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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida
Barton interview w/ SLW
B: ... 1973. I'm Lew Barton interviewing for the Doris Duke Foundation's
American Indian Oral History program. Tonight I'm in Pembroke,
North Carolina, in the home of Mrs. Marilyn Taylor, who is going to
give me an interview. Mrs. Taylor, would you tell us a little some-
thing about your family background, things like that. Or what-
ever you'd like to talk about. /
"1v r 1 7
T: Uh, well, I guess you'd probably want me to start a childhood r
I was an only child, but I grew up with seven cousins, all boys.
Tihej a\ ranqe the same age, just two or three years apart.
We lived in the country ... ArYuaS. North Carolina. My mother's
people were English. I'm told they came over on the Mayflower. My
father is of Cherokee descent and in the summers I would spend some
time climbing the mountains in Cherokee and in that area.
And then I came down quite late one summer to see the beautiful
white water and sand. Met a guy down there, and got married and
hadtwo kids, two boys, ...
B: Mind giving us teir ames and ages?
T: David Franklin" whom we call Frankie; Ie will be eighteen
September 3, this year. And Timothy Gene ; we call him
Timmy; he will be sixteen May 17th of this year. They're quite a
few ... are quite boys, all the way. Sorta ginger and vinegar, as
you might say. I've often said I think the good Lord knew what He
was doin' when He gave me boys. Well, having grown up with boys I
had not too much experience with girls except in school and I'm
afraid I was a tomboy so ... we kinda grew up together, my two
boys and I.
B: How old were you when you got married?
T: Well, I was at the ripe old age of fourteen years old. I guess
you might say I was an early maturer. I guess most people, or girls,
who are goin' into adulthood about this age, I think I hit this period
along somewhere between ten and eleven years old, and I was dating
boys my freshman year at school, I was dating seniors and even college
students. So ...
B: Is it true mountain 4 people mature earlier do you think?
T: I'm not sure about that altogether)as a general statement. It may be
true. They're exposed a great deal to nature, and especially
the farm life. I lived A my grandmother's some. Who ... had about
... it was something like 500 acres of land ... They'd grow cotton
up there mostly and grains until my ; grandfather died and ...
'course they had farm animals and horses and dogs and cats and you know,
they learn all about the bees and birds and things like this young
and, you're exposed to these things I'm sure ...
B: On the farm.
T: On the farm. Much sooner than if you would be in the city. And
you see them first-hand and uh, you see the miracle of birth ... A
cat giving birth to kittens, and dogs, and you look forward
to having your cow deliver a calf, and it bein' yours, and you raise
it, and, as we say, and feed it and then we sell it. And that's
your school money you know for maybe to buy school clothes for that
year. Things like this; we had projects or 4-H clubs and things ...
I remember one year I had a cotton patch; it was something' like
an acre. It was sorta a Mark Twain story of Tom Sawyer or Huckleberry
Finn. I was a tenant, but I had some sub-tenants. I rented an
acre from my grandmother but I also had to have some help so ...
This financed school for one year of clothes and things like this.
I can't ever remember when I didn't work or have money in some way
or the other. Not, not rich or anything like this; we just believed
in work and earning what you need and if you wanted something extra
you went after it. There was always an opportunity there.
B: Did you learn to ride horseback as a child or was this after you
grew up? /An.C /e&n,- ?
T: I can't remember when I first rode a horse. I was young but I've
always loved horses of all kinds, even the work horses, and the
mules. I used to fight with my cousins over who was gonna ride 'em
to the ranch because we used to have this old bathtub that the water
trickled down from the mountain and sometimes it didn't trickle quite
fast enough for the work horses to drink so we'd have to take 'em
over to the ranch and we used to fight about who was gonna ummm, you
know, water 'em and walk 'em down, you know cool 'em down before
we put 'em J= for the night.
B: Knowing you as a literary person as I do, I wonder were you very
attached to some mountain stream or something like this? What
things appealed to you in your childhood, I mean in nature besides
the mountains which were very lovely. I know you must ...
T: Well, it was ... mountains, as I said my grandmother's house was ...
she's a very inspiring person. I guess poetry became part of my life
through her. Believe it or not through the Bible. I learned it
was a very poetic work and hearing' her read and then from there she
introduced me to other forms of poetry and, and then right above her
house was a sort of a not a big mountain but a small mountain that ...
there was trees and kind of like a grove-like and we built a
treehouse there. I used to go up there and read. That was my
place of meditation, renewal, to wait out disappointment, and
sometimes to avoid getting' a whippin'--any of these things you know.
It was aplace of ... it was my haven. Sometimes I'd sleep there all
night. Can never recall ever bein' afraid as you know children now
are or because it's practical to be. And never was ... my parents or
my gandmother. By the way I didn't mention that my parents were
separated when I wasa babypnine months old, I don't remember et U r
about my father except that I met him just periodically for two
or three years o, you know, until I got grown and had
more of a stable relationship with him because he had married, re-
married and hadother children and, you know, kept
me from having a relationship as you know, a regular thing. But we
did correspond and I still see him and talk with him occasionally
and maybe once a year or so we go back up to the mountains or even
____ -l0 .__ Or sometimes I just feel the need to go
and I get in the car and ... last time ... it was last year I
guess we just, I just got in the car and thought ... it's sometlimg
of a renewal to go back up there whether it's ... to share something
that you're happy about or something you're sad about. Whatever it
is you always come away feeling' better. And if it's a problem that
needs to be ravelled out somehow you find the answer there; I can't
explain any W* except maybe that this was a conditioning that
I grew up with. e i W o KL ioP /- elsewhere*
it's just one of those places that you call yours.
B: You were an only child?
T: I was an only child with my ... between my mother who was a carpenter
and my father who was a tailor. I was the only child of this mar-
riage. 'Course my mother had nine brothers and sisters, and each of
them had two or three children, mostly boys, and we allived in
one little community like, just all coming' together across the road.
We all had ou know bicycles and we had a great big barn, 'bout a
three-story barn, and you know we played cowboys and Indians; our
weapons was corncobs. You break 'em off, and you can better believe
that that stings. This would go on for days and believe it or not,
but I don't know, we'd sneak away and get food somewhere,somebody'd
go to the house and bring back supplies. If we were ... if we were
in the heat of the battle ... the parents understood and we used to
... we slept right in the barn in the hay or wherever. And it was
really battle, it was war.
B: Did you ever lose?
T: Well, the way we played, and it was .. it was a really serious game1
was that if you ever got hi with a corncob to the point that, you
know, you had to slow down, and sometimes it would bring blood, the
sting, there's a special way that you can cut them, you know,to
where they ...you got ... you had to go over on the other side; in
other words you became a prisoner of war, and you had to fight with
them then. So you became, you know, it was kind of a back and forth
thing; you just fought, you know, until whoever called "Halt" /A-r
the one that ended up, the side that had the most soldiers, or In-
dians or cowboys or whatever it was we were playin',that was the one
that won. So we traded people back and forth kinda like checkers1y, q
B: Are there any similarities between the Cherokee and the Lumbee? You've
been ... let's see, you've been in the Lumbee community how long?
T: Well, this is ... almost five years.that I've lived here. It hasn't
taken me that long to get an education. I came down here to enter
school but I have stayed out two or three semesters due to all kind
flukes of ... well, one time I was in a automobile wreck and I had
to stay out, and A time family obligations and different things
like this. I've always thought of myself as a spiritual person,
not religious, but spiritual. I sorta view things backward. I have
my family, and my children and my family, and got them up big enough
to where they could ... the two boys you know, not be on their own
entirely but pretty much so and I went back to school. And this is
a little bit different than most people do, you know, they usually
go to school and then have their family. So now it looks as if my
oldest son and I will be going to school# maybe this summer I'll be
taking some courses perhaps.
B: Your mother is a school teacher, is she not?
T: Yes, my mother, bless her heart, she has endured, taught school for
thirty-eight years. She started out in a one-room school teaching
one-through-seven grades. I think she taught there for about three
years. And the rest of the time she has spent teaching third grade.
This isler favorite grade, and her cup of tea, so to speak. Of
course she could retire on her service of thirty-five years but she
hasn't quite hit that sixty-fifth birthday, and I believe she's gonna
keep kicking-- 'Til they throw her out maybe, you know, She's a
schoolteacher in oevery sense of the word: Traditional and modern.
B: Do you think some of your literary leanings came from her? Sure they
must have ... had some influence?
T: Perhaps. I can't remember that she ever sat down and explained any-
thing to i me. I can remember one time gIS reading book in the first
grade, "Dick and Jane" and at that time we could take our supplemental
LUM 51A 1 /
books, not only supplemental, but our be what we called
beeet- text today, and it was beee- text then. We could take
them home and study next day's lesson, and the one who read the
story without missing a word would you know get some kind of a re-
ward. And if I didn't get my reward each day I was really upset
so I tried hard and usually did. But we had to use a bookmarker
and you know they followed the words down; they don't let them do
that now; they claim it's a bad habit, and I can see why. But
something ... she was ... I asked her something and she didn't make
it clear, and I .said "you don't, you don't tell it to me like my
teacher does." So I never went to my mother for anything. I re-
member getting' a little frustrated to the point of you know losin'
my temper and getting' mad, and sayin', "You can't help me." And
she never did really help me. I was sort of a ... she said, "Well,
get it on your own." Kinda you know independent, that kinda thing.
But she kept books around I'm sure. She was influential in bein'
sure I was exposed to ... to the right kind of books or, and maybe
some of the wrong kind of books in that day anyway, as you would term
them. But there was always books, and there was always something
to read, and I can think t But I never, she never
explained anything to me really. And anyway /f she tried to it some-
how we had a clash of wills. I was sort of an independent learner.
Even from the beginning.
B: But you did learn, that's 4 G ,t nC-A
T: I did. The way that I would learn would be in solitude. I'd either go
to he treehouse, or we had ... grandmother had an upstairs porch that
out, over and I used to get ... it was screened in, and there was one
part, one panel of the screen that was broken there for one summer,
and I used to a*bR out on the roof, roof of the building, and it
was shingled (?) and sort of it was not real slanty, but you could
lay there in the sun, you know, and sometimes it seemed like you
were closer to the sky or something like this. I can remember,
I can remember getting my lessons and homework, even writing you
B: Do you get angry if somebody says you're not an Indian?
T: No, I don't angry anymore than if somebody says I'm not Irish. I
really don't know what I am exactly. I know that I'm ... my mother's
people as I said earlier came over on the Mayflower, bein' a car-
penter, and my father has Cherokee origin. He's ... I guess I took after
my mother in looks, or my mother's people. As much as the white-
ness of G skin, but I can remember there were times in school when
... as children are sometimes they ... especially since coming from a
broken home, it seemed to hit doubly hardjthough. They said, that my
father was, the word then, and not to offend anybody else, any
group was, "nigger," you know, because he was dark. And very handsome
man, he was dark and he had curly hair and ... to those that knew
B: Well, I guess you know we of the Lumbee have sort of adopted you
without any formalities, Iow do you feel, don't you feel this way?
T: Well. I feel a definite identity with the Lumbee people. So much
so trie I'm offended if ... if someone, yo1know, makes a cut or
slighting remark about them & even though I realize that we're not
perfect--we've come along way and we've got a long way to go. I can
remember that I was in one of the drugstores here in town and some-
body said, "What ijthe Lumbee Indian ever done to be proud of?" And
I saw red, you know, mad. 'Course if this had happened and you know,
LUM 51 A
I'd showed anger, when I was a child it was always "bad blood", Indian
blood coming' out you know, but I answered the person by sayin' that I
thought that the Lumbee had much to be proud of it was not a question
that you could answer immediately because there are so many things as
I said, I think about Pembroke S/ate University, when I first started here
it was Pembroke S-ate College, and it hit university status, for this I
was grateful because I realize this school started as an Indian s hool.
This is partly one of the reasons I chose to come here. I had some
.ca.nlgs from schools all over, Boone, I considered going' to
Fayetteville STate. 'Course there in Fayetteville then Jt as at that
time a great deal of racial strife as we all know wewent through, but it
didn't upset me as much as maybe some people p/lfp, But again we
make concessions for parents ^f and I did investigate the Pembroke State
University and the minute I came I knew it was the place for me. In
fac t I made a telephone call before I came and the Director of Admissions
Mr. Jason Ta i I've always been very dear person to me and one of
my favorite people, I had gotten the name I think off from the
catelog, and I said, "Mr. Lowery, Mr. Jason Lowery," and he said, J/e-Ce
qiSl !and he drew that "yes" out, and to me this was like a good omen,
you know; in other words ...
B: Did you know he was the registrar?
T: He was the Director of Admissions, that was his title then and he was
the one to tell me whether I could get into the fate or whether I
couldn't. In other words whether I could come to school or not at this
university. And I say university now, it was a college, college then.
And I was, the reason I was in ques---, ... I had such questions in my
mind about coming' here was that I was a high school dropout; I would
come in on a high school equivelancy; I did not have any high school
transcript? I had taken the SAT and passed. /7)" V" required 750,
or ... required then; I think it's 900 now. I think my score was 1175
or something like that. But even at that I was not satisfied. I had
the other people to ... I worked as credit manager ... at the Y67/T
Lumber Company in Fayetteville. And this is a very challenging job.
It's also very hard and very unpopular. In as much as you deal with de-
linquent accounts and you go knock on doors, and if people are hivin',
financial problems you try to get something' on a work-out basis. For
example if they're accustomed to payin $25 a month, but maybe they're
having' a period of sickness or slump or something' you work down to $5
a month, but you've gotta keep goin' back each month and getting' that
$5, ... or if they don't bring it in. And it's a constant follow-up
and this kind of thing. I also worked with Cape Fear Production Credit
Association for full-time for four years, and part-time off and on
for two years when I was in Fayetteville,they have WJ and this
is a ... a really fine organization. It is a co-op in as much as it's
owned ..to be able to borry money from them you have to be a farmer.
This is the first criteria. It was established in 1933 by the government
because a farmer could have all the land in a ... well, he could own
a county and he couldn't go to a bank to get credit because farming was
so unstable. This was during you know the Depression. And the govern-
ment realizing that the farmer was the backbone of the nation, really,
youknow, ... so much money or what they call stock. And over
a period of years the farmers themselves in areas have bought this stock
back from the government. And the way they do this is for every $100
that you borry, you buy one share of stock. And which is $5 a share you
see. And then this is compulsory, and then this ... if you want to
uy, what they stock stock, ou can buy in any amount.
buy, what they call, A stock, stock, you can buy in any amount.
And this comes out of the loan And so if a person wants to borry $500
you figure $575, you know to give him always. And it increases each
year. It's a paradox, you borry money and save money at the same time
you see. So when he pays it back we take, we took crop liens,
mortgage;, And in some cases loans _ "aS in trust.
I learned a great deal, I think I got my education here. A great part
of my education in the field of business. They sent me to school to
learn financial counselling, and I was forever going to workshops to
to Raleigh, to Durham, to Columbia, South Carolina, and the main job was
in Elizabethtown, and at that time I was havin' domestic difficulties and
it was necessary for me to leave Elizabethtown. And that was the reason
that I stopped working with them. But the ... they call them the PCA's
and they're all over and they are also friends of the Indian people here
in Rob4son County.-.hose that farm. I've talked to several and they know
a great deal about it. They're there to help. We had ... we have a sayin'
I say,"we", because I still feel a pa t of the ... of the organiza-
tion. I've got a "piggy-back stock you might say, ...that is, you know,
they can take so much out of your salary, $5 a week or something, or
whatever you want to, and invest in stock. This not only helps the
farmer, but it also ... it ... they have a profit, make a profit, they
pay a dividend and it just keeps you know adding a little bit here and
there. It adds up.
B: Was coming to the Lumbee community a little bit like going back home?
To your childhood ...?
T: Coming to the Lumbee community was something that I feel so much depth o
___VTiO that it's hard for me to talk about it because it it so
much like home that it's almost ... it's almost unconceivable. Even the
speech patterns here are the same as the ones that I grew up withe
Other things, like the generosity of the people* I'm not speaking'
about all people you know, but there is ... there's good Indians and
there's bad Indians, and there's good whites and bad whites, and blacks
and polka dots and in-betweens.
B: Right. Right.
T: And all this. But generally speaking .. .I have to speak generally at
this point even though I can speak specifically if necessary it is ...
ironic, it's uncanny, it's unbelievable, as I said, to ... that the
similarities between the people here and the people that I know and
grew up as I was growing' up, that I knew in Cherokee. And these
people would come down and stay with my, my grandmother and they were
with her the last days that she lived. She had tenants and people around
she'd ask for these people and they nursed her and things like that even
... She trusted me a little bit more than her family. You know, a
person in sickness, particular, she was well into her eighties, and uh
she felt perhaps that she was a burden to the, to her children, you know.
And, except to me, she, she was a diabetic, and uh, I can remember even
when I had to get up on a chair almost to give her shots. But no one
else volunteered o do it and the doctor was there one day and ... it
was Drk J, I'm not sure he's still living, he's also an Indian, and
a very, I remember him as being a very handsome guy. Dark-skinned with
blue eyes, and this is a very rare combination, you know. You don't
always see it. And he had a mustache. And he always called me "Marilyn
Ann", which is my name, you know, middle name. But he said something
about I always watched him, everything he did to my grandmother as he, as
he came in, what he did with his, yo know, his I wanted to listen
to his stethoscope and all this, you know. And since he delivered me
into the world I guess he was,you know, kinda appeasing me a little
bit. But he said something about, ummm, "your grandmother needs shot,
needs a shot, I'm gonna give: her a shot," you know. And I said,
"Will you come every day to do that?" And he said, "We cant get any-
one ..." I said, "Well, I can do it." And uh, we had a bowl of fruit
there with some oranges, so he showed me how to use a hypodermic needle
and shoot an orange. And the nest couple of days he came back and he
let me give the shots. And my grandmother trusted me and these, the
people that would come down that helped on the farm and helped \f you
know. She wouldn't accept food, she became you know a little bit
cynical, her mind would come and go, you know. Bein' a dabetic she was
.... hardening of arteries, and heart trouble and different things, you
know. One worked against the othe. If you could doctor one thing,
it, it would ... it was sort of a vicous cycle. So all you could do
was just to try to make her as comfortable as possible, This, this
didn't last ... I guess about a year and a half. And when this happened,
when my grandmother died, this is when I came down to "A4/ 'i
when was fourteen, when I came down (?) I was not quite fourteen at the
time. But my grandmother, I talk about her a great deal because she
was a great influence on my life. She was a remarkable woman. I don't
know how to describe her. She's very queenie, but at the same time very
down-to-earth. She's a most ... she had great wisdom. I always
thought she was the wisest woman I ever knew. I still do. And her an-
swers were/so simple that you know that someone could overlook them.
And many of her answers came from the Bible. I, I recall waking up
maybe in the middle of the night and along toward the last of evl t l
when she was bed-ridden, we got my Bible that was .. her sight was
failing, but uh .... It was a great big, huge thing, almost as big as ...
as, you know, a dictionary that you see in colleges where they have
'em spread out on a stand, you know. But it was also written very,
very bold where she could read it, and umm, too, I learned to read
to her. She'd read all into the night and then daylight came she'd
turn the light off and she'd sleep in the daytime. It sort of in
summertime this became the pattern of my life, too. And many time I'd
read too; I'd read to her and then I'd read, you know, things that
appealed to. me.
B: Do you work better at night?
T: Yes, I've often said that I was ... again backward, by most peoples'
B: I don't think it's backwards at all.
T: I say, no, but I mean, backward by most people, you know, day people
standards in the sense that I had my children young and then went to school,
when I was an older student, and again I like to sleep, I love to sleep in
the daytime, and I like to stay awake all night, and I do work better
at night. This is ... unfortunately you can't work in a world where there's
a ... the people are day people. You have to sorta adjust back and forth
and uh, it gets kinda hard sometimes, but I fund it harder when I was
havin' to go to classes ... regular "classes in school, but most
particularly when I was doin' my student teaching because you had to be
alert. In class you could sorta you know sleep through, or hedge it
out sometime. But on the student teaching we had to be alert and you had
to stay about which I was working it was about 150 fourth-grade children,
and the reason that number they, they changed classes just as they do in
high school. And we had to stay at least four steps ahead of 'em, which
was ... there's all that many and they've got time to think---alot more
time to think than you have and they're outhinking you. So the mistake
is, for the teacher is don't ever try to outthink a child, you know.
'Cause they're master psychologists.
B: Uh, huh.
T: ... true, there.
B: Do you know what made you decide you wanted to teach?
T: Well, ...
B: You have done some teaching, haven't youl
T: Yes. my children were small, and this friend in / was secretary of
the Elizabethtown High School, and it was necessary for her to work; her
husband had ... he was a timber man, saw timber, cut timber, this
kind of thing. He had had a accident and crushed his leg and he had to be
out of work for some time. So it was necessary for her ... for her to work
for income and as things happen sometimes like this she became preg-
nant and to secure her job, I filled in for her with the understanding
that as soon as she was able you know, had the baby, she'd come back.
I had done work like this before, I'd always been around schools and I'd
kept books for my mother. I recall doing this--she'd always throw the
money at me and I'd have to roll the nickels you know for the ice cream
and the lunch money and things like this, and the books--so this was not
new to me.It was somewhere along the way I just picked it up. It was
as a bookkeeping assistant, payin' bills and lunch money, of course and
... just regular secretarial work, and making' barnkdeposits, and learning
all I could. I worked for a very ... a genius of a man. I won't men-
tion his name, but he was a mathematical wizard, as I've ever known. I'd
never met ... he was a little before my time, I would like to have met
himeExcept in books. And sometimes if you meet people in books, they
seem more real than people in real life. Einstein, he had a mind like
him, but he was an alcoholic. He got where he would have a small re-
frigerator in the back of the office part and he would drink gin and
sometimes have some of the high school boys come in and have a drink
with him. And this got around and he ... he was asked to resign. I
never knew what happened to him, but he could figure like ... He'd go
to a tobacco market and what it'd take a computer to do, he'd have it
just (snap, snap of fingers). I never seen a man figure out like that in
I:tI 1-- But the last I heard of him that he was ... he had two real
sweet little girls, and his wife was named Ruth. But he also encouraged
me; there's many times during' the ... teachers had to be out, uh, sickness,
things came up, emergencies at their home, they had children, have to
go to the doctor or something uh, he'd say, "No," go to typing, so-and-
so room, or maybe Home Ec; it might be trigonometry, it might be a al-
gebra class, whatever. It got so that he'd send me into his classes.
I thought at first to keep order, but he expected me to teach, and so I
just got a set of books of everything that they taught in high school
and I started studying and uh, I did not know at the time but he lis-
tened in through the PA system, and he asked how much I lacked getting'
my teacher's certificate, and lever will forget the look on his face.
I said, "My teacher's certificate!" I said, ".I didn't finish the ninth
grade." And he said, "Well, you, you ." ANd he used a few
other choice adjectives. He said, "If you don't go back and get your
degree," ...he said something like I was a born teacher. And uh, good
rapport with the students and he said uh ...
END SIDE 1
T: He mentioned the rapportkI had with the students, he said it was something
he had always tried to obtain and he thought that this .... in his
opinion was a gift and that I should pursue it and I did like students
and particularly more in the intermediate age--ninth, tenth, eleventh--
even though I got my certification in the four through nine, 'cause
this was more general and I didn't want to be tied down in this one
area. But I took enough courses in English and Speech that I could
teach either nne in high school if I chose. Later on. But he was
I'd say, I'd say he was the most influential in getting me to go back to
school. Andle gave me the feeling that I could do it, because I felt not
having finished high school A you know, certainly I was a country
pumpkin from a hillbilly place that, you know, was way down and I just
... and I wouldn't, you know, be able to amek it. But I did enjoy
teaching at the same time simultaneously I was working with the young
people at the Elizabethtown Baptist Church, ages of 15, 16, 17 and 18.
And I sort of graduated with them. I started out in the nursery and as
they went up, I went up because I had nursery children of my own and uh,
I worked TLiem several individual classes and then I worked as a
superintendent. And again the minister, he was very aggressive, in the
sense, I say "aggressive" in that he's very innovative, and in his ..
in his work he's enthusiastic, he had new ideas, he came on bright and
fresh and new for Elizabethtown. And his bag of tea so to speak was
young people. And I think he recognized right away that I felt a
special thing for them, a feeling. I guess I identified with them
'cause I felt that this was a most crucial age. Even though I was
not much older than they were at the time. Umm, I had already begun
to see that something it takes you only two minutes to decide can effect
you the rest of your life. And he began asking me to go beyond the call
of just teaching a class, he asked me to be the superintendent of the
department, and to cousel with some students who were havin' problems,
it might be dating problems or of a sexual nature, or it might be some-
thing of a confusion of religions where one parent belonged to say to ..
... a Catholic church and one was Protestant. Ummm, more or less I didn't
have answers but to be a friend. And to be a sounding board, more or
less who could let the ...the ... I say the student, but rather it was
a pupil to know that there was somebody there that you could talk to.
And if I sensed that it was an impending problem, something more complex
than just talking to 'em, I referred them to / minister, back to him.
And on several occasions Oe had one or two girls who atem pted suicide
and was taken to the state hospital in Ralleigh and there I met young
people and I was appalled because over half of the population at
Do hy Dix Hospital that was in 1964 was young people, and many of them
were there because they had attempted suicide. And along about this time
I had a friend who committed suicide, she was a little bit older than I
was, I'd say about two years, and left two small children. Um, I didn't
understand this and at that time too I was going through a domestic problem
... marriage, I'd been married ... along then, was about ten years. I
asked my husband to go to a marriage counselor and he said I was the one
that was unhappy, for me to go. So I went for a year and as I counselled
with the young people, and by the way the girl still did not come back to
school, so I was working with the same students at the school that I
saw at church, and it was back and forth wherever they caught me. And
wherever we could talk. It might be under a tree, it may be in the office,
it might be in the auditorium, it might be we'd go in the restroom or
anywhere. Or over the phone at home or you know things like this. And
again it was brought to me attention that I should get special training in
helping young people ... because of the ... I was told that I had ...
that they were able to relate to me more than they'd ... than other people,
somehow, or the average person. I didn't see other than I enjoyed 'em
and I had a special ...empathetic, sympathetic, and compassion for them.
I felt almost as one of them I guess. And I began to feel that I was
LUM 51 A
because I realized I was slipping and my marriage was such that it
had come to the point though that it had affected me so emotionally
that I could not go on with my work with the young people. I wanted to
tell them, like if they was thinking' of marriage and dating, I wanted to
tell them to steer away from this kind of thing. That it was problems,
it was heartaches, and of course you know, this is not normal. And I
realized it was not normal. And so I went to my minister and I said,
"I would like to resign the job." And he asked why. And so I said I
need help myself. And I don't think I'm the one to help them. So I
counselled with him, and I also went through psychoanalysis which was ...
which was a very painful thing, but it was enlightening. And it also
helped me, I guess the worst decision, no, let me re-phrase that, the
worst that a person can be in is the state of indecision. I wanted the
marriage to end, but I could not make the decision to end it. This is
where psychoanalysis helped me. And it gave me the courage and the faith
because in my upbringin' in the church, I'm sure it went back to some of
my puritanical grandmother's teachings, um, which ... and I felt too
that I would be barred from the church which ... here is where I found a
great deal of satisfaction in working with the young people and I didn't
want to be cut off here. I felt, you know, ... and I began to get a re-
bellious feeling' of bein' angry with God ... just you know, tellin' Him
off. That I'd tried to do my best, I was working' in the community, and
I was trying' to be a good mother and all this, you know, rationalizing.
A good wife, this kind of thing, which I was, I was doin' everything I
knew that was humanly possible; but it was not enough; it was not meant to
be, for some reason. And looking' back now I think I understand why. There
were many reasons: there was incompatibilities, but since I came from a
broken home, I thought it was the worst thing that could ever happen to a
person. I had always helt it against my mother. I blamed her for bringing'
me up, you know, without a father. It was her fault in my mind. And
maybe I had to go through this in order to understand that sometimes
marriages just don't work. They can't ...'cause certainly I gave it every-
thing I had humnaly possible to the point I've ... counsel, marriage
counsel, psychoanalysis, prayin'. The day I decided to go to the
lawyer I have never ... if you've ... some people talk like this and they ...
to people who are non-believers or don't hold these views they think
well, they're talking' crazy, you know, or they're ... head off. But the
day I walked in those three flights of stairs, I took the elevator, I
felt a sense of God's presence, as I walked into the of--, lawyer's of-
fice, more than I have anywhere else. It was like He was walking' be-
side me. As you would walk beside someone very dear, and He had His arms
around me. It was so real that ..- it was ... well, it was more real than
real If somebody ... if actually somebody had ... if it had been visible
and in fact I felt that it was visible, to the point that it was almost
eerie, and I said something to my ... to the lawyer, to this effect. And
his wife ... also had problems, and they were Baptist people, she ...come
to find out later she was my Sunday School teacher at the First Baptist
Church in Fayetteville. But this is sorta ironic. In my life I've al-
ways come to many, to the end of cliffs, almost like to the point of
slipping on, on a rock but there'd always be something that'd grab me back.
Some person, some one thing, and in this case it 4 was him. He did not
take marital status cases, this was a law of his firm because there was
seven other lawyers with him. Umm, they were bigger than this. They
didn't handle anything but insurance claims and things like this; criminal
law, where there's money involved. Marital cases are very, you know, drawn
out. There's not a great deal of money to be made in 'em. But I told
him my story. I told him what I had come for, and he said I can't help
you, I don't ... I said, "Well, I want to tell you anyway. And what-
t ever you charge, I'll pay for your time." SO when I told him my story
he said. "I'm gonna help you." And he started throwing questions at me:
when was the first time this happened, and so on; when was the first time
... when was the first time your husband hit you, or something like this.
I couldn't think of the times or the dates. Was it the spring of 1954,
'55, or something like this, you know? Well, a person can't just A start
their life from the day, you know, start ... they get married and you
know, I had not kept any diaries. I asked him to let me go home and I'd
come back tomorrow, the next day. And I did. I took two Anacin, it was
in the middle of the afternoon, 3 o'clock, and I asked my ... I told my
mother, I said, I'm goin' to sleep, and don't wake me up until I wake up.
Went to bed at three o'clock in the afternoon, I woke up three o'clock
that morning, and it was a curious day. I had a legal pad and
from the day that I got married it was one, two, three, I went all the
way through thirteen years of my life and wrote it out within that night.
And I was in his office at nine o'clock. And it was ... a book, it was a
really. And he said, it's remarkable. How'd you do it? And I said, well,
you asked F I came within, you know, July of
'62, and you know that kind of thing, not really to the very day. But
that was all he needed. And this was one of the hardest decisions I had to
make. The next one was my children-- bein' boys. They stayed with me
for to years, and as they become older, became older they, they needed
masculine: influence, and I didn't couldn't provide it. I sent them to
YMCA camp for two summers and they didn't like the school there. Their
schools quite different than the small town they'd lived in where
everybody knew everybody and there was no iarsTTt people.In Fayetteville
it was alot of mobile, military people and they just didn't fit in.
And also I have a step-father, had a step-father who had an alcoholic'
problem--a very chronic problem, and living behind my mother this was not
the best atmosphere for them. So I had to make a decision.' I let the
children stay with their father as he had asked because he was having
financial difficulties He could not pay their ... a/ f' he could not
pay their support. And after talking with them I made the decision. And
I let them go and live with their ... their father. The decision was the
hardest one I ever made. It almost killed me. But I got through it and
as I look on it now I realize I made the best decision, but it was not ...
phe best for the children at that time. At least they do Av things
that I wasn't able. I was holding two jobs, and they didn't have neither
mother nor father. And my mother was not in a position to help with her
nursing .-.. husband. Then her problem all worked out and today I have a
good relationship with both of my children. They visit often, as much as
they want to we talk on the phone a great deal, and ... I guess they
... they ave their ups and downs, but hopefully I don't If think it's
any more than just, you know, normal growing' up. Growin' pains, and I
think sometimes mothers have growing' pains more than the kids do. That's
about my life up til now. I know I've ... rattled on a great deal.
B: Well, I've certainly been fascinated. Did you notice any differences in
the community here and in the community where you lived and worked and
grew up? By the way I want you to take me to your mountain sometime
"j JL treehouse 'l.,i I^ CJ.
T: I'd love to. There is a gentleness in people here. It is also, it's their
strength. It's the same with the people in Cherokee, or who ... live
there. There's many Indians around in Loferton what we call Loferton L n-'i-
County. But they come down from Cherokee. And they work in the textile -
mills because it's well. real ... you know, it's better pay and this kind
of thing. And uh, I find that their, their strength is their weakness.
DEpenending on how they can use it. They have a gentleness and a gen-
erosity that they ... they'll give ya the shirt off their back if, you
know, need be. But at the same time if ... if they meet with a person
and they give the shirt off their back, the person just might take ad-
vantage and get, you know, take the pants and coat and the whole thing.
And this is why I think the Indian people A# have been misled. They are
... the Indian people that I know ... I'm speaking' of Lumbee and Chero-
kee, that's why I think they've been taken advantage of 'cause of their
generosity, their warmth and I wouldn't ... I find it most attractive, mag-
netic force that there is in the world ... because with it comes a great
deal of love. You just feel it; you sense it; you can ... love for just
humanity. And you wonder how they can feel it, but yet they do. And
they, they convey it so strongly that the times that I spent there and
the times here I'll always Ji_ -'cause I worked hard the first few
years that I'as here in school and I didn't have really, time, I didn't
take the time to socialize a great deal. But I lived with an Indian family
and uh, I learned a great deal about the community through living with
this family, helping in small ways wilh the community, as much as I could
and maintain my status and so on. And there, there their generosity was
such that ... completely trusting. The lady would leave the house open
you know; I wouldn't say she was a millionaire or anything but certainly
had affluences compared to middle=class, I say, upper middle class. She
trusted everybody. People would leave money on the door you know. May-
be because she had _lta)s and she thought nothing about it--of leaving,
leaving money on the table and walking' out, you know. This kind of
thing. And I finally told her you know that since I was living there
it sorta put me in a position-that if something happened I, I would
be the onet to suspect and I wish she would be more careful, you know,
and just, you know, I'd feel better. She said, well, how about you just
takin' care of my books, and making' my deposits and takin' care of the
rentals and farms. She ... had two or three farms. As they come in. (?)
So I took this job on, as ... in addition to my studies and this paid
you know, groceries and things like that. Helped out in a --- financial
way. And uh, it was nothing to her if you needed twenty, thirty dollars,
something, ummm. I went to with ummm, to a dress shop over in Lumbar-
ton and I said I really like the dress. Just i-f .' Try it on. I
said I think I will, you know. And women, you know, always like to
try a dress on. She started writing' a check. And she said, "Didn't ... it
looks good on." I said, well you know, I followed her and I said, "I
can't let youb that. I mean, I don't have the money to pay you back." "I
don't want you t pay me back." She had called me during the Christimaa
holidays 'cause she'd had the flu and she didn't ../. her children had
gone off on different places, yo"know, because they were out of school.
She'd called me at home and asked me to come down and stay with her be-
cause she had the flu and another memNber ... another friend, a close
friend of hers called and ... a man friend, I guess, _;-^ be-
cuase he Suldn't stay wJt her all the time, and her was trying to help
her. So because I did this, she wanted to do that and have my J hair
done and all this and she kept no set of books, no nothing I mean, I
could have you know, if I'd been the type of person, I could cheated or
stole her blind. Because she ... she didn't even keep .her bank ... her
bank book or anything like this. I'm making' this analogy because I un-
derstand that the people out there aren't as trusting. I never knew locks
on doors until I went to bigger cities like Washington, D. C. and she
never locked her house except, you know, recently in the last perhaps five
years we're all learning that ... there is alot ot turmoil among people
and people upset, and we are havin' to use locks and so on. But in that
sense, too, everybody trusts 0 everybody else and you wouldn't ... you
wouldn't steal anything from your brother. I say brother in the sense of
mankind or sister or anything like that. You just ... you just wouldn't
and ... I find that,that ..: that feeling, that generosity here. And even,
even to the poor if there's anything ...if they don't have anything but
a side of meat and corn bread you're welcome to that. And there's always
enough, somehow, there's always enough. This is the way I grew up, it was
nothing to have twenty or thirty people come home from church on Sun-
day. And we used to drive ... sometimes we'd drive the ... a buggy cart
like you know, the kids would. And they had a ... my mother had probably
the first car in the community and ... my brother, ...her brothers were
jealous of her, and so ... I was not real popular with my cousins 'cause
... I guess they got the idea. So I had to learn to defend myself and
I guess I became sort of a tuffy, and perhaps some of this has hung over
today. But I'm grateful that I was able to touch base with the people of
Cherokee and also the Lumbee people because it's really a ... a feeling
that ... had I not know I think I would have been really a lop-sided per-
sonality. And I feel indebted to the people, to the Indian people, and
I'm told that Indianness is an attitude, and I have an attitude of
Indianness. I want to ... They're going' through many problems; they've
always had problems, and I don't know the answers but I can say that ...
that the answer is not going to be a revolution. It might be ... if it's
revolutionary it'll be only temporary. It has to be evolutionary; that
means slow---slow and sure. And step by step and maybe creep and crawl,
but this is the way I think it will be solved.
We're ... having ... some turmoil between some of the branches of
Lumbee people who .. who's broken away, we call Tuscarooras now. And
their demonstrations aren't even successful because the demonstrators get
drunk and they get ... and I can't ... and their goals are they want their
schools back, and they want to unify the Indian people. If getting drunk
and throwing rocks and breaking windows is their means whereby they get
their schools back, and unify the Indian people, then this is the means.
My prayer would be if I could be so bold as to pray, Godb
the INdian people,& ' t 4tuJ because we just can't ... as human
beings unify on these bases, because no matter what the might, the strength
rather, ... I don't think ... I think love eventually for mankind col-
lectively, is greater and stronger than all the might and all the power
in the world1 And we may have to back it up with some of this power,
even though not the power of love. We're gonna have to do it in ways
that seems paradoxical, passive even, but these ... these things can be
done if the right people. We need leaders, we need ... we need leaders to
train Lumbee people to be followers, because fellowship is much more
important than leadership ... You can see this ... I think sometimes we
can learn somewhat from animals. You can see this with a group of cattle
or a group of sheep, you know, and again I learned this on the farms as
a child. You can always find ... even horses, there's always one who's
sort of the boss, and the rest of 'em kinda follow along. But they ...
we've got the fellowship, ...you over there, and everybody
goes around ... it's like beating' your head against the wall, or oscil-
latin' like a fan. You're moving constantly, but getting nowhere and I
think this is what's been happening. I think we've made progress but it
has come to a standstill and one other possibility would be ... in con-
nection with this ...possibility, it could be in education we call it
learning ;I and I think it happens also in the development ...
development of people and personalities and the development of peoples as
as races even. Um, if I can use an analogy like in typing--most of us
that type, we start out and we make progress and maybe we type 50 words a
minute and we do this for, you know, about a week and you think, you
know, well, I'm never gonna get past 50 words, and that's not very much,
you know, because to get a job you need at least 65-75, even 100 wouldn't
hurt, you know. So you stop at 50 and you go along three weeks and you
just can't get past 50,and you're really getting' discouraged to the point
of despairing and giving up and ... and you may think of dropping this
course. But stick with it even if you feel like you're just hangin'
by a thread--I mean a little teenie thread because 'about the time the three
weeks is up you feel like you're just gonna quit, you'll hit it and you'll
be typin' 60 words a minute. And this is what we call learning plateaus.
And ... as a PE minor we call it that the mind, or the body has to catch
up with the mind somehow and it balances it off because if we go at such
a a fast rate of speed out condition reflexes and our mind will not hold
it. It's like a computer. And it gots to be, you know, rubber stamped
HARD, and so we've go to hold this 50 words a minute hard and long be-
fore we can- on to the 60 and it goes slow. And I think this ... in the
development ... using this as an analogy I think this is the way it hap-
pens alot with people. And ... and individual people who have personalities
as well as the development of races, all, you knoy, peoples, be they In-
dians or ... Jews, Caucausian, Mexicans or what-have-you.
B: Do you think you'll remain permanently?
T: Do you think I'll remain permanently?
B: Among the Lumbee Valley.
T: In the Red River Lumbee valley?
B: Um, huh.
T: Well, I don't know. I've never ... take, you know, try to take it a
day at a time. And sometimes I can't do that so I have to take it a minute
at a time. And it gets kinda hard--I've been through ups and downs, but
I would like to if I can find a place here that ... that is needed, that
I need. I want to do something that's useful, that's worthwhile. I don't
want to be, if you'll pardon the expression, quote "a flim-flam man." As
Don Juan might have saidT Come in and get all I can from a community.
You know, hit it hard, and leave with a sackful of stuff, so to speak.
And I'm speaking' of the education, not that I have achieved that much.
Because you know, and we know, most of us know, that the more we learn
the more we realize we don't know. I don't want to, you know, one, I feel
indebted to this place but I haven't yet figured out what my way will be
to repay, not to the place, to the people, and particularly, some people ...
special people. All of the Lumbees are special,but there's some that's
you know, special-special. And I don't know what ... what the future will
be, but fir me, I know that somewhere there's young people, and I
feel S j-this. timehaJs for me. And if it's Lumbee then I'll be glad
But I think when the time comes it'll be revealed and I'll know. I'm not
real concerned about it now but I'll be very happy to remain here the rest
of my life.
B: There are many people here who would be very happy to have you remain here
T: I love the ... I love the atmosphere. I can walk out to the Little Giant
and get a loaf of bread at 10:30 at night, and I don't have to worry
about any kind of pervert or crazy person molesting me or doing anything
that would you know, I don't have to fear for my life or anything like
that. My children can come over and they can go uptown and they can play
a game of pool, and they don't have to worry about getting' hit in the head
with a beer bottle. Even /. sometimes I mean you know, kids do have
scrapes. But I'm talking' about the fear that ... that there is in
alot of towns--the fear of the ... the law of the jungle, so to speak.
I don't feel fear here and it's almost a world within ... a world. It's
\kinda to me), except it's spread out bigger. And I can't claim it 'cause
it'd be selfish. But it does it ... som people tune into a place. And
very quickly ... and others never ... you know, tune in. They just can't
get, you know, tuned in. But I tuned in immediately here before I came
here. As I said on the phone. And when I heard that "Y--e--s," I knew
that that was ... that I'd be here, at least for four years and perhaps
longer. And if it's meant for me to be whatever ... four more years or
for a lifetime I'd. be happy to live here. I like it here. I think
the people, some of the greatest people I've ever known here, and uh,
like I say, it's safe. It's a theuraputic effect .to me. I can go to
bigger towns when it's necessary that I have to go sometimes to tend to
business and things like this, but there's nothing in the world like the
feeling of coming back. It's home to me. And uh, I almost ... I mean
I really despise, and that's the word, to ... to have to go ... ummm, you
know to where there's so much traffic and so many people who are being
shoved here and there like cattle through a stall and that kind of thing.
But I do enjoy ... I've had a chance to s in some of the schools, the
C_ ___T schools program nd this kind of thing. Towns like this, you
know, I can put up with t+f 4 /f :P. r-.X living with other people, you
know. If this was meant for me to be, I don't know. I do have training
in language arts and this summer I may take some Omore courses, I don't
know, I'm tolave conference with my adviser in another week or so, the
head of the Education Department, and uh, I might get some readings then
as to what I ... I know that probably in the fall I'll be working' full-time
as I'm working' with the Doris Dule Foundation now fairly full-time,
hopefully more full-time than I've been working But I hope even then as
I say full-time, puchin' a clock, literally and figuratively speaking ,
from say 8:00 to 3:00 or something like that, that I can still be a part
of the Doris Duke Foundation because as long as they ... there are ...
doing things to help the betterment, the enrichment of the Lumbee Indians
is a wothwhile thing and it's a thing of ... beauty to me and it has an aesthetic
quality that I appreciate and I don't know Doris Duke, but wherever she is
... I never really heard her story, the kind of person she is, but I think
we're indebted to her and somewhere along the line we ought to say
T: And uh, I'm grateful for the opportunity of bein' able to work with the
program even though it has been limited. It's taken in an area
Pembroke and the rural section. It's just ... well, It's home again.
I mean A IO *hAlove, and apple pie, and eards and, and cornbread, and
you know, kisses and hugs and dears, and we have a dialect here that's
"I /I I/l I
called Lumbee-ism, up there they just call it plain old mountain talk.
But it's some of the same talk, and the speech patterns are some of the
same, with the exception of maybe a few things. When I come down her4and
I talk with some of my "educated friends" they say I sound like a hillbilly
and then when I go back home some of my aunts say "Gal, let me tell you
something' I ... you just getting' above you're raisin'." So whichever way
I go I'm damned if I do and I'm damned if I don't, but I like to talk the
Lumbee-ism and I like to hear it and I think it's a dialect that... that
it ought to be protected almost fiercely because it shouldn't pass...
It's necessary, it se be taught as a separate language.
B: Tell us about that !f*SVS- expression.
T: Well, that ... that's kinda ironic and it's also a pun too be-
cause you say "Lumbee-ism" devidin' the words. This is the first thing
I noticed about "Lumbee-ism", is usin' the words, "bees." And I guess it's
meant to be a verb. But it might be something like this The fact is bees
is hard as1 |SfcAC I just don't know whether I'm gonna make it or not.
And then there's a few pther things ... "pure." "I'm just pure down
tuckered out." And uh, one of my friends who is a Lumbee girl and a student,
her name's Geneva, a darling girl, but we have what we call developmental
language arts and we have to get up and talk proper and standardized English
and she'll get up and do it perfect and be recorded on a tape recorder and
she'll sit back down and she says, "If it ... if that gets any harder than the
last time, I'll just declares if I can goes it anymore." And it
seems to be that the Lumbee uses the verb, they put the plurals ...
"I does like my coffee," this kind of thing. Something like this or ah,
"over yonder," "Go on to the store, I'll be back ... I'll see you directly-"
means in a little while.
B: Your boyfriend doesn't take you out, he "carries" ya.
B: To the show.
T: That's right, and uh, I hadn't noticed ... I lived in Fayetteville for a
while, that's where my mother lives, and they say, "Here," like if you're
driving: you go in an automobile, .'.'put that on the car' or"I'll rode on
the car up to Fayetteville," well, you know, you didn't really ride on the
car, if you want to take it literally. Because to me if you say "you ride
on the car, you're on top of the r, or on the fender or somewhere like
that. But they say that up homA in Robison County ...which are as I said, the
Cherokee .. people come down and work in the textile mills. They're just
some lovely people up there ... just as there is here. I miss it, I used to
miss it so much that it was almost, I know what homesickness is. It's ...
and it's truly one of the worst sickness! in the world, but I haven't felt
that as much since I've been down here as I used to, in fact, I haven't been
back as much. But to hear some of my coerT"talk, they really got the
"Lumbee-ism fJ La\r .
B: Do your relatives worry that maybe you'll be scalped by the Indians or
T: Huh! That's really funny. That sounds like propaganda straight out of Holly-
wood. I don't think that ...any of my people will be worried about
me bein' scalped or ... I might have some that would try to pay a few to
scalp me but -.. I think I really feel that and they feel I'mtabout the
safest place that I oculd possibly be in.
... ... .. ... ... ..