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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida
Barton interview w/
Mrs. Elsie Mae Blue
Nov. 19, '73 typist: Wells
B: This is November 19, 1973, I'm Lew Barton, interviewing for
the Doris Duke Foundation, the University of Florida's His-
tory Department's American Indian Oral History Program. To-
day we are in my home in Pembroke, North Carolina, and
with me is Mrs. Elsie Mae Blue, who has kindly consented
to give me an interview.
Mrs. Blue, how do you spell your name?
E: E-l-s-i-e M-a-e B-l-u-e.
B: How old are you?
E: Well, ladies don't never like to tell their age.
B: Well, I think g that's a good answer. I've always heard that
anyway. Where is your home?
E: I live on Route 3 in Maxton, North Carolina.
B: You're not married, are you?
E: No, I'm a widow.
B: How many children do you have?
E: I have three children, one boy and two girls.
B: Would you mind giving us their names and ages?
E: Well, my son is Ronald Blue who is/supervisor in construction
work, and Linda Blue, who is,she works at the courthouse in
Lumberton, and my baby daughter, Maxine, she is an airline
stewardess and an RN nurse, and presently she's working at
Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
LUM4 A e. Blue
B: Do you remember their ages?
B: We can stop and wait and let you figure it up if you want to.
You know, ages are always changing and I never could keep up
with them. It's pretty hard to keep up with my own, it
goes by so fast. Want to start with Ronald?
E: Yeah. Ronald will be thirty-five, November the 24th, 1973.
He was born 1938. And Linda, she was born about December 4,
1943. And Maxine, she was born Mayc27, 1950.
B: Is that all of them?
E: That's all of them.
B: Who was your husband?
E: My husband was Thomas Blue.
B: And how long has he been deceased?
E: About eight years this past July 25.
B: Well, that's too bad. What do you do know?
E: Well, I've retired now. I've been working for the past six years,
but I've eye surgery three times this year and I've retired.
B: You were working at PSU?
E: That's right. I worked at PSU for six years. I've had a
cornea transplant and two cataract surgeries so my children
decided that I'd had enough so I'd better quit work and
B: Were those operations successful?
E: Yery--t z successful. Dr. Bailey at Lumberton Southeastern General
Hospital, he's the one Wto did the surgery, and he thinks
LUM 10I A Elsie Blue
that he did as good as any .anot jr-t'g" or better,
'cause they've all been real good.
B: That's Dr. Bailey?
E: Dr. Bailey. John R. Bailey at Lumberton.
E: That's right.
B: Well, that's interesting because people have made great pro-
gress in the field of blindness and visual corrections withiA
recent years. But they haven't gone nearly far enough, we're
just starting, aren't we?
E: That's right. My vision now with my glasses, my cataract
glasses is 20-20 for reading, and 20-30 for distance.
B: Gee, that's great. That's very encouraging too, to other
people who have visual handicaps. Sometimes -miracled-do
happen, don't they?
E: They certainly do. The donor who gave my cornea transplant
was about forty years old. The doctor thought if he used a
younger person for an older one, it would work better. And
so he thinks mine has worked very, very well.
B: Well, that's great. I didn't know that the ages had anything
to do with it.
E: Well, he says that the younger the person, the better chance,
you know, they have of, of it working' well. 'Cause he
could have gotten somebody seventy or eighty several f weeks
before he did, but he wouldn't take somebody that old: he
wanted somebody about forty, not, in their forties, so that S
LUM 4WA Elsie Blue
what he got.
B: Where did you attend school at, Mrs. Blue?
E: Prospect High School.
B: And that's out on Maxton, Route 3, right?
E: / Right. On Maxton, Route 3.
E: That's right.
B: I spell these names for the benefit of our girls who type this
and we odn't want to make it too hard for them to type. Tell
me something about Maxine. How's she doing?
E: Well, Maxin&'s doing fine; she was home the weekend and this
is, shall we say, vacation time for airline stewardnesses.
They don't do much flying this time of the year so they take
their vacation during this time or they go back to their
regular job and work or just stay/if they can afford it here
and fly once in a while. But being an RN nurse for several
years she decided she would come back to Chapel Hill and work
there for a while. I don't know whether she'll go back or not
or whether she's going to like it so well she'll stay. She
seems to not be able to make up her mind which she likes. She
can do either one. She was working with the Pan Am Airlines
and she was doing ... these 6.e flights and, like London,
Paris and all those places. France, Germany and all of those.
B: Well, she, she gets to fly all over the world then, doesn't
E: Yeah. Very much She has flown alot of different places.
LUMrad A Elsie Blue
5 S.0-4 -
I really don't remember all, you know, But
she's went alot of places. And she enjoyed it while she
was doing it but being a nurse she said an airline steward-
ess is something like, you know, you don't see anything
you're doing. So she wanted to go back to nursing for a
while where she could see something she was doing, and
helping sick people and something like that.
B: Have you always lived in'Luamerta n County?
E: Yes, I have.
B: If you had the chance to have one wish to change anything
in L-bAaeon County, what do you think that would be?
E: I really don't know. I think I would have to think about
it before I could decide. All of a sudden I don't know.
I think we've improved alot over the years in all of the various
fields Cft 50 On I'd hardly know what to wish for
all of a sudden.
B: Well, maybe you'll think about something that you'd like to
see changed a little bit later on. Are you a very religious
person, Mrs. Blue?
E: Yes, very much.
B: Where do you go to church?
E: I go to Preston Gospel Chapel.
B: Do you want to tell us something about your group?
E: Well, no,I don't think so. f/I $ -41 5 tiIwe call our-
selves non-denominational. Of course that would be alot of
LUM 4 A E. Blue
explaining so I won't if try to go into that.
B: Well, this is your show.
E: Ye*, but I guess I better close it because I've got to run.
B: Well, I certainly appreciate your talking to us as long as
you have. It was/very interesting, very enlightening interview
E: Well, it's been very nice talking' so, I'll say goodbye now.
B: Ok. And thanks alot then.
E: You're welcome. Bye, bye.
B: I'll inject a footnote here. Mrs. Blue was a little bit nervous,
but we're appreciative of this interview, short as it was.
She is an example of some of the improvements made in the
field of blindness and I think it's very important /c people
are well-informed on thise matters. I'm deeply interested
in the subject of blindness because on September 10, 1950, I
lost my vision totally) and it was feared permanently in an
auto accident. Following that mishap I went to Buckner,
North Carolina to the School for the Blind and there for
a time took training and travel in Braille, and dicta-
phone work and other things. But most importantly I think
I received much comfort from the other people who were
blind. Of course I was totally blind; I had not even light
perception, but gradually a field, a very tiny field, of about
one degree, was restored. And any vision at all is better
than no vision. Ray Charles, the blind musician and singer,
LUM T A E. BLUE
a very famous man, remarked several years ago on a tele-
vision program: "the only trouble with beinblind is you
can't see." I'm always cautious that I do for the news-
papers because I don't A want people to be too optimistic about
blindness because the battle is definitely not won. Oc-
cashionally you do read stories about huge successes; people
who have ... overcome their handicap and who have succeeded
in spite of their blindness. A person who is blind can do
anything which doesn't require sight--it's that simple. But
I think the public is desperately in need of education with
reference to blind people. Some blind people are quite
well-adjusted and others never adjust at all. Th4troubl&:
with an over optimistic picture about blindness is that, that
sooner or later it leads to the restriction of funds for the
training and education- of the blind. I know one person who
is blind, who became a judge. ,A personal friend of mine, Al
Right, R-i-g-h-t, is a Ph.D. in the field of English and the
last account I had of him was teaching.; a--;
In the state of North Carolina we have the North Carolina
State commission for the Blind. And it was under this or-
ganization that I received my last three years of college, and
attained my Masters degree in English. But in this state
the effort is divided. For example the North Carolina State
Department of Public Instruction is fully in charge of operating
the Governor Morehead School, in Raleigh, which is the
state school for blind children. But all adult programs are
under another agency and that is the North Carolina State
Commission for the Blind. Programs for the blind in this
state as well as in other states are supported by the Lions
Club, L-i-o-n-s, who are very active in their support of
blind programs. We have perhaps some three hundred blind
people in robeson County alone. In the state of North Carolina
we have 12,000 known blind people. Of course this includes
the totally blind, as well as the commercially blind. A com-
mercially blind person is one who is not able to read or
work in a regular way to the extent of earning a living. On
the other hand there are some totally blind people hwo don't
qualify simply becuase they're not in need of aids for the
blind, they have made themselves self-sufficient, so to
speak, and there are a very encouraging number of those.
The case worker for the blind in Robeson county is Mrs.
Harriet McLeod, that's M-c-L-e-o-d.
End of footnote, end of interview.