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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Ruth Vick, 1973. Interview B-0057. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Whites resist interracial gatherings in the segregated South

Vick recalls some unpleasant experiences in the segregated South in this excerpt. In one instance, a man threatened the white family whose home Vick was visiting for dinner. Another time, Vick was prevented from attending the funeral of a friend's husband.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Ruth Vick, 1973. Interview B-0057. 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

Emory Bayh and his wife were visiting Atlanta, their son, with a young baby, so she invited us out to her house for dinner, Mrs. Tilley did. Liz was black—that was George Mitchell's secretary that I had found for him—and I was black; we were the only two black people there. So Liz picked me up that afternoon, and the fellow that I was dating then, because I was divorced from my first husband at that time. The fellow that I was dating was here from Chicago, so she told me to bring him out, so I took him out. We drove out there and parked the car and went in and we had a nice dinner. And Mr. Tilley was so sweet; he was helping with everything. And just as we had finished eating the telephone rang, and Mr. Tilley answered the phone. And he called Mrs. Tilley to the phone, and she answered the phone. Well, pretty soon Katharine Stone went there, and I could hear them talking but I didn't know what they were talking about. I said, "I'd better go back there and find out what's happening." So I went back there and I asked. I said, "Katharine, let me help you with the dishes." She said, "Oh, no, you don't need to help me with the dishes." I said, "Well, what is all the talking then?" I said, "Was it the telephone call? Was somebody threatening Mrs. Tilley? Is something happening?" And she said, "Somebody made a crank call and said that they had better get those so-and-so-and-so-and-so's away from there, or they would do this, that, and the other." Well, I went to Mrs. Tilley and Mr. Tilley and said, "Mrs. Tilley," I said, "We don't want anything to happen." I said, "We've have a nice dinner, and we've chatted a while," I said, "and before it gets late, I think we should go on home." I said, "Now, we have done exactly what we come to do. We had a lovely dinner; we talked." And I said, "We can leave before anything gets too bad, that something might happen." She said, "I'm really not afraid that anything is going to happen, but I certainly am sick over this." I said, "Well, don't be sick. We know that there are sick people anywhere." She said, "My neighbors would not do this." But she found out exactly who did it. Some man who was visiting somebody across the street. So Emory Bayh decided that he would walk to the car with us, just to see if anybody made any move. Well, what had happened was, the man who was visiting had backed his car right up on the front bumper of our car, so we could not pull out, and we couldn't back up nor pull out. So we got out there, and Emory saw this car in like this, and he said, "Somebody did this on purpose," and we said, "Yes, it's true. This must have been the guy that called." So we stood there and we looked around. Well, this guy was still sitting on the porch with the people he was visiting, across from Mrs. Tilley. So when he saw Emory with us, he walked over, and he said, "Am I blocking you?" And Emory said, "Well, I think they can't quite get out. Is this your car?" He said, "Yes." And Emory said, "Well, it would help if you would move your car so that they can get out, so they can leave." So he actually got in his car and drove on off; he didn't go back to the people across the street. She found out who it was later, because the people across the street told her who it was. And then when her husband died, she insisted that I come to the house and go to the funeral because she said, "He thought so much of you, and this is what he would have wanted." Well, I tried not to go because I didn't like funerals, but I went over to the house. She made me ride in the car with her and her son. And we went to Patterson's and stood there; we were there an hour before the funeral. Well, Patterson would not let me walk in and sit with the family …
JACQUELYN HALL:
Who was he?
RUTH VICK:
… as she wanted me to do. Patterson Funeral Home. No, they couldn't do that.
BOB HALL:
What year is that?
RUTH VICK:
That was in '61.
JACQUELYN HALL:
That's just unbelievable.
RUTH VICK:
And Mrs. Tilley said, "If anybody had told me this, I never would have believed it." He would not let me go in with her and sit where she wanted me to sit. He made me wait until they were all seated, the family, and then I could go and sit in the back. That's what he did. But, you know, I acted real, real white that day [laughter] , as the people say. I didn't say one word.
JACQUELYN HALL:
[Laughter]
RUTH VICK:
I didn't exchange anything with him or any words with him, anything. When he said we couldn't do that, I didn't say one word.
BOB HALL:
JACQUELYN HALL:
[Laughter]
RUTH VICK:
But you know, Mrs. Tilley talked about that, she talked about that, and she talked about it, because it really hurt her. It really did. It hurt her.