Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Emma Rae Wells, September 11, 1988

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:01 - Family / childhood and teenage years

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Partial Transcript: Um, Miss Wells can you tell me your whole name including the name, uh, before you were married?

Segment Synopsis: Wells talks about her family and where her parents were from. She says that she was born in Marion, Virginia and moved to Auxier when she was very young so her father could work in the mines. She talks about walking to school, and says she received a good education even though she didn't graduate high school. Wells talks about her childhood and teenage years. She remembers walking to catch the bus to Paintsville to go to the movies with her friends. She says the girls and boys stayed mostly separate, and the girls weren't allowed to do as many things as the boys.

Keywords: Ancestors; Auxier (Ky.); Brothers; Childhood; Education; Grandparents; Marion (Va.); Paintsville (Ky.); Parents; Sisters; Teenagers

Subjects: Appalachian region; Appalachians (People)--Kentucky--Social conditions; Country life; Families

00:13:59 - Alcoholism in Auxier

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Partial Transcript: Um, did you ever hear of anything, like also today we hear about women getting beaten up, battered women...

Segment Synopsis: Wells says that while she was growing up in Auxier she never heard about any abuse going on in families, though she admits that there were some unhappy marriages and a lot of people in Auxier drank. She talks about how people would go out drinking on payday, and says that as her father got older he drank more with his friends. She says that her father didn't do much other than work in the mines, though he would go rabbit hunting with his friends from time to time.

Keywords: Abuse; Child abuse; Domestic violence; Drinking

Subjects: Alcoholism--Appalachian Region; Appalachian Region; Appalachians (People)--Kentucky--Social conditions; Family violence

00:16:43 - Politics / Christmases in Auxier

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Partial Transcript: Did, uh, your family talk about politics at all?

Segment Synopsis: Wells talks about how her mother didn't get involved in politics, but says her father was very active and encouraged all the children to go vote in elections. She recalls her father taking her and her sisters to register and wanting them all to register as Republicans. She says she registered how he wanted her to but changed to a Democrat once she got married. She doesn't remember if she voted in the 1944 presidential election, but says her father loved to see people out voting. Wells also talks about what Christmases were like when she was growing up. She said her family didn't do anything special, but they did have a nice dinner with a few gifts, and her father would go out and get a tree to decorate.

Keywords: Auxier (Ky.); Christmas; Elections; Politics; Voting

Subjects: Appalachian Region; Appalachians (People)--Kentucky--Social conditions

00:21:01 - Women in Auxier / leisure time and daily life

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Partial Transcript: When you were growing up here, do you remember, uh, women that worked outside the home?

Segment Synopsis: Wells talks about the lives of the women who lived in Auxier while she was growing up. She says she doesn't remember any women other than her teacher who worked for wages outside the home. She says that women were expected to stay home and take care of the house and children, and says she never thought much about what her future or what career she might like while she was growing up. Wells recalls that her mother loved to read and visit with her friends and family in her leisure time. Her mother liked to quilt, make soap and apple butter, and can food. She says her mother stayed in touch with her own family, and would frequently talk about her worries with her sister who also lived in Auxier. Wells remembers all the men going out to pick berries, and she and the other women would clean and can them.

Keywords: Church; Community; Gender roles; Home economics; Leisure time; Working

Subjects: Appalachian Region; Appalachians (People)--Kentuckians--Social conditions; Canning and preserving; Quilting; Women--Employment

00:30:29 - Travel / recreation

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Partial Transcript: Did you go to, uh, Prestonsburg much?

Segment Synopsis: Wells says her family never traveled much, only to Paintsville if there was something going on. She remembers traveling to Virginia to visit her father's sister who lived on a farm in Smyth County. Wells says that her family did own a radio, and they would get catalogs from time to time. She also says that even though Auxier didn't have a library, she enjoyed reading and one of her favorite books when she was growing up was Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.

Keywords: Elkhorn City (Ky.); Paintsville (Ky.); Pikeville (Ky.); Prestonsburg (Ky.); Recreation; Smyth County (Va.); Sugar Grove (Va.); Travel

Subjects: Appalachian Region; Appalachians (People)--Kentucky--Social conditions; Families

00:36:58 - Class in Auxier / more about Christmases

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Partial Transcript: Do you remember, um, how you felt about kids in town that were the managers' or the operators' sons and daughters?

Segment Synopsis: Wells discusses the socioeconomic divides within the community of Auxier, saying that the wealthier children tended to stay in one group, and the non-wealthy children in another group. She remembers the store manager's children being able to have nicer clothes and better quality school supplies than she did. However, she remembers the teachers being fair and not favoring one group of children over another. Wells also talks more about what Christmases were like, and talks about how the women of Alice Lloyd College at Caney Creek would always bring gifts for the children.

Keywords: Christmas; Community; Education; Friendships; Money; Social classes

Subjects: Alice Lloyd College; Appalachian Region; Appalachian Region--Economic conditions; Appalachians (People)--Kentucky; Social conditions