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Ann Johnson Williamson gives a long and vivid interview about growing up in Bailey and her life as a military wife in Central America. She was born in 1931 in a four-room tenant farmer's house in Old Spring Hope. Her father left farming to open a store at Taylor's Crossroads, then formed a partnership with his brother-in-law Leon Matthews to open and run a grocery store in Bailey. One of Williamson's chores was to churn milk after school (she calls it clabbering) and talks about trying unsuccessfully to trick her mother by adding hot water to the milk (for which she was beaten with a switch). Every Saturday morning her mother would sweep the bare back yard with home-made brooms, and Williamson had to cut the grass in front with a push mower. She talks a lot about her teenage passion, basketball. She was on the Bailey girls' varsity high school team and they played Middlesex, Spring Hope, Whitakers, Benvenue, Red Oak, and Nashville. Her coaches were Mr. M. W. Weaver and Mr. Dennis. She was injured one year playing basketball so formed the school's first cheerleading team while she recovered. After school she and her brother worked in their father's store stocking shelves. She shares memories of her father's store in Bailey -- long counters and bins, with fresh vegetables from their own farm, and canned goods, mercantile items like work pants and work gloves, cigars and tobacco, and dry beans and rice in bins. They also had a butcher section in back, where they cut and sold fresh pork, pork sausage, and beef from their own farm. From age 12 Williamson ran store-related errands for her father in his truck. In time Williamson learned how to cut up meat and grind sausage, and prepare and smoke hams, as their meat business got more popular, and she describes some of the processes in detail. She talks about one man, Jim Stone, who would come in every Saturday and buy enormous quantities of everything because he had 21 children. Williamson went to Atlantic Christian College (now Barton College) and majored in business and physical education. She married her husband Wiley in 1953. He'd done ROTC and went into the Army and went to flight school. Together they lived in many places during Wiley's career as an Army officer, including Panama and Nicaragua, and she worked in the U.S. Embassy. In Nicaragua they were able to adopt their Costa Rican son Ronnie. Williamson speaks with admiration of her Embassy boss, Col. John Nickerson, a scientist. Wiley's last posting was to the Raleigh/Durham Airport as advisor to the National Guard on aviation matters, and they lived in Cary for a while. When Wiley retired they moved to Bailey, where Williamson opened a ceramics shop. She talks in detail about the pleasures of ceramics work.





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