Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Norma Jean Vaughn, August 3, 2016

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:04 - Introduction / Changes in Jenkins, Kentucky

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Partial Transcript: Let me just check and see what the sound is going to be like.

Segment Synopsis: Vaughn and the interviewer converse about people from Jenkins, Kentucky. The interviewer asks Vaughn about whether she knows some of the people who have been interviewed. The interviewer also mentions some changes to the physical makeup of the town.

Keywords: Changes; Socializing

Subjects: Jenkins (Ky.); Kentucky; Letcher County (Ky.); Neighbors

GPS: Jenkins (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 37.18, -82.632222
00:07:37 - Basic biographical information

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Partial Transcript: Well, can, can I ask you, um, a little biographical stuff about yourself?

Segment Synopsis: The interviewer asks Vaughn about biographical details of her life. Vaughn was born in Wayland, Kentucky on May, 24 1924. She is from a large family with ten children. Only one brother and one sister completed college. Her father took his share of his brother's store and sold his part of the farm to Vaughn's aunt Martha. Her father became a coal miner and her mother was a homemaker. She describes how she met her husband. Her husband was in safety admin in the air force. She had moved to Jenkins because she was living with her sister and her brother-in-law was transferred there in the Consolidated Coal Company.

Keywords: Air Force; Coal mines; Coal mining; Consol Energy; Consol Energy Inc.; Consolidated Coal Company; Eastern Kentucky; Homemakers; Rural Kentucky; Safety Admin; Safety Administration; United States Air Force

Subjects: Coal miners; Coal mines and mining.; Education; Education, Higher.; Employment--Kentucky; Families.; Family histories.; Family history; Jenkins (Ky.); Kentucky; Letcher County (Ky.); Louisa (Ky.); United States. Air Force.; Wayland (Ky.)

00:18:48 - Vaughn's work and college

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Partial Transcript: Of course I could walk to work from the clubhouse.

Segment Synopsis: Vaughn worked in a teletype unit on Main Street. She prepared the coal manifest everyday and sent telegrams. All the military casualty reports came through her. She mentions some of her coworkers and how she was teased for being young. She received, sorted, and stamped the mail. She jokes about getting the job through nepotism and agrees that the job was considered a good job. When she lived at the clubhouse, rent was taken out of her salary check. She describes her college days and how she wound up at Miller's Business College in Cincinnati. She studied bookkeeping, shorthand, and basic courses, including math and English. She didn't finish her degree and after ten months took a job back in Jenkins.

Keywords: Casualty reports; Clubhouses; Coal manifests; Eastern Kentucky; Military casualty reports; Miller's Business College; Sorting mail; Telegrams

Subjects: Bookkeeping.; Cincinnati (Ohio); Coal mines and mining; Education; Employment--Kentucky; Jenkins (Ky.); Letcher County (Ky.); Shorthand.; Telegraph.; Teletype; Women; Women's history and culture; Women's history.; Women--Education (Higher); Women--Employment.

00:32:21 - Recreation in Jenkins

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Partial Transcript: And when you first came to Jenkins, what did you think of it? What were your initial thoughts?

Segment Synopsis: Vaughn says everyone was warm when she first came to Jenkins and liked the socializing. She was amazed the town could be planned so well. Her sister loved Jenkins. She said everyone went to the dance hall called the Copper Kettle on the weekends and describes its social activity and routine. People could bring their own food and alcohol. She says on Sundays people would get dressed up and go to church and then go to the recreation building and sit and drink cokes and play the nickelodeon.

Keywords: Churches; Coca-Cola; Cokes; Copper Kettle; Dances; Dancing; Dining out; Eastern Kentucky; Eating; Recreation buildings; Social activities; Socializing; The Copper Kettle; Weekends

Subjects: Alcohol.; Church.; Dance halls; Fashion.; Food and drink; Jenkins (Ky.); Letcher County (Ky.); Music.; Neighborliness; Nickelodeon; Orchestrion; Recreation; Socialization.; Women; Women's history and culture; Women's history.

00:44:39 - General life in Jenkins

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Partial Transcript: You mention living in the clubhouse. I'm really curious about the clubhouse since it's not there anymore.

Segment Synopsis: Vaughn describes living in the clubhouse, where they were provided with meals. She speaks briefly about some of the other people who lived there, mentioning that she and another woman were the only two single women who lived there. Vaughn describes the jobs of some of the other women, including as a secretary or telephone operator. She describes her sister and brother-in-law's house, which was across from the clubhouse.

Keywords: Clubhouses; Eastern Kentucky; Secretaries; Social activities; Socializing

Subjects: Food and drink; Housing.; Jenkins (Ky.); Letcher County (Ky.); Neighborhoods.; Neighborliness; Neighbors; Socialization.; Telephone operators; Women; Women's history and culture; Women's history.; Women--Employment.

00:56:30 - Socializing in Jenkins

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Partial Transcript: 'Course when we we were first there, Mr. Forester was the manager.

Segment Synopsis: Vaughn describes how the managers would interact and socialize with the general community. She mentions some of the young people who were attending college. She mentions how she thinks her sister would intentionally put her beside her crush. Dating was described as being limited by the activities available, specifically going out to eat, to see movies, or to go dancing. Vaughn states there weren't really many places to dine out, except for a place across from the drugstore in East Jenkins. Her sister learned how to drive but Vaughn didn't drive until her husband taught her. She mentions participating in a safety group and not wanting to learn home economics. She would shop through mail order catalogs and in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Keywords: Dances; Dancing; Dining out; Driving; East Jenkins; Eastern Kentucky; Eating; Mail order catalogs; Mail-order catalogs; Managers; Movie theaters; Movies; Safety groups

Subjects: Automobile driving; Commercial catalogs; Couples.; Dating (Social customs); Drugstores; Education, Higher.; Executives.; Food and drink; Friendship.; Interpersonal relations; Jenkins (Ky.); Letcher County (Ky.); Relationships.; Shopping.; Women; Women's history and culture; Women's history.

01:17:22 - Race relations in Jenkins

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Partial Transcript: So your sister must have cooked, I take it.

Segment Synopsis: Vaughn describes how her sister was the person who cooked, while Vaughn helped out by setting the table and cleaning and getting groceries. Her sister had a housekeeper who would come every two weeks to clean the house. Vaughn says that most of the domestic help were African American women. She would talk to Evelyn, the housekeeper, while she was there. Vaughn wanted to leave Jenkins and move to Lexington when she got married because her husband had the opportunity for free education at the University of Kentucky. Vaughn states that the relationship between black and white people was pleasant in Jenkins, further saying that the African Americans she worked with at the VA were warm people. She says she has an African American woman in her lunch group. Vaughn states that African Americans and white Americans would not socialize together in Jenkins. She denies knowing more than one European immigrant family in Jenkins. Vaughn says most employees had respect for the Consolidation Coal Company and that the company treated them nicely. She does not remember labor unrest with Consolidation but does remember some unrest with the Elkhorn Coal Company.

Keywords: Coal mines; Coal mining; Consol Energy; Consol Energy Inc.; Consolidation Coal Company; Domestic help; Eastern Kentucky; Elkhorn Coal Company; Grocery shopping; Immigration; Labor protests; Labor unrest

Subjects: African Americans--Social conditions.; African Americans--Social life and customs.; African Americans--Southern States.; Cleaning.; Coal miners; Coal mines and mining.; Cooking.; Emigration and immigration.; Housekeepers; Immigrants--Kentucky; Immigrants.; Jenkins (Ky.); Letcher County (Ky.); Lexington (Ky.); Race discrimination.; Race relations--Kentucky; Racism; Shopping.; Women; Women's history and culture; Women's history.; Women--Employment.

01:38:50 - Effect of World War II / Specifics of daily life

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Partial Transcript: Uh, of course I lost a brother in, in World War Two.

Segment Synopsis: Vaughn had four brothers in the military and lost one of them in World War 2. Her younger brother couldn't wait to join the marines but their mother didn't want him to so he lied to his mother about it. They discuss the death notices Vaughn received in her job and the grief from her brother's death and how her family commemorated it. Vaughn briefly discusses the war rationing and how she missed having bananas. She says meat was in short supply and they had substitutes like macaroni and cheese and cottage cheese. The interviewer goes on to ask her about specific brand names and other specific items of daily life. She discusses how they had to go to the doctor for birth control products.

Keywords: Brand names; Coty Airspun Powder; Coty Airspun powders; Coty Powder; Coty powders; Death notices; Eastern Kentucky; Household products; Jergen; Jergen's; Little Debbie; Makeup; Moon pies; Pond's cold cream; Second World War; War rations; World War 2; World War II

Subjects: Birth control.; Cosmetics.; Families.; Family histories.; Family--history; Food and drink; Grief.; Jenkins (Ky.); Letcher County (Ky.); Military; Processed foods; Rationing; World War, 1939-1945.

01:57:47 - Favorite and least favorite memories about Jenkins

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Partial Transcript: What are some of your favorite memories living in Jenkins?

Segment Synopsis: Vaughn says one of her favorite memories in Jenkins are the Christmas traditions, including singing and dancing. She says the radio played Big Band music and they would listen to the radio on Saturday nights. She states that most people had a radio and it was large and in the living room. She mentions playing a card game called Saw with her dad. She says her least favorite thing about living in Jenkins was that you could get lonely. She describes how she had to write a letter every Sunday night to her brother in the military. She says the city seemed to stay the same when she went back to visit. They conclude by talking about other people in the town.

Keywords: Big band music; Dances; Dancing; Eastern Kentucky; Entertainment; Radios; Socializing; Weekends

Subjects: Big bands; Card games; Christmas.; Families.; Family histories.; Family--history; Holidays.; Jenkins (Ky.); Letcher County (Ky.); Military; Music.; Radio.; Recreation; Singing.; Socialization.