Waucella Coburn Gregory was raised down Wolf Creek below Rocky Gap. She was interviewed in 1996 by her granddaughter, Christie Hull.
Christie:Where and when were you born?
Waucella:In Bluefield, WV. June the first, 1920.
Christie:Who was your mother and father?
Waucella: John and Meg Coburn.
Christie: Where were they born and raised?
Waucella: Roundbottom. I think. Roundbottom.
Christie: Roundbottom. What did they do for a living?
Waucella:They was farmers.
Christie: What was your father like?
Waucella: Oh, lordy. He was a hard working man.
Christie: What was your mother like?
Waucella: She was a hard working woman.
Christie:Who were your grandparents?
Waucella:Uh, John Ed and Nora Shrader and Guss and Alice Coburn.
Christie:Where were they born and raised?
Waucella: Uh, grandma Shrader was born up Laurel and I don't know where grandpa was born. Down there about Roundbottom, I guess. And I don't know where grandma Coburn was born but grandpa Coburn come from Ireland.
Christie:Where were you raised?
Waucella: Rocky Gap, up on the mountain.
Christie: What did you do for fun when you were small?
Waucella: Well, we didn't have much to do because we didn't have any toys. We'd play horseshoes, we play hop scotch, jump rope, and play marbles. Hide our marbles.
Christie: What were your chores around the house?
Waucella:J ust about everything. Cooking, cleaning, helping wash on a washboard.
Christie: What was your house like?
Waucella: Well, I don't know just how to describe it, but it was an old log house.
Christie: How was it heated?
Waucella:Fireplace in the kitchen and a wood heater in the living room.
Christie:What did you cook your food on?
Waucella: Cook stove and fireplace, sometimes.
Christie: What did you grow in your garden?
Waucella: Oh, just about everything. Potatoes, onions, corn, beans, tomatoes, turnips. Just about like what people grow now.
Christie: Where did you go to school?
Waucella: Rocky Gap.
Christie:What was school like?
Waucella: Oh boy, now that was something else. We went days that the snow was up to our knees. Walked. Took off down that mountain, down that road. Had an old round, what we called potbelly stoves in the room to heat the room. Burnt coal in it. Get up around that stove, you'd get good and warm, buddy. Back over there in the corner of the room, it wasn't warm.
Christie:What did you study?
Waucella:I don't know. Just regular old stuff. arithmetic, reading, spelling, writing.
Christie:What did you pack for lunch?
Waucella:Well, I was great, big old girl before we ever had light bread. We'd have biscuits. Sometimes I'd fry an egg, take an egg, bacon biscuits, jelly biscuits. Carried my lunch in a lard pail until I got up a pretty, good size of a girl and I went to carrying it in some kind of box. Just any kind of box. Then, I'd run down off the mountain. When I went to eat my lunch then I'd have biscuits off top of one biscuit be on the other. Sometimes my biscuits had two or three tops on them.
Christie: Who were your teachers?
Waucella: I don't remember too many of them. I remember Elizabeth Allen. She was a good teacher. She taught when I was in second or third grade. Ada Simpkins, Rosa Stowers and Margie Blankenship was my high school teacher, Claude Stowers. don't remember too many of my teachers.
Christie:How were holidays celebrated?
Waucella:Well, Christmas we didn't get any toys back then. Sometimes we got toys. I remember getting a couple of dolls. We didn't get much but we always have a good dinner Christmas day.
Christie:How did teenagers court when you were young?
Waucella:I don't know
Waucella:I didn't do much of it.
Christie :Did you go to the movies?
Christie: What about to town?
Waucella: Nope. Boys come to the house and you'd sit and talk. Usually, get out and play horseshoes or something like hat. Sit and talk.
Christie: How did you meet your husband?
Waucella: Which one?
Christie: Both of them.
Waucella: Well, I met Clarence Millirons. I think he was working for dad, helping dad do something. I met Charlie Gregory. I met him when I was going to school. I went home with his sisters. That was the first time I met him. And then he was staying with his sister, Ruth Burress, and I met him again.
Christie:Where were you married?
Waucella: Bland, with Preacher Parsley.
Christie:What was the ceremony like?
Waucella:I don't know. I don't remember much about it.
Christie:Did you go on a honeymoon?
Christie:How many children did you have?
Christie: What was Rocky Gap like?
Waucella:When I was growing up, there wasn't much to it when I was growing up.
Christie:Was there any businesses there?
Waucella:Yeah, there was a planing mill there and one store, no two stores.
Christie:Did you pull any pranks at Halloween or hear about any?
Waucella:Yeah, I remember several pranks that were pulled, but I never did pull any and my brothers never did get to pull any. Because we knew better to. We'd know what we get if we did. But some boys put an old cow in the schoolhouse one Halloween.
Waucella: Meaness, I guess. But we didn't get to go out on Halloween.
Christie:What was it like during the Great Depression?
Waucella: You know, it was hard times.You'd see people walking the road. Dad brought one home with him one night. He was cold. He brought him home and said he couldn't just let him go on. He didn't know where he stayed or nothing. And one time me and mom were washing and I don't remember which one of us it was but we were rubbing the clothes on the washboard and we happen to look up and there stood a man right at us. We were out on the porch and he was standing right at us. We hadn't heard him come or nothing.And that one scared us but if mom ma had anything at all to eat, she would always give them something to eat,
Christie:Why did some people oppose or support FDR?
Waucella:I don't know why they opposed him, but he sure got the country to a moving. And I know that he helped the people out. I guess a lot of people did starve. But my goodness I remember carrying eggs to the store. Maybe a nickel or ten cents a dozen, but we'd take it down there and buy coffee and sugar. That's about all we could buy, coffee and sugar. Coffee. Raised our wheat. Had to raise wheat, had our flour, had our meal, corn meal for our bread. Coffee and sugar was about all we had to buy. Had to carry a dozen eggs off that mountain, five cents and ten cents a dozen.
Christie:Is there any thing else you would like to tell me?
Waucella:Yeah, I'd like to tell you about my school days.
Waucella:We didn't have nice schoolhouses then down there Rocky Gap. We was one house sitting there. Just above the church there. It had three rooms in it. And I went to school there about first or second grade. I guess that's where I started. The first diptheria shot I got was in that building. It took five to hold me. And then there was another old chain of a thing. It was just plain old boards on up there. I went to school in there and then they built part of the upper schoolhouse and I went to school there and graduated there. On an old stage.
Christie:What year did you graduate?
Waucella:1939. They was building part of the, what use to be the auditorium.
Waucella:Yeah, I want to talk about what did we do to play with when I was growing up. We'd always found something. Me and my brother we'd play together.
Christie:What did you get into?
Waucella: Everything. We'd play marbles.We'd take our marbles and bury them under the house.We'd crawl up under the house.It was set up off the ground. we'd bury our marbles under there. I guess some of them are still there. We'd bury some money under there too.
Christie:Why did you bury your money for?
Waucella:To be in something. And I remember one Christmas. Now that Christmas I got a present. I was about five years old and mom and dad took a load of turkeys. They had killed turkeys and took them to Bluefield in the wagon the day before. It was pretty, it had been so cold and snowy but it was pretty that day and water running down the little ditches and a like where the snow was melting. Well, my brother and I kinda knew about Santa Claus so we was hunting Santa Claus. We'd know that mom and dad had gotten Santa Clause. Of course, I was tailing along with him and helping him. He'd know what he was looking for. We even look that whole house over and couldn't find anything. Finally, we went up into house part where we kept the meat and stuff and had a big old box that they had called the flour box and take wheat have ground in big old sacks of wheat had ground they put in that big old box but they didn't have any in it that year because they didn't have any wheat. And it had a big old heavy lid on it. It took us both to lift the lid up. We tippy toed lifted the lid up. We saw our presents down in there. I had a doll and I don't remember what he had. Maybe a knife or something but we saw some candy and candy was something buddy you didn't get back then. Well he was going to try to get us some candy.Found an old stick or something and tried to get it but couldn't. I was going to hold the lid up and held crawl down in and he crawled down to see what all we had and he showed me that doll. Buddy,I dropped that lid on him, pinned him up in that box. I run told mom that we had found Santa Clause and I was going to get a doll. She said, "Well where is Bub?" I said, "Well he's up there in the box with the toys..' She had to go and let him out. That morning I got up bright and early. There was my doll. I said, "Mom that's the doll me and Bub found. That's the one Santa Claus brought me." I had another doll. Oh, maybe 12 inches long, but just a little one. I had two shoeboxes laying it around against the bed. Mom and dad had went to get the couch. Me and Bub was sitting playing with it and I broke that doll and I went to screaming. They heard me screaming and they thought we was dying. They came running back and saw what happened. They liked to of but of course didn't but felt like whipping me but they felt sorry for me so they didn't whip me. But I remember that little doll.
I remember one time, I was going to go milk the cow. Had to go all over creation to hunt the cows up. Children got out the way we was going that day and they had killed a black snake. They put it in a bag. well, nothing to him for me to go with them. I had to go help get the cows. Here I went. I was fussing about something but I don't know what was going, walking along. Had my head down and all at once I saw that snake. I was right on it. Buddy, I went to screaming and jumping. Everytime I'd jump up, when I hit the ground I'd scream. Mom came running to see what was wrong. Bub was sneaking behind an said, "Just saw an old dead, black snake." He didn't get any more black snakes to scare me with. But we had a good time. believe kids had better times back then than they do now. Matter of fact I know they do.
Waucella: No, I guess that's all. I've blabbed enough.
Christie: How about that time that cow kicked you?
Waucelia: Well, a cow had a little calf and I was going to milk them. Had her in the barn. I went to put her in with the calf to let it eat and I was going to finish milking. But when I went to put her out, the calf got out and I went to put it back in and couldn't get it back in so I turned around to fasten the gate of a thing to keep her out of the stall and when I turned around I guess she butted me, I don't know. All I remember is turning around. Next thing I know I was sitting down. My leg was sticking out. She had already hit me in the face. So she was going to come at me again, knowed I couldn't get up. And the big old doors to the shed had two buttons on it, one at the top and one across. I looked up at those buttons and said, "Oh Lord, help me.... the old cow come at me and them doors flew open as pretty just as you please. No one could open them as pretty as they flew open. She(an angel) got me on to the outside and old dog heard me holler and he come up there and got her off me and I scooted a long ways. I sit down and scooted a long ways and I climbed up on a rail fence. I looked back and saw both cows and I thought she was going to come after me so I climbed up rail fence. I don't know how in the world I got up there, but I got up on it. And I could see our neighbor across the creek, so I hollered and hollered. Pete and Mary was down at the house, they were just little. Charlie Gregory had gone somewhere to walk up the road to feed and I hollered and hollered, no one come. Sat there awhile and saw one of the neighbors that lived on up the road, come through the gate, the yard gate and I hollered. He looked up and saw me and he'd come up there and got me and carried me to the house. They had to call an ambulance to take me to the hospital. Pete and Mary stayed with John and Pauline Gregory, didn't you. I had to have three or four operations before I could walk.
Christie:Is that all?
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