Selections from Interviews: Women at Home and in the Community

Photo of Mary Dillard by Brandon Markin // First Person Plural: An Oral History of Arkansas Women
Photo by Brandon Markin

My brother Larry was 12 or so, would help father in the store. We had housework. Larry would be able to go out and hunt. There was only so far we could go out into woods, we girls.

– Mary Dillard, Consultant & Community Volunteer

The last time I had on a dress was March 3, 1979. That’s when I got married. I hate dresses. They’re uncomfortable to me. So I wear pants. I think if I hadn’t been forced to wear them when I was a kid I might feel differently about it.

– Robyn Horn, Artist & Philanthropist

Photo of Dr. Sybil Jordan Hampton by Brandon Markin // First Person Plural: An Oral History of Arkansas Women
Photo by Brandon Markin

A pivotal event was in the 1950s. My mother wanted a car so that she could transport us more easily. And my father didn’t believe that she should have her own car. My grandfather decided that he would support my mother and he signed for her to get a car. When my father came home from work that day he was so angry. That was very instructive, I think, for me to understand that there are risks you take as a woman in being assertive, and that there are consequences, but I think that having a mother and a grandfather who supported my mother in that way was very helpful to me in having this balance.

– Dr. Sybil Jordan Hampton, Retired Foundation Executive

Chores? I don’t remember stuff like that. What I remember is music. I was in a couple of bands. I was in a group with two other girls playing guitar and singing. And then I was in a band where I played electric guitar and sang. We were called The Opposite Sex. We played in a couple of high school talent shows. Somebody had a party after graduation. We went over to this house and set up all our equipment in their living room. We had only learned 7 or 8 songs. We played all those songs. Only 30 minutes had passed. We turned to each other—“Uh, oh,”—and played ’em again and again until everyone went home.

– Robyn Horn, Artist & Philanthropist

Photo of Charlotte Schexnayder by Cynthia L. Adams // First Person Plural: An Oral History of Arkansas Women
Photo by Cynthia L. Adams

I had this wonderful woman named Archie Mae Bealer, who was a black woman, and she was here 18 years to help me with my children and my mother. Archie Mae was really a member of my family. We never had enough money to give. But [when] Archie Mae’s house burned down, we helped her get back on her feet. You did the best you could to help people.

– Charlotte Schexnayder, Retired Editor & Legislator

I was born in Chicago, and I came to Arkansas when I was maybe 12 years old to live with my grandmother. My grandmother owned some land for farming. She was probably about in her 50s or 60s, and on the weekends when we’d go in to get food or supplies, my grandmother would be saying, “Yes, ma’am,” to kids who were like six years old. Being expected to respond to children in that way, just because they were white. That was real difficult for me to adjust to.

– Jo Evelyn Elston, Educator & Community Volunteer

My experience was living in a very segregated city, but not living in an all-black neighborhood. My sense of who I was bifurcated. I rode in the back of the bus to pay my parents’ bills, but the people who were the vendors to my parents’ store were white. I saw my parents and my grandfather treated in a very good way because [they] were their customers.

– Dr. Sybil Jordan Hampton, Retired Foundation Executive