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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Frank Gilbert, Summer 1977. Interview H-0121. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Recreation and box suppers in rural North Carolina

Gilbert and his wife describe what they did for fun when they were young. They remember playing ball, swimming, raising animals for judging, and box suppers. The Gilberts remember one box supper where Frank bid a good deal of money on his future wife's boxed meal. Mrs. Gilbert fondly remembers her youth, and believes that life was better for children then.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Frank Gilbert, Summer 1977. Interview H-0121. 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

PATTY DILLEY:
What did you all like to do most when you were a family growing up, when you all weren't working, for recreation or entertainment?
FRANK GILBERT:
We had a baseball team. I was on several baseball teams around there. There wasn't much recreation for the girls, was there, Mama? [Laughter] What did you do?
MRS. GILBERT:
I didn't play base… I played pound ball. [Laughter] And then straight catching. The boys played what they called bull pen, and I can't remember anything about that, at school. I don't know whether he did or not; he went to a different school from what I did.
FRANK GILBERT:
Yes, we played bull pen there.
MRS. GILBERT:
It wasn't too far apart. These two-teacher schools wouldn't be too close together, but not far enough apart that couldn't done something. But way back then, at Lyle Creek, we had some bottom land there, and we had to cross that creek, and we crossed that creek in a buggy to go to St. John's Church out here. And when we'd go to work in that bottomland we swam there in that creek when we got out—we was hurrying to get through, you know—and then it was sand up on the side, and we roasted hot dogs away back there, that long ago.
PATTY DILLEY:
That's not a new thing.
MRS. GILBERT:
And you wouldn't have thought we'd have had a hot dog back then.
PATTY DILLEY:
[Laughter] Did you ever do anything with much of your family? Did you all ever get together and do things as a family?
FRANK GILBERT:
In later years we did; that was when…
MRS. GILBERT:
I don't know whether they did things together or not. But everything we done, we had fun out of.
FRANK GILBERT:
All the kids around there would get together. One place on one Sunday, and the next time it was another one's, any kind of game or anything you wanted to play, you know. Wouldn't all be at the same place every Sunday.
MRS. GILBERT:
You know, in a way, what you folks do now, it's kind of tiresome. I believe we had it better. Maybe I'm just oldfashioned and think it was true, but we had woods all around and we had dry grape vines that we'd go on. And we'd cut them off at the bottom and swing … [END OF TAPE 1, SIDE B] [TAPE 2, SIDE A] [START OF TAPE 2, SIDE A]
MRS. GILBERT:
… maybe. And I had an old hen, a rooster and two hens. And we'd do that at home. Or we'd have these meetings, kind of like you have a fair, anywhere, and show off what we had. We done such things as that, had prizes. I went to Rockett School. And then we had the young folks', we called it a social. And about once or twice a month, we'd eat up there. And this… I forget what that person's name was. It's been so long ago. Mr. Mast is all I can remember, but there was another little old man would come, and Myrtle Rockett was the head of that. But we made country music away back there. There was a family there of Sigmons, Millie Sigmon and… What was the other girl's name, Frank? Their family, and several more. Her daddy, Fawn() Sigmon, now they all come. One played the fiddle, and then others would play the banjo, and we had what they called the tater bugs. What do they call them today? Mandolins?
FRANK GILBERT:
Yes.
PATTY DILLEY:
Would you all meet at those and dance? Was that what you all done?
MRS. GILBERT:
Well, now, he was kind of a stranger to me in a way, because he went to Bethel Church, and about how many miles would it be apart, Frank? Right across these creeks over here, if you've ever been out Taylorsville Drive.
PATTY DILLEY:
Yes.
MRS. GILBERT:
Like out to that creek, I went to that church out there on the hill, St. John's. Now he went back further from the… He was from Catfish. I was out at Oxford now. But I met him at one of them socials that we had up there. He left and went to Illinois. He had uncles—well, just one of them lived out there—and he helped to farm in Illinois. He was out there about four years.
FRANK GILBERT:
I didn't get anything for it, either.
PATTY DILLEY:
[Laughter] Yes, he had told me something about that.
MRS. GILBERT:
When he come home, why, we had one of them little what we called hot dog shindigs. We were having this little fair, and we'd show it in the school. It was in the evenings, but we had a box supper. Did you ever go to box suppers?
PATTY DILLEY:
Yes, I've been to one.
MRS. GILBERT:
And this was in the spring of the year, and I thought I'd made myself a real pretty one. I took yellow paper and orchid ribbon. And my mama was pretty good to us. She fried some chicken, and we baked a cake. We had chicken and cake and everything in those boxes. And some of the boys up there [Laughter] found out he'd come home and I'd been writing to him, and they run the box up on him. It brought right much for the school. [Laughter]
PATTY DILLEY:
Yes, I remember people doing that one night when my father was bidding on my mother's box.
MRS. GILBERT:
Then this lady who lived close to us, Mary Rockett, was kind of an old maid. She taught school. But she had a boyfriend at that time, and they run hers up. How much was hers, Frank? They run it up to—that was money, you know, back then, when they didn't earn so much—seven dollars and something. Or did you give that much for mine? Do you remember?
FRANK GILBERT:
Eight dollars and something, I think it was.
PATTY DILLEY:
[Laughter]
MRS. GILBERT:
Well, then, hers was seven and something, and they run it up on her. [Laughter] He bought two. He bought one; somebody told him it was mine, and it wasn't mine.
FRANK GILBERT:
Well, that one. That one didn't cost so much. I got that one for two.
PATTY DILLEY:
[Laughter] Oh, you all had such fun.
MRS. GILBERT:
So that's how we met, and sometimes when I look at it, it's the best thing in the world we could have done. I was on the list where they judged the chickens that afternoon. Oh, they brought fruit and brought everything they had, just like any other fair. And I thought he never would get through those little chickens, and he was kind of an elderly-like old bachelor, and I was so tired I didn't know what to do. So I went in the schoolhouse [Laughter] when I got through, and I got me a big old apple. I didn't care whose it was; I was tired. And I got up in the schoolhouse building, and I had that apple in my hand, and I looked up, and he had a camera and was going to make my picture, and I pulled the window down. [Laughter] And he said he was going to get me in a good pose for him. He said, "How about throwing me that apple?" I told him he could come up and get it, and then he did.