Joey Begley interviews his mom in the spring of 2001.
Joey: Hello my name is Joseph Begley and I’m interviewing Mrs. Edna Conley at Bland and the day is April 15, 2001. How are you doing today Mrs. Conley?
Mrs. Conley: I’m doing fine.
Joey: Thank you for letting me do this interview.
Mrs. Conley: Your welcome.
Joey: Where and when were you born?
Mrs. Conley: I was born at the home place on the forth month the twenty-first day thirty-four.
Joey: Was there a doctor around?
Mrs. Coney: I think there was. His name would have been Dr. Davison. One midwife Mrs. Kate Morehead.
Joey: Who were your mother and father?
Mrs. Conley: My father was Mitchell French my mother was Birdie Sanders French.
Joey: Do you know were they were born and raised?
Mrs. Conley: Uh my mother came from Kegley I suppose that’s where she was born and my dad was born in Bland county.
Joey: What did they do for a living?
Mrs. Conley: My dad my dad uh worked in timberwoods they bootlegged some in other words they made liquor and my mom was a housewife worked out around the farm.
Joey: What are some of your favorite memories?
Mrs. Conley: Of who my dad my mom or?
Mrs. Conley: Well memories are precious when you’re thinking about your parents and the things they done for you. How they took you to church and done those kind of things.
Joey: Who were your grand parents?
Mrs. Conley: On my dads side we always knowed him as Mitch French and Lisa Jean Clark French on my moms. side George Sanders and Molly Sanders.
Joey: Would you happen to know were they were born and raised?
Mrs. Conley: No I don’t know.
Joey: That’s ok. What did they? Do you know what they did for a living?
Mrs. Conley: No not really.
Joey: Do you have any memories of them?
Mrs. Conley: Well I can remember working with them in the fields and sometimes my grandpa would peck you on the head with his fingers
Joey: Did that hurt?
Mrs. Conley: Yeah.
Joey: Did he do it a lot?
Mrs. Conley: Uh occasionally.
Joey: Where were you raised at?
Mrs. Conley: Here in Bland county.
Joey: Did you have any brothers or sisters?
Mrs. Conley: Yes I have uh I had uh three sisters and three brothers and I did have one brother passed away before I was born.
Joey: Who was the meanest?
Mrs. Conley: I’m not sure.
Joey: What are earliest memories of where you were raised?
Mrs. Conley: Such as what?
Joey: Like what you did for fun when you were small?
Mrs. Conley: Well we ah we played handme over. That would be throwing a ball over the house and going around in a chase and hitting them with a ball. We played think we played marbles we played jack rocks and uh jump rope.
Joey: How do you play marbles?
Mrs. Conley: What?
Joey: How do you play marbles?
Mrs. Conley: You ah lay the marbles down on the ground and take one and shoot them out of align.
Joey: How do you play jack rocks?
Mrs. Conley: You take and spread them out on the floor or table and pitch a ball up and reach down and pick up ever how many you suppose to and then catch the ball.
Joey: Before it hits the ground.
Mrs. Conley: No it has to hit just one time and it comes down and hits the second time and grab as many as you can before the ball hits again.
Joey: Can you describe the toys you played with?
Mrs. Conley: Well back then we were poor people and we didn’t have a lot of toys uh in fact not anything much at all use to take a corn cob and make me a doll out of it take one of the old men’s socks and make me a cut the top off of their sock and make me a dress for my doll.
Joey: Where they’re any storytellers in your family?
Mrs. Conley: Any what?
Joey: Any storytellers in your family?
Mrs. Conley: Uh I can remember when my uncle would come to our house and I think they would set and tell stories and sometimes I remember they’d tell about my grandpa a meeting a bear and he had one of his children on his shoulder and he set it down and got a big rock and was aiming to hit the bear with it. Its about all all I remember that. I remember them telling about a panther but I cant remember exactly what it was about the panther
Joey: Tell me about your chores around the house?
Mrs. Conley: Uh we had to help cook we had to help clean house we would get out and help pick greens and go and get corn to cook and we had to carry water from down in under a hill and get out and work in the corn field wash dishes scrub the floors we back when I was little we didn’t have rugs on the floor like people do today so we would scrub the floors.
Joey: Which was your least favorite chore?
Mrs. Conley: I would say hoeing in the cornfield or may be carrying water up the hill cause we had to carry it up the hill a right good piece.
Joey: What would be your most favorite chore you had to do?
Mrs. Conley: Um I’m not sure about that.
Joey: Ok. Describe your house?
Mrs. Conley: It wasn’t it wasn’t anything fancy it wasn’t all it wasn’t all fixed. We had a living room and bedroom together where mom and dad slept then we had two other bedrooms. and a kitchen.
Joey: How was the house heated?
Mrs. Conley: With a we had a stove we would get wood we’d go out in the mountains and carry in wood sometimes wed use the horse and haul in wood.
Joey: What did you cook food on?
Mrs. Conley: On a wood cook stove.
Joey: Like a fireplace or something?
Mrs. Conley: No it was just a cook stove you put wood in it and it was flat on top and it had eyes on it and uh I think one of them had a water tank on the end you put water in it and the fire would heat the water up.
Joey: How were your close washed and dried?
Mrs. Conley: Uh we washed on a wash board and we would hang the clothes out on a line to dry.
Joey: Where did you get your hair cut?
Mrs. Conley: We really didn’t do too much of that. I can remember one time that I let my uncle cut my hair. But if any of us got our hair cut or anything like that some of the family did it.
Joey: Did you have an outhouse?
Mrs. Conley: Yes we did.
Joey: What was it like?
Mrs. Conley: It was just a little house built with two places to sit down on.
Joey: Do you have memories of the outhouse on a cold mourning.
Mrs. Conley: Not really.
Joey: Did you have a garden?
Mrs. Conley: Yes we always had a garden and a cornfield.
Joey: What did you grow in your garden?
Mrs. Conley: Uh they would have tomatoes and beans and potatoes and probably peppers and the ordinary things.
Joey: What was your favorite food out of the garden?
Mrs. Conley: I liked I liked greens and corn, potatoes, but I’m the type of person who mostly likes any kind of food.
Joey: Do you remember any home remedies that your parents would use when there was an illness?
Mrs. Conley: Yes they would. My dad would go out and bring a polecat in and they would render it out and if we had a cold they would put uh that grease and the would cook onions and make an onion polis to put on our chest. Sometimes my dad would put maybe liquor in it.
Joey: Did they use herbs or potions?
Mrs. Conley: What?
Joey: Did they use herbs or potions?
Mrs. Conley: I don’t remember.
Joey: Where did you go to school?
Mrs. Conley: I went to Mechanicsburg for maybe two or three years or a year or two and then we moved to back up in bland and I went to Hollybrook school.
Joey: What was school like?
Mrs. Conley: Um it was ok.
Joey: What did you study?
Mrs. Conley: Well mainly back when we went to school we just mainly had the uh rhythmic, spelling, reading, health, and history, and English I believe.
Joey: What did you pack for lunch?
Mrs. Conley: I really can’t remember. Just a sandwich or a back then we didn’t get much light bread so I suppose we just a had a biscuit or something.
Joey: How did you get to school?
Mrs. Conley: We would walk off of the mountain and a catch the school bus.
Joey: Do you remember any of your teachers?
Mrs. Conley: I remember an Mrs. Franklin at Mckanicsburg and an Mrs. Stowers at Hollybrook.
Joey: How did the teachers make the students behave?
Mrs. Conley: I don’t remember they just back then they could spank them or tell them, make them stand in a corner probably.
Joey: Did you ever get in trouble at school?
Mrs. Conley: Yes I forgot to say a while ago there was a little school right above where I am living know and one day this little boy he kept handing me a book and he would tell me to hand it to the girl in front of me and so I, I
Joey: Sorry for that interruption Mrs. Conley. Can you continue with the story about the little boy?
Mrs. Conley: Yes. This little boy would hand me this book and he wanted me to hand it to the girl in front of me and the girl in front of me was taking a test an of coarse I was little and went ahead a did it and it got me into trouble and I got a whipping.
Joey: How were holidays celebrated at school?
Mrs. Conley: I don’t remember. I can remember like Easter we would hunt eggs and outside of that I don’t remember. Valentines Day I remember that we would exchange valentines or give we would give out valentines and they would uh give us valentines.
Joey: Do you remember any fun stories.or pranks that were pulled?
Mrs. Conley: No I don’t
Joey: Did your school put on programs?
Mrs. Conley: Yes but I don’t remember too much about that.
Joey: When were when you were a child what games did you play?
Mrs. Conley: I believe that we went over that a while ago. Jack rocks, and stuff like that.
Joey: Did you play in the creeks in the summer?
Mrs. Conley: Ah we really didn’t live close to a creek if we was ever were one was at we might have got in the water I can remember my dad a taking me swimming taking us swimming one time and he was trying to teach me how to swim and he turned me loose and I went down to I guess to the bottom and came back up.
Joey: Did you fish?
Mrs. Conley: Maybe occasionally I wasn’t a lot for fishing I would go once and awhile but my sister was the one that she liked to go fishing.
Joey: Did you ride sleds in the winter and build bonfires and have snowball fights?
Mrs. Conley: I, we never had no bonfires that I remember but they would make us a little sled and we would ride on the sled and a that’s about it.
Joey: How did teenagers court when you were young?
Mrs. Conley: The boy would come and see you. You would set maybe in a room and talk and a of coarse when I was old enough to go with somebody we would go to church and things like that. Oh when I first met the man that I married he was setting behind me and I would through spit wads at him
Joey: Did you. Did the ever show movies in your community?
Mrs. Conley: Not that I know of. But if they did we would not have been aloud to go.
Joey: How did you meet your husband?
Mrs. Conley: In church.
Joey: Where were you married?
Mrs. Conley: I was married at Perisburg in the preacher’s home.
Joey: Tell me about the ceremony? Like who attended?
Mrs. Conley: Just the preacher and maybe his wife I’m not sure. My sister in law well atleast I thought she was my sister in law bu a she didn’t get married till after I did.
Joey: Did you go on a honeymoon?
Mrs. Conley: No.
Joey: What was your husband’s name?
Mrs. Conley: James Albert Conley.
Joey: How many children did you have?
Mrs. Conley: I had five children my husband passed away like on the fourth of December and my baby was born on the thirty first of December.
Joey: What were their names and where were they born?
Mrs. Conley: My oldest son was Albert Michael Conley he was born at Perisburg the second one was Anthony Barry Conley he was born at Perisburg. My third one was Steve Wayne Conley he was born at Perisburg .my oldest daughter Dorcas Annie Conley was born at Bluefield sanitarium. Rebecca Spring was born at Bluefield sanitarium and James Pete was born at a Bluefield Hospital too.
Joey: Do you think it was easy, easier to raise children back then than it is today?
Mrs. Conley: Well they, we didn’t have as much but it was all right.
Joey: What was the community that you lived in like when you were growing up? What businesses were there?
Mrs. Conley: Well ah in our part around here they was a couple of little country stores and the place were they was at was called pumpkin center that’s about all they other stores like Hollybrook RockyGap I think but there was two right here in our community.
Joey: Were did teenagers hang out?
Mrs. Conley: I suppose they hung out around the store and sometimes they would go to church.
Joey: What was the weather like?
Mrs. Conley: well sometimes it in the winter time it was really bad I can remember ah snow drifts blowing and would be higher than my head and my uncle would dig a tunnel through the a snow drift to get back into his house to carry in wood.
Joey: Do you remember any bad storms. or floods?
Mrs. Conley: No just like I said there about winters sometimes the snow would get pretty deep sometimes a thunder storm would be bad and might wash out some ditches down through the field.
Joey: Tell me about how your family celebrated Christmas?
Mrs. Conley: Well I really can’t. I really don’t know too much to say on that because we never got a lot. Dad would go to town and get us a little box with these uh bath salts and things like that. When I was littler he walked across a mountain and brought us back a little, just a little back then we would have thought it was a doll but it was more so of a whatnot.
Joey: Did you all have a Christmas tree?
Mrs. Conley: I don’t remember any Christmas tree.
Joey: Did you have a meal. Special meals for like Christmas?
Mrs. Conley: I suppose my mom she was real good about making like a sweets she would maybe have the things to make a cake like people do today she done it on her own she could make a really good cake she made some of the best banana pudding I ever eat.
Joey: What about Halloween .Do you remember any pranks that were played or heard about any of them?
Mrs. Conley Well sometimes us young girls we would tie a string across the road and hear a car a coming and I think we’d jump over the bank and hide.
Joey: What would happen when you did that?
Mrs. Conley: It didn’t stop the car because it wasn’t a big thread but we might have thought it would have did something but it wasn’t I guess the cars went on they didn’t see us they probably didn’t see the string.
Joey: What other holidays were celebrated in your house?
Mrs. Conley: Christmas, Easter, and Fourth of July.
Joey: What about Valentines Day?
Mrs. Conley: There wasn’t much going on then we would just send valentines to, take them to school and give them out.
Joey: Who was the first president you can remember?
Mrs. Conley: I think the first I’m not sure maybe Eisenhower I'm not sure.
Joey: What kind of music did you listen to?
Mrs. Conley: Probably. Probably the biggest would be bluegrass.
Joey: Did people I the community make music?
Mrs. Conley: Just the thing I could remember would be at church piano and guitar music something like that.
Joey: When did you get your first radio?
Mrs. Conley: After I got married.
Joey: What was it like?
Mrs. Conley: Maybe you would like me to tell you about the radios that my dad had. He had a radio and it ran by a big battery a great big battery cause when I was little we didn’t have electricity and so the radio was run by a big battery then when I was about maybe twelve something like that we got electricity.
Joey: What were some of your favorite shows? That came on the radio.
Mrs. Conley: Perry Mason, Young Widow Brown and just stories like that that come on in the evening.we use to listen to them and in between in between commercials we’d run out and do things we needed to do like gather up something to cook or get in some wood.
Joey: When did you first get electricity?
Mrs. Conley: I don’t remember the year. I think I was about ten or twelve.something like that.
Joey: Did it change your life?
Mrs. Conley: Well it helped us see better.
Joey: When did you get a telephone?
Mrs. Conley: After I was married.
Joey: How did it work? Did it work like our phones do today?
Mrs. Conley: Yeah
Joey: Were there party lines?
Mrs. Conley: Yeah
Joey: What were party lines?
Mrs. Conley: Party lines two people on the line. Two or three.
Joey: When did you first get television?
Mrs. Conley: I never believed to much in television and a my a the dumpster was behind my house and one day a woman brought one there that was mest up and she gave it to my son at the dump and he brought it home and from then my husband bought one.
Joey: How did people around here feel about President Truman?
Mrs. Conley: I don’t know.
Joey: Did people support the Korean War?
Mrs. Conley: I dont know that either.
Joey: Did any of your family have to fight in the Korean War?
Mrs. Conley: I think it was my brother who was in the Korean War. Mckinley.
Joey: Did you all miss him?
Mrs. Conley: Yes.
Joey: How did you feel about President Eisenhower?
Mrs. Conley: I don’t know I just I wasn’t into things like that much.
And I really don’t know that much about him.
Joey: Were there good times in Bland county during the nineteen-fifties?
Mrs. Conley: Probably I really don’t know.
Joey: What did you think about President Kennedy?
Mrs. Conley: I don’t think I cared all that much about him maybe he was all right.
Joey: Where were you when you heard that he had been shot?
Mrs. Conley: I lived in Princeton I was either at home or visiting a friend when we heard it.
Joey: How did you feel?
Mrs. Conley: Maybe shocked.
Joey: How did people feel about President Johnson?
Mrs. Conley: I don’t know see I cant tell you a lot about it cause I wasn’t so much into politics and stuff like that and I never really talked about it all that much.
Joey: Did any of your family fight in the Vietnam War?
Mrs. Conley: I had a brother that was in the war but he never had to go over seas he stayed over here in America.
Joey: Do you remember much about President Nixon and Watergate?
Mrs. Conley: No I heard sketches of it but I don’t know much about it.
Joey: What kind of shape is the country in today in your opinion? Have things changed for better or for worse?
Mrs. Conley: I'm not sure it seems. like things are not the best and according to the bible its not going to get a lot better.
Joey: Is there anything else you would like to add about life in Bland county?
Mrs. Conley: Well Bland County is my favorite I've been away I’ve lived I North Carolina I've lived in Giles County and a but and I've lived in West Virginia but Bland's my favorite.
Joey: Is there any advice you would give young people today?
Mrs. Conley: Well my advice would be that people stay away from drinking, doping, going out and doing the wrong kind if things with young people, having a relationship, and get saved and live for God because Jesus is soon coming back.
Joey: I’d like to thank you for doing this interview today Mrs. Conley.
Mrs. Conley: Your welcome
This interviewed was prepared for the internet by Pam Roberts and John Phillips.
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