Cary was born on February 21, 1936 and grew up in Nashville, TN.  Overall, she describes her childhood as “comfortable and happy. I was lucky to grow up in a secure home.”

When asked about her favorite childhood memories, Cary says she is particularly fond of her memories of Christmas as a child.  “I loved everything about Christmas!  I really enjoyed the Christmas party they would throw in school the day before Christmas break. And then of course we wouldn’t have school for a few weeks, which was wonderful.  My family would go to my [maternal] grandparents’ house in Centerville every other year, and my grandparents would come to Nashville every other year.  I loved the freedom I had in Centerville, but I also had a good time exchanging presents at home and calling my friends to see what they got.”  The big Christmas dinner and church service were also aspects of Christmas that Cary very much enjoyed.

Cary as a child (Photo Courtesy of Cary Johnston)

Some of Cary’s favorite childhood memories involve visiting her maternal grandparents.  “I was extremely close to my grandparents, and we visited them all the time until World War II, when gas prices became too expensive and we had to visit less frequently.”

Cary describes herself as an imaginative child.  She would often write plays and cast the neighborhood children as characters—but she claims “I would always save the best role for myself, of course.”  It was around this time that Cary developed an interest in books.  She quickly became an avid reader.  Specifically, she loved the Little House on the Prairie and Nancy Drew books.  She remembers how she “always asked for books for Christmas and birthdays.  I always had my nose in a book.  And I still love reading very much today.”

Additionally, Cary loved to play games as a child with the kids in her neighborhood.  One particular game she remembers playing was during World War II.  Cary remembers “my sister and I used to play with a little boy.  We used to pretend to ‘drop bombs’ on toys from the top of the stairs, which was our aircraft.  I laugh about it now because I got to be the captain, but my sister was so angry that I made her sit at the bottom of the stairs, hold a screwdriver and play the mechanic.”

In terms of education, Cary attended a private school in first grade, moved to a public school for second and third grade, and then moved back to a private school until the end of high school.  She was moved a year ahead of her class early on in her education and, although she could keep up academically with the older kids, believes there may have been social consequences that resulted from moving up too early.  She points out that “when you’re that young, age is a status symbol! It was difficult for me to fit in because I was always younger than everyone else.  My school years were by no means miserable, but I feel like they weren’t as happy as they could have been if I stayed in the proper grade.”  Despite the obstacles she faced regarding her age, Cary was always very successful in school.


The text, video, audio, and website are the result of interviews conducted by Ally Miller,
Davidson College Class of 2012, in the fall of 2011.

© 2011 Kristi S. Multhaup, Ph.D. | Davidson College | Davidson, NC 28035 | Phone: 704.894.2008
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