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Title: Oral History Interview with Harriette Arnow, April, 1976. Interview G-0006. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Electronic Edition.
Author: Arnow, Harriette, interviewee
Interview conducted by Conway, Mimi
Funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this interview.
Text encoded by Mike Millner
Sound recordings digitized by Aaron Smithers Southern Folklife Collection
First edition, 2006
Size of electronic edition: 360 Kb
Publisher: The University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
2006.
© This work is the property of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It may be used freely by individuals for research, teaching and personal use as long as this statement of availability is included in the text.
The electronic edition is a part of the UNC-Chapel Hill digital library, Documenting the American South.
Languages used in the text: English
Revision history:
2006-00-00, Celine Noel and Wanda Gunther revised TEIHeader and created catalog record for the electronic edition.
2006-05-05, Mike Millner finished TEI-conformant encoding and final proofing.
Source(s):
Title of sound recording: Oral History Interview with Harriette Arnow, April, 1976. Interview G-0006. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series G. Southern Women. Southern Oral History Program Collection (G-0006)
Author: Mimi Conway
Title of transcript: Oral History Interview with Harriette Arnow, April, 1976. Interview G-0006. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series G. Southern Women. Southern Oral History Program Collection (G-0006)
Author: Harriette Arnow
Description: 497 Mb
Description: 122 p.
Note: Interview conducted in April 1976, by Mimi Conway; recorded in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Note: Transcribed by Jean Houston.
Note: Forms part of: Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Series G. Southern Women, Manuscripts Department, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Note: Original transcript on deposit at the Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
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Interview with Harriette Arnow, April, 1976.
Interview G-0006. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Arnow, Harriette, interviewee


Interview Participants

    HARRIETTE ARNOW, interviewee
    MIMI CONWAY, interviewer

[TAPE 1, SIDE A]


Page 1
[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]
MIMI CONWAY:
I'm talking today with Harriette Arnow, who has published five novels1 and two social histories,2 a number of short stories,3 and also done some journalistic work.4 And we're in her home today in Ann Arbor, and I'm going to let her tell her own story. Could you tell me first where and when you were born?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
I was born in Wayne County, Kentucky. That's the most I can say. It was near Monticello, but the post office, I think it was Coopersville. The government has done away with all those small post offices, so that about all I can say is, I was born in Wayne County in 1908, the daughter of Elias Thomas Simpson and Millie Jane Denney.
MIMI CONWAY:
And could you give me the exact date of your birth?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
July 7, 1908.
MIMI CONWAY:
And can you tell me first a little bit about your mother's family and what her name was before she married and a little bit about her family and her history?
Wilton Eckley, Harriette Arnow, 1974, Twayne's United States Authors Series (chronology, selected bibliography, and summary of her life and writings).

Page 2
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Mama was Mollie Jane Denney. Her father died, leaving her mother—who was Harriette Foster, married James Braxton Denney—a widow with three small children when she was only in her mid-twenties. And my mother, Mollie Jane Denney, was almost five years old. My Grandmother Denney's people (the Fosters), by that date, had already gone to Missouri. As you know, many people migrated from the South long before we heard of the Southern Appalachian migrant. They usually went to Texas, Missouri, Illinois, and Oklahoma. They went there to farm; they didn't turn north to the industrial centers.
MIMI CONWAY:
What did your Grandfather Denney do?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
He had been a teacher. After his death, Grandma Denney's father-in-law, Jackson Denney (that's my mother's paternal grandfather), was most insistent that they come live with him. And my mother grew up more or less in his home. He was then an old man; he'd been born in 1817, and he knew many men who had been in the War of 1812, and a few of the very old. . . . Born thirty-six years after the close of the Revolution, he knew many Revolutionary soldiers.
MIMI CONWAY:
Was one or many of your ancestors also in the Revolutionary War? You talk about a Thomas Merritt, a beautiful description at the beginning of Seedtime.5
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Yes, Thomas Merritt was on my father's side. On that side I also had a White and a Shrrell who were in the Revolution. On Mama's side there was a Taylor and Anthony Gholson and a Dick who were in the Revolution. My father's Simpson ancestor was a Tory, so the story goes, but the others were in the Revolution.

Page 3
MIMI CONWAY:
Do you know when your mother's family first came to this country, where they came, and where they came from?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
That I am not certain of. Somewhere I read that "Captain Joseph Collins, Gentleman, led a party against ye Indians." This happened in Virginia in 1753. But I don't know where the Denneys came from. I think they were Scotch-Irish, but I'm not sure.
MIMI CONWAY:
Is your heritage all Scotch-Irish? You have some French, I think, too.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Yes, my grandmother's name was Harriette LaGrande Foster. And one side of her family—I've never had much time to spend on genealogy, I mean far back—they, I believe, settled on the Santee River.
MIMI CONWAY:
In Kentucky.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
No, the Santee River is in North Carolina. [The Santee River is in South Carolina.] That was during colonial days, before there was a Kentucky. And she used to tell stories about the people who had lived, as she said, "on the other side of the mountains."
MIMI CONWAY:
And then your father's family, do you know when they came to this country?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
No, I don't. I only know that most were English. I've tried to get past Reuben Simpson—that was his great-great-great-great-grandfather—he's the one who was a Loyalist. So far I've been unable to do so. I haven't spent any time on it. But the story goes that he was living in Virginia. Some of his relatives were for the colonists; others were Loyalists. He didn't want to kill any of them, so left Virginia and went to South Carolina and was living near the site of

Page 4
the Battle of Kings Mountain. You know, Kings Mountain is near the North Carolina-South Carolina border. His ancestors, the Whites, came from England at a very early date. Most of my people were living in the colonies well before there was a Revolution.
MIMI CONWAY:
Your Grandfather Simpson, what did he do?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
My Grandfather Simpson was a teacher and a farmer.
MIMI CONWAY:
So it's a long line of teachers in your family.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Yes, and our mother was determined that her daughters should be teachers.
MIMI CONWAY:
Did your Grandmother Denney work, I mean, for example, as a teacher? Did she work outside the home?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
No, she never worked outside the home that I know of. I loved Grandmother Denney, but she was a curious person. When I first knew her, her husband had been dead, I'd say, thirty years, and she still wore, when travelling or going to church, a black silk mourning bonnet with a long tail. She dressed completely in black. At home she would liven up a little. And she visited us. I think when I first remember her, she'd given up housekeeping; I'm not certain. Because she had inherited from her husband a farm which she rented and had some income, though not a great deal. She wore dresses, either white sprigged with black or black with very faint designs in them.
MIMI CONWAY:
Were they silk dresses?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
No, she had silk dresses for church; her good dresses were always black. If you'll wait, do you want to see a quilt she pieced for me when I was eight years old?
MIMI CONWAY:
Oh, I'd love to.

Page 5
[interruption]
MIMI CONWAY:
Your Grandmother Denney—also, I think that you wrote about this or mentioned this—that while she was alive, and I think she died when you were nine?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Ten, the summer I was ten years old.
MIMI CONWAY:
Did she have you dress in very pretty dresses, and have your hair curled and things? Would you tell me a little bit about that?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Oh, yes, when she was home I'd go to school with these little sausages, you know, down to my shoulders and a bow; all the little girls dressed that way, a great hair bow. Your bow had to stand up, you know.
MIMI CONWAY:
Did you like having a grandmother who had you get all

Page 6
dressed up?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Oh, yes, I loved it when she was home. The only thing I had against Grandmother Denny, she wanted to be busy always, and one of her activities was knitting lace out of Number 80 white sewing thread. The lace had points on it, and we would wear it around the tops of our slips or petticoats [unknown] and the bottom of the petticoat and the edge of the pants. We didn't ordinarily have to wear it to school. But at that time, all your underclothes were starched stiff as pokers, and that lace would cut into me in church...
MIMI CONWAY:
(Laugh)
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
...and my legs. And usually I had some old chigger bites I'd want to scratch, but in church you had to sit perfectly still.
MIMI CONWAY:
So Grandmother Denney was quite a lady.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Oh, she was. And another thing she did, she liked to help with the churning or anything, and before churning she'd put on her mitts, which she also knit. I've never seen anyone else wear them; I know it was once the custom. But they were black and, I think, knit of coarser thread than the lace, and they covered the first knuckles of her fingers so that the tips of her fingers and the end of her thumb, but her palm was protected.
MIMI CONWAY:
Perhaps you should have had those. I remember when you wrote about grinding, and your knuckles got bloodied.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Oh, that was when I was teaching school and I tried to grit corn. So many of these things they did, in the back

Page 7
hills, and I'd heard of bread made of gritted corn. The pioneers, you know.
MIMI CONWAY:
So perhaps you should have had Grandmother Denney's mitts. [laughter]
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
To do that? I don't know. Really, the word is "grated," but they all said "gritted corn." And oh, the bread was delicious stuff.
MIMI CONWAY:
Did Grandmother Denney live far away from Burnside, or did she live with you, or what?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
She lived in Wayne County near her old home or in it, and our home was in Burnside—that's a small town on Cumberland River—after I was almost five years old. She usually spent most of her winters with us.
MIMI CONWAY:
And was she a very important figure in your family? Was it different when she was there and when she wasn't?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
It was different in many ways, it seemed to me.
Grandma tried harder to make what she called "ladies" out of us. We were not supposed to slump. If she found me sitting the way I am now, she'd make a remark about it and suggest or tell me to walk around a while with a book on my head. And she'd talk about the old days. I don't know whether she'd been to such a school or not where the girls in school wore back boards.
MIMI CONWAY:
Oh, like a finishing school or something.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Yes. To make them sit and stand straight, and she sighed for the days when women were well corseted in those corsets. Mama

Page 8
had such a corset in the attic, but she never wore it. They had steel in them as well as whalebone.
MIMI CONWAY:
How did your mother feel about having. . . . I think there were four daughters and one son?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Five.
MIMI CONWAY:
Five daughters and one son. Did she share Grandmother Denney's, her own mother's, view about having you be ladies?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
She worried less about that, I think. Our mother had migraine headache among other things. When I was a child and walking through Burnside—you know, everybody knew everyone else—and the question was always, "Well, how's your mother holding up?" Mama didn't live; she just held up. And of course she bore six children; that's enough to make anyone feel not too well at times. But Mama held up until she was almost eighty-nine years old. But Grandma Denney was the one who worried more about our manners and our speech. I recall once she told me to sweep the little side porch. The broom wasn't in its usual place, and I yelled out, "Where's the broom at?" And she didn't lift her voice or anything; she just said, "You'll find the broom just behind the at." So I always think of that if I hear someone using "at" at the end of a sentence, or an unneeded one, or if I'm tempted to or do so.
MIMI CONWAY:
How did your father feel about Grandmother Denney trying to make ladies of you?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Oh, he was always glad to see her. She was a very kind,

Page 9
thoughtful woman, and I hate to say it but she was a much better cook than Mama. Mama, before marriage, had been a teacher for ten years. She was twenty-eight when she married. And I think Grandma Denney had always done the cooking, taken care of her and this and that.
But I remember Grandma Denny's biscuits. Of course, at that time and in that town, you always had biscuits and cornbread for breakfast. And we took biscuit sandwiches to school. I was so embarrassed once. I'd always, when I went to the store, if Mama wanted some bread, I asked for loaf bread. And one day I said, "I want a loaf of loaf bread, please," and somebody behind me tittered, so I started saying "bread", but it didn't seem right because there were so many different kinds of bread, instead of just what you got at the store. And then years and years later, I read in Boswell's Journal in Scotland, he said he hadn't seen a single loaf or any loaf bread because they ate oat cakes and muffins
MIMI CONWAY:
You never knew your Grandfather Denney.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
No. I never knew either of my grandfathers; they were both dead when I was born.
MIMI CONWAY:
But your Grandmother Simpson, did she live in Burnside?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
No, she also lived in Wayne County.
MIMI CONWAY:
Did you know her very well, or did she live while...
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
I did know her, but I didn't see as much of her as Grandma Denney. Grandma Denney died when she was sixty-seven. Grandma Simpson, when I knew her, was much older than that, but she was a sweet, kindly soul. I never heard her complain of anything. She had what was

Page 10
apparently cataracts, or the beginnings of them. She'd been to all the eye men around, one in Somerset and one in Monticello, but they weren't able to do anything for her. And she loved to read, and her big sorrow was she could no longer read. Mama used to read to her a lot.
MIMI CONWAY:
Is Grandmother Simpson the one who would tell you stories about guerilla activities during the Civil War?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Yes, that's how old she was. She married during the War and was a young married woman and remembered nothing horrible happened to her. Well, the guerillas came and tore up the country. And when I visited the homeplace, my cousins showed me the cave where they'd had to hide the horses to keep them from being stolen. One group was under Tinker Beattie, who claimed he was a soldier for the Union. And Champion Ferguson claimed he was fighting for the Confederacy. You see, in our part of Kentucky—it's south-central—many of the people owned slaves. The Simpsons had freed theirs several years before the War. I don't think Mama's people had any slaves, at least not the Denneys. And allegiance was mixed. And guerillas just overran the country; there was no law or order to stop them. They killed a good many people, stole horses and food, and burned buildings.
MIMI CONWAY:
Did the Simpsons own many slaves? Do you know about how many?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
There were no really large slaveholders in. . . . Well, some, I suppose, had thirty, thirty-five. I think the Simpsons only

Page 11
had fourteen. I'm not sure. I look at those things in the deed books.
MIMI CONWAY:
I know that in your book, Seedtime on the Cumberland, you make a distinction between farmers and planters.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Yes.
MIMI CONWAY:
And farmers, I assume, are small landowners who do their own farming, and planters are those who, with or without slave help—some used white tenant help—were more propertied. So that would mean that the Simpsons were planters, is that...
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
No, practically everybody around there were farmers. There's another distinction I should have made, too. The planters, as a rule, were one-crop: the great cotton planters, and then you've heard of the rice planters. There were some planters in Tennessee, and I suppose. . . . Well, now, I don't know about the bluegrass. Maybe where they grew a lot of hemp. That is in Kentucky. Some families certainly owned a great many slaves, but insofar as I know all my people were farmers, that is they grew many crops. They sold cattle and hogs and tobacco and of course, in the early years, whiskey. Until they passed the excise tax, Lincoln—I think that was in 1863—making it into whiskey was the one way farmers had of getting their corn to market. They owned small stills, but they'd usually make a thousand or so gallons. At Nashville they could get a dollar a gallon for it. I don't have the figures for Wayne, but in Pulaski County around 1830

Page 12
corn whiskey was selling for twenty-five to thirty-three cents a gallon, they made so much of it. It was their biggest cash crop except tobacco.
MIMI CONWAY:
Can we go back for a second? You were born in Wayne County, and when you were four you moved to Burnside.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Yes, I was almost five.
MIMI CONWAY:
Were you born at home?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Yes. Practically everybody was born at home. The closest hospital was at Lexington, although there may not have been a hospital at Lexington when I was born.
MIMI CONWAY:
Where do you fit into the order of your family?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Elizabeth is my one older sister. There's Elizabeth, Harriette, Margaret, Lucy, Sarah. And five years after Sarah was born, when my mother was forty-four years old, James William was born. My mother was always wishing for a boy. She'd tell me she wished I had been a boy, and each succeeding baby, she hoped for a boy, and at last one came.
MIMI CONWAY:
Did that bother you or affect you in any way when she'd tell you that she wished you were a boy?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
I really don't know. I remember it annoyed me, because I didn't want to be treated like a boy or have to do boy's work or anything like that.
MIMI CONWAY:
What was boy's work, I mean like chores at the farm?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
I had different chores at times. I used to have to bring

Page 13
in the cows. I didn't mind that; it gave me a chance to wander off and walk up the hill and over to an adjoining field.
MIMI CONWAY:
Were you close with your sisters and brother?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Yes, quite close, but you see, there was thirteen years between me and my brother. I finished high school a short time before I was sixteen. Then I went to Berea. And I taught, so that I was never again, after I was sixteen, at home all the time. Oh, I would visit, of course, or spend part of the summer there, but I didn't live there anymore.
MIMI CONWAY:
Could you describe a little bit what Burnside was like when you were living there, up till the time you were sixteen?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
When we moved there, Burnside had around two thousand people. It was primarily a lumber town. There was a veneer mill, [unknown] Chicago Veneering; Kentucky Lumber; there was a stave mill; a tie factory where they made railroad ties, they were shipped all over. And there was a cedar mill; among other things it made faucets. Many of those were shipped to Europe. We were on the main trunk line of the Southern Railway, so there was always plenty of oranges and bananas and other things in season. The things I remember best about Burnside are the steamboats and the steamboat whistles. It was at the junction of Big South Fork and the Cumberland River, and there were paddle wheel steamboats. Packets I think came up from Nashville or transhipped goods; they'd been doing that since 1833. Oh, I loved to hear those steamboat whistles. And, of course, the train

Page 14
whistle; they were all steam trains. Somerset was the county seat, and two or three miles from Somerset, at Ferguson, was the roundhouse. Here, a second engine was hooked onto southbound freights for the long pull up and over the mountains to Chattanooga, Tennessee. Burnside was surrounded by hills, but our hills were much smaller than those of Fast Kentucky or the mountains of Fast Tennessee.
MIMI CONWAY:
Why did your family move to Burnside?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Our father, as I say, was a teacher—taught only eight years—and in those days teachers' salaries were very low in Kentucky. And you can't support a family with that, so he became a tool dresser in the oil field in Wayne County. It was quite a little field there. And then when that was drilled out, he came to Burnside to work in the veneer mill. He worked there about six years. And when they opened more wells during World War I in another part of Kentucky, he went back to his tool dressing in that oil field.
MIMI CONWAY:
I thought that he also was a bookkeeper.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
No. He kept tally for several months.
[END OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]

[TAPE 1, SIDE B]

[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]
MIMI CONWAY:
... and what he did and his influence on you.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
He worked at the veneer mill, did something called "feeding the hog." Of course, visitors were not allowed there when the mill was in operation. It was all those saws and logs moving around and

Page 15
being picked up. But it was something about feeding scrap to the boilers. Most of the mills in Burnside depended on scrap wood for fuel. Wood was plentiful. Plenty of virgin timber at that time. The saws in Burnside were powered by steam. And Papa was six feet tall with blue eyes, and I can remember only a bit when his hair was black. He married when he was thirty-four, so that by the time I remember him at all his hair was getting gray. And he had the most beautiful blue eyes. And broad-shouldered, but of a rather spare build. He sang a great deal. I learned my first bit of history from him when I was four or five years old, but I couldn't connect it with anything. You've no doubt heard, "My name is Charles Guiteau, My name I'll never deny, For the murder of James A. Garfield, I am compelled to die." He of course sang other songs, and of some I remember only snatches. I've never seen this in print, but I know it's somewhere: "Peggy O'Neale was a girl who could steal/Any heart, anywhere, anytime." Now I don't know whether that is an old song about the Peggy O'Neale, you remember, who married Mr. Faton, one of Andrew Jackson's cabinet members, and none of the ladies would call on her, or a later song. Maybe a popular song, because I remember he was soon singing, "It's a long, long way to Tipperary." But he also sang old songs like "Ride Around the Cane Brake and Shoot the Buffalo."
MIMI CONWAY:
And wasn't he also a wonderful storyteller?

Page 16
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
He was; he was a great storyteller. He was particularly good at ghost tales—he'd scare us to death—and so did "Jack the Giant Killer," because he would mimic each thing. He could be the sly butcher, you know, who gave poor, innocent Jack a handful of beans for a good cow, or he could be the giant. Oh, he could really roar; he sang bass in the church choir. Or he could be the harp, speaking in a high falsetto, the treacherous harp that almost cost Jack his life. Scare us to death.
MIMI CONWAY:
Did he tell a lot of the Jack tales?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
He told several. He told another story that is really part, I think, of the folklore of most nations in Europe, about the man who thought he could do his wife's work quicker than she, and it was uproarious. The wife went off to work in the field or she went to church or something, and the man thought he'd have stewed chicken for dinner. And then the details: he cut his thumb when he was trying to cut up the chicken, and he put turpentine on it and got turpentine in the chicken.
MIMI CONWAY:
(Laugh)
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
And on and on and on; it was really uproarious.
MIMI CONWAY:
It sounds to me like all of your people were wonderful storytellers.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
They were. Papa also seemed to remember most of the poetry he not only taught, but read. Like "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner"—he knew practically all of that—and a lot of Tennyson and

Page 17
Poe and others, bits of Shakespeare, which he would recite. Papa was also the prime storyteller; he told stories of the Revolution handed down from the Whites and the Sherrells and the Merritts.
MIMI CONWAY:
But now your mother was a good storyteller, too, wasn't she?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
She was quite a good storyteller, but most of her stories were of her past when she'd been a teacher. I remember she talked so much about Maude, I think I first thought Maude was a sister. But Maude had been her favorite five-gaited saddle mare that she'd ridden when she was teaching. She usually had a school fairly close to home where she could stay at home and ride to work on Maude, of course on a side saddle and in a riding skirt. Did you ever see one of those riding skirts?
MIMI CONWAY:
Only pictures.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
We had one around the house. How a woman even got around in it, I don't know.
MIMI CONWAY:
I think I remember your saying that your mother had—not only for Maude—but had very detailed memories of a lot of horses.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Yes, and people she'd known, families; she knew most of the families that were at least distantly related in Wayne County. If Mama didn't know at least who their grandparents were, she considered them strangers. Because she'd grown up that way with the Denneys. There was Denney's Gap and a Denney post office and two Denney graveyards, and Denney's Store. And she'd grown up

Page 18
surrounded by her Denny kin. I don't think she ever felt at home after leaving Wayne County and her close relatives. It was like a clan, almost.
MIMI CONWAY:
I know you said you had a few relatives in Burnside. They were Simpson relatives?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Not all. They were mostly distant cousins. Papa had some relatives, the Rankins, who were girls, married when we moved there. One of them was my Sunday school teacher, and I knew their mother. They were lovely people. The other relatives were Cousins Emma, Mollie, and Dora, all Denneys before their marriages. They were, I think, first cousins of my dead Grandfather Denney. And every once in awhile, Grandma Denney, she was no blood relative, but she would put on her black silk bonnet and a silk dress and go over to see them. They lived in Burnside in the upper town. And I loved the place, but of course I always sat still on a horsehair sofa. If you haven't ever sat in thin summer clothing and socks on a horsehair sofa, you don't know what itching and scratching are.
The women all seemed to enjoy talking of the past. Mama was that way, too. And they talked a lot about their father, the three cousins did. They were married, but they had no sure-fire way of birth control; they just waited until they were past the age of child-bearing, you see, and then married, so they had no children.
MIMI CONWAY:
Oh, my heavens.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
That's, I suppose, one way of birth control.

Page 19
MIMI CONWAY:
Was that common?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Women, I think, that we knew married older; they were older than they are now. Mama was twenty-eight.
MIMI CONWAY:
And you were thirty-one?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
I was thirty-one, yes.
MIMI CONWAY:
I was interested in that, because I didn't know if it was unusual for you to marry late, or, because your mother and father had also married late, it was...
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
I don't know. I guess the man I wanted just didn't come along, although I was preoccupied with writing. I published a book, my first novel, and some short stories, and I didn't think much about marriage. On the other hand, many of the girls my age in high school married at about the same age I did.
MIMI CONWAY:
I was confused about that, because I knew that there was a strong emphasis on husband, children, family—I think there was in your upbringing—and I wasn't sure, in your twenties, whether you had pressure from your family, "Why aren't you married?" or whether that was just part of either the tradition of your family or the tradition of the people that you grew up with. I mean, especially since they objected to your writing.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
I don't know. I think it's a mixture. Mama didn't want my older sister and I to marry at all, and my older sister didn't. The rest of us did. And I don't know; it was a combination. But many girls my age in high school married about the same time I did, and some of them didn't marry. There was no pressure or feeling that

Page 20
one had to get married in order to be a person.
MIMI CONWAY:
Why do you think your mother didn't want you to marry? Did she actually say?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
I don't know. She wanted us, I think, to stay at home, which we didn't...
MIMI CONWAY:
[laughter]
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
...and stay close to her, is all I know. World War II came just at the right time; our brother finished all his work for the bachelor's degree at the University of Kentucky—I don't think he went through the motions of graduating—and joined the Air Force. So during the War she was writing to him overseas—he was a navigator in a bomber—and to five daughters in five different states. Now the Denneys seemed to hang all around the great-grandfather Matthew. The country, that part, was full of Denneys, and you'll still find an awful lot in that same county. Looking at the list of teachers, here's Denney, Denney, Denney; they still teach school. Papa's people, one of his uncles went to Idaho, the territory, long before there was a state. One of his sisters, shortly after her marriage, she and her husband bought land in Alberta, Canada. I always wanted to go there; I never have. She married a Burnett. I have few Simpson relatives left in Wayne County. They scattered, and I think they wanted to go to different places. Some went all the way to Oregon before there was a state of Oregon.
MIMI CONWAY:
But you think it was simply because your mother wanted to have you at home.

Page 21
You don't think it was because she had any feelings against marriage.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
No, she had married. She may have had feelings against marriage; I don't know. Of course, she wouldn't say, but I've often wondered. She seemed to love her past as a teacher. She didn't tell us any remote stories from the distant past the way Papa and Grandma Simpson and Grandma Denney did, but it was all about when she was a girl or woman and teaching. She had one of these old red plush albums. Most of the photographs in that were of her and her friends when they'd go to what they called "Teachers' Institute" at Monticello. And so on and so forth. I think she perhaps enjoyed that part of her life better—I don't know—but she wouldn't, of course, come out and say, "Well, I wish I'd never married" or anything like that.
MIMI CONWAY:
I think you once mentioned something about your mother having a wonderful imagination. I think I get that from the time that she made a pumpkin pie and put double the spices in [by mistake] and decided to put meringue on it so that it would be like chocolate, to help you imagine better that it was chocolate.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Yes, I remember that. I was so mad, annoyed when I bit into it, because you could tell from the taste she had spilled the spices; Mama was not a great cook.
MIMI CONWAY:
[laughter]
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
The double spices were not deliberate. She got it so black

Page 22
with extra spice. I don't know, I think she overdid the allspice. You know, you can't stand very much allspice. But the meringue was all right; you could eat that and leave the pie.
MIMI CONWAY:
But did she have a real strong imagination, or was that just an isolated example that makes it sound that way?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
I think she did. One thing I got from Mama, she loved growing things. I didn't appreciate it at the time. She wanted a vegetable garden. Of course, Papa could help a good deal in that when he wasn't working. She also grew flowers, and the house, it was large enough for the children and so forth, but in winter there were potted plants and ferns, begonias and sensitive ferns and other ferns. I remember a stand in the dining room, and then there were more. . . . We didn't call it the living room; I guess we called it the sitting room or just the place where we spent most of our time. And if you tried to play or do anything boisterous, you'd be certain to knock over a plant. And Mama also liked to watch the sky, the sunsets and the moon and all that sort of thing.
MIMI CONWAY:
And didn't she know how to tell the weather really well by the sound of the wind or the appearance of the sky?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
She was a close observer and was quite a good weather forecaster. Well, so was Papa, though. You see, they had grown up in a world where you had no weather forecast on TV or radio; there weren't any. And they watched the sky. It didn't always rain when she thought it would.
One thing we had when we were children, was sky. We lived on Tyree's Knob in Burnside school district, but above Burnside.

Page 23
You could see for miles and miles toward the southwest and west.
MIMI CONWAY:
What was the house like?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
I wish I'd known you were interested. I would have tried to find a picture. It was a frame house, two stories in front, kind of gaunt-looking with the usual porches front and back and on the side, and only one story in back for the kitchen and the dining room. And it was, I guess, six rooms, but the rooms were all big, as I remember. I remember upstairs in the bedrooms, you could get two double beds in with no trouble, and anything else you wanted to put in. We brought with us, I remember, what Mama had inherited from the days when there were few closets. We had closets in our house, but we still had what they called wardrobes. Did you ever see one?
MIMI CONWAY:
Yes.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
One was oak and one was walnut, and they always made me think of coffins stood on end, dark, and there'd be plenty of room for those and anything else you could cram into a room.
MIMI CONWAY:
Was your house, for the town, considered a large house?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
No, it was about average, I guess, although shortly after it was built. . . . I remember when I first heard the word "bungalow," and those were one-story houses. Most of the homes in our town were two stories. It was smaller than some and bigger than others, plenty of room.
MIMI CONWAY:
I remember you mentioned something about your father having inherited oil rights; he got royalties from the mineral rights of

Page 24
land that belonged to his father.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Yes.
MIMI CONWAY:
Did that plus his work mean that you were some of the wealthy people in town?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
No. We were only better off than some. But that was the unusual thing about Burnside when I was a child: the children of the mill owners—of course, they were not great mills, but they did earn a lot of money—and the other businesses came to school with the workers. Everybody went to the public school then. And I don't think there were any millionaires in Burnside. There were, though, some very poor people. I remember our church and the other churches did the same: each Christmas we had what we called a white Christmas—the dandelions might be blooming, but we called it that—and each member of each family in the church was to bring, wrapped in white tissue paper, one or two gifts for the poor. I know Mama always sent a lot of preserves and jelly and canned goods, and we bought food or sometimes she'd make clothing for small children. You see, there were no government aids for the poor except I think, I'm not certain, there was a county home—no, I don't believe there was—for the elderly poor. It was the custom, if elderly people needed financial help, the children took care of them. But there may have been one for the poor, because there were people so poor they couldn't take care of themselves, or so I heard. [Text Missing]

Page 25
MIMI CONWAY:
Were there any blacks in Burnside?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
No. No blacks. We were all one hundred percent white Protestants, mostly the descendants of Revolutionary soldiers, which didn't mean anything. Burnside was in that part of Kentucky set aside for soldiers of the Revolution. You know, they gave them land; they couldn't pay them any money.
MIMI CONWAY:
And that's why a lot of the people would have come from North Carolina.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
I think so, yes.
MIMI CONWAY:
Can you describe the grade school that you went to? You went to grade school in Burnside.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Yes.
MIMI CONWAY:
Was it a one-room school?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
No, it was a graded and high school housed in a red brick building. And let's see, in the first grade a great deal of emphasis was put on the sounds of letters. We had to study; we spent all day. There was no kindergarten; you began when you were six years old or close to it. And you learned the letters and sounds. Meanwhile you were learning to read. You learned the numbers, learned to write them. And we were soon doing simple addition and

Page 26
subtraction. Reading began in a primer; we next went in the first grade in the same room. And children who didn't make the grade were not passed. You know, now in city schools, I've heard that the child shouldn't be made to feel left out, so you pass him on. That's why we have high school students who can't read. It was a sad situation, though. There were about fifty in the first grade. And in my graduating class I think there was only twelve of us.
MIMI CONWAY:
Oh, my heavens.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
We were the ones who planned to go on to college, and all of us did, I think, but two girls. One of the girls married. But nobody seemed to care whether the people went to school or not. They were held back until they learned. I remember when I went to first grade, I was surprised: there were children in there much bigger than my older sister. Then there were fewer in the second grade, still fewer in the third and the fourth.
MIMI CONWAY:
So there was no compulsory education at this time.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
No. The feeling was that. . . . Well, that's what Papa said when I asked him once why didn't they send their children to school? He said, "Well, it could be they didn't have winter clothing." I noticed that most of them dropped out in the winter. And in the fifth and sixth grade there were so few they had only one teacher.
MIMI CONWAY:
Wow.

Page 27
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Still not as many as in the first grade, and that was true in the seventh and eight.
MIMI CONWAY:
So by the time you finished high school, as you say, most of the people were going on to college. But in the first grade, when there were fifty of you, it sounds more like there were very poor children and also rich children.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
There were some with well-to-do parents.
MIMI CONWAY:
Were there children who didn't have shoes? I mean, for example, you were talking about when Grandmother Denney was there and you'd have really pretty dresses and things. Could you see a big difference in how the children were dressed?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
I don't recall noticing much difference in the first and second grades, but I did notice it later, and I did notice that some dropped out in the winter. I thought for many years we were of the poorest because our mother complained a lot about how little money we had, even though Papa worked. He made what other men made, I think, and he received some money from his oil rights, which, when oil was high as during World War I amounted to quite a lot. Then as a tool dresser, he made higher wages. I hadn't noticed any difference, because everybody came to school starched and ironed, and we dressed a good deal alike. The well-to-do children you couldn't have told—or to my causal eye; I never studied it—perhaps you could have seen differences in dress. But one day I'd been sent on an errand to the store. We were on the hill, and down in the

Page 28
lower town near the rivers were most of the stores, other businesses, and lumber mills. In the upper town most of the people lived, and we were higher on the hill. And as I crossed the railway tracks, between the upper and lower town, I saw a man with a sack on his shoulder, bending over and picking up small pieces of coal. South of us there were coal mines, and the coal cars were always passing. Later I asked Papa, "Why would anybody be picking up those little bits of coal fallen from passing coal cars? Why didn't they burn wood?" I couldn't imagine anybody being without wood. We had about thirty acres of land. Most of it was in cut-over timber, so there was always plenty of wood. Papa said maybe the man didn't have any wood, and I said, "Well, what does he pick up coal for?" "Well, he doesn't have any money to buy it." And I couldn't imagine that, any more than I could imagine anyone being hungry. I don't know. Of course, we didn't have much money, but we had our own vegetable garden and milk cows and this and that. Practically everybody in town had a vegetable garden. Many of them kept cows. They'd stable them at night and drive them out to pasture next day. In warm weather the cows weren't kept in the stables overnight; they just wandered around the town and slept where they wished.
MIMI CONWAY:
[laughter]
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
And I've heard many funny stories of boys, sometimes young men going out to see their best girls, coming home, and stumbling over

Page 29
cows. The street lights in our town were few and far between and very dim. Quite a place was Burnside. Everybody knew you, and you knew everybody.
[END OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]

[TAPE 2, SIDE A]

[START OF TAPE 2, SIDE A]
MIMI CONWAY:
...when you first started to write, or your early years in school, whatever.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Before I started to write, I can't remember when I didn't think up stories and happy endings. Some of the stories I heard, especially of what we called "the war"—we never said the Civil War or the War Between the States, because the country was so divided; we just said "the war"; we named other wars, like the War of 1812—and I would hear these sad stories. I'd only be sad a few minutes, because I could imagine a happy ending. In school I think we started writing compositions in the third grade, but they were always about factual subjects such as George Washington or Arbor Day. Now, in this little town, though there were forests all around us, we kept Arbor Day and planted trees. I'm not sure they do that in Ann Arbor or Detroit. But it was not until I was in the fourth grade that we were sometimes told to write imaginary pieces, and that was what I wanted. I could go to town on that. And, oh, I felt as if I'd published a story when my teacher read one of mine aloud to the class. I had no desk at home of my own. I did have a little washstand where I put things. But I wanted a great desk such as I had seen at the

Page 30
George P. Taylor Company in Burnside. Of course, I'd had to have stood on the floor to use it. I told the story from the point of view of the desk.
MIMI CONWAY:
[laughter]
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
I was always short. So I imagined an old desk that had come into my possession and wrote its memories. But I tried no writing on my own until I was in high school. This is probably in that book you have, but I remember I was specially fond of walking in the woods and looking at the wildflowers; I'd always done that. So the first story—it wasn't the first I'd written, but the first one I tried to send out—was a fairy tale of flowers talking to each other, the different names, the anemones and the dogtooth violets and all those. I sent it to Child Life. I had no idea what to do. I single-spaced it on writing paper. And they kept it, and my hopes rose. It eventually returned with a note saying they had torn the story while they were reading it, and someone had retyped it for me. It was typed with the proper spacing and margins on the correct typing paper in the correct kind of envelope. Child Life was a magazine we subscribed to at home; I'll always love that magazine. I never tried it with another story, but I suppose someone did tear my story. I don't know. But whatever it was, it was a lesson in how a manuscript should be when you submit it. After that, I was always careful to type in the same way the few manuscripts I submitted during the next several years.
MIMI CONWAY:
And you were only thirteen when you did that, is that right?

Page 31
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
I was thirteen or fourteen.
MIMI CONWAY:
Also, I think I remember something about your having bad penmanship and that, although your parents were against your writing, they gave you a typewriter.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Yes.
MIMI CONWAY:
So that your teachers. . . . I guess because they had been teachers.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Yes.
MIMI CONWAY:
They were thinking about the teacher rather than you, so they gave you a typewriter. Is that right? Can you tell me a little about that?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Yes, that's right.
MIMI CONWAY:
Is that when you were thirteen?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
I guess I was. I was a sophomore in high school, I think, when I got it.
MIMI CONWAY:
Because you typed that story to Child World, so you must have.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Yes. I had the typewriter then.
MIMI CONWAY:
Was that unusual, because even when I was in school it would be really unusual for someone young to type their work. Were you the only one who typed?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Oh, I felt [unknown] proud when I turned in something typed.
MIMI CONWAY:
(Laugh)
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
But my penmanship, I tried. I used to cry over it in the grades, and it just got worse and worse, no matter what I did. And

Page 32
Mama was very strict about our grades. She took for granted that we would bring home good grades. I'd get G—"Good"—on penmanship. We had "E"s, Excellent; "VG", Very Good; and "G" was getting a way down there. And she was annoyed, had me practice at home, but when she saw how I tried, I think she realized I just couldn't make my hand do that. I was never any good at drawing or penmanship; I'm always ashamed to autograph a book. I do not have a distinguished autograph.
MIMI CONWAY:
But yet I thought that when you wrote the first draft of a book or manuscript, that you wrote it in longhand.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Oh, I always did.
MIMI CONWAY:
So it's okay for you; it's just...
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Yes. My husband typed most of The Dollmaker. How he read it I don't know, but he typed it out of the longhand into my first working deaft. You see, I have many drafts. I don't write as much as I rewrite. I'm a very slow worker. And I don't know how he did it. And I've wondered about Grandma Denney. I enjoyed writing letters. As soon as I could write. . . . Grandma Denney wasn't there all the time, and I'd also write to Grandma Simpson. I inflicted more letters on those two poor women.
MIMI CONWAY:
[laughter]
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
But both would always thank me for a letter and answer as if they'd read it.
MIMI CONWAY:
Before we go on to talk about your high school education, I

Page 33
wanted to go back for a minute and ask you about your early religious training. What was your first religious memory? It doesn't matter, formal or not, but just your first...
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Well, let me see. [unknown] We lived in Bronston before we moved to Burnside, and I think I remember being in the beginners' class and singing "Brighten the Corner Where You Are".
[unknown] And then, shortly after I was five years old, Grandma Denney came [unknown] and was scandalized that I didn't know the Lord's Prayer or the Beatitudes or the Ten Commandments. I knew a little of them. So I memorized those, got some idea of the Beatitudes and wondered, though, if I could ever live up to them. And I questioned some of them, like "The meek shall inherit the earth", so on and so forth. And then, let me see, I joined the Christian Church, was baptized, and became a Campbellite when I was eight years old, I guess. But I didn't have a religious experience such as people talk about. Who is the well-known man saying he had a religious experience? I didn't have anything like that. I just thought I would try to do right, you know.
MIMI CONWAY:
Did you have a baptism that was a total immersion baptism?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Yes. The Christian Church, the Baptist Church, and the Church of Christ I think all have total immersion.
MIMI CONWAY:
What do you remember about that? Were you eight years old, did you say?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
I think so.

Page 34
MIMI CONWAY:
Do you remember it?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Yes, I think I do. I think the minister kissed me.
MIMI CONWAY:
[laughter]
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
I remember getting ready for it. I think Mama made me a new white dress. Of course, that was nothing unusual. My parents belonged to the church.
MIMI CONWAY:
I thought they were Campbellites, or were they Christian Church?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Some Baptists called members of the Christian Church Campbellites.
MIMI CONWAY:
Okay, right.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
The followers of Alexander Campbell belonged to the Christian Church. Now I don't know the exact difference between the Church of Christ and the Christian Church. I know some Church of Christ groups will have no instrumental music in their church.
MIMI CONWAY:
See, it's just that you mentioned that first you belonged to the Christian Church, and then you said later, "I became a Campbellite."
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
No, the members of the Christian Church are followers of Alexander Campbell. They are Campbellites. I became a Campbellite when I was baptized into the Christian Church.
MIMI CONWAY:
Right. I've got it.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
And that's what they called us. We thought of ourselves as members of the Christian Church. And our church is called the Christian Church, the building, not the Campbellite Church.

Page 35
MIMI CONWAY:
Did they bring you down to the river?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Yes, we were baptized in the Cumberland River. Of course, the Methodists and the Presbyterians didn't go for total immersion. Then later—that was after I was gone from Burnside—the Baptists enlarged their church and had a baptistry which could be covered over very nicely and used for other things. And it was said that some of the Church of God people and perhaps the hard-shell Baptists. . . . I don't know. There are many varieties of the Protestant religion, many denominations, but members of some denominations were scandalized. They said you couldn't get to Heaven being baptized in a little bit of water in a house; you had to be baptized in a river as Christ was baptized in the River Jordan. And of course by that time all city churches had baptistries, but a few Burnsiders didn't know it. We were all Protestants, but the feelings of a Baptist with a daughter who married a Methodist, or vice versa, made a bigger gap than today if a Protestant were to marry a Catholic.
MIMI CONWAY:
That day that you were baptized. Were you excited about it? Was it a big celebration, or were you proud, or what?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
I don't know. I remember feeling solemn. I remember there was something about singing down by the water. I remember

Page 36
their singing "Shall We Gather at the River?" And there a whole line of us to be baptized, I think some other children. And I had seen it done before, and I knew other people who'd been baptized. I wasn't all that excited about it, I don't think. The big excitement was making up my mind by myself—I didn't ask anybody—and then, as the minister always did when he'd call, ask if anyone would like to join the church, I went up. That was the excitement. But our church always believed in dignity, dignity, dignity. There was never any shouting, like the churches in the hills, you know. The elders, if they liked what a preacher said, they had to keep it to themselves. I've been in quite modern churches in the hills where somebody would say, "Amen, Brother So-and-So," and "Amen," but we couldn't do that.
MIMI CONWAY:
Oh, that's interesting.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Even baptism didn't always keep church from being a bore. I remember this minister would read the text. Then he would say, "Now, in the Latin, it said so-and-so, but in the Greek this word meant so-and-so, but, when you get back to the original Hebrew," and on and on and on.
MIMI CONWAY:
[laughter]
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
And I didn't even know Latin then. I never learned Greek or Hebrew.
MIMI CONWAY:
In your own home with your mother and father, what was the religious training like?

Page 37
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Our religious training at home. . . . As I told you, I had to memorize certain passages from the Bible. Then we were encouraged to read the Bible, the whole Bible. And when I was at home I read it twice, although parts of it, like when So-and-so begat So-and-so, it goes on for. . . . Other times it was exciting, the wars and so forth. Other times I couldn't figure out God.
Do you remember Jephthah's daughter?
MIMI CONWAY:
No, I'm sorry, I don't.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Well, Jephthah made a vow to God that he would sacrifice the first thing he met when he came home. I suppose he thought it would be a sheep or a goat. Well, his most beloved daughter went out to meet him. So she was given a certain number of days to bewail her virginity, which seemed odd. At the time I had no idea what virginity was. We did have a dictionary, but I was not encouraged to use it when I was reading the Bible, because I might have learned things I wasn't supposed to know. And then she was sacrificed; that seemed kind of cruel to me, as was the treatment of Hagar. She almost starved in the wilderness. And then God told her He was saving her not because of her, but because of her son. And so on and so forth. And of course the New Testament, the awful time Paul had. But I think I liked Paul's sentences. Later, I memorized some verses from Corinthians. "Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal." And some versions read "love". I substituted "sincerity" and used it as a text for writing.

Page 38
MIMI CONWAY:
Oh, that is really interesting.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
That's a good text for anyone. Or leave it as it is. Because usually we love or have charity for the people of whom we write, for our characters.
[interruption]
MIMI CONWAY:
I wanted to ask you about the period starting in 1919, when you went to St. Helen's Academy? I wanted to ask you about high school and where you went to high school.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Well, let me see. That wasn't 1919.
MIMI CONWAY:
That's when you would have been eighteen.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
No. In 1918 in the autumn, I was ready for the fifth grade; I was ten years old that year. The flu was raging. From our home we could see the red mounds of earth in the graveyard. Our mother said none of us should go to school. Our father wasn't at home; he was working in an oil field near Beattyville, Kentucky. And in spite of the flu, Mama suddenly decided we should move to this oil field. I won't go into the oil field. It was a most interesting place. Of course, we were not allowed to hang around the machinery. And Mama said she would teach us at home. Elizabeth was ready for high school, and I was ready for the fifth grade. So she taught us at home. Well, sometime late the next summer she borrowed a horse from Mr. Jeff Frogge and a side saddle from Mrs. Frogge [unknown] rode off to Torrent, put the horse in a livery stable, and went by train to St. Helen's where she investigated the school. She apparently liked it, came

Page 39
home, told Elizabeth and me—Elizabeth is my older sister—that we would be going [unknown] early in September to this boarding school. So Elizabeth and I went to St. Helen's.
[unknown] Elizabeth entered high school. I didn't know what I entered. I first thought I should be in the sixth grade. It seemed very difficult work for the sixth grade. I remember only three classes, music—piano, which was wasted on me, because I enjoy listening to music, but I'm just no musician—then we had grammar. Night after night we filled pages upon pages with diagrammed sentences.
MIMI CONWAY:
I remember that.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Next day in class we would have new sentences we'd never seen, and turn by turn—but not always in order, so we just couldn't be studying a word—sometimes we would get a sentence. The sentence is a compound sentence, indicative mood, the subject is "she"; the indirect object is "him"; the main clause is "She went to town"; the subordinate clause is "to see Dr. Smith, who had an office on Main Street." "Parse she." " ‘She’ is a pronoun, singular number, feminine gender, nominative case, subject of the verb ‘went.’ " On and on.
MIMI CONWAY:
[laughter]You remember it all perfectly.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Not all of it.
MIMI CONWAY:
[laughter]
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
I had a struggle. Mama had taught us a good deal of grammar, but I'd forgotten what a gerund was; well, I had to learn in a hurry. And over and over, this woman would say, "Never write a sentence in

Page 40
which you cannot parse every word." But we never wrote any sentences.
MIMI CONWAY:
Oh, no.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
We had no compositions, just grammar day in and day out. Then I also remember math, or arithmetic. I struggled and filled pages with problems. There were problems about how many acres in an uneven piece of land that is so many rods this way and so many rods that way, and so on and so forth. In order to solve it, you had to divide it into triangles, then find the area of the triangle. Then there were problems—I remember wrestling with one—about carpeting stairs, in which only the overall dimensions were given, and the number of steps. So, in order to get the width of a stair, I had to make a triangle and extract the square root—I knew the hypotenuse—and do this and do that. Mama had taught me how to extract a square root, but I'd forgotten it. Anyway, when school was out that year, I graduated from the eighth grade. As I remember, it was just flying through; I don't remember anything I learned, to speak of.
[unknown] I was almost twelve years old, and declared ready for high school.
MIMI CONWAY:
Now was St. Helen's a boarding school? I know later you went to one.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Yes, near the place where we lived. There were no schools. The closest one was around the ridge, a mile or two away. Elizabeth and I went to investigate, but there were no classes above the fourth grade.

Page 41
MIMI CONWAY:
And this is because your father was working in the coal fields then.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
In the oil field.
MIMI CONWAY:
I'm sorry, the oil fields.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Yes.
MIMI CONWAY:
And didn't you used to bring him his breakfast or dinner in a lunch pail, or the (Laugh) breakfast pail?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Yes, that was the only time I could get to see the machinery, and we weren't allowed to stay. The drilling rig. . . . Well, it could be a dangerous place, but they didn't want anyone around except the driller and the tool dresser. You'd be apt to be in the way.
MIMI CONWAY:
Did you like going to bring him his meals?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Oh, I loved it, and I always wanted to stay. But of course I couldn't.
MIMI CONWAY:
It seems like you were always the errand girl. Now here you were the second in the family, and yet when there was the influenza scare of 1918, the great Asian epidemic, you were the one, the only one who got to do the errands and run to the store, and here you were bringing your father his pail. How did you get to be the errand girl?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
That was Mama. Mama made an errand girl out of me, as if I were the errand boy.
MIMI CONWAY:
(Laugh)

Page 42
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
And I was rather glad to do it. Elizabeth, the older, had to stay home and help in the kitchen. Our mother was sick a great deal with migraine. Sometimes Elizabeth had to cook when she wasn't more than eight or ten years old. She made beds. And there was always a baby. There were six of us. She was the oldest, and only ten years older than the youngest girl. So there was always a baby, either to tend to or to watch.
MIMI CONWAY:
I just remember from being a child that getting to do the errands was definitely the best task.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Yes.
MIMI CONWAY:
So I just wondered how you managed to corner it.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
No, it was given me. I was never then, and I'm not now, too good at housework. You can see that. So I was given the job of the errands and hunting the cow. I also, as I grew older, had to be able to do the milking when Mama was sick. And Elizabeth had to stay inside and do the housework.
MIMI CONWAY:
Then in 1920, when you were twelve, you went to Stanton Academy?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Yes.
MIMI CONWAY:
Now where was that?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
St. Helen's is still shown on the maps, and there's still a Stanton. Stanton was the county seat of Powell County, but at that time they had no public high school. Stanton Academy was a Presbyterian academy and, I thought, a wonderful place. I liked the teachers. We were

Page 43
permitted to do many— [unknown] I was a freshman— [unknown] compositions. And my teacher praised one of my stories and had me read it aloud to the Literary Club. I didn't do such a good job in reading it. I wasn't too well prepared. It's something, I think, that still bothers me; I was ashamed when I finished that I'd done such a poor job. And I liked that place very much, and that, too, was a boarding school. But the oil field was drilled out. This was after World War I; the price of oil had dropped, so we went back to Burnside and I finished my high school at Burnside.
MIMI CONWAY:
I think that you advanced two grades.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Yes. [unknown] I left the fourth grade for the fifth, and in one year I was jumped to the eighth grade.
MIMI CONWAY:
Then you were only sixteen—I think that was in 1924—when you entered Berea College.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Yes, I graduated and was sixteen in July, and then went to Berea for two years.
MIMI CONWAY:
Before I ask about Berea, can I ask you, when you went back to Burnside High School for two years?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Three years.
MIMI CONWAY:
Three years.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
[unknown] I was only a freshman at Stanton Academy.
MIMI CONWAY:
Okay, right. And then you had one year at St. Helen's, and then three...
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
That's when they finished my elementary education. I was at St. Helen's the year before I went to Stanton Academy.

Page 44
MIMI CONWAY:
So that you skipped the grades, in fact, in grade school.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Yes.
MIMI CONWAY:
Okay. When you went back to Burnside, you were first of all two grades higher than the people that you'd started out with, and you'd also been out of town. Did it make it different?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
It did. I resented being out of my age group. I'd hoped I could continue at Stanton Academy, but after all, I suppose it was no use. Mama said she needed me at home, and why spend money sending me to high school when there was a school at home? But the Burnside students I had always known and been with were in the eighth grade, and I was a sophomore. I was younger than the others. I was short then; I'm short now. And at first I was very unhappy. But I soon grew accustomed to it.
[END OF TAPE 2, SIDE A]

[TAPE 2, SIDE B]

[START OF TAPE 2, SIDE B]
MIMI CONWAY:
Why did you choose Berea, or did your parents choose Berea?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
No, I chose Berea. There wasn't too much money in the family then. Berea was inexpensive. Elizabeth had gone to Richmond. You know, what do they call it? Eastern Kentucky University, although then it was little more than a normal school. One reason I went to Berea: of course, Mama wanted me to teach, be ready to teach by the time I was eighteen. I didn't want to teach, and I had to take education courses, which I resented. But at Berea, I could get two electives I wanted very much to study. One was botany, which I'd been interested in for years. I had a taste

Page 45
of it in high school. And another was geology. I had heard of geology. The University of Michigan Department of Geology had a summer study camp down at Mill Springs, Kentucky. That was a few miles down the Cumberland from Burnside. And one day I was out in the woods, and I saw these young men pecking with hammers on the rocks, this and that, and I thought how interesting and wonderful it would be to learn all about the rocks. Our hill was limestone with sink holes and some small caves. The most interesting things to me were fossils. Mama could only explain to me that there'd been seas there long ago, and these shells and coral and things like that had once been alive in the sea. And I wanted to learn more about that, although I soon learned that in order to learn a great deal about that you had to study paleontology. But I did learn at Berea a bit more about rocks.
MIMI CONWAY:
Did you end up majoring in botany?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
No, I majored in science. I trained to be a general science teacher. No, I often wished I'd majored in botany, but at the University of Louisville I really began to write. I didn't publish anything, but I met other students who invited me to join a group of writers few know anything about today. There are not many chapters of Chi Delta Phi left. It was a group interested in writing. I joined that, and I met other students who were writing, some writing poetry and some fiction. I took all the literature courses I could. I had a wonderful course in Milton.

Page 46
MIMI CONWAY:
And this was at Louisville.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Yes. And modern verse and some others. But I had no wish to major in English, because I knew I'd have to teach it and I felt it would be too great a pain to have to read the writings of [unknown] students, when I myself wanted to write.
MIMI CONWAY:
That's real interesting.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
But I did later [unknown] teach English in a small high school for a while.
[interruption]
MIMI CONWAY:
You talked about some of the courses at Berea, but I wondered how you felt being at a place that was bigger than any place you'd been before, and being away from home, if you liked it? You were younger, too. That's the thing: you were sixteen.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
That always was a bother, but I'd been away from home two years in boarding schools. And I don't know, I think I was disappointed. I met so many students from small towns or the country. I wanted something new and big and different, you know, a city. And the college occupied only a small part of Berea, and we were so closely watched and so many rules and this and that, there was no danger of getting lost or anything like that. And our dormitory was a small wooden dwelling. If I stayed there now, I'd be scared to death.
MIMI CONWAY:
[laughter]
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
It was called Gilbert Cottage, as I remember. We were the overflow from the college women's dormitory. And there were

Page 47
only, I suppose, fourteen or fifteen girls in the cottage, and I soon knew them. I don't recall feeling particularly lonesome or even homesick. I did miss the woods. The thing that bothered me, [unknown] we were not supposed to walk on the grass but of course had to walk the straight lines along the walks, and that just drove me crazy. I wanted to cut across and go in a circle or go near a bush and that sort of thing.
MIMI CONWAY:
Was Berea the strictest school you'd been to up to that point?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Yes, it was extremely strict. I think Berea made me want to smoke. I thought anything that's worth a fifty-dollar fine must be wonderful.
MIMI CONWAY:
[laughter]
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
And boys were never allowed out with girls, except on certain occasions or except in a group. And there were so many clothing rules. Burnside was a small place, and when you graduated from high school, oh, forty or fifty people would give you a small gift of some kind. And I received, among other things, eight or ten pair of silk hose, silk, because nylon. . . . Well, you're too young to remember the first nylon or rayon hose that were no good. And these were silk. Well, of course, I couldn't wear them at Berea. But the girls with money could in the college store buy [unknown] lisle hose from England, cotton lisle such as the English ladies wear in playing golf, [unknown] for, I think it was $2.65 a pair, a horrible price

Page 48
then for hose. Or maybe it was only $1.65. And our dresses had to cover our knees. We couldn't roll our stockings. And in gym we wore these big bloomers. We were not allowed to walk across the campus even with a coat over those bloomers. We had to change in the gym to a dress.
MIMI CONWAY:
Were you allowed to dance, or was that strictly forbidden?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
[unknown] We did have a class in folk dancing, but this was girls, girls [unknown] alone. At that time dancing with boys at Berea was unheard of. And once a week we were called up and talked to by the Dean of the College Girls. And she was always telling us not to wear anything that was suggestive or do any act that was suggestive. Well, I was so dumb, because I'd been in schools with other girls who never talked about such things—and of course you learned nothing at home—that I did [unknown] wonder, "Well, suggestive of what?"
MIMI CONWAY:
[laughter]
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
But that was the burden of her talk: "Don't wear suggestive clothes; don't show your knees"—that is, the knee was already covered with hose—but you don't show them; you don't show too much bare arm. You could wear short sleeves in summer. And since I didn't know what "suggestive" meant, I'd always feel guilty: "Well, have I been wearing something suggestive?"
MIMI CONWAY:
[laughter]
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Really. All that emphasis on sex, sex, sex. She never

Page 49
came out and used the word.
MIMI CONWAY:
If you were only sixteen—I mean, you were much younger than the others—had your mother talked to you about that before you...
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
No. Girls and mothers—or at least in our little town—were very different from today. Our mother explained nothing. Of course, I learned a little from farm animals. We had cows and chickens with roosters. At first I didn't know what the rooster was doing when he jumped on the hen. I learned a little that way and then chance reading in books, the few facts of life that I knew when I went to Berea. The bare outline. But I couldn't figure out what "suggestive" meant. That Dean of College Women talked to us as if she thought all of us were incipient streetwalkers or whores, I don't know.
MIMI CONWAY:
Wow, that's really. . . .
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
She didn't use such crude words, of course.
MIMI CONWAY:
[laughter]
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
But all that emphasis. I'd never really thought much about sex. I suppose I awakened very slowly.
MIMI CONWAY:
When you were at Berea, didn't you also have to work? I mean, wasn't that part of the way school ran, that everyone had to also work?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Yes. You did have to work. I first washed dishes. Then I asked if I could work at Fireside Industries. They did make beautiful things there, and I thought I would like the work. I only measured linen for towels, but the linen was so well woven that when you

Page 50
cut it, you could just follow a thread. I measured and cut the linen for the girls to hemstitch.
MIMI CONWAY:
So, in other words, was it a big commercial factory, or was it more like a...
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
No, there were only, as I recall, five or six girls sitting around a table in one room—they were hemstitching—and I was measuring linen. [unknown] And we were not permitted to go into the rest of the place, but I could hear and see a few other girls weaving.
MIMI CONWAY:
So it's more like a craft place.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Yes, it was a craft place, and I think that at that time the thread for the weaving was dyed there; I'm not sure. I never did see anyone carding or spinning. I don't think they spun their own thread; they may have. They did weave.
MIMI CONWAY:
Did you get paid for this?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Yes, I think I earned five or ten cents an hour. I've forgotten. I guess it was five cents an hour.
MIMI CONWAY:
Were all the people who worked there students at Berea? Yes.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Except the leader, or two or three of those around. Women who'd watch us and tell us what to do.
MIMI CONWAY:
And how often did you have to work?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
I worked every day except Sunday. I think we were supposed to work twelve hours a week.
MIMI CONWAY:
Twelve hours a week. So it would be more than two hours

Page 51
a day, because you wouldn't work on weekends, would you?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
We worked on Saturdays, but I know at dishwashing you washed dishes three meals a day, seven days a week.
MIMI CONWAY:
And got paid a nickel an hour?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Yes, but more skilled work paid at least ten cents an hour. Dishwashing was supposed to amount to two hours daily, I think. They put a great deal of emphasis on the joys of labor and the use of labor as a. . . . What would you call it? They never spoke of labor as a way of earning money or a way of learning. It's a curious business. At the same time, they glorified labor.
MIMI CONWAY:
Was it anything like the detachment that you talked about, like the way they talked about sex? I mean that was detached to a point where you couldn't understand what they were talking about.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
The girls in the dorm sometimes talked about sex or told jokes I'd never heard and couldn't always understand. This woman, the Dean of College Women, never came out and said what she was talking about; she'd just say "suggestive." And I later understood part way, although I think the whole idea is silly, what she meant, but, so far as I know, she never used the word "sex."
MIMI CONWAY:
From what you're saying, it sounds as though they may have talked about labor in the same way, in other words, that the idea or the word had some meaning that was known to them, that they never came out and said.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
No. They talked of labor, however, in an entirely

Page 52
different way than they did about being suggestive. That was by the Dean to the girls alone. They had a Dean of Labor, a very important man, as I recall. There was also a special Labor Day each year. And labor was glorified, no matter what you did. Now some of the older students worked in the offices of the various people or helped in the laboratories. At that time they had a bakery and a dairy.
MIMI CONWAY:
Why do you think they glorified labor? I mean, you know, there are lots of reasons; there are schools today that do that [laughter] to get cheap labor.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
No. Many Berea students needed the money. (I needed to earn as much as possible.) I think labor was glorified because of those students who had to work in order to pay their expenses. In the President's report today, they make a very small amount from student labor. The wage laws changed all that; they had to pay more. But they don't have as much student labor as they once did. They have sold the dairy and most of their farm. In spite of the fact that Berea is for the hill people, it's really on the edge of the Bluegrass. You can see the hills. And I don't know how many hundreds of acres they had and still have in the hills, and they had a large campus. At the time I went there they had college, a normal school, an academy, I think a school of music. I'm not certain. They did teach a good deal of music, especially singing to those with voices. And they also had what they called a Foundation School. At that time there was a need for it. It was a place for any sixteen-year-old who wasn't ready for high school, or perhaps could

Page 53
scarcely read and write, to come to Berea. He might work all his way, or only a part of it. And he could learn. It was at that time a great thing, but as public schools improved in the hills, the Foundation School was no longer needed. And I think now Berea has only the college. It no longer has an academy. Berea has changed in many other ways.
MIMI CONWAY:
How did you feel both about the working and about their attitude toward working?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
I disliked their attitude toward work. At home I had worked, done errands and helped in the garden and helped with the milking, done all kinds of work. But I did it because it was needed; it was something to be done. And we—my mother and everybody—we were glad when the work was finished. We could sit down and read or do whatever we wished, go to the woods or anything. We were free, and work was not glorified. As I said earlier, my father had this expression, "A mule can pull." Anybody can work if the work doesn't amount to anything. Of course, most of Berea's work did; most of that work went either to feed the students, on the farm and the dairy and the bakery—I think they sold milk, too-or for things to sell, as in the woodworking shop and the Fireside Industries.
MIMI CONWAY:
Later in your work, either explicitly or implicitly, you deal with alienation, and a lot of the alienation you deal with has to do with alienation of work. And I wondered if this experience at Berea. . . . I mean, for example, in The Dollmaker, the difference between Gertie Nevels' whittling out of love and of just...

Page 54
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Work? I don't think any experience at Berea affected my writing.
MIMI CONWAY:
...work. And then having to saw them in a way that she doesn't feel pleased with the work; it's a way to get money. This attitude that you're talking about coming in contact with in Berea, a glorification of something that in your life up to then had just been part of your life; it wasn't something separate. Was that a first experience, or was it an early experience, or an experience at all of alienation?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
I don't quite know. I didn't mind the work. The second year I was at Berea I worked most of my way. I was a student matron in a kitchen. Now how or why; I knew nothing about such things. I learned a whole lot. I enjoyed that work. I enjoyed my work at Fireside. The supervisor watched me like a hawk for the first few days, so afraid I'd make a wrong cut. Well, when I didn't, she praised my work, and when I quit she said she was very sorry to see me go. She'd hoped I would stay. When I went to Fireside, I'd hoped I could learn more, perhaps learn to weave. But as it turned out, I was just measuring and cutting linen for towels day after day. I did the job all right. And I think the girls who hemstitched did the same thing day after day. And I didn't mind the work. I didn't like dishwashing. It was the constant praise of work...
MIMI CONWAY:
That's what I meant.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
...that got on my nerves. Still, I realized that Berea's work program made education possible for students who without

Page 55
it could not have attended school. The then wages of five or ten cents an hour now seem very low, but at that time many unskilled hill men were earning fifty cents or a dollar for a ten-hour day. Berea has changed with the times, though even then I had some excellent teachers.
MIMI CONWAY:
Did you feel annoyed with, or angry with, or did you feel like those people who were teaching you or who were the head of labor at the school didn't really know what work was, or they wouldn't be glorifying it?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
I felt that way sometime, because I knew about work. I remember the errands up the hill, maybe carrying a load of something downtown and getting tired. I remember working in the garden. I knew what work was. We just never glorified it, as I say.
MIMI CONWAY:
Now you were at Berea from '24 till '26.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Yes.
MIMI CONWAY:
And then you went in '26, when you were eighteen, to teach in Pulaski County in Kentucky.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
In a rural school. I learned more that year than in any year in my life, I think. I didn't appreciate all the learning, but I learned a lot.
MIMI CONWAY:
What were the circumstances for your leaving Berea? Why did you leave Berea?

Page 56
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
For one thing, Mama wanted me to start teaching. Elizabeth had taught two years and was going [unknown] to the University of Kentucky. Mama thought it was time I was out on my own, earning my way. And I wanted to leave Berea; I would have left Berea anyway, I'm reasonably certain. I know that Berea has done a lot of good and meant well, I suppose, with all our rigid rules, but in all my time at Berea I never found another person the least bit interested in writing. And I did, at times, feel alienated, not only from Berea but the whole world. So I had my teacher's certificate, and I was to teach. But I taught only two years, and then I went to the University of Louisville, which I loved. There was no dormitory. I stayed uptown in the YWCA. I didn't especially love the YWCA, but it was in the center of town [unknown] not far from the Brown Hotel that had a theater on the second floor where there was a stock company. I had belonged to the Theater Club or something at Berea, but I never really acted; I was over in the costumes and this and that. But it was almost my first opportunity to see good plays on a live stage. There was also an excellent public library of Louisville so close I could walk over. The University of Louisville had a good library. And above all, I enjoyed my teachers and I met students, as I said, who were interested in writing.
MIMI CONWAY:
Were you twenty-six when you went to the University of Louisville?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
No. Let me see.

Page 57
MIMI CONWAY:
Oh, no, I'm sorry. You were twenty. You were only twenty years old. That's right. It was 1928. You were twenty.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Yes. I got my degree in 1930.
MIMI CONWAY:
Was it a very big shock—to use an expression not from that period, a "culture shock"—having gone to work in the rural school in Pulaski County and experiencing that year, and then going to this other place?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
I don't know. I'd hoped Berea would be something like [interruption]
MIMI CONWAY:
I was just going to ask you, that year when you were teaching in Pulaski County?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Yes, the first year.
MIMI CONWAY:
Right. What was the most memorable thing that happened that year to you?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
They told me I was the first teacher they'd had to stay all year there. Remember this was 1924 and '25; it was a very remote community in a bend in the Cumberland River about eight miles from a railway, a flag stop; so it was easier to walk. All the way home was only about fourteen miles, and I walked it quite often. I stayed in the community during the week. I had a nice boarding place. It was a big old log house, two-storied with a little fireplace in my room.
MIMI CONWAY:
Was it a family?

Page 58
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
It was a family, yes, and the children went to school. It was a small school. When the weather was bad, I might have only the two children where I boarded. They'd go with me to school, and we would stay there all day. I had good, well-behaved pupils. They worried me sometimes. The boys enjoyed climbing trees, and to see all your boys in the tops of high trees and some of them in hickories, high, high, and hear, "I'll see if this will swing down." And if the hickory wouldn't swing down, I'd begin to wonder what the boy would do [laughter]. Just hang over? But not one of them was ever hurt. They knew their trees and the woods.
MIMI CONWAY:
I think I remember your writing in one of the Cumberland books that you had never taken a note until, I think, you were eighteen or something like that, when you took notes on a bucket. Is this totally unfamiliar to you? (Laugh) What I'm trying to ask you is, if you took notes. In other words, you wrote such a wonderful book coming out of that, and I wondered if you were consciously writing a book and consciously taking notes. The opening descriptions, for example, when you talk about what it's like to stumble into things, and, oh, even asking about corn can be dangerous, if you don't suspect they're moonshiners. Did you take notes all the time?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
No. I did attempt later to write some descriptions of things. I remember the quietness on a Saturday when the dogs would be asleep, and every day the housewife was eternally, everlastingly

Page 59
busy, but it would be so quiet, you know. And I enjoyed the quietness. And many, many things about the place. I didn't have sense enough at the time, however, to understand all I heard. Like there was then an old-time Baptist minister.
[END OF TAPE 2, SIDE B]

[TAPE 3, SIDE A]

[START OF TAPE 3, SIDE A]
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
...an older man, and he insisted on calling me "Mistress Simpson." And I would say, "Well, I'm Miss." He continued to call me Mistress.
I quit correcting him. Well, it was years later before I learned there was a period in English history when "Mistress" was a title of respect, a long, long time ago. And he was giving me that title because I was the schoolteacher. Most of the children never called me by my name; they just called me "Teacher," and that was that. And there were so many other words I either misused or heard for the first time. Some were of their own invention, like they mention that So-and-so is walking with a boy, and she's been walking with him a long time, and they asked me, "Do you have any boy you walk with?" And I in time learned that their use of "walking" meant courting seriously. I suppose it arose because one of the few places you could court was walking home from church or walking to church together. And they had a cave with a cold spring running through it and then down, and they used to keep watermelons in there during the summer. I came home from school one hot day, and they asked me if I wouldn't like some good cold watermelon. I said, "Oh,

Page 60
yes, I've been craving"—why I used the word, I don't know—I said, "I've been craving watermelon all day." And the woman laughed, and the girl, who was much more knowledgeable than I was at that age, tittered. And I learned in time that they had one meaning for the word "craving," a pregnant woman's supposed desire for a certain kind of food. That was the one meaning, and I don't know whether they ever thought I was pregnant or not.
[interruption]
MIMI CONWAY:
I think we're talking about when you were in Pulaski County, and you were talking about how it was the year that you learned the most in your life. Did you take notes at the time, some notes?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
No, I took no notes. I did, to practice writing, write some descriptions of scenes and things. You see, this was a remote place, a log house, and many of the things they used were much like those of the pioneers. For example, I had never seen a watering trough made of the hollowed-out trunk of a poplar tree.
MIMI CONWAY:
Oh, wow.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
And other things around. I was especially intrigued by their language. They were as definite as Shakespeare. For example, the children never said "tree"; they named the tree: white oak, black oak, post oak, poplar, they knew them all.
MIMI CONWAY:
Now this was in fact a place only fifteen miles from Burnside.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
That is right.
MIMI CONWAY:
Was it for you the first close contact you'd had with hill people?

Page 61
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Well, yes and no. My people were hill people, after a fashion, but I had never been in a community that was so remote. Though Burnside was only fifteen miles away, it was on the railway—this place was not—Burnside had also been served by steamboats since 1833. It was more or less in the world. Like at home, we had a daily newspaper and magazines and books and other things we could buy.
MIMI CONWAY:
Right. And also you had doctors and dentists, isn't that right?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
In Burnside, yes, but not these people. Most of them had never been to a physician or a dentist.
MIMI CONWAY:
Did people in Burnside travel to other places? I mean, it wasn't unusual for people from Burnside to go to other towns.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
No, they often went north. Well, everybody went to the county seat town of Somerset—that was a short distance—but many went to Lexington. The Southern Railway due north to Cincinnati or south to Chattanooga. It was interesting, among my people and in that town: their faces had, for over fifty years, been turned south to Nashville. That's where the steamboats went, where the steamboats came from. They could take a packet to Nashville and from there get another packet and go wherever they wished in the Mississippi Valley, even up to Pittsburgh.
MIMI CONWAY:
Now when you went to teach in the school in Pulaski County, what was the name of the town or the actual place?

Page 62
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Well, they called it Possum Trot School. I've forgotten if it had a better name; I don't know.
MIMI CONWAY:
Was that also the name of the place, Possum Trot?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Was it Hargis? No. Perhaps it was Hargis; I've forgotten. I should know, because there was a post office there, where the mail came three times each week in saddlebags on a mule. And rarely did one see a wagon, and my schoolchildren, most of them, had never at that time seen an automobile, the road was so rough. Most of the men, however, had. They'd go to Somerset. And they did most of what they called the "trading": they didn't use the word "shopping". They traded. This, I think, arose from the fact that they usually had something to sell. It was too far away for milk and butter, but they could, as I say, trade eggs at a small store across the river. Others dug ginseng—it was about all gone—dried it and sold it to a company in Burnside. Some dug yellow root and May apple root. There were few furbearing animals left, but several of the boys sold raccoon and opossum hides.
MIMI CONWAY:
How did these people feel about you coming in? Do you know how they reacted to you? Were you as unusual in your education and in coming from Burnside as if you had come from four or five hundred miles, from outside the whole culture?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
I think they thought I was peculiar. On the other hand, I tried very hard. I stayed over many weekends. When they went to church, I went to church with them. We had a bit of trouble with speech sometimes. Most of the

Page 63
younger children used the word "ungen" for "onion" and other words which I had never heard and didn't have sense enough to know. I just thought, "Queer!" Like they'd say, "So-and-so carried his wagon to town to the railway," and it seemed queer to me, and then later I found the word "carry", meaning to go with or to take, in Shakespeare. Had I had an Oxford English Dictionary, unabridged, with me, I would have understood a great deal more and appreciated a great deal more.
MIMI CONWAY:
Did you take notes on the words that you were learning then, or was that later?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
No. I just remembered because I was in the back hills again, and I heard such language again and listened for it. It's about all gone now.
MIMI CONWAY:
Also, I know from your education, with a concentration on memorizing in the young years...
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Yes.
MIMI CONWAY:
...and also I think you mentioned that your father memorized a lot...
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Yes.
MIMI CONWAY:
...and I've heard you recite passages that are from memory. Do you still memorize things?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Much less than I used to, and the sad thing is I have forgotten most of what I once knew. I was trying the other day to recite a few lines from "Dover Beach". You know, it's very applicable to this time in which we live. I never got it right. Like "Ah, love, let us be true to one another/for the world which seems To lie about us

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like a land of dreams, So various, so beautiful, so new, Hath really neither love, nor joy, nor light, Nor certitude, nor help for pain; We are met as on a darkling plain Swept by the confused alarm of struggle and flight, Where ignorant armies clash by night." That is not accurate; I've just forgotten it. It was one of my favorite. . . . And other parts; you know, the metaphor of the ebb tide and the ebb of faith, mankind's faith and faith in. . . . It was an applicable poem during the Great Depression in the thirties. I earned my bachelor's degree almost at the beginning of the Depression. But I don't remember [unknown] so many things. I don't even know all the Mother Goose anymore; I used to know all those rhymes, I could recite to the children. Now I've forgotten most of them.
MIMI CONWAY:
But you spent two years there, and then you went to the University of Louisville and graduated in the nineteen-thirties?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Yes, I received a bachelor's degree in 1930.
MIMI CONWAY:
When you were twenty-two?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
I wanted, after my first term of teaching, to return to that remote place. I liked the people, and they seemed to like me. But our mother stepped in and secured for me what she thought was a great plum; that was the "principal", so-called, of a two-room school at Tateville, close enough I could walk home. I didn't care for that at all, because nothing was different; nothing was strange. These children lived by the railway. So I only at that time spent one year in this particular place.

Page 65
MIMI CONWAY:
And that was in 1931? You only spent one year there.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
No, I was teaching in a different place in 1931. You see, this small rural school, I taught it when I was eighteen years old, after two years at Berea.
MIMI CONWAY:
And then you went to the University of Louisville.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Then I taught this other school I mentioned and then attended the University of Louisville for two years.
MIMI CONWAY:
And then after that was when you were the principal.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Of a small high school, yes.
MIMI CONWAY:
And then after that, when you were twenty-six in 1934, you went to teach at a junior high school in Louisville?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
I went to Louisville in early 1933. I was not yet twenty-five. I lasted only one semester. I was sick; I had some kind of virus. I didn't like the work. I don't think the principal cared for me. And I did manage to hang on until the last of the year; then I was in the hospital. It was only one semester. I had always wanted to teach in Louisville, realized I was no better there. I had quit the job at the small high school, which I later regretted, and gone to Louisville in the middle of the year. The community where the small high school was, out from Somerset, was a very different one from the remote community where I first taught. The people had books, newspapers, magazines, and on the whole were farther up, I'd say, the educational, social, and economic scale.
MIMI CONWAY:
But it sounds like you've always had a pull between city—perhaps from growing up in a town with the steamboats and the railway—

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and the country.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Yes.
MIMI CONWAY:
And it sounds like that was one of the times you had felt a pull. I don't know.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
It was, because I wanted to get back to Louisville. The country can be rather lonely in a way. I can always find some rapport with another human being—we're all human beings—but at the same time I like to be in a place with a library, where people are doing and thinking somewhat the way I am. But I didn't find that in the Louisville junior high school.
MIMI CONWAY:
Did you find it in Louisville, though?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Yes, I did, at the University of Louisville. I think we discussed that yesterday.
MIMI CONWAY:
Yeah, we did.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Where there were others interested in writing. I had teachers. . . .
MIMI CONWAY:
Now another thing is, about that time you were about twenty-four, and I wondered if there would have been a pull between. . . . I mean, if you went back to the Pulaski County school, you would have had a hard time meeting other people about your age. Had you ever met any young mountain man that you would have...
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
No, I don't think so. No, I'm sure. The men I went with in Cincinnati were young writers. And I just wasn't attracted in the mountains. And I think, too, there were very few young men around. They felt I was a curiosity, [unknown] in a way, except that I was

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female and human. So I had no romances in the hills, I'm sorry to say.
MIMI CONWAY:
After you were teaching junior high in Louisville, you spent a summer at Conway Inn in Michigan?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Yes.
MIMI CONWAY:
I think that was in 1934, when you were twenty-six?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Wait a minute. No, no, I was almost twenty-five. I was twenty-two— [unknown] I lost two years teaching—after leaving the [unknown] University of Louisville. I taught a year and a half in the small high school.
MIMI CONWAY:
What was the name of that?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
It was called Colo, in another part of the county. And at the middle of the year I went to Louisville and taught only one semester. So I would have been twenty-five, I believe. I had been to Conway Inn one summer when I was in college, while I was at the University of Louisville. I worked up there one summer. I loved the place.
MIMI CONWAY:
How did you happen to go to that place?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
I don't know. I met some woman who knew about it or knew the people, and she suggested I go, that it would be a wonderful place to spend the summer.
MIMI CONWAY:
And you worked there as a waitress?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
I worked as a waitress. Our hours were short. Then we could go swimming or canoeing or do whatever we wished to do. And northern Michigan was a revelation to me. I'd never seen birches,

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so many, you know. And the lakes and everything else; I just loved it. Conway is a small place near Petoskey on Crooked Lake.
I would go down to Petoskey sometimes with the manager of the hotel, who went daily to buy fresh lake trout for the guests. And sometimes I would go with her. And at that time the Indians would come around with baskets to sell. I have the pieces of an old one; I'm crazy about basketry, though I've never tried to make one. And they would also sell wild raspberries and blueberries, which had an entirely different flavor and were better than the raspberries which came earlier and the blueberries and raspberries which are cultivated.
MIMI CONWAY:
Did you start to write Mountain Path when you were in Michigan?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Yes, the second time I was in Michigan. Mrs. Trask, I told her I wanted to write.
MIMI CONWAY:
She was the manager? Yeah.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
In addition to the hotel, she had several cottages where guests could stay and either cook their meals or come over to the dining room. [unknown] And she told me I could have one of her cottages, and I stayed, I guess, until about November. And the leaves fell, and the lake. . . . You know, it gets cold quite soon up there. It was beautiful. They spent their winters in Florida, so I thought I'd better be getting on. [unknown] I was working on Mountain Path. I came down to Cincinnati. Now that summer I think I was twenty-five

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years old. That's right.
MIMI CONWAY:
Was that in 1934 that you went to Cincinnati?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
No, that would have been the autumn of 1933.
MIMI CONWAY:
Okay.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
I think that's right.
MIMI CONWAY:
Now why did you go to Cincinnati?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
I don't know why. I really never thought a lot about it, but it was a bigger place than Louisville, and I knew it had a great library, and I really don't know why. I thought about going to New York or somewhere, but Cincinnati was my Left Bank. And the first things I published [unknown] were short stories in the little literary magazines, so-called. You were paid in copies. Then I felt that I was on top of the world when I sold a story to the old Southern Review. Robert Penn Warren was then editor; it was before his novel. I've forgotten the name; I liked the book. It was about the tobacco war in West Kentucky. Oh, I felt I had reached the top. And I was still working on Mountain Path. An editor, Harold Strauss, of Covici Friede. [unknown] I don't know, I've forgotten which story, or perhaps he read more than one—they follow those little literary magazines— wrote and asked if I had a long manuscript. I did, and I sent it to him. And as it then was, it was mostly a series of character sketches. I always start with characters. And he suggested I put action in it to make a novel out of it. He didn't tell me what action, but I stopped everything and wrote, wrote, wrote. [unknown] I was

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so proud. [unknown] Covici Friede soon went out of business, but they were the original publishers of John Steinbeck. They published, I think, Of Mice and Men, which was later made into a film, I believe, or perhaps it was a theater production. And his other shorter books. The one about Cannery Row, you know, and those others. And his book that aroused such widespread acclaim had not yet been published. In my mind I know the name of it; it's about the migration of the...
MIMI CONWAY:
The Grapes of Wrath.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
The Grapes of Wrath, of course. It had not yet been published.
MIMI CONWAY:
When you began to publish, did it change your personal relationships? I mean, were you sort of lionized? I mean, you know, because you were, I think, twenty-six or so, and here you were published.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
I was twenty-eight. I began the book when was twenty-five, and it was three years before I had a book published, the quickest I've ever done a book. No, not a great deal, as I remember. The newspapers were interested, and they wrote stories about me. I remember one that my mother saw. My father was dead; he died when I was twenty-one. And she was furious. It had a headline "Waitress Writes Book." Now I had taught longer than I'd been a waitress, and I had been working in short hours in a bookstore. [unknown] That was more exciting, "Waitress Writes Book", and Mama was furious. It was respectable to be a teacher, work yourself to death in Louisville. I only received one hundred a month. Of course, teachers with tenure

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received more. And I could make that much—that's twenty-five dollars a week—I could make more than that as a waitress, working short hours. But it's part of the pattern of life in a small town. Most of the townspeople were proud of me; I was surprised.
MIMI CONWAY:
In Burnside. But did your mother give you a hard time about writing?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
She didn't object so much to The Dollmaker, but she and some of my sisters didn't like the idea of Mountain Path at all. The story about a waitress was bad enough, but, she said, the town would think I'd fallen in love with a moonshiner and so on and so forth. They'd think everything in that book had happened to me. Well, that did worry me a bit at the time, but I've realized since, no matter what you write there are people who think it is autobiographical. Some are certain I was Millie in Hunter's Horn and poor Harold was Nunley D. Ballew. But Harold never had a fox hound.
MIMI CONWAY:
[laughter]
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Well, that's beside the point. An editor came to see me shortly—a Macmillan man—before the publication of The Dollmaker. He said, "Oh, I'm surprised to see such a small woman." I wanted to say, "Well, why in the hell shouldn't I be small?"
MIMI CONWAY:
[laughter]
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
My grandmother could stand under my father's arm. I apparently inherited her stature.

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But he was thinking, [unknown] I suppose, that I was Gertie.
MIMI CONWAY:
But you early got over that difficult. . . . I mean, I think that is a very inhibiting factor in beginning fiction, when you have strong family ties, the worrying that people you love and care about will say, "What are you doing thinking those things?" or "What are you doing painting me?"
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Yes, and what made it so hard on my mother, here I was prepared to teach, I had a degree, I'd given up a good job in the county—teacher in this small high school—I'd had another job in Louisville. I don't know that my principal would have asked me to return. [unknown] I was pretty much a failure there. One reason why is that I had a low-grade virus, the doctor said, and he couldn't get rid of it. My throat. But it was eminently respectable to starve as a teacher, but not respectable to starve as a waitress or a writer. Teachers' salaries are much higher now in Kentucky.
MIMI CONWAY:
But now how did you feel? I mean, did you feel really close to your mother and torn, that there was a conflict between what you wanted to do and...
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Not a great deal. It was only when I was [unknown] home, I'm ashamed to say. I was caught up in writing, and in Cincinnati I met others who were struggling and writing and this and that. And also the townspeople, some of them were very proud of the book, and they helped.
MIMI CONWAY:
In Cincinnati is where you met Harold, your husband, is

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that right?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Yes.
MIMI CONWAY:
Did you meet him in 1928, or how old were you when you met him?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Oh, let me see. I guess I was twenty-nine when we met.
MIMI CONWAY:
You married him when you were thirty-one.
[END OF TAPE 3, SIDE A]

[TAPE 3, SIDE B]

[START OF TAPE 3, SIDE B]
MIMI CONWAY:
You were telling me about meeting Harold.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Harold came to Cincinnati hoping to get a job on the Times-Star, I believe is the paper. [Audio Missing. Text provided in transcript.]He'd worked for three or four years in Chicago. [unknown] It was the Depression, and he was out. Before that he'd spent three years in Alaska, which intrigued me. Alaska then was not what it is now.
MIMI CONWAY:
Where in Alaska had he been?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
He was on the I want to say Susitna Peninsula, but that wasn't the name of the place.
MIMI CONWAY:
Was he writing up there, is that what he was doing?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Yes, he had done quite a bit of writing. He was working on a novel about Alaska, a trapper there, but he never did finish it. That's one thing that drew us together: he was working on a novel, and I was thinking about writing another one. It wasn't but about a year after Mountain Path was published. But he never finished that

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book. Harold and I married, and we were both fired with this stupid idea. There were a good many books written about getting away from it all. I remember one called The Egg and I and another one called We Took to the Woods. And we thought it would be a great thing to do subsistence farming and write, so we bought an abandoned farm—it was owned by a bank—about a hundred fifty or sixty acres, a most beautiful place with an old, old log house in it, well made. It was on Little Indian Creek, up Big South Fork, of Cumberland River.
MIMI CONWAY:
This was in 1939.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Yes. That's right. We married in early March.
[Text Missing]
MIMI CONWAY:
Was your mother there, or your sister?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
No, we just went off and got married. After all, it was Depression, and we felt we should save all our money for this farm we were talking about.
MIMI CONWAY:
Did you get married in a church?

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HARRIETTE ARNOW:
No, we were married, I'm sorry to say, by a justice of the peace.
MIMI CONWAY:
Why "sorry to say"?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Well, I didn't like the idea at all, the things to go through with. It embarrassed our mother because there was no announcement in the county paper that So-and-so was going to marry So-and-so, you know and this and that. But...
MIMI CONWAY:
But was your mother pleased that you married [unknown] ?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
No, she was not.
MIMI CONWAY:
Why?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Well, she was never pleased when any of us married. I don't know why. And none of us married at home.
MIMI CONWAY:
Huh.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Two of the others, Sister Lucy and Sister Sarah, had proper weddings, you know, though not at home, and relatives of the family were there. Mama didn't go. Their weddings were previously announced in the local...
MIMI CONWAY:
Why didn't your mother go?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Well, she didn't feel like it. She wasn't feeling well, I suppose was her reason. And Sister Margaret—we called her Peggy—graduated from high school in June—she was the third girl—and, much to the surprise and shock of our family, she ran away and married in August, I guess. She and her husband got along fine and had two wonderful children. She married before I did, of course.

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MIMI CONWAY:
Had your mother met Harold before you married?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
No. No, I took him down a short time after we were married. I'm not sure I wrote her. She did have a good heart, or she might have had a heart attack. I guess I wrote her before that I was bringing my husband down. I don't think I went there cold. He still talks about how frightened he was.
MIMI CONWAY:
Yeah, I can. . . . How did it go?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
It went all right. I mean whatever feelings Mama had about a stranger or a visitor, she was lady enough she wouldn't show them or make a scene or anything like that.
MIMI CONWAY:
I wanted to ask you just to go back for a minute about Cincinnati. Now that was during the Depression years that you were there. What was Cincinnati like during the Depression?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
It was mostly the people I knew. It was a sad place for many of them. I knew some writers, one who was writing for Sunday school magazines—you're familiar with those—for a quarter or half a cent a word. Others were writing for the pulp magazines for a cent a word. I knew a girl who was a salesgirl at a large department store. I had rooms in a place, and she lived there. She always dressed nicely and was pretty. But some days she didn't make one sale, and she knew if she didn't make a few sales that her time as a salesgirl would be up. But it was Louisville where I saw. . . . I had some money, but not a lot. That was when I was at the University of Louisville, I guess. Yes, because I graduated in 1930, and a bank

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closed, and the people standing around. They weren't rioting, although the riot police on horseback were out riding around. They just looked bewildered and lost and unhappy. That's the most definite picture I have.
MIMI CONWAY:
Did you feel sort of bewildered or confused, or were you personally affected by the Depression?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
No, I don't think so. Of course, I was working as a waitress, but I had been teaching before the Depression for about seventy dollars a month. Kentucky teachers' [unknown] salaries have gone up [unknown] —that's still not big money—just an ordinary teacher gets seven and eight thousand dollars now, but then it was about seventy dollars a month.
MIMI CONWAY:
But then there were also times when you made a hundred dollars a month teaching?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Oh, yes, I made more than seventy dollars a month when I taught in the small high school. I think my pay was over a hundred a month. And in Louisville it was only a hundred.
MIMI CONWAY:
In either Louisville or in Cincinnati—at least I know about Cincinnati; I don't know very much about Louisville at that time—was there much political activity? You know, I mean the thirties was a very politically active period.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
I guess I was out of that. There was an awful lot of proletarian literature published, but I don't recall any political activity. I was absorbed, I think—I only read about it then in the

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papers—by what was happening in the eastern Kentucky coal fields. The big struggle then was for unions. When so many men were killed in Harlan and other places and the county law officers took the side of the mine owners. And the strikers were shot. They did a pretty good job, though. The railways would bring in scabs, and the strikers wouldn't let them out of the cars; it was hard on everybody.
MIMI CONWAY:
Did you feel drawn to go there and write about it?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
I thought about it, and I guess. . . . [unknown] It wasn't really settled until 1942, if I'm correct, by a court decision. They had the right to unionize. And I thought about going to Harlan. I often wish I had. I thought I could go; [unknown] they didn't like strangers in there, but I was young, a girl, female, and I thought about going to Harlan or some other place and trying to get a job as a waitress, learn all I could of [unknown] coal fields, miners or operators or anything else, [unknown] and write a book about the struggle.
MIMI CONWAY:
A novel or...
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
A novel. And you know, I can't think of one novel that was written about a coal miners' strike in the United States. I had read [unknown] Zola's Germinal, that wonderful picture of strikers. Of course, I didn't believe in doing what the union organizer did, you know, ruining the shafts so that water poured into the mines and drowned several miners. But it's still a great book. Germinal, [unknown] I'm quite sure; that is the name, isn't it? And I dreamed of writing

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another book. It wouldn't be like Germinal, because things were different. But I never did even go to Harlan.
MIMI CONWAY:
In different times and places, I think I mentioned to you that I met some of the students, the high school kids from Whitesburg who you talked to.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Yes.
MIMI CONWAY:
And I guess that was last year.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Yes.
MIMI CONWAY:
In '75. Of course, they admired you greatly, again mostly for The Dollmaker. And you said, "Now I wrote the wrong novel. You are the children of the miners; you write the novel." And did you mean by that for them to write a novel like what you're talking about? In other words, the mountain family or coal family or whatever, that your whole thing was the road and the migrations and the changes, but for them to write a story or a novel about the people who stayed and are still fighting battles in the coal fields?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Yes, fighting battles for safety. Well, I wasn't suggesting that they try to write novels such as Zola had done, but write about their lives, the things they know. We've had so few realistic novels out of the Kentucky hills.
MIMI CONWAY:
Do you think you still would like to do that?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
I don't know; I've thought about it. It would be from the point of a wife or mother at home, a life warped by the careless loss of men. You see, I'm not acquainted with people who work in

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the mines. On the other hand, James Still wrote an excellent book called River of Earth about a coal-mining family.
It showed the hardship and the hunger when the mines were closed and the man couldn't get a job, and the gentle struggle of the wife. They'd moved to a place where they'd have some land and she could have a garden, and he would work in the mines nearby. Then those mines would close or he would be out—something happened—and she would want to stay. She would tell him, "We could live on the land." "No." Then they'd move to a mining town where there was just a bit of bare earth before her home and nothing. That book is little known, though it's a great story.
MIMI CONWAY:
I've seen some of the journalistic work you've done. For example, we talked earlier about "No Rats in the Mines" that you wrote for The Nation in, I think, 1970. In the late twenties and thirties, did you think in terms of writing journalistically about what was going on with the mines or anywhere else?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
A bit. Mostly, however, I was interested in a novel. But I wanted to find out what was going on; no one knew. I read years later in a Harlan newspaper the following incident. [unknown] Miners were fighting for a union. Some were killed and others wounded. So they sent for an ambulance. And the ambulance came, as I recall, and also an undertaker's thing, you know, to carry away the dead. And when these vehicles reached the proper place—the miners were there watching—the men inside [unknown] opened fire.

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They had slipped in under guise of help for the dead and the dying; [unknown] years later I read in a Harlan paper, somebody running for office, who [unknown] was denying. . . . He said tales had been told that he was with the gang that rode in the undertaker's outfit, but he was not. And I know there are a great many stories. I don't know the truth of that at all. But in reading the life of Mother Jones. . . . Did you ever hear of Mother Jones?
MIMI CONWAY:
Oh, yes, I love
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
In West Virginia, [unknown] I've never been able to get the second volume of her life. But she tells of the terrible things that went on in West Virginia. For example, in the big mines the miners lived in company-owned homes on company land. And the moment they struck, they were evicted because a non-working miner could no longer live on company land. So they would go off somewhere and set up tents or live without tents, and the sheriff's men would evict them from that place because the land belonged to the company. And in her life she tells about tents that held women and children being fired upon.
MIMI CONWAY:
Again, your interest was with that, and you were following what was going on with the unions and such.
Were you politically active at all during this period or other periods?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
No, I don't recall that I was politically active at all. The most you heard about in the literary world was proletarianism.
MIMI CONWAY:
Yeah, I think somewhere we mentioned this. Is it true

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that near the place you were working as a waitress, near that restaurant, there was a newsstand that sold The Daily Worker and [unknown] New Masses, and was that the first time you'd seen such publications?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Yes, I read those. I read some proletarian novels, and what I read didn't jive with my upbringing and individualism: man is responsible for his own acts. Also, most of this, especially The New Masses and The Daily Worker, talked of the proletariat as if they were just a herd, like cattle, with no minds of their own, with no thoughts, and they were to be guided and driven, gently, of course, to greener pastures; that was the purpose. And I couldn't see treating people in such fashion. I mean, even though they never spoke of force or any cruelty, but thinking of the masses of people not as individuals with minds of their own, but as one great herd of proletariat, it sickened me.
MIMI CONWAY:
Did it make you in any way remember when you were at Berea, when they glorified work, and it was not terribly connected with what you knew of work?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
No, proletarian writers [unknown] glorified the worker; the work didn't appear to matter. Just to be a worker appeared to be. . . . Of course, there were some that weren't too bad.
I read Gorky at that time, in translation.
MIMI CONWAY:
One story that I wanted to ask you about, that I thought fits in with what you're talking about, your feelings about individualism.

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Could you tell me about the time when you were working at the factory when you were at Berea, and there was, I think, a teacher who questioned you when you were at work.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
No. They don't call Fireside Industries a factory at Berea. It was a tourist attraction and craft shop. You see, up and down the road from Berea there are signs inviting tourists to stop, and so many tourists came to Fireside Industries to watch the girls at work. And it was a tourist—not a teacher—who asked me if my parents could read or write. And I just felt I'd fly all to pieces with that. I thought of how they read, the books they'd bought for us—there was no library in our town—the magazines; any spare time they had, they were reading or talking of what they had read. And then to be asked a question like that just because I was at Berea. I suppose I looked rather stupid, was the only reason I could think of for asking that.
MIMI CONWAY:
So what did you say to the tourist?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
I just told a whopping big lie. I wanted to be rid of that woman. I said, "No." She was staring at me [unknown] as if I'd been a curious little insect or big insect she'd never seen before. And I thought if I said, "Yes, they read; they write," she would have asked, "Well, what do they read?" and I wanted her away. I didn't want to talk to her anymore. I gave her the answer that pleased her, and that was the end of her. She went on to watch and stare at the girls who were weaving.
MIMI CONWAY:
And didn't you mention something about that the effect of

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that for you was that you would never be a tourist, when you wrote about people that you would never ask direct and personal questions? Is that, or could you tell me what. . . .
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
I thought not only that I'd never be a tourist to go around and stare at others, but in my own world I would never stare at people or treat them as if they were of a different species from mine. And I remembered that when I taught in the back hills, not to stare at the bare feet of children who came to school.

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MIMI CONWAY:
Was Marcella born at home when you were living with Harold at...
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Yes, we were still living at the place where we went to do subsistence farming. No, she wasn't born at home. Mama was so worried, and she was born at my home with my mother.
MIMI CONWAY:
In Burnside.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Yes.
MIMI CONWAY:
Was your mother the midwife, or did you have a granny-lady or...
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Oh, no, Mama never believed in that. Even my grandmothers had doctors from Monticello. So we, of course, had a physician.
MIMI CONWAY:
But she was born in the house that you had lived in.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Yes. The closest hospital at that time was Lexington.
MIMI CONWAY:
And then how long did you live on that farm, and did you leave because it was remote for the children for things like doctors' care?

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HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Tom was born in Providence Hospital in Detroit in `46. The War came. My husband was not accepted as a soldier. He was thirty-five. And all other men were leaving, and it was difficult. We were still doing subsistence farming. So he went to Detroit. He'd worked on newspapers in Chicago, so he came to Detroit. And I stayed on a few months in the farm, long enough to sell the cattle and so forth, but I didn't want to be down there alone with Marcella. She developed a serious throat infection and ran a high temperature. I was scared to death before I could get her to the doctor in Burnside; that was the closest doctor. So I sold the cattle and lived in Burnside until he could find a place for us, and at that time all he could find was in a public housing development.
MIMI CONWAY:
Which housing development was it?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Emerson Homes in the northeastern part of Detroit.
MIMI CONWAY:
What kinds of people lived in that? I mean I know that

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housing was very short in that period, but what kinds of people lived in that...
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
There were all manner of people there. I lived near the wives and children of a mailer on the Detroit News, a minister, a policeman, and factory workers.
MIMI CONWAY:
Were there mountain people that had migrated up?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
No, I never met one person from the hills. There were two families from the South; one was from southern Georgia, and I think the other was from Alabama. But most of the people around were native Detroiters. It was difficult to get a place in a housing development as the War went on, and there were Polish Americans who had grown up in nearby Hamtramck.
[END OF TAPE 3, SIDE B]

[TAPE 4, SIDE A]

[START OF TAPE 4, SIDE A]
MIMI CONWAY:
When we didn't have the tape on, we were talking about one of the difficulties with writing are people who insist on thinking that it's autobiographical, in other words, the people who are surprised that you're 4′11″ instead of a rawboned Gertie Nevilles. And I think you mentioned that there was a woman. . . . Could you tell me about the woman who called you up and said, "Homer's my son-in-law," and then the woman who said you wrote about Willow Run. Could you tell me a little bit about that?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
That was the same woman. Oh, some months—it's been

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quite a while ago, but The Dollmaker had been out long enough to get around—and a strange woman telephoned one day to tell me...
MIMI CONWAY:
[laughter]
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
...the background of the book: the housing development was Willow Run, the place where they made Flying Fortresses; many hill people lived there. I said no, I had never been in Willow Run. The background was a Detroit housing project; I believe the name was Emerson Homes, wartime housing. She said no, she was certain it was Willow Run because Homer was her son-in-law.
MIMI CONWAY:
[laughter]
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Homer is a minor character in the book, if you remember...
MIMI CONWAY:
Yes, he's doing graduate work and studying people in the same way the tourist studied you.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Yes. He studied people as if they were bugs under the microscope. And his wife, you recall, didn't feel that way. It was useless to tell that to the woman on the telephone. She practically called me a liar, you see, and I didn't feel like arguing with her, so we ended our conversation as quickly as possible. But wherever that woman is, she is still certain that I used her son-in-law, whatever his name was, as Homer and found him in Willow Run. She was less interested in the background. She only knew it was Willow Run because her son-in-law, whom I had used as Homer, was living there during the War.
MIMI CONWAY:
Why did you name him Homer?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
I thought it was an excellent name...

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MIMI CONWAY:
I do, too.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
...for such a man. I have great difficulty in naming characters. I go through telephone directories and try mixing names, and then you never know.
MIMI CONWAY:
But do you have any feelings about Homer? I mean, is there any connection between Homer and the kind of person who observes in the way that Homer the character you created observed?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
No.
MIMI CONWAY:
Or anything about his particular kind of odyssey.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
No, and I think I shouldn't have named him Homer, because Homer was a great poet. And perhaps that was wrong, but I have such a struggle in finding names. I don't think I named the character for the Greek genius; today, Homer as a given name is fairly common.
MIMI CONWAY:
Didn't you also tell me that once a woman called you from Oakland, California, to insist that The Dollmaker was set in a housing development out there?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
No, she only wrote; she didn't telephone. The one who telephoned was on another matter. No, she was only certain that the housing development I used was in Oakland, California, because she had lived in it for a while. All manner of people lived in those; and all wartime housing developments were apparently much the same.
MIMI CONWAY:
Now did you start writing The Dollmaker when you moved to Detroit?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Yes. I began Hunter's Horn when we were going to do subsistence farming and spend most of our time writing. It turned

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around the other way, because we spent most of our time subsisting with very little time for writing. Another barrier—my fault—the local school was without a teacher. I had vowed I would never teach again, but they asked me to teach so I taught. Once more I learned a great deal from the children, in a different way. This was a more sophisticated community than the one in which I had first taught; some of the fathers owned trucks and did trucking, and the people had been out more. They had a gravel road that would take them to U.S. 27; it wasn't difficult to get to Somerset or where you wished to go. But it, too, was an interesting place. And I began Hunter's Horn and had it about half finished when we moved to the housing development. I always seemed to be able to write better in a city. I think a home in the country means more work and more distractions.
MIMI CONWAY:
One thing I was very curious about: I read in a 1944 Atlantic Monthly a short story called "The Hunter" which was published under the pseudonym H. Arnow, which they described as being the pseudonym for Harriette and Harold Arnow. In fact, it's really just like Hunter's Horn.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
It is. I wrote the story, and Harold said, "No magazine will ever use that in its present form." He'd quit work on his own novel. He said, "You will have to have a more decisive ending." Well,

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the ending was in the book, so I cut out a lot of the characterization and stuff I had, and he made suggestions; we worked on it together. After I'd written it, it seemed only fair that we should use both our names.
MIMI CONWAY:
It's just that when I read it I could only see you, because it was Hunter's Horn.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Well, it was all my writing, but Harold made suggestions for cutting and shaping it into a story, making it short enough. I already had the ending, but getting to it sooner than in the...
MIMI CONWAY:
Now that was the only example that I've found of both of you working together.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Yes, this is the only one. As I said, for The Dollmaker, he typed. . . . I guess I had it just about finished when we moved out here, but moving, and Harold wanted to move to the country again, and that living in the country with his driving back and forth to Detroit each day. And I drove the children back and forth to the Ann Arbor schools. It took a lot of time out of my writing. But Hunter's Horn was published before we came out here.
MIMI CONWAY:
That was in '49.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
And The Dollmaker almost finished.
MIMI CONWAY:
Now how many years did you work on Hunter's Horn?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
I started it about the time we married.
MIMI CONWAY:
In '39.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Covici Friede had gone out of business, and Macmillan had written, I guess before I married, to know if I had a book-length manuscript

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about hill people. Well, I didn't have. But I wanted to write a story with the background of the hills, a step further. You see, I originally called Mountain Path, Path. I called this second book End of the Gravel; civilization was coming closer. I also wanted it to be a story that could apply to other people in addition to hill people. I wanted to write the story of a hill man with a compulsion to get the unattainable, and the resulting battle. Well, I heard many rattlesnake stories in that community of a huge snake that when coiled up, so they told, was big as a washtub. I first thought of writing of a hunt and never finding the great rattlesnake they were all afraid of. But I didn't like to write of snakes, and it seemed silly, because with a group of men going out, they could get that snake quite easily, or set the woods on fire and probably kill it. I'd been hearing the sound of hounds around Burnside since early childhood, and I had, even then, an idea of how difficult it was to catch a good red fox. So I had my story, and I learned much more about fox hunting when we lived in the valley where we were supposed to do subsistence farming. Several families were caught up in fox hunting. Of course, only the men went hunting, but the children and the wives were equally interested. The wives faithfully baked unsalted cornbread for those hounds. Their theory was that salt would ruin a hound's nose, so cornbread had to be unsalted. There was a great uproar. A woman I liked very much had been losing her laying hens to a fox. She set a trap for it. Well, it was either one of her

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sons-in-law or her husband who found the trap; local hunters and their wives bawled her out about it because they wanted the few foxes remaining to be left alive so their hounds could have something to chase. So you must never shoot a fox or trap a fox, not in that community.
MIMI CONWAY:
That's interesting.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
And those hounds could run all night or all day. And the ugliest things, although they were good hounds. They had Julys, and Red Bones down there.
MIMI CONWAY:
When you started to write Hunter's Horn, I mean hunting is one of the last of the great male prerogatives. Did you come up against objections or uppitiness against your being a woman and daring to write about a man's sport or field of interest?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
No, I came up against no objections. If there was something I wanted to know, I would casually ask a man, or better, listen. We had to have help for the farm work quite often, and around the table they would often talk of hunting, different men, and I heard them so much. Of course, you can hear the bayof hounds for miles, and I would listen and hear the stories from the children and their mothers, or the men. But in using Nunn as a central character, I failed miserably. I didn't see Nunn as a no-good rascal, but some of the

Page 94
reviewers did. Nunn was a man with a compulsion, the same kind of compulsion a man who neglects his family to rise higher and higher in the business world or has his own business and enlarges it and makes some money, or the compulsions of the old-time ministers who got the call, the compulsion to preach and save souls. But few people. . . . I somehow failed there. Some did. But some didn't understand Nunn's compulsion to catch this big red fox. Then he would quit neglecting his farm, and everything would be all right. He neglected his farm and his children too long, and too many people saw him as just a worthless, no-good man. I recall a letter from a reader who said she would like to have Nunn Ballew as a husband just long enough she could take a skillet to his head and make him get to work.
MIMI CONWAY:
[laughter] Do you feel the same way about the compulsion to write, in other words, that if you follow it as Nunn followed King Devil that everything gets distorted?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
I do have a compulsion to write, since high school, I guess, and I'm unhappy if I'm not doing something about writing each day. That doesn't mean writing a letter. I have heavy correspondence. I try to answer all letters. But my compulsion is somewhat different from Nunn's. Nunn was determined to get the Big Red Fox. He didn't always enjoy hunting, if you recall; he'd look at his neglected fields. Remember, in the first part of the book, Milly wanted sugar to make the usual jelly and preserves to be canned, and Nunn spent the sugar money on dog food; he had the Big Red Fox to catch.

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I had no red fox to catch. I wasn't certain that I would get anything; it was just to write.
MIMI CONWAY:
Because I am very interested in the balance, or the difficulty in keeping a balance, between being a woman who is a wife and a mother, and a woman who is a writer.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Of course, the wife and mother always comes first, up to a point. I did my writing early in the morning. I never neglected—or don't think I did—the children or cookery and kitchen work. I could have kept a better house. You can see from the things that are scattered around this room and other rooms that I'm not the world's best housekeeper, and time that should have gone to dusting and cleaning and windows and this. . . . I did have a cleaning woman for a number of years, but she had to come from Detroit. She was getting old, and she retired. It's very difficult to get household help in Ann Arbor, and I've heard the same story from other women. It seems much easier in the South. But I couldn't write all day, although there were many days when I wished I could [unknown] copy what I had written or take time to read it over, and I'd wish I didn't have to stop to do this or that.
MIMI CONWAY:
Now in the years when your children were very young and you'd have to get up and get them breakfast and bring them to school, did you write from four to seven in the morning?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Yes, I have awakened as early as 2:30 and gone to work on something, but not that often. I usually get up around five. And I had a few hours, and then it was time to get them and get my husband

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off to work. Then, after I came home from taking them to school, I usually wrote for the rest of the morning, and did my cookery, housework, and remainder of the chauffeuring and shopping in the afternoon.
MIMI CONWAY:
The times that you would get up earlier than five, the times that you would get up out of bed at, say, two or two-thirty, would it be the pressure of the characters in your head making you get out of bed?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
I think so. I'd awaken— fortunately, some people are not made that way—I awaken fully awake, thinking usually, if I'm working on something, about what I'm trying to write. But I'm not much good in the afternoon. I get sleepy. I keep on going. About the most I can do, especially late in the afternoon as a rule, is housework.
MIMI CONWAY:
When you would get up early in the morning or any time of day that you'd write, did you write your first drafts on legal paper and in pencil? Is that right?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
I used the black pencil, but I always used something where the pages were fastened together. I like [unknown] composition books, which children use, write on the front and the back of the page. I wrote dozens and dozens of those, small ones. Sometimes I would use only a tablet such as children in the lower grades use in school. But I want something where the pages are fastened together and will stay through typing.
MIMI CONWAY:
Now when you wrote, did you just sort of write straight through and just try to keep it moving, or did you stop and think over

Page 97
each sentence?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
That happened sometimes. Sometimes I could write straight through and I seemed to be going well. Other times the word I wanted would elude me, and I'd waste most of my time thinking, trying to find that one right word. Some form of contrariness. The sensible thing, I believe, would have been to have left a blank for the word and gone on, because names and places, when I forget, come to me, but the words would hold me up. That didn't happen all the time.
MIMI CONWAY:
Then when you came to do a second draft, I think that's when the typing came in, is that right?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Yes.
MIMI CONWAY:
Now you've mentioned that your husband Harold—although you were not sure how he did it, because your penmanship isn't the best...
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
He only typed, as I recall, the first typed draft of The Dollmaker.
MIMI CONWAY:
So for the other works, you typed them yourself.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Yes, and the first typescript is my working draft.
MIMI CONWAY:
Then for example, with The Dollmaker, how many drafts did you do after you got the first typed working draft?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
The beginning of anything I write is the most difficult part. I think I did fourteen or twenty of the first chapter of Hunter's Horn. And I didn't do that many of The Dollmaker, but I must have done five or six. First, for The Dollmaker, I wrote showing Gertie at home. She was either plowing to put in a turnip patch, or perhaps

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she was gathering corn. And the baby was sick; and Clytie was watching him, running out to tell Gertie, and Gertie grew more and more worried. And [unknown] at last Clytie ran out to tell Gertie that Amos wasn't breathing right; she thought he was choking to death. So Gertie dropped everything—I don't think she changed clothing—got on the mule, didn't ride like a lady in a side saddle, but I think she was astride a mule, grabbed up Amos and headed for the nearest doctor seven or eight miles away. And she knew she couldn't get there soon enough on the mule; she stopped a car. And I realized all that first part was extraneous, because after she got home I would show her in the home; the character would develop. [unknown] I think all that with her working and her getting ready to take Amos, or just grabbing him up, was, oh, about seventy-five typed pages; I've forgotten. I just whacked it all off. The most I do in a rewrite is cut, and still my books have too many details. And, I suppose, too many adjectives and adverbs, though I go through on my last draft, and sometimes in the final draft I'll come upon an adjective I think is useless, unneeded, so I whack it out. And adverbs I try to avoid, especially in conversation. I've had students who would write things such as "He angrily said" or "She happily said." Well, I tell them—I feel that way about myself—that the reader should be able to tell from the conversation whether or not the person is angry, happy, or "She spoke sorrowfully" and all those. When I began writing I'd stick them in, but I at least had sense enough to cut them out,

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because I think the reader is able to tell from the conversation without all those things. So usually I just use "said" if anything is necessary, though I think in good writing you don't even need that a lot of the time. The reader can tell who spoke.
MIMI CONWAY:
Also, your incredibly keen ear for dialogue. Now I know that we talked about your early years, being exposed to so many wonderful storytellers. Did you just develop your ear from that, or did you ever take notes on dialogue?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
No, I noticed even before I could read, the difference, I think, in the speech of people. One of our neighbors had lately moved to Burnside from somewhere in the deeper South—I think it was southern Mississippi, I'm not sure—but I noticed her speech was different from our own. And at school, our principal had been bred and born in Pennsylvania, and his speech was different from that of anyone in Burnside. I noticed the same thing at Berea; practically all of our teachers there were from the East; we had no one that I can recall [unknown] from the South or the hills, and I noticed the difference in their speech and the difference in speech. . . . I don't know why I did that; it was just part of my nosiness, I guess. I enjoyed listening to things like the different sounds of the wind in the woods or time of day, and so forth. And then, when I was teaching in the back hills, I noticed not only their diction but their inflections and the way they dropped certain letters, and sometimes added h's, y's and r's. I tried not to make my dialogue too. . . . I don't think

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I used the word "hain't" like "I hain't going to do that no more." But in some they dropped their h's; in other words they added an h. And my publishers complained of the dialect, but I left it. And the reviews in England were quite good. Nobody there seemed to have any difficulty with the dialect. Both Hunter's Horn and The Dollmaker were translated into French and published in England, and the Reader's Digest edition of The Dollmaker was widely published and The Dollmaker itself as a book was published in several languages. Would you like to see the Dutch edition of The Dollmaker?
MIMI CONWAY:
Oh, yes, I'd love to.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Which I cannot read
[interruption]
MIMI CONWAY:
One thing that you have written about is, for example. . . . I think it was Flowering of the Cumberland rather than Seedtime, but you have a chapter in there where you talk about sound. I think the chapter is called something like "The Sound of Human...
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Human Kind."
MIMI CONWAY:
Did you find it hard to translate the sound and the music and the rhythms of the human voice of the mountain people into the flat, linear written word? I mean, did you find that a problem, or was that as easy for you as...
[END OF TAPE 4, SIDE A]

[TAPE 4, SIDE B]

[START OF TAPE 4, SIDE B]

Page 101
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
For my fiction I never found it particularly difficult. In The Dollmaker I sometimes had difficulty, not with Gertie or hill people, but with some of the residents. At that time they spoke very little.
MIMI CONWAY:
Like the Irish immigrants?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
No.
MIMI CONWAY:
Oh.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
There were people, especially children, who would say "Yeah." They could use the word "Yeah" with so many inflections. The listener knew what was meant. I remember a woman who liked to listen to gossip or just a story, not necessarily gossip. She was always drinking Coke, or not Cokes necessarily, some kind of soft drinks, and she'd have the bottle by the neck. And someone would start a story of something that had happened at work—many of the women worked in war materiel plants—and she'd say "Yeah" in a kind of uninterested way and take a drink. And as the story progressed and she became more interested, she'd say "Yeah?" and then she'd say "Ye-a-h?" "Oh, yeah!" and forget to drink her Coke. And that way. Or two little boys tuning up for a fight. Suppose one didn't believe what the other said, he'd say "Yeah," and the other one would say "Yeah" in a different kind of way, and the other one "Yeah" back in another way, and then that "Oh, yeah" would come. In this case it was different, meant a fight. And people who spoke so little and used the same word, like the word "lay" had many meanings to them; not all meant "laid off" from work.

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MIMI CONWAY:
For example.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Well, to be laid off at the mill. Or "lay" was also used in describing a sexual act. And "He laid him out" referred to the outcome of a fist fight.
MIMI CONWAY:
But did you find that hard, to write about the people who didn't talk very much and who used, as you say, the same word over and over again, like "yeah"? I mean, did you have to just do things like use the Coke bottle?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Yes, I had to translate those "Oh, yeah"'s and other expression into a language the reader could understand. And I thought what a wonderful play it would make, to have almost nothing in it except soft drink bottles, because you can tell the amount of interest or anger when somebody stops drinking or turns the bottle upside down and starts to clobber someone. And have almost nothing in it but soft drink bottles...
MIMI CONWAY:
Oh, how wonderful.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
...and "Yeah" and "Oh, yeah."
MIMI CONWAY:
Have you ever thought of writing plays?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
At times I have, but I've never really tried.
MIMI CONWAY:
How about poetry? I know that you love poetry.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Yes, but you couldn't call what I try to write, "Poetry". You might stretch a point and call it "verse," but I've never shown it to anyone. It isn't fit to be seen. [unknown] When I was younger I was bitten quite often by poetry. I remember writing long "poems."

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And now I occasionally get a fit, where I must sit down and write that...
MIMI CONWAY:
Have you written much poetry? About how much poetry?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Not a lot. Not enough to make, I think, oh, perhaps enough to make one small book if it were readable and publishable. But to get back to the non-fiction work, the chapter on "Sounds of Human Kind," I had to learn the speech of the people. Many of them spelled phonetically. I read a great deal in the Draper manuscripts, many of them not yet published, and these were the accounts of older men who had either been in the Revolution or been with George Rogers Clark or [unknown] the Long Hunters. And many of these men spelled phonetically. You find the same thing in the letters of Rachel Jackson and others. Of course, spelling then in the United States was not exactly standardized. They had a few dictionaries. Webster's spelling book hadn't yet been published. And I learned that not by listening, because I couldn't be certain that the hill people talked as the pioneers had talked. Some did, but by no means all of them. I also depended on travellers who mentioned colonials who spoke as the English speak, the English upper class, and Irish who speak as the Irish speak, and so on and so forth.
MIMI CONWAY:
How did you decide on spellings of dialect?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
I tried to spell it in the least confusing way.
MIMI CONWAY:
As opposed to following some particular method.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Yes.

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MIMI CONWAY:
Right.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
And I'm glad I wrote it, because between the radio and since REA brought electricity into the hills, their speech is growing more and more like the speech of those they hear on radio and RV, and the old words are slipping out of their language.
MIMI CONWAY:
Did you write Seed time on the Cumberland and Flowering of the Cumberland after you'd moved to Detroit?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
I wrote those after we moved out here.
MIMI CONWAY:
To Ann Arbor. Now how did they come about? I mean, weren't you asked to write those?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
No. As a child I heard all these stories about my people, most of whom had lived in the colonies. And later, I'm the sixth generation, I suppose—no, only the fifth born in Kentucky; the sixth generation to have lived there—and I heard these stories, and I always wanted to read more but I couldn't find a book about the pioneers that suited me.
MIMI CONWAY:
So you wrote two. [laughter]
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
All I could find was stories of Daniel Boone and his coonskin caps, you know, people living like wild men. And I hadn't planned such a great undertaking. I first thought I would write only a small book about a few counties on that part of the Cumberland in south central Kentucky that is navigable. My home was in Pulaski County. Burnside was head of navigation of the Cumberland River.

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The adjoining county of Wayne and four nearby counties southwest of Pulaski were also served by Cumberland River packets. I soon realized that they also depended on Nashville for all manufactured goods. The first steamboats had come from Nashville. And some of the settlers in this part of Kentucky had lived for a time in Nashville and more in east Tennessee.
MIMI CONWAY:
When you were writing those books, you had to go to different places to do the research.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Yes.
MIMI CONWAY:
Was that difficult, because it was at this time your children were still quite young.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
No, my husband helped a great deal there. Most of the time the children were big enough to travel quite well. The research; the vacation. And my husband would take part of his vacation at the proper time. For example, one winter we went down to Nashville so I could work in the Tennessee State Archives there. It's a wonderful place. And they stayed in a motel, and they had a lot of fun. This hotel or motel had trailers to rent to families—long, long trailers—they'd never lived in a trailer, so they lived there for about two weeks. We never went south during the summer; it was too hot. And sometimes we'd go during spring vacation. Well, we did go one summer, and while I did research in Nashville my husband found a place on the Cumberland plateau, cool, with a swimming pool and everything—it was a resort of some kind—where he and the children

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stayed.
MIMI CONWAY:
Have the children ever been to Burnside?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Oh, yes. As long as Mama lived. She didn't die until 1965.
MIMI CONWAY:
Oh, so they knew her.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
So they knew her.
MIMI CONWAY:
Did it seem strange to you to have children that were like northern children or city children, who hadn't grown up in Kentucky?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Well, Harold's speech is very different from mine.
MIMI CONWAY:
He's from Chicago?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Yes. And he grew up in Chicago and attended the University of Illinois. But it is strange that their speech has nothing in it of my speech at all. But I don't feel as badly as an old woman I knew in the community where we lived for a while. She came to me one day. Her grandchildren had been down from Cincinnati to visit her with their mother, her daughter. And she was crying when she said it. She said, "It hurts to the bone to see my little grandchildren growen up and talken just like them people in the north. I can't stand it. And I took them out in the woods to show the flowers and so forth, and you know what one of them said? He kept saying, ‘Where's the bathroom? I have to go to the bathroom’ and looken around as if he expected to see a bathroom in the woods. And I told him to go stand behind a tree." There's a great...
MIMI CONWAY:
Were those your children you were talking about, or the

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woman's you were talking...
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
No, it was the old woman's grandchildren.
MIMI CONWAY:
It is always difficult with different generations, but did they ever take up any of the northern attitudes towards hill people? I mean, did they ever kind of make you feel sort of odd about...
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
I don't know. I suspected they have, because they've heard, especially in Detroit, a great many jokes that were even appearing in the papers about the ignorant hillbillies. And they may have; I don't know. But I don't think they minded, because there wasn't such a gap between my mother—although she spoke with an accent, she was careful like her mother to speak grammatically—and by the time my children came along, she was accustomed to grandchildren from other places. Now Sister Margaret—Peggy, we called her—they lived in Huntington Woods, north of Detroit, where their children grew up.
MIMI CONWAY:
Let me ask you if your children have a strong affinity towards Kentucky, I mean if it's something that they're interested in or not interested in or whatever? I mean, do they feel like they're Kentuckians?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
No, definitely not. They do love the land we have down there. The house has long since almost fallen down.
MIMI CONWAY:
Burnside.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Burnside and the place where Harold and I lived for awhile. They love the woods and the house, but they have no

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affinity for Kentucky. They don't seem to have a great affinity for any certain place. They do come home. They telephone quite often. But I've found other young like them. They're not going to put down their roots where Papa and Mama's roots are. And this feeling may have come because I was from one place and Harold was from another. And I don't know. I don't know exactly how they feel about the hillbillies, although they did enjoy going down there and they especially liked going on into the Great Smokies.
MIMI CONWAY:
How did they feel about you as their mother being a writer?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
They were seldom embarrassed by that. Marcella was embarrassed once in junior high, because one of her fool teachers asked her to say something about her mother. That was after The Dollmaker was out, and it was widely reviewed and made a little splash. And that embarrassed the child terribly. But as a rule, in Ann Arbor it didn't matter because so many of the children are the sons and daughters of university professors who are learned men and who have published learned books. So a fiction writer doesn't rate, you know, too highly in Ann Arbor.
MIMI CONWAY:
You remember, we were talking about the original names of the books.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Yes.
MIMI CONWAY:
And it was going to follow what really amounts to alienation, and the incursion of another society on an old society. Now here we are in what used to be country, and it's still a gravel

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road outside your house, but the pavement starts just up the road and a housing development and big plants. And then we've talked about your children, who are Northerners and without the affinity to Kentucky. Do you feel that the alienation has overtaken their lives or your own life?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Overtaken the children and my...
MIMI CONWAY:
Yeah. I mean that even though, from your earliest years, this is something that you've written about and been aware of—the need for connectedness and roots—do you feel. . . . Well, I'm thinking about your most recent book, The Weedkiller's Daughter, and also when you talk about Hunter's Horn. You weren't just talking about Nunn and his problem, but something very much more general. That you have been aware of and have spent a lifetime writing about a problem that, despite the awareness, may still be overtaking even your own home and your own life and your own children's lives. I mean, do you feel at all...
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
I don't know. I think I felt more alienated in my childhood home after I started writing and no one was interested in my writing. I thought it a waste of time that I should teach. I had the same feeling at Berea College, though the students I met were much the same as I. And I don't think alienation necessarily arises from a physical change of the home. Nunn, for example, was alienated from the better men of the community. He lived with them, but if you recall, Old John, the largest landowner, lectured him on neglecting his farm, and telling him he came of good people who

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would turn over in their graves to see what he was doing. He was running with a class of people, of men, not up to his people, and he was lectured about it. And I don't know; I sometimes feel alienated from the world. But you must remember that I got away from Kentucky, my home, as soon as possible. And I don't know; I do at times miss the hills. If it's too much, I just drive back and take a look at them. But I had no desire to live there. I think the experience I and Harold had of doing subsistence farming and trying to write cured me of any desire ever. . . .
MIMI CONWAY:
[laughter]
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Of course, they're better now, but we had no electricity then. That was before REA. No telephone.
MIMI CONWAY:
Right. [laughter]
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
You can have a telephone now. And it would undoubtedly be somewhat different now; I don't know. And as for the children being alienated, I don't think so. They make their own world, have their own friends. I never stressed the past to them a great deal, because they weren't interested, or didn't seem to be.
MIMI CONWAY:
And did that make you feel bad, or did you just accept it?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
No, I had enough of it, especially from Mama. Mama talked so much about the Denneys; I don't know what the Denneys had ever done.
MIMI CONWAY:
[laughter]
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Well, one, I think, a great uncle, was in the Kentucky Legislature

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for a while. But I grew weary of it, in a way was glad to get away from it. The woman who telephoned from Oakland, California, wanted me to write the book she was planning on the Denney family. I saw no reason for a book on the Denney family. I knew it would entail a great deal of research, so I politely declined the offer. But I don't think the children feel alienated, and my alienation, I don't think comes from physical circumstances.
MIMI CONWAY:
What does it come from?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Well, as I told you, being at home or at Berea and feeling different from the others because I...
MIMI CONWAY:
But mostly alienated with your writing, not having...
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Yes.
MIMI CONWAY:
...some like-minded people. So do you like being in Ann Arbor now?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Well, I didn't want to move to the country again. My husband is the one—it seems to be that way—who grew up in the city...
MIMI CONWAY:
[laughter]
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
...and can never get enough country. Ann Arbor is all right, I think. Of course, it's changed a very great deal since we moved here twenty-five or -six years ago.
MIMI CONWAY:
And Marcella went to the London School of Economics?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
First she spent two years at Swarthmore, and there had her first course in economics. She planned to major in physics, taking

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a lot of math. And she liked it. And about the same time, the Times, where Harold had been working for a great many years, just sold out—there was a little depression—and he was, for a few months, without a job. And she thought she'd go to the University of Michigan. She stayed on campus, and had more economics. That was one reason for her coming. The University of Michigan has a much bigger and better known department of economics than Swarthmore.
MIMI CONWAY:
Is she working now as an economist in New York?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Yes.
MIMI CONWAY:
Do you think she admires your writing?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
I don't know. But she and our son, too, if they wrote, would write of more sophisticated people and events than of what I have written.
MIMI CONWAY:
And your son is working with computers at McGill?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
He is in Texas. He has a degree from McGill in chemistry. Then he changed his mind and became interested in computers. He is now running a hospital computer. He is also attending a university planning to get a degree in what do you call it — computer science?

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MIMI CONWAY:
Yes. Right.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Program in science. I don't know what.
MIMI CONWAY:
Are you working now on a manuscript for...
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
I want to get to one just as soon...
MIMI CONWAY:
As soon as we stop taping. [laughter]
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
No, but there are so many other things. I wrote this manuscript for the University Press of Kentucky, which I shouldn't have taken the time to do. I don't think they'll want it; it's much too long.
MIMI CONWAY:
What is the manuscript on?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
It's about old Burnside.
MIMI CONWAY:
Oh, so an historical piece.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Burnside had an interesting history. All the business section was swallowed in Lake Cumberland.
MIMI CONWAY:
Oh, that is interesting. Do you have any idea about the next novel that you plan to write or hope to write?

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HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Oh, yes. If I didn't have an idea about it, I wouldn't be wanting to write about it. But I never talk about my writing, not even to my husband or anyone, until I have it written.
MIMI CONWAY:
It makes good sense, because otherwise you talk it away.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Well, I've heard of people. . . . I read somewhere about some man who could have been a writer, but he talked his novels out.
MIMI CONWAY:
Yes. I believe in that, too. You mentioned earlier when we were talking, but not on tape, that at this point [unknown] all sorts of different people try to pigeonhole you in different ways, and some people have. . . . I don't know who you were saying; someone had come up to you and said, "Oh, Harriette Arnow, the feminist," or something like that. Could you tell me a little bit about . . .
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
You know, I never knew I was a feminist—and I still don't think I am—until a woman wrote. I didn't have time to read it; she wrote a piece about me for something. Apparently it's lost. Harold did read it, and he said she made me a feminist. Now when I began writing, I was a "regionalist."
MIMI CONWAY:
[laughter]
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
And a student from your part of the country, at the University of East Tennessee, did his master's on The Dollmaker . . .
MIMI CONWAY:
Oh, I have [unknown]. The symbolism, the Christ symbolism?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
No.
MIMI CONWAY:
Oh. I've got a copy of that from a student at East Tennessee.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Well, I haven't seen that one. I've seen other Christ

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symbolism.
MIMI CONWAY:
[laughter]
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
But this man had proved, to the satisfaction of his advisers and teachers, that I was a transcendentalist. He did this by quoting passages chiefly from Thoreau, and some from me from The Dollmaker, which flattered me no end because I think that no other man has been able to bring the woods and a pond and fields alive as has Thoreau. In his description of the Maine woods on a rainy night, [unknown] I can smell the rain on decaying leaves, feel I was there. But most people like Joseph Wood Krutch, who wrote a great deal about him, appeared to be more interested in his politics and his attitude, you know, of not paying taxes for . . .
MIMI CONWAY:
How did you feel about what this student wrote about you in relation to transcendentalism?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Well, as I say, I was flattered. I'd never thought of myself as a transcendentalist.
MIMI CONWAY:
How about all that's written, including by Joyce Carol Oates in the afterword for The Dollmaker, about the Christ symbolism?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Well, most people saw the book that way. And several, much to my surprise, are seeing the same thing in the baby in Kentucky Trace, though I can't quite see why; the baby was not put to death. The mother only wanted it put to death.

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HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Well, as I said, I began to be known as a regional writer. And at least one person thought of me as a transcendentalist. Most readers read a symbol of Christ into The Dollmaker and symbols in the other books.
And then more lately I discovered, though I haven't been able to read the piece the woman wrote, that I was a feminist. I cannot believe that I am a feminist. I don't think Gertie was a faminist. What was best for her children came first. On the other hand, I'm weary of this talk of women. It's much like the old talk of the proletariat, that woman is woman, and there are no individuals, and all women are alike. It makes me both angry and sick at my stomach, because women are individuals and each should be permitted to follow her own bent, have control of her body. If a woman wants to marry and stay home and raise six children, that's her business, and never with a thought beyond the home and the church and the school. Of course, I hope too many women don't do that, because we're rapidly reaching the point in the world of overpopulation and under-food. I don't know what would happen should we have another Dust Bowl. We have no promise from the weather or God that we can go on producing enormous quantities of wheat and corn year in and year out. So I believe in planned parenthood for those who can possibly accept it. There is discrimination against women; I know that. But I also know—I think the trend is changing—that too many girls pushed on by mothers and fathers marry out of high school, and if they don't succeed in catching their men they go to college, and everybody feels they're a

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failure if they don't get engaged during their undergraduate years. So that too few women train themselves to do any work. If you study the statistics of degrees, you find that by far the greatest number of degrees earned by women, either undergraduate or graduate, are in education. Well, we have an oversupply of teachers, and as the salaries have gone up, more and more men are entering the field. You find more men even in elementary school. But I do think more women with a bent in any direction should plan on some life work, if they want to do it and have the brains to do it. Yet, there are many young married women doing well in the professions. I know lawyers, two physicians, school principals, and other married women with demanding jobs outside the home.
MIMI CONWAY:
But see, I think that one reason why women—"women," but anyway—are interested in you is that you managed to do both, have a family with husband and children and follow your writing. And it seems when we talked earlier, you said that when you were in your twenties and late twenties and still unmarried, that your dedication was to writing, and that the right man hadn't come along. I mean, you put it up to sort of being lucky, that you were thirty-one; I think he was thirty-five?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Thirty-one.
MIMI CONWAY:
And then you married and could pursue what amounts to a double career.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Yes.
MIMI CONWAY:
But was it as simple as that? I mean, had you really . . .

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HARRIETTE ARNOW:
No. You see, I'd been writing. My first book was published when I was twenty-eight. Since that time I've published only four novels and two social histories. Now other women, most women writers are married. Look at Joyce Carol Oates. She is not only married, but she teaches at a university in Windsor. Or I know a woman who is doing extremely well as a lawyer. She got her bachelor's degree, and then when her children were getting old enough—she had three—she studied law and made a success of it. And there are many women doing both, or trying to.
MIMI CONWAY:
That's true. But you know, you talked about meeting the right man when you were thirty-one. But I mean earlier, before that, were there other men that could have been the right man, but your decision was that writing was the most important?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Yes, I wasn't eager to get married. There was no compulsion at home.
MIMI CONWAY:
The other thing was, in those years, like late twenties, another thing that a lot of women feel, in addition to a compulsion to be married, is, as they get older, they feel that their childbearing years are diminishing.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Yes.
MIMI CONWAY:
And feel a real desire to have children, and that's very

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important. In those years before you got married, did you feel a strong need to have children, or did that go along with not feeling compelled to be married?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Oh, not too often. Oh, sometimes I'd think I'd like to have children, but it was no compelling desire until about the time I married and I wanted children very much. Or perhaps until my sisters younger than I married before I did. No, two didn't; one did, and she had children. But you must remember that during the Depression, the Great Depression of the thirties, people didn't stop marrying but they waited a while, and the birth rate went way, way down, just as it has gone down during this very minor depression.
Well, you can't call it "minor" to someone who's been out of work for months, [unknown] or a teacher, a student with a master's or doctor's degree who can't find any kind of work except [unknown] manual labor that nobody else will do. You can't call it mild for these people, but there are not so many.
MIMI CONWAY:
Now that your children are away from home and you say that you write every day, and I know that sometimes you, like today, will be going over to the University of Michigan to lecture to a labor history class, do you give lectures or do you teach still? Or do you belong to organizations?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
I belong to P.E.N. American Center and Writers' Guild, ACLU, and Planned Parenthood. There's a local ACLU, but I seldom attend a meeting; [unknown] now and then I attend a meeting of [unknown] Planned Parenthood, an open

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meeting. But those organizations need funds to do their work. In ACLU, the main work is done by lawyers. And Planned Parenthood is done by literature, nurses, and physicians. And so on and so forth. So I would be of little use in any of those. And of course, Guild and P.E.N. are in New York. There's an excellent woman writers' club here in Ann Arbor. Years ago they invited me to join, but they meet at night. And I don't know, if I go anyplace in the evening it interferes with the next morning's writing, so, although it's an excellent group and they're publishing and I liked the members I've met, I never did join.
MIMI CONWAY:
I guess I just wonder if, at this period in your life, as much time is taken out by people like me coming to do tapes and commitments to lectures and things like that, or whether you really can devote a lot of your time now to writing.
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Well, I've had a bad time here lately with that old Burnside thing, which I shouldn't have decided to write. And I have agreed to go to Louisville for two appearances. And this meeting this afternoon. Then I don't expect to do anything except write and clean up this house for the next several weeks. I don't have to accept these lectures; I like to get out once in a while. In Louisville I will be seeing an old friend and others I knew. So nobody forces me to do these things. I spend more time, I think, answering letters and telephone calls. Friends and neighbors know I'm usually working

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of mornings. They never bother me; it's usually strangers wanting to know how to publish a book, or something else equally stupid.
MIMI CONWAY:
I guess I'll just ask you one more question, which is, since we've been doing an oral history tape on your life, if there are things that we haven't mentioned that you feel you'd like to say about how you feel about your own life?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
Well, I think we have completely covered my life. One thing—I may have said it; I don't know—you often read that childhood impressions are the most lasting. And in one respect mine were. As a child I learned to grow flowers and vegetables, to look at the sky, and then my favorites playground was the woods. And I think that is possibly why I have all those things in my stories. And the stories I heard as a child, handed-down stories and others, no doubt influenced me to do my non-fiction books on the pioneers, but I don't think they influenced the course of my fiction. That's difficult to tell. Except, at first I heard stories; then I read them. Our parents bought books for us. So that I can't remember a time when I didn't enjoy hearing stories; the story was the thing, any kind of story, true or a fairy tale. So in that respect, I think it influenced me; I don't know.
MIMI CONWAY:
Do you get to hear many good stories these days?
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
No, I'm not out enough among people. I don't read enough. I heard some stories in Louisville—most of them are sad—about this one or that one. Or you hear political rumors [unknown] so-and-so [unknown]

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wherever you go. The rumor, of course, depends on which political party that the teller belongs to, so there's no use to set any store by any of them.
MIMI CONWAY:
But I guess you have a whole lifetime of stories to work with, several hundred years'. [laughter]
HARRIETTE ARNOW:
I'm getting old; I don't have a whole lifetime left. And I don't know; I hope to have a few more years. I vow at times I'll never go out on another lecture or teach in another writers' workshop, but I always do, because it's a change, I guess.
MIMI CONWAY:
Okay, I think we might as well end it, okay?
END OF INTERVIEW
The Kentucky TraceThe Weedkiller's DaughterThe DollmakerHunter's HornMountain Pass
The Flowering of the CumberlandSeedtime on the Cumberland
Between the FlowersSouthern ReviewThe New TalentThe New TalentSouthern Review
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Seedtime on the Cumberland