Loading the player...
Annie Bell Thompson of Rocky Mount is 100 years old at the time of her interview. Born in Wildwood in Carteret County in 1896, she was raised on a tobacco farm where they also grew corn and many other vegetables as well as melons and apples. Her grandparents, Caledonia and Nelson Bell, had a farm a quarter of a mile away and Thompson remembers their milking house and how her grandmother made butter and pies. Thompson’s mother died young, in her thirties, leaving seven children. Her father never remarried, so the older sisters had to help raise the younger children. Growing up she picked cotton, looped tobacco, and helped grade tobacco. She was in charge of killing the chickens for cooking, and she describes the process of getting a chicken ready for the pot. They parched and ground green coffee beans, using their wood stove. Thompson went to Kings Business College in Rocky Mount when she was 18, living in a rooming house with another student, and then worked at the Anchor Store office and later for attorney Jimmy Keel. She met her husband at this time. He was working as a salesperson for the Rocky Mount Shoe and Clothing company, and had a long career subsequently as a traveling salesperson for W. C. Weeks & Company, a feed and seed business. He was drafted into World War I at the age of 31, but never had to serve overseas. Thompson herself worked for some time at Hilda’s Dress Shop in Rocky Mount doing alterations, and branched out into her own sewing side business. She has many memories to share, including: gigging flounders and catching crabs as a child; Sunday School; getting a doll at Christmas; boarding house life before her marriage; life during the Depression; what Rocky Mount was like in the World War I years and thereafter (including what businesses were where, including Ricks Hotel, the Willrow Restaurant, Anchor Store, Rosenblooms, Bullocks, and W. D. Weeks); unpaved roads; the end of World War I; and her first automobile ride, emphasizing the fact that cars were open and the roads dusty so ladies had to wear big hats with veils.