Francis, Michelle A., Oral Interview: Walter and Dorothy Auman, March 7, 1983 CE


Interview of Walter and Dorothy Cole Auman
Transcript of Interview of Walter and Dorothy Cole Auman
Interviewees: Walter Auman
Interviewees: Dorothy Cole Auman
Interviewer: Michelle A. Francis
Date of Interview: March 7, 1983
Location of Interview: Seagrove, N.C.
(Begin Tape 1, Side 1)

Michelle A. Francis:

Today is March 7, 1983. We're talking with Walter and Dorothy Auman and today we are going to talk about earthenware. Dorothy, why don't you just tell me a little bit about what is earthenware as opposed to other kinds of clay.

Dorothy Auman:

Well, earthenware is one of the categories of the pottery that's been made around here and today I guess it's divided into many, many more than three groups, but for simplification, and for our purpose here talking, let's just divide it into the three major groups, which is earthenware, stoneware, porcelain, and talk a little about each one and you can see the difference then. Walter, why don't you tell her about the forming of the clays which would show why these three major groups are formed.

Walter Auman:

As clays were formed from the disintegration of felspathic rocks, the chemicals made up the differences, and some of the clays were found in pure form-, where others contain various amounts of organic matters, minerals, and the different compounds. These pure clays are the plastics that mature at the lowest temperatures. No, that would be the ones that mature at the highest temperatures.

Dorothy Auman:

The kaolins. And then, least plastic, group for turning.

Walter Auman:

Yes, these would be more in the porcelain family.

Michelle A. Francis:

When you refer to plastic, you mean plastic as in pliable?

Walter Auman:

Pliable, sticks together real well.

Dorothy Auman:

And when it's like in the kaolin stage, when we are turning and it doesn't turn well, we call that short. That is due to the old timers used to say that there was fibers in the clay. And there sure must be! Because the long fibers are those that have more plastic than the short fibers, tend to break easy and it takes a longer period of time for them knitting back together, too, in the shop out here, you know.



Michelle A. Francis:

Mm-hum. So that's something you have to be aware of which way the fibers are going when you are throwing, turning a pot?

Dorothy Auman:

Well, not necessarily which way, they're just all throughout it. But the fact that the type of clay has long fibers or short fibers in it.

Walter Auman:

Yes, all clays have the fibers to, uh, make it stick together in some form or other.

Michelle A. Francis:

Was the kaolin mostly short fibers then?

Walter Auman:

Yes, it was. Kaolin never was a real plastic clay.

Michelle A. Francis:

Has that ever been found in this area?

Walter Auman:

Yes.

Michelle A. Francis:

Is that a clay that is available in this area?

Walter Auman:

Yes, the kaolin--not as much in this area as it was a little west of here.

Dorothy Auman:

We found seams of it through the pyrolusite sections, where we would find a deposit of pyrolusite. Most of the time these pyrolusite wrappers was divided by the seams of this, um, kaolin-type clay. And then we also have the talc mines down here, which is a form of this same type of clay.

Michelle A. Francis:

So when you're out looking, you look on the surface for like--what were the rocks you saying, pyrolusite rocksif you're out looking for kaolin, that's what you'd look for, is that kind?

Dorothy Auman:

Mm-hum.

Walter Auman:

Well, we don't look for that as much so in our work here as earthenware clay.

Michelle A. Francis:

But, if somebody, a potter, was looking for--

Dorothy Auman:

Yes, somebody looking for that would. Yes.

Michelle A. Francis:

Yeah, okay.

Walter Auman:

Some of the clays have a medium amount of organic materials and they can be found easily because of the plasticity of it. These are the medium range temperatures, where you's more in the, what we call our stoneware clays. But in the earthenware clays, it has more of the organic material and they're fired at a little lower temperature.



Michelle A. Francis:

What are the different temperatures?

Walter Auman:

Well, there are different opinions as to what the different clays are. Among some of the writers and books and things, they generally agree that porcelain is fired at around 2450 degrees, and on up above--it starts at around 2450. Your stonewares is fired at anywheres from 2100 to 2450, 24 something like that, most of your stoneware clays. And your earthenwares, they are fired from about 1700 to 2100, which around here, most of us use around 19 to 2000.

Michelle A. Francis:

Is there a particular reason why you have settled in on that range?

Walter Auman:

Well, it's because of our clays--they vitrify at that temperature--that we are using now.

Dorothy Auman:

Well, and the reason of that is because we have this seepage problem. It's that most earthenwares have a seepage problem. You know, if you make a bowl or a vase, the water will seep through. It's not a tight body. It's a porous body. If you can fire that up to the point that it is tight or almost tight, this is what you aiming at, this is the goal of all your earthenware makers.

Michelle A. Francis:

So the higher the temperature you can force the earthenware to be fired at, then the tighter the body becomes and the more waterproof.

Dorothy Auman:

That's right. But, however now, if you go over that temperature, and you don't leave some porousness in the clay, then you can't put it in the oven and cook in it because you don't have that expansion there.

Michelle A. Francis:

Okay, so there's really a fine line.

Dorothy Auman:

It sure is, and you've always got the, like hot spots and. . .

Walter Auman:

Cold spots in the kiln. You have to be careful of what you put in these places, that uh, if your earthenware isn't porous to a certain extent, it's ...it's a bad pot to cook in.

Dorothy Auman:

It's not usable for earthenware purposes then.

Michelle A. Francis:

Earthenware, was that the clay that was used initially for cooking, for utilitarian. . .

Walter Auman:

Yes, yes it was.



Michelle A. Francis:

. . .as opposed to stoneware?

Walter Auman:

Uh-huh, it was particularly through this area here, earthenware was for cooking mostly.

Dorothy Auman:

Well, seems that here, when we speak of stoneware, I think that most of us, are visually of the traditional potters, anyway, think in terms of salt glazed pottery. And this was very vitrous {vitreous] which if you put it in the oven, it would crack right open. Because it was like, you know porcelain does the same thing,. . .

Walter Auman:

It's so soft.

Dorothy Auman:

. . .there is no porousness there for the clay to swell and shrink on. But today, stoneware has another meaning.

Michelle A. Francis:

Stoneware is used for cooking.

Dorothy Auman:

Yes, but, they don't use native clays for doing this. They have, if they use a native clay they will doctor it up with a lot of, well I won't say chemicals, but other clays that's been. . .

Walter Auman:

Types of grogs and things like this.

Dorothy Auman:

. . .brought in from other areas of the country. It's not our native clays.

Michelle A. Francis:

So your native stoneware is not suitable for cooking, the composition of it.

Dorothy Auman:

It never was, way back, you know, when we were talking about like your--before things became so sophisticated and formalized.

Walter Auman:

The earthenware clays, they're your real red--has a lot of iron in it. And most of those burn out what we call real orange-red, particularly in the bisque. But, we find a lot of that in this area.

Michelle A. Francis:

I was going to say, obviously, you can see that visually, can't you?

Walter Auman:

Yes, most of the time you can see the, you can tell that it's got the iron in it.

Michelle A. Francis:

You just by walking along the field if you're looking for a vein of clay--anywhere you can. . .



Walter Auman:

Yes, if you find a vein of clay you can tell if it's got the iron in it.

Michelle A. Francis:

What do you look for if the field is covered up? You know, with brush and grass?

Walter Auman:

If you are looking for clay, you just look for a suitable spot that's more likely to have it and you just dig down. For, not many of the clays come to the top of the ground. There's usually anywheres from 12 to 2 to 3 feet of soil on top of it that you have to remove before you can get to the clay.

Michelle A. Francis:

In this area, what kind of terrain is suitable for earthenware?

Walter Auman:

It's, sometimes it's uh. . .

Michelle A. Francis:

Is it a low-lying area?

Walter Auman:

Yes, we find it in the low-lying areas, we call it a pond clay. Particular for our earthenware, where it's settled for several hundred years or a thousand years or so that we think it takes to make this.

Dorothy Auman:

But now you also find stoneware clay in these low areas, too, which would be a high-firing clay, higher than earthenware. And when this is, it would be called a certain way, what was that Walt. . .

Walter Auman:

uh. . .

Dorothy Auman:

Bog.

Walter Auman:

Yeah, bog clay.

Dorothy Auman:

Bog clay. That was what--it meant that it would fire out very dark, brown, in the brown family, but almost sometimes to a black. It seemed that this clay had much more iron in it than, say, hill clay for the stoneware.

Walter Auman:

And most of your hill clay will, or what we call hill, where it's not settled. You'll find it in a sort of blue or blue-gray color when you dig it out of the ground, particular if it is a little moist. And it usually fires out with very little iron in it.

Michelle A. Francis:

Now this is. . .



Dorothy Auman:

The stoneware.

Michelle A. Francis:

We're still talking about stoneware.

Dorothy Auman:

But your earthenware is usually dark yellow or yellow or orange, uh, family.

Michelle A. Francis:

Is there a hill, do you find earthenware clay in hill, on hills, too

Walter Auman:

In some cases, but very seldom.

Michelle A. Francis:

Seldom, okay.

Walter Auman:

Very seldom that we find it. Most of our digging of clay, and we've been getting it in the last 35, 40 year, I guess out of the same pit. And it's sort of a low-lying area where we're digging it.

Michelle A. Francis:

What else does it normally have in it?

Dorothy Auman:

Um, you know, something else that was interesting, when you get to thinking about the colors of clay. Walter, do you remember that green clay that those people brought in that they found. And we turned it and it was green, it was just as--a pastel green color.

Walter Auman:

Yes.

Dorothy Auman:

And we also found some that was a lavender.

Michelle A. Francis:

Lavender?

Dorothy Auman:

Um-hum, in a lavender, a definite lavender, not pink, now, but a lavender, orchid-looking. And, how 'bout that piece of clay that you brought in from the coast that was just charcoal black.

Walter Auman:

Yes, it was just as black, and it came out of, uh, the ocean at, uh, Carolina Beach. We were down fishing, and, we, uh. . . .

Dorothy Auman:

His line got hooked on it. . .

Walter Auman:

My line got hooked on this, and the man told us what we had run into. And so we waded in and got us a handful or two of it and brought it back. And it was just as black as it could be.

Dorothy Auman:

But, the orange. . .



Walter Auman:

No sand or anything in it!

Michelle A. Francis:

Really?

Dorothy Auman:

But, the black, the green, the orchid--all turned out, after it was fired, just, you couldn't tell any difference than our regular orangey-looking clay around here.

Michelle A. Francis:

So it was earthenware.

Walter Auman:

Yes.

Michelle A. Francis:

But, some kind of. . .

Dorothy Auman:

. . .organic material undoubtedly colored it. But, I think it's interesting to find that you do have, now these are unusual. . .

Michelle A. Francis:

Exceptions.

Dorothy Auman:

Mm-hum.

Michelle A. Francis:

Generally in this area, it would be anywhere from like, your yellows to oranges.

Dorothy Auman:

Yes.

Walter Auman:

Most of the clays that you use for earthenware clays, that's almost the same type, not quite as good a grade of clay as the brick companies use for making the brick. And, of course, they have a lot of problems, too, with color. They have to get their clays out and mix their clays to get the color, where we use a glaze on there, to cover up the clay to get our color.

Dorothy Auman:

Well, the brick companies are awfully nice to us potters around. If they find a good vein of clay, uh, they don't mind sharing in the least.

Michelle A. Francis:

Really?

Dorothy Auman:

Um-hum. And they'll take the worst of it and give us the best of it. You know, that's saying a lot.

Michelle A. Francis:

It sure is! I didn't realize that. Then do you all have some brick companies in this area?

Dorothy Auman:

Well, we did. But they moved out, um. Maybe they gave the best away! (Laughter)



Walter Auman:

We have brick companies in Greensboro, Sanford, Salisbury, Cheraw, South Carolina, places like that.

Michelle A. Francis:

How did you find your pit?

Walter Auman:

I didn't find it. Someone else found it and, Dot's father was getting clay out of there from uh. . .

Dorothy Auman:

Well the man that--we talking about the Smith clay over here?

Walter Auman:

Yes.

Walter Auman:

Okay, the man that owned the, uh, farm over there complained to a potter who hunted with him, that he couldn't get grass to grow on that piece of land, he didn't know what was wrong with it. And it happened to be Jim Teague down here, who was an old potter. Jim went over and looked at it and said, "I can tell you what's wrong with it." He says, "It's got too much iron it." He says, "You may not can use it, but we can!" So, he went over and got a load. And after that, then Daddy began getting over there. And, I guess it's sufficed for the community around here for many years.

Walter Auman:

Many years

Michelle A. Francis:

It's that large, or it was that large?

Walter Auman:

There's a large deposit of clay there. And the other three major names of a few of the others that was used was shale, terracotta, crawdad clay. . .

Michelle A. Francis:

Crawdad?

Walter Auman:

Gumbo, it was just. . .

Dorothy Auman:

Well, this is what a lot of people call it.

Walter Auman:

Lot of people call it these names.

Dorothy Auman:

Now around here we call it crawdad clay, 'cause this is where you see these crawdads making holes all through it. It's not worthy of our, work to make it into a good clay, but some people can use it and mix it when they do.

Michelle A. Francis:

They use it as a mix with, what, other kind of earthenware?



Dorothy Auman:

Well, yes, or even, well I guess we use that type of clay in order to sealing up the kiln, don't we?

Walter Auman:

Yes, that's the type that we use for closing the doors.

Dorothy Auman:

And you take the terracotta--you get earthenware terracotta, you get stoneware terracotta. Terracotta is where you've got a lot of grog in the clay. You know, a lot of foreign matter that. . .

Michelle A. Francis:

Sand, or whatever.

Dorothy Auman:

Yeah, and it's a uh. . .

Walter Auman:

Well, there's clays that's got heavy aluminum, and uh. . .

Dorothy Auman:

Bauxite.

Walter Auman:

Yeah, bitmite, and volcanic ash. The list just could go on for uh. . .

Michelle A. Francis:

I guess whatever is in the area you could find in the clay.

Walter Auman:

Yes, that's right.

Dorothy Auman:

Whenever that clay disintegrated from that rock and got mixed in with other rocks, you know. So that it really, the make up of, of .

Walter Auman:

It's just, in a lot of cases, it's just your own opinion, for we have no way of running an analysis on the clay or anything. We just, we test it out and if it works for us, why we use it, and then that's the way the other potters do, too. They run the tests on it for their own use.

Dorothy Auman:

And sometimes, you'll find the clay and even have brought it into the shop, but you think that it will work, but you find all your pots have warped in the kiln, or something, so you know you got to do more work on your clay. And so you'll go out and find another clay that will uh, strengthen that body, say, if you find a stronger clay.

Michelle A. Francis:

You mix it?

Dorothy Auman:

Mm-hum, and so you've got two. And I have known Daddy to have even put three clays together.

Walter Auman:

Oh, yes.



Dorothy Auman:

But, that's normally--it's a couple of clays.

Walter Auman:

And, you have to do this a lot of the times, and uh, you'll find a clay that will turn good and yet it won't take a glaze. That, or it won't fire good in the kiln. So you have to, uh, come to a happy medium with all three of them--the ones that will accept the glaze and turn good and then fire good, too. That will fire at the temperatures that you like to make it at.

Michelle A. Francis:

Your Dad, did he use earthenware exclusively, your father?

Dorothy Auman:

Yes, um, after the transitional period came in, in say, the '20s. . .

Michelle A. Francis:

After they quit making. . .

Dorothy Auman:

The salt glaze, um-hum, yeah. . .

Michelle A. Francis:

. . .the saltware, the salt glaze. . .

Dorothy Auman:

Yeah, now while he was at home with his daddy, it was salt glaze.

Michelle A. Francis:

That was Ruffin, right?

Dorothy Auman:

Yes, uh-hum.

Michelle A. Francis:

Okay, so Ruffin Cole was--used salt glaze. . .

Dorothy Auman:

Right.

Michelle A. Francis:

And to do that you used the earthenware?

Dorothy Auman:

No, you would of used the stoneware clay.

Michelle A. Francis:

I mean use the stoneware, excuse me, use the stoneware.

Dorothy Auman:

Mm-hum, the stoneware.

Michelle A. Francis:

And then, after they quit making those large crocks and the urns and things, and started going more towards art pottery and vases, and then your father started using the earthenware.

Dorothy Auman:

That's right, mm-hum.

Michelle A. Francis:

And you have used earthenware exclusively.

Dorothy Auman:

Yes.



Michelle A. Francis:

Do you prefer?

Dorothy Auman:

Uh, yeah, I think. . .

Michelle A. Francis:

Is it easier to work with?

Dorothy Auman:

Yeah, it's . . . to me it's more fun to do.

Walter Auman:

Uh, the earthenware--we enjoy it because it's, uh, it's--you can do so much more with it that you can in theas far as the stoneware. Stoneware was real vitreous and that was what the people used to make the churns and the old crocks.

Dorothy Auman:

Storage jars.

Walter Auman:

Storage jars and that type of ware. And uh, earthenware, it's more of a utilitarian thing. You can make water pitchers and use 'em, and cooking vessels and--not so much storage things, and then you can make candle holders and that type of stuff, too. It's ornamental.

Michelle A. Francis:

You had a greater variety; you have a greater variety of forms that you can make.

Walter Auman:

Much greater variety.

Michelle A. Francis:

Are all the clays that you find usable? All the deposits?

Dorothy Auman:

Well, like we were talking there, if one isn't exactly like we like it, we usually find something to mix in with it and, um, even like what we call the crawdad clay, which is the, the--on a scale of one to ten, it'd be maybe, zero to use in pottery! But we still find a use for it, by daubing the kiln door. So, it's perfect for that. It has what we call a lot of dirt in it. It has a lot of foreign matter, topsoil has got into it.

Michelle A. Francis:

In this area, tell me, like--okay, we'll start with the crawdad clay. That's the lowest form of earthenware clay that you find locally. Would you say?

Walter Auman:

Yes, I think that would be the lowest.

Michelle A. Francis:

What would be the next?

Dorothy Auman:

Well, to go back to our three major categories, would be your earthenware.



Michelle A. Francis:

Well, right. I'm not, you know, the different kinds of earthenware, the different quality.

Dorothy Auman:

Yet in all, I'm not that, uh, technical on the clays. Are you, Walt?

Walter Auman:

No, not on the clays. That's uh. . .

Dorothy Auman:

Everybody finds what they can use best. Let's take, um, is this, um. . .

Michelle A. Francis:

Tell me about your Dad's. The different kinds he had to use. You said at one time he was mixing three clays to get. . .

Dorothy Auman:

Well, he was just, you see, as the earth's formed, each of these veins of clay has got a different chemical make up in it.

Michelle A. Francis:

Right.

Dorothy Auman:

Okay, he couldn't test it and tell you that it had a lot of, say, calcium in one clay and, and aluminum in another clay. You know. All he could do was, it was trial and error. So he would, if he got a clay that say, well, let's say one that shrunk too much in the turning. If you turn a piece, say, that's say, fifteen inches high and you ended up with a piece that's ten inches high, man! You've got too much shrinkage there. And I've seen even. that much shrinkage done. So you go and find a clay that hasn't got nearly that much shrinkage to it and add to this clay. Because the chances are this clay that has shrunk so has got a lot of good qualities for the turner, for the person that's shaping it. Man, usually you can stretch that clay to, mm, you. Can just keep on stretching it. Now we got some down here at Rankin Beans not long ago like that. You could stretch that clay till there was just no end to it. It would amaze you what you would get out of, say a three-pound ball of clay that you was used to getting, you know, a piece. Man, you could go a third higher on that. But then, when you fired it, it'd come down, way down. You know, so you don't want too much of that. So you simply add that with another clay to make good qualities of whatever you are after. You get turning, or it's like Walter said, the firing qualities there, the warping and, he always has problems with fire cracking, or it could cool it too quickly, this sort of thing. So, uh, you just mix one clay to another. And, you never know, you just have to test your clays.



Michelle A. Francis:

Well, what about the clay you've been using now, is it, for about thirty years out of that pit? Have you been adding different clay to it? Or is it pretty. . .

Walter Auman:

It's, it works pretty well by itself.

Michelle A. Francis:

By itself? You've not had to do much to it?

Walter Auman:

No.

Dorothy Auman:

Well, now, we do add some low burning, softer. . .

Walter Auman:

We have added, yes. . .

Dorothy Auman:

. . .what we call a softer clay, we added to it. We find that it helps about the seepage a lot.

Michelle A. Francis:

Mm-hum. Adding the softer--

Dorothy Auman:

A fine clay, you know. Now this temperature, this, uh temperature of the maturity point on this Smith clay is much higher than what we like, so we add a clay thatwhose maturity point is very low, it's very low. So we add it to it and the blend of it gets it just right. It depends on how much we want to add to it.

Michelle A. Francis:

What do you mean by maturity point?

Dorothy Auman:

This is the point that you're after. This is the goal that the potter is after when he is firing a kiln. Uh, you don't want it to be vitreous, but you don't want it to be so porous until it seeps water, either.

Michelle A. Francis:

Okay, it's that. . .

Dorothy Auman:

Fine line. . .

Michelle A. Francis:

That fine line we talked about earlier. Okay, okay. Tell me a little bit about the firing process, Walter, of earthenware that you all have been using.

Walter Auman:

Well, we're using the oil kilns now to, uh, and we have since World War II, and electricity to run our blowers and to put air and things in the kiln. But, uh, it has, it works much easier in the earthenware where you, you don't have to stay as, control your heat as close as you do on stoneware, where it will, it will stand the shock of a fast heat, or,



and fast cooling, too. And we've, uh, we have been using this for ourselves since we've started, and Dot's father, too, Mr. Cole, when he was using changed over from the wood to the oil.

Dorothy Auman:

By the way, he was the first one to build this type of a kiln.

Michelle A. Francis:

Your father was the first one to build a gas, I mean, an oil-burning kiln?

Dorothy Auman:

Uh-huh, oil-burning kiln. And these are called hog backs.

Michelle A. Francis:

Hog backs.

Dorothy Auman:

Uh, huh, instead of a ground hog. Uh, these are called hog backs. Maybe it's probably a little higher.

Michelle A. Francis:

They are higher, you can just walk into them.

Walter Auman:

And all of our kilns now are downdrafts that we're using, too. The heat goes in at the bottom and it has to go up to the top and back down through the pots and come out at the bottom, through, uh, where the outlet is for the chimleys and--

Dorothy Auman:

Now that's in comparison to the overdraft in a ground hog kiln, which you build a fire in the front of the kiln and the fire just simply went over and through the pots and out the chimney.

Michelle A. Francis:

Chimney. Mm-hum. I notice that you, do you do a separate bisque firing, Walter? .

Walter Auman:

Yes, we fire at bisque and then we can bring it out and it's much simpler to do that. You don't have to be so careful with the glaze on that. And then we bring it out of the kiln and we dip it into the glaze and put it back in the kiln and when it comes out, then the next time, hopefully, it's a finished product, or. . .

Michelle A. Francis:

But I've also seen the kiln and during the glaze firing you will also fire some bisque or, the greenware.

Walter Auman:

Yes, we, in the cases we've put our. . .

Dorothy Auman:

That's when you get in a hurry.



Walter Auman:

. . .we put our greenware on the bottom of the kiln, and uh, it's a little bit cooler on the bottom, and you can heat it up fast, and when you're firing a glaze kiln, and, uh, but in most cases when we do that, we try to fire it up--in the glaze--to maturity, so that it will still be at vitreous or be too early for it. We won't have so much seepage in it.

Dorothy Auman:

Going back to the clay, there, I think a interesting point, and, uh, finding, you was mentioning finding the clay, well. . .

Michelle A. Francis:

How you locate it.

Dorothy Auman:

Well, after you have located a likely spot, and you dig it up, you know one of the first things a potter will do is bite it.

Michelle A. Francis:

Is what?

Dorothy Auman:

Bite it.

Michelle A. Francis:

Bite it?

Dorothy Auman:

Yup, he'll just a'haul off and bite it. Um, he'll, well I think one thing, clay that we use in the potter's shop, has got a definite taste to it. And the potter knows that. It's got a definite odor. Have you noticed in going into the shops, that fresh odor.

Michelle A. Francis:

Mm-hum!

Dorothy Auman:

Well, that's your clay. That gives it that odor in that shop. And we're so used to it until sometimes I don't even notice it, but somebody else will come in the shop and will say, "What's that I smell?", you know. And I say, "Well, you know, it's just the clay." It's that fresh ground, that-- like when you're tunneling back and making a cave into the side of a hill, or something. It's that fresh earth smell on it. But then, after he tastes it, and of course, tasting it, too, he'll chew it.

Walter Auman:

When you sink your teeth in, in a piece of clay, you can tell whether it has grit in it.

Dorothy Auman:

Yeah.

Michelle A. Francis:

Yeah, so you know. . .

Walter Auman:

So you can tell whether it's a pure clay or not.



Dorothy Auman:

Yeah, whether it's gritty or not. Uh, if it's gritty, then the chances are he figures that he's got too close to the topsoil. And he'll go down maybe a foot further and try it again. But, then after, if it passes this test, now, he'll take a little piece and crumble it up in the palm of his hand. Oh, no bigger than two or three beans, you know, just crumble it up in little pieces. Just spit on it, wet it up, work that thing up in the palm of his hand, and roll it out like a little worm. And he'll take that worm then and twist it around his little finger, and if that doesn't crackle or break, he figures he has a pretty good clay there. So then the next step would be to take enough in, uh, say a bucket full or something, into the shop, and test it for shrinkage and warping and firing, this sort of thing, before he goes back and gets a whole load of it. Even that's not fool-proof.

Walter Auman:

And there's another way you can do, is get you a chunk of it up and take out your pocket knife and just sort of shave it off a little bit, just like you would a cake of soap. And if it cuts real smooth, it's--you can be sure that you've got a lot of clay there, but--and if- there's any sand or any foreign matter in it, you can tell when your knife blade goes through it.

Michelle A. Francis:

You can see it, too, I guess.

Dorothy Auman:

You have a lot of shale in it sometimes around here. We get a lot of shale in the clay. And, boy that's something that you have to steer clear of! If you have shale in the clay, it's, when it goes through, when you turn a piece and it's got that shale, even if it's minute pieces, when it goes through the kiln, comes out and is cooled, it will pop out, and it--

Walter Auman:

Little chunks of the glaze will peel off.

Dorothy Auman:

It just looks like you've taken an ice pick and gone through it.

Walter Auman:

But, now they can use a lot of shale in brick making.

Michelle A. Francis:

Mm-hum, because they don't glaze it.

Walter Auman:

Yes, they use a lot of it.

Dorothy Auman:

We can use it if it's pulverized. It's, um, it's a very strong clay. It's, um, and it helps on the warpage. It's, um. . .



Michelle A. Francis:

So some shale is good to have, I mean, it's good to have some shale in it--

Dorothy Auman:

Yeah, if you'll prepare it right. Uh, now we were getting so much of this, uh, shale, at one time, that, this is the reason that, that they began pugging on--

Walter Auman:

Pulverizing it.

Dorothy Auman:

Pulverizing it in, what kind of mill is it? A hammer mill.

Walter Auman:

Yes, a type of hammer mill.

Dorothy Auman:

And this is what brought that on, was this shalish clay. It was a good clay to use, but, uh, you couldn't use it unless those pieces was just beat up to just powder. Now before that, they would bring the clay into the shop and, usually they had an area that was, cleaned off and usually they'd put boards down on the ground so you wouldn't get the topsoil mixed in with the clay as you was working with it. And they'd put up a few stakes around. I can remember seeing it--and then just dump your clay off on it. And it was just completely out in the weather and this was the way they wanted it. And they would haul it, like in the fall, so that it, the rains, it would get it good and wet. And then the winter freezes would freeze it and bust these clogs of clay just all to pieces. That was called mellowing it.

Michelle A. Francis:

Called?

Dorothy Auman:

Mellowing it.

Walter Auman:

Yeah, aging it.

Michelle A. Francis:

Yeah, same thing.

Dorothy Auman:

So then, Daddy would take the shovel, the tip end of the shovel, and go--chop, chop, chop, chop, chop--all through this. Still breaking it up further. And if it was too wet, he would, turn it over and let the sun shine on it. And of course, where the sun shined, it got dried out.

Michelle A. Francis:

Yeah.

Dorothy Auman:

So, he'd have to turn that over to get it wet again. But then, when he got it just right, he'd take wet tote sacks and cover that up, and he'd let that stay there for two or three days, anyway, wouldn't he?



Walter Auman:

Yes.

Dorothy Auman:

And, uh, again, it went through this mellowing stage where it was, was breaking down to clumps. And at that point of the time, he was putting it in this, well, my Daddy never used a mule, like the old-timers, say, my Granddaddy used a mule to go around. . .

Michelle A. Francis:

Clay mill.

Dorothy Auman:

Uh-hum, in a vertical-type of movement. But, now, uh, Uncle Clarence was Daddy's youngest brother. And he was forever inventing something. He was one of these tinkerers, you know. And, he built one that lay down horizontal, put a big fly wheel on the side of it and hooked it up to his T Model. And that must have been like in the ...'20s, wouldn't have been, Bubba?

Walter Auman:

Yes.

Dorothy Auman:

That would have been right about. in the '20s that this happened.

Michelle A. Francis:

That must have been very innovative for the time.

Dorothy Auman:

Boy, I tell you it saved a lot of work, and you didn't have to bother with that. . .

Michelle A. Francis:

. . .that mule!

Dorothy Auman:

. . .that mule! Yeah! And it was so much faster, this, this old T Model chugged along at a better rate than the old mule did, you know. And, the T Model was stationary, they ran a belt from the wheel of the i Model over to this fly wheel.

Michelle A. Francis:

And that turned it. Turned the pug mill.

Dorothy Auman:

Yeah, and they would put this, um, mellowed clay into it. Now this is what my Daddy worked on. And he used the T Model for years and years and years--up until World War II!

Walter Auman:

Yes, then he bought an old truck.

Dorothy Auman:

"Old Betsy."

Michelle A. Francis:

He used a truck?

Walter Auman:

He used a truck. . .



Dorothy Auman:

Yeah, Old Betsy, that was the name of the T Model, Old Betsy. Uh, after that, what did Daddy use? After the T Model. A tractor? Did he ever use a tractor?

Walter Auman:

Not for that mill. We'd use the tractor in later years, but we used an old, uh, truck, you know. And then he bought this motor that, uh, he just set it out there, it was an old Chevrolet, a '28 Chevrolet motor.

Dorothy Auman:

That's right. And uh, without the frame of the truck.

Walter Auman:

Yeah, it was just the motor sitting there.

Dorothy Auman:

That's what it was. Yeah, I remember seeing that.

Walter Auman:

And then, uh, he hooked up electricity to it, in, uh, I guess in the late '40s.

Dorothy Auman:

That's when he moved it down the hill there, and made that big, great, big, huge, uh, clay mill.

Walter Auman:

Yeah, and then he bought a tractor, and sometime in the middle '50s he started using a tractor, and used a tractor as long as we kept the shop opened up.

Michelle A. Francis:

The pug mill, further blends the clay. Pulverizes it?

Dorothy Auman:

Yeah, right. It has like, uh, alternating knives, that is beveled in such a way, that when you put it in over on one end of it, these knives keep cutting through it. And as they cut it, it pushes it about a half a inch, every time the knife goes through it, it'll push it down about a half a inch, that knife will. Okay, our next knife will push it down a half a inch, so eventually, as it comes on out. 'See, you've got an area there about like this, and it keeps compressing it in there, too.

Dorothy Auman:

. . .uh, four feet there, that, by the time it comes out down here, all these knives has chopped it up fine and there's nothing in it. It's very fine. And if it's not, if you've got some bumpy clay that it's not, you simply take it back and run it through a second time.

Michelle A. Francis:

Run it through again. And then, what did your dad do with it? (End Tape 1, Side 1)



Michelle A. Francis:

After the clay had been put through the pug mill, and it came out all very fine and dry, right? Is it dry?

Walter Auman:

No, it's moist, then.

Michelle A. Francis:

Is it moist?

Walter Auman:

Yes, it's moist when it comes out through the pug mill. That's, you've already added your water to it. And when it comes out the end, then you usually use a wire to test it, to see if it's, cut through it, to see if it's, uh, has any lumps or. . .

Michelle A. Francis:

Um-hum, foreign--if there's any foreign material.

Walter Auman:

Yes, if there's anything. If it's not lumpy or anything, then you just carry it in there and usually pack it in a box in the turner's room. And, uh, stack it up in there and they'll, and if the turner's not really pushed with his clay, he'll let it lay there for several days before he uses it. And, uh, he keeps it in a moist box.

Dorothy Auman:

Uncle Frank used to say that's the knitting period. And if you don't let it knit together again. Remember, we talked about the fibers. Now, I don't know how these older potters knew, 'cause they didn't read or study, technically, the thing. But they seemed to know that this clay knit together and it was far more pliable, far more workable, uh, after it lay there a period of time.

Walter Auman:

Well, they found out by letting it do that, that it was, that it worked better. So they just, they didn't know what caused it, but, they knew it worked better if they'd let it lay.

Michelle A. Francis:

It held together better.

Dorothy Auman:

It's just like cheese. There must be a bacteria in there that works.

Michelle A. Francis:

There is a bacteria in it.

Dorothy Auman:

Oh, really!

Michelle A. Francis:

Yeah, there is. I guess it's because of the moisture in there. . .

Walter Auman:

Oh, yes.



Michelle A. Francis:

. . .you know, because of the moisture, the bacteria grows. And I don't know if that has anything to do with the pliability and elasticity of it or not. . .

Dorothy Auman:

Must be!

Michelle A. Francis:

. . .but, there's definitely bacteria.

Dorothy Auman:

We always thought there's little bitty men walked in there at night, you know, and worked it up good for us, you know. (Laughter)(Tape stops then starts)

Michelle A. Francis:

Dorothy, we were talking about the different, the temperatures that you fire the earthenware. And you were telling me that you fire both the bisque and glaze firing very high. The bisque firing, also.

Dorothy Auman:

Yes, uh, one of the reasons is we want the shrinkage to get completely out of the picture of it before we waste some glazing on a piece. If it shrinks too much, you know, we don't to bother with it. Uh, in our earthenware, it seems like that we have more shrinkage in the greenware stage--don't you think this, Walt?

Walter Auman:

Yes, we have much more in the greenware than we do on the. . .

Michelle A. Francis:

Would you say, like, 20%?

Dorothy Auman:

Oh, 15.

Michelle A. Francis:

15%?

Dorothy Auman:

Yeah.

Walter Auman:

Yes, not much over that. It would probably be a little bit less than that.

Dorothy Auman:

But when you add some fire shrinkage, when it goes through the kiln, it shrinks again, and then it might run up to about 20%, you see. The two of them together. But, uh, if you overfire a piece, that piece is going to shrink enormously. And sometimes it just shrinks down so small until you can't even use it, or you don't want to use it. I'm thinking in terms of like sugar and creamers. If you have fired the sugar bowls at a reasonable temperature, and then somehow or another the cream pitchers has got overfired, then you've got a non-matching set here. And the same thing



applies to like lids. If you run your lids way high, uh, your lids are going to shrink down to where they're going to fall down through your pot.

Michelle A. Francis:

Do you fire, bisque fire those separately? You do not fire the lids and the container together?

Walter Auman:

No, we take 'em off. We take them off of the pot to fire the lids.

Dorothy Auman:

But, uh, like Walter said, we fire up pretty high off the earthenware. Uh, and of course, like I explained, the reason of it is to hit that line where your customers don't come back in and say, "Oh, the tea ran all over my pitcher on the wrong end!" (Laughter) And, of course, then, you take a pie dish, now, uh, to stick in the oven, it's got to have a little porousness in there for it to play on. For our native clay to do this.

Michelle A. Francis:

Are there different--are there shapes that are easier to do in earthenware than stoneware?

Dorothy Auman:

Easier?

Michelle A. Francis:

Mm-hum.

Dorothy Auman:

Well, being on the turning end, Walter, I believe I would say earthenware is far superior to the turning, uh, and so anything that would be, like a long neck or a tall, slender vase or something, I believe, yeah, I think earthenware exceeds by far your qualities, because it's more plastic in the turning than your stoneware in your turning.

Walter Auman:

You have more of a variety of shapes in your earthenware. You have a range from any of your cooking pie dishes, casseroles, water pitchers, even down to candle holders. Things like that.

Michelle A. Francis:

They seem to be easier to do in earthenware because?

Walter Auman:

Yes, I think it's easier, as far as working with it. And, of course, she said that it would work much better to the turning.

Dorothy Auman:

Well, there is a warmness, a mellowness, uh, a country look--and that's what I'm trying to say--a softer look about earthenware that you just don't get with stoneware.



Walter Auman:

You have more of a variety of colors in earthenware than you do in stoneware, much brighter colors.

Dorothy Auman:

And even though you just dip it in the clear glazethat warm, beautiful orange glaze. I've never seen anybody that it didn't just--the old saying is just "turn 'em on." You know, that--just to see that warm earthy color. There's just something about the color of the earth that people like, and I do. It's just my, my first love, really.

Walter Auman:

Lot of people call it the earth tones now.

Michelle A. Francis:

Does clay, do glazes adhere to the earthenware differently than stoneware?

Walter Auman:

Yes, very much. You have much brighter colors in your earthenware. When you get into the higher temperatures, it seems to burn the colors out.

Michelle A. Francis:

Dull them?

Walter Auman:

Yes.

Dorothy Auman:

Well, did you mean adhere physically to the body of the earthenware?

Michelle A. Francis:

That, too. I was asking really both things.

Dorothy Auman:

What do you think? Uh, since we don't do stoneware, I, I'm just not that familiar with stoneware. We have absolutely no trouble in earthenware.

Walter Auman:

I would think in your stoneware you that wouldn't have as--uh, you would have--it would stick to the pot pretty, much. But in our earthenware, we have very little problems with it.

Michelle A. Francis:

I guess what I'm thinking about is that earthenware is more porous. Just the nature of it is more porous. And I was just wondering if it would take to glazing better?

Dorothy Auman:

Oh, surely it does!

Walter Auman:

I'm sure it does. I'm sure it takes the glaze better. Because you have a more porous body, and that's what you've got to have to, uh, when you dip the pot in your glaze to, uh, for enough glaze to stick to it.

Dorothy Auman:

But, now as far back as I can remember, uh, another purpose of us firing that bisque up real high, was soI



know, Daddy'd always say, "It's underfired, it's got too much glaze on it." And he was always careful about not putting too much of your glaze on it, uh, too thick a coat. And maybe this stems from the fact that always, your potters was always conscious over the fact that the, uh, lead wasn't good to eat, you know. But then after they quit using the lead glazes and started on the carbonate, the white carbonate--it was refined. Your red glazes aren't refined, they're just a pure, unadulterated glazes.

Michelle A. Francis:

Yeah. When did they start using the carbonated?

Dorothy Auman:

This must to have been in the late '30s. This was, um, part of the, here, . . .

Michelle A. Francis:

In Seagrove.

Dorothy Auman:

Yeah, but, before that, late '30s, no, I would say more like '32 and '33. This was about the time that the New Hill shop was being put in. And at that time they were using that carbonated lead. So, it wasn't that the potters here found it, it was the fact that in Ohio, during this period of this art period, the transition period, they had lots of, uh, ceramic engineers and chemical engineers who did nothing but work for these ceramic companies. And they pooled their resources, these ceramic people who was putting out the materials, pooled their resources and had laboratories all around them up in the Ohio Valley. Eve got the benefit of this, of their research. And we should always forever remember and be grateful for this.

Michelle A. Francis:

And they, along with other different sorts of glazes, they came up with the carbonated lead.

Dorothy Auman:

Right. Which, not only was less dangerous, but also gave more pastel colors, which was the in thing at that, during the '30s and the '40s. Pastels. Pinks, powder blues, all these, lavenders, you know. This was the in thing, man. You can almost look at a pot today and tell what year it was made in.

Michelle A. Francis:

Just by the glaze! Gee. Have you, when you started using earthenware--your Dad, and then later, of course, yourself--have you dropped some of the shapes and forms and added others, or are you still using the same, making the same pots?



Dorothy Auman:

Well, us, here, we, I think we have added and dropped a lot and added a lot or gone back to the earlier shapes. Now, uh, you know, we have been interested in the earlier pots, prior to the transitional period. And, in studying back on this, we found that the earthenware was made predominantly, almost exclusively, up until about the first quarter of the 19th century. Our first salt glaze kiln, that we have been able to nail down, started in 1819.

Michelle A. Francis:

1819, in this area?

Dorothy Auman:

Well, that was down at Fayetteville, which was--it came here immediately after--which I would certainly say, certainly before 1925. I'd say within the next two or three years.

Michelle A. Francis:

1925 or 1825?

Dorothy Auman:

1825, excuse me! (Laughter) So, the next kiln that I know of would have been Rafe Cole's kiln. And it was definitely a salt glaze kiln. And, I know that he was making there in 1825. So, you can see that it came in fast, if it wasn't already here. Now, we may know an earlier kiln than 1819, but so far that's our first date that we can nail down. Mm-hum. Prior to this, everything was made earthenware. (

Michelle A. Francis:

Salt glaze

Dorothy Auman:

"Storage jars, churns--everything! Uh, but after this salt glaze process became so popular through this area, then of course your housewives, your people preferred a stoneware salt glaze jug to put syrup in that didn't get sticky on the outside. And storage jars for where they would brine the meat down in. The salt didn't come on the outside. You know, it was just cleaner living. And it was just more preferable. However, now, don't get so carried away on the salt glaze period that you forget that earthenware was still being made all during this time, because you will neverthey just never did find anything that took the place of the earthenware in the kitchen.

Michelle A. Francis:

Those were your dirt dishes.

Dorothy Auman:

Yes, mm-hum. Your cooking pots, your bowls, your plates in the table, all of this sort of thing. Uh, there was an immense market for this. So, I'm sure there was still earthen--nothing but earthenware potters along. But the potters' work that survived, of course, was the stoneware. It's stronger. More of that survived, and so we tend to look at it, we have a greater amass or collection of the salt pieces than we do the earthenware pieces simply because the earthenware pieces got broken. They were thrown out of the kitchen, through usage, much more than the storage jars were.



Michelle A. Francis:

They chip easier, don't they?

Dorothy Auman:

Right. Well, there was a period that I think earthenware subsided more than any other period that I can find, and as far back as I can go in history. And that was during the time, what we call the whiskey jug era. Which would have been, what, from about 1885 till 1915. And it looked like, now there was still some made, we were finding some pieces, but the. . .

Michelle A. Francis:

Some earthenware pieces?

Dorothy Auman:

Mm-hum, but the majority of that had turned to jugs.

Michelle A. Francis:

For whiskey?

Dorothy Auman:

Mm-hum. Because. . .

Michelle A. Francis:

Moonshine jugs.

Dorothy Auman:

Mm-hum. That's right. And this came about really from the, what we call the farm depression. Um, that, um, really, the roots of that went back to the Civil War. And, then as things began to coming out, uh, the government formed this, uh, allegiance, Farmers' Allegiance Program, which later turned into, um, what's it called today, Future Farmers. . .

Walter Auman:

Farm Bureau.

Dorothy Auman:

. . .Farm Bureau, whatever. It was based on that. And, they sent a man around in, not just the Seagrove community, but all over, helping farmers. They'd meet with them, and try to educate them, to tied over, because, the more knowledgeable people in agriculture knew that it was a time and it would just take its time to run out. It's hard luck gone to agriculture. So, this man would go around to the various communities and would look and see what other cash incomes could be, the farmers could do. And, of course, turpentine products were all over the Piedmont, you know, and it was here. . .

Michelle A. Francis:

I know. A lot of lumbering operations started at that time--turn of the century.

Dorothy Auman:

That's right. And, of course, the, uh, cross tie industry, which was making millions of miles of track for the trains which was coming in, and that's an interesting little note about Seagrove, now. It was known at one time as the Cross Tie Capitol of the World.



Michelle A. Francis:

Was it?

Dorothy Auman:

Um-hum. There seems to grow a hardwood here. Is it oak, Walter?

Walter Auman:

Oak. Now they're growing hickory and oak is. . .

Dorothy Auman:

It's a type of a oak. But it was very plentiful here and it lasted longer than any other kind of wood, or even oak that was grown in other places. So, of course, if they got, say, five more years usage out of those cross ties, the train companies, you know, wanted those extra years. So they would always request Seagrove cross ties. They even shipped cross ties to Australia.

Michelle A. Francis:

Really!

Dorothy Auman:

Oh, yes! It was. . .

Michelle A. Francis:

It was a big business, then.

Dorothy Auman:

Very big. This was. And gave a medium of cash into the family to buy the sugar and the shoes and that sort of thing with. But, then, they looked towards other things. And one of them was making whiskey, which was a legal operation at that time. It was legal as long as the man who made itthe whiskey--and sold it, measured it and so forth, and sold it in a legal way and gave the government their. tax money on it. And this was, uh, almost like an honor system. However, they would come by every once in a while and check on it. They would also check the proof. Walter, don't we have one of those proof meters?

Walter Auman:

We did have. We don't have it anymore.

Dorothy Auman:

Well, where they would check the proof on this whiskey. But, then of course you had your League of Churches coming in by about 18 and 90. They were beginning to voice opposition. By later, say 1898, it was beginning to be very strong opposed from the church stand and from the social standpoint. Anybody who made whiskey wasn't sociably accepted around here. So, uh, then the Probation [sic] Acts began, and, by, say, 19--what was it--lasted till 1915, 1913, whatever. It pretty well done away with it. However, now, during this period, when times were so hard for the farmers, times were getting better. And, so, uh, they began selling their corn and. . .

Michelle A. Francis:

They could sell their crops again.



Dorothy Auman:

That's right. But, now, here's another point. A lot of these farmers who were farmers by trade, who never made a pot in their life, started building kilns in the back yard and they would find what we call journeyman potters to come over and do the turning. And maybe the farmer and the potter, or maybe they'd hire somebody else to come in and do the firing of it, and they made jugs. And a lot of these farmers did not make whiskey. These were the ones who made the jugs.

Michelle A. Francis:

Okay, so there were some that were making the whiskey and selling it, and then there were some that started making jugs?

Dorothy Auman:

Right, some of the farmers, now.

Michelle A. Francis:

Were they also selling the jugs to larger distilleries? Were there any larger distilleries in the state? Or was it just mainly local?

Dorothy Auman:

Most of these jugs at that period of time, went to like, the grocery store. Because the man who made the whiskey, sold that whiskey to the grocery man or to the store, to the retailer, in kegs or barrels. All right. When somebody came to the store and wanted a half a gallon of whiskey, they needed a half a gallon jug there for him to put it in. So, the price was usually, uh, whiskey, stopper and jug all combined when they sold it. I have a price list on this that's interesting. But, as--now North Carolina, uh, Legislature passed their probation laws. . .

Michelle A. Francis:

Prohibition.

Dorothy Auman:

Prohibition laws, uh, earlier than, say, South Carolina did, and Virginia did. Okay. When the market was closed here, these potters simply put them on a wagon and just drove a little further. It's not that much further down to, well, I've heard Daddy and Uncle Arthur and them tell about going down into the Charleston area. And then, let me tell you a good one. What's the name of that little island out from Charleston, there. Off the coast of South Carolina.

Walter Auman:

I can't remember right now.

Dorothy Auman:

Okay, at that time that island was not part of the United States. So they could not, the laws that was enforced here. So these bigger, more aggressive or more ambitious



whiskey makers, who had the big stills running, simply moved over there and they said there were literally thousands of them over there. Okay, uh, it would come back in to the mainland. . .

Michelle A. Francis:

They would need. . .

Dorothy Auman:

. . .They would need jugs. So, man, our potters supplied them with it. But, then of course, I think that was when, 1915, 1918. It was along about the time the war came. And all of that was cut out. And after that, these islands became part of the United States. Or at least, they came under the jurisdiction of their laws, too. But I thought that was so interesting! (Laughter) They just, uh. . .

Michelle A. Francis:

They just took advantage of territory, didn't they?

Dorothy Auman:

Yeah. Walter, who was the man down here in the post office, Mr., uh, Ollie, Parks, wasn't it?

Walter Auman:

Yeah. In the depot. . .

Dorothy Auman:

Tell her about the, the, jug's a'coming.

Walter Auman:

He was telling that when he was a agent there, here at Seagrove, the depot was, was quite small compared to the buildings today, but, he was telling one time, this was right after he retired, that he could remember seeing the whole floor of the depot sitting in there, sitting full of jugs where people had ordered whiskey. . .

Dorothy Auman:

. . .from Virginia! From Roanoke. . .

Walter Auman:

. . .and it was sitting on the, in there, and of course, the people would come in asking for their shipment, and maybe it would be a half a gallon or even a gallon, jug, sitting in there. And he have to go through and hunt out this name that was tagged onto this jug that was sitting in there. And he said the floor would--he had seen it almost full at certain times of the year when they would, people would send away for their order of whiskey to be shipped in.

Michelle A. Francis:

It sounds like you all were the Jug Capitol. . .

Dorothy Auman:

Just about it for the whiskey jugs. Yes.



Michelle A. Francis:

. . .for the whiskey jugs.

Dorothy Auman:

Now, there was other areas in the country that was called Jug Town. This whole area at that time was known as Jug Town, because of the multitude of jugs that was, that had been produced. But, there was Catawba County, uh, who produced a lot of jugs during this same time. And one up in, um, Buncombe County also. It was just one or two families up there. It wasn't a big operation like it was in say, Catawba County and here.

Michelle A. Francis:

Did your grandfather, Ruffin, he was making jugs, was he doing other things, also. Or was practically everything. . .

Dorothy Auman:

Yes, and you'll always find a potter, back then, who this was parttime work for him. You always had cows to sell, hogs to sell, you had farm work to be done. . .

Michelle A. Francis:

Well, then was your grandfather a farmer also?

Dorothy Auman:

Yes.

Michelle A. Francis:

Okay, he wasn't exclusively a potter.

Dorothy Auman:

That's right. And you were, hardly any. . .

Walter Auman:

. . .farmer, saw mill. . .

Dorothy Auman:

Yes, you just, anything that you could make a dollar with, you, you went into it. At one period of time, Granddaddy even got into the gold mining business.

Michelle A. Francis:

Was he doing, was he in that too?

Dorothy Auman:

Oh yes! Um-hum, yeah. So, anything that had dollar connected to it, you may be sure that anyone that was aggressive, and a potter had to be, had to be ambitious and push, you know, to do this. So, you find 'em fiddling around in a whole lot of things.

Michelle A. Francis:

Did, I guess, then, when prohibition came into effect, and it was, moonshining became illegal, and they weren't making as many pots, what did they find to make to take up that slack?

Dorothy Auman:

They didn't find anything!

Michelle A. Francis:

So, was this. . .



Dorothy Auman:

This is when a lot of the farmer potters went back to farming. Now this is the period of time that you read in, uh, like the Jug Town book that Juliana Busbee says, "All the potters were going back or quit making, and they came in and revised." The Busbees contributed a great contribution, and I don't want to down them by any means. Because they did a great contribution, but it was not in saving the potters. The potters kept on working. The potters were always here. They were here before the family potters, they were here before the farmer potters came in, they stayed right on with their job, with this. This was their thing. It was just like a carpenter carpends, a stone mason puts stones together. A potter makes pots. And these were potters. uh,. . .

Michelle A. Francis:

They were just having to change their immediate occupation to suit the economic times, then.

Dorothy Auman:

Right. And, as, by then the farmers could sell their corn and they'd much rather farm, because they were farmers. And in most cases, in quite, gee, I would hate to say what percentage, but a large percentage in the case, this farmer potter never turned his ware, he depended on this journeyman potter to come around. And in many cases, he never even fired the pots. It was, he had, probably, he put up the kiln and sold the ware. This was his part of it. And, maybe helped dig the clay, this sort of thing. But for the making of the pot, it was still your old potter who was coming around. Because they would pay him so much per gallon to do this.

Michelle A. Francis:

So it was your potters, you know, your established potters, that were still making the dirt dishes and the utilitarian ware. And it was just these farmers that started making, well, I mean, farmers that were making jugs were just making jugs and that's all they were making. They weren't making dishes.

Dorothy Auman:

That's right. That's true. Jugs was their main thing. Now occasionally they may make a few milk crocks or something, but,. . .

Michelle A. Francis:

Yeah, for their own use, but they weren't selling. . .



Dorothy Auman:

Yeah, 99% of their output were jugs. It was for the whiskey trade.

Michelle A. Francis:

So, when jugs were no longer in demand, your grandfather went back and did some farming, and, what happened to his pottery then, during that slack period.

Dorothy Auman:

Okay. . .

Michelle A. Francis:

Was there still a great enough demand for utilitarian pieces to keep him busy?

Dorothy Auman:

Yes, this is what I started to say. People still had cows. They still needed churns. They still needed milk crocks. And, they were going great distances to sell their wares, whereas your farmer potter was using more of a local market. Your potter was going, such as my granddaddy, my great-granddaddy, Evan Cole, was down in Ivanhoe when he died. That's down in the eastern part of the state. And he had taken a wagon load down there. Okay, they didn't have milk crocks and things down there, so it was an open market. So they went wherever they figured there was an open market to sell it. Um, did you start to say something a while ago?

Michelle A. Francis:

Yeah, you looked like you had something you were going to say when I was talking about that.

Walter Auman:

Well, I was just going to include the storage jars and things like that, were still in demand for making kraut and. . .

Dorothy Auman:

. . .brining meat. . .

Walter Auman:

. . .brining meat and storing their syrup, their homemade syrup that they were making on the farm, and things like that. They were still in demand as well as the crocks and the churns.

Dorothy Auman:

Let me tell you of one shape, though. That brings to mind of one shape that went out, uh, when the glass fruit jars came in. The potters were doing canning jars.

Michelle A. Francis:

Canning jars. Were they about the size of, what a quart?

Dorothy Auman:

Well, to a half a gallon. And, uh, they would make a jar, almost straight up, with a little flange on it, and the lid would just sit down flat on this flat flange. And to



seal this, now, see this was stoneware so they could seal it. They would pour the hot, very hot foods in here, especially like tomatoes, that were high acidity that would keep well. And they would pour bee's wax around over the top of this and put that lid on it and tie a cloth over it--to keep anybody from disturbing the lid--and set it up on the shelf. But, now, sometimes they didn't have the bee's wax and I've heard, I've talked to several of the older generation of people who can remember that they used pine balsam to do this. But they said, "Oh, my, that the tomatoes that you'd have to throw out--a third of the jar--because it was tainted with turpentine." And, had kept 'em for sure from spoiling, but. . .

Michelle A. Francis:

I bet it did preserve them!

Dorothy Auman:

. . .but they couldn't eat but just about the last two thirds of the jar.

Michelle A. Francis:

So that was a last resort using that!

Dorothy Auman:

So that's one shape that went out completely.

Michelle A. Francis:

Have you tried to incorporate that shape today?

Dorothy Auman:

No, because, for one thing, our earthenware is porous. It would not seal like that. It would take a stoneware piece to seal. And it's so, uh, oh-so-bothersome, so very bothersome. It's not attractive a piece. Let's take a shape that we have carried on. It's a shape that's quite similar to the canning jar, but the flange lay over, it did not have the little inset for a lid. It was just a wide-flanged top jar. And this was somehow turned as a "sody" jar. I'm sure they kept other things in it, but mainly it was for soda, and the little flange on the top was so that you could, uh, tie a cloth over it and it wouldn't dry up. But today, we still make this jar, and we don't make it for people to use their soda in. Nobody buys that much soda. But, it is the greatest jar for holding, like, wooden utensils. It also makes a great vase.

Michelle A. Francis:

So you kept the shape but changed the use of it.

Dorothy Auman:

It's the same way with our milk crocks. We still make exactly the same old milk crock that has been made for many



generations. But today, they are used more for a slip pot for flowers in the home. A blooming plant, you could put that into it. So the usage has changed, but the shapes, we have retained the old ones. And people like them.

Michelle A. Francis:

They are very pleasing to the eye, I think, because of their simplicity, a lot of times.

Dorothy Auman:

I think so, too.

Michelle A. Francis:

I guess, I was just speaking personally.

Dorothy Auman:

Well, I think you're speaking personally for a lot of people, there, 'cause they're very popular. (Tape stops then starts)

Dorothy Auman:

Okay, let's talk a little bit about the transitional period and what caused that. It's taken me a long time to come to this conclusion, and I believe that anyone else that would do history, reading in history, would have to say the same thing. One of the biggest influences, and I think this answers also the question of why did we survive in the Seagrove area, why did the potters survive when the potters in Catawba County, Shenandoah Valley, many other areas where pottery was still made, say, in the early '20s, they dwindled out. Okay, one of the main facts I've found was this centennial that was held, uh,. . .

Michelle A. Francis:

That's be 1876. . .

Dorothy Auman:

. . .'76, right. They featured a lot of your folk pottery along, also with your modern pottery--the modern that was being done at that time. And a lot of modern was being done out of New York and these places. But, not modern here. We were still with your salt glaze period, you see. Al right, it took a long time, well, for this to catch on. But during this time, after this centennial, you had people like the Vanderbilts, the Roosevelts, name some more of those wealthy families. . .

Michelle A. Francis:

The Carnegie family, the Mellons. . .

Dorothy Auman:

These people came, the Rockefellers for instance, came down. Look what they did for Williamsburg. They began Williamsburg during this period of time. This renaissance of



this folk art time. We had people from New York of these wealthy families who was coming down to that mountain areas and establishing summer homes. The Vanderbilts put up Biltmore, you see what happened. . .

Michelle A. Francis:

Mm-hum, that was during that period.

Dorothy Auman:

Okay, they not only came in and did these building programs, the, especially the women, was very concerned over, the backwardness or over the, uh, what do I want to say? The inability for education opportunities for the children in these mountainous regions. . . (Begin Tape 2, Side 1)

Michelle A. Francis:

You were saying, Dorothy, that the Rockefellers and other wealthy people were coming into the North Carolina mountain area for resort reasons, summer homes, and, they were concerned about the poverty and the illiteracy and just sort of the backwardness, what appeared to be the backwardness to them, of the people, the local people.

Dorothy Auman:

And they were impressed with the many craftspeople that they found, so they used these crafts as a means of getting to the people, or being accepted, so that they could help them. Now, I tell you, you know a lot of snide remarks have been made about people with money, like them. But you find that these people really had hearts, to, to consider doing this. They established schools, they established clubs, like women's clubs that they could get to and taught them how to cook better meals, more nourishing meals, this sort of thing. But underneath all this was the craft program, which gave cash money into these families. If they could make a basket, they, if they put up, like Allentown, was the craft place there in Asheville, was established by these people.

Michelle A. Francis:

They had craft guilds, didn't they?

Dorothy Auman:

Well, later these were developed. . .

Michelle A. Francis:

. . .into guilds?

Dorothy Auman:

. . .from their efforts, but mainly, it was their efforts, and it was theirs, and they would get together and



decide what was good for them, you know. But, after it got going, and after they sort of pulled out, then, it became into the guild, and was left in, in capable hands.

Michelle A. Francis:

Okay. So the potters benefited from this, along with people making baskets and quilts and carvings and. . .

Dorothy Auman:

That's right. And, another thing that they started doing was collecting the things that their daddies had made, the potter's daddy, say a generation, two generations, three generations-the older the better. Antiques was a (whistle) thing with them, you know! They wanted rail fences around the places, and all this sort of stuff, you know.

Michelle A. Francis:

So, the rich people, the wealthy people came in and they sort of created a market for- what was really a home industry.

Dorothy Auman:

That's right.

Michelle A. Francis:

And then they also placed, created a value, an increased value on the older pieces. . .

Dorothy Auman:

. . .pieces, which gave, whether it was a basket or quilt or pot, the family, pride, in that particular craft that they were doing. And this was, you know, early, for pride to be in it. Before, it was just simply a way of making an extry [sic] dollar.

Michelle A. Francis:

Yeah. We're still talking about like the 1890s, or have we gone into early 1900s?

Dorothy Auman:

Well, 1890s, yes, and 1900s. Now, the, here was Pinehurst that was established in 1885--excuse me, I'm wrong, 1895--which had begun as a health resort, and then it became a very popular resort for these same people, who came from there down here and spent part of the time. This was the budding golf capitol of everywhere, you know. . .

Michelle A. Francis:

Yeah, the United States. . .

Dorothy Auman:

Uh, it, uh, you weren't anybody if you didn't go to Pinehurst. So, here again, the same pattern emerged. These people began coming out, and visiting the potters, the weavers, the other people. They began collecting up an amass, vast collection of these older pieces of, uh, of pottery, of quilts, or whatever. And today some of these. . .



Michelle A. Francis:

. . .in the Seagrove area. . .

Dorothy Auman:

. . .Yes! They did. But, then, as time went on, and during this time, they, um, they began saying to the potter, "Look, I'd like to have a vase made like this. I don't need a churn. Could you make me a vase?" "Yes, if you'll draw it off on--" "I'll bring you a picture of it." These were world wide travelers. They were art connoisseurs. They knew what was good for 'em and what was bad for 'em. But they wanted more color into their pieces of ware. So this initiated the desire, locally. There was an outlet for the clay. But, like I said while ago, go back, and this was happening all over the United States, not just here in North Carolina. It was happening in West Virginia, it was happening in Kentucky, it was happening everywhere. And in Ohio, these were smarter people than we were down here, as far as--

Michelle A. Francis:

They had just more expertise, maybe.

Dorothy Auman:

Well, they got in there and decided that they, they started off with turners in their shops. And they realized that they could not get the perfection that they wanted to make with turners. So they turned to molds. And then the potter aged out. I don't think they fired any potter. I think he stayed there as long as he wanted to. But the molded, the chinaware, this type thing, came into being. Okay, it created a tremendous market of hiring, ooh, put out millions of pieces of beautiful wares. While they were there, ceramic, the ceramic industry--that is, the people who would have, like, the cobalt oxides and this sort of thing, and would powder them up and get 'em ready for the potters, began being established there. And, as problems came up, they solved the problem in order to sell their ceramic materials.

Michelle A. Francis:

So they solved any technical problems or questions that the potters had about glazes, or--

Dorothy Auman:

That's right. And we got the benefits of it. Maybe they didn't know how small we were, or maybe it was out of the goodness of their heart that they was, that they was helping us. I don't know. I talked to one man, and he, he seemed to think it was a little of it both. A Mr. McGee, and I have his report on this Ohio-made pottery. So I know that this, this is fantastic. This is his report that he wrote on, from the transitional period in Ohio. You could relate it right to this Seagrove area. So I know that this is right, what I am telling you about this.



Michelle A. Francis:

Well, then I guess what happened then, was, and correct me if I've got this confused. We get these wealthy people coming into the area, into the Pinehurst area, for resort reasons. And they start, as individuals they start to buy individual pieces for their own collections and homes, from the potters. And, probably initially, there was still mainly salt glazes, but they wanted, the wealthy people wanted more color in their ware so they started to request it. You know," Can you do me a blue vase," or a red jug, or whatever. And the potters had to go outside to seek these glazes, because it wasn't something that was here already. And so, Ohio had 'a reputation for being a pottery, not center, well, maybe it was a pottery center at that time?

Dorothy Auman:

It was, definitely.

Michelle A. Francis:

And so they would inquire at these chemical houses for glazes, and get information, and that's how the colors got into this area.

Dorothy Auman:

Right. Now there is another angle. There's never one simple answer for these things.

Michelle A. Francis:

Of course not.

Dorothy Auman:

But, in two cases. One of 'em was--Henry Cooper established the, uh. . .

Michelle A. Francis:

North State Pottery.

Dorothy Auman:

. . .North State Pottery. He was well acquainted with the ceramic engineer at our state, North Carolina State College. And he goes over, and he asks him if he would help him. So, he's the one that developed this glaze that is now attributed, really, to Jug Town. But, Nort Cooper's the originator of it. Was that, the copper red, uh, or the blue, that pretty blue. Now you'll notice, when you're looking at these early pieces, that the ones that was done in the '20s, practically all of them were still your stoneware pieces. And this. . .

Michelle A. Francis:

In the '20s they were still stoneware?

Dorothy Auman:

Mm-hum. See, they were used to firing that pot, . . .

Michelle A. Francis:

Oh, okay.



Dorothy Auman:

. . . the clay was there, and they simply, they simply just used what they had, and they started, and they were still. . .

Michelle A. Francis:

So instead of making the crocks and the milk, and the churns and everything. . .

Dorothy Auman:

. . .they began making rose bowls. . .

Michelle A. Francis:

. . .and vases and, and using, but out of the stoneware, not the earthenware. The earthenware though, is still being done, but it was mainly the utilitarian dishes,. . .

Dorothy Auman:

. . .pie dishes and this sort of thing. Uh-huh. But your fancy pieces, now, was still being, and mainly they were salt glazed. And, they began like, pouring cobalt over the top and letting it run down. Beautiful pieces!

Michelle A. Francis:

I bet they were!

Dorothy Auman:

They were beautiful pieces. But then they began other things, such as your iron oxides, you were getting your browns, and then your greens, your copper oxides. Okay. This was a period of the '20s and early '30s, now, of this. And in the meantime, these people began, kept on asking for pastels. We want a pink pot, a blue pot, this sort of thing. So, this is when they began realizing that they could not fire a pink pot at, 2200, 2300 degrees. That if they would drop their temperature down, it would save that color in there. So that is when they came into your earthenware.

Michelle A. Francis:

Okay, that's interesting. That's something we hadn't talked about, and that's very important to know. The glazes, as the demand for pastels increased, then they had to go to a different kind of glaze, I mean, a different kind of clay to get that glaze.

Dorothy Auman:

Temperature, mm-hum.

Michelle A. Francis:

Temperature.

Dorothy Auman:

And of course, then it was a matter, they were still using your stoneware clay, and it wasn't fitting the glaze. And this was a hassle. This was a big hassle. Craze. Oh my, you could lay pencil lead in some of the crazes in those



early pieces. Little by little, they began realizing that the body had to be right to begin with. Start with a new body.

Michelle A. Francis:

That's interesting. (Tape stops then starts)

Michelle A. Francis:

I'm interested in knowing, the demand for the art pottery, and the different bright glazes and the pastel glazes, came initially, just as individual requests from people, the wealthy people that were passing through. But later on, you started shipping out this new ware by the hundreds of thousands to department stores and, you know, shops all over the place. How did they hear about it, initially. What did these wealthy people, did they. . .

Dorothy Auman:

Well, these people always set the style, the taste, for the more moderate person. What they wore was flashed into the magazines and, um, it was copied to patterns, and then the ladies at home could make exactly what Mrs. Roosevelt was wearing, you know.

Michelle A. Francis:

Right, okay. So it was just copy cat, then.

Dorothy Auman:

Right. And isn't this still?

Michelle A. Francis:

Oh, yeah!

Dorothy Auman:

It's always been this. All the way down through, through. . .

Michelle A. Francis:

Well, did the potters then, were they just sitting back, and these department stores came to them? Initially?

Dorothy Auman:

In some cases. Because, a lot of these department store people were taking vacations at Pinehurst, or Asheville--

Michelle A. Francis:

Okay, so they were part of the wealthy people that were going back and forth.

Dorothy Auman:

Yes. And so they wanted to know where this came from, we can sell this in our garden shop. And this was also the beginning of these large urns. . .



(Begin Tape 2, Side 2)

Michelle A. Francis:

The large urns that were, came into vogue during this period of time, for gardens, the outside gardens.

Dorothy Auman:

Yes, uh-huh. In the '30s and '40s. . .

Michelle A. Francis:

. . .'40s, and up through World War II?

Dorothy Auman:

Yes, long about World War II, it sort of subsided. Uh, hundreds of thousands went to Florida. Beautiful yellows, bright beautiful colors. Turquoise was really, oh, it was the rage, turquoise was! Still is, as far as that's concerned.

Michelle A. Francis:

I was going to say, that's still a popular color.

Dorothy Auman:

Uh-huh, yeah. But these large urns were the mainstay of most of your potters here.

Michelle A. Francis:

Were they like, about 24 inches?

Dorothy Auman:

Yes, and even higher than that.

Michelle A. Francis:

Higher than that?

Dorothy Auman:

36. I'll show you some pictures of some that was made. There was a thing about, oh, in the '39 to '40s, that went around with the potters, as to who could make the biggest pot. And this was a fun thing, you know. Nobody was really mad at each other if they could make it. They'd just send word over to say, "Hey, I got you whipped, I got it, I got mine 2 more, 2z inches higher than yours." And so the next day, that potter went at least a inch higher, and another one went 3 inches higher, and so it just went, you know, on like this.

Michelle A. Francis:

Was your brother part of that competition?

Dorothy Auman:

This was a little early for him. He came in just a little bit after that. But, he, too was trying. But, um, this was mainly between Jack Kiser, here now, it was between Jack Kiser, Jim Teague, well, Duck got in on a little of it. Duck didn't turn nearly as much as Jim did. Jim was the real potter in that family.



Michelle A. Francis:

Who, Jim and Duck?

Dorothy Auman:

Teague. Uh, Waymon Cole, uh, these, well, let's see, have I left anybody out?

Michelle A. Francis:

Were the Owens turning?

Dorothy Auman:

Yes, but they did not tend to go in the direction of the large urns the way that these people did. They did some, but nothing in comparison to that. But, uh, the one that caps thatwas, up at, right out from Asheville, a place called Arden there. Where the Brown family was making. They did not turn their piece on the wheel. Now, everybody sort of griped about that. They, they'd taken rolls of clay and did it like, well, a. . .

Michelle A. Francis:

A coil pot?

Dorothy Auman:

Yes, and kept building up. And, they had a tickle and a seat on that tickle which let one of the brothers down into the pot. It was Davis and E.J. Brown that was doing it. One would work on the inside and the other on the outside. And let me tell you, that's one huge pot, now! Let me tell you, it's huge!

Michelle A. Francis:

Well, did they fire it?

Dorothy Auman:

No. It was never fired.

Michelle A. Francis:

I guess not.

Dorothy Auman:

And this was another mark against it. But, somehow, after that, it all subsided. The war came on and nobody, really competed against it. You have seen our big pots sitting up there that was made, like, 1880s?

Michelle A. Francis:

1880s in New York? And that's stoneware, right?

Dorothy Auman:

Yes.

Michelle A. Francis:

And what kind of glaze is on that?

Dorothy Auman:

That's an Albany slip.

Michelle A. Francis:

Albany slip.



Dorothy Auman:

Um-hum.

Michelle A. Francis:

Why do they call it that?

Dorothy Auman:

Well, the Albany clay, which they made the slip from, came from around Albany, New York. And it's a type of clay which melts at a very low temperature, it makes into, like a glaze, when it's fired. . .

Michelle A. Francis:

Oh, it's just a different kind of clay, then.

Dorothy Auman:

Right.

Michelle A. Francis:

Okay.

Dorothy Auman:

Makes a beautiful, lovely, warm, mm! Love that brown!

Michelle A. Francis:

I know! And it's not even, that hasn't even been cleaned up very well.

Dorothy Auman:

So, this one of course was taken over to Tennessee to use in that chemical plant, for making acids.

Michelle A. Francis:

Then you just used it as a vat.

Dorothy Auman:

That, that pot does something to me. It is so huge. I don't know how they fired it. I don't know how they even made it, it's so large.

Michelle A. Francis:

Have you looked in, can you tell, it must have been a coil pot don't you reckon.

Dorothy Auman:

I assume that it was probably a press pot. They had a form and they, somebody would be on the inside and press it.

Michelle A. Francis:

Press it.

Dorothy Auman:

Uh-hum, press it against this form. I imagine that this was done like this.

Michelle A. Francis:

That must have taken a long time!

Dorothy Auman:

Jase, down here at Jase Cole's, uh, Harwood Graves was in on this big pot making thing. And, he made, I guess maybe they made the biggest in this area, because theirs, too, was



this press mold. He made the mold for it, and then they pressed the clay up on the side. And those pieces would stand up shoulder high.

Michelle A. Francis:

Oh my!

Dorothy Auman:

Yes! I tell you!

Michelle A. Francis:

They took this little competition seriously, didn't they?

Dorothy Auman:

Oh yes, oh yes! But, that was just one of the things that you remember and laugh about. (End Tape 2, Side 2)



(Begin Tape 3, Side 1)

Michelle A. Francis:

Walter, when were you born? I forget.

Walter Auman:

When was it?

Michelle A. Francis:

Yeah.

Walter Auman:

I was born in 1926.

Michelle A. Francis:

1926. Here?

Walter Auman:

Just about 3 miles across the county line, in Montgomery County.

Michelle A. Francis:

In Montgomery County?

Walter Auman:

Up near Asbury Community.

Michelle A. Francis:

Tell me a little something about growing up in Asbury. Was it a little crossroads?

Walter Auman:

No, it was just a, we just grew up there where my family owned, owned a farm. It was just a small community built around, really, the church. And, [unintelligible] at one time we had a doctor. My grandfather was sort of an industrialist type person. He had a tanning yard, and a grist mill, and a saw mill, and pottery shop, and blacksmith's shop, and things like that. Just most anything that anyone needed in the community. One little store, and a post office.

Michelle A. Francis:

What was his name?

Walter Auman:

Fletcher Auman.

Michelle A. Francis:

Fletcher Auman. And that was your grandfather.

Walter Auman:

That was my grandfather.

Michelle A. Francis:

You sure had everything you could need right there.

Walter Auman:

Well, he had most of the things that anyone in the community would need, why it was usually there. And, uh, 'course, my father, he picked farming, and that's what he did most of his life. He did a little outside work, as far as working in the saw mill, and hauling. He did a lot of hauling for the neighboring potters around. He; in the wintertime, when the weather was bad and he couldn't farm,



well, he sort of hired himself out as a wagoneer to haul their jugs and crocks off to places like Ellerbe, and Fayetteville, Winston-Salem, places like that.

Michelle A. Francis:

What was his name?

Walter Auman:

Hadley Auman.

Michelle A. Francis:

Did you ever go with him?

Walter Auman:

No, I never did. I wasn't old enough to go out, to be out on the wagon when he was doing that.

Michelle A. Francis:

Were they still doing it with a cart and, you know, a mule or horse, or was this. . .

Walter Auman:

It was usually a two-horse wagon that they would go in.

Michelle A. Francis:

How did they pack the ware?

Walter Auman:

They packed it mostly in straw.

Michelle A. Francis:

In barrels, or just lose?

Walter Auman:

No, they packed it lose. And it was a covered wagon that they used.

Dorothy Auman:

A sooner. A schooner?

Walter Auman:

A schooner.

Dorothy Auman:

It was there out in the barn for years and years. What ever happened to it?

Walter Auman:

It was sold at his sale. And we, had a good life, as far as, we had no money. We raised our meat and our vegetables and what we had to eat. And we had plenty to eat, such as it was. We was, we had plenty of ham meat and sweet potatoes, and most anything that would grow in the garden that my mother would can. And that, we was fortunate in that. We raised tobacco for a money crop, but it was very little money it would bring in a few



years. Some years it wouldn't bring in enough to pay the fertilizer bill. I can remember a few of those, where'd hear them talk about them. I had no responsibility much in them.

Dorothy Auman:

Do taking the ham biscuits to school on that white bread crust, you know.

Walter Auman:

Yeah, we were, as kids was, we'd be going to school, and our mother would pack our lunches back then. And, of course, we would have, she would make these homemade biscuits, and put a big slice of country ham in there. It would be real thick. And we'd carry that to school with us. And we were almost ashamed of our, of our raising, carried those sweet potatoes and ham biscuits and an old rusty-coat apple in our lunch bag.

Dorothy Auman:

This was right about the time, now, that loaf bread hit the market around here.

Michelle A. Francis:

Uh-huh, which would have been, what, probably. . .

Walter Auman:

This is back in the early '30s. During the depression, really.

Dorothy Auman:

It was the town, like the kids that grew up in town, now, would take loaf bread. Where their daddies ran, like a hosiery mill or something, that didn't farm.

Michelle A. Francis:

And the loaf bread was considered?

Dorothy Auman:

Whew, elite!

Walter Auman:

Yeah, it was a light bread and they'd bring those, sandwiches to school and we have laughed about it a lot since then. Those kids from town bringing those stale baloney sandwiches to school, and they were just the envy of our eyes, to see them eating light bread.

Dorothy Auman:

Sometimes you'd swap with them.

Walter Auman:

Yes, we'd even, we'd trade lunches every once in a while to get one of them. And we thought that was something to eat those--we didn't realize that we was eating high on the hog then.

Michelle A. Francis:

No, you sure didn't!

Walter Auman:

(Laughter) We just, uh, kids, we always had chores to do when we got home from school. Each one of us had a job to



do. It was feeding the stock, or getting in wood in the wintertime, or working in the fields, or garden or whatever. There was always jobs to do.

Michelle A. Francis:

How many kids were in your family?

Walter Auman:

There was one girl, the oldest, and four boys.

Michelle A. Francis:

Her name, tell me their names. Start with the oldest.

Walter Auman:

Ruth was the oldest. She was the only sister that I had. And then I had another brother, Ferrell, then myself, then I had a brother, Max, and then the last one was Mack.

Dorothy Auman:

Jack.

Walter Auman:

Jack. Jack was the last one. And, there were four boys and one girl in the family.

Michelle A. Francis:

What sort of chores were your responsibility?

Walter Auman:

Well, as you got older it would change. The oldest ones would usually have to look after feeding the hogs and maybe gathering some corn, or. whatever. And then the next ones would probably be getting in the wood. And, of course the younger ones, they, that was too small, they didn't have chores, then. But there was always something for them. . .

Dorothy Auman:

Well, a lot of your winter afternoons, too, and nights, was spent grading that tobacco out. 'Cause each, each grade meant that it would bring a little different amount of money.

Michelle A. Francis:

Price, mm-hum.

Walter Auman:

Yes, tobacco had to be graded by hand, and then tied in little bundles, hung on a stick, and it had to be, each leaf stretched out and spread out to where it would--and then you'd carry it to market and by the time the buyers got through with it, tumbling it around over the warehouse, why, it didn't make much difference. As I say, we had no money, so we had no toys, only just what we made. Wagons and things like that. And we could always find things to do in the woods, like playing on the grapevines, climbing in the trees.



Michelle A. Francis:

Playing lots of make-believe games.

Walter Auman:

Oh yes.

Dorothy Auman:

How 'bout your wagons, how did you make them?

Walter Auman:

Oh, we'd go out in the woods and find us a big old sweet gum tree and we'd saw it down. We'd try to get one that was, had a, was as perfectly round as we could. And we saw us some wheels off, blocks off, that would be about 2 1/2 inches thick. We'd saw maybe a couple a dozen of those, as long as you'd stay in the round part of the tree. And then we'd take them and, uh, keep them close to the branch, where it'd keep them wet, to dry out so they wouldn't crack. And then you could drill a hole in the center of them and make you a wooden axle to put in there and it would just last forever. Those old gum trees were so twisted until they wouldn't crack and split open like a poplar or an oak piece would. It would just, it tied itself together, the grains of it did.

Michelle A. Francis:

Then you'd take you some boards and lay across the axle?

Walter Auman:

Yes, just take you, and build you a bed on it, just like you would a little wagon. And we'd build wagons to race with down the hills.

Dorothy Auman:

And they'd go to the top of the hill and see who could get down to the bottom fastest.

Michelle A. Francis:

Uh-oh.

Dorothy Auman:

And sometimes they ended up socking a tree, you know. Busting the wagon all to pieces.

Walter Auman:

These car races now, they ain't got nothing on what most of the boys had when they were growing up, back in those days.

Michelle A. Francis:

(Laughter) Were there other children in your, you know, nearby, or were you pretty isolated?

Walter Auman:

Oh yes. All the families that were in the, they were, probably a quarter of a mile apart, the houses were, or maybe sometimes further. Most of the people had children. They raised their own help.



Dorothy Auman:

Well, his mother had, uh, was from a large, very large family. And, his mother was close and they visited a lot. And all of his cousins were about the same age. So, there was hardly a week went by that there wasn't two or three groups of people.

Michelle A. Francis:

Groups of people together.

Dorothy Auman:

Yes, of these cousins. I've listened to these stories for so many times when they get together. (Laughter) Of riding the mules, and all this sort of stuff.

Michelle A. Francis:

Well then, tell me about that, riding the mules.

Walter Auman:

We didn't get to ride our mules too much in the summertime when we were working them.

Dorothy Auman:

But tell about your city cousin that came out. (Laughter)

Walter Auman:

We'd, uh, in the wintertime we could get them out and ride them when we wasn't working them. But, my father wouldn't let us ride the mules when, in the summertime when we were working on the farm for he said that mule needed as much rest as it could get. And, we could walk as well then, as we could.

Michelle A. Francis:

Yeah.

Walter Auman:

But we had some cousins that lived in Charlotte, and they would come over occasionally. And that's all they wanted to do is ride the horses and mules. And my father had one old horse that he called Joe. And Daddy'd remark a lot of times about him, said he could trot all day under the shade of a tree. So when they'd come over we'd always put these boys on the, on the horse to ride, and then we'd get out and thump gravels at him, make him jump and he'd, of course he'd buck them off and they'd hit the ground. That was our thrill to get those city kids out there and riding the horses so we could thump gravels. And they didn't know what was a'going on. (Laughter)

Michelle A. Francis:

Did you have family reunions?



Walter Auman:

Not then we didn't. They started in the '30s, in the late '30s and had family reunions up until World War II, and they quit for about four years during the war, of having reunions. But since then they've started back, and they've had one every year since.

Michelle A. Francis:

So that's a long-standing family tradition.

Walter Auman:

Oh yes.

Michelle A. Francis:

Back then, would they be like a day-long affair. Or would people come for the whole weekend?

Walter Auman:

Oh yes, they'd be for a day, the whole day long.

Dorothy Auman:

A whole weekend sometimes, part of them would.

Walter Auman:

Some of them that lived "a distance away would come and probably stay a couple days.

Dorothy Auman:

They slept in the barns, on the floor, just wherever that they could find a place to sleep.

Michelle A. Francis:

Would they come to your dad's place or your grandfather's place?

Walter Auman:

They'd come to my dad's place.

Michelle A. Francis:

That was where everybody came to?

Walter Auman:

This was after my grandfather passed away.

Michelle A. Francis:

Mm-hum. Did you ever help, or were you around your grandfather's pottery?

Walter Auman:

No, he closed that shop in, around 1890, I suppose. Somewheres in that area.

Dorothy Auman:

His grandfather died when he was three days old.

Michelle A. Francis:

Oh, so you never knew your grandfather.

Walter Auman:

No, I never knew my, any of my grandparents.

Michelle A. Francis:

Did your father, did you tell me that your father had a pottery at one time?



Walter Auman:

No, my father never did own a pottery shop. He, he worked around some of the neighbors that, and did a little wagon hauling for them.

Michelle A. Francis:

When you went to school, did they have a nine-month calendar like today, or did you go to school when the weather was bad and when it was good you had to farm?

Walter Auman:

Uh, we had, when we was going to school, it was eight month school. We had eleven grades. And they never started the twelfth or going to school nine months until a few years after we were out.

Dorothy Auman:

Also, they wasn't that strict about attendance back then like they are now. You've got to go a certain amount of days or you don't pass that grade. And back then, it. wasn't, because the teachers and the school were sympathetic toward the family unity of working together.

Walter Auman:

As long as you kept your grades up, you could stay out of school, but you had to, you still had to do some studying when you stayed out.

Michelle A. Francis:

You still had to make grades.

Walter Auman:

They was very lenient on the children back then.

Michelle A. Francis:

Then you worked after school, doing chores?

Walter Auman:

Oh, yes.

Michelle A. Francis:

All through school.

Walter Auman:

All through school.

Michelle A. Francis:

And really grew up a farmer.

Walter Auman:

Yes.

Michelle A. Francis:

How did your growing up differ, Dorothy?

Dorothy Auman:

Well, instead of me coming in the evenings and having to grade tobacco or go pull fodder or go pull corn off, this sort of thing, I didn't have to do that. My daddy always had



something around the shop to be done. Water, water always had to be carried from the spring. That was my job. Oh, it was a dreaded job.

Michelle A. Francis:

So you didn't have a pump?

Dorothy Auman:

No.

Michelle A. Francis:

In the pottery?

Dorothy Auman:

And, uh, the spring was down below it, and if he made glazes or was going to grind clay the next day or had to wet the sacks down and spread over the clay, that sort of thing, those buckets had to be filled with water. So that was my job. Helping grind the clay was my job, earlier. And, carrying the stuff out to the kiln from the shop that was dry, to be, to go into the kiln for bisque firing, usually was my job along with somebody else's. I didn't do it by myself. So there was always a chore. Always. And I don't know how old I was when I, really, it seems to me like I was always fascinated with the wheel. And, the potters back then were so persnickety about their wheel, you know. It was their wheel. Well, I look back now and I realize I broke the wires, and I moved their chips, and the rag that they'd have to wipe their hands on might be muddier than what they liked for it to be. I left it in a mess, I expect. So they fussed, and they fussed, and they fussed. They'd go to the house and eat dinner and I'd sneak out and go turn a piece on the wheel. And it was fuss all the evening. So my daddy got real tired of hearing them fuss, and he said, "I'm gonna make you a wheel." And he made it to where the crank shaft was up higher, you know, where the fly wheel is. Okay, he made that crank shaft to where it was up higher than just above the fly wheel. And I stood on a box. It was a wooden box. And he fixed the pedal to where I was just the right. . .

Michelle A. Francis:

At the right height on the box to use the pedal?

Dorothy Auman:

. . .on the box, uh-huh, to use the pedal. And I don't know whatever happened to that crank shaft. It's probably around here somewhere.

Michelle A. Francis:

Well, then most of the potters made their own wheels?

Dorothy Auman:

Yes, mm-hum. They would just take a piece of iron and bend it at where that little crank shaft notch needed to be,



and hang that board, the further end of it, the lose end, up with a chain. So that gave it freedom to go backward and forward, backward and forward. And it worked like a choo-choo wheel, you know. Of course, that turns your top part of the wheel. And the wheel, even the big wooden wheel was made out of wood, and usually with two or three iron bands around it to make it heavy. But now your top was always made out of, uh, just uh, a piece of tree, and it was usually, probably four inches thick.

Michelle A. Francis:

Like the round?

Dorothy Auman:

Well, across the diameter. Most of those at that time, I know mine was, perhaps, 12 inches across at the top of it.

Michelle A. Francis:

They must, did they use a special, a particular tree? Because, that, you know, that wheel gets wet.

Dorothy Auman:

Yes, there were some of the woods I can remember that would fuzz. Now, apple wood was good because it would fuzz up and you could sand it off and it wouldn't fuzz up anymore. So apple wood was a choice. Cedar was good, too. But, I can remember that I had a pine top on one of, on mine. And it eventually, kept cracking and cracking, little crackles came in it, until it was, your fingers would just wear out on these little cracks, running over them. So daddy had to redo it, I can remember. But now this spindle, you know, this main spindle, that had your top wheel on it, that you made your pots on, it went on down, it had the crank shaft on it, and then the big, big fly wheel. Okay, this sat on a particular type of rock. Instead of having, uh, ooh, what do you call it? Well, today we have something else around our wheels. What is it called?

Michelle A. Francis:

I'm not sure I know.

Dorothy Auman:

Has little ball bearings around it. Gear, uh. . .

Michelle A. Francis:

A gear?

Dorothy Auman:

Not a gear, well, anyhow, it will come to me in a minute. See, we need Walter. That's when we need Walter (Laughter) This was set on a white flint stone.



Michelle A. Francis:

It just sat on the stone?

Dorothy Auman:

Right, and you had to, to, uh, really know what you's doing to get that wheel to where it wouldn't wobble. Because there was a. . .

Michelle A. Francis:

The top wheel?

Dorothy Auman:

. . .Mm-hum. There was a, right under the slip box, which was built on later, now. But right, say, 'bout 6 inches below the bottom part of your top wheel where you made your pottery at, they would put like a 4 x 4 diagonally ,across the corner of the shop there and brace that. And put pieces of leather to hold that spindle tight against this. They'd drill out a little, cut out .a little notch in this 4 x 4: Okay, then that piece of leather would act, what's the name of that thing again? Whatever. It would act like that. Okay, that had to be in perfect line with this spot on this, uh, flint block for it to go straight up and not wobble, wobble, wobble. Because if it didn't--

Michelle A. Francis:

Like a top, it needed to be perfectly balanced.

Dorothy Auman:

Mm-hum, that's right. And out in the fields, if you were plowing, or if you's just walking somewhere, and you came across a white flint rock that had a nice, little indention up on the top of it, you saved it for that purpose. It taken a special rock, so you saved this. And usually. . .

Michelle A. Francis:

Was it a large rock?

Dorothy Auman:

Very large. It would be as big as, uh, well, a half of a peck water bucket. That big, anyway. It'd be so large until say, I as a child couldn't think of moving it around. And sometimes it would take two men to move it. So, they would dig out a place in the shop, because the ground was, the floor of the shop was just the ground. They'd dig out a place and bury that down so it wouldn't move about. And that's what they would start with and come on up.

Michelle A. Francis:

Okay.

Dorothy Auman:

And that taken some know-how, now let me tell you!

Michelle A. Francis:

I was going to say, that's a rather technical thing.



Dorothy Auman:

That taken some know-how. And it taken a lot of adjusting, you know, to get it done. But this was the way, the old wheels were. And I've never known, and I've hunted back in history, I've questioned older, the older generations, that would've been in like my grandfather's day, and they could never remember, they didn't even know what you's talking about when you'd say "set down" to turn a piece of pottery. Everybody stood up.

Michelle A. Francis:

They still do around here, don't they?

Dorothy Auman:

Yes, uh-huh. Yeah, you stand. And standing, they would use this treadle or the kick motion on this pedal. (Tape stops then starts)

Michelle A. Francis:

When did you start using an electric wheel?

Dorothy Auman:

Oh boy, right after World War II. Well, I'd say about, within two years after World War II ended. The REA ran electric lines down into the remote sections of the places that uh, where the potters were. And, everybody ran out and got them an electric motor. That was the thing.

Michelle A. Francis:

The thing to have.

Dorothy Auman:

Yeah, boy! And especially, I think, first, everybody got a electric grinder to grind the bottoms on wheels. And today that is one sure tell-tale way of dating your pots. If it was, say, uh, you can tell if it was ground on a hand grinder, and you can tell if it's ground on an electric grinder. If, once you ever distinguish these two marks on the bottoms of your pots, then you can almost date your pots, is it prior to, say, uh, late '40s and early '50s.

Michelle A. Francis:

Is when you started doing the electric grinding.

Dorothy Auman:

The electric grinding, mm-hum. And I reckon Nell, I reckon Nell Cole was the first to have a electric wheel. Harwood Graves, I guess, made her the first electric wheel.

Michelle A. Francis:

So he made--that was the. . .

Dorothy Auman:

And Nell, by the way, was the first lady that would, that did the turning. Always before that it was the men that did the turning. And I guess I was about the next. I was just a plain old tomboy, though, when I started out.



Michelle A. Francis:

Then you weren't interested in playing with dolls?

Dorothy Auman:

Well, no, my dolls turned out to be like kitty cats, and I dressed the kitty cats up in doll clothes, baby clothes, really. (Laughter)

Michelle A. Francis:

Yeah.

Dorothy Auman:

I remember having a wicker doll carriage and I had dolls, but I seldom ever played with them. I'd put my kitty cat in that doll carriage, and push it around.

Michelle A. Francis:

And she'd stay in it?

Dorothy Auman:

She'd stay in it for a while, but, oh, after she got tired of it now, she, she took off, clothes and all! (Laughter) This is, uh, early days. Some of the, uh, we were talking a while ago about May Day. Now this was I guess my very favorite time of festivals or time of the year. You'd have May Day. And at school you'd have like a May Day pole and you were fortunate, you know, you felt real honored to be picked as a May Day girl, to wind the ribbons, or crape paper, we used, around the poles.

Michelle A. Francis:

Was this in the spring?

Dorothy Auman:

Yes.

Michelle A. Francis:

In May?

Dorothy Auman:

It was in May. And, of course there was other honored positions, and you had speeches, little rhymes and poems that, a lot times you wrote yourself, you know, and little dramas that was acted out with two or three of the children in the class would get up. It was, uh. . .

Michelle A. Francis:

Did the whole school participate?

Dorothy Auman:

Yeah, it was everybody! And even like in the parades, even the older people participated. There was a few people in the community, like, had bicycles. And, boy, they would dress those bicycles up, and put crape paper and. Do you know what crape paper flowers are? You know, you could fix them and looked like. . .

Michelle A. Francis:

Yes, they looked like carnations or roses. Mm-hum.

Dorothy Auman:

Carnations or roses or something. And decorate! Oh my! That was something. And you'd decorate your dogs, they were in the parade. And you'd have flower baskets tied on to their necks with flowers on them.



Michelle A. Francis:

And so that's where you've got, you have your idea that you, you are making now, dogs with little mini-baskets on them.

Dorothy Auman:

Yes.

Michelle A. Francis:

Out of clay.

Dorothy Auman:

Yeah. And if you tied a collar around, most people didn't have collars on their dogs back then, but you'd tie a string around it and try to tie flowers around that. And if the dog walked and scratched fleas, all these would come off. (Laughter) But that was fun, then.

Michelle A. Francis:

Why was that your favorite holiday, do you think?

Dorothy Auman:

I don't know. It was such gaiety and spring, and, uh, everybody participated, you know. It was, and the parades were fun and they usually gave prizes to the best-looking dog or the best-looking whatever-it-was. Some people dressed up like clowns and we'd walk on Tommy walkers. I did that one year.

Michelle A. Francis:

What's a Tommy walker?

Dorothy Auman:

Oh, a Tommy walker. It's two sticks and usually they would be like 2 x 2s, something that would bear your weight. And about 24 inches up and some people would even go 36 inches, which made them real tall, you know. The taller you were, the better you was at it. Well, anyway, they'd nail little pieces on there for your foot to rest on. And you would put the, put your foot on this rest, and then the pole would go sort of behind your shoulder blades. So you would regulate it and you would walk around on this and you could, the fun thing, we'd have contests on this. Who could cross a ditch. Who could walk in sand or muddy sections or who could go up steps.

Michelle A. Francis:

Going up steps must have been hard.

Dorothy Auman:

Yes! How many times your shins would skin.(Laughter)

Michelle A. Francis:

How did they come to be called Tommy walkers?

Dorothy Auman:

I don't know. I really don't.

Michelle A. Francis:

And you did it one year?

Dorothy Auman:

Oh yes! That was in the May Day program. I dressed up like a clown.



Michelle A. Francis:

Was it normal for the girls to be on Tommy walkers?

Dorothy Auman:

Well come to think of it, I don't think it was. (Laughter)

Michelle A. Francis:

That was the tomboy in you.

Dorothy Auman:

Yeah. And, of course, your hoop rolling. Now this was another contest that was held. Keeping, who could keep the hoop going the longest, and uh.

Michelle A. Francis:

Turned it with a stick, didn't you?

Dorothy Auman:

Right. There was a, you poked a nail, you drove a nail through a board, and bent that nail to where you could sort of keep a hold of this hoop, which wasn't anything. Most times it was a barrel. . .

Michelle A. Francis:

A barrel stave?

Dorothy Auman:

Hoop.

Michelle A. Francis:

Hoop, yeah.

Dorothy Auman:

A barrel hoop around there. Sometimes they would make special ones, if you could get a blacksmith to work with you. But, most times you'd simply taken what was around the barn or the shop or wherever. And mine was always barrel hoops. And you'd run those things, and run 'em and run 'em and run 'em and some just, the kids would give out before they'd even, you know, ever turn over. That was a lot of fun.

Michelle A. Francis:

With the May Pole, there was a little ceremony that went with it?

Dorothy Auman:

Oh yes. There was music and singing, as the girls would go around and round. I say girls. There was boys in that, too.

Michelle A. Francis:

Was there boys in that?

Dorothy Auman:

There was alternate. And you wore pretty dresses and usually it was, the dresses was like, if you had a red ribbon, your dress was like white, you know. And then the next one would have a white ribbon and their dress would be red. And then, there was, you know, different colors dresses.

Michelle A. Francis:

Were you ever chosen?

Dorothy Auman:

Yes, one or two times, yeah. When I was little.

Michelle A. Francis:

Did your mom make your dress for you?



Dorothy Auman:

Oh yes! That was part of the deal. I think maybe that had a lot to do with being chosen. It was whose mom could sew. (Laughter)

Michelle A. Francis:

Did you differ from your sisters, do you think? Were your sisters more. . .

Dorothy Auman:

More feminine, yes. Definitely so. My mama worried about that a lot! (Laughter)

Michelle A. Francis:

Did she?

Dorothy Auman:

Not worry, but she would aggravated because my fingernails wasn't clean when we'd go to Sunday School, that sort of thing. But, um, and then. . .

Michelle A. Francis:

It's hard to keep them clean when you work in clay all the time.

Dorothy Auman:

Yeah, and when you're out playing in the dirt, climbing trees and that sort of thing. And in these younger years, now I'm talking about now, I guess another favorite time was when the work was all done and Mama would begin telling stories. We'd just beg her to. She'd say, "Well, get your work done up and I'll tell you a story." Okay, and usually you'd sit out on the front porch, and even the neighborhood kids would all come in to listen. And she'd begin telling one spooky, scary story after another one, and it'd get to where that it'd be so--the kids was scared to go home, and sometimes they'd spend the night and sometimes we'd have to walk home with them, you know, this sort of thing. (Laughter) But she'd tell things that had been told her and that things had been held. This was our form of entertainment at that time. And then, oh, another afternoon late, after the work was done up, late, or especially if Daddy was firing the kiln, now this was a good time to do this. The reeds, the cattails that was growing. Okay, there was always some old motor oil or something around there in can. Okay, you cut your cattails a day or so ahead and let them sort of dry out. And then poke them down in that oil and let them stay all day, and it'd soak up. Okay, you'd run and poke your cattail in the furnace of the kiln and then you'd have a torch and you'd go around and 'round and 'round, you know?

Michelle A. Francis:

I bet that was fun.

Dorothy Auman:

Yeah. Oh, and another favorite evening one was catching fireflies. Lord, how many millions have I caught? (Laughter)



Michelle A. Francis:

I remember doing that. Putting them in a jar.

Dorothy Auman:

And lightening up your path as you go. Gee, I don't know, there was good times to be had. I tell ya. And you know, we used to play an awful lot of hop scotch and jump rope. I seldom ever see children playing.

Michelle A. Francis:

Like that, I know.

Dorothy Auman:

I don't believe I ever seen a child play hop scotch in years and years. But, let me tell you, I could hold my own in playing marbles, now!

Michelle A. Francis:

Could you!

Dorothy Auman:

Yes I could! (Laughter)

Michelle A. Francis:

I've tried to learn how to do marbles, and that's a tricky thing. .

Dorothy Auman:

Prrst! See my old long thumb?

Michelle A. Francis:

Um-hum.

Dorothy Auman:

Well, it would just flip them out and go with such force, it'd just knock them out of the ring.

Michelle A. Francis:

You had good aim, too, huh?

Dorothy Auman:

Well, you practice enough, you'd have it. And we'd make our marbles, you know, out of the clay.

Michelle A. Francis:

Would you?

Dorothy Auman:

Oh yeah!

Michelle A. Francis:

So you didn't use those old glass marbles.

Dorothy Auman:

Well, we had some in years later. This, but not in these early years.

Michelle A. Francis:

You'd make them out of clay.

Dorothy Auman:

You'd make them any size. And I don't ever remember anybody getting mad saying, "Your marble's bigger than mine." You could make whatever kind of marbles you wanted to. But now I didn't like the big ones. They didn't fit in my thumb. I couldn't do as good with a big one as I could one, a pretty small one, I could get more force, and the harder you hit a marble in there, the more it scattered the rest of them. You soon learned that! So I liked the little ones better.



Michelle A. Francis:

That's interesting that you made them out of clay.

Dorothy Auman:

Well, and a lot of times, you didn't even fire them, you didn't wait to fire them in the kiln. If you's in a hurry for them, you laid them on the back of the cook stove or fireplace or, you know, some place like that, and just get them really just good and hard, you know. And sometimes you hit one in the ring; and it'd just bust all open!

Michelle A. Francis:

I bet would. You'd have a mess! (Laughter) Did you ever glaze them? Did you keep colors, like you know with glass marbles?

Dorothy Auman:

No, I never had any glaze to speak of.

Michelle A. Francis:

You were probably too anxious to play with them to take the time to go ahead and glaze them.

Dorothy Auman:

Well also that glazing, when it would melt and set, it would leave a scar mark on the bottom of it which-didn't make it run true. So you sort of kept away from that. I have taken the colored water out, mama would have food dyes when she'd dye the eggs, you know, at Easter, and you'd take some of that and color some of them. I have done that. But, that's more unusual than your usual.

Michelle A. Francis:

Yeah. Were there other toys or games that you played that were connected with the pottery.

Dorothy Auman:

Oh yes, you had your whistles.

Michelle A. Francis:

Whistles, clay whistles?

Dorothy Auman:

Oh yeah, um-hum. Let me show you one right here. Now, this one is turned, but lots of times you would just fashion it out of your hand. So put your mouth right here and just whistle.

Michelle A. Francis:

Just whistle? (Blows whistle) Hah! So they were made in figures of little animals. (Whistles again) Isn't that cute?

Dorothy Auman:

Yes, most times they were. Sometimes it would just be a ball of clay that you would fix, but most of the time you wanted to do something different. (Blows a different, higher pitched whistle) Now, the idea would be to put water in this and it would go like a warble. You want to hear it?

Michelle A. Francis:

Yeah, do that! So you put water in it and it. . .



Dorothy Auman:

Uh-huh, and now, listen to it now, it warbles. (Blows whistle, sounding like a warbling bird) Isn't that neat!

Michelle A. Francis:

It is neat. It sounds exactly like a bird! (Laughter)

Dorothy Auman:

So we didn't lack. . .

Michelle A. Francis:

No!

Dorothy Auman:

And you were talking about something else. Something else came to my mind. Lot of times you used dried peas for this, but around the pottery shop, I guess we used little clay--little tiny clay round, like marbles, but little tiny ones. And you'd go down on the creek and get a elder, a branch elder, and fix you a pop gun out of it and you'd put one of those little clay peadads in it and sop down on, you know, the plunger, on that thing, and my goodness, it would shoot it a good 20 feet, you know. And sting! Oh, my goodness! Momma and Daddy would just fuss at you 'cause it was dangerous, you know.

Michelle A. Francis:

Yeah, you could have hit your eyes.

Dorothy Auman:

Yeah, you eyes or something. But, oh, that was fun. You played cops and robbers with that. If you had got hit, you was a dead duck, you know! You couldn't play no more that evening. (Laughter) Oh yeah. I don't know, and building things. I think this was another. It wasn't work, it was play times, like fixing these animals here. Well, even the kids who came to play with us would, um, it was their delight to get ahold of a piece of clay and make something.

Michelle A. Francis:

Make something out of it. It's a natural creative tendency that children have.

Dorothy Auman:

Even today, a child come in the shop, and this is, they want to make something immediately. Well, this was a type of entertainment. Hours and hours was spent on making things, which were glazed and it was ours. And sometimes Daddy let us sell them, and it was our money. You know.

Michelle A. Francis:

So that earned you a little pocket change that way.

Dorothy Auman:

Yeah. So, um, there was never a dull moment, let me tell you. Let me tell you something about one of the funny things that always go on. And it went on every, all the time. (End of Tape 3, Side 1)



Dorothy Auman:

This funny thing, you never got used to it. The element of surprise hit you. (Laughter) But most time, potters went back out to the shop to finish up a dab of handling, or to get their balls worked up for the next day, or something, after supper. And it would be twilight dark. Now this especially would be like in the summertime when it'd be warm weather and good working conditions. Or maybe you had to plow a field that morning and you didn't get enough work done in the shop. Well, anyway, you'd go out and somebody could get there before you did, and roll out a coil and bind it up and make it look like a snake coiled up there and set it right over inside the shop. You know, there's always that log, that base log that you have to step over when you walk through the door. You had to step over that base log there. And before you knew it, you'd stepped right down against that snake and jump! You'd jump two feet. (Laughter) And then everybody would laugh, 'cause they's waiting for you to do that, you know! Because, you know, snakes love that coolness of the shop in the summertime.

Michelle A. Francis:

So you had snakes in there!

Dorothy Auman:

Yeah! And, here, oh my country! You're just, you're just scared to death. And everybody whooped and hollered. And sometimes they would even take these snakes after, you know, you'd do that, and set them up, thinking they'd use them again, and somebody even put them in the kiln and fire them. And occasionally you will find a snake like that. But, you know, there's something funny about the potters that I, I have never found to be exactly the same with other craftspeople. Now, maybe it's because I don't know enough other craftspeople, but almost every shop, it's the same way, and it's still the same way around here. There is some type of humorous picking or jovial, um. . .

Michelle A. Francis:

Teasing?

Dorothy Auman:

Teasing going on all the time. Just like this, this catching somebody with a snake type thing. Okay, would you believe not long ago we had, uh, this friend was here. And, Walter went out to the pond to get some water, I don't know, or maybe some dirt, and he happened to catch this bullfrog. So he comes back and puts it in the bucket, the slip bucket of this friend. Oh, my country, if we didn't have a good laugh over him! (Laughter) "There's something in my, there is something in my water! Come and get it!" he'd say. (Laughter) And here is this little old bitty frog. It wasn't a grown frog, it would be one about a inch long. You know, just trying to stay above that old mucky water in there. Trying to breathe. Oh my! It's something like this.



Or you have a, you've worked, oh, a special piece you've worked on it. You've spent hours on it. Most times you sort of just spend minutes on it. But this piece is special to you. Okay. Boy you've finished it up and you're going to let it be now. The next morning you come in and there's little tiny tracks that looks like feet has walked right down the middle of your plate or your platter or whatever, just like little tiny feet. Okay, somebody went to the trouble to make a foot out of clay and let it get a little bit hard and done just like this, down across it, now. And this went on and it was called that little, that little man.

Michelle A. Francis:

Oh no! That little man? (Laughter)

Dorothy Auman:

Yeah, said come on. Every once in a while a kooky thing will happen to the kiln, now. And we'll say "Well, that little man got in there." You know. (Laughter) It's nothing even now, I mean, this is today's going on, where somebody is turning bud vases, let's say. Okay, somebody else will come along and roll out a long row and it'll look like a worm a'sticking his head out. You know, he'd drop the tail end of it down in the bud vase and there that worm is with his head stuck up at you. (Laughter)

Michelle A. Francis:

Is that sort of how you came to do the cups with the frogs?

Dorothy Auman:

The frog-in-the-mugs? Well, that's not how we came to do that. That is a copy of the old ones, too. Those were made, frog-in-the-mugs were made in England years and years ago. Years ago. These were sort of like mugs for children, this type of thing. And it was, we sort of copied that. Let me tell you one, another one that is really humorous. Chamber pots, you know, that you put under the bed.

Michelle A. Francis:

Yes, right.

Dorothy Auman:

Okay, very seldom did the potters make a chamber pot that had lids on them. I don't know why. Now the porcelain or the china-made one. The, the more productive one, the white ones, you know, were lidded. But, I don't believe I've ever seen a pottery one with a lid on it. I guess they just laid a paper or something like that over it But anyway, it wasn't anything strange to find every once in a while a potter that had put a lizard down into the chamber pot.

Michelle A. Francis:

Oh really!



Dorothy Auman:

Now can you imagine! (Laughter) So, it was a humorous type thing. And it was a, a joking thing. Something going on. Even out at the shop today it's this way. You've got something a'going on one of the others, you know, one or the t'other of them. Sometimes they catch me off guard, and, uh, Bob [note] is good to take a joke, so he gets the butt end of them. (Laughter)

Michelle A. Francis:

I bet he does.

Dorothy Auman:

As we grew up, I guess the older way of entertainment, now you're talking about social, we're talking about the school and the church were definitely your social events. Your church would have picnics and of course there was always a big meeting and this was the time you got together with your friends. And you'd have dinner on the ground in the day and then there'd be preaching every night there. Sometimes it would be all day and into the night for several days and you'd have dinner on the ground every day. But as I got up older, enough to go to them, you know, to be out like that, it was mainly night preaching. It would start off with dinner on the ground on Sunday; morning preaching, afternoon preaching, and night preaching. Then on Monday night, it would start off with preaching at 7 o'clock and people wouldn't bring their supper then. But this was a social event. It was a get together, and you went to be with your friends more, I guess, than to hear the Gospel. But, you definitely, it was required of you to go into the church. You did not stay out. Those who stayed out were called roughnecks. And you definitely, your parents saw to it that you were inside, you know. But, then the schools had things like box suppers. And this would be a time when all the girls would bring a supper, like fried chicken, and the best that they could fix, and put it into a box and decorate this box. Oh, the decoration was most important! You did all, you'd cover the box with cloth, and you might put ribbons on it or flowers on it. Any way you wanted to fix that box to where it was prettiest. That was because the attractive, they didn't open the box, they saw the box. And then the boys would bid on it. And, it would go for anywhere from 50 cents, to, oh, if one went for a dollar and a half, that was a boy that knew that girl's box and he didn't intend for another boy to sit with her! And eat supper with her, you know. So it was a very competitive thing. The proceeds of this usually went to the school and after Westmore was built, there was many things like draperies for the stage and this sort of thing that needed to be bought.



So, we had lots of box suppers. And then, also they would have cake walks with these box suppers, where they would march to somebody playing the piano, and you'd get up and you'd pay 10 cents or a nickle even to walk into this ring of people and they's march all the way round the auditorium in the school or the gymnasium where ever it would be in. And when they stopped playing the music, then whoever was standing nearest the spot that was predesignated. Usually the principal had that and he wouldn't give that information out. He'd say, the corner seat on such and such a corner, or the middle aisle, or maybe there'd be a "X" marked somewhere inconspicuously on the floor. And these were the ones who won. And, they would receive one of the cakes. And then the cakes that was left over, and there was always, the community ladies brought in many, many cakes, these would be auctioned off.

Michelle A. Francis:

And so some more money would be raised.'

Dorothy Auman:

That's right. And then you would have your community people who made music. There was always. . .

Michelle A. Francis:

Somebody playing a fiddle.

Dorothy Auman:

Uh-huh. Always somebody there to entertain you as you ate your supper and visited and had a good-time. Then also, was the Fiddlers' Convention. Now this year, wasn't this year Star's 50th year?

Walter Auman:

56th.

Michelle A. Francis:

56 years?

Dorothy Auman:

56 years of consecutive fiddlers' conventions.

Michelle A. Francis:

Where is this?

Dorothy Auman:

Down just below us.

Michelle A. Francis:

Called Star?

Dorothy Auman:

Star, uh-huh.

Michelle A. Francis:

When did they have that?

Walter Auman:

Did it last Saturday night.

Dorothy Auman:

First Saturday night in March.



Walter Auman:

This coming Saturday night they'll have one in the Westmore School. And then, the following weekend then, they'll have it over here at Seagrove.

Michelle A. Francis:

Oh! Okay.

Dorothy Auman:

These are competitive things. And the local musicians, and man, we've got some good ones around here.

Michelle A. Francis:

I want to come. I love fiddle music.

Dorothy Auman:

Well, you would thoroughly enjoy it. They compete for prizes. And we have a neighbor up here. . . (Tape stops then starts)

Michelle A. Francis:

So fiddlers' conventions are something that's been a part of the area for a long time and it's done in the spring, competition in the spring, in March, and they go around to the different schools and compete. And it's not just fiddling, it's everything.

Dorothy Auman:

Yes, it's everything from buck dancing to, um, harp playing, singing, you know, all that sort of stuff. Anything, if you've got a talent, that is the time to come forward. And it's a good time, you know. Everybody enjoys it. They enjoy it and they enjoy each other, the musicians do. Sometimes you'll see them sitting on the outside there playing together, you know, it's a good time.

Michelle A. Francis:

Yeah, they jam a little bit together. Well, what were summers like when you didn't have to go to school?

Dorothy Auman:

Well, you just had longer periods of hours that you had to work, for me, it was in the shop.

Michelle A. Francis:

So you were turning a lot more in the summertime.

Dorothy Auman:

Yes, in the summertime Daddy expected a lot more out of you than he did when you was going to school.

Michelle A. Francis:

Did you have a quota?



Dorothy Auman:

Not really.

Michelle A. Francis:

Or did he just expect you to be in the shop so many hours a day?

Dorothy Auman:

He just expected you to be there all day. Not so many, just, oh, he wasn't really hard. He wasn't any harder than other daddies were in the community. This was expected out of all children. I think this changed as we grew up and had children and we wanted them to have maybe more freedom than we did. But we didn't realize that the discipline, that we look back now and find that this was good times. But our son worked. I can't gripe about him not working. He's got up many a morning and would make my balls for the day, come home after school and help me put handles on, and if he wanted to go to a ballgame, a lot of times he was late, you know, to get back to school.

Michelle A. Francis:

So he had chores he had to do, connected to the pottery.

Dorothy Auman:

Yeah.

Michelle A. Francis:

Because you were turning and working in the pottery, did you get out of doing a lot of household work?

Dorothy Auman:

I sure did! I didn't even know how to cook when Walter and I got married. Now, I could make a cake, you know, 'cause I wanted to go in. But Momma never expected me to do anything in particular in the house. I was usually, like I said, such a tomboy, I made more of a mess than I did. Like making up a bed, I'd straighten the covers out and let it go! (Laughter) She didn't like that.

Michelle A. Francis:

Your sisters then were the ones that helped.

Dorothy Auman:

More so, yeah, in the house. Now my sister Lucy always, she liked to cook, and she would cook supper many, many, many times. My sister Edith, she could do anything with a needle and thread, she could crochet, she could do all this sort of stuff that I never could do, you know. But in the '40s, this came along, and I was in high school and, and I didn't know what war was all about. I remember saying, "Oh, what a great time we're living in" when they declared war. You know, we're living in history. In the history-making time. It was exciting. And I know I was reprimanded for that very strongly because my mama and daddy could remember World War I and the deaths and the tragedies and, oh, the mangled bodies. . .



Michelle A. Francis:

The horror of it all.

Dorothy Auman:

But the war really never touched us like it did some homes, where the boys left and didn't come home. My brother went to the war, but he came home. But during the war years that he was gone now, the shop came to a creeping halt almost. There was nobody there turning but me. And Daddy's heart just wasn't in it. There wasn't enough for him to, I couldn't produce enough for him to fire a kiln a week, this sort of stuff. So things was, you know, was down. I can look back and realize how down-hearted and dragged it must have been for Daddy. I remember during this time Daddy got to making little shoes. These were the fad at that time, shoe collectors, people collecting shoes. So he made little ,molds and did hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of those little shoes that were all shapes and sizes and he would color them prettily.

Michelle A. Francis:

You were telling me that that was about, that was what was most in demand at that time. That was one of your main shapes that was going out.

Dorothy Auman:

Yeah. And then, I was just telling Walter this morning, about, I had an aunt, my daddy's sister, that lived at Fayetteville, which was right at the heart of the camp base there, Fort Bragg. And she asked me to come down and I could get a job, telephone operator and this sort of thing. Oh, that just appealed to me, you know. (Laughter)

Michelle A. Francis:

Leave, go down to the big city.

Dorothy Auman:

It just sounded so exciting. Well, Daddy very seldom ever said anything to do or not to do, but in this case he came and said he didn't think it was a wise decision to go. Well, that meant I wasn't going. I can remember crying,- and I must have been at least 17 at that time, I reckon, because I couldn't go. And I look back now and think how wise he was, how terribly wise he was in not letting a 17-year old country. . .

Michelle A. Francis:

. . .country girl go down. . .

Dorothy Auman:

. . .go down into that mess! I declare. But, we stayed at home and somehow made it through. The biggest thing was Thurston gone. And then, the next thing was no gas and no sugar. I guess, this, I can, these were the things that affected my life during the war years.



Michelle A. Francis:

Were you still, did you have a garden? Grow most of your food and canned and everything.

Dorothy Auman:

Yes, uh-huh. And we still had pigs at this time.

Michelle A. Francis:

So pottery was your cash crop.

Dorothy Auman:

Right. And as compensation for not going to Fayetteville, Daddy let me get a car. It was a V Model. I wish I still had that! But I was old enough to drive, you know. And so he let me drive around.

Michelle A. Francis:

Well, that must have been almost as big a thrill.

Dorothy Auman:

Oh yes. It made up for not going off. Well, then Thurston came home. Oh the country was in a, was like a cyclone going up, you know'. Everything was going up. Boy, you know, been so long since the gas was turned loose and you could go where you please and there was metals and new ideas being published and put out on market. Do you remember the formica top kitchen tables and the chrome chairs?

Michelle A. Francis:

Um-hum.

Dorothy Auman:

Oh, my mama wanted a set so bad and she got it. This was like declaring the war was over, you know. And a refrigerator. Oh my! A refrigerator! This is after we got the electricity, you know. And an iron, electric iron, oh, my! This just revolutionized the household. Oh, I can, remember these so well. Sure did make her life a lot easier. Made ours, too. 'Cause we had ice when we wanted it; we, could have ice in our drinks, you know, and in our water and all. But, Thurston came home and turned constantly. And, this carried us into the '50s.

Michelle A. Francis:

Into the '50s: That might be a good stopping point for today.

(End of Tape 3, Side 2)

Title
Francis, Michelle A., Oral Interview: Walter and Dorothy Auman, March 7, 1983 CE
Description
Michelle A. Francis' interview with Walter and Dorothy Auman, proprietors of Seagrove Pottery, about differences between earthenware, stoneware, and porcelain with regard to composition and the creation process. They discuss the different types of clay found in their region of North Carolina, and the history of the pottery industry in North Carolina, including the effect of Prohibition on jug making. Walter's childhood helping with tobacco farming in Montgomery County, N.C., and Dorothy's childhood helping her father in his pottery shop are covered toward the end.
Date
March 07, 1983
Original Format
oral histories
Extent
Local Identifier
OHSOAD
Creator(s)
Contributor(s)
Subject(s)
Spatial
Location of Original
Jenkins Fine Arts Center
Rights
This item has been made available for use in research, teaching, and private study. Researchers are responsible for using these materials in accordance with Title 17 of the United States Code and any other applicable statutes. If you are the creator or copyright holder of this item and would like it removed, please contact us at als_digitalcollections@ecu.edu.
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