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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Geraldine Ray, September 13, 1977. Interview R-0128. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Skills learned from grandmother while young

Ray's grandmother taught her to sew, cook, tend livestock, and garden from an early age. Ray then used those skills to help take care of her grandmother when she grew ill years later.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Geraldine Ray, September 13, 1977. Interview R-0128. 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

KELLY ELAINE NAVIES:
Oh, granddaddy Coon. He died in 1948 and then you just lived with your grandmother?
GERALDINE RAY:
Right, she and I stayed there together. She got down sick when I was in high school. She had Rheumatoid Arthiritis and a year-I come out of school in June, I went to Ohio in December of that year and uh we took her with us at that time she could still get around. But then, my Uncle's wife died so she came back to the funeral and she stayed. So, that following July I had to come back and stay because she had gotten to the point to where she couldn't do anything. She was on crutches, then from crutches to the wheel chair, from the wheelchair to the hospital bed, and looked after her for the next twelve years.
KELLY ELAINE NAVIES:
Oh, really.
GERALDINE RAY:
Uh huh. So, I stayed with her and so I worked on the farm from the time I was five years old. I went out I helped set tobacco, I carried water, I learnt to milk, I learned to feed the cows, the horses, pigs, whatever had to be done. And she stood me in a chair at the age of five and learnt me how to cook cornbread and stuff. I was short, she stand me in a chair and show me how to do things, that's where I learned to cook. I never cooked from a box until now, really if I'm tired or something if I got somethin in a box, but I always cook from scratch, because that's the way I learnt. And back then, she would make my dresses out of feed sacks, because when you buy the cowfeed, and the horse feed, they had pretty sacks which made beautiful dresses.
KELLY ELAINE NAVIES:
Really?
GERALDINE RAY:
Yep. And then you had flower sacks which was made . . . You could get a flower sack that was a head scarf. And the way you'd (unintelligible ?) it out you'd have a pretty scarf or you could have a pillow case. Then you started gettin washin (unintelligible?) with washin towel in it. So, you see a lot of that stuff you had but mainly the food that we had was raised in the garden which at one time I dug up almost a half an acre of land and made a garden and I canned over two hundred cans of food that year.
KELLY ELAINE NAVIES:
How old were you then?
GERALDINE RAY:
I was maybe twenty, maybe.
KELLY ELAINE NAVIES:
So, did you know how to sew dresses from the burlap ba . . .
GERALDINE RAY:
I learnt, she learnt me to sew at a early age. I learnt to crochet when I was five.
KELLY ELAINE NAVIES:
So, you learned crochet, you learned to cook . . .
GERALDINE RAY:
I learned to sew, I learned to cook and get out there and when she would make a garden, when she was able to make a garden, I always made a little un in the corner-my own.
KELLY ELAINE NAVIES:
What would you put in your own?
GERALDINE RAY:
Whatever she had. I had corn in mine, I had greens in mine, I had beans in mine, whatever she had, whatever she had in hern I had in mine.
KELLY ELAINE NAVIES:
So, she taught you how to do that too.
GERALDINE RAY:
Right, and so when I had to dig it up when she was down sick, cuz we couldn't afford to pay nobody to plow it, I dug it up with a mallet and I planted it and I had a beautiful garden.