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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Margaret Kennedy Goodwin, September 26, 1997. Interview R-0113. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Courtship, marriage, and widowhood

Goodwin describes her short marriage during the late 1930s. Having met her husband while they were both students at Talladega College in Alabama, Goodwin and her husband were married by the late 1930s. After having moved briefly to Washington, D.C., because of her husband's job, Goodwin returned to Durham when he was drafted at the outbreak of World War II. Shortly thereafter, Goodwin was notified by telegram of her husband's death. She describes her the impact his death had on her and how she pulled through with the support of her family and her religious faith.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Margaret Kennedy Goodwin, September 26, 1997. Interview R-0113. 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

ANGELA HORNSBY:
Mrs. Goodwin, we were talking about, um, your husband. And I wondered if you could tell me when and where you met.
MARGARET KENNEDY GOODWIN:
We were classmates in Talladega College at Talladega, Alabama. And I think I knew the moment I put, laid eyes on him that that was the one for me. Fortunately, I was the one for him too. It doesn't always work out that way, but we were sweethearts all the way through school. And he was from New York City and I was from Durham, so we burned up a lot of telephone money. And, finally, I went to work in Norfork, Virginia, that was my first job away from home when I finished the training for medical technology. And, he asked me to marry him, said we were wasting time trying to get enough together to, you know, to start up a family and, and build a house and we were burning it up telephone wise and travel wise. So, he asked me to marry him and I said yes. He came to Durham, and asked for my hand in marriage, and we were married two years after we finished Talladega.
ANGELA HORNSBY:
And you were 21, were you 21 when you were married? And how old was he?
MARGARET KENNEDY GOODWIN:
He was six years older than I, he was 27. He had had to earn the money to send himself through school. His parents had died early and—he was wonderful. We just hit it off almost immediately. He [pause] was called to the Army a year and a half after we were married. Marsha was born while he was in the Army. And he got to see her three times before he died.
ANGELA HORNSBY:
What were those times?
MARGARET KENNEDY GOODWIN:
Just furloughs, you know, uh huh, weekends. And he'd sit her on his lap—she looked just like him. Still does. He'd sit her on his lap and talk to her and she'd giggle at him. I was just so grateful that she got to see him. We didn't know that he was going to die, but she does not remember him at all. But I've kept his picture in front of her and in her life.
ANGELA HORNSBY:
At one point, you lived in Washington?
MARGARET KENNEDY GOODWIN:
Right, we went to Washington right after we married because he was working for the government there in Washington and—
ANGELA HORNSBY:
What did he do?
MARGARET KENNEDY GOODWIN:
He worked at the, in the Census department and he was the manager of whatever they called it, his unit in the Census department. After I'd been there for a while, I worked for a short while in the Commerce department, but we only lived together for a year and a half and then he went to the Army and I came home.
ANGELA HORNSBY:
How did you like living in Washington, D.C.?
MARGARET KENNEDY GOODWIN:
Scared to death. Green out of the country, got lost everytime I walked a block away from my house. I realize now that Washington is a wonderful place to live, but, you know, he's at work, I know nobody in Washington and, it was just such a big place and I had come from such a little place I never quite adjusted. The people were always in a hurry, hurry, hurry to get everywhere or nowhere. They drank breakfast, dinner and supper, in all stratas and all—. You know, everything we went to they asked you was, ‘Can I give you a drink?’ And I didn't drink, so I just didn't fit in that society. I did not live there long enough to, you know, to get used to it and be amalgamated into that style of living, so.
ANGELA HORNSBY:
Where did you live while you were in Washington, D.C.? Did you have a —?
MARGARET KENNEDY GOODWIN:
We had a beautiful apartment, yes, on the northeast side of Washington. Not much furniture, but we had a beautiful apartment. And I washed clothes three times a day just to have something to do before I went to work. I worked in the commerce department in the printing shop. But I washed clothes, my little apartment was immaculate all the time because when I finished cleaning it once I just started all over again. In Washington, people next door, you know, they were not as friendly as people here. You didn't know your next door neighbor. I'd go down the street smiling at folks and speaking and Lewis would say, ‘Honey, they're not used to that.’ [Laughter] 'Cause nobody spoke back. But, finally before I left, my immediate neighbors were speaking and smiling back at me and I wondered what would happen if it had taken, you know, if it had caught on and moved all through the city. But that's just not the city way, still isn't.
ANGELA HORNSBY:
So then your husband was called into the Army like you mentioned, and he went on to fight in the war —?
MARGARET KENNEDY GOODWIN:
And he never came back. Oh, I was devastated when the telegram came and said—oh I was devastated. I don't even remember those first three months.
ANGELA HORNSBY:
You don't even remember what the telegram said? I wanted to ask you how were you notified?
MARGARET KENNEDY GOODWIN:
Just by telegram. My mother and father came immediately into my rescuing, packed me up and took me home. But I don't remember those first three months at home. I just, I remember the devastation but that's all. I never want to feel like that again. And I haven't, ever. Even when my mother and father died, and I was here when both of them died. I uh, that's a feeling that you never want to have. He was such a peaceful person, and for them to draft them into an Army to fight somebody.