Citation
Interview with Mildred Blue, 1983-04-26

Material Information

Title:
Interview with Mildred Blue, 1983-04-26
Creator:
Blue, Mildred ( Interviewee )
Publication Date:
Language:
English

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Catawba Indians -- Florida
Kataba Indians -- Florida
Catawba Oral History Collection ( local )

Notes

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

Source Institution:
Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, Department of History, University of Florida
Holding Location:
This interview is part of the 'Catawba' collection of interviews held by the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program of the Department of History at the University of Florida
Rights Management:
Made available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 4.0 International license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/.
Resource Identifier:
CAT 156 Mildred Blue 4-26-1983 ( SPOHP IDENTIFIER )

Downloads

This item has the following downloads:


Full Text


























UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA

ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM


INTERVIEWEE: Mildred Blue

INTERVIEWER: Emma Echols


April 26, 1983












Mildred Blue
CAT 156A


CATAWBA INDIANS, ORAL HISTORY PROJECT
INTERVIEWER: EMMA ECHOLS
PLACE OF INTERVIEW: ROCK HILL, SOUTH CAROLINA
DATE OF INTERVIEW: April 26, 1983

Mildred Blue is a Catawba Indian women who, along with her mother,
makes and sells pottery. Mrs. Blue grew up on the reservation. She
remembers her elementary school teachers taught her to read and write. She
went to high school alongwith four or five other Catawba teenagers, and
she was the first Catawba Indian to graduate from Rock Hill. She speaks
highly of her former teachers and she feels she learned a lot while at the
school.


After finishing school, she worked for a while at Rock Hill Stone and
Furnishing Company she the left the company to help her mother make pottery.
The remainder of the interview is devoted to Mrs. Blue telling about the
processes used in making pottery. Mrs. Blue and her mother give
demonstrations of their work in exhibits they have at different times of
the year. She is proud of her pottery-making skill and she states it is
something that has been handed down from generation to generation among the
Catawbas.









E: I am visiting in the home of Doris Blue and her daughter, Mildred Blue.
Mildred is a very unusual person because I believe she is the first
person to graduate from the Rock Hill High School, I will let Mildred
tell you more about herself. Mildred, give me your full name and address.

B: Mildred Louise Blue, Route 3, Box 309, Rock Hill.

E: In your early days, did you live right here in this house with your
mother?

B: Not the same house but in the same location.

E: Then you attended school on the reservation?

B: That is right,

E: Tell me what you remember about your school days on the reservation.
Who were your teachers?

B: Elder James Davis was my first teacher. And then Willard Hayes.
Then we had some assistant teachers, Samuel Bay, Elsie George, Georgia
Harris.

E: Did you do anything special at school? Do you remember any special
subjects that you liked?

B: No.

E: You always came home for lunch, I am sure.

B: Yes. For a couple years we had a lunch program, but most of the time we
came home for lunch,

E: The roads were very poor down here then. It was difficult even for the
mail carrier to get through here wasn't it?

B: Yes it was.

E: What grade were you out there?

B: Seventh.

E: And then you went to high school?

B: It started inthe eighth grade.

E: Tell me about that. How did you travel to high school?

B: The first year I rode with Irving Gordon in an old Model A or Model T,
I am not sure which. It was a real old car. He had a daughter going to
high school, too. He would take us and bring us back.





2




E: What was her name?

B: Gladys Gordon.

E: She is not living any longer?

B: No.

E: She is the one that made very beautiful pottery, wasn't she? Was
that Eliza?

B: Eliza was her mother. She made the pretty, beautiful pottery. Gladys
made some, but Eliza made more than some.

E: How many of you were in that class going from the reservation to the
high school? Do you remember?

B: Four or five,

E: Do you remember any of the other names?

B: Florence Harris. Gladys Gordon. Martha Lee Harris.

E: Now were there any boys?

B: Gary Wade and William Watts.

E: How vere you received by the teachers? Were they good to you?

B: The teachers were good to us.

E: Did you take anything like home economics or sewing, or anything of
that kind?

B: Yes.

E: You liked that?

B: I like the cooking pretty good. But I do not like to sew.

E: Now, you sometimes would have to take money to pay expenses. Did you
have any trouble getting money for your expenses?

B: Well, at that time, the state appropriated money for your school supplies--
your books, pencils, and paper.

E: Well, what teachers do you remember at the high school?





3



B: Ernest Jones, Hayward Carr, and Mrs. Ward, I do not remember her first
name. Then there were Candy Riding and Arabella Gill,

E: Oh, yes. Those were English teachers. You must have been good in
English.

B: Ms. Gill was Algebra, and Mrs. Ward and Mrs. Riding were English.

E: What did Mr. Jones teach you?

B: Civics, I believe.

E: And who was the principal of your school at that time?

B: Mr. Sullivan.

E: When you had assembly programs and got together, did all of you
Indians sit together? Did you have white friends?

B: Well, all of the Indians were in the same home room.

E: Who were your special friends?

B: I had one, Holly Williams, who works, I think, for the Rock Hill
Furniture Company now. And the Salmon girl. Her father, Jake
Salmon ran a junkyard or a scrap metal place in Rock Hill. But
anyway, we girls went from down here to school.

E: Then how did you come home in the afternoon? Same way?

B: Same way.

E: What about homework? Did you have a lot of studying to do at night?

B: Yes. I had to do it in the evening. We had no electricity. We used
kerosene lamps.

E: At your reservation school, had you ever used slates and pencils?

B: We always had pencils and things.

E: By that time, you always had that. Now, when graduation time came near,
that meant caps and gowns and programs and practicing for it. What do
you remember about getting ready for your graduation?

B: Well, now I think you would call it a rehearsal. The morning that we
graduated, we had assembly and we had to practice walking across the
stage and receiving our diploma.





4



E: Was Mr. Sullivan the one to give you the diploma or was it a member
of the board?

B: Mr. Sullivan, I believe. Cannot remember right not exactly, but I
believe it was Mr. Sullivan.

E: What was your feeling when you walked across the stage for the first
time to get your diploma and were you the first one?

B: I cannot remember exactly, but I was kind of nervous.

E: Were they listed alphabetically? Is that the reason you were the first
one?

B: There were others, I was not the first to get my diploma. I was the
first Catawba Indian to get my diploma.

E: Yes, that is right. The first Catawba Indian to get a diploma. Were
the people down on the reservation and your parents and your friends
really happy about this?

B: Yes.

E: Did you have any sort of a celebration?

B: No.

E: Tell me what you did after your graduation from high school.

B: I helped my mother with the pottery for several years and then I worked
at the Rock Hill Stone and Finishing Company for a while.

E: And then you still helped your mother with the pottery?

B: Yes.

E: You just fired this pottery that you have here before you today? Tell
me about what you did to prepare this pottery.

B: She made this pottery and scraped it smooth. Then I had to polish it
with the stone and let it dry for about two weeks. Then the day that
we got ready to burn, I put it in the fire that she had set up. She
put it in an oven at a real low temperature and at the end of the hour,
she turned it up about five degrees. Then we left it in there from
about 7:30 to 11:30 and we built a fire outside and let it burn, until
it made a bed of coals and embers. Then we took the pottery out of
the stove, and took them outside, and placed them on these coals, and
then I covered them with pine bark and put wood on top of that, and
let that burn. Then we put more wood on it and covered them completely
with wood and let that burn down. Then we put more pine bark on it to
make it hot.





5




E: You burn it about three times?

B: Put three fires on it, When the last fire dies and burns down you can
see the pottery is red, just like a piece of metal. It is red hot, It
looks just like a piece of metal.

E: You have to be real careful taking it out, don't you?

B: Yes. Let the fire burn down and then let it die out before you take
them out because they are hot.

E: So you took it out late that evening? I suppose.

B: Yes, I took it out about 5:00.

E: Is there excitement to see which ones are perfect and which-ones are
broken?

B: Yes.

E: There are some broken all together?

B: Only one had a piece out of it. It just popped out. Sometimes they
have a little stone or something in them and when the stone gets hot,
it will cause the piece of pottery to pop, or the piece to pop out of
it. And then some of them had little cracked places in them.

E: Now, your mother tells me that you are going to Gastonia to the mall to
show your pottery real soon. In May, I believe is right.

B: Yes, on May 21 and 22.

E: Do you have a table to display your pottery. Will you be making any
pottery or just display it?
B: She demonstrates and shows how she makes it. She either takes one that
is ready to scrape or one that is ready to rub, and she demonstrates
how they are made. Then the next day, she scraps the rough fingermarks.
When you make the pottery, it leaves your fingerprints in the clay.
When you take a bowl or anything, it leaves your fingerprints. You
have to take a knife and scrape all that off and make it smooth and even.

E: You will be there helping her demonstrate that, won't you?

B: I will be there.

E: You will be there for two whole days. Will you drive over to Gastonia?

B: Yes.





6



E: That is going to be a really very exciting day, Now you will take
some of this pottery that you.have here before me, What other
kinds of pottery will you take? Will you take some pictures and bowls?

B: No, we do not have any large pieces. She usually makes the smaller
pieces. When you make the large pieces, they break in the fire and
you lose so much.

E: That is true. Who goes with you to get your clay across the river?

B: My brother-in-law.

E: You go and carry it back in a big tub or something like that?

B: We usually use a.... Before they started using plastic and paper for
everything, we could get burlap bags and put it in there. But now
everything is bagged up in paper or plastic.

E: It takes a long time to prepare that clay to be ready to
begin to make any pottery.

B: It sounds kind of foolish but the clay is wet when you get it out of
the ground. You have to let it dry, get real dry, Then you take a
hammer and crush it into little fine pieces and then put water over
it to let it get thin enough to go through a screen, like a screen of a
screen door. That catches most of the little rocks and sticks and
leaves and anything that is in it. Then you spread it out and leave
it in a tub and the water will rise to the tip, and then you pour the
water out, As the water rises to the top you pour it off, and the
clay gets dry and after it gets dry enough that it won't run
through a cloth you pour it out on a piece of cloth and leave
it in the sun and in the air and it dries fast enough to take all
the moisture out of it.

E: Enough for you to start working?

B: Enough for you to start working.

E: Now did your grandmother make pottery too?

B: Yes.

E: Do you remember her pottery?

B: Yes.

E: Did she make any special things that your mother does not make?

B: I think she made bigger pieces like vases and pitchers, and she made
something that is called a loving cup. It had a little grip. I
think they call them pretty pots now. But it is has a little round
base and a kind of little stick. The stem comes up from it and
then you put a handle on each side.





7




E: That is put on separately. Do you really feel that this is a talent
that has been handed down to you Indians from your grandparents to
your mother to you, and all the way down the line?

B: Yes.

E: I am so glad to see that you are keeping up with that and passing that
on, Now you have got some little nieces and nephews around here
today. Do you show any of them how to make pottery?

B: Yes. They want to learn and they ask momma. Everytime she is working
with it, she shows them how. If we do not have too much clay, she
tells them as soon as she gets some more clay, she is going to have a
class and teach them.

E: I think that will be wonderful. When they had the class out here
several years ago, did Doris, your mother, go back to that class
and demonstrate? They had it in the old schoolhouse.

B: I do not think she did.

E: I am so glad to see some of the young people trying to learn how to
make this pottery.

B: There was a big class of about ten or fifteen that went to that
class. Louis Dyson and my aunt's daughter, Peggy Harris and
But it really doesn't matter because I taught for that class.

E: Now, who on the reservation makes pottery now or who of the Indians?
I know your mother and your aunt, Mrs. Roy Brown. Now tell me some
more.

B: Frances Wade, Ellen Betts, Nola Campbell, Katherine King, and
Evelyn George.

E: And every one of those people you named have a distinctive kind of
pottery. Is that right?

B: Yes.

E: You can almost recognize it the minute you see it without a name on
it. Are they putting their names on their pottery now.

B: Now they are.

E: Well, I am glad to see that. I think you have done a wonderful
thing. I hope you continue.





Full Text

PAGE 1

UNIVERSITY Of FLORIDA ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM INTERVIEWEE: Mildred Blue INTERVIEWER: Emma Echols April 26, 1983

PAGE 2

Mildred Blue CAT 156A CATAWBA INDIANS, ORAL HISTORY PROJECT INTERVIEWER: EMMA ECHOLS PLACE OF INTERVIEW: ROCK HILL, SOUTH CAROLINA DATE OF INTERVIEW: April 26, 1983 Mildred Blue is a Catawba Indian women who, along with her mother, makes and sells pottery. Mrs. Blue grew up on the reservation. She remembers her elementary school teachers taught her to read and write. She went to high school along mith four or five other Catawba teenagers, and she was the first Catawba Indian to graduate from Rock Hill. She speaks highly of her former teachers and she feels she learned a lot while at the school. After finishing school, she worked for a while at Rock Hill Stone and Furnishing Company she the left the comany to help her mother make pottery. The remainder of the interview is devoted to Mrs. Blue telling about the processes used in making pottery. Mrs. Blue and her mother give demonstrations of their work in exhibits they have at different times of the year. She is proud of her pottery-making skill and she states it is something that has been handed down from generation to generation among the Catawbas.

PAGE 3

E: I am visiting in the home of Doris Blue and her daughter, Mildred Blue. Mildred is: a very unusual person because I belteve she is the first person to graduate from the Rock Hi 11 High School , I wi1 l 1 et Mildred tell you more about herself. Mildreds give me your full name and address. B: Mildred Louise Blue, Route 3, Box 309, Roel< Hill. E: In your early days, did you 1 ive right here in this house with your mother? B: Not the same . house but in the same location. E: Then you attended school on the reservation? B: That is right, E: Tell me what you remember about your school days on the reservation. Who were your teachers? B: Elder James Davis was my first teacher. And then Willard Hayes. Then we had some assistant teachers, Samuel Bay, Elsie George, Georgia Harris. E: Did you do anything special at school? Do you remember any special subjects that you liked? B: No. E: You always came home for lunch, I am sure. B: Yes. For a couple years we had a lunch program, but most of the time we came home for lunch. E: The roads were very poor down here then. It was difficult even for the mail carrier to get through here wasn't it? B: Yes it was. E: What grade were you out there? B: Seventh. E: And then you went to high school? B: It started in 1he eighth grade. E: Tell me about that. How did you travel to high school? B: The first year I rode with Irving Gordon in an old Model A or Model T, I am not sure which. It was a real old car. He had a daughter going to high school, too. He would take us and bring us back.

PAGE 4

E: What was her name? B: Gladys Gordon. E: She is not living any longer? B: No. E: She is the one that made very beautfful pottery, wasn't she? Was that Eliza? 2 B: Eliza was her mother. She made the pretty, beautiful pottery. Gladys made some, but Eliza made more than some. E: How many of you were in that class going from the reservation to the high school? Do you remember? B: Four or five. E: Do you _ remember any of the other names? B: Florence Harris. Gladys Gordon. Martha Lee Harris. E: Now were there any boys? B: Gary Wade and William Watts. E: How \'ere you received by the teachers? Were they good to you? B: The teachers were good to us. E: Did you take anything like home economics or sewing, or anything of that kind? B: Yes. E: You liked that? B: I like the cooking pretty good. But I do not like to sew. E: Now, you sometimes would have to take money to pay expenses. Did you have any trouble getting money for your expenses? B: Well, at that time, the state appropriated money for your school suppliesyour books, pencils, and paper. E: Well, what teachers do you remember at the high school?

PAGE 5

B: Ernest Jones, Hayward Carr, and Mrs. Ward, I do not remember her first name. Then there were Candy Riding and Arabella Gill . E: Oh, yes. Those were Engltsh teachers. You must have been good in English. B: Ms. Gill was Algebra, and Mrs. Ward and Mrs , Riding were English. E: What did Mr. Jones teach you? B: Civics, I believe. E: And who was the principal of your school at that time? B: Mr. Sullivan. E: When you had assembly programs and got together, did all of you Indians sit together? Did you have white friends? B: Well, all of the Indians were in the samehome room, E: Who were your special friends? B: I had one, Holly Williams, who works, I think, for the Rock Hill Furniture Company now. And the Salmon girl. Her father, Jake Salmon ran a junkyard or a scrap metal pl ace in Rock Hill. But anyway, we girls went from down here to school. E: Then how did you come home in the afternoon? Same way? B: Same way. E: What about homework? Did you have a lot of studying to do at night? B: Yes. I had to do it in the evening. We had no electricity. We used kerosene lamps. E: At your reservation school, had you ever used slates and pencils? B: We always had pencils and things. 3 E: By that time, you always had that. Now, when graduation time came near, that meant caps and gowns and programs and practicing for it. What do you remember about getting ready for your graduation? B: Well, now I think you would call it a rehearsal. The morning that we graduated, we had assembly and we had to practice walking across the stage and receiving our diploma.

PAGE 6

E: Was Mr. Sullivan the one to give you the diploma or was it a member of the board? B: Mr. Sullivan, I believe. Cannot remember right not exactly, but I believe it was Mr. Sullivan. E: What was your feeling when you walked across the staqe for the first time to get your diploma and were you the first one?' B: I cannot remember exactly, but I was kind of nervous. 4 E: Were they Hsted alphabetically? Is that the reason you were the first one? B: There were others. I was not the first to get my diploma. I was the first Catawba Indian to get my diploma. E: Yes, that is right. The first Catawba Indian to get a diploma. Were the people down on the reservation and your parents and your friends really happy about this? B: Yes. E: Did you have any sort of a celebration? B: No. E: Tell me what you did after your graduation from high school. B: I helped my mother with the pottery for several years and then I worked at the Rock Hill Stone and Finishing Company for a while. E: And then you still helped your mother with the pottery? B: Yes. E: You just fired this pottery that you have here before you today? Tell me about what you did to prepare this pottery. B: She made this pottery and scraped it smooth. Then I had to polish it with the stone and let it dry for about two weeks. Then the day that we got ready to burn, I put it in the fire that she had set up. She put it in an oven at a real low temperature and at the end of the hour, she turned it up about five degrees. Then we left it in there from about 7:30 to 11:30 and we built a fire outside and let it burn, until it made a bed of coals and embers. Then we took the pottery out of the stove, and took them outside, and placed them on these coals, and then I covered them with pine bark and put wood on top of that, and let that burn. Then we put more wood on it and covered them completely with wood and let that burn down. Then we put more pine bark on it to make it hot.

PAGE 7

5 E: You burn it about three times? B: Put three fires on it, When the last ftre dies and burns down you can see the pottery is red, just 1 ike a piece of metal. It is red hot. It looks just like a piece of metal. E: You have to be real careful taking it out, don't you? B: Yes. Let the fire burn down and then let it die out before you take them out bec~use they are hot. E: So you took it out late that evening? I suppose. B: Yes. I took it out about 5:00. E: Is there excitement to see which ones are perfect and which- •ones are broken? B: Yes. E: There are some broken all together? B: Only one had a piece out of it. It just popped out. Sometimes they have a little stone or something in them and when the stone gets hot, it wil 1 cause the piece of pottery to pop, or the piece to pop out of it. And then some of them had little cracked places in them. E: Now, your mother tells me that you are going,to Gastonia to the mall to show your pottery real soon. In May, I believe is right. B: Yes, on May 21 and 22. E: Do you have a table to display your pottery. Will you be making any pottery or just display it? B: She demonstrates and shows how she makes it. She either takes one that is ready to scrape or one that is ready to rub, and she demonstrates how they are made. Then the next day, she scraps the rough fingermarks. When you make the pottery, it leaves your fingerprints in the clay. When you take a bowl or anything~ it leaves your finerprints. You have to take a knife and scrape all that off and make it smooth and even. E: You will be there helping her demonstrate that, won•t you? B: I wi 11 be there. E: You will be there for two whole days. Will you drive over to Gastonia? B: Yes.

PAGE 8

E: That is going to be a really very exciting day, Now you wil 1 take some of this pottery _ that you . have here before . me, What other 6 kinds of pottery will you take? Will you take some pictures and bowls? B: No, we do not have any large pieces. She usually makes the smaller pieces. When you make the large pieces, they ' break in the fire and you lose so much. E: That is true. Who goes with you to get your clay across the river? B: My brother-in-law. E: You go and carry it back in a big tub or something like that? B: We usually use a.,.. Before they started using plastic and paper for everything, we could get burlap bags and put it in there. But now everything is bagged up in paper or plastic. E: It ~akes a long time to prepare that clay to be ready to begrn to make any pottery. B: It sounds kind of foolish but the clay is wet when you get it out of the ground. You have to let it dry, get real dry. Then you take a hammer and crush it into little fine pieces and then put water over it to let it get thin enough to go through a screen, like a screen of a screen door. That catches most of the little rocks and sticks and leaves and anything that is in it. Then you spread it out and leave it in a tub and the water will rise to the tip, and then you pour the water out. As the water rises to the top you pour it off, and the clay gets dry and after it gets dry enough that it won't run through a cloth you pour it out on a piece of cloth and leave it in the sun and tn the air and it dries fast enough to take all the moisture out of it. E: Enough for you to start working? B: Enough for you to start working. E: Now did your grandmother make pottery too? B: Yes. E: Do you remember her pottery? B: Yes. E: Did she make any special things that your mother does not make? B: I think she made bigger pieces like vases ~nd pitchers, and she made something that is called a loving cup. It had a little grip. I think they call them pretty pots now. But it is has a little round base and a kind of little stick. The stem comes up from it and then you put a handle on each side.

PAGE 9

E: That is put on separately. Do you really feel that this is a talent that has been handed down to you Indians from your grandparents to your mother to you, and all the way down the line? B: Yes. 7 E: I am so glad to see that you a re keeping up with that and passing that on, Nowyou have got some little nieces and nephews around here today, Do you show any of them how to make pottery? B: Yes. They want to learn and they ask momma. Everytime she is working with it, she shows them how. If we do not have too much clay, she tells them as soon as she gets some more clay, she is going to have a class and teach them. E: I think that wil 1 be wonderful. When they had the cl ass out here several years ago, did Doris, your mother, go back to that class and demonstrate? They had it in the old schoolhouse. B: I do not think she did. E: I am so . glad to see some of the young people trying to learn how to make this pottery. B: There was a big class of about ten or fifteen that went to that cl ass. Louis Dyson and my aunt I s daughter, Peggy Harris and --But it really doesn't matter because I taught for that class. E: Now, who on the reservation makes pottery now or who of the Indians? I know your mother and your aunt, Mrs. Roy Brown. Now tell me some more. B: Prances Wade, Ellen Betts, Nola Camp)ell, Katherine King, and Evelyn George. E: And every one of those people you named have a distinctive kind of pottery. Is that right? B: Yes. E: You can almost recognize it the minute you see it without a name on it. Are they putting their names on their pottery now. B: Now they are. E: Well, I am glad to see that. I think you . have done a wonderful thing. I hope you continue.