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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Bonnie E. Cone, January 7, 1986. Interview C-0048. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Regulating female teachers' social activities

Cone talks about her first job teaching in the small community of Lakeview, South Carolina. Single women, like Cone, faced strict regulations as teachers at this school. Although she notes that she and the other female teachers had fun getting together for various activities, there were rules against socializing that involved dancing, card playing, and "night riding" with men. Cone did not stay at this job very long, but during the time she was there several of her friends were fired for breaking these rules.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Bonnie E. Cone, January 7, 1986. Interview C-0048. 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

LYNN HAESSLY:
How did you get your first teaching job?
BONNIE E. CONE:
My! I know where it was, and I know all the regulations about it. I don't remember whether it was through Coker that they found me or. . . . It was a little village, Lakeview, South Carolina, in Dillon County, and it was one of three high schools in the county. There was Lakeview, Dillon, and . I know that I can still remember what my contract letter said. It said they would pay me sixty dollars a month for eight months, with a college degree. And it would be in South Carolina script which said South Carolina owes you sixty dollars, and if you needed to have money sometimes, you had to get your script discounted. You didn't get quite sixty dollars out of it. But you had to pay for your room and your board so much of mine was discounted. I never kept any to maturity, I can assure you that.
LYNN HAESSLY:
These would have been state bonds, these scripts?
BONNIE E. CONE:
It was a state obligation bond, I'm sure. But that contract letter, which I still have, says that it was understood that teachers in this school system would do no night riding, no card playing, and no dancing. Well, they did not rule out crocheting, or making quilts, or activities of that type, and some of the teachers-with some of the people in the community-we just got together and we had a good time doing those types of activities. When I see the spreads on my beds now, I say, "Well, no card playing, no night riding, no dancing." But then they required us to live in-not the first year, but the second year-they required us to live in the hotel which had been built for the tobacco market. The tobacco market had failed.
LYNN HAESSLY:
Was this the teacherage?
BONNIE E. CONE:
It was not called a teacherage. It was the hotel in Lakeview. We were required to live there and every weekend, it seemed to us, the people of the community would bring in a live band, and they would have dances downstairs in our parlors. I didn't dare venture forth because I had to have a job. I had to teach. But you could hear the shuffling of the feet. You could hear the happy atmosphere that was there, but you couldn't participate.
LYNN HAESSLY:
Was it a string band? What kind of band was it?
BONNIE E. CONE:
Well, it must have been, you know, just a little country band, is, I'm sure whatit was, which sounded good. But that arrangement, too, failed because there was a fire. I remember we had gone to a movie and when we came back we found that the hotel was on fire and burned to the ground. So then we had to go back and live in homes of families in the community. This doctor and his wife, Dr. and Mrs. Elvington, took several of us into their home, and we lived there. I think it was from there that I went to my next job.
LYNN HAESSLY:
Did you lose all your possessions?
BONNIE E. CONE:
Oh, I lost my possessions. I can still see my little steamer trunk, you know, with some of the precious books inside, and my new spring outfit under the bed because there wasn't room enough in the closet to hang it up. You know, everything went that you had. Some of the college books that you had and notebooks that you treasured. You just had to start anew.
LYNN HAESSLY:
You moved and worked in several different little South Carolina towns in the '30s. Why did you move around to the different towns?
BONNIE E. CONE:
Well, I'll tell you. I left Lakeview. You know, I told you we had certain strict regulations. I had friends who lost jobs because, whether they had done some of those things or not, people were made to believe they had, and they'd lose a job because somebody had seen them out night riding.
LYNN HAESSLY:
What is night riding?
BONNIE E. CONE:
That meant you took a ride down to the-you might have been riding just talking to some people because you didn't have very much place, no living room area, in which to have a date, you know. What would you do? You might get in a car and take a ride to Dillon and have a Coca-Cola over there or something like that. It may be very harmless, and I suspect it was. I don't think it was really a very harmful situation, but the mind of man can make some things evil that aren't evil.