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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Louise Riggsbee Jones, September 20, 1976. Interview H-0085-1. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Family economic survival in a mill town

Jones describes how her family made ends meet. After her father's death, several of her older siblings were already working in the mills and contributed their wages to the family economy. In addition, her mother kept an extensive garden, tended livestock, and regularly went fishing. Combined, these endeavors made it possible for the family to survive. Her recollections are revealing of the ways in which families in working communities worked together in order to make ends meet.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Louise Riggsbee Jones, September 20, 1976. Interview H-0085-1. 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

MARY FREDERICKSON:
But when did your brothers and sisters start working?
LOUISE RIGSBEE JONES:
Well, I don't know. They went to work before I came to . They were all older than I was, you know.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
When your father died and your mother was alone, did she get enough money to live from your sisters and brothers working?
LOUISE RIGSBEE JONES:
Well, yes, but it was mighty close living. She was a good provider, and she knew how to make it go, but my mother had a hard time because she wanted to do everything she could for us children, you know. And she did work. Now when we lived out yonder, the second house from here, see, there was no houses below us down there then, and that place, well, she had it kind of cleaned up and had a big garden and a corn patch down there. She'd have it plowed-somebody would plow it-and she'd work it herself. I don't know how she lived to be as old as she did, she worked so hard. But she'd have a good garden, and we'd have a few chickens around the yard. They didn't have them like they do now, you know. We'd have maybe six or eight hens, and we'd let the hens set on the eggs and hatch . . .
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Hatch chickens?
LOUISE RIGSBEE JONES:
. . . hatch chickens, and have frying-size chickens, raise our own fryers. And that's the way we lived at home then, you know. And they didn't have beef at the stores. We didn't have beef or things like that then, like we do now. Now once in a while, maybe somebody that lived kind of out in the country would kill a cow or a calf or something and bring it here. He'd have it cut in big pieces, but he'd bring it in a wagon or something and go around to the hill and sell it. And you'd go out and look at it and tell him how much you want, he'd cut it off for you. And that's the way we got our beef and stuff then. Of course, we raised our own hog. Now my mother, she'd get her a hog in every year and feed it and tend to it herself to have some homemade meat, side meat and ham and shoulder and sausage at home, you know.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Did she make her own sausage and everything?
LOUISE RIGSBEE JONES:
Yes, yes, we made that.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Did she do a lot of canning of stuff from the garden?
LOUISE RIGSBEE JONES:
Well, she didn't do as much as people do now. They didn't can as much. Now she dried some stuff that could be dried, you know, and, well, she canned some. But she really worked, and she loved to fish. Oh, she . . .
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Loved to fish?
LOUISE RIGSBEE JONES:
Fish. Yes, she loved to fish. After I got up bigger, you know, and the others, my two sisters were at work and my brother in the mill, and Roy, of course, he was working in the store, well, she would work so hard every morning and cook her dinner. And she was a good cook. We had a-plenty. But she would get through her work, you know, and after dinner go fishing.