Friday, June 29, 2007

Petty Interview Part 1

This is an interview with my aunt that I did in 1980. My uncle died last week and he was the last of my mother's generation. They had an interesting life while growing up and worth me recording it. I am making two installments of this. Each will be about 3 physical pages long. It is so long I don't expect anybody to read it - I just expect me to put it here:

Interview With

Opal Petty

Date: 6 April 1980
Interviewer Edwin Hunter E
Interviewee Opal Petty O

E: When were you born?
O: April 12th, 1913.
E: Who was your father?
O: William Elijah Joseph Petty.
E: And what was he like?
O: He was a wiry quick tempered man, but he was a very good man. He was good to the children unless somebody made him mad (chuckling) then we got a whipping.
E: What are some of those experiences?
O: Well, one time Osmo, my brother just younger than me, had started to slop the hogs and Papa asked him where he was going, you know, said something to him and Osmo smart talked him and he just ran out there to jump him and give him a whipping and Osmo; would pick up the slop and run a piece and from where he was. And then he would set the slop down again, and Papa would make a grab for him and Janie, your mother, took it up.....she went there and (inaudable) Papa for a fight and we all got tickled. Mama was having a fit. So Papa took Osmo in the living room and I kept Janie in the dining room and I got some scratches on my face while he was trying to correct her, she was just a spitfire....ha ha. Next morning was Sunday morning and I got up and I looked at myself and saw the scratches and I thought it would be nice if I had a black eye. And I painted me a black eye with ink. (inaudable) didn't know the difference. When I camedown to the table Mama said, "What's the matter with your eye?"
And I said, "I got it in a fight yesterday evening." And he thought he had done it.
And Mama said, "I advise you to just wash that ink off just a little bit at a time." Ha ha.
E: Do you remember Wyoming?
O: Yes, I was three years old, but the biggest thing I remember is hearsay, you know. We went to this little town Cisco. We were going to leave I guess I don't know where Cisco is...
we were going to take the train. And Osmo was eighteen months old and he had a little white suit, he fell in a mud on top. She looked around to see what happened to me and I was coming down the street pulling all these wagons. We took the train and we saw three of four families left from there going west to Wyoming to homestead. Each family had a big basket with fried chicken, biscuits, cakes, and you know, what have you to eat on the train. And when we got to Wyoming, we pulled into this small place town. It was mostly saloons and they rode the horses right in and they were out there when they were unloading our trunks and things. They were having a big fight right out there in front of the saloon, a fist fight. I remember that.....(pause).
E: What else do you remember of Wyoming when you were little?
O: We lived out on the prairie we took up homesteading out there. We lived in town first and we went out and built this I guess it was a one room house I never have figured out just how big it was but I think we had two stoves in it. The wind blew hot all the time. We had a well down at the foot of the hill, what they called in (inaudable). In the winter we would move into town. Janie was born in town. The older kids went to school. While we were in town my two oldest brothers, Wallace and Tom, they and some of their friends cut some blocks outof snow and built an igloo. And built a fire inside to keep warm.. And it melted down on them. Ha ha. And then we moved back out, going back to the Prairie. He come back into town to get us and I had the measles. They moved in the wagon of course, it was twenty four miles from town. They made me lay down in the wagon with my head covered up, because the Sun was suppose to ruin your eyes. Of course, they boys would say, "Look at that antelope look at that rabbit " And of course, it was driving me crazy be cause I couldn't see. But we had a real good time. We stayed out one winter and Papa and some of the other people around....Papa gave them the land and they built a schoolhouse ....... it was on our property....a one room schoolhouse. There were eleven in school. I was the youngest. Osmo didn't go to school, he wasn't old enough.. And they hired a school teacher. She was about seventeen. They had to pay her because they didn't pay for having school teachers out that way. She would come in take up time on the book had a clock there and she left us in the hands of my oldest sister, tell us when to go home and she brought a Victrola over there and she brought a sack of candy everyday and we just played over there and played that Victrola. Ha ha. But they found about that and fired her. But, I don't know, we had a real good time. The boys all rode horses. We had horses. We raised sheep. We had a few sheep, but we raised corn, potatoes, and wheat. And when it come thrashing time all the ranchers around, they would come and thrash when the thrasher would come to your house, and all the other people then would go to another house where the thrasher would go.
One time while we were living there, it was in the summer time, here come this covered wagon through, there were about three covered wagons and they stopped and they had guns and all and they demanded that Mama cook them something to eat. one of them said that he was Jesse James' cousin. I don't know if he was or not. But Papa sat up all night and Mama had a sack of beans there that the cat had peed on...ha ha....and she cooked those beans. And we got snickering about going to eat those beans. Those guys camped out there in their wagons but they rode around the house all night. They left the next morning.
E: Did they harm anyone?
O: No. They never did hurt anybody. But, he didn't know what they might. He sat out there all night with a shotgun. One winter when we stayed out, he thought he had put in enough provisions, groceries and things, to last, but around Christmas time we ran out of groceries. He could go and carry coal on his back because there was a coal mine right close to us. He just go out there and dig coal so we had coal. He went in to get more supplies, groceries, and to get Santo Clause for us, Christmas, and it came a blizzard and he couldn't get back out. Well, it came Christmas Day and we didn't have anything to eat but some dried beans without seasoning in them and Mama had one egg. She made us a one egg cake. And then she carried us over to the schoolhouse and we played some records. So, that was our Christmas Day. When the blizzard let up the neighbors rode horseback over there to bring us something to eat because they knew we were out of groceries. But I don't remember being all that hungery.
E: Didn't y'all leave because your father was sick?
O: Yes, the doctors said to go to a different climate. He had contacted T.B. from being out in the weather so much. One of the neighbors had a brother that lived in Virginia. So, we sold the place and went to Virginia. You see, where we lived out in Wyoming there weren't any threes. You could see somebody coming from miles around. Just like a a speck. We didn't have fruit that grew on trees. We had fruit but they came in boxes. We got to Virginia when all them trees and berries and all kinds of fruit and we rented this place
E: Where in Virginia?
O: Dellyon, Virginia. Just a small place, we went wild. We weren't use to all that free fruit like that. And then we all got sick, naturally. Then he bought this old colonial home. It set off the road. It looked like one of these you see in the movies. Colonial Style house. Two storied house. It had this big spacious front yard with the driveway with the lawn on either side. He plowed up the front yard and planted it in tobacco. Ha ha. We went to school. Arthur Goldfield was the name of the school we went. A lot of black people lived around there. Their school was further on from ours. When we would get out of school we would go and ____inaudible ____ ______inaudible______ and take a nail and punch holes in it. We would take those lids and lay in the ditch and wait for the blacks to come by and jump up for a fight and rake that down their arms and legs. Wasn't that mean? So we got a whipping when they caught up with us. The blacks come and told it. That is where Roy was born, in Virginia.. Now, Janie was born in Wyoming. The neighbor kids told us that house was haunted. Said there were ghosts down in the basement. I wouldn't go down there. Roy said he went through there a couple of years ago and said the house was still there. Said it was awful run down. Then we left there Papa decide to come back to Georgia. So, we done that. He put Mama and all us kids on a train, and come to Crandal where Grandma lived and he, Wallace, and Tom came through on a covered wagon. It took them about three or four weeks to come through. Wallace and Tom said they had a real good time. When we got there Wesley met us at the railroad track, at the railroad station and he had a surrey. Do you know what a surrey is?
E: A horse and buggy?
O: It is a two seater buggy with fringe around it ... its takes two horses to pull it. They used to have those around all the time. I thought that was so fine you know ... when we got there at Grandma's she was showing everybody where to sit at the table and we got ready to sit down she had an epileptic seizure, but we didn't know it, us kids didn't. She fell out with one of them and scared Osmo and me half to death. We ran outside and would not come back in. I was always afraid of her from then on. But he rented this house over on the river. We still didn't have much to eat there. We were trying to get started. We got out there to help him on the house. We sat down to eat and we didn't have much for lunch that day but _______inaudable_____ brought their lunch. They were sitting on the porch eating and we would say, "Pass the chicken....pass the....", you know, just different things .... we did have next to nothing...ha ha. Then he went to Cohutta and took over this Mr. Bryant had a dairy over there I believe... had over twenty cows and Papa was going to manage it for him. We had to get up at three o'clock in the morning to milk the cows then we had to go to the field and work and then we had to come in before dark and milk the cows again. The milk had to be at the depot by seven o'clock in the morning. I know when we started to school up there in Cohutta (chuckle) there was a crowd of us...haha...People would ask me first one of them would come up and said something and then they would say, "Who was that?"
And I would say, "That's my brother" or "That's my sister".
Somebody said, "You sure got a lot of brothers and sisters".
And I said, "Well, they are not all my brothers and sisters, part of them are my half brothers and half sisters."
And they would say, "Which ones are your half brothers and sisters?" And I picked out the ones I didn't like right then and made them my half brother or half sister. Ha ha.
E: Did you know Jane Petty's husband?
O: Daniel? No, he died when I was a baby. He had red hair, he died the year I was born.
E: Thomas Jefferson Ridley?
O: That was Mama's father. He died
E: 1939.
O: I was working in Summerville then I guess.
E: Do you remember anything about him?
O: Well, in his early days he was a big drunkard. When Grandma died he married this old maid schoolteacher. She wore high neck dresses. And she fussed at Mama all the time because her dresses were so short. She said her girls would't be worth nothing because she went around half naked all the time. But she left him before he died.
E: What was her name?
O: Dorothy...Dillingham. I believe that is right. Look in your book and see.
E. I don't have it. Didn't he have a farm on a river up there?
O: Yeah. He had a farm up there on a river. It was right out of Dalton...closer to Chatsworth I guess. Because we were up there one year in the rental house.
E: On his property?
O: Yes.
E: When y'all just came in from Virginia?
O: No, just before we bought that place in Cohutta.
E: I heard your Grandpa Ridley was cranky. Is that right?
O: Yeah. He had all kinds of fruit trees...apples, peaches, plums, also grapes. He would not let us touch them or anything. He made wine out of the grapes.
E: For himself, or to sell?
O: For himself. He wouldn't let us touch them but we would sneak off and pick them. He caught us. He didn't like it. He would fuss about it, tell on us....but we didn't let him catch us many times.
E: Do you know anything about the Pullen Family?
O: Yes. Which ones do you want to know about? Some of them I know about, some I don"t.
E: Thomas Jefferson Ridley's wife was Maryetta Pullen. Her mother was Frances Bookout and her father was Greenville Pullen.
O: Frances. that's part of Mama's name. Viola Frances. That is where she got her name..



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interviewing her was a smart thing. I have my grandma's journal from 1977, and it is very valuable. Also, now that you have posted it on your blog, people can google it. Usually once i write about something it takes several months, but people will begin to find it.

5:24 AM  
Blogger kenju said...

eddie, I am impressed that you transcribed all this. It is interesting reading. My dad went out west in the 30's after the crash, when he couldn't find a job. He hoboed all over the mid-west and west on trains with a friend and his brother. He told some great stories about it, but in the 50's-60's - no one thought to write it down or tape him. It is really too bad!

10:55 AM  
Blogger ET said...

I still have part II of the interview to put up and I am considering putting up my mother's and my father's interview up.
Mama gets more in a rage when she talks about her father - so, I am considering letting sleeping dogs lie, so to speak.

That period of American history - the generation before our generation, is impressive to me - the things they did and the things they did without.

11:09 AM  
Blogger Bird said...

very reminiscent of hipster's mother. she would be 98 or 99 (bad me, i forget!) this year. you would have loved her. she was one of my heroes.

3:43 AM  
Blogger ET said...

It is nice to see a woman who marches to her own drum unlike the mass produced Stefford Wives.

7:33 AM  

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