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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida
INTERVIEWER: Lew Barton
INTERVIEWEE: Mary T. Barton pwh
DATE: October 1, 1976
B: October 1, 1975. I am Lew Barton interviewing for the University of
Florida's History Department's American Indian Oral History Program.
Tonight I am in my apartment, at 14 South Anne Street, in Baltimore,
Maryland, and with me isilovely young lady who has kindly consented
to give me an interview. Ma'am would you please tell us what your
M: My name is Mary T. Barton.
B: Mary T. Barton. Who were you before you became a Barton? Are you
Mrs., or Miss, or Ms.?
B: Uh, huh.
M: I'm Mrs., Mrs. Barton.
B: Uh, where were you born?
M: Well, I was born in Robeson County, near MacDonald, that's close...
B: Robeson County, North Carolina?
M: Uh,huh, North Carolina. That's close to the South Carolina line,
as best I understand it. MacDonald, North Carolina.
B: Are you a Lumbee Indian?
M: Yes I am.
B: Are you proud of that?
M: Very proud.
B: Would you tell us something about your family?
B: Your brothers and sisters, your mother and father...
M: Yes, my father's deceased, my mother is a lovely lady. She will be
eighty years old her next birthday. She was the other of five
children. Three girls, and two boys, of whom I'm the oldest of the
B: And how old is that, or should I ask?
M: No, you should never ask a lady her age! You'll never get a true
B: I'm afraid. Could you tell your mother's name, and your sisters
M: Yes, but before that, I'll tell you this: I'm two years older than
you, so you should know by that.
M: Now would you ask me that question again please?
B: I think I'll just rephrase that age question, and ask you what year
were born, because already you've trapped me into revealing my age.
M: All right, you just give your age, and then add two to that.
B: Well, I was born June 4, 1918.
M: I was born 1916, June 10.
M: 'Both Gemini.
B: We're both Junebugs then, aren't we?
B: And both Geminis, how about that? Live and learn. You were going to tell
me something about your mother and your faster, and your sisters, and your
M: Well, my mother's name before, my mother's name is Mrs. Libby Worrinx.
B: That's W..O..R..R..I..N..X..
M: Uh,huh. And my father's name was Willie Worrinx, and one sister jfes
deceased, and one sister now living, and two brothers, both living.
B: Uh,huh. Would you tell us your sister's name fm your brothers'?
M: Yes, Mrs. Bernice Stone, and her satadt s named Leon Stone.
And my oldest brother is Tracy Werrinx, and my youngest brother,
he's the baby of all, his name is Elias Worrinx. E..L..I..A..S..
B: And where do they live?
M: They live in Robeson County, North Carolina.
B: I see.
M: My sister lived in Maryland, Kinsington, Maryland, until her husband
was retired from the army, and then he had a stroke, and of course,
that meant that they retired early, and so they moved back to North
Carolina, she had three children, and they are in Maryland. They have
lived here all their lives.
B: What do you do? Are you a professional lady?
M: Well, I should think so. I was at one time. I retired for health reasons,
not age, and when I feel like that I can help, of course, I work down
at the American Indian Center, volunteer wek of course. And I enjoy
it very much.
B: What did you do when you were active, full time?
,M: I was a schoolteacher. I worked in the elementary department. I enjoyed
that very much. I worked for twenty years, and during that time I
had, I stopped for a while, I think I worked ten years, and then I
came to Washington, D.C., and I worked there, I worked for National
Geographic Magazine, and that was very interesting work. And then
I worked fo _Federal Savings and Loan Bank
not too far from the White House. I was loan manager, assistant
manager, and I enjoyed that.
B: You weren't one of those people who cash checks?
M: No, that's hard work, standing on your feet all day. I had a job
that I could sit down quite frequently.
B: You was assistant to the loan....
M: The loan officer, uh, huh. And I enjoyed that very much. But in the back
of my mind, I knew that I needed to go back to the classroom. I needed
a few more hours before long, getting my A certificate. Completing
fO(A Mi.gh+ Sah .
college, gnd3li ely so, I wasn't really happy until I went back and
finished, and then I taught for ten more years.And it's been a
heaven since, because having to retire early as a result of two
heart attacks, I jget a nice retirement check which- Im very proud
B: Uh,huh. You're awfully pretty for a lady who has had two heart attacks.
M: Oh, thank you.
B: I heard some rumors about you.
M: Like what?
B: Like you had been recently married.
M: Oh,yes, sure thing!
B: Well, who is the lucky guy?
M: Mr. Lew Barton, do you know him?
B: Yeah, I have a speaking acquaintanceship with him.
M: Oh, well, I'm telling you he's quite a guy.
B: Well, he's quite a lucky guy.
M: Well, thank you, and I work with him down at the American Indian Center.
We don't always agree, but in the end, why everything turns out okay.
B: In the end, the lady always has the last word, right?
M: Notievery time.
B: NoVjI think turnabout's fair play, and Aa.
M: Right, I agree.
B: It usually ends up pretty nicely. Now you told us about your brothers
and sisters, didn't you?
M: And my mother and father.
B: Well, I want to ask you, what do you think of the Women's Liberation
M: Well, to each his own, I think. To me, having been a mother, I think
a woman's place is in the home with her children, if at all possible.
I think it takes something away from a mother when you go out, and try
to measure up, or try to get the same job that a man will do now,
however, I have known cases where the mother, after her children were
in school, or of a certain age, she could g out and work, and I think
this is okay. And another point that I'd like to stress, I want people
T. fce| Il ;k
to know that I'm married. I enjoy being called Mrs. Barton, and...
B: And you don't particularly insist on being called Ms. ? M..S..period.
M: No, no I don't.
B: Well, thank you.
B: What do you think of all the braburning and streaking and stuff like
M: I don't even think, I don't!
B: That's pretty far out, isn't it?
M: Too far out.
B: I'm like you, I...
M: I came from the old school, I guess you might say, and to me, that's, I
don't go for that.
B: Well, as you know, in the Indian families, the man is usually, it's so
patriarchal family structure. The man is usually the head of the family.
Do you agree with that?
M: I do agree. I do. My father was always the head of the house.
B: I'm luckier than I thought. Even luckier than I thought.
M: However I think I would speak out my thought. It's something more
than just right,--or-i-f- I could encourage, but yet, I think the husband
should take the responsibility of providing, -r after all, the mother
brings a child into the world, and I think shelshould stay with that
child, try to do her best to give it the best, and I think in the
end, that child will be a better citizen,hhve love and understanding,
rather, than tracking off to the babysitters' everyday. I've known
of children who would call most anyone who took care of them during
the day their mother, and to me, that takes away a lot. I would want
my child to know that I am 4s mother, and not whoever takes care of
it all day.
B: Well, that's good. Do you go to church anywhere?
M: Yes, I do.
B: Do you go to any particular churches a ie?
M: Well, since I've been here, I have gone to a Baptist Church, a,
Cross Creek Baptist Church, I have forgotten what section of town
that's in, Several times, and then I have also gone to a Methodist
Church, and it's real-.cose by, -ad I enjoyed the services both
B: I believe/the only difference between the Methodists and Baptists
Church is that the Baptists believe in dipping you when you're
baptiszed, and immersion in..
M: And-te Methodists beI e-in sprinkling...
B: The Methodists believe that sprinkling is all right, and of course, if
you insist, the minister will dunk you anyway, at your request.
M: U1i f Sa4 baptized.
B: You know, most ministers, Methodist ministers I know, would do this.
M: Yes, um, hmm.
B: And I don't think you'd get kicked out ef a Baptist Church if you
had just been sprinkled and hadn't been immersed.
M: I would hate to think you would, but I don't know of any case that
rtC r-' ,,u/ or asked to be sprinkled rather than
baptized. You know in the churches now, the modern churches, you
have abaptismal place there for baptism, rather than the old
way, that is, with the Indian people, and I'm pretty sure it's that
way with most of the other churches, so yousit right in the church,
and you witness this part of baptism. inkrc! l /n k''i) 1
B: I never asked you this before/ what age did you profess faith?
M: I was twenty-three, when I became a Christian.
B: Twenty-three years old.There's an old saying, the whole world loves
a lover. Do you believe this is true?
B: I'm leading up to something, of course. Uh, of course, this guy you
were telling me about, your husband, your new husband, how old were
you when you met him?
M: Well, I've been married since July 3 of this year.
B: Uh,huh. But when did you first meet him?
M: Oh,my. We were both teenagers. I was in high school, and he was in
high school. That was a long time ago.
B: Do you remember what happened?
M: Of course, I do. I remember a lot.
B: I don't know if anybody else is all that interested in hearing what
happened, but I'd like to hear it, from you.
M: Well, uh,...
B: As though I don't remember.
M: I was determined to become a teacher. I came from a poor family, and
I, just nothing else would do in my life but to become a teacher. I
was not ready to be a housewife, or... and so, as a result, I think
we went our separate ways, but, and I ended up getting the wish
that I wanted so much, and then, later, getting back the same guy
that I wanted. How lucky can one be?
B: It was sort of delayed, though wasn't it?
M: Yes, it was delayed.
B: Well, that sounds nice. I believe you td me once that you remembered
what he was wearing the first time you ever saw him?
M: Oh, yes, uh, huh! He had, you know, way baek, commencement, you really
had a commencement, Now you go to class until maybe the last half-an-
hour, and you spend a little time talking or reminiscing in your
old classrooms. But back then, you had operettas, you had plays,
and I'll never forget it...School Closing -q in high school, a ball
game was scheduled in the afternoon, I think it rained everytime.
But I saw you at your school, which was about twelve miles maybe,
maybe not that far, from my school in Pembroke. You know, you lived
in the Prospect Area. A friend of mine, I said, who is that young
man? I said, gosh, he's not handsome, he's just pretty. He's so
good-looking, I want you to fix me a dtet Can you imagine that?
Back then? Now they don't think anything of it, but anyway, that's
what I said, so she did. I think she was a cousin of yours, Marjorie
Moore, and sure enough, we were having a program, I think maybe this
was the first part of the week, Ie YS5(' maybe the last part of the
week, we were having something clt)..rf' i ur (C' OpnCACI'C'. As you
remember, you'd have four or five different events. So when I saw
you you were i4 that same outfit, that...
B: That I had worn in the operetta?
B: And I was in the operetta?
M: Yes, you were in the operetta. Ur, hmm. Goshq.yere you handsome,
beautiful, not handsome, but just downright pretty! Beautiful
black hair, and oh, that complexion, and that smile, and you
were wearing white pants and a black coat.
B: A white coat?
M: White pants, and a black coat.
B: A black coat.
M: Um,hmm. And a white shirt and a little black tie. Oh, white shoes.
I'll never forget it. And yoralked me home that night.
B: And of course, you didn't live too far away. ,
M: No, no. Maybe three or four blocks from the school I was in
seventh heaven I thought. d0t
B: Do you mind telling what year that was)? Or do you remember the exact
M: Yes, I do. Thatnas in 1934. I was finishing.
M: I was finishing high school. You were uh, maybe tenth grade or something
B: And do you remember that we were all very poor, and we had, during my
teen years, there weren't very many cars around, and we didn't have
one. What happened to our family car is that in the Great Depression
came, and my father parked it, and you know, like a lot of other people
many people made Hoover Buggies,
M: Hoover Carts.
B: Hoover Carts out of the back parts of theireaf, anyway, so we didn't
have a car, but my cousingLouis Dial di4, so I would ride along
with him, whenfe was going, and when he had a girl..................
as I was saying bef-re I was so rudely irterrupted by the tape running
out...I had totalk, when I couldn't get to see you, or when I would
ride to town with my cousin, we'd miss the connections, and sometimes
I'd have to walk back to Prospect, which was about four miles.
M: Yes, uh,huh.
B: And I had to pass ...
M: St. Anna.
B: St. Anna Church, which had a big graveyard there, and it was the
lonesomest looking place I've ever seen in my life, and I'll tell
you the truth, when I came throih there, was, I had a trot, I was
doing a little trot, I didn't, I'd just, I'd run that part of the
way home, but boy, I never felt good going through that graveyard.
M: I often thought about your-and St. Anna Graveyard, you know...
B: You weren'-t sitting home giggling, were you?
M: The Indians...oh no! Of course not. No, no. (Laughter)
B: So once in a while, you, you know, when you started teaching school, you
had a car, for a while. We dated.a while after you got your car. But once
in a while you'd come to pick me up, but you didn't do that very often,
because you were afraid people would criticize you and say, "Now, look
what she's dating. She shouldn't do that."
M: True. Back then young girls just didn't do that type of thing.
B: But four miles doesn't seem very long, but some..
M: Not now.
B: But sometimes I could borrow a bicycle, so I rode a bicycle to see
M: Yeah. You remember the deal about the bicycle? When you came to see
me one night with my baby brother, VItaS ?
B: And timejfor me to go home, but people usually call bedtime at 9:00,
M: I knew this.
B: And when the time came, I had lent my bicycle to your brother Elias.
B: And he hadn't returned with it, and there I was and uh, when he did
return with it...
M: You O0 f(Ac- frcceC and he got the spanking of his life, I think.
B: Yeah, I think your mother really spanked him. But I hated that, I
hated seeing him get spanked.
M: He said, "She tore me up!" meaning, he really did get a lashing.
He didn't bother anyone else's bicycle.
B: I doubt if Elias can really love me today on account of that. You know
that was just about a traumatic experience! CLaughter)c m ind e
M: Oh, I'm sure...
B: No, he kids about it.
M: Um,hmm, that's right.
B: And he turned out to be the best auto mechanic in Pembroke.
M: Yes, I like to think that of him.
B: And just about everybody would agree with you that knows your brother.
M: Right. He could never say no to anyone,lgoes around with a smile, and
everyone that goes to his garage they al say, "Now, Sonny," that's his
penname, "I want you to fix my car," and of course itts impossible for
him to fix all the cars, bt he tries to look over it, and see if
B: Because if he does it, they know it's done right.
M: Um,hmm. I think tat-, _. -- '
B: He was always interested in anything- mechanical, from a child,.dd i S
M: That's right. Um, hmm. He makes things at home when he was a little
B: Well, Mary T. Barton, howls yo:rnew marriage turning out?
M: Just fine. We are now getting ready to go back to North Carolina.
We are both decided about that, although I'm sum that a part of
you will still remain at the American Indian Studies Center, and
half the people's interests at heart. And enjoy working with you,
I just enjoy doing anything, just sitting around talking, I think
we have so much in common, but I'm really looking forward to our
going back to Charlotte to revise yourbook, Tc)C ftlo 5 o' /vrc/C c
and also your son, along with you, are going to get out this new
book, The Best of Lew Barton, so we really have a lot to look
forward to. To tell you the truth...
B: We're not going to be idle are we?
M: No, unh,uh. Yet I am going to see to it that you have p OrmI |0l rin houf6
all this sort of thing. And it's ja& going to be, I just feel like
that we're going to just start living again, you know.
B: That's right.
M: Because my cousin =__baby sister's there, and they have
already gotten us a nice apartment, and its detached, as most
apartments now are just one big building, you know, but uh, when
you can get something thaet detached or semi-detached, it's so
much better, you know, the noise, andT'm really looking forward
B: They already have our apartment for us, so we'll be leaving here
B: And this will be somewhere near 1200 Delaney Avenue?
M: Avenue, um,hmm, in Charlotte.
B: But it won't be that number, but it's in that neighborhood.
M: If I understand it.
B: This is where my sister Alba and her husband--
B: Shelby, whose real name is Charles, Charlie. You know, Shel was quite
famous during the Ku Klux Klan *e&gn, right?
M: Yes, uh,huh.
B: Do you remember that?
B: Where were you living at that time?
M: I was in Washington, D.C. at that time.
M: But I heard about it.
B: That he and $S;eo/) Oxendine are the two people who were credited
with leading, or discredited, as the case might have been...
M: And Si,"as we say, he lived one block away from where my mother lives,
where I grew up as a young girl, and I know him, I went to school with
his brother and his sister, who are older than him.
B: Mary, I know you have a deep concern for Indian people, Indian problems,
and Indian concern. I want to ask you something. If"you could have
your wish, and it would be granted, what would you like to see changed
about the Indian community, the Indian community at large, or the Lumbee
community, whichever. What would you like to see changed?
B: Most of all.
M: There's a great lack of unity. I wish in someway, that we had more
togetherness. If we could work closer together I think that this
would be a great accomplishment and it seems that we need a lot
more confidence, maybe in ourselves as well as other people too.
As you know, our people for a long time, have had many doubts, and
have faced many, many problems, I think today 4e much better, this
generation I think, will come along way, but if there was one thing
that I could wish for and it be granted, I would say, I would love
to see our, more love and more of working together, more concern,
This is my wish.
B: Uh,huh. Well, that's certainly a WJOr-h wish, and I certainly join
you in wishing that too. Uh, Indian people grow on your heart, dontt
they? I t'a? Sn..
B: You see so much need, and so many things that need to be done.
+,he Csancx( +eatAer/s
M: Yes, from jd u- pthatkoint, from a fueur point":of view, I do, I see
so much I wish I were able to take part in, or be able to progress,
Such as maybe A chilfLr-, ^-^ so many people more education
let's say, we have a lot of dropouts, and if you remember, in one of
your classes th last week, we were discussing with the young people
the value of education.
M: If you remember I encourage very strongly to young people to go back
+e-finish high school. If they heve finished high school, to go back
even if they have to take night classes, andinish college, because this
is it. Before long, or even now, it's hard to get a job, unless you
are a high school graduate.
B: At least that.
M: At least! And like, in the teacher role, now, it's almost, well,
it's very important that you go on and get a master's degree. Pretty
soon it's going to be demandatory. So, I stress this, and even with
the adults, I talk about this adult education program that they could
go to, and there's so much that you could take advantage of, even
though you're married, there's a chance to further your education,
by going to night classes, and just so many things that could be
done, that when were coming up, you didn't have that opportunity,
and I'm proud of it today.
M: There's nog reason for our people to not be well-educated. The only
thing they need the stimulus or the desire, and it's going to take
people like you and I and other people to push this, to try to
encourage the people. Now at the American Indian Studies Center, they
work very hard trying to help people, but uh, it seems that just so
much is taken for granted, and we should never do that.
'1-ihar6 ri), 1 nrtCA
B: 1What do you think of our young people as a whole?lAre you really proud
of our young people? Do you think they're going to t-n out all right?
M: Well, I want to think so. It's so far different than when we were coming
up, but then too, I guess, our parents, -JL W) f about the same, we
had our day too, you know, and I guess it was about the same, when we
came along, our parents felt the same as maybe we feel towards the
younger generation today.
B: And I'm just, I'm sure...
M: But I think...
B: Eaa-e we were just as naughty a i our d3
B: At least as some people may sayoeg -people are today.
M: Uh,huh. There's oneth'hing about it. I think they're outspoken, or
maybe should I say, they express themselves.
B: They -have been called the open generation.
M: Yes, whereas I didn't always do that vtm I was coming up, I just
took for granted whatever my mother siid or my teacher said, hiis h
B: There was a lot of respect for teachers in those days,
B: PitjdWAet aid w c- wcu'r-1q Q/O/n -
M: Maybe I should have
B: They were very strict, all those teachers too, did you know that?
B: Mary, do you remember a teacher who was married, a lady teacher,
a woman teacher, if she got married, she automatically lost her job,
r" Th-fw- rih+-.
1: because people were so, I don't know what to call it, but they said
no, this lady will be going to school, and be getting pregnant, even
though she was legally married.
M: Right, she just didn't stay in the clssroom.
B: But it will be giving our children a bad example.
B: Oh, gosh. I'm glad we've come a long way in that direction.
M: Oh, we have. We have.
B: And married women found it very difficult t get a job, teaching.
M: Yes, that's true, because they felt like it woad be too far out,
B: A desi of course, thee were more reasons than that.
M: Yes, uh,huh.
B: But you just didn't hire married women teachers, at one time. But we
got away from all that, I think we, began to mature, as we became
better and better educated.
M: That's right.
B: And began to develop a Southern-middle-class of professional people,
who could do some real thinking, yolknow, and who were widely read,
r; T-haf'5 ri ghf,
and so on.] Well, Mary T. Barton, it's beenruch a pleasure interviewing
you, and talking with you, and I just wish everybody could see your
face, as we talk, and you're always such a pleasant person. Just about
everybody loves you, not just Lew Barton, but just everybody I know
loves you, and uh,...
M: Thank you.
B: I'm very proud of you.
M: That's the greatest compliment I could ever receive.
B: Well, I mean it sincerely.
M: I know you do, because you're always livin up to this. I just hope
it lasts forever.
B: Right, it will. And is there anything you would like to add before
we conclude this interview?
M: Yes, I would like to say that I get the greatest satisfaction in
going with you to these lectures, and helping in my small way of
handing out materials to the groups and I really feel so, I feel that
it's so rewarding when you talk you just seem to hold everyone's
interest, and 4lf 1 +Obrktabout our people, and you never tire sbmfet
and I feel like that I've just been given a small chance
to get back to the classroom in some wayszf by helping you to get to
your lectures, and uh, maybe by adding a little something here and
there as you, as a rule, will ask me something, then I think now,
that I've been out of the classroom thee years, if I ave a second,
chance, although I never completed all that I wanted to say or do
but I see how importantly as a teacher to do everything
that you can do to enhance education of the children, and uk, I
ewo hope that I can continue to do a good job. We have been given
a lot more equipment, a lot more to work with, and this, of course
will help in many ways the classroom teacheito widen her scope and
help the children in so many ways. So I'm .ust hoping that as time
rolls on, that more and more interest will be gained and obtained
in the classroom.
B: Well, that's wonderful, dear. Those are certainly timely remarks, and
I'm sure I agree with you, as you know, as you,lwe go along, now and
her i'n Ifown he0a -
then you hear the clock ring, also on this tape you may bre- some
children in the background, and other noises, that's because of the
congested condition of city living. We have an apartment which is
just a few feet from ours.