Interviewee: Evelyn Richardson
IWY SC 662
Interviewer: Louise Pettus
Date: June 10-11, 1977
Evelyn Richardson of St. George, South Carolina attended the state IWY conference at the suggestion of the Dorchester Country social services office. Richardson was a mother of two. She worked at the Berkley-Dorchester Economics Development Cooperation. Interview includes discussion of: Richardson’s interest in the legal status of divorcees; her belief that the issue of rape and domestic violence was related to attitudes as well as laws; Richardson’s childhood and the impact of her father on raising her consciousness of equality between boys and girls; and her work with medical transportation buses.
Louise Pettus: First thing I’d like to do is ask you your name and where you’re from?
Evelyn Richardson: Evelyn Richardson from St. George, South Carolina.
LP: Why are you here at the conference?
ER: Well, I was contacted through Social Service and Ms. Jenkins asked me, “Would I like to go?” And she said it was for women’s organization and it was for everybody.
LP: Yes, it is.
ER: And she wanted some people from Dorchester County to represent, you know, Dorchester County.
ER: And listen in and come back. She wanted to come, but she couldn’t get here. And come back and tell her what went on.
LP: Alright. So you’re here more or less to find out what’s going on?
ER: Yes, ma’am.
LP: Is there any particular thing related to women that is a special interest of yours?
ER: Well there was several things. I myself am in the process of getting a divorce and I’d like to find out more about what I can do and what I can’t do – the legal status of a divorcee.
LP: As it will affect your life?
ER: Yes, yes.
ER: I have two children and they aren’t much interested in childcare. See what I’m doing wrong or if I am doing wrong, what I can do.
ER: I can always improve. And then there was “Rape and Battered Women.” That’s something, to me, that women can put a stop to with just a little bit of help.
LP: Uh-huh. Do you feel it’s a matter of laws or it’s a matter of attitude?
ER: Attitude, as much as anything. I mean, if mamas will sit down and talk to their girls and boys…Parents. Not just mamas, but parents. A lot of attitudes towards women would change. To me, a woman is a person and should be treated as a person. Not as someone to go to bed with, to use or abuse. To be treated with love and respect and…don’t open doors for me. But if you feel like you want to, go ahead. But if I get to the door first, I’ll go on through. That’s my attitude. I like to be treated nicely and respected. That’s the way I feel about it. It’s the woman’s responsibility to protect herself and I think a woman acts and dresses makes a lot of difference in the situation of rape and being battered and attacked. I know it’s a lot worse in big cities (unintelligible at 3:23) than it is in small towns, but we still have to contend with the same elements.
LP: When did you first get interested in this sort of thing? Or get conscious of a need for woman to be treated as a person, as you just expressed? Was it as a child? Teenager? Or has it been fairly recent?
ER: Well, I’d say all my life because my daddy always treated me as a person. If there was work to be done in the field, the girls did it as well as the boys. If there was something that the boys was doing that the girls wanted to do – going fishing, going hunting – the girls went. I’ve been hunting with my daddy a many a night. He has always treated me as a person, not as a finicky female. I’m not a finicky female, I’m a person.
LP: So you credit your father with actually giving you consciousness of a…
ER: Mmhm, yes. My daddy was a wonderful person. He was never too busy to talk. It didn’t make any difference what he was doing. I could walk up to him and say, “Daddy, I want to talk to you,” and he’d stop and if it was foolishness, he’d listen. And if I was serious, he’d listen and he’d always give me an answer. Sometimes it was “I don’t know, but we’ll find out. If we work together, we’ll find out.” And, as far as growing up, I guess I was closer to Daddy than I was to Mama, because Mama was sick and the older sister – she and Mama was, you know, they’d done the housework and the younger children we worked out in the field with Daddy. And me being the youngest, Mama always referred to me as “the baby,” but Daddy always said, “my baby,” and that was the difference. And…
LP: Do you work now?
ER: Yes, ma’am.
LP: And where do you work?
ER: The Berkley-Dorchester Economics Development Cooperation. We take anybody to the doctor that needs to go, if they’re on Medicaid. We run medical transportation buses.
LP: Does this type of thing, are there men and women employed?
ER: At the present time, we only have one man working in our office and he’s the gardener. The rest of them are…
LP: So, you work in a situation where you’re working with other women? Is that right?
ER: Yes, ma’am.
LP: About how many?
ER: There’s nine regular employees. Now, we have some summer employees. There’s five. Those are young college girls.
LP: Is there any particular reason why there are more women than men in this situation, that you know of?
ER: No, ma’am, not really. Because there are bus drivers out of Berkley County that are men, but most of them are women bus drivers. Mr. Marius, Mr. Thomas Marius, our executive director, why he employs more women than men? I don’t know, because we are affiliated with the OEO, that is, equal opportunity.
ER: Our supervisor is a lady and then there’s six bus drivers and some other office help.
LP: Alright. Is there anything that you’d like to add about the conference? Any hope you have for it or anything that you’d like to see for the future come out of this?
ER: Well, I just hope that we as women can band together and get what is right. Not maybe all these laws passed or whatever that some of these organizations are fighting for, but what will do good for everybody. Not just for women, but for the good of the country because that’s what we need.
LP: Alright, thank you very much.
ER: You’re welcome.
End of Interview