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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Florence Dillahunt, May 31, 2001. Interview K-0580. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Growing up on a tobacco farm in Pitt County, North Carolina

Dillahunt describes growing up near Grifton, North Carolina, on her family's tobacco farm. Dillahunt was the youngest of six daughters and she recalls how they all helped out with the farming. In addition, Dillahunt describes briefly what it was like for her father as a tobacco farmer during those years.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Florence Dillahunt, May 31, 2001. Interview K-0580. 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

LEDA HARTMAN:
What do you remember from your childhood? What was it like growing up here in the thirties?
FLORENCE DILLAHUNT:
Well, it was good growing up. We worked. My mother and daddy had six girls. No boys. So the girls done the work, when we got old enough.
LEDA HARTMAN:
You were the farmhands?
FLORENCE DILLAHUNT:
Yes, we were the farmhands. [unclear] every day. Sure did. Yes.
LEDA HARTMAN:
What all did you grow?
FLORENCE DILLAHUNT:
We grow cotton, tobacco, and soybeans. My daddy didn't have no wheat at that time. And he didn't grow too much cotton. He grow a little bit. And peanuts. He had peanuts.
LEDA HARTMAN:
How was it to make living? Was it tough in those days, or was it okay?
FLORENCE DILLAHUNT:
It was okay.
LEDA HARTMAN:
Yes.
FLORENCE DILLAHUNT:
I liked it. At that time, I didn't think I did. But considering now, I liked it.
LEDA HARTMAN:
How come?
FLORENCE DILLAHUNT:
Because the way things were then, to me, is better. It was better than it is now. You have more convenience and everything, but otherwise, you know, how people live now. At that time, we didn't have to lock no doors. We lay down and go to sleep, didn't lock no doors. You could have your windows up. But now you can't do that. You leave them up, somebody might come in. But at that time we did. My daddy cured tobacco. We were wanting to stay to the barn with it and finally he let us go and stay to the barn one night. We thought he was going to stay and we woke up and he was gone. We didn't ask to stay to the barn no more.
LEDA HARTMAN:
So you were minding the store.
FLORENCE DILLAHUNT:
Yes. We wouldn't stay out there no more. Daddy left us by ourself.
BETTY HOWES:
That's because the tobacco barn had to be stoked with wood during the night. And you slept in the barn. Somebody had that job.
FLORENCE DILLAHUNT:
Yes. Had to fire them [unclear] all night long.
LEDA HARTMAN:
So tobacco brought in pretty good money for him?
FLORENCE DILLAHUNT:
At that time.
LEDA HARTMAN:
At that time.
FLORENCE DILLAHUNT:
At that time. You grow what you want to grow. You didn't have no tobacco allotment like you do now.
LEDA HARTMAN:
That's right. And you didn't have the price supports then either, did you?
FLORENCE DILLAHUNT:
No, we didn't have that.
LEDA HARTMAN:
So it was kind of a gamble. You'd try to get the best price you could.
FLORENCE DILLAHUNT:
That's what my dad always said. He said farming was gambling. Yes.