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Mildred Quincy Schobert was born in Whitakers in Edgecombe County in 1926. She has happy memories of growing up out in the country in a four-room clapboard house with porches front and back. Her parents were sharecroppers. She and her parents slept in one big “family room,” her Uncle Buddy in an adjoining bedroom (he slept there in winter and on the porch in summer). They also had a parlor, with a piano. The parlor was kept tidy and off-limits, used only when “someone important stopped by, like the minister or a salesman.” In the early days they had no electricity, and used kerosene lamps for light, a fireplace for heat, and a wood stove for cooking. She describes the back porch as a big “platform” where the water pump was, with the kitchen built off one end of the porch. They got all their water – for cooking, drinking, bathing, and laundry – from this pump. She says that when the black chain gang was working in the area they would let the trustee get water from the pump for the men. The back porch was where they did most of their relaxing and socializing, since it was more private than the front porch. They had rocking chairs there, and friends would come to sit “and discuss their plight as sharecroppers.” In 1933 her uncle Luther Gay got a car, the first she had ever ridden in, with the first radio she’d ever heard. She grew up thinking her uncle and aunt were rich because they had a car and a cow. Schobert has fond memories of her grandmother, the person to whom she was closest. She remembers her cousin Mattie Baker’s scuppernong grapes, which her cousin would make into wine despite being a teetotaler. When her family moved to another farm (the McCutchins’) they went to church Sunday mornings at Gethsemane and in the afternoon to Speight’s Chapel (a two-mile walk) if there was a sermon scheduled. Schobert enjoyed school, especially singing in the Glee Club. She went to Whitakers School from first grade through high school. Teachers and administrators she remembers fondly include Mrs. Evelyn Ogborne, Mrs. Harold Braswell, Miss Marguerite Kitchen, Mrs. Marion Smith, Mr. Hudson, and Miss Della Winstead. The school took frequent “field trips,” which she describes as midday picnics outdoors with the lunches everyone had brought from home spread out on a blanket. Christmas was special because her father spent all day (from 4:00 a.m.) barbecuing a hog for them to eat at afternoon dinner. The other Christmas treat for the family was a big basket of fresh fruit and raisins, which her mother would dole out. Schobert remembers her mother’s quilting, and says she would come home to find the big quilting rack set up in the sitting room and her mother and five friends working on a quilt. When Schobert graduated from high school she went to Richmond, VA to visit a favorite aunt, and ended staying there. She’d learned typing in high school, and passed the Civil Service exam. She got a job in Richmond as a clerk typist for the Army (working for a Major Whittle, who spent much of his time sleeping at his desk). She became a roller skating enthusiast, and met her first husband, Murdoch Blakesley, that way. They moved to Seattle, WA, and had three children. After they divorced she married Al Loomer and had two more children. That marriage ended and she committed “another mistake. I married Mr. Schobert.” They divorced, and she put her life back together, got out of debt, worked till retirement, and never remarried.

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