Archie Kidd 414

Interview done by Tiffany Griffith with Archie and Nell Kidd. (Narration by Tiffany Griffith)

My name is Archie Kidd and, my farm was about a hundred and twenty-five acres all together, I’d say about 1/3 of it was farming land and pasture and the rest was mountain land. There was some timber on my land, small timber, but most of it was mining stuff. We got our water from a spring that comes out of the mountain over there, free stone water. We never had much trouble about the water freezing, this water here won’t hardly freeze, it runs, no we never did have much trouble about that. We lived in a two-story house just an old frame house with weatherboard. The foundation was sitting on rock and the timbers you know, went across it. We heated the house with an old wood fireplace, because we didn’t have electricity and no phone, and we used an outhouse.

We planted our potatoes about the first of April, we went by the moon, most of the time we planted Kenny backs. We planted our sweet corn about the first of May, we had an outside cellar, we canned all of our stuff back then, we canned garden stuff, we put our potatoes in there and such as that in them days. We had plenty of fruit trees back in them days, pears and apples and peaches. Mother used to make leather breeches, my mother did the canning, she used a wood stove.

When I was a kid we started our work at about 8:00 till about 6:00 at night or something like that when we ended. We had milk cows back in them days, we milked them by hand, and we made butter, bread butter. Kids back in them days worked mostly but for fun we used to play ball, or go swimming in the summer or something like that for fun. We played regular baseball back in them days, with a regular bat, I don’t know who made it but it was a wooden bat, and the ball was a regular ball. We didn’t have no toys back in them days. 
My family didn’t go to church every Sunday but they was pretty regular going, the church we went to when I was a kid burnt down, it was right this side of the church down here now, the old church burnt down and we started going to the other church. The services were good in them days, good people; we usually wore overall pants and a work shirt to church. People visited each other a lot more in them days than we do today, I liked to see my friends but we didn’t have any nighttime activities at school like basketball. People don’t visit much any more today because there are to many ol’ cars, people now days get in their car and go to town.
The buildings we had on the farm were barns, corncribs, and chicken houses, we had just a mixed bunch of chickens in our chicken houses, we had dominickers and black ones and all just different ones. We raised beef cattle, we had mostly Herferds, we had feed for our cows, we raised our own feed. We didn’t go to a market hardly any back then we bred our cows. In the wintertime we fed the cows hay and fauder. When we went to the market we went to Tazewell. We also raised hogs on our farm; we had two different kinds Bertchers, and Hampshers. My father and I would kill the hogs ourselves.

They would just build a fire and get a scalding barrel to scald them in. We would hang them up and dress them out, then cut them up and put them in the smokehouse. We didn’t have no refrigerator, and no freezer. Then we would salt them down and make sausage. We had two workhorses, we didn’t ride them for fun very often and we really didn’t help take care of them much either. We didn’t have no tractors back then either.
We raised wheat and corn, oats, and we made molasses. We planted the molasses and they growed up, and then we bladed them pulled the blades off of them, then we cut that cane, we had a mill we run that through it put the juice out in the tub and we had a big pan and we laid it on the furnace, we poured our juice in there cooked it down and sold it for a dollar a gallon. Prices these days are a lot different from back then, we was lucky to get a dollar a day, yeah we was lucky. The prices in the stores has gone plumb out of site, we raised five boys and we went to the store about onced a week bought up the soda and baking powders and some sugar and we raised the rest of our stuff canned it up that’s way we lived back then. We cut wood back in them days with what I always called a cross cut, 6 foot blade with a handle on each side, and it takes two people. That was a pretty good job on the farm, but I’d say putting up hay was about the best. My least favorite job was blading cane, that’s when you just strip the blades off of it.

I think farmers really quite farming around here cause they couldn’t make a living off a farm after so many years, we couldn’t hardly make a living off of the farm after the children all just started school and I had to get a job and live on public work. I still we had to get out and public work. My grandfather owned the mill where we sometimes worked, it was a two story building out there, you ground your wheat it went up in Upstairs and went through a volt and made flour and we ground corn, we ground a bushel of corn in about three minutes. There’s a saw mill there we used the saw mill, we’d saw about three thousand feet a day of lumber on that saw mill and everything ran by water power. We had two workers at the mill most of the time.
We walked to school about a mile and a half every day, the old school house is right this side of the bridge down there first bridge on the right, at Grapefield. There was about twenty of us there, most of all of us was kin people yeah I’d say about 20 went to school there and we all had a good time, and one time it was fellers down the creek was coming to the mill out here they hollered apple butter at us as we used to take apple butter on our biscuits, to school, they hollered apple butter at us and we got to throwin rocks at em’. There was another school on down there below Johnny and Gerald’s just a little ways on the left of the road back up in there it’s where they went to school. I guess Johnny and Gerald and Luke Carter and Helen, Lucy and Pearl, that’s all I know, it’s been a long time ago.

Kids back in them days played a lot together, that’s all we had to do back in them days, we had no where to go. We used to play horseshoes that was a good game for us. We also used to play on the merry go round. Most of the time my mother always had a big dinner on Sundays and we always had company. People don’t gather together much anymore because they can just run to the mall. She usually had two big tables full for dinner on Sunday it was always a big crowd there. It was plenty to eat too.
When I was working on the tunnel, they was cleaning timber off of it, well I, I cut the timber off of it, of the soil, and then we filled them holes, they drilled holes at the top of the mountain, and then we put the dynamite and stuff down in them holes. I can’t remember anybody ever getting killed working on the tunnel. I worked on the Big Walker Mountain Tunnel. Driving through the tunnel instead of over the mountain was a lot faster; it made it about thirty minutes quicker. I think the tunnel coming through might have contributed to why people don’t stay around here much. Boys back then done a lot of fishing. There was a lot of fish back in them days, we done a lot of fishing, till bedtime. There was a lot of fish in the creek back in them days, yep lots of fish.
I was young during the depression and it was hard to get stuff back then, you couldn’t hardly get nothing. I think the depression affected us around here too yes. I can remember when you could go to a gas station and buy your gas for about 12 cents a gallon.  In order for us to date back then we had to go to each other’s houses, and I had to walk across the mountain to Tazewell. We had one store up through the valley, but in them days you would only need one store. People didn’t hang out at the store then like they do today, they just went there to get their groceries. Back in them days we didn’t average onced a month, We’d go to Bland to pay our taxes. 
We used to plow gardens in Bluefield, we had a team of horses, I drove them horses across the mountain here, across East River the old dirt road, and go to way down in Bluefield Virginia there, we had a barn there we’d put our horses in that barn and we’d me and my daddy stay in the basement over there the house basement, and we’d get out and plow about all day, and we was lucky to make 50 dollars a day. We plowed for the local people in Bluefield. We’d hook the horses to the plow, one drive the other one plow hold to the handles and we got a plow we had an old ahare we took that hare over the garden leveled it out. We got a lot of blisters and we got dirty, went a whole week and never take a bath.

When we first got married we lived with Archie's parents because we didn’t have a home and we finally got enough money together to but this little house up here where James lives it was only two rooms, we raised four kids in there we had five but Archie’s grandmother raised James, well we had six our little girl died so, she just lived six days, but anyways we had it pretty rough for a while but when the kids started school, Kenneth he got after me one day with a black snake he ran down the road and I couldn’t catch him, and I hollered at him, I said all right you just wait until your daddy gets home, he laughs about that yet, It was, It was fun you know growing up like that with the kids all real close together, from 44, 45, 46, 48, 50, and 54, so they were all real close together and we had, we was piled up, up there in that little two room house, but we, we survived. Having a baby back then was nothing, according to what it is now cause we paid 25 dollars for five of them but Richard cost us 35. Now that’s the way it was back then just look what it cost you now, you reckon there worth it? I hope so anyway. Another story about my kids is one day they were playing up there and one of them, a lets see it was Richard threw something and hit Darrel in the eye with it, we had to take him to the hospital and I had to spend the night in the hospital with him, and then later he had to have surgery on… no no no they wanted to do surgery on his eye because he had, they said he had a lazy eye, that was Darrel, we never did have that done, but now that was kindly scary because we didn’t know whether he had put his eye out or not. Another time one of them threw a rock and hit the other one in the head. Had his head bleeding and, they had their ups and downs. I can’t really say that children were more well behaved back then, because sometimes they got pretty rambunxious. My kids helped on the farm some when they were younger, they helped grow corn and they helped in the garden some, and I believe one or two of them milked the cow a little bit every once in a while. Yeah they milked the cow and helped get wood in to keep the fires going, yeah they done pretty good. From what I see kids today don’t help their parents as much as they used to. We worried about our kids back then when they were playing, but back then, I mean they wasn’t quite as many animals as what they is now, you know like lions and bears and stuff to worry about. We didn’t have coyotes and stuff then, but they say there here now. Some of my kids liked to hunt deer and stuff, but some of them didn’t have any interest in it.  I remember when we first got our tractor, it was several years ago but the first one they got was sort of a partnership wasn’t it? Him and his brother or him and his dad or something, I don’t know how they had it but anyway we got our own now. We’ve lived in this house since 66’ we had this one built. This is where his grandmother used to live and they tore her old house down and built this one. The old home place is right up here where the Henderson’s used to live. They tore the old house down we used to live in, and built that other house. Your land did not used to belong to us; down on below you is Otho and them just up in here and then down below Othos is that field where Mickey and Michaels got now, and then some on down towards the church. The mill was right across the road, and there used to be the old county road it would come right up through here, through Andersons and came right over the top of the hill, Old horse and buggy or horse and wagons. Most of this land was cleared when we settled here best I can remember. When they cleared off a spot that hadn’t been cleared before it was new ground. Back then you didn’t have to wait to plant corn on it, back in them days they had just a horse and the bulson plows see it was one plow pull was about that big, that’s the way they got it up when they planted corn in there.  We didn’t have a lot of animals eating the corn back then not like it is now. A lot of people just quite raising a garden on account of the deer cause they couldn’t have anything. I think being able to go to the store and get your food instead of growing it has made a big change in the number of farmers around here to.    

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