Title: Interview with Elsie Mae Blue (November 19, 1973)
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00007127/00001
 Material Information
Title: Interview with Elsie Mae Blue (November 19, 1973)
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Publication Date: November 19, 1973
Spatial Coverage: Lumbee County (Fla.)
Funding: This text has been transcribed from an audio or video oral history. Digitization was funded by a gift from Caleb J. and Michele B. Grimes.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00007127
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, Department of History, University of Florida
Holding Location: This interview is part of the 'Lumbee County' collection of interviews held by the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program of the Department of History at the University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: LUM 140

Table of Contents
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Full Text


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and the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program on
behalf of the Board of Trustees of the University of

Copyright, 2005, University of Florida.
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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?

E: No.

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.

B: B-a-i-l-e-y?

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.

B: M-a-x-t-o-n.

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: 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,



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.


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