priley.jpg (9860 bytes) Pauline Riley

Age: 66 years

Occupation: Homemaker / Farmer / Steel Worker / Avon Lady

Hometown: Pomeroy, Meigs County, Ohio

Interviewer: Don Carnahan

What farm equipment did Pauline use?          priley.gif (1567 bytes)prileyra.gif (1728 bytes)


INTERVIEW

Don: What is your name?

Pauline: Pauline Riley

Don: Your age?

Pauline: 66

Don: Who were your parents or grandparents?

Pauline: Floyd his last name was White and my mother’s name was Lucy.

Don: What were your grandparents’ names?

Pauline: My grandparents was John and Effie and that was on my mother’s side. And on my father’s side, they were Ivy and Guy.

Don: Were they from this area?

Pauline: No

Don: Where did they come from?

Pauline: Ritchie, West Virginia. Ritchie County.

Don: What was their living? What did they do for a living?

Pauline: Farm.

Don: How many brothers and sisters did you have?

Pauline: I had three brothers and I had six sisters.

Don: What was it like growing up on a farm or where you grew up at?

Pauline: Well, it was fun. You had to work. It was hard work. From the time we was five years old we worked in the corn fields. From the time you was able to count to three you started working.

Don: Did you work every day?

Pauline: Every day. Except Sundays. My dad didn’t believe in working on Sundays.

Don: Can you tell us what kind of work you did?

Pauline: We did farm work. It was raising corn, wheat, and potatoes, and a big garden. It was all strawberries. Anything you could raise, we raised it. Tobacco, we raised tobacco.

Don: Where did you go to school?

Pauline: Where did I go to school? West Virginia, Pleasant Valley. Forest Home.

Don: How big was it?

Pauline: One room. With a pot-bellied stove in it. We carried wood to keep the fire going.

Don: What was it like?

Pauline: What was it like? It was fun. It really was. Because, the teacher - we had from the first grade to the eighth grade, and from then on you went into town. You was bussed into town. But we walked to school. We walked a mile and a half to school. We didn’t have no busses. The kids walked then.

Don: What was your teachers like?

Pauline: The teachers was good. I had two men teachers in my lifetime and one woman.

Don: What do you remember most about your school days?

Pauline: What I remember most about them is, I don’t know, getting the switch used on you.

Don: What was your lessons like each day?

Pauline: We had reading, arithmetic, geography, and history, and writing, and spelling. It wasn’t like it is today. They have different subjects I think today, don’t they? Or is it everyday? Now we had it every day.

Don: What kind of trouble did you get into when you was a kid? What was the punishment for your trouble if you got into any?

Pauline: The punishment was a hickory switch or the razor strap.

Don: Did you ever get into any trouble?

Pauline: Oh, yeah.

Don: What kind?

Pauline: Oh, I don’t know. I run off one time. I run from my dad one time. I never did that no more, never. And you know I can’t remember ever getting into real bad trouble. The way we had to work and go to school. We didn’t have time. You see we went to school. I mean like from when school started in September maybe we’d get to go part of September, but then it was October before we really got started to go to school every day because we had farm work to do. And we had to do that. That had to come first. Now I agree with the schools today. School should come first before anything because you should get a good education. But back then that’s the only way we had of making a living was to do the farm work and keep the cows fed and the chickens and everything. Because my dad you know he raises a lot of that stuff and that’s how we made our money.

Don: Where did you work at? When did you finish high school?

Pauline: I never finished high school. Like I said I went to the eighth grade. That’s as far as I ever went.

Don: Where did you work after that?

Pauline: On the farm.

Don: Did you ever have any jobs away from the farm?

Pauline: No.

Don: How was life different that than it is now?

Pauline: Well, back then you had to work. I think kids had to work more harder back then than they do now because today both parents works. Most of them works at a public job and they have the money or they don’t have to worry about it. But when us kids were growing up, we had to raise everything we’d eat.

Don: Were people’s values different?

Pauline: I really don’t know, Donny.

Don: Did they cherish their stuff more than they do now?

Pauline: Oh, yes. My dad was very, very saving. I mean he didn’t allow you to waste nothing or anything. I mean, you know, he was very, very possessive of the stuff we that we had because we had to take care of it. Because it was too hard for us get where we couldn’t - we didn’t have the money to go out and just buy it back, you know.

Don: What kind of clothes did you buy?

Pauline: We didn’t buy clothes. My mother made all of our clothes. Even down to our underpants and all that. She made it.

Don: When you went to school did you have to wear certain clothes?

Pauline: We had to wear dresses. Kids, like the girls, they had to wear dresses to school back then. You never seen a girl in pants and shirt like the boys. Well my dad he didn’t believe in girls wearing pants. Cause he was very, he was good in church. He never allowed us to get our hair cut. I can remember my mother’s hair was so long that me and my sister, when she’d take it down and comb it, we used to pick it up and follow her through the house to carry it. That’s how long it was. It drug on the ground.

Don: What do you remember most about your childhood?

Pauline: The hard work, the hard work. Well, we had a lot of fun because I had sisters and brothers. And we had a lot of fun because we had neighbor kids, you know. Maybe they lived, I don’t know, a mile or two miles from us.

Don: What was it like when you got your first modern conveniences?

Pauline: TV and electric is 1947 before my dad ever got electric in his house. And that was a joy.

Don: What about your first car?

Pauline: First car? I didn’t have a car until I married your grandpa. An old ’36 Chevrolet, I think it was.

Don: What was the worst and best of the Depression?

Pauline: Donny, I can’t remember too much you see because it was, the Depression was in ’33. See I was born in ’31 and I wasn’t that old. I can’t remember much about that. But I can remember my dad used to work on the road. I don’t know this really stuck in my mind because my dad would work on the road and he worked for fifty cents a day. In ’32, I think it was, ’32 or ’33. But I mean I was real little and he’d come home with blisters on his hands. Where he’d use a sledge hammer to pound up the rock because they didn’t have a thing to crush the rock like they do now. And he’d pound the rock and he’d have big blisters on his hand and mother used to soak his hands. And then they used – you see back then we didn’t have hand cream and stuff like that – and she’d take, when we’d butcher, she’d take the fat off of the beef and she always rendered that out and kept it for to put on our skin to make our skin soft. And she used to put that on my dad’s hands I can remember that. That’s about the only thing I can remember. But I know years later he said that he used to work for fifty cents a day when the Depression was. And see there were nine of us kids and you take nine kids and work for fifty cents a day it takes a lot of work and it takes a lot to raise nine kids back then.

Don: Did World War II affect you?

Pauline: No. Well, I didn’t have no brothers. My dad went for a physical but he didn’t pass. And I had a brother who went for a physical and he had a heart murmur and they wouldn’t take him. So really your grandfather was the only one and then he had brothers in there. There was five of them in the service. All of them came back except one.

Don: When you moved, did you move away from West Virginia? Any other place besides here?

Pauline: Yeah, Akron.

Don: What did you do up there?

Pauline: I raised kids. I had six kids to raise. They were pretty good kids. Really they was.

Don: How many boys and girls?

Pauline: I had seven: six girls and one boy.

Don: Was the boy in more trouble that the rest of them?

Pauline: Not really.

Don: Did your girls fight a lot since there were six girls in one house?

Pauline: Yeah, a little bit. You see I only got five girls living. The one girl died when she was six weeks old. So I had five girls and one boy in the same house. No, they would get into arguments you know. But now to fight, physical fight. Is that what you’re talking about. No, I never allowed that. I never allowed them to fight. Johnny was more hyper than the rest of them. He’d get out and get into a little bit of trouble.

Don: What kind of trouble did he get into?

Pauline: He run off and go to the pond and I’d ask him not to. And then I’d have to go after him and he’d get a switching, a good switching up the road. They were pretty good kids because I never allowed them to go out of the yard. They had to stay in where they was at.

Don: What was the flood of ’37 like? Did it affect you?

Pauline: No. It was too far back in the hills, honey.

Don: Is any of your brothers or sisters still around?

Pauline: I got one brother that’s living.

Don: What’s he like?

Pauline: Oh, he’s a pretty good old guy. He is. We love one another. Our family, Donny, was close, very close.

Don: Do you remember where you was when John F. Kennedy got shot?

Pauline: Yes. Sitting in my living room watching TV with my kids and your great-grandfather.

Don: Did you cry?

Pauline: Yes, I thought it was terrible.

Don: What about when the first man landed on the moon? Did you think that was a great thing or a bad thing?

Pauline: Well, I think, I don’t think we should be up there. Now that’s my belief. Because if the Lord meant for us to be there: he would have made a way for us to get there. I don’t think. Of course, that’s not for me to decide but to my belief I don’t think we should be going up there. Cause there ain’t nobody ever going to be able to live up there.

Don: Have you did any traveling in your life?

Pauline: Not much. The only place I went was South Carolina on the airplane.

Don: Do you like living where you’re at now?

Pauline: Yeah. It’s nice here. I like it. It’s peaceful. I got good neighbors.

Don: What’s your husband like?

Pauline: When we was first married he drove a truck for Kroger’s. He worked there for a couple of years. Then he worked in Montgomery, West Virginia putting in a conveyor belt into a mine. He worked there for a couple of years and then he went to Goodyear. He worked there 32 years. That’s where he retired from, Goodyear aerospace. They built the blimps and made wheels and brakes for airplanes.

Don: Is he enjoying his retirement?

Pauline: Yes

Don: What does he do now? Is he a homemaker?

Pauline: He stays in the garage most of the time. He likes to tinker. He likes to do mechanic work or anything.

Don: Can you tell us any old stories? Scary stories?

Pauline: There’s a lot of scary stories. I was at my grandma’s house one time. They lived it’s where they had the slaves. It was a house where the slaves hid. They had one room. It was barred. And that was a scary place. Cause you’d hear all kinds of noises and stuff, but grandma always said it was it was our imagination. But I was scared there. I used to cry when my dad and them would take us kids over there. It was kind of scary.

Don: Is any of your teachers still around?

Pauline: Yes. Delmore Hutton in West Virginia. He’s a writer now. He writes books. And every time I see him he gives me one. He’s eighty-two years old.

Don: Did grandpa have any brothers or sisters? Does he know where his family’s at?

Pauline: He had eight brothers and one sister. They’re all dead now except your grandpa and his sister. She’s in New York. She lives in New York and she’s eighty-two years old. And your grandpa. He’s seventy-one, he’ll be seventy-two in June.

Don: What sticks out most in your mind about your childhood, except the hard work?

Pauline: The good times I had with my sisters and brothers. I miss them real bad.

Don: What was the work like in the summertime?

Pauline: In the summertime we hoed corn, planted corn and the gardens and the tobacco. Then in the wintertime, see all we had to do was take care of the animals.

Don: Did you bale hay like you do now?

Pauline: No, we didn’t even know what a hay baler was when we was kids growing up. We didn’t even know what a tractor was, Donny. Only thing we had was horses. I rode a hay rake with a team of horses and raked the hay. They shocked it, you know, in shocks. And then, when we got ready to stack it, we stacked it around. We put a pole in the ground and put timber on the bottom. And that’s how we stacked our hay. Up like this. Didn’t you kids ever see a haystack? Have you seen one? You aint seen one? I don’t think Donny has either. But it is quite a chore. It’s hard work but it’s a lot of fun, too. The hay shocks that we made, we put a chain on the horse. On the hook back here that hooks to the single-tree. We had a single-tree and we put a chain on it. And we put one of the little kids on it. And he was too little to do anything but ride a horse. They’d take that horse around that hayshock like that and you’d flip that chain around under it. Hook it. And they’d pull that to the haystack. That’s the way we did it. Or the hay that we’d fill our barn up first. You know like the loft of the barn. We’d haul hay and fill it up first and the rest of it we had to stack it up outside because we didn’t have nowhere else to put it. And we used to have haystacks, lots of them. Lots of them. It was hard work, but it was fun. It was fun.

Don: Do you like the improvements that they made to the farming community like tractors and stuff?

Pauline: You know, Donny, it’s nice that they got that stuff now. But I liked the horses. I like messing with horses and I liked messing with the cows. I loved to milk, back then. Cause we did it by hand. We didn’t have machines. We’d squeeze them old udders and got the milk out. We had seven head of cows to milk every morning and every night. Us kids’d milk them before we went to school and that was our chore to do at night was milk the cows and feed and everything.

Don: Did you work inside the house or mostly outside?

Pauline: Mostly outside. Mother did the work inside.

Don: Do you like the idea of the improvements that they made to the schools?

Pauline: Yes, I think it’s a good idea cause everthing’s going computer today. It’s not labor work. I see on TV where they’re even using computers to put cars together with. And that’s amazing. If you don’t get computer work, then how are you going to work. I mean how are you going to make a living? Cause people don’t farm today like we did when I was a kid growing up. That was the only thing we knowed how to do was to farm.

Don: Do you like the idea of college?

Pauline: It’s expensive, but I think today I think kids should get good educations. I really do. I think they should go to school, get out of high school, and go to college. Of course, my kids never – your ma. Janet’s the only one that went to college. But I think all kids should get a good education today. That’s what I missed most of all. Was not getting a education. But it wasn’t my fault. I mean, I couldn’t help that. I had to work. We had to work at home and we had to work by raising stuff to eat cause we had a big family. And that was the reason we didn’t work nowhere else. And we had to go to school. Like I said, we started school back in October. And by March or April we had to be out of school on account of putting in the gardens and everything.

Don: What do your kids do for a living now?

Pauline: Well, most of the girls is married. Well, I got a daughter that drives a semi-truck. And I got a daughter that works at – I can’t even remember the name of it. And the rest of them got married. And your mom, she works.

Don: What was your Christmases and Thanksgivings like when you was a little kid?

Pauline: They were real nice. We always had turkey, ham or something for Thanksgiving. There’s was always a lot that come in for Thanksgiving cause there was a lot of us kids. I’ve seen my mom cook for forty-some people every Thanksgiving at a time. Christmas was pretty good. Of course we didn’t get a lot, you know. But we had a good time.

Don: Did you have decorations?

Pauline: No, only what my mother would make out of crepe paper. That’s all we could afford. We couldn’t afford lights and ribbons and stuff. She used to take and make ribbons and stuff out of crepe paper. But our entertainment at home of a night. We didn’t have radio or a TV or electric. And our entertainment of a night was the Bible. My dad read, always read, a chapter out of the Bible before we went to bed. Every night, that wasn’t just once in a while, that was every night. And he was really good about it. Because we didn’t have TV, we didn’t have a radio. We didn’t even have electric. And I’ve often wondered how my mom ever made it without a refrigerator. There wasn’t no iceboxes and nothing like that we didn’t have. We kept everything in a root cellar. Milk and everything.

Don: What is a root cellar like?

Pauline: The root cellar that we had at home was, it was underground. Built up mostly out of sandrock. It was built up and it had a spring. A water spring in the middle. The water run in from the hill into the spring and it had a pipe where it run out. And that’s how we kept our milk cold. Mom would put it in buckets. Back years ago you used to buy the buckets with the lids on them. And she used to, my daddy fixed her a thing across there with hooks on it. And she could hang the buckets on them hooks and let it hit the water. For they’d stay cold. That’s how we kept the milk cold. Kept it from spoiling. Of course, we milked twice a day so it really didn’t make no difference.

Don: Has things changed around here since you moved into this county?

Pauline: Yes, a little bit. We used to have a big house that stood out front here. And we tore it down. Put the trailer back here. Cause the house was in such bad shape we didn’t fool trying to rebuild it. We just tore it down, put the trailer back here. And then the old store building that set over there on the corner, they tore it down. And the new house down across the road. It’s been built. And that’s been about the only change that’s happened around here since I moved here. And that was in ’75.

Don: Did you have a favorite pet?

Pauline: I got a bird now. And I got a dog, an outside dog. I used to have an inside dog. I loved him very much but he got so old that we finally had him put to sleep because he had cancer real bad. And I never got another inside pet. Cats, I don’t care for. I don’t like cats. Dogs, I like my dogs. But I don’t have no inside dog because it’s just too hard to train them. The little dog I had, he never come inside this part of the house. He stayed in the kitchen all the time. He never came in here. He’d come as far as the door and that’s as far as he’d come. He knowed he wasn’t allowed back in here. But it’s to hard to train a dog to do what you want him to do. I think now, I’m too old to start that.

Don: Did you work here in Meigs County?

Pauline: I was an Avon lady for a couple three years. Then I wrecked my car. I turned my car over on the top out here on Mason Road and then I didn’t. Well, I did for a while after that and I sold out of the house. But to get out and run my route, no I didn’t do that. That’s an awful thing to turn a car over on its top, man. When we lived in Akron I worked in a steel plant. Made car jacks. Heavy work but I liked it. I worked nights. I worked from 3:30 til midnight. And my husband, pa worked from seven in the morning til 3:30. I went to work as he was coming home. But I worked there for four years until we moved down here. When I moved down here,I quit.

Don: Anything else that you’d like to tell us about?

Pauline: There’s a lot I could tell you but it would take too long.


Top of page : Home : Oral History Archive