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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Eula and Vernon Durham, November 29, 1978. Interview H-0064. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Courting in early twentieth-century North Carolina

Eula and Vernon Durham describe courtship in the Bynum of their youth. Details are sparse, but they recall typically controlled courtship encounters in supervised parlor meetings and group outings.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Eula and Vernon Durham, November 29, 1978. Interview H-0064. 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

VERNON DURHAM:
House parties was where they had girls and all. They'd have post office and spin the bottle. You ever played post office?
JIM LELOUDIS:
Yeah, I think I played that one time.
VERNON DURHAM:
A girl or a boy would go out in the hall and so-and-so, whoever she wanted to come out there, she'd say, "Got a letter down at the post office." He'd go out—and that's the way they worked that. And spin the bottle.
JIM LELOUDIS:
How did people do their courting?
EULA DURHAM:
Well, most of the time they had little front room. They called it a parlor. And they'd go in there and court. And if they stayed longer than their papa thought they ought to, he'd say, "All right—bed time in there. If you ain't going home come on in here and I'll fix you a bed and you can go to bed." [Laughter] He went down and he told one of my sisters—it was Weesie Eubanks up here and my sister. There was a bunch of us in there one night, and he said, "All right. It's bed time in there. If it ain't come in here and I'll fix you a bed and you can go to bed if you're going to stay all night." Whenever he told us that, Weesie said, "All right, Mr. Cooper." Said, "Fix my bed. Now where am I going to sleep?" Weesie was so bad.
JIM LELOUDIS:
You said there were a bunch of you. Did you usually see your boy friend or girl friend alone or in groups?
EULA DURHAM:
No, you didn't leave the house with them.
JIM LELOUDIS:
But when they were over visiting, would some of your sisters also have their boyfriends there?
EULA DURHAM:
Yeah.
VERNON DURHAM:
Let's see—there was about four of y'all that was courting age at one time. Four—about five of you, counting Ruth. Five of them girls. When they had a party they had a house full.
EULA DURHAM:
And on Sunday evenings everybody would meet down at the bridge over yonder at the spring, cross there where I was telling you about. They'd go over there and set over there on Sunday evenings and talk and play games and have a good time. And on Sunday night over there at Rock Springs Church they'd have a prayer meeting every Sunday night. And they'd be a string from that store down here right slam to the bridge going to the prayer meeting. And didn't half of them go in the church!