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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Virginia Foster Durr, March 13, 14, 15, 1975. Interview G-0023-2. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

The Great Depression and Durr's family

Black's 1932 race for the Senate against Thomas Erby Kilby was a particularly bloody one as Kilby accused Black of misappropriation of funds. During the same campaign, Durr's parents slipped into further financial difficulties, driving her mother into a deep depression. When Roosevelt implemented his New Deal, Durr's father gained an appointment on the National Emergency Council.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Virginia Foster Durr, March 13, 14, 15, 1975. Interview G-0023-2. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

Well, about this time, bless God, Hugo won the race for the Senate and he went on over. . . .
CLIFFORD DURR:
That was the second time he had run.
VIRGINIA FOSTER DURR:
Yeah, that was in '32. He went back to Washington with Sister and his family. They had the two boys then. He got elected . . . I don't remember who ran against him . . . Kilby. Yes, and Kilby accused my sister . . . Hugo was going all over the state and Sister went with him and acted as his secretary and so he was paying her what a secretary would cost. You see, she had been in the Navy and she knew how to typewrite. And in the course of the campaign, Kilby accused Hugo of paying his wife and cheating the government. And oh, Hugo got so furious! I never saw a man get so mad and after that, he just lit into Kilby tooth and toenail. Oh, he was so mad! And he beat him. He got elected and they went on back to Washington. And at that point, Mother and Daddy came over to live with us. Well, they rented the house and they thought that they could get some rent for the house, because by then, everything that they had in the world was gone. Well, Mother began to develop the symptoms of what in those days they called "melancholia." She wouldn't eat and she couldn't sleep and her mind seemed confused and was just rapidly going down. So, finally, there was an institution there called Hillcrest, and she went out there and that was a horrible period, because she begged and begged to come home all the time. She cried and that didn't work. So, that was a horrible, horrible period. Things got worse and worse in Birmingham. Well, finally, Roosevelt got elected, you see and my father . . . that campaign saved his life. What with losing everything he had and Mother becoming so melancholy. Today they call it "depression", but in those days they called it "melancholia." She was so helpless, you see, she just didn't know what to do and all of her pride and now having to live on her sons-in-law. It just killed her, it ruined her. Then, Daddy just plunged head first into the Roosevelt campaign. That just saved his life, he just worked and worked for Roosevelt and stayed at the campaign office. That was the hope that he had. Sure enough, he did get a job when Roosevelt was elected, what was it called . . .National Emergency Council. That was a kind of a public relations part of the New Deal and he loved that, he made speeches and so on and. . . .
SUE THRASHER:
Was that in Birmingham?
VIRGINIA FOSTER DURR:
Yes.