Lillie Alma Faulkner Pilgreen oral history interview, April 19, 2004

Lillie Alma Faulkner Pilgreen
Steve Myott
April 19, 2004
Mrs. Pilgreen's Home
Winterville, NC

Lillie Alma Faulkner Pilgreen - LFP
Steve Myott - SM

SM: First off, Lillie, what I wanted to ask you-so I can get it all down-was if you could tell me, because I can't remember... I thought you told me you were born out towards Maury but I couldn't remember.

LFP: Greene County.

SM: You were born in Greene County?

LFP: Yes.

SM: Okay. [unclear] You were born on a farm, weren't you?

LFP: Yes.

SM: Was it near Maury?

LFP: Yes, near Maury.

SM: Were your grandparents around there too? (1:11, Part 1)

LFP: Yes.

SM: They all lived near each other?

LFP: At the time I was born we lived real close to each other but still didn't live many miles apart, you know, any of the time until their deaths.

SM: So they were all close together.

LFP: Yes.

SM: When were you born? What year was it?

LFP: May 30, 1921.

SM: Now, you were telling me the other day folks pretty much [did] everything back then. Do you remember much when you were little?

LFP: Well, you know, I just remember when I was real little they raised tobacco and cotton, but as I got about old enough to go to school, got ready to go to school. I knew when they had gardens because Mama let me have a little garden then. I always loved plants then. But we raised our vegetables, potatoes. We had hogs; we had chickens; we had a cow. (2:20, Part 1)

SM: So you'd get your own milk?

LFP: Yes.

SM: Let me stop-.

[Break in recording]

SM: Do you remember how long it was that you lived on the place out near Maury before your folks left that place?

LFP: I was nineteen when they moved over to Pitt County, so I've been here ever since.

SM: So on the farm, you know, where I stayed-

LFP: Yes.

SM: -[unclear].

LFP: We moved there in 1940.

SM: So you were in Greene County, then, until you were about nineteen.

LFP: I must have been about nineteen and a half [unclear].

SM: Do you remember-? Well, I guess you would remember this. [unclear] Why did your folks decide to move? (3:27, Part 1)

LFP: We could have a bigger farm and more crop. It just made it. We'd get more money than we were getting [in Greene County.]

SM: Now, they leased the farm, right?

LFP: At that time you usually farmed halves. The landlord furnished all the equipment, and then you had mules or horses [unclear]. They furnished all that and then when you sold. And you paid half of all the seed and things like that. They furnished the equipment and paid half but then in the fall what you sold you just got half of the money and they got the other half. But then it finally got where that you would buy your own mules or horses and equipment and then you farmed on thirds. They got a third and you got two thirds, but you had to pay two thirds of the expense. So then, later, people got so they got to get tractors, so that's the way it's been since then.

SM: Do you remember about the time you folks first got a tractor? (4:43, Part 1)

LFP: Mark got one when our son, Johnny. Oh, probably about 1951, '52, something like that, a small tractor.

SM: Up until that time you still used horses or mules?

LFP: Yes. Mark had mules; Papa had horses.

SM: Mark liked mules.

LFP: Well, when we got married the landlord wanted to get out of furnishing anything and so Mark bought the mules and the farm equipment.

SM: So you lived in Greene County. You didn't move any time [before you left Greene County?]

LFP: Well, yes. I can remember three houses that we lived in, in Greene County.

SM: So each of those times you were in a different place but you also tended the land on your property. (5:44, Part 1)

LFP: Oh, yes, yes. You would just move because you could get a little more crop as the family got bigger. But we did live on one place in Greene County. Gosh [unclear] I guess. I imagine I lived there about fourteen years at one house there.

SM: I don't remember if you told me before, but how many kids were there in your family?

LFP: I was the oldest of eight. But the fifth one got pneumonia when he was eleven months old and died.

SM: [So when] you moved here to Pitt County, then, were there seven of you then, or were any of you born [in Pitt County?]

LFP: Well there were six then and my baby brother, Lonnie, was born after we. He was the only one born in Pitt County.

SM: [unclear]

LFP: Then when he was born the war came.

SM: Right. So that was around. (7:19, Part 1)

LFP: '42. Well it happened, you know, December, 1941, was when Pearl Harbor was [attacked]. So then. Well they had really already started drafting some boys in August for training. [They drafted] my neighbors.

SM: What effect did World War II have on your folks' farm?

LFP: Well, it was hard to get tires and you usually had to go to town and get some labor. A lot of people lived in homes in town-especially black people-that would help you work. It was hard to get gas. You couldn't go anyplace much because you had stamps and that's all you had. It was a lot of difference [unclear] where you had to really watch. People stayed home more. Well, they had to work real hard anyway because you didn't have any of the new equipment. You were working all the time on the farms.

SM: You said it was '51 or something before you got a tractor.

LFP: Yes. I was married and Johnny was little.

SM: Do you remember moving? How did you folks move when you first came over here? Did you have horses, wagons? (8:48 Part 1)

LFP: One of our friends had a big truck, and then all the people we knew, neighbors. It was like a reunion; so many women came and got all the [unclear], and got all the curtain poles, shades, everything up. We had everything. And the people that lived there then, they left the house spotless. So, we were all settled down by that night. Now, that house, it didn't have lights. We had to pay to put them in but the landlord paid for it later.

SM: Here, in Pitt County?

LFP: Yes. Now, when we lived in Greene County we had electric lights.

SM: You did?

LFP: Yes.

SM: Now, how about out there in Greene County, did you still have outhouses back then? (9:42, Part 1)

LFP: Yes, and at school. When I started to school at Maury in 1927 it was the first big school. Children had to walk to school before then. I was old enough to start the first year and the bathrooms were built with the school but they didn't have all to go with it so you still had the outhouses. And at the churches you had the outhouses and a pump out in the yard. That's the way it was, even after I moved down here to Reedy Branch [Free Will Baptist Church]. For a few years they had outhouses and a pump, and a post. Some people came to church on a horse and cart or anything they had at the time; mules or horses.

SM: When you were in Greene County, what church did you go to?

LFP: Saints Delight. It was about two miles across the field, and a lot of times you would walk to Sunday school.

SM: Now, when you moved here, I know you moved to-it it Free Will Baptist? (10:49, Part 1)

LFP: Yes, Reedy Branch Church.

SM: That church. Of course that's [unclear] that church, right?

LFP: No, that church is two hundred and four years old.

SM: So they rebuilt on the same property?

LFP: Yes. The first one was a little log cabin, they say. Even the slaves went to it. Then as they got a little bigger the white people helped the slaves build a house where the Hilton Hotel is now.

SM: Is that right?

LFP: When we first moved down here it was just-.

SM: A church for them to go to? (11:22, Part 1)

LFP: Yes, so they'd have their own church. When we first moved down here, all around the Hilton was farmland, and this little church was never painted. Well, as times got better, they painted the church, and then they finally fixed a little brick church. At the time they got it all nice as anybody would want. Then the Hilton comes in and now that's the parking lot off of the Hilton. They paid them off and so now they have a house on Evans Street Extension, right near Greenville.

SM: I didn't know that.

LFP: Yes. The slaves and the white people went to church together at Reedy Branch, and they tell me even in [unclear] in the church cemetery there's some white people buried in it.

SM: Now, when was-? That was long before you came here.

LFP: Yes. Oh, yes. That was probably people older than my mother and father.

SM: Now, how about when you were young in Greene County. I was wondering about your grandparents. Were they living in Greene County too, like on your mother's side? (12:46, Part 1)

LFP: My mother's daddy died when she was little, but her grandparents were living, and I still have a piece of gold that my grandfather dropped on. I was on a pallet, they called it; a folded quilt on the floor. I was laying on that when I was a month old and he said, "Here, baby. Here's you a penny," and when my mother saw it, it was a piece of gold, and I still have it.

SM: Is that right?

LFP: A two-dollar-and-a-half piece of gold.

SM: Isn't that something? So that was back in 1921?

LFP: Yes. I still remember those great-grandparents. But, see, my mama's daddy died at twenty-seven of tuberculosis. But then my grandmother's parents, I remember them very well.

SM: Your great-grandparents.

LFP: Yes. I've got pictures of both of my great-grandparents. Those are on my mother's side. I don't have my-.

SM: Now, have they been here in this are a long time, that family? (13:53, Part 1)

LFP: Well, my grandmother's parents were raised and always lived down around [unclear]. Do you know where that is? Timothy Church? In fact, my great-grandfather gave the land that they started the first church and then they built a church across the highway, a brick church, and you know that burned last year, and now they tell me it's a beautiful church.

But my great. Let's see. Grandpa was my great-grandfather and then his mother. His mother was the one that gave the land and there was a big picture in the church and what looks like. We wear a hairnet. Women used to wear that around their. There was a big picture like that that was in that church, and the family Bible is in a glass case, and when that church was burning somebody got to the front of that church and got that out, the Moore Bible and the woman that gave the land.

SM: Now, was that a Baptist church too? (14:57, Part 1)

LFP: That's a Christian church. It still is a Christian church. But I was raised in Greene County and we were closer to Baptist churches. Well, there was a little Methodist church in Maury but we were still closer to the Free Will Baptist church.

SM: Now, what were their names, your great-great-grandmother?

LFP: My grandmother's parents were Israel and Susanne Moore, and then. Well, my mother's daddy's parents were Bill and Maggie Joyner, and I have genealogy books on both of those.

SM: Did they come over here from England?

LFP: Well now, the Moores did, and the Moores. We have the genealogy from 1300 and the Moores, at our reunions, they say the Moores and the royal family used to be friends, you know, a long time ago.

SM: Do you know when they came over here? (16:21, Part 1)

LFP: No, I don't really know what year they came, but they asked a question on ["Who Wants to Be a] Millionaire" not long ago and my neighbors, I was showing them a book, and we read on Sir Thomas More. He was beheaded, and I've always. Well, in the book I think it says. I don't know whether he was the one beheaded because of religious things, or whether he was kind of slipping around with the queen or something. [Laughs] But anyhow, he was beheaded, and I heard that question on the "Millionaire." They had four names and they wanted to know who King Henry VIII had beheaded. My neighbor and I, we had just been looking in the book and I said, "Sir Thomas More." [Laughs]

But there's a cradle that. I don't. The woman lives in Kinston now because her husband died that was back of all this genealogy. They had a cradle that no other was like it except one in the royal family. She has this cradle.

SM: Well, that's quite a thing. (17:36, Part 1)

LFP: But now, on my father's side, I don't know, you know, just. I know all of them were just raised right here in North Carolina, really over near around [unclear].

SM: [unclear]

LFP: [unclear] Faulkners, and most of them owned the land.

SM: What was your last name then? Was it Faulkner before you got married?

LFP: Yes. And my daddy's mother, she was a Jackson, and they all owned land.. If you're going to Kinston you turn off to the right, and there till you get to the Greene County line [that family] owned most of that land all through there at that time.

SM: So that's why they call it that old Faulkner place, because of your folks? I mean, around here when you think of that house-. (18:36, Part 1)

LFP: Well, no. Now, the house we lived in, the Faulkners had nothing to do with that house. In fact, it was a Denton man from Greenville. I was talking with his grandson last year and his great-grandfather built the house that we lived in, in Greene County. But then he sold it to the Hardys in Greene County and went to Greenville. It was a pretty home.

SM: I was wondering, too, what it was like for girls when you were going to school. Of course it was a lot different than it is today. [Laughs] But I was thinking, you know, because of everybody having to work so much on the farm and stuff, folks didn't go to school so far as they would today, you know, and stuff like that, I'm sure. Did they? (19:30, Part 1)

LFP: Well, at school, the children older than I was, they just had little schoolhouses in each county, two or three rooms, and they had to walk. See, if it was bad [weather] or they were sick. And a lot of them had missed school because when I graduated there were three sisters in my class. The baby one was my age but the other two, being sick or bad weather, they just didn't go to school and they missed grades.

SM: Right. When you graduated was that like eighth grade or what?

LFP: I graduated in the eleventh grade. I went to that new school that was built. I started the first grade in it and I went eleven years. That's as many years as you went to school and graduated then.

SM: Okay. I didn't even know how long people went to school back then.

LFP: And I was valedictorian of my class.

SM: Really? Congratulations.

LFP: And could have had scholarships, but my sister, Joy, was born in December before I graduated in April, and I could have got scholarships to go to school. I used to think I wanted to be a secretary. We just didn't have any money for that. (20:40, Part 1)

SM: Were there schools around here to go to for something like that, if you wanted to be a secretary?

LFP: Well, I could have gone to Richmond, and I read a lot of people my age now-when they die, you know-that they went to Smith & Massey. You ever heard of that, in Richmond, secretarial school? A lot of them went there. Some went to Raleigh.

SM: Richmond, Virginia?

LFP: Yes. But then there was ECTC then, you know. I don't think it was. I don't know whether it was just ninety dollars a year or the quarters or what. It was small. But I didn't have any money to go. At that time our principal, when I graduated, they started this. Was it NYA? Something they started. I think you could get seven dollars a week to work, work two weeks to the month, and you learned to bottom chairs, and they even had ladies that taught you to sew. We made clothes that were sent to England. [Laughs] I made some pretty dresses with them, the woman showing you every little thing. That was in-.

SM: Was that before you got married? (21:51)

LFP: Yes. That was in the fall of '38 that I started working there. I worked two weeks to the month and then it wasn't long you got seven dollars, and then finally you got fourteen dollars. [unclear] it was fourteen dollars a month and then it finally got where you got twenty-one dollars.

SM: So it was like a factory?

LFP: Well, the part we were in, it was in the school, part of the Hookerton School. But then they finally-.

SM: Where was that?

LFP: Hookerton? It's between. You cut almost through to go to Kinston. It's kind of-

SM: Oh, yes, yes.

LFP: -a small town, the creek [unclear]. But then they rented a house and they gave me. I finally got twenty-eight dollars a month to see that the water was cut off and the doors were locked in the afternoon. But, now, that twenty-eight dollars, I couldn't do what young people do now. That was spent for my whole family. You could buy a lot of things for twenty-eight dollars.

SM: Right. That's what I was going to ask you, [what being a teenage girl was like], what you had to do for work and stuff like that. What about around the house? I mean, everybody had to-. (23:14, Part 1)

LFP: You had to work when you were little before you started school. Even until I got married when I was twenty-six my mother cooked on a woodstove, and you can imagine how hot that was in the kitchen, cooking for ten or eleven people at lunch. You could pat water out of her dress. But you always had this little stove wood box behind the stove and small children had to always keep that filled up, and you burned wood or coal in the house. We always had to keep. Children had chores. They had to feed the chickens, gather eggs. The boys had to shuck corn and feed the mules, learn to milk the cow. Children were home and at night they were tired. That's why you didn't have so much meanness. All children were at home at night.

SM: You were telling me a couple days ago [unclear] about growing your own popcorn, things like that.

LFP: I still did after Mark and I were married.

SM: You did?

LFP: Yes, and I even had some they called strawberry popcorn. It was shaped like a strawberry, red.

SM: So when you grew that, you said you planted a row or whatever. Now, when you harvested that, I mean, you let it dry out and-. (24:37, Part 1)

LFP: Yes, in the fall, when you gather corn.

SM: Do you just break it off?

LFP: You had to shell it off the little thing when you got ready to pop it.

SM: What would you store it in?

LFP: A lard stand. Then you had hogs you killed and you put your lard in lard stands and you'd have extra ones. We'd put it in that. Then people didn't plant peanuts too much in our part of the state.

SM: Well, when you. You're talking about when you were young?

LFP: Yes. But now, see, on up near Virginia they always planted a lot of peanuts, but everybody would have a little peanut patch. You'd have enough that you could make you a stack and put it in the garden and pick peanuts to parch for the winter. There was always ways that you-.

SM: [unclear]

LFP: Yes. You had good things to eat right on, especially if you had a mother that was a good cook. And they canned. (25:32, Part 1)

SM: You had peanuts pretty much here on the farm, I mean until you got done farming. Did you always keep a little-like five acres or something?

LFP: Well, see, it got to be the allotment. You planted what the government said just like you would tobacco and stuff. But Hal has two rows of peanuts over here. We pick them in the fall of the year. He loves boiled peanuts.

SM: Oh, yes. Now when you were little did people boil peanuts too?

LFP: Yes.

SM: That was a pretty popular thing.

LFP: Yes. And they grew cane to make their own molasses. I can remember that.

SM: Oh, I didn't know that.

LFP: Yes. They had this thing where they put the cane in and a mule went round and round and round and that squeezed the juice out, and then there was somebody that cooked molasses.

SM: Another thing I wanted to ask you about was the hog killing. [unclear] going to kill hogs [unclear]-

LFP: I hated the-.

SM: -over at the old house there, you know, the-

LFP: The smokehouse. (26:38, Part 1)

SM: -smokehouse there, and I wanted to ask you what that was like. Was it more or less the men that did that? What part did the women play?

LFP: Well, I never did too much because growing up I had to be. There was most of the time a baby about every two years and she would help get dinner started or come in there with me but I was always in the house until in the afternoon. When I got bigger and Lonnie wasn't a baby I helped stuff sausage. You had a sausage stuffer. A long time ago you even had to grind your own meat for sausage but one of the stores had a grinder and you could pay so much a pound to get it ground. They used to clean those intestines, called chitlins. [Laughs] I never ate them. But then you had to get them all cleaned and skinned and soaked and stuff your sausage, a long time ago.

SM: Who would do that?

LFP: The older women. The way they used to do a long time ago, one would kill hogs this week and everybody helped and another would kill hogs [the next week and so on.]

SM: So all the neighbors-. (27:48, Part 1)

LFP: So then you had meat, because you didn't have no way to freeze it. The sausage, you had to hang it up and let it dry when it was cold. This day and time, the way the weather, you can't kill hogs. Most people I know finally quit because they lost all the meat because, you know, we have hot weather in December now.

SM: So you don't remember-? You think the-? Well, when you were growing up, you think the weather was different?

LFP: Well, I know one thing. You could work around before Christmas and after Christmas and kill hogs. But I talked with a couple in Greene County a few years ago, and they still had them, but she said, "We quit," because they had a big hog killing and before the salt. They have to pack it up in salt and it's got to go to the bone, and it would spoil around the bone and they had to store all the meat, so they just quit. And, everybody used to set their hens and raise all their chickens and guineas and turkeys. We used to have all that. (28:51, Part 1)

SM: So you moved to Pitt County when you were about nineteen.

LFP: I was nineteen in May and we moved the 27th day of December.

SM: Okay. I can remember [unclear] at the house [unclear] you had the swing. You kept the swing that had been on the porch.

LFP: Yes. I think it's up in the attic right now.

SM: I think you said we could use it for a little while. I think we used it for a year or two there. I think I remember you telling me that Mark used to come and court you on that swing.

LFP: Well, at that time all of us would be sitting on the porch at night. To the end of the porch there was a big lilac bush and it just smelled so good at night. But the neighbor, the boys, Mark's cousins, they lived up the road, and there was a big family of us, so they liked to walk up there late in the afternoons when they got their bath, and everybody sat on the front porch talking, kind of like you did at my house right on as long as we lived over there.

SM: Yes. (30:12, Part 1)

LFP: The front porch and the backyard was where the neighbors would gather. People weren't sitting looking at television. Now you can't visit because most people want to see their television programs.

SM: No, you don't want to. They come on at a certain time and-.

LFP: And they don't have any manners. They're just not going to talk to you. They'll look at [the TV.] So people don't visit anymore.

SM: Now, I wanted to ask you about Mark. Was he from Greene County?

LFP: He was raised in Pitt County, over near Ballards Cross Road.

SM: So his family, where did they come from, his grandparents?

LFP: All of them kind of lived in that community, from around Bell Arthur or, I don't know. What they call Speight Farm Road, all through in that. It's just kind of in a-a few miles apart.

SM: They've been there for a long time. (31:12, Part 1)

LFP: Yes. His granddaddy, his father's daddy, and his mother's. Mark's grandparents by his mother, when his grandmother was forty-nine she had a baby girl, and she had grown children. I think there was about five babies born that year, the same year hers was born. Brittany and I were looking at a picture the other day. Somebody in the family, at the reunion, they took a small picture and made lots of big ones for everybody. All of them are dead in that family but this woman. She's ninety-four now. She lives in Newport News. See, Mark's mother lived to be a hundred.

SM: Yes.

LFP: She just died December the 9th of 2000.

SM: Where did you folks meet for the first time, you and Mark? Did you meet at church? (32:22, Part 1)

LFP: We went over near Ballards Cross Road. My daddy's sister and her husband lived kind of close to Mark, and my cousin wanted us to walk down to Mark's house to see her sister that afternoon, and she was out on what they call [unclear] visiting and we went and got her and brought her back there. I didn't really have a regular boyfriend. It was just different groups. We'd come and go, because some had been that afternoon, but by the time we got home almost [Laughs] Mark had dressed and was over there. So, we went together kind of off and on; sometimes get a spat and [stop going together.]

SM: [Laughs]

LFP: [Laughs] Well I was seventeen then but I got to be eighteen in about one month, I guess, and he was eighteen and he got to be nineteen that August. Then when he got. Let's see. When he got twenty-two he was drafted.

SM: So that was-.

LFP: He was born in 1920. He was drafted in September of '42. I saw him the last of December and never saw him [again] until October of 1945. (33:43, Part 1)

SM: Where did he go? Did he go to Germany?

LFP: He went to Alabama for training; then he went up to New Jersey; then he was shipped to Africa; then he was sent to Sicily. Some of them were sent to Italy and some to Sicily, and then the ones sent to Sicily were sent to England. Then he was on the day of Normandy.

SM: Oh, he was?

LFP: Yes. Then he went across France and across Germany. I think he was in Czechoslovakia when they let them, you know, sent them back home.

SM: I didn't know that. Thank goodness he made it through all that okay. (34:30, Part 1)

LFP: You know, they said the day of Normandy. Mark said you're on a big ship and then they put you on the little ships, and it was the Germans there at France shooting. They were shooting them. He said they were falling all around him, and the people that were bringing them on the ships back and forth across the Channel, they said the boys' bodies were just floating in the water where they were just killing them. Mark said when he got off that boat he was coming through that water and running like a rabbit to get somewhere to hide. One of my neighbors, that we had in Greene County, she was a nurse and she had joined that and she met this man while they were in service and they got married. Both of them went across on D-Day and she ran into him. He'd already lost his helmet running so she gave him her helmet. She's dead now but one of her sisters is the only one left in the family. I see her at Sunday school because her daughter married Lonnie's [unclear].

SM: Is that right?

LFP: Yes.

SM: Isn't that something? (35:39, Part 1)

LFP: All those pictures I had of [unclear], I gave them to the family.

SM: So then when Mark came back from the service I'm sure he was glad to be home.

LFP: But then, see, his family then had moved over there where we used to live. They were living over near Ballard Cross Road and they moved over there in a house close to us.

SM: You mean-?

LFP: Down there where Mark and I lived.

SM: Oh, over here-.

LFP: In that two-story house.

SM: Really?

LFP: There was man in Greene County going to move, and he lived at Maury and worked in a cotton gin, and the family owned so much land, the Hardys, and he got an arm torn off. Well, see, he had a wife and children and he couldn't farm. And Mark's daddy wasn't asked too many questions about it, I understand, at first, but when we knew anything he had been to Dr. Frizzelle and rented that part of the farm, and Mark hated that place when he came back. He'd always lived around Ballards Cross Road. So we didn't get married in. He came back in October and we didn't get married till December of '47. (36:51, Part 1)

SM: He came back what year? '45?

LFP: Yes. So he farmed there with his daddy.

SM: Now, what place was that that he farmed on? The same farm?

LFP: Right there where we lived. Well see, my daddy had part of the farm and then Mark's daddy had the other part that some other people had been living-.

SM: Which place did Mark's daddy live at? The one [unclear]?

LFP: Yes. Then, when we got married, Mark. Well, he thought his daddy was so old in his fifties he wanted to stay and work one year anyway to get adjusted. Then he went and bought the equipment and everything and then he didn't want to move. But when his parents learned about Johnny then his mother, she wanted us to get out. Dr. Frizzelle said no, Mark was the one that had bought the equipment, that we weren't moving. So they found a farm not far from us and they moved away.

SM: So then when you got married you all moved in there.

LFP: We were already living there. (37:58, Part 1)

SM: Oh, you were already living there.

LFP: [Laughs] Living in a house with your in-laws is not any fun.

SM: So they didn't. I guess his folks weren't so easy to get along with then?

LFP: No! [Laughs] It was terrible. Well, I wasn't alone in thinking so. All the people in our neighborhood over there were so nice and nobody ever liked Mark's mother in our neighborhood. So, it wasn't only me with the in-laws.

SM: So she didn't approve of too much, and people didn't approve too much of her.

LFP: Well, she was a jealous person.

SM: Really?

LFP: Mark was twenty-seven when we got married and she always said I took him away from her. He didn't love her anymore. I mean, she was that type of a person, very selfish and jealous; a real smart person though. She would work hard and clean, and a good cook. But she was-. (39:05, Part 1)

SM: Was that hard for him? Was that hard for Mark?

LFP: Yes. You know, it made a big difference, because when he gave me my engagement ring she got so mad. She just had a wedding band. She pulled her wedding band off and would not wear it for another year until Mark's daddy bought her a ring that had a bigger diamond than mine did. So, that's what I lived through for two years.

SM: I'm sorry about that.

LFP: [Some] people enjoy hurting other people's feelings. She really didn't like the neighbors in our neighborhood either. She was from a big family and they'd just visit within families. That's who they usually always would mingle with.

SM: They didn't mingle with other folks much.

LFP: Not very much.

SM: So after they left and you folks were there, when was Johnny born?

LFP: 1950. So I lived on that farm-.

SM: I knew he was about the same age as me. I was born in '51. What was Johnny's birthday? (40:16, Part 1)

LFP: June 6. Mark went into France on June 6 in 1944 and Johnny was born June 6, 1950. So I lived on that farm for fifty years in those two houses together.

SM: [unclear]

LFP: And then they didn't sell it as quick as they thought so Mark and Hal still tended the land for four more years, so really. And then we finally rented all the land, from the canal to the stoplight, from one road to the canal that way, all of that land. It was just like our land really because the landlord was so good to us and he just trusted Mark.

SM: Well, you know, I can remember. Well, he did such a good job rotating his crops and his crops all looked good. He had everything quite nice.

LFP: Well my daddy was a good farmer also. Then when Dr. Frizzelle got older his niece, he let her husband kind of check on. He had farms a lot of places and he just looked after all of that. Mark and I thought the world of him, and he just died last week. (41:40, Part 1)

SM: Yes. I heard that.

LFP: [unclear]

SM: Yes. [unclear] told me.

LFP: But you know what? See, when my daddy got old and he couldn't farm, you know, used to they would just put you out because they put somebody else there. But then Dr. Frizzelle got Mark to just have all the farm and Jack. But Jack saw that Mama and Papa was-that neither one of them were able to work, because really Mama had learned with a mole on her back that it was malignant, melanoma, but you know she lived about fourteen years with treatment. But Jack told Mark, he said. Mark said, "Well, how about Lillie's family?" He said, "As long as she farms they can live in that house." So my mama lived there eighteen years and they never had to pay any rent or anything. Jack was so good to us, because when my daddy died the children got together and told Jack, "Daddy's dead. What about Mama?" He said, "She's going to live here like she's been living here." He was really good. (42:53, Part 1)

SM: I was wondering did your mama help you out some? You had Johnny and-I'm trying to remember-how much of a difference is there between Hal and-?

LFP: Seven years. But my mama and daddy got married young. My daddy was eighteen one day and I was born the next, and Mama got to be seventeen the 3rd of June [after I was born], so we grew up together really.

SM: Well, I meant like when you started having children.

LFP: I had to tend to my own. [Laughs] I had to tend to my own. Nobody didn't tend to mine, because they were still farming and you just tended to your own. If I went to the tobacco bed you had a box. You took the children, and milk. If I worked at the tobacco barn or the pack house my children were with us. Mark and I, we'd tend our children.

SM: Well, I was wondering, what was your job on the farm? Mark was running the machinery and all that.

LFP: Well see, long time ago, you planted tobacco beds. I don't guess you ever. Well you've seen Mark put the cloths on, didn't you? (44:09, Part 1)

SM: Yes.

LFP: But then it finally got so they could put plastic on it too, you know, but a long time ago you just had that tobacco cloth. And then you didn't have stuff to put on there to keep grass and weeds from coming up, so you had to start picking tobacco beds in February, pick all those weeds and grass off them, keep them clean. By the time you got through with that then it was big enough to set out, and you reset, you chopped, you suckered tobacco, topped tobacco. I always did all of that.

SM: And then the harvesting of it, I know you'd be over there-.

LFP: Helped put in and then-.

SM: Helped put in, yes.

LFP: Yes, and you take your children to the tobacco barn, and Mark and I would take our tobacco out of the barn by ourselves because when he climbed up to the top he could [unclear] the sticks and I could catch them. And you'd pack it down, and then he'd come down and you had to put it on the truck. We just saved every way we could. (45;17, Part 1)

SM: By the time you get up early in the morning and you get to bed at night you're ready to get some sleep.

LFP: In the fall of the year, with that pack house and yard down where we lived, well finally we. You know, when you got to sheeting up, we would were at the pack house, at my mama's, at the tobacco barns; everywhere, when you started sheeting up. But when you had to take it all and grade it, at night we had to put it all out in the yard and on the racks [unclear], and you fix supper and you bathe the children and go to bed. We would work out at the pack house, Mark and I, until about 11:00. It was about 11:30 before we would get in bed, [by the time] you get in the house and take you a bath. We worked hard all the time. We would be back in there at 6:00 the next morning too.

SM: Now, did you have like your bigger meal around lunchtime? (46:12, Part 1)

LFP: Yes. We always had breakfast, dinner, and supper. Sometimes when you were so busy you might eat sandwiches or have hotdogs and hamburgers right quick, but sometimes you would cook some things, you know. Early the men go to the field first and get the tobacco. You get up early. But after I got through to the tobacco barns you go to the garden and you pick peas or butter beans. You shell them that night. [We] worked all the time.

SM: You've seen a lot of changes-

LFP: It's unbelievable.

SM: -[Laughs] since the day you first moved here.

LFP: It's unbelievable.

SM: You were telling me you remember when it was a dirt road. What was it like back, you know, when you first came there to the farm?

LFP: It was nice. You had good neighbors. And that road by-on the hill. See, it kind of went down, and that house that's still there, the square bungalow, that was a bad old red clay hill, you know. [Laughs]

SM: Going down towards the ditch, towards the-. (47:15, Part 1)

LFP: Going to the canal, yes. It would be ruts when it was bad weather, you know. Then when Johnny was about old enough to go to school they paved the road, and there was such small traffic on that road. When I got through with my work I would go up to do my mama's ironing because still, with a big family, I'd help her all I could. I could get down that road and I could walk up to Mama's in about five minutes down that road. You'd go out there sometime and no car would be coming. Then it got so there was so much traffic you always had to stay on the shoulders. Before we moved you were afraid to be-[you would] cross the shoulders, the ditch, and in the field because cars were coming so fast. They'd come right out in our fields. You were scared to walk.

SM: You said that. Well of course you knew all your neighbors pretty much back then too.

LFP: Yes. Neighbors were neighbors too, good neighbors.

SM: When you were last there you kind of had people moving in from different places that you didn't know.

LFP: Well, everybody stayed at the same places just about. They didn't do much moving.

SM: When did you start working over at Plant and See Nursery? (48:37, Part 1)

LFP: I was about fifty. My mama and daddy had quit farming and they didn't have enough income because they weren't even old enough to get Social Security, I want to say. Well, yes they were too, when I was fifty. They would have been sixty-seven and sixty-eight. They were getting Social Security but-

SM: Not very much.

LFP: -they had to have a lot of medicine. No, they didn't get that much Social Security and they had to buy a lot of medicine and you still had to have money for your oil. They finally got oil heaters in the house then, and a gas stove. So we children had to help give them some money every month. Well, I lived on a farm. The girls and all they had jobs and the boys had jobs and we were on the farm. Of course we still furnished them their potatoes and Mark [planted corn]. We still gave them things that way, and that's when I went to work to the nursery to make a little money to have. We paid so much a month and I had to get mine the way I could, so it just started out.

SM: What year was that? (49:52, Part 1)

LFP: Oh, it was. Well, let's see. Papa died when I was fifty-four, in '75, so it was-.

SM: Early 70s.

LFP: Yes. About '70 or something Papa had to quit farming.

SM: [unclear]

LFP: But I just got kind of started in working to the nursery. Well then, what I was going to do. Well Sunshine [Garden Center] had come but Plant and See, they didn't have a nursery yet. They were working at Sunshine.

SM: Is that where you worked first, Sunshine?

LFP: Yes, down there with Tommy and them. Well in fact Eddie. Ms. Johnson was too, and Eddie asked Ms. Johnson, said, "Do you know somebody can come help us set out some plants for about three weeks?" She said, "Yes, Lillie could." (50:48, Part 1)

I worked three weeks and I saved it all so I could pay my mama and daddy so much a month and never spent it for myself for several years. I made a hundred and forty-five dollars in three weeks and Eddie didn't even take Social Security. He said, "Mark pays that. You ain't got to pay it." But then he said, "Unless they would come and check on it." Well they came and checked on it, and he couldn't have made me pay it because he didn't take it out. But through the years that little bit was thirty-five dollars and I paid them, you know. (51:26, Part 1)

But I'd just make a little bit and save, a little bit and save, and then finally I got to working more. He got bigger and he had supervisors and they begged me to. I used to quit when we were going to set tobacco. I was through. And their supervisor said, "Lillie, when you get through setting tobacco can't you come some afternoons, when you get through?" because I loved to work and everything I put my hands on would root and do, you know, and I worked there just like I would on the farm for myself. So I just got to doing more and more. But then he got bigger and he watched everything, and he clocked what you were doing, and you couldn't do enough. Tommy and them got after me about going over there and I just quit going over there. He tried every way he could to get me back. He never had anything to do with us after that.

SM: But you worked at Plant and See for quite a while. (52:22, Part 1)

LFP: I went there in. I was going to work in December of '80 and our neighbor across the road. That was just a little while before Christmas and our neighbor across the road just fell dead at the table, [unclear] and we had to go to the funeral, and cook, so Tommy said, "If you want to wait, just wait till after Christmas." So it was in '81, and they didn't have but five greenhouses then.

SM: So you worked [unclear]

LFP: I worked till '92, June of '92. Then Mark had surgery that fall and he just wasn't well after that. I just didn't go back anymore.

SM: A lot started changing then too because I remember. Well when we met you the house [unclear] and then I know at that time it was getting harder for you folks to get help, you know-

LFP: On the farm.

SM: -with tobacco and everything else. Yes. So the idea of getting migrant workers, Mexicans, whatever-.

LFP: It's unbelievable. [Laughs] (53:36, Part 1)

SM: Yes. Well, you know, it was hard to get other folks. I remember Mark saying that some of the black folks and other folks didn't help; getting older and all.

LFP: Yes, the older people that stayed there worked, and then there would be families with younger children and they would. Girls weren't married but have children. Finally they would tell them if they didn't move to town they weren't going to help them because you didn't have bathrooms and stuff out to those homes. But, you know, the Lord prepares you for things because when Manny, the first two Mexicans they had hired [Laughs] was Javier and [unclear].

SM: And they're still working with them.

LFP: Yes, and I felt kind of scared, and I think when I go over there they've already been to the time clock, you know, because I was kind of scared to be there by myself with them. But, you know, they're sharp. They watch people. They listen. He said, "I noticed you, Ms. Pilgreen," and he said, "I knew what you could do," and they would go to me. (54:44, Part 1)

SM: And ask you questions.

LFP: And see, if they couldn't read tags or something and they didn't want everybody to know they couldn't do, [they would say,] "Ms. Pilgreen, would you go get some of these tags? Would you do this or that?" And they got to be some of the best friends I ever had, and that prepared me. When we moved down here. The Allens had an old house over there. I don't know whether you came here when it was-.

SM: Yes. I remember the-.

LFP: It used to be a beautiful place a long time ago. But I think there got to be about twenty-five in that house but the law found out how many they had and they made them quit it, so they tore the house down. But I wasn't afraid. The man that had them there told them he better not catch one in our yard, and they didn't. But that prepared me to know Mexicans over there. I wasn't afraid. And even after Mark died they were over there too, but I never have been afraid here.

SM: You've done pretty well. (55:45, Part 1)

LFP: I've looked after my own self.

SM: You've still got a nice garden.

LFP: Probably my last year with my garden piece. It's pretty [unclear].

SM: I'll have to go out and look at it.

LFP: But yes. My children did things for me, I pay them. I keep the vehicles. If theirs break down they drive these, or when they take me places they drive these. It's not like. You know, I helped my parents, and still I helped them work, go up there and do work and help them, and when they were sick the rest of them worked on the farm. I had to look after Mama and Papa because the rest of them had jobs, you know. Mark could get somebody to work in my place or something but on a job it's not that easy.

SM: The one thing I was wondering, because I didn't live here and up north, you know, we didn't know too much about it, but I was wondering too, back. You know with the black folks, segregation and all that, do you remember-

LFP: Well, when we were growing up.(57:06, Part 1)

SM: -[unclear] schools and all that? Because I know when they changed there was a lot of problems there for a while.

LFP: Not around with us. You know, that's something I never thought was fair because even when we lived in Greene County there'd be a house that black people lived in and houses white people lived in. Now, they went to their own church and they didn't let their children go in your yard unless they sent them up there for something, but they were the best neighbors. They would look after you. We were all friends. I think about those people just like I think about the white people. They were good friends.

But when I started going to school they got school buses. [Laughs] They looked like a matchbox, just a long thing like that. I can remember them. But all the black children, they had to walk to schools, and they walked a long ways, and I never thought that was right, and some white children were kind of always mean. They'd get home from school first and our neighbors would tell about how some of the children, on the way home, would run outside and get behind barns, throw sticks at them, mess with them. I wouldn't have done that for anything in the world. (58:18, Part 1)

But finally the black girl that lived across to us, she graduated from that school [that went] up to the seventh grade-she was going to Snow Hill-but the parents had to help buy the school bus, and it would start its route. I've heard her running to the bus at about 4:00 in the morning because they had a long route to go to Snow Hill, and I thought, you know, that's not. She was a sweet girl. But they finally. And I thought it was best where they had their own schools and got the buses. That's the way it was supposed to be. I had feeling for them too because they were always good to us.

SM: What I was wondering was, of course I guess. Well Johnny [unclear] in there when. I was thinking about, we call it desegregation now, when they started [unclear].

LFP: That probably happened when probably Hal and Donna got. When Hal got in high school, I guess, is when that. I don't think Johnny.

SM: Johnny was getting out of high school.

LFP: Johnny didn't go to school with black children. It was Hal. (59:30, Part 1)

SM: Well there was a big time there about having everybody go to the same school

LFP: Well see, at Robinson Union at Winterville, that was the black school, and they had the nicest. They called him [unclear], and his wife. I don't know whether she's died or not. She used to write things in the paper, in the forum stuff you know, really nice. They were good and he would. [Laughs] The black children that lived on the farm, like the girls or some of them, the little wooded area around there, could slip out there [and if they were] late coming back he would get them in there and push them against that wall and he would beat them good. They would talk about that and say, "Boy, he would push your head against that wall and he would beat you." They were scared of him and they would mind too. (1:00:25, Part 1)

But see, when we were going to school the parents always told their children, "If you get a whipping at school, if you can't behave, when you get home you get another one." But now if anybody hits your child for being mean then they go to the law about it. See, the way it goes nowadays, "My little Johnny wouldn't do that," but a long time ago they were all treated alike and if you were mean you got a paddling and you got another one when you got home if. But they kept it quiet most of the time but if it ever got slipped out you knew you were going to get one.

SM: Yes. There's a lot of trying to get something on somebody else these days.

LFP: But a long time ago everybody would. [In times of sickness] everybody would help you. When we had cows, like if your cow went dry your neighbors would give you. If you had a baby they'd give you milk, when you had to cook it for the baby, you know, and put stuff in it. They'd give you the milk to fix for your baby or milk to make biscuits. Everybody shared. If they had fruit trees they'd share with you. (1:01:39, Part 1)

SM: Everybody was just a lot more neighborly. [unclear]

LFP: Yes, just like the boy that married Lonnie's wife, David. See, I was raised in a neighborhood with his grandparents, and my mother, she had those bad varicose veins and she would have big knots to come on them and she had to go to Kinston and they'd put a needle in it to [unclear] the blood. Well she had to lay in the bed from Friday till Monday and there was a big family. David's mother is the only one living now. She'll be ninety-two in October. But their mother would send one over that afternoon, when Papa carried Mama home, to help me brush the yard, scrub all of those porches, and the kitchen, help you clean up, and then she'd send another one to cook supper. The next day she'd send another one for dinner and supper. They'd do that for that weekend. We just had real neighbors. (1:02:35, Part 1)

[End tape one]

SM: They wanted me to ask you about children. Of course you've already talked a little bit, but Donna's the youngest one. How much younger is she than Hal?

LFP: Five years.

SM: And between Johnny Mark and Hal is six or seven?

LFP: Seven. All of them had different kind of bottles to drink out of. The times were changing that fast.

SM: What do you mean, like-?

LFP: The kind of bottles, the way you sterilize them.

SM: Like the nipples and sterilizing?

LFP: Yes. Everything. It was all different.

SM: Did you nurse the babies at all back in your time? (1:05, Part 2)

LFP: I was going to try with Johnny but the milk was poisoning his body. He just got so sick. The doctor had given me a formula just in case it didn't work and Johnny. He just had the diarrhea and my sister came down and fixed a formula and he got kind of quiet, but Mark still took him to the doctor that day and he said if she hadn't got him that formula that morning he would have been dead by night. So I just never tried it.

SM: I was the same way. My mama didn't nurse me. [She used formula.] It was always the same kind of formula. I don't know what it was. But see, I was born. He was born a year ahead of me so we were about the same time.

LFP: Yes, y'all probably had. I believe Johnny had glass bottles.

SM: Yes, I'm sure.

LFP: The others, they would have plastic that you would still sterilize.

SM: Now, did you-? They wanted me to ask you about childbirth. Did you have any-? Back then were there any books to learn from, or folks to share with you about it, or was it pretty scary to you, having a baby? (2:15, Part 2)

LFP: For me, I did the same kind of work right on up till the baby was born just like I do now.

SM: Now did you-? You went to the hospital, I suspect, or did-?

LFP: The first one we didn't. We went to a place at Winterville. The building is still there but it's been made into apartments. Johnny was born out there.

SM: It wasn't a hospital.

LFP: It was kind of a little doctor's office and his wife was the nurse, and he had a little three-year-old girl he run over by [unclear], not too far from the funeral home, to take her to her grandparents. But then the grandparents. Nobody in the country didn't have phones, and he stayed and talked too late, and when he got there he shot that ether to me and he was doing it too fast and I quit breathing. He thought I was gone. I can see his wife right now. I was going down that valley of the shadow of death. I was going. But, I didn't. But it still made my nerves go to pieces, what they did. (3:22, Part 2)

But then Hal. Right after that some woman was there and some kind of medicine that. She wasn't supposed to take it, it was for douches, and I don't know why it was put on the table by her but she took some that night and she died. The doctor we lived with, he said there wasn't no doctor in the world could get it out of her body. She died and so he couldn't [deliver any more babies]. So Hal was born at the hospital and Donna was too.

SM: At [unclear]? Was it called that back then?

LFP: Yes. Hal was born in the brick building there, not the one now. In fact-.

SM: Oh, yes; where the city offices are, or the county offices?

LFP: Yes. In fact, I think Donna was born over there too. I don't think I went to this hospital. I think both of them were born in the other one. Let's see. Donna was born in '62.

SM: Now, you were talking about the telephone. You didn't have a telephone when Johnny was born? (4:26, Part 2)

LFP: No. We didn't get a-.

SM: When did you get a telephone?

LFP: Johnny, when he got about sixteen, he went and called them and had it put in [Laughs] so Mark had to pay for it. We didn't have one. But, you know what? If people had telephones a long time ago on the farm, well, they couldn't have worked much if people called and talked like they do nowadays.

SM: Now I remember the first phone that we had was one of those. It was like a box. You had to wind it.

LFP: Well now, you know, when we lived in Greene County, the man that lived there-he built a new house at Maury because they had a big store and they moved there-and there was one on the wall. It was about like this. So then Mama used that one because when they wanted to call up there about something that broke down, I mean, that you needed out to the farm or something, some of them there would bring it. But Mama had to turn it to do it. I can remember that telephone.

SM: And then when you got your phone it was a dial.

LFP: Yes. We had a dial. Now here you've got to punch things. (5:28, Part 2)

SM: Yes. Who was there when Johnny Mark was born? Did Mark go with you? Did your mama go with you?

LFP: Oh, just Mark and I went out there. Mark was there. [Laughs] He heard those doctors. He kept saying, "What is it? What is it?" but they didn't let him in, but he always laughed about. You don't remember when there was just a little sandwich shop across from there, do you?

SM: No.

LFP: When we moved down here it was just a little sandwich shop. They just sold drinks and some hotdogs and banana splits, stuff like that. That's where young people would go and they had a big parking lot behind it. But now all that changed and now you got the Dixie Queen. But they had that piccolo thing, the music that would play, and Mark said it was playing "If I Knew You Were Comin' I'd've Baked a Cake" when Johnny was born. He was sitting up there in the waiting room and he could hear, because it was right across the street. Right there now where. It was kind of back of the [unclear]. There was a parking lot all in there. (6:34, Part 2)

SM: Now did you have a radio in the house, or a TV?

LFP: Yes, we had radios when we lived in Greene County because my aunt gave us one. It was the kind, you know, like this one up in the corner, like that. She gave us one. Then I think later we bought a little small one. Then when we moved from Greene County over here that's when I bought my swing. That swing was five dollars. That was lots of money then. [Laughs] And I bought a little radio. I got the first one. We didn't ever own a refrigerator till we moved down here. We bought that refrigerator I think that year after we moved. I was getting that twenty-seven dollars a month and I think I paid down on it and then Papa finally paid for it. But those kind of refrigerators, some of them they say are running today, those small ones.

SM: What about freezers?

LFP: I got a freezer when Johnny was little.

SM: That helped a lot, probably. (7:41, Part 2)

LFP: Yes. Well, a long time ago ladies canned a lot. My mother loved to can. Now I love to freeze but I don't love to can that good. I wasn't that sure of myself. But my mama just canned oodles and oodles of stuff, and I helped prepare all that and helped her fix it and worked in the garden to keep it clean and pick it, but Mama did the canning part. While we were working in fields she cooked and canned. Everybody worked. Everybody worked.

SM: Now canning, that's kind of a lost art, isn't it? I mean, people don't do that today.

LFP: Just a few, because a lot of them don't have gardens. I have a friend over at Reedy Branch where last year didn't have a garden. Because of sickness they didn't get started. But she canned so much. She cans with a pressure cooker; cans tomatoes and tomato juice and all. But now, I like it better freezing. I like to freeze stuff.

SM: Now, I guess even. I was thinking, when I was a baby, I know my mom had diapers. People today don't even know anything about that. (8:47, Part 2)

LFP: All of mine did. Now Donna's children, when they came along, they had the Pampers and the wipes and everything, you know. I kept her children right much though because one or the other would be sick, and if the babysitter was sick, or gone to see her parents or something, you know, I still kept them a whole lot. And then Donna would bring them here on Saturday so she could go do her shopping and get her work done, so most of the time I always kept them on Saturdays for her to get things done by herself.

SM: I was wondering, in bringing the kids up, did you have a stroller and stuff like that? Did you get one of those, or playpens?

LFP: I always had playpens, and when I was up there raking in the yard and stuff I put the playpen out in the yard and the baby was around where I was. But nowadays you couldn't do it because you could put it down and a fire ant could be right close. (9:57, Part 2)

SM: Fire ants, they didn't used to be around here.

LFP: We never saw a fire ant on the farm, never. Mark never saw a fire ant as long as he lived and he died in '95. We had never seen a fire ant down here and all of a sudden, after we got having all those hurricanes and everything, we got to having fire ants, and they will eat you up. I was talking with Juan one day about how I had never seen one over at the farm and he said, "You should go over there now." I said, "How about to the house?" He said a great big bed's around the house. But Hal said they'd be knee-deep on the farm, they're that big, when they would go over there hunting. But you know we have put out so much stuff around here. [unclear] has spent a lot of money.

SM: It's almost impossible to get rid of them.

LFP: But we don't have quite as many as last year but we keep that stuff-and it's expensive. When we see some we go right on and put it on. (10:56, Part 2)

SM: What about bringing the kids up. What do you think was one of the most important things in bringing up kids back then, for you?

LFP: Well for me, I still. My children got their rest, their baths, and everything. When Johnny was a little boy, when we'd get through with a barn of tobacco, when we'd get home, the first thing I always did was give him a bath. We had a fan like that and I'd put his pallet on the floor in the dining room and have the fan running and give him his bath and he'd lie down and take a nap and I'd get some stuff done in the garden and the yard, and he'd get a good nap and then he'd get up and play with his tricycle and all that. Then at night you could wash him off some more. They went to bed regular, they had their regular meals. (11:47, Part 2)

SM: You said you had fans. Did you ever get an air conditioner?

LFP: We bought some from my brother but they were so small. They didn't do that good. Then when my mother died my sister-in-law. The children had given Mama this huge one. It was on the back porch. It would do the dining room, the hall, and the kitchen and the back porch right there. Then they gave her one to put there where Mama's den and her bedroom was little, put one there and, see, all that would be air conditioned up there. When they died they called me and said she and the children wanted me and Mark to have it, so they gave it to us. (12:43, Part 2)

Then the one that. We put in our bedroom [and] the first summer Mark had cut it on and we had this terrible storm and lightning struck it. It blew out all the bulbs in the house and everything. Well we got the insurance man and he was real nice and we got enough to get another one, almost. But when we moved here, that great big one that was to the dining room window, it would cool all the back, just about, except for our bedroom. I called her and told her that she could have it if she wanted it and everybody said, "She gave it to you. It's yours. Sell it and get the money." I said, "No, not me." So Mark got [unclear] because he was afraid somebody would go back and steal it after we. You know, you don't know.

But they came and got it, and at that time she and her husband and daughter together had got an apartment, and she said, "When Tommy came and got it and brought it home that was the luckiest day," because one of the apartments, the air conditioning had give out and it just fit. I just don't try to hog everything. I just gave it back to her because she had been so good to let us use it, and then it come in so good for her. (13:58, Part 2)

SM: I was just wondering about that because [unclear].

LFP: But you know up there where we lived, when we first moved over there, those trees in that yard where we lived, they were about this big and just the tops, you know, just double like this with leaves. They've grown all that much all those years. But that house was cool, unless it was up to about a hundred degrees.

SM: Yes, it was the way they were built or something.

LFP: But every year since we've been down here, every summer gets hotter. Well, you know, they had said that when Johnny started to school in Kinston, that the glaciers would melt, the iceberg would melt. Well, you see what's happening, that the state of California would go when that started happening and the coast of North Carolina. You know, New Bern used to be the coast here, they say now. (14:51, Part 2)

SM: [We're going to have to change something.]

LFP: But that's why they're having so many earthquakes in California. That water's underneath.

SM: [unclear] All the kids went. Now Donna went to college too, didn't she?

LFP: Yes, she went to Pitt Community. Johnny went to Kinston because he wanted to go into radio, but he's made his living in insurance. Hal went to Greenville. He went longer than any of them. Well, you know-.

SM: Well he liked working on the farm a lot.

LFP: Yes. He decided he didn't want to do that. But I had a sister and two brothers that really hurt my feelings because Hal wouldn't do that. But now he's so good to me. I mean, I love him to death.

SM: He's happy. I mean, I don't-. (15:49, Part 2)

LFP: Well, look. My sister's son, he's the head of a big company, and now he's hired Lonnie's son that's married to one of the Wilkerson family. They separated. But now Kent is the president of this big company, and the boss man has got five homes in different states, you know, where they have business, and the home he's living in up there now. He bought all this land around the Sound. The land and the house is ten million dollars. But look, he goes to the weddings and gives them gifts. Tim is making more money than he's ever dreamed he'd make. He gets big bonuses, big raises. They furnished [unclear] a Mercedes, get them a new one every so many years, and Tim is doing so good. He's got high promotions and they got him a car. (16:50, Part 2)

He was working at Proctor and Gamble and these lawyers and doctors. I told him when he was going to do it, I said, "Tim, they're going to use your brain then they're going to dump you." They did it. They bought this place, wanted him to run it, and when they got it where it was doing good business they sold it to Yankees and they came right down and Tim was de-promoted and all and just quit. But one of the men had said if they ever sell it-the one that had fifty-one or fifty-two percent in it-if they ever sold it that Tim would get. Instead of four it would be in fifths. But that lawyer you see on television now-.

SM: [unclear]

LFP: He tried to, but he couldn't do it. That man that was the head of it stuck by Tim. But they furnished him a car, so then when that happened he had to give it up but he had sold his and he had to go to a. Then he and Emily separated, and he had it hard. But now, when this boss man, when he got this high promotion, he was going to buy him one, or he gave him the choice to give him so much money a year if he'd buy his own, so he took so much money a year. So, he could buy his vehicle or you can save the money and then if you lose your job you can buy a car. (18:18, Part 2)

SM: Another question I wanted to ask you was do you remember growing up with your parents and how they expected you to [behave]? I think some of us keep the same values and ways of our family, but did you bring your kids up a lot like you were brought up, do you think, or a little different?

LFP: Well, they got a little more-.

SM: Because I know times were different, but.

LFP: Times were a little different and Mark and I, we both worked so hard, and we just had the three, not like my mama and daddy. Every time you keep having a baby you get poorer and poorer, and the older children would have to work to raise those younger ones. But Mark and I. Well, when Mark was in service he saved some money. He said boys would throw away and he said he was going to save some money when he come home, and his mother and daddy put it in the bank, because I know a lot of people did that and their mothers and daddies spent it and when they come home [unclear]. But see, he got a little start and we never had to borrow money, and we had small crops but we did so much of the work that we didn't have to hire it done. So when school started Mark had the money to pay what they had to pay at school. We had the money to get their school clothes. But when I was growing up it was hard to do. You couldn't get it. It was hard to get books. (19:54, Part 2)

SM: You were just struggling to get even, right?

LFP: Yes, but did you know, when Donna was a year old, the man that owned that farm. Of course we knew how he got it and it was some of mama's family down in Clayroot. They had a big farm and a nice home at that time, a big two-story home, but they wanted to move up here and he swapped with them but they had to pay more to get this farm because it was better land. Then they were supposed to finish paying it the first year. Well, that was bad business because the first year it rained and it all drowned. They lost it and he took it over. That's how he got it.

But he came when Donna was a baby, and Mark and I, I think we had saved up about thirty thousand, and he came out there one Sunday and said he decided. I was the only one in my family that stayed on the farm and Mark was the only one in his. He wanted to sell us that farm for a hundred and sixty thousand. Somebody said it sold for about four million. I don't know.

SM: I don't know. (20:55, Part 2)

LFP: But we didn't do it. We were afraid to. The man that run the store in Ayden-in fact he owns so much land from here on toward Ayden now, or he did. He's dead now. He said, "Mark, you did the best." He said, "I remember what happened when I was younger. You did the best." But in the end it was a good thing because we lost five tobacco barns in two or three years, so Mark would have had a heart attack. [Laughs] So, they say everything has a way of working itself out.

SM: Did you-? I know you've been involved in the church and all. You've been members for a long time. How about politics? Did you folks get involved in politics much?

LFP: Well, you know, my mama and daddy always voted, and I haven't voted... I haven't voted in a long time because, when Donna was born, Mark and I went out to Winterville to vote and we stood in line for a long time and when we got up there... They didn't even notify us or nothing. They said, "You're not registered here. Your name has been sent to Greenville," and we couldn't vote that year. Mark said, "Hell with it." [Laughs] But just before he died he said, "Lillie, we got to start back voting," and he got sick and didn't, and then my eyes were bad and now I can't see how to read none of it. So, I haven't been back to register to vote. (22:23, Part 2)

SM: So you have to go [unclear]

LFP: Well, no. Now I would be registered to vote here in Winterville.

SM: Oh, really?

LFP: Yes. [unclear] township. I don't believe Hal can vote in Winterville. I'm not sure.

SM: [unclear]

LFP: Township or something. I don't know.

SM: So, health-wise, I mean you've been fairly healthy along the way, haven't you?

LFP: Well, when I was in second grade I had malaria fever, and believe it or not mosquitoes, they don't make no whelps on me. But then before [unclear] was born I had scarlet fever and we were quarantined. But other than that, I mean, just colds.

SM: Getting older. Can't do much about that. [Laughs]

LFP: I don't have many colds though. I guess they say if you work out in the sun and all that helps you during the winter. But I've had some skin cancers. (23:32, Part 2)

SM: Do you take anything to help you fight [off colds]? Vitamin C or anything? You drink a lot of juice and stuff like that?

LFP: You know vitamins have never been good for me. I can't take them good. But I-.

SM: Does it upset your stomach or something?

LFP: I don't know. I reckon it's the nervous. But I never had much problem until about two summers ago. Hal came over here, and my stove where it looked like [unclear] and we never had. Donna kept saying we'd get something-because you had to buy those pieces and put it on. But Hal said we had. I had blueberry pies in the stove and they had put the door down, and I went to get a fork and my leg right there touched that place and it was just like a razor and it went right near an artery. The blood was running on the floor and the rug and spurting and they couldn't. They didn't know what to do. They were scared to death and I told them to take a shoe string and tie it around my toes, and that's how we got it stopped. But in a week it went to bleeding again and I like to bled to death. (24:37 Part 2)

Since then it run my blood pressure up and finally they got me a family doctor out here-and I can't stand her, a woman doctor-and she has finally put me on blood pressure medicine. She put me on one and I was doing pretty good at that. Then she doubled it and I believe in March or April I would have been dead if. Donna saw that coming. I said, "Donna, that medicine's killing me. I'm getting to where I can't hardly walk down the hall." She called out there and said she wanted her mama to have another doctor. [Laughs] They said with Physician East you can't change doctors and we didn't. It's a racket now. Used to, when you went to a doctor, first thing you did, you got a physical from head to toe. You don't do it no more. They take your blood pressure, they weigh you, hear you breath, put that thing in your back and hear, and that's it.

SM: I know. It's different. (25:41, Part 2)

LFP: But I know when I went back-and that mess is high. The blood pressure medicine she give me is a new kind and they push those new kinds. I still say those doctors get a cut in that medicine and she gets a cut from it. Now, she does give me a lot of samples, but Donna said that the druggist told her the other day when I start buying these it'll be seventy-two dollars a month. A lot of people I know, they're on the older kind for just ten dollars a month, and with my eyes that little bottle of medicine is over a hundred dollars, my eye drops.

SM: Whew! Did you-? Say your mama and stuff. I was wondering about home remedies.

LFP: Oh, we've always believed in that. [Laughs]

SM: There were some things that worked pretty good.

LFP: Dr. Frizzelle, the one that owned that farm, he always said, "Lillie, if something stings you, get hot soda water and put it in it and-."

SM: Hot what? (26:49, Part 2)

LFP: Water with Arm and Hammer soda in it, hot as you can stand it, and it works.

SM: Now how would you fix that?

LFP: I just put some water in a. I used to do it in a pan, or in the sink, put that hot water [unclear]. After one of the hurricanes I was out under the [unclear]. Hal had put the swing and it had blown down and was kind of down where the water had washed it, and I held onto the tractor to get across to get it up and underneath the thing on the tire, under there, I put my hand, this hand, in a wasp nest. There was nine places where wasps stung me. You talk about getting to this house and putting them in that hot soda. About that time my brother called from Arizona and I told him what happened. [He said,] "Sister, you need help to get to a doctor!" I said, "I'm doing what Dr. Frizzelle said and it works." [He said,] "He's been dead a long time. That doesn't work." [Laughs] He hung up and in a few minutes Brother come in the door with his eyes. He had called Brother to come over here. But my hand, the swelling and all, I got it right on down.(28:00, Part 2)

SM: How much of the baking soda do you use?

LFP: Oh, probably two or three tablespoons full.

SM: And a couple gallons of water?

LFP: Well, I just had a little bit. Now Hal, when he was bush-hogging the other year, [he ran] into a bed of ground bees. They come up in that tractor and they covered him. He got to the house-his head, his arms, his shoulders [unclear]. I just fixed it and put big towels in it at first with soda, but then this Caladryl lotion. Do you ever get it? It's clear so it don't stain your clothes. That's the best thing for fire ants, bees, wasps, or anything now, even Poison Ivy. I keep it all the time.

SM: Caladryl?

LFP: Yes. It's the clear kind.

SM: Are there any other things you use, any kind of plants or anything like that around?

LFP: Oh, yes, aloe plant. Honey, there's nothing no better for burns than that. When we lived over yonder I had one big. I can't grow it down here on account of the windows. I'm going to get me one to put in my garage. I know it can grow out there. (29:15, Part 2)

SM: [unclear]

LFP: Yes. I had it where the places was that wide, you know, the things. Because I know Franklin's brother's little girl or somebody had put some coffee in a cup on a heater and it was warming up that Christmas-do you know how [unclear]?-and the child-she was about two years old-she reached up and it poured and it hit her chin and come down into her clothes. They called over home-my sister was there and her husband was over there-about the aloe plant, and we just broke off big pieces. There was three nurses there too in the family, because one of them was the head nurse in the hospital-the one that the baby, that happened-but they had been giving her aspirin till I got there, and using ice water. (30:07, Part 2)

But, did you know, they rubbed it all here and got it all here and when she got ready to go to bed this wasn't red anymore. But right here, where the hot clothes, you know, got it, they split one open and laid it on her chest to go to sleep. The next morning they said there wasn't a red place on her, nor a blister. And the black people around there, they knew I had them. It wasn't nothing at night for a young'un to come knock on the door and say, "Ms. Pilgreen, so-and-so said you had that burn." They called it the "burn plant." Said, "If you would give me some. The child got up against the heater." It really helps too.

SM: Now, you probably. I don't know why I'm asking you about this now [unclear]. You probably had chickens too [unclear]. (31:04, Part 2)

LFP: Yes. We had chickens right on till we moved. But we quit setting hens because the hawks and stuff were so bad and by the time you bought the feed. Mark and his daddy, when we first got married, they started raising chickens together and that's what we did and we'd save some of the hens. But then we got so Mark could buy the chickens-when they got the A&P and stuff-you could buy the chickens cheaper than we could raise them so he quit. But then when they had all these-like that egg plant down by the railroad? They had farms where they grew them and when they got a certain age they sold them. They'd keep them about a year or something. And we knew people who worked there and when some got out the trucks they didn't want those and they could give them to whoever they wanted to, so that's how we got our last... That's when we had White Leghorns.

SM: Yes. [unclear] (32:04, Part 2)

LFP: Yes. Well, you know, we left some there and was going to give them to Dexter. We didn't have a lot; might have had ten. We went back the next morning, and that man that had the car place over there said, "When I came up here there was a dog in there just killing the chickens." He got them away. He said the best he could get was three or four. [Laughs] The dogs had killed them.

SM: How many children did Donna have?

LFP: Two.

SM: Two.

LFP: Have you ever seen the pictures?

SM: Yes, I have. I haven't seen them for a while. I knew [there was a boy. Is it] a girl and a boy?

LFP: Yes.

SM: The boy I knew was a baseball player in town.

LFP: Yes, and Brittany got into that volleyball. [Voice fades away]

[Break in recording]

SM: I had forgotten about her. I don't know why, but I did. Now it comes to me. (33:06, Part 2)

LFP: But you know, when she got older than the babysitter keeps them she started staying with me, so she's been over here now several years because Donna saves that money. She's bought a lot of things on her house and all, you know.

SM: Sure.

LFP: But still it costs me because I buy all the little knickknacks and stuff [and I would always give them] an allowance too. I told her the other day, I said, "Honey, you might not get your allowance," because interest rates ain't nothing.

SM: Oh, I know.

LFP: You know, Wachovia, $1.09 is what. You get nothing, and every bill we got keeps going up, up, up. They're just taking all the people's money they save. The banks are making money with it. They're just making a killing with it. (33:56, Part 2)

But I would. Brittany loves to garden. She loves to go to the garden and she watches the things I do. She helps me freeze corn. She helps do things in the house. Donna said, "Well, Mama, why does Brittany help you do that and she don't help me?" I said, "Hadn't Mama been telling you it was time you showed Brittany how to do stuff?" But see, the mothers, when they come home, they don't take time to teach the children anything. That's why they don't know how to do anything. You don't blame the children; you blame the mothers. But then those mothers that we have now, they were raised like that. Their mothers didn't show them.

SM: It's a different time. People live a lot different now. Everything's going so fast. At least it seems that way to me. (34:42, Part 2)

LFP: That's how come my daughter-in-law. Of course now Sue's a good cook. She don't like to cook desserts. Allyson's a good cook. Donna is too. Donna can cook good desserts and all of it, make ice cream in the freezer. So that just suits Hal and them, you know, to have good food. But some families don't have good food anymore. Some of them have junk.

SM: Most everything's bought out.

LFP: Most everything they eat at home is a cereal. We just don't do that. But I have been. I never did that over yonder. I don't know how it got started when we moved down here. All of them are coming here on Sunday to eat, and I have them for Sunday dinner or Sunday night supper, and I still do, about nine people, and it works me on Saturday and Sunday and I've told them I've just got to stop it.

SM: Well they've always come. They've always done that, haven't they, over the years. (35:45, Part 2)

LFP: Well over yonder they. Well, Lonnie teased me. He said how come they didn't keep staying over there, you didn't have air conditioning and heat in the house all over, [Laughs] and over here everybody learned that. After we moved here I couldn't have even farmed if we had had company like I had over yonder, because my two sisters, every time you look, it if wasn't both of them coming at the same time with suitcases, or Mama's sister. She come and stayed almost a week four times a year. It was somebody coming in with a suitcase. I have cooked, cooked, cooked and waited on people, and when mama's sister died. She had twin girls. See, they didn't have to worry about her if she was here, and a son, and not a one of them has been to see me since Nell died. She was buried on Monday and 9/11 was that Tuesday morning. Of course their health has kind of gone to the bad. They waited on her so much too. She never did like to work much so she liked to sit around and let you wait on her. (36:49, Part 2)

But cooking's hard work and the food's expensive too.

SM: Oh, I know, today.

LFP: See a lot of mothers, like me, they would have [unclear].

SM: When you left the farm and decided to retire, of course you decided to buy a piece of land and build a house, kind of like you always wanted to do. Hadn't you always wanted to?

LFP: Well, I always did, but see, Dr. Frizzelle had told us right out in the yard. Mark kept after him about buying a lot to build a house. He said, "John Mark, why do you want to build a house? You can live here till you die." He said, "You're about the age of my nieces and nephews, all of you will probably go on about the same age, and you can stay here. Just as long as you never steal you'll be here." (37:47, Part 2)

Well, I've always believed it started from a woman in our church [unclear] in Greenville. She was raised in Reedy Branch Church too. She was a Jackson. But I know Jack came over one day, and somebody had said they had heard something about us selling the farm, and I asked Jack and he said, "Oh, if we could get a million dollars we might." The next thing we knew a boy that went to church out there at Reedy Branch too come over. That was in March of '89. He came in and said, "We wanted to come tell you that [unclear] are going to sell this farm." You know, Mark and I didn't go. We like to died that night.

He called Jack Evans and he said, "Jack." When they left he said, "If you were going to sell the farm I thought that you would call me, if y'all were, and tell me before you sent somebody here to do that." Jack said, "Mark, it's not me. It's the heirs." He didn't have no control.

But we just didn't know what to do because most people you'd ask about land [said], "No, we're going to keep it like it is so we can sell the whole farm." You know, the children will get it. (39:18, Part 2)

SM: Right.

LFP: And the Allens, how come we got this place, all this was branch land through here, all on this side, and that side was the Joneses and now [unclear] Allen, and they're to their self. She's never been to visit me. You know some people that own a lot of land and all they think they're above you. It's kind of a [unclear]

But a girl that was raised there, it was her daughter married a boy and they got to messing with drugs, and he was in trouble and he had to have twenty-seven thousand dollars one night. He come to Bill up there because that was her uncle. I mean, he married her sister. Bill married her sister. Bill, [unclear] He didn't have the money and you couldn't go to no bank at night, but they went to [unclear] Allen and he wrote a check for twenty-seven thousand dollars. (40:18, Part 2)

Well, Lonnie had seen this sign along here but then meantime, the man across the road, he had bought that part. He paid forty-five thousand because he got several acres. [unclear] We just got, oh, four acres and some tenths but that's from the middle of the highway that you're paying tax on. That thing's in the middle of the highway and that shoulder of the road and all. You pay tax on that. We got it for thirty thousand. So they got seventy-five thousand dollars where their daddy had paid twenty-seven thousand.

But now there was. I don't know if you ever heard of [unclear] Hardy. He's a big farmer, big hog raiser, and now he's into building these [unclear] land that's got these big mansions on them. But he told Lonnie, he said, "I got four places. Tell your sister she can come and look at the land and get any one she wants." Well, it was on down by Black Jack. Mark [unclear] and he told Lonnie, he said, "We'll go back home. I ain't living down this way." (41:35, Part 2)

SM: He didn't like being down in Black Jack.

LFP: But Lonnie saw these. They had took the sign down but he went and asked about it and then [unclear] sold it to us. So that's how we got here and, you know, it's a quiet place. We have some real good neighbors. But the Allens, they just don't really. They claim to be good Christians [Laughs] but they don't do for other people that much.

SM: [unclear]

LFP: In fact, see, they own all this land right here. They put a trailer over there.

SM: Well, what's been one of the best things in your life? You've lived a long time. You've done a lot of things. Can you think of something that would stand out?

LFP: Well, you know, as good as my health is, you know. I go to the hospital sometimes to see your friends, and you think suppose I had to be over here, hooked up to all that stuff? You know, you kind of think of your health. Of course, I can tell. [Laughs] My eyes, that bothers me, and my back's getting bad. I can tell a lot of difference. But I'll be eighty-three in May. (43:03, Part 2)

SM: What is your birthday?

LFP: The 30th. It used to be Memorial Day but they. Everything's changed. I said, "They changed my birthday." I could never get a card on my birthday because the mail didn't come. But, you know, I've never had nobody to help me clean house.

SM: What do you think is one of the worst things that's happened to you?

LFP: Well, I used to think moving out here was the worst. [Laughs] That just about killed me. But, you know, you often think about how much you love your mama and daddy and your brothers and sisters, but when you lose the mate out of your home and you're by yourself, that's the one thing you've lost. Well, it's kind of like my brother-in-law said, "You're two people and when you marry you're one, and when one goes there's just a half one left," and that's kind of the way you feel.

SM: I forget. How long has it been since Mark's passing?

LFP: Nine years this past February. But see, I lost Lonnie the 31st of January and Mark the 25th of April. I found Mark in the bed dead. (44:25, Part 2)

SM: That's an awful lot.

LFP: But you know, his brother lives in Baltimore and I haven't seen them since July after Mark died, but he's lost both legs, and he had saved. They didn't live big and he had saved but you know the nursing homes, and hospitals, and lawyer stuff's going to get every penny his wife's got in bonds and stuff, because if they cash the bonds now then you got to pay that tax. But she called me last night. He don't have any legs and. Let's see. Not long ago his kidneys and everything had just about stopped functioning, and his blood count, all that. The medicine they give him costs a thousand and twenty-five dollars. But did you know. He's a bad diabetic. Everything. Everything's wrong. You'd think he'd been dead two years ago. But she called me last night, and she went to see him yesterday, and he says, "Mark sits right there and talks to me all the time." And they lost a son. He got messing with some girl on drugs and he took some and he went crazy and he got to shooting all in the neighborhood and a man shot and killed him. That was after I started working at [unclear]. (45:45, Part 2)

SM: Well how long were you and Mark married? How many years was it?

LFP: Forty-seven.

SM: Forty-seven years. [unclear]

LFP: But that's when you. I mean, it's like. I have talked with widow ladies. You can have company. You can have a room full of people. But you still feel lost in a way. Just like when my children come and get together. They are talking. When I want to talk about something they don't want to hear it. They like to talk to each other about what they do. But, still got Pearlie. She's one of the most wonderful friends in the world.

SM: I haven't seen her for, well, it's been close to two years.

LFP: We talk on the telephone and-.

SM: Is she doing okay?

LFP: Yes. [unclear] eighty-one.

SM: I was going to say. She's pretty close to your age. (46:52, Part 2)

LFP: And after Mark died there was a house built on the Jack Jones Road but that couple sold it and they had just moved in. Let's see. Two weeks after Lonnie died a woman in our church died and we went to that funeral on Thursday, and this couple moved in that house that Thursday, and Saturday a week I woke up and Mark was dead, because she said she went to the post office and she stopped. [unclear] down the road and wanted to know what was wrong here and they told her, "Her husband was found dead."

But you know we didn't meet until '97. This man had asked. He did some plumbing for somebody and he just asked a lot of people in the neighborhood. Chico's. I had never been there. Chico got stuck. [Laughs] Of course he was charged with all that plumbing. And I met that couple and from then on we have been friends like I had over yonder, the best friends you have ever seen. They were really. I mean she was raised down here but she went to college and married a Yankee. They separated and she married another one and they're the best people you've ever seen. (48:14, Part 2)

SM: Pearlie, I was wondering, did you know Pearlie at all before you came here?

LFP: Oh, yes. We went to the same school.

SM: When you were little?

LFP: Yes, right on through school.

SM: See, I didn't know that.

LFP: And Pearlie had a brother. You would have thought they were twins they were so near alike. He was short and all like she was. Her baby brother was tall and handsome. You know, she's lost her baby brother in the last few years. She's lost a sister and a brother in the last few years.

SM: Is she still living in the same place?

LFP: Yes, and [unclear] and them, they bought a house next to it-the woman that was put in a nursing home-and they redone the house and their son, they let him have that trailer. Now [unclear] has three grandchildren. I've seen the girls; haven't seen the baby. It's a little boy, two girls and a boy. And so Pearlie does real good. (49:15, Part 2)

SM: Here you are now. Is there anything that you'd like to do, that you could do, that you haven't done yet?

LFP: Not really. [Laughs] You know what? A woman from the blind center comes out here some. Of course, she hasn't been lately. They were having something at Red Oak about learning to do things and she was after me about going and I said, "Well, you know I can't drive," and she said, "Well, we could send a van." But the gas got so high. If she called I never got it. But, I tell you, I have learned to do as much as I want to do now.

SM: So probably one of the most enjoyable things is taking care of your flowers and-.

LFP: You know you can work at your own speed.

SM: Yes and not feel hurried about anything.

LFP: But you know when you're working and you feel so tired and you think, "If I could just sleep another hour." But now you'll wake up and you. A lot of times I get up at 6:00 or a little after. (50:28, Part 2)

But something has happened that is so good. Back during the snow Hal called [and said], "Mama, promise me you won't go out." I said, "I promise you, I won't go out. [Laughs] I'm warm and I have plenty of food. I don't want to die laying out here in the snow and the ice." I didn't get the paper. The last snow we had he came by and checked on me and brought the paper. Well after that snow. It's a black paper man. I have started to the paper box some Sundays. He would be just a little later and maybe I had started. He would see me and he'd drive right up and hand it to me, and after that snow every morning my paper is out here by this garage door, every morning. (51:21, Part 2)

At Christmas. They had put something in the paper about Christmas and Hal said, "Mama, are you going to send him money?" I said, "Look, with grandchildren and family and stuff you can't do but so much with this interest rate low. I've got to pay my bills," and I didn't send anything, but I knew that his wife had good sense because all this was fixed on the computer, and after he started doing that, and I was going to throw the collards away, I called her and asked her did they eat collars. She said, "Yes, ma'am."

He has this paper job, gets up at 2:00. Then he has a job at Farmville. [He has to be at] work at 8:00. She has a job with the heart center as secretary and where she's at she has to work twelve hours straight, so if she has to work at night she can't help him. It's sometimes night, sometimes daytime with her. She can't help him. But if she's working in the daytime, those days she's not working she helps him with the paper. So they came over here and got the collards and I even gave her some blueberries to make them a pie with. But he still does it. (52:30, Part 2)

But you know what? You just feel like God is watching you when something like happens, don't you? I know that he's watching me. He took the fear out of me. When Mark would leave to go to. That first summer, if he'd leave to go to the farm, I'd leave the garage light, the kitchen lights, and everything before we would lay back down, because we'd get up at 4:00 and get the water and everything fixed and I'd lay back down but I couldn't go to sleep. But since he died I don't have any fear.

But I've got all my neighbors' phone numbers. I've got some of them punched in on the thing there. So, [unclear] But these people that are so good, he had a generator and they could make coffee. Every morning he brought me hot coffee.

SM: From down the street? (53:28, Part 2)

LFP: Across the field here. You go down here and you get on Jack Jones Road. They love to go on cruises. They have a garden. They are real savers, save on one thing so they can do something else, so they love to go on cruises. But I think they're about tired of it now. But they brought me back some pure vanilla from an island. Then she come over here one day and had the most beautiful tablecloth and napkins you have ever seen and gave it to me.

SM: That's nice.

LFP: Of course [I share things from my garden with them.]

SM: Well, that's nice. You're meeting some other friends too, you know. I mean, being here, you know. (54:21, Part 2)

LFP: It's right funny. The Allens, they never have been to visit me, except they started the first year at Halloween. When all their children were little they'd come for Halloween, but the daddies would bring them. But one of the women that's a teacher-that was after Mark died-she said, "Ms. Pilgreen, have you been to see the new neighbors that bought the house?" I said, "No, I haven't." She said, "You should go. They're very nice people," and I thought to myself, "Well, why don't you come to see me? I thought I was trying to be nice." [Laughs] She hadn't been to see me.

But we met when the neighbors. Carol Branch, she's a pharmacist over at the hospital, and she's the one that introduced us because she knew she loved plants and I love plants. So she said, "I got you all together." [Laughs] So all of us are friends. She calls me every morning to be sure I'm all right, every morning, and if I've gone out and I call back she'll say, "I was just fixing to go over there," because she knows where the key is. "I was just fixing to go over there and check on you." (55:35, Part 2)

SM: Well, I guess that's about it.

LFP: Well, that's just about it. See, I remember the Hoover days. Our country's worse than it was in the Hoover days because everybody was poor but, see, we lived in a farming community so they still could kind of eat.

SM: Right.

LFP: Except maybe the people that lived in little houses on the farm. They didn't have much money and all but they would come and wash for my mama and they would give them some hams, give them a chicken. But I never had nobody to help me wash or help me clean yards.

SM: So, Depression time, you remember that because you were young. I mean, you were young, but you can remember that time.

LFP: Yes, because children. Used to your shoes had leather soles and people would have a shoe lathe that would go around the neighborhood and you could tack them back on. I don't reckon you've ever walked to where it come off and you can't walk with that thing going down. I can remember when you did all those things. But now, we didn't go hungry, and we give a lot of people stuff. (56:54, Part 2)

SM: People were there for each other and helped each other out a lot.

LFP: But I know when Johnny was little the colored people that lived on the farm with us. Patience was a little younger than I was but she got married and she had five children right quick, and all Johnny's clothes, especially. Well, I tried to keep them all good, but his Sunday clothes or little things I had for Saturday and Sunday to go off, you know, I kept them all good, and I'd give them to her. She had to work by the day and wash on the washboard and she said, "Well, Lillie, I'll come help you do something for these clothes." I said, "Patience, I give them to you. You got more to do now than you can do." [Laughs] I mean, I just. If I had something like that and I wasn't going to use it I'd just give it to them.

SM: You talked about using a wash board and all that, wringer washer. When did you get your first electric washer? (57:56, Part 2)

LFP: Well, when Mark's mama and daddy moved, they. I washed in. It was hard to cook dinner. You'd wash too with the wash board and do it all. Mark got this little small one and put it on [unclear] and I used that though till Hal was born. Then Mark got an automatic one and put in the kitchen and hooked it up to go out to the sink like. Then later, when Donna was born, my neighbor across the road, she said, "Ms. Pilgreen, you need a dryer." Her son was an electrician. She said, "He'll hook it up and everything for you." So then when Donna was born I got the dryer and put the washer out on the back porch and had it all together.

My daddy's mother died washing when it was real cold, and if I wanted to wash I got out [unclear] and washed anyway, and Papa would worry. He said, "You're going to die like Mammy did." She was thirty-nine. She got pneumonia after washing and died. (59:08, Part 2)

Jack Evans, one day. Mark was gone somewhere and I was out there washing and I didn't even know he was around, and I looked around and Jack was standing there. He said, "Girl, what are you doing out here, cold as it is?" He was always. He was like Mark, thought you ought not be doing something if it was so cold.

SM: I forgot to ask you about. Of course, Johnny, he and his wife didn't have any children, did they?

LFP: No. And see, Hal. Sue had Kevin when Hal got married and I think she was advised not to have anymore. But you know, Kevin, whatever amount I give Donna's children for birthdays and Christmas, I do the same thing for Kevin.

SM: That's nice.

LFP: Always have.

SM: Well, they seem to be doing okay. They've got a nice place. (1:00:15, Part 2)

LFP: [unclear] My sister, because her son, I mean, this big fine house, he... They get the car free [unclear] Because he's been married five times and most of the women get a lot of that money he makes. But he still makes big and, he and the boss man, they own malls together, and condos, and all this stuff, you know. A lot of things the boss man [does], he's into some of that too. But I told him one night, I said, "At least Hal's got his house paid for." [Laughs] And he's home on weekends and Kent and Tim are having to fly everywhere. [unclear] As long as you're together at night and on the weekends and all, I mean, you have a normal life. He tries to get my grass mowed during the week so he don't have to do it on Saturday, unless it's rainy or something. Sue still doesn't say anything, because Sue loves to eat here too. [Laughs] (1:01:27, Part 2)

SM: [Laughs]

LFP: They love it when the rest of them are gone and there ain't too many, like last night. We heated up stuff and Sue sliced the meat and all. Hal enjoys that.

SM: Yes. Well he likes [unclear].

LFP: Well, would you like a pork sandwich or something for your lunch?

SM: Oh, I'm fine right now. Let me go ahead and shut this thing off. I know you make some good tea. [Laughs]

LFP: Yes, I've got tea, and I told them last night, I said, "Well, there's enough strawberries and cream left for me and Steve to have a strawberry shortcake."

SM: Boy, that sounds pretty good. [Laughs] I'll shut this off. (1:02:14, Part 2)

[End tape two]

Lillie Alma Faulkner Pilgreen oral history interview, April 19, 2004
Oral history interview of Lillie Alma Faulkner Pilgreen in Greenville, NC. The interview pertains to Lillie Alma Faulkner Pilgreen's life in Hookerton, Greene County, NC and Winterville, Pitt County, NC, rural sharecropping farming life during the 1930's, education, marriage, membership in Free Will Baptist Church, postwar farming in Winterville, and integration of the schools. Interviewer: Steve Myott.
April 19, 2004
Original Format
oral histories
10cm x 63cm
Local Identifier
Location of Original
East Carolina Manuscript Collection
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