Patsy Pridgen grew up off Highway 43 in Edgecombe County, NC, halfway between Rocky Mount and Pinetops, where her parents were the first generation to leave the farm. Her grandparents were still there, however, so as a teenager, she was guaranteed a job putting in tobacco during the hot, humid summers of Eastern North Carolina.
Such work experience encouraged Patsy to get a college education so she could spend her summer sweating by a pool instead of in a pack house. She graduated from East Carolina University in 1976 with an undergraduate degree in English and in 1981 with a master’s degree in education.
In addition to being married to her high school sweetheart and rearing three daughters, Patsy taught English in the community college for twenty-seven years, turning in her red pen a few days after she turned sixty, the magical age when state employees with her time served qualify for a retirement check.
For the last decade, Patsy has written a weekly column for her hometown newspaper, the Rocky Mount Telegram, where she comments on everything from her dislike of the cable company to her love of coupons. She’s also been scribbling on a couple of books, one titled Ms. Dee Ann and the other, Life and Death in Narrow Creek, which depict the world of a young Southern mother living in a small town beginning in the late 1970s. Patsy will go to her grave declaring these books are not about her own life as a young Southern mother living in a small town beginning in the late 1970s. For example, she cannot sing like her main character, Dee Ann.
Today, Patsy resides in the city limits and vows never to return to the county as she likes the convenience of being only two stoplights away from the Harris Teeter and the nail salon. She has five grandchildren—one darling granddaughter who reminds her of her own precious girls when they were little and four rambunctious grandsons, a species she’s still getting used to. She and her husband will observe their 40th anniversary soon, and Patsy would like to celebrate by visiting Old Salem and any wineries in the area even though she’ll have to face all that traffic on the interstates.