Thelma Akers

Thelma Akers is interviewed on April 30, 1997 by Kenny Shrader.(rghs '98)


I was born in Virginia, May 5, 1927. My mother and my fathers name was Granwall W. Rye and Louise O. Cooper, that was her maiden name, and they're both dead. My mother was a wonderful woman,she raised me and taught me the right way to go, and was a very dear mother to me. My father was good too, but he wasn't as good as my mother, because my mother was a Christian. My grandparents was David Cooper and Veenie Cooper. I was a Rife before I was married. I never did know what I knowed about my Cooper grandparents, one of was my grandpa, grandpa David Cooper. He was pretty nice but he was grouchy too, because he was old. He had his ways, but he was a good person.

My brothers and sisters, some of them was bad just like myself and some of them was good. I had good memories of the one that has been dead, which I have three sisters and two brothers dead. I was raised partially in Virginia, I come to West Virginia at about nine years old and was raised in West Virginia until I was 18. I didn't have any fun because I worked in a cornfield and had a rough way of going, had to raise my food. We had to work to raise our food in order to have food to eat. We didn't have much to play with at them days. We didn't have no games or nothing else hardly to do, we had to be busy all the time. We had to carry water, get in wood and all of that. So we didn't have much fun. We had to clean the house, get in wood, feed the hogs and the chickens, do house work, wash on a washboard and wash clothes all day long and things like that. Our house was clean, it was heated by a fireplace with wood. We had all kinds of country food, cooked country food that we raised mostly. We grew all kinds of stuff in the garden. All kinds of vegetables and corn in the corn fields. My favorite meal was anything I could get a hold of because I eat like a pig.


I went to school in Virginia, but then my legs was too short and I was fat where I had to eat so much and I had to quit school because I was young and it was too far for me to walk. I had to quit school and never had school when I was little. For lunch, most the time I went home for lunch. I studied history, Geometry, Science, Spelling, Arithmetic, and Reading. I had a couple of fights in school, because they were making fun of my clothes. I didn't have too good of clothes to wear but they was clean.


Holidays were celebrated like any other day. We made decorations for the Christmas tree. We done the best we could. I was raised real hard. Now I loved every minute of it but then I thought it was a little rough on me. I started flirting when I was about 13 I guess. I went to movies a couple of times with my sisters. I don't remember how I met my husband, I think I met him at my sister's house. We had a preacher to marry us, we didn't have a honeymoon. That was out of the question. We got married for five dollars. We never went anywhere, stayed home on our honeymoon. My husband's name is James S. Alger. My name is Oakey Thelma Rife, I had three children. Connie Alger, Roney Alger, and James Alger. Connie Alger was the oldest, she was born in Welch Hospital in 1945. It was easier for me to raise my children then than it is for people to raise my children today. Parents simply give in to their children too much, and won't discipline them like they should. I was very strict with my children and so was my parents strict on me.

I wasn't in Rocky Gap when I was growing up. I remember some bad snow storms. Bad ones, deep ones, and I had some rough times with them. We had some good food to eat on Christmas. We had nuts, candy, and apples and good stuff like that. But we certainly didn't get a gift every Christmas, just every now and then. We had a ball on Halloween, fighting is what we done a lot of times and that was Halloween to us. My brother and I, we fight a lot.We didn't go out and trick or treat or anything like that. We would just fight among each other a lot of times. That was our Halloween trick and treating. Easter as I remember was Jesus's day, mommy kept reminding us of that. We would color eggs sometimes, but not until I had already had children did we color eggs. We didn't have hardly any eggs to color, we would eat them. That's the truth. On Valentines Day, we made some ugly valentines, they wasn't pretty but we made them anyhow. We done the best we could with them. They wasn't too hot looking. But we didn't have none hardly.

Politics and a Prediction on the Future

The first president I knew was Roosevelt, and he was a Democrat. I didn't know a thing about movie stars. We were our own movie stars. I went to the movies a couple of times but not much, just a couple of times. Until I got married, there went the movie part. I heard a little bit about President Hoover. My people were Democrats. I liked President Roosevelt, I heard more than I know but I went by my parents. He was a good president, he started a lot of good things for many people. Yes, I feel that he helped the country during hard times. Daddy used to work on WPA. I have been here since 1975 but I don't remember much about Bland County. I got my first radio and it was a talk machine that you had to wind up, then it would run down and it wasn't much of nothing. You would wear yourself down winding it up. We didn't have no telephone, we didn't even have any lights in the house. First television I got was in 1960. I watched the Match Girl around Christmas time. It was a show about Christmas and that poor little girl. TV has changed a lot since then. My brother in law was in the service at this time, I'm not for sure. I remember about the Germans, but I can't remember that much. I am just about antique. I am getting old. I didn't care too much about President Johnson, he was a Democrat. It will not get any better, it will get worse.

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