Betty Hall 308

Interview of Betty Hall by Adam Goforth (narration by Amanda Sargent)

 My name is Betty Hall and I was born and raised in Bland County on Clearfork. My mother and father were Harry and Beulah Stowers. My Dad was born in here in Bland County and Mom was from Montgomery County in Radford, VA. Dad worked on the railroad for a long time and also farmed. 

As kids we always had a lot of farm work to do. We also had chores and when we were asked to do something we went ahead and done it without any question and did our job just as we were asked to do. My dad was strict to a certain extent, you could tell by the tone of his voice when he meant what he wanted to say. Mom was different, she would always threaten but she would never carry out her word. She would go and cut a limb off a tree but she never would use it.

Good memories were mostly of home. The only place that we went was to church because Dad didn’t like to take all of us on a trip, all seven of us. As a matter of fact, the first four of us grew up together and the last three did the same. So, the only people that have a lot of good memories with are my last two sisters because they grew up with me.

My grandparents were Daniel and Beatrice Stowers. My granddad was a carpenter, he made furniture and I think he also worked on the railroad.

I have two brothers and four brothers. I was raised here on Clearfork, I was born in the house that we live in, as a matter of fact, and the doctor would come to the house to make deliveries. The house was large; we had four bedrooms upstairs and four rooms down stairs. We were usually at the stairway, it was fun because we had the banister to play, you know slide down on. We had running water. We washed our clothes with an old ringer type washer. My older sister or mother would cut my hair at home. We had an outhouse but I never used it, it was closed before I was born.

For fun, oh we always found something to do. We always had something to do if we had a basketball. We would play any type of game. We’ve made games, as a matter of fact, have you every tried to roll an iron wheel with another piece of iron to make it roll? During the summer we would always stay outside and play in the water, what we called the creek. It is the Clearfork Creek. In the winter we would build bon fires, ride sleds, and had big snow ball fights.

We always had chores around the house. Always gardening or cutting the grass or hoeing the cornfields and putting up hay.  I never carried very much for any of the chores. But, if I had a choice I would much rather go out side and work. The chore that I disliked the most was feeding the animals; I never did much care for those chores.

We always kept a garden. We always had potatoes, corn, green beans, and vegetables for canning. That was another chore that we had to do or to help mother with during the summer. My favorite was, well I always liked vegetables, but chicken is my favorite meat.

I went to school in a very small one. As a matter of fact I graduated from the last class of Rocky Gap the graduated in the 11th grade. I graduated in 1960, we were the last class to go 11 years and then the 12th year was added in 1961. We always studied English and math, algebra was given to us but that was as far as the math would go with us. We had to pack our lunch because the cafeteria burned down in 1954. That is why I don’t eat luncheon meat today. My favorite teacher was my 5th grade teacher, Miss Hazel Stowers because she was my neighbor. I used to get into trouble in school.

The principal moved down to the high school, now I believe that was in 55 or 56. Of course you had your classes to go to for the bell to ring. It was the last class of the morning and we were going to lunch, well myself and another girl stayed in the restroom a little bit longer so we were caught in the hall way when the bell rang. Well the principal caught us in the hall so we had to write an essay about why we were late and not in the classroom when the bell rang. No one played any pranks that I can recall at this time.

When we were teenagers we courted a lot different than they do today. When I started dating the boy come to the house and stayed. He didn’t have a car but he could drive, I believe. Like I said he didn’t have a car so we stayed at the house and if we went anywhere we double dated. We always found someone who had a car.  We started seeing movies in grade school, that’s where we saw a lot of westerns. With John Wayne and someone else who I can’t remember their name. I guess that my favorite actor would have to be John Wayne. All the western movies were brought to the school and that is when my little boyfriend would pay my way in. Well my favorite movie star overall is Paul Newman. The first movie I went to see is the one with Jerry Lewis and his partner, I forget the name of it but they were on a sip and you know how Jerry Lewis could make all those faces and scream. It was in Bluefield at the uh it’s one of the theaters, the Colonial or something like that. It wasn’t very expensive; as a matter of fact my sister and her husband took us to see the movie.

It seemed like the winter months was a little bit colder, we always had snow. We missed a lot of school and, as a matter of fact, the school bus, when we did go to school, the bus would have to have chains on the tires. There was a big flood in 1957 that’s why the house is where it is today. It was sitting right over there in the middle of the field next to the water and the water got around it and my brother just moved it. He had it moved over here and had it put up on a, well he built a basement.

Your family celebrated Christmas with a tree and decorations. We also had gifts and food. The presents we got were always like dolls or teddy bears, now I wasn’t too interested in too many dolls but I always liked teddy bears. As long as I can remember, up until my dad passed away the family killed hogs on Thanksgiving Day and we always had a good meal, we never did have turkey too often but we did have the chicken or pork or whatever.  I always remember coming down the steps and peaking through the railings, trying to see Santa Clause.

Now we always went to school when we celebrated Halloween, we had the, well what they called the Halloween carnival and when I was real young they had a school bus to come up this road, I don’t know if it went to other places but it would always pick us up and keep mother from taking us to the Halloween carnival and it would be in what is now the grade school, but back then they had an auditorium. We always got Easter hats for Easter, and we would celebrate Valentine’s Day.

I can remember when Eisenhower was elected. I can also remember when the stock market crashed. We got our first radio well, gosh; mom and dad always had a radio in the house that I can remember, I guess uh, when they first moved over here from Bluefield. They lived in Bluefield for about a year and I guess that was in 38’, yeah 1938 to 1940.  We got our first phone in the 50’s. It was the old type, it set on a table. It was black, they didn’t have any colors. We got our first television in 52, you know how I remember, and it was because of the inauguration of Eisenhower. Oh, TV has changed things a lot, I always liked to watch television but we were limited. My dad would always let us watch cartoons and we watched Howdy Doody.

I can’t remember when Pearl Harbor was bombed. But I remember was when my older brother went to the Korean War. Well I don’t know if it was a war, I think it was a conflict. President Eisenhower was ok I guess. I always liked President Kennedy, especially to hear him speak. I was at work at the Bastian Sports wear, at the time that is what it was called, but it was a Tultex. I didn’t hear to many comments on Johnson, my father wouldn’t make too many, as a matter of fact, well dad passed away in 68 so Johnson was elected in 63, well he was brought into office in 63, so we didn’t hear to much about Johnson in our household.I remember the water Gate with President Nixon to but I won’t comment on that.

My husband and I were high school sweethearts.  We were in the same grade. We were married in Bland by a minister. We didn’t have a church wedding; we just went to the minister’s house. I was so nervous that I can’t even remember what the service was like. We didn’t go on a honeymoon.  His name is Ray Hall.

We had two children a boy and a girl. Charles was born in 1965 and Melissa was born in 1972. I believe that it was easier to raise children back then, much easier than it is now.

Back then Rocky Gap way very small. If you think it’s small now you should have seen it back then. You knew all of your neighbors, not like you do now. The only thing that we had was a bank and that’s the large brick building there as you come out of Clearfork. It’s all torn down now.

Well I think right now. Gosh. It well for what you hear, it seems like the economy is in a lot of turmoil, or what you hear and read but it is given to us through the bible that it is always going to take place. Things are about even, they haven’t gotten better, but they haven’t gotten worse either.

Well I have always lied to live in Bland County so; I guess I’ll stay until my old age. Some advice that I would give to young people would be to always get as much education as you can. If at all ossible, go to college because it will help you in the years to come.

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