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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Paul and Pauline Griffith, May 30, 1980. Interview H-0247. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Balancing work and family in a working community

Paul and Pauline Griffith explain how they balanced work and family. After their daughter was born, they alternated shifts and hired a maid to help with the housework. For the Griffiths, it was important for one of them to be with their child, although it was also necessary for both of them to work. Their approach to this dilemma demonstrates one way in which working families could successfully balance the demands of work with those of family.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Paul and Pauline Griffith, May 30, 1980. Interview H-0247. 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

ALLEN TULLOS:
Would people sometimes want to come to, say, nurse their babies, or go to a ball game, or go fishing, and not have other people around their looms for them. Could they work out arrangements so they could take off an hour or two?
PAULINE GRIFFITH:
They didn't allow that much, did they?
PAUL GRIFFITH:
Not unless you got sick, or if you sent out and get somebody to come in and work in your place. They do that a lot of times. A lot of times they sent out and tried to get somebody to come in and work on your job, and let you off.
PAULINE GRIFFITH:
When our daughter was little, I changed from the first shift to the second so he could be with her on one shift, even though we had a maid to come in and do work. We wanted to know what was happening. Because, one time in particular, she cried every time I'd leave her, and this maid didn't seem to be too nice. I mean, she was ill. So she didn't get to stay long. But him being with her on one shift and me the other, we could do very well. But we bought her a piano as soon as we could, and she's a music teacher. I thought of the days when she would have little ones, she could teach music in the home, and she's done that. It's been a good livelihood as well as being a minister's wife, and being president over all that area of where they live, of the missionary ladies.
ALLEN TULLOS:
Was it a pretty common practice for a husband and wife with young children to make that sort of arrangement, with alternating shifts like that?
PAULINE GRIFFITH:
Well, we did it to make sure we protected her, because, to me, when you have children, God gives them to you, and you're responsible how you bring them up.
ALLEN TULLOS:
Did other parents do that?
PAULINE GRIFFITH:
I didn't notice it, did you, Paul?
ALLEN TULLOS:
So this would have been unusual?
PAULINE GRIFFITH:
Uh huh. We tried to manage within our own family.
ALLEN TULLOS:
What about the maid? Where did she live and how often did she come to work?
PAULINE GRIFFITH:
She worked five days a week, and on Saturdays she'd come in and just do the beds and things like that.
ALLEN TULLOS:
Would she come in and clean and cook? And do the beds?
PAULINE GRIFFITH:
Things like that.
ALLEN TULLOS:
Was this a black woman?
PAULINE GRIFFITH:
Yes, she was a black woman.
ALLEN TULLOS:
Where did her family live?
PAULINE GRIFFITH:
She lived over. . . .
PAUL GRIFFITH:
About a mile from where we lived.