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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Zeno Ponder, March 22, 1974. Interview A-0326. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Memories of an impoverished childhood motivate Ponder later in life

Zeno Ponder remembers his childhood as happy and sheltered though his family was poor. Poverty motivated him to try to earn better things for himself and his community later in life.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Zeno Ponder, March 22, 1974. Interview A-0326. 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

ZENO PONDER:
Bill, I guess, talking about the roots of things that happened to me and where my roots are in Madison county and the mountains, I'd go back to my heritage, my family. I was one of thirteen children. As a matter of fact I was the thirteenth. My mother didn't give up easily, but when she saw me, that was it. We had one sister and twelve of us boys. We didn't know that we were living in poverty, so we were very happy. I guess there is a great deal of truth in ignorance truly being blissful. Because we just simply didn't know what the outside world was. When I grew up during the 20s over across the river west of Marshall, when school was out we worked all summer long. Not once did us children go to the big town of Marshall, just six miles away. We didn't have money to go to the show. Maybe a couple of times a year, special occasions. So I guess poverty really . . . sleeping at the foot of the bed, knowing what its like to eat beans twice a day and cornbread twice a day, to gather your own eggs from the hens' nest, and figure out whether there was enough to give one egg per child the next morning or two eggs per child. Those things motivate you to maybe not want to get cold when you get old. You want to have a little bit of something for security. And if you're built out of the right kind of stuff you want your neighbors to have some of the better things of life.