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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with George R. Elmore, March 11, 1976. Interview H-0266. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Growing up on a farm near Gastonia, North Carolina

George Elmore grew up on a one-acre farm near Gastonia, North Carolina. He describes how he helped his father plow once he reached the age of nine. He shares tidbits about his parents as well, including his father's tendency to spend most of his income on liquor and his mother's contributions in the cotton field and in the garden.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with George R. Elmore, March 11, 1976. Interview H-0266. 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

BRENT GLASS:
What kinds of responsibilities did the children and parents have on the farm when you were growing up? What did your father do, for instance?
GEORGE R. ELMORE:
Well for years he did some of the plowing. Most of the time he would get a hired hand and telling them… I got up to about nine or ten years old and I started to make a supplemental plowhand. And of course my brother three and a half years older, the burden fell on him.
BRENT GLASS:
Because your father was out doing carpentry?
GEORGE R. ELMORE:
Yes, and of course he ran that shop. He lost the store, and it was moved down to the crossroad. He could do most any kind of woodwork. And when he was a carpenter he did the finished work, such as hanging doors and finishing off cabinets and things of that kind. And of course he could rebuild and make a wagon, a buggy.
BRENT GLASS:
Did he earn very good wages during this time?
GEORGE R. ELMORE:
I wouldn't think so. His big problem was that he started drinking when he was about twenty-eight. Then he'd get a little bit and order him a gallon of liquor from Richmond.
BRENT GLASS:
Richmond, Virginia?
GEORGE R. ELMORE:
Yes. North Carolina was dry. And he would stay with that. And all his friends and everybody else would gather around the shop until they run out of liquor before things straightened up again. And of course if anybody else gets a gallon of liquor everybody got in on it. Back in that time you didn't say, "This man drinks;" we would point out to one or two men in the neighborhood: "He does not drink." To be a man in that town at all you had to be a man… And they drank, most of them, 'til they got drunk. But there never was too much trouble; all of them had grown up together. And it was quite a community there, six miles below Gastonia. Now it's build up, it's solid; but it was called Elmore Crossroads.
BRENT GLASS:
What kinds of things did your mother do around the house? Was she a hard-working… ?
GEORGE R. ELMORE:
Oh my, I could tell you: she did the milking, she did the gardening. And she helped hoe and pick cotton in the field, and raised those kids. She planted all kinds of orchards; she had a green thumb. She was a whiz-bang. She wasn't but seventeen years old when she married my father.