Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Carolyn Gay, January 16, 1979

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:02 - Frontier Nursing Service center committee meetings

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Partial Transcript: This is an interview with Mrs. Carolyn Gay for the Frontier Nursing Service Oral History Project by Dale Deaton at approximately 10:00 a.m. on January 16th, 1979 at Brutus, Kentucky.

Segment Synopsis: Carolyn Gay is introduced. She talks about her father, Jasper Biggers, and his position as chairman of the committee for the Frontier Nursing Service center in the Bullskin Creek area. She talks about the annual meetings and the rally days during which the committee and the local people would socialize. She talks about people's respect for Mary Breckinridge.

Keywords: Annual meetings; Chairman of the committee; Drinking alcohol; Jasper Biggers; Jim "Daymer" Davidson; Land deeds; Rally days; Respect; Rounds; Scotch; Service; Socializing; Stories; Wine

Subjects: Breckinridge, Mary, 1881-1965; Frontier Nursing Service, Inc.; Nurses

00:05:00 - Frontier Nursing Service funding

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Partial Transcript: Well during, during the time that she was alive, did people on, on each committee, were they asked to donate money to the center or anything like that?

Segment Synopsis: Gay talks about whether committee members helped fund the FNS. She talks about people trading goods for services with the FNS before official fees were charged. She talks about the committee meetings at Wendover and the difficulty of traveling on the roads to get there.

Keywords: Care; Committees; Fees; Funding; Horses; Meetings; Objections; Payment; Services; Trades

Subjects: Breckinridge, Mary, 1881-1965; Frontier Nursing Service, Inc.; Medical care, Cost of; Rural roads; Wendover (Ky.)

00:08:32 - School

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Partial Transcript: When you started school, where did you go to school?

Segment Synopsis: Gay talks about going to school at Fairview, her teachers, and playing outside at school. She talks about her father's job as a teacher. She talks about walking to school everyday, and what the children would bring for lunch.

Keywords: Attention; Biscuits; Cafeterias; Fairview School; Fathers; Ice; Jasper Biggers; Lard buckets; Lunch programs; Lunches; Oneida (Ky.); Playing; School buses; Sticks; Stores; Walking

Subjects: Education--Kentucky.; Food habits--Appalachian Region, Southern; Rural schools--Kentucky; Teachers--Kentucky

00:14:36 - Change from raising animals to reliance on stores

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Partial Transcript: Well you, you said your father got the Courier-Journal newspaper--

Segment Synopsis: Gay says everyone raised animals and grew their own food when she was a child, and talks about how people now buy everything they need from stores.

Keywords: Books; Brutus (Ky.); Chickens; Cows; Hogs; Raising animals; Salting meat; Stores; Tobacco; Trips to town

Subjects: Animals; Family farms; Food habits--Appalachian Region, Southern; Traditional farming--Kentucky

00:19:15 - Women and men's work

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Partial Transcript: Well while you were around home, c--could you tell me a little bit about what your mother's life was like?

Segment Synopsis: Gay talks about the sorts of work women typically did when she was growing up, and discusses why her mother took on tasks that men typically did. She talks about how work, jobs, and food changed in the area when the people were given commodities from the government during the Great Depression.

Keywords: Age; Cars; Changes; Corn; Crops; Fathers; Feeding animals; Fences; Government commodities; Home; Jasper Biggers; Milking cows; Mothers; Plowing; Postmaster; Singing; Unusual; Women's lives

Subjects: Depressions--1929--Kentucky; Farm life--Appalachian Region; Food habits--Appalachian Region, Southern; Sex role

00:26:47 - Entertainment and social life

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Partial Transcript: With some of the older people, they talk about their entertainment being square dances or, or corn hoeings or things like that.

Segment Synopsis: Gay talks about what people did for entertainment when she was a child, including political rallies, box suppers, and visiting neighbors. She talks about how socializing has changed since her childhood.

Keywords: Bidding; Box suppers; Campaign rallies; Changes; Entertainment; Fairview School; Food; Generations; Guns; Political rallies; School supplies; Socializing; T. C. Sizemore; Throwing eggs; Throwing tomatoes; Traveling; Visiting neighbors; Working hard

Subjects: Appalachian Region--Social life and customs; Elections; Political campaigns--Kentucky; Politicians--Kentucky; Rural schools--Kentucky

00:32:50 - Perceptions of other schools in the area

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Partial Transcript: Well there, there isn't--how many of the area schools were there?

Segment Synopsis: Gay talks more about her school, Fairview, and how the students at her school viewed the other nearby schools as being less civilized and having different ideals.

Keywords: Arnett School; Ballgames; Civilized; Differences; Fairview School; Fathers; Fighting; Flatwoods School; Ideals; Jasper Biggers; Mules; New Hope School; Perceptions

Subjects: Education--Kentucky; Rural schools--Kentucky; Social classes

00:38:26 - Her father's values and teaching

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Partial Transcript: Did he have any stories that he told that you remember?

Segment Synopsis: Gay talks more about her father's job as a teacher and his way of teaching that involved everyday life. She talks about his views on mineral rights and people's connections with nature.

Keywords: Bald; Erosion; Fathers; Hair; Jasper Biggers; Killing animals; Mineral rights; Money; Nature; Stories; Timber; Trees; Value; Values; Water

Subjects: Education--Kentucky; Rural schools--Kentucky; Teachers--Kentucky; Teaching

00:41:32 - Childbirth experiences with the Frontier Nursing Service versus hospitals

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Partial Transcript: Were you and the rest of your brothers and sisters, were you all born at home?

Segment Synopsis: Gay describes her mother's experience with the Frontier Nursing Service during childbirth, and also talks about the nurses teaching local families about sanitation and nutrition. She talks about the differences between her delivery at a hospital in Manchester and her delivery with the FNS in Hyden. She talks about the FNS nurse that helped deliver her baby.

Keywords: Attention; Care; Changes; Children; Clinics; Comforting; Cooking; Delivering babies; Differences; Doctors; Economy; FNS; Food preservation; Home births; Hospital births; Husbands; Labor; Manchester (Ky.); Maternity wards; Mothers; Nutrition; Oneida (Ky.); Ruth Blevins; Sanitation; Women

Subjects: Childbirth; Frontier Nursing Service, Inc.; Hyden (Ky.); Midwifery--Appalachian Region; Midwives--Appalachian Region; Nurses

00:49:31 - Frontier Nursing Service nurses as part of the community

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Partial Transcript: But then, um, Mrs. Breckinridge, seems like she wanted to instill this--you didn't just come in to the community as the nurse to take care of their medical ills.

Segment Synopsis: Gay talks about how the FNS nurses would become part of the community by socializing with the local people, and sometimes dating the local men. She talks about how the local people were generally accepting of outsiders, unless the outsider was not friendly.

Keywords: Acceptance; Chaperones; Community involvement; Dating; FNS; Food; Helping; Home visits; House calls; Housekeepers; Local people; Ruth Blevins; Socializing; Welcome

Subjects: Breckinridge family; Breckinridge, Mary, 1881-1965; Frontier Nursing Service, Inc.; Midwives--Appalachian Region; Nurses

00:56:39 - Changes to the Frontier Nursing Service after Mary Breckinridge's death

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Partial Transcript: Do you--(coughs)--you remember when Mrs. Breckinridge died?

Segment Synopsis: Gay discusses her father's relationship with Mary Breckinridge. She talks about how the FNS has changed since Mary Breckinridge's death, and whether the original spirit of the FNS has carried on.

Keywords: Caring; Changes; Continuing; FNS; Fathers; Funeral services; Gentlemen; Jasper Biggers; Jobs; Manners; Nursing centers; Part of community; Respect

Subjects: Breckinridge, Mary, 1881-1965; Frontier Nursing Service, Inc.; Midwives--Appalachian Region; Nurses

01:01:18 - Local churches

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Partial Transcript: Well, let's talk about the community a little bit. What were the, the churches here, what types of churches were they?

Segment Synopsis: Gay talks about some of the churches in the area. She says that church attendance has dropped significantly since her childhood.

Keywords: "Holy roller" churches; Attendance; Baptist churches; Brutus (Ky.); Generations; Mennonites; Oneida (Ky.); Preachers; Snake handling; Social life; Sunday school; Walking

Subjects: Baptists; Kentucky--Religion; Rural churches; Snake cults (Holiness churches)

01:05:43 - Local politics

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Partial Transcript: Well we were talking earlier about the politics and the political rallies they'd have. Are most people around here Republican? Democrat?

Segment Synopsis: Gay talks about the politics of the area, and whether most people are Democrats or Republicans. She tells a story about her parents' political beliefs.

Keywords: Democrats; Fathers; Generations; Governor Bert T. Combs; Jasper Biggers; Mothers; Primaries; Primary elections; Republicans

Subjects: Big Bullskin Creek (Ky.); Clay County (Ky.); Democratic Party (Ky.); Elections; Kentucky--Politics and government.; Republican Party (Ky.)

01:08:02 - Birth control and women working outside the home

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Partial Transcript: Well now, for the women in this area, uh, do many or, or--are there very many housewives that work now?

Segment Synopsis: Gay talks about the types of jobs women who work outside the home most often have. She talks about why women began taking jobs outside of the home. She talks about how birth control has affected the lives of local women and whether women take advantage of these options.

Keywords: Birth control pills; Changes; Children; Dr. Rock; FNS; Farming; Freedom; Hospitals; Housewives; Money; Nurses; Quality of life; Secretaries; Skeptical; Teachers; Teachers' aides; Testing; Tubal ligations; Working

Subjects: Birth control--Kentucky; Frontier Nursing Service, Inc.; Women--Employment.

01:14:05 - Local families on Bullskin Creek

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Partial Transcript: Could you go down, down Bullskin Creek with the area that you're familiar with, and give me the names of the families of the people down through here?

Segment Synopsis: Gay names many families that live in the Bullskin Creek area, and says that people without family connections to the area rarely move in. She tells a story of an unusual event in the area: finding a weather balloon.

Keywords: Abner family; Afraid; Allen family; Arnett family; Barger family; Barnes family; Bowling family; Burns family; Bush family; Campbell family; Collins family; Cornett family; Couch family; Davidson family; Deaton family; Estep family; Feltner family; Fields family; Gay family; Gibson family; Harris family; Hinkle family; Hudson family; Jones family; Martin family; New families; Oneida (Ky.); Osborne family; Postmasters; Sizemore family; Smallwood family; Unusual; Weather balloons; Webb family; Wilson family; Wood family

Subjects: Appalachian Region; Big Bullskin Creek (Ky.); Families.

01:20:58 - Perceptions of Appalachia

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Partial Transcript: [Inaudible] most people out, outside the area, and from news reports and things that have been in magazines and on TV and, and so forth, uh, people who live here are supposed, you know, to be socially backward, etcetera.

Segment Synopsis: Gay talks about her dislike of the negative perceptions of Appalachia. She talks about how some local people take advantage of the perception that the people are poor and uneducated. She talks about the local people's views on welfare and the federal government. The interview is concluded.

Keywords: Charity; Culture; Eastern Kentucky; Federal government; Federal mine inspectors; Insulting; Intelligence; Kentuckians; Magazines; Media; Money; Photographs; Pictures; Publicity; Strip mining regulations; Taking advantage; Television; Welfare

Subjects: Appalachian Region--Economic conditions; Clay County (Ky.); Education--Appalachian Region; McCreary County (Ky.); Poverty--Appalachian Region; Regionalism--Appalachian Region