Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Rachel Bowling, Ott Bowling, May 31, 1979

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:12 - Childhood

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Partial Transcript: This is an interview with Mrs. Rachel Bowling for the Frontier Nursing Service Oral History Project...

Segment Synopsis: Rachel Bowling went to school until she was 17. Around the house, she would help in the garden, cook, and clean dishes, basically following the footsteps of her mom. Bowling and many young girls would not go into town because of the distance. She grew up expecting getting married and that was more important than going to school.

Keywords: Childhood; Grade schools; Home; Hyden, Kentucky; Schools; Towns

Subjects: Appalachian Region; Appalachian Region--Social conditions; Appalachian Region--Social life and customs; Childhood; Dropouts; Education; Families; Farm life--Appalachian Region; Farming; Grade schools; Hyden (Ky.)

00:05:01 - Childbearing and marriage

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Partial Transcript: And, and then when did you and Ott get married?

Segment Synopsis: In this segment, Mrs. Bowling talks about what it was liking having her first children. She and her husband talk about how the deliveries have changed and the change in child laboring. The first child was birthed with the help of a midwife, however, the birthing methods changed for every child, and eventually they started to be born in hospitals.

Keywords: Birthing locations; Birthing methods; Having children; Home childbirth; Hospitals; Marriage; Midwife; Ms. Kathy; Mules; Nurses

Subjects: Childbirth; Frontier Nursing Service; Midwifery--Appalachian Region; Midwives--Appalachian Region

00:10:44 - Responsibilities as a wife

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Partial Transcript: After you were married, as a wife here, what were the things that, that you did?

Segment Synopsis: In this segment, Mrs. Bowling talks about what it was like being a housewife in the early 1900s. She talks about raising her ten kids and the struggles she went through trying to raise the children right while juggling her many house chores. As a woman, she was expected to garden, make clothes and quilts for the house, and feed her family, all while not having running water or electricity. Mrs. Bowling believes that having children is women’s punishment for what Eve did. Despite the pain she endured and the hardships the Bowling family faced, she enjoyed raising the children.

Keywords: Chores; Expectations; Expectations of wives; Expectations of women; Gardening; Housewife

Subjects: Cleaning; Gardening; Religion; Sewing

00:21:24 - Health services for children and pregnant women

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Partial Transcript: Yeah, I'll tell you another thing now.

Segment Synopsis: In this segment, the Bowling family talks about the health services available to them. After the first month of pregnancy, the Frontier Nursing Service recommended that the expecting mothers have a monthly appointment to check on their pregnancy journey. Mrs. Bowling declined the opportunity to receive medical help in the first trimester of her pregnancy and would have appointments when later along. The cost of having a child delivered by one of the Frontier Nurses was about five or ten dollars, and the nurses rarely visited the children and mothers after the birth.

Keywords: Birthing; Child delivery; Child labor; Costs; Doctors; Doctors appointments; Expecting mothers; Health services; Medical help; Medical services available; Nurse involvement; Nurses

Subjects: Childbirth; Frontier Nursing Service, Inc.; Midwifery--Appalachian Region; Midwives--Appalachian Region; Pregnancy

00:27:28 - More on childhood

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Partial Transcript: What, uh, uh--when you were a young girl, did you ever have to learn to grow cotton or, or spin wool or any of that?

Segment Synopsis: Bowling’s mother taught her basically everything she knows, including how to knit wool and make clothes. She says that she would help her mom around the house. She goes into detail about how to make thread for knitting.

Keywords: Downy; Expectations of wives; Expectations of women; Farm chores; Geese; Goose; Household necessities; Making of soap; Mothers; Pig lard; Plucking; Plucking geese; Shearing sheep; Sheep; Sheering; Soap; Spinning wool; Upbringing

Subjects: Family farms; Sex role; Traditional farming--Kentucky

00:40:02 - Struggles of raising a family

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Partial Transcript: So your, your life as, as a wife and a mother was pretty well taken up with all your time, wasn't it?

Segment Synopsis: Bowling goes in depth on the struggles of raising ten kids in the early 1900s. She talks about the financial difficulty of feeding and keeping all ten kids clothed. Large families were common during this time and the family talks about how many of their friends had ten or more kids. Mrs. Bowling enjoyed raising the kids and always made sure that they had shoes; other families, however, did not prioritize that.

Keywords: Changes in society; Childrearing; Children in their neighborhood; Clothing; Financial struggles; Food; How their children were brought up; Kids; Large families; Music; Raising children; Shoes; Social norms; Square dances; Young people

Subjects: Appalachian Region--Social conditions; Appalachian Region--Social life and customs; Child rearing; Country life; Families.; Recreation; Rural children; Rural conditions

00:47:55 - Birth control

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Partial Transcript: Well, you, you said a few minutes ago you never did anything to keep from having children.

Segment Synopsis: Contraceptives are a big discussion in this segment. Mrs. Bowling never uses any birth control and never had a desire to do so, this is because of social norms and religious upbringing. The nurses never brought up the idea of birth control and everyone was encouraged to have large families. The Bowlings believe that now in society, they do not want you to have a large family as they had.

Keywords: Doctors; FNS nurses; Large families; Mrs. Bowling; Nurses; Social norms; Society

Subjects: Appalachian Region--Religion; Appalachian Region--Social conditions; Birth control--Kentucky; Childbirth; Country life; Families.; Frontier Nursing Service, Inc.; Medical care--Appalachian Region; Physicians--Kentucky; Religion; Rural health services

00:48:59 - Church

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Partial Transcript: Was, was going to church and taking the children to church, was that--(coughs)--was that part of your social life?

Segment Synopsis: Bowling's husband talks about taking their children to church, and says they would take about two hours. They talk about going to a family member's house and staying there all night until dinner. The kids would go to Sunday school after church. Ms. Byers was the first person in Appalachia to have a Sunday school, according to Rachel Bowling.

Keywords: Church; Church services; Mass; Ms. Byers; Schools; Sunday school

Subjects: Appalachian Region--Religion; Appalachian Region--Social conditions; Churches--Kentucky; Families.; Religion

00:50:58 - Son's military involvement

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Partial Transcript: Well, except for Leslie and Perry County, when was the first time you were some--
(coughs)--at a place different than Leslie or Perry County?

Segment Synopsis: Mrs. Bowling talks about how she did not get the opportunity to travel until 1940 when she went to visit her son who moved to Indiana. She then talks about her sons' military involvement. Out of her five sons, all of them served in a war. One served in World War II, and two served in the Korean War. Two sons were in the army, two served in the marines, and one served in the navy.

Keywords: Army; Germany; Indiana; Korea; Korean War; Lance Bowling; Marines; Military; Navy; Ron Bowling; Sons; Traveling; Veterans; WWII; World War 2; World War II

Subjects: Korean War, 1950-1953; Military service, Voluntary.; World War, 1939-1945

00:55:38 - Her parents

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Partial Transcript: The part that religion played in your life and everything, was that from your family? Did your mother start you going to church?

Segment Synopsis: Bowling elaborates on how her parents raised her and talks about how religion became such a big aspect of her life. Her mother never did anything but raise children, and her father made sure they went to church. As a child, she never had an actual church building; they would just go to a house where the preacher would preach.

Keywords: Church buildings; Churches; Dad; Fathers; Mom; Mothers; Mrs. Bowling’s parents; Upbringing

Subjects: Appalachian Region--Religion; Childhood; Families.; Religion