Interview with Mabel Cray, 2014 October 24

Material Information

Interview with Mabel Cray, 2014 October 24
Cary, Mabel ( Interviewee )
Teagle, Robert ( Interviewer )
Nichols, Annemarie ( Interviewer )
Justice, Mariah ( Interviewer )
Samuel Proctor Oral History Program
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Physical Description:
Oral history interview


Subjects / Keywords:
Tidewater Main Street Development Project
Spatial Coverage:
United States of America -- Virginia -- Mathews


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To access audio version of this interview, click the Downloads tab at the top of the page.

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UF Samuel Proctor Oral History Program
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UF Samuel Proctor Oral History Program
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TMP 060 Mabel Cray 10-24-2014 ( SPOHP )


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The Foundation for The Gator Nation An Equal Opportunity Institution Samuel Proctor Oral History Program College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Program Director : Dr. Paul Ortiz Office Manager : Tamarra Jenkins 241 Pugh Hall Digital Humanities Coordinator : Deborah Hendrix PO Box 115215 Gainesville, FL 32611 352 392 7168 35 2 846 1983 Fax The Samuel Proctor Oral History Program (SPOHP) was founded by Dr. Samuel Proctor at the University of Florida in 1967. Its original projects were collections centered around Florida history with the purpose of preserving eyewitness acc ounts of economic, social, political, religious and intellectual life in Florida and the South. In the 45 years since its inception, SPOHP has collected over 5,000 interviews in its archives. Transcribed interviews are available through SPOHP for use by research scholars, students, journalists, and other interested groups. Material is frequently used for theses, dissertations, articles, books, documentaries, museum displays, and a variety of other public uses. As standard oral history practice dictates, S POHP recommends that researchers refer to both the transcript and audio of an interview when conducting their work. A selection of interviews are available online here through the UF Digital Collections and the UF Smathers Library system. Suggested corrections to transcripts will be reviewed and processed on a case by case basis. Oral history int erview t ranscripts available on the UF Digital Collections may be in draft or final format. SPOHP transcribers create interview transcripts by listen ing to the ori ginal oral history interview recording and typing a verbatim d ocument of it. The transcript i s written with careful attention to reflect original grammar and word choice of each interviewee; s ubjective or editorial changes are not made to their speech. The draft trans cript can also later undergo a final edit to ensure accuracy in spelling and form at I nterviewees can also provide their own spelli ng corrections SPOHP transcribers refer to the Merriam program specific transcribing style guide, accessible For more information abo ut SPOHP, visit or call the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program office at 352 392 7168. May 2015


TMP 060 Interviewee: Mabel Cray Interviewers: Robert Teagle, Annemarie Nichols, and Mariah Justice Date: October 24, 2014 N: Good morning. This is Annemarie Nichols and Mariah Justice, and we are interviewing Mrs. Mabel Cray. It is October 24, 2014. So, can you tell us what day you were born, Mrs. Cray? C: N: When were you born? C: Oh. Twenty ninth of September 1917. N: Wonderful. Can you tell us a little bit about your parents? What did your parents do for a living and what were they like? C: What were they like? N: m. What were your parents like? C: Well, I guess they were different. My T: What did your dad do? C: N: What kind of plants C: North of [inaudible 1:40 ] that time. J: How about your mom? Did your mother do any thing or did she work in the home? C:


TMP 060; Cray; Page 2 J: What did your mom do? Did your mom have a job? C: Did she have what? J: A job. C: Unh uh. In the kitchen [soft laughter] J: Her job is in the kitchen. N: Can you tell us a little bit about what you all did on the farm? C: Oh yes It was just a quiet place T: Did you have cows? What kind of animals did you raise? C: Mules. [laugh ter ] N: Mules? Did you all -C: Horses. N: Did you all plant crops? What kind of crops did you plant? C: Cop? N: Plants. T: Crops. C: Oh, Crops. [P erson speaks and leaves the room] C: Mostly, I think, corn. see.


TMP 060; Cray; Page 3 N: Did you have any siblings? Did you have any brothers and sisters? C: Yeah, I had a brother. N: You had one brother? C: Uh huh. J: What wa s his name? C: What was his name? J: His name. Um hm. C: Wilson. J: Wilson? C: B ut everyb ody called him Pete. [L aughter] J: What did your brother do? C: What did he do? He worked on a ferry boat from Cape Charles to Norfolk. J: w up? C: Mathews. J: You grew up in Mathews? C: Um hm. J: Can you tell me what that was like? What was Mathews like? Was it a small town? C: Uh huh.


TMP 060; Cray; Page 4 J: It was a small town. T: Tell them how many people lived in your house. You were born in the same house you lived in your whole life, right? C: Yeah. T: Who else lived there? C: Still there. [L aughter] T: Who else lived there with you? C: Well I think we had Moth er and Father and Grandfather The whole family. N: What were your grandparents like? C: What was his name? N: Uh huh. C: His name was Norman, and of course, we were all of that same family. [T hroat cle aring ] J: Can you tell me about this picture? Was that when you graduated high school? C: That was graduation, I think. J: What high school did you graduate from? What was the name of it? C: Lee Jackson N: Where was Lee Jackson High School located? C: Well, it was in the courthouse area. [Coughing]


TMP 060; Cray; Page 5 J: C: Uh huh. J: What did you do there on Saturday nights at the courthouse? C: What did we do? J: Yeah. C: Well [B ackground noises] N: So c an you tell us a little bit about the courthouse? What you all did on Saturday nights at the courthouse in the community? C: Walk up and down. [L aughter] Up and d own the streets, but it was full because at that time. J: walk around the town? C: Unh huh. J: Just walk around the town. T: Were there a lot of cars there? Did some people have cars? C: Yeah. It was full on re was nothing else at that time T: Did they have dances, too? C: No. I don like sort


TMP 060; Cray; Page 6 N: How was the interactions with boys and girls? Did they date? C: Oh yeah. They met and sat t ogether N: H ow exactly did they date back then? Did they hang out on Saturday nights at the courthouse? C: Yeah, right. T: You talk about a lot of boys in your diary. Rob and Carol and C: Oh, yeah. [L aughter] T: Where was Gran d re you? C: Unh huh. No, but there were a lot. [L aughter] N: Can you tell us what you did? Some activities you did with your friends? C: Activities? N: C: ink we really had that here T: Would you travel? If you an d your friends traveled somewhere, where would you go? C: Usually, Saturday night t he area around the courthouse would be very active. [Clock chimes] T: Were people selling things up there? C: Oh yeah. It was the area.


TMP 060; Cray; Page 7 N: What kind of things did they sell? C: I reckon it was a part of the area we lived in. N: Farmers selling crops and fishermen selling fish? C: Uh huh. J: C: Uh h uh J: In what way did you eat them? Did yo em? What did you do? C: T: You used to always tell me about the holidays and how pe ople would come and stay and how much you would eat. C: Oh yes. T: Can you talk about that a little bit? C: Well, we always made a fruitcake. I had around a b owl I had. You put a sort of a [inaudible 14:17] look ed to that. T: What about hogs and things like that? Do you remember when they would slaughter hogs? C: Oh yeah.


TMP 060; Cray; Page 8 N: Can you tell us about those experiences? C: Huh? N: Can you tell us about a hog killing? C: [Laughter] T: Did they do that at your house? C: Oh yeah. Daddy it Boy, we had wolves in our trees They did that a good way from the house. N: Did your father raise the hogs? C: Uh huh. T: Now, did he kill them or were there people that came from house to house killing them? C: No. Just him at our house. T: Your father would slaughter them? C: Well, they had a certain man would do that. T: C: Well, every house would have somebody that would do it. N: Was there a specific time of the year that he would slaughter the hogs? C: Uh huh. Yes. N: When was it?


TMP 060; Cray; Page 9 C: After it got cold. J: So in the winter time? C: They made it cure. N: Do you remember how he did that? How he cured the hog? C: I guess it was important, but anyway, they were products T: C: Oh yeah. T: Still there, right ? C: Yeah. Still there. N: Did you all slaughter cows or chickens? C: Oh yes. My brother had a cow and had chickens and T : What kind of work did your father have you do when you were little? Did you have to take care of the chickens and stuff like that? C: Oh yeah. T: What did he make you do? C: N: Can you tell us abo ut the people in this photograph? This little girl is you, right? C: aughter] Got a little bow on. J: Were you playing with


TMP 060; Cray; Page 10 C: J: Who are these? C: It looks like a buggy. J: Did you play with the buggy? C: And my Annie is s e t on the seat T: Is that at your house? C: Uh huh. T: How long did you live in that house? C: T: Your whole life, though, right? C: g to the photograph] Painting the fence. T: You painted the fence? C: Oh yeah I was always painting it. T: Who painted that? C: We did. J: C: [L aughter] J:


TMP 060; Cray; Page 11 N: Did you or your mother Sorry, go ahead C: She still has a hat on. T: Is that on the ferry boat? C: Could be. I got a hat on. [L aughter] N: Did you and your mother make the dresses that you wore? C: J: t? Is that where that was [C oughing] C: strange. [L T: I think you told me, Nana, that was on the Cape Charles Ferry. C: Uh huh. Probably. T: Did you ride that with your dad? C: Cape Charles Ferry. N: Do you remember where you would ride the ferry to? C: Do I remember? N: Do you remember where the ferry would take you? C: Oh yeah. Cape Charles to Norfolk. N: What would you do in Norfolk?


TMP 060; Cray; Page 12 C: What would I do? N: C: We enjoyed the trip. N : Can you tell us what you did in Norfolk? C: What we saw in Norfolk? N: C: T: Why would you take the ferry? C: Nor you I guess. T: During the war? C: Um hm. T: d daddy go to Norfolk for your honeymoon? C: Yeah, p robably [L aughter] T: Can you talk about that? Gran d daddy always told me tha very long, did you? C: No. And the gas was hard to come by. T: Can you tell them about that? Did he have to trade to get gas stamps or something?


TMP 060; Cray; Page 13 C: Yeah. N: Wh at did he trade to get gas stamps? T: How did Gran d da ddy get the gas to go to Norfolk? [Background noises] C: People would join in and help. T: People would give him their stamps? C: Yeah. J: This was during the war? You needed the stamps? T: How long did you spend in Norfolk on your honeymoon? C: I think two days. T: Did Gran d daddy have to go back to sea? C: Yep. T: What was he doing during the war? C: He was at sea on a boat. T: Was he in the Merchant Marine? N: How did rationing affect you in Virginia? In Mathews? T: Nana, how did during t C: Yeah.


TMP 060; Cray; Page 14 T: What was that like? C: [L aughter] I was only able to get a certain amount of J: You could only get certain amounts of things? Like what? Could you not get a lot of meat or not get a lot of gas? T: What kinds of things did they ration? C: [C N: Do you remember any great, outstanding events in Mathews that ever happened? Do you have any specific memories? C: No, think so. N: Do you remember any big hurricanes or anything that came through? Can you tell us a little bit about that? C: T: What was the big hurricane in the 1960s? Do you remember that one ? C: Yeah. I remember. T: I saw one thing in your diary wher e you talked about buying yarn to make your own dress. Did you all make your own dresses? C: Yeah. N: Can you tell us about that process of making your own dresses?


TMP 060; Cray; Page 15 C: You bought enough to make a dress. You had to [inaudible 29:15] N: Did you sew with other people? C: My aunt did. All the time. [L aughter] N: What sort of things did she make? C: What? N: Did she make dresses or quilts? C: T: What did you we ar when you were married? Where did you get that dress? C: t remember exactly, but I think . T: [Referring to photograph] Do you know who that is? C: Jeneal. T: Jeneal. J: C: Neal. T: Can you tell them who s he was? C: Yeah. Uh huh. T: Who was she? C:


TMP 060; Cray; Page 16 N: Who is Linwood? T: C: Linwood was my husband. J: Your husband? N: How did you meet him? C: Well, he was a part of t he family, the other part. N: Did you know him growing up? C: Oh yes. J: Is that a picture of him on the right? C: Um hm. J: C: J: C: Um a closest friend on our porch. J: Which house? Is that his house? C: Uh hm. T: How did you decide to after you, too? How did you decide on Linwood? You had a couple other boys


TMP 060; Cray; Page 17 C: w. [L aughter] T: Do you remember what year you were married? C: 1917, I believe. N: What was it like being married? What was your married life like? What kind of duties did you have as a wife? C: What kind? N: What did you do as a wife in your household? C: aughter] N: Did you have a job? C: Oh yeah. N: What was your job? C: It was in Norfolk. A public welfare. N: Can you tell us a little bit about what you did in the public welfare job? C: aughter] T: Were you a secretary? C: Yeah. J: Did you go to school for the job? How did you get the job as a secretary? C: Well, I started working, and it just came to me. It was a part of my living I had. N: Was that job in Mathews?


TMP 060; Cray; Page 18 C: Yeah. N: Do you remember your boss? C: T: Did you used to go to the Tab ernacle? C: Um hm. T: Can you tell them about what you did there? C: We had bag dinners work T: Evangelistic. C: It was a lot of training and a lot of trying to witnessing. J: Was church a big part of your life? C: What church? J: Was church a bi g part of your life? C: It was church S aying it to understand what life is about. T: Can you tell them what you did at your church for many years? C: Played the piano. N: Oh wow. What church did you go to? C: Methodist. N: What kind of hymns did you play? Can you tell us a little bit about playing the piano at the church?


TMP 060; Cray; Page 19 C: aughter] T: food and stay all day? How did that work? C: Sometimes th it was fall. It was a different day. N: Did you all have services like a revival or something at the Tabernacle? C: Um hm. Yeah. T: Where were the ministers coming from? Do you remember? C: Oh yes. T hey came from everywhere. T: C: No. N: Did a lot of people from outside of Mathews come to the Tabernacle? C: Yeah. J: Was it a big church? A lot of people? N: Were you married at that church? T: Where was your wedding? C: have any big one. [L aughter] T: Where was it? At your house or at the church? C: Bethel.


TMP 060; Cray; Page 20 T: At Bethel? What did you eat on your honeymoon? Where did you all go in Norfolk? Do you remember what you ate? C: Yea h. We . N: s a spoon ring. C: T: Pretty. N: I got it in Scotland. Do you remember what you had to eat in Norfolk on your honeymoon? C: On the boat? N: C: Yeah. I [inaudible 42:01] friends and local, whateve r that was. T: What did you do while Granddaddy was at sea? C: I was still working. I kept working. T: Did you still have your mother and father living in the house? C: Um mh. T: How many people lived there all together? C: I think all together I at the moment. [L aughter] T: C: Yeah. It was a lot.


TMP 060; Cray; Page 21 T: Was Ellen born in the house or at the hospital? C: At the hospital. N: How many children did you have? C: One. N: Her name was Ellen? C: How old? N: Her name was Ellen? C: Uh huh. Yeah. Right. N: When was she born? C: When was she born? N: C: T: [W hispers] In 1946. N: In 1946? C: Uh [Referring to a photograph of her daughter] T: J: Is that her school photo? T: [W hispers] She passed away last March. [Full volume] Nana, who is this guy?


TMP 060; Cray; Page 22 C: [L aughter] He was my boyfriend. T: Was he your boyfriend b efore Linwood? C: Uh huh. T: You talk about him in the diary. C: I reckon. N: What was his name? C: aughter] T: Was he as good looking as Granddaddy? C: Inaudible 45:21] Shot down T: Do you remember C: T: He is. Do you remember seeing him at the courthouse? C: Oh yeah. T: C: [L aughter] Oh me. T: Did he get in the car with you and stuff or did you get in the car with him? C: I guess so. [L au ghter] T: Was he disappointed when you decided to marry Linwood?


TMP 060; Cray; Page 23 C: [L aughter] T: What about that picture? Is that your wedding dress or . ? C: I guess it must be. N: Did you make it? T: Did you make that dress? Do you remember? C: No. Unh uh. T: No? What about this one? C: T: [Referring to a photograph] Where is that? Do you know? With that big swing? C: Under the tree at, um . T: that lady? C: T: Is that your mother? C: It looks like her. N: C: T: How did she use that pocket? T: How did she use that pocket?


TMP 060; Cray; Page 24 C: T: What was her name? C: Sadie. S a d i e. N: Were you very close with your mother? T: Were you and your mom close? C: Oh yes. Very close. J: Did she teach you how to sew? How to make dresses? C : U m hm. N: Did you all cook together? You mentioned she was in the kitchen a lot. T: Did you cook a lot with your mother? C: Yeah. Um hm. N: What did you all cook? C: Oh, well, we had chicken some, on the farm. N: Did your mother slaughter the chickens fresh? C: Um hm. N: Did you ever do that? [S omeone speaking in the background] C: Um hm. [L aughter]


TMP 060; Cray; Page 25 T: You killed some of the chickens? C: Oh yeah. T: C: Cut their heads off. J: Were you scared to slaughter the chicken? C: Yeah. J: You were a little scared? But you were brave and did it anyway. [S peaking in the background] N: Did you have to [C oughing] Hey, Mrs. Cray, how would you cook the chickens? C: N: What would you eat with the fried chicken? C: [L aughter] J: N: Do you have any o ther memories? Anything else you wanna add? C: [L aughter] I reckon they were T: Do you remember the story you told me about your who was it who walked home from Appomattox? C: I believe it was T: Was he by himself or d id he walk with somebody else?


TMP 060; Cray; Page 26 C: No, I think he had somebody with him. T: Had he been hurt during the war? C: remember, but he walked home. [L aughter] N: What side was he on? What side did he fight for? C: The South. T: He walked from Appomattox back to Mathews? J: Did it take him a long time? C: Uh huh T: Did you know him? C: Uh huh. N: Do you remember his name? [Whispering in the background] T: Can you tell us more about the mules that your dad had? Do you remember the mules? C: Oh yeah. T: What were they like? C: They were very kind. T: Kind? They were nice to you? C: Yeah.


TMP 060; Cray; Page 27 T: What did he hook up behind them? C: aughter] T: Did he have plows and stuff behind them? C: I guess so. N: Is that how he would plow his cornfields? Did he sell his mules to anyone? [Mrs. Cray shakes her head no] No? T: Was that the field right by your house? C: Yeah. All my days I remember that. T: [S hows Mrs. Cray a photograph] Do you remember that? C: Oh yeah. Very [I naudible 54:15] T: You look like Rebecca there. C: [L sisters were his children. T: How old are you there, d o you think? C: Not real old. T: You gave your granddaughter your nice legs. C: [Laughter] T: Do you know how old you were there, you think? C:


TMP 060; Cray; Page 28 N: Did you keep those children? C: I remembered Trench hill T probably. N: Did you used to babysit children? C: Well, I reckon you could call it that. T: C: That was Jeneal. T: Do you remember her wedding day? C: Uh huh. T: Were you in the wedding? C: Just the two of them. T: Where were they married? C: At the Baptist parsonage. T: At the Baptist parsonage? N: Who did she marry? C: Her church I know she was happy, so. Sh kno w how long. For a while. Recovering [C oughing] f itting it T: What did she have? Why was she in the hospital? C: She had TB.


TMP 060; Cray; Page 29 N: Tuberculosis? That was before she got married? C: Uh huh. T: Did she ever have Poli o? C: No. Unh uh. J: Just TB? N: Did anyone else get sick with Tuberculosis or Polio in your family or around in the community? T: You have all these you talk about Rob a lot in your diary. Do you remember writing some of this? C: No. T: Look at the year. Who was Vincent? Do you remember Vincent? This says you went downtown to see Shanghai C: [L aughter] T: Was that a movie? C: I guess so. N: Did you all have a movie theater in Mathews? C: Did we have a miniature? T: A movie theater. C: Oh, no.


TMP 060; Cray; Page 30 J: Where did you go to watch movies? T: Wh ere did you go to see movies? [I ntercom call] C: I don aughter] [S peaking in the background] T: Did you have a telephone? C: Yeah. N: Woul d Rob call you on the telephone? C: Oh yeah. T: Did you go to school every day? What was school like when you were a kid? C: Yeah. Even if I was sick. [Laughter] T: How did you get there? C: Bus. T: By bus? C: I had to walk to the end of the road to catch it. T: How far a walk was that? C: N: How many people were in your class?


TMP 060; Cray; Page 31 C: J: Was it a small school that you went to? C: Yeah. T: ts. Oliver came after me in C: Evidently. T: Who was Oliver? See, it says Oliver came after me. Was that another boy that liked you? C: [L aughter] J: T: that is? C: Yeah. T: Who was Old Mama C: That was my grandmother. T: Your grandmother? N: T: Is th


TMP 060; Cray; Page 32 C: Um hm. T: This was during the holidays. Would they come over during the holidays and eat? C: Yeah. N: Did other relatives come? C: Uh huh. N: Did you all celebrate Easter or Thanksgiving together as well? Do you remember those c elebrations? T: Do you remember going to Haven Beach? C: Oh yeah. T: What did you do there? C: [inaudible 1:02:44] and walked a aughter] T: C: No. T: Would you still get in the water? N: Did you have swimsuits that you wore? C: Huh? N: Did you all have special bathing suits you made? T: Did you have bathing suits? Is that where a lot of kids would go? To Haven Beach?


TMP 060; Cray; Page 33 C: Yeah. T: Where were you when you all heard about Pearl Harbor? Do you remember? C: T: Do you have any other memories of the war? C: Yes You had to learn hard at that time. N: Do you remember any of them? C: I remember . very upset at me. T: Do you remember anybody from Mathews who se sons were killed during the war? C: No. Not that I think. N: Did anyone in Mathews work in shipyards building boats for the army or the navy? C: N: T: I just saw where you all were talking about making ice cream. Did you all do that a lot? Homemade ice cream? How did you do that? Do you remember? C: What did it say? T: It said you made ice cream. See, it says, made ice cream. Hazel Woodford and Merritt came tonight.


TMP 060; Cray; Page 34 C: It was on a Friday. [L aughter] T: You went to the courthouse that night. Would you take the ice cream up there? C: Oh . [Coughs ] Excuse me. T: Did you do embroidery? N: What would you embroider? T: What kind of things would you embroider? C: Probably friends. T: No, what did you embroider? C: Pillows. N: Would you give them away to people? You have any other memories? Anything else you want to add? No? Thank you so much for letting us interview y ou. We learned a lot of stuff. C : Yeah. [ End of interview ] Transcribed by: Annemarie Nichols January 26, 2015 Audit edited by : Kyle Bridge February 2, 2015 Final edited by: Kyle Bridge February 2, 2015