Thursday, March 12, 2015

Interview With Mother

In 1992 and 1993, I did several  oral interviews with my mother, usually as I was driving her back to Kentucky after visiting my family in Indiana.  These tapes laid in a desk drawer until they were recently re-discovered.  They are now a precious reminder to me of my mother, who passed away in 2006. I can turn the on button and immediately hear that soft Kentucky accent with the infectious laugh.

Never one to mince words, Mother was "on stage" as soon as that light started to glow on the recorder and she didn't stop until the tape ran out. She remembered and told me about things that happened when she was a young child, including the names of neighbors and exactly where their houses stood.

Mother was born in 1919 in Western Kentucky where life was hard during the 1920s and '30s.  Of primary importance was providing for the family and families were usually large. As the second oldest in her family of six children and the oldest daughter, Mother helped care for the younger children.  She learned at an early age to cook, clean and do laundry. Mother's mother was of delicate health and much of the responsibility for running the household fell to Mother and her sister. Play time, or what there was of it, was spent with her brothers and sister or with her many cousins, most of whom lived in the Pleasant Grove Church neighborhood of Crittenden County.

All of her life, Mother called her parents Mama and Daddy. Her voice changed when she talked about them. They were strict disciplinarians, but they were respected always. Anything less would not have been tolerated.

When news of a possible war in Europe began to filter to the United States, my grandfather would go to his brother's home nearby to listen to their radio and then would go home to tell his wife and children what was going on. Mother said the news frightened the children as they thought  war was imminent. They got their own radio for Christmas shortly thereafter, but Mother's father was disappointed that there was nothing but seasonal music on Christmas day.

Mother attended Pleasant Grove School through eighth grade and then boarded with her grandfather, Chester Bebout, and his wife Minnie, to attend Salem High School. Mother told how her mother had always said that her daughters could not marry until they were 18 years old so when Mother turned 18, she thought it was time to marry ... and she did on the 25th of July 1937 when she was 18 years and 18 days of age.
There was much more that Mother had to say. She talked about pie suppers at Pleasant Grove, spending the nights with relatives and the childhood antics of my brother and I. There was much that came in Mother's life after these interviews. I wonder what she would have had to say about her re-marriage and the death of her son and second husband.

If I can make one comment about these tapes, it is that I am so very fortunate to have made them over 20 years ago. If you have older relatives living, I strongly recommend you interview them while it is still possible.

Published 12 March 2015, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

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