Franklin, Dorothy Tape 1 of 1 2/24/00 OH# 295
By Kari Willis
This is an interview for the Mississippi Oral History Program. The interview is being recorded with Ms. Dorothy Franklin in her residence on February 24, 2000. The interviewer is Kari Willis.
KW: Ms. Franklin, what are you parent’s name including your mother’s maiden name?
DF: My father’s name was Samuel Benton Cane, and my mother’s name was Eddie Estelle Thompson.
KW: Do you know when they were born?
DF: Yes, they were both born in 1889.
KW: And their parents’ name, do you know anything about them?
DF: I do. My grandmother had an odd name, Dosha Elsie Thompson. My grandfather’s name was Edman Heishaw Thompson.
KW: Can you tell me a little bit about your parents or your grandparents? How were you brought up in the home?
DF: A very strict Baptist home, there was no card playing, drinking, and no dancing. We went to church every time they opened the doors. We lived together with my grandmother, grandfather, my parents, and my old maid aunt. In those days, people lived together in a big old house with lots of rooms. I lived in Brookhaven. They had lived in the country before they moved in to Brookhaven.
KW: How long did you live in Brookhaven?
DF: Well, I was born in 1920, and I graduated in 1938. Then I went to Blue Mountain for two years. Then I lived there for two more years. Then I met my future husband who was teaching at Co-Lin at that time. After we were married, well I lived maybe a year or two when he was over seas during the war. Other than that I really left in ’38.
KW: How did your parents end up in Brookhaven? Were they born there?
DF: They were born around there. My mother was born in Wesson, and my father was born in Morse southwest Mississippi. It is sort of around Franklin County or somewhere back out that way. They both worked for the post office. My mother attended Witworth College, which was one of the earliest colleges for women. She would have graduated in about two months, but she got a job. She didn’t get her degree. I don’t think. She was extremely smart. She entered as a sophomore. She did well. My father went to Mississippi State, but I only think he only attended one year or two. He didn’t graduate.
KW: Where did your parents go to school? Did you say?
DF: Well my father, he graduated from Brookhaven High School. The story was, and I believe it is true. That he bore his first long pass to graduate. I think he was about fourteen when he graduated from high school. My mother’s family had moved to Brookhaven in about 1901. My grandfather had a gin or grist mill. He had lots of those things that people had to do on the farm. They were out in well somewhere between Lincoln and where Natchez is. It is out in that area, and I have forgotten. I can not think of it right now.
KW: I can’t either. I am not good with counties.
DF: They both came to Brookhaven, and that is where they got together.
KW: So they both graduated from high school?
DF: Yes, and they both went to college. Neither had a degree.
KW: Both did go. One went to Mississippi State. Your father went to Mississippi State. She went to?
DF: Witworth College, it was a Methodist Girl’s School.
KW: Oh I see, here in Brookhaven?
DF: Right, something interesting if you want a little sideline. Janice Wyatt, who husband has just retired Kent, is on a committee that is working to make an art school like at M. S. C. W. One that is like the math and science school, this is going to be more for the arts. She is on that committee. They are working to restore it. It is in bad shape because it is really old. I think it is interesting that she is doing that.
KW: When were they married? When were your parents married?
DF: I think it was 1917. It must have been in 1917 because my sister was born in 1918. I don’t know exactly. I have forgotten the date. It was in February. They said. I have forgotten the date though.
KW: How many brothers and sisters do you have?
DF: I have one brother. I have lost one sister, and I have two more left. There were four girls and one boy.
KW: That is a big family.
DF: It was pretty big. Living with grandmothers, grandfathers, uncles, and aunts and everybody was trying to tell us what to do.
KW: Were you the oldest?
DF: No I was the second in line by two years. The one younger than I by two years, she is the one that has died. Our brother was the fourth. Then we had a little surprise sister who came along seven years after he. She was eleven years younger than I was.
KW: Do you mind telling me when your parents passed away?
DF: My father did in ’57. The year we moved up here. My mother did in 1980.
KW: What happened to them?
DF: He had Hodgkins Disease for about eight years. He had lived for a good while, but finally it caught up with him. He was only sixty something I think. She was ninety-one or close to it. She didn’t have anything that was really wrong.
KW: She lived a good life.
DF: She did. She was one of the most wonderful people you could ever want to know. If we could be like her, but we can’t.
KW: So you grew up in Brookhaven?
KW: Then you went to Co-Lin.
DF: No I did not. I went to Blue Mountain.
KW: Blue Mountain and that is where you met Mr. Franklin?
DF: No I met him back at home. He was teaching at Co-lin.
KW: Okay tell me how you all met.
DF: I hate to say like I am bragging, but he said he fell in love with me at first sight. Do you believe in that? I was teaching music. I was living at home those two years after I went to Blue Mountain. I was teaching at a little country school out from Brookhaven. I was teaching piano. I was getting eighty dollars. I don’t want to go into that. That was sad. He brought his little what we called it orchestra in those days. It was like a stage band from Co-Lin down to this school. They were doing recruiting and stuff. That is how we met. I had dated some of the boys that were in the band. He was a little older. He was seven years older than I was. That is how we met.
KW: How old were you at the time?
DF: I guess I was twenty. I was twenty-one when we married.
KW: So you dated less than a year before you got married.
DF: This is how that happened. He had taught at Co-Lin for several years. He went there in ’38, and now was ’40. His number came up for him to go in the draft. He went to report. Oh they said, “We have our quota. So you don’t have to go.” This was in Copiah County. He being a teacher, and the semester ending. He thought he would go ahead and get my year over. That is when they had to go and do a year. He thought if he went in June, he would be back in time for the next year. He was back five or six years later. The war happened because of Pearl Harbor in ’41. He was in there for so long.
KW: So he was in the war?
DF: Yeah, but he would have been in a pretty bad place. He got in a band. That was lucky for him.
KW: How long did he serve in the war?
DF: He came back in ’46, and he went in ’41. So that is a good while.
KW: A couple of years.
DF: He was over seas only one year in India.
KW: So after you met and got married, where did you live?
DF: We lived in Jackson. He was transferred back to the Jackson Air base. He was in a band. The Jackson Air base was training Dutch and some of their island people how to be pilots. They were extremely risky. They had so many killed. I don’t know how many were killed. They would go and fly under the bridge in Vicksburg. They were just very risky and dangerous. They did dangerous things. Was it Guam?
KW: So he was in the Air force?
DF: That is right, but he wasn’t a pilot. He went over in India. They had to fly over the hump to entertain and stuff. He said, if the Lord lets him get back, that he will never fly again. I don’t know that he did. I don’t believe he did. They used to fly in these old these transport things they sat along the wall. It was pretty scary.
KW: Not something you would want to do.
DF: No way.
KW: What did you do at the time he was doing that?
DF: I was working. I worked.
KW: Did you teach school?
DF: No, I was working. I worked in the Health Department in Jackson for a little while. Then I worked out at the Jackson Airbase. Then I got so lonesome for him. I just decided that I would fly out. They sent him ahead for him to get ready for them to go over seas. So I decided I would fly out there to Los Angles. I only got as far as Dallas. They bumped me. In those days they would bump you know because they had to have the space for necessary people. I then had to go on the train. I had a horrible experience. I didn’t know if he would meet me. It all worked out.
KW: Because he thought you were flying, right.
DF: Right, and I had to call my mother. She had to try to call him. We all just thought it was terrible. Low and behold, God was with us. He was there when I got there. We met. I stayed there for about two weeks. Then he had to go.
KW: So he was stationed in L. A.?
DF: Well he just went ahead. I don’t know what they called it. It was for them to get ready for the whole group to come over. He actually wasn’t stationed there. They were getting ready to go. They went. He said it was the most awful thing on the ship. He wasn’t lamb. It was goat that they cooked. It was so sickening. He would never eat lamb after that. He wasn’t happy with his army experiences.
KW: So when he was in L. A., and he came back.
DF: No, he left, and I came back.
KW: You came back. What was it like at that time in Mississippi as far as the war when he was in the war and you didn’t get to see him as much? Was it a hard life for you then? Was it hard when he was off?
DF: I am trying to think how it was really. I can not remember how long I stayed. Oh I moved in an apartment with two or three girls. That is when I decided I was going out to see him before he left. I probably went home and stayed.
KW: This was before you were married or after?
DF: No it was after. We had been married. I had lost a child. I had a miscarriage. We had been married for about three years before he went over seas. It is so hard to think back on all of this. I haven’t thought about a lot of it in a long time.
KW: Now you have children.
DF: I have three.
KW: You have three children.
KW: They were all boys. What are their ages?
DF: Bill is fifty-three. Jim-Bo will be on March 6 fifty. Bob turned forty-six on December 13. So they are all pretty old, but it makes me feel so much older to say that Bill is fifty-three than it does to say I am seventy-nine.
KW: No it’s not.
DF: Fifty-three, whenever they turn fifty, I always say, “Now you can join the A. A. R. P.” That always makes them feel real good. No not really.
KW: Going back to your childhood. What kinds of things did you do growing up, for example like your family farmed or what did you do on the farm?
DF: No, I did nothing. We were lazy, I guess. I guess we were. There were so many old people living in our house. We always had a cook.
KW: How many were living in your house?
DF: Gosh well let’s see, at various times different uncles and aunts would move in if they would lose their jobs or anything. It was a great big old house. We had room for everybody. No, we didn’t do much of anything I guess. In high school, I played tennis. I played piano. The reason I went to Blue Mountain was I was playing at the Kawinis Club on Wednesday, and Dr. Lowery who was president of Blue Mountain was there. I guess he was the speaker. I don’t know. Anyway I was playing. He offered me a scholarship. I ended up at Blue Mountain. I was always the town goodie-goodie. You know Ms. Baptist. Every time they opened up the door, our family went to the church. We were just around the block from the church. My mother and my aunt, my dad went to, but he wasn’t as into it as they were. Mother and my Aunt Bessie were into it. They were Ms. Brookhaven Baptist Church.
KW: What did you do for fun besides play sports like tennis and music?
DF: Of course, and listen this is kind of sad I think. I played in a skirt. I did. We are talking about when I was a senior. My dad came over to watch us in a tournament. The others had on shorts I think. So he went and bought me some culottes. That year we got to go to the state. I was playing girls’ doubles. My partner and I got to go to State College for the State tournament because we won the Southwest thing. We were pitiful. All the boys from Brookhaven that were at State were over there cheering us on. We were losing like nobody’s business. We were crying. It was so stupid.
KW: Well growing up do you remember anything about in the ‘20’s the depression, W.W.II?
DF: I have a terrible thing I can tell you if you want to hear it. It is about a lynching. Do you know what that is?
KW: You probably will have to refresh my memory.
DF: Do you know what lynching is?
KW: No I do not.
DF: It is killing. It is killing people for nothing. Well it might have been for some reason. I don’t know. I don’t know if you want to hear this or not.
KW: It is interesting. Yes I want to hear it.
DF: Well, I don’t know how it got started, but it was sad that it was started. Two black men were in a garage where cars were being repaired. Something happened in there. I don’t know exactly what. That was during the day. That night, it was on a Friday. We had Bible School at the Baptist Church. At the last night, if you remember, they always have this little program thing and you had to show all the stuff you had made. Most of my family, my big family was at the church, but my old maid aunt and another aunt because their was a baby. I don’t remember whose. It was some cousin. I guess. They were there. We lived. As I said this big old house, and it had a big screen porch. They were sitting out on that. They heard this loud noise coming. They were dragging these two black men behind cars. My folks ran in the house, and they closed the door. We didn’t used to lock doors of course. It went right by our house, and then turned and went right by the church. They took them down to a place called Old Brook. It was an old part of the town, and they hanged them. That really happened. That is sad.
KW: That is really something.
DF: That is so sad. To think that could happen, but it did.
KW: The difference between the whites and blacks back in that time was it bad relationship?
DF: Well we didn’t associate with them, but the ones that we knew that worked for us for about two dollars a week. My grandmother was the best person on earth. Do you know what a tramp is?
KW: Yes I do.
DF: Those men, the Ho-Bo’s really that went around. I guess it was the depression. They would come and beg for food. I am sure. They used to mark houses that would feed people. They came in great numbers. There was an old black man that lived in Brookhaven. He came all of the time. Mr. Brown, we called him Old Man Brown. He smelled so horrible. I haven’t thought of this in so long. They didn’t come in the house to eat. My grandmother would always make them cut a little wood or do a little this and that. She would always give them a big old piled up plate of food. They sat on the back steps and ate. Old Man Brown sat in the front. I wonder why he did. They always fed them. We called them tramps.
KW: You called them tramps, really?
DF: Well a tramp now is a S-L-U-T. They were Ho-Bo’s. They were homeless people, and they had no food. That is sad.
KW: Who of your family members included your extended family most influenced you or inspired you growing up?
DF: Well other than my mother who was perfect as a person can get. Of course they can’t, but she was as near as anybody can get. My aunt who lived. My daddy died younger. That isn’t young to you in the sixties. My aunt was eighty-six, and mother was ninety-seven. They were so good.
KW: Why would you say that your mother was the one that most influenced you or inspired you? Why would you say?
DF: She was just so wonderful.
KW: She was a wonderful Christian woman.
DF: Right she was. She loved people.
KW: That is wonderful. What was the most important thing that you learned at home? If you can remember one thing that your mother always taught you, what was the most important that you remember?
DF: I guess to tell the truth maybe. I don’t remember.
KW: Who were your best friends in elementary school or high school?
DF: Well my sisters and I were always really close. We were pretty much. My sister, who is older than I, she remembers and reminds me of this very often. That one time she was in the third grade and I was in the first grade. I came to her on the playground and said, “Geneva White has beating up on a friend of mine named Billie.” I told her to come over there and do something to her. Stell went over there and beat her up. I think. Then her teacher found out. When Stell went back in after recess. The teacher told Stell that she was going to have to go to the principle at the end of the day. She struggled with that all day. She was miserable. She didn’t make her go, thank goodness. Stell always said that she took up for me. I had good friends, lots of good friends. In high school my best friend was Mary Jo Clark. She was a year younger than I was. We were close.
KW: That is good. Did you have favorite subjects in high school? What was your favorite?
DF: I think English might have been.
DF: When I started in college, I started as an English major and a music minor. When we moved up here in ’57, I went to Delta State. I got my degree, and then my masters. Of course they were all education degrees. I majored in music.
KW: When you got to Delta State, who was president at the time?
DF: Dr. Ewing, after he had been here for a year, he brought Ralph up here. Ralph had a show band, which appealed to the public.
KW: Was it is kind of a Jazz Band?
DF: No, no, no, it was like the shows would be like pageantry. Is wasn’t the drum corp style. We made figures. A lot of them were at night. They had cat lights on their cabs. We used fireworks. We used spotlights. We used all kinds of things. People loved it. They would come for that as much as the football games. They loved the Delta Belles. We had these props and things. When we would have a parade, they would be just packed on the street.
KW: They would perform for every football game. Was it before or after or both?
DF: Half or whatever. We usually had a half time shows would have a theme. We might play fifteen different numbers that all went around a certain theme making outlines. We had some drills too. We would always had a dance by the Delta Belles. I remember one time; we had a girl dancing in a silouhette of a moon. She was the silouhette. We had all these props we used. People loved it.
KW: Of course that is entertainment.
DF: Yeah, Dr. Ewing loved it too. He knew that was appealing to more people than a concert for only two hundred or three hundred people would come. That was it. We went all over the country to parades and half times shows. We went to the Gator Bowl. We went to the Oilers and Gator shows. We went up north to a lot of parades. We went
to Washington, Cleveland, and Detroit. We also do lobby shows. That meant a smaller group. We would go in a hotel lobby or on the street and give a little show. (Tape cut off) The basic thing they wore was white shorts and a turtle neck little shirt. It had Delta Belles on it. This is a weird story that I just heard the end of last Saturday when I went down to Paul’s Discount Drug Store down there to get some prescriptions filled. I said, “Paul I remember the first time I saw you, you were in the fourth grade, and I remember your dad who he used to be a sign painter.” His dad used to be a sign painter. I remember some picture he painted. We talked awhile. Then I said, I want to tell you this funny story because when we moved up here, we had been at Colleen. We have had the same kinds of outfits and they had Colette painted on there. I painted that all on there by hand. I had to paint every one of them by hand, because we were in a poor place. So when we came up here, they were going to be able to pay to get it professionally done by Paul his daddy.
KW: Oh I see.
DF: So I went down there to tell him. I said, “Now you have to be sure, because this is on a strategic place on a woman’s figure. You are going to have to be sure to measure from here to here and here to here and here to here.” It kind of insulted him because he was an artist. He didn’t want to have to think he had to measure. I used to do each one by hand. It would take forever. I would do it all night. He said, “My daddy did it with silk screen.” He said he could do them so fast and just like that. He said he used make my mother hold it up to see if it was right on the shirt. Now I thought, I didn’t know that about his mother having to do that and all. This was Saturday that he told me that.
KW: When you went to Delta State, you and Mr. Franklin were married right?
DF: Of course and I had three children. I was teaching up at Pearman School music.
KW: Pearman School is that here in Cleveland?
DF: Yes, it is that elementary school up on the high way next to the high school.
DF: Now there is a Junior High in between. No it is that round school behind it. It used to be on the highway.
KW: I am not familiar with Cleveland.
DF: It was the only elementary school when we moved here. Now they have Parks and these private schools too. I started, and Mr. Ewing who was the president and came by the house one day, and said, “Why don’t you come out and work on your degree?” I remember very well when I went out there and signed up. Then it dawned on me, that I was going to go to class tomorrow. Those days, old people were not going like they are now. What on earth would I do? The nicest teacher my first teacher was so nice. It was good experience.
KW: What were Delta State’s classes like?
DF: Well when we came here, they were small. It was all small.
KW: Did you live on campus?
DF: No, we lived. No the first year we were because we decided the last minute to come. We had all these big furniture, and we couldn’t find a house that we could get it in. So we lived over on Peaman Ave. We rented. It is now the oldest house in Cleveland. It belonged to Mr. Parks’ wife. She was a Pearmon. That is where we lived till we bought this. We moved here. It was less than a year.
KW: So when you entered Delta State, what was your major at the time?
DF: I majored in music.
KW: Music, did you get a degree at Delta State?
DF: I did, and then I got my masters. I think I was the first person to that finished the requirements for the master because we had to have an oral. I believe I was the first one. I don’t know how they do it now. I finished in the middle of the year. I got my degree in June, and by then six others had gotten theirs. Dr. Jake is dead. Dr. Mones is gone. The only one left in Cleveland is Linda Watkins. They were my three people.
KW: Okay so my senior year when you got your bachelors, what did you have to do? Did you have a senior recital?
DF: No, I didn’t have to have that.
KW: They have that now.
DF: They have to have a recital.
KW: They have a senior recital to graduate.
DF: I remember Dr. Mones. Here I was thirty-seven when we moved up here. So he made me memorize a Mozart concerto only the first movement. He played the second piano. I thought that was pretty mean of him because I had those three children and my husband helping him with the Delta Belles and teaching.
KW: How old were you at the time?
DF: Thirty-eight I guess or thirty-nine. As soon as they inaugurated the masters program I enrolled. I felt like I got a very good education over there. I didn’t think that it was anything easy or given out. I felt like I really did.
KW: Do you know about how many graduated in your class?
DF: Of seniors, no, I didn’t keep up because I was an old woman.
KW: I am talking about in your department in the music.
DF: No, I don’t remember that. I don’t remember anything like that. Here they have had a Demonstration School. It had only a few students.
KW: Was that called the Hill Demonstration School?
DF: The Hill Dem. School, and it was over there where that library is now. There were two dorms on each side. Anyway the kids would be signed up in town when they were born to get in it. It was like a private school.
KW: How many buildings were there? Was it just one building?
DF: For that school yeah. Oh for Delta State?
KW: For Hill Dem. School where was that?
DF: That is where the library is now. I don’t know if it went from one to twelve or one to six.
KW: Okay the college library?
DF: No the college library. It was there. (Tape cut off.) Which displeased a lot of the up adult, which were sending their children out there. He did that the first year we came here. He had done that. They didn’t like that too much. He said it was a waste of money. We were told when we came that the people here wanted Delta State to remain small. It was little clique sort of, they just wanted their own to be able to go there. They didn’t want it to grow that much. Whether that is true or not, I don’t know, but that is what we were told when we came. It started growing, and it has grown. I guess it has kind of tapered off now around four thousand. Isn’t it?
KW: Yes, I would say it is around four thousand. It is still small.
DF: Of course Kent Wyatt who just retired was a graduate and Janice. They both went to school here. His daddy taught.
KW: Okay now when you went to Delta State about how many buildings were there?
DF: Well let’s see. There was Whitfield Gym was here. Broom was here. The Music Department was not. Zeigal was not here. It wasn’t hardly anything.
KW: Was the union?
DF: No, no, no. I don’t know when it was built.
KW: What about Cleveland hall?
DF: I think those were here. Cleveland and?
DF: Ward was here.
KW: I live in Cleveland Hall.
DF: I knew you told me that. I know where that it is. I don’t know what was where the union is. Somewhere along in there was something called the Mill. That was where people could go in there and eat little snacks and stuff like that. The music building was Doolittle. It was right over there sort of where the back of library is. Where the little chapel is that was the furnace or something. Right on around and little bit of the side of the library was a little building called Doolittle. It was the music department. It was very small. Then the Mill was very small. Whitfield was there. That was the only gym they had. This was way back. Do you know who Verner Von Braun is? Father of the Space thing, he came here. They had Delta Council Day, even then. He was speaking in Whitfield Gym. It was packed. It was probably still in the fifties. It might have been fifty-nine or early sixties. I remember that. We let our oldest boy get out of school to come.
KW: What was your church life like when you and your husband were living here? Where did you go to church?
DF: We went to First Baptist. We always belonged to that.
KW: Were you very involved in the church?
DF: Not really. I did as you know had two jobs, but I taught Sunday School. I did not want to teach the same children that I saw everyday that I saw in school. So I was in the beginners department. Ralph never did like to go to Sunday School, but we always went to church. That is what we did. When I was superintendent of the beginners department I would just play for some department.
KW: Did they have the Baptist Student’s Center here?
DF: They used to. Well I wasn’t a normal student you know. I didn’t take part in all of that campus stuff because I was a mother and a married person. Right over where it is now, there was a big two-story house. It was a white old house in Cleveland.
KW: Before the BSU was here?
DF: That was the BSU. That was it. That was the BSU then. They didn’t tear it down. They moved it down on Memorial Drive, and somebody bricked it all up. You could go down there and look at it.
KW: That is something. I didn’t now know that.
DF: Court Street was once a street that had some big old houses on it when we came. That was one of them. It was the BSU place.
KW: That is neat. Do you know who was the director at the time?
DF: The only one I know is Jimmy Brim. I can’t think of anyone else.
KW: I think he has been.
DF: I don’t know how long he was there. I don’t know if he was there in ’57. I don’t know that is a long time ago. He may not be that old.
KW: What made you and your husband decide to come to Cleveland?
DF: Well he had been in Jefferson Military Academy in Washington for two years. Then he went to Co-Lin. He had worked for him all that time. They clicked and got along. He came up here and visited Mr. Ewing, and Mr. Ewing asked if he would come. He came. After he had been here a year, Dr. Ewing was here for a year.
KW: So Dr. Ewing and your husband were good friends?
DF: Well yeah, Ralph. Well Dr. Ewing liked that style of band. He used it as a style of recruiting thing to go around and try to get students. That is why we came.
KW: Were your parents living the time you were here?
DF: My daddy died the year we moved here. We moved here in the very, very last of August. He died on October 29th I remember. After the funeral, we let the children put on Halloween costumes and go around the block.
KW: What did your mother think about you going to college?
DF: She wanted me too. She had gone to college. My aunt went to M. S. C. W., but it was called some kind of institute when she went. All of my uncles went to college back in those days.
KW: Did any of your friends go to college that you went to high school with? Did they go to different places, or around the same?
DF: Everybody, right they went to different places.
KW: So that wasn’t unusual at the time.
DF: To go no. I lived in Brookhaven. The way we had to get to Blue Mountain, which is way up at the very top of the State. We had to go to Jackson or maybe Monticello. There was this train called the Rebel. It would take hours, and hours to get up there. It was hard to get there. Of course none of us took cars in those days.
KW: What did you hope going to college would do for you?
DF: I don’t know. I was pretty much into religion. I can’t say I still am, but I mean. I was in to music. We had a wonderful music teacher. Everybody in our family took from her, and she was our next door neighbor. She was a Jewish woman. We loved her like she was in our family. I used to grieve about whether she would be saved or not. Anyway they had a good music department at Blue Mountain. I loved it. That is wonderful.
KW: Was sending you to college a financial hardship for your family?
DF: Probably, I am pretty sure it was. I had a scholarship, but that wasn’t much.
KW: How much was the scholarship?
DF: I have no idea.
KW: Did it pay for all the tuition?
DF: No, no, it just paid for some little bitsy part. I can’t remember. I probably didn’t even know it anyway. This is the horrible thing that they made us do at Blue Mountain. They made us keep a little cashbook of all the money that we spent.
KW: That is good.
DF: Ha-Ha, you had to turn it in at the end of the month. Guess what the night before, we would fill up our books. We really didn’t do it. We couldn’t keep up with it. We would just put down what we thought. My roommate and I burned our room up at Blue Mountain.
KW: How did you do that?
DF: Once a month they had a formal dinner. You dressed in evening dresses. You were served the meals family style. They had a hostess, and an assistant. So we were all ironing our dresses to wear. Somebody left the iron on. In the middle of the meal, they had the alarm. There was a boy’s school there called Height’s Academy. They had to make a bucket brigade up to our room. It pretty much burned it pretty bad. B. B. Carpenter was my roommate. We had to go and spend the night at the president’s house. We were so scared. We didn’t know what to do.
KW: How long did you go to Blue Mountain?
DF: Two years.
KW: Two years
DF: Then my roommate was going to go to Ole Miss. My friends were seemed to be going to other places, so I decided that I didn’t want to go back. Although I loved it.
KW: You had when you and your husband lived here you had three children at the time right?
DF: Right, but they were all born in Brookhaven when we were at Co-lin. Our youngest one was three when we moved up here.
KW: I am sure that was really hard going to school and trying to be a mother at the same time.
DF: Right, every morning, well the only way we could manage I guess. Well Ralph usually took the boys to school. They had to go at eight. I had to go at eight thirty, and Ralph had to go at nine. We could just kind of alternate. Every morning I would get up, and iron three pairs of blue jeans and three shirts. I don’t know why I didn’t do it the night before, but while they were taking their showers and everything. I would be in there ironing their clothes. Now you don’t have to iron them I don’t think. Part of the time, Johnny Utz. You don’t know him, but he used to teach at Delta State. He may have been dean of one of the departments. They lived next door to us. They would ride with him. He was teaching at the high school in those days.
KW: Do you know Dr. Shubert?
DF: I do, I know who he is, but he probably doesn’t know me. I know he is out at Saint Luke.
KW: Yes, he also teaches on campus.
DF: Yes, I know, and he has all that curly hair.
KW: He has three children. I keep their children often.
DF: Oh you do. Well my really best friend, who has now moved. She was a member of Saint Luke. I don’t know really many of the people any more.
KW: His wife teaches private piano lessons at home. They home school their children.
DF: At times I would teach some of the overflow for Delta State in piano in the summer. I just did that in the summer.
KW: Do you play piano here too some?
DF: Yeah, my whole family is very musical. We have been getting together over at Lake Tiakota. Do you know where that is?
KW: Yes, that is very pretty.
DF: We get together twice a year for reunions. My brother is a wonderful clarinet player. All my sisters play. So we take keyboards. We go over there and have a big time.
KW: My family is very musical too. In my dad’s side of the family, we used to grow up singing gospel music. They were very talented.
DF: We used to get together at mothers at Christmas with all our children. I would take some little books that we had at school, and everybody would sit around on the floor. We would sing Christmas Carols.
KW: Isn’t that wonderful. I love that.
DF: There was something else that I was going to tell you, and I have forgotten what it was. It was kind of funny. Well never mind.
KW: Talking about you and your husband, were they any dances or anything like that when you were at school here at Delta State? What did you and your husband do away from your home life?
DF: Oh yeah, we belonged to the Country Club. We would go to the parties up there. We had a good time.
KW: So you had dances at the time at the Country club here.
DF: Right, but I didn’t learn to dance until Ralph was in the army. He was in this dance band, and the wives would be sitting around. So gentleman would come up and ask us to dance. I would say, “I don’t know how.” They taught me. After I got married. Then I did all this dancing with the Delta Belles. I made up all those dances. I would do it here at home. One of the props we used was ladders. They were made so that they had steps on both sides. I remember making that dance up in the kitchen. I couldn’t get over it without bumping my head. I had to duck down because it was so high and big. They had about six steps that went up and down.
KW: So you taught the choreography for the Delta Belles. That is neat.
DF: I didn’t know how to dance till I was married.
KW: The times that you would go to these parties. What was there to do in Cleveland besides going to the Country Club and spending time with friends and family?
DF: Well they had a Square. Kent Wyatt’s daddy was a good caller, Jeff Wyatt. We square danced. The faculty’s wives would have pot luck suppers and stuff like that. There was always stuff to do. Now I am so busy, I don’t know what to do because you think that you are retired and old, but there is so much to do.
KW: What do you do now?
DF: I play bridge. I go to Bible Study at the Presbyterian Church. I belong to a Widow’s Supper Club. I go to our church on Wednesday and make the tea for our supper. I help serve that. Every day there is something to do. Always something to do.
KW: That is good.
DF: I love it. Yeah it is.
KW: That is good that you stay busy.
DF: I do stay busy. They best days I have are the days that I don’t have to do anything but sit here and be a couch potato with my telephone and remote. I am looking for that when Saturday comes. I have been busy every day this week.
KW: Am I keeping you from anything this evening?
DF: Not a thing. I have some Chicken Salad. Would you like a sandwich?
KW: Not right now, but thank you though.
DF: I made it yesterday. I took a sandwich for myself. I pick up a lady who used to teach at Delta State. She has Manicular in her eye. She can not see to drive anymore. So I pick her up and I took her a sandwich today too.
KW: You are fine. You are on. Were there any shopping centers here at the time?
DF: Not centers, we had stores. Kamiens was always here, and it still is. The one that I shopped at a lot is not here anymore it was called Fashionaire. It was a lady’s shop.
KW: Was it right in the down town part of Cleveland?
DF: It was on Sharpe St., which is right across the railroad from Cotton Row.
KW: At that time were their trains coming through here?
DF: Right, they certainly were.
KW: They are closed now.
DF: Right and the tracks are taken up, but yes there was trains coming through. Eventually Gibsons opened up where the Western Plaza opened up. Do you know where I am talking about?
KW: Western Sizzling?
DF: No I am talking about out there on the outside of town on highway 8. There is some stores out there now. Then they opened one down by the post office where Heileg-Meyers. Those two were our first shopping centers that I can remember. For a long time the merchants did their best to keep Wal-Mart from coming in. Finally we had K-Mart open up across from the hospital. Those were our shopping centers.
KW: Did you belong to any sororities?
DF: No at Blue Mountain we had clubs. They called them societies.
END OF DOCUMENT