Nannie Estridge White

This collection began with the Kentucky Oral History Commission’s effort to establish oral history programs in each of the state’s 120 counties. County libraries worked with local volunteers to collect interviews. Since 1987, county oral histories have been generated primarily by recipients of technical assistance grants from the commission that provide training and equipment to volunteer interviewers. Interviews donated by independent researchers are also included. Original collection held at Kentucky Oral History Commission/Kentucky Historical Society.  Access copies available at Lincoln County Public Library. Authorization must by granted by KHS to use or publish by any means the archival material to which the Society holds copyright.

LINCOLN COUNTY ORAL HISTORY INTERVIEW 

NANNIE ESTRIDGE WHITE INTERVIEWED BY LIBBY FRAAS 

JUNE 29, 1978 

 

TAPE ONE, SIDE ONE


 

TAPE ONE, SIDE ONE 

Ms. Fraas: The following is a non-rehearsed interview with Nannie White by Libby Fraas of the Kentucky Oral History Commission.  This interview was conducted at Mr. and Mrs. White’s home near Crab Orchard in Lincoln County Kentucky on June 29, 1978 at approximately 3:00 o’clock in the afternoon. 

(tape goes off, then back on) 

Mrs. White: My family were mountain people from Clay County and my father wanted to better himself.  He was a stock trader ( ).  And, he came down here in 1918 and bought this place up on the corner where they’re getting ready to build a new house, because it was better than living in Clay County.  And, when we came, my brother and I were the only members of the family, we’d never seen cars, except we saw…we’d seen one car at the annual fair in Jackson County, that charged people to ride them around in it. [laughter] And, we’d never seen cars until we moved down here [laughing] and every time we heard a car, we’d run to the windows [laughing] to look out to see the cars.  And, then, too, we were here during the flu epidemic that took so many lives and we always ran to the windows to see the horse drawn hearses pass.  And, not being here very long, we didn’t know who was dead, but we were just fascinated by the sight of that shining hearse pulled by beautiful horses with the undertaker driving, with someone sitting up there with him.  And, there would probably be a few buggies following along behind the hearse, which was going to the graveyard. 

Ms. Fraas: Did you ever come down with the flu, or anyone in your family? 

Mrs. White: No, we didn’t have the flu.  The schools closed.  We went to the little rural school up here, Walnut Flat, and we were in session about two months when our teacher, who was a man, was told that he had to get into something besides teaching or go to the Army.  So, he quit.  So, they found a woman to take over the school.  And, the flu epidemic became so severe, they closed the schools so it wouldn’t spread.  So, we got very little schooling that year.  We moved…we didn’t stay down here very long.  We moved to Indiana.  My father didn’t like that kind of life up there, so we came back and bought near the old home, which is that tall white house down there, and I entered this Walnut Flats School in the 8th grade.  At the end of the year, took the 8th grade examination which was prepared by the superintendent, and passed.  Then, the next year, I went to Stanford to enter high school.  And, my brother, who was in the 7th grade, and I drove an old flea bitten gray horse, who was gentle, to a buggy, to get to school. 

Ms. Fraas: Everyday? 

Mrs. White: Everyday; zero weather, hot weather…I remember sometimes it got so warm in September, that school would close a day or two, it was just so hot to get there.  There was just a lot of buggies. 

Ms. Fraas: How long did it take you in the horse and buggy? 

Mrs. White: I [laughter] it didn’t seem long to us, but we were in an old…my father started us out in an old second-hand buggy, which broke down pretty often.  And, we’d leave it in the shop at Roland and walk all the way to Stanford.  We thought nothing of walking that two miles to the high school, and then walk back that night to pick up the repaired buggy and come on home.  My father got tired of that, so he went to Danville and bought us an Arnold Buggy, which was manufactured by the Arnold Buggy Company, for $125.00.  Well, we still had that old ugly gray horse, but he was gentle and safe.  And, we drove until we went into an automobile.  And, we always took some of the neighbor children with us.  After you got into high school, you had to get your own transportation to school.  And, we’d always have one person riding in the buggy with us, which was a pretty tight fit in that buggy, too.  Buggy seats weren’t very wide. 

Ms. Fraas: What…. 

Mrs. White: Whenever we went into the car, we always had a carload of hauling.  And, some of the boys rode horseback and they would follow along behind the buggy. 

Ms. Fraas: Where did you keep the horse when you were at school? 

Mrs. White: At Stanford, they had stables to stable those horses, at the Stanford  High School.  The janitor took care of the…some girls drove in alone, and the janitor took care of their horses.  But, if you had a brother, he took care of it.  And, you took feed along to feed those horses at noon.  And, then, later when most people went to driving cars, they even built sheds to shelter the cars [laughter] from the sun and the rain…open on one side…for the cars.  Mrs. Matheny was one of the teachers down there.  After I graduated from Stanford, I went to Berea one year, took a teachers’ course, which enabled me to teach after 32 hours of college work; came back and taught up here at Walnut Flat.  When I started to teach, there was nothing in the school room, except old carved up double desk, potbellied stove, a recitation bench, and a homemade teacher’s desk of walnut that I would give anything to have now.  And, you…but, fortunately, at Berea, I had taken student teaching that summer and the teacher had required us to make a lot of material to use, game…flash cards, games of flash cards and so on.  So, we had a pie supper, and if we sold enough pies to bring in $10.00 we thought we were doing well, to buy equipment for the school. 

Ms. Fraas: You and who else? 

Mrs. White: I was the only one.  I had all eight grades. 

Ms. Fraas: Uh huh (yes). 

Mrs. White: They usually, though, would teach the sixth grade one year, the 5th the next, and 7th grade one year and 8th the next.  It made it hard on a child to skip from the 6th grade the year they taught the 8th grade and leave off the 7th grade. 

Ms. Fraas: How many children were going to the school when you first taught there? 

Mrs. White: There weren’t too many; about twenty.  We had no water, except what the children carried in a bucket from a spring in a farmer’s field across the way.  And, it was quite a…it was fun for the children to get permission to go get water, because they got out of school.  The school superintendent and his board furnished us a water bucket, a dipper, a broom and some used oil to put on the floor to keep down the dust. 

Ms. Fraas: Just sprinkle oil on the floor? 

Mrs. White: Just poured it on and rubbed it in with an old mop or broom. 

Ms. Fraas: Oh. 

Mrs. White: And, let’s see…oh, yes, he furnished us…they furnished us a little pile of coal.  And, they threatened us if we used too much of that coal…and we had to furnish our own kindling, and we had to build our own fires.  I lived, as I said, up here in this tall white house, before you get to that old filling station.  I walked up that road each morning, built my fire, and my father would take me up a pile of kindling every now and then to use. 

Ms. Fraas: Did you have one stove then? 

Mrs. White: One stove, and a potbelly stove didn’t distribute the heat very well.  You baked if you sat near the stove, and froze if you sat some distance from the stove.  So, the superintendent got a jacket and had it installed, and that helped scatter the heat over the room a little better.  And, as that was during the depression, there were a lot of people who had been thrown out of work up in Detroit, Dayton, Cincinnati, hiking back home…they didn’t have money to get back home to the mountains of Tennessee and Kentucky, and they walked…were walking back.  And, they would go in that school and sleep at night.  Finally, the superintendent had some wire netting put over the windows, but they prised (sic) it loose and crawled in there and built a fire and slept in there.  Many a morning, I’d gone in and found the room so nice and warm because someone had slept there that night. 

Ms. Fraas: Did you ever find anybody in there? 

Mrs. White: No, no, I didn’t.  I had two small brothers, and my mother usually wanted…to protect me, would send them with me.  So, we would…and then later, one of my brothers got old enough to go ahead of me and build the fire.  We furnished our own coal (sic) oil to build the fire.  And, then, as I said, we’d have these pie suppers, which very seldom netted more than ten dollars, that we used to buy equipment. 

Ms. Fraas: Did you have these on the school grounds? 

Mrs. White: At night, at night; and it was quite a social event.  Boy…they’d put a…they’d run girls for the prettiest girl and a man for the ugliest man…. 

Ms. Fraas: {laughs} 

Mrs. White: And, things like that. 

Ms. Fraas: Did the mothers bake pies and bring them? 

Mrs. White: Yes; the children…young girls in the community brought them.  No one cared to buy a mother’s pie.  Boys that were courting would buy their girlfriend’s.  And, if a pie brought more than…oh, I remember one going for a dollar and a half, which was an enormous price for one.  Most of them just brought a dime, fifteen cents; lovely pies. 

Ms. Fraas: The… 

Mrs. White: We… 

Ms. Fraas: Go ahead. 

Mrs. White: We bought window shades with that money.  I bought a cooler, while I was up there, a water cooler, so that I could turn on a faucet.  We had to still carry the water and put it in the cooler, but at least it was a little bit more sanitary to turn the faucet on.  I didn’t permit the children to drink from the dipper, but each one had his own cup, which was more sanitary than drinking from the dipper. 

Ms. Fraas: Uh huh (yes); do you have one of the cups here? 

Mrs. White: John bought it at a sale… 

Ms. Fraas: Uh huh (yes). 

Mrs. White: Which was similar to the ones that had… 

Ms. Fraas: It fits down and pulls up…. 

Mrs. White: Yes.   

Ms. Fraas: That’s something. 

Mrs. White: There was no such thing as a free lunch then.  We had some very poor families in the community, but those children always had some lunch.  But, most of the children had just what they raised on…fried chicken, fried ham, sausage on a biscuit.  Very few of them had light bread.  They brought homemade cake, and during the summer, they brought ripe tomatoes in their lunch, fruit grown on the farm.  And, the poorer children, would have…as I said, would have lunch, they brought, sometimes, fried potatoes on a biscuit, they brought brown sugar and butter on a biscuit.  And, the children from more {  } families would have jam and jelly on a biscuit, like that.  And, I had a brother who was very thoughtful and concerned about people, and he’d always tell my mother…we called our mother by her first name, Laura…Laura, put in something for Gertrude today.  Gertrude wouldn’t take anything from me, being her teacher, but she would take it from my little brother.  So, he always carried her something on a biscuit or a piece of cake, because she would have a…she’d tell me, sometimes, she’d just have dried pumpkin on her biscuit, and I’ve seen her have just fried potatoes. 

Ms. Fraas: How old were you when you taught your first year? 

Mrs. White: Eighteen or nineteen. 

Ms. Fraas: Did your little brother go to school under you then? 

Mrs. White: Yes, I had two little brothers and a sister went under me, and my little brothers respected me, but my sister was a little bit {  }.  She finished the eighth grade quite young, and went on to high school.  But, she resented me telling her anything, but my brothers were sweet about it. 

Ms. Fraas: Where did the children eat their lunch? 

Mrs. White: Went out under a shade tree, or in the shade of the house.  We went down the hollow there to some big sycamore trees behind the old school house and ate there.  During the winter, when the snow was on, we’d lock that old school house and go across the fields and let them skate on the creek and I would go with them.  They…we had students that walked across fields to school, oh, I suppose as much as many as two miles.  Finally, they put on a private car, with a woman driver, to bring in children on the highway, up and down.  But, now, there were quite a few that lived on side roads who preferred to come and cross the fields.  I had one family, during the depression who…whose…who were so poor, that it was told that he took skunks and ate them.  You know what a skunk is, don’t you? 

Ms. Fraas: Uh huh (yes). 

Mrs. White: That odor; I don’t see how in the world he did it, but he…they were so poor that he sent his…they didn’t want help.  They were too proud to take help.  I remember the girl came across the fields, two miles, with worn out tennis shoes on, and what we’d call a raincoat, unlined, all winter.  And, the others didn’t have any better clothing.  She went on to become a nurse, married a doctor, her sister did the same, became a nurse and married a doctor, and one of the fellows…one of the brothers graduated from U.K. and works over there somewhere.  But, they had it hard.  Most children would have just given up.  But, I did have a little scheme to help those children.  I’d say, well, the one who gets the best spelling grade, I’ll give a little prize, the one who makes the best in this subject will get a little prize, and those children always got the best.  And, I gave them fabric, which cost ten cents a yard, and their mother could sew.  She made dresses for her, and she made…they called them bloomers or panties to match. 

Ms. Fraas: What about books? 

Mrs. White: The county, or the state, would get…was furnishing books.  Now, when I went to school, they didn’t.  We didn’t…we bought our own.  But, by the time I started to teach, the state was furnishing books. 

Ms. Fraas: Who was the school superintendent that you worked under? 

Mrs. White: Mr. Espy Godby, who is now dead; Espy Godby.  And, he was the first modern or progressive superintendent that we had.  The other one was just an old fogey like they were all over the state.  He…they had no money to spend on the schools, he didn’t encourage them to go to school, the teachers to go to school to improve their teaching.  I would teach seven months, then go back to Eastern the last semester, sometimes also stay there five weeks in the summer, because our school started in July. 

Ms. Fraas: Started in July and ran to when? 

Mrs. White: January.  But, anyway, our schools were out in time for us to get in the second semester.  We had seven months, when I started, and then later, they worked up to eight months.  I made $58.00 a month.  Out of that $58.00, I went back a semester, and sometimes the summer term, and had no rent money left.  Of course, I stayed at home and had no board.  My mother sold the farm.   I spend almost six years, though, getting through college, going back. 

Ms. Fraas: You say you spent the summers in Richmond? 

Mrs. White: Five weeks, most of the time, because then, they had two summer terms.  I believe each summer terms were five weeks.  And, I think sometimes, they just had one summer term…a little later, they just had one summer term of eight weeks or nine weeks. 

Ms. Fraas: Where did you stay in Richmond? 

Mrs. White: I stayed on the campus.  I stayed in Southerland (sic) Hall and I also stayed in Burnham (sic) part of the time.  Our meals…we ate our meals in the cafeteria, in the basement of Case…over at Burnham.  Mrs. Case was the Dean of Women, and Case Hall was built after I left.  We didn’t have many buildings then. 

Ms. Fraas: You said you went to school with a Lincoln County individual who had a lot to do with Eastern later on, Dr. Robert Martin.  How do you recall him as going to high school with him? 

Mrs. White: He lived on the farm during these lean years, drove in a buggy.  He had an older sister, and of course, he and my brothers stabled their horses down there in that barn.  They went through high school together.  He was a very, hardworking caring sort of fellow; as skinny as you ever could be. I just don’t see how his skin stretched to cover all that bulk that he now carries.  I was in college with him too.  We were both social science majors.  Oh, I can remember seeing him come into that library with his trousers, during that depression, halfway…he’d outgrown them, halfway to his knees, his clothes were too little for him.  He went to Mays Lick, I believe, first, up in Mason County 

Ms. Fraas: He was going to school at Eastern or Berea? 

Mrs. White: No, at Eastern.  I went to Berea one year.  In those days, if you finished your high school year at Berea, you graduated normal and you could teach, because you took some education courses along with your history, {  } math and so on.  And, some of the girls around here went to Berea and some of them went to Eastern and took their last year of high school, which is called normal, and they could teach on that.   But, I taught…I had 37 hours when I started to teach, because I had my 32 hours plus my summer term at Berea.  And, then, after that, I went to Eastern, until I finished, and taught, as I said, in the middle of school.  It was hard to find schools in those days.  Some teachers bought their schools.  That is, we had…each little school had what was known as a trustee, he was elected by the people, and he recommended the person that was to teach in that school to the superintendent, and the superintendent was supposed to hire the one that he recommended. 

Ms. Fraas: Uh huh (yes). 

Mrs. White: And, some of them just ran for the trustees place so they’d make a little money if they’d sell the school to some teacher. 

Ms. Fraas: So, you had to pay off the trustee before you could get a job? 

Mrs. White: Some of them did.  Now, I never did. 

Ms. Fraas: Uh huh (yes). 

Mrs. White: Because my father was the trustee. 

Ms. Fraas: Well, that’s convenient.  Let’s go back to when you first taught.  There was a county superintendent for the whole county…. 

Mrs. White: Yes. 

Ms. Fraas: Or for each school?  For the…. 

Mrs. White: The whole county. 

Ms. Fraas: And, then a trustee for each little individual school?  

Mrs. White: School, yes. 

Ms. Fraas: Do you recall how many schools there were? 

Mrs. White: No, I don’t.  There were just dozens of them.  And, over the years, they were done away with. 

Ms. Fraas: Uh huh (yes). 

Mrs. White: This one up…I suppose the one at Roland, up on the hill, which is now called Calvary Hill Baptist Church, was about one of the last ones done away with.  This was done away…I don’t remember what year.  My sister was the last teacher up here.  My younger sister went to Eastern too and majored in business administration.  After I graduated from Eastern, I wanted something better, because this county was just paying so little, so I registered with Mr. Mattox, who was the registrar up there at Eastern, for another position, but there were none available when I graduated, so I came back here and taught in a two room school at Preachersville.  I was very disappointed, because I thought after I got a degree, I deserved something better than a little old school, so Mr. Mattox called me one day…I had already started teaching, as the school started in July…he called me about the first of September and he says, I found you a place at Lynch up in Harlan County.  Lynch was owned by the United States Steel Corporation and was just an ideal mining town.  And, then I’ve also found you a place, oh, back down there where you live…it was in your county…Finchville, isn’t that in your county? 

Ms. Fraas: Shelby County. 

Mrs. White: Uh huh (yes). 

Ms. Fraas: Uh huh (yes). 

Mrs. White: He said, I’ve found you a place there.  So, I got a substitute teacher, went over to talk to him and the Finchville school paid about a hundred dollars a month, and the Lynch school paid a hundred and ten dollars a month.  And, being a mountaineer, I thought I would fit in up there…. 

(laughter) 

Mrs. White: So, I took that one.  But, it…we had to…we all lived at the hotel. 

Ms. Fraas: In Lynch? 

Mrs. White: In Lynch; there was a hotel that had a hundred and forty rooms.  Several miners lived there, too, the unmarried miners.  And, I took over as one of the sixth grade teachers there. 

Ms. Fraas: What was the school like in Lynch; the school building? 

Mrs. White: It was a stone building.  It just looked like a penitentiary.  And, we were…we had a super…we had a superintendent he was…that had two years of college, but he held his position, because he did what the United States Steel Corporation said; had very narrow views on every subject, and if you didn’t do what his wife said, you were out.  So, I did what his wife said. 

Ms. Fraas: How many classrooms were there? 

Mrs. White: Oh, I don’t know.  I think we had about eleven hundred children.  I don’t know how many…. 

Ms. Fraas: For elementary school and high school? 

Mrs. White: Yes; there was also a colored school that had six hundred. 

Ms. Fraas: This is a coal mining company, and…. 

Mrs. White: Yes, the coal mined there was shipped out to be used in these big steel mills in the North.  And, they had teachers from…we had teachers from Shelbyville…one…I don’t know what her name was before she married.  She married a Sandbroke (sic).  We had several teachers from central Kentucky.  And, the principal from the school happened to be a Mr. Cash who was reared here, and his sister-in-law lives out there in Stanford where the old fairgrounds are in that big white columned house on the left is, as you leave Stanford.  And, I don’t know if I could have endured up there, had he not been so good.  The other man was just so unreasonable.  But, Mr. Cash was so sympathetic and good to us. 

Ms. Fraas: Uh huh (yes). 

END OF TAPE ONE, SIDE ONE 

 

BEGIN TAPE ONE, SIDE TWO

Ms. Fraas:       This is side two of tape one, over an interview with Nannie Estridge White.

(it sounds like something is missing, but this is where the tape starts)

Mrs. White:     ….pulling the buggy, it was so cold that my mother would heat bricks in the oven before we left, then wrap damp coffee sacks around them, to keep them from catching on fire, for us to put our feet on.  And, then, we had an old army canteen from World War One that we would fill with hot water and we’d put our hands on that.  In front of the buggy, we had a storm reaper (sic) that fastened, and in that storm reaper, there was a slit that we could pull the check lines through to drive.

Mr. White:      And, a little window so you could see.

Mrs. White:     Yes, so you could see out.  We weren’t afraid of anything.  I can remember water being over the bridge at Roland, when there was an old wood bridge with loose planks in it, and we drove right through that deep water, and it’s a wonder the planks hadn’t been washed away and we just fallen through there.  We weren’t afraid of anything.  We’d meet cattle being driven through Roland to the stockyards, and we were supposed to stop and let the cattle go on, but we had a girl riding with us, who was sort of devilish, and she hit the horse with a buggy whip and say go on through those cattle, and we’d go lickety split right through the cattle scattering them everywhere.  As I said, we always had someone riding with us.  When we got the old four seater car, without any curtains, we had it full.  My father never charged anyone for hauling.  We just hauled all we could haul.

Ms. Fraas:       Can you describe Walnut Flat again, when you…your first memories of it?  We didn’t have it on tape before, when you were talking about…what you remember about Walnut Flat?

Mrs. White:     About the….

Ms. Fraas:       The community.

Mrs. White:     Oh, we came here from the mountains; it was a very pretty place in comparison to where we lived in the mountains.  The people were all on the same level, socially.  There weren’t some that considered themselves better than others.  When we moved into our home up there, which was…hadn’t been built too many years, the people from whom we bought the place, couldn’t find a place, so we moved in on them.  And, we were so crowded that the people living in this house, being from the mountains, too, invited us down to spend a few nights.  And, it was in the wintertime.  We slept up in this part of the house, which had, I think, two beds in each room, under featherbeds…slept on the featherbeds, and one on us for cover, because the woman had a houseful of company at that time.  Her mother-in-law was living with her, her children were here and some of their friends were here.

Ms. Fraas:       What was the name of the lady that was living here?

Mrs. White:     Bowling; Bowling, and I can remember how good she was to us and what good meals she had and how eager I was…we were for them people to find them a house in Stanford so we could get settled down up there in our house.  And, the same people who live in the old brick house, moved out from town about the same time.  And, the Walkers were an old Lincoln County family.  He had worked in the bank, and she was the only child of a very aristocratic old family and they had two girls and three boys.  And, through the years, those boys and my brothers were playmates and very close.

Ms. Fraas:       Was there a general store or anything in Walnut….

Mrs. White:     Yes; there was a little store over the hill run by…I don’t…a Mr. Wade, and my mother would let us go over there to buy…my brother and I…there’s no traffic on the roads in those days.  A car may be once a day and maybe not that often, a few buggies, and she would let us walk over there, almost out of her sight, to buy cookies.  We’d buy a package of cookies for a nickel.  That was a treat for us.  Although she always made cookies for us, but bought cookies were different.  And, the old Presbyterian Church was torn down right after we moved down here, from the mountains.

Ms. Fraas:       Where was it?

Mrs. White:     Right up here.

(at this time, the tape goes off, then back on, and the following is heard)

Mrs. White:     In syrup buckets.

Ms. Fraas:       What’s a syrup bucket?

Mrs. White:     Some of the families brought Karo syrup and peanut (sic) syrup…peanut syrup is a maple flavored-like syrup in half gallon and gallon buckets.  Some of the families were so large that the mothers couldn’t put up enough preserves and jelly, and they’d buy syrup.   Some of them just liked syrup over hot biscuits.  Anyway, I remember one boy that came to Walnut Flats and picked up a syrup bucket one morning thinking it was his lunch, and when he opened it up, it was half full of Karo syrup.  We had an old tongue tied boy there that said {   } we’d eat that syrup.

(laughter)

Mrs. White:     If a child forgot his lunch in those days, each child would give him something from his lunch.  Some child might give a piece of fruit, another a biscuit, chicken, another a piece of cake.  They all…they shared, and very seldom did the poorest come without something.

Ms. Fraas:       Did you have to discipline the children, or how did you make them mind?

Mrs. White:     I was always (laughter)…I guess I was always considered a mean teacher.  I always believed in firm discipline.  I paddled.  I have a paddle left from my last days of teaching in Junior High here at Crab Orchard, upstairs.  I paddled.  I took privileges from them.  But, they weren’t really mean.  Some of them didn’t deserve those paddlings I gave them.  But, I was strict on them.  But, my mother was always…my mother was afraid that some big old boy would knife me.  Boys usually carried knives.  Most teachers had rules against bringing a knife to school, afraid that they would get angry with each other and knife each other.  My mother was always afraid that I would get knifed because I was such (laughter) a firm disciplinarian.

Ms. Fraas:       Did your students ever play tricks on you?

Mrs. White:     No, not many times.  We always had Christmas programs, Thanksgiving and Halloween programs and that was something new.  The old teacher never had anything like that.  The children enjoyed that and the families enjoyed coming to see them in their Christmas activities or anything we put on.  And, our children…I’m proud of my children, I have some that went to the penitentiary, but most of them made good citizens.  I have preachers, dentists, doctors, businessmen, just men of every profession who have gone to these little schools; quite a few successful farmers, and some of these farmers, you know, are worth a million dollars now.

Ms. Fraas:       What was your father’s name?

Mrs. White:     Marion, M-a-r-i-o-n, James Marion, and one of my little brothers that went with me, his name is James Marion.

Ms. Fraas:       Do you know where…you said he lived in….

Mrs. White:     He came….

Ms. Fraas:       Jackson County?

Mrs. White:     He was from Jackson County.  We lived right on the edge of Jackson and Clay County when we moved down here.  And, I never saw a movie, let’s see, until I was about eight years old, after we moved down here.  Some of our friends who lived across the road from us there in Clay County came down to visit us.  In the meantime, this young man had made a pharmacist and was running a drugstore at Manchester, and he and his wife came down to see us.  They rode the train from London and my father met them in a buggy in Crab Orchard.  And, while they were here…they had no movies at Manchester then, they wanted to go to movie here at Stanford.  So, they took me with them.  And, oh, I thought that was a treat.  They were silent movies, and someone sat up there in the front of the…we called it the opera house, and played the piano.

Ms. Fraas:       Was this Walton’s Opera House?

Mrs. White:     Yes; uh huh (yes); someone would play the piano for background music and then after the movie they took me to the drug store and we had ice cream.  They hung a lantern on the buggy so’s if a car should come along it wouldn’t run into us.  And, I don’t suppose I saw a movie after that until I went to college.  I think Ben Hur was the first thing I saw after that at Berea.  And, you know how dull Ben Hur…Ben Hur, though, has been updated since then…since it first…I mean, since it first came out, you know, in black and white.  I’ve seen it since then and enjoyed it more.  When we were at Berea, we had to go to Chapel three times a week and we had to attend cultural events.  And, I didn’t have much background, but I learned to appreciate the music and good programs that they put on.

Ms. Fraas:       How long did you teach at Lynch?

Mrs. White:     Four years.

Ms. Fraas:       How many teachers were teaching….

Mrs. White:     At Lynch?

Ms. Fraas:       Uh huh (yes).

Mrs. White:     I have no idea.  We had a lot of them.  We had about two teachers for each grade.  That would have been…through the eighth, that would have been sixteen, wouldn’t it.  And, I just have no idea how many we had.

Ms. Fraas:       How old was the school when you started teaching there?

Mrs. White:     It hadn’t been there too many years, because some of our neighbors who lived with us in Clay County, when we left there in 1918, were living in Lynch.  They’d gone there when…I’d imagine it opened in about 1918.  Then, right below Lynch is Benham (sic), which is owned by International…was it International Harvester Company…Lynch…and, then, right below that was Cumberland, which has a community college operated by the University of Kentucky.

Ms. Fraas:       Were you primarily teaching the children of the miners or the children of….

Mrs. White:     And officials, too.  Oh, I tell you, those people were so different from what…they were more worldly.  They had seen more of the world.  Those miners made big salaries in those days.  For those days, they made big salaries.  And, the officials were from all over the country.  Harry Moses was the President of the company then and when he came in, he ate in the dining room with us, and he was just as friendly and nice to us.  And, those officials, and those people in administrative positions were very cultured, traveled a lot, knew…and their…they wanted…we had a world of foreign people up there.  We had them from Czechoslovakia…one of my co-workers in the sixth grade was from Czechoslovakia, which was in existence then.  I don’t think there is any Czechoslovakia today.  And, we had a lot from Poland, Italy, Hungarian, we had some from Mexico and there were a…there was a lot of blacks from Alabama.  They had come from Birmingham.  That’s steel center down there.

Ms. Fraas:       Did the blacks go to a separate school?

Mrs. White:     They went to a separate school.  They had about six hundred down in that school, and we had, if I’m not mistaken, about eleven hundred.

Ms. Fraas:       Did the blacks have black teachers?

Mrs. White:     Yes, everything was segregated then.

Ms. Fraas:       Uh huh (yes).

Mrs. White:     Of course, I left there in 1940.

Ms. Fraas:       When they worked in…did you visit the mines?

Mrs. White:     Yes, I did.  I didn’t want to leave there without…and several of the teachers didn’t either, without going through the mines.  So, one Sunday when the workers were all out, the assistant superintendent of the mines, whose children I had, got in one of those little electric cars and hooked on some behind his car, and put as many teachers in there as he wanted to, and we spent a whole morning going through those tunnels.  He said there were forty miles of tunnels then.  There was no stripping of coal then.  It was all underground.  And, he took us through those mines, through that mine, and part of the worked out mine, was used as a reservoir to supply the city with water.  And, they tapped…it went und…those tunnels went under the mountain, which is Black Mountain, it went under the town, went under the creek, there was a fast flowing clear stream of water that flowed through that town.  You could hear it at night it just made so much noise.

Mr. White:      The Cumberland River.

Mrs. White:     No, it wasn’t called a river, it was Poor (sic) Fork.

Mr. White:      Well, it was Poor Fork of the Cumberland.

Mrs. White:     It’s a branch of the Cumberland River.  And, they tapped that creek and it was…it wasn’t polluted like they are now, and let the water run down into some of those worked out parts of the mine, and build a dam across, and that’s where the city got its water.  And, they said the mine went across…said those tunnels went under the entire mountain and came out in another county near Whitesburg, but it was closed.  We couldn’t get out on that side.  We had to come back over the same route that we traveled going through it.

Ms. Fraas:       Did you ever hear about any accidents in….

Mrs. White:     There were none there, but they said there had been some before and they said it was a terrifying thing to hear of a mine accident, to see all the mothers and the sisters gathered at the entrance of the mine waiting to see if their husband or brother would be among those killed.  They said the first one that was always to reach a mine would be the Catholic Priest.  The biggest church there was a Catholic Church, and we went to the Community Church, which was pastored by a Methodist Preacher.  Then, there was a Baptist Church in the lower end of town.  But, the Catholic and the Community Church, which had a Methodist Pastor and the Baptist were the main Churches.

Ms. Fraas:       Would there…did you ever have any language problems with your students….

Mrs. White:     No….

Ms. Fraas:       Being from these….

Mrs. White:     Never….

Ms. Fraas:       Different backgrounds?

Mrs. White:     They talked in their own…in the home, I understood they used their own language, but not at school.  And, most of them were very musical.  And, when the colored people had a funeral, they had a band march, and their lodge…most of the colored people considered it an honor to belong to their lodge.  I don’t know what lodge it was, but they all of any consequence, belonged to the lodge.  And, they all put on their lodge uniforms and feathers and loud outfits and they had a band and the lodge members marched in front of the hearse carrying the body.  Oh, they really celebrated.

Ms. Fraas:       The band playing some kind of a march or….

Mrs. White:     Yes.

Ms. Fraas:       Funeral march, or….

Mrs. White:     Well, sometimes it sounded to me like it was more jazz.

Ms. Fraas:       Was there ever any problems between the races then?

Mrs. White:     No, no; and, the ethnic groups had their own get-togethers.  There was a…I understand…I wanted to go to the different boarding…there were boarding houses there run for the Hungarians.  They preferred to live together if they were single.  Most of the people were family…they had families and lived with families, but there were several that didn’t have families and they lived in hotels and boarding houses.  And, as I said, we lived in the big hotel that the Steel Corporation owned.  But, it is gone now.  I suppose half the houses have been torn down.  And, the movie house is gone.  I don’t know whether the big commissary…they had one big store and two branch stores where people bought their…anything you needed, and they had the most expensive dresses, and, oh, I had been giving $2.98 and $3.98 and they had $40.00 dresses, and oh, they were expensive to me.  And, I tell you who bought most of them, black women; because those black men were so stout and so much of the work in the mine was done by hand and they were paid according to the amount they shoveled or the amount they did by hand, and they made so much more, those big, strong black men from Alabama.  We didn’t have many regular mountaineers.  Most of them were foreign and black; {  }.

Ms. Fraas:       What did you do for social activities?

Mrs. White:     Went to Church on Sunday, and…oh, we’d have little dinner parties there at the hotel, and we’d…some of our…they didn’t like for you to go home very often, and they didn’t like for you to have company from the outside, because the United States Steel Corporation had a pretty good size police force there, and if you came in there from the outside, they tailed you until you left, because the town was un…it was unorganized.  A union was trying to organize.  I don’t know whether they are organized today or not.  And, they didn’t want the union to get in there and organize them.  And, anyone who came there, they suspected them of being a union organizer.  And, they’d…those miners were getting more than any town that was organized…than any coal mining camp that was organized.

Ms. Fraas:       Was there ever any union trouble?

Mrs. White:     Not while I was there.

Ms. Fraas:       Uh huh (yes).

Mrs. White:     But, now, there was later, and there had been attempts at organizing the camp before I went.  But…I remember I roomed next door to one big old policeman.  I felt pretty safe.

Ms. Fraas:       (laughter) How long did school run, then….

Mrs. White:     Nine months.  And, here, when I first started, we went seven months, and then it was raised to eight and then finally nine.

Ms. Fraas:       Were you paid in cash?

Mrs. White:     No, a check.  And, during the depression, the school board ran out of funds and there were several months they couldn’t pay us, not at all.  And, I didn’t get…they did pay us six or seven years later.  It just seemed like a gift when that $80.00 check came, because I went…as I said, I got down to making $58.00, and at Crab Orchard, which was a little town school, the teachers were making $40.00, and they couldn’t pay their teachers and they went into the county system.  She’s probably seen those old catalogs…haven’t you?

Ms. Fraas:       No, not really…I haven’t really looked through them very much.

(AT THIS TIME, THE TAPE IS TURNED OFF, THEN BACK ON)

Mrs. White:     ….Stayed on as…I suppose you would call her house mother there at Sullivan Hall, after she was let…after she got too old to be Dean of Women….

Ms. Fraas:       Uh huh (yes).

Mrs. White:     And, she inspected our rooms.  And, if you…and if she found trash in the wastepaper basket, she’d call you up on the carpet over not keeping your room clean.  They were tight on us about it.  We checked out…you had to be an upper classman to go out at night, most of the time, and even then…well, it was a good idea for us to check out, because if anyone back home had died and called, they’d know where you were.  But, she…but it was good for us.  And, then, Miss Case came along.  She…Mrs. Case was a widow who had two girls, and she tried to teaches some of the social graces, when she had those little teas, and she’d encourage us to go to the good programs.  I enjoyed those.  I usually attended most of them, because they were…they were a learning process for me, because I had never had anything like that here in the country.

Ms. Fraas:       When you came back from Lynch, then, in 1940, did you start teaching here again?

Mrs. White:     No, I went to the University of Chicago, with Mrs. Moberly, who is retired from Eastern Business School.  And, I didn’t like it up there, so I came back and married.  And, then, I went back to teaching in Crab Orchard.  I’ve taught in high school.  I’ve taught in grades.  I’ve taught in the rural schools where you’ve had all the grades.  In the rural schools, we’d let the older children, who had finished their work early, help with the little ones.  They’d take them, maybe, outside and flash those cards, and let them read and help them.  My older children enjoyed helping more than you’d think they would be, with the little ones.  We called each child…we called each class up to that recitation bench, which was an old homemade church seat, and others worked while we were having first grade, second grade, third grade.  Some years we wouldn’t have any in a grade, and that gave you more time to spend on the others.  At the end of the year, the eighth graders would take a county examination to determine whether they were ready for high school.  And, I never did have anyone fail the county examination.  They were always ready.

Ms. Fraas:       Did you administer the examination?  Was it a written exam?

Mrs. White:     It was…yes, it was…I believe that maybe one year they had to go and take it from the superintendent, but they always…we spent more time on reading.  We had writing books and we had a period of the day to write.  We used the Palmer (sic) method, started out with up and down and then do swirls and then they…they learned to write quite well, and now you can’t read some of the children’s writing.  And, they learned to read quite well, too.  This teacher that I had…practice teaching before I started teaching, knew that I was going into a rural school with no equipment, so she gave me a…she’d been teaching in a private school in Cleveland, and she brought down just boxes of books.  And, she gave these girls that were going into the rural schools a lot of story books.  The children, oh, they like them, because they’d never had them before.  All they’d had was textbooks.  There was a library up in the courthouse at Stanford, but it had too advanced material for children.  It didn’t have any childrens’ library.

END OF TAPE ONE, SIDE TWO

BEGIN TAPE TWO, SIDE ONE

BEGIN TAPE ONE, SIDE TWO 

Ms. Fraas: This is side two of tape one, over an interview with Nannie Estridge White. 

(it sounds like something is missing, but this is where the tape starts) 

Mrs. White:….pulling the buggy, it was so cold that my mother would heat bricks in the oven before we left, then wrap damp coffee sacks around them, to keep them from catching on fire, for us to put our feet on.  And, then, we had an old army canteen from World War One that we would fill with hot water and we’d put our hands on that.  In front of the buggy, we had a storm reaper (sic) that fastened, and in that storm reaper, there was a slit that we could pull the check lines through to drive. 

Mr. White: And, a little window so you could see. 

Mrs. White: Yes, so you could see out.  We weren’t afraid of anything.  I can remember water being over the bridge at Roland, when there was an old wood bridge with loose planks in it, and we drove right through that deep water, and it’s a wonder the planks hadn’t been washed away and we just fallen through there.  We weren’t afraid of anything.  We’d meet cattle being driven through Roland to the stockyards, and we were supposed to stop and let the cattle go on, but we had a girl riding with us, who was sort of devilish, and she hit the horse with a buggy whip and say go on through those cattle, and we’d go lickety split right through the cattle scattering them everywhere.  As I said, we always had someone riding with us.  When we got the old four seater car, without any curtains, we had it full.  My father never charged anyone for hauling.  We just hauled all we could haul. 

Ms. Fraas: Can you describe Walnut Flat again, when you…your first memories of it?  We didn’t have it on tape before, when you were talking about…what you remember about Walnut Flat? 

Mrs. White: About the…. 

Ms. Fraas: The community. 

Mrs. White: Oh, we came here from the mountains; it was a very pretty place in comparison to where we lived in the mountains.  The people were all on the same level, socially.  There weren’t some that considered themselves better than others.  When we moved into our home up there, which was…hadn’t been built too many years, the people from whom we bought the place, couldn’t find a place, so we moved in on them.  And, we were so crowded that the people living in this house, being from the mountains, too, invited us down to spend a few nights.  And, it was in the wintertime.  We slept up in this part of the house, which had, I think, two beds in each room, under featherbeds…slept on the featherbeds, and one on us for cover, because the woman had a houseful of company at that time.  Her mother-in-law was living with her, her children were here and some of their friends were here. 

Ms. Fraas: What was the name of the lady that was living here? 

Mrs. White: Bowling; Bowling, and I can remember how good she was to us and what good meals she had and how eager I was…we were for them people to find them a house in Stanford so we could get settled down up there in our house.  And, the same people who live in the old brick house, moved out from town about the same time.  And, the Walkers were an old Lincoln County family.  He had worked in the bank, and she was the only child of a very aristocratic old family and they had two girls and three boys.  And, through the years, those boys and my brothers were playmates and very close. 

Ms. Fraas: Was there a general store or anything in Walnut…. 

Mrs. White: Yes; there was a little store over the hill run by…I don’t…a Mr. Wade, and my mother would let us go over there to buy…my brother and I…there’s no traffic on the roads in those days.  A car may be once a day and maybe not that often, a few buggies, and she would let us walk over there, almost out of her sight, to buy cookies.  We’d buy a package of cookies for a nickel.  That was a treat for us.  Although she always made cookies for us, but bought cookies were different.  And, the old Presbyterian Church was torn down right after we moved down here, from the mountains. 

Ms. Fraas: Where was it? 

Mrs. White: Right up here. 

(at this time, the tape goes off, then back on, and the following is heard) 

Mrs. White: In syrup buckets. 

Ms. Fraas: What’s a syrup bucket? 

Mrs. White: Some of the families brought Karo syrup and peanut (sic) syrup…peanut syrup is a maple flavored-like syrup in half gallon and gallon buckets.  Some of the families were so large that the mothers couldn’t put up enough preserves and jelly, and they’d buy syrup.   Some of them just liked syrup over hot biscuits.  Anyway, I remember one boy that came to Walnut Flats and picked up a syrup bucket one morning thinking it was his lunch, and when he opened it up, it was half full of Karo syrup.  We had an old tongue tied boy there that said {   } we’d eat that syrup.   

(laughter) 

Mrs. White: If a child forgot his lunch in those days, each child would give him something from his lunch.  Some child might give a piece of fruit, another a biscuit, chicken, another a piece of cake.  They all…they shared, and very seldom did the poorest come without something. 

Ms. Fraas: Did you have to discipline the children, or how did you make them mind? 

Mrs. White: I was always (laughter)…I guess I was always considered a mean teacher.  I always believed in firm discipline.  I paddled.  I have a paddle left from my last days of teaching in Junior High here at Crab Orchard, upstairs.  I paddled.  I took privileges from them.  But, they weren’t really mean.  Some of them didn’t deserve those paddlings I gave them.  But, I was strict on them.  But, my mother was always…my mother was afraid that some big old boy would knife me.  Boys usually carried knives.  Most teachers had rules against bringing a knife to school, afraid that they would get angry with each other and knife each other.  My mother was always afraid that I would get knifed because I was such (laughter) a firm disciplinarian. 

Ms. Fraas: Did your students ever play tricks on you? 

Mrs. White: No, not many times.  We always had Christmas programs, Thanksgiving and Halloween programs and that was something new.  The old teacher never had anything like that.  The children enjoyed that and the families enjoyed coming to see them in their Christmas activities or anything we put on.  And, our children…I’m proud of my children, I have some that went to the penitentiary, but most of them made good citizens.  I have preachers, dentists, doctors, businessmen, just men of every profession who have gone to these little schools; quite a few successful farmers, and some of these farmers, you know, are worth a million dollars now. 

Ms. Fraas: What was your father’s name? 

Mrs. White: Marion, M-a-r-i-o-n, James Marion, and one of my little brothers that went with me, his name is James Marion. 

Ms. Fraas: Do you know where…you said he lived in…. 

Mrs. White: He came…. 

Ms. Fraas: Jackson County? 

Mrs. White: He was from Jackson County.  We lived right on the edge of Jackson and Clay County when we moved down here.  And, I never saw a movie, let’s see, until I was about eight years old, after we moved down here.  Some of our friends who lived across the road from us there in Clay County came down to visit us.  In the meantime, this young man had made a pharmacist and was running a drugstore at Manchester, and he and his wife came down to see us.  They rode the train from London and my father met them in a buggy in Crab Orchard.  And, while they were here…they had no movies at Manchester then, they wanted to go to movie here at Stanford.  So, they took me with them.  And, oh, I thought that was a treat.  They were silent movies, and someone sat up there in the front of the…we called it the opera house, and played the piano. 

Ms. Fraas: Was this Walton’s Opera House? 

Mrs. White: Yes; uh huh (yes); someone would play the piano for background music and then after the movie they took me to the drug store and we had ice cream.  They hung a lantern on the buggy so’s if a car should come along it wouldn’t run into us.  And, I don’t suppose I saw a movie after that until I went to college.  I think Ben Hur was the first thing I saw after that at Berea.  And, you know how dull Ben Hur…Ben Hur, though, has been updated since then…since it first…I mean, since it first came out, you know, in black and white.  I’ve seen it since then and enjoyed it more.  When we were at Berea, we had to go to Chapel three times a week and we had to attend cultural events.  And, I didn’t have much background, but I learned to appreciate the music and good programs that they put on. 

Ms. Fraas: How long did you teach at Lynch? 

Mrs. White: Four years. 

Ms. Fraas: How many teachers were teaching…. 

Mrs. White: At Lynch? 

Ms. Fraas: Uh huh (yes). 

Mrs. White: I have no idea.  We had a lot of them.  We had about two teachers for each grade.  That would have been…through the eighth, that would have been sixteen, wouldn’t it.  And, I just have no idea how many we had.  

Ms. Fraas: How old was the school when you started teaching there? 

Mrs. White: It hadn’t been there too many years, because some of our neighbors who lived with us in Clay County, when we left there in 1918, were living in Lynch.  They’d gone there when…I’d imagine it opened in about 1918.  Then, right below Lynch is Benham (sic), which is owned by International…was it International Harvester Company…Lynch…and, then, right below that was Cumberland, which has a community college operated by the University of Kentucky. 

Ms. Fraas: Were you primarily teaching the children of the miners or the children of…. 

Mrs. White: And officials, too.  Oh, I tell you, those people were so different from what…they were more worldly.  They had seen more of the world.  Those miners made big salaries in those days.  For those days, they made big salaries.  And, the officials were from all over the country.  Harry Moses was the President of the company then and when he came in, he ate in the dining room with us, and he was just as friendly and nice to us.  And, those officials, and those people in administrative positions were very cultured, traveled a lot, knew…and their…they wanted…we had a world of foreign people up there.  We had them from Czechoslovakia…one of my co-workers in the sixth grade was from Czechoslovakia, which was in existence then.  I don’t think there is any Czechoslovakia today.  And, we had a lot from Poland, Italy, Hungarian, we had some from Mexico and there were a…there was a lot of blacks from Alabama.  They had come from Birmingham.  That’s steel center down there. 

Ms. Fraas: Did the blacks go to a separate school? 

Mrs. White: They went to a separate school.  They had about six hundred down in that school, and we had, if I’m not mistaken, about eleven hundred. 

Ms. Fraas: Did the blacks have black teachers? 

Mrs. White: Yes, everything was segregated then. 

Ms. Fraas: Uh huh (yes). 

Mrs. White: Of course, I left there in 1940. 

Ms. Fraas: When they worked in…did you visit the mines? 

Mrs. White: Yes, I did.  I didn’t want to leave there without…and several of the teachers didn’t either, without going through the mines.  So, one Sunday when the workers were all out, the assistant superintendent of the mines, whose children I had, got in one of those little electric cars and hooked on some behind his car, and put as many teachers in there as he wanted to, and we spent a whole morning going through those tunnels.  He said there were forty miles of tunnels then.  There was no stripping of coal then.  It was all underground.  And, he took us through those mines, through that mine, and part of the worked out mine, was used as a reservoir to supply the city with water.  And, they tapped…it went und…those tunnels went under the mountain, which is Black Mountain, it went under the town, went under the creek, there was a fast flowing clear stream of water that flowed through that town.  You could hear it at night it just made so much noise. 

Mr. White: The Cumberland River. 

Mrs. White: No, it wasn’t called a river, it was Poor (sic) Fork. 

Mr. White: Well, it was Poor Fork of the Cumberland. 

Mrs. White: It’s a branch of the Cumberland River.  And, they tapped that creek and it was…it wasn’t polluted like they are now, and let the water run down into some of those worked out parts of the mine, and build a dam across, and that’s where the city got its water.  And, they said the mine went across…said those tunnels went under the entire mountain and came out in another county near Whitesburg, but it was closed.  We couldn’t get out on that side.  We had to come back over the same route that we traveled going through it. 

Ms. Fraas: Did you ever hear about any accidents in…. 

Mrs. White: There were none there, but they said there had been some before and they said it was a terrifying thing to hear of a mine accident, to see all the mothers and the sisters gathered at the entrance of the mine waiting to see if their husband or brother would be among those killed.  They said the first one that was always to reach a mine would be the Catholic Priest.  The biggest church there was a Catholic Church, and we went to the Community Church, which was pastored by a Methodist Preacher.  Then, there was a Baptist Church in the lower end of town.  But, the Catholic and the Community Church, which had a Methodist Pastor and the Baptist were the main Churches. 

Ms. Fraas: Would there…did you ever have any language problems with your students…. 

Mrs. White: No…. 

Ms. Fraas: Being from these…. 

Mrs. White: Never…. 

Ms. Fraas: Different backgrounds? 

Mrs. White: They talked in their own…in the home, I understood they used their own language, but not at school.  And, most of them were very musical.  And, when the colored people had a funeral, they had a band march, and their lodge…most of the colored people considered it an honor to belong to their lodge.  I don’t know what lodge it was, but they all of any consequence, belonged to the lodge.  And, they all put on their lodge uniforms and feathers and loud outfits and they had a band and the lodge members marched in front of the hearse carrying the body.  Oh, they really celebrated. 

Ms. Fraas: The band playing some kind of a march or…. 

Mrs. White: Yes. 

Ms. Fraas: Funeral march, or…. 

Mrs. White: Well, sometimes it sounded to me like it was more jazz. 

Ms. Fraas: Was there ever any problems between the races then? 

Mrs. White: No, no; and, the ethnic groups had their own get-togethers.  There was a…I understand…I wanted to go to the different boarding…there were boarding houses there run for the Hungarians.  They preferred to live together if they were single.  Most of the people were family…they had families and lived with families, but there were several that didn’t have families and they lived in hotels and boarding houses.  And, as I said, we lived in the big hotel that the Steel Corporation owned.  But, it is gone now.  I suppose half the houses have been torn down.  And, the movie house is gone.  I don’t know whether the big commissary…they had one big store and two branch stores where people bought their…anything you needed, and they had the most expensive dresses, and, oh, I had been giving $2.98 and $3.98 and they had $40.00 dresses, and oh, they were expensive to me.  And, I tell you who bought most of them, black women; because those black men were so stout and so much of the work in the mine was done by hand and they were paid according to the amount they shoveled or the amount they did by hand, and they made so much more, those big, strong black men from Alabama.  We didn’t have many regular mountaineers.  Most of them were foreign and black; {  }. 

Ms. Fraas: What did you do for social activities? 

Mrs. White: Went to Church on Sunday, and…oh, we’d have little dinner parties there at the hotel, and we’d…some of our…they didn’t like for you to go home very often, and they didn’t like for you to have company from the outside, because the United States Steel Corporation had a pretty good size police force there, and if you came in there from the outside, they tailed you until you left, because the town was un…it was unorganized.  A union was trying to organize.  I don’t know whether they are organized today or not.  And, they didn’t want the union to get in there and organize them.  And, anyone who came there, they suspected them of being a union organizer.  And, they’d…those miners were getting more than any town that was organized…than any coal mining camp that was organized.  

Ms. Fraas: Was there ever any union trouble? 

Mrs. White: Not while I was there. 

Ms. Fraas: Uh huh (yes). 

Mrs. White: But, now, there was later, and there had been attempts at organizing the camp before I went.  But…I remember I roomed next door to one big old policeman.  I felt pretty safe. 

Ms. Fraas: (laughter) How long did school run, then…. 

Mrs. White: Nine months.  And, here, when I first started, we went seven months, and then it was raised to eight and then finally nine. 

Ms. Fraas: Were you paid in cash? 

Mrs. White: No, a check.  And, during the depression, the school board ran out of funds and there were several months they couldn’t pay us, not at all.  And, I didn’t get…they did pay us six or seven years later.  It just seemed like a gift when that $80.00 check came, because I went…as I said, I got down to making $58.00, and at Crab Orchard, which was a little town school, the teachers were making $40.00, and they couldn’t pay their teachers and they went into the county system.  She’s probably seen those old catalogs…haven’t you? 

Ms. Fraas: No, not really…I haven’t really looked through them very much. 

(AT THIS TIME, THE TAPE IS TURNED OFF, THEN BACK ON) 

Mrs. White:….Stayed on as…I suppose you would call her house mother there at Sullivan Hall, after she was let…after she got too old to be Dean of Women…. 

Ms. Fraas: Uh huh (yes). 

Mrs. White: And, she inspected our rooms.  And, if you…and if she found trash in the wastepaper basket, she’d call you up on the carpet over not keeping your room clean.  They were tight on us about it.  We checked out…you had to be an upper classman to go out at night, most of the time, and even then…well, it was a good idea for us to check out, because if anyone back home had died and called, they’d know where you were.  But, she…but it was good for us.  And, then, Miss Case came along.  She…Mrs. Case was a widow who had two girls, and she tried to teaches some of the social graces, when she had those little teas, and she’d encourage us to go to the good programs.  I enjoyed those.  I usually attended most of them, because they were…they were a learning process for me, because I had never had anything like that here in the country. 

Ms. Fraas: When you came back from Lynch, then, in 1940, did you start teaching here again? 

Mrs. White: No, I went to the University of Chicago, with Mrs. Moberly, who is retired from Eastern Business School.  And, I didn’t like it up there, so I came back and married.  And, then, I went back to teaching in Crab Orchard.  I’ve taught in high school.  I’ve taught in grades.  I’ve taught in the rural schools where you’ve had all the grades.  In the rural schools, we’d let the older children, who had finished their work early, help with the little ones.  They’d take them, maybe, outside and flash those cards, and let them read and help them.  My older children enjoyed helping more than you’d think they would be, with the little ones.  We called each child…we called each class up to that recitation bench, which was an old homemade church seat, and others worked while we were having first grade, second grade, third grade.  Some years we wouldn’t have any in a grade, and that gave you more time to spend on the others.  At the end of the year, the eighth graders would take a county examination to determine whether they were ready for high school.  And, I never did have anyone fail the county examination.  They were always ready. 

Ms. Fraas: Did you administer the examination?  Was it a written exam? 

Mrs. White: It was…yes, it was…I believe that maybe one year they had to go and take it from the superintendent, but they always…we spent more time on reading.  We had writing books and we had a period of the day to write.  We used the Palmer (sic) method, started out with up and down and then do swirls and then they…they learned to write quite well, and now you can’t read some of the children’s writing.  And, they learned to read quite well, too.  This teacher that I had…practice teaching before I started teaching, knew that I was going into a rural school with no equipment, so she gave me a…she’d been teaching in a private school in Cleveland, and she brought down just boxes of books.  And, she gave these girls that were going into the rural schools a lot of story books.  The children, oh, they like them, because they’d never had them before.  All they’d had was textbooks.  There was a library up in the courthouse at Stanford, but it had too advanced material for children.  It didn’t have any childrens’ library. 

END OF TAPE ONE, SIDE TWO 

 

BEGIN TAPE TWO, SIDE ONE 

Ms. Fraas: This is tape two, side one of an interview with Nannie White and John White.  How did you light the school building, or did you need light in the school building? 

Mrs. White: There were dark days when we needed light.  We just didn’t have any light.  If we had shades, we’d roll them up as high as we could.  We just didn’t have any light.   

Ms. Fraas: The Walnut Flats School house, did it have lots of windows? 

Mrs. White: Yes, too many; two walls just about solid with windows. 

Ms. Fraas: Why do you say too many? 

Mrs. White: Well, it made it so hard to heat.  I guess we didn’t…maybe it wasn’t too…maybe there weren’t too many, because that was all the light we had.  But, it was hard to heat. 

Ms. Fraas: Did you ever use the coal oil lamps in the school? 

Mrs. White: No.  I can remember going to…the first Christmas tree I that I ever saw in a school was one back in Clay County, and they had ceilings in that two room school taller than this, and the tree was as tall as the ceiling, and they had candles lighted on that tree, about this tall, about as big around as your finger, and they were in candleholders hooked over the branches of the tree, and I thought so many times, what if that tree had caught on fire.  

Ms. Fraas: Uh huh (yes). 

 Mrs. White: There have been happenings of that in other places and everyone’s burned to death.  But, I thought that was the most beautiful thing I ever saw. 

Ms. Fraas: How long were the school days? 

Mrs. White: From eight to four; eight to four.  We had two recesses and noon.  We had evening recess and a morning recess.  We had outdoor toilets.  The boys had one and the girls had one.  And, on Halloween night, they were usually turned over.  And, then, they would have to be put up again.  It was pushed all over, you know.  Some boys was having fun and would push them over.  Behind the school…little school, we always had a coal house where the coal was stored and the kindling.  In those days, no one stole the coal.  Nowadays if you have anything like that and school wasn’t in session, they’d steal it.  But, no one picked up the coal.  If we were cold, we knew we wouldn’t have anymore…not waste it.  I tell you, we were saving it, that little pile of coal. 

Ms. Fraas: How old were the children when they came to school?  What was the youngest? 

Mrs. White: I’ve had them at five.  Most of them started at six like they do now.  Some of them didn’t start until they were seven.  I had one boy who lived in sort of an out of the way place, and he didn’t start until he was seven.  And, his mother told me all that she had taught him, and she had taught him to memor…to multiply Roman numerals, which I couldn’t do now. 

Ms. Fraas: (laughter). 

Mrs. White: I never heard such; multiplying Roman numerals.  She had taken him through addition, subtraction, multiplication, division and Roman numerals and taught him to multiply Roman numerals.  Then, I had some children to start that didn’t…wouldn’t know what…if you’d say, go to the board and make a mark, they wouldn’t know…they…we’ve had some children whose mothers are like some now, they gave them no attention, no time and they didn’t know a thing.  You just…it was a problem to get them started.  And, some of them, like I said, were like this boy, who knew how to even multiply Roman numerals.  His mother had read to him little stories and he’d just…. 

Ms. Fraas: You did have a blackboard, then, and chalk? 

Mrs. White: Yes, we did have a blackboard.  We’d wash the board with a rag. 

Ms. Fraas: Did the children have paper and pencils? 

Mrs. White: Yes, they brought their own tablets.  They brought their own. 

Ms. Fraas: Did you ever act…become involved in politics in any way? 

Mrs. White: No indeed.  I supposed we would have lost our job, if we had.  We didn’t dare let it be known how we stood on any issue.  I forgot to tell you, when I first started to teach, married women weren’t allowed to teach.  Teaching positions were so scarce, that it was said that if a woman was married, her husband could take care of her, and the teaching positions were held by single women and men.  But, later they changed that, so married women could teach.  If you married while you were teaching, you’d automatically lose your job. 

And, they called, instead of Miss Estridge, they called me Miss Nannie, my first name, because I had grown up around here and they all knew me.  I didn’t insist on them saying Miss Estridge.  I felt I deserved some respect, but the mothers initiated the idea of saying Miss Nannie.  And, I still am called Miss Nannie around here by a lot of people, instead of Estridge, as I was then. 

Ms. Fraas: Well, so, how do you think students have changed since when you first started teaching back in 19…. 

Mrs. White: Well, they know less of the basics and they show less respect.  I worshipped my teachers.  I…to me…I didn’t think they could do anything wrong.  And, I think in my first years of teaching, they respected me, because mothers would say they came home and said Miss Nannie said this and Miss Nannie said that and the mothers upheld that, that the children believed that I could do no wrong, and that I was due respect.  But, now, parents don’t do that.  Now, parents are just against…some of them are just against anything the teacher is for.  And, they show you no respect.  Oh, of course, we have some.  In my last year at Crab Orchard, I had some very thoughtful, respectful students, and others didn’t have any respect for anyone.  I’ve seen them stand up and tell the principal they wouldn’t do this and they wouldn’t do that and shout at him and call him names. 

Ms. Fraas: How long have you lived in this house? 

Mrs. White: Eighteen years. 

Ms. Fraas: Can you tell me a little bit about this house?  Who lived here before you did and some of its history? 

Mrs. White: It belonged to the Bowling family, who had come down from the mountains, my section of the mountains, the same…it belonged to the Bowling family, but they had grown old and the mother had died, and the father had it rented out.  And, oh, what a sight…what a shape it was in.  And, I remember when John…I was teaching the day that they put it up for sale, and I told John to go to the sale to show the Bowling family that we still thought of them and respected them and…to show respect, because my family and the Bowling family had come from the mountains, and we both were close families.  And, he came down here and bought it, when it went for much less than they were expecting the place to bring. I remember how I cried, that I hadn’t been consulted when he bought it. 

Ms. Fraas: Uh huh (yes). 

Mrs. White: And, the house was in such a shape.  And, my mother and brothers were all living then, and they talked me into it…going along and moving down here. 

Ms. Fraas: You said the slaves built this home? 

Mrs. White: Yes; and it isn’t one of the finer homes that some of the slaves built, because people just didn’t have that much money.  And, the family that built this, migrated to Missouri.  And, they didn’t like out there and later they migrated to Oregon. 

Ms. Fraas: Why is the house located where it is?  You have a little gravel road running out in front…. 

Mrs. White: This is the road that ran all the way through to the next road, and it’s closed now.  This road…people in those days, they built down along a creek…. 

Ms. Fraas: Uh huh (yes). 

Mrs. White: And, now, if there’s anyone here…I told my daughter, if she ever came here, when they retire, they would like to come back to the country, but that’s far off…I said, Nancy Alice, when you come back here, you go up on that hill, build you a road up on top of that hill and build you a house on top of that hill.  So many people build on top of the hill now.  But, in those days, they all built down low.  It’s easier to build the road.  And, the road that went through here, followed the creek at one time. 

Ms. Fraas: Uh huh (yes); the name of the creek is what? 

Mrs. White: They called it Baughman, but it ought to be Bowling.  On the sign down here, it was call…put up Baughman Creek, but it ought to be Bowling. 

Mr. White: They’ve changed it now. 

Mrs. White: Is it Bowling?  Bowling Creek; this is called Bowling road. 

Ms. Fraas: This gravel road? 

Mrs. White: Uh huh (yes); and it went off…it went all the way through to the next main highway, which is Ottenheim.  No…is that the Ottenheim Road?  And, it follows the creek part of the road.  And, it’s been closed in the last few years.  And, in those days, when this is built, the families were all buried on…oh, there’s just a world…about every farm around here has a family cemetery, but it’s gone back to the wilderness.  So many farmers piled up the tombstones to cultivate the land, or groundhogs undermined them and they fell over.  That’s what happened to this one over here.  Groundhogs built burrows under them and they fell over.  And…there’s just a world of old graveyards around here.  The Owsley graveyard…there was one Governor, Mr. Owsley, that’s up here by this old brick house.  Mr. Owsley lived there.  And, this family was the Davis family, so it was up here by the old Presbyterian Church.  You’ve seen these old flat gravestones flat on the grave, haven’t you? 

Ms. Fraas: Uh huh (yes). 

Mrs. White: Well, that’s what they have up here.  The Methodist Church is the Church of this community, the little white church over here.  It’s a lovely church inside.  I can remember during the depression, they’d have a little preacher from Asbury, who was a student over there, and he would…they would have so little money, that they couldn’t even put in window panes when they broke out.  And, dogs used to go up under the church, because part of the underpinning was loose and stay at night, and the next door neighbor to the church had a pack of hounds, and they’d stay under that church house and we’ve went to church and we couldn’t sit in comfort on account of fleas being so bad in the church. 

(Laughter) 

Mrs. White: But, it weathered the depression.  It doesn’t have a big membership, but it’s always had a good influence on the community.  And, most of the people around here go to the town church.  It’s not our faith.  We go to the Christian Church in Stanford.  Some of them go to the Methodist.  But, at one time, most of the people around here did go to that little Methodist Church, after the Presbyterian Church was discontinued.  The Presbyterian Church was one of the early churches around, but their ministers were so intellectual, they didn’t appeal to the early pioneers and the Methodists were…Baptists were shouting and emotional and…appealed to the people.  That’s the reason we had so many Baptists and Methodists around, because those people wanted…they enjoyed that shouting, and most of them at the Presbyterian Church didn’t provide that.  Their pastors were very scholarly.  And, these people weren’t scholars themselves and they weren’t ready for all that. 

Ms. Fraas: Why did you decide to become a teacher, this time…. 

Mrs. White: There wasn’t anything else for a woman to do, unless…. 

Ms. Fraas: Except get married? 

Mrs. White: Yes, that’s right.  There just wasn’t anything else to do.  And, now there are so many fields open for women.  I liked children and I worked…when I was in school, I was a pretty good student myself, and I just liked to…I liked it.  And, I…I never had a child that I disliked.  I didn’t like some of the things they did, you know, but I always liked children. 

Ms. Fraas: Is there anything you would like to add? 

Mrs. White: No…this is…I wish I hadn’t forgotten this, or I would have had it organized.  I have my little paper that I gave to Mr. Hanson Roberts about my life when I retired.  He got up and read it.  I could have looked it up.  As I grow older, I get forgetful and having so much company and running around with them.  I’ve had a…I lost a mother and two brothers in three months, six years ago.  I’m the only around here.  And, when the family comes in, you want to be with them and you want to do things together.  Do you have a family? 

Ms. Fraas: Uh huh (yes). 

(At this time, the tape is turned off and then back on) 

Ms. Fraas: You took the children to trips… 

Mrs. White: We took the whole…in a cattle truck, to Frankfort to see the capitol, to the penitentiary.  We also…. 

Ms. Fraas: To the penitentiary? 

Mrs. White: It was in Frankfort then? 

Ms. Fraas: How did they like that? 

Mrs. White: It made them think, that they never wanted to go there.  And, on one trip, one of our mothers had a son there, and she went with us.  I remember that she carried a big basket of fried chicken and cake and so on, to take to that son that was in the penitentiary. 

Ms. Fraas: Uh huh (yes). 

Mrs. White: And, she had two little boys riding back…she rode up front with the driver, and she had two little boys riding back there, going to visit the…seeing the places around Frankfort.  We also took them to Harrodsburg to go to the Fort.  And, I’ve taken my eighth grade to go through the jail in Stanford. 

Ms. Fraas: These cattle trucks are just open? 

Mrs. White: Yes. 

Ms. Fraas: And, they just stand up…. 

Mrs. White: They actually hold on. 

Ms. Fraas: Did they have a picnic in Frankfort then, or what? 

Mrs. White: We’d carry a… 

Ms. Fraas: Take the food? 

Mrs. White: Picnic…. 

Ms. Fraas: Uh huh (yes). 

Mrs. White: Yes, a picnic lunch.  But now that’s common.  They all go on trips, but that was very uncommon, in those days, to go on a trip in a cattle truck.  That was the only way to go.  We didn’t have buses. 

Ms. Fraas: (laughter)  When did the first buses start to run in the county? 

Mrs. White: I couldn’t tell you.  Our children were carried in a car…two seated car…that lived on the main highway, as far away as two and three miles.  But, those that lived on the side roads, they still walked across the fields.  We had children back during the depression that only had the clothes on their backs; a blue shirt, bib overalls.  They would go home at night, and, evidently, put on old patched clothes…all children changed clothes when they got home, so they would have a clean outfit the next day, and if they got that outfit that they wore to school soiled, they’d go home and they’d put on old patched clothes and an older sister or mother would wash and dry that outfit that night and they’d wear it the next day.  They had very few clothes.  They were worn until they outgrew them, handed down, worn by another one, handed down, worn till they were in shreds.  When I was in college, I wore patches on my elbows.  I remember I had a black silk dress that punched out the elbows, I patched it, and I was afraid my credit teacher, when I took my student teaching for high school work, would say something to me about it, but she never did.  You’re supposed to have…dress up when you’re getting you’re student teaching. 

Ms. Fraas: You did your student teaching at…. 

Mrs. White: At Berea and at Eastern, too.  I did it at Berea in elementary work and at Eastern in social science. 

Ms. Fraas: Did you student teach at Model or where? 

Mrs. White: No, our classes at Eastern were held at the old University building; the high school was held in the…Model came on later.  Then there was a rural school there at Eastern.  I can’t locate it.  It’s out beyond that hall for boys, or about maybe where that big tall…is it Commonwealth for boys?  Is that the name of one of those tall dormitories for boys? 

Ms. Fraas: I think so. 

Mrs. White: It was out there somewhere.  There was a little brick building that was called a model…it was a rural school, and a lot of students went out there and did their student teaching because it was closer to what they would be teaching when they went back home.  But, after I went to Eastern, I started preparing myself to teach history and the social sciences, and the high school, then, was in that old University building.  That’s the oldest building on the campus there.  And, that new Model school was called the Donovan school. 

Ms. Fraas: The Donovan building. 

Mrs. White: Donovan was president when we were there.  Oh, he was strict.  We were afraid of him.  Oh, I tell you, if you got out of line, when you attended Chapel or anywheres, he was strict.  He was a good disciplinarian. 

Ms. Fraas: Was Chapel mandatory at Eastern also? 

Mrs. White: Yes, and we were assigned seats.  We were checked.  And, if we weren’t there, we were called up on the carpet.  You couldn’t get anyone to fill your seat.  You were there when you were feeling sick, too.  And, at Berea, not only was Chapel mandatory, Sunday School was mandatory, too, and these fine art programs were mandatory.  I developed an interest in those programs.  So, at Eastern, I went without being made, to those.  Back here, all the music we knew, was the music we had at Church, hymns and the old time fiddling that country people did.  So, it was quite a step up.  You learn to appreciate the Messiah in some of those musical productions they put on at Christmas. 

(At this time, tape goes off and then back on) 

Mr. White: ….and then, they would meet, some of the Walker boys and the Gilberts and all of them would meet out there…. 

Ms. Fraas: In this tobacco stripping room? 

Mrs. White: It had a stove in it. 

Mr. White: In the stripping room.  It had a stove in it, and they would take lanterns or something for light, and I think sometimes they would take some food and they just had a regular get together, told wild tales and played and sang. 

Ms. Fraas: How did your brother learn to play the fiddle? 

Mrs. White: By ear. 

Mr. White: Took it up. 

Mrs. White: Just took it up. 

Mr. White: He could play…he could play a guitar, a banjo…no, I never did hear him play a banjo, but he could pick a guitar. 

Mrs. White: He had a mandolin. 

Mr. White: And, he could pick a mandolin to pieces. 

Mrs. White: My mother played by ear, and after we bought this organ, we took it to her house, because she had sent her piano down for my daughter to use when she was taking piano lessons.  And, she missed playing the piano.  She played by ear.  And, she could just make this old organ talk by just playing by ear.  I like to hear anyone who can play by ear.  It sounds, to me, more natural, than by note.  My brother had that talent from her.  Her family was musically inclined.  They didn’t have any formal training, but they just learned it. 

END OF TAPE TWO, SIDE ONE 

 

END OF TRANSCRIPT