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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 >>

Family values, gender roles, and expectations for children's success

Allen discusses the types of values her parents espoused and the expectations they had for their children. In particular, Allen draws attention to contemporary gender ideals by explaining that her parents understood the accomplishment of marriage and family as success for their daughters.

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:
Did your parents bring you up to consider certain things important in life? ETHELENE McCABE ALLEN: Well, yeah, of course, we all had our goals, our ethics, and what was proper and important, and a good reputation was one of the - a major thing too. You didn't do things and say things to damage your reputation or any member of your family's reputation.
BARBARA C. ALLEN:
And how would you damage your reputation? ETHELENE McCABE ALLEN: I don't know.
BARBARA C. ALLEN:
You don't know. ETHELENE McCABE ALLEN: We didn't curse, we didn't smoke, we didn't drink, and even back then they didn't think going to dances was proper for people. Certain things were sinful and certain - . Still, I think there are some people today who think dancing and a lot of things are sinful.
BARBARA C. ALLEN:
Yet your dad danced. ETHELENE McCABE ALLEN: He didn't see any problem with it. He didn't see any problem with that.
BARBARA C. ALLEN:
What kind of person do you think they hoped you would grow up to be? ETHELENE McCABE ALLEN: I don't know.
BARBARA C. ALLEN:
They didn't talk to you - ETHELENE McCABE ALLEN: They – I think mama expected me to get married and have children, just like she did. That was success – to get married and have children and a family. She always wanted nice things, like a nice bedroom suite, a nice living room suite, pretty dishes, and she didn't have all those things when she was growing up, when she, well she didn't have anything much when she was growing up. They might have had it in her home before they split up and all. I don't know. I really don't know about that. She went places where they had nice things and she wanted nice things. She wanted us to be able to have nice things. But she valued nice things probably because she felt deprived and didn't have them.
BARBARA C. ALLEN:
Which one of them was stricter with you? [very long pause] ETHELENE McCABE ALLEN: I don't know, probably daddy, but both of them had their certain standards that you had to adhere to. You didn't violate them.
BARBARA C. ALLEN:
Did they hold anybody up as a positive example to you? ETHELENE McCABE ALLEN: Not that I recall.
BARBARA C. ALLEN:
How about a negative example? ETHELENE McCABE ALLEN: Well, they would – you would hear them discussing what some neighbor had done sometimes and it was a no-no thing. Something people shouldn't do, so you got the idea of what you shouldn't – what kind of behavior was not acceptable.