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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Millie Tripp, August 12, 1994. Interview K-0112. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

A single mother with a full-time job needs help

A single mother with young children, Tripp worked from 8:00 to 5:00. She relied on help from her mother and the flexibility of her employers, but she depended most on the African American maid she employed. This maid helped her avoid some of the problems that single working mothers encounter, she believes.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Millie Tripp, August 12, 1994. Interview K-0112. 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

VALERIE PAWLEWICZ:
I was thinking about you as a single mother raising her children. I know from talking to another woman that one of the advantages for her working at White's were the hours, that the hours were such that they were the same as the ones that her children were in school.
MILLIE TRIPP:
Pretty much.
VALERIE PAWLEWICZ:
And she found that convenient. Had she worked nine to five it would have been hard 'cause there would have been those hours.
MILLIE TRIPP:
Honey, I worked eight to five all the time. I never had any change, and I didn't have any choice, really. I had a maid that stayed with me five years and never missed a day when my children were young. So that was very fortunate, and today people don't have the in-house--. Then that was the only choice. We didn't have day schools and that kind of thing.
VALERIE PAWLEWICZ:
So your children were young?
MILLIE TRIPP:
Oh, yes.
VALERIE PAWLEWICZ:
They weren't in school?
MILLIE TRIPP:
Well, no, my daughter was probably in first grade when this came about, and my son was probably three, so in that age group. I had a maid that was a beautiful woman, a black lady that we very much loved. She came to the children's weddings and things.
VALERIE PAWLEWICZ:
What was her name?
MILLIE TRIPP:
Olie Mae Holt.
VALERIE PAWLEWICZ:
Olie Mae Holt.
MILLIE TRIPP:
She lived over in the West End. When I was looking for someone--. She used to baby-sit for Woody Durham. He was from Mebane as you may know. Do you know Woody?
VALERIE PAWLEWICZ:
I might.
MILLIE TRIPP:
The announcer on T.V.?
VALERIE PAWLEWICZ:
Okay, sure.
MILLIE TRIPP:
The Carolina guy. Well, she baby-sat for him, and his father was kin to my in-laws, the Tripps. Anyway, through them we learned of her and got her and was delighted the whole time. She was just wonderful. And, of course, it kept me from--. If the children were sick she could take them to the doctor or whatever. She did a nice job for us. She died just two years ago.
VALERIE PAWLEWICZ:
She was from Mebane?
MILLIE TRIPP:
Yes, she lived over in West End. She was just a wonderful woman. Really helped me. I had a good supportive family from my family all those years. My mother pitched in whenever. So anyway, I did not have the problem that often I see today that they do. So after we quit having Olie Mae my next door neighbor, who were in their 60s or so the and had been friends, neighbors of mine when I first moved to Mebane, we were very close with them, and they looked after the children for me right next door, this drive between. So anyway, it worked out very well for me. I didn't have the problems that so many find.
VALERIE PAWLEWICZ:
Did Olie Mae work the entire day or would she come in for certain hours?
MILLIE TRIPP:
No, I picked her up before I went to work. The children would ride with me to go pick her up and bring her back. Then I took her home at five o'clock.
VALERIE PAWLEWICZ:
Okay.
MILLIE TRIPP:
So she stayed. She did the cooking, looked after the house and the children.
VALERIE PAWLEWICZ:
Was that common to have someone to come in?
MILLIE TRIPP:
That was the way you almost had to do it unless you had a family member who was going to do it because they didn't have day schools, these things you can carry them to like we do. I guess people, maybe, carried them to somebody's house or something like that, but you didn't have those if they had somebody, people kept them like that. A lot of my friends and the people I knew back then did that. That was a job for them for the people who needed work of that kind.
VALERIE PAWLEWICZ:
As a mother, say your child was sick, was the furniture factory open to you going home?
MILLIE TRIPP:
If I needed to go, which people didn't take advantage, I don't think, I don't remember anybody doing that, but if I needed to go to something I could go. If I had to run to the dentist or if I had to do this, I could run do that. Then they were not as--at that time--the feeling, I think, almost everywhere was that you weren't as free to run and do as you do today.
VALERIE PAWLEWICZ:
You were not as free then?
MILLIE TRIPP:
No, but if you had some--. I never had any problem or anything if I needed to take Sue to the doctor or whatever, but my children were fortunate. They were not sick other than they had the childhood diseases so I didn't have any real problems the whole time for myself or them, fortunately. But they would work with you.