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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Louise Pointer Morton, December 12, 1994. Interview Q-0067. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Living conditions for rural African American family in the early twentieth century

Morton offers another window through which researchers can view life in rural Granville County, North Carolina, during the 1910s and 1920s. Morton explains that her family did not having electricity or running water. Her primary focus here, however, is in describing the ways in which her family butchered its own livestock and prepared the meat. Exclaiming "We eat! My family, we eat," Morton demonstrates a special sense of pride in her family's ability to sustain itself, despite lacking various kinds of economic luxuries.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Louise Pointer Morton, December 12, 1994. Interview Q-0067. 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

EDDIE McCOY:
Now what about the pigs? Did y'all sell some of the meat, or eat it all?
LOUISE POINTER MORTON:
No sir. No sir. Them great big hogs like this here, when they killed them hogs, had a smokehouse for them hogs.
EDDIE McCOY:
A smokehouse? What's a smokehouse?
LOUISE POINTER MORTON:
That's where you keep meat, keep hog meat. And when time comes to smoke it, make up a fire and that smoke would smoke that meat. That was the best tasting meat ever you seen. That's what I say, you—.
EDDIE McCOY:
That smoke take what out of the meat?
LOUISE POINTER MORTON:
That smoke went in that meat. Hickory something. Some kind of hickory wood and burn and smoke that meat. After it had them seasoning, smoke that meat.
EDDIE McCOY:
And that put them flavor in the meat?
LOUISE POINTER MORTON:
Yeah, after this little seasoning. When they kill the hog, when they first—they put salt on it and all that, you know. And then after that meat got dry, wash that salt off it and then put black pepper and all that on it and hang it up in the smokehouse. Then they get hickory stuff and do a fire under, and then that hickory smoke go in that meat. That's the best tasting meat! You won't eat no meat this day and time that tastes like it would. In the fall of the year, kill a cow. Kill a cow and get the entrails out of her and all. Hang that cow up in the barn. We eat! My family, we eat.
EDDIE McCOY:
The cows, too.
LOUISE POINTER MORTON:
Whole—kill a whole cow. Fall of the year, hang up in the barn. Now, I'm telling you facts what I know.
EDDIE McCOY:
Did y'all have electric lights in the school?
LOUISE POINTER MORTON:
No.
EDDIE McCOY:
What'd you have?
LOUISE POINTER MORTON:
A lamp.
EDDIE McCOY:
A lamp?
LOUISE POINTER MORTON:
A lamp and a lantern that we had in our home.
EDDIE McCOY:
What's a lantern?
LOUISE POINTER MORTON:
A lantern's something that gives light. A lantern with a handle like the men tote at night going to the barn and all like-a-that.
EDDIE McCOY:
What got holes in the top of it?
LOUISE POINTER MORTON:
Uh-huh, a lantern. You ain't never—.
EDDIE McCOY:
You put it in the [chicken coop]?
LOUISE POINTER MORTON:
Huh?
EDDIE McCOY:
Uh-huh. [I ain't never seen—.]
LOUISE POINTER MORTON:
You didn't ever—. Oh, they had more lanterns. Everybody had a lantern, with the globe, the wick and all up there. And the lantern had a handle you'd hold in your hand and go at night. That way you see at night, them menfolks. Man, you don't know nothing!
EDDIE McCOY:
Where'd y'all get your water from, a well at home? Or y'all—?
LOUISE POINTER MORTON:
We had a spring. We'd get water from a spring.
EDDIE McCOY:
How far was it from your house?
LOUISE POINTER MORTON:
This spring won't far. Just right down the hill to the spring.