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Interview with George Govan

Interviewee: 
Govan, George
Interviewer: 
Bailey, Kim
Date of Interview: 
2002-07-26
Identifier: 
LGGO0542
Subjects: 
Relationships with people and places; Then and now
Abstract: 
George Govan talks about growing up in Harrisburg during the Depression and his church
Collection: 
Charlotte Narrative and Conversation Collection
Collection Description: 
Kim Bailey interviewed Charlotte, NC residents to collect various stories for a class project at UNC Charlotte.
Transcript:
KB (Kim Bailey): Testing, testing, 1, 2, 3. Testing, testing. All right, Mr. Govan, Mr. Charles Govan.
GG (George Govan): My name is George.
KB: George. I'm sorry. George Govan.
GG: Right.
KB: I don't know where I got Charles from.
GG: I don't know. Now what's you wanting to know?
KB: Tell me about your childhood.
GG: My childhood?
KB: Yes. // [Laugh] //
GG: // Good gracious sakes. //
KB: // We'll start from the beginning. //
GG: Why do you want to hear about my childhood? [Laugh]
KB: Where did you grow up?
GG: Right here in Harrisburg, North Carolina.
KB: OK.
GG: Yeah.
KB: Around this area?
GG: I've been right here ever since I was two years old right where I'm at.
KB: Wow. On this land?
GG: Right around here within five miles.
KB: Oh, OK. Wow.
GG: Yeah. Right around here within five miles.
KB: So you've never moved away?
GG: No, not from Harrisburg.
KB: Oh, wow. Have you ever wanted to move away?
GG: No.
KB: You're just content.
GG: I wouldn't be any other place but here in Harrisburg. [Laugh]
KB: Oh, OK.
GG: No, I was born in South Carolina.
KB: Oh, you were? What part?
GG: Barnwell, South Carolina.
KB: Hmm. Where is that?
GG: That's uh, right out of Orangeburg.
KB: Oh, OK. // I've never been there. //
GG: // My daddy // moved to Charlotte when I was two years old \\ when we moved-. \\
KB: // Oh, OK. //
GG: -To Charlotte and I started to, he stayed, he just moved to Charlotte and left there and moved on out here to Harrisburg.
KB: Uh-huh.
GG: And that's where I was raised, right there in Harrisburg. So I don't know nothing about South Carolina.
KB: Yeah.
GG: Now I can't tell you nothing about that because I wouldn't know but, uh, I got, um, [pause] see, there used to be schools in every, just like Bellfonte here-.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: -And Harrisburg, Morehead. They were schools, little schools that were sitting there.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: Well I started to school at Morehead.
KB: OK.
GG: That's up there by the racetrack.
KB: Oh. That's a long way, isn't it?
GG: No.
KB: You're not talking about Concord racetrack.
GG: Yeah. It's right over here. It's in Harrisburg.
KB: Oh. I didn't know there // was a Harrisburg racetrack. //
GG: // Yeah. The racetrack // is in Harrisburg. It's not // in Concord. //
KB: // I didn't know // that.
GG: They call it Charlotte Motor Speedway.
KB: Oh. // Lowe's //.
GG: // The reason // they call it Charlotte Motor Speedway is because Lowe's, they reason they call it Charlotte Motor Speedway is because see, Charlotte is the largest city-
KB: // Uh-huh. //
GG: // People know // where Charlotte is.
KB: Yeah. [Laugh]
GG: But it's actually closer to Concord.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: And it's actually right here in Harrisburg. Don't nobody knew about that.
KB: I didn't know that. [Laugh]
GG: Nobody knew nothing about Harrisburg.
KB: And I didn't know it was so close to here.
GG: Yeah. See, but it's only two and a half miles from here over to Harrisburg.
KB: Oh.
GG: And, and from Harrisburg over there is about a mile and a half-.
KB: Hmm.
GG: -Over to the racetrack.
KB: I didn't know that.
GG: Yeah. Going over there today.
KB: I guess I go the long way, though. [Laugh]
GG: Hmm.
KB: So you grew-, you said you went to Morehead?
GG: I started to school at Morehead-.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: -At the age of five years old.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: Back then you could start at five.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: I had one daughter, my oldest daughter started school at five.
KB: I did, too \\ in kindergarten. \\
GG: \\ My oldest daughter-, \\ of course I was living, I was living right at the school and the teachers had told my wife really she wasn't supposed to start until she was six.
KB: Oh.
GG: And the teachers told my wife just to let her, to let her come up there, you know and be with the kids.
KB: So they didn't have kindergarten or you started first grade?
GG: First grade.
KB: Oh, OK.
GG: She's the only one-, she finished school at 17 years old.
KB: Oh, wow. I wish I had.
GG: Yeah, finished high school at 17. [Laugh]
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: She made that grade, she started at five.
KB: She started a little early.
GG: Yeah and my oldest daughter, she's 65 years old.
KB: And how old are you, if you don't mind me asking?
GG: 25.
KB: Oh, really?
GG: No. [Laugh] No. [Laugh] I, I'm 85.
KB: 85? OK. You look very good for 85.
GG: Yeah. I had a birthday the eighteenth of this month.
KB: Oh, well happy belated.
GG: Yeah. I was 85.
KB: Very good.
GG: Well, that school at, I started to school at Moorehead school up yonder at the racetrack. Finally my daddy moved down there. He started working the railroad and he moved down there, right down in there in Harrisburg.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: But I started going to school then at Oak Grove. That's right there in Harrisburg.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: Went to school at Oak Grove and finally moved down the country down on Hickory Ridge Road [Cough] he was working a farm down there-.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: -And started going to school at Bellefonte. So I got my education at these rural schools here in the community.
KB: Uh-huh.
GG: And I finished, see at that time Bellefonte, they used to go to eighth grade, and see at the time, you know, you used to finish school in the eleventh grade-.
KB: Uh-huh.
GG: -You'd finish.
KB: Hmm.
GG: All right, they stepped it up to 12.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: When they stepped it up to twelfth, these rural schools stepped it up from seventh to the eighth grade.
KB: OK.
GG: You go to the eighth grade out here.
KB: Uh-huh.
GG: Then we had to go to Logan School in Concord.
KB: OK.
GG: Logan High School. That's back when there wasn't, you didn't go in these white schools, you know.
KB: Uh-huh.
GG: We-, and I finished out here, finished eighth grade here at Bellefonte and just got started to going to school at, um, Logan.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: And my daddy had already, he was working a two-horse farm.
KB: Really?
GG: About forty acres of cotton.
KB: With two horses?
GG: Yeah.
KB: [Laugh]
GG: And my oldest, my oldest sister was a plow hand.
KB: Oh, wow.
GG: She plowed mules just like a man, my oldest sister.
KB: Was she a big, brawny woman?
GG: Hmm. She wasn't that big.
KB: Really?
GG: No, and if she'd of, if my oldest sister had lived she would have been up in her 90s now.
KB: Wow.
GG: Yeah, but she plowed mules just like a man. And my brother who was older than I was, he was a plow hand.
KB: So how many brothers and sisters did you have?
GG: Seven of us in all.
KB: Seven.
GG: Yeah. Four girls and three boys. So [telephone rings] my oldest brother right during the Depression, which you don't know anything about it-.
KB: I do.
GG: The Depression?
KB: [Giggles]
GG: You don't know nothing about the Depression. [Laugh]
KB: I don't know about living during it but I know about it, a little bit about it.
GG: See? Back then you couldn't buy a job.
KB: Um-hmm. I believe that.
GG: See, we worked for forty and fifty cents a day.
KB: Umm.
GG: I worked for many a days from sun to sun, from when the sun rised, sun go down for forty cents a day. Then you could, you could get a couple of days and then the man would say, "Well, I don't need you any more." That's all. I'm through. That's all I got to do. You didn't have nothing to do. Pick blackberries-.
KB: Yeah.
GG: -Or fish, stuff like that. So, um, we had a two-horse farm.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: Working about 40 acres of cotton-.
KB: That's a lot of cotton.
GG: -Right during the Depression. Yeah, everything, all the land, there wasn't no houses back then.
KB: Yeah.
GG: All the land was worked by mules.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: And, um, my brother, he went to the field one morning right during the Depression, 1930, 1932-.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: -Went in the fields and he plowed, we wasn't getting but three or four cents for cotton.
KB: Umm.
GG: And he plowed the mule out to the end, he said, "I'm leaving here." He tied the mule up to a tree-.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: -Didn't tell nobody, he went by the house and told Mama, didn't even tell us he was leaving. We saw the mule tied up to the tree. He went by the house and got him a paper bag, got him a pair of underwear, and, uh, a little shave he had, he didn't have no clothes or nothing, that bag and went straight up the road.
KB: So where did he go?
GG: Went over to Harrisburg.
KB: Oh, OK.
GG: We lived about four miles from Harrisburg down there.
KB: Oh, OK.
GG: Walked to Harrisburg and, and back then they had these, they didn't have these diesel engines on the road now, trains, you know.
KB: Uh-huh.
GG: You had those old coal-burners.
KB: Uh-huh.
GG: I never will never forget the ( ) engine, they just run right through, you know.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: First freight train came through Harrisburg.
KB: How was that, seeing that?
GG: He reached up and got it.
KB: Oh, he did?
GG: Yeah, and hobo-ed from here into Washington, D.C..
KB: Wow.
GG: Yeah. Hobo-ed to Washington, D.C. and we didn't hear from him for 15 years. Everybody wondering where he was, what become of him, you know.
KB: I'll bet.
GG: So one day, we were lived right there in Harrisburg and the old Post Office was there in the store.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: So we went to the Post Office and got a letter, a little letter with his name. You couldn't hardly make out what it was. He didn't have any education, you know.
KB: Hmm.
GG: But he scratched out enough that we knew who it was. And he wrote, he just had on there, Rosa Govan, Harrisburg, NC. [Laugh] Well, it got to Harrisburg [Laugh]
KB: Yeah. [Laugh]
GG: Everybody knew my daddy because there wasn't but a few people living in Harrisburg.
KB: Uh-huh.
GG: See, we used to know everybody in Harrisburg. Now I don't know nobody. I don't know nobody now. It's a very few of the folks left now that used to be.
KB: Uh-huh.
GG: And Harrisburg now is loaded. I mean it's building everywhere you go. So [pause] Mama read the little letter. He told her he was in Washington, D.C. and Lord, she was so glad to hear from him-.
KB: [Laugh]
GG: -Because she didn't know where he was, you know. So [pause] he and my daddy, they wasn't on good terms when he left home-
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: -So, when, uh, she told Henry about it, "Well, walked off and left me with this big farm." So after, later on my daddy got sick-.
KB: Uh-huh.
GG: -And Mama wrote him letter and told him, said Henry is sick so he ought to come see him. Don't know whether he's going to make it or not, you know.
KB: Uh-huh.
GG: So we got up next Sunday morning and looked up the road, and we lived about a mile off the road, way back down a little farm road a ways, little wagon road come down the house-.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: -And, um, we looked up the road one Sunday morning, we saw a man coming down the road-.
KB: Hmm.
GG: -Had a little grip in his, his hand. [Laugh] We was all running around there looking, so, trying to make out who it was, you know.
KB: Yeah.
GG: And as he got closer, Mama said, "That looks like Wesley." [Laugh]
KB: Hmm.
GG: "Oh it can't be Wes." [Laugh] The closer he got, Mama said, "That's Wes. I know his walk. That's him." [Laugh]
KB: [Laugh]
GG: So he come in as he got close and Mama, so that, that was him.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: Coming in home to-, and my daddy he wasn't, he made out like he wasn't, but you know, they feel out before he left home.
KB: Yeah.
GG: But when he, when he looked up the road and saw it was Wesley, he was glad to see him.
KB: I'll bet.
GG: Yeah, he was glad to see him and so he come in there and we all, all checked him out and ( ) When he got in Washington, he couldn't get a job.
KB: Oh.
GG: You could look, these old trains come through here-.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: -We were living right at the railroad-.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: -And you could look about every other two or three cars, you'd see two or three men sticking between those cars. // Going north-. //
KB: // Hitchhiking. //
GG: Going north. Getting out of the south, going north. Trying to find something to do. And that was during the Depression.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: And you know, during the Depression, that was tough times.
KB: Uh-huh.
GG: Now you couldn't get a job. No kind of, you couldn't get a job cutting cord wood.
KB: So you're better off in your own land // farming? //
GG: // But if, // but if you had, on your own land you couldn't get nothing for what you raised.
KB: But at least you had your food. [Laugh]
GG: You could raise your food, that's the only thing. You could raise, that's the only thing, if you was on a farm, you could raise your food.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: But as far as making some money, and you know, the banks went broke during-.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: -The banks went broke.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: All right, banks used to be owned by private people.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: These big men, they called it.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: At that time the banks went broke during the Depression, and what people had a little money in the bank, didn't nobody have but maybe, old man, I lived on his place, he had a thousand dollars in the bank and they took that thousand dollars from him and it was like he was going crazy.
KB: I'll bet.
GG: He had a thousand dollars. He had a thousand dollars in the bank. Man, he like to went crazy. He said he'd never put another dime in the bank.
KB: I don't blame him.
GG: And he didn't. He had a safe in his house. He put his money in that, in that safe.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: So, I tell you, those were some rough times. And, uh, back then, I'll tell you, right out here at Bellfonte School-.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: -And there were times I didn't have shoes to put on my feet. If it hadn't been for the old man, we lived on his place, I'd cut wood, help him to carry in wood and cut wood up there and carry wood and put it on the porch. And that old man would take his shoes off his feet and give them to me.
KB: Hmm. That was nice.
GG: Yeah. He would give me his shoes. And he'd give me, he wore those little old corduroy pants-.
KB: Uh-huh.
GG: -He'd give me his pants. [Laugh] "Boy, you're going to freeze."
KB: Yeah.
GG: My feet would be wet. I'd have on old run-down shoes. Feet wet-.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: -He'd take his shoes off. He had to order those little old folks comfort shoes.
KB: Uh-huh.
GG: He'd take them off and give them to me and I felt good in those things. [Laugh]
KB: I'll bet. It snowed a lot more too, then.
GG: People don't know nothing, I tell you, people don't know nothing.
KB: Huh-uh.
GG: And really, it was that way all up through the '30s. When I married-.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: -When I married, I married the fourth day of April 1936-.
KB: Hmm.
GG: -And I was going to make enough money, it didn't cost me but six dollars to get married-.
KB: Hmm. [Laugh]
GG: That's right. That's what it cost me. Six dollars to get married. I was going to make enough money cutting cord wood to get married. Done set the date and everything for next Saturday. I was going to get married. And man I went, I was getting fifty cents a cord for cord wood.
KB: Hmm.
GG: I'd cut two cords a day.
KB: Now, what's cord wood?
GG: Back then you know, everybody was cooking, had wood stoves-.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: -Cooked on wood stoves.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: And you cut wood for, you cut wood in the, in the fall there for your summer stove.
KB: Oh, OK.
GG: It was stove wood. Cut pine wood you know, to cook with.
KB: OK.
GG: But you put it in cords. See a cord is-.
KB: You wrap it up?
GG: No. A cord of wood is four foot high.
KB: Oh.
GG: You cut your wood is four foot long.
KB: Uh-huh.
GG: Then its four foot high.
KB: Uh-huh.
GG: And eight foot long.
KB: Uh-huh.
GG: Eight foots about from here to that television.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: Eight foot long. And you, by the time you put up a cord four foot high and eight foot long you-, fifty cent.
KB: Oh, that's a lot of wood. // [Laugh] //
GG: // Cutting with an axe, // cutting with an axe, too.
KB: Hmm.
GG: And the man didn't like you to put no limbs in there.
KB: And you say how much would you make? Fifty cents?
GG: Fifty cents for a cord. I could cut two cords a day and don't, and they wouldn't let you put no limbs in it. All of its got to be split and that wood lay so tight. See, if you put limbs in there-.
KB: Yeah.
GG: -You'd have, they called it rabbit holes.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: You could cord-up fast, you know.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: But that split wood, you'd try to make a whole piece well, it'd fall right // down in there, // you know.
KB: Yeah.
GG: And it'd just lay tight. Then he'd come along behind you and trim up the limbs and carry them to the house. Haul them to the house, but they wouldn't let you put them in the cord wood. So I cut there, I cut three days.
KB: Uh-huh.
GG: I cut six cords of wood.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: And I had to have six dollars. I'm getting married. I've got to have six dollars.
KB: [Laugh] Halfway there.
GG: I cut three cords of wood and here he comes in and "George, That's a plenty. That's all the wood I need." I only made three dollars. Now I got to get three dollars more from somewhere because I, I'm going to get that woman Saturday, see. So-. [Laugh]
KB: [Laugh]
GG: My uncle happened to be working over here, for a guy lived right over here in Harrisburg. My uncle was working for him and he's getting fifty cents a day.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: And I asked him to borrow me, to borrow three dollars from the man he's working for. I asked him if he could borrow me three dollars and I'd pay him back.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: And he said, "I'll see if I can get it." He said, "I already owe him some." He said, "I'll see if I can get it." //[Laugh]
KB: // Oh, um-hmm. //
GG: And you know, he borrowed three dollars for me. I had six dollars.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: And that made six dollars. I was ready then to get married. All right-.
KB: // [Laugh] //
GG: //-I bet you // it took me six months to pay him that three dollars back-.
KB: [Laugh]
GG: -Because I tell you I wasn't making nothing.
KB: Ooh.
GG: It took me the longest to pay him that three dollars back but I did. And you know [pause] I didn't have, it cost me one dollar to get my license.
KB: Hmm. OK.
GG: I didn't have a dollar to get my license.
KB: Your driving, driver's license.
GG: No. My, my marriage license.
KB: Your marriage-, so what did other five dollars go towards?
GG: It costs you six dollars to get married.
KB: Ooh. // So that's another-. //
GG: // You had to pay that // to the magistrate. I got married in Concord there at the courthouse.
KB: // Goodness. // OK.
GG: //All right. // It cost me six dollars to get married.
KB: Uh-huh.
GG: Then if I wanted my license, my marriage license, it cost me an extra dollar. // Seven dollars. //
KB: // Goodness. //
GG: I didn't have that dollar. I didn't have it. He said, "Well, you can come back" he said, "When you get a dollar" he said "You can come back and get your license."
KB: [Laugh]
GG: But you know [pause] I was married to my wife for 46 years before she passed.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: But I didn't get my license until just before I got ready to retire from my work.
KB: Really?
GG: I worked for 36 years for Charlotte ( ). Worked for 36 years and when I retired, I said I, just before I retired, let's see if I can get my license.
KB: [Giggle]
GG: I don't know what we might need it. So I went up there to get my marriage license and they said, "You know what year you was married?" I told them, "Yes. I was married the fourth day of April, 1936."
KB: [Laugh]
GG: They went back there and got one of them old great big books from back there and turned, "George Lee Govan married Emma Johnson." I said, "That's right. The fourth day of April, 1936." They made me up a license then and hand it to me and cost two dollars to get it. [Laugh]
KB: Two dollars it cost.
GG: Two dollars. [Laugh]
KB: I was going to ask how much was it.
GG: But you know, people working now, this job I retired on, I worked there 36 years there on that job.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: I started working there 19 and 46.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: I start-, I was working at the Buckeye Ore Mill there in Charlotte there and making sixty cents an hour.
KB: Going up.
GG: Um-hmm. And I, and now that was right after the war, WWII.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: And, uh, I left, I left the Buckeye Ore Mill and went to Charlotte Pipe and Foundry Company.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: They was paying more. I, I went there for eighty-two and a half cents an hour.
KB: Wow. That was a big jump.
GG: Yeah. Eighty-two and a half cents an hour. And I worked at Charlotte Pipe and Foundry 36 years.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: And when I retired, I was the supervisor.
KB: Hmm.
GG: Before I retired I made supervisor but I didn't make it until I got ready to leave, about four years before I got ready to leave. [Laugh]
KB: Aaw. [Laugh]
GG: That's right. And I retired making nine dollars and twenty cents an hour.
KB: That was a great big jump from when you started.
GG: Yeah and I did that in 1980.
KB: Hmm. So you stayed there almost 40 years.
GG: Yeah. 36 years.
KB: 36 years. Wow.
GG: Making nine dollars and twenty cents an hour. Now those boys [pause] doing the same thing are making seventeen, eighteen something-.
KB: Wow.
GG: -Twenty dollars an hour. They're making money down in there. We worked all our life for nothing.
KB: No, I wouldn't say that.
GG: Well, wasn't as little as you think. Now back then, you could take that there, really you could take that nine dollars and twenty cents back in 1980 and you could do just as much as you can with seventeen or eighteen dollars now.
KB: Um-hmm. Exactly.
GG: See, I've been retired, I've been retired 22 years.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: And in 22 years there's been a lot, a big change-.
KB: Yeah, // there has. //
GG: -//In 22 years. // So that's what-, I just tell people we worked, it sounds like they're making a lot of money now, but you could take that nine dollars and twenty cents and do the same thing you do right now with uh, seventeen, eighteen dollars an hour.
KB: Yeah.
GG: Money ain't nothing now. I mean, there's no value or anything.
KB: You're exactly right.
GG: But I tell you, it was rough coming up through the years.
KB: But you made it. [Laugh]
GG: I made it. By the help of God, I made it. [Laugh]
KB: Of course.
GG: But you know, young folks don't know anything about that. You-, I tell my children about that sometimes I just get started talking. "Oh, I wouldn't have worked for that." "Oh, yes you would. You'd have worked for it." Wasn't nobody going to give you nothing. Didn't have nothing to give you.
KB: Huh-uh.
GG: Didn't have anything to give you. No. But we worked for it. And you could take, you could get out there and make fifty cents a day, you could go to the store, now they got sardines right now, sardines they got some of them a dollar a can. That little can of sardines. I got some sitting there on the table now.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: You could get a can of sardines back then for a nickel, see?
KB: Hmm.
GG: You get a can of sardines and had an old and they had a what they called a Big Boy Grape [pause] and Orange drink-.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: -In the bottle. You could get that for a nickel.
KB: I had a feeling you were going to say that.
GG: Yeah.
KB: [Laugh]
GG: [Laugh] You could get that for a nickel, see. Everything was loose in the store. You didn't go to the store, you go there now and everything there is in packages.
KB: Yeah.
GG: You haven't got the money to take that package you just have to leave it there.
KB: Uh-huh.
GG: Everything was loose.
KB: Things are getting bigger now, too.
GG: Yeah.
KB: The bulk sizes are bigger, too.
GG: Yeah. And you know they, they-, you take sugar. Sugar would come in a sack, in a, just a big sack.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: You could go there and get a nickel's worth of sugar and get a great big bag of sugar.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: Or you could go there and say, "I want a dime's worth of lard."
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: They had those old big trays.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: The man had them old big wooden paddles.
KB: ( )
GG: Lard come in tubs.
KB: Uh-huh.
GG: And just go in there and just keep putting on the-, have a great big stack of lard about like that for a dime. [Laugh]
KB: Yeah?
GG: Yeah. Lard, sugar, you could even get flour lose.
KB: Oh yeah?
GG: Flour was in barrels. Flour come in barrels.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: You could go there and get a dime or fifteen cents worth of flour. If you go to the store now, if you can't buy the whole sack-. [Laugh]
KB: Yep.
GG: -You're just out.
KB: All right.
GG: Everything's in sacks.
KB: And tell me, Bellefonte, you said you went to a school-.
GG: Um-hmm.
KB: Is Bellefonte a community?
GG: Yeah, well this is called Bellefonte right here-.
KB: OK.
GG: This is just, this community.
KB: Oh, OK.
GG: Um-hmm. That's the name of the church.
KB: Yeah.
GG: Named the school after it.
KB: Yeah.
GG: But this is just the community around here.
KB: OK.
GG: Yeah. This is Bellefonte community which you're sitting in right now.
KB: Oh, OK. I had never heard of it.
GG: [Laugh] Yeah. That-, Reverend Davis's? Reverend Davis? Reverend Davis is our preacher, you know? [Laugh]
KB: Yeah. I've heard, I've heard.
GG: Yeah. We've got a new church out there, too.
KB: Do you really?
GG: You ought to, you ought to-.
KB: I'm going to be out there.
GG: We've got a real nice church out there.
KB: Yeah. I've heard it's still on the original land?
GG: Oh, yeah. It's built, well, will be I guess.
KB: [Laugh]
GG: Yeah, it will be. I don't know nothing about Bellefonte. I, I was raised right, I was raised, raised right here in this school unit.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: Right around here.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: Yes, indeed. I, I played ball all around.
KB: What kind? Baseball?
GG: Baseball. I played with every ball club around from Salisbury to Charlotte. [Laugh]
KB: Oh, really?
GG: I used to play Charlotte all the time. Played down there with the Black Hornets and I played down there with the old Charlotte Sluggers.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: I played with Concord. I played all around. I tell you one thing, if, if things had been like, uh, like they are now I'd a, I'd a made major league, I could tell. I could have made that I know.
KB: What position?
GG: Like I see them play-, I was playing base.
KB: Oh, OK.
GG: Yeah, I was a, I, I was a glove man. [Laugh]
KB: Oh, OK.
GG: That's a hard spot. Third base is a hard spot.
KB: It really is.
GG: Yeah, I played baseball for 38 years.
KB: 38 years?
GG: 38 years.
KB: When did you start playing?
GG: Oh, I started playing way back, I wasn't but about 17 years old.
KB: About 17 years.
GG: Well, I believe I started playing around 16-.
KB: Wow.
GG: -With the first-, see we had what used to be first team, second team and third team.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: We had as many as three clubs out here-.
KB: Umm.
GG: -Back then. Now people don't, you can't, nobody playing ball now.
KB: Huh-uh.
GG: They've quit. Young folks, they won't stay with // baseball-. //
KB: Huh-uh. // Little, // little leagues. [Laugh]
GG: // No. //
KB: Man. How did-.
GG: And you had to play ball out here. That's what made a good ball player. You had play ball. There are so many guys wanting to play ball.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: And you had to play ball-.
KB: Yeah.
GG: -To hold your position-.
KB: Yep.
GG: -Or else some other guy would-.
KB: Take it.
GG: -He'd come over and if he could play better than you, 'cause man, they'd set you on the bench. [Laugh]
KB: I bet, I bet.
GG: You we had a good ball club, though.
KB: So you played other black teams?
GG: Um-hmm. Now we never-, there's one thing about it, I played with all them clubs.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: Sometimes I'd go down there, go down to Rock Hill, South Carolina down there.
KB: Hmm.
GG: I played, but I never did leave home.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: My club was right out here at Bellefonte. But most of the time when I was playing ball with these other guys, when I'd be playing with these other guys, we'd be, we'd play night games, you know-.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: -And on Sundays.
KB: OK.
GG: We played on Sundays and night games. But I'll tell you [Pause] I was there when we were playing.
KB: How many home runs did you hit?
GG: Oh, I hit a lot of them. [Laugh]
KB: [Laugh]
GG: I could hit that ball out there like a shot. [Laugh]
KB: Oh, really?
GG: Yeah, I could hit it. I could hit a ball.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: For sure, I could hit.
KB: So you miss it? Playing it, at least?
GG: No, I played up through, [pause] I played ball up until I was 58 years old.
KB: Wow.
GG: And what really stopped me, I was in, I could still, I could hit the ball.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: I couldn't run as fast as I used to.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: I couldn't run as fast, but I could hit the ball.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: But what really stopped me, I was down in Spartanburg playing. Old guy pitching and he, he was a south-paw, and that dude hit me right on that elbow-.
KB: Oow. Ouch.
GG: Hit me right on that elbow and fractured that arm. I mean he was throwing some 90 miles an hour.
KB: Ouch. Oow.
GG: Because see he, he, his was home was in Spartanburg but he, he was living in Baltimore.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: And he pitched for the Baltimore Elites and we used to play them. See those clubs used to travel through here-.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: -And we'd play them when they traveled through here.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: You take the Baltimore Elites and the Kansas City Monarchs-.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: -And the Birmingham Black Barons. All those. Those were traveling clubs.
KB: Oh, OK.
GG: They'd stop in Charlotte or either in Concord. Well I'd, I'd be right in there playing with whichever. If it was in Concord, I'd be in there playing with them.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: But that old boy pitched for Baltimore Elites and he could throw that ball. And that dude hit me right on the elbow and fractured that elbow and I haven't been able to straighten it out any more than that.
KB: Does it still bother you?
GG: Yeah.
KB: Umm.
GG: It hurts right there. Just sometimes it's pain. Arthritis got in it.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: And he fractured it and I couldn't, and that's how far I can straighten out there on my right one.
KB: Umm. // I know it hurts. //
GG: // And it got so // I couldn't throw.
KB: Yeah.
GG: And my right-, it was my throwing arm and I got so I couldn't throw because I was scared to turn it lose, you know.
KB: Yeah.
GG: But up until that I could turn, I could, man I'd throw a ball from third base like a shot. [Laugh]
KB: I bet.
GG: But after I got hit there and got home, at home I was scared to turn it lose-.
KB: Yeah.
GG: -And couldn't throw it straight, either. // And that's something else-. //
KB: // Yeah. //
GG: -At home I was scared to turn it lose and couldn't throw it straight, either.
KB: Yeah.
GG: That's, that's something else, I was scared. A lot of time I'd throw the ball wide or throw it high.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: I just quit because I know my arm was gone.
KB: Yeah. Your arms are still pretty muscular, though. [Laugh]
GG: Oh, yeah. I had these long arms.
KB: [Laugh]
GG: I had long arms to throw but thing about it, if you ever get hit right-.
KB: Yeah. That's the, that'll do it.
GG: Now you see they can, if times had been back then, back like it is now they could straighten this arm out.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: I could have went to the doctor and they would have // operated. //
KB: // Yeah, yeah. //
GG: Had surgery on that arm to straighten it out but I didn't. What did I have? We didn't have nothing to go to the doctor with.
KB: Yeah.
GG: We was out there playing ball, played hard, too.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: The most money I ever made, and I made it one night down in Lancaster and I played in an All-Star game down there-.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: -I made twelve dollars down in the stands that night.
KB: Wow.
GG: I made twelve dollars.
KB: That's it?
GG: That's the most money. We played at all the parks around here. Charlotte, down there the most we'd get is two or three dollars. [Laugh] That's right.
KB: Who was making all that money?
GG: Shoot. We wasn't making no money. Fans were coming in there for a quarter. [Laugh] Wasn't making no money. [Laugh]
KB: Yeah. Somebody made some money, though. [Laugh]
GG: But, but the managers were ( ) but we had Concord. They'd have when, when we had a game over there, when the game was over there'd be over there figuring up how much they'd the boys and all.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: Boy, we didn't even make enough to, I had to pay for the balls and we didn't make enough money to, we didn't even come out right. "I'm going to give you boys a dollar out of my pocket." [Laugh]
KB: Oh, dear.
GG: [Laugh] Whew. A dollar was a dollar.
KB: Yeah, that's true.
GG: We would take that. And there was a lot of fun in playing ball.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: I loved, I mean, you take most any man that plays baseball, he loves it.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: Just like them boys sitting here talking the other night, they said there's a lot of fun in playing ball and they're making money now.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: They're making good money and it's a sport that they like.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: When you're doing something you like to do and making money, that's-.
KB: That's perfect. [Laugh]
GG: Yeah. That was good.
KB: It's perfect. [Pause] Well, did you want to talk to me about anything else?
GG: Well, I could go on. I could talk to you from now until-. [Laugh]
KB: [Laugh] I know. [Laugh]
GG: I could talk to you from now until tomorrow morning [Laugh] and we wouldn't get through. [Laugh]
KB: I believe it, I believe it. // I can talk forever myself. //
GG: // I was telling somebody // I was telling somebody about this school over here, this school over here in Harrisburg-.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: -Was a high school. I helped, which you didn't come through Harrisburg, did you?
KB: I came down Rocky // River, yes. //
GG: //Rocky River. // The old school over here, the high school was built in 1928.
KB: Um-hmm. Was it a black school?
GG: No. It was a white school.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: Back then it was a high school, too.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: But, um, it was 1928, 1929 when they built that school and I drove a pair of mules over-, there wasn't no bulldozer-.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: -To you know, grade the ground.
KB: Uh-huh.
GG: We used what -, I drove a pair of mules over there and was, um, to level that-, you know, grading the ground down to build on.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: They didn't, all they'd do is get high humps out of it.
KB: Yeah.
GG: They'd, they'd build [laugh] wouldn't grade down level like they do now when they bulldoze.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: But we used scoop pans and a team of mules to pull those things.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: And it took a man to load the thing. It had two handles on it and it, it let it grade, go in the ground, get it full, then drag it down and dump it down there.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: So I drove a team of mules over there. My daddy wasn't able to work. So we was on the WPA that on the welfare, really.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: We was on welfare. My daddy got me a job. I was about 13 or 14 years old-.
KB: Wow.
GG: -And I drove, I drove that pair of mules over there and you know at that time, a shift was 10 hours a day.
KB: Whew.
GG: You worked 10 hours a day. See, you don't know when-, I mean I know you don't know. But see, they went from 10, they dropped it to eight hours.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: Now one of these days, if people keep coming in here, people keep coming in and talking about, they're talking about dropping a shift to six hours.
KB: Umm.
GG: If they, if they dropped, I don't know whether you heard it, if they cut down to six hours a day, they could put another whole shift on, see?
KB: Hmm. Um-hmm.
GG: All right, they cut, they cut from 10 hours down to eight.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: And, um, I'd work, we'd work a 10 hours at that time. All right, when, uh, we'd stay until twelve o'clock and work five hours on Saturday. Saturday at twelve o'clock my daddy would have to come over there and get my pay. I was too young. They wouldn't-, I couldn't get my pay. My daddy had to come get my pay. Now we didn't, I didn't see no money.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: We got what you'd call a bean check. Now that, that was right during the Depression, too.
KB: Oh, really?
GG: You didn't see no money. You got a bean check.
KB: A bean-?
GG: A bean check. They gave you a check and you had to take it down there to the store and trade it out.
KB: Oh, OK.
GG: Yeah, my daddy would trade it out.
KB: OK.
GG: Now you talk about white beans. That's why I don't have a white bean in my house today. [Laugh]
KB: I know. I can imagine that would get of-.
GG: They had those little old soup beans. [Laugh] Little old white, hard beans. [Laugh]
KB: Um-hmm. [Laugh]
GG: Mama didn't have no candles in the house. No where to put them.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: Mama would stack them up in the corner of the kitchen.
KB: Hmm.
GG: Just have stacked, beans stacked up there in the corner of the kitchen, big white beans and she had those hard soup beans we called them. You'd have to cook them have a day just to get them done.
KB: Yeah.
GG: Then they'd just mush up you know.
KB: Yeah.
GG: Soup beans. But that's what, we had to trade that out and my daddy couldn't buy any tobacco, no sugar, no kind of candy or nothing like that-.
KB: Yeah.
GG: -Stuff you could do without. You wouldn't, you couldn't buy it on that check.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: You had to-, my daddy now, he chewed that old what they called Snaps tobacco. He chewed tobacco, Snaps tobacco.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: The man, by knowing him, he would let him have the tobacco but he sat it down on the ration, you know-.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: -For sugar or something and he'd, he'd slip him tobacco like that. That's the way he got his tobacco.
KB: Hmm. [Pause]
GG: // All right-. //
KB: // That's a // nice little treat.
GG: That old school stayed there until-, you they, they pushed, they pushed it down just this, they pushed it down just, just this past year. They pushed it down.
KB: Was it still in operation up until last year?
GG: Yeah. Now Lowell, Lowell Systems, they put a big thing over there in that spot. They're over there grading that place down now.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: Lowell is going to put a, they say a food center or something over there.
KB: Oh, OK.
GG: But, um-.
KB: Harrisburg is really coming up.
GG: What you talking about? They've got some of the most expensive houses around here.
KB: I saw.
GG: Everywhere. Man, you can come down-, there ain't no more country.
KB: Huh-uh.
GG: They just come and they stick up a bunch of houses. Right up here, now you go up here to the corner, to the light up here and turn back left like you're going back up by our church out there-.
KB: Uh-huh.
GG: -Now they're fixing to build all that up in there, working out there now grading.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: -Grading just to build-, they're supposed to put eight hundred houses in there.
KB: Eight hundred?
GG: They've got three hundred and sixty-five acres there. Going to build eight hundred houses, a shopping center-.
KB: // All of that in that little-? //
GG: // All that // stuff going to be right up there. And it'll come right out, right out here almost in front of my house.
KB: That's too much.
GG: It's certainly, there's no way in the world, I don't know where all these people, where are they coming from?
KB: I don't know. Somebody's-.
GG: Somebody said it's the people leaving the north-.
KB: Yeah.
GG: -Coming back south and a lot of jobs moving.
KB: It's cheaper.
GG: See, a lot of jobs moving back south and a lot of those people following their jobs back you know keeping up with their jobs. They have work to do.
KB: Hmm-mm.
GG: A lot of people out of work, too.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: I don't know what's going to happen. The one thing to do is wait and see. [Laugh]
KB: Exactly.
GG: [Laugh] Wait and see.
KB: Just sit and wait.
GG: I declare.
KB: I tell you, I smelled an old familiar smell when I came up to the door. My grandmother had chickens on her farm-.
GG: Um-hmm.
KB: -And I saw you have some pigs out there.
GG: Um-hmm.
KB: What do you all do with the pigs?
GG: You smelled my pigs?
KB: I did. [Laugh]
GG: [Laugh] You weren't used to them. [Laugh]
KB: I told you it's a familiar smell.
GG: I've got a bunch. I've got 12 hogs down there.
KB: 12?
GG: I've been raising hogs-, I've been here 46 years.
KB: Uh-huh.
GG: But I, I've been raising hogs since before I even moved to this place.
KB: Wow.
GG: I used to make pretty good money raising hogs but there ain't no price now. In fact, after this year, when I get ready to leave, I'm quitting because-.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: I'm just, um, I've been raising hog because I've got this land-.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: -And I ain't going to sell it.
KB: Huh-uh. I don't blame you.
GG: And I farm it and I raise corn.
KB: Uh-huh.
GG: And I take the corn and feed hogs, see. I feed hogs and I can sell the hogs-.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: -And pay my tax. [Laugh]
KB: Exactly.
GG: The hogs will pay my taxes. [Laugh] So that's why I get out here and farm it and raise corn and feed these hogs with it but I'm going to quit fooling with them because it's got to the place-, you can't get nothing for them now.
KB: Really? Yeah, a lot of people trying to-, either they just eat vegetables or // eat chicken.//
GG: Yeah, but if you go to the store // now listen.// I mean what I can't understand is you raise the hogs, fertilizer's high-.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: -To put to that corn. Fertilizer's high for that corn and you raise a hog and a hog will eat up creation. He'll eat more than he's worth.
KB: Really?
GG: And then when you take him to the sale you get nothing for him. But now they take him down there and give you a little something for him but let him hit the stove then you're going to get some pork chops, you're going to pay three something a pound.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: You see tenderloin, all that stuff, anything you get out of a hog, I mean, to get your money's worth out of a hog now, you've got to eat it up.
KB: Hmm.
GG: You can eat him, you can get your money if you eat him if anybody eats that much pork.
KB: Yeah.
GG: I don't eat that much pork because, uh, I, I always raised hogs. I kill one or two a year for my own use.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: Most of them make sausage out of them.
KB: I bet that's good.
GG: But, um, really you, you can't get nothing out of them taking them to the sale now.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: But [pause] see they auction them off.
KB: Oh, OK.
GG: Yeah, they auction them off at the sale and the people won't offer much. They won't offer you much you know, for a hog and you just have to take what, what the highest man bids on them. That's all you're going to get.
KB: Hmm.
GG: I quit taking them to the sale. I've been doing pretty good. I just, if people want them I let them come down there in the pen you know and if people want them, I tell them what I'd take for them and-.
KB: Yeah.
GG: -Most of them, they'll pay it.
KB: Hmm.
GG: They'll pay it and then we'll set a day whenever we get ready to kill we'll set a Saturday we're going kill and then we'll all of them will come in here and stay until we get ready to kill. And they'll all come and we'll take them up there where we slaughter them. We'll take them up there and we all go up there and help.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: We help them and they kill them up there. Make the sausage and everything but you have to do it all in one day, you see.
KB: Hmm.
GG: When we set a Saturday, we'll take them up there and they'll all come in here and we-, I'll be there unloading them and we all go up there and help them to clean them you know.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: And they don't charge you that much for it. Make sausage, you have to make your own liver mush.
KB: Liver mush. I've never had that. [Laugh]
GG: You, you don't like liver mush?
KB: I've never had that. I don't like liver in general. [Laugh]
GG: Liver mush, liver mush is good.
KB: I've heard it is but that's one thing I don't even want to try. [Laugh]
GG: Liver mush is really good. I like liver mush when it's fresh-made.
KB: Yeah.
GG: Now I don't like if you make enough of it to amount to anything you have to freeze it, you have to put it in the freezer.
KB: Oh, OK.
GG: I was fixing to tell you that I noticed on some of the liver mush that you buy just out of the store they tell you don't freeze it.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: You freeze, it draws water.
KB: Yeah.
GG: Yeah, it draws water. So it's not good after-, I mean it's good if you, you have to always heat it, you know-.
KB: Yeah.
GG: -And put it on under your grits or whatever but it's not like it is when it's fresh when you first just put it in the refrigerator man, I can just walk by and just eat it with no bread. [Laugh]
KB: Um-hmm. That good?
GG: But after it's frozen, you don't want-, you can't eat it. I mean, not like that [pause] but it's still good on grits, you know.
KB: Well, that's good. [Pause] Well, you have talked to me for a long time and I appreciate it. I could sit here forever.
GG: Yeah, we [pause].
KB: But-.
GG: You know they say, we, we, we had it-, it sounded like it was tough-.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: -At the time but we made it. It was tough. We made it. And our old parents, they had it rougher than what we did. They sure had it rougher than what we did. I heard my daddy many a times, my daddy said when he was coming up he said he and a little white boy, he and a little white boy just 12 years old, you had to call him Mister.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: You see? He had to be Mister.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: That's what my daddy said. He said if you'd go call him by his name, the old man, he come, "Now what did you say?"
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: "That's Mister" so-and-so, to call your attention to it. See now, people now I mean, man there's black people that I must say, man he's got kind of lose now and [Laugh] "You going to tell ( )."
KB: Hmm.
GG: They're going to call you what they call all of them, by their name.
KB: Hmm.
GG: [Pause] I declare, it makes you feel-.
KB: Yeah.
GG: It makes you feel funny. I was up there in, uh, there was a white guy up here, the same one I was telling you about, my uncle Bard, uh, I borrowed the three dollars from him.
KB: Uh-huh.
GG: That man's son, he lived right over here next to Harrisburg, his son lived over there, but he had his fiftieth wedding anniversary up there at Mallard Creek, up there at the, what they call The Bart up there.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: And I never-, I tell you if you were raised up during those times when you, you wasn't alive then but you weren't allowed to look toward a white woman.
KB: Hmm. [Laugh]
GG: Man, you see a white woman coming at yourself you better turn your head because everybody's looking to see how you'd take it.
KB: Yeah.
GG: You'd better not be looking at that white woman. You'd turn your head. So I was raised up during those times, see.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: But I never had so many ( ) up there with white women, you feel so funny. [Laugh]
KB: How do you feel then about all these athletes with their, their um, white wives or-.
GG: Oh, Lord.
KB: [Laugh]
GG: See, they most of them going to the extreme. Well, before the end of time the Bible says the bottom rail will be the top-.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: -And the top will be the bottom. But these boys, when they got lose so they could, you know it was because so they could- [laugh].
KB: Yes. Do you want me to turn it off?
GG: I mean, this is-.
KB: I can turn it off-.
GG: I don't know where you'll be playing this back at. [Laugh]
KB: [Laugh]
GG: But anyway, but these boys ain't got no sense now. I mean, as far as I'm concerned, I remember the time when you couldn't look toward those folks.
KB: Hmm.
GG: And it don't bother me.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: But those folks, they go to school with them and all they act like its been that way all the time, all up through the years.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: They think it's been that way.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: Yeah, allright. Well, it hasn't been that way.
KB: Yeah.
GG: Man, you better not look like you-, I know we was living on a place down in the country here, right on down the road here.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: And that old man he had a right fast little old girl you know. She was fast. I think she liked men [pause] and colored boys and liked love you know.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: Now I was living on the edge of the tomato patch way back yonder along the creek about a half a mile. You had to go through the woods back there at the creek [pause] and she always wanted me to go to the tomato patch with her.
KB: Uh-uh.
GG: "Come go with me and help me pick tomatoes."
KB: Hmm.
GG: "Come go with me and help me pick tomatoes." My wife said, "You'll never go through them woods with no-, don't you go." [Laugh] My wife, every once in a while she'd come down there and ask me to go down there and my wife [laugh] said, "No. He ain't going to do-, he ain't going back there. Not with you."
KB: Huh-uh.
GG: Huh-uh.
KB: She didn't care that you were married, huh?
GG: Man, no. She didn't care.
KB: Uh-huh.
GG: I wasn't going. I had sense enough not to go.
KB: Oh, yeah.
GG: I knew not to go. Because let me tell you, they go back there and say anything about you and it'll get you your neck broke.
KB: Um-hmm. How did you feel about the Emmit Till situation? Do you remember that happening when I think he was 14 years old and was visiting some relatives in the south and whistled at a white woman and he got beaten up and drowned?
GG: Oh yeah. They-, you know, I try to tell people-, I've got some grandsons right now that they got these little white girls, my brother's got some boys up there that got white girls.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: I says-, really I, I just don't like it.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: Now I'm not prejudiced in any way or form-.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: But I'm just, I'm not, I believe you should stay in your race, with your races because simply [pause] there's a bunch of devils still out there-.
KB: Uh-huh.
GG: -That if they catch you behind the hills and somebody be your wife, you better have papers on them. They catch you around the woods somewhere where people can, they'll kill you. They'll still kill you.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: They'll kill these black boys and you'll find them laying somewhere laying beside the road so that nobody-, and they don't try to find out who did it.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: They'll still kill them. And you've got one of them, you better hang with them in daytime, out where people can see-.
KB: [Laugh]
GG: -Where people can see you. A lot of guys man, they just walk out there holding hands, walk right out there them. That's all right out here in the store. A whole lot of people around there and everybody can see. But you, if they catch you down the road there with that woman and nobody around and in the dark, they're liable to find you laying on-side the road right now.
KB: Is that right?
GG: They'll kill you now. If you don't believe me, you watch and you see whether a black guy walks into someplace where there's a bunch of white guys and you see him walk in there with a white woman. You see them, one will start looking at one and the other start looking.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: They don't like it. [Pause] And I wouldn't have one.
KB: [Laugh]
GG: I wouldn't, no I wouldn't.
KB: Just by choice.
GG: Those times I was raised up, I knew better than to want one.
KB: Yeah.
GG: I knew better than to even want one.
KB: Hmm.
GG: Because if you wanted to live, if you wanted to live you better leave them alone. [Laugh]
KB: Hmm.
GG: I know right over here at-, on 29 up there, there was a, I was just a young guy about 16 or 17, about 16 or 17.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: But there was a little girl that got raped up there, a little white girl.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: And [pause] this guy that raped her was a white guy.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: Her own uncle.
KB: Umm.
GG: It was her uncle. And he had his hands painted, had his hands black, had on a mask-.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: -He was black everywhere, you know that could see white-.
KB: Yeah.
GG: -He was black and you know, during a, they had it out that blacks guys had raped her.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: And they had all three, I used to go to school with the boys up here, Alexander boys. They lived up there, right up there where the racetrack is now.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: They lived on that place there. And they [pause] they come out there and they had four brothers, Alexander boys. They locked all four of them up. They knew it was one of them. They locked all four of those brothers up over there at Concord. And you know the mob, they was going to get, they going to open the jail and they was going to take those boys out and kill them. They knew they had got the right one, see. They had to get the National Guard out there. I was just a young boy.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: If it hadn't been for the National Guard, they was going to get them that night, go get them out of jail that night. Jail would have let them have them, see.
KB: I bet.
GG: Yeah. He would have let them have them. And you know they found, they fooled around there and found out-, I know when, when, when-, they wouldn't let you uptown in Concord.
KB: A black person, you're saying?
GG: No. The National Guard wouldn't let you go uptown.
KB: Oh, anybody.
GG: No. They blocked all streets coming into Concord.
KB: Really? Just over that?
GG: Yeah. Shoot, four men going to lose their lives. They had all streets-, my daddy, I went with my daddy to the corner of Clover-, we got right down there going into Concord there through Silver Hill going into Concord, got down there, the man, the National Guard was standing there and they wouldn't let us pass saying you have to go back. We had to turn around. We didn't get to go uptown. But you know that they found out that little girl told them, she believed it was a white man see because his sleeve went up and she saw some-.
KB: Oh, yeah.
GG: -She saw some white up above and you know they checked around and they found it was her own uncle.
KB: That's a shame.
GG: That's right. Her own uncle. And he was going to get all them mens killed-.
KB: Umm.
GG: -Them black boys. They had them in jail. All of them. All four brothers. All of them in jail. And if that mob had got in, see that mob, that mob was just in bunches.
KB: Yeah.
GG: If they, if they had of got in there, they'd have killed them all.
KB: I believe it.
GG: Well, that's the way they used to do. That's the way they used to do black people way back then. They would have killed somebody whether it was the right one-.
KB: Yeah.
GG: -Or the wrong one. Right or wrong, they'd // get somebody. //
KB: // Yeah. Just // to kill.
GG: Somebody would die, would die for it. That's the way it was. [Pause]
KB: Well, thank you Mr. George.
GG: I'm glad they, I was glad that they found out it was a white man that did it. They sent him to the road for years.
KB: I bet.
GG: Sure did. The sent him to the road for years. Well, there was so much that went on back then you couldn't-, I couldn't start to tell you.
KB: I can imagine, I can imagine.
GG: No, no.
KB: Well, I'm sure we'll get to sit down again and talk.
GG: I know in the town where we've, we was walking to school.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: Had four miles to walk.
KB: Each way?
GG: Yeah, from where we were living four miles and that's to Bellefonte School.
KB: Hmm.
GG: We'd get out in the morning, come-, well they had busses running there for white children. Man, they'd pass by us, we'd be walking, a whole bunch of us.
KB: Yeah.
GG: Just about all of us would get together from you know, from down this way coming, road just full.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: Man, they'd pass by us on that bus and call you nigger-.
KB: Umm.
GG: -Spit at you and all that stuff. Pass right through. I remember the first bus they put on the road here.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: The first bus they put on the road. They'd get one old four-cylinder bus, one that was wore out when they give it to the blacks. Now that was to haul the children, there wasn't but about eight or 10, maybe 12, from out here going to Logan, see.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: But the parents who had children going to Logan's, had to pay half on that bus. The county, the county paid half-.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: -Which the bus belonged to the county, but they made them pay half of what it was worth.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: The parents had to get together and pay that which was five or ten dollars-.
KB: Hmm.
GG: -See, and that's the first bus and that old four cylinder bus and that thing stayed in one of those 490s where you'd put four hours on the road and 90 standing on the road [laugh] and they'd have to call the man to come fix it.
KB: [Laugh]
GG: That thing would knock off every day or two. It would knock off some way.
KB: Great. Oh, that old bus. So finally that thing they couldn't make it and they finally got a six cylinder, they got them a six cylinder bus.
KB: Uh-huh.
GG: Pretty good bus, six cylinder. And old boy that was driving the bus, he was half crazy, hard headed-.
KB: Hmm.
GG: -He come in and turned the thing over. My wife was on that bus the day he turned it over. [Laugh] Didn't have but a couple of kids and they put them all off on and then come and he come around that curve around yonder and he come around that curve and lost control-.
KB: Oh.
GG: -And rolled that thing way out in the field. Man, they was out of a bus the rest of the year then, didn't have-, had to get them there the best way you could. So next year when time to start school, they, they finally got another one on the road. But he turned that one over. He tore that one all to pieces-.
KB: Umm.
GG: -And it was a good bus, but it [pause] he was just trying to fly with it. He didn't have no business driving to start with.
KB: Hmm. I bet he didn't.
GG: He's out there just flying. Turned it over.
KB: Hmm.
GG: But, uh, I tell you that's, that. that, that old first bus they put on there the state furnished that bus, but they made them pay for it for a while. They had to get creative about it and they had to pay half of the price they said the bus was worth.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: And there wasn't but about maybe eight or ten children going from here to Logan.
KB: Yeah.
GG: Well, that saved them-, before that they had to get there the best way they could.
KB: Hmm.
GG: Yeah, I know my wife was going to Logan. My wife was going to Logan she was on-, well her grandpa lived in Concord-.
KB: Hmm.
GG: -And she would stay over there. But, uh, she stayed with her grandpa and didn't have but a little piece to walk up there to school. That was before they got a bus route.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: Yeah. [Pause] But if I went to say about my brother, [laugh] I never did tell you the rest. [Laugh] I never did tell you about my brother.
KB: Oh, yeah.
GG: My brother left at that-, up at the, uh, [laugh] my brother left and, uh, he, he left that mule tied up there to a tree-.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: -And 12 o'clock come, my daddy, my daddy he said, "Go down there and get that mule."
KB: Hmm.
GG: I went down there and the mule is still tied up to the tree all the morning. I plowed some. I knew he was gone but I just started to school at Logan.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: I was in ninth grade. Just started to school at Logan. I came in, I came in, um, and my daddy said, "George, you're going to have to quit school-."
KB: Hmm.
GG: "-Wes done left home." Somebody's got to plow and got to have somebody to plow, So if I don't have, we're going to have to leave here. If you don't have somebody to plow that white man's mule there, you need to get out of that old shack.
KB: Hmm.
GG: And you could look up through there and see birds flying over [laugh]-.
KB: I bet.
GG: -But you had to get out there. I know the time the house we was living in you could-, you had a lose board here in the floor. You'd pull the board up and reach right down there beside the chimney and there would be eggs. The hens would lay eggs down there right beside the chimney. [Laugh] Reach down there and never go out or nothing, just pull up a bowl there and reach down there and get the eggs out of the nest. But anyway, I just got started to school at Logan. Then my daddy said, "You're going to have to quit school."
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: He said, "We've got to have somebody plow the mule."
KB: Uh-huh.
GG: Our older sister, she was still there. She was plowing one. So that was the end of my school, right there.
KB: So, // through the ninth grade? //
GG: //But you know // -, huh? I got to, I'm really, I'm telling you the truth I think I had pretty good learning, though-.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: -Through ninth grade. I feel, I feel really that ninth grade education back then-, because you could whip a kid if you didn't know that nine times nine was 81 or seven eights was 56 or six sevens was 42, that teacher would beat it into your head. [Laugh]
KB: Yeah.
GG: They would beat it in your head. [Laugh]
KB: Yes.
GG: Now we had to get-.
KB: The good old days.
GG: Now we had to get that stuff. Yes sir, we had to know it or that teacher, there's a woman out there I call her Colored Woman.
KB: Uh-huh.
GG: She was as dark as this ( ) [laugh].
KB: Yeah?
GG: That woman, she wouldn't beat you with nothing but a hickory.
KB: Uh-huh.
GG: One of those old hickory sticks from-, you go down in the woods and cut one if those hickory and those old hickory was a big one.
KB: Uh-huh. Wrap around your legs? [Laugh]
GG: Yes. She'd set you on benches, they had them old benches in school, set you on that bench and make you stretch your legs out and she'd whip you right across your legs-.
KB: Ouch.
GG: -Right across your legs there until whelps-, you whup a kid like that now. She'd have whelps up, great big whelps all over your legs just hitting you right in the same place looks like every time. Shoot-.
KB: You'd be sued-.
GG: Yes sir, you hit one now like that. I'll tell you what caused that, though.
KB: Home training?
GG: No. It was when they integrated the schools.
KB: You think so?
GG: People would-, yeah, you could whup a child up until then. ( ) Getting ready to go to school and whites and blacks started going to school together and "You ain't going to whup my child."
KB: Well sir, I don't know though because I taught school last year and I, I had problems with some black parents, with attitude and their children.
GG: Um-hmm.
KB: Uh-.
GG: But like I say, I mean, well you're going to have that out of -, they always had some trouble out of some people.
KB: Uh-huh.
GG: But I've seen them, I've seen them, I saw them right over here and saw a woman come out over at there at Oak Grove one day and asked the teacher to come out. She was going to whup that woman.
KB: Yeah.
GG: Yeah, she's going to whup her is she'd a went out. She was scared to go out. Old Professor-.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: -Old Professor Black, and he was a man teacher, she tried to get him to come out there. [Laugh] And he wouldn't go out.
KB: Hmm.
GG: But that woman was going to beat him. She was a mean woman. That was a mean woman.
KB: Yeah.
GG: Yeah. But really, to tell the truth, when, when, when, I mean they would whup you in school.
KB: Uh-huh.
GG: But when they integrated it, the whites strictly didn't need the back teachers to beat on you-.
KB: Yeah.
GG: "You ain't going to beat on my child."
KB: Yeah.
GG: And that's when they put this law in force, really and you better not whup one. They'd, well they had to go at it that you can't whup your own at home now.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: No. That was a good way to get-, they had the reinforcement.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: So, that's one of my, one of my chaps there.
KB: Yeah? [Laugh]
GG: Yeah. There wasn't-, they-, let me tell you this, there's just 11 of them.
KB: 11?
GG: 11 of them.
KB: Hmm.
GG: You should see, I had my 85 anniversary here-.
KB: Hmm.
GG: -Last Saturday, last week at the church.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: I, really the church was crammed full // with people.//
KB: I bet. Just with your family alone. [Laugh]
GG: And grandchildren.
KB: How many grandchildren?
GG: 40.
KB: Ooh.
GG: Grand and great-grand, 40. [Laugh] But boy, there was a church full of people there.
KB: I bet.
GG: White and black.
KB: I bet.
GG: I have a lot of white friends, too.
KB: Very good.
GG: Oh, Lord. Man, if you'd a been there, you'd a had to stand up.
KB: Probably. // I believe it. //
GG: // [Laugh] // They had to stand up. The back of the church was full. But that was a good time. I just felt good out there and this is sometimes now, right here on a Sunday-.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: -This house will be full. You'd think something was happening in here if you pass by here. They all leave the church, see we all belong out there.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: They'll beat us home from church.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: And that girl there, she's the only one that lives at home now. She'll get up cooking for them Sunday morning and they'll beat us home from church and be eating. Most of the time we get here and they'll be eating [laugh] and done ate.
KB: Do they ever save any for you?
GG: Oh, yeah. Plenty.
KB: [Laugh] Good.
GG: And one day-, but she, she buys food for them just like she ain't got no children.
KB: Uh-huh.
GG: But she buys food for them just like she's a big family and has stuff here all the time. We-, and they'll be looking for it, too.
KB: I bet. // Because they get so much. //
GG: // And they sure // beat us home and boy they'll be eating. They all get their belly full. [Laugh]
KB: Then go to sleep. [Laugh]
GG: Huh? [Laugh] They go home.
KB: They go home? What?
GG: They go home. Now that's most of the time the house is just crammed full. After while there ain't nobody sitting here but me. I'll be sitting up there-.
KB: But you enjoy it while they're here. Yeah.
GG: She'll be gone.
KB: [Laugh]
GG: ( ) just like I started.
KB: You don't like your quiet time? I like my quiet time.
GG: I like it now since I've been-.
KB: [Laugh]
GG: I tell you, I've been my myself and she helps.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: And she'll be gone. She leaves here early in the morning and don't get back about seven or eight o'clock at night.
KB: Oh, yeah.
GG: I'll be here my myself. I'll be, I'll be around here quiet when that crowd gets in here and all the grandchildren raising-.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: -Talking and raising sin and I'll be glad when they leave.
KB: [Laugh]
GG: [Laugh] I ain't joking.
KB: I think I would be the same way.
GG: Yeah, I will be glad when they leave. [Laugh] I mean, I'll be glad to see them and glad when they leave.
KB: Yep, yep. You get used to your quiet time.
GG: Yeah they, you, you-, see it bothered me when my wife first passed. It bothered my by myself here.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: Lonesome by myself. But since I got used to it, it bothered me that they all come in here and yell and whooping and hollering and going on.
KB: Um-hmm.
GG: Yeah. I'll be glad when they come and glad when they leave.
FV (Female Voice): We're going to church at seven thirty.
GG: Going where?
FV: Church.
GG: At the church?
FV: Going to church. First Presbyterian ( ) Kelsey's.
GG: Oh.
KB: Oh, OK.
GG: Yeah. That was my preacher, too.
KB: Oh, OK.
GG: He's one of those Presbyterian preachers. // [Laugh] //
FV: // Oh, come on. // Anyway, so nice seeing you. ( ) Told me to make an appointment with you.
KB: Yes.
FV: So, I don't know when in the world that's going to be. Free week here and ( ).
KB: I'll probably be going to the church starting next Sunday, um, I go to my church. We have early service on first and third Sundays so I'll probably be headed to your church after that.
GG: Well, that's my preacher. You want to hear something?
FV: Oh, please.
GG: When I want to hear some junk [laugh] I let my preacher tell it. [Laugh]
KB: It was nice meeting you.
FV: OK.
GG: My preacher can talk junk. [Laugh]
KB: Well Mr., Mr. George, this is about to run out now. We've talked the whole tape. [Laugh]
GG: Have we? [Laugh] Well let's stop. [Laugh] OK.
KB: That was fun, though.
GG: Well-.
KB: Thank you for speaking with me.
GG: You're welcome. There's lots I haven't even thought about. [Laugh] Oh, Lord.
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