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Title: Oral History Interview with Blanche Scott, July 11, 1979. Interview H-0229. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Electronic Edition.
Author: Scott, Blanche, interviewee
Interview conducted by Jones, Beverly
Funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this interview.
Text encoded by Jennifer Joyner
Sound recordings digitized by Aaron Smithers Southern Folklife Collection
First edition, 2007
Size of electronic edition: 116 Kb
Publisher: The University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
2007.
© This work is the property of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It may be used freely by individuals for research, teaching and personal use as long as this statement of availability is included in the text.
The electronic edition is a part of the UNC-Chapel Hill digital library, Documenting the American South.
Languages used in the text: English
Revision history:
2007-00-00, Celine Noel, Wanda Gunther, and Kristin Martin revised TEIHeader and created catalog record for the electronic edition.
2007-05-15, Jennifer Joyner finished TEI-conformant encoding and final proofing.
Source(s):
Title of recording: Oral History Interview with Blanche Scott, July 11, 1979. Interview H-0229. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series H. Piedmont Industrialization. Southern Oral History Program Collection (H-0229)
Author: Beverly Jones
Title of transcript: Oral History Interview with Blanche Scott, July 11, 1974. Interview H-0229. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series H. Piedmont Industrialization. Southern Oral History Program Collection (H-0229)
Author: Blanche Scott
Description: 104 Mb
Description: 29 p.
Note: Interview conducted on July 11, 1979, by Beverly Jones; recorded in Durham, North Carolina.
Note: Transcribed by Sharon King.
Note: Forms part of: Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Series H. Piedmont Industrialization, Manuscripts Department, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Note: Original transcript on deposit at the Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Editorial practices
An audio file with the interview complements this electronic edition.
The text has been entered using double-keying and verified against the original.
The text has been encoded using the recommendations for Level 4 of the TEI in Libraries Guidelines.
Original grammar and spelling have been preserved.
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Interview with Blanche Scott, July 11, 1979.
Interview H-0229. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Scott, Blanche, interviewee


Interview Participants

    BLANCHE SCOTT, interviewee
    BEVERLY JONES, interviewer

[TAPE 1, SIDE A]


Page 1
[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]
The audio for approximately the first thirty minutes of this interview is highly distorted due to a stretched and warped cassette tape.
BEVERLY JONES:
Miss Scott, could you tell me when you were born and where?
BLANCHE SCOTT:
I was born here in Durham, 1906.
BEVERLY JONES:
Could you give me a little information about your parents? Where your parents were from and what they did for a living?
BLANCHE SCOTT:
My parents came here from Winston-Salem. My mother's native home was in Winston-Salem; my grandmother's home was in Atkin County. So they came to Durham doing the work that he did in Winston-Salem was in factory work. My father, he was a tobacco roller in Winston-Salem. Then they decided they would come to Durham.
So they came here to Durham, and they was employed at the American Tobacco Company. They worked there for so long, then they went to Liggett and Myers. In the meantime, I was born in 1906. They used to let children go to school and work in the evening when they come from school.
BEVERLY JONES:
At Liggett and Myers?
BLANCHE SCOTT:
Yes. I used to go to West End School. I'd get out at the time we'd normally get out at 1:30. I'd come from school to the factory and worked from 2:00 until 6:00.
BEVERLY JONES:
So you began work as a child?
BLANCHE SCOTT:
As a child. I would work like that during the school term, and then in the summer, they'd let the children come and work all day until 4:00. You'd come in the morning at 7:00, and then we get off at 4:00 and go home, and that leaves the adults working.
BEVERLY JONES:
About how old were you when you began to work?
BLANCHE SCOTT:
In the factory? Going to school and work in the factory, around about twelve. So then, I worked like that until I got old enough that I could work all day. In the meantime, I went to work at sixteen years old in the factory. I worked from the time I was sixteen I worked

Page 2
twenty-four years. I was forty years old when I came out. So I practically spent most of my time working. I did go to school until I got old enough. At sixteen, I went to work regular. In 1946, was when I quit work. I had took this other course and went to doing a beautician.
BEVERLY JONES:
Let me get back to your parents. Your parents were working in tobacco. As a result, when they came to Durham, they also picked up working in tobacco, and that you began your first job working in tobacco. What were their names?
BLANCHE SCOTT:
My mother's name was Minnie Scott. My grandmother's name was Minnie L. Roxy. My daddy's name Richard. His home was in Virginia. They lived in Winston-Salem and come here. That's where they all died.
BEVERLY JONES:
You mentioned your grandmother's name. Is that on your father's or your mother's side?
BLANCHE SCOTT:
On my mother's side.
BEVERLY JONES:
Do you recall what she did?
BLANCHE SCOTT:
My grandmother? She worked in tobacco.
BEVERLY JONES:
So, we have that tradition going on from generation to generation.
BLANCHE SCOTT:
That's right because she worked in tobacco until she retired at the age of seventy-two. She was seventy-two when she came out of Liggett and Myers. She was in the first group of senior citizens that they put out on pension. She was in the first group, and she was seventy-two years old when she came out.
BEVERLY JONES:
Your grandmother also moved? Where was she living?
BLANCHE SCOTT:
They all come from Winston-Salem when they came here. My mother, she worked in a factory while her mama's health was never too good. She worked some, but not as regular as my grandmother did.
BEVERLY JONES:
Were you the only child?

Page 3
BLANCHE SCOTT:
No, I've got three sisters and a brother and I've got a brother dead. I don't know whether you know my brother or not, but Sam Scott, I guess you know him. So in '46 was when I came out from Liggett and Myers on my own because I had took the beautician course. In fact, it got so that I would get sick when I get inside. It begin to turn against me. So I came on out and took this beauty course. Finished that and I done hair for twenty years! [Laughter]
BEVERLY JONES:
What did you do as a child? You were going to school and you probably got out about 1:30, then you went to work at Liggett and Myers. What type of job did you do?
BLANCHE SCOTT:
Stemming tobacco.
BEVERLY JONES:
At thirteen!
BLANCHE SCOTT:
Un-huh. You know you see them take a leaf of tobacco, that stem that's in the middle? Well you take that stem and you pull it out. You see they pay you by pounds, how many pounds of stems you would get. They was paying us nine cent a pound. Then you had to get a hundred pounds to get nine dollars. When you made nine dollars, you feel like you had some money.
BEVERLY JONES:
You were doing something.
BLANCHE SCOTT:
Yeah. The day hands, they didn't get but so much because they used to work from 7:00 until 5:00 in the evening and work Saturday till 12:00. They didn't make but twelve dollars a week. They was day hands. As the years went by, they raised the wages more. When I quit in '46, they had raised me. I was working by the day then getting about thirty-five dollars a week.
BEVERLY JONES:
Did you ever make nine dollars?
BLANCHE SCOTT:
When I was a kid? No, the highest I made and went to school was five dollars. The foreman said to me one day, he looked at me and

Page 4
I was standing down on a stool because I weren't tall enough, he said, "Little girl, how much do you make a week?" I looked at him and I said, "Five dollars and go to school!" He said, "You do! You can buy your own shoes!" I said, "Yes sir!" See along then, they would let children—when you got old enough you could work all day—they would let you go to school. Along then, the elementary classes would get out at 1:00. Then the other class, from fifth to sixth, I got to get out at 1:30. Then that would give me a chance to walk from school to Liggett and Myers, and I'd get down there about 2:00.
BEVERLY JONES:
Did you work because you had to?
BLANCHE SCOTT:
I worked because I had to work. My mother stayed sick a whole lot. My grandmother and my grandaddy, they weren't making money. So, every little bit I tried to make would help mama.
BEVERLY JONES:
Were you the oldest in your family?
BLANCHE SCOTT:
I was the oldest of mama's children. I reckon I'll never forget it. The first pay I got was $2.50.
BEVERLY JONES:
Where do you think you developed this type of feeling of independence?
BLANCHE SCOTT:
Want to work? I always wanted to work. I'm small to my age. The first job that I ever got was when I was about nine years old, and I was making fifty cents a week.
BEVERLY JONES:
What type of job was that?
BLANCHE SCOTT:
Taking care of little boy just about two or three years old. I'd take care of him for fifty cents a week. I felt like I was making something. Along then, wages was low, and you could get two cakes of washing soap for a nickel. You could get a pound of fat back for a nickel. These [unknown] that we paying almost $2.00 a can, these [unknown] They was fifteen cent a can.

Page 5
BEVERLY JONES:
So that fifty cent went a long way.
BLANCHE SCOTT:
Oh yeah. I always wanted to work to help my mother because she stayed sick a lot.
BEVERLY JONES:
Was your family a very Christian family?
BLANCHE SCOTT:
Yes, they were, but they were very poor. They were poor.
BEVERLY JONES:
Where did you live in Durham?
BLANCHE SCOTT:
I lived up on the west end at [unknown] I first was reared down on the lower end of Duke Street, that street called Baxter. I was reared down there, and when my parents moved from down there, I was five years old, when we moved up on the west end on That's where we lived until I got married.
BEVERLY JONES:
From age thirteen you started working at the stemmery, stemming tobacco. Where did it progress from there? What other job did you…
BLANCHE SCOTT:
That was my biggest job.
BEVERLY JONES:
You stayed on that job—stemmery?
BLANCHE SCOTT:
Off and on because sometimes they cut children off, when they had to get a range of certain age to work. I need to be out and just go on to school and get another service job until they start back hiring at my age, and I'd go back again. Still I'd go to school between those times, because I was going over here to high school on Ramsey Street—that's where I was going—I would go in there and go from there and work in the factory.
BEVERLY JONES:
What age did you begin as a full time worker?
BLANCHE SCOTT:
I a full time worker at sixteen years old. When I came out I was forty. I gave twenty-four years to Liggett and Myers. In the meantime, I was going in to Liggett and Myers in the late years, I got tired of working in the factory, and my health begin to fail me. When I come out in the air I feel all right; when I go back to work, I feel so

Page 6
bad. So then I took up this beauty course. I'd work a part in the daytime and go to school at night. Then when they would transfer me in the daytime, I would work in the day and go on to school. That's the way I got this beauty course. I decided I wanted to finish something, so I did finish this course. I done hair for twenty-eight years. That was fifty-two years of giving work. Of course, I do a head every now and then, but it's not like it was then.
BEVERLY JONES:
At sixteen you started as a full time employee, a grown-up employee for Liggett and Myers and you were still stemming.
BLANCHE SCOTT:
Then they put me on the bottom working by the day in that time, but you would be still stemming on the line working by the day.
BEVERLY JONES:
What time did you have to go to work?
BLANCHE SCOTT:
We'd go to work at 7:00 in the morning and get out in the evening at 5:00.
BEVERLY JONES:
Did you have a time for lunch?
BLANCHE SCOTT:
Yes, we had a half hour.
BEVERLY JONES:
Was that enough?
BLANCHE SCOTT:
It had to be enough. You may of come out and eat your dinner in the cafeteria or wherever you wanted to go out and eat, and eat and go on back in.
BEVERLY JONES:
So they did furnish a cafeteria for you to eat.
BLANCHE SCOTT:
Oh, yes, they had a cafeteria in the later years. Since I been out from up there, it been thirty-three years since I been out. They made a big change, but they did have a cafeteria where you go over there and eat dinner. When you get through eating, then you'd go back in there and go back to work.
BEVERLY JONES:
Do you recall what other type of jobs women were doing other than stemming?

Page 7
BLANCHE SCOTT:
In the factory? Some of them was working on the belt taking bundles; I have done that too. Take your bundles, and the belt's running, tie it up. Then you take that at the end of the belt running. I have done that kind of work. Some lay'd lay the bundles, and I take them and let them run on down on the belt by this blade, and it cut the heads off. Then I have worked in a part where they hang tobacco. They had a [unknown] up there with bundles on them. You would take them bundles of tobacco and you hang it on a stick like that. I've done that too. Then I have sweep the floor. You know, they give us jobs to do. So I sweep while. I think I've done just about some of everything in there. [Laughter]
BEVERLY JONES:
While you were working up there, what type of relationship did women have with the foremen? Can you tell me whether the foremen were all white or were there some foremen that were black?
BLANCHE SCOTT:
They did have some colored foremans. Just like when you come up there to get a job, they could hire you; if they didn't like the way you do, they could have you fired. Mostly was white foremen, but they did have a few colored.
BEVERLY JONES:
What type of relationship did you have with your foreman that you worked with? Was he a nice person?
BLANCHE SCOTT:
Some of them was nice, but some of them was kind of rude. I always tried to do my work right, so they wouldn't have to just get on me about your work. Some of the foremans was nice, and some weren't.
BEVERLY JONES:
Do you know of any women that you worked around that were fired?
BLANCHE SCOTT:
Oh yes. They let you stem out your tobacco. They wanted it perfectly clean. They didn't want no tobacco hanging on that stem. Sometimes you leave too much tobacco on your stem, and they would come around. You'd have a little bundle of stems, and they'd pick it up

Page 8
looking all through it, all this tobacco on it. I seen one of the foremans when he went to a lady's table and look at her stems. When he said something to her and walk away, you see them getting down and taking their aprons off. He done fired her. That's the way they did do some when I was there. Then they formed the union. After the union come along, then they had to back the workmen.
BEVERLY JONES:
Did the foremen ever use real bad language around women?
BLANCHE SCOTT:
Yes, they did. Some of them used to do all that cursing and carrying on, but after the union was organized, they kind of eliminated that. Always you'll find some people with kind of, no principle. That kind of a person would cuss and raise with women. They used to do it bad, but after the union was organized, that kind of eliminated.
BEVERLY JONES:
Were pregnant women allowed to work up there?
BLANCHE SCOTT:
Along then, they would work some. I seen a many of them up there look like they ain't got no business up there, but I guess they had to work. So they did allow them to work up there a while.
BEVERLY JONES:
They did allow them to return after the baby was born?
BLANCHE SCOTT:
Yes, they'd come back after the baby was born. Stay out and come on back.
BEVERLY JONES:
Were there any type of particular clothes you had to wear when you first began to work up there, or you could just wear anything?
BLANCHE SCOTT:
When I first began to work up there, you begin to wear an ordinary dress. Then, they wanted you to wear uniforms. They were very pretty blue and white uniforms. The company, they would order them. They order your size, and then you pay for it because they would take it out of your pay before you get it.
BEVERLY JONES:
You didn't get them free?
BLANCHE SCOTT:
Oh, no, you didn't get them free. Not when I was up there.

Page 9
BEVERLY JONES:
You had to pay for them?
BLANCHE SCOTT:
You had to pay for your uniform. What they did in the later years after I left, I don't know, but when I was there, you had to pay for them. They did that so everybody could be looking alike. They did look right pretty. I need to get out in the afternoon, and you'd get out there at Five Points and see all them people coming down the street in blue and white.
BEVERLY JONES:
What about the women that you worked around? Did you form a very close relationship with the women that you…
BLANCHE SCOTT:
Yes, them that worked together? Yes, we all got along nicely. We would have a lot of fun together. We tried to keep it so the bossman couldn't see it, but we just got along nice together. We formed a little club. Just like your birthday's in one month, maybe in December, when your birthday come, all of us that worked there together, we'd go in and give so much money to you. Either we'd take the money and go and buy you a gift. It would make you feel very good. The little group that I was working with, they took up seventeen dollars, but I din't know what they had. Somebody came to me and says, "Look here, hadn't you rather have the money?" I said, "No, just get it in gifts." They went out at dinner time and came back, and they bought me more gifts. Towels and … I got a glass basket here now that they give me, and I've been out from up there thirty-three years. I got it now; it's a glass basket with a handle. I notice now whenever you see those baskets now, if you see any, they're high. Along then, things was cheap.
BEVERLY JONES:
So they just bought a whole lot of gifts?
BLANCHE SCOTT:
They bought me a whole lot of gifts. And they give me a set of doilies to go on the dresser? I got two of them on my dresser right now, and that's been thirty-three years ago. That's right.

Page 10
BEVERLY JONES:
You mentioned that working up there sort of affected you health-wise. Could you go into that a little more?
BLANCHE SCOTT:
It was a different type of tobacco that they worked in; the tobacco was called burly tobacco. It was very strong. If you had eat anything when you go there in the morning, it would get on down inside of you and make you so sick. That's one grade of tobacco I never did get used to all them twenty-four years that I worked there, I never did get used to it. When it would get on me, I had to turn my nose up. I'd take an orange peeling and hold it in my mouth, and that would keep me from getting sick. I never could stand that burly tobacco. It was very strong, and they'd be chicken feathers all through it. I guess it come from Kentucky, I suppose, chicken might of roost in it or something. But it would be chicken feathers in it and sometimes chicken manure's in it. We just had to work through it. I'd take the bundles and feel them. Back then I was working on a machine, and we'd lay them bundles down in a row. The belt run along by that big old blade that turn, and it just cut the heads off and it keep on going and fall down in the next room.
BEVERLY JONES:
How many times did you have to work with that type of tobacco?
BLANCHE SCOTT:
Sometimes we'd work on it two or three days. Then they'd change over and we'd get on this ripe tobacco, wouldn't make you sick like that other. It's regular tobacco.
BEVERLY JONES:
How did you get your first job at Liggett and Myers. You were working in school, how did you get that first job?
BLANCHE SCOTT:
When my grandmother was working there, she told me that there were a table empty by the side of her. So I told her to ask the bossman if he would hire me. I was working over to the Imperial Tobacco Company, and they make children work over there, and they had shut them off.

Page 11
BEVERLY JONES:
What was that? Imperial Tobacco Company?
BLANCHE SCOTT:
Imperial Tobacco Company. The building is still there. You go up Morris Street, and that big old building you see it up there opposite Liggett and Myers.
BEVERLY JONES:
Was that a part of Liggett and Myers?
BLANCHE SCOTT:
No, no, they worked with green seed, and they worked during the summer. They used to let children work there. I'd work over there. When they raised the age, and said children had to be a certain age to work, then I went to Liggett and Myers.
BEVERLY JONES:
So it was time for you to go.
BLANCHE SCOTT:
So there was this table my grandmother said it was empty. I went over to Imperial and when I got on the outside out there, he cut me off, and I came right over there to Liggett and Myers. Liggett and Myers started to work at 7:00, and it was 7:15. I went over there to the door; they had a man that keep the door. I told him I wanted to see my grandmother. She come to the door, and I asked him about this table. They done gone to work because it would have been too late for to come in behind, but I went. So I said, "Go and ask him," and she said, "Let me know," it was too late. But then I wanted to go and I followed her. Went on in and he was coming down the aisle looking at the people stem, and she touched him and asked him about that table and he would hire me. He said, "How old is she?" I was twelve. I got up on my tip-toe and held my grandmother in the back to balance myself and I said, "Fourteen." [Laughter] And I was little. He said, "Go on and give it to her." I went over there. That was the Lord helped me because I used to pray and ask the Lord help me to get a job because I wanted to help mama. So I went over there and got up on that stool and went to work.

Page 12
BEVERLY JONES:
You were still in school?
BLANCHE SCOTT:
Yeah.
BEVERLY JONES:
So you went to work after school. It was all right with him?
BLANCHE SCOTT:
When I went over there Imperial, it was during the summer. We was out of school. That's why I had a chance to get there that morning. Some of the girls that was with me say, "You go in and we wait out here, and if he hire you, you come and let us know." But I couldn't come back.
BEVERLY JONES:
Did any of your girlfriends ever…
BLANCHE SCOTT:
They was out there, so they had cut them off too. I told my grandmother about them and she said, "You go on and go to work." I couldn't go back and tell them I was hired. He wasn't going to hire them to pass work out. But I always did pray and ask the Lord to help me get a job. I wouldn't look to nobody but the Lord because I'm only twelve years old, and told that man I was fourteen. Little as I, I was on my tip-toes and balance myself against my grandmother's back so I could look tall.
BEVERLY JONES:
Did he give you that table?
BLANCHE SCOTT:
Yes, right side of her. I was by the side of my grandmother. She had a stool she put there for me to stand up on and went and got the tobacco and put it up there on the table. I stood up there and started stemming.
BEVERLY JONES:
Did you do stemming at Imperial or did your grandmother help you?
BLANCHE SCOTT:
You take a leaf of tobacco—the bossman would show you if you didn't know—you take a leaf of tobacco and he'd take that stem and show you how to pull it out. Then it's up to you how fast you could do it. You would have to try to work and get as many stems as you can. You had a pile to stem, that would be nine cent, but if you

Page 13
got a hundred, that would be nine dollars. I never did get that far at my age, but I did draw—they used to pay you off in money. They'd give you your ticket, and then you would go give it to him and the money man would come to the table. We'd give him the ticket and he'd pay you off in silver money. When I draw $6.50, I got to feeling I was rich. I run home, gave whatever's given to me to mama. Give mama the whole $6.50 and mama give me fifty cents. I was so glad to get that.
BEVERLY JONES:
You really loved your mother didn't you?
BLANCHE SCOTT:
Yes, because my mother stayed sick a lot. She'd take it and buy some of them clothes for me. Along then you could get material for ten cent a yard—pretty material! My mother would make my dresses.
BEVERLY JONES:
What about your other brothers and sisters?
BLANCHE SCOTT:
I was older than they was.
BEVERLY JONES:
Most of them were just in school.
BLANCHE SCOTT:
Un-huh. They didn't work in the factory like I did. I really wanted to go. I went to school and to the factory when I was going barefooted. I don't know how I was looking, but you had on a wide straw hat for ten cents. Mama made a apron with arm holes in it and then fasten it behind, and that's the way I went. I don't know how I was looking, but [Laughter]. My parents, they was poor, and I always wanted to have something. I was delighted to help mama. As I grew up older, got married and all that, but I still wanted something. I finished this course. I said I want me a modern home, that's what I wanted so well. I got a house, but didn't have no success getting my money. So then, at least I got this one.
BEVERLY JONES:
What age did you marry?
BLANCHE SCOTT:
Nineteen.
BEVERLY JONES:
What did your husband do?

Page 14
BLANCHE SCOTT:
Up there working in the factory. I know when he didn't make but $13.10 a week.
BEVERLY JONES:
That was a lot of money, wasn't it?
BLANCHE SCOTT:
Along then.
BEVERLY JONES:
Was your mother still living when you got married?
BLANCHE SCOTT:
Un-huh.
BEVERLY JONES:
Did the other brothers and sisters begin to help her?
BLANCHE SCOTT:
Mama, she married again. Then she moved over in North Durham. When I got married, on Avenue and moved out, my husband and I.
All my life I've been used to working. I didn't have the privilege to go to college. Along then, by the factory letting children work, it hindered a lot of children from finishing school because when they would go to the factory and draw they little money, they get excited, and they didn't want to go back to school. So I just went on.
BEVERLY JONES:
Did you finish high school?
BLANCHE SCOTT:
No, I didn't finish high school.
BEVERLY JONES:
How far did you go?
BLANCHE SCOTT:
To eighth grade. I was promoted to the eighth grade, but I didn't go through the eighth grade. But still, I had went enough to take this beauty course, and when I finished in the beauty course, I was ahead of three classes. At out graduation, I got a reward for having the highest mark of three classes. But I tell you what I learnt. When I was in the elementary school in second grade, I learnt my multiplication tables; people would call them times tables then. I learnt them then—I was in the second grade—and I learnt what they teach in the third grade was but I got ahead before I got there, and I learned every one of them. When I got in the third grade, I knew all of them. Today, you can

Page 15
ask me anything in the multiplication table and I would know.
BEVERLY JONES:
Did you stop at the eighth grade because you wanted to…
BLANCHE SCOTT:
I had to go to work. I went to work because I couldn't get clothes like I wanted to. I went to work and I was working then over at the Imperial hanging tobacco making $10.00 a week. Then I had to give mama five and I had to take that five and dress myself. So I have been working all my life. So I can appreciate these days I got here. Every now and then, I do a head of hair, but I don't have nowhere to wash the heads. I got sick, that was in '74. My pressure went up to 240, and that's when I give my shop up. I quit.
BEVERLY JONES:
Let's go back to that. I think it's interesting, your determination to acquire skills and to use it to make things better for you. When did you enter beautician school and what was the name of it?
BLANCHE SCOTT:
All Queens Beauty College was on Chapel Hill Street right there where—you know where Washington Hotel used to be—it was right cross the street from there on Chapel Hill Street—All Queens Beauty College.
BEVERLY JONES:
When did you enter that beauty college?
BLANCHE SCOTT:
I entered that during the time I was working in the factory. I went to beauty college and worked in the factory right on.
BEVERLY JONES:
Was that 30's, 40's?
BLANCHE SCOTT:
I finished beauty college in '46, and I think I went a year.
BEVERLY JONES:
How long did it take?
BLANCHE SCOTT:
It was nine months. What made me go in the daytime sometime was the way that my work was. Then I'd leave there and go to school. Then when I was working at night in the factory, then I would go to school in the day. That's what I kept up until I finished.
BEVERLY JONES:
Were you married during that time…

Page 16
BLANCHE SCOTT:
I was married, but my husband and I were separated.
BEVERLY JONES:
So you didn't have to take care of…
BLANCHE SCOTT:
No, because I was determined. I said, "Well, I wanted to finish something." I didn't get a chance in school, so I said I wanted to finish something, so I took that course. They let us march just like they did when we graduated. I was just so uplifted because to finish something and then made the highest mark of three classes. Two of those girls that went was college students, and she failed. The teacher was waiting to see what mark she was going to make, see if that mark would be higher than mine. When she finished, her marks weren't higher than mine. So the teacher said, "If she finish, she would be the valedictorian. Since she didn't finish"—long that time they were calling me "Fleming"—"Fleming can give the welcome address." So I gave the welcome address at the graduation.
BEVERLY JONES:
Was your mother living then? Was she able to see that?
BLANCHE SCOTT:
No, my mother was dead then, but my grandmother was living. She was living, she went to the graduation—her and my brother and my sister and my sister-in-law was living. But mama wasn't living. But anyway, I was just determined. You can have a determination till you want to do something worth more than just stemming tobacco. So you had to make up your mind.
BEVERLY JONES:
Were there other women that you knew of…
BLANCHE SCOTT:
Working in the factory and went to school? Yeah. They sure did. They went to school together. One of them said to me, she said, "Fleming, I wish I could do like you. When the teacher ask you something, you just kind of look up and then you tell her." [Laughter] I was really praying! It takes prayer to get through anything you do. I was forgetful, and I prayed and asked the Lord, "Now help me to remember."

Page 17
And so He did.
BEVERLY JONES:
What did you do in beauty college?
BLANCHE SCOTT:
When we went to beauty college, we had to study—they had this beautician's book that you had to study—tell you all about the hair, about chemicals, about the course of blood travel, and the bones—you had to learn all of that.
BEVERLY JONES:
That means anatomy…
BLANCHE SCOTT:
That's right, you had to learn all of that, and the names of it—all those bones, tell how many bones a person have in his body. I think it's two-hundred-six. All that! We had to go through that. I said, "How come you have to learn all this just to work on somebody's head?" They said they want you to know what you're working over. We had to learn that stuff too. I could tell them the course the blood travel and all about these arteries and capillaries. I had that stuff down good. When I went to take the state boards, they had this long paper with all them questions on it. We were supposed to take the state board that Monday—it was snowing on the ground too. I got off from work. That means we had Sunday, and it snowed. Monday, I didn't go back to work, I went to school to take that exam. But that teacher taught us that Sunday, had us to meet at her house and was telling us how to do. She said, "When you go there, don't let them catch you telling each other nothing." Some people'd get up and go to the bathroom, "Don't take your book, don't take nothing." She said they were like this, "They see you doing something, they act like they didn't see you and you will never hear from the state boards."
[END OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]

[TAPE 1, SIDE B]

[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]
BLANCHE SCOTT:
That's where we took the state board at. At 10:00 that morning, they was there on time. First thing, we had to go downstairs.

Page 18
I had a girl with me for to do her hair. They'd look at that and mark it. Then they'd tell you to go on upstairs. That was for you to go on up there and take your exam. So I did that; I went on up there to take my exam. Some people had said, "Don't get this old lady, get the young lady." But you didn't have no choice. When you get up there, you didn't know who had your name. The lady who called me was this young lady they say don't get. But she was just as nice as she could be. The only one thing, you just supposed to know what you know. So when I sit down there, there was a seat vacant between me and her. She was looking at me just like you looking at me. I got my eyes fixed in hers and couldn't take them out. Just as fast as she would ask me a question, just like that look like something inside of me was telling me what to say, and I answered them questions just like that. She said to me, "Oh, that's good!" I said, "Is that all?" She said, "Yes." A burden just lifted up off of me. Then she was through with me. When I heard from them again, they was handing me my license. So what you learn, you just hold on to what you know. I tell anybody, don't ever try the last minute, take the book and go all over different stuff. You get your mind confused. One lady, she had hers like that, and she got confused. I wouldn't even look at the book. When I got to go to those questions, the teacher said, "Forget that question," if you can't think of it right then, said, "Go on by and get to the next question and that'll come to you." And it sure did! So I went on to the next question, and it come to me. I went back and answer that other question, and I think I got the highest mark of three classes.
BEVERLY JONES:
The beautician's school that you went to to get your training, was it owned by blacks?
BLANCHE SCOTT:
Madame Rogers, she was black.
BEVERLY JONES:
Those that administered test, these were white?

Page 19
BLANCHE SCOTT:
Yes, it was white.
BEVERLY JONES:
And you got your license?
BLANCHE SCOTT:
Right on, I sure did!
BEVERLY JONES:
What did you do after that? after you got your license?
BLANCHE SCOTT:
I worked with a lady, Miss Stone; I worked in her beauty shop with her. She kept telling me, she said, "Blanche, you can't give up your trade and work in the factory and do hair." She said, "Why don't you come on out of the factory?" I'd been working in the factory so long, I kind of was hesitant of coming out.
BEVERLY JONES:
That means you went to the factory from 7:00 to 5:00 and you did hair after 5:00?
BLANCHE SCOTT:
No, they had changed then. Instead, we would go out in the afternoon around 4:30. Then I would go from there, get washed up there downstairs in the dressing room—they had hot and cold water down there. Then I'd get washed down there and put my white uniform on and then go on to school. That's just the way it was. Madame Rogers, she was very, very good. What you learn under her, you knew it. I heard now that she was dead, and her school went on out. Weren't nobody here then that could show you something.
BEVERLY JONES:
So about '46, you decided that you were going to give up the job at Liggett and Myers?
BLANCHE SCOTT:
Yes, I did. The lady kept telling me, so the way I did, I asked for two weeks vacation from the factory. I was working at the weekends with her when I get off from work. I'd go down her house and work. She told me, "Can't you get by, if I pay you twenty dollars a week for shampooing for me. Then what you make …" She would let me have that and weren't going to charge me nothing till I got my trade work done. So she kept on at me, so I decided to try it. So when I asked

Page 20
for a two weeks' vacation off at the factory, and I end those two weeks, I was kind of seeing how I was going to like it. So I done right nicely. All the people that would come to her, she didn't give oil washings. All them that would come to her for oil washings, they'd get me. The other girl that worked with her couldn't stand oil, because she had sinus. So I got the oil wash people and then some more. So I was doing fine. So when the two weeks was out, I didn't go back. Then they had these committees from the union to come out—I had overstayed my time. So they came to see if I was going to come back. I told them, no I wouldn't go back. He said, "I wish you good luck." I haven't been back since, and that was in 1946. From '46, I did hair for twenty-eight years, and that was 1974. I got sick then and had to give up my shop.
BEVERLY JONES:
I know you had a shop on Roxborough. When did you start it and what gave you the incentive to start it, and how did you develop that relationship? I think it was three of you working in the shop together.
BLANCHE SCOTT:
During the time that I was working with Miss Stone, these other two people, I didn't know them because I was working with her at her house; her shop was at her house. Then she moved up there close to up the street. When she moved up there, she had two girls working with her—three with myself. We worked together five years. Then she decided that she would move her shop over here on Alston Avenue to her house—in that time, she bought a house over here on Alston. Those three girls came over with her; that left me over there. Then, Miss Hayes that worked with me, she had come up here and was working with Miss Stone for a while. When Miss Stone moved, Miss Hayes asked me, "Miss Scott, why don't you aks me to work with you?" So then she worked with me. We didn't know each other. Then when Miss Wilson

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came, she came in and the three of us was there together. All three of us had finished in '46. Miss Haynes was in South Carolina, and she finished in 1946. Miss Wilson was in Tennessee; she finished in 1946, and I was here in Durham, and finished in '46. We got together—it was a conincidence—we worked together then for twenty-three years. I told them, "I'm going to have to leave you all," I said because I weren't able. That was on a Christmas Eve, they was doing my customers' hair for me because I weren't able to come back and do it. Then they said, "Well, I'm going to free to." When they finished on Christmas Eve, my sister and her husband took his pickup truck up there and brought my stuff home. I divided some with them. We all took the leave 1974.
BEVERLY JONES:
So you just closed the shop?
BLANCHE SCOTT:
Just closed the shop. Miss Haynes, she's over on Miss Wilson is out to Kennington Road, but we keep in touch—call each other.
BEVERLY JONES:
From that you were able to buy this beautiful home?
BLANCHE SCOTT:
Yes, this house, I moved here in 1955, the first day of December, and I can say "Thank God, it's all paid."
BEVERLY JONES:
You never had any children?
BLANCHE SCOTT:
No, I didn't have any children.
BEVERLY JONES:
But you were able to make something out of it?
BLANCHE SCOTT:
Just make it out anyway. I tell them now, I can see now the benefit of having a family, but since I'm the only family—I don't even have a cat. I don't like dogs and cats. So that makes me be alone, but I do have students. For seventeen years, I kept students after I moved in. Dr. Brown, Rose Butler, she was working over there, and I was doing her hair. She called me "auntie" because E.T. called me "auntie" because Sam called me "auntie." She said

Page 22
"Auntie, don't you want me to put your name on the list over there at the college for students?" I told her yes. Every since that time, I haven't had no trouble getting students. Those that come in and stay, they'd tell somebody else, and they would come. The lady over there called me one time, "Miss Scott, don't you want to exchange them boys for girls?" I said, "No ma'am."
BEVERLY JONES:
You have boys?
BLANCHE SCOTT:
Boys. So far now, I don't have but just one. I keeps a room vacant just in case my sister comes sometime and visit. This young fellow, he's just nineteen, and he's just as nice as he can be. Now, all them I come in contact with were good, nice. I had a couple here, the preacher and his wife. I had some married couples to come in and stay. That was company to me. I was glad to know that somebody would be in the house. This little fellow what stay here now, he's gone home—gone to Englewood, New Jersey, that's his home—to visit his mother. He called me Sunday, said he'd be back tomorrow at Thursday. With the help of the Lord, I've got along just fine. You have to put God in the front, you can't do nothing without him. So with His help, I've made it this far.
BEVERLY JONES:
While you were working at the factory and working as a beautician, you were also active at Mount Vernon Baptist Church?
BLANCHE SCOTT:
Yes.
BEVERLY JONES:
So your Sundays were spent…
BLANCHE SCOTT:
In church. I never will forget it, we had Easter, and I didn't get home that morning till just about daybreak, up all night. I just laid down enough till the light got light enough for me to come home. I was up the street then. I came on there, and our choir had to sing that morning. I wanted to sing because we had some pretty

Page 23
songs to sing. We were processioning then in. I came in that Sunday morning, and I was rest broken. Marching down the aisle, I kind of swayed a little bit, but I got back in step. I went on sing and came on back home. I think I laid down. Miss Stone laid me out. Somebody told her that Blanche staggered in the line. [Laughter] I still had a desire to go. I didn't put down my church activities, I just kept them going. With the help of the Lord, I made it through.
BEVERLY JONES:
Were you the only one in your family, that commitment to try to do something and able to establish a business of your own which is really remarkable?
BLANCHE SCOTT:
I'm the only one that established a business, but my nephew, he finished college. He taught for four and a half years; that's my brother's boy.
BEVERLY JONES:
Are your sisters and brothers living?
BLANCHE SCOTT:
I've got one brother and two sisters. One of my sisters is a nurse, and the other one, she's in Philadelphia, been there round about twenty years. She does doemstic work. My brother's boy, he finished college, and he taught four and a half years. Now, he's back here. He's married. He and his wife lives out to Emory Woods. He's got a good job. He works at the … what you call it?
BEVERLY JONES:
IBM?
BLANCHE SCOTT:
Um-hum. My brother, he would always sell products. He'd keep his job. He's a part-time car salesman now, but he keeps his job right on. That's what he did, he sells different things and sell cars and still keep his job.
BEVERLY JONES:
You were in a very good business, though, beautician, that's a very good business. Did you have any problems trying to maintain that business from when you started up till '74? Were there any

Page 24
problems that you ran into that faced a woman in business?
BLANCHE SCOTT:
Work problems? A little problem with permanents, a lot of people started getting their hair straight with permanents. Still, we got plenty work if it was. We didn't have such a bad problem of working because we would have a lot of customers to come in to get their hair done because everybody didn't like permanents.
BEVERLY JONES:
You had a regular business, and you and the other women working had a personality that went along with the business, so you know you kept a good clientele. There probably wasn't problem with that at all.
BLANCHE SCOTT:
That's right. Right today, I met a customer of mine up on Main Street since I been here. "Miss Scott, please take me, let me come back." Now, I'm diabetic and I've got a bad heart, high blood pressure. I couldn't work now as much as I did then, although I do a head every now and then. But they wash their head at home, and when they come here, I just straighten it and curl it for them. That ain't too many; I just do every few every now and then. I tell them, I said, "At times, I get nervous and don't feel like doing it." So those that come, they're willing to come as I am.
BEVERLY JONES:
What would you say to a young black person who has not really experienced much in life, being fifteen or something like that? What advice would you give them in regards to their future?
BLANCHE SCOTT:
One thing about it, you got to have the ambition in you to want to do. Maybe you're not financially able to go to school and finish, but if you get enough learning that you can take up some kind of course. Now they require you to have high school education; you have to finish high school to go and take this beauty course now. When I took it, you didn't have to finish high school, but they were talking

Page 25
about making it a law that you would have to finish. So I finished during the time that you didn't have to finish high school; that's how I got by. But you had to know what you know, for those words was hard. You had a lot to memorize, and like I told you, it takes prayer to do all this stuff because you can't do it by yourself. First, you got to have the ambition that you want to do. If you really want to do something, you'll go and do it. You'll try and put forth an effort anyway. If you put forth an effort and you're sincere with this effort, you'll be bound to win whatever you want to accomplish. These young people today, they got a lot of things they can do now. It do require high school education, I learned. Is that so?
BEVERLY JONES:
Yeah.
BLANCHE SCOTT:
That's why I say, I had to see a child drop out of school because if you don't finish high school, it's kind of hard. When you go to apply for a job, they're going ask you what school did you finish or what college. Then if you say, you didn't finish school, and you didn't finish high school, they might think that you ain't qualified to do much. I was so glad that I did escape by it. When I heard about they say you had to finish high school, I went right on in there.
BEVERLY JONES:
You mentioned your grandmother and your mother and your father. Which of those individuals played a paramount part in your life?
BLANCHE SCOTT:
My people, they didn't finish school. As I said, they were poor. They didn't finish school, and they had to work in tobacco. That's how I come in and know about tobacco was through them, by them working there. As far as they was able, they done what they could.
BEVERLY JONES:
You said you always wanted to work and always wanted to be independent. Which of these three, or maybe all three made an impact on your life? Usually when you're growing up, the family plays such a tremendous role in instilling certain things in your life. Maybe it

Page 26
was your grandmother that had talked to you.
BLANCHE SCOTT:
I looked at my grandmother would get up in the mornings. There used to be a whistle blow at 6:30. She got up one morning, and the 6:30 whistle was blowing, and she was late. She got up in a hurry, nervous and everything. She told me to get her a cup and put some molasses in that and a biscuit in a bucket. I fixed that and give it to her. She went running. I looked at her running, going to work. I thought about that. I wanted to be so when I growed up that maybe I wouldn't have to go out like that. But I did start—lot of times you have to start at things you don't want—you have to work on that till you can do better. I learnt from her going out like that in the morning because my mother would be home a lot of times sick. Sometimes mama would go to work and then she'd come back sick. She had some kind of palpitation at the heart. It made me want to when I grow up, I wanted to have something. I was going to work one morning, and I saw a schoolmate of mine. She was bringing her daddy to work in a car, beautiful car. He was a colored foreman at Liggett and Myers. I looked at her and I thought about myself. I wanted to have something one day, so I just didn't stop. I just kept on till I did get a chance. I used to worry, where in the world would I get a shop at, I didn't know. It was fixed so, when Mildred give her shop up, I kept that one. I looked at my grandmother and I wanted to do better than that as I grew up. I wanted to have something because my people, they didn't own their home. They didn't own anything, just poor people, but I wanted to have something before I died. But you got to have that ambition to do it. I went to graduation one Sunday, they had it at Mount Vernon church. That was the year that Thelma Hughes and Florence Roland, they finished. I looked at those children marching in—I was grown—I sit there and looked at them and deep down

Page 27
inside I was wanting to finish something. I even dreamed I was marching with a robe. When I did take this course, my dream come true because I was marching down Mount Vernon aisles with a grey robe on. That's where we had our graduating exercise—Mount Vernon church.
BEVERLY JONES:
You seemed to be a very strong-willed and very determined…
BLANCHE SCOTT:
Well, you have to. When you come up like I did, I just tell it like it is, we were poor people. I'm not rich now, but I got more than we had then. When you make it up in your mind that you going to do something worthwhile, then you going pull toward that and you're going pray for it too. The Lord made a way for me all the way through.
BEVERLY JONES:
Did your husband have the same idea about life?
BLANCHE SCOTT:
No, that's how come me and my husband weren't together, I left him rather. He was wild. He'd run around with women and drink. We was buying a house over there—me and him together—was buying a house and got it paid down to $200, just $200. He had done me so bad, I just left him. I decided I didn't want to stay there no longer and take it, and I left. But that didn't stop me from still wanting something.
BEVERLY JONES:
I can imagine that was really a big decision to make.
BLANCHE SCOTT:
It was a big decision because we didn't ever go back together. We were separated five years when he got a divorce. The settlement had to be made on that house over there with me. He did pay me at that time. He asked me how much did I want him to give me. Do you know what I told him? One thousand dollars. That's what I took, one thousand dollars. The house was $2,900, and from 1927 till 1941, the house wasn't paid for. Didn't take but $200, but in that length of time, he would throw money away with women—big-timey—tell me about Johnny Scarborough one time, kind of whiskey Johnny drinking. Johnny could make more money in a…

Page 28
BEVERLY JONES:
The owner of the funeral home business?
BLANCHE SCOTT:
Yeah! So he just throwing away money, and I seen I wasn't getting nowhere there, so I just left. But I still had the determination I wanted something. Sure enough, the Lord helped me to get in. It's not the finest place, but it's better than I ever had.
BEVERLY JONES:
This is a very nice home.
BLANCHE SCOTT:
I thank the Lord for it.
BEVERLY JONES:
I would hear my mother and father talk about when they were growing up and how hard it was. It makes you feel good when you know people that, despite the obstacles that they had to endure, that they have accomplished so much in life.
BLANCHE SCOTT:
That's right, I didn't give up. I said with the help of the Lord, I do want a modern home. I'd look at other people's houses, then I'd think back over my life how we was poor and come up. After my husband paid me off, I took $900 and give it to my brother and said, "Go down there and buy that …" I thought it was going to be that lot up there on the corner. When he come to see about it, Watkins said that lot was sold. So he came down here, my brother did—all back there weren't nothing but woods—there weren't a house back there, just those houses up there and then one house up there across the street where Mrs. Culbertson live. But he came and picked this lot here. I didn't much like this lot, but he said he liked it, so I just let him go and get it. The lot was $875. I had his name on my bank book. Give him my book and told him to go head and draw the money and pay cash for the lot, so that's what he did. That's how I got the lot. Then I had to work and save money to get the down payment. So I did that. He said, "The only loan we can get will be FHA." I didn't want that because it took so long, but I didn't have enough money to pay for it the other way.

Page 29
The bank loan give two-third for it; you have to have the third. But I didn't have a third. I had to accept the FHA plan which was $11,050 that I would have to pay and the FHA took up the rest. So that's what happened. Them twenty years, from '55 till '74, and that was it. But when I got sick, my brother came down here—supposed to carry me to the hospital that morning for X-ray—he said to me, "I want to see your loan book." I was down to $974. He said, "I want to check your book." So he come and got me and carried me to the hospital. He said, "I'll come back and pick you up." The doctor was through with me before he got back, but I was waiting downstairs. It was pouring rain. He went on off, and when he came back, I went on out there and got in the car. He give me the book, he said, "There's your book. That's your house." He paid the $974 cash on my book and give me the book, said, "That's your house." So I got through a year ahead of time which made it nineteen years, but by him paying ahead of time, I got $600 back. I asked my brother, I said, "Do you want some of it?" He told me no, he didn't want none of it. So that's it. I paid a for it a whole year before the twenty years was out.
BEVERLY JONES:
You and your brother were quite close.
BLANCHE SCOTT:
Yeah, he's very nice to me, very nice. I made a will. There's no need to do nothing but just will him the house because he was nice enough to help me, and still he helps me. So I went up there and got a lawyer and had my will made up. So if I die, he gets the house.
BEVERLY JONES:
I want to thank you, Miss Scott, for letting me interview you today and I really enjoyed talking with you.
END OF INTERVIEW