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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Martha Cooley, April 25, 1995. Interview Q-0019. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Men and women gather separately

Cooley describes quilting and cornshucking. Women gathered to eat ice cream and sew quilts; men ate and shucked corn. Both activities showed Cooley that people in the early twentieth century were friendly and community-minded.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Martha Cooley, April 25, 1995. Interview Q-0019. 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

Did y’all ever do any quilt making, who taught you....
MARTHA COOLEY:
Yeah.
EDDIE McCOY:
How did you learn how.
MARTHA COOLEY:
I just saw my grandmaw make them. They had quiltings.
EDDIE McCOY:
Your grandmother on whose side?
MARTHA COOLEY:
On my daddy’s side.
EDDIE McCOY:
They had what? Quiltings?
MARTHA COOLEY:
Quiltings.
EDDIE McCOY:
A bunch of ladies come....
MARTHA COOLEY:
Come in and quilt, and have quilting, and they have freeze ice cream; freeze ice cream to pass around, and they had good times.
EDDIE McCOY:
And everybody work on their quilt?
MARTHA COOLEY:
Yeah. Quilted out at night. My grandmother, like you make a quilt, you make a quilt, and then you invite the women to come and make a quilt. And they had quilting at night, uh, and had it, where you could hook the ropes or, hook the quilt up in them frames, and the women sit around there quilting and quilt it out.
EDDIE McCOY:
And just gossiping, talking, have a good time.
MARTHA COOLEY:
Talking, uh huh. And have ice cream to eat. Maybe cake.
EDDIE McCOY:
Uh huh. What about corn shucking?
MARTHA COOLEY:
Lord have mercy. That was the men’s night. They had plenty of food cooked, and they would eat, and they had a good time, just a laughing and going on their at the corn pile and [unclear] But they lived, people lived then, they was friendly, they was close, they didn’t mind helping each other, do nothing. When one’s crop got behind, and he got kind of sick or something, people would [unclear]
EDDIE McCOY:
I had Mr. Curtis to tell me that, come from northern Granville, and he said that he had whites that live in the community, and they would do it for everybody.
MARTHA COOLEY:
I’m sure it, I’m sure we would.
EDDIE McCOY:
He said you didn’t have to worry anybody get sick or anything.
MARTHA COOLEY:
No, your crop was saved.
EDDIE McCOY:
That’s what he said.
MARTHA COOLEY:
They work together. People work together then, but now...
EDDIE McCOY:
They trust each other.
MARTHA COOLEY:
Yeah, but now they done got so educated they don’t want to do nothing.
EDDIE McCOY:
So, part of that messed them up to?
MARTHA COOLEY:
Yeah, that helped. That’s part, people used to help each other. Like if I want to have a quilting, I could tell my church members I want to have a quilting and I want y’all to come. [unclear] all them women around there quilt and quilt and quilt. [unclear] I didn’t do it, ‘cause I wasn’t old enough to start to doing that, yeah, but my grandmother used to, on Wednesday nights at the church, walking too. Walking. [unclear] Boy I had to go, and I couldn’t show I didn’t want to go either.