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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Flake and Nellie Meyers, August 11, 1979. Interview H-0133. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Views on child rearing and child labor

Flake and Nellie Meyers explain their approach to child rearing in terms of the children's contribution to the family economy. Since both Flake and Nellie had to work as adolescents in order to supplement the family income, they both worked hard as adults to make sure their children would not have to do likewise. They explain how their children did work, either on the family farm or outside of the home, but that they were allowed to keep the extra money they made to do with as they pleased. Their sense of pride in their ability to do so suggests the importance of upward mobility.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Flake and Nellie Meyers, August 11, 1979. Interview H-0133. 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:
When your kids were still living at home and they were making money, would you do the same thing that your parents did? Would you all get the money?
FLAKE ORAN MEYERS:
No, ma'am, we never took a penny of our children's money.
NELLIE MAE WORKMAN MEYERS:
No, sir. If they made it, they kept it.
PATTY DILLEY:
And you wouldn't charge them any room and board.
NELLIE MAE WORKMAN MEYERS:
Oh, law, no. [Laughter] They didn't stay with us like we did our parents. They married earlier.
FLAKE ORAN MEYERS:
All our children, when they was at home, they'd help us out on the farm. Like she said, she tried to farm when I worked in town.
NELLIE MAE WORKMAN MEYERS:
I'd take the children and I'd send them on to the field, and it wasover a mile from where we lived to where we had to go to work. And I'd send them on to work, and I'd stay at home and cook dinner and then carry it all way up there about eleven o'clock, and we'd eat dinner, and then they'd sit down and rest, and then we'd go back to the field. It was kind of hard, but it seemed like we had a good living. But I couldn't tell we was any better off when we quit farming; it didn't seem to. . . .
FLAKE ORAN MEYERS:
It kept the boys out of meanness.
PATTY DILLEY:
This was in the summertime, when they'd be off from school?
FLAKE ORAN MEYERS:
In the summertime, when they was off from school.
NELLIE MAE WORKMAN MEYERS:
They wasn't mean.
FLAKE ORAN MEYERS:
No, but they could have been mean. And they drove the school busses.
PATTY DILLEY:
So they made a little extra pocket money?
FLAKE ORAN MEYERS:
Yes, they made some pocket money, and we didn't keep that.
NELLIE MAE WORKMAN MEYERS:
We've never taken a penny off of none of them.
PATTY DILLEY:
So that was a lot different than you and your parents.
NELLIE MAE WORKMAN MEYERS:
Yes, when I was raised up.
PATTY DILLEY:
When you all were working, did you ever resent that you never got to spend any of your own money?
NELLIE MAE WORKMAN MEYERS:
Oh, I cried more than one time. When we lived in Newton, the girls would come by and "Come on, let's go to the show." I said, "I can't. I don't have a penny." I just come out and told them that I didn't have a penny to go. They said, "Well, come on, I'll pay your way." I let them a couple of times, but I wouldn't all the time. That was too much. So I never seen the money.