Accessibility Navigation:

Conversation with Wade Turlington and Laylon Turlington

Turlington, Wade
Turlington, Laylon; Male Voice; Female Voice
Artman, Tammy
Date of Interview: 
Relationships with people and places; Then and now
Wade Turlington talks about growing up and farming with his family.
Charlotte Narrative and Conversation Collection
Collection Description: 
Tammy Artman interviewed Charlotte, NC residents to collect various stories for a class project at UNC Charlotte.
TA (Tammy Artman): OK, so did you farm when you were a little boy?
WT (Wade Turlington): I sure did. I started when I was knee-high.
TA: // Knee-high //.
WT: // Near about //.
TA: OK and-.
WT: Behind mules.
MV (Male Voice): Get his, // get his name and age //.
TA: // Were you around here? //
WT: Yeah I was born and raised right here in Harnett County.
TA: Harnett County. And how old are you now?
WT: I am 64 years old now, I'm 74 years old now.
MV: // Seventy-four? //
TA: // [Laughs] //
WT: Yep.
MV: I thought when you said 64 // that was right. //
TA: // I did too. //
WT: // Nu-uh. Seventy-four. //
MV: My goodness.
TA: Seventy-four, // you don't, you look good. //
LT (Laylon Turlington): // You'll be 74 next-. //
WT: // Wednesday. // Born 1916.
TA: Nineteen-sixteen. And um, when you farmed how did, what were your techniques at first?
WT: When I was, we, of course we used mules and we had tobacco, cotton, and corn, and wheat, and oats, and hogs, and cows, and chickens. And we'd eat at home and live at the same place.
MV: You had all that and did, you did, had that many crops?
WT: Yeah.
MV: Wow.
WT: We sure did.
MV: Were, did, were they, did you rotate them?
WT: Yeah, we rotated them and we, we had four or five, four mules and three or four colored men helping plow and I'd help too. Daddy'd have to lead, cut, until I got big enough to take his place-.
TA: Mhm.
WT: -Then when I got so I got big enough or man enough that I could do what I wanted to I quit it all. [Laughs]
TA: [Laughs]
WT: Went in the Army.
MV: [Laughs]
WT: Did a year and a half. Come back and farmed a while and decided I was going to quit it again and I quit for good now.
TA: I-, when you had mules, um, towards the time that you, the technology got much better and you got more machinery and stuff-.
MV: Tractors.
TA: -How did it, yeah, how did it change your life socially, I mean-.
WT: Oh, it was a pleasure to do it. But there weren't enough a profit in it, to me, the way I had to farm to keep it up. I didn't feel like-.
TA: Oh.
MV: You just couldn't make enough money at it.
WT: Uh-huh, that's right.
MV: It wasn't as hard, // it's not as hard now. //
WT: // I don't know. // It wasn't hard, it just cost more.
MV: Mhm.
TA: It cost more.
WT: It cost more, and of course you had to hire, to hire labor too you know.
MV: Mhm.
WT: And when you're farming on halves if you don't own a big crop, a big farm you have to farm on halves. And when pay expense out of your half, there's not a whole lot left.
LT: Were you // telling them just like it was yours? //
WT: And, and then you'll spend it on, on your tractors and your pick-ups and your help and have a little bit of time // but not much. //
LT: // Af-, // after you'd come home you farmed on ( ) yourself though, so you can tell them about how you farmed.
WT: Well that's about the, that's probably // where it was up 'til I quit 'cause I, I did on the farm. You see I always read. //
LT: // I thought I didn't know much about tobacco. //
FV (Female Voice): // You tell them how you used to set tobacco and how it changed. //
TA: // Really? Uh-huh. //
LT: Tell them how, yeah. // I didn't tell her nothing about tobacco. //
MV: // But even at the end of the farm that was harsh. //
FV: Tell them how you started out setting it and how it changed.
MV: Yeah, go ahead. That sounded good.
TA: // Yeah. //
WT: // Well // about what started out with it? The tobacco?
TA: Yeah.
FV: // Tell them how you set-. //
WT: // Well, we got the land // ready of course, firm, and then we raised it up and we fertilized it in the ridge and, and uh we set it out with hand and pegs. And toted water along with it and poured it down to the hill. And that was a big problem too them days.
TA: Mhm.
WT: Of course // four and // five acres was a big crop then to watch-.
FV: // Now tell them the next-. //
LT: Then next //stop we got can cellars/sellers for them. //
WT: // -For one family. //
LT: // Can cellars. //
MV: You had, you had to hand-carry water.
WT: Well we finally got to that, yeah. We finally got to a, a hand transplanter. And it held about a gallon or two gallons of water.
TA: Mhm.
WT: And of course somebody's toting, carrying it to you all the time and they're keeping you filled up. And you'd set, set about an acre a day or two acres maybe a day, with enough help.
TA: Mhm.
WT: And it went on like that 'til the, 'til they got machinery, took over. Tractors-.
TA: Mhm.
WT: -Started off setting one row at a time with tractors and then to two rows and now they set four rows at a time.
TA: How, um-.
MV: That's with the little, the little plants // you don't really see the //, what do they call those, sealants or?
WT: // Yeah //.
LT: Hand plants.
WT: Just, just tobacco plants is what-.
MV: No, but you grow them in a, // in the fields, yeah in the beds first and then you take them out and they're about that big. //
WT: // Grow them in a, grow them in a bed. Yep, about six inches high, six or eight, yeah. //
TA: Mm. Um-.
WT: Yeah.
TA: -On your farm, OK when the technology did come out what would you do with your spare time? Did you have a lot more, how did it, how did you think machinery // changed-. //
WT: // You just about // had a job twelve months a year-.
TA: Oh.
WT: Them days. Now days you, they, you can find it to do it, but if you will do it-.
TA: Mhm.
WT: -Is another thing. But I hear, farming does, you can find something to do just about around the clock.
TA: Mhm.
WT: ( )
MV: Even in the wintertime, // we would do it in the wintertime. //
WT: // Yes sir. // Get your machine ready for another spring.
TA: // Sounds fun [Laughs] //
MV: // Just like, worked on your machinery and // fixed up the barn or whatever.
WT: // That's right. // Barns, patching-.
LT: Tote stove wood.
WT: -Fence, fences and-.
MV: Fences.
LT: Shuck corn.
TA: Do you think if a, um, crop fell back in uh, the, uh // before, when you, yeah, the olden days before you were younger, right 40 or 50 years-. //
MV: // Forty, forty or fifty years ago. //
WT: // Cotton and crop failure? //
TA: Yeah, if it wa-, do you think it would be worse then or now? I me-, how do you, or is it about the same economically?
WT: I expect it'd hurt you worse now 'cause you'd have more in it now than you had them days.
TA: In the crops.
WT: I would think so.
TA: Mhm.
WT: If you have, if you have it insured that's a big price. If the hail hits you that's something real steep.
TA: [Laughs]
FV: Tell her how you cured it.
WT: And the hail hit me one year with no insurance whatsoever and I thought I wouldn't need it 'til then. [Laughs]
TA: Yeah.
MV: Was it hail that hit you?
WT: Yeah, hail rocked me clean off and the next week I would have started burning tobacco. And we cleaned the roofs up good and ridged it over again. No we didn't ridge it over again, and we just cut every hill off. That weren't broke down, we cut them all off. Just so high. A couple of two, three inches high.
TA: Mhm.
WT: Made a circle and come out. And we made our crop. It looked pretty good but just half a crop's worth maybe.
TA: Mm, so you could //save half of it//.
LT: // Tell them how you got them, the mule and-. //
WT: What?
LT: In the 'bacco barn and so on. // Moved it and-. //
WT: // We used profit. // When it got up five, six, five foot high on stays you'd crop it by hand, two, three leaves at the time off of each stalk. And I had a mule sled coming down beside your row that you threw it in that and when you got your sled full you'd carry it to the barn.
TA: Mhm.
WT: And you would take it out of the sled of course and then you'd hand it to, hand it to the looper three leaves at the time, three or four leaves at the time to the looper. Then you'd put about 40 bottles on a stick. Then it was piled down until we got through. Then all those sticks was picked up and carried in the barn and hung on tier poles about twelve inches apart. And it'd take them about five or six days to cure it, to, before you could-.
TA: [Laughs]
FV: That's where it's-.
LT: You've got to fire the wood too now.
FV: It's real hot.
WT: Yeah we fired it, fired // farms and wood and houses. //
LT: // Now then Charles has got electric 'bacco barn. //
TA: Now he got //an electric one doesn't he?//.
FV: So it went, it went from wood you know, you put your wood in there and somebody'd have to sit up at night and keep that furnace going with wood.
WT: Yeah. // It went from, it-. //
FV: // Then they got some gas // burners in that barn before they got the ( ) on it they got some gas-.
WT: Well now this about to be, this is going to take a year's, year or two.
FV: That's how it changed.
WT: Oh I know, but I mean it's not right. It's not taking your own words down on record here.
TA: Yeah // I, I got that. //
FV: ( )
WT: // Oh, oh is it? // I'm talking about this.
TA: Oh I can hear.
MV: // I don't figure-. //
TA: // Yeah, yeah it should pick it up. //
WT: Yeah we started off curing it with, with wood. Then it went from that to oil and gas. And then from that of course to electricity now.
MV: That's what they all are now, electric?
WT: Yeah. Mine is gas, it's just fiber electric.
MV: Ah.
WT: But they use gas. // Because they use gas to cure tobacco now. They don't need electricity to cure it. //
WT: Electricity don't cure tobacco now, it's gas. You just have to have electric motors when you're running the blowers. [Coughs] So that's about the story for such as the tobacco problem.
TA: Um, what about clubs and stuff. Did that farmers have certain clubs or-.
WT: Didn't even know what a club was back then.
TA: [Laughs]
WT: Fifty, sixty years ago. I'd never heard of that.
TA: Parties?
WT: No ma'am.
FV: What'd you do for entertainment?
TA: Uh yeah, entertainment.
WT: Go to a ballgame maybe or maybe to a picture show on the wall of a store. And it was silent.
MV: Silent.
WT: Just pictures. Yeah.
TA: So forty years ago y'all go to a ballgame. What, // what happened when-. //
WT: // It, it'd be, it's been fifty five. //
TA: Eh, what happened when you started getting more technology in? Did it matter or did you still not have as much free time?
WT: Well you-.
TA: You would think-.
WT: You'd have a little more free time I guess but there was always // something for you to do // if you were doing it.
TA: // Something to do. // Mhm. Um.
WT: Yeah there sure is. I'd say that right on now which is not easy to take when you get my age.
TA: [Laughs]
MV: [Laughs]
WT: It sure is.
LT: Well you know Daddy had the // hogs that get shook a lot he had to get all that. //
WT: // Yeah he'd take, he took // attention for hogs and cattle and whatnot about seven days you know. The girls would milk the cows and I'd feed the hogs, mules. They'd turn mules in patches them days like they do now and let them forget about them a week or two. You fed them things three times a day.
TA: Mhm.
WT: And we kept awards.
TA: I remember Great Granddad. Didn't he, he used to win all those trophies and stuff? All those big hogs?
WT: Those big hogs, yeah.
TA: So was that some kind of organization that they uh-.
WT: It-.
TA: Did you show hogs // and show different animals and stuff? //
WT: // Yeah, oh yeah. We, he was in the hog industry. // 'Course we children helped all we could.
TA: Mhm.
WT: And he showed it to fairs. He, four, five, several weeks of the fair during the fall.
TA: Mhm.
WT: Not just a state fair, several weeks.
TA: How-.
WT: He'd rent a boxcar, maybe two boxcars and then he'd put a hog in, on the trailor. And he'd be gone a month or two with them hogs from fair to fair.
TA: Mhm.
WT: From fair to fair. You know about all that.
TA: Did you ever have like chicken fights or-. [Laughs]
WT: No we ne-, I've heard of them but when-.
TA: Y'all never did that.
WT: I know about them but I never seen one.
TA: Mhm.
WT: And I know where they're doing them right now but I never seen them do it.
TA: Mhm. Um, well what about your religion, um church, what did, did you go to church every Sunday?
WT: No we sure didn't. // I didn't know what a church was. //
TA: // You didn't. //
WT: We went sometimes. Mama and Daddy'd make us // hate it when we went. //
LT: // No, Mama and Daddy'd go-. //
WT: Seldom.
LT: We'd take all the children.
WT: Seldom ever would go, that's a fact. And we'd hate it.
FV: Was Sunday just like a regular // weekday? //
MV: // Did you have to work on Sunday? //
FV: Did you have to work?
WT: We'd have to feed cows, feed the hogs every morning and again at night. And we had cows and of course they had to be milked every morning.
FV: So what'd you do on Sunday, just-.
WT: // Oh-. //
LT: // Tell her about how you'd have hogs tied and pigs ( ) //
WT: We'd just go from swimming pool to swimming creek. From creek to creek, swimming and playing. Maybe play ball or catch somebody's bull and try to break him to ride.
MV: [Laughs]
WT: Used to do that before. Hook him up to a wagon and any old thing to-.
TA: Did you ever go cow-tipping back in the olden days?
MV: Cow-tipping.
TA: [Laughs]
WT: Cow-tipping?
TA: Yeah.
FV: What is that?
TA: They, they do it now-.
WT: Oh.
TA: -They go around and they tip over cows when they sleep.
MV: Sleeping, when cows are sleeping they push them.
TA: Mhm. A lot of country boys do that now.
WT: No, I never did get no-.
TA: Cow-tipping.
MV: That's bad.
TA: That is bad. I was just wondering. OK um-.
FV: [Laughs]
TA: -Your family, um, did you work with mostly your family or was your family spread apart all over, you know different states and stuff?
WT: Well actually I've got, they're grown.
TA: Mhm.
WT: I farmed for the public a little bit. I was a supervisor on the farm for a year or two.
TA: Mhm.
WT: Then I went to the public work for a year, four or five years.
TA: Mhm.
WT: Then I got drafted to the army-.
TA: Mhm.
WT: -For a year and a half. I come back and farmed a year, no I didn't farm that year. I come back and went back to my job in Virginia.
TA: Mhm.
WT: Stayed about twelve, thirteen years. Finally got married. One child come along.
TA: [Laughs]
WT: I got so tired of living in town I got to come back try and farm a while.
TA: Mhm.
MV: You came back here?
WT: Yeah.
MV: In Virginia.
WT: In the old place, there was an old place there. ( ) that house plus ( ) was where I raised my boy's children for several years.
MV: [Sneezes]
WT: And then I'd give it to one of the boys when they'd help out.
TA: So you mainly, um, when you were growing up as a little boy though, um, did people who were already married live within your group. Um your brother, did you have brothers and sisters?
WT: Yeah.
TA: OK, did their, well. [Laughs]
MV: A bunch of them.
WT: They were, they was scattered though when they got married-.
TA: That's what-.
WT: They left from around here.
TA: Oh they did?
WT: You said my brother, I've got one brother you know Red look like. You know him.
TA: Mhm.
WT: I guess.
TA: Which one?
WT: H.A. // Junior. //
TA: // Oh yeah. // I remember him.
WT: It was just the two of us.
TA: Yeah. Oh OK. So it wasn't um-.
FV: Well Joyce // I thought. ( ) //
WT: I can't get over both of these being your daughters.
FV: [Laughs]
TA: [Laughs]
MV: I know it.
WT: What, is it, is there another one?
FV: Yeah.
MV: Yeah-.
WT: Older one, she's married?
MV: // Yeah. //
FV: //Yeah. // With two grandbabies.
WT: Yeah, I was remember about it // but it don't stick, don't stick good.
TA: // Show him pictures. //
MV: // Tammy's 19 and Michelle's only 12. //
FV: // There's so many of us. //
WT: You're 19?
TA: Yeah.
WT: You're going to what, teach school?
TA: Uh, no.
FV: She's going to be a nurse.
TA: I hadn't planning on-.
WT: A nurse, well that's wonderful. Well aren't you glad you got // nursing over around Saudi Arabia? //
LT: // Her grandfather-. //
TA: Yeah. [Laughs] Oh yeah, oh yeah. Um-.
WT: Well I don't know-.
LT: Your first child baby's got two children be my, the fifth generation.
WT: Let's see, these two girls yours? The other one, who's the other one?
TA: [Laughs]
MV: Jo is the other one.
WT: // Well I mean that was your first. //
FV: // It's tough to remember. //
TA: // Mhm. //
FV: At least he look just like him too.
WT: Oh is that right?
TA: Um, what else would you think?
MV: How about the difference in, in the family life from 55 years ago // down in this part of the country? //
TA: // Mhm. //
MV: How is that different from now days? // Like if // you're not a farm family now but what's your typical farm family like around here nowadays? Is, the, them, kids still stay at home and work on the farms like they used to?
TA: // Was it-. //
WT: No they sure don't. 'Cause those big machineries took over and one man will do what several farmers used to do. And the children will go to school and then the ( ) will send them to college. Then they go on their own nearby you know.
MV: So a typical, typical farmer nowadays is, just does it himself, maybe hires a little help?
WT: Oh yeah that's right.
LT: // The machine-. //
MV: Different seasonal help.
LT: -Done mostly with machinery.
TA: But it-. [Telephone rings]
WT: You have a lot of machinery maybe helping you in the housing part, which one // like for a month or ( ). //
FV: // No she'll get it. You go on down // in his bathroom.
TA: Do you think that families-.
WT: Yeah.
TA: -Um, when you were growing up, they were very-.
MV: Close.
TA: -Close together, very united. Do you think-.
WT: Oh yes, they all helped each other them days. This day in time you hardly know your neighbor.
TA: Yeah.
WT: And uh, that's 'cause it's the way it works. I thought back when I was a teenager all families got together and helped hog killings, corn shuckings, and nobody paid nobody nothing just glad to help you.
TA: Mhm.
FV: And the kids, they were very uh responsible too then-.
WT: // Yeah, alright, alright. //
FV: // -For one thing. They listened to their parents and // didn't // gripe about working. //
WT: // More so than they do in this day and time. // 'Cause all parents must, best I remember them days was at home.
TA: Mhm.
WT: In this day and time all parents have got a job. Want to go one way or another everyday. And then you leave the children and they go what they want to in a lot of cases.
LT: They've always got a ballgame or something to go to now.
TA: Mhm.
WT: Yes.
TA: // There are a lot more things for kids to do now. //
LT: // Soccer game or something. //
TA: Since they don't have the responsibility.
MV: And plus and like you said it takes, it takes both people to work now-.
WT: Yeah.
MV: -To live and so your families split apart.
LT: // I thought that ( ). //
WT: // I wish Charles could talk to you, to press the time, he's just two in his family. And he's tilling about 400 acres of land. //
TA: Gosh.
MV: Just Charles and his // wife? //
WT: // Yeah. // And his wife works at the bank now.
MV: She works at the bank so he, who, who else helps // ( )? //
WT: // He // got a colored fellow he's teaching about off, off everyday. He pays him just about for the week I believe.
MV: And he works year-round for him?
WT: When he's got anything for him to do. And most of the time he has as I told you.
TA: Has a, the crop seeds and stuff, have they gone up an extreme amount of money versus back in the olden days? I mean, just the uh-.
WT: I don't quite understand what you-.
TA: Don't you need to like buy fertilizers and seeds // and stuff. The costs? //
MV: // Yeah the cost, the cost of supplies-. //
FV: // The costs he said was twice as much. //
TA: // It's twice as much? //
WT: // You sure do. // You buy fertilizer and seed and insecticide and you have to spray it and a, a poison all the time.
TA: And it's a lot more money-.
WT: Oh it sure is, it certainly is.
LT: What you have to tell him about is how many hogs we killed. I made lots of sausage-.
WT: But-.
LT: Had a lot of little chitlins.
WT: She's getting there now. We'll keep talking.
MV: [Laughs]
TA: [Laughs]
WT: She's getting there now. But you better uh, make a long story short, my son in law-.
TA: Mhm.
WT: -He said his labor bill was 57,000 dollars.
TA: Mm.
WT: This year. He, and he was figuring it up, he went ahead of me-.
MV: Well how big a farm does he-.
WT: Oh I reckon, how much do, how much do you wager it's worth?
LT: Who you talking about, Charles?
WT: Uh // no, my son-// in-law, Keith, Keith.
MV: // His son-in-law. //
WT: He had I don't know, two or three hundred acres I guess. I imagine. He's picking beans. We'd be picking beans out. He plants a lot of soy beans-.
TA: Mhm.
WT: -And grapes. And then he'd have harvests for other people too.
TA: Wh-, what would you estimate um, forty years ago that, that would cost? Half that?
WT: // Forty years ago? //
MV: // No, that's not right. //
WT: Oh forty years ago.
LT: // That was about the time ( ). //
WT: // One farmer, one farmer's // uh labor bill would probably be 2,000 dollars.
TA: Gosh.
LT: What?
WT: About 2,000 dollars 50 years ago.
TA: Gosh.
WT: It cost me 500 dollars, five or six hundred dollars to hire my tobacco ( ). But we got ten cent an hour, ten to fifty cent an hour. We worked little children ten cent an hour to drive a mule out for you.
TA: [Laughs]
WT: Fifty cent a hour to find tobacco loopers.
FV: We got paid a quarter.
TA: We got paid a quarter. [Laughs]
FV: Those were the days.
WT: And uh we didn't have Coca-Colas-.
TA: Did you meet women-.
WT: -Fifty five years ago.
MV: You didn't have Coca-Colas?
WT: No you'd be lucky to get a Coca-Cola if, if you'd get a nickel. And that was all it cost.
TA: What about women? How'd you meet your girlfriend // or something like that. //
WT: // Oh. //
MV: [Laughs]
WT: All of us, all of us worked together.
TA: Really?
WT: All of us worked together is one way. And then two, I met mine when I was about 25 years old and got to travel around a little bit and found her working at the dime store and-.
TA: [Laughs]
WT: -She was wanting to get out. And I was wanting a cook.
TA: [Laughs]
WT: [Laughs]
TA: But there weren't, um, so you mostly met them by just school like Grandma met hers and then, um, working on the farm and stuff?
WT: Uh, run that by me again.
TA: You didn't-.
FV: Date a lot did you?
TA: Yeah.
FV: Or did you?
WT: No, not 'til I got 21 years old.
FV: Wow, because // Granddaddy wouldn't let you or-? //
WT: // I didn't know why. I, we had a // job all the time and didn't have no // transportation. //
LT: // Weren't you and // the neighborhood folk's girl // ( ) close by?
WT: // Didn't have no transportation. // Seldom ever had any transportation 'til I got twenty-one or two years old.
TA: Mhm. When did y'all, could y'all get your license then?
WT: Didn't have to have no license for years.
TA: Oh really?
WT: Didn't have to have them to drive or fly. The first time I ever ride with a great big boy and then that cost a quarter to get them.
TA: Oh. [Laughs]
FV: To get your driver's license?
TA: So your parents wouldn't let you drive their cars?
WT: Well we just had a one, a pick-up-.
TA: Oh.
WT: -And my, well he did have a car too. Well I didn't drive it much but we used it for business and, // he did all the time. //
TA: // Yeah. //
WT: Started to say we have, had to have Mama to keep the hog fires burning.
TA: [Laughs]
WT: And she had to cook three meals a day and I mean we had a breakfast like the reunion.
MV: [Laughs]
WT: It was seven days a week.
MV: Is that right?
WT: Yeah. Had about five or six to eat and had a hand or two she'd feed every day.
LT: I didn't tell them I kept, I boarded all the school teachers to come to the neighborhood every year // and he would cripple little young ones round the farm. //
WT: // He boarded school ( ) there too. //
LT: They'd cook, help them some more ( ) board with me. Nobody else in the neighborhood would have them. I'd have two at the time. [Laughter]
TA: Would y'all have three meals a day?
LT: // ( ) //
WT: // Yes ma'am. //
TA: // Three meals? //
WT: // Yes ma'am. And we just didn't have // friend chicken for breakfast on Sunday mornings. We had it about every single day.
TA: [Laughs]
WT: It was nothing to have to run out and pick up a chicken to have Sunday morning breakfast.
TA: Mm.
WT: But we'd, we'd be an hour or two feeding them and looking around, taking our time of course before we had breakfast on Sunday.
FV: Well I can remember too Grandmother having several different meats not just one meat, // for lunch. Chicken- a couple meats. //
WT: // Yeah it's a long story. You can't hardly think for the, and it's interesting too to get talking about what you are. And we lived good. I bet we're living as good or better than we do now. //
LT: //( ) //
WT: You didn't worry about running to the grocery store or being in debt 'cause we were raised different things to where we had to eat.
TA: Mhm. So it almost was, um, to farming having this great tech-, technological change wasn't as good as it appears to be now in a lot of ways? I mean, could you say that?
MV: Well it drove a lot of people out of farming obviously.
TA: Yeah. I mean-.
MV: Because people didn't need as, as many people working in farms. And like Wade said before it made it more difficult for them to, to make money because, because it was so expensive.
WT: That's true, you couldn't, it takes a fortune now to farm.
LT: // They didn't have big tractors. They had all these side things. //
WT: // That's why so many of them's going bankrupt. They thought they can get everything they need. They can go get it. It's a pay day one day. // And then some of them spend faster than they make it and that's where the road takes it. 'Course sign of the time.
TA: What, it, and it would be pretty hard to get in a lot of economic trouble // back in the old days? //
WT: I // quit farming about // 15, 20 years ago. I went and cut meat and I hogs and fairs a while worked at the hog market 10, 12 years and still working at-.
TA: Mhm.
WT: -Half the day, two half a days a week.
MV: Oh are you?
WT: Yeah, six hours, two mornings.
TA: Oh.
MV: ( )
WT: Don't own no farm. Got a few cows I would look at. Got Charles to help me day after let me go to church.
LT: Yeah.
WT: I had a problem finding seed and I finally did find some seed. We had to go way down below Dunn to get some. Got a little bit in Coats. Charles tore up that old wire grass and whatnot in the pasture with his big tractor back where he lives. [Coughs] I got some tractors but they're, they're small ones.
MV: So you don't want to hear that other one, well here comes one.
LT: Huh, hm?
MV: One of my boys, I don't know whether he can tell you anything or not-.
FV: [Laughs] Well, I hope they got that grandbaby. I want to see your new baby.
MV: No he, // he's five, seven now. //
TA: // What kind, do you know, um. //
MV: // Who is it now? //
FV: // Is it Dennis? //
WT: Dennis?
MV: Yeah.
FV: // Well I know you're proud of the baby. //
WT: Yeah he's talking now nearby.
MV: Would, would you say uh that people were uh happier or less happy back in the old days than they are today on the farm? Just general farm, your average farm family?
WT: I, I reckon they are now because they can do it so much easier and faster and they all got // one to, from one to two or three cars at everybody's house and they go and drive when they get ready and years ago we couldn't do that. Regardless of expense they, they have their, so much time off anyhow now looks like. //
TA: // Mhm. //
LT: // ( ) Charles ( ) got to go back next month and plant tobacco beds. //
WT: They vacation, // a week or two a time. // Years ago you didn't know what a vacation was. Unless it rained a day or two you know.
TA: // Save it. // [Laughs]
FV: Oh.
MV: [Laughs]
FV: 'Cause it rained.
TA: Mm.
WT: If it rained a day or two you know you couldn't do nothing much. [Sniff] Wouldn't let you, you'd have to be home, you'd look after your livestock. Sell a hog once in a while and trade chickens for groceries spend a little time getting into something once in a while. And-.
LT: You got that, you got that tape, that // tape on the table? //
WT: // -And most people went to town on mules and wagons. //
TA: Yeah it's taping.
LT: Play it back what it said to me. [Laughs]
WT: And most people went to town on mules and wagons or buggies every Saturday afternoon.
FV: That is something.
TA: That is neat.
WT: Now this is so far back now you girls won't believe all of it I'm sure but I, I can just see it right on the day, just like it was last week or something. I can remember a few years, forty years ago near about better than what I done yesterday.
MV: [Laughs]
TA: [Laughs]
WT: It's true. Wouldn't seem like it would be that way but that's the way it is.
LT: Tell them what you got per pound for your cotton // when you were selling it. //
WT: // Oh. //
LT: About how many bales.
WT: Daddy'd give me about, I picked cotton one year or a bale of cotton and he was going to pay me a salary too, he paid me a salary. Two dollars a week.
TA: Two dollars a week?
WT: He'd give me a bale of cotton and I sold that bale of cotton for five cent a pound. And it weighed five hundred and ten, fifteen pound. Now that was my year's work, plus my board.
TA: Mhm. [Laughs]
WT: And lodging which was good pay // they thought, they-. //
MV: // What were you ( ) and how old were you then? //
WT: I was about 20, 19, 20. Wasn't I Mama? Do you remember?
LT: I reckon // it was you were about, that was, that's when he left home wasn't it Wade? //
WT: // I was about 20 but after I was 21 I thought I was a man and I left home and I made it ever since. // Huh?
LT: That's when you left home wasn't it?
WT: Yeah.
LT: Uh, he was about 20-.
WT: About 20.
LT: Was it 21?
WT: About, about 21 when I did leave home. Went, went to the ( ) saved on bills , no I went down to Dawson county first. farm there for generations.
TA: // Who would-. //
WT: // The ( ). //
LT: He had a lot of mules and he had a-.
WT: They put me in charge of a farm down there in Cumberland County and they had 22 mules I believe it was. The whole big farm was placed high with colored people. You paid them 40 cent a day. And he'd let me take charge of that whole pasture. And he'd tie and pay it and just whatnot. ( )
TA: Do you think that, do you think there was much difference um between the different farmers you know um between different families as far as money, I mean were there wealthier farmers, poorer farmers, or were they mainly all // on the same-. //
WT: // Yes they were. // There were some that were much more better off than others.
TA: Mhm.
WT: There sure was some of us that couldn't make it and didn't make it, some of them did, but I don't, can't hardly tell you on what grounds-.
TA: Mhm. Yeah.
WT: -They did do it. I hardly done it.
TA: Yeah. What would uh be a materialistic good that farmers would wish? Like nowadays I wish for cars and back then-.
MV: What would they do with their money? // If they were better off. //
TA: Yeah // like for Christmas. // What would they go out and get?
WT: They would, for Christmas?
TA: Or-.
MV: Anytime.
TA: -Anytime. Yeah.
WT: Well they would, they would be lucky if they could get all they wanted to eat or maybe some new work clothes.
TA: Work clothes.
WT: And they had to buy their school books.
TA: They had to-.
WT: They had to buy the books then, you didn't rent them.
TA: Mhm.
WT: And of course a lot of us walked to school. Now I had to walk to school the first two or three years I went to school. Which wasn't but a mile but we thought that was long.
TA: [Laughs]
WT: And now I run a mile after breakfast.
TA: Oh.
WT: I do, you know, don't you all walk, don't you walk Betty? Do you take hikes?
FV: We used to.
MV: We walk, we walk on the golf course.
FV: // Yeah I walk on the golf course. //
WT: // Yeah that's about the same difference. // I got a mile and two tenths and I walk there and back two or three mornings a week. 'Course in Smithfield I only be up there two half a days. I may be working but I'm on my feet. Work an hour.
TA: So y'all would mainly spend your money to get new work clothes. Were your work clothes just pants and a // tee shirt? //
WT: // Overalls // and overalls and a pair of, a shirt, you'd go barefooted. It got so cold you couldn't-.
TA: Oh really.
WT: -Couldn't even wear shoes. You might have a pair you could, you could of dress in, dre-, call yourself dress up in. Maybe go to a funeral or you might go to church.
LT: I expect to dress up some.
TA: What um-.
WT: Church, well I reckon it might be four or five, ten years old or whatnot.
TA: What did you do about sicknesses when, uh, people got sick in the family // how did they // take care of them and how did that hurt the farmers 'cause they were out three, four people sometimes with measles ( ).
WT: // Oh. // Probably if you were sick you just stayed at home and suffered it out. There // weren't no hospitals. // Well if it got critical enough where your mama and daddy didn't know what to do for you-.
LT: // Wade was sick for a while he had to stay in the hospital. //
TA: Mhm.
WT: -You could get a doctor to come by.
TA: Mhm.
WT: A doctor would come by and see you.
LT: Doc-. Doc, Dr. Holts might come.
WT: Yeah.
LT: The one that, when your mama, when ( ) went to work at Rex State's nursing Dr. Holts was in early and they called it new then but it's early now.
WT: Yeah and Dr. Roberts here in Coats. And Fuquay and Coats. They'd come out to see us and they would, they'd travel in horse and buggy a while or what the mailman on horse and buggy was it?
LT: Oh yeah we had us a new buggy a long time.
WT: I'm talking about the doctor, I said for doctors.
LT: Huh?
WT: For the doctors. Did he travel on one of the horse and buggies? The mailman did. I don't know about the, I forgot about the doctor.
LT: I, I was talking about Dr. Moore. He come on up in the car I reckon. // Dr. Roberts did. //
WT: // But these home regulars. // People today, I didn't hear tell of so many people dying them days seem like, like you do now.
LT: No.
WT: It's the population.
LT: 'Cause there's more people now, more business-.
WT: The population wasn't near as big, 'course that makes a difference I'm sure.
FV: What year did, uh, I remember the outhouse, at the old house, 'cause I'd spend the night with Sonny and we'd go out there. [Laughter]
LT: Yeah, yeah we didn't have no-.
WT: Yeah, yeah we didn't know what electric lights was or rest-, bathroom, restroom.
FV: What year did the-, did y'all get a bathroom?
LT: Didn't you and Wade build a bathroom onto the barn?
WT: Yeah, what year was that?
LT: I don't know but it was while you was airborne.
WT: No, you did it while I was in Norfolk.
LT: Well that was about the year, you know what year you was gone?.
WT: No but you can add 20-.
FV: I was young.
WT: -Two or three years onto 1916. I was born in '16 add about 20 years to it.
MV: Thirty eight, 1938 or 40-.
FV: Yeah, well I was born and, uh, I used it, I'll never forget it. It was in the back of that house, the old house. 'Cause I was spending the night with you.
LT: Yeah, we // ( ) the bathroom. //.
WT: // You mean the outhouse? //
FV: Mhm.
WT: It was about '41 I reckon.
LT: Whenever we got the lights.
FV: I was born in '44.
LT: The electricity. And we had a-.
FV: Do you remember, Laylon?
LT: We had a battery you know, Dr. Roberts would come through we built a little house and he put up batteries and put an engine on top of it. We had Delco line.
WT: Yeah.
LT: And for a good while.
WT: A good while.
LT: Until electricity come around.
WT: We finally it played out and we used lamps a while. Aladdin lamps, it was a kerosene lamp but it was an Aladdin lamp and it'd give just as pretty a light as these lights here do. But you had to have everybody careful with them 'cause they, they play out right quick.
TA: So as a little boy y'all would get paid, paid money from your dad as like allowance to buy your books and your shirts-.
WT: Yeah that's right. There weren't no allowance handed to you to go spend 'cause there weren't nowhere to spend it.
TA: Mhm.
WT: You didn't have to go nowhere to spend it and it didn't worry us. It didn't worry us about wanting to go somewhere. Maybe get a chance to go to a next door neighbor or play ball, go to a swimming hole, go outside play with the bulls.
TA: [Laughs]
WT: And we done a lot of that or ride mules, ride mules. Finally made Hoover carts back in them years. You've heard of Hoover days I rec-, heard of it haven't you?
MV: You haven't heard?
TA: Um.
WT: Yeah boy, that was when, that was when the panic hit us. Lots of people lost there farms and houses. They made a, they made a what they call a Hoover cart which was just a two wheeled cart behind the horses, mules, and you, rubber wheels and tires on it, and you thought you was in class riding in one of them. And your mother rode with Roger Sects on one in a parade in Benson and they got a blue ribbon for being the best one in the parade. [Laughter]
WT: And he, he was driving a race horse. He raised race horses and he had her so dressed up, and Maddies was too and him. Uncle Roger Sects, you remember him?
FV: No, but I remember Mama talking about him.
WT: Married momma's sister. Lived near Buies Creek but she's dead now.
FV: Oh, yeah.
WT: And, uh, they drove that Hoover cart and this race horse as I said he was fixed up so nice and they got a blue ribbon and a trophy, some kind of trophy.
FV: That's wild.
WT: If you ever think about it when you're around her ask her sometime.
FV: I will.
WT: See if she remembers.
TA: When you moved, um, you left farming when you were 21 and went to Virginia, right?
WT: No, soon as I left I went down in, into Cumberland County and I was supervising on a big farm for a, for a Bill Ray.
TA: When you left farming, um, when did you go to Virginia then?
MV: // Right after that. //
WT: // Right after that. // Yeah I was about twenty, two or three years old.
TA: And you, were you in the country in Virginia or-?
WT: Yeah.
TA: You were?
WT: I, uh, stayed with my uncle.
TA: What was-.
WT: And he charged me two dollars a week. Room, board, and laundry. And I started to work with Guff Oil Company which was about five miles. And my first check was forty some dollars. A few days a good, later I got another forty some dollars. My God I didn't know what I was going to do with the money.
TA: [Laughs]
WT: I'd never been to no bank.
TA: That's cute.
WT: But I finally did start saving some and oh I bought, I bought my first car down in Cumberland County, 120 dollars. Then when I got out there up there and making that 40 dollars, 40, 45 dollars a week I got me a better car.
TA: [Laughs]
WT: Then, uh, as a year or two passed I traded it and got another, a better car. Single you know and got to riding more with the boys and then the army got me. And I was gone a year and a half. And I got out with a heart problems and arthritis so bad I, I got a certified disability. But they don't pay me enough, I tried to get something for it but they didn't do it. Because I had a record I had it before they had drafted me but they drafted me that way. Anyway, and uh they give me 30 days to come back with a job and they paid me for that 30 days if I went back to work. So I went back and, uh, 30 days later I got married too. And we lived up there. And stayed on up there 'til our first child was three or four years old. Then I got so fed up living in town like I was in government apartments, government project. Four families went into the same door. One here on each side here in apartment. Had a stairwell on each side over there. There was long buildings where we was living. My feet I thought was about to rot off or sweat off from that hot cement seven days a week year round and I just got fed up with it. Come home, farmed a little bit, looked like there wasn't much to pay there again, looked like. So I got a job hauling new cars. Hauled cars a year or two. One year drove-.
MV: You drove the big 18 wheelers?
WT: Yeah.
TA: For real? The big ones.
WT: Yeah Trailway buses six months. [Laughs] And I got fed up with all of it looked like, so I farmed another year or two. Bought me some tractors, got two right there now. ( ) That's where my money went buying tractors and trailers. And uh, got so disgusted one day I said I believe I'll quit it all. I went to work with my brother-in-law ( ). I cut meat in a hog house 12 years.
FV: I didn't realize you ( ).
WT: Well I did. Well this house, he paid for this house. He paid me good. Made a lot of hours though. I stayed so busy I didn't have time to feel ( ) much.
TA: Oh.
WT: And that's the way we made it 'til now.
TA: Was the northern farming any different do you think than the southern farming?
WT: Northern farming?
TA: Not too much?
WT: I, I can't tell you much about that, I really don't-.
TA: I was just wondering. Hm well.
FV: Is that all you need?
TA: I don't know. What do you think?
MV: [Laughs] Well I think you got a lot of good information.
FV: A lot of good information.
WT: Charles, if you could get up with Charles he had his little work clothes and all on.
LT: Charles ( ).
WT: He might be at home when you go back by.
TA: Should I?
WT: He'd tell you
FV: He can tell you more about-.
TA: I think I got
WT: He always just farm up here.
FV: -The modern things and all that.
WT: He come by here a while ago to our house.
LT: You reckon he's going to his house?
TA: I got about an hour and a half of this stuff.
WT: I just don't know.
FV: You got an hour and a half?
LT: You reckon he'll just go back this way?
TA: Of information.
LT: He'll be on the little dirt road. I don't know whether he wants to be on-.
WT: There ain't no dirt road, there's a brand new paved road. You got about 200 yards-.