Life in a southern community during the Great Depression
Here, Morris describes what it was like to live in Wilson, North Carolina, and go to school during the Great Depression. According to Morris, most people in the community had to stretch finances in order to make ends meet; nevertheless her family and most of the people she knew were able to make do, even if it meant going without some of the luxuries to which they were typically accustomed.
Citing this Excerpt
Oral History Interview with Naomi Elizabeth Morris, November 11 and 16, 1982, and March 29, 1983. Interview B-0050. 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
- PAT DEVINE:
Let's talk a little bit about when you were in school. You graduated from high school in 1939, I believe. That put you going through high school during the Depression. What about that?
- JUDGE NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Well, you know, I've talked about it with some of my friends since then. We didn't realize that we were in a poor financial situation, because everybody was in the same boat. I remember when we were children, we lived on the corner. The yard was very large, and all the children in the neighborhood would come down and play on our yard after dinner. Daddy would always give us money to go get ice cream. There was an ice cream parlor up the street, at which you could get a lot of ice cream for a nickel. He would always give us a quarter to go get ice cream, and that was a sufficient amount for all of us. One night I went to him to get the quarter to go get the ice cream, and he said, "How about a nickel, Sis?" I said, "Well, why?" He said, "Well, there's a Depression on," so I immediately learned that "Depression" meant when you asked for a quarter, you got a nickel, if you were lucky. But we were all in the same boat; everybody was in the same boat. A friend was telling me the other day that she remembered when they had lost their house, and they had gone to live with her grandparents in another section of town. She had gone to bed,
and she said she remembered hearing her parents downstairs talking about if they could just get enough money to pay the milk bill. Her father had lost his job. So she went and got her little savings, which I think she said was sixteen dollars, and took it downstairs and gave it to them to pay the milk bill. But we all worked, and we got along fairly well. We didn't have to have a stereo; we didn't have to have an automobile when we were sixteen; we didn't have to have a television.