Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Edythe V. Burgess, December 10, 1999

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
Toggle Index/Transcript View Switch.
Search this Index
00:00:01 - Growing up in a boarding house

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Is it ready now?

Segment Synopsis: Burgess discusses growing up in a boarding house and the kinds of things the boarding house provided for those that rented rooms. She also talks about her mother's love for canning and preserving food and reminisces about some of the people that came to the boarding house to have meals. Burgess also discusses their family life after the boarders retired for the night.

Keywords: All-you-can-eat; Arthritis; Banana pudding; Bathrooms; Book-keeping; Brothers; Children; Dick Cantrell; Fathers; Florist shops; Freight; Hobos; Hugh Cantrell; Hunger; Leftovers; Living rooms; Marriage; Meals; Mothers; Pineapple pudding; Pinto beans; Quarts; Radio; Railroad depots; Rent; Sewing machines; Sisters; Television; The Great Depression; Turnip greens; Utilities; Vacancy; Water department; Women

Subjects: Boarding houses; Canning and preserving; Childhood; Etowah (Tenn.); Families; Georgia; Railroad workers; Railroads; Washington

00:10:33 - The fear of losing her father

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Uh, do you ever remember a time that you were scared about anything?

Segment Synopsis: Burgess talks about her father telling her and her siblings that he felt as though he was going to die. She talks about his Native American heritage. She also talks about how her father loaned money to gamblers to pay their gambling debts and how he called in those loans to pay for Burgess to go to college.

Keywords: Birthdays; Checks; Cherokee; Clothes; Colleges; Fathers; Fears; Gambling; Men; Money; Sewage lines; Utilities; Water lines; Wives

Subjects: Boarding houses; Death; Education; Etowah (Tenn.); Heritage; Native American

00:14:06 - The effects of the Great Depression on the boarding house

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Uh, how did the Depression affect you all?

Segment Synopsis: Burgess discusses the Great Depression and her job around the boarding house. She also talks about her aunt Icie Edwards, who ran a boarding house down the street, as well as her mother's reaction to being called 'maw'.

Keywords: Banisters; Boarders; Chores; Clothes; Crowds; English; Fires; Flowers; Food; Foyer; Icie Edwards; Lather; Mothers; Poverty; Restaurants; Stairs; The Great Depression; Walter Edwards

Subjects: Boarding houses; Cisco (Ga.); Death; Depressions--1929; Economic depressions; Etowah (Tenn.); Georgia; Railroads

00:18:55 - Life disappointments and turning points

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Uh, what was the--a major disappointment in your life?

Segment Synopsis: Burgess talks about how she is disappointed that she didn't have the opportunity to perform on stage more with the Little Theater. She also discusses the point in her life where she started to acquire expensive tastes despite her modest upbringing.

Keywords: Acquisition; Hardware stores; High schools; Little Theater; Our Town (Play); Pajama parties; Plays; Stage work; Tennessee Wesleyan University

Subjects: Disappointments; Travel; Vision

00:21:47 - The town characters of Etowah, Tennessee

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Uh, what, uh--are there any community or town characters that you can remember here?

Segment Synopsis: Burgess discusses some of the prominent people that she remembers living in Etowah, Tennessee. She also talks about some of tapes and articles that were written and recorded by Etowah historian Frank McKinney that have gone missing through the years and where they could potentially be found.

Keywords: Articles; City managers; Frank McKinney; Historians; Irene McKinney; Martha Kinser; Mike Cantrell; Newspapers; P. S. Taylor; Suzie Blue; Tapes; Tash Arnold

Subjects: Communities; Etowah (Tenn.)

00:24:30 - Her first and only love

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Tell me about the first time you fell in love.

Segment Synopsis: Burgess tells the story of how she and her husband met, their time dating, and their marriage. She also talks about how they spent their honeymoon and their time traveling while her husband was in the military.

Keywords: Chicken houses; Colleges; Dining cars; Flirting; Honeymoons; Houses; Husbands; Kitchens; Oliver Greene Burgess; Sororities; Sorority; Swimming; Trains

Subjects: Amarillo (Tex.); Love; Marriage; Relationships; Travel

00:27:29 - Ghost stories

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Did you ever tell a lot of ga--uh, ghost stories or anything like that?

Segment Synopsis: Burgess discusses telling ghost stories at the pajama parties she and her friends would have when they were younger. She also talks about how they would sneak off and go to a vacant lot to cook out during the night.

Keywords: Bacon; Eggs; Pajama parties; Potatoes; Sleepovers

Subjects: Childhood; Ghost stories; Paranormal; YMCA

00:28:27 - Going to school in Etowah, Tennessee

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Uh, what about, uh, you said that you really couldn't tell anything about the Depression from where you were as a child.

Segment Synopsis: Burgess discusses going to school in Etowah, Tennessee and whether or not she knew anyone that was "troubled." They also talk about the interviewer's mother and how Burgess used to watch her go to church. The interviewer gives some details about her mother and how she taught lessons to the older people in church. The interviewer also talks about her own family life and the way her mother took care of her children.

[There is a break in the audio in this segment at 29:43.]

Keywords: Brothers; Churches; Classes; Clothes; Fires; Generosity; Help; High schools; Jobs; Lollipops; Lunches; May Cantrell; Money; Sisters; Socks; Suicide; Teachers; The Great Depression; Towns

Subjects: Catholicism; Etowah (Tenn.); Families; Methodist

00:36:33 - A brief family and community history

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Did your father learn his trade with the utilities af--uh, on the job after he got here?

Segment Synopsis: Burgess tells the story of how her mother's family came to the United States of America and then how her father and mother came to Etowah, Tennessee. She also discusses the Oregon Trail, and the methods some of the people in Etowah used to socialize with other members of the community. The interviewer talks about a story that was told to her about a few of the townspeople's first experiences in Etowah.

Keywords: "Big Boy" Wilson; Articles; Balloons; Bandstands; Children; Cholera; Decisions; Duke Rankin; Eggs; English; Fathers; Fireplaces; Fires; Football; Goodyear; Heat; High schools; JC Penney; Jakey Dunn; Jane Rankin; Jobs; Living rooms; Mothers; Ohio Avenue; Oregon Trail; Speakers; Stories; Stoves; Suckers; Task Arnold; Trade; Trains; Walter Edwards

Subjects: Alabama; Boarding houses; Communities; Emigration and immigration.; Etowah (Tenn.); Families.; Family farms; Family histories; Farmers; Georgia; Railroads; Tennessee

00:47:25 - Some outstanding women in Etowah, Tennessee / School activities

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Uh, what about any outstanding women in town, do you know?

Segment Synopsis: Burgess discusses the teacher that she admired in school, as well as the teacher that she disliked. She also comments on the first boy and girl babies born in Etowah. In regards to her school years, she comments on whether or not they had dances and proms. They also discuss After Hours.

Keywords: After Hours; Banks; Banquets; Catering; Dances; Dates; Dinners; Encouragement; Formal; History; Horace Thomas; Jessie McCurdy; Pictures; Proms; Science; Suzie Blue; Ted Reins

Subjects: Communities; Etowah (Tenn.); Knoxville (Tenn.); Teachers.

00:52:31 - Her mother's death

Play segment

Partial Transcript: What about the washing and the ironing?

Segment Synopsis: Burgess talks about her mother's tasks that she performed around the boarding house, as well as who helped her with it. She also discusses how her mother died and relays her son's "premonition" of his grandmother's death.

Keywords: Barrels; Breakfast; Children; Clothes; Cooking; Dinner; Gardens; Grandma; Grandmothers; Heart attacks; Help; Husbands; Kitchens; Laundry; Letters; Mothers; Peacemakers; Rent; Rug boards; Schools; Sewing; Sheets; Sisters; Supper; Towels; Tubs

Subjects: Boarding houses; Death; Etowah (Tenn.); Families; Ironing; Washing (laundry)

00:59:31 - The boarding house and church across the street

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Okay, this is my dad's favorite joke and I've heard him tell it three dozen, four dozen times.

Segment Synopsis: At the beginning of the segment, Burgess shares a joke that her father used to tell to people. She also shares her hiding places, her glee when she got her own room, and some more details about the boarding house. She also talks about the church across the street from her house and the shenanigans they carried out in it.

Keywords: Alone; Balcony; Books; Chairs; Characters; Chimney; Churches; Cob pipes; Front porches; Grandma; Grandmothers; Gymnasiums; Home; Jokes; Letters; Marriage; Money; Mothers; Plants; Quilts; Reading; Rooms; Stamps; Sunday school; Swallows

Subjects: Boarding houses; Childhood; Communities; Etowah (Tenn.); Tornadoes

01:07:20 - Her father and church involvement

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Were you the only, uh, person in your family to go to college?

Segment Synopsis: Burgess gives a detailed description of her father and how proud he was of her college education, as well as his religious affiliation. Burgess and the interviewer also reminisce about going to different churches and nursing homes to sing.

Keywords: Canes; Churches; Colleges; Fathers; High heels; Indian; Loans; Mothers; North Etowah Baptist Church; Nursing homes; Pipes; Preaching; Pride; Singing

Subjects: Christianity; Education; Religion

01:10:28 - Spending time with her family

Play segment

Partial Transcript: What else do you have on that list?

Segment Synopsis: Burgess talks about going out on picnics with her family and going on road trips to Georgia. She also comments that her mother would not allow animals in the house, so she did not have any pets growing up. She discusses the appetite of the boarders and whether they took advantage of the "all-you-can-eat" aspect of the boarding house.

Keywords: Animals; Cars; Eyelashes; Fathers; Food; Mothers; Pets; Picnics

Subjects: Boarding houses; Etowah (Tenn.); Families; Georgia

01:13:14 - Her love for school

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Uh, do you have any bad experiences in school?

Segment Synopsis: Burgess discusses her feelings towards her education and how she came into school knowing how to read. She also talks about how her mother had to help her sister, Marie, with her studies because she despised it and had an ill temper.

Keywords: Comic strips; Experiences; Homework; Lessons; Marriage; Reading; Schools; Temper; Writing

Subjects: Education; Etowah (Tenn.); Families

01:15:08 - Her family's emotional disconnect

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Um, but I--we didn't share a lot between sisters.

Segment Synopsis: Burgess talks about the reason underlying her family's emotional disconnect as she tells the story of her sister who died as an infant from the flu epidemic.

Keywords: Children; Cold; Flu epidemic; Influenza epidemic; Mothers; Pneumonia

Subjects: Death; Emotions; Families; Georgia; Sickness

01:17:59 - The tornado of 1974

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Uh, what about any really frightening thing?

Segment Synopsis: Burgess talks about the tornado that ripped through Etowah, Tennessee in 1974. She also comments about her sister, Gladys, who was living in her family's old boarding house at that time.

Keywords: Age; Basements; Debris; Frightening; Granddaughters; Marriage; Mother-figures; Mothers; Natural disasters; Sisters; Tennessee Avenue

Subjects: Death; Etowah (Tenn.); Families; Tornadoes

01:21:56 - Her husband's disability

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Let me think.

Segment Synopsis: Burgess discusses the hardest thing she ever had to face and reveals her husband's deteriorated health. She also talks about how her father died.

Keywords: Fathers; Hard times; Husbands; Paralysis; Strokes

Subjects: Death; Disability; Illness

01:23:37 - Her smoking habit

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Are they any changes in your life you're sorry that were made?

Segment Synopsis: Burgess discusses her nicotine addiction and how she told her mother, who was completely against smoking, about her bad habit. She also talks about how she stopped smoking, as well as her cancer diagnosis and her current health.

Keywords: Cigarettes; Cold turkey; Dangerous; Genes; Marriage; Mothers; Nicotine patches; Old age; Radiation; Regrets; Sisters; Smoke; Surgery

Subjects: Cancer; Chemotherapy; Nicotine addiction; Quitting smoking; Smoking

01:29:29 - Final comments

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Is there anything that you want to add?

Segment Synopsis: Burgess makes some final comments about Etowah, Tennessee and tells a story about when she and her husband were travelling during his stint in the United States military.

[This segment is cut short in the middle of a sentence.]

Keywords: Elections; Etowah Enterprise; Politics

Subjects: Etowah (Tenn.); Military; Travel.