Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Peggy Robinette, June 13, 1987

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:00 - Early life / Family history

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Partial Transcript: --your name.

Segment Synopsis: Robinette shares details of her childhood, including early education and details of her family. She was born in 1930 and grew up in Turkey Creek. She describes where her parents are from and the types of jobs that her father used to work. Robinette recalls her childhood and having to ration their resources during World War II.

Keywords: Borderland; Dewey Maynard; Horses; Logging; Parents; Railroads; Rations; South Williamson; Trudy Stanley; WWII; West Virginia; World War II

Subjects: Childhood; Education; Families; Family histories; Occupations; Pike County (Ky.); Timber; Turkey Creek (Ky.); World War, 1939-1945

00:07:43 - Married life / Children

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Partial Transcript: So how did you meet Virgil? What were you doing that you ran into him?

Segment Synopsis: Robinette discusses her marriage to Virgil, the children they had together, and the effects of the strike on the children. Robinette got married to Virgil at sixteen and moved in together afterwards. After two years, they started having children. Robinette didn't work until after her husband died, she stayed home and cared for their children. Robinette shares that she has several grandchildren, but no great grandchildren yet.

Keywords: Grandchildren; Grandparents; Husbands; Jobs; Marriages; Picket lines; Schools; Widows

Subjects: Appalachian Region--Social life and customs; Children; Education; Families; Occupations; Picketing; Stay-at-home mothers; Strikes and lockouts; Women political activists

00:14:47 - Work experience

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Partial Transcript: Well, um, did I ask you the other day, I should know this, about other jobs besides the hospital?

Segment Synopsis: Robinette shares about her life after the death of her husband and the different jobs that she worked. Robinette started working at the hospital and then worked at a small cafe and then at a restaurant. She also worked weighing coal for a labor union. She describes having to be trained to learn how to do three jobs at once. She recalls being laid off around 1981.

Keywords: Case 90; Clarksville Methodist; Coal business; Coal trucks; Downtown; Faith's Dairy Barn; Hospitals; Job applications; Labor unions; Night shifts; Picket lines; Radios; Restaurants; Telephones; Trainings; Union; Union wages; United Methodist Hospital

Subjects: Coal mines and mining; Coal--Kentucky; Occupations; Picketing; Pikeville (Ky.); Salaries

00:20:12 - During and after the strike

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Partial Transcript: Well, now, let me ask you, um, I wanted to ask you about after the strike, um, after the picket line was shut down, did you do any more union stuff?

Segment Synopsis: Robinette describes her role in the strike, her thoughts during the strike, and things that she would have done differently. Robinette describes the events following the end of the strike on the hospital. After the picket line was taken down, she started working at Faith's Dairy Barn. Robinette remembers playing a very active role in the strike and says that if she could change anything, she would be more mean. She thought the strikers were too docile.

Keywords: Active role; Applications; Blood tests; Boycotts; Faith's Dairy Barn; Hospitals; Labor unions; Lee D. Keene; Letters; Lonnie Maynard; Luna Bevins; Physical examinations; Picket lines; Pride; Retirement; Ruby Prater; Strikers; Unions; United Methodist Hospitals

Subjects: Picketing; Pikeville (Ky.); Strikes and lockouts; Women political activists

00:29:07 - Labor union involvement

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Partial Transcript: Well Peggy, was this the first time you've been involved in a strike?

Segment Synopsis: Robinette remembers the conditions inside the hospital that prompted the workers to go on strike. They were paid so little and she had to stretch her wages to take care of six children. After moving to the larger hospital, the workers were given a heavier patient load. Robinette describes going with certain people to the picket lines and boycotts.

Keywords: Active role; Boycotts; Hospitals; Labor unions; Lonnie Maynard; Louise Bartley Pitts; Luna Bevins; Parents; Patients; Picket lines; Taxes; Union involvement; Unions; United Methodist Hospital; United Mine Workers of America (UMWA); Wages

Subjects: Children; Families; Family histories; Picketing; Pikeville (Ky.); Salaries; Strikes and lockouts; United Mine Workers of America; Work environment

00:32:04 - Balancing the strike with managing a household

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Partial Transcript: Well, let me ask you a few more questions. Um, I'm asking everybody how they managed in their households while the strike was going on and how they got by.

Segment Synopsis: Robinette discusses the struggles of balancing being a mother and being on strike. She describes living very carefully with six children. Several of her children were older while she was on strike and they were able to help Robinette care for the others. Along with the help of her children, the labor union provided strike benefits which helped her family get by.

Keywords: Bills; Communications Workers of America (CWA); Financial troubles; Hospital bills; Hospitals; Labor unions; Picket lines; School; Social Security; Union involvement; Union members; Union mines; United Mine Workers of America (UMWA); Wealth Coal Company

Subjects: Children; Communications Workers of America; Education; Families; Labor unions--Organizing; Labor unions--Strike benefits; Picketing; Strikes and lockouts; United Mine Workers Association

00:37:45 - Lessons learned from the strike

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Partial Transcript: Well what do you think, Peggy, is the most important stuff you learned from being involved in that?

Segment Synopsis: Robinette shares that a major challenge during their strike was dealing with strikebreakers. She stresses the importance of fighting in a strike and advises future strikers to not worry about stepping on any toes to get what you want. Robinette also shares that the workers inside United Methodist Hospital now are lazy and is disappointed in the strikers that returned to work there once the picket line was taken down.

Keywords: "Scabs" (strikebreakers); Communications Workers of America (CWA); Hospital boards; Hospitals; Labor unions; Lonnie Daniels; Nurses; Organizers; Patients; Picket lines; Registered nurses; Scabs; Strikers; Telephone companies; United Mine Workers of America (UMWA)

Subjects: Communications Workers of America; Labor unions--Organizing; Picketing; Pikeville (Ky.); Strikebreakers; Strikes and lockouts; United Mine Workers of America; Women political activists