Luke Lambert

Jason: My name is Jason Burton and I'm interviewing Luke Lambert at his home and the date is April 17, 2001. Mr. Lambert where and when were you born?


Luke: I was born November the 29th 1914 right here in the valley. The old house is right down there a short distance right where those box woods is.

Jason: Who was you mother and father?

Luke: James Lambert and Cynthia Stowers Lambert.

Jason: Where were they born and raised?

Luke: They was born over here. My mother on 42 and my dad was too he was just up 42 a little bit farther.

Jason: What did they do for a living?

Luke: Well my mother was a housekeeper she never did work out no where for nobody, or just go help somebody. My dad worked at a little bit of everything saw mill, farm, run steam engines, work on watches, guns, clocks.

Jason: Tell me about your parents, What were some of your favorite memories of them?

Luke: Well they were hard workers tended to their own business, they wasn't messin' into somebody else's business.

Jason: And who were your grandparents?

Luke: Elbert Stowers and uh Ludine Thompson Stowers. They was raised up little further up Ceres up in their near Shewey Valley and Liberty now.

Jason: Can you remember what they did for a living?

Luke: They farmed. He was a farmer, he had this farm over here.

Jason: Do you have any memories of them?

Luke: Well not too much, my Granddaddy Stowers died in 1922. And then uh my grandmother didn't have but a year after that when she died. So I was just small and I don't have too many memories of them. My other grandparents on the Lambert side, I never did see them don't have no memories of them at all.

Jason: Did you have any brothers and sisters?

Luke: Oh yeah.

Jason: Who were they?

Luke: Uh Gray Tarter was the oldest one Mary Hugh Milliron lived in Pulaski, and uh Julie was the next one and he lived around here and farmed and worked at different places, saw mills one thing and another. I had two sisters one died at 5 month old the other at 7. Then I had another, Nanny, she married Newton Tickle down here at Bland, and they was all just housekeepers never worked out nowhere. And uh then I had a brother Elbert he lived out here on Laurel he was born here, and he worked for the state, well he worked around at different places but he winded up working for the highway department. Then I had one Peery he took his life at 50 and I'm the last one. And I'm done past 86.

Jason: Do you remember if you had a nickname?

Luke: Yeah.

Jason: What were some nicknames that you had?

Luke: Custy

Jason: Custy? How did you get that nickname?

Luke: I got it at school.


Jason: Where did you go to church at?

Luke: Where did I go to church at?

Jason: Yeah.

Luke: I went all around different places went years over here at Trinity, and I go now for the last several years to the Bland Community Church, ever since its been built I've went out there, when I was able to go.

Jason: What kind of church activities did you participate in?

Luke: Main thing was Sunday School teacher.

Jason: What was your most meaningful experience in the church?

Luke: Meaningful?

Jason: Yeah

Luke: Well trying to get the gospel explained to people the way I thought it was, and not the way somebody else figured it to be this or that or something else, that's got to be a bad thing this day of time.

Jason: And where were you raised?

Luke: Right here.

Jason: What were some of you earliest memories as a child growing up" Do you remember growing up here what it was like?

Luke: Some of the memories was that we had a hard time getting to school. I had to walk from here out to where the Bland Community Church is, which is about two miles and a half the way we went through the ridge here, and they never closed school for bad days or what not school was open every day rain, snow or what not. And a little feller had a hard time busting the snow going to school.


Jason: Tell me what you did for fun when you were small?

Luke: What I did for fun?

Jason: Yeah.

Luke: Well. There wasn't much anything going around. We'd at summertime or something like that we would gather up and swing on grapevine swings, Winter time we'd ride down the hill on a sled, board, or something of that kind. Play a little baseball maybe. Little croquet something of that kind. And they didn't have much off time then. Everybody had to work, and come with their share. You had your chores to do and you had them to do. You didn't get them done in daylight you did them after dark.

Jason: Can you describe the toys that you played with?

Luke: Uh?

Jason: The toys that you played with can you describe them? Did you ever have any toys.

Luke: Any toys?

Jason: Yeah.

Luke: No, not many. Most thing nearly would be a stick horse. Had a few toys not many.

A Jack Tale

Jason: Do you remember any storytellers in your family?

Luke: Storytellers?

Jason: Yeah. Did you have any storytellers?

Luke: Oh, I've heard a lot of stories.

Jason: What were some of them? Do you remember any of them?

Luke: Well, what do you want? One of my own?

Jason: That's fine. Go ahead.

Luke: Well I can tell you the first time I was ever after dark by myself.

Jason: Tell me that one.

Luke: Had no light. But the moon was a shining it was a little on the light side and uh you could see to travel alright without using a flashlight or anything. And uh we had an old uh dog and they whipped him for following you when you walked somewhere and he wanted to follow, well they'd whip him. And uh didn't matter when you left which way you went or which way you came in, you'd always see him off up here at the top of the ridge somewhere. He wouldn't come to you because he's afraid you'd whip him. Unless you called him with a friendly voice. And I was a coming in that night and I heard a couple old rabbits. I heard them bump their feet on the ground and I know'd what that was. It was in the fall of the year and the leaves was down. And I was coming up the top of the ridge up here and I there was a little curve around the road. and I looked out ahead of me up around that curve and I thought I saw something black up there in the road. I thought it was that old dog and I called him and he never come. I knew it wasn't him. So I didn't know what it was, and I thought what ever it was didn't know I was there and I hollared, made some racket, but that didn't help out none. I could see it going around up there. It looked like a hog or something hunting acorns or chesnuts there in the leaves. Well I didn't want to go back to the field way back behind me and come around off down over the hill and through the fields and come up. I got a little braver. If it didn't bother me I wouldn't bother it. And uh my dad had always said, well now, if you can't figure out what it is it generally isn't nothing. So I made a circle down through the woods and came down the road on this side. It was behind me then. Well when I came back in to the road and looked down there. Well I wanted to know what that thing is. I ventured a little bit down the road. Keep picking up a little more nerve. Well I thought I was ready to jump on it when I get down there and kept venturing up a step at a time and directly I got close enough. Oh, I felt like I could outrun anything there ever was. I thought I'd give it a kick and then run. When I kicked what do you reckon it was?

Jason: What's that?

Luke: A stump. Never had moved. I passed it going to school twice a day for no telling how many year never moved at all. I found out right there that when you got scared your eyes would lie you, cause I saw that thing a move.

Jason: Do you remember any other stories?

Luke: No. Oh I could tell all kinds.

Jason: Well go ahead. Think of one.

Luke: You may not have time to fool with it.

Jason: Oh I got plenty of time. If you got time.

Another Story

Luke: Well there was a…when Sam Newberry owned this place over here, the Bowling place, way back years ago. He had people cutting off uh the mountain boundary off up there, cutting the briars, thistles, and brush and stuff. and they was coming around the mountain up there way up next to the timber. Cutting that and there was a pretty good size rock. A great big rock there and right at the lower side of it came up they say'd the prettiest slick bark apple tree they had ever seen. It was the healthiest looking thing they ever saw and it was up nearly just as high as the rock. And uh whoever was a coming along there that was in their line of cutting said, "I'm not going to cut that apple tree I'm going to leave that." Said that might be worth something sometime. So he went on and left it and uh about the next fall or something like and after that, they was over there a squirrel hunting. They come along and found about 4 or 5 apples on the tree. GREAT BIG apples, and uh but some of them said I wonder how that apple got up here? There ain"t an apple tree up here nowhere and the only ones are the ones over there across at that house. How did that thing get up here. Now some said that an old mountain boomer carried it. You know what a mountain boomber is? A little red squirrel about half the size between a chipmunk and uh gray squirrel. Little red looking squirrel called a boomer. They stayed in the mountain all the time called them a mountain boomer. They said he carried it up there. So I don't know whether they got any apples that year, but they checked on it the next year and it had a few more and they was great big pretty apples, and they got them and brought them in. Man that was just a number 1 apple, there wasn't no others in the country like it and uh so uh in the spring of the year they went to getting grafts off the tree and grafting them trees around their houses. And uh Kirby's over here they got some a grafted them. It's been several years ago that I was talking to Mollie and she said there was mountain boomer apples out there that’s been there for over a hundred years. Now that all they ever know'd to call them, a mountain boomer, from then on they never knew no name or nothing. So we just called them mountain boomer apple. And that’s all they know. They got grafts around my Granddaddy Stowers over there, he grafted I don't know. 3 or 4, and my dad grafted some over here. There about gone anymore you don't see any. I tell you where Pauley there saw them. You know that one standing in Garden?

Travis: Yeah

Luke: That's a mountain boomer. That's a mountain boomer apple. There aint but a few of them around anymore. The younger people quit grafting and putting out more, and the older trees would die. So that just about disappeared the mountain boomer apple is about gone. Just three or four trees over here at Kirby's place still.

Jason: That's interesting. Do you remember any other stories?

Luke: No. Not right off.


Jason: All right. Tell me about you chores around the house?

Luke: Chores?

Jason: Yeah. What did you have to do? What were some of you chores?

Luke: When I was little?

Jason: Yeah.

Luke: Well, I had to get in wood. I had to pen the ducks, fasten up the chickens and maybe gather up the eggs, carry in wood, you got big enough you had to milk, feed the hogs, feed the cow foddering, just.

Jason: Which was your least favorite?

Luke: Least favorite?

Jason: Yeah

Luke: Having to get up.

Jason: Which one was your favorite chore?


Luke: Laying and sleeping. Which you never got to do. We had to get up early to get our work done and walk to school a long distance. And that was a one room school. One teacher and had seven grades. The first year that I went I learned my ABC's and to count to "100". The next year I learned to write my ABC's and my figures. and maybe spell little old words like "rat, cat, or bat" or something like that, just a few little ones they had what they call a primer you started off in that it was you beginning book. You had a premier and then you had a your first reader, second reader, third reader, fourth, and went on up to the fifth reader, reading books, and after you got up about uh well third grade they had you into spelling, and uh arithmetic something like that.

Jason: What were some of the other classes?

Luke: Other classes?

Jason: As you got older.

Luke: Well, never did uh that one room school, like that never did have nothing more than uh Virginia History and geography was about all they had, and that was about up in the sixth and seventh grade.

Jason: Is that as far as it went?

Luke: Yeah. That was as far as that one went. That was just a one room school and that teacher had her hands full. Teaching all them classes. That’s why the little ones didn't get much time with them.

Jason: Who was you teacher?

Luke: OH yeah I had several of them. Uh Mrs. Waddle she taught down there a many a times. Norma Wagner, old Dr. Wagner's daughter she taught there, and uh Mary Lizintene taught there, Bernice Nicholson taught there.

Jason: Where was this at, the school house?

Luke: Set right there, you might say in the middle of the road where the Bland Community Church is.

Jason: OK

Luke: The road went right around just hugged right around the fence of the schoolhouse.

Jason: How did the teachers make the students behave?

Luke: With a whip.

Jason: Did you ever get into trouble any?

Luke: Yes sir. I got a whippin' a many of times.

Jason: Do you remember what you did?

Luke: Oh yeah just been into something, I shouldn't have been into.

Jason: How were holidays celebrated at you school?

Luke: You got off uh I don't remember how many days we got off for Christmas, a few for Christmas and that was it.

Jason: Do you remember any funny stories in school or any pranks that were pulled?

Luke: No. Nothing really. I know they had this ink bucket and a dipper. Shelf nailed across corner of the schoolhouse from the corner of the door. And uh they'd uh. Some of the people around would bring a wagon load of wood for an old wood stove, and we'd unload it in the schoolhouse and pile it up in that corner, and when anybody wanted a drink we went over there and got that dipper up out of there and we drunk half of it it was all right if we didn't, it was all right and back in the bucket went the dipper. Everybody drank out of the same dipper and the same bucket. If we ran out of water, we'd send somebody over to the Kirby house over there to get another bucket of water.

Jason: Do you remember uh… Did your school put on any programs?

Luke: No. One time I think out there they put on…I don't remember which teacher that was…might have been Mary Lizzy Danewood…anyhow they had on a Christmas program there.

Jason: Can you remember what it was like?

Luke: Well it was sort of just like any other program. Had them up there them young ones holding them letters singing "S" is for this and that and another.

Jason: Did people from the community come and watch?

Luke: Yeah. There was several came in there from the community. Uh I think my dad and my oldest brother. Maybe somebody else I don't remember. They made music there for that Christmas program that one evening.

Jason: Did you play any sports at school?

Luke: No. Didn't have room.


Jason: Describe what your house was like? When you were growing up. Was it heated?

Luke: Yeah with an old fireplace. Fireplace downstairs no heat upstairs at all.

Jason: Did you have any running water?

Luke: Had a spring over there in the hill side. That was all the running water…you run to the spring and brought it back.

Jason: What did you cook your food on?

Luke: Cook stove.

Jason: How were your clothes washed and dried?

Luke: How was they washed?

Jason: Yeah

Luke: Mostly on an old washboard by hand up and down.

Jason: Where did you get your hair cut at?

Luke: Just around some of the neighbors. All then all you got was a short haircut. Just cut out of your eyes and ears trimmed it off some and on you went.

Jason: Did you have to go somewhere to get it cut?

Luke: My dad had a pair of clippers he'd cut it.

Jason: Did you have an outhouse?

Luke: Yeah.

Jason: What was that like?

Luke: Cold in the winter time.

Jason: Do you have any memories of that on a cold morning? The outhouse?

Luke: Yeah, I know you didn't stay any longer than you had to.

Jason: Describe your garden to me. What did you grow?

Luke: What?

Jason: Your garden?

Luke: Garden?

Jason: Yeah.

Luke: Oh, we growed a little bit of everything corn, beans and potatoes, all kinds of vegetables cucumbers and beets, onions, relish and celery we use to raise a big row of celery every year.

Jason: Do you remember what your favorite food was?

Luke: What was what?

Jason: What your favorite food was?

Luke: No.

Home Remedies

Jason: Do you remember any home remedies that your parents would use if you got sick?

Luke: Oh, yeah.

Jason: What were some of those?

Luke: Well uh. One of them if you had…they had a bunch of it they growed it out there in the garden and they called it tansy, green kind of ferny like plant, you complained your stomach or belly hurting you or something like that…they would go and get a bunch of them leaves beat em up, put em in a glass an pour water over it…water turned bright green looking, then you had that to drink. Now I can tell you where you can see a whole patch of that. There wasn't too much then but its got a hold now…back down here at my mailbox just look at all that big patch of green stuff over there in the bottom.

Jason: Oh yeah

Luke: Calimis. It's got roots on it in there. There's all kinds of roots in the ground in there. And they'd have a couple of them calimis roots. They cut you off a chew of that, and you had to chew that and eat it. And every so often they'd catch you up and give a dose of that ole (something) the nastiest stuff you ever tasted in all you life. Then they had the Yeagers Linament. All kinds of … cold medicine.


Jason: What were some of the games that you played when you where a child? Do you remember any?

Luke: Games played when?

Jason: When you were little when you were a child. Do you remember any games you played with your friends?

Luke: No. Like I told we just swing on grapevines swing. We'd gather up…there was six boys lived out Laurel out here, and three of us and we'd gather up maybe on a Sunday evening…One would get in front, we'd go to an old log or something like that and one would get in front. See how far you could go without touching the ground…step from this limb to that limb to another limb, and another one right behind you, you had to keep following the fat one…the limb broke or something like that and you'd have to go behind and somebody else took the lead. We'd crawl around through those old logs for hours like that.

Jason: Did you go fishing a lot?

Luke: No. Not too much I'd go once in a while. Generally the thing we had. My dad would just hire somebody to plow a piece of ground here and plant corn. Get somebody to plow it. Then we'd have to hoe that corn. He'd be gone to the sawmill or somewhere.

Jason: Did you ride sleds in the winter time?

Luke: Oh yeah.

Jason: What was that like?

Luke: Uh?

Jason: What was that like?

Luke: I never had one that had a guide on it, just get on and aim where you wanted to go and take off, and if it hit something and turned it why you just went the way it went. If we was getting in too much danger we'd roll off into the snow and let it go.

Jason: Did you ever build any bon fires or anything like that?

Luke: Sometimes they'd have a big bunch riding down the hill, they'd have a big fire like that, where there's women and a whole bunch standing around…where they didn't enough for them to be riding…they'd ride down and come back up and they'd stand by the fire and another would ride.

Jason: Did you have a best friend growing up?

Luke: What?

Jason: A best friend?

Luke: Best friend?

Jason: Yeah.

Luke: Well I reckon. I don’t know about my best friend going to school. In school I don't know whether you'd know him or not, he lives down there below Bland. His name is Davis Kirby.

Jason: Have any memories of them?

Luke: Oh yeah. I know if you got a whipping the other one got one. He wouldn't be satisfied till he got whipped. If I got a whippin' why Davis would get into something till she'd whip him.

Jason: Do you remember any other stories growing up?

Luke: Oh, I've had all kinds of experiences growing up. But couldn't tell them all.

Jason: Well how did teenagers court when you were younger?

Luke: General thing was we went to church. Church and back.

Jason: Did you go on dates any?

Luke: Uh?

Jason: Did you go on dates?

Luke: No. Hardly ever.

Jason: Did you ever go to the movies any?

Luke: Not much.

Jason: Do you remember the first movie that you saw?

Luke: Yeah. It was one of those old ones that you read off and I couldn't halfway keep up with it…missed about half of it.

Jason: Did they ever show movies in the community here?

Luke: No. No there wasn't nothing. You had to go to Wytheville to see a movie, or once in a while there would be a old carnival or something come down here at Bland they'd have a maybe an old movie down there that they would show in the tent.

Jason: Do you remember any places growing up that you weren't allowed to go?

Luke: Well there was a couple of places my dad didn't want us to go.

Jason: Did you end up going?

Luke: Hardly ever, once in a while we might edge in little bit…but if there had been anything a happen he'd really took pelt off of us.


Jason: How did you meet your wife?

Luke: Well I had a brother that was married down there and uh his wife and her was a number one buddies and uh they lived in Radford and they'd come up here they brought her along. She come up here. She came up in the fall of the year, and we picked up chesnuts up here at the north of the ridge. And I got acquainted with her that way.

Jason: Where were you married at?

Luke: Radford

Jason: Do you remember what the ceremony was like?

Luke: Well it just about like…just ordinary wasn't no fancy to it and that was uh 16th April 1938. That was on the Saturday before Easter and that was 63 years ago Monday.

Jason: Well happy anniversary. Do you remember who attended you wedding?

Luke: Well yeah. My brother-in-law and his wife, her sister.

Jason: Did you go on a honeymoon?

Luke: Yeah, around through East Radford.


Jason: How many children did you have?

Luke: Uh had four but we raised six? Raised two grandchildren.

Jason: And what were their names?

Luke: Which one?

Jason: The, your children.

Luke: L.S., what we called him, Luke Stevens was his name. He lives over here in Wytheville. He was have the oldest. Gerald was next, she lives in Williamsburg. Janice was next, she lives in Dayton. Joyce was next, and she live in Groseclose. Then the two grandchildren, why Robert, Rob Lambert. He live at Bridge water that’s right close to Dayton, and Becky married Chuck Chambers got this place out here, they live out there in Crab Orchard.

Jason: Do you think it was easier to raise children back then than it is today?

Luke: Yeah, I think so because they didn't have near as much to get into then as they do now. What near as much going on didn't have much ways to go and then why you could correct one and wasn't nothing said about it. Now the way I got it down whenever it comes down to where the law has to tell you how to raise your children…you can't do this and you can't do that…there ain't no wonder the schools and that are in the shape they are in. Now that’s a going right contrary against the Bible it says to "train up a child in the way it should go" and it says that "the rod of correction will drive them far from it." It says "spare the rod and spoil the child." Now you just to hit one they got you up for child abuse. Now there is law and stuff like that can't raise your children they can't raise them and if it goes on like that things are going to get worse instead of better. They ain't no use to tell one to do something …"I'm not a going to do it, you want it done do it yourself I'm not doing it"…what can you do about it? Well not if that had been back when we was growing up, one of said like that…"well I'm not going to do it do it yourself". They'd eat soup for two or three days because they would have mashed their mouth right then and there as quick as they could have slapped them right in the mouth. Now that was nothing unusual to see one with his lips busted. And when they told them to do something they done it.

The Community

Jason: What was the community like growing up here? When you were growing up here?

Luke: There wasn't much of a community here. From out there where you turned at that church you know Ron Hutzel's?

Jason: No

Luke: Well you know you turn this away up here on 620.

Jason: OK. Yeah

Luke: That church out there. Well from there till you got down here to my dad's there was 5 houses was all there was up this valley.

Jason: Wow.

Luke: And one of them nobody lived in part of the time. Main thing there was just four regular families that lived up through here because they'd be one in that other one that would move in and move out. But the other ones was they was there. Gerins were the first ones, Perky's was the next one, Uncle Peery Stowers was the next one, my dad my the next one. Down here at that house where Billy Baker lives, that’s where they'd just move in and move out, in and out.

Jason: What were the…was there any businesses in the area?

Luke: No.

Jason: Any stores or anything?

Luke: No, there wasn't no store. Where they had the old country stores. Mr. Robin had had that big store down there where Dell Davis lives. And then uh Mark Crabtree had a big one up the road here. Then Seldon Stowers built one over here later on years after them other ones went out of business and they got old and died.

Jason: Where did teenagers hang out when you where younger?

Luke: Mostly at home.

Jason: Mostly at home? Did you remember any stories of the teenagers getting into trouble? Anything like that?

Luke: No. No I don't remember. They was…later on up in years Ed Sadler up there he got a radio, that was when Nashville was just a coming on big, and it was one of them old battery radios. We generally go out there of a night on Saturday night and listen to the radio until it went off at midnight. Then you'd have to take that old battery the next week and have it charged up and fixed up ready for the next Saturday night. We'd gather up there, bunch of us would listen to the radio.

First Car

Travis: Do you remember the first car that you ever seen in Bland?

Luke: First car?

Travis: Yeah. Was it an old Model T?

Luke: No. the first one that was ever in Bland down here was that old one that Dr. Wagner had that had wheels on it like a buggy. Chain gear like a bicycle. They did have it…it was in that old garage down there at Dunn's. They took it for a long time. They'd work on it and get it to run. They'd run it on the fair ground over there during the fair for the last several years why they couldn't get it to run and they'd some of them pushed it around there. It had wheels on it like a buggy. It had a rubber tire little old tire like a buggy. Had no steering wheel. Had a lever that you guided it with. An old disk feed that just had forward and backwards. It had a disk feed like a sawmill where one wheel would run against another one.

Jason: Did you ever ride in one?

Luke: No, I never rode in it.


Jason: What was the weather like when you were growing up?

Luke: Rough.

Jason: Really?

Luke: Yeah.

Jason: How was it different than from today?

Luke: Oh my goodness we…you might say we hadn't had no winter this year.

Jason: I know.

Luke: Use to be there would be big snows that would fall and stay on the ground about all winter nearly…snow up to your knees. People would get a road broke. They'd get them a path broke to walk in.

Jason: Do you remember any stories about any snow storms or any floods?

Luke: No. I know Ruth Whimmer had that in the paper here just a while back. That was in 1960 that 42 was blocked from over here where you turn into 42 plum up Ceres. No travel on it what so ever. Must have been…and there was a drift right over there at that curve they cut the biggest part of the curve out now. But there was a curve over there just before you got to where that Sam Eaton house was…right smart curve, and there was a drift there they had to get that old snow blower from out of Tennessee to come open up the road they had nowhere to put the snow they pushed it back until they couldn't push it, and the roads had got blocked. That old blower had to blow it out in the field and they came up there to that well it would only take so much. Come to that drift and there it was they ran up against that drift, and uh some of them got out there in the front with shovels, and they cut down and that thing blowed it out in the field and they'd cut down as soon as they went through the drift and went on with the old snow blower.

Jason: What was you first job?

Luke: My first…oh I helped people when I was just a boy I'd help people in the hay.

Jason: Did you make any money?

Luke: Haul hay shocks. Maybe ten of fifteen cents. Maybe help them to thrashing machine. Haul sacks of something for them and then thrash a day longer and they'd maybe give you a dime. But I worked for years and years and years. Dollar a day on the farm and around or whatever.

Jason: Tell me how your family celebrated Christmas?

Luke: Hang our socks up to the fire place on a nail have maybe and orange in it…apple, or maybe just an orange and a couple of sticks of candy.

Jason: Did you have a Christmas tree?

Luke: No. Never did have a Christmas tree at home when I was growing up.

Jason: Describe what the meal was like?

Luke: Uh?

Jason: Describe what the meal was like.

Luke: The meal?

Good Eating

Jason: What did you eat?

Luke: Oh, that depended a whole lot on the weather. We generally my mother did a lot of cooking on that fireplace she had an old oven that she baked her cornbread in. Had an old big iron pot that she cooked her beans or cabbage or rudabagers or whatever she was a cooking, she cooked them in that. Make that oven cornbread and along about four at suppertime why we'd go out and bring in a dozen or so potatoes. Put the potatoes in the fireplace and cover them over with hot ashes. Till you see the steam blowing up out of them, reckon they'd be done plum through and they'd bring in a crock of milk. And the butter dish of butter. We set right there before that big old fireplace, eat cornbread and butter, and cornbread and milk, potatoes and butter, or whatever was in the pot: beans, cabbage or whatnot. And that was just about as good a meal then than a feller would want.

Jason: What about Halloween. Do you remember any…

Luke: Oh yeah I've got out on Halloween and done a few mean tricks.

Jason: What were some of those?

Luke: Well…

Jason: Tell me some of the stories.

Jason: What was that?

Luke: There was a feller right out just above the road was a getting his winter's wood and he had a sawhorse, to lay stuff up in it you know, and saw it, and he had his wood worked up and uh his sawhorse was still yet there. And me and another feller came along and there was an old walnut tree stood there, right at where he was getting his wood. He handed me the sawhorse and I drug it through the limbs and hung it up there. And that was in the fall of the year when they was getting their wood up for winter. Next spring why they hired me to help him put out a crop to plow for corn. And that field that the walnut tree was at uh there was 15 acres in it and he was going to plow it. So we went out there and raked up all the old chips bark and stuff up there where he cut the wood. We took outr plows up there and got started to plowing one evening, he said "might as well get my sawhorse and take it to the house." He pulled around there under the walnut tree, he said would you go up there and get it down. I never let on I went up the walnut tree and got the sawhorse brought it down and put it in the wagon. We took it on to the house. So I took it up and took it down too.

Jason: What other holidays were celebrated. Fourth of July, Easter do you remember any…

Luke: I … not much. We generally always put out a right smart buckwheat and we'd have to have that sown by the last of June… if we didn't why one time they was having something down here at Bland on the fourth of July. I don't know my mother and dad went to it and uh me and Elmer stayed here and we plowed all day long on the ridge up there for buckweet. Fourth of July we got the fields plowed that day with a yoke of oxen. First team we ever had was a yoke of oxen. And I mean they was real to…they wasn't nothing sorry about them.

Jason: Do you remember any of the women in the community getting together and gossip?

Luke: Well I don't know what the women…I reckon they got together they'd have quilt parties and stuff like that during the winter sometimes but…course I guess they did some gossiping too.


Jason: Who was the first President that you can remember?

Luke: Warren G. Harding. The only thing that I remember about him was … my dad had been down there at Bland he came back in they had those badge then, and he pinned one on me I was just a little feller. I was just a little feller he pinned one of them badges on me of course he told me what it said…"Warren G. Harding for President." And about the main one I remember in action like that was Calvin Coolidge.

Jason: Who was your favorite movie star growing up did you have one?

Luke: I didn't have one.

Jason: Do you remember any dances in the community?

Luke: Oh yeah we'd have a dance once in a while.

Jason: Where would they get together at?

Luke: Just at somebodys house.

Jason: What kind of music did you listen to?

Luke: They'd always have someone or two playing the fiddle uh mandolin, guitar such like that.

Jason: Do you remember World War I?

Luke: World War I?

Jason: Yeah.

Luke: I can remember part of it.

Jason: Did anyone in you family have to go?

Luke: No. I had a brother who would have had to went about a week or something like it; it was over. But they never called up the last calling.

Jason: Did you family support the war?

Luke: Support the war?

Jason: Yeah. Did you family support the war?

Luke: Well I never heard much said about it I wasn't big enough to know to much no how.

Jason: What were the 1920s like. Do you remember anything about President Harding and the Teapot Dome Scandal?

Luke: (Shake his head NO).

Jason: Do you remember when women got to vote?

Luke: Yeah.

Jason: How did you feel about that?

Luke: It didn't make no difference to me.

Jason: Did you like Calvin Coolidge?

Luke: Yeah, he done alright.

Jason: What about Hoover?

Luke: Well uh Hoover had a whole lot against him and he was the last one for year to pay anything on the war debt. He paid on that and runned them down short.

Jason: Where you're people Democrats or Republicans?

Luke: Mostly Republicans.

Jason: Do you remember when the stock market crashed?

Luke: No. That was in 28, 29, 30? It was during President Hoovers time. He was President from 28-32. And he was the last President ever to run on a bone-dry ticket. He was the last one to ever run. Roosevelt came up and he was for bringing back our alcohol and beer and stuff like that, they called that a wet-ticket. Hoover ran on a dry-ticket.

Jason: Oh. OK.

Luke: No prohibition.

Jason: What was it like during the Great Depression?

Luke: Well I never had no trouble I worked like I said about a dollar day I worked the whole time. We had our stuff all raised and if you got five dollars you'd go to the store and buy all you could carry. Two pound of coffee for a quarter, sugar for four or five cents a pound, got about one hundred pound you'd get it for about three dollars for a hundred pound of sugar, course they didn't have no electricity, about every time you'd go to the store you'd have to take your kerosene can along get you some kerosene for you lamps. But I made it fine as far as that is concerned. I never saw no difference. Course now somebody with a family might have saw some difference.

Jason: How did you feel about Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal?

Luke: Well, in a way it kind of ruined the United States. Cause some many people got to expecting something for nothing.

Jason: Do you feel he helped the country during hard times?

Luke: Oh yeah, he give jobs and money but they was going in debt to do it.

Jason: Did and of his programs like WPA, PWA, or CCC help the people of Bland County.

Luke: Oh yeah.

Travis: It built the Wagner Auditorium.

Luke: Uh?

Travis: It built the Wagner Auditoruim.

Luke: They went around they built outhouses for people. All you had to do was get the lumber and stuff and they'd dig a hole. And they went around salting these old barber bushes. And then they'd paid you so much and I was in the agricultural department…they paid you so much to put out lime. They had the places that ground lime for people. That was kind of like that uh Correction Center that moved down there at Bland you know they had that that big lime plant over there from Central Church.

Jason: Do you remember when FDR died?

Luke: Uh. I was around when it happened but I just can't call you the time.

Jason: What were some of your favorite shows on the radio?

Luke: Uh. Grand Ole Opray. Well I liked that ole Amos and Andy them there was good programs. Amos and Andy first started out Two Black Crows and that didn't make a hit and then they went to Amos and Andy. Old Lightening he'd always whiz on out of there. He was a taxi cab driver.

Jason: When did you first get electricity?

Luke: Uh. I don't know it'd been…it was around maybe in 60.

Jason: How did that change your life?

Luke: Oh that helped out a whole lot in the lighting business. But I didn't have too many electrical appliances. I got a refrigerator and that came in handy about that. And then a little on I got a freezer, keep stuff in. That was all I had for a while then I finally got a microwave.

Jason: When did you get a telephone?

Luke: I don't know what year it was. I don't remember the year. We got the telephone along pretty close to the time we got power.

Jason: How did it work?

Luke: It worked fairly well. I never got one for several years after they cam around.

Jason: When did you first get television?

Luke: I don't know. I've had that a long time. It wasn't too long after we got electricity.

Jason: What were some of the shows that you watched on the television? Can you remember any?

Luke: No.

Jason: How do you think TV changed things today?

Luke: A big lot.

Jason: In what ways?

Luke: For one thing…the big thing that I see is the language that they use now. When I was growing up if a feller used some of the words that they used right there he got his mouth mashed right then. You didn't have filthy talk around then.

Jason: Do you remember where you where when you heard that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor?

Luke: Yeah ,I know where I was at.

Jason: Where was you?

Luke: Radford.

Jason: How did you feel about that.

Luke: Well now I was expecting it. We went down there on Saturday and I told my brother-in-law down there…he said something about…I said it wouldn't surprise me for Japan to jump on United States anytime it wouldn't surprise me a bit. Sunday evening he sent one of his girls to tell me to come over there to listen what was on the radio. Went over there and that was when they bombed Pearl Harbor.

Jason: Did anybody in your family have to fight in World War II?

Luke: Yeah. Had a two nephews. That was in service.

Jason: What was it like during the war at home?

Luke: It made a little change.

Jason: Did everyone support the war?

Luke: Yeah, I think most of them did.

Jason: Where were you if you can remember when you heard that the Germans had surrendered?

Luke: I don't remember where about the Germans or the Italians either.

Jason: What was your reaction when you heard that the atomic bomb had been dropped on the Japanese?

Luke: Well I thought they got what they deserved.

Jason: How did people around here feel about President Truman?

Luke: Well like any other they had mixed opinions.

Jason: Did people support the Korean War?

Luke: Well some. I had a nephew that was in that. He was in there on the White Horse Ridge.

Jason: Can you remember any stories that he had ever told you?

Luke: He never told me any.

Jason: How did you feel about President Eisenhower?

Luke: Well I think he done a pretty good job.

Jason: Where the times good in Bland County during the 1950's?

Luke: Oh yeah. Yeah they've been. They ain't been too bad of times for right smart while. About the one I figured that done the least was Jimmy Carter. Cause Billy got more praise and lift up then the President did. Billy and his beer. He ran through with his peanut factory.

Jason: What did you think about President Kennedy?

Luke: Something else.

Jason: Do you remember where he was when you heard he was shot?

Luke: Yeah. I was in Wytheville.

Jason: How did you feel?

Luke: Well I just felt like he got shot. Live or die and he died.

Jason: How did people feel about President Johnson? Can you remember?

Luke: Uh. Lindenburg. I don't know I think that was kind of like up to date. I think his wife had a big part in his decisions and stuff.

Jason: Did any of your family have to fight in the Vietnam War?

Luke: No

Jason: Do you remember much about President Nixon or Watergate?

Luke: No I remember a little bit.

Jason: What did you think about that?

Luke: Well I think we've had scandals three times worse than that since then.

Jason: What kind of shape do you think our country's in today?

Luke: Bad

Jason: Has it changed for better or for worse.

Luke: Bad

Jason: In what way do you think?

Luke: Well. There was that mix up with China. And there is that fishing vessel of Japans their fussed up about that.

Jason: Well is there anything else you'd like to add about you life in Bland County?

Luke: No. Reckon I just had a long life. It's been rough for the last three or four years. But I've had a goodin' on up till then.

Jason: Is there any advice you'd give young people today?

Luke: Well, yes I'd give them some advice. Not to be like them to be like the example that's been set before them in the last little while that they can do what they want to and get by with it. If you got money and the right kind of lawyer why you can do anything you want to and get by with it. That's been Clinton plan ever since he started off as governor way down there. He's been into everything and got out of all of it.

Travis: He even let those ones get out of jail.

Luke: And then he went and pardoned all them there. So that there is a bad example to set before people. That you can do anything you want to…you can lie on oath and everything like that, and get by with it.

Jason: That's true

Luke: Not just saying anything about politics just. So that right there set the worst example for young people of anybody that been in the White House. And then I reckon when he left there he took about everything there was.

Jason: That's true.

Luke: Said he took a … said he took a painting that Woodrow Wilson had put in there. He took Thomas Jefferson's mustache mug.

Jason: Well can you remember any other stories.

Luke: No.

Jason: Any other interesting things?

Luke: No that's about all I reckon.

Jason: Well all right.

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copyright©bland county history archives all rights reserved 2000

copyright©bland county history archives all rights reserved 2000

proofread 1 a gore j darby proofread 2 a looney