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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Ethelene McCabe Allen, May 21, 2006. Interview C-0316. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Dynamics of parents' marriage and disciplining children

Allen briefly discusses family dynamics from her childhood, focusing on the nature of her parents' arguments and the ways in which they disciplined the children in the family.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Ethelene McCabe Allen, May 21, 2006. Interview C-0316. 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

BARBARA C. ALLEN:
Can you describe his character to me? Can you tell me what he was like, generally? ETHELENE McCABE ALLEN: It's hard to describe, I guess. I never really thought about it that much.
BARBARA C. ALLEN:
Did he get angry? ETHELENE McCABE ALLEN: Sometimes he got angry! Sometimes he would – sometimes he would lose patience with Mama. He might sling a cook pot out in the yard. [Laughter] I remember one occasion when he did that.
BARBARA C. ALLEN:
Why did he sling a cook pot out in the yard? ETHELENE McCABE ALLEN: I don't recall what it was all about. But they were arguing. Mama could be critical of things, if they weren't like she thought they ought to be. Some people would even call it nagging. She could do some things like nagging somebody and that's the way he took it, maybe. Sometimes he'd get angry. But mostly he was fairly calm and relaxed.
BARBARA C. ALLEN:
Did he ever get angry with you or the other children? ETHELENE McCABE ALLEN: Occasionally. More so at Cecil than anybody else, cause Cecil would try anybody. He was something. He got whippings, he got whippings bad enough I felt sorry for him sometimes, even though I knew he deserved them.
BARBARA C. ALLEN:
What was used when whipping children? ETHELENE McCABE ALLEN: He had a razor strap.
BARBARA C. ALLEN:
Oh my. ETHELENE McCABE ALLEN: Where he sharpened his razor blade when he shaved, that old timey razor blade. They didn't have the safety razors and they had a razor strap - a piece of leather like thing. Or sometimes his belt, if he was out somewhere and didn't have the razor strap, he could use the belt on him. Sometimes at the house I recall him using a belt.
BARBARA C. ALLEN:
On Cecil. ETHELENE McCABE ALLEN: But now he never beat him with a buckle. He never beat him with things like sticks and buckles and things like that.
BARBARA C. ALLEN:
He never used a peach tree switch or something like that. ETHELENE McCABE ALLEN: I don't believe he did. He would use a strap more than he did something like that. Now he did a time or two use plow lines – a rope, when that was the most convenient thing to use when he became angry or impatient with him. When he told him something to do and he didn't do it.
BARBARA C. ALLEN:
But he never struck you? ETHELENE McCABE ALLEN: Oh yes, there were a couple of times I recall when he did, me and Maverene when we were little. We didn't move as fast as he wanted us to and he had yelled at us and we didn't respond as quickly as we should have. He put a plow line on us one time. He lost patience with us and was angry. It hurt, but we were pretty good little kids. We didn't disobey that much. We were afraid of those whippings. We saw Cecil get them. We didn't want any like that.