Interview With Pam Stowers
Interviewer: Bryan Myers
My full name is Pamela Ramsey Stowers. I was born at home in Bland County Virginia on Pinch Creek April 26, 1946. My father was Vance Ramsey and my mother is Inna Wright Ramsey. They were born and raised in Bland County, Pinch Creek. Well not really Pinch Creek all the time because I think my mother lived in the Hollybrook section for part of her life. My mother was a housewife and helped of the farm she could do any thing on the farm that my dad could do. And my dad got his training at the CCC Camp in Bastain for heavy equipment and then in the later years he ran heavy equipment but was out of town most of the time. Working on jobs and come home on weekends and then he also helped with the farm work. My mother was a hard worker. She had to of course back at that time you had to raise all your food if you wanted to eat during the winter. And she was always busy working in the garden, canning food, cleaning house. And after taking care of her family the neighbors would still get together and help each other with there gardens putting up their crops and still had time to visit she took care of her church she was the piano player at Shady Grove United Methodist Church until probably her grand daughter Lisa Keene took over. In our garden we grew just about any thing you can think of, corn, photos, beans, lettuce, onions, sweet photos, strawberries, they grow it they canned it. Dad was a hard worker too usually when he come home on the weekends he worked a lot of over time working with heavy equipment on construction some time he would be home on Saturday and Sunday and leave on Monday morning and some times he would come home on Saturday and leave on Sunday. My earliest memories from child hood was being a child I guess play and mostly that revolved around where you were visiting your neighbors or they were getting together to work and the children would go play it was always hide and seek, or tag so it was jus I guess that’s my earliest memories. My mother’s mother was Lilla Jane Chandler and I’m not cretin but I believe she was born in Bland County and her dad was John Bowman Right and I feel like he was born and raised in Bland County and my dads mother was Carolina Kay Finley and his dad was Thomas Ramsey and they were born and raised in Bland County on the farm that we now live on. I think my grand-paw Ramsey more less a farmer. The oldest child in the family was Barbara Ramsey Williams and the middle child was my brother, Philip Ramsey, and I was the baby; and I’m not spoiled. My sister I think was always taking care of me. I don’t recall us fighting that much. My brother and I used to get into trouble. One time I was chewing oak leaves off of an oak tree of course and it was running down my chin and my mother that he had given me chewing tobacco. She whipped him for that. Just the normal childhood of growing up in the country. You had to make up your own entertainment. My nickname back then was Charlie and some people still call me that today. I got that nickname because of a little boy I liked in first grade in Hollybrook School. I still have a lot of cousins that call me that too.
My family and I all went to Shady Grove United Methodist Church and we all still go there today. I guess the first preacher that I really remember was Lewis Kegley and his wife. They were really nice people, I can remember spending the night in their home at the Methodist a couple of times. You know, he’s the one that sticks out in my mind most when I was young. Of course, the rest of them are in my later years. The babtisms I first remember when I was small was over here in Kimberling Creek. There was a pretty deep hole of water and the preacher would take you out in the middle of the creek and baptized you in the creek and the people would sing on the creek bank and praise the Lord. I remember funerals, I remember they always used to bring the body home for usually one night and somebody would sit up all night with the body. Of course, people had brought food in for the family and for the friends who were sitting up with the corpse at that time. They had funeral homes then. The best I can recall was probably the best homes at White Gate and I don’t know if Bobby Newberry was in business at that time or not, but what I can recall it seems like to me is what runs through my mind. You know, I don’t know any that stands out in my mind particularly. Most of them were held at Shiloh Church for this area. And of course, you have your preacher that would do the sermon and your singing of the hymns and then they usually carried the casket up the hill to Shiloh Church to Shiloh cemetery. We had other church activities to such as bible school, and that was probably our social life. Bible school MYF on Sunday night. It was a united youth group. Ruface Havens used to give me a nickel to sing “Jesus Loves Me”. But then we would have Christmas plays and the reason it’s called Shady Grove is their us to be so many trees around it and I can remember when we would be practicing a Christmas play or something we would get all the leaves up in a bundle and we jump, run, and play in that. This church mostly it’s, yes family one way or other family related most the time they got along I wont say all the time. I guess on thing that sticks out in my mind I was probably about ten or eleven we were having a revival. And my grand-paw Right was their he was a real spiritual man and every body respected him. And brother Kegaly the preacher I remember was preaching the revival and he gave the alter call and I think maybe ten at the time ten or eleven and I excepted Jesus as my savior then and I can remember crying and crying my grand-paw had me up in his arms and said she doesn’t know something what she doing or something.
I was raised on Pinch Creek. Not far from where I live now and I suppose it was just a normal life, about everybody was poor then and no body knew it so we all thought we were doing good. And I guess I didn’t have to work as much as a lot of kids did around the house and on the farm we played and made our own entertainment we would go around the creek and play and I would play with the Clarks and play with those children and sometimes we would go up to Kimblerin Creek and go and swimming. And jus I remember we used to go outside in the winter time and play in the snow or go to the creek when the creek was frozen over and skate on the creek jus your normal. Well I thought it was normal then. I don’t think one stands out any more than the other I had good memories of all of them I think back when I was growing up their was maybe seven homes up pinch creek and now theirs around fifty. On the corner you had porch MOL Helvy, and then my mom and dad place, ant and Ina Ramesy, and then you had Berny and Bea clark, Blake and Leouia Williams, Ed and Minnie Williams, Jim and Clair Williams. I used to go along to garden maybe to help a lil I can remember in the, fall of the year with dad working out of town we had this on of the neighbors Kenneth Williams had stayed with us and I always enjoyed this in the fall of the year we would go pull the corn for the live stock to eat. We would go to the cornfield pull the corn off and throw it on the wagon and I got to drive the tractor. My house was heated with a coal stove and a kitchen stove. My parents didn’t build a new home till i was in the tenth grade and that was when we first got running water. Washing our clothes, well what I remember is mom having a ringer washer on Mondays she usually carried water and filled washer up with water a rinse tub that she washed them and rinsed them that way and hanged them on the line to dry.
The first TV, oh gee I know I we were the first one in the holler on pinch creek to have a TV. And the kids use to gather on Saturday night to watch TV specially the wrestling and that was a lot of fun. And some of them use to set up at the road they could see through the window and see the TV some of them would sit up the road and watch in but, a lot of nights they gather in and watch television. I don’t remember what year that was. You had the Today Show, I could remember that and cartoons and weaseling was a favorite of everybody I can remember the Today Show was on and my grand paw Ramsey he lived with my mom and dad uh course he was up in years and he thought the people were waving at him on the Today Show and he would sit and wave back at them.
Well back then you got your haircut with anybody that knew how to cut hair. Let me go back to that when I got larger I used to go to Andrew Ferguson who had the barber shop out by Rocky Gap. And he cut my hair and I wore it short some of the hair styles back then was probably long were curls but I’ve always been a short haired person myself.
I definately remember when we had outhouses, and sears roebuck catalogues too. It was not fun at all. Pretty good ways from my house especially in the wintertime.
Gardens and Stores
Mom always had a big garden and then across the creek they had what they called a truck patch which some times they would put corn in or potatoes and green beans. Our family pretty much grew everything and we jus keep it all or gave it to their neighbors. Back then we went to the stores either I’m trying to think Friday night or every other Friday night and Otis Wright had a store in Hollybrook. And then there was Burnert store over Mechanicsburg sometimes I would go over their and I know I would get a quarter and I could buy five things with that quarter buy a pop and nabs and a candy bar I had it down to a system what and a cake and I forget what else but I could get a quarter on Friday night for the store. It is a lot different now than it was back then.
I went to school at Hollybrook from grade one to seventh and I went to Rocky Gap high school eight to twelfth. When I went to Hollybrook I got to school by riding a bus. It had single seats and there were rows of seats on each side of the bus. We had one of the metal buses and Zed Morehead was the driver. In high school I studied mainly just things about business. For lunch we ate in the cafeteria and we had some really great meals. Sue Morehead was the cook at Hollybrook and she always had good meals and I guess one of the curricular activities at Hollybrook was that you got to help in the lunch room and you got to help wash the dishes. My uh, first, second, and third grade teacher was Irena Faulkner. And she had the first, second, and part of the third grade in her room. My fourth and fifth grade teacher was Hazel Ramsey. And my sixth and seventh grade teacher was Allis Mustard. If you ever got in trouble at school then the teachers all had a wooden paddle with holes. I developed a great respect for teachers because I was scared to death of those paddles. And if one things true its if you got in trouble at school you knew you would be in even more trouble at home. Mostly whenever someone would get in trouble it was just lil non meaning things if anyone got a paddling maybe they had to be corrected more than once for talking or maybe misbehaved on the play ground that was probably about the worst it ever was. Well i graduated from Rocky Gap and their was twenty-four in graduating class when we started out in the eighth grade at Rocky Gap we were what they called the baby boomer class and I think their was eighty that started out I’ll say seventy-five to eighty started out in the eighth grade and then when we got to graduation their was twenty-four of us. For the holidays in the schools they at that time could still have a religious thing, especially in the elementary school at Hollybrook and high school was the same thing then and it was always special because their always a special felling in the air at holidays and people were happier and you would always have a special meal I know that the cafeteria at Rocky Gap would fix one of the best Thanksgiving diner and Christmas diners their ever was.
There is an Odd Fellow Hall at Hollybrook and it used to be what the Old Farlow Theater was because we had a theater in Hollybrook. In the theater they played westerns hop-along casatid and they always had a series every week that you had to go to keep up with I think they had them Thursday night, Friday night, and Saturday night I can remember King Kong too because I got really scared at the King Kong.
Well it was centered around church and family for many years we were always at church for Christmas Eve because that when Shady Grove done their Christmas play and then in later years it’s as family expanded moved about moved away then new people moved in because they had other places to go and we’d always go cut a Christmas tree out of the woods and decorate it and of course we’d have a good dinner from the food that had been canned, out of the hog that had been slaughtered. I guess at that time it was probably the presents and, and the, I always enjoyed the program at the church. We always had fun doing that. For Halloween I never really did much I didn’t even really celebrate it at all. We never did go out of such but probably up in my later years we probably was in a neighbor’s garden or I don’t ever remember doing anything that mean at Halloween really. On the Fourth of July there used to be a celebration of what they call up Kimberling Springs. I can remember going up there. And I remember having an ice cream cone. And that’s, as for the earlier years, you know I can remember that but anything else special, maybe a watermelon but nothing like it’s celebrated this day and time. Easter was good. We used to color eggs and hide eggs and hunt ‘em. And we would hunt ‘em until the shell was ‘bout ready to fall off of ‘em and then we would eat ‘em and now they say it’ll kill ya but it really was a lot of fun. Valentine’s Day at home was not really celebrated that much, most of it, well, we would buy our Valentines and we were real pleased with that and fix them up and take them to school and see how many you could get.
Oh my. Marbles, Hop-scotch, ring around the roses and drop the handkerchief and bum, bum, bum, here I come and then when you got up in the later years we had a softball team and the big game of the year and probably the only game of the year was Hollybrook vs. Mechanicsburg. And I think maybe that was probably just one game a year, one year Mechanicsburg would come to Hollybrook and the next year Hollybrook would go to Mechanicsburg. In drop the handkerchief, you would get in a circle and someone would have a handkerchief and they would go around the circle and then they’d decide who they were gonna drop it behind and when they dropped it, they would have to turn around grab the handkerchief and chase the person around the circle trying to catch them until they got back in the. Where that person had left at. In bum, bum, bum you had a line of students on one end and a line on the other end and the people on one end would get together and decide who they wanted to say ‘bum, bum, bum.... now wait a minute, I’m getting that mixed up. That was red rover! But it’s the same thing. So red rover, red rover, let someone come over and they would try to run as hard as they could and if they could break through your hands then they got to take somebody back with ‘em. We’d also play in the creeks a lot. We’d catch crawdads and I didn’t fish that much but I would still watch for the fish. When winter time came around I loved to go sleigh riding! Lets see for some funny stories about sleigh riding, well i can remember my brother coming off of the hill and running in under the fence but not any others that I can recollect just that it was a lot of fun, it never got too cold. Back then we never really had any bonfires but we used to have weenie roasts at the church. We used to have snowball fights and just when you were out playing in the snow all of the sudden you know you’d start making snowballs and throwing ‘em at each other.
You know I always got along pretty well in the business courses typing and everything and I guess I just wanted to get a job in an office and uh, I did. And right now, I often ask myself if I went to college I don’t know what I’d want to be when I grow up.
“Forbidden Places” Growing Up
There was some places that I was not allowed or not supposed to go to like any place that had a bad reputation or bars or clubs or you know. I never went to a bar or club behind my parents backs when i was younger but I did a lot of things they told me not to though. I got away with most of it too.
The only thing that I can remember about the Polio epidemic and I assume this was about the same time was when we all had to get uh, uh, vaccinated with the polio vaccine, I think it started off with on the sugar cubes, I can remember we went out to Rocky Gap School to get that. The sugar cubes were just another form of the vaccine just it was just like a small sugar cube that I’m sure you’ve seen some people used to use to put in their coffee and they would put the vaccine on that. That was mainly for younger kids that didn’t want shots.
Courting and Marriage
Well, let me see. There was a drive in theatre at Bluewell called the Skyway Drive-in theatre we used to go to movies there and a lot of times it consisted of just going out to the sunset restaurant at Rocky Gap and maybe gettin something to eat and maybe riding around uh, and sometimes you’d have dances at the school and sometimes you’d do that. I met my husband when well he was a school bus driver at Rocky Gap School when I was going to school there. We got married when i was almost 18 and he was 24. My wedding was very simple I might add that we’ve been married forty-four years. It was very simple it was at Rocky Gap United Methodist church with Lee Ellis affricating and it was only family members that was their and my best friend Judy Pruitt and that was about it my husband wore a suit and I had a new white suite. We got married in Rocky Gap and we went to Roanoke on our honeymoon. My husbands name is Hubert Allen Stowers but everyone around Pinch Creek and in the family knows him as Buster. We had one child together and her name is Melissa. She was born in Bluefield, WV. It was much easier to raise a kid back then than it is nowadays. Well I guess it’s jus seems that things were simpler you didn’t have to worry about your children driving to school in car and getting hurt. Course I know you have to advance in life but their so much technology. And I don’t know it jus simpler.