I’m Mrs. Wanda Reynolds and I was born in Bland County at home in 1942. My mother and father were Ida Burton and Robert Burton. They were both born and raised on Walkers Creek Road. My dad was a carpenter and a farmer, and then later on in life he worked at the Correctional Center and he was the supervisor for the carpentry work there. And my mother was a stay at home mom. Thank goodness.
When they made my dad, they broke the mold. He was funny, funny, funny. And had a dry sense of humor that just was unbelievable at times. He was very particular about the work that he did. Since he was a carpenter, he could do beautiful woodwork, and very, very particular about that. And really about everything he did. If he was farming, if he was back in the days when they did haystacks, you know, it had to be perfect. Like my granddad. So, but his dry sense of humor is probably what he’s famous for.
My mother, well, she was the kindest, sweetest woman that ever could be. And patient. She had patience of Job. And of course, I was the only child, so I guess they doted on me, and I was the only grandchild on both sides of the family.
One of my earliest memories would be going to church. It was Walkers Creek Methodist Church, and our family gave the land for it to be built on. And everybody in the community, I supposed donated and whatever. And that was built, and it was dedicated in 1922. I was taken to church, now I say I was taken... of course it was only just up the driveway, really, from our home.
We had all kinds of programs at Easter and at Christmas. A friend of mine, down the road, Donald Thompson and I always had to sing at the Christmas programs, and we had grand time. And we had ice cream suppers at that time. In the middle of the summer, when it would be really hot. They would get the huge 5 gallon containers of ice cream, and they’d bring them in, in dry ice, and so that they would be okay until it was time to start the ice cream supper. And all the members of the church brought in their baked goods, and so, it was really a highlight. And we had people come from all over Bland. It was a famous thing to come to the Walkers Creek Ice Cream Supper.
Since I was an only child I didn’t have many chores. I helped wash dishes. I helped to gather vegetables from the garden. Now, I didn’t work the garden, but I helped to gather the vegetables and help clean them and can them and that kind of thing. I did what I could do. And of course as I got older, I could do more. And I will share one little story with you about that.
My mother and I were making Grape jelly. So we had done the juice and that process, and it was cooked, and ready to be put into the cans. The big pot that it happened to be in had a long handle. It had a wooden covering over it, so you wouldn’t get burned. That particular day, the wood slipped, and I had the pot of jelly moving it from the stove over to the table so we could can that, and all of the jelly poured out on the kitchen floor. The jelly had all been spilt and ruined, and there it was on the floor. Then we both got tickled. We laughed, and laughed, and then I guess we cried, but we cleaned up the jelly.
My least favorite chore was being sent to the chicken house to gather the eggs. I hated the chickens. I didn’t like feathers, and still don’t. I’d have to go sometimes to feed the chickens, which wasn’t so bad. But, I always enjoyed going out with the animals. I loved the animals, and I just went along when they fed the animals. They weren’t much on sending me to do that, except the chickens. But I really did enjoy the animals. I always loved it when there were little lambs, or little pigs, or calves.
My home was and still is on Walkers Creek Road. At first it was heated by a cook stove in the kitchen that burned wood. Some years later, we started burning coal. When I was born, we didn’t have electricity or running water, but when I was growing up we finally got those luxuries. Our clothes were washed and dried by my mother and grandmother. They had to wash them on a wash board in a tub of water and rinse them in another tub. Then, they hung them on a clothes line, and hoped that the sun would shine. We also had a two-seater outhouse. In the winter time it wasn’t so pleasant.
My mother and grandmother were marvelous cooks, and really everything that they made was good. I don’t remember not liking anything, except onions. When I was a child, I didn’t want any part of onions. We at brown beans a lot. When we had fresh pork, right after they had killed the hogs, the tenderloin was just a real treat to be able have some of that. They took that, along with the rest of the meat to the cannery.
I went to Bland Elementary and High School when I was younger. I studied the usual subjects. If we were bad, we just usually just lost our recess time. If we did something really bad, then we would gat paddled Behavior wasn’t really bad at the school. If someone got in trouble then they knew their parents would find out, and that kept a lot of kids from getting in trouble. Later on in life, I became a teacher.
Christmas was a big deal back then, and still is today. Santa always came to visit me. Gifts were delivered on Christmas Eve and my other set of grandparents and my aunt and uncle came down from Bland and they came to our house. We always had Christmas Eve at our house, and Santa came to see me. They got to see me open my gifts, and then, on Christmas Day, we could go to Bland, to their house, and have another huge meal. We always had a tree. From the time I was old enough to do this, me and my dad would go out and cut the Christmas tree from the farm and bring it in. He would put it in its stand and we would decorate it. We had decorations from the store. I still have those, that my husband and I use on our tree. We had little plastic Santas and snowmen, shiny, glass balls and icicles, One Christmas, we had spray snow. That didn’t go over very well, because that made too much mess.
I remember lots of snow storms, when the snow would be quite deep. There were several times while I was still in school that I had to stay in Bland with my other set of grandparents in order to go to school, because the snow was so deep that the bus couldn’t get through. The highway department did what they could, but there was only so much that they could do. Over on the ridge coming down to our home, it was a very bad area for snow to drift, and it drifted. So, there might be six foot drifts in the road over there.
I also vividly remember the flood we had in 1957. I hope I have my date right. When Mr. Dunn’s dam broke, it flooded all of Bland. I happened to be at my grandparents house in Bland that day, because they had sent us home from school. I knew that the bus would not be able to get me home, so I stayed up there with them. We stood in their yard, and watched the water come down through town and up into their yard. It did not damage their house. I remember the whole time standing there, watching this disaster, that I was thinking “Okay, all of the rest of my family are below this, and what’s happening down there?” I also knew that the house sat where the creek horseshoes around, so my imagination was running wild. I was very, very worried and concerned about that. When the worst of it was over up in Bland, my uncle walked me down to my house. We walked down the hill until we could get across the creek from our home, and we saw them all out in the yard. They were all out looking, just as everyone else was. The water was so terrific, and there was so much noise from it, we finally were able to yell, and hear one another. They realized we were over on the hill, and to know that everyone was okay. So, then I was fine with that, and we were able to go on back to Bland.
We got our first radio when I was in High School. We got a transistor radio. My grandparents got one of the kinds that was like a cabinet radio. On Saturday Night, we used to listen to the Grand Ol’ Opry. My grandfather always wanted to listen to the news. I believe I was in 7th grade when we got a telephone.