Women's Work in Alleghany County, NC

by Heidi M. Efird

"The best society in the mountains - that is today, the most interesting - is that of young married men and that of the older women." (Emma Bell Miles 1905)

While doing background research, early participant observation, and informal interviews in my month in the field, I discovered that the work of women in Appalachia is a topic that is often overlooked or just simply accepted unquestioned. Appalachian families themselves do not seem to acknowledge the labor of women.

Many questions come to mind. For instance, why do women do "paid" work? How do they feel about all of their work? Do they consider housework to be work? What do they think about working publicly and/or privately? Patricia Beaver writes, "Women work first for money. Families need money to survive, and women work for the same reason that men work: to support their families. But just like men they work for other reasons too, including job satisfaction, status, variety,social opportunities, and escape from the routine of housework" (1978-80:31). In my ethnographic research many of these reasons were found to be true along with others.

In my interview data, some patterns of women working throughout the generations were found. However, the way that women dismissed themselves and their mothers or grandmothers as"just housewives" was a very interesting phenomenon in many of the cases. In reality, none of these women are "just housewives." They have worked from the outset of their early marriages. As Julian Ralph wrote in 1903, "Women are all drudges after marriage and are married in childhood, drudging is their lot until they die. They do all the work of cabin and farm, excepting during the few days at harvest time when the men help to garner the crops. They bear very many children, they: cook,wash, mend, weave, knit, plow, hoe, weed, milk the cows, and do practically all else that is to be done" (quoted in Beaver 1986:106).

And although this was written in the distant past, many of these living women certainly demonstrate this "working until you die" mentality. However due to changing times, they now have different jobs.

The work of women in Appalachia, although a necessity for daily functioning, is treated as simply that: normal functioning. Therefore, women's work histories in the region, some of which are very lengthy, have never been recorded or even spoken about. So in order to record some history of women in the region, and their diversity and importance, I devised this project. Histories of the women and anything they knew about their mother and grandmothers were recorded. Much of the Appalachian literature on women scarcely describes the work of women that is not solely coal mining. Here I cover the work of several women, highlighting the diversity in four specific case studies ranging from beef cattle farming to school teaching. Although more women were interviewed in all, the four selected case studies demonstrate the great diversity to be found in a small and fairly homogeneous Appalachian rural community. On the surface these women's lives seem simple, but their life and work experience is long and varied. And these women, all of them over 50 years of age, are still working, some now more than ever before. I chose to interview mature women, most of whom coincidentally are widows, to gain longer work histories than I would have with younger women. This study then also represents an historical perspective on Appalachian women's work.

The Status of Research on Women's Work

Until recently, research into gender in Appalachia was limited. As Sally Maggard states,"gender analysis is an underdeveloped region in Appalachian studies" (1993:1). Along with gender,the misunderstood term of "work" is also underdeveloped in the published research on Appalachia. What constitutes "work," and what does not, is confused, skipped, assumed, and glossed over in Appalachian research. As Bruce Ergood states, "an obvious deficiency in the sociological literature on the Appalachian community is the analysis of work. Despite the growing literature on the 'single industry community,' we have no good studies on industrial communities in the mountains"(1983:48).

The idea of patriarchy still exists in southern Appalachian families. Patricia Beaver found that "sex role differentiation begins at birth as daughters in pink and sons in blue begin their indoctrination into American adulthood" (1978-80:85). And Frank Riddel states that "patriarchal regardless of economic level, women [of Appalachia] are taught to serve men and to consider themselves somewhat inferior. Men are taught to consider themselves the superior sex. Wives keep the home in order, control the children, and satisfy the man's sexual needs" (1974:78). One way males maintain this domination is by not allowing the women outside the home. Some men of rural Appalachia think that men not only uphold the "work" of the community, but they go so far as to keep their wife isolated entirely from the public sphere. Ergood argues that, in some cases the wife has had little opportunity to operate as a responsible, independent individual in the wider world. In local phrasing, she has been kept 'barefoot and pregnant' the only life she knows is keeping house, bearing and rearing children, and soothing everyone's hurts (1983:271).

As has always been true for the people of Appalachia, making ends meet is a daily challenge. Jobs for the most part in Appalachia are scarce, underpaying, and unstable. In order to deal with these tensions and anxieties, the Appalachian people have tried and sometimes adopted different strategies. Many have entered fully into the industrial work force, sometimes commuting far distances, and in some cases staying away from home for days, weeks, or even months.

As Oberhauser notes, "since the restructuring of early 1970s many lower and middle class households have required two incomes to meet rising costs of living and contend with more vulnerable job situations" (Oberhauser 1993:7). Oberhauser remarks that in the "1950-1970s economic reconstructing during this period was directly linked to a variety of changes in household structure and operation. These changes include an increase in the proportion of households with both females and males in the paid labor force [and] an overall increase in female labor force participation" (1993:12). With this widespread change of more and more women entering the paid work force outside the home, Dinerman states the "majority of women are now working two kinds of domains: one unpaid, traditional, unvalued, unrecognized labor of caring for mate and children and home and another work of pay outside the home...the burden of work in both domains falls disproportionately on the women in two earner families..." (1992:78-79). Working outside and inside the home creates a "double day" of work for the women of Appalachia. Beaver observes, women in rural communities also have the double day; after a full shift in public work, they face full responsibility for all of the traditionally female work of home...with public work, the role of women in the family and community is being altered, and new patterns are being tested. [Some] women gain power in the allocation of household resources and increase their influence over the decisions in the community particularly in education and health care (1978:112).

In Appalachia, families survive through multiple livelihood strategies, that is people performing many kinds of work tasks in a given day, week, season and lifetime. People have had many sidelines but as Halperin (1990) notes, often it is difficult to determine which is the main job and which is the sideline. When a wife enters the labor force, it may be perceived as the lack of the husband's capability to provide for the family. Men tend to see the private and public spheres as very separate, whereas women often do not separate work from home. In fact much of the "work" done at home is often not recognized as such. Halperin comments that "so many time-consuming viable work activities are never called 'jobs' by anyone, either by people actually doing the work or by social scientists" (1990:8). And these tasks,Halperin continues, "are also not recorded in the labor statistics or in estimates of the gross national product" (1990:23).

The changes for women entering the work force seem to be dated to the Industrial Revolution and more recently to the 1950s and 1970s. Sancier says that the "Industrial Revolution detached the worker and paid work from the home...the meaning of time, work, family relationships,standards of living, roles and responsibilities, education, class relationships, and basic values were all reordered and changed forever" (1992:62-63). Sancier goes on to say:

Consequences that followed the severing of the workplace-family tie were the following...'Work' became a paid activity carried out away from the worker's residence. Conversely, the activities that took place in the home became less visible and were no longer considered 'work' in the sense of productive activity. Men, by and large, were the 'workers' who left their homes each day. The collective activities of the women who spent their days working in those homes, called 'housework' commanded neither wages or status - a situation that still exists (1992:63).

The use of the term "housework" was the production of goods or services in the household for monetary or barter exchange, which was necessary, important, and unrecognized (Oberhauser1992:1).

Many books on Appalachia agree that widowhood or old age for women is a time unlike ever before in a woman's life. Part of my reason of choosing mostly widowed women to interview(besides their long work histories) was to examine the distinctive culture of the older woman. As Beaver states, the "adjustment to the death of a spouse is quite divergent because of sex role differences in status and personal expertise. While the widower is particularly pitiable because of his forced reliance on women, the widow may become the epitome of self-confidence and wit, one who is above the strivings of youth, relatively independent, and in total control for the first time in her life" (1986:104).

Many agree that the history of women in the South is one of survival. The women in the following case studies have not only survived until old age but most have survived their husband's death and also their many jobs, activities, and the raising of their children. Some are now active single women in the dating circle of the area's single's clubs. It is also evident in the case studies that the "history of women's survival in the south is bound up with the history of agriculture, which remained the foundation of the region's economy until well into the present century" (Lewis 1986:4). The women of this study all have roots on farms and some still live on farms or did in their early married life. These women, as well as many of their neighbors and friends, "survive despite their lack of economic resources by using skills passed down for generations. They patch and sew,swap child care, watch for sales and clip coupons; in rural areas, they also garden, raise chickens and perform other agricultural tasks" (Lewis 1986:4). By these and other ways of making money, the women here illustrate the multiple livelihood strategies often depicted in Appalachian literature. And"although rural women's entrance into the paid labor force is increasing, women have been part of the paid labor force officially and unofficially since the outset" (Lewis 1986:30). These women, as noted previously, have worked from birth and will continue to work until death prevents them.

Women's labor within the home is considered "non work" since it is performed outside the market context, yet the men who work outside rely on women's work in the home to make their paid work possible. The "impact of changing technology, consciousness, and economic necessity have resulted in a greater range of occupations open to women. But, as other stories related, women have always done 'men's work:' plowing, hauling coal, cutting timber," when it was a necessity (Lewis 1986:30). Interestingly enough, although they have done "men's work," their views on the women's liberation movement, though varied, do not reflect a feminist perspective. Absent in the literature on Appalachian women is their own view of their "work," both paid and unpaid. Therefore, this is another focus of my study.

So what makes these women different from other rural southern women? "What the Appalachian claims is a world view that includes a strong sense of familism and kinship, and attitude toward religion that is not expressed by denominational churches, a love of land that approaches spiritualism, and an independence and self pride. It is this world view that distinguishes the southern mountain woman and contributes to her uniqueness" (Weeks 1978-80:26). These women display all of these characteristics, along with others, which makes them interesting and wonderful individuals.

In summary, women's work is complicated by being paid and non-paid, recognized and unrecognized. And even though women's participation in the work force is constantly on the rise,this does not necessarily change the traditional patriarchal views embedded in the culture. Future research in the areas of gender, work, and changes therein may create sources of data to answer the questions, contradictions, and vagueness presently found in the literature on the Appalachian region.

Research Plan and Methodology

This research project was conducted primarily in the community of Pine Ridge (pseudonym), North Carolina, located in Alleghany County (population size 9, 591 according to the 1990 census). This rural, small community in the Appalachian mountains is home to many women of varied occupations, which are the focus of the study.

Living with an Appalachian woman for five weeks, I employed primarily interviewing techniques, both formal and informal, to gain an understanding of the woman's gender role constructs with special reference to work. I did this by starting with the informant with whom I was staying. She served as the basis for connection to other working women. Through many networks of people (social, labor-related, religious, kin, and community) I was able to get a diverse sample of the people of the area. I immersed myself in their culture to understand the culture as one of "them,"relative to their values, traditions, and present changes in their lives.

By living and working with the informant and other women of varied occupations, I got to study women's work in Alleghany County from an historical and contemporary perspective. I discovered the effects of changes in the recent past. In the past and more in the present, women of Appalachian families have entered the work force out of necessity, and although this may still be the case, the "necessity" was examined to see if today's necessity was the same as that of years past. Women entering the work force, the need, the effects, and the feelings concerning the issues were addressed. Views on the women's liberation movement were gathered from area women. Did it filter into Appalachia? What do women here think of the movement? In this project the results of change on the traditional Appalachian culture are also explored. Is the traditional culture dying and becoming more modernized?

In my research I incorporated a variety of methods including participant-observation and formal and informal interviews. I, in a sense, became an "adopted" family member participating in the day to day activities from child care to food preparation to other household chores. Being immersed in the culture, I had access to first-hand and continuous observation of the household. Participant observation also extended to other places, people, and events in the community and county. I attended several area churches, anniversary celebrations, family reunions, homemakers club meetings, etc. I also attended the area entertainment venues for dances (where flat footing, square dancing, and two-stepping predominated) and also to the regionally renowned fiddler's convention.

Through the networks, I did interview some women in other parts of the county and found similar results. In the following paper, however, I have limited the case studies to the Pine Ridge community. The interviews which began from the interview schedule, included both closed and open-ended questions to gain a variety of information. Further questions were asked and probed the individual's responses. All of the formal interviews, which varied in length, were at least partly tape recorded (with the informant's permission) and later transcribed.

Four Case Studies

In doing research on women and work in Alleghany County, I contacted many women of the area for interviews. However I chose to use these four specific interviews to illustrate the diversity in occupation, age, and views on life. These women have four different "primary"occupations. I begin with a farming woman, as in this part of the Appalachian region all of the people have a base in agriculture either from when they grew up or as a part of their multiple livelihood strategies. These four cases also demonstrate this point. The second case study is of factory work, as this economic sphere has opened up in the last few decades for women in the area. The waitress in the third case study demonstrates the service work of women on the Blue Ridge Parkway due to the ever growing tourist industry. In the final case study, the life and work of a local school teacher and principal is used to demonstrate the work of an educated professional woman. However, none of these women survive solely with their one "public work" occupation. They all have many kinds of work that display the work ethic, community involvement, and multiple livelihood strategies that make these four women excellent examples of Appalachian working women.

Case 1 - Beef Cattle Farmer

"They are all my big pets," says smiling Martha Hopper as she salts the cattle from her hand,sitting on the corner of the corral. She says, "Others don't understand about me doing this but I love it. I could just stay out here all day." And the cows come to her call, that sounds something like "scow" or "sc-abe." Having accompanied her out to her two areas of land where she keeps her cattle, I have seen her amazing work in action. This woman never rests and it doesn't seem she will ever have the time to age.

Martha was born November 11, 1934, in her home on Mountain Bend Road in Pine Ridge, Ashe County, North Carolina. She now lives a few miles from her home place in Pine Ridge,Alleghany County, North Carolina. She was the sixth and last child of her parents. She says, "My father and mother both spoiled me," although her hard working nature doesn't show it.

She has two brothers and three sisters still living, but she is the only one of them still living in the Pine Ridge area. Her father was "lots of things" she says, "he drove a school bus, mail truck,owned a sawmill, and was a beef and agricultural farmer." Her mother was a "housewife and helpmate to her father;" she also raised chickens and turkeys to sell and was a substitute schoolteacher.

When questioned as to childhood dreams, Martha replies, "I wanted to go to college and be a private secretary that was what I was always thinking I would do...but when you get married and start having kids that kind of ends your dreams, especially if you have a boss instead of a husband[she laughs]. If he tells you when you can go and when to come home, you don't do too much dreaming; well, in other words, dreaming is all you do." Although Martha did have a job working as a waitress at Bluff's Coffee Shop on the Parkway the summer she got married, she says "Joseph always made me quit my jobs. He didn't want me working." She says when she was married she was just a housewife, but from her work history she actually did many different kinds of work, both paid and unpaid. After marriage, she first worked at Hanes Mill, in Sparta, working there when Tim(her first son) was about nine months old for about nine months (in 1953-54). There, she finished fronts, the fly fronts on shorts.

The next job she had, when she was living up the road on the land she calls "the old place,"was worked at Atwood's Mill, which is also in Sparta. "I made watch pockets at Atwood's...pockets in work pants for your pocket watch." She worked there about a year and again her husband made her quit. "It threw us in a higher tax bracket and I wasn't making anything at all. I was working for basically nothing so he didn't want me to work."

Also, Martha used to and still does make "pine roping." Pine roping is the term for fresh pine garlands used for Christmas decorations. She has a machine for it that her brother-in-law made for her for $100 years ago. She began doing the roping when she was first married. Now, she usually gets between $1,000-$3,000 a year for the pine roping she makes.

When the Gates factory opened in Jefferson, Ashe County, Martha says, "I was so bored staying at home all the time. That was when all the kids were grown and all, and of course my two younger sons were still at home going to high school, and I wanted to go to work at Gate's." Everyone told her that it was so hard to get on at Gate's because they seemed so selective, and Joseph thought she wouldn't get a job at her age then (it was about fourteen years ago when she was 48). But she went in for an interview. They called her three days later to go in for a physical, and she started work the next Monday. They made car hoses. She says, "I did the whole bit: stamped, cut, packed, and sprung [you had to put springs in them]. They had different stations and three on a station and we took turns doing different jobs. And then we had to inspect them too. I worked there for about six months. And that's the last job I ever had" [in a factory]. When asked if she liked working there, she states, "Shucks, I loved my work...I wouldn't have quit Gate's at all. I loved to work at Gate's." She also says with a laugh, "Lord, yes" she preferred working in a factory instead of staying home.

Having grown up on a cattle farm, she already knew what it was like to raise cattle:

I grew up with milk cows really is what my dad started with and then he got into beef cattle: black Angus [cows], white face. But then when my dad died, my husband bought my mom her first start of Charolais [cows]. She got into the Charolais business and she did cattle all the time. (There was years between my father's death and my mother's.) Of course, she had them only in the spring and,well, maybe fed them in winter the first couple of winters but mostly she just raised them. Joseph would buy them in the spring for her and she would graze them out and sell them in the fall. So she didn't have to put up a lot of hay and feed and get out in the snow and all.

But Martha says that she herself "didn't have much to do with cattle until my husband died." She goes on to say that,

The year that Joseph died, well, the first calf had just been born and he had worked just about all day on Saturday. And he come in (he had been seeing about the old calf because she was a hard one to let the calf suck, but she did), and he put her up in the head gates. And the head gates handle flew up and hit him in the ribs. And when he come in he says 'I believe them head gates have broke my ribs. It feels like its broke my ribs.' We was expecting company to play cards with and I had supper to get and had it ready. We sat down and ate, and I did not take time to look at his ribs. That was the night that he had his fatal heart attack at the kitchen table (while playing canasta). And I always thought that it was the lick from the metal head gate handle. I thought that is what caused the heart attack...maybe a rib punctured his heart. He had $350,000 accident insurance but the doctor said it was a massive heart attack and never looked for anything...and Joseph had no life insurance...just accident. If I had a mind to (I don't think I ever will) I could take him down for an autopsy, but after six years I've even thrown all the policies away. Anyway, the kids and I have always thought that is what caused it.

Once Joseph died, all the cattle responsibilities suddenly fell to Martha. She says "Until then I never really had much to do with the cattle except maybe going with him to salt the cattle on Sunday evening and, well, I would look about a cow that was expecting to see if she was in trouble, and if she was I would call a vet [while Joseph was at work]. That was the extent to my cattling until he died."

Joseph died on a Saturday night and Martha says that "the boys went out Monday morning and counted cattle (I didn't know how many he had) and fed them and we just had one calf. From then, I took over looking about the cattle and went about to see about them when calving every four hours and even run out of gas one night at two a.m."

But besides the responsibility of the cattle, Martha also continued the running of Joseph's sawmill. She says,

I kept the same crew Joseph had when he died for about a year. Then I couldn't keep steady work for them and then I laid off all the hands except Tim and the sawyer. I kept it running three more years and then Terry Jones was so slow and he killed more time than...so expenses were more than profits so I just shutdown and sold the mill and sold one logging machine and one loader. I still have most of the equipment, but if anyone comes and gives me a fair price, I would sell it. I just haven't advertised it or anything.

Then about three years ago (1994) she went to work on the Parkway. She went to work as a maid in the lodge. "I had cattle grazing up there," she says, "and land leased there with the cattle(behind the lodge). The cattle would get out every day and then with the job I had to carry everything upstairs to clean rooms and carry it back down...I just couldn't do it all. So I only worked there two or three weeks."

In the last two years Martha has bought seven and a half acres. "I have kept cattle numbers about the same" she remembers (from when Joseph died). She has 103-105 head of cattle. "I only sell culls [old cows that don't produce good cows or have a bad bag]; otherwise I don't sell cattle,just calves. They are sold in October. The hardest part about working with the cattle is selling the calves in the fall...that is the hardest for me. But it is something that has to be done...to keep what I have got."

No matter what part Martha previously played in the cattle business before her husband died,she has since done many amazing things. She remarks, "Since Joseph died (1991) I have managed to build some fence and ditch the meadow and build a new corral and make barn repairs. I've done lots of stuff that has cost a lot of money and bought the seven and a half acres of land. It is all paid for and I paid off a $17,000 bank note. Everything is paid for, except I do owe Bob [her son] for putting up hay every year." She will cover the biggest part of that when she sells the calves this fall. It is obvious that Martha values hard work. She proudly states that she has worked for everything she has and was never handed anything. That way, she says, "you know how you get it."

Martha really loves to watch growth in her children, in her garden and in her cattle. Garden work, she says, "is just like therapy, to get down there and work in the garden. I've always had a garden."

When asked about a preference between factory work or cattle, she pauses and then decides that "well, I like both." With the cattle, "I just like being with them [she laughs]. I just like for them to, you know, act like I'm their mama. That's the way they do." To anyone who watches, it is obvious that they are her babies.

But in spite of it all, Martha has also found time in her busy life schedule to do community work. With her first two boys, she was involved in the Boy Scouts and the area 4-H Club. She was also an active Elder at the Mountain Bend Presbyterian Church and was involved in the church activities. However, after a disagreement with the new minister (three years ago), Martha now attends Pine Ridge Baptist Church, right across the road from her house. And for community awareness, Martha has a scanner in her house so she can hear the area police and fire department's happenings. She says that it sometimes disrupts her day; "like the other day it went off three times,"and each time she had to come inside from her work to listen to what was happening. She says, "I couldn't get any work done."

Growing up a tomboy, Martha hates to be stuck inside. And although she will serve you delicious home cooked meals until you beg her to stop, she'll say that she "loves everything outside,won't stay in." (That is why she says she doesn't house clean, although to this observer her home is always neat and clean.)

She has always been a tomboy and declares she "still will climb trees if I can reach the first branch." All together it seems the only thing she hasn't done is to drive a tractor. She says that her father never let her do that because she was a girl. But, as she says, if she had the energy now she would learn.

One of her favorite activities is fishing. "I do it to clear my head. But it's twice as much fun if you catch something." She will often, especially with her son Bob (her fishing buddy), tell fishing stories, especially ocean deep sea fishing adventures. They try to go every year.

In 1997, at sixty-two years of age, Martha is more active than most women I know in their forties. She and "the girls I run around with" as she says, frequent dances in Greensboro,Kernersville, and Winston-Salem, as well as the local spots of Burgiss Barn Jamboree and Sparta's Jubilee. And although she says she goes to watch people mostly, I've seen her dressed to the tee and dancing her stuff on the floor. In fact, she says one time she won a costume contest at a single's dance in Winston-Salem. She was wearing a purple country-western dress with hat and boots to match, and she won by applause. She says when her husband was alive they would go dancing every weekend on Fridays, it was a country western band, and on Saturdays, it was ballroom dancing.

Among her many other qualities, Martha also has a great sense of humor. Most recently she told me that "I need me a rich man with one foot in the grave and one on a banana peel slipping. I might even give him a shove if I knew I would get his money." She and I have spent many a time laughing at daily things like catching kin literally "with their pants down." I think it is the laughing that gets her through all the hard work and bad times.

But Martha's life is far from history and to prove she is far from giving up on life, she has often when out on her lands told me of her future plans. She plans to bushhog and clear more of her present land and has pointed out what road front land she wants to purchase just so she can clear off the old building to improve the look of the land; "So it looks better," she says. She has also pointed out some adjoining land that she wants to purchase for her cattle and then a few minutes later, as if to assure me, she turns and says, "and I will get it." Her list of land improvements also include clearing her land "so you can see the creek because everyone wants water on their land and then it will sell for more." And, as most people around here, she has planted white pine on her land that matures for timber in ten years. She has done this not only on her land but land she has given to her family members. All these plans show her commitment to the land and its beauty, sustainability and investment-potential. For being a lifetime Alleghanian, she is worried about what will happen to her land and house after she dies. Plus, she knows if she planted her land in Christmas trees she would make much more money per acre, but she says, "I won't put poisons in the soil."

She is very conscious of her kin relationships. Either following the ritual of the youngest child or maybe because she is the closest to home, she took care of her mother in her last three months. She says "Scorpios are supposed to be best nurses and I nursed my mother and loved it. And I would do it again." Her mother had developed cancer all over her body with two brain tumors. Martha sat her in front of a fire and never let the fire go out until she died. Martha reflects,"You always miss your mama." But in actuality Martha hates sickness. In fact, she recently broke off a four-year relationship due to the guy developing cancer. "I just can't take it," she says.

I think Martha could be anything she wanted to be. Of course, this is echoed by Martha, for in the time I lived with her she talked about being anything from a poodle groomer to a zoo worker to a millionaire's wife and the list goes on. But as Martha says, she always finds the money when she needs it even though she is not sure where it all comes from. She knows that she is happy on the cattle farm.

Given her independence, I asked her about her opinion on the women's liberation movement. Martha replied strongly,

It is awful. Men have no respect for women any more...in many ways...Women more are equal...so now women have to do the same share of work. Before, it was a women's job to make the home and kids instead of getting out there and bringing home the paycheck. I was brought up to think it was the man's job to make the living and woman's to raise the children and stay at home. No, I've never been one for women's lib. But I do believe in equal wages for equal work...but it still is not really so. It has cut out politeness of men to women...opening doors, etc. You can still find some polite men but they are few and far between.

One time when leaving her house, I asked Martha if I should lock the door and she replied,"If you lock the door, it is an invitation for someone to break in. If you leave it open, you know you can get in when you come home." Well it's clear to me she is at home here in Pine Ridge and you can't put a lock on the mountains or on her. As she has often in the past few weeks said, "I wouldn't want to be anywhere else in the world. I wouldn't even want to be anywhere else in Alleghany County [except right here]." And here she is to stay.

Case 2 - Factory Worker

When Susan Johnston was growing up, she only dreamed of being a housekeeper. "I dreamed of a pretty home, which I got better than I deserve," she states. She was born in Pine Ridge,right up the road from where she lives now, on May 27, 1921. Her father was a farmer and a merchant and began Brooke's store, which is enlarged, but still sits across from Susan's house. It is now run by her son after her father had run it for twenty-five years. She attended Pine Ridge school and graduated from Alleghany High School in 1939. However, she, like many other women in her time, was married six months before she graduated. She married in 1938 to Henry Brookes who was a house painter.

Susan's father, whose responsibilities ranged from raising beef and dairy cattle, chickens, turkeys, sheep, hogs, and a garden to also running the store, was a busy man. However, she states that her mom "just took care of the children" (of which there were four, Susan being the baby).

Her dad's parents lived right up the road in Pine Ridge and her mother's parents were from Stratford, in Alleghany County. Her mother's father was an Old Baptist minister and a farmer. And she states both her grandmothers "were housewives and worked on the farm." Both grandmothers lost their husbands young and had to make a living on their own by farming: selling eggs and chickens. Neither one married again.

Susan remembers gathering roots and herbs for money when she was a child and also gathering chestnuts on her three mile walk to school. And although she says she did work a little bit in the store, she did not really work until after she was married when she painted houses with her husband. However, then she raised her three children which Susan comments was her favorite job. When her children were old enough to go to school, Susan began her factory working career. She worked at Troutman Mill in Sparta for twenty-three years starting about 1947. There she worked the day shift, from 8 am-4 pm everyday, where she sewed the band down on work pants for about twenty years. Then she began sewing the cuffs down on t-shirts when they went to making shirts. Later she worked for Southern Device. They had set up a factory temporarily in the Pine Ridge school building. She worked there for two years. She says there she worked the night shift from 3:30 pm until 11 pm, "the best shift I ever worked." About Southern Device, Susan went on to say,"I liked that better than any of them. I worked the night shift and it seemed like I was playing instead of working." She put together light fixtures. After that she worked at Hanes Mill in Sparta and continued there for ten years. And being new at Hanes, Susan had ten different jobs in ten years. She says, "I always got bumped because someone had been there longer than me so I had to go from one job to another." Some of these jobs included sewing bands on shorts, sewing sleeves on shirts, sewing up shoulder seams, and house cleaning (in the factory), among other things. At Hanes,her favorite job was sewing the binding on t-shirts.

Susan's husband, Henry, along with painting also had a garden and had some dairy cows for their own use. Susan denies helping much with the gardening. "I didn't help with the garden much. I helped with the milking some, but my husband wanted to garden." When asked if she preferred staying at home or working, Susan immediately says, "I needed to work; I'd rather work." She says she really liked working but what she liked most was the money. "I think that is why everybody works," she says. She says her husband never had a problem with her working outside the home. And so she continued working until 1982, when at the age 62, she retired. At retirement, Susan had worked 35 years in three different factories (although she never received retirement benefits for her work).

Then, in 1985, her husband Henry died of a heart attack. Soon after that she met Edward Burke, a distant relative of Henry's. In trying to explain it to me, Susan simply said, "three Brookes married three Burkes. I went over to a sister-in-law's house and I saw lamp shades made out of popsicle sticks and said I wanted three shades. We went down there again and Edward showed me the lamps he made. Then he asked me to dinner. The first time he came up here he brought me a lamp and three shades...and we went to writing and he would come up and go to church with me...a wonderful man." Susan married Edward Burke, a widower, in June of 1987. Edward had retired from Hanes Mill in Winston-Salem after forty-eight years of work. They were married for almost ten years before Edward died in February of 1997.

Throughout her life, besides her public work, Susan has also been active at church. She taught Sunday school for thirty five years, only to resign when she thought she was moving with Edward to Winston-Salem. But she said, "I went down there and it was too hot, so he left all his stuff down there in his house and moved in with me."

Like most women around here, Susan will tell you she is retired. But she is always working. She took ten painting lessons and now does paintings for people of whatever they ask for. Her beautiful paintings cover her house. Also she has, like many women in the area, done pine roping for decades in the Christmas season. She makes about $2000 a season she says. Also she sews for people, mows yards, works gardens, cleans houses for people sometimes, cleans stores and babysits. "I stay busy," she states. And she also finds time to attend her church three times a week.

Speaking about her many other jobs, Susan says, "I painted the house and kept it up 'til this spring when I got aluminum siding and widows put in." In crafts, Susan also makes ceramics(except she has to have them baked by others) and carries on Edward's tradition of making popsicle stick lamp shades. Susan also says she does carpentry. "I put up doors and put in fuses...I do 'man's work' cause ain't nobody here to do it." Summing it up Susan states, "I guess I am a 'handywoman,' just do anything I want to."

Despite Susan's many talents and work skills, Susan does not support the women's liberation movement of the 1970s. She states,

I don't approve of it... The man is supposed to be the caretaker. I think women have jumped in and taken the man's place. It's according to the Bible, the man is supposed to be the ruler of the house if they can be. If not, the woman has to take over and a lot of women does and that's when it's good when they do do it (when they have to). But I don't think women should jump in if they don't have to.

Case 3 - Waitress

Eileen Winter did not know what she wanted to be when she grew up, but her father wanted her to be a nurse. However, he passed away when she was seventeen. So her mother sent her to business college in High Point but as she says, "I didn't stay two or three months, I was so homesick." Eileen was born about fifteen miles from her present home on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Stratford, Alleghany County, NC. Her father had worked on the Parkway all of his life. "At the time he passed away he was what you call a park warden. He checked on fires and many other things they had him do." She says her mother was a "housewife." Her parents had beef cattle and chickens and sheep. When growing up, Eileen says that, "I had three brothers and so I mostly stayed in the house with my mother and learned how to cook...I am the next to the baby [but only girl]." When growing up, Eileen says she did much of the cooking, but not the house cleaning. "My mother did that and I would carry water from the spring before we had electricity in the house." Her brothers did much of what she calls "the hard work."

After leaving business college, Eileen came home and went looking for jobs. "The coffeehouse on the Parkway [Bluff's Coffee Shop] opened that spring and I got a job there. I asked many other places but did not get a job." So at age eighteen, Eileen had landed her first, in her words,"actual job." Eileen remembers first working at the coffee shop, saying, "It was a new thing in my life because at that time there wasn't anything like a fast food restaurant. It was a sit down restaurant and a waitress waited on you. We had lots of business. It was quite a challenge." But after 47 seasons of working at the coffee shop, she states, "I stayed with it and in the long run I am glad that I did. I lived close by and it was convenient." Eileen says that working in the coffee shop what she likes the most is "the nice people you meet but I don't like the hard work too much" [she laughs]." She says that being on the Parkway, there are people from all over that stop in. "There are foreigners. This year [there have been] the most foreigners that I have seen yet: Germany, France, Amsterdam, all the countries over there. We had them from all those in years past too. Its just been wonderful to meet people from everywhere. There are nice people from all over the world and we hardly ever have anyone that's contrary. They are all very congenial."

The only time Eileen left the coffee shop job was when it closed in 1951. She went out to New Mexico where her present husband was stationed in the army. Ironically, she met her husband while working at the coffee shop. She says, "I met him when I worked (he's from Kentucky) and I met him one summer there." She says, "We got married in 1952 and stayed out there for several months. Then both of us left there and came out here and lived with my momma down there [across the street from Eileen's present home] for six years while we built a house. Then we moved in up here. I said, 'I don't like it here John, let's go home'" [she laughs]. But they stayed and now she considers both houses her home.

After leaving the army, her husband was a mechanic on the Parkway for the U.S.government. He retired in 1993 and now continues to farm (which he did on the side before). He raises beef cattle and as Eileen says, "all they do is feed them hay in the winter and in the summer they dry it and put it up for the cows...It's much work to put up a lot to feed your cows in winter."

When Eileen Winter Wood first got back to Pine Ridge from New Mexico, she says she could not go directly back to her job at the coffee shop. "Well at first there wasn't an opening...and I worked in a restaurant, and I worked there for most of a summer and then in October I got my job back at the coffee shop...I worked some of every year for this company for 47 years...." Eileen and her husband never had children. She continues to work at the coffee shop, although due to the tourist business Eileen says she only works six months out of the year. She states, "I don't believe I could do it 12 months out of the year. Its too much work...I'm just trying to hang in there a little bit longer...I don't know...I prefer it to doing housework all of the time." But at a vivacious sixty seven, Eileen may have another forty-seven years of work ahead.

When asked about what her husband thinks of her working,she replies,Well, he has always wanted me to quit, 'til he retired. But now he doesn't say quit so much because now he has a place to go where I am and see a lot of people and meet a lot of people. He comes to help me a lot like from 6-8pm when we're real busy. He came there and helped me until we got a table busser and he would get my drinks, my coffee, etc. He was a lot of help and he enjoys (after being retired four years) he enjoys being able to meet a lot of people and sees friends and relatives. It makes a big difference.

When not working she says,

I do just housekeeping, keeping the house and washing the clothes and very little. I used to go help him (my husband) go feed the cattle, but now we have round bales and you haul it with a tractor. We used to have square bales and you used to haul it in a pickup and I would drive and he would throw it off. But I go with him when he is having calves and stuff, because I was raised on a farm and he wasn't, and I can see things he doesn't notice. They used to not let children[girls] go. They do now. This day and time kids know what having a calf is, but when I grew up, your parents wouldn't let you see a calf being born. It used to be all animal sex and personal sex was kept to themselves. You never heard that word...but now the world has changed.

Along with the changing world, I asked Eileen her reaction to the women's liberation movement. And although she thought that women working outside the home "was a good thing,"she said she "wasn't for that." "I liked it the other way the best when the man was the authority of everything."

Along with Eileen's job on the Parkway, she also is a member of the homemaker's extension club. She says, "I have some kids I sponsor...getting them glasses. Some people that rented my mom's house and had no one to raise them, I helped them when I could. And then while my husband was working during the winter time, I would go help out old ladies and take them out and cheered up old people. I just stay busy doing what I want to do. I make a lot of Afghans in the wintertime...a lot of needle work and do church things at the Mountain Bend Presbyterian Church."

When asked about what her mother did, Eileen answered quickly, "housekeeper and belonged to a homemakers club. She never had an outside job but if she had gone and gotten one when I did, she would have liked it because after all her kids was gone, she was lonely. She raised three boys and a girl and made a lot of their clothes and canned and grew a garden. She was a busy person and a good worker. She would make a garden and that is something I can never do. Her joints must have not hurt like mine; I have osteoarthritis and I could never garden. She didn't like the way John and I garden. She said, 'Y'all is the awfulest gardeners I have ever seen. You just plant it and go back after it.' That was about the truth. When you both work a job, you don't have time to garden."

Both her grandparents, Eileen says, were "total farmers." Her mother's parents had cows,horses, hogs, and planted corn to feed them. Her grandfather owned a mill and ground grain for other people. Her grandmother she says was always "busy cooking. She was a really small woman,about 98 lbs. and had eight children. She lived on the road going to North Wilkesboro and all the people going by would stop and eat there. They said it was never known how many people she fed and people then didn't charge for staying with them or anything." "My dad's people," she says,"were from Stratford...Still have their farm...where she was born...And my grandmother was a housewife and he was mail carrier and farmer and lived in Sparta his last years."

From her loyal workings at the coffee shop, Eileen has landed several articles in newspapers. One magazine, detailing the history of the Blue Ridge Parkway, included an interview with Eileen. Also several papers have recently interviewed the waitress. "You're famous," I told her. "Oh, I wish," she says. "I've had lots of publicity and people love to tease me."

In actuality, the Parkway has had much more of an effect on Eileen and her family than just her job. Both her husband, father, and brothers have all worked on the Parkway. And when the Parkway was being built, the government took the center of Eileen's family's land. She says, "it cut it in two...half of it is over here and half over there." At first her family said that they were not for it,but "in the long run it is the best thing that ever happened," she says. Eileen feels that the Parkway"is a real asset to North Carolina. It has brought many tourists. Tourism is one of the main things and the Parkway is probably number one."

Case 4 - School Teacher

Clara Johnson Putter always dreamed of being a nurse when she grew up. But as she says, "I never did make it." She was born about a mile down the road in Pine Ridge from her present house,in 1907, which makes her ninety years young.

Her parents "were farmers" she says. They had beef cattle, sheep, hogs, and goats. They sold beef, wool, and sheep. They also grew wheat, rye, buckwheat, and hay and corn for the cattle and sheep. She says they did not have dairy cattle as such. "At that time you milked whatever you had. You didn't think about them as dairy cows. We milked a whole lot of time...milked as many as twelve or fifteen in the summertime." She goes on to say that they did not sell the milk but her mother used to make cheese. "She used to make white cheese and cottage cheese." Her family had the wheat ground into flour, the buckwheat ground in buckwheat flour, and the corn ground into cornmeal for bread.

Although Clara says her father did farming full time, she also says, "Well, you could say my father was a jack-of-all-trades. He was the community veterinarian, and he was a good carpenter, a good blacksmith (shoed horses and things that needed to be done with iron). He had a blacksmith shop where he could do these things, and my mother was, as folks say, 'just a housewife'...but better to say a 'house engineer.' She taught school part of the time...at the Pleasant Grove school was what it was at that time...and she taught a little bit at Pine Ridge. (She didn't teach until she had all of her children...My two oldest brothers and sister were gone from home when I was born...I was the baby.) Clara describes her mother as "a very bright woman. She loved to read, and kept herself educated on present day things, and mothered eleven children. That kept her pretty busy. She made a lot of our clothes. She made my oldest brother's suit (when he was fifteen)." She might have been called, Clara points out, a "jill-of-all-trades."

Her grandparents raised a big family of which eight or nine children survived. "My grandfather was instrumental in starting the school in Pine Ridge. He was another one of these self educated persons. He died before I was born, but I have had people tell me that he was fifty years ahead of his time). He was also instrumental in starting the church out here (Pine Ridge Missionary Baptist Church). He was a farmer (most everybody in the community was a farmer) and a magistrate and served as a magistrate for many years. His wife like all other women was a housewife and jill-of-all-trades." He also taught school and was a veteran of the Civil War.

Her other grandfather was a farmer and cattle trader and also a veteran of the Civil War. "While in the Civil War, he told me that they gave him flour and cornmeal to make their own bread. During the week, he would make up his own cornmeal and eat that because they had no shortening for it. And on the weekends, he would take his flour and make dough out of it. They also issued him dried apples and he would cook his dried apples and he made this flour into dough and made what you call half-moon pies. While he was in service, he sold enough of those that he bought, I think he said, seventy acres of land with it." His two wives (he married again after his first wife died)looked after the families and the homes and were farmer's wives.

Clara Johnson went to Pine Ridge school and then finished high school at what is now Appalachian State University in Boone, NC. "It was called Appalachian Training School at that time," she says. "I graduated high school in 1925 and then, later, I graduated with a BS degree in education in 1965 from Appalachian State Teacher's College. It took me forty years to finish college. I started off to be a nurse. I did some college work right after high school for about a year and a half. I had my family and never thought I would go back to school, ever. The first two years I was married, I taught. I got married in 1927 (taught one year before I married and one year after I married) and then I did substituting. Later, I substituted at Pine Ridge and I was going to school at the time...taking classes on Saturdays and in summer school. They wanted me (after I substituted that year) to teach the next year at Pine Ridge, so I did that. I taught out here for ten years and was principal and taught seventh and eighth grade. I was principal for ten years...took care of restrooms,bus route, library, taught two grades. I had four children...born in 1929, 1931, 1934, 1936. They were all born before I was principal...I wasn't principal until 1952-1962."

Then Clara continues, "I went to Wisconsin...and taught up there for ten years until 1972." Asked about the motivation for leaving home for Milwaukee, Clara answers, "Well, I guess teachers' salary had something to do with it and I had a family up there of five grandchildren in 1962." In the meantime, she got her degree in 1965 and in Wisconsin she taught 3rd, 5th, and 6th grades at two different schools in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

In 1972, Clara moved back home to North Carolina. She comments, "I had my home here and I came back to take care of it. My grandchildren [in Wisconsin] had grown up and I had grandchildren here [now, so] I came back home." But she says, "I used to come home in the summers. We left this home here with no one living it in (for ten years), and I would come home each summer for two months and drove by car each way each year." After returning to Alleghany County, Clara worked eight years at a nursing home in Sparta teaching crafts and ABE classes. ABEclasses were for residents of a rest home that had never learned to read. She says, "A lot of it was storytelling, and then we played games and they learned numbers through that."

Out of all her jobs, Clara admits her favorite job was "being a mama." But not only was she a mama of her own four children, she also adopted a girl from a poor moonshine-making family. "I took her in as a foster daughter, when she was thirteen, from the mountain and kept her from 1959 until she was married. So she is my daughter. I never did adopt her or anything. She now lives in Texas." Clara admits the thing she liked most about her jobs was "the association with the children and with the residents of the home." In addition to her school and rest home jobs, Clara Johnson Putter also promoted 4-H clubs in schools, and she was a substitute mail carrier and post mistress in the post office. She also does woodworking. "I love to work with wood," she says.

Clara's husband worked for the state highway for ten years. When he was young, he went to Cincinnati, Ohio, and worked for Baldwin Piano Company. "He put pianos together and could tune them. After we were married, he didn't go back to Ohio. He had been there for five years." She says, "We had a farm. We had beef cattle, dairy cattle, kept sheep, and gardens, and corn and, of course, hay...and the children had bean patches and potatoes." When asked what her husband thought of her working outside the home, she commented, "Oh, well, I used to be tax lister of the county (for this township) and I used to drive the school bus, and I did lots of things and I worked with the elections. I was clerk whenever we had an election every two years. My husband died in 1964 when we were living in Milwaukee." Obviously, her husband must have acquiesced to her public work, if not supported it.

When asked about any other community involvement, Clara says that she has belonged to the Homemaker's Extension Club from 1943 until now and was chosen as a delegate from North Carolina in 1950 to go to Denmark for the Associated Country Women of the World Conference. There, she says, "farm women and people that grew things from all the countries met in Copenhagen, Denmark, for this conference. So while I was over there, I was gone for two months. I visited in six countries."

She says "I have also taught Sunday School at the Pine Ridge Baptist Church for about twenty years. Also, I was church clerk about nineteen years and treasurer for about fifteen years and I am an ordained Deacon...Lots of churches don't have that."

When asked her opinion about women's liberation movement, she answered,

I might have been a women's libber but wasn't because I'll tell you, I grew up with eight brothers and never felt like I was hindered from doing anything I wanted to do. So I think some women (I can't speak for all of them all because I came from a different family; one of my daughters is a real women's libber), but I am in sympathy with them that think a lot of women are held back. Like, when we were talking about the church, our new pastor will not recognize a woman as a Deacon [she laughs]. I had a husband that is as loving as anyone could be and all my brothers have always been so kind and good...so I hadn't needed it [women's liberation]. If I hadn't had all these things I might have needed it. I was the first principal in Alleghany County and was the only woman in the meetings, except there was a woman superintendent at that time...us two the only females...but they [the men] were all respectful and nice and listened to what we had to say...So I couldn't afford to be a woman's libber. Of course, I am in sympathy with them.

In fact, Clara says that when her husband died of a heart attack she "took wood working and upholstery, chair painting and refinishing" while still in Milwaukee. She decided "it wouldn't be no use in grieving...I would just get busy and do something else and then I wouldn't aggravate others." And since then she has continued to stay busy. Having just had a family reunion, she states that she"is glad that is over so she can get into something else." For her ninetieth birthday, her grandchildren just bought her a satellite dish for her to get lots of channels, although with her traveling I don't know how she will have a chance to watch. Just this year, since January she has been in seventeen different states. And she is still driving, having just renewed her license for five more years. She says someone just asked her, "Well, you're gonna be ninety years old. What are you going to do to celebrate?" and she says she answered them: "I am gonna celebrate the whole year." I bet she will, too, busily.


As is evident in the four case studies, these women display what is commonly known in Appalachian literature as multiple livelihood strategies. They do this not only for their livelihood and financial survival, but also for social and personal survival. All of the women were not only active in their families raising children and taking care of their kin, but also in their community. The community ties are illustrated by active involvement with churches, clubs, community awareness,environmental awareness, and also with needs in the area. Some of the community activities were done by the women out of need. In small communities like this one, the fact that "someone has to do it" becomes the motivation for many of these women's activities. In interviewing the women, it should be noted, however, the volunteer work was the hardest to get them to talk about.

The women vary in the educational level from not completing high school to obtaining a college degree. However, regardless of their education, they all have worked in diverse fields all of their lives, developing themselves, their families, and their community. Generationally, these women have descended from grandmothers who were singularly housewives, or as Clara put it "jill's-of-all-trades," and mothers who were housewives, farm wives and school teachers, to their own present generation of women who have all done paid labor in addition to their unpaid labor.

As seen in the case studies, their paid labor ranged from the different and distinct jobs in agriculture to factory wage work to service jobs to professional educator work. Though three of the four women are widowed, they are all able to fend for themselves through labor with which they support themselves and their livelihood. They seem to do this through not only what one would call their "main" job but also through a multitude of other strategies: subsistence gardening, pine roping,cattle and small livestock, to name a few. These exemplify their rural Appalachian heritage.

All of the women have very strong pride in their work and have continued to work with or without their husbands' consent. The Appalachian work ethic is still alive and well in these women,and it will follow through to their descendants. They may not have achieved their goals, but they all achieved other things. They all have been housewives and workers, although sometimes it is hard to discover which job was the sideline, the paid or the unpaid labor. In interviews, it was clear that at first all the women dismissed their grandmothers, mothers, and their own unpaid labor as housewife and mother. However, later in the interviews it was evident that they acknowledged the amount of work that went into those jobs and the time they spent doing them. The term "housewife," or as one of them said "house engineer," became a designation of pride, different from the earlier response of"just a housewife." Clara, who gave the longest list of jobs, indicating her favorite job was "being a mama." Yet, it was one of the few jobs in her history that was unpaid. Perhaps by doing so many paid activities, she realized the labor involved in a job where she was not paid and was hardly recognized as doing work. She admitted it was "work," not simply tasks that most or all women just perform.

The women's motive for working was certainly financial in each case but it was also to break the monotony of doing what their mothers and grandmothers did. With the changing economy and status of women in the United States, these women, too, changed. And although none of them admit to supporting the recent women's liberation movement (except Clara in sympathy), they all display liberation in action. Some say it was due to necessity, as when Susan performs a "man's work" due to there being "no man to do it." As Judith Stacey (1990) says in her recent ethnography Brace New Families, all these women, though denying feminism, are doing feminist things. But then also, being women of Appalachia, they are certainly still tied to the Appalachian cultural ideal of patriarchy. They acknowledge the separate roles of males versus females, even if in their own lives they were not necessarily abiding by that.

Change has affected the lives of these women and others. Although some would agree they are losing a part of their culture, it may be argued instead that they are combining the old with the new. Women's work (community, paid, and unpaid) is beginning to be somewhat more recognized. The types of work these women are doing is changing [see Appendix 2]. Some are gaining more work with the increase in paid labor that gives them a "double day." However, the value these women put into all of their work confirms their Appalachian roots. And, as Appalachian women, they will continue to do any needed work until they die.

References Cited

  • Beaver, Patricia
    1986 Rural Community in the Appalachian South. Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland Press, Inc.

  • Beaver, Patricia
    1978-80 "The Mountain Family: Kinship and Society.". In The Appalachian Woman: Images and Essence. The Council on Appalachian Women, Inc. Pp. 27-33.

  • Dinerman, Miriam
    1992 "Is Everything Woman's Work?" AFFILIA 7, No. 2 (Summer):77-93.

  • Ergood, Bruce and Bruce E. Kuhre (eds.)
    1983 Appalachia: Social Context Past and Present. Athens, Ohio: Kendall/Hunt.

  • Halperin, Rhoda
    1990 The Livelihood of Kin. Austin, TX: The University of Texas Press.

  • Lewis, Helen M. (ed.)
    1986 Picking Up the Pieces: Women In and Out of Work in the Rural South. New Market, TN: Highlander Research and Education Center.

  • Maggard, Sally Ward
    1993 "Gender Analysis in Appalachian Research: A Methodological Essay," Research Paper #;9314. Morganton, WV: Regional Research Institute.

  • Miles, Emma Bell
    1905 The Spirit of the Mountains. Reprinted Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1975.

  • Oberhauser, Ann M.
    1993 "Gender, Space, and Scale: Exploring Household Economic Strategies in Rural Appalachia," Research Paper #9311. Morganton, WV: Regional Institute.

  • Riddel, Frank S.
    1974 Appalachia: Its People, Heritage, and Problems. Dubuque, Iowa: Kendall/Hunt.

  • Sancier, Berry
    1992 "Who Helps Working Women Care for the Young and the Old?" AFFILIA, 7, No. 2 (Summer):61-76.

  • Stacey, Judith
    1990 Brave New Families. USA: Basic Books.

  • Weeks, Jane S.
    1978-80 "Is the Mountain Woman Unique?" In The Appalachian Woman: Images and Essence. The Council on Appalachian Women, Inc., pp. 22-26.

Appendix 1: Interview Schedule

(Some or all of the following questions were asked of each respondent, depending on answers given.)


  • What did you dream of doing/becoming when you grew up?
  • What kinds of things did you do in order to make your dreams come true?
  • What kinds of work did you do when growing up?
  • What were the expectations of you and your brothers when growing up?
  • Did they differ by gender?
  • What was your first paid job?
  • How did it differ from your expectation?
  • How old were you when you got married?
  • Did getting married keep you from doing anything you wanted to do?
  • What kind of work did you do after you were married?
  • Did you work outside the home after you were married? What did you do?
  • How do you feel about working?
  • What do you think about women working outside the home?
  • Do you prefer staying at home or working? Why?
  • What kinds of work do you do now in the home?
  • What did your husband think about you or women working outside the home?
  • Why did you work?
  • Have you done/do you do community work? What kinds?


(could be asked twice for both grandmothers - see below)

  • Did you know your grandmother? How well?
  • What kinds of work did she do?
  • Did she ever have paid work outside the home?
  • What unpaid labor did she do? (Housework, childrearing, caring for others, farm or garden work)
  • Did she do things in the community?
  • Did you know your other grandmother? How well? (Same as above)


  • What kinds of work did she do?
  • Did she work outside the home before marriage?
  • Did she work outside the home after marriage? Where?
  • How did she feel about her work?
  • Did she enjoy her outside work if she had it?
  • Did she prefer it over staying at home?
  • What unpaid labor did she do, housework, childrearing, caring for others, farm work, etc.?
  • Did she do any community work?
  • What did her husband think about her working?
  • Why did she work?

Background Questions

  • Name
  • Gender
  • Age
  • Race/Ethnicity
  • Years of Education?
  • Birthplace?
  • How long have you lived here:
    • in this house?
    • in Alleghany?
  • What community do you consider yourself living in?
  • What other communities have you lived in?
  • What religion/denomination are you?
  • Status: Married, Single, Divorced, Widowed
  • Number of children
  • Age and gender of children
  • Spouse's occupation(s)
  • What did your father do?
  • What did your grandfather(s) do?
  • What do you think of the recent women's movement? Why?
  • Did the Parkway affect your work opportunities here?
  • How do you feel about the Parkway (past, present, future)?

Appendix 2: Generational Chart of "Women's Work"

Work of Ourselves

  • cattle farmer
  • pine roper
  • timber grower
  • land owner
  • sawmill operator/manager
  • home veterinarian
  • factory worker
  • craftswoman (ceramics, lampshades, etc.)
  • house painter
  • house cleaner
  • seamstress
  • childcare
  • carpenter
  • handywoman
  • painter
  • waitress
  • substitute school teacher
  • principal
  • bus driver
  • librarian
  • bus route organizer
  • janitor
  • nursing home teacher
  • substitute mail carrier
  • substitute post mistress

Work of Our Mothers

  • farmer/farmer's wife
  • substitute school teacher
  • selling chickens, eggs, turkeys
  • jill-of-all-trades
  • cheese maker

Work of Our Grandmothers

  • sold chickens, turkeys, vegetables
  • farmers/farmer's wives

Unpaid Work of ALL Generations

  • housework
  • garden work
  • raising children
  • cooking
  • field work
  • caring for sick
  • being wives
  • church work
  • community volunteer work