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Interview conducted with Jean Pittman as part of the Nash County Oral Histories Project. Pittman talks about growing up on a tobacco farm in rural Nash County in the 1940s. Her grandparents, Hattie and Charlie Ashe, were working as sharecroppers on a farm owned by Van Watson. Her parents, Hattie and Cephus Sweet, moved to Nash County to help her grandparents. Pittman recounts working on the tobacco farm at a young age; explains the living situation and compensation provided to the sharecroppers by the farm’s owner in lieu of cash payments. She details the processes used when planting and growing tobacco. Pittman talks about her family going to a farm owned by Otis Edwards for a year. She explains that her father had developed a drinking problem, which led to arguments with the farm’s owner, and ultimately to her parents separating. Her mother returned to the Watson farm as a tenant and head of household, and was given 5 acres of tobacco. Van’s son, George Watson was running the farm at that point, and Pittman mentions that additional work was made available for cash payments. She describes the harvesting, grading, hanging, and curing techniques used for the tobacco they grew. Pittman also mentions the division of labor and work schedule between everyone in their household. She reflects on going to school as a child, but eventually dropping out once her presence was needed on the farm. Pittman mentions that once her children were grown, she attended night school and was able to get her GED. She talks about the jobs she’s had once she left farming, and talks about her mother’s living situation late in life. Pittman speaks about the deterioration of the relationship with her husband due to his alcoholism; talks about raising her children, grandchildren, and helping raise the children of her employer, Dr. Randolph Deans.

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