. When he got to the point of going to college, the times were tough and he really more or less worked his way through the university. He was a brilliant student. He not only did his regular undergraduate work but did the medical school. Then he went from the university medical school to Johns Hopkins University, and how in the world he managed to do that, I don't know, to do it and to have the highest grades, because there certainly was not a lot of help. There would have been some help from my parents, but there wasn't a lot of help.