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Interview with Mary Moran, March 10, 2015

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
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00:00:19 - Childhood, home life, and father's work

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Partial Transcript: Mama, uh, can you tell me a little bit about your childhood?

Segment Synopsis: Moran talks about her family and childhood in Harris Neck, Georgia, in the 1920s. She discusses her father's work on a shrimp boat and fur trapping and her family's relative prosperity. She talks briefly about her relationship with her mother.

Keywords: 1920s; Bluestein; Darien, Georgia; Meridian, Georgia; R.K. Hopkins; Thunderbolt, Georgia; William "Willie" M. Barbee; fishing industry; fur trade; prawn; shrimping; sugar

00:04:31 - Early education

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Partial Transcript: Well, when you were going to school--your school was on Harris Neck?

Segment Synopsis: Moran talks about her experiences in school and some of her early teachers. One of her teachers, Ralph Baisden, attended Columbia University. He was her father's first cousin.

Keywords: Columbia University; Essie Thorpe; Harriet Baisden; Ralph Baisden; Sapelo Island

00:05:56 - White Residents of Harris Neck

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Partial Transcript: But how many people were there--how many white families lived on Harris Neck when you were...?

Segment Synopsis: Moran discusses the two white women who lived on Harris Neck and her family's relationship with them.

Keywords: Eleanor "Nellie" Van Brunt Clapp; Lily (Allien) Livingston; alcoholism; bulldog; corn liquor; domestic work; moonshine

00:07:31 - Meeting her husband, starting a family

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Partial Transcript: Well, well how did you meet--how did you come to marry Daddy?

Segment Synopsis: Moran talks about the period when she and her husband, Roosevelt Moran, began dating. She discusses giving birth to 12 of her 13 children at home.

Keywords: Eleanor "Nellie" Van Brunt Clapp; Garfield Thorpe; Roosevelt Moran; Shellman Bluff; home birth; midwife; reproductive health

00:09:34 - Childhood and family stories

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Partial Transcript: And Mama...tell me that story about, uh, when you were going to school and, uh, you and Auntie Seale and them boys and the swimming.

Segment Synopsis: Moran tells a story about playing a prank on some classmates while they were skinny dipping. She and the interviewer, her son, discuss the strict discipline instituted by her teacher and her parents, Robert and Amelia Dawley. She talks about her father's 1928 Ford. She tells ghost stories about her childhood home.

Keywords: Amelia Dawley; Belvedere Island; Ford automobiles; Ralph Baisden; Robert Dawley; Robert Thorpe; corporal punishment; gardening; ghosts; hygiene; pigs; potatoes

00:16:25 - Response to government seizure of Harris Neck / Stories about her family home and her mother

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Partial Transcript: Uh, tell me, now, here you are living this great life in Harris Neck. And Papa's got a good job with a shrimp boat, and you've got a nice home and everything, and all of a sudden the government comes to you, your mama and your daddy, and tell you--says, uh, "You got to go."

Segment Synopsis: Moran mentions her initial reaction to the news that she and her family would have to leave Harris Neck because the U.S. government claimed the land for an airstrip. She talks about the land and crops surrounding her family home. She tells a story about her mother killing a snake.

Keywords: Amelia "Mittie" Moran Grant; Amelia Dawley; Elberta peaches; Rayfield Dawley; Reverend Q; Robert Thorpe; Roosevelt Moran; Ruby Moran; corn; corncob pipe; crop rotation; fishing; sustainable agriculture; tobacco

00:20:57 - Forced to leave Harris Neck and finding ways to survive

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Partial Transcript: So now you're living this good life. Now, all of a sudden, you're on the side of the road, pregnant, with all of your kids--all in this little old shack here.

Segment Synopsis: Moran discusses the forced displacement of families from Harris Neck and the destruction of their homes to make way for the construction of a U.S. Army Air Base in 1942. She talks about the difficulties she and her family faced and how they managed to get by. She mentions the importance of her religious faith.

Keywords: 1940s; Eleanor "Nellie" Van Brunt Clapp; Harris Neck Army Air Base; Lily (Allien) Livingston; McIntosh County Commission; United States Army Air Forces (USAAF); condemnation; eminent domain; race relations; racism; religion

00:23:56 - Church music / Childhood games and songs

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Partial Transcript: Mama, um, y'all had how many churches in Harris Neck?

Segment Synopsis: Moran talks about her church in Harris Neck and some of the childhood songs she and her friends sang.

Keywords: First African Baptist Church; Little Sally Waters; When the Saints Go Marching In; children's songs; hide-and-seek; hymns; religion

00:26:21 - Economic survival and feelings about Harris Neck now

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Partial Transcript: So--I love hearing your stories because you really enjoyed life for--and then all of a sudden it all changed.

Segment Synopsis: Moran discusses how she and her family survived after being forced out of Harris Neck. She explains her current perspective on losing her home there.

Keywords: Brunswick Shipyard; Brunswick, Georgia; Evelyn Greer; Ford automobiles; Roosevelt Moran; Singer sewing machine; condemnation; eminent domain; faith; fishing industry; old age pension; phonograph; poultry; religion; shrimp boat; turkeys; welfare

00:31:32 - Husband's job as a police officer / Teaching about local black histories

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Partial Transcript: Tell me this, um, how many years Daddy was a police officer for Tom Poppell?

Segment Synopsis: Moran mentions her husband's work as a deputy for Sheriff Tom Poppell. She tells a story about her great-grandchild learning about their family history in McIntosh County schools.

Keywords: Abraham Livingston; Black History Month; Ku Klux Klan; Roosevelt Moran; Tom Poppell; firearms; police; racial violence

00:35:25 - Raising children

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Partial Transcript: Hold on--okay.

Well, on the---see I've got so many grands, great-grands, and great-great-grands, I want my children and their companions' names on the program.

Segment Synopsis: Moran tells a story about her husband's insistence that their children wear "union drawers" (long underwear) in the winter. She talks about making clothes and food for her children. She discusses her family's access to plentiful food. She mentions her daughter's education and career with IBM.

Keywords: International Business Machines Corporation (IBM); Knoxville, Tennessee; Rochester, Minnesota; Roosevelt Moran; Savannah, Georgia; Walter Field; canning; college; economic conditions; education; food security; long underwear; mail order catalog; retirement; school bus; sewing

00:41:45 - Conclusion

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Partial Transcript: Are we--this is Wilson Moran again. Uh, this is March 10, 2015, and I am interviewing my mother, Mary Dawley Moran, who is now in her 93rd year.

Segment Synopsis: Wilson Moran explains that he is interviewing his mother in his home on Harris Neck Road.

00:42:41 - Amelia's Song

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Partial Transcript: Okay, whenever you're ready.

Segment Synopsis: After the interview concluded, Moran asked if Wilson Moran and the group present for the interview wanted to hear the song she learned from her mother, Amelia Dawley. She sings what has been informally titled "Amelia's Song." The song has its roots in a Mende song from Sierra Leone and is central to the plot of the 1998 documentary film, The Language You Cry In. The film features the Moran family.

Keywords: Amelia Shaw (Delegal) Dawley; Geechee; Harris Neck, Georgia; Mende; Senehum Ngola, Sierra Leone; music