As a new first family prepares to move into the Governor’s Mansion, here’s a look back at writer Jack Riley’s profile of an earlier first lady preparing to take office with her husband W. Kerr Scott.
To talk to Mary White Scott you’d think there was absolutely nothing to the business of becoming First Lady of North Carolina.
She certainly shows no sign of misgivings at the thought of taking over the First Lady’s residence at 210 North Blount Street here during the four years that her husband will serve as Governor.
Mrs. Scott, simply intends to make of the Governor’s Mansion as pleasant a home for her husband as she has done with the modest farmhouse in Alamance County, in which they have lived since she arrived as a bride 30 years ago. ...
Her thoroughly feminine manner and soft voice are hardly reconciled with the fact that she once rode horseback six miles back and forth to teach school through the worst weather of winter, or the fact that she manages a 1,300-acre farm with a firm hand while her husband is away....
When the Scotts come to Raleigh, it will be the first time that either of them has abandoned for any length of time their old home places in Alamance County. They were born within a mile’s distance of each other and since their marriage have lived on the farm that was a part of the elder Scott’s place.
Mrs. Scott was born April 30, 1897 near Hawfields. ... She was christened Mary Elizabeth White. After her marriage, some referred to her and the big farm as “Mary, Queen of Scott’s land.”
The Whites were engaged in general agriculture, and the whole family worked at it. The five girls divided the household chores and sometimes worked in the fields. For the simple reason that she thought it might involve less work, Mary White chose cooking as her household chore. While other sisters attended the housecleaning, sewing, mending and washing, she plied her hand in the kitchen.
It paid dividends in more ways than one. She turned out to be a near-genius at the preparation of food for the family, and she was learning the straightest way to the heart of that attractive young man in the Scott home about a mile down the road.
Today Kerr Scott’s hearty appetite is a family joke, and when you want to know his favorite dish, the answer is simply “food.” ...
When someone asked if Mrs. Scott could carry off the big functions sometimes required at the Governor’s Mansion, a fried casually commented that if she could feed the Scott crowd, she could feed anybody. Seldom does a Sunday pass without dinner guests.
The ... kitchen is equipped with a modern electric range, but on big days, this is out of the question for preparing food, and Mrs. Scott or her cook reverts to the big, wood-burning range with many times the cooking surface. She thinks, too, that a wood-burner is better for baking anyway.
Although the outgoing first lady, Mrs. Cherry, had mentioned that the Mansion was short on bedroom furniture, Mrs. Scott joked that “all we need is a suitcase to move into the Governor’s Mansion.”
...she still betrayed at least one concern. That is whether her cook Surcelia Torain, will come to Raleigh with her. -- The N&O 11/14/1948