Saturday, July 30, 2011

Drink More Milk, 1948

The following article was published in the Waynesville Mountaineer, May 18, 1948
A condition that cannot be driven home to North Carolina too frequently is the poor showing which Tarheelia makes in milk production and consumption.
While this deficiency, affecting both our economy and our health, has been stressed many times, it was the reiteration by Frank H. Jeter, State College agriculture editor, before a Raleigh civic club which currently caught our attention. Mr. Jeter, after noting that only 30 percent of North Carolina farm land is used in production of its great cash crops of tobacco, cotton and peanuts, urged that the remaining 70 percent go into production of other commodities and crops which are needed to balance our agricultural program.
It was in this connection that Mr. Jeter urged the development of a livestock industry, which of course ramified out into cattle raising, feed production and dairying. As for this third field the figures show that 20 percent of the milk which North Carolinians are now drinking has to be brought in from other states and that average consumption in the Old North State is only half the national average. Here we have a pyramided deficiency which must show the possibilities for dairying development in our midst. The average North Carolina consumes less than half the milk the average American consumes and yet, with this under-consumption, 20 percent of what he consumes has to be imported.
--Greensboro News

Union County Hen Club Banquet, 1948

Rocky Mount Telegram, July 2, 1948
Governor Cherry Will Address Club
Governor R. Gregg Cherry has accepted an invitation to be the principal speaker at an organizational meeting of the 300 Hen Club in Union County on July 30, it was announced today by N.B. Nicholson, assistant county agent in charge of poultry.
The dinner meeting, to be held in the American Legion hut in Monroe beginning at 6 p.m. is expected to attract an attendance of more than 300 farmers and farm wives, Mr. Nicholson said.
Purpose of the club, the agent asserted, will be to encourage farmers to increase their commercial poultry flocks to 300 or more hens each for more economical production of eggs.
Frank H. Jeter, editor of the Agricultural Extension Service and Experiment Station, will be toastmaster, and the invocation will be given by Dr. E.P. Billups, pastor of First Methodist Church, Monroe. George McClellan, Monroe businessman, will be recognized for his efforts to promote the poultry industry in Union County.
Governor Cherry will be introduced by State Senator Oscar L. Richardson of Union.
Charlotte News, July 16, 1948
Roy A. Palmer, merchandising and advertising manager of Duke Power Co., will present an Electric Magic Show at the 300 Hen Club Banquet at Monroe on July 30th. The banquet will be served in the American Legion Hut by the courtesy of Belk Bros. store. George M. McClellan, local manager, will act as host for the company.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Mrs. Holland Writes About Her Home in Statesville, 1952

By Mrs. Carl P. Holland, Statesville, N.C., 1952
I live in a small town with the most wonderful neighbors on either side and across the street. Our lot joins a small farm at the back.
We have an eight-room brick house with a terrace in front and a side porch. Not only our boy but all the children in the neighborhood play on our lawn in hot weather. They especially enjoy the shade of the large water oaks. The lower part of the lawn and part of the alfalfa field is their play ground.
The sleeping porch is a joy during the summer. It is furnished with two beds, a dressing table, and a sewing machine. In addition there is a glass shelf with African violets on one of the nine windows.
I love my kitchen best of all. Until a year ago, I cooked and heated all my water on an old wood range. Last year we modernized our kitchen by covering the cabinet tops with formica, painting, putting down new inlaid linoleum, by adding two new built-in cabinets, a new refrigerator, a new electric range and a cabinet electric hot water heater. One of the most valuable pieces of equipment in my kitchen is a pressure cooker in which I can many meats and vegetables each year.
From my kitchen window I can see my rose garden and vegetable garden and then the large alfalfa field on the hill behind. I can see our cattle grazing on permanent pastures the year round and in the distance I can see the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains.
We have a hot air coal furnace which keeps us warm in the coldest weather.
Since there are so few of us at home, we have found that it is cheaper to send our laundry out than to do it at home.
Now I’ve told you about hour house, but it is the living that goes on inside that makes a house a home.
A real home is a home that is lived in. If it is our privilege to have a home, it’s our responsibility to make it the best home possible. It’s where parents teach their children by examples of the Christian ideals, make them know what human values are the most important on earth, that our neighbors need us and we need our neighbors and in time, realize that the people of the world are our neighbors.
A real home is a happy home and every child is entitled to its happiness. A real home is a place where respect and courtesy are practiced, where wholesome interest reigns, where mothers are home when their families need them, where calmness prevails amid confusion.
Bob had a little dog that was his daily companion. Someone ran over the dog and killed it. Of course Bob was broken hearted. A few months later we went to a movie and in the picture some one ran over a little boy’s dog and killed it. When we got home, bob said he was going to bed. After a new minutes we heard sobs in the bedroom. My husband went back and talked to Bob a long time. Next morning while eating breakfast he said, “Mother don’t tell daddy I told you, but he cried last night, too.”
Another time when he came in with the pockets of his blue jeans bulging, I told him to come over and let me get some of that trash out of his pockets. After taking out strings, rocks, sticks, whistles, nails and many other articles, he looked up at me so wistful and said, “Mother, you haven’t found any trash yet, have you?” No, I didn’t find any trash and he went away happy. The responsibility of raising children was given to the home. Let’s make it a place that gives them a sense of security, a solid foundation, a place they will always want to come back to. I heard a mother say a few days ago she took her small son with her to visit relatives in another state. They were gone about five weeks. When they returned and were nearing their home, the little boy said, “Mother, let’s never stay away this long any more.”
Just as surely as we provide a real home for our family, let’s balance our living and change our spirits by some outside interests—have a party, go to a movie, club meeting, or to a meeting of the Voters Information Bureau for Women. Let’s be an informed people. And most important of all, let’s be a nation of church-going families with each member of the family taking an active part in the various organizations of the church. Our family has always practiced the habit of having a regular daily devotion period in the home.
Mrs. Holland entered this essay in a Home Demonstration Club competition in North Carolina in 1952. The original is located in The Special Collections Research Center at D. H. Hill Library, N.C. State University, Raleigh, N.C. Special Collections holds research and primary resource materials, especially from organizations, units, departments and individuals throughout N.C. State University. For more information on Special Collections, go to

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

All Our Folks Was Farmers, 1939 Interview with Lester Garren

From a March 27, 1939 interview with Lester Garren (white), The Rutledge Farm, Fletcher, N. C., Tenant Farmer, by Anne Winn Stevens, writer.

At the top of a ragged hill grown over with scrubby oaks stands a dingy, four-room cabin. The two rooms of which it consisted originally had been painted green, but except for a few streaks here and there the paint has long since rubbed off. A lean-to of rough boards has been added. Freight and passenger trains chug along the tracks beyond the country road leading from the village, and cough up smoke from their toiling engines. The smoke caught by the wind swirls over the hill and still further blackens the cabin and outhouses.

Although pleasant, green fields rimmed by distant mountains partially encircle the hill, this house near the railroad tracks is as unprepossessing as the shacks in the meanest mill village. It has no modern conveniences. Stoves heat it, and it is lighted by kerosene lamps. Water is secured from a well adjacent to the pig sty in the middle of the barnyard.

No attempt has been made to grade the yard, and the only evidence of care is a gravel walk outlined by bricks set edgewise, which leads from the front porch to the brink of the hill, where it stops short. At the back of the house is an irregular clearing, muddy in wet weather, dusty in dry, and cluttered with small stones. Here stand the barn, stables, and corncrib, patched loosely with rough boards. They have never been painted.

"My husband patched 'em up loose on purpose," said Mrs. Garren, "so if we move he can pull down his boards and take 'em with him."

"Don't the owners keep up the property?" I asked.

"Nought but the big house," she replied.

At first view from the rocky, deeply rutted road the place seemed abandoned, except that a brood of baby chicks, on hearing footsteps, rushed out from under the house, climbed all over the porch, and narrowly escaped being stepped on. The rough cornfield to one side of the cabin still has last year's stalks standing at the end of March.

On the opposite side of the hill, overlooking wide grain fields and distant mountains, is the red-roofed, many-gabled summer home of the Rutledges, aristocratic coast dwellers, who rent part of their mountain estate to native farmers. The Rutledge homestead is approached by a neatly graveled road, outlined by trim shrubs. An intervening grove conceals from the summer occupants the tenant houses along the railroad track.

Jane Garren, the tenant's wife, is a brawny, masculine type, about 45 years old, with deeply tanned skin and roughhewn features. Her hair was entirely hidden by a cheap, red and green wool cap; her cotton dress was faded and shapeless; and, although there had been no rain for a week, she strode along in galoshes.

She was getting dinner. "My husband will be comin' any time, now," she said.

"What are you giving him for dinner?" I asked.

"Potatoes," she grinned. "Every day it's potatoes: boiled potatoes, mashed potatoes, fried potatoes, potato soup."

Peeled Irish potatoes in a yellow bowl and the long, zinc-covered table confirmed her statement. A range occupied one end of the kitchen. Rough shelves in the corners bore coarse earthenware dishes; a few pots and pans hung on the walls. The adjoining room, barely furnished, was evidently the living room. It had faded, large-flowered curtains at the windows, a coal heater, and a few cheap chairs. The walls were cluttered with a miscellaneous collection of fly-specked calendars.

"That's a picture of my youngest son," said Jane, pointing to a large photograph on a dresser in one corner. "He graduates from high school this year." Later in the day when the boy came home from school, it appeared that the photograph flattered him. He was dark and thin, and stooped badly. He had a sullen, hangdog expression. Like his mother he was very closemouthed.

The older son, already graduated from high school, works in the weaving room of a rayon factory at $22 a week. He lives with his parents. The older daughter works in a hosiery mill and also lives at home.

"She inspects the work of 100 girls," said her mother proudly, as she drew from a dresser drawer a cheap light-blue, rayon stocking. "This is one of the stockings they make at the mill," she said. "My daughter inspects the feet, another worker inspects the legs, and another inspects the finished stockings when they are ready to be packed."

"How does your daughter like the work?" I asked.

"She likes it; but it's hard on her eyes; she complains of them hurting her, when she comes home in the evening."

The girl makes $12.60 a week. She is pale and anemic looking, and puffy about the eyes. Her expression is sullen, and she answers questions in a curt, monosyllabic style. Neither she nor her younger brother seem to have shared their mother's vigorous health. Although she has trouble with her eyes, she does not wear glasses.

A younger girl, still in grammar school shares the family reticence, but is more attractive, with dark, curling hair and serious eyes. A member of a 4-H club, she works on her project conscientiously. Last year she planted and tended a plot of beans. The vines bore abundantly, but although the crop was good the market was already glutted, so that she could sell none. This year she is raising a Hereford steer, a calf whose horns are still mere nubs. On her return from school she went directly to its stall, slipped a halter over its head, and led it out.

Her mother, who was haggling with a salesman over some insect powder, stopped to say, "Better water that calf; I forgot all about him. He ain't had nothin' to eat, or no water, neither." It was then late afternoon.

The girl led the steer to the three stocks of fodder standing out in the clearing, tethered him, and let him munch from one of the stocks. Nearby was a harrow left in the open to take the weather.
Jane Garren and the salesman continued their argument. The salesman, middle-aged, sandy-haired, and bland, was saying that Jane's hens needed delousing.

"Give the powder a trial, ma'am," he said. Jane went to the corncrib - it must have been a chicken coop, originally; it was built of slats and quite open enough to be soaked through by rain - and took out an ear of corn, and began scattering the grains. At her call, some 80 hens came tumbling over each other. There seemed to be no henhouse, so they must roost in the trees, or in the stables, perhaps. They were a mixed brood: Plymouth Rocks, Rhode Island Reds, games, white Leghorns, and less easily recognizable species.

She ducked quickly and seized a big, squawking Plymouth Rock. The salesman rubbed the yellow insect powder into the hen's feathers, shook it out into a box lid, and pointed to the lice that squirmed and then lay still. An argument followed.

"That there one," said Jane Garren, pointing a long, thick finger, "ain't dead."

The salesman smiled patiently and shook the box lid. Heads together, they watched intently.
"It ain't dead yet," said Jane again.

"Now look," said the salesman triumphantly. "It's dead, all right. It's the fumes that kills 'em."
The task of delousing 80 hens seemed to stagger Mrs. Garren, particularly when the salesman declared the process should be repeated several times at intervals of three weeks.

"You could do it this way," he argued, "just put the powder in the dust hole where the hens are accustomed to wallow. That will do as well."

Then there began a haggling over the price. "A dollar and a half's too much," said the farm woman.
The salesman maintained his bland air. Finally, he agreed to take as payment two living hens totaling 11 pounds.

"I can sell them," he said, "at the curb market in town."

Mrs. Garren brought out bathroom scales, which she balanced precariously on the uneven ground. Hen after hen was caught and deposited thereon, but refused to perch, until at last the salesman solved the problem. He placed the hen's head under its wing, rotated it vigorously, then placed the bewildered fowl on its side on the scales, while Mrs. Garren and the younger girl squatted beside him to read the dial.

"Five pounds," announced the salesman, as for a split second the hen lay still.

"No, 'twas five and a half," said Jane.

Hens were then fed and caught and rotated, until at last two hens were found whose combined weight totaled 11 pounds. A debate broke out afresh about the price per pound: Jane demanding 16¢, and the salesman contending for 12 1/2¢.

Finally the salesman won, and tucked a hen under each arm. He handed the container of insect powder to Jane.

"I ain't a-goin' to take that there box," she declared. "You done used some of it."

The salesman waddled down the hill with his hens. He returned from his parked car with an unopened box of the powder for her.

Besides the chickens, Mrs. Garren raises and sells vegetables, and keeps bees, but the real business of the family is raising beef cattle. Lester rents 120 acres from the Rutledges and pays them a flat sum of $300 a year for the house and lot and the farm land. Jane seems to think this a profitable bargain and, while noncommital about gains, intimates they are prospering. They have 25 full-blooded Herefords, several full-blooded Jerseys, and other cattle of mixed breed. Those lying in the shade of the trees adjoining the lot looked rather gaunt. There were no stalls for them. Evidently they sleep in the grove.

Part of the land is wooded, part is pasturage, and about half of it is arable bottom land, already green with springing grain. They also raise corn, peas, beans, and hay, and although Lester, 55 years old, is small and thin, and does not appear to have much strength, he can plow all day without excessive fatigue.

"All our folks was farmers," said Mrs. Garren, "back up in the mountains. No, I don't know when they settled there, or where they come from. Lester's people and my people lived in the same cove. I've known him all my life. His brothers and my brothers all farm. Most of 'em are back up there where we come from. I've got one married sister living in Fielding."

"Did you and Lester go to school?"

"Yes & I finished the school - went through the seventh grade - but Lester dropped out. They was only one teacher - it was a little log school - and we didn't have grades like they got now, but they told me I went through the seventh grade. I don't know how far Lester got - he's older'n me, and dropped out before I started."

Lester owns 102 acres of land back in the mountains, but, "It's so steep," he said, "it ain't fit for farmin'." He raises apples on this land, and pastures cattle on the hillsides. He tried renting the place, "But the tenants," Jane put in, "let the cows get into the orchard and break limbs offen the apple trees. They run down the property, so we just locked up the house and let it stand."

"We've lived here about three year," Lester added, "but we ain't brought our best things here. We sort of feel like we're camping out."

From American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers’ Project, 1936-1940, online at

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Outstanding Farmers and Housewife to Compete on Radio Program, 1948

Rocky Mount Telegram, June 19, 1948
Two of Pitt County’s best farmers and an outstanding farm wife have been named to represent North Carolina on the nation-wide radio program “R.F.D. America,” which will be heard over NBC stations at 1 p.m. (EST) Sunday, June 20.
They are: Hilton P. Carson, Stokes; Richard Beanhill, Stokes; and Mrs. Dorothy Moye, Farmville. They will compete for valuable merchandise awards as they answer questions testing their general information as well as their knowledge of farm techniques. The winner will receive the title of “Master Farmer of the Week” and will win a return appearance on the program the following week.
To select the contestants, T.W. Lewellen, advance man for the program, visited Greenville and personally interviewed farm men and women of the county. He then asked eight of them to appear in an elimination program, judging each contestant on his score in the competition, his voice, radio personality, and sense of humor.
Carson, who was just married this spring, took his bride to live on a 200-acre farm. Prior to becoming a farmer four years ago, he attended college 3 ½ years. He specializes in tobacco, corn, and peanuts, and raises Black Angus beef cattle. He is a member of the Farm Bureau, and his hobby is experimenting with fertilizer.
Mrs. Moye and her husband, Howard D., have been married for 13 years and have three sons. Mrs. Moye graduated from Eastern Carolina Teachers College in 1930, having majored in mathematics and science. The Moyes own 80 acres, lease 250 acres and manage 140 additional acres on which they raise tobacco and corn. Mrs. Moye is a member of Ballard’s Home Demonstration Club, Farmville Christian Church, and the Missionary Society, and is a former member of Farmville Junior Woman’s Club. Her hobby is china painting.
Barnhill, who tenant farms 125 acres, has a B.A. degree from college. He does diversified farming with his principal crops being peanuts, tobacco, corn, and small grains. His hobby is rabbit hunting.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Mrs. Donald Herring’s Essay on the Rural Home Wins First Place in the State, 1952

By Mrs. Donald Herring, Dudley, North Carolina (Wayne County)
There have been so many changes in the rural home for the past 25 years, one can hardly compare living now with rural living then.
Eight years ago, I was married and came to live in this farm home. This is my husband’s homeplace, and his 78-year-old father still lives with us. I came from a rural home, but not a farm home. I have learned to love the farm and its surroundings. It was hard at first because he had no conveniences. We brought our water from a well that is still used to water stock when needed. It is located about 50 yards from the house. We used oil lamps and I learned to cook on a wood stove. I was very grateful to have a kerosene refrigerator which was here when I came. I also had a crude way of washing and ironing.
Donald, my husband, painted our bedroom before I moved in. We bought a four poster mahogany bedroom suite which I’m still proud to have. It was three years before the electric lines came our way. It was then that we started making some much needed improvements. My father gave me a belated wedding present of a deluxe range. We traded for an electric refrigerator, got an automatic washer, iron, and several appliances which go to make convenient living. It wasn’t too long before we put in a water closet and a hot water heater. It was about the same time that we got in the kitchen and started doing some work. We also put cabinets over these. We put some linoleum on the kitchen floor and painted the inside and outside of the house. Then we decided that we needed more room, so we built a 12-by-22-foot room on the back of the house. It’s this room that I like most of all. I use this for a combination dining room and den, and of the furniture I love, I like this I use in here most of all.
When we decided to get married, Donald cut some maple logs from his father’s farm and we had this dining room suite and desk made. The site consists of a drop-leaf table, six chairs, china closet, and a lovely buffet. It’s only when we have company that we use this to serve our food. I have a small red and grey chrome and plastic dinette suite in the kitchen. We have three bedrooms. I find that I have to use bright colors in these rooms to make them look more cheerful, because the shade from the big trees darkens the rooms. We have a living room, but it isn’t used so very much, since we enjoy our den.
We have our telephone, radio, and other appliances, which are such a help. In the winter we cut off the part of the house that is used most and heat it with two big oil heaters. We have a fire place in the living room.
I love fixing flower and fruit arrangements and I guess one would say that is my hobby. I also love having indoor plants. I think it makes the house look more alive with something green and beautiful growing it it.
Donald’s mother has been dead for 27 years—since he was two years old. His father had a housekeeper to take care of things, but of course, she did not have the interest here as a member of the family would so things had gone badly undone.
The outside of the house and the yard needed improving as well as the inside. Donald’s family took great interest in this. I would like to say more about him, because I feel that he plays an important part in this home of ours. We realize that through the years, he has acquired wisdom and that he can and does mean much in our family life. He is a great asset to our home.
I started putting some shrubbery out and much to my surprise, it lived. Donald’s sister thought it was a mystery that this had lived when they had put out things repeatedly that had died. The secret is that we hauled stable manure to put around these plants. The reason for having such a hard time with this was the big oak trees that shade our yard drew the nourishment of the soil to them. I did not have too hard a time getting the borders to the yard started, and we had good luck with the grass. We fenced in a place next to our garden which makes up a part of the yard for me to have my cut flowers. I have my flowers for my own use but last year I did have a few chrysanthemums for market. Our garden is conveniently located, being so close to the house. When we plan our garden, we think seriously of planting the things and varieties that we will enjoy fresh, that will be good frozen, and that are good for canning. We have enough small fruit of each variety for our own use, and we thoroughly enjoy these fruits.
We bought our home freezer about a year ago. I have found that it takes a lot of planning, not only to put food in the freezer, but to use the food before the season comes again for each food. There are such a few things that a farm family has to buy from the grocery store the year round. I can always g to m freezer and prepare a complete meal from it. Of course, my canned food helps out. I enjoy having and using my pressure cooker. I find that I still have foods to can, such as soups, tomatoes, apple sauce, grape juice, jellies, and preserves. I still dry some foods, too.
Our home agents are a continual guide through our Home Demonstration Club, 4-H Club, and other farm organizations. They stress to us the importance of a better home and better community life. I was a 4-H club member for six years and now I am a 4-H Neighborhood leader. I am interested in this because I feel that it means a lot toward future homemaking.
According to statistics, there are fewer divorces granted among farm families than any other group of people. I believe this is true because when a couple is married and goes to the farm or lives on the farm they begin helping each other, and feel a need for each other. There are very few women who do not help with the farming during the busiest season, and few men who do not help with the children, dishes, and other chores when they are needed. I believe I feel closer to my husband when I feel that he needs me.
Immanuel Kant (he is probably the greatest philosopher since Plato) once said, “It is not the world you find, but the world you make.” I think he meant that it is that which comes from within. I feel the same way about a home: It is not the house you build, but the home you make.
I have failed to mention two of the most important members of our family, and they are important because they really make this home that I am trying to tell you about. We have two little girls. The oldest, Jenny, is six years old and Alice is two years old. I can see that they are not the most beautiful children in the world, but I, as most mothers, feel that they are the sweetest and dearest in the world. I am striving to have a home which they will feel is our home. A home that they will be proud of and in which they will feel that they are important too. I never want them to feel that mother and daddy have anything in which they do not share. It is our farm, our car, and our home. They have a grand place to play. The house is surrounded by oak trees and they have a sand pile under one of them. They have a wagon, tricycle, swing, and such to play with outside. They like their coloring books and dolls on rainy, bad days. The thing they like most of all right now and through the summer months is a little stream of water that goes through our pasture. It is about 200 yards from the house. Its depth is from 6 to 12 inches. I go as often as I can with them—that is most every day.
I am so glad and so thankful to have my children in a rural home, where they know something of the wide open spaces, where they can see how animals and plants grow from cells and seeds into maturity. I want them to see and realize how we depend on God for our spiritual needs as well as our material needs.
I have a special reason for running my home as I do. I believe that the greatest force that moulds character comes from the home and when I married I pledged myself to create a home which would be morally wholesome, spiritually satisfying, and physically healthful and convenient; I believe in my work as a homeworker, and I want to accept the responsibilities it offers to be helpful to others and to create a more contented family and community life, so that in the end, home life and farm life will be most satisfying.
This essay, which won first place in the competition in North Carolina, is located in The Special Collections Research Center at D. H. Hill Library, N.C. State University, Raleigh, N.C. Special Collections holds research and primary resource materials, especially from organizations, units, departments and individuals throughout N.C. State University.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Newsprint Shortage Ends, Charlotte Observer Resumes Farm Section, 1948

Charlotte Observer, March 22, 1948
The Observer today resumes publication of its farm section under the general title of The Observer Farmer. During the war years this feature, devoted to agriculture in North Carolina and South Carolina, editorially and pictorially was discontinued because of newsprint shortage.
The feature is to be returned to these pages under the editorial guidance of F.H. Jeter, director of extension, North Carolina State College at Raleigh. Every Monday morning it will give you the latest in farm news, farm development, and general advancement in agriculture.
The Observer Farmer not only will contain especially written articles by Mr. Jeter, but contributions also form members of his staff. There will be authoritative articles from time to time from D.W. Watkins, director of extension service, Clemson College, S.C., as well as from members of his staff.
Our farm agents throughout the two states, representatives of 4-H clubs, soil conservation experts, and others have been invited to contribute.
In addition, Observer special writers will receive assignments in connection with this section, including interviews with small and large farmers, with illustrations by Observer staff photographers.
The human interest element will find its place here, too—but news of the latest and most far-reaching developments in farming will be the constant theme of this section.
The Charlotte Observer has a farm circulation in North Carolina and South Carolina in excess of 20,000, seven times more than the farm circulation of any newspaper published in this area. The Observer, therefore, is happy to reinstate its farm section for this impressive segment of its family of readers.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Davidson and Randolph County Farmers Featured, 1948

 By F.H. Jeter, Extension Editor, State College, Raleigh, published in the Charlotte Observer, Jan. 17, 1948
Davidson and Randolph are mid-Carolina counties that are noted for their feed production. Farmers of both counties grow small grain, hay, clover, pastures, and grazing crops. They convert most of this into milk, although some goes into beef, a part into pork, and much into eggs and other poultry products. There are good markets for all of the products right there at home, what with milk routes stretching over both counties and with some of the larger market centers of North Carolina nearby.
Davidson people say it is becoming increasingly more difficult to find good cows, or at least to get those which they can afford to buy. Only the other day, Jesse Green dispersed his herd of 31 grade Holsteins and notwithstanding the fact that these 31 cows were not purebreds, Mr. Green sold them for better than $300 each. If the cows had been fresh, or even near to freshening time, they would have brought more than $300 average. So, this is causing all Davidson farmers to keep their heifer calves on the farm. They say they can afford to raise these replacements much cheaper than they can afford to buy the mature cows.
One of the great old cows of Davidson County is old “Bess,” a Holstein owned by the Mills Home Orphanage there in Thomasville. This cow is about 14 years old and has dropped 11 calves. In these 11 lactations, she has provided the orphan children of that Home with 134,667 pounds of milk and 4,338 pounds of butterfat.
Norman Shoaf of Lexington, Route 1, and Wilson and Sons of Linwood, Route 1, completed new grade “A” barns early in December and others will be completed this month. H.A. Johnston of Lexington, Route 6, sells grade “A” milk and has bought a fine Ayrshire male calf grown by the North Carolina Experiment Station. The mother of this breeding animal has a record of 10,335 pounds of milk in 3,055 days as a two-year-old, and Mr. Johnson expects to build up his own milking herd composed mainly now of grade cows.
Howard Snyder of Denton community uses his Ladino pasture to fatten cattle for the market. Last March, he bought two beef heifers on the local market for $62 each. In late August, he sold them on the same market for $90. He picks up likely looking grade beef animals as he runs across them, places the animals on his Ladino pasture and the pasture does the rest.
But there is good land in Davidson adapted to red clover. The local growers usually seed this clover with the small grain, save the first crop for hay and then get a seed crop the second year. The stubble is usually turned under for corn or for planting to small grain that same fall.
E.C. Stokes and son, Leon, of Linwood farm together, and they harvested 2,085 pounds of high-grade seed from 11 acres of red clover last August. The hay crop had previously produced a ton per acre. Since red clover seed was selling for 35 cents a pound right at the farm, this 2,085 pounds of seed brought Mr. Stokes and Leon the sum of $729.75 plus $365 for 11 tons of hay. The land was plowed, disked and seeded to small grain last fall and the grain will again be over-seeded with red clover in early spring.
When it comes to grazing crops, G.C. Palmer of Lexington, Route 6, says you ought to see what has happened to his “duck pond.” Mr. Palmer has a piece of land containing about three acres that has never been of much value to him. Most of the year it is covered with water and so the family named it the “Old Duck Pond.” Whenever possible, and usually in the late summer, the cows were turned on it to gather what little grass they could find but they never secured too much feed.
In 1947, Mr. Palmer cut a small ditch through the three acres; then he worked it over thoroughly with a tiller and the disk. He did this several times until he had a good seedbed and, in the fall of 1947, he seeded the field to Ladino clover and orchard grass. He has limed the land thoroughly and used 800 pounds per acre of a 2-12-12 fertilizer at planting time. Last spring he began grazing this area with a work animal, three milk cows, and two heifers. The six animals also had access to about three-fourths of an acre of additional orchard grass but had no other grazing. Mr. Palmer says this old “duck pond” is now one of his best paying fields, all because of a little attention to drainage.
Some years ago, it was my privilege to visit W.L. Smith Sr., who owned a good farm out on Rural Route 6 from Lexington. Mr. Smith had a pond on his farm and would feed Canadian geese, wounded by hunters on the nearby Yadkin River High Rock Lake. For many years, Mr. Smith had quite a colony of the wild geese, and they came to trust him and depend upon him for food. One goose in particular became so attached to his protector that he would follow the Model T Ford to church or to town, flying along just over the car and staying with it until Mr. Smith returned from his errand.
His son, W.L., who owns the farm now, doesn’t keep so many Canadian geese but he is known for his interest in quail. He keeps about 175 quail along with five pheasants and 17 Canadian geese. When he first began to raise quail, he did so with the idea of turning them free on his own farm but so many people began to come to the farm for pairs of the quail or for eggs that he began to sell the quail for $10 a pair and the eggs for 35 cents each.  This, he says, brings in some extra cash and defrays the expenses of his hobby. He raised five young Canadian geese last year but did not attempt that this season.
But while this love of wild things is a family trait, Mr. Smith does not forget that his living depends upon his farm. He produces excellent acre yields of small grain, corn and hay. Just recently, he bought three purebred registered Hereford heifers from the breeding herd owned by W.E. Webb of Statesville.

Postmistress, Eden, N.C., 1939

By Adyleen G. Merrick, Federal Writers’ Project,
September 28, 1939, Rockingham County

In the diminutive building which housed the Post Office of Eden, North Carolina, Winnifred Morton busily distributed the morning mail, stopping now and then as she worked to say "Good morning" or to speak a cheery word to one of the group gathered about her waiting for the last letter and card to be put up in the little boxes that faced the wall. Her kindly eyes looking out through steel-rimmed glasses had an expression of welcome and good cheer as she spoke first to one and then another of her neighbors.
Light brown hair touched with grey was drawn straight back from her forehead and pinned in a secure little knot at the nape of her neck. There was no fussiness about Winnifred Morton, she looked the typical little old New England mother, from her practical glasses to her yet more practical morning dress and stout low-heeled oxfords. Her small white hands moved quickly here and there as she placed mail in the proper place with swift sureness.

Now and then she stopped to glance at a letter or post card, sometimes a smile crossed her face or perhaps a frown. She knew so well the people to whom this mail was addressed, their particular problems and joys. Also, they were all her friends, she followed the life of her community with interest and concern.

Since the day George Morton had brought her as a little yankee bride to his tiny cottage there on the hill nearby which has been her home for many years, she took into her heart the joys and sorrows of her neighbors, her own had made her strangely understanding. It was to her folks came for advice and help. She always gave it freely.

Pausing for a moment she patted the golden curls of a chubby child who looked up at her with expectant eyes; his little body tense with excitement.

"The package came, but baby it's so large I don't believe you can manage it. I'm afraid it's much too heavy. Can't you wait till your ma can come and get it? No? Well, let’s see, hold out your arms and I will help you get started. Oh! it's mighty big for you son, I just don't believe you can make it home?"

Holding tight to the package the child struggled valiantly through the doorway making his way along the winding path; his little legs wobbled a bit as he crossed the bridge over a stream in the meadow, but he trudged on finally passing from sight, and the quiet which had marked this episode was broken.

"Poor little fellow" said the postmistress. That's a package of things his ma's sister sends. I wouldn't be surprised if there isn't candy and perhaps a toy tucked in it for him. Any way that's what he thought I'm sure."

It was pleasant waiting there in the little Post Office, to look out on the well kept grounds surrounding it, where flowering shrubs and rows of flowers gave the morning air an especial sweetness. Sunlight made a silver ribbon of the little brook nearby. The mountains in the distance were touched with bright signals of the coming fall. Cosmos, pink and white, flanked the roadway and swayed rythmatically with each stirring breeze; everywhere hung a mysterious promise of the harvest season.

It was an interesting group of people gathered there waiting for the mail. Most of them made their home in the valley. The tall grey-haired man was once an actor, he still bore the stamp and mannerisms of the stage. Near him was the bright little woman who owned and operated a gift shop on the highway not far away, and worked with such success upon hooked rugs hour after hour. Then there was the "New Man" from Cleveland who had come into their midst to try planting, in the open, acres of flowers for the wholesale market. A dark-eyed woman held fast to a child's hand as she talked in low tones to her older son who had just come in from work at the mill. He worked on the night shift. They were all friends and neighbors of Winnifred Moss.

Soon the little group dispersed and went their separate ways; the morning mail hour was over.
Carefully picking up a few sprays of an evergreen with dark glossy leaves and wax-like white flowers, she came forward with a welcome greeting.

"I thought you would come, so I stopped on my way through the garden and gathered some Sweet Olive for you. I haven't forgotten that you love it. I didn't have time to cut any for you when you were over here before. I've been sorry about that ever since.

"It's strange," she said, drawing up a chair, "how the perfume of a flower can remind you of people and things in the past. The Sweet Olive shrub was there in the garden when I came, I don't even know when George planted it, (if he did) or where it came from. We've tried so often to root a cutting but never succeeded. It was blooming when our little son died. He only lived eight months. George did so want a son."

There was a far away look in the woman's eyes and a sigh escaped her, then she went on. "I remember how I stood looking down at my little son, so still there in his casket. He seemed such a tiny mite to have to go all alone back to God. I went out in the garden and gathered a little bunch of the fragrant white flowers from the Sweet Olive shrub and slipped it into his little hand to go along with him.

"Sweet Olive was blooming when my sisters came for their first visit to us. I think it was the only thing that pleased them. They were shocked about everything else. My new life was so different they just couldn't understand. I had lived in a large and comfortable home, had known every convenience, it seemed hard to believe I could be contented and happy here. The cottage so small a friend once laughingly said: 'Why Mrs. Morton, I could reach my hand down the chimney and open your front door!' It wasn't quite that bad but the cottage is awfully small. However, I just loved the place from the very first day when I saw it there among the flowers. I love it yet. That's why I have not gone to live with either of my daughters or back north. It was in that house life's joys and sorrows came to me. …I couldn't leave it now.

"Forty-four years ago we came to Tryon nearby, for my father's health. He did improve for a while but not for long. We should have come sooner, I suppose.

"I'll never forget the day we arrived in the little village where there was so much beauty and so few conveniences. How drab and cheerless the cottage was that we had rented sight unseen. The cottage where [unreadable] in bad weather, [unreadable] winds blew with such violence they actually raised the rug on our parlor floor and rattled the windows something awful. We shivered over a "hot blast" stove and I guess we thought a lot about our comfortable home back east. George came to the train with our friends to meet us the day we arrived. He was kind and helped in getting us settled. I think of that so often now.

"I was never what you might call beautiful, but George said from the very first time he saw me coming down the steps of the Pullman car, he knew I was the girl he wanted. From then on he was certainly a persistent suitor. Aren't men funny anyway? He came to call right away and asked me to go with him to a dance next evening at the village hotel. Being a stranger and thinking it would be very informal, I wore some simple dress. Imagine my surprise when we arrived to find it a gala affair. Women in beautiful evening gowns, lovely looking, so well groomed and up to the minute. I just supposed I would meet country folks and was terribly embarrassed. But there was friendliness and good cheer among those people, who later became my friends. Most of them were here as we were, seeking health. I soon forgot my embarrassment and had a good time. They were all so kind.

"Next fall George came up to Boston and we were married quietly, as my father had been dead such a short time. I can't say my family took very kindly to it. "Why on earth did I want to marry him? Why go back to that little country town?'

"Well, I couldn't say then, I can't now. With the death of my father our home was broken up. My two sisters were away teaching and there was only mother and one brother left. It just seemed as if I walked out of one life and into another the morning George brought me, his little yankee bride, back to the new life. He took my hand and led me through the door and smiled as he said in a half embarrassed way, 'Well, here it is "Doll", make the most out of it you can.

"And I did, too. I set right to work. I covered all the bare spots as fast as I could. I spent days and days changing that bachelor den into a presentable home. Curtains went up; flowers were put everywhere and you've no idea how that helped. Out came my wedding gifts and it wasn't long before the cottage looked mighty different I can tell you. George was delighted, he watched with ever increasing interest although he wasn't much help at any time.

"Then I tackled the yard. I just have a passion for bringing order out of chaos, and the days just flew by. I was so occupied I forgot my old home and its comforts. I even overcame my dislike of taking my bath in a large tin tub, (There was no bath room until years later) and my hatred of George's old lop-eared hunting dog, always under foot; always dirty. I conquered everything in sight except George. In all our married life together I never really succeeded in making him look neat. He loved his old work clothes, his perfectly filthy pipes and that old dog. He could in no time reduce a nice straight room to an upset one, with his easy way of mending and pottering with things in the house instead of the work shed or the barn. I'd work so hard and then be embarrassed to have company come in and find both Jim and the house looking so awful. But, like most women, if they are sensible as well as wise, I grew to care less about the looks of things and more about Jim and his comfort.

"I'll always remember the day an old friend of mother's from down east came to call and of how she lifted her skirts carefully as she crossed the bare floor of the living room to keep them from getting dusty. I cried, I was so angry and hurt. I know now my little sitting room must have looked terrible to her, and then at the beginning of our second year of married life, the first baby came. The months before were filled with doubts and fears. I hadn't realized at first how far away Boston and my people were. But I did, when I knew the baby was coming. I remember helping George get ready to go to a wedding. I had planned to go too, but then the time came I just felt too miserable. I found George's clothes for him and coming up the steps with hot water for him to use for shaving I stumbled; there was a queer sharp pain that startled me. I didn't mention it however.

"Long after George had gone I stood at the window looking out into the still starlit sky. I thought about home and mother. I fought back the nervous homesick tears; I just wouldn't be a coward!

"That's the only night I can ever remember thinking our home was large; as the minutes went by it grew to greater and greater proportions. I felt lost, weary; courage failed me and I fell sobbing into bed, homesick and frightened.

"Next morning I just couldn't get up. Waves of agony rolled over me, George ran for the Doctor and old Mrs. Thompson who greeted me cheerfully upon her arrival with, 'Howdy, have ye taken any ile yet?' She was a strong forbidding looking woman whose thoughts were much more upon the misery she had in her jaw than comforting me.

"The arrival of Nadine later in the day is still vague in my mind, visions of old Mrs. Thompson and the kind-hearted Doctor are all confused. I went off into a strange world after a few whiffs of life saving chloroform where everything got all mixed up with queer looking people and sounds like a dog moaning and the faint cry of a baby. And then blackness, deep and awful.

"Out of this I came and looked up into the distressed eyes of George. I managed to smile and he promptly began to weep, his face all puckered up in the most ridiculous way.

I thought of course something awful had happened as old Mrs. Thompson came in with the baby. She took one disgusted look at George. 'You git,' she said. This ain't no place er time fur ye to be a bawlin'. He got.
Just the touch of that little form which I sheltered so naturally with my bare arm seemed to give me a new kinship with the world; my heart sang and I felt glorified. "Drawing her close to my side I drifted off into a deep contented sleep.

"My first sick bed tray was truly a masterpiece of country art. Mrs. Thompson appeared with a large tin waiter, (kicking the door of my room open as she came). It was unadorned by napery. A saucer contained sugar, still another butter, a huge slab of it; a blue bowl was filled to over-flowing with greyish oatmeal, a cup with no handle held strong black tea, and warm milk still remained in the saucepan in which it was heated. I made up my mind right then and there to make short with my convalescence.

"When our next baby was coming I decided I wouldn't have old Mrs. Thompson there nor a n**** woman either. As it so happened George had only time to get the Doctor and it was George who held the lamp as the Doctor worked to bring our second daughter into the world. He brought still stranger trays of nourishment.

"Baby Edith never thrived, her frail doll-like face and body frightened me. We did everything, tried everything to prolong her life, but she slipped away at the end of the fourth month.

"So much care, so many sleepless nights and busy days took its toll. I was weak and tried, The kind old Doctor said 'No more babies for a while Mrs. Morton.' His good advice fell on deaf ears. I wanted more babies; I loved them so. It wasn't long before another one was on the way. Contrary to what we expected her advent into the world was normal and uneventful.

"Hilda was a tiny baby. Everyone said I would never raise her, but I did. She is married now and has a nice family of her own; all such bright healthy children, too.

"Then several years later I lost my boy. People said I just didn't know how to care for them, who can tell, I did my best. The Doctor advised this and that, I changed diets and wept over my poor little babies. I tried so hard to be a good wise mother, to make them live.

"And now, the two daughters are gone their separate ways, both are happily married. Nadine came home when her father died but not in time to be of much help to me. I used to sit by George and strive to comfort him, he seemed like a little child too, so frightened and suffering so. He was afraid when the end came he would suffocate to death. It was cancer of the throat you know, but he died peacefully, thank God.

"So few people really understand their neighbors. No one thought Jim was especially good to me (they just didn't know) or that he provided as he should for us, and yet I look back over all those years, even the awfully lean ones, and I'm not sorry I married George. I've sold the land which he had bought with an eye to future advancement in price. I've had good profits from the pecan grove he planted and each year I sell a good many crepe myrtles and other shrubs, while the holly trees he tended so carefully yield a good revenue when we harvest the branches at holiday time. Life was hard at times but I've never come to want. George looked far enough ahead for that. I only started the Post Office because I was lonely after George died and needed some definite work to do. It wasn't because he didn't leave me enough. The work brings me in daily contact with people and makes the days go by faster that's all.

"Do come again while the Sweet Olive is blooming. I love to share it with you."
From American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers’ Project, 1936-1940, which  includes life histories compiled and transcribed by the staff of the Folklore Project of the Federal Writers' Project for the U.S. Works Progress (later Work Projects) Administration (WPA) from 1936-1940. The Library of Congress collection includes 2,900 documents representing the work of over 300 writers from 24 states. Typically 2,000-15,000 words in length, the documents consist of drafts and revisions, varying in form from narrative to dialogue to report to case history. The histories describe the informant's family education, income, occupation, political views, religion and mores, medical needs, diet and miscellaneous observations.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Mrs. L.A. Ligon Is Teacher of the Year, Granville County

From the editorial page of The Oxford Public Ledger
Had nominations been acceptable from the entire state, it is unlikely that a more worthy candidate for Teacher of the Year honor in Oxford and Granville County could have been revealed than is found in the person of Mrs. L.A. Ligon of John Nichols School.
Mrs. Lignon richly deserves the honor and the attendant recognition. In 33 years of teaching, the entire time at the Oxford Orphanage, she has touched the lives of considerably more than 500 in graduated classes and a far greater number in her other school duties.
With a faint smile and a tinkle of appreciation in her eye, and characteristic modesty, Mrs. Lignon undoubtedly would insist that it was her “good students” which had crowned her teaching efforts. But those who have had the good fortune to know Mrs. Ligon as teacher are aware that her interest in her profession, her keen sense of devotion to duty, her willingness to sacrifice time and personal pleasure to help boys and girls in her school with their scholastic problems and with their extra-curricular undertakings have earned for her respect and everlasting gratitude.
In her teachings and in her learning, altruism has been her ideal. She has been a steadying influence upon less experienced teaching contemporaries and an inspiration to her students.
We join the Womans’ Clubs in their salute to Mrs. Ligon as Teacher of the Year. The honor is well deserved and splendidly placed.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Funding Public Education in North Carolina During the Depression, 1937

Steady progress in the 20th century, as evidenced by increased expenditures, better trained teachers, longer school terms, rural consolidation, and other improvements, continued until the economic depression of the early 1930s.
State appropriations for the public schools in North Carolina were not reduced between 1931 and 1933 despite the fact that collections of State revenue during this period fell $22,000,000 below the budget estimates and county, city, and town revenue collections decreased in almost the same proportion….
By January 1933, however, it became apparent that, though State aid for the schools should continue undiminished or even be increased, many schools would be forced to close as a result of the inability of counties, cities, and towns to collect the school taxes levied on property. The general assembly therefore enacted a law providing a statewide eight-months school term as the minimum for rural as well as city schools, and decreed that this term should be entirely supported from State revenues derived solely from indirect taxes. It then appropriated the amount needed to operate all the schools for the ensuing two years, thereby removing all taxes on property for school operating costs. The administrative units had to continue to provide for debt service, to provide the school buildings and equip them. Under the law, any unit that so desired could, by a vote of the people, levy supplementary school taxes on property to provide a ninth month, employ additional teachers, or supplement the State salary schedule. In order to provide the appropriation of $16,000,000 a year for the maintenance of the eight-months school term, other State appropriations were drastically cut. The property tax load of the various subdivisions was reduced to the extent of about $20,000,000 a year.
North Carolina is one of only two States with a State-supported and State-administered uniform school system, the other being the State of Delaware. Unusual economies in the cost of administration and operation have been brought about without any material sacrifice in teaching service. There has been a steady increase in the training and certification of teachers.
There are more than 24,000 teachers in the State school system, whose salaries aggregate more than $20,000,000 a year. Some 74 percent of the more than 17,000 white teachers and 43 percent of the 7,000 or more Negro teachers are college graduates and hold Grade A certificates. In 1922 only 17 percent of the white teachers and 3 percent of the Negro teachers were college graduates. ….
North Carolina transports more children to and from school every day than any other State in the United States. For 160 days of each year, a fleet of 4,200 buses transports 306,000 school children at a cost of $7.42 per child per year—the lowest net cost in the nation. These 4,200 school buses travel an average of 150,000 miles a day over some 35,000 miles of state and county highways.
Some one-room schoolhouses are still left in the state, especially in the mountains, where consolidation is difficult because of geographical conditions as well as bad weather during the winter months. …. Vocational education is stressed in the consolidated schools. Home economics and agriculture courses are offered in most of the rural high schools, virtually all of which are consolidated schools.
Approximately 830,000 children are (1939) enrolled in the public school system of which 665,000 are in the elementary grades and 165,000 in the high schools. The largest school for Indian children in North Carolina is at Cherokee, where 289 boarding and day students are enrolled. More than 200 Indian children attend day schools at Big Cove, Birdtown, Snowbird, and Soco.
There are 918 high schools in North Carolina, of which 733 are for white children and 185 for Negroes. Approximately 135,000 are enrolled in the high schools for white children and about 30,000 in high schools for Negroes. Marked progress has been made in the schools for Negroes, especially in the high schools. Negroes comprise 29.73 percent of the total school population in North Carolina.
The University of North Carolina, consisting of the university at Chapel Hill (3,500), the agricultural and engineering college at Raleigh (2,215) and the woman’s college at Greensboro (1,697), has a significant place in the cultural life of the South. State-supported institutions include also East Carolina Teachers College at Greenville, the Western Carolina Teachers College at Cullowhee, and three other standard normal schools for white students; the North Carolina Agricultural and Technical College at Greensboro and four standard normal schools for Negroes; and the Cherokee Indian Normal School at Pembroke in Robeson County.
And Before the Depression
Many private academies had been established in the State by the middle of the 19th century. Even in the latter part of the century, it was commonly believed that the constitutional provision for schools could best be fulfilled by subsidizing the academies. This idea slowly gave way to the belief in publicly supported schools for all people.

On the night of April 4, 1912, a large audience had gathered in Birmingham, Alabama, to hear Charles B. Aycock, former Governor of North Carolina and widely known as the “educational governor.” The subject of Aycock’s speech was “Universal Education.” After he had talked for a few minutes, amidst enthusiastic applause, Aycock spoke the words: “I always talked about education--.” Here he stopped, threw up his hands, reeled backward, and fell dead.
This dramatic event was the climax of a long and fruitful effort on behalf of public schools. In the 10 years following Aycock’s term as Governor, public school expenditures and property values in North Carolina increased threefold, the average salary of teachers was increased 50 percent, 3,500 more teachers were employed, and 3,000 additional schools were opened for use.
Much of the credit for this development belongs to Aycock. But he had in his time the support of Edwin A. Alderman, James Y. Joyner, Charles D. McIver, and other able educators….
North Carolina wrote into its first constitution its intention of having a public school system and one or more centers of higher learning. A bill for the establishment of free schools was introduced in the Colonial assembly as early as 1749 and again in 1752, but was defeated. In 1754 money was appropriated for building and endowing a school, but the money was diverted to other uses.
Milestones in the State’s educational progress were Archibald D. Murphey’s report to the legislature in 1817; the establishment of the “literary fund” in 1825; the passage of a public school law in 1839; the work of Calvin H. Wiley, first State Superintendent of Schools (1853-65); the statewide canvass by Charles D. McIver and Edwin A. Alderman as institute conductors in 1890-1903; and the gubernatorial campaign of Charles B. Aycock in 1900.
From North Carolina: a guide to the Old North State, a Federal Writers’ Project book, published in 1937 by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The book is available online at:

Driving, Fishing, and Liquor Regulations, 1937

Motor Vehicle Laws (digest): Unlawful to drive at speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under conditions then existing, and speed greater than the following limits is prima facie evidence of unlawful driving: 20 mph in a business district; 25 mph in any residential district; elsewhere, 45 mph for passenger vehicles, 35 mph for trucks, and 30 mph for trucks or tractors with trailers. Local and temporary exceptions are indicted by signs. Traffic in cities and towns is regulated by local ordinance.
National uniform code applies for operation of motorcars on state highways. Comity rule prevails for operation of cars carrying licenses obtained outside of North Carolina, every holder of an out-of-state license receives the same courtesy that the state issuing the license grants to the holder of a North Carolina license. Drivers’ licenses are required. A person who engages in any gainful employment or who establishes a residence in North Carolina must procure license for all vehicles registered in his or her name at the time of employment is accepted or residence established. Minimum age 16 years if application is signed by parent or guardian, otherwise 18. Hand signals must be used; spotlights are permitted; accidents must be reported to some civil authority.
Prohibited: Coasting in neutral, parking on highways, use of stickers on windshields or windows, passing school bus when loading or unloading.
Fishing Licenses: Issued by clerks of the superior courts and various other persons. Nonresident, $5.10; nonresident daily permit, $1.10; state resident, $2.10; state resident daily permit, $.60; county resident, $1.10. License requirements extend to both sexes above the age of 16. Licenses are not required to fish in Atlantic Ocean, the sounds, or other large bodies of water near the seacoast which do not need to be stocked or protected (inquire locally). Landowners and minor members of their families may fish on their own lands without licenses. For size and bag limits see state hunting and fishing laws.
Liquor Regulations: Several of the counties have established package liquor stores under county option. Except in a few localities it is lawful to sell beer and ale not exceeding 5% alcoholic content by weight, and both natural and fortified wine, the latter not exceeding 24% alcoholic content by volume.
From North Carolina: a guide to the Old North State, a Federal Writers’ Project book published by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1937. The Federal Writers’ Project of North Carolina was started in October 1935 in Asheville. District offices were established later in seven other cities of the state. The book is online at:

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Mrs. Edison Davenport of Mackeys, N.C., writes about her rural home, 1952

The following essay by Extension Homemaker Mrs. Edison Davenport of Mackeys, N.C. (Washington County), who won third place in the state in the A.C.W.W. essay competition “The Rural Home.”

“Suitsme! What a clever name for your place!” My neighbor left off hanging out clothes and came to the fence to look at the little sign Joe Polack had just hung.
“Guess people’ll think it doesn’t take much to suit me, if this does,” I laughed. My glance took in the white frame cottage with green blinds, the newly mowed lawn and the riot of red roses on fence and trellis.
Joe Polack gave me a queer look as he straightened up from picking up the hammer he’d dropped. Instantly I was ashamed, ashamed that I had spoken so lightly of the much I had when he and his sad-eyed wife had so little. His name was not really Joe Polack, but some unpronounceable Polish one. We village folks had dubbed him Joe Polack when Father William installed him and his family of five in the humble little house at the edge of the village.
“I had a good little house too back home in Poland,” Joe said in his funny, broken English. “And a good business making shoes before….” He left the sentence unfinished and that haunted look came into his eyes. It was always there when he spoke of the horrors of that time. He turned abruptly and went around the house to finish mowing the grass.
My neighbor when back to her clothes line, but I stood where they’d left me looking at the new sign. It lacks a lot of suiting me, I thought. What woman is ever completely satisfied with her home! I tried to excuse myself for my light remark about my adequate little home. I still have plans and dreams for it, but if those dreams never materialize, it is comfortable, fairly attractive and full of priceless memories.
My thoughts went back 25 years to the way it looked when we moved in, a bleak January day in the middle of the depression. Like Joe, we had a much more pretentious house in those pre-depression days and my husband had a good mercantile business in a thriving little Carolina home. But both house and business where swept away in the debacle of 1929 and we were back where we’d started 10 years before with the exception of our three growing children and our dreams for them.
Like Joe and his family of five, we, too, were displaced persons. Even so, we were much more fortunate than Joe. We had somewhere to go, back to the old homestead where my husband’s people had lived for generations. We were fortunate in securing work, my husband with a wholesale concern and I a position as teacher in the consolidated village school.
“The house is large enough for all of us,” my husband’s mother said generously and then giving me a bright, keen look added laughingly, “but Mary will agree with me when I say ‘Not even in those mansions on the heavenly plan can two women live happily who love the same man.’”
How wise and understanding she was! I gave her a squeeze and contributed my bit of nonsense, “For while on their golden harps they sing and play, their words and wings and music get in each other’s way.”
The very satisfactory outcome of our poetic little spasm was that we were to have our choice of one of the tenant houses on the farm.
And so not long after a truck filled with all our worldly belongings backed up to the narrow front porch of the weatherbeaten little five room house and we moved in, grateful for shelter, warmth and privacy.
The years that followed are full of memories of good times and bad, of struggles with the frozen pump on the wind-swept back porch, wood stoves and ashes, kerosene lamps, out-door toilets, flies and mosquitoes, ice men who forgot to bring ice, weeds and bare, hard-swept yards.
Before the end of the first summer there came a day of celebration when my husband and small son finished screening the windows and the porches. We celebrated by throwing away the smudge can and having lemon ade and cookies on the insectless front porch.
There was plenty of wood on the farm and the faithful old Wilson heaters kept us warm, while the kerosene lamps did their bit to dispel the gloom as we hovered under them on winter evenings to read and study. The following Christmas an Aladin mantle lamp replaced the three glass lamps on the living room table and scattered us about the room to more comfortable reading distances.
By the next summer the weeds had disappeared from the yard, but only a few venturesome sprigs of grass dared to peep through the hard-packed earth, mindful of their losing battle against former vigorously plied yard brooms. The view from under the high front porch of the wash pot and wood pile in the back yard was not inspiring, to say the least, and the unobstructed view of the sagging, dejected looking out-door toilet didn’t improve the scenery.
That spring I joined the local Home Demonstration Club and attended the spring federation meeting. The speaker took her text on underpinning and screening with native shrubs. I could scarcely wait to get back home to raid the woods for gall berry, myrtle, dogwood and redbud to set out to hide the view, but was far too impatient to wait for them to grow.
I talked underpinnings incessantly and soon made a convert of my husband who sent the local handy man up to take the necessary measurements. It wasn’t long before neat green lattice work shut off the view of wash pot and wood pile and a high lattice fence between the front and back yard served the same purpose for the not-so-decorative toilet.
By the next spring, I was an enthusiastic home demonstration member and even had the audacity to enter my yard in the yard beautification contest. I saw no reason why my few springs of grass and punny shrubs shouldn’t be judged beautiful. They were beautiful to me. The judges went around the yard, taking notes and making suggestions. Finally they stopped at my special pride and joy, a newly planted climbing rose. Looking from the wee bus to the towering trellis above, one of the judges remarked dryly, “We’ll have to give you credit for optimism, Mrs. Davenport.”
Optimism and youth were about all we had in those years, but they paid off in rich dividends of happiness, family cooperation and an ever growing pride in our little home.
Painting the house the next fall was a family affair with my husband doing most of the work and the children and I displaying more energy and enthusiasm than skill as house painters. By Christmas the inside as well as the outside was pick and span with new paint, and we felt that the Ultima Thule of good things had been reached when Santa brought the family a battery radio set.
That was the winter I tried cooking by long distance and discovered that even water can’t be boiled successfully while listening to Kate Smith bring the moon over the mountain four rooms removed from the kitchen stove. Despite the burned biscuits, overcooked vegetables and overdone meats, it was a grand experience, and our living room was often filled with friends and neighbors.
The children were in high school now and the radio was an attraction for the young people who invariably trooped out to the kitchen sometime during the course of the evening for a raid on the ice box or to make a pan of chocolate fudge. This custom finally brought on a domestic upheaval joked about in the family to this day and energetically engineered by myself at the time.
That particular evening my husband and I left the living room up to the young people and and settled ourselves in bed with books and papers for the dual purpose of improving our minds and keeping from freezing. The arrangement of the house was not conducive to privacy with one room, then the living room, across a narrow hall, and the other four rooms in a long ell opening into one another and out to the back porch. Ordinarily the young people made their raids on the kitchen via the long back porch, but that night they chose to avoid the cold outside by going through the house. My husband and I gave vehement, but muffled protest from underneath the blankets over our heads, but to no avail. When they were all back in the living room one more we came out from under cover and I vowed that I would make some arrangements for more privacy the very next day.
When my husband came home the next evening I had literally turned the house front side back. He found himself sleeping where the kitchen had been, with walls and ceiling a little begreased, it is true, but heavenly private. The girls’ bedroom across the hall where the living room had been was private too, and Bill drew the semi-privacy of the studio couch in the dining room.
“But this was the kitchen!” my dear bewildered family kept saying. “Whoever heard of sleeping in the kitchen!” After such unorthodox doings my husband and children concluded that they never need by surprised at anything I did.
Soon the sound of hammering was heard from our small house far into the night and beneath the blows the walls between the living room and hall, like the walls of Jerico, came tumbling down. When the debris was cleared away we found ourselves with a nice, big living room 22 by 15 feet, opening into a 15 by 15-foot dining room. Dusty pink walls, built-in book shelves, a mulberry rug with blue and mulberry draperies worked a transformation and the coming of the power line with the installation of electric lights made the metamorphasis complete for the time being.
The next years were full of getting the children through college and two of them married. We had scarcely gotten accustomed to being grandpa and grandma before World War II was upon us and our son left his little family to enlist with Uncle Sam and our youngest daughter joined the Marines.
I tried to take our son’s place in the store, but despite my assiduous efforts, the proverbial bull in the China shop had nothing on me in a hardware store. When the war was over and our son was back, my husband succumbed to a nervous break down from the strain of trying to make a hardware saleswoman out of me.
“It would be much more sensible of you folks would move to town where your business is,” our friends often said to us during those difficult war years of driving under gas rationing. We admitted they were right and even bought a lot in town and consulted an architect about plans for a house, ironically deciding upon a four bed room house with a recreation room in the basement now that our children were grown and we no longer needed it.
While we debated and discussed the matter of building one year slid into another and we found ourselves making changes and improvements in our little home with the view to renting it, if and when we built in town. We made a bath room at the end of the back porch and closed in the rest of the porch as a utility room. The much ridiculed kitchen bedroom still remains the bed room, conveniently opening into the bath and boasting a big closet, new floor and new walls painted a soft grey with yellow curtains and bed spread. It is here with the sun streaming in through the south window on winter mornings that I read and write and spent many a contented hour with no need for long distance cooking, as it joins the kitchen.
The kitchen, too, has undergone a face lifting with new walls and floors, electric stove, cabinets, refrigerator and automatic washing machine forming a U with the double sink unit occupying the end under the two south windows that overlook my favorite corner of the lawn. Across the room under two large windows, giving cross ventilation, is the breakfast nook looking out upon trees and shrubs which fully justified the optimism of those first years.
Prodded by the children to come to town where they are all living, we revive our building discussion at intervals, but always wind up by laying the plans away while my husband says, “In another year or two perhaps we’ll build. Now is not a good time.”
“By then,” I usually add, “the trees and shrubs on our lot will be much larger. I just can’t bear the idea of a brand new house with no shade.” But both of us know we’re not deluding ourselves nor each other: we really have no desire for a new house; our hearts are too deeply rooted here. Here I stand reminiscing! The new name came suddenly into focus.
The children and grandchildren, all 16 of them, were coming for supper to celebrate the installation of our new television set. There was the asparagus to cut and the strawberries to pick. No time to be sentimentalizing! Suitsme! Not a bad name at all! The new sign was a little obscured by the mist in my eyes.
“All through, Mrs. Davenport!” Joe Polack came around the corner and saw me standing where he’d left me still looking at the name plate.
“It’s good,” he said, his eyes too resting upon the name.
“Very good, Joe,” I replied. “And there’s no reason why you couldn’t have one just as good some day.”
“Sure!” Joe flashed me a white toothed smile as he jingled the money I gave him in his pocket. “America is a good country.”
“Suitsme!” I said laughingly over my shoulder as I hurried into the house.
This essay is located in The Special Collections Research Center at D. H. Hill Library, N.C. State University, Raleigh, N.C. Special Collections holds research and primary resource materials, especially from organizations, units, departments and individuals throughout N.C. State University.