Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with John Ed Pearce, November 15, 1995

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:34 - Father's family

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Partial Transcript: Did you think as a young man, growing up, perhaps in high school, maybe even as you got into college...

Segment Synopsis: Pearce talks about his goals as a writer growing up. Talks about his extended family, especially his uncles. Talks about the different places his family lived.

Keywords: "Coalfield Progress" newspaper; Authors; Businesses; Families; Fathers; Goals; Journalists; Merchants; Norton (Va.); Uncles; Writers

Subjects: Family history; Kentucky; Pearce family; Pearce, John Ed.

00:06:51 - Mother's family

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Partial Transcript: My mother, uh, was named, uh, Susan Leslie. She was from Tazewell, Virginia.

Segment Synopsis: Pearce talks about his extended family on his mother's side, including his maternal grandfather, uncles, and aunts.

Keywords: Aunts; Brothers; Businesses; Families; Genealogy; Grandparents; Marriages; Mothers; Newspapers; Uncles; Writers; Yankees

Subjects: Family history; Grandfathers; Mothers; Pearce, John Ed.

00:14:38 - Pearce's father

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Partial Transcript: Now your father, where did he go to school?

Segment Synopsis: Pearce talks about his father going to college. Talks about his father's preaching and concert tours. Talks about his father's attempts at ranching in South Dakota, and moving back to Virginia and founding the Coalfield Progress newspaper.

Keywords: Baptists; Concerts; Education; Georgetown College (Georgetown, Ky.); Mandolins; Musicians; Preachers; Preaching; Ranchers

Subjects: Fathers; Newspapers--Ownership; Occupations.; Pearce, John Ed.

00:19:43 - Siblings

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Partial Transcript: And it--from the beginning, it was enormously profitable.

Segment Synopsis: Talks about the births, namesakes, marriages, and careers of his siblings.

Keywords: Brothers; Careers; Colleges; Education; Marriages; Military; Namesakes; Norton (Va.); Siblings; Sisters

Subjects: Brothers and sisters; Pearce, John Ed.

00:24:53 - Childhood

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Partial Transcript: Now I've read the, I've read your essays, one of your essays, about having five daughters.

Segment Synopsis: Talks about going to a Baptist boarding school. Talks about moving to Pineville, Kentucky, where his father founded the Cumberland Courier newspaper. Shares stories from living in Norton, Virginia.

Keywords: Childhood; Cumberland Courier; Education; Norton (Va.); Schools; Sons

Subjects: Pearce, John Ed.; Pineville (Ky.); Relocation (Housing)

GPS: Pineville, Kentucky
Map Coordinates: 36.763056,-83.699444
00:31:58 - Pearce's mother and maternal grandparents

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Partial Transcript: I'm surprised, uh, thinking about some things--I've seen what you've written about your mother and thinking about this...

Segment Synopsis: Pearce talks about his mother's relationship with his father. Talks about his maternal grandparents and spending time at their home when he was a child. Talks about his mother running the newspaper while his father was away. Talks about his mother's housekeeping.

Keywords: Families; Grandfathers; Grandparents; Housekeeping

Subjects: Housewives; Mothers; Pearce, John Ed.

00:39:15 - Relationship with his father

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Partial Transcript: I was always rather fond of my mother and didn't like my father much. I was scared of him.

Segment Synopsis: Pearce talks about singing with his father in church. Talks about getting whipped by his father. Talks about distancing himself from his father and other adults. [Tape stops and starts again during segment.]

Keywords: Children; Fathers; Fears; Punishments; Spankings

Subjects: Fathers; Pearce, John Ed.

00:43:15 - Love of reading / family piano / flooding

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Partial Transcript: From the time I lived in Norton, in the evening we were all together.

Segment Synopsis: Pearce talks about always loving to read and what he liked to read as a boy. Talks about what type of music he enjoyed and trying to save the family piano from floods. Talks about the flood wall in Pineville, Kentucky.

Keywords: Books; Childhood; Flooding; Floods; Hobbies; Literature; Magazines; Music; Pastimes; Pianos; Pineville (Ky.); Rivers

Subjects: Floods; Pearce, John Ed.; Reading

GPS: Pineville, Kentucky
Map Coordinates: 36.763056, -83.699444
00:51:41 - Cumberland River / visiting Texas

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Partial Transcript: Right there on the river.

Segment Synopsis: Pearce talks about living next to the Cumberland River. Talks about staying with his uncle in Texas. Talks about snipe hunting with his friends. Talks about interactions with African Americans as a child.

Keywords: Boats; Childhood; Fishing; Houston (Tex.); Hunting; Norton (Va.); Pineville (Ky.); Traveling

Subjects: Cumberland River (Ky. and Tenn.); Pearce, John Ed.; Race relations.

00:58:36 - Teenage years / Chimney Rock Camp for Boys

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Partial Transcript: Now w-when you, you moved to P-Pineville when you were five or six. Your father set up the Cumberland Courier.

Segment Synopsis: Pearce talks about moving to Rutherfordton, North Carolina and what he did for fun there. Talks about high school. Talks about what he did at Chimney Rock Camp for Boys. Talks about revisiting the camp in later years.

Keywords: Basketball; Chimney Rock Camp for Boys; Depression era; High schools; Moving; Sports; Swimming

Subjects: Camps; Pearce, John Ed.; Rutherfordton (N.C.)

GPS: Rutherfordton, North Carolina
Map Coordinates: 35.366389, -81.958889
01:13:23 - The Great Depression

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Partial Transcript: And then one day, in about '32, I knew that something was wrong. I think that there's a chemistry about people.

Segment Synopsis: Pearce talks about his father losing his newspaper business during the Depression. Talks about being devastated to leave Rutherfordton, North Carolina. Talks about his father struggling to provide an income.

Keywords: Businesses; Depression era; Families; Moving; Norton (Va.); Rutherfordton (N.C.)

Subjects: Depressions--1929.; Fathers; Newspapers--Ownership; Pearce, John Ed.; Relocation (Housing)

01:20:23 - Working during high school

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Partial Transcript: And when I was a sophomore, my mother and sister got me and told me that, uh, I'd have to quit school half a day.

Segment Synopsis: Pearce talks about having to only attend school for a half-day to go to work and how he felt about it. Talks about summer jobs that he had. [End of tape.]

Keywords: Depression era; Embarrassments; High schools; Humiliation; Pride

Subjects: Depressions--1929; Pearce, John Ed.; Teenagers; Work.