Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Billyie A. Smith, February 3, 1989

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:10 - Childhood reading and sex education

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Partial Transcript: Okay, it's um, February Eleventh, and, of 1989. This is Nola and I'm interviewing Billyie Smith at...

Segment Synopsis: Smith shares that, as a child, she read health books that were intended for adults, and that these were her primary sources for sex education.

Keywords: Illustrations; Menstruation; Midwives; Sex; Sex education

Subjects: Birth control; Children; Family; Health education; Pregnancy; Sex instruction

00:03:59 - Being taught about abstinence / childhood reading talent

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Partial Transcript: But, I learned about, uh, I learned about... the other part of sex, which is the part, uh...

Segment Synopsis: Smith discusses the emphasis that her family put on abstinence and not having sex outside of marriage. She also states that she could read well from early childhood. Because of this, she could read books that her mother felt weren't appropriate for children.

Keywords: Abstinence; Aunts; Babies; Books; Grandaunts; Mothers; Reading

Subjects: Birth control; Children; Marriage; Pregnancy; Sex; Sexual abstinence

00:08:23 - High school education and illnesses / Smith's break with her family

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Partial Transcript: Well, so we have you in the chronology. Kind of, you, you've gotten through high school.

Segment Synopsis: Smith discusses her many illnesses while she was in high school, and how she lost a school year due to her absences. She briefly shares how she cut ties with quite a few of her family members when she was a junior in high school, and her living arrangements after that time.

Keywords: Appendicitis; Cancer; Egypt; English; History; Illnesses; Lymph nodes; Math; Mathematics; Medical treatment; Peritonitis; Radiation therapy; Surgery

Subjects: Africa; Cancer; Chemotherapy; Diseases; Education; Hippies; Travel

00:13:16 - Being diagnosed with cancer / Smith's mistreatment by her mother

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Partial Transcript: Let me take you back a minute to the cancer stuff.

Segment Synopsis: Smith shares how she found out in high school that she had cancer. She also discusses her mother's mistreatment of her and her siblings.

Keywords: Diet pills; Drugs; Illicit drug use; Mothers; Reading; Tumors; Valium

Subjects: Cancer; Children; Diazepam; Drug abuse; Lymph nodes

00:18:12 - Thoughts on dying / support from friends / Smith's mother's death

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Partial Transcript: There again, I think I really helped myself because I couldn't imagine that I was gonna die.

Segment Synopsis: Smith shares that she never thought that she would die when she was suffering from cancer, and explains how this outlook helped her. She emphasizes the support she received from her friends. She also discusses the death of her mother in 1987, and how she feels that they were somewhat reconciled.

Keywords: Cancer care facilities; Death; Doctors; Friends; Hospitals; Illnesses; Mothers; Nurses; Operations

Subjects: Cancer; Friendship; Mothers--Death; Reconciliation

00:23:10 - Life and experiences as a hippie

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Partial Transcript: Okay, well let's, let's go back up to, so um, hippie time.

Segment Synopsis: Smith talks about her life and experiences as a hippie in the late 1960's. These experiences include taking drugs, involvement in "Gentle Thursday", and going to concerts in California.

Keywords: Campus police; Concerts; Drug use; Drugs; Flower children; Gentle Thursday; Nudity; Professors; Timothy Leary

Subjects: Drug abuse; Hippies; LSD (Drug); Marijuana; University of Cincinnati

00:28:04 - Going to rock concerts in the 1960's

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Partial Transcript: What, what kind of rock groups did you...

Segment Synopsis: Smith discusses some of the rock concerts and festivals she attended in the 1960's, including music festivals in Monterey, California, and Woodstock.

Keywords: Concerts; Friends; Pop festivals; Procol Harum; Rolling Stones; The Beach Boys; The Beatles; Xavier University

Subjects: Jimi Hendrix Experience (Musical group); Music; Musicians; Rock music; Woodstock Festival

00:32:33 - Smith's friends as a young person

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Partial Transcript: Okay, we were just... talking about...

Segment Synopsis: Smith talks about the friends she had when she was younger, and why she was drawn to certain types of people.

Keywords: Doctors; Friends; Stereotypes; Yugoslavia

Subjects: African Americans; Friendship; Hippies; Jews; Whites

00:35:37 - Marriage and divorce / Smith's husband's family

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Partial Transcript: What happened, you know, as you move into the seventies?

Segment Synopsis: Smith talks about her marriage, and how she felt her husband was not proud of her because of her background as an Appalachian. She discusses their divorce, as well as her husband's family and social background.

Keywords: Cooks; Cows; Husbands; Meals; Money; Nurses; Records; Republicans; Teaching; Tuxedos

Subjects: Appalachians (People); Cincinnati (Ohio); Divorce; Families; Marriage; Music; Musicians; New York (N.Y.); Nursing schools; Social classes; University of Cincinnati

00:42:08 - Smith's reasons for divorcing her husband

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Partial Transcript: So clearly he had co... How, how did he, you know...

Segment Synopsis: Smith discusses her reasons for getting a divorce from her husband, including her dislike of his friends, and his desire to have sex with other people besides her.

Keywords: Friends; Husbands; Loyalty; Meals; Money

Subjects: Appalachians (People); Divorce; Sex

00:46:43 - Becoming interested in Appalachian culture

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Partial Transcript: Did you understand at the time that that was related to being Appalachian?

Segment Synopsis: Smith recalls how she became interested in Appalachian culture, and some of the people she met who sparked this interest.
[there is a break in the recording]

Keywords: Bookstores; Carol Welch; Go Tell Aunt Rhody (song); Grandmothers; Norma Walker; Rob Welch

Subjects: Appalachian Festival; Bell County (Ky.); Families

00:49:46 - Attending the Appalachian Festival in Cincinnati / Smith's brother and his Appalachian heritage

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Partial Transcript: So, the festival comes, and of course I, that was the first year...

Segment Synopsis: Smith describes attending the Appalachian Festival with her grandmother in 1976. She also recalls how her brother had a white Appalachian woman claim to be related to him, even though he is African American.

Keywords: Brothers; Cherokees; Chester Cornett; Festivals; Grandmothers; Midwives

Subjects: African Americans; Appalachian Festival; Bell County (Ky.); Cincinnati (Ohio); Kentucky; Whites

00:54:53 - Work experience / importance of Appalachian heritage

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Partial Transcript: At that point, you were divorced from your...

Segment Synopsis: Smith briefly mentions some of the places she has worked. She states that she finds meaning in her Appalachian heritage, and talks about her advocacy for Appalachian culture in the Cincinnati communities she works with.
[there is a break in the recording]

Keywords: "Hillbillies"; Brothers; Burke Marketing Research; Drugs; Heritage; Longview; Price Hill (Cincinnati, Ohio); Shirts; Teenagers

Subjects: African Americans; Appalachians (People); Cincinnati (Ohio); Social workers; Whites; Youth

GPS: Cincinnati (Ohio)
Map Coordinates: 39.111948,-84.515076
01:00:18 - Self-identification as a black Appalachian

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Partial Transcript: In the last couple of years, I've had publicity. There's been a lot of publicity about me.

Segment Synopsis: Smith talks about her self-identification as a black Appalachian, and discusses how some black Appalachians have been more reluctant to identify themselves in this way. The interview is concluded.

Keywords: Black Appalachians; Black History Month; Celebrities; Grandmothers; Role models; Talk shows

Subjects: African Americans; African Americans--Race identity; Appalachians (People); Families