Documenting the American South Logo
oral histories of the American South
Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Zeno Ponder, March 22, 1974. Interview A-0326. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Ponder's wife influences him but respects his decisions

Ponder's wife, Nina Lou, followed his decision on where to live and what type of work to do after he left the military. She did try to interest him in her father's furniture business, but willingly followed him onto a farm.

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

After the war was over I was offered a continued job, but I simply just wanted to get back to Madison county. I wanted to get back to the country I loved, to the people I loved. And be my own boss, take my own chances, do my own gambling. So I came back to Madison county.
BILL FINGER:
One thing I'm interested in at this point, going back to Madison county . . . well, several things. Your wife had been very independent for that time. She'd gotten a chemistry major in a field that is often male dominated. And she had worked, even taken over your job at one place. Was there any question, as there is now with lots of men and women who are both, have experienced professional situations, of the wife would go with her man. Did you talk about that at the time. She knew you loved Madison county, so that's where she wanted to go, too.
ZENO PONDER:
Well, really, I guess at the time, unquestionably, we were both very much in love with each other. And I think I get your question. Nina Lou didn't hesitate to respect my judgment to work with me and go with me. Now she has influenced me, and she's tried to influence me along some lines which I just wouldn't accept. She thought I would have made an excellent salesman and she wanted me to get in to the furniture business. Her father had been a furniture man. Her grandfather—Rustin Furniture company. They had done real well in the furniture business. I told her, yes, I guess I could sell. You know. But I'm just not interested in selling. I like to produce. I like to farm. I like to see things grow. I like to gamble on the weather. I like to gamble on whether a calf will be born alive or dead. I don't want to sell a piece of furniture.
BILL FINGER:
And she respected that?
ZENO PONDER:
She respected my judgment. Said "Okay, we'll farm." So we put together what we had, which was not a great deal. But we had bought war bonds all during the war, both she and I. And she had a little money coming in from her father's estate, who had been dead many years at that time—20 years. And I had some money coming in at this point from my father and mother's land. So we pooled it, and went in debt right heavy and started farming.