My name is Georgie Havens and I was born in Suiter in 1928. My parents were Beatrice and M.C. Stacy. My mother ran a boarding house at Suiter and my father worked for the Virginia Hardwood Lumber Company. My mother was a very strict, religious person, and my father went along with her. My Grandmother and Grandfather Stacy were from Wise County. Mother’s father died when she was a baby. She was a Quillen and her mother married again and moved to Indiana. My grandparents were farmers. I don’t know what they were like. I never did get to meet part of them. I had nine brothers and sisters. There’s six of us girls and three boys and we’ve all retired now. We’re all living and we’re all retired now. None of us got away with nothing.The girls didn’t gang up on the guys. We had one brother that always aggravated us girls more than the rest of them.
We made our own toys. We played jack rocks. We made our own little playhouses, and we did swimming. Of course, we worked in our gardens for our mother and we helped our parents. Jack rocks is a game with little metal pieces and there’s a ball with it. You can get them in stores now. Some chores around the house were washing dishes, cleaning house, and where we used to live, we had to carry water. All nine of us had things we had to do. We lived in different homes. We lived in a boarding house when I was little, then we moved in with Virginia Hardwood Company to up to Wolfe Creek and we had a home on wheels run on a railroad track. Them we moved out of that when the Virginia Hardwood Lumber Company went into Burkes Garden. We moved back down Wolfe Creek into a three bedroom home and then from there down to this here where I’m living now I lived in the house on the track for about three or four years. It was pretty neat and different. It was heated by coal, and we cooked on a coal cook stove.
In our garden, we grew every kind of vegetable you could name, we grew. We used to bury our cabbage.
My favorite meal was dinner. Mother did all of the cooking, and of course we helped some, but she was an excellent cook. We ate just ordinary country food, what we grew in our garden.
My first school was a one room school at Suitor and from there I went to a Bogle school. No, from there I went to Bastian, from there I went to a Bogle school, one room up Wolfe Creek and then on up the head of Wolfe Creek to a white school house. From there back to Bastian, back to Rocky Gap, back to Bland. We had seven different classes. You learned the four R’s there pretty good, reading, writing, and arithmetic. We had some very strict teachers at that time. Which they were allowed to spank then and they don’t now.
I had a couple of favorite teachers. Ora Gray Stowers is one of my favorite teachers. She’s still living. And then Harry Foglesong, of course he’s passed away now. We walked to school the biggest portion of time. Then they started running the school bus out of Wolfe Creek and we rode to Rocky Gap on it.
I got into plenty of trouble at school. I wasn’t a troublemaker. I just stood up for my rights. In school, I played basketball and softball. That’s all we had. Back then you didn’t have no other sports but basketball and softball. We played, when I was at Rocky Gap, we played Bland and Ceres. Then when I moved, went to Bland, we played Rocky Gap, Ceres in softball. And then we played Pearisburg and Narrows and Pembrooke, Ceres, Rocky Gap in basketball. Bland and Rocky Gap were as competitive as they are now.
We celebrated Christmas. Our mother did all this baking and breads and cakes and candies and salads. On Halloween we dressed up and went out on the town. Get in a little trouble over it. We dressed up in long men’s underwear and stuffed and powdered our face in Halloween. But we got whipped over that. Or we slipped off and done that and our mother got mad and we got it when we got home. We never egged houses or did that stuff with toilet paper, but I’ve had it done to me. Turn over outside johns. Of course you don’t have that many now.
When you went on a date, you had to take your whole family with you. On my first date, I think I was about sixteen or seventeen. And then you had to take somebody with you when you went out on a date, even to a movie. It wasn’t awkward to take people with you on dates. You just had a lot of fun. The first movie I ever saw was a western.This is how I met my husband. Back then you had birthday parties and he walked me home for the first time. We went from one home, everybody that had a birthday, why they’d have a little party and everybody, all the young people would go and he walked me home one night. I was married in Bland. It was just a simple wedding. It wasn’t a church wedding. We went to a parsonage and got married. Back then you didn’t have too many big weddings like they do now. We didn’t go on a honeymoon. I had to work and he did too. My husband’s name is Jewell P. Havens. I have five children. I have two girls and three boys. My oldest daughter is a retarded child and she lives in Galax. Kathy lives in Lebanon. She owns the Waffle & Egg at Claypool Hill. Perry is the oldest son and he lives in Baptist Valley and he’s a foreman over coal mines, deep mines for Consolidated Coal Company. Stacy’s kind of a foreman in for American Power Company in Princeton. And Tony works for GIV. It was easier to raise children back then than it is now. You don’t have as many drug problems and things like they do now.
Growing up in Rocky Gap was tough. It was all right, I guess. When we went to Rocky Gap, it was a bigger school and you know at first kinda scary, cause we’d been going to one room schools. But you got used to it and you learned to hold your own. I don’t remember what the enrollment was at Rocky Gap was when I got there, but the grade school had a four room white building, right up from that church down there and that’s where most of the grades went. And then in the brick part, they had fourth grade was in one room. The fifth and sixth was in one I think. Anyway, the high school, they didn’t have but two rooms for it. There wasn’t that many. Of course back then, you didn’t have but four high school grades, eighth, ninth, tenth, and eleventh. There was as much prejudice or discrimination back then as there is today.
There wasn’t much in Rocky Gap concerning businesses. There was just sawmills and garment factories. Well, the garment factory didn’t come in here until the early fifties. You hardly got to go to a movie, but people got together, and when we moved here, boys came in here with music. They played and a bunch of girls came here. We made our own fun. A lot of the community would get together.
Weather was bad in the wintertime. Snow and big ice, and when the creeks froze over, you could skate on them. I would skate on them all the time. We walked to school in the snow, rain, and flood. I can’t remember any bad snowstorms or floods. I guess if I got my mind together. I can’t right at the present time.
For Christmas, we didn’t have many toys, but we had plenty of food. Mother always seen that we had a ham and all kinds of cakes and break, rolls, salads, and all that stuff. We had plenty of food. We always had a Christmas tree. We roamed the mountains, and got a Christmas tree. We put homemade stuff on the Christmas tree, like sycamore balls, We’d dip them in flour and hang them on the tree. We stuck popcorn on the tree and crepe paper. We had our own decorations. For Easter, we had the Easter egg hunts at home, and all the kids would gather around and of course we lived close to where two of my sisters lived and their children. We’d all hide eggs together. We didn’t go to sunrise services until we moved here.
The first president that I can remember would be Roosevelt. My favorite movie star was definitely Clark Gable. Everybody said my husband looked like him. The first movie that I went to cost about a quarter. Some of them were ten cents. You could go to a western for ten cents. The stock market crash affected Bland County. When we lived at Suitor, people would come by when we lived up there, and they didn’t have nothing to eat, so Mother would feed them. It didn’t make much of an impact around here. Franklin Roosevelt helped the country during the Great Depression. He was the cause of the CCCs coming in here, and giving work to the different places and young men around here. His programs like the WPA, PWA, and CCC did help the people of Bland County. I can remember when Roosevelt died well, because I was outside hanging clothes out. It stunned the world when he died, just like it stunned the world when Kennedy got killed. I guess I was about twelve years old, when we got our first radio. Mother got a little tiny one when we first got electricity. See, we had kerosene lamps, and when I was about twelve and we moved up Wolf Creek, they put lights up there. And that’s when we got our first little radio. We listened to it a lot! We’d take it to bed with us, and listen to the Grand Ole Opry. One of my favorite shows was The Squeaking Door. There was a lot of daytime programs to listen to in the summertime. Little Orphan Annie was in the funny papers, so was Dagwood and Blondie. I can’t remember them all. We didn’t get our first telephone, until after the kids all left home. Electricity changed our lives. We were thrilled about it. We got a refrigerator, we had ice water and tea. Of course, we had tea back them, but it wasn’t iced tea. We were real thrilled over it. It made a big difference in Bland County. Bastian had electricity before we did up Wolf Creek. Yeah, we all had a party line when you got your first telephone. I had it for about two years, and then I got off of it. Everyone kept butting in on you. I remember when I got my first TV. It was in 1956. That’s when our house burned. We got a second-hand TV, and when the house burned, it burned with it. One of the first shows that I watched was Lawrence Welt. TV has changed, in a lot of ways it’s made things worse for kids, cause they watch all of this stuff that they shouldn’t watch. It’s getting to the place where you can’t even watch TV.
I also remember where I was when the I had heard that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor. I was living up Wolf Creek. I can just barely remember it. I think that I was about twelve years old. I had two brothers in World War II. I had one who went before the Korean started. During the war at home, my sisters made candy, and sent it to my brothers. Mother also sent stuff to them while they were overseas. It was a sad time. Of course, our mother prayed for each one of them. It was a really sad time. I am not the youngest of the family. I have a brother that lives in Chester that’s the younger one. And then I have a sister in Florida that’s the baby. There was rationing. There were food stamps and stuff. You had stamps for sugar, stamps for shoes, for shortening, and a lot of things that you had to have stamps for. Gas, even after the restrictions went off of gas, you could get gas for $ .20-.23 a gallon. I think that the biggest portion of the people supported the war. I can’t remember where I was when I heard that the Germans had surrendered. I don’t remember what my reaction was when I heard about the atom bomb being dropped and that the Japanese had surrendered. I also don’t remember how I felt about President Truman. People didn’t support the Korean War. I didn’t have any family that went and fought in the Korean War. My husband really liked President Eisenhower because he was a veteran. I guess he was all right. Times in Bland County during the 1950’s were on the average. Of course things changed from the 50’s to the 60’s. It was really sad when President Kennedy got killed. Of course he done things in office that this one’s doing too, but nothing was said about it. Clinton knew what he was doing same as the other one did, but that was his private life. He’s done good so far as a president. I think they should leave him alone until he finishes his term, and then do something about it. I don’t remember though where I was when I had heard that President Kennedy was shot. I don’t remember how I felt about President Johnson. I didn’t have any family that fought in the Vietnam War. I don’t remember much about President Nixon and the whole Watergate thing. I’m not a very good politician. I feel that the country is in some pretty bad shape. They’re leaving out God on every corner, and getting worse. Things have definitely changed for the worse.
I’ve driven school buses, coal trucks, and log trucks. It was kind of scary. The men didn’t treat me any differently. I just drove with my husband. School buses, though, that’s a nerve-racking thing. They behaved pretty good. I’ve done, I guess, a little bit of everything. I sewed in the sewing factory. I worked at ABB at Bland. For one year, I was out of work, and I picked turkeys for the Blessing Brothers when they had a chicken picking place over there. I worked for them.
Boarding House Days
Running a boarding house was work. Well, my mother ran it mostly. You tried to feed one hundred people three meals a day. She hired help to help with it. I helped a lot. I was little then, though. My older sisters helped too. We did the washing for the lobby. See you had the big boardinghouse, and you had the lobby across from it. We lived there for about a year. It was a fairly big boardinghouse. She had about an average of a one hundred people there.
company store. They had a doctor, and then we had a doctor down in Bastian, Dr Walker. Dave Shufflebarger had a store. The Kidd brothers had a store. The Blessing brothers had a store. There was Bland Supply where the train brought all of the supplies in and left them. That was located where the Church of God is. R.E. Kidd had a Chevrolet dealership. A lot of old homes, but a lot of them are torn down or burnt down. The CC Camp came in and a lot of people came in on that, and we had a post office. We had two churches, which we’ve got three now in the community. It’s just a lot of things like that. It’s good to go back and see, but a lot of them is torn down. When Virginia Hardwood moved their sawmill and closed us down, they sold a lot of these houses in 1944, and people bought them and torn them down and then rebuilt them. My dad bought this one here for eight hundred dollars. Somebody bought the lobby next door, and Daddy bought the land off of them. He gave them three hundred dollars for the land. The houses sold for real cheap, but they were more or less boxed up. You had to redo them. This room was the dining room, and that was the kitchen. My brother rearranged and made that a bedroom, and this a kitchen.
Living in a Car
When I was younger there were a lot of kids to play with. The place was full of kids. We had a two room school down here, and it was full. We went to school from nine to three. There were three families that lived in the cars, and then there was about five or six families that lived in smaller cars. My husband was in the Army. He attended school down here in Bastian. He never did go to high school. There were other families though that were living in the cars. Those families aren’t around here anymore. When Virginia Hardwood broke up, the people went back to where they were from. A lot of them went to Kingsport, some to North Carolina, and places like that. The cars were partitioned to make each room and each room had eight windows in it. We had two bedrooms, and one of them, which was Mom’s and Dad’s, had a kitchen in it. Then in between them we built a living room, and then when we got ready to move, we’d tear that living room out and we’d take the things that were on the wall and benches and everything, and put them in the middle of the floor. Then the train would come by and hook it up, and move it on to the next campsite. We moved around in it. The train would hook up to them, and move them on to the next campsite. We went to three different campsites like that. When we moved, we stayed in Bland County. We were all living in the cars. When we lived in those cars, two of my sisters were married, and one of them lived in a car like that. There was three or four families in cars like that, and then there was about six or seven families in one room shacks. They would have three, and then would build a room in between them then. They furnished them, because we worked for Virginia Hardwood. I was about between eight and ten, when we lived in the car. We went to school still, while staying there. The first time we had to walk five miles to school, and then when we moved on up a little further, and went to a one room school, we had to walk about three miles. Then we moved on up the head of Wolf Creek, and had to walk about three or four miles. When we moved back down Wolf Creek, and we went to Bastian. We had to walk about five miles, and then the bus started running to Rocky Gap, and we went to Rocky Gap then. There were a lot of kids that went to school with me that were living in the other cars. We weren’t treated any differently. We were treated just like everybody else. Everybody around here worked for the Virginia Hardwood Company. One person wasn’t no better than anybody else.
We ate a lot of what was out of our garden. We canned a lot every year. You picked berries in the summertime. We picked cherries too. We raised our own hogs, and we had a cow. We also had chickens. It was a milking cow. I was always there when the killed the hogs and the chickens. I’ve killed many a chicken. I always rung their head off. They weren’t considered pets, so it didn’t affect me that much. We also raised ducks. The only pet that we had was a black cat. We had our own fun. We didn’t need pets. We swang on grapevines, and we had a seesaw. We’d make our own merry-go-round. We also went fishing. We fixed our own pond, and had our own swimming hole. Of course we had to work hard before we could play.
We played Annie Over. Somebody would get on one side of the house, and somebody on the other. You had to catch the ball before it hits the ground and you run around the house and tag them. You’d holler Annie over. And then we played Whip Crack. You’d line up in a line, and the person on the end really got it. You would run with then, and you come around and snap them. When we was in the boggle school, we was little then, we used to play in the leaves. We had ball games and jack rocks. We never had roller skating. We’d skate on the ice with our shoes, or we’d get an old paceboard, and use it for sledding.
When the first snow would come, we’d always make snow cream. It was kind of like ice cream. You’d make it out of the snow, and put sugar and flavoring in it. You can’t do it now, you’d get too many chemicals in it. We had our own ice cream maker. We’d make homemade ice cream.
I don’t know much about athletics. We read a lot. We read anything that we could get our hands on. Mother didn’t allow us to read funny books. Mother didn’t think that we should read funny books, but we’d hide them and read them. There was a series of mystery books that had a lot of sequels, and my sister always got them. She’d borrow them from other people. We’d read them a lot. We were great readers, and I still do a lot of reading. I do a lot of quilting and puzzles too. My mother taught me how to sew. She sewed a lot. She would make curtains, sheets, pillowcases, skirts, and blouses out of chalk sacks. She’d never use patterns. She made her own. Mother would get colored feed sacks, and if she got two alike, we’d get a skirt out of it. One time she got three or four of them and made new kitchen curtains.
There were some well-to-do people in Bland County, but most of them were just average. They were poor and, yet they weren’t poor. There was some that really needed help.
My father stayed home. In the later years, when Virginia Hardwood moved into Burkes Garden, he went over there and cooked for them. He worked for the Blessings until he was about 70 years old or 75. Then he lived with my brother in Chester, and they had a restaurant, and he cooked for them. He then came and lived with me for about a year before he passed away. He was 90 years old when he passed away. He died with a broken hip; it set up gangrene. Mother was the backbone of our family. She sold Macness products for years. Macness products were something like Raleigh. They sold flavoring, tonics for livestock, pie filling, like a Blair product.
We got a Sears & Roebuck catalog every year. We kept in mainly in the outhouse. That was the main thing. You’d go out there and relax a while. Mother ordered a lot out of it. I did after I had kids. I ordered a lot of their clothes from Sears, in fact, I still trade at Sears. We also got the Montgomery Ward one. I think that I still have the last one that Sears ever sent.
It was hard to cook and clean for all those people in the boardinghouse. We had lots of help though. We had a lot of my father’s nieces and nephews. About half of the people in the boardinghouse were regulars. You had to pay $.25 a week for room and board. You got to meet a lot of interesting people. We weren’t the only boardinghouse in Bland County. There were two here and one up at Suitor. Then there was one up at Crab Orchard. There was a lot of people that worked for Virginia Hardwood. You had to have people in the mountain. people that worked down here, people in the company store, people in the doctor’s office, and people in the script office. You could sort of say that Virginia Hardwood kind of had a monopoly on Bland County. People from everywhere came here to work, and then the CC’s came in here in the thirties. That made everything grow a little more. I remember the first time that I had to go to the doctor. I had a boil on my elbow. I was about ten years old. I can remember the doctor that set my knee when I was about six years old. I busted it up Suitor, and he came and fixed it.
People got married early when I was young. A lot of them did. I married when I was twenty. I had two sisters that were up in their twenties when they got married, and my brother was up in his twenties when he got married. Three of my sisters were about seventeen when they got married. People didn’t date much before they finally got married. I went with my husband for about fifteen months before we got married. There wasn’t much divorce back then.
My mother was very strict when it come to dating. We had to be at the house at ten o’clock. You had to go to church every time the church doors opened, boyfriend or no boyfriend, you went to church. Mother was very religious. She believed in morning worship, before we went to school. She believed in night worship, before we went to bed. She was strict all the way around. It helped the family out a lot. I have one brother that retired from teaching. I have one sister that retired from nursing. I have a sister that retired as a beautician. Josephine is the only one that never did work on with a public job. She worked for about a year and then quit. She’s the laziest one in the family. My first public job was in the sewing factory. I sewed buttons on dresses in Bluefield, making button holes. Then I went to work at a hosiery mill, before I was married. I worked in Bluefield my junior and senior year, and then I went to work at the hosiery mill. Some of the students had jobs back then. Some of them went to business school, and then some of them went into nursing. Some of them went to be factory workers.
I didn’t go to college. It was rough trying to go to college back then. There were some colleges that were close. They had a business school in Bluefield, Bluefield College, and Bluefield State, but it was mostly black. There wasn’t that many people that lived around here. We had one family that lived in Bland. There wasn’t no black people in Bastian, and then there were a bunch of Dry Fork. They were treated equally. That one in Bland, he was treated just like us. We didn’t have too much contact with the one’s up Dry Fork.
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