Transcribed Interview by cut16095

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									                                     Transcribed Interview

Interviewee: Joyce Fitzgerald
Place: Ingomar, Mississippi
Date: March 8, 2006
Interviewer: Andy Lindsey
Others present: Thom Copeland.

Copeland: Mrs. Fitzgerald what year were you born?

Fitzgerald: February 5, 1935 in a little house. Part of it was in Pontotoc County and part
of it was in Union county

00:31 Copeland: Really? Where did you pay taxes?

Fitzgerald: I‟m not sure if we had the money to pay taxes with.

Copeland: What do you remember about the house?

Fitzgerald: I don‟t. Part of the house is still standing I have pictures of it. My mother
and daddy used to carry me back to it.

1:04 Copeland: Do you know if you were born with a doctor or midwife present?

Fitzgerald: Probably a doctor. I think I‟ve heard my mother talk about it.

Copeland: Do you know what doctor they would have used?

Fitzgerald: A Doctor Burns from Ecru.

Copeland: How far is Ecru from that area?

Fitzgerald: 3 or 4 miles probably.

Copeland: In the thirties, was it more common for people to use the doctor from Ecru?

Fitzgerald: Probably.

Copeland: Have you heard of women that used a mid-wife?

Fitzgerald: No. It probably wasn‟t part of our conversation back then.

Copeland: What do you remember about growing up?
Fitzgerald: My parents were sharecroppers, and most of that time we lived on my
grandparent‟s farm. I have one brother and one sister and we had to help with crop
chopping cotton, picking cotton and chopping corn. On rainy days, we would shell corn
and do things that would help so that when the weather was good we wouldn‟t have to do

3:36 Copeland: Do you know what age you would have been?

Fitzgerald: Probably 8. I remember doing things around the house even younger than
that. We had to bring in wood. Our stove was fired by wood. We had a fire place and
water came from the well.

4:00 Copeland: Was it common then for children that age to help [with] house hold

Fitzgerald: Right. We had chores that we knew were ours and if we finished ours and if
there were other things to do, we did it. We didn‟t work all the time; we had play time.

Copeland: What did you do during your free time?

Fitzgerald: Play house. I have an aunt that was two years older then I am and she lived
just up the road from our house. There was a huge tree in between and it had big roots
and that was where we played house. The roots divided our rooms; that‟s what we did
with our free time.

Copeland: Do you remember starting school?

Fitzgerald: Yes.

Copeland: Can you tell us about the school you attended?

5:08 Fitzgerald: I went to Liberty through the eighth grade and had to walk all of my
younger years. I remember one day it was so cold that the banks spewed out and I fell
down and my hands got covered in mud. I stopped at my aunt‟s house. I thought I would
[be] able to wash my hands in warm water and my uncle wouldn‟t let he made me wash
my hands in cold water. I realize now that was the best thing to do. At school the first
four grades were in one room. It was a two room school house and five through eight
were in the other. If you weren‟t reciting in your own class at that time you could lean
back and listen in on the other classes. We had reading, writing, and arithmetic at that
time. Those were our main classes. We had a dirt basketball court, played jump rope, and
a few of us girls got to play marbles if we were very careful about not disrupting the
game. The students of the seventh and eighth grades would play washers. The girls would
play bumper jacks. In class from the fifth to the eighth grade we had spelling bees

7:40 Lindsey: Were they full terms?
Fitzgerald: At that time we had what was called split time; we would go in the summer
and let out in the fall to help with crops.

Copeland: How intense was the learning comparing an eighth grade student at that school
to an eighth grader today? Were they about equal or worse?

Fitzgerald: Well, I guess it was then as with the student now if you wanted to learn you
did and if you didn‟t you just took up space. We were encouraged too and it was fun
learning it was for me. Most of the students we didn‟t have that many.

Copeland: If you were to estimate how many students were in that room?

Fitzgerald: About 25 or so.

Copeland: And that would be through the fourth grade?

Fitzgerald: Yes, and then fifth through the eighth would be in the other.

Copeland: Did children drop out or was it pretty much expected that everyone would go
through the eighth grade?

Fitzgerald: If boys dropped out it wasn‟t a big deal. They dropped out to help farm or
help their parents do whatever. In my class a few dropped out

Copeland: Were the boys more likely to drop out then the girls?

Fitzgerald: Yes, but girls would drop out to get married, but that was in high school

Copeland: The boys that dropped out did so for work reasons?

Fitzgerald: Right.

Copeland: Those that decided to stay in school, where did a person continue their

Fitzgerald: Well, I went to New Harmony. That school isn‟t there anymore.
Consolidation got all the schools. Now we have Ingomar, East Union, West Union, and
Myrtle and before I finished high school North East started accepting students. Some had
the opportunity to one of the students in my class went to Brahms Business School in
Memphis. I guess everyone else got a job.

Lindsey: How many went on to college after high school?

Fitzgerald: I don‟t remember any of my class mates going on to college after high school
except that one.
Copeland: The high school at New Harmony would have had children from other
communities do you remember what communities sent children there?

11:54 Fitzgerald: There was Liberty, New Harmony, some came from East Union, some
from back toward Sherman there was a community called Poplar Springs, Wallerville.

Copeland: The total in the graduating class was 6?

Fitzgerald: My graduating class the one before was three. I imagine the one after was a
little more.

Lindsey: How many males graduated in your class?

Fitzgerald: One; and that was in 1952.

Copeland: Before you went to New Harmony did the smaller community school compete
against each other?

Fitzgerald: We did. When we were at Liberty we would go to other schools that just
went through the eighth grade. There were several of those. We would go and play and
then they would come to Liberty to play basketball.

Copeland: How would you describe the competitiveness between the communities?

Fitzgerald: Pretty intense at times.

Copeland: Was it positive?

Fitzgerald: Oh yes.

13:48 Copeland: When you went to the high school, did one high school play against
another like Myrtle?

Fitzgerald: We did. I don‟t remember playing Myrtle there was Macedonia, Pinedale,
those communities are on the western part of the county, Tippah Union on the line
between Union and Tippah county, Sherman, Ingomar. It was pretty competitive
between New Harmony and Ingomar though I don‟t know why.

Copeland: What types of things do you remember the community being able to give you
to do?

15:00 Fitzgerald: I guess there was more social activity at the church then there was at
school. We would meet for suppers or dinner on the ground. At school we always had
plays especially around Christmas time and maybe at the end of the year. The families all
came in for that.
Copeland: Were these conducted as fund raisers?

Fitzgerald: No just something for kids to do to be able to be in front of parents and other

Copeland: You said your family was sharecroppers. Was that common in this area?

Fitzgerald: Yes.

Copeland: Were there a lot of tenant farmers?

Fitzgerald: There was.

Copeland: Do you know some of the names of the families you worked [with] on your
grand parents land?

Fitzgerald: Right. Joyce Dunlap and my grandfather Dunlap had several acres and we
worked part of his land.

Copeland: Did he have other people working his land?

16:43 Fitzgerald: Not while we were there. I believe that was the only sharecropper
family there.

Lindsey: How long did your parents continue sharecropping?

Fitzgerald: My father bought his [farm], in fact, after our first daughter was born. Mary
was born. We went in together and bought the farm where we are now. That was his first
farm to own was after I married.

Lindsey: What year was that?

Fitzgerald: 1957. I have one brother and one sister so our family wasn‟t very large. In
fact I was over eleven years old when he was born.

Copeland: Where did you meet your husband?

18:00Fitzgerald: He was from up the road from where I was raised. In fact, he tells me he
can remember me as a baby because I was very sick, and his mother said let‟s go see the
sick baby. That‟s the story he tells. We just kind of grew up together in the community. I
don‟t think we called it dating when I was 13 because my parents were pretty strict. We
were able to do things in a group of people. We went to a football game in Pontotoc.
There were seven of us in a car. I was thirteen; he was seventeen. We married in 1952.

18:46 Copeland: How old were you when you married?
Fitzgerald: I was seventeen.

Copeland: What other things do you remember doing when y‟all were dating?

Fitzgerald: There would be gathering in the community and we would make ice cream.
We would go to a movie at that time. The eating place in New Albany was the Barbeque
Grill and we would go to a movie and stop at the Barbeque Grill.

Copeland: Was it a bigger date to go to New Albany and take in a movie. Was that more

Fitzgerald: I don‟t think so. There wasn‟t that much to do. There wasn‟t any television;
we could listen to the radio. A lot of ours was group stuff church.

20:11 Copeland: When you went to New Albany to the movies, were there black couples
there at that time too?

Fitzgerald: Not at that theater at that time.

Copeland: Do you know what they would have done for their social activities dates?

Fitzgerald: No, I don‟t. I know there were not places or theater for them.

Copeland: Among the sharecropping families that you knew, were they mostly white?

Fitzgerald: Yes. There were a few black families around and at one point we lived on
another farm right before I got married. There was a black family that lived across the
road. When we lived on my grandparents‟ farm there was another family that lived not
far from my granddaddy‟s house and I would go down there. I remember one time she
had baked some chocolate pies, and she was feeding her children. It must have been a
treat with them because at that time of the day it was not meal time.

21:57 Copeland: Did white children and black children play with each other if they lived
beside each other like that?

Fitzgerald: Well, not as such but we didn‟t shun each other either.

Copeland: Do you think the adults were they more reserved among their own color?

Fitzgerald: I think so.

Copeland: When you had the black family living across the street did your mother and
their mother exchange sugar?
Fitzgerald: I don‟t recall that but if there was a need I‟m sure they would have. That
family had several children. It was a rather large family and they didn‟t have much.

23: 11 Copeland: Do you remember some of the names of some of the larger landholders
that would have perhaps had more sharecroppers?

Fitzgerald: There was a Mr. May. In fact, my younger sister married his son, and he had
a couple of houses. My granddaddy, he had a lot of land but one house was all they had.
There was a Mr. LittleJohn they had several acres.

Copeland: Did the families that were sharecropping, did they socialize with the land
holders if they were going to a community supper?

Fitzgerald: Yes, the land owners were not the [of the] “Scarlet O‟Hara reputation.” We
were all poor, but we didn‟t know it.

Copeland: So even the land owners had more land but there wasn‟t necessarily a class

Fitzgerald: No.

Copeland: How do you think the consolidation of the school‟s affected the community?

Fitzgerald: Consolidation happened after I graduated. I guess it pulled people from a
greater distance to the hub of the community.

Copeland: Do you think there is as strong a sense of community today as when you were

Fitzgerald: No there‟s not. I worked in Ingomar School as secretary for 30 years, and it
changed greatly in those 30 years I was there.

Copeland: How would you explain the change?

Fitzgerald: More people have gone to public work. It‟s not like it has to be the hub of
community to see other people. They are busier and some of them don‟t have time for
their children‟s activities.

Copeland: Have you ever thought about that we get all this technology that is suppose to
make life easier, but we are busier?

27:00 Fitzgerald: Yes. In fact I told my husband the other day we are too old to be this
busy. It seems like there is more to do and places to go and I guess I haven‟t learned to
say no to people. They think because you are retired you have more free time. I still like
to be involved with my children and grandchildren. We have 5 children: a girl, three
boys, and a girl, and 8 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren.
28:00 Copeland: Do you remember communities having a mixing between the
communities? Did the people from the community of Liberty get together with people
from New Harmony?

Fitzgerald: Only if the people from Liberty had a child at New Harmony that would be
the only reason.

Copeland: Do you think the school system as it used to be facilitated people from one
community meeting people from another community?

Fitzgerald: I think so.

29:00 Copeland: You said you were a school teacher for thirty years?

Fitzgerald: School Secretary

Copeland: When you were going to school, was your teacher male or female?

Fitzgerald: In elementary it was a woman. I had three different ones, and when I was in
the seventh and eighth grades it was a man.

Copeland: Today usually when you think of teaching as a profession, you think of it as
being more women than men? Do you think there were more men when you going to
school teaching?

Fitzgerald: Not really; we had a few men but the ratio was not that great.

Copeland: How were the schools governed? Did they have a superintendent?

Fitzgerald: It was a county superintendent. Then there was a principal. The one at
Liberty, we never knew him as a principal only as a teacher. I don‟t think they were
really classified as principals. When I went to New Harmony, we did have a principal
there but he also taught.

Copeland: Were there more teachers at New Harmony teaching at the same time?

Fitzgerald: There we had science and a lab, English, math teachers, separate coach, and
then the elementary also had separate teachers.

31:15 Copeland: As far as your education went when you were in grades one through
eight, you mostly focused on reading, writing, and arithmetic? High school, is that where
you started learning science?

Fitzgerald: Yes, of course, we had some of that covered in elementary school but we
didn‟t have a science teacher. We also had history in elementary grades too.
Lindsey: Was New Harmony an agricultural high school?

Fitzgerald: No.

Copeland: What is an agricultural high school?

Lindsey: It has an agricultural co-op program attached to it.

Fitzgerald: In fact, I can‟t recall [there] being one on the campus, ever.

Copeland: When you were the school secretary, were there parent teacher organizations?

Fitzgerald: Yes.

Copeland: Were they very involved in the school?

Fitzgerald: Yes.

Copeland: Do you remember what type of person would join the PTA?

Fitzgerald: It was mostly people interested in what their children were doing in school
and the goals they wanted for their children.

Copeland: Do you remember what types of things they would do [as] fundraisers what
they would emphasize?

Fitzgerald: They did fundraisers to help supply things needed in the classroom and I
guess that‟s basically what they did.

Copeland: Were there more women or men in those organizations?

Fitzgerald: Probably more women involved.

Copeland: When you say involved, there may have been an equal number of men but the
women were more involved?

Fitzgerald: Right.

34:00 Copeland: Why do you think women were more involved then men?

Fitzgerald: I guess when it comes down to it it‟s the mothers that really get down to it and
push the children most of the time.

Copeland: When you were growing up was your mother or father more responsible for
disciplining the children?
Fitzgerald: They were both there because as farmers, Daddy was not away. We were
with him as much. Mother probably did more then Daddy again because you didn‟t want
it again. I only remember him spanking me twice. I probably needed it more.

35:00 Copeland: Were there discipline problems in the school either when you were
growing up or when you were working in the school?

Fitzgerald: Yes. When I was in school, especially in grammar school my daddy always
said if you got a whipping at school you would get another at home. No questions asked.
So I never got one when I was in school. I did get in trouble sometimes; I had to write
papers and such. Then when I was secretary of the school things had changed [and]
starting getting blended families due to divorce, and then you got parents that didn‟t want
their children disciplined. One came to school and said, “Don‟t whip my child.” he was
not to be disciplined and then that child got to do as he wanted to. It has not gotten better.

36:41 Copeland: Do you think that there has been a weakening in the structure, in the
solidarity of the community? Has there been a weakening of the family?

Fitzgerald: Yes.

Copeland: How would you explain that development or change?

Fitzgerald: Both parents being out of the home and a lot of the times the children are at
home by themselves until the parents get home and we have a lot of lone parent families.
Also parents don‟t discipline as they--I don‟t know if I should say as they should but as
they should.

Copeland: Do you think there are a lot of women from this area that started working in
the factories shirt or furniture factories?

Fitzgerald: Yes.

Copeland: Do you think that might have affected the family as a unit as example with the
sharecropping family has both the mother and father there at the same time but if you
look at women who are starting to work in the factories and the fathers are working
wherever would that have caused a weakening in the family?

Fitzgerald: I think it really did if the families had more money they started giving their
children more. I‟m not saying a child shouldn‟t have more. I didn‟t have much growing
up. We had enough; we had love and we [had] plenty of food and clothes. My dad didn‟t
get a car till the 40‟s and we didn‟t have electricity till „48. Now days children have a car
by the time the are 15 when I was working as a secretary some seventh graders were
driving a car to school; they were not seventh grade age. They had too much time on their
hands that didn‟t have a car; they were home part of this time they should have had
chores to do.
40:00 Copeland: If you were looking back on your family saying you came from a poor
family and you have a child today that says he or she is poor do you think it was the same
kind of poor? Were you more poor then people who say they are poor today are?

Fitzgerald: Probably not. We didn‟t have money until the crops were gathered in the fall,
and most of that [money] went toward expense of the crop. There wasn‟t anything to pick
up jobs in the winter time and if something needed to happen back then usually neighbors
helped each other. Now if a family really wants to, there are jobs they can do. The
Futorian factory was the first factory to come in that employed a lot of people. They
made furniture.

Copeland: When Futorian came in, how did that affect the county and communities?

Fitzgerald: Just that people were able to have extra money.

Copeland: What do you think people were able to buy with that money?

Fitzgerald: More cars and furniture and TVs at that time didn‟t a lot of people have a TV.

43:23 Copeland: Do you remember growing up listening to the radio?

Fitzgerald: Oh yes.

Copeland: What types of things did you listen to?

Fitzgerald: The Grand Ole Opry; and my mother always listened to the soap opras.

Copeland: Really?

Fitzgerald: Of course the batteries were kind of commodities I guess. So we had to pick
and choose our times to listen to the radio.

Copeland: Do you remember where a person would buy a radio in this area?

Fitzgerald: Hamilton Hardware in New Albany is where my daddy bought those type
things. Ecru had Framing Hardware.

Copeland: In the community that you lived, what stores were available?

Fitzgerald: Clad Rifkins store which was at the intersection to go to Wallerville. That‟s
where we went to get things if we couldn‟t get into town. It was 4 or 5 miles down the
road. There was another store in New Harmony pretty close to the school house there.

45:00 Copeland: For the larger things you would have to go into New Albany?
Fitzgerald: We didn‟t have transportation but there was a man who had a truck and I
think he did the milk route every other day. He would park at a certain place and would
charge a dime to go into New Albany.

Copeland: He had a bus route essentially almost public transportation. Did a lot of
people use that?

Fitzgerald: Yes, because he didn‟t do it every week. We grew the things we needed
except for the basic sugar and flower. There was a grist mill close by and we shelled the
corn and got our own mill. We had our own chickens and eggs and I remember my
mother going down before breakfast and killing a chicken. It was always a treat in our
house to have fried chicken and biscuit and cantaloupe for breakfast.

Copeland: Was your family when you were younger involved in a church?

Fitzgerald: We were members of Ripken and we only met once a month and we had
revival and suppers. Sometimes we had Sunday school and my husband‟s mother would
pick me up if my parents didn‟t go.

Copeland: Do you know how many attended church every Sunday?

Fitzgerald: I‟d say around 30-35.

Copeland: Would that be a lot considering the size of the community?

Fitzgerald: No, cause the population was probably not what it is today.

48:00 Copeland: Were there other churches Methodist or Baptist around?

Fitzgerald: Now Liberty did not just that one church but Ingomar had a Methodist church,
most churches around were Baptist.

Copeland: Were there things Baptist women would do to serve the church?

Fitzgerald: Women were mostly seen and not heard when I was growing up.

Copeland: Have things changed now?

Fitzgerald: Yes.

Copeland: How has it changed?

Fitzgerald: There are women Sunday school teachers now, and we didn‟t have Women of
Mission back then. Ingomar has had it for several years now. I guess small churches
wouldn‟t have it not having a full time pastor. There were things women would be
involved in. The women would quilt going from house to house quilting and next week
they would go somewhere else and do one.

Copeland: So there was a lot of interactivity between women of the community. Did men
have the same type of interaction or were they more independent?

Fitzgerald: They probably did meeting in the fields or out hunting because people hunted
a lot more back then to supplement meat. Without quilting ladies would pick one
afternoon out of the week and visit a neighbor and stay all afternoon. That goes back to
more modern conveniences and not going to visit our neighbor anymore.

51:00 Copeland: One of the women that I had interview said that when she hung her
clothes out on the line she was very cautious about how she did it because other women
would be watching.

Fitzgerald: That‟s right you would always hang your sheets out toward the road and other
things behind. You didn‟t dare want anyone driving down the road to see everything
hanging out on the line.

Copeland: How might one woman might look another woman and judge her character
and value? They were meeting and talking but were there ways they were critical of one

Fitzgerald: Yes. If a woman did anything out of the way back then, it was definitely

Copeland: Out of the way?

Fitzgerald: If a woman looked at another woman‟s husband or things said, that woman
could almost be blackballed or shunned.

53:00 Copeland: Do you think that there was the same pressure on the men? If the roles
were reversed and a man looked at another man‟s wife would there be the same level of
criticism laid on?

Fitzgerald: I think it was probably a double standard.

Copeland: Do you think women are more likely to be the guardians of society or
righteousness more then men are?

Fitzgerald: This isn‟t a blanket thing. You probably have some of both but probably a
bigger percentage of women.

Copeland: If you were to think back to the church congregation either when you were
younger or today, were there more men or women attending church?
Fitzgerald: Probably more so back then.

Copeland: That there were more women attending back when you were younger. That‟s

Fitzgerald: Some men didn‟t think it was necessary and stayed home and watched after
the field and momma took the children.

Lindsey: What were the baptisms like? Were they large or mass?

Fitzgerald: Usually it was after the summer revival and we would go to someone‟s pond
out in the community and the cows would stand to one side and the baptism was taking

Lindsey: What were the revivals like and how long did they last?

Fitzgerald: Usually about a week and there was morning, noon, and night services. We
cooked for the visiting preacher and families. There was no air conditioning. [We] raised
the windows and fans were very popular. Liberty church didn‟t even have water inside. I
remember taking water for my own children at Liberty.

Lindsey: Was there electricity?

Fitzgerald: As far back as I remember going to church there they did have electricity.

Lindsey: You said you only went to church about once a month?

Fitzgerald: Right for preaching sometimes for Sunday school

Lindsey: Was your preacher on a rotation?

Fitzgerald: Usually and sometimes they only preached that one service. They had to do
something else for a living.

Lindsey: You had electricity in your house in ‟48. Was that TVA?

Fitzgerald: Yes, and up until that time my dad had made an ice box that stood up, and he
put insulation in it, and someone would bring ice into the community, and we would buy
a block of ice and we would have ice tea until the ice ran out. There was an ice house in
New Albany now where they got the ice. I don‟t know. In the winter time, it seems winter
was colder then than it is now. It might have been because our house was not insulated.
Mother would make custard and hang it out on the porch were nothing could get to it, and
we would have custard and ice cream.

Lindsey: A lot curing and canning?
58:40 Fitzgerald: Yes every thing was canned because that was the only way we had to
preserve it. We raised and killed our own meat.

Lindsey: Did your mother have a lot of egg trading?

Fitzgerald: Yes. There was a rolling store that came by the house once a week. In fact,
this man that lived out here, Mr. Turner, used to do the rolling store by the house, and she
would save her extra eggs in order to get things from the rolling store. Washing, we had a
big black pot and we used lye soap and a rub board and the irons were black and had to
be heated by the coal.

1:00 Copeland: It was pretty labor intensive, wasn‟t it?

Fitzgerald: It was, but I didn‟t do too much ironing with those irons. I didn‟t do too much
washing that way my job was to clean up the kitchen I would help hang up the clothes. I
remember the day we got our first washing machine that was electric and plugged it up
and put your clothes in and had to be very careful [that] you didn‟t get your whole arm in

Copeland: Was that a good technology to get?

Fitzgerald: It was at the time.

Copeland: Would that be something a person might brag about or someone might call and
tell someone?

Fitzgerald: We didn‟t do any calling; you had to go.

Copeland: When did you get a telephone?

Fitzgerald: I think my mother had a telephone, the kind you would ring and everyone
could listen part of the time, but not during my teenage years. So whatever was known
was by getting around to the neighbors.

Copeland: Did word get around pretty quickly that way?

Fitzgerald: Yes.

1:02 Copeland: So were the neighbors pretty reliable?

Fitzgerald: Most of the time it was first hand and one of the things we did growing up.
My cousin lived down the road pretty close to my age and we would get together and
wade this creek without my parent‟s knowledge and wade this creek down to the bridge.
If my children would have done that, I would have died because there were snakes in that
creek. We were fearless then but that was part of our own entertainment. Swinging from
grape vines--we did that at school too when the teacher wasn‟t paying attention.
1:03:40 Copeland: Thank you for speaking with us.

Transcribed by Andrew Lindsey

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