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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Carrie Lee Gerringer, August 11, 1979. Interview H-0077. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Leaving school for work at age fourteen

Gerringer discusses how she went to work in the Glen Raven Mills in Burlington, North Carolina, at the age of fourteen in the early 1920s. By that time, Gerringer had made it to the tenth grade, having skipped several grades. Although she recalls having enjoyed school and having been a good student, Gerringer felt no regret that she had to leave school in order to work. For Gerringer, work was an economic necessity and her views on the worth of education demonstrate an interesting tension between work and education in working communities.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Carrie Lee Gerringer, August 11, 1979. Interview H-0077. 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

DOUGLAS DENATALE:
What happened when you went to work? Did you go to school any more after you started working?
CARRIE LEE GERRINGER:
No. I was always good in my books, and I skipped a grade or two, and [Laughter] that's the way I got to the tenth grade.
DOUGLAS DENATALE:
How did your parents feel about that? Did they want you to go to school?
CARRIE LEE GERRINGER:
They didn't care. I think education wasn't as important as it is now. If it was, I didn't understand it or know about it.
DOUGLAS DENATALE:
How did you feel about it?
CARRIE LEE GERRINGER:
I didn't care. It didn't matter to me. I liked to go to school, but I knowed there had to be a living made. I had that much sense, so it didn't matter to me. I knowed I had enough to get by. There's an old saying, "There's more educated people walking the streets than there is ham(?) and." Now you can put that down if you want to. [Laughter]
DOUGLAS DENATALE:
Really.
CARRIE LEE GERRINGER:
Now you can believe that or not. Them educated ones, they think they're too good to take just an ordinary job, you know, like I would do. And anybody that ain't got too much education has got sense enough to know he's going to have to take something.
DOUGLAS DENATALE:
Education doesn't always give you sense, does it?
CARRIE LEE GERRINGER:
No. I got all I need.