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Part of the Oral History of Agriculture in Edgecombe County Project. Margaret Quincy, a white woman, talks about her long life on the farm. She was born in the West Edgecombe section of Edgecombe County, one of 11 children and the oldest daughter. She worked in the fields with her siblings and helped her mother care for the younger children. Her father had bought a farm and portions of farmland for his brothers and sisters just before the Depression, and they were just able to hang onto their property even through the worst financial times. They were fairly self-sufficient with cows, pigs, chickens, eggs, and vegetables, and the whole family, working together, would can from 600 to 1,000 quarts of food every year. Quincy says her father was a generous man and during hard times would regularly invite neighbors who had no food to come eat with them. She and her siblings did not have store-bought toys but amused themselves playing outdoors with homemade things like jump ropes, empty barrels to walk on, and beanbags thrown over the house. At first Quincy attended Dixie School near Rocky Mount, a two-hour walk away, but switched to West Edgecombe School when it was built when she was in third grade. She attend high school there and graduated in 1935. She met her husband Horton Quincy in 1934 and married him in 1940. When her father died soon thereafter they went back to live with Quincy's mother to help her with farmwork and child-raising. A country store just in front of their property fell vacant and Horton rented it from the family and ran it successfully for 15 years, but he went out of business during hard times when the many people to whom he had extended credit couldn’t pay their bills. Horton was later asked to take over a farm owned by one of her aunts, and over subsequent years they were able to rent other farms and finally buy their own. The best innovation was the advent of electricity, particularly because they could get a refrigerator and an electric pump for running water. Quincy shares many other memories of farm life in her girlhood, including: suckering tobacco, which she hated; the work rotation her father would establish each week for which child was to do which chores; their first car, on unpaved roads; what being a “Second Mama” to her siblings entailed; the clothes her mother would make for them all out of feed sacks; their few entertainments (the radio, corn shuckings, visiting with neighbors); the establishment of Proctor’s Chapel Church on their and a neighbor’s land; the switch from tenants to day laborers; an affliction she called “the itch” that school children would come down with, to be treated with sulfur and lard; and the good relations they’ve had with their African American tenants. Quincy has been extremely active in community groups over the years, including the Democratic Party, the Edgecombe Community College Board, the county Farm Bureau Women, and the Home Economics Extension Club (serving as President on more than one), and continues to do community service volunteering in support of school children and the elderly. She says life on the farm has been hard but satisfying. One of her two sons now runs her farm.





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