#490 Frankie Strock interview by Kendell Stuart 2/26/06
I was born in Buchanan County in the year 1930. My parents were Harve and Roxy Durham. My mother was born and raised in Russell County, and my father was raised in Buchanan County. My mother, she was a homemaker, and my dad was I guess you would say just a jack-of-all-trades. But his living for the family came from being partners with his dad and Earl Mustard’s father in the timber business, and we moved around a lot.
I can remember things that was happening, just a few things, actually when I was four years old. I can remember when there’d be a baby born at home because the doctor had a long ways to come, but we weren’t told things and it scared us to death just for our mother to be in bed because she was always jolly, and up, and going. And I remember us moving to Poor Valley because they cut the timber out over there. My dad and uncle had their own sawmill, and it was set up permanently. And I remember that we were not far from the railroad track. The engineer of a train would start the whistle before he got near our house because he liked my dad, and he liked his company, and he liked for him to go with him to Tannersville and pick up our groceries. That’s where most of the time we got our groceries. And my mother was a homemaker, and she also cooked for the Virginia Harwood Lumber Company people. She, they had a commissary there in Bastian. It was the only outside work she’d ever done.
I had nine brothers and sisters. There was ten of us, and only one deceased, and she was two years older than me. We were very close and it was a very sad occasion for us because it was the first death of our family.
We went to church at Mount Victory in Poor Valley, and we had to go because we lived inside of it after we moved out of granddaddy’s house at the railroad track. We had to go because dad was the superintendent of the Sunday school all the time, and we fed and kept the minister a lot when he had to have services on Sunday because he had to come all the way from Ceres.
Our neighbors were the Hanshews. Only people i believe ever owned an automobile besides my granddaddy owned the lumber trucks. And we had ridden ‘em, which wouldn’t be lawful now because we’d be on the back. And we would come to Mechanicsburg to see daddy’s sister. And our oldest sister was the only one who didn’t graduate. she didn’t want to board away from home and she married pretty young. And she had been married eight years, and then she had children. She had five children. God blessed them with five, wonderful children. That’s why dad moved out there and did some farming and he wanted us to have and education. he said that he didn’t want any of us to board away from home and to graduate Ceres, but we were going to stay right there until we left. And I started at Bland High School in the seventh grade after we moved to what they called the Slide. I was about the middle of the family. And I’m thee one who loved to be outside and help my mom. Where she went I went. What she done I done. I was the only one who got up early and helped her.
Back then we had a few toys and games, but it was mostly checker games for inside games. And they didn’t like up to play cards. I was from a strict family, but I thank God that I was. And at school we did have croquet, and softball, and base, which schools had it. They have a little more modern things in this day and time, though so my grandchildren wouldn’t know about. We didn’t have much. And on Sunday the whole group in Poor Valley young people met up, and i can’t believe that we were allowed to play Cowboys and Indians. Lots of laurels over there and we really enjoyed it. Even the mothers played with us.
I always took chores as I said with my mother. I walked up to the church when it wasn’t on our land. I walked with my mother to milk the cow. We always kept the …. Had your own. And we raised the garden. I helped her. Whatever she done I did. We even raised corn. I’d help them and hull corn and knew how before I was ten years old.
When I was young they use to use herbs for the babies that was younger than me, I can remember them making catnip tea, and digging ginseng and making a tonic sort of, which would make me sick. And I don’t remember them using any more herbs.
When I was younger there wasn’t really a steady home because well we had moved a lot until I got in the seventh grade. My parents had lived in the state of Washington …out there, big trees. And I wasn’t born until they came back from the state of Washington. My sister died, was a baby living out there. She was a few years older than me. And I was born right after they came back from the state of Washington. And we didn’t have running water, but we had springhouses. I can’t understand how they ….in the spring house. We had cold, bad winters. And we couldn’t leave it there in the wintertime.
Yes, one of these people that can’t say they’ve never use an outhouse. I think everybody did back then. And we had to scrub it. Every Saturday was my and my older sister’s job to scrub out the outhouse. And they even put…you’d be surprised what the wallpaper looked like. It was heavy and put up with a funny little tab under it. They tried to make it a litter warmer, but I hated to go get out of bed early in the morning to go to that outhouse.
There were several places that our parents did not allow us to go. They were very strict, we were in church a lot, because we lived so close and my dad was the superintendent of the Sunday school. One more thing that they call a jam session now, just the people who lived in there would meet there Folegosongs from Ceres owned property over there that joined the Hanshews they finally bought it, and they make string music and every member of my family I think could play music until it got to me and I played with daddy, but he always wanted me to sing and my voice won’t even carry in church now.
I met my husband in school. He went to the same school as me until he was drafted into WWII and he got a brother that was ready to go, but he had a busted eardrum, and he already had either 4 or 5 brothers in the service then, and hew was to go to but after his brother was killed, lost at sea, he was never found. Uh, they decided that Harry should be at home helping his daddy on the farm, and Harry did finish school.
We got married at a parsonage in Mechanicsburg, and the preacher was as nervous as we were because he got his license that day and we were the first couple he had ever married. So, he may have made mistakes, but that didn’t matter.
For our honeymoon we went to 4 different states, we had a double wedding with his sister and brother-in-law, uhm Muncy.., J.P. Muncy and Betty. And we (I forgot the question) we were on our way to Nashville which you didn’t have interstate then and he had such a short time off from work then. And uh, the Muncy boy had a short time to be gone from his mother and father, he was on only child. So, we didn’t make it all the way to Nashville, we were all 4 together and we got to visit Natural Tunnel in Gate City, and we were in 4 states that day and Kendell’s mother wrote that we were in 4 states one day in a school program and she didn’t give her a good grade on that, because she said that was impossible. We got up early that morning and we went as we could go into Tennessee, got over in Ohio into Kentucky, then back into Virginia, we left from Bristol, Virginia from the General Chelvey Hotel, that’s where is mother and daddy had went on theirs.
We have three children. One son and two daughters and we are thankful to God to get three. We had one at the Pearisburg Hospital in Pearisburg, Va. The other two were born at Giles Memorail Hospital.
It seemed to me like that we had snow on my sisters birthday on the 24th of October it would start, and we had long winters and if we hadn’t lived close to the school, the one room school, we would’ve been times that we wouldn’t have got to go to school, but my dad always saw that we got to school and he would bring the school teacher and all them that was enrolled in school over there, they was always tickled when we would have a 3 and 4 foot snow, because my mother made fried apple pies for all of them. That was a big thing for a woman to make fried apple pies in those days, still is I think.
We always had a Christmas tree and we made all of our ornaments and we even strung popcorn for our roping on the tree. Well for ornaments we used colored tissue paper and created our own unique decorations. And we could make stars out of something that looked gold or silver and put it on top of the tree. Our mother made angels for the top of the tree. When we got presents on Christmas morning we were thrilled because we thought we had been given a whole lot. Compared to what kids get today for Christmas we got nothing.
Halloween wasn’t a big deal at my house. Daddy wouldn’t let us out much on Halloween if we did go out at all. I guess it was when I graduated from high school at the age of 16 I was allowed out on Halloween. And even at that age he wasn’t really comfortable with me being out that night. At that time we lived in Mechanicsburg and some of the local kids would cut trees across the road and the next day dad would have to go clean them up. But other than that I guess we were all good kids back then.
When Pearl Harbor happened we hadn’t heard about war. I remember it being very frightened because we didn’t know what was going to happen. There was a group of people that would walk between 2 to 5 miles to listen to the radio. We all knew that some of the boys would have to be leaving soon.
I had a brother that was in the Army, but he saw more of the Navy, because he was on Normandy Beach, and said he could still feel chills up his spine, when you could her the guards, you didn’t know if that was them or the Germans a walking at night. He helped load and unload ships, so he said he saw more of the Navy. And my other brother was sent to Japan, before the oldest boy got home.
During the war my mother was a strong woman but we could see the sadness and it made us sad, and I even asked my mother is she could go up to the bus station and cry would they send our brothers home. I wasn’t that old, in maybe I can’t remember what year it started. But I do remember that we didn’t get senior pictures because of WWII going on and in 1947, but we still lived in the Slide when my brothers left.
I remember President Nixon and the Watergate incident. It was a very sad thing and Harry’s dad was always helped in, well I don’t what you would call him, where ever we voted in Mechanicsburg. I don’t know what I am wanting to say about what you call, of what he did. You had to register to vote back then, you still do, you had to pay a poll tax, and I remember Whit Price, which was a first cousin of Harry’s daddy. He was a sheriff then he paid my taxes to vote then, he thought everybody should vote, well Harry’s daddy thought we should too. But, Whit just did that before we knew it, now I want to know that you went and voted, but Harry’s daddy made sure that they did.
Life in Bland County had changed over the years. I was a 4-H leader for 40 some years, and I had some, when I went to Williamsburg, I think that eastern side of the United States was there, and I had 36 4-Hers and they gave me an award for having the biggest club and I had a good club of boys, and girls. You can’t get that many out anymore, there’s to many other activities, children didn’t have volleyball and basketball practice and all that, and that interfered with coming to our 4-H because they wanted to come at 5 o’clock in the afternoon, and meet the extension agents did, and I got up the first horse show to help pay for the dining hall up at the 4-H center in Abington. And the next year Bland wanted to sell food, and they got to selling food and I guess we had it up the horse show up there for close to 40 years. Because they didn’t want to go to door to door, because they said begging for money. So, we worked hard and we picked up trash, we did a lot of things in 4-H to help the community looking better, and after Bland got a club, they didn’t have many but 7 or 8, after they got a club and Rocky Gap got a club, uh, we divided the money with all of us, that we made because the horse show got to be the only big fundraiser we ever had. We sorta had a couple parents object and I did too, to having it on Sunday afternoon but they used to same grounds to have their baseball games there and they always played baseball of Saturday afternoons, and we started off having our horse show on Saturday, they very quickly put it on Sunday. Which I really didn’t care about, but I figured if they were there things have began to get bad for teenagers, if we could keep them interested and take them roller skating, I have gone up to the 4-H center with them, and I have chaperoned them around and I have took care of them, and we have never had anything bad happen to them and we just felt like it was a good thing to have, and I am still a leader, but I haven’t been active since I have been in the hospital I sorta lost my club when I was in there, now they meet during lunch at the high school, which is easier for the extension agents, they don’t like to come out at night.
Well I guess by playing cowboys and Indians made me love forest so well, I had a daughter and would make me make turkey blinds out of laurel, and I think that’s what made me love to hunt so much, and all these years that I have never went hunting that I didn’t come home with a turkey, and I got 4 trophies from Gordon’s Store, where we checked them in, that was a big turkey clock, and I was giving all my grandson’s one, and called a turkey in for Bradley when he was 9 years old, and uh, Kendell’s brother Hunter, who was going to be 9 in June, he was a little 9, said Maws you called Bradley in a turkey before he was 9 years old and you haven’t called me in one yet. And I had him come down and spend the night and tell him what to do, because Bradley didn’t know his was a beating him to death, they go down hill, they get in the water, there was a branch down there and I knew how the turkey’s traveled, because that’s where I done my walks in the woods, which I will not do anymore, I am afraid of coyotes…and I am also afraid of bobcats. The only thing that happened to me was a bobcat, and it charged me and I couldn’t get my shotgun out of my turkey blind and I pushed it as far as I could and if I would have blinked an eye, it was like a cat catching a bird. It was already moving its paws and was ready to jump through the side, and ___ I pushed my shotgun around and fired, hoping the shot would scatter. Reason I knew it was a bobcat, it was the year after the ice storm and he got a hold of a turkey hen that flew down in front of me, but you couldn’t kill hens in the spring and her feathers were broken off, some hangin’ down in the wings, directly I looked up and saw a bobcat a walkin’ across that tree a followin’ across the hollow, he walked that and the next thing ya knew he was 3 feet in from me ready to jump through a hole at my face, I knew that if I blinked an eye he would get me. But that didn’t stop my turkey hunting, and I got out of the hospital, Harry taught me how to walk, been in there 20 days with pneumonia and heart failure, but I still, my grandson Bradley always makes me turkey blinds, 3 and 4 places around on the, and when Harry was able he would help him, and Kendell’s mom would help me sometimes, and I never went turkey hunting that I didn’t come home with a turkey and I always felt that the men was purple with envy, cause they would try and try, and beg me to, people who wasn’t even related, to take them turkey hunting, and call them in a turkey. That didn’t mean nothing to me, but it did to the grand children. And I took Wes when he was 9, he is mounting them now…mounts deer heads, and uh..he was goin just stay, it was the last day, and he hadn’t get to go. He stayed that morning and just as he got out of the blind he spooked one, it was coming, I had called it in. And he turned around and said, I’m sorry Maws, good thing it’s the last day…you won’t have to call me in another one, and I didn’t have to, he didn’t want me to. He didn’t have patience. And I am going say that’s the end of that.