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Interview with Lorraine Virginia Beasley Gilley

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  • Lorraine Virginia Beasley Gilley talks about life before and during World War II, and recalls the three years her sweetheart served in the war during which time they maintained their relationship by exchanging letters. She remembers saving the money she made working at Renfro Hosiery Mill to add to his service pay so they could open a garage where he used the training he gained as a mechanic in the army to support them once she quit work after getting married. Also present during the interview was Sherry, the interviewer's mother.
  • Lorraine Virginia Beasley Gilley, her home, 10-12-09 at 11 :21 am Key: L=Lorraine (interviewee), J- Jenny (interviewer), and S- Sherry (Interviewer's mother) J- What is your full name? L-Loraine Virginia Beasley Gilley J- Are you aware that this is being recorded? Do you know that this is being recorded? • L-Yes ma'am I do. J- When were you born? J- Where did you grow up? L- On Banner Street in Mt. Airy J- Have you always lived there? L-Up until Earlie and I married I lived there. J- When did y' all get married? L- June 15 1946. J-Did you have any kind of job growing up in your community or in your family? What were your roles? L- After I graduated from high school I went to work and Renfro Hosiery Mill and worked there until the day I got married. The day I got married I moved to Pilot Mtn. and I quit. J- Were you a stay at home mom then? L- Oh yes uhuh Carole was our first born she was born 18 18 or 19 months after we were married and then little Earlie Jr. didn't come along till 12 year later J- What would you like to do with your free time? L-Well right now instead of watching tv I would like to read more. I was always an avid reader I loved good stories and I loved history real good. I love to read about that. I would enjoy reading I think the most. And of course the tv now stands in for that J- What was your favorite period to read about in history? L- In later years I think looking back on WWII, b/c see I was a young girl my sweetheart went off to war. We only had correspondence for let's see it was 3 years and 3 days he served in the army, and we had correspondence between us. And he only got one furlough in that three years. So that was a long period of time of not seeing each other and not holding on to what love you did have you know with him gone all the time like it was. J- Yea I think it's bad, my sweetheart is 5 hours away so in the summer time I only get to see him a couple of times in the summer and I think that's awful so I couldn't imagine it. L-Yea it is hard on ya, and army life is hard on ya. But see the WWII was going on then. And there was a case of having to but he got out as soon as the war was over. His period was up J- What kind of impact would you say that the war had on your community, like what was the community's reaction? L- Well this was not my community when I was involved, well I wasn't involved with it, but you know I was like everybody else who listened to the newscasts where they were coming from see if it was in the directions he was in and everything like that. I think war affects everybody. I think It draws people together, I know it did he and myself because when he finally got that first furlough before he went overseas when he come home we had very long talks we knew that wasn't any time to get married you know young people and him going off to war you know we used some common sense along with it and we just decided that we would wait till the turmoil in the world was a little better and he got to come home and that was what he done and we didn't rush into it when he came home we dated for 6 months and really got to know each other we found out that distant love made homemade love it was fine. Worked out very good for us we had a happy marriage two children and a Christian life serving the lord and church it was wonderful I had a wonderful marriage but I miss him. (Tears up) J- Well umm what kind of urn, where you grew up was there any way that the community tried to help in the war effort? Would the churches doing any kind of love offering or anything? L- I can't remember the church doing it. I went to the friends church then after we got married I moved there, here I went over to Jessup's grove Baptist church I went first and he followed two or three months after I did. We both w ere members over there he was when he passed away I still am but I don't go though. A lot of the Sundays I am able to go it's such a problem for Carole to come and help me dress make sure my hairs fixed or its looks like it does now sorta draggy so I do the best I can. J- How do you think the economy of the time period affected your family? L- Now or then? J- Then. L- Well its really didn't hurt. I was working at a little job at Renfro Mills. I liked the work I was an only child I stayed at home with mamma and daddy they didn't never charge me anything mamma had my meals cooked and when i come in from work and when I got my pay check I always saved out a little money to spend but I saved most of it and he saved most of what he was getting while he was in service he had so much taking out of his little pay check the only expense was his cigarettes he loved to smoke course I took that up too. He enjoyed them and he saved enough out for his cigarettes and that was it. so we started out with a little bit of money it wasn't much and his dad, I don't know if you want me to go this far or not, his dad offered him some timber off the farm where he and his mother lived he came from a big family 8 children and he was the oldest. He offered him a little piece of land. It wasn't much. It was enough to put a house on. so we bought one acre of land right here where the house is sitting and part of the driveway out here and the old store building the wooden store building use to sit a little closer to my house than it does now after building another after going into it full time and hiring three mechanics he took in a lot of work to pay them people for working for him. I don't know some people said it would never work out here in the country 'cause I mean there wasn't nothing out here back then. We built four little rooms in the back of that store that store building and we lived there for five years Carole was already here when we moved out here. • J- So was it a rocky start? L- Pretty much. We had to borrow the money to stock the little store of course it would cost a fortune now but it don't cost that much in 1940,46, wasn't it? 47, 48 somewhere along in there but we run that little store we worked in that we had enough room to get one car in cause that was the kind of job he had in the service was a mechanic and he was already mechanically minded he had worked on a lot of old cars and every car that they ever got at the Gilley farm was a old second hand beat down thing that took a lot of work to get it to work on the fann he got good training just homemade training. Of course he went to a few schools too after he got into it every time they'd change cars well not every year but when the made drastic changes in the automobiles Earlie and Wade both would go to school and you know learn about them so they'd know how to work on them because they was both mechanically minded. J- So would you say that there was a difference in the economy before or after the war? Did y'all even see a change? Or was it pretty much living life? L- No it was sorta hard to start with we had four little rooms at the back of the little store building behind the garage. We lived out there 5 years before we came out here to live and of course we didn't have the garage part but there was a little change to the looks but not much. And would y'all believe it, This house has been painted 5 times I think if I'm counting right and did you know I had never had redoing upstairs or nothing it's just like it was when we moved in J- Wow. L-The bedrooms is all the same I got one bedroom over here with a picture window in just like in the living room here. In the other two bedrooms on the backside they just got normal sized windows and I don't know if we had that furniture for year now my furniture is now antique we come down here and there was no moving back, my floors I think have been finished one time all together. The hall way and the dining room doesn't have any rugging and living room has carpet and the kitchen has linoleum and the first that we ever laid is up there right now. I mean that's a long time. This past June the 15th we was married, 1946 wasn't it 61 years or 60 years. J-63 years. L-Well that's how long we've been married. So that was a long time. J- That's remarkable though that you haven't done any kind of remodeling or anything L- Nah we didn't. Now it's been painted now. J- But that's a little different L- Yeah gosh and that's enough don't you hate to tear up that thing even if it does look so pretty after you get it put back together. J- We just did that at our house back home we tore up all the carpets repainted every wall in the house new countertops it was a mess for over 6 months it was at-total mess. L-It is. It's a mess to try and live in it and get it fixed. J- Yea it's so frustrating because you can't clean it up. L- Yea can't clean it up, ya cant find what you're looking for cause you've piled it up on top of something else. J-Put it in a box and thrown in the attic. L- Yea. J- That's what we did. L- Yeah lets move this so we can get it painted back to normal like and then that box iis gone out of sight. And then sometimes when you come across one of them boxes you've found a treasure. Both: Laughter J- Let's see did you are your family buy war bonds during the war? L-Yeah I did. J- You did? L- Uhuh I think there is one left I think I mean that's been since WWII how silly of me but wasn't 25 dollars as cheap of one you could get? Do you remember? J-I honestly don't know. L-1 don't remember now don't sit this down cause I'm not sure on it but I think that was as cheap as one you could get, you could get one for 50 or I 00 dollar and seem like I got one for 25 dollar one time. I always put a little money back I was working at Renfro then. I knew I was gonna get married and I was gonna come down here and I didn't know how to drive then in fact he didn't even have a car then he just come out of service it had been 6 months but I was at Mt. Airy and he was down here and Lordy this road up here wasn't paved this country has changed a whole lot since we got married. J-Yeah, well did you ever cash it in? L-Seem like I got one over there that I never did J- Still? L- I haven't been in the safe in such long time I don't even know. Earlie use to go and open up the safe every once and a while on a Saturday afternoon and pilfer through the papers and all such stuff but I can't remember so I won't tell ya for sure. Ifl have even if it was a cheap one it would be worth a little money now, if I still got one, and I think I have but I don't know for sure you know cause you don't go to money you try to save we use to when he would draw a check we put some in a savings account but good gracious for many year we didn't draw no check for work we just bought and paid what we had to pay we made sure the light bill was paid we made sure the taxes was paid and such as that so you wouldn't get in no problems of no kind you didn't have no money to lay up I don't know how it is now ifl was able to get out and go like I once did my little old social security check would be gone two weeks after I get it cause you • could go to Mt. Airy and spend what you really ought not to but do anyway. That's the way I use to be J- Yea that gets me in trouble a lot. More than it should. I took up and got a job my last year of high school and you know I don't have a lot of money from that job and I worked that job for three or four months easy. And I don't have any of that I had saved I don't know where it went either. It's a mystery. L-Well the difference in you and me I didn't operate a car and you did. So right there went part of the money. Regardless of what mamma and daddy give you sometimes in your pocket that was money that you I believe I'll go buy me a new pair of shorts or a new pair of pants or something like that, the gas tanks empty. Right There went the money. You didn't get no new clothes that go around and that's the way it goes and every family's the same way it ain't just you or your family its mine too and I had both youngin's earl and carol and my squirrel he's busy ain't he (conversation about the squirrel outside) ... J-What kind of job did you have at the mill? L- I was a seamer I put tops on socks you got the foot with the toe out and the top with nothing on it they had these tops they were about that long about like my 3 fingers there real soft material and I always put my id turn it you have to turn it I would turn it was I picked it up ... (Meals on wheels guy came in and joked around) Elapsed time of the visit 23min 11 sec.- 30min 9sec J- So I think you were telling me about your job as a seamstress, your job at the mill. L-Uh yeah I seamed at the mill right after I graduated from high school it was out of question about me going to college I was an only child and mamma and daddy was as tight on me as id been wild and wasn't near a bit wild I was a stay at home youngin' I didn't do nothing but study my books when I got home from school mamma always had supper cooked and little chores done that what she done all day long she didn't want me to do nothing unless it was on Saturday mornings I'd help doo things and id even go to the kitchen a few times and help her Saturday when she'd cook as a rule I did what I wanted to. I had a good childhood. But I never did have no. I want you to watch ... (Squirrel conversation again led to swimming pool conversation). J-Was there anything going on in your community during the war such as like scrap drives or anything like that? L- Seems like I can remember some but a lot of times it was uh aluminum products like aluminum pie pans and all like when you get a pie already fixed over at the super market. Sherry you know? And mamma would just stack hers up and just keep 'em and keep 'em and if she ever made pies you know there at the house mamma would make something called a butter pie, and me and daddy both loved it it was butter and sugar with a little bit of flour mixed with those dry ingredients you just used ,she always rolled her pie crust out to, me I just buy them seemed like the best thing to do it, and uh she would roll that sugar and flour up all up together with her fingers here before she put them there in that pie then she would then she would dab butter all around it then she would strip it with the strips bout like my finger there and criss·cross it make a pretty little ole pie and on top after she had when she poured her milk in she tried to pour in in · between the squares o she wouldn't get sweet milk on top of the pie crust. But she would uh take her hand and uh get her some soft butter she always put her a dab out on the cabinets to get it to room temperature she would take her hand and pat that pat it all over the strips on that pie and make it pretty and brown. I learned that from mamma. I don't make pies no more. Don't we get sorry. Shucks, you can buy those ol nickel cakes, use to could buy 'em for a nickel I don't guess you can buy e'm for a nickel no more, but good gracious that's a whole lot better to reach in there take that cellophane paper off eat that instead of fooling with desserts and ive spent mornings making pies for the weekend and let 'em last as long till they'd be so dried out when you ea the last up you had to soak in coffee to be able to swallow it to get to chew it to swallow it, it'd be so dried out. J-Who do you know that served in WWII? L- My husband served in WWII. J- What years was he in the war? L-Gosh your working my brain aren't you? J- Sorry. L· I believe Earlie's years was around 42, 43, 44, and he came home Christmas eve 1945 J- That was a good Christmas present. L-What a wonderful Christmas and I tell you what don't you put this in writing (part omitted by request) when he came home the weather as I told you the weather was, it was terrible, it was sleeting and snowing the roads was slick no traffic on the roads you couldn't get out on the front porch it was slick you would fall up bust your hiney LORD HAVE MERCY such a day you never in your life and mamma and daddy heat with coal that was back when daddy worked at the furniture factory and he alwaysed ordered him a ton of coal for the winter months and have it delivered over at our house and mamma would go every evening and fill them buckets up but she'd always put an extra one on the porch if it was bad weather and she had put that extra bucket on the porch we had a fire going in the living room my bedroom and kitchen stove she had a wood stove an electric stove ... ( undecipherable) she would had that for us there to keep us warm and it was great. J. That was back when it use to snow a lot here. L-Yeah! J- It doesn't snow anymore. And urn was he drafted or did he volunteer? L- He was drafted and he left two days before Christmas and he came back on Christmas eve that was unusual. But at Fort Bragg that go around that he came home, he didn't come home at the first go around he didn't have enough points system on his to come home but he did on the 2"d go around and that was on Christmas eve. He said at Fort Bragg he meaned it'd be Christmas eve them fellas really worked hard and fast to try to process everyone that they could to get on the road to get home by Christmas cause you know Fort Bragg was about the center of the whole state you know. Carole's got his picture. I had his picture over here on the wall. Now why she took that thing home with her, ew. I said Carole you leave that thing here and when I'm gone you and earl can fight over it. She didn't listen to me and she carried it home with her. J- Now what branch of the army was he in was he in the army since he was down at Fort Bragg? L- He was in the army but uh he wasn'tin the uh infantry. He didn't have to really go into the work like that, he was in the uh well it some to do with cooking. Uh he cooked some for them and what's the other thing that they done they did that more than they did the cooking part too. The cooking part was just for that unit that was there I can't tell ya. Gosh you've asked me some hard questions. J- I'm sorry. How would you that him being in the military affected you? L- Affected me? Well don't know as it really affected me we were sensible people to start with and we talked and he says to me you tell me what you think. He wanted my opinon first before he got his I mean before he gave his what do you think about us getting married and I said well the love is there and that's what I desire, but I don't think this is no time to marry and I was right in that too. 'Cause we both talked about it a long time after our marriage and said we done the most sensible thing said a lot of them didn't do that here a lot of them was they had three or four nights together and then they was gone. He says it leaves a letdown for the wife as well as it did for the husband. he said I had to go with all that bunch of boys that I took that training with and go and serve across the water and never did get to come back till the day he come back to Fort Bragg and was discharged so it but I was thankful that we had what little time we did have before hand he before he went in to date and get to know each other we knew then sorta how we really missed each other when he really did go and he asked me he says I'm not gonna ask you yet that you not go with nobody because we have just met and he says I am attracted to you and I would love to stay here and be with you but there is no way I can I've got to go. So he left and went into service and I stayed at home and I didn't date no body. I just I just didn't. And uh he never did get but one furlough. Lord that was a kissing time 'cause I tell ya we had very little time seems like it was 9 days at home. At was short time out of 3 year. so he went into service and stayed there until the day he came home. There was sleet on the ground in mt airy and the bus station you know where the bus station use to be sherry? Uh you know where the post office is? Well there use to be a service station as you come down Rockford street you could look out over there and see that service station and you could see the the bus station too it wasn't out on south street like it is now. And he uh that was where he come into he had uh a buddy do you remember Chester cook? S-I know that name L- He lived right over here well Chester brought him to my house and there was sleet on the ground and I knew when I opened and there he stood I was so shocked and so thrilled I cried and cried and cried and he cried a little bit, you know it was because it had been a long time since id saw him. We didn't see each other but about seem like it was 9 days it might not have been that many the whole time the whole three years while he was in service but now we wrote our letters to each other and I threw every one of them away I burnt them. I saved them for years. I saved them for year and you don't know how much I wish I had them letters right now to read. I mean we uh we you know when you wrote that many letters to each other, great day and morning you • repeated yourself a whole lot that's alright we did and I put stamps on mine he didn't have to put stamps on his but I wrote every night and I wrote every night too. Some days I wouldn't get a letter and some days I would get two or three. It would bunch on them the mail you know the way the mail gets any way. J- So how was y'alls how was either yours or his attitude having to going into the war? Were either of one ofy'all bitter? L- No I don't think Earlie was near-e-bit bitter because he had to serve and I wasn't. just think of how many of hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of boys and some girls that was serving that mothers sweethearts and wives and children there was a lot of 'em children born to service men. And when me and Earlie talked to each together about marriage we talked about sensible sensible things you know cause there was always that chance if ya got married, got pregnant there ya had a baby to look after by yourself till he got home if he got home. So. But Carole's got daddy's picture it was made in service is made in his uniform it's a good picture I think J- Was there a lot about the war in the newspapers and radio? L- Yes he never did write me nothing much about situations that was what happened to him he was in danger a few times over there and he wasn't even in the infantry where ya done fighting. He didn't like the army he had to go the drafted him J- Where all did he end up going? L- Where? J- Where did he end up going? L- He went to Germany and France, there was what other country over there, there was three of them over there he was in. J- Did you save any newspaper clippings or pictures from that time period? I know that you had saved the letters for a while but then you burned them. L- Yea I got rid ofthem b/c that was something personal between me and him as I moved them from one box to the other I had a great big box. I uh read them as id read them I would cry a little bit and burn it I just got rid of them I didn't even save one, not one. J- And uh is there anything else you would like to tell me that I maybe didn't touch on that was important to you? L- Uh one thing? I always was invited two of the years. the first year was the year we had met and went together but the next two years before he came home from the service I was invited to come to his family and enjoy Christmas and he always seen to it that I had a little gift under the tree. Course I was wearing a diamond then an engagement ring we done said we wasn't gonna try to marry while he was in service due to the fact that just about everyone I knew that'd get married the first thing they'd do just about would get pregnant. And I told Earlie well for sure for certain I don't want to marry while you're in service id rather wait till you get this service over with before we get married so that when we do get married we can stay together and he agreed with me and that was what we decided on between ourselves. And we didn't marry until, he was back home at Christmas time and we didn't marry then till June we didn't hop on the married • trail that quick. We hadn't seen each other or dated we hadn't done our going out together enough so we went out together a whole lot he had an old 41 ford he'd come on Sundays and get me a cause momma wouldn't let me stay out after 9 in car she would mamma was tight on me and bed come and get me int hat 41 ford wed come out here to his mammas place and daddy too he was there and wed stroll around on the farm and court down to the woods and then we'd come back home down to her house she always had cakes and pies and things like that shed cook on the weekends wed eat a bite and take bring me back home before dark, she said you get her back here before dark, and he minded her. He come home in December. the last of December for Christmas and uh he brought me that watch back, he put that watch in that condom so that it wouldn't get broken for one thing and wet and wrapped it up in some of his shorts or other pants and shirts or something in his suitcase and wrapped it up so it it had something so if it bang against anything and it'd protect it J- You mentioned earlier that growing up you didn't have a car growing up that you had to put gas in or anything like that, well did your family hae one to get from one place to the other Mamma and daddy did have a car until, It wasn't till Earlie came back from service that daddy had him a car, Earlie found him one it had gears in it you know it was a coupe and that was the runningist car Earlie put a motor in it course wed done married then but my daddy had never drove we didn't have a car he caught a ride with some of the neighbors around there to go to the factory to work every day and rode home with them. Sometimes on Friday nights he kept urn, do you remember when there was a little service station where the hospital sets now? S- Yes L- My daddy worked right there and helped Edgar and will run that little store there for year s and years and years. Edgar Griffith run that little store and urn daddy would come by there and helped them there at the service station let them have an hour or two off them go home and eat and see there youngins and do such things as that J- So growing up did y'all have a farm here where y'all would have enough stuff to get your vegetables and things like that? L-Oh yea mamma and daddy always had a garden and we did after we married. We lived in four little old rooms at the back of the first little old wooden building Earlie built out there the store and room enough for one car a. garage room enough to work on one car. And worked that way we did for a number of years till we were able to get out debt and got able to building something a little bigger and course he got into it a little deeper and u know sellin' parts most of what Earlie use to sell back when they 1st started wasn't new parts it was old parts from old riggs and all you know a whole lot of old riggs every once and while there was a man who would come down from out of Virginia and he would load up all he could on the bed ofhis old flatbed truck then and uh Earlie would sell him the old junks what was left of them cause they had took parts of them. Cause anytime anybody came with what they had they'd use an old part to get to put it back together. I declare it's a sight to think you start out with nothing and end up with a house and it full of, I wouldn't say it's all nice furniture it ain't, its livable I don't give my chair up for no body though. Laughs I don't like the one you're sitting in I sat in it for years and the reason I don't like it is cause its leathery and its cold as shhh and freezes my tail off and I can't stand that I told Earlie I said I want one just exactly like it all expect I want it made out of fabric. I said • when I set down in I don't want that cold to go plum up my crack and freeze me. Laughter Oh Lordy. J- I think I have one more question you said that you followed the radio a lot and follow a lot to see how things were going over there to see if he was ok, do you remember by any chance what kind of show you would listen to. L- Of course the newscast you can always find something out about what's going on on the other side of the world through a news cast but another thing I would pay attention to was, he most all the time tried to name the biggest town to close to where he was at so I could look at the map and sorta tell where he was at so I would pay attention if he named over a town over there, just for instance the biggest one I can think of is Paris he was in France for a right good little while and he was close by Paris but the lttle old place he was at didn't say Paris but he was closer Paris than any other big city. And he went into Paris any number of times I know I use to laugh and tease him, "yeah and I bet you had a girl friend while you was over there didn't ya too" usually that was what they think of any way but he wouldn't admit it.
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Object’s are ‘parent’ level descriptions to ‘children’ items, (e.g. a book with pages).