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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Edith Mitchell Dabbs, October 4, 1975. Interview G-0022. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Description of "field day" celebrations in a small southern community

Dabbs briefly recalls the "field day" celebrations she went to with her family while she was a young child, growing up in Landrum, South Carolina. In particular, Dabbs describes how her mother used to always win the prize for making the best homemade butter and how she used to participate in the jump roping competitions for children. As such, her comments are revealing of public leisure activities in small southern communities during the early twentieth century.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Edith Mitchell Dabbs, October 4, 1975. Interview G-0022. 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

One thing I remember about that stretch up at Landrum was the field day that we used to have. Did you ever hear about field days?
Well, they are kind of like minature county fairs. They are a town fair or a community fair, the kind of thing that they have down at Penn.
With all kinds of games?
Games, yes. Contests.
Yes. Mama used to always get a prize for her best butter and a certain lady would get the best pound cake and somebody else would get the best blackberry pie, that kind of thing. But Mama always took home the prize for the best butter and I remember that once she got a silver butter knife for a prize and a little dish that you sort of patted it out in, that made pats of butter. One of the things that I used to compete for in the field day at home was a jumproping contest. We always had that for the little girls and boys, the girls really went to town on that one. And they had a greasy pole to climb, they had a greasy pig for the men or boys or whoever to catch. I remember that the little boys could usually outdo the men on that one, they were I suppose more agile, the men were … they could squirm around and I remember jumping rope one time until the contest was won and I kept on jumping because I felt like I was just beginning to fly. I had the feeling that I was sailing through the air. I had such a good time. My father made me stop and said that there wasn't any need to keep on. The idea was to see how many times you could jump before you stopped and I guess that he never had paid enough attention to our playing, he kept up with our work, but he had not noticed enough to realize that I wasn't hurting myself at all. I'm sure that I wasn't really tied at all. I felt so light and free. So, he made me stop and said that there was no point in keeping on because I had won.