Oral History Interview with James and Nannie Pharis,
 December 5, 1978 and  January 8 and 30, 1979.
Interview H-39. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007):

Electronic Edition.

Pharis, James, interviewee

Pharis, Nannie, interviewee

Interview conducted by Allen Tullos

     Audio-enhanced transcript (streaming MP3 file)
[Full interview, ca. 156 MB, 2 hr. 47 min.]

Download MP3 file

Funding from the Institute for Museum and Library Services
supported the electronic publication of this title.

Text transcribed by Apex Data Services, Inc.
Text encoded by Apex Data Services, Inc., Melissa Meeks and Natalia Smith
Sound recordings digitized by Steve Weiss
First edition, 2001
ca. 130 K
Academic Affairs Library, UNC-CH
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill,

        © This work is the property of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It may be used freely by individuals for research, teaching and personal use as long as this statement of availability is included in the text.

Source Description:
(transcript) Oral History Interview with James and Nannie Pharis, 1978 December 5, 1979 January 8 and 30. Interview H-39. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
(series) Series H. Piedmont Industrialization. Southern Oral History Program Collection (H-4007)
James and Nannie Pharis
74 p.
Chapel Hill, N. C.
Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Interview conducted on December 5, 1978, and January 8 and 30, 1979, by Allen Tullos; recorded in Burlington, N. C.
Forms part of: Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Series H. Piedmont Industrialization, Manuscripts Department, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Original transcript on deposit at The Southern Historical Collection Louis Round Wilson Library.

        The electronic edition is a part of the UNC-CH digitization project, Documenting the American South.
        An audio file with the interview complements this electronic edition.
        The text has been entered using double-keying and verified against the original.
        The text has been encoded using the recommendations for Level 4 of the TEI in Libraries Guidelines.
        Original grammar, and spelling have been preserved.
        All quotation marks, em dashes and ampersand have been transcribed as entity references.
        All double right and left quotation marks are encoded as " and " respectively.
        All em dashes are encoded as --
        Spell-check and verification made against printed text using Author/Editor (SoftQuad) and Microsoft Word spell check programs.

Library of Congress Subject Headings, 24th edition, 2001

Languages Used:

LC Subject Headings:

Revision History:

Oral History Interview with James and Nannie Pharis,
1978 December 5, 1979 January 8 and 30.
Interview H-39. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) Series H. Piedmont Industrialization.
Southern Oral History Program Collection (H-4007)

[Interview conducted] by

Allen Tullos

Transcribed by

David Knudsen

Original transcript on deposit at
The Southern Historical Collection
Louis Round Wilson Library

Page 1

Oral History Interview with James and Nannie Pharis,
1978 December 5, 1979 January 8 and 30.
Interview H-39

BEGIN TAPE 1 SIDE 1: December 5, 1978

        ALLEN TULLOS: The best thing for me is to go ahead and ask Mr. Pharis these questions and if you feel you have any information you can add, to add. Another time I would like to sit and talk to you in the same kind of way we have done with him.

        You had four sisters and one brother.

        JAMES W. PHARIS: Yes, I had. They're all dead.

        AT: Could you tell me their names and about how far apart they were born?

        NANNIE PHARIS: About two years difference in the ages. There were six, two boys and four girls.

        AT: What was the oldest one's name?

        JAMES PHARIS: Brooksie.

        AT: Did he have a middle name?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Not that I know of. I don't think they used middle names.

        JAMES PHARIS: The next one was a brother, George. And Sally Pharis. Nanny Pharis. Daisy Pharis. About two years apart.

        AT: Is that the way that would work in those days?

        NANNIE PHARIS: That's the way it would work.

        AT: You said your father and mother lived on a farm.

        JAMES PHARIS: They moved off of the farm when the kids was old enough to work and moved to town.

        AT: The oldest one, his name was George . . .

        JAMES PHARIS: Brooksie was the oldest. She was a girl.

        AT: She went to work first?

        JAMES PHARIS: Yes, I believe. You could go to work when you got big enough to talk. I believe Brooksie and George and Sally and Nanny was old enough to go to work.

Page 2

        AT: How old would they have been?

        JAMES PHARIS: I'd say from fifteen down.

        AT: And the youngest one would have been nine?

        JAMES PHARIS: Yeah. Right about how old it was.

        AT: Do you remember anything at all about that farming experience?

        JAMES PHARIS: No, I was so small I can't remember too much about it. I can remember being on the farm and I can remember moving. My daddy raised tobacco, his central crop was tobacco. When we come to the town he still kept his team. He done hauling around for people and done truck farming after we moved to town. He done that on up until he was able to do anything.

        AT: He would have a few acres rented around?

        JAMES PHARIS: No, he just rent the land. That's what he done after he come to town.

        AT: The truck farming would be different kinds of vegetables?

        JAMES PHARIS: Yes, vegetables. Corn to feed his team on.

        AT: He never did work in the mill, then.

        JAMES PHARIS: No, he never did work in the mill.

        AT: Did he talk about why they moved from the farm to town?

        JAMES PHARIS: Because the kinds felt that all we had to do when we moved to town was to reach up and pull the money off of the trees. We come down and pull some off of it.

        NANNIE PHARIS: Worked for twenty-five cents a day when we started.

        JAMES PHARIS: And that was eleven hours a day, too. I went to work after I got eight or nine years old, I worked for several years there for twenty-five cents a day, eleven hours a day.

        AT: When you all got paid, did you turn the money into your father?

Page 3

        JAMES PHARIS: Had to, it took it all to live.

        AT: How did that work?

        JAMES PHARIS: They'd give each kid a little allowance.

        NANNIE PHARIS: Very little.

        AT: Your parents would?

        JAMES PHARIS: They'd give us so much out of what we made.

        AT: Who in the family would have been the one that would have kept up with the things that had to do with keeping the money?

        JAMES PHARIS: My mother, she looked after that. Weren't no money to look after much. The whole family wasn't making as much as one would make now.

        AT: Did people trade things or vegetables or crops or produce?

        JAMES PHARIS: No. People lived on credit then. If you didn't have credit, you didn't live. I remember after I went to work, I'd buy me a pair of shoes or a suit of clothes or anything I bought, I'd buy it and pay a dollar a pay day, every two weeks. Until I got it paid.

        AT: Would there be a company store?

        JAMES PHARIS: No, they had a company store. But it wasn't like a lot of company stores you read about. We had merchants we traded with.

        AT: And they would have general store kind of . . . .

        JAMES PHARIS: They had what you'd call a company store. But it didn't actually belong to the company, the textile company. It belonged to an individual but they called it the company store.

        AT: Do you remember the names of the store you would have bought your overalls from?

        JAMES PHARIS: Rufus Ray was the name of the man that owned the company store.

Page 4

        AT: Where would that one have been?

        JAMES PHARIS: That was in Spray.

        NANNIE PHARIS: It's Eden now.

        AT: When you started to work, what do remember about that, the mill, working, life?

        JAMES PHARIS: I don't remember too much individual things. I was about nine or ten years old when I got that hand hurt right there.

        AT: How did that happen?

        JAMES PHARIS: I was riding on an elevator rope in the mill. Me and another boy was getting the quills in the mill. He was on the bottom floor and I was on the top floor. We'd go to the spinning room to empty our quills out. The first one who would get up there would ride the elevator rope. He'd be down on the bottom floor. We'd ride the elevator rope up to the pulley and slide back down. I was riding one day and was looking round over the spinning room and my hand got caught under the wheel.

        That thing was mashed into jelly, all of it was just smashed all to pieces. They took me out. It happened pretty much after lunch one day. It started up after dinner, they gave forty-five minutes for dinner. They took me down to the company store--the drug store was in the front end of the company store--never even notified my people or nothing. Set me down in the front of that company store. There were only two doctors in town at that time, and both of them was out of town on country calls. I sat there until about four o'clock. Nobody done nothing in the world for me. My people was never notified. Nothing said about it. You tear yourself all to pieces then, nothing

Page 5

said about getting anything out of it. The doctor put a board on my hand there, had my fingers straight. One night the board slipped around the back and that thing crooked down. It's been that way ever since. Never even got straight.

        AT: Those things happened a good deal?

        JAMES PHARIS: Oh, yes, back in them days. Nothing never said about it then.

        NANNIE PHARIS: He could have sued them nowadays.

        JAMES PHARIS: You couldn't do nothing. Poor people like us, no use in us suing.

        NANNIE PHARIS: They didn't have anything to sue for, actually.

        JAMES PHARIS: No use in suing. Poor people didn't stand a chance. If a rich man wanted . . . . They had a system back in them days. One company owned all the mills was around there. They had agreements with one another. If they said not to hire you they wouldn't hire you. So, if you done anything--anything the company didn't like-- they'd just fire you and tell the rest of them not to hire you. So, there you'd be. People who lived under them circumstances, back in them days, was nothing they could do. So they didn't try to do nothing.

        AT: Did they have a doctor the mill paid to handle you?

        JAMES PHARIS: They did pay for the doctor to fix up my hand. We never did. Never did say nothing to us about it.

        AT: Would there be one particular doctor who would be on contract?

        JAMES PHARIS: There were only two doctors in town. Either one of them was a company doctor.

Page 6

        NANNIE PHARIS: Was one of them Dr. Sweeney?

        JAMES PHARIS: Dr. Sweeney and Dr. Ray was the only two doctors available.

        AT: Would these sorts of accidents happen to one group more than another, or children more than grown-ups? Who would be most likely to have an accident in the mill?

        JAMES PHARIS: So many little children working then, little bitty children. Naturally they had more accidents than the grown-ups would.

        AT: Did anybody ever complain?

        JAMES PHARIS: Didn't have no complaints back in those days.

        AT: There was nobody that came around to check on that?

        JAMES PHARIS: No. You done like they said do or you didn't do back in them days. If a man wanted to stay in town he had to do what they wanted do or he couldn't stay there.

        AT: You hear people talking now, they've found about these diseases that you get by breathing some of the dust and things like that.

        JAMES PHARIS: Nothing ever said about that in my day.

        NANNIE PHARIS: There was plenty of dust.

        JAMES PHARIS: There was plenty of tuberculosis back in them days, too.

        AT: Did they ever think that tuberculosis had to do with the mill?

        JAMES PHARIS: No, never crossed their mind. They just had it, that's all.

        AT: What about your other brothers and sisters, did they have any kind of accidents like that?

        JAMES PHARIS: No, not a one of them ever did have an accident. It was my fault. The supervisors in the mill shouldn't have allowed it, and they

Page 7

wouldn't allow it nowadays. I done that for six months there, ride that rope for six months before I got hurt. I know nobody never did tell me to stop it.

        AT: Did your brothers and sisters go on working in the mill?

        JAMES PHARIS: They worked on in the mill until all of them married.

        NANNIE PHARIS: Some of them worked after they married. Take them two then to make a living, if you could call it a living.

        JAMES: People now, they don't know what it's all about.

        AT: Your brothers and sisters, or you, did you go to any kind of school at all?

        JAMES PHARIS: I graduated from third grade with honors. I went to school two years and graduated the third grade. I made two grades in one year. I didn't go to school but two years but made three grades.

        AT: What about your brothers and sisters?

        JAMES PHARIS: By a little better, they got a little better education than I did, but not much. They had to work back in them days. I was the littlest, so naturally I got to go to school a little. My daddy used to give me twenty-five cents a week to go to school and not play hooky at all. Then I'd play hooky and get the twenty-five cents too. I remember talking one time about how miserable you'd be to play hooky. Me and another boy, a friend of mine, was going to school one morning and passed a Methodist church. We got even with the Methodist church and one of us said to the other one "Let's play hooky and go up in that bell tower." Until after school started, then we'd come down and go off somewhere. Some women crossed the street seen us go up in there and they come over and take the ladder down. So we were sitting up there in that dark bell tower and had to stay up there from nine o'clock in the morning until two o'clock in the evening before they

Page 8

ever come over and put the ladder back. That taught us a lesson.

        AT: You all were married in 1911, is that right?

        JAMES PHARIS: 1911.

        AT: How did you all meet?

        NANNIE PHARIS: In the mill. And at old square dances. (Laughter)

        JAMES PHARIS: That's all the recreation people had back in them days. Different neighbors would have dances at their homes. They'd invite their friends in.

        NANNIE PHARIS: If you wasn't in by nine o'clock you was disgraced. If you wasn't home by nine o'clock you was disgraced for life. If you wore a skirt above your ankles you was disgraced, so you had to wear long dresses.

        AT: When would these be, what nights?

        JAMES PHARIS: On Saturday night.

        NANNIE PHARIS: During the holidays.

        JAMES PHARIS: Just like she said about the association. A girl had a date with a boy. The way they dated back in them days--and everybody done practically the same thing because it was a habit with all of them--they'd date Wednesday night, Saturday night and Sunday evening. Sometimes they'd stay until nine-thirty on Saturday night, being the end of the week. You seen a boy visit a girl on Wednesday night. And they stayed at home, too. Nine o'clock, nine thirty was late bedtime. I've heard remarks made of neighbors, "You know that boy stayed up there last night to see that girl until nearly ten o'clock." That was awful, that was just terrible.

        AT: So you all met at one of these dances?

        JAMES PHARIS: And church, we'd meet in church.

        AT: Would they have musicians?

Page 9

        JAMES PHARIS: Yes, they'd have fiddlers and banjo pickers. Fiddle and banjo was just about all the music that was popular back in them days.

        AT: Would you all know some of the musicians?

        JAMES PHARIS: Oh, yes. Everybody knowed everybody else in a small town.

        NANNIE PHARIS: And he would be with me, you know. I was safe.

        AT: How would that work. Would they stand at the front of the room?

        JAMES PHARIS: They would just get in the room. Houses was built bigger . . . .

        NANNIE PHARIS: Rooms was larger. But they didn't have as many rooms. Maybe three.

        JAMES PHARIS: Everything was company houses. Nobody owned their own home.

        AT: Did you all live in a company house?

        JAMES PHARIS: Oh, yes.

        AT: Even though your father didn't work for the company.

        JAMES PHARIS: He said the kids worked for the company. I remember we paid twenty-five cents a room a week for a house. Later years we lived in a four room house. They finally put in electric lights, then we paid five cents a drop for electricity a week.

        AT: A drop?

        JAMES PHARIS: What they called a drop was a drop down from the ceiling. They called them drops then.

        AT: About when was that?

Page 10

        JAMES PHARIS: 19 . . . .

        NANNIE PHARIS: 1917. It was before the war of 1918.

        JAMES PHARIS: Along about 1915.

        AT: Let's go back to you getting together. How long would you say you courted each other?

        NANNIE PHARIS: About a year.

        AT: What would that be, every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday . . . .

        NANNIE PHARIS: We sang in the choir together at the Christian church. (Interruption)

        JAMES PHARIS: Still up in them days, short hair for a grown woman.

        NANNIE PHARIS: Called them flappers. (Laughter) Give me ten dollars to have my hair cut. When I come home, my son wouldn't even speak to me.

        AT: When did he do that?

        JAMES PHARIS: Along about 1915.

        NANNIE PHARIS: No, later than that. You was disgraced if you had short hair.

        AT: Did you ask each other's parents about getting married?

        JAMES PHARIS: No, we took that on ourself.

        AT: They didn't try to stop . . . .

        JAMES PHARIS: No, they didn't try to stop us.

        AT: What kind of a ceremony did you have. How did that work?

        JAMES PHARIS: The minister married us in the house, in our home.

        NANNIE PHARIS: In my sister's home. I lived in my sister's home. My father and mother lived in the country on a farm.

        AT: Then right after that, did you move into a house or did you go live with one of your families?

        NANNIE PHARIS: We lived just part-time with his family and then we

Page 11

rented a little cottage right in front of where we worked at the mill. That's where we started housekeeping. Believe it or not, I got some things to start housekeeping with. And I've had them a long time. Going to have me a yard sale one of these days.

        JAMES PHARIS: Talking about prices then and now, I remember there was a fellow living in this little three room house was leaving town. We bought everything he had--a three room house right in front of the mill where we worked--we give him thirty-five dollars for everything he had. A cookstove, bed, dressers. Everything he had he sold to us for thirty-five dollars. Of course I had to shake around right smart before I'd get thirty-five dollars.


        AT: Going back to your brothers and sisters and their names, were they named after anybody in particular in the family?

        NANNIE PHARIS: No, I don't think so.

        AT: What about y'alls children, did you name them after anybody?

        NANNIE PHARIS: No.

        JAMES PHARIS: I thought you named Daisy after . . . .

        NANNIE: No, Dr. Tuttle named Daisy after his wife. Wasn't anybody left. Everybody thought she was named for her aunt Daisy. Dr. Tuttle named her for his wife.

        AT: That's the doctor that delivered the baby?

        NANNIE PHARIS: That's right. All three of them.

        AT: Was that O.K. with you that he named . . . .

        JAMES PHARIS: Oh, yeah.

        AT: How were you and your brothers and sisters delivered? Did you have a doctor come?

Page 12

        NANNIE PHARIS: By ourselves.

        JAMES PHARIS: I think we had a doctor there for one of our children.

        NANNIE PHARIS: Oh, yes, we did.

        JAMES PHARIS: Of course, he didn't cost nothing much. He charged us--I never will forget it-- $8.00 for the first one, $10.00 for the next two, and the next one he said he'd have to have $12.00. When he went up to twelve, I said just scratch me off of your list. You going up every time. There won't be no more.

        AT: You said you were a leader of a band in Spray for twenty years and that you all played in two or three different towns right around there Tell me about that.

        JAMES PHARIS: We played for the fairs that come around for just about twenty years.

        AT: Did you play an instrument.

        JAMES PHARIS: Yes, I played a trumpet.

        AT: How did you learn to play the trumpet?

        JAMES PHARIS: We had an instructor the company furnished us in later years after World War I was over. They hired a man to come and teach. The whole town wanted to take part in music.

        AT: Where did he come from?

        JAMES PHARIS: I never did know exactly where he did come from. He was a northerner, I know.

        NANNIE PHARIS: You did know where he come from. I thought it was New Jersey.

        JAMES PHARIS: I never did know.

        AT: He then taught you how to play the trumpet?

Page 13

        JAMES PHARIS: He was the head man. We had what you'd call the North Spray Band. And I was the leader of that.

        AT: And the company paid for that?

        JAMES PHARIS: The company paid him, and they helped us some and would do little favors for us, too. They was mighty nice to us back in them days. They could do a little something for you and you appreciated it so much. He stayed there for probably ten or fifteen years. They had a pretty good band when I left there.

        AT: What would you play?

        JAMES PHARIS: Oh, anything. He got us to play. We'd give concerts, lots of concerts. We went out of town and played some paid concerts.

        AT: Did you learn how to read notes?

        JAMES PHARIS: Oh, yes. I learned how to read music.

        NANNIE PHARIS: [unclear] was a fine teacher. He taught them boys.

        AT: How big of a band was it?

        JAMES PHARIS: We had a full band, I think it was thirty-five or forty. Then we had an orchestra in that band of about twelve, fifteen.

        AT: How many people were working in the mill at that time?

        JAMES PHARIS: There's more people working per job then than there is now. They didn't work you too hard. You'd have spare time. What they call getting rest. People didn't have to work too hard, but they worked long hours.

BEGIN TAPE 1 SIDE 2: December 5, 1978

        AT: Going back to the band for a minute, why did they decide to do that?

Page 14

        JAMES PHARIS: I don't know. They done that to boost the community morale, I guess, the community spirit.

        AT: Were people still having these dancing parties at the houses?

        JAMES PHARIS: Parties on up until the later years, yes.

        NANNIE PHARIS: But the orchestra didn't play for no dances.

        JAMES PHARIS: No, the orchestra, band wouldn't play for no dances. At picnics and stuff like that. Lawn parties used to be awful popular.

        AT: Would any of the people who played for dances in the houses play in the band?

        JAMES PHARIS: No, they was two different kinds of musicians. The people who played for dances played by ear, and we'd play by music.

        AT: Would there be any other differences between those two kinds of musicians?

        JAMES PHARIS: No, nothing more than one just played by ear and the other played by music.

        NANNIE PHARIS: They didn't have any teachers, the string musicians. Violins and banjos was all it was.

        AT: Did they play different songs?

        JAMES PHARIS: The music back in them days was just like your country music is today. They never had no teachers, just self learnt, you know.

        NANNIE PHARIS: Just like them hillbillies in what do you call it, the Grand Ole Opry.

        JAMES PHARIS: It's come into its own in later years, ain't it?

        AT: Did you like one kind of music more than the other kind?

        JAMES PHARIS: No, I used to like band music better than any other kind of music. I didn't particularly care for string music.

        NANNIE PHARIS: I still like that old time picking.

Page 15

        JAMES PHARIS: I don't care too much about it.

        NANNIE PHARIS: I like to watch the Grand Ole Opry. And they were self taught, too.

        AT: You used to like it, though?

        JAMES PHARIS: I used to like band music, I didn't . . . .

        AT: But you went to those dances.

        JAMES PHARIS: I'd just go to the dances to be around the girls.

        AT: You didn't dance?

        JAMES PHARIS: I never did dance, a very little bit. I never did dance enough to learn.

        NANNIE PHARIS: I can see on TV exactly the way I used to dance. I mean I danced. I weighed ninety-eight pounds, and I could get around.

        AT: What kind of dancing would you call it?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Square dance. That started it.

        AT: Did people dance to the band music at all?

        JAMES PHARIS: No. The orchestra music they'd play for dances sometimes. But not very much of it.

        AT: What about these lawn parties, what were they like?

        JAMES PHARIS: They'd just have lawn parties, have ice cream, refreshments, lights up all around, outdoors you know. Invite a bunch of people in. The band played for several lawn parties, lawn parties of any size.

        AT: Who would give them?

        JAMES PHARIS: Churches, mostly.

        NANNIE PHARIS: Aristocrats would give them. B. Frank Mebane and so and so.

        JAMES PHARIS: And churches would give a lot of them, too.

        AT: Who would come?

Page 16

        JAMES PHARIS: Anybody who wanted to get out. That's all you had to do anyway.

        AT: Would you have to dress any special way?

        JAMES PHARIS: No, you wouldn't have to dress up for that. Later on, long about '20 or '23 [unclear] started this new dancing: Charleston and the Big Apple and that type of dancing. That just set the world on fire for several years there.

        NANNIE PHARIS: When we moved to Covington, Virginia my daughter and her girl friends was trying to learn it. They wasn't half doing it, and I went in one night and showed them and they like to fainted. They said, "Mama, I had no idea in the world you ever done that."

        AT: Where would you have done it originally? Would it be at those lawn parties?

        JAMES PHARIS: Not at lawn parties.

        NANNIE PHARIS: We'd all get together . . .

        JAMES PHARIS: At regular dance parties.

        AT: Let me ask you another question about the band. Did you ever go on the radio?

        JAMES PHARIS: Yes, we played on radio not too many times. We played once in Salem and Greensboro. That was the only two that had stations in this part of the country. We played maybe a couple of times each on both of them.

        AT: Do you remember the names of the stations?

        JAMES PHARIS: No I don't. Just Greensboro and Winston-Salem. As far as the numbers, I don't remember.

        AT: Would somebody sponsor you or they would invite you to come on?

        JAMES PHARIS: They'd invite us to come on. We didn't get nothing for it.

        AT: When would that be, what day of the week?

        JAMES PHARIS: No certain day. Whenever they had an opening they'd

Page 17

tell us when to come and we'd go.

        Picnics, we'd play for picnics. And land sales.

        AT: Do you remember any of the tunes, any of the songs you played?

        JAMES PHARIS: We played almost all of Sousa's marches. We played just about all the popular music that was coming out for bands back in those days. We would play overtures. The professor taught us all the fancy. . . These overtures would be very complicated to play and work on them all winter and come out in the spring. We studied the whole winter and come out. The only thing we wanted out of it was somebody's appreciation. We could play them pieces we worked all winter on so hard and get no applause at all and play a little old simple march or a little old simple piece of some kind that had a swing to it, and boy, they'd just go wild. I talked to the professor about it one time, why should we study trying to learn them complicated music when some we could pick it up and play it on sight anytime that they really liked. And that type of music is like today, that country music, got a swing to it, got a beat. That's what the people liked about it.

        AT: And he wanted to teach you all some of these others?

        JAMES PHARIS: He wanted to teach us this classical stuff. None of us cared too much about it.

        AT: What did he ever say when you asked him about it?

        JAMES PHARIS: He said that was the coming music. The only thing it was is to learn that. People would appreciate it in later years. Back in those days I would venture to say ninety percent of the people was uneducated. Nobody went to high school except the upper class, somebody that didn't associate with the other fellows and we didn't associate with them. In later years the working people got into going to high school. My kids, they all finished grade school. I got one working in the bank now. One of my daughters works

Page 18

in a bank down in Rocky Mount. She was educated by special schools after she growed up.

        AT: Did you all have uniforms in this band?

        JAMES PHARIS: Oh yeah, man, we had classy uniforms.

        AT: Would the company help pay for the uniforms?

        JAMES PHARIS: Yeah, they at least made a great donation towards it. The biggest part they paid for. They furnished the big instruments, the expensive instruments.

        AT: What were the instruments you all would have in your band?

        JAMES PHARIS: Well, we'd have a tuba, and a baritone, alto, trombone, cornets, trumpets, drums. We had just about a complete assembly.

        AT: Did the uniforms have anything written on them?

        JAMES PHARIS: No, they just had braids and all that junk.

        AT: Did you ever use them in a parade?

        JAMES PHARIS: Oh, yes sir. We took a big pride in that.

        AT: When would there be parades?

        JAMES PHARIS: Sometimes on the fourth of July, some kind of a special something that the company would want to put on. I remember one time we was parading from Spray to Lynchville, and we got down to a forks of a road. and they made a moving picture. They've got it somewhere now.

         [unclear] I'd hate to see it. I was playing trumpet that day. I took the wrong road, and the band went that-a-way and I . . . .

        NANNIE PHARIS: Well, if you hadn't had a nip . . . .

        AT: Another thing you mentioned when you talked about Alamance County, you told the story about the reputation in Alamance County for rooster fighting.

        JAMES PHARIS: Alamance County used to be known for rooster fighting. I wasn't living there then. I'll tell you the truth, I always hated

Page 19

Alamance County. How come we ever settled down here, I'll never know.

        NANNIE: The company sent you here.

        JAMES: Yeah, they sent me here, but why didn't I leave when I got through?

         [unclear] I remember very distinctly. I had a car and I brought a bunch of fellows one Sunday. We was talking about Alamance County when we was coming down this very road here. At that time there was a high bank out between here and the road, but there was a pretty level lot back in behind. I told them, I says "I wouldn't want to never live in Alamance County, but if I ever did live here I'd want me a home right there, right here where I got this house." And that was twenty years before I ever got it. I built the house.

        NANNIE PHARIS: We spent two years in South America.

        AT: Did you ever go to any of these rooster fights?

        JAMES PHARIS: No, one. I don't think I ever went to but one.

        AT: What was it like?

        JAMES PHARIS: Very exciting, it's too brutal.

        NANNIE PHARIS: We used to tell them up home it was a regular little Chicago. It was bad at the time.

        AT: Would they have the rooster fight here in town?

        JAMES PHARIS: No, sir. Somewhere out in the country. The biggest portion of them. That's where I got on to them. For so many people in Alamance County used to be the chicken fighting place was in Henry County, which is the other side of Rockingham county. People from Burlington and Alamance County would come through Spray going to the chicken fights up in what they called Aiken Summit, up around Axton, Virginia. That's where the biggest part of the fighting was done, but the fighters was all from down in here.

BEGIN TAPE 1 SIDE 1: January 8, 1979

        AT: We can go back and start with your grandparents and see what

Page 20

you could remember and work our way forward from them. First of all, you were born in Henry County, Virginia.

        NANNIE PHARIS: That was near Martinsville, Virginia.

        AT: And you were born in 1892, May the ninth.

        NANNIE PHARIS: That's right.

        AT: Do you remember the names of your grandparents?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Jackson Wilson and grandmother Rhody Wilson, that was my mother's parents. I don't remember much about my father's parents.

        AT: What would have been their names?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Meeks. He was Meeks. Honestly I don't know them. Was my father's name.

        AT: What kind of work did your grandparents do?

        NANNIE PHARIS: My grandfather, Jackson Wilson, was a bootlegger.

        AT: Up in Virginia?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Yes, he made his own, though, down on a creek bank.

        JAMES PHARIS: He wasn't a bootlegger, that was a moonshiner.

        NANNIE PHARIS: That's right, that's what you'd call it. And he made good money. He was kind of cruel, but my grandmother Rhody had the sweetest disposition. That is my mother's father. And my father married twice. He married my mother's sister, Jenny. She died. They was twins, Jenny and Julie. Then he married her twin, Julie, that was my mother. There was thirteen children.

        AT: We could stop a minute at your grandfather, the moonshiner, and talk about him. Do you remember anything much?

        NANNIE PHARIS: I don't remember too much about it. My grandmother didn't approve of it at all. So he stayed away from home most of the time. He had a kind of tent down on this stream of water where he had a still.

Page 21

He made his own brandy and he'd have fruit. He'd make brandy of all flavors. He made good money in that day and time. A dollar went a long way.

        AT: Did he do anything else?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Not that I know of. A little farming occasionally.

        AT: He did this for several years?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Oh, yes, long as I can remember.

        AT: Who would be his customers?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Well, just the farmers surrounding him.

        AT: How would he sell?

        NANNIE PHARIS: They wasn't any law. He could sell it any way he wanted to. Everybody wanted it just went and got it. I don't know what the price was or nothing. But he'd make brandy, peach brandy, apple brandy. People were just crazy about it.

        AT: Did he make any whisky?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Oh, yes. White Lightning they called it.

        AT: Out of corn?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Yes, that's right.

        AT: And your grandmother, she didn't approve of it?

        NANNIE PHARIS: No.

        AT: Did they ever argue about this?

        NANNIE PHARIS: No. My grandmother was an even tempered person. She didn't like it at all but she didn't argue about it. She just let him have his way.

        AT: Did you ever hear any stories about where your family might have come from way on further back?

Page 22

        NANNIE PHARIS: They was born and raised in this country up about in Virginia. I believe it was around Ridgeway, Virginia. My grandfather owned a big farm. [unclear] A lot of land. I still have some ancestors up in there. The Wilsons. Most of them was bootleggers.

        JAMES PHARIS: Back in them days, where you was born, generally that's where you died. You didn't move around much in them days.

        AT: When did he stop moonshining?

        NANNIE PHARIS: When he died. (Laughter) He died with a heart attack.

        AT: When did he die?

        NANNIE PHARIS: I couldn't tell you, good grief, I can remember it very well. I guess I was ten or eleven years old.

        He had an awful disposition. My grandmother was such a sweet and even tempered person. We'll always remember her.

        AT: Do you remember the funeral, or when your grandfather died?

        NANNIE PHARIS: No, not anything about that at all.

        AT: How many children did they have? You can say their names, if you want to.

        NANNIE PHARIS: David, Hubert . . . I can't remember the others. They was all kind of roustabouts.

        AT: Your father's name was then Hughes Meeks. And he married Jenny Wilson. Then what happened to her.

        NANNIE PHARIS: She died in childbirth. And then in about a year he married my mother. They were twins, you know, Jenny and Julie.

        AT: Jenny lived about a year after they were married.

        NANNIE PHARIS: That's right.

Page 23

        AT: How would you reckon that folks would get to meet each other, see each other if they were young, that age, and courting?

        NANNIE PHARIS: (Laughter) I don't know, they'd just meet. Mostly at dances and different places.

        AT: How long was it after your father and mother married that they had their first child?

        NANNIE PHARIS: I think it was about a couple of years?

        AT: And who would that have been, who was the first one?

        NANNIE PHARIS: The first child, Jeff Meeks. The second Elizabeth. About two years apart. Thirteen children.

        AT: You say three of them died . . . .

        NANNIE PHARIS: In infancy.

        AT: What are the stories about those three?

        NANNIE PHARIS: One of them lived just over three days. Another one was kind of retarded, it lived about three years. And the oldest one died with dysentery, I think. I remember the two smallest ones, but I don't remember the one that died with the dysentery.

        AT: How were you in this group of ten, thirteen children? Where did you come?

        NANNIE PHARIS: I was just about the middle one. I only have two brothers that are living. One in Reedsburg, Wisconsin and one in [unclear] . That's all the three left out of the ten.

        AT: Did your mother have a doctor present?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Very seldom. Not unless it was very serious. It was about five miles, maybe a longer distance than that, to get a doctor. It would be too late, you know. She had a midwife with most of us.

        AT: Was it the same midwife everytime?

Page 24

        NANNIE PHARIS: Yes, I do. Aunt Ivy Hosten. These two colored people. Aunt Ivy was the midwife, she lived close by.

        AT: Could you tell me any more about her ? When would somebody get her to come?

        NANNIE PHARIS. Well, in the family, my father mostly would go out.

        AT: And she would come to the house . . . .

        NANNIE PHARIS: And stay maybe three or four days. There was a lot of that in those days. The doctor was a good distance away and it would be impossible to get him before the baby.

        AT: And this woman delivered a lot of babies?

        NANNIE PHARIS: She did, surrounding where we lived.

        AT: You say her sister was a midwife, too?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Yes, there was two of them. I forget her name, though.

        AT: Would you pay them anything?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Not anything, unless you'd give them some vegetables, fresh meat or something like that. Probably they did pay them with some money. I don't remember that much about it.

        AT: Is that how you were delivered too?

        NANNIE PHARIS: I guess so. Yes, most of us were.

        AT: Do you remember being present when any of that was going on?

        NANNIE PHARIS: They'd take us away from home. Them old colored women come and get us and take us to their house.

        AT: How long would you stay at their house?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Until everything was over with. Then they'd take us back. Then they'd spend three or four days with us.

        AT: But you knew what was going on then?

Page 25

        NANNIE PHARIS: I don't think so. We didn't learn much about that in those days.

        JAMES PHARIS: They just left till the stork comes. The stork brought them.

        NANNIE PHARIS: Yes, that's the truth.

        AT: Would they say something like that when they took you away?

        NANNIE PHARIS: They'd take us to their homes and tell us to stay there until they come back for us. Then they'd come and get us and take us after everything was over with. And they'd remain with us probably a week or maybe more, until my mother got on her feet again. Think about giving birth to thirteen children. A pretty rugged life.

        AT: Did she start back into work pretty soon after that?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Yes, she'd commence doing her housework and maybe working in the garden near the house. My mother was awful smart, I thought.

        AT: What kind of other things would she do? Did she sew a lot?

        NANNIE PHARIS: She did a lot of sewing and making comforters. They called them quilts those days. She stayed busy most of the time. She was always awful clean, kept the house so clean. I don't see how she done it, but she did.

        AT: What was your father working at?

        NANNIE PHARIS: He farmed. He raised vegetables, sowing tobacco and different things. Peas and beans, the carrots through the winter. Have a lot of pork, kill pigs, calves, and fix up for the winter. We had a pretty good life, considering.

        AT: Did he have a cash crop?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Sometimes he was just a tenant farmer. Several years

Page 26

before he died they bought him a farm.

        AT: Do you remember moving from one farm to another?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Yes, I do. We didn't have very much to carry.

        AT: You had a lot of helpers to carry.

        NANNIE PHARIS: Yes we did. Good neighbors then, more true than they are nowadays. The neighbors stood by you.

        AT: Do you remember moving more than one time?

        NANNIE PHARIS: I think I remember moving twice. I know I remember moving from the country to, they call it Eden now, it was Leaksville - Spray then. My father didn't like it at all. And he went back to the country.

        AT: Why?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Well, he went back home and he farmed again until he died.

        AT: Do you know why he didn't like the town?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Well he just didn't like the noise and he just didn't like the city, if you could call it a city.

        AT: Did he get him another job?

        NANNIE PHARIS: No, he didn't work. Us children worked. I went to work when I was nine years old.

        AT: Where did you go to work?

        NANNIE PHARIS: At the old Spray Cotton Mill. Twenty-five cents a day. Twenty-five cents then went almost as far as a dollar nowadays.

        AT: Were you the first of the children to go to work?

        NANNIE PHARIS: No, I had some older sisters who worked.

        AT: Where did they go to work, where did they start?

Page 27

        NANNIE PHARIS: They started just about where I did.

        AT: At the cotton mill?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Yes, then we went to work, they called it the Rhode Island Mill. They built that then. We all worked there. That's where me and him worked when we married.

        AT: When you were nine years old and beginning to work, how did you start?

        NANNIE PHARIS: The spinning room, I spun the yarn that made cloth in the shuttles.

        AT: Did someone teach you how to do that?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Oh, yes. I remember her very well. Her name was Hattie McBride. I remember her teaching me. She always spoke well, she'd tell me I was smart, easy to learn. When payday come we was so happy. Get three dollars every two weeks.

        AT: Which day would payday come on?

        NANNIE PHARIS: On a Saturday.

        AT: Would you finish in the middle of the day on Saturday?

        NANNIE PHARIS: A lot of times we'd work until four o'clock. Work twelve hours during the week, that's right. Or was it ten. Twelve hours. I think it was ten hours on Saturday.

        AT: Did you get paid as soon as you went into the mill, or did you have to stay there and learn how to do your job before they began paying you?

        NANNIE PHARIS: I don't think they paid us anything to learn. But after we learnt, we got a job, a machine of our own.

        AT: How long would it take somebody to learn?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Not very long. It didn't me, at least.

Page 28

        AT: How long would that be?

        NANNIE PHARIS: I reckon in about three weeks I'd be able to get on my own on a machine by myself.

        AT: Were there lots of other children working at this mill?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Yes, plenty of them. They was glad to get them. They would come to our home, because there was so many of us. They needed help, hands in the mill. That's how we started. They got our father to move into town and we all went to work. I think I run the first spinning machine in the Rhode Island Mill was ever started up. Work on one side and go on to another.

        AT: The mill was built in 1905?

        NANNIE PHARIS: I run the first spinning machine there that was ever started up. They made blankets there and we'd spin the yarn that made the blankets. Each one that started up, I got to about six machines, and that's as far as I went.

        AT: So all of your family went to work in . . . .

        NANNIE PHARIS: We did, every one of us. We thought we was rich.

        AT: Your father was growing vegetables?

        NANNIE PHARIS: That's right, he was. Raising pork and things like that.

        AT: Did he sell any of that to anyone else?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Oh yes, you could go on the street and sell such as that in those days. But you can't do it now.

        AT: You mean he would put some things in a wagon and . . . .

        NANNIE PHARIS: That's right. A box, or anything, and sell it on the street.

        JAMES PHARIS: You bought your fresh meat off a wagon.

        NANNIE PHARIS: You did, and it was good, too. But they've passed a law

Page 29

that it had to be inspected.

        AT: What sorts of things would your father sell?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Well, he'd sell all kind of vegetables and fryers and eggs and butter and milk and everything. It was good, too. It isn't like it is nowadays.

        AT: Would he have one particular day he'd do that?

        NANNIE PHARIS: No, not no certain days. Maybe Wednesday and Friday, something like that. So the folks would have the stuff for the weekend.

        The neighbors would join one another and help each other, butcher the pigs. They'd help each other, it wouldn't cost either one of them anything. So they'd pack it up on the wagons and help them. If the neighbors needed the same thing done, they'd do the same thing with them.

        AT: Where would he take it to sell?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Bring it on in town, in the street. They called it Spray then, they call it Eden now.

        AT: Who would be the people who would buy from him?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Everybody, be glad to get it. Sometimes they'd gauge it so much for each weekend, and they wouldn't have any trouble selling it. Then we'd have plenty at home.

        AT: Lots of people in the town didn't grow their own?

        NANNIE PHARIS: No, they in the town. It wasn't allowed. Big pens, nothing like that wasn't allowed.

        AT: Was he selling these things to people working in the mill?

        NANNIE PHARIS: That's right. They were glad to get it. All of their meats then were corn fed. They raised their own feed. A whole lot better than it tastes nowadays.

        AT: And by living out of town a bit he could have a farm?

Page 30

        NANNIE PHARIS: We had a farm. That was the last that we owned.

        AT: When you were working in the mill, you said he moved into town for a little bit and then went back out.

        NANNIE PHARIS: He went back but we didn't. It was close enough. Me and my mother used to walk to work, five miles each day, believe it or not. We made it fine, didn't have to pay no board or nothing. I was living with my sister when I married. Because they lived on the farm and I didn't want to live there.

        AT: You didn't want to live on the farm?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Too far to walk. And I was courting them days, you know.

        Well, we've had a good life me and him. Raised three lovely children, I think.

        AT: So you all would be living in town and your father would be out.

        NANNIE PHARIS: My sister and myself, we'd maybe go weekends to visit them.

        AT: What kind of a house did your sister have?

        NANNIE PHARIS: She had a little four room cottage on the street.

        AT: Was it built by the mill?

        NANNIE PHARIS: That's right, it was. I think the rent was about twenty five cents a room a week. A dollar a week rent, I imagine.

        AT: When you are talking about walking the five miles, that's when you all still lived out of town?

        NANNIE PHARIS: When my mother and father lived out of town, yes.

        AT: But when you moved into work in the mill, how many other children were out on the farm?

        NANNIE PHARIS: None, we was all married at that time. Except me, I married while I was living with my sister.

Page 31

        AT: When you all got your paycheck, did you turn it over to your parents?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Oh, yes. We just felt we was rich. First money we ever earned.

        AT: Did they give you an allowance?

        NANNIE PHARIS: We got everything we ever needed.

        AT: Would they give you a certain amount each week?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Maybe fifty cents. We didn't get paid but every two weeks. Six dollars, maybe we'd get a dollar of it. I forget when they went up on the wages. I can't remember all that stuff.

        AT: What would you do when you got your dollar? How would you spend it?

        NANNIE PHARIS: I'd spend it just as quick as I could get to the store. I was thrilled to have that.

        AT: What kind of things would you buy?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Just little -- like candy, chewing gum, something like that. We enjoyed everything, because we hadn't been used to much.

        AT: Did you go on to other jobs in the mill?

        NANNIE PHARIS: No, I stayed in the spinning room all the time I worked.

        AT: How long did you work?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Was it 1930 when they closed the Rhode Island Mill? Then I worked some when we lived in Reidsville--I rode back and forth--1935. I would ride from Reidsville to Eden and worked. I rode with a girl. That was the last work I done.

        AT: You started working in 1901 or 1902 when you were nine years old, and then worked until about 1930.

        NANNIE PHARIS: That's right, 1930 in one place.

        AT: What do you remember about the working conditions in that mill?

Page 32

        NANNIE PHARIS: They was pretty good, the overseers and supervisors. Real good, kind to you.

        AT: Did you get tired working those hours?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Sometimes. I didn't weigh but eighty-nine pounds, you see, and I could get about. I don't think I ever got very tired.

        AT: Would there be ways you would rest during the day?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Yes, if you caught up and didn't have nothing to do you could sit down a few minutes and watch your work.

        AT: What would you do when you had a few minutes to sit down? Would you talk to somebody else?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Yes, we'd talk to one another. Maybe one in the next alley to me. They wasn't very strict. They looked after us, I think, real well.

        AT: Would you have a chance to eat?

        NANNIE PHARIS: We got an hour for lunch.

        AT: Where would you go for lunch?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Go home, because we lived close enough to go to the house. Was a pink bean sandwich be all we'd have. That's the truth, I ain't lying. Sometimes something better.

        AT: A pink bean sandwich? How would you make that?

        NANNIE PHARIS: They'd be made when we got there. One of them would be there to have it ready. We'd eat together.

        JAMES PHARIS: Tell him how many different ways you learned to cook fat back meat.

        NANNIE PHARIS: Wasn't no fat back meat then, those days. You mean batter it, fat back meat. That would make good gravy, milk gravy.

        AT: When are you talking about?

Page 33

        NANNIE PHARIS: That was after we was married.

        AT: Let's go back to the pink bean sandwich.

        NANNIE PHARIS: The pink beans was real good. A whole lot better than the pintos. They took the place, you know. Maybe we'd have an apple to eat, a fruit.

        AT: Did people grow pink beans around?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Yes, they did.

        AT: They don't seem to grow pintos.

        NANNIE PHARIS: Not around here, no.

        AT: Did your father grow these pink beans?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Sometimes, occasionally. Not very many, but he did enough to do us. He growed black-eyed peas, white beans. My mother would make churns of kraut to last us through the winter. They had ways then.

        AT: To make a pink bean sandwich, how would you do that?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Mash them and put it between bread, biscuit. Didn't have light bread unless you bought it whole and sliced it yourself. Very seldom ever saw any, what they called light bread them days. We used to bake it.

        AT: So you'd make these on biscuits?

        NANNIE PHARIS: That's right, make it on biscuits. When I was growing up my father would take his wheat and corn to a gristmill and have it ground. That was good bread. Had a good taste.

        JAMES PHARIS: Most everybody in them days canned enough stuff and put away enough stuff that they raised in the summer to take care of them through the winter.

        NANNIE PHARIS: Wasn't any canning much done in them days. We'd dry apples and things like that. Enough to do us. Make kraut.

Page 34

        AT: Your mother and father dried apples.

        NANNIE PHARIS: That's right. Peaches.

        AT: What were some other things they were growing in their garden?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Well, they grow about everything. Cabbage. Lots of potatoes, sweet potatoes, Irish potatoes. Lots of tomatoes, squash, string beans, watermelons, canteloupes, most everything you could mention, they had it.

        AT: How much land were they using?

        NANNIE PHARIS: I forget how many acres they had. Enough to keep them busy.

        AT: Would they grow tobacco on some of it?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Yes, some of it. They'd have a certain allotment for tobacco.

        AT: Do you remember any of the name of watermelons, any of them?

        NANNIE PHARIS: In the canteloupe line, had some cue melons was awful good. Long. They was delicious. I forget the other names.

        AT: Any particular kind of tomatoes you remember the names of?

        NANNIE PHARIS: June Pinks.

        AT: What kind of apples would you have?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Vine apples, and greenskins.

BEGIN TAPE 1, SIDE 2: January 8, 1979.

        AT: So apples and then cherry trees.

        NANNIE PHARIS: There was three different kinds of cherry trees. They called one of them a "blackheart" cherry. It was dark. And then they had one called a "sugar cherry." That was kind of pale pink. And then the sour amarella [unclear] . That's what I have in the backyard now. We had all those. Plums.

Page 35

        AT: Did your father set out these cherry trees?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Yes. The neighbors would exchange these little trees with one another. That's how he got them. He didn't buy them.

        AT: Did you do different things with the different cherries?

        NANNIE PHARIS: We'd make preserves, about all.

        AT: Would one kind of cherry make a better preserve?

        NANNIE PHARIS: The sour amarella made the best preserves and pies, too. I got plenty of them in the back yard now. The pale reds, they were better to eat. And the blackhearts, they didn't have much flavor. They went out of existence. I haven't seen one in years and years. But you can buy sweet cherries in the market now. But I like the sour amarellas.

        AT: Who did the cooking around your house?

        NANNIE PHARIS: My mother, and the girls that was old enough to help.

        AT: Would your father ever do any cooking, or dishwashing?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Oh no. I never did know of it, if he did. I don't think so.

        AT: Did your mother ever work out in the garden?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Yes, she had a garden special near the house where she could work and tend it.

        AT: Did she grow different things?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Yes, vegetables of all kinds. Sweet peas. Squash and things like that.

        AT: Would her garden have different things in it than his?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Well, she wanted it near home where she could work it. So my daddy could raise corn and potatoes on the other.

        AT: Did she grow any herbs?

Page 36

        NANNIE PHARIS: Sage, yes she grew some sage is all I remember.

        AT: What would she use it for?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Put it in sausages and different things.

        AT: Did she ever make any home remedies for when you were sick?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Used to have rat's bane tea. She'd go out to the woods, get that and make teas and give it to us for certain ailments. But I forgot what they were.

        AT: Do you remember any other things like that?

        NANNIE PHARIS: No, I don't. But there was some. I wish I could remember.

        AT: Do you remember you or any of your other brothers and sisters being sick when you were a child?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Yes, had those contagious diseases like measles, whooping cough, things like that. A pretty rough time of it when we had the whooping cough, so many of us. The people who lived nearby helped a lot. Kind of well-to-do people.

        AT: Was there anything they could give you?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Just make all kind of cough syrups, things like that. Make it out of sugar, homemade molasses. That's another thing we raised, too, sorghum.

        AT: Did your father make the molasses?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Yes, he used to make molasses. They'd all get the machine together and make this syrup.

        AT: The neighbors?

        NANNIE PHARIS: That's right. A certain person would own the machine that made it. They'd help each other, you know. I wish I had some of it right now.

Page 37

        AT: The person who owned the machine, would they give him some of it?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Well, they paid him so much for his rounds. It just happened once a year, you know.

        AT: What time of day, when you were living with your mother and father, would you get up in the morning?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Pretty early. Long before daylight. About daylight time they'd work and they'd work sometimes until dark. To get the crop so it would be O.K.

        AT: Would you all have breakfast together?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Yes, we all had breakfast together. Imagine, twelve at a table.

        AT: What did you have?

        NANNIE PHARIS: We had sausages and eggs and most anything we wanted.

        AT: Biscuits.

        NANNIE PHARIS: Because we raised it. Yes.

        AT: Grits?

        NANNIE PHARIS: No, we didn't have no grits. They hadn't come in style then.

        AT: Did you ever have potatoes for breakfast?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Yes, we used to have fried potatoes. They didn't call them french fries then. They just fried the potatoes.

        AT: Would they cut them real thin?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Pretty thin, not too thin. Not like they are nowadays. Everything tasted awful good.

        AT: And you raised the meat that went into your own sausage.

        NANNIE PHARIS: Yes, that's right.

Page 38

        AT: Who would make the sausage?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Now that's a good question. One of the farmers would have a sausage mill. And they'd probably go there, to another farmer to make the sausage. And they'd work together, you know, each one. I wish I had some of that.

        AT: When you sat down at the table, did you have a particular way that you sat every time?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Yes, we had a certain seat we had everytime. We'd pass one another the things on the table, each dish.

        AT: Where did your mother and father sit?

        NANNIE PHARIS: One at the foot and one at the head of the table?

        AT: Who sat where? Which one sat at the head of the table?

        NANNIE PHARIS: My daddy.

        AT: Would you all wait until they sat down to start?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Yes, we'd wait. And we'd all go to eating and passing the dishes.

        AT: Did they ever say a blessing?

        NANNIE PHARIS: No, that wasn't stylish then, in those days, either. My mother was a real Christian woman. My father wasn't much on the line.

        AT: What about manners at the table?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Very quiet. Wasn't no fussing and quarreling.

        AT: Did people wait until things were passed around?

        NANNIE PHARIS: That's right. Before we'd all begin to eat.

        AT: What would happen if somebody would cut up at the table?

        NANNIE PHARIS: I don't remember that ever happening. But if it had, they'd been corrected, I think.

        AT: Who did the correcting?

Page 39

        NANNIE PHARIS: My father mostly. At the table, things like that. He'd just tell us to be quiet. That meant that.

        AT: Did he ever whip?

        NANNIE PHARIS: No, oh no. Neither one of them ever did whip us. Because they'd always talk to us.

        AT: Among all those children, how many were boys and how many were girls?

        NANNIE PHARIS: There was six boys and seven girls. Two of the little boys died and one of the little girls died in infancy.

        AT: And they were able to keep the boys in line without whipping?

        NANNIE PHARIS: That's right. Never was no disturbance like that in the family Never.

        AT: That's kind of unusual, isn't it?

        NANNIE PHARIS. Yes, it is, it sure is.

        AT: How were they able to do that?

        NANNIE PHARIS: I don't know. Just live like that, I guess.

        JAMES PHARIS: Back in them days the daddy was the boss. You always listened to them.

        AT: Usually you hear about them having to get out their belt every now and then.

        NANNIE PHARIS: Oh, no, nothing like that ever happened in my home.

        JAMES PHARIS: It happened in mine.

        NANNIE PHARIS: My mother was a gentle woman. She'd scold us, make us think she was going to tear us to pieces, but that would be all.

        AT: What are some of the worst things you remember doing as a little girl?

        NANNIE PHARIS: I don't remember anything. We just lived quietly. All begin to marry off.

Page 40

        AT: You all would help around the house?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Oh, yes, we helped a lot around the house.

        AT: You couldn't have done much if you went to work at nine years old.

        NANNIE PHARIS: That's right, too. My mother had a hard time raising those ten children. You can imagine cooking for twelve people three times a day.

        AT: Would any of the meals be bigger or more special than any of the other meals in the day?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Sometimes, with what we had in the garden and the meat we had cured. She was a wonderful cook. I got a few of her habits in the cooking line, so they tell me.

        AT: What were some of the things she could cook well?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Sweet potato cobbler was the best dessert I ever remember her making. She used to cook some awful good roasts of pork tenderloin, cut it with a fork it would be so tender.

        JAMES PHARIS: She had four or five ways of frying fat back meat.

        NANNIE PHARIS: My mother never did have no fat back meat. Oh, you remember when I went to cooking for you.

        AT: What about the sweet potato pie?

        NANNIE PHARIS: She used butter and sugar and ginger. But the potatoes would be floating in that syrup. It would be awfully good, the potatoes all soft. I couldn't ever do it. She'd bake it in a huge iron pan. We had a great big wooden stove, and she'd put it in the oven.

        AT: Did it have a crust?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Yeah a bottom crust and maybe two or three little crusties that they browned on top. I imagine it would be good, don't you.

Page 41

        AT: Did she mash up the sweet potatoes?

        NANNIE PHARIS: No, sliced them real thin. They stayed whole slices.

        AT: Is that something you learned to try to cook?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Yes, I cooked it several times. Not here of late though, because I ain't able hardly to stand up to bake those pies and things.

        JAMES PHARIS: Wasn't many people in them days growed up and didn't know how to cook. That's one thing different from what it is now.

        AT: Do you remember any other particular things that she cooked well?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Most everything she cooked tasted good to me.

        AT: Are there some kind of special dishes people don't eat any more?

        NANNIE PHARIS: She could make wonderful chicken dumplings. White chicken breasts and those dumplings, and they'd be perfect. I can't do it. I tried it, so I did Sunday, but it didn't work.

        AT: Did she make Irish potato dumplings, too?

        NANNIE PHARIS: She used to boil Irish potatoes when they first came in. Little small potatoes. And little English peas. And she'd put dumplings in there. Anything to stretch a meal for the family.

        AT: She wouldn't put them inside the dumplings?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Just mix it together. Cook the peas and potatoes in a soup. Then put the dumplings in on top.

        AT: That's the way she would do the chicken, too?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Oh, no. She didn't use a chicken for that. It was new potatoes and peas and dumplings. That was good. The little new English peas and small white potatoes.

        AT: What time of day would you eat breakfast?

Page 42

        NANNIE PHARIS: Oh, about seven o'clock. My daddy, maybe he'd gone out and worked an hour while my mother prepared breakfast. Then he'd come in and we'd all eat together about seven o'clock.

        AT: Did you have any animals you had to look after, cows or chickens?

        NANNIE PHARIS: We had plenty of chickens, and guineas, some turkeys. Most everything you could mention.

        AT: What use did you have of the guineas?

        NANNIE PHARIS: I don't know what we kept them for. To sing, mostly, I think. They layed the brown speckled eggs. They'd go off and hide and lay those eggs. It would take you a long time to locate those nests.

        AT: Were the eggs good to eat?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Yes, we eat those. Rich eggs. More richer than a hen egg.

        JAMES PHARIS: That's one thing about a guinea, they'll hide the nest.

        NANNIE PHARIS: We'd find sometimes as many as twenty-five eggs in one nest. They were beautiful, too. The guineas was pretty.

        AT: I've heard they can warn you if . . . .

        NANNIE PHARIS: Yes, sir, make a noise if they hear anything. That's mostly why we kept them. We thought a lot of those guineas.

        AT: Did you have any cows to milk?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Oh, yes, my mother used to sell buttermilk and butter, that good old country butter, you know, churn it.

        AT: Who would milk those, whose job was that?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Hers. Until we grew up to help.

        AT: When you all were going to work in the mill would you also have to get up early and do jobs before you went to the mill?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Yes, I'd get up and do jobs before I went to work.

Page 43

        AT: What kind of things would you do?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Probably rinse out a few clothes. Spread my bed. She taught us that.

        AT: Did you ever hire anyone to do any washing?

        NANNIE PHARIS: (Laughter) Are you kidding? Ironing, I'd do that when I got out of work.

        AT: What would be the biggest meal of the whole week?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Sunday dinner, I think.

        AT: What would that be like?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Oh, it would be good chicken, maybe fried or chicken and dumplings, or maybe baked. Ham or something like that. You know the people raised their own stuff then. It was all good. Before they'd kill the hen, they'd take it and put it in the coop and keep it about a week. We enjoyed all of it.

        AT: Did you ever have more than one kind of meat on Sunday dinner?

        NANNIE PHARIS: If we wanted it specially. Some of them didn't like fried chicken, they'd get a piece of ham, something like that. All kind of vegetables.

        AT: When would you most likely have guests to eat with you?

        NANNIE PHARIS: A lot of people would come in unexpected, and they'd be welcome to sit down and eat with us. That was the way they done in those days. They didn't give you warning they were coming. But we had enough to divide with them.

        AT: It must have been a pretty big table to have all that.

        NANNIE PHARIS: You ain't kidding. Yes it was, and I enjoyed it all. That's dreams to look back on. Get this old you kind of live in the past.

Page 44

You don't know it, but you might hope you do.

        AT: What kind of plates and dishes did you all have to eat off of?

        NANNIE PHARIS: China, like it is now. It wasn't as fine. The plates would be kind of heavy, made out of earthen ware, they called it.

        AT: Did the children drink coffee?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Mostly milk. Coffee wasn't but a dime a pound. You'd buy it green. You'd have to parch it. You'd have to have your little coffee mill and grind your coffee. That was the way it was them days.

        JAMES PHARIS: But, boy, when you got your coffee, you had coffee!

        AT: What other things would you have to buy besides coffee?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Sugar, kerosene to put in the lamps. Several things. Sugar, mostly we'd have to buy that. At preserving time.

        AT: What time of day would you have your dinner?

        NANNIE PHARIS: About twelve noon.

        AT: And suppertime, when would you have it?

        NANNIE PHARIS: On a Sunday, we'd snack. We didn't have no special meal on a Sunday. But we had three meals a day during the weekdays. Breakfast dinner and supper.

        AT: And supper would be at what time?

        NANNIE PHARIS: About six o'clock.

        AT: Why didn't you have your three meals on Sunday?

        NANNIE PHARIS: We'd snack. We'd have enough for dinner to snack on at night, in the evening. That was some good eating.

        AT: Did they preserve a lot of things in cans?

        NANNIE PHARIS: In stone jars, mostly then. The glass canning jars hadn't come in when I was growing up.

Page 45

        AT: Would people use real metal cans?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Stone jars. They'd have a tight lid on them. My mother used to pack sausage in them stone jars. We'd get ice off of the river, enough to last us during the summer. And we'd put these jars where they'd keep cool. And it was just as good as it could be.

        AT: Where would you put them?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Where we put the ice and packed it. Have a cave dug and fill it full of ice. Take it out and use it when we wanted to.

        AT: Ice, could you keep it two or three months?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Oh, it would stay most of the summer. We'd try to get enough to do us the summer.

        JAMES PHARIS: Back in them days ice froze that thick.

        NANNIE PHARIS: See, you'd get it off of the river and it would be six or seven inches thick. How you would see them haul it. To get it out you'd have to rinse the dirt off it. Packed straw. That's old time living.

        AT: You could put most anything in these stoneware . . . .

        NANNIE PHARIS: Yes, you could. Make all kind of preserves and pack them there. We'd have to keep them on ice because they be preserved in the sugar and the syrup, you know.

        AT: What size of containers would these things be?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Different sizes. Some of them would be five gallon churns. My daughter's got one now.

        AT: Would you put five gallons worth of preserves in them?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Yes. A big family that wouldn't go very far. There was a sweet apple that didn't come apart when you preserved it. It used to make awful good preserves, and we'd make an awful lot of those.

Page 46

And peaches. They wasn't as numerous then as they are nowadays. Peaches was very scarce. Had a lot of plums. Blackberries. Had these old time fields of strawberries. You'd go out in the field and pick those strawberries.

        AT: When do you remember the glass jars starting?

        NANNIE PHARIS: I reckon it was right after we married. I don't know exactly. I was housekeeping and I'd can stuff in it and it would spoil because they didn't have the tight lids they had nowadays. But they grew to that, and I done a lot of canning.

        AT: How would you can when you first began using the glass jars?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Well, we'd seal them. Two pieces, a rubber ring to put around the jar and then you'd screw a zinc top on it as tight as you could get it. But there wasn't no boiling in the can them days, but there is now. I've got a canner out there now that I've used for fifteen or twenty years, that you process it in the jars. But they didn't have that them days. Some of the vegetables would keep very well and some would spoil. So we had to take our chances. They were right green, they wasn't clear like they are nowadays.

        AT: Where would you buy your stone containers?

        NANNIE PHARIS: I don't know where my mother and father got those. They had a place they made them.

        AT: A pottery?

        NANNIE PHARIS: [unclear] . People had things to work with then. They was smart but they didn't have too much to do with.

        AT: So you think the jars would be bought from a potter?

        NANNIE PHARIS: I don't know where they come from. They must have been made like that. My daughter has one that I had fifty years.

        AT: When you started buying your glass jars, where would you buy those?

Page 47

        NANNIE PHARIS: At the grocery store.

        AT: It would just be like a regular general store, a grocery store.

        NANNIE PHARIS: That's right. They kept all kind of pottery, jars, and frying pans and things like that.

        AT: Let's go on ahead to when you began working in the mill. Who would do the cooking then, when you were living with your sister and working?

        NANNIE PHARIS: When I was living with my sister, she wasn't working at the time. She was keeping house. And she done all my laundry and things like that. I paid board, five dollars I think, a month.

        AT: Who would do the cooking, would she cook?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Yeah, she cooked all the time. Did all the cooking. She was a wonderful cook, too. She taught me a lot.

        AT: Did your mother teach you how to do other things, sewing?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Yes, she'd teach us everything about cooking and sewing and housekeeping and housecleaning and laundry and everything. She was smart.

        AT: What kind of rules did your parents have about going out?

        NANNIE PHARIS: We didn't go out very much. I'd go to these square dances, and my daddy, he played the banjo. He'd go with us. If you was out until after nine o'clock you was disgraced. But as long as we had one of the relatives with us, we was O.K. But we had to be in by nine. And if you wore a dress where your ankles showed, you was disgraced. Nowadays how different it is. We had to wear long skirts. They did their own weaving in those days. Take green walnuts and make stain and dye the white material.

        AT: What color would that be?

        NANNIE PHARIS: It would be kind of green. It would be just off white anyways. It wouldn't be so white. They had looms and make different things like cloth. That's the way it begin. A lot of the old folks are gone and there

Page 48

will never be any more like them.

        AT: Did you all go to church as children?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Yes, we went to church. We'd go with our mother. She was a Primitive Baptist. I remember sitting in there, the preacher would preach three or four hours, the seats would be hard, and I'd hurt.

        AT: Would your father ever go?

        NANNIE PHARIS: No.

        AT: Why not?

        NANNIE PHARIS: He wasn't the religious type. Sometimes when he got down sick he talked right much about it. I think he reformed and did believe. That's the first thing I done when my children was born and could understand, I taught them to believe. I noticed him in his last days, that he did change a lot. My mother was a Christian from the time I remember. I've seen her kneel down and cross her hands and say a prayer many a time when one of the little ones would be sick.

        AT: Would she take you all to church every Sunday?

        NANNIE PHARIS: All of us that was large enough to go and behave and sit still. That Primitive Baptist, it commenced about ten o'clock and last until about four. And the benches was homemade. You can imagine how hard they was. They made them out of logs. But we stayed with her. So I believed just like she did. We grew up like that.

        JAMES PHARIS: Not a one of them turned out to be a Primitive Baptist when they growed up, did they?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Yes, Isabelle. She belonged to the same church, Goodwill, that my mother did.

Page 49

        AT: This preacher you remember as a child. Did they say things about how people ought to behave, like you were talking about dresses and hair?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Sure. And if you believed in any other denomination they'd drive them through the ground. But they don't do that anymore. You was lost if you wasn't a Primitive Baptist. That's kind of like the Catholic. You didn't pay your preacher. If they got sick or anything you'd donate so much food and stuff like that and go see him.

        AT: Do you remember any people being called before the church for misbehaving?

        NANNIE PHARIS: No, not in the Primitive Baptist. But in the Christian Church there was. I used to sing in the choir in that little church. The minister married us in that Christian Church. They call it Eden now.

        There was accused for adultery or something, a member of the church. That kind of got to me, made me think.

        AT: Did the people themselves have to come before the congregation?

        NANNIE PHARIS: They did it. That was a long time ago. I don't think they do it anymore.

        AT: Did they have to admit what they had done?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Confess, yes.

BEGIN TAPE 2, SIDE 1: January 8, 1979

        AT: You mentioned you used to go to these dances and your father played the banjo. Do you remember any of the tunes or the things he played?

        NANNIE PHARIS: No, I don't think so. In fact, they didn't hardly have any tunes if you asked me. They'd just plunk and we'd dance. That's where me and him met, at one of the old Virginia Reels. Square dancing.

Page 50

        AT: Was it at somebody's house?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Yes, it would be at a neighbor's house. We sure enjoyed that dancing.

        AT: What did the Primitive Baptist ministers think about dancing?

        NANNIE PHARIS: I never heard much about that now. I think it was O.K. That kind of dancing. You didn't hug up like you do nowadays. You swing your partner and that was it, as far as the touching goes. I think that disco now, you don't touch with that.

        JAMES PHARIS: She's got a brother used to make guitars.

        NANNIE PHARIS: And banjos. Clocks, grandfather clocks.

        JAMES PHARIS: He made some of the finest banjos. He sold several of those banjos . . . .

        NANNIE PHARIS: To famous musicians.

        AT: Does he still make them?

        NANNIE PHARIS: I think he makes clocks mostly now. These high grandfather clocks. That over there is a radio in that clock. We've had that fifty years.

        AT: Did your father ever make any instruments?

        NANNIE PHARIS: But he's pretty good at carpentry and he didn't have much to work with in those days, like my brother. He can get anything now to work with and make those things.

        AT: When would he play his banjo besides the dances? Would he ever play at home?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Yes, he'd plunk it at home a lot for us kids. Anytime he was there. If he had a drink, then he'd really play it. (Laughter)

        AT: He never did learn how to do moonshining, did he?

Page 51

        NANNIE PHARIS: No, he never did do that.

        AT: Where would you go to get a drink?

        NANNIE PHARIS: I don't know, but it was floating as free as water. You could get it most anywhere. There wasn't any law then against that stuff.

        AT: What time of day would you all go to sleep at night?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Sometimes just about dark. Because you didn't have any electric lights and you didn't have anything to sit up for. Unless sit by the fire and we didn't have anything to talk about because we done talked it out in the daytime.

        JAMES PHARIS: Nine o'clock was a late bedtime.

        NANNIE PHARIS: And if you were out after nine o'clock you were disgraced, because you been where you shouldn't have been. But we never did go out like that. We had near neighbors that would sometimes, help out in case of sickness, death or something like that.

        AT: Would you ever sit around at night and do any kind of work?

        NANNIE PHARIS: No, not hardly ever. Some of my sisters was smart at that, crocheting and that. My mother used to crochet, embroidery.

        AT: Would there be special kinds of events, cornshuckings?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Yes, we'd have cornshuckings and the whole shabang would get drunk.

        AT: How would you go about having one of those?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Well, they'd invite the farmers in and my mother would prepare the supper. Sometimes they'd get so boozed that they couldn't even shuck the corn. And they'd quit.

        JAMES PHARIS: I was invited to a cornshucking one night, and the old man was as tight as he could be. He said we'd shuck corn to the liquor, shuck corn

Page 52

down until we got to the liquor. He put that liquor right in the bottom of that cornpile. We had all the corn shucked before we got any liquor at all.

        NANNIE PHARIS: Then if they got boozed they went home, cause they drinked it all up right away when they got down that low, because they worked hard for it.

        AT: What time of day would that start?

        NANNIE PHARIS: In the morning, sometimes. I don't really know. Anyway, they'd have dinner. And if they was late getting through they'd have supper.

        AT: Your mother would have to cook for all these people?

        NANNIE PHARIS: All of us would help fix it.

        AT: Would any of the neighbor women help?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Sometimes we'd go all in together for those cornshuckings and wheat thrashings.

        AT: Did the men just shuck the corn, or the women too?

        NANNIE PHARIS: I know women didn't shuck the corn. Only the fresh corn, the green corn. The men would shuck the dry corn.

        AT: And the women would be making the meal?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Yes, that's right. And they'd have the wheat thrashings, and we'd fix dinner then.

        JAMES PHARIS: You didn't have a dance until it was all over. Until it got dark.

        AT: When would a wheat thrashing take place? What time of year?

        NANNIE PHARIS: When the wheat got ripe, about July or August. You know we had to raise everything like that, wheat and corn and oats to feed the stock.

        AT: What would a wheat thrashing be like?

        NANNIE PHARIS: I really couldn't hardly tell you. Thrash your grain and get it clean. Then you could have it ground.

Page 53

There was a [unclear] . That's a good question about that wheat thrashing machine.

        AT: What would you have been doing while the wheat thrashing was going on?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Oh just looking and watching around. I wasn't large enough to be interested in things like that.

        AT: Do you remember playing any kind of games when you were little?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Nothing but hop scotch. We never did play any games. When we were very small we children would have get togethers with the neighbors and we'd play in the yard. Wasn't any games then like there are now. We was all happy. We didn't have anything, so we didn't know what to wish for and long for. Happier than most people nowadays.

        AT: Let's go back to working in the mill and you all meeting at this dance. How long after that did you get married? How long did you know each other before you got married?

        NANNIE PHARIS: About a year I reckon.

        AT: Did your parents have anything to say about that?

        NANNIE PHARIS: My parents lived in the country. They didn't know I was married until after we were married I told them. His people lived nearby in the town.

        AT: Did they know about it before?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Yes, they knew about it. We lived with them a while after we were married until we got some furniture and a little house down in front of the mill, to go to housekeeping. A little three room house. We bought that furniture for thirty-five dollars, for the house and all the furnishings. Not the house--we had to pay twenty-five cents a room rent on that.

        AT: Where did you get married?

        NANNIE PHARIS: At my sister's home.

Page 54

        AT: Was there a preacher?

        NANNIE PHARIS: The preacher of our little church married us.

        AT: What kind of church would that have been?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Christian Church.

        AT: You changed then from the Primitive Baptist.

        NANNIE PHARIS: I never did belong to the Primitive Baptist church.

        AT: When did you begin going to the Christian church?

        NANNIE PHARIS: I was going to that little church before I got grown. I went around and made up money to pay for having that church expanded, having a little built to it. I went to that church years and years until we moved to Burlington. And the preacher married us, Preacher Aldridge [unclear] . I named a son after him.

        AT: What's his name?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Clement. And my son's name is Percy Clement. He give him some little socks and little shoes when he was born. About sixteen months after we were married they left. I think they moved to Alamance County.

        AT: That was your first child?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Yes, my son. And then I had a daughter in 1915. And then my last daughter, baby daughter, was born in 1919.

        AT: Did you quit working at the mill?

        NANNIE PHARIS: I hired a cook to take care of the children and worked. He bought automobiles. Jitneys, Model T's. I worked, I didn't leave my children until they got a pretty good size. Reliable old colored woman looked after them.

        AT: In other words, you kept working in the mill?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Yes I did, off and on. Let the children get so old and then I'd go back to work.

Page 55

        AT: When did you stop before you had your first child?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Just before he was born.

        AT: Within a month or so?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Maybe six months before.

        AT: How long did you stay off of work before you went back?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Well, about a year maybe.

        AT: When you went back, you say you had a woman to look after?

        NANNIE PHARIS: A colored woman to look after her. His mother looked after my son for a while while I went to work. There is almost five years difference in my daughters' ages.

        AT: While you were working in the mill and had children, who would do the cooking and housework?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Me! When I got out of work I'd cook supper and do the washing and bring in the coal to put in the stove. I worked hard but I enjoyed every minute of it.

        AT: Do you remember this flu epidemic back in 1918?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Oh, yes. I lost one sister.

        AT: Did you get it, either of you?

        NANNIE PHARIS: No, I didn't take it. The doctor told us to eat onions and drink whiskey. I didn't do that, though. I ate onions.

        JAMES PHARIS: And wear asafetida, did you ever hear of asafetida?

        NANNIE PHARIS: I wouldn't have none in the house. That's the stinkingest stuff I ever smelled. Go to wash your shirts and smell it on the collar. They said you could avoid contagious diseases by wearing that stuff.

        JAMES PHARIS: Well, we didn't have it and we done O.K.

Page 56

        NANNIE PHARIS: When I went into the house, they called me that morning. She had a little baby in the casket. I went in and it was a little girl. She already had a little girl two years old. She wasn't but twenty-two herself, married young. I walked in and the doctor done something like that on my nose and he told me not to drink after her and not to sit in the room much. When I walked in her room, she knew everything. She said "Nannie, did you see my little baby?" Yes, I did. She says, "Oh, it would have broke my heart, just killed me if it had been a little boy." She wanted a little boy. That was the last thing she ever said. He come in and give her a shot. You had to give them a shot, they'd have spasms before they'd die. She stayed quiet until she died. Most of them had to hold them on the bed. Along towards the last they had these shots they could give. Kind of paralyzed them. That's what he said.

        JAMES PHARIS: That epidemic happened in the worst part of Prohibition.

        NANNIE PHARIS: World War I.

        JAMES PHARIS: Prohibition was the strictest thing. You couldn't hardly get liquor under no circumstances right at that time. Doctors was all worried to death that people dying everywhere. He says, "We don't know what to do. The only thing I can tell you to do, if you can get any whiskey, get it and drink it. That's the only thing that we know what to do."

        NANNIE PHARIS: That was happening in World War I. And they was hauling soldiers in trucks, by the truckload, to take them and bury them and take care of them. That's where it started, in camp, in the army.

        AT: Did you lose any other relatives?

        NANNIE PHARIS: I lost several aunts and cousins.

        AT: What did people think of all that?

Page 57

        NANNIE PHARIS: Well, I'll tell you. Every woman that was pregnant died that taken that flu, that influenza. I had a sister-in-law die, and my sister died. And then I had several cousins die.

        JAMES PHARIS: Another thing about it: people that die, the very stoutest of people. We had a fireman at the place I worked. I used to go out to the boilerroom and smoke a cigarette. Me and him were pretty good friends. One day I went out there and they said he was sick. And I went out the next day and they said he was dead. They died just that quick with it.

        NANNIE PHARIS: And the man across the street did the same thing with it. Died overnight. Walking around in his yard the day before.

        AT: People must have been pretty afraid.

        JAMES PHARIS: People were scared to death then.

        NANNIE PHARIS: We was just a nervous wreck. It was a terrible time.

        JAMES PHARIS: Whole families would get down with it and you couldn't get nobody to go there and wait on them. Hard to get anybody to go. My daddy went and took care of a family somewhere. I don't think he ever taken it, though.

        NANNIE PHARIS: A lot of folks got over it, they didn't die. Every woman who was pregnant who taken that, died. Every one. And if you had any kind of disease, heart disease, and taken it, they didn't get over it. They died. I mean they was laying out dead. Undertakers. That was a horrible time.

        JAMES PHARIS: Sometimes they'd get up, walking around, and drop dead.

        NANNIE PHARIS: Yes. Well, it sure did thin out the population at that time.

        JAMES PHARIS: I never did hear how many people died of that in the United States.

        NANNIE PHARIS: Thousands in camps in the army died with it. That was the most pathetic thing. It started in the camps. Haul the soldiers out by

Page 58

the truckload. I don't know what they done with them.

        JAMES PHARIS: Right after they fought a war, went into that.

        AT: Did they have any special rules around here about going places, traveling? Did businesses close up for a while?

        NANNIE PHARIS: No, the businesses didn't close up. But they advised you not to visit these people that had it because it was contagious.

        AT: Did the mill close?

        NANNIE PHARIS: No, the mill didn't close. Because they come after me while I was working and told me my sister was seriously ill and the doctor called them and said there wasn't no chance for them. My sister had just got out of the hospital. So I got off of work and went and stayed with her until she died. That was a heartbreaking thing. The circle was broken then in the family.

        AT: What about some things you remember about going to school? Did you go to school much?

        NANNIE PHARIS: I didn't go very much in the little log cabin school you hear about so much nowadays. A little stove to heat it. Walk maybe three or four, maybe more, miles to it. The snow was up to your knees, to attend these schools.

        AT: How much did you go?

        NANNIE PHARIS: I think about the third or fourth grade. But I taught myself when I couldn't go. I learned to read and write.

        AT: When did you have time to learn that?

        NANNIE PHARIS: At home. After I married I learnt most of it. How to write letters and read. I'd read a lot, still do. And you can educate yourself.

        AT: Did your mother and father know how to read and write?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Yes, my mother had a right good education. My father not as well as hers, but he got by.

Page 59

        AT: Did they want you all to go to school?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Yes, they wanted us to learn.

        JAMES PHARIS: People back in them days, though, didn't believe that education meant anything much. Just so you could read and write, read and write your own name, a lot of parents thought that was all that was necessary.

        NANNIE PHARIS: Nowadays if you don't have a good education you just don't get anywhere.

        AT: Did they take any newspapers?

        NANNIE PHARIS: No. The Danville Bee was the first paper they ever put out in that country. Red Star, I believe it was.

        AT: Did your mother and father have any books in your home?

        NANNIE PHARIS: My daddy had history books that got burnt up when the house burnt down. And he got them when he was a child. If I had those books now, they'd be worth something.

        AT: I guess there was a Bible.

        NANNIE PHARIS: Two Bibles I guess.

        JAMES PHARIS: You never found a home without a Bible back in those days.

        AT: She would read it a lot?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Oh, yes, and tell us things about what it meant. It has always stuck with us. And I'm glad.

        AT: Did she ever write in it, keep records?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Yes, she could write pretty good.

        AT: Did she ever write in the Bible, though?

        NANNIE PHARIS: No, she had a book. A little testament like she wrote in.

        AT: What kind of things would she write?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Mostly what she wanted us to do and what she believed in. She was smarter than most of her children.

Page 60

        AT: How about your brothers and sisters? Did they go to school more than you did?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Yes, they got more education than I did.

        AT: Why do you reckon that was?

        NANNIE PHARIS: I don't know, just times I guess, that they could go. I have a brother lives in Reedsburg, Wisconsin. He got a good education. He went to night school. Pharis did and my brother did too. He was a supervisor of a woolen mill concern. He travelled all over the country.

        AT: Did you ever think about going back to high school after you got working in the mill?

        NANNIE PHARIS: No, because I married too quick and had them children to think of.

        AT: Did you want your children to get educated as much as they could?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Yes, indeed. Progress as much as they could. They didn't have much better of a chance than we did, because there wasn't but one high school in the jurisdiction of Spray at that time, Eden now. They have lots of good schools up there now. Wentworth College.

        AT: Let me go back and ask about your mother and father. Did they have any party politics?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Republican. Yes, indeed. So am I.

        AT: Why were they Republicans?

        NANNIE PHARIS: I don't know. Appeared every time there was a war when there was a Democrat president. My father liked Roosevelt, thought he was a smart man. But he got in after Hoover, you know. And he did vote for Roosevelt. He didn't tell us much about it because he didn't want us to tease him about it. He said he thought he was a smart man, and so do I.

        AT: But you think of yourself as a Republican?

        JAMES PHARIS: Yes.

Page 61

        NANNIE PHARIS: Yes, I'd have to vote for a Republican. Because there have been so many wars when there's been a Democrat in.

        AT: What about your mother?

        NANNIE PHARIS: She was a Republican, too. We didn't have no chance to vote them days. When he was J.P. at Eden I done my first voting.

        AT: Did your father vote?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Oh, yes, he voted. My mother didn't because women didn't vote them days. They passed a law for that in later years.

        AT: What did she think about women getting the vote?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Yes, she thought they ought to have a right to vote. I never will forget the first time I voted. They'd haul them in hacks and all kind of vehicles from the mill. They'd take you from the mill over there to vote, and I didn't know anything about it. I just voted a Republican ticket. He was a Republican.

        AT: Were you voting for President that time?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Yes.

        AT: Who would that have been?

        NANNIE PHARIS: I do declare, I don't know who I voted for. I believe I voted for Hoover. If I did, I'm sorry. But we did vote for Roosevelt, didn't we? Because Hoover made such a mess. That's right, he got in there right after Wilson, that First World War. He didn't have a chance. But I'll tell you, people has lived better since Roosevelt because he wanted them to live better. Have decent homes. And it did turn out to be like that.

        AT: What about things going on in the mills. Did you hear about any strikes or union activities?

        NANNIE PHARIS: No, no sir. There wasn't any. Wasn't a union thought about.

        JAMES PHARIS: If a place did have a strike, it didn't last over two

Page 62

or three days.

        NANNIE PHARIS: There wasn't any strikes.

        AT: Anywhere round about?

        NANNIE PHARIS: No, not then. Wasn't any union ever thought about.

        AT: When did you first hear about it?

        NANNIE PHARIS: When Meany got in. Just for the past recent years, trying to get everything union organized.

        AT: So you don't remember anything, even in the 1930's?

        NANNIE PHARIS: No, there wasn't anything like that then.

        AT: Did you all ever hear of the Gastonia strike in 1929?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Oh, yes, we'd read about it and hear about it.

        JAMES PHARIS: They had a big strike in Danville one time. At Schoolfield Mill down there. Just ruined all of them people down there.

        NANNIE PHARIS: I think unions has ruined the country now.

        JAMES PHARIS: A lot of them bought homes, had to give them up. A lot of them committed suicide. That was a terrible time back in them days.

        NANNIE PHARIS: Get up in the homes, and jump out of two and three story building and commit suicide.

        AT: Who would do that?

        NANNIE PHARIS: When they had that union strike in Danville, Virginia. They lost their homes. They lost everything.

        AT: Did you know people?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Personally. Some people in Danville, yes. Schoolfield. I don't know what will happen now. They're trying to get everything organized. Things can't stay the way they are.

BEGIN TAPE 1 SIDE 1: January 30, 1979

        JAMES PHARIS: The Draper loom was a single box loom. It only run one

Page 63

shuttle and it would make plain goods. It couldn't make any patterns of different colors.

        AT: What kind of material?

        JAMES PHARIS: You could run rayon, nylon and anything else on the Draper loom and the Crompton-Knowles loom, too. And cotton. I believe that about covers the Draper loom.

        The Crompton-Knowles loom, they have two or three different kinds. They have what they call a box loom, you could run four different kind of filling in the loom. There is a Crompton-Knowles loom that they call a pick and pick loom. It had shuttle boxes on each side of the loom. You could put a shuttle out on that end of the loom and hit a change and send another shuttle back to the other end of the loom. That's what they call a pick and pick loom.

        AT: What's the advantage of doing that?

        JAMES PHARIS: It's for making a certain type of good where you wanted a more fancy pattern weaving. You could put one thread of red across there and a thread of black would come back and a thread of some other color would come back again. Give different shade to the cloth. Some of them also had dobby heads on them, you could make fancy patterns. They had two kinds of dobbies on them. Dobbie heads they called them. That's to make fancy weaves in the cloth. Single index and double index dobbies. A double index dobbie they called it, that is right much for a pick and pick loom, too. A double index dobbies, the dobby chain run like that all the time. A single index dobby would just pull over one time.

        BEGIN TAPE 1, SIDE 2: January 30, 1979.

        kind of a clutch like and make one turn, then after it would pick it would make another turn, like that. The double index dobbie would run all the time.

Page 64

        AT: Is it picking up thread from one place?

        JAMES PHARIS: No, it wouldn't be picking up no thread. It would be using a pattern. On certain picks on then chains would pick up a harness and let it down. That would make the type of weave that you wanted in there.

        AT: What use would the material be put to that was coming off of the Crompton-Knowles?

        JAMES PHARIS: Suiting and dress goods. More, just fabrics that the general public used for wearing material.

        The Draper loom, would come off of the loom plain. Color the warp would be all there was in there, and the filling. It would just be one kind of filling. They used that for print goods, and could make any kind of fancy dress goods you wanted to make out of it. It would be printed just on one side and the other side would be plain.

        AT: The other kind of loom is the Jaquard loom, you call it.

        JAMES PHARIS: That is kind of a fancy weave for drapes and things like that. Another thing they make on those looms is automobile upholstery.

        AT: That's a much more complicated one than the Crompton-Knowles.

        JAMES PHARIS: Oh, yes, that's more complicated than the Crompton-Knowles.

        AT: What's the main reason that makes it more complicated?

        JAMES PHARIS: The head on that loom would be bigger round than that whole mantelpiece and on up as high as the top of the ceiling there. The other dobby loom was about that wide, and would sit on the end of the loom. The other one, the pattern is a separate piece of machinery from the loom altogether.

        AT: On which one?

        JAMES PHARIS: On the Jaquard loom.

        AT: Is a separate machine?

        JAMES PHARIS: The head that made the pattern. They put that chain, put that chain in there. It was very complicated. I never did have no experience

Page 65

on that loom. I've seen them, but I've never had no experience on them.

        AT: Most of the mills around here had what kind?

        JAMES PHARIS: Most of them just had Crompton-Knowles and Drapers.

        AT: There were a few of the . . . .

        JAMES PHARIS: Jaquard looms, yes. One mill over here has got them. They still running now, I reckon.

        AT: The oldest kind would have been the Draper loom?

        JAMES PHARIS: I expect the Draper was practically the oldest loom. There is a loom they called the Stafford loom that is in there before the Draper. I remember a loom they called a Whiting. They passed out years and years ago. Back in 1910, like that. Nobody used them anymore.

        I remember when I went to Covington in Virginia we had about a hundred Stafford looms in there. They was done gone, they was all to pieces. They took them out and junked them while I was in there and put in the Crompton-Knowles.

        AT: How many people would it take to run each of these kinds?

        JAMES PHARIS: They'd run about eight looms, the Draper. They'd run about twenty of the Drapers. When they was running twenty of the Drapers they'd only run about six or eight of the Crompton-Knowles. One person would be in charge of that many.

        AT: What about the Jaquard?

        JAMES PHARIS: I think about two looms is considered a job on the Jaquard loom.

        BEGIN TAPE 2 SIDE1: January 30, 1979

        AT: We can start when you came in to live with your sister.

        NANNIE PHARIS: That was when my father moved back to the farm.

        AT: And your sister was doing the cooking then?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Oh, yes. I lived with her in town so I can work. Because the mill was right across the street from where she lived. And it was too far

Page 66

from home to walk.

        AT: So you didn't start back actually cooking for a family again until . . . .

        NANNIE PHARIS: I married. We had some pretty good meals, though. But fat back, you did kind of depend on it. I'd soak the salt out of it. Wrap it and get the moist out of it all I could. Then batter it in flour and fry it. Get it real crisp. Then make me a gravy and pour over it. Sometimes I'd leave it out and we'd eat it crisp. It was real good. Homemade biscuits, buttermilk biscuits all the time. That's something you seldom see nowadays.

        AT: Were there some other ways you'd cook that fat back meat?

        NANNIE PHARIS: I'd boil it with the vegetables and beans and things. Sometimes the shortening out of it, the grease, I'd season potatoes and things with that. Fry potatoes. Do a lot of things with it, scramble eggs.

        AT: What's the egg gravy?

        NANNIE PHARIS: I'd make the cream gravy and I wouldn't put so much flour in it. If I used the eggs that would supply the thickening. I'd beat up the egg and stir it in the milk gravy and pour that over it and we'd eat that. The biscuits was the main thing. Good old country butter that you never see anymore.

        AT: You ate more fat back meat when you were living in the mill than when you were living on the farm.

        NANNIE PHARIS: Yes, lots more.

        AT: Why would that be so?

        NANNIE PHARIS: The side meat at home, my daddy made it so salty and it had lean in it. But that fat back was white. You could buy the rib side too, it would have a streak of lean. But it was terrible salty, so I very seldom

Page 67

bought it. But I did use fat back. It wasn't like it is now. It was thick and pretty then. Now it looks like just skin. I use some now, not much.

        AT: Were there other things you would have bought to eat, when you were working in the mill, that you wouldn't have bought when you were working on the farm?

        NANNIE PHARIS: That's right, we didn't need it on the farm. We bought it when I was living in town.

        AT: What kind of things?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Well, everything. We'd buy string beans when we didn't have them in the garden. Dried peas, dried fruit, had a lot of that then. Different things.

        AT: You would buy dried fruit?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Yes we would. Then I got to drying my apples and peaches and things myself.

        AT: What about milk, would you have to buy that?

        NANNIE PHARIS: As long as my mother lived she always brought us fresh buttermilk and butter. When we didn't have that we'd have somebody else in the country to supply us with it.

        AT: Did you just drink buttermilk, or did you drink sweet milk, too?

        NANNIE PHARIS: We liked the buttermilk better because they raised us on that sweet milk. We didn't like it so much after we growed up. Sounds fantastic, but that's the way it was. I know we was happy then.

        AT: You say you bought more fresh meat when you lived in the mill town.

        NANNIE PHARIS: In town, oh yes. We didn't have to buy any meat when we lived in the country on the farm because we always had plenty of what we

Page 68

cured in the fall and winter.

        AT: What about other kind of little treats that you might buy?

        NANNIE PHARIS: I declare, I don't know.

        JAMES PHARIS: Wasn't any treats back in them days.

        NANNIE PHARIS: That's the truth.

        AT: Did you buy candy bars?

        NANNIE PHARIS: There wasn't any candy bars, but there was peppermint stick candy. Several different flavors of stick candy. But there wasn't any chocolate, chocolate bars, either, in those days.

        AT: When you had your first child, you stayed out of work for a while. Did you have somebody come look after your child or cook for you after you went back to work?

        NANNIE PHARIS: We'd hire someone. A colored women. We'd hire her by the week. She'd stay the week and go home on Saturday afternoon, on the weekend and then come back on Monday.

        AT: What kind of jobs would she do?

        NANNIE PHARIS: She's do everything, cook and scrub and clean and laundry. At first I did 't have to pay but three dollars a week, but then it got up to five dollars a week.

        AT: Would she cook some of the meals?

        NANNIE PHARIS: She'd cook good meals. Good cooks.

        AT: Which meals would she cook?

        NANNIE PHARIS: She cooked everything but breakfast. Dinner and lunch, she did that.

        AT: Did you leave that up to her, what to cook?

        NANNIE PHARIS: She knew how to cook. I'd lay it out for her, what she was to cook during the day.

Page 69

        AT: Did she cook anything for you all that you wouldn't have cooked for yourself?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Sometimes she'd surprise us with a pie, custard, or something like that?

        AT: Did she have any unusual dishes?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Not that I know of. Aunt Mary and Uncle Jim, he was a slave. Him and us slept in the kitchen every night.

        AT: And he worked for you, too?

        NANNIE PHARIS: No, he just stayed there for her to look after him. She couldn't leave him alone. He's a good old colored man. He was religious. You could hear him singing those old time religious songs.

        AT: He was kin to her?

        NANNIE PHARIS: He was her husband.

        AT: He stayed there?

        NANNIE PHARIS: He stayed there. And then him and her would spend Saturday night and Sunday with her son. You don't find them good old colored people any more. Uncle Jim, he had been a slave down in Georgia.

        AT: Did you learn how to cook anything from her?

        NANNIE PHARIS: No, I learned her. I began to cook long before I left home, married. I studied special dishes I'd fix to surprise my mother. That's the way I learned to cook. No recipes. Wasn't thought of.

        AT: Was it unusual for someone who worked to have someone come in and cook for them?

        NANNIE PHARIS: That was a pretty common thing.

        AT: Why don't you tell me about some of the foods you didn't like.

        NANNIE PHARIS: I didn't like chitterlings and I never would cook them for nobody.

Page 70

        AT: Why?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Because I don't eat skin of stuff like that. You know you wouldn't love chitterlings, would you?

        AT: What else?

        NANNIE PHARIS: Never did like okra and carrots. There are several things. Parsnips, I couldn't stand them. But such things are now popular, carrots and things like that. I always loved string beans and potatoes and those little green peas that would come in early.

BEGIN TAPE 1 SIDE 2: January 30, 1979

        AT: You could start back when you first met him. This is Lester Flatt.

        JAMES PHARIS: When he come to Covington, Virginia and worked for me for three or three and a half years.

        AT: At what mill was that?

        JAMES PHARIS: Covington Weaving was the name of the place.

        AT: What kind of job did he have?

        JAMES PHARIS: He was weaving down in the weaving room. He got sick, he got in bad, bad shape. They took him to Charlottesville, Virginia--that hospital up there. He stayed up there a while. They finally let him come back home with a treatment. He didn't seem to improve very much. It finally got so he could walk on crutches. More dead than living. He was just in bad shape. Just before I left up there he met me down on the street there one day. He wanted to ask me some advice. I said "What is it?" He says, "Now I'll tell you. I got a letter from a fellow over in Tennessee. He said he had some medicine that would cure me." I knew he was already on a very strict prescription from Charlottesville. I told him, I says, "Lester, I can't give you no advice on that. One thing I would tell you. . . ."

        He says, "If I take this medicine from this [unclear]

Page 71

fellow over in Tennessee, he's just an old mountain man. That's all he is. But he says he can cure me." My advice is, "if you stop taking this medicine from Charlottesville, the prescription. For three weeks to take this medicine from this old man in the mountains, you could be done gone on from here."

        "Well," he says, "I'd soon just be dead as living anyhow. If I don't get no better than what I am now, I don't want to live."

        With that I left him, I didn't hear anything from him for several months. Three or four or five months after I come to Plaid Mill. One day he walks in down there and wants a job. I says, "In the name of god, what have you done to yourself."

        "I didn't do nothing but take that bottle of medicine that old man sent me from up in the mountains. I quit taking the medicine I was getting from Charlottesville and I just took this one bottle of medicine this old man sent me. And I'm in good shape now."

        And he was. He could get around fine. He went to weaving down there, and that is a very active job, you know. He never had particular disease, what it was. I never knew what it was.

        AT: How did that affect him?

        JAMES PHARIS: He couldn't walk, just lost the use of himself. Looked just like death. Terrible looking. When he come down here, he looked good again. He said he never did take nothing but that bottle of, what it was, was a bottle of liquor. About two-thirds full of liquor and the rest was some kind of mountain herb. It was a secret that this old man had that he wouldn't tell nobody what it was. I think that old man died and never did tell nobody what it was.

        AT: Did you hire him to go to work for you in Covington?

        JAMES PHARIS: Yeah.

Page 72

        AT: Do you remember the first time you saw him or he came in and asked to be hired?

        JAMES PHARIS: He was just a nice --him and his wife, both of them worked for me --local boy to me. A nice looking, friendly looking fellow and I hired him.

        AT: Had he done that before?

        JAMES PHARIS: Yeah, he was a pretty good weaver when he went to Eden. Been weaving over in Tennessee.

        AT: About how old was he then?

        JAMES PHARIS: I suppose Lester and his wife was somewhere in their twenties.

        AT: Was he already making music?

        JAMES PHARIS: Yes, he was already making music. He had a little band up there. They'd go to Roanoke and broadcast on radio from Roanoke.

        AT: Would they ever play any around the mill or around town?

        JAMES PHARIS: No, never did do any playing right around there that I heard. There was about three or four of them. After he come here to Covington, I had him here on radio . . . .

        AT: After he came over here to Plaid Mills?

        JAMES PHARIS: After he come to Plaid Mill and went to work for me. The radio station here gave Burlington Mills thirty minutes time over there one day and I was in charge of it. I got up the program. I had Lester and his wife on there. They sang a duet.

        AT: Was that a regular show or was that just a special show?

        JAMES PHARIS: That was just a special we got up. Advertising for Burlington Mills, that's what it was.

        AT: Do you remember anything else about that show?

Page 73

        JAMES PHARIS: I've forgot what else I had on now. Anything I could pick up around here. If they could do anything at all.

        AT: What year would that have been?

        JAMES PHARIS: That must have been somewhere in the forties.

        AT: Were there some other musicians that he would have played with working in the Plaid Mill with him.

        NANNIE PHARIS: Jim Hall.

        JAMES PHARIS: He wasn't playing with Lester, though. Lester and three or four folks come up here and rehearsed one time, at my house.

        AT: Were they doing lots of tours?

        JAMES PHARIS: That was when he was working. That was before he got so popular. I never did think Lester would amount to so much as far as public show business is concerned. I was talking to a traveling salesman. I was running a store down here since I retired. He asked me if I knew Lester Flatt. I told him, "I reckon I ought to. He used to work for me." He said, "Work for you where." I said, "In the mill, in the weaving room." He says, "I expect Lester Flatt now could buy every single unit that Burlington Mills has got." I says, "What?" He says, "He's sitting on top of the world now."

        AT: Did you leave the Plaid Mill before he quit?

        JAMES PHARIS: No, he left there a long time before I left. I didn't leave there until '50 and this is around '42.

        AT: Why did he leave?

        JAMES PHARIS: He still had music on his mind. There was another boy worked for me down there about the same time Lester did. Carl Smith. You've heard him over the radio and television. He worked for me a while down there. That was when he was just getting started. They was making music, gambling. Them fellows has a rough road to travel before they get on top.

Page 74

        AT: Were there a lot of other musicians from this area that worked in the mills?

        JAMES PHARIS: That's about the only ones I know made anything, made the big time.

Back to the Articles
Hit Counter