In this early section of the interview, Gore introduces a topic he will return to repeatedly: the important influence his Tennessee roots had on his later political career. In the process of painting an idyllic picture of his childhood, he also describes his early educational experiences and the motivation they provided for his continued pursuit of learning.
Citing this Excerpt
Oral History Interview with Albert Gore, March 13, 1976. Interview A-0321-1. 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
- ALBERT GORE:
It has been a long while since I first viewed this earth, not very far
from the hill country where we are now. It was, was and is, a rural
community. I was not born in the community where I was reared. At age
five, we moved some miles from Jackson County into Smith County; not
very far, but some few miles. The community in which I was reared from
age five until going away to college was called Possum
Hollow-for want of a better name should I say!
For want of a more proper and elevating title. It enjoyed a
one-room school. I recall my first joy of
accomplishment. There may have been others, but the first one I recall
is the teacher had some nice things to say about me on a Friday
afternoon ending the first week. I had learned my ABC's.
So that touched a chord of pride, and joy of achievement. Later
on in life, that same chord was touched from time to time. In this rural
community, school and religion, and the physical
surroundings-I mean by physical surroundings outdoors,
animals, rabbits, 'coon hunting, fishing-were the key points
of my life, other than, of course, my family. Almost all social life
centered around church, church and Sunday school-centered
around religion. The joys of Saturday and Sunday in the woods was
magnificent. The boys would meet and we'd climb trees and chase each
other through the treetops. That is, we'd climb a tree and swing almost
like squirrels from one tree to another. But now and then there's some
But never any broken bones.
Well, this . . . this may have instilled some individuality, may have
been the springboard from which each climb upward whetted one's ambition
and appetite. There was but one way to go from Possum
Hollow-that was up and out!
or out! You couldn't get out except by going up, and once you
got out, you were still pretty far down the pole, so everything was up
and with each ascension of life's ladder, that same pride of achievement
that was touched in the compliments of the teacher by learning my ABC's
in five days stood me in good stead. At least, it was ethyl in my