Gladys Jones Wright, 103, has memories to share of her life in Anson County.
Wright was a teenager and young adult during the Great Depression years and said that times were hard for everyone.
Born in Peachland, Wright said that her father and mother were very hard workers and very thrifty.
“We had two women school teachers that boarded in one room in their house, and nine sawmill hands that stayed on the property,” she said. “Every morning, my mother would get up in time to cook breakfast for a family of eight, two teachers and nine sawmill hands, and also make lunch boxes for the teachers and sawmill workers to take with them.”
When her father would go to Wadesboro, Wright said he would always take garden vegetables, eggs, butter and milk; selling these to pay for his gas and groceries.
Wright’s father and brothers worked in the fields with mules.
“As a little girl, it was my job to ring the dinner bell when it was time for everyone to come to the house for lunch (or dinner, as it was called then),” she said.
She also said that she would run to the field and get to ride her father’s sweaty mule back to the house.
Wright’s father made apple cider and wine — and he actually made wine for their church’s communion services at Mineral Springs Primitive Baptist Church.
Her mother always saved feathers from the chickens and geese the family ate,and then used those to make mattresses and pillows.
“This is what everyone in the family slept on,” Wright said. “She also sewed quilts for beds.”
Cows were milked to provide for the family, but also to earn a little extra money. Big milk cans would be filled, the milk truck would drive by, take the full cans and leave empty ones to fill later.
When pigs were killed, the hams would be salted and put into the smokehouse, and meat was ground and mixed to make sausage.
Wright said that it could be stored for family use and some was taken to Wadesboro for her father to sell.
“Eating fried chicken was a job,” she said. “You caught the chicken, chopped or wrung off his head, plucked the feathers, scalded it with hot water, then gutted it and cut it up for cooking.”
Clothes were washed with scrub boards and they used lye soap. People had to go to the spring or the well to wash clothes.
Wright said that most people had hand pumps to draw water with; some had to carry buckets from the source to home.
“You didn’t waste water like people do now,” she said.
“We used to make sheets … out of white flour sacks,” Wright said. “Chicken feed came in printed sacks; we would use these to make dresses, curtains, pajamas” and other things.
Wright added that the chicken feed salesman would drive his truck to the house, and then the women would get him to unload several bags so they could get ones made of the same pattern.
People bought paper patterns from stores to used to cut out the panels from the sacks, and then sew those panels together to make the dresses.
“We had a foot-petal sewing machine and made most of our clothes,” Wright said.
Wright said that people of the community also came together to help each other.
“People in the community came together to build barns and buildings for storage, and after harvesting corn to have corn shuckings,” she said.
She added that the women would cook lots of food, while men and children shucked the corn.
“This was always lots of fun for everyone, and got the work done, as well,” Wright said.
She said that trains used to have steam engines, and she could hear the engines and see the smoke over the trees.
“While you might not be able to see the train, you could follow it by seeing the smoke from the engine,” Wright said.
Cooking was done on a wood stove, and that’s how the house was heated, as well.
Wright said that men and boys had to cut wood and kindling, and her father had to start a fire each morning to warm the house.
“If someone was sick, you would have to drive to town and schedule an appointment with the doctor, who came to your home on a house call,” Wright said.
Wright said that few people had cars, and her family actually had what they called a “Hoover Cart” (people blamed the depression on President Herbert Hoover).
“This was a cart pulled by a mule that had car tires,” she said.
Wright said that Peachland had a lot to offer as a small town in those days and had several stores.
“You could go to town to buy clothes, shoes, hats and just about anything other small towns offered,” she added.
Wright has lived her entire life in Anson County and said that her life has been rich and full.
Wright’s life memories also include being married to the late Frank W. Wright on Dec. 3, 1933; having two daughters (Rebecca Nance and Sybil Ferree) and two sons (Bobby and Sheppard); 13 grandchildren, 26 great-grandchildren, and two great-great-grandchildren.
Wright has been a member of Deep Springs Baptist Church where she continues to attend.