#543 Kenny and Mona May Narrative
These narratives are compiled from an interview with Kenny and Mona May done by Amanda Sargent on March 5, 2008
Part One: Kenny May
“I was born on December 8, 1939 in Mossy Bottom, in Pike County, Kentucky. My mother was Daisy Leslie May and my father is Noah May. They both were from Pikeville Kentucky. My mother was born in 1920, and my father was born in 1914, both in Pikeville. My dad started out in Kentucky as a coal miner, and came in later years, in 1940, to Radford Arsenal, where they got a job there, and later bought the farm here in Bland County in 1941 is when I’d say it was. They were always good, of course, mom and dad, and dad worked at the Radford Arsenal until 1957, and that was the year I graduated. And so we always had cows to milk and things that we...daddy worked swing shifts most of that time, which means he worked all three shifts. He worked daylight 3:00-11:00 and 12:00-8:00. Everybody worked all three shifts. And we always had a good relationship with my mom and dad. I don’t know of any real bad problems we ever had. We all worked on the farm, and everybody had to do their part.
“Some of my earliest memories were, well, I remember milking old cows when I wasn’t big enough to hardly get down to the barn, but we all milked some cows. I can remember one time we had an old cow, we called her Old Blue, Daddy had bought her up on East River Mountain. And I was sitting there milking Old Blue, and she kicked me and knocked me plumb up in the manger. And Mom and Dad had to come get me out of the manger so I could finish milking my old cow, but why she kicked, nobody knows. And later years, well later years, not too late, I remember when they brought the electric through. We was going to school, and I was probably in the first or second grade because we didn’t go to kindergarten. And we’d get off the bus in the evening, and we’d come home and set our books down, and we’d go to wherever they’d dug holes that day to get dynamite wire, and it was all different colors. And we’d take that and make bracelets out of it and other things, but that’s some of the things I can remember back early.
“My grandparents on my momma’s side were Roland Lee Leslie and Florence Ratliff Leslie. And on my daddy’s side it was George Washington May and Nora, I better not even say the middle name, Nora Meade May. And they were all from Pikeville, Kentucky, also. : Well, my grandparents on my momma’s side, they moved to Virginia with us when we came to Virginia, so they did farming. My grandfather also worked at the Radford Arsenal some. And my other grandparents lived in Pikeville, and they did some mining, and then they later moved to Ohio with one of my dad’s brothers. But my grandmother, I don’t ever remember her seeing. She lost her eyesight when I was fairly young, and she smoked an old stone pipe. Not many people ever seen many of that, but they just hulled out a piece of rock and made a hole in it, and they used the reed for a stem in it. And she smoked the old pipe, and we used to have to cut her some little slithers of pine so she could light her pipe. She’d stick them in the fireplace and light them and then light her pipe with that. And she smoked tobacco that they raised. As for other family, I only had one sister. She’s Annette Burton, married to Jeff Burton, and they live here in Bland also.
“As for weddings and funerals, Don’t remember too many weddings cause there wasn’t many of us. But I remember funerals for all of my grandparents, course I only remember my wedding cause that’s the only one I was at. But they always, if there was a death in the family, they always took us to the funeral and so forth. Back, way back, they used to bring the bodies back to the homes, and I never did, but I’ve heard Dad talk about he would, they would bring the body to the house and somebody set up with it all night until, you know, until the next day, until people got up. They would set up with it while the family slept. And weddings...I don’t remember many weddings I say except mine and my kids’ because that’s about the only ones we ever went to. I don’t even know where my sister got married or when, but I don’t recall being at that wedding.
“As for neighbors, well, we had Buttony Morehead’s family was neighbors. And Tony Wright and Viola, they were neighbors, and they lived fairly close. We saw quite a bit of those two families because my sister was good friends with Opal Morehead, and we always went to visit on the weekends. We would go to, you know, their house or around and about, and we always walked wherever we went because we didn’t have but one vehicle. And Daddy took it to work most of the time, either most of the way or part of the way, so...and the neighbors that we had, they were all farmers, raised their families, and then we had Alvin Taylor who lived across the creek. We used to go over there, and we’d always help all the neighbors make hay and back then, we pitched the hay and stacked it around a pole, and my job most of the time then was to haul it in with the horses. They’d shock out in the fields, and we had a pole that went under the shock then they throwed a rope over the top, and they tied it in the back, and you’d pull that shock up there with the horse. I rode the horse and pulled them up. Then when you get to the stack, they’d pull that string, and it’d loosen that rope, and you’d just go on out with it. But that’s most of the neighbors that we were around at that time.
“For fun, I don’t know how small or whatever...my dad used to cut hair for all the boys in the neighborhood and around, and they’d gather in on Sunday, and he would cut hair, and the rest of us would play ball, softball or baseball, whatever they want to call it, there in the front yard until they got their turn to go cut their hair, then they’d, we’d shift in and out. But that, and slipping off and playing in the creek. Got a few whippings for that, but I guess we did that anyway. But there wasn’t, you know, there was no organized things to do. You just got out and done them. But we just played in the dirt and the mud and whatever. We thought we was having fun. As for chores, well, as I said, we milked cows, fed the chickens, we always had hogs, chickens, and all that stuff had to be fed everyday, and see Daddy worked, so it was all up to Momma to make sure we got our chores and things done. But I don’t know at what age we started doing that, but I was pretty small when the old cow kicked me over in the trough, the manger. But we had to get the cows in every evening. But we had some help. We had an old dog we called Tip. And you’d have to do was turn him lose and call his name and they’d come back to the barn in a hurry cause when he brought them in, they might not have no tail left, cause he’d ride them all the way into the barn. But that’s mostly what I remember doing as far as chores is concerned, just working out around the animals and things. I don’t know that I ever thought about it being a least favorite. Probably cleaning out the barn would have been the least, but I never thought about it being my least favorite. It was just something that when Mom and Dad said you do it, you done it. You didn’t argue, and you didn’t fuss, because if you did, they’d find you something else to do. But I guess that would probably be the least favorite, if I had to name one. As for a favorite can’t say that I had one. We just...I don’t know. We just all existed.
“For home remedies for like when we got sick, they used to dose us with caster oil. My mom and dad, course, Mom worked a little while over at the Radford Arsenal, so we stayed with my grandparents down here on my momma’s side. And when her and daddy’d go to work, I guess we’d get a little rowdy and that was our punishment. They’d give us a dose of caster oil. That would slow us down for a little while. But we had a lot of remedies that they used. Used to have what they call Raleigh’s Lemon. They had a white one and a red one. You rubbed the white one and drank the red one. And that was a cure-all, and that’s mostly what we had as far as home remedy. My granddaddy, and I wished somebody had found out all the remedies that he knew cause he lived in the mountains and things. He knew all the herbs and stuff, and he had a cure for most anything. And I remember one time we went down in Kentucky, and my sister had what we called metals, she had big whelps on her arms and hands, and they were just sprang up for no apparent reason. So when we got down there, I think it was winter time, he looked at her and said, “Well I know what’ll cure that!” So he got up early the next morning and left, and he got back, I guess it was close to dinner time when he come back in, and he had a little old handful of roots. And Momma and them washed them roots up. Put them on to boil and made a tea out of them, the best I remember it was sort of brownish-looking tea when they got through with it. And then they give her that to drink, and as far as I know to this day, she’s never had any more metals. And what he got was metal weed root. And he would gather stuff all in the fall and to make teas for different things for colds, whatever. But nobody ever kept up with what he knew, so he took it with him. But he made teas for everything.
"We were raised up in a four-room house. And course the walls were papered, as I said we didn’t have electric until I got into sometime in grade school, so we had oil lamps, battery-powered radios, radio, we didn’t have but one. But we didn’t listen to it too much because we had to save the battery. But that’s...the floor was made out of big, wide boards. And course, when you got big, wide boards, some of them cupped a little and made a little trench in them. I probably shouldn’t tell you this, but we brought home from down in Kentucky what we called a guinea hog. It wasn’t a guinea pig, I mean she was a pretty good sized hog. And my grandmother had an old churn on the stove heating the milk so she could churn her butter, and when she went to pick it up by the handles, the bottom came out of that old churn, and there was milk all over the floor and everywhere. All them big old cup boards, they was holding the milk, and they turned old guinea hog in and let her clean the milk up before they mopped it. But we had I guess as good a house as anybody did around in there, and it was an old house. And then when my dad’s brother come up here to live, they took two of the rooms and pulled them about, oh, probably three quarters of a mile down the creek and across the creek and over on to one of the backroads. And those two rooms stood for several years until my uncle had a fire in his house, and part of it was destroyed. Course some of it is still there, but it’s got all new roof and stuff on it. See, there was no central heating back then. All we had was an old stove, we burned coal and wood in it to heat with. And then we later built a new house, too. In 1951 Mom and Dad built a cinderblock house up on the main road. And it was several years before we had heat in it all the way across. We, I guess the first times we stayed in there, we slept in what we had the dining room there now. But what we’d do, when we slept in the back rooms after a few years, we got straightened out, where we was utilizing all the rooms, but there was still no heat back there. But we would get your blanket up by the fire, get it good and hot, and roll up in it, then head for the bed. We didn’t have running water, Not until we built the new house. When we built the new house they drilled a well, and we had running water. We had a pump outside the old house, as I said we didn’t have electricity until I was in grade school. So we didn’t, there never was any running water put in the old house that would have been...well...I guess when I was in grade school, that’d been forty...five, ’46, ’47, somewhere in that neighborhood when we actually got electricity. So it wasn’t long after that until they built the new house and then we had running water and even a bathroom. We had indoor plumbing. That was really something. Of course, when we built both houses, we had an outside john to both of them cause we didn’t...I guess it was probably several years after they built the house before they put a bathroom in.
"Well, Mom and Dad always had a garden. They always raised peas and corn and beans, onions, well, we raised everything that we ate because what we bought at the store was things that we couldn’t raise like sugar and coffee...we used to get a case of pop over at Bernard’s store. You could buy twenty-four bottles for 96 cents. But we didn’t have the 96 cents all the time, so it didn’t matter. But we thought we were poor, but after we got out and got to thinking about it, I guess everybody was, cause nobody had anything other than what they raised to eat, and you could take a little bag of eggs and go to the store and come back with all the coffee and sugar and stuff you needed. As for favorite foods, I don’t know. Probably the thing I remember most was peanut butter, but it wasn’t like it is today. It wasn’t as creamy and nice as it is today, but that’s something I remember, you know, that was a specialty if you got some peanut butter. But we had beans and corn and taters, that was for lunch. Then for supper, we’d have taters, corn, and beans. Cornbread biscuit, you know, I think it was all good cause we didn’t know there was anything to like or dislike. You just had to eat it.
"I started school at Mechanicsburg, went through seventh grade. And then went to Bland and finished high school through the eleventh grade then. They started twelfth grade sometime along about that time, but I only went eleven years, so...they burned all the schools I went to in the county. Mechanicsburg got burnt and then Bland got burnt. So none of the schools I went to are here anymore. Course, you know, back then when we played, we had to go outside to play, even in the wintertime or whatever. And we used to play crack the whip, that’s where a whole line of kids would hold hands, and you’d run down the hill, and all at once somebody would stop on one of the ends, and then the other kept running, and when you got to the end it snapped him and kept rolling down the hill or whatever. And we played soccer and all outside sports. Shot marbles, used to go to school with three or four marbles in my pocket, come home with a pocket full, cause we played for keeps. All the rooms in Mechanicsburg didn’t have a stove in them. I think they just had two or three rooms that had stoves in them, but that’s all we had was down there just the stoves, and they’d bring in a load of coal, and of course, the kids helped carry the coal in cause that was a way to get out of class. And then when I came to Bland, they had radiator heat, hot water, steam or whatever. And that was also fired by coal. Unless somebody brought some skunk oil and put it on the radiator, then they aired it out in the winter time. But the windows, that was all we had for cooling. I don’t even know that there was any fans anywhere. I don’t recall ever seeing any.
“We had two good cooks down at Mechanicsburg, the Powers sisters, they had good food. And I learned to eat a lot of things while I was going to school because I guess, by us not having a lot at home we always cleaned our plate up when we got there, but we had to get the food. I enjoyed the food. And we used to get commodities from the government every so often, and we’d get raisins and I think sometimes we got peanuts, but that was something we didn’t have at home. Our lunches was fifteen cents a day. Seventy-five cents a week when we went to Mechanicsburg. I think when I graduated it wasn’t but a quarter at Bland. There were the three main subjects we had then was just reading and writing and we used to always, and they probably still do, they used to always have a sign around the school on top of the thing, and it had a big “A” and a little “A” and a big “B” and a little “B” all the way around to the end of the alphabet. We walked from down here up to the road, and my dad had us a little house built up there that we could get into if it was cold. And we caught the bus and rode the bus to Mechanicsburg and back.
“Teachers, well, let’s see...first one I had was Mrs. Franklin. That was my first grade. She kept me in after school, I don’t know what I done, but something...and I had to about walk home. I had Miss Louise Burton, and she still lives in Bland, and as far as I’m concerned---well, there’s another one. Then I had a Misses Degata, I don’t remember what her first name was, but she was a Brown and she lives in Bland. And then we had Mr. John Harrybird whose name was not John Harry, it was Harry Saunders. But everybody called him John Harry for some reason. And then I had a Bill Catron from up Ceres way. He was a crippled guy. That was all the teachers I had at Mechanicsburg, I think. And then when we came to Bland, we had...well let’s see...we had Miss Helen Hardy...you’re going to have to help me, Maw...Miss Mary Greaver...Dow Davis. Miss Virginia Brown and Miss Annie K. Dunn. Claude Stowers. I would say Miss Helen Hardy was my favorite teacher because I had math under her. I enjoyed math and got along pretty well with it. I guess one teacher we failed to mention that we had was Margie Blankenship.
“I guess I eight whippings one day at school. Mr. John Harry Bird give me them. But I didn’t deserve the first, but I guess I deserved some of the latter ones, but that when I was going to grade school. But he was something else, too. I drove his car and went to Bland and picked up commodities one day. I was only in the seventh grade. Holidays…what we called holidays, other than Valentines days, Christmas, got a pigtail off the Christmas tree of the school one time. But other than Christmas and Valentine’s, I don’t remember much about any other holidays.
"Here's a good prank for ya: When we was going to Mechanicsburg me and a friend of mine, we was sent out to get a Christmas tree. Well he lived over the hill from the school house, but I mean it’s way over the hill. And so we left early that morning going to get a Christmas tree. We went over to his house, and we had lunch with his mother and daddy. We may have went fishing or something before we headed back over the hill. We went back over the hill with the Christmas tree, and we just had a little old scrawny looking thing, it wasn’t very pretty at all, I don’t think. And anyway, the teacher wasn’t too happy with it cause we was gone all day he was going to whip us. He sent us out to get a switch. So we went out and got a switch, we was bringing them in. We took our pocket knife--everybody carried a pocket knife but nobody wanted to pull it on anybody, but we took our knifes and run the switch all the way out to the end so first time he hit us it just fell all too pieces. That wasn’t a good thing cause he found something else then.
“There were some good storytellers in my family. I’ll always think of my Uncle Paul… He could tell stories, and you know when he told them that they wasn’t true. But he would tell them anyway. There was always something going on. My momma’s youngest brother and my daddy’s youngest brother, needless to say they all lived close together there in Kentucky, and they was always getting into something. And I can’t remember exactly how the story goes, but anyway the two of them had went somewhere and got somebody’s horse. And to my knowledge, they were riding down the hollow nude. And I think it was in the winter time, but I’m not sure. That was one of the stories that was told, now whether that was true or not, I don’t know. But knowing both of them, it could have happened.
"We had no way to go anywhere when we was growing up, really. As I say, I don’t remember any activities much that went on outside of school because most people didn’t have any way to get back to them anyway, you know, to those things. If you didn’t live in Bland you couldn’t go because there just wasn’t no way to go, unless you walked, and eleven miles was too far.
"Later years, though, after got to where I could drive legally, we’d go over to the drive-in theater at Wytheville. Cost a whole dollar to get in a car load, it didn’t make any difference how many was in there. We put them in the trunk and everywhere to get them inside, but that’s all it was was a dollar a carload. And then after we’d get into the theater we’d park on the back row and back the car up and we helped take the seat out, put it in front there, and sat on the seats or blankets and lay on the ground or whatever. But when we played ball, even if we went into West Virginia, the girls all went with us, too, even though they didn’t play. But the whole basketball, boys and girls, it didn’t make any difference where we went, if the boys were playing or the girls was playing and the boys. Well you could buy what they called “Three Two Beer” in Bland for alcohol, but that was the only place you could get that. I’m not sure what “Three Two Beer” was, but...
"We were married in Mechanicsburg at the preacher’s house. We were just nineteen. I was working at the bank, and I worked until 12 o’clock, and I got off from work at twelve, I had bought a new car that was top of the line Chevrolet. I bought it back in February. But I couldn’t afford the insurance on it until I got married because that was the discount line. So, I’d done made two payments on my car before I ever drove it out of the showroom. They left it in the showroom up there. And I drove it out of the showroom that morning, took it down to the bank, and matter of fact, it snowed that day. For our honeymoon, we went all the way to Salem. Never got to Roanoke; didn't know how. I don’t guess either one of us had ever read a road map. And we got down to a certain place, well, we went through the underpass there in Roanoke and when we went through that we realized we didn’t know where we was going. So we turned around and come back and there was a motel there where Wal Mart is now in Salem. And that’s where we spent our honeymoon night, and we later moved back almost in sight of it when we went to Salem.
“I used to work at the bank in Bland when we got married. Social services building is there now. It was a two-story building. The bank was on the bottom floor, and the Doc Avity’s was on the top floor. That’s where I was working. And I was making 185 dollars a month. The car payment, well, I don't know. I paid 3,000 dollars for the car, as I say it was top-of-the-line Chevrolet at that time. And I don’t remember what my car payments was. We paid it off in a little while because we was living with Mona’s mom and dad, so we just bought in a few groceries, then of course we wound up building two rooms on the house up there when we got married. And a bathroom. But you know, there wasn’t anything to spend our money on. Gas was fifteen cents a gallon. The Chevrolet, it was black with red interior, two door, 1959 with the fins.
"We played basketball at Montcalm, Matoaka, Burkes Garden...they call it Auburn now, but we called it Rhiner, Shawsville, Ceres, and Rocky Gap...when we played in the tournaments we played Check. We never played them during the regular season. But we played some West Virginia games then. But there wasn’t too many. Not many people went to the high school. Well there was thirty-nine of us that graduated. So we don’t know. Somewhere in there. But we had, you know, we always had a rival in the county. It was either Rocky Gap or Ceres. We could never get along with both of them at the same time. I don’t know the number. Not many.
"When we played, we didn’t have but one ref. Sometimes two, but most of the time, just one. There was six players on a team. If you went to the floor with the ball, it was called for walking. The forwards, they shot the ball. But the ones that played guard couldn’t shoot the ball. They couldn’t cross the line and go down. I played center and forward. Boys basketball is still the same, pretty much. Too many jumpballs today, but we didn’t have that many back then. Yeah, I mean, if you had a jumpball, you better hang on to it, because somebody’d take it away from you.
“I worked at a farm, worked at the water plant, 3300, and I guess that’s all. I always tried to avoid any housework I could. How do I feel about my job? Well, it’s probably time to retire, but I enjoy working. I couldn’t just sit down and not do anything, I don’t think, because I done worked too many years. The community when I was growing up was just about three or four houses, and life just really revolved around family. There weren't any businesses around, not close. We had Bird’s Store, which was about two miles by the road and then we had Hollybrook, which was about a mile the other direction. And there was a couple three stores at Hollybrook. And Burnette’s was at Crandon, and there was a service station, post office, and a grocery store there. And over at Hollybrook we had a couple, two service stations, I guess, and three grocery stores and a movie theater. Bad snow storms or floods, well, we’ve had a lot of bad both of them. I can remember, can’t tell you the time or when it was, I saw the snow so high that there wasn’t about six inches of the fence post sticking out of the ground that you could see, and the snow was so hard on top that you could actually walk on top of it. Course, I was a kid then, and I wasn’t as heavy as I am now, but...so, and I’ve seen the water all over all of these fields. We lived in the house down at the foot of the hill, where we are now. And we jumped off the porch of that house into the creek. Went swimming in the summer time when the waters would get up.
"Our family celebrated Christmas well, with some oranges and some candy and probably one gift. And old Santa always came. I never celebrated Halloween that much that I can recall. But I remember there wasn’t no traffic. Other than a family get together, I don't think we did anything out of the ordinary for other holidays.
"The first president I can remember was Franklin D. Roosevelt. My favorite movie star was probably John Wayne for me. I liked a lot of his shows. The movies in Wytheville probably cost a quarter. I think when Farlow run his theater over here at Hollybrook, I think it cost us a quarter to get in. But I don’t remember what I seen. I don’t think that was the first one I was ever at. I think it was somewhere else, but that’s the only one I remember going to here.
"The 1950s? That was the good days. I don’t know that we all looked very forward to getting out of school for the summer because a lot of times we didn’t see nobody until school started back again if we did. I was young when they had a battery-operated radio. The Shadow Nose! That was probably the scariest thing on the radio… Had the Grand Ole Opery. They listened to that every Saturday night was the Grand Ole Opery. But it was all battery-operated, to say that we didn’t...I guess there was radio stations on all the time, but we wasn’t hardly ever listening to it. Mom may have listened to it some during the day, but that battery was about yea big, and you had to go to Bluefield to get another. Well, Momma got a new, I remember when electricity came through we had lights and Momma got a new cook stove. We had a refrigerator where we could keep stuff cold. I was trying to think...I guess all of the old refrigerators in them we had had a ice compartment in them to make ice. But until the refrigerators came out, you know, there was no ice or anything to cool your drinks or whatever in. We’d take and put them in the creek, put them in the snow bank.
"We first got a telephone probably nineteen and...you didn’t get one that early… Probably ’61 or ’62 we got a phone here at Momma’s and Daddy’s. And when I went to work for the state, we put a phone in Momma’s house so I could call her, cause I traveled on the road. I think that was the first one you all had. That’d been ’63...somewhere in that vicinity. Everybody in the neighborhood was on the same line. I don’t know whether...I believe that Mom and Daddy’s phone was a two-party line. But I don’t remember who they was on with at this point. But you all had lots of people on up there didn’t we? But you know you hardly ever called and got a busy signal cause people didn’t tie them up. Today if you had six people on a line, you wouldn’t never get a phone call.
We first got television in 1951. Daddy was working at the Radford Arsenal, and they had a roundhouse restaurant over at Radford. And we drove over there one night to eat hotdogs and watch TV. And that was the first one that I’d ever seen. They had a big blue screen in front of it to try to kill the snow off of it. It was terrible. And then Daddy bought one not long after that and put it in the house down here and put up an outside antenna and it was a lot better reception than what they had at Radford. And the stations came out of Roanoke. There was no Bluefield at that time. You had I think one out of Roanoke, and it didn’t come on until six o’clock in the evening, and it’d go off at eleven. Just had five hours of TV. We sit and watched a test pattern for thirty minutes waiting for something to come on. Some of the first shows we watched were wrestling and Let’s see...they had some country shows back then, but actually I think we watched a lot of wrestling (laughs). Cause I can’t remember a whole lot. And there was Howdy Duty, and he came on at what, five o’clock? I can’t remember the other shows that we have seen.
"The shape of the country today, in my opinion…Well, I would hate to go back and try to raise my family with the shape the country’s in today because there’s no morals that go there, nobody tells the truth, it’s terrible. And I think it’s going to get worse. I don’t see any signs of anybody that’s running for public office that is going to change anything to make it any better, and I don’t know how they could change it if they wanted to. It’s just not good. As I say, when we grew up, I can say that that was the good days. Because we didn’t have to worry about our kids. We lived in Salem in 1964-65 when we went down there, and we’d open our doors in the morning, and our kids could leave, and we didn’t have to worry about if something was going to happen to them or anything like that. And they might get back by dark, but we didn’t worry about them because, you know, nothing was going on. So it’s, I hope somebody will make a change and everything will get a little better, but I don’t look for it anyway soon.
Part Two: Mona May
“I was born in Bland, up on the farm in the log cabin, November 12, 1939. My mother was Anna Laura Newberry Scott, and John Kenneth Scott was my dad. My mom and dad were both born in Bland, up there on the farm where we was always raised and lived. He was born June...I forgot...June 14, 1910. She was born May 8, 1914. My dad was always a farmer. He started out farming when his dad died, and he was only thirteen. And mom was a farmer’s wife, so that’s all they ever did. I remember being, or living, in the old cabin, and it was dark. I remember the lamp light, and my dad had made me a little safe for my dishes out of an old suitcase, and he had put legs on it. And I can remember how happy I was with that. And I don’t remember too much back then. I remember when we moved down from the old cabin we moved in a wagon. I can remember that. We didn’t move very far, just down through the field. And I don’t remember a lot, but I can remember the electricity coming through, too, cause I also went to hunt the little wires that they left. They were colorful.
"My grandmother Scott was Cynthia Scott, of course I don’t remember my granddaddy. His name was John Scott. And my mother’s parents were W. and Cynthia Newberry. My granddaddy was in the office in Bland for years. He was a commissioner, commissioner of revenue. I know of one time in school they called me Scotty, for a nickname, but not very often. But everyone called me by Mona June, both names. So I kindly dropped the June recently.
"I don't have any brothers and sisters. Well, my grandmother Newberry had ten children, so you can imagine what she had to do, but he was commissioner of revenue. And then of course I said my granddaddy Scott died when my daddy was thirteen, so grandma Scott had to work hard on the farm to raise her children after he died. But that’s all they ever did was farm. I had an uncle that probably helped him out a little bit because he had a sawmill, but other than, that’s about what they did.
"I was at a wedding. I wasn’t very old. It was Ward and Becky Newberry’s wedding, and they had it at Newberry’s Chapel. And, of course, I don’t remember what year that was, but it was a big wedding. And I don’t remember any more either except mine. My neighbors was my grandparents. One lived across the creek, and one over the hill. And then, of course, we had the Tates that lived down the road and the Davises lived up the other side. We’ve had good neighbors. We’d see them at church every Sunday. Of course we had to walk, too, cause we didn’t have a vehicle. So we walked a lot, which was good for us, I’m sure.
"We went to church at Green Hill Church. All my life they had an old one, it was an old school house across the road from the new church. And we went to church there until we got the new one. But now mom and them went to the school, Green Hill School, across the road there. Of course, when Mom went to Bland she didn’t like it, and she soon dropped out, I think.
"For fun when we were small I can remember making mud pies. My cousin and I, we’d make them, then we would eat them. We’d try them out. It was a lot of fun. Then we would play paper dolls. We would cut them out of a Sears catalog, and we would have them in the floor in the dining room at my grandmother’s, and we’d play all day long. We’d cut them out, and then we’d play. We had a lot of fun doing that, spent a lot of hours. Then we would go sleigh riding, we’d go swimming, we had a lot of fun. Eleanor Apple was our neighbor, and I’d meet up with her and we’d ride down the hill on the sleds. She could almost ride all the way down through there from her house. And then sometimes on Sunday we would play touch football with the boys there behind the church down in the field. They’d all gather up, and we’d play football. That was a lot of fun, too. Oh, we had a lot of fun.
"For chores I used to carry in wood. I’d stack wood. I enjoyed doing that. That was one of things I did to pass the time. I’d go stack the wood when we’d get a new load of slabs. And in the summertime I’d go on the hill and cut thistles to pass the time. So it was anything to pass the time. And then in the summertime I had to help milk while Dad and the rest of the guys put up hay. My job was to help milk in the evenings. And I’d have to go on top of the hill to get the cows because my dog wouldn’t go unless I went with her. And that wasn’t always a happy time. (laughs) My least favorite was housework. I still don’t like housework. I’d much rather be outside. But I had to wash the milk tank in the afternoons, and I didn’t like that too good, but I knew I had to do it.
"Home remedies… I remember when I would get the croup, they would mix Vick’s nave and snuff, make a paste out of it, put it on a rag, and put it on the chest to break up that cold. But grandma would put snuff on us when we got bee stung. (laughs) Silly things like that. I also remember getting a dose of caster oil. Mom and well...my aunt Rene’s grandmother sat on me, held my nose, and nearly pinched it off until I drank that darn stuff. (laughs) It’s terrible stuff. And I remember one time Mom and Dad held me down on the front porch and picked a briar out of my foot. That was painful, but they did it. So I can’t remember a lot more. Probably come to me later, but not right now. Because Momma was always using remedies, different things.
"Well, I can’t remember much about the old cabin where I was born, but there was two rooms, and they had a kitchen built on the back of it. And then we moved down, we had a new house. It was new to us, and all I can remember it was so cold in the winter time and hot in the summer. We’d stand by the old stove to get warm and then run and jump in bed. But it was, we were really proud of it. We didn’t have running water. My mother had to carry it from the spring around the hill from my grandmother’s, and it was a chore carrying that water. But then when they washed, they moved the old washing machine down on the creek, and they’d use creek water to do the washing, which was really great, cause it had I guess a kerosene motor, gas motor, or something-- to that old washing machine, so that was a good thing that you didn’t have to carry water to wash. That’s what Mom did. She walked and carried eggs across High Ridge to the Robinette’s store over there, and that’s where she got her sugar and coffee and things like that.
"We always had a garden. I’ve always had a garden. I love it. But up here the deer try to take it away from you. We didn’t have deer. Dad went down east somewhere with my uncle one time to go deer hunting cause there wasn’t any around here. He would have loved it now. Oh, we had plenty of country ham and biscuits, potatoes and things like that. It was wonderful. Mom would make redeye gravy. We’d put that on our biscuit. It was good to put it on rice. But all of the food was good. Only thing I would get upset with Mom sometimes when she would make cornbread instead of biscuits. And now I know why, cause it’s easier! But I dearly loved the biscuits. Still do.
"I went to Bland always. I started there and finished there. They heated the school with coal. We had good lunches, too. I remember they had ketchup, that made them beans so good cause we didn’t have ketchup at home. And they had rolls, which we didn’t have, so we enjoyed lunch. I got a lunch bill ticket every week, so I enjoyed that. Well, we had reading books. Remember the Winky reading book? I knew it by heart. I could read without even having the bookAnd the bus always came right up in front of my house and turned, and while it was turning I was running to get on the bus.
"For teachers I had Miss Eenie Dunn. And I had Miss Ethel Billups for first grade, and I had Aunt Myrtle Stewart for second, she was my grandmother’s sister. I never could figure out what they called her, whether to call her Miss Stewart or Aunt Myrtle (laughs). And then I had Miss Georgie Mustard for the third grade and Miss Mary Greaver for the fourth. Miss Miner Muncy for the fifth, and Miss Leana May Bird for the sixth. And Miss Mary Groseclose for the seventh. But then Miss Greaver went in the high school after that, so she was a high school teacher. Victor Gilly, he was our coach. He said we might have to come pick up our diplomas at the office if we didn’t sing the right song.
"The sternest? Miss Leena Mae Bird. She was a good teacher cause I was so scared of her I had to do my work. Even my daddy had to help. One time he drew a map for me. I couldn’t...well, I thought I couldn’t do it, so he did it for me. Cause I knew I was going to get killed if I didn’t have it. That was the sixth grade.
"Any funny stories or prank, well, like the skunk oil on the radiators and blue oxford fume on the radiators. And then I know the boys one time was out sliding down the hill in the mud, and the teacher was ready to whip them all because they had mud all over them.
"Mom played the guitar, she played the french harp. And of course her brothers sang. Her and her sisters sang together. They even made a tape. If they’d have been in Nashville they could have made it big back when they were young, you know. But Mom played the guitar, and she played the french harp, and I’d have to hold the music, and I would get so tired (laughs). She would try to teach me to play. I wasn’t interested. Now I wish I had, but she loved it. I know an awful lot of songs from her teaching me while I was holding the french harp music. Daddy also had one of them. A juice harp that he could play. That’s all he ever could play. But now when Mom’s family would get together up at Grandma’s they would sing, and there was a couple of her sisters that didn’t sing, and they would leave. They would just go home (laughs).
"My parents forbid me ever to go to Hollybrook. I wasn’t allowed to come to Hollybrook. Supposed to been a rough place. And no, I didn’t go anyway. Then in later years now, they had dances at the Hoosier Mill.I don’t think I was ever there but once
"Back then teenagers court with letters in the summertime and we had a telephone. And we used to have parties. We used to have parties, and we’d all get together and we’d play games. Course you would meet your boyfriend there. We played kissing games (laughs). We had a lot of fun. But there was a group of us, there never was the one-on-one or two, you know. It was always a group. Then when we’d play basketball we’d sit together on the bus and hold hands. She asked about the courting. There was no drugs and no alcohol. I know it would have been a sad thing at home if I had found any beer. I was talking to somebody not long ago about they was saying there was a little beer, and I said, “Well I knew better than that! I wouldn’t be here today!” I was married before I ever tasted any, and that’s good. That’s a great thing.
We were married at Preacher Patton’s house. Palmer P. Patton was the preacher. We had to have our parents there to sign for us. And yes, it was snowing. Wind was blowing. It was so cold, and I opened the door and almost hit the new car. And I thought my daddy might whip me.
"For our honeymoon we went all the way to Salem. We couldn’t get through Salem. And we had hamburgers and french fries that night. Well that was the treat, really. We were nineteen when we got married.You know, we left our parents at the courthouse, didn’t even take them with us down to preacher Patton’s house (laughs).We didn’t even take them with us, and that was--They would have gone, I’m sure, if we’d asked. We have three children: Kevin Gene May, born in Bluefield. Cynthia Blandina, born in Bluefield, and Roland Keith was born in Roanoke, Louis Gale.
"In basketball, we played Burkes Garden, Auburn. Shawsville. Ceres. And Rocky Gap.Rocky Gap beat us once by one point, now that was a sad time. I think we all cried (laughs). Then when we played Ceres my cousins played on that team. We had Crotty and one other guy for our refs. There were just two. But the girls’ game, there was three on each end. But then the last year that we played, I think it was the last year, we had a rover that crossed the line, center line. So it really changed. The forwards were on the other end and you couldn't go over the line. I was a guard. And if you were on the floor, it was walking. There wasn’t no jump ball.
"In fifty-seven, that’s what I was thinking, where the dam burst up at Bland. I know the water was so high that evening that the bus let me out down at Mike DeWilde’s and I walked home because he couldn’t get up in there. And I had on a new coat, and it got wet and it drew up, and I never could wear it again. That was what stood out in my mind about the flood (laughs). Course I didn’t know it was washing away Bland at that time.
"For Christmas, Santa Claus, he brought oranges and nuts and always a toy. And for Halloween, in the later years we used to dress up and go. We’d have a ball. We would get dressed up and go to houses. We had a lot of fun. Wasn’t all this meanous, you know. Although the boys did now cut the trees across the road and things like that.For other holidays, I can remember all my mom’s brothers and sisters coming home and all the kids and we’d have a lot of fun. We’d go to grandma’s, and of course, we’d eat, play. My uncle would hide Easter eggs all day on Easter Sunday. And sometimes we’d have to fight cause some of them would peep (laughs). Watch him hide them (laughs). But that was the highlight cause I looked forward to them coming. Cause I was, as Keith says, I was a lonely child. Instead of only, he’d say lonely (laughs).
"My favorite movie star was Gene Simmons, and Rene.I think I remember going to a movie in Wytheville. Oh, Mom took me. That’s the only time I ever remember her going to a movie. And now I can’t...Trail of the Lonesome Pines. That’s what it was. That was the first one I ever saw.During the 1950s, it was wonderful, just going to school. Yeah. Stands out in my mind as being the best time of my life.
"We had a battery powered one too. Mom used to listen to all the soaps on the radio in the daytime. Maw Perkins was one of them. And then we would listen to the radio at night, and they’d have scary things on there, and it would just terrify me. Creaking door, and I would just be scared to death (laughs). We first get television… I guess we didn’t get one until ’60, did we? Fifty-nine... And it just had a little bitty screen on it. But the first one I ever saw was down at Mr. Banes Dunn’s. Mom and I were selling huckleberries. We’d pick them and take them to town to sell them, and they had a TV. So that’s the first one I saw. But there was so much snow on it couldn’t hardly see anything. Course I didn’t know the difference (laughs). It’s Christy and them’s granddaddy... Some of the first shows we watched I can remember Howdy Duty. I don’t remember any more either. It came on somewhere in the area of five o'clock. Now I was supposed to been practicing on the piano at Grandma’s and I was watching TV. And then I would go down to my aunt Mary Ruth’s and we’d have Pepsis and bologna sandwiches and watch wrestling. And that was an outing.
“To me, the state of the country right now is terrible. We didn’t have to deal with everything that you now a days do. Like we could let the kids go and play in the neighborhood and not worried bout them being kidnapped. We always knew they were close by.