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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida
July 3, 1973
Interviewer: Dexter Brooks
-nterviewee: Sally Johnson Brooks
I: Sally Johnson Brooks. da, today's date is the third of July, 1973.
Ah, Mrs. Brooks, would you tell me, ah, who your mother and father were and what
they did for a living?
B: My father was Sherman Johnson and my mother was Lucy Rivers and my father was
a woods boss for the Carolina Lumber Company.
I: And your mother, she was a...
B: Just a housewife.
I: Just a housewife. Could you tell me where you were born, Mrs. Brooks?
B: Yearling, South Carolina.
I: And approximately how long did your as family live in South Carolina?
B: About four, no a, about three years, aBtwermoved to Rowland when I was four.
And from Rowland to ail-j8lpl
I: I see. And you lived in air- -ff for approximately how long?
B: Ohh... let's see... maybe six years. And let me see, papa was working in the
woods as a woods boss, and, uh, there was a great area of woods there. ey had
to cut all that 4ewa. So he worked there about six years, I guess. jPhen he moved
to --,-- North Carolina and cut another supply of timber. And then, after that,
we moved to Wade, North Carolina. And I was about fourteen then --- t
I: Ah, could you tell us something about your educational background?
B: Well, let me-finish telling you about my daddy, ah, whenever he moved to;Wade
he decided to quit, ah, being a woods boss and had a garage and, uh, blacksmith
shop of his own. And uh...
I: That was, he had a blacksmith shop where now?
B: In Wade, North Carolina.
I: Wade. Alright.
B: Um hmm, And so uh, the education part is funny. He would send us down to
Grandma 's in Pembroke to go to schoo:because he said it was too far to go to
school in the Stanhill school which was ina, ,u when we were out there.
And uh, so he sent us down to Grandma3's to go to school----.--- So, we didn't
know whywe were going. Do you want me to tell you all the truth about all of it?
B: And so uh, they sent us to school down .here until we moved to Wade. So right
from our house there was, um, school, so the children that lived around -/ -
would start school right there, you know, and we thought we would, too, so mama
said, "No, you can't go. You have to go to Grandmaw's again this year." So she
sent us back to Grandmaw's. And there's a school right there at the house. And
we begin, then, to wonder why, you know, but she didn't tell us then. So when
we came home for Christmas we demanded why we couldn't go to school. Mama said,
"itt might call '--S----- and---?.--have to go out and whip somebody. And so we
found out when I was fourteen years old when I found that out, why-I was coming
here to school. See because until we moved out of the swamps, we called it,
uh, we knew that there was no school close by. So we didAt question it. And so
then I stayed with Grandmaw and went to school until we moved to -''MM
and that was in 1919 papa bought another garage a h blacksmith shopin Fairmont)
in 1919. And so then, we come up to a dormitory and stayed. I was in the seventh
and was in the sixth.
I: Which dormitoryVoZ t <-
B: Here in r o dormitory was here in Pembroke.
I: So they, what is now Pembroke State University at that time was sort of a
B: Yeah, it was. Uh, you see, we was there when that old building was there
and we went to school in it and then there was a wooden dormitory. Your mama
stayed in it, too.
I You're speaking then of the first wooden building that was erected on
B: Uh huh..
I: Uh, f.-e the sigh f Pembroke State.
B: And uh, so we went that year 'til about Christmas in that old building,
then they moved us to the new building bIja-t -rick building. And we
finished out the year there. And from then on, I had all my education in that
one building, only. The summer schools I went to, which was in 1927. I went
to Chapel Hill for twelve weeks. In 1928 I went to Greensboro which was
I: 4S, women's college of .w University of North Carolina.
B: Yeah, I went there six weeks and, uh, uh, in '27 I started as librarian for
the college. I was the first librarian, you know.
I: No, I didn't know that.
I: So you received the bulk of your education in the building now called
B: Um-hum, yeah, all except them summer schools, and after, you see, um,
well, for the last, I reckon, seven or eight years I've been taking, I took,
would take courses from East Carolina, you know, library courses. that's the
only placeSetr Chapel Hill, Greensboro and MCCW.
I: Uh, one thing you said earlier, I'm curious about, you didn't realize there
was any difference 4-n -9 av A-
B:/A no, that killed me honey when I found that out. I, ah, I don't know...
But it seemed like it made a coldness come over me and I felt like I
wnaried" ------ somebody aiiiJmi'*' / *
I: I ,-'-. what you're saying, yeah.
B: And I've always had that in me. It's never come out.
I: And you uh
B: I never felt like I had a place...I never have. And that's the truth.
I: How did did you seem to a did your family just avoid social contact with
ah, witof-h a-e-the people in Wade?
B: We played with the children and mama visited with the ladies and
everything just like you would here. But when school started, you see,
that made us think. And the children that we played with didn't understand
why we went away. Mama didn't let noboby know but usr-ec-d ----
I: I see then. Since the schools in--- were segregated and there,
Indians attended their own schools, your mother was probably afraid that ah
there mightbe some questionVthere in Wade
B: Yeah, she was afraid she'd have to e"iy n 'cause she e d about
her children, and so another thing, too, when I was even ah first
starting school, when I was six. and seven, I went to prospect school. I forgot
to tell you that. And I thought all the dark people were colored people and
got a whipping for that, for calling them colored.
I: Because you had lived in other areas t ---
: ought -colored ....... it was a mess, honey, you don't know what a
background I have had. Now some of the girls, well, Maggie and Karen May and
I-- pretended to accept it but I never have accepted no particular place,
because I'd go either way, you know, I wanted to go. But they accepted
Indian, you know, strict 1Indian.
I: I see. You're saying that your brother and sisters ah became Indian
but you always never really considered yourself...
B: Uh..no, I didn't more than aL of whites 4+d 'cause papa's white,
I: Oh, your father was white.
B: Um hum. And the ones whe-were away from here, they don't accept it
either. They all es ah, as I told you, Karen Mayy Maggie and Blue.
I don't believe Blue really did, you know, but. .
I: How did your um your father meet your mother?
B: In South Carolina, ___ ; South Carolina and mama went to white school.
She didn't know that anything was different.
I: What was your mother doing in South Carolina at the time?
B: She was raised there. You mean what did she do for a living?
I: No, ah, what was your mother's maiden name?
B: And she's from uh Clio, South Carolina.
I: And both of her parents were Indian?
B: Um hum.
I: Were they both of her parents ah from this area or...
B:Hay mother was from this area and her/Eather was from south, South Carolina
Cut that off and I'll tell you something.
IAj4hen ah your father moved into ah that Fairmont area was it, and opened
up a shop,-&& did this createhny problems with ah the local.white people?
B: Well, we just went to school-.a Fairmont, an nd4a school-i. Fairmont.
s c h o o l 4 ~ F a i r m o n t a'.I i 4 s c o l a r o t
I: An Indian school.
B: Um hum, because we had a lot of Indians friends then because papa and
mama had got in with Lutl and Patty and Aunt Nancy and Linda, 'cause Linda
was.gaing-oo-help papa to find ah his shop for sale. And so, naturally
papa just-r 1A u42i-,
I:,Now all of these people that you've just spoken of are Indian?
B: Um hum.
I: Ah, what about the white people in Fairmont, ah, what did they, did they
realize that your father was white?
B: Yes, haPuh Dr. Brown in Fairmont told papa that he was foolish to stay there
and uh let us grow up there. Yeah, he did. I remember him saying that;1< 'o "
I:'Cause, by that did he mean...
B: Because we were different, you know. We've been raised different and so,
we"%.aen raised like any-other white children.
I: Um hum.
B: But we did not go with them in Fairmont, we didn't go with them a-mnre.
I: So by living in Fairmont, in effect, ah, you became Indian?
I: Now what about your father, how was he treated by the, ah, local white
B: They was highly respected, your mother will tell you that, by all the people,
white, black and Indian.
I: Do you, was he, did he involve himself-i. any white people, socially?
B: No, he just worked and went home He didn't go to church
or anything like that. They wanted him to be on a committee at the school and
he wouldn't, you know, Fairmont school, he wouldn't even do that. He didn't
have anything to do with anything.
I: When you do you mean in the county, the epp te' county of-the
B: Yes, uh, the one in Fairmont that we went to.
I: Was that, this particular school, was that inside the city limits
B: Um hum.--
".'2B: Yeah, just a little tiny school, one-roomed school.
I: Do you ah, know what year that school was closed?
B: No I don't because they closed it when they built um --- --so I
don't know. See, I was"up here. I'd forgot all about it.
I: I see, so that...
B: I reckon I was married when they, it was closed, I don't know.
I: Saamz lJ:- < A *
B: Seems like Abner and Maggie finished there. Oh, they added more to it
and made a high school out of it, and they finished high school there. And
then they closed it later, and uh, made this one, '----- --.
if t lf-.ift.^C abot
I: Um hum. I hink .----- was probably started inVHe middle fifties.
B: Well, that's when it was closed. It was right in front,.of um what is the
name of that church now? Cedar Grove Church, that's where it was located,
right in front of Cedar Grove, right x close_ to--y*---a--i4t you know
where L-r -_. s is?
I: No, ah, no I don't. Q, Auh, you're still 'of the old school
Ah, could you tell me something about ah your ah, clothing during this
period of time? Did your mother make most of your, ah, your mother
make most of your dresses?
B: Um hum, yeah.
I: Did your mother make, ah, would you say just about all of your, all of the
B: All except the boys'. She didn't make those.
I' She didn't. These were bought?
B: Um hum.
B: Um hum.
I: Was your ah, father a- religious person?
B: No he never was religious until he moved to, ah, Wilson, North Carolina,
after he came down with T.B., you see. He came down with T.B. in the summer
after mama died. And...
I: What, what year was that?
B: Mama died in '45 and he came down that summer, the summer of '45. And he
stayed in a sanitorium for about three years. And he met this lady from
Vanceboro, North Carolina, and they got married. He thought he was about
well, and she was well. And so they got married and came back to Fairmont
and stayed maybe a year and then moved to ah Wilson, North Carolina. And that's
where he was living when he died and was buried in Wilson.State Cemetery.
I: What about your mother, was she, ah, religious?
B: Yeah, she was a Methodist.
I: Um hum. hi .. '.
B: She'a take us to Sunday School, Papa'd stay home.
I: So all the, all the kids were ah, exposed to some, ah, religion every,
practically every Sunday.
B: Yeah. Um hum. We went with i and -la a church. They went to
an -"chrh he ett
i.-L- -. That's where we started'ondr .. Fairmont. But until
we went to Fairmont we didn't go to church. Oh, we would go in the summer
sometimes to what you call, um, /A-_^_ North Carolina, you've heard of
that, where they have a big tent;meeting.
B: Papa would take us there. In the summer.
I: Is this because of your mother's insistence?
B: I guess. Ah, all of us liked it very much, because that was a different
way to go to church.
I: The, uh, the churches your mother went to here, anyway, were they all, all
B: Um hum. ':
I: And you say that was the Methodist, the Methodist faith?
B: 6 e
I: Were there any other denominations among the Indians at that time?
B; Yeah guess there the Holiness back then.
I: There, there were Holiness.
B: Lots of different ones.
I: Ah huh.
B: But we just took one.
I; Did, uh, approximately how, what, on a typical Sunday along this period of
time, what would a church service and the whole day/ onsist of?
B: They'd have Sunday School and have church after that. And then you'd go
home and some evenings you'd have a singing and go back for singing, but you
wouldn't have another preaching service.
I; Uh huh, the singing would be. .
B: Over in the evening, practice singing.
I: Ah, approximately what time?
B: Around four.
I: Four, and the meetings would last?
B: Um hum, about an hour or so.
I: An hour. Was there any sort of a services in the, Sunday nights?
B: Not that I remember. We didn't go to them, at least. We didn't go
any place at night.
I: What were some things people in the same period of time might have done
for relaxation? Say your father, did he, did he ah hunt, fish, or anything
of this nature?
B: Yes, he liked it and he played music on his banjo. He liked that. He had
banjo and he played music. And he'd take us out riding in the car, you
know and sightseeing, and things like that.. on Sunday.
I: Did he ah did any of you kids pick up any musical talent?
B: Not to any great extent.
I: No piano, or ah, banjo.
B: No. ----&- come the nearest, I reckon. He sings a little hillbilly
stuff, but you know, not enough to talk about.
I: If, ah, if your father wanted, had accumulated some money, ah, that he
wanted to save, would he, ah, did he, did he use banks for this purpose?
B: Um hum. Yeah, he ah he used the Fairmont bank.
tpnt )-- .,t V
I: Would people in general,ah, say the other Indians, would they also use
I: Yeah, Bud Brooks was the only one I knew anything about that banked, eQ I
didn't know vs about banks and things back then. But I'm sure that
Bud did, Bud Brooks, did about the same thing papa did. And I guess all the
people around there did.
I: In case of a death in the family, ah, what sort of ceremonies did..?
B: Well, ur, now my grandmother died when we lived at Fairmont. Oh, let
me tell you, we had a little sister wh died when we lived in 4tL---... CI, Ci.
you know, out where we were living in this area where papa was working in
the woods, you know, as a woods boss cutting timber. My little sister
died and, uh, she was five years old. And they took her on the train and
took her to Rowland, and then took her out from RoLand to, ah, my Aunt
Lucy's house and stayed over night and then buried her the next day at-,---
Chapel in South Carolina. And they had, ah, this ah, ceremony right at-Wade.
I: So the only ceremony that they4- t-ek thir time w4it was .t, r
B: Ur, that's all I remember back then. She was five years old. They had a
little service and I don't even remember the preacher or anything
I: Could you tell us perhaps your first recollection of uh some sort of a
formal type funeral.
B: After I came to ah RobeSon county-----
B: I can't remember anything about, I went to quite a few, but, usually they
would have them in the church, you know, uh,like, just like we do now, have
a church ceremony and bury them in grave yard. That is all I remember. Only
I: For example, in this period of time, were people, say, embalmed?
B: No, I remember that they weren't, but, I remember how different they would
look, you know...maybe' the mouth would be frothy-like and that -.wei4.-----
No, they didn't embalm then.
I: Funerals had to take place, then, very quickly after.; 's .d *L
I: AomnR t Did people, uh, how did the people in the community treat a
family who had just lost, ah, person in that family by death, ah...
B: The were very nice to come, you know and set -----
Anltheytet up the people would be laying out, you know. And they'd build
them caskets, build the casket during the time that the person was played on
this cooling board, they were out building the casket for.:.'-'.-f--'-
I: Thei- people themselves built, the people in the community built the caskets.
What, what do you mean by a cooling board?
B: It was a big, wide board and they put sheets on itand, uh, put themgplose
to the window where the wind would blow -.t4- clr /'! : .",
I: The air w1i- circulate over them. This was in the house .'.' :4 "-"
B: In the house we'd set them, people would set --------- We'd call it a
I: So then, a funeral wouldn't even involve what we now days call an
B: No. I don't remember any until we dame to Fairmont.--------
I: That's interesting. Could you just .
I: Excuse me, go ahead.
B: Because this little sister I remember 4llng abn t her casket. Now they
didn't make hers. But uh, most the people around the mill who did make them
S-' an d a h I r em em b er th a t um th ey p u t h er in th i s ca sk e t An d u h er
in a box and I had to ride on top of the box .ee -----
She had what you call ''---, a kidney disease- 4e14" ,,.
I: When you were a girl growing up, um, let's say in, ah, Fairmont, what
would a typical Sunday dinner consist of?
B: Anything that we took a notion to eat. Steak, chicken, anything we wanted,
we had it, and I'm telling you the truth.
I: How did, ah, how did you ah, get your steak, for example?
B: Papa would buy it upown, or we'd go get it.
I: Then, did you raise any of your own food?
B: U hum, vegetables. And we had a cow, a milk cow. And uh until we got
a old timy box that you put ice in at the top and the food down at the bottom.
Until then we would keep the milk down in the well, put it in a gallon jug and
let it hang downethe well and it would be real cool. But as far as any other
food, you know and things, we had anything we wanted.
I: Then you wold say that your family ate pretty well?
B: Yeah, sure did.
I: Was this true of most of your friends?
B: Well, the ones we visited, yes. We didn't have any special friends othr
-hn Fairmont.They, I'll tell you who they were. I can count them on my fingers.
Bud Brooks' family, Alfredec -- family, Anna family, Pete LTwry's
family, and I believe that's about it. Oh,-- =--- ,..mily. There's
five families that run together.
I: So then these five families you didn't do any socializing. Let's see, um.
Could you go through this list of names and perhaps tell me what, generally
what each person did for a living.
B: Um hum. Anna/ I'Cm-'s husband was a barber in Fairmont. And Alfred
__- waSarpenter. And Bud Brooks was a big farmer. And ah -- --LL''
was the barber. And so *h CJO /4<-V.
I: And.the barbers at this time .
B: Y3,a, we had three barber friends.
I: Did they ah, was their clientele limited to Tmembers of the Indian race?
B: I believe the, uh, barbers-444-whites. I don't remember. It seems like
I: Ah, they did for both races, then?
B: Ah, yeah. But they were mostly white for whiteS, I believe..
$.Bthe Indians had to go to their house to get theirs. Seems like that's
the way it was, that they barbered for white people.
I: Did they all work together in the same shop, or...
B: I believe they did until---- moved out and he had one in his homehe
... .... ....,'- / 4., -.'
--- did. And then he ao and-----d --------- But these others, when
Pete moved, he moved to um-et West Virginia. That's when he pulled out and
left the other two there. And --- died in Fairmont----- *' 6
I: How many doctors were in Fairmont at this time?
B: Doctor oh, um, let me see now, Doctor Riggs and Dr. Hayes. It seems (
it, it seems like there was a Doctor Thompson. I'm not sure. About three.
I: And, all of thesecdoctors were hite?
B: Um hum.
I: Did they, ah, treat, ah, black and Indian patients?
I: Did they make house calls for?
B: Um hum. Yes.
I: They, they, did they deliver most of the babies born in that area?
B: Yeah, delivered them at their homes. Um hum. I tuegh-to know) >Mama had
three or four while she lived there.
I: Um hum. Did, ah,Anowadays .th have drug stores. Did your mother have any
sort of home remedies or any such things that she used for kids, when...
B: Oh, yes. When we'd take a cold she's use this, um, let's see, she'd mix
kerosene and L&a-aad.r kerosene and t^ anid spirits of turpentine
and i id stuff like that. .and se4I4 make a police to put on the
babies, you know, to break the cold. I remember Dr. Hayes said one time
/ e /'/ C t
......-._. r said not to put that mess on them anymore. Yes,
she had quite a few home remedies.
I: When your family, when these families you just talked about, when they
went together on a social occasion, what type of activity-_E they engaged in?
B: Sometimes we'd get together and have __- e'_'-, cookouts, and sometimes
we'd have a party and a dance and different things like that ,Mostly things
I: And, this is...
B: At Fairmont. All this is at Fairmont.
I: I mean, this "-your mother and father and their friendsW&Ot- A/LaAe -
B: Um hum. They'd sit up and talk while we had a time, We had
one of these t playing pianos, you know, and so we played dance music
and all that ml"eior us to dosf,
I: Did you ever listen in on any of their conversations?
I/it 4^, CA k (A-
B: Ohmama and papa, no, we didn't. h ah --- ----we'd always be out.
t4elln -4o0 CeCi, I-e
No, that's one thing we didn't fee-llike------ --. I don't know what they
were talking about.
I: iep your mother and father dp ---4-- superstitious?
B: Not too much, no. None of us ewem e superstitious, because it's not
I: Your mother and father taught you not to believe in-it?
B: Black cats and all that gammit? No.
I: What about the um kids you associated with? Would you say many of those were
you - 4 .. '. r. .,.,--4- :and she saidt
B: Yes, let me tellVione time one of my cousins k -- and she said
that um she could make e-hild"--ei. Ad she said that the way she'd do
it, she'd go ah to this uh little sweet UM tree and -i-- and say some
funny wprds and then when she'd get up...
I: ----- you were in the processAfnswering a question. Go ahead.
B: What was I going to /e UL4yc4
I: About that superstition.
B: Oh, and so uh, we went we didn't believe in it,but she said that
when she got through saying all these words and things she was going to Ad. *,u
C-some chewing gum. And so t' 4i chewing gum and so we didn't
sAnd so__ ." > -, .. C e^ -/c -^. o~ .... *. ,,, ,
believe her she said something happened a ---------- -_ ... ,
I: .Was there any, was there very much talk, Uay'people in the community maybe
being witches or, having powers?
B: No,,---- --" 6
I: What about ghosts?
B: iL. SLJ 7*^'-"( */L>j < -- '
I: Were you, for example, personally afraid to be near a dead.person?
B: Um um.
I: Are you, are you a member of any religious denomination, as such?
B: No,,we are non-denominational.
I: You belong to a non-denominational church'yourself?
B: Um hum. Gospel- we don't follow any written charter or nothing
- iE 1eftatE just, e*-14%"tte o t have a name on anything.
I: Could you tell me when you first registered to vote?
B: MDAaet II ... must have beentrouAd thirty three.
I: So you registered in 1933?
B: 1 ..
I: During these years, how-d you classify yourself as fatas voting? Did
you vote fairly regularly?
B: Yes, every year I was a democrat -'
I: You registered as a democrat?
B: Um hum. -4A--.. d c ^. .4&:.,^
I: Why did you register as a democrat?.C. ,
B: I guess I liked the democrats the best. All I remember. Joe was democrat
tA-rlr -.'c -/^- /....'t^ ;., <=.: ^ ^^ */^.':.. -r ;-- .<..,
I: Then you ah voted a straight democratic ticket?
B: Um hum +Fer the last w. years-,I don't know u- e ye.
I: Do youcall the first election in which you -'-- your ticket?
4: u# -'fA... -,,: ...... C c' T
*: Who, what particular candidate id yoepick?
I; you voted against Kennedy?
B: Um hum. 1-A Lf f Z a o.
I: f And that was in the election of 1960.
B: Um hum.
I: ^J^W -i .r ^ ^/
I: Did your children, they attended schools in oQb orc county?
B: Um hum.
I: Would that have been in ------- area?
B: Yeah. Only when I was in college in the South Carolina Statel-School.
that wasn't two or three years.
I: What did you think of the schools that your children attended?
B: Well, I guess I thought they were pretty good, back then, you know as
far as I knew.. You see, I didn't go out and check like the people do now
"------.'I just took their word for what was going on.
I: Did the schools have any sort of PTA at this time?
B: I don't remember-'- e- '- ..., ..u. t ^ ,' /'-'- e.- -w./
I: Did you ever go into a go into a, let's say a white school just for
purposes of comparison aj- v a /v w ,ti t ,< ,:.,4A.. /i ?
B: No, I didn't because, now when we 44d in South Carolina, --
went to ----- school and I didn't go see how he was getting on 'cause
beeattse he was getting on alright. -And-when we were in --- ..-- he
went to white school and I didn't check,,.'---- That4 s-so ene-ouC
-sh e u. .d- t-a,,. .. ... O U i
I: So, in South Carolina, your kids went to white school but you- -talki.g-
B: Indian school.
I: Indian school. .
B: ;%t-was itt- six years.
I: What, what do you think about say the conditions of the school now?
Do you think the schools in general are better..0?. Q t-}c9.. ?
B: They are terrible.
I: They've gotten worse?
B: Yes. I tell you the last three years I was in school I iteptheekarg
I: And could you give me some of the reasons you would attribute this to?
B: Yes, because the teachers were afraid to e down on the children and
make them do like they should because the parents would come out on them.
I: i/44'Ad } '
B: That's true. Um hum. iYou see, they found out that if the teachers
whipped them, then they could sue them. ----- -------suing somebody if
you touched them. Yes, back whff wing I'd tell the teacher to-
you- touhe them.^ A^ .^ Yes,^ back. waLLywgg ow-
-------.Didn't your momma want you whipped?
I: Yes. You say that you finished school in the building that came to
be aaed ld Main?
I: What was your first reaction when you heard that the building was going
to be torn down?
B: Well, -e, it didn't matter, you -kow-. I don't know, 'cause I figured
they was tearing it down i"y"te-best; "'That's all I thought. Not that
I, not that I had, you know, anything attached to it.
I: How, ah, were you told? How did you first come to know that the building
was going to be torn down? Did you read it in the paper, or...?
B: I don't remember, not now. But you know, I figured if it was going to
be, I'm for progress. I thought that if they took it down and had a
big aud.., um what is it?
B: Auditorium, you know, instead. And that's all I thought rigkphtn.
It didn't phase me one way or another.
I: .U-hum. -1.-ahv, I understand there was quite a bit of controversy
surrounding that decision, there. As the controversy went on, did you change
your opinion any?
B: No, it didn't phase me. Just like you wree--e-ig something bout---i
B: N ':t- a di dn *S
Because there's nothing I could do 'bu e'l little I could say -th-r
would/ito any good.
I: So you felt that really you had no voice in the matter?
B: That's right. And --- /&*t- /
< q ,- .' -" :,' -, -..
I: Now, ah, presently on the campus thee---- ----- on the--7-- the particular
auditorium, you know that was supposed to replace Old Main, what do you
B: I think it looks pitiful sitting there. I dontt know what they should do
with it. What do you think? It, doesn't it now, it looks really
I: Would you, well would you love to see it, say, renovated now,now
that the auditorium has been placed in another site?
B: Now I don't know, but I think they should do something-to make it
look better, I can say that though. If they don't take the whole
thing away, make it look better.
I: What do you think of the idea of a museum in, inside Old Main?
B: It would be nice I guess.
I: Have you ever experienced, well you described one instance of
discrimination, or no, you described an instance where you first
became aware of the difference between whites and Indians.
B: Um huh.
I: Could you perhaps relate the first act of discrimination which
was directed against you personally?
B: No, the only thing that I can remember that happened, which I didn't
know it was happening until after that happened. When I went to
Chapel Hill, Mr. Smitty came up, that was the end of the first six
weeks, and said that a lawyer in Fairmont had wrote to the head
officials in Chapel Hill that I was an Indian you know, and I was
at Chapel Hill. And so he came up and told me that he wanted me
to stay another six weeks. I wasn't supposed stay but the first
six weeks. He says, stay six more weeks.
I: Who was Mr. Smith?
B: He was the president of the Normal, we called it. You know I was
going to be the librarian for the school.
I: I see.
B: And he wanted me to stay another six weeks to show them I could
stay. And so I didn't much want to. I said, "Did you go talk to
my daddy?" And he said, "Yes, your daddy said you could stay."-
But I didn't know this letter had come up there, you know, and all
that stuff, until he met me in the dining room, and he said that
he wanted to see me. I was tickled to see him up there you know,
somebody I knew. And so he said that he wanted to come out in the
park like. It wasn't exactly a park, but it was a place where
there were some seats under trees, and sit down, and he wanted to
talk to me. And so he told me that Lawyer Grant, come from Fairmont,
said that that was his home school, that was where he finished,
and he didn't want Indians to go there to school, you know. And
he demanded that they turn me out. And so he said he'd see that
they didn't turn me out, and they didn't. And I went six more
weeks. And when I got home honey, did I write him a letter. I told
him I'd never been to his back door for nothing, and I could go
anywhere he could go. They didn't know me from nobody else, and
at the end of school I'll tell you what I did. I went to the
president of the school, and his name was Brooks, and I told him
that I was the Indian that this lawyer had wrote about. He said,
"Well I would never have known it." But you see Smith, he, in the
beginning had sewed all this up. He told them that I was the Indian,
and he was wanting me to go to school to get prepared to take care
B: ...of the library. But you see, everybody didn't know this, nobody
knew it but him and me, and I reckon a few people at the school.
I: How do you suppose this white lawyer found out?
B: Well I come home for the Fourth of July, and it was in the paper,
that Sally Johnson was home from Chapel Hill. That's how he found
out. Boy, he got busy trying to throw me out. So the next summer
I went to Greensboro, just, just to be a doing it you know.
I: Have you ever, that was outside Robeson, now within the borders
of Robeson, do you recall any acts of discrimination?
B: None, un uh.
I: When you, where did you do most of your shopping?
B: Fairmont and Lumberton.
I: And you were allowed the same courtesies that...?
B: Yes sir, um huh. Got my haircut at the Bailey Barbershop in
Lumberton when I take a notion to it.
I: Did you ever go into, say a movie theater in Lumberton or the
B: Went into the Carolina, downstairs, never went upstairs in, went
in my life. I went with Earl O'hara, I used to date him,?you know,
that's the doctor. That's who I'd go to the movies with. But you
know you'd have to be careful who you'd go to these places with,
or you'd have got asked out. And I'd go to the drugstores and
different things like that. And it'd be up there, white only.
I: So really you were...?
B: I could, I could pass, to tell you the truth. I could pass. But
you know if you'd carry somebody who couldn't, youtd have'-gdt
B: ...asked out, that's all.
I: Do you believe a person, you can tell the race of a person by
examining an individual's blood?
B: Un uh, sure don't.
I: Were you aware...
B: I would love to know if you could, but I really don't believe you
I: Were you aware that during the 1930s this was supposedly done?
B: I know my husband had it done, and they tested a few people. Pete
and Carrol May, my sister Carrol May was one of them. And I don't
know who all, but mostly just the Brookses and the Locklears.
I: Did they, they didn't, did they...
B: They made out they come out with so much, some percent Indian. I
don't know. I wouldn't go you see, I didn't like Joe to be in this
stuff, and I wouldn't go, but Carrol May went, and said that,they
said she was one sixth Indian; That's what she said. She'll tell
you that. Do you believe it could be possible?
I: You say you didn't want to?
B: I, I didn't go.
I: What do you think of the name Lumbee?
B: I think it's about as good as you can do.
I: Did you vote in the referendum,'let's.see, the .had a-referendum
I understand, in Robeson County, in the early '50s to decide on
this particular name, did you vote in that?
B: Un uh, didn't have nothing to do with it. I just accepted it I
I: Were you aware that...
B: I knew when it was going on, oh yeah, but I didn't have nothing
to do with it.
I: Could you tell me why you chose not to?
B: No, only I wasn't interested. Just lack of interest all I know,
It didn't matter to me because I go where I want to and that don't
matter, that don't matter to me.
I: What about your children, did, could all of those pass for white?
B: No! Let me tell you something. This one time we were at Lumberton
to get Sherman some glasses, you ought to get him to tell you
about this. So we were waiting, and he wanted to go down and get
him something, there was down under the, where the doctor's office
was, there was a drugstore. It's the William's paint place now,
but at that time there was a drugstore or something there that you
could get that. So he goes down on the elevator to get him some-
thing, come back up, and says, "Mother," said they didn't have
whatever it was, I don't know what it was now that he wanted. But
anyhow, I says, you go back and tell them that they have the, be-
cause I knew they did have whatever it was he wanted you know. So
he went back and they still said they were out of it. So I says,
well you stay here, I'll go and see about it. And I went down there
and I asked them for this particular thing, and they give it to me.
B: And I says, "Why didn't you give this to my children when they
asked for it?" And honey, they turned pale as a cotton. That's
one instance that I remember.
I: And, but they didn't answer your question?
B: No, they didn't say why.
I: So, but...
B: But they give it to me.
I: You feel that it's because your child looked...?
B: A little more Indian than I did, yeah, that's why.
I: More Indian, uh huh.
B: I didn't know I talked to you that long. You better ask me impor-
tant things then besides something like that.
I: What do you think of the Tuscarora movement here in the county?
Do you have any idea what these people are trying to accomplish?
B: I think they're a dumb bunch of people, trying to prove something
they can't prove.
I: What do you mean?
B: That they're a certain tribe. And e're : no particular tribe.
I: Then, you don't feel that the people here descended from ...
B: No more than they did from maybe some other tribe.
I: So you think perhaps that the people are descended from a number
B: Number of tribes.
I: And a number of tribes, including possibly Tuscarora?
B: Yeah, it might be some, but no, you know, no definite tribe.
Grandma's always told that. You see grandma was a Lowry, one was
her mother, and she knows all this stuff.
I: Your grandmother was a Lowry?
B: Um huh.
I: She was...
B: The recreation land, all that land belonged to her daddy. And we
didn't ever try to get it, and you know the government took it
over because nobody wouldn't claim it. But it was my grandma's
daddy's land. And he was first cousin to Henry Barry, same set of
people. And she could tell you all about that, but she said there
was different tribes that came through here.
I: What, as a girl growing up then, were you told stories of Henry
B: Oh yeahI-She said that he came by her house the last morning that
he was seen around here, and lifted her up in his arms. She was
a little girl, maybe five years,or something like that, old, and
he took her up in his arms like that. You know, and throwed her
up, you know how he was nice, likes little children.
I: Yes. Did she have any theory as to what happened to...
B: She thinks he went away, that's what she thinks.
I: Did she say how she thought that he went, went away?
B: No, but she don't think he was killed you know.
I: What did she think of Henry Barry, I mean how did she describe
him as a person?
B: She figured that he was right in his movement, you know, that he
was getting revenge for his mama and daddy's teeth being pushed
out. You'know how they said they pushed their teeth down their
throat and all that stuff.
I: What, what did you as a person, think of Henry Barry?
B: I thought he was wonderful. I'd have done the same thing.
I: Do you think he's had any lasting, do you think he accomplished
what he set out to do?
B: As near as he could, yes'. If he'd of had the backing he'd of_
I: Do you think there were any lasting effects of what he...?
B: Yeah, we'll always think about it you know, and feel like that he
had a right to do it. Don't you think so, really? I better mind
what I say. But I really feel like I'd have done the same thing,
you know, had I not been a Christian, I'd of went to bat just like
I: Would you, in the, today's society, are there certain wrongs, or
are there certain injustices you see that you think should be
B: Sure, but not in violence, if possible, not in violence,
I: Could you give me an example of something you see going on of this
nature that you don't approve of?
B: Well like in hospitals you know, they'll try to put you with
somebody you wouldn't want to be with rather than maybe Livermore's
daughter or somebody, a white or somebody like that. They put you
with some poor white person. I noticed that if you was in the
B: ...ward or something. You don't get the same.
I: Then Indians are always placed with the...
B: The low class white usually.
I: And if there's an upper class white, he's placed in with other upper
B: Yeah. I've noticed that.
I: Then they do this even to upper class whites?
B: Upper class Indians don't make no difference with them. I don't
know, a wealthiest Indian in Robeson County woudntt get no more
showing than one that weren't, as far as getting in the room with
say, that particular person.
I: If I mention double voting, what would that mean to you?
B: Like this in Lumberton? I think that it should be stopped. I'm for
I: Why, why, why do you feel this way?
B: Because, Lumberton's not supposed to vote twice and get better
things than the county people.
I: And you think they should vote only for their own school boards?
B: Yes, just their own schools.
I: Do you think this is why the school board in the past has been all
B: I expect-so.
B: And they have better schools too in Lumberton than we have. Because
they can pick better teachers.
I: Do you think a white person in Lumberton is concerned about Indian
schools in the county unit?
B: Why no, do you?
I: Then why do you think these people want to keep the right to vote
on Indian, on county unit schools?
B: To keep them down I guess, what else? Don't you reckon?
I: Then you feel that the administration of the county school unit
is more interested in suppression than education?
B: Yes, I certainly do.
I: And that predominantly Indian schools have, let's say, their
facilities are not as adequate as predominantly white schools?
B: And too, their teachers aren't. Because they've got a lot of things
to use they don't even'know how to use. And if they had the better
teachers, they'd know how to use those facilities.
I: Do you recall the first time an Indian ever ran for the county
board of education?
B: No, I don't remember.
I: Would it have, would it have been in the..,
B: I guess it was Harold West wasn't it? Wasn't he the first?
B: But I don't know what year.
I: Mr., Dr. Brooks and Reverend Harvey Lowry, were they the first,
B: I don't know, I don't remember. I thought Harry West was the first
I: What did you think when the general assembly expanded the county
school board from five to seven and added Mr. Harry West Locklear,
and Mr. Thurmond Anderson?
B: I thought that was nice, very good. At least we'd have a chance
to know what was going on that way.
I: And since then can you tell any change in the, have, has anything
improved for the better?
B: Yes, I think so. A little, but you see they usually have to go
along with them,* most of the things were grinded to a halt. I
know some instances where they did, or sad they did, I don't know.
I: Why do you think the legislature didn't do away with the double
voting in the, in this past session?
B: Because I reckon the white people overruled the, overruled it
don't you think?
I: Then you're saying that the white members of the legislature are
afraid of a backlash from their...?
B: Yeah, they wouldn't, wouldn't hardly let them do that.
I: Do you subscribe to the Robesonian?
B: Un uh, Charlotte.
I: You get the Charlotte, you don't get the Robesonian?
B: Un uh.
I: Could you tell me, perhaps why you don't subscribe to the
B: The reason, because I hear most of the news anyhow without taking
it. You know, the Robesonian, I mean the Charlotte Server gives
'you, you know, more of the national news and stuff like that.
B: I never did take the Robesonian. And I subscribed for this one
that Brenda has for, and sent it to Tony, he wanted it. Oh, he
reads every little thing he hears about people down here.
I: What do you think of law enforcement in general, in Robeson County?
Would you say it's adequate?
B: Well I, I'm afraid to say because I don't know much about it. You
know, not having no, you know, no dealings with the law. So I don't
I: Do you, would you think the sheriff's department has never dis-
criminated against Indians?
B: I expect they have.
I: In perhaps employment?
B: Um huh, I expect so.
I: You said that we as a group of Indians are probably an amalgamation
of various tribes. What do you think of the Lost Colony theory?
B: I just think they scattered you know, came down this way, and on
in to South Carolina and about.
I: You mean...
I: You mean the people from the Lost Colony?
B: Yes, I really do feel like they had you know.
I: So you think it's a combination. It's the Lost Colony, and they
merged in with a small...
I: Small groups.
I: Can you tell me, say the most exciting thing ever happened to you?
B: The most exciting? It would tickle you. That, that effected me
B: I guess it was when I finished college and looked back at the
back and saw Sherman there, and I thought he weren't going to be
I: In other words, your child was sharing in your, you graduation?
B: Yes, you see he had helped me to go to school. And he was in Cony
Island, New York, as a M.P., and I had wrote his commanding officer
to let him come, because he had helped me to accomplish this you
know. He said he didn't think he could, he hadn't been long coming
home you see, on his leave. And so I just decided,-you know, to
give it up, that he wasn't coming. And so his commanding officer
went to him that night and told him that he could come on, and he
END OF INTERVIEW