Ruth Collinsworth

Interviewed by: Dylan Hubbard
Date: November 20, 2006

Dylan Hubbard reports:

"I interviewed my grandmother, Ruth Collinsworth. In this interview I learned about her early life and when she first got married. I also asked her about the Great Depression and World War II. She was very helpful and interesting."

Interviewer: When were you born? Where you born in a hospital or a house? What state and city were you born in?

Collinsworth: Well, I was born March 24, 1925, and I believe it was in a house. Yeah, I reckon it was. Cause back then, there wasn't nurses there was just midwifes. I was born in Kentucky; it wasn't a city just in the country.

Interviewer: Where did you live? Did you like your home? How many bedrooms were there? How many rooms were in it?

Collinsworth: Zebulon, Kentucky. Yea it was a big o'house. I can't remember how many bedrooms that was in it, but there was five upstairs and six downstairs. There also was big cellar.

Interviewer: Did you live on a farm? What type of farm? What type of food did you farm?

Collinsworth: Yes I lived, on a very big one. Oh, we raised everything, we had apple n' peach orchard's, lots of cherries, pears, blackberries. We also had your everyday garden stuff. Like corn, lettuce, tomato, onions, and potatoes.

Interviewer: Did your family have any livestock? What type of animals did this include?

Collinsworth: Yea, we had lots of cows, horses, chickens, and mules.

Interviewer: Do you remember the Great Depression? Was the Great Depression a hard time to grow up in? What do you remember the most about it?

Collinsworth: I was really little when this was happening, but I remember daddy and mommy sayin' it was very tough to make ends meet. My daddy took people out of poor camps, and he built them houses on a small plot of land he gave them. He even helped them start growing crops of their own. Yea, my daddy was a real good man.

Interviewer: Did you have to ration food, clothing, etc.?

Collinsworth: I don't remember too much about it.

Interviewer: Did you go to a school? Where did you go to school at? What type of school were you in one room containing many age groups? How long did you go to school?

Collinsworth: Yes, I went to school. Evalon was the name of it, and we started in July and went to January. It was a big ol' school house with only one or two rooms and there were kids of all ages. I went to high school in Pikeville. I stayed with a lady during this time, and I didn't finish high school, but instead, I got married. And you know what, I went back later and got my GED!

Interviewer: What was life like living on a farm back then? Did you have to work on the farm? If you did what did you do, work in the garden, gather wood, etc.?

Collinsworth: You went to bed early and got up early everyday, and had to work out in the hot sun. Yes, I did work on the farm, but my jobs weren't as hard as my brothers' jobs, yet I still had to help.

Interviewer: Was it boring growing up on a farm? What did you do to past time?

Collinsworth: No, not really. We played ball, horseshoes, and went swimming in a small creek that daddy dammed up for us. We went to town on Saturdays, and if we didn't go, our daddy always brought us back candy and other stuff.

Interviewer: Did you play games? What type of games did you play? Who did you play these games with?

Collinsworth: Yea, we played lots of things. Like horse shoes, kickball, and tag. I had a big ol' family with lots of brothers and sisters.

Interviewer: How many brothers/sisters do you have? Were they older or younger than you?

Collinsworth: 5 brothers and 2 sisters, all but one.

Interviewer: Did you have to share a room with your siblings?

Collinsworth: Only with Osa. She was a woman that my family took in because her husband was mean to her, so we let her live with us though she had one boy but her husband kept him.

Interviewer: What did your father do for a living? Was he happy with his job? What was his salary?

Collinsworth: He owned a sawmill and helped people in poor farms. He gave them land to raise and things to live on. Yes, he liked anything that involved working. He loved working and was a very hard worker. I can't really remember, but he was a school teacher at one time. He had so many children that he needed more money, and teacher's pay wasn't that good, so he bought a sawmill.

Interviewer: Did your mother have a job? If so, what did she do? Was she happy with her job? What was her salary?

Collinsworth: She worked harder than dad [laughs], but she didn't have an actual job that paid, but her work was keeping the farm running and keeping up with us kids.

Interviewer: Did your mother knit, crochet, or quilt? If so, did she teach you to do any of these things?

Collinsworth: She only quilted, but Osa was the one that taught me how to knit and crochet. Mommy didn't like it, but Osa loved it, so I learnt how to do it from her, and I still love to do it.

Interviewer: What do you remember about World War II? Did your father fight in this war? Did any of your brothers?

Collinsworth: Yeah, But daddy was too old to fight. Yes, one of them fought all through France, Germany, and Italy and died in a car wreck when he got back home. I believe Homer was in the Philippines fighting, and George was in Iran and Tunice fought the Germans.

Interviewer: How did you preserve food? Where did you store food that needed to stay cool?

Collinsworth: With catalog paper and canned it. Mommy had a spring house with a concrete floor and its walls were filled with dirt to keep it from freezing.

Interviewer: Did your family have a smokehouse? What type of meat did you and your family eat?

Collinsworth: Yeah, we had a smoke house and a springhouse. We had all kinds of thing like cow, hogs, some beef, but mostly hams and pork, we also had chicken.

Interviewer: What did you do during the summer? Did you go fishing, swimming, stay at home, etc.?

Collinsworth: We worked and raised gardens and stuff like that; I remember Mommy gave us a little piece of land to build our little garden when we were smaller. We went swimming in this little creek; I didn't go fishing, but the boys did.

Interviewer: Did you play any sports? If you did, what did you play?

Collinsworth: I didn't really play anything just some kickball or something like that in our backyard.

Interviewer: Did you have a job? What did you do? Did you like it? How much were you paid?

Collinsworth: Nope, I got married when I was sixteen. Later, I got talked into opening my own business. I'm 82 and still working there.

Interviewer: What did you wear? Did you have shoes? What type of clothes did you wear, dresses, blue jeans, etc?

Collinsworth: I wore mostly dresses. I would only wear a pair of pants when I went to go pick berries. We didn't go barefooted much. Most people went barefooted in the summertime, but we didn't.

Interviewer: Did they have cars back then? What type of cars were they? Did you drive? Did your parents?

Collinsworth: Uhmm, yeah, my oldest brother had one. They ain't nothing like the ones today. I never drove till I got married.

Interviewer: Did you move any as a child? If so, where did you live?

Collinsworth: Nope, always in the same house.

Interviewer: When did you get married? How old were you? Where were you married? Was it a small ceremony or a rather large one? Did family come, friends, or members of the church (or all three)?

Collinsworth: When I was sixteen, in Pikeville, Kentucky, in a courthouse. It was just us and our parents and a couple of my brothers went too.

Interviewer: Where did you live? Did you move any? If so, where did you go to? Did you like where you lived?

Collinsworth: Imboden, Virginia. Yes, bunches of times. We went to Detroit and stayed there a while. I really didn't like it, but then, we went to Baltimore for a while until after the war was over. Paul (her husband) got hurt in the war, and he came back and worked over here for the army, and then we came to Big Stone Gap.