Luke Lambert 340
(narration by Brandon Murray)

My name is Luke Lambert, and I was born November the 29th 1914 right here in the valley. The old house is right down there a short distance right where those boxwoods are. My mother and father’s names were James Lambert and Cynthia Stowers Lambert, and they were born and raised right here where I live.

For a living, my mother was a housekeeper she never did work out nowhere for nobody or just goes help somebody. My dad worked at a little bit of everything saw mill, farm, run steam engines, work on watches, guns, clocks. They were hard workers tended to their own business they weren’t messin' into somebody else's business.

Elbert Stowers and Ludine Thompson Stowers were my grandparents. They was raised up little further up Ceres up in their near Shoe Valley and Liberty now. They farmed. Grandpa was a farmer - he had this farm over here. Granddaddy Stowers died in 1922. And then my grandmother didn't have but a year after that when she died. So I was just small and I don't have too many memories of them. My other grandparents on the Lambert side I never did see them don't have no memories of them at all.

Gray Tarter was my oldest brother. One Mary Hugh Milliron lived in Pulaski and uh Julie was the next one and he lived around here and farmed and worked at different places, sawmills one thing and another. I had two sisters one died at 5 month old the other at 7. Then I had another nanny she married Newton Tickle down here at Bland and they was all just housekeepers never worked out nowhere. And uh then I had a brother Elbert he lived out here on Laurel he was born here, and he worked for the state, well he worked around at different places but he winded up working for the highway department. Then I had one Peery he took his life at 50 and I'm the last one. And I'm done past 86.

For church, I went all around different places went years over here at Trinity, and I go now for the last several years to the Bland Community Church ever since its been built I've went out there when I was able to go. Normally I would teach Sunday school.

Trying to get the gospel explained to people the way I thought it was and not the way somebody else figured it to be this or that or something else – That was the last meaningful experience for me in church.

Some of the memories of being raised here that I have was that we had a hard time getting to school. I had to walk from here out to where the Bland Community Church is which is about two miles and a half the way we went through the ridge here and they never closed school for bad days or what not school was open every day rain, snow or what not. And a little feller had a hard time busting the snow going to school.

For fun, we'd at summertime or something like that we would gather up and swing on grapevine swings winter time we'd ride down the hill on a sled, board, or something of that kind. Play a little baseball maybe. Little croquets something of that kind. And they didn't have much off time then. Everybody had to work, and come with their share. You had your chores to do and you had them to do. You didn't get them done in daylight you did them after dark.

First time I’d ever been somewhere after dark was a long time ago. Had no light. But the moon was a shining it was a little on the light side and uh you could see to travel all right without using a flashlight or anything. And uh we had an old uh dog and they whipped him for following you when you walked somewhere and he wanted to follow well they'd whip him. And uh didn't matter when you left which way you went or which way you came in you'd always see him off up here at the top of the ridge somewhere. He wouldn't come to you because he's afraid you'd whip him. Unless you called him with a friendly voice. And I was a coming in that night and I heard a couple old rabbits I heard them bump their feet on the ground and I know'd what that was. It was in the fall of the year and the leaves were down. And I was coming up the top of the ridge up here and I there was a little curve around the road and I looked out ahead of me up around that curve and I thought I saw something black up there in the road. I thought it was that old dog and I called him and he never come. I knew it wasn't him. So I didn't know what it was and I thought what ever it was didn't know I was there and I hollered made some racket but that didn't help out any. I could see it going around up there. It looked like a hog or something hunting acorns or chestnuts there in the leaves. Well I didn't want to go back to the field way back behind me and come around off down over the hill and through the fields and come up. I got a little braver. If it didn't bother me I wouldn't bother it. And uh my dad had always said well now if you can't figure out what it is it generally isn't anything. So I made a circle down through the woods and came down the road on this side. It was behind me then. Well when I came back in to the road and looked down there. Well I wanted to know what that thing is. I ventured a little bit down the road. Keep picking up a little more nerve. Well I thought I was ready to jump on it when I get down there and kept venturing up a step at a time and directly I got close enough. Oh I felt like I could outrun anything there ever was. I thought I'd give it a kick and then run. When I kicked what do you reckon it was? A stump. Never had moved. I passed it going to school twice a day for no telling how many year never moved at all. I found out right there that when you got scared your eyes would lie to you cause I saw that thing a move.
I can tell plenty of stories if you’ve got time for them. Like the time there was a?when Sam Newberry owned this place over here, the bowling place, way back years ago. He had people cutting off uh the mountain boundary off up there cutting the briars, thistles, and brush and stuff and they was coming around the mountain up there way up next to the timber. Cutting that and there was a pretty good size rock. A great big rock there and right at the lower side of it came up they say'd the prettiest slick bark apple tree they had ever seen. It was the healthiest looking thing they ever saw and it was up nearly just as high as the rock. And uh whoever was a coming along there that was in their line of cutting said, "I'm not going to cut that apple tree I'm going to leave that." Said that might be worth something sometime. So he went on and left it and uh about the next fall or something like and after that they was over there a squirrel hunting. They come along and found about 4 or 5 apples on the tree. GREAT BIG apples and uh but some of them said I wonder how that apple got up here there aint an apple tree up here no where and the only ones are the ones over there across at that house. How did that thing get up here? Now some said that an old mountain boomer carried it. You know what a mountain boomer is a little red squirrel about half the size between a chipmunk and uh gray squirrel. Little red looking squirrel called a boomer. They stayed in the mountain all the time called them a mountain boomer. They said he carried it up there. So I don't know whether they got any apples that year, but they checked on it the next year and it had a few more and they was great big pretty apples and they got them and brought them in. Man that was just a number 1 apple there wasn't no others in the country like it and uh so uh in the spring of the year they went to getting grass off the tree and grafting them trees around their houses. And uh Kirby's over here they got some a grafted them. It's been several years ago that I was talking to Mollie and she said there were mountain boomer apples out there that’s been there for over a hundred years. Now that all they ever know'd to call them a mountain boomer from then on they never knew no name or nothing. So we just called them mountain boomer apple. And that’s all they know. They got grafts around my Granddaddy Stowers over there he grafted I don't know 3 or 4 and my dad grafted some over here. Their about gone anymore you don't see any. I tell you where Pauley there saw them. You know that one standing in Garden? That's a mountain boomer. That's a mountain boomer apple. There aint but a few of them around anymore. The younger people quit grafting and putting out more and the older trees would die. So that just about disappeared the mountain boomer apple is about gone - Just three or four trees over here at Kirby's place.

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For chores, I had to get in wood. I had to pin the ducks, fasten up the chickens and maybe gather up the eggs, carry in wood, you got big enough you had to milk, feed the hogs, feed the cow foddering, just.

Laying and sleeping were my favorite chores, which you never got to do. We had to get up early to get our work done and walk to school a long distance. And that was a one-room school. One teacher and had seven grades. The first year that I went I learned my ABC's and to count to "100". The next year I learned to right my ABC's and my figures and maybe spell little old words like "rat, cat, or bat” or something like that just a few little ones they had what they call a premier you started off in that it was you beginning book. You had a premier and then you had a your first reader, second reader, third reader, fourth, and went on up to the fifth reader, reading books, and after you got up about uh well third grade they had you into spelling and uh arithmetic something like that.

Well in school, I never did uh that one room school like that never did have nothing more than uh Virginia History and geography was about all they had and that was about up in the sixth and seventh grade. That was as far as school went. That was just a one-room school and that teacher had her hands full. Teaching all them classes. That’s why the little ones didn't get much time with them. I had several teachers. Uh Mrs. Waddle she taught down there a many a times. Norma Wagner, old Dr. Wagner's daughter she taught there, and uh Mary Lizintene taught there, Burnice Nicholson taught there.

I got several whippings during school. I know they had this ink bucket and a dipper. Shelf nailed across corner of the schoolhouse from the corner of the door. And uh they'd uh. Some of the people around would bring a wagon load of wood for an old wood stove and we'd unload it in the schoolhouse and pile it up in that corner and when anybody wanted a drink we went over there and got that dipper up out of there and we drunk half of it was all right if we didn't it was all right and back in the bucket went the dipper. Everybody drank out of the same dipper and the same bucket. If we ran out of water we'd send somebody over to the Kirby house over there to get another bucket of water.
One time I think out there they put on…I don't remember which teacher that was…might have been Mary Lizzy Danewood…anyhow they had on a Christmas program there. Well it was sort of just like any other program. Had them up there them young ones holding them letters singing "S" is for this and that and another.
There was several came in there from the community. Uh I think my dad and my oldest brother. Maybe somebody else I don't remember. They made music there for that Christmas program that one evening.

My home life was like that of any other person my age. We had a fireplace for heating, and for water we had a spring right across the hill from where we lived. We used a cook stove to fix our food. To clean our clothes, we used an old washboard. When I wanted to get my hair cut, my dad would use his clippers to cut it. We had an outhouse, of course. It was really cold during the winter.

In our garden, we growed a little bit of everything corn, beans and potatoes all kinds of vegetables cucumbers and beets, onions, relish and celery we use to raise a big row of celery every year.

For remedies to cure sicknesses, one of them if you had…they had a bunch of it they growed it out there in the garden and they called it tansy, green kind of ferny like plant, you complained your stomach or belly hurting you or something like that…they would go and get a bunch of them leaves beat em up put em in a glass an pour water over it…water turned bright green looking then you had that to drink. Now I can tell you where you can see a whole patch of that. There wasn't too much then but its got a hold now…back down here at my mailbox just look at all that big patch of green stuff over there in the bottom. Calimis. It's got roots on it in there. There's all kinds of roots in the ground in there. And they'd have a couple of them Calimis roots. They cut you off a chew of that and you had to chew that and eat it. And every so often they'd catch you up and give a dose of that ole (something) the nastiest stuff you ever tasted in all you life. Then they had the Yeagers Linemen. All kinds of … cold medicine.

Like I told we just swing on grapevines swing. We'd gather up…there was six boys lived out Laurel out here and three of us and we'd gather up maybe on a Sunday evening…One would get in front we'd go to an old log or something like that and one would get in front. See how far you could go without touching the ground…step from this limb to that limb to another limb, and another one right behind you had to keep following the fat one…the limb broke or something like that and you'd have to go behind and somebody else took the lead. We'd crawl around through those old logs for hours like that.

I'd go fishing once in a while. Generally the thing we had. My dad would just hire somebody to plow a piece of ground here and plant corn. Get somebody to plow it. Then we'd have to hoe that corn. He'd be gone to the sawmill or somewhere.

During the winter, we’d go sleigh riding a lot. I never had one that had a guide on it just get on and aim where you wanted to go and take off and if it hit something and turned it why you just went the way it went. If we was getting in too much danger we'd roll off into the snow and let it go.

We used to have bon fires and such when I was younger. Sometimes they'd have a big bunch riding down the hill they'd have a big fire like that where there's women and a whole bunch standing around…where they didn't enough for them to be riding…they'd ride down and come back up and they'd stand by the fire and another would ride.

I had a best friend during my old school years. In school I don't know whether you'd know him or not he lives down there below Bland his name is Davis Kirby. I know if you got a whipping the other one got one. He wouldn't be satisfied till he got whipped. If I got a whippin' why Davis would get into something till she'd whip him.

For courting, the general thing was we went to church. Church and back. We hardly ever went on dates. You had to go to Wytheville to see a movie or once in a while there would be a old carnival or something come down here at Bland they'd have a maybe an old movie down there that they would show in the tent.

Well there was a couple of places my dad didn't want us to go. Hardly ever once in a while we might edge in little bit…but if there had been anything a happen he'd really took pelt off of us.

I had a brother that was married down there and uh his wife and her was a number one buddies and uh they lived in Radford and they'd come up here they brought her along. She come up here. She came up in the fall of the year and we picked up chestnuts up here at the north of the ridge. And I got acquainted with her that way. We got married in Radford.

The ceremony was ordinary wasn't no fancy to it and that
was uh 16th April 1938. That was on the Saturday before Easter and that
was 63 years ago Monday. My brother-in-law and his wife, her sister were all there. For a honeymoon we went to East Radford.

We had four children, but we raised six. Their names were: L.S., what we called him, Luke Stevens was his name. He lives over here in Wytheville. He was the oldest. Gerald was next she lives in Williamsburg. Janice was next she lives in Dayton. Joyce was next and she live in Groseclose. Then the two grandchildren why Robert, Rob Lambert. He live at Bridge water that’s right close to Dayton, and Becky married Chuck Chambers got this place out here they live out there in Crab Orchard.

I think it was much easier to raise children back then because they didn't have near as much to get into then as they do now. What near as much going on didn't have much ways to go and then why you could correct one and wasn't nothing said about it. Now the way I got it down whenever it comes down to where the law has to tell you how to raise your children…you can't do this and you can't do that…there ain't no wonder the schools and that are in the shape they are in. Now that’s a going right contrary against the Bible it says to "train up a child in the way it should go" and it says that "the rod of correction will drive them far from it." It says "spare the rod and spoil the child." Now you just to hit one they got you up for child abuse. Now there is law and stuff like that can't raise your children they can't raise them and if it goes on like that things are going to get worse instead of better. They ain't no use to tell one to do something …"I'm not a going to do it, you want it done do it yourself I'm not doing it"…what can you do about it. Well not if that had been back when we was growing up one of said like that…"well I'm not going to do it do it yourself". They'd eat soup for two or three days because they would have mashed their mouth right then and there as quick as they could have slapped them right in the mouth. Now that was nothing unusual to see one with his lips busted. And when they told them to do something they done it.

There wasn't much of a community here. From out there where you turned at that church you know Ron Hutzel's? Well you know you turn this away up here on 620. That church out there. Well from there till you got down here to my dad's there was 5 houses was all there was up this valley. And one of them nobody lived in part of the time. Main thing there was just four regular families that lived up through here because they'd be one in that other one that would move in and move out. But the other ones was they was there. Gerin's were the first ones, Perky's was the next one, Uncle Peery Stowers was the next one, my dad my the next one. Down here at that house where Billy Baker lives that’s where they'd just move in and move out in and out.

There were no stores around here. Where they had the old country stores Mr. Robin had had that big store down there where Dell Davis lives. And then uh Mark Crabtree had a big one up the road here. Then Seldon Stowers built one over here later on years after them other ones went out of business and they got old and died.

We usually hung out at home… They was…later on up in years Ed Sadler up there he got a radio that was when Nashville was just a coming on big and it was one of them old battery radio's. We generally go out there of a night on Saturday night and listen to the radio until it went off at midnight. Then you'd have to take that old battery the next week and have it charged up and fixed up ready for the next Saturday night. We'd gather up there bunch of us would listen to the radio.

I can’t remember the first car I’d seen in Bland County. The first one that was ever in Bland down here was that old one that Dr. Wagner had that had wheels on it like a buggy. Chain gear like a bicycle. They did have it…it was in that old garage down there at Dunn's. They took it for a long time. They'd work on it and get it to run. They'd run it on the fair ground over there during the fair for the last several years why they couldn't get it to run and they'd some of them pushed it around there. It had wheels on it like a buggy. It had a rubber tire little old tire like a buggy. Had no steering wheel. Had a lever that you guided it with. An old disk feed that just had forward and backwards. It had a disk feed like a sawmill where one wheel would run against another one.

We had really rough weather growing up. Use to be there would be big snows that would fall and stay on the ground about all winter nearly…snow up to your knees. People would get a road broke. They'd get them a path broke to walk in. I know Ruth Whimmer had that in the paper here just a while back that was in 1960 that 42 was blocked from over here where you turn into 42 plum up Ceres no travel on it what so ever. Must have been…and there was a drift right over there at that curve they cut the biggest part of the curve out now. But there was a curve over there just before you got to where that Sam Eaton house was…right smart curve, and there was a drift there they had to get that old snow blower from out of Tennessee to come open up the road they had nowhere to put the snow they pushed it back until they couldn't push it and the roads had got blocked. That old blower had to blow it out in the field and they came up there to that well it would only take so much. Come to that drift and there it was they ran up against that drift and uh some of them got out there in the front with shovels and they cut down and that thing blowed it out in the field and they'd cut down as soon as they went through the drift and went on with the old snow blower.

For my first job, I helped people when I was just a boy I'd help people in the hay. Made maybe ten of fifteen cents. Maybe help them to thrashing machine. Haul sacks of something for them and then thrash a day longer and they'd maybe give you a dime. But I worked for years and years and years. Dollar a day on the farm and around or whatever.

For Christmas, we’d hang our socks up to the fire place on a nail have maybe and orange in it…apple, or maybe just an orange and a couple of sticks of candy. Never had a Christmas tree. The Christmas meal usually depended on the weather. We generally my mother did a lot of cooking on that fire place she had an old oven that she baked her cornbread in. Had an old big iron pot that she cooked her beans or cabbage or rudabakers or whatever she was a cooking she cooked them in that. Make that oven cornbread and along about four at suppertime why we'd go out and bring in a dozen or so potatoes. Put the potatoes in the fire place and cover them over with hot ashes. Till you see the steam blowing up out of them reckon they'd be done plum through and they'd bring in a crock of milk. And the butter dish of butter. We set right there before that big old fireplace eat cornbread and butter and cornbread and milk potatoes and butter or whatever was in the pot: beans, cabbage or whatnot. And that was just about as good a meal then than a feller would want.

Back during Halloween I’d go out and play some real mean tricks. There was a feller right out just above the road was a getting his winter's wood and he had a sawhorse, to lay stuff up in it you know and saw it, and he had his wood worked up and uh his sawhorse was still yet there. And me and another feller came along and there was an old walnut tree stood there right at where he was getting his wood. He handed me the sawhorse and I drug it through the limbs and hung it up there. And that was in the fall of the year when they was getting their wood up for winter. Next spring why they hired me to help him put out a crop to plow for corn. And that field that the walnut tree was at uh there was 15 acres in it and he was going to plow it. So we went out there and raked up all the old chips bark and stuff up there where he cut the wood. We took out plows up there and got started to plowing one evening he said "might as well get my sawhorse and take it to the house." He pulled around there under the walnut tree he said would you go up there and get it down. I never let on I went up the walnut tree and got the sawhorse brought it down and put it in the wagon we took it on to the house. So I took it up and took it down too.

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For the fourth of July, we generally always put out a right smart buckwheat and we'd have to have that sown by the last of June… if we didn't why one time they was having something down here at Bland on the fourth of July. I don't know my mother and dad went to it and uh me and Elmer stayed here and we plowed all day long on the ridge up there for buckwheat. Fourth of July we got the fields plowed that day with a yoke of oxen. First team we ever had was a yoke of oxen. And I mean they was real to…they wasn't nothing sorry about them.

To gossip and such, I reckon the women got together they'd have quilt parties and stuff like that during the winter sometimes but…course I guess they did some gossiping too.

First president I can remember is Warren G. Harding. The only thing that I remember about him was … my dad had been down there at Bland he came back in they had those badge then and he pinned one on me I was just a little feller. I was just a little feller he pinned one of them badges on me of course he told me what it said…"Warren G. Harding for President." And about the main one I remember in action like that was Calvin Coolidge.

For dances, we’d get together at somebody’s house and there’d be a few fiddles and mandolins playing, maybe a guitar or two.

I remember when women first got to vote – Didn’t make no difference to me. I liked Calvin Coolidge alright. Hoover had a whole lot against him and he was the last one for year to pay anything on the war debt. He paid on that and runned them down short.

The stock market crash was in 28, 29, 30? It was during President Hoovers time. He was President from 28-32. And he was the last President ever to run on a bone-dry ticket. He was the last one to ever run. Roosevelt came up and he was for bringing back our alcohol and beer and stuff like that, they called that a wet-ticket. Hoover ran on a dry-ticket.

During the Great Depression, I never had no trouble I worked like I said about a dollar day I worked the whole time. We had our stuff all raised and if you got five dollars you'd go to the store and buy all you could carry. Two pound of coffee for a quarter, sugar for four or five cents a pound, got about one hundred pound you'd get it for about three dollars for a hundred pound of sugar, course they didn't have no electricity about every time you'd go to the store you'd have to take your kerosene can along get you some kerosene for you lamps. But I made it fine as far as that is concerned. I never saw no difference. Course now somebody with a family might have saw some difference.

In a way Roosevelt’s new plan kind of ruined the United States. Cause some many people got to expecting something for nothing.

They went around they built outhouses for people. All you had to do was get the lumber and stuff and they'd dig a hole. And they went around salting these old barber bushes. And then they'd paid you so much and I was in the agricultural department…they paid you so much to put out lime. They had the places that ground lime for people. That was kind of like that uh Correction Center that moved down there at Bland you know they had that that big lime plant over there from Central Church.
Grand Ole Oprey. Well I liked that ole Amos and Andy them there was good programs. Amos and Andy first started out Two Black Crows and that didn't make a hit and then they went to Amos and Andy. Old Lightening he'd always whiz on out of there. He was a taxi cab driver.

Electricity helped out a whole lot in the lighting business. But I didn't have too many electrical appliances. I got a refrigerator and that came in handy about that. And then a little on I got a freezer, keep stuff in. That was all I had for a while then I finally got a microwave.

When I got my phone, I don't know what year it was. I don't remember the year. We got the telephone along pretty close to the time we got power. It worked fairly well. I never got one for several years after they came around.

For one thing TV changed things a lot… One big thing that I see is the language that they use now. When I was growing up if a feller used some of the words that they used right there he got his mouth mashed right then. You didn't have filthy talk around then.

I was in Radford when I heard about Pearl Harbor. Well now I was expecting it. We went down there on Saturday and I told my brother-in-law down there…he said something about…I said it wouldn't surprise me for Japan to jump on United States anytime it wouldn't surprise me a bit. Sunday evening he sent one of his girls to tell me to come over there to listen what was on the radio. Went over there and that was when they bombed Pearl Harbor. Two of my nephews fought in World War II. I felt that the Japanese deserved to be bombed like they were.

I had a nephew that served in the Korean War. He was in the White Horse Ridge. He never told me any stories.

Eisenhower did a pretty good job in my opinion. Times were good in the 50’s. They ain't been too bad of times for right smart while. About the one I figured that done the least was Jimmy Carter. Cause Billy got more praise and lift up then the President did. Billy and his beer. He ran through with his peanut factory.

I think our country is in bad shape. There was that mix up with China. And there is that fishing vessel of Japans their fussed up about that. I just had a long life. It's been rough for the last three or four years. But I've had a goodin' on up till then.

I’d give you people some advice. That would be not to be like them to be like the example that's been set before them in the last little while that they can do what they want to and get by with it. If you got money and the right kind of lawyer why you can do anything you want to and get by with it. That's been Clinton’s plan ever since he started off as governor way down there. He's been into everything and got out of all of it.

He even let those people get out of jail and then he went and pardoned all them there. So that there is a bad example to set before people that you can do anything you want to…you can lie on oath and everything like that and get by with it. Not just saying anything about politics just. So that right there set the
worst example for young people of anybody that been in the White House. And then I reckon when he left there he took about everything there was.

Said he took a … said he took a painting that Woodrow Wilson had put in there. He took Thomas Jefferson's mustache mug.

That’s all I have to say.

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